Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year's Eve, Loveys!

...and under a beautiful, full, Cancer moon (and right on this girl's heart):

Dear little moon in the deep heavens,
your light sees far away,
Around the wide world you wander,
you look into homes of people.
Dear little moon, stand still for a while,
tell me, where is my beloved?
Say to him, silvery dear little moon,
that my arms embrace him,
Let him, at least for a little while,
think of me in dreams.
Though he is far away, shine your light on him
and tell him who waits for him here!
If the human soul dreams, let this dream awaken him!
Dear little moon, do not disappear!

Antonín Dvořák - Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém (Song to the Moon)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Xmas Wishlist

I had forgotten all about this song, and little Gayla Peevey, who sang it like she was a young Ethel Merman, until last night when the amazing Eliza Rickman sang it as the opener to the Solstice Concert I helped put together. I've been singing it all morning, and I want one too.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


My Pulitzer prize winning friend, so downtrodden by the collapse of real journalism, has started a zine for life in Los Angeles. Yours truly is the "legs" in the mastead photo, much to her surprise (I signed no release; should I sue?), and is reminded of how badly she needs to get her ass back to the gym. By the way, those fishnets were for Halloween, as was the dark wig. Apparently, the world likes me better as a brunette. Oh, wait, this was supposed to be about Howie, not me. Read his bloggity whatever I'm supposed to call it. It really is amusing, but I would say that, as it largely examines my 'hood.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Behind the Scenes

If you liked The Party Rules video, check out the making of. The Flavor Flav bit is hilarious.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Party Rules

My friendz made this. They are Supermodelz. They make the rulez. Pass it on.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Word for Our Sponsor

Dear Blackberry -

If, according to the the music you've chosen for your ad campaign, "all you need is love," why would I buy?

Also, I am really tired of the Beatles getting pimped out by the ad world. Bad show. This is one of the many reasons I am so tv avoidant. Do we thank a posthumous Michael Jackson, Mr. Wings, or Yoko?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Are you ready for Halloween yet? And can anyone tell me what it is that I am eating?

Our street is the best for this holiday. Everyone goes all out.

Check out the fun house that sits on my neighbor's driveway -

It's no wonder we get over 300 trick-or-treaters each year. And that's just the kids.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Smote 'Em If You Got 'Em

The good Lord must be in a real retributin' kind of mood, because last night, you know, after posting that ersatz Swiftian nonsense about my dog, the little bastard decided to eat part of the neighbor's Oleander hedge. Just to teach me a lesson. Despite living here for 8 1/2 (there's a Fellini movie I've never seen) years, and never once having shown interest in anything green other than grass, he bit off a few leaves before I got wise.

Oleander, it's just one of the deadliest plants known to man and beast. So I stuck my hand down his throat, extracted what I could, and dosed him with activated charcoal. He's fine. It's just part of his extensive Shaman training, I tell myself. Transmuting poisons. What's next after a rattlesnake bite, scorpion sting and lethal plant ingestion, I wonder? He slit his wrist once, breaking out my bedroom window, and slicing a vein to the extent that my bed was covered in blood, and I mean soaked into the pillows. The front hallway and door were so puddled and smeared, it looked like the Manson murders. We've had two near deaths, as well as the resurrection from 8+ months of paralysis. Maybe onto hallucinogens? When Duff's done with his Ayahuasca Ceremony, I'll let you know.

Despite his 11 1/2 years, my vet swears he's got the physique and constitution of a 5 year old. I read once that the record for a Labrador Retriever was 25 years. In Scotland. Though I hear their air quality's a little better, that's what I'm aiming for.

Still, we need to say good by to a Cajun ami from the swamps of Louisiana, dog of a lovely, crazy coonass who got put down this weekend. Dear chocolate bean, not only were you one of the coolest, most intrepid dogs I ever met, and a real sweet little bee, you also had one of the best dog names ever, Bosco. Look after Chad, I know he's all torn up about you going.

Fais do-do, chére bébé...

Walker, At-At Ranger

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The World Wide Web

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find that it is bound fast by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything in the universe."

