WHAT I’M WATCHING: ALLEGIANCE

 

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ALLEGIANCE 

Music and lyrics by Jay Kuo and a book by Marc Acito, Kuo and Lorenzo Thione

Musical Drama | TV Series (2016)

Breaking from my usual television review, today I’m writing about a Broadway musical production, filmed for movie-goers.  It’s not easy to catch this special production, so far shown only a few times around the country, but in  my opinion,  it is well worth seeking out.

Allegiance is set during the Japanese American internment of World War II, and follows the Kimura family in the years of and after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The family is forced to leave their farm in Salinas, California and are sent to the Heart Mountain internment camp in the rural plains of Wyoming. They take nothing with them except their dignity.

The show effectively puts the watcher into another time and place, one many Americans know little about. It translates not only the history of the period but the feelings of the people experiencing the terrible prejudice and fear elicited by this unprecedented action. One young man chooses to show his allegiance by joining the American army; another stands up for his right as an American citizen to retain an allegiance to his Japanese heritage. Neither is wrong in his beliefs, and Allegiance does a tremendous job of holding the balance.

The story was inspired by the personal experiences of actor George Takei, who stars in the musical. In a letter to fans, Takei writes:

Friends,

In an act of unprecedented religious discrimination, Donald Trump recently signed an Executive Order temporarily banning migrants from seven majority Muslim countries from entering the U.S. This ill-considered order went into effect without warning, leaving vulnerable travelers in limbo at our borders. But luckily, devoted lawyers, civic leaders and thousands of concerned citizens sped to the airports to help safeguard their rights.

The Trump administration claims this order protects us from “radical Islamic terrorists.” They want to “get ahead of the threat” by implementing this ban. Sadly, I have heard this argument before. When I was a little boy, my family was rounded up at gunpoint and shipped off to internment camps. Most of us were U.S. citizens, but because we happened to look like the enemy, we were held as prisoners in our own country. When we were finally released after the war, we vowed to work to never let this happen again.

It has been my life’s mission to tell this story hoping that history would never repeat itself. In November 2015, Allegiance opened on Broadway. The show was seen live by over 120,000 people. In order to make it available to audiences all over the world, that production was filmed for the big screen. I invite you to see this production in a theater near you in the US and in select cities in Canada on February 19th, 2017, known also as Remembrance Day, the 75th anniversary of the date FDR signed Executive Order 9066 setting the Internment into motion.

As a nation, we must never forget what might occur when fear and prejudice overtake our land. As always, we will save Mr. Trump a seat in any theater he chooses.

George

If this production comes to a theater near you, I encourage you to take the time to see it.

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YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN, UNLESS YOU’RE A WRITER

Reblogged from Fire Star Press blogsite

Check out my latest blog on the Fire Star Press blogsite.

Time is a strange element, the way it takes something we know so well – a favorite place, a special person – and without us even noticing, relegates them to the past. Writers plumb that past, sometimes touching on issues they didn’t know were there.

 

 

 

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ONE DAY AT A TIME – IT’S NOT JUST FOR ALCOHOLICS ANY MORE

Pink Dogwood by Liz Rogers

Pink Dogwood by Liz Rogers

“JUST FOR TODAY I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle all my problems at once.  I can do something for twelve hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime. (or 4 years)”  —Kenneth L. Holmes

I am lucky. In times of trouble, I have a 12-step program to fall back on. Before you put your fingers in your ears and start going “la la la”, just listen. I’m not going to preach about religion or discuss alcoholism. I just want to share something good I learned to help me through my life.

Of course the point of a 12-step program is that we go through all twelve steps, admitting we are only in control of ourselves and not others; finding our Higher Power, or at least admitting we, ourselves, are not God; accepting that we’ve made mistakes and resolving to do our best to rectify them; learning not to hold on to resentments; and finally realizing that helping others helps us too. All good stuff. Studying these steps changed my life significantly, and I’m better for it. I even have an attitude I never knew existed: serenity (at least part of the time.)

The program has many slogans, maybe a bit corny on first impression, but actually shorthand for far greater thoughts. Let’s look at “One day at a time.”

A lot is happening right now; some issues we can weigh in on and others are determined by people, places, and things beyond our control. We feel helpless and our minds begin to play the What If game. What if I lose my medical insurance? What if prejudice becomes commonplace? What if the media can no longer report the news? What if science is gagged? These worries lead to What if people are persecuted? What if we become another Nazi state? What if climate change is left to destroy the earth? What if this is the beginning of World War Three? And let’s not forget the possibility of alien invasion or the zombie apocalypse. Worry is an infinite void, never to be solved, never to be appeased. What can we do about all these what if possibilities?

