Bookends Never Meet

eternity lives on the head of a pin

dance with now

kiss the moment hello/goodbye

bookends never meet

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Live Art

I saw Bohemian Rhapsody recently with some friends, and I loved it. I’m also old enough to have been around for the first time around. Long before it seemed necessary to immortalize it on the big screen as its own story.

Soon after I saw it, I found myself listening to an interview with Rami Malek as he discussed what it was like to attempt to portray Freddy Mercury, and it got me thinking. Imagine the process someone has to go through when they try to portray a primarily contemporary musical idol to their original audience, as well as a newer world. More than that, someone who was such an absolutely massive personality. I mean, Freddy Mercury was, if nothing else, a man with a huge presence in recent musical history. A personality that embodies, and maybe even defines the title of “lead singer in a rock and roll band”.

And, during this interview, Malek, begins to describe how to emulate a man who, when he was on stage, gave 120% at all times…

I stopped right there.

Ok, at so first my pedantic nature takes over and I think, “Ugh. I hate that crap. Per Cent. Per 100! If we are giving something our all, that all would be 100% of what we have to give, right?! I hate this crap. It’s just over-the-top Tony Robbins motivational blargspeak, and it makes my teeth itch. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought about why some people make us feel as though they can give beyond what we think they are capable of giving. Therefore, when they give it their all, we see that it’s in excess of what we expected to see from someone like that. And we label it as them having given 120%.

Sigh.

But, this is about art. My belief is that art is really spirit. Or, more specifically art comes out of the gaps in our spirit. It reaches itself out to, seeking the same in others. And art is the language they speak.

Art is spirituality manifested in some form that pleases/stimulates/connects with other people’s spirits, and it communicates entirely on its own plane. It comes into being when its creator creates it, or names it, or loves it, or even passionately hates it. Sculpture and music, painting or stagecraft, subway platforms or museum niches, art exists because we’re human. In the darkest of places, art is a blazing torch. Even in the mundane, art is the eyebrows* we put on that spreadsheet of dry numbers we give to our boss.

But what about the artist who doesn’t have cracks, or even gaps in their shell? What about those who are almost raw spirit under a thin human veneer, coming face to face with the world for the first time. They don’t create when they make their art, they become it. As they perform their art, they create an energy around them that is its own, higher form of art. This form we call ‘love’.

I don’t think artists like Freddy Mercury are capable of giving 20% more than everyone else. I think they are somehow able to transmit the love they helped create when their untethered spirit is finally allowed to fluently speak its native tongue. That’s what we call that ‘art’.

And the best we’ve come up with to describe this phenomenon is, ‘he gave 120%’?! No. No. No. We’re going to need to get an artist on this right away and change that.

A Real Nail Biter

People with chronic anxiety, huddle up! It’s time to give yourself that ‘pep talk’ that only you can give to yourself…

“Get out there Tiger! Don’t worry, today’s going to be boring! Everything going to go as planned, finally. And, for once there won’t be any nasty surprises!”

“No ones going to scream about something in your ear, or yell at their kids when you happen to be close enough to get the ‘shock’ from it. Better yet, I’ll bet you no one is going to yell near you at all!”

“Today you’re not going to have to worry about your boss. You’re won’t need to get clarification from them when they give you vague instructions about some incredibly sensitive matter that they won’t offer you any help with, never mind answer your questions. Instead, everything will make sense, and every angle will be covered beforehand. Doubt is a thing of the past!”

“Today’s the day that your family, and friends won’t ask how you’re feeling, nor will they even have to. You won’t have to deal with that moment when the conversation awkwardly dies, because you don’t have the answer they’re hoping for. Today no one is going to ask you at all, and all of the conversations will be fine.”

“Today will also be the day that your heart rate will finally respond to those breathing exercises everyone has been showing you for years. You know the ones. You’ve tried them a million times, but they only seem to work on normal people. Not today, my friend!”

“And best of all, today you won’t need those rescue meds either. Which means, you won’t need to worry about feeling crappy for days afterwards because of all the side effects.”

“Today is your day! Enjoy, or not. It’s totally up to you! Do whatever you want to today.

And don’t worry, there’s no reason to second guess any of this. It’s all good!”

In Memoriam… And it’s time to get to work

The last few years has been a tough ride for me personally. I lost a brother to an overdose. I lost my mother to cancer. I lost one of my oldest friends, and the best man in my wedding, to Alzheimer’s. There’s also a handful of other major events that would take too long to explain in this particular post. When I look back at every one of those losses, there is a fairly large gap in my blog post history. Who knows why? I suppose it’s one of the ways I don’t deal with grief, by simply ignoring any decent coping mechanism I have for processing it.

