Category Archives: Cats

Renewal

A couple of weeks ago I attended a wonderful workshop put together by Depth Psychology Seminars, a group of Jungian therapists and artists. The weekend included both lectures and creative workshops – opportunities to move from theory to practice, in the form of what Jung called “active imagination,” and my Marxist colleagues might call “praxis.” I painted, acted, and wrote poetry for the first time in decades. It was a blast.

For the poetry workshop with Laura Hope-Gill, we were encouraged to write a poem inspired by the seven-stage process of alchemical transformation described in many  classical texts. Here’s what I came up with:

Renewal

I pick up my book manuscript
my notes, my files,
my hard drives, my flash drives,
my Moleskine, my legal pads,
my audio files, my video files,
my DVDs, my CDs, my CD-ROMs,
my email, my snail mail,
my files in the cloud.
I pile them to the sky in my big backyard
and drench them.

I pour water, but they won’t dissolve
so I break out the alcohol.
Turpentine and witch hazel,
then vodka and scotch.
The pile saturates and wilts,
the papers grow translucent, like tissue, then melt.
The circuits short out,
zeroes becoming ones,
ones becoming zeroes,
or maybe some other numbers the motherboards don’t know about.
Book bindings melt.
Plastic labels peel off circular slices of metal.
And then I toss in the match.

The wood fibers burble.
The plastic curls.
The metal melts.
The smoke rises.
My eyes sting and tear.

I take a big shopvac and suck it all up:
the ashes,
the smoke,
the plastic shining like melted candy,
the metal glimmering like mercury,
the data pouring down from the cloud in a rain of bits.
The shopvac explodes.

My lawn in scorched.
My neighbors are alarmed.
My cats are nonplussed.

Then Noisy comes out to take a look.
The Dude follows.
I even let Pilot Squeaky out, though she hasn’t promised to be good.
They sniff around the edges.
They scratch at the rubble like kitty litter.

Steam rises from the cooling pile.
Particles congeal into a nubbly slab.
Soft like Silly Putty.
Slick like river rocks.
Mottled like fake vomit.

Then the Dude backs up
with a dreamy look in his eyes
and with a squirt
baptizes it all.

Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad [Updated]

Tweets the night of December 25, 2010.

Red-tailed Hawk in flight

Yesterday as we got in the car to drive to the NC mountains, a hawk flew directly over us. Synchronicity – but were we predators or prey?

We made such slow time (because of my new diabetes routines) that we had to motel it. Then today, we had to turn back because of snow.

So was the hawk among the signs warning us to turn back, along with early weather reports & my misplacing my diabetes supplies?

Three hints to turn around: one rational (the weather forecast), one mystical (the hawk portent), one unconscious (my Freudian slip of forgetting).

Synchronicity identifies the interpenetration of models of reality – rational & mystical, conscious & unconscious, yin & yang.

Morannon

Morannon, a stray who came with a tag reading, "I Pee the House."

My cats have higher emotional intelligence than I do. They know when I’m down & come sit on me, but I can’t always tell if they’re sad.

That’s if they’re in the mood to be supportive. They may have other responsibilities, like chasing string or fighting each other.

My cats will let us know if they’re strongly displeased – they’re all loud, and today The Dude peed on our used wrapping paper….

It’s the level of our cats’ ennui that’s hard to gauge. The Dude often looks like he’s got a lot on his mind. He’s a deep cat.

On the other hand, like all male cats I’ve met, The Dude will start drooling if you pet him for a while. The Dude abides.

The Dude

The Dude

So, it seems my cats can sense my emotional state – by smell, by behavior, or by who knows what. Couldn’t a hawk likewise be drawn to me?

Thinking it through that way, maybe the hawk could smell my fear – the stress from the new diabetes regimen & weather report.

So then a hawk overhead is a rational portent: it means something nearby is giving off enough weak, hurt & fearful vibes to attract it.

Redtailed Hawk

Alternately, the hawk flying directly overhead at our exact moment of departure was a complete coincidence – though an improbable one.

One definition of synchronicity is meaningful coincidence. Even if the hawk overflight was purely coincidental, it was still meaningful.

Synchronicity is meaningful because our minds – at levels below conscious control – respond to archetypes. The hawk felt portentous.

We’re bound to attach significance to a numinous moment. It’s beyond conscious choice. The question whether we dismiss our intuition.

