Friday, March 30, 2007

Cosmic Connie is on CSI

No, not that CSI, although The Rev and I are big fans of the show in its various incarnations.*

No, this CSI is the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, formerly CSICOP, publishers of Skeptical Inquirer. A few months ago I rattled their cage and was asked to write a piece about my experiences with The Secret fans on my blog. It turned out to be a little long-winded for the magazine (I had my head up my you-know-what and neglected to read their author guidelines), but a condensed version has just been put up on the CSI web site. It’s still long, but believe me, it’s not as long as it was. Click here to read.

You will notice that my picture in the author bio section is not blue. That, I believe, is because the lighting is better on the CSI web site. I think that is the light of reason.

And if you like the free articles on the CSI site, you don’t need to send me or them an Amazon gift certificate. Instead, why not subscribe to Skeptical Inquirer? In fact, why not take out multiple subscriptions, and place a copy in every healthcare practitioner’s waiting room where you see a copy of Oprah’s magazine? Just for the fun of it.

* Except we don’t much care for CSI Miami star David Caruso and his soft-spoken, head-tilting delivery of every line. I don't care what Parade Magazine's pop-culture expert "Walter Scott" says; that's not acting, it's affectation. However, we do love the other stars of the show; I'm kind of partial to Adam Rodriguez myself, and I must say The Rev does have an interesting fantasy involving Emily Proctor and me…oh, wait, this isn’t that kind of blog.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Feed the world

"Give a man The Secret, and you have fed him for today. Teach a man that The Secret is only the beginning, and you have a steady income stream for a lifetime."
~ Cosmic Connie*

My email "in" box, not to mention my poor Whirled brain, are just overflowing with deliciously juicy tidbits – a veritable smörgåsbord of Secret-related morsels. I really and truly need to get back onto more important topics, such as the upcoming end of the world, my religious background, and other matters of consequence, but The Secret just keeps popping up on the buffet table. So if you can stand another helping, today's specials are...

Secretrons grow a conscience (or, a Panoz Esperante in every garage?)
The ever vigilant
Tony Michalski has alerted me to an interesting discussion on Marcy from Maui’s Powerful Intentions forum, regarding the poor and disadvantaged. Yes, I know that we’re not really supposed to "give energy" to unpleasant things, lest they find their way to our front door step. But sometimes, despite our most noble efforts, and the efforts of the New-Wage leaders who are only looking out for our best interests, that bothersome conscience gets in the way.

That’s what happened to the woman who started the PI forum thread. She had a most disturbing thought while playing a Secret video clip on her computer, a clip that she says she always plays while she talks to God:

Today it hit me hard. Here I am asking for all these things and I wonder what the poor and disadvantaged people of the world are doing this very moment. The misery they are in. The misery they deal with each minute of the day. What about the poor people in Darfur Africa who are being macheted and murdered by the thousands. What about the starving in Biafra and other parts of the world. What about the abused children. The handicapped, etc.

Do I have a right to be asking for things that I need when there are situations like this in the world? I read these forums and I see how people are trying so hard to manifest a new car, or $1,000,000, or a new soulmate, or new jewelry, etc. and I felt immediately guilty for even asking for the things I want.

Doesn't guilt such as this result in a negative vibration and therefore block us from receiving what we desire to receive? Do I have a right to ask for such things when there are other people in the world suffering so much? Can I ask for food for everyone, clothes for the homeless, cures for the diseased, peace for those in war ravaged countries? I don't know. Maybe we should all join with a massive group intent some night at a specific time and send our vibrations en mass to the Universe to resolve these problems.

What’s a gal to do when such dark thoughts enter her rosy world? Well, it turns out she needn’t have worried. Her question has already been answered. See, it’s possible to have the new car, the million bucks, the bling, and the new soulmate – and still be able to go out and save the world!

But you have to look out for number one. The first responder to the thread got it right: "Don't feel guilty! Once you manifest your wealth, you can share it with the disadvantaged. Look at Oprah!"

Bubbly Marcy, hostess of this LOA Tupperware party, piped in:

I do not believe calling people, any people poor and disadvantaged does them any service!

To me that is a judgment and i am certain there are many people who may have alot of money and stuff but are no more happy or healthy or even less than many people that are called poor or disadvantged (sic) by others.

I would never choose to think that a child that saw it's (sic) family killed would never get to see the Secret, or anything else that can serve them that can sooth them back to their connection! To me that would be holding them, in my mind, to a place where they can not feel better or align.**

And Mr. Fire, writing on his blog the other day, got it right as well: "After you've manifested a car or two, or more money, or a better relationship, you start expanding your desires. There are already numerous people in the world doing just that: using the Law of Attraction to cure cancer, AIDS, poverty, and more." (He’s working on erasing homelessness and poverty, both of which he has experienced.)

So, folks, don’t worry, be happy. Focus on that new car, that first million bucks, that diamond necklace, that trophy soulmate. The poor and the sick will always be there. But your opportunity to get in on the ground floor of that exciting new Internet-based business – the opportunity that could very well bless you with the life of your dreams – could disappear tomorrow. So you must act now!

The Secret helps woman get big new rack
In my ceaseless wanderings around the Net (more specifically, around Marcy’s wonderful PI forum, which Tony aptly describes as "comedy plutonium"), I found a reference to a
January 30, 2007 article by Kimberley Hayes Taylor in The Detroit News.

According to the article, "The spiritual film has been distributed to every country in the world, [Rhonda] Byrne says, including 6 million copies in Africa."

Who says the producers of The Secret don’t care about those starving, war-weary, and possibly AIDS-infected waifs? The Secret will save them all.

The article quotes a skeptic who says The Secret is vapid and possibly dangerous, but Hayes ends on a high note, with an example of a person who tells how The Secret changed her outlook on life.

Aldonna "Godis" Smith watched the movie for the first time about two months ago. In small, simple ways, she says all her desires are being fulfilled. For example, Smith wanted a tall garment rack for her loft. A few days after she thought about it, a neighbor coincidentally called to ask if she needed a tall garment rack.

"It's so pertinent," says the Detroit photographer. "I believe this is what people call revelation times, and it's a time for truth. This truth is coming forward."

