“Stay Weird”

September 1, 2015. In the past couple of weeks, this gem of a 4-minute video from Canada has been doing its rounds on the web. It’s a video posted as a farewell by the CBC Radio show “Wiretap” which ended after 11 seasons. Created by Jonathan Goldstein, a former producer of This American Life, WireTap invited audiences to “eavesdrop on a mix of funny, thoughtful, and unpredictable stories and conversations.” The Montreal Gazette called the show “something between borscht-belt comedy and Franz Kafka.”

“How to Age Gracefully” was originally an episode that kicked off the show’s tenth season on September 6, 2013. In it, people between the ages of 5 years to 90 years old shared their wisdom about growing up — and it was as witty as powerful. Goldstein remarked that the concept seemed to have stuck with people; so he and the show’s team decided the best send-off would be to invite listeners down to the CBC and make the premise of that episode into a video. 

If my readers get the chance, do pick up a copy of Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert’s book “Stumbling on Happiness.” Among its many insightful observations there is one that perhaps correctly notes that each individual person may think that he/she is utterly unique (which in a sense everyone is at a DNA level) but in truth how we feel or question or ruminate later in life in fact can and will be very, very similar in manner and kind to those who are like us in personality, but are much older than us. So a good way to deduce how your future self may feel/regret/question/wonder is by asking someone who is older than you, yet with a similar outlook, attitude, profession, upbringing, preferences and belief system, and find out how they feel at their age and what they would have told their younger selves.

In that sense, other than its charming premise and real life characters, the video “How to age gracefully” is a simple, minimalist yet powerful and poignant philosophical vignette shining a light on existentialism and what it means to grow up or grow old or to keep “growing” with age.

Make sure to watch till the very end ;)


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Sleeping Gypsies and Stolen Newscasters

The Sleeping Gypsy and the Stolen Newsreader

The end of January, New York, New York. So. Alas, I have been tardy with my posts the past month or so but, for good reason. Due to the insane incompetence of a printing company that diddle-dawdled uselessly for 10 months (that’s right TEN months) of hair-splitting unprofessionalism and  lack of accountability and made a complete botch-job of a dear person’s beloved book project – I found myself starting mid-Dacember, 2012, working day and night to finish the typesetting, layout, design, copy-editing, proof-reading, and printing of a book.  From December 12 – through to January 11, guitarist Alex Skolnick and I worked our butts off to make sure that the release date (which had to be pushed back due to the previous firm’s incompetency) would be honored. He had written the book between 2008-2011 and it is a good 380 pages long. And a captivating read.

The book in itself is great – witty and introspective, Skolnick being a natural writer with an engaging, neurotic yet introspective style – and I shall be placing a review of it shortly on this blog, hopefully next month. It is the true-life memoir of one of the world’s greatest guitarists who started as a shy, awkward, introverted geeky kid – born into a family of Ivy League professor parents – who rebelled against his authoritarian father by becoming a heavy metal musician, before turning his skills to jazz. To know more on this book – before my objective review is posted – go to the book’s site: GEEKTOGUITARHERO.COM There’s a ton of stuff there – advance reviews, book synopsis, videos of his virtuoso playing (http://geektoguitarhero.com/music-videos/)and photographs and clippings from the book launch. Information on how to buy the book is also on that site.

Which brings me to the next part of this post. In a very touching speech prior to the musical piece featured in the following video, maestro Alex Skolnick (who plays jazz, metal, rock and world music with equal ease and virtuoso) thanked me for my help in getting the book together and printed in time for its release. And then he launched into this beautiful piece which he’d composed for me last summer……how touching is that? (Of course, as a fact geek I must mention that The Sleeping Gypsy (French: La Bohémienne endormie) is also an 1897 oil painting by French Naïve artist Henri Rousseau. It is a fantastical depiction of a lion musing over a gypsy woman sleeping in the moonlight.) But in this case (and I shall later get the video for the first part of this piece – the reason for Alex’s performance which he explains in the speech), the epithet is applied to the composition where the Gypsy sleeps in the first part of the piece and then awakens.

