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+

My Master’s Thesis artifact

Dug up this old doc. You can click on the links to the right, but you might have to scroll a little up or down for it to make sense. Good luck. This is the HTML version of the Independent Professional Project


Last Update: December 17, 1996
Things that will be added when I get around to it:
  • Simple digitized graphix from the original shoot.
  • Background Music
  • The ability to add nodes to the story so that others can write parts that they want to change
    Your name is Trixie and you decide to go to the Brattleboro Latchis Theater to see “Lost Memories,” the latest film by your favorite star, Rex Darling. You have also heard that he will be there LIVE and IN PERSON!! You don’t know exactly how to get to the movie theater though, because it has been a long time since Rex was in town. You jump into your car and drive off, hoping to find the theater. You remember that the theater is in
    the Northeast part of Brattleboro town. At a stop light, you notice a street sign:

    Left, to the shopping mall.

    Straight Ahead.

    Right, to city hall.


    [ About Lost Memories] [Return to IPP ]

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    Lost Memories
    by Lawrence B. Davies
    Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997

    Return to the Title Page


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    You turn left and come to a sign:

    You go another few blocks and see another sign: What now?



    Take a left.

    Straight ahead.

    Take a right.


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    You continue straight ahead. Soon you see another sign:

    It’s a very nice sign. As you drive past, you enjoy the warm air. You come to another sign:
    ——>

    Which way do you turn?

    Turn around, to Brattleboro.

    Right, to highway 9.


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    You go to the City Hall. You reach a large public area. There are many people around. There is a Jazz band playing in the center of the park. You look around. There is a fat man in sunglasses, reading a magazine and standing on a corner. You also see a woman sitting near a sign that says “TRAVEL INFORMATION.” You want to get to the movie
    theater fast.

    What do you do?




    Go to the man in the sunglasses.

    Listen to the jazz band.

    Go to the woman under the sign.


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    You go in the direction of the bank, you are lost. You see a friendly young man on the corner, you pull your car over and walk up to him.

    What do you say?





    Hi, how are you?

    Excuse me…

    Where is the theater?


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    You turn to the shopping mall. You drive a few more blocks and then see another sign:

    What do you do?





    Turn left, to the bank.

    Go straight, to the shopping mall.

    Turn around, to city hall.


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    After awhile, you look around and notice a sign:

    Which way do you go?





    Turn left.

    Straight ahead.

    Make a right.


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    You turn right. Soon you are on a highway. The wind blows through your hair. The sun warms your skin. You turn on the radio. You’re going 120 kilometers per hour. Great! What a beautiful day! Then, you hear a loud sound and look in your mirror. It’s a police car, and a voice is saying “Pull over NOW!!” You have to go to jail for driving too fast! And you will miss Rex! Oh well.

    Try again at the beginning.

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    You go to the fat man. He looks at you. “Excuse me,” you say to him. He doesn’t answer. He looks at you. You say hello again. He says nothing. “Excuse me,” you say, shaking his shoulder. He holds his chest, falls to the ground and rolls on his back. His
    tongue hangs from his mouth. His eyes bulge out of his face. omewhere a woman screams.
    The Jazz band stops playing. People run to where you and the man are. Someone yells, “What happened, what happened?”

    This is bad…

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    You get out of your car and listen to the band. Ahh! Isn’t that Jazz wonderful? Can you feel the music? Do you remember what you were doing before you started to
    listen to the Jazz?

    Please start again at the beginning.

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    You go to the woman under the sign. “May I help you?” she asks.

    What do you do?



    Ask her for directions.

    Say “Where are you from?”


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    “Hi, how are you?” you say to the young man. “Fine.” he says, and he waves as he walks around the corner.

    You are very confused, perhaps you said the wrong thing to try to get his attention.

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    “Excuse me,” you say. The young man looks at you. He puts his hand up to his ear and cups it. “Eh?” he answers. He looks confused. You think for a moment and say:



    Excuse me.

    Hi, How are you?


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    “Where’s the movie theater?” you ask. The young man looks at you. “Lady!” he says, and laughs, “It’s not faaaar!…not at all…Just go that way for two blocks…twoooo blocks…and you’ll find the City hall…ya got that miss?…yeah, the City Hall!” He looks a bit tired. “Then…” he continues, “When you get to the City hall… yeah… just look for a sign that says highway 5. Then look around…look around…look for a fat man…a fat man who is holding a magazine about cigars… HAHAH…, he wipes his wet mouth, sniffs loudly, pulls a handkerchief out of his pocket and blows his nose.

