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The Irony of Stand – Up Comedy

May 9th, 2014 by Michael Tabor

Did you know that 99.9 % of comedians cannot stand (no pun) hearing themselves and worst yet, seeing themselves perform? Initially, I comicwas shocked, but now I can totally understand the psychology of it all and how sensible it is. What kind of crazed narcissist would you have to be to like laughing at your own jokes?
We’re social animals, and the reality is that a stand – up comic needs an audience and some sort of positive feedback in order to really get the joy out of telling jokes. I’m pretty sure that any type of performance artist (actors, talk – show hosts, dancers, musicians … etc) for that matter, doesn’t like to see themselves on tape or whatever. My theory is that, the looser the format so to speak, the less inclined you’re likely to enjoy watching yourself. I suppose if you’re a classical pianist and you nail down Chopin note for note, I guess you can watch yourself and derive some sort of pleasure.
But, anyway, just to stick to comedians here in this blog, is it any wonder that comics are perhaps the saddest and most serious folks on the planet ??? I was informed of this when I was a kid and I used to think it was monumentally ironic, but is it ? Professional comedians ponder the absurd and write about it (the grim existentialist, Albert Camus, spent his entire career ruminating thoroughly and deeply on the absurdity of the human condition).

The oxymoronic “comedy is a serious business” prodigiously resonated with the late great George Carlin who wrote everything down and when he did his act (about an hour long or so) would not change a single word – I repeat, not a word !!! George used to say, once it’s in, it stays.
So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? I’m not a particularly funny person myself, but I’m a HUGE fan of comics and comedy.

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Meditation is Not Just Some New Age Thing

May 8th, 2014 by Michael Tabor

Mindfulness, TM (Transcendental Meditation), Movement meditation like Tai – Chi (I have been practicing Tai – Chi for 3 decades), breath – counting … just to mention a few types (hey it’s essentially the same stuff, I’ll elaborate in just a sec…)of meditation practices that are proven methods for peace of mind and good health.

Most people, especially westerners are prodigiously skeptical of , to which the title alludes, this new age thing called – meditation. But, listen up, the facts are the facts: doctors from this country (U.S.) and rigorous clinical studies have clearly shown that meditation of any kind:

· Normalizes blood pressure (not just lowers, in other words)
· Reduces risk of heart attack and stroke
· Minimizes stress
· Cures insomnia (actually, I don’t mean cure here, but it definitely helps. I’ve suffered from insomnia my whole life and I can honestly attest that I’d be a sleepless zombie if it not were for my meditation practices)
· Reduces anxiety and depression
· And leaves you with a sort of sense of calm throughout the day (calm for me anyway, lol). I am and always have been a “Nervous Nellie”meditation2 . I wish this were not the case, but hyperactivity and nervousness is just part of my temperament and genetic make – up. Before I discovered Tai – Chi and meditation in 1983 I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown – I kid you not.

In a nutshell, meditation (any form) is simply the arduous painstakingly practice of paying attention to the most boring and uninteresting thing a human being can possibly imagine e.g. following and counting your breath – inhale … exhale … inhale … exhale. What this practice does, is simple 1. Train you to be in the moment 2. Improve your concentration and put a halt to extraneous distractions other than the task at hand (counting your breaths for example. Oh, incidentally it’s impossible for your mind not to wander about to other matters, but that is all part of the meditation practice… intrusive thoughts pop into your mind, & now your job is to gently bring your attention back to breath – counting) and 3. Permit you to become the “viewer”, “watcher”, “third person” who uncritically and without judgment allows one’s body to do what it wants to. THAT’S IT !!! There is nothing mystical about it. You don’t have to convert to Buddhism and you certainly don’t need a mantra (as TM suggests).

So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? I know David Lynch (the surrealist Film director) has been proselytizing about TM over the past couple of years. I’m telling you, once you fully grasp and understand it, it truly becomes a part of your everyday life and you quickly realize that it’s something without which you simply cannot live. YEP, it changes your life forever !!! Check out this YouTube clip of Howard Stern (everyone knows I personally hate Stern, but here he is amazingly articulate, passionate…) and Jerry Seinfeld drinking coffee and having a discussion about a simple but profound practice that has been around formeditation1 at least 6000 years.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPLn1ZgGxos

 

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Self – Help Books Don’t Help At All

April 28th, 2014 by Michael Tabor

When I was in my early twenties, I used to read a lot of glib and facile nonsense authored by people like Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Dr.selfhelp1selfhelp2 Wayne Dyer … you know what I’m talking about : “How to become a millionaire in 90 days” type of rubbish (One of my favorite titles is ‘Think and Grow Rich’ – just have a clear image of success in your mind & the $$$ will just start rolling in).

