subjects of personal interest

Monday, June 11, 2012

My Favorite Paintings in the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art

in some ways I wish this was me... boating with a friend.

I love the painting galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
I've been to the museum on a number of occasions over the past few years with different missions, but it is always the paintings that move me to want to create, to record the simple vanity of life.
The bottom line is that it's all pretty pointless- this painting of canvases thing.

We have cameras that capture frames of reality much more distinctly.
I love photography. Really, I do- I even have a Flickr site that no one visits but me.
Photography is arguably a lot more "fun" than painting.

Painting is hard work. Long hours alone in the studio (or wherever) staring at canvases in various stages of completion, trying to figure out how to make it convey the intended experience.
Painting,.... repainting.
Going cross-eyed with proportions and composition.
I don't think many people really care about paintings.
We live in a media-saturated culture.
What's another image?

Typical conversation:
"Oh, you painted that?"
"Yeah. I've been working on it for a while...finally finished it."
"It's nice..."
"What do you like about it?"
"Um, it's pretty. The colors are nice. Do you have others?
 (heard: ....I'm bored with this.. do you have another painting?  Quick!...entertain me...before I have to think about the whys and whats of your work..)"
"Yeah. I have lots more...
(but you would probably find them boring too..)"

I'm tired of boring people who want to be entertained.
They are... boring... and I don't have time to be bored.
I don't know if I've ever been bored for longer than the time it takes to think of something.
I have probably a couple hundred unfinished projects going on all round me.
Pretty much no one cares about any of them but me, but I'm definitely not bored.

My life is one un-boring, unfinished project that I happen to be right smack-dab in the middle of.

Well.... I wish I could say that I have an original thought or some great vision.
I don't...right now... just give me another minute and when one comes it'll be scribbled on a blue post-it and then it can join the medley of ideas stuck all over my walls..... Names, and themes, lines of verse, rough sketches of composition, to-do lists, and business ideas. Whatever.
I'm a pretty lame duck really. I've given some great ideas away to businessmen who in one way or another promised returns on the ideas, which have yet to arrive. Tons of slogans, logos, images, random verses, and creative ideas are always drifting across the fertile lands of my brain. Every once in a while I try to tame them and put them to work. Sometimes they're just sketched on napkins and left for the busboy.
Many of my clients have been honorable and financed their ambitions in the art department generously.
To them, I extend my appreciation. You know who you are. May it continue to go well for you!
I guess if securing bread for the day was a bit easier I'd be much more productive with my art;
but there's more to it than that. 

Like I said before, it's all vanity, and I didn't even figure that out myself-
I learned it in the Bible, in one of the most insightful books ever, Ecclesiastes.
If you never read it, now is a good time. It won't take long; it's a short book in the middle of the Bible.
So basically, today, I feel like saying, "I give up."
No one but God really cares.
I, too, should read Ecclesiastes. I would feel better.
We are all just a beautiful mess of dust and I'm tired.

You probably are reading this because for whatever reason, you like my paintings.
So, with true sincerity, I thank you for caring enough to read some of my stream of consciousness;
the same sort of pathetic drivel I usually skim-read on other blogs, and generally strictly avoid.
I'm having a weak moment.  What follows is an exercise in art therapy.
Yup. Now I can claim "quack-psychotherapist" on my resume.
Some folks pay good money to soothe their souls with this stuff.
For you, my dear, loyal reader, I provide it free of charge.

This is a selection of my favorite paintings found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
This post has been a work in progress. I've been putting it together slowly for about 5 months now.

I've tried to include links to the Met museum website so you can see high quality images and learn the background information on each piece.

We'll start with my favorite painting in the world:
"Wheatfield with Cypresses" - Vincent Van Gogh 1889

"Cypresses"  - Vincent Van Gogh -   1889   36.75 x 29.125 in.

"Regatta at Saint-Adress" - Claude Monet   1867    29.625 x 40 in.

"Boating" - Edouard Manet  1874    38.25 x 51.25 in.

 "View of Vetheuil" - Claude Monet   1880    31.5 x 23.75 in.

"Garden of Vaucresson" - Edouard Vuillard 1920 59 1/2 x 43 5/8

"Young Ladies of the Village" - Gustav Courbet  1852  76.75 x 102.75

"The Gulf of Marseilles Seen from L'Estaque" - Paul Cezanne   1885    28.75 x 39.5

Red Sunset on the Dhiaper- Arkhip Kuindzhi

sorry about the reflection on this one.."East River from the Shelton Hotel" - Georgia O'Keeffe  1928    12 x 32 in.

"Golden Gate" - Charles Sheeler 1955

"The Rocky Mountains" - Albert Bierstadt   1863   73.5 x 120.75 in.

"Soap Bubbles" - Thomas Couture - 1859  51.5 x 38.625

"Princesse de Broglie" Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres   1851-53   47.75 x 35.75 in.

"William Fraser of Reelig" - Sir Henry Raeburn  1801   29.5 x 24.5 in.

"Banks of the Loing"  William Lamb Picknell   c.1894-97   58.25 x 83 in.

"Oak Tree" - Wolfgang Adam Topffer   12.25 x 9.75 in.

"The Weeders" - Jules Breton   1868    28.125 x 50.25 in.

