Friday, November 21, 2008

This is a picture of my dog, Arden. I am too swamped today to walk him, but at least I get to honor him with a picture on this blog. Somehow I don't think he thinks this is a good trade-off.

My DVD is finally finished and available. You can get it on or from or at Amazon doesn’t have it as a possible in-your-hands-date until Dec. 11th even though I shipped them the DVDs. I'm breathing a sigh of relief that the finishing of it all has been accomplished. It’s done, done, done. Also, if you’re interested, you can view the trailer, the audience q & a, and the audience interviews on YouTube. If you go to my website, and look under “Stuff I’m doing” and click on Letting Go of God – you’ll get the mini-web-page for the DVD and a pointer to the extras on YouTube.

I'm still in the after-glow of Obama winning the presidency. I'm ooing and ahing over each cabinet nomination. I have been convinced that Hillary Clinton is a good pick for Secretary of State, even though foreign affairs seems to have been the topic on which she and Barack most diverged. But I think Hillary was making herself out to be more of a hawk than she really is. She had to prove she could be tough and aggressive as a woman, and that is one way to flex your muscles. I’m hoping she does eventually become President, after eight years of Obama. I also hope that she can remake the Secretary of State job into something that she can use to promote herself as President even though history has not been kind to Secretary of State presidential bids. But we’re in a new era, and she can recreate that role.

There are numerous things regarding the Obama Presidency that I’m chewing on and mulling over, but one of the most inconsequential and picayune (and yet real) is this: , Barack Obama is younger than me. By two years. Two years younger! Seeing what he has done with his life has made me reassess all my own life choices. For example, when Barack was at Harvard Law school I was spending most of my energy on guys and parties and writing skits. How was he so smart to marry someone else so smart, so young???

Obviously, I didn’t choose politics, but I just marvel at Barack’s skill at sizing up the playing fields within various institutions and coming out a winner. I realize how much younger, emotionally, I was, how naïve I was, how lacking in ambition I was in my twenties and thirties. I don’t feel bad about myself, I’m glad for all I’ve done. But Barack’s ability to excel just takes my breath away. He does his homework. I kind of tried to fudge my homework an hour before class.

The other thing I am thinking is that… wow… I’m middle aged. Really middle aged. In the middle. I have spoken about this with many of my friends and most of them seem to be going through the same emotional readjustment – we are older than our President! It used to be that old white guys were president. Now it’s a younger half-white guy. We are thrilled, we are supportive and we all could care less about skin color – but age.? The age thing! Younger? How can this be?

The last time this happened to me was when I began to notice that soldiers were younger than me. It was just the same thing. Soldiers were older men who fought for us and defended us. Suddenly they weren’t. They were younger guys who even looked like teenagers. Then we realized that many of them were teenagers. It was a shock.

I am starting to go into overwhelm as I get ready to move. The books in the living room are packed, but not the hallway. I have drawers full of old mail, receipts, half-written letters. I’m having to face all of it. It’s like going through your own dirty laundry and having to smell each piece of clothing closely. YUCK.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The protesters to Prop 8 are surrounding Saddleback Church (Pastor Rick Warren – The Purpose Driven Life) and the Cathedral downtown and the Mormon Temple in Westwood – and I think this is just awesome. These religious organizations gave millions to support Prop 8 and I’m so glad it’s getting riotous now. I want their reputations damaged over this. The writing is really on the wall in terms of gay marriage – it’s going to be law sooner or later. We know from the election that people under 40 voted overwhelmingly against the Prop that banned gay marriage. Time will make their wishes law as the older people die off -- that sounds so callous, but it’s true. I’m so glad that these churches are reaping the social damage that they have inflicted. I even suspect they don’t even care that much about two people of the same sex getting married anyway. I think this issue is being used to galvanize people toward their churches. But I think instead, they're alienating their future parishioner, forcing their base into a shrinking corner.

I am writing all day today and then doing a benefit tonight at the Geffen Theater for Autism – see I am reading a few pages from “Letting Go of God.”

The picture of the day is of the three pumpkins that Mulan, Michael and I each carved for Halloween, dressed up in wigs and a hat by me and Mulan.

I packed three boxes of books last night, my first step towards moving day (which will be mid-December.) It felt good. I don't know why I don't have sad feelings leaving this house. I mean, I think I SHOULD feel sad. But I don't, not one bit. I just want to move. I'll be back here eventually - I'm renting the house while we're gone, which may be years. So maybe knowing that I will return makes it easier. On the other hand, when I think of even selling this place now - I don't think I would feel bad about that either! I have so much junk in my house that I'm exhilarated to be getting rid of, it's hard to work in my office when I really want to be filling boxes with things for Good Will. Everyone should move every ten years just to force themselves to confront their shit. Why do I keep so much junk? I want to be free of all of it!

My brother-in-law is visiting and yesterday afternoon we went to Baby Blues Barbecue in Santa Monica - simply the best BBQ anywhere. I ran into my business manager who was there with a friend who is a Baby Blues Barbecue fanatic. I have left-over ribs in the fridge. They are calling out to me, even now.

Tomorrow if Veteran's Day and Mulan is out of school. WHAT THE HELL!?!?!? Now that I am a parent, I am against all random one-day holidays.

Letting Go of God, the DVD, is available on Amazon and they've already ordered over a hundred copies - even though the DVD won't be shipped until Friday to Amazon and isn't officially available until Nov. 21st. This is great. Clips and interviews and some behind the scenes stuff is going up on UTube later this week.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Like everyone else, I am breathing again. I am exhilarated. I am giddy, I am relieved, and I am a little concerned about my new internet-news habit. I went from, only a few months ago, being a person who read the articles on few-times-a-day to an impulsive online checker of the Huffington Post, Politico, The Daily Beast and others. I thought that once Barack won, I would calm down, but no, I have not. I am becoming obsessed with a whole new cast of characters. I knew who they were, like Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod. But now I am oh-so-much-more interested. I am reading their Wikipedia entries, mulling over their life choices as I shop at the grocery store. It’s like West Wing is now Real Life!

I can’t write much, but I wanted to post something. I was so overwhelmed election night I got up and watched Obama’s speech again online and then read the text again in the morning. Brilliant, simple, eloquent, moving, perfect. I only wished for one thing that wasn’t there. When he said America was a country of black, white, asian, gay, straight– and then disabled, etc… I wished he had added religious and not religious. But I don’t want to criticize. I am so happy he is our new President. What a relief.

I am surprised at how much the weight of President Bush being our embarrassing and terrible president had on me. It’s all lifted now. I know, Obama hasn’t started yet and he will surely have an uphill battle and will make some false moves and all that – but what a RELIEF! I am over the moon. I am asking myself things like, “What would Obama do?” when it comes to personal and professional matters in my own life!!! I admit this is over the top. But I think that what impressed me the very most over these last few months was Obama’s temperament. As a person who works in Hollywood, when every script or character choice is all about maximizing emotion and pizzazz (most of the time) it’s nice to be reminded that being quiet, determined and forceful is a great way to win. I began to see McCain’s temperament (minus the backstabbing dirty politics) as me at my worst – emotional, impulsive, without researching enough, and Obama’s temperament more like the one I aspire to have: methodical, un-ruffable, plodding, thoughtful.

And how satisfying is Palin’s fall from grace? Is that bad to be giddy over it? I love that Obama didn’t have to do anything at all, she just revealed her true self and it was terrible and I was so glad! I know that doesn’t reveal my most charitable side, but GOD THAT WOMAN. I admit to relishing in her lack of knowledge about Africa being a continent and not knowing the countries in NAFTA. I admit that it’s petty! I love that she hanged herself. She did it all to herself. Oh, lord, it is true after all Character Is Fate.

I could not be more satisfied. Well – I hope Al Franken gets in, but all in all, I am really happy. Well, prop 8 won, that was terrible. Really bad. But it is all a matter of time for that one, I think.

p.s. my brother told me yesterday that Sarah Palin named her son Trig, Trig Van Palin because she is a Van Halen fan and... I guess rhyming Van Halen with her name is some sort of tribute. That gave me many good laughs yesterday. My friend Chris said if she was a true fan she would have done that with her eldest child and not waited so long.

p.p.s. The picture I posted (blogs always seem so much better with a picture) is of an American Girl doll bed that my friend Julia made for my daughter Mulan for her birthday. Mulan is best friends with her daughter Coco and there is much sadness about the fact that we are moving at the end of the year. The adults involved are all gaga over the bed, more so than the kids. We change the arrangement of the pillows, we turn the bed from winter time to summer time spreads, it's all very fun.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Thanks for all the notes. I’ve already ordered “The Feeling Of Being Right” from Amazon and read the article on the preacher Bess on Salon. The thing that bothers me the most about Sarah Palin at the moment is not her tanning bed, it’s the comment I read about her utter lack of curiosity when it came to managing the city and then governing the state. She didn’t care about policy or respect people who were actually doing the hard jobs. She devalued all of it.

I’ve had to take Excedrin P.M.s every night for the last five nights. I am so angry at John McCain. I am so livid with him. He is so careless with our future and so desperate in his own ambition that he has thrown us, possibly, to the wolves. He knows better too. He used to the Republican that knew the dark side, and now he’s joined it. You would think people would get some perspective with age, but he got less of it.

