See more articles, reviews, fiction and poetry, including more of my writings, at group blog PLUTO'S REALM.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Morel Orel

And now for some entertainment! Those of you who know me know I'm not much on what passes for comedy in our culture, or in our lack thereof. Half the people I know sit around all night stuffing their faces with chocolate and watching buffoons do pratfalls and tell jokes that aren't funny. On the other hand, occasionally I see comic gems like The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, which I stumbled across a couple of weeks ago - a Bill Murray movie the promo of which did it no justice. The Life Aquatic is by the same director who did Rushmore and The Royal Tennenbaums, so rush out and get it now.

And then there's Morel Orel. If you're old enough to have seen Davey and Goliath as a kid, well, this is the anti-Davey. South Park was good but it got old; this is new and it's the funniest damn thing I've seen in a long time.

I now know Christianity is not to blame for human ignorance; it's just another symptom. I now know that in our headlong rush toward Armageddon (see, these Christian terms are useful!), it won't make any difference one way or another. We all know that ignorance rises endlessly; occasionally if feels good to see someone shoot it down with buckshot.

So if you hated church as much as I did when I was a kid, if you saw it was all bullshit and lies the first time you heard their pious mumbling out the sides of their mouths, this show is for you. I just finished the first disc of ten episodes. The above clip is the intro to one of the show episodes; the clip below is something someone did and posted on YouTube with Orel discovering drugs, with an added metal soundtrack.

Some days it just feels good to be alive.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Aggressive Humility?

Note: October 13, 2007. This is certainly the most controversial blog entry I've ever written, here on a local level, and I keep putting it up and taking it back down, because there are some people who probably should be offended by it, whom I don't want to offend. On the other hand, it has some big fans. So I've put it back up, with a couple of disclaimers and partial apologies. So if you think you're targeted in here, sorry; there was a lot of stress at that point, and it's an accurate reflection of where my mind was, when I wrote it.

Once again I find myself in the position of apologizing for a long period of no blogging -- over a month this time. I do have lots of excuses; I've been working on the Nashville Buddhist Festival website and on the Festival itself, as well as preparing to go to Atlanta in August for the last two and a half days of a five-day sesshin. I've been helping Deuce on his blog, and trying to figure out if my job is getting so disorganized that I won't be able to make the money I need. But mostly, sometimes I get burned out on all this activity and I need to sink into myself for a while; I spent almost three weeks without working out or doing any organized Zen activity, hardly watched any movies -- spent a lot of time on the couch. Sometimes it's just necessary, in terms of brain chemistry and getting myself back together to do all the things I normally do.

So now I'm back, working out, working on the Buddhist stuff again now that I don't resent it, and I realized I hadn't written a blog entry since the third week of June. If you've ever done much writing, you'll realize that getting back to it after you've stopped is the most difficult time, and the only way to break it is to force yourself to write it. Trouble is, in this case I don't want to force you (or You, as my egoless comrades might say, see below) to read it if I've got nothing to say. So I had to wait until something occurred to me at the right time. Here it is.

It struck me yesterday when I received an email from the Theravadan representative on the Buddhist Festival that they have finally booked their speaker for the Festival, a Theravadan monk. I was waiting because I wanted to post a speaker page on the Festival site, along with the speaker pages for my teacher Michael Elliston, the Shambhala speaker, and Lisa Ernst who's speaking on behalf of her own locally organized group. Now, the Theravadan rep for the Festival is a great guy and he's been one of the mainstays of the Festival since its inception four years ago, and it just took them a while to book their speaker. But when I get the speaker page it's about three sentences with no picture; picture to follow, with not enough text to fill the page.

The explanation for the lack of picture is that the monk is a very ego-less guy, and it will take a while to convince him to let his picture be used. So, the monk's lack of egolessness, asserted by not allowing his picture to be used, means that the web page is held up, the entries for the various groups in the Festival can't be parallel, and the Buddhist community is deprived of the information on this speaker that they have on all the others. It strikes me that the other speakers, who may or may not have wanted to supply complete bio's, did so out of service to the community and the Festival and not for their personal aggrandizement, whereas the monk could inconvenience everyone else by asserting his egolessness. So who is truly humble, and who is passive-aggressively asserting, "Hey, I'm Humble!"?

Then there's this other guy on the Festival who represents a different supposedly Zen group, who's been full of great ideas all through the organizational period but hasn't supplied word one on himself for the web page. So we have a big lotus flower as a placeholder for him on the Board page and no speaker page at all, although as it turns out, he'll probably speaking as a Board member on the forums, plus as the speaker for his group (as he's ordained, you see) -- plus he may be the MC for the Festival. His big contribution so far has been to get the Board to pay for a design for a logo (which isn't much and is much inferior to the nice piece of art it's based on). He's also cast the schedule in his own image. The person in question got all his stuff in and did an admirable job at the Festival. I think his group probably got more growth out of this year's NBF than any other, and I'm actually happy for them. I hope to go sit with them sometime. And as to the logo: I've since met the designer and she is one of the sweetest people I've met in a long time. I am still a little critical of the design, but what do I know about visual art? when there are artists around... I picked this particular version of Lisa's lotus originally for its long stem, which is cut off on the logo, and I don't really like the font. On the other hand, I think the designer was probably working with specific instructions. I'll have to ask her sometime, if I ever get the nerve to broach the subject.

Now the Board, being nice Buddhists, have gone along with all this stuff. You know me, and I'm not a nice Buddhist, but I was being the new guy and just sitting there. So now that all the fruits of all this are coming home, I'm just frustrated and getting cranky. And those of you who know me know you don't want to see me cranky. So anyway, this guy I'm talking about has a way of writing; he refuses to capitalize the pronoun "I" and instead capitalizes the "Y" in "you", so you get sentences like "i only live to serve You." For those of use who like the English language..... Anyway, so I leave you to speculate, when is up-front egolessness just another way of asserting ego? Is "Hey, I'm Humble!" truly an expression of humility? You decide. And then look around you and see where else you can spot this behavior. I advise you to look to preachers and used-car salesmen.

By the way, I'm probably being unfair to the monk. He probably doesn't speak much English or know what the hell is going on. But I did get this bile spit out, so maybe I can write something next time. And someone from the Zen group or the Buddhist Festival is probably gonna crap all over me for this blog entry. Because it promotes disharmony, I guess. But sometimes my taste in music runs that way, too. And I tired of people being tolerated because they're rich and successful. Some of us chose not to go that way. But I don't want to assert any humility.

P.S. We're going to have a very good Nashville Buddhist Festival. We have great yoga, good music, and some really good speakers. There also should be amusing moments. You should all come, Sept. 15; location on the website.