Thursday, July 29, 2010

Eclectic TV Viewing

I'm not sure what's going on in my head... but I think I was the only person in America tonight flipping the TV between two completely disparate shows: the premier of "Jersey Shore" season 2 & "Who Really Discovered America" documentary on History Channel.

I avoided watching "Jersey Shore" last season out of principle, like I've refused to see the movie "Titanic". The only bit I saw was when Snookie got punched in the face. Somehow I got sucked into this season opener, though.

Earlier I was over my parent's house watching TV w/ my Dad. There, I was alternating between the Phillies game & the Monterey Pop Festival film. This was actually the first time I've seen the whole Jimi Hendrix's "Wild Thing" performance where he burned his guitar. In high school, I had a T-shirt w/ the image of him kneeling behind his flaming guitar, but had only seen posters & photos.

My Dad turned me on to the classic rock greats, so it's cool to watch footage from the time. Everyone was so wacked out of their skulls. Damn dirty hippies...

Basil Marceaux for Tennessee Gov.!

I came across this video of TN gubernatorial candidate Basil Marceaux on several humor sites.

He comes across as a total nut in this segment, but I actually found myself agreeing with alot of his ramblings. Does that make me crazy, too, I guess?

One thing I definitely don't agree with is his insistence on saying the Pledge of Allegiance daily, which is just a mindless authoritarian chant that's more in line with an empire than a modern democracy.


More Basil!:

Out of curiosity, I just went to his campaign site.

It is a treasure trove of Crazy Wisdom. I dare you to read his list of "Things of important" & not be inspired.

"4. My friends a beer stores say they must check 200 D/L a day that 400 minutes a day per clerk which is over 6 hours at $ 7.00 a hour that $ 42.00, with it mandatory then we must pay them."

"7. I find it hard to take a campaign fund from anyone because if they give me money they expect something and then they seal it with a hand shack . I think this is bribery so to keep everybody honest lets put all funds in one bucket, then divide the bucket by cities, counties and state ,then divide those buckets among who ever once want to run and nobody owes anybody."

I somehow agree with many of his positions, he's just not as 'well-polished'/'conventional'/'seemingly sane' as some other politicians!

Also, he has the best guarantee of any elected official that I've ever heard:

"VOTE FOR ME AND IF I WIN I WILL IMMUNE YOU FROM ALL STATE CRIMES FOR THE REST OF YOU LIFE! (Except violating a citizen rights this would be a special punishment )"

C'mon Tennessee, let's see what's your made of- Vote Basil!!!

No Monkey Terrorists!

It seems there were reports coming from China of militant monkeys being armed & trained by the Taliban.

Thankfully, this existential threat isn't real! Our armed forces are completely safe from hordes of ruthless monkey terrorists who would disrupt our strategic interests in the region... for now.

Monday, July 26, 2010

80s Cartoon Collage & Comic-Con

I saw the cool illustration above in my random web browsing and easily recognized most of the characters depicted. Between me & my sister & brothers we knew about pretty much every 80's era cartoon & toy characters when we were kids.

Many of my childhood favorites like Voltron, Masters of the Universe, Transformers, & GI JOE are now being revamped for a new generation decades after their original release.

Also, the ever-growing pantheon of fictional characters makes an event like this year's Comic-Con an opportunity for people to express aspects of their own personality through characters. I can appreciate the detail & creativity people put into the costumes they wear to these events, ignoring the extreme geek factor.

Despite my extensive pop-culture knowledge, I only know a fraction of the legion of characters out there:

Also my brother sent me a link today with a picture from Comic-Con of the ultimate power in the Marvel Universe: The Infinity Gauntlet.

This was part of a storyline back in my youth when I used to collect comics- centered around six mystical gems that individually controlled different aspects of reality. Used together, they made the user omnipotent. (In comic book terms, that basically means you can do alot of cool stuff.)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Big Paul's Adventures in History

I have alot of photos of my Dad sleeping in many different chairs on many different occasions.

He has worked hard in the food retail business all his life, but when he gets a chance to sit down & relax it inevitably turns into a snoozefest. Family events or holidays inevitably become napping opportunities for the big guy.

