Monday, April 30, 2007

Song of the Day Explained

All righty, then. awannabe makes the front page because she left a comment on my Song of the Day post which requires a response and/or clarification about what the Song of the Day is. Here's what she had to say:
mmmkay, for us to relate to this you could find the lyrics and paste them into the post :-)
The Stones were before my time, man... besides, Mick Jagger's lips are too... mmm I don't know.
Content? She wants content? Not just obscure pronouncements about what people should or shouldn't whistle to themselves throughout the course of the day?

Well, here's the deal. The Song of the Day is not a recommendation. It's not something I'm trying to insert into people's heads. In fact, it's something I'd bloody well like to get out of my head. Cuz, you see, for about as long as I can remember, I've woken up in the morning with a tune, a melody, a short phrase or riff, running repeatedly through my mind. Pretty much every morning. Sometimes it lasts a good long while. Sometimes I forget almost immediately, like a dream. But I start off nearly every day with a song running through my head.

That's the Song of the Day.

In fact, this could be the subject of a meme.
What's the first thing that goes through yer head when you wake up in the morning? And if it ain't a song, how come? Eh? awannabe, you go first.

Lyrics don't necessarily matter. Cuz it's the melody or the riff (or maybe a horn line) that sticks. And, therefore, it's rarely going to be rap or hip-hop, cuz they suffer from a dearth of melody. On the other hand, the drum and bass pattern could ensnare me. Anyway...

awannabe wants the lyrics. Lyrics to a Rolling Stones song. All righty, then. But don't expect deep thoughts, kay? Here they are:

Well I never kept a dollar past sunset,
it always burned a hole in my pants.
Never made a school mama happy,
never blew a second chance on love.

I need a love to keep me happy,
I need a love to keep me happy.
Baby, baby keep me happy.
Baby, baby keep me happy.

Always took candy from strangers,
didn't wanna get me no trade.
Never want to be like papa,
working for the boss ev'ry night and day.

Never got a flash out of cocktails,
when I got some flesh off the bone.
Never got a lift out of Lear jets,
when I can fly way back home.


And don't worry if the next Song of the Day is some other obscure thing. In fact, it might be some original song that nobody's ever heard...yet. It's just the Song of the Day from the different view of Larry's Head.

BTW, it was Keith Richards, actually, who sang that song, not Mick
Jagger. As for Mick's lips, I dare say they served some useful purpose
over the years, altho I hesitate to speculate what that might have been.

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Song of the Day - Create custom images

From Exile on Main Street

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Don't Panic! Yes I know it's been several days since the last post. The computer has been in sick bay. I myself have been lying around the corridors of the Yoni School moaning and shivering, suffering from Mental Blog. Withdrawal from blogposting may not be as difficult as getting off crack, or heroin, or even alcohol. No DTs. No lizards crawling the walls. But even so, there were scary moments, moments when I experienced horrific delusions of grandeur, believing that the universe out there was sorely missing my gems of wit and wisdom.

And this is a pretty good segue into the subject of this post, because reading The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a bit like tripping on acid, something I'm sure Douglas Adams must have done.

I spent my computerless days reading the Guide. The cover pictured here is not the same edition as the one I read. The one I read belongs to Suzy Homemaker. She bought it many years ago, presumably in a fit of existential frivolity.

The closest cover I could discover (without wading through dozens of Google pages) was this one, which depicts the radio scripts. Suzy's is not the radio scripts. It's the edition (probably the first version) called The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy: A Trilogy in Four Parts. Suzy's doesn't have the old-fashioned microphone on the cover, but the picture is similar.

So, what about it? The Hitch Hiker's Guide is Monty Python on paper, covering the inner edges of outer space and the outer edges of inner space.

I laughed out loud exactly five times. This may not seem like much, but think about it. How often do you actually laugh out loud when you're reading something silently, alone, in a detention cell for wayward poets where you have to go far away in a concrete bunker to have a smoke? So five times is pretty good. About once every one hundred pages. And this is not even mentioning the numerous times I chuckled.

But here's the thing. Every time I laughed it was because Adams came up with something so out of left field, or so astonishingly clever, that I couldn't help myself. Which, for the most part is not the way Adams writes. If he has a flaw, it's that he pursues perversity and contradiction and silliness so intently that it becomes predictable. He states the obvious so often that eventually you come to recognize the parts you can skip. (But you do this at your peril, because he just might slip in something you need to know...) And...oh yes...he uses far too many adjectives...he interrupts himself...he employs subordinate clauses as if they were indentured servants with no prospect of ever buying their freedom.

