Saturday, February 01, 2003

I don't think you should be allowed to graduate from high school until you've seen the first two Godfather films.
It's shameful. I know film majors at Chapman who have never seen an Orson Welles film, but have seen at least one by Jerry Bruckheimer.
This is as good an arguement as any as to why the value of human life has gone so far down in our country. It's not violence in tv or video games. It's not cheap, meaningless sex. It's not intoxicants. It's the loss of taste!
By the way, to those of you who thought that last post was preachy and holier-than-thou, know this. Every sermon is an internal monologue spoken aloud. A minister's focus tends to be on where they feel the deepest wound inside. When, in that last message, I was talking about people, know that I was talking to myself above all.
The difference between me and most ministers is that I admit this freely.
Send not your children into a private meeting with a minister who preaches on the evils of sex.

There's a reason why I like to read Alexander Woollcott and watch Laurel and Hardy films. Charles says I know and often sing more pre-WWI songs than anybody he knows. There's a heightened and specific emotional life that I don't see around me anymore. Public emotions in our modern age tend to be either soppy sentimentalism or jaded cynicism with no grey areas in between. I dislike both.
Some say that Woollcott and pre-WWI entertainments are to the soppy sentimental side. The people who say this tend to dwell on the jaded cynical side. There's a line between melodrama and expression that people like to blur for the sake of poking fun at somebody who is trying to feel.
I found it amazing when I was crying in a supermarket on 9/11/01 and nobody acted like it was strange or that I was crazy. Nobody tried to stop me. This is not how people usually react. The question then came to my mind, "Why are we working so hard to supress our emotions?"
It tends to cause emotions to come out in other ways that are inappropriate, but society has shifted to allow the inappropriate before the natural. It's okay to talk with exclusive sarcasm to anybody, but to cry in front of somebody ist verboten. They always try and get you to stop crying. That's why we all hold our breaths when we cry. We're trained to hold it in.
It's easy for me to see how firemen rushing into a collapsing building to save people are heroes. Classically, they're in Valhalla now (or some such thing that honors heroes.) But otherwise a hero is such a tainted word. This brings me to the why of all of this. Not only are we forbidden our emotions from our peers, but also by our entertainment. The term "hero" is cheapened to the point where it's meaningless. I remember in junior high how pop entertainment was calling Magic Johnson a hero because he got HIV. Now, almost fifteen years later, I think I can count on my hands the times I've seen him raise awareness about the disease. As far as helping our fellow man, Harvey Fierstein is much more of a hero than Magic. But imagining Tom Brokaw presenting such a story seems absurd. It won't happen. So, we're not allowed our language or true emotions.
We're also not allowed our natural states. I've said this before and I think I heard this from Ginsberg, but in India, a man who walks around naked all the time is concidered one of the holiest of people. In America, a man who walks around naked is concidered obscene and thrown in the nuthouse.
It's long past time to take back the media. Take back your language. Take back the insides of your head and your rich fountain of emotions. This is the first step on Operation Restore Sanity (ORS.)
Okay. Sorry for the mini-sermon. I was just thinking that I'd much rather be seeing people wailing and howling right now than street after street of half mast flags and people going about their weekend like nothing had happened. Like they'd paid their emotional tax by lowering their flags and could now have a normal Saturday. For shame.

Friday, January 31, 2003

Just read a good and short Vonnegut interview on the current state of things ( He makes some great points. One of which, which I happen to have as well, is the observation that even though we're pacifists, a good military band can make us feel like a million bucks. I own several Sousa albums which I throw on in the car every few months.
Anyway, tonight I met a few of Nissa's Buddha friends. They were shooting a film noir film behind a seafood restaurant in Little Saigon.
I'm quite tired. Since switching to a lower dose of Benedryl I haven't been sleeping long enough. I've been waking up after seven hours and, once I'm up and going potty there are people around who won't let me go back to sleep.
Also, earlier today, I tried to fix my grandmother's faucet. It was corroded solid. Nothing could be done. I wished the giant plumber was there. The giant plumber kind of looked like a young Kurt Vonnegut (sometimes I have to reach to bring it back around.)

