Monday, July 31, 2006
Great interview, in my opinion. Also, I suppose we are a little late with this, but Life's Rich Pageantry would like to announce it first official endorsement of the Primary season:
Big surprise here:
Normally, this blog wouldn't give a rat's tuchus about Connecticut politics, with all of the YouTube videos, game show reviews, and nasty pictures of J-Pod to post, but this one is important. It's sad, though, that is has to come to this. This is a nasty battle between Lieberman & Lamont, and it didn't need to be. Lieberman has made it very clear that he feels he is entitled to re-election, and he will go to any length to get it, even if it means dropping out of the Democratic party AFTER the primary and forcing himself on the ballot as an independent. Well, that's just great, Joe. You must be a real fun guy to be around in real life -- if you don't get your way, then you'll just sulk and figure out a way to submarine the process. Screw you, Joe. I feel your Joementum crashing through my screen from here, and I think I've had enough.
Now, just a bit about the linked video: Stephen Colbert hosts the Colbert report, in a kind-of spin-off from the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Colbert was one of the first generation of Stewart-era correspondents, with others like Steve Carell (now a mega-star), Beth Littleford, and Vance DeGeneres (usually known as Ellen's brother, but should probably be better known as Mr. Hands -- take that Mr.Bill!), and yes, we are ignoring the mediocre Craig Kilborn years. In my opinion, Colbert has by now blown Stewart out of the water. His show is stellar, and there is no greater praise than the fact that so many people just don't get it. My kind of show!
(While editing this post, I discovered that the Stephen Colbert entry on Wikipedia is currently locked down due to vandalism. What the hell is wrong with people? Vandalism, on him?? I wouldn't even vandalize an article about Dick Cheney, but I guess some people have no ability to communicate outside of screaming **STEVE IS A FAG!!** all over the place. Whatevs.)
Sunday, July 30, 2006
(Our special Saturday Night edition of Friday Night Videos has been postponed so that we may bring you the following presentation in living color)
Once again, life follows conversation, as a conversation I just had regarding marginal columnist John Podhoretz has now spilled over into real life as he has written a column for the NY Post (sigh) advocating genocide.
So here's a guy -- a third-rate writer and thinker, at best, with a 'book' out that is currently #145,079 on Amazon.com (WOW! A Best Seller!), and an overwhelming need to be compared favorably to his daddy, calling for the extermination of an entire segment of the population.
There is a modern 'law' of argument known as Godwin's Law which says, basically, that the first person in a debate to compare the other side to Hitler automatically loses the debate, presumably because that is such an extreme comparison to run to. However, Godwin's Law does not apply when actually discussing Hitler or Nazis. Considering the positions that some neocons are taking lately (genocide, invasion/occupation, censorship, etc.), I believe that Godwin's Law should be considered 'no longer operable' until the Nazis (oops) are out of power.
(I would be remiss if I did not note that the creepy J-Pod guy was a five-time Jeopardy! champion. Must have been a slow week.)
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Here is Ken's original post.
Here is the hit piece from the NY Post.
Here is Ken's response.
Now, I realize that the NY Post isn't exactly a Real Newspaper (kind of like the Weekly World News isn't a newspaper, or the Washington Times), but is Michael Starr so totally devoid of understanding context-driven writing that he thought this was serious?? Incredible.
(This is the first post on our blog, I think, that even tangentially deals with game shows, and considering our hobbies around here, that's kind of ridiculous. We'll have to do some catch-up work.)
(Also, Bob Harris, a former J! Super-Mega-Grand-Champion, or whatever, has a really good blog at http://www.bobharris.com/ . It's all about politics & pudus, mostly, which is a surprisingly good combination.)
Friday, July 21, 2006
We'll start with perennial favorites Squeeze with an overlooked and underrated (IMHO) song from 1985.
And, as long as we're in 1985, we might as well spend some time there...
Have I mentioned that this next one is my All-Time Favourite Song? Really? Have I mentioned that this version is my favourite version, recorded live for the video, and normally only available on a long deleted UK import EP? Yes? Well, ok then.
(You may need to turn up the volume for this one a little bit.)
And finally, some comic relief:
Well... that's it for this edition of LRP's Friday Night Videos! We will resume your regularly scheduled train wreck shortly...
