Ascent 303 – Rogue One

rogueone_onesheeta_1000_309ed8f6Finally! The next episode of the Star Wars saga was released on 12/16. It actually was available at some theaters in NYC on 12/15. It wasn’t optimal to attend that night. We acquired tickets for a late afternoon showing and prepared to be one with the Force.

I’ve grown up with Star Wars and have been a huge fan since the 70’s. (Showing my age here)

The movie release sequence has always intrigued me. Episode IV – A New Hope came out first, followed by V & VI. Then, many years later, Episodes I, II & III were produced. The Force Awakens – Episode VII was released last year and picked up the story from VI, many years afterwards.

I was curious to see how Rogue One would fit in with the story flow. Force Awakens posed so many unanswered questions and I was anticipating getting some answers in Rogue One. Did I get them? I can’t be a movie spoiler, so won’t be going into detail here.

Rogue One was a wonderful thrill ride of classic Star Wars proportions. As always, the effects were phenomenal and the action was non-stop.

rogue-one-starThe story begins where an Imperial shuttle touches down in remote farmland. They have come to pick up Galen Erso, a weapons scientist who is needed for some devilish projects. His wife is killed and his daughter Jyn escapes. Jyn is then rescued by a family friend.

Years later, she is on a transport to a prison when Rebel soldiers intercept and free her. She then becomes a reluctant part of the Rebel Alliance and assumes a key role in the struggle against the Empire.

The movie is the classic tale of good versus evil, the depiction of the difference a handful of committed individuals can make and the witty one liners that we know and love from Star Wars.

Now, I’m excited to see it again in 3D.

The Force is with me and I am one with the Force.

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Ascent 302 – Good Girls Revolt

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While attending an event in Manhattan in October, I saw a billboard with a picture of 3 women and the provocative title Good Girls Revolt. Apparently it was an Amazon series that was going to debut at the end of October.

I didn’t think anything more of it until I saw the series available on Amazon Prime. I watched the trailer and was instantly engaged.

The show is set in a newsroom in New York City in 1969. An interesting period of time with the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Civil Rights movement, Black Panthers and more.

In the newsroom, it’s a male-oriented environment, with men leading the editorial and reporting staff and women were relegated to being coffee fetchers and researchers, not getting any editorial credit for their contributions to the publication.

It will get an emotional response as you see the treatment these women were subjected to. In the homespace also, as women were expected to settle into servitude to their husbands.

Patti is a young idealistic woman who is observing all this injustice and decides to take a stand against it. She wants to be recognized for the work that she does and acknowledged for the powerful creative woman she is. And, rightly so.

She reaches out to a couple of other ladies who become her cohorts in drumming up support & collaboration amongst the female staff to take a stand against their employer for their basic rights.

I’m 3 episodes into the series and am captivated with how this story is unfolding. It is a masterful blend of drama, human rights, equality, comedy and sexuality. The latter is tastefully done and woven into the story to add context and value to it, not just for gratuitous content.

I’m excited to see how this story unfolds and will be rooting for the Good Girls.

Ascent 301 – Learning to Drive

learning-to-driveAfter a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner and the obligatory Christmas movie, we wanted to watch something fresh. After a brief perusal of the visual cornucopia that is Amazon Prime, our attention was captured by Learning to Drive.

The movie was released in 2015 and features Patricia Clarkson (who is Susan’s cousin) and Ben Kingsley. Clarkson is a writing critic whose husband has left her. Kingsley is a Sikh driving instructor who moonlights as a cab driver in Manhattan.

One night, Wendy (Clarkson) takes a cab home driven by Darwan (Kingsley). She leaves something in the cab and he drives back to her place the next day in his student driver car. As she has realized that she must learn to drive, she is pleasantly surprised to learn that he is a teacher.

As they commence lessons, the movie showcases other aspects of their respective lives. Darwan shares accommodation with several other Sikh friends and family members. He is on the verge of an arranged marriage and is coming to terms with that. Wendy is accepting her husband is not coming back and is shocked to learn that she must sell her house and provide support in the pending divorce.

