Rear Admiral Felix Stump

Admiral Clifton “Ziggy” Sprague manages to raise ONE admiral in response to his transmission of Come in please. Come in please . . . To any or all.

Don’t be alarmed, Ziggy, remember we’re back of you. Don’t get excited. Don’t do anything rash!”

Rear Admiral Felix Stump, commander of Taffy 2

There is something ‘off ‘ about Admiral Stump’s tone. Self can’t figure out what it is right away.

Oh! No expletives! If this were happening today, Stump’s response might be: “F@@ck! Don’t get excited!”

The American battleships in Leyte Gulf had also heard Ziggy Sprague’s transmission, but were prevented from coming to his aid by their superior, Admiral Kincaid, who made it clear that it was more important to protect MacArthur’s invading troops than to come to the aid of Taffy 3. Ziggy Sprague’s 13 destroyers and six carriers were on their own.

Oh my bacon! Stayed up half the night reading.

Sentence of the Day, TLSOTTCS

Sorry, self just got so tired of writing the whole title out. Incidentally, the author, James D. Hornfischer, was a resident of Austin, TX and passed away just this past June.

In this excellent book, self learns that the US Navy was under the impression that they had destroyed the main Japanese navy at Surigao Strait. They didn’t know that the Japanese attack was two-pronged: the main force had snuck into the archipelago through the San Bernardino Strait, completely unchallenged. If not for the sighting by Ensign Bill Brooks, just minutes before contact was made, the Americans would have been caught completely flat-footed. In fact, the crew were mostly engaged with having breakfast and folding laundry. Then, someone spotted masts over the horizon. A gunnery officer, known for having “an especially sharp eye for ship silhouettes,” was called to the deck of the USS Roberts. The officer said he was certain that “the mystery ships on the horizon belonged to Imperial Japan.” His captain at first thought that these enemy ships were the survivors straggling from their defeat at Surigao Strait the day before.

Sentence of the Day, p. 149:

  • The revelation that the enemy was not fleeing but advancing had the surreal quality of a dream.

When the shelling began, some officers were still wearing their sleep attire: slippers, chinos, and a T-shirt.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

On the US Destroyer JOHNSTON

Part I is done. Part II begins at 7:30 a.m, October 25, 1944. There’s quote from Samuel Eliot Morison: “In no engagement in its entire history has the United States Navy shown more gallantry, gut, and gumption than in those two morning hours between 0730 and 0930 off Samar.” (Self wishes she could show dear blog readers a map of Samar but, uh. She doesn’t want to stop reading. Maybe later. On the map of the Philippines that hangs in son’s room, Samar is one of the bigger islands in the middle of the archipelago. She wishes she could do a red arrow pointing, but she doesn’t know how)

We’re now with crew of the Johnston, just lining up for breakfast.

“Ellsworth Welch, the Johnston’s junior officer of the deck, was leaning over the rail on the port side of the bridge taking in the warm aromas of breakfast when he first saw the columns of water towering over the decks of an escort carrier.”

Down in the Johnston’s combat information center, Lt. Fred Green has picked up a transmission. He tells Lt. John C. W. Dix, who’s just walked in with a cup of coffee, “Listen, the pilot’s coming in again.” A burst of static washed through the speakers, bringing a distant voice (the voice of Ensign Bill Brooks): I’m drawing fire.

Oh, my bacon. Speechless.

6:43 a.m., 25 October 1944, a Philippine Sea

Ensign Bill Brooks, at the stick of an American Avenger, spies a hole in the cumulus clouds that have obscured his view all morning. He drops down through the opening and finds:

  • Enemy surface force of four battleships, four heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and ten to twelve destroyers sighted twenty miles northwest of task group and closing in at thirty knots.

“Black clouds of cordite smoke begin to appear around his plane as the Japanese gunners drew a bead” on him.

Hearing the report from Brooks, Admiral Ziggy Sprague thinks: “Now there’s some screwy young aviator reporting part of our own forces.”

“An angry voice on the other end of the frequency laid into Brooks with some choice Navy language.”

Frustrated, Brooks then decided to enter the “bramble of flak.” He “went into a thirty-degree dive” and “dropped down to two thousand feet” so his radioman could take pictures. At some point, realization sank in and Admiral Sprague realized his small fleet was the only thing standing between Japan’s main battle force and Leyte Gulf, where McArthur was landing his troops. With daybreak, Sprague’s ships could now see “black puffs of flak grasping” at Bill Brooks’ Avenger. Brooks himself was “sober with fear.” His two crew were suddenly “quiet as mice.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

JB’s Art Project, A LITTLE LIFE

So moved was he by the work of Lee Lozano that for his midterm project, he decided to perform an homage to her entitled Decide to Boycott White People (After Lee Lozano), in which he stopped talking to all white people.

A Little Life, p. 59

WSJ Readers Respond to “President Trump Responds on Pennsylvania”


Although I can appreciate the value of your newsletter printing letters from writers of various views, it seems extremely important to vet these letters for truth, fact, and veracity. Yet you publish a letter from former President Trump, who doesn’t accept truth and fact. He continues to destroy our institutions and norms to advantage himself.

The decision to publish his letter was a mistake. It is not “cancel culture” to refuse to print false allegations and lies. It is important to support cold, hard facts. Because Mr. Trump’s assertions of “rigged” elections and “corruption” are so damaging to the fabric of a democratic society, a response to these fabrications from these editors is necessary.

