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Some Brags and Some Books

February 26, 2018

I’m getting evaluated this term at the college where I teach and so I’ve been thinking a lot this weekend about what all I’ve accomplished, particularly in the past three years since my last evaluation. Read more…


Pick Up A Rock: The Nature Fix

February 20, 2018


Pick up a rock. Any rock. You’ll feel better.

“When something bad happens, ” writes Karen Maesen Miller in Paradise in Plain Sight, “when you step into the quicksand of your gloom and doom, when your thoughts begin to race, when fear strangles your breath, despair wrenches your heart, and doubt suffocates the light right out of your day, pick up a rock and hold it in your hand.

Yes, any old rock will do. Any rock will bring you back to the here and now.

Faith in the here and now is faith that never leaves you. Besides, what else do you have to go on?”

Seriously? With everything that’s going wrong in the world? Why? 

There’s lots of research that’s come out about “Nature Deficit Disorder” and “The Nature Fix” that indicates that time in nature “makes us happier, healthier, and more creative” according to  journalist and science writer Florence Williams.

These days, too often the glow of the screen captivates us more than the glow of the moon or the sunset. Do we even remember to look up to see the first or the final rays of the sun sending tangerine and fuchsia light into the clouds infusing the beginning or the end of our days with a golden glow?  Read more…

Happy Lunar New Year! Year of the Dog

February 15, 2018

The Year of the Dog begins on February 16th, 2018 and ends February 4th, 2019. Babies born between those dates have the dog as their Chinese zodiac sign. Further,  2018 is designated as an Earth year, one of the five elements that are cycled through the 12 sign Chinese zodiac. This means that an Earth Dog year only comes around once every 60 years. So if you were born between February 18th, 1958 and February 7th, 1959, this will be first time you will have been alive during a year that shares your exact birth sign. Like their namesakes, people born in the year of the dog are easy-going, friendly, exuberant, and loyal.  Read more.

Dogs play an important role in Chinese mythology. Often a dog accompanies a hero, and some ethnic groups claim  a magical dog as an ancestor. The Tiangou or “Heavenly Dog” resembles a black dog that, unless frightened away, eats the sun or moon during an eclipse — which we had yesterday as well as one on the Chinese New Year in 2009.

Events are held around the world to commemorate the occasion. Locally, a large event was held two weeks ago, and starting today, there are events at AN LAC BUDDHIST MISSION, the Ventura Buddhist Study Center on Saticoy Ave. in Ventura. Read more…

Lenten Challenge and Chinese New Year’s Resolution: Make Our Planet Your Valentine

February 14, 2018

No matter how you spell it or say it, today is a day all about LOVE. Read Pablo Neruda’s Poem “Amor” here.

What a day! Following Fat Tuesday and Galentine’s Day, today is Ash Wednesday AND Valentine’s Day.

And tomorrow is the Chinese New Year which means there’s a new moon plus there’s a solar eclipse following last month’s BLOOD BLUE Moon — and, if you’re into astrology, there’s a bunch of planets doing interesting things as well as the significance of change in store from the eclipse not to mention that Ganesh, Remover of Obstacles, is out and about before and after an eclipse.

So woah! What a day!

January 2018’s blue blood moon in Ventura

As you may know, the origins of St. Valentine are shrouded in mythology and faith. In one popular story, St Valentine defies a Roman emperor to marry devoted lovers in secret. Whether or not this is true, it inspires us today to celebrate ALL LOVE and to resist against injustice toward people and planet. Read more…

The 2018 Oscars and Ron’s Films of 2017

February 8, 2018


My friend Ron Wells LOVES film and music.

He loves attending films and concerts, listening to music, analyzing it all, writing his reflections, and then sharing them with friends. I take his emails and shape them into blog posts.

Usually Ron writes a review or two a month as well as the occasional obituary of an important figure and I try to post them. This year he faced a number of personal challenges and I attributed that to the lack of contributions by him to this blog, but he recently revealed in an email that he was not impressed by this year’s films. The acting? Yes, but the films over all left him only “mildly interested.” Nonetheless, it is still interesting to review his notes on the films of 2017 in the context of the race for the Oscar 2018 — which he think Best Picture will be won by Store of Water or 3 Billboards.

So here with plenty of time to watch a few more before the big night Sunday March 4, are a few of the top films according to the Academy and Ron. Who do you think we should be toasting?

Best Picture Nominees for the Oscars:

Films of 2017: Ron Wells Ranked Annotated List
with a few annotations in italics from me! 

