Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"Agreeing with John"

Two Dogs wrote these words after watching the documentary "The U.S. vs. John Lennon". He wanted me to share them with you:

When silence is sickening
It’s time to scream
When words are not heard
It’s time to lean
Not to the left
Not to the right
Do not lose your legs
For there is no one else’s might
When you scream and scream
And you are still not heard
It’s time to pick up guitars
And gather the herd
And give peace a chance.

The piece is called "Agreeing with John." I agree, too.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Two Other Books I Recommend

Speaking of books, here are two more that I've read lately that deserve a larger audience...

1. The Freedom Manifesto by Tom Hodgkinson

Tom Hodgkinson is the founder of the Idler magazine (also available online) and also wrote a book called How To Be Idle. He says that idling is not mere laziness, but a raised fist of freedom against the tyrants of the industrial world - corporations, television, credit cards, housework, and the so-called "good life" (which will make you miserable in the pursuit). Don't let the UK-centric language scare you - this book contains joyful news for people of all nations. Even though I am not quite ready to "Live Free of the Supermarket", this book came into my hands at just the right time.

2. You Or Someone Like You by Chandler Burr

This novel tells the story of Anne Rosenbaum, a highly educated and literate woman who is also the wife of a top Hollywood executive. Anne sets up several book clubs for motion picture professionals. It seems counterintuitive to have book clubs featuring heavyweights like William Faulkner, Edward Lear, and George Sand for people working in a business that has little respect for literature. Or is it?

The novel also explores the journey of Anne's husband, Howard. Born into an Orthodox Jewish family, but breaking away after falling in love with Protestant, English Anne, Howard barely thinks of religion until a family relevation shocks him into reconsidering his roots. You will see a startling - but understandable - comparison between Orthodox Judaism and one of its worst latter-day enemies. I will say no more. Just pick up this book where you can, and don't forget to write down the titles in Anne's book clubs, too.

E. Lynn Harris

I was shocked and saddened this afternoon to hear of the sudden death of author E. Lynn Harris, whose novels have entertained me over the years.

Mr. Harris is perhaps best known as an author of the black gay experience. Yet, that is not what I remember most about his work.

First, even though tragic events happen - beloved characters die of AIDS, love affairs crash and burn, betrayal and lies abound - the reader finished each book looking upon sunshine, knowing that the ones left living would not only survive, but thrive.

Second, and more important, these novels contained black characters who were educated, affluent, and mobile, who partook of American freedom as their due. They are not victims of poverty and/or racism. When I read Invisible Life, his first novel, I had not seen these kind of people in fiction before.

Of course, Mr. Harris started writing books in the 1990s, and not during the years of the worst racist outrages. Still, they were a relevation to me, and I hope they can be a relevation to you, too. The next time you're in a bookstore or library, stop at "H" in the fiction section for E. Lynn Harris

About that graphic...

The sun is supposed to be orange and yellow, and the slug-me is supposed to be flesh-colored with brown hair. Don't ask me why the graphic looks the way it does on the blog. (But those are cooler colors!)

Sun Slug

A little explanation of why I haven't been blogging lately...

It's been hot where I live lately. Not Arizona or Nevada hot, but hot enough - upper 80s to 90s. The air conditioning control in our apartment is hard to reach, so Two Dogs and I have been feeling the heat more than we would otherwise.

Excess heat turns even meandering mice into sweaty, sleepy slugs. Instead of going out and about as usual, I hide inside the apartment during the day, drinking lots of water and Coke Zero and taking...afternoon naps (!!!)

I thought summer was my favorite season, but I haven't felt its true effects in a long time. Maybe it's growing older, maybe it's no longer spending most of the day in an air-conditioned office. But it's something I will need to tolerate (if not overcome) for now. That, and drink some more cold water. As in now.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Worst People in the World?

A few days ago, I was having morning coffee with friends. My left ear was listening to what my friends were saying, and my right ear was listening to the conversation of the people next to us, a man and a woman wearing bike uniforms - black Lycra shorts and colorful, ad-laden shirts.

The woman, eating a lunch of tuna and apple slices, spoke about people with different lifestyles:

"They don't exercise...they eat fast food...they're the worst people in the world."

Really, Ms. Tuna-and-Apple-Slices?

People who don't exercise and who eat fast food are the worst people in the world?

Worse than murderers, torturers, warmongers, thieves and rapists?

Changing of lifestyle to achieve better health is a worthy pursuit. Unfortunately, such changes often awaken the self-righteous beast inside. Without thinking, we can use our newfound enlightenment as a bludgeon against those who haven't seen the light.

Once upon a time, the only thought humans had about food was how to find it. Years and decades and centuries brought technological, scientific, and industrial progress. An exponential increase of knowledge and choices brings with it a similar increase in anxiety. Today, almost everyone knows how to find food. The big question is now what to eat.

Food choices are heavy with baggage - the war between health (which for most people equals slenderness) and taste. We want to eat tasty food, but we feel soooooo guilty when we do. Some of us feel more guilty about eating a cookie than making an unkind remark to someone's face. To take control of the health vs. taste issue, some of us latch onto rigid rules about eating (and living), which we then project onto the rest of the world.

"If you don't eat like me, you're a terrible person!"

Please. Chill out.

What other people eat is really none of your business. Just enjoy your tuna and apple slices and stop worrying about the rest of us. In the end, we can only be responsible for ourselves - and that's a difficult job as it is.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Weirdest Packaging I've Ever Seen (but it worked for me)

Have you ever gone into a drugstore or beauty supply store and have a certain product stop you in your tracks? A product that looks a little like this?

Welcome to the weird (to say the least) world of Montagne Jeunesse beauty products.

Some beauty lines present an image of serenity and tranquility, promising to take you away to a world of quiet. Montagne Jeunesse is as colorful as a tabloid cover -"BRIGHT and full of DELIGHT" according to the website - and if I had been a child seeing these packages at stroller level, I would have thought these the faces of monsters. Especially the blue one.

But they make you look. Big time, as Two Dogs would say.

I tried to take pictures of these at the store, but they came out blurry. I had to buy them to get a decent shot (fortunately, they're only $1.79 each, and the buy-two-get-one-free deal helped, too). I am wearing one of the masks as I type this, the "Passion Peel-Off". Here's how it looks in real life:

I'm not sure whether or not to be relieved or disappointed!