Thursday, September 19, 2019

Facing the Music

The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
--2 Peter 3:10

As I walk into Starbucks this morning, the sound system is playing one of the more annoying songs among those in their generally relentlessly annoying current repertoire--a truly cringe worthy number designed to set one's teeth on edge. 

Ah, but there are bigger problems than this in the world, bigger fish to fry to a crisp until nothing is left but ash. For, you see, I am coming here just after reading an article from the New York Times about the inescapable results of global warming by the end of the century. Somehow this brought home the reality more distinctly than I had previously experienced it, just in the same way that the author himself described suddenly facing our inevitable collective fate. 

It had not occurred to me before, for instance--probably because I hadn't really thought about it--that those peoples currently living in land masses that will be the first to suffer deadly effects--land masses such as Indonesia, with its current population of 264 million and rising--will quite naturally seek to migrate north and south to cooler climates. As portions of the earth become one after another uninhabitable, populations will continue to migrate en masse, making their destinations unlivable as well in advance of the actual flash baking of those locales.

One can only imagine, given the current attitude of the government of the United States toward asylum seekers fleeing disaster, what the response to this new 'invasion' would be. 'Burn in hell' will probably be the slogan of the privileged people of the future. 

Which all makes me feel glad to be on my way out. All of the suffering that has been visited upon people by other people--the wars, the genocides, the pogroms, the massacres--are about to be surpassed by the earth itself. Poetic justice? I don't know. I guess it just is what it is. And that is what we cannot bear to face. Eat, drink, and be merry, we say, for tomorrow we die. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Idiot Morons

Y'all ever notise that miny Trump suporters miss use the Inglish language? It's like the Bowling Green Massacre, man! I mean, it's like I cant even begin to dikuss an issu until we can get some gramer rules sorted out, let alone spilling. One Trumpette comented this morning that Beto is "a idiot moron." Well, first of all, he has misused the article, in that 'a' should be 'an'. Moreover, he has improperly linked two nouns, as if the second were a modifier of the first--but dude, 'idiot' and 'moron' have the same meaning. It's redundant. The intended insult is not only grammatically incorrect, it's … well, idiotic. He might be "an idiotic moron" or "a moronic idiot", although that would still be redundant, but he simply cannot be an "idiot moron". Although I guess the writer of the comment can be. It's down right tiring. And these are probably the same peephole that tell forners to lern Inglish or go back where they came from without recognizing that they themselves need to go back to skool. God! I reely cant help but try to correct some basic errors, at which point I am, of course, accused of being a 'Gramer Nasi." Ya they ain't no point is speeking rat. We all know whats rat and whats rong, and its obvius who the idiot morn is here!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Something Happened

Things are different now. Things have changed. I don't know exactly when this happened. In fact, I suppose it didn't happen exactly all at one point in time. I can only research my own life, by looking back through my own writings, and see that perhaps two years ago I was walking every day, and walking fairly long distances, without any particular discomfort. I can see that I would often take a morning walk. The big fat brown dog would come along with me. This was in the old neighborhood, at the old house in Renon. I can see that I would also often take a walk on the beach in the evening. When Sasha was here visiting, he would accompany me. It was just me and him, because his mom was off travelling the world with her boyfriend. This was all, as I have said, about two years ago. 

Then there came a long series of various illnesses, culminating in a final (one hopes) top-it-all-off illness which spanned the months from mid February to August. One problem after another. Or perhaps they were all one masquerading as many. 

I seek now to resume the life that had been put on hold during this long period of time, but find that I am unable. My legs are weak and shaky, my balance sucks. I start out on one of the old familiar paths and have barely begun when my legs and lower back begin to ache. I feel like I'm walking on the moon, only its a moon with gravity double that of the earth and I can feel the weight of the cumbersome space suit that is my own body.

So I guess I'm looking for the new me. What is it that I do now? Rest. Read books. Watch movies. Eat. I guess that's it, so far. And it seems, sadly, to be enough. I will often fall asleep in the middle of the day--a deep, dry-mouthed, paralyzing, spell-like sleep. A Snow White sort of sleep. I will wake to find that Takut the dog has shown up in the meantime and is sitting by the bedside staring at me. It is a sleep that extinguishes time, such that when I wake, I do not know whether it is morning, midday, or evening. 