As the lessons progress, so does their bond and they begin to teach each other about the new phases of their lives.

Darwan’s bride to be arrives and the marriage takes place shortly afterwards. I loved the insights into the Indian culture and the perspective of the Sikh.

Kingsley and Clarkson both gave outstanding performances as their respective characters and the evolution of each was heart warming to experience.

Ascent 300 – Doctor Strange

imagesI’ve been yearning to see this latest addition to the Marvel universe since it was released. I’ll be seeing it later this week with some fellow yogis. Last night, my schedule was clear, there was a showing nearby, so I ordered up a couple of tickets for the 5:30pm showing.

The theater is a few back roads away, so NYC rush hour traffic was not an issue.

The movie stars Benedict Cumberbatch as a superstar neurosurgeon with a massive ego whose life is shattered after a devastating car accident robs him of the use of his hands.

After traditional Western medicine fails to help him, in desperation he heads for a place called Kamar-Taj in Kathmandu Nepal, where he hopes Eastern practices will help him.

He is advised to forget everything that he knows before he enters. When he meets the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) he is instantly turned off when he realizes they’re about spirituality & energy, not scientific practice.

His mindset is shifted when she knocks his astral self out of his physical self, then he is shocked as they decline to treat him. He doesn’t leave and his persistence convinces them to bring him in and commence training.

Strange struggles with the practice and the exercises and is kicked into warp speed by a simple insight from the Ancient One. He then begins to expand exponentially as his powers and awareness dramatically increase.

He learns of an adversary played by Bond- villain Mads Mikkelsen, who has stolen text of an ancient ritual that can undo the world as we know it.

mark-strangeStrange is reluctantly drawn into the conflict and becomes the champion of this realm and must dig deep into his resourcefulness and powers, including breaking a few of the rules to triumph.

The effects in this movie are phenomenal, especially the changes that are made to the physical space the adversaries are in. As usual with Marvel, there are great comedic moments and witty one-liners.

It was a non-stop thrill ride with some interesting twists. I’m excited to go see it again and will try the 3D next time.

Ascent 299 – Living the 300% Life

Ascent 299 – Living the 300% Life

When I heard about the 300% Life UnConference being held by Monica Day in Manhattan, I was interested. I’ve been following Monica on FaceBook for a while and totally love her openness and authenticity. And, here she is hosting an event in my town where she shares these gifts with us.

I took advantage of this opportunity and found myself getting more and more excited as time came for it to begin.

dsc_0804The event was hosted at the Gene Frankel theater on Bond St. in the Soho district of Manhattan. The opening reception was 6:00pm to 9:00pm and the 3 active event days were 10:00am to 9:00pm. Initially, this felt like it was a little intense, especially as I needed drive to the train station, take the Long Island railroad into Penn Station then hoof it a few blocks to get the F train down to the event.

The excitement superseded everything else and the adrenaline of a new adventure was intoxicating.

Interestingly, I don’t go into Manhattan that often. My preference is actually to go east on Long Island and experience the beaches and the countryside.

The city is always an amazing paradox to me. Walking 34th St. or 5th Avenue, on one side you see exclusive stores and high end hotels, while on the other you see people sleeping on the sidewalk, covered with a dirty blanket and a small bag with all their possessions.

It is the most interesting people environment to experience. So much diversity, yet so much similarity. The stations are always teeming with noise, from the chatter of the people and the musicians performing to make some money.

I like to be a little early for everything I do to enjoy the experience of getting there, have time for a coffee and to get settled in to the space before the festivities began.

Bond street is a wonderful piece of the city’s history and is a cobbled street. The theater is one of many small intimate theaters in the city and has a wonderful ambiance and energy to it.

I was one of the first participants to arrive and got my formalities taken care of. Some hors d’oeuvres were set up, including some delicious sausage rolls.

Other participants began to arrive and we commenced connecting, getting to know each other, sharing how we know Monica and our excitement for this event.

