Saturday, December 19, 2009

Third Song or My Version of the Family Christmas Letter People Send Out With Their Cards

I'm sitting on my sofa, with a cat on either side, taking an inventory of my state of mind as is typical to do this time of year.

I feel happy.

Despite the economy, despite all the fear and unrest in the world, I have had a good year. Except for some complaints of sore muscles here and there, the people I love are relatively happy and healthy. I am warm and dry and have a roof over my head. I have discovered new friends and rediscovered old friends over the internet via Facebook, Twitter and Blip. I have good relationships with man and beast and I still have a job.

Truly, in what could be described as some of the "worst of times," I am blessed with what is quite near "the best of times."

For me the happiest Christmas song is "Carol of the Bells." I probably first encountered it as the background music for the Andre Champagne advertisement. I miss the days when that was the first Christmas advertisement of the season.

"Hark how the bells,
sweet silver bells,
all seem to say,
throw cares away"

When I'm in the midst of a good conversation or enjoying a good meal or watching a good movie, everything seems to compete for attention at once. Every neuron in my body seems to fire simultaneously and the world seems brighter and richer. I feel alive.

"Oh how they pound,
raising the sound,
o'er hill and dale,
telling their tale, "

"Carol of the Bells" is that same experience packaged in a song. The words stumble over each other, as if in the midst of excited conversation. Even the instrumental versions have a hurriedness; not the rushed anxiety of "I have to get to work, I'm late," but the boisterous joy of "I'm alive."

At this time of year, we become so distracted. Too much attention is devoted to fears about our future disguised as "New Year's Resolutions;" too much attention is devoted to what we are afraid we are going to lose disguised as "the clerk said 'Happy Holidays' instead of "Merry Christmas." Too much attention to what we don't have; whether it is time to write Christmas cards and decorate for the holidays or it is money to buy gifts for everyone we love.

"Gaily they ring
while people sing
songs of good cheer,
Christmas is here,"

As for me, from now on I want to take my Christmas cue from "Carol of the Bells." I'm not so naive that I believe I can be happy and giddy every moment, but I want to enjoy those moments - the happy ones - full to bursting over the brim, stumbling over each other with the boisterous joy of "I'm alive."

May this year's holiday moments, no matter what your beliefs or celebration, fill you with love and excitement and peace.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sometimes . . .

a voice will speak up out of the mire of confusion and dissonance in which you find yourself surrounded. This editorial worked that way for me. For those who don't agree, I am surely going to hell for linking this; for those who do agree, grab on friend - here is a friendly life raft for awhile.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sunset Cuttings Wharf Area - South Napa

Still rough beginnings. Cuts have noises that I don't want there, but can't quite avoid.

This video has first attempt with Garageband which was scary and hard and, oddly, kinda easy too. Made me feel good because Art couldn't tell I had pieced it together from Garageband pieces - that's something at least.

Not sure it fits the subject well enough . . . but it is a beginning.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Highlights of Napa Valley - Fall Colors

This weekend's new attempt with my new camera. Monopod is a lot steadier than simply hand-holding, but I've got to learn not to pan - or at least pan less.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween Highlights of Napa

Early attempt with my new camera, a Sanyo Xacti HD2000. I like the idea of the pistol grip, but I'm not sure if I like the handling of it yet. I'll be posting a bunch of tests with tripods/monopods over the next few weeks. As for the Halloween video . . .

you know how 40 is the new 30?

It looks like Halloween is the new Christmas.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The "Up" Series

“Perhaps there isn’t any more to life than just being what you are” Neil from “49 Up”

In my lifetime I’ve been happy and I’ve been unhappy. I don’t believe there is any shame in that. The unhappy times have simply given me the initiative or drive to discover what it is that makes me happy or sad. In fact, I came to believe that there are two types of people in the world: people who are interested in how things work and people who are interested in how people work. In reality there are probably people who could give a hang about how anything works, but I’m interested in how people work.