So here it is: “Sleeping Gypsy”- composed for yours truly – the Gipsy Geek – by the author of his new book “Geek to Guitar Hero.” It is a book not just for  music lovers and/or geeks and/or INTJs but, as the author has written in its foreword – “To anyone who has ever felt confused, alienated and isolated while growing up: let this story show that if you stay true to your goals and make the right choices, no matter how difficult, then things have a way of working out.”

 (Sleeping Gypsy by Alex Skolnick’s Planetary Coalition -best watched and heard in HD setting.)

Once again, check out the main website of “Geek to Guitar Hero” here: http://geektoguitarhero.com/

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And so, to end the month, a necessary non-sequitur. And that is the end of the news. Until next time.

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Looney Tunes – Just Mooning!

The lunatic is on the grass
The lunatic is on the grass
Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs
Got to keep the loonies on the path
The lunatic is in the hall
The lunatics are in my hall
The paper holds their folded faces to the floor
And every day the paper boy brings more
And if the dam breaks open many years too soon
And if there is no room upon the hill
And if your head explodes with dark forbodings too
I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon
The lunatic is in my head
The lunatic is in my head
You raise the blade, you make the change
You re-arrange me ’till I’m sane
You lock the door
And throw away the key
There’s someone in my head but it’s not me.
And if the cloud bursts, thunder in your ear
You shout and no one seems to hear
And if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes
I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon

To all ye spammers – a Pythonesque April’s Fool

To all ye spammers – a Pythonesque April’s Fool

(the subtitles are for the foreign language spammers, since I got a few spams in Russian and Polish as well.)

Since starting this blog just a year ago, I feel lucky to have received hundreds of thousands of reads (and ever growing numbers each day), hundreds of valid comments from genuine readers, and personal heartfelt e-mails sent directly. I know – numbers could be made even higher through active advertising, ‘fan-pages’, soliciting etc., but I have consciously not done so, and feel very blessed that keeping an independent opinion-piece blog where I consciously decided not to place celebrity-gossip or fashion ‘tips’ or some loud, raving ideology still attracted many wonderful readers. A big thank-you of gratitude for putting up with my ramblings, and to those readers who placed links of some of my articles on boards in the Telegraph, the Guardian, the Huffington Post, the Village Voice and on various blogrolls.

But on April Fool’s Day – I’m going to dedicate this one post to the THOUSANDS of spam mail I get. Thank you, thank you, thank you Akismet for your highly effective spam filter – I get around 10,000 spam comments a month and would have gone insane if this filter did not exist.

No, dear spam sites, I do NOT need a penis enlargement (in fact the last time I checked, I did not even have a penis), I don’t need to know all the benefits of acai berry, be concerned with Justin Bieber’s hair, or ‘boost seminal fluid naturally’, pop ‘testosterone pills’, need ‘starwars games’ (actually that one’s nice, but sorry – you’re a spammer so I can’t place your comment), go to a site for ‘saving accounts rates’ and ‘mortgage rates’, need your ‘anxiety exercises’, nor your ‘penis pump’, or view different variations of ‘free porn’. My colon is doing just fine, thank you – and doesn’t need your ‘colon cleansing equipment’. I’m also not going on your ‘online casino’, nor do I need ‘relationship advice for Christian women’, I’m reticent to imagine what ‘free slots’ exactly means, and my boobs are doing just fine, merci beaucoup!  I think I will also skip the ‘Hitachi magic wand’ whatever that means. These and countless other solicitors that send spam about cars, colons, games, houses, sex organs and many other ‘items’ – this post is for you for all the trouble you took to jam my spambox.

