Monday, July 6, 2015

Does Santa Exist? by Eric Kaplan

I'm a big fan of the sitcom Big Bang Theory so when actress and PhD, Mayim Bialik endorsed comedy writer Eric Kaplan's book Does Santa Exist? on the back cover I picked up the book from a Libranian's Choice shelf and began reading. I'm a purveyor of trivia so while I don't agree with many of Eric's assertions I decided to share what I'd learned by posting an excerpt of an excerpt on my fb status as follows: Tantric Buddhist(s) get over dualistic consciousness by drinking menstrual blood and phlegm and mucus out of a skull- "Food and drink should be had as it comes and not be rejected by thinking in terms of what is acceptable and what is prohibited. One should not perform the rituals of bathing and cleansing or avoid vulgar behavior....He should eat all kinds of meat....He enjoys with all kinds of women having a mind free of all trepidation....He must eat the Five Nectars, drink liquor made from molasses, eat the poisonous Neem, and drink placental fluids. He must eat foods which are sour, sweet, bitter, hot, salty, astringent, rotten, fresh and bloody liquids along with semen. By means of the awareness of non-dual knowledge there exists nothing inedible." (Necklace of Jewels of Yoga) Footnote: The Tantric Buddhist leader Osel Tendzin had unprotected sex after he knew he had contracted HIV, spreading the disease to male and female followers. *Butler, Katy. "Encountering the Shadow in Buddhist America." Common Boundary Magazine (May/June 1990).

To which my brother in law commented "Love you kid but that's really hard to like and I know you were brought up better. Try to be more positive people love you." I realize the subject matter is not fit for dinner conversation but didn't expect my upbringing to be brought into the discussion and found it overwhelming since shimmering images remain of him telling my older sister (referring to our mother) "She's no platoon sergeant." anytime my older sister complained about her three younger siblings' lack of discipline. Other times he said my family is "inbred". She responded with laughter. I couldn't discern whether she was greeting his statement with nervous laughter or considered herself apart and laughed in derision of her own family; but she certainly did not defend, her younger siblings, (of which I am the eldest) or her heritage. Upon returning home from summer, vacation posed the question to my mother, "If this is the way he feels, why did he marry her? She's part of our family." Mom said, "He shouldn't be saying anything about our family since his own if far from perfect." When I prompted her for a specific example, she said, "His father killed himself."

Had I known the author who pro ports to "neither believe nor disbelieve in Santa/Christ" would treat those who keep the spirit of Christmas and or Santa Claus alive, with more disdain than humor- this gift giver and receiver, would not have picked it up. I am a blogger who watches Christmas specials in July and believes in the free expression of Christmas cheer. I expected a fun romp, perhaps a diagram of the reasons why, (even if they do exist) flying caribou along with Santa and his sleigh would com bust due to atmospheric pressures etc. Unless it comes after page 128, there was none of that. The reading did facilitate me sharing something about myself to my mother, "I have Sheldon Syndrome, and can't just stop reading a book I'm nearly halfway through, regardless of whether or not I am enjoying it." Then proceeded to read a passage to her. Upon completion, she said, "I give you permission to stop reading." Another thing the book has done is inspire me to write. Given, Does Santa Exist? passes for "The funniest book of philosophy since... well, ever." according to Matt Groening, I feel my stylus can do no wrong.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Dreamlog Star Date 68353.9

For the umpteenth time, last night, my internet crashed. Giving up I put in a book on CD, John Grisham's The Rainmaker. The computer monitor went to sleep. Even though my eyes were closed, the absence of light, brought me out of near sleep. The tick tock of the clock served as a form of psychic torture, I wanted to tear if off the wall. After trying and failing to coax myself to sleep, I get up and put in the next CD.

Ah, the narrator's voice is peaceful, images of Matt Damon danced through my head. Drifting off to sleep, I thought-my writing has become darker than usual. I must have a lot of pent up anger trying to express itself. When my electric rooster sounded off for the third time this morning I roused and unlike most mornings, remembered my dream.

As well as I can put it together chronologically the story begins with me leaving my apartment. There's a group caroling outside which seems strange in the daylight. When I open the door, to leave, their ring leader tries to hand me some literature and or shake my hand. "I'm a Christian." I said. He doesn't like my tone. To be honest I'm feeling inundated with evangelists and just want to get on with my day.

