Archive for the books Category

Friends Who Give Me Books

Posted in books, poetry on May 23, 2016 by furious buddha

Friends who give me books
gift me with worlds to explore
hearts and souls to adore
minds mine to peruse
& adventures to pursue

Friends who give me books
are so much more interesting
because they are always listening
& exploring uncharted depths
and seeing to infinite breadths

Friends who give me books
are friends I can trust
& appreciate them I must

Terrible Jokes, Awkward Stories and Days in the Life.

Posted in art, books, days in the life, film, music, poetry, pop culture, religion on October 16, 2015 by furious buddha

Kenny,

So, a Catholic Priest, an Imam, and a Rabbi walk into a bar. The Priest orders a glass of red wine and blesses it. The Rabbi orders a glass of Manischewitz Concord Grape Wine and drinks it. The Imam has a Diet Pepsi. The Mormon waitress condemns them all.

A man with a monkey on one shoulder and a parrot on the other rides a horse into a bar. The bartender says, “Get those filthy fucking animals out of here or I’m calling the cops!”

So a Buddhist monk walks up to a hot dog stand and says, “make me one with everything.” And the hot dog guy says, “Aren’t you supposed to be a vegetarian?”

I was just telling someone about how for your birthday one year we went to the Field Museum to see the Darwin exhibit, when we were standing in front of a collection of the species of carnivorous plants and I said, “well, that kind of blows the concept of vegetarianism to hell.”
The other guy in the exhibit laughed.

I marvel at how light a quarter century feels; It was around that long ago we went walking around your old high school while you felt nostalgic for four years earlier. Then we got even more very drunk; God, do you remember that breakfast? We had all slept for forty five minutes and were still reeking of booze when we threw on suits and had breakfast with your family. Wulf didn’t take off his sunglasses the entire time. Then we went and got your ass married to that lunatic. I mean, she was a beautiful lunatic, and I was making the exact same mistake with Persephone, after all. I’ve told you about how I proposed to her, didn’t I? So, we were at her sister’s wedding which was at the Park Ridge Country Club, and Persi was the Maid of Honor. We were like, twenty at the time. So, the wedding was in the morning but the reception wasn’t going to start for hours so nearly everyone left to get lunch or whatever and the wedding party went to go take pictures. I had nothing to do but sit at the bar all afternoon. By the time the cocktail party started at four, I was loaded. By the time dinner started at six English was pretty much a second language. By the time the speeches at finished and dancing started I was proposing to Persephone. I don’t remember much else about the night.

Do you remember how we used to drink? Neither can I.
/rimshot

Right now the shuffle brought up ‘Ring of Fire’ as covered by Wall of Voodoo. It’s pretty cool, actually. Julia is binge watching a terrible show called ‘Reign’ so I threw on headphones and I’m listening to music and writing to you. We are relishing quiet adult time while little dude sleeps. He just turned four a few weeks ago and we had a big party for him at our house. There are elements of the castle here in our house. We have an (inoperable) fireplace with built-in bookshelves alongside it in the living room. Julia has painted the rooms in vivid colors and they are filled with books and toys and musical instruments and our art on the walls. We have a corner lot with a big yard. I’m six minutes away from work. Mom and Dad are good; Tony calls them Nana and Coco.

Toilet training has been kind of emotionally brutal. I am taking a Zen approach but it can be exhausting. We’ve tried it all and are kind of stuck in a good cop bad cop cycle with him and I don’t think it’s good but it’s the dynamic we keep reverting to and I can’t help but be good cop. But then its all over and we are in bed singing to him. There’s a lullabye I’ve been singing to him since he was probably two years old and now he demands I sing it to him every night and it’s the highlight of my day life; first I sing it by myself, then Julia and Little Tony sing it with me. We end up doing it three times at least before you do Mama’s songs. It’s to the tune of Silent Night and I came up with the words over time. He calls it ‘Sweet Little Boy’.

Sweet little boy
Dear little boy
I love you
You’re my joy
I love you more than all words could say
More every night and every day
I love you so much
Oh, I love you so much

I know it’s doggerel but it’s also the best thing I’ve ever written because it’s the first song my son ever learned to sing.

I know that there will be a day when I won’t be singing him to sleep anymore and it makes me indescribably sad.