    He disappears around a corner mumbling “City Hall!”

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    You drive down the road toward the shopping mall. Soon, many men on motorcycles are following you. They all have smiles on their faces. When you stop at a red light, they surround your car. One man, a very large and ugly looking fellow, comes up to your window yelling “What do you want?”

    What do you do now?



    Ask him for directions.

    Drive through the red light.


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    A large crowd of people is coming together. You can hear some people saying “Murderer!” A large policewoman comes from the middle of the crowd. “What have you done?” she asks. You decide you have two choices:



    Run for your car. Perhaps no one will see you.

    Explain what happened. The man had a heart attack.


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    You ask for directions. The woman says, “drive three blocks east and turn left at West 4th Street. Then, go two blocks north to South Street.
    Turn left on East 6th Street, because north South Street is one way going west. You’ll be on mid South Street, which is just before south North Street, which is where the movie
    theater is, between the south branch of the Western Corporation and the east branch of Northeast Industries.”

    “Have a nice day.”

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    “Where are you from?” you ask the woman. She looks at you, but says nothing. Again you ask, “Where are you from?” Again she is silent and looks confused.

    You don’t know what to do so you get back in your car and drive away.

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    “Excuse me,” you say again and ask for directions. The man looks at you, then says, “Sure. Go down this road for three blocks, and turn right. Then after two more blocks, it’s on your left.

    You thank him and…

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    You drive for three blocks. Finally, the movie theater is a left turn and you’re there. REX! You begin to
    dream of the two of you dancing under the stars. Champagne, fine food, and the ocean. You begin to turn left, but then think that maybe you should turn right. Or maybe it’s
    another block straight ahead. Now you’re confused again, but you…

    Turn right!!

    No, no! It’s to the left?


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    You roll down your window. “Excuse me…” you say, “I’m lost. Can you tell me how to get to the movie theater?” The very very large and ugly man puts his mouth to your
    ear. “SAY THAT AGAIN,” he screams.

    What do you do now?



    Ask him for directions.

    Run through the red light.


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    You drive around turning left, right and going straight, but you forgot the
    directions.

    You might miss Rex…

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    You run, but you don’t get very far. The policewoman jumps on you from behind. Later, in court, your testimony is thrown out. You are charged with murder and
    sentenced to life in prison.

    You really have to be careful around these parts.

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    You explain what has just happened. The fat man stands up. “JUST JOKING!!” he says and the crowd goes away. You don’t think it’s very funny. You get in your car.
    Where is that movie theater?

    You stop at a stop sign.

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    You turn right and go two blocks. THERE IT IS ON YOUR LEFT! THERE’S
    REX. ISN’T HE HANDSOME! WOW! WHAT FUN, WHAT EXCITEMENT, WHAT A WONDERFUL WAY TO SPEND THE DAY, REX SEES YOU AND YOU EVEN TALK TO HIM! CONGRATULATIONS!

    YOU DID IT!

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    You go through the red light. The men follow you. You go through different parts of town. The men are getting closer. Look! On your left! It’s the THEATER!! THERE’S REX!! But, you can’t stop. The motorcycles are right behind you. You continue to drive. The gang catches you and breaks your windows. You drive into a lamp post. You miss Rex and spend a long time in the hospital recovering from your bad experience. Better luck next time.

    Try again at the start.

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    Thanks for playing. Send comments to lbd@gol.com

    Return to first card

    Title Page
  • MINNESOTA

    Mongolia’s calling!
    Is Nepal far behind?
    Norway is glowing!
    (the) Netherlands teach sublime!
    Ethiopia is growing!
    South Africa‘s kept to the time.
    Oh Uruguay stop your stalling!
    The United States still in its prime.
    Australia and New Zealand dance away the night.


    Written July, 1996. Forest Grove, Oregon. For my Guardian Angel.

    euLoGy

    The first girl I danced with…
    It was awkward. I
    Remember her laugh – young, fearful, hopeful –
    A great exploration about to begin.
    So much human jungle ahead.
    A 12-year-old’s giggle, a gold prospector’s shovel,
    Brush, pan to dip to let the water sieve through, in nugget anticipation.

