Thursday, December 24, 2009

BE: Christmas is A Birthday

As we celebrate the biggest birthday of all time I thought it would be helpful to have our resident experts weigh in on the man himself.
Happy holidays,

Question: Jesus is always interpreted through the lens of the interpreter and then shaped and reshaped to meet that interpreters own vision of the world. So, I ask, what about the REAL man? What was he like, what did he wear, what lessons can we take from him today as we approach the celebration of his birth?

Samantha Vignette answers: We know nothing about him really. Especially the so called "lost teen years" when it is believed, for absolutely no good reason, that he travelled to India to study polytheism and the Kama Sutra. It is important to know what you don't know and to use that information to inform your day to day decisions and how you treat other people. I would hazard a guess that even though little is known about him, other than he did exist and was crucified as a criminal, he was probably nice sometimes to certain people. The lesson here is that we should also be nice to certain people. I would say everyone, but that's hardly realistic. You should treat people nicely as he might have done when he could however. I call this Niceiticity. Being nice because it's the right thing to do sometimes. That much I know is true. The rest is all uncertainty and from this we grow and move forward.

Samantha Vignette is the director of the Niceiticity Institute in Lausanne, an organization dedicated to the idea that doing good deeds can benefit a person in the here and now and not just in an afterlife.

Thoprac Mishri answers: I like to think of him as a regularly guy. The one that I might meet on a bus if I rode them. Or, since the biblical record mentions carpentry, the man that I would call when I need my kitchen cabinets refaced. People don't like to think that way, but this is a key lesson because I say so. That doesn't really answer your question though. We know that the gospels are incomplete and that heurmenutics are subject to the political and cultural environment of the day, as well as the psychological predispositions of the scholar doing the interpreting. A complete reading would necessarily include the Gnostic Gospels, which shed a relentlessly mocking light on the canon. The entireity of the available literature tells us this: he lived, he spoke, he may or may not have married, he may or may not have died on the cross, he may or may not have had children, he may or may not have gone on to live as an Essene, he may or may not have risen from the dead, he may or may not have been a brunette and possibly he had head lice. Chances are good. We do know that his mother did not have a fine toothed steel comb however but that she probably would have appreciated one since she may or may not have had more children. Based on this information we have a worldwide monotheistic religion that, when merged in a syncretistic fashion with pagan Germanic tribal tradition results in an annual orgy of cutting down trees, bringing them inside and buying way too much wrapping paper. It warms the heart to know that we come together, regardless of religion ultimately, to celebrate his birth even though, given the actual dates of the Roman census of that time, it probably took place in May.

Thoprac Mishri is a leading proponet of the Christmas is More Than Christ's Birthday movement which is dedicated to the belief that anyone, anywhere can celebrate anything at all for any reason but that the support of a major organized religion sometimes helps.

David Yuan-Lee Knowles answers: Everyone likes to think of him as one of their own. In England he is white, in Africa he is black. Our tradition, ancient Confusionism, maintains that he was Asian, but just taller than the average Asian man and with more facial hair. We are pretty certain that when no one was looking he would braid his hair into a long queue and play with his beard so that it tapered on the edges of each tip. These physical attributes clearly explain his apparent rejection of formal religious structures. Random, but possibly true like so much that we know. Along the same lines, his spirituality like all spirituality, was based on acceptance, love and tolerance, especially for those who disagree with you and have power over you. See?

A GOOP Spoof

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Go: Mongolia!

I’ve just returned from a very spontaneous trip to Mongolia where I was just stunned and overwhelmed by the beauty and wonder of the architecture, food and people but not really the weather or accommodations. Mongolia is literally days away virtually any way you chose to travel, but once you get there, you realize that the air is different. Cleaner, purer, more innocent. It is a place I will definitely spontaneously visit again because I’m not quite sure when anyone would actually plan in advance to go there given other available options. Through good friends I met three very lusciously charming young men who opened their yurt up to me and my entourage. They revealed parts of Mongolia that would otherwise have remained hidden. Here, we’ve put together a list of the most BEST places to GO!

You-Tang Yurght
Desolate Plain

I stayed at the newly renovated You-Tang Yurght, here pictured, located in the heart of the plain. The Svn Lassiter designed exterior blends seamlessly with the environment.