I’m agnostic on whether synchronicity just explains human psychology, or also explains quantum physics. But I want to believe.

I Want to Believe

Just to clarify – I found my diabetes supplies an hour after losing them. Would’ve turned back if we couldn’t find them. Fun night.

Clearly multiple reasons for parapraxis (Freudian slip) of misplacing diabetes supplies: not wanting to drive in snow & also not wanting diabetes.

If I misplace things over the next few weeks as I get used to taking insulin 4-5x/day, I’ll have to just set up backups & try not to stress.

My insulin

Unfortunately, diabetes educators tends to emphasize the scare factor: all the ways you can slip into a coma and die if you’re not careful.

When people try to scare me, I react with petulant rebellion – even if what they want me to do is in my own best interest. Hence parapraxis.

I’m smart enough to recognize the importance of my insulin. And hopefully wise enough to treat my moments of petulance with patience.

Channukah Harry (Jon Lovitz) on SNL

New Jewish tradition: tweeting Chrismas night?

RT @ted_friedman: Let’s make it one! What else is there to do (besides eat Chinese)? 🙂

Any of the other Ted Friedmans out there want to join us?

RT @lnakamur: I’m for it. Works for non Jew non Christians too. Part of the war against Xmas?

The war against the “war against Xmas” meme.

As a Jew/Bu with an Xmas tree, do I offend Bill O’Reilly? Must I leave Santa to the goyim? Is O’Reilly anti-Santa? Is he the Grinch?

Jerry Garcia 12/31/76

Just figured it out: yesterday’s hawk was Black Peter: http://ht.ly/3upun

Black Peter is a close relative of the Dire Wolf, whom the British call the Black Dog. #Depression #Death #Mortality #Blues #Trickster

On Black Peter, Jerry Garcia, singing about death, grief, humor & survival, channels another great bluesman with diabetes: BB King.

It’s a straight line from the Dead’s Wharf Rat to Wilco’s greatest moments on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot & A Ghost Is Born.

Inspirational Dead song for this weekend: Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad.

The Dead’s Wharf Rat also has something in common with the Velvets’ drone – Lou Reed & Jerry Garcia were peers in many ways.

Tedwood Forest

Tedwood Forest

Often in Farmville, you open a Special Delivery package, and out flies a bee. Useful for your beehive, but a strange gift to wrap & send.

Also, the back of my iPhone cracked yesterday. Never seen it before – like a broken windshield. Bringing it in Monday.

Thinking of taking music lessons again. Took classical piano for years, rock guitar in high school, jazz piano after finishing the diss.

Was thinking of learning bass this time. Might as well be clumsy on a range of instruments.

I bought a left-handed bass las year after discovering it was my favorite Rock Band instrument. Slow, steady, deep, harmonious, funky.

I’ve also picked up several Grateful Dead song books & a “play guitar in the style of Jerry Garcia” DVD.

I’m also tempted to go back to playing around with my keyboard/sequencer/drum machine. I have a nice Casio & the amazing Groovebox 505.

In the spring of 2000, I’d defended my diss & landed a job. I had time off for the first time in years. I took jazz piano lessons & drew.

Actually, I got back on the piano several years earlier – it was an outlet during the diss writing. Drawing too until my RSIs got bad.

I just pulled out a bunch of my drawing instruction books – really basic stuff pitched at kids. All of whom draw better than me.

It’s frustrating loving music & art so much but coming up so short in my own execution. I’d love to skillfully draw or write fiction or jam.

Actually, I can play passable piano & guitar when I practice a lot. And I like some of my compositions on the MC-505 Groovebox.

So, I’d appreciate any ATL or online recommendations for music and/or art teachers & resources. Feel free to plug a friend – I’ll retweet!

Ted's Labyrinth

Ted's Labyrinth

I might feel self-conscious about tweeting personal stuff if my life weren’t so ordinary. Plus the personal is political yadda yadda

Pretty sure I’ll be tweeting regularly about living with #diabetes. Wonder how many of us #diatweeters are out there.

I was diagnosed with #diabetes almost a decade ago, but managed for several years with just diet & exercise, then several more with pills.

Looks like I’ve coined #diatweeter. It’s an ugly neologism, but usefully short & self-explanatory. Feel free to use the hashtag. Or not.

