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Archive for September, 2010

Dear Mr. Elmer,

Although you might consider this a bit disorthodox, I really, really, really appreciate you votin’ for me back when I was, ya know, gettin’ ready to run this great country (okay, almost run it unless the old guy kicked) so I could stop popping over the border into Canada with my family for health care. Please, please, please know that I don’t misunderestimate how much that meant to me, ya know, and that’s why I’m now personally thanking all my supporters, especially the athletic ones like you. I can’t refudiate the fact that having a wimp for a hubby did perspire me to go online and personally get naked for all the guys who slid one in the ballot box on my behind … oops, lol … behalf, but, ya know, I think I’ll really, really especially like you, so please add me to your skype, facebook and Bebo friend lists and fire up the webcam.

When I win the next erection, my promise is to redo a room in the White House just for chats with all you wonderful Americans who pushed and pushed and pushed really, really hard to get me through to the big finish. I think it’s important to keep my finger on the pulsings of all you voting guys, and since Todd will be busy with his new job as Secretary of the Interior Decorating, he won’t be able to do much, but he will probably watch since he’s right behind me in every move I make. My goal is to make history so good that I’ll get a monument like Washington’s, but rounder and maybe in pink.

Signed,
Your gal pal in the GOP,
Sarah Palin

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The Creator wants us to Drum. (God) wants us to corrupt the world with drums, dance, and chants. We’ve already corrupted the world with power and greed, which has gotten us nowhere. Now’s the time to corrupt the world with drum, dance, and chants.—-Babatunde Olatungi, Nigerian master drummer

Although the refrain “Feckin’ musicians” has been running through my head and out my mouth more than a little bit lately, I fully admit to having a soft spot … yes, in my head as well as in my heart … for those who create and perform amazing feats of sostenuto virtuosity. The brilliance of a maestro appeals on all levels, and the passion it takes to make music attracts in ways powdered rhino horn can only fake (much to the detriment of a population of wonderful creatures).

Musicians are gifted in a language I don’t speak and construct worlds from far different materials than those I have at my fingertips. The mystery of those worlds can catch my imagination and have me drifting for a very long time on a sea of contented wonder. They also understand my drives and passions, encouraging exploration of my own depths and applauding my less-melodic results, never to question a need to shut myself up within my head and live for a while in realms of my making or a demand to cough up a paycheck to prove my creations have merit. They can also take me out of my orbit and show me other ways a planet spins.

Contributions from the musical world are legion, and there’s no need here to wax lyrical on the rich layers music adds to life and to love. Thanks, however, to new lessons learned from a wonderful teacher who takes the time to show me parts of the world I don’t normally get to see, I have learned some about how music heals.

Of course, I’ve long known that music has charms to soothe the savage breast, as Congreve so succinctly summed a couple of hundred years ago, and have used lilting strains and building crescendos to get myself through traumas both emotional and physical. What I have missed until now, though is the healing powers of drums.

Experts believe that rhythmic drumming can aid health by inducing a deep sense of relaxation, reducing stress, and lowering blood pressure.

Mickey Hart, drummer for The Dead spent a lifetime studying not only the history of drumming, but the effects on the human condition, as well.

In 2000, Mickey Hart became a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to seek to establish new knowledge and develop more effective therapies which awaken, stimulate and heal through the extraordinary power of music — continuing his investigation into the connection between healing and rhythm, and the neural basis of rhythm.

The Institute for Music and Neurologic Function in New York understands the benefits:

Its aim is to restore, maintain and improve the physical, emotional and neurologic functioning in people who have been debilitated through stroke, trauma, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and other processes through the systematic use of music.

Oliver Sacks, famed neurologist and author of many works on the wonders of the mind, provides the scientific guiding hand for the institute. His discovery that drumming interrupts the chaos that is Tourette’s syndrome led to studies of the impact of rhythms on other disorders of the brain.

To hear drumming is to feel it in our bones … I like when it rattles my teeth, too … and the sensation resonates. It’s our heartbeat and our history.

The drum family is considered the most representative of African instruments, found in societies and tribes across the continent. The drums speak in codes the language of the tribes, and are frequently used to communicate news and messages between towns.

The talking drums of West Africa are renowned for their ability to closely imitate the rhythms and intonations of the spoken word, the more skilled players can reproduce dialogue understood by a knowledgeable audience. By sending the messages along, they can be carried for miles.

