sharing things I like…

the title of my blog

…comes from the Yasujirō Ozu movie, “Walk Cheerfully.” Watching any Ozu movie is a joy: simple, family oriented, real.  My thoughts on Ozu can be found here:  https://walkcheerfullyblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/03/vii-directors-i-like/

jbm 1/1/2017

smelling the coffee
(an observation)

There is a certain segment of every society/civilization that believes they are not beholden to the same rules and regulations as the rest. They perceive themselves to be aristocrats or royalty, blue-bloods who are intrinsically better and should not be held down or back from fulfilling their destiny. (Never mind about other people’s destinies, which are less desirable and certainly short sided). Better that they prosper so that they can lead the masses out of the squalor of hopelessness and poverty!

The biggest deterrent to their plans is that the masses don’t always play nicely. They must be cajoled, fooled, tricked, bought-off. Their desire for a better life for their children must be somehow dimmed, distracted or replaced. If people are made desperate enough – if they don’t earn enough or are so deep in debt that they will never own a home and can barely make their payments for the staples of life – they won’t have the stamina and will to question why a few have so much and why a few don’t abide by the same rules as they do. They will not have the energy to question the supposed supremacy of capitalism or their doubts about socialism.

Wake up people and smell the coffee (as they used to say)! We have given our liberties away for a false belief that government knows best and that companies won’t sell out their workers because they need them too much. I’m afraid they don’t need us nearly as much as we need them. They have guarantees, we have none. We’ve done this to ourselves folks, by letting business have its way in everything in hopes of a payout some day. But the payouts go to the share-holders and we are not them: not in business and not in government.

(There, that feels better!)

jbm 6/2017

george orwell, a kindred spirit

I was without a doubt what is commonly referred to as a “nerd” in high school. I spent my lunch hours in the library and woe be it to me if it was arbitrarily closed and I had to wander the halls of my rural Michigan school dodging the bullies, cliques, and budding sadists and sociopaths who were “looking for a little fun” which I might provide them. (I had to keep moving to prevent getting cornered). Thus, spending time in the library was actually a healthy choice for me, mentally and bodily. And it was in the library that I discovered the likes of George Orwell. I remember really enjoying his short novel, “Keep the Aspidistra Flying.” I haven’t read it for many years, but I distinctly recall being impressed by his descriptions of the beginnings of commercialization/propaganda and its effect upon the mind of the hapless consumer. I thought, wow he really nailed it:  don’t people realize that most of the things they think they want are products they have been told (in various ways by various methods) they need?  Although he was British and long dead, he was a kindred spirit (when you are a loner – forced or otherwise – you are grateful when you come across a kindred spirit).  He was attempting to find the truth (ugly though it may sometimes be) and express it, not unlike his character Winston Smith in his novel “1984.” (By the way, I love that “1984” is suddenly popular again. I hope its renewed reading will prompt readers to ask questions, seek answers and apply them to the present.)

jbm 3/25/2017

about my favorite quotes: 

I underline in my books (never in a library book).  Yeah, outrageous I know, but I figure if the book is worth underlining it is worth keeping (and visa versa).  Now the underlining may pay dividends as I can share them with you (these are the only sort of dividends I really care about).  My hope is that these quotes will encourage you to read the work in its entirety and/or check out the author’s other work.  Certainly, you will find your own favorite quotes.  Enjoy!

jbm 11/25/2016

forgotten no more – a poem

Easily forgotten
days of wonder
nights of mystery

Easily forgotten
summer’s long wanderings in the woods
winter’s sledding and ice-skating
spring’s magical awakening smells
autumn’s frosty mornings, brittle falling leaves, colors, fire smoke, the promise of snow

Easily forgotten
when Christmas meant hopes and wishes
when birthdays were anticipated
when five dollars bought you an album that transported you across the universe

Easily forgotten
when lies were something terrible
when name-calling was impolite
when debate was civil
when elected officials attempted to listen to their constituents
when we had faith that government had our best interests at heart
when we believed that government would come to the right and fair decision once matters were fully discussed and compromises were made

Forgotten no more!

(If nostalgia is an opiate, memories can be strong medicine)

jbm 2/10/2017

so what are we gonna do about it?

we live in discouraging times
reason and humanity are forced into hiding
the most vulnerable are considered expendable
personal happiness is valued more highly than global good
-isms have replaced beliefs
doubt has replaced faith
uncertainty has replaced hope
human progress has been derailed
…so what are we gonna do about it?

jbm 12/17/2016

my new years wish: a bill of basic human rights

Lets find common ground

Lets help each other succeed

Lets think less about borders and more about cooperation

Lets think less about terror and more about supplying hope

Lets think less about differences and more about similarities

Lets think less about problems and more about solutions

It’s not about right and wrong, good and bad, us and them (these are always divisive terms and haven’t we got enough of that!) but about making the planet more habitable for all.

Now more than ever we need a bill of basic human rights that all countries can agree to and contribute to so that everyone benefits (you know, things like: phase one: healthcare, housing, food, water – phase two: freedom of religion, speech, sexual orientation, etc.) We need a UN whose sole aim is to see this bill of rights implemented universally. Wars and other acts of aggression would violate people’s rights and would put the perpetrator in violation).

Until we find a way to overcome our perceived differences (because its so much about perception) we will not progress as a species and most certainly destroy ourselves (possibly taking the planet with us). Cynically, I see humans as a cancer upon planet earth. Positively, I want to believe that we have choice and reason which can potentially remedy (probably not entirely cure) the cancer of our tribal and carnivorous natures.

jbm 1/1/2017

artists in the age of distress

One positive to be found in the current global state of distress is that it is galvanizing artists worldwide into action.  As things get worse the purpose of poetry, song, literature, visual arts, dance, theater, etc. shifts from entertainment, intellectual exercise or adornment to a weapon and a shield.

jbm 1/5/2017

following the bread crumbs

Music was a lifeline for me during high school. In those days (the 70’s ) you had to surf FM radio channels and listen late at night for the new and unique music. I lived in rural Michigan and had no older siblings to guide my musical tastes. By listening to FM radio and some pretty far out DJ’s who played what THEY wanted to hear, I learned about all kinds of music. Hearing a song that really connected with me inspired me to find out all I could about the artist which in turn led me to learn about other artists. Name dropping was like bread crumbs you followed through a tangled forest of pop, disco, heavy metal to find the truly unique. For example, I may not have cared much for Kate Bush’s voice, but I could tell she was doing something really different and I knew I should try to find out what she was about.

My music interests started with the Beatles which led me to The Rolling Stones, which led to The Kinks, which led to The Who, etc. I began reading about these guys and finding out who their musical heroes were and who they were listening to. I remember an interview with The Beatles in which they were asked who their favorite music group was and they wittily answered, Nina Simone. “Whose Nina Simone?” I wondered. Well, I found out. Wanting desperately to be unique and interesting, I tried to read interesting books, watch interesting movies and listen to interesting music. If I couldn’t live in New York, London or LA, at least I could listen to the music coming from there.

jbm 7/5/2016

thistle photo credit: jbm 

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