Saturday, February 28, 2015

Three Loves Seven, Chapter 22, Part 6 - "Still Not Out of the Woods!"

Dear Gentle Readers,

Ting Ting and Clete have come to a dead end and so it's time to get out of the tree tops. Will they make it to the border of The Grove without further incident? Hah! You know the answer to that. Don't even speculate. This is Clete Wong. His talent in this story is to just getting in deeper fixes. Yeah, sure, I could have them make it to shore and have sex on the beach, but what's the point of that? This dude is just one clueless, dispassionate, bloodless asexual, or so it seems. Who's going to crack him open? Guess we'll have to find out.

The story continues ...

We descended to the floor of the Grove. Ting Ting had a look of concern on her face and she pointed to a large storage building. We made our way over quickly and she let us in, shutting the door soundlessly behind us.

In this building were all types of saws, knives, machetes, ladders, and clippers, all neatly arranged and hung on one wall. But what made up the bulk of the storage were large stacks of thick branches that had been carefully harvested and tied into bundles that could be carried by one person.  Also there were several bundles of kindling sticks. You would think that such a place would have the feel of a musty garage, but it was a place or great cleanliness and order.

     “What is this place? For a firewood shed it’s absolutely spotless.”
     “It is no regular firewood shed. This is storage for a sacred rite. We come here once a year and renew the materials that are to be used for a special festival. It requires that several beach bonfires be set. It’s important to us to keep it clean.”
     “So it’s an annual thing? Like New Year’s?”
     “It is a rite that has never been performed. But we must do the preparations in case we ever need to do it.”
     “So what is it?” She seemed to give me a sly look, and then she made the motion of zipping her mouth. I understood all too well. The usual answer around here—“I’m not telling.” She shook her shoulders as if having a chill. “I felt the Witch’s presence but I didn’t see her. Let’s give a few more minutes and then we will make a break for the next tree. Remember to think like a monkey.”

She cracked the door. Satisfied there was nobody about, she motioned me out. I secured the shed door. The way to the next tree was in shade and the path was clear so we started to make a run for it, but Ting Ting immediately hit a wooden staff that was held at her chest. I crashed into her and we both had the wind knocked from us and fell back on one another. We recovered to see a robed figure in front of us, something like a Japanese shrine maiden might wear, a skirt with a high, empire waist, topped with a white blouse with flowing sleeves.  The figure sported a ceremonial mask of some sort. Technically it was a half-mask—it covered most of the face but not the mouth and lower jaw. The expression of the mask was neutral such that it gave the wielder a look of cold professionalism. I figured this was the Sea Witch.

[They conversed in Japanese. I had Ting Ting assist me in recalling what they said.]