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Finding success in relationships is not, as pop culture would have it, like clothes shopping: checking out all the outfits (possible partners) until we find just the right one, returning those that don't fit or discarding them when they go out of style. Rather, the process is more like moving into a new house and finding a long-untended garden in the back. Carefully we nurture the many unfamiliar plants that we find there patiently wating to see what fruits and blossoms come forth in their own time. Not being sure how or when they will blossom, we nurture them all, enjoying the process of discovery as each blossom in its own beautiful way. The goal is to be a master gardener of relationships.
As with gardening, there can be much enjoyment and satisfaction in this process. Expecting relationships to bear fruit immediately is unrealistic and actually counterproductive to establishing a long-term bond. Relationships are like seedlings--nurture them all and take pleasure as they grow, blossom and bear fruit. Too often we discard seedling relationships before ever seeing their possiblities. That's not to say we can't continually add to the garden. There will always be many more wonderful relationships, an endless supply, for us to develop. But rather than continually looking for the "right" relationship, it's more important to cultivate the ones you already have. Somewhere in the garden of your life, incredible things wait to bloom.
While we enter romantic relationships because we are in love with the other person, it is important to view all of our relationships as fertile ground for the growth, development, maturation and strengthening of our own character. The self-actualization we undergo in a good relationship makes us happy, not the relationship itself. This kind of growth and emotional development fosters an inner transformation. The concept of this transformation occurs in the space between people. It is the result of interacting with others with the intention of fostering mutual growth. Our growth is an interdependent process.
Hell in relationships comes from trying to change the behavior of anyone other than yourself. When we exercise self-control, beginning with becoming happy within ourselves, we have the ability to move the hearts of others. It is only when we stop trying to control others that we gain the power to actually influence them. For example, have you ever found yourself saying "You're making me angry - stop doing that" to people whose behavior frustrates you? The implication of that statement, "you're making me angry," is that somehow you don't have control of your anger. They do. And since you have ceded them the control and power, it is their behavior that must change if your anger is to be eliminated. But, of course, you don't control their behavior, so the more you try to do so, the angrier you get.
Not that all anger is bad. There are, of course, real situations of injustice in which anger is appropriate. Even in such cases, however, self-control is the key to influencing change. Recognizing that we are choosing and taking responsibility for those choices empowers us to choose our life state. It gives us control back.
Ultimately, we create true happiness by developing our lives to the fullest. Trying to be somebody else or what you think somebody else wants you to be is a sure way to suffer. Be who you are and be it well. If you are continually growing and advancing, you have the greatest life in the world because you know tomorrow will always be better than today.
Let's talk about the big "E" word: Expectations. Expectations are important. Research indicates that children develop only as far as the expectations of the adults around them. But expectations can also destroy perfectly good relationships. We have expectations of other people. We expect them to be good husbands, good wives, good children, good friends, good bosss and so on. These expectations are often unrealistically high, sometimes higher than our expectations of ourselves.
Let's imagine a relationship where the initial passions have faded. The honeymoon is over. Now the bride and groom are awakening to the fact that their respective partner is not perfect. Le's say he or she is only about eighty percent OK. Patners have flaws and imperfections, as we all do, they reason. Because they care about each other and about their happiness together, they want and expect each other to do better, to improve themselves. Each expects the other to bridge the gap and become the ideal partner.
Motivated by their love, they begin to tell each other, in the most affectionate and caring way possible, about the twenty percent that is missing. Each believes that the love that exists between them will motivate the other to strive harder to fill the gap. Because they are motivated by love, with only the best intentions, they are surprised to find that after an initial period of positive response things get progressively worse. Why? Where did the love go?
Does this scenario sound familiar? Do you know a couple that began deeply in love but ended not so many years later in acrimonious divorce? How does this happen to people? While every situation is unique, there is at least one common but subtle delusion at work here, a delusion that is a challenge to all of us in our relationships with significant others, children, family, friends. The problem is that although we are motivated by the best intentions, the other person often hears from us a steady stream of criticsm and disappointment. This is not encouraging, and in spite of the the love in our hearts, the other person becomes unresponsive, even rebellous. The problem here is that although the heart is in the right place, we lack wisdom. Motivated by love but lacking wisdom, we get a response to our efforts that is the opposite of what we expected. Once this downward trend begins, unfortunately, it is often difficult to reverse.
