Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Our Latest American Hero #34

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Army Sgt. Wakkuna A. Jackson, 21, of Jacksonville, Fla.; assigned to the 710th Combat Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.; killed Aug. 19 when an improvised explosive device detonated near her convoy vehicle in Kunar, Afghanistan. Also killed were Spc. Robert E. Drawl Jr. and Spc. Christopher F. Sitton.

“Three 3rd Brigade Combat Team Soldiers killed in Kunar Province, Afghanistan”

Blackanthem Military News, FORT DRUM, New York – Three Spartan Brigade Soldiers were killed in Afghanistan's Kunar Province August 19 when their vehicle was attacked with an improvised explosive device.

Sgt. Wakkuna A. Jackson, Cpl. Christopher F. Sitton and Spc. Robert E. Drawl Jr., were all members of the 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

The Soldiers were part of a convoy transporting supplies to an outlying camp when they were killed.

Sgt. Wakkuna A. Jackson, 21, was a health care specialist assigned to Company C, 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

Jackson, originally from Jacksonville, Fla., enlisted in the Army in February 2004 and completed basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C. She was assigned to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, from April to August 2004 to attend advanced training to become a combat medic.

She deployed with her unit to Afghanistan in early 2006.

Jackson's awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the Driver Badge.

She is survived by her mother, father and two sisters.

This Insane War

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
As some of you know, I have created a series of maps that honor the soldiers killed in our War on Terrorism, by state. It's part of my desire to make others as aware as I am of the real cost of our nation's policy regarding terrorism and aggression. As I look at the faces of the men and women who've passed into ancestry in my behalf I feel an overwhelming sense of unworthiness.

My life continues as if 9/11 never occurred, my world is essentially untouched, but for the rape of my wallet by the Oil Companies. And do I or YOU really value the lives of any of these departed souls, more that the difference between $2.70 a gallon and $3.30? (You do know that we are not fighting over "Democracy" or "Freedom," right? I mean, you're not that !@#%ing dumb!, right?)

Here, I offer a poster of the dead from the state of Louisiana. Given the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, it seemed the most fitting memorial to the blind courage and trust of American's from the "Delta State".

As an American who has never missed a chance to vote since he was able (the spring primaries in Michigan in May of 1979), and who has even navigated the bureaucracy of voting absentee when necessary (the presidential elections of 1984 from Costa Rica), I have never felt a more powerful desire among others to effect change, or a more personal sense of despair that such change can occur in an honest and fair way given our voting machines and the total corruption of the heart of the Republican Party to create a most undemocratic nation in the United States.

Look into these faces. Imagine what we have lost. Multiply it out into every state and into nations all around the world. Take a calculator and press the times (x) key by 1300 with the faces on this map of Louisiana, and see the number of Iraq's who've been killed and wounded -- and we smart about "terrorism" on our shores?! We have become, under our evil leadership's agenda, the world's greatest instigators of it. Our actions and presence in Iraq have even bested nasty ole Saddam at this point in precipitating deaths....yet, we are not on trial.....

Well, not officially, anyways. In the court of public opinion and in the world of public sentiment we are guilty---nay, evildoers--from the Tiber to East Timor, from Nova Scotia to New Zealand, from Bolivia to Borneo and every alliterated geographical location in between. As an AMERICAN this shames me.

We are hostages to a bunch of twisted, spoiled, cowardly FRAT BOYS using our nation and abusing it's reputation, resources, and potential to play their absurd fascist form of "Risk".

Monday, August 28, 2006

What I'm Watching #29

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
"Ma Vie en Rose" is a movie about how life IS -- initiated from the point of view of the ultimate outcast: a little boy who sees the world from his perspective as a girl. It's an amazingly courageous film that depicts the rifts that his confused, innocent, and incessant choices exact upon his family. And how his family grows along with him into a more cohesive and whole entity.

Hight production values. Surrealistic moments. An A-typical ending (for a French/Belgian film....the Belgian influence, no doubt! -- It's a little happy, a little hopeful....)

Every teacher, social worker, school counselor, and progressive ordained person SHOULD see this film as a fundimental aspect of their education. Period.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Mr. S. Sketch, 1990

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I happened upon an old sketch book of mine and several sketches of my dearest friend, Mr. S. We shared a home briefly back in 1989-1990, prior to his marriage. Whenever I stumble upon one of these old notebooks it makes me wish I had the time to draw again...there's always retirement!

Goings On About Town

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Another reason to love "The New Yorker" magazine. Each issue has a page featuring five events happening during the week. And each of these pages always features a lush photo. Here are three from this summer's offerings. Bravo, TNY photographers!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Our Latest American Hero #33

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Army Spc. Jose Zamora, 24, of Sunland Park, N.M.; assigned to the 2nd Brigade Troop Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed Aug. 6 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee while conducting combat operations in Baghdad. Also killed were Sgt. Carlton A. Clark and Staff Sgt. Stephen A. Seale.

