Lead me

March 31, 2006

(image provided with permission of Yoga Circle Studio (http://www.yogacirclestudio.com) via Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison…thank you!)

Ahsah-Toma Saht Gahma-ya
Tahma Soma Jyoh-tir Gahma-ya Mriti-Oma Amri-tam Gahma-ya

English translation:

Lead me from the unreal to the Real
Lead me from the darkness to the Light
Lead me from the temporary to the Eternal


What to do about the Bloggerazzi….

March 30, 2006


I can’t believe how giddy I am over this photo. Thank you so much Jody!!! Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!!!


photo, by Jody Martinez, (c) 2006

Another Day of Ny-in

March 30, 2006

Somehow, and by somehow, I mean that I do not know how, I woke up at 4:30 in the morning today, wide awake and restless. So, what to do, what to do?


World Tour, that is.

The Husband gave up his morning workout (that he allegedly was going to partake in, allegedly being the key word here) so that I could go. One phone call to Stacey, one hot bath, and one cup of chai later, off I went. Only to discover that I was the very first person in line for the 8 a.m. class. Apparently, the 6 a.m. class had completely filled up. But then again, not really, as it turned out. At the last moment, there was enough space for little me and my mat. And we had a jolly good time.

Met Jody in person finally!, saw Gregg, REW, HC, Chris, Christopher, Sharon, several mates from Shala X and many others (ok, this is feeling a bit like an Oscar speech; hope I didn’t leave anyone out…oh shoot, here comes the music….OH YEAH AND MY HUSBAND!!!!!). Kissed the feet of the guru who gave the modern world, and me, the yoga that makes me feel like practicing yoga every day of my life. Went home, ate French toast.

And now I am quite tired.


The Aristocrats, or Humor as Yoga

March 29, 2006

Sometime around Nicole Richie, I decided instead to bag 101 Celebrity Slimdowns and check out something even more offensive but decidedly less tragic: The Aristocrats. For those who aren’t familiar, The Aristocrats is a 90 minute documentary homage to a joke that dates back to vaudeville days and which is essentially a private joke amongst comedians, one which can send even the most jaded of comedians into paroxysms of laughter, even to the extent of bordering on the apoplectic.

But here’s the rub: The joke, itself, is not funny at all, at least in its template form, which goes something like this: A man goes into a talent agent’s office and says, “Let me tell you about this act you might be interested in.” He proceeds to describe the act to the talent agent. The act involves a family – husband, wife and at least two kids, perhaps a grandma. Maybe a dog, maybe a cat, maybe a monkey. Maybe a bison. Basically the act involves various forms of incest, rape, bestiality, defacation, vomiting, extreme violence and/or any other taboo that may or may not need tweaking and breaking at any given moment. The talent agent wants to know what the name of the act is (one can only assume that he is at least mildly impressed). “The Aristocrats”, answers the man.


Like I said, this joke is not funny at all. At least not in its template form. But as told by the individual comedian, the joke becomes infused with the comedian’s own personality and style. Sometimes the joke isn’t told as a joke at all. Sometimes it is told as a dark confession: “My family WAS the Aristocrats,” Sarah Silverman begins…and then ambles onto a story that quickly veers from plain old sick humor (she tells us that it was quite the coup that her brother with Down Syndrome was part of the act) to flat-out deadpan irony. Sometimes the joke gets told through the vehicle of talking about the joke, as when Phyllis Diller talks about passing out after first hearing of the joke or when Paul Reiser talks about the joke and how he would tell it IF he were telling it and then proceeds to gets all neurotic about how he could have done it bigger, better. Sometimes what’s funny is simply WHO is telling it. Gilbert Gottfried doing obscenity? Carrot Top? Penn and Teller? A mime? Judy Gold telling it as she sits there nine-months pregnant adding her unborn baby into the disgusting mix? A bunch of Onion editors sitting around breaking down the elements of the joke in order to try to come up with the ultimate, the perfect, the apex of Aristocrats joke (one which involves not only incest, anal sex, bestiality, rape and grandmothers playing Begin the Beguine out of their asses on harmonica, but which also involves Jesus Christ and Republicans, because as they say, “that’s what people find funny today.”)? It’s all funny. And it’s all thought provoking.

