July 2013
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Rick Moranis - My Mother's Brisket & Other Love Songs [Review]

Coming eight years after his country-flavored album The Agoraphobic CowboyRick Moranis' 2013 effort is still based in musical comedy, but it goes in a completely different direction, because there's not much call for songs like "Live Blogging the Himel Family Bris" or "Kiss My Mezuzah" down at the local honky tonk. For all the schlemiels who haven't figured it out, My Mother's Brisket & Other Love Songsis the joyful and loving sound of Moranis returning to his Jewish American roots, with klezmer, jazz, folk, and nostalgic pop music supporting witty songs about food, tradition, family, and food. The title track is a rhumba where he goes on "another chivas bender" over the family dish he's ever so homesick over, while "I'm Old Enough to Be You Zaide" is the passionate Jewish tango version of Lolita or the Police's "Don't Stand So Close to Me" as our hero nervously removes his sweat-stained yarmulke and protests to the young woman "You're digital and I'm still Beta." With wonderfully alive klezmer music behind him plus the opening lines "We ran into the Feldmans, man did they look great/Mindy graduated with a 3.8" the key track "Pu-Pu-Pu" is entirely in the style of the album's main influence, '60s great novelty song artist Allan Sherman, whose style is reflected in Moranis' heavily-accented delivery, lyrics that mix the modern and the traditional, and even the album's nostalgia-filled artwork. Moranis retired from making movies in 1997, and while many would like to see him bust ghosts and shrink kids again, smart, strange projects like these are as rich and rewarding as his work for SCTV. My Mother's Brisket is delicious, delightful, and quite a tribute. Mazel tov!

Check Out Dozens of Sun Ra's Charts

Check Out Dozens of Sun Ra's Charts

Check Out Dozens of Sun Ra's Charts
Sun Ra stands out in the history of jazz for many reasons. Most notably-- and famously-- is his unparalleled commitment to the cosmic aspect of cosmic jazz. A pioneer of afrofuturism, he believed, at least on the surface, that he was actually from space (Saturn, specifically). A lot of his music is accordingly spacey-- but what's often overlooked is his foundations in more straightforward jazz. Though he emerged as a major figure and a progenitor of free jazz in the 1960s, his career as a composer dates back to the '30s. He wasn't always "Sun Ra," and his music wasn't always futuristic big band chaos. This is abundantly clear in the series of charts recently posted by David Menestres, spanning over forty years of Sun Ra's career. They showcase the work of a man (or alien) deft at composition, clearly knowledgeable of straight-ahead and traditional jazz music. Many of the charts seem to be lead sheets and sketches, but they're striking for their simplicity regardless. As over-the-top as Sun Ra's persona was, he was a true jazz composer and bandleader-- and that's evident even in his weirdest music, and in these charts. (via ISSUE Project Room)
Download the charts here.

Holotropic Breathwork

Holotropic Breathwork

Holotropic Breathwork[1] (from Greek ὅλος holos "whole" and τρέπειν trepein "to turn or direct towards a thing"; meaning "moving toward wholeness") is a practice that uses breathing and other elements to allow access to non-ordinary states for the purpose of self-exploration. It was developed by Stanislav Grof, M.D., Ph.D. and Christina Grof, Ph.D.[2] Holotropic breathing has some similarities to rebirthing-breathwork, but was developed independently.[citation needed] Holotropic Breathwork is intended as an approach to self-exploration and healing that integrates insights from modern consciousness research, anthropology, various depth psychologies, transpersonal psychology, Eastern spiritual practices, and mystical traditions of the world.[citation needed]
The method comprises five elements: group process, intensified breathing (hyperventilation), evocative music, focused body work, and expressive drawing. The method's general effect is advocated as a non-specific amplification of a person's psychic process, which facilitates the psyche's natural capacity for healing.
Holotropic Breathwork is usually done in groups, although individual sessions are done. Within the groups, people work in pairs and alternate in the roles of experiencer ("breather") and "sitter". The sitter's primary responsibility is to focus compassionate attention on the breather. Secondarily, the sitter is available to assist the breather, but not to interfere or interrupt the process. The same is true for trained facilitators, who are available as helpers if necessary.[citation needed]
Originally developed as an adjunct to psychedelic psychotherapy, Holotropic Breathwork is an autonomous psychotherapeutic practice which, nevertheless, retains many of the clinical precautionary measures that were implemented in the medical use of LSD.
"Holotropic Breathwork" is a trademark.



