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Showing posts from November, 2015

BUDDHA KNOWS (YOUR PAIN)

Bo knows. If you are unfamiliar with this expression you weren't alive in the late 1980s, or if you were alive you were either comatose or still suckling your mother's teat. And if the super-athlete Bo Jackson knows a lot, then Buddha, the sage whose name means "Enlightened One" knows a lot more. Because six years performing austerities in the forest culminating in 49 days meditating on Ultimate Reality makes a person an expert on just about everything. Modern medicine, on the other hand, doesn't know diddly-squat. Not when it comes to mental illness. Researchers at UCLA have recently declared a war on depression. By throwing billions of dollars at what has become (globally, and in America especially) an epidemic, scientists hope to uncover the elusive cause and cure of the disorder (sadness) which, unbeknownst to them, Buddha figured out twenty-five centuries ago. There are nearly 500 million Buddhists who can attest to this. Few of them live in America. Which i…

WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?

One of my favorite films came is Slumdog Millionaire. The movie came out in 2008, won the Oscar for Best Picture, and is very appropriately titled. It's about a slumdog, in this case a kid who grew up on the streets of India, who is given the chance to appear in front of millions on a Jeopardy-type TV show (actually it is more like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?) where he is asked a bunch of really tough questions whose answers hardly anyone knows. Somehow the little street urchin manages to give the correct response to all of them, winning millions in the process while of course being chased by bad guys. As if winning the show weren't drama enough. It is after all a Hollywood movie. Or is it Bollywood? It has elements of both, and more confusing still it is a British film!

How does uneducated Jamal Malik, the 18-year-old prodigy, accomplish this amazing feat? How does he hit a home run, sweep the show clean, do the impossible? Suspicious minds want to know. He recounts his per…

SHADES OF GRAY

So my friends tell me they are worried about their son. Ashton, who is 5, wants to be a police officer when he grows up. A desire they are eager to dispel, owing to the danger of the profession, and the atrocities perpetrated by members in its ranks. My question: What has been Ashton's exposure to cops? Does he see them on TV or in the movies? Perhaps you have friends in the force? Because a child does not formulate an aspiration out of thin air. It has surely come from somewhere. His father, Sean, said that whenever they hear sirens, Ashton inquires as to their purpose and Sean's response is, "Those are policemen going to get the bad guys." (Which I'm sure he says with pride. Since Sean says everything with pride. He is like Donald Trump that way. No wonder he is a Republican.) And voila! What child wouldn't want to spend his life hunting down bad guys!

This affords a lesson in child psychology. Ashton's desire stems from two things. First, his unrealisti…

ADVENTURES IN SITTING

Thanksgiving is a holiday associated in most people's minds with stuffing oneself on such delicacies as turkey, potatoes, cranberry sauce and, well, stuffing. But what goes unrecognized is the amount of time we spend sitting. There is the commute to whosever's house serves as the site of our festivities, the sitting in front of the TV to watch football, dinner itself, after-dinner conversation, and the car-ride home. Relaxing or exhausting? It depends on your definitions of these terms.

This past Turkey Day, my pal Michael invited me to his sister-in-law's for dinner. I met him at his house at 3 to find him still in the shower, so I sat at the table talking with his mom for an hour till he and his wife and son were ready. Then we drove to Hollywood to drop off an employee, then back to the West Side where the hostess lives. I resumed my sitting position, this time on the sofa, where I chatted with Mike's sister and parents-in-law until it was time to eat. Dinner was ser…

AN OPEN LETTER TO WHOEVER THE HELL BLOODY CARES

I've had about as much as any sane man can take. I might as well speak my mind before somebody gets killed. The tabloids are misrepresenting me. Making me out to be the bad guy. Yes, I slept with the nanny. Yes, I got caught. And yes, this had something to do with the breakup of my marriage. But really, the relationship was already if not dead then on life support. My wife and I were only nominally together, for the sake of the kids! But I couldn't watch my life explode from the outside. I needed to do something.

