Category Archives: Musings

Somewhere Down The Crazy River

Listening to Somewhere Down the Crazy River by Robbie Robertson and thinking about sultry nights under heavy moons when you can’t sleep so you walk the streets of the city. You’re not looking for trouble, but you’re open to trouble finding you. The night is to explore and life is waiting to be discovered.

Sometimes you are too much energy mixed with alcohol, no ice, and the night ends with harsh words with boys who want to be men but are untested. They puff out their chests and their legs go stiff, the easier for the breaking. They don’t really want to fight. That’s why they lose.

Sometimes it’s a slow dance on a dirty dance floor. Her: big hair, red, red lipstick, high heels and nothing to say. You: leather jacket, big, sincere smile and a false name.

These are the nights before the path is truly chosen. If you’re lucky, you don’t fall into choosing. You stay upright and conscious and live forever.

If you stay righteous, you walk away from mortality and refuse to get mired in the deep mud. In youth, you have to move like water because fire burns. Mortals get caught by branches and twigs along the narrow path and lose their way into Ordinary. They wind up trapped in canyons that echo the same thoughts off bone walls. They see, hear, taste, speak and live and die nothing new.

The gravel in Robbie Robertson’s voice knows the rough road. His music rises above stupid fights with anonymous wannabes. Somewhere Down the Crazy River is a lazy current to a mystical place where you confront yourself and lose your bullshit in the soulful sound of yearning and needing and wanting more than Ordinary.

It’s a song about how to live, awake and aware. If you don’t want to be mortal, listen to Robbie, over and over, until you are lifted and carried on that slow river of heart and mind.

The one thing you gotta learn is not to be afraid of it. You like it now? You’ll love it later.

On Writing and Word Jazz: When anything could happen

I’m listening to “Wind” by Ibrahim Maaloouf. I am inside and outside of the music at the same time. It’s smoky, bluesy jazz, the sort that uses rich, full notes to have a conversation with your soul about emptiness. I am acutely aware of my aching distance from this bar scene, this cherished scar. 

The air is blue. Maybe that’s the lighting or maybe that’s the hanging cigarette smoke, curling and twisting slowly. Maybe that’s my mood. Maaloouf’s muted trumpet is the instrument most like a mournful loon echoing across a lake at night.

The floor is sticky with splashed beer and spilled grenadine. We swirl our drinks, making them last. We all sway slightly in Maaloouf’s wind, to the feelings the musician stirs. Each breath is heat and lime, igniting need and imagination. Rum is a pickpocket, slipping away with our shyness. The city makes us turn away from each other, avoiding eye contact. Maaloouf, in this bar, now, lets us meet each other again.

The suits are sharp and the ties are leather and thin. The fedoras are not ironic. The curvy woman at the bar wears fire engine lipstick. She looks my way as she sucks an ice cube. Cue glances that turn to smouldering gazes and flirtatious smiles. We are each other’s next glorious mistake. Once we leave this room, anything could happen.

Remember when anything could happen? 

The waiting, melancholy rain makes me want to linger over our drinks, contemplating possibilities. There is sadness, but it’s the romantic kind to revel in. It’s okay to be honest about my feelings on a night like this. I won’t be so free to be honest again until I’m in my seventies.

When I listen to Maaloouf, I’m not even thirty. I am awake and I won’t even think of making my way home to my own bed until dawn. Twenty-six? Twenty-seven? The slide has begun, sure, but I can still say my potential isn’t wasted. Not yet. 

I wish I played jazz. I could still write but I could riff. I could play the same song over and over and my audience would plead to hear it again, exactly the same. I could produce art in three or four-minute sprints of genius instead of book-length marathons. You’d dig it and I’d be cool. Every night would be this night, real and unreal, a scene from a movie before the complications ensue.

If I were Maaloouf, I’d hear the applause from the stage. From my desk…. No.

I’m listening to “Wind” by Ibrahim Maaloouf. There is sadness, but it’s the romantic kind to revel in. I can almost taste the santo libre. 

PODCAST: The Usual Suspects Edition

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Hi! Been away a while. Sorry about that. Back on track for 2015 as we come close to finishing the author reading of Higher Than Jesus. Hate my reading? Buy it through AllThatChazz.com!

Where have I been? I’ve been publishing books. If crime novels are your thing, the third in the Hit Man Series is Hollywood Jesus. You’ll also want to check out Intense Violence, Bizarre Themes, my autobiographical crime novel.

If you enjoyed This Plague of Days, you’ll enjoy my latest books, The Haunting Lessons. It’s eighty-one lessons on how to survive the coming Armageddon, all through the eyes of a nice girl from Iowa with some special talents. Do check it out. 

Just two chapters left in Higher Than Jesus. Stay tuned!

Also, don’t forget @Rsawatsky and the #DudeNeedsAKidney campaign. Russ Sawatsky’s website is kidneyforruss.wordpress.com.

