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Author of five books, Blogger & film critic, animal lover & activist-The 6 Degrees Writer aka Mary L Johnson

Summer Film News from 6 Degrees of Film

This summer film season, we are featuring fourteen movies that are opening in the summer of ’24. Starting in June, the films are just one piece of the recommended viewing for those of us who love movies. Not only does Turner Classic feature an array of different genres and even some modern feature films to choose from, but the streaming platform also gives movie buffs a chance to decide how to watch a film at any given time. Of course, there are good and bad features for this chapter in the history of the movies. There is always something to be said for a chance to sit in a darkened movie theater and experience a new feature film with the sound and the feeling and the accompaniments-even the popcorn buckets!-that go with the ‘movie-going experience.’ But those days are changing rapidly so we know we have to adapt and learn to look at the good and the bad that comes with the streaming platforms and small-screen debuts of major motion pictures! Here is a look at some of the films that are showing in theatres this summer. And after that, a short overview of the Turner Classic films, as well as a look at some films showing this summer in our local arthouse network at Tampa Theatre. Enjoy your summer, film fans and see you @ the movies! (Don’t forget to check out 6 Degrees of Film on Facebook each week as we go through the latest in the world of film in our magazines; 6 Degrees of FIlm @the Movies AND Friday Flix!) The Summer Movie Lineup for the Summer of ’24! Here’s the list of 14 films we’ve picked out that are debuting this summer JUNE FILMS Hit Man is out June 7th This is an action adventure flick starring Glenn Powell. We have reviews featured this week in 6 Degrees @the Movies. This film was relatively well-received by critics. June 7 The Watchers Horror movie from M Night Shymalan’s daughter. This film is also reviewed in 6 Degrees @the Movies this week… And this movie has also received some decent reviews for lovers of the horror genre, and particularly lovers of films by M Night Shymalan! June 14  Pixar’s Inside Out 2 Some new ‘emotions’ on display in this follow-up to Pixar’s hit film. Tuesday with Julia Louis Dreyfuss Dramedy about mother-played by Julia Louis Dreyfuss– of terminally ill young woman who comes to terms with everything with some help from an unlikely source-a ‘shape-shifting parrot!” June 21 The Bikeriders Tom Hardy stars as the leader of a Chicago Bike gang in late 1960’s; loosely based on real-life story of a Chicago bike gang… June 28 Daddio This film features Sean Penn and Dakota Johnson as two people in a cab who find serious connections on the way home from JFK Airport Horizon Chapter 1 This Kevin Costner directed Western is sub-titled “An American Saga’ with a variety of stories in the Old West from different viewpoints and perspectives. A Quiet Place: Day One The prequel to the hit film A Quiet Place.   Coming in JULY to the Movies   July 3rd Beverly Hills Cop Eddie Murphy returns as Axel Foley Joseph Gordon Levitt and Kevin Bacon are along for the ride July 12 Fly me to the Moon Rom-com set in late 60’s at NASA with Scarlett Johansson as PR person and Channing Tatum as reluctant astronaut for the PR ride… Deadpool & Wolverine   July 26 Hugh Jackman returns as Wolverine for this superhero/anti-hero outing with Ryan Reynolds.   The AUGUST Line-up   August 14 Daughters A hit at Sundance Film Festival in 2024, this is a documentary of a father-daughter dance held annually at a Washington DC Prison…. August 16 Alien Romulus A return to the Aliens franchise….   August 23 The Supremes at Earl’s All you can Eat Adapted from a novel about the lives of three young women over the years   The Arthouse films Summer Film Series…   What’s coming to the Arthouse: Tampa Theatre At Tampa Theatre this year, there is an array of films ranging from Westerns to fantasy to classics from the Golden Age. I would personally recommend seeing the following films if you have never seen them at the movie theater: Casablanca Butch Cassidy The Godfather Part II The Wizard of Oz I also saw Apollo 13 at the movies, and this is a great film so it’s worth seeing if you have never experienced it in the theater. Chinatown is a complicated film that actually might also be worth seeing on the ‘small-screen’ streaming for the first time. This is simply because the visuals, though impressive enough, really pale in comparison with the depth of the overall plot and performance from Nicholson. Notorious is a beautiful black and white masterpiece from Hitchcock. All Hitchcock films are worth seeing at the movie theater. This is one that stands out for me in the Pantheon of great Hitchcock classics. And the actors are so beautiful together, and the dialogue is riveting enough that this film can hold your attention both in the theater and on any small screen viewing platform. It’s worth seeing twice! On Turner Classic Movies in June Talking about the Classics…. American in Paris Wings of Desire On Dangerous Ground/ Laura: Film Noir Many Rivers to Cross Spirit of St Louis Lincoln The Longest Day To Have & Have Not/ Casablanca…. This month on Turner Classic, there are some notable film noirs. It’s no secret that I have a great love for the entire Film Noir genre, and “Laura’ is probably my favorite of the entire group. I also love “On Dangerous Ground’ as I’m particularly fond of Robert Ryan, who stars with Ida Lupino in this stand-out Noir classic. In our “Pioneers of Film’ series, the women who are strong and paved the way for others includes Lauren Bacall, who stars with Bogey in “To Have & Have Not,’ this month, and

