Friday, December 09, 2011

Remembering Life in F Major

In my last post, I lamented about loss.  In and out of my moments of distress, I've also noticed that others are experiencing the same thing.  Whether you are a celebrity, a "regular" person or someone else of note; loss affects us all and sometimes bring us together.  In fact, it feels kind of odd to feel such a kinship with someone I don't know personally, who has skillfully painted a painful corner of my life's canvas through his music.

The other night, I went to the mother church in Nashville and sat among the handicapped in the back.  I felt every inch of my handicap, physically and philosophically.  I was there to hear Glen Campbell, another poor soul who is battling Alzheimer's.  His musical talent was so strong and steady that it seemed hard to believe that his mental facilities were slipping.  The reminders of his handicap were there though, flaunting it's ugliness and exposing Campbell's vulnerability from the first moments until the end of the concert.

As he had to stop and start songs, the audience didn't mind.  During those vulnerable moments of his performance, it was then when the applause was louder, more enthusiastic and determined.  The look on his face exposed true surprise and gratitude for the forgiveness of his disease's imperfection.  That night, he forgot names, lyrics, guitar riffs at various times of the performance.

The thing he didn't forget is being able to sing with a soulfulness and emotion in his songs that sewed the fabric of my childhood together.  There with the mismatched patterns, various colors and stitching, all connected through the poignancy of music.  And, he announced to the audience that one of my favorite songs was in F Major.  He was pleased to have remembered that detail.

So was I

More Musings Later- 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Letting the Dust Settle

Right before I started this post, I glanced at the date to see when I last wrote anything of substance.  August was a long time ago.  Sheeesh.

I know I've been moaning about what a kick in the ass the last couple of years have been but I had no idea that the ass-kicking would linger until the end of the year.  As I speak, I am just getting my bearing from the tailspin I have been in.

These last couple of years have been a time of profound loss.  You name it; loss of loved ones, financial stability, belongings, pride, purpose, hope and determination.  It's only been in the last couple of days that I've felt compelled to write.  That's a huge stride for me.  It was very difficult living inside myself during this time.  Not writing meant that I was hollow inside and I felt every square inch of nothingness.  I've experienced the depth of my emptiness.  

Now I can experience the depth of fulfillment.  Once the dust settles, it's worth writing about.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pat Summit, Measuring Quality against Time

I have always admired Pat Summit, the Tennessee Lady Vols basketball coach.  As I was perusing Facebook, I heard breaking news on ESPN that Pat was diagnosed with young, onset dementia.  She's only 59 years old.

I hate that she is dealing with this health issue.   Dementia is a disease that doesn't cater to one race, intellect, gender or sexuality.  It strikes people that aren't famous and those who are.  Those who are most determined to beat it, simply succumb just as quickly as those who feel defeated. 

It's a horrible disease for everyone.  Knowing her fierce competitiveness, I'm sure she will fight the good fight, and good for her.

I also think Pat Summit will be carefully measuring quality of  her profession against cognitive time. 

More Musings Later-

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Co-Author Heard 'Round the World

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you will recall that I wrote a novel with Alan Solomon.  The kick is, we've never met each other.  We met online and never spoke on the telephone.  Why you ask?  Because at the time, he was located in Beijing, China and I was in Nashville, TN. 

Alan is a native New Zealander, more commonly known as "kiwi".  He owned a restaurant in Chiang Mai, Thailand called, "The Mango Tree Cafe."  After owning this restaurant, he had a story to tell and that is where I came into the picture.  He wanted someone to help with his novel by the same name of his eatery.  After learning about the story and being told that it sat upon the most mystical road in the world, I was hooked. They say once you walk Loi Kroh Road, you are forever changed.   I normally didn't accept book jobs such as these in my writing days, but something told me this was special.  And, indeed it was.

So, Alan and I have been keeping up with each other since 2007.  We published the book (see the column to the right under "Amazon Offerings"), received alot of media coverage about it and my eyes were filled with the world's mysteries and unspoken charms. 

I hadn't heard from Alan for awhile.  He had mentioned that he was going to leave Beijing this past December and relocate to New Zealand.  We've instant messaged each other, sent emails and the like as we've done in the past; our mode of communication.  We had tossed the idea around of writing another novel together...who knows?  It might be in the cards. 

