Public Enemy and the People Who Love Them

“You like Public Enemy?” asks the middle aged African American man at the next table.

“What?” I shout over the crowd and the DJ on the stage.

He gives me an incredulous look and yells, “YOU LIKE PUBLIC ENEMY?”

“Oh,” I nod, “Yes.” I then go back to my book.

I feel someone looking at me and glance up from my book to find the man now leaning over my table. “Really? You like Public Enemy.” This is when I notice his two friends behind him. Suddenly I remembered how I reassured my husband that I would perfectly fine at the Public Enemy concert by myself. Gulp.

“I do. Is that really so hard to believe?”

Now he slides into the chair next to me, “Yeah, I find it hard to believe.”

I can’t help myself, “Why is that?” I ask.

“‘Cause you’re too young, too white, and judging by your religious book, too nice to know anything about Public Enemy,” he responds. (By the way, the “religious” book I was reading while waiting through the start of the opening acts was “Prophets and Protons: New Religious Movements and Science in Late Twentieth-Century America” by Benjamin Zeller. It would have been really fun to ask him exactly how “religious” he found Heaven’s Gate!)

I politely explain that I can’t help any of that, but the fact remains that yes, I like Public Enemy and in fact, I had been enjoying the act on stage, Propaganda, and would like to go back to that now.

His friend leans over so I can hear him, “You like the guy on stage now?”

“Yes, his diction is incredible and I like how even though he’s touring with PE (that would be Public Enemy) a decidedly East Coast rap group, he’s not afraid to use a West Coast sound,” I find myself shouting. (By the way, I bought Propaganda’s album at the show. Not too shabby.)

At this the group starts to laugh. While they’re laughing I add, “And I know all the words to ‘Bring the Noise'”. They laugh even harder, then the instigator starts, “Bass! How low can you go?”, and then we start doing the lyrics together, until he finally starts forgetting the words. And that is how I ended up only needing to buy one drink for myself that night.

My new friends and I struggled through a mind numbing amount of opening acts. I wish I could tell you who they all were, but I seriously lost track. There were a few I genuinely enjoyed, a few that were all right, and there were a couple that just did not do it for me, or the guys at my table. Turns out my new friends lived in Albany, but had moved north from Brooklyn and Long Island, and they assured me that if I was in New York City “folks would be rioting about now, making us wait like this.” I couldn’t help but agree with them, it was getting pretty damn late and there was still no Public Enemy. But at last, at around 10:30PM, PE took to the stage.

Totally worth it. Hell yeah. I was the walking the dead the next day, my chiropractor thought I had actually been physically assaulted I was so messed up when she saw me, I barely remained conscious long enough to tell my husband about my day when he came home from work, and I would do it all again in an instant.

Now let’s turn our attention to the main event, in convenient bullet point!

– Public Enemy has energy. These guys are older than me and they’re jumping up and down, climbing the stage, working their asses off. I stood up and tapped my foot for their set and it just about killed me, so respect to them.

– I FINALLY “GET” FLAVA FLAV. I mean, he never made any sense. There’s Chuck D, who is freakin’ Chuck D, you’ve got the tough S1Ws in military uniforms, and then you have….a dude wearing a giant clock as a necklace bumbling around? But having finally seen them live, I GET IT! Flava Flav is the counter balance to Chuck D. He encourages D to show off a playful side on stage, and he actually does pump up the crowd. He managed to make me excited for the start of “911 is a Joke” and I never really liked that song.

– DJ Lord is a BAD ASS. Who is DJ Lord? I know! I’m apparently not that big of a fan because I didn’t know that in 1999 he replaced Terminator X in Public Enemy. Holy cow this guy is good! Fun fact: I assumed he was DJ Lord because it was this big, boastful, rapper name. No, his first name is Lord. So in actually he is a total bad ass and gave himself the equivalent stage name of DJ Ted. Seriously, the guy is amazing.

– Public Enemy is comfortable with this new era of music and technology. People in the front row would hold up assorted devices to record the show and instead of ignoring them or getting security to knock it off, Chuck D would take the cameras and hold them up in front of him to better record what he was doing. Another fun example was when Chuck D was telling people to go to their website,, to download a song. He said, get out your smart phones and do it now, because he knows that if he fell on his ass right now that in under 60 seconds he would be able to go to YouTube and find “Chuck D falls on ass in Clifton Park”, so there is zero excuse to not get out your damn smart phone and download it now.

