Thursday, February 26, 2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Santa Claus God

I remember my youngest son was about 5 years old when he came to me and asked point blank, "Is there a Santa Clause? A real Santa Claus?" 
We were able to hold off on answering that question for his brother till he was older, but the second born grows up in the accelerated class. 
I repeated the same story that seemed to work on his older brother.

"You know, Santa is like the spirit of Christmas.  He is the symbol of the giving nature of Christmas. Just like the Kool Aide man who bursts through the walls in those TV ads; that animated drink pitcher is to Kool Aide as Santa is to Christmas." 
No visible reaction on his part. I continue with my revelation, "You know you can't really see spirit with your eyes so we sometimes invent pictures that symbolize the essence of what spirit is." 

In the few seconds of silence that followed I could tell my son was not buying this explanation.  He turned his head to look at me more directly through his left eye, and said, 
"Is there a man with a white beard wearing a red suit that actually comes down our chimney on Christmas Eve every year?" 
There was no other way to answer that question. 
My five year old son wasn't questioning the idea of Christmas nor the Christmas spirit of giving, he just wanted to know if there was really an unshaven, over weight guy in a funny red uniform delivering packages through the chimney? 

For me there is a lesson in that experience. It becomes a metaphor to Life's other conceptual struggles.

(Me) My inner self asked (I) my conscious self  "Is there a God? A real God?" Everyone comes to that point in their growth and maturity, when we ask ourselves if God is real. We have been told stories about God. We have been shown images of God, there are books on God. Good things were said to be delivered by God, but what is my individual adult opinion of who or what God means to me. I ask the question of myself. There is no answer immediately. I continue with my revelation, "God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, All Life, Truth, Intelligence,
I turn my inner head to look at me more directly through my right-eye and say,
"Is there an old guy up in the clouds with a long white beard wearing a long white robe with thunder bolts from his finger tips? He blesses some and judges others according to a strict set of rules?"
Any anthropomorphism of God inverts creation. No human concept of God can be true.  We exist in the image of God not God in the image of us. 
If God doesn't have any human physical qualities nor any human emotional qualities in what "image" are we made the same? The capacity to conceive of conscious existence, that is the Image and Likeness of God.  To know that we know, I am that I am.  It could be religion is as simple as that. What we call Mankind is the point at which Omniscience becomes aware if ITS self.  God can not exist without mankind any more than Knowledge can exist without knowing. A consciousness that does not know of its own existence can not exist as consciousness.  
Religion defined is: an organized collection of beliefs and cultural systems. So past the idea of I AM, the point at which knowledge knows itself, the rest of religion is just costumes, clubhouses, rules and exclusivity. Can't we all just let everybody celebrate this consciousness in any way they want to? We need to find our own salvation and stop trying to "save" everyone else from theirs.  
The only thing that I am certain of is this: God would never encourage, condone, require or accept violence and killing as a franchise to any reward, here or hereafter. 
Stepping every so quietly off this very short box I am standing on.  Deep Breath... explain what that was all about...

I just keep hearing the term Holy War or War against Religion it seems like such an oxymoron.  God on the side of War... any side,  of any War? It's impossible. 
All for now.
As you were,

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Glowing Faces.....

