Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Yoga. Roar.

Last week I attended a Bikram (hot) yoga class for the first time. I have been to yoga classes in the past, but I’m not super bendy. In any event, I found myself in a 2000 degree room on a mat with a towel as I coaxed my body into one position after another. About twenty minutes into the class I became extremely nauseated. In retrospect, an egg sandwich on a bagel and cup of coffee probably wasn’t the best way to hydrate beforehand, but I have none of the self-control that would have prevented breakfast.

As the nausea escalated, I decided to take a break and lay on the floor on my back in a ‘pose’ called Shavasana. After a few minutes on the ground I rejoined the class for a pose or two and then needed to get back on the floor. It was at this point that the teacher announced, “feel free to lay in Shavasana if you need to.” Great, thanks. One pose later I’m back down and the affirmation becomes, “there’s no shame for lying in Shavasana.” Seriously, I’m the only person on the ground. I struggle back up only to be struck back down by the urge to ralph and then, loud and clear, “we don’t place any judgment on people in Shavasana.”

At this point I began to wonder if anyone had ever protested yoga. Is it even possible? In a world that's increasingly apathetic and non-responsive to the true tragedies occurring constantly, is there someone out there that has the energy to protest yoga? Gone are the days of the grand protest song.

If anyone would have the gall to protest yoga it would be Captain Moron.

Alas, I did not find any specific yoga protest songs, but I uncovered evidence of Christians protesting yoga in Canada.

Before you lose faith in Shavasana and humanity, remember that protest singers of today are not entirely extinct.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Jack Johnson's Bubbly Toes?

It seems surprisingly difficult to take anything but strange pictures of toes. I am uncertain if it is purely the subject that is the matter or the consideration of the subject that matters. Maybe like building a perfect cube for a carpenter, so too is composing a glamorous toe shot for a photographer.

Someone suggested to me the other day that the behavior of toes (and possibly by extension, feet) is essentially a dossier of a person: Feetbook, but populated with undeniable facts rather than wit-quips filling Facebook. It was an interesting thought possibly prompted by the fact that amidst the conversation I was making fists with my toes.

“Fists with your toes…” mused John McClane in Die Hard. Wow! In considering the importance of feet, I was shocked at just how much of a role feet played in driving the action of Die Hard (not the sequels). Fists with your toes covered the marital back-story and set the stage for the barefoot high jinks throughout the film. Had the Aryan terrorist (ah! what a concept!) feet larger than McClane’s younger sister, the audience might have been spared one of the most uncomfortable movie moments extant: the removal of glass shards at the bathroom sink. I liked Die Hard quite a bit, but not until now did I feel the that possibly the credits should have included feet playing themselves.

Attention to feet led me to two fantastic instances of foot assessment: one British and the other metaphysical. That may be faulty parallelism, though maybe not. Foot reader Jane Sheehan has extensively published regarding her abilities to evaluate people’s lives by way of their feet. This SPECTACULAR clip on YouTube shows her skills at work in a mall. I would otherwise consider it to be as reliable as phrenology or possibly astrology, but my Facebook horoscope has been shockingly precise lately.

The latter instance is a foot reading service by the Mudrashram Institute of Spiritual Studies. Many of the spiritual services are available with little to no personal contact, rather by photographic submission alone. I am inclined to send the picture of my toes and find out what my feet have to say. Actually, I will do this as soon as I get some more film and hit a 7-Eleven for a money order.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Context and a side of hash

Yesterday it occurred to me that one of the
things that text messaging has so winningly
accomplished is to squelch the impudence of
telephone communication. Letters are written,
hidden, and revealed with a pace that seems,
at the very least, more measured than a call.
Plus, you can pore over text long after transmission,
without the trappings of behaviors to merit impeachment.

In a lean toward reduced functionality, I was quite
taken with this super phone that I originally noticed
on notcot. Secretly I hoped it was actually just a
stick and that the stick would somehow explode
the phone phenomenon inwardly, paradoxically
introducing the latest fad in wood technology to
salivating puds everywhere: the 3G shingle.
Not so: it has a screen.