– Hey, Public Enemy knew they were in Clifton Park! Chuck D and Flava Flav proved that they are not just New York City guys, they are New Yorkers. Flava Flav’s daughter just graduated from a high school in Albany, NY. Chuck D told everyone about how Flava Flav fell off a speaker in Troy, NY. It was nice that for once an act wasn’t telling me how great it was to be back in Albany, NY….a city at least 30 minutes south of the venue.

– Oh hey, you might want to know, they sounded great. Two DJs and a live band. Chuck D and Flava Flav. They really lived up to the legend. A thing that separates the boys from the men; they were having some problems with feedback off of their mikes if they were in a certain spot. Instead of avoiding the spot, or gesturing wildly at the sound guy, they used the feedback strategically. The way a guitarist uses feedback for his solo.

It was an amazing experience. I became the unlikely companion to a bunch of fans, I heard a lot, although admittedly potentially too much, of other rap artists, I bought a new Public Enemy t-shirt to replace the one I still have from high school, and I’m not ashamed to admit it, I actually got a little teary-eyed when they performed “Harder Than You Think”.

Rings in Their Jackets

This past Saturday I officiated my first wedding, and for the occasion I painted my finger nails, and toe nails, a super shiny silver glitter color. My philosophy is, if I take the time to paint my nails, it should be done in such a way that people notice. I did this for the wedding because it’s pretty and it looked good with the ring I wore. Like most people, I’ve done loads of things in my life that leave me wondering if I did the right thing. However, there are two things I never doubt; marrying my husband and having my grandmother as my Matron of Honor for my wedding. It’s with this sentimentality in mind that I decided to wear my grandmother’s ring when I officiated my first wedding.

It’s a beautiful, huge, marquis cut diamond. I protested, but my family insisted that I take it when my grandmother passed away. And since I was taking the ring, I was also made to take the giant gold ring jacket that my grandmother had designed to go with it.

In truth, the jacket is pretty ugly, and in my opinion it makes the diamond ring less attractive. It takes a classy, traditional diamond ring and turns it into a winding mass of gold that swirls literally from knuckle to knuckle on my index finger. If you were looking to punch someone, this is the ring to wear for the job. I took the jacket to a jewelry store to try and get the decades of dirt cleaned off and out of it. They tried their best, but it was still pretty dingy. So leading up to the wedding, every night before I went to bed I would sit in bed and gently rub at it with a polishing cloth. At some point the ring with jacket grew on me.

I found myself diligently polishing that awful jacket, asking myself why I suddenly liked it. Sure, there’s the affection for my grandmother to consider, and of course the lovely symmetry of wearing it to officiate my first wedding. I kept thinking this jacket is ugly; in fact, most of my grandmother’s jewelry was ugly. All her jewelry was like the gold jacket: big, clunky, and chunky, in weird colors and made out of odd materials. How could she have gone through life and never realized this?

Then it hit me. Perhaps her philosophy was, if she took the time to wear jewelry, it should be done in such a way that people notice.

A Leader Remembered: Isaac Bonewits 1949 – 2010

by Shira Tarantino

This past Thursday, August 12, I woke up early in the morning and went
downstairs to read the newest issue of my favorite Pagan magazine, Witches & Pagans. It was around 8 AM as I casually flipped through the pages, landing on an article by Isaac Bonewits. I began reading his scholarly article attentively, but soon my thoughts turned to the author himself. My mind drifted into the ether and feelings of hope and protection came over me. I closed the pages of the magazine, having lost my urge to read, and made peace with my clouded consciousness.

On Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 8am EST, Isaac Bonewits crossed into the Summerland. I learned this several hours into the day following Phaedra Bonewits’ Facebook post announcing her beloved husband’s passing.