“One day at a time” teaches us to look to what we can do today, right now, leaving both tomorrow and yesterday to fend for themselves. Living in these small increments of time, we have a greater chance to accomplish something worthwhile, because ultimately tomorrow is totally dependent on what we do – or do not do – today.

Some days we can stand with millions in protest; some days we can smile at someone on the street. Some days we can write a letter, mail it, and let it out of our hands and into the hands of someone better equipped to deal with it. Some days we can go sit with a scared shelter cat and make his life a tiny better for our presence. Some days we can donate a little money or time to a cause. Some days we can rest and be thankful. Some days we can put on our big girl panties and fight.

One day at a time – sometimes one hour at a time, one minute at a time – it’s not just for alcoholics any more.

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HOW TO PLAY WITH CATS

 

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Yes, there is a right way to play with cats. I know it’s so fun to whip that feather birdie back and forth in front of your cat, to land it on his head, to wind it around his tail, to pull it from his grasp just when he thinks he’s got the prize. And let’s not forget running kitty in circles. Fun.

But wait. Fun for whom?

For you, maybe, but for your cat, not so much. 

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Cats love and need to play, but playing with cats requires patience. A successful play partner must emulate both predator and prey. What would prey do? How would it act when cornered by a giant menace with razor claws and ripping teeth? And what would the predator do to assure the capture of that prey?

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All cats are different. One enjoys a string toy  and another prefers a body kicker. He may be a loner and only play by himself, or he may like interacting with his person. Some want their prey dragged along the ground; others want to jump for it. Find out what your cat likes; it’s all about him.

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With cats, play isn’t just for fun. Play is the way our domestic and often indoor-only cats connect with their lion ancestry. Without play, cats become frustrated, and a frustrated cat may act out in a myriad of unpleasant ways such as bullying other cats, scratching the furniture, or the dreaded inappropriate litterbox issues.

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A lot of your play time is dangling the hook, waiting in anticipation for the fish, or in this case, the cat to bite. Here are some important tips: 

Always let kitty catch his prey.

Don’t be in a hurry.

If he’s not into it, try another time. Play works best when you make a routine of it. If your cat doesn’t sleep through the night, a play session right before bed can be helpful.

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I asked some of my cat-savvy friends about their cats’ favorite toys. Here are the answers: 

Apparently, me when I’m sleeping! Ok – bug on a string is the all-time fav.

Cat nip mat, catnip pillows and……just plain old tissue paper that comes out of gift boxes. They also love brown craft paper that comes out of Amazon shipments. They jump on it, hide in it and run in circles on top of it. We think they love the noise paper makes.

Our cats love Da Bird and laser lights. Shadrach has a life-size fuzzy rat that has a catnip pouch. He carries that thing around and shakes it silly as he’s “killing” it every damn day. LOL!

When Charmin was still with us, she carried around constantly what we called her “pink baby”. It was just the plastic cord from a feather toy but you wouldn’t know it by the way she treated it. Charmin’s brother, Mr. Whipple, liked the laser light best.

Gremlin loves *hair scrunchies and knit socks or baby booties- they fly like birds when you hook them on your claws. Dusty loves those *clear plastic bands to keep the lids on bottles – he turns them into braille, crunch crunch crunch. And dragging his gold ribbon around the house, meowling plaintively. This only works when we are sleeping. Cardboard boxes. I used to crochet spiders on a string for them but those lose their fascination after a couple of years.

My ankle.

*Hair bands & Legos

Besides nip – a shiny gold ribbon about 1.5 inches wide. Small rubber balls to fetch, and a bright red flocked mousey squeaky toy, also fetchable. The mousey on a string is an overall winner.

Right now they are thrilled with a piece of Velcro they found. Also a little fuzzy thing on the end of a string. It’s just about pulled apart, so I really need to find a new one.

That’s an easy one Mollie! Any empty cardboard box will do for at least 4 hours if not 4 days.

(*watch these items – some cats eat them!)

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Keep your cat healthy and happy. Play with him at least 5 minutes every day.

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~Thank you, internet, for providing these great cat photos.~

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MY FATHER WAS AN IMMIGRANT

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My father was an immigrant. He escaped Germany and came to the United States in 1937. He didn’t talk much about his past, but he did tell about his first sighting of the Statue of Liberty. How beautiful, how great, how welcoming. 

It’s not as simple as you may think, coming to a new country, leaving everything you’ve ever known behind, possibly forever. It takes courage and determination. It is not something a person does lightly.  