"You don't sound like a Christian." He said, then pushed me back inside. I fall back against the door, but as I look up notice two men sitting in a car along the curb. The driver gets out and comes to my aid. He tells the evangelist that we're married. In truth he's a virtual stranger, but I play along.

The pushy evangelist takes out a table knife and expresses his disbelief by drawing a line across the man's bald head from one temple to the other. When he reaches the man's right temple blood appears. I'm terrified, but rather than, scream, like woman do in movies; I apply my "I'm an alien from another planet" skills and think- huh, I didn't know you could draw blood with a table knife.

While the evangelist with a taste for blood is dispensing "justice" he believes this man and I are living together, in sin; I run out to the man's car, briefly relay what's happened to my rescuer's passenger and start the car. We don't stop until we come to a rest area. While the young man uses the facilities I wait in what has now transformed into a van, the way things magically transform in dreams.

A vehicle full of the evangelist's minions pulls into the rest area. The van won't start so I put it in neutral and coast backwards. Now I can see my passenger, his head poking out of what looks like a foxhole. I open the sliding van door, signaling him, it's now or never. He doesn't move. I shut the door and try again to start the van. The engine sputters then ignites. The van is off, my assailants recede, no longer visible in the rear view mirror.

The scene changes. Having relocated, all is well until I start to enter a strip mall. Their security guard is no other than the evangelist. He questions me, as I walk away. Spotting a couple ahead of me, I clasp the man's hand and ask him to pretend to be my husband. Looking over my shoulder I whisper, "Someone is following me."

His female companion goes to their car and we proceed to mine. The man is bludgeoned and falls to the ground. I use random strangers as a human shield, by pushing them in the evangelist turned security guard's path. While dashing to my car I turn and see a trail of shoppers behind me. They look like fallen dominoes.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Consumers vs Constituents

Did you remember to go to the polls on November 4th? If your confidence in the political process is waning, vote with your dollars. Your purchases drive future investment and production choices. Shopping online is like voting using an absentee ballet. You can do both from home in your underwear.

According to the latest Zions Bank Consumer Attitude Index, which surveys 500 Utahns, optimism concerning business conditions in Utah and residents' feelings about the value of their homes has increased. Sadly, disparaging consumer reports, the number of shoppers trampled on Black Friday and boycotts get more media attention than positive shopping experiences.

Make no mistake, consumers are voting for “winners” and “losers” with their purchases. Products that do not sell as well as expected receive fewer resources. I'm going to share with you a few places I support with my dollars and why. Your choices may differ from mine, but every purchase counts, so go out there and shop your conscience.

Trader Joe's is a grocery store with amazing food and drink from around the globe and around the corner. TJ’s treats its customers like rock stars. Every time I'm there, I have a WOW experience. Staffers wear comfortable clothes and are full of product knowledge and shopping suggestions for any and everything in the store. A second Utah location in Cottonwood Heights is scheduled to open sometime in the first half of 2015, at 6989 S 1300 E, the site of a former Fresh Market grocery store.

Eat to give at Even Stevens in downtown Salt Lake City, 200 S 414 E. For every sandwich sold in their restaurant, a nutritious sandwich is donated to a local non-profit. Every sandwich, every day, no baloney! Food is more than just the means to end hunger; it's an opportunity to build a strong and healthy community. All donated sandwiches are made with sprouted wheat bread, high quality deli meat and natural cheddar cheese. For more information visit

IconoClad offers exciting new clothing, local art, d├ęcor and crafts. Bring your lightly worn clothes to 300 S 414 E and you keep 50%! Anything that doesn't sell will be donated. When you buy any pair of Sesame brand earrings you can take an item from the free bucket, where there's something for everyone. View Seeds of the Sesame's full selection at

Happy shopping!

Monday, October 27, 2014


By Christine Ireland

Have you ever wondered what a strange, odd or just plain silly dream meant? I’ve had a few weird recurring dreams. Some I can only recall random pieces of, others flow through my brain like a mental movie (complete with rolling credits!) I woke up feeling both exhilarated and sexually frustrated after having phone sex with Wonder Woman. The face of a rotary dial phone literally appeared on my genitals. She lovingly put her finger in each number’s designated hole and slowly turned.

