Thursday, March 31, 2011

Win Win

I don’t often promote a movie. In fact, i have never promoted a movie on any of my blogs. That plan usually backfires; instead of promoting, i get a load of crap from people saying i have terrible taste in movies. But yesterday a friend offered me free tickets to a special showing of the comedy film, Win Win. I had never heard of it and – by the promo ad – it didn’t look to be anything i would like. But what do i know?

What i admired about this film was the believability of the actors. They were like people i know. Like myself. They made the kind of mistakes we all make. And they looked like real Americana. No Brangelina’s. No studs or chicks in tight sweaters. No Hollywood schmaltz. The screenplay was wonderfully written, a light-hearted, real-life comedy that kept me laughing. And it was obvious i wasn’t the only one who felt this way – the audience clapped, laughed, and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. But there were also definite squirm-in-your-seat-moments where the desperation and difficulties we are going through as a nation in recession were quite palpable.

I give this movie two thumbs up – a definite “like.” The show is playing only in a few select theatres, so if you can’t find it playing near you, make sure to put this on your list of DVD’s to rent – or buy – when it comes out. And – head’s up – if you really want to enjoy the film, don’t watch the trailers. They give it away.


Here's a link to IMDb for a list of actors, movie synopsis, director, etc.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Denny’s® – Home of the Real People Network

5181 Foothills Blvd., Roseville, CA 95747

You will not find Denny’s® listed on the top 100 restaurants anywhere in the USA. You won’t find it under “places to visit” or “must see’s” on any city’s visitor information. It isn’t the hot topic when friends get together and chat about “that cool new restaurant” down the street.

 But Denny’s has something going for it that other restaurants don’t – it is the Home of the Real People Network. Unlike all those “Listed” and sometimes expensive restaurants, Denny’s is the warm and fuzzy, home-away-from-home place you go when you need some recharge time. It’s where we go to network our basic humanness. The back-to-basics 101 of who we are and what we need. Food. Companionship. Roof over our head. Warmth. There is nothing pretentious about Denny’s. No one expects you to get dressed to the nines. You don’t have to put on a show. You can leave your ego at home and just – be. It’s sorta Zen-like.

 To contradict myself – i like to do that – a new Denny’s just opened up across the street from where i live. And it WAS the talk of the neighborhood. People were excited! Yes! A place to go, to let go. Inexpensive food doesn’t hurt. And it’s always a major bonus to be able to order breakfast at 11 pm. In fact, you can order just about whatever you like at whatever time you like – which is such a treat. We are so constricted with rules, rules, rules everywhere we go. To be given the freedom to have something exactly like you want – well – that almost makes us giddy. And they’ve brought back the FREE Grand Slam® on your birthday! Whoo-hoo!

Happy tummy food aside, some of the best times and best memories have been made in this humble restaurant of the Real America. Seriously, who hasn’t experienced a night out on the town that ended up at Denny’s at 2am? But more than that, Denny’s is where we live our real lives.

I spoke to several people and asked for their favorite memories of Denny’s. For one girl, it was the breakfast place of choice before every family vacation. Another woman spent late nights at Denny’s studying for her Bachelor’s degree. According to her, “it was the only place i could go for some peace and quiet” – and endless coffee. “I was so tired. Coffee kept me going.” Which reminded me of hanging out with my ex and his friends when they were going through physician assistant training. We would meet up at Denny’s, take one of the large round tables in the corner, and proceed to examine every medical case down to the last detail. I have to say, their stories, while educational and oftentimes funny, tended to clear the adjacent tables of people. Lobotomy with your Grand Slam® anyone?

There were lots of stories, the meeting of friends, and the business of meetings. (That’s all management does, right? Go to meetings?) And lovers. Lovers meet. Lovers break up. One couple went on their first date at Denny’s. Cool. That’s as real and as low-key as you get. Just recently they spent their anniversary chowing down at the place that “sealed the deal.” As for myself, this will sound crazy maybe, but i like to go there and write. Yes i have a computer. But there’s something about going to a Denny’s that brings out the Muse. I like the constant hum of human voices and the occasional conversation or laughter that catches my attention. For some reason, it inspires me. And it helps that the staff is always friendly – i’ve never had a bad server at Denny’s – they keep me in constant coffee or whatever i want without a fuss.