People do not respond well to constant criicism and negativity. Does that mean we simply have to settle for something less? No, it means, once again, that we're trying to change the wrong person. If we want people to do more, we need to praise and appreciate what they are already doing for us. In other words, it's the eighty percent that is happening that should be the focus of our attention, not the twenty percent that's missing! People love praise and appreciation and will try very hard to get them. Making these two the basis of all your relationships can have a powerful and encouraging influence. For the gardener of relationships, they are like sunlight and water. People strive and thrive when they are praised and appreciated.
Criticism and disappointment create a dark environment, a garden where relationships cannot thrive. It is a major delusion to think that others will be motivated by crticism. Keep in mind that when someone is praised, that person does not consider their personal risk, and when criticized, they can recklessly cause their own ruin.
Let's move on. I'd like to talk about work and career. Work and the relationships we form there are an important arena in the struggle for happiness. In a sense, the affairs of life and work are the testing ground of one's inner strength. What career a person chooses has little to do with their happiness. It's not what we do for a living but how we do it and whether we feel useful and find meaning in our work that make the difference. Therefore, while we should choose to take a career path that is true to what's in our hearts, tormenting yourself about the selection of a career is, to some degree, irrelevant to establishing a happy live.
This is not to say that there aren't lot of unhappy people in the workplace. There are. But it's not the work that's to blame; it is the people who bring with them attitudes and beliefs about work that are not conducive to a happy, fulfilling experience.
In my opinion, and I think you'll agree, here are three kinds of value: beauty, gain and good. The perfect job would have all three. In the working world, the value of beauty means finding a job you like; the value of gain or benefit is a job that earns you a salary to support your daily life; the value of good means a job that helps others and contributes to society. The ideal job would be one that you like, that offers financial security, where you can contribute to society. Sounds great. But this is seldom the reality. Not many can find the perfect job from the start. Some may have a job they like, but it isn't putting food on the table; or their job may pay well, but they hate it. That's the way things go sometimes. Also, some discover that they're just not cut out for the career they dreamed of and aspired to.
The most important thing in finding satisfaction at work is becoming indispensable wherever you are. The best way to find a job is to become the best employee. Good circumstances don't make good people; good people make for a good workplace atmosphere. By learning to be a exemplary individual at work, opportunities will present themselves, opening a path leading to your next phase of life, during which you should also continue doing your very best. Such continuous efforts are guaranteed to land you jobs that you like, that support your life and that allow you to contribute to society. Then, when you look back later, you will see how all your past efforts have become precious assets in your ideal field. You will realize that your effort and hardships have not been wasted.
We used to work in real estate, and in real estate it's said that the most important things are location, location, location. In finding happiness at work the three most important things are attitude, attitude, attitude. To the first important principle about succeeding at work, becoming indispensable, I'd like to add a second: creating harmony on the job.
When working at a company, which is like a society or community all its own, it is important to create harmonious relations with all of your colleagues, including your superiors and those working under you, using wisdom and discretion along the way. If you incur your coworkers' dislike by being selfish or egoistic, you will be a loser in work and society. Wisdom, which includes tact, is vital to being successful at work.
All in all, relationships help us develop. All our relationships have a common foundation - ourselves! The internal condition of our own lives will affect all our relationships. So what we learn in the course in any one relationship will apply to the others. Greed, anger and foolishness are like poison. They will all manifest in all our relationships, so, too, will all our relationships be enhanced as we purify our lives. What comes into play in one realm will also be apparent in others.
Individuals who challenge themselves to develop happy, harmonious families will find the benefits of their efforts simultaneously apparent in improvements at work. Similarly, those who learn to transcend the lesser, egoistic self at work will garner rich rewards at home.
Practicing happiness is about developing character. And relationships are the forum, the classroom, in which we learn how.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
(And, for the record, I agree with him. I think we agree from different points on the circle, but to view everything that is happening as anything other than a huge, interrelated, global conflict is naive. Unfortnately, I don't think that we are necessarily the 'good guys' on this one. We're not the 'bad guys' either, but we are sitting squarely in the middle of a Holy War that we helped create, and there is no surrendering in a Holy War. You fight until death.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Yes, of course I am referring to the annual Weinernationals at Los Alamitos Race Course. Heat of heat of 50-yard dashes for dachshunds, with no truly legal way to wager on it. (Not that it would ever stop some of us... but I digress.)
This year, Princess Smoochy Gucci took the weiner, or whatever it is they give away. I would say something snarky about the name of the dog, but considering the names of some of the crap horses that have cost me money this year, I think her name is just fine, thank you.
