Cheryl Pappas
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Grabbing Power and Humor by the “Pu**y”

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

 

Trump is a mad man in a blizzard orchestrating the removal of freedom  in a country called America.

In the following way, he tells one (lonely) truth.  He is the President getting more things done in his first 100 days than any other.  To understand this, we count the number of dastardly missions accomplished since his beginning.

Should we start with Trump today rolling back rules from Michelle Obama’s school eating initiatives to combat obesity or Trump’s White House invitation to Rodrigo Duterte, the murderous leader of the Philippines,  and count back from there?  Or shall we start with either his “pussy”-grabbing brags or his false statements about the bigness of the Inauguration crowd and move forth?  Surely if he had a mentally well character, he would not be broadcasting what he is “achieving”.  In this way, it is not just his deeds but his pride in himself  for these “achievements” as he blasts them forth, that reveals his sickness and the danger of him.

While psychology experts are calling him “narcissistic”, it may be more accurate to inquire about the actual condition of his brain.

Narcissism is surely in the mix, yet that alone would only account for the need to be unconditionally loved as well as to side-step personal responsibility.

Here’s the “January surprise”.

It seems to me that following his Inauguration, he abruptly dispensed with people-pleasing and has devolved into a mad destroyer of all that is humane. His extreme shift to being disinterested in whether the audience loves him is particularly disturbing.  The hope was that, as a narcissist, he would keep a tangential concern with the level of popularity every one of his actions or intents would glean, and thus steer the ship accordingly.  No such luck, it appears.

Perhaps his new audience is exclusively internal, and is not “the American people”.  Ha.  And the voters thought he cared.

Regrettably, psychological categories and analyses do not help us, as news of the daily plundering of all that is good and decent in our way of life, flies on and off the headlines.  How to absorb the alarm? Each news flash replaced with something worse that he either does or says he is contemplating.

Aside from freedom, dignity, compassion, unity, we are also quickly losing our sense of humor.

There is a short comedic shelf life for evil before it becomes unwatchable.  The novelty of Trump is on fade-out.

The government is so currently wacky that Saturday Night Live can no longer provide relief.  Watching Saturday Night Live is like watching an irritating, unnecessary, not-funny imitation/ reenactment of the week’s irritating, unnecessary, not-funny news. I can’t watch it anymore, even as I know how spot-on the impersonations are.  Extreme impersonations, such as Alec Baldwin’s Trump, are redundant.  No one can touch the outrageousness of Trump himself.

Satire is currently DOA in the face of the truth.

And that, my friends, may be the worst thing of all.

As long as there is levity, the wheels of our intelligence are oiled for a comeback, for our imaginations to save us, for brainstorming our way out of our imprisonment.

Let us gather together with people who care and find again, amidst our passion and tears, the laughter that makes positive action possible.

 

 

 

“Protester”: The Making of a New Dirty Word

Saturday, May 28th, 2016

BREAKING NEWS:   MEANING OF THE WORD, “PROTESTER” OFFICIALLY CHANGES FOM ONE WHO PROTESTS TO ONE WHO IS VIOLENT AND INSANE

I am one of those people who watch television news obsessively to witness how truth is erased, twisted, spun, and replaced by paid-for news stories delivered by well-coiffed men and women who appear to simply be innocently “reading the news”.

(By the way, is it necessary to smile while presenting clips of global bloodbaths and reporting weather catastrophes? Just wondering).

I am hooked on watching people lie in the public media where millions of people tune in for their daily “news”.

The Trump and Clinton tours are similarly dispiriting.  Clinton and Trump are in solid company with bending truths and reaching away from the real to grab the popular.  They are so brazen in their desperate messaging that it is an irresistible showcase to easily view where we are in this country.

Note the politician’s now normalized use of the term, “misspoke”, as another way of saying, “I lied”.  Listen for it.

The practice of watching corporate-sponsored, well-paid news network liars lie, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call in the psychology biz, “masochistic”.

By that I mean I am consistently alarmed, outraged, even extremely disheartened.  And yet I persist.

What am I hoping to see?

