Sunday, August 31, 2014

"To Justify the Unjustifiable."

“From the beginning men used God to justify the unjustifiable.”
― Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses 

                An extremist ideology of any kind distorts perception of reality. The inability to allow others the basic human dignity of freely expressing, practicing or questioning their own belief or political system is a form of psychological enslavement. Oppression, terrorism, violence,  are all  manipulative tactics used to gain power and control. Fundamentalism is characterized by extreme religious behavior which tends to elevate text or literal translation as the infallible words of God rather than translated and interpreted by man. Extremists dislike uncertainty and demand allegiance. A higher purpose allows them to commit atrocities without remorse. Their calling extinguishes their own light of humanity, believing they will be praised and rewarded for deeds in the afterlife. The straight and narrow, obedience, discourages contemplation or questioning. The extremist's world is right or wrong, black or white, left or right, liberal or conservative. There is no gray, no compromise, no need for diplomacy, no mutual respect. Why should there be? You are the devil, evil, less than human and they see themselves as most certainly right.

“What can you say to a man who tells you he prefers obeying God rather than men, and that as a result he's certain he'll go to heaven if he cuts your throat?” 
― Voltaire, Philosophical Dictionary.

      Although we immediately identify oppression in other countries we neglect to examine the extremism in our own country or investigate the "American Taliban".  All fundamentalists distort scripture or tenets of a religion in order to establish dominance or gain political sovereignty. Morality is no longer an issue when everything they do is justified as God's will  including beating, starving, torturing men, women and children, honor killings, genocide and rape. Fundamentalism is not only intolerant but sadistically inhuman and sectarian. Extremist ideology systematically condones restricting the rights of women, often seen as less valuable, even less human as a man. Extremists have an almost obsessive restriction on female sexuality and independence. What do they fear? What do they want? Fundamentalist ideas tend to be barbaric and cruel in the face of modern society and modern morality. If we truly wish to understand our enemies we must first look inside ourselves. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

"The satiric and sublime...."

"Clown and guru are a single identity: the satiric and sublime side of the same higher vision of life". - Theodore Rozak-author


 You may recognize North Carolina native, comedian, actor and writer, Zach Galifianakis from his Emmy Award winning internet comedy series on Funny or Die,  "Between Two Ferns" or numerous films from the hilarious  Hangover series to the political satire, The Campaign co-starring Will Ferrell. Coming soon to FX you'll discover Galifianakis in a brand new sitcom co-created by Emmy winning superstar stand-up comedian, writer, Louis C.K and  Portlandia writer and director, Johnathan Krisel titled, Baskets. Ten episodes are in the works set to begin filming for FX by Louis C.K's production company Pig Newton in 2015 for a 2016 debut. But fans would love to see the start date moved up sooner. The official  network description of the comedy is listed below:

"In a world constrained by corporate interests and the homogenization of society, one man in Bakersfield, California dares to follow his dream of becoming a professional clown.  But after an unsuccessful enrollment at a prestigious clowning school in Paris, the only job he can find is with the local rodeo.  Baskets follows Chip Baskets’ (Zach Galifianakis) pursuit of his dream, against all odds, to be a respected clown." 

     Memorable Zach Galifianakis Quotes:

 "The only time it's ok to yell out 'I have diarrhea' is when you're playing Scrabble...because it's worth a shitload of points."

"I failed kindergarten because I couldn't spell my last name."

"When I was a kid I had dyslexia. I would write about it in my "dairy".

"I told my neighbor I was going to be on the Conan O'Brien Show, and he was like, "Yeah, right." I said, "No, I am." He goes, "So do something only you and I would understand." *looks straight into camera and stops playing piano* I know you stole my rake."

"I'm writing a book about Siamese Twins that are attached at the nose. It's called: "Stop Staring at Me!"

"You know you're an alcoholic when the bartender knows your name... and you've never been to that bar before."

Monday, August 25, 2014

“Dogs are the magicians of the universe.”

“Dogs are the magicians of the universe.” ― Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

       Founded in 2004, "National Dog Day" is celebrated by animal lovers around the globe on August 26th of each year.  Created by author and animal behaviorist, Colleen Paige, the day has been designated to promote rescue shelter awareness, dog adoption and celebrate the human-canine connection. It's a special day to honor and appreciate dogs that assist our Armed Forces and emergency services,  dogs who serve as guide and companion canines as well as the dogs who share our lives as part of our families.
     Most importantly, August 26th is a day to act, a day to continue education and rescue efforts,  preventing abuse and neglect of these beautiful animals. The goal of the "National Dog Day Foundation" is to save the lives of at least 10,000 a year. 
     Did you know?

Dogs can be trained to sniff out cancer and other diseases in humans. Mysteriously, dogs can predict epileptic seizures and it's been scientifically proven they can detect fluctuations in our blood sugar. 

Watch ten more incredible facts here:


Friday, August 22, 2014

“We don’t create a fantasy world to escape reality, we create it to be able to stay.”