Typical experiences[edit]

Participants in Holotropic Breathwork sessions report a wide variety of experiences (Taylor, 1994). From observing many people in nonordinary and expanded states of consciousness, Grof developed what he considers to be a “cartography” of the psyche, which describes four main categories of experience.
Sensory and Somatic: This realm of experience includes various hallucinatory phenomena, such as visualizing images or geometrical patterns. More commonly, participants report a greater awareness of and ability to act out somatic processes and bodily impulses, such as assuming postures, dancing or moving in specific ways, and making sounds. They may also claim to feel where energy is blocked or streaming, consistent with the belief in vitalism.
Biographical and Individual Unconscious: As in more traditional therapies, participants may revisit unresolved conflicts, repressed memories, and unintegrated traumas. Compared to talk therapies, the unconscious material is more likely to be re-experienced than merely remembered. Participants report that this deeper processing can be more effective at clearing trauma, especially as it relates to subtle ways that trauma is held in the body.
Perinatal: Along with most other Breathwork practitioners, and in disagreement with John Locke’s claim that the infant after birth is a tabula rasa, Grof believes that the birth process is a traumatic event that leaves powerful residue in the psyche (see "Importance of the birth process" below). Participants in Holotropic Breathwork sessions report having images, emotions, physical sensations, and cognitions that convince them that they are remembering aspects of their own birth. Sometimes details can be verified with medical records. Some claim that these experiences help them release the birth trauma, including deeply held negative beliefs about themselves or the world.
Transpersonal: Referring to the possibility of accessing information outside the normal boundaries of the ego and body, transpersonal experiences reported in Holotropic Breathwork sessions include past life memories, experiential identification with other life forms, out-of-body experiencesoneness, encounters with spiritual archetypes, and connection with the collective unconscious.

Importance of the birth process[edit]

One aspect of Grof's extensive theory is the belief that there is a connection between a person's life experiences and experiences in the birth process. In his book The Holotropic Mind, Grof (1992) separated this process into four stages known as the Perinatal Matrices:
  1. Amniotic Universe — The womb. The only world that life knows at this point. Blissful feelings of peace and joy, in a healthy womb.
  2. Cosmic Engulfment; No Exit — Equilibrium disturbed; contractions begin. Unbearable feeling of being stuck in hell with no way of escaping.
  3. Death versus Rebirth Struggle — Second clinical stage of childbirth; intense struggle for survival.
  4. Death versus Rebirth Experience — The child is born. Intense ecstatic feelings of liberation and love. New world begins.

Professional practice[edit]

There is an Association for Holotropic Breathwork International which promotes professional and ethical practices governing Holotropic Breathwork.
There is an extensive training and certification program for facilitators through Grof Transpersonal Training. For those who wish to become certified, there are two tracks, Educational and Practitioner. Both have the requirements of attendance at seven modules and a two-week closing intensive, covering training in transpersonal psychology (including psychopathology, spiritual emergency, and addictions), as well as the theory and practice of Holotropic Breathwork. The training also includes ten hours of consultation with a certified practitioner and 150 total hours of participation in HB workshops led by Stanislav Grof or a certified practitioner (Baum and Pounds, 1993). In addition, those wishing to become independent workshop leaders (Practitioners), must apprentice at least four times at workshops with previously certified practitioners before leading groups of their own. There are currently more than 1000 trained facilitators located throughout the world, including clinicians, businessmen, public, psychotherapists, etc.

Reactions and contraindications[edit]

In a section entitled "Focused Body Work", Grof (1988) writes: "The last component of holotropic therapy, the focused body work, is used only when it is indicated. There are many sessions with a smooth course where no interventions are required. In some of these sessions, the hyperventilation does not trigger any difficult emotions or unpleasant physical manifestations and leads to progressive relaxation and to feelings of an ecstatic nature. In others, emotional and psychosomatic distress develops, but continued breathing brings about quite automatically a good resolution and good integration of the session" (194). He goes on to say that there are "only a few situations when focused body work is necessary in the early phases of holotropic sessions" and that "the main indication for the use of focused body work is a situation during the termination period of the session (usually after about an hour and a half to two hours) in those individuals where the breathing and music did not bring a complete resolution" (194) He points out that the "work on such problems is desirable, since it brings the session to a cleaner resolution and better integration, but it is in no way mandatory" (194-5). It is in this context that Grof refers to the exteriorization of "the various forms of physical discomfort associated with the emotional distress" (195). At this stage, "it can be helpful to use certain interventions that cooperate with the process, deepen it, and intensify it ... massage or pressure in the areas that are tense or painful, or offers of specific resistances that increase existing tensions ... Among the reactions that might spontaneously occur under these circumstances are violent shaking, grimacing, coughing, gagging, vomiting, a variety of movements, and a wide range of sounds that include screaming, baby talk, animal voices, talking in tongues or a language foreign to the client, shamanic chanting, and many others" (196)
Contraindications to be considered include: serious cardiovascular problems, glaucoma, severe psychiatric illness, and pregnancy (202); while special precautions are recommended in the case of epileptics (203).
He points out that caution is required in the case of individuals with a history of psychiatric hospitalization. Such procedures are "not without certain risks" and "if the process gets to be too active and extends beyond the framework of the sessions, it can require special measures" (251). Elsewhere, he writes that "experiential work with severely disturbed individuals requires a special residential facility with trained staff where continuous support is available for twenty-four hours a day; it should not be conducted on an outpatient basis" (204).