-John Muir

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Greenhouse Gasses He Passes

This isn't the first time this issue has come up, though I hadn't seen anyone put the blame for global warming on any animals that weren't husbanded, thus far. Now it seems some mad scientists want us to get rid of our household pets, that is, unless we intend to eat them.

Forget that owning a pet helps reduce stress, is good for your heart, or that raising kids with a family dog gives them stronger immune systems and probably lowers their likelihood of allergies. Never mind that they protect us and give us a general sense of well-being, fostering the growth of love, sharing and compassion. Raise them, love them, then eat them! What a great lesson in bonding AND the life/death cycle for your kids!

The argument is that feeding a dog for a year is twice the carbon paw print of driving a Toyota Land Cruiser 6,213 miles a year. First of all, I don't know anyone who doesn't drive at least twice that every year, but I'm not trying to use that as an argument against their theory.

Anyone who owns one knows that all dogs are bad. If you're uncertain about my claim, look up Revelations 22:14-15 - dogs are not only freakin' liars, they clearly have no right to the tree of life. What foul and detestable being put them on this earth to begin with? They aren't called the hounds of hell* for nothing.

However, the Drs. Vale do have it a bit wrong, of this I am sure. The real problem here is that they are blaming canines generally for climate change, when the truth is, all global warming begins and ends with my dog, who is systematically decimating the planet. I mean that MRI alone...

(This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine.)*

That's right, blame Duff. He's a right bastard. After the stoning Sunday afternoon, we'll be throwing him on the barbie. Never mind that he has just started running again, we're going to do the right thing for the polar ice caps - come on by! And since I've now spent as much on him in the last sixteen months as my first year at Brown (and though that tuition was only half what it is today), this will be the most expensive brisket you've ever tasted!

He says he's sorry.

(*Billy Shakes)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Journalist: Would you rather make love or make poems? Or is it the same thing?

Leonard Cohen: That depends on the girl.

Shameless Self-Promotion

Tonight I discovered an amazing website that was published as a book, Overqualified. Best to let the author describe the project, based on actual letters he sent to companies:

"Cover letters are all the same. They're useless. You write the same lies over and over again, listing the store-bought parts of yourself that you respect the least. God knows how they tell anyone apart, but this is how it's done.

And then one day a car comes out of nowhere, and suddenly everything changes and you don't know if he'll ever wake up. You get out of bed in the morning, and when you sit down to write another paint-by-numbers cover letter, something entirely different comes out.

You start threatening instead of begging. You tell impolite jokes. You talk about your childhood and your sexual fantasies. You sign your real name and you put yourself honestly into letter after letter and there is no way you are ever going to get this job. Not with a letter like this.

And you send it anyway."

Dig into the archives here. After reading the first two, I was already in love.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Oh Come All Ye Patriots

I'm just sayin' - some things never change, they just put on a different face.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

First Evah Charm School Retraction

In re the post of 10.14.09, My Daughter, My Sister -

Certain facts have come to light (thank you, Dr. DRay), and in an effort to somewhat restore Ms. Goldberg, as much as her sullied reputation and bad sister act can be salvaged, the blog mistress would like to confirm that though her sentiments seem to have been well represented here, she did not say it wasn't "rape-rape." Her words in fact were, actually (we have italicized the necessary changes):

"It was somebody else but I don’t believe it was The Grape-Ape.”

Over 40 ft. high!
Just a little bit shy!

(I do believe we will be making t-shirts of this, you know, to spread the good news, so place your pre-orders now.)

The Why

There's a room where a small boy is with a candle.
The man in the room, referring to the candle asks, "Tell me where this light comes from."

The boy blows out the candle and replies,
"You tell men where this light went and I'll tell you where it comes from."

- Sufi parable

(Where I got this is a little embarrassing, I suppose, but I overheard it (I swear), while my bf was watching that new tv show, Flash Forward, which seems quite like his old obsession, Lost. He is now calling me an awful snob. Though I googled it three different ways, I cannot confirm that it was not constructed by a Hollywoodland writer. Not sure it's any less great, however.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Daughter, My Sister

Wrote this when it was more timely (did anyone else find it curious that John Phillips and Le Petit Pollack got busted in the same seven day period? The perv stars alligned.) Anyway, I'm still going to launch it, reinspired by the video I just saw on a friend's website, as posted way below. The belt.

