Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tis the Season

The holidays make me think (which is something I do a lot of). What is it about the holidays that bring out the best/worst in people? As a kid, you can't sleep, eat, rest or anything else, because there is stuff under the tree with YOUR name on it!!! Well, to be fair, you can eat...candy, nuts, pies, sugar, etc. They say that the child is full of wonder and sees the good in all things. Yet, if you don't put any presents under the tree with the child's name on it, you'll see how "full of wonder" they are. Like, "I wonder where the !@#$ my booty is?" Well, maybe not exactly like that, but the sentiment is the same. So, here we are, a youngster awaiting the opening of the gifts. Their joy knows no bounds. The adult, on the other hand may have their own Christmas spirit (albeit, from a bottle), but it is spirit nonetheless. Now, let's fast forward to a week later, The kids are exhausted and covered in broken toys, sleeping off their Christmas high. The adults, however, are uncorking the bottle, yet again, as they open their Christmas bills. Its almost like going through withdrawals. You get the anticipation, the high, and the eventual let down. Now you don't have to be a drinker to anesthetize yourself. You can do it through whatever guilty pleasure suits you, be it sugar, caffeine, two day naps, etc. Here's the thing, do we really want to do this to ourselves? I mean, I like getting new stuff as much as the next person. But, is my life really enhanced by this stuff? I guess it depends on what it is. I'm not suggesting that we stop with the gifts. All I'm saying is that there should be limits. Maybe there should be more traditions and rituals to offset the money drainage. The bottom line is, is it worth it? Some people suggest that we live every day as if it were Christmas eve. Is that even possible?  I look at it this way, the lows (and yes they are inevitable) make the highs that much better. We learn from contrast. If everyday was a euphoric field of happiness, would we be getting all that life has to offer? I try to appreciate each and every day. I attempt to "stop and smell the roses" so to speak. I take note of something, no matter how insignificant, to appreciate. When the lows hit, I try to see them as a formidable opponent. Not something to fear, but something to overcome. I see it for what it is: LIFE. So, for 2011, I, for one, shall attempt to walk through the forest of life with perspective. See it from a higher point of view, like a river. You can stay stuck in the sandbar, or you can take flight and see the whole river. You can see the beauty of it and how it flows on and on. You can savor the scenery before you reach the end of the river and traverse a whole new world. Merry Christmas, Happy Life Day (which is every day)!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

While I Was Out.

As I've been busy doing "very productive" things, a prominent blogger has recommended three books for the holiday gift giving season. Over here.   I am a contributor in book #1, so, if you have an inclination, check it out. Or, for that matter, check all three. Passing along the written word is a wonderful tradition. Expanding one's mind is about the single most important thing you can do. We are all trying to get through this thing called life, just like everyone else. The key is to evolve in a positive way. Remember, you don't drown by falling in the water, you drown by staying there. They say we all have friends on the "other side" who are whispering in our ears from time to time. Stop and take time to listen. Even if you don't believe in an after life, you can surely believe in your own intuition. It is that inner spark which tells us we are doing something right (or wrong). It continually guides us along our path. It is connected to our emotional guidance system which tells us if the advice fits. You know, the feeling we have which tells us if something makes sense, no matter how bold or not, it might be. It lets you know if the voices in your head are good or misguided. If we take time out, even if only for a few minutes, to reconnect, we can nurture our inner spirit. Meditation doesn't have to be ritualistic. Just take some deep breaths, let them out slowly and close your eyes. Let your imagination do as it will. You may see some strange things and maybe, like a puzzle, some things just might make a bit of sense. Here's to sitting down occasionally on the park bench of life and taking a breather. Then, when you start traversing you life's path, once again, it might seem just a bit nicer.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Reading for October

Ray Bradbury first published the short story, the Homecoming, in Mademoiselle magazine in 1946. It was about an Elliott family reunion in Illinois. The Elliott family happen to be vampires. They were an unusual family who lived in a dark, Gothic Victorian house. This fictional family became the inspiration for Charles Addams creation, the Addams family.Author Neil Gaiman credited this tale as one of the stories that inspired him to take up writing.
 Since I am an Elliott, I find the story intriguing.I was brought up watching the Addams family and the Munsters on television. In fact, my siblings and I seemed to be able to relate to these weird, yet loving families who were different by all of society's norms. We, too, felt as if society saw us as "strange". At the same time, we saw this as a good thing. We loved being the "black sheep" who loved monsters and unusual books and movies. Maybe we used our unique outlook to life as coping mechanisms. Maybe we had an artist mentality. It was probably a little of both. Yet, we were different in a good way. It became who we were.
     Bradbury seemed to be coming from the same type of mentality. He saw the world from an artistic, yet darker slant. Bradbury had an intelligent imagination. He could not only see the world in different ways, he could make the reader see it too.
     Bradbury came from Waukegan Illinois which he immortalized in a poem.  
Byzantium I come not from….
As boy
I dropped me forth in Illinois.
A name with neither love nor grace
Was Waukegan, there I came from
And not, good friends, Byzantium….
Pretending there beneath our sky
That it was Aphrodite’s thigh….

