Marine's Book and Film on Early Days of Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan Discussed at Library

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A free series that marries books, films and discussion about them kicks off Saturday at Santa Ana Public Library with a Marine's account of the early days in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The author's hand-held video journal from that time will be shown later in the month.

The Blue Cascade is First Lt. Mike Scotti's raw, hard-hitting memoir from the early 2000s, when he participated in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He shares what it was like from him and his fellow Marines serving in those wars.

Limited copies of The Blue Cascade will be available at the library for card holders, or you can buy a copy at the bookstore or through Amazon.

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The Morning News is Exciting: Living & Dying For Lack of What is Found There

Categories: OC Bookly

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"Life is valuable - when completed by the imagination. And then only." - William Carlos Williams. The failure of imagination, by which we mean the failure to invite it in, celebrate it, listen closely to its urgings and provocations might be easiest to locate this past week in the historical revisionism over Nixon's resignation 40 years ago, in the nostalgia for collective grief, as if grief were the only lesson available from the resignation of Tricky Dick, not joy, say, or schadenfreuede or a good, healthy dose of I-told-you-so-ism. My own sense of remove from the organized funeral march of the status quo makes me a happy outlier, I think they call it, instead of just a liar, like RN. Nixon was a crook. He was a liar. It makes me happy just to point that out. One of my newest if dumbest conclusions is that one reason poetry is not more esteemed, talked about, celebrated, why people don't, sadly, carry small volumes around with them to the doctor's office or farmers' market or workplace is that it is political ("political"), and not really all that difficult or obscure or hard to understand, not any more or less than is, say, the Nixon story, wrapped and re-wrapped so many times around the arthritic finger of Received Wisdom as to make it impossible to point at anybody.

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Rob Boston Pushes Religious Freedom Book and Philosophy in Irvine Saturday Afternoon

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Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Rob Boston argues religious freedom is an individual right.
The Supreme Court's recent Hobby Lobby ruling notwithstanding, the religious freedom guaranteed in the First Amendment does not give organizations and businesses license to discriminate against and control others, argues an author speaking in Irvine Saturday afternoon.

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Guide Claims to Offer Tips on How to Cut Your Time in Disneyland Lines by Four Hours

Categories: Dishney, OC Bookly

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Photo by Austen Risolvato/OC Weekly
Authors of an unofficial guide offer their spin on cutting your time in Disneyland lines.

The authors of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2015 claim that within the pages are "revolutionary, field-tested touring plans that can save four hours of waiting in line in a single day."

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Mark LeVine, Provocative UC Irvine Professor, Proposes "Parallel" Israeli-Palestinian States

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University of California Press

Longtime readers will remember Mark LeVine from stories he wrote and stories written about him in OC Weekly, on topics ranging from spring breaking in Falluja and tracking underground rock music in the Middle East to surviving The O-Reilly Factor and being named one of the 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America.

Now the UC Irvine history professor may have embarked on his most ambitious project yet: a solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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What I'm Reading and Other Random Things About Me Too

Categories: OC Bookly

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Not that anybody has asked lately (and why not, huh?) but it's summer, presumably a time which, with longer days, vacation (if you're lucky), time off from school or teaching or just plain stubborn insistence on some kind of autonomy you will want to exercise the imagination and engage in, not just the summer reading list-making game but, like this tough-looking literary customer, demand that people actually read a book at the beach, say, and not Decision Points by some ex-president or other which, I kid you not, I saw a guy straight out of central casting reading, not reading, reading very slowly on the sand in Laguna, in front of the upscale if silly-named Montage Hotel. I assumed he was a paying guest. I was an interloper, a citizen, a happy low-end beneficiary of Gov. Jerry Brown's first term and the California Coastal Commission's commitment to prohibiting private beaches and insisting that people read good, smart fiction and nonfiction and not made-up revisionist nonsense or at least be challenged when they appear to be reading same. Okay, I made that last part up, and resisted asking the fellow, well, what exactly? And where to start? Sheesh. There's an easy joke there, and maybe a smarter one, too. I'll bet Jerry Stahl, real writer, and lately sitting in for David Feldman at KPFK would've known what to do. 