"Flags Flown At Half-staff To Honor Soldier"

SANTA FE — Gov. Bill Richardson on Wednesday ordered flags across the state to fly at half-staff in honor of a 24-year-old soldier from Sunland Park who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

Army Cpl. Jose Zamora’s tour in Iraq was set to end next month and he planned to return home to southern New Mexico. He was assigned to the 2nd Brigade Troop Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.

Zamora joined the Army in 2003 and deployed to Iraq last year. He graduated in 2000 from Santa Teresa High School, where he played the clarinet in the marching band, learned to play guitar and was on the tennis team.

Family members said he planned to get married in January and hoped to work for the U.S. Customs Service or Border Patrol.

Richardson’s executive order calls for flags to fly at half-staff from Thursday until sundown Friday.

Zamora is survived by his parents Anna Maria and Jose I. Zamora, sisters Anabel Zamora-Gibson and Diana Zamora and his fiancee Nadine Robles.

Angriest Cities In The United States?

Tea Sketch 1 - Angry People
Originally uploaded by pigpogm.
MSN has an article that takes into account three factors from recent data in order to calculate the "Angriest Cities in America". The touch points are percentage and degree of High Bloodpressure; the severity and frequency of Road Rage; and the percentage of Workplace Deaths from assault and other violence.

Here's their conclusions.

1. Orlando, FL
2. St. Petersburg, FL
3. Detroit, MI
4. Baltimore, MD
5. Nashville, TN
6. Wilmington, DE
7. Miami, FL
8. Memphis, TN
9. Jacksonville, FL
10. St. Louis, MO
11. Chicago, IL
12. Tampa, FL
13. Jackson, MS
14. Albuquerque, NM
15. Charlotte, NC

And here's my questions: What percentage of the total score was determined by blood pressure? As we age, we experience higher blood pressure and a lot of these cities are places where elderly Americans retire to. Additionally, African American also experience higher levels of blood pressure. Many of these cities have significant Black populations. Elderly people drive more cautiously and more incorrectly, which fuels the anger of others on the road, especially on roads designed for high speed travel. These studies may be interesting, but they are rarely thorough.

Anecdotally, I visit Baltmore a couple of dozen times a year to be with friends and visit museums and I have yet to encounter an "Angry" person!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Two Takes on Modern Love

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
These are two links to two short films sent to me by a friend.

I laughed out loud at the first one, and found the second one very clever.

Their links are:

for "CONSENT":

And for "LOVE":

Both are archived at which is a great website for viewing independent and avant garde films.

Monday, August 21, 2006

What I'm Watching #28

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I was absolutely thrilled to see this American Playhouse, theatrical film adaptation of the Terrence McNally play "Andre's Mother," available on video. As a movie, it views like a play. It's principles shine here with such dramatic restraint and power. Sada Thompson and Richard Thomas are brilliant: and their supporting cast is amazing.

The premise is set as a series of flashbacks triggered by the words spoken at Andre's memorial service. At one point early on, a friend performs "L'Amero, Saro Costante" from "Il Re Pastore," an obscure opera by Mozart (kershall #208). It's one of the most amazing aria's ever written. I never tire of listening to it.

It's a play whose lines became a language unto itself in my one significant relationship. "Don't pull a face, Katherine." meant: Please, don't be angry with me. "I had no idea how bitter about life your were" (response) "Neither did I!" meant: Don't be an asshole about this or that. "I believe in self-expression; I just think that it ought to mean something to someone else." meant: Am I wrong, but isn't this weird? Or, Do you get it? And on an on. Like Capt. Picard with the Darmok, a literary illusion spoken in a simple phrase bore the power of nuance and meaning that both conveyed a world of shared "knowings" and on occasion defused a difficult moment.

How we all use words assembled for one purpose to bring meaning to others, and how profound such words become in relationships in which they also represent shared experiences, shared understandings, shared a layer that makes this DVD a very intense one for me.

Still learning to let go of balloons.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

My Town

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
has a new website! It's nice. Check it out:

What I'm Watching #27

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Big day for videos. This was the second of my two "brother" flicks (the first "Los Jornaleros" WIW #26).

"Three Dancing Slaves" (2004) is a savvy and well constructed film that chronicles the lives of three adult brothers who are trying to survive the death of their mother in the shadow of their milk-toast father. It's a carnival of wounded souls.

And it's French so there is no puppy or caught football in the end. Just life moving forward without a plan or guidance. Like where cause produces effects, and the occasional act of kindness or betrayal seems to come out of no where and from the least expected place.

High production values, painful at times. Keep the kleenex handy, but don't avoid the chance to see it. Reviews on the package call it "sexiest mainstream gay movie ever." Might be a bit over the top, but Nicolas Cazalé who portrays the middle brother, Marc, is one of the out and out sexiest men I've seen in a movie in a long time and busy (he has three films debuting in 2007). Also fans of "Come Undone" will appreciate seeing Stéphane Rideau again (an actor who has not made a film since).

