Thursday, July 31, 2014

"Love is the One Thing That Transcends Time and Space."

“We are made of stellar ash. Our origin and evolution have been tied to distant cosmic events. The exploration of the cosmos is a voyage of self-discovery.” ― Carl Sagan, Cosmos


According to a recent informal IMDb movie poll the most anticipated films of 2014 are 
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Guardians of the Galaxy
Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For, 
The Hobbit 3: The Battle of the Five Armies 

and my personal choice, Christopher Nolan's sci-fi epic Interstellar.  If  previews are an indication, similar to the brilliant British director's previous work,  Interstellar will be a stunning visual  feast. The screenplay was a collaborative effort between Christopher Nolan and his accomplished brother Johnathan, produced by Christopher Nolan's wife Emma Thomas and Lynda Obst, with cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytem and music by legendary composer, Hans Zimmer . In 2010, Zimmer created one of the most beautiful and powerful film scores for the thrilling heist drama Inception, one of my  favorite movies of all time. Inception was written, directed and produced by the amazing mind of Christopher Nolan. Eager North American audiences will have to countdown to November 7th when the valiant voyage of the mythic space odyssey is scheduled  for official lift off. Until the release date, have a taste of the intriguing clip above.

Interstellar features Oscar winner, Matthew McConaughey as part of an adventurous team of space travelers who encounter an unexpected wormhole. The film reunites two other cast members from Nolan's super successful Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises's Anne Hathaway and the celebrated Michael Caine.  The movie has a remarkable all star cast including, Oscar nominated (The Help and Zero Dark Thirty), Jessica Chastain, handsome Wes Bentley of Hunger Games fame and the talented Casey Affleck. John Lithgow, Bill Irwin, Ellen Burstyn  David Gyasi and Topher Grace round out an exciting ensemble. For more information and up to the minute film highlights check out the Interstallar movie website below.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

“Non-violence, which is the quality of the heart, cannot come by an appeal to the brain.”

“Non-violence, which is the quality of the heart, cannot come by an appeal to the brain.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

     Mad Max: Fury Road  peers into an uncertain, "every man and woman for themselves" apocalyptic future, featuring a stellar cast, talented crew and worthy appeal to special effects enthusiasts and gear heads across the land. Set to be released in 2015, Comi-Con revealed our first look at the remodeled Max on "Preview Night". This year marks the 45th anniversary of the Comi-Con show, making it the country’s longest continuously-run comics and popular arts convention. As a lover of cinema or chameleon actor Tom Hardy, many have been anticipating the film's trailer which is an intense, action packed adrenaline pumping thrill ride. It doesn't disappoint. But it does make you ponder.
     We live in a world of war, endless fighting and constant conflict. What if the Mad Max scenario is the future of humankind? What the story of Mad Max really brought to mind is the question: " As a species, why are we so violent"?  Humans are violent creatures. Is acting on aggression a habit? Where does this violent behavior come from? Are we hardwired with it, or do we learn this behavior?  And is there any way to move beyond being a violent creature?  Author and activist Thich Nhat Hanh wrote in his thought provoking, philosophical book,  Living Buddha, Living Christ, that although we often think of peace as the absence of war, this is our own illusion :
     "Even if we transport all the bombs to the moon, the roots of war and the roots of bombs are still there, in our hearts and minds, and sooner or later we will make new bombs. To work for peace is to uproot war from ourselves and from the hearts of men and women. To prepare for war, to give millions of men and women the opportunity to practice killing day and night in their hearts, is to plant millions of seeds of violence, anger, frustration, and fear that will be passed on for generations to come. ” 
    Richard Wrangham, a Professor of Biological Anthropology in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University has studied primate behavioral ecology, violence, ape conservation and the evolution of human diet since 1989. He has observed wild chimpanzee behavior in Kibale National Park, Uganda. In 1996, Wrangham and Dale Peterson published Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (Houghton Mifflin). During an interview for The BigThink Wrangham stated that exploring questions about the roots of human violence is one of the most fascinating aspects of human evolution. Is it fully understood? No.
              “We are an unusual species because we have such an extraordinary mix of these two aspects. We show them both to extremes; we’re amazingly more cooperative than almost any other species and we’re extraordinarily destructive compared to most other species."  

