AMBER ROSE TAMBLYN
at City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco
The Eyes & The Impossible by Dave Eggers
JUSTICE (The Play) by Lauren Gunderson
We Run The Tides by Vendela Vida
Hallway To Cleveland
(We Built This City Video by The Starship)
Cheryl Strayed (WILD)
Leap Of Faith by Queen Noor
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Up Coming Book Reviews:
Listening In The Dark:
Women Reclaiming The Power of Intuition by Amber Tamblyn
The Philosophy of Modern Song by Bob Dylan (12/30)
Children In The Year of Hope by Jonathan Kozol (2/5/24)
Reviews by Uncle John
Author: Dave Eggers
Illustrated by Shawn Harris
Audio Narration by Ethan Hawke
Johannes, a free dog living in a large urban park, narrates this story.
He howls like a coyote and runs at the speed of light.
He is The Eyes, who sees all in the park,
and reports to the elder bison, who are The Keepers of the Equilibrium.
He cannot and will not lie.
Published by KNOPF BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS
McSWEENEY´S Deluxe Wood-Bound Cover
Paperback Available May 14, 2024
Children´s Middle Grade Action & Adventure Book
For Children of All Ages
Review by Uncle John
- Part 1 -
What a great story! What a skillful storyteller Dave Eggers is! What an interesting narrator Johannes the dog is who speaks to us. What magnificent pictures capture our interest as Shawn Harris paints Johannes into the park scenes. The story holds our attention as we view nature in new ways as the critters that surround our life speak their story to us through the eyes of Johannes appointed to be The Eyes by the park bison, the oldest animals here, Freya, Meredith and Samuel, who are the keepers of the Equilibrium. Johannes sees all, and reports to the bison all he sees. They are the arbiters here for all the critters that live in this park.
This urban park by the sea is home to many critters, including dogs, bison, squirrels, birds, gulls and pelicans, starlings, raccoons, foxes, ducks, rats, mice, frogs, turtles, fish, goats, horses, owls, loons, rabbits & deer, and the coyote!
“Ha Ha Hoooo! Ha Ha Hoooo!”
“I am a different breed” Johannes says-
“Ha Ha Hoooo! Ha Ha Hoooo!”
He laughs and makes us laugh.
“When my days changed, not long ago, estimated to be about 200 years ago, it came after a night of a billion stars, siblings to our sun, and I live in the hollow of a million year old tree that died a thousand years ago, but still stands in the middle of the park wrapped in Ivy."
He´s not a time scientist.
“Ha Ha Hoooo! Ha Ha Hoooo!”
"The park is enormous. I´m not a math expert, but I believe it is ten thousand miles along its length and about three thousand along its width.”
Johannes loves to run, moves like a crack of thunder, runs like a rocket, the fastest laser, pulling at the earth and making it turn, like the speed of light, free, fast and bright.
Johannes is aptly named
For the composer gypsy musician Johannes Brahms,
"I am a comet"
And the artist painter Johannes Vermeer
Shawn Harris paints Johannes into different classical landscape paintings;
The astronomer Johannes Kepler
"God is the sun, clouds are her messengers"
& The discoverer inventor Johannes Guttenburg
Inventive narrative, exhuberant, dazzling ingenuity, quick-witted, thrilling adventure, this book is a delightful discovery.
The book is fast-pace, humorous, entertaining, fun, full of excellent observations of a poetic strange and beautiful world that brings us a full spectrum of enjoyment.
I first heard the book listening to Dave Eggers at a book reading at the Book Fair in Berkeley, May 6, 2023. I purchase the book, read it, so I could introduce it to my grandchildren to read. While Dave read, the artist Shawn Harris painted Johannes into a classical landscape painting. His work in this book are awe-inspiring illustrations.
I sit with my grandchildren, Leopold, age 11 and Naomi, age 8 and introduce them to this book by reading from the early chapters and showing them some of the artist´s paintings. They listen attentively, quietly. Leopold gets up to do another project. Naomi asks me if I would read her another book. She picks out “Dr. Wonderful and Her Dog Blast Off To The Moon!”by Lauren Gunderson.
I read it to her cover to cover and I am surprised how much Naomi knew about the moon. A short while later her Auntie Kaela comes over to visit and Naomi picks up “The Eyes & The Impossible” book and she asks Kaela if she wants to see some pictures of a dog named Johannes, with her. They have been doing some art projects together, and Kaela has a website DOGWOOD.dog
Naomi holds the book, and turns to every illustration of Johannes the dog that Shawn Harris had painted into these classical landscapes, with the two of them commenting on each picture.
I´ve listened to the audio tape of the book four times. Dave Eggers is clever, and his work sublime. Ethan Hawke is outstanding as the narrator Johannes. If you seen the trailer for this book you can see the true entertaining value this would have if it were a full animated movie.
