Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Sedona – A Poem

(Photo by Justin W on Unsplash)

This poem – written for a friend – is about the quirkiness of Sedona, Arizona and people who live there (and my dear friend is one of the quirkiest people I know). Sedona is a unique blend of breath-taking landscapes, New Age energy, and esoteric experimentation. Although I never lived there, I went through real estate school in Sedona at the height of the housing bubble, passed the state real estate exam, and witnessed all the reasons for the housing market collapse. I spent a lot of time soaking up the atmosphere, getting to know both locals and tourists, and hiking among the Red Rocks. If you’re looking to join a cult or expand your mind, Sedona is the place to go. But, beware! Every community has its dark side, regardless of outward appearances, and Sedona is no exception.

Sedona

Tourists think the locals are all wealthy snobs

Who perform yoga contortions on the tops of ruddy mountains

And meditate in the epicenters of vortexes on the Red Rocks of Sedona.

But we know better, you and I, for we’ve known the locals,

And we’ve known the tourists, and it’s hard to say who’s more eccentric.

If they heard the colorful tales about your youthful days

When you protested at Alcatraz with the American Indian Movement

And met its leader, Dennis Banks, who jumped bail

And later went to jail and then prison,

Would they think you were real? Or just another Sedona fantasist,

Gazing into your crystal ball and scrying into a mirror?

You liked to test the boundaries of reality and the rules of society

And thumb your nose at The Establishment, whomever that happened to be.

When burglars looking for money and valuables targeted your neighborhood,

You laughed out loud — shocking the neighbors — when your son,

Dressed up in full Nazi gear, with his Glock fully exposed,

Ran around the neighborhood, after playing his part in World War II re-enactment games.

But, hey, your house was never robbed! And, that’s the joke.

And, remember that lady we used to know – the one who belonged to the UFO cult –

The psychiatrist made a special visit to her house one day, and we never saw her again.

But her son was happy: he got the house and all of her money.

Of course, you knew more than her about the greys and the lizard people,

Having met them in your childhood on your family’s farm in Pennsylvania.

You still remember Bigfoot’s stench when you fed him in the woods.

And you never quite understood why George Romero chose the neighbor’s farmhouse

Instead of yours to make his zombie masterpiece. Even befriending Jason Voorhees’ mom

(Of Friday the 13th fame) cannot keep you down on the Red Rocks of Sedona,

For your Buddhist heart is too large, your courage too brave, and your mind too active

To bring you back to earth.

~

Dawn Pisturino

August 16, 2022; November 1, 2022

(Revised October 30, 2022)

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

34 Comments »

What Happened to the Age of Aquarius?

If there’s one song that best captures the hopes and dreams of the 1960s, it’s the medley, “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” from the Broadway musical, Hair (1967). The 5th Dimension, who compiled the medley, really rocked it. I still want to get up and dance to the music. But, whatever happened to the Age of Aquarius?

Lyrics:

When the moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars

This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
Age of Aquarius
Aquarius!
Aquarius!

Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind’s true liberation
Aquarius!
Aquarius!

When the moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars

This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
Age of Aquarius
Aquarius!
Aquarius!
Aquarius!
Aquarius!

Alright, everybody
C’mon now, we gon’ use other words for this song
Let the sun shine
Let the sunshine in
C’mon, sing along with it

Let the sun shine
Let the sunshine in
The sunshine in (you’ve got to feel it)
Let the sun shine (you’ve got to feel it)
Let the sunshine in (ahh, open up your heart)
The sunshine in (and let it shine on in)
Let the sun shine
Let the sunshine in
The sunshine in
Let the sun shine
Let the sunshine in
The sunshine in

Songwriters: Rado James, Mac Dermot Arthur Terence Galt, Ragni Gerome. For non-commercial use only.

Data From: Musixmatch

Astrologically, nobody really knows when the Age of Aquarius is supposed to begin or if it already did. If you go by these lyrics, it began with the Hippie/New Age Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. But some people believe it began in the 1800s with the Industrial Revolution. Others believe it happened with 12/12/12 and the Mayan prophecy of spiritual realignment. Still others believe it arrived with the COVID-19 pandemic and officially established itself in February 2021. I saw one theory where Jesus and the Apostles were the beginning of the Age of Aquarius. Another one promoted Valentine’s Day 2009 as the beginning. So, who knows? One thing is certain – the lyrics do not accurately reflect its beginning, according to astrologer Neil Spencer, because “Jupiter aligns with Mars several times a year, and the Moon is in the 7th House for 2 hours everyday.”

