Wednesday, February 27, 2013

" compassion is never a flaw..."

"You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life." – Winston Churchill

     Recently, the topic of bullying or cyber bullying was examined by an author I admire on another forum. He used the recent example of a pro female athlete that was being viciously stalked and harassed online.  Sadly, the athlete felt she had suffered so much emotional abuse she made the choice to end her career. We only know the side of the story exposed by the media. What really moved me was the number of adults who commented about being bullied as children. Some of them shared the most painfully touching testimonies. Adults have been genuinely scarred by the cruelty of their past tormentors.
     In the last five or six years there have been major campaigns shedding an empathetic spot light  on the subject of bullying and social media harassment. If simple awareness has influenced or motivated just one child or parent to stand up for those who are bullied then it's a message worth repeating. When I was in high school my best friend was an incredibly creative, intelligent young man. He also happened to be gay. He was very effeminate so naturally people suspected or assumed he was gay. We bonded immediately because we shared a love of art, music, humor and the desire to one day leave our little town for the supposedly more sophisticated mentality of a big city.

     The greatest lesson ever learned from our friendship is that when people are being unfairly teased and brutalized by others; you STAND UP and defend them. Years of intimidation had hardened his attitude substantially. He was loving, compassionate and kind to those who knew and treated him well. Being taunted and verbally abused DOES NOT build character or give children a sense of inner strength. Parents, you made the choice to have a child. YOU are developing the mind of an impressionable human being not constructing a hard ass U.S Marine Corps drill sergeant. My friend stood up for himself and was damned if he was going to allow his circle of confidants to be dragged down to a level of ignorance. What he faced on a daily basis was disturbing to witness. Even teachers and adult personnel at the school shunned or ridiculed him. In my heart and soul I knew the adults who I had once respected were insulting, condescending and just flat out wrong.

     Having been at one time a substitute teacher, teachers aide  and high school administrative assistant I've observed bullying time and time again. What continues to baffle me is our acceptance of "herd" or "sheep" mentality. One comment or criticism and a child is considered a pariah or outcast by classmates. Adults need to be more conscious and sensitive to children who are being victimized, alienated or children who exhibit excessive anger and aggression. Being disrespectful and cruel should not be tolerated at any age. Parents have the most powerful influence over their child's behavior. Ask yourself. Are you raising a bully?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

" and lights, camera,....action!"

“I have a star on Hollywood Blvd. It glows in the dark and I stuck it there myself.”
Jarod Kintz, $3.33

      Roll out the red carpet for Oscar regalia. Tonight,  Hollywood pays homage to the finest cash cows and golden geese. The pop culture paparazzi is more hyped up than a hamster on bath salts. What is the fascination with the trivialities of gowns, hair, make up and jewels? What is she wearing? Who is he wearing? Wasn't that last seasons color?  How long has it been since she had a meal? No matter how avant-garde or radical you proclaim to be few among us have never indulged in imagining ourselves a movie star. Admit it. Talking into your hairbrush in front of  the bathroom mirror you perfected your Academy award acceptance speech as a teenager..."most importantly I'd like to thank my family whose undying love, support and belief in pursuing my dreams was so paramount to my success... and to my husband Johnny Depp . Darling. This is for you.. ."
The media will almost always focus their attention on idolized charismatic film actors and actresses. We toss out a lot of dollar bills to be entertained and studios love to pimp the hot and famous.(i.e "Magic Mike")

    After all, it's called "show business" for a reason. It is a business. Let us not forget there are hundreds if not thousands of supporting artists and technicians behind the scenes bringing imagination to life. These production contributors are the excited folks ushered off the stage by orchestra cue during their Oscar speech or partially glimpsed before the TV station interrupts for commercial break. Take a bow. Get off the stage. We want Ben Affleck. Think of the sound engineers, costume designers, script writers, researchers, choreographers, musicians, special effects teams and casting directors whose names flash almost anonymously after the movie ends. This is when theater enthusiasts are gathering their empty cheese nachos containers and popcorn bags from the floor and filing out exits. If you watched a movie at home film credits are the time you wake up your sleeping spouse from the couch and head off to bed. Perhaps we unconsciously want to be naive about the entire grueling process of film making. It completely spoils our enchantment watching behind the scenes footage of actors digitally enhanced, computer manipulated or ferociously fighting in front of blank green screens. We appreciate the illusion. It's like finding out there's no Santa Claus or your Aunt Holly was a stripper at a biker bar. We don't want to know. If you really took the time to break down all the effort and intricate details hidden in film making you would be fascinated and amazed. But would you soak up the story in the same way? Would you lose some of the enjoyment? Is that why Hollywood tries to hide all the grips, vocal coaches, visual effect and make up artists from Oscar night? We love movies. Some films educate, enlighten or simply entertain. Films are a ninety minute mini adventure and escape from our ordinary world. If I had my way, I'd be thanking each and every screenwriter, graphic artist and technician involved in those mysterious magical journeys. Roll credits.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

