April 6th, 2007


If you want a Shamanic book ...

I'm usually up front with it when I'm in a position to not be particularly objective about a book, but this one is a double-whammy in that regard. Not only have I traveled and studied with Alberto Villoldo frequently over the past quarter century, but Alberto even floated the concept about my possibly co-authoring "a book on soul retrieval" with him back in 1996. Frankly, I'm amazed that it took him so long to get this out (in 2005), as he seemed to be thinking of this as a "next project" back then. Interestingly (and in sharp contrast to his earlier books), there does not seem to be a co-author involved in Mending The Past And Healing The Future with Soul Retrieval, so this seems to be Alberto on his own.

One of the problems I have in dealing with Alberto's books is that, in some of the early instances, I was there for specific events, and they rarely played out on the page the way things had been on the ground. I subsequently found (from Alberto) that his "technique" for "writing" his early books was to assemble all his field notes into a file box and drop it off for his co-author to make some narrative sense of. Not unlike Castaneda, there is a "haziness" of the particulars surrounding the teachings (I recall one time Alberto talking about burning his journals, which totally freaked me out, only to find similar-sounding journals "referenced" in this book!). A startling example of this in Soul Retrieval is referring to his teachers as the Laika ... which seems to be an amalgam of his original Quechuan teachers (Don Eduardo Calderon primarily), and his later work with the Q'ero. Why fictionalize the name? And why pick the name of the dog that the USSR sent to its death in space on Sputnik 2? I'm still trying to figure that one out!

All that being said, Soul Retrieval is quite a good book. Alberto spins out the soul retrieval "process" bit by bit through the chapters, focusing on one thing (and, typically, one "meditation") at a time, but these are woven through with literary allusions (he uses the story of Parsifal extensively, as well as various Biblical snippets such as David & Goliath) and "case studies" from his own consulting practice. Now, having done (earlier) permutations of this work with him, I had several points in the book where I was thinking "Wait, why aren't we doing this now?" or "Huh? What's up with doing that there?" I also felt that at some points he was glossing over material that had featured significantly in various trainings that I'd been through, but I'm aware that this could simply be MY perspective and that the stuff in question is perhaps not as essential to Alberto's current model of soul retrieval. There was a point towards the end of the book, however, that I felt he (or his editor) had made a decision to "abbreviate" the process, as the established "flow" of the book switches and a number of particular exercises are described, but not walked through in detail. As a former editor/publisher I could see the "detailed version" being eyed warily as being "too repetitive", but the resulting parts of the book seem to be "glossed over" rather than fully presented.

Despite its subject (and a few ventures "into the light", as it were) Alberto Villoldo's Soul Retrieval is delightfully "non-newagey", having the feel of a training manual mixed with "clinical" observations, journal notations, etc., and tied together with literary allusions ... a combination that was quite a nice change from my other recent reading! Being a fairly recent release, this is available both in hardcover and paperback, so you should be able to find it in your local store, although I snagged a "like new" copy of the hardback via the Amazon new/used vendors. If you have an interest in this particular Shamanic practice, this is a good one to pick up!

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Oh, fucking great ...

I just got this note back from the SecondLife folks:
Your log files show that your graphics card (Radeon 7000) is incompatible with Second Life, which means that, unfortunately, SecondLife cannot run on your computer.
This, of course, being the goddamn graphics card that I specifically bought to be able to run SecondLIfe, and (of course) mere hours after investing in more RAM for my system.

So, now I'm looking at shoveling MORE money out the door if I want to play this stupid fucking game. It really pisses me off that they don't SCREAM the details of what you need to play that shit when you sign up ... if I had been "walked through it" I could have spend $5 more than I initially did (for the video card) and been (from what I see now) good to go. But at that point I had no fucking idea about the differences in video cards, having never had a fucking need for one previously, so blindly went out and ordered one.

Frankly, it pisses me off that they don't have some "dull but functional" level that would work with the "integrated graphics" that came with my computer, and that when they first indicated that I had to go "above and beyond" that to make this stupid fucking sack of shit game work they didn't specifically say "this is the minimum, anything which does not say X, Y, or Z will not work", because, come on, if I'm trying to use the fucking thing on a system with "integrated graphics", it probably is a good indication that I don't have a fucking clue about graphics cards!

Damn them to fucking hell.

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Saw a movie this evening ...

Yep ... another kiddie movie. I had actually been toying with "playing hookie" from my job search this afternoon and sneaking out to see "300", but that didn't happen .. and just as well when The Wife suggested we go see Meet the Robinsons once The Girls got in from their playdates.

Disney's had teasers out for this for what seems like years, but somehow in all those trailers I somehow had missed the 3D aspect of this (I must have been too entranced with the concept of The Coffee Patch ... each having the impact of 12 cups of java!). In fact, this seems to be the introduction of a whole new theatrical 3D technology (Disney Digital 3D) ... although now looking at the "official site" I see that the 3D was just in "select theaters".

Hmmm ... which means I should probably try to de-couple the "3D experience" from the movie itself. I'm guessing that the current 3D tech is an outgrowth of the 3D "rides" at DisneyWorld, although this was "better" than the 3D in something like "It's Tough To Be A Bug" at the Animal Kingdom (although not attempting the tactile/scent aspects of that). Like those attractions, the 3D effects were produced via a very substantial pair of glasses (dead ringers for those worn by the late Roy Orbison) with slightly tinted lenses (not blue/red but some sort of fine mesh ? that looks holographic if you look through them into a mirror). Frankly, the 3D effects were "coolest" on the intro credits for the technology itself ... there was also a Donald Duck cartoon from the 1950's that had been done for a previous 3D system, and this was "the first time seen in theaters in over 50 years". Being a 3D movie (I wonder if these bits got cut from the non-3D version?) there were the classic "stuff flying at the screen" shots, and a lot of stuff whooshing around to play up the effect.

As for the film itself, it was "OK" ... "The Robinsons" were an odd collection of strange types that the young protagonist is thrown into via a convoluted series of time travel incidents. Frankly, the "timeline" issues were worthy (?) of one of the more convoluted StarTrek Voyager episodes involving the "timeship Relativity", and there are several "temporal questions" that don't get tied up by the end. As such, it's a bit dicey outlining the plot, but it involves a brilliant orphan boy who must get his amazing invention to the science fair, and a character from the future who is trying to steal it for himself.

I liked this well enough, but felt that they could have expanded a bit more on the "family" characters and tied up some of the looser loose ends. The only "names" that I really recognized were Nicole Sullivan from MADtv, Adam West (TV's Batman), and Tom Selleck, none of whom were particularly voice-recognizable (Selleck was joked about in one scene).

For adults, hey, it's a fun sci-fi sort of thing ... and worth going for the 3D show ... but I'm not sure I'd say rush out and see this, especially in one of the non-3D presentations!

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