And you thought the Law Of Attraction wasn't scientific., you!

How do you say "Neener, neener, neener!" in a robotic monotone?
Tony tipped me off to another tidbit, this one from
USA Today. The article contains quite a few critical quotes, not the least of which come from a main source of Rhonda’s original inspiration, Esther and Jerry Hicks and their imaginary buds, the Abe Gang. This is probably one of the few times the Abe Gang has spoken to a reporter.

Hicks and her husband, Jerry, have written about the so-called law of attraction — the "secret" that was the focal point of The Secret DVD. But contractual issues find the couple, and their Abraham entity, excised from the version now circulating.

No worries, they say. They're happy to stay on the road and pass on Abraham's keys to better living through the power of the mind.

"The secrets of life have never been a secret. It's like calling the law of gravity a secret," says Abraham via Esther Hicks, whose normally lilting twang suddenly takes on a robotic tone.

"People have been calling Jerry and Esther, saying, 'I have bought The Secret, but now what do I do?'

"The truth is, The Secret is merely a powerful catalyst that presents the possibility of a better life," says the monotone voice. "Abraham is smiling in the simple knowledge that, in truth, The Secret has not revealed 'the secret.'"

But I’m sure that Jerry, Esther, and Abe will, for the right price, take up the slack.

Starstruck Secretrons
It is very easy to get lost in the aforementioned Powerful Intentions forum, but every wrong turn is really a right turn. It isn’t luck that brings me to the odd thread here and there; it’s the Law Of Attraction! Wherever I go, I was meant to be there! In my wanderings today I came across a snippet from a male member named Chris, a self-described "citizen of the world" who, judging from his profile pic, is also a literal tree-hugger. This post was written
last August, during the Tahoe Reno International Film Festival. It was at this festival that The Secret movie had its official world premiere. Chris writes:

Tonight I found myself at the Tahoe Independent Film Festival, but I felt like I was more at a rock concert when saw Rhonda Byrne, Rev. Michael Beckwith D.D. and Bob Proctor walk through the door. In fact I acted like I was at a rock concert. I was screaming their names as they walked in for the World Premiere of The Secret and the kick off of my Law of Attraction Tour!

Take a moment to think about this. Here is a middle-aged man SCREAMING for Rhonda "Let Them Eat The Secret" Byrne, Michael "Zormak" Beckwith, and Love That Bob. They must have been passing around some REALLY good drugs at that festival. Either that, or The Secret is even more insidious than I’d thought.

Well, that's it for today's buffet. I hope it didn't cause too much heartburn. Now let's all get back to manifesting the bright shiny objects of our dreams, and maybe while we're at it we can help manifest a square meal for someone who really needs it.

* You will, I hope, pardon my use of the male gender pronoun; I was simply trying to remain true to the original saying.
** Pssst, Marcy! Maybe if you had been more willing to exercise a little JUDGMENT, you wouldn't have been taken in by Tilak.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Amazon, Shamazon

Warning: This is another one of those "soapbox" posts... well, sort of. I promise I'll get back to gratuitous potshots and general silliness soon.

Last year Steve Salerno got taken to task for writing so much on his SHAMblog about apparent irregularities in’s reader review process. Some of Steve’s faithful readers told him he was beginning to sound like a man obsessed, and Steve says he’s pretty sure that Amazon wasn’t too happy with him either. Many of his posts centered around a suspicious reviewer writing under the name Marilyn R. Barry and a certain bestselling author who goes by the name Dr. Phil; you can read the saga for yourself.

The larger point, of course, was the lack of integrity in a system that would allow the planting of positive reviews – and the systematic culling of negative ones – for the works of a bestselling author. What was even more disturbing was that so many of us (and I was one of them, for a while) just seemed to accept that as "the way things are." More than one person wrote to Steve and implied that he was naïve for ever thinking that Amazon’s reader review system was, or should be, on the up-and-up. What they were really saying was that expecting total integrity from Amazon reviews is sort of like expecting politicians to be honest.

Supposedly Amazon cleaned up their act a bit and tightened up their reader-review policy (perhaps partly in response to Steve's relentless prodding? Who knows?). But apparently there’s still a problem, and it has reared its head again in the wake of the stupendously successful infomercial and companion book,
The Secret. The problem seems to be related to something we’ve known for some time now: you can poke and prod at the cash cows – of which The Secret is emphatically one of the most productive in recent history – but you can’t do anything that the milkers fear would seriously impede the milk flow.

I’ve had some private correspondence with people who have first-hand information about certain successful self-help authors and the underhanded way they play the Amazon reviews. In fact, just about everyone who has any experience with authors and Amazon probably has a story.* I’ve also received some public posts, such as this one from a new supporter named Paulette who wrote in response to one of
my (fairly) recent blog posts:
Dear Cosmic Connie,
Thank you so much for your incredibly informative Blog on those behind The Secret.
I borrowed the book from a friend after having been completely disgusted by the DVD (which I managed to see on-line before they pulled it) - I found the book is equally disturbing.
I'm usually not one for conspiracy theories but have to mention that I have tried (unsuccessfully) to post a 1 star review of The Secret (book) on Amazon.
First I was informed that I cannot include URL's (yet Janet Boyer did - Her "spotlight" review is the one you've posted here). So I edited my review, removing the URL. It never posted.
A week later, I inquired as to why it had not and was told my review was "too long". I was advised to edit and resubmit which I did and it still did not post.
I would like to add that my review fell well within the guidelines of Amazon. In fact, if you notice Boyer's review is close to 1,000 words (maybe more) and she has a URL included in her review. Yet her glowing review (which is actually in large part for the DVD - she's quite critical of the book but her review is confusing imho) was permitted.
So I tried again. My review is about 500 words, contains no profanity and I list several quotes directly from the book itself. Yet again - it did not post.
So after asking why this was I was now informed that my review is an "opinion" piece and not a "critical" review of the book.
I cannot help but think that if I am having difficulty submitting a 1 star review of the book then so too are many others. I also think that perhaps the editor (Byrne) or the publishers are planting a lot of the positive reviews.
Someone who managed to get his 1 star review of the book posted emailed me saying he knows for a fact that Joe Vitale pays reviewers to write positive reviews of his books and that he wouldn't doubt if something similar isn't happening with The Secret.
However, their are quite a few negative reviews of the dvd on Amazon. I believe both spotlight reviews of the dvd are extremely negative. So I don't know?
I've submitted reviews in the past and while all my 5 star reviews immediately post my only other 1 star review (of the ridiculously pathetic book The Isaiah Effect by Gregg Braden) took a week too and only posted after I emailed Amazon asking them why it wasn't up yet.
If anyone is interested I just posted my review in the "Discussion" section of The Secret under the title 'My Censored Review of The Secret.'
Paulette has also drawn my attention to some of the behind-the-scenes info about Amazon’s "top reviewers," citing an article on about the "secret life" of an online reviewer.

