Heartfelt tributes to selfless love

It's early morning in Austin. The sunrise, visible now and then between the buildings, is spectacular. The air is cold, which is unusual, but the natives seem to be enjoying the chance to wear coats and scarves that rarely see the light of day.

I walk past an empty deli followed by a collection of offices coming to life with early arrivals. Traffic is picking up and brave, bundled cyclists whiz by with well-earned bravado. The coffee shops approach capacity.

I turn onto Congress Avenue and start walking north. The Texas State Capitol sits a few blocks away, imposing at any distance. The government blue of the U.S. Post Office sign greets me and I speed to get through the door and out of the cold. People from nearby companies shuffle past me, arms full of envelopes and packages, as I look for the small box near the top row with 2682 on it.

There's a moment of anticipation just before I open it. Inside, sits a colorful pile of Uncommon postcards. It never occurs to me to save them to read later; they are irresistible. There are names of people I've known for years and others I've yet to meet; postmarks from Boston, Portland, and Southampton. I note the many different pen choices and laugh as I struggle to decipher handwriting; heartfelt thoughts pushed up against the boundaries of the postcards. I delight in phrases like "un-stifleable laughter" and "I met a girl, the kind you can't see past".

Postcards in hand, I retrace my steps. My progress slowed by a stoplight, I notice the variety of buildings and shops at the intersection; a restaurant still with chairs on top of the tables, a hip design studio, an old stone church. The walk signal changes and I continue on. A sign in front of the church catches my eye: "Deliberately diverse and fully inclusive."

I turn toward my office, marveling at this community and all of you who breathe life into it.

As part of our unusual beginning, founding members received three postcards to complete and return. What they share will be featured when the site debuts.


Last week's dispatch asked, What movie do you wish everyone would see?

Nick wrote:

Probably Le Samouraï, a French film about a hired assassin. Underserved outside film buff circles, but it's really entertaining and beautifully shot.

Lori wrote:

Though I wish my pick was more original, it has to be To Kill a Mockingbird. I'll never forget the first time I saw it. It was one of those free residence hall movies during college. Walking home, I was dumbfounded by what we had just experienced. That movie has shaped me, from its fun sense of humor to its plain-spoken kindness, to the humbling realization that people are so much more than they first appear.

Ryan wrote:

I have this movie-going habit I picked up from my Dad. When I have a few hours to burn in the middle of the day, I go to the nearest theater and buy a ticket to the movie that starts the soonest. I'd like to weave an intricate tale of how well this works out, and the joy of the unknown, and the taste of the popcorn, etc. Truth be told, most of the time I end up watching canned action movie garbage that's nothing more than 2 hours of fireballs and threats. But every so often, I luck out and feel like a better person leaving the theater than when I walked in. Cave of Forgotten Dreams was precisely that experience. This latest documentary from Werner Herzog is by far the most intimate, yet most expansive theater experience I've had in ages. It's a simple premise, really. Here's an old cave full of drawings. Let's film it. Oh wait. The drawings on these cave walls show accurate perspective modern man can understand. And foreshortening. And atmospheric perspective. And animals breathing heavily while running. And the first example of anthropomorphism. And they're 30,000 years older than anything previously discovered. But underneath the mind-numbing historical facts and the interviews with scientists and artists and researchers who have dedicated their lives to understanding the cave lies a very ancient and familiarly modern human story. A story of people searching for purpose. Not just base survival, or fear, or grasping for control over the uncontrollable, but purpose. The kind of purpose that we all feel. We don't want to just survive. We all want to experience things. And grow so we can learn new things. And maybe, just maybe learn enough things that we teach others the benefits of following the same path, wherever that may lead them. Thanks, Dad. Go see the movie, folks.

Lora wrote:

Roman Holiday. The first 90 minutes are light comedy and darling adventures through the sights of Rome, but then the final scenes of the movie are one of the most heartfelt tributes to selfless love in all of Hollywood. Audrey Hepburn conveys a universe of emotions in a single glance. I could go on and on about what I love specifically and why (and often do, after I've sat someone down and made them watch this) but this is hardly the proper place for that.

Adam wrote:

I wish everyone would see Bernie. It's an endearing look at the Texas I know through my family. Plus there's a delightful tale of a happy little murder.

Mona wrote:

I'm having a tough time answering this question because my all time favourite movie (The Return by director Andrey Zvyagintsev) is not for everyone. It's a gut-wrenching drama with subtitles and an untidy ending. And then I thought, maybe most people want to see something inspirational and the last inspirational film was the 2011 documentary, Pina, which I've watched 5 times already and it makes me cry every freaking time.