And uncles, gathered with their smokes
Emitted wisdoms masked as jokes,
And aunts as wise as Delphic maids
Dispensed prophetic lemonades
To boys knelt there as acolytes
To Grecian porch on summer nights
When he was young and had recently moved to California, Bradbury was introduced to the existence
of the “Science Fiction Society,” a local group where he met
Robert Heinlein and other writers, both established and
aspiring.  Heinlein helped Bradbury publish an early story, and
by the early 1940s the boy from Waukegan was selling material
regularly to pulp fiction periodicals.

Almost from the start, Bradbury aspired to something higher
than the formulas of genre fiction.  When his story Homecoming was turned down by Weird Tales, Bradbury
published it instead in Mademoiselle, where it was championed by
Truman Capote.  Soon afterwards, it was chosen for inclusion in
The O Henry Prize Stories of 1947.  Around this same time,
Bradbury’s work was accepted by Harper’s and The New Yorker.   
By the early 1950s, when he began publishing the novels and
short story collections for which he is best known—including
The Martian Chronicles (1950), The Illustrated Man (1951), Fahrenheit
451 (1953)—Ray Bradbury had evolved into a fantasy writer, evolving into a Science Fiction author. He had the wit of a poet and the flair of an actor who could immerse himself in the tale as if he were living it. 
Looking at his classic works, one could see how unique his slant was on reality.   Take, for example, a  passage from The Martian Chronicles.  Here any other science fiction writer of
Bradbury’s generation would have written: “The rocket ship
landed.”  Instead, this is what we get with Bradbury:

    The ship came down from space.  It came from the stars and the black velocities, and the shining movements, and the silent gulfs of space.  It was a new ship; it had fire in its body and men in its metal cells, and it moved with a clean silence, fiery and warm . . . It was a thing of beauty and strength.  It had moved in the midnight waters of space like a pale sea leviathan; it had passed the ancient moon and thrown itself onward into one nothingness following another.  (from The Martian Chronicles)

    Science did not prevail in Bradbury's Sci-fi tales. He chose to envelope the reader into another world without the nuances of technicalities.He used interpersonal relationships between the characters and their environment. He chose to delve into the underlying human and political aspects of the tale. He used common dilemmas society faced and placed them delicately into a science fiction setting.In the book Dandelion Wine, he takes the idea of a boy wanting a pair of "tennis shoes" or sneakers and makes it a wonderful thing. Here is an excerpt:

Somehow the people who made tennis shoes
knew what boys needed and wanted.  They
put marshmallows and coiled springs in the
soles and they wove the rest out of grasses
bleached and fired in the wilderness.  
Somewhere deep in the soft loam of the
shoes the thin hard sinews of the buck deer
were hidden.  The people that made the shoes
must have watched a lot of winds blow the
trees and a lot of rivers going down to the
lake. Whatever it was, it was in the shoes,
and it was summer
     When I was in high school, I was fortunate to have been offered a class in science fiction. In this class we read and discussed science fiction books. From Bradbury to Asimov, the class was propelled into a fantasy world that faced issues that were not so different to what we faced in our world. The wonderful twists of fate and ultimate ethical questions sparked my young mind. Bradbury deserves our gratitude. He gave us a way to escape the mundane while offering us an alternative view of the world in which we live. He presents us with thought provoking ideas and ideologies which, ultimately, give birth to our limitless imaginations. It is a gift we all have. How we use it is up to us.
     While your on the computer, go check out 'B.C. Brown Writes, where I am interviewed


