Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Cabaret 88 Concert Series in Palm Springs

Tonight LA came to the desert. Julie Garnye and Michael Sobie were amazing in the first first of three shows at the Cabaret 88 concert series in Palm Springs.

Julie Garnye is an actress, singer, voiceover artist, writer and director. She can currently be seen in the first National Gour of the Broadway sensation, Come From Away. 

Michsel Sobie is an award-winning pianist with credits encompassing film, television, and stage productions.

Thanks to our host, Dan Kitowski for a wonderful night of food, wine, and entertainment. We loved it.








Thursday, November 22, 2018

Double Celebration with Double Happiness

Today is not only Thanksgiving, it is also the 25thanniversary of being with my husband, Herman. Twenty-five years ago, we exchanged rings on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco, and promised to live together until death. Since then we have not spent a night apart.

It has been an extraordinary, quart-century journey. And on this day when we Americans traditionally examine our lives and give thanks, I feel I have more than my share to feel grateful for. Twenty-five years of love and support and friendship, of laughter and tears, of travel and adventure to all corners of the world, and of countless nights curled up on the couch, sharing a glass of wine and watching a movie.

I feel at this moment, with these memories, I am truly blessed.




Monday, November 12, 2018

To Find Who You Are

Anne Lamott said, “To love yourself as you are is a miracle, and to seek yourself is to have found yourself, for now.”

The more I thought about Lamott’s statement, the more I pondered the best way to “seek yourself” so that you can truly “find yourself, at least for now.”

The problem with finding yourself, IMHO, is seeing through the facade that masks the uninhabited, messy, awe-inspiring person you were born to be. In short, you need to stop being who you aren’t. 

And what makes up this façade, this false persona we hide behind, or perhaps are imprisoned behind? I think it typically is made up of fixations on:
1) how people perceive us,
2) how to get more of the things that we think will make us happy,
3) zealously striving for whatever we label success as,
4) an obsessive need for power and security.

So to my way of thinking, finding yourself is a little like Michelangelo sculpting his “David.” He didn’t have to make or even alter David within the huge stone block; he simply had to know it was there, and then chip away everything in that block of marble that wasn’t David.

I know that sounds easy, and it’s not. One method for chipping away what is false is what Buddhist teachings call mindfulness. That doesn’t mean you spend all your time in thought or zoned out in meditation. Mindfulness is all about action, and it means that while you take actions, be it brushing your teeth or programming a computer or performing brain surgery, you are utterly focused on what you are doing, and more importantly, fully aware of why you are doing it. Being fully aware of the why means understanding your motivation for performing that action. If you are brushing your teeth, are you doing it for better oral health or are you doing it to impress other people with your dazzling smile? Motivations says a lot about you.

Every action is initiated by a motivation, and motivations reveal who you are, and more importantly, who you aren’t. Understanding your motivations is the first step in exposing (or finding) your true self.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Surviving Immortality Excerpt

I’m very pleased to announce that my latest novel, Surviving Immortality, is now available in paperback and any eBook format, at

Dreamspinner Press Publications https://tinyurl.com/y7kffs4a

Blurb:
This is a story of discovering the fountain of youth, and the upheaval that breakthrough brings to our slightly craze, slightly paranoid, overly greedy society.

When Kenji Hiroshige discovers a formula that will keep people youthful and healthy for several thousand years, he tells the world he will not divulge his formula until every gun, tank, battleship, and bomb has been destroyed. When the world is free of weapons, everyone can live forever. And then he goes into hiding.

Before he disappears, his stepson Matt is exposed to the formula. Kenji takes Matt on the run with him, but as they struggle to elude both government agencies and corporations who will do anything to profit from Kenji’s discovery, Matt learns that world peace might not be his stepfather’s only goal. There may be a darker purpose at work. But what can a young man who’s barely stepped foot off his isolated ranch do in the face of something so sinister?