I have been under voluntary house arrest for the last week.  I think I have another week to go before I am able to socialize in public again.  Currently my look will scare small children and cause Grandmother types to say, "God bless you". I am what they call in the film business, "Not camera ready."   I look like I fell face first into a camp fire and passed out for awhile.
Some of the joys growing up a fair skinned red headed kid in Texas was the clear sky and hot summers. I don't think I went through a summer without at least one major sunburn. There was no such thing as "sunblock" only "sun tan lotion" which was meant to increase the effect the sun had on your skin.  Who knew?  We thought all that vitamin D was a really good thing.
Well, half a century later... (don't do the age math... every one's age is just a google away)  I am having to rethink my sun exposure.  In my mature years I have made regular trips to the dermatologist to get "sun spots" frozen off my face. The dermatologist has a really fancy name for them. He calls them: Actinic keratoses (AKs) which are rough-textured, dry, scaly patches on the skin that can lead to skin cancer. It is important to treat AKs because there is no way to tell when or which lesions will progress to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the second most common form of skin cancer.  Well that is scary enough for me to continue to be vigilant about these little buggers. 
So I have a new doctor who suggested we do a Blu U treatment for these Actinic keratoses. He said, that he would continue to freeze them off as they became apparent but this treatment would stop them from developing. He pitched it by saying that it would find all the AK's that have not even shown up yet and destroy them.  It was a simple treatment with a special light.  "It only takes 14 minutes..." he said.  "It will feel like you got a bad sunburn."
I was well aware of what a sunburn felt like.  I lived through many as a child. If the treatment did some good, What the heck, I could live through one more. So, last Thursday we did the treatment.  He was right, after they plastered my face with some sort of gel it only took 14 minutes.  14 minutes of almost intollerable pain, which has become less intense over the last few days but still a "happy" reminder. I wouldn't say this felt like a "sunburn" as the Dr. pitched, I would say it feels more like I washed my face with run off water from the Fukushima nuclear reactor. My face looks like the first step in making a pizza and it feels like the PinHead character from the Hellraiser movies.  
We had some friends over for the Academy Awards who said my face was glowing in the darkened room.  I said , well it just looks like I got a bad sunburn... They said, "Oh no.... it looks like a bomb went off in front of your face."  My friends have a way of always making me feel great about myself.  
So... While the southern and eastern parts of the country are growing cabin feverish from the snow and cold, I am getting cabin fever from self imposed exile from humanity.  
They tell me that the super redness will fade and just the red spots of "potential death" with hang around for a few days. When that phase starts I think I will wear my Mickey Mouse ears and tell everyone I got the Disneyland measles.  
So, although the snowbound East coast is not thinking that way right now, I have just one word of advice to all..... sunscreen.
As you were,


Nancy.... "And really that's why I'm here"

Sunday, February 22, 2015


Emphasis added. Not meant to be taken in that way. Nothing wrong with any definition of the word or current usage there of.
As  you were,

Friday, February 20, 2015

The cell phone.

I had an essay on the ridiculous quest the Texas courts are going though to nullify the marriage of a lesbian couple.  First gay marriage in the Lone Star State of Texas.  The couple has been together for 31 years and although Texas recognizes Common law marriages they do not recognize a same sex relationship of any duration.
I had some lucid facts and personal outrage about the situation in my home state.  However, when I went to fact check one of my statements the blogger app on my iPad erased the 500 words.  Rather than rewrite,  I took it as a sign not to express that outrage today.  I'm sure I will get back to it at a later day.  
Just know that marriage has nothing to do with morals, religion or morality.  It is a specific definition of a couple that facilitates the legal transfer of property and possessions.  It is not a religious union although religion has co-opted the idea for it's own reasons.  And for whatever reasons, religion is on the side of banning this form of love.  If homosexuality was such a huge sin, wouldn't it have been mentioned, even in vague terms in the Ten Commandments? There are commandments condemning murder, lying and also lust and adultery of another man's wife.  I don't believe it says anything about the other guys husband.  That is the cliff's notes about the missive, but no more. 

But... instead a joke from Jim McGeorge.
Two guys have finished a round of golf and walk into the locker room.  A cell phone rings and one of the guys picks it up. The conversation goes like this:
"Hello... you are where? Shopping in Beverly Hills? (pause) well how much do they cost? (pause) 10 thousand.. apiece? (pause) Well go ahead a buy both....(pause) sure why not (pause) What about the house? (pause) An offer? but it isn't for sale (pause) spontaneous buyer?  (pause)  he offered what? (pause) Isn't that less than we could get from a listing? (pause) Well, bird in hand I say, accept the offer, we can find a better place to live.  (pause) Sean wants us to co-sign a 80 thousand dollar loan so he can buy a Tesla?  (pause) You're only 18 once... tell him to get the car in whatever color he likes. (pause)  What about Joanie? (pause) a facial tattoo of what?  (pause)  A facial tattoo of Hello Kitty? Well if Sean is getting a car I guess his 14 year old sister can get a tattoo... tell her it is okay by me.  (pause)  You too honey... nice talking to you... Glad I could help.
The man clicks the phone off and sets it on the locker bench and says, "Hey, does anybody know who's cell phone this is?

