Category Archives: Culture

75 times 365 gets closer to 24/7

I read a blog today that touched on the issue of security cameras, and in this case in the workplace. It reminded of a bit of information a year or so ago. Do you know that In major metro areas a person is on camera an average of 75 times a day – this was back in 2007!

There are also many studies all over the world talking about the current and future crisis of youth unemployment. A university education is certainly not a solution to this problem, nor is getting a trade. As I see it, the crisis is due largely to a lack of new industries, such as automotive, the telephone, and so many more that were launched in the last century. That kind of explosion can’t be sustained today, not by people nor by the planet.

The other issue is increased automation. Machines can lower production costs, increase efficiency, and create some jobs. However, the net effect may be less jobs overall.

I’ve had these discussions in the slow periods with a few of the workers at my 7-eleven down the street, especially with the young guy who’s been working there a few years now . . . the one with the honor’s degree in chemistry. We talk late at night while he’s whipping up tomorrow’s hoagies.

If you don’t believe me, it’s all on tape. We can actually watch each other live on the overhead monitor. One of these days I’ve got to remember to shine up the back of my head, maybe even use some of that glow-in-the-dark glitter glue?

Some guys will do anything for a halo effect!

On the serious side, it seems there are some simple solutions to all this mayhem. First, if I (we) no longer have any legal right to privacy, then dammit I (we) should have the right to at least look good on camera. After all, the president and so many others have their make-up crew nearby all the time, so wherever there is a camera there should be someone available to powder my nose, trim those nostrils, shine my head and so on. Voila, unemployment no longer exists.

I’ll leave it for you to add your own touch to these opportunities – feel free to add your own!

It seems appropriate to once again include that beautiful video, Diana Ross singing “Do You Know?” Aside from being gorgeous in both audio and video, it has this haunting cultural message to it. By the way, her image appears less than 75 times.

Finally, when you think about, almost everything in this Diana Ross video touches on the messages that are in Dawn at Last, right down to a little mahogany and especially the butterfly. You have to think about it though, and please do.

I Kid You Naughty!

Okay, it’s ten after 12, how can that be? Ever wonder why clocks and math don’t get along? They seem to be out of sync, at least once in awhile. And if every moment is unique isn’t it always once in awhile? Oye, sometimes I think George Carlin has butted in as my muse!

In case you have haven’t noticed, this is my V-Day post.

Sure, it’s all about love and stuff – the stuff being chocolate – the stuff none of you have sent me, even though my home address is on my website. You haven’t even visited it, have you? Where’s the love ya’all? Internet followers, you’ve failed me. Sure, it’s nice to fantasize about naked foreigners stretched on a slab of chocolate, praying for a dousing of champagne. Still, my mailbox is empty – no chocolate surprises – this day sucks!

Even a bag of those marshmallows, the ones sprinkled with coconut, is that too much to ask?

It doesn’t matter that I never sent any of you anything. I’ve liked and shared all those blog posts, tweets and Face Book posts. But I write about love, so you see today is all about me. That’s not quite true . . . it’s also about my mailbox, the one that’s screaming, “Where’s my chocolate surprises?”

Like most people these days, I believe that every day should at least have a little love in it, so Valentine’s is kind of weird in a way? Still, just as George Harrison sings, “While my guitar gently weeps,” my mailbox wails, “Poor Lawrence, so gently drooling.” Given that my mail is only delivered from Monday through Friday, I guess we can discount the weekends . . . still, I’ll be drooling.

Somewhere between Tuesday and Saturday is WTF, and in that spirit, I’ll watch for the late deliveries next week . . . after all, when it comes to chocolate it’s the thought that counts. Eline from Belgium, if you are reading this, know that your thoughts count more!

Finally, once more I’m inspired by a love of truth, so after watching this adorable young lady I’ve decided to let you all off the hook . . . secretly though, the Truth Fairy made me say that . . . guess I’ll have to settle for gumballs?

Stand Pat and go ask Alice

This post is going to be sweet and simple, hopefully in the style of this classy video interview with Alice Munro. I’m not sure if she speaks for every writer. She certainly speaks for me, especially when she talks about the joy of writing, the search for at least a glimpse of something universal, and of the importance of the reader’s experience.

