Random feedback to Nanzan University students

November 9, 1998 copy/pasted without explanation, other than I saved this and many other documents.

Student name: Norie
This has happened to me so many times. I dream that I am trying to wake up, but I can’t do it. So I try harder. Finally, I succeed in my dream, and then I really wake up, too! It’s quite amazing.

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I have tried green tea ice cream and I don’t like it. The combination doesn’t suit me. I guess this is just a typical matter of not growing up with the taste and not able to fully appreciate it.

I wonder if this is the age. When I was a university student, I saw a lot of concerts. I was lucky enough to live in Los Angeles, so all the very biggest bands came to town to play, and I had a large choice of concerts. However, in every case, I always felt the same way as you felt at your concert. It’s an interesting phenomenon.

If you are interested in understanding your dreams, I suggest you read a little bit of Carl Jung, the psychologist, and, I suppose, Sigmund Freud, too. Jung said that our subconscious was trying to communicate with us through dreams. He wrote a lot of interesting books on the subject, and I’ve peeked at one or two of them.

Norie, Nice job here. Please keep up your pace. You are moving along very nicely at this rate.
Your grade for this check: A

Student name: Maho
Sukiyaki – It’s so interesting that you should study the history of this strange song. I grew up with it, and later became embarrassed to know the title expresses the complete ignorance of Japan by the American people. It is still the only Japanese pop song that has ever been popular in the U.S. Seiko Matsuda is well known in the U.S. for her failures to break into the market there. It certainly is a strange musical relationship between our two countries.
I think that men, in general, never really grow up past a child’s age (myself included…YES). We are stuck as mental children. Women, on the other hand, are more rational and have the emotional strength that you say you lack. I would bet that you DO have that strength, but that you are being modest.

It sounds like drinking this drink will simply spoil your appetite, in which case, it is most likely a very effective drink. Just reading about it made me lose my appetite. HA HA!
It is interesting that most things in life need some kind of license or certificate, like driving, or getting a job with a good company. But parenting: well, no one needs anything special to have a kid, and I’ve seen too many bad parents out there. I think, though, that since you express concern here, that you’ll grow into being a very good mom, so I would say, don’t worry about it so much.

Maho, You’ve done a nice job of writing to a variety of topics. I hope to see you go more in depth with some of the topics you have written about. It would not hurt to pursue one line of thought over several days writing. I would also suggest you re-read some of your work after a few days, and then do some re-writing, again, going more in-depth. Good luck.
Your grade for this check: A

Student name: Yoko
Drinking? Smoking? Well, it’s not a surprise. I think people are doing things at a younger and younger age. My question for you is, what will you do when your son/daughter starts drinking/smoking at, say, age 15 or so? How will you react to that??

I admit that I do not vote in American elections. I voted only once, back in 1980, when I had just turned 19. Now, I’m just very cynical about politics. I don’t see any good coming from any of it. Japan’s corruption is no worse that many many other countries.

Thank you for being honest here. I hope that you’ll keep your habit, though…that is…the habit of writing often. It is definitely a tough habit to keep, but I think it’s very worth your time and energy, as you’ll have a wonderful record of your student life and times that you can look back at.

Perhaps this is where you feel you are now. Yeah…hesitant to be an adult, not wanting to give up on youth…

I am jealous of you. My mother has expressed great regret that she did not give ALL her children piano lessons. Our daughter will get lessons, and we hope that she won’t quit at an early age. I understand your wanting to quit, though. Just like any habit, it is hard to maintain for a long time.

Yoko, Great job here. You’ve written a lot, and you certainly covered a wide variety of topics to some depth. I hope that you’ll work over the span of a few weeks going in depth with some of these topics, perhaps even using some of the material for one of your essays? It’s up to you.
Your grade for this check: A

Student name: Masako
My commute to Nanzan is very flexible. These days, I’m trying to bicycle as often as possible. If I can’t bicycle, like when it rains, then I do the subway to Motoyama and bus up past Nagoya University. Did you know that in the B3 of the building with my office there is a very large parking lot? It can hold at least 50 cars, but it is always empty. WHY? I have no idea.

Isn’t it sad to see the great crafts of Japan dying out to modern times? They become more expensive to make, and so sell fewer, and so the craftspeople don’t pass down their knowledge. This is happening all over the world, I’m afraid, but there is really nothing we can do about this.

If you visit me in my office, I’ll tell you some stories of when I lived in Kenya. I would spend HOURS looking at the heavens. It was one of the most incredible experiences I can ever remember. There are very few places on Earth left where you can do this without light pollution. This is one thing I really dislike about living in Nagoya. The light pollution here is the worst of anywhere I know and I’m sad for my daughter, who cannot imagine what the beautiful night looks like.

Actually, I think the most ideal form of exchange is where you can speak Japanese, and I can understand you and respond in English and you can understand and respond in Japanese and so forth.

Masako, You’ve done a good job here. I have a sense you are getting LESS prolific as you write. I hope to see the trend go the other way, where you become MORE prolific.
Your grade for this check: A

Student name: Masao
Welcome to the American dream, Masao. These ‘infomercials’ as they are called, are made for those popcorn eating, coke drinking, low-self esteem folks who stay up very late at night with nothing better to do than watch the things. They sell a lot of junk in the U.S. like this these days. It’s a bit sad, really, isn’t it?

I find this hard to believe. When you respect someone, it gives you a purpose in life. You want to emulate, to some extent, that person you respect. I don’t know, maybe I am too much of a dreamer with this belief, but I believe it nonetheless.

I had a talk with my sister recently. She turned 40 not too long ago, has been married about 15 years, and has two kids and a pretty good job as a legal secretary in San Francisco. “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up,” she said to me. Go figure.
Ha ha! Such great wisdom! But you know what? This isn’t true only for kids. It’s true for adults, too. It just never stops. Well, anyway, this is another thing that keeps us going and gives us purpose in our lives.

Masao, I’m a bit surprised. I guess I expect you to be a prolific and thoughtful writer, but I feel as if you are not making the efforts to at least try. You are merely going through the motions. I wonder if you might try to pursue a single topic for two or three weeks, letting your thoughts simmer for awhile before continuing on. I have this hunch that deep down, you can do it.
Your grade for this check: B

Student name: Shoko
So, which order were you hoping to have the children, or is that not important. I wonder why you think about this at such an early age. Do you talk to your friends about these topics, too? Is everyone worried about the type of parents they will become?

Oh, I don’t know if you told me this before…that you were from Hakodate. My wife is also from there. We visited there in July/August. What a great town, I really liked it and would like a chance to live there. Well, I doubt I’ll be able to anyway. Actually, I hate winter and I understand it has already snowed there. My wife wants to know which Primary, Junior High and High Schools you went to. Please email me if you get the time.
I worked for my grandfather’s construction company. It was similar to your factory job. Hard work, long hours, kind of boring at times, but I was very happy to get money at the end. I guess it built up my character too.

I’m always surprised that Japanese university students don’t share apartment rooms, like we do in the U.S. It’s so common there and so very rare here. In fact, I don’t know anyone here who does that. Why not? Can you explain this to me?

Shoko, Thanks for taking the time to keep your journal entries. You’ve covered a lot of ground here and I look forward to future installments.
Your grade for this check: A

Student name: Daisuke
Well, you aren’t wasting time. If you think that, then EVERYTHING is a waste of time. I don’t think this is a healthy attitude. Why? Because I felt the same way at one point in life. Then I realized that it was ME who was wasting the time, not the things other people did, including teachers and their assignments. It took me awhile, but I understood that I had plenty of opportunities in life, and that I had control of where I was going. This was an important understanding that really turned around my life. I hope you get this understanding too, someday soon!

It sounds like the swimmer was at the wrong place at the wrong time. The old woman perhaps had been struggling out on the water for a few days when he passed by, and then held onto him for life, with dire consequences for both. Hmmmm.

Daisuke, I think I’ve mentioned that you can go into depth with some things. I hope to see more of this next time.
Your grade for this check: B

Student name: Takuya
Luck! HA HA! I think you are right. No matter how much you know, there is still so much that you don’t know, so that betting on horses is never a sure thing. I went to the track in Hakodate this summer, and I was lucky enough to win about 10,000 yen. I was happy that I didn’t lose anything more than that I won something.
Gambling. I love it, but I try to avoid doing it whenever I can. I even went to Las Vegas once, but with a good friend who got me away from the city very quickly. I started putting money in the slot machines. Ooh!

UGH! This class is the most difficult for me. I’m always behind on reading marking. There are too many students and I can’t do as good a job as I would like. In addition to all my other classes. I never worked this hard as a student. NEVER.

Better to buy a lot of happy. Happy, however, comes in different forms for different people, but I think it’s actually very tough to buy.

Takuya, if you’d like me to teach you how to bet at poker, ask. I learned from a professional when I was 14 years old. Now THAT was real gambling. Anyway, it’s a pleasure to read about your gambling (and other) experiences and I look forward to more next time.
Your grade for this check: A

Student name: Michiko
40 days? It will go by very fast. You’ll miss Japanese food first, and you’ll miss your family, but you will adjust and have a great time. 40 days is very short. It will seem like a week when it’s over. It will also be an unforgettable experience.

Well, think about what you like to do. Think about what you spend most of your time doing and pursue that as a profession.

