Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A rant to the guy in the white house around the corner

Yeah, you! With your lawn putting-green perfect in the dead of what should be winter, I'm talking to you!

The water sheets across your sidewalk like you're lobbying for a luxury car commercial, and rolls into the gutter, quite literally re-forming the American River down the street, wasted into the drain.

There's a drought on, guy! Or girl! Obstinacy knows know gender.

If you think I'm talking to you, it's you. If you know who I'm talking about, tell him/her!

To you this may be the last day of 2013 (well, to me too). With its dry passage, though, marks the driest year in California's recorded history. That's saying something. For all of the state's bombastic beginnings, so many things were lost — fortunates, lives, reputations, virginity — but records … records, my friend, were kept.

We're out of water. Ain't any more coming, as far as we can foretell, anyway.

The latest aerial shot shows one more sheet of Bounty®™ would sop up what's left behind Folsom Dam.

Do not — do not! — wash down your driveway with the house, guy/girl around the corner. Learn basic broom skills. Do not wash your car! Let it go awhile.

I beg you.

In fact, this calls for extreme measures from 1976-77, the last severe drought, when we all lived by by the motto: "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down."


It just struck me: Jerry Brown was governor then too! He's waiting to declare this drought official, but I don't know why. The second coming of Linda Ronstadt, maybe.

Water districts aren't waiting. Folsom water users must cut back 20 percent, which doesn't seem enough. We're in serious parch. The whole state must reacquaint itself with the fact we're a Mediterranean climate.

Here's news: The geologic record indicates that across the last two millennia California has endured droughts of between 50 and 80 years. And Jerry Brown was governor then too.

Many central and southern California communities forbid new housing developments from planting lawns, encouraging native plants and xeriscaping instead. Time for it to go viral.

We are not Oregon or Washington, for good or ill.

What's worse, this drought is harshing my swimming mellow.

After days of this arrow pierced through my temples (no physician's assistant is gonna tell me it's probably just flu), I shambled down to Lake Natoma, my old haunt, to see swim friends Doug and David have fun in my absence, slicing through the cold dark water. And plenty of it: The water was at its usual level.

Come tomorrow, though, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is set to reduce what little it's letting out of Folsom Lake, which flows immediately into our lovely little Lake Natoma. I'm anxious for the result. Or lack.

Help out an old, slow swimmer. Check your sprinkler system (you look like you've got a lawn guy: Have him do it) and cut back to once a week. You're watering every day: Why? Maybe you're more oblivious than obstinate, and you don't get up early enough to see your shiny sidewalk. Wake up!

Maybe some good will come of this, like statewide xeriscaping. After the double whammy of drought and Proposition 13 in 1976-77, Californians drained their swimming pools and skateboarding took rise, never to fade again.

Just don't tell me what a nice sunny day it is.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Back to the drawing board

t appears my modest proposal to skip Christmas every other year — you know, give us all a chance to miss it — has failed.

I blame too few hours and too scarce resources.

Lessons learned: Work smarter, not harder, and start earlier.

Maybe next year.

Meanwhile, Merry Christmas, if you must.

Feeling momentarily magnanimous, I might even spare you a Thursday post.

Really, it's the least I can do.

P.S. You know what merchants should do? Merchants should rewrite the lyrics of cherished Christmas carols, replacing barely effable concepts of grace and hope with cordless drills and fleece hoodies and the incomparable joy of buying things … then saturate the airwaves with the result. That would be a novel and welcome marketing approach.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Auld lang syne

Some Christmas cards I created this year for clients:

Which remind me:

One of the few Christmas traditions it surprises me to keep is singing carols at a nearby hospital with Boy Scout Troop 328, the Troop our son and I belonged to (it retains me its rolls as Token Strange Guy from the Past).

Monday marked the 14th Christmas the Troop has serenaded patients (and probably making some sicker). Maybe the 15th. I've lost track.

When a new adult Scout leader with the Troop, someone I'd never met, asked me when our son earned his Eagle award, I suddenly realized it was (gasp!) eight long years go. So now I've been caroling with the Troop longer than when our son was in it and I was active as an adult leader.

Strange Old Guy from the Past. Who shows up for Eagle courts of honor and caroling, frightening the young Scouts with his weird sideburns. That's me.

The Troop is kind and invites me to sing along. They say it's because I'm the only one who can sing, but I know it's just their excuse.

