Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The Universal Agnostic

Is the word “maybe” frowned upon because parents use the word to avoid saying “no”? Or is it because our brains compel us to take the binary action of choosing a side, taking a stand, deciding once and for all what is true and false, right and wrong, good and bad? The universal agnostic finds comfort in believing that “maybe” is the wisest answer to most of the questions we feel must be answered.

Maybe there are hollows in the earth where unknown races of people dwell. Maybe the stars and unseen vibrations do affect us. Maybe aliens genetically engineered us as a cosmic experiment, and still walk among us. Maybe there really is a secret cabal of overlords who manipulate the politics and economy of the planet and practice mind control. Maybe there is a God. 

And maybe not.        

Thursday, November 20, 2014

There be faeries in the garden

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A short, therapeutic rant

Sometimes the psychobabble builds up in my brain and I must set it free. I am a Psych major and this is what it has come to:

I.just.cannot.get.into.this.class. Notice the periods between those words. That is me gritting my teeth. Narrative therapy. Oh my freakin' screeching weasels. 

Page 284 of my textbook (and I doth quote verbatim): "To externalize the problem: What does Depression whisper in your ear?" 

Really? Really??? As a therapist, I should be able to utter that question with a straight face? Quackery and balderdash. If a therapist ever said that to me, the first thing that would flash into my mind is, "This shrink is either a fraud or a pervert." The second thing that would flash into my mind, mere milliseconds later, would be "Oh boy. This is going to be good. I will toy with him much in the way a sweet fluffy kitten gently dismembers a lizard before going in for the kill." It would be very therapeutic for me, but I doubt the shrink would make it through the session without excusing himself to swallow a bottle of Xanax. Any ethical therapist with an ounce of common sense would know that someone who is clinically depressed does not have depression whispering in their ear - they have it screaming in their brain 24/7. I mean for God's sake, the only thing this kind of therapy might solve is the mild distress caused by chipped fingernail polish or, at most - at MOST - the undesirable aftereffects of consuming a tainted burrito at Taco Bell. 

And get this: you are supposed to close the session by extending the story into the future. You are supposed to ask a client - please remember that I am studying addiction counseling here - "What do you predict for the coming year?" Holy mother of spotted hyenas! Putting myself in the client's shoes, the first thing I would predict is the imminent demise of my shrink. The second thing I would predict is going to jail for same. My guess is the therapist could not predict his own year into the future. Why on earth would he ask the client such a preposterous question? 

My hair hurts. I am going to bed.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thug's Guide to Higher Consciousness

I am thinking of writing a book about my mental struggles to attain higher consciousness. Here is the preface:

Here is what I am learning on my own journey. I am not saying I've arrived at enlightenment yet. I'm still fumbling with the damn light bulb, but I am sharing in case it might help someone else. We got our Thug Kitchen cookbook, now here is the preface to your Thug's Guide to Higher Consciousness:
1. There are those of us who spend a lot of time trying to silence the committee in our heads. You know the feeling. It makes bad decisions and then berates you for them when you try to go to sleep at night. This is not the real you. The real you is hiding in the basement waiting for the committee meeting to be over, but it never is. Kind of like Congress and we all know how much they get done.
2. You cannot silence the committee without help. The human primate is a social species. Even us introverts need at least one other person with whom we can discuss committee decisions before we act on them. This person has to be someone with whom we can identify. Someone who will not judge, but who will give you honest feedback. For instance, if your committee suggests that you will feel a lot better if you provoke a moose in rutting season, your friend (who has probably provoked a rutting moose or two in their day) will remind you what happened the last time you did that and tell you that you should probably take a short, but vigorous walk and then have a hot bath and some tea instead. Your committee would not think of this. Trust me.
3. This person cannot be you, no matter how smart you think you are.
4. When you feel the urge to act on a committee decision, you should almost always do the exact opposite thing. For example, if the committee tells you to sit and agonize the answer is almost always going to be to get up and move. If the committee tells you to stay up late at night obsessing, the answer is almost always go the hell to bed.
5. If it seems counter-intuitive, it is probably the right thing to do. If you are responding the way you always respond and it isn’t working, doing more of it isn’t going to work any better.
6. It is human to fail. It is healthy to observe those failings and acknowledge them. It is healthy to take steps to prevent them from happening again. It is unhealthy if you don’t let them go. If you are constantly wading through a pile of garbage that keeps getting higher, the garbage will win. Eventually there will be so much garbage you can’t move. It suffocates you, it walls you in, it is piled so high you can’t get over it. Take the trash out every night and leave it in the damn trash can. You would not run outside the next morning, bring last night’s trash bag into your house, and climb in the bag with it. It would be really bad if you did that every day. Wouldn’t take a whole lot of time to start stinking up the house. A week’s worth of the shit will fill your house with enough noxious fumes to down a healthy ox. Mental trash is the same way. Let it go for God’s sake. Just because the garbage men haven’t come yet, it doesn’t mean that you should accumulate the stuff until they show up.
7. And finally, the act of taking out the trash is an act. Not a feeling. Not an act of will power. Not a pleasant thought that you should ponder until you make it a shitty thought. Even Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz had to click her fucking heels together in order to go home. Just saying, “I dream of a better tomorrow” will not make it so. For most of us this is the hardest part of all. Most of us can get with the mentally prepared program, but then when it comes time to follow through, it is like, “Oh gee. Look at the time. My committee is meeting in 5 minutes. Gotta run.” You can think of spreading sunshine and farting rainbows but if you don’t actually do something, that sunshine and those rainbows aren’t going to magically spring out of your ass. Wax on, wax off, little grasshopper.
Peace out.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Doctor Mayhem

