Music Video Excellence: OK Go – This Too Shall Pass – Rube Goldberg Machine Video

4 02 2011

If you are not one of the 24,000,000 people who have already seen this YouTube Video… then I wanna “turn you on” to one of the coolest music videos I have ever seen. It was shot as one continuous take, without any editing whatsoever. This amazing video was orchestrated with help of a group of MIT students. No surprise.

So click to watch: OK Go – This Too Shall Pass – Rube Goldberg Machine version – Official Video

Wow. Something else isn’t it!? I would say that this video represents excellence of sorts, wouldn’t you? If you’re interested, you gotta read the background to this song & video detailed in WIKI.

Also, you can check out the WIKI reference for the band, “OK Go” who wrote and performed the song. They have done some other amazing, continuous take music videos. The treadmill one is notable.

I love excellence whenever I see it. I don’t see it often. Of course, God exhibits it habitually in nature, particularly in the majesty of a mountain range or a during a spectacular sunset. Perhaps there is excellence in an engineering or artistic marvel, I just can’t think of anything offhand. I’ll admit that a brilliantly lit city scape is sometimes awe inspiring. There is a type of excellence found in the innocence of a baby’ spontaneous laughter. I think the contour of a nude female figure is God’s latest and best work. Beauty reflects God’s excellence.

Notwithstanding, I very rarely experience excellence of a man made kind. I have consistently encountered it during the handful of cirques I’ve attended. The show is the epitome of excellence in theatrical performance, choreography, music, costumes, make-up… sprinkled with a smidgen of avant-garde and the bizarre. If you haven’t been to one, they are a definitely a must see. Check out their website for a show near you.Cirque Du Soleil

My favorite one is “O”, which is currently playing at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

I must say, however, that none of the videos I have seen of the Cirque do justice to the actual performance. I’ve been dreaming of taking a “Cirque” holiday in Vegas and seeing one a day, all week long. All SEVEN! Yeah.


Determining a realistic sense of self worth, in spite of circumstances

26 01 2011

Your perception of yourself matters the most

Those of us who come from than ideal childhoods, usually struggle with low self esteem. The messages we received as kids may have communicated that we weren’t valuable at all (neglect) or that our only value was to fulfill some function or need for others (abuse). Thus, there was little or no intrinsic value in us, as individuals.

Love ourselves is fundamental to loving others

These messages, integrated early into our psyches, are very difficult (but not impossible) to undo as adults. Perhaps one of the most daunting tasks in the journey of personal development, is to learn self esteem and self love. However, I am convinced, it is fundamental to our capacity to enjoy life, live healthily and love others.

The problem is, despite what some self help literature declares, we really can’t do this by ourselves. Rebuilding a realistic sense of self worth is more than looking at ourselves in the mirror and remarking, “my, what a handsome devil you are!” On the other hand, depending upon others to provide us a realistic mirror, is dangerous. It is not wise to allow any one person to have the power to define (or redefine) us.

One of 104 Sculptures from my ArtObjex exhibit. If you are interested in seeing others, just click on this photo.

I know, as a “co-dependent” i often looked into my significant others eyes, to confirm or negate my “ok-ness”. If the mirror reflected approval, I was o.k. If the mirror reflected scorn, or even subtle hints of rejection or doubt, I was thrown into psychological crisis. My anchor was gone. I was (again) lost in the sea of self doubt and low self esteem.

We must maintain connection with ourselves, our community and our God to get and stay sane

At some point though, after being severely buffeted by years of cruel, needless shame and self recrimination, I was forced to take a stand. A line in the sand as it were. For me it was expressed in the words of my very first tattoo which declared, “No Fear, No Shame. In Jesus Name, Free To Love.”

In a recent conversation with my 22 year old son Isaac, he mentioned that, “he was only as strong as the men he was standing besides”. I don’t believe I can stand alone in my declaration to love myself. Neither will I allow any one person to ever define who I am. Raw independence doesn’t work. That epitomizes arrogance, narcissism and grandiosity. Pathological dependency and pathetic neediness sucks too. Reflected in someone who is afraid to act and live out their own unique identity.

The issue, I believe, is a spiritual one (I don’t mean religious!). We (me) must cultivate a dynamic daily connection with ourselves, our chosen community and our the God of our understanding. Two out of three won’t work. We must have all three legs of the chair… to avoid continually picking ourselves off the ground after painful falls.

The “Watch Out for Whitey” diet- Avoiding hidden white flour, sugar & fat

19 01 2011

Watch out for Whitey, they will kill you. Kill you dead.