Michiko, you have got to try to discipline yourself more to write more. There is so little here I can comment on.
Your grade for this check: C

Student name: Kyoko
I have mixed feelings about this. The fact is: most cultures are dying out as we move toward one mass culture. At the same time, no culture can be completely dead if even one of it’s people is alive. Well, anyway, it is sad that this is happening. I’ve seen a lot of it in the world. At the same time, dead cultures and languages can and have been revived, so there is hope yet.

When will we grow out of prejudices like these you report? I don’t know if it is possible. But then again, today I read in the newspaper about the South African truth commission. Here is a country that is healing the wounds of a terrible war and a terrible century of division and hatred. The article also gave me hope that we can grow out of prejudices, but that it’s not an easy road.

Men must be beasts? Of course we are. Does this surprise you? HA HA!

Don’t EVER lose your friends. For me, they are more important than family. They give me perspective on my life; they give me support through hard times; they give me encouragement and love…I have a lot of very special friends that I am so thankful for.
Sure. All the time. I don’t think there is any other job quite like teaching. I just wish it paid more. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. (Typical American Joke).

Well, it’s a nice sentiment anyway, but unfortunately, there is still a lot of inequality in the world. What will you, as a Japanese woman, do to fight your lower status in this society? Or do you believe that you don’t have lower status?

Kyoko, What can I say? You are a consistent writer, you are thoughtful and your ideas are well-developed. I look forward to more of the same.
Your grade for this check: A+

Student name: Kaori
I’m glad to see that you have learned about Billie Holiday. Her life was tragic. I really love her music and her voice. In fact, these days, I don’t listen to Rock as much as Jazz. My musical tastes have changed and the music has become more important than the words.
I am familiar with her, though I admit that I have not read her work. I have studied the French poets of the late 19th century, called the Symbolists, but Sagan came well after them.

It sounds like in either case, you have an open relationship with your mother and that is important. You are lucky that you can discuss such issues in a rational way, and also that you try to see each others’ point of view. Might I suggest that you also try to see additional points of view, for example, a boyfriend’s view of the situation. Friends of your boyfriend, friends of yours, friends of your mother. Considering many different points of view is definitely advantageous.

It’s difficult to give advice for this. LL is made to be very difficult, and it’s a very high pressure test. It helps if you can learn to eliminate some of the test answers, reading ahead in the test if you can, and not second guessing your hunches.

My last grandparent died when I was in Kenya, so I didn’t see her. The last time I saw her, her mind was going. I kind of regret not being able to say the sentiment you express here. Yes, we are lucky to have grandparents that love us and spoil us. I look forward to being a spoiling grandparent myself!

Yes, teaching is something that exhausts me, but I can’t imagine doing anything else. I think it’s a great profession, that is very difficult to do well. I still have so much to learn about how to do better. Any suggestions for me?

Kaori, You’ve done a great job here and I’m very happy with your work to date. Keep up the good work!
Your grade for this check: A+

Student name: Saeko
I had the experience of having to slaughter a chicken to eat. I had to cross its legs and wings, and take a knife to kill it, by cutting off its head. I can’t forget the experience. I felt sick and of course, couldn’t eat the chicken. I think if we all had to do this, there would be far more vegetarians on the earth. Of course, I still eat meat and chicken now. Hmmm. I agree however, with you, that experiences like these, though unpleasant, are necessary for us to appreciate life.

Prejudice. This is a very hard topic to tackle. It exists everywhere at all times. I feel it a lot in Japan, but I mostly ignore it if I can, and try to understand what causes the behavior. I’m even teaching a course here about it.

It’s interesting because the type of drama which you describe is very common in the world. Families torn apart by war, spending their lives living in different worlds and even some speaking different languages. What a tradegy. I can’t give you advice here. I wouldn’t know what I would do in the same situation.

I’ll have to disagree with your attitude. Of course you can’t do anything by yourself, so that is why you have to join together with others in order to promote change in your OWN society first. So, in Japan, what societies can you join that will actively address this problem and offer solutions?

Well, now, here is a difficult topic, too. I have read stories of sacrifice and selfishness. I’ve read very wonderful things and very terrible things. It’s all case-by-case.

So, I guess you might argue with those who call Japan a ‘safe’ country, as you’ve had an experience to prove otherwise. Anyway, it certainly is very frightening to have an experience like this. I’m sorry to read about your terrible experience.

Here is another myth about Japan: that all Japanese are the same. I’ve discovered an incredible variety of food, language (dialect), accent, manners and behavior in my travels around Japan. Cultural differences are very clear even inside Japan. YES!

Perhaps you’d like to become a hardened woman? I recently found a very interesting website. It’s made for American women who have no guilt about how strong they want to be. Even the title of the website ‘Heartless Bitches’ is a strong name. Take a look at http://www.heartless-bitches.com. I laughed at a lot of their stories, especially about men who bother them so much.

Saeko, You are a very serious writer, and you write a lot. More than most others. I’m happy about this of course, as I believe those who write a lot will more than likely be better writers. SO…
Your grade for this check: A+

Time Capsule: April 25, 2016

Oh, I found this is my ‘blog drafts’. Never published it, so here it is.

——–

Don’t know if an extended reflection posted on Facebook means anything, but it’s my #1 broadcast network where I can shove my opinions in people’s faces. At any rate, outside of posting on my blog, which sees an entry once in a purple moon, FB is the medium of choice.

OK, the niceties are out of the way. Seems to be a good time to put Prince’s death in perspective. since I’ve personally reached the acceptance stage of grief.

My generation grew up in the shadow of the 60s, a time in the US of great social upheaval, uncertainty, and horrible political assassinations from the Kennedys to King and Malcolm X. I ended up in the early 80s at UCLA, Los Angeles, which at the time was arguably the most important culturally alive place in the country, and at the dawn of the Reagan Era (that’s as political this posting will get – PROMISE!). I’m especially talking about the Punk Rock / New Wave / Ska scene, my circle of friends, and the stuff we did for fun. I feel ridiculously lucky to have been there at that time. I found and lost love. I found a solid set of friends. I found some cultural and artistic anchors in music connected in many ways to Punk.

At this moment, I actually have the longest head of hair (excepting the little bald spot on top, and the grey of course) I’ve ever had, but the second longest head of hair ended up in Jonathan Hodges’ 1970s Cadillac, the two of us driving down Santa Monica boulevard in that hideously large vomit green boat, with an 8 track of Prince’s first album blasting loudly “I wanna be your lover”. We were more than likely headed to downtown for some night drinks or eclectic food. Downtown LA was starting to develop an alternative night life scene, so naturally we were drawn to it. A lot of you remember the days at 850 Milwood (The apex of “The Toxins” era), or more especially 417 Pacific (and the days of the immortal “Sports/Leisure Den” where we all watched the Bears crush the Patriots in SuperBowl XX). That, and a host of other events in that house shaped many our lives, and again cemented some lifelong friendships. The music that drove us was led by Prince, Bowie, Roxy Music, Talking Heads, X, Dead Kennedys, the Minutemen (still in the denial stage for d boon btw)…and a ton of other bands (of course I’m listing my favs…sorry folks). In short, we came of age. We passed into this nuthouse called adulthood with great expectations, anticipation, and the thrill of independence and setting our paths. The art we took with us was seeded deep into our collective souls. What connected this art was knowing that our awkwardness was actually perfectly normal…that we weren’t really different or apart from the herd we thought we wanted to be in. I don’t know if this is too cliche or not, but these musicians were reassuring in that the points-of-view we were developing about the world…well, they saw it too. So, our musicians had affirmed what we were seeing, and could articulate it in ways unexpected and heretofore unimaginable. Damn it was exciting to experience. We could actually be OURSELVES!

So, on we trotted with life, assured that we were never going to die, and we’d take all this wisdom with us into forever. I read somewhere in the past week that the reason so many famous people are dying this year is because there are simply many more famous people in the world now, especially with how much more we are connected. So there’s that. But Bowie and Prince? Within four months of each other? While I can’t empathise with people who lose family members very close to each other (though my dad and his only brother died within three months of each other), the shock we’ve been through (or should I speak for myself) is just another reminder of fixing our values away from the material, and more toward our ridiculously humble relationship with each other, those who we know and love, and the universe itself, and this teeny tiny blue ball that 7 billion of us and counting call our home. I guess the best metaphor is that two walls protecting us from our own mortality have been breached this year, and we realize that, well, ok, we ARE mortal after all, so there’s that. It’s a thing. That thing is here and now, and is happening not just to the artists we love, but our parents, sometimes our siblings, sometimes our old school mates. We hate the fuck out of cancer, rightfully so.

But with each passing – celebrity or closer, life becomes surprisingly sweeter and more precious. We’ve hit the age where we understand it’s about doing what we love despite the circumstances, and realizing the power of the positive. Being thankful, being grateful, dancing when there’s no music, and looking at the world each day with intense awe, because, you know, it’s fucking awesome! “Because the world is round, it turns me on.” is still a good 1960s sentiment that has transcended generations. Facebook is addictive because, for our generation at least, it’s a huge daily reunion and celebration of who we are, and where we’ve decided to be on this roundly round Earth. We develop an even deeper appreciation of the art that informed us, and formed us, and we come to cherish all the moments we pass through.