Each year I recognize fewer and fewer Scouts. This year only one Scout knew me by name, and I by his, a Scout I've known all these years because his older brother moved up through the Troop and this year earned his Eagle. Now little brother is one of the Troop's senior Scouts.

Two dozen Santa-hatted, fully-uniformed (mostly) Scouts showed, along with parents, making a throng of about 40 roaming up and down the hospital's floors, led by the hospital public relations person. We're breaking in our second hospital flack, whose extra-hours duty right before Christmas is to put up with us. But we know the drill: Walk single file down the hallways, line up on both sides of the hall when we stop to sing, don't look into patients' rooms, only speak when a patient acknowledges you, etc.

As a Scoutmaster I used to know all the Scouts, used to know which Scouts liked to kid and be kidded, and which just wanted to say hello and stay quiet otherwise. I knew which ones needed reminding to act appropriately and which ones could influence appropriate behavior for others. I knew each Scout's interests and sports and ambitions, or their lack, and I could talk with them about their lives.

They had given me false hope I could be a teacher.

Now they're strangers. They're the same kids, it's easy to see. Some are wiry and full of energy, others are quiet and unsure. Older Scouts celebrate their bonds of going to the same high school or their long tenure in the Troop, and form cliques. Some younger Scouts, for whom no amount of activity will settle them or reminding will quite shush them, form their own cliques. Some are experimenting in social behavior, the Troop their laboratory.

Same kids, just different.

Descending a stairwell on our caroling journey Monday, a Scout accidentally stepped on the heel of my shoe.

"Sorry," he said. I turned around with a smile and said, "Yeah, I'll bet." By the passing storm on the Scout's face, I could tell he didn't know whether the Token Strange Guy was joking or denigrating.

Tempus fugit.

Through hard work, demographic shifts and good fortune, Troop 328 is large again, with at least three Patrols. I'm jealous of the new patches, one for the Notorious 9 who came into the Troop together, another for the Raptors.

Their new Scoutmaster, whose curlicue mustache makes nonsense of my measly bristles, says he's thankful for all the Scouts and parent help. He hardly says a word to the Scouts, but he doesn't have to. The Senior Patrol Leader, the Scout the Troop has elected to lead them, really does lead them, making sure they follow the hospital guidelines.

The Troop carries on the tradition of singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," as we move from Point A to B. For some reason this year the flack diverted us from the pediatric wing, where the Scouts tend to put extra energy into "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer," with louder "like a lightbulbs" and "like Columbuses," and "Frosty the Snowman." In fact, we never sang "Frosty" Monday.

The Scoutmaster is continuing to develop the Troop into one truly run by boys, as it should be. It's a never-ending process, more difficult than you might think, what with us parents wanting their children never to fail. But the Scoutmaster is serving as a presence, a go-to guy if the Senior Patrol Leader needs him this evening. The Senior Patrol Leader doesn't.

A young man, hearing us sing down the hall, requested that we sing to a specific patient, a parent or grandparent maybe. Almost all of us stuffed the room to overflowing one room and sang, a few of us left standing in the hallway.

We said our "Merry Chistmases" and goodbyes after, and I left Scouts to their post-sing tradition of scarfing sugar cookies and cocoa. The Scoutmaster kindly invited me back, for this or anything else in the Troop.

Good people came after me, I can see, much better equipped to develop leadership and self-government among the Scouts. The best thing I can do for the Troop is be Token Strange Guy, showing up now and then from the Past.

*Yes, I capitalize Troop and Scout and Patrol, and I know it's irksome. The habit latched onto me when I was corresponding to the Troop as Scoutmaster, mostly as a way of honoring the importance in which I held Scouting (see, there I go again). Sorry. Get used to it.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

One Tin Soldier*

Lost on the list of celebrity deaths the last few days is Tom Laughlin, who could have put my hometown on the map.

But didn't.

Quick sketch of The Master Gunfighter Scene That Would Never End.
I was startled to see Laughlin was 82 when he died. Peter O'Toole passed away at 81, but we watched him grow old, leveraging his age and reputation in roles perfect for him.

Laughlin disappeared from my view over the decades, so he'll always be the young man, gliding like a boxer, dressed like a charro in a giant black sombrero and matching embroidered and spangled coat, who gave me his autograph, a smile and a few kind encouraging words one day in 1975.

