Florida: Where Lightning Strikes

Self is still digging deep through her pile of stuff, languishing since 2015. Which is why the article about Trump that she reads this morning, in The New York Review of Books (September 2015) is so scary. Because it sounds exactly like right now. And Trump wasn’t even President yet.

If nothing else, the article, written by Michael Tomasky, shows that Trump did not suddenly sneak up on America like a Stealth bomber. His base was quietly building (like the ratings for his show, The Apprentice) for at least a decade.

An excerpt:

Is Trump not the logical culmination of where Republican politics have been headed for many years now, going back to the Clinton and Bush presidencies, but especially during the presidency of Barack Obama? Two qualities more than any others have driven conservatism in our time. The first is cultural and racial resentment, felt by the mostly older and very white population the GOP increasingly represents — resentment against a fast-changing, more openly sexual America, as well as against dark-skinned immigrants, and White House occupants, and gay people and political correctness and the “moocher class” and all the rest. The second is what we might call spectacle — the unrelenting push toward a rhetorical style ever more gladiatorial and ever more outraged (and outrageous), driven initially by talk-radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and now reproduced on websites, podcasts, and Twitter feeds too numerous to mention.

Self thinks that the reason the GOP and conservative pundits lash out at the survivors of the Florida School Shooting is: here are a group of kids challenging them on their turf: the media.

Dinesh D’Souza (who, when last self checked, was an adult, with a bestselling book yet) ridicules the Florida students who broke into tears when Congress refused to revive a bill that would ban assault rifles. Because D’Souza himself is a master manipulator of the media, but it took him decades to get there. And suddenly, almost overnight, the kids are everywhere: on the web, in our news, on television.

Which proves self’s point: In the last few decades, the GOP has become nothing more than a party of shills. Their power is the media, not the implementation of actual policy issues.

And in a party like that, of course the biggest shill of all would win his party’s nomination.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Question of the Day: WSJ, A4, Saturday/Sunday, Feb. 3 – 4, 2018


It was compiled by the Republican staff of the House Intelligence Committee and based on highly classified law-enforcement documents.

— article reported by Byron Tau and Rebecca Ballhaus

This is the memo commonly referred to on Twitter as ‘Yo Memo.’

Go straight to #YoMemoJokes.

Do not pass Go.

Stay tuned.

WSJ: Saturday/Sunday, Feb. 3 – 4, 2018

Top Headline: Memo Fuels Fight on Russia Probe

Graph: Markets Shudder on Inflation Signs

Other Page 1:

  • Fed Orders Wells Fargo to Change Board
  • Ice Dancing Has a Problem: There Aren’t Enough Men
  • Nigeria Brought Back Its Girls; Now Comes the Hard Part

Such a moment we are all living in.

Stay tuned.


When, a year or so ago, The New Yorker published a review of The Trespasser, by Tana French, self knew she had to read it.

Because of many, many distractions in the almost two years since, self is only getting around to reading The Trespasser now. In Paris.

Not that self thinks this is necessarily a bad choice of reading matter for Paris. It’s really cold outside, and the skies are grey. And the bathroom is enormous. The bathtub could sink a body. An entire body. The building opposite has a harp store, a beauty salon, and a wee grocery (open until 2 a.m.). To the right there is a five-star restaurant. To the left is a four-star restaurant. On one corner is a brasserie (packed to the gills with young Asian customers; self makes a note never to eat there. The only authentic brasserie, in self’s humble opinion, is one where most of the patrons look like they are locals), a block away is a pharmacy.

The last book she read before The Trespasser was also by Tana French: Broken Harbor.

Ms. French’s mysteries feature a constantly changing main narrator, but all are set in Dublin. Broken Harbor’s main protagonist was Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy. The Trespasser’s main protagonist is a woman whose name self can’t even remember, even though she’s on p. 154.

So far, one murder: a 26-year-old woman who “lived a boring life.” Nevertheless, she had “a true-crime library” and “read a lot of fan fiction. The sappy kind, not the sexy kind; my guy was sort of disappointed by that.” She didn’t even do “dating sites,” my God what is wrong with this murder victim? With a life so boring, self doesn’t know why she’s still reading. But reading she is. It’s p. 154, and all we’ve uncovered is a boring life.

