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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:

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.

My Next Top Reality: Ode to Writers

16 Oct

So last year my friend John started this great online mag called Shuffleboil.com where he gathered up a bunch of his writer friends and we all contributed to his brilliant work. The mag is something new and great and all his own now, but I was reading through some old posts and I thought I would reinvigorate (and rewrite) some here.

ODE TO WRITERS

When I watch the Oscars, my favorite category is Best Writing. Why it’s not Best Writer, I really don’t know. It’s a crime. I am consistently amazed at novelists, essayists and short story writers who engage me so completely that I dream about their characters and I physically feel as though I’ve been transported to another place and time. It’s magic.

And while I get a lot of pleasure out of my book learnin’ ways and my critically-acclaimed film tastes, I always stand ready to praise the quality of writing that I see on television when merited. Sure, most of the dramas and comedies they pass off as entertainment doesn’t even get a second glance from me. But today, I watched a new episode of Mad Men. I am riveted by how thoroughly I was carried into the dialogue and mannerisms of ad guys in Manhattan in 1960. The characters depict a picture of restraint and rage duking it out over the neatly folded over tear in the book of genders. It is a world of men and their women—whores or saints—peddling through a haze of cigarettes, whiskey and lies. I have never seen such an honest depiction of this time in the evolution of American society and culture. The sixties are here, and everything is about to change. This would be the last few years where openly speaking about “catching a husband” or “private executive bank accounts for men who need to keep certain matters from their wives” would be even remotely socially acceptable. There is one’s inside-your-own-head voice and the one you use to maneuver through daily life. I might even dare to say that the guys in Mad Men are the great envy of many men today.

So while the best writers in the industry—the women and men you depend on for that storyline, those characters, that fleeting escape—are constantly fighting to get their fair share and keep writing and providing for their families, I would like to pitch my own reality show while supporting my fellow writers. This is my small way of bringing the two sides come together. A little win-win never hurt, right? Here goes.

The Write Stuff!

Take a group of sixteen writers and make them compete for a chance to be named America ’s #1 Writer! Prize package includes a lifetime supply of paper, pens, ink cartridges, giant cans of coffee and stress balls (provided by Office Depot). The winner will receive health insurance for his ENTIRE family (provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield), and a steady annual income of $150K per year until death (provided by the network) and 10% of all profits from his or her own work. The winner will also receive a 100% matching 401K and free financial planning (provided by ING). Finally, America’s #1 Writer will have a brand new office outfitted with ergonomically correct chair and desk (provided by IKEA) complete with both a desktop and laptop networked computer (provided by Apple) pimped out with every piece of writing software available. America ’s #1 writer will also receive a t-shirt that says “Hey, America , I’m Your #1 Writer!”

The contestants can be screenwriters, novelists, poets, mystery writers, journalists, whoever calls himself a writer by trade. The sixteen writers will compete in Survivor-style reward and immunity challenges like:

1) Balance as many Jane Austen novels on your head as possible while wearing a corset and walking around a big dining room table—last one standing wins.
2) Write your own life story in 15 minutes with your least dominant hand—whoever has the best penmanship wins.
3) From five racks of clothing, speed to dress like a critically-acclaimed author for a photo shoot. You’re being shot for your book jacket by world-renowned portrait photographer Annie Leibowitz—best book jacket photo wins.
4) With a team, act out the scene from a great American play using mime only—team that guesses the most scenes in allotted time wins.
5) Make your own quills and sell them on the street—whoever sells the most wins.
6) Write a children’s story using only vitamins, safety equipment or dentists as characters and read it aloud—children are the judges, best story wins.
7) Pitch your movie idea to three different studio executives… sort of a writer’s “go-see.” You’ll be transported to each pitch meeting on the back of a Vespa driven by a hot Italian guy or girl—whoever impresses the judges the most wins.
8) Stage a poetry reading titled “Voices of Sorrow, Faces of Poverty: A Consciousness-Raising Event to Benefit the Homeless” in the financial district and promote it however you can– whoever has the most audience members wins.
9) Spelling Bee
10) Start a fire with only two rocks, a stick, a piece of string and a pile of Stephen King books

Notes: The only food provided for the contestants during their time on the show will be Ramen, Slim Jims, rice, Tic Tacs, Saltines and ketchup packets. Limitless cigarettes. Judges are beloved American poet Maya Angelou (regular Oprah guest), hefty humor writer Bruce Vilanch (Celebrity Fit Club) and one of America ’s most famous Academy Award-Winning Screenwriters, Ben Affleck (Project Greenlight)

So cheer up, writers. One of you just may get everything you’ve ever wanted, everything you’ve ever needed and probably more! Just know that this writer has your back, and good luck. We’re all counting on you.