It is said that the djembe dates from as far back as 500AD, made from a curved tree trunk and goatskin. … Dubbed the ‘magic drum’ for its ability to move people and the ‘healing drum’ for its history as a fundamental tool in healing traditions.

Yes, Koestier did grasp one aspect of the drum when he wrote, “The most persistent sound which reverberates through men’s history is the beating of war drums”, but magic and healing are also the legacy.

And talking, thankfully.

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“All knowledge, the totality of all questions and all answers is contained in the dog.” ~ Franz Kafka

I did a post a while back about search engine parameters and the amazingly silly things people go actively seeking on the web that have them landing on my blog, so this story today caught my eye: Top 10 ‘unanswerable’ questions revealed.

Seems there’s a legion of folks not only looking to the Internet for references to “tits pointing up” and the “meaning of Scrabble”, but answers to the questions that the asking of makes us human.

Internet search engine Ask Jeeves has compiled what it called a top 10 of “unanswerables” in the past decade.

The list is based on some 1.1 billion queries made on the site since its launch in 2000.

That’s a whole lotta queries.

In my copious spare time, I field questions for Answers.com as a Wiki editor, and, yes, I’ve seen some doozies, but have yet to have anyone ask Number 10 on Jeeve’s list of this mere mortal.

JEEVES’ UNANSWERABLES

1. What is the meaning of life?

2. Is there a God?

3. Do blondes have more fun?

4. What is the best diet?

5. Is there anybody out there?

6. Who is the most famous person in the world?

7. What is love?

8. What is the secret to happiness?

9. Did Tony Soprano die?

10. How long will I live?

I’m trying to imagine the mindset of the thousands of folks who typed that into a search box, then clicked. Could there have been the fleeting thought that a divine hand took part in the programming that would recognize the IP and divulge a date … a la Owen Meany?

At least there’s some pensive sagacity in a search for clues to wisdom beyond our scope, even if hitting up a search engine is a far cry from plumbing the depths of a soul.

But that’s our culture, isn’t it? Yo! I thought of the question, so someone feed me the answer … now! A look at Number 3 has me wondering why “Less filling? Tastes great?” didn’t make the list.

So … because I can, and because I’m bored as hell this morning and need to amuse myself for 5 minutes … this being my blog and all … I’m going to answer these unanswerable questions to the best of my limited ability.

1. A film by the Pythons

2. There are many gods. Always have been. Always will be. The present version looks a lot like Morgan Freeman. (Hear the one about the agnostic, dyslexic insomniac who tossed and turned all night wondering if there is a dog?)

3. Whatevahhhh …..

4. Food

5. Yes. He’s cutting my grass as I type.

6. Michael Jackson, unfortunately

7. Never having to say you’re sorry

8. A drawer full of spare batteries

9. Fiction, folks. Life is not the same as TV. Really.

10. As long as you’re supposed to.

You’re welcome.

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The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men
Gang aft agley,
An’lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

~ Robbie Burns

(If Burns was writing this morning, he might also substitute paid for laid … although I’m sure well-laid fits in this rant, too …)

I’m choosing to start the week off with a bit of Scottish verse, then quickly moving along to giving the United Nations a big hand … upside the head, and a foot up the ass to see if that does anything to knock the organization out of its PR-spinning, wonky orbit.

I will say one good thing about the Untied Nations … they are good at graphs, as proved by a report in today’s news.

This one, for example:

There are loads of similar graphs, all indicating … well, gee … that the UN’s “Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)” adopted 10 years ago were a waste of time and a ton of money.

So, just guess what the plan is now.

They’re going to meet up in Manhattan next week to “redouble efforts to meet them by 2015”.

“The path that will be set at the summit will determine the direction and results, success or failure, of the entire MDG venture,” says Olav Kjorven, a senior official in the UN’s main development agency, the UNDP.

Yeah … pull the other one.

The truth is that poverty has fallen, but progress has been uneven, and most of the goals are off-target to meet the deadline.

One of them – halving world poverty – is likely to be met, largely because of robust economic growth in China and India.

But less has been achieved on others, such as decreasing hunger, improving access to health and education, and helping mothers and children.

According to their own figures, not only have rates of infant mortality, availability of clean drinking water and reduction of early deaths from nasties like AIDS and malaria not improved since these masses of the well-dressed, well-fed and well paid sat over champers and sturgeon roe a decade ago and dusted crumbs from each others’ lovely lapels, in many cases it has gone worse.

World hunger is on the rise since the adoption of the UN goals, with nearly a billion people suffering.