According to the LARC website, the event drew the largest crowd of the year to the track (a quarterhorse track in Orange County, Ca., for those of you who have never had the pleasure of attending a festive evening, or even better, New Year's Eve, at the
One more look at the action:
(Hat tip to John G. not only for the article, but for letting me know that we MISSED the damn race!!)
Monday, July 10, 2006
I, on the other hand, will post Tiny Tim videos.
(As much as I tried, I have been unable to come up with the video of Bob & Ray singing Do Ya Think I'm Sexy? with Laraine Newman, Jane Curtain, & Gilda Radner. I was trying to get a theme going...)
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Friday, July 07, 2006
Well, here's another mouthful...happiness. Everyone focuses on it, but what does it mean? Thomas Jefferson said in the Declaration of Independence "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Ever since Jefferson, Americans have believed in their right to the "pursuit of Happiness." When compared with other things that people hope for - health, wealth, success, status - happiness is rated highest for most of us. Along with life and liberty, without which it is largely an irrelevant consideration, happiness is at the very foundation of the American way of life.
Let's run with that thought for a moment. hmmm.... How do we actually view happiness? In addition to wealth - fame, success, youth and beauty are critical components of being happy. Let's face it people! Aren't the young, rich, famous and good-looking happier? Doesn't the one who collects the most toys win the game of life? Maybe Jefferson would have been more prophetic if he used the words "Life, Liberty, and the Purchase of Happiness." hmmm.. For me, it is undeniably enjoyable to go shopping and make great deals. Unfortunately, it is also undeniable that the kind of happiness shopping brings is not long lasting. The excitement fades too quickly an I find myself needing to recreate the joy of the initial experience, so I go out to the sales again and again. So, it's no surprise that I would be happier if I only had more money and a mailing address set up at Macy's.
There's a lesson here, there's got to be. Could the definition of happiness be different then what I thought? Maybe happiness is not what most people suppose it to be. If money, age, health, race, education, employment and geography are typical indicators of happiness, and happiness is relative, then, hmmm, it must follow that circumstances have little to do with happiness.
We have a tendency to compound our problems. We compare ourselves against illusionary standards and thereby increasing the sense of restless dissatisfaction that fuels unhappiness. We strive to keep up with others because they appear to be happier than we are. It turns out that in all the usual areas of comparison, they probably aren't. Here's the problem. We believe them to be. It is this misperception that creates real unhappiness where none existed before. Advertisers exploit our willingness to compare ourselves with the images of others who appear to be better off (and consequently happier) than us. Bombarding us with images of people whose elegant possessions (extravagant lifestyles, gorgeous bodies, harmonious families, etc.) awaken our envy, they enlarge our circle of comparisons and whet our appetites for what others have. This manufactured unhappiness used as a motivator to get us to purchase the "missing" ingredient of our happiness.
It is also believed that we would be happier if we had fewer problems or that once the problem we are immediately facing is resolved, happiness will result. But, damn it, it never quite happens that way. Today's problem is replaced by new problems in an unending procession. We seem barely to have a chance to catch our breath before new challenges confront us. This way of thinking equates problems with unhappiness. Is it possible to establish a problem-free life for any significant length of time? I have to say no.
Sustainable happiness is not the absence of problems. Let's make that clear. No one can avoid problems. Let me re-phrase this: Everybody has problems. Yet we all know people with enormous problems who are happy and people with every advantage who are miserable.
At the most fundamental level, we need to recognize that life is filled with problems. Have I nailed that into your head, yet? (hehe) This existential outlook has percolated through Western culture and has filled volumes. "Life is difficult," are the opening words of M. Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled. "This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths," Peck writes.
To understand that life means difficulty liberates us because it helps us to understand problems and suffering as natural parts of life, not as signs of our inadequacies. There is a saying, "A small heart gets used to misery and becomes docile, while a great heart towers above misfortune." The fact that life is filled with problems is no reason to be depressed, downhearted or resigned to a miserable fate. Stoicism is not the study of life. The idea is to have life find happiness in the midst of rather in the absence of problems.
To be realistic, achieving happiness takes more than effort. You have to know what happiness is, what it is not, and, most important, have a practical way to get there. So, as they say on Sesame Street "practice, practice, practice!"
"Hell is to drift, heaven is to steer," wrote George Bernard Shaw. The more often you practice happiness, the more you will gain ever-increasing control of your inner state and, consequently, control of your exterior circumstances. You can literally take charge of your own universe and become a master of your fate by mastering your own mind.