I am starting to see Free Polanski, in graphic, writ, sentiment. I cannot understand it, why people so insouciantly dismiss from reasonable consequence a man who plied with alcohol, drugged, then raped and sodomized a thirteen-year-old child in Jack Nicholson's home, while she protested. A man who, no matter what the stature and breadth of his talent, plead guilty to sex with a minor and then fled the country. I'm sorry, not being able to pick up your Oscar just doesn't quite qualify as penance.

Let me reiterate, He drugged and raped a child. The fact he felt the need to sedate her should tell you just what sort of man he was, just what manner of "seduction" was occurring, and by whom. It's ludicrous to point the finger at the girl, no matter how nubile, whatever wiles she might have possessed or even employed. In this country, we don't think it's cool to fuck children, and no one would be arguing this point were the victim a boy.

I have read all thirty-six available pages of her testimony, looked at newly released graphic evidence and medical reports, as well as the parole officer's recommendations to the court. It's pretty interesting. I cannot believe no one ever mentions this:

There is one moment of exquisite discomfort, impossibly cute horror, sadness, hilarity, perverse poetical madness, when the naïf tells the court, "He performed 'cuddliness' on me."


The attorney asks for clarification, she gives it. I won't repeat it, not because I'm shy, but because you get it.

I had to recuse myself from the document for a time following that.

The empaths feel he's suffered enough. I understand their point and agree he's been through a lot - the loss of his mother at Auschwitz, his wife and child slain by the Mansons, his own ghetto childhood, and always forever being so terribly, terribly short.

(let that last one sink in a little)

When we awaken from our nightmares, we don't go forth and perpetuate violence on others, innocents, to retaliate against the midnight demons.* We are meant to turn the other cheek. Way to pay it forward, Polanski.

Some argue (this includes the state-appointed psychiatrist and parole officer who offered their recommendations), that he wasn't really the sort to be a continual danger to others. I guess not. I mean, how you can know that? I'm not really certain. Any probing into his later romantic history paints a slightly different picture, but ok.

Still, what about his attempts to scar my psyche?

I'm not trying to say the man isn't hugely talented, but shall we take a moment to examine the psycho-sexual content of the films of this "great writer/director" for a moment? I will stick to the ones I've actually seen:

Pre-Tate Era (in case you're tempted to argue that was the event that did him in):

Repulsion - Hot Belgian chick goes nutso as she indulges obsessive rape fantasies. (1965)

Rosemary's Baby - Sweet newlywed, fond of white light and daisies, transforms seedy, dark, old Manhattan apartment to prepare for offspring. Sadly, husband has joined downstairs Bohemian/Satanic cult, then drugs her and allows her to be raped and impregnated by Lucifer himself. Which, sort of makes her a starfucker. (1968)


(Faye applies make-up on the set, 1974)

Chinatown - Amid the land and water rights turf war in the San Fernando Valley, aforementioned Gentleman Jack discovers somber and resistant, but still smokin' hot, Faye Dunaway. In the course of his seduction, is disappointed to discover that she has begotten the rape-child of her father, which makes her his Baby Mama Daughter (in the parlance of the day). Oh, and Polanski pops up briefly to vivisect Jack's face. Did he regret already using the title, Knife in the Water? (1974)

I'm so gay for Kinski in this, though it's Playdohnic.

Tess (of the D'Urbervilles, I read this one as a teenager, but saw the film in 5th grade and loved it, but was Completely Traumatized.) - Hopelessly beautiful country maiden, with some distant, long-forgotten claim to nobility, is played as pawn to her coarse father's ambitions. She is sent to the affluent cousin for employment, who seduces her with strawberries perfectly mimicking the voluptuous beauty of her lips, then rapes and impregnates her. After which, he casts her back to her family farm where, in true Hardy fashion, the baby dies. More bad, heartbreaking stuff happens, and though it involves continual mistreatment from men and an eventual life of virtual prostitution, there isn't any more rape, so we end it here. However, it is notable that Polanski had a long-term relationship with his star, Nastassja Kinski, which began when she was 15. (1979)

Bitter Moon - Roman cast his much younger, if legal, wife in a Love Boat cruise of sexual "exploration," sado-masochism, and general degradation and depravity. This film is a shipwreck, and I hated it. (1992)

The Ninth Gate - I dunno, never saw it, but I know it's about Satan. Still, no rapin', so what's the point?


