Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The sounds of silence (or, the emperor's new CD)

I'm putting the finishing touches on a real (and lengthy) blog post, which will go up within the next couple of days, but I just had to take a very brief snippet break, Dear Ones, and tell you about another exciting new product I found out about only a couple of days ago. Let's say you've checked out some of those magickal "clearing audios" presented by Mr. Fire and his partner Pat (I wrote about one such product on this post, and a magickal audio product is also part of this exciting deal). But maybe these products, and the many others in those two guys' "clearing" series, haven't quite done the trick. Well, don't give up on the power of audio just yet. If Pat's music doesn't seem to be changing your life, and Mr. Fire's bizarre vocalizations rub you the wrong way, why not try... hold on to your witch's or wizard's hat... utter silence?!?

An alert reader sent me a link the other day to a sales page for a new CD being touted by Mr. Fire protege Jennifer McLean. The CD is an offering from "world renowned Spiritual Teacher, author and presenter" Jo Dunning. Says the blurb on the sales page:

[Jo Dunning] is well known for her unusual ability to use energy from Source to transform lives and Awaken consciousness. She is referred to as a Miracle Maker because of the profound changes which often take place in the lives of an entire audience.

Isn't it amazing how many hundreds and hundreds of these would-be New-Wage stars all possess the very same "unusual" abilities? As Inigo Montoya famously remarked in The Princess Bride about the word "inconceivable," I'm thinking that maybe "unusual" does not mean what Ms. McLean, or Jo Dunning, or whoever wrote that copy, thinks it means.

But I digress. The miracle that Jo Dunning has committed to CD is absolute silence. But not just any silence, my pretties; it is Silence with a capital "S," for it is infused with Jo's pure, powerful energies – her most powerful transformative energies available, according to the sales page. Each CD is apparently created specifically for the buyer (or for the person with whom the buyer is gifting the CD; to tell the truth I'm not sure exactly how the exclusivity deal works).

The beautiful thing about it is that you can turn the CD up full blast at work or home or in public or wherever, and while your own life will be transformed, no one around you will be affected. (Try doing that with, say, Mr. Fire's robotic intonations on the Oil Clearing Audio.) The copy for Jo's CD says, "Now you can change your life anywhere, anytime, without anyone else even knowing."

(I would be willing to bet that if you're really sneaky, you can do it without you even knowing.)

And the higher you turn up the volume on the Silence, the more energy you will receive.

Best of all, it starts working right away...

As you begin to feel the energy of this special & powerful CD you will
know your life is about to change in magnificent ways.

But there is a caveat:

PLEASE NOTE: this product is designed for those willing and wanting to make a SIGNIFICANT energy shift into a MUCH higher vibrating realm.

The retail price for this silent CD is normally $147, but you can get it for only $97, which is a limited-time offering for those who are registered with Jennifer McLean's Healing With The Masters program. The offer is good through Tuesday, September 28.

Oops.

Well, hey, I just received the email late at night on September 28, so don't blame me. Maybe if you act now you can still get it for that amazing low price, but you should be aware that it will take four to six weeks. (But it's well worth the wait, we're assured.)

Anyway, here's the link to that hundred-dollar (or more) Silence. As my guy Ron said, "It's the digital equivalent of emperor's new clothes!"

Unbelievably exciting... or maybe just unbelievable.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Inspiration from the Good Book (and the Bad Audio File)

Dear Ones, this has been an overwhelming week for me, a week filled equally with miracles and horrors. Not only was there The Miracle of the Meat, which left me wonderstruck, but I also accidentally accessed the Higher Planes (or perhaps the Underworld; it's difficult to say) and I was able to tune into a 36-minute Secret Transmission. My ears beheld a conversation among an elite group of inspired Masters who were laying the groundwork for a grand scheme, a scheme of Biblical proportions.