     So human beings have the ability to choose between intolerance and violent aggression benefiting few or resolving conflict with understanding and diplomatic means benefiting many. Why do we continuously choose violence and conflict? Which seeds do we want to sow for our future generations?


Saturday, July 26, 2014

“Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of that which you truly love.”

“Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of that which you truly love.” Rumi

“Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression
  by saying something,
  and sometimes one creates
  as significant an impression
  by remaining silent.”

     ―  Tenzin Gyatso, Dalai Lama XIV

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"And when I'm dreaming, I know that it's all right."

"I'm letting all these feelings out even if it means I fail,
 Cause this is what I was meant to do and you can't put that on sale."
-"Back to the Shack"  Weezer

          Everything Will Be Alright in the End,  is available for pre-order right now before being unleashed worldwide September 30th. Weezer's lastest  release was produced by former Car's creator and musical mastermind, Ric Ocasek.   Ahead of the premiere date the band will play a series of North American shows beginning on July 24th. Check their website for more details.
      Weezer will be performing live on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday, July 23rd, 11:30pm EST.
      Like their catchy riffs and stick- in- your- head lyrics the cover for Everything Will Be Alright in the End is as unique as the band.  In a interview, Weezer's guitarist front man and vocal virtuoso, Rivers Cuomo explained the artwork:
        “Right now, all I can say is that there’s something about the vibe of that painting that really appeals to me where it’s kind of terrifying and it’s kind of endearing and cute at the same time, It’s right on this line, this edge between scary and funny which I think is appealing to me. I think Weezer has been on that line for a lot of our career.” 
      Artist Chris McMahon has been gaining a steady following after designing a set of landscape paintings featuring these magnetic monsters.
 See more of Mc Mahon's work here:

     Yes, life in general is definitely walking on the edge between scary and funny. But in the end, listening to Weezer allows us to tolerate a few more memorable minutes each day.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

“ There are moments when the light reaches you.”

“Love is of all the passions the strongest, for it attacks simultaneously the head, the heart, and the senses.”
― Lao Tzu

     Author, Richard C. Morais's enchanting novel "The Hundred-Foot Journey" inspired  Steven Knight's (Locke) highly anticipated screenplay for the movie opening August 8th. The film was produced by powerhouse trifecta, Juliet Blake, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey. "The Hundred-Foot Journey's" international cast stars Academy, BAFTA and Golden Globe winner, Dame Helen Mirren and introduces many movie audiences to adorable Manish Dayal who portrays a genius initiate chef to Mirren's queen of cuisine, Madame Mallory. 

      Swedish writer and director of "Chocolat", "What's Eating Gilbert Grape " and " The Cider House Rules",  Lasse Halstrom takes the helm on an extraordinary culinary quest of perfection. If you have been fortunate to see a movie preview or read the book,  you know the story serves up a generous mixture of  spicy romance, a pinch of passion,  more than a healthy heaping of humor and a delicious dash of universal wisdom. Foodie or not, we are all craving the release of  one soul satisfying meal.

“But even in hell there are moments when the light reaches you.” Richard C. Morais, The Hundred-Foot Journey

Friday, July 18, 2014

"Find the Strength to Open Your Heart"

"Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things."
— Thomas Merton 

       Recent world events may provide some of us with enough distance to pause or reflect on our own humanity. Still more of us adopt an attitude of " it will never happen to me." "It's far away.", "It's not my family, "It's not my problem." But there is a measurable difference between those who abuse this stance due to callousness and those who must use distance in order to emotionally survive emergency situations or help resolve conflict. 

Pema Chodron, author of  "The Places That Scare You" relates a powerful message:
      " For arousing compassion, the nineteenth-century yogi Patrul Rinpoche suggested imagining beings in torment — an animal about to be slaughtered, a person awaiting execution. To make it more immediate, he recommended imagining ourselves in their place. Particularly painful is his image of a mother with no arms watching as a raging river sweeps her child away. To contact the suffering of another being fully and directly is as painful as being in the woman's shoes."