And the number of women who die in childbirth every year is still in the hundreds of thousands, falling far short of the UN goal to cut maternal deaths by three quarters.

Since the UN can hardly take credit for jumps in the econ strength of China, India and former Soviet countries, it seems more than a tad disingenuous to claim MDGs made much difference, and blaming donor nations’ shortfalls does little to alleviate the notion that these very expensive summits are any more than chichi circle jerks.

This one hasn’t even started, yet already the Kool-Aid is being passed around to the international media:

The summit is expected to declare that achieving the Millennium Development Goals is do-able by 2015, with the right combination of money, policies and, above all, political will.

Drink up, me hearties, yo ho! (Yesterday was Internatonal Talk Like a Pirate Day, sponsored by an organization that probably accomplishes more in one year than the UN does in a decade to improve the lives of a few sad gits, so I’ll give them a plug.)

Want to see some flash PR work? Check out the MDG website and catch a clue as to where some of the money and effort goes. To see where it doesn’t, just look at the world.

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Eight and a half months of pregnancy, feeling puffy, exhausted, grumpy as hell, with a belly that not only turns your feet into complete strangers, but also decides to rumba every time you want to sleep. The rest of your body is well into the drama, shooting you up with mega-hormonal gushes to set your head spinning, your temperature rising, your moods swinging like a fruit bat in a cyclone and your cervix thinning.

Thinning right along with cervical tissue … patience. Can’t wait to get your body back and meet the little human you’ve been gestating? Well … that’s coming up on the dance card after just a few more sambas, a cha-cha and the bunny hop.

Excited? You bet! Primed to have your personal premises vacated? Sure nuff! Looking forward to a reintroduction to your waist? Deffo! Jazzed about mastering the art of Pamper-ing? Yeah, even that.

It’s all going to happen. There’s just one little thing you have to do first.

There’s more than one reason making a person from scratch takes almost a year. Sure, there’s the baking process that brings the little bun from Open Sesame! Seed to full sweeter than CinnaBun form, but that’s just the biology bit. The really vital thing about the duration of gestation is getting you to the point that you’re so sick and tired of being preggers that the idea of evicting your womb renter sounds really, really good no matter the mess you have to go through to get the bugger out.

Intimidating? Well, yeah, but here are a couple of things to keep in mind over the next days:

1) You’re not the first to go through this. Heck! If your mother could do it, you can certainly pull it off, and with style!

2) Birth is a natural process, neither an illness nor a contrived torture, but finite in its duration and what you were built for.

3) You are the star of the show, so can be as demanding, bitchy and whiny as you want and no one will do anything but applaud at the end of the performance. Plus, you go home with a prize more valuable than any statuette could ever hope to be.

4) It’s a bit too late to change your mind.

Doctors can explain the reasons for the pain in the birthing process … and, yes, it does hurt … and it helps to know why it seems someone is cranking the rack way beyond all limits of even the most sadistic persecutor, so make them tell you exactly what’s going on, and in detail. Focusing on what’s happening where will help, and understanding your body’s responses can bring you into the picture rather than leave you screaming from the sidelines.

This is, after all, an active process. You are not a victim birthing is happening to, but the whole damned team for the only game in town.

Not that it’s play. Oh, no! This is WORK. That’s why they call it LABOR. And it’s a job that you do, then finish. Preparation is important, and you’ve had months for that (See above), so the early pangs of labor won’t come as a surprise.

“It’s time …”, may be your first thought, but don’t panic — you’re ready. Your body is ready. Your baby is ready. And whether you know it or not, you ARE ready.

You’re young, fit and strong. Your muscles know what to do without you having to even think about guiding the process. All you have to do is let it happen and do the work.

It’s a marathon and quitting is not an option, so pull on your Big Girl Panties … crotchless is good in this circumstance … and get ready to sweat. You’ll be running hills and valleys, so let yourself coast when you can, then pull your guts out when the going is steep, the exhaustion sets in and your body starts screaming at you to pull over and throw in the towel. That AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN! You WILL win. You WILL conquer. And all those wimps inside snidely suggesting you’re a loser will eat your dust.

If someone offers some comfort and ease along the way, take it. Having fans shout encouragement is good, too. But you’re in this alone and no one can carry you across the finish line. That you do alone, and for that you get the glory. For that, for the rest of your life, you earn the best title ever bestowed on any woman anywhere: Mom.

I’ve given birth, and it was … hands down … the most exciting experience of my life, and the most fun I’ve ever had. I envy you your upcoming adventure!

