Archive for March 2007

Giantic Robotic Statue of Michael Jackson… for real!

March 29, 2007

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As reported by the New York Daily News, “A 50 foot robotic replica of MICHAEL JACKSON will be reportedly erected in the desert surrounding Las Vegas, according to reports. The self-proclaimed king of pop is currently in talks to sign a long-term concert deal in Nevada’s Sin City and local businessmen claim the huge Jackson likeness is among the proposals.

Consultant MIKE LUCKMAN of Luckman Van Pier, tells the New York Daily News, “It would be in the desert sands. Laser beams would shoot out of it so it would be the first thing people flying would see. Neon is wonderful, but it’s old school.” Luckman’s partner, designer ANDRE VAN PIER, adds, “Michael’s looked at the sketches and likes them.”

Wow… he truly is the King of Pop!! Michael is on a mission to heal the world. I wonder how it will be “robotic”?
I am afraid to add my own comment here… I have so many ideas… but children may be reading… hide them from this statue.
I wonder if there will be smaller statues of Bubbles and Blanket by his side… shamon… shaboogie!

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George is keeping us company…

March 24, 2007

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I have been home for the past two days with my son, Angelo, who is sick with the stomach flu. While their have been some very unpleasant moments and sleepless nights, their is something special about being here for him and with him. I am comforted in comforting him and helping him to feel like he is not alone.

Angelo does not watch much TV. I am a TV junky, and we’re trying to break the cycle with him. But when he’s sick, we let him watch. We watched a Curious George marathon on PBS yesterday. I am annoyed by most all children’s cartoons because it seems like the characters are always shouting or yelling and talking down to children. (Listen for this the next time you catch a cartoon while flipping through the channels… you will see that I am right!)

Anyway, Curious George is really good. Narrated by William H. Macy, these stories capture the simplicity, pace and playfulness of the books. One of the things I love about it is that George doesn’t talk like a human, but makes… well… monkey noises! He is always trying to help others… but that is what gets him into trouble.

I joke with m wife that my son and I could basically live the same life… follow the same nap schedule, eat the same foods, play with the same toys and now, watch the same programs!

My love for Curious George also motivated me to find out more about the authors. There is a great book entitled The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey that details the childhood and life of these interesting artist/authors told in picture book format.

Empathy for one’s fellow chimp

March 23, 2007

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Experts now think the apes may relate to each other in very human ways
Excerpt from Article by Jeremy Manier, Tribune staff reporter • Chicago Tribune • March 23, 2007

If chimpanzees truly followed what humans call “the law of the jungle,” a mentally disabled chimp named Knuckles would never stand a chance.Yet Knuckles has found acceptance and perhaps even sympathy from his fellow chimps in Florida, making him an unlikely star of Lincoln Park Zoo’s international Mind of the Chimpanzee conference.

The meeting, which runs Friday through Sunday with 300 researchers from around the world, is billed as the first major conference devoted to chimp cognition and the first academic chimp conference at the zoo since 1991. Although much of the meeting will examine the impressive intelligence of humanity’s closest living relatives, Knuckles offers unique insight as the only known captive chimp with cerebral palsy, which immobilized one arm and left him mentally unable to follow the intricate protocols of chimp society.

Normally, older chimps would put on intimidating displays with a juvenile male such as Knuckles, screaming, grabbing and biting the youngster to put him in his place, said Devyn Carter, who has studied Knuckles and is presenting his research at the Lincoln Park Zoo conference. But even the dominant alpha male tolerates and gently grooms Knuckles.

“To my knowledge he’s never received a scratch,” said Carter, a research assistant at Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center. “They seem to sense somehow that he’s different.”

Such behavior touches on a central theme of many presentations at the conference: How well do chimps understand what other chimps know, feel and perceive? Some experts believe chimps and other higher primates have genuine empathy, the ability to imagine themselves in another animal’s place. And that may be the first step in the evolution of morality.

Chimps may use their empathic skills for good, but also to manipulate others. Researchers have found that chimps have a talent for deception, which requires mental sophistication, said conference co-organizer Elizabeth Lonsdorf, director of the zoo’s Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes.

“Lying and deceiving means you have to know what another individual thinks is the truth and act in such a way to work around that truth,” Lonsdorf said. “It takes complex information processing.”

Redmoon Theater

March 19, 2007

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Yesterday a group of my family and friends attended a production at Redmoon Theater in Chicago. My brother Joe introduced us to this small company over ten years ago, and we have been hooked ever since. One of the other things I love about Redmoon is how they are involved in giving back to children in the community. I hope to be involved in something like this someday in the community where I live.
Each of Redmoon’s offerings are unique and wildly creative. This particular production is called “Once Upon a Time (Or the Secret Language of Birds). As all of Redmoon’s experiences, it is whimsical, childlike and really hard to describe! This production is called a “spectacle in miniature” as it involves puppetry and live performance. The story-line was beautifully told about a little girl and a retired wrestler that rescue the birds (and hopes and dreams) of the city where they live.

Costumes, puppets, music and sets are all original and meticulously made by hand from every-day objects. Amazing!! Following every show the audience (only around 100 people) is invited to come and ask questions of the cast, touch the puppets and go behind the scenes to see how everything works. As I looked behind the puppet stage, I noticed this quote cut out and taped to the wall as a reminder to the performers:

“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he (or she) grows up.” — Pablo Picasso

“Once Upon a Time” runs until April 8, 2007 – take your friends and family to see it! Let me know if you decide to check this out.

Matzah!

March 18, 2007

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How could one bread rock it so famous?
I don’t care if people think it is too bland… I love it.

This video inspires me as my family prepares for our Seder in a few weeks.

Shalom.

http://www.jibjab.com/originals/originals/jibjab/movieid/71

The Hospitality Listening

March 13, 2007

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I met with a new friend today for lunch. He is a bit of an introvert like me, which makes me more self-conscious than I should be! This also means I struggled to allow there to be ANY moments of silence! During our conversation, I couldn’t help but think of an excerpt I ran across the other day by Henri Nouwen. Being fully present without thinking ahead is SO hard for me… I am really praying that God help me to slow down and learn to live in the moment. I hope this also challenges you in a big way:

Listening as Spiritual Hospitality by Henri Nouwen
To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.

Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.

Restoration

March 12, 2007

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As I was driving to my office this morning I passed a service van parked on the side of the road that had “Community Restoration” imprinted on the side of it. A supervisor or law enforcement official sat in the van watching two men and a woman in bright orange vests pick up garbage on the side of the road.

I was intrigued  by the use of the term “Community Restoration”. It made me glad that the city of St. Charles sees the need to restore beauty and character, and in some ways is making this happen. It also made me think about our (my) role as one who brings restoration.  I wonder why our society devalues our environment so much that we chuck trash out of our cars everywhere and expect someone else to clean it up. We are enamored with the immediate, wasteful and careless.

What if we saw the places around us as our responsibility to care for… not just our own yards… but the neighborhoods and streets in which we live. I am not just talking about picking up trash (though that is not a bad place to start)… it is an attitude of the heart… of being stewards of creation… being agents of restoration with the idea of creatively restoring beauty and wholeness in the places and people that we come into contact with. That task is daunting, especially for a selfish person like me, but together we can work towards “Community Restoration” inwardly and outwardly… and God will smile.