Which makes for difficult reading sometimes. I would get exasperated and wonder, "How in the world did he ever get this past an editor?" And then I realized that I often write in exactly the same way, with asides and digressions and non sequiturs and inside jokes and godknowswhatelse.

So, I am either constrained to change my wayward ways...or forgive Adams his unrestrained waywardness.

I must say, he has become rather rich.

All it takes is one good hit with legs.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Should Virginia Tech Have Been Locked Down Sooner?

My answer to that is No. And here's the reason why:

All over the airwaves today, people have been questioning the decision of the police and the university administration not to lock down the school immediately after the first two murders. Now far be it from me to defend the police, locked up as I am here in the Yoni School for Wayward Poets, for I am a child of resistance to authority, an inveterate Naysayer. "No" is the most common word in my vocabulary. But this second-guessing so soon after the event is really too much.

A little common sense tells you to look at the timeline. The first shootings took place around 7:15am. The second wave occurred just after 9:00am. So there was a space of about 2 hours. The police arrived at the first scene fairly quickly, I believe, and secured that building. Other law enforcement agencies -- the FBI, the state police -- would have been informed, I presume. But in two hours, it's only logical that the investigation -- and all of the detail that involves -- would really only have just begun. Think of it: securing the building, identifying the crime scene and securing that, looking for witnesses, canvassing the building, who knows what-all. And up to that point, as far as anyone could tell, they were looking at a double homicide. Not some lunatic who was preparing to gun down another 50 or so.

Think of how much you accomplish in 2 hours on any given day. With tasks not nearly as complex as a murder scene. And then tell me that they should have foreseen what would happen next...

The only other possible solution would be to shut down everything every time there's a murder just in case he/she decides to strike again. Which is silly. And you know people would find fault with that too.

So I say, cut 'em some slack.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Rhetorical Question #1

Is there anything that does not revolve around the sun of ego and its sleepless nights?

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Friday, April 13, 2007

OMG! It's Friday the 13th!

Maybe I should go back to bed...
Bikers'll be all over the roads today, heading to Port Dover.

Postscript: OK, maybe I should explain for those of you not from Ontariario...Every Friday the 13th motorcycle afficionados travel from all over to Port Dover on the shores of Lake Weerie and have a huge street party. (Not what you might call biker gangs, per se, altho there's some of that too, but just bikers bikers bikers.) I'm not quite sure of the origin of this event but it's been going on for quite a few years.

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Song of the Day - Create custom images

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Yoni School (Federal) Election Watch Pt. 3

Why is this woman waving? It seems that Elizabeth MayorMaynot face opposition in her chosen riding at the next federal selection. M. Dion & the Outremonts has agreed not to run a Gliberal candidate against her cuz she's the leader of the Particoloured Parti Vert. And MayorMaynot may not run a candidate against him neither nor. Separately, they would like to work together in the next Parliament, where M. Dion & the Outremonts expects to be Prime Mystery. Apparently they both have this thing about The Environment. I guess they'd like to have one.

However, MayorMaynot has chosen to run in Central Nova, which is in Nova Scotia, and it's a strong Constipated riding, currently held by Peter Decay, (seen here whistling in the dark) who is the Mystery of Foreign Affairs and also Failed Affairs. (See previous post...and photo below) She'll need a lot of votes to catch up to him. She has one thing going for her though. No one's quite sure if Prime Mystery Stephen Harpie and Peter Decay are interested in having An Environment. So, people who breathe and drink water are a little nervous about them. The Army likes 'em though cuz they plan to buy a bunch of tanks. Elizabeth MayorMaynot definitely wants An Environment. People who breathe and drink water like that.

My take on it is this: Peter Decay should lose. He's been working at it ever since he became Foreign Affairs Mystery. It's a mystery how he manages to avoid being mistaken for the doorman at the Notell Motel. He's a lightweight. A cipher. He lacks the gravitas necessary to pull his weight in the international arena. He has mis
handled several major issues. (Like the Mystery of the Murder in Mexico.) He wears gumboots. (Don't get me wrong, I love gumboots, but they don't belong in the House of Common Bawdy Houses....I can't believe I just wrote that! That's exactly where gumboots belong, since you have to wade through so much, uh, uno there.)

