Saturday, October 26, 2013

Les Miserables

The purpose of art is to raise your senses to another, higher level, to get the brain peculating and become more aware of the higher values that this existence has to offer. Art can be visual, oral even employing all the senses. In the end the purpose of art is pleasurable although sometimes that pleasure is painful to come by.

He was sitting alone on this bright day that had a pleasant Autumn feel to it. He usually didn't mind solitude in fact one could say he enjoyed it. Yet, this day he was restless. He tried to read but couldn't keep his concentration on the written page. Television or radio offered nothing that interested him. He had a DVD of Les Miserables and thought of putting it on but he rejected the idea at first. He had seen the play, he considered it an Opera, many decades ago, and the movie just last year. He remembered liking it but considered it too heavy for his present state of mind. However, since nothing else could satisfy his restfulness he decided to play it. From the very start he was mesmerized by the visual beauty even as it displayed degradation of the human body, mind and spirit. As the story unfolded it was as if he was meeting old friends once more. He watched in horror as Fantine was changed from a proud beautiful young lady struggling to support her miserable life into a dirty, mutilated prostitute who knew no happiness only sorrow. He watched as Valjean was pursued relentlessly by Javert an officer of the law who was perverted in his understanding of justice without any mercy. He was completely in awe of the Bishop who turned Valjean into a loving caring person by his generosity and love.

It was not only the characters that enveloped him but the physical surroundings. The stark differences, benefits those of wealth enjoyed over those who only by the accident of birth were born into poverty which led to despair eventually robbing their spirits of the desire for the ultimate good. They had to survive and it wasn't easy in these surroundings. While the story was about ideals it mainly was about love and hate. Love takes many forms. Love between parents and children. Love of country. Love of the life one is living. Love of doing good. Love of ideals like freedom and liberty. The hate is evident as displayed by Javert for any one who might break the law he loved so much even if it was unfair which was not his fault. This is the way he was taught and believed to be true. No mercy! They, the lawbreakers were all no good and were to be hated. Hate of the poor for the rich and of course the rich's hatred for the poor. Instead of sharing which is the higher ideal the poor wanted what the rich had and the rich had no intention of giving any of their surplus to anyone, keeping all for one's self and estate.

By the time the movie had come to the end he was sobbing as death was the final release and all were really together even though they seemingly were being separated. Finally the collective community, all those who were lost in the battle for freedom were united in a glorious finale with voices raised on high, voices and instruments blending together in a great crescendo of victory of the human spirit over injustices of every kin because of the freedom that love gives all who chose to love. The one line that stuck in his mind as the final credits rolled on the screen was Victor Hugo's line, "To love another person is to see the face of god.".
He noticed that the line didn't say to be loved rather "To Love..." which got him thinking. He wasn't sure of the meaning although he had an idea. He did some research and found the explanation from Loren Paulsson's bog that touched him:

There’s something about the world the characters inhabit and the way they relate to one another.Because “love is everlasting,” those who love do so in the context of something greater than themselves. Something that has meaning beyond their lifetimes. And it inspires hope that real redemption is possible, not based on accumulated merit or happy endings but in relation to something more, so that—in Valjean's case—there's more to being human than survival—for Marius and Cosette—love is possible despite the loss that happens along the way and—in Eponine’s case—even unrequited love has meaning and dignity.

To make it clear Cosette is Fantine's child who Valjean took under his care. Valjean saved Marius who married Cosette and Eponine is a beautiful character who loved Marius.

The two hours and thirty-eight minutes of this story was well spent. Not only was his senses of sound and sight flooded with good things but his mind had great  ideas and his spirit was filled with hope. Art fulfilled it's purpose. As he looked out his window the greens were greener, reds redder and the sky bluer.



Monday, October 21, 2013


Life is full of blows and hurts which nobody escapes be it sickness, the accident of birth, unexpected losses be it financial, other people or loves. For some these incidents occur early, some late and others at various times. To live full is to survive all the misfortunes and do so while keeping one's sanity and powerful urge to live life to the fullest. Yet we have just to look around us and we can see some who fall into deep depression and barely survive while others climb over the misfortunes and rise to the top better for all that has happened to them. Makes one wonder what separates those who barely survive to those who rise to great heights because of the ills manifested upon them.

CBS Sunday Morning program of October 20, 2013 had a segment titled "The Science of Survival" which probed this matter by observing two survivors of personal tragedy and a study of war prisoners who spent many years, some decades in abject misery in solitude. Psychiatrist Dennis Charney said that two factors were always present that enabled the people to overcome unbearable circumstances; "Strong Social Support" and "Unshakable Optimism". One of the persons interviewed added that she started to recover from an unbearable childhood situation when she realized it was "Not her own fault or hopeless".  The other person when asked if she could do it over would she do it differently to which she responded "No", being positive is powerful and the whole experience has taught her to live her life being resilient which helps her to overcome the bad things that happen and live life to the fullest.