My favorite thing is reading how candidates or candidate’s wives have to revise their “narratives” as new facts come to light. The one I have lately enjoyed is that Cindy McCain used to say that Mother Teresa was at the orphanage when she fell in love with her soon-to-be-adopted daughter, and now she has had to revise it to the orphanage being one of Mother Teresa’s orphanages because Mother Teresa wasn’t there. I read a lot about her drug addictions and how she got her pain killers. God, it’s so bad! It’s really so bad. I mean if this were a screenplay, I would be saying that we couldn’t make the other party be so bad, so completely bad, it would be too unbelievable. But this is real life!

Anyway, let’s get back to Sarah Palin’s lack of curiosity. That is THE unforgivable sin, I think. Bush is not curious either. Facts to these people are simply bits of information that can be used or discarded depending on what they want. There is no spirit of inquiry. There seems to be no true interest in learning anything.

Is it bad that I am gleeful about the banking industry melting down? I heard on Marketplace today that the Lehman Bros. CEO got 40 million dollars last year. They were lamenting pay structures that reward people based on profits over a very short period of time. The commentator was saying that these bonuses should be based on ten years or even twenty years of management that shows growth. The way it is now, there is no incentive to make the company profitable over a long sustainable timetable. That’s the Bush administration. That’s the Republican party right now, doing anything at all to win in the short term, screwing us all just to stay in power at any cost.

What about the morality of the media trainers who have surely been with Sarah Palin non-stop? I am so offended by the lack of morality of these people. Frankly, I am outraged. Why isn’t someone stepping forward? I don’t want to read the books that will be written years from now about these people saying, “Yes, Sarah was an idiot, I had to work with her non-stop to get her up to speed – even just a little bit. But I didn't know then how bad it was going to be.” It’s so immoral of them! Where are the Republicans who can’t stomach it anymore? Why aren’t they talking?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

That SNL opening Sarah Palin/ Hilary Clinton sketch last night was one of the best things I’ve ever seen on that show. They nailed it. It was everything it should be and more. I hope that sketch is YouTubed to oblivion and the message is actually heard! I hope every news show repeats it. I hope everyone watches it at least twice (I watched it three times in a row.) OHMYGOD, Tina Fey nailed that accent. I am having hope! Amazing, I am having hope for the country from an SNL sketch. But really, truly, I do I do I do.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The problem with accepting the general lack of intelligence of the public about politics and government is that you are left with feeling cynical. I accept that this is the trade off. Either I believe in the basic decency and innate intelligence of people and then am constantly upset and disappointed, or I think most people are idiots – get a better night’s sleep, but go on my dog walk in the morning and feel superior and cynical. I am not used to feeling this way. Of course I am painting this in extremes. But it’s unsettling.

I got a GREAT night’s sleep last night. I imagined John McCain in office. I tried to accept it in my mind as a possible outcome. Hey, I’d probably sell more copies of Letting Go of God! People’s righteous anger at the establishment would be fueled more with a Republican!

Hmmm… Sooooo not worth it.

And now I’m feeling slimey. I am not used to this cynical way of looking at things – at least not this DEEPLY cynical. I am going to try to take the weekend off from thinking about it.

For the first time I really, really wished I were still on SNL because Obama was going to be on it tonight. But now this is cancelled because of the hurricanes. Apparently he will still appear before the election. I loved the View ladies with McCain, although I thought they let him get away with way too much! They asked tough questions but then they let him spin it too far into his schpeel. He repeated the ridiculous assertion that Palin was referencing Abraham Lincoln when she spoke to her church about the war.

It made me fantasize about the moment when Palin’s media coach came to her with that idea. “You know, maybe you were really just referencing Abraham Lincoln at that church. He said we should be not be praying that God is on our side but that we are on God’s side.” I want to slow the camera down, I want her to blink in a close up. What went through her mind? Is this just a game to her? Did she have any moment of self-reflection at all where she thought – wow, that’s not what I meant, but that will sound good. Is there any cognitive dissidence at all? Is she aware that she’s lying? Is there any type of jerk inside her when she repeats this to people?

My husband says he doesn’t think people who are religious know the difference between praying that God is on our side and praying that we are on God’s side. Wow. Is that possible? He said, that’s the genius of Abraham Lincoln. People who actually understand the difference between those two things are probably skeptics. But it sounds appealing to religious people, it appears humble. OH!!!!!! I wish Charlie Gibson had asked her, “What is the difference to you between those two Abraham Lincoln statements about God?” THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN SO GREAT.

In any case, I was so proud of the View ladies. It just underscored how the media in general is so light handed. Everyone I know is talking like the View ladies are talking, and Jesus Christ, we are talking about the VIEW LADIES. These are main stream people!!! It was such a breath of fresh realistic air to have them asking McCain questions like they did, even if they didn’t follow up the way I wanted them to. Just that they were asking was jarring – we are not used to this on TV!

All right. I’m going to try to let it allllll gooooo today. And yes, of course I wish I were still on SNL and ten years younger and Tina Fey wasn’t there and I could play Sarah Palin. But Tina is going to nail it. I am so excited to watch tonight.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I was up a lot last night, AGAIN. Really, I am so overwhelmed and upset about this election, I can’t sleep. But I wanted to quickly point to a blogger on the Huffington Post that I stumbled upon at 3:00 a.m. that I felt was finally speaking honestly about what was going on and what Obama and Biden had to do to win. His name is Joseph Romm and he is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and also oversees this blog: I spent two hours reading everything I could but there are two posts he has that I think are really, really good. I just hope someone at the Obama/Biden campaign headquarters is reading it too.

At read Joseph Romm’s “Can Obama Win With Only Half A Message And Half A Ticket?” and another great one is “Obama and Biden Go Back To A Losing Message” written on September 8.

One thing that really struck me in the first blog was that he said a classic Democratic mistake is not realizing and accepting that the mainstream media is not going to police truth in any meaningful fashion. Their next mistake is thinking that the voters who matter now are ones that actually pay attention to traditional media. Basically Romm’s saying, the voters that need to be galvanized right now are not people who watch “Meet The Press.”

He goes on to explain how Obama and Biden have to come up with names for McCain and Palin that reveal the truth of their deceit and are easy to remember. He suggests Me-Too McCain or the Made Up Maverick, and Slick Palin.

I really became a fan of this guy Romm between 3 and 5 this morning. I went to his and read a lot of his stuff there too. Why did this make me feel better? I mean, he shouldn't be making me feel better because he’s saying really scary things, not only about climate but about how psychology works and who wins with what message and why. I think I felt better because he makes so much sense and he has a strategy that I think could work. He's about accepting the truth and winning and not wishing the whole game were different than what it is. When I take his ideas and play them out in my mind on the dumbest people I know, it seems like it might work!

I’m really tired of complaining about how unfair the media is handling the coverage of the candidates. I am tired of talking to people who feel just like I do. I only want to monitor things that actually might mean something in the end. And this guy is talking about accepting the media for what it is and what it does. But also about how, even on this totally unfair playing field, Democrats can win. Obama and Biden have to stop taking the high road. That doesn’t mean they should take the low road – it just means that they have to take a savvier, smarter road to the White House. They have to take McCain’s “Maverick” moniker and turn it back on him. “Me-too Maverick” is great! And it’s accurate. McCain has changed his positions on so many issues. “Slick Palin” is great too – and it’s true!

I want to stop giving all my outrage and energy to being angry about how uninformed the general public is about politics. That someone like Sarah Palin can even be popular indicates a seriously ignorant populace. But I am not complaining about that anymore, or I’m going to TRY TRY not to. It’s such a waste of time. So – the facts. People in America do not want complicated politics and they want easy to understand politicians who seem like they aren’t any smarter than they are. Okay. That sucks, but OKAY. I accept that. I am going to try to stop bitching about it. I want Obama and Biden to get more aggressive and more slogan-y, as much as it makes me cringe, they have to do it.

Oh, also - if anyone out there is not reading this already, I point to George Lakoff's article here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I can’t shut up about Sarah Palin and I have a blog so I guess I don’t have to.

So, I just watched a couple of clips from the ABC Charles Gibson interview with Sarah Palin. It’s going to be broadcast over the next few days. They have two clips up on the ABC website.

In the first clip Gibson asked Palin if, when McCain asked her to be Vice President, if she had any pause, and if in fact she felt ready to be – not just Vice President, but President.”

She said, “I do, Charlie” (It irritated me that she kept calling him Charlie – injecting the diminutive of his name over and over again. It began to feel belittling even if that is what everyone calls him.) Then he said, “You didn’t say to yourself, do I have the experience, the international experience to be President?”

Palin answered, “I didn’t hesitate. I answered him yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing you can’t blink. I am committed to reforming this country and victory in the war. You can’t blink and so I didn’t blink then even when asked to be his running mate.”

Okay. That SO reminded me of George Bush. In fact, in this interview, she seemed more like George Bush than ever. George believes in belief. He believes in confidence. He over-values readiness and willingness to take on “missions” and “wars.” He sees himself as a person who can stand tall and respond when God calls him. It’s very much derived from religion and the idea of being God’s servant, ready to act.

Furthermore, I don’t want a Vice President (or President) that doesn’t blink. That is a VERY SCARY Vice President. She thinks she’s singing her own praises, showing how quick to action and committed she is, but she’s really showing her lack of personal reflection and her inexperience. Especially now, after having a President who doesn’t blink for eight years, we see what not-blinking can do. It’s easy to feel called and ready to be part of a sports team or God’s army or something, but it’s very hard to make complicated international and national decisions. Religious material is full of stories where God calls upon someone and like Mary. The moral of the story is showing Mary’s willingness, her readiness. Saints do not blink. Soldiers do not blink. In those arenas you cannot hesitate. Not blinking probably made her a good basketball player.