I wish that the participants in the “Up” series could watch the shows through my eyes. They can be so hard on themselves. When I was growing up, my mother would always hide her face behind her arm, hand or whatever was available in movies and still pictures; and there was a nervousness, shyness or lack of confidence in my mother I believe you can see riding almost, but not quite, invisibly coating over her skin like quicksilver. I think that’s what I look for most when I look at people: a mercury coating of fear. Despite their quiet comments about how difficult the television appearances are, for the most part the “Up” participants bravely reveal details of their lives without a trace of quicksilver. For a person like me, a series like this is like being given a seven pound box of mixed center chocolates. (I didn’t see the different episodes seven years apart, but back to back over about a week’s time.) At the end of each episode, it’s like I have the basic framework of what each person is like and I get to see if solid dark chocolate outside still produces solid chocolate center in the next episode or whether it will suddenly become lemon creme.

Solid chocolate center morphs into lemon creme far more often than I ever would have expected.

In the beginning one or the other of them would make a comment and I would think, “Well, I don’t like that person;” but after seven episodes I have fallen a bit in love with all of them. Collectively, they are the only people on film that I believe if I saw them in person I would be compelled to try and hug them and probably be driven to tears and start balling. Why? Because they’ve exposed their humanity. Over the course of the episodes they have proven themselves not to be any label. The less educated individuals will say some of the most intelligent things; the conservative individuals will perform some of the most liberal deeds; those who proclaim they are weak prove to be strong; there is no end to the little surprises and contradictions.

Sometimes I wonder if the series itself did influence the various outcomes of its participants and there is only one instance where I feel a little indignant against the producer’s. In “35 Up” Tony said on camera that there wasn’t anything that he had attempted in life that he didn’t do. I could immediately see his point and agree with him. He wanted to be a jockey and he was a jockey; he wanted to drive a cab and he drove a cab; he wanted to act and he acted. But the interviewer said something to the effect of “but you didn’t make a success of any of those things.” From the view through my little window on the show, a look flashed across Tony’s face like he had been hit by a brick. It looked as if the notion of success or lack of success qualitatively had never crossed his mind. What he had set his mind to do, he had done - end of story.

There was another moment in either “42 Up” or “49 Up” where Jackie observes that one of her sons is much like her and the interviewer asks if that worries her. Her reaction is less heart wrenching than Tony’s, but is much like a dog being smacked with a newspaper. “How could you say that to me?” She finally sputters. “Do you think that I’ve turned out so badly?”

It probably can’t avoid a bit of the butterfly effect. No matter how neutrally the interviewer tries to phrase his questions, he will occasionally influence and startle his subject and no doubt slightly nudge the trajectory of his/her path forward.

In “49 Up,” John compares the “Up” series to “Big Brother” and “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here” and says it has the added bonus that people get to watch them over a longer period of time and see who got fat and whose marriage broke up. The “Up” series, for me, is so much more than any of those reality programs. It embodies exactly why reality programming can be compelling; i.e. watching real people; but without the “stupid human tricks” circus that reality programming inevitably ends up. It is exactly because those 14 children weren’t seeking their 15 minutes of fame like so many reality show contestants that they are fascinating to watch and worth watching. It is why as Nick says in “49 Up” that the series is so important.

Perhaps because I’m American and not British, I was immune to some of the class comparisons (although I did compare schooling priorites between the two countries.) For me, it is fourteen individuals navigating the waters of life like we all do. Because you only see about 10 minutes of each person (which includes clips from previous shows,) you could never claim to know any of them; but because you so frequently find yourself saying “I’m just like that” or this friend or that friend is just like that - you DO know them.

At least I do.

(The “Up” Series is available to watch at Netflix.)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Second Movie (stated in no particular order)

When I was in college, I was required to take one language class. I’d taken two years of Spanish in high school, but it was a small school and that was really the only language offered. So at college I fought against logic and took French. I’m ashamed to say that I did well enough in school (mostly B’s) without studying - so I usually didn’t. (I suppose I picked up enough to get by- simply by listening in class. I have no other explanation - I can’t claim to be a genius when I wasn’t even smart enough to study. I can claim to be lazy and maybe a little stubborn.) Even as a six-year-old in first grade, I had no interest in learning the alphabet until the teacher explained that you needed to learn it in order to read and after that, she had to dangle books I did want to read in front of my imagination in order to force me to read the books I didn’t want to read. “Read the blue and red readers first; then you can read the book about the cats.”