I’ve been on lots of diets. Lost 40 pounds twice. 20 pounds several times. Been up and down 10 pounds more times then i can remember. I’ve done Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Adkins. I’ve watched fat. Counted Calories. Avoided Carbs. Been on the look out for high glycemic foods. Taken supplements, pills, shakes, bars. I’ve fasted, binged, refrained, indulged. Felt guilty, felt satiated. “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” You too?

In trying to come up with a plan that I can incorporate into my life that will pull from the collective wisdom i have gleaned over the years, I recently thought up of the “Watch Out for Whitey” diet. After all most “bad” things are white. White flour. White sugar. Fat. Salt. The closer to white it gets, the worse it is for you. Like corn and rice and butter. Brown rice, good. White rice, bad. You think corn is yellow, but really it’s white too. Just look at popcorn. Corn just wears a yellow jacket. Butter is colored yellow, but it’s natural color, before food coloring is added, is white.

Whitey craftily hides out in foods that don’t appear to be white but upon closer examination are mostly white flour, white sugar, white salt and white fat… just dressed up, colored, with a few decorative nuts and spices included. Then they package it with deceptive declarations that boast of “low fat”, vitamin enriched, “light”, diet. Really its still 99% whitey. I won’t even get into additives and artificial sweeteners.

It’s really all a carefully crafted and integrated conspiracy. The government heavily subsidizes corn growers, from whence we get the killers high fructose corn syrup and corn oil… that make up the myriad of corn based products that comprise 70% of everything that occupies the average supermarket. Fast food chains depend upon this abnormally low (government manipulated) source of goods.

The medical industry relies upon the parade of disease that is propagated by highly processed foods and convenience foods while insurance companies continue to hike rates. Then we spend an additional 6 billion dollars just trying to diet; because of how bad we feel after watching endless commercials that feature sexy, thin, in-shape models.

Yes, government, fast food, medicine, insurance, advertising, book sellers and diet peddlers all depend upon us continuing to eat and live like dumb beasts. And, who typically runs these organizations? Who is at the top of this destructive and disease propagating pyramid? Who is in control? Hmmm.

Bottom-line, “White ain’t Right.” My new diet plan is real simple. “Watch Out for Whitey”. He’s hiding everywhere. He’s trying to kill me to be sure. Trying to make me sick and take my money while he’s doing it. He’s made me blind and dumb and addicted to the shit he peddles from every street corner. He’s robbing our youth of health and strength. Whitey is bad news. Watch out!

THE sweetest, sexiest WORD ever… is the wonderful, affirmative word YES!

15 01 2011

Whether in romance, in prayer, in sales, in comedy or simply in life in general. One word, one singular undiluted response is the sweetest refrain one can experience. The word “yes”.

You work, you worry, your wrestle this way or that way to sell your product to a prospect. Most times, they come back to you with some objection; an alternative price, a product with different features, or just put you off ’till a later time. Bottom line, it’s just “no” packaged nicely.

You pray, for yourself or another. Throw your bequest up into the sky hoping for a favorable response. Most times, unless you got some special dispensation that most of us don’t, you don’t get any direct, immediate response. And, of course, no response is a negative response.

Gee, romance. How many of us have been turned down in hundreds of subtle or not so subtle ways when we make advances. For most of us, it only takes a faint, less than enthusiastic response to douse the spark of desire within. Romance is particularly sensitive to negation.

When I studied improvisational comedy, there was only ONE rule. It was the rule of agreement. The quickest way to kill an improv routine, is negation. The best way to move it forward is by going with whatever you’re presented with. Total, uninhibited “buy in”, without hesitation or exception.

Saddest of all, many of us say “no” to life in overt or subtle ways. We draw back from opportunities that life presents us to grow, to change, to experience a broader, more abundant life. We negate life through worry, through strict routine, through control, through addictions, through whatever distractions we court.

I once announced to my now ex-wife, when we were struggling to stay together or separate, that she could save our marriage with one word. “YES”. Perhaps neither of us had the capacity to live a wholehearted “yes”. One thing I believe; too many “no”s, over too long kills the spirit, breaks the heart, slays hope.

Ultimately though, it is not the parade of NOs we may receive from prospects, or lovers, or friends, or even God that defeats us. It is the NOs we perpetrate upon ourselves. We must do our best to say “yes” to life, “yes” to love, “yes” to God’s offerings of grace, however they may be packaged. Yes to the people in our lives, accepting them exactly like they are.

One of my favorite lines in the movie “Shawshank Redemption”; A message of hope, but also a challenge.

Striking the Rock. Crazy making attempts to motivate the unmotivated.

