I went to the Fair this saturday. Los Angeles County has quite a few redneck-type farmers. It was just like county fairs are supposed to be.

Except they had a Hollywood Section, where you got to meet stars of shows that you’ve never heard of.

But they had all kinds of animals. Goats and Pigs and Sheep and Cows and rabbits and chickens and everything!

The pigs were my favorite. I may have to tell a few pig stories later. I got to pet their hairy sides and wiggle the little piglets’ nose..They are so wonderful!

It was somewhat of a shock to pass an entire pig spitted and roasting at one of the BBQ stands. I had just been petting the little guys!

It made me wonder how they shave the pig before they roast it.

But there were a lot of interesting food items for sale. The usual caramel apples and popcorn and cotton candy were there. Also, Funnel cake and Pink’s hot dogs. The specialty this year was deep friend twinkies.

I abstained.


Of all the crazy things, East Timor appears to have chosen a new national language. Finnish.

I am thinking of The Swedish Chef, and I am thinking of Garrison Kiellor and the Prairie Home Companion. Finnish is a strange-sounding language, and it has no association with East Timor at all.

That is the point. It has no association with East Timor. I guess, from my broad base of ignorance about Finland, the Finns have had a history of minding their own business, and not raging about the world conquering things.

East Timor has a history of other people minding THEIR business and conquering THEM. They are tired of it. So many terrible things have been done to them, a quick glance through the web pages about East Timor shows up sites all about “help them!”

They’ve been trampled on by a lot of colonizing countries, and none of the world’s major languages hold good memories for them. Newly their own country, the officials are making decisions about what language to use, and they do not choose to use the language of their oppressor.

Their own language has become fragmented. They have not had the chance to cohese, under the dividing forces of colonialism.

They chose Finnish.

I see a kind of tragedy in their choice, and a heroism, too. They’ve been mistreated, and they choose to step away from those atrocities.

Language is incredibly important; it is the bearer of culture. If they chose the language of their oppressors, they are choosing also the culture that fostered that oppression. But the East Timorese say: no! no more and not for us. we will be something other than that.

Colonialism is a force and an influence which is hard to understand, especially if you are on the colonizers side. We Americans are a colonial power. We were not the first, there are many. So many, that the shadow of colonialism is cast over the whole globe.

It is time to realize it, and begin to come to terms with recctifying the situation. We must examine our heart and our attitudes to purge hurtful assumptions about others and ourselves.

I don’t know if the East Timorese will stay with their Finnish language program, but I admire their choice. They have chosen the language, and therefore the culture of a non-colonial power. They know the harm colonialism can bring, and they want out. More power to them.


Well, This is a special day.

Six months ago, TODAY, this wonderblog was born. My first blog post on my first blog was six months ago.

AND, because I am nerdy, I went back and counted. There are more than 80 posts in that time. I’ve done a good job of updating my blog pretty frequently. I’m proud of what I’ve done.

I wanted to say thank you, to my small cadre of readers…Some of whom I don’t know at all, which thrills me tremendously. I know that I’m hardly a top hit of the internet, but even the fact that a few people are interested enough to read what I write makes it very worthwhile. If any of my readers would like to email a response or question, I would be pleased to reply.

This has turned out to be a very worthwhile endeavor for me. I feel sure that it will be around for another six months, and be even better.

Stay tuned, and happy anniversary to me!


THE HOURS by Michael Cunningham

There were two things that immediately put me on my guard with this book. One, the book was a takeoff on Mrs. Dalloway, and I don’t have a high regard for takeoffs. Second, the author is a male writing about the interior lives of women which is suspect. I decided to wait and see what Cunningham had to offer, and make my assessment after I finished.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolfe expanded the significance of a single day into an entire novel. The Hours, by Michael Cunningham, takes the significance of the novel Mrs. Dalloway and tracks it across the lives of several people, still keeping the temporal window of a single day.

It’s not the same day, though. He tracks Mrs. Woolfe, Mrs. Brown and Clarissa, women of different generations, during their significant day. He manages to show how the novel has affected each woman in her own time. It is an interesting twist on Woolfe’s original work.

I remember reading Mrs. Dalloway, and thinking that it was not a long book, but that it was something I should probably read twice to get it’s meaning. I did not read it twice. Perhaps I will read it again now.

Woolfe’s novel highlights the importance of a single point in time. One of the things I took away from the book was a sense of Virginia trying to say, trying to write, trying to impress upon the reader every single impression of the characters. Every day, every MOMENT is filled past capture with sensory experiences and cognitive reaction to that experience. It is as if she wanted to capture the entirety of what a day is for the people that live in it. There is an inexhaustible fullness of joy in every moment; there is a sorrow in the passing time as well. Her sad Septimus was not able to cope with his allotted hours, the past, present or future moments which made up his life. It was too much for him.

Cunningham’s The Hours expands and savors the moments, as well. It seems that his selection of title comes from that emphasis. He has beautiful turns of phrases, capturing feeling and sensation and emotion elegantly. He put a window to the hearts and minds of the women in the book; it made me wonder how he knew. He must be very empathetic, or have some excellent female friends to share with him. It’s still a little studied, not the organic expression that Woolfe could convey.