French did not come easy. For the first time, I was studying. I made cue cards for myself and a huge poster of verb conjugations for my wall. It was no use. I was getting a solid “D” in the class and it was beginning to drag my other grades down. So for the first time, I dropped a class. (I may never have studied for one - but I never walked away from one before.) Because I never learned French, I saw the movie “Amelie” with English subtitles - but I’m not sure that was a bad thing. Reading subtitles forces attention to detail and Amelie is a movie about attention to detail.

On the surface, Amelie is a movie about a lonely young woman who lives in a world of her own-appreciating the world and caring for the people in it, but like an isolated satellite-separate from it. Until you watch the details and realize that you are watching a movie that appreciates all the myriad details about everyone . . . For instance:

“Raphael Pulain dislikes peeing next to someone else.
He also dislikes catching scornful glances . . . .
at his sandals . . .
clingy, wet swimming trunks.
Raphael Pulain likes . . .
peeling large strips of wallpaper . . .
lining up and shining his shoes . .
emptying his toolbox, cleaning it out . . .
and putting everything back.”

After you read the details about enough people on the screen, you become like Amelie-wondering what everyone around you likes and dislikes. Realizing THEY DO have little personal likes and dislikes that make them interesting and endearing and human. After that you realize that something as simple as thinking a little bit like Amelie could bring peace to the world.

Let me introduce myself . . Amelie style . .

“angiece dislikes . . .
the feel of her waistband touching her skin . . .
the texture of overly ripened bananas touching her tongue.
She also dislikes watching people smirk.
angiece likes cats . . .
she likes putting her face right next to theirs . .
the feel of their fur against her cheek,
the rumble of their purr against her ear.
When she was a child . . .
she would hide in the bushes next to a cat . . .
pretend she was one.”

First Movie

Recently I went to see Disney/Pixar’s “Up” in 3D. Art wanted to see the 3D, but I felt really unsure because I haven’t seen a Pixar movie yet that didn’t make me cry and I was pretty sure “Up” would be no different. Why not cry in the comfort of your own home? Isn’t that one of the perks of buying all that assorted electronic equipment?

Art couldn’t understand . . “It’s just a movie.”

My first movie, "Defending Your Life," proves there is no such thing as “just a movie.” Forget that it is easily Albert Brooks' best comedy; I need to thank him and his movie right here publicly for helping change my life.

On one surface Daniel Miller (Brooks) is a schmo that you could almost dislike. All of his insecurities ride right along the surface of his skin . . .nothing is held back . . and like anybody who is so involved in his own insecurities, Daniel is a little self-centered. But just when the viewer might think Miller represents the worst of us, he sits down next to a guy who owned strip clubs while he was living and is obviously several rungs down the ladder. We realize Daniel Miller is just an average schmo.

He is any one of us.

But I get ahead of myself . . .I used the words “while he was living.” The movie is the story of Daniel Miller - ANY ONE OF US - who dies and discovers that the purpose of life is to become more intelligent and use more of your brain. The first thing we “little brains” need to do is overcome our fears, because that is what we waste so much brain power on. In the movie, when you die you face a court trial to “defend your life” or prove that you moved beyond your fears in your lifetime. If you don’t prove that you have overcome your fears, you are recycled and return to Earth; but if you do prove it, you “move forward, continue onward.”

Now the movie also has a wonderful love story and some very funny bits about past lifetimes and Miller’s insecurities and foibles, not to mention the brilliant Rip Torn as Daniel's Defense Attorney Bob Diamond, but it is this idea that only fear stands in our way that has meant so much to me.

