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Supercool Blogs That You Should Read

19 Jun

People have been asking me lately which blogs I really love to read. I know I need to mention these guys more, but here you have it. Here is a list of blogs and other stuff I dig– similar content to Soul Lab, but also very unique indeed.

Idol Chatter on Beliefnet.com combines the latest pop culture news with sort of a spiritual spin on TJI_REV-RUNthings. Yes, it totally makes sense. Recent posts have talked about stupid antics that Christians on reality shows have been caught doing (yeah, we’re talking about you Speidi); The Jon & Kate Plus 8 dilemma asking readers to share heartfelt advice– remember this is Beliefnet, not E! News; and an enlightening post on the 10 most inspiring celebrities using Twitter in positive ways… from Rev Run to Paulo Coehlo.

On YogaJournal.com, there are a couple of areas to check out. First, let me just say that I absolutely do not do Yoga (I’ve tried– Lord I’ve tried), but I probably will some day again and I really like the idea of it. So, what the hell, I get into Yoga Journal when I can. Check out the Yoga Buzz blog and you’ll find posts about Janice Dickinson trying to find natural laxatives in the jungle on an episode of “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!” Then there’s the hysterical web series, “Ogden: The Inappropriate Yoga Guy.” Check it out:

rainn-wilson-the-rocker1Spearheaded by Rainn Wilson, Soul Pancake is an uniquely cool site where life’s big questions are just put right out there for spiritually-minded hipsters (or seeksters as I prefer calling them) to dicsuss. There is a great emphasis on the relationship between spirituality and creativity which I appreciate. A recent post asks the question, “Is fear learned or inherent?” accompanied by a video of Spike Jonze trying to freak out his son by wearing a prop head from his latest movie, Where the Wild Things Are (coming out in October). I have to say that the quality of the comments in response to some of these questions is refreshingly thoughtful on the most part. In another post, the question is posed, “Are you a social chameleon” trying to understand the concept of putting on various personas to meet the expectations of variety of audiences in one’s life (I talk about this in another earlier post). They showed this cool video with that question:

The Conversation: Who do you wanna meet?

15 May

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So it has been awhile since my latest installment of “The Conversation.” For those of you who have expressed an interest in my revitalizing this, I need to know… who do you wanna meet? Just to recap, “The Conversation” is a series of personal (fake) conversations with celebrities– authors, politicos, pop stars, etc. Past conversations (which are purely made up in my tired brain) have been with J.K. Rowling, Dick Cheney, Tyra Banks, Britney Spears, Barack Obama, Lindsey Lohan and more.

Check them all out here and tell me who I should “talk to” next.

Puzzling Products: Technibond (r) Medusa Pendant

14 May

So maybe I am totally out of the fashion loop here, but my remote control got strangely stalled tonight when passing by Home Shopping Network (on the way to CNN of course). And there it was… the most god awful piece of fashion jewelry I have ever seen. Three words… Technibond(r) Medusa Pendant. How is it a good idea to put the image of a mythical creature so ugly that it turns people to stone on a gold-ish pendant? What happened to Venus or Athena or even another weird creature like a centaur which doesn’t scream, “hey, run for the hills.” Even a unicorn would be better, though a lady would run the risk of being called out for arrested development. And what sort of outfit would Medusa go with, anyway? A nice little draped Goddess cocktail dress lined with rage and despair?

A good fashion accessory or an invitation to flee?

A good fashion accessory or an invitation to flee?

So what do you think? Is this worth $34.90. Are you willing to take this fashion risk? And of course, a Classics lesson from an HSN host describing the mythology behind Medusa making sure that we know the pendant is a representation of “female rage.” Perfect for that first blind date or divorce negotiations.

 

Good Vibes: Happy Mother’s Day Already

9 May

This video celebrating mothers cracked me up so bad, it actually makes me look forward to it! Viva Mama!

Reality Check Books: Real Housewives of New York meet “The Soul of Money”

29 Apr

This is the first in a new series I am calling Reality Check Books, a place where I can make book recommendations specifically for stars of reality shows (and those who truly identify with them). In this column, I will discuss (admit) the shows I watch and then (with deep sincerity) I will offer a book prescription for their madness.