While I did not have the fortunate experience of ever meeting the man, in many ways, Isaac’s life’s work helped to shape my own Pagan existence. As a very public archdruid, Isaac Bonewits paved the way for many other Pagans to “come out of the broom closet.” Isaac was so many things to so many people: a spiritual leader, a teacher, a mentor, a guide. The list is deep. He was also a loving husband, a father, an author, and founder of one of the country’s first public Druid fellowships, Ar nDraiocht Fein.

Phaedra Bonewits, on her Memorials for Isaac discussion on Facebook, wrote, “I lost the love of my life last Thursday, but his life goes on in the influence he’s had on everyone.”

Isaac Bonewits’ life was celebrated at a memorial service at the First Unitarian Society of Rockland County (FUSRC) this past Saturday, August 21 in Pomona, NY. His life and works were remembered with love and fondness. If you would like to pay tribute to Isaac but were unable to attend the service in Pomona, there will be many other independent memorials across North America. You can check Isaac and Phaedra’s Facebook page to see if and when there will be one in your area. If your group or Coven is putting on a public memorial for Isaac, you can post it on the same page.

I cannot even begin to put together a comprehensive tribute as beautifully as the following people have done for Isaac, and so I have attached their links below.

Isaac, may you enter the Summerlands unbounded and experience limitless joy, peace, and love. You were a great part of us in this existence and you will continue to be a part of us in another. Your spirit lives on in the hearts and minds of those whose presence you graced, whose spirits you lifted and whose hearts you touched.

Isaac Bonewits Tributes:’s blog (the corresponding blog to Isaac and Phaedra’s website) – Obituary

NPR (National Public Radio) – Tribute by Margot Adler

The Wild Hunt – Tribute by Jason Pitzl-Waters

SNCC XDO: The Future

Crucible Design’s game “Space Ninja Cyber Crisis XDO” showed designer Matt Johnson’s role-playing game vision of the future. In fairness, I don’t know how much he felt would actually be coming to pass, and how much was just awesome stuff he gleaned from Anime and Manga. However, what is fascinating is just how much “fantasy” from 1997, when the game was published, is crawling towards reality.

Everyone ponders about the future, not just role-playing game designers. For instance, Avery Brooks wanted to know where the flying cars were, “It’s the year 2000, but where are the flying cars? I was promised flying cars. I don’t see any flying cars. Why? Why? Why?”

For me, the future I always wanted featured state of the art cosmetics. Really! The secretary in “Total Recall” painting her nails by touching them with a pen, or Promise from Steven Barnes’ “Street Lethal” novel who has synthetic skin and hair that she can have light up in a variety of ways, for me these were the promises of the future. Screw flying cars I say, I want affordable high tech cosmetics! It’s doubtful it will be easy and affordable in my lifetime, but “Boffins in America are working on biodegradable, flexible electronic devices printed on silk, which could be implanted in the human body and would decay naturally over time. Applications could include LED displays inlaid beneath the skin.” Go future!

Many, including Avery Brooks up there, want flying cars. I’m not sure why, a car accident is scary enough without crashing and then falling out of the sky. But that must just be me. What a difference 10 years can make Avery, because flying cars are on their way. Of course these aren’t your running errands in the city flying cars, but if we end up with those, these will have been their great, great, grandfathers.

The futures that Avery Brooks and I were hoping for are hovering (literally in the case of potential flying cars) on the horizon. We’re also seeing some of Matt Johnson’s future too. Remember the description from the first part of this? “A game set in a world filled with beautiful cyborgs, cute robots, superfast cyberbikes, powered exoskeletons, giant mechanoids, speed lines, comical pets, strange aliens, maniacal villains and demons with amazing groinal powers…..” Click on those links my friends! Surprisingly, the setting for Space Ninja Cyber Crisis XDO, is slowly evolving into reality.

Regardless of our wishes, the future always arrives. Avery Brooks’ flying cars, my electronic tattoos, and Matt Johnson’s SNCC XDO, were once our fanciful musings and now we’re seeing them newly created, to one day become the primitive ancestors of tomorrow’s common place. This isn’t an endorsement or condemnation of what seems to be blossoming on the horizon, it’s just a realization made while flipping through a role-playing game book.