But not a statesperson.

The second clip was about God and war. Gibson quoted herself back to herself at her church and said, “You said, ‘Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God.’ Are we fighting a Holy War?” Palin remarked, “But the reference there is a repeat of what Abraham Lincoln said, that we are never to presume to know what God’s will is. And I would never presume to know that. And that quote is a repeat of Abraham Lincoln and let us instead pray that we are on God’s side.”

Okay. AGHHHHHHH. Okay. First of all, are we to believe that she knew about this Abraham Lincoln quote and that she meant to be referencing him? Well, I guess we are being asked to believe that, since that is exactly what she said. I find that remarkably hard to believe. First of all, what she said is nothing whatsoever like what Abraham Lincoln said. She said, “U.S. Soldiers are on a task from God.” That is not even close to saying that we should be praying that we are on God’s side. Does she mean that she meant to be dropping Lincoln's name in and just forgot to credit him? And then said something not even remotely like what he said????

She has learned well that way of just making associations in her response that have nothing to do with what has been asked her. In smarter, defter hands, this works well. To a certain extent, every politician must do this. But to me, it wasn’t artful and it was way, way too extreme.

Overall I got the feeling that she’s not very bright, although that does not seem to be a requirement for this particular position at this particular time. She doesn’t think and speak, she just comes out with the answers like a kid who has been preparing for a test and knows every answer and just how to say it beforehand. I don’t think that’s necessarily bad, I’m just saying she looks vulnerable to me. She looks like someone that could be quite interesting if the right reporter got a crack at her. She also, more worryingly, seems like someone who is not an independent thinker – both those things, not independent, and not a thinker. She gets by on charm and I think the press has got to get aggressive, certainly as aggressive as they were with Hilary and any other candidate.

Also, I have to say, I have hope. I think things could get very interesting in the next few weeks.
Okay, I feel better now. I am off obsessing about Sarah Palin, at least for now anyway. Now I am much more enveloped in the news that we have been carrying out clandestine operations in Pakistan without the government’s awareness. I’m trying to read more, but my knee jerk reaction is that Bush and his guys are those kids on the playground that just cannot solve any problem without hitting someone. I am fearful that something will happen before the election that will ensure a scared population running into the arms of it’s brave war veteran. Which reminds me, how about how McCain ended his convention speech like it was a rally of prisoners of war who just had to focus and overcome? That was weird. I could see why he was a person who survived in combat and a war prison. It was almost a maniacal look in his eye. But honestly, that is the last quality that we want in a president. And now he’s coupled up with a religious conservative. These are two scary ingredients in our increasingly possible presidential soup.

Yesterday I edited together (well, my editor edited, I sat and commented) the audience interviews that were done after the filming of “Letting Go of God” over a year ago. They are so good! I am so moved to have had people say such nice things. On the movie front, it looks like Showtime is buying the rights to play the film for a year and there will be a “premiere” during primetime (that means between 8 and midnight) sometime early next year. But in the meantime, I have the right to distribute the DVD on my own. Which means that finally nothing is stopping me but just getting it out there. I was planning to release it in November (at least in my latest calculations) but now I am going to try to get it out there as soon as I can. Maybe by mid-October. I am sorry there’s been so many ups and downs with this. I could write reams about the indie-film process, but I’ll spare you. Looks like a quiet little personal release and then when the film is on Showtime I will do national publicity then. Or I mean, try to anyway. Everything is so different than 10 years ago, it’s like a whole different world out there. I have gotten a few letters from people asking that the film have Spanish subtitles. This is a good idea, but may slow me down in terms of getting it out. My husband then suggested Latin subtitles, which made me laugh really, really hard. Latin subtitles!!!!!!!! That is hysterical. But jesus, now I have to find a Latinist. And all for the laugh of seeing the option on the DVD menu. But I think it might be worth it.

Okay, back to what I am not obsessing about. The most condescending thing about the Palin nomination is that McCain is banking on the fact that political and national and international problems are too complex to be simple. And Palin draws in the simple thinkers.

We did not evolve brains that easily grasp worldwide intangible problems. It’s not easy for us to see far into the future and far back into the past and check our emotions and behave rationally – at least not without discipline and effort. We evolved brains that loved gossip. And the thing about Sarah Palin, her nomination and what it did to me, is that I fell for it. I got caught up in the gossipy junior-high aspect of it, even in my outrage it was a qualitatively different emotional surge for me than the regular outrage I have about politics. It DID feel like I was in high school. Although I have to say, I don’t even think I did that in high school!

When I pass all the gossip rags at the newsstand, I always feel sad about how many of them there are, how acceptable it is for grown men and women to read them. And yet it worked on me. And on many more people than me, too. In a way it doesn’t matter if we hated her or loved her, we were drawn in – captivated, unable to look away, fascinated. Sarah Palin has drawn in a whole group of people who would otherwise not really care that much. And even among those of us who do care already, we were hoodwinked by the drama.

In any case, I am still reading everything, listening to everything, hoping against hope, calculating odds, the whole gamut. I guess to me that is not obsessing, it's just... intense interest. HA.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I am obsessed with Sarah Palin and that is probably exactly the wrong reaction to be having because it is exactly what THEY want me to be doing. What they want us all to do, obsess over this woman and forget that there is actually a real election happening.

I can’t write much tonight because I am beat and I need to write something cogent and at least logical. Now is not that time.

I cannot keep myself from listening to the radio news, reading every single thing that appears, and in between hyperventilating about it all.

I had a dream about Sarah Palin on the first night that she was announced by McCain as his running mate. We were all at SNL. Everyone was around the writer’s table: Jim Downey, Christine Zander, Al Franken, Dave Mandell, the whole group I knew so well. We were trying to crack a sketch about Sarah Palin.

The sketch was about Sarah driving a mini-van filled with her children. The child with Down’s Syndrome was in the front seat in a bassinette. The police began to follow her. Sirens roared. She was angry, she tried to elude them. She drove faster and began to curse the police in her rear view mirror. She said, “I’ll get you.” And then she put her finger on a red button right next to her seat. It was the button that started nuclear war. But then one of the police drove his motorcycle right up next to her driver’s window and yelled, “Your dress, it’s caught in your car door!” And she said, “Oh! Oh!” She pulled her finger off the red button. She laughed, how embarrassing, to have your dress caught in the door.

We knew this sketch wasn’t all that funny. It needed something. We couldn’t figure out what.

And that was over a week ago. There have been many sleepless nights and weird dreams since then.

I thought Sarah Palin was a joke at first. Then I thought it was great, McCain had thrown in the towel. He clearly didn’t care if he won or not. Now I’m angry. It’s so cynical. And condescending.

So much has been written about it. But there are some things that I particularly hate. I hated the way McCain said, “I can’t wait to introduce her to Washington” at the convention. It was so… I don’t know, fatherly. Or weirder, like a date would say about a hot chick he found and wanted to show off.

It’s strange to think that tomorrow it will be seven years since 9/11. We had the sympathy of the world. We had our dignity and morality too, pretty much. We could take the high ground. And all that reputation has been blown away. Squandered.

Here’s another thing I hate, I hate how Sarah Palin makes me feel. I hate my knee-jerk reaction to her. I hate that I have to talk myself back into appropriate responses.

For example, my first response to learning about her was that she should not be a Governor because she had five children, mostly young children, and had just had a baby with special needs. I am glad she was able to have that baby with Down’s syndrome if she wanted to and could afford to, emotionally and financially. But why isn’t she taking care of it? How could she be taking care of it?

I am embarrassed for having that reaction. Maybe it’s really about me. I have one child and I can barely work. I don’t know how mothers like her do it, I honestly don’t. Every working mom I know, I become obsessed with how they pull it off. I want to know the details. What about homework, what about school volunteering, what about lessons, what about problems with the lessons, how do you teach them about this or that.

Then it occurred to me that Sarah’s husband may be a stay-at-home husband. I was relieved, and angry at myself for thinking all those kids were just her responsibility. Clearly they had some system worked out. Clearly he was at home all the time.

No, he isn’t.

Then I was even angrier at myself. I had to talk myself down. So what?! So what!!! What if she is a great mom? What if she has a great nanny? And what if she isn’t? What difference does it make? Why don’t I think about that with guys? I admit it, I don’t. I feel terrible about this. I really think that women should work and be parents in whatever way they can manage. But I had to talk myself back into my higher, feminist self. Or… now that I’ve brought up the word feminist – what the hell does that mean anymore?

When her daughter was revealed to be pregnant, I thought – Oh, now she will drop the hockey mom part of her speech because, god, it’s so embarrassing. She’s a hockey mom and her daughter is pregnant by a high school drop out hockey player. You know what the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is? Pit bull’s daughters do not get knocked up by hockey players. But no, Sarah kept using that line – that lipstick line, that line that is apparently now branded to her so that anyone else referencing lipstick in any way must be referring to HER. A

I just hope I come down off this crazy roller coaster that McCain has sent me on. It was deliberate, diabolical, daring and it has worked, absolutely.

All day today I was thinking, “Ladies, Sarah Palin is not our friend.” I am astonished it has gotten me so deeply. I would never EVER have predicted that. I am aghast at McCain’s cynical, political and yet oblivious choice. I am holding my breath until November 4.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Well, I believe I’m taking a blogging break. I am in the midst of writing two other things and I am so preoccupied with them that I am incapable of blogging at this time. So, I’m taking a possibly long hiatus.