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Growing Group: What does Personal Growth mean to you?

Why is Personal Growth vital for your Well-Being? Some words become so over-used that they sort of lose their meaning…Things like awesome and amazing can become almost meaningless with overuse. But the term “Personal Growth’ is one that has become a ‘buzz-word’ of late.   It should not be overlooked simply because it’s become a popular term. Personal Growth is a concept, but it’s also a goal for life that we can use to highlight a variety of events and situations within our own personal storyline. And when we do achieve a measure of meaningful growth, it’s something that goes beyond simply amazing and awesome. It’s a point of personal pride that helps us from deep within our lives and it reflects in our spirit and in our attitude about life and personal fulfillment.   For an example of how to achieve Personal Growth, there’s the story of someone who began their life as a carpenter (Not Jesus-in this instance!), and ended up becoming one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Or the woman who began life as a simple dressmaker, and became an icon and symbol for the Civil Rights Movement! Those famous examples are Harrison Ford, the actor, and Rosa Parks, the Civil Rights legend.   Both of them started out in life with humble beginnings, and achieved great things. And of course, we cannot all become famous celebrities when we achieve Personal Growth! However, the idea is that when we work hard and believe in ourselves, we can make our dreams become reality.   Why should you be concerned with Personal Growth? In life, there are times when we look back and we may have regrets about the way we could have handled a given situation. “Why didn’t I say THIS to that person?!” , is something we might think. Or we may find that we need to stand up for ourselves, or some project or another person, and we cannot find the right words or lack the right energy to carry it out. And we often feel like we have failed when this happens. That is why it’s important to do a “Gut Check’ at times and find out what we need to do to gain the confidence and the motivation to grow in our own lives. Ways to learn and grow as a Person   There are so many ways that we might find to help give us that attitude of courage and confidence to achieve our goals. Here are a few tried and true methods:   Take courses and study to learn more about what we love Find a Mentor-at work or in your community-to help you grow Read up on a subject -or travel to find out more about what you love   All of these are things that you can do to start to achieve some of the personal goals that you may set for yourself for the future. And these are all things that may take time. Or you might have to save your money in order to fund a long-term education goal or a travel destination. Begin Today!   For some proven methods that will help you focus your time and your energy on achieving your goals and attaining Personal Growth, there are several easy ways to help you kick-start your plans and motivate you as you begin your journey. Find out much more when you download the Growing Group Power Point to help you organize and begin to plan your next steps. And visit our Growing Group magazine and website to begin your journey today!  

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The Beatles: Why we Loved Them