    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Banned Books Week

       It is, once again, Banned Books Week. Stand up for the freedom of information and speech. Here is the place to go to in order to see what is currently being challenged in the U.S. 
    Let us remember the wonderful books that were once banned or currently challenged. Education is a wonderful thing as long as the young minds have access to all types of subjects. Obviously, anything that might be a directive for specific harm should be monitored, but generally that is a gray subject. Also, if a book is being touted as non-fiction when it is actually fiction, then it must be brought to light. The debate on what is acceptable and what is not could go on forever. It is important to keep in mind that, just because you disagree with something, doesn't necessarily make it bad. It is just like the parents who refused to let their children listen to a speech on the value of education by President Obama. It is sad when parents withhold information just because they don't agree with the person delivering it or the subject for that matter. They may hide topics they oppose. Eventually, the child will grow up and be exposed to this information. Wouldn't it be better to open a dialogue on the  topic so your offspring can be fully informed enough to make up their own mind? A well informed student will become a well informed adult. Educational balance is very important for intelligent, functioning adults. Our leaders need to know about the world they live in....every sordid detail.
    Here is a very short list of formerly or currently banned books. 
    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
    A Wrinkle in Time
    by Madeleine L'Engle
    Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carrol
    Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
    As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
    Blubber by Judy Blume
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
    Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
    Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
    Carrie by Stephen King
    Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
    Christine by Stephen King
    Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    Cujo by Stephen King
    Curses, Hexes, and Spells by Daniel Cohen
    Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
    Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
    Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
    Decameron by Boccaccio
    East of Eden by John Steinbeck
    Fallen Angels by Walter Myers
    Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) by John Cleland
    Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
    Forever by Judy Blume
    Grendel by John Champlin Gardner
    Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
    Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
    Have to Go by Robert Munsch
    Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
    How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
    Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
    Impressions edited by Jack Booth
    In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
    It's Okay if You Don't Love Me by Norma Klein
    James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
    Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
    Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
    Little Red Riding Hood by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
    Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    Love is One of the Choices by Norma Klein
    Lysistrata by Aristophanes
    More Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
    My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
    My House by Nikki Giovanni
    My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara
    Night Chills by Dean Koontz
    Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
    One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
    One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    Ordinary People by Judith Guest
    Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women's Health Collective
    Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
    Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
    Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones by Alvin Schwartz
    Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
    Separate Peace by John Knowles
    Silas Marner by George Eliot
    Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
    Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
    The Bastard by John Jakes
    The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
    The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
    The Color Purple by Alice Walker
    The Devil's Alternative by Frederick Forsyth
    The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs
    The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
    The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
    The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Snyder
    The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks
    The Living Bible by William C. Bower
    The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
    The New Teenage Body Book by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibbelsman
    The Pigman by Paul Zindel
    The Seduction of Peter S. by Lawrence Sanders
    The Shining by Stephen King
    The Witches by Roald Dahl
    The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Snyder
    Then Again, Maybe I Won't by Judy Blume
    To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
    Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff
    Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols by Edna Barth 

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Seeing the World Anew

         Many people walk through life unaware. They go through the routine, they complain, eat, sleep, work and relax. Routine is a comfort to many people. Vacations, a nice respite, can have an undertone of anxiety. People will worry about money, accidents or any number of problems that can interrupt routine. Putting your energy into what you don't want, only gives it power over you. Many organized religions, corporations and any number of groups will use fear in order to dominate, control or to suppress. Anarchy and chaos would surely destroy civilization, they surmise.
         Now, take a step back and see the world through the eyes of an artist. The artist sees the world through their art.
         The writer will see the world in words. They use words to paint a picture and bring it alive. They create emotional dramas or vignettes of serenity.They will use prose to assist a reader in their visualization of a scene.
         The painter will see the world in color. They will use the canvas as a scene. Using color, or lack of  color, they will fashion a moment in time. A piece of the world as they see it. Color, texture and light combinations can draw the viewer into their world. It can be a realistic depiction of everyday life or a fantasy piece from the artist's imagination.Like the painter, the sketch artist will use their pencil or charcoal as an avenue to recreate a picture from life or imagination. They can use the graphite to form simulated texture and shape.
         The photographer sees the world through the lens of a camera. They will use lighting, color, and filters to generate a snapshot of life. The photographer can use various angles and still life in order to offer new perspectives to a subject.
         The musician will see the world through pitch, frequency and harmony. The composer will evoke an emotional response utilizing instruments and rhythm. The musician can also use lyrics in order to clarify and define the musical piece. Along the same lines, the vocalist will use pitch and tone in order to portray a mood and accompany a melody. The singer may sing a cappella without the aid of instruments. The vocal resonance will consummate the aria on its own merit. 
      The fashion designer is also an artist. Clothes are constructed by design using fabric, buttons,thread, color, texture and anything else the designer fancies. The layout and cut of the cloth is just as important as the cloth itself. Some designs are geometric and plain. Yet, they are important parts of an ensemble. People decide how they want to look. What image do they want to project? People will choose their outfits to fit the occasion. A formal or informal party will dictate the style a person will select.  
       The actor is an artist who transforms the face, hair and voice in order to elicit a mood. A good actor feels the part. The actor becomes one with the scene as if he or she were actually experiencing it. A professional thespian makes it look easy. The viewer will be drawn into the scene as if they were really there. 
         The hairdresser uses the hair as her canvas. Using scissors, color and ingenuity, she fashions the style to portray a person's individuality. Hair is an important part of a person's essence. The stylist plays an essential role in an individual's self confidence. 
       The culinary artist uses the taste buds in order to create a delectable meal. Using a recipe, the cook will combine any number of spices, condiments and foodstuff together to make a culinary masterpiece. There is a difference between eating to live and living to eat. Savoring a great meal is a wonderful way to unwind after a hard day. The chef, not only uses food, but also compliments the meal with creative beverages. Wine, coffee and deserts are an important part of a well planned cuisine. 
         An architect is also an artist. Look at the classic architecture in Italy, France and Greece. There are many architectural styles of past and present. Some people love the old Gothic styles used during the renaissance (myself included). Some love the modern, Frank Lloyd Wright styles.The architect must combine style with function in order to add to the aesthetics and utilitarian layout of a well planned city. 
         Now, take the filmographer. This person will combine all the creative avenues together. Movies use music, cinematography, artistic set design, costume design and human emotion. The success of a film is dependent on all creative avenues. An actor is only as good as the script. The script cannot stand alone without the successful backdrop and so on. 
        The common denominator that all artists use is the ability to evoke emotion. Using their art, they draw out an emotional response from the audience. If they cannot do this, they are not fully utilizing their art. It does not matter what the emotion is. It could even be apathy. If an individual is sparked  in some way by art, then the art has, at the very least, did its job. Even if you are not a creative person, you can surely appreciate the artist. How boring the world would be without the artist's input. Using our senses, we absorb the world around us. The artist uses the senses in order to make our world a bit more interesting. They make us more aware of the world around and inside us. 
       Here's a wonderful example of how an artist used junk in order to create fascinating shadow art.

