Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Here comes the Wayne again

Every once in a while I come across a truly life-changing book-like product that is so earth-shatteringly splendid, it makes my hands shake, my toes curl, my third eye fill with tears of elation and my sixth sense quiver with the thrill of discovery (though, of course, not completely unexpected discovery) – and I just have to share my joy with everyone I know. The newest work from Dr. Wayne W. Wired, All I Really Need To Know I Learned From a Dead Butterfly, is one such product.

Dr. Wired, as I probably don’t need to tell you, is the author of such perennial bestselling book substitutes as The Real Magic Of My Erogenous Zones; Sacred Self-Abuse; How To Have No-Limits Eyebrows...and the list just goes on and on and on. And on. His 1996 work, Instant Wisdom: Marvelous Maxims for People Who Are Just Too Busy To Think, was made into a PBS series and is still one of Pay House Publisher’s strongest backlist titles. Another of his works, You’ll Believe It If I Say It, was on the best seller lists for 362 weeks and is currently being made into a nude musical.

I love all of Dr. Wired’s works, but Instant Wisdom has long been one of my guiding beacons. Here are some of the life-altering truths Dr. Wired shares in this classic collection of printed and bound pages:
  • People are people, no matter what.
  • No matter how hard I flap my arms, I’m probably not going to be able to fly...but I MIGHT develop some pretty strong arms, and that’s reason enough to keep on flapping.
  • By affirming that you are what you are, and breathing that are-ness aloud, you can reenergize yourself for your entire life’s journey.
  • I have no choice but to accept that I have exactly five toes on each foot...no more, no less.
  • The light that shines in the darkness is the light that illuminates the night.
  • We put labels on people and labels on food packaging. Maybe all labels are unfair, but thanks to the US government, at least the labels on food packaging give us information we can use. If we’re going to label people anyway, don’t we have a right to know a person’s sodium content?
  • You can about-face your life by discovering the sacred self that is within you: the higher self, the authenticated person living inside you who is not attached to your own ego, but to mine.
Now, stuff like that is a tough act to follow.

But Wayne Wired, true to form, has outdone himself.

How does Dr. Wired keep coming up with this marvelous material? I couldn’t begin to say, but I can tell you that this prolific sage, whose words have inspired millions of people the world over, has created another work of astounding insight. His latest offering is something more than his usual collection of observations, quotations and random bits of wisdom gleaned at odd moments during his busy days. Usually he writes while showering, power walking from his master suite to his home Imax theater, prayerwalking through one of several private labyrinths on his estate on Maui, or cleaning out his eyebrows. But his newest work came to him in a most unusual way. More on that momentarily.

Without a doubt Dr. Wired is one of the most popular speakers and authors who has ever lived. And there’s a good reason for that: he is a genius, pure and simple. Dr. Wired’s genius lies in his remarkable ability to create thoughts for people who are too busy or simply too confused to create their own. He has a gift for packing a world of wisdom into one or two sentences, and in his new product this gift shines more brightly than ever.

In his groundbreaking new work, Dr. Wired goes beyond mere motivation into the sacred realm of inspiration. In the process he takes us on one giant leap through quantum physics and the meaning of life. He explains how we – even I, and very possibly you too – can rediscover our true purpose, and how, despite the fact that life often seems to be a series of accidents, we have in fact chosen to enter this world of particles and crumbs.

All I Really Need To Know I Learned From A Dead Butterfly is one of the most inspiring books I have come across in a long time. In fact, it inspired me so much that I almost felt as if inspiration were…how shall I say it?…my true calling. I can’t explain the feeling; you will simply have to experience it for yourself.

Amazingly, much of this book was channeled to Dr. Wired by a Monarch butterfly that got tangled up in one of his eyebrows one day. With the utmost care he disentangled the butterfly and then, as he tells it in his foreword,

Scooping the fragile creature up into my hands, I held it for an infinite moment, and it whispered to me of Mozart, Arthur Miller, quantum physics, Indian poets and many other things. The balmy breezes of Maui, where I spend much of my year, rippled through my eyebrows and over my back hair as I listened to the butterfly. As strange as this may sound to the uninitiated, I knew intuitively that this ephemeral being had singled me out to hear – and then spread – its gentle message. After it had whispered enough to fill a book, it quietly made its transition, right there in my hands.