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Songs of an OC Son: Remembering, Celebrating Robert Peters (1924-2014)

Categories: OC Bookly

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The death last week of poet and critic, memoirist, UC Irvine professor and sometime performance artist Robert Peters offers yet another moment of confounding if useless juxtapositions. The physically strong, robust specimen of all-American Midwestern vigor, the robust body and mind, the wit and hearty affections - for words, for people - had diminished, it seemed, if to perhaps all but Bob himself. He was deaf, his body falling apart yet Bob Peters seemed always...That's it.  Always, as in everpresent. He complained, gently, funnily, about his health in a poetic rant celebrating (!) his 84th brithday, but the mind and creative engagement persisted. My own sentence fragment, offered lamely, and in its complete incompleteness and open-ended appreciation is an impossible assessment, trying to be content with what stands as a very full life, as they say. Peters published dozens of books of poetry, and famously compiled his own take on contemporary poets in his multi-volume The Great American Bake-Off series, dressed up as Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria, taught grads and undergrads Victorian lit and more at UCI, lived as an openly and proudly gay man with his adoring spouse the poet and writer Paul Trachtenberg in, of all places, a modest tract home in Huntington Beach, Orange County, California, USA where, upon entering their home a visitor would immediately note and appreciate a complete copy of the Oxford English Dictionary and on a nearby wall a poster of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, dig it.

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Physican, Heal Thyself (or Dont'!): Kem Nunn's Chance

Categories: OC Bookly

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Chance means opportunity, too, as in the great one I had to interview a favorite author, Kem Nunn, one morning before he headed off to work writing scripts for Sons of Anarchy, his day job lately when not writing novels about the other kind of chance. Nunn's latest novel further establishes, as they say, his reputation as a prose stylist whose both sly and somehow genuine embrace of tough-guy existentialism, darkness, nature, a celebratory and yet cautiously discontented delight in details and surprise seems always to have layers and resonance. He produces great lines, to remind you that nothing is for keeps, even as you are convinced of the verity of place and experience. Yes, he gets tagged with the "noir" label, which one hopes is only handy shorthand toward spreading the word about the fiction of a son of Southern California whose previous books have done so much for our chancy region, from Tapping the Source, his classic so-called "surf noir" portrait of both then-dilapidated and sketchy old downtown Huntington Beach and the ghost-towny deserts east of here, with surfers, runaways, drug-gangster bikers and a missing sister detective story and a sympathetic hero who grows up fast. 

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Race to the Bottom of the Middle of Nowhere: Chip Lit & the Promise (Premise) of Commerce as Culture

Categories: OC Bookly

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Is the glass half full or half empty? This among other provocative inanities is a question meant to point us in the direction of some kind of weak contentedness and dumb finality, an assessment of argument by way of attitude ad hominem-style and, yes, offer a real discourse-stopper to boot. Being able to consider two contradictory ideas at once, nicknamed "negative capability," is an exercise of both intellectual vigor and, yes, freedom to think. Now let's turn that glass into a burrito or, as is happening over at the brand-new ad hoc Facebook page "Cultivating Invisibility: Chipotle's Missing Mexicans," the brown bag in which arrives the meal served at Chipotle's restaurant, the wildly successful if culinarily boring dining joint which has stirred that half-full and half-empty glass by way of somehow, inexplicably, not include Mexican or Chicano or Mexican-American or all or any of 'em (see what I did there, friends and amigos?) writers, not one, despite the place being named Chipotle's Mexican Grill, almost if not quite producing actual Mexican cuisine, two out of three words in its name being, well, pretty darn Mexican. 

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In Dreams Awake: Catching up with Springtime, Books and More

Categories: OC Bookly
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I've had occasion to rely, happily, on the guy with the crazy hairdo on top of his wonderful crazy head, memorialized at right. Not to mention Henry David Thoreau's funny beard and radical politics of liberation and ecological wisdom. First, I quoted him to my Composition students, as I did often in the Sociology class I team-taught for many years with people's lawyer and all-around activist-pal Bob Myers.  Indeed, "I am concerned to trace the effects of my allegiance," as should we all.  And, then, I heard myself repeating his perhaps more literary-appropriate but also kinda anarchist quote from "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers" gently arguing that "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake," which has sort of been my experience of appreciating all kinds of challenges and triumphs, terrific writing and writers and comrades in the months of late April, very busy, and May, that favorite revolutionary and flowering and fecund springtime month of garlands and martyrs and dreams and, yes, fresh fava beans and new music and books, books, books, where the dreams are written for those that want to find them.  
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