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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Christmas movies are better than the actual holiday

Let’s face it.  Christmas has always been a bit of a let down.  So much anticipation, so much anxiety but in the end, it’s just another day… with presents.

But Christmas movies show us a glimpse of a better world, one where dreams come true and everyone is loved.  Everything works out in the end and it matters that you were born.

So to honor the “spirit” of Christmas, here is the list of my Top 5 Favorite Pro-Christmas Movies.

Screw the haters, I love It’s A Wonderful Life.

A Christmas Story is the most quotable movie ever.  And a celebration of childhood and the holidays.

Elf was the perfect vehicle for the man-child, Will Ferrell.  It gets better each time I watch it.  “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

I like to watch this alone because I don’t want anyone else to know how mushy I really am.  I do believe in Love, Actually.  So many fun stories, so hard to choose just one clip.

You had to know Jim Henson would make the list somehow.  This is one of those hidden gems that it’s about time people rediscover — Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas.

So if you want to feel good this Christmas, I recommend the above movie marathon with a house full of people you love.  Anything else is just icing on the cake.

Have a very Merry Christmas,  a Happy Hanukkah, a Joyous Kwanzaa and all that jazz.

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Thank you, Bill.

Today would have been the 50th birthday of Bill Hicks.  Some of you have never heard the name so let me tell you who Bill Hicks is for me.

I first happened upon his stand-up some time in high school.  I’ve always loved stand-up comedy and used to watch various specials.  Something about Bill stuck out though.  He wasn’t just trying to make me laugh or entertain me; he was also trying to make me think.

Throughout college, I caught more of his stuff, some on TV and some on CD.  I hadn’t been hip to him for very long before his untimely passing in 1994.  Bill died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 32.  He was stolen from us.  That’s what it felt like.

I continued to find any new recordings of Bill’s I could and would just listen to them over and over.  My favorite CD is still Rant in E Minor (which can be found on YouTube in its entirety).  What became apparent as the years wore on is how relevant Bill continued to be.  He talked of the first Gulf War of 1991 and the politics of his time but just swap out the names of the players and it’s still the Truth.  Bill was a lightning rod of Truth.

Throughout Bill’s career, his scathing wit and unwillingness to cater to the masses kept him from becoming a household name.  His last performance on David Letterman was not even aired until 2009 (you can find it at this link — http://popwatch.ew.com/2009/02/03/david-letterman/ ).  Bill just didn’t understand the need to alter his message.  He trusted his audience was smart enough to get it even if the rest of mainstream media did not.  And if they didn’t get it… whatever.  He was just here doing his thing and nothing more.

He did find success across the pond to some degree and he paved the way for other comedians to talk about more than relationships and other mundane topics.  He took his role as court jester very seriously and he was not shy about pointing out over and over again the emperor has no clothes.

Bill was truly a one of a kind and the world is better because he was in it.  Bill took a squeegee to my third eye, and for that I will be eternally grateful.  Thank you, Bill.

Bill’s off on his Flying Saucer Tour of the Universe now.

P.S. On February 7th, 1994, Bill wrote his last words to the world:

I was born William Melvin Hicks on December 16, 1961 in Valdosta, Georgia. Ugh. Melvin Hicks from Georgia. Yee Har! I already had gotten off to life on the wrong foot. I was always “awake,” I guess you’d say. Some part of me clamoring for new insights and new ways to make the world a better place.

All of this came out years down the line, in my multitude of creative interests that are the tools I now bring to the Party. Writing, acting, music, comedy. A deep love of literature and books. Thank God for all the artists who’ve helped me. I’d read these words and off I went – dreaming my own imaginative dreams. Exercising them at will, eventually to form bands, comedy, more bands, movies, anything creative. This is the coin of the realm I use in my words – Vision.

On June 16, 1993 I was diagnosed with having “liver cancer that had spread from the pancreas.” One of life’s weirdest and worst jokes imaginable. I’d been making such progress recently in my attitude, my career and realizing my dreams that it just stood me on my head for a while. “Why me!?” I would cry out, and “Why now!?”

Well, I know now there may never be any answers to those particular questions, but maybe in telling a little about myself, we can find some other answers to other questions. That might help our way down our own particular paths, towards realizing my dream of New Hope and New Happiness. Amen.