It is “just a movie,” but watch it and the next time you realize you’re afraid to do something - picture having to defend not doing it against Lena Foster (Lee Grant) arguing that you were simply afraid. I’m not going to insist I’m ready to advance now, but it helped me overcome fears and I can prove it.

I was afraid to go see “Up” because I was afraid I was going to cry in the movie theater right? But I went anyway . . .

and I cried . . .

thank God for those 3D glasses . . . .

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Second Song

My second song is "Comes Love."  I don't know which version because I don't know who was singing it when I first heard it . . . some female vocalist from the 1930s, but I don't know which one . . .  Perhaps I should explain.

I'm a big fan of the music of the 20's and the 30's.  Earlier than that and the sound is liable to be a little operatic and shrill; later than that and it is too common, familiar.  The 20's with the early jazz gyrations of exuberance like "Ain't We Got Fun? or "That's A Plenty;" the 30's with the crooning encouragements like "Pennies From Heaven" or "The Best Things in Life are Free;"  and the bluesy innuendos of sexual decadence or, frankly, the substance abuse that perhaps accompanies a Prohibition like "I Wanna Be Bad" or "Minnie the Moocher" -performed with this wonderful nearly indescribable tinny, hollow sound.  Frequently the performers' voices seem to mimic the sound of a trumpet that has been muffled by a "mute."  I once played a 20s/30s favorite for Art, certainly the smartest guy about audio in my experience, and asked him "How do they get the singer to sound like that . .what IS that?"  His answer?  Bad microphones . . .

Perhaps . . . I've been known to use outdated, "bad" photographic equipment to achieve an artistic goal . . .maybe simply using old salvaged mics would achieve a similar distortion of sound that old lenses bring to sight. . . . . maybe.

I first discovered that I loved that music in another Steve Martin/Bernadette Peters film, "Pennies From Heaven" which was a big screen version of Dennis Potter's mini-series about a daydreamer who perpetually drifts into cinematic musicals when facing his humdrum life.  My new favorites were Helen Kane, the Boswell Sisters, and the underappreciated Irving Aaronson.

I'm a big fan of 20's and 30's music; I'm not necessarily a fan of big amusement park rides.  The two would seem to be mutually exclusive with nothing in common until you consider the Disney ride "Tower of Terror."  The ride is themed around a haunted, dilapidated 1930's Hollywood hotel and while the "main action"  is pushing you down faster than gravity can pull you, the gift shop is playing some truly wonderful music.  I rode the Disney World Tower in 2005 and, don't get me wrong, it's a great ride.  The number of drops varies each time you ride and the velocity of the surprise-when it comes-will lift things that aren't tied down up from the seat.  But faced with riding the California Adventure Tower in 2008, I was a little reluctant.

Truthfully, I'm always reluctant about amusement park rides . . . I get motion sickness and I spend WAY TOO MUCH TIME evaluating whether I will throw up on a ride.  There is some part of my brain that apparently thinks throwing up is the equivalent of death or worse.  I don't like to throw up.  But I realized that my reluctance to riding the tower wasn't because I was afraid I would throw up.  I knew I wouldn't.  Rather, I was anticipating it like someone who needs to use the restroom feels about an extremely bumpy road that stands between him and his end goal.  I wasn't looking forward to the sensations the Tower was going to deliver.  So I chose not to ride and retired to the giftshop to wait for my friends.  

Giddy with relief and self-satisfaction at having made a decision not based on fear, I had a rare moment of "real" conversation with a middle-aged saleslady about the ride before she descended back into trying to sell me Hollywood Hotel bathtowels and shotglasses when all of the sudden "Comes Love" came over the shop's speakers.  It was all I could do not to sway along with the music or attempt to sing along.  

"Comes a rainstorm, put your rubbers on your feet
Comes a snowstorm, you can get a little heat
Comes love, nothing can be done . . ."

I nearly hit the saleslady like Dino hits Fred when he comes home to the Flintstone household.  "That, you can sell me that," I said, pointing at the ceiling.  When I finally made her understand that I meant a soundtrack to the ride, she led me to the only soundtrack the giftshop had to sell - "The Nightmare Before Christmas."  