Peppermint Labyrinth

Peppermint Labyrinth

More things I suck at: Dancing. Sight-reading music. Improvising. Foreign languages. Appreciating & writing poetry. Cocktail parties.

Anybody with skills in any of those areas who wants to offer expertise, I’m all ears. They’re what Jung calls my “inferior” aspect.

Jung says engaging the underdeveloped, “inferior” aspects of the personality is the key to individuation – his version of enlightenment.

Jung’s saying we need to face our fears & desires, to confront & integrate what we’ve repressed. He was Freud’s student after all.

Noisy

Noisy

I wish I’d taken music theory back in Jr High – it conflicted with Hebrew School, I think. I caught up, but it’s not ingrained.

Didn’t mean to imply Scarsdale’s wonderful Hoff-Barthelson music school was secretly anti-Semitic. Think I just didn’t like music theory.

RT @audiation I always got a creepy feeling there, too…

Still regret I started on classical piano & not jazz or rock.

Actually, I did take some fun “jazz band” classes at Hoff-Barthelson in HS. I played a piss-poor rhythm guitar.

Those Hoff-Barthelson piano recitals were humiliating. Little kids half my age kicked my ass.

Didn’t like Hebrew School either. Ended up studying privately with a cantor & chanting my torah part: “for every thing there is a season…”

Don’t think I even heard the Byrds song until after my Bar Mitzvah. Wonder why nobody played it for me, actually.

I gave a hammy Bar Mitzvah speech that began, “What is man? The dictionary says that Man is an island off the British coast…”

Then I had a humiliating Bar Mitzvah party at a video game arcade: I sneezed on the cake when I was supposed to blow it out.

What kind of parapraxis is that: sneezing on my Bar Mitzvah cake in front of all my “friends”? No wonder I was depressed from ages 13-15.

Finally pulled out of my early adolescent depression when I got a learner’s permit & a car. Suburbs with big lawns blow without a car.

2 favorite activities ages 13-15: 1: Paying Strat-o-Matic baseball while listening to Hall & Oates & other music. Preferably with friends.

Second favorite activity ages 13-15: taking the train by myself into NYC to see multiple movies & buy P-Funk vinyl in Times Square.

Noisy

Noisy

RT @catagav: Is it a fear of letting inhibitions go? I’ve noticed dancing and improvising (from music to lies) are easily held back by that.

It’s not just a fear of letting inhibitions go. It’s also a failure to perform with any skill once inhibitions are lowered.

Disinhibitors – from booze to baths salts – help loosen me up, but the stick appears to be lodged really far up my ass.

I’ve meditated for almost 20 years, done yoga for 10, been on multiday silent retreats. But still that stick remains far up my ass.

I’ve been drunk in Dartmouth and stoned in Amsterdam. I’ve jammed in rock bands, jazz bands, and Rock Band. But still the stick remains.

I’m hoping to pull the stick all the way out my ass before I die. Maybe that’s when it goes. When you let go for the final time.

Maybe I’m supposed to melt the stick up my ass: integrate my shadow and merge with the stick. Or pull it out like the sword in the stone.

RT @t3dy: Perhaps the purpose of meditation is something other than manipulation of the stick?

RT @jmittell I’m afraid that the stick might be an inevitable consequence of being an East Coast Jewish academic. It’s in our blood…

Agreed. Maybe the best we can do is get to know our old friend the stick better. Mindfulness. Metta. Maitri. http://ht.ly/3uxg0

I liked a YouTube video — Pema Chödrön explains Maitri.

RT @misssaragran: Random thought: accept and love the stick? (Easier said than done, certainly!)

Not sure. Legend of St. George says slay the dragon – the mother complex.

To All the Brits and Anglophiles Out There: Happy St. George's Day

Can’t decide if slay-the-dragon/mother/father mythology is a) ideological, patriarchal & contingent or b) archetypal & wise.

Subjectively – within the psyche – slaying the dragon means letting go. Dropping the mother complex. Moving beyond the puer. Individuating.

Objectively, the dragon archetype is often projected onto subaltern images: the old crone. The jew. The other. The collective shadow.

When you project your shadow onto others, you think eliminating them would solve your problems. Doesn’t work.

Slay your own demons, then let them go & forgive. Like Buffy.

RT @misssaragran I know, tough call, but sometimes I think you slay by not-slaying. I think fighting something can strengthen it, sometimes.