"See my Billy Jack movies?" he might have asked.

"No," I probably said.

"That's all right. Come see this one," he might have replied. Or something like that.

Laughlin was famous at the time as Billy Jack, a vigilante character he created and spun into four movies that built a cult following. He was Chuck Norris before Chuck Norris was God, a proto-Rambo. Billy Jack was an outsider, a Vietnam veteran, expert in the martial arts, half white, half Navajo, ostracized, pilloried, shamed. You could only push him so far before he wiped the floor clean with the bad guys, busting them up with a flying kick to their lumpy bad-guy jaws.

Billy Jack preached peace by beating the hell out of people. Or so I gather. My parents wouldn't let me see the movies. I could listen to the hit song, though, the anti-war hit "One Tin Soldier," from one of the movies.

Laughlin parleyed his success as Billy Jack to write and produce The Master Gunfighter. A major motion picture, being shot right here in Lompoc! That's how I remember the hype, and we all bought it because my whole family went down to Mission La Purísima to see the filming. We might even have walked the three miles, enjoying the benefit of living just across the chaparral bluff above the mission.

The whole town seemed to be there. The half who weren't hired as extras stood behind rope barriers to watch them.

Two keen memories remain:
  • For the first time, that old mission came to life. We walked there a lot, and it's a fun hike to a rare place, but the mission was just a bunch of old buildings to me as a little kid. Some of the rooms of the mission were fitted out with the tools of the mission trade — a loom, a leather tanning shop, a tallow works, the soldiers' quarters — but they were caged off, the captive tools just sitting there in the semi-darkness, dusty, unused, dead, smelling of bad breath.

    This movie restarted the mission's heart. Dozens of people stood in costumes like statues until a distant voice from a megaphone shouted, "Rolling … and action!" and the people began hoeing and tending the vast gardens, and washing clothes at the round stone pool that served as the lavandería, and carrying hay in carts to the corralled cows, and marching around and walking and talking. Suddenly I could see the mission's mission, merciless though it may have been.

    I'm not sure whether the mission was playing itself in this movie. It has portrayed other places, mostly ranches, such as in the movie Seabiscuit and a made-for-TV movie called Dazzle, in which viewers were supposed to believe Cliff Robertson's mission-style ranch was an actual mission, the building running some 150 yards long.

    As a state park, Mission La Purísima is perfect for filming, pristine, far from the main road and telephone lines and clutter — unlike working churches such as missions Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, still the center of the towns built around them.

    Earthquakes destroyed the first Mission La Purísima and the mission fathers moved it four miles to where it is now. Another earthquake leveled that, and the mission moldered. What visitors see now has been rebuilt by the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration during the Depression, so it's mostly 20th Century re-bar and concrete on an 18th Century foundation.

    It looks freshly built, and its state and volunteer caretakers take good care and apply new paint. About 15 years ago the west end of the long complex was painted pink (ok, salmon). I'm not sure why; maybe historians found some new information and applied it, in the same way paleontologists play with new colors for how Stegosaurus might have looked (this time, all the colors of the rainbow!)

    When The Master Gunfighter was shot, the same walls were cream white like the rest of the mission, with a band of dark red along the ground.
  • Making movies is boring.

    We hung around all day to see only two scenes shot. After the scene in which the mission had come to life, the extras were sent home, the cameras and lights and cranes and dollies and miscellany were torn down and hauled 100 yards to the west end of the mission, rebuilt and repositioned. Two hours later, the filmmakers shot what seemed like a simple scene in which a rider was to gallop up to his superiors, sitting horseback, to warn them a bad guy approached.

    Gallop up, say one line, ride off. That's it.

    The scene needed at least three-dozen takes. The rider got tangled in bushes, or his horse overshot the mark, or undershot it, or refused to run at all. Or the rider fell out of his saddle. Or the rider flubbed his line, or completely forgot it, or ran out of breath, or the lighting wasn't right, or a donkey brayed, or a cloud passed over the sun. Over and over again the scene played out, funnier and funnier each time. I'd seen it so many times, you think I'd be able to recite it now.
I can't say The Master Gunfighter was the worst movie made, because I never saw it. It had the misfortune to be born before direct-to-DVD could have salvaged some production costs.