When I think back on Orlando's Tower in 2005, I remember hoping this was the last drop and that we could get off now.  When I think about Anaheim's Tower in 2008, I remember everything I just told you-but in even greater detail-the saleslady's hair and glasses, the various items on display, the barriers at the check out (suggesting nearly as many people purchase the photo of them riding the ride as actually 'ride the ride,') the feel of the light carpet under my feet, the smiles on my friends faces as they exited towards me and I encouraged them to go again . . and it's wrapped up in this ribbon of a haunting tune that still makes me want to undulate and sing along with the cobwebbed earworm in my brain . . 

even if I don't know who is singing . . .

but I someday I will . . . 

cause I may not have bought the soundtrack, 
but the song exists on media somewhere . . .

and I took home the thrill of the hunt.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

First Song - (Stated in no particular order)

I've been inspired by LL&L and I have decided to make a list of favorites.  Only I'm going to list one per posting and I'm going to to start with music (although I reserve the right to switch to movies or books or whatever at anytime . . . lol.)

First song - "Lament" sung by Bernadette Peters from the show "Into The Woods."  

I think I first became fond of Bernadette Peters when I saw her in Steve Martin's "The Jerk." I fell in love with the "You Belong to Me" sung acapella by Peters and Martin and it has been on every MP3 player I've ever owned.

I stumbled into "Into The Woods" kinda backwards . . . .  I worked at an independent bookstore as the "returns department."  It was a dangerous job for a book reader-books being returned could frequently be purchased by employees at the discount at which they had been sold to the store and I was exposed to many deals.  One day an illustrated version of "Into the Woods" crossed my desk.  I've always loved fairy tales and after glancing at just a page or two, I knew I would have to read this book.  By the end of the day, I knew it had to come home with me.  I had no idea it was also a Broadway show.  I found that out when PBS broadcasted it one Christmas.  I immediately laughed and enjoyed "The Steps of The Palace;" "Hello, Little Girl;" and "Agony;" but the songs that stuck with me . . that picked at my subconscious were "Stay With Me" and "Lament."

Both songs are told from the point of view of the witch who kidnaps Rapunzel.  

In case you're not familiar with "Into The Woods," let me backtrack . . . in the story a group of different fairy tale characters - Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack (from Jack and the Beanstalk,) among others - meet up and their individual tales intertwine and become something new.  Beleaguered by the wife of Jack's giant, the characters are forced to perform a unique scavenger hunt so that Rapunzel's witch can set the world right again.  

Now my favorite fairy tale as a child was "Rumplestiltskin" (who isn't included in "Into The Woods,") but essentially "Rumplestiltskin" and "Rapunzel" could almost be portions of the same story.  (A) Magical creature (Rumplestiltskin/the witch) is irritated by non-magical commoner.  (B) Angered, the magical creature exacts revenge by taking the non-magical commoner's first born child.  

Until "Into The Woods," I think I always looked at the stories as a karmic phenomenon.  The revenge is directed at the core of the original dilemma and hits the commoners essentially where they live.  But if it is revenge, what do Rumplestiltskin and the witch really get out of the deal?  What happens next?  You can't exactly sing "I got yer baby" for the next 20 years.  

The emotional and powerful delivery of Bernadette Peters in the song "Lament" is that of a mother caring and agonizing about her child, not a witch punishing the neighbors.  It turned my notion of who was the bad guy and who was the good guy in the fairy tales forever on its ear.  

Without the rights to "Lament," I can't present the song to you here (it isn't even on the list of things that are "blip"able,) but I wrote this short story,  "Witch", with that song playing as an earworm.  

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hidden, Secret Worlds

Last night I went to bed as usual.  Read a little, turned out the lights and went to sleep.  This morning I woke up feeling like I had a splinter in my right palm - a splinter that wasn't there yesterday.