RT @misssaragran Then again, dragon slaying can be more fun:)

RT @misssaragran I have this fantasy that if you let them go and forgive they slay themselves. But I haven’t seen much buffy, so what do I know!

RT @t3dy one gets into trouble playing games trying to accept things we can’t accept, or accept that we can’t accept.

RT @misssaragran Good point! Big problem I see a lot in the yoga world.

Dalai Lama

RT @soundhunter: I was just reading somewhere that apparently the Dalai Lama has a terrible temper.

What I’ve heard is that the Dalai Lama allows emotions to pass through quickly and fully, whether sadness or anger.

RT @t3dy Is that evidence of success or a rationalization? I dig that he doesn’t pretend to be enlightened.

The Dalai Lama certainly has a lot to be angry about. It’s got to go somewhere, right?

I could be wrong, but I don’t think the Dalai Lama is the kind of scoundrel Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was.

RT @t3dy I don’t think the Dalai Lama’s anger proves that he’s a bad meditator, but that we misconceive the purpose of meditation.

The Tibetan mythos is fiercer than many others. The Dalai Lama never claimed to be a tranquil zen master. Just a pacifist.

RT @t3dy certainly not. I don’t mean to imply that, just making a point about how we want to put meditation+meditators on a pedastal.

Absolutely.

I have seen comments on Amazon blasting the Tibetan monarchy as elitist & complacent. Who knows how ugly that tradition’s been at times.

Here’s the best thing I’ve read on the dark side of American Buddhism: The Double Mirror by Stephen Butterfield: http://ht.ly/3uxnu

RT @soundhunter  just goes to show that if the “gurus” aren’t perfect, followers shouldn’t expect to be either.

Amen to That.

Ted’s Top 50 Comics of the 2000s

Originally posted December 30, 2009

This was a mixed decade for comics. On the one hand, superhero comics rebounded from the “grim and gritty” cliches of the 1990s to newfound creative relevance, thanks largely to the savvy of Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, who recruited writers like Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Millar, Robert Kirkman and Warren Ellis from the indie world and let them run wild on the Marvel universe. Bendis proved to have the best ear for dialogue in the history of the word balloon, and Quesada oversaw a series of crossover events that actually managed to deepen rather than exploit the mythos.

At the same time, the indie bubble of the 1990s popped, as the entire American comics infrastructure shrank in response to overspeculation, insularity, and new competition from manga and the internet. A new generation of personal artists never emerged to follow pioneers like Peter Bagge, Daniel Clowes, the Hernandez Brothers, Chester Brown, Seth, and Joe Matt. Or if they did, they never made it to my comics shop – which these days is a website, since the three stores closest to me all closed down by the middle of the decade.

By the end of the decade, it appears the industry is finally responding to these transformations. Several of my favorite comics, including Freakangels, Bayou, and PVP, are available for free online (although I still prefer to read them in ink). The early attempt to turn Watchmen into a “motion comic” in advance of the movie was a disaster, but the adaptation of Spiderwoman is much more promising. And the widespread recognition for works like Fun House, Epileptic, and Persepolis suggests the space for sequential art outside the comics ghetto may be growing.

Not that there’s anything wrong with the margins. As science fiction began to gain critical respectability in the 1960s and 70s, some SF authors railed, “keep science fiction in the gutter where it belongs!” Similarly, there’s a legitimate danger that the recent superhero boom – capped by Disney’s purchase of Marvel – will dull the critical edge that Quesada, Bendis, and their cohort worked so hard to sharpen. But with great responsibility comes great power. Hopefully, the new creative opportunities opening up for comics artists will give them the room to explore even fresher visions. The recent explosion of work by the astonishing Warren Ellis for indie publisher Avatar demonstrates what can happen when a writer bursting with ideas wins full creative freedom, and finds the collaborators who can bring his visions to life.

Here’s my list of the top 50 comics of the decade. I’ve lumped together spinoffs like New Avengers, Mighty Avengers, and Dark Avengers, as long as they’re from the same writer. I’ve listed the primary artsists who worked with each writer, using front cover credits to decide whether to include inkers and colorists, and skipping fill-in artists. Foreign comics were considered if they were translated into English in this decade.