I’m not one for conspiracy theories either, but something does still seem a little off-kilter about this whole thing. I popped on over to an Amazon discussion on Secret star Joe Vitale’s book, The Attractor Factor (currently ranked at #767 in Books) and saw evidence of the same patterns that had Paulette and Steve so riled up. A reviewer named Danielle Adams wrote:
I also posted my 2 star review on this book and it lasted a week. When I could not find it, I contacted the customer service with the request to explain this matter to me and provide me with the name of the person who was actually responsible for removing my post. Within a day my review was back on the list but with partially removed content. In that "forbidden" for public eye content I suggested that most of the positive reviews here on Amazon were actually posted by J.V. affiliates who support him. Large network of supporters and cross promoters who plant 5 stars reviews make this book a bestseller.
Anyway, I suggest you do the same. Contact the customer service.
(Added on Apr.20)
Amazon has a policy about review content and there is a thin borderline between "permitted" opinion and "forbidden" one. Basically, if you want your negative review to last, you gotta check against the policy. And again, if it gets removed - do not let it go, ask customer service.
Then there was this, from John Frost:
I too wrote a 2-star review, which was posted, and then removed within a day. I posted another one, and it has now been up close to 24 hours.
I never contacted customer service about the first one, but I suspect it was pulled after someone read it and complained about my suggestion that Vitale was "suckering" customers into paying $1500 and up for his e-mail courses whenever he needed a new car, or a new country estate. It would probably be more accurate to say that the students were suckers, not that Vitale suckered them, since I have no reason to believe JV is dishonest.
I find it hard to believe, though, that an amazon employee just happened to read that post and decide it was inappropriate--they cannot possibly post a vast enough staff to screen every single review, and, indeed, most of my reviews are posted immediately. It seems to me more than a little probably that there is a persistent and organized effort on somebody's part to get negative reviews pulled. A devious way around this, of course, is to write a fairly good review, and just give the book one star. Devious...but no more devious than trying to influence Amazon into keeping the star-rating up.
One reviewer going by the name of NotoriousSEG wrote:
i wrote a one-star review of this sham of a book and suprise! it's gone. this makes me VERY skeptical of amazon's rating system in general.
In response, a reviewer named David Houk wrote:
The Amazon rating system is being gamed by professional marketers-Vitale, Mark Victor Hansen Jack Canfield to name only very few. How do I know -I have been on the receiving end of their marketing campaigns to set up their books for bestsellers & to get 5-star ratings. There is even a course offered on how to do this.
Pay close attention and you will start to notice the same names as testemonials (sic) in/on various books and on Amazon- many of these are authors or marketers who cross promote each other. As marketers they seem to feel anything is fair game to sell more of their products. As noted on another post- now while setting up their marketing campaigns they are advising to give a mixed but positive review so as not to appear so obvious!
I should note that although this discussion was begun nearly a year ago, the last two remarks were posted in February and March of this year.

This isn’t a new issue, of course, and I suspect it’s not going to be resolved overnight. But maybe if enough folks wake up to it Amazon will clean up their policies even more. (Oh, please don't send me missives about flying pigs and frozen devils; let me cling to the precious little bit of idealism I possess.) When shopping for a book, CD or DVD, I still peruse Amazon's reader reviews myself, but now I read them with an eye for possible agendas. And I think that’s something we all should do.

Recognizing that this blog post is based largely on speculation (though there's a large body of public opinion in support of that speculation), I welcome dissenting opinions or corrections from Amazon or from any of the bestselling authors whom others have suspected of "gaming" the Amazon reviews.

One more point before I close: I do not condone the slurs about the physical appearance of the Secret star mentioned in some of the Amazon discussions. In my opinion these comments detract from the debate. Actions and teachings, products and books, are fair game, but I draw the line at making fun of people’s weight or other appearance issues, particularly when they have seriously tried to do something about their problem (and in this case, have succeeded). Yes, I do occasionally make fun of hair and clothes and general weirdness, but these are things people can usually control much more easily than weight.

* And many of us have written positive reviews for friends' books on occasion. That's a fairly common practice. But that's not where my complaint lies. Doing an occasional or one-time favor for a friend is not the same as systematically "planting" good reviews, censoring bad ones, and doing other underhanded things to increase the average rating of a book or other product. Conversely, planting bad reviews for the product of a competitor (or someone you just don't like) is just as bad; I've seen evidence of this as well.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Move over, Santa Baby and God!

I am beginning to wonder if maybe the Secretrons have decided to turn the tables on us non-Secret fans. I think they might be messing with our heads. In fact, maybe they’ve been messing with us all along, testing us to see how far they can go and still make us believe that they are really as gullible as they are coming across. Maybe they are just playing gullible, and we’re the gullible ones.

Tony Michalski has just alerted me to yet another site, The Universe Catalog. Well, it's not really a full-blown website; it's just a simple online order form where you can obtain "every experience & product that you could dream of...ordering is free, it just requires your trust that I, the universe, will deliver your order. Alot of you are confused and don't trust my delivery method, which is why your products don't get to you! My delivery method is fueled by TRUST. Put any name/city you like, I know who you are or who you intend to give to... So with that in mind - Place your order, and Remember - Your wish is my command."

Hey, that’s even better than the Universal Check that you can get on The Secret web site. Instead of trying to manifest money to get something you want, you can go right to the source and ask the horse, so to speak!

