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Monday, October 03, 2005

Fire, Film, Finds & Fact Checking


Our trip to Santa Barbara last week started uneasily. Wednesday fires started along several points in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, San Diego and Ventura counties. I had watched the news closely to determine which route we'd take to avoid smoke and flames on Thursday, our departure day.

Fire season starts about mid year and continues until our first substantial rainfall. If we have had higher average rainfalls throughout the previous year then our fire season has the potential of being disastrous.

The first fire was on the Morongo Indian Reservation just 20-ish miles west of Palm Springs, that was quelled quickly and no trace of it as we passed though the smoke from the second fire burning to the north of Redlands, which incidentally, could be seen from Palm Desert...58 miles away. That fire was not one that had been burning earlier to the south of Redlands earlier that day which had been extinguished.

The third was only 20 miles later. Another fire to the south of the 10. I was hoping there weren't any more surprises.The last fire I could see was the big one, The Topanga Fire, the smoke could be seen for miles. The sun set quickly behind the wall of what looked like black smoke. The sky turned orange-red and cast the most eerie glow upon the cities. As I got closer the ash was floating through the air, almost looking like light falling snow. Santa Ana winds died down that morning making the fire burn much slower (a good thing) but smoke lingered over the area choking all who passed through.

I thought I'd made it past the area, they were saying that the fire was not near the freeway but firefighters were vigilant to keep it that way. I could see the glow in the night sky and wondered if I'd catch a glance. Sure enough as I came over a hill on the 101 freeway at Calabasas, I gasped. It seems as though each driver coming over that hill did the very same thing because traffic came to a near halt. Lines of flames could be seen. It looked like a volcanic planet, it looked like Mustafar. Nearly a dozen people pulled over to gawk and take pictures as flames looked dangerously close. All radio reports indicated that those very flames were two miles away. Two miles! Those flames had to have been at least 20 to 40 feet high to see them so clearly from the freeway. It was chilling...obviously we made it OK.

I managed to see and enjoy Serenity twice over the weekend. Very pleased, very pleased. Obvious allusions to Star Wars here and there. :D

The yearly Planned Parenthood book sale in Santa Barbara took place over the weekend and I managed, as usual, to find a few books to add to the already massive list of 'must reads' and 'most loved' sitting on my shelves.

This time I added:
The Tale of Genji (1935 print - originally written in the Heian period, 11th c. and considered, debatable at best, the worlds first novel) - by Lady Murasaki Shikibu, a lady in the Heian court who knew Genji, and translated by Arthur Waley. Classic Japanese tale of Hikiru Genji a favorite son of the emperor...about his loves, loyalties, friendships, an exile and ultimately a tradition carried on by his grandson which brings the stories full circle. Written for ladies of aristocracy in days past but translates well into modern literature.

The Portable Mark Twain (1946 print of select pieces from Twain) - by Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) excerpt from 'Old Times on the Mississippi' starts: " When I was a boy there was but one permanent ambition among my comrades in our village on the west bank of the Mississippi River. That was to be a steam-boatman" My family had been river-men/pilots of flatboats and steamboats for over 100 years, the last one retiring around 1919. The subject fascinates me and only Twain has managed to catch the profession so perfectly. His accounts of river life are, in my opinion, the best ever written.

Collected Verse of Rudyard Kipling (1914 print) - poems and verse from the author of the Jungle Book. In spite of racial differences in attitudes from Kipling's time (as he voices in his characters) to our own. The works remain enjoyable.

Florence in the Poetry of the Brownings (1907 print) - poems of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning which have to do with the history, scenery and art of Florence, Italy. Lovely.

Oh, yes...Ian McDiarmid is starring in the TV adaptation of diaries from World War II freed by author Simon Garfield, Our Hidden Lives. It will air tonight on BBC4 at 9 PM in the UK. That's right now! ack!
Small interview



Nerf-Herders Anonymous said...

Smugglers Rants

date Posted: Oct 03, 2005 12:20 PM
Ok Leah, here's the inside skinny
>Is this professional journalism?
You tell me what's wrong...

John Williams

Another big "DUH"

The problem here is two-fold.
One, they are clearly thinking of the British classical composer John Williams (in the UK there are a number of high-profile John Williams. The guitarist, the snooker referee, etc)
Two - the Daily Record is a Scottish newspaper...
Another big "DUH"

Nerf-Herders Anonymous said...

Life, the Star Wars Universe and Everything

date Posted: Oct 03, 2005 12:25 PM
exactly. Doesn't that just irk you?