“We don’t create a fantasy world to escape reality, we create it to be able to stay.”
― Lynda Barry - American author, cartoonist 

          Before you dismiss the 2014 Emmy Awards Show as another aggrandizing, shallow show business fluffa-thon, delve deeper into our allure of fantasy and performance, especially when our world appears to be in a constant state of chaos.  Throughout history from our earliest ancestors cave drawings to our modern scientifically based 3D graphic designs, entertainment is more than a sitcom or mini-series, show business is a necessary form of escape.  Even the Emmy statue itself is a unique work of art- a  graceful winged  muse balancing a solitary atom representing the Television Academy's desire to elevate the arts and sciences. Moderation is key to escapism. As the obscure rock band Circe Survive philosophized, "the difference between medicine and poison is in the dose." 
     A spoonful of escapism prevents dystopia from going down. Without a sugary sweet sprinkling of positively preposterous affirmations, Mary Poppins wouldn't be so supercalifragilisticexpeali .. no? During stressful events and tragic circumstances it's imperative to refocus our attention- it's for our own survival. A shift in our thought  patterns prevents us from becoming hopeless and depressed when a situation is out of our control. Atrocities in our world continue but we can all play a part in helping  each other.  Most of us do have control over our own mind. We have the power to prevent further escalation. We have the power to prevent further damage. Now is the time to show our appreciation for beauty and pleasures great and small in our lives. What do we know of tomorrow?  Now is the time to honor the people who make us laugh, cry and contemplate.  Now is the time to show our gratitude for those who keep us informed, entertained and especially those who keep us safe.  

     One of my favorite quotes of all time was eloquently spoken by English professor John Keating portrayed by Robin Williams from "Dead Poets Society". Keating's inspirational words were soul crafted by a brilliant screenplay writer  named Tom Schulman:

    " We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be? "
      Theater, dance, drama, music, comedy, graphics, special effects, costume and set design, audio, direction, writing  -all of the entertainment arts and sciences serve humanity in more ways than we can ever imagine. When our children choose careers in  sports, humanities or performing arts we should be as equally encouraging, elated and proud as those who pursue political science, medicine, or physics. It ALL matters. We all deserve to make our own wish. Allow your star to illuminate a new path in the universe. 

Congratulations to the Graduate. Love you, Drew.
Birthday wishes to Jack.
Peace always to my family and friends.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"Find a new way to stand."

“Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don't fight them. Just find a new way to stand.”
― Oprah Winfrey                          

 Gratitude to Old Teachers 

                           by Robert Bly

When we stride or stroll across the frozen lake,
We place our feet where they have never been.
We walk upon the unwalked. But we are uneasy.
Who is down there but our old teachers?

Water that once could take no human weight—
We were students then—holds up our feet,
And goes on ahead of us for a mile.
Beneath us the teachers, and around us the stillness.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

"Things are not what they seem; Nor are they otherwise."

Things are not what they seem;
Nor are they otherwise.

-   Lankavatara Sutra

      Buried beneath grim shadows, drowned in fear, burns an intense heat of power hungry rage, human history punctuated by hatred . Fury is uncontrolled anger. Rage is destructive.
Anger is not always so. But how much anger is too much anger? 
When does anger begin to destroy you, hurt those
 around you- every breath a contagious disease? 

     Some anger is healthy. Anger can be a healthy emotion. If we feel threatened anger will motivate us to take action. Anger transformed with passion will foster positive change. Instinctively, the natural way for human beings to express anger is to respond aggressively. Anger is an adaptive response to threats; it inspires powerful feelings and behaviors allowing us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked.
 A certain amount of anger is necessary for our survival.           
Healthy anger allows us to protect our boundaries from invasion.

      But too much anger distorts our reality. It makes our blood boil.  Our temperatures rise. We may want to scream, slam a door or smash something or much much worse, we may choose to harm, acting  out our violent impulses on other living beings. We are seeing so much anger in the world right now. But anger and right action are complicated. Contemplation on serious, effective resolution is more lasting, creative and productive with a clear, calm mind versus negative raging thought waves.

“Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody's power and is not easy.” ― Aristotle 

          Anger - " is an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage," according to Charles Spielberger, PhD, a psychologist specializing in anger studies.
 Anger, like other emotions is accompanied by measurable physiological and biological changes. Anger causes your heart rate and blood pressure to rise and increases levels of energy hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline. An adult or child's temporary temper tantrum may be viewed as healthy. Constant anger or rage is not. Uncontrollable angry outbursts can lead to serious quality of life issues from individual fighting to nations at war. Study after study supports that being angry all the time leads to high blood pressure and heart disease. We are not rational in a fit of rage. We will not be constructive- only destructive as we have seen time and time again throughout civilization. Unreleased or repressed anger may cause a number of serious physical and mental problems as well, including many forms of cancer and serious depression. Flaring up quickly, "angry" is never a natural state of mind. Anger is a disturbance of mind. But what often begins as a ripple on the pond, ends in a dangerous tsunami.

