Saturday, September 25, 2010

QOTD

Rob:  I love it when I make you cry.

(Said to me as I was once again wiping tears of laughter from my face.)


Poetic Asides with Robert Lee Brewer - 2010 November PAD Chapbook Challenge Rules

I've participated in this challenge in the past. At first it was just for fun. Then about a year into it (there is also a challenge in April), Robert Lee Brewer introduced the idea of submitting some of the poems and choosing a winner. So the first time there was a "submit your work" part of the challenge, that is precisely what I did.
Only I didn't enjoy the whole process. I think the moment this went from being a personal challenge to a competition for a winner I lost interest in it altogether.
However, I still follow the blog and I enjoy reading the challenge prompts and the responses other poets offer. Which is why I am sharing this info here, in my blog, just in case anyone else out there is interested in a challenge and even a little competition.
Enjoy!

Rosie by Anne Lamott


Rosie by Anne Lamott is a novel about a widow and her precocious little girl who both struggle with their loss–of a husband and father respectively–and their need to heal.  Elizabeth Ferguson, the mother, is not a likeable character as she allows her depression and her alcoholism to affect the well-being of herself and her daughter, Rosie, who begins acting out in first curious and then off-putting ways.  Inevitably, a crisis precipitates and awakening.

I am not accustomed to anti-heroes in what I soon realized was mostly a romance novel in disguise.  Elizabeth will meet her knight-in-shining armor, although his armor is somewhat tarnished and even dented.  Rosie’s intelligence and creativity are charming and alarming as the reader sees the roots of acting out, the repercussions from which none of these characters will return unscathed.

And although I didn’t like Elizabeth, I continued to read, drawn into her world and her neediness, feeling some compassion for her in spite of her choices.  I liked her and Rosie enough to say that I would like to read the sequel to this novel and have it on request through my local library.  I may prefer Lamott’s nonfiction writing to her fiction writing but for a quick escape this novel, although not light and pretty, fits the bill nicely.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Wisdom of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras by Ravi Ravindra


The Wisdom of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras:  A New Translation and Guide by Ravi Ravindra is yet another exposition on Patanjali’s yoga sutras and one that merits not only being reread but reread more than once.  I absolutely was blown away by the scholarship of Ravindra who draws on his own broad ranging spiritual knowledge, sprinkling his book with quotes from a variety of spiritual paths including Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism.

However, this is not light reading.  In fact, as I was reading it I experienced familiar ache, that wish that I were reading and studying along with another so we could discuss the content.  There is such a wealth of information in this book that I know most of it completely escaped my comprehension.  This is why I say that this book is one that must be read and reread.

Nevertheless, there is enough accessible truth here that someone who is ready to go deeper in the philosophy of yoga can still walk away with something and someone who well-versed in yogic thought will learn something interesting as well.  The content is challenging in the way that spiritual truth should be challenging, inviting the “listener” to grow into the truth rather than sit idly.

Read through once, this book is an invitation for more and read only once I can’t imagine any open minded reader wouldn’t be moved to change.  Read more than once, no doubt the effects of what Ravindra shares would ripple endlessly, carrying the reader further and further each and every time.  It is not often I come across a book with this much potency and I’ll eagerly read anything else Ravi Ravindra has written.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Three-Minute Fiction Round Five: Starts And Stops : NPR

Three-Minute Fiction Round Five: Starts And Stops : NPR:
"Our contest has a simple premise: Listeners send in original short stories that can be read in three minutes or less. We're looking for original work no longer than 600 words. Each round, our judges throw out a challenge. This time, your story must begin with the line, 'Some people swore that the house was haunted.' It must end with, 'Nothing was ever the same again after that.'"
The deadline for this one is Sept 26 so I'm finding out about this one a little late in the game but still . . . thought I'd share.

QOTD

The Black Church, Homophobia, and Pastor Eddie Long - Newsweek:

"As tempting as it is to get swept away by the tabloidy drama of the case against Eddie Long, it’s not the man that deserves all the scrutiny. It’s his message."

by Joshua Alston
September 23, 2010

Typically the quote of the day is something I directly overheard or said myself. However, when I read this, it struck me that this is a very important quote to share.

As Pastor Eddie Long's accusers step forward, claiming that he had sexual relationships with them, it is not his actions that are the issue so much as his long standing message against homosexuality, preaching from his pulpit about the sin of sodomy, etc. None of the young men who are accusing Long were under-aged at the time of the alleged relationship which I suppose is being emphasized in light of the ongoing scandal within the Catholic and other churches.

Hopefully, as people look in the direction of this man during this time, more will question the ethics of what he is preaching as loudly and closely as they are the question of his actions.