Perhaps your dreams have been boring lately. If so, choose to expose yourself to new experiences throughout the day. Dreaming allows our subconscious to process the day’s events. I work in a call center and watch superhero movies. New stimuli will make your dreams become exciting once again. Regurgitating one’s subconscious on paper may seem tedious or even ridiculous, but many a midsummer night’s dream or winter’s tale have given birth to narration. An alternative to writing your dreams is to keep a tape recorder near your bed or under your pillow so that you can verbally recount what happened in your dream.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote Kubla Khan immediately on waking from a dream. This poem is considered one of the most famous examples of Romanticism in English poetry. A copy of its manuscript is a permanent exhibit at the British Museum in London. Dreams can inspire spectacular writing. Frankenstine, was born in nineteen year old Mary Shelley's nightmare. Universally known and read this struggle between a monster and its creator has been an enduring part of popular culture. Her work has inspired some spoofs, such as Young Frankenstein starring Gene Wilder. Shelley's monster lives on in such modern thrillers as I, Frankenstein (2013).

Whether writing for pleasure or profit, your dream log could be a gateway to published imagination. Dreams can be recorded in a paper diary (as text, drawings, paintings, etc.) or via an audio recording device (as narrative, music or imitations of auditory experiences from the dream). Many websites offer the ability to create a digital dream diary. The very act of recording a dream can have the effect of improving future dream recall. Keeping a dream diary conditions a person to view remembering dreams as important. Keep it daily to preserve details, many of which are otherwise rapidly forgotten no matter how memorable the dream originally seemed.

Oscar Wilde said, “They’ve promised that dreams can come true, but forgot to mention that nightmares are dreams too.” Even those dreams that wake us up with our heart pounding and beads of sweat on our forehead can be used as a tool. Record or write down a description of a nightmare, then change that description in any way preferred, or describe a totally new desirable dream. Stephen King is driven to tell stories as a way of allaying his many fears. He has addressed several over the years, including clowns, in It. In an interview with UK reporter Stan Nicholls, King said: “Like the ideas for some of my other novels, that [the inspiration for Misery] came to me in a dream.”

Sunday, August 17, 2014

R.I.P. Robin Williams

I was very excited about being promoted to the second grade, because during mixed group my first grade class joined the second grade. Their teacher had long flowing red hair and emitted a positive vibe. Instead of returning to my elementary school in Edison, Ohio the powers that be had me bused farther away, to an elementary school in the village of Mount Gilead.

There I met, one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Parks. She called me over for a one on one math quiz. I sat across from her and put my hands under the table. When she realized I was counting on my fingers she said,"You don't have to hide your hands, you're allowed to use your fingers." I breathed a sigh of relief.

One of my classmates, JD Junk, frequently imitated Robin Williams' character from the popular TV series Mork & Mindy. JD would seemingly absorb milk through his finger and used the word, ShazBot, as an expletive. When called on, he gave us a fun diversion from the topic at hand. His signature move was to point at the lighting above our heads and say, "Na-Nu Na-Nu" (pronounced "nah-noo nah-noo"). At which point we waited for something magical to happen. This reminded me of watching Bullwinkle Moose try to pull a rabbit out of his hat. But even Mrs. Parks went flush when, no sooner were the words Na-Nu Na-Nu out of his mouth, the lights went out. Coincidence is a funny thing. Mrs. Parks resolved the current must have been interrupted, but for that brief instant, JD had ignited the willful suspension of disbelief.

Pam Dawber told ET NOW (4/10/2014) "That show made people really happy. It was a happy time of their lives, they loved it." This was certainly true for me. My dad was a fan of Jonathan Winters who played Mork & Mindy's child Mearth. He sometimes watched the show with me. I remember telling him, "I want to marry Robin Williams." When he asked, "Why?" I said, "Because he makes me laugh."

President Barack Obama: "Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien -- but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit," Obama said in an official statement Monday evening. "He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most -- from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets. The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin's family, his friends, and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


A DiverseCity Writing group becomes a family, a writing coach a trusted friend, a workshop a safe haven.-Faye Fischer Writing Assistant & DiverseCity Writing Series Coordinator

I don't recall how I heard about the Salt Lake Community College Community Writing Center but remember being present as copies of the first sine cera anthology People Are Strange were being pulled out of boxes in preparation for an upcoming reading. I became a card carrying member in 2003. A laminated, rectangular piece of green construction paper with my card number written in black marker on one side and the words- I Write Stuff on the other has been in my possession ever since. It serves as a constant reminder that everybody can write and encourages me to don the descriptor with pride.

