Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Little Goethe...

Over the past several weeks, I've been reading Robert Bly and Marion Woodman's The Maiden King (which I strongly recommend, though in some places Bly draws a few connections that don't quite gel to my mind, but the rest of it is very solid).

The book, and the folk tale on which is is based, deals with the trials one must undergo to unite with the Divine -- where the "Divine" is one's highest, most passionate calling -- represented in luminous goddess form as the Maiden King (she is a king, not a queen, because a queen implies the presence of a king; this woman is sovereign unto herself, the feminine that is not defined by the masculine).

But anyway... I can do an entry about the book when I finish it.

In the meantime, I was struck by a Goethe poem that Bly quotes by way of illustrating the "suffering" one must undergo -- which is not a suffering at all, but a necessary alchemical "burning" -- to slough away all that is extraneous to one's True Self. (I'll have to deal with the whole "true self" thing another time... it's too big an egg to fry in this entry).

This translation, also by Bly (who is best known, incidentally, for his excellent book Iron John), is found on page 99 of my edition, in the section "The Metaphor of the Hare," which represents a willing sacrifice to further the goal of greater life.

Holy Longing

Tell a wise person, or else keep silent,
Because the massman will mock it right away.
I praise what is truly alive,
What longs to be burned to death.

In the calm water of the love-nights,
Where you were begotten, where you have begotten,
A strange feeling comes over you
When you see the silent candle burning.

Now you are no longer caught
In the obsession with darkness,
And a desire for higher love-making
Sweeps you upward.

Distance does not make you falter,
Now, arriving in magic, flying,
And, finally, insane for the light,
You are the butterfly and you are gone.

And so long as you haven't experienced
This: to die and so to grow,
You are only a troubled guest
On the dark earth.

Awesome, huh?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New York Comedy Club - 5-15-09

After a few months of doing bellydancer-related material, I saw a set by old pal and comedic inspiration, Marc Maron at the Cornelia Street Café, where he told the heartbreaking and hysterically funny story of "The Chair that Ruined His Marriage."

So I put together what I had first conceived as a 15-minute solo short about a recent heartbreak, that would be best presented in theatrical settings like Cheryl King's Stage Left series, Forbidden Kiss.

When I workshopped it, however, I found it had potential as stand-up, so I pared it down to a spare narrative, punched up the laugh lines and presented it to an unsuspecting audience at the NY Comedy Club.

Here is the result. Enjoy!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Getting StickKy With It

I heard an interesting segment on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show a few days ago about a website called StickK, which seeks to provide its participants motiviation for change.

Dean Karlan, a Yale economics professor and co-founder of StickK, discussed "this innovative way to keep commitments" by, basically, "taking a contract out on yourself."

Mafia jokes aside, I can see how this might be effective, and the site is rife with testimonials to that effect.

But, seeing life in the complicated way that I do... and knowing how poorly any kind of "just do it" attitude works for me, I weighed in the following on the Leher segment's comments page:

Three stories:

(1) When a perpetually overweight friend joined Weight Watchers, his mother sneered that he'd fail. Within months he far exceeded his goal, proving at the very least he could stickK it to his mother. Six moths later, he gained it all back and more.

(2) I have also struggled with my weight and several years ago took up a challenge in my gym, NYHRC, for "the member who could improve fitness the most in 6 months." I won. Within a year, all the weight was back, and more.

(3) In 2005, I started bellydancing to heal three herniated lumbar discs. Three years later, my back was better but my weight was the same. I loved dancing so much, however, and found it helped me enjoy my body no matter what it looked like, that last year 20 pounds melted away with no significant change in diet or exercise.

A year later, the weight is still gone and I eat what I like.

The moral?

I think an incentive can work in the short-term to modify behaviors that are driven largely by habit.

But if the unhealthy behavior (such as overeating, addiction, etc.) is driven by deeper needs and compulsions, an incentive will not only fail in the long term, it may do more harm than good as a person may end up feeling worse for failing after having briefly succeded.

In my case, the "deeper need" was simply to feel happy with my body. Once that need was met, no behavior modification strategies were necessary.

Monday, May 4, 2009

World Exotica at Lafayette Grill

Bellydancer Tessarita and Flamenca La Mariposa brought together a fabulous array of dancers in styles ranging from Latin to Tribal to Egyptian Cabaret, and an impressive variety of fusions in between.

I emceed the evening, and danced a short set in the second half... whirling in through my favorite veil....

World Exotica 1

... with a little sword-balancing floorwork...

World Exotica 2

... and a zill-filled finale.

World Exotica 4

Saturday, May 2, 2009

April 2009 Events Archive

Wednesday, April 1st, 8pm
Being Silly at Bellyqueen's
April Fool's Day Djam at Je'Bon
15 St. Mark's Place, NYC
$10 cover/$5 minimum

Saturday, April 4th, 2pm
Dancing with PURE
for United for Peace and Justice
Dancing at Bowling Green, NYC (end of parade route; see the parade route for details.)

Saturday, April 11th, 8pmSaturday
Dancing in the Theatrical Bellydance
Post-Workshop Evening Showcase & Party
Solstice Studios
66 West 39th Street (@ 6th Ave) 3rd Fl, NYC
$15 (admission includes light refreshments)

Wednesday, April 15th, 8:30pm
Performing Comedy at Bellyqueen's Djam Under JeBon
Je'Bon Noodle House
15 St. Mark's Place, NYC
(212) 388-1313
$10 Cover/$5 Minimum

Thursday, April 16th, 9:30pm
Performing Stand-Up Comedy at the Broadway Comedy Club.
318 West 53rd Street (btw 8th & 9th Aves), NYC
$10 cover/2-drink minimum

Saturday, April 18th, 8pm
Dancing and Emceeing in a Benefit for Stacy Pershall's film Better the Devil You Know
at Morocco's Studio
6 West 20th Street (between 5th & 6th Avenue)
2nd Floor (take the stairs)
New York, NY 10011
$15 Tickets

Sunday, April 19th, 7pm
Teaching for Mariyah
at Shambhala Yoga & Dance Center
348 Saint Marks Ave
Brooklyn, NY
$16 Drop-In
(718) 622-9956

Sunday, April 26th, 8pm
Dancing with Efendi at The Grisly Pear
107 Macdougal St, NYC (between W 3rd and Bleecker - right next to Panchito's)
(212) 529-3808
No Cover
$20 Food/Drink minimum