The Hours is well worth reading. It is leisurely and lovely, and it made me notice my own moments a little more.


I am sitting in a journalism class, which I have already mentioned. The teacher has been talking about the importance of keeping a source’s anonymity, and of course, is talking about deep throat.

We need some new famous anonymous people, here. What’s up with that? By the time everyone kicks the bucket and deep throat’s identity is revealed, no one will care.

I probably will not recognize the name, since I hate the news anyway.

But I am sitting here in front of an iMac. That’s what I’m wrting this on. Can you hear the accent? goodness gracious, it’s a juicy blue one, too, almost the color of Crest Gelpaste…Mmmm…Minty!

I am told that simply ALL the newspapers use Apple computers.

Ugh. I thought I left that behind. This silly little iMac is already proving annoying. I was unable to find the tool that lets me create a link to the previous blog where I talk about my journalism class.


perhaps I am just bitching. Not being able to find a tool doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist…

My brother (hi~!) was a Mac-aroni from the beginning. He started out in desktop publishing and so my first experience with computers (not counting the wind-up tandy color computer, that really hardly COUNTS, especially since my brothers hogged it anyway) is with the mac. The FIRST mac.

Finally, as a wise and discerning adult, I discovered PCs and Windows.

It was beautiful. I am quite happy with my computer. It does EVERYTHING i want it to do, and I don’t have to save my word documents in an RTF format.


that was a pointless rant, based on the fact that I am sitting in class being bored. I’m sure I added nothing to the holy war being raged by the Mac-ophiles against the mostly uninterested PC users.

If I become a famous journalist some day, i may have to use an iBook.
I suppose fame has its price.

Dostoevsky, Anarchists, and Al Qaeda

Dostoevsky, Anarchists, and Al Qaeda

Cross Posting at Blogcritics

More than anything, Crime And Punishment seems to be about what the characters are thinking. Not necessarily in an inner-monologue kind of way, definitely not stream-of-consciousness, but what their ideas are.

The characters have beliefs and ideals and IDEAS. The ideas are more important to the main character than any reality that exerts itself upon him.

He seems startled when a reality that does not conform with his ideas presents itself. That’s not so surprising, I’ve experienced it and seen others experience it. When you believe something to be true, it is hard to assimilate new evidence to the contrary.

I am sure that I would not have understood this novel if I had not also bee reading The Proud Tower by Barbara Tuchman. This book is about the cultural climate right before WWI. I haven’t finished it yet, but I had gotten to the part where she discusses the anarchist movement, AKA the communist movement. The people who were involved in this movement were taking it upon themselves to attempt assassinations, with some successes, of the ruling class. They seemed to act with terrifying randomness, because their IDEA said all rulers were bad, and needed to be brought down.

For the anarchists, there was no allowance for personality in a ruler. It was incidental if they were benevolent, and in no way saved them from attacks. The position, regardless of who occupied it, needed annihilation. Murder was not wrong, when it was correcting the evil of the ruling class.

The anarchists were not in the majority, even among those who were acting against the contemporary powers-that-be. Socialists and Unionizers were associated with the anarchists, but only a very few acted on their ideas.

So, of course, it is easy to see the parallels between the picture Tuchman drew of these idealists and Raskolnikov. He wanted to prove himself as a man of genius, above such petty moral considerations. He is motivated by his ideas about the world, and ignores realities of the world. A college drop-out, who mopes in his room, neglects to eat. And, of course, murders an old woman based on his principles.

Dostoevsky seemed to be bringing the reader through the experience of Raskolnikov in order to show the consequences, the “Punishment.” As seductive as some ideas seem, there is a reality which must be reckoned with. Our rationalization of theories and ideas is fine as far as it goes, but there is a standard to measure against. We may not recreate the world according to our ideas.

Of course, the times being what they are, I could not help but see a similarity between the turn-of-the-century idealists and the modern ones. I read the stories of the anarchists who murdered in the name of their beliefs. I saw how their zealot faith led them to an inevitable conclusion. And I remembered a certain group of men who hijacked some planes.

Wrong. When interacting with the universe, humility is required. You will not convince the world that you are right, and make it change. Not like that. The laws of the universe always get the final world: “Because I said so!” We must bend our minds to their forms, always and forever. There are consequences and reactions for our actions; and there is usually something that has been overlooked in the grand IDEA.

Raskolnikov had to understand how moral laws worked. Dostoevsky did a really good job of showing the complexities of his thoughts and experience. It isn’t simple.

Neither is the book. It’s long and often seemingly pointless. But it’s worth reading, and unexpectedly timely.


There was a fire across the street from my bus stop this morning.

I noticed it first because of the huge black plume of smoke. Actually, I noticed it before I noticed it. I thought it was foggy outside, and I was worried that the bench would be too wet to sit on. Then I noticed the pillar of smoke.

