Friday, January 30, 2015

Grand Rapids, Michigan, evening picture of the day - Friday, January 30, 2015

Dear Family, Friends, and Gentle Readers,

I am in a cold part of the country for a few days. Here's what it looked like thsi evening about 4 PM:

This is the Calvin College campus, toward day's end.

Even though the sun came out in the afternoon, it is SO unpleasant here for an Angeleno boy like myself.

Ambient temperatures were in the high 20s and I learned what wind chill 5 means. It means your face hurts if you catch a breeze walking from one heated space to another. If you're prone to sticky-eyes like I am, this cold air hardens it in your eyes and your vision goes randomly into a blur.

I've told some of you I've toyed with the idea of moving to New Hampshire to help them forge a majority Libertarian state, ... but I dunno. This is my first long experience with being in snow country.

One of four major meeting areas for conducting worship.

In case you're wondering why I"m here, I'm attending a symposium on
Christian worship. It's kind of like being in church and church development classes for about a 12 hour stretch, both Friday and Thursday. There's another shorter session tomorrow.

Basically, it's all about how to run and/or improve your protestant worship service. I'm here because they focus a lot of seminars on how to utilize the arts in worship.

I was hopeful that I'd hear something substantive about operating a multicultural ministry, but it turned out I knew more about it than the presenter. We learned a good circle stunt to end a meeting in a heartwarming way, but that's about it.

Man! This is one smart crowd here, and cosmopolitan. Everybody sits down next to each other, introduces themselves and you trade elevator speeches about why you're there and where you are from.Most everybody is either a pastor or a worship leader or church musician as you would imagine. I have talked to people from Kenya, Nigeria,, China, South Korea, Egypt, Nepal, Germany, the  Navajo Nation, and Canada, as well as a pastor of a Cantonese mega-church in Ontario, and a pastor of  a Korean church in China, And the women I've met here talk about ideas, not material things, events, or family.

Just before returning to the hotel, I attended the evening worship service. It was amazing. I was such putty in their hands. The service took me into such deep grief about personal sin and oppression of others that I trembled from crying deep inside such that my face was wet, and then they brought me out into the spiritual light. It worked even though I thought I would sit there and thought I was going to objectively deconstruct their technique. Uh uh. The Holy Spirit had other ideas for me. She thought I needed a plunge into the Christian mystery pool. She  was right.

I snapped a selfie of me with the Calvin signage as you walk up to the campus to register . It was warm enough that day (freezing 32) to sustain the 30-minute walk from my hotel on Weds. I didn't realize I looked so grumpy! I must have felt oppressed by the cold.  It's only gotten colder.

Time to rest up. May you have a encounter with the divine sometime soon yourself.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

iT'S STreeT arT THurSDay! - Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dear Family, Friends, and Gentle Readers,

It's Street Art Thursday people, and we have something for you bird lovers.

Artist unattributed, triptych for Red Bird Salon, paint on brick - left panel

My neighborhood has two tattoo parlors. How many does yours have? Right around the corner from me is Red Bird Tattoo. You can get a haircut there too.

Here we have a shining blue bird of HATE. Naturally there is a companion.

triptych for Red Bird Salon, paint on brick - right panel

Here is "blue's" partner, the red-pink, horned bird of LOVE, flying backward into an electrical storm toward the crown of AND.

There is also a bottom piece to the art, with the establishment's name on it:

triptych for Red Bird Salon, paint on brick - bottom-middle panel

There may be some symbolism and occult (hidden) meaning in this imagery, but the usual interp is the card for the Queen of Hearts if love, and the Ace of Spades is death. We have red roses and a purple rose. The skull is a signifier of death as well. The black fedora with a burning feather of a firebird? Seems like power to me. All this stuff on pink bricks? Pink is usually a stand-in for e skin of the naked human body. And why are these two birds so pissed off?

I think there's all kinds of passion goin' on at this storefront. It helps that the word "BEAUTY" sits there in the middle as well. So many primal thoughts and concepts together!

The facade of my workplace is beige. What it must be like to go to work with ink, skin, needles, and other cutting instruments.

