Friday, January 12, 2018

Everyday Osho

I was out for brunch with my buddy *cough! NAME DROP!* Bob Lizarraga last Sunday. We met up over at Don Cuco's, which is a local Mexican food go-to, to catch up with each other and swap stories about our respective holidays.

I always enjoy the opportunity to spend time with Bob. He's smart, funny, creative, kind and he gets that the creative mind can scream, "SQUIRREL!" at any time and go dashing down a different path. He's completely unfazed by it. We've had some very long, cool conversations because of it.

We talk about our creative projects (He has them right now. I can only listen to his with envy.), our families, politics, whatever happens to be on our minds at the moment. One of the things we talked about the last time (before Sunday) we got together was personal growth and what it means to both of us. 

We've both done some reading about Buddhism from time to time,and I can say that from my perspective, it makes a lot of practical sense. Sort of a reminder to "stay in your lane," and not worry so much about what other people are doing and allow it to throw you off your center. 

So I was really pleased when he presented me with a spare copy of the book, Everyday Osho: 365 Daily Meditations for the Here and Now. It's one of those books you can pick up, open to a random page, and get your "thought for the day." I've started to read it in the morning with my coffee, and sit with the thought or concept for a bit before getting on with my day.

Yesterday's meditation:
"The world is an echoing place. If we throw anger, anger comes back; If we throw love, love comes back."
I felt like it was very timely, given The Great Kleenex Giveaway of 2018.

Apparently, I'm doing something right, resonating in a better place than I have been. Not that I'm perfect, mind you! Far from it. But I'm coming back to a place where I can make different choices about my actions in the face of negativity. Hold my seat just a little better. Step sideways so that other's issues don't hit me in the face and become mine.

I guess getting older can bring some peace and wisdom, and not just a fluffy belly!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Try a Little -- Kleenex?

I went to visit a dear friend in Ventura over the weekend. She's the kind of friend who you don't see for ages, yet you stay in touch and when you do actually manage to get together, it's like no time has passed. I love her to bits!

We caught up about a bunch of stuff. Our respective writings. Our goals for the year, both physical and spiritual. I told her how I was ready to let the difficulties and personal horror of 2017 slide into the abyss of nastiness from whence it came and go forward, with renewed purpose, into the light and promise of 2018.

My scars are healing, and it's time to get back to creating the best life I can create for myself. To get back to actually being myself, someone I haven't seen for lo, these many years. But better. Wiser. My grandmother did it under similar circumstances. So can I.

So anyway, as I dropped my friend off at her car, she pulled out a few packs of that travel-sized Kleenex my Oma always seemed to have in her purse. And, hey! They've been upgraded to something inspirational, as well as practical! She gave me a couple of packs to remind me of my goals, and I love them! (Thanks, Dot!)

Now, one of the things I have always tried to do is to pay "it" (whatever positive "it," it is) forward if I can, and as I was tootling around the 99 Cent Store the other day, I ran across the same tissues! They sell them in packs of three, and since they're only 99 cents, I picked up a few packs to give away to people.

I mailed off a few packs to some folks who've been having some rough times, lately. I figured that maybe they could use a little good energy to keep their spirits up. After all, many people have been there for me, to uplift me when I've needed it most. I hope it helps them remember themselves in a rough time.

Yeah, I know. I'm weird. I give inspirational Kleenex.

What have you done lately to lift someone up?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

50+ Years of an Ugly Cup


As you may remember, I'm staying with my parents until I get my feet back under me and can get into my own space, again. The house happens to be the one in which I grew up, and as a result, it has a sort of time capsule feel to me. 

Some things have changed, like the paint in the living room and the new counter tops and electric range in the kitchen. Other things haven't, like the two 1950's (possibly 1960's) hanging lamps and the funky bar in the den area by the patio door.The other unchanging thing has been my mom's Ugly Cup.

Mom's Ugly Cup has been around ever since I can remember. When we had our first dog, she would let him lick the last few drops of her coffee out of it before it got washed and hung on its hook with all the other cups in the kitchen. It was her morning ritual, go-to cup.

I'm sure you have one, too.

The glaze color isn't particularly flashy or attention-grabbing. I never really liked it as a kid, though I'll admit it's grown on me over the years. The application of the glaze, itself, seems like it was a little thick and uneven. There are even marks left from where air bubbles in the glaze popped, but the glaze didn't flow enough to cover them. Perhaps it was a little underfired? I'm not sure.

Over the last fifty-plus years of use, it's gotten some crackling in it, especially on the one-fingered handle.

The clay, itself, is relatively groggy. It's not a particularly pretty color. The maker, a Japanese student who lived in my mom and dad's apartment building in Pomona, California when they were first married, didn't sand the foot, so it's still rough. She didn't sign it or put her mark on it, either, although my dad still remembers her name. 

I'll have to ask him again one day and see if she turns up in a search.
If you flip it over, you can see the foot isn't perfectly centered, that it's a little off. The foot ring has a ding in it, possibly from being set on a rack while it was still leather hard.
The form is loose and unfussy, the rim mostly round in spite of the informal squaring off of the walls. The cup itself is only large enough to hold a small amount of coffee.

I don't know what it is about this cup which has held my interest for all these years. Maybe it's the obvious hand-made-ness it has as it hangs next to its commercially made Momcat brethren. Perhaps it's the air bubbles in the glaze which made me think of moon craters when I was a kid. (Still does, really.) Maybe it's the modesty of the glaze color, itself, plain and unassuming amid the bright colors of the other mugs hanging nearby.

When I was younger, I used to think that everything which wasn't manufactured, was inferior, somehow. That if it wasn't uniform, wasn't "perfect," it was somehow defective.

Thus, Mom's Ugly Cup.