It made me think of an old tv movie of the week- I looked it up and it was called "Night Slaves" and it starred James Franciscus (the guy in the 2nd Planet of the Apes movie and/or the blind detective "Longstreet.)  Anyway in the movie Franciscus has been injured or in some sort of accident and he has a metal plate in his head.  He and his wife go to some small town for him to relax and recuperate, but he discovers that, at night, his wife and the rest of the town leave their beds and perform manual labor.  I can't remember what manual labor; it was kinda like building roads or something.  In the morning, they are a little tired, but remember nothing.  Franciscus is immune, presumably due to the plate in his head.  

So when I woke up feeling like I had a splinter in my hand, I thought, "Whoa!  What unseen force is making me perform cabinetry at night?"  I looked around my house, but no new wooden furniture was there to be found. . . .

Seriously, what is it about the idea of an unknown, parallel world that is so intriquing?  

It's like that red pill and blue pill in "The Matrix."  I never even saw the later movies, but in that first one-they had me in the palm of their hand.  There was never a question, if given the choice, I'd take that red pill.  I wanna meet the wizard; see whose hand is pulling the curtain . . .

But lately I kinda wonder.  Maybe we believe too much in secret societies, hidden truths and mysteries to be uncovered.  We believe in hidden foes that control the world and determine it's outcome; we dream of fantasy lovers and benefactors who will see us as something special and carry us off like Cinderella to a fairy tale life.  

All of that is looking for validation outside of yourself.  

It seems like it is divided into 2 camps:  the camp that is looking for someone or something to give their life meaning and the camp that is looking for someone or something to blame because their life is meaningless .  . . . .Neither camp is a good place to be and if you get too comfortable there you win . . . . .  a longer stay in the camp -meaning you'll continue to look for someone to save you or blame someone for making you feel this way . . .either way . .you'll feel the same.  

I once read that the ending of the movie "Pretty Woman" didn't originally have Julia Roberts running off with Richard Gere.  She simply left "the life" and went to school, a stronger, more proactive, responsible person; but that wasn't good enough for audiences.  They wanted the fairy tale.  

Don't let wanting the fairy tale get in the way of your happy ever after.  

No one is going to show up and offer you a red pill or a glass slipper.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

It Takes 4 Weeks To Create a Habit

I read a lot of self help books.  About a year ago, I learned in one of those self-help books that it takes four weeks for a human to create a habit.  It almost seemed like a message from beyond because it was reinforced and confirmed by numerous sources all at once.  But it frightened me a bit at the time because I was in the midst of  what had been predetermined to be at least four weeks of jury duty.  

What about those things you do involuntarily for four weeks?  A habit?  So I would live the first four weeks AFTER jury duty building a habit to go back to work?

Yep . . . kinda.

Now I have been on Twitter for at least four weeks.  As I've said before, those of you who "get it" understand what fun I'm finding.  Those of you who don't, I'm not trying to exclude you - think of it more like the difference between those who enjoy hockey and those who enjoy opera.  Twitter just isn't your cup of tea.  

But after making jokes about the shorthand that people use text messaging and worrying that I wouldn't be able to understand the world because I don't text message:  I find my thought flow when I'm writing has begun stuttering and stammering.  I have created a habit of writing in the 140 character Twitter allotment!  Actually typing out the words "you" and "your" feels almost painful and I can't tell you how many times I've had to erase "@" and type in "at!"

Just the other day, my Dad said to me . . "as an English major . . "  It's true, I graduated from college as an English major, but that was long ago and far away and doesn't seem to even be an accurate descriptor for me any longer.  After creating my new 140 character habit, a monkey at a typewriter probably feels less apoplexy getting his grammar right than I do.

Four weeks and I have definitely created a 140 character habit . . . .

So why am I still reading self-help books to overcome the same old problems after years of working at it?

Recently I had an epiphany about that.  Let me explain.  