1 – Epileptic, David B.
2 – The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn
3 – Y the Last Man, Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra
4 – Planetary, Warren Ellis and John Cassady
5 – Buddha, Osamu Tezuka
6 – Stray Bullets, David Lapham
7 – Alias/The Pulse, Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos
8 – Fun Home, Alison Bechdel
9 – Box Office Poison, Alex Robinson
10 – Wolverine: Old Man Logan, Mark Millar and Steve McNiven
11 – Freakangels, Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield
12 – Black Hole, Charles Burns
13 – Desolation Jones, Warren Ellis and JH Williams
14 – Promethea, Alan Moore and JH Williams
15 – Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
16 – The Book of Genesis Illustrated, R. Crumb
17 – Daredevil, Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev
18 – Dykes to Watch Out For, Alison Bechdel
19 – DC: The New Frontier, Darwyn Cooke
20 – Breakfast After Noon, Andi Watson
21 – Top 10, Alan Moore, Gene Ha, and Zander Cannon
22 – Powers, Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming
23 – New/Mighty/Dark Avengers, Brian Michael Bendis and various artists
24 – Fables, Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha
25 – Fell, Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith
26 – Bayou, Jeremy Love and Patrick Morgan
27 – Hate/Hate Annual, Peter Bagge
28 – Pride of Baghdad, Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon
29 – Kick-Ass, Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.
30 – 50 Days of Night, Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith
31 – DMZ, Brian Wood and Ricardo Burchielli
32 – Northlanders, Brian Wood and various artists
33 – Parker: The Hunter, Darwyn Cooke and Richard Stark
34 – La Perdida, Jessica Abel
35 – Eightball, Daniel Clowes
36 – Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga, Koji Aihara and Kentaro Takekuma
37 – Doktor Sleepless, Warren Ellis and Ivan Rodriguez
38 – Reinventing Comics, Scott McCloud
39 – Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, Guy Delisle
40 – Conan, Kurt Busiek, Cary Nord and Robert E. Howard
41 – Marvel Zombies, Robert Kirkman and Sean Phillips
42 – Astonishing X-Men, Joss Wheedon and John Cassady
43 – PvP, Scott Kurz
44 – Local, Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly
45 – Mouse Guard, David Petersen
46 – Courtney Crumrin, Ted Naifeh
47 – 100 Bullets, Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso
48 – Bonndocks, Aaron McGruder
49 – Ultimate Marvel Team-Up, Brian Michael Bendis and various artists
50 – Dork Tower, John Kovalic


Tedcast #3: Interviewed by Erik Davis

The third Tedcast takes a break from my Fantasy & Science Fiction lectures to present an interview with me conducted by Erik Davis. Erik hosts Expanding Minds on the Progressive Radio Network, and is author of numerous books, including a great study of Led Zeppelin IV and the new collection Nomad Codes. Erik and I go back to college, where we worked together on a zine. Here we talk about the Centaur Manifesto, critical theory, and the tensions between being an academic and a public intellectual.

Farmville Mandalas

Tedwood Forest

Tedwood Forest

Ted's Labyrinth

Ted's Labyrinth

MinMax

MinMax

Winter Labyrinth

Winter Labyrinth

Poinsetta Labyrinth

Poinsetta Labyrinth

Carrot Labyrinth

Carrot Labyrinth

Peppermint Labyrinth

Peppermint Labyrinth


Click here for “Farmville: The Garden in the Machine.” In Media Res (December 8, 2010).

The Dude Is Missing in Northlake

The Dude

The Dude Is Missing in Northlake

My cat The Dude (also known as TK Lewis) has been missing since Wednesday. He’s a large tuxedo, with a patch under his chin. He was last seen running away from a stray dog near the intersection of La Vista Road and Bonanza Drive, about halfway between Claremont Road and the Northlake Mall. He could still be in the Ponderosa neighborhood, or he could have crossed La Vista to the neighborhoods closer to Briarcliff Road. If you see The Dude, please contact me at 404-862-2756, or email me at ted@tedfriedman.com, or tweet me @tedfriedman, or just comment on this post. He may have shed his collar, but he does have an ID chip in him that should allow a vet or animal shelter worker to identify him and contact us.

Please spread the message widely on any blogs, listservs, or twitter feeds likely to be read by residentsy of the North DeKalb area of Atlanta. You can click the Tweet This button on this page for an easy form.

Thanks for your help!