And don’t forget to visit out sponsor, Kit Foster of KitFosterDesign.com, for all your graphic design needs.

Cheers!

~ Chazz

Robin Williams and the Angry Internet

As the tributes and mourning pour out for much-loved comedian Robin Williams, I’ve seen some strange, disturbing and angry reactions to his death. The phenomenon adds to my sadness. I loved Robin Williams’ comedy and acting. At 63, he leaves behind an immense legacy of art, but he died too young. 

And then there are the Internet people who seem to breathe Mean. I’m sure they are a minority, but they sure are vocal. Time for some push back.

To the people who are so sure he’s burning in hell for committing suicide: Judge not lest you be judged. If you really want to bring more people to Jesus, do you really think kicking someone so talented and loved is going to sway people to your cause? As a Christian buddy of mine would say, “Y’all need to read your red-letter Jesus talk closer.”

Robin had a good joke about casting the first stone and getting in the heaven club. When angry fundamentalists said he wouldn’t enter the kingdom of heaven, he asked, “Will you be there?”

To the people who associate suicide with cowardice: You don’t understand the problem. I’ve dealt with depression personally. I can tell you, it takes a lot of bravery even to admit you’ve got the problem. Bravery and cowardice, however, are not relevant to treatment. Framing mental illness and addiction that way isn’t helpful to those who suffer the disease.

Perhaps you could feel superior to others in more productive and harmless ways, like getting really kick ass at crochet?

Try looking at depression this way:

If a guy with all of Robin William’s resources couldn’t turn away from suicide, mental illness must be a huge problem. It’s not mere sadness or laziness that makes a person take his life like that.

When people judge others for “taking the easy way out”, not only do they not understand the underlying medical issues involved, they may even contribute to the problem. 

Questions to ponder

What example are you setting if you lack compassion? Are you really so sure you’ll always be healthy and so utterly blameless no one will think to condemn your behavior? If life is so precious, why are you making it more miserable for those who suffer illness? Are you really angry at a celebrity you don’t know or are you projecting, angry at mortality and putting expectations on others? No one can know another’s pain or what’s going on in a stranger’s head. 

I believe there are correct times for suicide. I believe we’ll have fewer occurrences of suicide with more research in the long-term and more compassion now. 

Practice compassion today. Please. Try to see others at their best. If we reduce everyone to the facts of how we die instead of how we live, too many of us will leave this life as failures. Compassion helps save lives. Condemnation can hurry us on to darker options.

Robin Williams was a sensitive, kind and generous person who brought the world laughter. He worked hard at many philanthropic causes to better our world and ease the suffering of others. When he was well and at his best? That is his legacy. That is his example.

What have you done to ease another’s suffering today?

 

Spoilers Enclosed: A review of the movie Transcendence

As I’ve mentioned on Facebook, it seems whoever’s in charge has decided that it’s okay to spoil Game of Thrones immediately. I’m now hypersensitive to the problem of spoilers so, though I won’t get into great detail on the movie Transcendence, I’m going to tell you up front that I plan to spoil it. Perhaps enjoy this review more like a Slate Spoiler Special (a review of a movie you’ve already seen, not one you plan to see.)

So, straight to the problem with Transcendence:

It’s based on a paranoia that is never supported and the stakes are all wrong.

If the very foundation of the film wasn’t immensely flawed, it wouldn’t have been a bad show. I like Johnny Depp. He’s good in this in that he says his lines and doesn’t walk into furniture. (He hardly does any walking at all since mostly he’s on screen and percolating through the net. They sure didn’t give him much to work with in the script.

Sadly, Morgan Freeman plays the dumbest character he has ever played. Here’s the deal: Download a brilliant, dying scientist’s mind into a computer. The photocopy of his consciousness might not be entirely him, but there’s no evidence it isn’t all him.

We’re supposed to be worried it isn’t all Johnny and it might be PINN, the autonomous computer that MIGHT DESTROY THE HUMAN RACE! Except we barely meet PINN before the scientist gets on PINN’s hard drive and there is no sense of menace. PINN isn’t HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s as innocuous as Microsoft Word’s paperclip character that popped up to ask, “It look like you’re typing a letter. Can I help?” PINN will open the pod bay door and won’t keep you out of the airlock, Dave, so relax.

Anyway, the ghost in the machine (i.e. Johnny’s character of Will Caster) embraces solar power and starts making the blind see, saving lives and doing good everywhere.

Morgan’s character’s answer to all this good news? A note that tells the dead guy’s wife to run away because…um…well…hm. Because paranoia! Because freedom! Because your dead husband is down in the basement curing cancer with nanotechnology that could save us all! What a jerk!