I’ve lost another friend ... too sadly and too soon.  Over the last few weeks I’ve come to realize just how important he was too me.

Bizarre, yes.  Always outside the box ... definitely yes. To the uninitiated and unremittingly conventional, he was perhaps a bit threatening ... even scary. But that was only on the surface. The man had a sweet and gentle soul, which was completely at odds with the image.

He did like to shake things up, especially for those he called “sheeple.” In fact, I think it may have been his mission to make the life of an iconoclast an art form.

As his friend I was not allowed to even consider staying in my shell of introversion. At his urging, I came to his Halloween parties as an Oompa Loompa, Baby Jane Hudson, a dead jester, Monica Lewinsky in a blue dress from Goodwill and knee pads with hot glue in my wig, and a slutty chauffeur.

 I bless Bud for not allowing me to be a bore, for being open to all the possibilities of art, music, movies, fun, and life.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Tampa Train Station

More Fun With Words

I think many would agree that both the scientific and vernacular words for lady and gentleman parts are silly.

To my ear, “Vulva” sounds like “vulgar.” “Pussy” sounds sweet and evokes the image of an adorable pet. In Greek, “vagina” means “sheath,” so "sheath" may be my preference in future.

“Penis” is far too pretty sounding to describe the actual appendage. The Greek from which it comes means “tail,” so "tail" it could be except that it has an altogether different meaning in the expression "piece of tail."

“Dick” is fairly matter of fact and suggests a derivation from the root form “ridiculous.” “Scrotum” sounds just about right. “Junk” seems appropriate to describe the whole ensemble.

Sometimes the slang is insulting though imaginative: “gash,” “bearded clam,” “love muscle,” “skin flute.” “Cunt” and “cock” sound just plain horrible.

Words to describe the acts performed by these parts is the subject of another entry.

Oh, look – a squirrel!

“Someone once asked me why do you always insist on taking the hard road? and I replied why do you assume I see two roads?”

You’re the student of psychology, so please come up with an alternative label for ADD ... one that doesn’t contain a double negative.

You know how I feel about quirks, and how angry I get that they are generally seen as deficits and disorders rather than blessings. They are what make us unique. Be they genetic accidents or the karmic hand we are dealt, they cannot be denied.

So why not accept them and embrace them and make them work for us? For the time being I’ll call what you have Cosmic Renaissance Multiple Focus Condition (CRMFD).

The ramble above this one was written before I read your latest. I got it to 140 words, and I hope it will be the last post from the desk of Mister Naughty Pants. Or maybe not.

By the way, it bugs me that the dialog is backwards. Is this good or bad for the brain? And can it be fixed?

Digression #3 (CRMFD): What about showing your photographs as a slide show at the gallery rather than as expensive prints pinned to a wall? My art is moving off the wall rapidly. Because, well, you know, we both seem to suffer from OTWS (Off the Wall Syndrome).

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Three weekends; three photos

Much catching up to do

Dear John,
I have sadly neglected my end of the conversation. In the way of my people (the mentally ill), I will overcompensate today which has the tremendously beneficial side effect of allowing me to procrastinate on my school work. The current class is family therapy, the teacher is beyond un-inspirational (meaning that she not only meets, but exceeds, the low end of the scale in the end of class survey which unfortunately does not provide the option of rating her performance using negative numbers).

But I digress since before becoming inert, we were discussing viscera and vomiting. Interesting that the butterflies in the stomach can indicate impending bliss or impending doom. For me it has always been the latter. Interestingly enough, when I tried to pinpoint how I feel when anticipating something exciting, I found that the only suitable term was "impatient." I think I am afraid the anticipated thing will slip away if it does not happen right-fucking-now. It is a paradox. Anticipating something good makes me almost angry. Fear brings butterflies.