There have been some changes in future projects. I won’t be releasing “Letting Go of God” on Sept. 15th on DVD. There are some other possibilities in the works, including a limited theatrical run and a cable sale, and I need to fully look into those before releasing the movie. I’m sorry, this is just the way of self-released material I think. (BTW, the film did very well in Seattle at the film festival and got more attention than I anticipated it would. In fact, it made it to the top ten movies out of 400 entries in their ratings system, and that was after only one screening – the other films had two. In any case, I was made more optimistic about a wider type of release after Seattle.)

Jill Sobule and I are currently planning to open our show at the new Largo site – at the Coronet Theater in L.A. in late September (not late August as previously thought) on Sundays. That is in development.

I point you to two other blogs and an article that friends of mine maintain and which I feel are very, very good.

My dearest friend Jim Emerson’s blog about movies (and sometimes other things too) at:

My very good friend Chris Marcil’s blog who is reading the Harvard Classics and blogging about it daily. Look for the June 12th post where he compares Thoreau to Jonathan Richman and then adds a Richman video which is great. (Richman is also a friend, so I love anything with him in it – but the association with Thoreau is a good one.)

And here is an article recently posted by another very, very good friend, Kathleen Murphy,

This is an art site and she wrote a really brilliant article about “Last Year at Marienbad” – a movie which is apparently playing in Seattle at SIFF later this month. The article is about “Last Year” but it also about movies in general and it makes me want to stop everything and go watch movies with Kathleen for about ten years.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Okay, I'm in Seattle. I'm here for the Seattle Film festival. My movie, "Letting Go of God" is in the festival. It plays tomorrow night at 6:30 and on Sunday at 4:00.

For the next few days - until Sunday at least, I guess, my trailer for the film is up on the Seattle Film Festival website.

It's a hard slog - first you have to go to, (EDIT THAT it's then find my movie - look under the Friday schedule - then go to the trailer. they will want you to download some software to watch it. Then it lurches through it - so I suggest you let that happen and then start it over to watch it. Of course, this is so much effort, it is for the die hard interested person. But I am telling you - go look at it! I am so happy about how the trailer came out. After this, I'm not going to have the trailer available until the DVD is ready to sell, which will be around Sept. 15th. But I am optimistic about how the trailer may help the movie get exposure. they say. See how my lingo is so "biz" nified. ha.

Anyway, I'll try to post while I'm here to keep you up to date on how it's going. I just spent time in the hospitality suite with my producer, Maria. Lots of good appetizers in there! And interesting people. It's fun to be here.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

I just got back from a really quick trip to New York. I was the keynote speaker at a Cancer Day event in Great Neck, New York. Thankfully, I am fully recovered from my terrible cold and my ears were cooperating on the assent and descent of each flight.

The coordinator of the cancer day event, who was lovely and made it all very easy for me, is a Hilary Clinton supporter. We spoke about her speech today – which I only saw in bits and pieces. I still wish Obama would have her run with him as the vice presidential nominee. And not just because it would make a funny show. There was something so genuine and hard working about her speech, about her campaign overall – it transcended everything I was previously angry about. Call me mercurial, that’s how I feel. For now, at least.

Also I watched Kathy Griffin on Larry King last night in my hotel room. She is a friend of mine, and I really do like her a lot, even though I think her comedy is not always so… well, kind. But ohmygod she was so DAMN funny on Larry King last night. She was running circles around him. I think they are going to re-air it on Sunday night.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Yesterday I pitched a TV pilot at a studio. And as I was leaving the lot, I thought, “I want Hilary to be Vice President.” Why? Because it would be such a funnier show!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Come on! Hilary? Cute and ardent, sincere and conniving, smart and studious – and then her sidekick Bill coming in from the kitchen? He would get the biggest laughs. Obama constantly frustrated by them and Michelle hating Hilary but having to act nice. This show is a hit! Not half as good of a show as if Wes Clark were the VP.

I actually have been feeling better about Hilary lately. I think I have defensive feelings for her when she is down. I actually do admire her. I liked how much fun she was having in Puerto Rico campaigning. She said it was the most fun she’s had since the race started and I believed her. I do think it’s weird that she is suspending her campaign. That is odd. What is she going to get out of that? It seems very withholding-ish to me.

Wednesday night Mulan and I saw Aimee Mann perform at Amoeba on Sunset. I got her new CD. It’s really worth buying. I also saw Sam Phillips – coincidentally, serendipitously, at Borders performing one hour after Aimee. I liked seeing her too – and I got her new CD as well. Not as good though, I have to say. Maybe it will grow on me.

The trailer is done! I don’t know when it’ll be out there, but at least we finished it.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

This topic is too broad. I’ve been meandering between topics and writing late at night. Not always bad, but now this conversation is too wishy-washy and vague for me to even follow (and I’m referring to my own post!)

So far it’s about favors done with expectations in mind, it’s about political and/or power maneuvering for good or ill results, it’s about places where people of very different views can interact. And in spite of the fear that this post will continue the broadness of the topic, I have one thing to say about each of these ideas.

1.) I understand that we all interact with each other, personally and professionally, expecting that the favors we receive or give are part of a big exchange that will net us better off. I agree with Norma, when it is overly pre-meditated or specific to one favor or act it becomes artless and distasteful. The people who are the best at it either do it instinctively and unconsciously or they are keeping in mind the larger picture. Which means: if they lend this band saw to their fellow church member, they may not get that exact person to give them a favor back – but in the long run, probably, someone will. This is where this idea intersects with religion. (Yes Norma, you got it.) I thought that all my good will would be rewarded by God. I was nice because I thought some big guy in the sky was watching. I didn’t need someone to be nice back, because I guess I thought the payoff was in the afterlife. I think I’m still nice, but now I have to rethink everything. Why am I? Because I want to? Why do I want to? I think in general “being nice” (whatever that really means) pays off. It has for me I think, in tangible ways. In any case, this is something I have been mulling over ever since I lost my faith in God and let go of the idea of ultimate justice or ultimate reward. Recently Michael said to me, “Maybe you aren’t so nice. Maybe you’re just a pushover.” I was so floored. I think he might be right.

2.) On the political front, yes. This tendency of ours to maneuver our resources to gain power has yielded good and bad results. Probably mostly progress. Well, maybe. One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is water in Los Angeles. I only recently began to read about Mulholland and the Los Angeles water wars and the draining of the Owens valley so that L.A. could have water. Why did Mulholland do it? Why did the city officials do it? Was it ultimately the right thing? As I said to Michael recently, “Everything I know about water in Los Angeles comes from seeing ‘Chinatown.’” Jeez. And I’ve lived here for over twenty years. Now I want to know all the grizzly details. While I paddle around in my swimming pool. And the sprinklers water the grass so I can luxuriate in it after my swim.

On political maneuvering - a personal anecdote: I remember once when I was performing at the Groundlings and the executives from Saturday Night Live were scouting the place for new talent. And one of the other Groundling actors said to me with a smirk, “I’m sure you'll do well, Julia. You really know how to work the political system around here.” I was so shocked. I didn’t think of it that way. I just thought I was doing the best job I could, hanging out with the more talented performers because I liked them more. But now I look back and think I was so unaware of my behavior. If I had to do it over, I would have probably been MORE political instead of insisting to myself that I wasn’t and didn’t care and that this was beneath me. I think I am in a state of arrested development in this area. Later on, once I was aware of my ambition (however meek it was comparatively) my actions were awkward and patently obvious. I wasn’t that good at it. I wish I were better, and I want to get better at this.

3.) On the topic of places where people of different views can interact: I loved Sheldon’s post about living in central California in between conservatives and liberals. I think I would probably feel exactly the same way! I have problems with both of those ideologies. I recommend that you read this month’s issue of Wired which talks about organic food (among many other things) and making truly good choices. Often the organic choice is the worst one – it was shipped from far away, for example. When conventionally grown produce that was grown locally has a lower carbon footprint. The only thing I have to say about this is that I probably do live in proximity to a lot of people with very different views from my own. On my own block I think there are several more conservative families, but I just don’t ever talk to them about politics. Or actually, anything. It is true that I avoid conversations about politics with people I disagree with – in general. I wish I were more comfortable with it. Well, I guess I did "Letting Go of God." I guess that's how I can be confrontational, on a stage where I can have my say!
All day, when I haven’t been working, writing my pilot, I’ve been turning over this idea in my mind about doing favors for people expressly so that they will do favors for you in the future. And even though I know, yes, I know this is the reason we are social creatures at all, even though this is – at least – the unconscious understanding between people when one does a favor for another, (I am not so polyannish as to deny that) but still, I’m telling you, IT CREEPS ME OUT TO THINK OF IT LIKE THAT.

I was so thankful for the comment about not doing things for people unless you wanted to and not expecting anything in return. I do feel I am like that. I think I am like that. I don’t want to NOT be like that. I hope I am like that.

I was thinking today about how that’s what commerce is, that’s what money is. Our way of making sure we get what we expect to get. I mean, that’s not about community. But still, it’s in this range of ideas I’m mulling over.

I know this is all too broad a topic. And I don’t even have that much to add to it. But after I wrote the last post, I thought – the example of the Seattle Film Society friends is just one example in my life. Of course you must have known that. But I didn’t want to elevate that example, nor denigrate it. I appreciated the comments about a church being a place where people of similar common interests reside. That is true too.