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“I used to live in a room full of mirrors; all I could see was me. I take my spirit and I crash my mirrors, now the whole world is here for me to see.” ~ Jimi Hendrix

One of the great things about not being young is having a raft of experience that has pitched up in some interesting places during momentous occasions, so when a day like today comes along I don’t have only vague notions of pop culture-fed imaginings, but personal recollections that pull me along and surround me in a sea of memories I can touch, smell and taste.

I can cast my mind back to the day before today 40 years ago … September 17, 1970 … and conjure that world of long, flowing locks on everyone, Indian bedspread material curtains on widows of VW vans, the fragrance of brown rice bubbling with patchouli and weed undertones wafting just about everywhere, the tingly-tongue-taste about to bloom to bare feet from a dot of blotter.

Was there ever another such time? Has history ever gifted such a hopeful youth, one so committed and convinced it perched on the edge of greatness and could easily force feed a future on hope, dreams and hallelujah hallucinations of humanity humbled?

There was a war happening and we shook off our parents’ orchestrated baaing and sang back into their faces that we should all give peace a chance instead of playing dominos and watching our friends and brothers fall in organized lines … confident in the fact that if you want to end war and stuff, you gotta sing loud.

Much of mass media was kept well beyond our reach, but we had our music, and it took over the world. Any song had anthem potential and could become a rallying point, and those who made the music became heros … but everyday heros. The stars of those times inhabited the world we lived in, not some distant, exotic celestial body. They created music for the world, not at it, dissecting and reflecting common experience. (Even the most obscure themes were easily grasped when minds eagerly altered to span distance, ethnicity, exposure and any other differences that weren’t.)

Yes, it was a sanguine saga, a buoyant, confident and expectant generation, but by definition youth lacks experience and growing up had to happen.

Some of that growing up started today 40 years ago … September 18, 1970 … hence this post, today being the anniversary of the death of one of the best guitarist to ever pluck a string, Jimi Hendrix.

Sixteen days later, the world lost Janis. Nine months after that it was Morrison.

We had been accustom to death by war, by accident, by disease, but we’d rather missed the specter of death by life … by excess of passion, by a profligacy of youth, by presumption that power manifested assured immortality.

Or did we?

We grew up … for sure … grasped impermanence and assimilated the assumption of disillusionment into our core just like every generation before us. We’ve shifted gears and goals, darkened the rose tint on our shades, and some have developed a conservative shell to fend off what they once may have embraced.

But … and this is huge …

the music lives, and will outlive us.

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Since I’ve been busy lately … mucho work and some pleasant and interesting communication … I’m opting for a familiar blogging out I call “Harvest and Harangue”, meaning I go through the day’s news and bitch about the stuff that pisses me off.

I’ll start with murder, since that’s always such a popular topic, and with one I recall so well.

December 8, 1980 … Mark Chapman shot John Lennon. All these years later, the genius that was John is still dead and the fuckwad who killed him has had another parole hearing.

“I felt that by killing John Lennon I would become somebody and instead of that I became a murderer and murderers are not somebodies,” he said.

In a closing statement, Chapman said his life had changed because of Jesus.

“I know him, he is with me, he is with me now, he is helping me speak to you now. Without him I am nothing, I would have been an even bigger nobody.”

With some modicum of sense, the parole board turned him down again, but the fact that he gets to do this every couple of years … trot out his somebodyness and get his ugly mug in the international press annoys the shit out of me. As for his Jesusness … well, Jim Jones had that happening, too, if I recall and look at the holy shit he created.

Moving right along, but sticking with murder … if you’ll excuse the expression in this case … this story is one you can sink your teeth into.

A Broadmoor patient who confessed to killing two women in East Sussex in 1998 and eating flesh from one of them has been jailed for at least 21 years.

He also admitted trying to murder and rape a Czech student on a train and raping a London woman in her home.

Excuse me … but TWENTY-ONE years? WTF are these people thinking? Lock up and throw away the key, peeps, because the world don’t need this person.

The judge said that it had been “to his credit” that he decided while he was at Broadmoor “to get these terrible crimes off his chest, because he was concerned that he was too dangerous at that stage to be transferred from Broadmoor to a less secure hospital but also because he wanted to remain at Broadmoor”.

To his credit? Sorry, Judge, but this guy gets NO credit, not even if he finds Jesus. I’d say he’s a shark, but that would be an insult to sharks.

