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Soul Lab Radio: Interview with Varla Ventura, author of “The Book of the Bizarre: Freaky Facts and Strange Stories”

2 Jul

bizarreJust had a fun conversation with author Varla Ventura on Soul Lab Radio about The Book of the Bizarre: Freaky Facts and Strange Stories which has thirteen chapters including Something Wicked: Mysterious Objects & Haunted Homes and Morbid Writers and Tortured Artists: From Edgar Allan Poe to Vincent Van Gogh.  Other topics in the book range from Strange Rock and Roll Stories, Medical Maladies, Conspiracy Theories, Superstitions, Hexes and even UFOs.

So what’s in the book? Did you know duck dander is hallucinogenic? Or that Katherine Hepburn had a phobia of dirty hair? Have you ever wondered about the Magickal Skull of Doom or contemplated the mysterious Transylvanian Tablets? Varla has gathered a veritable treasure trove of startling and stranger-than-fiction trivia that spans history, continents, even worlds.

We also got into some of the weird stories and I was particularly interested in a chapter called “Coincidences or Synchronicity?” Then we launched into a discussion about psychic awareness and children. Varla was introduced to the strange and unusual at a young age. Her first game was a Ouija board, and family picnics in cemeteries were common outings. She spent most of her formative years exploring graveyards, underground tunnels, and abandoned mansions in, around, and under Nevada City, California. She is the author of Sheroes and Wild Women Talk About Love. Varla currently lives in the attic of an 1890’s Victorian in the hills of San Francisco, with her cat Midnight. Of course, Halloween is her favorite holiday.

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:

Soul Lab Radio: Interview with Chris Vogler, “The Writer’s Journey

9 Jun
Chris Vogler

Chris Vogler

Just had a great interview with story consultant, author and mythology expert WritersJourney3rddropChris Vogler on Soul Lab Radio. What an interesting guy.

Chris Vogler has worked for Disney Studios, Fox 2000 Pictures and Warner Bros. in the development department. He has also taught in the USC School of Cinema-Television, Division of Animation and Digital Arts as well as at UCLA extension. He is President of the company Storytech Literary Consulting. Vogler studied filmmaking at the USC School of Cinema-Television, the alma mater of George Lucas. As with Lucas, Vogler was inspired by the writings of mythologist Joseph Campbell, particularly The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Vogler used Campbell’s work to create the now-legendary 7-page company memo for Hollywood screenwriters, A Practical Guide to The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Vogler later developed his memo into the late 1990s book, The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers now in its third edition.

The Conversation: Who do you wanna meet?

15 May

dreamstimeweb_questionhead

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?

soul-of-money

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.

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