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Spring substitute teaching gig then BEquinox!

March 21, 2019

This winter and now spring I’m on a bit of a sabbatical from teaching at Ventura College but I am substituting a literature class today, so I thought I’d do what I often do when I’m teaching: put up a post about it. Students read these three short stories about death and wrote essays about the techniques the authors used to get their ideas across:

Some of the literary techniques they’ve learned about via a handout that I’m looking forward to checking out. The instructor Lin Rollens describes these literary techniques as “tools in the writer’s tool kit and that you reach for them as easily at you’d get a phillips head screw driver to put the right pieces together.” I love this! She says, “We’ve talked about other things that are techniques–dialogue, repetition, long sentences etc or anything that makes your story work–and they are free to pull those into their pieces as well. I just want them to be able to see how these stories are things made and how art moves/manipulates them so effectively.”

I will also have students share on the board:

— the best thesis
–the best hook or intro
–the best quote from the paper
–works cited

I read the stories last night — and they are as heavy as you might expect. In class today, they will form groups with others who are working with the same story, and workshop their papers. I will also have them share the best thesis and quote from the papers and write it on the board and have them put the works cited up too. Next week is spring break but when they come back, they’ll be reading: Updike’s “The A&P”, the first chapter of Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” and Yukio Mishima’s stunning and difficult “Patriotism.” In preparation for the next set of readings she suggests we discuss the nature and history of honor:
“Honor is not something that we, as a culture, tend to talk about much, and the students often have a difficult time at first delineating what they think honor is and how it manifests, so I generally give a little back ground about nature and history of honor,” she writes in an email with class instructions.
“The Japanese sense of honor is a little tougher, and these articles may be of use:

Read more…

RIP Dick Dale, King of Surf Guitar

March 17, 2019



Richard Anthony Monsour (May 4, 1937 – March 16, 2019) aka  Dick Dale died yesterday. He was nearing 82 yet still playing shows in LA last year (see below).  The guitar legend was made most famous by his song “Misirlou.”

Read more…

But it is worse than that #ClimateChange

March 15, 2019

Today hundreds of thousands of students around the world followed Greta Thunberg’s lead and

walked out to make a statement about climate change.

students protesting in Montreal, Quebec

Young people are angry. As well they should be. What’s the point of an education if the planet is destroyed?

In a facebook post that went viral, Marc Doll writes that “The IPCC report and the Paris Accord are incredibly overly optimistic and that commits the world to a target that means th death of hundreds of millions if not more.

But it is worse than that.

Read more…

It’s Time for the #Oscars: Ron’s Rankings plus a Thomas Fire Doc by teen siblings

February 24, 2019

While I love good movies maybe a bit more than the next person, and while I have eclectic tastes (being the Art Predator and all), for years I have left the serious reviews to my friend Ron Wells, who then shares them with me to publish here as well as a list of ranked and recommended films.

This year, we’ve both been busy and so haven’t posted as many film reviews as I have in the past years, but I’d be seriously remiss if, here on the night of the Oscars, I neglected to post Ron’s Rankings for 2018. See the list of the 91st Academy Awards nominees here.

“If 2017 was a poor year in films for me, then 2018 was a little bit better, but still not great,” notes Ron. “The documentaries and the foreign films were the ones that I really enjoyed.” Below are Ron’s rankings with his notes; mine are in italics. 

Read more…

Put Some Sparkle in Your Life

February 14, 2019


Do you want to put some extra special SPARKLE into your life? Or the life of someone you love?

While sparkling wine is mighty fine (like these four sparkling wines that won’t break the piggy bank: two from Italy’s Rotari and two from France’s LaVieille Ferme), consider making a contribution to Burning Man artist and pyropainter Deniz Nicole to bring her Karousal Kandeo and Kaleidoscope Kandeo art installations to the LA Bequinox Regional and to the Black Rock Desert for the 2019 Burning Man Festival — and get something sparkling sent to your home as a thank you!

Deniz’s sparkly Kaleidoscopes or charms would make a great SPARKLY present Read more…

Today Let Freedom Ring with “Moodswings–Spiritual High” featuring Chrissie Hynde and MLK

January 21, 2019

Check out this very uplifting song using words from MLK’s: Let Freedom Ring today!

image by Dianne Bennet

In other years, Read more…

A Prayer for the New Year of the Trees on this Wolf Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse

January 20, 2019

Two sycamores at Arroyo Verde Park in Ventura; the area was hit hard by the Thomas Fire but these trees are recovering.

Tonight there’s a lunar eclipse that will be seen over most of North America — and it’s not in the middle of the night! Unfortunately it’s in the middle of winter with much of the US covered by clouds and a major winter storm with some of the coldest day of the season with temps below zero.

Here on the west coast where we live in Ventura, it’s hazy. While we had a stunning sunset and moonrise, I wonder if we will be able to see anything during the eclipse…

Read more…

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