It came to me when I was up @ Amazon researching self-help books.  See that's what I do.  When I begin to struggle with sadness, anger or negative emotions, I either begin reading or listening to what I already have or go searching for more of the same.  At that point, I guess I figured I needed new inspiration and anger must have been what I was struggling with; so I searched through online page after page of books about coping with, dealing with and overcoming your anger.  Suddenly, like a cold slap across the face, all that I'd read kicked in and I understood my mistake.  

It's a question of focus and attention.  

One of my favorite things lately to allude to is the idea that Mother Theresa wouldn't attend anti-war rallies.  Rather, her position was that if you held a pro-peace rally, then you could count on her attendance.  See the difference?  It can be subtle and meaningless to those who would relegate it to simply semantics.   An anti-war rally is giving all the attention to what you DON'T WANT, but a pro-peace rally is properly addressing what you DO WANT.

So all those anger books?  Well, of course, they simply reaffirmed and underscored that I was exactly what I didn't want to be:  an unhappy, angry person.  You can't exactly build the habit that you want when you're focusing on the wrong activity.  Really, I was simply continuing a habit I already had - the habit of wanting to change what I was feeling.  

When I created that 140 character habit, I didn't read about how to Twitter.  I just tweeted and twittered & blipped & followed my way 2 finding nu ways of talking so u could get big pic in short sentence.

Habits r created by doing not planning to do.


Monday, April 13, 2009

The World is a Scarier Place

Three days ago, I discovered and ever since I have been creating the internet-digital-revolution version of "The Mix Tape."  I have always been a fan of "The Mix Tape" - I should admit that right up front.  I made them nearly every week, for me, to give to other people - I even made at least one for Somebody Else to give to Her Boyfriend.  (I sometimes wondered what that said about their relationship - but, still in all, I was just grateful to get to make the tape.  I even bought a 45 record (yes those black things that spun . . ) that I didn't like because she wanted it on the tape.

Of course, I progressed to making CDs, MP3 CDs, MP3 player mixes, and finally iTouch MP3 player mixes . . . and then  

It is an entire community of Dj's making mix tapes. . . . & exchanging music for mix tapes & commenting on each other's mix tapes.  I'm so addicted it's a wonder I remember to eat or sleep.  (Confidentially, I discovered late Thursday night and had problems going to sleep, I had so many songs swirling through my brain.  It was like it was the night before the first day of school.)

Just as with Twitter, I'm sure there are people that just don't understand.  Why bother?  Aren't you just making more work for yourself?  Why not just listen to your iTouch?

Because.  Probably.  And weren't you paying attention?  This is an entire "community" that is an entity with it's own life . .  unlike an iTouch  . . you find songs you never heard before, you get the joy of sharing songs with someone else that they've never heard before, you're hearing music appreciated by people all over the world, and you can find kindred spirits that actually like that song no one else you know does.  

But like any "community" there are moments when everybody just isn't in concert with each other.  Some people want the old lady with all the cats to paint her house and cut her lawn.  Some people think the people with the kids who play in the street should have them play in the backyard . . or better . . . at the park.  Some people will smile and nod to you, but essentially want everyone in the neighborhood to mind their own business.

Anyway, on, I'm blissfully blipping away-I just may have the fastest growing music list on my page.  (I'm afraid to know for sure.)  I'm about to take a break from the computer and I blip what should be a nice, bluesy, benign version of Disney's Zip a Dee Doo Dah.  (It is actually a 2 song medley containing Zip . . )  I set it up, get about 5 feet away from my computer, and the song begins saying some of the most vile racist trash I've ever actually heard aloud.  (I'm fairly small town naive-I'm aware of such crud, but it is not a part of my life experience and I am not looking for it to be.)  

And here I've blipped it to my treasured community like it is something I believe in.

Luckily, I've advanced far enough in my understanding of to get the danged thing deleted pretty fast.  I apologized on Twitter & Blip in case anyone was offended.  I admitted that . . . . I was.  No one emailed, blipped or tweeted anything.  As far as I can tell, the incident passed entirely unnoticed.

Except by me.