So list-makers everywhere, add Denny’s to your list of restaurants – Home of the Real People Network.

For a Denny's near you:

Monday, March 21, 2011

March 22 - World Water Day!

Pensacola Beach, FL

Water.  It's everywhere.  Ask any number of the grumbling people on Facebook what they think of all the water we are getting in the form of rain right now and you will get an earful of discontentment.  Yes, it has been raining quite a lot.  That's why it's called the rainy season.  If we are lucky, it does this every year. 

I don't actually understand the complaints.  I come from a land of water.  Where i grew up, you're either in the Ocean or you're in a torrential downpour.  Either way you're wet.  Being in a constant state of partially wet, partially dry was how i thought Life was supposed to be. So you either love water - or you move away.  

I Love Water.

Though i moved away.

Yet water is always with me.  It fascinates me.  Water in a glass.  Reflecting, sparkling, and looking oh so tasty.  When i think refreshing - i think of a cool glass of clear water.  Water in the shower.  After a long day or a hard workout - hot water pouring over my head.  Ahhhhh!  Waking in the night to the pitter-patter of rain drops on the roof, and the sound of water rushing through the gutters and onto the sidewalks below.  Standing at my window, drops of rain weigh heavy on a bare-limbed tree.  Each drop looks like a crystal bead.  If i spent a year making ornaments, i could not create something more perfect, more pure than these tiny drops of water that decorate this tree.  

Water makes rainbows.  And rivers.  And sparkling lakes.  Water makes our bodies.  We are water.  About 70% water in fact.  No wonder our moods shift like tides with the moon.  And the Ocean.  I have spent long afternoons floating gently in the warm Gulf water, where i cannot tell where i end and water begins...

So celebrate this day - this day of water.  Celebrate your body.  The rain.  The rivers.  The Ocean.   Pour yourself a glass of water.  Look at it.  Swirl it around.  Breath in deep and drink it slowly.  Enjoy!
This is a site that i highly recommend at least taking a moment to look at, if not actually supporting.  It’s a fantastic grassroots organization that has done some marvelous work in protecting our Oceans and beach environments.  Please have a look!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bushido Lives

We have all been glued to the Internet and TV broadcasts on the crisis in Japan. And it’s difficult, if not impossible, to really get a grasp on what these people are going through, unless of course, you’ve gone through it yourself. I’ve been through a number of hurricanes and been without water and electricity – for only a day. My parents went through one back in ’04 and were without for two weeks; it took me three days after the hurricane hit to get in touch with them by phone. Many people i know lost their homes and everything except what they had on their back. Yet even this understanding of loss pales to grasp what the Japanese are experiencing.

Artist Unknown

Amidst this strife, pain, and nearly unbearable loss, the Japanese spirit has risen in silent determination. As the videos play and the photos pour in, over and over, i am witness to a people who have struggled from the mud and water, from the rubble left of their world, and who have walked forward together, as a nation, bonded in calm resilience. I have read the reports and seen the footage of the Japanese quietly standing in line waiting for what little food and water is available. No riots. No yelling. No screaming at officials or aid workers. No looting. No rape. Only understanding – what one suffers, all suffer. Only tears. Silent and beautiful on their faces. And watching this, i am overwhelmed with admiration.

And again today, while the nation is still wrestling with the logistics of getting food, water, blankets, and medical help to the survivors, 100 very brave men walked into the nuclear reactor at Fukushima Dai-ichi, knowing full well their sacrifice, to try yet again to stop the leaks and possible melt-down of the core. And they did this out of duty and dedication. To principals of pride in your work, the camaraderie of co-workers, to the love of their families, for loyalty to their nation, and for the honor they hold as a people.

To this – i bow to you in respect, with honor, and love in humanity.
The Samurai walk with us again.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

When Will Tibet Be Free?

Tibetan National Flag

March 10, 2011 – the 52nd Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day. And why should you and i care? They are half a world away – and 13.5 hours ahead of us on the US west coast. They’re almost into Friday. Why should it matter to us when Tibet will be free? Or if at all?

