Archives for the month of: December, 2006

Below is something Jack Grapes, LA Writer and Teacher Beyond Measure, sent in an email to his cronies near and far. Read every word reader. Have good days! esther

Hi,What a wonderful article in yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) TIMES, Calendar section, about KarenMoncrieff, who was part of the Collective a few years back. She turnedsome of her “self-indulgent” journal entries into her first featurefilm titled “Blue Car,” — about a troubled young woman who enters apoetry contest. The film was purchased in 2003 at Sundance and exitedthe festival as one of the year’s so-called buzz items. The film wenton to garner numerous positive reviews. The article in yesterday TIMESis about her second feature, “The Dead Girl,” which she again wroteand direceted. It premiered last month as part of AFI Fest, and ismade up of five vignettes, [to quote the Times reviewer] “each a delicately heartbreaking portrait ofquiet resolve and small steps forward as it follows largelydisconnected characters whose lives are all in some way catalyzed bythe muder of a drug-addicted prostitute.” The film stars ToniCollette, Brittany Murphy, Mary Beth Hurt, James Franco, etc. Thefilm opens this Friday and [again, to quote the reviewer] “has arelentless consistency from story to story, a somber, death-stainedlook at lives in stasis, in desperate need of new directions, thoughit is leavened by slight slivers of hope. For her part, Moncriefacknowledges that titling the film THE DEAD GIRL serves as a form oftruth-in-advertising and that those uninterested in the occasionallydisturbing subject matter might be better served elsewhere.”Karen is quoted in the article about realizing that films that areemotionally difficult [check out THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS if you wantto see a film that even though you know has a happy ending coming, isstill unbearable to watch, though the pay-off is wonderful] may not beeveryone’s cup of tea. She says, “I feel like I’m making films forpeople who are like me, who like to go to movies and be shaken up,literally taken by the throat and shaken up for an hour and a half.And moved and forced to look at things that are ugly, forced tocontemplate the darkest moments any of us can imagine.””Somebody asked me,” [she continues in the article], “if it would bebetter if the movie was ‘uplifting.’ And I said, ‘Well, to me this isuplifting.’ To me, what’s depressing is to see lies-on-screen, to seelives sugar-coated, a fake version of life as I know it or feel it.”Anything less than that and I’d feel like I hadn’t done my job.”There are other people who are much better at shining a light onwhat’s funny or what’s sweet. Maybe my calling is to feel deeply someaspects of human pain and grief. People making choices, struggling todo better and change, to me is uplifting.”I’m so glad to see Karen’s work getting such good notice. She’s awonderful writer who doesn’t flinch from what’s true. There’s aassumption that if you want to write something uplifting, it can’thave sadness or grief or loss in it, but the fact is, the best happyfilms chronicle a character’s struggle to overcome obstacles, and noone ever talks about seeing a film with a “happy beginning,” it’salways about the ending, the “happy ending,” like, say, PURSUIT OFHAPPYNESS, or a film like ANNA, with a “tragic ending.” But they allbegin with something difficult, both an emotional and a situationalstruggle that the protagonist finds herself in. And if you can’t learnto convey and evoke that struggle, no one’s going to relate, no one’sgoing to stick around for the ending, whether it’s happy or not. It’salways about the deep voice and the transformation line. The beststories are stories that you know deeply in your own heart, and thatmeans you have to be willing to acknowledge the truth about the humancondition, that we’ve all struggled through both emotional andsituational difficulty, and it’s how we come through that canshape the dramatic structure of whatever we write about. Readers andaudience can smell the fake, the so-called “good-writing” that is allabout writing and nothing about truth, human truth. Somehow, inschool, your teachers admonished you against writing about yourself,about using the infamous “I” and about the fact that if you’re a realwriter you make stuff up, when in fact, most great writing is about”I” and is about what the author has experienced. And when it is madeup, what is not made up is the inner emotional truth, which the authorhas most likely experienced. I may be writing about someone else, butI sure as hell know what it feels like to have your heart broken inlove. If I can’t bring that truth to myself as a writer, how the hellam I going to bring it to my character? But so many of us continue tofeel self-conscious about writing about the self, or using the truthof the self to create our stories and our characters, because some 8thgrade teacher chided us about using the dreaded “I” word, anddiscouraged us from writing about ourselves, as if, when all is saidand done, we are ever writing about anything else.My favorite cartoon is the young woman curled up on the couch writinga letter on a notepad. The caption reads: “Dear Mom and Dad, Thanks for thehappy childhood. You’ve destroyed any chance I had of becoming awriter.” The joke, of course, is that no one has had a happychildhood. Just some of us had childhoods happier than others, but allchildhoods are filled with heartbreak and struggle and sadness andloss. As parents, we try to shield our kids from that, but it’s notpossible. Whether we like it or not, they will grow up with all thetools necessary to become writers, to become artists, provided we’vetaught them to be willing to accept the losses and the griefs, tolearn to look inward and bring those truths out of themselves in theprocess of making art. And if by some chance our parents didn’t teachus that, then we had better learn to do it ourselves, or whatever itis we will write might please our 8th grade teacher, but it will notsell a copy to anyone looking to be touched by art.Hope you’re having a good holiday, and here’s to a wonderful,creative, fulfilling new year.jack

The Galaxy song from “Monty Python’s The meaning of life”

From every standpoint the world of humanity is undergoinga re-formation. The laws of former governments and civilizations are in process of revision. Scientific ideas and theories are developing and advancing to meet a new range of phenomena.