Hence I offer you, my dear spammers, Monty Python’s ‘spam, spam, spam, spam, spam and spam.’ And perhaps, only on this particular post, I’m tempted to place your spam comments, but on second thoughts – NO – it’s going to take away all the good ones in the ‘recent comments’ list on my side bar. So – I appreciate your efforts to sneak in, and your tenacity. But darn – you’re tenaciously irritating. And I can’t thank WordPress’ Akismet filter enough.

April – here I come. A Happy April to all my readers from this gipsy, geeky  Fool.

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The knights of Akismet Spam Blocker who have protected my blog from spammers.

For a list of all posts, published so far:  https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com/index-of-articles/

11.1.’11

New York, 11.1.’11. A passing thought: In times of sadness and sickness, despair and drudgery, we all have the right to look for comfort and love in our dear ones, whisper prayers for our near ones – but at the end of the day, for the last several decades, even the most irrational amongst people consciously or subconsciously know (or SHOULD know – no matter how much they might deny truth or the contribution of the brilliant geek minds of the world) that when a dear one is lying in the hospital, a victim of a virus or of violence, it is not a ‘Power’ in the skies that lessens that patient’s suffering, but the brains and skills and conscious decisions of a doctor or a surgeon who has spend countless hours and years learning in med school and using the medicines and biomedical instruments that other researchers have spend years inventing and perfecting. Often unknown. Unnamed. Unacknowledged. But it is to them we owe so much of our longevity today.

Less than 150 years back, the average man lived about 40 to 45 years (perhaps the reason mid-life crisis occurs so much in the past 150 years is because we have doubled our life expectancies?) And in all the years since, and centuries afore, there have been no dearth of believers or preachers:  But for many many decades now, even the mullah of the mosque, the Pope of the church, the Lama of Tibet, the rabbi of the synagogue and the priest of a temple –  each when he is sick or injured – rushes to be aided by……..Who?  Think…….who? As much as they may preach to their flock that their life belongs to the heavens (yes, even while some of them are molesting young boys behind, or shouting decrees of death in the ‘honour’ of the prophet, or cashing in on huge monetary donations and basking in glorified attention from enraptured Hollywood celebrities)  those preachers and teachers, leaders and ‘seekers’, in times of sickness go where they know they’ve a better chance at Life:  Yes – they go to those often unnamed, unmentioned practitioners of real medical science and research. If faith could move mountains and heal bullet wounds, if prayers could remove tumours and stitch broken arteries, then why rush to a hospital or an ER, ‘stead of a prayer house, Mr. Preacher?

And before ye television and tabloid lappers dumb down  in mass delusion in the supermarket checkout aisles, staring at the mind-numbing  now-omnipresent Kardashians and Snookis of the world, or hearing the raving ranting power-crazy Becks and other apocalypse-yelling loonies, remember instead, nay – you should THANK  gratefully, humbly instead, those silent rational men who invented penicillin; insulin;  aspirin; the vaccines for cholera, TB, polio and small pox; the x-ray machine; the electron microscope; the fMRI scanner; and much, much more; the epidural to ease the labour pains of childbirth before you show your belly to the world  – you media-whore Kate of 8 or the other Ms. freakshow octamom. I would rather know the names and stories of those men and women who silently slogged and worked in laboratories so we could live longer, better, healthier. And suffer not from ignorance while lessening physical pain. Yes, peace of mind can be attributed to many varied factors – real or imagined; And there are many words of genuine wisdom and beautiful quotations  seen in ancient scriptures. And nothing (yes not even an imaginary ‘power’) can replace genuine love, peace, authenticity and integrity. If anything, there should be much more of those latter four qualities in the world. But when it comes to trusting your ill health to be healed faster and the darkness of disease to be banished, it’s the  discoveries of Science you should thank, snitches.

(Hey – and don’t forget to thank the computer geeks of the world due to whom you can use the internet.)

http://xkcd.com/836/ (Thank you, Randall Munroe for your wit and your message, and wishing you strength through your time.)

