Thursday, July 31, 2014

Malibu morning picture of the day - Thursday, July 31, 2014

Dear family, friends, and gentle readers,
Here's your picture of the day:

I guess I should call this one "Repetition #45" or something like that. The drought continues.

It's starting to be "Deer Week" here on the blog.  After slogging up the hill this morning I stumbled right in to the deer family. They didn't bolt and run for some reason; guess I'm starting to smell normal to them.

Those who follow my Tweets (@vway3) got this picture this morning.

This guy came up to join them after a couple minutes. Call it wimp-iness or old age, whenever I get this close to wild animals of nervous nature with horns on their heads I get uneasy. So I guess we were at a draw today. And yes, I was that close.

Hope you have a fine Thursday. I'm going to a church rummage sale in Malibu today. They do this every summer and give Pepperdine people a head-start day.  It's interesting to see what people in multi-million-dollar homes give to charity as junk.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Malibu morning picture of the day - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wednesday is here, and here is your picture:

If I were one to give every picture a name, I'd call this one "Dragon's Head Chasing Skin Diver" and I think the skin diver will lose unless the next upstroke is a dusie...

And here's the view just a few clicks to the right, getting away from the sun.

Another graduation is coming up and I'll be doing the job of reading names. I always like to put a call out to the grads that they call my voice mail and leave their name if people always get it wrong. And the mailbox is getting full.

One of my political science professors, a Greek emigre who had taught in many places around the world, told us that American roll calls are the hardest ones because the names are so wide-ranging. I had no idea I would be experiencing that phenomenon in such an applied fashion. Here are some of the more unique names that will occur on Saturday:

Some random orange plant life on campus,
included to break the text ...
Tomik Hambarsomian
Roshawn Helmandi
Quyen Nguyen
Czarina Goco Ofalla
Amanda Phuong Ly
Aleta Cherie Brochue
Piyawan Chantakasem
Armen D. Ekmekji
Birthe Lauchengco
Chieu Dihh Nguyen
Silvya Lyubomirova
Julie Tstatsoline
Hanaka Cordjee
Xianqi Shen
Ruihan Xue
Tatyana Vovchenko
Dauren Kabykenov
Sujata Haresh Israni
Kris Thuvamontolrat
Samuel Okechukwu Iwuajoku II

And there is not single "Smith" or "Jones" or "Johnson," but thankfully two "Garcias" (I'll at least get those two guys right...). My employer is sometimes accused of being not multicultural enough in its admissions. As the guy who's at the tail end of the process, the names do tell us something.

You may have not completed a degree by summer's end like these folks, but I hope you're working on something to check off in 2014. There are seven weeks of summer left, so there's time. Go do it.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Malibu morning picture of the day - Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Good Tuesday to you all, here's the coastal outlook this morning:

Clear today. No spooky clouds today. A nice layer of smog waiting to come back in with the inshore flow.

Right in the middle
Three in this one
When I left campus last night, there were some deer hanging out in the parking lot. Deer on this campus are like pigeons in Hollywood--not unusual, just part of the everyday landscape.

I am always amazed how you cannot see them except when they are moving, unless they are against the backdrop of concrete structures or wide areas of green grass.
Two here

 They are highly adapted to being invisible in areas of brown, yellow, and slight green. When you point a camera at them, they seem to disappear from your viewfinder, and so you just snap and then you find them later. No wonder they get hit by cars all the time.

His last picture: Crows in Wheat Field 
I'm sure he didn't give it a name...

Vincent Van Gogh died this day 124 years ago (from complications of a self-inflicted gunshot wound). I always got compared to him when I was young because I share the same first name and I painted pictures. There the similarity ends. No, I guess he was a Protestant too, and he had a good, supportive relationship with his brother Theo, as I have a good one with my brother Randy.

Happily, I am not prone to self-destruction but some would say that such unhappiness is not a bad thing to spur you on to finding essential things to say in your creative output. HOWEVER, most unhappy people I meet are not great artists. Most people I meet are not artists--great, good, or bad. But, you say, they're probably mostly all bad? Who knows? Most don't even try to make a creative statement. The true creative genius of unhappy people is that they're good at making more unhappy people.

Oh man, time to pay the rent ...

One more blue sky to try to pick you back up. What? Didn't work? T.S. Deal with it. Or go paint a painting or write a poem or ...


Monday, July 28, 2014

Malibu morning picture of the day - Monday, July 28, 2014

Dear Family, Friends, and Gentle Readers,

Some days it's all about clouds out here. I turned in all directions and it seemed like someone had a big ol' stick and was trying the stir everything...