Saturday, August 19, 2006

My How Time Flies!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Check this video out:

God Works In Mysterious Ways

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I know my friends at school would see nothing unusual about God performing a miracle vis a vis chocolate. There are still some among even my dearest and longest-suffering colleagues who find the fact that I don't particular like chocolate sacreligious.

This "miracle" is from the chocolate drippings that formed under a vat at "Bodega Chocolates". And who's to say? It's appearance will no doubt be a blessing to the bottom line at Bodega Chocolates! But my friend, Mr. V., sums it up this way, "It looks like poop to me."

What I'm Watching #26

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Among my new DVD's are a couple of "brother" films. This one shot in both Spanish and English "Los Jornaleros" tells the story of three cousins from Mexico who come to America illegially in search of the better life. They start out as day laborers, and end up moving in directions that strain and break the bonds of love and family that they share. One comes to terms with his gay sexuality, another finds and then looses the love of his life, and the third joins in the drug trade. In the end, all is made right again, but only after a crisis that nearly ends the trio for good. With luck and forgiveness, grace and acceptance, they do discover that dreams still do come true.

It's a very sweet film.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

What I'm Listening To #15

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Ecclectic is my nature.

Michael Bublé certainly fits the bill. Such a beautiful Jazz voice. Not so completely honed as Harry Connick, Jr.; but on another level ~ purer, simpler, truer to the innocence of early Sinatra, Tomé, Bennett.

Easier on the ears than the eyes.--and he's some very sweet eye candy! An artist whose career is more than worth encouraging by the simple act of patronage. Buy "It's Time" and then relax with it.


What I'm Watching #25

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Yes, I got another order in of DVD's!

"Adam & Steve" is produced by the same people who brought us "Latter Days" which I found to be an amazing movie that everyone should see. I'm not as universally enthusiastic about A&S, but given the fact that it is meant to be a farce, I am by no means saying don't find a way to see it.

The weakest part of the movie is the beginning, which is really unfortunate given how important first impressions can be! And it's a matter of actors who are in their mid to late thirties, who could easily play mid to late fifties with a little community theatre latex and make-up, trying to play 21.... I know that's not a nice thing to say, but hey, if I am to have any integrity in these commentaries, it HAD to be said. In fact, Craig Chester (Adam) looked younger in his park ranger outfit as a 38 year old washed up coke addict, than he did in white-face Goth devotee mode, as his 21 year old drug free former self. Not exactly consistant with an egg in a hot skillet.....

The supporting duo of Chris Kattan and Parker Posy provide some of the funniest moments in the movie, and it is not without it's poignant pricks (no pun intended!). Scenes featuring quirky minor characters are also humorous, most notably, Adam's "unlucky cursed" family.

At times playing like an SNL skit and at others reaching for something far more polished, given half a suspension of belief, you actually come to like the characters enough to allow the ending to affect you....i. e. when is a good happy cry not a good thing? Kleenex alert!

Worth the rental, glad I bought it, works best with a glass of wine.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Our Latest American Hero #32

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Navy Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class (Petty Officer 2nd Class) Marc A. Lee, 28, of Hood River, Ore.; a member of a West Coast-based SEAL Team; killed Aug. 2 during combat operations while on patrol in Ramadi, Iraq.

“Navy SEAL From Hood River Died Saving His Team Members”

Marc Alan Lee, 28, was killed while on active duty in Ramadi. His mother, Debbie Lee, said her son staged an offensive diversion in a moment of crisis. He reportedly made the decision to sacrifice his life after another SEAL was hit by sniper fire and several men were trapped inside a building.

“It was so like Marc to give up his life to save his friends. I am so proud of him — he is my hero,” said Lee.

She said Marc lived with a strong Christian belief that he was here to make a difference for the good. It was that commitment to God that led her son into the military. And then gave him strength during the grueling training to become a member of the elite Special Forces team.

“He’s up in heaven now and I can get through this because I know that I will see him again. It’s the here and now that’s hard,” said Lee.

Marc was home schooled for much of his education. But also attended Horizon Christian School and played soccer with the Hood River Valley High School team. Four years ago he married Maya Elbaum and they made their home in New York.

Debbie, who moved to Arizona in December, said a local memorial service could be planned once all of the details of her son’s burial are decided upon.

“Marc touched lives everywhere he went because of the person that he was. He will be missed,” she said.

Lee said in spite of coping with the grief of losing a beloved son, she still believes that America needs to be engaged in the war on terrorism. She said it was his patriotic desire to defend his countrymen that led Marc into the fatal battle. Out of respect for him, and other military members making the ultimate sacrifice, Lee said the job needs to be finished and not abandoned.

“I still believe it is right for us to be there. I wish the media would do a better job of reporting on the good things that are happening for the Iraq people because of us,” Lee said.