Yet, I don't know.  He dropped me a line a few weeks ago and mentioned he was going to Japan to work on a project for a friend.  Of course, he has other things going on in New Zealand too.  He's a very energetic guy.  But, something inside of me whispered that our paths may not cross again.  I could be wrong of course, it's just a niggling I have.

Then again, I have walked Loi Kroh Road in spirit and I am forever changed. 

More Musings Later-

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mayberry "Ohm" F. D.

Lately, I’ve been reading about Buddhism.  The thing I like most about it is that it is based in common sense.  When I first thought heard about Buddhism, I thought it was reserved for those Asian men who wore robes and lived in Temples.  I thought they worshipped Buddha.  Boy, was I wrong! 

These monks and other followers don’t “worship” Buddha, they take his basic teachings and use them to live a better life.  At the same time, they do not follow any religion blindly.  Think of Buddhism as basic as living life in Mayberry R.F.D.  The concepts involve ideas and difficulties of normal, every day life.  Let me provide some scenarios if the town of Mayberry became Buddhists:

Goober to Gomer:  “Wanna hear my Buddhist impression?  Buddha-Buddha-Buddha!”
 (Think of his Cary Grant impression, Judy, Judy, Judy!)

Opie to Andy:  “Paw, I shot the Mama bird but didn’t know she had baby birds to feed.”
Andy to Opie:  “Opie, you had no right to kill that bird, regardless of whether it had baby birds or not.  What goes around, comes around.  You need to have respect for all living things.  Gate’, Gate’ Para- sumgate’, Gone! Gone! (Perfect Understanding)

Barney to Andy:  “Hey Ange, you and Helen going to the dance?”
Andy to Barney:  “Naw, I thought we’d have a dharma on the front porch instead.  You and Betty Lou should come over.”

Aunt Bee to Andy:  “Andy!  The freezer is broken!  I need to have it fixed!”
Andy to Aunt Bee:  “Aunt Bee, Call the monk!”
Aunt Bee to Andy:  “But, Andy!  I thought maybe…”
Andy to Aunt Bee:  “Call the monk!”
(Think of Andy's persistent response, Aunt Bee, Caaalllll the man!) 

Floyd, The Barber to Andy:  “Hey, Andy, I’m supposed to attend a barber’s convention in Mount Pilot next week.”
Andy: “All the way up in Mount Pilot? That’s great, Floyd”
Floyd, The Barber:  “I’m feeling anxious about it, there are going to be all these master barbers and experts from Mount Pilot and here I’ll be from little ole’ Mayberry.  They will all be better than me.”
Andy to Floyd:  “Kill the Buddha, Kill the Buddha!”
Floyd:  “Ah, Ah, Thanks, Andy.”

More Musings Later- (Shalom!)

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Misleading Beauty of the Kudzu

One day last week I was watching Oprah, trying to get my fill before she closes the door on 25 years of television excellence.  The topic was "The Freedom Riders."  A group of incredibly brave and forward thinking people who joined forces to ride buses in 1961 from Washington D.C. deep into the bowels of the South where racism was as thick as the kudzu that overtakes the landscape of any and all vegetation around it. 
I was fascinated as I listened to stories recanted about the blatant bigotry that existed so prominently then and somewhat quietly today.  Buried within the "Bless your hearts" of those who were overtaken with this backward thinking of racism, was the society that choked life from everything near it.  I began to think that perhaps bigotry and kudzu are one in the same. 

On the surface, kudzu is beautiful, a deep greenery of vegetation that rolls on forever, climbing up into trees, along the roads, taking presidence on top of the grass.  At first glance, it seems that the soil beneath the kudzu would be fertile and rich encouraging the production of vegetables and fruit.  But, to those who are from the South, we know it to be a beautiful killer of everything around it. 

I've watched people try to kill the kudzu without much luck.  No amount of digging or trying to pull the roots up would do.  Once these plants take hold of the earth, it's nearly impossible to get rid of it.  I once asked my grandfather about how to get rid of kudzu if it overtook your yard, fields, and home.  His best advice was to "leave it, cause you won't ever get rid of it."  From then on, I've looked at kudzu in a different way.  It looks beautiful on the surface, but it's downright deadly if you don't recognize the damage it can do.