     Compassion encompasses all living creatures and until we realize we are all connected on this Earth, we will continue to watch men, women, children and animals suffer in violent acts of war, terrorism and hatred. Apathy and indifference will continue which is easier than searching deep inside ourselves for genuine understanding of another persons loss, pain and frustration. We have an untapped capacity for empathy. Most human beings know what it feels like to suffer injustice. That's why we react when human and animal rights atrocities occur. We allow ourselves to feel, to imagine being in another's place, human or animal. Children learn this life altering skill from observing the adults in their lives.
       Selfishly, many adult criminals refuse to extend empathy or compassion to animals especially if money and power are involved. Right now, worldwide and in cities across the United States there are thousands of puppies in local pet shops who are bought and sold from illegal puppy mills or breeding factories. These animals suffer tremendous cruelty while mass produced, neglected, tortured, killed and tossed away like stuffed toys. Puppy mills are the main supplier of puppies to pet stores in your community and pet shops online. July 21st has been designated NO PET STORE PUPPIES DAY.  For more information please follow the link here:  With so many unwanted and perfectly adoptable pets in shelters why would any one chose to support a puppy mill by purchasing at a pet store? Please, expand your awareness of these operations in your own neighborhood. Animals depend on us for their survival. Please, don't allow them to suffer. All animals are a part of our family and no member of  Earth's  family is insignificant.



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Know what happiness is for you.."

"It's good to be able to laugh at yourself and the problems you face in life. Sense of humor can save you."- Margaret Cho (Brainy Quote)

     Eight releases in eight days bestowed upon music lovers around the world. Thank you, "Weird Al"   Yankovic.  "I Love Rocky Road" was my first scoop of this amazingly versatile artist's tasty spoof treats. My youngest nephew is a huge fan and so is anyone with a love of music and a developed sense of humor.
    Produced by multi talented Nerdist creator Chris Hardwick, Seth Laderman and Johnny Wickham the video for "Weird Al" Yankovic's 'Tacky"-the Pharrell Williams's "Happy" parody is one continuous  intentionally tasteless take. The funny obnoxious spoof features "Weird Al " with guest appearances by lovely comedians Aisha Tyler, Margaret Cho, Kristen Schaal as well as actor Eric Stonestreet and the lovable comically crude joker Jack Black. 
     "Mandatory Fun", " Weird Al's " fourteenth studio album released today will feature "Inactive" a parody of Imagine Dragons, "Radioactive" and "Foil" a genius look at Lorde's "Royals". 
 A little lyrical preview:
“I never seem to finish all my food.
 I always get a doggie bag from the waiter.
 So I just keep what’s still  unchewed.
 And I take it home. 
 Save it for later”  

 Trust me. We are all saving room for more of "Weird Al"s scrumtrulescent desserts in the days to come.

Friday, July 11, 2014

"The Heart Leads You Back..."

“Make your mistakes, take your chances, look silly, but keep on going. Don’t freeze up.” ― Thomas Wolfe, You Can't Go Home Again

       Reflecting on his life in a Sports Illustrated  ( first person essay NBA star LeBron James stated , "My relationship with Northeast, Ohio is bigger than basketball." and openly admits, "I didn't realize that four years ago. I do now."  Besides Thomas Wolfe, who says you can't go home again? Sure Northeast Ohio and especially Cleveland has been the punchline for  endless jokes over the years. (i.e "What are the only two seasons in Cleveland?- Winter and construction.)"  LeBron James is like a "snowbird" grandparent in reverse, leaving Florida to move home to his native Akron. Crowned with "The Mistake on the Lake" moniker long before King James was even a twinkle in the eye, it's time for a resurgence. So besides the return of  LeBron what else is hot in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio right now?

       The Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame
 In the early years of radio Alan Freed popularized the term " rock ‘n’ roll" as a Cleveland deejay. Local stations still refer to Cleveland as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Capital of the World. Although this claim may be disputed, North East Ohio has produced many notable musicians from Nine Inch Nails, Devo, pianist Jim Brickman, Tracey Chapman, Filter, The O'Jays, and Guided by Voices to Akron's Chrissie Hynde and The Black Keys. The choice of Cleveland as site of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and Museum resulted from tireless organized fund raising efforts to win a call in poll when sites were being considered.