I did not weep for what most people would see as the “death” of this butterfly, for I knew it had fulfilled its purpose. Silently chanting passages from the Hawaiian Book Of The Dead (of which I have one of the original manuscripts, discovered in the ancient burial grounds behind my home on Maui, where I spend much of my year), I chopped up the butterfly and put it on my dinner salad along with some edible weeds and ground yohimbe bark. Following my repast I went swimming in the ocean – which I can do whenever I want to because, as I mentioned previously, I live on Maui most of the year, and other beachy places the rest of the year – and I meditated. Mostly I thought about a title for the new book the butterfly had channeled to me...
The experience with the butterfly led Dr. Wired not only to write his new “book,” as he calls it, but also to change his dietary habits. Now existing almost solely on a diet of Monarch butterflies and yohimbe, he spends his days in a state of excruciating bliss and chronic priapism. Though he has already seriously endangered the world Monarch populations, he believes it is all for a higher purpose. Eating the butterflies has brought him to a new level of enlightenment, he explains, and that can only be a good thing for the world. Regarding the yohimbe, he only says, “If I ever find a human partner again, watch out!” (I for one am staying away from Maui.)

Wayne Wired is currently at work on his next dozen or so book-like products, soon to come to your favorite online bookstore’s used-item marketplace***.

………..

*** Speaking of used-item marketplaces, portions of the above were lifted straight from the pages of Cosmic Relief , which as of the day before yesterday ranked at an impressive #2,836,953 in Books on Amazon. My apologies for the dozen or so people who may have read this stuff previously...but I was feeling a little lazy today.

………..

Anyone who is actually interested in eating insects should check out the cookbook, Butterflies In My Stomach, or Insects In Human Nutrition, by Ronald Taylor (1975, Woodbridge Press, Santa Barbara, CA). This classic work offers all sorts of recipes featuring our six-legged friends. Want a recipe for fried locusts or grasshopper fritters? Here's your book...if you can find it.

For some reason, Amazon lists this book as having an “unknown binding” (exoskeleton, perhaps?). That's not all that Amazon doesn't seem to know about this work, for the book described on the Amazon page is not, in fact, Butterflies In My Stomach, but some sort of vegetarian cookbook. That's why I didn't link to the Amazon listing. You might, however, find Butteflies In My Stomach at a used bookstore or garage sale. So, cook away...just don’t invite me to dinner that night.

Disclaimer: Dr. Wayne Wired is an invention from my own brain, and I am in no way insinuating that any real people who have become incredibly wealthy by producing book-like products actually eat Monarch butterflies. That would be a bad thing, as they are endangered -- the butterflies, that is. So don't eat them. Leave click beetles alone too; I think they're cute (and also too little to eat).

Labels: ,

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Kinky: Why the hell not?

Warning: This post may contain material not suitable for sensitive audiences.

Those of you who are not residents of the Great State of Texas may be a little disappointed when I inform you that, title notwithstanding, this post is not about unconventional sex. You won’t find lurid tales of naughty boys being whipped by gorgeous gals in black leather mini dresses and spiky-heeled boots. You’ll not see one word about beautiful women doing unspeakable things with very large dogs (as this sentence is, in fact, 24 words long).

Instead, this post is about unconventional politics, about one man’s attempt to give Texas politics a good whomping on its behind. However, dogs are involved, sort of, in more ways than one – more on that in a moment.

Before we go any further (though perhaps we have already gone too far), let me reassure you right now that Whirled Musings is not going to be a political blog. Goddess knows there are enough of those on the Net already, and besides, I am about as qualified to write about politics as W is to teach English grammar. (Hey, I didn’t say I wasn’t going to get some potshots in. ***)

No, this is essentially a pop-culture blog, and yes, I know there are tons of those on the Net too. But I am marginally more qualified to write about pop culture than about politics, so when the two overlap I reserve the right to milk it for all it’s worth. And although my intention is to focus mainly on new-age/self-help stuff, I will also occasionally venture into other areas. (Besides, remember that new age credo: “Everything is interrelated!”)

So consider this one of those “other areas.” The Kinky to whom this post is lovingly dedicated is one Richard S. Friedman, commonly known as Kinky, who has been making news lately with his campaign for governor of Texas. And my partner Ron Kaye and I are two of the thousands of Texans, who, profoundly disillusioned with politix-as-usual, are enthusiastically supporting his efforts. To begin with, we signed the petition to get Kinky Friedman on the ballot, and by golly, we were successful. (Well, okay, Ron and I had help from 137,000 other folks or so.)

We Kinky folk have been criticized by many, even those who do not support the incumbent, Rick Perry, and the Grand Oil Party. We’ve been chastised for not supporting a “serious” candidate such as Democrat Chris Bell (Kinky is running as an indie candidate). We’ve been told we’re playing right into the hands of the Republicans, since Kinky doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in Houston of actually getting to the gov’ner’s mansion. But it’s a risk we’re willing to take.