     Princess Ting Ting. I do not recall you requesting passage today.”
     “Sea Witch Sama. I beg your forgiveness. The Good Professor was abducted into the Cove. I was trying to return him without incident.”
     “You have failed. This an incident.”
     “I am relieved to see you up and about. I had heard you were ill.”
     “Thank you for your kind inquiries after my health. I have gotten better, thank you. You on the other hand seem to be declining. Are you regressing to second childhood? Playing ‘Wild Jungle Girl’ again?”
     “And are you regressing to playing ‘Samurai She-Warrior?’ Is that katana strapped to your waist really necessary?”
     “You are armed yourself. I know how well you wield that knife. You have seduced Dr. Wong into being your playmate I see.”
     “Clete, how is your Japanese?” said Ting Ting.
     “It’s workable. I call it ‘the Berlitz Business Japanese dialect. I know best how to request a recess to review memoranda or order lunch, but I can understand simple sentences.’”
     “Do you know what we just said?”
     “Not really. Something about not having proper permits? Is this going to cost me another 80 grand? If so, I need to call my banker.”
     “That I do NOT know.”
     “Professor Wong. I will speak slowly and in simple fashion for you.”
     “Momo! You speak English very well. Just speak to him so.”
     “Do not address me so casually in this place. I prefer not. Dr. Wong, welcome again to the Outside. We call it ‘The Center.’ It is not yet time for your scheduled visit with us, but as you are here against your will you are fine to be here—and most welcome, again. I hope your wounds are healing?”
     “I do very well. Thank you for past care of yours and hospitality, Sea Witch Sama.” I said. “You understand English?” I asked.
     “Speak in English to me if you prefer. Your Japanese is terrible. It offends my ears.”
     “Sorry. I know it’s bad. Hey, I was  … ”
     It’s not that I am intolerant. To speak so will make me think poorly of you and that is the last thing I want. I apologize. I interrupted you.”
     I was meaning to tell you when we met, I don’t usually like hospital food, but yours was great.”
     Better than Feng’s?
     Her too?! What the hell is up with the cooking competition here? “Hmmm. You two are not on the same scale. Can’t really compare. But if you’re pinning me down, she wins on technique, you win on emotional satisfaction. But hey, regarding the Tortoise Princess, it’s kind of my fault that she’s here. I’ll take full responsibility for her and getting her back to her, uh, what do YOU call her part of the Island?”
     “We call it ‘The Empire.’ Princess Ting Ting, I grant you leave by way of the beach path.”
     “Thank you, I will be taking the Wong-Hakase then.”
     “I think not. I will return Hakase myself to his place after we have had tea.”
     “Sea Witch Sama?”
     “You girls have strange ways of showing hospitality to a guest. My observations tell me he was tortured, imprisoned, and then kidnapped, and now he’s being led naked through the treetops. He has many bruises and cuts and scrapes. Why do you do that to an old man? Your movements are very predictable. I’ve been waiting for you to show up here.”
     “How did you know?”
     “YOU could have pulled it off your subterfuge. As I’m sure you have in the past. HE … was noisy. You failed to take that into account.”
     “If he is not returned in the right circumstances the Security Council will act to . . ." 

[Note: There was switch to another language at this point, unintelligible to me, it was not even their Court Manchurian. Ting Ting later recalled this portion for me. She said this tongue comes from some island between Taiwan and Japan. A former resident introduced it, and they apparently reserve it for uncomfortable topics.]

     “If you deport him, Natsuki and I will collect him and he will no longer be in the Empire and he will be our responsibility here in The Center. Let me warn you. He is a master practitioner who has not yet shown his power to you. He probably does not even know his own capability here. Did you really levy an 8 times 10,000 cash judgment on him?”
     “I don’t question the wisdom of the Hall of Justice. It is not my place.”
     It is mine and I do. I hear everything. Apparently your daughters are wiser than you older ones. The Unicorn Princess is thinking not with her head, but with her crotch. You can tell her I said that. The stench of her desire can even be sensed here—the disingenuous desire of one who has vowed that she has forsaken desire.”
     “That is really very cold of you. As if you’ve never faltered.”
     “You yourself took him to the top of The Young Man didn’t you?”
     “What if I did?”

 [switched back to Japanese here]

     “Dr. Wong? Did she show the formation in the upper trunk of The Young Man?”
     “Yes. We sat there and ate a lunch of leaves and nuts there together.”
     “Did she tell you what we call it?”
     “It is called ‘the Eagle’s Nest’ for its height, or alternatively, because two people can comfortably lie down side by side there, it’s also called ‘The Wedding Bed.’ It’s a place notorious on The Island for consummating relationships.”
     “My, but that’s very colorful of you all.”

[switched back to “the tongue of controversy”]

     “What were hoping would happen, Princess Tortoise Guardian?”
     “I … am faithful to my vows.”
     “Are you? Are any of you?”
     “I don’t have to explain myself or anything to you.”
     “Don’t lie. You also reek as much as the Unicorn. I only bring this up to remind you that NOTHING goes without my notice in my domain.”
     “As you say, Madame Sea Witch. With your leave I will be going then.”

[Back to English]