OK, and last but not least, the photo of his shining moment as Mystery of Failed Affairs:

Now, there is one other thing. I think I've posted on this before, but I'm too lazy to look in the archives. The Particoloured Parti Vert has a petition going to have Elizabeth MayorMaynot included in the televised debates. Up to now she's been excluded. Well, OK, she's been excluded because there hasn't been a televised debate since she was elected leader of the party. But you know what I mean. The Particoloured Parti Vert has been excluded. Cuz they ain't got no seats in the House. But they got a pretty good number of votes across the country, and they have a legit message and platform and planks and the whole edifice of an actual party, and they run candidates in all the ridings (except the one where M. Dion & the Outremonts runs, I guess) and the reporters listen to what they say, sort of, and you see their whirling dervish spinning wheel signs everywhere, so why shouldn't they get to participate in the crummy televised debate? If you're interested in signing the petition, go here.

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Yoni School (Federal) Election Watch Pt. 2

Melinda Strongarm Packs It In

I ran right
I ran left
Ran up, was run down
I played House for a while
But too many cooks spoiled the broth
Besides, the Cabinet was bare
When all's said and done
My heart belongs to Daddy

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And So It Goes

Kurt Vonnegut
November 11, 1922-April 11, 2007

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Larry Hits the Goals Post

As I said in an earlier posting, I was tagged by Camille Crawford to participate in the Gotta Get Goals meme initiated by Alex Shalman. I do believe this is the original graphic from Alex Shalman's blog, in which he challenged denizens of the international blogomat to list their goals and link back to him so he could compile results. I agreed to do this, but it's taken some time to get my act together. But finally, I'm ready. I include this graphic here because it's related in a way to one of the goals described below.

For starters, I think it's fair to say I'm not really a goal-oriented person. Maybe that's a flaw. I can tell you that it has contributed to a certain sense of drift throughout the course of my life, to the point that I have not accomplished all I am capable of. But I have noticed that if I write things down, for example on a ToDo list, I tend ToDo them. Otherwise they get shuffled around and sometimes shuffled right off the agenda. So a nudge from Camille is a good thing.

As I thought about these goals it became apparent that some are short or medium-term. Others are more long term, almost wishful-thinking. I don't think any of them are "wildest dreams over the top" as Alex suggests. But some are definitely more...metaphysical, let's say.

So here are the more immediate goals:

1. Finish and promote my CD of spoken word & music, called Wordsong. This is a combination of poetry and some prose set to music that I've composed. Much of it is done, but there are loose ends.

2. Publish the book of poetry I've been working on for some time.

3. Two novels are in the works. One is Larry Keiler: The Unauthorized Autobiography, pieces of which you can read here. The other is one in which Pablo Picasso is the central character. Both of these are unfinished. I let them go for a long time, for reasons I won't go into here, but I feel as if I'm getting close to being ready to tackle them again. Writing this blog plays a part in that.

All of the above are things I expect to be wildly popular and successful
thanks to the support of all you bloggers and blogettes out there.

4. Learn more about website design, website construction, you know, like code & style sheets & all that, including how to make graphics like the one in Alex's blog, so that at some point in the near future I really can be master of my domain.

5. Improve and deepen my relationship with my partner, Suzy Homemaker.

And now for the longer-term goals:

5. I'm not really a wealth-seeking kind of person. I just need enough, that's all. Having said that, though, how fantastic it would be to have the wealth of Bill Gates. How fantastic to have one-fiftieth the wealth of Bill Gates. But, as a Buddhist person, I can only think of one reason to have that much money, and that is to use it for the benefit of others. What else? I can only drive one car at a time. I can only live in one place at a time. I can only sit in one hot tub until my skin gets wrinkly. In fact, if I were as wealthy as Bill Gates, I wouldn't need to own anything (except for whatever it is that brings in that wealth.) I could afford to be homeless. I could afford to be without a car, a plane, a boat. I could afford to support the Dharma and the spread of Buddha's teachings, and the lives of dedicated Buddhists everywhere. I could build temples, stupas, universities, monasteries, retreat centres. Call that a goal. One of my wildest ones.

The Dharma, for that matter any religious movement, has always depended on the support of wealthy patrons. The Buddha received support from many rich people, including kings. The park where the Buddha spent a good portion of every year was donated to him and his followers by a fabulously wealthy man named Anathapindika. Lama Zopa Rinpoche has a project to build a statue of Maitreya, the future Buddha, the largest statue in the world. I'd like to be able to pull the cheque out of my pocket that pays for the whole thing.

6. To fulfill what are called in Tibetan Buddhism The Four Immeasurables:

How wonderful it would be if all sentient beings were to abide in equanimity,
Free of hatred and attachment!
May they abide in equanimity!
I myself will cause them to abide in equanimity!
Please, guru-Buddha, grant me blessings to be able to do this.

How wonderful it would be if all sentient beings had happiness and the cause of happiness!
May they have happiness and its cause!
I shall cause them to have these!
Please, guru-Buddha, grant me blessings to be able to do this.