What I am not hoping to see is a massive replayed film clip of someone picking up a chair at a campaign event and having the story told that chairs were “thrown”.

This is exactly what the news this week has centered on.

Preasumably, these “chair throwers” were Bernie Sanders acolytes at a Trump rally.

Doesn’t matter at all that every true witness on the ground that evening never saw a thrown chair.

News reporters from all networks, including cable channels left and right, appeared at the venue to tell the chair-throwing lie, while live footage of angry, loud protesters conveniently was used as evidence of the false allegation.  There’s nothing like anger to promote the illusion of violence.  Point scored for the “home” team.

While serving as the current example of a naked media lie, what a grand opportunity to promote the protester as violent and insane.

Of course, there are insane and violent people in any group.  Protesting, however, is not synonymous with violence, and is not an insane activity.  Protesting is actually the essence of sanity in an insane world.  There is not nearly enough thoughtful protest in this country.

Brilliant public relations to smear the act of protest and protesters, but brilliant on behalf of what?  For whom does this demonizing of the protester serve?

Surely, the protesting of false information is a terrible threat to those who peddle it.

It is outrageous to have to accept that our country’s biggest media today, both print and televised, presents biased fictional news about world events and our lives, along with celebrity “breaking news” stories considered to be news, and that this whole mess is taking the place of what once was called, “journalism”!

Many Americans don’t have a clue that there could be real news somewhere, or that it’s not being delivered.  Those who are aware are too overwhelmed to dwell upon it, and are resigned to “the way it is”.

There are many of us in this latter camp. We talk amongst ourselves about the media lies du jour, a shared, fundamental sigh infusing our sad words.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating:  America is a depressed nation.  Is it any wonder that Americans are individually so depressed?

The worst truth is that we are in such a depth of depressed anger and denial that many will regard this essay as “negative”.

We are so overwhelmed and flummoxed by the swift overtaking of public truth that we fail to act, let alone protest.

Psychology explains the danger in avoiding unattractive truth.

The reason psychotherapy has a prayer of being successful is that unless you identify and acknowledge the existence of a problem, there is zero possibility to change it.

So we are asleep and America is depressed.  If you don’t believe me, look around.  Look up from your life-replacing hand-held device.  Look into the empty eyes of people all around you.

Voila.  It’s not pretty, but it has been achieved to the point where “news” and other dangerously false promotions are not questioned by many people.

We are too exaggeratedly engaged by computer living.

As a strategy for distracting people, how utterly brilliant and successful.

I’m not talking conspiracy. I’m talking money, power, politics.

And if we become considered violent crazies because we protest,  all the better.

“Children should be seen and not heard” was a familiar refrain in the ice ages of my childhood.

The American people are the new “children” in this age.

Seen and not heard.

“Protester” is the new dirty word.

Nobody threw a chair this week.

What will next week’s fiction be?

