Monday, April 30, 2012

The Path Of Awakening

A friend of mine is leaving Chicago to live and work at the Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia for two years.

I am very excited for her. The above video has some descriptions of life in the monastery. Fascinating! One way to practice Buddhism.

World renowned Pema Chodron narrates a little  about life in the Abbey...

"A life not driven by personal concerns and habitual patterns. The intensity of community life lived compassionately and courageously in accordance of the precepts demands that we wake up.

At first life at the Abbey seems rather idyllic but when you make the commitment to stay for six months or when you decide this is your lifes journey then those places within yourself you don't want to surrender become highlighted."

Do you know those places inside yourself you don't want to surrender? Places that may be preventing you from waking up?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Is It Finished?

Is it finished? I set up the room while almost finished painting...just to see what they looked like. Nope they need a bit more detail....
There we go! Finished two paintings!
This close up pic is for Jason....

Thursday, April 26, 2012

While Husband Sleeps

 Just making some stuff hopefully to sell in the coming weeks. We don't know if we're going to rent a space for a month or have a quick cocktail party at Grandmas or garage sale...but I am getting ready while Stagg is sleeping during the day after his third shift.

Here is soemthing funny. After six years of blogging at this site...the changes Blogger has made for publishing is the photos that you upload now publish in the order you upload them. For six years the way blogs work is what you upload goes in a chronological order "backwards". If you wanted your pics in the actual order of time experiencing them...say...making a painting...I would have to arrange to upload them in the proper order. The pic at the bottom here was from two days ago which I wanted to post first...but now the blooger function has changed so its last because I uploaded it last in order to appear "first". ha ha...well thats I'll just post them without worrying about it and in the order I took the picture.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Okay...testing testing.

Is this a new paragraph? Have I found out the missing thing I was supposed to use to compose a post here?

How about this a new sentence and a space between paragraphs?

Two Links

Student Rally heads up ..........and Werner Herzogs note to his housekeeper

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Well, the format and dashboard of blogger has changed. I can not seem to be able to edit my posts at all. In my previous post I could not edit or separate sentances or paragraphs...poor brain scientist Michael Gazzaniga comes off impossible to understand after he gave a lovely clear explanation on Charlie Rose about free will. I wonder if when i post this there will be sentances or paragraphs...this is a test...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Free Will?

“Free will is an illusion. Free will is just a miscast problem in my opinion and that is what I try to do in the book is not just assert that but to tell the story about how the brain is built what we know comes from the factory and the brain how its organized in terms of all these modules to ultimately paint a picture that our brain works in an automatic way just like a wristwatch. And we have this belief that we’re acting as if we’re in charge and I say that it is an illusion.

 The mechanism is a special module that we discovered in the left brain, your left brain my left brain, it’s called “‘the interpreter’.  And what it does is it looks at our own behaviour, our own thinking, our own feelings, and it builds a theory, a narrative about, "Why am I feeling? Why did I just do that? Why am I having this hypothesis?" And it’s a storytelling mechanism of all our actions of all our feelings and it begins to become your idea of yourself. What you believe you to be.  So this big strong thing we have, ‘the interpreter’ no wonder we think, ‘well that must be me moving my arm’ ‘I must be in charge’. So we build up this convenient theory to explain a vastly complex but automatic machine that is the human brain.”

 Michael Gazzaniga on Charlie Rose.