Turned in four different directions and four different skies. It's weird that way sometimes. Couldn't pick just one, so have a look at all.

Have a wonderful start to your week.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Three Loves Seven, Chapter 16, Part 1 - "The Annotated 'How to Ask a Girl Out'"

Dear Gentle Readers,

How would you imagine a socially awkward and inept, middle-aged, bachelor engineer, who probably has not been on a date in years, explain to a bunch of girls young enough to be his daughters, how the American courtship and dating process works?

Over-thought is the word that comes to my mind. Actually a whole bunch of words came to mind; and that's Chapter 16 which will be split into two parts: the ask, and the date. Let's see, shall we?

Thanks for reading.


Reported Conversation recalling events of August 1 and 5, 2012
Interviewees: Ling, Nu, Xiao Mei
Report Taken: Friday, August 10, 2012

Qin Qin: I am now recording. I have asked the three of you, the 2nd Princesses of Water Element, Dragon of the East, and Wood Element, or Ling, Nu, and Xiao Mei to recall and reconstruct everything that was said in our role-play lessons on August 1 and August 6.
Nu: Now THAT was a lot of fun. Probably the most interesting one that the Professor devised.
Ling: You think so? The whole thing just made me SO nervous. And afraid to ever visit America.
Xiao Mei: Me too. I was trying so hard to concentrate on remembering every little thing. At least for our parts in it.
Nu: And Auntie Feng was so funny.
Ling: Well, it wasn’t funny what happened to her afterward.
Nu: Maybe not, but even so. It’s very comforting don’t you think?
Qin Qin: OK, OK. Let’s reconstruct the phone lesson.

Clete: OK, pay attention class. Thank for coming to this special evening session to accommodate the participation of our guest presenter, Chilin Guardian Feng. We are going to have some fun with this. Now, let us start the phone call scenario. We are going to use these hand phones that I brought along that work on a closed digital circuit.
Qin Qin: Is that what you were setting up on the hill in Fire Domain?
Clete: Yep. I’m going to leave that relay station up. North Island and South Island can now talk to each other. Let’s proceed.

[Reporter’s note: He had rehearsed a script with Auntie Feng on how a conversation might develop between them. He punched in some numbers and then Auntie Feng’s phone rang, which she answered.]