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NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 11: (L-R) Reality T.V. stars Kelly Killoren Bensimon, LuAnn de Lesseps, Jill Zarin, Bethenny Frankel, Ramona Singer, and Alex McCord attend "The Real Housewives of New York City" season 2 premiere party at Gilt at the Palace Hotel on February 11, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First of all, they are neither real, nor housewives. Discuss.

The “reality” is that I just can not figure out why I am so entertained and fascinated by The Real Housewives of New York. Is it that I get to feel smug, emotionally superior, that this is the sort of trainwreck I like to see? Do I love to see silly people in weird designer clothes get all riled up about who said what to whom and when? That would be horrible and terribly unenlightened.

These episodes are case studies in human psychology that blow the lid off Survivor. Everyone is utterly preoccupied and transfixed with protecting their egos, or hurting other people’s. They are the poster ladies for looking externally to what joy– real joy– can actually be. In one fell swoop Jill bought a $16,000 handbag and the next day went on  BBC Radio discussing how she just “raised” $50,000 to improve an African community. Hmmm. This is the behavior that drives viewers to sit with jaws dropped at the hypocrisy of elite society which has been rightly reduced to sociological spectacle and cultural curiosity.

I think one aspect of the show that is so intriguing is the sheer lack of self awareness these ladies parade. They take “me” time to cosmic heights far beyond the realm of healthy self-care. Does LuAnn know how presumptuous and insensitive she appeared to be when talking to inner city girls about following their dreams (not of all them can be models and travel in exclusive circles in order to achieve this)? Does Alex know how sad her social climbing seems and how that looks to be an obvious demonstration of her intensely low self esteem? Does Bethenny realize that her preoccupation with herself and her ability to attract conflict is a reflection of her own inner conflict? Does Jill get that life is about more than parties, events, charities and shopping? Does Ramona understand that she has the emotional intelligence and maturity of a seven year-old? Does Kelly fully comprehend what a meanie she is?

The show is a social disaster area propped up by trendy restaurants, vacuous personalities, soulless conversation and silly emotional antics. It’s so unlike the trainwrecks of, say, press conferences during the Bush administration which had actual real-world ramifications. This is a lesson in manifesting prosperity and abundance in all of its incredible potential.

And just for the record, I don’t hate the rich. In many ways, I am the rich– not Rodeo Drive rich but I’m not at all adverse to accumulating that level of wealth. But screw $16,000 habdbags. That’s totally dumb.

So what is my book recommendation for the ladies?

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They should try on Lynee Twist’s The Soul of Money. Twist, a global activist and fundraiser, has raised more than $150 million for charitable causes. Through personal stories and practical advice, she demonstrates how we can replace feelings of scarcity, guilt, and burden with experiences of sufficiency, freedom, and purpose. In this Nautilus Award-winning book, Twist shares from her own life, a journey illuminated by remarkable encounters with the richest and poorest, from the famous (Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama) to the anonymous but unforgettable heroes of everyday life. 

The Soul of Money has changed my own view of my relationship with money and how it has affected every decision and nearly every aspect of my life. Twist challenges readers to understand their influence and purpose outside of the power we give to money. She also gives us historic perspective on how human beings slipped into a consciousness of competition, scarcity, limitation, status , power, greed and war (both internal and external) based on a system of profit and money that can be alienating and destructive. She takes the reality of money and turns it on its side to introduce a healing process that is life-changing.

Happy Reading, real housewives.

Good Vibes: Move Your Boogie Body 1982

19 Apr

OK, so in 1982 I was in junior high and my biggest concern was whether or not I was ever going to meet Paul McCartney. I didn’t even have the slightest conception that I should be striving for a Boogie Body. But in this Jazzercise clip, the near 40 year-old me is thinking a) what is this lady on that she feels so good and b) I need to get me some.

Soul Lab Radio: Scott Von Doviak

15 Apr
Film Critic Scott Von Doviak on "Soul Talk" April 14 at 10 p.m. CST

Film Critic Scott Von Doviak on "Soul Talk" April 14 at 10 p.m. CST

Join me as I speak with film critic and author Scott Von Doviak who will talk about his daring, mind-bending and irreverant journey in reviewing the Top 100 Worst Movies ever made. We’ll also discuss his hysterical foray into the world of hillbilly cinema with his book  Hick Flicks: The Rise and Fall of Redneck Cinema. Von Doviak has reviewed film for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Rotten Tomatoes, Screengrab, The High Hat and more.