"Vetheuil in Summer" - Claude Monet
"The Eruption of Vesuvius" Johan Christian Dahl

"leogar" - Modrian
"Spectrum" - Ellsworth Kelly

Joan of Arc" - Jules Bastian-Lopage 1879

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Netsilik Eskimo Series- documentaries by Quentin Brown

The Netsilik Eskimo Series of documentaries (1967), directed by Quentin Brown,
are, in my opinion, the best documentary films ever created.
There is no polical message here, no clever marketing scheme, no depressing account of the world's ecological demise- just an endearing family of Netsilik Eskimos going through their daily routines.
I originally saw some of this series when I was at 18 in an anthropology course.
It was a life-changing experience for me.

These beautifully-simple films bring a completely foreign, but totally real, culture to life.
The films documented the daily survival of the family in the Far-North, over the course of a year. They take us, as the viewers, through the annual migration of the Netsilik people. A people who, up until the mid 1900's, lived like this with hardly any knowledge of the rest of modern people. With only a few metal tools, this family survives the year living in the traditional manner, traveling to the food sources available depending upon the time of year.

I would say these have been some of the most enlightening films I have ever viewed. Life may have a lot of difficulties in our current human condition of imperfection, however, very little with regard to possessions is required to live. These films help to remind me that, with a simple lifestyle and a supportive family, everything will be fine. The Netsilik family work hard at the tasks at hand and make it through each day- one day at a time. They seem to enjoy the daily activities and the company of each other.

These are not action films... They are slow-paced; it's like spending the day, the year, with a family from the far north as an invisible viewer.
One thing that really appeals to me is that no soundtrack was added to distract from the natural sounds of their environment and activity.
It is a documentary series of films in the purest and most beautiful form; a piece of media masterpiece that helps me to stay human.
I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

There are many more of these short films in the Netsilik Eskimo Series. Unfortunately the price to own them on DVD is ridiculous ($650+) or else I would definitely own a copy. Nevertheless, I'm happy to be able to put this short playlist in order thanks to the website which had made all of these available to embed here on my blog. You can visit the NFB website to view other cultural anthropology films.

I have attempted to facilitate viewing the series by arranging the links into chronological order so that you can enjoy learning about this culture without too much distraction.
If you know of a method to include more of these Netsilik Eskimo videos on this page, please leave a comment and let me know. Thanks. Enjoy!

1967 (31 minutes 56 seconds) In this short documentary about the Netsilik Inuit, more wildlife returns as winter draws to an end. The family is now living in a karmak. The man chips a hole on the lake ice and jigs the line to attract the fish. His wife joins him, and both remain at the hole through a severe blizzard.

1967 (26 minutes 40 seconds) Inuit families travel across the sea ice. Before night falls, they build igloos. A boy practices throwing his spear at a figure he has made in the snow. A woman crimps the sole of a sealskin boot she is making.

1967 (26 minutes 36 seconds) Men hunt seal through the sea ice. A hunter strikes, and takes his catch home to skin. A polar bear skin is pegged out to dry, and people nibble on raw fish from the cache.

1967 (26 minutes 35 seconds) A hunter, travelling alone with sled and dogs, snares and kills a squirrel. In camp, a sled is made from a polar bear skin. The family breaks camp, and moves ashore for the summer.



1967 (34 minutes 15 seconds) It is late June and much of the land is bare. There is plenty of activity in the camp as a man fashions a bow from bone and sinews while the children play. The following day the men move out on the sea ice to look for seal pups.

1967 (27 minutes 56 seconds) The men are out on the sea ice and the women work at tasks at the camp, such as drying out the sealskins, cooking sea gulls, gathering moss as fuel. Everyone ends up playing a juggling game.

1967 (33 minutes) The men are out on the ice catching seals and relishing their liver and blood. Upon their return, the women cut away the blubber from the meat and everyone sits down to eat.

1967 (30 minutes 20 seconds) It is the height of summer. The skin tents are up, and it is time to fish. The men go into the river to form enclosures to trap fish. Once trapped, they are speared with three-pronged leisters. A woman cleans the catch, which has been strung on a thong. Everyone enjoys bits of raw fish.

1967 (26 minutes 54 seconds) The summer fishing continues. The plentiful catch is stored in stone caches after the women have cleaned it. Some of the fish is cooked in a stone pot.

1967 length: 32 minutes 20 seconds An Inuit depicts the initial steps in the construction of a kayak. The run-off is in full flow and it is time for the Inuit to build a watercraft. The whole family is involved in shaping this invaluable tool.

1967 length: 32 minutes 46 seconds

1967 (30 minutes 17 seconds) The time is early autumn, the place an Inuit camp in the Pelly Bay region of the Canadian Arctic. A woman, a boy and two men are shown occupied with their various activities. A woman works on caribou skins. Men return from the hunt with another caribou. A boy picks berries and then plays at being a hunter.

1967 (29 minutes 27 seconds)  Two men join the four people at camp. The men build a row of inukshuit, manlike figures which they use to deflect the oncoming caribou into the water, where they are subsequently speared and floated ashore. A great feast follows.

1967 (26 minutes 18 seconds) It is late autumn. The Inuit move to the river valley where they build karmaks--shelters with snow walls and roofs of skins. The men fish with spears and their catch is cooked over an exterior fire. The family then eats inside the karmaks.