But I will say that the only Republicans I know – almost – are from Spokane, and they are people I grew up with. Not all of them, thankfully only a few of them. The Catholic Church there is probably the place where I would come across people with very different worldviews and different political views than myself. It would be a place where I would have to bowl with other people who did not share my views.

I will get that book, “Bowling Alone.” I also heard an interview with an author of a book called “The Big Sort,” which is out now too and I think its dealing with the same topic. A phrase I heard from the “Big Sort” author that resonated with me was, “as we surround ourselves with others who have similar opinions and worldviews, it’s good for individuals, but not so much for the larger community.”

But jeez. Even though I wanted to move to Spokane for a long time, that doesn’t mean I want to spend my time arguing with conservative Republicans. That seems like such a time suck. It’s so boring! I would rather argue about the finer details of something else – not those nauseatingly simple ideas that I find myself arguing about with these people. I would probably find other people in Spokane more like me and hang out with them.

But this is what I’m turning over in my mind now. How much does awareness influence your behavior in this realm we are discussing?

In some ways, maybe it’s good. Awareness makes a person smarter; you understand the complexities of human exchange – whether social or economic. On the other hand, doesn’t it sort of ruin it? Isn’t it better for the band saw to be offered with no expectations for a return favor? But if a person does this, is this person just being naïve and childlike? But then, doesn’t awareness of this make you somehow, a little bit even… conniving?

I just listened to a part of a radio show today on KCRW called “In The Biz” or something like that. It is about show business. It’s a good show. Two authors were being interviewed on the show about a book they wrote for aspiring movie, movie, movie what? I guess movie power-people. And it was about how to work the “assistant” job in Hollywood so as not to be a sucker and to use the job to gain power and influence. They had a thing about how you could tell if you were a “career assistant” (which in their view is a fate worse than death.) One of the ways you could tell if you were going nowhere was if you had the urge to buy cupcakes for someone’s birthday; a person was of lower status or equal status to yourself. They derisively laughed at that idea.

Oh my god, I would never have made it in Hollywood.

Except, I kind of did.

At least to me, I did. But I swear, I never did stuff to get ahead. I was not ambitious in a strategizing kind of way. If I even became aware that I was, or should be, it never felt right.

You could say that this is why I spent an hour tonight with a guy who is cutting my movie trailer practically for free in his off hours. Then I drove home home underneath several two-story-high movie ads for Mike Myers' new movie. And I’m not saying that Mike Myers was more ambitious – well, he was definitely more ambitious – but… I’m not saying that people who are enormously successful are conniving. Not at all. In fact I know several very successful people that... wait, do I? Hmmm...

But I do seriously wonder if they are just smarter and more at ease with human social exchange than I am, and more comfortable with what it takes or something.

Oh god, this sounds like I’m a sad sack. I am not. I feel great. I like my career, I would not chose any other career for myself. I'm proud of my work and I am proud of my life in general, too. There is no wishing it had gone differently. Not every day is so rosey, but I will admit that just today, I had a feeling come over me. I was as happy as I thought it was humanly possible to get. I worked on my pilot, I took my daughter to gymnastics, I worked on the trailer edit, I’m married to a guy that is so much kinder, smarter and funnier than I would have ever dared to hope for. Life is awesome.

But listening to that radio interview today, coupled with the conversation we seem to be having here, it just made me think about this whole idea of exchange. Being in social groups where exchange is expected and looked for. Not just of ideas (which doesn’t bother me for some reason) – but of services.

I have a friend who joined a business group. They were meeting every week and then using each other’s contacts to enhance their business. It was so creepy to me! I mean, who were those other people? How good could their recommendations be when they met the person at a business promoters-gathering.

I thought of another tangential thing and then it’s the end of my rambling.

I have an old friend who came to my house once (I have lived in the same place for sixteen years now) and she said, “Great piece of property!”

I couldn’t stop thinking about that for almost a year. I made jokes in my head about it all the time. “Great piece of property Sweet Great piece of Property” “Great Piece of Property is Where the Heart Is” “Toto, I just want to go to my Great Piece of Property.”

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The band saw effect.

Wow. What a great comment (on my last blog entry.) I have been thinking about it all morning. I think I did understand that, but had forgotten the whole concept. It made me think about my own personality too – and how much that does not resonate with me. What I mean is, when I first read that, my initial thought was: It’s going to cost so much more than $600 for that band saw! You are going to have to be this person’s friend now and they are going to ask you to their next barbecue and then when you go -- when you really don’t want to go --you will have the further frustration that this band saw-person thinks they did YOU a favor by inviting you to the BBQ! When you NEVER wanted to go in the first place. Now you are in a relationship with this person and you will have to hear about this and that and they are going to start sucking your blood and you will eventually be trying to avoid eye contact with this person when you go to church and then even what you got from church is now compromised by this crazy band saw person!

And then I thought, what a horrible person I am. And then it sent me down this rabbit hole of thinking – like what am I? Someone who doesn’t need anybody? I mean, that is really not true. I do need other people. But I think, for me – maybe because how I was raised, but maybe just because of my innate personality, I don’t know, but for me, people always wanted me to do things for them. I saw people, generally, as weak and me as strong (I don't know if that is really true, but it's my knee jerk reaction) and I was always worried about what they were going to expect from me. When I went to college, I wanted to go where I didn’t know anyone. I wanted to go to the biggest college I could. I wanted to walk around all day long and not know one single soul. And I did, and for a couple of years, I often had two or three days a week when I was on campus and didn’t talk to anyone. I felt like a I was in Rome or Paris, I could just watch people.

But then I became good friends with a group – because I wanted to, because I probably needed to. They were great, they are all still good friends. I joined the Seattle Film Society and worked with the organizers who all became close to me, in fact several of them were at my wedding a few weeks ago. And we do things for each other – read scripts, see shows and comment on them. Jim Emerson, one of these people and one of my closest friends, has often been such a person-with-a-band-saw for me – in terms of his opinion on work that I’m doing. When I think of the band saw analogy – I think what I mostly need in a pinch, that is very expensive because it’s so rare – is someone, someone who I respect’s -- opinion. Those people are few. They would not necessarily be found at a church, although they certainly could be.

So, I guess what I’m saying is, it’s really the group. It’s the church group. It’s those people I have a basic problem with. And yet that seems so arrogant to write. I feel that it sounds superior and that is embarrassing to me. And I’m sure that all those people at church have other groups of people too that they use to find band saws when needed and also enjoy because they have a common interest.

I guess that’s it. A common interest. I don’t think it’s enough for me, the random gathering of people at a church.

Often people ask my why I’m not a Unitarian – because you can be part of a church and not have to believe in God. But when they say that, I think, “I already have too much to do! I am not looking for another social group to be part of! I am trying to be in fewer social groups.”

I am such a curmudgeon! But I think for me, what I got out of Catholicism, what made it hard for me to leave, what added value to my life was… well to be honest, it was the art of it. It worked for me the way good art is supposed to work. It took me out of my little self and put me in context. The image I get is not of individuals, but of a whole community – the way, for example, Who Ville is portrayed in The Grinch. I liked the feeling of being in community where the faces were blurred but there was a sense of humanity, I liked the music (Bach masses still send me tears and throw me out of myself, it’s almost as if a crane shot is built into every Bach mass) I liked the ritual.

But now I get that from other places.

But, but, but… What about kids? Like that Catholic woman on the plane said, she didn’t join a church until she had kids. Why? She didn’t need a support group of families before then. She is attempting to make the world a smaller and more recognizable place for her children, and for her, being Catholic delivers that.

For me, well, I guess I must admit that I understand that. I have a group of parents that I am friends with. One family in particular that I can count on in an emergency. Other families too. We met because our children all attend the same school. We see each other like a church too – the science fair, the international fair, the winter concert, etc.

So I guess I’m thinking, why can’t that woman get what she needs from the school system? Or in her quilting group? Or her skydiving group? Or at the local art museum. Why does it have to be at a place where you are required to sit through a bunch of complete bullshit and inculcate hogwash into your children’s worldview, crippling them as critical thinkers for their whole life!

All right. I’ll calm down. Ha. Wow, I got so fired up there.

p.s. I re-spelled Kluge correctly in the last post. How embarrassing!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

I am on a very strong antibiotic. I am on the mend, I think. I had to sleep part of the night in a chair last night because I thought I was choking and my lungs felt like they were collapsing. I have learned three important things from this illness.

1.) As soon as you feel sick, stop exercising.
2.) Don’t get on a plane.
3.) Get enough sleep.

I know, I’m a genius!!!!!

Something I’m reading: “Kluge” by Gary Marcus. I recommend it HIGHLY. I had a binge of economics/biology book buying. I got “Nudge” by Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein, which was okay. Then I read “The Economic Naturalist” which wasn’t that great, more like an interesting set of explanations… sort of. But then I read “Kluge.” OH it’s so good. And elegantly written to boot. It’s about how our brains evolved, what our weaknesses are because of it, how the oldest part of our brain can take over, for better or worse results. And the book is short, I read it today. And I am reminded again how impulsive we all are. And how critical thinking is something that is acquired, not innate. Even though evaluating cost and expense of any given opportunity is innate, it’s just that we aren’t naturally good evidence gatherers. We have horrible confirmation bias, we tend to be unrealistically optimistic, and we can be overwhelmed by visceral experiences – seeing someone attractive and sexually available, the smell of food, the over-response to a scary story in spite of statistics. Anyway, I recommend this book SO much. I already think it’s on my Christmas book list. Maybe by then it will be in paperback.