I heard it wasn't good. Film critic Roger Ebert wrote, "I don't think there's any way an intelligent moviegoer could sit through this mess and accurately describe the plot afterward."

I gather it was a mishmash of spaghetti western, samurai revenge and even some true California history, about the brutal subjugation of Chumash Indians by the mission fathers. And some samurai sword- and gunplay, probably.

Well, it was a good try, I guess. I will remember Tom Laughlin as a movie star who seemed to really like the people who watched his movies — and people who had never seen them. Typical for my Lompoc, though, to receive something with so much promise and have it fall short. Yeah, I'm hard on my hometown.

Rest in peace, Billy Jack.

* Watch Tom Laughlin in action!

P.S. Now that I look at the movie poster, I think: Nice typography. Also, I might have gotten an autograph from co-star Ron O'Neal of Superfly fame. If I told him I'd never heard of him, he hid his disappointment. He's an actor, after all. As an old guy, I mis-read the credits: You'd think I would have remembered that Ryan O'Neal was in The Master Gunfighter.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Having a fit

Detail for the right side of the illustration
Among moments I cherish most as an illustrator is permission from a client to experiment.

Here is a project for a publication celebrating the future of electrical use in the western United States.

It focuses on more renewable, efficient production and the ever smarter technology that enables consumers the individual control to buy and use electrical power.

The illustration runs along the bottom of a two-page spread to allow for text above (which is why the rays and shapes along the top bleed and fade), so long and narrow that it doesn't fit big enough to see well in this blog format:
See what I mean? So I chopped into neat pieces to show the details:
The center cut of the illustration. Layers of overlapping colors and repeated ghosting shapes suggest control and interaction.
That's the story I'm sticking with, anyway.
I created a cross-section of the west, from sea to shining eroded butte, coloring the landscape with the rays of power and electricity, suggesting objects by their absence, paring tangibles to their basic shapes.
Left detail of the illustration, complete with a car and charging station that could only have come out of Popular Mechanics c. 1947

I meant the work to be a sunny paean to mid-century wishful futuristic illustrations.

Here are some of the early sketches:

Like all good projects, it ended too quickly.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

However measured

Once long ago, home from an ordinary shopping trip to the BX* to get ordinary socks and People™® Magazine and fabric softener, my mom gave me this.

Extraordinary. And still mysterious.

The plaque carries one of Henry David Thoreau's best-known quotes, from the conclusion of Walden. Here it is, in case the decorative font is hard to read:
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.
I have no idea where in that store she'd have found this plaque — a nook no teenager could have fathomed, because if we were there at all it was to kill time on a forced shopping trip thumbing through the meager record section or pining for the high-end turntable/cassette combos. Maybe she found it in a place only mothers and grandmothers could see.

Nor do I have a good idea why she got it for me. Guesses abound, all unfulfilled.

"It made me think of you," she might have said when she gave it to me. Whatever she said exactly, it didn't really answer "Why?" I was 13 or 14.

Did she see me as not keeping pace with my companions? As stepping more slowly or in my own tracks? I know I was odd, but not all the time and not really odder than other kids. I was sensitive; I'd say weird things; even shortly before she passed away she reminded me how as a kid I declared a day trip to a nearby town as a "traumatic experience." I don't know why, but the little town of Los Alamos gave me a strange vibe, or maybe it was the circumstances of the day.

You can relate; I know you can. I once laughed at the soap opera she was watching because a character used the word "perturbed" and I thought the writers didn't know how to write and were making up words to compensate.

Shortly after she gave me the plaque, I wrote my own manifesto. In my memory I filled an entire hardback-bound journal with my declaration of independence. It was fierce, in my memory, a bold rejection of the norms and cliques and circles of conformity. Thinking none of the cliques and circles would have me anyway, I rejected them. I was living my own life, making my own way, using many many words and exclamation points to say what Thoreau concluded in 32.

No one else saw my manifesto, as far as I know. I lost the journal soon after. I wouldn't be surprised if someone found it and  made sure it got published as a great work of self-help literature. Except that I would. You know what I mean. I tried to rewrite it in an identical journal, but the venom had drained already.

Was it coincidence that she gave me the plaque and afterward I used Bic™® pen to cut myself loose from the herd?

Maybe my mom was projecting herself through the plaque. Maybe in this case Thoreau missed the gender, that my mom was hearing a different drummer, and maybe it would be good for me to do likewise.