It goes without saying that the Universe Catalog was inspired by The Secret, with its magic "your-wish-is-my-command" genie, and, more specifically, by Secret star Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale’s now-famous statement about the Universe as a mail-order catalog. And although I couldn’t get anywhere in a "whois" search, I’m pretty sure that the Universe Catalog site was put up by a real hoaxer. It's a joke, in other words. And a funny one.

On the other hand, in today’s confusing world, you never know. The perpetrator could be a real Secret fan who, even if s/he might say it's "all in fun," honestly believes that the order form will work – the way children believe letters to Santa will work, or the way all of those folks who write letters to God, c/o the P.O. box of their favorite scamming televangelist, will work.

Or it could be a New-Wage huckster who's trying to give his or her mailing list a boost.

Or...oh, could really be the Universe Itself, making it easier than ever to place your order!

Naturally, the new Universe Catalog has them buzzing on Marcy from Maui’s Powerful Intentions Forum. A man who goes by the screen name Nábru (NewAgeBrillianceRapidlyUnfolding) started the thread by providing the link. One woman responded, "fun! i ordered a personal paradise package ;) and added on an infusion of radiant vibration!* i am glowing....i used instant delivery!"

Several others were equally enthusiastic. And then there was this lady, who wrote: "I'd be more receptive if my name and where I live weren't required. No thanks."

See, that’s what I mean about the Secretrons’ messing with our heads. NOBODY COULD BE THAT…well…I don't want to come out and use the word "stupid," but I'm thinking it, know what I mean?

One person did offer a "workaround" for the lady concerned about her privacy: Use a fake name and address, because the Universe knows your real name and where you really live. Heck, the guy who started the thread even said right off that you don't have to use your real name and address. Even the order form itself says you don't have to use your real name and address.

This, of course, just raises the question of why you would even need to fill out an online form if the Universe is so ding-dang smart. Oh, wait, I forgot: it's all in fun. And filling out online forms is fun.

I'd like to mention that our friend Nábru, he of the New Age brilliance, is also a brilliant song writer. He thoughtfully alerted readers of the Universe Catalog thread to another thread he’d started.

Inspired Thought ATTN: Rhonda Byrne - MUST READ -

I noticed that in your vision for the secret you put
"I saw a number one song of The Secret sweeping the world and touching and inspiring everyone."

I realised the other day, I have that song. I've had it for years!! I am a producer/writer, and I have a song called Nature Knows which I wrote a couple of years back for Gwen Stefani – it perfectly encompasses The Secret in its lyrics. I also produced the track, which I still have full intention to give to Gwen Stefani, as it is her style. Seriously the song is great, it's very clever, I wrote, produced and recorded it when I was 19.

[sample lyrics:]

Hey there's this woman with us, feeling confused and suspicious
We tried to comfert (sic) her the best we could but it wont (sic) surface"
I replied, "Yeah look mate, sorry I'm not feeling great,
My partner just left me, emotions are controlled by hate"
They all dead stopped and said that "if you hate then thats our fate"
"Your very feelings are the essence in which we create…"

The problem, Nábru, is that Gwen Stefani’s style isn’t exactly Secretronic. But let me welcome you, anyway, to the exciting world of songwriting! As it happens, I wrote an inspiring song too. It is not about The Secret specifically, but it is kind of related. The tune’s not original but the lyrics are. An earlier, rougher version appeared on Blair Warren’s blog (we songwriters know that every song is always a work in progress), but the revised version can be viewed here (it's the first post on the page).

Well, that’s it for now. I’m off to place my order with the Universe, and then I just gotta get back to work. Maybe I'll write some more songs, too, in my spare time.

PS - Speaking of Santa, it's good to know we can always turn to him when we get to the point where dealing with the entire Universe seems too overwhelming, or when it seems that God just doesn't care. I just found some info about a really cool book, The Ultimate Wish Book for Grown-ups: How to Use the Magic of Santa to Create Your Dreams.

"Wishes for love, health, financial freedom, a fabulous home or career – even simple wishes like nice weather for a picnic – are coming true everyday for people just like you," says the publisher. Isn't it time you learned to tap into your inner Saint Nick?

* One can't help wondering if the source of the "radiant vibration" was powered by a C battery.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Secret hotties: Zormak v. the Ray Gun

In a post on his SHAMblog last November, Steve Salerno wrote about Larry King’s first infomercial on The Secret. One of the guests on that segment was, as Steve described him, "the surreally weird Dr. Michael Beckwith, who, in dress, speech, mannerisms and overall demeanor looked as if his birth-name might really be Zormak From The Planet Woosabi-6."

Steve, it pains me to tell you this, but Zormak is now one of the hottest hunks on Planet Earth. Or at least he’s hot on the planet where the participants in Marcy From Maui’s Powerful Intentions forum live.

My friend Tony Michalski alerted me to a recent thread on that forum titled, "Michael Beckwith is HOT!"

One woman started the ball rolling by asking, "Is it me or does anyone else think he is super sexy? (the week is over and I'm feeling silly!!!) I still do think he is hot, even when I'm not feeling silly!"

The first responder agreed: "Of all those teachers who appeared on Oprah, I found him to have the most charisma, make the most sense, and radiate the most peace."

And another: "Oh I agree, I agree. Michael Beckwith is hypnotically sexy."

One lady added, "I personally heard Oprah tell Michael he was her favorite! I think his pure spirit shines through and makes him VERY attractive. Maybe the closer to source the better looking we get! ONE can hope! LOL!"

Hey, I like a guy with dreads as much as the next gal. But Zormak? Sorry, not my style.

I have to keep in mind that perhaps some of these ladies were a bit disillusioned by the Three Amigos MLM scheme (which is now, of course, the Two Amigos scheme).* Maybe their opinion of Beckwith has been enhanced by the fact that he apparently had the integrity to back out of it. (If, indeed, that was what really happened. Remember, not everything you read on this blog is the – pardon the expression – gospel truth. Some of it is just speculation.)

In any case, it seems that Zormak has some competition in the hottie contest: James Earl Ray. No, wait, I mean, James Arthur Ray. Some of the ladies on the Beckwith forum chimed in with observations that Ray has that bad-boy-turned-good thing going: the roguish smile, the twinkle in his eye, all those things that can turn even the most conspicuously enlightened woman’s thoughts to her second chakra.