  Sir Paul McCartney is currently promoting a gallery showing in New York City of the photos he took on the famous breakout tour in America of the Beatles in February of 1964. It was such a shock to the system when they landed in America. After JFK’s assassination, the country needed something completely different. The world was changing and the shock to the system needed a purge.   The Beatles were about love. She Loves You, was what they sang. And I love her was another song title. They were loved and people laughed to see how funny and witty they were.  And older people just shook their heads in wonder. It was a time of change and the country was ready for something different.   There is a book out now trying to explain why some people become famous and others don’t. In this case, serendipity met the moment! The Beatles were needed and they were persistent and above all, they were talented. So many naysayers thought of them as a “flash in the pan,’ and there were copy-cat groups that did try to emulate their success.   The Beatles were “The Real Deal” But the Beatles became famous for a reason. Their music was seen and heard by brilliant people like Bob Dylan, who also knew they were the ‘real deal,’ and not a passing fad. And the Rolling Stones also broke through at this time. The two pop groups were sort of a Yin & Yang for pop culture and rock music fans.   Bob Dylan came onto the scene through the doors of folk music and the entrée of the Greenwich Village beatnik scene. The Beatles listened to black musicians and gathered all the ammunition they needed from a wide range of pop influences. They were not really just overnight success stories. They worked hard and were persistent.  Plus they had producer George Martin backing them and pushing them and encouraging them not to give up!   The ”It’ Factor in their Success   That is one reason why the Beatles became “The Beatles!” But there was the ‘it’ factor too. It is this elusive factor in success; where Hollywood producers have told us that if you knew how to bottle it and sell it, then there would be thousands of celebrities and famous movie stars. But there is some extra ingredient that goes in to making a star into a “Star!” of great heights.   The Beatles brought with them the ‘it’ factor and it seemed to be the fact that they were loved. Their fans loved them and adored them and screamed and cried for them. That is what made it different. The “X” ingredient seemed to be the love quotient…   What they taught us about “The Global Village”   Before the Beatles, the idea of the “Ugly American,’ was apparent in the heavy-handed global footprint Americans had managed to create. But the Beatles were able to ‘lighten up’ the messaging problem a bit!   Why? They were the continental success story and they were loved in the newly emerging “Global Village’ Not as a pejorative term, but as a realistic fact, we have all become “Globalists’ in the Computer Age. But in the early sixties, the isolation of countries and the pervasive shadow of the Cold War loomed over our lives. But the Beatles sang their songs in French (Michelle, My Belle) They sang in German: “Komm, Gib mir deine Hand!” was I want to hold your hand!   They were English with a Continental flair and their flippant humor was perfectly charming to most Americans. The Global Village opened up with the global success of The Beatles.   Changing the Conversation   The conversation was changed for the better when the Beatles first appeared on the scene. Their humor, their hair, their clothes, their music, and their entire persona and popularity became the much-needed antidote to the national malaise that had fallen over the USA. They came on the scene at the right time and in the right place. They arrived in New York City and suddenly nothing was ever the same in terms of the notions of what a ‘pop band’ was! Nothing would ever be the same…   Looking at the photos that Sir Paul took from his own camera capture the moments that followed. You can see the excitement and almost feel it in some of the photographs. They sang “She Loves You,’ but we were the ones who fell in love that time in 1964 when the Beatles first came to our shores.

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6 Degrees Writer: Vignettes that VIP!

My Love affair with VIP! I’ve often had love affairs with words. One of them was from the old Stephen Colbert opening when he was on the Comedy Channel: It was “Grippy!” Colbert was on this Dana Carvey Comedy Show with Steve Carell and I used to be haunted by the fact that I was the only one who thought that show was hilariously funny! Now these people are famous and acknowledged and it validates my instincts for comedy in some quiet way. It doesn’t have to be shouted from rooftops but I can say this: I know funny when I see it! And the other love affair with words is for Dorothy Parker and her great vocabulary. There is Robert Benchley and James Thurber as well. All had great love affairs with words… And I, in turn, have this continuing flirtation with their creative displays and the lovely playful word feasts they have created. (Never a simple ‘word salad’ for these artists!) My newest love affair with words comes from an old Rock Hudson/Doris Day movie where Hudson saw the V.I.P designation and decided to make up a company called “VIP” And it’s like “Zudz!” or some fifties style brand that is just hilariously funny and teeming with meaning and onomatopoeia!… To my mind, VIP! embodies this great McGuffin of undertones for all the things we think are out there like widgets and prototypes and templates for items that are creative ideas and thoughts that never take flight! Instead…They VIP!   On the Randomness of Words: Felicitous Felicitous is thus defined: It’s an adjective most often used in formal speech and writing to describe something that is very well expressed or suited for some purpose or situation. It can also be used as a synonym for pleasant or delightful. Perhaps we know that it’s NOT the thing we hear most often these days simply because…there is not a lot of pleasant and delightful things to tell others about the news or present day world when we hear about modern life. A better idea instead might be to learn to re-orient and re-acquaint ourselves with news that is pleasant and delightful! And then-we need to know when to express our thoughts in a pleasant and well-suited manner. It sounds like a very old-fashioned type of wish for a very ultra-modern world where courtesy and manners and grace are somehow unknown quantities. And it’s also a sad fact of modern life.     The Random Bible Verse ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?’ Matthew 5:13 This almost seems to be a joke or a parody as random verses go. The salt of the earth I have never heard questioned in this manner. It also teaches us that the meaning is sometimes lost as we hear about those good ol’ ‘salt of the earth’ types and never question the meaning from whence the phrase came! Further reading tells us this: You are not JUST the salt of the Earth but the Light of the World. And I suppose it means you shouldn’t hide that light under a bushel. Salt can be ruined and thrown out, but if you let your light shine before others, and they see your good works, you may become as a beacon of light and a shining example to the whole world!  