How wonderful it would be if all sentient beings were free of suffering and its cause!
May they be free of suffering and its cause!
I myself will free them from suffering and its cause!
Please, guru-Buddha, grant me blessings to be able to do this.

How wonderful it would be if all sentient beings were never separated from the happiness of higher rebirth and liberation!
May they never separated from the happiness of higher rebirth and liberation!
I myself will cause them never to be separated from these!
Please, guru-Buddha, grant me blessings to be able to do this.

7. To achieve Buddhahood. (Not too ambitious for someone who's not too ambitious, eh?) Ever since I was quite young, I've believed in the perfectibility of the human race, if not in the physical sense, then in the metaphysical. I've felt that mankind could evolve or develop into perfection, something akin to god. Buddhism holds out that promise for me.

That's it. That's all for now. Except that since we're playing tag, I think I'm supposed to suggest this idea to someone else. So, if they are willing to play along, here are two:

John Gillespie at Sensitivity to Things

Awannabe at The Missing Blog Meets the Big Bad World

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Blue Jays First Game: This Day in 1977

Larry was there. The Jays' first game. At Exhibition Stadium. By the Lake. Drove down from Downsview in a Cougar with a couple of buddies. Sat in the bleachers. Two dollar tickets. It was cold. Drank raw whiskey from a flask. Got drunk. It snowed. The Jays won.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

A Buddhist View of the Crucifixion

The Tibetan Buddhist tradition has a powerful teaching called The Seven Points of Mind Training which, if practised diligently is said to encompass the entire path to Buddhahood.

The centrepiece of the Seven Points is a practice called Tonglen. The simplest way to describe this practice is to say that one visualizes all sentient beings, breathes in their sufferings in the form of thick black smoke and breathes out light which relieves them of suffering and brings them whatever they need and desire most in whatever form is most beneficial.

And as I write this, I see that it doesn't even begin to convey the power of the practice, or its nuances, or even its essence. So I'll have to give a bit more detail.

The man who wrote the root text, Geshe Chekawa, opens with homage to Great Compassion. The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. In Tibetan, Chenresig. One of the goals of Tonglen is to open our hearts to the sufferings of others, to the point where our sense of compassion becomes unbearable, so that we see that we must do something to relieve this suffering. This is the motivation of the Bodhisattva. The prayer that the Bodhisattva makes is: May all their sufferings ripen upon me, and may all my merits ripen upon them.

You don't even have to start with all sentient beings. You can start with yourself and the suffering and problems you will experience throughout the day. Or you can focus on a specific friend or family member. It becomes a little more difficult when you choose someone you think of as an enemy. The point is, no one is excluded.

To give you a more concrete picture: you visualize someone in front of you and see their suffering, whatever that may be...cancer, the loss of a loved one, AIDS, extreme poverty. (I often think of someone I know who is suffering through some difficulty the same as one I am suffering. It's very easy to relate to their suffering then.) You look deeply and see this suffering inside of them and around them as a cloud of thick black smoke, the kind of smoke that results from the worst fire of toxic substances. Or you think of the kind of filth and muck that you might find in a septic tank. And you want to free them from this suffering, so you breathe that smoke in. All of it. The smoke and filth travels down your central channel to your heart chakra.

Now, at your heart is a tiny diamond-hard rock, black in colour also. That rock represents you, your ego, the greatest delusion you have...your self-grasping and your self-cherishing. Self-grasping refers to the idea that there is something solid and eternal which is "me", that this never changes and never disappears. It is the primary delusion. Self-cherishing is the result of this...the idea that "I" am far more important than anyone or anything else.

When t
he black smoke touches that black kernel, the kernel explodes. It vaporizes, as if it was struck by a nuclear bomb. So, what that breathing in of black smoke does is destroy our conception of ourselves as inherently existent, while at the same time making us fully aware of the endless suffering of sentient beings. It opens us up to the possibility, even the necessity of helping other beings in whatever way we can. And it softens our hearts by removing that diamond-hard rock of ego.

On the out-breath, you send light to the being or beings in front of you. They experience immediate relief from whatever suffering they have. You can see their relief and joy. Whatever it is they need -- comfort, healing, a loaf of bread -- the light you breathe out gives it to them. And you give thanks that you are able to help them in this way.

In one sense, this practice is difficult to do. Taking on all the sufferings of everyone? Forget it! In a teaching by the Dalai Lama, a woman in the audience says she is very afraid to do this sort of thing. The Dalai Lama responds by saying that if she were really taking on the suffering of others, that would be quite remarkable. But of course, we're only visualizing this. This is still most important, though, because as Buddhists we know that our minds are a form of energy, so the light that we visualize is also a form of energy reaching out to blend with the energies of countless other minds. All of us are familiar with the power of thought. Even so, (and not to frighten anyone), we are also practising, preparing for that time when we will be advanced enough to actually offer our own bodies to help relieve others.

