Harry Potter

Doing Dallas: Meditation Medication

Each week, this Virginian will try a new Dallasite activity and blog about the experience. Not gonna lie, this past week has been stressful. As a college student, I’m entering into that wonderful time of the semester in which professors feel the need to assign a million papers, and then conspire together to make them all due on the same day. Higher education, man. To give you an idea of how it’s going, I’ve put together a brief storyboard:

Doing Dallas

When I found out that the Crow Collection of Asian Art offers hour-long meditation sessions every Sunday in its galleries, I knew I’d stumbled across this week’s Doing Dallas.* A chance to find inner peace and feng shui? Why not?! More important, a chance to procrastinate all my work in the name of stress relief? Heck yes! Unable to pass-up such an opportunity, I headed on down to the Crow for an afternoon of Zen and deep-breathing. Here’s what happened.

*The Crow also offers weekly Tai Chi classes, which I first read as "Chai Tea" classes and misunderstood to be weekly tea tastings. I was crestfallen to learn this is not the case, as I do love a good cup of chocolate chai.

Getting There

Never having meditated before, I had no idea what to expect. Well, that’s not true. I read Siddhartha in high-school and watched the Friends episode on Unagi, so I wasn’t going into this experience completely blind. Even though I knew this would only be a mental workout, for some reason I felt compelled to also dress in workout attire (perhaps, subconsciously, I was hoping that elements of the Tai Chi/Chai Tea would be incorporated). If you were wondering, this wardrobe choice led me to stick out like a sore thumb as I wandered through the museum’s sacred ancient artifacts.

As I set off toward downtown, I suddenly became aware of my gnawing hunger. Checking the clock, I knew I’d be cutting it close if I stopped to grab some grub. A mental war then ensued – boy, would this meditation be good for me – as I tried to decide what would be worse: arriving late to a mediation or having my stomach rumblings distract from others’ practice. I opted for food and grabbed a coffee, too; suddenly scared that keeping my eyes closed for longer than 10 seconds would have me out like a baby.

Please note the small, circular butt pillow stacked  atop the larger butt pillow. Mediation doesn’t really play around when it comes to the comfortableness of your butt.

Breathe in the Light

Thankfully, my insatiable hunger did not make me late, and upon arriving I sat down on one of the many floor pillows, ready to dive into my inner consciousness. Moments later, the teacher arrived and we started right into the practice.

“We’ll start with a simple opening mediation. Breathe in, and as you do so, visualize yourself inhaling light.”

Hmm…okay. As I tried to imagine this visualization, all I could think of was the scene in the first Harry Potter movie where Dumbledore uses a deluminator to collect light from streetlamps. Distracted, I couldn’t help but think of my nose as doing the same thing, and so I started chuckling to myself. Clearly I was off to a good start.

“Now, I want you to imagine that with every out-breath, you’re exhaling thick black smoke.”

Trying to get my brain back on track, I sincerely tried to imagine this image, too. But, as I did so, I kept thinking about blowing smoke rings. This got me thinking about smoke in general, and then fire, then chestnuts roasting over an open fire, and before I knew it I was crafting my Christmas wish-list. No! Focus, Chelsea, focus.

“…and so you now have your object, so let’s think about that for the next 10 minutes.”

Crap! Somewhere between dreaming of new boots and sweaters, I’d missed the explanation of this what this “object” I was supposed to be thinking about was. Oy vey. Well, I guess the next 10 minutes would be devoted to experimenting with the feasibility of sleeping while sitting upright.

Mental Olympics

Possible dresses for my next sorority formal y/n?

By the start of the next round of meditations, my mind was gone. Hummingbirds, The Great Gatsby, the thumbs-up emoji, popsicles, you name it, I thought about it. For a while, I was consumed with worry that we weren’t saying “ommmm” like in Siddhartha, but after a few minutes my mind moved on to the next topic, even as the teacher instructed us to “focus.”

Thirty-five minutes into the hour-long meditation, the coffee I’d drank on the way over hit my bladder, and I could think of nothing else. Knowing that my practice was doomed, I decided to silently stand and head toward the restroom. On my way, I wandered through the Crow’s special Japanese fashion exhibit, and sidetracked (obviously) I stopped to take pictures.

 

What I Learned

Sunday, I learned that it is possible to fall asleep sitting upright. And that it isn’t a good idea to consume a lot of liquids before meditating. And that I might have ADD, and that I am not cut out for meditation. All in all, I’d say a lot of great lessons were learned!

