Friday, March 28, 2014

" But everybody knows that a broken heart is blind..."

"Fever, where'd you run to?
 Fever, where'd you run to?
 Acting right is so routine
 Fever, let me live a dream."

     What do Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails, Guided by Voices, Devo, Twenty One Pilots, the Black Keys and me have in common?  Besides sharing an intense love of music we are all products of the Midwest's most misunderstood area. Ohio is the broken heart shaped state of America's depressed industrial and automotive manufacturing Golden Era, symbolizing our countries lost, wandering soul, Goth/Emo teen aged persona. Ohio may be cold, dark and dreary at times but the winter seclusion of harsh hibernation has spawned some pretty amazing artists. Along the snow and ice covered shores of Lake Erie in the Northeast, Cleveland is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame   Once famous for its rubber tire plants, near-by Akron, Ohio notably rolled off the production line one of  the most talented and respected independent/indie/alternative/rock bands in the world, The Black Keys. The Black Keys lead vocalist, musician, guitarist, lyricist, Dan Auerbach and the multi-talented percussionist, writer, and ten foot tall, Patrick Carney joined forces in 2001 to create The Big Come Up (2002). The Big Come Up was only the first of many collaborations for the darling duo including Brothers (2010) and their most commercially successful release to date,  El Camino (2011). There isn't one alternative rock music connoisseur who doesn't have the Grammy and BRIT Award winning, Black Keys CD or download in their collection.
     The Black Keys eighth album, Turn Blue has been anxiously anticipated by fans and critics alike. Turn Blue  will be released in its entirety on May 12th, 2014. The audio/ video slice above is a deliciously edgy taste of much needed medicine. So if you have a "Fever" this is your only prescription for now.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

“Oh, please don't go—we'll eat you up—we love you so!”

“And now," cried Max, "let the wild rumpus start!”
― Maurice Sendak,
Where the Wild Things Are

           @midnight is an American pop culture, internet-themed panel show hosted by the charismatic comedian, Chris Hardwick on Comedy Central.  @midnight posed a riotous question during their thought provoking  #HASHTAG WAR segment last evening. Highly creative and obviously literate audience members tweeted a barrage of rapid fire responses in one of the most popular worldwide trending Twitter subjects so far this year- How do you "Ruin a children's book"?  Crazy, corrupted, amusing and slightly naughty adult altered children's book titles were tweeted  with a feverish ferocity from all  over the globe. (including Turkey).  The adorable misadventures of a mischievous monkey in Hans and Margret Rey's,  Curious George -became even more titillating in the tale of a sexually confused banana hoarding,  Bi-Curious George. Prepare to have your fondest childhood memories slightly skewed as you read on:

Green Eggs and Salmonella
Green Eggs and Spam
Green Eggs and Locally Sourced Grass Fed Humane Slaughter Free Market Ham  @hasslehoford

Dead Cat in the Hat   @dimestoreninja 
The Shat in the Hat
Bi-Polar Express- (by many)

Charlotte's Web of Lies  @rumbleskillz or 
Charlotte's Webcam

The Very Horny Caterpillar
The Very Hungry Caterpillar has an Eating Disorder

Troll Cat in the Hat   @fakealanbostick

The Jungle Warfare Guide Book  @makiatoe
The Jungle Book of Mormon   @phanxjey

Horton Hires a Ho
Horton Hears Domestic Violence in the Apartment Next Door

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Rash

Harriet the NSA Spy

Winnie the Poop

Anne of Gangrene Gables @Adam Reakes

Charlie and the Methamphetamine Factory
Charlie and the Cocaine Factory

The Babysitter's Fight Club

The Lion, the Witch and the IKEA Wardrobe

Are You There, God? It's Me, Madonna
Are You There, God? It's Me, Jake from State Farm

The Boy Who Cried Wolf of Wall Street.