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The Growing Group: Know Thyself

  For The Growing Group, this month we are looking deeper at our own inner wants and needs to find out what it means to grow in strength and wisdom and character. From some of our past experts and research, we have gathered a list of ten things to help us as we continue our journey of growth and self-exploration. Here is a short list of topics that will help us to better know ourselves! Number One: Self Realization Being self-aware concerning who we are is vitally important in our everyday lives and interactions with others. For example, if you know you are not good at public speaking, you shouldn’t be the person representing the group when you prepare a major presentation! If you are better at research, or even excel in smaller group settings, you should work on acknowledging who you are. Number Two: The Hierarchy of Needs This is a way psychologists assess our individual wants and needs. In Psychology, some of their jargon can be confusing and isn’t designed to be simple enough for the average person to understand and comprehend….which really defeats the purpose! But, the Hierarchy contains 4 things:  *Self-Actualization (Who you are!) *Self-Esteem (How you feel about yourself) *Love & Belonging (Your place in society) *Safety & Security (How comfortable are you in your daily life?) Number Three: List of “My Favorite Things”   This is a personal list to keep on hand and journal your favorite things. You can add to the list periodically. We all remember the Sound of Music where Maria signs about “A few of My Favorite Things!” We can all have a list that gives us a ‘pep in our step’ of favorite things…to go to and to rely on and to help us; like comfort foods-to give us balance; help us heal and be emotionally fresh and rested Number Four: Keeping a Journal of your “Greatest Hits!” We have seen “Brag Books’ from Moms & Grandma’s. But if you have a journal, keep a page to list your major accomplishments, You can keep this privately, but still, you need to acknowledge and add to your own list. Most of us don’t like to talk about ourselves and do essentially a “Brag Book’ which is the type of thing Grandma will carry around with pictures of the grandkids she proudly displays. We need to have to tear down the mental block that prevents us from creating a visual “Brag Book’ for ourselves of our own accomplishments. We know what we are proud of, the things we have done-if they are jobs we had-our children-trips we took-goals we achieved-even things we were proud we could walk away from and realize they were not good ‘fits’ for us! All of these things are part o your own “Brag Book’ of achievements to use as you visualize your own list of accomplishments in life   Number Five: The Rules to use for Personal Growth…. The Rules we have used in past Growing Group exercises include the “Blue Dolphin” rule, the “Milk Carton’ rule and the “Big Bird’ rule! For your own personal list of rules to set up in your journal, here are our suggestions: *The Blue Dolphin Rule: This is a rule to use when there is an unpleasant situation or experience you are dealing with. Imagining a beautiful picture of something that you love-a Blue Dolphin-or a favorite photo or image-can help you to visualize and to actually work to help you meditate and gravitate out of the hostile atmosphere and back into a pleasant state of mind. *The Milk Carton Rule: A Rule for living with someone who has difficulty in respecting boundaries or suggestions. If someone has been told to please put the milk back in the fridge as it spoils if left out, and they repeatedly leave it out, then you can find yourself in a full-blown war if the tension builds up! However, solving the problem by buying your own carton, marking it and putting it in your own space will help to reduce the resentment. It’s a way to go around the difficult atmosphere for a short-term solution! The Big Bird Rule: For those who may look at problems and not find a solution. The actor who played Big Bird would see his character at times from a different perspective with a camera that was facing inward to allow him to see how he performed in costume. So if you can focus the lens to see how you are performing, at work or in relationships, then it can help you to figure out how to move forward and allow a different perspective on your own thoughts and interactions! Number Six: Know Your Passions What makes you ‘You!” We have often said the goal of The Growing Group, of doing exercises and examining your life, is to create the “best of all possible You’s!’ That includes knowing what you love, what your passions are in life….all these things that make you special and unique and set you apart. It’s a notion that is from “The Unexamined Life” quote attributed to Socrates: “The Unexamined Life is not worth living.’ Number Seven: Embrace Your Strengths We mentioned earlier that some people may not be good fits for public speaking and extroverted activities. Some are good at research. Others love to crunch numbers, some love to cook and decorate. Others like to travel and exercise and go to concerts! Embrace your strengths and your own unique qualities! Number Eight: Know Your Capacity for Learning… This is something that we have seen over and over listed as a vital element in healthy aging, in balanced living and keeping yourself engaged! One of the themes from The Growing Group that we frequently return to is the one that urges everyone to embrace a lifetime of Lifelong Learning! Number Nine: Know Your Capacity for Love Strong relationships make us human and interesting and better at communicating effectively. When we have close

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The Growing Group: Have you ever done a Life Audit?