I am very close to someone who had/has a lifelong pattern of failed relationships and jobs. She's often deeply discouraged about her future and depressed inside. It's like she's in a state of Hell without hope sometimes. However, when she focuses on a lasting relationship and a meaningful career, forward movement is made. But no matter what she is doing right, she is oftentimes plagued by the self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. Through the years, she has become more aware of her thought processes and she gradually recognized the root of her problem: self-hatred. Her inner critic constantly pestered her with thoughts of self-doubt and worthlessness. She often wonders "Why doesn't anyone love me? What's wrong with me?" As she continued to explore the definition of and practice happiness, she realized that no one cold love her because she didn't love herself. From that point forward she focused her energy on seeing her true self, her great qualities, and her own nature. She came to accept her weaknesses as natural and to witness and acknowledge her unique and wonderful assets. The more she loved and appreciated herself, the more her environment began to reflect that inner change.
Tapping into happiness also means living optimistially. Optimists are healthier and more successful. "No empowerment is so effective as self-empowerment" wrote Harvard University historian and economist David S. Landes in his book, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor. "In this world, the optimists have it, not because they are always right, but because they are always positive. Even when wrong, they are positive, and that is the way to achievement."
Feeling fulfilled is one of the many ways to practice the experience of happiness. It arises from realizing yourself and helping others to realize potential in life and exerting yourself to make it a reality. Let's call it compassion. Living on a path of helping others is living a compassionate life and that deepens the river of happiness flowing through you. Living without compassion, however, is a shallow existence. So let's keep reminding each other of that little (big) "c" word, OK?
Here's a quote from George Bernard Shaw again, from Man and Superman: "This is the true joy in life,the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world ill not devote itself to make you happy."
So, here's what I want you to take from all this psycho babble. Whether we feel happy or unhappy ultimately depends on us. Without changing our state of life, we cannot find true happiness. But when we do change our inner state, our whole world is transformed. The means for accomplishing this transformation is practicing happiness, the cornerstone of life. We practice happiness to achieve our human revolution, to reform beliefs we harbor, and to summon the inner strength to transcend ascend our personal difficulties and help others. Let's keep it going.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Until we got there.
We purchased tickets a month in advance but they wouldn't mail them to us. Instead we had to go to will-call. When we got there, about 40 minutes before game-time, we discovered that there were two will-call lines, depending on your last name. The lines for each line stretched ACROSS THE ENTIRE ENTRANCE PLAZA! After about a 30+ minute wait to get the tickets (which took about 30 seconds when we got to the window), we got to stand in another 30 minute line (AROUND THE PARKING LOT!), this time to actually go into the stadium. Only one gate of three was open (although, later someone had the bright idea to open more gates) and they were searching people right inside. (Did I mention it was about 98 degrees out?)
Once in line, the food lines took about two innings each, all of the orders were messed up, and the game became an afterthought, which is just as well since the 66'ers lost 17-2. My friend literally missed six innings just waiting in lines!
After the game, it took nearly an hour for the band and fireworks to set up, and the band (not an orchestra, as advertised, but rather a modern jazz ensemble) was terribly disorganized to the point where at one point the conductor had to help a musician sort out his music pages between pieces. (Our part of the stadium filled in the gaps by singing a rousing rendidition of Take Me Out to the Ballgame.)
Now, granted, 10,000+ people is a lot of people in the Class A California League, but, they knew they had the tickets sold, and I have seen the place sold-out before, and it never ran like it did tonight. What a nightmare. Even the parking was a disaster.
No news, just venting. My problems are now your problems. Good Night Sweet Prince (of Darkness)!
What do you get when you combine two of my favorite things, baseball & Republican-bashing, into one great piece of merchandise? Yes -- you get my annual Impeach the President All-Star Jersey!
See, it's funny because the appointed president (let's call him Chimpy McHitlerBurton, a name the right-wingers proposed, I might add) likes to refer to his father as "41" and himself as "43" (George H.W. was the 41st President, and George W. is the 43rd.) Sticking "Impeach" over the number as a name drives home the point.
At least, it would drive home the point to anyone who knew what cutesy nicknames the Boy King and his father have for each other.
At $119.99 + tax & shipping, that might be a little too much of an inside joke. Besides, the colors kind of suck this year anyway. What's with the fecal colors? Brown and yellow?? That looks like the reason we had to replace the carpet at our old house (dogs, cats, children, etc.). Yeech!