Sentence of the Day: Hampton Sides

One of the pleasures of reading Ghost Soldiers, by Hampton Sides, is reading his descriptions of Nueva Ecija, in the Philippines.

The Rangers have arrived at the POW camp in Cabanatuan. They’re spread out in the fields, waiting for cover of darkness.

  • The highway still held the day’s heat, a narrow strip of cooked asphalt half ruined by neglect and by war, the surface rubbed with potholes and forced open by thistles.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Local 2: Street Art, San Francisco

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is LOCAL.


4th St., San Francisco, This Morning

Hundreds of people passed by this sign, probably. How many noticed the art?


So whimsical! A closer look at the art.

Only in San Francisco. So random. Who was the artist?

This was on 4th and King, across the street from the Safeway.


Self doesn’t know why, this made her think of Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “It is only with the heart that one can see wisely.”

Oh, San Francisco. Crazy city. Crazy people. Art is everywhere.

Stay tuned.


That Point In the Story When —

No one is coming to help us, all right?”

That line was uttered by a passenger on UA 93. You know, the flight that went down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The passengers already knew that the plane had been hijacked and everyone had rushed screaming to the back of the plane and were all huddled there, gripping their cell phones and passing on hope.

And then one man said, very simply and quietly, and self can’t remember what his name was or where she read about him (it was probably The New Yorker, because she’s been subscribing to that magazine for almost her whole life): “No one is coming to help us, all right? We’re going to have to help ourselves.” And that’s when the passengers drew up a plan to fight back.

Self thinks this is so beautiful because, to tell the truth, she is very prone to what is referred to nowadays as ‘Magical Thinking’

  • My Masters from _______ will save me.
  • My 300-point Egyptian cotton sheets will save me.
  • My sarcasm and unflappable good nature will save me.

And then nobody saves you.

She’s still reading Ghost Soldiers, about the American POW camp in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. For the first time in three years, American fighter jets are spotted in the sky. They seem to be making a point to fly directly over the POW camp, as if taunting the Japanese guards. Or maybe warning them: you’re going to lose, so you’d better start treating the POWs well.

And that’s when the Japanese decide to siphon off 1,600 of the strongest and healthiest POWs and pack them into ships bound for Japan. And of course, no one wants to be among the number going to Japan, because they might very well die en route. And it seems so tragically pointless to die just when the Philippines is on the point of being liberated.

Author Hampton Sides shows all the fakery that individual POWs resort to keep from being on the list of prisoners being transported to Japan. Then he follows what happens on board this one ship (which makes self feel a little hopeful, since obviously there had to be survivors of this ordeal; otherwise, how could the author know how it all went down?)

Anyhoo, the POWs are crammed into the hold of this one ship, and they start to panic when the doors to the hold are shut. There’s pandemonium and yelling and suffering. Then one man (Sides gives us his name: Frank Bridget) climbs up on a stairway and shouts: GENTLEMEN! (Because this is the 1940s? And nowadays it would be something more like: LISTEN UP, DUDES!): “If we panic, we’re only going to use up more oxygen.”

Who was this guy? Where’d he come from? Like the man on UA 93, though, he was the right man at the right time. Who knows why?

This man rapped on the hatch and told the Japanese officers: “I am coming up to speak to you. And you are going to keep this hatch open.”

And they listened to him! Holy cow! If you insist on behaving like a human being, perhaps others will start remembering that they, too, are human beings? And then all the madness will stop?

The name of the ship the POWs were on was the Oryoku Maru.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Curious About the Kevin Hart Movie?

And you are! You know you are!

If you can’t get there, because you’re one of the 99% of Americans who have to work in an office (as opposed to tele-commuting, where no one can see you clock in or clock out, and no one will know if you decide to break up your workday by sneaking into a local cineplex), all you have to do is go to this great movie review website,, and read the (3-star) review there, by Odie Henderson.

Self must confess: this is the very first review by Henderson she’s ever read. So she cannot believe it when he writes, “. . .  I don’t have very much to tell you . . . I can’t tell you the jokes because I wouldn’t do them justice . . . My work here is done. Thank you, America! Good night and God bless!”

Mr. Henderson, if you should ever feel the need to branch out from your current line of work (movie reviewer: but why would you ever want to do that? Self would kill, KILL, for a job such as yours), she thinks you might be able to get a gig somewhere as a stand-up comedian.

Stay tuned.

The Raid on the Cabanatuan POW Camp: p. 164 of GHOST SOLDIERS

Much to the chagrin of the commander of the operations, it seemed like the American Rangers’ presence, so close to the POW camp in Cabanatuan, was an open secret to anyone within a day’s walk of the camp — no, to anyone in the entire province of Nueva Ecija.

First, more and more Filipino guerrillas kept appearing, offering their services. Next, the welcoming committee in Platero, the nearest town to the camp, arranged a veritable extravaganza:

The Americans had barely begun the approach to Platero when they were halted by the strains of singing, carried on the evening breeze:

The tune was hard to make out, at first, but then Prince caught it — “God Bless America,” the familiar stanzas rendered in thickly accented English, the melody charmingly curdled stale note. At the entrance to the town, a few dozen teenage girls dressed in white gowns were singing in sad, sweet voices. It was like a hastily arranged beauty pageant. The local school principal had gone door to door recruiting the prettiest young women from Platero and the surrounding countryside. Some of the girls shipped garlands of fresh sampaguita flowers over the Rangers heads and offered welcoming kisses.