  Have you ever done a Life Audit? Your reasons for doing a life audit may vary. If you’ve never done one, then it can be a good time for self-reflecition in more than one area of your life. You may look at jobs and career growth, at your relationships, at your dreams and goals that you’ve had in the past. And from there, you can begin to organize and plan and create new goals in your life! If you are planning a career change, or perhaps are thinking of retirement or ‘Act II” in your life, then a Life Audit will benefit you immensely!    Getting Beyond the Typical Life Audit Questions One suggestion is this: Go beyond the typical life audit questions. For example, simply looking back and analyzing your strenghts and weaknesses or focusing on one or two episodes in your life. They may not reflect the whole picture of what you intend.  And the audit should be a basis for analysis that moves you forward! It’s not something to tuck away in the drawer simply to be forgotten! Think of the Reason for doing the Audit!   The REASON for the Audit should be about finding helpful ways to move forward.  All of life should be about moving forward. This is a good way to apply your findings to what you are doing in the here and now! It’s a way of looking at the past and then gleaning ways to work in the present to make it better!     Looking back on past moments- reframing the ‘failures’ phase…   A good idea when beginning to go through and reflect on your past in different areas is to work to reframe your own ideas of what has been deemed as success in your life.But also, examine closely what you have looked at as failures in your life. One of the best things about doing a Life Audit is to be able to sit down and use the past to reframe some of your actions and career goals and finding out that instead of failure, you needed those moments that didn’t work out in one instance in order to find the success you later had in an entirely different field or project! In other words, look for the teachable moments…    Looking at teachable moments   What you may have seen as failures were perhaps those moments when you learned a valuable lesson the hard way! And when things don’t turn out as planned, we can ofen use those mistakes that are part of life to continue and to persevere and then to succeed in another time and place. You do not want to clutter up your ideas and goals with pages of wish lists you’ve used in the past. The best way is to sit and to select carefully those things that you have wanted in the past-and the things that you did want and no longer seem to need or have a yearning to own or to do! That will eliminate Find the best ways to set up your own life audit categories   We recommend keeping it as simple as possible. Personal Growth/ Relationships/ Family/ Travel Goals/ Learning Goals/ are all good basic categories to start. You may then want to reduce it to five areas in your life that you want to reflect on and to grow with in the future  Looking ahead: Using past events to build Future Success! Ask yourself this:  What is the purpose when you do write your goals? And after you have been through the past and have had time to reflect on what worked –  what were the most successful outcomes you had? Or could imagine still! The next thing is to connect the two. Look at your past and  see how you achieved success. Or if you have seen others succeed using a plan of action, take a good look at what worked for others. Are there people that may help you that you may reconnect with? Or is there a successful project that you can rehash or adapt to use as a model for a future goal? Don’t get hung-up on the “Debbie Downers’of Life!   Look at the things that held you back or may have been obstacles to achieving your goals in the past. And find the connections that will help you to overcome these obstacles in the future. With planning and foresight, when you foresee the hurdles and drawbacks ahead of time, it will help you in achieving success in the future At the Growing Group, we recommend doing a life audit at least once every year. It doesn’t have to be at the start of the year, but may be when you have time in the summer months. And when you can relax and reflect on what has occurred and the things you would most like to repeat in terms of past success, then you can begin to plan for the successful outcomes that a Life Audit may bring to you!  

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6 Degrees of Film: 2001: A Space Odyssey-Then & Now