Now I know better. I embrace the handmade. The quirks. The unevenness. Evidence of the maker's hand on the clay or the glaze. Things which make a humble coffee cup unique.

The other thing I do know, is it makes me miss my studio. I want to get back on the wheel and play around with this form, to deconstruct it so I can better understand its appeal.

The Ugly Cup. Who knew it could produce such longing?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Nameless Prince/The Royal Trinity

I'm constantly amazed at how many many talented people I know! Animators, sculptors, potters, musicians, film makers and writers. Just an incredible pool of creativity!

I went to high school with Dominick Domingo, who turned out to be a thoughtful and insightful writer. I found out he'd been working in animation some years after high school, and discovered he'd released The Nameless Prince, a coming of age story about Seth Bauman, a young man living by the L.A. River, a few years ago.

From the description:
Seth Bauman has issues. His Mom split ten years ago, right after his birth, and guardian Uncle Troy won't discuss the past. Seth's only friend is Mexican immigrant Elena, whom he must walk home from school through Silverlake's gang-ravaged streets. When Elena is abducted by local gang, 'the Mayans,' Seth has no choice but to follow The Boatman of the L.A. River into the sprawling network of sewers and metro tunnels concealing the Mayan headquarters. To Seth the great labyrinth unfolds as a magical realm called 'the Interior,' whose residents immediately deem him the 'Nameless Prince' of prophecy, sent to save them from peril.
You know I loves me some meaty, urban fantasy, right? I loved that book, and was really hoping for a sequel. Well, guess what?

He recently released The Royal Trinity, a delightful continuation of Seth's story:

It's been five years since Seth rescued Elena—since he was the only one who could navigate all those abandoned metro tunnels and bring her back. They're sophomores in high school now, but Elena's stuffed away the trauma of her ordeal. She's dating Ruben, new leader of the Mayans, the very gang who abducted her for ransom. Under the guise of focusing on his studies, Seth's forgotten the magic of his own childhood.

But one moonlit night, dragonfly Fidel appears on Seth's windowsill, telling him Constantine's in trouble. Seth's taken back in time; Constantine, the Boatman was once his only friend. Seth's left to decide whether the fanciful realm he imagined as a child was simply an escape, or represents a very real world in need of rescue. More importantly, he must decide whether he should protect his heart, or get involved and venture into a world he's not even sure exists. Only in Interia will Seth learn it's by saving others that we save ourselves...

Domingo isn't just interested in Urban Fantasy, either. In his collection of stories, Where the Godless Folk Live, he delves into some of the darker aspects of the human condition:
 Just beyond the familiar is a dusty, windswept place where right and wrong confound themselves like a storm come without warning, 'when Ma says it's time to come in and you can smell the change in the air-the humidity creepin' in and push out the dry,' the way Grant tells it. Just beyond the Salt Flats is where the 'Godless Folk' live, he's always been told. Why then, he's left to wonder, does Randsberg, the tiny town on the edge of the flats, produce only two things: bible thumpers and tweakers?

Far From the Thick of Things takes us on another journey through human nature:
The pages of Far From the Thick of Things drip with incongruous, dreamlike images: a clever trollop braving an earthquake on a London street, a garage sale genie who takes wishes instead of granting them, a destitute theater actress who meets her former self in a dark alley. It's these absurd juxtapositions-the extraordinary in the ordinary-that reveal the mechanics of the universe, as well as the inner-workings of our own hearts.
I love his writing style, and that he doesn't hesitate to delve into the darkness in his own, distinctive poetic way.

On another note, Dominick has been suffering from cancer, and needs a hand with medical bills. If you can spare anything, even $5.00, please head over to Dominick Domingo's Go Fund Me page, and/or purchase a book or three as Christmas gifts for yourself and anyone on your gift-giving list! He's a good man who has always helped others before himself, so if you can help out, I know he'd appreciate it!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Hallows! 2017 Edition

Today's the day, tonight the night of nights!

For all my haunter fiends, may your rain drift away hours before the trick-or-treaters come.
May your fog lie low and no breeze disturb it.
May the scares be filled with laughter and fun, and the candy flow like water.
May "that darn prop" finally work the way it was supposed to, all along.
And may you and yours have a most blessed Samhain.

Happy New Year, my finest of friends! Click on the penny dreadful for a lengthy Halloween playlist.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Swingin' Hallowe'en

When you're a Hallowe'en devotee, there's almost nothing sweeter than a trip down the old, spider-webbed corridors of seasonal music.

What's wonderful is discovering the oldies and recognizing the roots of tunes which were re-recorded generation after generation and saying, "Hey! I know that song!"

Click on the pic for a lovely playlist of old Hallowe'en tunes!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Monday, October 23, 2017

Backwoods Maze

On Saturday night, my friends stole me away from my house for dinner and a haunt. Since we're in Burbank, they took me to the wonderful and incredibly detailed Backwoods Maze. All I can say is, "WOW!"
I think one of the benefits of living in Burbank at this time of year is that there are many, many talented people in this town who love Halloween and scaring people.
Waiting in the queue line...
 I only got a very few pictures, but they were pretty good and should give you a good idea of the quality of the haunt.
They did gorgeous work on the alien eggs, by the way. Really creepy and atmospheric while still providing some light so you don't kill yourself as you walk through.
This guy here reminded me of John Carpenter's The Thing in the very best of ways...
 If you are in the area and want to stop by this wonderful maze, hit up The Backwoods Maze on Facebook!

Happy haunting!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Backwater Gospel

A creepy little story about how when you want revenge, you better dig two graves...

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Legend of the Scarecrow - A ShellHawk's Nest Tradition

Click on the pic for a charming story about a lonely scarecrow who just wanted some friends...

This is truly one of my favorite seasonal cartoons. I hope you enjoy it!
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