"How did it get so late so soon?...."

"And you've been so busy lately that you haven't found the time
To open up your mind
And watch the world spinning gently out of time
Feel the sunshine on your face
It's on a computer now
Gone to the future way out in space "  -Out of Time, Blur

     One of the most beautiful aspects of childhood is having no sense of time. No clocks, watches, cell phones. computers or cars with digital reminders. We had enough time to stare up at the clouds and visualize a hundred changing forms. We had time to pour over picture books or examine the sharpness of a vividly green blade of grass. We had time to paint rainbows in the sky and toss gold tinged autumn leaves in the air. We had time to be silly and invent crazy songs, belly laugh and jump from cushion to cushion without falling in the lava. There was enough time to explore the world around us and savor the sunshine or glittering snowflakes of each new morning.  We never envisioned scampering off to work or business meetings, surrounding ourselves with technological gadgets or trying to fill up every silent pause with a thousand words.

     Our minds create the illusion that we haven't got enough time. In reality we know what we must do. You know more than any one  your priorities in life. To say, "I haven't got the time" is being dishonest with ourselves and others. We all want more time to do the things we love. What our inner dialogue should  be telling us is the honest truth, " this task, person, project is not a priority". We commit our time to people and activities that leave us unfulfilled or dissatisfied. Being with or doing something strictly out of obligation or need to appear important, social or charitable becomes draining. We've all had friends or relationships that emotionally drain us of our energy. Are you attending that dinner party or going on that blind date because you really love the Jone's or Ted's company or because you can't say no or want to appear "kind"?   If you have ever thought to yourself, " Why am I here or with this person when I could be doing.."?  You are not present. You are annoyed. Irritated. Off balance. You begin to see where and why you are giving your precious valuable time away. Would you open your wallet and  empty all your credit cards and cash on the street ? Would you allow strangers to get in your car and drive it away?  It's not selfish to demand your time back. It is more selfish to pretend or mislead people. Use your time wisely and creatively to give back to others and the world. Awareness and intent make all the difference.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"we write to taste life twice..."

“Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”-― Kurt Vonnegut, Bagombo Snuff

 Are you are a parent who believes their child is the next J.K. Rowling or James Patterson?  Are you are an adult who wonders if you missed your true calling? Here are a few neglected observations to identify a prospective writer.
  1. Being sent to their room is or never  was a form of "punishment". They think soccer, baseball, ballet, swimming, cheer leading practice blows.
  2. They have been  exaggeratedly accused of being "anti-social" on more than one occasion. A friend cancels a play date or dinner plans and they seem really OKAY with that because they really are OKAY with that. Solitude is more delicious than cake.
  3. They are constantly sleep deprived either from staying up all night reading with a flashlight under the covers or up all night trying to finish their first novel, blog, freelance assignment, living will.
  4. They like to listen more than they speak.
  5. They privately keep a journal or online blog and immediately say, " Hey, I can use that." after every word that comes out of your mouth.
  6. Family members are afraid they will write a story or book exposing all of grandma's sordidly tempting cabbage recipes (or worse).
  7. They desperately want you to understand that writing is a solitary art which for most human beings requires copious amounts of time alone spent locked away behind closed doors.
  8. There are books all over the house. There are twenty next to the bed, thirty under the bed, three on the nightstand, two in the bathroom.
  9. They ask for a Kindle, Nook or Barns and Noble gift card for every birthday and holiday.
  10. They daydream and stare into space because they are formulating sentences or creating stories  in their minds.  P.S to parents... LET THEM BE

Friday, February 15, 2013

" days of thunder......"