Gosh, maybe I need vitamins. Some speed might also help. Little blue rocket pills. 

Or maybe I've just gotten old in two years. Time moves fast in these twilight years, even as it seems to stand still. 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

In Memoriam

[The following is a memoriam written by my son's half brother, Kendal. I thought it honest, heartfelt, sensitive, touching. Holden passed away in the spring of this year. His mother, stepfather, and brother visit his grave once a month.]

I will remember Holden. I will remember how he was with me from day one and will always be with me.

I will remember going to visit him in a big house high up in the hills, how we would often spend those early fourth of July’s up there with his grandparents shooting fireworks from their porch.
I will remember mom telling me he had a Rom figure, before I was even born but it said something he didn’t like once so he stopped playing with it.

I will remember how we tried to play laser tag once and how I fell and busted my head open, and he asked if he could be taken home before they took me to the emergency room, I tried not to resent him for that, but sadly I’m not sure I ever truly succeeded.

I will remember being at our old apartment, being an ass to my mom In front of my friends just to try and impress them and how Holden grabbed my arm hard to try and make me apologize, but at the time I wouldn’t and how stupidly proud I felt for standing up to him, when in retrospect I was just being a jerk and wish I had apologized.

I will remember going on plenty of volkswalks with Holden and how he was always the fastest walker I had ever seen, often getting far ahead of us and then having to stop and wait for the rest of us slowpokes.

I will remember one particular time, I think after a volkswalk, that we were at a dam or fishery of some sort and we ended up having a little talk amongst one another, and he asked how I was doing and generally seemed to be interested in me and how I was, a rare thing for an autistic person to do and probably my most cherished memory of him.

I will remember how Holden would often walk around with a large glass of juice or tea and before he would leave our house for the night he would always have to gulp down every last drop, often in one shot, as if every drop of liquid was precious, before he could confidently stride out for the night.

I will remember how he always called me Kuda, I never really knew why but I always accepted it, It was nice to have a nickname.

I will remember when dad would drive him around he would often complain about which route he took to avoid traffic, and how despite never driving himself, he was right more often then you would think.

I will remember growing older and realizing people could be cruel to someone like Holden and wishing to kick the butt of anyone I felt treated him wrong.

I will remember intentionally listening to loud music or other ruckus thing trying to intentionally annoy him, as siblings do, or how I would try to eat all the good food In the fridge before he could, a habit that never left me, even though it was petty and stupid and I often regretted doing it.

I will remember his loud booming voice and thunderous step that would always easily announce his presence.

I will remember how he always made it so the microwave wouldn’t spin somehow, whether intentionally or not, I don’t know.

I will remember how you always knew it was Holden at the door because he would ring the doorbell once then twice in rapid succession, before testing the door handle to see If he could let himself in.

I will remember how Holden would sometimes crack himself up In the middle of a sentence as he recounted some sort of ridiculous happenings going on in the world today.

I will remember how Holden on warm sunny days would grab a drink and go out into our backyard and just sit on our homemade patio enjoying the world.

I will remember how he would do an awkward little shuffle between the fridge and garbage can, trying his hardest to avoid touching the garbage.

I will remember how he is the only person I know who probably hasn’t watched the television or gone to a movie in decades, yet still seemed to know what was going on in the world.

I will remember how mom and dad would drive out to all sorts of stores in order to get everything Holden needed, but almost inevitably he would call back the next day with something he forgot, and how, if they could, nine times out of ten they would get whatever else he needed as well.

I will remember how mom would always share her diabetic supplies with Holden, even when he would overdo it because she understood what Holden was going through even when me and dad couldn’t understand.

I will remember how he always loved to go to the beach and would have loved to have lived there, a sentiment I share.

I will remember how Holden had a nice smile on the rare occasions he showed it.

I remember how he often would not get up until noon, and how I would usually meet up with him in the middle of the night when he slept over, we were both night owls of the highest order and had way more in common than I often thought.

I will remember how Holden was always an old soul and seemed to get along better with people twice his age, and how I thought if he could just live in an old folks home, man would he be set.

I will remember his interest in the similarities and differences in religions throughout time and his seeming quest to find a pattern to it all.

I will remember his love of history and his never ending quest for more books to read, something he shared with mom, how I would often sit and listen to them discuss history, wishing I had something to add to the discussion.