She was a complex person, gracious in company, reserved in private. Accommodating but strongly opinionated, walled in by some of them. A voracious reader, a six-books-at-a-go library patron, novels and histories, always with a book opened across the armrest.

She was worldly, her face turned toward Ireland and England, where she got to live as the wife of a noncommissioned Air Force officer. But she was worried and insular too, moreso as she matured.

She'd say mom kinds of things, like forbidding us from ever telling any of our civilian friends about how much lower the prices were at the base commissary, for fear word would get out and the outcry would lead to reform and ruin it for all base personnel and dependents. Up to the time she forbid us, I had no idea about the price of yogurt on base compared to that in town, and never could imagine including that in any conversation I had with friends.

She loved art and literature but wanted us kids to get grounded jobs, not really art or literature. Journalism was good. Journalism lay at the crossroads of our visions, hers and mine. So I sought a job in that.

I became a variant of her. Reserved and quiet in private, but also in public more and more. I'm like Michigan J. Frog from the Warner Brothers cartoons, the singing and dancing amphibian. I can be bubbly and expressive when need be, such as leading tours or speaking off the cuff in front of groups, the less preparation the better. But between times I'm quiet and talking feels tiresome. Michigan, of course, only performed for his captor.

Books go largely unread in my life, and their volume of unopened volumes only expands exponentially. I read, but have always had a love-hate relationship with books; writers read, that's the credo, and I've always mocked myself as a would-be writer that I rarely read. Our son regards Walden as one of his favorites.

But I shared mom's craving for knowledge and curiosity, and maybe (thankfully) less her worry and anxiety. Which is a cop-out, because I really should take on more of that burden, leaving it as I do for others.

Thoreau's words still ring for me, though I'm concluding that I'm not so much different as I am contrary, too often desiring the opposite of others' wishes, which is not helpful in many venues and circumstances.

The plaque remained on the wall of my bedroom, which became mom's study. I brought it home after she passed away. Rediscovered last week when I was moving piles around, it will hang again in my office.

*base exchange, the Target™©®, if you will, for the Air Force base.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

In search of identity

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary (in my head, anyway) to try and brand the collective stupidity that is swimming our beloved Lake Natoma year 'round, I try. Lord knows I try.

Here's the latest try.

Photog phenom and former college roomie David Middlecamp tipped me to the following:
Curglaff, n. (of Scottish dialect, first recorded 1808): The shock felt when one first plunges into the cold water.
It's an odd obscure word, on a list of other such words making the rounds of the Internet. Since then a number of swimmers from around the globe, with whom I check in through a facebook™© page, have also pointed out the word.

I stole it while no one was looking.

Still futzing with it …
Lake Natoma near Sacramento in California is cold most of the year, though not nearly as cold as the pool and open water which swim friends are now plying in the United Kingdom, where it's at or near freezing. Some of them have created The Shiver Club, in which they videotape the "afterdrop," when blood returns from arms and legs to the body's core some five minutes after a cold swim. Even fully dressed and with hot beverage in hand, swimmers go into afterdrop spasms of uncontrollable shivering.

It's part of the fun.

Trust me.

We haven't had to shiver yet after our swims. Only in the last couple of days has the temperature turned, so water temperature may soon dip. It's hovered around 56 or 57 Fahrenheit the last few weeks, which is reasonable and cozy for those of us so accustomed.

We don't feel curglaff yet, in other words. (I'm now proposing it work as a verb too.)

But we will, and in the spirit of curglaff and its origin, I played with the inspiration of illuminated capital art and celebrated the lake, right down to the green water and egret and geese and the split tail, which makes walking the dog a bit of a chore.

I throw it on the pile of other indentities I've come up with from time to time for the lake, the result of conversations with other of the crazies (though mostly with myself).

I belong to an open water swimming group, vast in membership but much smaller in participation, and the bulk of those swimmers arrive in spring to swim in warmer Folsom Lake, which feeds Lake Natoma.

Usually most of those swimmers will come occasionally to Natoma in mid-summer; with drought and high demand this year depleting Folsom, the Folsom summer regulars had to finish up their season at Lake Natoma, which has been warmer than usual as a result of the low volume.

Some five or six of us swim Natoma all year.

Most of the identities I've fiddled with pay homage to the lake but not its primary qualities, that it's quiet and cold.