Self misses the puck-ish irony of Muriel Spark, the twisted point-of-view of a Ruth Rendell.

Ms. French’s novels are dense with procedural detail. But, please. NOTHING HAS HAPPENED YET.

Yesterday (Christmas Day, lest one forget), self did absolutely nothing except watch CNN all day. The ticker tape at the bottom told of various Philippine disasters (It’s almost as if CNN knows the person watching is Filipino): flooding, a bus crash in northern Luzon, a fire in a call center that killed 38 people. Trump was at Mar-a-Lago (of course), posing for happy family pics with Melania, and trying to recover from the stress of holding public office (while being paid peanuts) by playing yet another round of golf.

On a more positive note, self was able to update one of her Gendrya. And today, she learned her story earned her six kudos. Not bad for one day.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Plan B for the Nuclear Apocalypse

Thank you, Chris Breault of The A.V. Club for a very informative article (dropped 21 April 2017). Since Kim “Little Rocket Man” Jong-Un and DT seem to be engaged in the most gigantic game of “chicken” ever, Breault asked:

What’s your plan for the day nuclear war breaks out?

Do you sprint to a fall-out shelter . . .

Do you walk out on the fire escape naked . . .

Do you escape the city on a motorcycle . . .

Many of us have no such plan, because we’ve already heard Sun Ra explain that if the button is pushed, our asses will simply be gone.

There is, wouldn’t you know, a U.S. Agency calling itself the Federal Preparedness Agency which would chopper “presidential successors” to “an installation on Mount Weather, Virginia.”

Here’s the link.

Among other fascinations, there is discussion of presidential code words, which be like — FOUR FINGER?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


2017 Highlights #1: To the Graduates of Bethune-Cookman

In a year of lowlights (“Rocket Man” and Fake News, the US pull-out from the Paris Climate Agreement, THAT DARN WALL, Charlottesville and “many sides,” the Las Vegas shooting, the Texas shooting, the dissembling of Sarah Huckabee Sanders), self would like to thank the graduates of Bethune-Cookman, for giving her one of the most stirring memories of 2017.

Betsy DeVos, the “woefully under-qualified Secretary of Education,” was invited to speak at the Bethune-Cookman commencement. This is the Secretary of Education who had not (yet) at that point announced that she would put an end to the loan assistance provided to those college students who intended to become teachers. But she had already said her piece about guns in schools: It would be appropriate #because grizzlies. Worst of all (This quote is taken from the open letter to the graduates of Bethune-Cookman, published in Cassius) was “her egregious framing of historically Black colleges and universities as pioneers in school choice.”

!!##@@ Put laughing-so-hard-its-painful emoji here.

The students stood and turned their backs. Literally.

The students defied the presence and rhetoric of DeVos.

Thank you.

Libretto, MARIFE

Ten years ago, in VCCA (Virginia Center for the Creative Arts), self was working on a novella called Marife, loosely based on the events of the Oklahoma City bombing.

A composer named Drew Hemenger, who she met at VCCA, worked with her to turn it into a full-length opera.

The orchestral suite was performed by Hampshire Symphony two years ago. In her most woebegone moments, Drew would direct self to this or that opera (Porgy and Bess?) which took 20 years to be performed. And self would say, “Drew. I do not have 20 years.”

Dear blog readers, this is just to let you know that two people, if they are determined enough, even with no money, can create an opera. The problem has always been finding people who want to stage it. So self is doing this blog on the opera, for the first time. In case someone has any ideas to share?

Here’s how the libretto begins:



They were talking and talking and talking.


About what?


How do I know? What men talk about. Fishing, maybe.




Yes, fishing.

Self remembers when she first presented the libretto to Drew, he looked at the 80 pages and said, “That’s going to take three days to sing.”

So self chopped off all the lines to about half their length.

Is that how one writes a libretto? Self doesn’t know. She never wrote a libretto before.

“And just put in the word love, as many times as you can,” Drew said.

“I am not that kind of writer,” self declared.

“This is opera! Do it!”