When this goes up, I will not be in California. Maybe I'll have some other kind of photo here or not. Whatever happens, have a wonderful Thursday.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Malibu morning picture of the day - Monday, January 26, 2015

Dear Family, Friends, and Gentle Readers,

Hey, I didn't expect to see you here. I said last Friday I was putting the blog on vacation. Thanks for being someone who checks in without the Facebook push!

Haven't left town yet. This WILL be my last Malibu picture set for while ...

Storm coming this afternoon--here's a leading edge. Not an epic Nor'easter like NY is expecting, but we need the rain anyway...

Sorry, my camera does not do
indoor distance at all,
but that IS her.
Natalie Cole performed at my employer's annual big fundraising banquet on Saturday. Sorry to say she just "mailed it in"--she did none of her signature works and worked through a set of jazz standards. The only thing that did not come off as your garden-variety jazz club act was her "Unforgettable" video duet with her late father's recording (so I don't even count that as her own song--talk about drafting off someone else). So ironically, the appearance was to me forgettable. So glad to see that she keeps her hair natural now. Yay.

From the 2014 Xmas That Will Not Die File

Walking around on Saturday, January 24, 2015, spotted were these three "Christmas Keepers":

These neighbors are keeping up with one another, but the one of the right
wins--they have Christmas cards taped up in their front window,
pictures facing the street! Thanks for sharing the beauty of Xmas!

Another big wreath! I like how it draws attention to the fact
that they are improving the property with new windows,
with stucco yet to be applied. We are all works in progress aren't we?

On the subject of Xmas, this is one of the presents I am giving away this year. I bet none of you got anything like this, a likeness of Odin's great steed Sleipner, a swift, powerful, demigod horse with eight legs.

Crude, childlike, folksy, but cutely weird. "Slippy" is made of ceramic, so I hope it survives at least a few Christmases.

Have a great week.


Three Loves Seven, Chapter 22, Part 4 -- "When I Say SH*T, You Say How Much and What Color?"

Dear Gentle Readers,

NOTE: All right, it's time to issue a content warning here. Dr. Wong will use a lot of profanity as is his custom. And there will be a lot of talk about human excrement. There has already been quite a lot of scat talk in the episode regarding the Earth Guardian Princess Na. You may question whether the author made it out of the anal phase in his Freudian developmental stages.

One of my contentions is that in agricultural areas, the relationship between people and manure is different than what city dwellers in urban areas with sewage systems have. This is what I am getting at. I am not trying to write scat porn. Evoking excremental smells helps retrieve the image of Dog Island from being some kind of Disneyfied tropical resort, at least in my mind. You should be thinking of this place as rather shabby, run-down, overgrown more than the scant inhabitants can maintain order there.

A word about this chapter. Imagine a place you used to play as a child, where you pretended to act out your favorite stories of yourself. When you go back as an adult, you see that it is tiny, and much less impressive than your grade-school memory tells you it is. BUT ... imagine what if you went back, and not only was it as nice as you remember, but now it's BIGGER! And you're even more of runt. THIS is Ting Ting's mindset as she rediscovers a place she has not been in a long, long time.

My idea for The Grove comes of something I read once, that accounts by early settlers of the U.S. say that the entire eastern half of the country was so densely forested that a squirrel could run from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River without out ever once touching the ground. What if a canopy of sturdy, tropical hardwood trees grew in such a way that nimble climbers could move about above-ground from tree-to-tree, just like Tarzan, but not really needing the vines to swing on?

Hold on to this idea of an alternate world in a forest canopy. If I ever write my next book to be set in Madagascar, this kind of place will be explored even further.

In the meantime, let us return to our hero who is still making his flight through the territory of the Sea Witch within the upper canopy of The Grove.

The story continues ...

We came to a point where we were about to make a transfer from a medium-limbed tree to a thick-limbed tree. Ting Ting forgot about her prohibition on speaking and gave a squeal of excitement.

     “Large snake?” I asked. “You’re the one with the knife.”
     “No silly. Look at that! It’s ‘The Ramp!’ It’s so big now!”
     “I tied a branch into a certain angle to grow toward this other tree. Many years ago. You can still see parts of the rope.”
     “What was the purpose of that?”
     “I wanted a shortcut into the top canopy. See how the trees are much taller where we are going?”
     “Not really, but I’ll take your word for it.”
     “I’m going to test it. I’ll bet you I can run up it!”