(I understand this documentary is rather forgiving of the situation. I haven't seen it, but at least one of the interviewees is lying.)

And this is not about a failure of forgiveness on my part for a great artist or for a fragile, imperfect human being. It's about having some feeling for the child he victimized. It's about not taking the cheap, well-worn road where we blame the female for her natural loveliness. Are we still going to continue to sanction rape for "important" people? Dear Miss Goldberg, do you really need to be an apologist for Roman Polanski? It wasn't "rape-rape"? Is that a legal term? Did you learn NOTHING from your starring role in The Color Purple? Are you a complete dumbshit? I used to think not. Do you not know what a plea bargain is and why a defendant bargains for it? Do you imagine a thirteen-year-old girl wants a middle aged midget, no matter how famous, to give her anal? Is that rapity-rape, you wascalldy-wabbit? I guess in other parts of the world...

Celie, I think it pisses God off when you walk by an abused child and don't notice she's raped.

Of course you're the woman who, many years ago, insisted upon getting the private company jet to Comic Relief (you know, the charity fundraiser?), then threw a fit backstage over the decadent waste at the craft service table, according to my friend and former HBO VP. That was big of you, thinking of all the funds diverted from poor people. I mean, melon balls and jet fuel are about the same in the commodities market, after all. Shame on you, Whoopi, on both counts. I'm now angrier at you than the actual perp.

What this is about, for me anyway, is respecting the sovereignty of other human beings, whatever qualities they possess or lack, whatever their ambitions, whatever their relative "worth," as if that were even a measurable quantity. She had a right to pass through that home untouched, even if she was just a girl. Even if she was sent to the casting by her own mother. Even if she were as dumb, lame and completely dysfunctional as Whoopi Goldberg. And that brings us of course to the fact that the victim herself has forgiven him and wants this all to go away. That's where I get stymied, because as much as I want to see good laws upheld, justice to me isn't about serving the structure and letter of the law itself, it's about protecting the people. I don't know if California views rape as a crime against the state, thereby removing the decision of prosecution from the hands of the victim, but I am too tired to Google it. I can see why we would protect against responses akin to Stockholm Syndrome and also how a patriarchal handling can further damage the injured party.** It boils down to personal sovereignty.

And okay, maybe there really was a kangaroo presiding, and Polanski wasn't going to get a fair deal. So he ran. Maybe I should research all that too, but I don't think it changes what he did.

It seems clear to me that the director was never really publicly repentant at all. Let's face it, he has called it a "love affair." So, as for you, Mr. Polanski, whatever the case, that girl didn't make you short. God made you short. He was punishing you in advance.

(*Oh wait, We do that all the time. I generally do not.
**This is a blog post unto itself, but I had a close friend who was raped, brutalized and very nearly killed, if not for her formidable escape. The perp got out of state quickly. Her veteran father and his secret ops chum took it upon themselves to see that justice was served. His head was on a platter, quite literally, if you drop the dish itself. And that is the horror she never quite got over. Many of you will say he got what he deserved. But she hated her father for it, precisely because he took the control from her hands.)

Saturday, October 10, 2009


"We all enter this world in the same way: naked, screaming, and soaked in blood. But if you live your life right, that kind of thing doesn't have to stop there."

- Dana Gould

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Turn around's fair play


And then there's Twitter's version of PostSecret, Secret Tweet. I wonder, will you curse me for this one, Huck?

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Very Reason Twitter Exists

It's the shit my dad says.

It might even be why we exist.

This says it all

Home Alone
by Vince Aslett

These people were always finding water all over their pool deck and furniture, every time they came home, after being away for a few hours. They thought the neighbourhood kids were watching for them to leave, and using the pool. However, they could never catch them doing it.

So, they set up their video cam and left. This is what they found out.