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    The Year of Twain

    “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835,” Mark Twain wrote in 1909. “It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.’” With this eerie prediction, Samuel L. Clemens did indeed die in the year of the comet on April 21, 1910. One hundred years later, Mr. Twain's legacy is surfacing again. One of Mark Twain's dying wishes was the publication of his personal, outspoken and revelatory autobiography. He devoted the last ten years of his life writing it. Not wanting to face the readers of this candid, tell-all book, Twain chose to have it locked away for a century. He felt that 100 years was adequate enough time to allow his words to simmer. He, most likely, would have been pleasantly surprised to learn that he is as popular as ever in the next century as he was in the last. His publications have survived social changes and book banning. The world is a different place than it was in Twain's day. Yet, simultaneously, human nature remains as complex and dynamic as ever. Mark Twain had a deep understanding of this.
         The creator of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn  left behind 5,000 unedited pages of memoirs when he died in 1910, together with handwritten notes saying that he did not want them to hit the book stores for at least a century.
       The wait is over, and in November the University of California, Berkeley, where the manuscript is in a vault, will release the first volume of Mark Twain's autobiography. The eventual trilogy will run to half a million words, and shed new light on this uncommon novelist from another time.
      In order to honor Mark Twain, support your local independent bookshop Twain wrote about common folk who made their own adventures, off the beaten path. With the major chain stores, electronic books and the like, the independent shops of all types are being squeezed out.However, it is the locally owned, self-reliant shops that exists for the community. The corporate run stores care about the bottom line, first and foremost. They are motivated by manufacturer kick-backs and popular genres over intelligent, high quality merchandise. The chains are homogenizing the world, one community at a time.Patronizing the local shops is a way of reclaiming individuality and art for the sake of art. The local shop is going up against the corporate giant  armed only with a knowledgeable passion for success. They truly care about what they do. So, keep this in mind when you decide your next purchase. Check out the local shops first and support your community. Ever wonder where a local shop is when traveling? Check this out! If you find a great local shop, you can add it for free!

    Monday, August 23, 2010

    The future of books.

    Electronic books save on paper. Are they really greener?   There is still controversy on this. Trees are a renewable resource. Yet, electronic books do not use up landfills, unless they become unusable. That, of course, would happen at a much slower rate than physical books. At the same time, I cannot envision a world without books. My son loves the "ology" Pirateology, Dragonology, Egyptology, where he can open and discover wonderful pictures and hidden treasures. He and I both enjoy the art of pop-up books. There are some very creative books on the market which combine the written word with art. Would an electronic book truly reproduce the beautiful "table" art books available? I wonder if a future reader would truly appreciate Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night" on a 3 to 7 inch screen? For this purpose I am assuming the screen is in full color. (Currently Amazon's Kindle is not, although it's just a matter of time until it is.)  Imagine, if you will, a city wide blackout. I have experienced this many times. What will you do with an electronic reader once the batteries are exhausted. If you do not have a car where you can recharge it, you cannot read. Even a solar powered reader will lose its charge at night after time. Not everyone will be able to afford an e-reader. What about the poor child whose family cannot provide such a device? Would he be lost without the paper book, which he can borrow from a library? One can only assume that the library will loan out e-readers. Even so, we can refer back to the whole power supply issue.    
         I truly believe that there is a place for both electronic books and paper books. Of course, we need to have paper books for reading. Here's someone who is using books for a house. Electronic books are not going to go away. We might as well accept this. Yet, I am reminded of H.G. Well's story The Time Machine, where the main character goes to the future only to discover the demise of books. He is shocked at the sight of books which crumble to his touch. Then there is Fahrenheit 451 where individuals memorize books in order to preserve them in a world of book destruction. I understand that e-books preserve information. However, they can be erased. They can be unreadable during a power outage when the batteries have died. They cannot be touched, shelved or admired as a creative object. I believe the physical book is an art form which deserves to be preserved. I remember a time when people were aghast at the ideal of vinyl albums disappearing. They said it would never happen. Alas, despite the opposition, it did, indeed happen. There was a time when those in the radio business were convinced that television would never last. Again, it lasted and over took the radio shows of the day. This is the way civilization evolves. Someday, we will no longer have CD's with music. Eventually, all music will be digital only. It seems hard to believe to those who have yet to cross over to the digital music age.  There will always be impoverished individuals who would have no access to technological advances. The physical book can be found in libraries, in second hand shops and be given out to the needy. Technology needs to be maintained, which some people simply cannot do. I truly hope, for the sake of future generations, that civilization leaves room for both types of books.