1967 (33 minutes 6 seconds) The family moves once again, this time into an igloo built by the men. A sleigh is constructed from skins, frozen fish and caribou antlers. When ready, it is loaded and the family heads down the river to the coast.

1967 (35 minutes 42 seconds) The Inuit family stop their trek and make camp. It is late winter when the cold is severe. The men cut blocks for an igloo while the women shovel the site. During the day, the men sit patiently on the ice, waiting for seals.

1967 (36 minutes 16 seconds) Life at the campsite. Children amuse themselves with makeshift toys. Women tend their children, make clothes, and repair the igloos. When the men return with their catch, everyone goes inside where work, story-telling and games occupy each one's time.

1967 (30 minutes 14 seconds) Work begins on a spacious community igloo. When the men return to their hunt, the women continue with their work and play games with the children. A seal is dragged into the igloo to be shared by everyone, including the dogs, who are called in to clean up.

1967 (34 minutes 40 seconds) The life of the community inside the igloo. A stone chip is removed from a woman's eye. Men and women gamble at spear-the-peg game. The day ends with a drum performance. The next day the big igloo is deserted and the Inuit are again trekking over the broad expanse of sea ice.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


a totally dated 80's girl - Patrick Nagel

Is this timeless art?
It's awesome 80's pop art that's for sure; but it basically screams its era its so dated.
So why write about this in my blog? Keep reading...

I had a great conversation with my friend Brian at an art gallery the other day.
It was about about "timelessness" and how paintings become dated by fashion.
The subject was a beautiful woman in a distinctively 80s ladies' suit (not the illustration pictured above.)
Even though I couldn't stand the lady's garb, it was a beautiful painting. 

I decided, right there and then, that I no longer care when subject matter and composition date a painting. My lack of appreciation for this lady's sense of fashion, at that time in her life, is really irrelevant to the painting. The painting is about her, not me.
The painting is her story and time marches on.

If people had forever, they might be less inclined to spend so much time
capturing moments with cameras and brushes.
That would be timelessness.
For now- we're all dated.
Art reflects that.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

-the conundrum of art- poetry by dkeil

-the conundrum of art-
by Doug Keil

What do you call a collection of colors and spaces,
by ways and places as divergent
as the products of humanity?

What do you call the creative processes
of reflection and reaction,
the call and response of mind and matter,
the bridges of intentions that effect communication-
often unhindered by time and culture-
from long ago to today,
from the heat of jungles
to the vast white seas of ice,
(and everywhere in between?)

History has heard many words
     voiced in attempt to define
the creative methods of human expression;
     the finest word of all being “art.”

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Beware of Skin Cancer

I always wondered what skin cancer looked like
and I thought this was a good link to get an idea. Since cancer is truly an epidemic these days, the more we know about what it looks like, the earlier we could be treated if something seemes suspicious. Please be warned some of the photos of skin cancer in the link are pretty gross, but without seeing what a cancerous spot looks like, it's hard to take action- or encourage a loved one to take action.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Jersey Wildflowers- North Plainfield, NJ

Wildflowers I grew up with:

Virginia bluebells
Lily of the valley
spring beauties
trout lily
garlic mustard

butterfly bush (above)
indian pipe
wild geranium
ground ivy (or gill-over-the-ground)
purple dead nettle
joe pyeweed
horse nettle
purple nightshade
wild carrrot
wild strawberry
daisy fleabane
bull thistle
goldenrod (various species)
aster (various species)
shepherd's purse
slender flag iris
pink lady's slipper
butter and eggs
mild mint
wood nettle
stinging nettle
spotted (striped) wintergreen

sheep laurel (above)
day lily
snow bells
star of bethlehem
blue eyed grass
black raspberry
wind ginger
multiflora rose
asiatic dayflower

Many of these plants have been introduced species and are invasive "weeds" to most. However, being an alien species isn't necessarily bad in my mind, since many were introduced by settlers from Europe as food sources.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Go Bag

The point of a go bag is emergency preparedness,
not necessarily long-term survival.
It's something that everyone in the family can grab so that they can get out and get by in the case of a disaster of some kind. Of course, it would only help you if it's ready to go!

There was a great article in the Awake magazine a couple years ago. It encouraged the practicality of assembling a go bag one for each member of the family.

It's been a project on my "back burner" for a while, so I've decided to update my bag with that information. I will share some of my research here. I have most of the items from my wilderness exploration days, but they have become scattered about the house over time.

Internal frame pack with sturdy hip belt
waterproof pack cover
midsize MSR cookpot
butane lighter with duct tape rolled around it
gerber hatchet 
stainless steel soup spoon
(non-down) Sleeping bag
fleece blanket
8x10 brown/ black plastic tarp

basic clothes-
3 pairs comfortable hiking socks
3 pairs underwear
2 set modal long underwear- top & bottom
sturdy canvas jeans- Carhartts are good
Lightweight fleece hoodie
insulated Carhartt hoodie
good leather belt
comfortable fleece/wool hat- pref. a visor beanie
lightweight fleece gloves
   or leather gloves which are great for using around a campfire
copies of important papers-
Passport, driver's license, DPA, etc.