I was even more wonderstruck, and so I sat down to write about what I had heard, but found myself at a very rare loss for words.
But the Good Lord guided my hand anyway, and She/He/It said unto me, "The words will come in due time. But you know what they say about pictures." So here you are (click on it for an enlarged view). The words, I suspect, will come later.
Then again, if you insist on words now, you can always go here. And if you do, be sure to watch the video too.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Meat the Master: in which Cosmic Connie witnesses a real miracle

Dear Ones, I have something to confess to you. Most of you know me as a snark who scoffs at many things, including and especially the entire idea of miracles. But the truth is – and some of you more savvy readers have read between the lines and have detected the yearning soul who trembles beneath this snarky cloak – I long for tangible miracles in my life. Why, I even wrote about this longing years and years ago, on my old Cosmic Relief web site, during the heyday of Millennial madness when many feared that the world, or at least civilization, would end at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2000. Here is what I wrote (and I hope you will pardon the royal-"we" affectation):

THESE are the days of miracles and wonders? Oh, we only wish. Either we've led a really wicked life, or the recently* discovered "God module" in our temporal lobe is severely underdeveloped. Or maybe it's just that we never did hallucinogenics.

Whatever the cause, the unhappy truth is that angels don't whisper in our ear, deities don't dictate sacred texts to us, and dead spiritual masters refuse to use us as a mouthpiece.

To add insult to injury, the dolphins at Sea World treat us with disdain, the Weeping Jesus picture just rolls its eyes at us, The Face on Mars stuck its tongue out at us, and the statue of Ganesh laughed so hard at us that the milk squirted out of its nose...er...trunk.

Worst of all, aliens from UFOs have never taken us into their vessels to poke at our naughty bits (oh, but we keep hoping...)

Life, alas, is just so mundane for us. All of the tortillas, billboards, cinnamon buns, and porch lights we've ever encountered are just tortillas, billboards, buns, and porch lights. No face of the Lord, no nunly visage, no apparition of the Virgin, no secret signs of the End Times. (Okay, on one of our quests we did find a misshapen dog-turd that bore a striking resemblance to the face of evangelist Pat Robertson -- pious smirk and all -- but we just couldn't get the media interested.)

The Millennium came and went and, as far as we... I mean I can tell, the world didn't end. Eventually I created my own Whirled. It was fun from the get-go, but still something was missing. My life remained bereft of the type of miracle that draws bored reporters and long lines of desperate believers to one's front door. Except for some isolated experiences with statues, which I wrote about a few years ago, discernible miracles have been few and far between in my life.

Of course I pretended not to care. On the surface I was a happy snarker – a livid one, as one of my snargets has described me – but beneath it all flowed a deep, deep river of discontent. I still felt so... well... left out. Overlooked. Utterly under-appreciated by the Higher Power(s).

And then, and then... last night... Something Happened.

It was so wondrous that it shook my Whirled.

It made me re-examine my entire life.

It made me want to write one-sentence paragraphs.

Or even one-word paragraphs.

Really.

Here's the deal: Last night Ron took me into the Big City (that would be Houston) for dinner at a restaurant that I will not name for reasons that will soon become apparent. We'd been there numerous times before and had always enjoyed superb food and service.

But last night was over the top.

Being in a carnivorous frame of mind and feeling a bit extravagant, I decided to go all out with one of the most expensive steaks on the menu. I was famished and couldn't wait to dig into it when it arrived.

But something stopped me. On that succulent piece of meat I beheld a Face, clear as could be. It was an oddly familiar mug with a toothsome smile. At first I thought it was a demon. Then it kind of looked like an obnoxious ex-boyfriend of mine. And then I realized that it was...oh, my Goddess, the Face of the Master.

It was... it was... Himself. It was The Big T. As in Tony Robbins. The undisputed king of the selfish-help industry.

I gasped.

"What's wrong, sweetheart?" Ron asked, his mouth full of New York strip steak. Speechless, I pointed to The Face.