Somehow, The Freedom Riders were able to kill off a good portion of kudzu in the South that day.  Leave it to Oprah, a television icon and media mogul who once resided in Mississippi to shine the light on those who were able to stop the kudzu in it's tracks.


More Musings Later-

Monday, May 02, 2011

Ding Dong, the Wicked Witch is what?

President Obama did it.  Or, should I say the Navy Seals did it?  In any event; the one task that needed doing was accomplished last night, the death of Osama Bin Laden.  While revenge is sweet for Americans, it causes me to wonder when the next shoe will drop.

If you think the score has been settled, think again.  This will be an ongoing chess match of intelligence and human lives.  We have the #1 man that was in charge of the horrendous 9/11 catastrophes and it validates my hunch all along; IF President George W. Bush wanted to kill Bin Laden, he could have.  Did he REALLY think he was in Iraq?  C'mon.  All intelligence pointed to Pakistan.  So, after 8 years of "Dub'ya" we were about as close to nabbing Bin Laden as the proverbial man on the moon.  Instead, we went against the United Nations, Intelligence reports and set our sights on Saddam Hussein.  Can we say, O-I-L?  Sure, I knew you could.

Now we have a President in office that has been working his tail off even before he was sworn into office.  All because Dubya had his Iraq war and Saddam's death to boast about in his memoirs of accomplishments so he was done.  President Obama is in office for about 2 years and manages to kill the most wanted man in America (and beyond really) precisely where we thought he was all these years:  Pakistan, not Iraq.  Meanwhile, we invite the leader of Iran to speak at Columbia University in New York City.  Am I the only one that thinks this is downright weird???

One thing is for sure; there are ALOT of people that were snowed by the Bushes and Cheney.  In fact, I was blown away to see a bumper sticker on the car ahead of me at a traffic light which had a picture of Dubya with the caption:  "Miss Me Yet?"

I shook my head in disbelief and pulled into a gas station to fill up.

More Musings Later-

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Intention and the Written Word

My neighbor in Nashville, TN, the irrepressible Reverend Terry Jones has reared his ugly views again.
He has an axe to grind and he would like to use it on the Quran to be more specific.  Of course, he is also protesting the building of a mosque in Murfreesboro, TN.  Sad to say, because of his and his followers' shenanigans, they have made the national news.  Once again, focusing on the proverbial woman with the curlers and moo-moo to become a 15 minute celebrity.

I find it curious that the reverend is so against the Quran.  I read somewhere that the only difference between the Bible and the Quran was that a vast array of people share stories about God and Jesus where the Quran is narrated by one entity:  God.  And, it is written in first person.  I'm certainly not an expert on the Quran but what is so troubling about this revelation?  Has he read it?  Does he disagree with it?  Does he not believe in freedom of speech?  I'm beginning to wonder.  Is it, "Freedom of Speech as long as you believe as I do?"

I've known ministers that stand behind every word of the Bible.  I wonder about that too.  Who should have the final word on supremacy of belief?  Fundamentalist Christians scare the hell out of me.  Why?  Because they believe the Bible to be interpreted literally.  You can't tell me that the hundreds of scribes that wrote the Bible in Aramic, thousands of years after the fact wrote a completely factual account free of bias or prejudice.  How many times has the Bible been translated into other languages?  How do the translations hold up?  C'mon....for example:

"Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property." (Leviticus 25:44-45)

Really?  Slaves?  Burning the Quran? Hating a race of people for the actions of a few?  I believe Reverend Jones has read the Bible.  I just think he's never understood it.
More Musings Later-

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Charlie Sheen and the Power of Free Speech

Unless you've been hiding under a rock the last several days, you've heard and seen Charlie Sheen's rants.  While I watched him rant on some of the Enquirer-esque tv shows, I thought back to a younger Charlie Sheen.  The one that had promising acting chops and came from a famous family of actors.  His talent along with his looks seemed destined for stardom.  Alas, the movies came, wealth was established and bad habits were formed.