Having said that, I’d just like to thank one reader in particular – Patricia Williams-Forgenie – for a kind book review. She’s such an optimistic person, she’s been through so much, and I admire her almost to the point of envy. She seems to be acutely aware of what a poison cynicism can be, something I battle constantly . . . it’s the opposite of inspiration. She’s all about inspiration.

Now it’s back to daydreams . . . in this one I’m wondering how an interview/ discussion would go between Patricia and Alice . . . why is it that this image of two little girls is the first thing to come to mind?

Leaves that look like rocks

The Good Men Project . . . and all that Jazz

Since my last post I’ve submitted my first article to The Good Men Project. I stuck to my guns and stayed on this topic of musing. That’s not so easy, given that the only gun I own is the one under my cap!

The Unexpected . . . 

It was a hard article to write, but with some fine editorial advice I think it came out pretty good. How do I know it’s good? Some might call it by “gut check” or intuition, but for me it has become more than that . . . it’s what I sometimes refer to as, “unexpected pleasant surprises”. They happen often enough in normal life, but when they show up in the creative process, it’s different.

Each surprise is a unique, though what’s common is this “just knowing” feeling . . . it’s a selfless kind of self-confidence. There is a personal trust in the musing that happens . . . like a little jazz? Sometimes there is this kind of a “wow” reaction, sometimes it’s more of, “Geez, that’s really nice!”

I’ve come to the point where I’ll seldom publish anything without doing that kind of check. Sometimes though, with complex or abstract issues, I’m guilty of being less focused than I need to be, for the benefit of others. One issue ties into many others, becoming complex, hence the need for more focus.

The Excruciating . . .

Strangely, the most difficult kind of writing for me is what I’ll call the promotional kind, and yet I spent the majority of my corporate life in that very activity.

There really are no “ah ha” moments in that kind of writing, except maybe with one recent exception. Like most writers, describing one’s work in a book description – the blurb – can be excruciating. It never seems to come out right. However, about a week ago a book reviewer offered to take a look at Dawn at Last. First she wanted me to answer one simple question, “What makes your book different than the rest?”

The answer flowed out with almost no effort. It took me longer to type it than to think it, which is always a good sign. Here’s how I answered her:

  1. It’s the way the lives (and stories) of six quirky characters interweave.
  2. It’s about love more than a love story – by the end you may wonder whether Love herself is the unsung hero.
  3. It’s excruciatingly difficult to peg the book into one or even two genres – it’s erotic but not erotica; it’s a mystery, though the crime is perhaps debatable; the underlying issues are really quite serious, yet dealt with in a playful & humorous way.
  4. When you read it for the second or third time, after waiting awhile, most likely you will read it slightly differently, and discover something new.
  5. Other than that, to finish the question, it has a great cover!
This is really what I’d like those curious about the book to know. I’m seriously thinking of changing my book description on Amazon and elsewhere to include these five points. You many not realize it, but my answer above says a great deal about the muses, about musing.
 
 
Now I’d like to just sit back and listen. In this context “listening” means reading, as in your comments. Since most of my readers are Americans, and given that’s basically thanksgiving now, I’d love to hear what you have to say . . . an anecdote here or there . . . one of your own little unexpected surprises . . . the ones that make for great big memories!
 
Happy Thanksgiving . . . and all that jazz!
 

Who’s Musing Who?

Art, writing, and other musings . . . that’s my bi-line.

When this blog began there was the art, though the writing was always there, hidden from public view. Then came the novel, my biggest and most cherished writing project so far . . . in many ways as satisfying as the art, a pleasure that at one time thought not possible.

For months now, this blog has been skewed towards the promotion on the novel, interspersed with a little about art, and woefully lacking in the musing.

Fascinating and Elusive . . .

What is musing? What is a muse, and is what the right term, given that the muse may be something completely non-physical? It’s a fascinating subject, though it’s one that I’m only now more formally investigating, but not in the sense of a yearning for new knowledge. You see I’ve been close to my muse for a long time, so my knowing is already there, in very personal way. It’s such an intimate experience – a presence at times – and one that is cherished beyond words, but still one tries.

Beyond words . . . perhaps this is why for so long it seemed impossible to use words to find that same satisfaction as in creating art. This I now understand. Someone wrote a really nice blog today about the writer finding that inner voice, and what happens when one writes without it . . . when it becomes superficial. Quite simply, without that muse my inner voice seems weaker, with a sense of loss, and to the point where creating not from the heart becomes a risk.