And before I could say anything, she took off up that branch which I estimated to be a 55 to 60 degree angle—steep! That woman was as sure-footed as a goat. How does a human do that without claws? I went up to the base of “The Ramp” and looked up to see her. She had disappeared into the leaves. I heard her say something. I narrowed my eyes to see if I could catch a glimpse of her. The branch was trembling. I looked down for a minute to check my footing and when I looked up she was barreling down at me, head-first  on all fours, her ass bouncing up and down like a monkey—and she was going FAST.

I think she intended to yell at me to get out of the way, but when she got to me, instead of colliding, she put her hands on my shoulders and pushed herself into the air. I was pushed backward and got to see her execute a somersault, take hold of a trunk and twirl herself about it to dissipate her momentum and end with a stand-up dismount stance that any Olympic gymnast would have been proud of.  And then I tumbled off the notch I had been squatting in.
I don’t know how I did it, but I grabbed hold of a branch but swung face-on into the trunk. Luckily I did it before going into free-fall and just hung suspended. I looked to my feet to see how far a drop it was to the ground.

     “FUCK! We’re some three storeys high here! Help!”
     “Not so loud Clete. We don’t want to attract attention. I’ve got your right hand. There’s a knot for your left foot right there.”
     “Get me up! I need to check something.”

As soon as I was on a stable surface. I sat down and reached into my crotch to find the wren eggs.

     “What are you doing?”
    “Checking my eggs.”
     “You have an obsessive fascination with your own private parts. Are they in bad health? Are they swollen? Is that why it’s so bloated down there?”
     “THANK GOD they’re OK. If I don’t take care of them, Qi is going to dismember me.”
     “She wouldn’t dare. What use would you be to her after they’re gone?”
     “I think we’re talking about two different things. What the HELL is the idea of tackling me like that?”
     “I haven’t done a downhill monkey crawl like that in years. It was good right?”
     “You could have warned me!”
     “I did. You didn’t pay attention.”
     “If this is the way it’s going to be, point me to the down escalator please! You are one Goddamned reckless lady. It’s dangerous up here. I’ll take my chances with the Sea Witch.”
     “I don’t recommend it. The Witch does not like uninvited guests. We have to move ahead anyway to get to a tree that is easy for you to climb down to the ground if that is what you really want. But anyway, it was good right?”
     “My descent.”
     “You were fuck-yeah awesome. Come ON! Can we move on? SHEE-uh! How long have you been feeling this insecure that you seek approval from a stranger?”
     “We’re going up The Ramp.”
     “No! We’re going down. Down. I’ve decided I don’t like heights. Especially in the company of a nutcase who thinks she’s a circus performer.”
     “We have to go up to go down.”
     “So you say.”
     “Do you want to argue or do you want to progress?” FINE!  We’ll turn around and  go back to the Empress Tree. There’s a short path back to the Margin, but the girls will be waiting for you. I guarantee it. That what you want?”

As a field scientist or engineer in a foreign land, there always comes an inevitable point where you realize you are not in control of your fate. And in fact, you have put yourself into the hands of a bush pilot who is not entirely sane by the standards of your culture. You know it, but the pilot doesn’t know it yet, but it’ll be only a few seconds until they do and you hope they don’t turn sadistic when they do figure out they’re in the one-up position. Or maybe they always knew they were in charge and just humoring you. The only thing you can do is throw yourself to the mercy of the local gods. I have found the best way to do this is just be like a dog and expose your neck. Be vulnerable.

     “I relent. We’ll do it your way. I really need water. I sweat like crazy in case you haven’t noticed. I feel like there’s an army of chiggers and ticks sucking me blood dry and I’m about to pass out.” It was true though.
     “Come with me.”

