Coping: The Robin Landry Film Festival

One of the highlights of our trip up to Tulsa (other than the Tom Jones concert in Monday’s column) was to learn my friend Robin Landry – besides being an investment ace, also had a serious film career in college.

If you click over to YouTube here, you can see the 1972 movie 30 Dangerous Seconds starring Robert Lansing.

To be sure, he didn’t have much time on-screen, only a passing few seconds around the 2:26 mark.

(continues below)


That was right near the opening and he’s the fellow on the right…here in the bar scene:

Pardon the fuzziness, but this was in times long before UHD.  Looks more biker than broker, for sure.  That was then….now he’s this fellow.

The point of this is that it’s what people do over the long-term that makes them exceptional.  And we are blessed with some truly exceptional friends.  Landry’s a great example.

Out of school, he went into the US Navy and got his “dolphins” in the Submarine Service.  If you’ve ever watched any of the classic submarine movies, he was a real-life version of the sonar man – the “ears of the boat.”

Except, unlike the movies, Landry was the “ears” of the USS Swordfish.  And if that name rings a bell, it’s because of what happened to the boat in 1968:

“On 8 March 1968, K-129, a Soviet Golf-II class submarine, sank northwest of Oahu. On 17 March, Swordfish put into Yokosuka, Japan, for emergency repairs to a bent periscope. The United States Navy states that Swordfish was damaged in an ice pack and that K-129, with her nuclear missiles and crew of 98, was destroyed by an internal explosion, perhaps hydrogen from its batteries, perhaps a torpedo, while some 2000 miles (3,000 km) distant from Swordfish.”

Except, not quite.

The facts – which have been published elsewhere – go to a tale of subs stalking one-another in the Cold War and what happens when a “Crazy Ivan” maneuver – pulled by the Russian boat – goes wrong.  To this day, Landry will only talk about what’s been cleared officially.  Lots of stories from the Cold War may never be told.

Because of the technology race, the US poured a lot of money into recovering parts (and bodies) from the Russian sub. That included the recovery ship Glomar Explorer – run by Howard Hughes outfit.  Turning over parts and details to the Russians in 2007.

That’s a bit far-afield from our discussion this morning – which, if you hadn’t figured it – has little to do with Landry’s short-lived film career.  But rather about how some people live almost magical lives of high adventure because as they seem to float from one adventure to the next.

After the Navy hitch, Landry went on to finish his BA (radio, television, film) and OK State – which is how he became involved in the Robert Lansing movie.

But his pursuit of adventure didn’t stop there.  Completing his MBA, he was recruited by a big national life insurance company (*NY Life) and went to three days of intense interviews in New York.  Offered a job, as there #1 candidate, the bad news was he and his young wife would have had to live in New York City.

It’s wasn’t a good place to raise a family, so they headed back to Oklahoma where in no time, Landry was a “land man” for Texaco.  After doing in three weeks what other “land men” hadn’t been able to get done in six-months, he got serious about looking at the career path of a “land man.”  It wasn’t very encouraging.  Salaries tended to cap out quickly.

Out went the resumes, and in no time, he was offered a job by Merrill-Lynch and ended up as one of their brightest stars at a time when Merrill had signed others of high reputation – including Robert Prechter on their team.

Now we come to the point:  Landry’s a solid example of the successful, multiple-career approach to life.  For him, it’s been like going through the smorgasbord line and selecting the most interesting things available.

There are some people who manage their lives this way, but maybe only 20% of the population.

The rest don’t actually hustle and work their tails off…getting the grades, degrees, and personal experience that allows them to rise above the herd of “average.”

In today’s world, one of the joys of our remote life is we don’t have to suffer self-limiting people.  We’re picky.

We’re not taken with head-down coders and the like, who don’t get up, walk around and actually do interesting things with their off-screen lives.

One of the reasons Elaine and I get along so well is because she’s done a hell of a lot, too.

I don’t advertise her skills, but she’s been a bank loan processor, teller, welder on a water-drilling crew, exotic dancer, rodeo timer, masseuse, helped manage a restaurant…well, her list is long.

Again, notice that she went through the smorgasbord line?

Going through the smorgasbord line allows you to pick out a lot of different adventures.  Each will gift certain useful skills.