If you want the simplest instruction manual about how to live your life, take a lesson from your co-pilot. I think that pretty much says it all. Round and round we go, just choose a ride you love.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Let the Dog Out

This is my bionic dog, rehabilitated and in full motion. I miss his sleek physique and glossy, soft black coat, but at least I don't have to pick him up anymore. Still, the new door scratching behavior has got to go.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Mis-speak of the Month

"I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out."

- My nerdy-cool, Canadian astrophysicist friend

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Trouble with Macs

Finally discovered what's fouling up the works.

(photo reblogged from Frybos.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Things That Worry Me

The final entry in my American Heritage Dictionary is zyzzyva, for which there aren't nearly enough relevant tiles in Scrabble, though it's at least a 43 point move. (Damn!)

Does this really mean that the weevil gets the last word?

Addendum: I learned that the highest single word score evah is 360 for quixotry, by a non-expert level tournament player. Read more here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Good Book

Today I was fired from Barnes and Noble because a customer complained that I had stocked Christian Bibles in the fiction section.

(reblogged from One Sentence archive - story #3286)

I've always felt that it's a big mistake on the part of the public school system not to make The Bible a part of the freshman year English curriculum, as they did at my non-denominational private school. Let's face it, those stories are the basis of most of Western literature and art. Sadly, I was bumped back into public school for 9th grade (that was a matter of denomination of the greenback variety), so I missed my Bible primer. Most of my intermittent exposure to Sunday School was spent at the Mormon church, where they focused more attention on a whole other book of mythology.

Which reminds me of a time when I was maybe eight and we were driving to a LDS summer camp. I was deeply engrossed in D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths, which gave rise to great concern amongst the ladies in the VW Bus. They were very sweet about it, but oh what an uproar of ridiculous clucking! I endured their worries for my immortal soul, and somehow suppressed the impulse to roll my eyes. By the way, if any of you true believers out there have any ambitions for your children to attend a decent university, please don't deprive them of exposure to the classics and other belief systems. Keeping them ignorant of history will not assist them in pursuit of a Liberal Arts education.

In any case, I had to wait for Art History classes and Joseph Campbell to really start soaking up Angel Wrestling, Sacrifices of Beloved Sons, Decapitating Bitches, and Loaves and Fishes. Religion is, of course, a matter of faith for some and a matter of choice for others, but I think even many rational Christians can agree that there is some manner of literature on those hallowed pages. Whether God actually wrote it (which I seriously doubt, bereft as it is of consistent poetry, humor & joy), or it's the work of man, its value is not diminished. Whatever the case, B&N can suck it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Radiance

...We sense there is some sort of spirit that loves
birds and animals, and the ants --
perhaps the same one who gave a radiance to you in
your mother's womb.
Is it logical you'd be walking around entirely
orphaned now?
The truth is, you turned away yourself,
and decided to go into the dark alone.
Now you are tangled up in others, and have forgotten
what you once knew
and that is why everything you do has some weird
failure in it.

- Kabir, 13th C (translated by Robert Bly)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

"Compassion is the ultimate attitude of wealth:

an anti-poverty attitude, a war on want. It contains all sorts of heroic, juicy, positive, visionary, expansive qualities. And it implies larger scale thinking, a freer and more expansive way of relating to oneself and the world. It is the attitude that one has been born fundamentally rich rather than that one must become rich."

- Chogyam Trungpa

Beautiful Fox Pass, USA

We've all been there a time or two. I visit nearly every time I open my mouth.

*(aka faux pas, though in truth, it's a mere spelling mistake, not a true gaffe. Sometimes you have to sacrifice accuracy for a joke or a sign of gratitude.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lowering the Bar

I'm told that part of maturation is acceptance of diminished standards. I will now be satisfied if The President can accomplish what is requested on the pasteboard sign in the photo below. It is, however, the minimum requirement. That and only that.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Waterboarding: The New Facial

You're right, Miss Universe, it is so "calm and beautiful," but only when they use the Blackwater. You've got that in your home country too, si?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

For Bulletholes

"The way of life is towards fulfillment, however, wherever it may lead. To restore a human being to the current of life means not only to impart self-confidence but also an abiding faith in the processes of life. A man who has confidence in himself must have confidence in others, confidence in the fitness and Tightness of the universe. When a man is thus anchored he ceases to worry about the fitness of things, about the behavior of his fellow-men, about right and wrong and justice and injustice. If his roots are in the current of life he will float on the surface like a lotus and he will blossom and give forth fruit. He will draw his nourishment from above and below; he will send his roots down deeper and deeper, fearing neither the depths nor the heights. The life that's in him will manifest itself in growth, and growth is an endless, eternal process. He will not be afraid of withering, because decay and death are part of growth. As a seed he began and as a seed he will return. Beginnings and endings are only partial steps in the eternal process. The process is everything . . . the way . . . the Tao."