Just the same, as I was sitting around, going over
some unanswered emailings, a text arrived, so concise
that the Swiss guy across the street was likely
stirred by a karmic wind, and for the moment
and the moments subsequent, I continued to
embrace the sort of behavior that on occasion
has me otflmfao.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


When I was in grade school, I loved breaking open the plastic wrap on the newest National Geographic Magazine and taking a big whiff of the ink-laden brick. I did the cursory flip-book flutter of the block of pages while holding the magazine binder-side up, ensuring that the included map would fall into my hand. I'd read the map title and proceed with the unfolding. Each map was always two-sided; the area geography lived on one side of the map and the cultural, political or environmental information slurpee took up the opposing face. I could spend hours reading both, but I'd usually end up mesmerized by the geographic face, yet disappointed that the map retained the crease marks of square folding.

As I'm no longer in a place to redo my second place finish in the Estabrook School round of the National Geographic Geography Bee, I no longer receive the National Geographic Magazine. However, yesterday I flipped to the NatGeo television channel during an Olympic lull. I'm sure that the program was interesting, but I was struck most by the lack of sensory experience. The magazine is obviously visual, but it's also tactile (the plastic tear and the page flutter), makes a great sound during that flutter, and has the potent fresh magazine smell. Can the television or internet ever deliver a comparable range of sense titillation? Is there a digital medium that delivers anything close to this expected serendipity?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Out of season

It smells good. It's firm, slightly soft, and fits nicely in your palm. You bring the peach to your mouth and take a generous mouthful. What follows might be a moment of sheer bliss, but it has the potential to be an utterly disappointing chalky, oatmeal-consistency blob of tasteless smoosh. If you've had even one great peach in your life, you know the peach potential. A sub-par peach is a let-down.

It's peach season in California right now, and the fruit is tasty. I've had a few bites of peach perfection over the last week and I'm still riding the high. However, if I fill up on fruit and instead choose another staple, say pizza, I'm out of luck. There is no pizza season on the Peninsula. Yes, I can get a slice of limp something at Pizza My Heart, or a brick of stomach ache at Patxi's, but I've had good pizza before, and, in the same way I know a bad peach, I know bad pizza.

Instead of diving into a pizza debate, I'll leave you with a challenge.
1. Go to your 'good' pizza joint.
2. Order a cheese or margarita pizza.
3. Do not apply extra hot pepper flakes or Parmesan when your pie arrives.
4. Enjoy.

If you were successful with (4), yay, you have good pizza. If your pie was bland, and in need of more toppings, you lose. Pizza, like the peach, is a bottom-up food. Would you put a pound of chicken cacciatore on top of a sandy peach and call it a good peach?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The OlympXXX

The Olympics begin on the eighth. Delight: it is one of the few times that the anachronistic takes center stage. Yet, the political posture of the world suggests that, as much as anything, sport is war rather than a vehicle for camaraderie amidst fair play. I think of New Zealand’s All Blacks with their haka; I reflect for a moment on Escobar’s fluke goal and subsequent murder related to World Cup play in 1994. These are fairly straightforward games: a ball, a goal, and populated factions. Sounds much like two flanks, a field, and some bullets. Maybe Manassas would be appropriate for the next round. No, rugby is not an Olympic sport (anymore), but soccer is, and the collective sentiment is still relevant.

For me, the games of mastery of apparatus or terrain always stand out as noblest: running, swimming, javelin, hammer throw. I am not discounting team sports, but I find great interest in translating competitive ambition toward an apolitical challenge, rather than fostering animosity among individuals and nations. This is tough, in that I would love to see lacrosse and croquet fielded again. Just the same, as a spectator, I feel the pressure of nationalistic fervor as medals are counted, or discounted, in both team and individual games.

Preceding these Olympic games was the somewhat less acknowledged X Games 14. In this, the Year of the Rat and dawning age of do-it-yourself, I feel great hope and admiration for those athletes who have taken to the streets and perhaps the parking lots of idle stadia to find a game and a place. Seeing people on skateboards, taking flights off stairs, makes me think that the effort in forcing an environment for play diminishes some of the perceived Olympic spirit. Despite Joni Mitchell’s feeling to the contrary, maybe the parking lot is a minor solution or at least a place of common ground. I can imagine that just as the unsettled here take to rails and curbs in the shadow of signs to the contrary, so too may others in Beijing and around the world.