Since I was still stupefied from being up too early, I didn’t realize that the smoke was unusual. I just thought it was from a smokestack. Then I thought, hey, there’s no smokestack on that building. Which is when I saw the fire.

It was burning in a grove of trees by the highway. The orange glow flickered through the black outlines of the trees growing between me and the flames. It seemed rather small, especially when compared to the multi-acre fires we’ve been used to this year. I watched it for a while before I thought, should I call the fire department?

There were a few men in the parking lot across the street, they were closer to the fire. I thought they must have called, since they were obviously watching it. But it was quiet, and time dragged on with no sirens. I became suspicious and wondered if those people were the ones who had set the fire.

There are crazies out there, you know.

If I’d had my phone with me, I would have called. I’ve never called 911 before, it would be a good thing to know how to do, in case of emergency. But this was an emergency. There was a fire across the street.

I’d had a fire near my house before, at a nasty slummy place I lived in Anchorage. The building over burned down. We all got out on the balconies and watched it. But the trucks were already on the scene.

I was waiting for the bus, and I was concerned because it was late already. I had an important meeting at work I didn’t want to be late for. But there was a fire burning. What if no one called 911? In my sleep deprived state, I just watched it burn. I was reminded of how much I love the smell of woodsmoke. It always reminds me of fall in Alaska.

But this wasn’t a fire in a woodstove. What if it raged and I ignored it, because I needed to go to work?

That’s what’s wrong with the world today. People don’t care. Maybe I should go inside and call the fire department.

It seemed like an eternity before the trucks appeared. But they did blare up the road, and let me off the hook.

After they fire was put out, wispy flakes of ash began to rain on me.


I got a chance to see the works of Thomas Struth this week at the Museum of Modern Art here in downtown LA. I made a point of going to the MOCA , since I believe in the importance of art and art museums. It’s funny, I’ll go to huge lengths to spend an entire day at a museum when I travel, but if it’s nearby and convenient, I have trouble finding the time.

The MOCA is a small museum, which is good because I only had my lunch hour to see it. Also, the “contemporary art” title made me curious as to what I should expect. It’s funny, but you can’t call it “Modern” art anymore. Modern art is the art of a specific period, which, ironically, is in the PAST. Those who categorize and subdivide are soon going to run out of words.

But contemporary art right now means Thomas Struth, among others. His works on display were photographic. Big photographs. I’m concerned with three kinds of things he took pictures of:

Patches of jungle
Major City streets
People in museums looking at incredible art

In his jungle shots, there were no people, only plants. In this respect, Struth was the only human touch in the scene. The plants grew untamed in an order completely without human intervention. Struth’s choice of angle and lighting for his photograph was the only external influence upon the profusion of flora represented in the work.
The city views he photographed were the exact opposite. Every object in the frame was something created by humans. Sidewalks, streets, skyscrapers, billboards, streetlights, even the clothes on the passersby were all products of human choices and endeavor. And yet…The scene in total was more random than each individual choice. In the same way that each plant in the jungle photos sprung up according to it’s own needs and volition, it seemed as if each man-made object in these city scenes had sprung up out of distinct and different wills and desires. The scene was chaotic and conflicting, with different goals and philosophies expressed. The people walking through the streets all had their own purposes in mind, mostly unaffected and undeterred by their surroundings. There was not really an over-arching plan in the arrangement of these big and small objects, they sprang up according to desire and need.

The progression of subjects in these photographs from purely natural to purely man made reminded me of something…It wasn’t until I put it together with the photos of people in museums that I remembered…The aesthete movement in Victorian England.
Walter Pater started it, and Oscar Wilde finished it. “Art for art’s sake” was their slogan. As I remember it, Pater wrote up this whole argument that artistically refined art is the better.

Think: refined like sugar.

He said, Nature is beautiful, yes. Go out and receive the beauty of a sunset. But you might be disappointed. It would be better by far to go to a museum and observe a painting of a beautiful sunset. But if that is a better idea, then it might be even better to read a beautiful critical piece about the beautiful painting of a beautiful sunset.
The art critic’s piece would be beauty (aka art) processed, refined, three times. He rhapsodically concluded that it must therefore be the highest and best
I’m not making this stuff up. He had a lot of adherents in his day.

So the photos of the jungle are once processed, just nature turned into a photograph. The next one was cities, human-processed nature, turned into art.

But don’t stop there!

We now arrive at the photographs of people in museums looking at the art. Which is a little weird, because I was in a museum looking at photos of the people looking at art in a museum.

I think Pater would have been curling his toes in glee.

I was thinking of Puff Daddy. Are these photos the equivalent of remixes? Like in P. Diddy’s remixes, I was paying attention to the hook. Me and my friend kept commenting on the beautiful paintings in the photo. Of course! They were astounding and beautiful and all the things that we love to go to museums for.

What if there was a 99-cent museum gallery, with nothing in it but prints of great works of art? I bet we would enjoy it still.

Just a thought.

I’m still not sure about Struth. I respected the jungle and city shots, but I am uncertain about the museum shots. What was the originality of his product? How much of himself was he really adding?