It’s been a year of grief so far, music-wise, but also a year for us to recall what got us through those tough young high school and college times and made us who we are today. So, screw grief. Bowie and Prince and George Martin and Maurice White…and and and and…haven’t stopped us from being who we are. They’ll continue to assure us that we are damn near perfect who we are right now right up until it’s our turn to move on and rejoin the universe.

“And you may ask yourself
Am I right?...Am I wrong?
And you may tell yourself
MY GOD!...WHAT HAVE I DONE?” 
- David Byrne (note: David’s not dead yet)
“U’re so good
Baby there ain't nobody better (Ain't nobody better)
So u should
Never, ever go by the letter (Never ever)
U're so cool (Cool)
Everything u do is success
Make the rules (Rules)
Then break them all cuz u are the best” 
- Prince (Rest in Peace / Purple / Power / Partylikeits1999)

Two quotes from my 1996 website along with a good old irritating animated gif!

“Once we have surrendered our senses and nervous systems to the private manipulation of those who would try to benefit from taking a lease on our eyes and ears and nerves, we don’t really have any rights left. Leasing our eyes and ears and nerves to commercial interests is like handing over the common speech to a private corporation, or like giving the earth’s atmosphere to a company as a monopoly.”
–Marshal McLuhan, Understanding Media (1965)

“The English language has been the linear tongue of colonial discoveries, racial cruelties, invented names, simulated tribal cultures, and the unheard literature of dominance in tribal cultures; at the same time, this mother tongue of paracolonialism has been a language of liberation for many tribal people.” — Gerald Vizenor

A flashing gif that says Caution: Independent thought
Look! It flashes!

My cloud

Released 25 September 1965 and becoming a number one hit, Get Off of My Cloud was a smash hit for the Rolling Stones.

I was somewhere in Skokie Illinois, at some beauty parlor on the south side of Dempster, just a couple blocks west of McCormick Blvd, in some mini / micro mall of some kind. It was definitely a beauty parlor, because I was with my mom, who was probably getting her hair dyed red.

I remember seeing this 45 rpm record disc with this blue cascading label design going round and round some measly turntable set up somewhere in that shop. My mom was 34ish, and I was about to turn 4ish. I guess I remember the music, too. I guess.

I remember this image so well, mainly because, whatever day it was, and it seemed like a cool brisk late fall day, it was the very first day of my life where I became self-aware. It’s my first memory of anything. Watching this spinning label go around and around a turntable, it was somewhat hypnotic—that and the pulsing drums that are so prevalent throughout the song. Those pulsing, pulsing drums. The vortex created by the label as it spun. And of course, Mick’s vocals.

I live on an apartment on the ninety-ninth floor of my block
And I sit at home looking out the window
Imagining the world has stopped
Then in flies a guy who’s all dressed up just like a Union Jack
And says, “I’ve won five pounds if I have his kind of detergent pack”

I said, “Hey, you, get off of my cloud
Hey, you, get off of my cloud
Hey, you, get off of my cloud
Don’t hang around ’cause two’s a crowd
On my cloud, baby”

The telephone is ringing
I say, “Hi, it’s me, who is it there on the line?”
A voice says, “Hi, hello, how are you?”
“Well, I guess I’m doin’ fine”
He says, “It’s three A.M., there’s too much noise
Don’t you people ever wanna go to bed?
Because you feel so good
Do you have to drive me out of my head?”

I said, “Hey, you, get off of my cloud
Hey, you, get off of my cloud
Hey, you, get off of my cloud
Don’t hang around ’cause two’s a crowd
On my cloud, baby”

I was sick and tired, fed up with this
And decided to take a drive downtown
It was so very quiet and peaceful
There was nobody, not a soul around
I laid myself out, I was so tired
And I started to dream
In the morning the parking tickets were just like flags
Stuck on my windscreen

I said, “Hey, you, get off of my cloud
Hey, you, get off of my cloud
Hey, you, get off of my cloud
Don’t hang around ’cause two’s a crowd
On my cloud”

Hey, you, get off of my cloud
Hey, you, get off of my cloud
Hey, you, get off of my cloud
Don’t hang around baby two’s a crowd
On my cloud

Hey, you

It’s a song of blight, troubled sleeplessness, crass commercialism, and the outside world shoving itself down our throats, with the response that two’s a fucking crowd.

It’s an introvert’s song; It’s MY fucking cloud—MINE!

The early 60s, well, all of the 60s, a huge cultural shift was taking place in the Western world. Rock and Roll was bred from gospel and the blues—hell, it was stolen from the African-American experiences and it reflected a loss of innocence, disillusionment, and a way to ease the suffering so common in human existence. Song lyrics became reality-based…and love-based. Years earlier Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit pioneered this approach. In the 60s, Civil Rights were in the ascendancy. American involvement in Vietnam was increasing. It was a confusing fucking time…for anyone over 4ish.

This morning, I listened to the song as I drove to work, and noticed something interesting. The first four bars are only drums–Charlie Watts’ drums. Charlie was 24 when they recorded the song in early September 1965. So, I realized that it was Charlie Watts’ drums that signaled to me the beginning of my self-awareness. My sentient brain was shaken awake by Charlie Watts, who passed away yesterday at age 80.

Do I owe him a debt of gratitude for those first four bars? Do I owe the designer of the London Records 45 disk label that honor for its mesmerising look as it spun around and around that turntable inside that cheap beauty salon on Dempster?

I’m gonna go with Charlie, because his work brought me into the world that day. The song foreshadowed so many things present today, over 55 years after its first release—a world where I’m 60ish, there’s climactic blight, sleeplessness induced by social media notifications, Bill Hick’s long ago but still relevant insistence of stopping rampant commercialism of everything, and, again, social media’s maddening negative impact on our privacy and sanity.

Rest in Beat, Charlie. The world you brought me into is a tough one, but the reality is, my cloud is still my cloud and I work daily to keep my introverted ass inside of it.

Time Capsule dated 16 JUN 2013 – Riyadh, KSA

I get to reflect on my dad again, huh? Well, let’s see…(checks chip on shoulder)…
That’s a mighty big chip. I suppose it’s not so bad after all. There are many situations I’ve had where I’ve asked, “What would my dad have done in this situation?” The answer is, invariably, “Well, actually, he’s never been in situations that I’ve been in.” Our lives have been so very very different. He was born and died in Illinois, spending a good 70 years in Chicago. He sold industrial real estate. He gambled a lot. He had six kids from two wives. Um…he stayed sane most of the time, but definitely strayed from sanity at the most inopportune times.
All in all? Well, that chip is still there, and I’m reminded a lot of him, especially when I look in the mirror and see such a strong physical similarity.
OK, so it’s not a glaring, shining idolization of Mr. Stuart Davies aka “Mr. Wonderful”. However, I must thank the man for giving me a ticket to this short thrill ride. I’m still hanging on tight, seatbelt unfastened, enjoying the breeze as the world whooshes by without him.

Partying like it’s 1999. In fact, it IS 1999.

Time capsule January 2020

OK, I’ve updated my stock response now to MAGA-teen-fascist-gate, let me know what you think, FB fans (edits have been made! Several times lolol.)

“The following is not my original metaphor or analogy, but they are my words … the fucking media is framing this whole thing as if we are talking about the weather (who was guilty, the MAGAteen or the Native American Elder?) and nothing is said about the climate (MAGA hats in DC – incendiary from the start; who sent them to DC to petition the government to subjugate a woman’s control over her body?; Where were the chaperones?; Why was the Elder there anyway?; Why should we care about the history of the Native American?; What part did the MAGAphalanx(patent pending) (30+ others) play in the face to face stare down?; Who were the four “Black Hebrew Israelites” and do they matter?; Does the MAGAphalanx making ape sounds and mimicking apes at the “Black Hebrew Israelites” mean anything?; Why did MAGAteen’s mother call them “Black Muslims”; Why did MAGAteen suddenly have GOP/McConnell tied PR firm writing the boy’s “I’m the victim” letter?; So many climate-based questions, etc etc thus far and where’s the media? They are fucking focused on the Rashomonian “event” to find out “what really happened”).

You know, the media needs a fucking horserace, or a boxing match or whatever. I mean, they HAVE to sell soap and boner pills and to pander to your inadequacies, because you know, it’s a living.

Then there’s this video from before the “MAGteen vs Native American Elder” videos. 



Get a clue. It DOES take a village to raise a child, and the Covington High School “village”, located in a Kentucky suburb of Cincinnati, raises racists and rapists. There’s a LONG history of video and photo evidence (although Covington HS is doing a bang up job of closing down their sites and removing those videos and photos). Note: I’m too lazy to curate all the links, do your own research. 



So, like Climate Change, in which our proudly ignorant president, who tweeted that it would be great to “have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now” in a January arctic blast that’s deep freezing much of the US, and who also tweeted in support of MAGAteen (while misspelling his name), it’s not about the weather today, it’s a bigger and much more complex picture that requires a bit of focus and some higher order thinking skills. I fear there are still a large enough number of people who possess no thinking skills whatsoever, because you know, it’s hard work and all that.

…and the media, well, again, they just won’t do their job properly.



In short: Forget the WEATHER and look at the CLIMATE.”

I use these three tags regularly for posts…

#MAGACONJOB – because you know, we have a master snake oil salesman sitting in the Oval Office with his finger over the nuclear button. He’s also doing a fabulous job of sucking the air out of every room and keeping our attention completely on him, so that little fuckers like the MAGA teen can be poster children for privilege of all kinds.