     “Clete. I’m sorry. I could not get you all the way back to Qi’s domain as I promised.”
     I pulled her aside to speak privately. “You did get me out of the cave. Thank you. I really appreciate it.”
     “I’ve got to go. Do whatever she tells you. She can curse you.”
     “Really? Like how?”
     “For Islanders she mostly attacks fertility, life force. It’s the basic power of witches.”
     “I’m in my mid-50s and a confirmed bachelor who lives near supermarkets. And I dig up fossils, dead stuff for a living. No worries here.”
     “She can halt your ability to pull fish from our sea.”
     “Superstition. Even so, I have a trump in one word. MREs. It’s Purina Bachelor Chow. Before you go, you really love being in the trees don’t you?”
     “I do.”
     “Back there, you said something that made it seem like you had not been here in years.”
     “I haven’t. That’s why I was so happy to be here.”
     “Why the hiatus? You work right at the border in The Shrine. Seems like all you have to do is ask … her.”
     “I prefer not asking her for anything. Every request one makes of another is a small transfer of power, isn’t it? And, … after Jie was born, I didn’t feel worthy anymore.”
     “Not worthy? To enjoy a few hours in the trees? What the hell’s up with that?”
     “Some other time Clete. You need to give your attention to her.”


     And what is your levy?” asked Ting Ting.
     “You have brought me the rare gift of the Professor’s company before my appointed time. That is your toll.”

And with that Ting Ting headed down toward the beach and disappeared from sight and left me in the clutches of the Sea Witch.

© Copyright 2012 by Vincent Way, all rights reserved.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Malibu morning picture of the day - Friday, February 27, 2015

Dear Family, Friends, and Gentle Readers,

This is the last picture of Feburary:

Sunbeams galore breaking through the early morning clouds today. Moving over the the east, more clouds.

Very atmospheric today, makes you feel like you're standing in a 19th century Romantic landscape painting.

Supposed to rain this weekend again; the mountain communities are hoping for snowfall, because yes, it does snow in our nearby mountains when it rains below so it's true that you can ski and surf in the same day if you wanted to.

ALMOST LAST VACATION PICTURE: Here's a picture from the Chik-Fil-A in Tampa where I dropped in to have lunch one day while on vacation. It's only notable because I cannot ever remember for the life of me, sitting in any fast-food joint in So Cal that had fresh-cut flowers on every table.

In fact, at that Chik-Fil-A everyone was cheerful and friendly, and the workers knew a lot of the customers by name--something that would never happen in densely populated L.A.

There may not be much to see in Tampa, but the few interactions that I saw in the public sphere were quite less anonymous than here.

That's it for today. Have yourself a wonderful weekend.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

iT'S STreeT arT THurSDay! - Thursday, February 26, 2015

Dear Family, Friends, and Gentle Readers,

Today we take a look at a mural that falls into the child-like, storybook genre of wall illustration:

Artist: The Guatemala Illustrator, Mi Linda Terra Guatemala, paint on concrete.

Here the artist depicts a lovely picture of his ideal village square in Guatemala. The fellow in the front holds up the sign that announces "Mi Linda Terra Guatemala."  I have not traveled in Latin America, but I believe this is the standard layout of a town that the Spanish settlers brought the Americas, a central common meeting area, with a church as the central focus point (see it in white all the way in the back). The block-style of housing with red-tile roofs also very Spanish. 

One cannot help but notice that this artist sees the place as having paved sidewalks, and that the park is not green, but yellow indicating dry brush or sand/dirt, so this is an arid locale. 

There are men in cowboy hats, but more are wearing the worker's baseball cap. Kids play with dogs and soccer balls. But one thing that stands out to me in this depiction is how many delivery men there are bringing boxes of new merchandise to the good townfolk. The artist has quite a consumerist vision here for his town--he wants new things for his people. Makes me wonder if it was a shipping company that sponsored this mural.

And there is the pushcart vendor in the rear right selling paletas. Our sign-carrying fellow is a guy with a shaved head, t-shirt, and khaki pants. I'm going to guess this is probably a self-portrait of the artist; there is no signature.

At first I thought the red, blue, and yellow colors of the central pavilion tent were those of the Guatemalan flag, but no, that is basically white and powder blue with an insignia in the center with laurel branches, crossed rifles and swords, a long-tailed green bird, and an scroll announcing the founding date of the nation. So the artist basically chose the primary colors, adding to the children's storybook vibe.

Just so you know a little of the local dynamic between Latino heritage groups here in L.A., the predominant ethnic group is Mexican (being the U.S.'s immediate neighbor), but in East Holly and nearby Pico-Union there are large contingents of Central American people, Guatemalan and El Salvadorans mostly. Those are much smaller, poorer countries and so the Mexicans harbor a little condescension toward them, kinda thinking of them like hillbillies and having "Polack" jokes about them. 