Where'd Waldo Touch You?  @Tycaseydoe

Oliver Nipple Twist

James and the Giant Peach Schnapps
James and the Giant Peach Shaped Tumor
James and the Giant Peen

Goodnight, Moonshine

The Secret of Nympho

The Secret Garden of Weed

Oh, the Places You'll Go When You Get in My Van  

Harry Pot Head and the Philosophers Stoned

The Wizard of 40 oz.

The Grinch That Stole My Virginity

Are You My Mother? No, You're Sober  @joshacagan

Little House in the Projects

You're a Good Man, Charlie Sheen

Friday, March 21, 2014

"In a gentle way, you can shake the world."

"Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place."- Kurt Vonnegut

             Happy National Puppy Day.   Here, you look like you need a hug!  One of my favorite puppy videos features a gorgeous perfectly pampered blonde American cocker spaniel melting the hearts of all who see him frolicking in the sprinkler with his brothers and sisters. Allow yourself to go full on Chad Softwick as you adore this sweet little rascals stunningly beautiful demeanor. Your welcome.

    Please, adopt your next best friend from a shelter or rescue. Please, don't support puppy mills or pet shops you suspect breed puppy/kitty mill animals. Remember, our animals depend on us for survival. Treat them with respect and loving kindness.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it--always.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

     Do we want the truth? Do we really want to know what's happening? Do we want The Bachelor " reality TV" or the FOX News "reality TV"? The brutal truth of the world we inhabit can be raw, disturbing, and painful. Only through the scope of a camera lens or a video news story are we able to remotely comprehend the overwhelming injustice inflicted upon a gay Russian teenager, a Mexican sex slave or an innocent Syrian refugee, otherwise hopelessly forgotten. Can you imagine living every single day of your life in fear?  Unveiling the truth means no longer averting your eyes, denying facts or feeling superior to other cultures, religions or countries. True understanding and compassion comes only when you meet another human being on the same level. Behind our masks we are equals. If we're unable to start there we're prevented from aligning with true empathy. But it all starts with knowing a story. What story needs to be told?

        VICE,  and VICE Media is the brainchild of chief executive and correspondent, Shane Smith. Smith is an Emmy nominated, Canadian-American journalist who is poised for global media domination. The VICE News video clip shown above is a tame preview compared to the healthy dose of  Holy Shit the World Sucks full length journalism segments you will see on HBO. Previous seasons episodes of VICE News have been uploaded to YouTube channel for free.
      After you've been exposed to a controversial topic or watched VICE News for more than a few hours you will either choose to further investigate a subject or you'll want your mommy to hold you tight and tell you everything will be okay. More likely you'll want to temporarily search and view kinder, gentler viral videos of strangers kissing or adorable puppies and kittens licking each others whiskers, because for a moment you may want to remind yourself that beauty still exists.
      Daily, we balance ourselves on a high wire between darkness and light. Without balance, despair can hang over our heads like a broken umbrella leaving us shivering and soaked to the bone. So I commend VICE News for punching me in the face with reality, I just prefer my gut jabs to be more Vanguardian (Vanguard, the international news series created on the now defunct Current TV) with award winning, extraordinarily intelligent and thoughtful journalists, Laura Ling, Kaj Larsen, Adam Yamaguchi, Marianna van Zeller and Christof Putzel. International journalists and North American correspondents deliver first hand accounts of intense events we usually feel we have little or no power to control. Even with a perception of considerable distance, globally we are more connected than ever before.  No matter the preference or source we discern from those who investigate, report and film the news putting their own lives in extreme danger to keep us informed. We have a choice. We can turn our eyes away or we can place the focus on our own education and understanding.     