Because we are the United States of America. Freedom is our motto. Freedom is our belief – that humans have a right to religious freedom, a right to celebrate their culture, a right to live without terror and oppression, a right to live in peace. The foundation of who we are – is freedom. True, we had to earn that right. We struggled and fought over the years as to its meaning and to whom this freedom belonged. From the near genocide of Native Americans, slavery and segregation of Blacks, Women’s suffrage, Japanese labor camps, and others, we have learned the hard way, the embarrassingly painful and tearful way, of what it means to be free. So now we have our freedom. Can we turn a blind eye to others who fight for the same? Can we look the other way because it’s inconvenient to feel guilty?

Tibetan Monks Protest the Killings - AP photofile
Tibetan Underdog
But we have another reason to want to help Tibet become free. They’re the underdog. And Americans love an underdog. Tibetans are certainly that. Outnumbered – 2.9 million (Tibet Autonomous Region) to 1.3 billion (China). Outgunned. The Chinese government – a host of modern guns and artillery. Tibetans – rocks. Unfortunately for the Tibetans, they are peace-loving. I say unfortunate because Americans are actually quite into violence. Seriously – look at our sports, movies, books, news – we are a nation of fighters and are proud of it. If the Tibetans lined-up across their borders holding rocks in their hands, snarling like badgers protecting their dens, we’d be all for supporting them. As it is, peace and compassion tend to make us wave our hands and say, “Ah, new agers!” and walk away. Warm and fuzzy make us uncomfortable.

Yet deep-down, isn’t peace what we want? Isn’t that what we’ve been taught at Christmas time since we were little – “pray for World peace, peace on Earth, good will to men?” The Tibetans so very much want peace. But that peace will come only when they have freedom. China will certainly not release Tibet; there is too much economic gain to be had. What the Tibetans ask though is freedom to rule themselves. Freedom to practice their religion. Freedom to speak their language and celebrate their history and culture. Freedom to walk down the street without being treated as a second-class citizen. This is what they ask of the Chinese government. They ask. The reply has been violence.

Photo - unknown

Help Tibet Be Free
We can help the Tibetans gain that freedom. Our voice is strong. We can be heard. We can join them and send a message to our own leaders saying we support autonomy for Tibet. We can send a message to the Chinese embassy. We can send words of encouragement to the Tibetan refugees in India. We can help support the monasteries in exile. There is so much we can do to help these compassionate and peaceful people – our brothers and sisters of the World.

“Let freedom ring…”


Monday, March 7, 2011

Being Unpopular and Still Believing in Yourself

The other night while having dinner with a group of friends, a topic came up and i casually said, “Oh, i’ll have to post that on my blog,” to which a friend replied, “Your blog that no one ever reads?” Oooooo. When i told my roommate her response was, “what an ass!” I admit, at first i was hurt by the comment. It was like being told you’re fat. Or ugly. Or any number of things we don’t want to hear about ourselves. Yet i know what he said was true. I know it but don’t like to think about it, though the visitor counter stares me in the face every time i log on. To peel back one more layer, the real truth of the matter is not that people don’t read my blog. The truth is that i am not a popular person.

This kind of discovery is always hard on the old ego. But i don’t give ego a whole lotta leg room. Ego isn’t real. I tend to think of Ego like a character in a movie. An illusion within an illusion. Nonetheless, these little ego-pity events in life can add up faster than we can dispel them. And we tend to hoard negativity like squirrels hoard acorns. We stack them, stuff them, and bury them all around just in case there might be a shortage sometime in the near future.

Popularity vs. Likeability
In all honesty, i’ve never cared much for the idea of being popular, as is obvious by my personal life for anyone who knows me. I like Star Wars and Star Trek. I like to dress up as a pirate. I don’t watch TV and have never watched an episode of “Friends.” I don’t feel it necessary to be with someone all the time. I like mustard on my chicken sandwich. And on my French fries. I like getting up early and sipping hot tea. I’m not embarrassed to walk into an “adult shop” and make a purchase. I know all the words to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow…” So i’m unpopular. OK. But does being unpopular also mean – un-liked? Society tempts us to go down that road. Magazines, movies, talk-shows, and advertising all suggest we have to be popular to be liked, loved, and validated to be a worthy human being. Yet, popularity and likeability aren’t synonymous.

Real Belief
Does any of this matter? Being liked? Being popular? Not really. I am a writer and photographer whether anyone ever reads my words or buys my photos. It is my passion. It is what i love. It is part of who i am and what i do. It is not necessary for anyone else to believe in me because – i – am the one who has to believe.

“And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true…”