Feng: Hello?
Clete: Feng? This is Clete, Clete Wong. We met at the Security Council meeting a couple of weeks ago?
Feng: Clete, of course I remember. I hope you didn’t get the wrong impression of the organization. That meeting was such a bore.”
Clete: I hope you’re not talking about my presentation.
Feng: On no. You really livened things up. It was the agenda afterward that was so stultifying. So are you calling about that?
Clete: This is a social call, if you don’t mind.
Feng: Why Clete. Really?
Clete: Hear me out. I recall in our conversations your saying you had an interest in period-piece films with complicated plots and that it was so hard to find anyone to attend with you. I happen know a place that is showing of David Lean’s Dr. Zhivago on a big screen, the classic one with Omar Sharif? I thought immediately of you.
Let’s stop there for a minute. How many of you think that I have just asked her out? I see three hands. Technically no. No outright invitation has been made. Though it’s pretty clear I will try. I’m trying to judge whether I have read her interests correctly. In our previous conversation she may have just said what she said about her taste in movies just to be polite. Feng, I want you to give me a response that tells me, ‘No, you didn’t get it right.’
Feng: Clete, that is so sweet of you to notice. But I’ve never been overly fond of English-language adaptations of Russian novels.”
Clete: Ah, I see. Is that because they lack the nuance in translation?
Feng: It’s just that none of them are any good.
Clete: We’ll stop there. If I do not have a second option up my sleeve, then that’s it. Unless she wants to try to see how I react to a trial rejection. She has an option to continue if she wants. But the message to me at this point is don’t go any further. Unless I’m REALLY interested.
Nu: How would you end it at that point?
Clete: If I weren’t getting encouragement to try again, I’d probably say something that would make her feel assured in her decision that I was not someone she should be wasting time on. Maybe: I really like that film myself, I saw it when I was in junior high. I really liked War and Peace with Audrey Hepburn too. But I think the critics are on your side. Given how few filmmakers have tried since, you have better sense than me. Watching the movie is always easier than reading the book. And then I’d change the subject back to business and then terminate the call.
Xiao Mei: Will you try again with some other offer?
Clete: Maybe, but probably not. By ending it like that I’ve left things neutral and we’ll continue our relationship as business acquaintances. But now she knows I find her attractive and that puts her in a one-up position on any dealings we have from now on. We both know very well what I was trying to do, but we left it ambiguous and open-ended. So she would not be surprised if I made another, more highly targeted try another time. Me, I might wait until the next time we saw each other professionally, and I’d look to see if she might give me some more clues. If I didn’t get anything else, then I’d just move on. Some men will press and press, but you can move into being an obnoxious creep if you do that and can’t read her clues that say, ‘give it up.’”
Ling: You said she had the option to continue. How would she do that?
Clete: I didn’t script that. Feng? You want to take a shot at it?
Feng: This is AFTER I have said I don’t like Russian novel adaptations?”
Clete: Right.
Feng: Well it has been YEARS since I’ve seen Zhivago. I probably owe it another chance, but it’s SUCH a long film.
Clete: Ah, well played! Indicates she’s open minded, told me I made a pretty good guess, and it’s an invitation to sell it further or show her what else I’ve got. I’m going to go for agreeing with her rejection and hide my secondary offer in some false modesty. Here’s my response. You got me there. It’s endless. I was just looking for an excuse to drag you along to that hot new restaurant I’ve been wanting to try out, around the corner, Osteria Hobie. I hear they set everything on fire, including ice cream, and give it to you on miniature surfboards. But I suppose that’s probably not your kind of thing either, is it?”
Feng: You would sit through a four-hour movie so you could ice cream off a surfboard?
Clete: I didn’t say I didn’t like Zhivago. It would be a fair tradeoff if you actually enjoyed it. But is there anything you WOULD like to see? … And at that point she’d either suggest something and I’d finally REALLY ask her out or she would put me off yet again. Most females I’ve asked out have behaved that it’s better if you don’t seem too eager to go out with a man. Delay his gratification, get him to work for your acceptance a bit, and he’ll feel pretty good about himself when he eventually gets it.
Xiao Mei: It all seems so complicated. So formalized.
Clete: You figure this out in practice. If you ask me, the guys who give you a nuanced offer, deserve a nuanced response. But, many American men give blunt offers and you should feel no problem about giving those a blunt answer. Like: Would you like to go see a movie with me this weekend? Or, Would you like to go out and get a drink? To which standard answers are, Feng?
Feng: Thank you, but no. I have other plans this weekend. Or, I’m sorry, but no. I’m not interested in you in that way. Or, I’m actually seeing someone else right now, so NO.
Clete: Got it? By the way, those will probably be your most common answers since most people are NOT attracted to most other people. And these answers give clear signal of NO unless the guy is dense. The good news is the first date is the difficult negotiation. Once two of you figure out that you want to continue seeing each other, it’s a matter of just making appointments.
A word of warning here. I’ve noticed that like some animals, some guys operate on the principle, “What you can’t court, kill.” And so when they rejected they become verbally hostile, spewing bad things.
Qin Qin: So then they start to talk like you normally do?
Clete: You, young lady, get an F for the day. And that doesn’t stand for “failure.”
Ling: When does courtship become a marriage proposal?
Clete: Depends on the couple. Let’s hold that for another day. The odd thing about American courtship is that some people date just to date. They never move into marriage and family formation. So let’s make the appointment.
Feng: Wait a moment. I did not give consent just yet. Give me a moment while I check my scheduler.  As it happens, this Saturday is clear. Yes, I would like to join you.
Clete: Great. So no Russian adaptations. What do you want to see?”
Feng: I will leave that to your judgment. Let’s see what your imagination comes up with. Just nothing with explosions or excessive violence or profanity please. Our local cinema seems to specialize in those genres exclusively.
Clete: Did you all catch that I’ve now been challenged to see how well I’ve listened? I choose well and I get Date #2. Shows are at 6 and 8:30 p.m. Do you have any interest in grabbing a bite to eat before or after?
Feng: Before sounds good. Why don’t we go for the 8:30 show?
Clete: I know a nice place in walking distance. Does a 7 o’clock reservation work for you?
Feng: That will be fine. What kind of place is it?
Clete: Italian.
Feng: But what about the place that serves everything set on fire on little surfboards . . .”
Clete: Done. Pick you up or meet you there? Now girls, this important. If you’re unsure of whether this is someone you’d want to commit the whole evening to, meet them there. So you can ditch them as necessary. And as far as I’m concerned, if I were advising you as my daughters, ditch immediately if you sense it’s going south. Cut your losses. Develop a headache, nausea, cramps, whatever. Arrange to have a friend call or text you at one, two, or three hours in, and give you an out. Whatever. But try to be polite about it.
And remember I’m only giving a guy’s point of view on this. Damn I wish Sally were here to give you her take. She’s well versed leading by the balls. Should have thought about that and had her on speakerphone. But then I’d have had to pay her overtime.
Jie: Laoshi? What does “leading by the balls" mean?”
Clete: It means Sally is the kind of gal who can tie any dude’s cojones into a tidy, little furoshiki package for her “sack” bento. AND the dude will like it. What a woman.”
Jie: I’m afraid that still needs a translation.
Clete: She’s good at manipulating men. Stay tuned. I’ll probably be hiring her to be your next teacher. She’s got the lesson plans that your mothers lack.
Feng: I beg your pardon.
Clete: Oh, sorry. Forgot you were here Mother Feng. OK, Feng? What is your response?
Feng: Don’t just brush that off. I don’t know how you get away with being such a rude person. Sigh. You may pick me up. I will be ready at a quarter to seven. Do not be late.