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” 
― Aldous Huxley, Complete Essays 2, 1926-29

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

“Walk slowly through the world and pay attention”

“Sometimes,' said Pooh, 'the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
― A.A. Milne

      This week the TOP TEN Comedy downloads at the iTunes store are:
10. The Essential Weird Al Yankovic- Weird Al Yankovic
 9. Himself- Bill Cosby
 8. True Stories I Made Up- Daniel Tosh
 7. Beyond the Pale- Jim Gaffigan
 6. Harmful if Swallowed- Dane Cook
 5. Unsung Hero- Josh Sneed
 4. Obsessed- Jim Gaffigan
 3. King Baby- Jim Gaffigan
 2. Brian Regan- Brian Regan
 1. Mr. Universe- Jim Gaffigan 

      You may have noticed by scanning the list one comedian appears to dominate the downloads. Jim Gaffigan is an Illinois born, Indiana native and father of five whose deadpan delivery and brilliant sarcasm has us "Obsessed" with this beyond pale 'King Baby". 'Mr Universe" is currently the crowning glory of comedy downloads and Gaffigan has recently released a new book titled Dad is Fat. As the tale goes "Dad is fat." were the first words proudly scrawled on a dry erase board by one of Gaffigan's young sons. Besides being genuinely funny on a wide range of topics from  food fetishes to the art of napping, utilising his observational genius with family friendly wit and clean language what other attributes have heralded Jim Gaffigan's obvious rise in popularity?  Gaffigan  himself grew up in a large Midwestern family, married a devout Catholic woman and is a devoted father of two daughters and three sons. Many parents can easily relate to his jokes. Listening to comedy is immediate stress relief. Being a parent may be frustrating at times but doesn't have to be debilitating if you put life events into perspective. It's imperative that all parents develop a sense of humor and laughter is especially important for parents to be. My brother Dave and sister-in-law Krissy will welcome their first child later this year. WHOO HOO! Congratulations! So if you know any potential parents who will be celebrating a bundle of joy with family dinners, parties and baby showers, add a special gift of laughter for Mom & Dad. They will need it. Check out the video above.
 Wait until the Louis C.K baby names blog rolls out.
 But for now, here is a clever snippet from "Dad is Fat" :

“No matter how you feel about your extended family or family gatherings you will be attending. This is because now the ultimate reason for attending family gatherings is for your children to have the time of their lives with their cousins. Little kids love their cousins. I’m not being cute or exaggerating here. Cousins are like celebrities for little kids. If little kids had a People magazine, cousins would be on the cover. Cousins are the barometers of how fun a family get-together will be. “Are the cousins going to be there? Fun!”
― Jim Gaffigan, Dad Is Fat  

  Bri, Drew, Kaitlyn and Jared- all of you will make a positive impression welcoming your new cousin. And Parker has kisses waiting.

     What allows us to create or maintain a sense of humor is the ability to observe. We have to pay attention. Like babies and children, we should be fascinated by what surrounds us. Admittedly, most of us don't or won't stop to look around once in awhile. Humor or sarcasm places our personal and global circumstances into proper perspective allowing us to teach children the resilience they'll need to survive. Without a doubt, children learn their coping skills from the adults around them. Life is both cruel and beautiful, comic and tragic, in times of crisis we give children strength. We give them hope. There are few gifts of gratitude sweeter than sharing our laughter or making others smile. Great love and laughter walk hand in hand.

     A special Happy Birthday to my niece, Brianne on March 14th. Love you, always and forever.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness

       Since the first proclamation in 1943 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, March has been designated Red Cross Month. The American Red Cross is part of the largest volunteer network found in over 187 countries. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent network is the largest humanitarian force on the globe with a presence and assistance in almost every country. The network is made up of all the national and international organizations around the world which are allowed to use the Red Cross or Red Crescent emblem. It also represents all the activities they undertake to relieve human suffering throughout the world.

     The global network is unified and guided by seven Fundamental Principles: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. All Red Cross and Red Crescent activities have one essential central goal: to help alleviate suffering.  Without discrimination, whether during conflict, in response to natural or man-made disasters, or due to conditions of chronic poverty their purpose is assist those in times of greatest need. The International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red CrossRed Crescent Societies and the national societies are independent. Each body has its own individual status and does not exercise authority over the others. The highest decision-making body of the global network is the International Conference which meets every four years to ensure unity in the work of the international network. Together, they discuss and act upon humanitarian issues of common interest. Delegates to the International Conference are members of the ICRC the IFRC, national societies and representatives from signatories to the Geneva Convention. For more in-depth information regarding the Red Cross including how to become a volunteer or donate go to their website at .