Which brings us to the crucifixion.

The usual Christian intepretation of the crucifixion is one of atonement. Christ allowed himself to be crucified in order to atone for the sins of the world. He assumed responsibility for all the evil we commit, have committed and will commit. By becoming the sacrificial lamb, he paid our debt to God. That's why the lamb is the symbol of Easter. (Not the Easter bunny, no no no.)

Buddhists do not generally think in terms of sin. You read the word occasionally, but what it usually means is a negative action which will produce negative karmic consequences. For Buddhists, there is no absolute evil, no Satan. There are beings who perform evil or negative deeds out of delusion. Satan was/is a marvellous angel who suffered from the delusion of pride. And unlike the approach of our secular and modern closed-mindedness, for example with respect to sex offenders, no one is the long run. And Buddhists have a very long run...beginningless and endless. It's just that some cases are more difficult than others. But even Satan, whose other name Lucifer provides the hint, can at some point recover his place in the clear light.

But let's let go of the concept of atonement for a moment. What if Christ was actually performing the ultimate practice of Tonglen? What if he was assuming the sufferings of sentient beings in reality rather than in meditation as we do in our Tonglen practice? This sheds an entirely different light on the crucifixion. Perhaps Christ was not paying a debt, but rather taking on, out of his limitless compassion, the sufferings of all mankind, the crazy delusions, the pettiness, the hatred...and wishing us ultimate peace...the end of suffering, the end of delusion, the end of hatred. And he was showing us how it's done. By caring for the benefit of others before oneself. Even at the cost of his own life. That's the bodhisattva vow.

For Buddhists, Christ is not the saviour. But we may say that he is a saviour. He is a bodhisattva. A powerful bodhisattva. We know that Christ was a model of compassion. The Sermon on the Mount is most profound in that respect. And when he said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me," he was recognizing the purity inherent in all of us, if we could only become again as little children. We know that he could be angry, but that he knew how to use his wrath in effective teaching moments. When he said, "Render unto Caesar..." he was telling us that he upheld the Law. Another translation of the word "dharma" is "law".

At one point, while on the cross, Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Me, he says. Perhaps this is doubt creeping in, just as in the example of the woman at the Dalai Lama's teaching. Don't forget,the ego is a diamond-hard rock. It does not surrender easily But when he died, his words were, "I commend my soul unto thee..." because he saw reality as it was. He rejoined his father. He reconnected with the light. And of course, he didn't die, because no one ever really does. He was resurrected or, in Buddhist terms, enlightened. The depictions of Christ after his resurrection always show him surrounded by light. I would venture to say that's because deep in our psyches, we know that the clear light is our best representation of ultimate reality, and we recognize that Christ achieved that pinnacle.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Gotta Get Goals Meme

Camille Crawford over at Now has invited me to participate in a meme, based on an original posting by Alex Shalman entitled Gotta Get Goals.

All you veteran bloggers probably know what a meme is. Basically, I don't, except for what I've gleaned from reading (very quickly) the original post and Camille's, which she called Goals...A Meme. The theme of this meme is evident in the title. You write about your goals. And link back to the other blogs. And forward to someone else. Sort of a chain blog (as opposed to letter) with velvet links.

So this post is just to announce that I'm going to participate. But I need some time to write that post. Cuz I take it seriously. And I have a busy few days ahead so I can't say how long it will take.

But here's a teaser:
Goal #1: Write a post for the Gotta Get Goals meme.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Google Maps Good

I don't use Google Maps too often, but HWSRN has to go to Steeltown today, so I looked up the address for him. Google Maps even knows the nickname for the expressway in Steeltown - the Linc!

Then again, I'm not sure...maybe The Linc has been made an official name by the city?

Adjunct to the Online Poll

Oh, this is a silly experiment with embedding. It's too small to read, isn't it? But if you look closely, at the top right of the Scribd page is a box. Click on that and it opens to a new page...full size. So you can read it.

I probably won't use this again.

Update Apr.1/07
Hey, look at me, I'm so resourceful. I adjusted the size of the object (trial and error) so now it's at least readable. (Readable? What the hell kinda werd is that? Is it a werd? Legible. That's the werd I'm looking for, I think.) Where was I? Oh yeah, you can read it now without opening a new tab or window. It's still not great, but it's better.

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Help! I've written and I can't get up!