As you were,

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Monday, February 16, 2015

Asylum Inmate Scream

With new technology comes new problems. Unexpected things you can't plan for because they have never existed before.
I have to admit that the iPod did not seem like a very revolutionary idea when I first heard about it.  MP3 Music? What the heck did it mean?  It was just another way for me to buy the same music on a different format.

Act 1 - The Set up:
I had already invested in several ancient platforms.I went from  45rpm singles to Vinyl Albums to 8 track tape, cassette tape then CD. Each one of these formats required a different playing machine.  I went from a transistor radio to a Walk Man to a portable CD player to a mini disc player all to accommodate the new form of music.  Just when I had updated all the music I liked, suddenly there is a new thing called mp3 and a new player to buy.

It was a very good innovation.  Lots of music in tiny storage units.  Your entire music library in a portable format. Now I just take it for granted that I always have my music with me on my smart phone no matter when I want to listen.  Not just the  few CDs or cassettes that could be carried, but basically all  the music of every type available to me instantly. And not only that but I have a great recording device along with the music so I can even capture unique sounds/songs of my own to enjoy.  That's the new technology! How could that cause any incomprehensible issues?  Let's see.

At issue first is my varied taste in the "music" I like.  I make a living with sound so I have an interest in all kinds of sound. It is amazing to me how many people do not know the difference between sound and noise.  It is simple... when I am doing it, it is a sound experiment, when you are doing the same sound, it is noise.

In the music area I have everything from Mozart to Moby and jazz to jitterbug. And I have a lot of spoken word in my music library. Lectures, routines, voice exercises, chants, nature sounds to relax, podcasts, to name a few.  In addition to actual music and speeches I have apps that just make sound.  I have a Therimin, a tone generator, a sound effects board and a piano all on my iPhone.  Okay so we know that all this "sound" is stored in a Forrest of 1's and 0's in digi-world. What could go wrong?

Act 2 - The Problem:
One of our dearest friends remarried this last weekend on Valentines Day.  It was a great wedding/party with long time friends, dancing, laughing, drinking and celebrating. Did I mention drinking? Festivities consumed most of the time from Friday evening to Sunday morning.  The rest of Sunday was spent regretting a romantic notion that Champagne and Vodka taken in mass quantities have no effect the morning after.
In this state of mind I realized the need to meditate.  I have several different tracks of music for the very condition I was in.  The one I chose was "AWAKENING the LOTUS" which is a series of chants and chimes designed to find the center of your ID.
Because all the tracks are stored digitally they can be listed many ways.  One can list the music by playlist, artist, songs, genera, or even alphabetical.  The list to the left is a screen capture of my music listed alphabetically.  You will notice right away that the track I need to calm myself is second.
It took me a minute or two to find and turn on my bluetooth headset.  Then it took another few moments to settle into my lotus position. Finally I hit play and suddenly there is an insane inmate screaming in my hung over ears that defies description. Just above the track I want is a track called "Asylum Inmate Scream". That is a sound effects track that's just what is says it is.  A very loud blood curdling scream recorded in HD stereo for maximum scary effect.   As my heart began to return to a normal rhythm, I began the calming process again. This time making sure that I chose the right track before hitting play.
It was exactly the calming presence that I needed.  It was nirvana as I visualized cases of Champagne floating gently down the river of life and away from my aching head.  I was at peace, relaxed, refreshed and focused on the gentle calming goodness of life.  On the last inhalation of my deep breath a buzzer goes off with the volume of an all stars exhibition game and the timber of being sealed inside a cheap tin can.
The third track immediately following AWAKENING of the.....  (in alphabetical order) is:  Basketball Indoors Bu.....  I reads completely  Basketball Indoors BUZZER - Loud.  Only in this alphabetical list would the calming Lotus training of chants end with a BUZZER - Loud.
And only in the digital form could these tracks ever be instantly listed together.