You know, there's a good reason why I never trust cops or doctors or plumbers or certainly politicians. Besides the fact that I watched a cop intimidate my grandfather until he had a stroke when I was seven, which started the slippery slope to many years of strokes and heart attacks until he died in a coma when I was eleven. The reason I don't trust or like these people is that I know that I'm in the top five percent of intellegent people worldwide and I know diddly about anything. I know of nothing certain. I know enough to realize that I'm just kind of doing the best I can and nobody is an expert on anything because there are no absolutes. To have a true "law" of physics means that you have to have perfect test conditions and instruments of measurement (which don't exist) and an infinite number of tests to prove that something will be eternally true (which one cannot do.) Anyone who says they know anything for sure is a pasty-faced liar and should be run out of town on a rail.
Just something I thought of today.

I have learned the worst thing about working on your own. Everybody thinks you have all the free time in the world to do the things that they think are important. This is a trap that one should never allow to open in the slightest. Once you help somebody, everybody will look at you like some kind of handyman on their beck and call.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Three items:
1) We walked out. The play was called "Proof." I forget who it's by, but it won the Pulitzer, so it shouldn't be too hard to find. I loved the script. I thought it was brilliant. The actors were cartoons of the characters. There was no emotional connection. You could see major flaws in the set design. The sound design BLEW! It was bad Philip Glass ripoffs betwixt scenes and canned sound effects within. Horrid.
This all boils down to the director. Dude should have caught the production problems. He miscast the two leads like a mofo. The lead played a characture of a tipsy Jenna Elfman, a voice that turned off the ear of the audience in five seconds flat. The director never should have cast her and should have told the others, "Hey, you know how the character is feeling in this scene? Why don't you find that feeling in yourself INSTEAD OF SHOWING US THAT FEELING?!!? We know what that feeling is. You shouldn't indicate it, you should experience it and then the audience could share it!"
Another night of blasphemy.
At intermission, Nissa was almost snoring and unfocused. She said, "What do you think?"
I said, "I love the script. I'd much rather be reading it. And it won the Pulitzer so..."
"Let's go."

2) My niece Abby had surgery on her adinoids today. Your adinoids are somewhere in your head. She's pretty much had a cold for the whole two years she's been alive. No more! They also drained a lot of fluid from her ears and discovered that she was near deaf. No more!
Mom cried the other night when Abby got on the phone and said, "I'm a princess too!"
The doctor said she didn't cry or whine. Afterwards she went around showing all the doctors and nurses her fingernails which were painted pink and the teddy bear she'd received for the experience.

3) I think it might be wrong, but every time I go to see my counselor, I get the theme song from "Doctor Shrinker" stuck in my head. It was one of a seemingly endless supply of shortlived Sid and Marty Kroft shows from my childhood.
Today we talked about my addictive personality. I went through all of the drugs and alcohol that I've taken. She pointed out how going through all of that made me who I am and the tremendous amount of willpower it took to quit all of that crap. Which was good because I tend to think about my past as being nothing but awful. She reminded me that it wasn't awful and that the present is what matters.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Change of plans for the evening. Nissa, through one of her theater classes, got season tickets to South Coast Repertory (the stodgy, evil slum baron tycoon funded, terminally blue-haired theater across the street from South Coast Plaza, a developers wet dream of cramming tasteless geegaws down the throat of OC's plague of affluent, insipid and Prozaced housewives. That about sums it up.) Niss suddenly realized today that she has tickets to tonight's show.
I used to work in the box office at South Coast Rep before they had a massive lay off to celebrate one of their most successful seasons. I saw one show there that was amazing, transcendent, and worthy of one's attention for two hours. It was called "Nostalgia" by Lucinda Coxon. If you ever see it playing or see a copy of it in print, do not hesitate.
The rest of the story is that I saw probably fifteen shows or so while working there. Most of them blew chunks. Candy coated parodies of the theater catered to the USA Today demographic. I walked out of more than a few. One of them was so bad that I started playing with the Silly Putty I had in my pocket until bolting for my car at intermission.
I'm going to try very hard not to go into tonight's performance with preconceptions. I'm going to try. You can help too by praying for me. Pray very hard.

Expect a review on your desk sometime tomorrow.

