Rabbi Peretz Mochkin on the life of the soul and how religion can block understanding

Rabbi Peretz Mochkin on the life of the soul and how religion can block understandingRabbi Peretz Mochkin takes on a riveting topic here in discussing what the soul is, where does it go after death and how long does it take to get to its final destination? Oh, and what is that final destination, anyway?

Yes, body and soul, two separate things, one the house for the other. He defines the soul so engagingly that you might wonder whatever seemed so complicated on first glance. Why does he feel that we are living in the best possible time? Having a hard time finding your soul mate? Even though he is a self-defined “religious guy,” why does he feel that discussion of the soul is best outside the realm of religion? How does the soul get out of the body? Is he a YOLO, one of the “you only live once so have a good time” proponents? Lots of questions and lots of answers. How is time our partner and how to use it for maximizing our potential? What did Steve Jobs teach us about this? What is Rabbi Mochkin’s mission in life? Ours? Who judges us on judgment day?
Rabbi Peretz Mochkin on the life of the soul and how religion can block understanding
So refreshing to hear the candid viewpoint of a religious leader who, by the way, says it is more important to him to be a good dad and a good husband than a great Rabbi. The love letter? He talks about his own grandparents in Sweden, how they got there, an unsolved murder and a letter about the lasting survival of the soul. He puts joy into every insight,and it all moves fast, so best to listen to it in his words and his voice.

Joshua Abramson working on I love you as the accepted social greeting

Joshua Abramson working on I love you as the accepted social greetingJoshua Abramson loves you, yes, you, and says so on first meeting. No matter who you are. It is his personal “hello,” and he hopes to make it everyone’s. He likes to think what the effect would be for the President of the United States to begin the State of the Union address with, “I love you” and what civilization would be be like when everyone says it with the automatic ease of a handshake. And, by the way, he does recognize that that clasping hands in greeting must have seemed downright creepy when it was first introduced into civilization somewhere around 500 years BC.

Multi talented, multi accomplished in the performing arts, a solid businessman, Joshua is, in his own philosophy, crazy freed up around sharing “I love you,” and recognizes the possibility that it may end the emotionally harmful separation between people. He talks about how this idea of starting every conversation with “I love you,” and going from there came to him after 25 years as a musician and actor in Los Angeles.

Yes, you!

Yes, you!

Odd as this concept may seem on first consideration, as Josh presents more thoughts on that very famous three-word phrase, the strangeness seems to wane. Maybe this habit will eventually gel into some critical mass to become an essential part social etiquette. “I love you” as one of humankind’s most loaded phrases, makes reaching Joshua’s goal a very tricky business. But, Joshua does it with such a charming nothing-creepy-about-it-at-all ease that it is hard not to root for his success.

MaryJo Mundy LA cabaret singer successful and polyamorous

MaryJo Mundy LA cabaret singer successful and polyamorousLos Angeles based cabaret singer MaryJo Mundy has been married to her high school sweetheart for 29 years. He is the love of her life. He is her rock. She knows that the love they have for each other will survive even the most challenging shifts,  the first of which came with the gastric bypass surgery that brought on what she refers to as her second puberty. Losing 160 pounds can be nothing short of life-changing, and so it was for MaryJo, who at a new weight and beauty noticed she was drawing the attention of men, and she felt the pull.
MaryJo Mundy LA cabaret singer successful and polyamorous
To hear her talk about her decision to enter into a poly-amorous life is to see into the heart of a loving committed marriage with an eye on what it can satisfy, what it cannot and what this particular couple did about it. She talks about how is it to live with her husband and lover under the same roof. You may be surprised at how friends responded to the two huge changes in her life, one being her weight loss and the other her relationship shift. What do they do about jealousy? What was her husband’s first response? How did her husband see her through her series of miscarriages?

MaryJo answers questions about her nonstandard lifestyle with such ease, joy, intelligence, candor and generosity that one might wonder, in the light of her ability to love, why there are questions at all. What should you do if you have questions for MaryJo? Listen and she will tell you.

Her love letter? She reads the one her husband Jim Bruce, comic, writer and poet, wrote to her some years ago as well as the one she wrote in response. MaryJo is a woman who seems to be, at every step she takes, aware of the gratitude she feels towards the people in her life so maybe there will be a very long list of people who will get love letters from her.

MaryJo with her two loves

MaryJo with her two loves

Josh Wingate actor whose compassionate side triumphs at every turn

Josh Wingate

Josh Wingate

Josh Wingate is an actor who has, step by step, evolved into the kind of man he wants to be, which is, ironically enough, just the kind of man he once thought he did not want to be. He originally came to lean on his tough guy self as a result of being picked on for being a Mama’s boy, being extremely sensitive, and his good Catholic Irish upbringing that said men don’t talk about things that are too real. As a martial arts master, he is happy to say that, having taken a courageous step in honesty, he has added martial arts of the psyche to his strength.

He knew at the age of 15 he could be an actor thanks to the drama coach at his High School who pushed him to break out of his safety-net zone. This is a complicated and powerfully told personally history of becoming more of a man and more of an actor with each passing stage and best heard in Josh’s own very compelling voice.