#kentuckyfriedturtle – Because Mitch McConnell has been the biggest enemy of the US Constitution for how many years now? He’s also involved in this incident through his crony network. He’s really where we need to focus, but #MAGACONJOB just keeps doing things so incredibly moronic we just can’t look away. He is also the sole current owner of the government shutdown. Trump got it rolling, but McConnell is the one feeding it with his inaction.

#dominionistveep – I don’t want Trump going anywhere unless this creepy creepy CREEPY fucker goes with him. Pence’s world view is the scariest of them all.

Everything ruined, wasted!!

April 24, 2005, Jimmy Johnson drew this Sunday panel.

It’s a reminder to be patient. It’s a reminder to be observant. It’s a reminder to appreciate the glory of life, the cycle of death, the power of nature.

It’s a reminder to look to see what works best, what to do differently, how to surprise yourself.

It’s a reminder to do things with purpose, with meaning, with full engagement.

I’ve had this panel printed on my door, on my computer desktop, and figured this is as good a place as any. It reminds me so much of this, perhaps the best C&H of all time, given it’s Watterson’s goodbye to the bullshit. Lucky Watterson. He could afford to go out on top, with integrity.

Time capsule NYE 2016, part 2: Abu Dhabi doooooo!

FB again upchucked this long gem, so here it is for awhile, until my ISP shuts down. The last posting I updated for NYE 2021, but I’m just gonna take a pass on this one this time, folks.

In my last 2015 post, I reflected about the year, and believe me I left out a LOT of detail. It’s very hard to write about separation from family, and the time I was in Chicago, which really was a great time…but the city is just not for me. I explored it a great detail and appreciated how great a city it is, and I’m very glad my wife and daughter are there and enjoying their lives around my brother and sisters and their friends and acquaintances. I miss the entire extended family there. Hugs and love to you all.

So, ok, now on to 2016.

2016. Another year of potential.

As I settle into life in Abu Dhabi, I have a lot to look forward to. My work at Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) has been ramping up slowly. This year, I’ll be getting an internationally recognized certification to be a teacher trainer across the curriculum. This is an important feather in my cap, as I move very slowly toward consulting in education. I would assume I’ll have the cert in hand by mid-year. Meanwhile, working diligently to make sure the Professional Development (PD) program we have in place gets tied to the accrediting agency (Higher Education Academy, HEA – located in the UK). Our PD program is really quite good, but getting it out and working with the 1600 faculty spread across 17 campuses in the UAE will take some time and some re-thinking on the part of management…which always seems to be the case wherever I go. That, in short, is my current work situation. In three years’ time, I have a potential leadership spot in the premiere PD program in the GCC countries, lead by HCT / HEA, where we’ll have a huge impact on raising the teaching standards at all universities and colleges of higher ed, public and private. Seriously, how amazeballs is that?

Last year, I managed to visit the US, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, India, and Oman (I swear I must have left something out). This year, on tap, if all goes well, I’ll be back in the US in July for a short spin (California and Florida folks, I can keep you in mind and try to do a few days in each place), another trip to India, a visit to Japan for a very special event (details to come), and if I can pull it off, a visit to Rwanda, but not just because. I can send out vibes to hit Vietnam and revisit Malaysia, but those are lower priorities at the moment. EDIT: Almost forgot possible hits to Italy and the UK to visit certain academic nephews I know.

Honestly, especially to my American friends and acquaintances, travel is it. If you’ve never left the country, do it. If you’ve only been to Europe, there are non-Western places to visit that are priceless. It’s worth the money and time, and you’ll have lots of great stories to tell.

So do it, and tell them.

Finally, there’s health. I hinted at my crappy habits, mainly bad food habits, that are very hard to break. I’ve ventured into semi-veganism, which has been quite hard here in the UAE. Nevertheless, even with some current backtracking, I am doing my best to locate plant-based foods, and reduce food consumption. This will fight all the current things that are ravaging my body (diabetes type 2, high blood pressure, high cholesterol) and will have a negative impact within 10 years time, so there’s an urgency to right the boat, as it were. I don’t have a resolution to lose weight, only to reduce caloric intake and fat intake…and that should work to reduce weight. I’ve done a lot of research and investigations, and I’m getting there. Not eating 100% healthy yet (Indian veg food here is great, but full of cream and ghee, if nothing else), but the habit has started, and I allow myself to “fall off the wagon” without killing myself for it.

Ah yeah, there’s one other thing. Ayaka Davies hits age 21, and thus full adulthood in two weeks’ time. Though I can’t be there, she knows how I feel about her reaching that awesome milestone, and she knows how much I miss my two girls. She’s grown into a hard working, charismatic adult already, and I applaud her successes and her ambition to become a social worker after getting her Masters (she can crowdfund the tuition, because my financial obligations end at her receiving her Bachelors).

Facebook remains my top “broadcast” network, and I love the banter and inside jokes I can exchange with people I’ve known from various times and places in the past. Keep it up, people. We are all on a similar adventure, even if the contents are different, and sharing what’s going on with you, and seeing your faces and your families is always inspirational.
Again, here’s to a great, inspirational, prosperous, and as-stress-free-as-possible 2016 for everyone I know.

Time capsule NYE 2016, part 1: Facebook is a dark joke.

FB blasted me my 2015 writing for the NYE 2016, so I’m copy/pasting and updating this in 2020 for NYE 2021. Let’s see how it goes. I’ll just add the updated version (in parentheses), so.

2020 was the worst god-awful shit-storm dumpster-fire and I really don’t see an improved 2021 ahead because reasons

PSA – Reflection 2015 (2020)

Well, the year is done. I’ve been 54 (59) orbits around the sun, which in itself is a shocker. So, what went on in 2015 (2020)?

– Lived in Chicago from January through March, waiting for work visa. (2020 – Lived in Abu Dhabi UAE the entire year. Didn’t leave it to go anywhere).

– April, moved across the world, YET AGAIN, this time back to the Middle East and a job in the United Arab Emirates, neighbor to Saudi Arabia, but very different culturally and technologically. (2020 – Renewed my apartment rent. Expensive, but nice building with a view of the Gulf and downtown AD – worth it)

– Resigned (2020 – reassured) myself to the fact that I probably (2020 – definitely) won’t live and work in the US again, for reasons too numerous to put into this little FB posting. (Even more new and improved reasons in 2020)

– Found myself separated from my immediate family for quite possibly a very long time. The repercussions from this are also too numerous, but suffice to say, it takes a very VERY strong mind to reconcile and accept this fact. Since I am a “go with the FLOW” kind of person, this is how it has to be, and I am going with it. My family knows me, and accepts this. None of it is easy ever. At all. (2020 – Unchanged and accurate)

– The opportunity I have here in Abu Dhabi is unique in many ways, and the same as anywhere else I could be. I am buckled in for quite possibly several years here, given my age and current situation. (2020 – Unchanged and accurate, though I thought I’d have advanced my position, but I know now that won’t ever happen)

– I am politically removed from the US now, and I don’t like the direction the country is headed. It’s obvious through my many political postings where I stand, and being a “pragmatic progressive” I have also accepted that oligarchy has taken over the country I grew up in. I am thinking a lot about this, and thinking of the many people I know, family and friends, who I’ve left behind to live in the US, which, if you look at the facts, is declining in wealth and influence around the world. (2020 – Unchanged – except for it being far worse, and accurate prediction)

…there’s a bright spot. Except for the usual old bastard things, I’m relatively healthier than in 2015

– Overall, my physical health is not the best, but that’s all from my horrible personal habits. I am human, and proud to be who I am, and have grown a bit more into the “jeez, it’s one life, might as well enjoy what I can of it” state of mind. I’ll be around for several more years, so no worries there. (From January 2020 to now, I’ve dropped close to 15kg, so there’s a bright spot. Except for the usual old bastard things, I’m relatively healthier than in 2015)

– I am the most conflicted about my life’s work. I’ve been an educator since age 24. It’s really all I know and love. As much as I’ve seen in the many countries I’ve lived and worked, I try to stay positive, given the overwhelming evidence to the contrary about what it means to be in higher education. I’m still doing it, and really adore every minute I put into writing about it, thinking about it, and putting it into practice. More amazeballs things are around the corner for me in my current job. (2020 – Coaching is a new endeavor – and there’s already a lot of potential that surprised me – especially how it seems a natural next step)

– Basically, I am extremely happy and fortunate for the experiences I’ve had – even with the crusty “angriest guy in the world” postings that I just can’t help posting on FB. I know what I’ve seen and done is something extremely rare in this world. I’ve experienced things extremely unique for one travelling the earth. I am more than a tourist to many regions of the world. This experience has been priceless, so very very priceless, and it’s absolutely impossible to express in words. I’m not gloating about this. I really feel so very fortunate for what I’ve carved out in my life. (2020 – in 2016 I hit five continents within one month of travelling. That was pretty cool. Returned to Okinawa twice – or three times – already too old to remember).

– Facebook, more than anything, has helped me connect and reconnect to a LOT of people from my past. This is such a unique moment in our collective experience to be able to do this. I have re-friended a lot of people, made closer friends with a lot of my acquaintances, and seen that there’s no way ever we will all see eye to eye on things that are important to us. Folks, we can and must agree to disagree, but we must realize how temporary we are here, and do our best to leave a legacy to our progeny. (2020 – Yeah, FB is a dark joke. At least I started using Duck-Duck-Go instead of Google for my web searches. All large social media are evil – FULL STOP and that won’t change.)

