Monday, March 31, 2014

A Rumi Fix

"God picks up the reed-flute world and blows.
Each note is a need coming through one of us, a passion, a longing pain.
Remember the lips where the wind breath originated, and let your note be clear.
Don't try to end it.
Be your note.
I'll show you when it's enough.
Go up on the roof at night, in this city of the soul.
Let everyone climb on their roofs and sing their notes!

Sing loud!"


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Noah and the Arclight

Putting on the hat of film critic for the moment, I highly recommend the newly released film Noah, if you would like to see the great Russell Crowe squeezing out a decent performance for one of the most ridiculous Biblical re-enactments ever made for the silver screen.

The fake animals look like they all have arthritis of the hip joint as they jerk onto the Arc, which looks like a monolithic wood cabin in the Appalachian mountains. The snakes luckily don't have that issue, though they do look like a swarm of leeches on a hemophiliac as they rush toward floating salvation.

Jennifer Connelly, the wife of the God-fearing-loving Noah, also turns in a very human, heart-wrenching performance despite the craggy robotic Light-beings trapped in plasticine rock of monolithic size (hold on, this wasn't in the original story) that constantly pop in and out of the frame. My husband disagrees with my thumbs up, stating that her solid talent was misused; her part only required her to whine and cry during the whole movie. That mood would be tough to maintain as an actress, so all credit goes to her for needing to be the stressed out wife of a prophet for the two and a half hours of footage that made the cut.

So folks, you can save your big bucks on a movie ticket and wait for it to appear on the small screen - unless you are a lover of movie extravaganza that imitates real cinema the way a MacDonald's hamburger compares to a filet mignon.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Nude Female

Photo Credit Kelsey Dake
In the 1980s, a series of posters began appearing on the streets of New York. The most arresting one — a yellow-and-crimson image of Ingres’s “Odalisque” wearing a gorilla mask that demanded, “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?” — informed the viewer that “less than 5 percent of the artists in the Modern Art sections are women, but 85 percent of the nudes are female.”

I repeat the quote: “...less than 5 percent of the artists in the Modern Art sections are women, but 85 percent of the nudes are female.”

Yes! Someone has finally vocalized a pet peeve of mine. Cinema as well as the fine arts has displayed more nude scenes with women - painted, sculpted or directed by men - than nude scenes of men (unless the male artists are gay, in which case we see nude men for obvious reasons). While there might be times when the exhibition of the female body truly furthers artistic expression, almost 100% of the time full nudity is optional to get the point across. So why the choice to bare female flesh?

It makes sense that a full-blooded male artist would delight in gazing upon a naked female draped on his couch for days on end. Or that a male director would get a rise out of watching his star actress bare all with the added titillation of crew members watching (even a closed shoot needs a cameraman and other key crew).

While this time honored act of "celebrating" the female body is viewed by the art community as simply tradition at its finest, a hard and sober look at the trend speaks  of other traditions - such as the subjugation of women as sexual objects, breeders of children, or slaves.
In my part of the world, women in all fields are on the rise, but the old boys club still rules...and always will until over half of the population (women) speak up loud and clear.


Friday, March 28, 2014

CNN Declared Legally Insane

Since corporations are "people" according to a Supreme Court ruling and our tax code, it appears perfectly logical that one could make a diagnosis of the mental or physical condition of this CNN person of many bodies and technologies.

While I was sequestered in a Southeast Asian country oblivious to news, (mainly because I couldn't figure out the remote control for the flat screen in my hotel room and it was too hot to call anyone for help), apparently a Malaysian aircraft bound for Beijing fell off the map.

Nineteen days later, it is still almost the only thing one can see on CNN, the ubiquitous station that used to be my news channel of guilty pleasure. Real news, of course, would need to be found elsewhere, but who can resist Anderson Cooper's cute little giggles?

With complete astonishment and now derision, my husband and I click onto it just to be amazed yet again at the "breaking news" moniker with non-stop conversation about the possibilities afoot concerning disappeared Boeing 777's. (No longer a lucky number, wouldn't you think? Gamblers beware! If you bet on lucky sevens, your money will disappear as quickly as that jetliner.)

Not to underestimate the awful tragedy for the people on board and their families left behind, but honestly CNN. Do you realize that the Russians just annexed Crimea, that Syria is still at war, that poverty and guns plague Americans, and an almost infinite number of other stories that influence our humans worldwide are newsworthy too?

Thus, CNN falls under the definition of insanity: someone who does the same unfullfilling action over and over again and expects a different result. And please God, help the Fox news person too.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Enigma of Body Chemistry

No, this blog title is not a reference to the mysteries of sexual attraction, although astonishing, scientifically verifiable data shows how complex "attraction" actually functions to draw people into the knots that bind. This is more about food and its impact on body, mind and soul.