This is why I have worked so very hard to live in a state of neutrality where neither anticipation nor fear seep into my consciousness. They are allowed to stay in my sub-conscious where I keep things like old telephone numbers, slide rules*, and certain old relatives in creaky rocking chairs of whom I was not particularly fond. But the pre-frontal cortex is off-limits. This is either dysfunctional repression or a state of Zen, depending on whether you ask a psychiatrist or a Buddhist monk.

*In composing this sentence, I was forced to use Google since I could not remember if these archaic devices were called "slide rules" or "slide rulers." Oh look - a squirrel! The Museum of HP Calculators.

One love,
Carol (a.k.a. still "Not-John")

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

3-D Yin Yang

Sunday, October 26, 2014


“One of the significant features of the dialogical (dialectic) method is that it emphasizes collective, as against solitary, activity. It is through the to and fro of argument amongst friends (or adversaries) that understanding grows (or is revealed). Such philosophical pursuit alongside and within a full education allows humans to transcend their desires and sense in order to attain true knowledge and then to gaze upon the Final Good (Agathon).”


Guardian Angel 06

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Lichen near Bronson, Florida

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fun With Words

I am now a fan of “mawkish,” which replaces “corny” for the stuff I like. Maybe the Norse chose “maggot” because they felt that maudlin sentimentality was disgusting. But for me the sickly-sweet flavor of an over-ripe banana is associated with the best things, not the sickening ones.

As a child, I upchucked in the parking lot of a movie theater from excitement over the pleasure to come. 

And on Aunt Allye’s shoes when she told me "the sea dogs were coming to get me" during my first visit to a wild and stormy Atlantic ocean. She was my favorite aunt because she was loving and kind-hearted and embraced her mean streak.

That paragraph was a double digression.  Neither fear (and revenge?) nor admiration for a family role model has anything to do with the theme. But I’ll keep it for now because an iconoclast can’t help but break the rules.

In my adolescence, sexual excitement registered in the stomach as the beating wings of stoned butterflies. Naturally on my wedding night I threw up ... an obvious reaction if you think about it. 

My psyche has been gifted with visceral stirrings in anticipation of bliss.

Dear John,

You are quite correct about that devilish old Facebook. This morning I woke up, scrolled through my friend's posts and landed up here:
The word mawkish is interesting. This word leaped into my poor tired brain after a brief scan of my Facebook newsfeed made me briefly want to hurl. Anyway, it appears to refer to both a schmaltzy emotion and an unpleasant flavor, although there is no emotion or flavor called "mawk." In my very literal brain, if one is going to be mawk-ish, one should have some psychological or gustatory equivalent of "mawk." Turns out we don't have one, (although there is a programming language called Mawk which I have to believe does not inspire either copious weeping or projectile vomiting). So I looked up the derivation of the word and Merriam-Webster thinks it is "probably" derived from the old Norse word for "maggot" although the word was first used in 1697 when presumably most Old Norsemen were long dead. Who revived the word and why? This was post-Old-Norsemen and pre-Facebook. What happened in 1697 that inspired someone to make up a word that can be used to describe both an "insipid" flavor and excessive sentimentality? And why is this word derived from the Old Norse word for fly larvae? Does this presume that the inventor has either sampled fly larvae and found it to be unpleasant or had an emotion which he felt resembled the psychological state of a prepubescent insect?
Note to self: Do not think before coffee. It only brings heartache and brain freeze.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dear Not John,

There's a diarist on Daily Kos whose handle is Hunter. I wrote him and said I could tell when he was the author of a piece before reading the by-line confirmed it. Your words have the same blend of spirit, wit, bile, profanity, polish and passion. It's a recipe for the kind of language that could save the world if only the politicians would be willing to speak it.

Seems I buried the lead as usual (which may be where it belongs): I love what you said, but you must know by now that Facebook IS of the devil ... aside from the inspiring quotes and cute-as-all-get-out kittens and news from friends flung afar. And then there is Twitter, where the destructive horror of uninhibited, uncensored, anonymous social networking is mitigated by the limitation of 140 characters. To bully or insult one must at least be succinct.

I will bring this to a close as I have a slight ache in my jaw from clenching my teeth during a night disturbed by worries. Did I offend my niece when I wrote her that I really liked her housemate but that although I would be willing to kiss his toes to prove my devotion a blow job is out of the question? Or how the actors would feel and what I'd do if nobody else showed up at a performance of Hamlet I’m going to see this Saturday?

Silly worries. Foolish worries. Trivial worries. There has to be a better way to spend the night. But there’s no better way to spend the morning than to have a raving rant with you.