According to New Age adherents, the Age of Aquarius can be identified by certain hallmarks:

  1. A rapidly-changing society, dependent on technological innovation and intuitive creativity;
  2. Universal unity, harmony, patience, love, brotherhood, peace, resilience, interconnectedness, and elevated consciousness;
  3. Increased self-awareness and self-realization, empowerment, positive thinking, personal responsibility, and intuitive guidance;
  4. The body-mind-spirit connection will resonate at a higher vibration than ever before in the history of the human race.

Some people see two paths emerging: the path of totalitarianism and enslavement by powerful elites; and the path of liberation and spiritual evolution by the masses.

In the meantime, while we wait for our astrological guides to enlighten us, we can work on these qualities as individuals and gain more control over our own lives and our own mental, physical, and spiritual development through mindfulness, yoga, spiritual practices like prayer and meditation, healthful nutrition, exercise, and kindness.

Dawn Pisturino

May 16, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

41 Comments »

Up, Up and Away!

In spite of all of our worries and cares right now, life goes on, and it’s far too precious to waste. Last night, I hopped into the car and took a long drive. It was quiet and relaxing, the weather beautiful, and the sunset gorgeous. I couldn’t help thinking about some of the happy music that I’ve heard over the decades, and this song, in particular, popped into my head. I remember listening to this song on the radio at breakfast every morning before school. And, guess what! It’s still a happy song!

The 5th Dimension – one of the best groups of the 1960s. I always loved Marilyn McCoo’s luscious voice.

Have a happy weekend! Do what you love to do! Go where you want to go!

Dawn Pisturino

May 13, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

11 Comments »

Microfiction: This One’s for You

Photo by Benjamin Balázs on Unsplash

I wrote this for an Underneath the Juniper Tree writing challenge, August 29, 2011:

I love you, Lizzie Borden . . .

As she crept up the stairs, fondling the wooden axe in her hands . . .

“This one’s for you, Lizzie!”

Dawn Pisturino

March 25, 2022

Copyright 2011-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

12 Comments »

Eleven-Word Story

(Photo from Raiders of the Lost Ark,1981)

An eleven-word story that I wrote for an Underneath the Juniper Tree Writing Challenge, August 10, 2011:

“Hideously white and deformed, the face at the window slowly decomposed.”

Dawn Pisturino

March 24, 2022

Copyright 2011-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

18 Comments »

Here Comes the Sun

(Photo from Unsplash)

As the sun grows brighter and the days grow longer, I plan to spend more time outdoors. So, I will only be blogging Monday through Friday. I’m taking weekends off!

I will still be responding to comments and visiting people’s blogs. The extra time also allows me to work on my own writing projects, which I have been neglecting. Time to get back to work!

Here’s The Beatles singing “Here Comes the Sun” from my favorite album, Abbey Road. Enjoy!

(Official Beatles video from Universal Music Group)

Spring is coming!

And, Happy President’s Day!

Dawn Pisturino

February 21, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

20 Comments »

Mariah Carey – Vision of Love

Mariah Carey burst onto the music scene with her hit single, “Vision of Love,” in 1990. Carey is known for her wide vocal range and ability to glide effortlessly around the musical scale. She has won numerous awards and influenced other pop singers with her dramatic style.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Dawn Pisturino

February 11, 2022

9 Comments »

How Hollywood Survived the Invention of Television

(1956 TV Guide featuring Lassie)

       Postwar social changes and technological advances in America profoundly influenced Hollywood filmmaking.  The invention of television produced direct competition.  Audience expectations demanded more complex characters and more mature themes.  Hollywood adapted by incorporating technology into filmmaking that would fascinate audiences and draw them back into the movie theaters.  Experiments in defying the Production Code led to the screening of more mature films and changes in the code.

       “By 1960 there were 50 million TV sets in homes across the United States, and lots of people were watching a lot of television: in 1960 the average daily viewing time for U.S. households with a TV set was over 5 hours a day” (Lewis 233).  Television was a new toy that people could enjoy, and it was free.  Families could gather around the TV set after dinner and enjoy watching it together.  The advertisements exposed viewers to new products.

