Saturday, February 6, 2016

Reading Between the Lines

I'm glad you're reading my blog, although I'm not sure why. I get few comments and so never have the satisfaction of hearing that I informed anyone or made anyone laugh, except for one very special friend who always tells me she loves reading it and I love her and have since the 7th grade. But as for anyone else, no. On the other hand, if I were confident that my readers were total strangers I could pull out all the stops and discuss indelicate topics I avoid because friends, and this includes my son, might judge me poorly.

I don't make any money at this, unlike times gone by when I was paid to write about specific things that maybe I didn't care about much but did it for the money. Now I'm free to write about anything, except for my fear of being thought indelicate. So in the interest of growth, at the very least (and I do mean the very least) I present here a list of the Top 10 Topics I would tackle if nobody were reading:

After Doing It for Like Fifty Years, I Gotta Say Enough Sex Already
Suicide is Not Wholly Unreasonable in Certain Circumstances
It Must Be Nice to Have Parents Who Left You a Lot of Money
How Can Anyone Even Consider Voting for Hillary Clinton?
"The Onion" is Not Funny, It's Just Childish
If You Ever Stop and Think About It, Oral Sex is Pretty Gross
Sue Me, But Monogamy Is Boring
I Am So Excited to Have Obama Be Over
Some of My Friends Are Truly, Certifiably Crazy
Dumb People Should Not be Allowed to Vote, Let's Face It 
Rachel Maddow Is Sickening: Discuss

Friday, February 5, 2016

Be Kind to Strangers

Dave with his family.
I am sad today because someone I didn't know and in fact never even heard of before ten minutes ago committed suicide yesterday. Dave Mirra, a star of the BMX bike world (I had to look that up) shot himself in the head. He was 41, a handsome man in his prime, married with two young daughters. Dave had won many awards in his field and was a true superstar, considered an idol by many. He was last seen chatting amiably with a friend hours before he ended his life.

We all think of it at one time or another, or maybe not all of us, just the most sensitive among us. But what pushes someone over the edge when they have, or seem to have, everything? Surely there must have been a pressing problem. Otherwise, why? I am bereft. I don't get it. There must be more.

Perhaps all it would have taken to change his mind (and the lives of his children) was a kind word from a stranger. You just never know what power you wield.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

FILM REVIEW: Anomalisa

If you want to see teeny puppets having sex, here's your chance.
Watching Anomalisa, a sad, slow, strange movie starring puppets playing people, and not very likable people at that, one can only conclude that director Charlie Kaufman must be off his meds again. Don't get me wrong; the man is a genius. I am a huge fan of his other films (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) and may be the only person alive who loved Synecdoche, New York enough to see it twice. But his latest offering is bleak, and except for an excruciatingly explicit puppet sex scene that gets you wondering about the technology of how it was done, has little reward.

The tale begins with a successful author and motivational speaker flying to Cincinnati to give a speech. Despite a wife and son back home, his life is desperate and empty. Once there, he has an affair with one of the conference attendees. All is blah for him until he meets her, a special woman who seems different from everyone else. This may be because she is different, being the only one with a female voice; all the other characters, regardless of gender, sound like the same man. (That's because they are all voiced by the same actor.) They also all have the same perfect puppet faces, but hers is different: she has a flaw, which our hero sees as beautiful.

Sadly, just like in real life, great sex, or even great love, turns out not to be the solution to anything. What our hero really needs is a month at a Buddhist retreat or perhaps a gym membership. He is clearly in need of a reason to live and/or some serotonin.  Skip this one unless your middle name is Sundance  and you love esoteric movies that have little to do with entertainment and a lot to do with brooding intellectualism.

Flying Solo

Oops, there goes Icarus.....
With all due respect and sincere sympathy for those who have no choice, I am sick of using crutches. I think I'll try flying solo just to see if I can, or if I'll go crashing into the sea like Icarus when he flew too close to the sun, melting his wax wings. Of course all that was just so much Greek mythology, and I'm not really planning to attempt flight. But it would be nice to think I can actually live my life without dependency on doctors or medications or healers of any sort, and instead use the power of my own mind and faith in my positive choices to deliver my salvation.