So what’s a gal to do if she wants to hook up with one of these guys? Well, first of all, ladies, keep in mind that they may already be attached. But if that’s not a concern for you, or if you just want to be in the presence of these mighty men to enhance your own spirito-sexual growth, there are several steps you can take.

You could just try manifesting the Secret Stud of your choice into your boudoir, but if that doesn’t work, no problem. If it’s Zormak who gets you going, simply move to L.A. and start attending his Agape International Spiritual Center. Piece o’cake.

If the Ray Gun is more your style, the good news is that you have tons of choices, and they really won’t cost you all that much, considering what you could possibly get in return. I went onto Ray’s Events Page and saw a list of some of his most important workshops. I’m pretty sure that he would suggest you take all of them. Here they are, along with their prices, where known:

  • Harmonic Wealth Weekend: There is no indication on the web site about the cost of this one, but it could be the famous $997.00 deal everyone’s talking about. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong.
  • Creating Absolute Wealth: The blurb says, "Don't you and your family deserve this? Sign up for Creating Absolute Wealth for only $3,495.00 per person."
  • Quantum Leap: "You owe it to the rest of your life to get to Quantum Leap as quickly as you can. The investment is ONLY $3,495.00 per person."
  • Modern Magick: "Now is the time! Increase your spiritual and practical power to create everything you desire... All for just $5695!" Matter of fact, Ray seems to have created an entirely new web site for Modern Magick; it’s that important. He says, "By the way, we only hold this unique event once per year, and attendance is strictly limited. As of now, there are only a handful of spots left. Please click here immediately so you can learn more and make your decision, before someone else makes it for you."
  • Practical Mysticism: "You owe it to the rest of your life to get to Practical Mysticism as quickly as you can. The investment is ONLY $5695 per person."
  • Spiritual Warrior: "You owe it to the rest of your life to get to Spiritual Warrior as quickly as you can. The investment is ONLY $7695 per person."

I don't know about you, but it sounds to me as if we owe the rest of our lives a hell of a lot of money.

Ray is also hosting a special event called "The Quickening,:" to be held in Kona, Hawaii Apr 23-April 27, 2007. There’s no word yet on the cost of that one, or even what it is (the link lead me to the Creating Absolute Wealth page). But the web site does indicate that The Quickening is "By Invitation Only." So if you want to get called to Kona, I’d suggest you get yourself into Ray’s inner circle P.D.Q.

So who will win the Secret Hunk face-off? Will it be Zormak or the Ray Gun? Or will it be wild-card contender Bob Proctor? (Yes, one of the ladies on Marcy’s forum actually suggested good old Bob.) Or will it be someone else entirely? I can’t wait to find out.

* Note: The Two Amigos became Three Amigos again when Michael Beckwith apparently changed his mind and rejoined Bob Proctor and Jack Canfield in the briefcase scam.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

"You’ve never metaphysician like me!"

I’ve lived in Houston nearly all my life, but until last night I had never had the pleasure of seeing one of the Bayou City’s greatest musical treasures, Beans Barton and the Bi-Peds, in action. Dale "Beans" Barton is both a performance artist and a visual artist, but that simple description doesn’t even begin to do justice to the madcap live performances of Beans and his band. He refers to these performances – which are enhanced by a captivating tribal belly-dance troupe, assorted loony characters and his own manic narrative – as "rock and role" shows. And the emphasis is on the rock as much as the roles, because mixed in with all that craziness is some damn fine music.

It’s all for a good cause, too (beyond the eminently noble one of having a bloody marvelous time): during each show Beans creates a painting, which is auctioned off at the end of the performance, with all proceeds donated to the Houston Food Bank.

Last night was Beans Barton and the Bi-Peds’ 21st anniversary concert at Dan Electro’s Guitar Bar in Houston. The Rev thought it would be good therapy for the two of us after the rough week we’ve had dealing with my mother’s hospitalization, frantic work deadlines and other problems. And he was right.

The theme of the show was "In The Feet Of The Night" – eerie, since my mom just had a foot operation. Plus, I hate shoes, and go barefoot as often as I can. In fact I immediately kicked off my flip-flops as soon as I settled onto my bar stool, and I spent most of the night barefoot. Well, as they say in the New-Wage world, there are no coincidences. Some might speculate that the "Feet" theme might have had something to do with the fact that Beans' band is called The Bi-Peds, but I know better. It was all about me, and what's going on in my life. After all, as they also say, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

Even if he shows up in a larva costume.

One of the main things most people notice about Beans is his curious obsession with the insect world, which is kind of odd, considering that insects are hexapeds, not bipeds. But once again I believe this has something to do with me, since my first career aspiration as a child was to be an entomologist. As a kid I was crazy about bugs of every variety. I was especially fascinated with larvae of all kinds. I don’t like insects so much anymore, with the notable exceptions of click beetles and a few other insect families, but there are definitely bugs in my background.*

But enough about me. Let’s talk for a moment about Beans, who is famous for slithering and dancing his way onto the stage in a huge larva suit, under which are several squirming belly dancers and other members of the troupe. Last night he did not disappoint, and he gleefully carried the insect theme through the performance; the first song of the set was what seemed to be a moth's suicide warning ("I might bite the light tonight!").

Now, lest you think I’ve veered way off topic with this post, hold on. There is a connection, after all, ’tween Beans and my little Whirled, for at one point during his frenzied narrative, Beans (or a character he had assumed) announced that he is a metaphysician.

"You’ve never metaphysician like me!" he added.

And I have to admit he was right.

Today's world, as you know, is full of metaphysicians,** many of whom offer a wide range of products and services and workshops and sessions that could very well set you back thousands and thousands of good American dollars. I'm not saying these people aren't very, very good at what they do;*** I'm just saying that some of them are rather costly. By contrast, the session with Houston’s craziest metaphysician only cost $10.00 per head.

And I came out of it feeling better than I’ve felt in a very long time. Thank you, Beans, and most of all, thank you, Ron.

