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December 27, 2013

Dear Faithful Readers

Dear Faithful Readers … both of you,

Like every year I have some lists to post. I don’t want to, but I am required to do so by international conventions, treaties, accords, and my blogger contract. I’ll put them all in one post this time. Hope you don’t get indigestion. Oh, go ahead, eat up.

You are more than welcome (what does that mean?) to respond with lists of your own. These are not complete, they’re mine. Here are my favorite films seen in 2013:

Another Earth
Blue Valentine
Bobby Fischer Against the World
Cedar Rapids
Diaz: Don’t Clean Up the Blood
Drag Me to Hell
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Gran Torino
Hugo Cabret
Italian for Beginners
Killer Joe
Margin Call
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Moonrise Kingdom
Never Let Me Go
Ruby Sparks
Sugar Man
Synecdoche, New York
The Boat that Rocked
The Company You Keep
The Disappearance of Alice Creed
The Ides of March
The Iron Lady
The Lady
The Way
This Must Be the Place

Here are my favorite books read in 2013:

A Visit From the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
Civilwarland in Bad Decline, George Saunders
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson
Grace (eventually), Anne Lamott
Mountain Sage, Elizabeth Stone O’Neill
O Jerusalem, Laurie R. King
Pastoralia, George Saunders
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard
Pirate King, Laurie R. King
Red Moon, Benjamin Percy
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, Laurie R. King
The Canary Trainer, Nicholas Meyer
The Final Solution, Michael Chabon
The God of the Hive, Laurie R. King
The Good Rain, Timothy Egan
The Last Skin, Barbara Ras
The Lost Years of Jesus, Elizabeth Clare Prophet
The Plot Against America, Philip Roth
The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop., Robert Coover
The Wilding, Benjamin Percy
The Women, T.C. Boyle
What I Didn’t See, Karen Joy Fowler

Here are the musicians, writers and others that I mourn from 2013:

Alan Myers (Devo)
Alan O’Day
Alvin Lee
Ann Rabson
Bob Brozman
Bobbie Smith (Spinners)
Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland
Bobby Rogers (Miracles)
Bobby Slone (Kentucky Colonels)
Claude King
Cleotha Staples (Staples Singers)
Colin Davis
Cowboy Jack Clement
Damon Harris (Temptations)
Deanna Durbin
Don Shirley
Donald Byrd
Enzo Jannacci
Eydie Gorme
Faith Petric
George Duke
George Jackson
Gordon Stoker (Jordanaires)
Hugh McCracken
Jack Greene
James DePreist
Janos Starker
Jason Molina
Jim Hall
JJ Cale
Jody Payne (Willie Nelson band)
Joey Covington (Jefferson Airplane)
Leroy 'Sugarfoot' Bonner (Ohio Players)
Little Willie Littlefield
Lou Reed
Louis Killen
Magic Slim
Marian McPartland
Marshall Lytle (Bill Haley & His Comets)
Mulgrew Miller
Neil Smith (AC/DC)
Noel Harrison
Patti Page
Patty Andrews
Peter Banks (Yes)
Phil Ramone
Philip Chevron (Pogues)
Ray Manzarek
Richard Street (Temptations)
Richie Havens
Rick Huxley (Dave Clark Five)
Roberto Ciotti
Shadow Morton (writer of Leader of the Pack)
Slim Whitman
Tony Sheridan (original Beatle)
Toshi Seeger (Pete’s wife)
Van Cliburn
Yusef Lateef

Allen Arbus
Annette Funicello
Dale Robertson
Dr. Joyce Brothers
Eiji Toyoda (100)
Esther Williams
Franca Rame
Jean Stapleton
Joan Fontaine
Jonathan Winters
Julie Harris
Les Blank
Margherita Hack
Nelson Mandela
Otto Sander
Ray Harryhausen
Roger Ebert
Ruth Asawa
Scott Carpenter
Sir David Frost
Stan Musial

Albert Murray
Amy Wallace
Barnaby Conrad
Bernard Waber
Carolyn Cassady
Chinua Achebe
Christopher Koch
Daniel Hoffman
Dena Epstein
Don Payne
Doris Lessing
E.L. Konigsberg
Elmore Leonard
Jack McCarthy
Jack Vance
John Hollander
Louis D. Rubin, Jr.
Oscar Hijuelos
Paul Kane Dufault
Paul Williams
Philip Slater
Richard G. Stern
Seamus Heaney
W. Watts Biggers
Wanda Coleman
William Harrison

So who gets their picture posted this year? The only person on any list that I really met. liked, and talked to at length at a fund-raiser for the Resource Center for Nonviolence about 30 years ago – Toshi Seeger.