– Above all else, I want everyone reading this to remember two very important things about our all-too-short life. 1) Breathe in. 2) Breathe out. Laugh if you want, but these are the two basic truths that we must remember in order to continue another time around the sun. (2020 – Unchanged and accurate; so very very accurate)

– Go watch a sunrise, and watch a sunset on the same day. It’s a very sober reminder of the amazing beauty that surrounds us, but that we can very easily forget when we get caught up in the day-to-day goings on. (2020 – Unchanged and accurate)

Love (2020 – most of) you all, and with the very best wishes for a safe, sound, prosperous, content, and very very Happy New Year (2020 – stay. the. fuck. inside. wear. a. fucking. mask. get. a. fucking. vaccination. then. wear. your. fucking. mask. stay. safe. stay. sane. wash. your. hands.)

In short: 2015 was AMAZEBALLS (2020 was the worst god-awful shit-storm dumpster-fire and I really don’t see an improved 2021 ahead because reasons).

Kwaheri 2020.

Plus ça change

I’m just cleaning up my desktop on a lazy Friday morning (my Saturday, because UAE is a Muslim country with Friday/Saturday as the weekend), and I found this, so this seems the best place for it. From an MS Word doc dated 15 OCT 2017.

PSA – very, very long posting ahead…SPOILER ALERT…no spoilers.

Part I: Life is a Ride

“The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly colored, and it’s very loud, and it’s fun for a while. Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, “Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, “Hey, don’t worry; don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.” And we … kill those people. “Shut him up! I’ve got a lot invested in this ride, shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real.” It’s just a ride. But we always kill the good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok … But it doesn’t matter, because it’s just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.”

I would shorten this as indicated – an excerpt – and provide the link at the end.

― Bill Hicks (1961-1994), greatest comedian (until Dave Chapelle came along).

Part II: Question Reality

An open letter to self, regarding that graphic you posted just over a year ago…

Remember that challenge on FB, during the election season of 2016, to post about what three fictional characters best summarize your personality…well, time to reveal to yourself why you chose these three…

First, the soundtrack for this letter is – The Harder They Come.*

Let’s start with the woodcutter from Rashomon in the little box in the upper left corner of the graphic. Rashomon, Akira Kurosawa’s 1950s masterpiece. Film buffs know this film, because, like Citizen Kane, it broke a ton of cinematic rules in its day and was a sensation because of it….but Rashomon is a tale where one must conclude that it’s imperative to question reality on a daily basis. Is this real? Or just a ride? The storyline, four different views of a crime committed, left you baffled as to what actually happened.

Because that’s how reality works.

In the light of the crimes I and hundreds others in my high school alum community have just become aware of…we can’t piece together what actually happened in every instance… 40 YEARS OF INSTANCE …and we are stuck trying to see the facts as they were. From a LOT of different points of view. Knowing that each view will be a little different. But we know bad things happened, and there was a pattern to it all that’s about to emerge. Like the woodcutter, you are about to see the forest from the trees.

Maybe during those quiet times, when that man of in a position of power abused a boy (sorry to keep you all nameless, but there are names a plenty) to satisfy some primal desire without regard to the human beings he was using as sex toys … it reminds you a little of the arrogant Tajômaru, the thief/rapist in Rashomon proudly boasting of his heroic rape, and the noble fight the victim’s husband put up to defend her honor, and which he, the Great Tajômaru won.

The woodcutter’s tale of the fight is very different… Tajômaru was not a man of courage or a hero of any kind after all, but a small-minded imbecile who got a lucky break in the swordfight after he raped a woman …but then [SPOILER ALERT …] you learned the woodcutter himself also lied about a certain missing dagger. Woodcutter 2.0. The dagger mentioned in the wife’s testimony and in the late husband’s testimony to the police. So even the woodcutter’s story can’t be taken as the total truth.

You are like that woodcutter – both facets – and to be honest, everyone is like the woodcutter on Facebook to some extent. You put up your nice veneer, awesome times, good times, check this out… but there are holes in your stories and skeletons in the your closet, some which might not ever see the light of day. You are human after all, and the woodcutter bears this out. Even in times of honesty, there lurks some darkness below the surface.

No justice, no peace. Fear, not love. Just a ride.

This week, you are going to learn that lesson about justice again, when the stories get exchanged, everyone shrugs, and moves on, possibly with an unwitting embrace of the fear that bombards us daily. The woodcutter didn’t tell his story to a lawyer after all… and left out a little detail when he told the police Tajômaru’s story in a different light.

Most days, you are the woodcutter, wandering deep in a forest, hoping you won’t stumble upon the Tajômarus of the world. But they are everywhere.

“One of these days
When you hear a voice say come
Who you gonna run to?
You gonna run to the rock for rescue
There will be no rock.”

       – The Slickers, Johnny Too Bad

Part III: The Catcher in the Rye

Then, in the middle of the graphic you posted, front and center and larger than life, is good old Willy Wonka, the Gene Wilder movie version (not the Johnny Depp movie version nor the Roald Dahl book version). Willy…what can you say about this brilliant guy? The Augustus Gloop scene sums this up well.

At first, Willy is pretty upset as he tries to keep Augustus from drinking from his chocolate river, he runs to try to save him, alas his attitude changes completely once the boy falls in. This is the concerned Larry, wanting to keep people from harm. Fear. Not succeeding. Woodcutter 2.0.

The mom screams “DO SOMETHING”, and then, out you come, the Jaded Brechtian Ennui(TM) Larry, in all your glory: “Help. Police. Murder.” spoken knowing the damage is already done, and what’s the point. Just a ride. It’s like watching a 20 year old age into a 55 year old in a matter of seconds. There are seriously no more fucks to give at this age.

It’s just a ride.

20 kids dead in a mass shooting? Just a ride. Guy plans to kill hundreds if he can with a bunch of guns but only mows down 60 and only injures 500. Puerto Rico. Trump blah blah blah FEAR…or just a ride. Help. Congress. Murder.

Then later, the part that scared the living shit out of me when I first saw it, Augustus gets stuck in the pipe. Willy matter-of-factly states, in the best Dr. Professor Larry voice: “Well the pressure will get him out. Terrific pressure is building up behind the blockage.”

Then old Punk Rock Larry (RIP D. Boon – miss you DAILY!) kicks in with glee in his voice and a kick in his step, while popping popcorn in his mouth: “The suspense is terrible! I hope it’ll last!” Yes, it’s a dark satire indeed, and you’d be a woodcutter 2.0 if you said you didn’t have that in you…that part emerges as a kind of last ditch effort to maintain sanity given the horror of the situation.

Multiple personalities trying to make sense of a world gone mad. You post politics all the time, but everything’s already in that chocolate river. What can you do but say: Help. Mr. President. Murder.

In the end, you give the factory to Charlie. The boy with a heart more valuable than a golden ticket. “The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.”

You are SO VERY MUCH Willy Wonka on a daily basis.

“Dema loot, dema shoot, dema wail” – Desmond Dekker, 007 (Shanty Town)

Part IV: Fake News

Hobbes.

There are two Hobbes. This is the reality Hobbes. The stuffed, motionless tiger. The Willy Wonka Jaded Brechtian Ennui(TM) Hobbes, perched on Willy’s shoulder. The woodcutter Hobbes, telling the real story while still craving a hearty can of tuna fish. Is he a figment of Calvin’s imagination, or is he a magical autonomous entity? Am you real, or is this just a ride? How many political comics have you seen drawing Calvin and Trump in the same light.. and me, that imaginary foil to Trump, rolling your eyes, losing faith in all that is human. Do your exist in Trump’s reality? You are mostly the stuffed Hobbes to over 65 million Americans, and face it, close to seven billion other people.

Hobbes is a shapeshifter, that’s for sure, but only for Calvin. Me, only for American politics, it seems. Maybe for some people some of the time. That stuffed form resonates with you, doesn’t it? You’ve felt like stuffed Hobbes most of the time when dealing with politics…with people, and why you cling to your introversion and am perfectly content to have yourself as company. Yet on social media you go doing this type of live active Hobbes doing dances with Calvin and getting all up in his grill.

One time, Calvin took Hobbes out on a safari, and for whatever circumstance, left him behind. He got all angry and frantic at the same time. Calvin’s panic was palpable. When he found Hobbes, boy was he mad at Hobbes for getting lost. Calvin lost the stuffed tiger, and the living tiger ran away dancing in the forest with the woodcutter 2.0.

There are actually too many Calvin/Hobbes stories to tell, but there isn’t a moment when you don’t feel like Hobbes rolled round in earth’s diurnal course with rocks and stones and trees (apologies to WW).

It’s tough being Hobbes to the world of Calvins out there, many of whom are real, actual friends or acquaintances of yours (you reading this know if I’m giving you that living Hobbes stare at your RIGHT NOW).

Anyway, back to stuffed Hobbes, who explored a lot of the world with Calvin whether he wanted to or not. Remember the last strip, the fallen white snow, the world of possibilities to explore. Such delight on Hobbes face. Off they went to explore “space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.”

Thanks for the explanation, Larry.