Until recently, Lee’s oldest son, Kris, 32, was also on active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps. Her son-in-law, Chris Wells, is an Army veteran.

“Gov. Kulongoski Writes About The Service For Marc Lee”

Gov. Kulongoski, who went to San Diego on Saturday to attend the service for Navy SEAL Marc Lee of Hood River, sent the following note about the experience:

"I wanted to let you know about the memorial service for Petty Officer Second Class (SEAL) Marc A. Lee this past Saturday at the Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego. I flew down to San Diego early Saturday morning on military transportation. I was assigned a Navy Commander named Roger Meek. He is the nephew of John Meek who served in the Oregon Legislature in, I think, the late 80's and early 90's from Hillsboro. They are descendants of the Meeks who came to the Oregon Territory in the 1840's.

"The Commander grew up in Tacoma but knows a great deal about his family and Oregon. He has been in the Navy about 26 years and is the Commanding Officer, Naval Special Warfare Operational Support Team One out of San Diego. He was an enlisted man for the first ten years of his Navy career and then got his B.A. and became an officer. A very interesting person and I njoyed him very much.

"I was told that there are about 2,000 Navy SEAL's in the U.S. Navy and Petty Officer Lee was the first to die in Iraq. They have lost 16 SEAL's in Afghanistan including another Oregonian, Petty Officer First Class Jeffery Lucas. He died in June of 2005.

"Half of them must have been in the Base Chapel for the service. They are a very professional and proud group of sailors. The camaraderie and esprit de corps was overwhelming. The service lasted for about an hour and 45 minutes and was very moving. A number of SEALs spoke, including three of his teammates who were flown home from Iraq for the service. A lot of shaved heads and they all sat ramrod straight throughout the service. I have never een so many Admirals in one room in my life. I sat in a pew next to two Lieutenant Admirals who flew in from Washington D.C. Petty Officer Lee's mother spoke and is a very religious person. I understand Marc was very religious. He had been married for about 4 years to a woman from upstate New York who is a fashion designer. I spent some time with her and found her a wonderful person. They did not have any children.

"Petty Officer Lee was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon and numerous other decorations. He was a real hero. He was the SAW gunner for his team and was very well respected by his teammates. He was an outstanding SEAL and human being. They said he was first in his class at Navy SEAL School. They read some letters he had written to his family and they were very moving.

"I am glad I went....”

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What I'm Watching #24

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I remember when I first found this play and read it many years ago now. It really touched me as a read, and so when I found that it had been made into a theatrical/movie, I bought it. As an off-broadway play, it holds the distinction as being the longest running one-person production. It tells the stories of the author and actor, David Drake and his journey as a gay man. Childhood awareness, the first kiss, the Kramer kiss!, the theater bug, the AIDs epidemic, the unapologetic sex, the fantasy future. All well done. I laughed, and yes, I did cry. Same reaction that I had to the book. Like finding an old friend.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

"I (duh) Like The Cookie"

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
And I like the movie!

The premise is actually very simple. The animation, standard fare for the most part. So where does "Over The Hedge" make points?

First the Cast: Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, Wanda Sikes, William Shatner, Alison Janney, Steve Carrell, Nick Nolte, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Thomas Haden Church, Avril Lavigne, and Omid Djalili. Each voice is unique and very well adapted to the characters. Some choices are interesting: Nolte, for example, as the voracious inept, that's "verminator"; and some very safe, Sikes, she's got one of the most distinctive tambours in Hollywood; and still others are gifts: Shatner, who's overly dramatic portrayal is both spot on and self-referential. I only wish that Janney wasn't the villain.... just love her work on West Wing and other shows.

And second, are a few moments of genius. The most glaring of which is the recalibration of time experienced by the universe as the result of giving Hammy, the hyperactive squirrel, a caffeine laced soft drink. HI-larious!

Not as well crafted in plot and character development as "Cars," but not nearly as long either! And well worth every minute!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

My Heaven, too

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I just got off of the phone with a friend who’s working through the imminent death of someone who is very dear to them. Listening to her recall the depth of their friendship and knowing that it has been a long and mutual relationship between kindred spirits, I felt the hollowed ground upon which I was being asked to stand. Theirs is the kind of friendship that even though they don’t live in physical proximity to one another, the sense of caring and comfort is still most intimate.

It’s times like this when one’s religion meets the road. And as we are both people of Christian sensibilities, but not of that seemingly dominant faction who live their faith blindly and without apparent personhood. We neither of us made mention of God or Heaven. It would have been redundant.

Now I’m sewing and listening to CD’s as she travels some distance to be at her friend’s bed side for what will likely be the last time in this life. Ironically, I had Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Between Here and Gone” playing when she called. The last time I had been to Wolf Trap for a concert it was with this same friend and it was this CD and singer that was featured.