So go to http://www.blogtalkradio.com/jenniferhr to listen in or you can also call in with questions at (347) 884-9374.

Peters Sellers, Death, and the Eternal “Who am I?”

13 Apr

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I recently brought a Muppet Show DVD home to introduce our son to the likes of Peter Sellers, John Cleese and Dudley Moore in an age appropriate way. Out of the three episodes, it was Sellers who stood out.

I’ve always been fascinated with Peter Sellers and was convinced that this comic genius and master impersonator was sort of fruit loop, truth be told. But in 1964 he was riddled with several successive heart attacks which permanently damaged his heart. He later told Shirley MacLaine on the set of Being There (for which he received his second Academy Award nomination) that he had an out of body experience during one of his “deaths.” This profoundly changed the actor who many deemed excessively difficult, childlike and self-centered. He began a spiritual journey which brought him to past life exploration, yoga, religion and a slow and steady retreat from the personality he once knew. He crept more and more into the characters he created often speaking like them and revealing less and less about himself.

He said of his death experience: “I wanted to go to that white light more than anything. I’ve never wanted anything more. I know there was love, real love, on the other side of the light which was attracting me so much. It was kind and loving and I remember thinking ‘That’s God’”. (MacLaine, Out on a Limb)

Sellers’ official biographer Alexendar Walker wrote, “The experience of resurrection intensified Sellers’ spiritual concern and friends discerned the start of a new introspectiveness, a sense of his not ‘being there’ in spirit, though present in body.”

The near-death experience also solidified Sellers’ belief that he was a reincarnated soul whose ability to perfectly imitate and create characters and accents was a direct result of having lived many past lives. But in this incarnation he did not know who he was and why he was alive. He told Shirley MacLaine:

“I know I have lived many times before … that experience confirmed it to me, because in this lifetime I felt what it was for my soul to actually be out of my body. But ever since I came back, I don’t know why I don’t know what it is I’m supposed to do, or what I came back for.” (MacLaine,174)

He died of a heart attack in 1980. 

Sellers appeared on The Muppet Show television series in 1977. Typically, the guest host is interviewed for about a minute by head muppet, Kermit the Frog. Sellers refused to be interviewed and chose not to appear as himself at any point in the show, which was a first for writers and producers. Sellers instead appeared in a variety of costumes and accents, from a gyspy to a surgeon and more.

When Kermit told Sellers he could relax and be “himself,” Sellers (while wearing a Viking helmet, a girdle and one boxing glove, claiming to have attempted to dress as Queen Victoria), replied, “But that, my dear Kermit, would be altogether impossible… I could never be myself. You see, there is no me. I do not exist. There used to be a me, but I had it surgically removed.”

Flight of the Conchords: My New Favorite Song

4 Apr

I still can not believe we got such awesome seats for the May 7 performance of Flight of the Conchords at Bass Concert Hall. I haven’t been this excited since the Seven and the Ragged Tiger Tour from Duran Duran in 1984. Oh yeah.

And I hopinghopinghoping that they play my new favorite song, “Too Many Dicks on the Dancefloor.” Bret and Jemaine are dreamboats.

Joaquin Phoenix: The Ego or the Artist at Play?

13 Feb

When I watched the interview with Joaquin Phoenix on David Letterman last night, I immediately flashed back to high school and college. There were these kids at my school, and the “richer” schools around town, who were so privileged and “cool” that their smugness and egos could light up a few counties. They didn’t have to answer to anyone, they didn’t “care” what people thought, their bratty and self-centered behavior mystified grown-ups and enchanted wannabes and social groupies. They hated the very system that elevated them and supported their dreams of becoming artists or musicians or wandering philosophers. They took risks because they knew their brand of risk came with the stability of parents with money, or a trust fund. I did not like these people because, to be blunt, they were assholes. They abandoned manners and their unique sense of judgement could make right wing conservatives look like Mother Theresa.

But then I caught myself. I started to remember other late night antics– Andy Kaufman, maybe? Naah… I think the interview had more to do with getting some cool footage for the Casey Affleck documentary about Joaquin’s new hip hop career. Seems there is always room for the requisite “Fuck you, Dave” or “This was me hitting rock bottom” scene in any self-respecting celebrity documentary. Perhaps Joaquin orchestrated the lame interview to provide that much-needed dramatic arch to any future true story docu-drama.

Or you know what? Maybe he was just high.

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