   Related Links: 1) The Ethical Brain

 2)Who's In Charge: Free Will and the Science of the Brain

Friday, April 20, 2012

Triple Threat, R.I.P

I've had a number of jobs where I've worked with musicians and actors over the years. I rarely talk about those times...but every now and then I like to remember and share a few of them. I saw Levon Helm play a couple weeks ago and he was maybe not as strong as he'd seemed in the past, but I actually told a co-worker, "no he's okay, he's always looked like that"...only to hear he has passed away this week. I used to work as a decorator and house artist at a night club. At one point when we had a lot of live acts come through...the producers thought I should extend my art job to be a host to the bands. They got me to decorate the green room in different moods and themes for various bands. Then spend time in the green room and make sure the artists were comfortable and had everything they needed and their Ryders were full. This time period was really rich for me. You couldn't be a star-eyed fool. You had to be clear, helpful and not giddy. I thought I would be the last person to fill that role but my bosses thought I'd be perfect. I was very excited to be back stage with The Band. I couldn't believe it. I fixed up their room with Canadiana theme and lots of beer. A few of the guys didn't drink anymore but they had some guests. I landed up staying up all night with Rick Danko and Levon Helm. These were two of the funniest and nicest guys. Both excellent conversationalists and also both with quite silly humour. We basically shot the shit after they played an incredible set. Levon helm said goodnight around 4 a.m. and Danko and I kept on drinking beer and gabbing till the morning staff kicked us out at 9ish. I loved The Band who were a rich huge part of my young listening days. I loved seeing Levon helm show up in movies and he was always outstanding. I am also grateful for the times I've seen him over the years. * * * Here is a memory from Garth Hudson about Helm... "What is one of the most key memories: The early memories and the next three eras following that. I remember when I was a young fellow playing in Ontario second rock band: The Capers. We would sneak in for a matinee at the Brass Rail at Ontario. You could bring your family in and watch these guys play. They were a good looking bunch. The playing was big time to us. Levon was playing with Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks. They had a much bigger sound and they were all pros and wild people. I remember the way they played and looked. "That was when I first saw Levon and Ronnie play in 1957, and then I went to Detroit with The Capers. Ronnie and Levon heard I was a good player and heard us play at the Torch Bar and wanted me to join the group. A half year went by and we weren't doing too well and one of the members had to leave and I left Detroit and came to London, Ontario, and joined up with Ronnie and The Hawks and then about 1964 we all left Ronnie and went out on our own. We were in New Jersey in 1966 and got a message from Bob Dylan that he wanted to listen to us and to consider having him go out on the road with us. We went from Somers Point and Dylan came in that fall and said OK. "And that was the next era. We played all over the world. And then we came to Woodstock after that electric tour where everyone booed. There was the intermission. Everyone booed in England and Australia. The only place they didn't boo us was in Paris. They kind of didn't go for the acoustic thing there. They clapped. The only place in the world. Then came the Big Pink in Saugerties and wrote the songs and watched Bob at the typewriter and record "The Basement Tapes." Then we did our own recordings. Then "The Last Waltz" and we were on our own. Levon always came up strong ... after "The Last Waltz." Levon formed a group. The RCO Allstars had a remarkable player, Mac Rebennack, Dr. John. He was amazing. He's the main exponent of New Orleans. "If we didn't have the job of writing and thinking about what we must say in words ... if we weren't known as entertainers, we would sit with friends and talk about old times. Here, people get together and we talk about things and it's a healthy pursuit to remember and go back and remember things from the past. It reminds you of other stories, so you apply them to a book or a journal of your life. Some of use do that. ..." When was the last time you played with Levon? "Midnight Ramble at Levon's. Jimmy Vivino and myself played some of the lesser known band songs that Richard Manuel and Rick Danko were known for. We opened the show for Levon and his regular orchestra. "We went back into the kitchen after the show and Howard (Johnson) came in and said to Levon. 'You were strong tonight.' He was strong, and it wasn't that long ago."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Coffee And Work

As visitors know...I am juggling a couple of jobs. I enjoy doing so. One of my part time jobs is at a pet store. Here is a buddy. I've grown crazy fond of this little bird. He is hilarious. I like to have him on my shoulder and he seems pretty happy there himself. I hope someone buys him everytime I leave work because I CAN NOT get attached to this bird. He is a fair penny as well as his housing...but he is so funny and affectionate I just love him.
Near this pet store job...I stop for a coffee. It is the best coffee I've ever had in Chicago. it's so good. The coffee shop is vegan, but they offer a dairy cream for cups of coffee. The rest of the food and services are all vegan. I figured out that the coffee shop is painted like a Mondrian motif. Kind of cool like we're sitiing inside one of his paintings. Overall though...doesn't it seem like every alternative coffee shop in North America is kind of the same? I don't mean this in a good or bad way...but that we've reached some kind of wall for "alternative" or "edgy". I saw a magazine cartoon a couple months ago...and lost track of it or I would hae posted it here but that "hipsters" have looked the same now for 40 years. And its true. The second hand shirt, the certain types of pants, the sunglasses.
At my other job...I got to watch and listen to Graham Parker rehearse and do sound check. I was pretty excited to see him and you know...I saw him at the Masonic Temple in Toronto in the 80's with one of my best friends Paul. I got choked up seeing him the other night.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Music Man, R.I.P.