Searching The Invisible For Common Grounds

It didn’t take long at all – only a few days of research on how history views the muse – to discover how so many others have had similar musing experiences in their creativity. That’s somehow reassuring . . . so many legendary artists and writers, their influences, their loves and relationships, their passions, eccentricities, lusts, questions, controversies, triumphs and heart breaks, and through it all, this mystery of the musing.

Much of the material is about one individual impacting the other – the inspiring returned by the affection – the dynamics between the two. Sometimes the issue goes well beyond the individual, into the realm of the spiritual, perhaps the divine? Questions arise as to where do original ideas come from? Are they really from the muse, or the writer or the artist, or from somewhere unknown? Perhaps unknown, yet truly felt . . . the fuel of genius . . . the gift received, and then the gift created, followed by the need for more. It seems this is the way of musing, always mysterious.

Same Journey, New Curves Along the Path

In the next part of my journey I’m about to write in a different way. I have begun a relationship with a large web site devoted to the issue of what it means to be a good man in today’s world. It features an incredible amount of amazing contributors, and so I am honored, humbled and excited. This kind of writing presents an entirely different challenge than writing a novel or writing here on my blog. Both of those are more personal, kind of like writing for an audience of one, which helps immensely in trying to write from the heart.

In this next project that kind of writing must continue, but differently. If you haven’t noticed, my blog is often kind of like thinking out loud, which helps me to focus on one thing or another. Every now and then it seems to resonate with others, which is really nice. Lately I haven’t done enough of that, not enough writing that will somehow help others . . . you.

That kind of helping seems imperative in writing for this men’s project, and I’ll start by gleaming through this musing material. I’m sure this can help cut through some of the confusion and anguish that seems to be there for so many men. Of course, it’s not just there for the men, but for everyone . . . the same but different. Contributors are encouraged to write in the first person, to tell personal accounts of this and that. I will do so, gently though, and as much as possible with a touch of humour, the non-offensive kind. I don’t always succeed at the ‘non’ part,  so I’m asking this of you, “Wish me luck – the good kind!”

I’ve actually written a first draft of an article. I wrote it awhile ago, but have decided to sit on it. It’s actually pretty funny – yes and no – it has to do with the use of certain toys in long distance relationships. It’s a good article, but not the one I want to lead in with, so perhaps closer to Valentine’s? It certainly doesn’t fit in well with the subject of muses . . . no pun intended. Also, I’d like to write articles that are in a way congruent with Dawn at Last, which is oozing with secrets and mystery and well, you know . . . muses!

The Challenge

So much that is written on this topic is related to gifted artists and creative people. I believe that is unfairly so, that anyone can have a kind of muse-gift in any close relationship. I need to believe this as much as I need to believe that love is the most important aspect of the universe. Illustrating this through my new writing project will be a challenge, which is perhaps just the motivation I need. You will see what I mean when these articles are published, and I’ll be sure to mention them here, on my blog, as soon as that happens.

To give you a feel for what I mean – the gift of the muse in everyday life – here is an excerpt from Dawn at Last. Based on comments from the book’s fans, it is certainly one of the favorite segments of the novel. This is about Pierre, the owner of a French restaurant called Papillons, telling Sunni (a waitress) about the inspiration and origin of the name:

“Okay Sunni . . . the house of butterflies. It’s my home, you see. How can I tell you this? When I was a youngster I had my chores to do, and they varied depending on the time of year. This one summer day it was getting close to supper time and I had to prepare a bunch of vegetables for stew. I had to go to the kitchen sink to get some water and our kitchen window overlooked the yard between the house and the crops. There were little flower beds around the yard. While I was running the water I looked outside and there they were.”

He pauses, and looks as if he’s lost in a dream, though she’s sure it’s a memory, and once again in her impatience she asks, “What did you see, papillons?”

Her words breaks his trance, and he smiles as he looks at her and says, “Yes, that and more. My mother was out there on the right side of yard, tending to some flowers. She was bent over. She was wearing those favourite blue jean shorts of hers and a colourful blouse, an old one she wore mostly for chores. Then I saw my father on the left side, about fifty meters away. He was repairing some kind of tool or something. It was a hot day, so he paused to wipe off his sweat. As he stood up he looked at my mother. At that point she hadn’t noticed him looking. He started to walk quietly toward her, as if to sneak up on her. About half way there she must have heard him, or perhaps it was les papillons floating around her, five of them. I think it was five − they were hard to count.