After what seemed like an eternity, the door to the hall opened, and we were invited to take our seats. As I had volunteered to photograph the event, I opted for a seat off to the side where I could move and take pictures without disturbing the presenter or imposing on the audience.

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The room was almost full as Monica came out and took her seat on stage, welcoming us to the event and preparing us for what was to come. The first evening was an open reception and the the following 3 days were just for those who had signed up.

She had 4 wonderful presenters lined up, who shared their stories of pain, pleasure, self discovery and awareness. It was a wonderful evening of varying emotions and a great lead in to what was in store over the next 3 days.

Each of the following days was an amazing emotional and energetic experience as Monica led us in getting out of our heads and into our bodies. She shared personal stories, invited us to share ours, led us in movement and dance, performed various exercises of eclectic meanings, including tactile and kinesthetic, to open us up to the awareness, sensations and feelings of the body.

She taught us that the body is the repository of our truth and is our sacred transport. As such, we must honor it and heed it when it is trying get our attention.

I’ve been on this path for a long time and consider myself to be pretty enlightened & centered. Monica cracked me open and revealed to me an awareness that I simply didn’t have previously. To say I was amazed would be an understatement.

A significant lesson for me was on finding my edge. How much do we play safe and stay away from that edge of our awareness, that space where we can experience ultimate sensation and fulfillment?

I was truly awed at that I was introduced to and opened up to. There is so much more that I could share albeit I invite you to get to know Monica Day and experience it from her yourself. Monica’s website is

http://www.thesensuallife.com/

I’m so excited to see what unfolds as I move forward in my commitment to live a 300% Life. I’ll see you at the top.

Ascent 298 – Halloween at Chipotle

There’s been Halloween gatherings all over the place the last week or so. Tonight, on the official day, it was so great seeing all the young ones – and not so young ones – out in their costumes, ringing on doorbells and getting their goodies. It’s cool also seeing the parents dressed up with them.

We attended a Halloween party Friday night at the UU church in Manhasset, NY and got 3rd place for costumes.

Our friends Sharon and Jeff advised us that Chipotle will give a burrito for $3 if you show up in costumer. I love their burrito bowl and love hanging out with those guys, so we agreed to meet at 7pm at the Great Neck location.

We ran a couple of errands into Long Island, made a quick stop home to grab the outfits. I once again slipped on the lederhosen and ventured out into the chilly night to get my cheap grub. Next time, I’m wearing the pantyhosen too.

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Our friends arrived before we did and texted that there was a line out the door! It had receded some when we arrived. They were already seated and eating, so we said hello and got in line to get our bowl of burrito goodness.

I love the burrito bowl with brown rice, black beans, veggies, steak, pico de gallo, hot salsa, guacamole and lettuce. Tonight though, I opted for the chorizo, which I hadn’t seen before.

Shortly thereafter, we joined our friends and commenced the consumption.

A handful of local police officers came in and I had to go compliment them on their costumes. Thankfully, they had a sense of humor and I didn’t acquire a set of tempered steel bracelets.

The meal was great, time with friends wonderful. Then, it was time to head home, lose the shorts and get something warm on my legs. Life is good.

Ascent 297 – First Camera Traffic Ticket

noturn-on-redI’ve been driving in NYC for a few years now and only received 1 ticket – for holding my phone while driving. I was actually talking on the speaker, not doing anything dumb and distracted.

A few days ago, I was surprised to see I received a violation notice. NYC makes extensive use of traffic cameras. When you receive a violation notice, there is not much that you can do. It shows your vehicle, the traffic light, etc.

In NYC, you can’t turn right on a red light anywhere. In Long Island you can. I was actually in Long Island, had come to a stop at the light and, as no traffic was coming, made a right turn.

It appears this particular intersection was one of the few in Long Island where right on red is not permitted.

Thankfully, it’s just a fine and no points on the license for this particular incident. So, one $95 donation to the state of NY and life goes on.

Looking out for the signs …