Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What about the Children?

This is so cool. A bunch of teens in Brattleboro, Vermont started going nude in the heat, and the town didn't care because it wasn't illegal. One person complained. She said, "What about the children seeing this?" It was the children doing this. But that's what they always say, "What about the children?" They'll pretend the sexual abuse doesn't exist in their own homes, but they can't have children seeing normal people interacting normally, albeit nude. So this one person complains, and the town officials start drafting the ban on nudity. The kids staged a nude sit-in. Right on! One young man referred to the "ridiculous war in the Middle East, so why's it a big problem if we chose to get nude?" Why indeed.

In this news article, we're told, "Some youths cheer on their naked friends, and a few adults are so offended that they become nearly hysterical." It's not the kids they're protecting, it's their own fear. Why so afraid of this human body?

Speaking of nudity, I just saw this great documentary called The Same River Twice. In 1978 a group of friends rafted for a month down the Grand Canyon. They were river guides, sun-browned athletes at ease with the rapids and the camping. One of them filmed them, and years later interviewed some of the people for this look at their past and this time 20 years later. I was fascinated by the footage, at how unconsciously free they were. One person reflecting on that time said, "It was a time where you didn't have to think of reasons to take clothes off, but you had to think of reasons to put them on."

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Recently viewed movies

Alas I waited too long to jot down some notes on some of these, not much left to say with my ever more porous memory.


OK, normally I would not see a movie with Uma Thurman and Meryl Streep, buuut I like to see the usually formulaic romantic comedies that have a twist. Uma plays a 37 year old woman who gets involved with a 23 year old man, and Meryl sort of comedically plays her therapist who doesn't tell her right away that Uma's new love is her son. It's not formulaic in that Uma's character lets him go, but of course, we can't have that sort of May-December romance survive. It's well-crafted as movies go, but nothing special. I know, romantic comedies rarely are, but I'm a sucker for love.


War sucks. You knew that. It changes you indelibly. You should know that before you sign up.

Hamilton Mattress

Short animation out of the UK. Fun if you like animation.

Weather Man

People have a tradition of throwing fast food at this weather man when they're unhappy with his forecast. A man whose job is to be unreal tries to be real in his life, and isn't very good at it. Sadly overshadowed by his father, he's still treated like a boy by the supposedly wise author. Interesting to see a movie that dares to make the protagonist a lame person.

Combination Platter

An illegal Chinese immigrant in Flushing NY tries to get a green card. Many of the folks working in the restaurant are illegal. A neat inside look at the culture of a Chinese restaurant employing immigrants who barely speak English, with an endearing protagonist.

A Beautiful Mind

Wow. A beautiful mind indeed. It's difficult, but we need not be trapped by our genetic inheritance.

Inventing the Abbotts

Poor boys meet rich girls, while their parents have a secret from the past.

The Day I Became a Woman

Interesting film, but I fast forwarded through a bit of this, especially the bicycle race. One of those movies that would be great if you're in the right frame of mind. I wasn't, but at least liked the glimpse into the Iranian world of women in black robes and veils.

Being Julia

Older woman finds the giddiness of a younger lover who's using her, but recovers quickly and finds revenge as well as fodder for her own acting. Based on W. Somerset Maugham novel.

The Business of Strangers

Older career woman meets younger wild woman who lives for finding the inner madwoman in others, apparently. I always love Stockard Channing, especially here.


Weirdly compelling indie style movie about a murder in a midwestern town. Local actors filmed in their own homes bring that sad realism to an odd setting.

Books Recently Read

A Fool's Gold: A Story of Ancient Spanish Treasure, Two Pounds of Pot, and the Young Lawyer Almost Left Holding the Bag by Bill Merritt

I almost stopped reading this book because early on I came across this, "Her face was round with double chins.... When you are carrying as much weight as Abby hauled around.... For someone otherwise so careless with her looks, Abby took pride in her hair. She must have gotten a lot of compliments on it when she was younger and men paid more attention to her." I think he meant to say, "When shallow men like me paid more attention to her..." It is no wonder then that as a young lawyer he bumbles through and wonders ''d that happen?" But it read quickly, and he was writing about secret shenanigans at one of my favorite places: Neahkanie Mountain and beach on the Oregon Coast. He thought Abby was a stupid doper, but her trial revealed how smart and funny she was. Written all these years later, it seems possible the author now realizes it, but that would mean a level of sophistication in his writing that isn't really apparent. That said, this book is a pretty remarkable glimpse into the hidden side of the Oregon coast: smugglers and graft and seemingly crazy seekers of treasure. While this is about events over 2 decades ago, it makes me wonder today whether that really is a fishing boat I see when I stay at Neahkanie Beach.

A Caress of Twilight by Laurell K Hamilton

The second book in the author's Merry Gentry series, it fills that need for sexy fairy fantasy. There's a whole sub-genre of scifi-fantasy in which authors use the legends of fairies. Some of them have the creatures sexily dangerous, erotic, exotic and a little scary. This is one of them, and I like to relax with LKH's books. There's a strong BDSM thread going on. Laurell K Hamilton also has a vampire/supernatural detective series with a similar BDSM thread going on called Anita Blake.