    We touched, always tentative, my arm around her waist.
    There was music. There were other stumbling dancing couples.
    Our dance was short. Then we were on our way.

    I remember her name. Not the music.
    Not what happened next.

    She’s long passed. Cancer got her.
    Pretty sure she married in those 40 years – had kid-nuggets– found her way
    Through the jungle. I honestly don’t know.

    Our story was barely a pan-dip.
    The laugh. Her waist.
    Her waste.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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”.

    September Sung (2001, just after 9/11)

    “Oh it’s a long, long time/from May to December”

    The evening of September 10th, 2001, I lay on my back in the dark. I was on a secluded beach, barely 1/2 a mile long, on Tioman Island, Malaysia. The island is a two-hour speedboat ride due east off the southeastern tip of peninsular Malaysia. Take a few moments if you will, to locate the country on a map somewhere and see if you see the island. It’s shaped like a bowling pin.

    I can wait. Please, do me this favor and find the island.

    OK? Let’s continue then.

    Tioman is so far away from any city center that sure enough, as I had suspected, I was able to gaze up into the heavens, as I had many times and many years before when I served my country in the United States Peace Corps in Kenya. A lot of good memories flowed within and through me as I looked again at our glorious home called the Milky Way, and I could see where we on Earth are positioned within this galaxy, and I could remember again what tiny place I occupied in this universe of ours. I stared deep into that inky blue sky, savoring what might be my last chance to find such a remote place for a long time. The tide was out, and the waves provided the background music, while the salt air moved in and out of my body. I thought a lot about how good my life was, that I had a loving wife and beautiful daughter and that I could share good and bad times with them through my journey on earth. My view of the night sky was relatively unobstructed, as the waning moon would not come out until I was deeply sequestered in sleep in my air conditioned “chalet” that lie just 10 meters behind me as I gazed up. What was really exciting about that night was the anticipation of seeing a shooting star again. Our home, Earth, is showered daily with bits of ancient rock that find their way to our outer atmosphere, then, in a beautiful brief moment, they penetrate the atmosphere and tumble burning until they are vaporized. If you are good at using your peripheral vision, you can catch a star for the fraction of a second that it takes to burn up. If you are very lucky, you might even get a single second burn-up, or, for the very luckiest, a two-second show. A unique thing about this is that you are probably the only person on earth who gets this show at this particular moment, as if it’s a special gift, just for you…

    That evening, though, I wasn’t alone. I had just finished the second of a two-day vacation there, with my good friends Julie and Ali Hassan (not their real names), and their good friends, another married couple Pesha and Abudu (not their real names, either), a nice young pair in their own right. At 39, I am a good 6 years older than Ali, who is the oldest of the four. They are all UK educated Malays with respectable jobs (Ali works for the Ministry of Education and I met him here in Hakodate Japan. Julie is a teacher. Pesha works for the formula 1 circuit in Malaysia and Abudu is a uni professor turned advertising man). They are, by Malaysian standards, upper middle class, though their income compared to US or Japanese standards, is quite small. I invited them to this special show on the beach, because, as Abudu had said…what are we gonna do without TV?!?! He said this in a half joking matter, but all of them are children of the media age, more than I. Ali loves his Playstation 2, and I brought him a popular game unavailable in Malaysia, but easy to get here in Japan.

    The night sky induced a state of semi-dreaminess in the five of us as we lay there. A long silence was split by Pesha, who asked where the moon was. I said that it would be coming out later in the night. In a surprised voice, she said to me “how do you know that?” and my answer, after thinking back to my Kenya experience, was “I just know.”

    I didn’t really realize how much Kenya was in me. One thing I learned there was the pulsation of the moon. I pretty much know whether the moon is waxing or waning. I pretty much know it’s cycle of rising later as it wanes and earlier as it waxes. I love seeing the crescent of the new moon, too. It reminds me a lot of the small ornament on top of the Witu village Mosque. Seeing the crescent is one of the most magical parts of moon watching, almost as if being present at the birth of a new child. Living in that darkness in Kenya made me appreciate the short life that we all have, and makes me live each day as if it might be the last. Work hard, play hard, love hard…the human condition.

