Giving Thanks

Montara, CA
February 2007

The path ahead is uncertain and unstable,
but I continue.

The situation I desire is improbable,
but I wait for it.

Through everything, only one person is there
to pick up the pieces when I fail.

I don't always agree with you.
And no one else can piss me off like you,
but you've always been there when I needed you.

Thanks, dad.

p.s.:  I will deny this tomorrow.


Fiction as Reality

«L'espace m'a happé dans ses contours sans fin.»
"Space has caught me in its endless contours."

- Mabrouck Rachedi -
Photo:  Ryder Park, San Mateo, California, October 2009

I have been re-reading "A Writer's Reality," Mario Vargas Llosa's autobiography, mainly an essay on his thought processes during the writing of his novels.  Llosa speaks of two types of fiction, ideological fiction, an inverse to objective reality, and literary fiction, the product of the writer.  As I ponder the former, I think that perhaps fiction and reality can be the same, changeable depending upon perspective.

correction:  objective reality and ideological fiction are not so much inverses as they are points of comparison.  Ideological fiction is what one perceives as seen through one's own ideologies.

In some cases, fact and fiction seem pretty clear.  Llosa marvels at how intellectuals (he limits his scope to those in Latin America) have contributed to  intolerance as he describes the civil war of Canudos, where soldiers of the newly formed republic of Brasíl, achieved through a joint effort by the military and intellectuals, crushed a rebellion in Canudos, a village in a remote area of Bahía.  The republic leaders assumed that exiled monarchists had conspired with the English to create the rebellion.  So strong was this belief that reporter Euclides da Cunha confirmed this belief from the front lines. Da Cunha truly believed that he saw blonde haired English officers among the rebels.

After every rebel had been slaughtered and every building in Canudos razed by the Brazilian army, it was discovered that, in fact, the rebels were entirely made up of a rag-tag band of illiterate peasants, stirred up into a frenzy by fanatical catholic priests to drive out those foreign invaders who must have come from the Devil himself.  The priests were anti-republic, but the peasants themselves had no knowledge of it.   Both sides had allowed their beliefs to filter what they saw.  So the members of the republic saw a conspiracy cooked up by the English and the old regime, and the peasants saw evil.  Da Cunha's book, "Os Sertões", is a "personal and national self-criticism" of this event.

I-beam, San Mateo, California, October 2009

But most situations are not so cut and dry, and the lines between fiction and reality are often blurry.  Proponents of different socio-economic systems claim their own system is the ideal and that others are flawed and/or evil.  They are all correct ... and they are all wrong.  All systems have strengths and weaknesses and the right fit for one group of people may not be the best for another.  Two fighting people each believe the other is the instigator.  Again, the way in which events unfolded can make both correct.  There seems no clear distinction between an idealized fiction and the truth with situations such as these, because either argument could be valid.

How do you feel?  Is the difference between fantasy and reality black and white, or are there shades of grey?


Spare a Penny for the Guy?

Guy waits for the inevitable.

I read an article yesterday mentioning that Guy Fawkes celebrations in Britain are down, mainly due to a shift in focus to Halloween...


I felt for the Gunpowder Plot conspirator, whose life ended with several days of torture, hanging, and being cut up into pieces. Or at least for the 400+ year old tradition (longer if you consider the practice is based on even older autumn bonfire traditions) of burning his effigy and setting off fireworks every 5th of November. So when I woke up today, I decided to keep the tradition alive here in California, where it actually isn't a tradition!

Alas, there are ordinances in my city against open fires and fireworks, so Guy would burn in my fireplace. I raided my woodpile and grabbed dead leaves from my neighbor's dracaena to bind twig arms and legs onto a log body. I stuck a printed picture of Guy's face onto the body, which I doused in charcoal lighting fluid for good measure.  The result (above) looks more like the Burning Man than any effigy of Guy Fawkes I've seen, but my building skills have never been good and I had work to do, so that was as good as it would get. A bit embarrassed at my handiwork, Guy went straight into the fireplace, rather than being paraded down the street.
This Guy's on Fire!

Later in the evening, I set a match to the kindling underneath, and WHOOSH, the whole pile burst into flames and shot up Guy's body, as the lighter fluid in it combusted!  I grabbed my camera and tried to snap a photo while he still had a face, but it was too late.  His face was vaporized, his body completely engulfed (right).

Who knew the lighter fluid would catch so quickly? It's been sitting in my yard for years, is missing its stopper, and has been rained on.

This burning of the Guy is in honor of Lobo, who is English, but never partook in these juvenile pursuits when he was a pup.


Halloween 2009

Back in the day, children dressed up in costumes and knocked on doors begging for candy.  Now what do they do?  Two years in a row, not a single trick or treater!  I had no definite plans myself, so no costume, but I went to a rent party for my housemate's friend, who was evicted recently.

Banjo player.  An accordion player also played on this stage.

 I can't remember the name of this band, but I like them 
because the drummer reminds me of a good friend.
My friend has no tramp stamps and is a better drummer, though.

Projection screen, people, 
and the Extra Action Band

The candy lady takes a break.