"America is all about speed. Hot, nasty, bad ass speed." -Eleanor Roosevelt, 1936

      Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines! It's that time of year again.  The festivities and racing season flashes Green, Green, Green at Daytona International Speedway beginning this week and culminating next weekend with the Daytona 500. It took the enthusiasm of a few family members and one smokin' hot driver to capture and pique my interest in professional motor sports.  Once you attend a LIVE race you're hooked. The smell of burning rubber, the grit in your eyes and the extreme ROARRRRR of the engines is a unique experience. There is an exquisite slow and powerful crescendo of reverberating motors gathering speed after each restart. The sound is so overwhelmingly intense!  The low growling  fills my ears and the bleachers rumble beneath my feet. Can't get enough!. The headset is whisked off as I jump up to meet the cheering crowd discerning the cars circling the entire length of the track. SWOOSH the wind takes your breath away. The cars swell and sweep past us humming again and again.

      Who hasn't imagined themselves a Sprint Cup, Indy or Formula One driver on the highway? No fear.  Most of us are excited when we get to drive a vehicle over eighty miles an hour. Admit it.  Every one would love to be a race car driver. You seem to  harness control over the  uncontrollable forces of speed and time. You and your car become one as you focus so intently, you're lost in the zone. Now envision yourself accelerating to 120mph or even 190mph. You would never be late for work again. Speed.  Do we know what that feels like? The  powerful sensation of thunder in our bellies. Most drivers describe their days on the track as incomparably exhilarating. Despite the dangers, adrenaline junkies, thrill seekers and the curious race enthusiast sign up for "driving experiences" costing thousands of dollars for mere minutes. We want to taste, smell, see and touch the moments of full force speed.

      A TV race, unfortunately is not as thrilling  though a great time. Engaging in track smack with my family and friends becomes creative." How many drivers does it take to set a track on fire? Just, Juan". Who is  prettier, Danica Patrick or Kasey Kahne?  Will I see a backflip this weekend?  My niece Bri is an aspiring public relations specialist and Communications Major who will realize her dream of being track side. Her knowledge and adoration of the sport inspires all. Of course her father was a major influence as well being  part of the motor vehicle industry. If you have the means  or opportunity to attend a race, never pass it up! Satisfy your need for speed and fall in love with racing just because you" want to go fast"!

Monday, February 11, 2013

"a thing of beauty is a joy for ever....."

“In your light I learn how to love. In your beauty, how to make poems. You dance inside my chest where no-one sees you, but sometimes I do, and that sight becomes this art.” ― Rumi

     If you wanted to make some extra money between now and Valentine's Day, you could solicit cookie cutter Hallmark, American Greetings romantic poetry writing services to those who haven't considered a gift for their beloved. Time is running out, my dears. Remember how easy it used to be in grade school when you'd buy a box of twenty-five Strawberry Shortcake or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Valentine's cards and simply sign your name on the back? "Be Mine". Love, Me. Unfortunately, romantic poetry is not our strongest medium. Most men and women find it extremely difficult to fart out quality amorous verse. A former love wrote me a poem which included the memorable lines, "Your eyes like the ocean smack me with waves of love. You have pierced my heart like a dart." Oh, the feels. Chocolates, roses, jewelry, sensuous dinners followed but those poetic lines were always remembered. Poems as well as many love letters, pressed flowers, movie stubs and photo's have been collected in my treasure chest for pleasure, reflection and amusement. Sincerely, any person who even attempts to expose their soul to another should be respected and admired. The intent behind the words is to reach a level of intimacy and trust where you feel comfortable revealing yourself as a true passionate lover and terribly disappointing poet. Such is love. Traditionally, when we think of "romantic poetry" we believe we should emulate the greatest; Keats, Wordsworth, Byron or William Blake, " To see the world in a grain of sand. And heaven in a wild flower...". Romantic poetry is characterized by a unique empathy and understanding of life's beauty. Some of us want to express the depth of our love so intensely that we completely ignore our lack of eloquent vocabulary to do so. Every poem we write seems to be adorned with lofty, flowery replicas rather than a sincere overflowing of powerful feelings rising from the depth of our soul. Imitation is not always the sincerest form of fartery, I mean flattery. Within the song lyrics of The Smiths, Cemetery Gates, Steven Morisssey exposes us all, “If you must write prose or poems, the words you use should be your own. Don't plagiarize or take 'on loan'. There's always someone, somewhere, with a big nose, who knows, who'll trip you up and laugh when you fall.” Any person who exerts time, effort and selfless thought in writing you a truly unique love poem will live in your heart for eternity, even if the liaison does not. ('tis better to have loved and lost...) So for all the lovers and romantics out there, send your cards, write your letters, text, blog, email, your terrible verse proudly as if you were Samuel Coleridge or Mary Shelley. There is a man or woman who is waiting for your love poem or one who has always cherished YOUR words of love.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