It’s the next day and I’ve gotten home from work for a little bit before I have to go back out and they’re out and I’m listening to Bjork’s ‘Army of Me’ and writing to you. Here’s the thing about having a kid; I’m doing more real writing than I ever did when I was single. That’s part of the reason I haven’t been blogging very regularly; I’ve written over 20,000 words of a novel this year as well as producing some of the best paintings I’ve yet done while working full time at the Clown Factory and I am still a fully present dad who doesn’t miss dinner or night night. And the Clown Factory is just going smashing, with a kind of Imperials vs the Rebellion vibe giving things an extra spice to my days. Plus I had a meeting last night for the little theater company I’m helping start up; I’m directing ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ this winter.

It’s the evening. I got home late but not too late to sing him down to sleep, so hooray for that and Captain Spaulding. Julia is still watching this terrible show. It’s like if the CW did the War of the Roses. I have to tell you brother, I never have known a woman quite like her and that is why we work. We bring out good things in each other. And even though she usually has awesome taste this show is so terrible I’m putting on my headphones and  ‘We Love You’ by the Stones is on my shuffle; it’s such a great psychedelic tune and has a certain distinction because John Lennon and Paul McCartney sing on the chorus and Lennon’s voice is very clear at the end of the song as he seems to knock over a glass. I don’t understand why it never seems to get played anywhere.

I’ve read several excellent books lately. If you’re in the mood for some light magical realism I really enjoyed ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ by Neil Gaiman. My friend Wendy has gotten me reading memoirs and I discovered I love Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing; ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ is a deeper piece of writing than you would think. The problem is that the film is a story of a pretty white lady taking an extended vacation and falling in love with a hot older man which completely misses the point of the book; it is her writing which is relevant, not the narrative. ‘The Way of the Samurai’ by Yamamoto Tsunetomo, ‘The Glass Bead Game’ by Hesse, and ‘Brave New World’ are all books that somehow evaded me until this last year but are now nestled into the Core. Speaking of, did you guys see ‘Inside Out’ yet? Little dude loved it almost as much as me and Mama did. Pixar consistently makes not only some of the best family films but some of the best films of all time.

I’m sorry my reply to your email was so brief. I didn’t know what else to say and have been thinking about you since I sent it and I’m hoping they figure it all out. The hospital sucks except for how they perform miracles of science there. Hopefully they’ll have you out by Monday. I just wanted to give you a little something to read. Get some rest and give my love to those around you and yourself.

Unlimited Love,

Winston

 

In Newspeak, Irony is Impossible #homophones #homonyms #homophobe

Posted in arguing with lunatics, books, current events, philosophy, poetry, politics, pop culture on July 31, 2014 by furious buddha

To be fair, it’s a language school so they can’t be expected to understand advanced topics like homonyms or homophones. It’s a good thing that we are lowering the standards by eliminating public education so that private institutions such as this can instruct people in using the English language. At this rate we will soon rid ourselves of troublesome concepts like irony and her cheap sister, satire, as they will no longer be comprehensible to post-post-modern readers; after all, if one can read a street sign or product label, what else does one really require?

1984 (For the Love of Big Brother) @Eurythmics @AnnieLennox @DaveStewart

Posted in art, books, film, music, pop culture on May 10, 2014 by furious buddha

This is one of my Perfect Albums. It’s like a Desert Island Disc or whatever, a refined and sifted list that includes stuff like ‘A Love Supreme’, ‘What’s Goin’ On’. ‘Heroes’ and the Rostropovich recordings of Bach’s cello suites, pretty much all of the Gould Bach recordings, actually… I could go on but I want talk about this one because I’m listening to it now. This record has not gone out of style for me in thirty years; it sounds as vital coming out of my laptops peripheral speakers now as it did on popping and hissing vinyl then. I lost the record to a crazy girlfriend in college and by then it had gone out of print.

Now, I understand that for my younger friends the concept of any music being out of print or somehow not instantly available is difficult to grasp, and I don’t wish to sound like a geezer expounding about the telegraph, but one of the many factors that infuses this recording with the Zest and Zazz of the Indescribable Wow is that the mere act of listening to it is kind of like pulling something out of a Memory Hole. The company that was making a film adaptation of Orwell’s novel also owned the Eurythimics record company and commissioned the band to record a soundtrack for the film. Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart went into the studio without any other musicians and produced an album of radiant brilliance that the director hadn’t actually asked for; he demanded that an alternate cut of the film be released with the music he had commissioned and complained to the press and while accepting awards for the film about the band foisting their music on his vision. The band said that they had no idea that this had been the situation and would never have accepted the job if they had known. The album did okay on the charts but it broke a streak of hits. So by the time I was looking for it on CD in 1990 I couldn’t find it. I couldn’t find it on tape or LP. It wasn’t until I was managing a record store in 1995 or so that I found it in a German import catalog.