But, the outside is nothing compared with the inside. The beauty of the design is the way that it changes the weather around the actual tent by generating a field of harmony that lowers the temperature in the immediate area, like in a fairy tale. The Yurght (pronounced YURT) has several organic restaurants featuring cuisine from other desolate regions of world – a first in my experience. The food and drink at any of these venues would please the most difficult foodie and, believe me, I know some difficult foodies. Speaking of which, I could not resist a daily cashmere skin facial and buttocks massage. The uniqueness of the goat actually still being attached to its skin during the process is very special. Everyone should try it at least once in this very short life. Absurdly luxurious!!

Blue House
Moron, Mongolia

If You Tang is not quite your cup of tea, I recommend staying at the more contemporary Blue House. This restored palatial residence only welcomes guests who wear shades of blue, the color of eternal peace and inner sanctity. So hip it hurts, but not so much that it will kill you. Definitely a bargain if you have been on a spiritual quest and having no luck. The quick fix aesthetic is not just on the surface, but ends up being a fully immersive saturative experience. After a week of wearing blue, eating blue (yes! Only blue foods) and seeing blue you realize how overrated the rest of the spectrum is and how very little we all really need to be happy. Blue house is located in Moron (yes, a real place, really) and is a quick chartered camel ride from the capitol. You can also rent a Segway to get around the tent complex.

Mongolian Berry

This is not a place, but a gift. This small yellow berry is my new miracle food. It has the amazing quality of tasting like nothing. Which is different from having no taste, which we all know is a sad thing. I had never seen or eaten the Mongolian Berry before my Mongolian BFFs introduced me to it at breakfast on my first day there. We at it muddled into our water with a soupcon of honey. Divine. At lunch, I sprinkled the berries onto my salad and ended up just picking them out and only eating them (but I made sure that the remainder of my salad went to someone who really needed greens, which are sometimes very hard to find here). By dinner I was hooked. Dried Mongolian Berrys were powdered and used as the primary spice in our Hot Pot. If you can’t make it to Moron you can order them directly from Matt and Galinda, two New Zealand expats who’ve built a life around the berries that is enviable. At $20.00 a quarter pound (plus shipping, sorry) you can supply yourself well for a Berry-filled feast.

A GOOP Spoof

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Get: Regifting with Elan

Let's be honest: everybody, at some point, has regifted. As those of you who always agree with me know, I think regifting was originally conceived by native Americans. Ramon A. Gutierrez, associate professor of history and ethnic studies at the University of California, San Diego, writes about the social aspects and inequalities of gift giving. Regifting isn't the central thesis of his book When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away: 1500-1846 (Stanford University Press, 1991) but can be inferred to include regifting, if you have an open enough mind body dialog. In a conversation that I imaged having with him during an inner peace stretch session early yesterday morning it occurred to me that we could all benefit from a return to Native American giving habits and their uncanny reliance on what are now recognised to be sound ecological recycling practices. But, their gifts were so not stylish.

Hence today's letter: regift with elan. Here are some great ideas:

Personalize It: every object can be personalized - if you are artistic enough you can do it yourself with an etching knife or, for those of us more challenged in that arena, by taking it to Tiffanys. Even if the gift didn't start there if you use this code: POOGrocks when you take the gift in, they'll do it for just $150.00. Far cheaper than the cost of a new gift.

Daisy Chain It: With every regift include a "regifting chain." This is the list of people you'd like to see this gift go to over the course of the next year. It's really special if you write the list on embossed paper in a Renaissance script, to capture the holiday spirit. It's really a nice gesture when you are regifting to a particularly busy person. Takes their having to think about who to give it to next right out of the process. For those among us that love things, this document can take on a life of its own and in this sterile digital age who doesn't love a hand-written progressive regifting geneology at the end of the year? Pas moi!

Give it Star Power: Think of your most illustrious friend and have them autograph the object. This is always fun and can make for years of cocktail party patter. One of my favorites! One of my most treasured possessions is a paper weight carved from the petrified skin of pig carcass suspended in translucent oleo. M. thought a signature from Damien Hirst was just the right thing and I have to agree.

Location! Location! Location!: Last but now least, half of the gift is its packaging. Colorful, drawstring silk bags hand painted in Nepal can make any gift memorable. Don't underestimate the power of cashmere, either. Cut up any old blanket or throw to make delightful gift saris. Tie with a starched satin ribbon and your good to go!

I hope you like these as much as I do and that they help to make your seasonal regifting a little more fun! Send us your ideas!


A GOOP Spoof