PS – Ron and I were honored to attend the Beans bash with two other musicians and good friends of ours, Bill and Kathleen Gibson. Bill is a member of the Citykings and Kathleen does backup vocals and percussion for the band. I am still rooting for the Citykings' reggae-influenced "Some Guy Out On The Street" to be a theme song for a TV series or movie someday soon. It’s a catchy tune and I can’t get enough of it! David E. Kelley or Jerry Bruckheimer, are you reading this?!?

Click here to hear more song samples and buy the Citykings album, Four Lifetimes.

Y'know... Houston may not be Austin, but as long as we have the Citykings and Beans, I’m in heaven.

*And some would say there are bats in my belfry too. But I'm sure it's just an inner-child issue.
** As well as many opportunities to purchase the degrees that will allow you, too, to become a metaphysician!
*** Such as getting you to give them your money.

A real apology this time

Sometimes in my attempts to be clever I get carried away. This was the case yesterday when I made a gratuitous comment about Joe Sugarman, world-famous marketer and copywriter (he's the BluBlocker king) and his lovely bride Leila. I speculated that Joe had availed himself of a mail-order bride service. I was reading between the lines on one of Marcy From Maui's blog posts, and obviously I misread this time.

I published Joe's response in the comments section of yesterday's post but wanted to place it here too so it would be more visible. Joe wrote:
No my bride was not obtained on line or off line. I was a judge at the Miss Hungary beauty pageant and she was a contestant. She won. The prize: Ten days on Maui as my guest. The rest is history.
So it was an old-fashioned romance after all, and here's a link to a story from the Maui Weekly that proves it. Once again, Joe and Leila, I apologize. Mea culpa.

And I apologize to the rest of y'all too for my misstatement. There are enough real targets in the New-Wage world, after all. (Such as Tilak, who probably owes the Sugarmans, and Marcy, and very possibly the entire island of Maui a huge apology...)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Jack and Bob: the show must go on

I dropped in on one of the threads on Marcy From Maui’s Powerful Intentions forum – you know, the one where they’re discussing the Three…make that Two Amigos Science of Getting Rich (SGR) seminar. (As I noted in my previous post, the Reverend Michael Beckwith seems to have gone missing*; he’s left philosopher Bob Proctor (who performed so brilliantly in his interview for the March 23 Nightline) and Chicken Soup chef Jack Canfield holding the (money)bag.) But the show must go on…even without Reverend Michael, and even with the possibility of Rhonda Byrne’s attorneys rattling their sabers.

Anyway, one participant in the Powerful Intentions forum offered a link to one of the "lessons" included in the SGR seminar. This lesson covers the Energy Redirection Technique, which Jack and Bob say is really simple. All you have to do, when faced with a bad situation, is to think of a way to turn it into an exciting challenge.

"Now, we're not saying you need to forget or ignore the negative event," say Jack and Bob. "That can sometimes be very hard to do."

Wow. Who says these rich guys don’t understand the rest of us?

"But by finding a challenge, a goal – something that can motivate and inspire you – you now re-allocate a large chunk of your energy away from the negative thoughts," they continue.

To illustrate how beautiful and simple this is, Jack and Bob offer a few examples of negative situations that, with a little creativity, you can turn into a good old time.

Bed-Ridden in Hospital: Decide that you're going to use this free time to learn something fun, say a new language. Now you're thinking about a new skill rather than focusing on your illness.

My mom fell and broke her left hip last week and had to have surgery. The next day it was discovered she had a bad infection in her right foot that necessitated her having to have a toe amputated. Although she is out of the hospital, she is now bedridden in a rehab joint and, frankly, I think she’s a little bit too focused on her suffering. So I’m rushing out to buy some books and tapes, and by golly, I’m going to make her learn Portuguese this week, and maybe a little Russian next week. I think the challenge will be good for both of us!

Got Laid Off: Set a goal to find a job that pays you 25% more than your previous job. Think about this new job and stop thinking about being laid off. Start job hunting. Do not hold any negative feelings towards your boss for laying you off. Instead, think of him as having done you a favor because you're now going to find a better job.

That’s it! Now I am really beginning to get excited, and I bet you are too, especially if you actually have gotten laid off. Just go out and find yourself another job. Why didn't you think of that? Well, I guess that's why they're Jack and Bob, and you're not. But why stop at a salary of 25% more than your other miserable job? How about hundreds of percentage points more? It’s easy!

Someone Owes You Money and Refuses to Pay Up: Forgive them. As long as you hold a grudge, you're telling the Universe that you've lost money. And indeed, you'll attract the loss. Instead, set a goal to earn twice the amount of money you've lost.

And if you are beginning to feel you got screwed for spending nearly two thousand bucks for this Science of Getting Rich course, you are just attracting more loss to yourself. Buck up and forgive Jack and Bob for swindling you. Then give them more money, with the idea in mind that the Universe will have even more for you to give them soon!

Got Dumped: Decide that you'll find a new love. Someone better suited to you. Make a list of all the qualities you'd love to see in your ideal mate. Now focus on meeting this new person.

Remember that Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale said it’s as easy as flipping through a catalog and placing your order. In fact if you are a man, there really are online catalogs where you can buy yourself a very nice Filipino, Russian, or Eastern European bride. (I may be wrong but I believe this is what BluBlocker King Joe Sugarman did. There I go again, reading between the lines.) Or you can buy any number of books and audio products by "seduction experts" who will teach you how to pick up women.

Granted, if you happen to be a heterosexual woman this might not be the best option, but if you live in a city of any reasonable size, there are single men on every street corner holding up cardboard signs. They are just waiting for you to stop and talk to them!

Lost a Business Due to Bankruptcy: Use your creative hat. Decide that you're going to rebuild a new business and regain your financial freedom. Set a goal to earn 3 times what you previously had. Bonus Points: Decide that you're going to earn so much more than you'll be able to repay all your debts - even though you legally may not have to.

This is the best advice I have seen anywhere in a very long time. If you do not have a creative hat you can buy one at any party-supply store or even your local dollar store. Put your hat on and get busy setting goals and manifesting. The best way to start manifesting is by sending me at least $10,000.00 USD so I can start getting my own debts paid off. I will be so happy that my happiness will eventually trickle down to you. And you will then be so happy that perhaps you’ll be motivated to find a really good job, or even start your own Internet-based business. So c’mon, what are you waiting for? Start redirecting that negative energy.