A Wizard Alone by Diane Duane

I'm up to this the 6th book in this Wizard series. I discovered these after Harry Potter (as many did) but they have been around longer and are, dare I say, better. Maybe they missed that internet word-of-mouth phenomena. A person would want to start with the first, So You Want to be a Wizard. A boy and a girl meet soon after taking the wizard's oath, and they do the wizardly work of fighting entropy together. Grade B+

King of the Pygmies by Jonathan Scott Fuqua

There are some really complex and profound reads in teen fiction. With so many demands on my time, I also like that they're a quick read. Just as a teen boy is interested in a certain girl, he starts hearing voices that really seem to him to be the thoughts of people around him. The author admits in his afterword he found it fascinating that some people live their whole lives going undiagnosed as mildly schizophrenic. They find their own ways to deal, and this book explores that grey area between so-called normal people and more severe mental illness.

The Divide by Elizabeth Kay

This book caught my eye (and so it was designed to do) because the front cover is divided in the middle, like majestic double doors. The Divide turns out to be the mountainous divide in Costa Rica that separates two water systems. When straddled in a certain moment and in a certain state, magic happens, and a person could end up in another world. In this world science is real and magic is that one, magic is real and science myth.

Theories of Relativity by Barbara Haworth-Attard

Another teen book. (I'm so busy lately, quick reads are good so I can actually finish the book.) A homeless boy rejected by his mother tries to find his way without getting sucked in by the vultures found on the streets. Sometimes I read too much fiction where there's a satisfying resolution. Sometimes there just isn't a good ending or easy answers.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Who has time for quizzes?

I don't usually, but this one is quick and has interesting questions. I'm not sure a Buddhist worldview is included, thus my spiritual-but-not-religious outcome. Hmmm. So I'm a post-modern existentialist hippie. A new millenium flower-child with a practical almost atheist bent, that's what the results say to me. Does that sound like me?

What they said:

You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative
















What is Your World View?
created with

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Thank You Lt. Watada

Tomorrow Lt. Watada will face his pre-trial hearing for refusing to deploy to Iraq.

Friends and family and peace groups are calling for a National Day of Education to pose the question, "Is the war illegal?"

Lt. Watada refused to deploy because he thinks so, and was the first officer to do this.

Explore the link, take action, and share please.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Zine available

For several weeks I've been reviewing things I've written on being Buddhist and polyamorous with the goal of finishing a zine for debut at the Portland Zine Symposium. I included a few essays from here, and wrote some new things based on ideas I've written in emails. For one thing I've realized when people ask how to navigate this thing called polyamory, my responses are specific to their circumstances but on the big issues I'm pretty consistent, and I wanted to gather some of those thoughts into one place. For another, I work well with a deadline, and it seemed to me a good thing to experience the zine symposium and bring my own little offering. Even up until a week ago, I wasn't sure I could do cobble the pieces together and do the writing that was needed. I did it, and managed to edit posts from here and organize my thoughts so I knew what pieces to write to complete the zine in one day, and write those pieces the next day. (I wonder if loyal readers can guess which 4 I used for 3 essays on Buddhism and polyamory.)

When I told Steve's sweetie about my plans, she was full of encouragement. She didn't want credit, but she helped me come up with the title. I told her I was interested in linking it to Samantabhadra, the Bodhisattva of Love. At least I'd heard this phrase, but I hadn't been able to find any corroborating idea in Buddhist thought that Samantabhadra, or Fugen in Japan, is the Bodhisattva of Love. I'd learned he is called the Bodhisattva of Great Activity. She said, "The Great Activity, I like that. That would be a great title." So there it was, I had a great title, but I needed to find out if I could indeed link the Bodhisattva to love. Given all I have learned about love, it makes perfect sense to me. What greater activity is there than love?

A few weeks before, my google searches proved fruitless, but now that I was coming down to the wire, I got lucky and did find something. D.T. Suzuki explains figures found in Zen monasteries in the Manual of Zen Buddhism. He says, "Seeing [Sakyamuni] attended by his two chief disciples, he is a historical figure, but with Monju and Fugen who represent or symbolize wisdom and love, the two ruling attributes of the highest Reality, Sakyamuni is Vairocana standing above the world of transmigrations."

I also learned that in some esoteric Tibetan Buddhist sects, Samantabhadra is depicted naked with Samantabhadri in sexual union. Perhaps someday this will be the subject of my second tattoo. Interesting that my current tattoo, Prajnaparamita, is the Mother of the Buddhas, and Samantabhadri is the Primordial Mother of the Buddhas. Perhaps an artist friend of mine could create an image for me where they are not so skinny as this.

I may have used the word "cobble" but rest assured my zine is arranged well, and dare I say, well-written. Email me if you want me to send you a copy. Please.

Donations for costs welcome, but not required.

The contents:

Understanding the Great Activity
your guesses
Poem: On the Question of God to a Lover
Understanding Polyamory
Negotiating the Many Possibilities
Key Ingredients
That Jealousy Thing
Falling in Love
Tools for Relationships
In the Dictionary
Big Love

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Chant for Peace

I spent 6 hours last Saturday at the 24 Hour Interfaith Chant for Peace.

