New Year, Same Nico

Happy New Years, folks!

I generally dislike New Years resolutions; they are so rarely kept. However, I try my damnedest to always embrace change and discomfort, and I’ve done better with that in recent years. These last few weeks leading up to the New Year, however, have shown me that I have not done such a fabulous job with that. I fucking failed at it. Sweet failure, in which we gain these insights.

The day my failings hit me, I was feeling pretty destroyed, but that night I went to sleep and dreamt of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. It was a great dream! He played the smallest of of venues to a spare few fans and his family members. Later in the evening he ended up behind this bar that was all neon lights and mirrors, everything else fading to black around the edges, the rest of the venue disappeared. We all sat on the bar stools as he went back and forth talking to us, playing his guitar occasionally, and then he made something for each of us. For me he rolled the most amazingly perfect joint I have ever seen, which I graciously accepted (although I do not smoke). I put it away in my bag, and when I woke up in the morning the first thing I did was look for that joint, but it was not there. I’m not sure I’ve woken up expecting a dream to manifest in real life like that since I was a kid. That morning, the biggest disappointment was not the sickening feeling that I had, once again, wasted my time on someone, but that this joint, which I had no interest in smoking, was nowhere to be found in my purse. Life is good.

What does this have to do with anything? Nothing, maybe. Except I will say that this year I set no neat little list of goals, only this general one: that I must focus more on myself and my friends; my dreams and my projects come first. Support others, always, but only the ones who have your back as well.

Till next time…keep being awesome, read books, listen to music, and eat pasta!

flying spaghetti monster

His noodly drum kit

Evening of Solidarity and Vigil for Gaza

Join fellow Santa Cruz community members in an Evening of Solidarity and Vigil for Gaza.

Activists will gather at the Clock Tower at the head of Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz. They will read off the names and ages of the children who have died in Gaza since July 8. They will lead Muslim, Jewish, Christian prayers, and poetry for all who have passed are or been injured in Israel/Palestine.

La Resistencia, by Melanie Cervantes http://www.dignidadrebelde.com/

La Resistencia, by Melanie Cervantes
http://www.dignidadrebelde.com/

 

Israel’s current assault on Gaza: Operation Protective Edge

  • An alarming death toll: Begun on July 8th as a bombing campaign, Israel has since launched a ground invasion in addition to the airstrike on Gaza. The assault has claimed the lives of over 1,300 Palestinians, the vast majority of whom were civilians, including over 250 children. 56 Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers & two Israeli civilians have also died.
  • Siege on an open-air prison: Gaza has been called an “open-air prison” because Israel controls its land, airspace, sea, access to electricity, movement of people and goods including food, water & medicine. Israel controls Gaza’s borders with the exception of the Rafah Crossing on the border with Egypt, which has been closed by the Al-Sisi military government; even medical aid has been denied. There is nowhere for people to go, evacuation is not an option.
  • U.S. Culpability In addition to the $3 billion per year in military aid, this week the US COngress is discussing Israel’s request for an additional $225 million dollars. Concerned U.S. citizens demand that the U.S. deny this request and immediately freeze all U.S. aid to Israel. They call for urgent hearings in the U.S. House and Senate regarding Israel’s violation of U.S. laws that forbid the use of U.S. supplied weapons against civilian populations. The U.S. must instead use all of it’s international influence, including sanctions, to demand that Israel to stop the bombings and ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, end the siege on Gaza, abide by international law, and end the occupation of Palestine.

Co-Sponsored by the Palestine-Israel Action Committee, Jewish Voice for Peace, and Friends of Sabeel North America. For more information contact ariel@fosna.org

 

 

Now that Fall and Winter are over…

It’s been a while since I posted, but I have been prioritizing real-life things (as opposed to things pertaining to the web-based world). As usual it’s mostly work, but I have had new and old friends around my house; bicycle rides when the weather permits; stepping out of my comfort zone and trying zumba; dramatic “familial” betrayals, that have only brought my family together; being reunited with my Gameboy Color; and good tv shows, among other things.

Without going into detail I recommend:
The IT Crowd 
Hot Pepper Gaming
The Walking Dead (Comic and Show)
Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX

Books! Books are my weakness though. I am a book-junkie and should be in a 12 step program or book rehab. Since I do not really intend to give up my habit, here are some recent recommendations:
Brothers Karamazov I got on audiobook so that I could spend office work, house cleaning, and sleepless hours “reading”. Despite the length of somewhere around 36 hours of audiobook, I have since listened to it twice. As someone less eloquent I struggle to put into words how much the characters in this book effected me.
At any rate I recommend you read it, I don’t find Dostoevsky’s novels that hard to read despite being classic literature from 1880. Also as a non-religious person, I do not find any of the religious discussions boring or offensive; at times I felt rather more drawn to some of the sincerely religious, yet moral characters of the book. I will go back and read a hard copy with lots of footnotes, because as I am learning there are so many references to Russian history and culture in Dostoevsky’s works that, as an American twenty-something in 2014, I miss out on a lot of the finer points. I am currently reading Crime and Punishment and much enjoying the footnotes.