"It’s really that easy!"

* My pal Tony Michalski just sent me a link to this blog, in which a Secretron pleads with the Reverend Beckwith, "Baby please don't go!" Or words to that effect.

Love that Bob!

Last night, ABC News Nightline attempted to tackle The Secret. Since Secret creator Rhonda Byrne is apparently interview-shy right now (goodness, I hope she’s not too brokenhearted over the disappointment about Tilak)*, Bob Proctor graciously agreed to sit down and talk to Cynthia McFadden about the criticisms leveled against The Secret and the Law of Attraction.

As you probably know, Bob, who is identified as a "philosopher" in The Secret, was one of the Three Amigos at the helm of that now-infamous $1,995 MLM briefcase scheme, The Science of Getting Rich. When I clicked on the web site just now, however, there only seemed to be Two Amigos; missing in action is the Reverend Beckwith. I certainly hope the guys didn’t have a fight or something. I don’t see why they would; after all, the Universe is a fount of endless riches, and there’s enough for everyone!

In fact I was all prepared to fork over $1,995 to get in on the briefcase scheme myself,** but alas, the SGR site seems to be closed down for the moment, with this explanation: "We had what is termed a ‘soft launch’ for this SGR program and we gathered a tremendous amount of feedback; data and information that is going to improve the program for everyone involved. In order to implement these changes, we have shut down all of the sites down for the next 24 to 48 hours to do the work that is necessary."

I'm thinking that at least some of that work would involve satisfying the demands of attorneys for Rhonda and gang's company, TS Productions, LLC. Just a wild guess. In the New-Wage world it always pays to read between the lines – you almost have to – and I'm thinking that "soft launch" is internet hustledork-speak for "Oops!"

But never mind that. Let’s focus for the moment on Bob Proctor, who has met the criticisms against The Secret head on and has come out on top.

"I find it amusing that anybody would criticize it," he told Cynthia McFadden. "Do you know, it's always been around? The law of attraction is always working. That's like saying the sun's not shining. The sun's always shining. You may not see it, but it's always shining. The law of attraction is always working." He went on to explain LOA to Cynthia, and gave an illuminating example:
And the law of attraction is…
Well, the law of attraction is based on a law of vibration. You’re, you’re a mass of energy on a high speed of vibration. And the vibration you’re in is controlled by the images that are in your mind, that are fixed in your mind or the thoughts that you’re thinking. And the controls the vibration you’re in. That dictates what you’re going to do. It also dictates what you attract to you. You’re not going to attract something to you that you’re not in harmony with.
Now, do you mean literally attract?
Absolutely, just like a magnet. You felt – well –
[OVERLAP] But I thought, I thought magnets attracted their opposite.
Well, magnets complete a chain.
It, it keeps a circle going. And, but if a person is very positive they’re not going to feel comfortable around people that are very negative, are they? They’re going to be repelled from them. They’re going to be attracted to other people who are very positive. Like attracts like. You’ll find poor people all living in the same neighborhood. You’ll find wealthy people all live in the same neighborhood. They’re attracted to situations.
Yeah, but poor people can’t afford to live in the wealthy neighborhoods and the wealthy don’t want to live in the poor neighborhoods.
[OVERLAP] Well, that, that’s, that’s the obvious answer but that isn’t the real answer. You’re going to find that almost all people in poor neighborhoods are fourth, fifth generation welfare recipients. And that is because this thinking has been passed along in the genes. It’s a genetic conditioning. It’s not only genetic. It’s environmental. When you arrive on the scene why do you think you look so much like your relatives? Do you think it’s an accident? It’s all programming. It’s genetic programming...
Well, I don’t know about you, but that clears a lot up for me! Now I know why there are so many poor people on welfare. It’s not just environmental; it is also in their genes!

In researching Nightline story, ABC spoke to several experts on medicine, physics, finance and religion. One of the medical experts was Dr. Richard Wender, president of the American Cancer Society, who was concerned about the implication that we can create disease or heal ourselves with our thoughts. He told Cynthia, "I want to be very clear that there is no evidence that people attract cancer by their thoughts." When Cynthia confronted Bob with Dr. Wender's remark, he declared that the doctor was "not well informed in this area."

You tell 'em, Doctor Bob!

To address those burning quantum questions, Nightline went to Brian Greene, Ph.D. a renowned physicist at Columbia University. Dr. Greene said, "If by law of attraction, they have this notion of having a thought and it attracts like thoughts, I can assure you that quantum mechanics has nothing to say about that." He also added that even though he’d never met Plato, Edison, Galileo or Einstein, "I have zero evidence that any of them would’ve held on to any fundamental secret about the world and not shared it." When Cynthia mentioned all this to Bob, he answered that having a doctorate*** doesn’t necessarily make a person knowledgeable about these matters.
Knock ’em dead, Scientist Bob!

I could go on and on, but I’d rather let Bob speak for himself. Only a small snippet of the lengthy interview made the cut for the Nightline segment. (And, to be fair, Bob did say that he personally would not recommend that people who have cancer refuse medical treatment. Yet when Cynthia confronted him with the point that The Secret appears to be telling folks to eschew medicine, he insisted that anyone who got that message from The Secret was misunderstanding it.) Anyway, for a complete transcript of the interview click here.****

* OK, she's probably over the heartbreak by now. Bob Proctor speculated she's probably just a little overwhelmed by all of the negativity that now surrounds The Secret. Shame on us critics!
**Not really. Do you really think I am that stoopid? Wait, don't answer that.
***He could have qualified that and said, "Even if it’s a real doctorate, like Brian Greene’s."
****Note: It is a 107-page PDF file, so it may take a little while to load.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Doc’s into wishin’

The subject line of the email I received today was, "Intuitive Physician Reveals the Secret to the Law of Attraction." Well, I thought, that seals the deal for me. If mainstream medicine is now embracing LOA, it’s gotta be based in real science.

Upon reading further, though, I found that Dr. Robert Friedman, whose ad was graciously sent to me by my favorite New-Wage spam service, is not an M.D. or even an O.D (osteopath). Instead he’s an O.M.D., or Oriental Medical Doctor, although frankly he doesn't look Asian to me. But no matter. What’s important is that, according to him, anyway, he has discovered the secret that increases the Law Of Attraction. What he has to offer, he says, is "a Universal GPS for optimum achievement." Now, that sounds like cutting-edge LOA technology.

