tuesdays with morrie schwartz and the little wave

AT OUR HOUSE, we watch a lot of movies, but never any actual television shows—at least as they are being broadcast. We don’t have cable and our set isn’t set up to pick up local stations. We do pick up highly recommended tv series on DVD and then we binge-watch!

You don’t understand! We’re all going to crash!! All of us are going to be nothing!!!

We have recently enjoyed Ally McBeal (keep in mind that no matter their age, these shows are ‘new’ to us), Six Feet Under, Weeds (great balls of fire but Mary-Louise Parker gets more lovely as she ages), The Big Bang Theory (still in progress), The Big C, and Third Rock From The Sun (which tends towards the tedious).

We are currently watching the third season of the complete Seinfeld. Does anyone not from the East Coast (the “East Coast” being those states from Maryland through Maine) understand the motivation of these people and the ‘in’ humor?

It’s kinda like trying to find a Woody Allen fan who was born outside of that same East Coast—I know they exist, but they sure seem hard to find at times, even here in the liberal and intellectual Pacific Northwest.

Little Wave: photo of Calista Flockhart as Ally McBeal.

Calista Flockhart as Ally McBeal, a show that was part comedy and part drama with touches of surrealism that made it stand out from all its competition.

A few series that we own

We even buy movies on DVD, usually used copies. As more and more modern viewers become ever more engaged with the advances in technology and watch their movies via streaming, it’s getting easier to buy used DVDs for a buck or two!

The complete Northern Exposure was one of our first acquisition. As Berni lived in Alaska for fifteen years, this lovely show—worth watching if only for Chris-in-the-morning and Marilyn Whirlwind—will probably always be her personal fave.

We absolutely loved the hints of science fiction or fantasy that seemed the foundation of the initially great Lost. But even though the script and the concept got lost along the way, we bought the set and some of the extras justified the cost!

Our current ‘all-time’ favorite is Firefly, which we saw in response to stumbling over the movie Serenity. We were both amazed by seeing that on the big screen; I remarked while leaving the theater, I remarked that it was one of the best science fiction-based action movies I had ever seen and Berni concurred!

But that’s another story.

Mostly, we pull our viewing material from the King County Library System, considered one of the finest such systems in the country.

Little Wave: photo of Morrie Schwartz and Mitch Albom.

Morrie and Mitch.

So we watch a lot of movies

Because we watch no tv, we get to see a lot of movies. The plus is obvious: we see many, many movies that are relatively obscure but are more than memorable. A fave that love to recommend is Cold Comfort Farm, which stars an absolutely delightful young Kate Beckinsale (who doesn’t look or act or feel remotely like the person with the same name who has made a career out of starring in eminently forgettable action movies).

Recently we watched Tuesdays With Morrie, starring Jack Lemmon as Morrie Schwartz, and Hank Azaria as Mitch Albom. Schwartz was a sociology professor at Brandeis University, and the movie is based on observations that he made while dying of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

“If you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them, too—even when you’re in the dark.” – Morrie Schwartz

Morrie’s recollections, observations, and anecdotes were collected into a book titled Letting Go – Reflections On Living While Dying (1996). This was followed a year later by Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom. 1

Albom was one of Morrie’s favorite students, but been out of touch with his mentor for years. When he pays Morrie a surprise visit, he learns that his teacher is in the final stages of dying. Tuesday visits with Morrie become routine, and the teacher makes his final project a series of ‘lessons’ to teach Mitch how to live life.

The book and the film recognize Morrie’s indefatigable spirit, despite the fatigue that his body was undergoing during the final months of his life. Morrie’s puckish sense of humor colors each lesson.

Little Wave: Front cover of first edition hardcover of TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE.

Fist edition hardcover of Tuesdays With Morrie (Doubleday, 1997).

All part of something bigger

Morrie relays a little story that had me pressing the backward button on the remote control to hear it again. And again. I have told this briefest of stories to several friends (modestly edited by me).

“A little wave is bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. He’s enjoying the wind and the fresh air—until he notices the other waves in front of him, crashing against the shore.

‘My God, this is terrible,’ the little wave thinks. ‘Look what’s going to happen to me!’

Then along comes another, bigger wave. It sees the little wave looking grim, and says to him, ‘Why do you look so sad?’

The little wave says, ‘You don’t understand! We’re all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn’t it terrible?’

The bigger wave says, ‘No, you don’t understand. You’re not a wave, you’re part of the ocean.’ ”

Get it?

We’re not alone.

We’re all part of something bigger . . .

Little Wave: photo of Jack Lemmon and Hank Azaria in a scene from TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE.

FEATURED IMAGE: Morrie (Jack Lemmon) having a day out and about with Mitch (Hank Azaria) in a scene from Tuesdays With Morrie. Lemmon played the part to perfection, but as the film was made for television, he could not be nominated for an Academy Award. However, he did win an Emmy. It was Lemmon’s last film before he died and should stand as a tribute to the actor, as Being There does for Peter Sellers. 2

If you're ever going to have people trust you, you must feel you can trust them, too. Click To Tweet


1   After the success of Tuesdays With Morrie, the earlier Letting Go was republished as Morrie – In His Own Words.

2   Alas, being a made-for-tv movie, Tuesdays With Morrie has not received the acclamation that Sellers’ movie did . . .


2 Replies to “tuesdays with morrie schwartz and the little wave”

  1. Bravo! More reviews please. This was most entertaining and motivating. Pam and I went without TV for the last eight years in Key West. We did the same as you guys. Netflix, library $1 garage sale DVDs, etc. Your story of Morrie is excellent. I will try and see it while we are on the road. Also, one of my all time favorites is Being There. Perhaps it is because, when it comes to DVD movies, I LIKE TO WATCH ! ! !

    1. I was a Jerzy Kosinski nut for his first half dozen novels (which he may not have actually written, but that’s another story). The novel BEING THERE is actually a bit of a diatribe against the effects of too much television viewing on a NORMAL human being and is not as “gentle” as the movie. But it probably would not have worked in its original incarnation, so Kosinski rewrote it for the screenplay. The story of how Sellers got the legendarily anti-Hollywood author to turn BEING THERE into a movie is delightful!

      Other recent viewings that both B and I recommend highly include THE INTOUCHABLES (French with subtitles only), THE SOLOIST (Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey), THE CAVEMAN’S VALENTINE (Samuel L. Jackson), DJANGO UNLEASHED (Jamie Foxx again but the supporting cast steals most of the scenes), HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (Holly Hunter among other fine players), and the ever-watcahable HOME ALONE.

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