Xiao Mei: Yes. That was pretty much how it went.
Nu: I think it was cute that Auntie Feng could not help but give him an order at the end.
Ling: I know. Habit eh? And that was Xingqi 3, a Wednesday. It was the following Xingqi 1, Monday night that we staged the date night.
Xiao Mei: It was all the sessions before that were interesting to me. Learning how to order in a restaurant or a coffee house.
Qin Qin: OK then. Let’s get that down next.

© Copyright 2012 Vincent Way, all rights reserved.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Malibu morning picture of the day - Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday is here and so is the picture of the day:

This one seems more like a sunset, but I assure it's the beginning of the day.

On the also-ran, the "Autofocus Nixie" could not correct for what seemed like an ambient haze this morning, giving us a purplish tinge and blurriness that filmmakers confuse with being in love.

Before you suggest that I may be falling in love, let me say say persish the thought--I've already had my shots. That is a pastime reserved for the young or romantic (or those whose glands are healthy enough to continue to pump out requisite chemicals). Wisdom and age, I'm afraid, are the components of the vaccination against head-over-heels foolishness.

But for those who are not yet so old, wise, or cynical, if you do go head over heels, this old fart's wish for you is that you land on your feet. Be careful out there. It's Friday. Wear your rubbers. Get to bed by 9, and home by midnight (...that ain't original, a Brazilian guy I met gave that advice).


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Malibu morning picture of the day - Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dear Friends, Family, and Gentle Readers,

Here's Thursday's picture.

We're now in a "Groundhog Day" loop of cloudless blues. The diamon who dwells in my camera decided to give me ultramarine instead of turquoise today. And its a string of hot days here in L.A. When you get tired of looking at cement, asphalt, and drywall covered in latex paint, remember this URL.

The speaker, put here
because people like
text broken up by pics...
I went to a meeting of the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society last weekend for a presentation on "Creating Strong Female Characters." The presenter, screenwriter Christine Conradt, answered the question of whether men can write women or the other way around--primarily dealing with the question "Is there a basic gender difference?" (Which would then inform you that you must have women/men say or do these things...)

The answer is "no." And as observers and students of human nature, we all knew that. We were all pretty sure we could find exceptions to any generalization you could make about one sex or the other.

Image result for men are from mars
Let us now praise
rich and market-clever men!
BUT, if you want to make mega-$$$ as a nonfiction writer, it's worth trying to write a book about sex generalizations to sell to the millions of people out there trying to salvage their marriages or  relationships--because relationships are HARD to maintain and people are desperately looking for help. John Gray of Mars/Venus fame is laughing all the way to the bank. It was a fine presentation with a lot of sound ideas on how to create complex characters. She's the kind of person in Hollywood whose work you've seen, but you'll never know it.

Signing off. Have a great Thursday.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Malibu morning picture of the day - Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Good Wednesday to you all. Here's today's picture.

This guy...
The camera decided to give me a Maxfield Parrish sky today. I left the dangling leaves in just to suggest it even more. For those of you who are not fans of early 20th-century magazine illustration, Parrish was a commercial artist of the time who perfected this color of sky as a backdrop for his scenes of idyllic bucolic or exurban scenes populated with lightly clad women accompanying ad copy (nothing changes in advertising does it?). 

Those of you who enjoyed watching the movies The Princess Bride and Star Wars: Attack of the Clones most definitely saw Parrish-inspired landscapes (you might even think that was the best thing about Clones). If you read Parrish's biography, he used himself as a photographic model to set many of these poses. If you know that, it becomes very obvious why a lot of his pictures look like old photographs with the lighting diffused much more than cameras seem to capture focus and light today. He of course put his signature touch on things (he was a genius, not a mere copyist) but the source of his inspiration is clear.

Back to Malibu. Here's a wider view a few steps away  with a more sun allowed to flood the lens. This shows you the smog ready to flood back in later today. This almost reminds me of some country's flag.

Enjoy the blue today. Be serene. Be calm. Be pacific.