Friday, February 16, 2018

Autographs ― Dave Eggers

Dave Eggers' most recent book, The Monk of Mokha is about Mokhtar Alkhanshali, a young Yemeni American who becomes a coffee entrepreneur. Both of them were scheduled to speak at the Los Angeles central library last night.

I'm not a coffee drinker, and I'm not very interested in that book, but I went hoping to hear Eggers and get his autograph. I was only partly successful, and not the part you might expect.

Eggers got stuck in transit, and didn't arrive until after the talk! Alkhanshali spoke for nearly an hour. It was mildly interesting. Eggers arrived just in time to sign books, and most people had multiple books for him to autograph. Plus, he first talked to some of the library staff, then to the two people who had spoken briefly before Alkhanshali.

They were serving special coffee at the reception, and I hear it was very good, but there were long lines for that, and I really didn't want to have coffee late at night, so I didn't stand in line.

I'm glad I got the autograph, and I look forward to reading the book, but I still felt that most of the evening was a waste of my time.

(Index of autographs)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Scholar Stones

Impression of Shengshan 2, 2015
by Zhao Meng

I've always liked scholar's stones. Now, I've just purchased the sculpture pictured above, inspired by them. It's about ten inches from end to end. It's my biggest art purchase ever. Here's the back story.

I was looking at collections of photos of scholar's stones and related sculpture, such as this batch, and I liked one in particular:

I would have purchased a copy, but there are none. It's one of a kind, in a private collection, and not for sale. But the sculptor, Zhou Meng, has done other similar pieces. Rasti Chinese Art in Hong Kong sells his work. The piece I bought is one of the cheapest available.

I am generally pleased with my purchase, but there were several annoyances along the way. Mr. Rasti always responds to email, but, of course, there is a long delay in correspondence due to time zone differences. His prices are negotiable, but I hate haggling, and I'm not good at it, and I almost certainly overpaid. Worse, the only payment method he accepts is an international wire transfer, which is slow, expensive, and must be done in person at a bank. (He did cover the fee.) The shipment was held up at Customs for several days; no one knows why.

Finally, the work has some streaks, spots, and discolorations:

Rasti says, "The discolouration is deliberate to make the sculpture more natural. It actually gives depth to the rocks," but I prefer it clean and white (as in the photograph I based my purchase on!). Some of the marks do come off, and I am working on that.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Legalize marijuana already!

(click to enlarge)

My letter in response to Attorney General Sessions ending legal shelter for state-sanctioned marijuana was published in today's Los Angeles Times:

Bring it on. Let's force the issue.

If the feds begin wholesale arrests and imprisonment of pot dealers and users, it will only enrage everyone who supports legalization.

The cowards in Congress will either have to finally legalize marijuana or face the wrath of the voters.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Visa progress: Step 1 complete

Our visa case was approved on Dec. 14th! They do believe that we are free to marry, intend to marry, are not terrorists or criminals, have established a relationship, and have met in person. This is the first of three steps.

Probably next month, the State Department will ask Victor to apply for a visa, including a medical exam. They will conduct more background checks. That is Step 2. If all goes well, they will interview Victor in person at the U.S. consulate in Mérida. That is Step 3. After that, he should get the visa!

I knew Step 2 was for Victor to fill out the lengthy online visa application, and I assumed this week's notice would say to do so. I was prepared to go to Yucatán very soon to help him, since his answers have to be in English. But no, Step 1 was handled by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), part of the Department of Homeland Security, and Step 2 is with the State Department. So right now, USCIS is sending our case to the State Department, and we have to wait to hear from them. This could happen in a few weeks, but with the holidays upon us (and with Trump's downsizing of the State Department!), it might take longer. Sigh.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Mexico mail delay

Suspended umbrellas — an art installation in downtown Mérida

As I previously wrote, the feds wanted Victor's statement of intent to marry. He mailed that to me on October 26th, via airmail. Many years ago, mail to and from Mexico took a long time, and sometimes never arrived, but I hoped that now things were better.