*Note: This was originally published in August of 2023 but was one of the blog postings that was lost from 6 Degrees website! Re-posted in May of 2024…   2001: Then & Now: Thoughts on seeing the classic film on the Big Screen   One of the topics that continues to arise in recent years is the constant push/pull of streaming movies vs the box office films that still draw movie goers in. And recently, the experience of sitting in a theatre to watch the classic ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ on the big screen brought that ongoing argument to mind.   It is one of the reasons that a film is set apart in our minds when we remember the special moments of our lives that can be traced back to the experiences we shared while watching films or in going to the movies. It is where we met our friends, our loved ones, and at times how we were able to escape and to simply relax and unwind.   That is why the experience of going to the movies should be one where we can take a moment and discover the films that stand out and then make a personal list of those movies that you would love to experience as they were meant to be seen-on the big screen!   2001 & the Star Wars Connections… Reading the wonderful book about the making of the film , (“The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey”), also helped to make the experience memorable. So many little details pop out. I had known that 2001 was really an inspiration for Star Wars and the special effects revolution that occurred at Industrial Light & Magic and at LucasFilms only became possible long after this film had been made. Here is the excerpt from my book, ‘6 Degrees of Film” that credits 2001 as the inspiration for “Star Wars.”   There was an opening for a big turnaround movie. One appeared in 2001: A Space Odyssey. At 2001’s release in 1969, Stanley Kubrick’s innovations were the cutting edge in technological advancement in films. But Kubrick’s innovations did not translate into other copy-cat films, and Kubrick remained something of a lone-wolf figure. For one thing, the film was made in England and was too big and too expensive to emulate. The film failed to revive the waning special-effects industry in Hollywood. But it did inspire a generation of young filmmakers who saw that it could be done.   George Lucas was one who acted on that inspiration. He said, “Almost from the moment film was invented, there was this idea that you could play tricks, make an audience believe they were seeing things that really weren’t there. But this was completely lost by the 1960s.”  Lucas labored for two years on his Star Wars script. …”   2001: The Details of the Film that stand out   So many details of the film stood out when reading about the making and then being able to see them up close and personal how it was realized on the silver screen. Here’s a few notable stand-outs:   The Monolith: One is the reason the monolith was BLACK and shaped as it was….became a question of praciticality for what Kubrick had envisioned The science portion was extremely engrossing in that those who were experts in the field …found things in the film that…even the NASA Astronauts were joking about the Black Monolith!   The question of HAL being IBM numbers secretly scrambled or some such nonsense was addressed by Arthur Clarke (Who seemed annoyed at having to explain this detail again!) HAL stood for Heuristically Adopted Algorithmic Computer for HAL…   The ending that has been so controversial; a huge sci-fi set was drawn up and they just in the end decided to use French Furniture; and yes, they are meant to be placed in some type of hotel-like setting where humans are on display….for the Alien race which we don’t ever really see….but instead we just imagine…For some reason the ending for me, is reminiscent more of The Shining, where we just fade out to this frozen shot….in Kubrick-ian style!   The connections with “Dr Strangelove,’ Kubrick’s previous film had been a big box-office success. Some of the revelations revealed that even then he was obsessed with an alien sub-plot to add!  Kubrick had wanted to add a post-film scene (in Strangelove) of the film depicted as a documentary shown to aliens about a “quaint comedy’ that somehow shows the Ancient History of Failed Civilizations…. It had already been well documented that he thought Strangelove should be a comedy instead of a straight up film about the possible fail-safe conditions that would lead to nuclear annihilation!   An interesting tidbit reveals that Carl Sagan also talked to Kubrick about the film. Sagan was not seen in a flattering light by Kubrick or in the book! Kubrick had a director’s addition of a documentary with some scientific experts who had talked about aliens and the science involved in traveling to other planets.   The Unique Collaboration between Kubrick & Clarke   The collaboration between Kubrick & Clarke was one of the most fascinating sub-plots of the book. Their dialogue & brainstorming sessions went along for years prior to the actual start of the film production (I can see another movie in this meeting of minds!)… and the book depicted the different ways the teamwork made the film better & stronger in the end. There was also the idea that-like the classic film, Casablanca-they would go in each day after filming had begun and fly by the seat of their pants!  Just letting inspiration take them to a new place-and then try to invent or create or come up with something even better than what they had planned. It was also reminiscent of the ongoing collaboration of the Apple Team that Steve Jobs assembled in creating the IPhone! It was more than just one man-but it did

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6 Degrees Vignettes for April