Doctor Charney said it was possible to train one's self to become strong survivors if we remember that we can't do it all by ourselves and nothing is hopeless. There maybe naysayers referring to progressive diseases like Alzheimer's that destroy the brain or even accidents that snap the spine. The good Doctor's study referred to such cases as snapped spines where with strong social support and unshakable optimism the patients and thier care givers actually had a better life filled with good cheer than those who didn't have these very important elements.

Unshakable optimism is what St. Paul referred to in his letter to the Romans when he refers to the hope that we have of being united with Christ when we pass from this life to the next, "......But hope that is seen is no hope at all.Who hopes for what they already have?".

Survival is not wishful thinking but dealing with a circumstance which needs dealing with at the precise moment. Of course we will die so a progressive disease may not be cured but it can be tolerated and incorporated into the lives of those who are experiencing it so that those who remain are stronger for the experience and the ones afflicted have easier lives while they endure the inevitable.

There was a couple while still relatively young were afflicted by Alzheimer's. One spouse had the disease the other was the caretaker. The ordeal lasted some 15 years at the least, with one spouse succumbing fully to the disease. The spouse remaining will tell anyone who wants to listen that through this they loved each other more, deeper and broader than if it never happened. That their lives were actually more meaningful because of this. They had support from various sources but most important was the support received from their family. They always felt while one was losing touch with reality their love was growing stronger. Amidst all the sorrows that could be lamented they laughed instead, kissed instead and they survived even as one succumbed to this terrible disease.

The one element that the CBS program seemed to leave out of their discussion was love. Strong social support and unshakable optimism could never exist in a vacuum. The element of love is needed. Love of one for the other. Love of one's self. Love of life. To survive one has to love this life, full of colors, seasons, good foods, things to work on and people to love. It seems that love of self is elemental if you hate yourself, or even just dislike yourself, how can you love another. Loving yourself and the life this world offers leads to wanting to share all this good with others. This sharing is of course with your mate, loved one, your children, your parents and everyone you come in contact with. We are not hermits. We need each other, "No Man Is An Island", John Donne, strong social support. And even if we seem to be in a hopeless position we know through this love sharing, that nothing is hopeless, for we hope for the good things that lay out there for us in all situations, in this life hopefully, but we hope for what lays before us in the life to come. We may not visualize it but who hopes for what is seen?

Survival then means the want, desire to live life fully and enjoy all that is and is to come always in union with our surroundings fully expecting only the best!


Thursday, October 17, 2013

TV Shows etc.

The Cialis advertisement which is all over the TV these days always seems to end with a naked guy and girl in two separate bathtubs reaching over the sides holding hands. Can you tell me what the hell the message is in all of that? I understand the whole idea of Cialis but who the hell owns separate bathtubs in the first place and even if one does own one shouldn't they both be in the same one? Two separate bathtubs? I just don't get it!!

So far this season's episodes of "Homeland" has been disappointing, especially episode 3.  OK Carrie makes all the ugly faces she can make but that whole thing with Brody is so unreal it is hard to swallow AND it is very gory. It is hoped the next few episodes get it back on track.

In contrast to "Homeland" this season's "The Good Wife" is really, really good. The scripting suburb, the acting excellent, and it is developing the story line in such a fashion that it is gripping. Juliana Margulies is very sexy and a good actress to boot. The rest of the cast is suburb also.

"Masters of Sex" on Showtime is more than just a romp in the hay. Each episode is better than the last and is giving some real insight to the "Masters and Johnson" revelations in two published studies in 1966 and 1970. I don't know how much is fact or fiction but whatever is fiction is based in fact I surmise. It is not lascivious in it's presentation and it is well acted. I think civilization owes Masters and Johnson something because they cleared up a lot of misconceptions about sex. Most important is the fact that sex is not a dirty word.

Another soap opera we in the United States have been subjected to over the last few weeks was the government shutdown over the continuing resolution (budget) and the rising of the debt limit. There was much posturing. We had stars like Senator Cruz (Villain), President Obama (hero), the people who got hurt by the show, like workers going without pay, the vendors and shops that lost customers, the poor that lost food stamps and meals on wheel (collateral damage). Our heroes came at the last minute, to rescue all of us with a bill that kicks the can down the road sort of like TV series for another show around Jan. & Feb. 2014. The main players were really put out because they had to work and stay up late for a night or two but don't worry the are going on a weeks vacation to recoup. We are so lucky to have these statesmen!!!