List your songs by album or artist, or even genera; never list them by songs if you are trying to chase away an evening of fun.
As you were,

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday 13th? Lucky or Unlucky?

It was Friday 13, October 1307 when Phillip IV of France raided the Knights Templars organization and arrested them for conspiracy against the Crown. It has always been touted as the end of that mysterious and iconic group of Knights.  In truth not more than a dozen Templars were arrested, most vanished without a trace, along with the cashe of gold and jewels they were known to pocess.  
Since that time we have considered Friday 13th of any year and any month to be bad luck.  I'm not sure why because it would seem to be the day that the Knights Templar got away. Rumors that the organization went "underground" and morphed into a world dominate force began that day in history. Nonetheless all of that is buried in superstition and mystery.  The word for fear of Friday 13th is Triskadeckaphobia, although technically it would be the fear of the number 13.  
So here is a thought. Given that Valentines Day is for lovers and happiness, and Friday 13th is a day of fear and bad luck, "HOW OFTEN DOES FRIDAY 13th FALL ON VALENTINES DAY?"  (Answer later in this blog)
What happend to the Templars is the speculation of many stories.  The one that seems to make sense to me is that they ended up in Switzerland.  For all that the Templars were supposed to be the one thing they did was create a banking system.  Pilgrams making a journey to the Holy Lands in the days of the Templars were routinely robbed of the money they traveled with. The Knights Templar decicated themselves to the protection of Christian pilgrams traveling to the Holy Land.  They established a bank for the travelers.  Instead of carrying all their money during the journey, the pilgrams would "deposit" their money with the Knights Templar, and get it back when they reached the Holy Land.  This way all the pilgrams had to carry with them was a piece of paper given to them by the Knights.  The Templars devised a syphor or code that only they could read. It could only be interpreted by other Templars stating how much money the pilgram had deposited. Of course some pilgrams never returned, some lost the paper stating their deposits, so the unclaimed money became the possession of the Templars. They soon became very rich with this idea.  
So back to Switzerland. It is just over the Alps from France where the Templars were last known to be. And the 14th century (Templars were arrested/fled France at the beginning of that century) is when according to Wikipedia "With the opening of the Gotthard Pass in the 13th century, the territory of Central Switzerland, primarily the valley of Uri, had gained great strategical importance and was granted Reichsfreiheit by the Hohenstaufen emperors. This became the nucleus of the Swiss Confederacy, which during the 1330s to 1350s grew to incorporate its core of "eight cantons". 
Besides the fine craftmanship of their time pieces Switzerland is most known for its banking system. Even during wars they have remainded nuetral as "holders of the world's purse".  It sounds like a very Templaresque idea.  But the most compelling thing to me is the Flag of Switzerland and the Flag of the Knights Templar. 
It is simple and immediately recognizable and came into use in the 14 century just about the time the Knights Templar (medival bankers) vanished from France.  To me the Swizz flag is very much like the Crest and Flag that the Knights Templars used.  One is an equalateral white cross on a red field, the other is an equalateral red cross on a white field.  The old addage goes, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck... well you know the rest. 
It would seem to me that the Knights Templar simply crossed the Alps after excaping the clutches of hostle government to form their own country with the money they brought with them. They established their own government which would be more friendly to their banking business. As a final syphor or code they kept the coat of arms that had made them famous similar enough to let the learned know. 
Oh...Valentines Day will never fall on a Friday 13th because it is always February 14th. I'll bet I did not fool you with that one.
As you were,

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Fear just around the Corner?