"Just a place to call your own as we drift into the zone"

" On an island in the sun, we'll be playing and having fun. And it makes me feel so fine I can't control my brain." - Island in the Sun, Weezer

     A text message I received this morning reminded me of the Weezer song, Island in the Sun and inspired this evenings post. The text was sent from my beautiful, hard working sister Les who desperately deserves to be swept away to an exotic escape. Any person who deals with impatient customers on a daily basis and resides in a freezing Northern climate will appreciate the thought.(and maybe this eye candy to the right) Unfortunately, the winning numbers were not on my ticket. Damn you, Powerball! When will we learn? When will we stop dreaming? Never. Hey, who needs fancy funds and practical paid holidays to travel to a tropical paradise with white sandy beaches? Apparently, no one, thanks to "Trapper". Here is an interesting audio concept that you may have discovered online or saw satirized by the Onion on video. Are you ready for your "Mind Vacation"? The researcher/promoter of the "Mind Vacation Meditation" technique is the enterprising Thomas "Trapper" Sherwood. Frustrated with booking flights or hotels? Tired of rushing to the airport or losing luggage? Who will baby-sit the kids, feed Fluffy or water the plants? Are you suffering from acute Cubicle-itis or Stickitothemaninosis? Relax. No worries. Binaural beats will cure all stress related ills. Binaural beats lower brain wave frequency and frequency of money in wallet. You can order the soothing subliminal "Mind Vacation" tracks online for only ten dollars or for half the price you can buy another Powerball ticket. Breathe. Focus. My advice? Use my 100% guaranteed FREE meditation technique; simply close your eyes, listen to Weezer and imagine....hip...hip..

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

" A crummy commercial? Son of a BITCH ......"

" You want me to teach you something? Here's a lesson for ya....give up. Just quit. Because in this life, you can't win. Yeah, you can try, but in the end you're just gonna lose, big time, because the world is run by the Man."- Dewey Finn "School of Rock"
     Of course I didn't sincerely believe a defeated, Dewey Finn when he advised a classroom of impressionable juveniles to "just quit". He was only speaking out of frustration with the inability to see beyond his current circumstance. Dewey was losing the day to day battle with "The Man" for his artistic soul. Naturally, when we feel we are giving up or losing a part of our true identity we feel dejected. When you lose hope you lose everything. That's a fact. Every one of us has moments whether you are a musician, web designer, car dealer or cubicle monkey ( cubicle warrior is preferred) when you feel discouraged. You start to imagine everything in life revolves solely or un-souly around money. The idea, imagination, content, design or meaning loses importance.

      My online journal is my respite from the previous eight to twelve hours in pursuit of earning money. Surviving. There are many websites that allow writer's to ink out a little cash by drawing an audience to their forum. In order to do this you have to be willing and able to seduce your reader. You have to entice them to click on your web page. You start to feel dirty, creepy and deceptive like the Child Catcher from "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", "Here we are children. Come and get your lollipops. Get your ice cream, cherry pie, cream puffs, treacle tarts..all free today."

      Honestly, that dude scared the hell out more than any other movie character in the history of my cinemaship. (I know that's not a word but this is MY blog kiddie-winkies)

     So the more "tastefully" controversial the subject matter the more people will want to click on your page. What clever advertising techniques would best lure a guaranteed audience to visit? How could I incorporate all of the enticing subjects into one article? Top five or ten lists work pretty well. Admit it, we all read them no matter the subject. What are the Top Nine Most Unique Soap Flavors? It exists. Look it up. You would click on the link and read it because it's quick. You are curious and like everyone else you are losing your attention span. After researching for about ten minutes, I discovered the top five online lures are religion, sex, money, gun violence and dogs. If we added celebrities, fake tans, dieting, sports and perfectly straight white teeth we would have our "top ten" obsessions in American media. Despite knowing what's trite and trendy Dewey Finn just wanted to rock. Despite knowing what manipulates and persuades I just want to write. So for those about to rock or write.. I salute you.