This is the story of human greed and man’s lust for violence. It’s the story of a world on the brink of destruction, but it’s also a tale of one young man who finds in himself the will, courage, and compassion to stand against the darkness—both outside and within himself.

This is a story of hope.

Excerpt:
Jessup glanced out the window over the sink and saw a helicopter hovering just beyond the holding pens.
The horses spooked, galloping along the fence in all directions. Their panic turned to terror as the copter drew close. Dust thrown up by their hooves and by the copter’s rotor blades turned the corral into a brown tempest. By the time Jessup raced out the back door, the horses crashed through the corral rails, bursting into the work yard. In a single body, they tore across the yard hell-bent for the foothills.
Jessup leaped for his life and landed only a few feet from flashing hooves. He rolled under the porch and waited until the last of them sped by. He stood, squaring his shoulders, preparing for a fight. The herd was almost out of sight by the time the copter touched earth and the blades slowed. As soon as the air cleared, a man and a woman crawled from the cockpit, leaving the pilot in the plastic bubble.
The man was meticulously groomed, wearing Dockers, a Polo shirt, and aviator sunglasses. He looked to be in his midfifties, sporting a full head of salt-and-pepper hair and a salon tan. He cradled a bottle of champagne in his left arm and held out his manicured right hand to shake Jessup’s rough paw. The woman wore her brown hair in a tight bun on the back of her head, and her stylish navy blue silk suit and heels made her seem as if she’d just stepped from a boardroom rather than a helicopter. Her skirt showed off a great pair of athletic legs. She was seductive and seemed cheerily aware of it. She carried champagne flutes in one hand and a briefcase in the other. She walked several feet behind her male companion, letting Jessup know who was in charge.
Jessup pointed after the herd. “Do you halfwits have any idea what you did?”
“All too sorry,” the gentleman said with a slight Scottish brogue, “but there was no time to waste with airports and rental cars. I wanted to be the first to congratulate our rising star.” He flashed a billion-dollar smile. When Jessup didn’t answer, he added, “Fear not. I’ll buy you a new herd of thoroughbreds. Any breed you’d like.”
“Who the hell are you?”
“Declan Hughes, at your service. I’m the founder and chairman of the board of Golden Eagle Industries, parent company to Golden Eagle Pharmaceuticals.” He turned to the woman. “And this is Miz Diane McCarthy, Golden Eagle’s CEO.”
She lifted her hand to shake, but it was holding four wine flutes, one stem between each finger. She shrugged, and her cheeks blushed a lovely peach color. “Pleased to meet you. I assume you’re Mr. Connors?”
Even Jessup, tucked away on this ranch for the last dozen years, knew plenty about Declan Hughes. A 2004 Timemagazine article listed twenty people under the age of forty who were shaping the new century. Declan Hughes was fifth on that list. A multibillionaire physicist and businessman, he was the Steve Jobs of the US defense industry. He made a killing in the decade-long Iraq war. In addition to owning Golden Eagle Applied Avionics, the premier corporation developing drone-aircraft weaponry for the US military, he also owned the pharmacological research company that employed Kenji.
Jessup had also read his name online and in the society columns of the LA Times, enough to know that Declan had a penchant for sexy women, vintage cars, and Cambodian art, and his charity functions drew most of Hollywood’s A-list to his Holmby Hills mansion, yet his politics were surprisingly liberal. He reportedly abhorred war, even though that’s what earned the lion’s share of his billions, and he sat on the board of advisors of the Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, and the Wilderness Society.
Jessup’s anger imploded. This grand entrance, no doubt, had something to do with Kenji’s hasty exit just a half hour before. Jessup waved an arm toward the back door, and Declan brushed past him, as cheerful and confident as British royalty.
In the kitchen, Declan unwired the cork on his champagne bottle, and Diane McCarthy lined up flutes on the counter. The cork came out with a festive pop.
“Pernod Ricard Perrier-Jouët, two-thousand-four,” Declan said, holding up the bottle. “It’s not quite as expensive as the Dom Pérignon Oenotheque Rose, two-thousand-six, but I think it tastes as exquisite, and I love the flowers on the bottle.” He poured the slightly golden liquid into flutes. “Please invite Kenji to join our celebration. We have much to talk about.”