I am about to start reading it again.

Here’s the thing I wanted to blog about.

This week, on the plane back from Portland, I listened to a conversation between the two people, a man and a woman, behind me. They hadn’t known each other before the plane ride. I could make out that they were both religious. He said he was a retired psychologist that worked for a church organization – which one I didn’t catch. She said she was Catholic and proud of it. She told him she converted to Catholicism as an adult. He asked her why. (You can imagine that at this point I was pressing my ear between the seats so I could hear…) And she said, “Oh I became Catholic because our kids were getting ready to go to school and I there was a Catholic church and school nearby and the people there seemed really nice and like the people I like to be around, really family oriented. And my husband was raised Catholic, so he liked it.”

This reminded me once of another plane conversation, this one with someone I was sitting next to, and actually in the conversation with. He told me he lived in Salt Lake City, and in fact he had just moved there four years before. Then somehow it came out that he was Mormon (I might have asked him this point blank.) I asked him if that’s why he moved to Salt Lake City. He said no, he set up a business there. For some reason, I guess, it was a good place for his business. Then he said he converted to the Mormon church after he got there. I said, “Why?” He said, “Well, when in Rome… And people there are all Mormons and he wanted his kids to be like the other kids around and it was good for business because everyone else he was dealing with was Mormon.

First of all, I give both these people major points for honesty. I think they were speaking the truth. I mean, you could argue that the Catholic woman was telling her pragmatic side of the story for being Catholic rather than her religious reasons because the person she was talking to was a psychologist from another church and maybe she thought it would be too disagreeable to say something like, “I am a Catholic because Jesus is the Son of God and he appointed Peter to be the first Pope by saying, ‘On this rock I build my church” and the current Pope is the mouthpiece of God now.’” So I could see that even if she felt this way, she might not have said it, because it wasn’t such a neighborly thing to say.

But my hunch is that she really is Catholic because of the reasons she said and not for any other reason. And I think the Mormon guy on the plane a few years ago is Mormon for exactly the reasons he told me and nothing more.


Now if someone asked me why I was an Atheist, I would probably go into a long and boring account of why I don’t think there is an ultimate designer in nature and get into some philosophical reasons why I think there is no God.

Imagine if I said, “Well, a lot of really cool people are Atheists. In my neighborhood everyone is reading Dawkins and Dennet and Sam Harris and I want my kid to be accepted by their kids so that’s why I’m an Atheist.” I think the other person would be floored. I think they would immediately write me off as superficial and shallow and I think they would be right to do that!

But I suspect if I challenged the religious people on the plane this way, if I said, “Wow, how cooly pragmatic that answer is.” I think they would be really offended and think of me as persnickety and holier-than-thou (how ironic!)

On the other hand, I thought of it this way. What if my answer was “I am a Catholic.” And when they asked why I said, “My family was Catholic. I became accustomed to Catholic ritual. It is a comfort to me. I like the architecture, the medieval overtones, the outfits of the religious, and I especially love the music, in particular Bach.” Would that be less superficial? Because I could see myself saying that if I had not become a-religious.

So, I just thought I would throw that out there. I think it’s interesting, is all.

Friday, May 30, 2008

I can’t believe I’m sick AGAIN. I just had the flu in January, and now I have a hellish cold. It’s hellish in that I feel almost well for about an hour a day, just long enough to convince myself that I can go on with life as usual, only to find that no, I am slogging through with clogged sinuses and ears and weepy eyes (weirdly stuff is like, leaking out of my eyes, and it’s not tears because I am not unhappy, I am PISSED that I am sick again) and I can’t taste anything.

You would think not being able to taste anything would be a boon to someone who wants to lose a few pounds. But my reaction to not being able to taste anything is a strange desire to eat constantly - everything, anything, just trying to get some amount of taste.

It’s as if my appetite isn’t really so much about calories as it is about getting satisfactory taste and flavor and when that function is compromised, I have this urge to try and try and try to get that taste and flavor. So I eat thousands of calories and hate every bite. ARG.

I went to Portland on Wednesday and did a question and answer session, along with a little talk about creativity and “believing in yourself” and skepticism at this very famous advertising firm: Wieden & Kennedy. I loved the building. And the people. It was all great and fun -- except for the constant sniffles.

That night, I did an hour and ten minutes of “Letting Go of God.” I got to do this in a church! That’s the first time that’s happened and what a treat. The audience was welcoming and listened and was very supportive and open and I was really honored to be there.

Except I probably shouldn’t have been, because I began to lose my voice and I coughed a lot and ICK. Oh! I shouldn’t have shook people’s hands. I thought I was on the mend, I didn’t have a fever or anything. I feel awful about that.

So I came back to L.A. yesterday – the plane flight was excruciating, my ears have still not recovered. And I cancelled my trip to New York for the World Science Festival for this weekend. That just kills me. Just kills me, I tell you. I was even meeting my mother-in-law there and she was already in the city.


I also found out that in spite of our greatest wishes, the radio pilot I did with the CPB (Corporation for Public Broadcasting) did not get funded. I had such a great time working on that and really wanted to do more of them. My producer, Mary Beth, is not giving up and we have a lot of interest from some other public radio places, and I guess there is a window even for going back to the CPB – possibly – at some future time – for funding… but… oh… oh…


It’s hard not to think about completely reorganizing your life when you are sick and have gotten a few pieces of bad news.

Like, I need to slow down. I need to focus on a few things and do well on them and stop this running around doing shows here and there. I need to stop going to conferences. I need to finish my book, write my pilot (the only well paying job I have right now) and get this movie launched. I need to get really tough about accepting invitations.

The thing is, my appetite is so big. Not just with food. With everything, I always want to do everything. I want to be a mom, I want to write books, I want to do my stage show all over the place, I want to create TV shows, I want to be ON TV shows. So I’m spread out all over and I’m constantly frazzled.

All right. Enough of the pity party. I am going to get well and write more some other time.

Monday, May 26, 2008

This is a quick note before I begin more regular blogging.

The show in Ridgefield, Connecticut was cancelled. They hadn’t sold enough tickets. I feel a little bad about it. But on Wednesday night I am doing “Letting Go of God” in Portland, Oregon for 850 people, so my defenders say that this is all due to poor press and publicity. In any case, I am really fine about not doing the show there. It takes a lot of effort to do the show, and now that the movie is nearly available, it seems that the movie should do the work from here on out. I really feel bad about the people who did buy tickets, but I guess they will be refunded.

In the meantime, I am doing an appearance at the science festival in New York City this weekend. Portland on Wednesday, then off to New York for the weekend. That seems like it’s going to be really fun. I’m also planning on attending some of the other events as well.

I really got wiped out by the wedding, which was more wonderful and meaningful than I imagined it would could be. Thanks so much for all the well-wishers! I’m still recovering from it.

Other news before I call it a night:

Jill and I plan on opening the “Jill & Julia Show” sometime around August 23 in Los Angeles. We are hoping for a several-month run through the end of the year. This is why I also cancelled the Iowa “Letting Go of God” show. I knew we would be up and running the J & J show, and it would take me out of two weekend shows in order to do that show. Basically, except for readings, I have stopped performing the Letting Go of God stage show.

On the movie front, I am really excited about the movie premiering at the Seattle Film festival on June 13. Seattle’s Women in Film are throwing me a cocktail party after the Friday screening, which is really nice. Today I worked with my graphic designer on the poster for the movie, and I really like it. The trailer is basically done too. I’m really tickled with it – I got a great producer to make it, it’s very good.

My website it really out of date, and I promise that I will update it in the next day or so.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I’m taking a blogging break until May 10. I’m getting married May 3 and I have so much to do and so many conversations to have, so much lighting to supervise and napkin folding style to decide upon – and you know, I have to admit, I love this wedding planning – I love the whole thing, the lists, the costumes, the choreographing, the seating, the big shebang, I really love it. It’s like producing the ultimate show. And I’m co-honoree and co-host, what could be better!?!

But I did want to point people towards the website I have a little show on NPR (you know I knee-jerk always say NPR, but I mean Public Radio) for Earth Day, April 22, and I’m not sure exactly how many stations are playing it – I do know it will play in Seattle, Spokane (I had to have it play there, c’mon!) New York and I haven’t checked where else yet. We are hoping this is the beginning of a regular show on Public Radio in a year or so. In any case, you can download or listen to the show for free if you go to the website.

Take care! Thanks for stopping by! If you want to chat, go to the forum (you can get there off my website – it’s hoppin’!) And I love the section where people tell who they are and what their story is, I read every one of those and I feel so lucky to have people write posts there. Do it!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Okay, as of today, I am officially anti-Hillary. I have held out. Most people I know really can’t stand her. I was always quick to add that if she were the nominee I would support her. But after last night’s debate, how she was pushing things all out of context, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I really hate what she’s doing, and I feel her worst self is being revealed. Now, if she does become the nominee, I would vote for her. She is far better than McCain. But I am not a real supporter.

The way she is relentlessly pounding on Obama about this off-hand remark about bitter people, the way she is going after him about his pastor’s remarks, it’s just embarrassing at this point. It really made me angry.

My NPR special, “Home Sweet Earth” which is 30 minutes long, will air on several Public Radio stations on Tuesday, April 22. We are in the process of getting the website up. You will be able to download it for free from the website after Earth Day, April 22.