Well, I liked the hydrogen car part anyway. At least in theory. That's the thing about every State of the Union I've ever heard. There are some things that sound great, but I know that they won't be in practice. That seems to be the general idea behind the things. Then there are some parts that downright terrify me (and I use "Terrify" advisedly) like the relish with which torture details were related. I could see the fence sitters toppling to the right like so many Humpty Dumpties. Arguements for war were coersion. My favorite was to the people of Iraq, "Your enemies are not surrounding you. Your enemies are ruling you." So remember that if you survive the blanket bombings from the people surrounding you.
Afterwards I went to see Charles and Phish to lament. I put the "Blessed are the Peacemakers" sticker on my car right after the speech.
Nissa and I finally had a meaningful conversation last night. I joked that it was our "State of our Union" conversation. One of those that goes far too late into the night and neither of you care until the next morning. I hope she's doing okay. We both got to air some dirty laundry with each other.
Today I did filing for the Quaker retirement home for two hours. Then I went to the Cypress library where I found a hundred dollars worth of books for eight dollars.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

I think they played a joke on me. At the libraries in Orange County I kept seeing these Buddhist lectures on cd for a dollar. I bought two. Overcoming Fear and Anger and something about non-violence. I swear to you both of the cds are blank. But they have tracks on them of blank space, so you can listen to a good hour of silence on them.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Two more things:
That last post is another illustration of why I prefer herbal remedies. Thank God hives aren't suppressed by morphine. Of course, the Benedryl is just a quick fix that makes the symptoms of my hives vanish. What actually cured my hives (i.e. retrained my body to not produce histamines constantly) was Quercetin, a powder culled from some obscure plant somewhere. Dr. Oblivious up in San Francisco told me that he cured his with nothing more than vitamin B.
The last time I had jury duty, it was a malpractice case and I got out of it by telling the judge that I thought all doctors were racketeers. Quakers don't lie!

The other thing I wanted to say before I go buckity buckity off to bed is that my mother's arm is covered in mosquito bites that she got while gardening yesterday. It's late January in case you haven't noticed. So make sure to eat your garlic and take those malaria pills that make you murderously insane because it looks like it's going to be a long, balmy winter. Thank you, EPA, for lowering your standards. Now every winter can be warm for all the children of the world!

This might be filed under "D'oh!" Two and a half years ago, I broke out in hives from an allergy to tomatoes. Ever since, I've taken Benedryl at night. In fact, in my usual style, I've taken WAY too much Benedryl. Today I did a little research and found out that a side effect of Benedryl is confusion and anxiety. Needless to say the weening off process begins tonight.
But there's no such thing as a failed experiment. No lesson goes unlearned. I'm going to continue with the healthy things I've gotten out of my anxiety, such as meditation, positive focus, prayer, and being outdoors during daylight hours (without getting burned, natch.) Let's hope this works.
In spite of a little freaking out in the morning (again), it's been a most profitable day. So much so that I did something I probably shouldn't ought to have. I picked up a few items for myself along with the two grocery sacks full of books for the business. I got myself two lectures on cd by some Buddhist master about overcoming greed and anger. I got myself a movie and a rare Capote book with library markings on it rendering it worth nothing save a few days of reading.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Wow and golly. She's certainly had an up the mountain, life changing, bona fide spiritual experience. She looks different in her eyes. She used to always have a little fear behind her eyes. She didn't tonight. It was the first time I've seen her eyes look like that. It was a little unsettling and quite exciting.
Too much to write right now. I'll just end by saying that she brought me a sailor's buttload of bumper stickers. My favorite is one, from the Bible from God speaking to Moses, that says, "Take off your shoes, for you are standing on Holy ground."
It's great because you can put that one anywhere. You can even put it on your car to let people know that everywhere they go is holy. The one that probably will end up on my car is another Biblical one (she got all the Biblical ones for Quaker boy here), "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God."
May we all be called children of God.

Nissa comes home tonight. In fact, in about an hour she lands. Hooray!
Arrr. Tis a mighty storm brewing in me gut.
The venison chili worked on me overnight as I dreamed of robbing a supermarket with a shotgun. But don't worry. I've got a patch of peppermint in the garden for just this reason. Whenever my stomach screams out because I've eaten something I shouldn't ought to have, I go out, pick myself a handful of peppermint and chew the leaves like bubblegum. Works like magic.
I much prefer herbal remedies. The other day, we had a swarm of ants around one of the planters in the backyard. I mean it was one of those swarms where the whole planter is black and moving. I got a sack of dried wormwood and covered the swarm in it. Ants hate wormwood. I seen nary an ant since.