I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.

Imagine

I want to follow up on what I wrote about Friday.  I am pretty pissed off about how bad things have gotten.  So what now?

First, you get mad (react) and then after you’ve calmed down, it’s time to take a look at how you would actually like things to be.  Take some time, daydream and imagine anything.  I’m not asking you to imagine how to fix what’s broken but to really look at how it could be, how you would like it to be… for reals.

Honestly, I think people are very hesitant to do this. And I’m not even talking about doing anything but just sitting down and dreaming up something new.  We can’t do something if we can’t even imagine it.  If you don’t think it’s possible, it doesn’t stand a chance.

Once we can imagine it though, the next step is even scarier – taking action.  The main reason people stay rooted in unpleasant situations is fear of the unknown.  This sucks but it could suck a lot worse.  Or as Shakespeare put it, this “…makes us rather bear those ills we have, than fly to others that we know not of.  Thus Conscience does make Cowards of us all.”

It’s OK to be afraid but it’s not okay to be paralyzed with fear.  So let’s just stick with step one for now.  What would your world look like if you were its creator?

If you were creating an imaginary society, how would you go about it?  Since it’s a collection of people, I would want to create the greatest good for the greatest number.  Tribal societies used to be like this.  Perhaps we could go back to a similar arrangement but instead of racial or ethnic groupings, we could group ourselves into something even more cohesive.  When a group of like-minded people get together, they can create amazing things.

“The best things and best people rise out of their separateness; I’m against a homogenized society because I want the cream to rise.” – Robert Frost

Humanity will not evolve beyond this place we are now unless we look out much farther, beyond “my” wants and needs.  It’s time to look at “our” wants and needs.  Science is beginning to prove what the great spiritual teachings have been telling us all along – everything is connected, everything is one.

My stomach and my heart are different but they are both me and without them I’m nothing.  Life, the Universe and everything is connected and if one part isn’t working, it can impact the rest.  We are impacting our planet and not currently in a sustainable or nurturing way.  We’re shitting where we eat, so to speak.

Some will continue to argue that our system is not bankrupt; that it’s the best way to do things (the only way, they may tell you).  But if you’ve been paying attention, you know that’s not true.  It’s time to let it go and try something new.  We’ve all heard the definition of insanity.  If not, here it is again.

I can imagine all kinds of amazing things.  Can you?  John Lennon gave us a great way to get started.

 

Some books that might help you see more clearly

Ismael by Daniel Quinn

Collapse by Jared Diamond

A Language Older Than Words by Derrick Jensen

The Twilight of American Culture by Morris Berman

Running on Emptiness: The Pathology of Civilization by John Zerzan

If it ain’t broke…

So many contradictory homilies, so little time.  You’ve all heard before, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” but that sounds a little counter to “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  So which is it?

I’ve decided to go with the latter and pay for that ounce in the form of chiropractic treatments.  It’s not a cheap ounce but insurance is covering some of it and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than the cure – plus much less painful than the ensuing breakdown.

I’ve been achy and sore in my back off and on for the past couple of years.  My weight had crept up and I attributed it to that.  Looks like, from the x-rays at least, it’s a little more complicated.  I’ve had no particular injury, just stuff getting out of whack over time.  One hip now sits a bit higher than the other which is where that pain in my lower back comes from.

This all got me thinking about the mess we’re in as a nation.  I can see how we’ve let our “backbones” get so far out of whack that we going to need major surgery to make things right.  We’re way past prevention at this point.

The first thing we’ll need to cut out is the buckets and barrels of money that gets thrown at our elected officials by corporations.  Our democracy will fail if the minority continues to have their way.  We’re really just a DINO (Democracy in name only) now so it’s time to call a spade a spade.  We’re an Oligarchy.

What is an Oligarchy you might ask?  Here’s the definition from a Google search:  Oligarchy (from Greek ὀλιγαρχία, oligarkhía[1]) is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with an elite class distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, commercial, and/or military legitimacy.

Argue with me that the power elite is not in charge of this country when corporations are equated to people with the same rights and privileges and it takes almost a billion dollars in campaign contributions to hope to win the presidency (a job that only pays $400,000 a year).  Go ahead, I dare you.