And, while I may be too mentally weak for meditation, the experience was relaxing and enjoyable. So now, I’m much less like:

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And a lot more like:

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Chelsea is a Level 5 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She is obsessed with music of the 60s & 70s and her vices include vanilla lattes and Swedish Fish. You can check out more of Chelsea’s thoughts and ponderings HERE!

(Photos from https://twitter.com/ColIegeStudent)

#Ashtag Week 16: Sweet, Sweet Girl Power

Sixteen weeks checked off of our collective calendar. Sixteen weeks of learning about what's popular, what's cool, what's in and hip, learning about what the kids are into, learning about what's gone viral. Sixteen weeks. Boy, does time fly. If we were married, the traditional anniversary gift would be silver hollowware. What is that? Hollow things made of silver like teapots, ice buckets, goblets, et cetera. I didn't know what hollowware was. I learned the definition from the Internet. The same Internet that told me that hollowware was the traditional gift. Let's learn cooler things from the Internet now, shall we? I censored them both equally. I also gave Putin a helmet for the whole equality thing.

Chelsea Handler is the top search on Google right now. She posted a picture of herself topless on a horse to mirror Vladmir Putin's photo of himself topless on a horse. Handler is making a statement that lady nipples should be free and allowed on Instagram just like man nipples are allowed. #Ashtag is not a place for my opinions. Well, I think I may only be saying that because I do not have strong feelings about lady nipples being allowed on Instagram. As a woman, should I have more passionate feelings? I suppose I should. I feel like any human body can be displayed without being salacious booty fodder. But it really doesn't bother me that lady nips aren't allowed on Instagram. Please don't take my woman card away from me, ghost of Betty Friedan.

Hermione as Rosie the Riveter. Girl Power.

Well, if you don't believe in perfect segues, step back and open your eyes. I wrote my pleas to Friedan, and then I read the next top search on Google: Rosie the Riveter. Well, hello, sign. I guess I get to keep my Feministo card, fellas. The building that used to be the Willow Run Bomber Plant was saved last week from demolition. Thousands of ladies, including ladies that inspired the image for Rosie the Riveter, built bombers during WWII. The rescue of this building and tons and tons of Halloween costumes of her put Rosie the Riveter on top of the Internet this week.

Ladies get another point this week as J.K. Rowling's profile of Dolores Umbridge is another top Google search. Although, as I consider myself a fan of Harry Potter (listen to Jim Dale's narration on the audiobooks - I cannot praise it enough), I can admit that Dolores Umbridge counts for quite a large deduction of points for females. She is an awful character. But she was created by a woman, so plus one point! There is no actual gender scoreboard.

And thank goodness for that. Because Amanda Bynes is back in the spotlight. If there were a scoreboard, we'd be minus some big points for this one, ladies. She doesn't have to stay in the mental institution, but she does have to remain under her mother's conservatorship until 2015. This is sad. Let's move on.

Back to Harry Potter talk, one of the top-viewed videos on YouTube this week is "Daniel Radcliffe Raps Blackalicious' 'Alphabet Aerobics.'" The clip is from The Tonight Show where Radcliffe does exactly as the title says he does. It is quite impressive. I don't believe I could even read all of those words to that rhythm let alone memorize and spit them with mad game like he does. I bet he could do the same to Blackalicious' "Chemical Calisthenics." I'm a fan of that song, you should check it out. See, I like music. Let's go look up the top music videos. I sure hope it's a girl, so as to fit this theme we've almost got going.

According to MTV, Tove Lo's "Habits" is a top music video this week. At first, I wasn't sure if Tove Lo was a boy or a girl, so I watched the video. It's a girl (yay! theme!) and I've heard this song before. It's a catchy little diddy, I guess. Here's a thing I don't like: I don't like cigarettes being cool again. Cigarettes suck. They stink. I'm sick of seeing people younger than me smoking them. I guess #ashtag is a place for opinions after all.

Oh, I almost forgot. I am still playing the game. Kim threw a Halloween party. She dressed as a leopard. I wore a red hood and an unmatching dress because I refuse to spend real money on a costume in the game. #IknowitsuncoolofmetojudgeotherswhenIplaytheKardashiangameIreallydo

Ashley Bright is a writer/performer at Dallas Comedy House. She’s a graduate of and an instructor for the DCH Improv Training Program. You can see her perform every weekend at Dallas Comedy House.