SNCC XDO: The Game

I have a soft spot for independent role-playing games; particularly ones that once published are very thin in size. I always assume that a thin game book means that the game itself is simple to use. I romantically imagine that this game company, which no one has ever heard of, has managed to take on “big RPG” and build a better system. A simple system. A system that I can understand without needing my other gamer friends to explain it to me, or worse make my character for me. In defense of many well known RPG game systems that are in fact, quite simple; I am, in fact, quite slow on the uptake. Yes, I just said it’s not you; it’s me, to several role-playing game systems, satisfied? Despite never having any intention of running one of these independently released games, and that years ago I dropped out of my longtime gaming group to work on The Magical Buffet and pursue other interests, I just keep buying these damn games.

They almost universally disappoint, and because they’re not cranking thousands of these out from some print company that they have some sort of deal with (Damn you “Big RPG”!) the price points on these experimental purchases are not great. Twenty to thirty dollars is a lot to pay for a book whose contents you will never utilize. (Of course $20 to $30 can be dirt cheap compared to some big name game books.) It seems many of them are straining so hard to be different that they create a frightening Frankenstein monster, generally using the worst ideas from other systems to craft theirs. I guess my advice to any folks out there attempting to design their own role-playing system is that you can never have your game play tested enough. And you know those obnoxious kill joy gamers you put up with for any number of reasons? Definitely have them take a crack at it. Trust me.

With all this in mind, you’ll understand why when I found myself in Rochester, NY for an appointment with a new specialist; my husband and I felt obliged to check out a local game store, Millennium Games. As luck would have it, they were prepping to do an inventory so they had three long tables filled with all kinds of oddities at greatly reduced prices. You guessed it, tons of long forgotten role-playing games and their supplements for only $1 a piece. That’s right, one slim dollar.

That’s where I saw it; a pocket sized book of only 52 pages in length covered in dust; Space Ninja Cyber Crisis XDO. “A game set in a world filled with beautiful cyborgs, cute robots, superfast cyberbikes, powered exoskeletons, giant mechanoids, speed lines, comical pets, strange aliens, maniacal villains and demons with amazing groinal powers…..” And so I bought it, for one dollar.

Guess what folks? It’s actually a very simple game! I was shocked to find that I understood character creation and game play rather easily, and that there were no truly mind numbingly bizarre mechanics. Some recommended reading and viewing to get into the spirit of the game are: Ghost in the Shell, Blade Runner, Akira, AD Police, and other things along that vein. Also, they suggested other role-playing games that the designers felt had something valid to bring to a campaign of their game Space Ninja Cyber Crisis XDO; like Over the Edge, Feng Shui, and Heretics. I’m not sure if I’ve ever encountered a role-playing game that suggested other RPGs, from other companies, as sources of inspiration. The longer I thumbed through this slender little game book, the more smitten I became with Crucible Design, the guys responsible for SNCC XDO. (Nice way to shorten the huge title, right?)

Turns out this simple role-playing send up of futuristic Anime/Manga was put together in Northern Ireland! The original retail for the book at Millennium Games was $13.99. The art for the book, which is quite good for a random RPG, was done by Paul J. Holden in Belfast. The concept and design came from Matt Johnson, presumably from Northern Ireland, home to Crucible Design. I have in my possession a crazy little independent game that traveled quite a distance to end up on a clearance table in Rochester, NY.

As I mulled over the setting I realized that the awesome high tech future they were discussing was 2019, a mere 9 years away. Obviously with this being a game inspired by Anime/Manga, they created a hyper extreme future, but I couldn’t help but wonder when this game was published.

1997, 13 years ago.

I suddenly found myself wondering, is the future what Matt Johnson thought it would be? What were his hopes as he decided what an amped up Anime/Manga future would look like? Does he find himself asking, where are the flying cars?

Join me on Thursday for part two of this story as I examine exactly where our future is in relationship to SNCC XDO.

NNYPRS Tech Council: The Frank’s Box

By Brian Leighton and Job Mesick

The topic of the day is the Frank’s Box. This is a device that goes by many names: phone to the dead, shack hack, etc. I’d like to clarify that what I write is my opinion. If you don’t agree with me that is your right. Also, if you have your own theories we would love to hear them.