Banks can gamble wildly with people’s money, crash the economy and then get bailout money to continue doing the same.  If you tried this, you’d be cooling your heels in a federal penitentiary right now.

Your vote does not count as much as the Koch brothers because you can’t pay as much as they can.  What they want will always go as long as they can buy the legislature and shape the laws in their favor.  And this is not about hatin’ on the rich, this is about standing up for everyone else that is getting stomped on and kicked in the face by the rich.

The Occupy Movement is the stirrings of the sleeping giant.  If we’re the 99%, there are a hell of a lot more of us than there are of them.  It’s time we started doing things that are in our best interest and preventing the further decline of this once great nation.

Teddy did a great many things in his day but what we need is not a strong leader.  We all need to be leaders here.  No one is coming to save us.  WE’RE THE ONES WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR.

At no time has the wealth gap been this large, and it’s larger than in most other industrialized nations.  We’re returning to the era of the robber barons and indentured servitude.

If you see no problem with this, great.  Go ahead and kiss your minimum wages and 40 hour work weeks good-bye.  You should be grateful you get to slave away for a pittance so some executive can take a shit on a gold-plated toilet seat.

That’s not how I want things to go so I’m going to at least start talking about it.  I felt like a little rant today cause I’m feeling a little feisty after getting my spine realigned.  Perhaps that’s really the best medicine.

Songs in the Key of Marie

Ever since high school, I’ve had this ongoing personal project to create an album of nothing but songs with my name, Marie, in the title.  It made me feel special because for the most part Marie is more commonly used as a middle name these days.

This is the one that started it all.  I still get chills when I hear it.

I doubt this holds true for men, but for women there is a longing (sometimes unconscious) to be someone’s muse.  A muse ignites and inspires an artist to create a thing of beauty and few archetypes hold the same power.

Yes, some women dream of knights in shining armor rescuing them, the damsel in distress.  Other women long to be queens or Amazon-like warriors.  But to be immortalized in a song, a sculpture or a work of prose is a heady delight indeed.

I know that the songs weren’t written about me, but I can pretend, can’t I?  I also know this poem by Edgar Allan Poe was written for another Marie Louise (my first and middle name), but it still makes me swoon to imagine someone writing these enchanting words just for me.

TO MARIE LOUISE
Not long ago, the writer of these lines,
In the mad pride of intellectuality,
Maintained “the power of words”–denied that ever
A thought arose within the human brain
Beyond the utterance of the human tongue:
And now, as if in mockery of that boast,
Two words–two foreign soft dissyllables–
Italian tones, made only to be murmured
By angels dreaming in the moonlit “dew
That hangs like chains of pearl on Hermon hill,”–
Have stirred from out the abysses of his heart,
Unthought-like thoughts that are the souls of thought,
Richer, far wilder, far diviner visions
Than even the seraph harper, Israfel,
(Who has “the sweetest voice of all God’s creatures,”)
Could hope to utter. And I! my spells are broken.
The pen falls powerless from my shivering hand.
With thy dear name as text, though hidden by thee,
I cannot write–I cannot speak or think–
Alas, I cannot feel; for ’tis not feeling,
This standing motionless upon the golden
Threshold of the wide-open gate of dreams,
Gazing, entranced, adown the gorgeous vista,
And thrilling as I see, upon the right,
Upon the left, and all the way along,
Amid empurpled vapors, far away
To where the prospect terminates–_thee only_!

When I was younger, I probably wouldn’t have admitted any of the above (not even to myself).  I prided myself on being a very independent woman, not falling for all of that romantic, gushy nonsense.  But then, I had never known the experience of being adored.  Gotta say, it’s kind of addicting.

Painter Andrew Wyeth painted an entire series with Helga as his subject

Back to my album.  I only had about six by the time I finished college but thanks to the internet, I finally have a whole album’s worth.  Props to my friends who have tossed a couple my way over the years.

Even though some of the titles may be the same, each and every song is unique.  I dropped in the videos below of some of my faves.  Enjoy!