Food (in a stuff sack)
5 cans kippered herring!
-or- a few cans of tuna
box or two of Stoned Wheat thins
sack of organic quick oats
plastic jar of organic peanut butter

small plastic bottle of olive oil
sea salt, pepper, chili, garlic, and cinnamon powders
bunch of healthy fruit & nut type granola bars
small sack each of sweet brown rice and green lentils
small sack of brown sugar
small sack of whole wheat flour
journal, pen, and pencil

small Bible
small songbook
small first aid kit
(a few basic medicines, tape, ace bandage, moleskin, bactroban/neosporin/ tweezers, flexible splint, CPR mask, basic bandages, cloth cravat or two)
any necessary prescription medicines

2 small rolls of parachute cord each about 20ft long
small bottle of unscented bleach- 2 drops per qt to purify water
Small solar charger for the cell phone

Plastic or preferably stainless steel Nalgene bottle with a strainer insert for making tea out of random stuff. They sell these at EMS and REI.
stainless steel MSR fuel bottle - this is a great item for cold weather.  You can boil water in it, stuff it in a sock, and then put it in your sleeping bag by your feet at night. It works great as a radiator!

That's pretty much it. Actually, that's a bit excessive; but still manageable.
I can live out of a backpack pretty comfortably with all that.
Actually, it would kind of be like a vacation!
Anymore stuff just becomes too much weight on the shoulders, would drag me down.
The plans of the diligent one makes for success...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Graphic Depictions of DECLINING ARCTIC SEA ICE - from NASA

As many are now aware,
the Arctic ice cap has been declining rapidly over the past decade.

The top two images below show arctic ice
in the yearly min and max from 1999 to 2000
Now compare them to the two images below them, taken ten years later!
Keep in mind the scale of the images- that's a lot of missing ice!!

 Arctic sea ice plays an important role in global temperature regulation, due to the reflection of light energy by the white ice. As more seawater becomes exposed, and thus absorbing light energy due to the dark color of seawater, the arctic waters warm. This trend has caused the incredibly thick Arctic sea ice to thin significantly in recent years.

How dramatically? Well the long sought-after Northwest Passage for shipping was open for shipping transport by large container ships in 2007. Not an irrelevant development by any means!

The following link displays government statistics graphically for every year since 1999.

Keep in mind that the ice level in September-following the 24 hour summers of the far North is always at its peak decline for the year.
The ice level in March, after the dark, cold Arctic winter,
depicts the greatest amount of sea ice for that year.
follow this link to learn more:

Here is another interesting link
on the same satellite imaging website.
This compares the vegetation changes in a region of the far north over 43 years. Apparently, the climate has warmed sufficiently enough to allow shrubbery to spread significantly onto the tundra.

GeoEye-1 image copyright GeoEye, provided through the NGA Commercial Imagery Program. Gambit satellite image courtesy of the United States Geological Survey. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey, 

 click here for the interactive photo from
NOAA ClimateWatch Magazine.


Monday, May 2, 2011

When you post to FACEBOOK - you are contributing all your info to the US Intelligence network

Here is an interview with Julian Assange, who is currently in a huge legal mess for the publication of classified government documents via his WikiLeaks website. Obviously he's quite perturbed at the lack of truth in human communications and is a very well-spoken man.

His commentary on Facebook and Twitter are worth your attention, as well as his perspective of corporate news media.

Facebook commentary @ 2:00
News media commentary @ 7:25

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Need for Solitude- from Awake magazine 11-1-1956

As a matter of personal study, I like to consider material that was printed many years ago in order to reflect on how culture has changed. This is an article that I found particularly encouraging regarding our necessity for purposeful time spent alone. Time alone working things out, reflecting on the past, preparing for the future, considering the application of spiritual principles.
When reading the article, note the comments that were made in 1956 regarding foreseeable changes in society due to the influence of television- and compare them to what we observe now in 2011. Less time with TVland's fantasy world is more time in our reality, it takes vigilance though  because a walk through suburbia at dusk reveals most living rooms glowing and flickering with commercially-inspired TV programming. Just think, not too long ago, people used to spend that time communicating, reading, and yes- even sitting quietly and thinking. Now on a regular basis their brains are filled with all manner of sordid violence and troubles- and people do have a choice in the matter.

Inter-generational changes can be substantial, yet largely dismissed. One hundred years ago it was the one who didn't attend a church who was viewed as strange, possibly deviant. Today, quite the opposite. Instead of working for knowledge, as the article mentions,
people "like thinking only if others do it. They will absorb themselves in television quiz and panel shows to listen to others think, but shun such mental exercise themselves. They would like to have knowledge, to know all the answers, but not enough to work for it; just as they would like to have a strong physique, but not enough to do the exercise necessary to get it."

I thought this was a particularly valuable point in the dumbing-down of the mind that appears to be a progressive cultural trend throughout my lifetime- certainly one I don't wish to follow.

Personally, I am very thankful for the information published in the Awake and Watchtower magazines. Did you know that they are the most widely distributed magazines in the world?
Available in almost 200 languages (yes, 200) and with a combined printing of over 82,000,000 copies- as of this April's edition. A truly worldwide educational effort.
Have you ever heard the saying that "nothing is free?"
It's a popular saying- but it is wrong.
The truth is free- and available,
for those who are willing to accept it.