My old friend Dan J. gave me the idea to have him sleeping right through important times in history. I thought this idea was hysterical & created this series of "snapshots" showing Big Paul experiencing historic events in his own special way.

Here is the first set of the series of "adventures" that I'm compiling into an online photo album, with more to come:

"Big Paul's Adventures in History"
Creation of Man
My Dad rebuffs God's extended hand & the effort at Creation.

"Big Paul's Adventures in History"
The 10 Commandmen
My Dad is totally unfazed at the fury of Moses
toward the disobedient Israelites.

"Big Paul's Adventures in History"
Washington's Crossing

My Dad sleeps soundly as the American Revolutionaries
cross the Delaware River, led by General Washington.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

GRITtv: Hydrofracking for Natural Gas

I posted recently about the film Gasland by Josh Fox that examines the effects of natural gas extraction on the environment & surrounding communities.

"Gasland" & the Danger of Gas Drilling"

There is an excellent report that I just saw on GRITtv that investigates the "fracking" drilling issue. Isabela Braverman looks at the concerns of people here in New Jersey and the surrounding states. Despite the heroic efforts of these journalists, most of the millions who would be affected aren't even aware of the issue.

With the ecological disaster in the Gulf caused by these archaic methods of energy production, you'd expect more caution in dealing with places like the important Delaware River corridor. The idea that the right to property & industry supersedes the public health & the common good is completely idiotic and irresponsible. Just coming back from a week-long commune with nature, it's even more disturbing to see the potential for devastation in such a vast & rich area between NY & Delaware.

All the resources spent on our Oil Crusades could be used to create solar collection, algae-based energy, or figure out how to pull energy straight out of the quantum field. I thought we were living in the future dammit!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pocono 2010 Photo Album

I uploaded the photos from my week in the Poconos to my photo album.

Photo Album:
"Poconos 2010"

The pics of weird stuff like the outhouse & dinosaurs are from the Country Junction maze of random craziness that I posted about earlier. In addition to Fake Obama, I got my picture taken with a fake pirate hooker there, too. Fun times!

Another funny picture is of the sculpture my brother dubbed "Wolf Porn". We have an ongoing contest going among all of us- to see who finds the most bizarrely hilarious items when we are shopping somewhere.

Overall it was a great week of relaxation & time with my family that I really enjoyed.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pocono Serpent Quest

One hair-raising incident stood out during my otherwise relaxing vacation week in the Poconos. The weather was nice most of the week & I was outside as much as possible, sitting on the deck, kayaking, lounging or swimming in the lake. 

  Two days out of the week my brother-in-law & I went hiking trails along the Lehigh River Gorge in the mountains. We both really enjoy the outdoors and especially a long nature trek. The first trip was on Tuesday & it was overcast when we started. It wasn't supposed to rain till midnight, but halfway into the hike I saw lightning over a distant mountain & thought "that's not good." We picked up the pace as it started to rain & thunder on us and rushed the couple miles back up & down the mountains to get back to his truck, soaked & exhausted. We felt a little better after a few beers at the local pub before heading home. The second trip we took to hike the trails we previously missed was on Thursday. The weather was much nicer & we had a more relaxed pace. 

 As we hiked Greg & I were discussing deep philosophical issues, religious ideas, & scientific theories. However, Nature soon gave a reality check to our high-minded discussions. As we walked one of the more traveled trails, I caught a flicker out of the corner of my eye & jumped back. Along the side of the trail was a 5ft long black rat snake sprawled out in the leaves. It took me by surprise, but we weren't too worried about it. I took a few pictures & we were on our way. 


Even this unique serpentine encounter couldn't prepare me for what we saw next. As we headed down to the level of a trail along a creek, the path got narrow & overgrown probably due to a lack of use. I was walking along the foot-wide path when I heard Greg yell from behind me. I turned to see him staring open-mouthed at a huge snake with a diamond pattern along its curled-up body on the edge of the trail. He exclaimed "That's a rattlesnake!!!"