       The Hollywood studios adapted by creating new business relationships with the television studios.  “Disney led the way, making a deal with the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) that included the production of a Disney TV show that aired weekly on the network” (Lewis 234).

       These synergies were so successful that multinational conglomerates began buying up Hollywood studios and formulating new ways to produce and distribute films.  For example, “Gulf and Western Industries bought Paramount in 1966” (Lewis 237).  Hollywood studios contracted with TV studios to run their movies as a second run.  Walt Disney negotiated a deal with ABC to create Disneyland, an amusement park.  These deals brought in much-needed revenue to the studios.

       The conglomerates abandoned production in favor of distribution.  They began using market research and tie-ins with books and other merchandise.  Technological gimmicks such as 3-D and widescreen were tried (Lewis 234).  But what finally brought audiences back to the movie theaters was the distribution of foreign-made films and defiance of the Production Code (Lewis 238-247).

       While American audiences enjoyed foreign-made films, these movies were produced by European standards and often came into conflict with the standards of the PCA.  Otto Preminger completed his controversial film The Moon is Blue, in 1953.  When United Artists submitted it to the PCA, it was rejected.  As a result, United Artists gave up its membership in the MPAA to avoid a fine (Lewis 239).

       Theater owners, however, were more than willing to screen an adult-themed film that did not have the PCA seal, and “The Moon is Blue grossed over $4 million in its initial release” (Lewis 239).  Preminger used the same strategy with his second movie, The Man with the Golden Arm.  As more and more controversial films were released, the PCA was forced to relax some of its codes.

       Jack Valenti, who was named the president of MPAA in 1966, agreed to an exception for the release of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.  Warner Bros. labeled it For Mature Audiences and left it to the theater owners to decide whether to screen it or not.  Pretty soon, Welcome to Hard Times was released with the label NO PERSON UNDER 18 ADMITTED UNLESS ACCOMPANIED BY A PARENT (Lewis 244-245).   Finally, in 1968, the MPAA came up with a new voluntary rating system: G (General Audiences), M (Mature Audiences and parental discretion), R (Restricted and no one under age sixteen unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian), and X (no one under sixteen admitted).  Films with an X rating could not receive a PCA seal (Lewis 283).

       The new rating system gave Hollywood the latitude to create a greater variety of films.  With social change rapidly advancing, the studios began targeting the youth audience and the social issues which were important to them (Lewis 285).  For a short time, studios began promoting “topical movies with a political edge” (Lewis 286) produced by new, young directors (auteurs) who could tap into young audiences’ interests.  The most famous and most profitable movie produced was The Godfather in 1972, directed by Francis Ford Coppola.  But as iconic as many of these films are today, studios wanted more formulaic films whose success could be easily reproduced, and the “auteur renaissance” (Lewis 282) ended.  Action blockbusters formed the new wave of Hollywood films by the 1980s.

       Hollywood has been resilient over the decades and found ways to adapt to new technologies, changes in audience interests, and restrictions placed on them by the Supreme Court.  Always alert to new avenues of revenue, Hollywood has survived by its willingness to negotiate new (and more profitable) deals.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

January 17, 2018

Copyright 2018-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Works Cited

Lewis, Jon. American Cinema: A History. New York: Norton, 2008.

29 Comments »

Books and Censorship

“Censorship — The Assassination of an Idea.” ~Bookmans Entertainment Exchange~

What’s in the raging flame
of banned books burning?
Knowledge, truth, learning,
courage, freedom, yearning.
~Terri Guillemets~

Banned Books Week will be held from September 18 – 24, 2022. But censorship is an everyday concern, especially for writers, poets, artists, journalists, and other creative people. We’re seeing too much of it right now in the current political climate.

We’ve seen authors mobbed on Amazon and other sites and deliberately given poor ratings simply because the content of a book did not conform to the narrative of the people mobbing the book. This is using censorship and harassment (bullying) to create a politically correct environment where creativity is essentially dead. Show me one writer/artist worth his salt who is politically correct! Only sell-outs conform to the mob.

(Berlin book burning, 1933)

The Nazis confiscated and burned any book that they deemed “un-German.” What does that even mean? No more French porn? No Italian cookbooks? No English poetry? Who decided what was “un-German?” And it wasn’t just books that were condemned. Music, architecture, inventions, paintings, sculptures, and even dress fashions had to conform to a certain German aesthetic. Who wants to live like that? Who wants the government deciding what you can eat, read, think, create?