I can’t help it, I want to write a doctoral dissertation on “The Real Housewives of New York City.” I can’t go into it here, I am running late, but OHGOD that show. How interesting it is. How people’s memories are revealed – how inaccurate they are. I hope those women see the show and realize how they misremember things. We all do this, but it’s so stark and embarrassing on that show. On the other hand, I have affection for those women! I really do. I also read that Bethany’s boyfriend Jason was fired from his financial president of an investment company job because of appearing on the show. WOW. The thing missing from the show was how the show affected the show and the people. I mean, these women wouldn’t know each other at all except for the show. And the show obviously was pushing certain behaviors and situations. I don’t even think that’s bad, but it’s part of the show too – the show. There is something deep and witty there I cannot think of right now because I’m running late. More later… Oh! And the Pope! What about the Pope and Bush?!? And how they hate "Relativism." Yes, for them, making the world black and white, good and bad, keeps them in business.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I went to Café Press and I ordered an Obama sticker for my car. I guess that’s it. I’m in for Obama. I actually loved what he said about bitter people turning to religion and guns. Of course, I see it the same way. Oh I hope he wins, I really, really do.

I decided to take off the bumper sticker that I have had on my car for a long, long time now. It says, “Imagine no religion” with a rainbow on it. Before Mulan even knew what that meant she knew our car amongst all the other white ones by the rainbow on the back.

Once I got my car serviced and the mechanic gestured towards my bumper sticker and said, “You know some people could take that the wrong way.” I said, “No, I that’s the way I mean it.” He squinted his eyes at me. I was glad my car had already been fixed.

The only thing bad with having an anti-religion sticker on your bumper is when you intentionally or even inadvertently slide in front of someone a wee bit too close or you are speeding ahead or getting around someone and I think they must think, “See, no religion, what a jerk.” But mostly I get positive feedback. I have several times had people gesture to me to get me to roll down my window so they can tell me they feel the same way about religion. Sometimes I am not sure if they are actually taking it the other way, like, how awful would it be with no religion. Anyway, I liked it's abiguity and I liked it's reference to John Lennon too.

Now I say good-bye to it. I loved my rainbow and my “Imagine No Religion.” ( I got it from the Freedom From Religion Foundation at a conference.)

I could have both bumper stickers.

I guess I just want one bumper sticker on my car. When I see people with lots of bumper stickers, I think the stickers better be REALLY funny ones, or they’re nuts.

Now I feel that Obama and I are going steady. I’m committing to him, His sticker will adorn my car.

What's next? A sign on my front lawn?

That's too far and too fast for me and Obama for the time being. Let's just take this one sign at a time. First the car, then possibly the lawn, then - maybe a... T shirt.

Eventually I will send money to the actual campaign. OHGOD, I hate myself! That's terrible. But I can't afford that level of commitment at this very moment.

Oh Barack, can't you just accept my wee bumper sticker for right now? I can see in your eyes you want me to send you actual money, but I am not ready yet, I'm just not ready, darling. Let's talk about it later. Don't pressure me with your great speeches, taunt me with your veiled derisive religious comments. I will fully commit with money eventually, I swear! Just.. for now, let's celebrate the fact that I ordered a bumper sticker from Cafe Press. I know, I know, I didn't order it from your own campaign website. But my darling, Barack, your stickers on your website aren't that great. They have this eighties look to them, the bright blue and everything. I got the one with the peace sign made out of the "O" - that was way cooler, don't you see??

Last Saturday at Mulan’s school they had a “Culture Day Fair.” There were booths all over the playground representing different countries and selling little trinkets to benefit the school. My friends Lesley and Dave managed the China booth and they sold these little red lanterns for one ticket each. Each ticket cost one dollar.

The people running the Korean booth came over to them about half way through the fair and said, “We’re selling the same lanterns but for two tickets each. You have to raise your price.”

Lesley said, “Hey, we represent China! We will not be undersold!” Dave said, “There is no price fixing at this fair!”

The people at the Korean booth slinked away. They didn’t lower their price per lantern, exactly. They began to sell two lanterns for two tickets. You couldn't buy just one lantern.

I loved that. There was so much for Mulan to learn at the fair about business! But she was mostly concerned that her hip-hop dance went off well. (She represented the USA, I guess.)

I noticed though, that some other parents, I think in response to the Chinese booth, had put up a Tibet booth. It had books about the Himalayas and the Dalai Lama, but nothing to sell.

It was a lonely booth.

People just walked by and looked away. Oh yes, Tibet. Yeah. That place. Oh, dear.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

It was a busy week and lots of things are brewing but I can’t talk about them yet.


I can’t stop thinking about all those children taken from the fundamentalist LDS ranch in Texas. I haven’t even read or watched very much about it, I just keep thinking about those kids. They must be so scared. They are taught the outside world is evil, this is a terrible fear they are constantly hearing about and now it’s real and right “out there.” I wonder about the older kids and if it’s too late for them to have any sort of normal life. I think about how many compounds like this one were not found.

I am also thinking about our evolution as a species – an alpha male with several females is part of our genetic heritage. So, think about it. How many communities like this one have there been? Of course, those ones in the past didn’t necessarily have the religious zealotry that this community had… has. But still, it’s a lot to turn over in one’s head. And that’s what I’ve been doing a lot this week.

Also, I think about what I learned from Robert Wright’s “The Moral Animal.” As I told Robert Wright when I met him at the TED conference a few years ago, The Moral Animal fucked me up! It was very profound, and then became the gateway book for me to read all kinds of other socio-biological types of books.

Anyway, Wright argues that enforced monogamy protects men more than women. He asks the reader to imagine a graph where every man and woman are linked as mates. Then he writes (and I would quote him, but I can’t find the book – if you can believe it I still have not re-organized my books after last year’s May 5th filming of Letting Go of God! Argh!) that you should further consider what happens when one of the males links to another female who is exclusive to him too. One man gets two women. Well, there’s a man left out. And so on. So that when a group is comprised of one male who dominates the breeding of several females, then several males are left out. And then he goes on to talk about how detrimental this can be to a society – how less violent men are who are in relationships, etc. Then he goes on to show that women, if they could take a mate that is already mated – or engage in polygamy, she is better off and the children of the first mate are also better off because they are not shunned by the second mate. I don’t it’s theoretically true that women are better off after you are wife number #4, #5, and so on, but still -- it was an amazing theory that I could understand in general and went completely against everything I thought that I thought about this subject!

So, then Wright argues that laws favoring monogamy are really for the benefit of men, those men who would be left un-mated if polygamy were allowed. And monogamy laws are good for society in general, but maybe not so much for that extra female or two a powerful male could acquire if it was lawful. But then he goes on to show that this actually happens anyway, and that rich and powerful men often take a series of wives and have two families or sometimes even three.

In any case, it made me understand polygamy in a new way, and it made me a defender of monogamy in a stronger way too.

Last night Mulan was asking me if the police didn’t sleep and stayed up all night in case something bad happened. What if something happened in the middle of the night and they were asleep? So I was explaining what the “night shift” or the “graveyard shift” was. She was wide-eyed and amazed. And I could tell she was a little bit scared and wanted to know that if something terrible happened, the police would be awake and able to help her.

I think this was because she had just gone over to our neighbors who have a 4 month old baby and she had come home on her own (one house away) and the porch light was burned out. This was her first time to approach her own door in the dark like that. (I was actually watching TV in the living room, ten feet from her, so it wasn’t all that terrifying or unsafe – believe me…) In any case, talking with her about it, seeing this fear of night and not being protected, even the little glimmer of it, made my heart break for all those kids who were taken from that LDS ranch. I mean, of course I think they should have been taken, HAD to have been taken. But they must be terrified. Oh dear, oh dear.

My last thought for this April Saturday morning – and then I have to go wrangle Mulan out of bed – is that I no longer apologize for liking Bravo TV’s “The Real Housewives of New York City.” I am mesmerized. I am totally a Bravo TV supporter at this point. And I even like the new “Step It Up” – the dance reality show. Mulan said last night, after we watched “Step It Up,” “Bravo is like the best channel ever.” That might be true right now. I have no real cable loyalty, but these shows are really impossible not to watch and then actually get sucked into – to the point where I actually know what night it’s on and look forward to it! Curses! I never thought that would happen!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Okay then, a diary!

Today I cleaned the kitchen. The hard part of the kitchen. I mean the – all those papers and pens and old sticky-notes-with-some-piece-of-important-information-on-it kind of stuff. It was awesome. I am totally into organizing. I love to organize and I can’t keep it up. I completely go through some area and set it up for optimal organization and then let it all slide for six months.

Mulan went through all her old school papers and we reduced it down to 20% of it’s original size. YES!

Now that the Jill and Julia Show is done for the time being, (we think we'll open the show for real in later August or September) I am concentrating on writing my pilot and working on wedding plans. That’s it until the end of May when I am traveling. I am going to this Science Festival in New York at the end of May, just before I do Letting Go of God in Connecticut. I would post what I’m doing there, but it’s a bit up in the air. I should find out the dates for the Seattle Film Festival soon too.

Tonight I’m going to a friend’s house who has a screening room and occasionally has parties. We are going to eat pizza and watch “Bonnie and Clyde” which I haven’t seen since college.

Wow. Charlton Heston died. I didn’t know that until just now. He hosted SNL while I was there and he and Al Franken had the most wonderfully enjoyable contentious relationship. I think they truly enjoyed it too. I really liked Charlton Heston after that.