The following is the excerpt I discovered in my personal research:
AWAKE magazine -November 1, 1956

"The Need for Solitude"

Jehovah commands us to meditate; and to meditate we need solitude. We are to meditate on Jehovah’s Word, not just for mental exercise or personal enrichment of thought or to philosophize, but to be better able then to go preach it to others. Serious meditation, not daydreaming, is hard work. The mind is like a balky mule; it takes a few licks and kicks to get it moving. And it takes solitude so that outside interferences will be cut to as near nothing as possible.
Writing in the December 1, 1954, Christian Century, Simeon Stylites said: “In so many ways we, as a people, have declared war on solitude and meditation. We are lost without a ‘set’ or a ‘bunch.’ The worst possible calamity is to be alone. If you enjoy anything alone, you are ‘antisocial’ and ought to be rushed to the psychoanalyst’s couch, or better still to the mental hospital.”
And in the January 11, 1956, issue of this journal this writer said: “At last it is here—portable TV! Let’s all stand up and sing the doxology. For this is the climax of a long line of inventions and appliances designed to prevent a person from ever being reduced to the necessity of meeting himself. It will save us—along with that other instrument of deliverance from the horrors of solitude, the portable radio—from what many up-to-date moderns regard as the worst fate possible: to be left alone without any gadget to protect them from the necessity of rubbing two thoughts together.”
Neither this world nor its god Satan wants people to think for themselves. Satan’s propaganda floods out through worldly channels to mold all minds into a conformity with his system of things. On page 66 of The Age of Conformity Alan Valentine says: “Americans spend so much time in sodden absorption in radio, television and press that little is left for other communication or recreation. Inner resources for self-entertainment are atrophying from lack of use, and personal thought is being made unnecessary by the acceptance of predigested opinion from favorite commentators.” And on page 113 he adds: “The average American has not warmly accepted the highest flights of the creative mind. He prefers intellectual showmen or barkers who do not tax his brain or imagination too heavily.”
Many like thinking only if others do it. They will absorb themselves in television quiz and panel shows to listen to others think, but shun such mental exercise themselves. They would like to have knowledge, to know all the answers, but not enough to work for it; just as they would like to have a strong physique, but not enough to do the exercise necessary to get it.
Youth, following in the adult footsteps, has the same aversion to solitude and meditation. Psychologist Robert Lindner says that one main source of youth’s troubles today lies in “the abandonment of that solitude which was at once the trademark of adolescence and the source of its deepest despairs as of its dubious ecstasies. And frequently this solitude was creative. From it sometimes came the dreams, the hopes and the soaring aims that charged life henceforward with meaning and contributed to giving us our poets, artists, scientists . . . But youth today has abandoned solitude in favor of pack-running, of predatory assembly, of great collectivities that bury, if they do not destroy, individuality. Into these mindless associations the young flock like cattle. The fee they pay for initiation is abandonment of self and immersion in the herd . . . This innovation can yield no social gain. For it is in solitude that the works of hand, heart and mind are always conceived. In the crowd, herd or gang, it is a mass mind that operates—a mind without subtlety, without compassion, uncivilized.”
The necessity of solitude and the difficulty of getting it are discussed by Anne Morrow Lindbergh in Gift from the Sea: “We seem so frightened today of being alone that we never let it happen. Even if family, friends, and movies should fail, there is still the radio or television to fill up the void. Women, who used to complain of loneliness, need never be alone any more. We can do our housework with soap-opera heroes at our side. Even daydreaming was more creative than this; it demanded something of oneself and it fed the inner life. Now, instead of planting our solitude with our own dream blossoms, we choke the space with continuous music, chatter, and companionship to which we do not even listen. It is simply there to fill the vacuum. When the noise stops there is no inner music to take its place. We must re-learn to be alone. . . .
“The world today does not understand, in either man or woman, the need to be alone. How inexplicable it seems. Anything else will be accepted as a better excuse. If one sets aside time for a business appointment, a trip to the hairdresser, a social engagement, or a shopping expedition, that time is accepted as inviolable. But if one says: I cannot come because that is my hour to be alone, one is considered rude, egotistical or strange. What a commentary on our civilization, when being alone is considered suspect; when one has to apologize for it, make excuses, hide the fact that one practices it—like a secret vice! Actually these are among the most important times in one’s life—when one is alone. Certain springs are tapped only when we are alone. The artist knows he must be alone to create; the writer, to work out his thoughts; the musician, to compose; the saint, to pray.”
It is the refreshing spiritual springs that are tapped by true Christians when they meditate in solitude on Jehovah’s Word, and when they come together in meetings each one has more to contribute to the discussion, and when they go preaching in the homes of the people they have thoughts substantial enough to withstand opposing error, overturn it, bring wayward thinking into harmony with Jehovah’s Word. Jesus sought both solitude and people, one as a time to take in and the other as a time to give out. And he is “a model for you to follow his steps closely.”—1 Pet. 2:21; 2 Cor. 10:3-5; Luke 4:42; 5:16, NW.

For more info on the Bible's teachings or if you would like a free home bible study-
go to the official site of Jehovah's Witnesses at
You can read the Bible online, even download publications on many interesting topic in PDF format.
There's also a link in the sidebar on my blog.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

"I'm Not Buying" poem by Douglas Keil (dkeil)

"I'm Not Buying"
 -Douglas Keil

Billboard babes and pinstripe suits
Flattering words telling me what to do.
You’re owned and your words are cloned-
A paycheck doesn’t mean the words are true!
A catch all with a quick swipe;
pick up lines and a bunch of hype;
not the drop-by friends that I tend to find.
Hardly a coffee klatch or even good times.
I don’t think they’ll want to stay awhile.
Hit and run, they’re under the gun
a short time to stack up a big pile
Business is not your friend,
Not someone on whom you can depend.
A real friend’s love is true-
The bottom line doesn’t play pretend.