One of my favorite tracks from the CD is “My Heaven”. In it, Mary muses upon what her heaven will be like, and I like it. It’s not the heaven of the evangelical or the’s just the heaven where the rest of us will hopefully land.

by Mary Chapin Carpenter

Nothing shatters nothing breaks
Nothing hurts and nothing aches
We've got ourselves one helluva place in my heaven
Looking down at the world below
A bunch of whining, fighting schmo's
Up here we've got none of those, in my heaven

There's pools and lakes and hills and mountains
Music, art, and lighted fountains
Who needs bucks here, no one's counting
In my heaven
No one works, we all just play
We pick the weather everyday
If you change your mind, that's ok, in my heaven
Grandma's up here, Grandpa too
In a condo with to-die-for views
There's presidents and movie stars
You just come as you are
No one's lost and no one's missing
No more parting just hugs and kissing
And all these stars are just for wishing
In my heaven

There's little white lights everywhere
Your childhood dog in Dad's old chair
And more memories than my heart can hold
When Eva's singing "Fields of Gold"

There's neighbors, theives and long lost lovers
Villains, poets, kings and mothers
Up here we forgive each other, in my heaven
For every soul that's down there waiting,
Holding on, still hesitating
We say a prayer of levitating, in my heaven
You can look back at your life and lot
But it can't matter what you're not
By the time you're here, we're all we've got
In my heaven
In my heaven
In my heaven

The Little Things

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Sometimes it's just the little things.....

I planted this trumpet vine 5 years ago and inspite of its growth to the top of the house, it's never bloomed. That is until now. Now it has for the record one, exactly one, cluster of buttery yellow blooms right outside of my second floor bedroom window. Wow.

Friday, August 11, 2006

More Quilt

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
It's coming together. These 6 blocks will be joined by 6 more so that the final array will be 3 x 4, instead of this 2 x 3 portion. The borders joining the blocks are meant to evoke a finely crafted door or trunk inlaid with precious jewels. So far, I'm liking the effect.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bad Hair Morning

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Even going bald, as I am, I can relate to this cartoon. Every single folicle has a mind of its own! This is pure tickle-box repair! Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Gerrymandering? Give me a break!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I got a phone call from the "Democratic Congressional Legislative Committee" tonight. The woman wanted to incite me by declaring that the Republicans have used their largesse to pay for the gerrymandered re-districting of states like Texas and Pennsylvania. And I already know that this is true. But I also know that in the last cycle the Democrat lead legislature of Maryland played the same game for our side!

The map shows how gerrymandered the US House districts in Maryland are. I told her that I HATE gerrymandering, and that I was gerrymandered out of Albert Wynn's (D) 4th district and into Connie Morella's (R) 8th district where I gladly helped elect Chris Van Hollen (D) as her usurper.

I let her know that I will NOT give money to an appeal that deceives and plays upon the insecurities of the constituency. I expect to be treated like a piece of crap by the opposition, and when my party chooses the same format, they have no part of me!~ i.e. my money!

And I am not cheap. The older I get, the more I understand that money not only makes the world go 'round'; it also helps to shape the nature of that world. So my nickels and dimes have already gone to candidates like: Peter Ashdown (UT - Senate), Barry Sanders (VT - Senate), Kweisi Mfume (MD - Senate), Ned Lamont (CT - Senate), Andrew Duck (MD - HRep Dist 8), all to the tune of $500.00 total bucks, so far. Chump change in the totality of the political university. But we all gotta start somewhere. We must put our money where our mouth is--where ours hearts are, even if such acts of generosity appear to be singularly insignificant. Cause if we ALL do, it will cease to be insignificant.

Yet, this caller received nary a dime from me. I DO NOT GIVE TO POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS. I do not see any need for anyone else to speak with my limited dollars in my behalf! I don't even support the United Way. It's a greedy little scam which may provide supporters with moral cover on a personal level, but robs them of any moral authority. What ring do the LAZY inhabit in Dante's Inferno?

We Are Not Alone

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.

Global warming is a global thing, after all. And now it seems that China will experience the effects of it's own contribution of hydro-carbons into the atmosphere's "greenhouse".

With winds of 160 mph, and regular gusts approaching 200 mph, heaven help the people living along the coast.

How many "natural disasters" will we as a global community have to bare before we wake up and understand our global interconnectedness and work toward counteracting this trend?

Random Quote #52

“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a few mosquitoes.”
~ African Proverb

"Am I Not Human?

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Prick me. Do I not bleed?" Shylock ~ William Shakespeare

I read recently where the US Congress was planning to discontinue funding that paid for the display of symbols other than Christian on grave stones at Arlington National Cementary. After some debate, the measure was amended in such a way that it dis-allowed a practicing Wiccan from having a symbol of Nature Worship/Witch Craft from being displayed instead.

So first they take away the Pagans, but I did not complain, because I was not a Pagan.....blah, blah, blah. Next will it be Cpt. Khan's stone? Then yours? Mine?

