Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cinnimon Haze Videos

Way back in 1966 at Earl Warren Junior High School in Solana Beach, some friends and I started a rock band, eventually known as "Cinnimon Haze". We managed to hang together in some form or other through most of our teenage years then went our separate ways.

In 2000 we started the process of hooking up again with each other, and the next year we actually played for a couple of parties.

With help from my wife Evelyn we captured a pretty decent video of the band performing at a party October 24, 2004. Originally released only as a private DVD for band members, I've just finished uploading the separate tracks to YouTube for the whole world to enjoy. Check out the whole gig, or just a selection of favorites at my YouTube channel (http://youtube.com/user/cchapin53).

Here are some of my favorites:

Friday, May 16, 2008

Gambia Videos

I've finished uploading all my Gambia videos to YouTube.

Best way to watch them is with my Gambia playlist.

Of particular interest are the Darsalami dancing video, and The Pump (also in Darsalami).

Monday, May 12, 2008

Quotes from Woman on the Edge of Time

"But you say you respect difference."
"Different strengths we respect. Not weakness. What is the use in not actively engaging life? It passes anyhow."
p. 175

Jackrabbit speaks to Connie before leaving on military service:
"Risk, danger . . . we don't find them evil," Jackrabbit said slowly. "... I don't want to be ignorant. The creature inside a shell is a soft slug, like a worm. Who should protect me? ... Who'll stand between me and death, me and sickness, me and drowning? I must serve the talent that uses me, the energy that flows through me, but I mustn't make others serve me. Don't you see the difference?"
p. 262

Luciente speaks of her "sweet friend" Jackrabbit:
"[Jackrabbit] made me able to be . . . careless. Silly.
... Gradually I felt that loosening gave me energy. Jackrabbit was water, I could float. Jackrabbit was wine, making me tipsy and glad of the moment. We were always laughing. We never stopped flirting. [Jackrabbit] was full of grace. [Jackrabbit] made me want to know things that on my own I would never have grazed."

My personal favorite quote:
We can only know what we can truly imagine. Finally what we see comes from ourselves.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Woman on the Edge of Time

Finished reading my second Marge Piercy novel today, and wanted to jot down a few thoughts. I found Woman on the Edge of Time to be a surprising story on many levels.

It's the story of Connie Ramos, a woman who finds that she has the ability to project her mind through time to the future with the help of Luciente, a similarly gifted woman of the year 2137.

Or, it's the story of Consuela Ramos, a poor Hispanic woman who has been oppressed her entire life. By family, by men, by society, by institutional health care.

Or, it's the story of an egalitarian utopia where sexism has been eliminated along with masculine/feminine pronouns. Children are born in the laboratory so the biomechanics of reproduction are no longer a factor. Babies are shared among three male and female "mothers", but also raised by the community as a whole. Production is balanced with a view toward sustainability and all the people share the fruits of their labor. Sounds good, eh, comrade!

And in fact it is all these stories.

Initially I found the book interesting but a tough read. There was a lot of detail that struck me as rather dry, and my first reaction to the social issues was that it had a very 1970s feel (Woman on the Edge of Time was published in 1976). And the book is slow paced.

But by about halfway through I found that it felt less dry to me, and by then it no longer struck me as dated. Piercy definitely succeeds in contrasting two worlds: the institutionalized, mechanized world of over-consumption in which we lived 30 years ago, and still live today. And a utopian vision of equality and personal achievement, where woman's unique role in reproduction has been eliminated, removing the last barrier to equal participation with men.

Piercy draws her utopia with a fine point. Details include men who nurse children, as well as women. Polyamoury among both men and women. Conflict resolution, both personal and between elements of society, and even military service. It's all there.

Even more detailed is her description of life for an institutional mental patient. Painfully drab, dull, dehumanizing and lacking in freedom.

The conditions are painful and dreary, but the pace gradually accelerates throughout the second half of the book until finally I could hardly put it down.

In the end, I found Woman on the Edge of Time insightful and deeply affecting. Certainly not dated, it is perhaps even more relevant today than it was 30 years ago.

I'll give some quotes in a separate post.

Between this and the last Piercy I had enjoyed an excellent Sheri S. Tepper book -- hope to write about that one later.

Note: A much more competent review by Michelle Erica Green can be found here at Green Man Review.

Gambia Photos

The group of us who visited the Gambia have created a single Picasa account and put all our photos there. Check out: http://picasaweb.google.com/nakangadef. Most of these are at the default Picasa resolution of 1600 max pixels in any dimension.

My photos are also available in highest resolution (up to 10 megapixels) on my own Picasa account here: http://picasaweb.google.com/chapin.chip. Since there are almost 150 albums in my account, here's a table of contents for just the Gambia photos:

Besides that, I've been slowly putting up the video clips on my YouTube account here: http://youtube.com/user/cchapin53.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

He, She and It

Just finished my first Marge Piercy book. I had the pleasure of reading this while away on vacation, so there was as much time as I wanted to read at length.

Brief comments...
... I enjoyed the use of the parallel narrative, with a story set in 16th century Prague taking place at the same time as the primary, 21st century story. After a while, though, I confess that it became a little tedious, with the one story foreshadowing events in the other a little too predictably.

... The future world is well worked-out, though on relatively conventional eco-apocalyptic lines. The first chapter includes a ton of back-story, almost as if she wanted to get it out of the way in hurry, or that it started as an outline for the whole book. I think it would have been more fun to have let it be inferred and revealed slowly.

... Elements of the general milieu remind me heavily of Starhawk's Fifth Sacred Thing (another recommended by the same friend). Not just the post-apocalyptic world, but more importantly the role of the grandmotherly liberated wise woman. You also have Greenish/mystical good guys vs. the Republican/rationalist-Christian bad guys.

... In my opinion the story bogged down toward the end. Possibly this is my male bias speaking -- the narrative not only becomes much more overtly feminist toward the end, but also spends a great deal of time refining the nuances of the various relationships, then painstakingly resolving each and every one of them.

Some quotes ...
My problem is that my despair dyes everything a sullen gray. I have always viewed despair as sinful self-indulgence; perhaps I truly believe that relinquishing hope is the inevitable result of sitting still. If I do not keep moving, if I do not have projects and the heady clamor of problems to be solved, I will subside into a state of near-fatal clarity in which I will begin to doubt the value of everything I normally do. The result is a personal ice age in which I lie embedded in my own glacier that is burying the landscape I usually love but to which I am now as indifferent as the ice I have exuded. (p.158)

Information plus theology plus political bias is how we sculpt our view of reality. (p.194)

Being entertained is not the same as being happy. (p.246)