Celebrating Elaine May: The 2016 WGA West Screenwriting Award

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

Elaine May returns to the spotlight on February 13, in Los Angeles, to accept the WGA West Screenwriting Award, for her original and prolific, credited and un-credited, screenwriting brilliance over many decades.
Why are some people hyper-famous for having no talent while others are original, brilliant, and relatively unknown?
In the case of writer/director/comic pioneer/actress Elaine May, resident planetary genius, she has chosen a largely shadowed career in exchange for the infinite horizon of creative autonomy.
In other words, no TMZ sound bites, while boarding a plane and munching a rice cake, for her!
Elaine May was a pioneer of comedy improv, with her partner, Mike Nichols, who came together as comedy soul mates in Chicago’s 1950’s Second City, the progenitor of SNL.
As the “May” in “Nichols and May”, her career path appeared to be stratospheric, with no hint of an end in sight.
Their genius together was one of those lifetime moments of perfect fate. They were individually unlike anyone else, each insanely gifted with unique comic voices, and together—-whamo!
The live-wired intellect and emotional skin they shared made them appear seemlessly attached, organically yet also, as they played it, thoughtlessly.
Everyone was in on the joke, including Elaine and Mike.
Elaine May and Mike Nichols invited the audience to simultaneously laugh, cry, feel themselves as funny, change the way they told the truth about the world and themselves, and have a hell of a fabulous time.
It was mind-blowing and freshly hatched and everyone loved them.
They played literate, coolly zany, and self-deprecating characters; characters with no psychological self-understanding, and leaking with the adamant lack of it.
In a nutshell, only one among the many, the essence of the work of Mike Nichols and Elaine May was about how unconscious we are, how it’s a tragedy that is extremely funny. Their characters were familiar, hysterical and iconic.(INSERT MOTHER PIECE)
Who better to make the point that we are not awake than these two mad geniuses?
I suppose, from a writer’s point of view, this is a story about choosing, in both their cases, to take consistent incremental steps, and risks, toward an artistic public career. Because the work is what you do best and is so much fun, you keep doing it. Though maybe you are not quite developmentally ready for that personal, emotional shift from private to public.
Maybe you don’t want it.
Mike Nichols has said much on the topic of the adoration and mainstream acceptance their act received, pointing out that they were flummoxed by the applause and popularity they had.
After the famous break-up of Nichols and May, May emerged as a director of four films, “A New Leaf” (1971), “The Heartbreak Kid (1972), “Mikey and Nicky” (1976), and “Ishtar” (1987).
She became, unsurprisingly, a quotable screenwriter, prolific playwright, and exceptional comic actress celebrated for writing hugely successful screenplays, such as, “Heaven Can Wait” and “The Birdcage”, while remaining deliberately un-credited in many, many more.
In fact, she is famous for choosing to be un-credited in her script writing and doctoring.
(Remember I said she chose to have a shadowed career? This was me, “foreshadowing”).
The real truth is, there is absolutely no way Elaine May can hide from us, because once you know Elaine May’s comic voice, you hear her in every script she’s had her paws on. And once you hear Elaine May’s speaking voice, you never forget it.
She is highly respected in her career of being an un-credited writer of numerous films, which is itself, an interesting idea for a film character. “Tootsie”, is one of many reputed May-written masterpieces. It is a film in which Dustin Hoffman’s character delivers a desperate defense of his acting talent and pleads with his agent to get him work, with the line, “I did an evening of vegetables!” Pure Elaine.
Since it was Elaine’s idea to carve a career from un-credited screenwriting, let’s consider that maybe this is an emblematic game that tickles Elaine. Elaine May is playing hide and seek with us.
Which makes us want her even more.
And yet, she is stepping out at the moment.
She recently directed an unforgettable episode of the high quality PBS series, “American Masters”, on Mike Nichols, having aired on January 29, 2016.
The documentary spells out, in Mike’s own words, that Elaine May was the shining apex of his career. I predict that Elaine wins the Emmy for Documentary for this beautifully directed, achingly loving tribute to her stand-up partner, Mike.
Okay, so Elaine doesn’t want to live a public life.
In television vernacular, “I get it”.
Once you review her work, you will know how she also taunts us to want her words, her mind, to need much more of her.
In this way, she may be giving us a wry, unconsciously flirtatious, “f**k you”, and not even know it!
Personal note to Elaine May: Whatever this hide and seek is designed to achieve (or not), in the paraphrased spirit of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, “You, Elaine, may not want to play (vote) with us, but we will never stop celebrating you”.

Turning The Page On Hatred and Commercial Christmas “CaCa”