This growing Facism isn't even subtle anymore.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Art I'm Seeing #7

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Also at the National Gallery of Art (see "Art I'm Seeing #6 ~ 07 JUL 06) is an exhibition of the works of Henri Rousseau. The show is titled "Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris," but it's really far more comprehensive than simply a collection of his tropical-themed paintings. Paintings that anyone who's taken any art survey course would readily associate with the artist.

As such, I really had never given him much thought. This exhibition, which I entered innocently enough, grabbed me and made me re-examine my prejudices.

Rousseau was an ambitious late bloomer in the art world of late 19th century Paris. He never took a lesson in painting and only began to explore his ideas in the medium in his forties after spending most of his life in a monotonous civil servant post. Yet, he set his sights on the world of the Parisian Salon exhibitions, and spent the rest of his life seeking their respect and recognition.

But his desire and fascinatingly profound technique never really penetrated the hearts of the establishment. Instead, he quickly became a favorite of the avant-garde. Chief among his admirers was Pablo Picasso, who both praised Rousseau and purchased his paintings for his private collection.

While the show explores many genre of Rousseau's paintings, in all fairness to it's title, it does both begin and end with examples of his jungle paintings. Having never actually visited a jungle, Rousseau relied on other sources to form his images, and here's where the exhibit really shines. In an effort to make real this aspect of Rousseau's world there is a spectacular display of covers from the turn of the century Parisian tabloid "Le Petit Journal" depicting both African scenes and African fauna. There are two utterly magnificent bronze sculptures by contemporary artist Emmanuel Frémiet (one of a gorilla abducting a nearly naked woman, and the other of a she-bear attacking a nearly naked man who holds the lifeless body of a cub noosed and dangling from his belt. Both are so amazingly dramatic and visceral that I hope someone does an exhibition of Frémiet's work some time soon!). Also this amazing taxidermy sculpture of the lion attacking the antelope presented here (above).

Given the distinct similarity between the model, which was first displayed in 1889 at the opening of the Zoological Galleries of the Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris and the detail from the painting "The Hungry Lion Throws Itself on the Antelope," 1905, it seems clear that this image was his inspiration. In addition, the catalogue records Rousseau's description of the painting: "The hungry lion throws itself upon the antelope, devours him; anxiously the panther awaits the moment that he too can claim his share. Birds of prey have torn a strip of flesh from the poor animal that is shedding a tear! The sun sets."

Far from the end of his prolific career, but still clearly shunned by the academy that he so longed to be a part of, I see a theme here. Monsieur Rousseau...the antelope?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Sans Comment.....

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.

Law & Order Coloring Book~!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
What's this, you say? Can it be?

Don't take my word for it. Check it out @

Art I'm Seeing #6

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Went into the National Gallery of Art today, and saw a couple of shows. This one, "Charles Sheeler: Across Media," explores how Sheeler used the mediums of photography, film, painting, and drawing to explore his ideas. The way in which the work done in one medium influenced and supported work in the other mediums is the essence of the exhibition.

In the images presented here, you see a photo self-portrait of Sheeler before a drawing in his studio and the same pose in the painting entitled "The Artist Looks at Nature." Curiously the drawing, that of a pot-belly stove in a farmhouse interior, is the same in both works. Sheeler enjoyed working with geometric forms and often chose buildings, industrial sites, and man made objects as subjects. And even here you can see how important the retaining wall is to the composition.

One thought that came to me as I studied this work was the similarity in palettes and technique between Sheeler and my beloved Rockwell Kent. In particular, the way in which the shadow of the retaining wall is painted so that it almost appears to be giving off a light of it's own. Kent also does this, most notably in his arctic paintings of Greenland.

It's a small show, easily done in an hour with plenty of time for contemplation. A great way to cool off on a hot and humid August afternoon.

What I'm Listening To #14

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
A new discovery for me, know I'm late to the party. Been a while since I found a new band that I really like. Acoustic in general, and intimate, like being at a small club with a front row seat, I wouldn't call it a "happy" CD. My favorite track is Roka (danza de la muerta)

"sleeping in the valley, valley of ill fortune
waking cross the river, river of delusion
full moon lures the waves, waves of desperation
empty hearts and mouths wither away
so close your eyes
slow your breath
dream of northern lights
around this dance of death
no abandones, no llores, busca tu rio
no te sientas perdido
gira, vuelta y vuelta gira
danza de la muerte
que viene a verte

words are just words without the music. The music to this song is decidedly hypnotic.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

My Latest Quilt, Block #2

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
After creating a couple of blocks around the fabrics used in my previous post, I chose some new fabrics. Originally, I planned to choose 3 different fabrics, but came to the realization that the outer most frame would be a unifying aspect in the whole -- as is the gold finish and the batik technique used in the innermost section.

(see: My Latest Quilt Block #1 for more of this reflection by scrolling down a little: It was posted with image on 05 AUG 06.)