Note of Excitement: “Not all who wander are lost!”   I was driving and saw a sign that was attached to a rear spare tire on a Jeep that read: “Not all who wander are lost.” You can’t imagine the excitement I felt when seeing a ‘sign’ that there was someone else who loved the special saying I have on a pendant.  I loved the saying because it reminds me so much of Oedipa Maas and The Crying of Lot 49 (a book I dearly love.) Oedipa saw ‘signs’ everywhere that led her to think there was a secret underground conspiracy that was huge! And in this current day and age, the message seems so much more relevant. People seem to find meaning in signs and seeds for conspiracies just about everywhere these days. This phrase that I love on my pendant: “Not all who wander are lost” is either from The Lord of the Rings and /or Shakespeare. The original goes something like:  Not all that glitters is gold….& Not all who wander are lost!           I suppose the point is that nothing is as it seems. And that is how it should be in life!   The 3 AM Window leaves me with “The” on the page! There is this Creator’s myth where we hear of writers having wonderful inspirational passages that fly from the pen at 3 AM in the morning. Only to find in the stark light of day that the entire process was a sham and you are left with slashing your darling prose to leave when editing is done. You are usually just left with something like one “The’ on the page… When you write you write and you are always looking for touches of greatness.  And you are frustrated when you lose something you deem great or just good enough to fool others. Only you may discover it’s just not there! You are forced to write again or just give it up. In my case, it’s not like I have this 3 AM window of genius or a Hemingway-esque moment of grandeur… More than likely, I find that it’s akin to the moment in The Shining where we know the main character has run mad. But instead of the same words over and over, it’s this word salad that you thought was inspired but instead it just sounds like gibberish and jabberwocky. My writing mentor would always say: “Kill your Darlings’, so that leaves me with mostly “The’s” on the page! And then there is nothing more than a head full of dust and dirt-filled delusions where there were once dreams of  Beautiful Darling’s that extend forever! It IS a good thing that I am now starting to pitch my work and to send out stuff. It means I will be rejected, of course, but I can handle that. I see a lot of things written that I don’t like. I think editors are hard-pressed to find a large batch of good writing. There are good writers out there, but not as many as you might think. It runs the gamut from A to Blah There are competent writers, and those with some wit and humor and creative ideas, but they are few and far between. The pages that fill the internet are often filled with lots of rock-bottom feeders who are just slithering by. It’s not always creepy or demented, it’s just not good. Writers and critics like Dorothy Parker would make mincemeat out of the stuff we see today…It runs the gamut from A to Blecch! Or A to Blah or A to Zed….   The Random Fact about Kazakhstan   The largest country with no border-access to the open ocean is Kazakhstan, which has an area of 2,724,900 km² (1,052,100 mile²) and is bordered by Russia, China, Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and the landlocked Caspian Sea. The thing is: I know of this place. I have heard of it, but the areas surrounding it are so foreign to all of us here in the West that it’s hard to fathom and embrace. A landlocked place is something foreign to someone who lives so close to the open sea. Water is always the thing that calms and soothes and brings great comfort to a community and people. That is why people live near bodies of water. So landlocked places that are wide are foreign to our understanding. But the central point may be more about a closed minded society-and not a landlocked one. That is why we have feared those with no doses of information to share and spread and feel. It is another way of living that tells us we can become mind-locked & then dead-locked,.  And in the end, that seems to be much more worrisome than to simply be landlocked and boxed in… 6 Degrees you might have missed… *Vignettes from the Past… *From The Growing Group….

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For April: Five Favorite Things!