Making the people he cures of terrible diseases into a slave army (part-time) was supposed to alarm us. However, if the doctor said, “I’m curing your blindness for free but I get to run around in your body, as needed, maybe 10- 20% of the time,” I’d say, “Sure! Thanks! Better than being a debt slave for the rest of my life. That’s a fair exchange! Bring on the nano-tech!”

Skip to the death scene

Dying wife looks up at dying husband (again) and says, “It’s you.”

Meaning: You aren’t the monster we feared.

He answers, “Always was.”

Meaning: I was always Jesus. You’ve killed me again and learned nothing in over 2000 years.

She smiles.

She smiles!? No! She should not be smiling. She should be weeping and begging forgiveness, not only from her dead husband/computer program, but from the human race.

Ah. The human race. What did we win in the end?

Pain. Disease. Weakness. Congratulations, humans! You had a shot at long, healthy lives and hope for the future but you weren’t worthy of the gift. You “win”, ya big dopes! That’s what anti-intellectualism and paranoia and fear of new things gets you. I’d call it a life lesson, but your lives are so short and miserable, who cares? Sure, science guy healed the planet a bit in the end, but we still die hooked up to machines. Whee! We win!

Transcendence needed a lesson from Lawn Mower Man. You don’t make a guy a beneficent god and bring him down. You transform him into a mad, evil god and then you bring him down. Bring down monsters or we’re all doofuses.

And that non sequitur little tag of an ending, so full of nonsense and obfuscation?

I wonder if studio suit thought, Add in some hope for the husband and wife at the end, despite the fact that the anti-virus worked everywhere else. Sure. If we confuse the audience with a vague ending, maybe they’ll forgive us the rest.

We won’t forgive. The point of the movie is, we won’t. We aren’t worthy and we don’t cut anybody else any slack, either.

~ FYI: For a satisfying ending, try my funny crime novel about a Cuban hit man trying to escape the mob. It’s called Bigger Than Jesus. It’s pronounced, “HAY-SOOSE.” As I write this, it’s free on Amazon here.

 

Anthem

Someone is trying to pull me into their psycho-drama. This is a person committed to the illusion of their victimhood. Every problem is a catastrophe and a conflict. Every slight, real or imagined, is a mortal wound. A mistake is their excuse to try to own you forever.

Worse, they are trying to make a victim of me.

I will not get sucked in. Whatever the problem, I can solve it. Whatever the challenge, I will meet it. And I will remember who I am.

Each day is full of milestones, big and small. If our milestones consist solely of breakfast and lunch and dinner, we are merely marking time and not using it. Negative people create their own hell and I will not live there. Do-nothing people risk nothing and stay nothing and they demand you be nothing, too.

That’s not for me.

I will use this day. I will rise above my enemies. I will rise so far above them, they will look up. They’ll want to be my friends.

I am very good to my friends. I am very bad to those who choose to stay my enemies.

 

We keep the deepest secrets from ourselves. Maybe we should.

braingasm coverWe do what we do and dream of what we want to do, but we will never know why. What motivates us to choose this over that? These are secrets we keep from ourselves. Hidden among many skeins of branches amid forests of neurons, the answers are locked away. Why did you choose this man or that woman, that ambition and this life? Did you really choose at all, or did invisible forces choose for you?

The answers to these questions is a mystery and sometimes (often?) a misery.

On dark nights we peer at the stars and wonder about what life on which planets might be born and living and dying beyond the reach of our senses, long ago and far away.

But we are just as much a mystery to ourselves. Our minds hold secrets and hide memories the brain will never yield. The gears of the subconscious spin and work, autonomous (up to something?) pushing and pulling us, this way and that. We say things we don’t mean and we don’t know why. We drive, zombies on automatic, and awake at our destination hoping the last three traffic lights were green as we sailed through, oblivious and unharmed.

We are not awake.

We do not see all there is.

Even as I write this? My heart rate, the secrets of my blood and what makes me write at all? All unknown to me.

I am still asleep, dreaming of waking. It’s hopeless.

We are never truly awake. I don’t even know which world is better. In moments when I swim closer to the lens that lets in light, I see things. More is revealed to me. I understand more. I am more interested in the world then, but less happy.

This is a dream. When that reality becomes too harsh, I escape to my bed, into a deeper dream within the dream. Each morning fool myself into thinking I am awake.

Maybe death could be merciful like that.

We die, but in the fog at the end, we do not notice our passing. We continue, dreaming that we are living. I don’t believe that, but I love the symmetry and grace of it. We could die and it wouldn’t matter because, no matter how absurd, dreams make sense and we continue dreaming, warm and insulated from the worst the world can offer.

Don’t let me die. Let me keep on dreaming I am alive. Just like tonight.

That wouldn’t be so bad.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is waiting for blood test results and thinking about mortality. 

This will get uncomfortable. You might as well laugh.

This will get uncomfortable. You might as well laugh.

#Video: This is the End movie review

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