Ron's eyes widened.

He put down his fork, whipped out his cell phone and began snapping photos.

By then a small crowd had gathered around our table. Most people instantly recognized The Face. Many were astounded; some were crying. People were Tweeting and Facebooking about it. A reporter from a local TV station happened to be dining at a table near us and contacted her producer, and before I knew it there were camera crews and bright lights in my face. I became a minor celebrity for a while. I signed autographs, did a couple of mini-interviews, even landed a book contract.

Finally, I had the miracle I had been waiting for. In spades. Well, in a steak, anyway.

But the fact remained that I was still hungry and feeling more fiercely carnivorous than ever. So instead of preserving that wondrous cut of beef, I scarfed it down, much to the dismay of some of the miracle seekers who were still crowded around us. Others, however, cheered me on. They said this was the ultimate self-empowering thing for me to do. They assured me that there was no better way to Awaken the Giant Within than to consume an image of The Giant himself.

I noticed that the steak tasted a little "off," but I didn't care; I was that famished.

Back at home a few hours later, I bitterly regretted my choice to eat the miracle meat. I became violently ill, and am only just now recovering. Some may call that poetic justice or instant karma for destroying the evidence of a miracle, and perhaps they're right. But I really didn't destroy anything. After all, I still have those photos. The miracle lives on and continues to unfold in my life in mysterious ways. Now I am seeing The Face everywhere. What does it all mean? Stay tuned...

* Well, the discovery of the God module was "recent" in 1997, anyway.

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Just a snippet or two for now

Oh, dear. It seems I've been neglecting my Whirled again. I only blogged once in August and here we are, well into September. It's been a busy-in-a-good-way late summer, a relief after an early summer marked by crisis situations such as tending to a grievously injured friend (who is doing much better now) and a dog we thought was on her last legs, literally (she too has greatly improved). I am actually working on a couple of real blog posts as time permits, and by "working on" I mean that I'm trying to consolidate tons of information into marginally readable posts. Meanwhile, a few snippets just to help break in the new month (well, it's new for me, anyway)...

JAR: WTF?
Although it's actually September 9 as I'm publishing this post, I began it on September 8 (hence the date stamp). We're now less than a month away from the one-year anniversary of the James Arthur Ray sweat lodge tragedy at Sedona, which broke on October 8, 2009. Tempus fugit. There's still no word on exactly when James will have his day in court; his manslaughter trial was originally supposed to begin on August 31 of this year but, as you probably know, was postponed till some time in 2011. Last I heard, his legal team was still trying to get a change of venue too.

Meanwhile, James – or, more likely, one of his few remaining minions – continues to Tweet inanely and, some would say, insensitively, writing about topics such as owning up to one's own shadow and purging oneself of one's past. These thoughts are interspersed with quotations from the Buddha and other spiritual greats, along with the occasional report about James' day-to-day activities. An example of the latter is this gem on September 5:
Just got back from the store... Getting geared up for one of the very rare occassions [sic] when I try my hand at the grill. Look out Labor Day :)
I haven't been following his detractors' responses to his tweets lately, but with that one James Arthur definitely left himself open to some acerbic remarks about his cooking skills. Even as I write this I am reminded once again that he may very well have backed himself into one of those damned-if-he-does and damned-if-he-doesn't corners that I've mentioned here on occasion. No doubt he has long since reached the point where anything he does or doesn't do, or writes or doesn't write, will earn jeers from someone. But I really think he would do better to err on the side of silence, especially with those tweets.

No such luck, though. He is apparently still trying to eke out a living by making lame videos at his home, conducting teleseminars, and joint-venturing with the few people who are still willing to partner with him. But at least he isn't holding those pricey LGAT events any more. Speaking of which, someone sent me links many months ago to one of James Ray's online photo albums that featured shots from some of those events.