Not yet a saint

Good morning. This is Thursday, October 23, 2014 and I (who am Not-John) am making my first blog entry on this site.

I am working on my personal and spiritual growth and development. This is a source of great merriment for everyone since, frankly, I am not very good at it.

Here is an example from yesterday:

In times of personal crisis, my children turn to facebook to vent their spleen. I love them, but this is not pretty. Yesterday one of them had a “bad country Western song” moment. If he’d had  enough money for a Margarita, he could have salted it (yea verily) with his tears.

A friend of his made a comment (innocuous so far).

My child made a comment back (it was intended to be funny).

His friend did not grasp the subtleties of a “yo momma” joke.

His friend became righteously indignant about my child’s disrespect for his momma, (who I am sure is a fine woman and would not approve of what I considered a rather emotionally immature response consisting of such choice phrases as “I hope you burn in hell motherfucker. You are a dick.”)

The poor bastard didn’t see it coming. I am on edge. I did not have sufficient coffee in my system to think first and write later. The following is my deeply spiritual response:

“ *Sigh* You know what? I've said this before when there's facebook drama and I will say it again. And D.M. you live in fucking Michigan. You have no idea what is going on here. Your argument is invalid and you can un-friend me if you like. I got enough shit on my hands to start a pig farm without having a pile-on festival. I love my kids - all of them - even when they hate each other. Even when shit gets real. Even when they do things that are dumb. I know I've done plenty of dumb things myself. Just because my dumb things are different from [insert son’s name] dumb things does not make me spiritually superior. I am trying to put out positivity because you do get back what you give out. If you can't say something even remotely useful, stay the hell off my pig farm. You are not helping and I refuse to continue to be everyone's fucking collateral damage. Think for one minute about being a mom or a dad who loves two kids who are at each other's throats over stuff you will never know the whole truth of. Then think about other people in public saying really shitty things and just fanning those flames. You know who gets hurt? Not you. You aren't family and you aren't even in Florida. Who gets hurt is [insert son’s name]’s kids and his mom and dad and the people who are working really hard to bring some light and healing into this situation. THAT is who gets hurt. Your target is just going to get mad. But everyone else around that person feels like they've just been hit with a fucking axe. Because everything we've said or done, every prayer that is being said, every act of kindness and forgiveness we have been working and throwing out to the universe just gets blown to shit. You are not involved. You can sit up in Michigan being self-righteous and not one turd will land in your lap. Good for you. I'm here and I'm dealing with the turds first hand (if you will pardon the pun). Help out or go away. Not your monkeys, not your circus.”

Yup. I said this in a public post. It is clear that I have a little more work to do in order to qualify for sainthood.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Unsubscribe Me.

I've given what I can, and I'm getting depressed because money in politics sucks, be it from the wicked big nabobs or us little suckers. Either way, elections are up for sale.

I will continue to vote progressive, and for the lesser of two evils when necessary (the smooth-talking, phony baloney bullshit artist with a good heart over the smooth-talking, phony baloney bullshit artist with no heart). But not much will change until campaign finance is reformed ... which probably means never.

Eyeball Fungus

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dear Miss Standish

Well, now, the shit has hit the fan, has it not? Or as another friend likes to say, “Oh, Lord, there’s another turd in the punchbowl.”

Don’t bother to read the comments on the article, though I expect you already have. Some are snarky.  Some bash the famous film guy. Some are from disappointed film freaks, who enthusiastically support you and the theater.

I’m guessing all the opinions are presumptuous, as we rarely have first-hand knowledge and truth is therefore mostly hearsay. So here’s mine. Relying only on intuition and supposition I came up with these theories, which I think make sense:

1. Film guy is a perverse, cruel, amoral, sadistic, manipulative sociopath. His movies celebrate such people and I never really liked them ... the movies or the characters. (I try to give small credence to physiognomy, but he surely does look the part.)
2. The bad lady is a jealous, passionless, phony LA hipster who is intimidated by your good cheer and enthusiasm ... another sociopath who must sabotage people who remind them of their own deficiencies.
3. Film guy is clueless and believes whatever lie the bad lady tells him.
4. Film guy is fucking the bad lady.
5.  She has the goods on him for blackmail.

If any of these theories holds water it may be that what has happened is a “cosmic boot” ... as Aunt Gail likes to call those times when the universe gives us a painful kick in the ass that forces us out of a situation so that a better one can manifest. 

Who knows? It may actually be best in the long run not having to deal with ugly film guy. Or he may wise up and get one of his sociopathic actor friends to run the bad lady over with his car. Or that this is a kick in the butts of the staff and theater fans. And don’t forget ... they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Whatever the case, know that we are sending positive vibrations your way, along with the firm the belief that you will not only survive, but prevail.