What We're Loving: Life Experience, Cooked Hamm Sandwich, Illiterate Hollywood

photo (1)Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison finds a new favorite tv show, Ashley Bright might be the real Don Draper, and Ryan Callahan pays a visit to 1980's Hollywood.

imgresLook, I am well aware that Andy Daly has been talked about before on this website, specifically here and here. With that said, his new show Review is my favorite thing on television right now and you need to know to check it out.  The program is a stateside interpretation of an Australian show where a host, Forrest MacNeil (Daly), reviews and rates life experiences like doing cocaine, going to prom, and being Batman.  Each episode opens with the quote “Life, it’s literally all we have, but is it any good?” which is a perfect summation of what to expect.

The show is four episodes in and, unlike most shows of this type, each episode builds on the previous  Thus far, the peak has come in week three. The episode begins with his review of eating fifteen pancakes, a task he previously found unimaginable as he’s “never eaten more than two pancakes in a month.”  The way the episode heightens his pain in the next two reviews is beautiful and I refuse to spoil any of it.  Review can be seen on Thursdays at 9 pm cst on Comedy Central or you can just come over and we’ll watch it together. Either way works for me, I just want to make sure you check out this show. - David Allison

mad-men-season-6-jon-hamm-2I'll admit it: I'm partial to Jon Hamm. His appearances during the live 30 Rock episodes were some of my favorite moments of the show. And if I can personally relate to any fictional character, it's Don Draper. You may be thinking to yourself, "Geez Ashley, you must think you're quite the cool customer." I do, but I also relate to his less cool (i.e. slightly crazy) emotional complexities. Also, we learned in the "Zu Bi Zu Bi Zu" episode that Don's birthday is June 1 - so is mine! I've gotten off topic trying to convince you that I'm as cool as Don Draper. This week I watched A Young Doctor's Notebook starring Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe. I've only watched the four episodes available on Netflix, but it was such an intriguing 80 minute nugget that I can't wait to watch the rest. So far, two seasons of four episodes each have aired on BBC. The show is cringingly amusing. I literally cringed and covered my eyes while watching it. But I also laughed. It's dark and different and recommend giving it a watch. And not just because I'm partial to Jon Hamm. - Ashley Bright

jon-peters-book-0905-03Stories of behind-the-scenes drama and the clash of creative egos have always appealed to me. Over the past few years, books like Difficult Men, Pictures at a Revolution, and Marvel: The Untold Story earned a spot on my nightstand with their gossipy takes on artists and wannabe-artists behaving badly, boldly, and blindly. Hit and Run by Nancy Griffin and Kim Masters, which I read this week, tells the story of Sony's disastrous foray into the movie business. But that's not why I'm writing about it. I'm writing about it because it contains a treasure trove of the best kind of Hollywood stories: Jon Peters stories. Jon Peters stories are the best. For those who don't know, Peters, pictured at left carrying his business partner Peter Guber, is a famous Hollywood rags to riches story. A high school drop-out turned hairdresser, Peters became, thanks to then girlfriend Barbra Streisand, a producer on the remake of A Star is Born. Peters used Streisand's clout and his own brand of personal intensity to make the movie about his love affair with Streisand. It was a six million dollar home movie. And it was a hit. From there, Peters was off and running, using his relationships, his force of will, and his fearsome temper, to become one of the richest and most powerful producers in Hollywood, despite being largely illiterate.

Today, Peters is remembered, if he's remembered at all, as the man who wanted to make a Superman movie where Superman didn't fly, didn't wear his costume, and fought a giant mechanical spider. But in his day, Jon Peters was the 800 pound gorilla. Nobody did it bigger, costlier, or crazier. Hit and Run is full of Jon Peters stories: Jon Peters wooing Swedish supermodel Vendela by sending her a private jet full of flowers. Jon Peters visiting the set of Rain Main and asking Dustin Hoffman whether he played, "the retard or the other guy." Jon Peters breaking the jaw of a marketing executive and then hiding under a desk when the cops came. They don't make them like Jon Peters anymore, nor should they. Hollywood is, was, and will always be, the real Land of Misfit Toys. For a while, Jon Peters was the greatest misfit of all. I'm thankful that a man like him exists, and that I never have to meet him. - Ryan Callahan