“Victoria and Abdul” – movie recommendation and review

Victoria and Abdul is the story of the meeting and friendship of an elderly Queen Victoria of England and a  young and handsome Abdul from Agra, India, who happened to visit the royal court on an official state visit to present a nondescript gift to Victoria from the colonial government of India.

The story is told from the points of view of Victoria and Abdul.  The story emerges from their relationship.  There are many complexities to the story, such as the imperialistic tendencies of the British empire, white racial dominance, and power seeking sycophants at the royal court.  Sound familiar?

In its telling, the intention is to distill the aspects of the experience that are important to the characters and express them in human terms that we can understand, for our benefit.  Many of the scenes are humorous, but real.

It is tempting to see the race relations and power structure portrayed in the movie in today’s popular terms, but only doing that limits the impact of the experience of the movie.  Those things are secondary in importance at best, though that seems to be mostly what the critics are hung up on and all they can talk about.

We, the audience, are not objective observers of a drama played out in a certain (maybe familiar) context.  We can actually share the characters’  experience if we allow the suspension of disbelief and merge with them.  What they see, feel and know is what we see, feel and know.  That is the virtue of how the movie is crafted.

We don’t emerge from the movie loving Victoria and Abdul.  We do love the love these characters found as it resonates in us.  After the movie we can go on with great satisfaction having had that experience, just as Abdul suggests to Victoria for her final journey as he recites Rumi’s poem.

“The King of Hearts” – movie recommendation and review

This is one of a few movies that I have been moved to recommend.  In my world view, it deserves everyone’s attention.

Many stories have been written about war and the consequences of engaging in it.  Here is a movie that strips away most of the consequential horror, leaving an experience of very absurd humor and pathos.  Not districted by all the graphic ugliness, the audience is allowed to experience some very profound truth about the mind and human behavior when anything is allowed to happen.  It resonates with and brings a fresh view to today’s world-scape of non-fact reality.  Enjoy.

Here is the review from the Los Angeles Times.

A significant Chapter in History

It is a small offering and the risk is enormous.  While it intends to give grace to a disgraced nation in a difficult time, Fire and Fury (Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House) by Michael Wolff shares some important background of the inner workings of the White house.  It’s important to know.
The details of the story so far are not disputed,  but it is controversial that they were shared at all.  The most opaque administration in history has come to light.  There will certainly be some pushback and reprisal.

Read and share (and buy)




Harry Dean Stanton – Review

Since Friday, with the passing of Harry Dean Stanton, I have been reading numerous accolades about the depth of his work as a character actor. I hadn’t taken notice of his work until about a week before his passing, when I watched an episode (#5, I think) of “Twin Peaks: The Return”. In that episode there is a scene that I count as perhaps the most profound that I have witnessed in this or any show.  It is a credit to all who produce Twin Peaks, but in particular to Harry Dean Stanton.
The gravity of the scene is captured nicely by Mark Butler in iNews.  Bravo.

Meditation: Kundalini Surjhee

On July 22, 2017

An immersion was held at Yoga West, led by Jagat Guru Singh. a long time student of Yogi Bhajan and Guru Dev Singh.

Its purpose was to introduce the Kundalini Surjhee Shabad to students in order to promote its recitation for their health and well being.



Meditation: M060-901121-AWAKEN-KUNDALINI

     Kundalini Surjhee 63 min

     Kundalini Surjhee Live 2.5 hours


On this Fourth of July, 2017

Some of my friends and kindred souls are saying that the health of our democratic republic, America, has hit a new low.  I think that the real low was the Civil War, which, evidently, never ended completely, and hopefully, will not be repeated.  With all the diversity of our Nation, there are inevitably people who do want to go there and revive that tragic incident.  We know who they are.

As to why, the question is one of identity.  We can choose to identify with our self and God, or abdicate the elevated self to our ego, other egos, groups of people founded on ego and all the baggage of ego: misery, suffering, fear, hatred and a clinging to ignorance.

I brought this up earlier presenting  a reading from the I Ching for July 4.  Today, I am reminded that people whom we consider to be heroes are just people who remained themselves, no matter what the circumstances: forces, pressures, enticements, threats and dangers.

Today in the Los Angeles Times an article appeared which tells the story of a hero who is just a regular guy who knows who he is and what his duty is to himself, his friends, his nation and humanity.  It may be interpreted, as it is in the article, that certain ethnic or other groups are constantly having to prove that they are Americans.  I don’t see this guy as having any ideal outside of himself that inspired his bravery.  I see him as just a simple fellow from a nondescript place at a certain time under certain circumstances who found within himself the wherewithal to keep going.  In his moment of trial, he had faith.





Grokking Boston

My wife and I visited Boston last week.  We discovered that visiting the place resulted in revisiting events in our personal and collective psyches.

Visiting with our old friends Henrietta and Don rekindled our passionate love for exploring the landscape of current social drama and politics, Martin Scorsese’s movie Silence, John Oliver’s commentaries, etc.  Unlike the midwesterner’s comment in Alexandra Pelosi’s Journeys with Georgewho said, paraphrasing, “we all get along just fine because we all hate the same things“, we get along because we love the same things, e.g., our country and way of life.


Visiting the JFK library and museum transported us to another time that remains indelibly etched in our psyches.  To know it, we only need be reminded of it.  I remember it as the realization that anything is possible.  Camelot.

I also remember the dark passages of that time.  The Cuban missile crisis. I remarked to a woman next to me as we saw a recap of that October of 1962.  I commented, “I thought we were all going to die”.  She replied “We all thought we were going to die”.

It evoked the murder of the President.  The darkest day in living memory.

It evokes the contrast between a time when a politician loved his constituents and the present where many politicians cynically express abject hatred and contmept for them.

Kennedy remains the smiling young champion of justice and human rights.  That can never be tarnished.  Those who disparage him and his legacy only tarnish themselves.

Little was accomplished directly during his presidency.  It was too short.  He did get the ball rolling.  Many years ago we visited the LBJ library in Austin, Texas.  What we saw there was astonishing.  The body of Johnson’s legislative accomplishments is enormous.  Human rights, social justice, voting rights and environmental protections owe their existence to this one man.  It seemed that he was all about fulfilling Kennedy’s dreams.  Successfully.

See JFK Library mages

Edward M Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate

We visited the institute, which shares the same grounds as the Kennedy library.  We were introduced to the history and the functioning of the Senate.  We participated in a mock debate in a replica of the senate chamber.  Very interesting.

See Institute images

The Freedom Trail

Boston seems to be unique in its long history as an American city.  It appears to be the real cradle of the American experience.  The Freedom Trail is a well marked path that winds throughout the city which visits many of the historic landmarks that led to what is now the United States.  Walking that path is a moving experience.  I was again transported to a time when events reflected the greatness of people who rose up against tyranny and formed a common purpose to eradicate injustice for all time.  Their call to unite is still irresistible.  I can see how this moves Bostonians to identify as patriots of a righteous cause with pride and defiance.  Even the Red Sox seems to be something more than just a baseball team.  It’s an identity of unity.

This creates a sharp contrast with the current state of affairs in our nation where members of one group of people with enormous power are lukewarm at best to the unity of the nation and who would willingly let go of the American legacy for short term political gain and personal wealth.


See Freedom Trail images