    Monday, August 16, 2010


         People who constantly have bad luck tend to see things in a different way. They see life as a string of negative experiences. They wear the badge of despair for the whole world to see. Sometimes they even compete with others for "I have it worse than you" scenarios. Then, conversely, there are those who think they are better than others. They compete for "Mine is better than yours" situations. One thing these types of people have in common is the "self-fulfilling prophecy" phenomenon. Their lives will reflect their outlooks. It is rare to see the person who is content, no matter what happens. These people put their focus on what they want instead of what they don't want. These same people will find that life delivers what they put their focus on. They do not compare themselve to others. They just do what makes them happy.
          It has been said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step. I see people who love to begin a sentence with "if only" or "yeah, but". They infer that their dreams are impossible. Then, of course, they are. Then there are those who walk toward their dreams. If they fall down, they get back up and walk again, even if it is in a different direction. They savor the journey and realize their goals. Once realized they create new journeys and new goals. They are happier than those who savor the worst case scenarios. They may even experience similar situations. However, they know it isn't the situation but how you react to it.
         We are all residents on this planet which resides within the Milky Way Galaxy. Standing back and looking at the whole picture can make all the difference in the world. I used to think all of my problems were caused by others or circumstances beyond my control. Now I realize, in hindsight, I was the creator of my life. I made choices that I didn't have to make. I despaired over situations instead of looking for better scenarios. I made my life choices. At the same time, I am a product of those choices. Sometimes it takes something negative in order to help you see something positive. Opposites can teach and can give you perspective. I applaud those who can stand up, brush themselves off, and move on...with a smile on their face. Life doesn't have to be as difficult as we make it out to be. Here's to perspective. Live it, write about it and get to know it.   

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    MirrorMask: “If I Apologized”

    Sometimes a song can put life in perspective. Sometimes a lyric can inspire. I now think of someone, who is gone but not forgotten, when I hear "Blackbird" by the Beatles. I find music relaxing, inspiring, motivating or just plain fun. Different types of music is essential for different types of moods. The music below was written for the movie "Mirrormask". It is reflective, yet hauntingly poetic. The enticing instrumental blend is pleasantly melodic. Although the lyrics might have resonated more with my younger self, it is still evocative. This is a personal observation. Everyone has music that they can respond to, depending on their moods. Music can be a wonderful mood enhancer when life seems a bit oppressive. Many artists use music to create by. Here's to the beautiful melody in all its evocative forms. 

    If I apologized
    it wouldn’t make it all unhappen
    wouldn’t make the darkness go away
    If I apologized
    it wouldn’t mean I was forgiven
    wouldn’t mean you wanted me to stay
    it’s a dream
    when you seem
    to be walking into the sun
    we’re on first
    and we still don’t know what we've done
    so we don’t say anything.
    If I apologized
    I don’t suppose you’d even notice
    even though I’d whisper it inside
    If I apologized
    we could be the perfect couple
    Well we could, but only in my mind
    if you ask
    for the mask
    then we’re stumbling on through the dark
    But we wait
    it’s too late
    And we only had to be asked
    so we don’t say anything.
    It couldn’t hurt to try it
    It couldn’t hurt too much to try
    It’s there beyond the quiet
    it couldn’t hurt too much to fly…

    Here's a link to the song's author discussing it. 
    Here's another link to songs which were inspired by the classics.