A week ago today, I lost one of the most influential people I have ever had the privilege to know and collaborate with. This time the loss is directly relevant to my spiritual well-being, as well as what I write about.

Brian and I met over a decade ago, when he was hired by a friend of his, who was also my boss. A lucky break for me since the same guy had been telling me that I would probably get along really well with his friend Brian. A suggestion that sparked one of the most pivotal relationships in my life.

He was more than just a friend. He was a mentor in a number of areas for me. At other times, he preferred to be the student. It was one the purest definitions of friendship I have ever experienced. For myself, I believe that’s because we recognized ourselves in each other.

Over time, we created and authored a number of blogs that discussed a range of topics. He was one of the few people I can honestly say was able to deliver criticism to me in a way that completely bypassed my defenses, and the need to defend myself from the criticism. He could bypass my defenses and deliver information in a way that made it easy to see his point, simply removing my normal need to save face.

I don’t write because I want to. On most days, it’s more of a need. But, when my ego flairs, writing the type of stuff I do can be painful sometimes. Based on what I know, I suspect that Brian had to learn how to reduce his own ego before he could help anyone else with theirs. I am a far better person today for having known him.

I haven’t used his full name for a few reasons. The first of which is that I haven’t sought any sort of permission from his family to compose a written memorial. But also because I think I knew him well enough to know that, the idea of anyone trying to memorialize him in any way, would have given him the heebie jeebies.

Over the years he pushed me hard to get over myself, and to finally realize some of the projects I wanted to work on. But, like most people, most of it’s blocked by whatever bullshit excuse for a fear that I’d given myself. Each time that he pushed, he was careful to do so in a way that was always most helpful to others, and less likely to focus accolades back on us. In other words, Brian showed me what humility was, from the inside.

Okay, so now after having written all of that nice stuff, it also appears that I have also acquired my own glasses-wearing, mustachioed Obi Wan-ghost, wandering around and bugging me that I’ve still got work to do.

You see, I am not trying to memorialize Brian so much as I am trying to write about the passing of a close friend as a way to exercise my own demons. And also to let people know that I plan to change directions with this blog for a little while, if that’s okay (and even if it’s not). This blog was never meant to be a political bitch session. That’s purely a side effect of our current political climate.

I have been working on a series of essays that discuss the current and ongoing change in status that cannabis is experiencing as medicine, as well as how that might affect people in recovery for things like alcoholism.

Because of some of the training I have, both personally and professionally, this is a topic of great personal importance to me. It’s also one that few seem willing to tackle. And it’s here that Brian recently applied his gentle pressure, for me to continue to explore the subject, so that we could continue to help others in whatever way works for them.

My secondary reason for this post is to ask help from the readers: If you know anyone who can be helped by this information, please share it with them, this topic must be a give and take. Like much of our political discourse these days, the medical benefits of things like cannabis are subject to media favoritism. And the popularity of certain methods and medicines, ebbs and flows on public perception. A perception that is largely informed by backdoor deals and lobbying efforts, usually designed to enrich someone else, somewhere else.

What we really should be doing is using the technology we passively browse, and instead push it to increase our own access to information. We need it to help us expand our knowledge of the truth, and about the real efficacy of our medicines, and our politics. And for many who are trying to recover from addiction, helping them to increase the quality of their own internal lives.

Having said all of that, I want to once more thank Brian for everything he was able to teach me (not always such an easy task). And to also let him know that I miss him, and that I love him. Something I’m sure he knew, but I don’t think I got to say out loud.

Well, at least you can say her speech was long. That’s something… I guess.

So, after listening to the last half of Susan Collins speech, a few things occurred to me that I would love to ask, or point out to the Senator.

When Ms Collins was listing all of the doubts that were never satisfied for her in this vetting, with questions like,  “Why didn’t anyone step forward to say ‘I was at that party’?”, it occurred to me that this was one of the easiest questions to answer... No one stepped forward to say any of those things because the FBI wasn’t allowed to look into the scores of affidavits that citizens had to submit to the news media because no one in our government (Senate, FBI, White House, etc.) would take their call. Duh!

Which reminds me, if you’re worried voter confidence in the judiciary, wouldn’t it be better to appear thorough and non-partisan by waiting until after the election so that the voters can have their say? Plus that would give the FBI more time to run down those affidavits.

