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Rules Of Life

“If I knew how it was going to end, I probably wouldn’t write it.”
– Tom Robbins in 1994, as told to Tod Mesirow

Tom Robbins, author of classics like Still Life of Woodpecker, Jitterbug Perfume, and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, takes us inside the mind of a writer who’d prefer writing with a raven quill dipped in lizard blood. For many, including tons of college students, Robbins transported readers to another world where it seemed possible that enormously oversized thumbs could bring you happiness, and romance could take place inside a pack of cigarettes. Where do these fantastic stories begin?

We present outtakes from a previously unheard interview Robbins did with Tod Mesirow back in 1994 for a film about authors that was never made. In this episode of Blank on Blank, Robbins dreams about a nurse serving him tequila sunrises when he’s 85, why he took a two-by-four to typewriter and works in pen and paper, how his first attempts at writing began when he was five and a story about a pilot stuck on a deserted island, and how he pours over every word in his books 30 or 40 times.

Courage My Love released their latest LP Spirit Animal this year and it’ s a great one. Any record label should be proud to have them on their label – they have imagination, confidence, and have accomplished a great deal since their start.  But this week shows why they are amazing. Drummer and vocalist Phoenix Arn-Horn  took to social media this past week for a public coming-out message and to offer support to other young gay people.

On Wednesday (December 10), the musician posted the following message via Facebook:

Turns out I’m gay. I’ve known since I was 14 and my parents knew since even before then. Don’t be scared to be yourself. People have told me not to post about it because it might “hold me back,” but I’m proud of who I am and the beautiful girls I’ve dated. People have even told me not to post about it because it could “limit our fan base.” Honestly, I don’t write music for those people.

I write music because it’s the only way I can exorcise certain parts of myself. I write music for people with the same demons as me. I know there are people out there going through things that need some form of release. People like me. THAT’s who I write music for. If someone listens to a song I’ve written and it helps them in some small way, then I’ve done what I set out to do. And I’ll try not to listen to the people that bring my sexuality into the equation, because that’s not what this is about. My sexuality has nothing to do with it.

*mic drop*

She followed it up with another message yesterday (December 12):

Some of you probably already saw, but a few days ago I posted something really important to me on Twitter/Facebook. I’ve never really tried to hide it, and it’s probably pretty obvious, but for the first time in my life I typed out the words “I’m gay” and posted them. It might not seem like a big deal (and honestly it shouldn’t be), but to me it is. I can’t tell you how liberating it is to come right out and say it. I’ve known since I was 14 and my parents and sister knew since even before then. I’m so lucky because none of them even cared.

Unfortunately I can’t say the same for some other people.

I had a rough time with it as a teenager, I still don’t even really want to talk about it. I still try not to even think about it. The worst part is, I know I’m not the only one. I’m not the only one who has things they can’t talk about, or memories they’ve worked hard to block out. And I got off easy compared to most of them. I was lucky enough to have a supportive family and for the most part, supportive friends. Others don’t…

If something I say can get someone else through the night okay, why the fuck would I not post about it? HOW the fuck could I not post about it? I know that not everyone will see it the way I do, I know that not everyone will understand, but at this point, I don’t care. If I’m the one that stands up and says something, then maybe there’s someone else out there who will see that it’s okay. If I’m the one that the hurtful words get aimed at, then maybe it will take away the hurt from someone else. I’m sorry for the people that won’t understand or get offended. I’m sorry that it bothers you so much. The thing is, I’ll always be sorry for you, never sorry to you. Hopefully one day you can see the difference and one day we can be friends, because if you got to know me, you’d know that I’m just like you.

I know I might get some hate for this but I also know that it doesn’t matter. Not anymore. I would’ve cared when I was 14. But things get better. People can be kind. The world is a beautiful place. Love you guys, thank you.

She wins the internet this week.

From Brain Pickings:

In early June of 1993, several months before cancer took his life at the age of thirty-two, beloved comedian Bill Hicks received a letter from a priest, bemoaning the “blasphemous” content in Hicks’s live television special Revelations and reprimanding British broadcaster Channel 4 for having put it on the air. Writing a mere eight days before his fatal pancreatic cancer diagnosis — a young man still oblivious to his imminent tragic fate — Hicks decided to respond to the missive personally, in what became one of the most lucid and beautiful defenses of the freedom of speech ever articulated.