    Friday, July 30, 2010

    Choosing Easy World

    Choosing Easy World: A Guide to Opting Out of Struggle and Strife and Living in the Amazing Realm Where Everything is Easy
    The new book, Choosing Easy World by Julia Rogers Hamrick, is about a mindset which people can use to change their world. Ms. Hamrick is a spiritual writer and contributes on the  forum affiliated with the popular "Secret" site . Her latest book outlines the steps needed for people to change the way they think about life. The book also incorporates individual true stories which illustrates how the concept works in reality. I am one of the contributors to this compilation. Since I learned how to change the way I look at my life, my life has changed for the better. It is more than just positive thinking. It is a way of life. It encompasses the thoughts and feelings of ease and optimism. At the same time, when you see things in a new light you become more inspired. Inspiration will lead to inspired action. The book assists individuals in turning their lives around from the inside out. Quantum physicists have known for some time that all atoms consist of energy. This energy is part of the fabric of life. We are all made from it. This includes our thoughts. If we see it all as a living entity, we can understand more clearly how it all connects together. Our life reflects our mind set. For example, it is commonly known that negative people have more health problems. This is why physicians will ask people if they have any worries or issues when diagnosing a health matter. Ulcers, colitis,hypertension are just a few of the health issues which are directly connected to negativity and depression. Choosing Easy World lets the reader understand that life doesn't have to be so hard. We really do have a choice, no matter how bleak things seem. It takes time to allow yourself to really believe that life can be easy, but once you do things start to change.

    Wednesday, June 30, 2010

    Libraries attacked!

    So, the news media has decided that libraries are a waste of money. OR, maybe not, they wonder aloud...
    Yeah, lets save money by shutting down libraries. Why provide literature to the masses? Surely we could find other ways to save money. For example, maybe we could cut back on excess baseball fields in cities where the current fields are not used to capacity. Many cities have built stadiums that weren't necessarily needed. Its all debatable, of course. However, I cannot see how libraries can be debated. Call me crazy, but free literature should be made available to all. It is the responsibility of modern society to educate and inform. Do we really want society to be populated with a majority of mindless followers? Maybe the politicians do, I don't know. People should use libraries and make it clear to those in power that knowledge and books are something they cannot withhold. Here's a link to make your view known by July 2nd. How could anyone even debate a library's validity? I guess those who can't read, but there are audio books there. It causes me to take pause. Its not quite as drastic as Fahrenheit 451 but its a step in the wrong direction.

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Life observations

    I saw a similar list about life, however, I had a bit of a different slant on the whole thing.  I thought I would put my two cents worth in. 

    Things we aren't taught in school
    1. No one cares about you as much as you do.
    2. Life isn't fair. Fair to one person, isn't always fair to another. Also, whining about it won't help. Rarely will anyone ask you how you feel about what happened.So what? Your self-esteem belongs to you, build it from within. Be the kind of person that you admire. 
    3. Success is dependent on you and thousands of other people.  In this reference I'm talking about career success.To be on top, others have to follow you.At the very least, others have to care about what you are doing.
    4. No matter how shy you are, you have to connect to the real world. It is next to impossible to function without connecting with someone. To really operate in society, you must connect to many. 
    5. Life can be tough. Teachers are only the beginning. Wait till you get a boss who dangles that paycheck over your head in return for menial tasks. You have to perform for less than likable people, deal with it. Of course, always know it is only a step in the process. Remember, you don't drown by being under the water, you drown by staying there. 
    6. Don't be humiliated when you have to do something you consider beneath you in order to eat. All work is valid and can lead to other opportunities. The CEO isn't necessarily a better or smarter person than the burger flipper at McDonald's. Actor Jack Nicholson was "discovered" while working in the mail room at MGM
    7. Stop blaming your boss, job, spouses, etc. for everything that's wrong in your life. You can see your experiences as anchors or the clay that made you who you are today. You have the choice to be what you want to be. Hating someone is like taking poison, expecting the other person to die. Spinning your wheels in the mud of self pity won't help you move forward. You can either accept the person in your life who holds you back, move on or deal with it. If you have been walked over, get back up and walk on. You can also try showering the oppressor with love and overwhelm him/her.  At the very least, they will be confused enough to stop, if only for a little while. Doors are there for a reason when the heat is too great.
    8. Stop blaming your parents. Your parents are individuals too. There's a good chance that they were learning right along side you as you grew up. They have dreams, ideas and opinions independent of you. They may be older but they are not always as senile as you might think.
    9. Life goes on and on and on until it doesn't. Savor it. Yes, life can be depressing. People can be  a pain. Remember, someday, if you're lucky, you will realize how great it was to be younger or where you are right now. 
    10. Personal success can't be gauged by wealth or career. You are successful if you raised kids who become responsible, contributing adults. You are successful if someone loves you for who you are. You are successful if you are happy and content. Success in the eyes of others doesn't matter because, generally, people are gauging themselves in relation to you in order to feel better (or worse).Do you really need their admiration or scorn as the case may be?
    11. Be nice to nerds. They are the great thinkers who power the world's infrastructure. Oh, yeah, they may be your boss someday.
    12. Don't judge people on the surface. Everyone has a story. The cover rarely divulges the novel within. You may be surprised to discover the layers underneath, once you get to know a person. 
    13. Don't wait until your death bed to say I'm sorry or I love you. Also, don't die with regrets. Its never too late, really it isn't. Look at Betty White, she isn't quitting even though she's in her 80's. George Burns  contributed well in to his nineties. 