3 01 2011

Motivating (non-motivated) people is a difficult task

In an attempt to live on my houseboat this winter, I decided to do necessary (and simple) remodeling to my houseboat.  I turned to Craigslist for a potential handyman.  The first (and therefore deemed most responsive) one showed up eager and apparently knowledgable. The job was estimated to take 1-2 days and cost several hundred dollars.

Things seemed to go well for the first day, the deconstruction day, wherein my bathroom, floor and walls were dismantled and stacks of debris were piled all over the houseboat.  Trouble began the second day when my contractor arrived late, said materials were more expensive than he estimated (thus wanted more money) and left early to attend to some other emergency.

As the weeks passed the simple several hundred dollar job has expanded to almost $2,000.  I have been virtually evicted from my boat for almost two months.  I estimate that he has promised me 17 times that “all the work would be wrapped up by ____” (usually the next day or two).

Suffice to say I feel nuts.  I’ve tried both the carrot and the stick.  My part in the situation is: 1. I hired a non-referred workman from Craigslist.  2. I gave him 90% of the money up front.  3. I have no firm contract.  4.  I am naive about these things.

The worst thing is that the reason I suspended my normally suspicious nature -wherein I would have employed more scrutiny and  vigilance – was because of his sob story about his chronically sick (and dying) wife.  I felt sorry for him.  So I got dumb.  Reached into my wallet, pulled out cash.  Not just once, twice, but a handful of times.

I have experienced  many emotions about this issue over the last two months from outrage, to compassion, to self-pity to depression.  I’m not sure how the situation will be ultimately resolved.  I do feel – writing this blog – that it was not so much an error in judgement that I guilty of as a over abundance of mercy.  In the long run, maybe losing a thousand dollars and being inconvenienced for a month or two is worth that awareness.  I’d rather be merciful and occasionally taken advantage of… than be an anal tyrant who never gets taken.  Then again, there may be a gray zone somewhere in-between.

I don’t get why God got so upset at Moses for striking the rock… instead of just speaking to it.   Rocks usually don’t respond that well whether you yell at them or hit them.  I guess people don’t either.  Maybe the point is: don’t go to a rock expecting water.  There is a saying in Alanon that “you don’t go to a hardware store looking for a loaf of bread”.  I guess I have learned that you should never go to Craigslist looking for a good workman… or true love.

Encountering Resistance- Trying to find a kinder, gentler path to changing behavior

1 01 2011

Meet resistance with persistance

It’s the first day of a new year; 1.1.11. This morning I was plagued by the thorn filled consciousness of a handful of ongoing situations wherein my desires and needs have been blocked by my own or others refusal to yield.

The workman on my houseboat who has assured me at least a dozen times that his repair work would be completed “tomorrow” for the last 2 months. A friend /business associate who ignores my email /phone requests over the last 8 months to do needed work on my website. Then there are things like getting my kids to clean up after themselves or take a “suggested” and reasonable course of action – like not smoking weed or doing their homework.

Then there’s me. My own refusal or procrastination in doing things that are needed or required. Wether it is attending to my health (by making and keeping medical or dental appointments), exercising (of ay type or kind), repairing or maintaining my vehicles, writing, or putting “feet” to my financial or vocational objectives.

I’ve been wrestling with these obstacles for quite a while now. I’ve been frustrated. Gotten angry. Been depressed and hopeless. Launched short lived campaigns. All without much success.

So this morning, I came up with a new strategy (really not new since it is inherent in many of the martial arts I’ve studied). Water, yields to the rock but continues its relentless path. I must remain resolute and persistent to my intentions yet flexible and yielding when I encounter unmoving roadblocks. How to get my way by gentle persistence, without beating my head against the rock.

Well, I’ll try it out anyway. It has to be better then this constant bloodletting.

Baby Steps- New Years Declarations broken down into small, workable segments

31 12 2010

I believe that the "process" will take me someplace positive

I have wrestled with coming up with a workable strategy to birth ongoing change in my life. I honed down my wish list of 10 declarations that I’d like to see emerge in 2011, to 3; Writing, Working Out, Work (for $$). Ultimately I am not in control of the outcome, but I am responsible to put in the effort. Woody Allen is credited with the quote, “90% of life is just showing up”.

Therefore, my plan is to show up 100 times in each of the areas i want to see progress in during this next year. 100 “sessions” of writing. 100 trips to the gym or an exercise class. 100 attempts at venues to generate $$. I’m planning to get some cool stickers to put on a calendar to keep track of my progress. Maybe come up with some appropriate rewards for hitting bench marks along with way.

Yes, I believe that the process will take me somewhere positive, even if the destination remains foggy at the present.

Baby steps, baby.