Pretty girls with pretty smiles,
Pretty boys running away
with self-centered lifestyles;
dead babies piling up for fast times,
trading playtime for lifetimes,
Bloodguilt is heavy in the land,
At night in sorrow women moan,
girls as mothers working two jobs alone,
so many broken homes and boys without dads,
sick and twisted diseases
that no one needs to have.
What happened to marriages and baby carriages?
Allure, it’s sure, buries an easy cure-
But happiness can’t be had with a new ‘do-
and people look so sad.

Corporate dash. College degrees and Ph-Ds
Big debt, new cars, new house, but no J-O-Bs.
JP Chase is fishing for a bite,
credit perks that are outta sight!
Comcast is catching someone’s living room view,
Streaming gleaming entertaining thrills for you
the City never sleeps ‘cause it’s up all night
Printing new things for my shredder to chew.
It’s just another case of “I did it my way,”
I think I saw this movie before.
I think I read the history about that war.
I heard the stories about kings who hated the poor
people who just wanted to live.
There’s been enough attempts to rule us all.
Y’all failed- we don’t need any more!

Limelight burns along with tropical honeymoons,
How many are needed; when will we learn? No one’s immune!
For me- a simple life doing good will do;
minding spiritual things will carry me through.
I don’t want to be one singing the blues
when along comes the day-
a day coming soon; “Hey fella, your payment’s due!”
The ransom’s high, but I found a way…

It’s a double header on a famous Friday
flashing lights and the lot is full,
bad dreams for sale,
but I’m not buying.

© 2011 Douglas Keil

Where Have The Good Men Gone? (excerpted from the Wall Street Journal)


Where Have The Good Men Gone?

Kay S. Hymowitz argues that too many men in their 20s are living in a new kind of extended adolescence.

[Review cover] Erin Patrice O'Brien for The Wall Street Journal

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Not so long ago, the average American man in his 20s had achieved most of the milestones of adulthood: a high-school diploma, financial independence, marriage and children. Today, most men in their 20s hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance. This "pre-adulthood" has much to recommend it, especially for the college-educated. But it's time to state what has become obvious to legions of frustrated young women: It doesn't bring out the best in men.
Between his lack of responsibilities and an entertainment media devoted to his every pleasure, today's young man has no reason to grow up, says author Kay Hymowitz. She discusses her book, "Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys."

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"We are sick of hooking up with guys," writes the comedian Julie Klausner, author of a touchingly funny 2010 book, "I Don't Care About Your Band: What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux-Sensitive Hipsters and Other Guys I've Dated." What Ms. Klausner means by "guys" is males who are not boys or men but something in between. "Guys talk about 'Star Wars' like it's not a movie made for people half their age; a guy's idea of a perfect night is a hang around the PlayStation with his bandmates, or a trip to Vegas with his college friends.... They are more like the kids we babysat than the dads who drove us home." One female reviewer of Ms. Kausner's book wrote, "I had to stop several times while reading and think: Wait, did I date this same guy?"
For most of us, the cultural habitat of pre-adulthood no longer seems noteworthy. After all, popular culture has been crowded with pre-adults for almost two decades. Hollywood started the affair in the early 1990s with movies like "Singles," "Reality Bites," "Single White Female" and "Swingers." Television soon deepened the relationship, giving us the agreeable company of Monica, Joey, Rachel and Ross; Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer; Carrie, Miranda, et al.
But for all its familiarity, pre-adulthood represents a momentous sociological development. It's no exaggeration to say that having large numbers of single young men and women living independently, while also having enough disposable income to avoid ever messing up their kitchens, is something entirely new in human experience. Yes, at other points in Western history young people have waited well into their 20s to marry, and yes, office girls and bachelor lawyers have been working and finding amusement in cities for more than a century. But their numbers and their money supply were always relatively small. Today's pre-adults are a different matter. They are a major demographic event.
What also makes pre-adulthood something new is its radical reversal of the sexual hierarchy. Among pre-adults, women are the first sex. They graduate from college in greater numbers (among Americans ages 25 to 34, 34% of women now have a bachelor's degree but just 27% of men), and they have higher GPAs. As most professors tell it, they also have more confidence and drive. These strengths carry women through their 20s, when they are more likely than men to be in grad school and making strides in the workplace. In a number of cities, they are even out-earning their brothers and boyfriends.
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WHY GROW UP? Men in their 20s now have an array of toys and distractions at their disposal, from videogames and sports bars to 'lad' magazines like Maxim, which makes Playboy look like Camus. Still, for these women, one key question won't go away: Where have the good men gone? Their male peers often come across as aging frat boys, maladroit geeks or grubby slackers—a gender gap neatly crystallized by the director Judd Apatow in his hit 2007 movie "Knocked Up." The story's hero is 23-year-old Ben Stone (Seth Rogen), who has a drunken fling with Allison Scott (Katherine Heigl) and gets her pregnant. Ben lives in a Los Angeles crash pad with a group of grubby friends who spend their days playing videogames, smoking pot and unsuccessfully planning to launch a porn website. Allison, by contrast, is on her way up as a television reporter and lives in a neatly kept apartment with what appear to be clean sheets and towels. Once she decides to have the baby, she figures out what needs to be done and does it. Ben can only stumble his way toward being a responsible grownup.