So we went up the ramp. We were probably up five storeys now—I tried not to think about it. She had me sit on a branch. Don’t get me wrong. I work on cliffs all the time, but I set all of the hardware to keep myself from falling myself. I had trust issues with this woman. While I sat, I watched as she crawled out on a limb that bent 30 degrees down as she progressed, but undaunted, she broke off two green branches and crawled back to me.

     “No water up here, but we can suck on this tree’s leaves and eat these nuts. The nuts are very bitter raw, but they are not poisonous unless you eat a lot of them. They will freshen you right up.”
     “Always trust a local to take you to the best places to eat. This is actually not very bitter to me.”
     “Is that so? That’s surprising. So Clete, are you enjoying this path?”
     “You want me to say yes don’t you?”
     “Yes, but not if it is a lie.”
     “If I were 30 years younger, not on a jail break, and not on the lam from a gang of kidnappers—those kinds of things add pressure you know—this would actually be a fun date.”
     “I am pleased to hear it. It’s very pretty, right?”
     “You say that a lot.”
     “Is it wrong?”
     “It’s like you’re using the interrogative particle word ma, ma?”
     Is! I mean, I guess it is. But is it wrong?”
     “It’s not wrong. In fact, I find it rather cute.”
     “Cute? Like attractive? Why?”
     “I don’t know. But only from you. When Lee does it, it’s annoying. It’s like a criticism. The way you say it, it’s hopeful.”
     “But an American woman doesn’t say it as much as me, right?”
     “No. She would not.”
     “So it IS wrong. I will stop.”
     “Suit yourself. But that is the American idiomatic usage.”
     “You are very odd to find such a thing attractive. Is it because you like me?”
     “I don’t dislike you.”
     “But do you LIKE me?”
     “Why are you seeking my approval?”
     “Did I say I was asking your approval?”
     “Not overtly no.”
     “I am trying to understand you. Chew your leaves but don’t swallow give me the mash. Turn. I am going to remove your ticks.”

She started to work on my back and neck. She mumbled, prodded with her nails, blew puffs of air, and applied wads of leaf mash that I spat out and handed to her.  I noticed that she was not killing any of them. My dad used to take fleas off the dog by hand, and kill them by pulling off their heads. Ting just set them to the side in one of the spittle piles I had given her.

     “How are your bowels?” she asked.
     “I don’t know. Maybe a bit nervous?”
     She reached around me and prodded my belly. “Full. Take off your fundoshi and please shit into my hands.”
     “Shit please.”
     “Into your HANDS? I’m NOT going to do that! No. That’s like the first thing a human child learns. Not to shit inappropriately. And to do it in private.”
     “I am trying to help. We don’t want to lose any to the ground below. You will give The Grove something. For this, it’s crawlers will leave you be.”
     “Ticks and chiggers are not manure eaters as far as I know.”
     “There is something about your body that our bugs like. I am trying to understand what.”
     “Nonsense. I shit like everybody else. I’ve been eating the same food as you all.”
     “Not from what Na tells me. Your outfall is different. I want to see. Trust me. The bugs fall into my domain as Tortoise Guardian, so their welfare is my concern.”
     “Why should a trust a woman who turns into a wacko at the first sight of a jungle gym?”
     “Because I got you out of the caves and away from the girls.”

She had me there. I suppose was being unreasonable and ungrateful.

     “If I do this, this is polite right? Not rude? Right?”
     “YOU are now saying ‘right?’ a lot. Why is it good idiom now for you and not for me?”
     “I DUNNO! I’ll have to think about it. If I do this will you leave me alone and we can get on with this fuckin’ trip?”
      “It is not rude to me. Think of it like my work. Probably to some of the others though. Please proceed.”

I undressed, and I could not believe I was doing as ordered. One of my first bosses was an old Army guy who was fond of saying that he would tell his subordinates “If It tell you to shit, the only appropriate response was “Yes sir, how much and what color?” He thought he was a goddamned riot. Bastard. Anyway, I figured out a place to take a dump that would not fall to the forest floor. Ting insisted on watching, but with the same clinical and professional detachment of a biologist—but I now that I think about it, I suppose that’s what she is.