My Next Top Reality: Columns 1-6

16 Jul

For those of you who have requested the links to my Reality TV column, “My Next Top Reality” on Shuffleboil.com, here they are:

My Next Top Reality: The Price of Pain in Hollywood
My Next Top Reality – Weigh to Go
My Next Top Reality – “Hey! I’m Trying to Eat Here!”
My Next Top Reality – America’s #1 Writer
My Next Top Reality – What the hell sort of happiness is this?
My Next Top Reality – “Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares”

Congratulations and General Praise for Awesome Friends

9 Jul

Doing a quick scan and reconnecting with some of my friends, I feel so proud that great things are happening. It’s been sort of an isolating year and a half being a new Mom and trying to get in a groove with various writing projects all the while running a business. It’s just been, well, a lot. I just want to give some love to people. And for anyone that reads this blog, I urge you to check out their work.

Sonya Feher: Not only is she my best sister mama, she’s pulled together an amazing memoir detailing the highs and lows of her pregnancy while dealing with generalized anxiety disorder. She’s pulled together an incredible piece of work– something I desperately wish I had had when I was pregnant. But, of course, I got something even better… the author! Cavanaugh (her son) and Ben are only a month and a day apart. Her book is just like nothing else out there, and it’s really a matter of time before agents start scrambling to rep her.

Scott Von Doviak: Just one of the funniest, smartest all around brilliant guys I know (who now lives in Austin). He wrote Hick Flicks: The Rise and Fall of Redneck Cinema and does regular film reviews, well, all over the place. He is now (brace yourself) reviewing the 100 worst films ever made. Keep strong, brother.

Jana Christy: Amazing, amazing illustrator. Her work is so beautiful, sensitive, true, inspired and smart. The woman should be in the New York Times– every day. Someday I hope to collaborate with Jana on a children’s book. That would be a dream come true. She’s a class act.

John Mitchell: True renaissance man and one of the most savvy, prolific and thoroughly engaging writers I have ever had the pleasure to call my friend. I am forever indebted to John for starting Shuffleboil.com where I was allowed to write silly essays on TV and even write a fiction serial. His tastes in art, music, lit, and every facet of creative life is one for the books. He often serves (whether he knows it or not) as my personal creative guide.

Andrew Osborne: OMG– he just won an Emmy… for CASH CAB! Isn’t it funny how things work out? Andrew has directed movies, written screenplays and fiction, blogs– the man does it all. I’s so happy for him and especially glad that he got to meet Oscar the Grouch at the ceremony!

Ernie Cline: Even though Fanboys is on the back burner for now, our friend Ernie sold his next screenplay recently. It’s called Thundercade. Yeah!! Ernie got to quit his job and just focus on what he does best– being a screenwriter and a new Daddy!

Genevieve Van Cleve: Gen’s been MIA because she is kicking so much ass working on the Diane Maldanado campaign. It’s heavy lifting for the Dems, but Gen’s as strong as they come.

There are so many others that I have to break this up into two or more posts. More later!!

Shuffleboil: The Price of Pain in Hollywood

13 Feb

Check out my latest installment of “My Next Top Reality” on Shuffleboil.com!

Regular Shuffleboil Blogger

8 Jan

shuffleboil.gif 

For those of you who have not checked out Shuffleboil yet, shame on you. I am so very proud of my friend and writing colleague John Mitchell who started this wonderful ezine last year. It is full of some of the most intriguing content I’ve seen in a long time. I’ve learned about graphic novels, wine, film, and even enjoyed a steady dose of humor, music and TV reviews and some great heads up in a lot of new things in the pop culture department. All in all, you should bookmark it, and not just because I’m on staff. Speaking of which, I will now be a regular blogger for Shuffleboil, so check out my latest entry on Michael Moore’s 2007 doc, SiCKO.

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