Let me begin by going over the need for such a device. As a paranormal investigator, we collect hours upon hours of possible evidence on every investigation. Approximately 90% of what we catch is audio responses, such as noises or an answer to a question that was not heard during the time of the recording.

Why this happens remains unexplained. One theory is that spirits communicate in a frequency that is either higher or lower than the frequency that we can hear with our ears. We use software to try and “see” what frequency our recordings are in. We use several tools to catch possible EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon). Our most basic tool is a simple digital recorder. We have ways to modify these recorders to help catch recordings, which we will explain in more depth in future articles.

The Frank’s Box is a device created by Frank Sumption and it is basically a broken radio. When you hit the scan button on a radio, it stops at the next strongest station. By modifying the radio to not stop scanning, you have yourself a Frank’s box. Here is the problem that I have with the Frank’s box; it was not designed to catch EVPs from spirits. It was designed to communicate with aliens. You read that correctly…aliens. According to email correspondence that has been published on the web, to this day Frank continues to communicate with aliens and other beings. Now his words have been twisted and that is where his tool has been misused.

Some investigation groups base their whole investigation on this device. We have experimented with this tool on quite a few investigations and we feel that there were some possibilities to his theory. However, these possibilities are open to a lot of interpretation. If you listen to a scanning radio long enough you are going to hear “Yes” and “No” many times, so asking those types of questions are useless. If you listen to it long enough you are also going to hear a lot of other possible replies. Does that mean that spirits are manipulating these recordings? Or are aliens? Chances are not very likely. More often than not it is the simple act of randomness. If you listen to enough records backwards you are going to eventually hear the devil talking to you. After our experiments with the device we found evidence of something possibly repeating names and even colors. After carefully reviewing the audio, you had to really use your imagination to hear the correct response. Due to matrixing, your brain hears the response that you are looking for. If you wanted to hear the word “yellow”, anything close would satisfy your ears.

Our team is based on science and we experiment with our own theories as well as those from other groups. After experimenting with the Frank’s Box, we feel that it does not stand up to scientific scrutiny.

About the Authors:
Brian Leighton and Job Mesick are members of the Northern New York Paranormal Research Society’s Tech Council. If you have questions or comments you can visit him and the rest of the NNYPRS group at

The Temple of High Magic for Everyone

Take note publishers, name dropping works. Months ago I received a review copy of “The Temple of High Magic: Hermetic Initiations in the Western Mystery Tradition” by Ina Custers-van Bergen from Destiny Books. It had a not entirely exciting cover and was authored by a woman I had never heard of. However, I noticed the forward was by Gareth Knight and that the author was initiated by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki so I knew that this book had to be something special. And boy howdy was I right.

Obviously I’m no expert on the Western Esoteric traditions, because let’s face it, I’m not an expert on anything, but I will dare say that this is the best introduction to the subject matter I’ve ever seen, or possibly that’s ever been published. My introduction to the subject matter was the book “Magick for Beginners” by J.H. Brennen, which I still highly recommend to anyone looking for a tiny taste of Western Occult practices. In writing him a letter (yes, I liked the book so much that I wrote the author), he suggested looking at Dion Fortune and Israel Regardie. Fortune and Regardie are both respected pillars of the ceremonial magic community but their works are dense and difficult for a beginner to wrap their brains around, or at least for this beginner they are. If only “The Temple of High Magic” had been available then!

Bergen’s book thoroughly answers the question, “What are the Western Esoteric traditions all about?” Seriously, if some random person I met on the street that I had never seen before in my life went, “Hey stranger I’ve never seen before, what is all this Western Occult/Mystery stuff like?”, I would say not a word and put “The Temple of High Magic” in their hands.

This book is only 383 pages including index, bibliography, glossary, and table of correspondences, and yet it answers any question you could possibly think of as a beginner. Better still, this book despite being translated from Dutch speaks clearly and goes light on jargon. Bergin covers the roots that feed into the current practice of Mystery Traditions today, explains the significance of temples, tools, and robes, covers Tree of Life basics, Chakras, features loads of exercises and rituals, and more, more, more!