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An ode to scientist Carl Sagan : (Here) Billions of Stars, Billions of sports fans.

Hell-O-Whiny & Hollow Weiner

CAN ‘SANITY’ BE RESTORED AGAINST THOSE HALLOWEEN-WORTHY  ‘FOX’ HORROR MASKS?

Tomorrow, October 30th, 2010, at noon the Jon Stewart-and-Stephen Colbert -organized Rally to Restore Sanity will commence. Alas, by the time I checked on the free buses, they were full and all the commercial buses  and trains had sold-out tickets. I’d have attended the gathering more to get a first-hand view and because I think that quite a few American late-night comedians have far greater wit, intelligence and rational wisdom than most news channels in the US, and especially far higher IQs and healthier mental  capacities than the psychopathic escaped loonies who inhabit the Fox news desks.

The Rally to Restore Sanity started in jest as a counter-rally to the one that Fox  show anchor – the rabid, clinically narcissistic-and-borderline-patient Glenn Beck – had called in DC earlier which he termed as the Rally to restore Honor. (You see, Beck in his vitriolic rage had misspelled ‘Horror’.) Anyhoo – if you are not convinced about the IQ levels of the self-aggrandizing neo-Nazi tactics of recovered-drug-addict-turned-Mormon-turned-paranoid-power-addict-cult-leader Beck and the other shady characters that dominate Fox news and its massive outreach, see for yourself in this  BBC say-it-as-it-is Charlie Brooker analysis:

Believe it or not, Charlie hasn’t included the most nauseating and hate-mongering clips of Reily and Beck.

Fox news is insanely popular in the Southern states, and in my two years in Florida, the angriest people I came across, religiously followed it. These were the same ones who worshiped Bush  Jr. and had supported the Fox-news-led infamous Florida recount that had stolen Al Gore’s 2000 Presidential win and inserted Bush into the White House in what would become eight years of economic, military, environmental and greed-and-war-infested horrors and financial debts leading to the Great Recession – the legacy of which the world is still recovering from, and for which President Obama is still trying to clean up the mess.

Fox-news-supporting groups of course call intellectuals and the east-coast intelligentsia as ‘elitists’ and non-right-wingers as “commies.” Now, I’m no “Commie” (although I do have a socialist chip from my mother’s side of the family, and without name dropping, the only ‘hint’ I’ll give is that that ‘chip’ in both Sweden and Britain contains the name ‘Palme’. But they were good socialist leaders.) Instead, I do believe that the benefits of democracy and capitalism – HEALTHY and ETHICAL capitalism, that is – are far better than what other regimes have  achieved. I do not believe in the Either-Or extreme views of both extreme capitalism or extreme socialism as being sustainable alternatives, but hope that in a just world a healthy balance between capitalism and socialism can exist, and where respect for environmental and ecological health holds the strongest foundation.

I also believe that any system devoid of truth and health at its roots will ultimately rot and that such systems cause incalculable damage to people’s minds and a nation’s objectivity. And the rabid rantings of the Fox -trot Trio are most certainly unhealthy and hate-mongering propaganda. They like burying objective facts, exaggerating emotions, convert feelings-to-facts and display rage-fits like irrational people suffering from borderline personality disorder (not much unlike the rants of Khrushchev & Stalin – the real commies, and not much unlike the gesticulations of Hitler – the fascist.  Not surprisingly, in pure borderline disorder ‘projection’ the very qualities they themselves possess, i.e. behaving like the power-hungry Stalin and the hate-hungry Hitler are the qualities the Fox news trio of Hannity-Beck-Reily venomously attribute to Obama. In fact Glenn Beck alarmingly thoroughly studied both Hitler’s works and Mormonism. It shows. It shows. Don’t let his baby-face fool you. This man is a clinical narcissist and although I’m a US resident, the day he and the other giddy-girl Palin come to power, I’m moving to Canada. The way I see it – I’d rather freeze my arse in a Canadian winter than be ruled by arses in some future Palin-Beck cuckoo-land.)