* Soundtrack to the 1973 film classic about the hard life Jamaican’s had back in the day, and you know the US CITIZEN Puerto Ricans and Virgin Islanders are having the same hard time right now…

“Many rivers to cross
And it’s only my will
that keeps me alive.”

        – Jimmy Cliff

“Well, they tell me of a pie up in the sky
Waiting for me when i die
But between the day you’re born and when you die
They never seem to hear even no cry
So as sure as the sun will shine
I’m gonna get my share of what’s mine
And then the harder they come
The harder they fall
One and all.
The harder they come
The harder they fall
One and all!”

       – Jimmy Cliff

Epilogue:

Anyway, back to stuffed Hobbes, who explored a lot of the world with Calvin whether he wanted to or not. Remember the last strip, the fallen white snow, the world of possibilities to explore. Such delight on Hobbes face. Off they went to explore “space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.” Um, you just woodcutter 2.0’d didn’t you? You are really living Hobbes. Yeah, thought so. Thanks for the explanation, Larry.

Top 10 Music – goes to 11 (2018)

Suggested listening while you read this: 

My apologies to Prince. I tend to like Diamonds and Pearls, though I know other efforts of his are better. Anyway, RIP to yet another great gone too soon. Also some minor typos fixed below…also some essential verses from some songs.

I’d recommend you revisit this post from time to time, because there just isn’t enough information that can be packed into something in one sitting. I just thought of a whole bunch of other things I want to put into this one, so there are a ton of edits from the original post. Enjoy, but also note people have commented on earlier versions of this one. Also, as you know, I like swear words, so scroll by if you get offended by that stuff.

=====

Hi Facebook. Several of my friends are posting their top 10 albums of all time on their feeds, and doing it without explanation. So, just to help you to get the Russians and others to market to me properly and reach into my already depleted wallet based on what I post, here’s my list, posted all at once, and WITH explanations, because our privacy is dead and you already know everything already so the more details I give you the more I screw with your fucked up algorithms. Go on parse out all this shit.

This is not a top 10 though…#1 is not #1 of all time…these are all pretty much equal in their impact and I spit them out without thinking too hard, because I think that’s the point. Also there are 11, because everything needs to go to 11 after Spinal Tap told us so.

11. Best of Bent – Bent. This is a British duo album and is a very late entry, but for the past 10 years or so, I’ve grown to really love downtempo European duos who make the best “this is the soundtrack to my life” type music. The song Private Road tops several great offerings from this group, although Magic Love is a close contender (and a hilarious video on YouTube) and they lead me to a slew of other newer music that I listen to regularly now. Listening to related artists for Bent led me to such incredible individual artists and groups such as Ulrich Schnauss, Goldfrapp (Ooh La La was on Black Mirror!), Zero 7 (Pia did a few tracks with them very early in her storied career), Bonobo, Daft Punk, Lemon Jelly, Air, Nightmares on Wax, Kid Loco, Chemical Brothers, Boards of Canada, Röyksopp, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Télépopmusik and many others.

Bach is Dead.

10. Blue Break Beats, Volume 1 – Various Artists. The first five seconds of the first track, by Richard “Groove” Holmes solidified my love of Acid Jazz and all the funky variations, although that first track is still my favorite, and Groove has a fab version of Misty that you MUST find NOW and listen to. There are four volumes to this series, and every track makes you want to say “God Bless America” because Jazz is one of the greatest contributions to American culture I know, and the early 60s and 70s that these tracks come from are certainly some of the best. Honestly, if you have not heard Richard “Groove” Holmes, Grant Green, Lou Donaldson, Donald Byrd, Eddie Henderson and the slew of other folks in this series, you haven’t been paying attention.

9. Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables – Dead Kennedys. You all know I was an LA Punk, like a lot of you, my friends. There are a couple other selections on this list that re-affirm that. But you know, “You’ll work harder with a gun in your back for a bowl of rice a day” wasn’t just how things were then…it’s how things still are now, only of course on a much more metaphorical level. Jello rules. Also, to get a flavour of the time and place, you’d need to listen to the Minutemen (see below), X, Fear, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Suicidal Tendencies, Germs, Wall of Voodoo, Suburban Lawns, and then of course expand out to Gang of Four, Joy Division, The Cure, Siouxie and the Banshees, Ramones…oh the list can go on and on…

8. Remain in Light – Talking Heads. Really, these guys are still my favs, and David Byrne’s career has been on the come back trail yet again. Really, all of the Talking Heads albums are eligible, but “This ain’t no party. This ain’t no disco. This ain’t no fooling around.” pretty much sums up adulthood as we know it. I always think of the B52s and their first and second albums as the fabulous frilly foil to the heady Heads. Oh yeah, Devo lol. Devo dovetails in nicely with these two groups.

Bach is Dead.

7. Revolver – The Beatles. Hard to choose one Beatles album, but this one ends with John Lennon singing “play the game existence to the end, of the beginning“…and really this was the end of the beginning of an amazing musical career, everything after this was pure collaborative genius and this, along with Rubber Soul, were the bridge albums. Every 60s group is related to this, so I’m not adding in any related music. I mean if you twist my arm, then Janis, Jimi, and Jim (glad Mick didn’t join THAT club) have to be at the top of the list. Oh, and to my high school friends who insisted that Eric Clapton is God…well, ok, ok. I think it’s also good, historically, to put Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Mahalia Jackson here as related influences on 1960s rock. While Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye were going down a fabulously parallel R&B path with the Beatles, so, you know my arm is twisted and I could have listed ANY Motown song here, but Motown wasn’t an album so, PAH.

6. Sandinista – The Clash. Come ON. There are a brazillion tracks here that are awesome, but still my favorite lyric here is from Magnificient 7 “Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi/ Went to the park to check on the game/ But they was murdered by the other team/ Who went on to win 50-nil”. So it goes. Joe Strummer died at age 50, murdered by the Cancer team, so yeah, some irony there. I’m putting Michael Jackson here because he also died ridiculously young (murdered by the prescription drug addiction team), and had a much more poppy influence on me at the time. Billie Jean made me think of…

5. Lady in Satin – Billie Holiday. If you don’t know the history of this album, shame on you. Just take a moment. Stop reading. Now hang your head in utter shame for 30 seconds before you start reading again. I can wait…

Done? Welcome back. This was a recording of a 44-year old woman, addicted to Heroin, the most talented voice of her time, and still considered so today, and she was treated like less than a dog, being black in the 1920s to 1950s and knew she was about to die, and still belted out every single word in every single track to make sure people knew what had happened in her life. If you aren’t weeping on the floor after listening to this album, you have no soul. Also, sure, Strange Fruit is still her signature song, and rightfully so and it’s not part of this album…but again, knowing the context of this album, listening to her broken voice, but not broken spirit…this was quite a good bye love letter. But what else can you do at the end of a love affair? The story reminds me of Otis Redding’s Dock of the Bay (although he didn’t know his death was imminent), and David Bowie’s Blackstar (damn, David, you can’t give everything awayyyyyy, but I bet you thought of Billie Holiday at some point in recording YOUR final album knowing your time was limited).

“Do they know, do they care
That it’s only ‘cuz I’m lonely, and low as can be
And the smile on my face
Isn’t really a smile at all?”

Bach is Dead.

4. The Harder they Come – Jimmy Cliff and Various Artists. An obscure 1972 Jamaican film about a country boy gone gangster in the capital, Kingston, this compilation is the grandfather of all Reggae albums, a close cousin to New Wave / Punk genres and the uncle of all Ska music to boot (although OK, Ska was around before this, their blood relationship is obvious). I still can’t pick a favorite track on this one, although my current favorite is 007-Shanty Town. I still play this whole album constantly and tear up when singing, and yes, dancing, along. You sentimental old fool, you. Just picture old fatty me dancing in my living room looking out at the Abu Dhabi skyline singing out “Dem a loot / dem a shoot / dem a wail (a shanty town!)”, then doing some ad lib in the bridge between the vocal sections at the beginning and end. Ok, now that you’ve washed your eyes out and after that image is gone, you can follow up listening with everything Bob Marley and UB40, then go check out 1980s British Ska: English Beat, Selector, the Specials, Madness, Fun Boy Three…then go back to the beginning of Ska with the Skalites aka Ska Kings of the First Wave and you’ll find a ton of obscure but danceable related tracks from dozens of artists (dem-a rude boys ya bum up de town!).

3. Duck Stab – The Residents. Never heard of the Residents? Well, forget it, then. Those who have heard of them know that I’m coming soon to Constantinople. There is no group out there (well maybe Frank Zappa, but I really honestly don’t know enough Zappa to make a qualified judgement) quite like the Residents.

2. Double Nickels on the Dime – The Minutemen. I am still in mourning. RIP D.Boon 1958-1985. #1 Love Song is just that. History Lesson Part II sums it all up nicely and everyone who I was with in my formative years at UCLA remembers the over 40 tracks on this gem. See the DKs above for related music, but The Minutemen still are my favorite from back in the day.

On the back of a winged horse
Through the sky pearly grey
Love is leaf-like...
You and me, baby
Twinkle, twinkle
Blah, blah, blah
E! T! C!

Lyrics to #1 Love Song

1. Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys. Good Vibrations is a great song, but this is what a great album is, and Good Vibrations isn’t on it. To all my friends and family: God Only Knows what I’d be without you.