This is the book I should have read before attempting to tackle Regardie’s works, or slowly suss out Fortune, and it is definitely a book for someone looking to learn about these traditions but isn’t looking to necessarily actively participate in them. In other words, this is probably the only book a generalist like me would ever need. That said, this book could easily be the springboard for someone with some interest in the topic to become someone looking to actively begin serious study and practice. I guess what I’m trying to say is, buy this book and then buy a second copy to give to anyone you know with even a passing interest in the Western Esoteric Traditions.

The Geek Month in Review: July 2010

by JB Sanders

So I’ve collected a bunch of stuff together in the form of my commentary on various geeky news stories, reviews, or whatnot. One paragraph of my thoughts, plus a link or two related to it.

This will not always be everything that happened in the month of Geek Relevance. I don’t have the staff for that. Heck, I barely have enough staff to get me coffee! But I promise at least one or two things you haven’t heard about before, because they’re so damned obscure.

Here’s July 2010 in Geekery:

RPG Geek Squee
Monte Cook did a full-on adventure module! If you aren’t familiar with who Monte Cook is, he was one of three people responsible for re-engineering D&D in 1998, D&D 3.0. I would say that D&D 3.0 was probably one of the most successful RPG systems ever created. It combined modern sensibilities with a lot of the flavor of Old School D&D. So he’s one of those folks in the Geek Hall of Fame.

But it doesn’t slice bread (app pending)
Look, everyone who knows me will tell you, I’m a huge Apple fanboy. I got that going on all over the place. But those of you old enough to remember the Jetsons will recall scifi’s promise of the video phone. It was going to be wall-sized or toaster-sized (like the “real” telephones of 1974). It was going to revolutionize everything and everyone was going to have one.

Well, Apple’s iPhone 4 does that in a device that fits in your HAND. Video calls. In your HAND.

So, I find it infinitely amusing that folks have made an application for the iPhone 4 that turns it into a flashlight. A real, serious flashlight that uses the iPhone 4’s LED flash (designed for flash photography).

It’s a Swiss-army phone!

Mark Twain, still kicking ass
The man’s been dead 100 years, but he’s still topical, relevant and acerbic as hell.

Now THAT’s Building a Castle
This team has been working on building a castle in France using only traditional methods (as they can figure them out via archaeology and reading historical texts). They’ve been going since 1998.

Plato’s Hidden Messages
There’s nothing cooler than discovering deeper meaning, and when that comes from one of the founders of “Western Civilization” (such as it is), you just have to step back and say “Whoa!”. A scholar in Britain has discovered hidden messages coded in Plato’s writings. Stuff he couldn’t say openly for fear of reprisal.

The SciFi Airshow
So, it’s like an air show, only all the “planes” are scifi space vehicles. (It’s not real, though.)

Word of the Month: phonagnosia
It’s when you can’t recognize who a person is just by their voice.

Gore Factor Five!
I know, Dragon Age: Origins has been out, like, forever. The review I’m linking to is even months old. But it’s so damn funny, who cares?!

Best. Map. Ever..
Or even, all maps ever made of the earth, the stars and the universe in general, smushed together. Found out about this amazing map by seeing it on TED, and if you don’t know about the TED talks, I’m sorry. You’re about to have a lot of your free time sucked away by amazing speakers and mind-blowing technology.

See the talk about it at TEDTalks.

And then see the software that makes up the map.

Sinbad, Totally Not a Remake
I don’t really know what to make of this preview. It’s got Patrick Stewart voice over, but it looks like someone said “hey, what if Bollywood made a Sindbad movie in the 70’s?”. Hell, Bollywood probably DID make some Sinbad movies in the 70’s. To Wikipedia! No! They did make a TV series about Sindbad though.

Anyway, it’s a teaser trailer.

It’ll Totally Be a Hit With the Geeks
And while I’m on the subject of wack-ass previews, here’s Sucker Punch. This movie will either be:
1. The greatest movie ever made.
2. The worst movie ever made.

I don’t really see any middle ground for it. On the surface, it’s got what every hetero male (or lesbian female) movie-going geek wants to see: chicks with swords, kicking robot samurai ass. It’s got burlesque, and dragons breathing fire. It’s got airplane dogfights, zepplins, machine guns, gangsters, and a 1950’s insane asylum. And since it’s from the director of 300 and Watchmen, it looks like rock-and-roll.