For me, the internet became a little bit scarier place this afternoon.  Because I got a reminder that while we're all gleefully enjoying each other's company, we're not all the same.  We don't have the same backgrounds.  We don't KNOW how each other thinks.  Even though it removes the barriers and some snap judgements of that other community that we live in; this world will also require patience and tolerance and, occasionally, just removing yourself from a bad situation.  

To (roughly) paraphrase Aldous Huxley - What brave new world!  That has such (wonders) in it.

BTW, for those who "get it" - there was a quote on Twitter the other day - Twitter isn't better than sex, but it has sliced bread on the run.  (Sure does and does too.)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Human Ticker Tape

This week I began "following" on Twitter.  I never joined Facebook or My Space, but somehow Twitter with it's infinite gyrations caught my attention.  You see  .. "When I was a kid" . . and some holiday or big event would happen, I would picture the entire world sitting down to do exactly what I was doing.  I was a REALLY NAIVE KID . . but it gave me a sort of comfort somehow.   And I was a sweet kid, really, because I wanted us all just to be happy and enjoy the good moments.  

So I began "following" on Twitter, not even realizing it would give me that glimpse I'd always desired.  At first I "followed" the people I found through all of my interests . . .stocks, writing, cats, Buddhism, different celebrities; then I realized people were competing for "follows" so I followed everybody who followed me (even the direct marketers with their "sales pitch a posting;") and finally, now I am adding the people from other interests - not mine - just to see what they say.  

The result is . . . yes a human ticker taper . . . from India, Scotland, the US . . . I couldn't even list all of the places  . . . and at any given moment . . one person is having breakfast - another is having dinner; one person is going to a job interview - another is on their commute home; and one person is trying to help the world - another is just complaining about their small little corner.  

It's addictive, heady stuff.  

If you are a writer, I'd recommend Twitter.  If you like to sit at a park or the mall and just watch people, I'd recommend Twitter.  

But . . .  (there's always a but!)

If you are needy, you're out there for adoration or friends or the responses you get are the most important thing; enter Twitter cautiously.  It can be a large, lonely place if you enter with an ego based agenda.  

But so is any place when you enter like that; why would Twitter be any different?

So enter for the pure joy of watching The Human Ticker Tape (or if you will, the passing parade.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

An Open Letter to California

The other day on television I heard someone ask the question, "Do you know what a recession means to someone who has savings and no debt?"  The answer was " You can buy things at a cheaper price."  Everyone hurts a little during a recession, but as we watch the devastation around us, I just need to point out that the things that are hurting the most are the ones that were mismanaged in the first place.  I'm sorry to tell you, honey, but you just can't keep coming to us with a $16 Billion Dollar credit card debt and expect us to increase your allowance.

Let me clue you in on a few things you apparently weren't aware of - 1. Those taxes you add to our service bills (phone, cable, satellite?) - those are TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION.   We had some Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Grandparents who really raised a stink about those in the past .. it's in our genes . . . we won't put up with it forever; 2. If we need to pay for a new roof for the house and we don't have the money - WE SAVE MONEY until we can buy the roof.  Maybe if the roof is leaking badly, we take out a loan to replace the roof - but we don't go looking to remodel the kitchen the next year - unless we paid off the first loan.  We don't just take out a loan EVERY YEAR, and 3. If we get a cut in pay (like you did when you lost the income from all those foreclosed homes,) we don't call in and say that we can't come in to work because we can't afford it.  You've said that you couldn't balance the budget if you closed all of our schools and prisons combined.  Silly thing.  Everyone knows that when you have to tighten your belt and stop overspending, you can't stop eating or paying for utilities . . . you cut the non-essentials . . . the things that aren't working.  

What's not working?  Let me see. . .   kids . . still going to school.  Criminals .. . sadly . . still needing to be locked up.  DMV workers . . . still telling that front person in line "Next" (no matter how slowly.)  Parks . . still beautiful.

I've got it.

You know what isn't working?  

Those lawmakers in Sacramento who just can't seem to manage OUR money.  In the real world, they'd have been foreclosed on by now and would be looking for a good shelter or living under a bridge.