Today there is a whole herd of these self – proclaimed motivational gurus with their rags to riches success stories (Tony Robbins, Eckhart Tolle, Richard Carlson … the list is endless) who are just eagerly awaiting you to open up your pocket book and make themselves, not you, rich – how sad. Everyone with an ounce of common sense knows that life is just not that easy. A medical Doctor doesn’t make a dime until he or she is nearly 30 years old; and prior to which they’re eating macaroni and cheese and studying their butt off every waking moment.
I think the reason many people are turning to these so – called messiahs of success in record numbers is because the economy is so god – awful and we’re desperate. What I find most troublesome about the gurus is that they are giving people false hope and preying upon our society’s (especially generation millenial’s) unquenchable thirst for instant gratification. The reality is that very often, even if you have the most incredible work ethic, you still might end up poor and miserable. Lady Luck and coming from an affluent family (the lucky sperm club) is 99% of the game.
So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? I hate to be cynical, and certainly I’m not suggesting that it’s impossible for an individual to come from an impoverished family and end up wealthy and successful, but the odds are stacked up against you. As George Carlin used to say (I’m paraphrasing here) “The American dream is an illusion and the reason they refer to it as a dream, is that you have to be asleep to believe in it.”

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Another Social Network – UGHHH !!!

April 17th, 2014 by Michael Tabor

As I write this, reedit appears to be the hottest and fastest growing social networking site to date. So let’s see what we now socmed2socmed3socmed4socmed1have: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram … too many to count. For my money, LinkedIn is by far the best in terms of utility, quality, and content and unlike the other networks; LinkedIn is necessary for business professionals regardless of what industry one works in. This reedit is just another social networking site in which members can write & tell tales and stories and the world gets to comment or vote on whether it’s cool or not. More gossip, oh boy – just what we need.
Is this it ??? Our children have not yet found a cure for a single virus, not even the common cold (forget about cancer). Yes, of course, I’m certainly aware of the fact that this is no small task but… this “generation millennial” seems entirely consumed with “selfies” and societal image and popularity and seemingly have managed to conjure, build, and create every conceivable social networking spot under the sun. Where are our priorities???

These kids e.g. Zuckerberg, Weiner, Ohanian know code and algorithms & are so unfathomably brilliant but their focus is all in 0’s & 1’s i.e. digital. Yes, technology and computers are essential (Hey, bioinformatics) but how many social networks do we need? The young people are standing on the shoulders of giants – so do something! And okay, to be fair biotechnology is hotter than ever and indeed we have made tremendous progress in terms of understanding our biology, the human genome, disease, and essentially who we, homo sapiens are. However, it’s not enough!!! My goodness, not only do we not understand consciousness in the most general and facile way, we have not even scratched the surface of what it is to be conscious but we can instantaneously & in real time send pictures and tell lame stories about one’s boring, non – eventful day.
So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? Young geniuses, use your monster brains to cure disease and perhaps prolong a better quality of life instead of wasting it all on how popular you could be! The possibility of extending our lives beyond our wildest dreams may someday not be science fiction.

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Hidden Talents

April 10th, 2014 by Magdalena Tabor

All right. I’m pretty much going to let the attached video speak for itself. Let me just say this….WOW!hidden talent
This took place in…..where else…..the magical land of Ireland. Seems the fairies have been at it again causing this to go viral.
The usual wedding scene. And then shock waves…..
I love the sly smile. The way he transitions from ordinary clergyman into ROCK STAR and back to clergyman. Just goes to show…..never under estimate a man in a robe. Whatever our station in life, if you’ve a talent, for God’s sake, use it.
Watch Rev. Ray Kelly’s surprise gift to the stunned couple. I think he bears a slight resemblance to Eric Clapton, don’t you? Or has Eric had another side gig all this time?
Click on or cut and paste the link and enjoy!

