Monday, March 31, 2008

207. Jake redux.

Yeah--Jake was great!

Who is that cute girl interviewed at the end? Oh, yeah. My daughter.

(Thanks, Angelo.)

EDIT: And now for some photos from the Saipan Tribune, photographed by Jacquelyn Hernandez. (with the same familiar face pushing into the picture with Jake).

Friday, March 28, 2008

206. Coming Attractions

Saturday morning: middle school mock trial competition. Not everyone's cup of tea, but middle school students might enjoy watching. This is less intimidating than high school mock trial.

Saturday, 10 AM to 5 PM--Let Freedom Sing: a festival at the Multipurpose Center, with musical entertainment (inside, onstage), cultural demonstrations (in outside booths), and of course food (from outside booths).

Sunday, 10 AM to 5 PM-Let Freedom Sing: more of the above.

205. Oh pitiful pictures.

I loved the concert by Jake Shimabukuro last night. He's not only extremely talented, he's genuinely nice. What a pleasant experience. Great music, tropical breezes in the outdoor arena, and funds raised for Beautify CNMI.

Love the Pew Charitable Trust banner!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

204. Where do you get Your books?

I know people who read copiously and rely on the public library. I know people who read all of the time and never set foot in the library. Some people buy on-island at Bestsellers. Others are avid on-line shoppers. Even those purchasing on-line frequent different sites-Amazon, B&N, Powell's, etc.

The recent news in the book world is that Borders may be shutting down (or being bought out by Barnes and Noble). Literary Agent Kristin Nelson does a good job analyzing the effect on small presses and authors here.

There's been a growing concern that books on paper are on their way out as technology changes. The decline in independent bookstores and now, possibly, a popular chain of bookstores seems to lend credence to this fear. Vanity presses and other self-publishing ventures, though, seem to be doing well at getting customers (people who want to publish), but of course less well at sales (people who read).

Change is constant. But I would miss Borders ( a place where I shop a lot on my infrequent trips stateside).

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

203. Free Rice

Test your vocabulary acumen and donate rice to the hungry.

But watch out--this game is addictive. (I played quickly-got to 500 grains of rice, and then quit cold turkey. Otherwise, I might stay all day!)

I think English teachers everywhere could use this and have their students learning, having fun, and doing good!

202. Whom do you trust?

Governor Benigno R. Fitial and Lt. Governor Timothy Villagomez have announced their intention to seek another term in office.

Their last election's slogan was "BETTER TIMES." Any one who's been living in the CNMI can attest to the failure of that promise. Personally, I'm not sure I can take much more "better times."

On the other hand, the Pew Charitable Trust has a great benefit to offer the CNMI, with a marine sanctuary protecting the waters-i.e. the Marianas Trench-- around three of our northern islands (Maug, Asuncion and Uracas). I've seen programs on PBS sponsored by the Pew Trust. Their web-site shows them to be a well-established and beneficial organization. Their work is designed to help the environment, including all people within it.

How could we get so lucky?

I mean, this is working in Hawaii, at the world's (now second) largest marine conservation habitat in the world. In Hawaii, they navigated sticky issues like commerical fishing, with a phase out over time as a concession to fishing interests, an exception for traditional subsistence Hawaiian fishing in recognition of the culture, and an exception for scientific research fish collection. They even got President George W. Bush's full support.

So we could have this happen here! Save our environment. Create a larger scientific community with money and research coming in. Protect our indigenous rights. All funded by the Pew Trust!

Aahh, BUT--- how could we have an Administration foolish enough to turn down this opportunity? What could explain the recent failure of our Administration to even meet with the people from the Pew Trust to hear their proposal? Because this is what's happening now.

Perhaps because the Pew Charitable Trust is an honorable organization? Offering no opportunity for kickbacks? no personal benefits? Am I too cynical? Are there real reasons to completely ignore this type of suggestion?

You can follow the unfolding story at Angelo's blog. The comments at Lil Hammerhead's show some nasty opposition to the proposal, but I'm still waiting for rational, logical dialogue on the merits of the proposal. I'd like to hear about research about current use and objectives/goals for fish conservation from WESPAC. What would the true impact be? As Cinta says here, give Pew a chance. [Her rational approach raises my hope.]

Whatever the relative merits of the proposal, at least we should honestly investigate and discuss it. The President of the U.S. spent more than an hour of his time watching a video and learning about the Hawaiian marine sanctuary project. Is our Governor busier than the President of the U.S.? Are we in the CNMI less deserving of this type of investment so that we must run away from it? Or do we, too, honor our islands, our waters, our people and culture, and welcome others who will help us on such a course?

For me, it's all about real "better times."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

201. Palm Sunday

I love Palm Sunday in Saipan. People gather on the steps of the church to have their palms blessed, and then join an informal procession into the church, with the palm branches waving gaily. Some of the palms are plain, fluttering as if they were still attached to the trees they came from.

Some are woven into intricate patterns and designs, like birds or flowers.

Some are looped into heart-shapes or folded into lightning-rod zig-zags.

The ritual helps me envision a man's ride on a donkey through dusty lanes to the cheers of a faithful crowd.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

200. Jake!

Gotta love this poster!
(Thanks, Angelo.)

But in all the excitement about this up-coming concert, don't forget to catch the PLAY BUFFET. Last performances are today and Friday March 13 and 14, at AMP. Just $5.

And now, for a taste of Jake's music (a la Japan tour).