     “You have a real nest in your garment. With real eggs. THAT’s what you were talking about!”
     “Understand now?”
     “Now why would Qi tell you to keep a nest in your undergarment? That is not like her at all.”
     “It’s too absurd to explain. I’ll have you know, my mother would be very disappointed in me for having violated all she taught me in her toilet training.”
     “I will apologize to her myself if you would like.”
     “She’s dead.”
     “Oh. I am sorry. But why do you speak of her so casually then? In a joke? It is not respectful.”
     “I’m a bad son.”
     “Oh? Why are you bad?”
     “Because her first-born son died, I didn’t, and I am not him.”

Ting Ting had no followup to that answer. I think she understood that family dynamic well enough. I started to re-dress myself. This particular episode reminded me that I did NOT like living within a culture without toilet paper. And being up here in a tree, no access to water in the alternative.

      “I am going to stink now. God I can’t stand myself.”
      “You really need to respect your body more. It is as Lee and Lum tell me. You do everything you can to try to erase all smells and scents from your self. It is like you hate everything that your body does to do its work.”
     “Unpleasant smells are unpleasant for a reason. Do you want the lecture on hygiene and the bacteria life cycle? I can give it to you.”
     “Some other time.”
     “I’m being a whiner aren’t I?”
     “Yes. Don’t worry. Once we get to the border, we will take the beach road, bathe in the sea, and then at my place I have some pungent oil that I will pour on you.”
     “So did all of you girls play around in the canopy here as children?”
     “No, only Mei and Na liked coming up here. The others were afraid of the heights, especially in the Teaks.”
     “Speaking of your Teaks, they’re huge—and straight.”
     “Clete, would you mind if we took a detour? An alternate route?”
     “Haven’t we wasted enough time as it is? I need to get back ASAP. Qi said she could pop in and check up on me at any minute.”
     “She won’t. I know what they’re doing today. She will be busy at hard labor until sunset.”
     “I am under a prison sentence. I don’t want to get kicked off before …”
     “I seem to reall that you owe me a favor.”
     “Oh God. You calling in your IOU now?”
     “It will be an even prettier side trip. We have plenty of time. I promise it will be nice.”
     “SURE. “I’d JUST LOVE to take this alternate route.”

© Copyright 2012 by Vincent Way, all rights reserved.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Malibu picture FOR this morning - Friday, January 23, 2015

Dear Family, Friends, and Gentle Readers,

Here's today's picture for you, but I'm going off protocol. This is from last night.

Orange sky Thursday night.

There were a lot more colors in this one which I took at about 5 PM than what I took this morning:

Blue on blue this morning.

Thursday night's pink sky. Sunlight reflecting on the left from buildings.
Anyway, here's both. 

And last night if you pointed the camera away from the sun, the sky goes pink and you get reflected light off the larger skyscrapers in what I'm guessing is Torrance or other places in South Bay.

Those of you are into following all of my regular "sea-n-sky porn" will have to give it rest for a while.

Hey! Don't get so happy to know that
leaving for a while. Sheesh!
(Mural on a dentist office at Hollywood & Edgemont)
I'm leaving town for about 3 weeks to attend a conference and then visit relatives. This probably means "blog death" now that I've gotten enough unattributed followers (who ARE you people out there? somebody leave a comment other than my daughter please ...) to reveal in my stats know that there are about 30-50 of you on average checking in to see the Malibu weather. 

I also know that there are a lot of you who check in to see Street Art Thursdays.Thank you, art lovers of the renegade and off-beat. There will be postings on Thursdays while I'm gone, so do check in.

Imprecation to the eponymous god:
"Hollywood, Heal the World For Us"
on a utility box on Vermont between
Hollywood and Sunset
And there are the stalwart few of you who are following my progressive novel. Did you know you can listen to me read the portion "Cinderella and the Great Prince of Southern China" at my website along with another other audio goody of my invention.

If you do bother to check in every day, you may find something if I can get to  a computer. Let's see what Providence gives me to give to you, shall we?


PS - For those of you who just want to look at whatever photos and graphics I throw up here and don't want to wade through all of my wordy bullshit, follow my tumblr 3loves7. There I also reblog all of the other tumblrs that strike my eye.

Don't know why I'm writing this, you people will not have gotten this far anyway...