Invention and discovery are penetrating hitherto unknown fields revealing new wonders and hidden secrets of the material universe. Industries have vastly wider scope and production. Everywhere the world of mankind is in the throes of evolutionary activity indicating the passing of the old conditions and advent of the new age of re-formation. Old trees yield no fruitage; old ideas and methods are obsolete and worthless now. Old standards of ethics, moral codes and methods of living in the past will not suffice for the present age of advancement and progress.

This is the cycle of maturity and re-formation in religion as well. Dogmatic imitations of ancestral beliefs are passing. They have been the axis around which religion revolved but now are no longer fruitful. On the contrary, in this day they have become the cause of human degradation and hindrance. Bigotry and dogmatic adherence to ancient beliefs have become the centra land fundamental source of animosity among men, the obstacleto human progress, the cause of warfare and strife, the destroyerof peace, composure and welfare in the world…… Abdu’l-Baha Foundations of World Unity p. 10

WALPOLE, Mass. — His owners are calling their pet Max the Miracle Dog because he escaped unharmed after being run over by a commuter train.

Boston television station WCVB reported that Max sneaked out of his Walpole home on Friday morning and wandered onto some nearby train tracks. The engineer, Kym Berry, spotted him and slammed on the brakes.

“I blew the horn and put on the bell and he jumped right in the middle of the gauge and just kept running. So I put the train in emergency and he went right underneath the train. And it turns out, he came out the third coach back,” Berry said.

He came out in perfect condition.

“Thank God, he was … not a scratch on him. He was so little that he went under the train and he was fine. Not a scratch,” his owner Robin Lennon said.

At that point, the assistant conductor Pete Tomasini decided to take Max under his wing until they could locate his owners. They made Max an honorary conductor for the day. The passengers loved him, and Max seemed happy, too.

“Every time I stopped he came up and gave kisses. He was very friendly, his little bum was wiggling, he was wagging his tail, he was happy,” Berry said.

His owners said Max seemed unaffected by the ordeal, although he seemed to need a little recovery time.

“When he did come home he slept for 12 hours straight. He was totally exhausted,” Lennon said.

They were praising MBTA workers for their quick-thinking response and for taking care of the pooch until his owners could be found.

I Love this prayer!!! Someone gave it to us when we lived in Seattle and we were bringing food to her when she broke her leg. She literally took the quote off the wall and handed it to us. I try always to keep it circulating as it speaks so deeply to the heart.

Thomas Merton Prayer

My LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thomas Merton- Thoughts in Solitude © Abbey of Gethsame

My two themes as indicated by this quote and the previous one seem to be about healing. Sometimes themes call to me, to us, for reflection and wishing the wellbeing of all I know. How is it with you?

“We should all visit the sick. When they are in sorrow and suffering, it is a real help and benefit to have a friend come. Happiness is a great healer to those who are ill.In the East it is the custom to call upon the patient often and meet him individually. The people in the East show the utmost kindness and compassion to the sick and suffering. This has greater effect than the remedy itself.You must always have this thought of love and affection when you visit the ailing and affected.” Baha’i Writings

From the Baha’i Writings:

“Looking after one’s health is done with two intentions. Man may take good care of his body for the purpose of satisfying his personal wishes. Or, he may look after his health with the good intention of serving humanity and of living long enough to perform his duty toward mankind. The latter is most commendable.”
“Between material things and spiritual things there is a connection. The more healthful his body the greater will be the power of the spirit of man; the power of the intellect, the power of the memory, the power of reflection will then be greater.”

“All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. The Almighty beareth Me witness: To act like the beasts of the field is unworthy of man. Those virtues that befit his dignity are forbearance, mercy, compassion and loving kindness towards all the peoples and kindreds of the earth.” Baha’u’llah

found this on the net; even pets have problems around the holidays!

B. Shelley

CCXLVI. Ozymandias of Egypt

I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said:—Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,

Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown

And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,

The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.

And on the pedestal these words appear:

“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”

Nothing beside remains: round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

be still my heart; this is a good looking pug!

A wonderful young man told me i could use his pug pictures
feel free to use the pug pics. the last one I added from the web, a pug in second frame in; oh joy!
feel free to use the pug,

His pics::


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I am praying harder for the people of Baghdad and for soldier
who are there! I feel the agony of it all!