A lecture on nutrition would be terribly boring, and only the most culturally conditioned person could ignore or still be in denial about the basics of healthy eating (such the fried food clans of the Deep South). Alchemy would be a better word to describe the mysterious interactions of foods and beverages with the unique chemistry of an individual.

Thanks to some absurdly expensive, specialized lab testing, I know that I am gluten-intolerant, allergic to raspberries (darn) and a few other items. OK, so it's no surprise that as a child I called pancakes "paincakes" because my stomach told me it was a real downer to ingest that seemingly delicious breakfast. Comatose would be a good word to describe my mental condition after imbibing that morning menu item.

More of a mystery is which foods make me feel high, happy, and energized, and what ones inspire me to ravage the cupboard and fridge for yet more, more and more. Or lay down on the couch for the next hour or so.

Who'da thunk that today, some sprouted organic tofu and a barely ripe avocado would send my brain chemistry soaring into heights of ecstacy? After all, that combination is one of the standards in my rather sparse refrigerator and it didn't bliss me out a few days ago when I had the same lunch.

Thus the enigma of body chemistry. I always wondered why those people in white with white turbans wrapped around their heads (in West Hollywood), thin as a Somalian fisherman, could float around with such ease. Is it a vegan diet? A vegetarian diet? The Paleo diet? The breatharian method?

In eating disorder clinics, the food cure is called "intuitive eating." Check your gut and see what it really wants. And if you listen, all will be well. Now all I need is a special hearing aid or a megaphone so that my gut can tell me what it wants before it definitely reacts to what it didn't want.





Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Does A Plane Exist If It Falls Into the Ocean and Nobody Hears It?

One of the exasperating philosophical questions that plagues young minds is the question, "If a tree falls in the forest and you don't hear it or know about it, does it exist?" (This is an approximation of the koan.)

With the onset of quantum physics for dummies and Buddhist philosophy, one can now definitely answer. Yes and No. Of course it exists because of the interdependence of all things natural, unnatural, supernatural, sub-natural, and supra-natural. At some level hidden from the grosser five senses of human beings, we are impacted by every event the tree has ever experienced, and vice versa. So yes, the tree does exist, albeit in an impermanent flux, regardless of whether we have exacting cognition or not.

However, the ego mind does see the world entirely as a projection of its own imagination, without reference to anything ascertainable other than its own interpretation. So looking at the question from the ego's point of view, no, the tree does not exist if we don't literally see or hear it crashing down.

What really seems to bedevil the current cable news media, whose only story is the disappearance of the Malaysian jetliner, is that they know a plane existed but they can't see or hear where it fell.

I can relate to this paradigm. One day last October, the stats for my blog suddenly showed up a very large number of Malaysian readers clicking on in droves. About two months later, with the Malaysian readership outpacing all other countries, they disappeared in one day, with nary a click since the Christmas season.

So I, like CNN, now wonder if a new Bermuda-esque Triangle has surfaced as an enigma in the India Ocean.

The Racer's Edge

The most important factor that distinguishes a racer from a pacer is motivation. The former has a profound ability to see the finish line and go for the gusto, whereas a pacer cogitates, procrastinates, and stagnates.

The noble enthusiasm of a racer reminds me of an admonishment my Tibetan Buhhist teacher gave me. He said, "You should go seek and practice the dharma with the same urgency as if you hair were on fire and you had to put it out with your hand."

In other words, race, don't  pace. To the one with burning desire and keen motivation, the rewards fall upon you like ripe fruit from a tree.

So hone your desire and make the dream real. All it takes is a decisive action with keen intent.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Razor's Edge

Perhaps there is a standard meaning in the vernacular concerning the phrase "the razor's edge." However, I won't let conventional terminology stop me from blundering on about the meaning of this metaphor in the world according to Carole.

The razor's edge is eating a box of dates and pretending the calories are trumped by nutritional value. Never mind medical advice to avoid sugars of all kinds. If I can't see the glucose level skyrocketing it doesn't exist. And until my clothes mysteriously shrink in the closet, one is numb to the pain of this eventual outcome.

The razor's edge is driving 80 MPH in the 60 MPH zone and just knowing that you are invisible to police cars.  Until you are not.

The razor's edge is not going to the dentist for three years or waiting until your car is 20,000 miles over its next service date.

However, the mother of all razors' edges is denial. With those blinders on, one is sure to feel the slice of life hacking your party cake into a crumbly messy goo. If only we humans could work backwards from effect to cause, we would be such a clever race! In that scenario, we would have the racer's edge!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Jagged Edge of Excitement

I never understood people who had the constant need for excitement and stimulation until today. After two weeks in a foreign land, camera in hand, followed by a one week retreat filled with love and insight, my peaceful and beautiful abode in Southern California seems a little too quiet and peaceful.