Then there are the backwards tellings of the joke that catch you off base, like one comic’s description of a “family act”, one in which the mother and father sit primly in their drawing room, and in walk their little boy and their little girl, dressed in their private school uniforms. The four of them exhange polite greetings and sit down to tea. Just then there is a knock on the door and it’s their neighbor who has found their lost puppy wandering among the hedges. (Or something like that.) And what is the name of this family act? The “Cocksucking Motherfuckers”.

The movie includes dissections of the joke, right down to the choice of the word “Aristocrats” as the punchline. Several comics offer other words in its place, such as the “Sophisticates” and the “Debonaires”. Thus the joke becomes a totally different kind of humor; scatology aside, the humor can then be found in the one word punchline. Or imagine the joke being told by a comedian to his toddler, as if he were telling a bedtime story, with all of the obscenity and vulgarity intact but with toddler terminology substituted for what would otherwise be, well, let’s just say George Carlin’s list of words you never (used to) hear on television, and leave it at that.

Since this movie came out, I have been curious about it. I thought it might answer the question: What’s the use of a joke that isn’t funny? As the movie gets into full swing, it becomes apparent not only that the joke can actually be incredibly funny but also that the joke is a metaphor for humor, itself.

How so? The Aristocrats tells us that in order to be funny, a joke must press our buttons. Often, in order to do so, it must break boundaries, go straight to the edge of comfort. What often makes the title-joke funny is the way its boundary breaking is big and ugly and yet completely nonchalant. Sometimes the nonchalance is in the description of the “act” (such that “The son puts his ass in his sister’s face” is spoken with no more emotion than “The mechanic puts the carbeurator into the hood”) . Sometimes it is in the nonchalance of the “talent agent”‘s reaction to it (“Yeah, no, I think I’ve already seen that one.”).

The Aristocrats tells us that what is boundary breaking changes as the mores of the day change. Thus, Gilbert Gottfried got booed for making a joke about the events of 9/11 at a roast for Hugh Heffner that took place later that same year, but within minutes, had his audience in hysterics with a telling of The Aristocrats. What is boundary breaking also changes depending on who is doing the telling and to whom it is being told. Thus Whoopi Goldberg can tell the joke using more cursewords than, say, Rita Rudner (who primly talks about the joke…while fondling stuffed animals), but she dare not do it in whiteface.

The Aristocrats also tells us that in order to tell a joke, one must not be attached to the resuls. If you are attached to getting a laugh, you will fail miserably. Instead, you have to simply set your intention to be funny and tell your joke in a way that is true to you, using your delivery, your words, your inflections. And there is the yoga in joke-telling. Be who you are, where you are, when you are…and all is coming.




March 29, 2006

Still not 100%. Thought I was when I woke up. But after walking the kids to school, I felt winded and on the verge of collapsing. Now: Home watching 101 Celebrity Slimdowns. Really need to bend a little (sans vinyasa). Really need to color my hair. Really need to make my bed. Really need to get to Dunkin Donuts to purchase 39 original glazed and one Boston creme for Brian’s class to celebrate his birthday. Really need to figure out how to use the Dr. Dreadful Freaky Food Lab so that I can do some Freaky Food Lab experiments with the kids. But it all seems soooooo insurmountable. I can barely manage a full sentence on here. What does that tell you?


I feel like someone threw up PAIN all over my body.

March 28, 2006

I seem to have caught the stomach bug my kids had over the weekend. Everything hurts. And that’s only the beginning. But I am not going to get into the rest of it here because, well, trust me, you don’t want to know.