Right after the Las Vegas shooting, self saw so many parallels with the Oklahoma City bombing. She asked Drew, “Didn’t it strike you as eerie? The ammonium nitrate? The Filipina?” Drew said: “I don’t know. I’ve been trying to stay away from all the Las Vegas shooting news.”

At  one point, Drew met someone who said we could have it staged in the CCP, the Cultural Center of the Philippines. He nearly flew over to Manila.

And self asked: Who was she? And then: Drew, this is one walk you’re going to have to take alone.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

VOICES FROM CHERNOBYL: Viktor Latun, Photographer

He died from cancer of the blood. We had a wake, and in the Slavic tradition we drank. And then the conversations began again, until midnight. First about him, the deceased. But after that? Once more about the fate of the country and the design of the universe. Will Russian troops leave Chechnya or not? Will there be a second Caucasian war, or has it already started? Could Zhirinovsky become President? Will Yeltsin be re-elected? About the British Royal Family and Princess Diana. About the Russian monarchy. About Chernobyl, the different theories. Some say that aliens knew about the catastrophe and helped us out; others that it was an experiment; and soon kids with incredible talents will start to be born. Or maybe the Belarussians will disappear, like the Scythians. We’re metaphysicians. We don’t live on this earth, but in our dreams, in our conversations. Because you need to add something to this ordinary life, in order to understand it. Even when you’re near death.

— p. 193, Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, by Svetlana Alexievich (translated from the Russian by Keith Gessen)


p. 131, Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

Colonel Yaroshuk is dying now. He’s a chemist-dosimetrist. He was healthy as a bull, now he’s lying paralyzed. His wife turns him over like a pillow. She feeds him from a spoon. He has stones in his kidneys, they need to be shattered, but we don’t have the money to pay for that kind of operation. We’re paupers, we survive on what people give us. And the government behaves like a money lender, it’s forgotten these people. When he dies, they’ll name a street after him, or a school, or a military unit, but that’s only after he dies, Colonel Yaroshuk. He walked through the Zone and marked the points of maximum radiation — they exploited him in the fullest sense of the term, like he was a robot. And he understood this, but he went, he walked from the reactor itself and then out through all the sectors around the radius of reactivity. On foot. With a dosimeter in his hand. He’d feel a “spot” and then walk around its borders, so he could put it on his map, accurately.

Cleaning Up, Post-Apocalypse

A cameraman reports:

They were washing roofs. But how do you wash an old lady’s roof if it leaks? As for the soil, you had to cut off the entire fertile layer of it. After that there’s yellow sand. One old lady was following orders and throwing the earth out, but then scraping off the manure to use later. It’s too bad I didn’t shoot that.

— p. 105, Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

A friend will ask self what she is reading now. When she tells them, they go, Sheesh! (Sub-text: You really must be a glutton for punishment!)

The first night after she began reading this book, she arrived in New York City. She stayed up all night, bug-eyed. The first story is the worst, the absolute worst. You just want to shake the stupid woman and cry. There’s all this florid Oh woe is me! I love my husband! Let me kiss him on his radioactive lips so that my unborn baby will know I did it all for love!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

« Older entries

Rantings Of A Third Kind

The Blog about everything and nothing and it's all done in the best possible taste!

Sauce Box

Never get lost in the Sauce

GK Dutta

Be One... Make One...

Cee's Photography

Learning and teaching the art of composition.

Fashion Not Fear

Fueling fearlessness through style and inspiration.

Wanderlust and Wonderment

My writing and photo journey of inspiration and discovery


Decades of her words.

John Oliver Mason

Observations about my life and the world around me.

Insanity at its best!

Yousuf Bawany's Blog


Any old world uncovered by new writing

unbolt me

the literary asylum

the contemporary small press

A site for small presses, writers, poets & readers

The 100 Greatest Books Challenge

A journey from one end of the bookshelf to the other

Random Storyteller

“Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.”― Madeleine L'Engle

Rants Of A Gypsy

Amuse Thyself Reader!

FashionPoetry by Val

A blog. My blog


Just another Wordpress.com weblog

Jean Lee's World

Finder of Fantasy & Adventure in Her Own Backyard