His most recent work, Her Story is a series written, directed and starring transgender women about the transgender dating world, and the project he credits with having made him a better man, more compassionate. Josh says he knows that the most important relationship you can have is with yourself, and to hear him talk about his own is a lesson in growth, gratitude that come with the intelligent pursuit of one’s best self. His best self, star material personally and creatively, is so worth knowing!               Josh Wingate actor whose compassionate side triumphs at every turn

His love letter? So many. He talks about one to his boyhood self, and hooray for that! One to his high school drama coach, yes. With the people in Josh’s life who have had a variety of impact and for his own feel for the importance of truth, he could be writing many. Let’s hope he does.

Daamen Krall a voice that makes a scene authentic

Daamen Krall a voice that makes a scene authenticOn first sight, it is clear that actor Daamen Krall is having a very good time at life. He has a spark that precedes him into the room, and without even trying he shares his joy. From a family of Dutch immigrants, he was born in Los Angeles, lived his boyhood in South Central LA, moved with his family to Ventura and from there is was, after high school, off to study acting at Ventura College, that he says was, in the late 60s “fantastic, with two Phds, a costume designer from Vogue and a set designer who was a well-known watercolorist. Next UC Irving when it was new and the trees were saplings and then off to South Dakota for a season of summer stock that lasted 20 years.

He was, by progressive turns, student, actor, costume designer, director, associate professor. But the pull of family brought him back to LA where he found a most unusual and fascinating niche. Voice. If you wonder whose voice it is you are listening to when you hear a period piece politician going on about taxation, representation and tea, wonder no more. Daamen is the voice of the filibuster. Daamen, particularly well known for train station announcements, talks about the details of his craft and areas of movie making you may not have known. Hint, the background actors in those party scenes are just moving their mouths. The process is a specific and well-orchestrated business to bring authenticity to details of a movie. Daamen Krall a voice that makes a scene authentic

He talks about his own life, the importance of radio drama, taking his mother in to live out her last years with him, the short film he made based on a true story about two married-to-women men who meet on the internet and fall in love, his work in dramatic radio and his upcoming web-series, a very ambitious project now in post production.

His love letter? To the script-writers who brought him into his radio work at just the right moment in his life, and the role that Facebook played. Listen to him talk about it all in his own voice, the voice you may well know know from his stage work as an actor in any number of movies.

Joshua Tate young filmmaker with purpose motivation and power

Joshua Tate photo by Dima  Otvertchenko

Joshua Tate photo by Dima Otvertchenko

Joshua Tate one of today’s young independent filmmakers says that in middle school he made silly videos with puppets for his English class. By the time he got to college he was challenged by what he saw the people around doing, and he turned to work involving human rights advocacy. By the time he left school with a degree in film from the University of Southern California, Josh was ready to get to some serious work.

His own family brought to his attention a need worth confronting. His uncle’s daughter with  a disability  had supportive parents who tried to give her as much independence and community interaction as possible. He was also aware that there were people in Texas less fortunate in their family circumstances who were living Forgotten Lives in institutions, hence his first award winning documentary film by that name. His fictional film is an adventure that addresses the issue of being institutionalized.    Joshua Tate young filmmaker with purpose motivation and power

Josh has managed to align his intelligence, sweetness, humor and purpose to focus on issues not just important to him, which they are, but to issues important to all of humankind. To hear him talk about his work, his goals, his views and some of the particulars of filmmaking is to learn something personal and historical and have a good time doing it.

His love letter? As he chatted about the very remarkable woman ahead of her time who was his grandmother, as well as the talent and strength of the other women in his family, a love letter of historical and personal power emerged.

Gail Ford Williamson working for more diversity in film with hopes of making her job obsolete

Gail with her son Blair

Gail with her son Blair

Gail Ford Williamson’s career took off thanks to the blessing of mother-love for her son Blair who more or less backed into a commercial for Proctor and Gamble 25 years ago when he was 11 years old. He was a Special Olympics runner, a talented charmer who had such a good time at it, and so captivated the crew that Gail realized acting was a good career choice for Blair. Gail’s attempts to find an agent to represent him were frustrated at every turn until she found the Media Access Office whose mission it is to find roles for actors with disabilities.

What started out as volunteering for this office turned into her own career as a talent agent who works tirelessly for more diversity in film. Her goal, besides finding roles for her actors is to her own position eliminated as casting directors stop being bound by typecasting. She wants to see actors hired solely on the basis of aptitude.

As much as she would like to gather everyone around, her two boys, six girls as well as grandchildren  and hold them tight, she feels it is the job of a human being is to prepare others to go on and go further. She was concerned that the 6 girls who came after her sons Tim and Blair might take away from what she was able to give Blair, but no, quite the opposite. She credits the girls with setting the bar higher for Blair and teaching him valuable lessons in understanding women. Listen to Gail, really the epitome of intelligent generosity, talk about her family, her work and what she would do differently if she could do it all over again, and you will see that her attitude and joy in her accomplishments is a lesson in life lived beautifully.