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

The convergence of the holiday and ramping-up political seasons are upon us. The most wonderful time of the year, right?
Maybe yes, is the surprising answer.
The Republican candidates are openly displaying their hatred and ignorance like never before. Their insanity is a gift, because it is so transparently insane.
It has become impossible to ignore the ugly underbelly of the anti-people messaging.
Yes. Anti-humanity, anti-generosity, anti-love.
Quick question. If one is against abortion on the justification of love for the fetus and human life, how is it possible to hate women who consider abortion and the doctors who help them. Are they not also human and deserving of staying alive?
We all know by heart this line of wonder and the absurdity of attacks on Planned Parenthood and a woman’s right to choose abortion.
I am preaching to the congregation here.
I am also offering a peak of possitivity in the current shift in our society.
The Republican candidates are staging a circus day and night, the performers getting louder and more mindless, seemingly to out-idiot each other a la late night lounge performances.
Their initial show, stunningly cast and hysterically scripted–Trump, the “doctor”, Rubio, Cruz, et al— struck many as entertaining and surprisingly transparent, yet the thrill is gone. More and more people are remembering that this is our country we are talking about, and stupid jokes are free to belch out where ever appropriate, as in off-hour comedy clubs for a drunk audience.
Americans are drunk with denial and hope, but not that drunk!
In spite of the cheerleaders and champions on the right who hoarsely hawk their wares on cable news, viewers and the general public are exhausted by outrageous lies and negativity.
This is the change that we may have to listen carefully for, but it is there to be heard. Even as the voices of hate attempt to scare us, in ever more shrieking octaves.
The problem is that people who enjoy an open forum for hate-spewing are particularly excited to grab it now that election campaigning is in full swing.
The terror attacks in Paris certainly open the door for more fear attacks on people of the world, brought to us by the media and people who profit by spreading hate.
Have you ever wondered why peace-loving people are not hyped up with intense agitation to scream their views on cable news?
And yes, on the commercial Christmas front, Mercedes and Lexus commercials gobble up television air space, as if luxury cars make a viable, reasonable gift choice for the masses to bestow upon their loved ones.
However, there is also a successful ad campaign for a trio of department stores, including Marshall’s, featuring a reminder that the greatest things in life, i.e. love, are free. This is quickly followed, of course, by the suggestion that cheap holiday gifts can be found at their stores, but still, the approach is uncommonly humane for corporate Christmas.
The Trump hysteria is sputtering to a halt like a dying battery as Trump Trumps himself in his demonstration of just how emotionally out of control he is. This latest example that includes his wiggling his formidable body like a spastic idiot, where he mimics a physically impaired naysayer, is surely evidence of a leaky mental state.
It turns out, ladies and gents, that this is a collapsing bridge too far, even for Republicans.
Could the gift of this season be that people are not just wiped-out but also fundamentally and consciously turned off by greed and hate?
Are we turning the page on hatred?
Are more of us turning away from empty commercial holiday happiness distractions?
Look and listen for this.
It’s a happening thing.

The Trumping of Real Over Unreal

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Donald Trump is producing an endless field day of a political season for any psychologically inclined media looky loo.
The outrage and shock waves following Trump’s every word are so extreme that the noise pours into the streets and rocks the political media theatre daily.
This stunning showing in the polls that Trump is achieving, which seemingly grows as we go along, is a matter of great meaning.
I think there is something even deeper and stronger in Trump’s appeal beyond the important issue of immigration.
In spite of the tsunami of opinion pieces which are either heart-felt expressions of disdain for Trump, or manipulated attempts to erase the so-called “clown” from the political arena, Trump is currently trumping them all.

Why is Trump so popular, and at the moment, so potentially viable as a candidate for president of the United States? Opinion columns are choked with theories, ranging from summer media ennui to the great numbers of closet immigrant haters who secretly align with the overtly prejudiced to Trump’s financial acumen and success in a time of American middle class erosion.
The answer, I believe, is not blowing in the wind. It is, instead, the very humid unstirred American air we breathe in 2015.
In short, Americans stand, a la the movie, Network, in greater numbers than have been recently imagined, at their metaphorical windows, yelling, “We’ve had enough and we are not going to take it anymore!”

We have had enough transparently phony political non-speak from candidates with corporate money who remove our trust in government.
Perhaps anyone running for president who would have dared to speak spontaneously without a script would have stopped us in our tracks.
We are starving for anything real; to be said, considered, declared, and enacted.
I say, “starving”, because the impoverishment of truth has been on a steep incline for all to see for a vast amount of time. Surely the outpouring of government lies has soared into infinity since 9/11.
You can see the responses to the lack of political and media truth in the anger, impatience, and growing hysteria of the populace. Shootings, crashes, word wars in the news. Hate seems heavily on display, maybe even more than usual.
People are hurting financially and the upbeat economic nightly news does nothing to change that.
Too many issues, inconsistencies, bad financial conditions, wars, and confused reporting on it all has led to a growing unease, puncturing even our hearty American habits of denial, overwhelm, and intellectual laziness.
Every thinking person knows the media news is airbrushed, if not reeking with lies, and the American response has been to silently simmer and retreat, until now.
Trump’s media presence is a blood red blooming patch upstaging a field of plastic artificial flowers.