Last week, on a stroll in mid-town Manhattan I saw some Green Party activists peacefully protest outside the Fox News headquarters on 6th Avenue. They also distributed fliers with actual quotes that the ‘stars’ of Fox had ranted on TV and radio – an unbelievable array of racist, homophobic, unscientific, uninhibited, rather pathetic, hate-filled quotes that I have decided not to waste time typing and giving space or breath more than they already occupy on air. Instead, I’m enclosing photos I took of some of the activists who voiced their concern against the Foxists:

A protester holds a banner in front of New York’s Fox News headquarter

A peaceful protest against Fox news media on the Avenue of the Americas, NYC Oct 23, 2010.

Protest against Fox news’ hate-mongering

Due to President Obama’s paternal Black ancestery, Fox news has always resorted to racist rants against him and other people of color.

A protester against Fox News’ rabid rants hold up a poster. Avenue of the Americas, NYC, Oct 23, 2010

Truly, sometimes I wish the sound engineers and cameramen at Fox, would just walk out as the Becks, Hannities and Reily’s go on air. Then we’d see if their rants and attention-craving hatred is possible without the devices invented by the REAL brains of the world – the men who invented the microphone, the camera, studio lights, television monitors or the satellites that relay their bile-bearing babble. I’d like to see how the Becks of the world can exist without the science-loving, peace-loving inventors of the world – the ones they call the ‘left-wing elitists’ – the ones whose inventions of telecommunications and electronics they rely on as they preach their Mormonsim and hatred of humanity disguised as ‘love for their countrymen’ not much different than the fake ideologies of ‘country love’ preached by Stalin and Hitler. The only ‘good’ is that the trio are still comparatively (but only comparatively) harmless and civilized than radical head-chopping Islamic militants – who I may add, are also extremists and not representative of  the majority of followers of that religion.

But then, head-chopping is not this trio’s style, really. Head-numbing is more like it.

Here’s hoping that Stewart’s Rally goes on peacefully and sanely. Why is it necessary? Probably most because in an orgy of political correctness, the only ones making noise are always the irrational, the angry and the extremists. And the voices of rationality and sanity are often drowned in the cacophony of crap. On that last bit, I read on a CNN report that that indeed might become the only  ‘issue’ in the Rally to Restore Sanity:

But things could turn to insanity when it comes to the bathroom situation.

Rally organizers are having trouble finding portable toilets for those attending, WTOP.com reports. Their event occurs the day before the Marine Corps Marathon, and organizers of that event have locked the 800 they have rented until Sunday morning.

– CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/10/29/sanity.rally/index.html?hpt=Sbin)

Hmmm. Hopefully things will be solved to find a sanitary solution to a Sanity rally. But hey! At least it doesn’t stink like Beck’s verbal farts. Darn – if they had only invented Pepto-Bismal* for verbal (and mental) diarrhea. I’d have sent him a lifetime’s supply. Maybe the “elitist, left-wing commies” at Harvard and MIT and Cornell Med should invent some ;-)

*Beckto-Dismal – a pill to prevent paranoid irrational on-camera rantings and severe attention-seeking ploys resorting to lies, hatred and psychological projection, a condition that seems to afflict Glenn Beck (Hollow Weiner), Bill O Reily (Hell-O-Whiny) and other clinical narcissists and cult leaders and their followers and those who don’t need  masks for Halloween.

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Why Glenn Beck IS dangerous: I’m not alone in my comparisons of Beck’s strategies akin to Hitler and Stalin. Today I found many European publications have already noted the similarities, considering Europe is far more sensitive to the signs that shook it. An Economist article showing just how dangerous Beck really is : Pass this on folks. http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2010/10/his_struggle

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Need a sane healthy laugh? A fellow wordpress blogger has made an extensive list of the witty signs that actual attendees of the ‘Sanity Rally’ carried….what a relief to see some real sane wit and humour ‘stead of the paranoia promoted by Beck’s ‘Horror Rally’! http://rallythecause.com/2010/10/31/rally-to-restore-sanity-fear-colbert-stewart-signs/

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Come September !