Nimbus Flat Earth Society promotes year-round swimming, but Nimbus Flat is just one end of the lake, and we swim at the upper end too. It's called Negro Bar, named for a Gold Rush settlement of African Americans along the American River. People pronounce the name as if it's Spanish — nayh-gro — which fits into California's Spanish and Mexican history. but perhaps you can see the problem using it as an identity.

I think Curglaff Club has staying power. Not that I won't keep talking to myself messing around with new ideas.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A ghost of Christmas past

A Sanjay Patel self-portrait
Let us now praise Sanjay Patel. It's long overdue.

All you need to stop me cold is bobble a bauble of fine illustration in front of me. My Achilles' heel.

So surprising, then, I have gotten any work done at all since a couple of Christmases ago, when Santa left a copy of Patel's book, Ramayana: Divine Loophole.

It's taken this long to spout off about him because I've been busy spouting off about, well, me. And I've finally come across nice images from the book that would have been disserved by my dodgy scanning acumen.

In Ramayana, Patel latently taps into his Hindu heritage and retells a centuries-old epic good-vs.-evil tale in his vivid, magnetic illustration style.*

Patel is a supervising animator and storyboard artist for Pixar, and finds time to write and illustrate books ["The Little Book of Hindu Deities" and "The Big Poster Book of Hindu Deities" (which is really a collection of posters but I'm not quibbling)] and do such and sundry as designing exhibits for the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

The word you're reaching for to describe Sanjay Patel's career is cherry.

And the word for his work — for me anyway — is truly magnetic. As much as I hate online ads with my morning news and trivia gathering, I was surprised to be drawn immediately to one for the Asian Art Museum. It featured Patel's work promoting "Deities, Demons and Dudes with 'Staches: Indian Avatars." It's part of that museum's efforts to reach out in a fresh way, and wow, did it!

The color! In such combinations! So stark, so complicated! (staring, drooling)

Patel masters Adobe Illustrator™®, my medium of reluctant choice (really more of a forced marriage, but I've been at it long enough to see how someday I can learn to love it …).

Illustrator©™ allows its masters precise shape and placement to create patterns — tools which Patel puts to optimum use in the visual opulence of Hindu culture.

Precision also enables Illustrator®™ masters to pare visual communication to the smallest unit, the simplest shape, the extravagant economy of line and shape.

Patel marries the vast and the simple in his work. I'm so, so jealous.

I told him so once, and he emailed me back (little ol' me!) to aw-shucks my admiration:
"If there is anything good about my work it's from staring at other artists' creations for a really long time," he said. "Nothing original here, just rearrangement of ingredients."
Elsewhere on the Interwebs — Patel's in a lot of places, thankfully — he has said he and all his classmates at the California Institute for the Arts were obsessed with mid-20th Century illustration style, which I call "cookbook art." Should you be at or near my age, you remember the spare iconography of cookbook illustration, foods and people reduced to the flattest, sparest shape and line, artwork held together with clever use of negative space (the white paper as color), and depth and sophistication suggested with overlapping tones of a single color.

Charley Harper was a chief inspiration, said Patel. You see echoes of the mid-Century style today in the work of Bob Staake and Edwin Fotheringham, for example.

The Interwebs also show Patel's attention to detail before his illustrations reach their digital apex. Tissues and vellums (vella?) filled with fine lines and circles, weaving to shapes colored in combinations so strange to me, but combinations that work to stunning effect.

(drooling again)

See for yourself, these selections from the epic Ramayana. And find the book. Immerse yourself. I learned more than I ever have of Hindu mythology, which was inseparable for Patel culturally as a child growing up in the Southland, but has grown with him spiritually.

I learned enough to know, for instance, that the worn-out little sculptures I discovered a couple of months on the beach of the lake where I swim are of Ganesh, and that it's sometimes custom for Hindus to cast Ganesh into the water with a prayer for destroying life's obstacles.

*All these samples are by Sanjay Patel, which I obtained from multiple sources. It's all copyrighted by Patel, I'm sure, and probably by Pixar®™, and since Disney®© owns Pixar™®, and Disney™© can rain holy hell on preschools which have the unmitigated gall to paint Pluto™ (not the erstwhile planet) on their playroom walls without paying licensing fees and prostrate homage, what chance do I, a lowly blogger, have? I throw myself on the mercy of the court of public opinion.