Much love,

Uncle John

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Jane and Blanche

This is Shit.

I wrote a blog entry. I didn’t like it. It was OK as therapy, and easy to put in a photo, and maybe well expressed, but it’s not what I want. It’s a conversation that’s fun and exciting. This is just a statement. All about me. The cheese doesn’t want to stand alone.

I took out gender pronouns and named no names in trying to protect the guilty, but should the black Irish bigmouth ever read it her feelings might be hurt. And the Mafia reference would not doubt be problematic. Oh, well. I’m afraid the feelings of family and friends cannot be avoided without editing. Or repercussions from the Illuminati. And that’s self-censorship. And hard work. And counter-productive. Catch 22.

Sometimes people should feel the pain or anger your opinion causes, but ought that be inflicted face to face? I don't want to know if they're hurt or mad, but shouldn't I? And when and when not? And the wisdom to know the difference.

Maybe at some point a website would be the solution. People must sign up to read it and can be disallowed if ... "Danger, danger, Will Robinson!" Or readership by invitation. But flexible websites cost money. Facebook  allows us to accept friend requests or not. But Facebook sucks.

Over-thinking again. All is well. Even when it’s not.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sporting Hibiscus

Let My Spirit Speak

Last night I went to a birthday party at Indian Shores. The hosts were friends I’d made in junior high school. The honoree was my ex. I rode over with our surviving son. Other guests were a black Irish firebrand with a big mouth, an artist who grew up down the street from me with the gentle spirit of a songbird, and a stunning fashion model of a certain age from a Mafia family.

We grunted and grinned over real Italian spaghetti made by a real Italian, garlic bread made by the atheist bigmouth, an artistic salad made by the artist, the incredible chocolate cake made by the hostess, vanilla ice cream made by the host, and flan made by the white-haired beauty from Mars.

I enjoyed the company, for the affection, and for the conversations about our families and their dysfunctions, corporal punishment, making art, calculus, quantum paradoxes... and the usual books, movies, TV, recipes, and children.

Why are there always friends who bring you down? How do they do it? And why? Sometimes their motive is altruistic. They just want to help ... your health and your nicotine addiction, your baked beans with crisper bacon, your dog with a diet.

More than once I’ve considered taking one in particular off my list. But 45 years prevents it, when that one introduced me to Joplin, Hendrix, Morrison and dope smoking and has had me screaming with laughter many happy times.

Sadly, the years have brought the dreaded constipation. Talk with my son and the artist was about the necessity, and difficulty, of freeing one’s self from inhibition so as to embrace intuition. To shock or evoke disagreement is inevitable when trying to make a cosmic connection to a clear inner voice, and feeling a thought or act of the moment break free.

Inhibiters need not be avoided entirely ... only the toxic few. But to be a member of the inner circle, please do not judge, correct, advise, or suggest a change of course when one is flying in the zone where neither right nor wrong disturbs the currents.   

Saturday, March 14, 2009

El Goya Reunion

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Movies That Blew My Particular Mind

Because they struck a highly personal chord in some inexplicable way, or moved me beyond reason or taste or artistry, or shocked me with theme or image or story-telling.

This list numbers about 200 now but it will be cut to 100.