April is not really the cruelest month…but it’s been given a bad rap by T.S Eliot! It’s one of the transitional months that we find from time to time may give us pause as we get further and further into the year and start to say things like, “I can’t believe it’s already time for so and so or whatever!”…. That’s the nature of time. We don’t have enough time and we get TOO much information flooding in on most days! (See my latest Blurb Blog on Substack!) So it’s hard to know where to look at times….Some of the favorite things for April have been laid out and it’s hard to narrow it down to just five! Here are five favorites for April Number One is World Health Day on Sunday, April 7th World Health Day marks a time when we celebrate advancements made in medicine and in health care, and also the notion that health care is what makes us live longer and feel better in this 21st Century World we live in! Brown Bag Organics is our magazine that gives us updates and tips for aging well and living longer. Please visit the magazine on Flipboard and our page on Facebook as well! Number Two is National Pet Day on Thursday, April 11th Pets are seen by those of us who love them as natural extensions of our family. We can’t imagine live without our fur friends. And for those who are without pets currently, we may remember fondly a pet that we grew up with. Yes, there are some among us who consider animals to be burdensome and dirty and just a nuisance or an added expense.  But they are not the majority! Because those of us who love our cats and dogs will always appreciate the joy they bring and the extra dimension they add to our everyday lives. Even those who don’t have pets will concede how much love is bestowed by family and friends on those fur bundles that we love as if they are our children. And the wonderful thing is this-that love is given back twofold by our sweet pets! We can celebrate the day by giving a hug to our own pets, and acknowledging the joy they bring to so many. Number Three is World Art Day on Monday, April 15th World Art Day is a chance to celebrate the great works of art that we all know and have come to appreciate through the years. But also, we can take a step back and know that art is something that we live with and help to contribute to in experiencing the world around us. Modern Art even allows us to participate with projects such as the late artist Christo, who wrapped a bright pink color in the waters that surround us here in Tampa Bay. Take a chance to visit an art gallery and make a point of pausing for a moment in your busy life to just take in a work of art that may move you or inspire you!   Number Four is Earth Day on Monday April 22nd Earth Day has become a celebration that is global in scope and is a day to remember all the days of the year. Our slogan here at Brown Bag Organics is: “Every day is Earth Day at Brown Bag Organics!” We know that we have just one planet, one fragile blue spinning orb that we call Earth. And we have to learn to care for her, to celebrate her beauty and the unique and fragile ecosystem that we are duty-bound to protect and preserve! Celebrate Earth Day with us as we continue to enhance our knowledge through our Eco-Green Resource list and find new ways to honor and protect our home on Mother Earth!   Number Five is World Book Day on Tuesday, April 23rd World Book Day is not just another day for writers and book lovers! We are celebrating particularly this year with the idea that books are made to be celebrated and read and discussed and not banned! The list of recommended reads for us includes those books that come from our friends at CSPAN. And though many find it boring, CSPAN offers BookTV, an entire channel where new authors discuss their latest books and there are book festivals and conventions also seen and featured each week. Your local library is another place where, far from being a boring and stuffy place, there are community events and reading rooms and children’s reading events that take place as well as classes and workshops. Films and audio tapes are available as well as books at a well-stocked local library. Remember to support your local library and librarian too, as we celebrate books on World Book Day! Number Five TIE! The 23rd is also National Shakespeare Day! Since publishing “My Grandmother’s Shakespeare’ a decade ago, I have naturally taken every opportunity to celebrate Shakespeare in our lives! My short story talked about the many Shakespeare books my grandmother had collected as she was the parliamentarian for the local Shakespeare Club in her community. And I have added to the collection, as well as keeping a list of the best Shakespeare films that have been adapted to the screen as I began to write about films in later years. So all of these things give us even more reason to celebrate how William Shakespeare still has made himself a relevant influencer in our 21st Century World! For the month of April, that brings us to the end of the ‘happenings’ for the time being! Stay tuned as we keep looking for more upcoming events each month here at 6 Degrees!  Enjoy yourselves this April! Some other 6 Degrees Blog Posts you might enjoy! Spiritual Guideposts March @the Movies! Books I have Loved!

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Spiritual Guideposts for Lent

For Palm Sunday…Here’s the Spiritual Guideposts for March Bible Passage You will have Success…Be Strong & Courageous 1 Chronicles 22:13 The Christian Life is open to new challenges.. We have to be ready to say –Yes! To the life we were meant to live-with Courage! From the Book: Life Coach/Christ Coach   “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.” And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. Scripture: Matthew 7:21-29 From Life Coach:  The point is so simple: Do you or don’t you? Will you or won’t you? Your life should be built on  a strong foundation. Beginning this month, work on making your word your bond. Make sure that you have a reputation for truth and honesty. And when you say you’re going to help someone, just do it. It’s that simple. If you cannot do something, don’t promise that you will. Not because Jesus says you should or shouldn’t. Jesus is teaching you, of course, to grow in the spirit.  Therefore, you will learn to make your word your bond because you want to build a reputation in your life for being the type of person that is depended upon when things go wrong. You can become a leader & a mentor for others.  But you must start by building your life on a strong foundation of truth and honesty. You can start today & go one step at a time. This month, commit to doing something for others. Your Motivational Passage   Everything that is done in this world is done by hope.” – Martin Luther At first, I thought this was from Martin Luther KING but the original Martin Luther was also a pretty good thinker!….Hope is the thing that set him off and made him want to begin to embark on something new.  He found the courage to challenge the world as his namesake so many years later challenged a new generation.  In both instances, they saw a place where people were tunnel-visioned and filled with dark despair and guilt and pain and hate. If your message is carried with hope, the world can become a changed place… (By the Way- Barack Obama’s message, too, was one of “Hope & Change’….It’s a message that still resonates today!) From Zen Koans   One of the Zen Masters was approached by a student who told him he had a problem.  Will you solve it for me, he asked? The Master agreed, but told him to wait till the evening lecture. That evening, he called the young man up front and then told the assembled group , “Look! This fellow has a problem!” He then shoved the man aside and quickly left to go to his room. The lesson? That if you have a problem, know that it is something immediate. It cannot wait till the evening to find a solution. And perhaps if you are asking for help, you need to be aware that the Zen Masters will not work to make your problem-solving EASY for you! You are there, after all, to work to unravel the questions put to you by these Masters of Zen. They will not be fooled!    

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