Most Americans have NO inkling of these differences and just call all dark-skinned, black-haired Latinos "Mexicans," which I'm sure pisses off the Salvadorans and Guatemalans, but they chalk it up to Northern Americans being ignorant. I tend to have some empathy for the Centroamericanos because I tend to be about the same skin color as them and they're small in stature as I am; I'm pretty the sure the tropical Indian tribes from which they descend were a pretty small people. 

I always crop mural images so that you focus on the artwork, but the here's a little bit of the street context that might help you locate this in a specific place.

 The mural is located off Beverly Boulevard, I believe on Edgemont, the location of many Central American businesses.

No Malibu picture today. I'm home ill. Take care of yourselves and we'll see you next week for more street art!


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Malibu morning picture of the day - Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dear Family, Friends, and Gentle Readers,

Wednesday has come and skies remain blue in Malibu.

Just some low clouds on the water way out affecting the horizon today.

This flock of birds happened to pass by overhead as I was standing there--a great big ol V formation.

No sh*t-bombs were dropped. It's happened to me before, esp. when swallows come to nest on campus and they are everywhere in the sky at all times.

We're one week out from Ash Wednesday, but did you know that this last Monday was something called "Clean Monday?"

It is a similar prelude into Lent observed in Orthodox Christian communities. You go to confession on the Sunday previous and begin Lent with a clean conscience.

Does look good to you? If so,
 Happy Lent eatin'!
In the eastern church, eggs, meat, and dairy are avoided, and fish is eaten on Fridays as part of the fasting observance. Shellfish are OK though. Some people clean house, others like to head to the outdoors and enjoy open spaces and fly kites.
Kites! (as well as seafood....)

Anything that ties you into the seasons of belief, into the year, into your faith, and into a practice that your ancestors observed (blood or tradition) is a good thing to make you feel you are part of something bigger than just yourself.

So, a belated Clean Monday to you from one who regularly celebrates being outdoors.



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Malibu morning picture of the day - Tuesday, February 24, 2015 (lots of blue for you today...)

Dear Family, Friends, and Gentle Readers,

It's Tuesday, and here is your picture:

Clear blue today. No second look for today since it looks very much the same. However, I did snap off a couple of pictures midday and at sunset yesterday. There were a lot of clouds to give reflected light. Hope that your skies were as interesting to look at.


About 2 PM - Must have been cloudy in LA.

Same view about 5:30 PM

.... and a little more to the west ... 

... and even more to the west. Almost looks like a fire.

Can't chat today. Had a long, long staff meeting and now it's time to work.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Malibu morning picture of the day - Monday, February 23, 2015

Dear Family, Friends, and Gentle Readers,

It's a Monday morning after a heavy rain on Sunday night--nice and clear today.

Only a few clouds, way off on the horizon. In the second look here's a close up of the horizon. The few larger clouds are backlit by sun and shrouded from this angle by fog, and thus look as substantial as the Palos Verdes Peninsula to the right no?

And here are some of the rain clouds from yesterday. The dimness of the light really made these nearby yellow flowers pop out as I was driving by.

And so it begins. Let us see how this week unfolds. Forecast says it's to be in the high 60s all week and sunny. Wishing you a wonderful Monday


Friday, February 20, 2015

Malibu morning picture of the day - Friday, February 20, 2015

Dear Family, Friends, and Gentle Readers,

We've made it through another week, and here is your picture of the day:

It's morning in Tampa, Florida!

YOU'RE RIGHT! THIS IS NOT MALIBU. This is a morning in Tampa, Florida a couple of weeks ago.

It's been cloudy and murky five days in a row here at the 'Bu. I'm tired of the grey, so here's one of my vacation pics.

There's a body of water next to the office building where my son-in-law works (I got to drive him to work in the mornings while I was there).

OK, here is Malibu this morning, for the record.

Seems God had a repeat sign put on the Malibu section the last few days...