- Henry Miller
Sexus: The Rosy Crucifixion

Friday, March 20, 2009

Live by the Sword

Hmm, I wonder if he got killed by a drunk driver?

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Hometown Boy

This is how we like to grow 'em where I'm from:

Monday, March 02, 2009

Fish Tale

Nokia's ad men are either kicking themselves for not thinking up this gimmick themselves, or jumping for joy at what is a humorous, odd, true, and ultimately selling story. I believe it, having recently decided it was time to put my little Sprint phone through the wash. A friend admonished me for including it with the whites, but in any case, after a day and a half drying out from the heat of the oven's pilot light, it works just fine.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thursday, February 05, 2009

If I Ever Had to Write a Profile for a Personals Ad or My Epitaph, I Think I'd Use This

"Nothing is ever lost. If you have moved over vast territories and dared to love silly things, you will have learned even from the most primitive items collected and put aside in your life. From an ever-roaming curiosity in all the arts, from bad radio to good theatre, from nursery rhyme to symphony, from jungle compound to Kafka's Castle, there is basic excellence to be winnowed out, truths found, kept, savored, and used on some later day. To be a child of one's time is to do all these things."

- Ray Bradbury

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

As You Were

We see things not as they are,
but as we are.

-The Talmud

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Deep Thoughts on Global Warming

This morning, as I stared at the label on my sparkling water bottle, I wondered, "Will I someday have to pay a carbon tax on club soda, Bubble Up, and Cokes, too?  Will it be offset by the deposit I now pay which, in California, is redeemable nowhere even remotely convenient? What about when I exhale all that CO2?  If my dog continues farting at his current rate will they fine me for the methane? "

In the future, will the warming be on the label?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Over My Dead Bonnie

“Couldn’t they at least cast a real actress?"

- Faye Dunaway, regarding “a vicious, vicious, vicious remake of Bonnie and Clyde currently in the works starring Hilary Duff and Kevin Zegers.”

If you've never seen this screen gem, go to it. By the way, is that not one of the hottest photos of Faye you've ever seen? Her wardrobe in the original set off one of the most historically significant fashion trends ever precipitated by a film. Annie Hall was another.

Clyde Barrow & Bonnie Parker, the original duo - not bad lookin', neither.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Perfect Shadows in a Sunshine Day*

“He tried not to show it, but he felt so inferior. Presley probably innately was the most introverted person that ever came into that studio. He didn’t play with bands. He didn’t go to this little club and pick and grin. All he did was set with his guitar on the side of his bed at home. I don’t think he even played on the front porch.”

Sam Phillips

*"What are kings, when regiment is gone, but perfect shadows in a sunshine day?"
-- Christopher Marlowe

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Spot of Ink

"Ichu was a famous painter and Zen teacher. One day Nambutzu, a great warrior, came to see him and asked whether he could paint the fragrance described in a famous line of poetry: "After walking through the flowers, the horse's hoof is fragrant." Ichu drew a horse's hoof with a butterfly fluttering around it. Then Nambutzu quoted the line, "Spring breeze over the river bank," and asked for a picture of the breeze. Ichu drew a branch of waving willow. Nambutzu cited the famous Zen phrase, "A finger directly pointing to the human mind; see the nature to be Buddha," and asked for a picture of the mind. Ichu picked up the brush and flicked a spot of ink onto Nambutzu's face. Nambutzu was surprised and annoyed; Ichu rapidly sketched his angry face. Nambutzu then asked for a picture of the nature. Ichu broke the brush. Nambutzu didn't understand, and Ichu remarked, "If you haven't got the seeing eye, you can't see it." Nambutzu asked him to take another brush and paint a picture of the nature. Ichu replied, "Show me your nature and I'll paint it." Nambutzu had no words."