1. The Post: Maybe not the best film of the year, but by far the most important. It reminds us that  the 4th Estate is a primary protection against an Orwellian future, or even an Orwellian present. Subscribe to a major newspaper today.

2. Molly’s Game: Thank god for Aaron Sorkin. Following in the footsteps of Paddy Chayefsky, his words flow fast like a beautiful river. To hear them said by Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba is pure joy.

3. Lucky: this film is only for those people who had as difficult a year as I had, or those who love Harry Dean Stanton. I loved this film, but I repeat: it is NOT for everyone. Nothing happens in this movie. It is a contemplation on life, death, nothingness, belief, and the meaning of words. When Harry Dean sings, it brought tears to my eyes. Every actor wishes they had a final scene as Harry Dean had in this film. Oh, I love Harry Dean Stanton and this trailer reminded me why! I am looking forward to seeing this!

4. Coco (Animation): I saw only one animated film and foreign film.. Why? Few came to my theaters.

5. The Big Sick:  I don’t usually like romantic comedies, but in this weak year, The Big Sick was the exception to the rule. Nice mainstream entertainment.

6. The Phantom Thread
7. The B Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography (Documentary)
8. Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (Documentary)
9. Blade Runner 2049
10. The Darkest Hour
11. Dunkirk: Second most nominations with 8.

12. The Shape of Water: I’ve loved Sally Hawkins forever. Her two films this year reinforced that belief. Though the films were problematic for me, she was magnificent. (Maudie; the Shape of Water). Most nominations with 13.


13. Call Me by Your Name: The father’s speech to his son at the end of Call Me By Your Name was perhaps the most wonderful speech I heard all year.

14. Get Out
15. The Insult (Foreign/Subtitled)
16. The Florida Project
17. Dawson City: Frozen Time (Documentary)
18. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
19. Wonder Woman
20. Logan Lucky
21. Lady Bird
22. Maudie

23. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: 
Three Billboards: amazing, amazing acting! But what’s the point? Firebomb offices? Throw people from second story windows? Her cause was righteous, but at some point over time guilt/anger must be let go. A minuscule of hope at the end was not enough for me.  Third most nominations with 7. 

24. Wonderstruck


25. Baby Driver I would have thought Ron would have appreciated or at least noted this film for the amazing use of music, especially the opening segment with one of my favorite songs by jon Spencer Blues Explosion. It is nominated for and should win for best sound editing and mixing.

26. Wind River: Everyone I know loved Wind River. I had a million reasons not to like it (though Jeremey Renner was excellent). Anyway, you should trust my friends and go see this. I may have gotten it wrong on this one.

27. I, Tonya: Child abuse + spousal abuse + poverty+ being uneducated = a human train wreck. Nancy just happened to be on the tracks. It doesn’t exonerate Tonya or her friends, but it explains them. This film upset me. Some people have found it humorous; I didn’t.
28. The Trip to Spain
29. Brad’s Status
30. Good Time
31. Mother! I’m done with Darren Aronofsky. No more of his films. Those who think mother! is some sort of deep meditation on anything, should perhaps go see King Lear, or Hamlet, or Lawrence of Arabia, or anything else. He sees himself as an ARTISTE……just ask him. Done…
“Somewhere,” writes Ron, “Harry Dean Stanton is smiling. Maybe next year the films will touch me as in years past.”
Thanks Ron for sharing your reflections with us!

So, which films made your Top Ten list? Why film do you think will win the Academy Award for Best Picture?



UCLA’s Curating Resistance: Punk As Archival Method; Performance by Alice Bag; International Clash Day; and more!

February 7, 2018

Curating Resistance: Punk as Archival Method
February 9 – 10, 2018 University of California, Los Angeles
plus a few other events like International Clash Day today!

Read more…

Equal Means Equal: Free Documentary Film at Ventura College Th. 2/8/18

February 6, 2018

Do you know that women and men do not have equal rights under the constitution in the United States?

It’s true: the Equal Rights Amendment, introduced in 1972, never passed. Men and women do not have equal rights or equal treatment.

Most Americans think we already we have this protection, but we don’t.  The ERA needed 38 states to pass it by 1982, but not enough did!  Nevada just passed it last year, and we still need two more states to ratify it before it’s actually an amendment!

Perhaps it is finally time to pass the Equal Rights Amendment suggests Kamala Lopez’s documentary film Equal Means Equal  Read more…

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