Fast forward to an older, frenetic, out of control, former movie star turned tv sitcom star.  He's lost weight, his eyes are bulging with anger and carefully contained hysteria.  His kids, his poor, innocent kids were taken from him last night and shuttled back to a just-as-disturbed, angry mother.  Speaking as an uninformed bystander, if ever was a time for Emilio Estevez to step in, the time was yesterday.  Maybe he can't help.  Maybe it's going to take Charlie Sheen hitting bottom.  And, like sharks circling their prey, the public will be front and center eager to watch the bitter end.  That fact was established when Sheen obtained a Twitter account and he had 100,000 "followers" in less than an hour.  I'm finding the forum a bit disgusting at this point.

Don't get me wrong, I have always encouraged free speech.  I just always hope that those who exercise the right will have common sense.  But, as I've also said, you can't legislate morality either.  Yesterday, it was determined that those groups of people who like to protest funerals of loved ones who fought for our freedoms are allowed to continue to do so in the name of freedom of speech.  I watched these people on tv gloating over their victory and planning their next protest.  It made my eyes water.  What kind of a world do we live in?  That people are allowed to spit on those who gave their lives for our freedoms?  

I'm at a loss for words.  For those who relish contorting our first amendment rights just before the breaking point, congratulations; you win. 

You win and the rest of us lose.  I hope we hear a new version of "I Had A Dream" speech soon.  We need it.

More Musings Later-

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Nocturnal Infomercials

It's been awhile since I've had a commentary on late night infomercials, so here it goes.  For those of us who have insomnia, usually the only thing on TV is infomercials.  I have my favorites and then there are "the duds" in my humble opinion.

My Favorite Infomercial
I don't know about you, but I think Florence Henderson made one of the most entertaining infomercials when she was pushing crock pot-esque cookware.  She not only used the product, but she had a gaggle of "friends and neighbors" that sat around her kitchen counter watching all of the fabulous meals that her cookware would create.  There was the smoking kook who was reminiscent of Mrs. Roper on Three's Company, the couple next door who have busy lives and don't have time to make Hamburger Helper (which takes less than 10 minutes), the single woman who wants to "entertain" (meaning she wants to cook for her dates without stressing) and the meat and potatoes neighbor who doesn't like "newfangled appliances."  The infomercial is even named as a television show to give the impression that you already know these lovable characters and it's just a new episode you're watching.  Of course, Florence sings the theme song.  Ya gotta love that.

Of course, after dumping frozen, rock-hard hamburger meat, uncooked noodles and a bottle of Ragu into the contraption, the finished product became a succulent, gourmet pasta dish that the whole family loved!  That one used to crack me up.  Can you imagine how disgusting that would taste if someone really prepared that meal as she did?  Bleh.  But, Florence is always happy, happy and the infomercial does make you wonder if it really does what it claims. 

The "B" Version of Florence Henderson's Infomercial
This one isn't a TV show themed ad.  This one is an older lady with red curly hair who cooks a variety of dishes from breakfast to dessert in a George Foreman-esque appliance.  As she goes from dish to dish, she mentions what a time saver it is to simply dump batter, cutup bananas, walnuts and other seasonings into this machine and have breakfast ready to eat in minutes!  That's great, but you gotta cutup the bananas, walnuts, create the batter and so on.  You've just dirtied a bunch of dishes so you can use a little Foreman-esque appliance.  It's stupid.  I may be sleep deprived at this point, but I'm not stupid.  Jeez.  Then there is a guy with glasses on that wears a golf shirt and slacks that are a size too small.  Then, every bite he samples from this cookware, he swoons as if he's fallen in love for the first time.  He's irritating.  There's no theme music.  The lady isn't happy, happy.  There aren't any obvious marketing ploys.  I don't like this one.

The One I LOVE to HATE
You knew it was coming, right?  How many infomercials have you watched of Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley plugging "The Total Gym"?  I love to hate this one.  I think they do a good job of demonstrating the equipment and if I had money, I would be tempted to buy it.  So, they accomplish what they set out to do.  They even get the actor that is going to jail for tax evasion to demonstrate!  He's probably doing any work he can get to pay the IRS.  