 

 

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Happy Saint Yodelers Day

March 15th, 2014 by Magdalena Tabor

Frankly, I’m jealous. Why do the Irish get to have Saint Patrick’s Day, while I, of Austrian descent have no day to commemorate my heritage? austrian yodelerWhy, think of the possibilities.
Cute little yodelers dressed in fetching alpine outfits marching down Fifth Avenue with their accordions. A float depicting famous classical composers. Couples waltzing dreamily to Strauss. Einstein dancing in lederhosen while reciting the theory of relativity. Julie Andrews floating down with her umbrella. Ooops, wrong movie.
And then, after a long day of singing “the hills are alive” we can all sit down to a hearty dish of schnitzel and noodles with a generous helping of Mom’s delectable apple strudel. Beats corned beef and cabbage with soda bread.
Don’t you think a pretty girl dressed in her dirndl with each of her ten fingers hooked around the handle of frothy dripping beer steins is a whole lot more appealing than…..green beer??? Or….a leprechaun??? Which of the two characters produces the better gold?
Oh sure, I can always lay claim to my American status, but honestly….couldn’t they have dreamed up a handsomer figure of Uncle Sam? He’s as gaunt and gangly as Saint Nicholas on my Austrian side. In fact, I’d say they could very well be one and the same, posing as an interchangeable icon clothed in different costumes. Hmmm…….interesting observation. Where are Uncle Sam’s switches with which to thrash the naughty politicians? Or have the Irish fairies spirited them away? Always getting into the act.

So……whadayathink? As long as we’re contemplating shining a spotlight on other cultures, what about yours? Why don’t we have one big Melting Pot Day so we can be politically correct? We can fondue our favorite politicians, uh, foods.

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“What A Drag It is Getting Old”

March 10th, 2014 by Michael Tabor

Oops, I’m slower, older, and certainly not as quick – witted, hence, I actually got the song title wrong, it’s actually “Mother’s mid - lifemid-life2Little Helper” by the Rolling Stones. What’s so weird is that the “helper” is valium i.e. it is among the benzodiazepine family such as Klonopine, Librium, Xanax, etc. which doesn’t give you a boost at all, it just makes you tired and want to sleep for eternity – lol.

I’m blogging about this now because though I’m not ‘90’ (I’m 50 – btw, unlike ‘40’ there is nothing redeeming about turning ‘50’ – it s**ks !!!) Right now my my back is killing me, I’m tired, and I looked at the mirror just now and it looks like I’ve been hit by a truck.

Oh well, I now know that none of my grandiose dreams of writing the next great novel, or doing anything remotely important (Is anything really important when you look at the big picture and observe the cosmos ???) are over & that’s that !!! I know this is a snarky remark, but 99.9% of the people living right now will be dead and gone forever before we reach the next century. The good news is that I am not afraid of the inevitable end and I’ve realized that the only, truly important thing is to really appreciate EVERY single day right NOW !!! Being in the near – twilight of my life I’ve also learned to appreciate and love my loved ones (and cats) more than ever.
So Whadayathink ? What do you think ? I don’t want this to be a depressing blog, because, quite frankly, I’m not sure I’ve ever been happier in my life (who wants to live forever – uggghh!!!)

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Man Versus Machine

March 8th, 2014 by Michael Tabor

This argument has been around and has been the stuff of Science Fiction for as long as I’ve beenmanmachine alive and obviously for a much longer period of time than that. The truth of the matter is that until we begin to understand consciousness we have absolutely nothing to worry about in terms of machines getting so smart that they turn on us; at least in a literal way. Yes Watson, the trivia machine, beat the hell out of the smartest Jeopardy players on the planet, but Watson is not alive – has no consciousness. Watson doesn’t even know it’s a machine nor does Watson even know that it exists; Watson never even knew that it played a game of ‘Jeopardy’ against human beings.

I’ve just begun reading an incredibly compelling book called ‘The Second Machine Age’. It, as the title suggests, is about two things: 1. The industrial revolution which essentially ushered in mechanical engineering, chemistry, metallurgy, etc. but most importantly James Watt’s steam engine which we now know, looking back resulted in the biggest and fastest sustained jump in human progress and development.  It allowed us to overcome the limitations of raw human and animal muscle power and we saw the population literally double in just 100 years. Can you imagine that? So from say 6000 BCE when civilization started flourishing to 1760 (approximately 7,760 years), the population was 110 million. 100 years later in 1860 it was more than 220 million.

Now with the second machine age, 2014,  the world’s population is at an astonishing 7 Billion people. Computers and the digital age; EVERYTHING is digitized !!! So WhaDaYaThink ? Will a machine ever be cognizant of itself ? Will man versus machine ever become a reality ???

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What’s Inside An Edwardian Purse?