      Thursday, April 29, 2010

      What do you want?

      Social networking is great for people who want to connect to other people for a variety of reasons. It may be they have too much time on their hands or they are lonely. It is also a big conduit for those who have something to connect to those who want something. Writers, marketers, politicians, satirists, etc. all have "something" they want people to have. Those who are seeking for something to have may stumble upon those who are giving. It is a nice symbiotic relationship. The thing is, what is it you really want? What is it you really have? I mean REALLY. Sometimes what we think we want isn't always what we need. Thinking outside the proverbial box helps us clarify our goals. It also gives an avenue for creativity. You know what you want, now decide what you need. Here's to connecting on many different levels while at the same time fulfilling all of our hopes and dreams.

      Thursday, April 15, 2010

      National Library Week

      It is time, once again, to honor our libraries. Go ahead and check out a book or DVD at your local library. Author Neil Gaiman is the honorary chair for this event. It amazes me how libraries tend to be forgotten. They have such a rich source of material available for free. Many libraries across the country are having events this week. Even after this event has come and gone, don't forget your local library. They exist because of those who check out material and patronize the library. If no one bothered to check anything out or just stayed away, they would eventually lose their funding. I know of a one-horse-town, not far from my neck of the woods, which has a one room library. It was created by a lady who wanted to promote reading. She donated the first books and housed them in a small shot gun style house. Since then, some odd 40 years ago, the library still exists. The local school, citizens of the town and the current Caretaker, have supported it and had fundraisers in order to keep it alive. There is a place in Kansas that claims to have the smallest US Library. The library I was referring to was at least as small as the one in Kansas. The smallest library in the world is in South Britain. They converted a telephone booth into a library of sorts. People actually wait in line to check out a book there. I believe, even with the electronic books becoming all the rage, that the good old paper and binding will still prevail. I have electronic books on my Ipod but I still house a plethora of wonderful ink and paper books. I don't have to worry about charging the batteries or having my electronic device with me. I can always grab my latest read and take it anywhere. There's something special about the smell and feel of a real book.
      So, honor your library, no matter how small. It exists to serve, even if it isn't always appreciated. The smallest of libraries are even more special as they must live amidst technology. To me, they serve as a reminder of how a group of people, no matter how small, can do great things.

      Tuesday, March 30, 2010

      Imagine a library

      Here's a link to another place where there is a contest going on. Laurie King wants you to imagine what your "perfect" library would look like. What would it contain (besides books)? I've seen many a beautiful library and know exactly what I would like. The contest is for a "public library" but I have my personal library already planned out. It would have dark cherry walls which meet midway with deep red fabric walls. The shelves would be very classical and massive. The obligatory ladder on wheels would allow the reader to access the higher shelves There would be comfortable velvet seating with gorgeous stained glass lamps. The ambiance would be welcoming and soothing. It would have carved wood tables with matching chairs. There may be a tapestry hanging, depicting some medieval scene. My library would be a combination of Victorian, renaissance and classical styles. Of course, being in the 21st century, it would also contain modern technology. Wi-Fi and and an mp3 player with a sound system would allow me to play background music at my discretion. Since it is obvious that I love books, creating an imaginary library is an easy thing for me to do. Alas, the next thing to do is to create a real one.

      Thursday, March 18, 2010


      I've observed many things throughout my life. One thing, more than most, is that human beings are competitive. I don't necessarily mean in a business sense either. Sure, that is one area that involves competition and is necessary. However, I've noticed that if you break down the art of gossip, (it is an art) you see the fundamentals of competitiveness at its basic form. Usually, gossip consists of discussing what is wrong or negative about someone else, though not always. At the heart of these negative observations and/or opinions is competition. Many people either have underlying feelings of inferiority or superiority, take your pick. They want to come out on top of the heap. They do not want their lifestyles analyzed but have no problem analyzing some one else. I can honestly say that I have been drawn into such conversations. In the past I would just nod my head and agree rather than start an argument. Then I went through the stage of standing up for what I believed. I would defend the person or cause being accused by asking what proof the accuser had. I can say one thing for sure, that was a waste of time. People will believe what they want and no amount of facts can change this. Just look at the last election for proof of this. I always said, "don't sell your soul" to anyone just to avoid an argument. The fact is, some people love to argue. I have finally come to the conclusion that its ok to live and let live. Of course, you should obviously not be passive to abuse or overt injustices that are harmful. Just, pick you battles carefully. Words are words and can only hurt you if you allow them to. If you know that you are doing your very best and not hurting anyone, that's all you can do. It doesn't matter what anyone else may think. This takes me back to the subject of competition. It has been discovered that the most successful people were those who did what they loved to do. They followed their passions without regard to what other people did. They succeeded, not because they were better, but because they did their best. There are so many talented, passionate people out there. The ones that stand out are those who focus on their craft rather than what their "competition" was doing. That weeds out the negative, self defeating energy and leaves them with the beautiful talent which gave birth to their ideas in the first place. There's always someone with more ______________(fill in the blank) but not someone better at being you! Everyone has a story. So focus on your passions and see the beauty in everyday life!