I found many of the pictures more than a little appalling, especially those in which it appears that James used his demonic coercive-persuasion skills to make people do some very odd things on stage. I saw one middle-aged woman grabbing her breasts for Goddess-knows-what reason, another lady doing a chicken walk across the stage, an elderly gentleman who was apparently crab-walking, and a middle-aged guy who was either break-dancing or attempting to dodge something that someone was throwing at him. Judging from the scribbles on the flip-chart page in the pics, these strange actions had something to do with "getting it" as opposed to "not getting it."
There was, however, no explanation on the site about what was going on – nothing more than a series of random shots that appeared to depict people making buffoons of themselves while James grinned demonically in the background.

Were these folks having some sort of great breakthrough, or were they just being silly? Either way, wasn't it just a little bit vulgar of the James Ray team to photograph these profound, or profoundly silly, moments and slap them up on the Web for all the world to see? That's not much better than posting pictures on Facebook of your friends passed out drunk with their heads hanging over the toilet.*

To me these pics are a reminder that anyone who attends an LGAT event these days pretty much has to sign away his or her rights to privacy (and dignity) of any kind. Here's one example of the waiver and publicity release that James Ray's attendees had to sign. Unfortunately, some attendees ended up losing much more than their privacy.

In related news, my copy of a new book, Tragedy in Sedona: My Life in James Arthur Ray's Inner Circle by Connie Joy, just arrived today. Some defenders of James and the self-help industry will no doubt say this work is yet another attempt to exploit the tragedy and indict the entire self-help industry, and they might dismiss it for that reason. That would be a mistake, for the author is not one of those snarky bloggers and armchair critics that the defenders so love to hate; rather, she is someone who was once a devoted follower of Ray. Ms. Joy and her husband attended no less than 27 James Ray events over a period of three years. In a note at the beginning, publisher Ginny Weissman says that she only considered the manuscript after the author assured her it would not be a muckraking work "written to frighten the reader about the spiritual self-help movement." Indeed, it seems clear that this book is not a hatchet job or a damnation of the self-help industry. I'm anxious to read it, and, of course, I'll let you know what I think when I'm done. At the very least, maybe the book will provide me with some insights about those disturbing chicken-walking and boob-grabbing pics.


IM hustledorkery fails another person
As reported late last month by attorney Mike Young, who specializes in Internet marketing, a fledgling IM'er and big Law of Attraction proponent named Ellery Bennett was recently charged with murdering his wife.

Ellery, who either quit a lucrative position as a pharmaceutical sales rep or had it quit him, had built quite a Web presence for himself, including the expected blogs, Twitter account, Facebook page, and so forth. On his
Twitter account, which apparently hasn't been updated since February, his user name is "Golfin," and his bio reads: "Fired My Boss to Coach, Personal Development, Internet Entrepreneur, Law Of Attraction. Play Golf. Social Media. Flourish and Prosper." The bio also includes a web site link, but it redirects to an international credit card payment page for Lord knows what.

Blogger Mike Young wrote:

Like others in Internet marketing, Ellery Bennett made the major mistake of believing he could fake it until he made it. As the hole got deeper, he had to choose whether to keep digging or stop.

There is more to life than online business success. As you look at Ellery Bennett’s videos and websites, you get a picture of someone who wanted nothing more than the freedom to stay at home and spend time with his wife and daughter. But in chasing the dream, it cost him everything.

In his PS he added:
If the Internet gurus who sold Ellery Bennett on how to get rich online had an ounce of decency, they’d take the money he invested in their flopportunities and give the money to Bennett’s 10-year-old daughter. She’s going to need alot of psychological and financial support in the coming years.
This is a sad story, and it seems clear that Mr. Bennett had serious problems not related to IM hustledork circle-jerkery. But that whole IM/LOA spiel apparently didn't make his life any better, and arguably may have made it much worse. I'm glad Mike Young posted the story, and glad that he inspired others to share their own tales of IM myth versus reality. Here's that link again.