Diane handed Jessup a glass of bubbly.
“He’s not here.”
“When will he return?”
Jessup shrugged.
Declan glanced around the kitchen, lingering on the two things that were unusual: the ashes in the sink and the envelope on the counter. “I see you’re a man of few words, Mr. Connors. Would you tell me where I might find him? I’m sure his letter gave his destination, or you wouldn’t have destroyed it.”
“We’re just simple ranch people here. We don’t like folks butting in, and we don’t give out information until we know why someone is asking questions.”
Declan’s smile broadened as he held up his flute in a toast. “Mr. Connors, cheers.” He swallowed a thimbleful and seemed to roll it on his tongue. “Superlative.”
Diane also sipped. Jessup drained his flute in one swallow. Declan refilled his glass.
“As to the why, we want to congratulate him and his research partner, Miss Consuela Rocha y Villareal, for their discovery of the greatest scientific breakthrough in the history of mankind.” He took another sip, but his eyes never left Jessup’s face. Jessup felt like he was being dissected like a lab rat.
He shook his head. “Kenji never mentioned any breakthrough.”
“Mr. Connors,” Diane said, “Kenji and Consuela are leading authorities in the field of regenerative medicine. Let me show you something that will explain everything.” She set her flute on the counter and placed her briefcase on the walnut table. She sat before the case, popped open the latches, and removed a laptop.
Jessup drained his second glass while she brought the computer to life and clicked an avatar. The monitor filled with a video of Kenji and Consuela in a lab setting. As he listened to Consuela spout off a lot of scientific jargon about altering human DNA, he felt the blood drain from his face. They claimed their breakthrough regenerated human tissue so effectively that a body could remain healthy for thousands of years. And with this ability to mass generate healthy cells, the body could reverse many forms of cancer, AIDS, heart disease, and even Alzheimer’s. Kenji made the outrageous claim that he was born during World War Two, which would make him over seventy years old. Absurd, of course, because he looked not a day over thirty. Jessup had to admit, however, that during the last eleven years of living with him, Kenji had not aged, not a day.
To prove their assertion, they showed an elderly Asian patient who they claimed had been treated moments before. The old man looked wrinkled and sickly. A clock on the bottom corner of the screen showed the passage of time. He went from looking ninety years old to a healthy forty years old in five hours, and with the aid of time-lapse photography, those hours sped by in three minutes.
Then came the kicker. Consuela announced they would not share their research findings with anyone until every gun, bullet, bomb, tank, battleship, and nuclear warhead had been destroyed. “When the world is wholly disarmed, when there are no armies, when war and mass killing are no longer possible, then we will end disease and aging. Everyone will live for several thousand years. Nobody will suffer old age.”
On screen, Kenji added, “We can wait centuries for you to de-arm. You, unfortunately, have little time if you wish to live.” He smiled, and the screen went dark.
“Oh shit,” Jessup mumbled.
“Spot-on, Mr. Connors,” Declan said. “You Americans have such clever slang.”
Diane closed her laptop. “Consuela posted this video on YouTube this morning at 6:00 a.m. Eastern time. Because of Consuela’s considerable fame and reputation as an exemplary scientist, nobody is doubting its authenticity. It scored a hundred and sixty million hits before YouTube crashed. The world is going crazy over it.”
“You see, old boy,” Declan said, “Consuela disappeared after she made that post. We want to tether Kenji before he vanishes as well. They’re hiding because they’re in severe peril.”
Jessup grabbed the champagne bottle, pressed it to his lips, and upended it. He emptied the bottle and wiped his mouth on his shirtsleeve.
“You’re not as simple as you would have us think, Mr. Connors,” Declan said. “You see the gravity of this situation. They’ve engineered a formula worth several trillion dollars, over time, perhaps a hundred trillion. Everybody on the planet will pursue them—every government, every drug company, every bounty hunter. No telling what will happen if the KGB or the CIA get to them first. I have the resources to protect them. I can safeguard them and the formula, but we need to find them in a hurry.”
Jessup’s head spun from the champagne.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Palm Springs Pride

