Thursday, April 19, 2007

Atlas Winks: I would turn on the TV but it's so heartbreaking ....

I would turn on the TV but it's so embarrassing ....

I made the linked post above on April 2nd without any comment so the lyrics could speak for themselves. The words are even more relevant today after the horrible violence at Virginia Tech. In an I-Tunes interview, Jack Johnson talks about his song Cookie Jar and about how he wrote it after Columbine and how everyone was pointing fingers and blaming all these different factors, when in fact, we are all guilty to some degree. It is a powerful song and I can't say it often enough that I think Jack Johnson is a Genius.

He takes such a soft and calming sound, adds suprisingly simple lyrics and somehow he says the things I have been thinking, but haven't found the words to really talk about. The incongruity of how he says what he says and its ultimate message make his music even more powerful and profound. A lot of his songs - like Traffic in the Sky, Fall Line, Cookie Jar, Times Like These and Gone - share similar ideas about how the materialistic underbelly of our society causes a spiritual disconnect, especially with our most vulnerable of citizens. Such a lovely melody and such simple words to indict us all - that we are all to blame, sneaking a cookie from the cookie jar and then insisting that "It wasn't me." We all share in the blame when we watch the sensational journalism instead of finding intelligent news media. We are all guilty when we let the not yet 17 year old see the R rated violent movie. We all are culpable when we buy the tabloid. We enable pandering to the lowest common denominator by not insisting on better or nothing at all. Yes they are small sins, like driving a gas guzzler or not turning off the lights, but when massive amounts of people let their apathy cause them to do small acts of evil, the ultimate consequences can be devastating.

"It was you it was me it was every man
We've all got the blood on our hands
We only receive what we demand
And if we want hell then hells what we'll have

God Bless all the people that are grieving the losses from the Virginia Tech Massacre. And God Bless Jack Johnson.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Kurt is up in heaven now.

I was sad to hear that Kurt Vonnegut passed away last week. He was 84 and led a long and full life. Here is a link to a good article. I still remember the first time I read Cat's Cradle and Slaughter House Five and Breakfast of Champions. I very much enjoyed his works that I read, even if he did love the "anti-hero" a bit too much.

In his honor, here are some of my favorite quotes of Kurt Vonnegut's that I have saved. Starting with the most appropriate one from his work A Man Without a Country: " I am, incidentally, Honorary President of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in that totally functionless capacity. We had a memorial service for Isaac a few years back, and I spoke and said at one point, "Isaac is up in heaven now." It was the funniest thing I could have said to an audience of humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, "Kurt is up in heaven now." That's my favorite joke." -- Kirt Vonnegut

Other personal favorite Kurt Vonnegut quotes:

Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be. (or a different version) We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.

Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.

I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.

We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.

Beer, of course, is actually a depressant. But poor people will never stop hoping otherwise.

I have this disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone.

History is merely a list of surprises. It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again.

The two real political parties in America are the Winners and the Losers. The people don't acknowledge this. They claim membership in two imaginary parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, instead.

The public health authorities never mention the main reason many Americans have for smoking heavily, which is that smoking is a fairly sure, fairly honorable form of suicide.

One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us.

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.

If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you're a one-eyed man in a kingdom of the blind.

Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?

Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.

Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before.

We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap.

I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different.

If people think nature is their friend, then they sure don't need an enemy.

Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter could be said to remedy anything.

Still and all, why bother? Here's my answer. Many people need desperately to receive this message: I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.

What are your five most favorite books?

I was talking to an online friend about favorite books and she can't decide on a list, it is just too hard to limit them for her. But I am still curious what folks would say, sort of like a Rorschach test. IF you are too shy to actually post your list, want to e-mail it to me?

I so understand the hesitation to try and rate your favorite books, so just jump in like I did. (Especially as I would be very interested to see what ones you mention off the top of your head.) I was actually thinking about this kind of list the other day and I thought that it should be a multiple option question. That folks should have the option to answer the question from a few different angles.

Feel free to answer it from any angle you want.

Some possible options:

a. What five would you take if you were going to be stranded somewhere (and they were all you could read for a very long time)?
b. What five were the most transformational in your life?
c. Which five do you think were the best writing?
c. Which five had the best characters?
d. Which five kept you on the edge of your seat?
e. Which ones did you feel almost homesick when you finished the last page?
f. Which ones made you feel the most as if you were in another world?
g. Which ones caused the strongest emotional reaction in you?
h. Which ones caused you to laugh out loud and tickled your funny bone the most?
i. Which ones made you hope it was the beginning of a series because you wanted to read more about its characters?

and for those still having problems ...
j. Who are your favorite five authors?

You now only have three minutes to decide.....


Monday, April 02, 2007

I would turn on the TV but it's so embarrassing ....

"Cookie Jar"
by Jack Johnson

I would turn on the TV but it's so embarrassing
To see all the other people I don't know what they mean
And it was magic at first when they spoke without sound
But now this world is gonna hurt you better turn that thing down
Turn it around

"It wasn't me", says the boy with the gun
"Sure I pulled the trigger but it needed to be done
Cause life's been killing me ever since it begun
You cant blame me cause I'm too young"

"You can't blame me sure the killer was my son
But I didn't teach him to pull the trigger of the gun
It's the killing on this TV screen
You cant blame me its those images he seen"

Well "You can't blame me", says the media man
Well "I wasn't the one who came up with the plan
I just point my camera at what the people want to see
Man it's a two way mirror and you cant blame me"

"You can't blame me", says the singer of the song
Or the maker of the movie which he based his life on
"It's only entertainment and as anyone can see
The smoke machines and makeup and you cant fool me"

It was you it was me it was every man
We've all got the blood on our hands
We only receive what we demand
And if we want hell then hells what well have

And I would turn on the TV
But it's so embarrassing
To see all the other people
I don't even know what they mean
And it was magic at first
But let everyone down
And now this world is gonna hurt
You better turn it around
Turn it around