2001: A Space Odessy
8 1/2
A Night at the Opera
A Night to Remember
A Room With a View
A Streetcar Named Desire
All About Eve
American Beauty
Annie Hall
Apartment, The
Apocalypse Now
Apu Trilogy
Assault on Precinct 13
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
Auntie Mame
Babette’s Feast
Back to the Future
Baghdad Café
Battleship Potemkin, The
Being John Malkovich
Betty Blue
Bicycle Thief, The
Black Sunday
Blackboard Jungle
Blade Runner
Blood and Roses
Blood Feast
Bonnie and Clyde
Breakfast Club, The
Brewster McCloud
Broadcast News
Chinese Fire Drill
Choose Me
Cinema Paradiso
Citizen Kane
City of Lost Children
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Cries and Whispers
Crimes and Misdemeanors
David and Bathsheba
Deep Throat
Dirty Harry
Dog Day Afternoon
Dr. Strangelove
E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial
Easy Rider
Egyptian, The
El Topo
Enchanted April
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Five Easy Pieces
Fog, The
Forbidden Games
Forbidden Planet
Forbidden Zone
Ghost Busters
Gone with the Wind
Graduate, The
Grapes of Wrath, The
Gray Gardens
Groundhog Day
Hannah and Her Sisters
Harder They Come, The
Harold and Maude
History of the World
Hunger, The
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
It Happened One Night
Ivan the Terrible
Jerk, The
Jesus of Montreal
Fly, The
Kentucky Fried Movie
King Kong
La Dolce Vita
La Grand Illusion
La Verite
Lady Eve, The
Last Year at Marienbad
Late Show, The
Lawrence of Arabia
Life of Brian
Looking For Mr. Goodbar
Los Olvidados
Maltese Falcon, The
Man Who Fell to Earth, The
Mars Attacks
Men Don’t Leave
Mondo Cane
Monsieur Verdoux
Motorcyle Diaries, The
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
Mr. Hulot’s Holiday
Myra Breckenridge
Mysteries of the Organism
Mystery Train
Never on Sunday
New Year’s Day
Night and Fog
Night of the Living Dead
Night of the Shooting Stars, The
Night on Earth
North by Northwest
On the Beach
On the Waterfront
Panic in Needle Park
Peewee’s Big Adventure
Philadelphia Story, The
Pink Flamingos
Play It As It Lays
Producers, The
Pulp Fiction
Road Warrior
Rocco and his Brothers
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Room at the Top
Rosalie Goes Shopping
Run, Lola Run
Saturday Night Fever
Serial Mom
Seven Days in May
Shall We Dance?
Shaun of the Dead
Sid and Nancy
Singin’ in the Rain
Sixteen Candles
Sixth Sense, The
Slaves of New York
Snow White
Star Wars
Sullivan’s Travels
Summer and Smoke
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Sunset Boulevard
Sweet Bird of Youth
Taxi Driver
The African Queen
Thelma and Louise
Thing, The
To Kill A Mockingbird
Tom Jones
Treasure of Sierra Madre, The
Two Women
Un Chien Andalou
Up the Down Staircase
Usual Suspects, The
Victim, The
Voyage Surprise
Wedding Banquet, The
Welcome to LA
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
When Harry Met Sally
Wild Bunch, The
Wild Strawberries
Wizard of Oz, The
Woman In the Dunes
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Year of Living Dangerously, The
Young Frankenstein
Zorba the Greek

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Come Out to Play

Too serious and sensitive for abandon to play when young, in their dotage Capricorns can have a first childhood, at a time when their contemporaries are having their second.

It's easier when you are retired, and encouraged by others, for the propriety learned at the man's knee is hard to shake. And, too, there is nothing sillier-looking than old geezers kicking up their heels--except possibly for penises.

At first I thought the blog would be some kind of mystical bulletin board for a karass of the like-minded. Now I like the efficiency. Instead of forwarding cyberwisdom I can put the links here. Check out Bikini Science and Soulforce.

Instead of weblog think e-log--a neopostmodern bastard. Now that's some fun. I’d like to get e-mails instead of comments, which remind me of chat rooms.

I started a list of movies that blew me away. Send me some of your favorites. I’m sure I can bump something off my list with a film that left you breathless for whatever reason.

I still don't know what I want to do here, except have fun. For sure, 200 words or less is fun.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Simper Fi

Look at their faces. Some look like offspring of the Pillsbury Dough Boy and a pedophile priest. The rest look like a cross between a praying mantis and a rabid weasel.

These are our leaders. They lie, and equivocate, and somehow manage to ignore the wishes of the people.

Most of us wanted to stay away from the awful problems of a brain-dead women. None of our business.

Most of us believe that religion should stay out of government, and vice versa. We think our tax money should not go to groups antagonistic to faiths other than their own.

Most Americans believe that no minority should be persecuted or penalized for its ethnic background, sexual orientation or religious affiliation.

They may not approve of abortion or same-sex marriage or the right to death, but they know these things are private issues, not public ones.

Not our leaders. With simpering smiles they tell us what the ends are, and that their secret means need not be justified.

Were physiognomy still accredited, these persona-snatching aliens would be oficially labeled as cunning and mean. If only CNN had a consulting physiognomist in their stable of talking heads.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Dear Spiritual Friend

I do believe in prayer. But I hate the arrogance of the “in the name of our father” that callously and purposely excludes from grace the formative young Jews at a graduation or a football game.

And I fear the negative agression of a prayer circle or seminar full of control freaks. Group goodness is a very tricky thing, like when the group focus is achievement--power for good, hopefully--but still power.

I do not believe that prayer brings us good fortune, or cures illness, or makes our wishes come true, or brings us pleasant surprises, or keeps us from doing drugs, or changes anything external in the world.

I do believe that prayer brings strength and focus and peace, when done in private as Jesus wished--not in well-dressed congregations or chain letters.