Since then there probably hasn’t been a month where I haven’t given it a spin and there are nights when I am painting where I have played it through five times in a row without any sense of tedium. That ‘1984’ is my favorite novel is another one of those ephemeral factors that serves sets this apart. For example, ‘Doubleplusgood’ is an anthem that could have poured out of the machines the Ministry of Truth used to produce popular music while retaining an organic groove under an amazing vocal performance by Annie Lennox, who, incidentally, shines just like a crazy diamond all over this record. She frees herself to find the percussive barks of the chain gang, the humming moans of the blues, the wordless songs of jazz and the soaring gospel flights of ethereal resonance that only the unique instrument of her voice can attain all in the three and a half minutes of the first track. The production and songwriting by Stewart reflects her freedom of spirit and enhances what is an already magnificent gift to something indescribable except in cliche; for example, ‘Julia’ is the most hauntingly beautifully sad love song I’ve ever heard. Stop reading about it and go listen to it. This is 2014, for God sake; your telescreen should bring it up in less than a second.

 

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I gotta walkies the dog. My parents went to a wedding so I’m watching Max. I am incredibly impressed with how quickly he and April settled into detente and are peacefully occupying chairs across from each other. Max has the chair next to me, but April’s is the higher ground. It has been so long since I have had a familiar let alone the harmonious society of cat and dog (a peaceable enough kingdom where the lion lies down with the wolf.)  My unlimited love to y’all.

Epistle to Kenny Lazarus: The Truth Event

Posted in books, god, philosophy, religion with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2013 by furious buddha

Dear Reader, this a continuation of a conversation that just got too unwieldy to keep in a comment box. The metaphors will make more sense if you read this full post and comment thread first.

Brother Kenny,
If you follow a living God, why insist it is in a stone?

The truth of the Resurrection is actually a perfect example for what we are talking about. As we both know, there are four Gospels and they were originally set down between forty and a hundred years after the Crucifixion; as such, they each have distinct version of the story, with John being the most divergent as well as the latest. Each of the Gospels is like a lodestone marked by this truth event which can be best understood when the lodestones are studied in their relation to each other. Matthew was possibly set down by the tax collector himself, but it’s most likely written by one of his followers around 80-90 CE. Mark was most likely written by Peter’s translator John Mark, which means it was set down by someone who knew a firsthand witness to the Truth Event. Both of these documents probably came into being within fifty years of the Truth Event. Luke is the least mysterious as well as the most prolific of the Evangelists as he writes his Gospel and the Acts; we know that he is not a firsthand witness but a disciple of Paul, who himself was technically a second hand witness (he never met the pre-Resurrection Christ). John might have been composed by 100 CE but not much earlier than that and it was probably put together by disciples of John, not John himself (and there is an interesting theory that it was actually written by Lazarus).

We must now ask why these Gospels were written because it was not for our benefit, though they have benefited us tremendously, but rather for the edification of the faith of the first few generations of Christians. This is their original function; when we place them in relation to each other we can see the bands of alignment run parallel like a forensic investigator recreating a bomb from a blast. They were not written in response to the Truth Event but to something that happened almost forty years after it. In 70 CE Rome sacked Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple and scattered the Jews in the great Diaspora; the battle of Tel Meggido was over and the Messiah did not come. After three days, three weeks, three months and three years, a decade, the Temple remained rubble and the Messiah had still not come. This must have been tremendously traumatic for the infant Church and could easily have been the event that smothered Christianity in the cradle. Until this point the first and second generation of Apostles were certain that Christ would bodily return in their lifetimes; therefore they would have seen no need to record that which they had already witnessed. It was only in that dark decade after the Apocalypse when the world rolled on and the Messiah did not appear did it dawn on them that they needed to start preparing for the future. It must have been tremendously difficult to keep the faith together and carry it throughout the Empire and beyond its frontiers when the Messiah did not return and Temple lay in rubble. In this context, it makes sense that the two Gospels produced at the beginning of this period were straightforward accounts. Within a few decades Luke produces a masterpiece that incorporates the first two Gospels into a sophisticated narrative that indicates the writer had a Greek education and was writing for the larger Gentile audience. John is clearly from the end of this period and contains the theological beliefs of the earliest Christians in terms of what they thought the Truth Event meant.