Thanks for all the music Dick Clark!!! Before video music channels...Sometimes in small town Canada this was the only way we could see what music was out there and see dances and performers.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Good Man Is Hard To Find


Once in the backyard
She was once like me
She was once like me
Twice when I killed them
They were once at peace
They were once like me

Hold to your gun, man
And put off all your peace
Put off all the beast
Paid a full of these, I wait for it
But someone's once like me
She was once like me

I once was better
I put off all my grief
I put off all my grief
So I go to hell, I wait for it
But someone's left me creased
Someone's left me creased

One of the best short stories I've ever read is Flannery O' Connor's A Good Man Is Hard To find. I think this story informs the creation of Judge Holden in Blood Meridian. Gente folksinger Sufjan wrote a song coming from the perspective of "The Misfit". If you know the O'Connor might be like me and find the juxtaposition of this songs fragile melody and vocals bizarre and pleasing.

I've been in two bookclub discussions, and my sister studied the O'Connor story in class back in 1999 and I followed her class discussion and her and I had many discussions about this story...and there has never been a "consensus" I've witnessed on the role of The Grandmother and the role of The Misfit. It really is a brilliant piece of work and you can read it online here:

A Good Man Is Hard To Find

Spoiler: I take the position that it is one thing to pay lip service to being a "good person" or a good Christian...but that outside devotion is not enough. It is a posture. For those people and possible all people, ethical, kind loving behaviour surfaces when we are faced with death or live in the moment. the only true compassion is by living in the moment feeling it may be your last moment. The bad guy in the short story by O'connor has something in common with Judge Holden in the McCarthy novel...the people surrounding them, the people in the world are false and we sort of can try to take sides with the bad guys because everyone is so weak and selfish. Hell...the bad guys are made to sufffer fools and's not so bad they are killing people left and right, the victims are hypocritical. Kind of like Dexter too.

Friday, April 13, 2012

At Work

Just Walking Around The Hood

Our public transit, "The Blue Line Harlem" stop.

There is the street, parking lot and sign for Sally's Pancake House where Stagg's grandmother worked for years.

Isn't this a definitive looking American restaurant/bar room? We popped into a couple of places in our neighbourhood. Had a beef/sausage us jus dip sandwich with coleslaw and pasta salad. We also had a small pizza at Dino's.

I took this picture because there is Labatt's Blue, Canadian beer, at this place, funny. We've seen Labatt's Blue turning up at a lot of Chicago bars lately.

Monday, April 09, 2012

John Barton

I love these recording of Acting Shakespeare with John Barton...check them out...

I've posted this one with Patrick Stewart here before...

In 1960, along with Peter Hall, he co-founded the Royal Shakespeare Company where Barton was an active director for over 40 years. He has directed over 50 productions either on his own or as a collaborator with Sir Peter Hall and Trevor Nunn. Some landmark productions at RSC include 1969's Twelfth Night with Judi Dench as Viola, and the 1963/1964 sequence of Histories (with Peter Hall and Clifford Williams). In the RSC's 50th anniversary commemorations (2011) Barton's teaching is acknowledged as one of the lasting reason's for the company's success and he is regarded as one of the most influential directors of Shakespeare of his time.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Commercial Artist, R.I.P.

Kinkade was aware of his dual legacy, of course. “The No. 1 quote critics give me is, ‘Thom, your work is irrelevant.’ Now, that’s a fascinating, fascinating comment,” he said in the Guardian. “Yes, irrelevant to the little subculture, this microculture, of modern art. But here’s the point: My art is relevant because it’s relevant to 10 million people. That makes me the most relevant artist in this culture.” here

He showed us how it's done!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Around The House

I sure do love Stagg...we have a neighbour who gives us read and Stagg does errands for her. So...we had all this bread going stale so I made him a bread pudding. I'm not too into bread so I sure do love him. We learned this particular recipe when we took a cooking demonstration in New Orleans with Tuffy P and Mister Anchovy in 2007. It was fun to be able to make it using the stale bread. It came out marvelous tons of cinnamon!

I love tacos. I remember the first time i had tacos. it was a revelation. I was with my best friend and our high school friends. I was about 15 or 16 years old. I thought it was the greatest food I had ever tasted. We were on Vancouver Island.

We got the fire pit up and running. It took a bit to get back into the swing of the charcoal and fire wood..and the wind! But we're working it out. Stagg had also saved up tree refuse he found in the alleys over the winter. We also burned junk mail instead of buying a papershredder. We had hot dogs. Yum!

In-Flight Entertainment

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Happy Painter

A couple weeks ago I watched a documentary on Bob Ross, PBSs resident paint teacher. It was very good. He seemed like a pretty sweet guy. He made a lot of people feel like they could make art work, without pretensions or training.

Here is one of his painting lessons...

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