The Bolsheviks did the same thing after the Russian Revolution of 1917. Anything reminiscent of the previous regime was confiscated, suppressed, burned, destroyed, and labeled “too bourgeois.” The great Russian composer, Rachmaninoff, emigrated to America because his music was condemned by the Communist authorities. The great Russian writer, Boris Pasternak, author of Doctor Zhivago, was censored and suppressed. If his novel had not been smuggled out of Russia, a great piece of literature would have been lost to the world. Doctor Zhivago describes this shameful period in world history.

Chairman Mao did the same thing in China. The Chinese Communist Party is STILL suppressing free speech and writers who speak out against oppression. The CCP STILL controls access to information and the content of that information. American companies like Twitter and Facebook help the CCP censor and control information in China. That’s how they are allowed to do business there.

In the United States, the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment GUARANTEE every American citizen the right of free speech and peaceable assembly to express that free speech. Free speech makes some people uncomfortable. It causes some people to feel threatened. It makes some people close their minds to new ideas. It opens the minds of others. It is divisive, combative, uniting, liberating, threatening, and compromising — all at the same time. Free speech is the basis of CREATIVITY. Free speech is the foundation of FREEDOM. Taking it one step further, FREEDOM is the bedrock on which FREE SPEECH and CREATIVITY stand. If we lose our freedom and submit to totalitarianism, we may as well start looking for another universe to inhabit, because the freedom to CREATE and EXPRESS OURSELVES will be as extinct as the dinosaurs.

(NOTE: violence is not an expression of free speech and is NOT protected by the U.S. Constitution. Devolving into burning, looting, shooting, destroying private and public property, tearing down statues, committing assault and battery, killing police, and threatening people, is just criminal behavior committed by people who have no respect for law and order. These people belong in jail. Furthermore, there is a big difference between exercising free speech and engaging in a two-way debate and just being rude, ill-mannered, and stupid. There was a time when our society valued good manners and intelligent debate.)

(NOTE: Some famous writers banned or partially banned in Nazi Germany: Aldous Huxley, Ernest Hemingway, Hermann Hesse, C.S. Lewis, Jack London, Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, George Orwell, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mark Twain, H.G. Wells, and Oscar Wilde.)

Thank you for stopping by!

Dawn Pisturino

January 7, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

21 Comments »

Happy Winter Solstice

(Stonehenge)

The word solstice comes from the Latin solstitium, which means “sun stands still.” “At the winter solstice, the apparent position of the Sun reaches its most southerly point against the background stars” (Royal Museum Greenwich). This year, the winter solstice occurs on Tuesday, December 21, 2021. That means today will be the shortest day of the year, with the longest and darkest night. Tomorrow, the days will gradually become longer, leading up to Spring and the Spring Equinox.

The Julian calendar designated December 25th as the winter solstice. When the Gregorian calendar was adopted, December 21st became the winter solstice and December 25th remained as the traditional date for Christmas.

The winter solstice is also known as the Feast of Juul (Yule). In Scandinavia, fires were lit, including the Yule log, in honor of the Norse God, Thor. In Germany, the Yule boar (sonargoltr) was sacrificed after a ceremony called heitstrenging was performed, in which celebrants made solemn vows on the boar’s bristles. Celebrating Yule included feasting, drinking, and singing. The Yule log tradition was adopted by the Celts in Europe and the British Isles. Burning the Yule log at the winter solstice brought good luck for the new year. Modern day Yule celebrations are still popular.

The Romans celebrated Saturnalia from December 17th to December 24th in honor of the “father of the gods,” Saturn. Celebrants made sacrifices in the Temple of Saturn, held banquets, exchanged gifts, and offered forgiveness to each other for past wrongs.

In Asia, the Dongzhi Festival celebrates longer days, increased positive energy, and the yin-yang of balance and harmony in the community.

Iranians honor the longest, darkest night of the year with feasting and reciting poetry. Eating pomegranates and watermelons is considered particularly auspicious. The festival is called Yalda (Shab-e Yalda or Shab-e Chelleh).

At Stonehenge, people visit to watch the sun’s rays shine through the stones, which are aligned with the path of the sun. The winter solstice was especially important to ancient people because it was an opportunity to pray for fertility and good harvests in the new year.

Happy Solstice! Happy Yule!

Dawn Pisturino

December 21, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

19 Comments »

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