Magical Realism, Writing, Fiction, Politics, Haiku, Books

miércoles, diciembre 26, 2012

And A Happy New Year!

A prosperous and happy New Year from The Dream Antilles. May your Holiday Season be filled with joy.

We hope you'll visit again in 2013.


viernes, diciembre 21, 2012

Wayne's World: A Logic Free Zone

Wayne LaPierre is unmoved

The same old nonsense from the NRA. Today, the NRA gave a long awaited press conference. Wayne LaPierre read from notes and did not answer questions. He ignored hecklers. His point? Armed guards in every school will protect kids from crazy armed shooters. What Codswallop. What a completely bankrupt argument.

The New York Times put it this way:

The National Rifle Association on Friday called for schools to be protected by armed guards as the best way to shield children from gun violence.

The proposal from the pro-gun lobbying group, long the most vocal and influential organization generally opposing stricter regulation of firearms, came during the N.R.A.'s first organized media event after the deadly shootings in Newtown, Conn. The group also called for steps other than gun control, including cracking down on criminals and fighting violence in the media and on video games. ...

But it was the vehement insistence that the single best line of defense was to put armed guards in schools — and the absence of any openness to various suggestions for new gun control measures — that dominated the event at a downtown hotel not far from the White House.

Mr. LaPierre said this should be done right away, with the details left to the discretion of local schools. The N.R.A. would provide a template or model program after consulting with security experts.


To be kind, which is not exactly what I'm feeling at the moment, that dog just won't hunt, Wayne. And seriously. The video game as a source of violence? That's the old Twinkie defense. You know. Everything that happened was somebody else's fault/responsibility. I thought you were for responsible gun ownership. Apparently, you've just deleted the adjective. Fine. The multitude of victims of gun violence deserve better. If they won't get it from you, fine. They'll get it elsewhere.

And suggesting that arming cops would prevent killing is a complete insult. To policemen who have been killed in the line of duty. It's really simple. Armed police are being killed by armed people at an astonishing rate in America. The guns the police are carrying aren't keeping even them alive. So remind me again why having armed police, like they had at Columbine right at the school, or at Virginia Tech, which had the police nearby, is going to safeguard our children? And let's not even think about Fort Hood, where almost everybody was armed, and it did not good to prevent mass murder.

I should add a note of unwanted irony. While Wayne was talking, some guy in Pennsylvania was walking down the road shooting people, including state troopers. Nicely done, Wayne. Nicely done.

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jueves, diciembre 20, 2012

Happy Holidays!!

Felices Fiestas! Queremos tomar esta tiempo para ofrecerle nuestros mejores deseos a usted y sus seres queridos. Esperamos que su hogar este lleno de gozo, cordialidad y buena voluntad durante esta temporada de fiestas. Que usted y su familia gozen de paz, felicidad y buena salud durante el nuevo ano.

Seasons Greetings! We'd like to take this time to extend our very best wishes to you and your loved ones. We hope your home will be filled with joy, warmth and goodwill during this holiday season. May you and your family enjoy peace, happiness, and good health throughout the coming year.

The bird at the top is a Caribbean laughing gull. In Spanish its name is guanaguanare. This bird always appears when the fishermen are unloading their catch after a day of fishing. The bird hopes for a fish to be dropped from a basket as the boats are unloaded so it can whisk it away. I have watched the guanaguanare, and I admire them. Whenever fish are unloaded, the fisherman should save a few just to throw to the gulls. This seems to say, "We're all together, we're all in this together, we're all sharing the earth. May you be well and happy."

I wish each of you a delightful Holiday Season. May you have ease and prosperity in this holiday season and in throughout the coming New Year.


This is a re-publication of our essay on 12/19/07

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What's In The Brown Paper Bag? A Holiday Story

(I originally posted this item in December, 2009. This is a short story by Luis Ramirez, who was executed in Texas on October 20, 2005. My thanks to Abe Bonowitz for passing this story along to me. The story doesn't require any commentary, and I'm not going to give any. It's a gift to all of you for the Holidays, Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, New Year's, Solstice, whatever holiday, if any, you may celebrate.)

By Luis Ramirez #999309

I'm about the share with you a story whose telling is long past due. It's a familiar story to most of you reading this from death row. And now it's one that all of you in "free world " may benefit from. This is the story of my first day on the row.

I came here in May of 1999. The exact date is something that I can't recall. I do remember arriving in the afternoon. I was placed in a cell on H-20 wing over at the Ellis Unit in Huntsville, TX. A tsunami of emotions and thoughts were going through my mind at the time. I remember the only things in the cell were a mattress, pillow, a couple of sheets, a pillow case, a roll of toilet paper, and a blanket. I remember sitting there, utterly lost.