Anecdote in a Time of War

The other day I was heading home from working at school, and typically I take the Georgia Avenue exit off of the Beltway heading south. This route brings me into downtown Silver Spring, MD before I head east on Sligo Avenue. As I approached my turn I was stopped at a red light and glanced at the macho Dodge Durango to my left. The occupant of the passenger seat glanced back and the window lowered. A sense of urgency addressed his face, and I rolled down my window in kind. He was a muscular white man with a military style buzzed hair-cut. The driver was an attractive blond who clearly shared his concern for help.

That's when I noticed his prosthetic arms, and he asked me if I knew how to get to Walter Reed Army Hospital..... I assured him that he was on the right street and gave him a sense of how much farther it was to Walter Reed. As the light changed and traffic moved forward I held back in order to switch lanes and make my left turn onto Sligo. The Durango's liscence plate was from Texas.

Without jumping to any conclusions, because I'll never know about these two beyond what that moment provided, FACT; Walter Reed Army Hospital is the place where many profoundly injured soldiers from Irag/Afghanistan end up. And Fact, as of August 4, 2006 the DOD website reports that just over 20,000 soldiers (20,199) have been injured as a result of our incursions in the middle east.

And what do we honestly have to show for it?
~ World Peace? Ask an Isreali, a Lebanese, an Iraqi, an American.....
~ Prosperity? Why can't we raise the minimum wage for the working POOR? Why are local and state taxes going up? Why has the price of gas nearly doubled? Why are these companies allowed to make record profits and not return something back to the nation as a response to their greed?
~ Democracy? Why can't most states hold recounts anymore because of faulty and fraudulent electronic voting machines?

You see how one little encounter can lead to thoughts of a world gone mad? No wonder I turned onto Sligo with a tear in my eye...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Our Latest American Hero #31

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Hero is taking on a whole new meaning under this incompitent and self-serving regime.......

It’s been a particularly A-typical week in military deaths for the war on terrorism.

#1 is Andrew Velez. Only 22. Do you remember what you where doing when you where 22? That’s 23 years ago for me. I was in my senior year at college. I was really confused about the future. So much so, that I started a whole new major, after realizing that my first attempt at direction in my life was horribly mis-directed.

Now place me in a foreign country. Surround me with a culture that does not speak my language, does not understand my “god,” does not even eat the same things that I eat and bring me comfort. Add to the mix outrageously hot temperatures, the real threat that at any moment someone will kill me, the loss of friends and my brother under the same situation, and finally the loss of support of my significant other.... Give me a break! Was Andrew a super man?


Army Spc. Andrew Velez, 22, of Lubbock, Texas; assigned to the Corps Support Battalion, Theater Support Command, Fort Irwin, Calif.; died July 25 from a non-combat related injury in Sharona, Afghanistan.

“One Of Two Brothers Killed In Conflicts Overseas Committed Suicide”

Lubbock, TX (AHN) - Family and military officials say one of two brothers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan committed suicide.
A military document says Army Spc. Andrew Velez, 22, shot himself with a mini-machine gun on July 25. The soldier's father, Roy Velez, confirmed his son was having marital problems.

More than a year earlier, his older brother, Cpl. Jose "Freddy" Velez, 23, was killed in Iraq.

Roy Velez says grief over the deaths of his sons, who were the first brothers to die in the two conflicts, keeps him up at night.

He says, "It's not easy to sleep." But "I'm proud of my sons. I miss them, but it was to defend their country, their God. They volunteered to go."

Roy and his current wife Veronica Velez have three children together, ages 2, 3 and 5.

Velez enlisted in the Army following his graduation from high school in 2002. He escorted his brother's body back from Iraq in 2004.
Freddy Velez also joined the Army after high school, in 2000. He was killed when his unit was attacked in Fallujah.

My Latest Quilt Block #1

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I usually make at least one quilt in August. It's probably due to the "Summer's almost over and WHAT have got to show for it!" syndrome. No known cure, but I do make some of my best quilts because of it!

Background: I live in a very ethnically diverse neighborhood. A quick sweep of the houses within eye-shot will reveal people with ancestry of emigration from Germany, Guyana, Japan, China, Senegal, Honduras & Italy. We also have an African American architect, and a bona fide southern white with a red neck and a red car a la "The Dukes of Hazard". Add my own thoroughly Anglo-Saxon/Celtic/Gaelic pedigree. We are the mixed salad. And it is, in a way, the perfect metaphor for my taste in design and thematic choices in quilting.

In a quilt, many diverse pieces come together to form a cohesive whole. Sometimes it's very harmonious, sometimes it's more eclectic and challenging to the common aesthetic, but in either instance, it "works." The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Or as the Borg of Star Trek say: "You will be assimilated." And somehow the parts are.

With this quilt I am swimming in my love of the grand and bodacious African prints that express themselves most consistently in my town on Sunday at and after Christian church -- A piece of "home" worn with such comfort and abandon by the women and men from Liberia, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, and Cameroon who tend to form the majority of African immigrants in these parts.