See the preview and you’ll know what I mean.

You saw the trailer, right? New movie, same universe. Not a remake, but a … sequel? Yeah, looks good.

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog:

A Contest of Shakespearean Proportions

Sunday’s interview with Peggy Rubin was a lot of fun, wasn’t it? Interested in checking out her book “To Be and How to Be: Transforming Your Life through Sacred Theatre”? Well, break out your ink and quills because have I got news for you! As per usual, Quest Books thinks readers of The Magical Buffet are the coolest kids in town, and once again, they are willing to put some product on the line to prove it! In other words, it’s time for another Quest Books give away!

To celebrate Peggy Rubin’s book, and her affection for Shakespeare, we’re going to have a contest of poetic proportions! You guessed it, we’re going with sonnets! Write a sonnet for your chance to win “To Be and How to Be”!

Here’s the deal:

Step One: Write a sonnet that shares something about your life. (The proper rhyme scheme of the English sonnet is: a b a b / c d c d / e f e f / g g. This means that the first and third lines rhyme with one another, the second and fourth lines rhyme with one another, and so on. An English sonnet is composed of 14 lines, which are broken into 4 stanzas, as the slashes indicate. Each line is composed of 9 to 11 syllables, with 10 syllables being the standard. Technically Shakespearean sonnets are more exacting than this, but come on, I’m no Shakespeare!)

Step Two: Email your sonnet to with the word SONNET as the subject line. Include your name and address so if you win we know where to mail your prize. Also, specify what name you would like displayed with your sonnet if it is published on The Magical Buffet.

Step Three: Sit back and wait. We’ll be accepting sonnets up to August 31, 2010.

A Sonnet for Potential Entrants by Rebecca (with an assist from Jim)

In a gesture that hopes to inspire you
I decided to jot down a sonnet
To show it’s a thing anyone can do
So stop stalling already! Get on it!

It need not end happ’ly ever after
But with it I hope that you’ll share your life
Be it joyful, overflowing with laughter
Or be sorrowful riddled with strife

Now I’m not claiming it to be easy
I’ve scribbled this down more as a joke
Please try not be vulgar or sleazy,
Seeing that as more challenge than yoke

Just try your best ’cause we’re all friends here
It’ll be better than this so have no fear

You can find more details about writing an English sonnet at eHow.

Have fun, and good luck!

10 Questions with Peggy Rubin

1. Before we launch into discussing the details of your book “To Be and How to Be: Transforming Your Life through Sacred Theatre”, can you first explain to my readers the origins of sacred theatre?

The theatre began as an act to honor and celebrate the ancient gods. For the most part we practitioners of the theatre have forgotten; I know I had. But when my mentor, teacher and friend Jean Houston signed me up to do a presentation on Sacred Theatre at a conference in The Netherlands on Sacred Matter, I remembered the theatre’s original purpose — to celebrate the gods and to celebrate life.

2. How did that original idea of sacred theatre transform into the work you’re doing now?

For that original conference, I considered nine aspects of traditional theatre, and saw how they could be utilized and addressed to reframe human life in terms of a play, or a work of performance art in progress. Those aspects became the nine Powers of Sacred Theatre, and I began to look at individual life in terms of those powers, and began to recognize that as individuals embraced and engaged these powers, they seemed to appreciate their lives more deeply and increase their awareness of creativity and joy, as well as more practical things such as increasing presentation and speaking skills.

3. Could you outline for my readers the way their lives mirror theatre?

Perhaps it is more accurate to say that the theatre mirrors their lives, though since I am so focused on theatre and love it so deeply, one of my friends is fond of saying that for me, rather than theatre providing a metaphor for life, life provides a metaphor for theatre. People enact their lives as stories; they play many different characters in their own lives as well as in the lives of others; they perform on a stage (of the world); they have many different kinds of audiences; they do all this through vocal and physical expression (as actors do); they confront conflict; everything is alive and happening in this precious moment of now (exactly as in the theatre).

4. Your book helps and encourages us to view our lives from the perspective of a theatrical performance of sorts. Are you familiar with the film “Stranger than Fiction”? Could we use the example of Dustin Hoffman’s character Professor Jules Hilbert encouraging Will Ferrell’s character Harold Crick to figure out what kind of story he’s living in as being similar to the ideas expressed in your book?