No such luck. After three weeks, I still had not received his letter. So I made my shortest-ever trip to Yucatán to get Victor's signed statement.

I mailed everything back to the feds on Nov. 25th, and they acknowledged receipt on Nov. 28th. Now we wait for them to check it out and, I hope, then tell us they want Victor to fill out his online application.

Meanwhile, yesterday, Dec. 7th, I finally received Victor's airmailed letter!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

One Year Later

One year ago, I wrote about my reactions to Trump's election. One of the bullet points was "I suspect this blog may return to its title and original purpose in the years to come." Mostly, and happily, that hasn't happened.

As explained in my welcome message, the blog name is because I was upset that others were not as outraged as I was about George W. Bush.

Well, Trump hasn't managed to accomplish much politically! Certainly not as much as Dubya. There was a stolen Supreme Court seat, but the theft preceded him. There have been lots of terrible executive orders and undoing Obama-era regulations, but that's pretty typical in a party shift Presidency, and, for that very reason, can be as easily undone by the next Democratic President.

The worst and longest-lasting Trump accomplishments are his judicial appointments. As I've written before, "For me, it's the courts, stupid!" Update, one day later: In today's New York Times, I find this piece: Trump's Most Troubling Legacy? His Judges

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Faded Poster

The painting on the left is by Doug West. I think it is titled Taos. It was used in the poster for the Music from Angel Fire festival sometime in the 1980s. I bought the poster in Santa Fe back then.

The photo on the right is what my poster looks like today. It has never been in a lot of direct sunlight, but it gets some. The reds are all gone. The large words below the illustration ("Doug West" and "Angel Fire") are completely invisible now.

Autographs ― ZAP 13: Moscoso, Shelton, Spain, Williams, Wilson

The front and back covers of ZAP Comix #13
(by Victor Moscoso)

I bought ZAP Comix #13 in June 1994, probably in San Francisco, and got autographs from most of the cartoonists. I forgot all about the autographs until I was looking at the comic the other day!

On the front cover, Gilbert Shelton's autograph is in the lower left corner, vertically sideways. Robert Williams' personalized autograph is in the bottom center. (Victor Moscoso's signature (bottom right) is not an autograph; he's the cover artist and that's his pre-printed signature. He did autograph my copy on the inside. See below.)

On the inside cover, S. Clay Wilson's personalized and dated signature is across the top margin of the page.

On the first page, both Spain [Rodriguez] and Victor Moscoso signed along the right-hand margin of the page.

(Index of autographs)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Autographs ― Roz Chast

Roz Chast spoke at the Los Angeles Central Library last night as part of their Aloud series. I always enjoy her New Yorker cartoons. I sometimes post them on Facebook.

I had seen almost every cartoon she used during her talk, but she also spoke about her background and especially her life in New York.

She had some hilarious things to say about standpipes, too. That minute and a half of her talk begins about 39 minutes into her talk. Unfortunately, that link is only audio, no visuals, so here are three pages of standpipes from her Going Into Town (click to enlarge each image):

(Index of autographs)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Visa application delay (sigh)

(Follow-up to: previously...)

Two months later than I expected, the feds did finally get to my fiance visa application. But at the end of last week, I saw that I was being sent an RFE ("Request For Additional Evidence"). It arrived yesterday. They now want two additional items:

1. Although I included a statement about our intent to marry, they want a statement from Victor about that as well. I've asked Victor to do that, but it will likely take another week for his signed statement to reach me.

2. Although I included plenty of statements and photos showing that we have been physically together repeatedly, they want some sort of outside-party proof of that, like airline ticket stubs ― who keeps those?? fewer flights now even use them! ― or passport stamps. I'll send some barely legible passport stamps and United Airlines records of some of my flights. I thought for sure they would have a complete record of every time I re-entered the U.S. from Mexico! Silly me!

Apparently, an RFE will usually delay the next steps by about three weeks. I still think Victor will get here, but it may not happen this year after all. Sigh.