Movie Reviews


Fried Green Tomatoes

No matter how many times I've seen this movie, I end up crying.  Not bawling but tears will come to my eyes not at the typical heart-string moments but at the love. I love all of the characters for different reasons and read the novel after falling in love with the movie, which was like falling in love with the characters all over again.  Except for the recipes included in the novel, this movie does such a wonderful job translating the text to film that very little is lost.

Okay.  So the obvious lesbian relationship is watered-down somewhat but you'd have to be an idiot not to see what is happening between two of the characters.  I love this movie.  Love it.  Love it.  Love it.  So why don't I have it in my collection?  Really.  Why?

  
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari


A classic silent film that I should have seen so much sooner.  The sets are amazing!  I found the music for the version I watched swinging between evocative and annoying.  There are some amusing problems with the text portions but even these are designed in such a way as to compliment the visual effect of the film.

The plot seems simple but then there is a twist ending that was forced on the production by the studio.  And it works.  How often does the studio step in and make a movie better?  I don't know.

Conrad Veidt also stands out as the somnambulist, Cesare.  I mention him in particular because he is best known for his roles as a Nazi (ie. Casablanca) but actually escaped Germany because of Nazism.  I recognize him more for his role as Jaffar in The Thief of Baghdad.  He also starred as the first homosexual character written for film (Different From Others).  Ahhhh . . . the things one can learn from wikipedia.  LOL!

Seriously, if you can find a connection between the previous two films, you are amazing because I only picked the first movie because I wanted/needed a feel good type movie and the other because I was feeling very dizzy and needed to stop reading.  So naturally I picked a silent film.  Oops. 


With that said, the connection between the previous film and the next should be pretty obvious.



The Cabinet of Dr Caligari


As with all good movies, someone is bound to make a remake.  Poor Dr. Caligari has been hit twice.  Once in the 60s (I haven't seen that one) and this remake which really is more like an homage to the original than anything else.  Everything from the set designs to the black and white film is retained.  On top of that, the actors chosen for each role bear a resemblance to those in the silent film, probably an effect further enhanced with make-up.

So what's the point?  If they are so similar, why bother?  I suppose, aside from the opportunity to pay homage to a film one loves, the director realized that most contemporary audiences don't have the patience for a silent film and may never see this story told otherwise.  What it lacks in originality I suppose it makes up for in good intentions.  I personally preferred the original silent version but if you want to avoid having to read interjected explanations and dialog, then you'll probably enjoy this film.

Or maybe not.  Part of what I loved about this movie was how the original silent film informed this contemporary retelling, right down to the use of German signs, etc.  Even the surreal sets that I especially enjoyed in the original are mimicked in this remake.  I don't know that I would have fully appreciated this movie had I not already seen the other.  Perhaps someone who has seen this one and not the other can tell me whether or not these things are as effective without the contextual relevance.


I Could Go On Singing


I am stumped for words on this one.  It was uncomfortable watching Judy Garland play a narcissistic, self-destructive singer.  Talk about your type casting!  The story is supposed to be a feel good one with the mother returning to find her long-lost son.  But really . . . do you want this mother to find her son?  I certainly wouldn't.

There are a few musical numbers and it's hard not to appreciate the talent this woman had.  Yes, she is not as pure in her delivery as she was when she was younger but there's something to be said for raw talent, undeniable and uncompromising.  And it's hard to look at her being vulnerable in this role and not assume that this is not a character but Judy herself, begging to be forgiven and to be loved.

Really, this movie is only for the die hard Judy Garland fans.  At least it's better than A Child Is Waiting which I simply found maudlin and boring.


Slumdog Millionaire


This is technically not a review of the movie.

Technically, this is me . . . pouting.

There is very tiny translations of the Hindi being spoken.  So tiny I cannot see it to read it.  I can almost kinda sorta read it.  I thought no biggy.  Maybe most of the movie is in English but I will never know because ten minutes into the movie I was so frustrated by not being able to follow along I stopped the movie.

I should try to watch this again someday on a big screen.  Oh well.  NEXT!

Mermaids


Every now and again, I forget myself. I am minding my own business and I see a movie starring someone I like (Cher) and someone else I like (Winona Ryder) and a couple of others I like well enough (Bob Hoskins and Christina Ricci) and I think, "Oooh, I'm going to like this movie."

What's remarkable is that I think "I'm going to like this movie" in spite of its obvious "chick flick" sensibility.  I thought maybe it would be quirky enough to redeem itself.  The promise was surely there what with a girl trying to be a good Catholic, in spite of her growing up in a Jewish home.  And with lines like "I think I might be pregnant with the next Jewish Italian Messiah" there certainly was hope.