I’m so sorry, I don’t know the film. And I will be looking for it and seeing it as soon as possible.

5. Can you tell my readers about The Center for Sacred Theatre and the work you do there?

This is where I offer workshops in the Powers of Sacred Theatre, for people who want to look at their lives from this context, and who feel a desire to experience their lives as holy.

6. Although not related to your book “To Be and How to Be”, I think many of my readers would love to hear about your “Book of the Lady Project”. Do you mind sharing some information about that with my readers?

Thank you for asking about this. It’s a project dear to my heart, though it went into abeyance while I completed the book about the Powers. It began with a voice in my head during a Mass at Glenstal Abbey in Ireland; this inner voice said “It’s time to begin compiling a goddess Bible.” As I worked with what this might mean, further inner instructions came, acknowledging that it must never be part of a religion, that it must be open ended, that it must never in anyway deny or put down any form of the male divinity. But that “for our daughter’s sakes,” we needed to open our minds and creative writing and artistry skills to the feminine face of God.

We have worked with this assignment during several years of Sacred Theatre workshops, focusing on nine stages of a woman’s life as a framework for defining the words, liturgies, hymns, praise songs, stories of the sacred feminine to illumine and guide each those stages.

7. Obviously I can’t have a huge Shakespeare fan here and not ask the question. What is your favorite Shakespeare play, and why?

I think my all time forever favorite has to be Hamlet, though when I am studying or watching King Lear, difficult as that play is, it becomes my favorite. And I love Twelfth Night, as the most tender and most perfect comedy.

8. And again, I just can’t resist. What do you feel was the best film version of a Shakespeare play?

I was fascinated with the BBC broadcasts some years ago — of all the plays. They gave me a new respect for the fierce intimacy that is possible when the camera is so near — the audience is literally in your face. I really like Kenneth Branagh’s work, especially Much Ado About Nothing. And Olivier’s Othello was a great achievement.

9. A quick glance at your web site shows you are a very busy lady. What upcoming projects should my readers keep an eye out for?

More work on the Book of the Lady, with a web site that makes it possible for others to contribute their stories, poems, experiences.

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at the Buffet any one question.

If you could change one thing for the better in the whole world, what would it be?

I would make everyone watch the movie “Stranger than Fiction”! Thanks to you Peggy, I am now one person closer to my goal!

Thank you for these amazing and thought-provoking questions, and for the care and attentiveness you show the book.

About Peggy Rubin:
Peggy (Margaret) Rubin is Founding Director of the Center for Sacred Theatre in Ashland, Oregon. Primary activities of the Center include the creation of workshops in Living Life as Sacred Theatre, most often within the context of studies of the Divine Feminine. Peggy has led Sacred Theatre workshops in many locations in the United States, as well as Australia, New Zealand and The Netherlands.

Peggy is also the principal teaching associate of Jean Houston, Ph.D., in Dr. Houston’s worldwide multicultural transformational work and in her schools of spiritual studies. For the past eight years, she has also been a member of the core faculty of the School for Social Artistry, an intensive leadership training program. Working with Jean Houston, Peggy Rubin has presented classes, workshops and trainings throughout the United States, and in Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, Sweden, Greece, Egypt, The Netherlands, India, West Africa, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Jamaica, and on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme, in Albania, St. Lucia, Barbados, The Philippines, Kenya, and most recently the Republic of Maldives.

Before joining Dr. Houston’s staff in 1987, Peggy was for 14 years the Public Information and Education Director for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, one of the largest classical repertory companies in the United States. Before that she was a bank executive for First Western Bank in Los Angeles. She has also been a teacher of English, a freelance writer and editor, an actor and director.

She holds a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Texas, and has taken courses, primarily in Economics, at the University of California at Los Angeles, and in Environmental Studies at Southern Oregon University.

She has studied extensively with Elaine De Beauport, Ph.D., founder of the Mead Institute, leading teacher of humanistic and behavioral applications of current brain/mind research; and with William Emerson, Ph.D., pioneer in the field of pre and peri-natal psychology, and its importance in understanding human development.

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