         Founded by Clara Barton in 1881, the  American Red Cross is one of the most important, trusted and immediately recognized humanitarian organizations in the USA.  The American Red Cross is not a government agency and depends entirely upon charitable public donations to continue its mission of service including disaster relief, blood donation supplies, supporting military families and providing health education and safety training to millions of our citizens.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

"If speaking is silver, then listening is gold."

"Neither a man nor a crowd or a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of great fear."- Bertrand Russell

    This is  referred to as a  "The More You Know"  post because there are many Americans (including myself) who vaguely understand or confuse circumstances and historical significance surrounding Russia, Crimea and Ukraine. Most American citizens were aware of  the political conflict but were shielded from the intensity. We  have become more exposed to Russia's social intolerance, human and animal rights violations and environmental issues since the Sochi Olympics but interest fades and fickle attention spans return once the games are over. We know even less about Crimea and Ukraine. Now is a good time to catch up on your history and geography.

      A referendum on the status of Crimea is to be held on March 16th 2014, Russian news agencies have reported. Crimea is a sovereign Ukrainian territory, home to a large ethnic Ukrainian population and popular vacation/tourist destination. Crimea is to the Ukraine as the Florida Keys are to Florida and the US.  Why is Crimea so important to Russia?  The naval base at Sevastopol, on Crimea’s southwestern tip (Mediterranean) ensures Russia remains a global military power. 
 According to Forbes  contributor  Greg Satell , "It has been alleged that the port city has been used extensively to supply Bashar al-Assad throughout the current civil war in Syria. And while the lease agreement with Ukraine regarding the base remains valid until 2047, the majority of the Black Sea coastline is held by NATO allies except for Georgia on the east, which is actively seeking NATO membership, and Ukraine in the north." Crimea is an integral part of the Ukraine. Demonstrators continue to protest but not all Crimean's are pro-Russian by any means.
     Another ominous result of the Russian- Ukrainian clash is the continued censorship of journalists, photographers, cameramen and foreign correspondents.  In Russia, the number of unsolved murders has soared since 2006 when journalist and human rights activist, Anna Politkovskaya was shot to death near her home in Moscow. Politkovskaya was well known for her public opposition of Vladimir Putins policies in Chechnya. Since 1992, hundreds of journalists, cameramen, photographers and editors have mysteriously disappeared,  been abducted, tortured or died in a violent and unexplained manner. According to the Paris-based organization Reporters without Borders between  March of 2000 and July of 2007, 21 Russian  journalists were murdered because of their work. These brutal statistics beg the world to further investigate why these voices are being permanently silenced.
      Diplomacy is the only option.  Future negotiations should focus on stabilizing the Ukrainian government and economy, seeking peaceful resolution without personal aggression or military intimidation and keeping all lines of communication open without fear of retribution.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

“Let silence take you to the core of life.”

“Listen closely... the eternal hush of silence goes on and on throughout all this, and has been going on, and will go on and on. This is because the world is nothing but a dream and is just thought of and the everlasting eternity pays no attention to it.” Jack Kerouac
In Silence by Thomas Merton

Be still.
Listen to the stones of the wall.
Be silent, they try
to speak your

to the living walls.

Who are you?
are you? Whose
silence are you?

Who (be quiet)
are you (as these stones
are quiet). Do not
think of what you are
still less of
what you may one day be.

be what you are (but who?)
be the unthinkable one
you do not know.

O be still, while
you are still alive,
and all things live around you

speaking (I do not hear)
to your own being,
speaking by the unknown
that is in you and in themselves.

“I will try, like them
to be my own silence:
and this is difficult. The whole
world is secretly on fire. The stones
burn, even the stones they burn me.
How can a man be still or
listen to all things burning?
How can he dare to sit with them
when all their silence is on fire?”