    After being on our backs in that inky, milky darkness in a half dream state for about 30 minutes of the greatest of all TV shows, the four of them decided to turn in for the night. Our trip back to Kuala Lumpur the next day would consist of a two-hour boat ride back to the mainland, followed by a six-plus hour bus ride, so they wanted to get their beauty sleep. I, however, took pleasure that I could be in solitude with the Milky Way for a few minutes longer, free of all the stresses of everyday life, and the eventuality of returning back to Japan to work. I took my time, hoping to glance a passing satellite, and follow it on its lonely journey across the face of the sky..but no luck. A few airplanes whispered across at 35,000 feet, and their blinking red and white lights heralded their passing, transporting people and families from one experience to the next through the secret night. I looked up again at the Milky Way splotched like a faint cloud behind most of the other distant specs of light dotting the sky. I looked at Pink-brown Venus, our next door neighbor, the brightest light in that night sky. It was so peaceful and beautiful. There I was again: standing tangent to the earth, waiting to leave the gravitational pull and drift into and through that vast expanse of gas and dust from which we all have come and must return. I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget my time in Kenya…or those brief 48 hours on Tioman, where I got to see a Kodomo dragon slink away into the bush, a truly giant, and disappearing, species of lizard unique to the region.

    “But the days grow short, when you reach September”

    The next day, September 11th was different. It consisted of a two-hour ride on a larger boat. I shot some video of my four friends, and they made fun of me and we all had a good laugh. We ate cookies and chips and drank our bottled water. We waved at a few ships of the Singapore Navy resting at Tioman before pursuing, in conjunction with the Malaysian Navy, the South China Sea pirates, who roamed the area southeast of Tioman. We watched as we passed by islets tinier than the 6 mile by 2 mile Tioman. I dreamed of building a secluded house with a giant NO TRESSPASSING sign on one of the tiny drops of rock outcropping and establishing the Republic of Larry, population 3, and 3 cats. It was a nice fantasy. We arrived at the jetty town and waited another two hours for the bus. I did some quick email to people, bought some little gifts and said farewell to Tioman. During the sleepless six hour bus ride back to KL, I played a game that Ali had beamed me through his Palmtop, a game called “helicopter rescue”.

    “When the autumn weather/turns the leaves to flame/ One hasn’t got time/for the waiting game”

    In the game, I was the daring helicopter pilot, rescuing good guys who were jailed up and guarded by bad guys and their rockets, missles, tanks, planes and all sorts of bad guy things. I could advance to the next round by rescuing at least 9 of my 12 compatriots. I had six hours to play the game on the bus. There were so many maneuvers to learn in those six hours. The copter rising from the ground, fast forward, slow forward, hover, slow backward, fast backward, shoot straight, drop a bomb while hovering, safe takeoff, safe landing. I would lose a guy if they shot down my helicopter, or if I landed in the improper position. There was a line in the game that I could pass which was the safe zone. The enemy planes couldn’t shoot me if I were past that line. My little stick guys would rush out of the copter and into the headquarters building if I landed safely in my safe zone. I could only help four at a time, and had to return through hostile territory to help the others to safety. I worked my way up to being able to rescue 12 guys in each of three rounds before my three helicopter lives were used up. In six hours, I managed a score of over 1000 points.

    At one point during the game, we stopped to rest for thirty minutes at a roadside rest stop. Malaysia has better than Interstate quality roads these days. They are 4 lane divided highways with large shoulders that band up and down the western side of the peninsula. The rest area was full of Chinese Restaurants and background music of Malaysian Pop Bands played REALLY LOUD. The bands were trying their best to imitate American pop bands, I suppose, and they pretty much sounded like them, only they sung in Bahasa Malaysia, the Malay language or in Chinese. I bought a mask from Sarawak, which is on the Island of Borneo across the South China Sea. There had been some ethic killings on Sarawak recently. People getting decapitated and whatnot nonsense. It’s a cheap tourist mask, to be sure, but I like the colors and patterns, and I’m collecting masks now that I bought one on my trip to Bali, the Hindu enclave in the world’s largest Muslim nation, in 1999. That was it for the bus ride. We got back to KL, said goodbye to Petra and Abudu, who disappeared back into the city of 2 million, and took the subway to a taxi and back to Julie and Ali’s. I showered off all that salt water, and dressed for my looming airplane ride: brown slacks and a long sleeve button down greenish shirt. Airplanes get cool and dry on long routes, and I was scheduled for a six and a half hour redeye commencing from 1:20AM on the 12th.