Trump’s greatest challenge is, of course, whether he can pull the ego mania back and present his material with specific substance, factual footnotes, and a much more quiet confidence.
That is more than an iffy proposition.
But really, is it any wonder that a rich, powerful man who dares and delights in blasting forth his unvarnished truths has a following?
This, in spite of his brash style, infamous scowl, bellicose posture, controversial immigration position, and made-for-comedy hair.
The question remains. In the middle of a crisis, who would you rely on for truth?
As much as I want to believe her, Hillary Clinton?

Just Asking

Monday, June 15th, 2015

I admit it. I’m a word freak.
I care so much about how conversation and vocabulary have become meaningless dust that blows away, that I  have decided to come out with my alarm.

People are yakking and yakking up a storm and saying nothing.

Have you noticed?

One reason is that they are afraid to tell the truth, and also to deal with truth.

If this annoys you, and well it should, watch out for my rants on how what we say has become empty and I’m going to talk about it!

Today’s empty phrase is “just saying“.

What, I ask you, is the difference between “I’m just saying” and “I am saying”?
Not much, you may believe.
However, upon closer examination, “just saying” removes all liability and personal commitment to anything you might say.
I’m talking here about things that are said that are not funny, but potentially informative.

As in, “You have long nose hairs.  Just saying”.

“Just saying” is a hand-holding cousin to “just kidding“.
Are you just kidding or have I suddenly sprung hairs in my nose?

In other words, if you are just kidding, just kid!

Perhaps you are testing the waters, or fearing that you are about to be deleted, yourself, for daring to make a statement of any kind.
This is clearly a matter for elite philosophers.
Why is it that even when answering a basic question such as, what is your name? the answer itself often comes with a question mark.

It goes like this.
Question:  What is your name?
Answer:  Cheryl?

I understand that the goal of conversation is to water words down to a degree where no one can possibly be offended.
God forbid someone doesn’t like my name.
I offer them, by way of a question mark, a democratic choice.
Yes, this technically allows others to choose their own name for me.
Cool. I’m nothing if not open to change.

I vote–because who am I to set a rule?–that “just saying” be relegated to being a joke tagline.

Here’s a friendly example:
“Real estate prices on the Westside of Los Angeles have tripled in the last 3 years and it will soon be impossible for lower income people (who used to be middle class) to buy a home.
I’m just saying”.

I Love Me!: New Stories For Children

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

“I Am Lilly” and “Penelope’s Pearls” are a new dynamic duo of children’s books, written by Annie Reiner.
Annie Reiner comes from a gold-medal show biz family. Her father, Carl Reiner, is a comedy legend.
She has the chops of a writer and artist, one who has chosen to devote her career to the care of her patients, as a psychoanalyst in private practice. A psychoanalyst whose focus is on early childhood.
Who better to write books for children?

It’s a tragic fact that young children are often not loved in a deep way that stays with them forever.
Early childhood is a particularly vulnerable time when each child’s view of her or himself is a tender seed, with the roots of a lifetime at stake.
What a wonderful advantage when a beautiful children’s book appears to help the young child at these tender growing moments!

Both books, “I Am Lilly” and “Penelope’s Pearls”, are lean in length yet deep and resonant in their ability to communicate the often nonverbal longings of children.
What fun they are and how artfully presented.

Here we have an infusion of art and words woven with exquisite tenderness.
The voice of each book is the voice of an angel beckoning the child to come close enough to enter this most intimate conversation about having a true self.
Annie Reiner’s visual art is as vivid and alive as her writing.