I knew it was a rattlesnake, too, but I couldn't believe it was right there in front of me. My mind was pretty much in alarm mode at that point, but later I shuddered to think that I had walked right next to it without seeing it & could've easily STEPPED on it, while wearing just sneakers & shorts. Greg kept his distance about 10 ft up the trail from where we came, but I had unknowingly walked by this dangerous creature already- so it was between us- & one of us had to cross its path! Having already cheated death, I decided to at least get photos of it & zoomed in on my camera while holding it out as far as possible so I could stay outside its striking range. After taking a couple pics, I turned my camera to get a vertical shot when I guess it had enough. We heard a loud rattle as the snake straightened out instantly & shot into the brush along the trail, directly away from me, thankfully! 

 At this point, I leaped back up the trail toward Greg & we sprinted about 100 ft up the trail. We were both pouring with sweat & had our adrenaline pumping. It left us totally awestruck at the encounter, and we were willing to completely backtrack up the mountain to avoid going in that direction again. That dreadful rattle triggered the most primal flight mechanisms possible. As Greg observed, we instantly turned from hiking philosophers to mindless panicking monkeys. 

 The rest of hike was totally nerve-wracking. Every step seemed like a potential hiding spot for a well-camouflaged rattler. I found a walking stick and tapped it along the rest of the trail like a blind man till we got to the truck. Later that night, by sheer coincidence, an epsiode of "I Was Bitten" was on TV that recreated (what else?) rattlesnake encounters. I started to feel like I was receiving signs from Kukulkan the Feathered Serpent or some other crazy serpent power. Although according to the Pennsylvania State Park website, nobody has died from a timber rattlesnake bite in the state for 25 years, the situation is still unsettling to think about. Like all things in life, though, the most important thing is that it makes for a great story!

Hanging with Obama at Country Junction

While I was in the Poconos last week, my family took a trip to a place called Country Junction. Before even setting foot in the place, I said it looked like a hillbilly mall.

There was a petting zoo outside with plenty of filthy animals to throw food at & a playground full of rusty metal toys and kiddie wagons with broken wheels.

Inside what's dubbed as "The World's Largest General Store", there is a labyrinth of surprisingly high-end items like mounted exotic animals, furniture, art, & all kinds of other expensive crap. There was even a fully functioning theater room in the middle of the place that was playing "Star Wars: Episode I" on the projector screen. I thought the super-loud surround sound system that was blasting the Tatooine pod race would scare my nephew, but he was really into it after he saw R2-D2 on the screen & I told him how cool the fast 'cars' looked.

Anyway, at the front of the store there was a life-size replica of Obama sitting on a bench, so I had to get my picture with him:

Political Spectrum - corrected

While I was on vacation, a reader named Chris made the astute observation that the word "political" in my Political Spectrum graphic was spelled wrong. Oops.

I'm surprised anyone is even looking at this blog, but I'm glad somebody pointed that out.

The Monkey Buddha:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Poconos 2010 Preview

I'm vacationing in the Poconos with my entire family for the week. The week is halfway over & we have all been having a blast. I've taken alot of great photos already, but since nobody brought cables for their cameras, I can't upload them.

I took a couple photos on my phone, so I could download them through Bluetooth onto my brother's laptop until I get home to upload the rest.

This is the view from the 2nd story deck of the house we are staying at. It is a totally awesome spot & we are enjoying every minute:

I took this photo at a beautiful waterfall at the end of a local trail that I hiked with one of my brothers, my sister, & brother-in-law w/ my nephew in his baby-carrying backpack:

To be continued....

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Jobs & the Economy: Simplified

I like my information 2 ways: simple & visual.

Despite being a massive, complex system, The Economy & it's problems can still be explained in terms that anyone can understand.

I saw this graphic on & thought it summed up the effect of "Free Trade" on American jobs quite nicely:

As far as the financial sector aka. 'Wall Street' goes, this video I saw on WRH also succinctly outlines the reality of America's indentured servitude:

I also came across this chart on DailyKos that illustrates the sources of the budget deficit. The 'deficit hawks' who demand cuts to 'entitlement' programs & government services as top priority are wrong.