This is the grace that gives us heart, and that's quite enough of a miracle. Jesus and me. Mano a mano. He was right about so many things. Our Father, indeed.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Those Damn Foreigners Again

Many of our leaders would have us believe that we should fear the illegal immigrants. But if the demonstrations continue to reflect King and Ghandi, the fear mongers will be proven wrong.

They say amnesty would dishonor those poor saps who wait patiently, year after year, playing the game and losing it because those honorable and less desperate folks are playing by the rules of the INS.

Just when you think bureaucracy could not become more cynical and heartless and cavalier and ineffectual, the neocons push the envelope once again.

Ever you ever dealt with the INS? What a horrible joke. Like the Cuban embargo and the fact that we took much of Texas and California away from Mexico in the first place, just like we took the rest of the continent away from the Indians.

We could have open and secure borders, and and fix the INS, and validate the rights and responsibilities of residents through full citizenship training for all. Whoever doesn't pass the citizenship test doesn't get a good citzen lapel pin or a college diploma.

Citizens would be required to speak two languages fluently. One of these must be Standard Polite Good English and the other can be whatever--Spanish, Cuban, Street, Spanglish, Cracker, Esperanto, Latin.

Public schools couldn't do it, of course. They are as broken as FEMA and the INS. But with a level playing field, private schools, non-profit community organizations and “faith-based” groups could compete for the citizens’ education dollars.

Conservatives say we should play by the rules, liberals say we should put the rules aside and be compassionate and realistic. I say we should change the rules so that they are compassionate and realistic.

Buenos dias.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

They’re All Dorks

I am not optimistic about finding worthy candidates.

Hillary and Nancy are so cold and humorless it's scary. Yes, male chauvinism may play a part here--women are supposed to be warm and gentle and nurturing.

It's OK for men to be cold and humorless. Think Gore, Kucinich and Kennedy--with Leiberman setting the curve.

No, the Democrats are no cup of cafe con leche either, not if you want Yin and Yang. But at least many of them are smart, and many of them really do seem to care.

If they just weren't such equivocating, double-talking, game-playing lawyers. If only they could be moderate synthesizers, with spirit and heart--like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

We may want leaders with intelligence and winning but real personalities, but would glady settle for leaders with courage and conviction.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Modern Boy Scout

I am all for states rights. If Texas wants to lock up sodomites and execute abortion doctors and Kansas wants to teach intelligent design in the science classroom, I say, let 'em.

But then I’m getting ready to move to a safer and saner place if necessary. Smart people with enough money and other resources did this in pre-war Germany.

Unless self-delusion is operating here, it's positive and motivating to be prepared, and determined, and long-sighted--financially and spiritually.

I’m planning to make a big stink on my way out--out of the state, the job or the institution where good people are forced to hurt other people instead of help them.

I’m convinced that this stink will be my duty, and that it's possible to achieve without burning bridges or cutting off my nose to spite my face.

Wherever the system is being manipulated to oppress others, be prepared to vote with your suitcase. That's a boycott I can get behind.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Jesus Loves Tiger Woods

Have you seen pictures of the Tiger Woods mansion?

At first I didn't know what to make of it. Tacky, certainly--as in overdone, excessive, pretentious, sybaritic, flashy, self-indulgent...

Also, yes, fabulous. If I had his money, it's really close to what I'd want for my mansion...if I wanted a mansion...which I don't.

Without the facts on Tiger's philanthropic activities, I'm going to assume that he gives an enormous amount of money to the needy.

Aside from that, what would Jesus say?

"Well at least he didn't get his money screwing stockholders and customers and employees and the environment. He got it by hitting a ball into a hole with a stick, so more power to him. And by the way, I'm building several more perfect golf courses in Heaven."

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Scientologists are scary because they are so sneaky. It is this that sets them apart from the Southern Baptists.

Unlike those most loud-mouthed of Bible thumpers--who are with too few exceptions the mean, the scared, the simple-minded, or the ignorant--this church is run by yuppies with the mentality of politicians.

In fact, Scientology may be the most American of all religions, reflecting as it does the prime American value: life is a game played by sneaks and dodges.

Pros on steroids. Corporate ass kissers. Play the game as close as possible to the edge without falling off (getting caught).

Have a secret game plan, an ace in the hole, hidden assets (and agendas), a network of other amoralists, a no-bid contract, a good tax lawyer.

The point of the game is the attainment of money and power, but it's not about the money and the power as much as it is about the game--in the case of Scientology, the game of religion.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


What is it that makes some people think they can stick their noses into other people’s business?

One reason why they get away with it is that ours is a culture of busybodies. Journalists, teachers, parents and cops at every level all feel entitled to our secrets--for our own goods, of course.

Also, too many of us want others to know our private business. Besides the catharsis of the confessional, there are the beliefs that openness is a virtue, and that honesty is defined by it.