OK, I guess I kind of lied. It IS in order and #1 is #1 for a reason.

Walking women want to see the Southern Cross at night
And so they set aside a sock and tie their laces tight
Yes, mournful is the melody that echoes in their heads
Without a beat, they march along believing Bach is dead

Bach is Dead.

Time Capsule: November 8, 2017 –

Note: lifted from my FB post, and embellished here, cuz it’s fun to embellish.

<rant>

What will work:

1. Before the election, non-partisan redistricting to get rid of Gerrymandering.

2. 100% public funding of elections. PACs made illegal, and Citizen’s United decision reversed through legislation.

3. Campaign period limited to three months before election day.

4. Second Tuesday in November is a national holiday called “Election Day”. Polls open Tuesday 12:00:01 AM. Polls close Wednesday 12:00:00 AM.

5. Uniform Federally Printed Paper ballots for the Presidency. Collected and sent to Washington DC for counting. State ballots for everything else. Exception for the two or so million of us who live overseas. Then, some form of secure digital authenticated transaction for voting for president, then for state candidates and issues. Just don’t contract Equifax for that. Those US Based who will be overseas on election day do paper mail-ins.

6. Absolute news blackout when polls are open. When Alaska/Hawaii polls close, the press can do their thing.

7. Abolish the Electoral college. Five times in history, but two times in my lifetime is enough to show the system doesn’t work as planned. Instead use “The Alternative Vote” for instant runoff.

Why none of the above will work:

1. Get rid of Gerrymandering? Will get on that right after we’ve put in comprehensive gun control.

2. Citizen’s United, where money is speech. It’ll always be louder than actual people actually speaking their opinions. See the Cruella DeVoucher confirmation story for more on that.

3. Trump filed for re-election literally right after he was done with his inauguration ceremony. Like, it was the same day or the next day (too lazy to look it up to confirm). He’s gamed the system so that we, the taxpayers, are now paying for his “campaign rallies”.

4. Empirical evidence showing shorter voting times in heavily Democratic districts, especially those with a minority population as its majority, has worked well with voter suppression.

5. Citizen’s United again. Three Voting machine companies have a stranglehold, and their money talks more than me.

6. The press will scream first amendment. The Supreme’s will probably take their side, because it’s a money thing again.

7. It was a good idea when populations of states weren’t that far apart from each other. Wont happen any time soon without a constitutional amendment, and that’s a pipe dream for reasons (too lazy to explain, but state government control is the key).

Thanks for playing. Factual mistakes are all mine. Comment on anything else that will work.
</rant>

Time Capsule: May 2, 2018

(I was listing my top 10 fav films in FB, and this is for entry) #2 – Rashomon – (1950). Directed by Akira Kurosawa.

Here’s a regret I have: June 23, 1986, I sat in a fold-out chair in the sports field outside of Pauley Pavilion as a newly minted (albeit 2 years tardy) graduate of UCLA, B.A. in English Creative Writing, and NOT in film, as was my original intention, even though I did make a crappy comedy movie with a couple friends when I was there (Goin’ to Hollywood City, 1984, directed by Frank Marlowe, edited by him and me – fun to make – not very funny though lolol – didn’t make my top ten all time best film list for some reason).

There was a line up of celeb speakers at UCLA that day, I guess, but I was in some kind of transitional weirdo phase, waiting to know if I was going to Peace Corps Kenya or not, and I deliberately brought some headphones and played music throughout the whole Commencement ceremony so I didn’t have to listen to all of their nonsense. Just give me this damn degree that I slaved over for almost seven freaking years (Belushi as Bluto in Animal House: seven freaking years down the drain! I might as well join the fucking Peace Corps!)!

Too bad for me, because one of the speakers was Toshiro Mifune, star of Rashomon (as Tajomaru the Bandit), in Kurosawa’s masterpiece, who was there “For his extraordinary achievements and dedication to perfection in the world of films . . . for helping to increase America’s awareness and appreciation of Japanese culture” according to the commencement program.

Obviously, I hadn’t seen the film, and Japan was, now ironically, one of the last things on my mind, if at all, that day, so I just wanted to collect my diploma and get out and take some photos with the fam (hi late mom! Hi Laura! LYM!) and be done with it all…I guess I was kind of acting like Tajomaru that day, Rashomon’s anti-hero bandit and the center of the “police testimony” that makes up the bulk of the film, boasting about how wonderful I was and blah blah blah everyone else was phony and not as honest and noble as me… I’m not sure when I first saw this film, but I was using it as a creative exercise when I later taught in Japan, so I was aware of the film at least a good 20 years ago…hah, me teaching Kurosawa to Japanese college students…lolol. I probably DID see it at UCLA when I took a bunch of film appreciation classes.

The greatness of Rashomon is that it’s an honest look at the human vanity that exists in all of us (except for me of course…I’m completely chill 100% of the time), and how troubling and challenging it is to affirm it and embrace it. The other greatness is, the film, for its dark themes, emerges full of hope and optimism and that kind of “Keep Calm and Carry On” sensibility found in that old World War II poster (ugh, then the marketers came and ruined that brilliant story, too – but I digress).

One of the few surviving originals of the over 2.5 million printed in anticipation of the Nazis bombing London.

The film plot seems simple enough – a seemingly innocuous case of three people (well, two people and a ghost…) telling their story to the police of what happened a couple days back in the dense forest outside the village … and then a fourth story from a hidden witness later on told at the Rashomon gate.

So the facts are: a woman was raped, her nobleman husband dead, and Tajomaru the bandit was involved somehow. Oh and there seems to be a dagger in there somewhere, but no one found it.

The story is framed in the hot, humid Japanese summer of 800 years ago. It unfolds at the massive Rashomon gate, a decaying 12th Century Japanese relic, built to protect Kyoto, but long ago forgotten…and in the rain, the gate teeters before us, what’s left of it, to remind us of how temporary everything is. The heat and humidity portrayed throughout the film give everything a thicker and more difficult lustre (side note: Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” – a film that fought hard to get into my top 10 but fell short – but now I can mention it here lol – was no doubt influenced by pulling in the oppressiveness of a hot humid summer’s day). There are times you can hear the cicadas and birds in the forest, providing another layer of soundtrack to the dramatic scenes as they unfold. Tajomaru’s repeated slapping the bugs off his sweaty body helps to reinforce this oppression.

A woodcutter (played by Takashi Shimura – who also starred in another fabulous Kurosawa film – Ikiru – just two years later) and a monk (played extra-lugubriously by Minoru Chiaki) seeking shelter from the rain have ended up under the gate, and sit in disbelief of the testimony they have just heard at the police magistrate’s compound. The first line in the film is memorable.

Woodcutter: 分からない。。。さっぱり分からない。(I don’t understand it. I just don’t understand it).

A roughly hewn wandering commoner comes to seek shelter at the gate, and asks the two men to relate why they are in such disbelief … and tears off some wood from the gate to make a fire while he listens to the stories.

The three (four!) stories of what happened are then recast … and here lies the vexing center of the film, as all three stories are so very different about the events that transpired. Tajomaru, the dead nobleman (through a spirit medium), the wife, and then, at the end, the woodcutter’s fourth version, all tell their versions of the story.

The difference of the four stories casts a huge doubt on ANY of the stories. Each of the three stories told to the police were told casting the teller in the most favorable light. Tajomaru said he triumphed in an ensuing sword fight, but forgot to take the wife’s expensive dagger. The wife, in a fit of shame, recalls that she plunged her dagger into her husband’s heart after he would not kill her instead. The nobleman, through the medium, says that his failure to protect his wife, and her urging the bandit to kill him to cover up her guilt, and finally the shame the entire ordeal would bring to him and his family left him no choice but to commit ritual suicide with his wife’s dagger, which was later taken from his corpse. The woodcutter says, indeed, there was a sword fight, but only after the wife insulted both men and urged them to fight to the death over her…which they did, hesitantly, and because of their supposed vanity.

The two sword fight scenes, my favorite two scenes, are very different. Tajormaru’s version is the cinematic “Dirty Harry” version, where both men are skilled at their craft and there is much swish-swashing and cling-clanging going on, as the both men thrill at the dance of death. The woodcutter’s version exposes both men as flailing cowards trying more not to get killed than to kill the other man, and there is a lot of terrified heavy breathing in the woodcutter’s version. Tajomaru kills the nobleman who has fallen into some bushes and cannot easily move to get back up. The wife in this last version stares at the scene in utter terror of what she has caused by urging the two men to fight like real men and not cowards.

But the gruff commoner hearing the stories is having nothing of the Woodcutter’s version either, because everyone mentioned the dagger, and there was nothing of it at the police station, so it’s obvious where that dagger went. The woodcutter admits it’s in his possession, and so we are left to not believe anyone.

What happened deep in that grove?

In the end, the rain begins to clear, and an abandoned baby is heard and found by the three men. The commoner immediately begins to strip the baby of all its belongings, but the woodcutter tries to intervene at such injustice. There’s a brief fight as the commoner says, essentially, you are just as much a thief and liar as the rest of us. It’s a dog-eat-dog world…fend for yourself, and he runs off into the clearing rain with most of the baby’s belongings, and an even healthier skepticism toward humanity. The monk and the woodcutter are speechless at the inhumanity. The monk is ready to throw what little faith has has left away, until the woodcutter says, no worries. He already has six mouths to feed at home…a seventh won’t make a difference and walks away with the baby in arms, his head tilted up into the emerging sunshine. The monk’s faith is restored, though it certainly teetered when he found out even the woodcutter wasn’t the most honest of men. The end.