Shall I talk about the illustrations in her 2 new books for children? She could have an entire career as an illustrator.
No, I won’t spoil that for you, the introduction to the twinkle dance of Annie’s art.
But I will tell you about her stories.

I Am Lilly” is the story of a child’s seeking a beginning, primitive answer to the question, “Who Am I?” Lilly, our heroine, perfectly expresses a child’s longing to have adult abilities beyond the strict limitations of being a child.
This fundamental theme of every small child’s life, as we see in Lilly’s quest, is written with heart-melting patience and jolly humor.
One can imagine a mother or father reading these pages in seriousness to a giggling, delighted child.
“Of course, I’m not grandpa!”
“Or you, Dad!”
“Or Mom!”
“I’m me!”
If only Lilly’s quandary and resolution could be every child’s free, undisturbed central focus.

“Penelope’s Pearls” is a lyrical verse about feeling afraid and “cold”, which all children at times are likely to feel.
The book articulates a child’s pain and fear of being unloved, alone, forgotten, abandoned.
Penelope, our heroine, is the smallest penguin in the South Pole. Because Penelope is a penguin, she is supposed to be like all the other penguins who are used to the freezing cold.
Aren’t we all supposed to be copies of one another as children?
Don’t we all grow up wanting to belong?
Penelope is different from the others. She is constantly freezing, seeking warmth, and dreaming of being in Hawaii.
Reiner has created many a perfect metaphor in “Penelope’s Pearls“.
It is a classic.

These books are so charming that it is a safe bet that parents will find themselves inhaling Reiner’s message.

After all, there are patches of unfinished psychological business in all of us.
These are stories about not just finding and loving the self, but delighting in being alive.
Delight, in the adult experience, can be seen as a highly suspicious position, a lack of control.
Here are stories for the parent as well as the child.
The world is hungry for love.
Hurray for these books that provide children a road home.

Turning the Other Cheek is Bad for Your Other Cheek: President Obama’s Brilliant Moment

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

During his State of the Union speech last week, President Obama’s now-famous quip in response to Republican applause after he noted he has “no more campaigns to run”, literally woke me up.

Not missing a beat, he smiled wryly and with an amused, undaunted smirk, added, “I know because I won both of them”.

Here’s the thing: I have evolved on the matter of respecting President Obama. In fact, I loved the brilliance of his fluid, level retort.

It is not easy to face constant personal, let alone political, dislike and mockery, as this President does, inside this government.

I am not saying, “Awww. Poor baby”. Neither am I in love with everything the President is aligning with, proposing, or standing with dubious political allies to enforce.

Still, you have to admit the man is a human being, and a fine example, in my opinion, as evidenced by the wit and alacrity of his expert return of the ball across the political net, during his stirring, if not entirely transparent, State of the Union speech.

It would be remiss to not credit Obama, himself, for the infamous use of the word, “evolving”, which formerly was his word regarding his position on gay marriage.

This he said in press conferences in October and December, 2010. At the time, I felt that his need to “evolve” on the matter was absurd and synonymous with the right wing’s need to evolve on having the first black President of the United States.

In other words, I had the same smirk of a response, hearing Obama needing to evolve on gays, that Obama had last Tuesday night when the Republicans applauded his eventual disappearance.

Thankfully, the word “evolve” is gone from Obama’s position on gay marriage, and I can see that I was a tad strident about him to the point of turning not just one cheek, but my entire head and mind, away from the President.

This, on my part, is an example of a rigid emotional position, one that is rather common and leads to nothing more than fundamental ignorance and a lack of wisdom.

It is alarmingly easy to let emotions rule when responding to the President of the United States of America.
We all have agendas of the heart that we fervently want the President to champion.
Disappointment so easily leads to disfavor, if not enmity.
The challenge is to stay open to the whole picture, rather than rushing to Roman arena theatrics and conclusions.

It may even be wise to cultivate a more political mind about politics!

To my surprise, I snapped out of a petty, disfavoring haze toward President Obama last Tuesday night.

I cannot remember a time, since the wit and public eloquence of President John F. Kennedy, when I saw a President so unwittingly demonstrate an authentic, unscripted response that coincidentally serves to role model a higher level of being human.