Be it Mondale admitting he needs drugs to get it up or Clinton answering inappropriate questions about his underwear, the standards of good taste, respect and propriety have fallen.

The mind recoils from the lurid fascination many people have for other people’s private lives, but it is their repressive response to the scenes they imagine that are dangerous to liberty.

They may continue to ask, but you don’t have to tell.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


To a certain extent we can sympathize with a young man recently arrested for vandalism. He said hate for religion drove him to desecrate two local churches. We can sympathize because he appears to be mentally ill and miserably unhappy, and because these days religion is an easy thing to hate.

It is more difficult to sympathize with Paul Hill, the man who killed over abortion, although he, too, appeared to be mentally ill. Possibly our powers of sympathy were taxed by the fact that he was older, and because he did not seem to be suffering – from either remorse or doubt. In fact, he seemed maniacally happy.

Looking back through history it is difficult to see how the good done in the name of organized religion outweighs, or even balances, the harm done. Sufficient examples of the latter can be found in Ireland and the Middle East.

Beyond the chilling smile of someone on a bad drug – in this case, religion – it is the unwarranted self-assurance of the fundamentalist that frightens us; professing to know what God wants is arrogant at least and delusional at worst.

It is possible that Hill was right in calling his act justifiable homicide; it is also possible that Moslems are right in calling the U.S. an evil empire to be destroyed at any cost. The point is, truly spiritual people do no harm, whatever their convictions.

The problem with isms is that they are too often the refuge of the weak spirited as well as the weak minded. Those who practice an ism must remember that comfort breeds complacency, which can lead to complicity. When we allow extremists into our fellowships we have a responsibility to monitor their actions, to confront them, and to report them to authorities when they pose a danger to others.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Another Crucial Year

There is no hope. People are idiots. Have a nice day. This is my current mantra, and it is comforting.

Having no hope is not the same thing as having no faith. And I don’t mean all people are idiots, just most people much of the time. Who can deny this after an honest appraisal of their own errors? Nor do I mean to say that people cannot be improved.

Having a nice day in spite of it all is the act of faith that comes to save the day. Perennially sunny optimists like Ronald Reagan have the faith.

They say that humor can make the day nicer. So instead of being drowned in darkness I will make light: Did you hear the one about the suicide car bomber?

Say the mantra and then consider this: Voting is the way we decide what we believe we should be—as a community, a county, a state, nation and a world.

To that end we are identifying the important issues. First, we will try to digest the party platforms and the philosophies of the incumbents. Then we will send a questionnaire to all the candidates.
It could go something like this:

What do you think are the issues facing voters—globally, nationally and locally? Quality of life? Separation of church and state? Adequacy of public education? Etc?

If you had to choose, would it be for more laws, or fewer laws justly and truly enforced? Would you support a constitutional amendment outlawing the practice of sneaking unrelated items into a bill?

Do you believe special interest groups should have more or less control over government?

Do you believe that historically we have been the good guys? If not, give examples. Do you believe that traditionally we should be the good guys? If so, what are the values of a good guy?

Have a nice day. I really mean it.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Ashamed To Be American

I have often suggested that we are more civilized than the people we are supposed to be liberating. Since no photos have yet surfaced of Iraqi detainees being decapitated, we may still claim that distinction—but by a margin that is shrinking rapidly.

Moslems claim that the U.S. is an empire ruled by Satan, and that our influence in the world only leads to perversion, immorality and cultural degeneracy.

I still disagree with the first proposition; if Satan champions any cause, it is that of people who cut off people’s heads while wearing masks. However, I am beginning to come around to their way of thinking on the second proposition.

Far too many Americans have been desensitized to the concept of human dignity, which is why young soldiers act like drunken dullards on Spring Break. It wasn’t so much that they were humiliating and terrorizing their prisoners—orders or no orders; it was that they were enjoying it.

As Americans we are still free to sink to the lowest common denominator of taste and sensitivity, and this is as it should be. But something has gone terribly wrong, and blame must be placed.

Therefore, I blame the influence of mass media phenomena such as MTV and Temptation Island. I blame parents for sharing the same warped values, or for failing to recognize their influence. I blame the schools, and the churches—which apparently are doing no better.

Most of all, I blame everyone who has had a hand in perpetuating the myth of American moral superiority. Slavery, disenfranchisement, assassination, genocide and persecution are part of our history. Self-righteousness, greed, rudeness and impetuosity mark our behavior. Together, history and behavior have painted for the rest of the world a portrait of our national character.

We are a nation of hypocrites and I am ashamed. And I will continue to be ashamed, at least until we have new leaders.