Dear Sir,

After reading your letter expressing your concerns regarding my special ‘Revelations’, I felt duty-bound to respond to you myself in hopes of clarifying my position on the points you brought up, and perhaps enlighten you as to who I really am. Where I come from — America — there exists this wacky concept called ‘freedom of speech’, which many people feel is one of the paramount achievements in mankind’s mental development. I myself am a strong supporter of the ‘Right of freedom of speech’, as I’m sure most people would be if they truly understood the concept. ‘Freedom of speech’ means you support the right of people to say exactly those ideas which you do not agree with. (Otherwise, you don’t believe in ‘freedom of speech’, but rather only those ideas which you believe to be acceptably stated.) Seeing as how there are so many different beliefs in the world, and as it would be virtually impossible for all of us to agree on any one belief, you may begin to realize just how important an idea like ‘freedom of speech’ really is. The idea basically states ‘while I don’t agree or care for what you are saying, I do support your right to say it, for herein lies true freedom.

It’s worth pausing here to note that in the DNA of the Christian Church, as an institution, is a compulsion to do precisely the opposite — to suppress the views that contradict its dogmas. One need only look to Galileo’s trails to appreciate how far back and how deeply these foundations of power-maintenance through censorship run. (But, of course, there’s always Flannery O’Connor to clarify the difference between dogmatic religion and faith.)

While I’ve found many of the religious shows I’ve viewed over the years not to be to my liking, or in line with my own beliefs, I’ve never considered it my place to exert any greater type of censorship than changing the channel, or better yet — turning off the TV completely.

In support of your position of outrage, you posit the hypothetical scenario regarding the possibly ‘angry’ reaction of Muslims to material they might find similarly offensive. Here is my question to you: Are you tacitly condoning the violent terrorism of a handful of thugs to whom the idea of ‘freedom of speech’ and tolerance is perhaps as foreign as Christ’s message itself? If you are somehow implying that their intolerance to contrary beliefs is justifiable, admirable, or perhaps even preferable to one of acceptance and forgiveness, then I wonder what your true beliefs really are.

If you had watched my entire show, you would have noticed in my summation of my beliefs the fervent plea to the governments of the world to spend less money on the machinery of war, and more on feeding, clothing, and educating the poor and needy of the world … A not-so-unchristian sentiment at that!

Ultimately, the message in my material is a call for understanding rather than ignorance, peace rather than war, forgiveness rather than condemnation, and love rather than fear. While this message may have understandably been lost on your ears (due to my presentation), I assure you the thousands of people I played to in my tours of the United Kingdom got it.

John Cage was an avant-garde composer whose work has left a lasting influence on contemporary music. (Thom York of Radiohead calls Cage one of his all-time heroes.) Cage’s work included such experimentation as using a prepared piano (meaning objects are placed inside the piano to alter the sound) and a composition called 433, in which the musicians make no sounds at all for four minutes and thirty-three seconds.

RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.

RULE TWO: General duties of a studentpull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

RULE THREE: General duties of a teacherpull everything out of your students.

RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.

RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined: this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.

RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

RULE EIGHT: Dont try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.

RULE TEN: We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.

HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everythingit might come in handy later.

From Corita Kents book Learning by Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit

“Comedy is there to basically show us we fart, we laugh. To make us realize we still are part animal…. So you don’t take yourself seriously and destroy the species.”
– Robin Williams in 1991, as told to Lawrence Grobel

Comedian and actor Robin Williams died on August 11, 2014 at the age of 63. In tribute, we wanted to create an animated interview short that shed a light on both his brilliant, rapid-fire, comedic mind, as well as his sensitivity and concern for the world around him. We found the perfect outtakes–vintage Robin Williams–in two interviews recorded by Lawrence Grobel for a story he wrote for Playboy magazine in 1992.

This Robin Williams episode begins with his predictions for what the world would be like in 2020 (30 years in the future from when this was recorded) and his own philosophy of why comedy is needed to help us not take ourselves too seriously. Remember, he said: “we still are part animal.”