What's got me thinking this way is the sudden and difficult decision to discontinue my weekly acupuncture treatments. After all, I've been going for eight months and while certain aspects of my health have greatly improved, my underlying hope is that the reason I feel better is because  healthy behaviors like eating well, exercising frequently,  practicing meditation and repetition of a mantra have worked their magic, which is really not magic at all.

Like most people who fear going it alone, which is all of us, in the past I have used many other crutches, most notably Berger's cookies ( and smoking marijuana, sometimes at the same time. Those stopped working for me long ago, and in fact may have caused that buildup of negative "qi" those acupuncture treatments released. (Sounds nutty, I know, but not any nuttier than Donald Trump leading in the polls or Hillary Clinton being on the cusp of the presidency.) We all know people whose crutches, be it alcohol, common drugstore sleep aids and painkillers, and even plain old caffeine, have caused impairments worse than whatever they got the crutches for in the first place.

As for Icarus -- his father warned him but he did it anyway, allegedly out of hubris. I had to look that word up and learned that it "indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence,
accomplishments or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power." Clearly that's not my problem.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Hollywood on the Potomac?

The word on the street is that Hillary "They Weren't Classified When I Read Them" Clinton won Iowa by a coin toss (or two or ten) and Donald "We're Gonna Build a Wall" Trump lost by a hair to someone even creepier than he is, which is actually quite a feat. The fact is, our next president will be a blowhard that the majority of people don't want or, in some cases, can't stomach. But then, I think we can all agree that politicians as a group are pretty obnoxious, far less desirable than the following Hollywood actors who have portrayed them in the past. Imagine if we could vote for one of them! Who would you choose?

Anthony Hopkins
Harrison Ford
Bill Pullman
Patty Duke
Kevin Kline
Martin Sheen
Andy Garcia
Daniel Day Lewis
Jeff Daniels
Alfre Woodard
Hal Holbrook
Michael Keaton
Kelsey Grammar
James Brolin
John Lithgow
Morgan Freeman
Jason Robards
Bryan Cranston
John Cusack
Henry Fonda
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Kevin Spacey
Beau Bridges
Dennis Quaid
Keith Carradine
Geena Davis

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Try Not to Think of Ted Cruz

For every one of us, waking up each morning is a miracle to be cherished for as long as possible; hopefully all day long. Too often it is almost immediately downgraded by hearing about, and then thinking about, how much better other people have it. (The fact that Ted Cruz won in Iowa does not help.) That's pretty much what life in America is all about, what with striving the number one activity in our culture, followed closely by broadcasting how great things are going for you. 

The surest way to feel bad about yourself is by comparing yourself to others. Thoughts like,"This one is prettier, that one married better, the other one still has all her teeth and a publisher" are never helpful, leading only to negative conclusions about the state of one's own looks, marriage or dental situation, not to mention the likelihood of your latest novel ever seeing the light of day.

A healthier approach is to take stock of what's good and true about your own life and revel in it. It's a difficult task but it can be done. Walking outside, looking at the sky and listening to the birds is a good start. The addition of a cup of steaming coffee can not be overestimated.

Monday, February 1, 2016

What Would Buddha Say?

Not only do I not know what the heck I'm doing most of the time, but I have even less of an understanding of what others are doing in this life. So many things that I see others do have me shaking my head in disbelief. Following are two examples just from the last few hours.

A column in today's Wall Street Journal touts the recent invention of "food in a pill." The author begins by bemoaning the fact that he is so busy he has no time to eat. He then goes on to write a mildly interesting (but certainly not Pulitzer-prize-winning) 800 words about a product called Soylent which delivers 400 calories in a drab-tasting, milky liquid that he can gulp in seconds and get all the necessary nutrients to fuel his oh-so-hectic life without bothering with that messy business called cooking. He quotes several people, other professional city folk with very busy lives like his, who drink Soylent for breakfast and lunch daily, saving countless hours they then can use to make more money.

A video posted on Facebook by a woman with multiple sclerosis shows her lying on a couch experiencing one of her body-ravaging seizures, just so we'd all know how terrible her disease is for her. This got me wondering if I should make a similar video of myself sitting on the toilet suffering a serious bout of constipation caused by my blood pressure medications. (I decided against it.)

At times like these my mantra comes in very handy.