I have also read Nalo Hopkinson‘s latest book The New Moon’s Arms. For those who don’t know of Hopkinson, she is a Canadian-Caribbean author who has added a lot to an Afro-Caribbean imagining of Sci-fi and Fantasy, which tend to be genres that are generally very white, male dominated (especially, and sadly, so for sci-fi). This book was in the general here-and-now-real-world, but takes place on a fictional island and involves the fantastic or spiritual. Of the books of hers that I have read so far it is not my top favorite, that would be Midnight Robber. That said, all of Hopkinson’s books are the kind that I have problems setting down in order to tend to the humdrum, unavoidable tasks in life such as feeding oneself.

The last book I will mention is Matlida which I have been reading to my son Pika. I am a lover of well written children’s books and have been known to read them just for my own pleasure. Roald Dahl is a truly wicked and brilliant author, and surely appeals to most adults; it is always a fabulous thing when you can find a book that will captivate not only the child you are reading to, but yourself as well. Matilda is a child of half-wit, lazy parents but is herself sensitive and brilliant, with a great love for reading. In dealing with her parents and the Headmistress at school she discovers she has powers other than her exceptional intelligence.
There is, as most know, a film version of this book, but what the movie lacks is Dahl’s knack for accurate (and often scathing) descriptions of the personalities and flaws of his characters, and people in general. For instance, in the very first chapter he describes a first kind of parent, which he calls the doting parent, and how that kind of parent will think their child brilliant although that child is often lacking intelligence or personality. He imagines what he, as a teacher, would write in end-of-term reviews for these children: “‘Fiona has the same glacial beauty as an iceberg, but unlike the iceberg she has absolutely nothing below the surface.'” or, “‘The periodical cicada spends six years as a grub underground, and no more than six days as a free creature of sunlight and air. Your son Wilfred has spent six years as a grub in this school and we are still waiting for him to emerge from his chrysalis.'”
Among Dahl’s other books I would recommend The Twits, George’s Marvelous Medicine, The Witches, Revolting Rhymes, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and The BFG (those are my favorites at any rate!)

 

Bad Dreams — Fund this Graphic Novel!

Working as a barista at one of the busiest coffee shops in a string of small mountain towns I meet quiet a few interesting folks. Today I am not talking about the interesting (read crazy) folks who often sunbaths with windex or talk to themselves on The Redwood Deck. No, rather I am posting about one of the way rad lover of bagels, who also happens to be a way rad artist.

Gary Winnick is a long time customer who is currently trying to get his graphic novel Bad Dreams in print. The reason I am posting about his graphic novel is because it is currently only available as digital download. I have no review of Bad Dreams because I loathe the idea of reading comics on a computer screen, and I have antiquated technology. So I am asking you to fund Bad Dreams not only to support a local artist, but also so that folks like me will have access to this comic series. It’s a beautiful thing these days that we can fund these kinds of projects allowing artists to retain full control over their work. So let’s get this funded!

Fund this novel on Kickstarter, get cool swag:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/badreams/bad-dreams-volume-1

Like Bad Dreams on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/Baddreamsnovel

Survived the summer.

Part One of this summer was great.
Part Two was sad and lonely.
The end.

The highpoint was Pika and I visiting Daniel in Yellowstone

But now it’s fall, and fabulous, like fall, also starts with an “F’. Correlation does not imply causation, I know. 
I am on my bicycle more, just got a new light from Light & Motion so that I can ride in those early morning fall hours to open the coffee shop. Tonight I’ll be testing it out on a night ride. Training to do a very small overnight ride to the Pigeon Point Hostel sometime in the near future (longer trips after that when money allows).
Films that I have watched are going to have to catch up big time in another post.
Books however were the main thing this summer. I read Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead, and John Dies at the End. I am currently working on Blasphemy and There are Spiders in the Book (and Xenocide when I get a copy). I recommend the Ender series to pretty much everyone. John Dies at the End and the sequel are only going to be for those who don’t mind really immature “male” humor. It’s so funny though, and did you watch the film???! 
As to Blasphemy, I love Sherman Alexie and need an entire post just for his films. I saw him with my friends at Santa Cruz Bookshop at the end of September. He is that amazing kind of individual who can make you laugh just about as hard as he can make you cry. 

NPR is over.

Did you hear? NPR is OVER!

No, really….all joking aside, this is the end point for me: Kick the Can: Soda Machines Beg For Experimentation

NPR knows what’s going on. In plugging Sodastream they support Apartheid.

Where to get news? I’m going to put my own plug in  for Democracy Now, Colorlines, and Electronic Intifada. Those are news sources that I trust. Whether you support Palestine or Israel, neither or both, you too might be done with NPR. Get your news elsewhere.

What do you listen to/read?