There is a theory that every ill, discomfort and disease has its root in Fear. Certainly we understand how stress causes physical and mental problems, and stress can be symptom of fear. No matter how much we think fear contributes to our problems we can surely benefit by understanding this emotion. 
Fear exists for the survival of the animal part of us. It is attached to the "fight or flight" mechanism that pumps adrenalin into our systems giving us a quick turbo charge to either fight an opponent or get away from danger.  This mechanism can do some amazing things. There are cases of people lifting cars off of a trapped loved one at the scene of a traffic accident.  Some amazingly athletic accomplishments have been done when the body is forced into survival mode.
But no physical body was meant to be in a continuous state of "fight or flight". If the body pumps this super juice into our systems all the time we will in effect burn up. It's like burning the candle at both ends, and although it would make a lovely light it would not last long. 
The chemicals that the body produces reacting to fear are designed for short term application. If they are constantly being fed to the body they will have detrimental effects. The point is: no physical body was designed to exist in a constant state of fear. That seems obvious, but in this complex world we are exposed to more fear than in times past and it is harder not to live some state of constant fear. We call it by different names like, worry, stress and anxiety, but it is all a state of fear. When we live in a state of worry we are slowly poisoning ourselves with a natural chemical that was created to save our lives in an emergency. The ironic thing is we think that we are "planning ahead" by worrying  when physically the opposite is happening.  Media driven stories perpetuate fear, fear gets your attention and the media is not there for your health, they sell "attention". 
Eckhart Tolle says that to live in peace and harmony we have to live without worry. When someone asked "How can this be? Most everyone has to worry about paying the rent or mortgage or bills that come due."  His answer was, "No you don't. No one has to worry about bills, you have to pay them, but you do not have to worry about them."  At first it sounds like a riddle of an answer, but he is totally right. Worry, stress and anxiety are not part of the actual event they are only the fear of anticipation of the event. 
Recently I heard an acronym for FEAR, Future Events Appearing Real. I have also heard it said FEAR stands for Former Events Appearing Real, in either interpretation the truth is: fear is never an element of the Now.  Fear is the worry that something is "going to" happen or something is "going to happen again" which might be unpleasant, painful or threatening.  One can not fear that which is happening NOW. Because fear is not a quality of the present moment.  One can certainly be fearful right now but it is fear of that which is "going" to happen not that which is actually happening. Fear is a poisonous place holder for other emotions. 
Say you are driving and you suddenly see a car coming right toward you. You immediately become full of fear that the car is going to smash into you. There may be damage or injury or worse. That fear is not about what is happening but what you assume "might" happen. At the last minute the car turns and there is no accident. You no longer feel fear, you will be filled with some other emotion like relief or surprise, even gratitude... but not fear.  
Suppose the car does hit you, at that very moment you will not be in fear, you might be in pain, might be angry, some other immediate emotion, but not fear.  Suppose you are injured severely?  There is blood everywhere, the car is a twisted mess, that would be a current fear, right? Not even that would be fear of the now. It would be fear that you will bleed to death, fear you will be crippled, fear of what the future holds but not fear of what is happening now.  
What generates the empathy of fear at a scary movie?  Our hero is not safe.  There is a monster, a killer, a giant ape or disaster right around the corner that is about to get our favorite character.  Or our hero is in a situation that he can not possibly get out of, the fear is "what is going to happen next?" We tend to close our eyes in fear before the event on the screen happens.  Why? Because it isn't happening now, but it is going to happen.  Will he get away, will he survive, will he make it out of the cave before the giant rolling bolder smashes him to bits.  The "Will he" generates the fear. I no longer fear when the hero is smashed or eaten, I immediately replace fear with another emotion. 
Movies accent the fear (future events appearing real) with anticipation.  Creepy music, dark corners, close up shots, eyes widening, the actress sees something that we don't see.  OMG what is about to happen.? Why is it that monster movies rarely show the monster until much later in the story.  Because once you see the monster, the fear of anticipation is gone.   
Consider the classic movie Jaws.  We don't actually see this giant shark until near the end of the movie, but we are given plenty to fear about his arrival.  First there is a girl swimming in the ocean.  All we see is her silhouette from below, she jerks while being pulled at then there is a scream and blood in the water.  Then there is a rustling of the water near some kids, then that ominous fin skimming the water, then they shoot him with floatation barrels. Now we fear the barrels as they chase the boat on the surface. It is one of the most brilliant examples of staging the anticipate of an event to garner the most fear. It was not accidental. It was cleverly calculated by a master story teller. 
Ram Dass coined the phrase "Be Here Now" in the drug fueled love generation of the 60's. It was embraced by some but dismissed by others as just another example of hippie jingoism. But to avoid the detrimental effects of fear, like worry, anxiety and stress,  being totally in the present moment is the best antidote.  Perhaps Ram Dass was just paraphrasing for a new generation what was said by another great teacher, "Fear not neither let them be afraid." 
The truth will always be the truth, but we hear it anew every time it is repeated in a different generation.
Deal with reality in the moment of Now and don't let fear drag you to the past nor into "the not yet happened future."
As you were,

