Seen at the Cinema
Let me confess how tired I was when I saw this film....I was on my way home from Austin and stopped in Santa Fe to pick up a few sundry groceries from Trader Joe's and then make my way home to pass out, I ran into a couple of friends who were in town to see Marie Antoinette. They convinced me to join them. I was looking forward to it. I've enjoyed both of Sophia Coppola's other movies and Kirsten Dunst is one of my favorites. Given all that, I still whispered toward the end of the film--this is one long music video and I'm too tired to enjoy it. sigh.
The music was fabulous and the way it was used was very refreshing and comic, even. Look for the tennis shoes! However, I was really disappointed in the direction...despite some really refreshing sequences between Dunst and her companions in the early sequences of the film, I found Schwartzman's character really flat and unbelievable. I generally find his performances fairly distant in their characterization--as if he were playing the character from six feet away. But in this film he's completely disembodied--dissociated--whatever you want to call it. He's not there and he's missed! Dunst was great but I felt the shift in her characterization wasn't told clearly or maybe sympathetically enough? I wanted to like her and I did, but then I was confused by her in the end. Didn't seem to stay true to any core personality or principle--and maybe that's the point. Yet, it didn't work for me.
I'm sorry to say that I don't recommend it. Go see it for the kitsch and the glamour but don't expect to be blown away--in fact you may need a friend to help you stay awake.
Accolades to Ashes
Well after my robust essay defending the Athlete as Artist, I go home to watch the ugliest game of baseball ever. How many errors were there anyway? sigh.
The Art of the Game
Most of my adult life I've been part of what are unilaterally considered esoteric, spiritual, leftist, arty communities. Now these communities are not known for their sympathies toward professional sports--or even college as far as I can tell. So, in Seattle, and other various places I've lived, I've had a hard time finding game buddies: People who want to watch the Word Series, or the World Cup, or the SuperBowl, or the Final Four, or the NBA Championships.
Generally I just get a shrug, sometimes a scoff, and on the rare occassion, actual scorn. The high-minded liberals especially love to point out the obvious paradox in being a fan and my political positions re: corporate greed, etc. And yet, with all that said, I don't want to seem to be defending my position, but rather, feel moved to write an apology of sorts for the art of the athlete. I am not one myself, but neither am I a painter, sculptor, etc., but I do love the game and the notion of excellence, the gift, and ultimately self-expression.
So when you see grown men running around chasing a ball, I see a man dedicated to the perfection of his craft. When you see a borderline childish fit, I see a mind and a will working to convince the body to perform, to overcome circumstance. Granted the great athletes are fewer and fewer, yet they are still there. Imagine my delight to see Kenny Rogers on the mound--still. I remember being a fan of his 20 years ago! He still works his ground game, he stays late and arrives early. All the greats had talent and skill but they also worked and worked hard: Magic, Clyde, Jordan, Bird.
My piano teacher once gave me a list of all the qualities that talent included but in the end, she said it came down to discipline. I've kept that note for over 28 years as a reminder, that with all my gifts and talents, which are many, the only true merit is in the discpline, which has been a long time in coming, if it has arrived at all. (That point is debatable I would imagine.)
So these men push themselves to become extraordinary and I admire them--despite the contradiction--or maybe because of it. They sacrifice being with their families on Thanksgiving so that I can sit on the couch and relax after gorging myself on stuffing. They sacrifice their bodies to a regimine that often cripples them in their old age. They hone their minds to the single-pointed stillness such that despite winning and losing, they can continue to go on and play another round, get up to the plate one more time, step up to the line.
Hats off to the athlete and the art of the game.
October in Austin--family, baseball, and other thoughts
Greetings from the Republic of Texas...I'm still here after spending the middle of the week with my family. It's strange how much you can love your family and how much you can be an adult in all other surroundings, but when you go home, old dynamics crop up and can ruin the whole thing if you let it. We didn't. But still, I always think it's just going to be relaxing and laid-back and somehow it never quite reaches that . . . but pretty close. I always make the mistake of bringing of politics; I always plan not to, but somehow the ugly beast arises despite all my good intentions. The funny thing is that I'm actually not that political, in that, I'm not republican or democrat. But just like physics, I like things explained and somehow I continue to fall under the delusion that political positions fall under the same rules. However, the laws of human behavior, though predictable and quantifiable, somehow never come under the same scrutiny or accountability as physical laws. It always comes back to rhetoric versus reality. We made it out alive!
On the lovlier side of a family visit, my mom put flowers in my room which was very touching and she made pies and we watched movies and of course, baseball....it's just fortuitous that I'm here because I've actually gotten to see some of the playoff games where at home I'd be at a loss--just checking the scores on line. How about game seven between the Cardinals and the Mets....You've got to hand it to the rookie, pulling it out with three men on base. Although I will admit I was disappointed for the Mets. How I got to be a NY fan is beyond me, but there it is. I also heard great stories from my nephew who've grown up to be amazing young men. I really like them.
Now I'm back in Austin and serving the course (and Gurucharan). I ironed 5 kirtas last night....my mother would be shocked -- and proud.
Mind and Meditation in Austin
Greetings All--I'm here in Austin to support the launch of the Mind and Meditation course for KRI and it's already been a whirlwind and I haven't even been here 24 hours yet!