By the way, in one of his comments on the discussion following his blog post, Mike noted, "Currently, there are no less than 4 convicted felons working online as gurus." One reader responded that it was a shame that Mike couldn't name those people, and Mike replied:
The convicted felons are a matter of public record. You can easily identify them because they brag about their pasts, usually as being misunderstood victims of the government...
Offhand, though, I can't think of anyone who fits that description. Oh, wait. I can.

Middle-aged fangirlies: the more things change...
I'll wind this up on a lighter note, and one that is not closely related to the normal subject matter of this blog. It is, however, marginally related to my "day job," as a few years ago Ron and I were involved in a dubious book project
about former American Idol contender Clay Aiken. (I mentioned it briefly on this August 2008 post; scroll down to, "And Melissa Etheridge isn't either!") Let me just say that in the course of helping our client with this book, Ron and I learned more about Clay Aiken fan culture than we ever, ever wanted to know. Poor Clay; all he ever really wanted to do was sing his heart out, but in so doing he attracted an almost rabid following of fans, the vast majority of whom seemed to be "women of a certain age." They called themselves Claymates, a term that was apparently coined by fans but which Clay's lawyers later tried to trademark (along with several other fan-originated neologisms. Clay had him some nasty legal people.) I don't think the attorneys ever succeeded in the trademarking, but they definitely made their presence known during and after the creation of that book I mentioned.

In any event, Claymates are sooo 2003-2006. Nowadays the Glamberts have taken center stage in the world of wacky fandom. Glamberts are mostly middle-aged women who have gone bat sh-t crazy over Adam Lambert, yet another American Idol contender who, like Clay, almost won but didn't, much to the profound heartbreak of his ardent supporters. To tell the truth, I barely know who Adam Lambert is (I keep getting him mixed up with the guy in Twilight), but this feature in the Houston Chronicle the other day clarified things for me. As I read the story I had an icky feeling of deja vu.

Glamberts don't care a whit that their idol is gay; he makes them feel hot and sexy, and inspires many to dress as if they are, glitter and all. They fall asleep and awaken to his music, many make pilgrimages to as many of his concerts as they can manage, and, according to the author of the Chron piece: "They champion his causes, spout off biographical information, and rush to defend his honor." At Glambert meet-ups they "squawk over each other and share stories. ('We played Adam scrabble one night!')." These are, it must be remembered, women in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond.

You might think this is kind of pathetic, and maybe it is, but at least these ladies enjoy one clear advantage over their Claymate predecessors: they've known from the outset that the object of their idolatry is a practitioner of what was once referred to as the love that dare not speak its name. The Claymates, on the other hand, were in deep denial for years, reinforced by Clay's own public proclamations that no, he was NOT gay.** (Talk about the love that dare not speak its name...) Claymates argued passionately, and often indignantly, in favor of their hero's heterosexuality. ("How could he be gay? He's a born-again Christian!" "His momma would snatch him bald-headed if he wuz a 'mo!" "He's definitely straight, and I'll prove it to the world when I marry him (or when my daughter, granddaughter, or great-granddaughter marries him)." "Anyone with such horrible taste in sweaters couldn't be gay!" And so on.) Then the infamous People magazine article came out, shattering the dream-world of more than one horny grandma.

At least the Glamberts aren't setting themselves up for disappointment on the sexual-orientation front. Still there is something a little bit disturbing to me about the prospect of women who are drawn to seek, as the Chron author puts it, "suburban salvation in the form of a slickly produced pop star."

***

Well, that's it for now, Dear Ones. I will be back very soon with a real post.

* Yeah, I know what you're going to say. I posted the JAR participant pics too. But at least I disguised the faces.
** After this post first published, a reader who is a Clay Aiken fan pointed out to me that back in the day before he came out, Clay only publicly denied his orientation once, and for the most part evaded the question and said he would rather focus on his music. See the comments section for more.

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