One aspect of these fabrics is bright and declarative colors. Another is the use of motif: the human silhouette in traditional dress (often in posses derivative of Ancient Egyptian art), the traditional artifacts (mainly shields, carvings, and masks), and animals commonly associated with the African continent. And the final common characteristic of the fabrics is the use of metallic, most often gold, coloring.

Some day, I'm going to write a thesis which details the ideas and choices behind each of the quilts that I have made, because none of them happened accidentally, and each embody such depth of mental process, life-experience, and ultimately self-discovery that being able to articulate it all might form some basis from which to better understand the "examined" life in general.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Here We Go Again?

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
I know Katrina was an amazing event. But it leaves me wondering if we are now subject to a post-Katrina panic, the effects of which will be with us regardless of the magnitude of future storms from now on.

I remember Camille, and certainly Andrew. And yet I don't remember oil prices jumping after their devistation. I don't remember massive government fraud or the failure of government at various levels to mobilize and address the crisis with compitence and all due haste.

I've always held progressive points of view; but this administration makes me feel nostolgic instead of hopeful....

Our Latest American Hero #30

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Army Cpl. Matthew P. Wallace, 22, of Lexington Park, Md.; assigned to the 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died July 21 in the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany, of injuries sustained July 16 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Bradley Fighting Vehicle during combat operations in Baghdad.

“St. Mary's Family Mourns Soldier”

As a boy, Matthew P. Wallace built forts - in his front yard, down the street from his home in Lexington Park, at the beach, dreaming always of becoming a soldier, his family said.

He enlisted in the Army in February 2004 and was sent to Iraq in December.

On Friday, the 22-year-old corporal died of wounds he sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Baghdad on July 16, the Defense Department announced.

His family flew to Germany to see him at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, after being notified his survival was unlikely. They found him unconscious, with bandages covering extensive burns, but told him they were proud of the man he'd become, and of his sacrifice, his mother, Mary Wallace said yesterday from the family home in the St. Mary's County town.

"Matthew chose to do what he did because he loved others more than he loved himself. It would have been much easier to do something else, but he chose not to," Mrs. Wallace said. "He loved the army, he loved what he learned and what he did, even though it was hard."

Corporal Wallace, who attended Great Mills High School and earned his General Educational Development diploma in 2001, worked for a time at a Sheetz convenience store before enlisting. He was assigned to the Army's 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

In his letters and phone calls home from Iraq, Wallace expressed hope that what he and his fellow soldiers were doing in Iraq was helping the Iraqi people, his mother said.

He also wrote of the loneliness of war, the long hours, and his fears about being accepted back home.

"He was very deep, very reflective," his mother said. "He said that he felt like an old soul and had lived a long, big life."

Corporal Wallace's father, Keith Wallace, recalled yesterday his son's growing pains at home and how they eventually bonded over music and martial arts.

"We had some terrible struggles and there were times when I feared we would never connect again," he said. "It turned out the opposite, we became closer than a father and son could become."

He also became closer to his three sisters - Jessica, 24, Abigail, 19, and Micah, 16, all of St. Mary's County - and the younger one got a set of dog tags when her older brother went to Iraq, pledging to wear them until he returned.

Think With

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Speaking of the Des Moines Arts Center, here's a piece currently on exhibit in a show titled "Iowa Artists 2006".

Hannah Campbell, 1981 ~

Art I'm Seeing #5

Originally uploaded by Randuwa.
Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) might actually be the first great African American artist. He was the first to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of Art in Philadelphia (at a time when it was not only the oldest but the most prestegious art school in America). He studied under Thomas Eakins, for one. And while eagerly claimed as an American artist, he did spend much of his life as an ex-patriot in France (as have many of our greatest artists!). Nevertheless, I fell in love with his art the first time I happened upon it.

Tanner presents ideas with such an expressive brush. To stand before one of his canvases is to stand beside him and feel his passion. And held in the cusp of this power is his use of paint to convey emotion by creating images in which light itself is the subject's subject. In my own limited art, I love the play of light upon images, no wonder Tanner was so easily able to grab my heart.

So it was Sunday past that I drove up to Baltimore to tour the Baltimore Museum of Art's exhibit: "Henry Ossawa Tanner and His Influence in America". I had no idea what to expect. And as those of you who either know me, or have read my thoughts on art, it's not my nature to be disappointed. Yet, I really did feel let down by the exhibit.

Hardly fitting two rooms, the majority of the works presented were not those of Tanner. Out of the approximately 35 images, only 6 were done by Tanner -- 1 from the BMA's holdings: a portrait (and promised donation) of the artist's father: Subject fascinating, execution so-so; 1 from a private collection (small and content significant, but stylistically a bit player); and 4 from the collection of the Des Moines, Iowa Arts Center.

Tanner is such an amazing artist. His influence is leagion. And this attempt to convey that influence....well, disappointing. NOT disappointing were the works themselves, even 6 Tanners is better than none. And now I have no reason to travel to Des Moines!