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


The Office of Letters and Light has announced a change in the Script Frenzy event. They've changed the date from the month of June to APRIL!

That's less than 3 weeks away!

So if you're interested in writing that stage or movie script, a manga novel or cartoon, or even a radio script, now is the time to sign up and gear up. Great advice over at Script Frenzy .

I'm not sure if I can do this in April. I did join last June (I was on vacation.) and it was a lot of fun. Writing a script is difficult, though. Seemed much harder than novel writing!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

198. Winners and more winners!

Today was an insane day in the world of student competitions. Regional competitions for Math Court, PGFC, and Thespians! The finals of Mock Trial!

There were students, parents, teachers and coaches actively about in Susupe--especially at the events at Guma Hustitia and MHS.

Congrats to Mount Carmel students who won the Mock Trial competition. Each year the competition steps up another notch. MBA continues to set the bar high and turn in stellar performances. This year, though, the students from MCS consistently advocated and acted through the entire grueling competition, and won the votes of the judges. [Pictures from the final competition--not great, but what I have.]

Great job to all, including the coordinators, coaches, competitors, judges, jurors, and the unsung heroes who simply did small but necessary jobs.

And thanks to Hal Easton and all the teachers and judges who made the Math Court, PGFC, and Thespians competitions happen. The competitions provide an important showcase of talent among our students.


Thursday, March 6, 2008

197. Something in the Air

I've been writing lately about how disturbing I find letters and interviews printed in our local newspapers with unfounded accusations and barely-disguised untruths stated in them. Obviously, there's something in the air. Or perhaps the art of lying is contagious.

In the publishing/book world, there's a James Frey redux. Only this time it's Margaret B. Jones, a/k/a Peggy Seltzer. Another memoir that received positive reivews is fiction.

There are some differences. One is that the lie was promptly exposed by the author's sister after publication of the book and the news publicity it engendered. So Oprah isn't embarrassed this time.

The publisher has also changed its response --recalling all copies of the book and cancelling Ms. Seltzer's book tour. No chance for extra sales of copies after the scandal, as happened with James' Frey's book A Million Little Pieces.

There's an interesting discussion at Galley Cat about why this problem continues to resurface. While you can vote in a small poll, there's no option that includes "people like to lie; it makes them feel important." Meanwhile, Media Bistro is selling a video lesson on fact-checking.

And if you get tired of the fact-checking problem, you can always read about plagiarism, and its latest incarnation at the NYT, here at SLATE .

196. A Taste for Theatre

I saw the show--Play Buffet-- Friday night. It was well-attended, although not sold out. Fun. As Sylvia said--"another hit." In my opinion, well worth seeing, especially at just $5, but not quite as good as last year's In Transit. That was an A+. This one is just a fun experience. Don't miss it!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

195. On Professionalism

I recently wrote a blog post over at DAY IN COURT. I've been feeling the burn of sublimated anger at many of the letters to editors in our local newspapers lately. Accusations tossed about based on prejudice and personal bias, opinions designed to push racial and ethnic tensions higher, and advice that glosses over one's own counter-actions all have me wanting to caution readers --don't believe everything you read in the newspapers. Consider the source. Ask where's the verification.

I made a quiet reference to professionalism, and noted how it adds credibility and clarity. Without it, you have a lot of haze, and perhaps just smoke and mirrors.

And then I came across this guest lecture by the noted scriptwriter John August. It encouraged the Trinity students (and now offers the message to everyone who reads it) to be professional, not amateur, to be "aspiring," not irresponsible, writers.

It's amusing and insightful, and also filled with motherly advice. As I've said to my own daughter each time she writes another school composition, essay, short story, "Do your best, hon. Always do your best." Only now I can quote someone else, someone with more cachet, someone worth heeding.

So we can both be better writers--truly professional.

Monday, March 3, 2008

194. Feeling the Beat.

"It is a matter not of traveling from one place to another, but of uncovering
the destination inside the point of departure." Steve Reich.

THE REST IS NOISE, LISTENING TO THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, by Alex Ross (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007) is a history of twentieth century "classical" music. And it rocks with the beat of a chaotic century. Dense with biography and cultural context, it leafs through the pages of time with a close look that is light and clear.

From Strauss and Mahler, who open the century, to Reich and Adams who close it, the sounds of street and country, oppression and rebellion move together and separately (tonally and atonally?) in a hypnotic dance. Alex Ross is brilliant, not just in explaining a complex subject, but in evoking the very essence of music with his language.

This is a great read. It has history, biography, music, culture, and clash in it.

Although there is a clear narrative element, THE REST IS NOISE, achieves something much larger, more panoramic than a trip through the decades from start to finish. Brian Eno's words on minimalism could apply equally to Alex Ross' history of music: "a drift away from narrative and towards landscape, from performed event to sonic space."

Curiously enough, the writer in me wants to rush out, and --not listen to all of the music described elegantly, not purchase the suggested listening recordings, but rather-- find and re-read Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus. And then I want to listen to the sounds of the 20th century!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

193. Story within a Story

I recently wrote my monthly book review column, and included some blather about literary devices. One of the literary devices I wrote about was the "story within a story," which I loved in THE YEAR OF THE RAT.

Since writing that book review, though, I've been encountering this device everywhere. And I mean everywhere. The most recent was in the DVD of BIG FISH, which I wanted to watch because the screenplay is by John August, and I've been studying his blog for help.

Stop, please. No more stories within stories for at least a week, please! Please? Help.