Our first steps to restoring fiscal sanity should actually be to:

1) Slash the hell out of military spending & end our foreign occupations. Democracy over Empire. (Crazy, I know.)

2) Eliminate corporate tax loopholes gamed by mega-industries like Big Oil.
3) Let the Bush Administration's plutocratic tax cuts expire on those making over $250,000. Of course, some of America's financial elite will bitch & moan about any kind of tax increase, no matter how wealthy they become. As someone who is content to make a modest living, I have absolutely no sympathy for the extra thousands of dollars they may have to sacrifice. They can go hide on their yachts and cry about it into a golden handkerchief for all I care.

This final chart shows the disproportional benefit of Bush's tax cuts for the super-rich:

This was just one of the countless ways George W. Bush deceived & sabotaged the average plebeians in this country during his regressive 8 years in office. Obama's only had over a year to dig out of the cesspool, but there is still a mountain of crap to clear & he's not digging nearly fast enough.

Too Close to a Lightsaber?

Recently, I posted about the feasibility of creating a weapon similar to a Star Wars lightsaber.

Around the same time, my brother-in-law sent me a link to a company that is producing high-powered portable blue lasers that can burn through many common materials.

A couple weekends ago, we were sitting by a bonfire one night seriously considering buying one of these lasers to start campfires & just burn all kinds of crap.

To give the devices even more geek appeal, the casing of the laser resembles the hilt of a lightsaber. Coincidence, right?

George Lucas's lawyers don't think so, & are making copyright claims on the casing design. I saw this CNN article in which Lucasfilms claims Wicked Lasers has copied the iconic look of the Jedi weapon and has issued a cease & desist.

"'Star Wars' Creator Says
Laser Too Much Like Lightsaber"

Maybe I should get one- before The Bearded One has them pulled off the market...

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Dalai Lama Turns 75

Today was the birthday of Tenzin Gyatso, better known as The Dalai Lama.

This extraordinary global figure in the guise of a wizened old man is the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, a country with its own unique strains of Buddhism. His main message over the last half-century has been that of the power of Compassion, even toward one's enemies.

I've been inspired throughout my adult life by aspects of all the modes of religious thought I've encountered. Growing up, my only religious exposure was to the Methodist Christian tradition & occasionally a Catholic mass. As a high school student, I was also interested in Greek & Roman mythology, but public school didn't introduce students to the wider range of theological perspectives.

My college years were the craziest & most transformative period of my life. During this often chaotic time, I had a "Religions of the World" class that exposed me to humanity's vast reserve of spiritual wisdom. Once this spark was lit, I was set on a lifetime of deeper investigation & contemplation of religion in all forms.

My Christian background will always be the foundation of my core morality. Really, one's entire moral existence can be guided by the Golden Rule. (The Ten Commandments are so Old Testament!)

Buddhist thought, however, has given me valuable insights regarding the nature of the human mind and the suffering that plagues it. I am more interested in the philosophical & psychological aspects of Buddhism more than the devotional rituals & pantheon of deities. The interesting thing about Buddhism is that it ultimately recognizes their gods to be of the same nature of all devotional Gods - imaginary. This doesn't mean such beings aren't 'real'- but that they are internal, as opposed to external, phenomena. Are dreams 'real'? are memories 'real'?

The illusory nature of all perceptual phenomena is explicitly referred to in more esoteric texts like The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying: The Bardo Thödol. Regardless of religion, personalized deities are all creations of the human mind.

"God" is not a separate entity from man - Everything is One & All.

I tend to think along Taoist lines which is similar to the ancient Hebrew view of trying to describe the Eternal:

"The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name."

This opening verse to the Tao Te Ching is a proto-Zen paradox that's needed to keep your mind clear of any false mental constructs regarding the divine source.

My interest in Buddhist philosophy has led me to read several of the Dalai Lama's books in particular, including:

Mind of Clear Light

Sleeping, Dreaming, Dying

A Simple Path

The humorous attitude, humility, and evidently compassionate nature of the Dalai Lama are an inspiration to me and millions around the world, Buddhists & also people of other faiths. He has repeatedly asserted that he is no more than a man, a simple monk trying to improve the human situation.