I drove over an hour to get there, Great Vow Monastery is in Clatskanie, Oregon. Once you're in Clatskanie, the roads leading there include those blue street signs that give you information: Zen Monastery 5 miles. I wonder how many of those there are in the US.

Happily I had two passengers, one a 23 year old flower child, raised by her hitch-hiking mom with a very informal home schooling. She told me when she was around 10 they used a correspondence course because they were in a state that made it illegal not to have some schooling. She agreed wholeheartedly when I suggested that childhood must have made her very adept at negotiating different cultures. She laughed, telling us there were many small towns that they got stuck in. M----- came to Portland last week, hitchhiked here with a woman she met at the Rainbow Gathering. She's staying at the site of a group I've written about, and someone who taught at one of our Buddhist festivals in the park. He's a charismatic man, and I've noticed most of his students are women. He was already at the chant, and I got a feeling something was up (or had been up) when the two entered the meditation hall together much later. Later she found me and she was grinning from ear to ear, or I should say the radiance of her smile extended about three feet beyond her physical body. Did I say he is a charismatic man?

I hugged her and told her she looked so happy. She said "Good call." (about the hug) She was riding back to Portland with him and the other woman from their group, I knew before she told me. Eh. I shouldn't gossip. I'm not trying to though, I thought it was sweet.

My other passenger was a man who was leading a Christian Taize chant in the final hour, at 6 pm.

I should have left Portland a little earlier, because we arrived only just in time for me to get into position for my portion of the chant. There was a chant assistant assigned who helped with setup and who kept time for when we would start walking. Each group would chant or sing for 45 minutes, then continue chanting while we walked on a circuit through the monastery. (Formerly a grade school built in the early 70s.) We seeded the room with percussive instruments so people could liven up our simple chant from the peace marches: "Freedom from violence/ Freedom from suffering/ Compassion! Love! Joy! Peace!" Almost immediately I felt congestion collecting in the back of my throat, too many allergens about, but that didn't stop me. My arm got tired from bonking the fish drum for 45 minutes, but that didn't stop me. It's really quite an experience to chant something continuously for an hour that normally you might sporadically yell out for about 5 minutes at a time. Some of the people there had been there from the beginning, 7 pm the day before. What was a little congestion? If they could do it....

Always with the same beat, sometimes through the hour you felt like punching out the words with a staccato separation, other times drawing them out, running them into each other. Either way, a group synergy takes place when you chant that long, somehow people make those changes together, magically, harmoniously.

For the next two hours, I missed the chanting, the Bahai, and the Dances of Universal Peace. Several people wanted to talk to me. As I told one, I was still doing the work of the chant, nurturing those connections that bring peace to the world. I talked with two of my BPF comrades from Seattle. They sat next to me to help lead the chant. They'd been there since 9 pm the day before, and stayed the night at the monastery again before heading back.

Then, the women's spiritual songs. They sort of sang those as random rounds, some people singing one stanza while others sang another. I'm normally terrible with rounds, but when you sing it over and over and over it doesn't really matter. Finally I settled on the one about a drop of rain flowing to the ocean. (not the exact lyrics, but close) A woman sitting next to me also settled on that, and she would ting her bell on the words .drop.of.rain, a nice touch. When we walked through the echoing halls, we started shouting the line "Great Goddess". Whoa, raised a lot of energy, almost gave myself an asthma attack.

Then back to the main hall for Gregorian chant. It took my heart a little while to settle for the less ebullient energy, but still a strong energy. How appropriate, I thought, to go from the very female ecstatic celebratory singing to this resonant mellow patriarchical singing. We sang the Prayer of St. Francis in Latin. I think I fell in love with it. I found myself wondering, 'did we get ooby dooby doo from "ubi dubium, fidem"?' And how interesting that the word for love is diligere. Except for the Lord and Divine Master part, I found so much of this reflective of natural intentions and discoveries I've found in my own practice. (I almost said 'truths' but settled on 'natural intentions and discoveries'.) "...may I not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned..." Love is indeed diligence.

Finally, the Taize tradition led by my passenger, Adam. A mix of people from different groups accompanied with their instruments, while Adam also played violin. I'm not sure if they prearranged who would play when, or if they simply played when they wished to play, and sang when they wished to sing. After the sweet unity of the Gregorian chant, this was a little more scattered. One of the two chants was in Spanish, "Nada te turbe, nada te espante...."

I had Adam to myself on the way back to Portland, and we talked a little about St. John's. I'd mentioned it on the way to the chant because he'd told us he'd studied the Great Books. I can't remember the school where he studied, but it was a religious school that taught the Great Books with a "theological emphasis" and he wondered if St. John's taught the Great Books with a philosophical emphasis. He had to go outside the program for his math and science credits. At some point in our meandering conversation about spirituality, etc, I came out to him about being polyamorous. Somehow when that thing is the next natural thing to say in a conversation, I just say it, unlike my sweetie and other people who manage to keep it under wraps.

(I wrote this last week, but didn't get a chance to post it. More out of town visitors this week.)