The first person I met there was Napolean Beasley. Back then, death row prisoners still worked. His job at the time was to clean up the wing and help serve during meal times. He was walking around sweeping the pod in these ridiculous looking rubber boots. He came up to the bars on my cell and asked me if I was new. I told him that I had just arrived on death row. He asked what my name is. I told him, not seeing any harm in it. He then stepped back where he could see all three tiers. He hollered at everyone, "There's a new man here. He just drove up. His name is Luis Ramirez." When he did that, I didn't know what to make of it at first. I thought I had made some kind of mistake. You see, like most of you, I was of the impression that everyone on death row was evil. I thought I would find hundreds of "Hannibal Lecters" in here. And now, they all knew my name. I thought "Oh well," that's strike one. I was sure that they would soon begin harassing me. This is what happens in the movies after all.

Well, that's not what happened. After supper was served, Napolean was once again sweeping the floors. As he passed my cell, he swept a brown paper bag into it. I asked him "What's this?" He said for me to look inside and continued on his way. Man, I didn't know what to expect. I was certain it was something bad. Curiosity did get the best of me though. I carefully opened the bag. What I found was the last thing I ever expected to find on death row, and everything I needed. The bag contained some stamps, envelopes, notepad, pen, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, tooth brush, a pastry, a soda, and a couple of Ramen noodles. I remember asking Napolean where this came from.

He told me that everyone had pitched in. That they knew that I didn't have anything and that it may be a while before I could get them. I asked him to find out who had contributed. I wanted to pay them back. He said, "It's not like that. Just remember the next time you see someone come here like you. You pitch in something."

I sat there on my bunk with my brown paper bag of goodies, and thought about what had just happened to me. The last things I expected to find on death row was kindness and generosity. They knew what I needed and they took it upon themselves to meet those needs. They did this without any expectation of reimbursement or compensation. They did this for a stranger, not a known friend. I don't know what they felt when they committed this act of incredible kindness. I only know that like them, twelve "good people" had deemed me beyond redemption. The only remedy that these "good people" could offer us is death. Somehow what these "good people" saw and what I was seeing didn't add up. How could these men, who just showed me so much humanity, be considered the "worst of the worst?"

Ever since Napolean was executed, for a crime he committed as a teen, I've wanted to share this story with his family. I would like for them to know that their son was a good man. One who I will never forget. I want for them to know how sorry I am that we as a society failed them and him. I still find it ridiculous that we as a people feel that we cannot teach or love our young properly. I'm appalled at the idea that a teen is beyond redemption, that the only solution that we can offer is death. It's tragic that this is being pointed out to the "good people" by one of the "worst of the worst". God help us all.

What's in the brown paper bag? I found caring, kindness, love, humanity, and compassion of a scale that I've never seen the "good people" in the free world show towards one another.

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sábado, diciembre 15, 2012

How To Honor The Sandy Hook Victims

I am sad. And I am angry. I don't want to debate anything. I don't want to argue. I don't want to hear about the politics. The theories. The ideas. The law. I'm way beyond that.

I have been overwhelmed most of yesterday and today. The idea that 20 little kids have been shot to death in their classroom is staggering. Some of them, I just heard, were shot 7 times. I don't have anything to say. I'm wordless. I'm idealess.

Maybe on Sunday I will be able to write my usual rant and post it. I doubt it. Right now, though, that seems far away and oddly beside the point.

I wish there were something I could do that would comfort those who have lost their children. Or those who lost their parents and spouses.Or those who lost siblings. I wish there were something I could do that would make it be all right. Sadly, there isn't.

So I have decided, while I am sorting out my inner landscape, to make a donation to the Coalition To Stop Gun Violence. I made my donation in honor of the Sandy Hook Elementary Children. There really isn't much else I can do.

Please join me. Because this is the Internet, a small donation, one you won't even feel later on, can provide important resources for the upcoming battle to control gun violence. To prevent further murders of this kind.

I don't ever want to hear again that school children have been killed in their classrooms.

Making a donation seems to me to be a step toward that.

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miércoles, diciembre 12, 2012

Hay Stacks?

This photo was taken at 12:12 pm on 12/12/12.

It reminds me of something. Oh, yes:

Or maybe this:

Or maybe this:



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Ravi Shankar, RIP

The New York Times:

Ravi Shankar, the Indian sitarist and composer whose collaborations with Western classical musicians as well as rock stars helped foster a worldwide appreciation of India’s traditional music, died Tuesday in a hospital near his home in Southern California. He was 92. ...

Mr. Shankar, a soft-spoken, eloquent man whose performance style embodied a virtuosity that transcended musical languages, was trained in both Eastern and Western musical traditions. Although Western audiences were often mystified by the odd sounds and shapes of the instruments when he began touring in Europe and the United States in the early 1950s, Mr. Shankar and his ensemble gradually built a large following for Indian music.

His instrument, the sitar, has a small rounded body and a long neck with a resonating gourd at the top. It has 6 melody strings and 25 sympathetic strings (which are not played but resonate freely as the other strings are plucked). Sitar performances are partly improvised, but the improvisations are strictly governed by a repertory of ragas (melodic patterns representing specific moods, times of day, seasons of the year or events) and talas (intricate rhythmic patterns) that date back several millenniums.

He taught everyone from John Coltrane to George Harrison. He will be sorely missed.

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