- John Daido Loori
The Eight Gates of Zen

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Why Being Serious is Hard

by Russell Baker

Here is a letter of friendly advice. "Be serious," it says. What it means, of course, is, "Be solemn." The distinction between being serious and being solemn seems to be vanishing among Americans, just as surely as the distinction between "now" and "presently" and the distinction between liberty and making a mess.

Being solemn is easy. Being serious is hard. You probably have to be born serious, or at least go through a very interesting childhood. Children almost always begin by being serious, which is what makes them so entertaining when compared to adults as a class.

Adults, on the whole, are solemn. The transition from seriousness to solemnity occurs in adolescence, a period in which Nature, for reasons of her own, plunges people into foolish frivolity. During this period the organism struggles to regain dignity by recovering childhood's genius for seriousness. It is usually a hopeless cause.

As a result, you have to settle for solemnity. Being solemn has almost nothing to do with being serious, but on the other hand, you can't go on being adolescent forever, unless you are in the performing arts, and anyhow most people can't tell the difference. In fact, though Americans talk a great deal about the virtue of being serious, they generally prefer people who are solemn over people who are serious.

In politics, the rare candidate who is serious, like Adlai Stevenson, is easily overwhelmed by one who is solemn, like General Eisenhower. This is probably because it is hard for most people to recognize seriousness, which is rare, especially in politics, but comfortable to endorse solemnity, which is as commonplace as jogging.

Jogging is solemn. Poker is serious. Once you grasp that distinction, you are on your way to enlightenment. To promote the cause, I submit the following list from which the vital distinction should emerge more clearly.

(1) Shakespeare is serious. David Suskind is solemn.
(2) Chicago is serious. California is solemn.
(3) Blow-dry hair stylings on anchor men for local television shows are solemn. Henry James is serious.
(4) Falling in love, getting married, having children, getting divorced and fighting over who gets the car and the Wedgewood are all serious. The new sexual freedom is solemn.
(5) Playboy is solemn. The New Yorker is serious.
(6) S.J. Perelman is serious. Norman Mailer is solemn.
(7) The Roman Empire was solemn. Periclean Athens was serious.
(8) Arguing about "structured programs" of anything is solemn. So are talking about "utilization," attending conferences on the future of anything, and group bathing when undertaken for the purpose of getting to know yourself better, or at the prescription of a swami. Taking a long walk by yourself during which you devise a foolproof scheme for robbing Cartiers is serious.
(9) Washington is solemn. New York is serious. So is Las Vegas, but Miami Beach is solemn.
(10) Humphrey Bogart movies about private eyes and Randolph Scott movies about gunslingers are serious. Modern movies that are sophisticated jokes about Humphrey Bogart movies and Randolph Scott movies are solemn.

Making lists, of course, is solemn, but this is permissible in newspaper columns, because newspaper columns are solemn. They strive, after all, to reach the mass audience, and the mass audience is solemn, which accounts for the absence of seriousness in television, paperback books found in airport bookracks, the public school systems of America, wholesale furniture outlets, shopping centers and American-made automobiles.

I make no apology for being solemn rather than serious. Nor should anyone else. It is the national attitude. It is perfectly understandable. It is hard to be Periclean Athens. It is hard to be Shakespeare. It is hard to be S.J. Perelman. It is hard to be serious.

And yet, one cannot go on toward eternity without some flimsy attempt at dignity. Adolescence will not do. One must at least make the effort to resume childhood's lost seriousness, and so, with the best of intentions, one tries his best, only to end up being vastly, uninterestingly solemn.

Writing sentences that use "One" as a pronoun is solemn. Making pronouncements on American society is solemn. Turning yourself off when pronouncements threaten to gush is not exactly serious, although it shows a shred of wisdom.

New York Times Magazine [April 30, 1978, p. 17]

Friday, January 16, 2009

Funny is the root of all evil

Or, more reasons why I love this man:

"you know Joe, it’s not the size of the bible, it’s the motion of the devotion.

...did we just make a bible fuck joke?"

- Jon Stewart on The Daily Show