Maria Schulz Blogged about scary movies in her "Tales From A Hungry Life" sited on Word Press. She talked about Dracula, Freddy and "Elm Street" and all those scary movies. To me one of the scariest movies was "Yours, Mine and Ours" a family of twelve and not all yours. What could be more scary than that? I know a guy and gal who raised seven kids only and that was scary enough never to want to go through that again. A rock band in the basement playing from 7 to 10 every weekday night. People walking in and out of the house at all hours. And the oldest plotting a coup so he would be in charge forever. The best part to anything as scary as this is they all grew up, left the coop and had children of their own but not as much as seven or twelve.

Why is it those who drive slower than me are idiots and those who drive faster are maniacs?  I always let those merge when I am in the right lane and they want to enter the parkway or almost always. Do you step on the imaginary brake when you are in the front passenger seat and someone else is driving? I find it an uncontrollable reflex. I can't understand why this infuriates the driver. When I drive I pay no attention to those type of moves and do my best to drive within the range of acceptability of all my passengers. Although I have noticed that many prefer to drive rather than let me drive. Why do you think that's so?

I really enjoy "The Voice". The Judges are good but Blake and Adam don't do as much for me as Shakira. from the 2012 season and Christina Aquilera really dress up the night. They are sexy, cute and seem to be real. Oh yeah, the talent is good also.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Age Is Attitude

Carl Reiner, the great comedian who was on "The Show of Shows", wrote "Enter Laughing" and originated "The Dick Vandyke Show" among other things like "The 2000 Year Old Man" with Mel Brooks has turned 88 and just wrote a book "I Remember Me", a memoirs. On top of all that he is known as the father of Rob Reiner, "Meathead" in the iconic "All In The Family" as well as a renowned Director in his own right.

Carl Reiner is truly a comedic genius who no longer is in demand I guess because he had the temerity to become "old". So he turned to writing a book about his life which in my estimation is very good. By the way he wrote the book not some ghostwriter turning his musings into a readable form. He recently appeared on "The Bill Maher" HBO show. He appeared very sharp although a bit unsteady as he came onto the stage and had a step to climb onto as he took his seat next to Maher. He was enthusiastic, energetic and quite sharp mentally which I am sure surprised the younger people in the audience since being 88 years old they surmised he certainly must of slowed up mentally if not having the beginning of dementia of some kind.

He was great with the one on one interview but when the discussion returned to the panel it became clear that the panelists, and perhaps Maher himself, wanted to get on with their intelligent dissection of the political climate. Carl Reiner however wasn't going to be kept out of a discussion with which he had intimate knowledge of so he forced himself back into that discussion with some very salient comments and anecdotal stories. All this for the most part was very interesting not only because the discussion was bright and on the mark but from what I was picking up from the attitude of of all on the show.

The panelists consisted of a youngish cute female reporter, a politician from Florida who was perhaps middle 50's as I believe Bill Maher is also and a Tea Party leader and economist who seemed to be a smart ass in his 40's. I mention the ages because it was quite apparent to me at least they had a deference to Carl Reiner because of his accomplishments and even more so because of his age. Bill Maher gushed all over  him while introducing him and interviewing him but clearly wanted to leave him when the discussion included the panel. The panelist were interested in what he said as long as it was about the past but seemed to disregard his opinions about the current political life. This is observed by body language and maybe some facial expressions. At one point Carl Reiner insisted on being heard and interjected with a story that in his own life big government gave him the opportunity to become an actor through the WPA paying for his schooling during the depression. Without big government's assistance Mr. Reiner was saying, he never would have had the chance of becoming the success he is. The look on Mr. Tea Party's face said Mr. Reiner you just don't grasp today's situation, you are old and therefore irrelevant. Carl Reiner did talk a bit too much which is the problem a lot of the old folks have and they should be aware it comes a time in every discussion when it is better to keep quiet and let the others hold the floor.

The interaction of the younger panel and the very old yet sharp Mr. Reiner was interesting. The show got me thinking. Yes it is true the older folk talk a lot but maybe it is because they have a lot to say that makes a lot of sense because they lived it and have the experience which always seems irrelevant to the young people but really isn't. The younger generation seem happy to slot older people with people of their own generation but would like to exclude them from the younger generation. Sort of like what almost happened on the Bill Maher show. After all how would anyone so "old" have any sense of what "we" are going through?

The show got me thinking that maybe there was a prejudice against the old generation. Only the ones who had some celebrity like Di Nero, and his group that can still generate some shekels at the box office can get away with still living fully in the society. But for those who are just "ordinary" people who have gotten older for the most part they are segregated, senior clubs, senior assisted living  eventually nursing homes sort of warehoused, but comfortable. Probably, for the most part this is the way the older generation wants it but for some who like to live until they die the choice is to remain aware, to remain sharp, like to be with all peoples of all races and ages. These stand back and observe and really don't care what anyone else thinks as long as they are enjoying life to the fullest.