One of the largest events in Palm Springs is the annual Pride Weekend, which includes a two-hour parade on Sunday. It is a wonderful event, and more people come each year to see and participate. This year, an estimated 70,000 people came into town for the event. An out of town friend asked me why we have Pride in November instead of June, like the rest of the country. It’s simple, in June the temperatures in the desert are over a hundred and ten degrees. 







Monday, November 5, 2018

Halloween PS

This is a little late in posting, but a few nice pictures of my husband and some close friends at halloween.


 My husband and I. The bone saw makes his costume, and I went as #17.




 Me with my good friend, Ben.



Best dressed.

Monday, October 29, 2018

A short, short Halloween Story

Nothing but Sunlight
It took place on Saturday, in the heat of the afternoon. There was a thin overcast of clouds, and a hundred or so people formed a procession behind the coffin. 
My perceptions kept changing. One minute I stood with the crowd, the next I seemed to float above it all looking down in a feverish daze. Friends and relatives turned up whom I hadn’t seen since my primary school days. I watched them with surprise as they gathered, and wondered at the depths of their sorrow as the lines began to form. 
There were half-draped flags and black banners. There was a hired drum corps with crepe-draped drums. There was a band of twenty instruments. There were no cars and very few flowers. 
It began as a slow procession and the band played sad, blues tunes. And when the band was silent the drum corps beat the time on drums with muffled heads. Up and down the street people looked out of their apartment windows, men stood on the sidewalks with boys on their shoulders, and men came out of barbershops with lathered faces, their neckcloths hanging. I marched in front of the coffin and procession, often looking back and wondering if all these people were really my friends or were they drawn by the music and the spectacle?
Directly behind me, a cheap brown coffin moved upon the shoulders of my friends. They bore it high and they bore it proudly and there was an angry sadness in their eyes. The coffin wound its way slowly, above the bowed heads, to the cemetery at the edge of town. The stead rolling of the drums grew louder, and all other sounds were suspended in silence. They set the coffin beside an open grave and people gathered around. There were tears and muffled sobs and many hard, red eyes.
Over the grave site a silence spread. Then in the band a single horn fumbled for a key and took up the air. Then a masculine voice arose in song, wavering, pursuing the rise and fall of the horn. And for a few bars the pure tone of the horn and the husky baritone sang a duet in the hot heavy silence.
As the song ended, the coffin began its descent into the pit. It lowered at the same rate I ascended. I floated over the crowd, and I could see each sun-swept face but couldn’t remember not one name. These had been by closest friends, my family, and yet they were becoming strangers. They stood and they listened to a preacher who spoke at the head of the pit, bible in hand, head raised to the heavens, as if he could see me up there. And then I couldn’t remember my own name. 
I suddenly grew angry, and I wanted to shout at them, “Go home. I’m inside the box and that’s the end and there’ll be no encore. There’ll be no miracles, no one rising from the grave. Get out of the sun and have yourselves a cold brew. Forget my name as I have done.” But I had no voice, and if I had, they couldn’t have heard it coming from the box.
But then I got a wild idea, and with all the willpower left in my being, I lifted both my hands inside that coffin and pounded like hell on the lid. Shock silenced the preacher, eyeballs bugged out, and everyone stood as still as if they all had rigor mortis. 
And then I started to wane until I was nothing but sunlight beating down.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

A Lovely Poem by Voltaire

While reading a volume of The Story of Civilization by Durant, I’ve spent the last week reading about the life of Voltaire. I came across a lovely poem he wrote to his best friend Lefèvre de Genonville, and Voltaire’s mistress Suzanne de Livry, who fell into each other’s arms shortly after Voltaire was imprisoned in the Bastille. As you can see, he was quite willing to forgive.