And then Robin Williams breaks down the comedy of sex and the universal faces people make during lovemaking. Classic. Needless to say, we loved animating the noises Robin Williams made. Finally he turns to the joys of having children and looks inward at his own shortcomings and, of course, being hairy.

Enjoy, everybody. RIP, Robin. We miss you

In a video posted to Twitter, Monday, Prince Harry revealed that he gets incredibly nervous before speaking in front of a crowd. The confession is part of the #feelnoshame campaign for his charity Sentebale.

John Green has written best-selling young adult novels including Looking For Alaska, Paper Towns and the recent The Fault in our Stars, which was named Time magazine’s best fiction book of 2012. Want a good cry? Go see them movie.

John and his brother, Hank, are the Vlogbrothers, helping pioneer video blogging when they communicated only through YouTube videos for a year. They’ve since produced a wide variety of video series and have attracted a devoted army of fans known as the Nerdfighters.

The amazing Zen Pencils created a cartoon based on a quote taken from a 2009 Vlogbrothers video, and is definitely a rule for life.

2013-06-11-johngreen1

Movember, the global charity that raises funds and awareness for prostate and testicular cancer research and men’s mental health, is proud to share that more than 115,000 Canadians participated and raised over $20 million in its 8th annual campaign. Canada is the leading fundraising nation, with more than $75 million raised globally. Funds will continue to come in over the coming weeks as Mo Bros and Mo Sistas wrap up their fundraising efforts.

Tomorrow Mo Bros and Mo Sistas across Canada will make one final call for donations as part of #GivingTuesday. Support a Mo you know and donate at Movember.com.

“It’s with thanks to all our Mo Bros and Mo Sistas who donate and make their support count that Canada once again leads as the top fundraising nation,” said Pete Bombaci, Country Director, Movember Canada. “To be able to share with our community that our funds have lead to a prostate cancer research breakthrough championed right here in Canada is truly remarkable. It’s why we mo.”

MO MONEY, MO IMPACT

Movember has made more progress combating prostate cancer this year than ever before. The results of a Movember funded project, lead by researchers right here in Canada, is a game changer for men with a prostate cancer diagnosis. It means that in the future, men from around the world will have a higher chance of survival by being offered a more tailored treatment plan. And, it’s just one example of the impact funds raised by the Movember community is having.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Funds from the 2014 campaign will benefit men’s health programs and projects across the country. The Movember Foundation is incredibly proud of its world-class programs and will continue working to identify the best programs and research opportunities that align with it’s vision – to change the face of men’s health. Funds will be allocated in the months following April 2015.

CHALLENGES & PRIZING

For Mo Bros and Mo Sistas, there are still some great prizes still to be won, so keep up the good work. The close for prizing is December 9th, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. EST.

Movember’s 2014 Canadian major partners include Harry’s and Deeley Harley-Davidson®

For more information on Movember or to donate, please visit Movember.com.

To mark World AIDS Day 2014, Apple and leading app developers are inviting customers to help (RED) achieve the goal of an AIDS-free generation. For the next two weeks, a special section of the App Store called Apps for (RED) will offer 25 apps with exclusive new content where all proceeds will go directly to the Global Fund to fight AIDS. In addition, Apple will donate a portion of sales at Apple’s retail and online stores around the world on two of the biggest shopping days of the year: Friday, November 28 and Monday, December 1.

“Apple is a proud supporter of (RED) because we believe the gift of life is the most important gift anyone can give,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “For eight years, our customers have been helping fight AIDS in Africa by funding life-saving treatments which are having a profoundly positive impact. This year we are launching our biggest fundraising push yet with the participation of Apple’s retail and online stores, and some of the brightest minds in the App Store are lending their talents to the effort as well.”

Apple and App Store developers will generate donations for (RED) in several ways over the next two weeks:

• From Monday, November 24 through Sunday, December 7, the App Store’s Apps for (RED) campaign will feature 25 fan-favourite apps with exclusive new content. Every time a customer purchases a participating (PRODUCT)RED app or an exclusive In-App Purchase, all proceeds will go to the Global Fund.

• On Friday, November 28, Apple customers in the US will receive a special edition (RED) iTunes gift card with the purchase of select Apple products. For each gift card distributed, Apple will also donate a percentage to the Global Fund. 