   GREAT MOHICAN POW-WOW • July 11-13, 2014
Pow-Wow time is the Native American people's way of coming together, dancing, visiting, singing renewing friendships and making new acquaintances. The Pow-Wow includes dancing, story telling, drumming, crafts, trades, great food and more. This year featuring POW-MIA Ohio Vietnam Wall & Program. Competitors and guests come from around the country. You can plan to spend a day or a weekend enjoying the tradition and pageantry of Native American culture. This friendly competition is held at Mohican Reservation Campground. 1-800-766-2267 or

67th Annual Italian Festival
Lock 3
200 S Main St, Akron, OH 44308
For more information

 IT'S ALIVE! Young Frankenstein is Fully Charged at Beck Center
80th Anniversary Season Closes With Electrifying Mel Brooks Musical
Purchase tickets online at 
Beck Center for the Arts is located at 17801 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood, just ten minutes west of downtown Cleveland. 

Summer Festival of the Arts
Saturday 10am-7pm; Sunday 11am-5pm
Youngstown State University's annual Summer Festival of the Arts features over 70 local, regional, and national artists. Artist's Marketplace and family activities including children's hands-on art tent. Music, theater and dance performances by various groups throughout both days. Festival of Nations features foods and performances from various ethnic and cultural groups in the Mahoning Valley.

Toledo Lighthouse Festival Jul 13, 2014
Sat 10 am-8 pm, Sun 11 am-5 pm $3/person
Boat rides around Maumee Bay State Park, 1400 State Park Rd., 419.691.3788
Jul 12, 2014 - Over 50 nautical arts and crafts vendors; silent auction with gift cards, sports memorabilia, continuous entertainment in the amphitheatre, delicious festival foods, children's activities, a sand castle contest, and more.

Go see a Cleveland Indians game at Progressive Field
 or enjoy a  "Grape Escape" Wine-Tasting Excursion
Each train trip is 2 hours in length and travels through Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Time: 7:00-9:00 pm
Departs: Rockside Station

After growing up in Ohio, moving away and recently returning home there is plenty of family, beauty and history missed and even more to discover and appreciate.
So welcome to Northeast, Ohio or welcome back. It's not Miami but at least it's not Detroit. (wink!)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"The world is its own magic."

"The world is its own magic." Shunryu Suzuki

"Wherever you are, 

you are one with the clouds

and one with the sun 

and the stars you see.

You are one with everything.

That is more true than I can say,

and more true than you can hear."

-  Shunryu Suzuki

Saturday, July 5, 2014

"Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky..."

“Music doesn't lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music. ”
― Jimi Hendrix

    Eighteen years ago today, July 5th 1996- Atlanta, Georgia's most iconic hip- hop group OutKast released "Elevators (Me &You)" from their second album "ATliens" and I've been an admirer of  Andre "Andre 3000" Benjamin and  Antwan" Big Boi" Patton ever since. The song peaked at #12 on the Billboard charts which helped cement their place in mainstream music yet OutKast always remained authentic, staying true to their own unique alternative style.  Musically, honoring sincerity is something Jimi Hendrix emphasized early in his own career.  Andre Benjamin, thirty-nine, portrays one of the most legendary guitar heroes of all time in the upcoming biopic "Jimi: All Is By My Side", a glimpse of  Hendrix's most successful year 1966-67. Hendrix died of accidental asphyxia stemming from a drug overdose in 1970.  It has been noted that the estate of Jimi Hendrix refused to loan the music rights to the film for Andre Benjamin to perform as Hendrix, citing they wouldn't do it unless they were allowed full participation in the movies production.  "All is By My Side" is set for a September release and it's already generating quite a world-wide buzz. Check out a few clips above and make your own comparisons.

     The screenplay was written and movie directed by John Ridley who most notably won the Oscar for his work on the incredibly potent "12 Years a Slave". Did director John Ridley intuitively know that Andre Benjamin would be the perfect fit to play Jimi Hendrix? Those who have previewed the movie say Benjamin's performance is "spot on" and "electrifying". The film will feature British beauty Imogen Poots as London socialite Linda Keith and Hayley Atwell as Hendrix's captivating muse, Kathy Etchingham. Both women are credited with launching Jimi Hendrix's career. Can't wait!

  Happy B-day D!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

" Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.."

"Some gave up home and love of friends,
And went in quest of thee, self banished,
Through dreary oceans, through primeval forests,
Each step a struggle for their life or death;"

-To The Fourth of July by Swami Vivekananda

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.