Behind the cordon of singers, the village bustled with the sounds of cooking and preparation. The town were planning a feast. People were slaughtering their chickens and cows, building fires, stirring vats of stew. The villagers had prepared a classic Filipino fiesta, with all the gaiety and spare-no-cost lavishness, everyone brimming with a warmth that would almost seem cloying if it wasn’t so obviously sincere.

Self is convinced that everything, everything that happens in the Philippines, gets turned into melodrama at some point. Our history is full of tragi-comic events, and the one self has just finished reading is one of them. It’s the end of three years of occupation, one can say that the Filipinos were not doing too badly if they had enough food to impress the Americans.

The Filipino taste for drama shows them to be skilled comedians (and self remarks on this with a complete absence of irony, you’d better just take self’s word for it), with a comedian’s impeccable sense of timing. If the Japanese had spies in the village, they would have known for sure something was up, especially when the Filipinos de-camped and left the village a virtual ghost town. Self hoots because you know, you’re never sure what the ruse was: the welcoming committee or the fact that everyone took cover, as far from the field of action as possible.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

LOCAL: 14 October 2016 Daily Post Photo Challenge

. . . show us where your heart is.

— Jen H., The Daily Post

Dragon Papa!

Order your own hot (delicious) candy fillings.

752 Grant Street, Chinatown, San Francisco


Lillian’s son Tien is filling out college applications. To help him through the stress, self took him to Dragon Papa.


They make the candy, hot and fresh, just for you!


Only place in the San Francisco Bay Area where you can get your candy fresh! The original Dragon Papa is in Hong Kong.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Supernatural in World War II

The American Rangers who were tasked with freeing 500 American POWs from a camp in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, were flanked by a large group of Filipino guerrillas who escorted the Rangers to the camp and back. On pp. 112 – 113 of Ghost Soldiers, there is a section on moving through a field of native grass (cogon) at night.


A lot of the Filipinos believed the cogon fields were haunted places at night, and the Rangers could tell some of them were a bit spooked . . . Their devout Spanish Catholicism coexisted with a smattering of older ingidenous beliefs. Among other things, they believed in a certain demon called the aswang. An aswang was a person like anyone else during the day, but at night he shed his legs and sprouted wings and gadded around like a vampire, settling old scores and wreaking general havoc upon the land. In the country all around here, the nipa-and-bamboo dwellings were kept wide open and well ventilated during the day, yet in the evenings the Filipinos always shuttered their windows tight to keep these demons out. When aswangs were about, the last place you wanted to be was in an open field like this one.

In the passage, the preposition “he” is a mistake. Aswang are always, but always, women. They have long, forked tongues which they use to suck out the blood of infants.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More H2O: From Self and Others

For this week’s challenge, share a photo that features H2O: the element of water.

Lingnum Draco for The Daily Post (7 October 2016)

Below, two WordPress blogs whose shots of H2O were inspiring:

Here are self’s own shots of H2O:

The first two shots are of the Thames near Oxford.


Spring 2016: the Thames in Oxford


Riverboat on the Thames: Don’t leave Oxford without going on one of these!

Here’s a view of the Slaney Estuary in County Wexford, Ireland:


Slaney Estuary, County Wexford, Ireland: May 2016

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day: Captain Bertram Bank

Ghost Soldiers, p. 99:

To His Parents in Tuscaloosa, Alabama:

I am giving you fair warning right now when we get together in California I will probably spend my entire time drinking milk and eating.

Capt. Bert

A previous quote from Ghost Soldiers was from a soldier named Abraham “Abie” Abrahams. Perhaps alliterative names were a “thing” in America of the 1920s, when most — if not all — of these soldiers were born?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Elevator Scenes: Black-ish

Self watched The Emmys this year. Surely anyone watching would have heard about Black-ish.

She just stumbled on it tonight. There are two scenes in tonight’s episode that were so on-point, and both of them take place in an elevator.

Elevator Scene # 1:

There’s Anthony Anderson (She’ll insert his character name here as soon as she googles) about to step into an elevator. The elevator doors part, and here is a moment: there’s a little white kid in there, all alone. The kid has blonde ringlets. She looks like Shirley Temple. Her eyes are swollen from crying.

Anthony Anderson looks at her. He just looks at her. And in that moment, self knew exactly what he was thinking: He cannot, simply cannot, be laying his hands on a white child he doesn’t know.

While he stands there completely immobilized, the elevator doors close on the weeping child.

Elevator Scene No. 2:

Anthony Anderson and two colleagues stand in an elevator. The lone woman with them in the elevator car is white. She’s on her cell. She says, into her phone: My Visa Number is: xxxx-xxxx-xxxx, not giving a hoot about anyone else in the elevator. Anderson and his friends exchange looks behind her back.

White woman goes on to say: I’m single. And I live alone. Oh, don’t worry. The security cams don’t work. That’s just for show.

And by this time, the three men in the elevator are exchanging serious freak-out looks? Cause all three are African American.

Self was so LMAO! ROFL! LOL!

So good.

Stay tuned.

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