He remembers you, and the lovely Egeria (Suzanne), 
In the fair days of our life, 
When we loved one another, all three. 
Reason, folly, love, the enchantment of tender errors, 
All bound our three hearts in one.
How happy we were then!
Even poverty, that sad companion of happy days, 
Could not poison the stream of our joy. 
Young, gay, content, without care, 
Without a thought for the future, 
Limiting all our desires to our present delights—
What need had we of useless abundance?
We had something far greater; we had happiness. 





Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Volume vs. Quality

Several days ago I exchanged emails with a writer I both like and admire. He talked about a fellow writer who he claims told him, “I’m not interesting in improving my craft. I’m only interested in churning out stories.”

This statement has stuck in my head, nagging me to the point of being annoying. I’ve read three novels from the writer who made that statement, and I feel there is ample room for improvement, even if he doesn’t. I felt after finishing each of his stories that they were creative and engaging, yet somewhat disappointing. I felt that had the author spent another four or five months refining the plot and the story structure, and polishing the prose, they would have been awesome reads, rather than being merely entertaining ones.

Please don’t mistake my meaning; I’m not suggesting that I am a better writer. I have my own issues I struggle with. And I’m sure that he sells many more books than I do. What I’m suggesting is that writing, for me, is a craft where one is always striving for perfection, always experimenting and learning more, delving deeper into the human experience and finding fresh ways to express ideas. Writing, for me, is like tennis. Even the top players spend more time on the practice courts than they do playing opponents. They never stop trying to improve.

Admittedly, this philosophy of striving for purity rather than merely for more carries into every aspect of my life. It’s an attitude I’ve learned through thirty years of practicing Buddhism. I am constantly trying to refine whatever I’m doing, and I find great pleasure in that. I look at life as art that is never finished, never perfect. 

It’s often a downer never quite being satisfied with one’s work. It is enough compensation, however, when I look at the body of my work, and realize that I’m slowly improving my craft. That, to me, is the most important goal.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Dharma of Writing

This cartoon may not seem all that funny, but it is a lesson I need to keep reminding myself of, so I keep in on my desktop.

You see, when I started writing, it was all about me. I wanted to be a good writer. Then I became really egocentric and wanted to be a great writer. It took a few years before my Buddhist training kicked in and I understood my error.

Writing stories is not about me becoming anything! It is about crafting the best stories possible. The focus is on the stories, the characters, and the craft of writing. The focus is on the day-to-day process of creating, which becomes a form of meditation.

That process, that meditation, is not about becoming a better, wiser, holier person. It’s not about becoming anything. It is all about the joy in experiencing the process.

So every once in a while I need a little nudge to help me focus on simply writing stories, without worrying about how good I am.

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Desiderata by Max Erhmann

These words have given me great inner strength and peace since the first time I read them. Now, more than thirty years later, they still resonate with me for their simple meaning yet profound message which they deliver.

 Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.


Strive to be happy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Was Einstein a Buddhist?





Albert Einstein said:

A human being is part of a whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

This idea of freeing ourselves from our limited self-point-of-view and embracing the whole of nature is the cornerstone of Buddhism, at least as I understand it.

Buddhism teaches that if we observe the law of karma and awaken in ourselves the good heart of love and compassion for all things living, if we purify our mindstream and gradually awaken the wisdom of the nature of our mind through this compassion, then we can become a truly human being which is connected to all that is, and ultimately become enlightened.

