Night Writer

Last night I had dinner out with friends

But the best part of the evening

Was the ride home

It was 71 degrees and the night was dark

I had the windows open and the moon roof too

Jazz on the radio at full blast

Seventy miles an hour down the long-lost highway

The wind was in our hair and on our skin

Wow! Said my friend when I pulled in front of her bungalow

At midnight in a screeching stop

That was exhilarating!

Right Livelihood

Buddhism by the Numbers

Right Livelihood

  • Right livelihood is earning a living without needing to transgress any of the Five Mindfulness trainings; not dealing in arms, the slave trade, the meat trade, the sale of alcohol, drugs, or poison, making prophecies or telling fortunes.
  • A job that involves killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying or selling drugs or alcohol is not right livelihood.
  • Making weapons or profiting from others superstition is also not right livelihood.
  • People may have superstitions such as believing that their fate is sealed in the stars, but by practicing mindfulness, we can change the destiny astrologers have predicted for us. Moreover, prophecies can be self-fulfilling.
  • Creating art can also be a form of livelihood. A composer, writer, painter, or performer has an effect on the collective consciousness. Any work of art is to a certain extent a product of the collective consciousness. Therefore, the individual artist needs to practice mindfulness so that her work of art helps those who touch it practice right attention.
  • As we study and practice the Noble Eight Fold Path, we see that each element of the path is contained within the other seven elements.

Based on the Teaching of Thich Nhat Hahn

Photo by: Benn Bell

Requiem for a Used Car Salesman

I lost my brother yesterday, here is what I had to say

Chris Bell with Shaq O’Neal just after closing the deal on a Cadillac Convertible

Eulogy for Chris Bell

Dear family and friends…. we are gathered here today to honor the memory of our fallen brother. We few…we unhappy few…unhappy because he passed away…but happy to be here together to cherish his memory…we band of brothers, and sisters. We will remember this day and our brother long after he is gone and passed.

Chris Bell was a crackerjack car salesman and a closer. And for anyone in the business you know what that means. For him, there was no rock bottom to the life. He was way out there on a shoeshine and a smile and a devilish mustache.

His signature greeting was, “Hey, do you want to make a deal?” Then he would hit you with a killer smile and a laugh to light the heavens like he was Burt Reynolds or somebody.

He was serving his country in the US Army when he volunteered to participate in the Vietnam War. Wartime service is a tradition in our family and we are very proud of that fact. We are a family of warriors. And we all fight the good fight in our own special ways. Chris fought in Vietnam. And there he was exposed to the chemical defoliant Agent Orange which ravaged his body and his mind and robbed my brother of his fortitude and his vitality.

But Chris persevered and continued to live his life as best as he could, the mere shadow of his former self. For he was a man of considerable charm, character, and charisma before he grew ill.

But then again, we are all mere shadows, poor players, who strut and fret our hour upon the stage and then are heard again no more.

We loved our bother and we are sad to see him go…but we know that he will continue on in our hearts and in our memories. And he will continue on in the universe like the leaf that falls to the earth without any idea of its dying and is born again by decomposing at the foot of the tree and nourishing the tree. Everything dies and that’s a fact, but everything that dies someday comes back. Nothing really goes away, and so too, will Chris live on.

The last voyage is the longest and the best. Look homeward, Angel, and may you rest.

Concluding poem (Based on Thich Nhat Hahn’s I Have Arrived)

I have arrived. I am home.

Dear ancestors, dear father, dear mother, dear sisters and brother, dear friends, I have arrived. I am home. I can touch the paradise of my childhood and all the wonders of life. I am no longer concerned with being or non being, coming and going, being born or dying. In my true home I have no fear, no anxiety. I have peace and liberation. My true home is here and now. I have found true happiness.

Rancho Notorious (1952)

Movie Blurb

Rancho Notorious (1952) Directed by Fritz Lang. Starring Marlene Dietrich, Arthur Kennedy, and Mel Ferrer. A western that is part western, part revenge thriller and part mystery and all Marlene Dietrich and Fritz Lang. In this cult favorite Vern Haskell (Arthur Kennedy), a Wyoming ranch hand, seeks to avenge his fiancé’s rape and murder which occurs during the course of a robbery early on in the film.  The only clues he has is a mysterious place called Chuck-a-Luck where the killer is supposed to be headed and a name which might be a person, place, or a thing: Altar Keane. The plot only becomes more convoluted from there. Vern helps the outlaw Frenchy Fairmont (Mel Ferrer) escape from jail and Frenchy leads him to Chuck-a-Luck, a sort of robber’s roost run by the infamous Altar Keane (Marlene Dietrich).

Altar Keane is kind of a dominatrix who holds sway over all the outlaws that hole up at her place and demands 10% of their take in any illegal activities for providing them protection. She dominates all the men harshly except for Frenchy with whom she shares her bed. However, she takes a shine to new comer Vern and that is where the trouble comes in. Vern, for his part has to determine who at Chuck-a-Luck is the killer he seeks. He also falls for Altar Keane. Messy? You bet, but that is what makes it so fun!

Rancho Notorious is full of familiar faces like William Frawley (I Love Lucy), George Reeves (Superman) and stock player Jack Elam. It was originally titled “Chuck-a-Luck,” but studio head Howard Hughes made Lang change it to “Rancho Notorious”, fearing American audience wouldn’t know what Chuck-a-Luck meant. However, it had absolutely nothing to do with the film.

Shot in Technicolor, run time 89 minutes, aspect ratio 1.37:1.

I viewed it on the Criterion Channel. It’s also available on Amazon.

Three Colors: Red (1994)

Movie Blurb

Irene Jacob

Three Colors: Red (1994) Directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski starring Irene Jacob, Jean-Louis Trintignat, and Frederique Feder. The Blue, White, and Red in the movie titles stand for the French Tricolors, representing Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. I just watched them back to back and that is the best way to view them, I think. That way you can see the thematic links between them all even though each film stands on its own. I had seen Blue years before but had forgotten it and was pleasantly surprised as I started watching it and the previous viewing returned to me. Some of my friends like Blue the best but my money is on Red. They are all equally well done. What I liked about Red was the depiction of the parallel lives of the characters and the missed connections. Marvelously well done!