If I had to designate a date, I'd say that the relationship ended around the time I became known as Mr. Gwen Stefani. This began years ago. The process was slow and insidious. I was once a famous rock star, and a decent actor to boot. I strummed my guitar before thousands of adoring females at Woodstock, and crooned "Glycerine," a song that is not about soap. In my days as a thespian I appeared alongside Keanu in a movie that wasn't all that bad. But …

DREAD OF DEATH, LIGHT OF TRUTH

The psychiatrist Carl Jung once noted that in all of his patients age 40 or older the dread of death was at the root of all psychosis and mental illness. A person's suffering, whatever its shape, form or apparent cause, had fear as its father.

A similar view is expressed in the following passage: "In all stages of the evolution of religious thought in India the description of the ultimate goal of the higher path of religious effort carried with it the dread of extinction of the individual after death." (The Cultural Heritage of India, Vol. 1)

In other words the onward journey to the pure realm of infinity, which has for so long been the goal of the spiritual aspirant, is nothing but a funeral procession to the cemetery, where the individual travels alone, ultimately to become dust and perish, and to lose everything.

If this is the case, why embark on the path? Why not just enjoy life, since death is the ultimate fate awaiting us all?

The soul is complete in itself, within an…

DON'T CUT OUT, CROWD OUT

Much of human evolution was characterized by food scarcity. In the prehistoric past, our ancestors had to cover miles on foot in search of fruit trees, leafy greens, perhaps the occasional dead carcass. Then we developed tools, killed animals for food, domesticated them for their milk, then followed the mass production of grains via the agricultural evolution and the mass consumption of animals via the industrial age. Fast forward to the present and now it is not scarcity that is the problem but just the opposite. We live amidst plenty. The struggle is to avoid consuming too much. Everywhere you turn, vending machine, food truck, cafeteria, market, fast-food joint, etc. cheap calories beckon. And too often, most answer the call and we wear it around our ever-increasing waistlines.

My friend Mike typifies this struggle. A married father of a six-year-old he finds himself approaching middle age, working harder to build his nest egg and therefore working out less. Less physical activity c…

THE 3 BIGGEST HEALTH RISKS

Gotta love those friendly neighbors. Love to hate them is more like it. This one neighbor, a cute little man who lives up the street, is always telling me to put on some damn shoes, probably because the only time I see him is while I happen to be running without shoes. It's murder on your joints, he says. All that pounding. Do you know how much damage you're doing to your body? Applebaum is a retired doctor, as if that qualifies him to discourse on exercise dynamics.
I could argue that all my running-related injuries, plantar fasciitis and hip bursitis and runner's knee, happened before I began running barefoot - the broken foot I suffered came courtesy of the sidewalk, which is 10 times harder than asphalt, proving in this case that the pavement was my enemy - that I have run half marathons and marathons without shoes faster than I have run them with, and more importantly, that running "unshod" is so much fun. I'm a doctor too, which qualifies me to pontifica…

ALIENS IN OUR MIDST

While riding my bike through the hills yesterday I happened upon an alien. She was inside a house, unassumingly watering an orchid placed on the coffee table by the window. We exchanged glances and a friendly nod as I moved on. It was not my first alien sighting. Actually they are becoming more frequent, as in several sightings per day. I see them when I run, I see them when I bike, I see them driving and shopping and eating and talking. Aliens are everywhere!!!