Thank you for your insights, Albert.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

★★★★★ Author Edward C. Patterson reviews Surviving Immortality

Surviving Immortality by Alan Chin
Edward C. Patterson, Reviewer

★★★★★
Powerfully fast-moving with now-relevancy
I know I can rely on a good read whenever I open a book by Alan Chin; and Surviving Immortalityis no exception, except it isexceptional. With a believable spark, Mr. Chin presents us with a world devouring itself when promise has given it its greatest loss for hope. All the inchoate faults of humanity, ready today to strike our civilization to the core, leeches out when confronted by a mind shattering development and a simple, lethal condition. Surviving Immortality is masterfully rendered into a work long lingering after the last pages.
The characters are complex, each with their own demon, but honest to their convictions; so much so, there are no heroes, and those who appear villainous can be redeemed by their good intentions. The main thread of the story his told through Matt Reece’s point of view, although all the characters get their turn; but it is Matt’s intense purity, a purity despoiled by circumstances, which unfolds like a night flower in moonlight. Alan Chin crafts an action adventure and psychological political philosophical tale, if there could be such a genre, keeping the pages turning until those pages disappear and time is lost. The elements in the work, and those effecting Matt Reece, are all about us today just waiting for the spark to ignite them. Mr. Chin strikes that spark.
I am a fan of Alan Chin’s other works, but this one combines all the signature touches of them all — ranch life, storms at sea, tropical islands, police procedural, Buddhism, sexuality and a lust for travel. He even includes doffs to his latest wanderlust — Machu Picchu. The world he presents is hisworld as much as ourworld. The arguments are current ones, and I’ll not spoil your read by mentioning them, but whatever opinions you have on those topics, Surviving Immortalitywill not fail to engage you, even if you wind up talking to your night light at midnight in bed. 
Needless to say (but I will say it), I highly recommend this book if you enjoy a powerful fast-moving work with now-relevancy from a major author who contributes to our contemporary literary legacy.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Gay Authors/Books that Inspire Me: Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

In autumn 1943, the unnamed narrator (a gay writer, so we assume it’s Capote himself) befriends Holly Golightly. The two are tenants in a brownstone apartment in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Holly (age 18–19) is a country girl turned New York café society girl. As such, she has no job and lives by socializing with wealthy men, who take her to clubs and restaurants, and give her money and expensive presents; she hopes to marry one of them. According to Capote, Golightly is not a prostitute but an "American geisha”. 

Holly likes to shock people with carefully selected tidbits from her personal life or her outspoken viewpoints on various topics (patterned after Christopher Isherwood’s Sally Bowles in The Berlin Stories). Over the course of a year, she slowly reveals herself to the narrator, who finds himself fascinated by her curious lifestyle.

No writer creates more interesting characters than Capote. He strikes the notes between quirky, uncommon people and their actions and simple touching stories. His characters aren't quite lovable (not people you would want to invite over to dinner with the folks) but they are nevertheless very human and often touching, not off-putting. Breakfast At Tiffany's is much grittier than the rather sanitized Audrey Hepburn-George Peppard film version.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


While reading a volume of The Story of Civilization by Durant, I’ve spent the last few days reading about the life of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, perhaps the greatest poet of the eighteen and nineteenth century. I’ve found most of his writing quoted by Durant as fascinating as any I’ve read. And I also was taken with the following poem:

Let man be noble,
Helpful and good.
For that alone
Marks him off
From all beings
That we know. . . .
Quite unfeeling 
Is Nature:
The sun shines
Upon the base and the good;
And upon the lawbreaker
Gleam, as upon the best,
The moon and the stars.
Winds and streams,
Thunder and hail,
Roar on their way,
And snatch up
And sweep before them
One after another. . . .
By eternal, ironclad
Great laws
Must we all,
Of our existence,
Fulfill the round.
But man alone
Can do the impossible;
He distinguishes,
Chooses, and judges;
He can to the fleeting moment
Give duration.
He alone can
Reward the good,
Punish the bad,
Heal and save.
And to the erring and straying
Bring wise counsel.
Let the noble man
Be helpful and good.