When my father noticed that my mother had spotted him sneaking up, he started walking a little faster. Then she stood right up and turned to face him, at the same time looking around the yard. She started walking away, slowly at first, not toward him, but toward the house, and smiling. He began to run a little and so did she, giggling now, and it was bit like a touch football game as she zigged and zagged a bit, and then my father slipped on the grass and fell down to the ground. I was startled. It really looked like he was hurt, but he it turned out he was faking an injury to get her to come and help him, and when she did, he pulled her down and they kissed, and for a long time. Then they got up and walked away, hand in hand, somewhere towards the side of the house, where there are lots of trees.”

Then he pauses, and looks closer at Sunni. “And then then these butterflies – when my mother was running they seemed to follow her – like they were playing their own game. They even seemed to follow them to the trees, until I lost sight of them as well. It was really something. In those moments it was all about love, don’t you think? Only playful love and affection. And it seems that’s all the butterflies know − and that’s what I try to do with my restaurant. It’s a safe place for people like you and Andrea and the other young ladies, at least I want it to be, and maybe sometimes love comes out of it, somehow. Is that so wrong?”

The Perfect Gift, If Only For Awhile

One of my favourite aspects about this excerpt is how the couple interact so playfully and with no need for words – in a way they inspire each other – and so this is too is the play of the muse? I hope this gives you a bit of a flavour for the direction I’ll be taking in the project. If I succeed then I will make some people happier, if only for awhile, and hopefully a long while. Maybe some in their busy lives need a reminder, need to stop and look at the love that is still there, but possibly dormant in all the stress and confusion? I plan to provide many reminders – a series on this issue of the muse and musing – of awareness, the selfless kind.

It would be nice to help like that, in some small way . . . it does feel good when it happens, and shouldn’t it? There are those who says that such kindness is somehow self-indulgent and that giving gifts like this is really a selfish act because one gets pleasure in the process. I disagree. If you want to see it as being selfish, go ahead. All I know is that it is perfectly acceptable . . . perhaps the only true definition of perfection. How do I know? Why do I believe this so strongly? The simple is answer – I can sense that the muse approves and I need no more than that.

Thank you for getting to the bottom of such a long post . . . you must be well-grounded by now! As such you deserve a treat, so what could be more fitting than a little music? Enjoy . . .

Who’s Musing Who?

Seeing more than one’s self by dropping the “i”

Love, that eternal mystery, and shouldn’t it always be that way?

For me that is a rhetorical question, because I know the answer, and in many ways. Does that make me an expert in love? Of course not, what a horrible claim that would be . . . in a way dishonorable to the divine and the sublime.

Perhaps it is what some may call a hobby, but for me it is more like a way of life . . . the search for it (love) in most of what I see . . . and I’ve seen so much of it in so many ways. Some that know me (or think they do) would scoff at every word I’m writing here, but I can’t control that, have no need to, and simply dismiss the scoffing as irrelevant. That doesn’t make me arrogant, but more like frustrated. There’s so much I’ve come to know, but it seems the price of this knowledge is an almost solitary confinement in the knowing.

Perhaps the painting and the writing are an escape from this solitude? It sometimes feels that way. More than that though, there is this smoldering desire, “true art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist,” as Einstein put it.

Many readers may find these words vaguely written, and that’s understandable. What I’m reblogging here might also be construed as vague, and yet there is so much beauty in the mystery of it all. I neither condone nor dismiss any of its content, but somehow I do find it easy to understand, as it is ultimately one more way to search and find love, and oddly enough, it seems to describe a creative process.

Here it is, a most intriguing post: The nature of domination.

Life Without Fear

I wonder how many people in our culture, or any culture for that matter, really understand this teaching:

Girl in Yoga Position

Found on Pinterest, originally from Amy Jirsa – Quiet Earth Yoga

I know it may be very hard to comprehend the truth of this, especially in the part of the world I live in . . . this way of thinking is not widely taught. Certainly the main stream media, and many other institutions, do not want you or I to think this way – it flies in the face of greed when you think about. It’s also bad for a lot of business.

Put as simply as I can, this is why I like watching butterflies and trees and the wind and the clouds. There is this truth there, life without fear. That is part of what inspires me. Enjoy your Monday.