I will remember his aspirations at trying to write books, I believe historical fiction, and how he took it into his own hands to try and get published, I think some of his work he even put online, I wish I knew where, as someone who has his own inclinations towards art I hope that his stories brought him a sense of accomplishment and joy to create, perhaps not all stories are meant to become popular, maybe some are never even meant to be read or seen by anyone but their creator, but, nevertheless I feel they are all important and worth the effort to create.

I will remember him reading young adult horror books when he was younger and how he would scare me with apparitions like the bandage man, he is probably one of the reasons I am interested in things like Bigfoot to this day.

I will remember how when dad had to go away on business he came over to stay, at the time I thought it was purely out of self interest, but I suspect that he may have desired to watch over me and mom.

I will remember how if the cats were bothering him he would talk to them just like they were little furry humans and could easily understand him, I found it rather funny.

I will remember how he had a special relationship with bumpa, one that I cannot really speak of but that I know he appreciated.

I will remember how he would always come over on Christmas eve to open presents and have a good meal, and how it was always fun to see him so nonchalantly tell you exactly what he thought of his presents for better or worse, but I think he appreciated them despite how mundane they always were.

I will remember that despite all his problems he was always able to talk to anyone he met, he was never afraid to speak his mind or share an opinion, a trait I wish I could have learned from him.
I will remember how Holden almost singlehandedly kept Tab on the shelves with his love of the product.

I will remember how he would always say goodbye by saying something like “It was nice seeing you, hope you have a good day, uh, goodbye!” and how he was always obsessed with the weather and how it would affect his favorite activity, walking.

I will remember how he was always active on some project or another whether it was writing a book or cleaning up a long forgotten hiking trail for free better then anyone who would have been paid to do the job could have.

I will remember how he would offer to trim our hedges and do the best most meticulous job you’ve ever seen.

I will remember Holden as a always restless wandering soul who never had enough time on his hands and always hoped for sunny days.

I will remember how I would sometimes see him smile and wave at my cats as they passed by and how he would almost talk to them like they were people who could understand everything he said, I always thought it was very cute.

Holden had to endure many hardships and hurdles in his too brief life but he always tackled them with resolve in himself and the fact that the Lord was always with him, that is what I will take from Holden's life, the idea to never stop, never give up and to always have faith, unshakable unwavering faith.

Be well Holden. I will see you in heaven someday and we’ll walk along the sunny paths of eternity together. I love you, miss you, and will never forget you.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

I did not realize that Quentin Tarantino's recent film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, was about the Manson family murders until well into the story, when I began to put together the hints along the way. Of course, most folks will already know this when they go to see the movie because most folks are more plugged into current American film offerings and pre-release media than I am. In a sense, this made me the ideal viewer, as Tarantino was able to spring this shock-value surprise on me whilst I was otherwise immersed in the frivolity of Hollywood lifestyles and the self-centered fixations of actors and directors which seemed, though deceptively so, to be the focus of the story. It all comes together rather nicely, actually, and ends up delivering a comedy, in the classic sense, of Hollywood illusion juxtaposed with the deadly realities of the world. I have never been a Tarantino fan (to put it mildly), but this is certainly his most successful, most artistic, most meaningful effort. Yes, when it comes to the Manson murders, I would rather see a film from Spike Lee or Francis Ford Coppola or Martin Scorsese; but then again, it is perhaps better at this point in time to talk not about the factual details regarding the murders and the murderers, but about the culture that produced them and continues to do so. And this is what Tarantino has done. It is a good movie, I will say grudgingly, and it is extremely well acted by Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Al Pacino.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Allmost Lost in Translation

Generally, in every day conversation with every day people, one finds that Indonesians, as well as other Southeast Asians, know very little about America or American politics. And there's no reason that they should, actually. America is far away, and American realities are superfluous to every day life in Asian countries.

However, I happened to meet a young woman yesterday through my language sharing app who is a political science major at a university in Java and who I found to be quite knowledgeable about current political figures and trends in America, being able to understand the English in newspapers and news broadcasts. 

Nonetheless, the view she had arrived at, through these sources and through, I'm sure, the slant of her studies and lectures, was interesting. 

Trump just fired national security advisor John Bolton, she wrote. Trump is a traitor. He NEVER followed MY orders, Trump said. When I ordered him to give Putin a list of my CIA agents, Bolton refused. When I ordered Bolton to Nuke the hurricane, Bolton didn't do it. Now, thanks to Bolton, Alabama is in ruins.