I was disappointed that today 2/20 was not a day of observation for anything, particular since every other weekday was. To wit:

Monday - Presidents' Day (seems we now include guys like Fillmore, Nixon, and Benjamin Harrison in the observation now...)
Tuesday - Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday)
Wednesday - Ash Wednesday
Thursday - Start of the Lunar New Year

Image result for emily dickinsonThe best I could find was that one of Emily Dickinson's satiric poems (some commentators say that it is a send-up of overwrought love poetry) was published on this day, "Sic Transit Gloria Mundi" which I share with you here to get your weekend off on an impish note:

Sic transit gloria mundi
"How doth the busy bee"
Dum vivamus vivamus
I stay mine enemy! —

Oh veni vidi vici!
Oh caput cap-a-pie!
And oh "memento mori"
When I am far from thee

Hurrah for Peter Parley
Hurrrah for Daniel Boone
Three cheers sir, for the gentleman
Who first observed the moon —

Peter put up the sunshine!
Pattie arrange the stars
Tell Luna, tea is waiting
And call your brother Mars —

Put down the apple Adam
And come away with me
So shal't thou have a pippin
From off my Father's tree!

I climb the "Hill of Science"
I "view the Landscape o'er"
Such transcendental prospect
I ne'er beheld before! —

Unto the Legislature
My country bids me go,
I'll take my india rubbers
In case the wind should blow.

During my education
It was announced to me
That gravitation stumbling
Fell from an apple tree —

The Earth upon it's axis
Was once supposed to turn
By way of a gymnastic
In honor to the sun —

It was the brave Columbus
A sailing o'er the tide
Who notified the nations
Of where I would reside

Mortality is fatal
Gentility is fine
Rascality, heroic
Insolvency, sublime

Our Fathers being weary
Laid down on Bunker Hill
And though full many a morn'g
Yet they are sleeping still

The trumpet sir, shall wake them
In streams I see them rise
Each with a solemn musket
A marching to the skies!

A coward will remain, Sir,
Until the fight is done;
But an immortal hero
Will take his hat and run.

Good bye Sir, I am going
My country calleth me
Allow me Sir, at parting
To wipe my weeping e'e

In token of our friendship
Accept this "Bonnie Doon"
And when the hand that pluck'd it
Hath passed beyond the moon

The memory of my ashes
Will consolation be
Then farewell Tuscarora
And farewell Sir, to thee.

If you don't dig English literature, congratulations for making it this far down. This stuff is a LOT more fun to read when you have some years on  you AND don't have to do it for a class.

Hoping you all come up with something to say that lasts as long as this has. Have a wonderful weekend.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Malibu morning picture of the day-iT'S stREEt ARt thURsDay!-Chinese New Year, Feb.19, 2015

Dear Family, Friends, and Gentle Readers,

Gong Hay Fat Choy! It's Day One of Chinese New Year (some call it the Spring Festival, others call it Lunar New Year so as not to limit it to one heritage group ... ).

 Artist: Darl Han (?), Man with Dragon detail, paint on stucco.
I was looking around in my collection for something appropriate to the Year of the Sheep, but nobody seems to paint sheep on walls. However, over at La Brea and Melrose, you can see this tribute to Bruce Lee. He was Chinese, so I guess this comes close.

If you've ever gone to to the famous Pink's food stand in Hollywood, you probably stood outside staring at this work while you waited for an hour for a hot dog with some sort of fancy topping.

Here's as much as I can get in one shot with as little obstruction (wires, walls) as possible.

Here's practically the whole thing. The building owner is particularly proud of this. It is fully illuminated at night (see the mounted lights?). They were still on which is why Bruce's face has a warm glow on it.

This mosaic treatment (almost like a paint by the numbers painting) really makes a work pop out that you can see, driving by at 40 MPH.

The painting's design makes use of this architecture jutting up mid-profile--probably allowing for skylight from a northern exposure. Nothing better than a dragon to carry a motif from the one end of a building to another.

detail, left hand
The artist's make is prominent and almost legible. This work is displayed with such care, I am sure that this will be maintained for us drivers on Melrose to enjoy for a loooong time. This doesn't count as my usual turf of East Holly, but we can venture away as I find interesting stuff all of over town.

As for Malibu, this is the scene today:

Yup, more grey, low clouds, and a hard-to-discern horizon. No use showing you another view, but I did catch this hawk on the parking lot light right next to my car.

It sure would be nice to catch a snapshot when the wings are spread. They have even more colors to them than the three basic shades you see here. One of these days...

Thanks for looking. And have a wonderful rest of your week!