There’s a lot to love about Kinky Friedman, not the least of which is his sheer entertainment value – as well as the entertainment value of those he has enlisted to help him. For example, there is Mojo Nixon, who is described by Wikipedia as “a satirical psychobilly musician known for his boisterousness, his often scathing critiques of pop culture and his libertarian political views.” My kinda guy, in other words, and Kinky’s too, obviously. Mojo was one of many unconventional sorts who did PR work to help get the Kinkster on the ballot. The Houston Press, my town’s alternative weekly rag, ran an article on Mojo back in April of this year. (Warning to sensitive sorts: the article contains profanities.)

According to Mojo, what separates Kinky from the “lying c--k s----rs” (politicians) is that, “One, Kinky's a romantic, a true believer. Kinky is not an evil whoredog.” (See, I told you dogs were involved.)

Mojo elaborates: “He truly believes in the goodness of people, and God bless his ass for that. Two, you can't tell if he's serious or not. It's an Andy Kaufman situation. What the f--k is really going on here? We know what the Democrats and Republicans are gonna do -- they've got a song and dance. They're selling us the same bag of s--t with different colors on it."

According to Nixon, the "whoredogs" are concerned only about their wealthy backers (duh). "They don't give a f--k about me and you,” says Mojo. “Our balls could be on fire, and their mouths could be full of water, and they'd hold it in for the guy that gave 'em the check."

I couldn’t have said it better myself, although I personally wouldn’t have said, “our balls.”

Kinky, as should be abundantly evident by now, is no politician. He rose to fame as a musician and a surprisingly prolific author. He is also an animal lover – and you gotta love a big tough guy who truly adores and understands cats the way he does. In fact he has devoted a big part of his life to rescuing unwanted animals – not just cats, but also dogs (naturally), and horses, cows, donkeys, pot-bellied pigs, birds, snakes…you name it.

So far his detractors, by and large, refuse to take him or his supporters seriously. After all, he’s an entertainer and writer, not a politician. The rebuttal to that is obvious. If a professional wrestler can become governor of Minnesota, if an actor can become governor of California (or president of the US, for that matter), if a village idiot can… Oh, bad, bad Connie. Stop it right this instant.

One clear advantage I can see about Kinky’s gubernatorial campaign is that his opponents won’t be wasting taxpayer money, and endlessly trying our patience, with lame attempts to dig up dirt about Kinky’s wicked past. Near as I can tell, all of his “dirt” is on the surface. It doesn’t take a keen investigative journalist from the very fair and balanced FOX-TV news organization to come to the conclusion that Kinky probably did and does inhale; that he has had sex with lots of women to whom he is not married; and that he has probably never been the kind of guy you would want your daughter to date. Further, he most likely knows what the definition of “is” is, and, for that matter, what it ain’t. So when the inevitable self-righteous posturing starts, when his opponents finally begin to take him seriously and someone steps forth with accusations that he is a profane womanizer who has indulged in numerous recreational substances, his answer will be, “What's your point, Bubba?” Or maybe just, "Thanks!"

Mojo Nixon, according to the Houston Press article cited above, says that Kinky is running a "spiritual" campaign. "If you get that, you get the whole thing immediately," says Nixon. "Arguing over taxes, the details of governing, is boring. Nobody wants to hear about that, and the governor in Texas is just a figurehead. Why not have a fun figurehead?"

Why not indeed? Or, rather…why the hell not?

PS – If you’ve grown bored with reading your “George W. Bushisms” quote-a-day calendar, here is a link to some snippets from the writings of Kinky, who, unlike W, intended to be humorous.

*** Okay, okay…in the interests of providing equal time for the other side: I am about as qualified to write about politics as Bill C is to teach abstinence classes.

Labels:

Friday, July 28, 2006

How I got so cosmic (or not)

This being the inaugural post on my blog – yesterday’s placeholder does not count – I suppose I should formally introduce myself. Right up front I will state that I am really not all that cosmic (does it show?). I adopted the name “Cosmic Connie” in 1995, when I was preparing to publish my parody of the new age/self-help/motivational subcultures. Cosmic Connie just seemed to be a logical name, inasmuch as the book was called Cosmic Relief: Honoring and Celebrating The Global Paradigm Shaft. Also, like many of us, I am a sucker for alliteration.

That’s the short answer about how I got to be Cosmic Connie. If you want longer answers, and have quite a bit of time to waste, check out the Cosmic Relief web site, if you haven't already. (Follow the “Confessions” link on the home page.)