As one who normally needs respite from the time clock and other peoples' neurosis (which acts like a tuning fork to my own), this is a new sensation. I don't want to isolate. I want to submerge myself in the world of people.

My cat April used to hide out in an upstairs bedroom all day until...we replaced the concrete and dirt surrounding our house with a native garden, filled with over 300 plant varieties. A few days after the planting had completed and the planters safely gone, said cat ventured outside and started sniffing. It was fascinating to watch her explore every new scent which drew her from her cozy bed-blanket into a world of fresh sensation.

Like my crazy cat, I have sniffed a world out there with new flavors and sensations. Yes, the comforts of home are irreplaceable. Yes, the voice of old friends is reassuring. But as the day I qualify for Medicare draws ever so near, it is time to reinvent my life. And why not? After all, as teenagers are wont to say to their parents, "I can sleep when I'm dead."

Gratitude Is Not a Platitude

How many of us know what it is like to be hungry? Truthfully, it is better to be a beggar in Westlake Village, California than a poverty-stricken person in a Third World country. If beggars in Westlake raise $10, they can enter one of many supermarkets for a thousand-fold food choice. A family living under a tarp in the mountains of Bhutan, or a Burmese person in a remote village with dry dusty fields, has nowhere to simply drop in for a tasty snack. Scarcity is not only limited by money but by availability and location.

Every American of means should visit a Third World country. Perhaps the whining that goes on about trivia would be hushed by the sight of real problems such as no fresh water or medical care or healthy nutrition or adequate shelter and clothing.

Having just visited a poverty-stricken part of our planet, I find it amazing to listen to the complaints of the ordinary Angeleno. Gratitude is not a platitude so people listen up. Life is full and rich and probably anyone reading this at least has access to the internet. Already a game changer.

Complain less and give more - a sure recipe for contentment. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Why I Live

Why I live. To be in service to others. There is nothing left but that.

God, Light, Great Spirit, Allah, Yaweh, Buddha, Jesus, the Human Heart - may it all be with you.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


After waiting like an over-stimulated teenager for the magic day to dawn when I could upgrade to iPhone 5S, the long-awaited time arrived. With the grace of the gods, the Verizon store was empty when I waltzed in and an eager beaver genius was all mine for the next two hours.

He introduced me to a novel new iPhone case; one that is so waterproofed that the manufacturers challenge you to submerge the phone in water for 30 minutes to test the product. Pointing out the benefits of such a device, such as filming underwater or the drop-proof Sherman tank encasing, he convinced me to buy it.

Since I had previously killed one "dumb" cell phone when it fell into a movie theater toilet, lost an iPhone 4 hiking on a trail, and bounced my iPhone4S across cement and tile at least fifteen times (she was a tough cookie though), it seemed a good idea for my slim new golden girl.

After wrestling with the hatches on the phone that kept it watertight while said genius was fiddling with computer issues, I gave up and decided to get a beautiful transparent cover as lightweight as a summer frock.

I say to my self, "It will never fall into water and I will be very careful so it doesn't drop. Go for beauty, not safety."

And herein lies the oxymoron to end all oxymorons. NEVER SAY NEVER.

About 30 minutes after leaving Verizon with my new best girlfriend, I walked into a public bathroom for the obvious reasons. As the subsequent hand washing event commenced - water pouring out of the spicket - suds bubbling up on my fingers - I dropped golden girl straight into the hard ceramic sink raining water from its faucet.

With the speed of a tiger pursing its game, it was snatched out of harm's way, dried off, and rescued from sudden death. My hubris smacked out of me by the gods of karma and significantly chastened, I thought, "Never say never." Then it dawned on me that it was one those oxymoronic platitudes that has the quality of a homeopathic dose.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Oxymoron of the Day

Said blogger was in Southeast Asia for the past two weeks, where the temperature has been over 100F every day and air-conditioning scarce. Heretofore, she had never felt the sting of sweat running into her eyes. Better than store-bought eye drops, she thinks.

 After two days back in balmy Los Angeles, she leaves again for a week in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where the weather is below freezing after the sun falls behind the jagged mountain peaks.

Note radical wardrobe change: light flowing cotton and sandals to thick wool sweaters and boots.

With a bit of cultural disorientation and climate change, she races around the house trying to retool her life from thickly hot jungle to cold mountain air and snow - within a short turnaround time which included a lost day from extreme food poisoning (happily occurring in LA where the comforts of home made things more or less bearable).

Her question to herself as she prepares to leave for the airport: "Did I forget to remember something?"


Between the Frying Pan and the Fire

When the first inklings of a pandemic started brewing in late January, I was in Bodgaya, India, the place where the historical Buddha attai...