In addition to using open space available for writing and computer access the Community Writing Center provides opportunities to enhance writing ability through writing workshops. I registered for a writing workshop taught by Professor Melissa Helquist. I very much enjoyed meeting her brother Brett Helquist, illustrator of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Author of sixty-two books on Goodreads with 756982 ratings, Lemony Snicket's most popular book is The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #1). Brett diagrammed his process and when asked why he chose to share his experience and knowledge with our small group expressed sincere belief in Zig Ziglar's philosophy- YOU CAN ONLY GET WHAT YOU WANT, IF YOU HELP ENOUGH OTHER PEOPLE GET WHAT THEY WANT. Though not an illustrator myself, I can scarcely trace, a sense of community was palpable. It felt good to know there are artisans who believe in giving back.

In 2006 I was elected Chapter President of the Oquirrh Writer's group, as such responsible for planning monthly meetings. Writing Center Program manager, Jeremy Remy, agreed to give a presentation on Horror during our October meeting. He used visual aids including short film clips to demonstrate the diverse sub-genres of Horror fiction. These and more examples of volunteerism fueled my own desire to help others who longed to be heard, but were limited by ability or educational background. This spurred me to attend a volunteer training and orientation. Writing coaches provide one on one collaborative assistance, offering helpful feedback in a supportive environment. Everybody can write for practical needs, civic engagement and personal expression. Types of writing include letters, resumes, essays, and short stories.

In 2011 I took a bite out of procrastination by challenging myself to write 50,000 words in thirty days. The Community Writing Center partnered with and hosted NaNoWriMo workshops to celebrate November as national novel writing month. I used Woody Allen's quote, "Eighty percent of success is showing up." to prod myself when my inner critic set up mental roadblocks in an effort to discourage me from attending workshops. Meeting other frantic novelists and facilitators, also participating in NaNoWriMo, provided support through the highs and lows this kind of insanity condones. We explored inventive ideas and made a commitment to set aside time each day for writing. A white board, graphed each writers progress- number of words produced. My inner critic wanted to beat me up for failing to reach my goal. I exercised him by creating his likeness on paper, surrounded by bubbles filled with negative feedback. Chuck, as I like to call him, didn't give up! He started criticizing my illustration. Now he was out of my head. I tore up the paper and threw my inner critic away. During our final meeting we reviewed lessons learned, prompted each other with future goals and celebrated our successes.

I am a long time participant in the DiverseCity Writing Series and co-mentor the Gay Writes group with Toastmaster extraordinaire Doug Woodall. This month the writing center celebrated sweet success with a dessert party in our honor. Volunteers were thanked for being a driving force to all the center's achievements. John Wilkes has been participating since the center opened in 2002. His is a true success story, but I'll let him tell it.

Friday, September 14, 2012


In fifth grade I joined the volleyball team. I distinctly remember changing into shorts and a jersey with my teammate, BJ. We had ducked into a hall restroom. When she saw me with my top off, she said, "You need a bra."

"You really think so?"

"Yeah, look at me." she said, drawing attention to her chest with her hands. Though flat, she looked very young lady like in her training bra.

I started wearing lose fitting tops in an effort to hide my new found young womanhood. More than anything I wanted to blend, the thought of standing out for good or ill terrified me.

One of my favorite Friends episodes shows Phoebe and Joey at Central Perk. She's sharing her concern that there must be something wrong with her because the guy she's dating hasn't made a move. Joey tells her one of the first things he commented to his friends about her was that she has a cute butt and great rack.

"Really?" she asked, then added, "I'm officially offended, but thanks." This dichotomy is typical of the female experience. As women we want to be judged on our merits without the cloud our perceived beauty or plainness puts before the lens. Notwithstanding, it's always nice to be noticed and appreciated. So we're constantly warring within about what to wear or how to present ourselves.

I realized this once again while donating blood plasma at CSL Plasma in Salt Lake City. I asked the phlebotomist, "Is she OK?" referring to a gal with five techs hovering. She confirmed my guess.

"It doesn't take five people to stick one donor, they're ogling her breasts." Despite my efforts to conceal myself and prevent flopping or flapping, jealousy toward a complete stranger with five onlookers at her side welled up in me 'til the voice inside my head shouted, if she gets five, my breasts are worthy of - at least three!