Bravo, Mr. President.

Come Home for the Holidays

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

For those seeking a sex or holiday booze article, click onto something else immediately, like TMZ or the Today Show.
In the spirit of holiday cheer, I challenge everyone to follow Nancy Reagan’s sage words, “Just say no” to turning away from having your own mind.
Plug yourself back in right this minute and, as they say, “check this out”.

While the news we breathe has bottomed us out, in the sheer abundance and details of everyday violence and hatred, we humans have stopped thinking and feeling and responding to anything.
Gone are the days of outrage. There is no draught or pause in the horrors that collect and take up residence in our psyches today.
Personal responsibility is not just unpopular. The media force feeds victimization onto us all, to the tune of rage and no truths being told.
The question is, how to revive thinking in our people and how to stop collecting media-imposed trauma and emotional manipulation?

Manipulation is now such a problem that people have stopped feeling anything at all.
In fact, to hear it from corporate entertainment commercials, having real thoughts or feelings is a problem best solved by immediately calling your doctor for a prescription. Side effects, be damned. Better to face death than sadness.

In the spirit of holiday cheer, I challenge everyone to follow Nancy Reagan’s sage words, “Just say no” to turning away from your own mind, heart, and independent self.
I’m proposing a winter experiment.
Let’s see if we can come back to life by side-stepping the cheap distractions tempting us to leave our selves.
Come on. Just an experiment.

Distraction #1. Finding comfort.
It’s perfectly understandable to desire comfort in trying times, but right now comfort is in the way of finding our brains.
Comfort is a tricky seductress.
While smart people can all agree that comfort talk, i.e. “It’s all good“, is phony, who doesn’t want to wrap themselves all the way up in a warm mini-series, i.e. The Killing, and unplug from having a personal life?

Comforting words and passages and comforting books of spiritual wisdom are always beautiful, yet at the moment, not helpful either if we are to wake up.
Enough with the “16 Steps To Inner Harmony”.
Maybe you can’t smell the thick smog of thoughtlessness parading as harmony, but I can.
There is no harmony without clarity.
As Cher said in Moonstruck, “Snap out of it!”

Distraction #2. Acting out.
Sure, it feels good to follow celebrity twitter fights.
More taxing, obviously, would be to discover why we are obsessed with who is dissing Jennifer Aniston today.
Watching other people acting out pettiness and stupidity is the only feeling of human closeness some people have.
I understand.
Why is everyone so angry?
Why are you so angry?
We are sleepwalking with unspoken human responses.
We have become mute, yet we are still human.
So where are they, these bottom-line human responses of our very own?

In short, hell, yes, we feel something; everyone in this society is desperately covering up these blips of real feeling, via distractions and/or medication, but the feelings still exist.

Distraction Tool #1: Texting.
Texting is big because we can focus on typing, and so it is both physical and mental; two distractions in one!
Looking down at our hands used to be a sign of discomfort and obvious embarrassment.
Remember, boomers?

When you were having an in-person talk with a friend, way back in the ice age of childhood, and that friend suddenly looked at his hands, what would you have thunk?
Whatever it was, it had something to do with discomfort and sweaty palms.

Today, the techno toy we hold and look down at is a terrific distraction, not only when we are out to dinner with so-called friends, but also while walking and texting across streets like L.A.’s Wilshire Blvd. during heavy commuter traffic hours.
Streams of passive-aggressive sleepwalkers, typing furiously away, blanket the boulevards.

There they all are, heads down, metaphorically waving middle fingers into the road, daring those drivers in their Escalades racing home to the west side not to mow them down.
Perfect distraction, this typing, as in the junior high school typing class that bored me into lucid dreaming.
(Granted, had I stayed awake, I would now be able to hammer out these blogs at 1/1000th of the time it currently takes me with my 2 finger-punch approach).
The point is, anyone left with an ounce of heart and curiosity knows this era of distraction is nowhere. Nowhere near, that is, the heart and beautiful originality of the mind we could be expressing and creating from.

We are mute with each other and nowhere near having a proactive response to a world going cuckoo.