    “The days dwindle down/to a precious few”

    My bags packed and my body and mind refreshed, we went to an outdoor restaurant in the late evening. It consisted of stalls selling Indian, Iranian and Malay specialties. There were about 40 tables under a covered area. The menu signs were all in English, my favorite one said “we guarantee you fast service, no matter how long it takes!” Most of the signs, though, I couldn’t read as they were in Arabic. Most likely passages from the Koran, I assumed. I had some tandoori chicken and butter chicken with a scrumptious bit of roti bread, round, fat and very nice, to sop up all that buttery oil and curry. To top it all off, I had a mango lassi served, incredibly, in one of those two and a half liter beer steins you see if you drink in a beer hall anywhere in Germany. There was no way I could finish it. At the table next to us were two guys, one a Malay and the other, his friend, looked of Chinese extraction. It was gratifying to see, really, that Malaysia is a multi-linugal, multi-cultural society where freedom of religion is a very important part of the country, despite the rise of Muslim fundamentalism in some of the poorer northern parts of the peninsula. They were chatting in English to each other on this sultry night. Julie , Ali and I were all a bit tired from our trip to Tioman. Then, the Malay guy’s cellphone rang, most folks here have Nokias…they are everywhere and they are all manufactured here these days, along with most computers and hi tech stuff. We tried to ignore him as he talked, but he kept saying something about how first one plane hit, then another hit in the other building. Anyway, we were finished eating that delicious food, so I paid and we left…I had a cab to catch to the airport, which was still another hours’ drive away from where we were.

    We drove over to Julie’s aunt and uncle’s house. They lived in a luxurious apartment in a part of KL where all the embassies are. The richest and most sumptuous part of town. Needless to say, Julie’s uncle is a very successful businessman. I was surprised, because I had met her aunt a week earlier, though I didn’t know it at first. The aunt had given me a ride to the Petronas towers, the second tallest towers in the world (China now has the tallest tower, in Shanghai, I think), which contains a gigantic, American style, American class shopping mall, all of six floors and possibly over 150 shops, including a 12 theater cineplex where I saw Kubrick/Speilberg’s A.I. for 3 US bucks. A.I. is set in a fictional futuristic New York City. The reason I didn’t recognize the aunt at first was that her head was uncovered. She wasn’t wearing the head covering that most devout Moslem Women wear in Malaysia, probably because she wasn’t out in public and maybe hadn’t expected us. She had beautiful long black hair, with heavy accents of gray, for she was, after all, somewhere in her early 60’s. Seemed a pity to keep that beautiful head of hair covered up, but that was her belief. I wondered why Julie never wore one, but her generation is obviously more liberal in its tolerance system. As we came in to the apartment, they led us to sit down and switched on the TV. They put CNN on. That’s when I saw first one plane hit, then another hit in the other building. Within 5 minutes, it was time for me to get into the cab for the drive to the airport. I stood outside with Julie, Ali, the aunt and uncle. My body was shaking. It was about midnight in KL, exactly 12 hours later than the real, non-A.I. N.Y.C. I shook Julie’s uncle’s hand, it was warm and firm. The aunt let me shake her hand, too. I said goodbye to Ali and tried to shake Julie’s hand, but she gave me a hug instead. I almost forgot to wave goodbye as the cab pulled away, because my body was still shaking. I tried to fix their four faces in my mind as I left. They were smiling, and I was smiling, or I imagine I was smiling, I can’t remember.

    “September/November!”