     At home or on the global stage, we must eventually let go of anger and frustration in order to move forward. Anger itself is not the problem, our problems arise from the direction of our own energy. We need to use our anger to motivate, to resolve conflict and search for real meaningful answers. Anger can no longer be used as an excuse to tear apart, place blame and accuse, destroying our lives and others lives in the process. All of us must carefully examine the true origins of our own anger. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"But this day, today, is yours."

"This day is a special day, it is yours."

        Robin Williams was not only an incredibly talented actor,  stage performer and comedian he was a great humanitarian with an exceptionally giving spirit. Williams contributed his time and resources to over twenty-eight charitable organizations including Comic Relief, Doctors Without Borders, The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, Prince's Trust and Dogs Deserve Better. One of  Robin Williams last public photo's was taken to raise awareness for former St. Louis Cardinals baseball manager Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF). 
      August 16th is "International Homeless Animals Day".  August 16th has been designated to  focus on pet over population and animal cruelty around the globe.  It's an opportunity for people to get involved with educational programs, organising events such as raffles, music concerts and dog walk-a-thons, to raise money and distribute vital information about spaying, neutering and puppy mills. Williams adopted his pug, "Leonard Bean",  from The Curly Tail Pug Rescue, a shelter in New York City.

     Robin Williams was adored, admired and respected by millions of fans around the world and although his tragic death will shed much deserved light on overcoming depression and suicide prevention, it is noted that in his family's public media statement they respectfully wished Robin Williams would forever be remembered for the endless gifts of laughter, love and compassion he so generously bestowed  upon his fellow travelers.
 Peace always, O Captain. My Captain.


This day is a special day, it is yours.
 Yesterday slipped away, it cannot be filled anymore with meaning.
About tomorrow nothing is known.
But this day, today, is yours, make use of it.
Today you can make someone happy.
Today you can help another.
This day is a special day, it is yours.

 by Vijaya Samarawickama

Sunday, August 10, 2014

"It's a marvelous night for a moondance."

 "The limits on your enlightenment come not from the age you stopped going to school but from the age you stopped being curious."- Dr.Neil de Grasse Tyson

      Do you ever wonder why we have a moon? What does it do? What would happen to the Earth if our moon disappeared? Why are so many poets, artists and musicians inspired by moonlight? Does the Moon affect our emotions and moods? Can you name all the phases of our Moon? How do lunar cycles effect oceans tides?  Why do wolves and dogs howl at the moon? Where did the word lunatic originate? Sorry, this post won't answer all the above questions but the Moon certainly provokes our inquisitive nature especially when appearing larger, brighter and more touchable than normal. We like it super sized. In fact, "Supermoon" isn't an astronomical term at all but was coined  in the past decade to describe the gigantic appearance of our lone gorgeous satellite.
      Sunday, August 10th, the moon will appear closer to the Earth than any other time in 2014. So be sure to go outside, look up at the night sky with awe and admire what most of us take for granted. Without the Moon, humans wouldn't exist. Winds on our surface would blow at hurricane force. Similar to planet Venus, Earth would  have an uninhabitable dense, toxic atmosphere. According to space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, besides orchestrating our tides, the Moon dictates the length of a day, the rhythm of the seasons and the very stability of our planet. Crucial, practical, reasons our survival depends on the Moon aside, what truly fascinates me is the profound insights garnered by scientists, writer's, philosophers, painters and composers such as Claude Debussy who created the breathtaking Clair de Lune, the French word for "Moonlight" or Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.  This evening balance your scientific knowledge of Moon facts with a marvelous night for a moondance.

     “The moon does not fight. It attacks no one. It does not worry. It does not try to crush others. It keeps to its course, but by its very nature, it gently influences. What other body could pull an entire ocean from shore to shore? The moon is faithful to its nature and its power is never diminished.” 
― Deng Ming-Dao, Everyday Tao: Living with Balance and Harmony

Friday, August 8, 2014

"Clouds come from time to time.."

Clouds come from time to time

and bring a chance for men to rest

from looking at the moon.

-Matsuo Basho

Monday, August 4, 2014

“The world is always open, waiting to be discovered.”

“Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.”
― Albert Szent-Györgyi

           Take common or ordinary information, expand your knowledge of the subject matter, add an engaging charismatic host and you're "going deep". Humorist and co-creator of National Geographic's hottest new show Going Deep with David Rees, takes an in depth look at common household items or simple overlooked concepts, blowing your mind with fresh analysis.
        Entertaining? Absolutely. Satirical? Only slightly. Rest assured Rees's adaptation of explanations in the show are  prepared with great consideration. Each episode concludes with tips and techniques viewers can try out in the comfort of their own homes. Heavily researched, fact-checked, and tested by a group of  accredited experts, Going Deep's format has been described as Bill Nye the Science Guy  possessed by Martha Stewart. Humor and curiosity are an unbeatable combination.
     Do you think you know how to make ice cubes? How do you tie your own shoe laces? Is there really a right way or wrong way to open and close a door? Those topics are just a few of the fascinating thirty minute how-to segments explored, Monday's at 10PM on the National Geographic Channel