Wall Street Journal, Letters to the Editor, Weekend, Oct. 30-31, 2021


If Democrats rigged the 2020 election employing the nefarious tactics alleged by President Trump, why didn’t Democrats apply the same dishonest devices to win more of the 435 House and 35 Senate races? The hundreds of Republican incumbents and challengers who lost their races haven’t complained to the Federal Election Commission or file lawsuits. Had Democrats possessed the power to rig elections in 2020, they surely would have used it to secure sufficient seats to avoid the congressional deadlock that plagues the American people today.

Wall Street Journal, Letters to the Editor, Weekend, Oct. 30 – 31, 2021

The Enigmatic Kathy Wu, First Mention

“Is something wrong? I’m just wondering if you’re a friend of Kitty.”

“Kitty?” I said. “I don’t know anyone named Kitty in my life.”

“You’re wearing the same shirt she is. It made me think you must be connected to her somehow.”

“I looked down at my chest and saw that I had a Mets T-shirt on. I had bought it at a rummage sale earlier in the year for ten cents. “I don’t even like the Mets,” I said. “The Cubs are the team I root for.”

“It’s a weird coincidence … Katy is going to love it. She loves things like that.

Moon Palace, p,35

Sentence of the Day, 1st Sunday of October 2021

George Holliday, who recorded the beating of Rodney King, died on September 19th, aged 61.

Lead sentence, The man on the balcony,The Economist Obituary, 2 October 2021:

  • For near on nine minutes, George Holliday stood outside his second-floor windows with his three-pound Sony Handycam clamped to his eye.

It is quite an amazing article.

Quotes of the Day: The Winter’s Tale

“Go rot! Dost thou think I am so muddy?” — Leontes, The Winter’s Tale

Self grew to love Shakespeare only in middle age, and that was entirely because of Cal Shakes, which is in self’s humble opinion the Bay Area’s best theater company. Of course, it didn’t hurt that her first Cal Shakes play was Romeo and Juliet, where Romeo was played by ADAM SCOTT.

Since then, Cal Shakes has become firmly fixed as a rite of summer. Last year they were forced to cancel their entire season and lay off two-thirds of their full-time staff. This year, they came back with one play, The Winter’s Tale.

As soon as it was announced, self e-mailed son. She couldn’t believe it when he said right off that he would pass. Pass? How could he? He practically grew up with Cal Shakes! She used to bring carloads of his friends here! Of course, they’re all married now, but still!

She ended up seeing it with a friend, while it was still in previews. Before seeing it Sept. 12, self had never read the play, didn’t know anything about the play, would probably have gone through the rest of her life not giving a hoot about the play. Then, she saw it. Ummm. She sat stupefieadd and amazed for three hours. How stupefied and amazed? Exactly one week later she was back, by herself. By then, she’d already begun reading a hefty novel called The Slaughterman’s Daughter. She lugged it along, and remained in her seat through intermission, reading.

What’s really good about seeing a play alone is: you can eavesdrop. The person to her left (separated by two seats) was a woman perhaps a decade older than self, who’d come alone, and was wearing the cutest gold sandals. To her right was a family with teen-age girls, who were at Bruns for the first time, probably just to see what all the fuss was all about.

The parents were sitting immediately to self’s right, the daughters several rows behind. At intermission, the mother went to check on the girls. When she came back, the girls were trailing her. The mother told her husband:

“You know what, I just realized everyone thinks the King is an idiot.”

Daughter: “That’s cause he IS.”


Self could remember so many more lines, after watching The Winter’s Tale a second time:

“Good Queen, my Lord. GOOD Queen.”

“Gross hag!”

“Oh! She is warm!”

But her favorite line is the last: Hermione tells a repentant Leontes, “Let’s from this place.” And with that, the play ends. If anyone had told self a week ago that she would end up shipping Hermione/Leontes, she would have said, Get out!

This adaptation of The Winter’s Tale was by Cal Shakes Director Eric Ting and Resident Dramaturg Philippa Kelly. Kudos.

Her love for Cal Shakes is undiminished.

Stay tuned.

The Friendship Artist

Self is halfway through The Art of Leaving. She has been through the most gut-wrenching pages, and has learned from goodreads reviews that the author settles down, marries, has kids, becomes middle-class, content, blah blah blah. Therefore, self thinks it is *safe* enough for her to continue reading.

After the good Israeli boy who she dumped three times, (the last time in Miami, hope he doesn’t read this book), Tsabari has further affairs, one with a beautiful Italian woman, and another with a Canadian tourist she meets while backpacking around India. They travel together for two months, write, and she follows him to Vancouver. They get married (she needs a visa to stay in Canada). Alas, the marriage is short-lived, but Tsabari lands on her feet, like so:

  • I was wandering the streets of Vancouver searching for a reason to stay. I had just turned twenty-nine. Anand and I had broken up over a year earlier, and for the first few months, despite being broke and homeless, sleeping on friends’ couches, and living off damaged vegetables and expired dairy products, I was the happiest I’d been in years . . . I met Lydia at a belly dancing class in the community center.

This is what self finds so impressive about Tsabari: She never runs out of friends. In any country and in any city — whether it is Tel Aviv, Goa, New Delhi, New York, Los Angeles or Vancouver — there is always a friend ready to lend Tsabari her couch. And Tsabari spends a lot of time on different couches around the world. If it’s not a couch, it’s a rundown motel, where she makes love with her partner of the moment while cockroaches (sometimes rats) skitter across the ceiling. Sometimes, instead of cockroaches or rats, there are monkeys.

What a woman! Charging ahead, all systems go!

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

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