Your speech was nice, and contained inspiring words and all, but I have another question: Why didn’t you lecture the Senate and voters about your concerns over the partisan divide in America when Mitch McConnell decided to block the appointment of Merrick Garland by President Obama?

As for Mitch McConnel… He’s a coward who hides behind women when he want to screw over their gender as a whole. He’s afraid of the voters that he screwed when he blocked Obama’s SCOTUS pick. And he did so in a way that would absolutely preclude any sort of vote being called between now and November.

P. S. I’d also like to see more people in the Senate who aren’t actually older than the average human life expectancy was when they were first elected.

I Really Don’t Like Entitled Pricks

I grew up in the northeast, and was in high school during roughly the same time period as Brett Kavanaugh. Here’s what I know about that time period.

Parties were measured by how many kegs they had. When a party was described with terms like ten kegger, no other descriptor was required. This was only a couple years after Animal House was released. And some of the most popular movies about high school life at the time were Porky’s and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Both movies were shining examples of how all early 1980’s high school students spent their time — on academics, sports, church, and service.

Every guy I knew that went to a private prep school (which is admittedly a very small number of people) were absolute douchebags. They all basically acted like entitled pricks about everything, especially with girls. And, thanks to people like Owen Labrie, we know more about what happens at elite prep schools than we used to, and we know how far we still haven’t come.

I knew women and men who were raped and sexually assaulted. If the topic came up around someone new, the most empathetic response you could hope for was, “That sucks”, before they quickly changed the subject. But when the victim wasn’t around, people would ask each other what she was wearing. The idea being that if you dig down far enough, there’s always something wrong with what the woman did to make the guy rape her. If you were a guy, you could also count on being made fun of, and told that “You can’t rape the willing!”

Today, while listening to both witnesses testify, I didn’t focus so much on the details of their words, as the context of their speech. And what I saw was a very scared woman testifying before the entire United States Senate, and openly discussing one of the most frightening events of her life.

Then I looked up to see a room full of dour faced white guys hiding behind a hired gun, one who just happened to be the same gender as the victim. And each and every one of those Republican Senators sat in their shame and pretended to look busy, while their constituents made sure to note whether their Senator has the guts to ask their own questions, or if they abandoned their responsibility to a woman that no one voted for (this is getting to be a thing with these guys).

And then the nominee/accused rapist spoke. And suddenly I was too angry to watch anymore. I used to know guys who talked to people like this. Every entitled prick I have ever known has acted the same way.

They’re not even trying to hide it anymore

Bloom County by Berk Breathed

Every time I start to write a post lately, the news changes and my jaw goes a little more slack.

Now I’m watching the news about the hearing in the morning. Christine Blasey Ford will be questioned regarding her accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The questioning is done by the peoples’ representatives to the Senate… usually.

However, this majority party is willing to make Herculean efforts to derail the Russia investigation, sell off national parks to the highest bidder, and even question the credibility of possible rape victims who are willingly putting themselves directly at risk for persecution before they even speak, and even prosecution from the FBI if an investigation found their stories to be fraudulent. So, I can’t imagine it took very long before some of the old white coots said they didn’t want to have to watch themselves call both Ms. Blasey Ford and Anita Hill the same disparaging terms. In for a penny, in for a pound. May as well shirk your Constitutional duty, because you don’t wanna look bad!

It looks like politicians are finally adapting to the idea of that their instant sound bites are now forwardable to everyone’s back pocket.

*rump’s Socialist Agenda

I think we can all agree that the *president is an idiot. At this point, I think it’s pretty much a demonstrative truth at this point. In fact, there have been news stories about most of his cabinet members saying the same thing for a while now.

I think it’s also safe to assume that he really doesn’t even know what socialism really is either, let alone Democratic Socialism. So, we should use it to sow serious doubt and confusion among his hardest core supports.

To do this, we need at to get the White House Press Pool involved as well. As long as everyone is on board and knows what to do, then they can set it up.

Then the next time the *president begins to talk about how important military spending is, we hit him with the disorienting question first.

“Mr. *President, do you think all Americans support such a large expenditure for a Socialist program?”

And while he is twirling and bitching, we get the next correspondent loaded and ready.

“Mr. *President, since you are now talking Socialism more, do you think we should ask Congress to start collecting taxes and duties so that we can use them to provide for the general welfare of all citizens?”

And then we can all sit back and watch him explain how unfair the Constitution is.

It’s time to stop playing fairly. Mitch McConnell sure the hell doesn’t.