Dalai Lama Quotes

Hopefully this amazing man endures a while longer to continue shining the Buddha's timeless message of compassion & moderate living in his uniquely uplifting way.

Even the Dalai Lama's mind can't be fully prepared for a random meeting with hip-hop & crack icon Bobby Brown. "Nice to meet you Mr. Lama." HAHAHA! The world is crazier than any of us can ever understand...

Saturday, July 03, 2010

The Political Spectrum

Anyone who knows me knows that I enjoy discussing politics, among other topics.

Although I try to maintain an objective & logical perspective on the world, merely by discussing anything you open yourself up to subjective interpretation. Especially in politics, it is often a game of words that try to model perceptions around an agenda.

Despite the dangers of generalizing with labels, like 'conservative', 'liberal', 'fascist', 'progressive', 'Marxist', 'Teabagger', etc. etc. it's difficult not to discuss human issues without relying on timeless human conventions, like mockery & name-calling.

Labels may be misleading, but I believe there seems to definitely be a "Political Spectrum" in which you can plot various figures in world culture along a plane of philosophical & ideological tendencies.

I had this idea in my head to create a chart showing this ideological spectrum, so I took a couple nights and put it together. It's been finished for a few weeks but I decided to wait until 4th of July Weekend to truly celebrate America's Independence Day- with the most profound & accurate political infographic ever created! (Strictly for parody purposes, of course)

click to enlarge
"The Political Spectrum"

I did this for fun & it turned out exactly as I envisioned it. I'm sure some people may disagree with it, find offense, or whatever. This spectrum is 100% accurate and scientifically irrefutable, so such arguments are in vain.

Since I am in a rush to start my holiday weekend w/ crabs, beer, & horseshoes I'll give a quick rundown on some of my thoughts making this picture:

• Obviously, the spectrum goes from blue/left/liberal to red/right/conservative. I tend to gravitate toward the liberal end of the spectrum. Surprise!

• Can anyone argue that Scrooge McDuck, Rush Limbaugh, Rich Uncle Pennybags, & Dick Cheney are not of a similar nature? Can't the same be said for Willie Nelson, Yoda, the Dalai Lama, and John Lennon? It seems undeniable.

• I put "Mooselini" Sarah Palin next to the other fascist Mussolini, Benito "Il Duce".

• I also had to put The Dalai Lama next to his derivative personality, Yoda.

• On one extreme, you have bald & bespectacled Ghandi. On the other extreme, his shadow opposite- bald & bespectacled Dick Cheney.

• Once again, I've linked Dick Cheney to his fictional counterpart, Emperor Palpatine.

• This whole "Political Spectrum" conspiracy is making Glenn Beck cry like a little girl, as usual. Maybe it's Vader breathing down his neck.

• I couldn't resist giving that socialist tyrant President Obama devil horns out of the star points, just for giggles... (or is he actually the Star Messiah?) I actually think he's doing a good job, considering the circumstances. It baffles me how can anyone think he's The Anti-christ or evil after 8 years of Bush/Cheney.

• Obama has his ear to the conservative side... will he be sucked into their vortex of regressive politics?!?

• Adolf Hitler is staring longingly at his perfect Aryan princess, Ann Coulter.

• Hitler-worshipper Eric Cartman is breaking out of the bottom right corner: "Screw you guys, I'm goin' home!" He shows the tendency for right-wingers, who espouse authoritarianism, to break rules when they feel it suits them personally.

• I inserted myself in the mix, as The Monkey Buddha avatar.

Breakfast by the Lake

I was just eating a hearty Wawa breakfast at the park by the lake across the street.

It is 90º & breezy outside. In other words- beautiful.

I wanted to post some pictures of my serene morning before I put up my 4th of July post. Then, I'm spending the rest of the weekend to eat, drink, & play yard games.

God, I love the Summertime.

Monkey Business T-shirt

I saw this soldout Threadless T-shirt of a badass Monkey Godfather & thought it was pretty awesome.

"Monkey Business"
by Alex Solis