Songs in the Key of Marie

“Marie” by Tommy Dorsey

“Marie, Marie” by Buckwheat Zydeco

“Sweet Marie” by Thin Lizzy

“(Marie is the name of) His Latest Flame” by Elvis

“Marie” by Randy Newman

“Hot Biscuits and Sweet Marie” by NRBQ

“Marie” by Townes Van Zandt

“Absolutely Sweet Marie” by Bob Dylan

“Sweet Marie” by Hothouse Flowers

“Sweet Marie” by The Anniversary

“Marie Floating over the Backyard” by Eels

“Sweet Marie” by Timo Raisanen

“Oh Marie” by Dean Martin

“Oh Marie” by Michael Buble

Dreams of a new tomorrow

In the last several years, I’ve had a lot of conversations about dreams.  I’m not talking about the ones that occur when you’re asleep.  I’m referring to your “hopes and dreams” and your “aspirations and goals”.  I’ve discovered that this can be a really weighted topic for some people.

When we were children, we dreamt of being firemen, astronauts or ballerinas.  I still remember wanting to be a commercial airline pilot when I was in junior high.  Truthfully, I didn’t really care if I flew planes.  It just seemed like a great way to see the world.

Dreams are amazing things.  They give us something to live for, something to strive for and something to share with others.  They push us to go beyond our limits and do things we never thought we could.  But dreams have a dark side too.

Dreams can become blinders if we’re not careful.  If I dream of having a particular type of person as a partner in life but someone who doesn’t fit the bill comes along, I might be inclined to dismiss them and wait for “the one”.  Ooooh, The One.  Who decides who this mysterious “one” is, by the way?  You?  God (if that’s what you believe in)?  The Universe?

How about our careers and accomplishments?  If I can never be satisfied with anything less than the dream of being (fill in your dream), then will I spend my life in misery if I never achieve that?  Really?!?

Dreams play an important role in our lives but when they begin to overshadow our lives, it’s time to take a step back and look at what’s really going on.

Hindsight is 20-20 and let me tell you what I’ve learned – dreams don’t necessarily have to be fulfilled in order for them to have served their purpose.  What I’m trying to say is very much like the Serenity Prayer so let me phrase it like this:

God grant me the serenity to accept the dreams that will go unfulfilled; the courage to continue to pursue the ones that I truly need to; and the wisdom to know the difference.

The wisdom comes only when you have followed the directive, “Know Thy Self”.  I’ve been pursuing a dream that originated when I was ten years old.  I wanted to write after penning a very short story back in the fourth grade.  Later, when I studied film in college, that dream shifted into wanting to be a screenwriter.  I ended up writing a screenplay that was inspired by that exact same story my 10-year-old self wrote.

A hint of what my script is about

There are many people pulling for me to be a screenwriter, to fulfill the dream I shared with them.  There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder, is it because they believe I have talent that shouldn’t be wasted or is it because they don’t want to see me left unfulfilled if I stop pursuing this endeavor.  Either way, I have something to say to them:  I haven’t given up the dream.  The dream has let go of me.

I still have story ideas and I will continue to write in many forms (screenplays included) but there’s no fire in it any longer.  That dream got me here and it has served its purpose.  I still love writing, this blog attests to that, and I still love movies.  But there’s no drive to do anything about it.  I don’t feel like I’m giving anything up or failing in any way.  Writing these words completes that dream.  I am at peace.

That peace comes from knowing that I will not be left unfulfilled.  In fact, I actually feel freer to write now that the dream has died.  There’s no “have to” anymore.  There’s no endgame, no finish line.  When I have something to say, I put words on paper.  When I have nothing to say, I remain silent.

I truly appreciate all of the people who have supported me over the years, even the ones that pissed me off in the process (perhaps especially those ones).  I love you even if you don’t accept or understand my position on this matter.

After much spiritual questing, I gave up the reins on my life and I go where and do what feels indicated or appropriate.  I belong to life; it doesn’t belong to me.

I acknowledge that to most it will look like I’m being lazy or apathetic.  Those are traits I am inclined to possess.  I probably won’t have anything to say that will truly satisfy you.  To you, I’m quitting, giving up and rationalizing.  Maybe I am, but this just feels right.  And the only person who knows what’s right for me is me.

I look at dreams differently now than I did when I was young.  I dream differently than I did then too.  Dreaming makes the world go around, literally.  That’s why they matter and that’s why we should never stop dreaming.