These documents transform Christianity from a cult to a religion, from a breakaway sect into something entirely new in the world; they are secondary only to the Truth Event that inspired them in terms of their significance to the world, because without them the Good News would have been lost. In much the same way that the generation of first hand witnesses to the Holocaust are trying to find ways to preserve their stories before they pass away, the Gospels that are the only lenses we have to glimpse the Truth Event through are the testimonies of the first generation written down by the second. That there are four Gospels as opposed to one is in itself a miracle because it provides us enough points of reference to form a holographic view of the Truth Event rather than a flat view. They are not the Truth Event itself, they are evidence of the Truth Event that are like lodestones which can serve as a compass to guide us to experience the awakening that Christ brought. They are not salvation itself but point to it.

Though what happened in the tomb could be viewed as the singularity of the Truth Event, for me the proof of it is the whole of the Ministry. In three years Jesus was able to transform those closest to him from tax collectors and fishermen into saints. When Jesus was born Augustus Caesar was the proclaimed King of Kings and had every prophesy and history he did not care for burned, and renamed months after himself and his divine adopted father Julius so as to remake the world of men into his image, and yet his palace would be torn down to make a tomb not for the carpenter from Galilee, but his fisherman friend who denied knowing him three times on the night of his death. When one considers that John Mark was a disciple of Peter’s and yet includes the story of Peter denying even knowing his Lord, it gives the account an extra sense of honesty; in fact, the disciples are often portrayed in an unflattering light throughout the Gospels which is evidence of their honest humility as these were written after decades of very difficult work and martyrdom in a dark time. Furthermore, all the texts deal with the benefit of doubt.

Doubt strengthens faith by making it work harder; it polishes the lenses by which we peer at the Truth Event. Doubt is thinking, not just simply believing as a child. Doubt is what prepares faith for terrible tests that will break our bodies, take everything and everyone we love, and kill us in the end. Christ struggled with doubt in Gethsemane and on the Cross in the extremity of his suffering; again, to include this fact rings of the kind of honesty that comes with enlightenment, not fanaticism. That there is nothing absolute about the divinity demonstrated by Christ, but rather He is a being who suffers and bleeds, who laughs and drinks wine and gets angry at fig trees and tells people to look for money in fish and raises people from the dead and cures lepers and teaches everyone that they are worthwhile and beloved by God. He is such an unlikely Messiah He must be real; the people who knew Him loved Him so much they became better people for Him and spent the rest of their lives enduring suffering to spread His ministry. When we peer through our polished and focused lenses toward the heart of where the singularity should be we see the flickering paradoxes and contortions of reality that indicate that there must be an Absolute somewhere behind them, but we can never define or directly perceive what it is. Those paradoxes and contortions are the Horizon of the Truth Event much as an event horizon cloaks a gravitational singularity. We cannot determine what exactly happened in the tomb and in the days afterward, but must either accept or reject what these disciples who have proven so trustworthy in their other reporting agree upon as the general shape of the events.

If, however, our science fiction world were to produce some way to peer into the past, say, and we were able to view Peter and the Apostles bribing a guard, rolling aside a stone, and fleeing with the body in the night (despite the fact that such an act would have been so abhorrent to them culturally and religiously that it would have been unimaginable to any of them), my faith would not be shaken a whit. My faith does not depend on whether or not Jesus was able to turn water into wine or if he was just more sober than everyone else and noticed that there there were some more untapped kegs; I myself have performed that equivalent miracle more than once just by checking the fridge in the garage. What is most authentic are the teachings and parables, the sermons and the symbolic actions such as the casting of the moneychangers from the Temple and these require divine wisdom and courage which is far more difficult to fake than a magic trick. This is the Teacher that bids us to follow the difficult path, not simply believe in a miracle.

Does this make my point clearer?

Your brother,

Winston

3 reviews

Posted in art, books, current events, days in the life, music, pop culture, teh internets on October 4, 2012 by furious buddha

I realized today I haven’t posted in nearly a month. I’ve been busy and working on writing off web, but I miss you guys. So here’s a book, an album, and a television series that I have recently encountered and enjoyed immensely; I recommend them most strongly for your enjoyment.