      Tuesday, February 16, 2010

      Our world

      We build our world from the inside out. Everything we see, interact with and what we believe makes up our world. We decide what it is we want to be. But first we must decide who we are. You can choose to believe what others say you are or you can believe what you want (be it good or bad). I hear people say "I'm bad at math" or "I'm an excellent cook" or "I'm thin/fat", etc. The bottom line is, you tend to be exactly what you believe yourself to be. Now you can say, "I'm just looking at reality." Reality to one person may not be reality to another. For example, when it snows, one person can see the beauty in the white landscape. Another person will only see the slippery streets which can be dangerous to drive on. Its the same reality to both persons.
      There have been studies conducted that show people who think more positively are happier than those who think more negatively. On the surface, that makes sense. However, when another study was conducted, it showed that positive thinkers were actually having better "luck" than the negative thinkers. In effect, they were creating their reality from the inside out. Cancer patients with longer survival rates are the ones who are taught positive visualizations and meditation.
      The recent HBO movie Temple Grandin is an excellent example of people making up their own minds about what is real and what isn't. Temple is autistic. Because her educated mother refused to follow the doctor's advice and institutionalize her, Temple received an education. Temple is now a grown woman with a doctorate. She now speaks on behalf of autism issues. She is also an animal behaviorist. Because Temple was educated, she learned not to accept the world's vision of her. She saw events as a door which she could open. Society tends to close doors to those with autism and learning disabilities. Temple teaches that everyone learns differently and as such everyone needs to be taught differently. Temple Grandin has several books that should be checked out. Also, here is a video.
      Today's schools attempt to teach every child in the same way. As a result, some kids are left on the sidelines.
      What does all this tell us? First, it shows that it is up to each individual to decide who they want to be. Second, it shows us that once we decide, we must not stray from our vision. If you want to succeed, you must realize that you do indeed create your reality from the inside out. If you have a disability, you must look beyond it. You can use it as a tool to greater things or move on to a higher purpose. It truly is up to each person. For good or bad we are all on this planet trying to live our lives. No one greater than the other.
      So, are you a writer, doctor, speaker, etc? Are you more than one thing? It is up to you. Circumstances can either stop you or be overcome. They can help you or hinder you. It is up to you.

      Thursday, January 28, 2010

      J.D. Salinger will be remembered by his book.

      "Catcher in the Rye" author J. D. Salinger has died at age 91 in New Hampshire.

      The AP states: "He had lived for decades in self-imposed isolation in the small, remote house in Cornish, N. H."

      I always find media statements like that rather odd. I heard the late Paul Harvey state that Barbara Streisand had agoraphobia. He stated that she hid behind closed doors and was afraid to leave her home. Famous people are stalked, hounded and bothered. Naturally they are going to shy away from the privacy-invading public. It doesn't necessarily make them hermits or agoraphobics. At the same time, Salinger openly admitted that he cherished his privacy. So do I, yet I am not afraid of getting out. So, let's move on.

      Salinger's only successful novel, The Catcher in the Rye, was published in 1951 and gradually achieved a status of fame which he chose not to participate in. That book became a coming of age story for many an adolescent and disgruntled youth. The Catcher in the Rye with its immortal teenage protagonist - the twisted, rebellious Holden Caulfield - came out during the time of anxious, Cold War conformity. Salinger wrote for adults, but teenagers all over the world identified with the novel's themes of alienation, innocence and fantasy.

      In later years, Salinger become famous for not wanting to be famous, refusing interviews. If you might wonder why he chose solitude, check out a pursuer of the famed author who searched him out. Actually, to his credit, the literary afficiado did not disturb Mr. Salinger. Nonetheless, many before him have. Let us leave Salinger's memory to the ages. His literary contribution stands for itself.

      Tuesday, January 5, 2010

      A New Year

      2009 has come and gone. We are now in a new decade. As such, we should make up our minds as to what we want to accomplish in the coming months. Now is as good a time as any to make a list. Don't be afraid to dream BIG. If you don't seem to be getting where you want to be, maybe you aren't dreaming big enough. It really does matter how you look at your goals. People tend to get what they expect to get, so expect the impossible! You can't reach the summit if you stop half way. Here's to a wonderful new year full of dreams, joy and accomplishment. Follow your passion and you can't go wrong.