Now, by alien I don't mean undocumented immigrant, though in the hills of Bel-Air there are many of these types. These "aliens" do the gardening, and the babysitting, and the roofing, housekeeping, and the watering of lilies. Because lilies need love too! (Not too much, I've come to find. Just a few ounces of water once a week, be sure not to overwater, and keep out of direct sunlight.) The alien in question did not have dark skin, a squat build and wiry hair, like so many of the Central-, South-, and Mexican-…

ROSES ARE RED, VIOLETS ARE BLUE

Roses are red, violets are blue Sugar is sweet, 'tis true But flowers galore, a whole candy store Cannot contend with a friend like you.
Like you, whose comeliness o'erwhelms All that's beneath the sky Sugar tastes sour, bright leaves of spring flowers Grow pale and fade by the light of your eyes.
In you, the rain and shine combine You giggle, and sometimes at the same time, you cry But your sweet smile, your laugh of a child Wipe away all trace of tears gone by.
How I've wished for a friend like you Ask and thou shalt receive Throughout life's terrain, our friendship shall reign Try and we shall succeed.
This poem's a rose, I picked it for you With a bow and a kiss upon your fair brow If ever we part, you reside in my heart True friendship for you is my vow.
As sure as roses are red, and violets are blue As sugar is sweet and diamonds, so few As two's the sum of one plus one So certain's my love for you.
My Forever Friend.

THE TREE OF LIFE

My love is like an apple tree That's sprung from summer's seed My heart is like its ruby fruit That buds to be plucked free.
By your sight's light my heart grows ripe Your glance my branches warms With your caress my leaves are dressed And with your kiss I'm formed
Formed by the Lord to shun the fruit Which to good and bad gives life Though life's hours are oft-times sour With me, more sweet than strife.
Pluck me, touch me, eat me freely Each bite vies to reach inside The more you taste the more awaits In feeding you, I fulfillment find.
I, your tree of love divine I, your tree of life You, the apple of my eye You, my darling wife.

THE LOVER'S PLEA

Come live with me and be my Sweet Together we'll Love's pleasures greet Through sands of time, in rain or shine If this, my plea, thy mind may please.
We'll rise at dawn to sing a song A song of praise to hail the day To our song's sound I'll spin you round Your grace displayed in golden rays.
Into green fields that blossoms yield Doves leave their nests to crown your head To sea we're borne, where on the shore Your garland of seashells I'll thread.
Then will we raise a place to stay A retreat that our each need may meet Stone by stone we will build our home To breed our company to keep.
We'll lay us down on sacred ground And gaze as night takes place of day Our lips will touch, our faces flush As our bodies exchange embrace.
As eyelids close, and breathing slows As sleep conveys our seasoned legs Our minds will fly, our spirits rise To dream of all we've made today.
A day in life, our Day of Life The bride of my day-life are you Come live with me and be my Sweet And we will …

THE KING

There once was a great king. A conqueror of countless countries, the protector of many people. Schooled in philosophy and skilled in combat, he was bold of body and mighty of mind. Virtuous was he, and conscious of his vices, which, though few, he kept in check, for he was their master, not their slave. He was magnanimous with his minions, good and kind. As a rival he was valiant and fierce, and as a ruler gentle and just: for above all else the king had a good heart.
One day in the twilight of his reign, while engaging in open discourse with his subjects (as was often the case) the king was asked a very curious question. He was asked if, at any time during his reign, he ever felt fear. The king was silent for a moment before responding: "Since succeeding my father, himself a laudable leader, to the throne when I was twenty-five," he said, "I have fought many a bloody battle, some of which nearly cost me my life. In battle I faced many a fierce foe, and witnessed terribl…

THE WRITING LIFE

Happy anniversary to me, happy anniversary to me...

It's been twenty years since I decided to become a writer, give or take. Actually my foray into fiction began with an aborted attempt at a novel when I was 21. That was back in '94, which would make this my 21st anniversary. So I've come of age. Not really. Twenty years, twenty one, who is counting years when the pages pile up so much faster!

That first novel was inspired by my relationship with then-girlfriend Isabella. We had met my senior year of high school and began dating in college. As part of the wooing process I promised to pen a novelized version of our courtship dating back to high school, with some dramatic twists for effect, and maybe some poetic embellishments. Not that her character needed many. Isabella was a foreign-born heir to a fortune with a wastrel father who had introduced his children to street drugs before they were old enough to see a PG movie unattended. I took a leave of absence from UCLA, where…