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Lamott: Laughter is carbonated holiness

December 1, 2022


Enjoy some carbonated holiness in the form of poetry on Thursday, December 1 with featured readers Barbara Henning and Florence Weinberger plus an open mic at EP Foster Library 651 E. Main St. Ventura, CA with host Phil Taggart at 6:30 Pacific time in person or on ZOOM.

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Till: The Story of Emmett’s Murder and What Mamie Till-Mobley Did About It

November 12, 2022

Till movie poster

In this review by Ron Wells, learn why Till is one of the most important films of 2022.
Emmett Till, an African-American teenager, was lynched by two white men in Mississippi in 1955, but this film focuses as much, if not more, on Mamie Till-Mobley, Emmett’s mother. For it becomes a mother’s scream as she hears of her 14 year old son’s death, and then finds the strength to fight for his humanity. She seeks to have his mutilated body returned to Chicago where she is living, and then she decides to go to Mississippi where her son’s murderers will stand trial for Emmett’s death.

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Trick or Treat! I Am A Scary Skeleton Pirate plus other examples of “I Am” Poems

October 31, 2022


It is…  MB Hanrahan

Happy Halloween! 

A day full of tricks and treats! Like this image by Ventura artist MB Hanrahan (concept and model) and photographed by Dina Pielet– both a trick and a treat! 

One morning many years ago, I had a blast brainstorming four Halloween themed “I am” poems in small groups with my son’s K-1 class, then my son made a video using the text (below), This is what we wrote:

I am a scary smelly skeleton pirate!
I wonder where the treasure is

I hear black rusty shooting fire cannonballs
and swords slapping

I see other English ships to get their treasure
I want treasure, a golden compass, and a gold ring

I am a scary smelly skeleton pirate!
I pretend to play swords with you

I  feel my bones cracking Read more…

Seeing Culture

October 11, 2022

Fall Sunset 2022 Milan

“Education is all a matter of building bridges.”
Ralph Ellison

“Insight, I believe, refers to the depth of understanding that comes by setting experiences, yours and mine, familiar and exotic, new and old, side by side, learning by letting them speak to one another.”
Mary Catherine Bateson.

“Real education should consist of drawing the goodness and the best out of our own students. What better books can there be than the book of humanity?” 
Cesar Chavez

“The more deeply you understand other people, the more you will appreciate them, the more reverent you will feel about them. To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.”
Stephen Covey

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Getting Unstuck: Writing Leads to Writing

September 21, 2022


My students always want to know what to do about writers block: that deep dark dreadful painful place.

That constipated place. That prison block. The shadow. Read more…

Burning Man 2022: “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” from “Home” to “Secretly Abandoned Spaces” While “On Fire”

September 14, 2022


Burning Man 2022: Secretly Abandoned Spaces by Valerie Mallory as photographed by Elain Prager

For the Chumash, the people who lived here first along the Ventura County coast, who lived here near where Ventura College is today in a village named Shishilop, and who live in the region today, autumn is the new year: it’s the time of harvest, the closure and finish of one cycle and the beginning of the next. 

For people who go to Burning Man, the night the Man burns on the first Saturday of September during Labor Day weekend it’s the start of a new year as well. 

And so the school year, which starts up each fall, is a new beginning, a fresh start, a new year.

I like to start off each semester with a book by Dr Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go!  which first came out in 1990, and quickly became a beloved best seller. The narrative takes the reader on a journey through life — the good and the bad, the challenges and the pleasures. While recognizably a book by Dr Seuss from the writing and illustrative style, it’s  different also: it’s written in second person and in future tense. 

You probably already know this Dr Seuss book– but do you know this version of it? Read more…

Waking Dreams at Burning Man 2022: The 3:15 Experiment Rid/tes Again

July 31, 2022

Waking Dreams

This year’s theme for Burning Man is “Waking Dreams.” As Stuart Mangrum, director of Burning Man Project’s Philosophical Center, writes in announcing the 2022 Burning Man theme of Waking Dreams.“After a long hazy blur of pandemic insomnia, unanchored in time and adrift between sleeping and waking, it’s time to start imagining the future again…Whether it’s a dream of artistic expression, a yearning to connect with others in a fractured society, or simply a desire to live a more meaningful and authentic life, Burning Man is the place where dreams can and do come true.” Read more…

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song, A Documentary, and A Review by Ron Wells

July 28, 2022


Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song

In 1993, country singer kd lang introduced me to “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. It is her voice that I hear when I recall the song that comes to us through quite a journey, a journey that almost wasn’t, a journey shared with us in a new documentary. It took awhile before I understood who wrote the song and how it became so well known; this documentary takes us there. Learn more in this review by Ron Wells.

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song is a documentary especially for those who like Leonard Cohen’s song, “Hallelujah,” or are even more interested in the man himself. Directed by Daniel Geller and Dayna Goldfine, the documentary uses Hallelujah as a jumping off point to give a penetrating look into the fascinating life of Cohen. Writer Larry “Ratso” Sloman,  producer John Lissauer, and singers such as Judy Collins and John Cale offer opinions and insight into Cohen the man, and Cohen the musician. The filmmakers delve into Cohen’s Jewish background, as well as his 6 years spent in a Zen monastery, painting a picture of a man always in search of a deeper meaning for his life. They also document how 5 million dollars was stolen by his business manager, and how Cohen regained the desire to continue touring late in his life.

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A Tribute to Sidney Poitier 2/20/27-1/6/22 with Trailers from His Movies

January 7, 2022

On August 12, 2009, President Barack Obama presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Sidney Poitier.  Image Credit: Source:

BY RON WELLS: The first film I ever saw with Sidney Poitier was Lilies of the Field. I was mesmerized not just by the role he was playing, but by the dignity and kindness he displayed on the screen. Though one shouldn’t make judgements about actors by the roles they play in films, for me at least, it seemed an extension of the man himself.

 In 1959, the first ever Academy Award nomination for an African American went to Sydney Poitier for The Defiant Ones, . In 1963 he became the first black to win the Academy Award for Lilies of the Field.

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Giving Thanks for HOME (and Wine too!)

November 25, 2021

HOME — Black Rock City, Nevada aka Burning Man

Have a Happy Thanksgiving from Chumash lands here on the windy coast of California! From our home to your home– whether that home be a mountain slope, a seaside beach, or a VW Van! I’m grateful to have so many caring friends and readers of my writing here on Art Predator and on Wine Predator. In a year full of death — globally from the pandemic, and losses closer to home (my dad KC Lawrence, my cousin LeiLani Lisa Lawrence who instigated the pandemic dances, my creative writing advisor Al Young, and my dog Cisco) plus being underemployed and in transition in so many ways, there is still much to be grateful for.
While I love the idea of giving thanks that lies behind today’s observance of Thanksgiving, the history of Thanksgiving is much more troubled.
The Thanksgiving story we learned in school growing up is largely a myth that erases the people who lived here for millennia before the Pilgrims and the Puritans made their way to these shores.
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