Friday, February 06, 2015

A Thousand Words

I like to write and I also like to draw. Done right each takes time from the day. Some days you have to choose which passion is pressing hardest to get out. From the length and depth of this post it will be obvious which passion won today. 
One of my favorite games is to wake up in the morning and remember that I was drawing late into the night.  I quickly open up my drawing app to see what is there. Sometimes I fall asleep drawing and see the very last wavie line attempted as it wanders off the screen.  
This morning I found this surprise. Don't remember what the thought or motivation was behind the art, but here it is. I offer this for my regular blog post today. Enjoy the weekend and don't waste a moment of your time on earth today.
As you were,

Monday, February 02, 2015

Ground Hog Day

Monday Feb 2, 2015

Once again we celebrate the birthday of my friend Robert Mandan.  This is a new picture I found of him on line from his Daytime Soap Opera performances from the 50's. 

It's GroundHog Day
On my top ten list of movies "GroundHog" day is near the top.   And here it is in real life, Groundhog day 2012.  But I think the Punxsutawney rodent gets too much attention today.  It is a special day for other reasons.

Robert Mandan, Bob Campbell, Jay Johnson, Jay Sandrich
Opening night of "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only"
It is also the birthday of my friend Robert Mandan: "Better Dressed!" 
Only a true SOAPY will get that reference, but it is how I know my friend Mandan. He is better known to some as Chester Tate on SOAP. 

Robert Mandan
I remember when I moved to Los Angeles I was with my vacationing folks having dinner at the  Toulca Lake Marie Callendars. Although I didn't know his name at the time Robert Mandan was also waiting for a table.  Mandan is one of those actors I had seen in many staring roles. Bob was my first "celebrity siting" in my new home town.  Bob received the ultimate compliment my Father had for working actors when he whispered to me, "That guy has been in a gillion films." Indeed my friend has been in a "gillion" things. Take a look at his IMDB - Robert Mandan. That impressive list is only the film and television roles. There is an even more impressive list of stage productions that Bob has done, including an Ovation Award for "The CareTaker" and a critically acclaimed portrail of "King Lear", not to mention three Broadway shows. 
 I had no clue that soon I would be working with that "guy who has done a gillion films". We became friends almost immediately.  For a time we had the same personal manager, the same publicist and hung out with the same group of television actors.  We were known as the "terrible ten" because of fun we used to have at various Los Angeles restaurants. The members of the social group changed but Bob and I have remained friends all this time. 
Bob and his wife Sherry have been impromptu godparents to both my sons.  My oldest son will say, "How is Mandan?" even today.
Robert Mandan in "Barney Miller"
Chester Tate and Benson
Bob is an actors actor.  He never stops studying and learning how to better deliver his gift. He is funny and smart and yes, as piss elegant as Chester Tate sometimes. If you're lucky a working relationship turns into a real friendship in this town of huge openings and quiet closings. I am grateful to have friends like Bob and Sherry in my life. On a day like GroundHogs day when the talk is about the weather, I will be thinking about my friend Bob Mandan, certainly not a "fair weather friend".  
Note to Mandan: You are not getting older, like wine you are getting more valuable.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Mandan. We shall celebrate with a bottle of "HOOP DE HAH".

As you were,
Bob Mandan on "Three's a Crowd"
Bob Mandan on "Star Trek,The Next Generation"

Robert Mandan Movie of the Week