Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Madama Butterfly

Puccini makes his heroines suffer.   I’ve said it many times.  Madama Butterfly has got to be the worst.  Beautiful music, heart - wrenching story.   If anyone who’s ever felt betrayed in love, listens to “Un bel di” without feeling something profound, the soprano isn’t doing her job.

In such a wrenchingly emotional opera, I wondered if and how there might be some humor to lighten the emotional load.

Peter Kazaras, Director of many Seattle Opera productions, is always spot-on with his humor.  It was no different with the recent performance of Madama Butterfly, the tragic story of love, betrayal and death.

To add some really funny stuff would be inappropriately unsympathetic.  For our tragic heroine Cio-Cio San deserves and commands all our respect and empathy.

Yet Kazaras found a way to add just two bits of humor.  Once when Suzuki placed a pillow on the floor for the visiting Sharpless.  When he instead choose the table as his seat, she discreetly added the pillow to her own in the back of the room.  Just a sly bit more comfort for this loyal and dedicated servant.  And in one other small instance we got another small chuckle.  And that was it.

It was perfect.  Just the right amount of humor.  Which wasn’t very much.  Any more would have been disrespectful to our heroine and her story.  Very tastefully done.  Bravo.

Photo:  Seattle Opera

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Grand Slam

Alessandro Liddi hit a grand slam!

It was a beautiful thing.  Bases loaded, the Rangers purposefully walked Ackley, much to their dismay, setting Liddi up for his heroics.  Not that I really know baseball but I heard about it from someone who does.

I really like Alex Liddi for the simple facts that he’s Italian, has a nose like mine and a sweet smile.

Later while the reporter was interviewing him, John Jaso creeps up from behind with a shaving cream pie right in the face of our hero.  These guys can have fun after all, once they start winning, once something good happens.

So there’s our Italian Stallion, hero of the moment, with shaving cream all over his face.  I like it!  For the silliness of it.  For the fun and laughter.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dr. Seuss

“I like nonsense.  It wakes up the brain.”

Dr. Seuss

Photo:  Theodor Seuss Geisel/Wikimedia

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Remembering Linda

I often don’t know the reasons people come to the Laughter Club.  Sometimes I hear the stories, sometimes not.  So many people come and go.

Mostly I imagine people come just to lighten up, to bring more laughter into their lives, for all the reasons laughter is beneficial.  Sometimes it’s for a specific reason, sometimes for a major challenge.  Sometimes it’s even because someone is dying, or trying not to die.  This was the case with Linda.

The first time she attended, she told me she had just had brain surgery and was it okay to participate.  I told her I just didn’t know, please go slow and gauge for herself. 

Linda did participate for several months when she could and quickly became one of my favorite regulars.  She was such a great person – fun, interesting, engaging and all-around-special.  If she hadn’t told me her story, I never would have guessed.

And then I didn’t see her anymore.  But so many come and go, I can’t keep track.  Sometimes they’ll be gone for months or even years and then they pop up again.

But I have wondered about Linda for some time now and recently did a search on her name + obituary and sadly found her.  I stopped everything, cried for a piece of time and said goodbye.

But Linda will always be a part of our Laughter Club for she is immortalized in that great article and photo the Seattle P.I. did on us a few years ago. 

Photo:  Linda in the center with the kelley green top

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Boss Laughs

After dropping her children off at day care, she went to work, walked into a conference room meeting, took one look at her boss in a brightly patterned shirt and spontaneously spouted “Is it pajama day today?”

I asked her if everyone laughed.  She said NO ONE laughed.  Complete silence.  Until her boss retorted “Well I should have worn my bottoms too.”  At which point EVERYONE laughed.

One of my students told us this story as I was lecturing about laughter in the work place.

Statistics show who it is that controls laughter at the office.  And it’s almost always the boss.  The controlled laughter anyway, the laughter that happens between superiors and subordinates.   It’s clearly symbolic of the power hierarchy.

Statistics show that it’s the employee who laughs at the boss’s joke, but it’s virtually never the opposite – the boss laughing at the employee’s joke.  As the above example shows.  Of course in that case, it was even more telling, because the joke was on the boss.  No one laughed until he poked fun at himself, giving everyone permission to do the same.  You could call it polite, or you could call it control.  Pretty tight control I’d say.

In Laughter Yoga no one holds the power except of course the laughter leader.  But power isn’t our game.  Bonding, joy, health, and especially at work, stress release and waking up the brain, is what we’re after.  Participants are all equals in a laughter yoga session.  All equals sharing the joy of some good hearty laughter.

Photo:  Stock.xchnge

Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy Birthday Blog!

My friend Jan often asks me how it is that I never run out of things to write about on my blog.

The answer reminds me of something I retained from the philosophical classic Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:  the more you narrow your focus, the deeper you delve into something, the larger it becomes, the more you find.

There’s an endlessness to diving deep.  A true infinity.  Like how you can never really know a person completely no matter how long you’ve lived together.  There’s always more.  Or that the microcosm contains the macrocosm.  Or like in Oriental Medicine the entire body is found in just the ear.

For whatever reason I never tire of chewing on my subject:  laughter.

I began this blog 4 years ago, in May 2008, to share my thoughts and experiences on the healing power of laughter.  To avoid information overload, initially I continuously deleted the older posts, a practice I’ve discontinued.  Therefore the first year is absent.  But all else is here.

Thanks for reading and Happy Birthday Blog!

Photo:  Stock.xchnge

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Maurice Sendak

“I didn’t want them to be traditional monsters, like griffins and gorillas and such. I wanted them to be very, very personal. It had to come out of my own particular life. And I remember it took a very long time until that gestation occurred and when they began to appear on drawing paper, and they began to be what I liked. And it was only when I had them all that I realized they were all my Jewish relatives.”

Monday, May 7, 2012


“Smile – it confuses an approaching frown.”

Photo:  Stock.xchnge

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Laughter Symphony

It’s Spring finally!  The most beautiful time of year.

In my laughter programs I have been leading participants in the flower laugh. 

It’s an adaption of a qi gong exercise where you inhale and pull the energy from the earth up your spine, then exhale and open, expanding your arms out.  The image is of a flower blooming.  We start with a little laugh, working our way up our stem and blooming into a great big laugh.  Beautiful! 

I encourage everyone to bloom at different times and at different rates of growth so the sound of it is like a laughter symphony.  Gorgeous and hysterical.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said “The earth laughs in flowers.”

Everyone is like a flower when they laugh – truly beautiful!

Photo:  Stock.xchnge

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Erma Bombeck

“Laughter rises out of tragedy when you need it most and rewards you for your courage.”

Erma Bombeck

Photo:  Wikimedia