But then I watched the movie.  Silly me.


A Scanner Darkly

I am surprised I didn't see this movie sooner.  The pacing is off, a bit slow for my taste, but there is something about the gradual unfolding, the layering of reality and perception, and who/what is the self.  All of these things are drawn out carefully and this definitely makes this the sort of movie one should watch more than once.

The animation holds up surprisingly well, and this in spite of subsequent animated/live-action movies.  That alone is commendable.  It is easy to see the performances coming through the various actors.

I haven't read the story by Philip K Dick upon which this movie is based.  I don't know if I will any time soon but I would be surprised if I didn't get around to it sooner or later.

Importance Of Reiki Therapy & Five Spiritual Principles of Reiki | Natural Home Remedies Buzz

There are some variations of the five principles and I like to see some of the different interpretations of them because of how they often give a new meaning to the principles over all.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Quote of the Day

Rob:  If I were sadistic, I would have moved out of your way.

Context

I am walking towards Rob and lose my balance.  He catches me and helps me retain (or regain) my balance.

Me:  Don't laugh.
Rob:  It's fun.  Like a roller coaster only you can enjoy.
Me:  Stop it.
Rob:  I enjoyed the expression on your face.  That's why I'm laughing.
Me:  You're sadistic.
Rob:  (see above)

I swear . . . I'm going to have to write down the day we don't make one another laugh until we have tears in my eyes because at least once a day we crack one another up.

Reiki for Life by Penelope Quest


Reiki for Life: The Complete Guide to Reiki Practice for Levels 1, 2, & 3 by Penelope Quest is a surprise.  With so much nonsense being disseminated about Reiki, it is inevitable that some misinformation would present itself ubiquitously.  It’s easy to become skeptical of yet another book on Reiki.  Is it necessary?  What if this is just another book purporting to offer some greater truth or refuting the facts as they already are?

What a relief to find Quest’s book a very balanced and in depth look at Reiki.  The book begins with the history of Reiki, including some of the notorious misinformation that one can find anywhere and everywhere but sharing it for what it is–not fact, plain and simple.  She goes on to describe the different degrees of Reiki, even the different approaches to attunement.  Some Reiki masters will attune at Level 1only and then allow the student a time of experiencing Reiki before advancing to Reiki II.  Others will do a weekend intensive with Reiki levels I and II being taught over an entire weekend from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon.  Still others teach Reiki I and II on the same day.

The author is clear about her own preference for how she teaches Reiki to her students but never judges anyone whose approach is different.  She merely shares her own reasons and moves on.  They text itself is laid out in an obvious sequence: history of Reiki, Reiki level I, Reiki level II, folllowed by Reiki Master Level.  However, between the Reiki II and Master Reiki sections she shares some of the Japanese tradition Reiki practices, including self-cleansing and some interesting Reiki meditations.  Some of these can be (and one could argue should be) practiced by anyone attuned at any level but because they are not included until after the Reiki II section there is an implication that a Reiki I practitioner cannot reap the full benefits of these Japanese traditions.

She concludes the book with a list of various schools of Reiki and a very thorough list of resources and a lengthy recommended reading list.

I have my Reiki manuals, given to me at my attunements.  I also have one Reiki book I especially love and another which I don’t love but I have kept and I have given away several other books on Reiki.  I typically recommend that anyone who is interested in Reiki read one book and for anyone who has been attuned I recommend the same book as well as the manuals.  I don’t believe buying a lot of books on Reiki is necessary nor beneficial.  The best way to experience Reiki is to practice it, not read about it.  Whether that experience is receiving a treatment or becoming attuned, the effect of Reiki is experiential, not intellectual.

So where does that leave Penelope Quest’s book?

From now on I will recommend her book alongside and on par with the other book. I fully intend on keeping both in my permanent library and will probably ask anyone I attune to Reiki to invest in one or both.  This is an excellent book, one that anyone who is a Reiki practitioner, whatever level, will be delighted to read and share.  Thank you, Penelope Quest.

I wonder if I can persuade my library to get her other book?


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Duke Cancer Care Research Program :: Pathfinders

Duke Cancer Care Research Program :: Pathfinders:
"DCCRP has partnered with Pathfinders, a national organization, to advance an innovative and promising model of comprehensive psychosocial care for cancer patients."
One of the complementary treatments they offer is Reiki.