Landry mentioned in passing while we were kicking around “next adventures” – that for him and his Mrs. they’re looking at a travel trailer so as to get out and tour America.

My buddy “the major (whose name, oddly, is also Robin) is doing the same thing up in Washington.  Small 20-odd footer – small enough to be flexible and maneuverable in campgrounds – and heading out to parts unknown.  My buddy Gaye and her SurvivalHubby, too,  are doing the same thing over in Arizona:  Heading out in  their micro-trailer.

I’ll try to paraphrase what Landry was getting at:  “People meet me and see the finance guy.  But I’m a whole lot more than that…

People today miss a lot of the resources that can share skills and make them better people…and I think it’s because people today are hooked on the ego-heroin of #metooism.

This very topic came up in the news flow at where Kanye West is now  urging people to “put down their phones” and engage life more directly and personally.

West’s four-hour long documentary is titled “The Century of Self” is exactly what we’re talking about here.

The take-away, to be clear, is that we live in a time where there’s a serious social danger to being part of the digital lynch mob.

The cure – personal rehab – is simple:  Actually DO things and when you meet people!  Don’t take a superficial interest in them.  Dig down – as many layers as you can – to find our what they’re really all about.  Honestly, it’s like panning for gold in a lot of ways.

Landry isn’t a big-name film star.  While he rocks in finance, there’s a lot more to him than meets the eye.  That’s the special part.

You’ll never find out about people of his ilk.  They don’t “friend” people on social(ist) media.  You have to sit down, look ’em in the eye and listen to their stories.  Ask questions – dig deeper.  Like that blues man at the concert I told you about yesterday.

“You have two ears and two eyes, but only one mouth.  Therefore, you should be looking and listening about four times as much as you’re talking.

Once upon a time, this was a core American value.

Long ago, in a formerly great land…the word “Life” used to mean something. For now, there are still a few  extraordinary people around.  But get ’em while you can.  Pick their brains, learn from their mistake and their successes.  The Greatest Generation won’t be around forever.  There’s one last smorgasbord line…dessert!

Write when you get rich,

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George Ure
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5 thoughts on “Coping: The Robin Landry Film Festival”

  1. Suggestion:

    (1) Make a list of Everything you’re either very good at, or that you particularly enjoy. Don’t be inhibited, but include everything from maybe photography to locksmithing to driving bumper cars at Funland. Don’t focus on just the “profitable” or the “practical.” Everything. It should be quite a long list.

    (2) Find ways to interview people who work in these fields — listen to the positives as well as the negatives, and ask, “why” a lot. It draws people out. You’ll be amazed as what-all you learn.

    (3) Ask every interviewee who else you should talk to. (follow-up questions are the Secret Key to many things…)

    (4) Study what you’ve learned. (You WERE taking notes, right?) Rinse and repeat and do the obvious follow-ups.

    You will discover two things from all this.

    (1) You will have vastly expanded your network of contacts — and the likelihood of referrals and “guys who know guys” who know about you and how you’re looking for Something.

    (2) “Jobs,” if you want to call them that, will come hunting for YOU. Most of these connections will be unexpected, unsuspected, and literally from out of left field and seemingly Unrelated to your Quest. In this Pile will be good ones and bad ones. Act thoughtfully but decisively.

    Most of your “re-entrant input” will be mysterious as to where it came from, or to the details of the connections that lead to them. Remember The Butterfly Effect. It’s true.

    • Excellent post. In life if you keep stiring up the pot, good things will happen.

      I like to setting small goals for myself during the day. When they are done, it gives you a good feeling & you can move on to the next. The feeling is better than taking a nap.

    • Nicely said. There’s a balance between what you can do and what you want to share regarding what you can do. Nobody likes a braggart. On a resume, I delete much of my life because it just confuses readers. At a cocktail party, I’m still stuck as to how to answer “What do you do?”. The answer is either very limited or very long.

      • You must have an occupation hard to explain & harder to understand. I was an Insurance Wholesaler & very few understood “What I Did” no matter what I said, so I shortened it to “Insurance” & world order was re-established.

  2. To any Wiki Editor hereabouts,

    Robert Lansing’s Wikipedia page does not presently reflect an entry for “40 Dangerous Seconds” under his film roles. Thank you for your attention in rectifying this matter.

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