Learned how to bookmark a DVD on a Mac...that's something new and even the mac people didn't know how to do it! Stayed up till 12:30 working on a process/game we're doing this morning for the course...with Jai Jot Kaur who's organizing the course here in Austin. We're having fun getting to know each other and I got to sleep in her little girl's room and feel like a princess--everything pink and sparkly.
And because I've been reading a lot of the women's teachings lately, I'm even wearing a chuni while I'm here! Doesn't hurt to try something every once in a while....
Another interesting development--I've become one of those people I used to make fun of; that is, I really miss my animals and when I was leaving yesterday I had to return to the house for something I'd forgotten, but really it was just an excuse to say goodbye to them again. Unbelievable!
It's cool and cloudy here, so evidently we brought the fall weather with us. More later!
Working Late and other thoughts on Politics, Pleasure, and Pomegranates
I'm not known for my work-aholism but we have a course coming up in two days and we're still in the process of putting the materials together! Yikes. So, not much reading, writing, or movies to report on. Just going home to crash and get up and do it all over again. However, I did hear an interesting fact this morning on the radio. I'm not a consumer of the news media, typically. I listen to the occasional weekend public radio spot; I sometimes get to catch Amy Goodman's show, and I read Salon fairly regularly. But other than that, I'm fairly out-of-touch. But it was comforting to find out that my instincts were on target, because one of the reasons I don't watch the news is that I feel like it's so biased that what's the point, right? Now, the cultural rhetoric in these days and times (end times did I hear you say?) is all about the "liberal media". So it was a relief to hear the facts this morning: ALL of the major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS and even PBS, along with CNN, MSNBC, and of course FOX) guests overwhelmingly represent the Republican position (60%-76% ACROSS THE BOARD). How about them apples?
Now to pleasure: Don't you just love the first snow? The first crisp and swift change in the seasons. The first new crop of apples. The end of figs and the beginning of clove tea and spice cake. I didn't grow up where you experienced seasons; instead you lived through cold fronts. So it could be 70 degrees and sunny on Christmas day--which sort of messes with the whole White Christmas thing. I love living here in the land of enchantment where you can actually feel the change in the seasons. Suddenly one morning, you need an extra blanket and you know to wear a wrap to work, because it will still be sunny and warm in the afternoons. Yum. The only downside to the change of seasons is that I'm susceptible to getting colds and flues. Something about my vata nature. So here's a recipe for chest colds and flues--preventing them that is.
Take a handful of black peppercorns and throw them in a pot of water. Boil and simmer. Once you've made your pepper tea--add a little bit of pomegranate juice and enjoy!
Happy Birthday Guru Ram Das
As a community here in Espanola, we celebrate Guru Ram Das' birthday in a big way. We have 11 days of chanting and eating in people's homes and then we end it with 2 1/2 hours of Guru Ram Das chanting the morning of his birthday--this morning.
It's been a powerful time for me and some of my friends. Things are opening up in mysterious, 'miraculous' ways. Opportunities arising; intuition being followed and revealing amazing things; hearts opening.
The weekend was filled with lots of singing; it's a wonder I have any voice left at all today. Lots more singing coming down the pike, too. I'm heading to Austin for the Mind and Meditation course and I've been asked to be a musician for the course there as well as just supporting it and taking notes. It's going to be a really busy 3 weeks and right now I'm soooo exhausted. I'm praying for a miracle.
A techie friend here created a url for a song I did at the rensabhai this summer. I'm going to try to load it here and see what happens--yeah? let me know.
And on this day, may your heart's desire be fulfilled in a beautiful way. And may it's fulfillment be a reassurance of grace and peace and the occassional miraculous space/time event--smile.http://withoutdefinition.com/Music/Sat_purkh/satpurkh.html
Once again it's been a while since I've written. Work is really hectic right now and the last time I sat down to write a book review, I just didn't have it in me. But here's a go at it:
Emporer's Children by Claire Messud
I've read Messud last two novels and she's definately a skilled wordsmith and storyteller. If you keep up with these things, then I don't need to tell you that this book has gotten a LOT of press, so you probably don't need to read my review of the book since there are literally about a dozen reviews out there and available right now in the press. However, I will say that I related to the generation she's writing about. Her first novel set in the United States, she explores the generation of children born in the late 60s and early 70s. Most of us are children of successful people who overcame a lot to be who they are--and if not, we were at least raised with the idea that we could be and do anything we wanted. The freedom of the 70s, the extravagance and materialism of the 80s and the opportunities of the 90s all laid at our feet. I related to the pressure to be "somebody" and the sometimes impotence in the face of that perceived pressure. I related to the failure, the self-destruction, and also the hard work. The children of the generation that changed everything but was impotent to change their own children or themselves.
This is a story well told. In fact, I believe she's the only living writer that can pull in the 9/11 tragedy and have any nuance or sensitivity, that is, make it work. There is a line in this late part of the novel that so indelibly marks that time period: "nothing will ever be the same." And yet, it is. As we knew it would be in time. Now, I wasn't in New York during this crises nor have I visited the site--and I don't mean to diminish the experiences of actual survivors and families of those who died, of course their lives are irrevocably changed--however, life went on and continues to go on. At the time of 9/11 I found the rhetoric of "nothing will ever be the same" unbelievable, and yet, there is a sense of gravity in the air.
So maybe I've been wrong. Maybe nothing will ever be the same. We shall see.