It’s as if a team of societal landlords are jacking up the extremes of traumatic news reporting to measure just how few human brains are still in personal use.

Ferguson, NYC, Florida, young girls missing and found dismembered, viruses from airplanes via somebody’s trip to Africa, corrupt housing markets and financial insanity, Bill Cosby, phony two-party politics, celebrity baby bumps and bitchiness, homegrown racial hatreds.
Enough, people!

When was the last time any of you used your perfectly good brain power to have a private discussion with yourself having nothing to do with someone else’s famous or infamous life or other people’s opinions of the day?
How about your own state of mind/feelings/being?
What do you care about?
Where do you personally stand on these hysterical headlines?
What do you think or feel or really have to say?
What is important to you?
What have you personally left behind in your life that you could pick up again in order to have a life?
How do you get your own mind back?

Now that the Christmas shopping season is on countdown, we have distractions in stereo.

Here’s the meat of my temporary challenge.

Whether you decide to listen to the Clearwater Channel loop of recycled Xmas muzak or the NPR daily roundup of moment by moment global atrocities with their team of British correspondent geopolitical analysts, keep track of the morbid residue collecting and gunking up on the bottom of you.

That’s right. There was wisdom in that overused therapy question, “What are you feeling?”

Let it all rise to be known by you and take a clear look at exactly what comes up in your heart and mind.

You are a person of heart and mind.

Pay attention.

Wake up.

No commitment. Just an experiment.

Come on back home.
At least for the holidays.

The Curmudgeon Listener Says: Enough With “Like”

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

The word “like” is a wicked weed that has killed the flowers of language in the speech and communication garden of life.

Like” is an infestation killing off meaning in every spoken human contact, and no spray or bomb of intelligence is strong enough to wipe it out.

Sure, the dated 1983 movie, “Valley Girl”, satire of the idiotic vocabulary and tone which introduced us to “like” and all that comes with “likeism”, might have been a lark at the time.

A stupid lark, but good for a mindless chucklet.

It may be that the Valley Girl popularity from the 1980’s introduced the ultimate speech tick for all those who get excited by living in distraction and not reality.

Using the word, “like“, every 3 or 4 seconds has become not “like” an epidemic in everyday speech; it is a 5-star epidemic distraction from making any point at all.

Note: I’m trying to use as many numbers as I can to effectively and authoritatively illustrate my #1 point.

Those of us cursed with having audio-enhanced ears and a love for real communication, can’t help but recognize the inescapable preponderance of chirping “like” droppings in conversations in a “duh” kind of way.

Like” is everywhere. And not as in, “I like you in an outside of Facebook way”.

Neither am I referring to the infamous Facebook “like”, although who cares about what comments, products, hashtags most people like?

Unless you are selling something, as in, yourself.

That’s another subject.

I’m talking here about using the word, “like“, every few seconds to water down anything real that might accidentally slip from the tongue and dare to reveal a true thought or feeling.

Like“, the perfect out of saying anything meaningful.

Think about it.

What does injecting “like” into a sentence consistently end up meaning?

The meaning is that there is nothing being said. The insertion of “like” is a reference to an invisible comparison, as in “like this or that“.

It eliminates anything that follows it.

As in, “It was, like, he was so clueless”.

Was he clueless or was he like clueless but not clueless at all?

What follows the use of “like” is nothingness.

As in, you are saying nothing!

And OMG, there is so much nothing being said.

No commitment is the key to sprinkling “like” on the salad of talk.

Is that the point, making no commitment in communication, or is it an unconscious by-product?

I wonder if commitment is being wiped out because it is preferable to not commit out loud to a thought!

If so, whoops. There goes truth and human connection.

To put it simply, phrases like “sort of” or “kind of” , which seem to precede as a softener to any conclusive point in conversation, as well as the above-mentioned “like“, illustrate just how far away we have come from human connection, replaced with a robotic language that disappears the telling of truth.

Got it“?

I get it“, “let’s grab lunch“, and “there you go” I’ll save for next time.

In robot talk, “Wait for it“.



    
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