Gail with Lula Mae - photo by Michael Hansel

Gail with Lula Mae – photo by Michael Hansel

Her love letter? She would start with one to her son Tim who always lived close by but recently moved far away to take a job. Preparing people to leave as she does, it was still difficult to lose him, his wife and their 2 children to another part of the country. So many possibilities for love letters really that have the power to hold  not just a great deal of love but a great deal of history. What a wonderful legacy to leave her children and grandchildren.

LA Talk Radio’s Sheena Metal is great on either end of the mic

Sheena Metal

Sheena Metal

Sheena Metal of The Sheena Metal Experience covers a lot of ground when she is the host of her LA talk radio show by, yes, that very name. Turns out she covers a lot of ground here, too, as a guest on Love Letters Live. You probably know her from her years as a well-established radio personality, actor, writer, musician, director and comedienne, but do you know her details? How she became Sheena Metal is a whole story on its own. So is her girlhood with her mother who encouraged her to go into show business instead of medicine.

And, then there is the reality of how she fell in love with musical theater and that was the start of the Sheena we know and love. Life brings changes, and for Sheena one of them was the near death experience she suffered after a car accident on the 405 when she was not yet 24 years old. Listen to her talk about her life, her accomplishments (Vagina Monologues, Hollywood Improv, her band and work at Ensemble Studio Theater Los Angeles for starters), dating, her endless gratitude at her own good luck, the beauty of friendship with a former sweetheart, and why her social life is her work life.

Sheena at Hollywood Improv

Sheena at Hollywood Improv

Her love letters? She is too busy for them, she says in one breath, and in the next she is talking about the 125 love texts she sent to people one day when she was feeling sad and how it healed her. We know she has more of the to write and you will, too, when you hear her talk about how everything she does is from a place of love and about the people she loves with all her heart.

Robert Strong magician is bringing a séance to San Francisco on Halloween night

Robert Strong at work

Robert Strong at work

Robert Strong, a magician of 30 years experience and ever at ease with doing what seems to be impossible, is doing something unusual even by San Francisco and his own standards. A séance. Yes, really. Skeptic though he is, he is willing to give Harry Houdini, who has been trying for 88 years, another chance to reach us. Robert is from a family of what you would have call magic royalty as he found out when at the age of 12 he went on a road trip with his family and did a magic trick for family members. He found out that his great grand uncle Sidney Radner was a great magician who inherited or bought all of Houdini’s magic memorabilia notebooks, photos, drawings, every scrap of paper he could find.

Robert has teamed up with some Bay Area Science organizations to bring séance with a twist, an event that combines science conversations, panel discussion and culminates with a magical séance with a magician celebrity who will, as Robert says, “knock it out of the park.”

Is Robert summoning spirits here?

Is Robert summoning spirits here?

Do you think we can reach the dead, or are you waiting for evidence you can believe? Might as well give it a try. You can get tickets here. So, On Halloween of this year, October 31, 2015, The Official Houdini Séance will take place at San Francisco’s Brava Theater as part of the Bay Area Science Festival. Magician Robert Strong will lead WonderfestBay Area Skeptics, and the Pan-Pacific International Exposition in presenting a day of science, history, escapes, and magic.

Love letters, of course. Those you write are part of your history laid down in your own handwriting, dated and signed, so here is hoping that Robert will write a couple to his departed family’s magicians to add to the known history. He talks about this, too.

Listen to Robert talk about this séance, about Harry Houdini and his own Strong pedigree of great magicians. No wonder he is called the Comedy Magician; he is so much fun.  Robert Strong The Comedy Magician Photo

Dana Fredsti talented horror story author who likes being scared

Dana Fredsti, author and former Hollywood combat stuntwoman

Dana Fredsti, horror story author and former Hollywood combat stuntwoman

Dana Fredsti, author of the Ashley Parker series and other modern horror stories, is a spellbinding combination of talents, charm, good cheer, quirky attitudes, a courageous sense of good against evil and love of animals.

It was years ago at a Renaissance Faire that she stood in line waiting for a turkey leg and piped up an “I’ll do it,” in response to a cute guy in a white shirt with big flowing sleeves standing next to her lamenting that his combat partner had bailed. This performance and further study with this man who was, as luck would have it, a theatrical combat instructor and choreographer led to a significant career as a Hollywood stuntwoman.

Dana, who has been writing ever since she could string words together, says she likes being scared. As a child she was drawn to books on vampires and werewolves. She always liked horror movies and, although it does not happen often, she still likes a movie that can scare her. Dana talks about favorite movies, the difference between zombies and vampires (one is sexy, the other is just a re-animated corpse with a craving for human flesh) and her own childhood experience with shapeshifters she suspected lived in her house. She shares her fascination of being eaten alive by some animals while she is quite at home and comfortable with other predatory carnivores. With Dana it is easy to understand the fascination and fun of fear.

Dana Fredsti the romantic- photo by Julie Lynn

Dana Fredsti the romantic- photo by Julie Lynn

Love letters? Lots of them. Having been born before computers and internet, pen-pals were a big part of her life. She still has letters from her ex, few but treasured. She has letters from her husband (the writer David Fitzgerald) who is a very romantic fellow. Unbridled romance holds as much sway with Dana as unbridled horror.