And in this end, we are left with nothing, just four fictional accounts of a crime, that will ultimately have neither resolution nor closure. And a huge decaying gate, well on its way to the Ozymandian longevity hall of fame.

Films buffs will know of the rules Kurosawa broke: Filming up through trees directly into the sun; using mirrors to reflect sunlight onto the actor’s faces; a long tracking shot following the woodcutter in the beginning of the film as he ventures deeper and deeper into the forest glades; the three witnesses to the event talking directly into the camera, forcing you as the viewer to sit in judgement of what is ultimately un-judgeable; and rapid close-up cuts between the trio, establishing their relationships with each other through the various tellings. I found there were more than 450 edits in the film, which puts it well above average for a movie.

Mifune, as Tajomaru, is at his best, and convincing…an actor playing a bandit who is acting as if he is a bandit. Machiko Kyo as the wife, displaying a huge range of raw human emotion from fear to shame to beguiling to panic and regret. Masayuki Mori as the staid nobelman holding himself with great honor in all the scenes, and of course Shimura’s beguiling woodcutter, turning over a new leaf in the end.

The music is a bit over the top at points, but the setting deep in a forest, a fabulous metaphor for hiding who we really are (oh, hey, that’s what #1 is all about all the time!) make this truly one of the greatest films I know.

If you haven’t seen it, even my spoilers won’t seem like spoilers after you watch the film. Each actor had to play the same scene four times in four different ways. I can’t imagine a more interesting production set and going through the paces in the small grove where most of the movie takes place. The budget was so low, they all had to live together during filming in the forest.

Oh, and a final note – about 10 days after not listening to what Toshiro Mifune had to say, I left L.A. for good. You know, because I’m a great guy and all and it was time to seek my fortune out in the world beyond, and I found it in Japan of all places.

Ensenada, First Draft, April 2020

This screenplay thing mugged me. I took five days to write 50 pages, then stopped for about eight weeks. Then I took another five to eight hours to finish it off. This is draft one. You are welcome to download, read, and comment, because I already registered it and I’ll sue the crap out of you if you steal any part of it. Hell to the yeah! Everything below is copy/pasted from FB April 28, 2020, embellished here now.


About eight weeks ago, I started writing a screen play. It kind of snuck up on me, and then mugged me for about two weeks. I got hardcore OCD during that brief time.

The good news is: The entire story is already written out all the way to the end. I love the ending…endings are usually the toughest part. Starting is always easy…finishing a project, always tough. Most of the scenes are out of my brain and on paper. The first half dialogue is completely done, the first draft anyway, with all the dialogue and it came out pretty fast and efficiently, about 50 pages done…

The bad news (??) …then it went back again into its cocoon, the rest of the dialogue not finished. The scenes with unwritten dialogue are the most harrowing, and I’m doing a “Charlie Chaplin writes the crucial scene of City Lights during an 18-month hiatus on filming” thing. The old attention span of an ant, which is the real virus circling the globe, has hit hard.

Break out the hankies.

I know what’s going to happen in the rest of the story, and I know who needs to say what, and I know that’s it’s fucking good… what creation from nothing isn’t good? …outside of, say, Team Kaylie, on Netflix which I watch as one watches the slow motion smashing of a car being safety tested with crash-test dummies inside getting flung about here and there.

I watch this show. I do. I know, I know, but I still watch it. I can’t explain it. It’s like watching a Trump presser.

I’m thinking that the reason why I’m stalling, or hesitating, or procrastinating, or whatever…is that damn, those harrowing scenes, if I don’t get it right, it just becomes an absurd wasted exercise. I’m not sure. I’ve actually never written a screen play before. I’ve done skits, song parodies, and a crapload of academic writing, and the occasional poem, cuz you know, my Bachelor’s is in Writing Poetry after all…and goddammit if I don’t love good metaphors. They are preciously powerful things and I use them in my teaching all the time…that’s all I try to use.

Thing is, though, who is going to read my screen play when it’s done? Who’s going to critique it honestly, and look at it objectively and see if it has potential impact. But of course, it already has had its impact on me. I took a REALLY distant memory, fictionalized a shit-ton of it, and talked out loud to myself about all that stuff, and that the secret of the memory resides, now, with me, alone. The other two main players in that memory have passed, so I am its only herald left walking.

What to do? I need someone to un-Chaplin this, and explain why it needs un-Chaplining. FB friends, fam, acquaintances, and gamer-friends who I know next to nothing about…what say you?

Note: I’m not telling anyone anything about it until its done. Maybe I dropped some hints to a couple of people, but not much to anyone…or I also forgot who I mentioned it to during the feverish time I was writing what I could…

Synopsis: It’s 1975 and 13 year old Elbie Auslander is dragged across one country, then into another, forced into a voyage of self-discovery. He doesn’t know what to make of anything, and soon finds himself, his brother, and his mother, all South of the Border of Sociopathy.

Note: some of the events are actually true. The characters are caricatures, of course. In the end, it’s a work of pure fiction, and I’m not sure if it’s a tragedy, a comedy, or “an undersea Western tragic-comedy musical”.

Time Capsule: Dec 2, 2019

Hi everyone, some personal updates from me…

1. I turned 58 on December 1. Thanks for your birthday wishes. I share birthdays with the late great Richard Pryor, Bette Middler, the disgraced Woody Allen, and the putrid piece of shit Senator from Florida, Rick Scott, among of course many other people. Birthdates determine nothing about your future.

2. My friend and long ago classmate Charlie Williams announced that he’s leaving Facebook at the end of this month. I think it’s the right move, and it triggered something in me, and today, I’ve spent time unfollowing between 50 to 75 groups that I’ve been in on Facebook. I’ve had friends leave FB for various reasons, and, you know, by staying here, we are all contributing to…well, if you don’t know it by now, it’s not even worth commenting. It’ll be hard to leave FB because it’s one of my lifelines to family and friends. What are the alternatives to serving a billionaire who lied and cheated his way into his billions, and is now quite alright that the thing he built is one of the biggest sources of misinformation on the planet. The alternatives are serving the billionaires at twitter, who pretty much do the same thing; serving the billionaires at Instagram (aka Facebook-owned but for the younger generations); serving someone else in order to stay in touch with friends and family. No matter what we choose, it’s the wrong choice. We have no choice, so I’m thinking what to do.

3. The groups I’ve unfollowed are 80% political, with the remaining 20% various news agencies and other weird websites. I’ve kept some web comics sites, some art and design sites, and of course the UU sites, who remind me that religious points of view are embraced by a vast majority of humans and I need to keep my mind as open as possible. Already, I’m seeing a lot more posts from family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances that were being drowned out by all the other flak I had on my “news feed”.

4. I spent a good three or so years as an online adjunct for St. Thomas University, my former employer, and subsequent alma mater (Ed.D. in Ed. Leadership), and I taught a few doctoral level courses about Social Media Management, naively extolling the virtues of the major social media websites. Now I realize I was duped like we’ve all been duped. The hardest part is admitting the dupe. I actually have a lot to say about higher education and education in general, but I think I’d probably have a serious brain aneurysm if I started to do the research that I want to do. I’d be doubled over in rage at the ghetto education has become globally, and especially the anti-educational road that the USA is barreling down.

5. I’m very thankful for my current job. I work with people from over 80 countries. I recently attended a talk at NYU-Abu Dhabi (they have a huge campus on Saadiyat Island…actually kind of hermetically sealed off from Abu Dhabi proper) and their main problem was, they spent all their time recruiting students globally, but their teaching staff come from a homogenous educational background (that being from Western Universities mostly from the English speaking countries). They have a huge disconnect, whereas our college student body comes from open-enrollment Emerati students who have the amazing value of faculty from, as I said, people from over 80 countries. The irony of it all … that’s just the tip of the iceberg… I have a lot of creative freedom in what I do, and have had many valuable working relationships here … and I’ve been humbled and reminded daily of my world view talking with the faculty and staff here. Long story short, this is the longest I’ve ever worked anywhere. I’ve had some frustrations, but I have to say, it’s the least stressful job I’ve experienced in my lifetime, and the opportunities for collaboration, whether with my Italian friend / colleague who will need my help with instructional design issues, my Jordanian and South African colleagues looking to collaborate with designing PD sessions on assessment, or the teachers who I coach from Mexico, India, Panama, Malaysia, Iraq, Nigeria, Tanzania, Australia, Pakistan, Romania…it’s been a really fabulous opportunity and I look forward to our transition to competency-based education at the college. If I write anything (and I still am not disciplined enough) it will be about the diversity of the people I work with. The government of the UAE is, I believe, doing their best to leverage the wealth that oil has brought them, and they are doing their best to diversify their economy. Of course, the road to where they want to go is bumpy, and seat belts are fastened. So far, everything I see here is forward looking, especially from my view inside the college.

6. With that said, moving to Okinawa is somewhere on the horizon, but I’m wondering if I should try to crowdsource some cash so I can have an adventure in Rwanda, first… there are still a lot of teachers who need guidance, and I wonder if there’s a place for me in or around Kigali. What do you think?