As an American reader can see, I hope, this version of events is rather garbled, rather extreme. Even for one who despises Trump as much as I do, Trump is not quite so bad as painted here. He did not order Bolton to give Putin a list of CIA agents in Russia (at least as far as we know or has actually been reported). Bolton was not ordered to Nuke any hurricanes. And, of course, Alabama is not in ruins. 

But, you see, this is what happens when news that is generally bad is translated through language and cultural perception and foreign political sensitivities. It becomes worse. Conversely, when news that is good is translated through the same channels, it becomes better yet. Thus the common Indonesian affection for Barack Obama. Therefore, what strikes us at home as despicable about Donald Trump and his administration's policies becomes more despicable yet in foreign eyes. 

Thursday, September 12, 2019


Totally lazy day today, even for an expert, like me, at lazy days. I've outdone myself in something that didn't really need outdoing. Instead of going out for coffee and what not, I sat around watching the American political news, otherwise known as the Trump Comedy Hour, which, hopefully, will soon be cancelled, for it is a show that is increasingly outrageous, disheartening, and maddening. So why watch? Well, as I have theorized in the past, it may be because it is like witnessing a terrible motor vehicle accident. The site is chilling, gruesome, and yet one cannot look away. I think there is also the expectation, or the undying hope, that something significant will happen and the whole nightmare will soon be taken care of and washed away. 

The only thing I did, really, up to this point, was drive the short distance to my wife's villa to pick up some food she had for Takut the dog. The wife herself, who is actually no longer the wife, was not there, but in the city of Solo on the island of Java--thus the need for me to retrieve Takut's food while it was still fresh (although, to tell the truth, I doubt whether he cares how 'fresh' it is but only how quickly he can get it). 

That task done, I went back to watching the news, and then fell asleep. Such is my entertaining life in tropical paradise. And as far as that goes, the weather today feels far less than tropical (for which, in fact, I am thankful), being instead cloudy, windy, and a bit chilly. Something like autumn in Portland, actually. Deja vu. 

Something that used to annoy me about Indonesia and Indonesians, and which now, after eight years of acclimation, is only vaguely irritating, is the general habit people have of considering motorbikes, once parked and left behind whilst the owner shops or has coffee or goes to bed or whatever, to have become public property and useful as park benches, easy chairs, powder rooms, or what have you. I will often return from wherever I have been to find someone, or two or three someones, happily reclining on my bike or screwing the rearview mirrors around so that they can examine their skin or comb their hair. As I've said, there was at first the automatic American response of 'What the hell are you doing on my bike, dude?' Now, I find it only momentarily surprising, and actually tend to apologize for interrupting the occupant's rest--'Sorry, that's my bike. I have to go now.' On one occasion, I returned to the bike to find a policeman sitting on it. My immediate thought, predictably enough, or Americanly enough, was  'Oh boy, now I'm gonna get a ticket for something or other. Am I parked improperly? Are my plates expired?' But no, the officer was just chilling, kicking back, and the most convenient place to do so was on the seat of my bike.  

Ah. Well, then, I guess it really is okay. 

Other than this, Takut the dog once again finds himself accused by one of the villa occupants of being ill. 

"No, I don't think he's ill," I answer. "He's just ugly. And old."

"Yes, he is ugly. But he's okay here, as long as he doesn't bother anyone."

"Yes, he's a pretty quiet dog. Hardly ever barks. By the way, he's not my dog, you know?"

"Oh? But I always see him on your porch."

"Yes, he often hangs out here, but he's not my dog. I don't know whose dog he is. He was here already when I moved here." 


"Yes. He used to live on the back patio under the patio floor. He just figured out over time that I was dog-friendly and had food to give him."

"And does he come inside?"

"Well yes. He often sleeps inside, when he's not sleeping on the porch." 

"On your bed?" she asks, aghast. 

"Oh Lord no. The dog has bugs! Kutu-kutu."


"Yeah. Eww."

"But he's okay. As long as he doesn't have rabies."

"Well, if you see him foaming at the mouth or biting people, let me know, okay?"

Poor Takut. He can't help his appearance. Or his bugs. And he's not foaming at the mouth or anything like that. Really, he's a pretty nice dog. He just needs a friend or two.