Dr. Friedman, or, as he prefers to be called, "Dr. Robert," has a special LOA program geared to business owners. He’ll be offering a free teleseminar on April 5 from 6 PM Pacific Time (9 PM Eastern). The teleseminar will center around what the email Dr. Robert sent to me calls "The 9 powers of success" but what Dr. Robert’s IntuitEdge web site calls "The 9 chakras of success."

And Dr. Robert is well qualified to present these secrets, as he is not only an Oriental Medical Doctor but also "an Intuitive Business Consultant and Author, who combines four decades of business experience with the science of physics and intuitive foresight in a business program that will transform your life!"

It seems pretty obvious the good doc is wishing and hoping that he’ll be able to jump onto the Secret/LOA bandwagon with all of the other New-Wage hustledorks. But it's getting pretty crowded there now, and he has a looooong way to go before he catches up with Mr. Fire or The Three Amigos. Still, I've always liked to root for the little guy. So keep on hustling, Dr. Robert!

PS - I’ll be back to my usual blogging self soon…I am dealing with major work deadlines, as well as a few family crises that have me feeling like Edvard Munch’s most famous painting.
PPS - Don't miss tonight's 90-minute teleseminar exploring The Secret. My pal Blair Warren, along with host Kevin Hogan and a couple of other guys, are going to rip The Secret a new one.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Another wacky weekend

First of all, Happy Saint Paddy's Day, everyone! Just a few potshots, and then I’ll be off.

Something stinks in here
The subject line of the email message was intriguing: "Clearing the Way to Manifestation with Clear Away Essential Spray."

Well, who couldn’t use help with manifesting, at least once in a while? I thought. I know that the best way to improve one's manifestation skills is to shell out a thousand bucks for a miracle weekend or something, but not everyone can afford that. And so, eager to find out more, I followed the link to a sound clip that told me all about a scientystical new spray from a woman who calls herself Adora Winquist. Isn’t that just the most adorable name? Adora is the creator of Rhiamon Energy Essentials, offering "Synergies for the Greater Good of All." Her best-selling product, she says, is her Clear Away Essential Spray. I suppose she felt a need to jump on the manifestation/LOA bandwagon, and who can blame her?

I urge you to follow the sound link too, and just for the fun of it, count the New-Wage buzzwords as you listen.

There’s no research yet on whether the Clear Away Essential Spray works to clear away the malodorous auras surrounding the Secret promoters and other New-Wage hucksters these days…but judging from all the buzzwords on that sound clip, I’d say probably not.

This just in from Atlantis
Have I got a deal for you! Those of you who have been here a while may remember
a piece I wrote last November on a marvelous device based on Atlantean technology. This device, the Buck Rogers Atlantis Environmental Energy System, was being offered at an incredibly low sale price, as I recall. (I’m in too much of a hurry to actually go back and review what I wrote way back then, so I’ll let you do it.)

Anyway, I just got in an email informing me that this same device is now available for an even lower price: $6,000.00!

Here’s how the Buck Rogers works:

The Buck Rogers Atlantis provides natural resonant health options to the public and public places. These options work by returning different aspects of energy to their own zero point balances, then moves them forward in a steady, active, balanced manner. The energy in your aura, subtle bodies and public place or building where The Buck Rogers Atlantis is placed will begin to work together harmoniously, in many different combinations.

This wondrous contraption gives you the best of all worlds, utilizing "ancient Atlantean and Egyptian technologies, combined with modern space-age discoveries. Sacred geometry, the stabilizing energy of gemstones, metals, natural fibers and Atlantean science combine in the resonant service available for you when using the Buck Rogers Atlantis System."

Here’s what one satisfied Buck Rogers Atlantis owner said:

So here’s the latest:
1. In the last 24 hours since receiving bucky I’ve gotten 3 calls from corporate recruiters looking to have me switch jobs.
2. New York leads continue to appear out of the blue. Probably $200k in new leads and calls. We’ll see how much of that gets closed.
3. Meditation is flying of course. Big heart clearing on Monday. Just watched. Nothing to worry about. It bubbled out and then moved out.
4. Couple of speaking engagements have popped up. Having fun with those. Go bucky!

Who needs The Secret when you have Bucky on your side?

Bucky is now available directly from my favorite New-Wage spam email service. They will use the funds from the sale to further their spiritual work on Earth, which includes interdimensional communication and arbitration; assisting the Earth in warding off comets, astral debris and asteroids; and aiding "the balancing of the Earth on her rotation."

Serious buyers can just send me $6,000.00, and I will see that it gets to the sellers, or, better yet, to my bank account. I will use the funds for monetary energy exchanges in service to the highest good, or at least in service to a debt or two.

Quotable quotes
I must say I’ve really been getting a kick out of a thread on Blair Warren’s Crooked Wisdom blog regarding the historical leaders, teachers, scientists, etc. who supposedly utilized the principles taught in The Secret. Famous dead people as diverse as Einstein, Jesus, Churchill, Plato, Edison, and even Mother Teresa have been kidnapped from the pages of history and are now being held hostage by New-Wage terrorists. And the same misfortune has apparently befallen a few live quantum physicists. I am sure that all are pleading to be released from the New-Wagers’ agendas, but so far their pleas are falling on deaf ears.

One of the most interesting aspects of this famous-dead-folks angle is the Secret promoters’ claim that the big secret – the Law Of Attraction – was known by many influential teachers and leaders and masters for centuries, but was deliberately kept back from the masses. This matter gets discussed on Blair’s thread too. So if you haven’t visited this thread (which provided my inspiration for the crude little collage above), you really ought to do so now.

For your viewing pleasure
And finally, my intensive research has uncovered yet another DVD called The Secret – or, rather, "
Le Secret." Now, this one looks interesting. (No snide remarks about Rhonda and Tilak, y’all. Besides, that great affair is apparently over; you knew it had to happen.)

All right… that’s it for now. Have a wonderful Saint Patrick's day, and if you get pinched for not wearing green, I hope you really enjoy it!