Reiki and Stress Related ailments � Student Loans Zone

Reiki and Stress Related ailments � Student Loans Zone:
"Having served all over the world in sometimes hostile action conditions and more recently in the middle east. I can fully relate to the feelings one has when suffering from PTSD. The worst part about it is that no one other than your colleagues you were there with will understand what it was like, what you are going through, or in your own mind how to help"
This veteran writes about his own experience using Reiki to recover from the PTSD he experienced after coming home.
My own commitment to offering veterans free Reiki still stands. If you are or know a veteran who would like Reiki, feel free to email me. I will only offer Reiki to someone who specifically requests it, however, so if you are writing on the behalf of another, please be sure to cc the veteran that the two of us may begin a dialog about Reiki and its effects.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Longtime resident leads by example

Longtime resident leads by example:
"Vestibular disorders that produce imbalances and dizziness can be triggered by windy days, walking on uneven surfaces, riding on escalators, being in moving crowds -- any situation that can affect pressure in the inner ear."
Windy days affect me as well as all of the other things. And rainy days (any day that has a change in the barometric pressure). And monthly hormonal fluctuations. At least I'm not alone in being affected by these things.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Write to ease your pain - chicagotribune.com

Write to ease your pain - chicagotribune.com:
"Evidence is building behind the theory that stress, tension and emotions can trigger very real physical pain, a condition known as Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS), or mind-body syndrome. Common symptoms include back pain, neck pain, gastrointestinal issues and migraine headaches, according to Northwestern's Dr. John Stracks, a mind-body specialist and one of a few dozen physicians in the country that treats the condition."
Exciting information about how journaling is helping people to make the mind-body connection between pain and their emotional experience. Definitely worth reading.

QOTD

Said to Rob after he said I was being passive aggressive.


Me:  Keep it up and, believe me, my aggression won't be passive anymore.

To put this into context, Rob and I were teasing one another and giggling so much we had tears coming out of our eyes by the time we were through and this was said about halfway through the conversation.

Forever . . . by Judy Blume

For the following review I am using ellipses with the same impunity as the author did in her novel.  I randomly chose chapter 3 and will begin inserting ellipses at the same word count as she.  Enjoy!

Forever . . . by Judy Blume is a young adult novel that . . . I would recommend above and beyond Twilight any day of the week.  And this in spite of Blume’s tendency to over-use . . . and abuse ellipses on nearly . . . every page.  I honestly think the book . . . would be 1/3 shorter if the editor had corrected this or asked the author to do so.  It is . . .  ridiculous and won’t teach young readers the proper use of ellipses.

But punctuation sloppiness aside, this is a sweet story about first love.  When Michael and Katherine meet at a New Year’s Eve party, there is an immediate and mutual attraction.  Eventually the two are a couple and how they navigate the minefield of sexual desire and individual choice is honest without being overly melodramatic or frivolous.  There are some (okay many) moments that “date” this novel.  For instance, the characters go out drinking when they turn 18, something that most adolescents would legally have to wait until 21 to do (assuming they would wait, obviously and not simply get fake IDs or something.).  The teenagers have to wait to use the phone as there is no call waiting and, needless to say, they don’t hop on a computer to IM one . . . another, etc.

This book, . . . published in the ‘70s was quite scandalous for its honest look at sex and a young girl’s first sexual experience.  There are some really weird moments, like when the boyfriend names his penis which I think was a devise Blume used to avoid repeatedly saying the word “penis” in her novel.  Perhaps she and/or her editor (you know, the one who ignored all those damn ellipses) thought it would be less shocking to read “I took Ralph in my hand” or “I could feel Ralph getting hard” than it would for the young adult to read about a penis.  This perhaps dates the novel almost more than anything else.

Contemporary editions include a message from Judy Blume reminding the reader that condoms are necessary to avoid sexually transmitted diseases, something that wasn’t emphasized as much back in the ‘70s.  Pregnancy was more an issue and the slutty girl mentioned in the very first sentence is the . . . only one to suffer the full consequences of having . . . sex.  I guess the moral lesson here is be responsible by not being promiscuous? I don’t know.

There is a sub-plot that I think is potentially more interesting and one Blume could easily revisit now.  When I was a teenager and I first read this novel, I never thought that Artie might be homosexual, although it is clearly implied in the dialogue and events that occur during the narrative.  I think Artie’s character is an interesting one and, what with young men still struggling with their sexual identity, although his actions are extreme they are certainly honest for the time in which this novel takes place.  (I would like to think we’ve come a long way from the type of familial homophobia Artie faces but a part of me knows better.)

There’s a story waiting to be told here, one of Artie’s first love and his first sexual . . .  experience.  I want to read that story, told . . . in the context of pre-AIDs ‘70s.  Blume certainly . . .  has the . . . talent for it . . . and maybe, just maybe, her editor will remove the damn ellipses.

One can only hope.