    As I drove to KL International Airport, I couldn’t think of anything. We drove by the two towers, the Petronas towers. They were standing, the second tallest buildings in the world, the tallest twin towers in the world, encircled on several floors with beautiful lights, which nevertheless paled in comparison to Tioman’s magical milky way light show, but still, beautiful for their manmade attempt to recreate nature’s profound glory. The darkened highway was empty and we zoomed at 120kph, past Mosques silhouetted against the night sky, past neon signs in Chinese, Malay and English, with the occasional Tamil sign here and there, for there is also an Indian minority here. Just inside the lobby of the airport, again, were huge televisions, all tuned to CNN, and all surrounded by people watching first one plane hit, then the other hit the other building. I went to the toilet, which was situated next to a small prayer room for Muslims. My stomach was suddenly not so good. My appetite was gone. Later at the departure gate, I stood in line with the other Japanese returning to Nagoya. Next to our gate, we had to pass by a bunch of white South Africans heading back to Cape Town. Everyone boarding both flights was getting patted down in a newly meticulous search. First the arms, then the back torso and back legs, then the front torso and finally the front legs. I was asked to open all of my bags that I was carrying on the plane. I had to open a box of three clay cups I had bought for my family in the Petronas Towers mall a few days earlier. I had to unzip every pocket in my camera case, and pull out my video camera and show them that my telephoto lens was a telephoto lens. Then, as I entered the plane, I had to show my passport again, with its gold embossed cover, eagle with the thirteen olive leaves in one claw and thirteen arrows in the other claw, inky blue on the cover, like the night sky of Tioman. “Passport” above the eagle and “United States of America” in italics underneath the eagle. Then we, me and a plane full of Japanese and the sprinkling of Malays (the pilots, too, Malay as this was Malaysian Airlines) went shaking, or singing, up into the milky way obscured sky, turned to the northeast, I could see out of the left window seat near the rear of the plane those two towers again, such tall towers they were, twin towers, among the tallest in the world. Then, those two towers had passed away.

    “And these few precious days/I’ll spend with you. These precious days I’ll spend with you.”

    *Quoted lyrics from “September Song” Weill and M. Anderson

    Glossary of Comments

    For your convenience: a glossary of Dr. Larry-isms (I paid 70k for those damn two letters, let me have my vanity!), aka, my favorite ways to make quick notes or comments on shit that scrolls through the FB feed. BTW, fuck Zuck and fuck FB, but this is my only soapbox so there’s that. Make sure you print this out and tape it to the front of your computer / tablet / smart device for your reference. Print it out now before you read it. Stop stalling and print the damn thing…you know copy/paste into something and hit print. That color laser printer in the corner needs some use. If you want, color each point below a different color for variety, and you know, all that printer ink just sitting there. Jeez, go on eat some cheetos too, but watch out there’s onion powder in ’em. Or just watch this, instead, do I need to tell you everything?

    Accurate – something that is way the fuck true. So true that you don’t even have time to shave. So true that that Japanese curry just needs a little more red chili powder so the burn in your mouth extends beyond each spoonful, although, hell yeah that piece of meat is better consumed via those aluminum chopsticks you just bought a few weeks back. So true that Patsy Cline and Lynyrd Skynyrd and Buddy Holly and Jane Russell would approve. So true that even Robert Mugabe would concede that everyone being a multi-mega-trillionaire just wasn’t helping.

    This was real.

    Current Mood (and variations) – OMG I’m so fucking happy to have added a new pattern into my repertoire. Happy New Year 2020! A NEW DECADE! Just there’s literally a bug in the system and it has literally given us pause to gauge our mood. Shit, what’s gonna happen next? Is this just a 30-minute sitcom that will have resolution? OK, actually 22 minutes because of the fucking marketers…

    Kill yourselves. No, seriously.

    A pause! A time to reflect! I mean, yeah, I grew up on sitcoms, so everything should be resolved quickly. Who isn’t having mood swings right now? Among all my FB brethren and sisthren there are the pray-ers, the drink-ers, the meme-ers, the political-ers, and the ones I least understand, those who keep it strictly personal with photos of their dogs and cats and living room furniture. Well fuck all that, I’m gonna cuss because there’s empirical research showing I’m a goddamn genius for doing so. Moody? Foody? Goody? Broody? This one I’m gonna milk for a very very long time.

    FramingGeorge Lakoff. George Lakoff. George Lakoff. George Orwell. George Orwell. George Orwell. Lev Vygotsky. Lev Vygotsky. Lev Vygotsky. What do a modern day linguist, an anti-fascist fighter in the Spanish Civil War, and a Soviet educational psychologist have in common? Language is a way to make sense of a world where there’s no sense, until you dig down and see how language itself has been used and is still being used to bend minds, and souls, and morality, and pineapple on pizza. As a language teacher who has always paid attention to the “whose English, exactly, are we teaching?” debate, and keeping in mind Orwell’s lament of the death of hundreds of other languages as the worst legacy of colonialism and hegemony… well shit…sticks and stones may break your bones, but you are fucking wrong to think names will never hurt you, moron. STAY THE FUCK INSIDE.

    Kwaheri – Kwaheri is Swahili for “Goodbye”. Straws aren’t destroying the earth, corporations are, and we are all complicit. Dire predictions, animal extinctions, stuff lost forever, like tears in rain … it’s all kwaheri, though it used to be adios.