AUTUMN IN NEW YORK: I just moved to New York City (Manhattan’s Upper East side) a week back, so the posts will be slow to come till I get settled and can surface from the dozens of boxes that still have to be sorted out. As I feel my nose around and hear about the construction business in the city and leaf through this wonderful little gem of a graphic book ‘The Building of Manhattan” (http://www.amazon.com/Building-Manhattan-Donald-Mackay/dp/0060916036) by the incredibly detailed  Canadian-American  illustrator Donald Mackay (click on the name to learn more), the following joke that had been doing its rounds for a while comes to mind, as any architect and engineer knows, if the client is  a hypothetical ‘God’:

If  Noah had lived in the United States today the story may have gone something like this: And the Lord spoke to Noah and said, “In one year, I am going to make it rain and cover the whole earth with water until all flesh is destroyed. But I want you to save the righteous people and two of every kind of living thing on earth. Therefore, I am commanding you to build an Ark.”

In a flash of lightning, God delivered the specifications for an Ark. In fear and trembling, Noah took the plans and agreed to build the ark. “Remember,” said the Lord, “you must complete the Ark and bring everything aboard in one year.”

Exactly one year later, fierce storm clouds covered the earth and all the seas of the earth went into a tumult. The Lord saw that Noah was sitting in his front yard weeping. “Noah!” He shouted. “Where is the Ark?”

“Lord, please forgive me,” cried Noah. “I did my best, but there were big problems. First, I had to get a permit for construction, and your plans did not meet the building codes. I had to hire an architecture firm and redraw the plans. Then I got into a fight with OSHA over whether or not the Ark needed a sprinkler system and approved floatation devices. Then, my neighbor objected, claiming I was violating zoning ordinances by building the Ark in my front yard, so I had to get a variance from the city planning commission. Then, I had problems getting enough wood for the Ark, because there was a ban on cutting trees to protect the Spotted Owl. I finally convinced the U.S. Forest Service that I really needed the wood to save the owls. However, the Fish and Wildlife Service won’t let me take the 2 owls. The carpenters formed a union and went on strike. I had to negotiate a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board before anyone would pick up a saw or hammer. Now, I have 16 carpenters on the Ark, but still no owls. When I started rounding up the other animals, an animal rights group sued me. They objected to me taking only two of each kind aboard. This suit is pending. Meanwhile, the EPA notified me that I could not complete the Ark without filing an environmental impact statement on your proposed flood. They didn’t take very kindly to the idea that they had no jurisdiction over the conduct of ‘God’. Then, the Army Corps of Engineers demanded a map of the proposed flood plain. I sent them a globe. Right now, I am trying to resolve a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that I am practicing discrimination by not taking atheists aboard. The IRS has seized my assets, claiming that I’m building the Ark in preparation to flee the country to avoid paying taxes. I just got a notice from the state that I owe them some kind of user tax and failed to register the Ark as a ‘recreational water craft’. And finally, the ACLU got the courts to issue an injunction against further construction of the Ark, saying that since God is flooding the earth, it’s a religious event, and, therefore unconstitutional. I really don’t think I can finish the Ark for another eight or ten years!!” Noah wailed.

The sky began to clear, the sun began to shine, and the seas began to calm. A rainbow arched across the sky. Noah looked up at the Lord bewildered. “You mean you’re not going to destroy the earth, Lord?” “No,” He said sadly. “I don’t have to. Beauracracy already has.”

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The Flatiron Building, Manhattan, from MacKay’s illustrated book. Had today’s zoning and other beauracratic laws been followed this building could never have been built.

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