So where did these pre-adults come from? You might assume that their appearance is a result of spoiled 24-year-olds trying to prolong the campus drinking and hook-up scene while exploiting the largesse of mom and dad. But the causes run deeper than that. Beginning in the 1980s, the economic advantage of higher education—the "college premium"—began to increase dramatically. Between 1960 and 2000, the percentage of younger adults enrolled in college or graduate school more than doubled. In the "knowledge economy," good jobs go to those with degrees. And degrees take years.

Another factor in the lengthening of the road to adulthood is our increasingly labyrinthine labor market. The past decades' economic expansion and the digital revolution have transformed the high-end labor market into a fierce competition for the most stimulating, creative and glamorous jobs. Fields that attract ambitious young men and women often require years of moving between school and internships, between internships and jobs, laterally and horizontally between jobs, and between cities in the U.S. and abroad. The knowledge economy gives the educated young an unprecedented opportunity to think about work in personal terms. They are looking not just for jobs but for "careers," work in which they can exercise their talents and express their deepest passions. They expect their careers to give shape to their identity. For today's pre-adults, "what you do" is almost synonymous with "who you are," and starting a family is seldom part of the picture.
Pre-adulthood can be compared to adolescence, an idea invented in the mid-20th century as American teenagers were herded away from the fields and the workplace and into that new institution, the high school. For a long time, the poor and recent immigrants were not part of adolescent life; they went straight to work, since their families couldn't afford the lost labor and income. But the country had grown rich enough to carve out space and time to create a more highly educated citizenry and work force. Teenagers quickly became a marketing and cultural phenomenon. They also earned their own psychological profile. One of the most influential of the psychologists of adolescence was Erik Erikson, who described the stage as a "moratorium," a limbo between childhood and adulthood characterized by role confusion, emotional turmoil and identity conflict.
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Marty (Ernest Borgnine) is 34 and single, to the chagrin of his mom— and himself. He finally finds love, even if his friends call her a "dog."Like adolescents in the 20th century, today's pre-adults have been wait-listed for adulthood. Marketers and culture creators help to promote pre-adulthood as a lifestyle. And like adolescence, pre-adulthood is a class-based social phenomenon, reserved for the relatively well-to-do. Those who don't get a four-year college degree are not in a position to compete for the more satisfying jobs of the knowledge economy.
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Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and his friend Billy set off on a motorcycle trip across America. Encounters with hippies, drugs and jail ensue.But pre-adults differ in one major respect from adolescents. They write their own biographies, and they do it from scratch. Sociologists use the term "life script" to describe a particular society's ordering of life's large events and stages. Though such scripts vary across cultures, the archetypal plot is deeply rooted in our biological nature. The invention of adolescence did not change the large Roman numerals of the American script. Adults continued to be those who took over the primary tasks of the economy and culture. For women, the central task usually involved the day-to-day rearing of the next generation; for men, it involved protecting and providing for their wives and children. If you followed the script, you became an adult, a temporary custodian of the social order until your own old age and demise.
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Tony Manero (John Travolta) has an unfulfilling job at a hardware store. He really lives for weekend nights ("Watch the hair!") at the disco.Unlike adolescents, however, pre-adults don't know what is supposed to come next. For them, marriage and parenthood come in many forms, or can be skipped altogether. In 1970, just 16% of Americans ages 25 to 29 had never been married; today that's true of an astonishing 55% of the age group. In the U.S., the mean age at first marriage has been climbing toward 30 (a point past which it has already gone in much of Europe). It is no wonder that so many young Americans suffer through a "quarter-life crisis," a period of depression and worry over their future.
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Ambitious stockbroker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) just wants to get to the top. His new riches nab him such nifty gadgets as a sushi maker.Given the rigors of contemporary career-building, pre-adults who do marry and start families do so later than ever before in human history. Husbands, wives and children are a drag on the footloose life required for the early career track and identity search. Pre-adulthood has also confounded the primordial search for a mate. It has delayed a stable sense of identity, dramatically expanded the pool of possible spouses, mystified courtship routines and helped to throw into doubt the very meaning of marriage. In 1970, to cite just one of many numbers proving the point, nearly seven in 10 25-year-olds were married; by 2000, only one-third had reached that milestone.
Universal Pictures/Everett Collection
After a drunken affair makes the immature Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) a father-to-be, he makes a go, slowly, of becoming a grownup.