Josh wrote:

Dust to Glory -- a very fun watch, so much so, that I've probably watched it close to 20 times. No other film captures the adrenaline and excitement of off-roading on two wheels (or 4 wheels, if that's your thing) like this one does.

Drew wrote:

Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein. It is in black and white, it features Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman and the incomparable, Madeline Kahn. It takes the macabre Frankenstein story and twists it beautifully into a pretzel of hilarity, poignancy and song and dance! Who could ask for anything more. In a world full of chaos, drama, and often, tragedy, we could all use a little dose of the off-the-wall. Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: "For what we are about to see next, we must enter quietly into the realm of genius."

Adam wrote:

I'm not even sure how to begin suggesting one movie that everyone should see. I have many favorites, no doubt, but I would want the one I suggest to be as broadly appealing and universally important as possible. Perhaps my favorite of all time Good Will Hunting turns 15 this year (a fun retrospective interview with Matt and Ben). But I'm not convinced its an "everyone" sort of movie. The other movie that comes to mind isn't an "everyone" movie either, but it's remarkable. Life Is Beautiful. An Italian film, it is the story of a how a man shields his son from the horrors of war while living in a concentration camp in Germany during WW2. It sounds devastating, and it is, but the beauty that comes through from the unrelenting father is just staggering. The whimsy, charm, and selfless warmth of the father truly makes life beautiful for his son while in the midst of one of the darkest experiences in human history.<br><br>I think we need more stories like this - ones that don't try to deny the sometimes brutal reality of life, but that also inspire and long for resilient, selfless heroes to make life beautiful, drenching with hope.

Brad wrote:

I find that the best movies are personal. They do more than tell a story, convey an emotion or impart some wisdom. They transform perspective. Each person has a different perspective on the world, and each of those will be transformed in different ways, under different circumstances. The best movies are personal because they move something deep inside one's psyche—one's self. For this reason, I find that the best movies to me rarely translate well to others, even those under similar circumstances. One of the best movies for me is Y Tu Mamá También. I also realize that the prompt asked which movie I would like everyone to see, but it reminded me of the best movies. The movie that I would like everyone to see is Love Actually, a story about happiness and love so contagious and joyful that I make it a point of watching it every winter with my wife.

Sandi wrote:

People Like Us has a boring cover and title, which is probably why it's been overlooked. It's a good one if you're looking for a mainstream "messy" drama. The kid's humor is hilarious. The Vow will induce deep emotion if your heart is open to feeling what that couple feels. It's based on an incredibly amazing true story. My all-time childhood favorite is The Wizard of Oz for many reasons. One, I believe it's important to escape reality now and then, and learn something while away. Two, pay attention to your dreams. The movie I'm most looking forward to seeing though, is "The Fallen", a thriller my husband and I are writing and producing. It's already been a terribly challenging and fun experience, and we haven't even started shooting yet. If I had to guess what my 2013 highlight will be, I'd say it will be learning so much about the art of story-telling through film.

Asad wrote:

Big Fish

Pat wrote:

Kinky Boots is one of my favs.

Keith wrote:

A Perfect World. One of the great unsung movies of the past 25yrs. It's startling and heart breaking. It might be one of Costner's greatest roles. Last of the Mohicans. The beautiful scenery and cinematography in this film are enough to make this a masterpiece but the story of love overcoming in rough colonial America makes this a film not to miss. It's one that both men and women both love.

J Nicholas wrote:

Melvin Goes to Dinner. A movie that is ostensibly just a single conversation around a dinner table, but is obviously much more than that, and fascinating. Dancer in the Dark. If I was to describe this movie to an 8-year old, it would be: "F...... intense." There is no other way to put it (even to an 8-year old). It's the best movie that I would have a hard time watching again, it is so emotionally raw. Also, it stars Bjork.

Brian wrote:

The Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart. The film has been a favorite since I first saw it in high school. I love everything about it, from the first scene to the last. It's a tense, taut film with wonderful dialogue and a terrific mix of characters.

News and such

We're having a wonderful time working on the site. Images and ideas, words and code, bounce from Campfire to Basecamp, GitHub to Heroku, Bergen to Birmingham, Atlanta to Austin. I find myself constantly amazed by the talent and care that Brad, Marius, Lisa, and Brian bring. Time and again, they push for the best possible Uncommon.

Our focus is on the design foundation (fonts, navigation, footer), framework choices (Slim, Sass, Bootstrap — each of which I imagine as members of a jazz trio), and the data model. All of these play a part in the page that will display your 10 Favorite Things. Once it's reached a happy place, this page will serve as the basis for others.

Uncommon reads

I think I’m ready to do something else now by elle luna:

It was fun. It was play. It was just what I wanted to do. So I did it. And I painted until I was done. The paintings weren’t finished, but I was.

Your turn

What is one of your favorite memories of being cold?