• On Monday, December 1— World AIDS Day—Apple will donate a portion of every sale at Apple’s retail and online stores to the Global Fund to fight AIDS.

“Apple isn’t just in the fight to end AIDS. They are setting a new bar for business, giving $75 million and counting to the Global Fund as part of their partnership with (RED),” said Bono, co-founder of (RED). “I couldn’t be prouder to work with them.” 

Apps for (RED) marks the first-ever global App Store initiative in support of (RED). Participating developers have created (RED)-inspired content and experiences for their fans to enjoy, including:

• Angry Birds players can perfect their bird-flinging with (RED)’s Mighty Feathers and challenge themselves to a bonus golden egg level. 

• Bubble Witch 2 Saga offers new (PRODUCT)RED levels across all 17 episodes of the game. Gold bar currency purchases will be donated to (RED).

• CSR Racing delivers new in-game thrills with the highly anticipated Mercedes Benz-AMG GT. 

• Clash of Clans warriors can prepare for battle with special edition (PRODUCT)RED gems and display a (RED) badge of honor on the village’s town hall. 

• Clear’s users can perfect their organizational skills with a new (PRODUCT)RED theme which appears automatically with all new downloads. 

• Cut the Rope 2 unveils a wide selection of (PRODUCT)RED items including a new red hat, red touch print, red balloons and a red ginger cookie.

• Despicable Me: Minion Rush reveals a new Lifeguard minion that helps players boost their banana collection skills by 200 percent.

• DJay 2’s spin tables turn (RED) and offer DJs a special sound pack.

• FarmVille 2: Country Escape players can “Roll out the RED Carpet” and purchase limited-time items such as the Cozy Cow, St. Bernard and more.

• FIFA 15 Ultimate Team players can compete in a (RED) Tournament and Team of the Week event. All winners will be awarded football superstar and (RED) Ambassador Rafa Marquez.

• Frozen Free Fall unveils a magical new (RED) Challenge in the Kingdom of Arendelle, and offers an exclusive combined offer of 1 power-up, 1 snowball and 3 lives.

• GarageBand users can now purchase an exclusive collection of 300 guitar, bass, synth and drum loops to create even more amazing music. 

• Kim Kardashian: Hollywood’s aspiring celebrity players can treat themselves to (PRODUCT)RED items including (BEATS)RED Solo2 headphones. Kris Jenner, the first family member to join Kim’s in-app world, will make her in-game debut on December 1.

• Head’s Up! competition heats up with an exclusive new deck featuring (RED) words.

• The Human Body debuts the Immune System feature, educating users on how the body fights pathogens. The accompanying handbook features a new section on HIV/AIDS.

• Kitchen Stories Cookbook will offer a special-edition holiday recipe pack, featuring dishes from renowned chefs Mario Batali, Martha Stewart, Luke Holden and Michael Lomonaco.

• Monument Valley offers a whole new chapter of Ida’s Journey, marking the final new feature of the game. 

• Over customers have access to a wide selection of (PRODUCT)RED fonts and inspiring artwork, specially created by six artists. Users can share photos with the (RED) brackets overlay to help spread awareness. 

• Paper by FiftyThree enthusiasts can enjoy a new (PRODUCT)RED Essentials Pack including Sketch, Outline, Write, Color and Mixer tools.

• Puzzle & Dragons players have exclusive access to the new (PRODUCT)RED magic stone.

• Rayman Fiesta Run introduces a new (RED) edition to their wacky Fiesta world, and players can purchase a pack of three new costumes for Rayman, Globox and Teensy characters.

• Star Walk 2 users can learn more about Mars with the comprehensive new RED Planet feature.

• Sims FreePlay features a special community challenge that unlocks various rewards, and players can purchase limited-edition (PRODUCT)RED items such as a swimming pool, party plane and piñata.

• Threes! turns (RED) with a limited-edition (PRODUCT)RED theme.

• Toca Boca paints Toca Town (RED)! Kids can discover new (RED) diamonds, sample (RED) ice cream in the app and look for other surprises throughout the game.

More information about Apple’s World AIDS Day 2014 campaign, including Apps for (RED), is available at www.apple.ca/red.