Things are looking up for the radio show on NPR. Of course most things fall apart, so we will see. But I am feeling pretty good about it. Stars are aligning in this regard!

I loved the comment on my last post about the baptism for a conversion to atheism. The poster asked if salt might be used. That made me laugh. Yes, it’s so funny how we pre-spin the conversation with the way we word things. When Ken Star referred to my lack of belief as a “conversion to atheism” it sets the tone immediately. I think other people have said that to me to and I let it slide. I don’t think I will the next time. I don’t mind the term “de-conversion.” People have said that too. But when you grow up in a religion, there isn’t really a conversion moment like there is described in religious literature or amongst fundamentalists. But I probably spin the conversation revealing my opinion too by how I describe things. I often toss around “critical-thinking-skills” when talking to religious people. And I suppose you could say that by using that particular set of words I am pre-setting my view that the religious abandon their critical thinking skills when it comes to God. I mean, I admit it, I do use that phrase deliberately and pointedly. But I probably wouldn’t use that phrase if I were moderating a panel about religion. I think I would try to use the most neutral words I could. Although I am not complaining. It was really more interesting to me. Curious phrase: Julia’s conversion to atheism.

I am reading “Cool It” right now – Bjorn Lomborg’s book. He also wrote "The Skeptical Environmentalist." The jury is still out in my own mind about his view, but I agree with him that the environmental movement is getting promoted with a lot of misinformation. And while global warming due to human activity appears to be real and accepted by everyone, including Bjorn, (although he didn’t admit this in his previous book) what we do about it is clearly up for debate.

I listened to R.E.M. all day today. I don’t have the new album yet, but I’m getting ready for it by listening to all the old ones. I am still not finished loading all my music on the computer, but I think by the end of the week. I also listened to NPR and “The Splendid Table” about making pasta in Bologna and the show was so delightful I wanted to drop everything and go to Italy.

Mulan has been listening to “Letting Go of God” – the song – the one that Jill Sobule sings (and you can download it from my homepage) and she asked me, “When she sings “Mary looked up yearning” what does that mean, like she looked up “yearning” like she looked up that word in the dictionary?” Absolutely serious, straight faced. Oh! That is awesome.
This has been a very busy week. Although I normally am trying not to turn my blog into a diary, this week I have no over-arching things to get off my chest. So I guess I’ll just post a quick rundown of my week and maybe something interesting will appear.

On Monday I went to USC and participated in a panel discussion about religion. The panelists included Jack Miles who wrote “God, A Biography” which won him a Pulitzer. I've read that book and I really liked it quite a bit. I haven't read his more recent book: “Christ, A Crisis in the Life of God.” But now I really want to. He was quite astonishing at our panel discussion at USC. He arrived on campus straight from the dentist's office, where he had an emergency appointment for a horrible tooth abscess. He was on pain medication for it. He gave an interesting talk on the panel-- about religion as art that inspires; and how precarious our situation is ecologically and that perhaps our only hope is a new kind of religion that makes the Earth’s environment (as habitable for us) the first priority.

Jack does not claim to be an atheist, but I felt from his talk that he sees religion as a human artistic expression and not supernaturally inspired. I was riveted by his comments.

The moderator of the panel was Dr. Kevin Starr, and he is the California State Librarian as well as a professor at USC. He was very sweet but it bothered me that he described my religious views as a “conversion to atheism” twice! That really bugged me but I didn’t get a chance to make a comment about it. "Conversion to atheism" – that’s a good one. That phrase manages to accuse me of being smitten with a crazy idea at the same time it denigrates the religious experience of conversion itself. Amazing.

Oh jeez. I wrote the above a few days ago. Now I’m in my kitchen, home from the Jill and Julia show at the Renberg Theater and wired. We had such a fun time doing the show tonight. I cannot wait for a real run of this show. I love Jill Sobule. What an honor to be on stage with her. And Dave – our bass player, he is great too. He adds just the right third-piece-of-energy to the show. I think we will open a show in late August or September. I am really really happy to be doing this show, it's just a joy to be onstage with Jill.

Oh - I can’t see straight – jeez. More to come.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

“Letting Go of God” got into the Seattle Film Festival! I am so happy. I’m not sure of any more details, but this will be the public world premier. And in Seattle! What could be better? Also, I'm so happy the forum is up and running. I've been enjoying reading all the entries. What a relief to have that up.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The forum is back. Click on the link listed just to the right. All these great conversations should be happening there.

And for the record, even after I was so angry at Hillary over this whole running-from-sniper-fire comment and weird retraction, I STILL actually like her. And I would support her if she got the nomination.

I just left Jill Sobule’s house where we listened to the Earth Day special I did that’s going to play on some NPR stations on April 22. Jill did the music. It sounds okay! Jill of course, is fabulous. I feel I make some jokes I wish I hadn’t and I say “right” way too much during interviews with people, but overall I am deeply proud of it.

Not much more to report. A Jill and Julia website is in development. We are doing two shows next weekend here in L.A.

Oh! The big news for me was looking at a rough cut of the trailer for “Letting Go of God” and it looks really nice.

Well, I just wanted to make a post to say… let’s take this party into a bigger room, shall we? Please go sign into the forum. I’ll still be posting here – I was (when the old forum was up) posting blog entries in both places, but I will probably only do my blog entries on here. But I will comment and post as well on the forum.

See you.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Oh Lord. That whole thing with Hillary Clinton and being under fire in Bosnia is so embarrassing. And I hate her response to it, I hate the first part of her response and I hate the last part of her response. Even though, “I was mistaken” is normally something I like to hear someone say – it’s true, it’s to the point, and yes we are all mistaken about things, this was not a small thing. She was trying to portray herself as a hardened and seasoned international-relations person and even if she did blow the event up in her memory, it’s more than just being mistaken. She was speaking from prepared notes when she made those comments about Bosnia. I mean, come on!

She should have said, “I’m horribly embarrassed. I have lost confidence in my own memories!” Or, "I was trying to show how internationally seasoned I am diplomatically and how brave, but that was a terrible example of it." Simply saying she was mistaken is not enough.

THEN, the second part – “It proves I’m human, which, y’know, for some people, is a revelation.” That part of the response is even worse! What is that supposed to mean? That some people think she is super-human? That seems snotty and arrogant. But actually, I think she was trying to make the opposite point, that reporters are picking apart picayune references in her speech and they think she's... I guess... sub-human? Odd, it doesn't really make sense to me.

Normally I agree, the press pounces on the smallest inconsistency. This, though, is not small. God, how could she not have looked into that memory before parading it around like that - in a speech from notes? About something so easily checked into?

Obama is looking better and better compared with her and he’s not even doing anything, all he has to do is stand there and he looks great.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I keep listening to stories about the problems in Tibet. Every story I’ve heard frames the issues mostly on religious freedom, and that is partly true, I think. But I think it’s mostly about family and money.

I spent some time in Tibet about nine years ago. I vaguely supported the Tibetans and wanted them to have their religious freedom. (I still believe this but understand the issue is more complex, now.) When I got to Lhasa, I was surprised at how bad things were for the Tibetans.

The Han Chinese are distinctly different looking than the Tibetans, so it made the difference between their economic status starker and sadder. When I was there, Tibetans were generally not allowed to own a business at all. There was some wiggle room, but it was much more difficult for them to own a business. Contrast this with the Han Chinese, who not only came from a culture that had business ownership in their history in a major way, were given financial incentives to move to Tibet to open a business.

The Tibetans were, and probably still are a nomadic people mostly and they were cloistered together in Tibetan ghettos in the city or wandering around, wide eyed and looking lost.

The Han Chinese were openly disdainful of them. They were opening businesses everywhere and the Tibetans were in the way.

Then there was the kid thing. Tibetans are required to keep to the one-child policy (or at least this is what was true.) but the Han Chinese, if they moved to Tibet, were allowed to have as many children as they wanted. When I was in Kunming, in southern China, where I spent some time before I went to Tibet, there were signs that advertised moving to Tibet. They offered the chance to have more than one child and help with starting a business.

Where did the Chinese get inspiration from for this policy that was systematically marginalizing the Tibetans and over time, reducing their numbers? The U.S. policy towards Native Americans, that’s where.

When I was in Tibet, it was like getting a first hand look at what it must have been like in many areas of the U.S. a hundred and fifty or so years ago. Lost looking Native Americans wandering through industrial cities built by immigrant Europeans (for the most part.)

It was so sad to see this. It was heartbreaking. When I saw the picture of all the Chinese goods being trashed in the streets in Lhasa, that was on the cover of the New York Times yesterday, it made perfect sense to me.
In front of the big monastery in Lhasa, the one that the Dalai Lama fled from, there used to be a big reflecting pond. You were able to look at the majestic monastery than and you were able to see it’s reflection in the pond. It must have been beautiful. The Chinese had covered up the reflecting pond with tar, and made a big parking lot sized tarred area out of it. Then they parked a military plane on it. So you couldn’t see the monastery so well without also seeing an ominous symbol of Chinese control.

I’m not sure that Tibet becoming a religious monarchy again is such a good idea. The Dalai Lama doesn’t even think this is possible or good either. But the Tibetans do need the ability to open business and better ways of assimilating rather than being shut out. And it’s so sad, not only are the Tibetans not allowed to own business (except under extreme circumstances) they can’t even look at a picture of the symbol of their culture, a picture of the Dalai Lhama.