It’s Brian’s 9th birthday today, and this really sucks….albeit, not as much as pushing out a rather average-sized baby out of an extra-small-sized pelvis after 18 hours of labor. So, what am I complaining about – your children’s birthdays are supposed to be about pain, right?

More to file under the heading of “ray-ya-yain on your wedding day”, I am supposed to go on a class trip with Brian’s class today. Not just any class trip, this is a biggie – to a major museum, an all-day affair, including a death march, I mean walk, across Central Park. In spite of my discomfort, I feel that I still must go. I went ice-skating when I was on chemo, after all. This can’t be worse than that. Why, it’s merely a black fly in my chardonnay – a death row pardon two minutes too late (speaking of which, in my fevered state last night, I dreamt that Jessica Simpson was part of my extended family, as was the entire Soprano clan, and that I witnessed a murder in pre-WWII Germany that somehow involved Miss Simpson as well as Silvio – the hitman played by Steven Van Zandt, a/k/a Little Steven of the E Street Band, not to mention, the cute young guy who played Gabe on Six Feet Under, and that as a result, I went on the run to New Jersey so that I wouldn’t be offed in an attempt to get me not to sing like a canary…).

No, it isn’t ironic. It just sucks.


Public gatherings

March 27, 2006

Yoga Mala is very clear about warning students of yoga to avoid public gatherings. I wonder about this in light of the World Tour.

But anyway, since tomorrow is a class trip that keeps me from practicing at Shala X and Wednesday is a moonday and Friday I am going to be joining the public gathering at the Midtown Loft, that left Tuesday and Thursday for me to go to Shala X to practice. And somehow, not knowing for sure if Sir would be there and not wanting to call and find out and not wanting to start and stop and kind of being into this self-practice mode that I am in, I decided to, well, be definitive and not waffle about where and when I am practicing this week. As such, I have decided to make this week all about self-practice, self-discipline, self-study (svadyaya) and then go back to Guruji on Friday.

It is good to make decisions. It is good to let go of ambivalence. Practice today was stellar. I woke up so sore that I considered trying to make up a new definition for sore. But I was too sore to even think. So I blogged. And then I made it down to Yoga Sutra to teach my lunchtime classes. SO much fun. Then I plunked down my mat, and soreness aside, I practiced. The funny thing about my soreness: I was sore, but not stiff. I enjoyed much in the way of ease and flexibility today, notwithstanding a certain achiness and fatigue in my muscles. It is days like this when I remember and reaffirm for myself that stiffness is, indeed, in the mind.

Somehow, and I am honestly not quite sure how, I made it all the way through the Marichyasana poses before 40 minutes had passed. That made my practice way more enjoyable. I think there is something to be said for holding certain poses extra long and taking looooong breaths. But everything in moderation. Not all practices can be like that. And if they are, well, I hear “rut” echoing in the distance. By not holding any one pose excessively long, I felt balanced, grounded, focused, energized as opposed to enervated.

When I got to backbends, Kelman and John-the-Ashtanga-teacher-turned-med-students both dropped me back. And all I can say is: I need to do dropbacks more often. The chest breath control alone is enough for me to say it. But the leg strength! Oh! And the addressing my fears, allowing my head to come up last! Oh my! I do hope that Sir will add this to my repertoire soon. I don’t care if he ever gives me Kurmasana (well, maybe that is an exaggeration…) – as long as I can get to savor dropbacks and the way they help open me up.

It’s a beautiful spring day in NYC, by the way, I thought I might add. Hope Gregg and Christi and all of our other visitors are enjoying!


P.S. I just heard from SuzieC that El Senor and Miss Bud may be in town. Is it true? Could it be? Please Miss Bud, if you are in town, and provided you can get through the throngs of admirers from my international blogger fan base, would you consider coming over to my mat and saying “namaste”, or as we say in NYC, “hey”? I promise, I won’t out you…and I would even let you take a photo of Gary giving me a rough adjustment….