February 21st, 2014 by Magdalena Tabor

Recently, I came across a vintage Edwardian leather purse with lovely hand tooled art nouveau detailing; its well worn handle laced with whip stitching, and a sweet edwardian woman with pursesilver clasp to shut tight the secrets it once held for someone I envision as fashionable as she was intelligent. Its condition implied that it was either a favorite of many or a one and only prized possession. Anything old always inspires vivid imaginings in my on-line travels.
But first, let me define “Edwardian”. This is the era encompassing the reign of King Edward VII from 1901 to 1910 after the death of Queen Victoria transferring the succession to her son. In juxtaposition to his somewhat reclusive mother, Edward publicly embraced art and fashion along with political inclinations toward the betterment of the working class, particularly for women.
In 1903 the U.S. founded the National Trade Union League to improve the wages and working conditions for women. While in 1905 the U.K. led the formation of the Women’s Social and Political Union for the right to vote, although the fight began much much earlier than this.
So, with this in mind, it’s interesting to note what was going on at the time this particular purse came into fashion and into the hands of a certain owner in uncertain but hopeful circumstances. Again, antiques inspire thoughtful musings about who owned it when, and what may have transpired at the time of its inception. It’s always a lesson in history that never fails to fascinate.
Who was the lucky lady to carry this lovely article on her arm and what did it contain? Was she an intellectual, a suffragette with a strong sense of fashion and appreciation for beautiful things? The following is a list of things I imagine may have been hidden within the compartment of this handbag:
1) Currency. Either British pounds or American dollars. Perhaps both, if she was so privileged and worldly. How much would depend on her financial well being after spending a tidy sum on the bag. Or was it a gift from a well-to-do husband to his adoring but headstrong wife?
2) A handkerchief. No lady at the time would be caught sniffling in public without one. It was probably a starched white version (laundered by the housemaid) and embroidered with a scripted monochromatic initial of its mistress’s intriguingly elusive name and scented with her signature Parisian parfum.
3) A house key. In those days there was only one key needed with which to enter one’s castle and perhaps a second to the gated estate.
4) A love note. The lady may have hidden this indiscretion at the very bottom and rummaged nervously for its instructions leading to the Venetian gondola unbeknownst to her devoted but insufferably boring husband.
5) A timepiece. Essential in getting back to the estate unnoticed before the wee hours of the morning, birds twittering in the rosy light of dawn.
6) A cigarette. A hand rolled number indulged in the privacy of her room with the window ajar and a profusion of flowers from the greenhouse to rid the smell.
6) And finally, a political rally flyer. Slipped into her hand by the rebel rouser with whom she unwisely kept company culminating in the ruination of her marriage and reputation.
End result, an empty but still very beautiful handbag generating looks of admiration and envy….Alas! Where’s that starched white hanky? And the address to the factory with improved working conditions?

So………whadayathink? What arouses your passions? Do old things muster wild imaginings to rid you of the winter doldrums? Or are these fantasies a direct result of too many Downton Abbey re-runs?

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Why Joe Rogan is Better Than Howard Stern

January 9th, 2014 by Michael Tabor

Many people have compared perhaps the latest recent media sensation in Joe Rogan to Howard Stern. I was a regular Howard Stern fan back in the 1980’s and now that it’s 2014 and I’m 50 years old, I’ve now moved on (Listen, I’m really an NPR, WNYC geek, but I still like Rock ‘n roll, sort of down – to – earth radio or pod casts, so ….) I suppose the comparison is made because they curse, stand for the common person, and are both in tune to the world of comedy and relief in this unfair and hard world.

Well for starters, much to my dismay, Howard Stern has blatantly revealed to all that he’s a fake/phony/fraud!!! Howard stern came from a world of privilege and wasjoerogan raised by caring, loving, and educated parents. That non-sense about having to “tough” it out in Roosevelt, on Long island is a joke – please !!! I live on Long Island, I’m familiar with Roosevelt and though yes, there are minorities I doubt he had any more problems than your average High School kid. Joe Rogan on the other hand came from the school of real hard knocks – being raised only by his mom while dad took off (BTW, Joe has not been in contact with his biological dad since he was 6 years old) in Newark, NJ.

Howard Stern’s father owned a radio studio, sent his son (Howie) to Boston University, and the spoiled, rotten, rich kid – Daddy got him a gig on radio and the rest is history. Joe Rogan came from absolutely zero, never went to college (though he’s incredibly brilliant less the grammar – lol) and studied martial arts and stand – up comedy (BTW, Stern doesn’t even know how to do stand – up – WTF???). Joe is now the regular color commentator for every major UFC event (at which he’s absolutely stellar), has his own Podcast, and still does stand – up.

Joe Rogan doesn’t have guests who are strippers or porno stars but rather – scientists, psychiatrists, some hippie – potheads – lol (but they’re smart), and any other person who has something interesting to say (not just celebrities).
This is just part 1, but I just want to get your initial thoughts. WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ?

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