My father was outgoing, kind, brave, and smart. He found a good life here, gave back to his new country, served in the US army, paid his taxes, and never did anyone harm. He taught me right from wrong, how to be kind, how to be fearless. 

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He died in 2005 and doesn’t have to see the division our country is facing now. He doesn’t have to see our lapse back into intolerance, prejudice, and hatred of strangers. He would have been appalled by swastikas on the bus or liars in the White House. He is gone but I will fight for him.

 

 

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THE MARKET: MAZATLAN

 

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Mazatlan’s central market is a hub of activity for both tourists and locals. You can buy almost anything there, from clothing to fresh juices, from candy to goat cheese to beans. The many fruits and vegetables are always at the best prices (a whole ripe papaya costs less than a dollar.) And for those with exotic tastes, there is always the fish and meat section, complete with a whole swordfish, manta ray, and a pig’s head.

 

 

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2016 PERSONAL RETROSPECTIVE

People have mixed opinions on 2016: the worst year ever; the most celebrity deaths; the weirdest election to date; the warmest worldwide temperature; etc etc etc. For me, there were a lot of positive things about 2016, a lot of important things, important to me, at least.

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Began 2016 at the beach.

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Another beach.

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Published a book.

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Tinkerbelle retired. (oh, yeah, and so did I)

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Did some book events.

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Saw a bear.

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Oregon Writers Colony Conference at the Sylvia Beach Hotel.

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Love.

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Grandson grad.

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Crater Lake and the Oregon Caves.

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Star Trek 50th Anniversary Convention, Las Vegas

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State Fair.

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Oscar.

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Published another book.

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Think I’ll stop there.

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FREE-WRITING

 

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I always write out my blogs before I post them, but TODAY IS THE EXCEPTION. I’ve tried putting the significance of today out of my mind, concentrating on my participation in the Women’s March tomorrow as a stand I can take against the unfathomable distressful fearsome events of today, but today will not vanish. I am heavy-hearted, solemn, scared. How much can one person do in the face of evil and wrongdoing?

Such a big shock to find so many fellow Americans so far from my own vision of truth. That, more than the person who today is usurping the throne of our country. I say throne because it seems that instead of a respectful presidency, this person treats his election like a kingdom-ship. His family, his cabinet, all close to him. A little coven of like-minded folk dazzled by their own wealth and power. Maybe not. I don’t know these people, only what they stand for. I’m appalled and afraid and angry.

So today. What about today? I’m already sinking into anxiety. Breath ragged and failing; throat constricted.

I hear people say:

Maybe it will be okay.

Maybe he will do good in his office of king.

Maybe he’s just what this country needs.

I can’t listen to that speak, so sure am I of my own convictions. One doesn’t come to 65 with out a little knowledge of the world. What really happened in the 60’s? What’s really happening now?

What’s really happening today?

That’s enough of a ramble. I promise my next post will be about cats. Until then, take care, be safe, and watch your butts.

 

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NEW YEARS RESOLUTION – OR NOT

 

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It’s 2017. Apparently I’m supposed to make a resolution. I’ve bypassed, denied, and ignored the invitations to start the year right or even start the year write. I’ve scrolled on down the page when I catch the word, resolution, in the text. I’ve steered my mind from  lists of pledges I know I will never keep, then feel like a failure for not keeping them. Whether it’s eat less, exercise, be more social, or any of the many other deficiencies I see in myself, it’s going to have to wing it on its own. I suppose you could say my New Year’s resolution is to make no resolutions at all.

Not to say I don’t resolve to change: I do. I know what my shortcomings are, and with the help of my Higher Power, change will come in its own sweet time. Maybe change will come today. Who knows?

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For all of you who have made resolutions for 2017, I wish you every chance to succeed. But in my personal philosophy, there is no such thing as failure. We get something out of every action we take, even if that action is choosing not to act. Eyes open, mind open, heart open, let’s head into the future with hope and determination.  Let’s not focus on what we can’t do but what we can do. Let’s do good this and every year.

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THE WONDER OF FARAWAY NIGHT

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Faraway Night sat tall on a rooftop overlooking the city. From his place, the town looked lovely, a blaze of twinkling, shining lights, but the small cat knew better. He knew the city streets were filled with strangers mired in frustration, anger, and fear. Why they buried themselves in ugliness when there was beauty right before their eyes confounded Faraway Night. 

As he peered away from the city and up into the moon-filled sky, he smelled snow on the wind.

“The snow will come,” he thought to himself. “All is as it should be.”

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