Now, you not only get to watch Chuck do his workout, but his wife as well.  She doesn't want to be "beefy" like her big strong husband (gag) so she does workouts to look more lean.  It's kind of funny to watch her talk while she works out because she's so out of breath.  Does she really do this workout every day?  Really?  Chuck has learned to suck it up and talk and workout without busting a lung. BUT, you can tell he's struggling.  His wife makes me gag and when he flexes his bicep to emphasize his "beefiness" I am tempted to turn the channel.

But, here is the part I truly love to hate!  I like Christie Brinkley.  She looks great and I believe she works hard to keep her body looking that way.  She demonstrates the machine well, moving from one exercise to the other.  THEN: she does one exercise that isn't "named" where each leg is isolated by doing a semi-squat on the machine.  She flashes that modeling smile and giggles, "I think I'll call this one 'the Christie!" 

After that, I feel vindicated that I can turn the channel.  Oh wait, Ron Popeil is about to "Set it and forget it!" while he sprays paint on the back of his balding head.  Gee, that looks natural.  Why didn't I think of it?

Sleep is an elusive mistress.

More Musings Later-

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Northern Exposure in a Southern Town

Lately, I've been missing the TV show, "Northern Exposure."  For those of you not familiar with the show, it was the story of a transplanted New York doctor assigned to handle a remote, Alaskan town's health care.  While the central character was the doctor, I found the strength of this show sat squarely in the laps of the supporting actors.

 There was the wealthy, Texas bred entrepreneur who flexed his influential muscle when confronted, the elderly grocery store owner who was no-nonsense with a penchant for being blunt, yet was one of the softest and kindest characters of the show.  There were many characters I liked and the two who I just mentioned were just a couple of examples.

I have to say the characters that I resonated the most with was Ed, the part Native American twenty-something and Chris, the Radio DJ.  It occurs to me that there are a little of both of these characters within me.  I loved watching Ed.  He struggled with social situations as well as wisdom with regard to his heritage.  He was later groomed to be a Shaman and it proved to be quite the challenge.  He was sweet, kind and unassuming.  A bumbling wunderkind if you will.  Where a Shaman is supposed to lead with wisdom and grace, Ed fumbles with these concepts and ideas.  He is oh so human and I love that about him.  Those who he is supposed to counsel, instead counsel to him in an unorthodox manner.  If Ed were real, he would be my best friend.

Then, there is Chris, the DJ.  He is a long drink of water who sees the philosophical tint to most any situation.  In a town where the usual is surviving, Chris gazes through the glass window of the radio station and pontificates on air, the wonders of life lessons that citizens of this town might be struggling to understand while they hide away any evidence of angst from neighbors in this tiny, rugged northern town.  He is a poet, a thinker and voracious reader of matters that plague the heart and man's psyche.  His existence is meager, yet his understanding is massive.  Chris is the sort of friend you want to either share a bottle of Chianti and discuss the matters of the world or belly up to the nearest sports bar to throw back a few beers and revel in the simplicity of rooting for the home team. 

As I sit in my home snowbound from getting out; I find myself needing a little Northern Exposure in my southern town.

More Musings Later-

Monday, January 10, 2011

Rocky Balboa and 2011

As I watched 2011 introduce herself, I couldn't help but be thankful that 2010 was over.  In fact, I think alot of people are grateful last year is over. 

As I've mentioned in some posts last year, it was a year of sadness, grief, anger, despair, changes and huge lessons learned.  It wasn't for naught and that's a good thing.  The most painful situations are some of life's best lessons.  I was humbled and determined to be a good student and learn my lessons accordingly.  However, the bombardment of life crashing down around me threw me into a perpetual state of feeling punch drunk.  The scene in every Rocky movie where he is facing a huge opponent and is savagely beaten until he pulls himself up by the bootstraps to dig deep and discover his strength once again strikes a familiar chord. 

That moment in time when he is whirling from the intensity of punches is something we can all relate to.  In fact, instead of a huge fighter swinging hellacious punches at me, it was only 2010.  I've already begun the process of pulling myself up by my bootstraps and it takes time and constant determination.

In any event, hello and welcome 2011. 

Go ahead...cut me Mick.

More Musings Later~