    I used to smoke these`kabisa mabibi na mabwana! No really I did.

    Pearls – (found in many different phrased ways). Clutch clutch clutch. Remember, in these times, there is no bottom. None. NONE. Almost every day something even lower happens. Because of this new given, nothing that happens from this moment forward should surprise you. Those who want to see the world burn are also dragons, sitting on their piles of gold, the worst hoarders of all, and we are supposed to admire their success. Well, you know what? Framing. The rest of us are their servants in one way or the other. Deep inside me there’s an optimist, but like that speck of dirt that causes oysters to secrete whatever the fuck they secrete to form a pearl, that’s pretty much where I am personally. Also, I really was getting into the XFL because fuck the NFL. I will never learn, will I?

    PSA – Public Service Announcements are usually sometimes actual real important serious things…or they aren’t. If you know me and my sense of humor, you’ll be able to tell them apart. It’s really my shorthand for saying… do you really NOT have the basic common sense and decency that this post is flagging? What the ever living fuck is WRONG with you? I think it’s me being Calvin and ranting at all the injustices I PERSONALLY AM SUFFERING. It’s maybe the sociopath in me (I have strong genes in that area sherioshly). Anyway, it’s something that you should take note of.

    ZenUse this as reference
    Face it: the contradictions in the human condition baffle as much as they entertain. They make waffles as much as they use sump pumps on sailboats headed to St. Croix. You either try to connect it and control it, or you realize that all is well because nothing is under control. It’s why I’m a left-handed-ambidexterous Unitarian. Now go enjoy your snickers.

    Why? (2001, after 9/11)

    Down ahead of us at the junction
    There is a man standing, gesturing ambiguously
    What meaning he is attempting to communicate
    Can neither be told nor known exactly
    Though we are aboard this train, passengers by association
    We have forgotten its' destination
    (My Canadian friend emails
    About her recent visit to Auschwitz)
    
    We have forgotten a lot of things before us
    About that man standing, gesturing ambiguously
    And we have forgotten who
    Is at the control of the engine of this train
    A glance out of the train window and behind
    Reveals a dusty, ashen gray
    A conflagration of black and white and blood red and the blues
    A contamination of hate clouds the windows, obscures us from seeing
    
    The man's arms are moving
    But how to interpret the signal
    
    Puffs of smoke as if from a starters pistol
    But we defer untrained for these Olympics
    
    No dais to distinguish the
    1-2-3 (all aboard!)
    
    We lurch and I grasp the safety handle
    And pull toward me what is most important (my girls)
    And misty-eyed from fear and grief
    We hope beyond hope that this train won't move on (the horns sound)
    Toward that junction
    And on to the next gray, loveless destination

    Mr. Wonderful Faces The Gateway Arch – 9/20/2010 (A eulogy for my dad, in the form of a poem)

    Portrait of Stuart Davies
    Never mind the small apartment,
    Or the vermin infestation.
    Those things mattered little or not at all.
    He did not care - for such trifles.
    Ignoring. Ignored. Ignorant.
    No. The time came when Mr. Wonderful was obliged to find his way through to the
    Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri: The Gateway to the next world!

    Rather than walk, or drive, or take the train, or commute
    Everyday, he chose just a single trip to Missouri.
    My guess is, it was in the unmarked white panel van,
    Adorned with nothing at all, parked facing away from outside the crematorium.
    In fact, it’s not a guess.
    Nothing about Mr. Wonderful was left to guesswork: only the appearance of the
    Sadness that kept pulling him away from me, from us.

    By most accounts, his Art spoke for him.
    Unrepentantly unpracticed scribbles labelled “Green Eyes”, “The Red Lady”, “Self-Portrait”.
    Throwaway-able: one and all. “Professional Art”, Greg, his neighbor, said.

    Really, though, “Self-Portrait” expressed it well enough: a head with an
    Empty face. Greg and Jane and Brian, all explained it:
    Mr. Wonderful was charming, but ultimately you would notice,
    As always, him holding something away. His face: Expressionless-in-Practice.
    Isolating. Isolated. Isolation.
    Not once could he face it, face us; so my brother and I, we helped push him.
    St. Louis, Missouri - pushed his expressionless body through The Gateway to his next world.