Avengers: Age of Ultron is upon us, and that means the odds have gone up considerably of me having to confront The Whedon Problem with my more sophisticated, artsy friends. First you have to understand that my friends and I spend way too much time analyzing the latest “golden age of television” gems—Breaking Bad, The Fall, True Detectives, The Americans.
Norm Macdonald Live, the YouTube talk show of veteran comic Norm Macdonald, just launched its second season—guests so far have been Ray Romano, and fellow SNL alums Adam Sandler, and David Spade—and comedy connoisseurs are pretty psyched about it.
In Zen Buddhism, you are not supposed to want enlightenment; you are supposed to sit in zazen merely to sit in zazen. This is called having No Gaining Idea. It is coveted. Ah, but how to gain No Gaining Idea?
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When I was seventeen, I would wake up at 4:30 in the morning and put on my ripped black jeans, drab olive T-shirt, blocky engineer boots, and black leather jacket bristling with punk rock safety pins. Then I’d stagger out of my cluttered studio apartment, get on my motorcycle, and ride through the dark, silent Minneapolis streets to the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center, where I’d sit like a statue in meditation until the morning sun poured through the windows and made blazing yellow rectangles on the hardwood floors.
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The flight attendants did one last cabin check before takeoff, blissfully unaware that, soon after leaving the runway, our plane was going to crash in a blazing holocaust.
But I knew.
I’d had a premonition – I’d seen the flames, heard the screams, felt the hulking machine hurtle toward earth like a skyscraper fallen from the clouds.
Granted, I got this premonition every time I flew, but tonight it felt different, deep in my gut.
MORE of this essay appears in Cezanne’s Carrot, a journal of literary fiction.
“So I’ve started following a guru,” I said to my oldest friend Herb, trying to make my voice sound casual and breezy. We sat in our favorite Thai restaurant, and he had been amiably teasing me about my healthy eating habits, grinning his wide, cartoonish grin, suggesting I ask the bartender if they had broccoli juice on tap. I’d loved that goofy smile since high school and I’d never seen it fade so quickly.
MORE at Orange Quarterly…