And speaking of sharks … sorry, can’t resist an easy segue … they kill, too, but it’s not called murder, it’s called lunch, as the tiger in this story would be happy to tell you if he could just get the bits out of his teeth long enough to spit out a sentence.

The 3.6-metre (12ft) tiger shark was caught on 4 September by a local investment banker who was deep-sea fishing.

Whilst reeling it in, he said he saw a leg poking out of the shark’s mouth.

After cutting the creature open, defence force officers found a torso, two severed arms, and a right leg.

Amazingly, the dude’s fingerprints were readable, but his claims of being a strong swimmer and therefore beyond the dangers of the sea, apparently, didn’t float.

Deadly sea creatures running on instinct and hunger have nothing over some humans when it comes to horror as this story proves … and probably have a more highly developed sense of humor to boot.

A US artist whose satirical cartoon inspired an internet campaign inviting people to draw images of the Prophet Muhammad has disappeared into hiding, her newspaper has said.

Molly Norris, who disavowed the movement that provoked outrage in the Islamic world, has moved and changed her name, the Seattle Weekly said.

She fled after FBI agents warned she was in danger …

FFS, Peeps … get over it! The world has moved beyond stone tablets, even photography was invented a couple of years ago, and if Mo was around today you can bet he’d be paying big bucks to his PR firm to get his mug on the cover of every mag around. After all, that’s de rigueur in the religious leaders game.

Just check out the popester’s spin machine in high gear as they try to clean up the shit he’s smearing around Britain.

The pope urged the UK to guard against “aggressive forms of secularism”.

A speech in which the Pope appeared to associate atheism with the Nazis has prompted criticism from humanist organisations.

However, the Catholic Church has moved to play down the controversy, saying the Pope knew “rather well what the Nazi ideology is about”.

Humanists have said the comments were a “terrible libel” against non-believers.

No shit.

Unfortunately for the spinnsters, he just keeps putting his foot in it …

He said: “Even in our own lifetimes we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live.

“As we reflect on the sobering lessons of atheist extremism of the 20th century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus a reductive vision of a person and his destiny.”

Yep … even in his own lifetime … and, yes, people DO remember … and the catholic church do NOT come out clean.

The Pope’s reaction to the Holocaust was complex and inconsistent. At times, he tried to help the Jews and was successful. But these successes only highlight the amount of influence he might have had, if he not chosen to remain silent on so many other occasions. No one knows for sure the motives behind Pius XII’s actions, or lack thereof, since the Vatican archives have only been fully opened to select researchers. Historians offer many reasons why Pope Pius XII was not a stronger public advocate for the Jews: A fear of Nazi reprisals, a feeling that public speech would have no effect and might harm the Jews, the idea that private intervention could accomplish more, the anxiety that acting against the German government could provoke a schism among German Catholics, the church’s traditional role of being politically neutral and the fear of the growth of communism were the Nazis to be defeated.) Whatever his motivation, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the Pope, like so many others in positions of power and influence, could have done more to save the Jews.

So shut the fuck up, Ben, pull on the big man panties, confess … get it off your chest like the dude who ate women … and thank the Brits for coughing up £12 mil for your holiday.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch …

Movies get news, too … ours being the “live life to the fullest a screen can hold” society … and stories about celebs are oh-so-vital to maintaining the illusion that life is worth living.

Just how worthy should be questioned more often, but this venture up the celebrity ass really should serve to aim a Klieg where the sun don’t shine.

Actor Casey Affleck has admitted the documentary film he made about Joaquin Phoenix quitting Hollywood to become a rap star was staged.

Affleck told the New York Times that Phoenix gave a “terrific” performance”.

Over the last two years, the actor has behaved strangely in public, leading fans and critics to wonder whether he was documenting a breakdown on film.

Ah … duh … since there was a camera following him everywhere. Ya think? Not clever. Not tricky. Just WAY up your own asses, Casey and Joaquin. Andy Kaufman did the same thing years ago … only it was with Carson, not Letterman … and, forgive my smugness, but I called this way back when. (I still expect Andy to show up admitting that his death was part of the act.)

But I’ll end up with a bit of movie news that makes total sense to me. Sacha Baron Cohen is going to play Freddie Mercury in a movie Brian May and Roger Taylor are working on.

“We have Sacha Baron Cohen, which will probably be a shock to a lot of people, but he’s been talking with us for a long time,” May told the HARDtalk show.

Good choice guys.

And that’s the way it was … 17 September 2010 …

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