Happy trials, Martin

Mutt: Happy Holidays, Your Jeff-ness.
Jeff: Same to you, jolly good old chap-ness. Got any good ones for the new year.
Mutt: No, fresh out. I am becoming increasingly worried and concerned that there isn't enough anxiety in my life. Plus I'm still not sure if I understand ambiguity.
Jeff: Hey, the world's full of apathy, but I don't care.
Mutt: Don't be redundant by repeating yourself. Twice.
Jeff: I have a twin brother; he's identical, but I'm not.
Mutt: Listen, amigo, if the cops arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent?
Jeff: What do you get when you cross the Atlantic Ocean with the Titanic?
Mutt: Oh boy, I don’t know.
Jeff: Half way.
Mutt: This is true. A boy was bagging groceries at a supermarket. One day the store installed a machine for squeezing fresh orange juice. Intrigued, the young man asked if he could be allowed to work the machine, but his request was denied. The store manager said, "Sorry, kid, but baggers can't be juicers."
Jeff: Wow. That’s awful.
Mutt: Every one a winner.
Jeff: And Best Wishes to you too.

December 7, 2013

Mandela & Mom

The death of Nelson Mandela made me think of Mom. We did some things together when I was a kid, but there were usually other brothers involved, or she just didn’t have time for an outing because she worked hard. When the boys all moved out, I’d go back home to visit, and me and Mom would go out for a walk around the Crystal Springs Reservoir or do something else. In the summer of 1990, she announced with a giggle of excitement that we were going to see Nelson Mandela who had just been released after 27 years in prison. She’d bought tickets for the two of us on the field at the Oakland Coliseum.

Willie Brown, flamboyant San Francisco mayor, spoke. Ron Dellums, radical representative, spoke. Harry Belafonte sang. They tried to make a cause-effect connection between the anti-apartheid movement in the U.S. and the changes the ANC demanded in South Africa. They passed the hat. Then the Great Man came to the microphone and stunned us with his presence. He explained the suffering of his people. He asked us for help. He thanked us. He repeated One Person, One Vote. He warmed our hearts. Then he left.

The cheering crowd was silent walking back to their cars. Mom felt like she’d witnessed an historical event. I was glad we’d done it together. I get my progressive politics from my mother. I get other things too, like my love of the Sierras and walking, libraries and baseball.

Did Mom need to be present when Mandela came because of her childhood in multi-racial Berkeley? Of course. And her college friend Bev who fell in love and married a black man in about 1950, who was disowned by her family and had only one friend left in the world, only one person attending the wedding, Mom.

Was my experience that day enhanced because, as you read below (way down), I spent the summer of 1975 in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) during the civil war that lasted twenty years? Of course. The social make-up of that country was similar to neighboring South Africa at the time, but the future would be almost the opposite. Zimbabwe in 2013 still has no peace (see Robert Mugabe); South Africa is an example of prosperity and multiethnicity … thanks to the man who would be, a few years later and for a few years only, President Nelson Mandela.

So thanks Mom. I can say I was there. We were there.

Happy trials, Martin

Mutt:  Hey Jeff, you ever eat Scottish-Asian food?
Jeff:  I know where this is going.
Mutt:  Where does McDonald's get its burgers from?
Jeff:  Macau.
Mutt:  Okay, how did Hitler tie his laces?
Jeff:  Ummm.
Mutt:  In little Nazis.
Jeff:  Hilarious. How did the dentist become a brain surgeon? Give up? His drill slipped.
Mutt:  Okay, how many sides does a circle have? Two: an inside and an outside.
Jeff:  You didn’t give me time to answer. What are half-sized quartz watches?
Mutt:  Pintz watches?
Jeff:  I don’t get it.
Mutt: You told it.  Okay, what are tired Army clothes?
Jeff:  Too easy. Fatigues. What city has the largest rodent population? You won’t get this.
Mutt:  Ummm.
Jeff:  Hamsterdam.
Mutt: What cruises down the riverbed at 60 mph?
Jeff:  A motorpike with two side carps.
Mutt:  You’re good. What did Godzilla say after eating a four-cylinder Datsun?
Jeff:  No idea.
Mutt:  "Gosh, I could have had a V-8!"
Jeff:  What did the alien dandelion say to the Earth dandelion?
Mutt:  "Take me to your weeder!"
Jeff:  Then what did the guitar say to the musician?
Mutt:  "Pick on someone your own size!" Got you.
Jeff:  Shut up.
Mutt:  You shut up.
Jeff:  You shut up.