Grof (1988) admits the experimental nature of the process in the context of an adventure of self-discovery. Referring to his partnership with his wife, he comments: "Our own experience with this technique has been limited to experiential workshops lasting up to four weeks. We have not had the opportunity to subject it to rigorous evaluation in controlled clinical studies, comparable to my research in psychedelic therapy" (xiv). Later, he adds: "It is important to realize that holotropic work is completely open-ended. It is best to think about it as an ongoing research project and psychological experiment ... The training of the facilitator should never be considered a fait accompli. Holotropic therapy is a process of continuous learning, rather than mechanical application of a closed system of concepts and rules" (207).
Research by Holmes et al. (1996) concluded that holotropic breathwork combined with traditional verbally oriented psychotherapy led to “significant reductions in death anxiety and increases in self-esteem” relative to just traditional psychotherapy.
In a theoretical review article, Rhinewine and Williams (2007) offer the hypothesis that holotropic breathwork operates via a biopsychological mechanism that results in experiential exposure to feared internal representations, and consequently in extinction of covert avoidance behaviors. The latter disinhibitory process, experienced by the breather as "catharsis," may correspondingly result in therapeutic progress among patients who had previously shown limited gains in verbal psychotherapy, as previously demonstrated in Holmes and colleagues' (1996) study.
Research by James Eyerman, MD (2013) [3] reported results of 11,000 clinical patient experiences and 482 individual patient reports, and showed the 'procedure was well received. No complaints of adverse reactions were recorded during the sessions nor afterwards on the clinical units.' Eyerman goes on to conclude that Holotropic Breathwork 'offers significant benefits in terms of emotional catharsis and internal spiritual exploration, according to the participants. The lack of even one single reported adverse sequelae in more than 11,000 Holotropic Breathing in-patients over more than 12 years, indicates that Holotropic Breathwork could be considered a low-risk therapy to assist patients with an extremely broad range of psychological problems and existential life issues.'


Holotropic Breathwork has been subject to criticism, on points of medical and spiritual concern.
  • In Ken Wilber's "Eye of Spirit" (1996) he criticizes Grof's assertion that in order to access transpersonal states of consciousness a person must necessarily first regress to the perinatal state to resolve the trauma of (and/or around) birth. Wilber states that while this is sometimes the case, it is so only in a limited number of cases.
  • In 1993 the Scottish Charities Office commissioned a report into the technique, having received complaints concerning its implementation at theFindhorn Foundation, a registered charity. The report was written by Anthony Busuttil (Regius Professor of Forensic Medicine at the University of Edinburgh), whose opinions caused the Findhorn Foundation to suspend its breathwork programme. In its report on the event, The Scotsman also published several critical comments concerning Holotropic Breathwork as a form of therapy, made by Dr Linda Watt of Leverndale Psychiatric Hospital in Glasgow. In response to literature about breathwork supplied by the newspaper, Dr Watt expressed professional concerns that the hyperventilationtechnique might cause seizure or lead to psychosis in vulnerable people. (The Scotsman, 14 October 1993).

Responses to criticism[edit]

Grof disputes many of the medical criticisms of Holotropic Breathwork, arguing that they are based on misunderstandings of the physiological and psychological processes involved. In his paper reviewing the literature on the effects of faster breathing, he concludes that "The fact that during rapid breathing symptoms surface and become manifest is not a pathological phenomenon...With skillful support and guidance, the emergence of symptoms during hyperventilation can result in healing of emotional and psychosomatic problems...". (Grof 2003)
Rhinewine and Williams (2007), reviewing the medical literature on hyperventilation in the context of a theoretical article on Holotropic Breathwork, state that "The procedure of voluntary hyperventilation has proven to be safe after medical screening for contraindicating conditions, and has been demonstrated across numerous studies to be helpful in treatment of anxiety as a tool for diagnosis and desensitization."

Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim

Nobody who wants to see gigantic, well-armed robots battle Godzilla’s contemporary cousins will leave Pacific Rimdisappointed. Even jaded viewers who yawned at the release of the Kraken will have to acknowledge that few titans have clashed so impressively—even when the combatants are slugging it out in the ocean, miles from shore (which is most of the time), the sheer scale of the action is awe-inspiring. Director Guillermo del Toro has so much fun staging the various assaults that at one point, he constructs a throwaway gag about desktop physics, in the tradition of Jurassic Park’s coffee-cup ripples. It’s significant, though, that this moment, funny as it is, takes place in a completely empty office building. No human being is present to register it and raise wide eyes to the camera in classic Spielberg style. Like most monster movies, Pacific Rim is at its best when humanity has been all but forgotten, reduced to a puny abstraction.
Unfortunately, the movie aspires to more. Set in a near future, it begins in earnest a few years after an unexplained breach at the bottom of the ocean starts coughing up enormous beasties from another dimension, dubbed kaiju (a Japanese word meaning “strange beast”). Mankind responds by building an army of equally gargantuan robots, called Jaegers (the German word for “hunter”), piloted from within by two people who each serve as one hemisphere of the thing’s brain, early tests having determined that the neural strain was too much for one pilot alone. Renegade pilot Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) loses his beloved brother/co-pilot in an early battle and quits the program, but his former commander, Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), asks him to suit up one last time for a mission that will attempt to permanently seal the undersea breach with a nuclear bomb. He’ll need a new copilot, naturally, and the best candidate seems to be Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), a woman with plenty of buried anger, but no Jaeger experience outside of a simulator.
The most intriguing—yet least explored—human element of Pacific Rim involves what’s known as The Drift: a mental link between a Jaeger’s pilots, in which they share each other’s memories and emotions. Co-pilots need to be Drift-compatible, and Raleigh immediately identifies Mako as a good fit. But apart from one near-disaster in which Mako gets lost in one of her own traumatic memories—there’s lingo for everything in this movie; being sucked into the past is called “chasing the rabbit”—nothing much ever really comes of The Drift, which is otherwise just a generic science-fiction metaphor for good ol’ teamwork. People occasionally describe the bond in conversation (“I felt it”), but its only genuine import on the story appears in a subplot that finds two twitchy scientists (Charlie Day and Burn Gorman) attempting to Drift with a kaiju brain in order to determine the creatures’ intentions. These scenes are as strained in their efforts at comedy—Day sometimes seems to be doing a vintage Bobcat Goldthwait impression—as the Jaeger training scenes are soggily earnest, and Pacific Rim falters badly whenever it isn’t clobberin’ time. 
But oh, that clobberin’. The first such sequence expends too much energy making sure viewers comprehend how the Jaegers are operated, constantly cutting back and forth between the pilots performing movements in their goofy spacesuit-style getups, and the robot’s corresponding actions. Too much Wii, not enough “Whee!” Once that symbiosis can mostly be taken for granted, however, del Toro and the ILM crew go to town, so to speak. Kaiju are classified by category, like earthquakes, and there’s a long, slow buildup to the inevitable Category 5 monster, which appears at the climax. But the Category 3 and 4 specimens are all formidable enough to serve as thrilling climaxes to almost any other movie, and del Toro stages the metal-on-tentacle action with the giddy verve of a 10-year-old boy playing with his action figures, even as the F/X wizards conceive every imaginable permutation of physical destruction. (The battles in the ocean, which don’t afford the traditional options of buildings, cars, and fleeing citizens, compensate with spectacular beauty involving great plumes and sprays of water.) Pacific Rim never amounts to more than the sum of its setpieces, but it delivers on the promise of its premise. Giant robots. Killer monsters. Wrestlin’ picture. Whaddaya need, a road map?


James Ferraro provides another reason for fireworks: new album NYC, HELL 3:00 AM out in October on Hippos in Tanks

James Ferraro provides another reason for fireworks: new album NYC, HELL 3:00 AM out in October on Hippos in Tanks
According to his until-now uncharacteristically quiet Facebook page (I seriously just checked it yesterday, thinking it’s been a minute since we’d heard from our Lil Icebunny), James Ferraro has a new album called NYC, HELL 3:00 AM. The album, which follows last year’s Sushi and this year’s Cold mixtape, is out October 15 on Hippos in Tanks and has an amazing trailer to go with it. Check it out here:
And why not sing along:
This world is dark. So dark. 40th floor. Marble floors. God is money. Money is god. This model is so gross. Coked-out and sloppy and looking out the window, feeling unbound. Love is shaded with hate. The dark heaven and the power of the buildings, sentinels, made us feel alone, pushing us to pretend humanity…
• James Ferraro: http://twitter.com/LIL_ICEBUNNY
• Hippos in Tanks: http://hipposintanks.net


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