Despite the fact that my moniker was more self-parody than anything, I got called on it a few years back by another person who went by the name Cosmic Connie. She was a fortune teller who, presumably, was a little more on the “cosmic” side than I. She wrote me an email with the subject line, “I am the REAL Cosmic Connie.” Actually she wasn’t all that indignant; she just wanted to let me know of her existence. I told her there was room enough in the vast cosmos for us to co-exist peacefully. At the time, in fact, there were numerous other references to “Cosmic Connie” on the Web as well. It’s just one of those obvious names, like “Fast Eddie” or “Dr. Bob” (I have known several Fast Eddies and Dr. Bobs, and I bet you have too).

Cosmic Relief was, as I mentioned above, a parody of the new age and self-help cultures, with a few jabs at corporate America thrown in for good measure. It was partly the result of my disillusionment with these subcultures, and partly the product of my longstanding need to satirize everything around me. I actually started writing satires when I was in second or third grade. (I started writing books years before that – before I could even write – but that’s another story altogether.***)

Cosmic Relief was not a book, per se; it was more like a magazine parody, a spoof of those freebie new-age/healthy-lifestyle publications that are available in most areas of the US. There were plenty of spoof articles and ad parodies – the latter being rather primitive, since all I had at the time was vector clip art – but it was the thought that counted. My reasoning was that if a publisher chose to pick up this project, they could re-create the ads and use photographs. (On the other hand, most of the publications I was satirizing were of such poor production quality anyway that the point seemed unimportant.)

For quite some time before I chose to self-publish, I did try to get a real honest-to-goodness trade publisher to pick up
Cosmic Relief. I sent preliminary editions – you couldn’t exactly call them manuscripts – to numerous publishers and agents. In return I got a lot of positive remarks about how funny the material was, but again and again, I learned that “it just does not suit our needs at this time.” Anyone heard that one before? At one point I even sent the material to one of my favorite humorists, Dave Barry, and he graciously offered to send it to his agent. In short order I got a polite letter back from the agent, who said he was not taking on any new clients at the time. Well, that was a new one for me. (He did, however, add that in any case, he was not the right agent for this material, so at least I was still on familiar ground.)

I will not pretend I wasn’t disappointed by the numerous rejections, but I was not all that surprised. I knew I had created a work that was hard to place. It wasn’t a parody of a specific publication, and many of the jokes may have been a bit obscure at the time. In any case I was certainly not bitter about it. At that time, I happened to be learning more and more about self-publishing. So that’s what I ultimately did, with the help of my business partner – and the love of my life – Ron Kaye.

The book was a critical success (in that I successfully bribed a few respectable folks to publicly say something nice about it****), but not a commercial one. I imagine it would have done far better if I had done more to distribute it, and, especially, to promote it, including and especially developing my “Cosmic Connie” persona. But there were real books to write, and real clients, and real life. My main satisfaction was seeing the book in print. I also loved getting emails and letters and phone calls from people who enjoyed the book. One phone call that especially delighted me was from the silly sage Swami Beyondananda, whom I greatly admire because, even though he may actually be enlightened, he is also an inveterate punster like me. He is also, I might add, cosmic. He said he was pleased and impressed to see someone committing the same type of humor as he, without stealing any of his jokes. High praise, indeed.

After
Cosmic Relief had been out a couple of years, with lackluster sales, I decided to create my Cosmic Relief web site. That was actually my first attempt at doing a web site, and I did it in, of all things, Microsoft Word 97. It was kind of a hodgepodge effort, but I have left it up there all these years because I hate throwing anything away.

And now…and now…I have this blog, another place for me to hold forth on the silliness of pop culture. I will not promise to stick strictly to the new age, or to self-help and motivation, or to the absurdity of the business world – but that doesn’t really matter. After all, as many of the new-age folks like to say, everything is interrelated. I just want to have a good time here. And I hope you do too.

Addendum: Beyond the silliness, Cosmic Relief had a marginally serious message, reflected in an essay I published at the back of the book, A Few Words From The Wet Blanket At The Mystics' Orgy. I can't imagine being a wet blanket at anyone's orgy these days, but I had a stronger sense of purpose back then. :-)


*** Come to think of it, I believe my longstanding love of writing satire has helped me in my “day job” of ghostwriting. They both involve imitation, taking on the voice of another; the difference, I suppose, is in the intent.
**** I am of course only joking about bribing people to say nice things about Cosmic Relief. After all, I am not a large publisher, or Amazon.

Labels:

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Okay, I set up a blog

That's enough work for one day. I'll get back to you.