Friday, November 24, 2017

XTC-The Disappointed

We all get disappointed on occasion, but only XTC can put those feelings into a song so beautifully.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Book Review: White Rage by Carol Anderson

One of the best books I read last year and possibly the best book I have read about the history of institutional racism in America, is now out in paperback. Do yourself a favor and read this book. And buy a copy for a friend.

Find a copy at your local independent bookstore!

Here is my review of White Rage by Carol Anderson:

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial DivideWhite Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Many whites are only now becoming familiar with the term Institutional Racism, and how we benefit in this society merely by being born white. Maybe you've read Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and you're ready to read more about race in America. Carol Anderson marvelously lays out every step forward for African-Americans reaching for equitable footing, only to have those rights systematically stripped away by the states. This is the ugly history that they don't teach us in public schools, but that we should all be aware of. White Rage already has a spot secured in my top ten books of 2016. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Long and the Short of It

Loop de Loop
The earth is about 4.5 billion years old and it’s spinning at roughly a thousand miles an hour. The body is composed of 37.2 trillion cells and those cells are made up of approximately 7*1027 atoms. That’s a seven with twenty-seven zeros after it! On average a human being will live seventy-nine years. None of these numbers comes close to infinity. Nothing comes close to infinity and even the concept of nothing is questionable. Some folks prefer to think that the earth is a mere six-thousand years old, but that human beings live forever in one form or another, either in Shangri-La, Valhalla or in the lofty heavens with its streets of gold.

Pondering an idea such as infinity, I end up feeling like one of Monty Pythons’ Gumbys: my brain hurts! But I suppose that is better than crying out, my heart hurts! If taken literally, I could be talking about cardiac arrest. Metaphorically, we’re merely taking about emotional pain, also known as heartache. Thinking and reasoning are wonderful gifts, but emotional trauma feels like a dark canyon has opened up inside of me. A yawning abyss where no light or love can escape. Everything gets sucked into the dark void.

I would much rather think about the infinite than why love fails. Love is a feeling and feelings are thoughts. Thoughts are fleeting, born of electro-chemical actions and reactions in my brain. The same feelings may rise again and again, but eventually they will dissipate and disappoint. I’d rather use my thoughts to consider my actual neurons rather than get hung up on the drama that those neurons can create. The average brain has about 100 billion neurons, which is nowhere near infinity, but more than enough to leave me bewitched, bothered and bewildered on a daily basis.

Communication between the same species is sometimes the most difficult thing in the world. When someone says, “I will love you forever.” You have every right to question that claim, because forever is a long, long time. I know that my love is bigger than a Cadillac, but Cadillacs break down eventually and become a pile of rust. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. The miles add up and love runs out of gas.  You can’t call triple A when your heart breaks.

My time on this earth is limited and I’ve wasted so much already. I only have so many breaths left in these aging lungs of mine. I inhale and hold my tongue as my thoughts fight to find an exit. I write down my moments of angst and frustration and find myself back at the starting line, not passing Go and not collecting $200. I seek clarity and calm and instead find myself treading water in a sea of confusion. There are those that think I need god and others that think I need a good slap upside the head. All I know is that I need food, water and a decent night’s sleep. Oh, and a little bit of love before I draw my last breath.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Hot Chip - Huarache Lights

I'm working on a new blog post, really I am, but until then here is a music video by a band I've really been enjoying lately: Hot Chip.

So I can see
I got something here
That you don't ever want to turn down
I got something for your mind
Your body, and your soul
Every day of my life
Every day of my life

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Grass is Always Greener

They say that the grass is always greener in the next universe. The groove is always funkier. The water is sweeter and the sun is warmer. The tears are not as salty and don’t fall as swiftly. Maybe the multiverse theory is just a way for cosmic theorists to mathematically validate their fantasies. In the past we had Walter Mitty, the Land of Oz and other fantastical escapes. Now we have actual numerical theories which posit the possibility of an infinite number of universes, where every possibility is a reality.

Religious believers employ this “grass is always greener” concept when they put all their hopes in the idea of a heaven, whether that heaven is lined with gold streets and dead relatives or has ninety-nine virgins waiting for the next crazy suicide bomber. You don’t need to be a member of a church to feel spiritual and you don’t need to be a monk to find enlightenment. False hopes lead to dead ends and a lifeless existence. Stop and look around you. The beauty of life is astounding, from the colors and scents of flowers to the bird songs of robins, chickadees and the common flicker. Breathe it all in and savor the universe we find ourselves in.

Robert Fulghum, author of that classic book "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" put it this way: "The grass is not, in fact, always greener on the other side of the fence. No, not at all. Fences have nothing to do with it. The grass is greenest where it is watered. When crossing over fences, carry water with you and tend the grass wherever you are."

If the theoretical physicists are correct then there very well may be another universe, where I am rich and famous, but not nearly as good looking as I am here and now. If we all hunker down here in this world, obeying archaic patriarchal laws, we’ll die old and unfilled. Sometimes reality feels like a foot on our face, not allowing us to get on with our deepest desires. This is my path and those Marks in the multiple universes, like bubbles in soapy water, have their own paths with their own ups and downs.

We all have a bit of Walter Mitty in us, imagining ourselves in some bigger and shinier reality. Here I barely have time to write trivial blog posts, never mind fantasize about what other Marks are doing in the multiverse. Those Marks need to take of their own problems, cash their own checks and marry or divorce as they see fit. I can only attempt to control my own destiny and that’s a futile task. Control is out of my hands. The sooner I realize that the better off I’ll be.

Mindfulness is all the rage these days and it teaches that there is only this moment. We might as well all agree that there is also only this universe. All other universes are theoretical at this point and even if there were evidence for their existence, we have no way to take a vacation in a parallel universe. We have this moment in this space in time, and we all have to make the best of it.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Two Book Reviews

We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown UniverseWe Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe by Jorge Cham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not a physicist or a mathematician, but I've always been drawn to the Big Questions. This book is just filled with Big Questions and lots of humor. Whiteson and Cham explain in layman's terms and with cute comics, the five percent about the universe that we do know, while opening up the readers' minds to the 95 percent of the universe that we are still stumped by. They explain how we might tackle these still unanswered questions and give us hope with the fact that we have managed to learn so much about our universe in just the last few hundred years. I admit that I read a few chapters more than once in attempt to absorb the heavy stuff, but that's because I really want to learn. Some of this stuff is downright mind boggling! and who could have guessed that footnotes could be so funny?

* * * *

Goodbye, VitaminGoodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Ruth is visiting her parents for Christmas, her mother asks her to stay for a year to help care for her father, who is starting to suffer the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s. Meanwhile, Ruth is trying to find her own footing, after her fiancée left her for another woman. "Goodbye, Vitamin" is narrated by Ruth in short diary-like entries that are often very funny, but by the end of the book these vignettes add up to a moving chronicle of familial love, as Ruth finds meaning and connection in some unexpected places. "Goodbye, Vitamin" sneaks up on you and may have you laughing out loud and then bring you to tears on the same page!

Rachel Khong was the managing editor then executive editor of Lucky Peach magazine from 2011 to 2016. "Goodbye, Vitamin" is her first novel.

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Friday, June 9, 2017

Rival Sons- Good Things (Live at the Compound)

Damn! I love this band. 
"Enjoy it right now
Because you never know
When it's gonna end"

Rival Sons - "Good Things"