American men have been struggling with finding an acceptable adult identity since at least the mid-19th century. We often hear about the miseries of women confined to the domestic sphere once men began to work in offices and factories away from home. But it seems that men didn't much like the arrangement either. They balked at the stuffy propriety of the bourgeois parlor, as they did later at the banal activities of the suburban living room. They turned to hobbies and adventures, like hunting and fishing. At midcentury, fathers who at first had refused to put down the money to buy those newfangled televisions changed their minds when the networks began broadcasting boxing matches and baseball games. The arrival of Playboy in the 1950s seemed like the ultimate protest against male domestication; think of the refusal implied by the magazine's title alone.
In his disregard for domestic life, the playboy was prologue for today's pre-adult male. Unlike the playboy with his jazz and art-filled pad, however, our boy rebel is a creature of the animal house. In the 1990s, Maxim, the rude, lewd and hugely popular "lad" magazine arrived from England. Its philosophy and tone were so juvenile, so entirely undomesticated, that it made Playboy look like Camus.
At the same time, young men were tuning in to cable channels like Comedy Central, the Cartoon Network and Spike, whose shows reflected the adolescent male preferences of its targeted male audiences. They watched movies with overgrown boy actors like Steve Carell, Luke and Owen Wilson, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, Will Farrell and Seth Rogen, cheering their awesome car crashes, fart jokes, breast and crotch shots, beer pong competitions and other frat-boy pranks. Americans had always struck foreigners as youthful, even childlike, in their energy and optimism. But this was too much.

What explains this puerile shallowness? I see it as an expression of our cultural uncertainty about the social role of men. It's been an almost universal rule of civilization that girls became women simply by reaching physical maturity, but boys had to pass a test. They needed to demonstrate courage, physical prowess or mastery of the necessary skills. The goal was to prove their competence as protectors and providers. Today, however, with women moving ahead in our advanced economy, husbands and fathers are now optional, and the qualities of character men once needed to play their roles—fortitude, stoicism, courage, fidelity—are obsolete, even a little embarrassing.
Today's pre-adult male is like an actor in a drama in which he only knows what he shouldn't say. He has to compete in a fierce job market, but he can't act too bossy or self-confident. He should be sensitive but not paternalistic, smart but not cocky. To deepen his predicament, because he is single, his advisers and confidants are generally undomesticated guys just like him.
Single men have never been civilization's most responsible actors; they continue to be more troubled and less successful than men who deliberately choose to become husbands and fathers. So we can be disgusted if some of them continue to live in rooms decorated with "Star Wars" posters and crushed beer cans and to treat women like disposable estrogen toys, but we shouldn't be surprised.
Relatively affluent, free of family responsibilities, and entertained by an array of media devoted to his every pleasure, the single young man can live in pig heaven—and often does. Women put up with him for a while, but then in fear and disgust either give up on any idea of a husband and kids or just go to a sperm bank and get the DNA without the troublesome man. But these rational choices on the part of women only serve to legitimize men's attachment to the sand box. Why should they grow up? No one needs them anyway. There's nothing they have to do.
They might as well just have another beer.
—Adapted from "Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys" by Kay S. Hymowitz, to be published by Basic Books on March 1. Copyright © by Kay S. Hymowitz. Printed by arrangement with Basic Books.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Musical adventures- favorite videos of late

OkGo  "End Love"
This amazing stop motion music video just plain makes me happy.
I absolutely love the super slo-mo work, the goose guest, and the spinning ending in the park.
Talk about artistic cooperation. A musical art take on the huge extras sets of the 60's.
Did I mention that they must have a love of color like yours truly?
Excellent production and editing work. A masterpiece!

Hollerado "Americana"
is another example of stop-motion at its finest. Reminds me of the days when a boyhood friend, Dan Wilckens, and I would be in his basement with his family's VHS camcorder doing stop motion filming. He was a genius. At the time, I knew stop motion had real application beyond Wallace and Grommit-  well here it is!
If you are further interested in the "how-in-the-world-did-they-do-that," just search the video in YouTube and select the video on "the making of Hollerado Americana."
I highly recommend the filming insight.

This is not the official video for Guster'"Satellite"
- somehow I wasn't able to upload that one.
Nevertheless, it is a pretty creative use of their music. A playful use of color, popart, retro vibes, and a healthy dash of cheesiness. Definitely a favorite song of mine though..

La Roux's "I'm Not Your Toy"
I love the song more than the video, though I can certainly appreciate
the scathing take on the phoniness of the jet-set and wealthy lifestyle of business barons.
Martinis, pools, dapper duds, and the shameless pursuit of young and beautiful people for immoral and unprincipled exploitation is cooly presented here by La Roux as the disgusting foolishness it is.
What at first may seem to be a personal indulgence in the MTV "video success formula" 
slowly develops into a clever satire. People are not toys, love people, not stuff. 

The Go Team! "Milk Crisis" 
I don't know what is about this band...I love their instrumental work.
I'm not much a fan of their vocalwork, but here is my favorite-
A staticy overdubbed, live instrument work with a bunch of funky double-dutch, cheerleaderish-calls playing over a pretty sweet retro-modern rock groove.Reminds me of some music I liked as a little kid in the Bronx, watching out of the window of my friend Maureen's apartment as streetkids played in the spray of a fire hydrant below. A blistering hot July summer day; there was some funky, uptempo optimistic youthful music playing behind the sounds of children's laughter. To this day, I don't know what it was, but this song and some of Stevie Wonder's stuff strikes the chord well.

Breakbot "Baby I'm Yours"
Ok- the artist in me kinda goes crazy with this composition. 
How in the world someone had the patience to paint all 5,000(or whatever) number of watercolor plates it took to produce this video is absolutely beyond me. I'm blown away. A nice pictoral development of the theme- I could do without the creepy snake scene, but there's always something a little off in the entertainment world.  I admire the craftsmanship, but try to keep a safe distance from the snares set along the trail.
I do absolutely love the style of this visual work, and a sweet groove of a song to boot!!