The Clockwork Man, by William Jablonsky, is one of the best epistolary novels I’ve ever read. I have always enjoyed the technique of storytelling through a diary or letters, but often the conceit is forced and the story would be better served by straightforward prose; in this case, I could not imagine the desire to have the story told any other way. Through his diary, Ernst Gruber relates the strange tale of his life as a mechanical man that renders his joy and heartbreak in fine detail. It is a fully realized portrait of the soul of a machine filled with far more humanity than many diaries kept by living humans. I have been haunted by Ernst and the people he knew ever since I set the book down; I will revisit its pages, which is the highest praise I can give any literature.

Animal Collectives’, Centipede Hz, is just a great rock and roll album; that is to say, not a great collection of songs, but an album. Its not that one has to listen to it unshuffled, it’s just better that way. At moments it recalled the best prog-rock of Genesis or Yes, and in the next, the best punk of the Clash or the Ramones, or like if Radiohead got in a car accident while playing the Beach Boys ‘Pet Sounds’. I’ve pretty much listened to it every day for a couple of weeks and frequently find myself humming the tunes and rocking out in my head. Give it a chance.

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret is so full of funny it hurts. When I found the first season on Netflix while babysitting at Doctor Girlfriends place it was like finding a diamond in the litterbox. The gloriously dark ending of the series in the second season is one of my favorite television episodes ever. If you were a fan of ‘Arrested Development’ or ‘Mr Show’ or anything at all funny you need to see this. There are only twelve episodes and that is all there will ever be, so it won’t take long to enjoy.

I promise to not be a stranger.
My unlimited love to y’all.
WD

Dirty, dirty thoughts. (under the Venusian transit)

Posted in books, current events, days in the life, philosophy, poetry, politics, pop culture, religion, Science, teh internets on June 5, 2012 by furious buddha

DIRTY THOUGHTS

Yes, I know this has been here since last Monday but I have reached a point in my spiritual development where I don’t drop what I’m doing because a mouthbreather got some drool on my blog. I find it funny how racists are obsessed with caca-doody; for despite their terror of contamination they still manage to fill their own skulls with filth. This sort of ironic backwardness should be expected but still somehow manages to fill me with surprised delight the same way an infant enjoys a game of peek-a-boo.

I do apologize for the lack of updates, though. I have been lax, at least here in the virtual world. I’ve been busy as hell in the world of objects and human interaction, though, which has given me a chance to breathe and think and reclaim my humanity. I am not exaggerating. The luxury of thinking, of not responding to something on a screen, is quickly being forgotten, as all of our empty moments are being steadily filled with the blare and glare of games and quizzes and tunes and shows and polls and tweets that leave us stunned numb and staring dumb. If you are unfamiliar with E.M. Forster’s ‘The Machine Stops‘, I strongly recommend you remedy that situation. It would give you an excellent frame of reference, as he wrote it over a hundred years ago yet exquisitely describes our contemporary predicament.

This is not the rant of a hypocritical Luddite, though I am a hypocrite. I am as much a part of teh Internets and gaming culture as anyone and have been using computers 4 lulz since long before bbs and dial up connections and hung out at an arcade where they playtested games. What this means is that I am qualified to make this observation; smartphones and pads are turning all of you into pod people. I also think that the spike in autism may be due to television being an epigenetic trigger for the condition. However, I am not a doctor nor have I even graduated from college, so these are the unscientific rantings of a crank.

The brain is plastic, and with the technological developments of the past century we are stretching it in ways it was never designed to go. The spike in mental disorders in the population is not simply because of more aggressive diagnosis and awareness, though this must play some part in the numbers. And while there are many environmental factors to consider, from the advent of synthetic hormones or other modern toxins, the most prevalent and powerful influence on our thoughts is what you are reading this through right now, the screen. Consider the case of the introduction of American television in Fiji and how the rates of eating disorders went from nonexistent to American levels in 38 months. (I wonder if it would make sense to research the rates of autism and other disorders among blind people compared to other populations?)

Anyway, I just found ‘Duck Soup’ on Netflix.
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MORE DIRTY THOUGHTS

I think that teachers are job creators.
I think that firemen are a sign of civilization.
I think that a working class hero is something to be.

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UNDER THE VENUSIAN TRANSIT

Blue sky symmetry
balloons gather glinting bright
Venus transits Sol

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