The author also has set it up for a possible sequel. What a truly enjoyable story to capture our imagination and interest in reading books!
By Lauren Gunderson
JUSTICE The Musical
adapted from the book by Lauren Gunderson
Music by Bree Lowdermilk
Lyrics by Kait Kerrigan
Directed by Ashley Rodbro
Reviewed by Uncle John
Closing Show 3-12-23 @ The Boyer Theatre, Mill Valley, California
In 1975, I saw something I had never seen before. My wife and I are at an outdoor benefit concert at Kezar stadium in San Francisco. It´s a Woodstock-like atmosphere with over 60,000 people there to see Jefferson Starship, Doobie Brothers, Santana, Joan Baez, Mimi Farina, Neil Young, The Band, the re-emergence of the Grateful Dead who had retired the year before, and surprise special guest Bob Dylan. I walk with my wife, who is pregnant, to the restroom and the line outside the ladies´room is very long. She notices there is no line to the men´s room and heads that way with a line of ladies following her in. I remember the sounds of shock and awe and confusion and then acceptance.
In 1987, I saw a similar sight. I went to the Pope´s Mass at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, where the Beatles played their last concert. I notice a long line of women waiting outside their restroom and one of the sisters says out loud “I´m not missing the Pope´s Mass for this” and she walks across the hall to the men´s room with a line of sisters following her. I go in too as she announces “There´s a little revolution happening here” as the ladies take over the stalls and the men react with shock, awe and confusion, and then acceptance.
The play “Justice” opens in 1993 with a flashback to 1981 when Sandra Day O´Connor becomes the first female Supreme Court Justice. To my awakening surprise we learn that there was no female restroom in the Judges´ chambers and she had to use the public restroom down the hall. A Supreme Court Justice!
In 1993, when the second female Justice is appointed to the be on the nine person Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a champion of gender equity, will have nothing to do with their “potty problem”, the absence of adequate bathrooms in Judges´ chambers for women. “Times have indeed changed” she stated. “To mark my 1993 appointment to the Supreme Court, my colleagues ordered the installation of a women´s bathroom in the Justices´robing room, its size precisely the same as the men´s.”
The setting for this play is simple and useful.
There are only three characters in this play. Yet there are over fifty people in the creative team, design, and production crew, and more than half are women.
Lauren Gunderson is sometimes described as America´s best and most prolific playwright. She is incredibly talented as a writer, innovative, insightful and inspiring, and has an ingenious way with creating dialogue for real life characters that appear in her plays, like Madame Curie, Lord Byron, Isaac Newton, and here, Sandra Day O´Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, the first three female Supreme Court Justices. She knows how to invoke other writers like Shakespeare and Walt Whitman, and her work is always interesting and able to hold an audiences´ attention throughout the plays´presentation.
In this play, the three actresses, all with excellent and powerful voices are perfectly cast here, Karen Murphy as Sandra, Lynda DiVito as Ruth, and Stephanie Prentice as Sonia. The music by Bree Lowdermilk and lyrics by Kait Kerrigan, with her love for language, are an ideal team for this special production.
After the play I went to the restroom here at The Boyer Theatre in Mill Valley, California. There are two restrooms, both are gender neutral, inclusive for all.
Watch the excellent Notorious RBG documentary!
JUSTICE Part 2
Justice has these meanings:
"Justice is the ethical, philosophical idea that people are to be treated impartially, fairly, properly (kindly), and reasonably by the law and by arbiters of the law.
Justice is a legal structure or system designed to judge in a general sense who should be accorded a benefit or burden when the law is applied to a person´s factual circumstances. Laws are to ensure that no harm befalls another, and that, where harm is alleged, a remedial action is taken - both the accuser and the accused receive a morally right consequence merited by their actions.
Justice is a title conferred upon a judge of the U.S. Supreme Court, the federal or state courts of appeal."
The Honorables Justice
Sandra Day O´Connor
Joan Ruth Bader Ginsburg
JUSTICE Part 3
Photo by Kevin Berne
Marin Theatre Company’s “Justice: A New Musical” celebrates the first three women Supreme Court justices.
We Run The Tides by Vendela Vida
Review by Uncle John
WE RUN THE TIDES by Vendela Vida
Published by Harper Collins
The book begins with an epigraph, this quote by author Edith Wharton, and sets up the theme of the book:
dishonesty and deception, truth, transition and clarity.
Why do teenagers lie? Why? In one teenager´s mind “asking for forgiveness is easier than asking for permission.” We grow up out of childhood recognizing some of the lies in our lives, understanding truth from a lie, but children live in a world of great imagination, about things that might be but really aren´t. Most parents lie to their children, often in a protective constructive way. Most parents, I think, are clueless about what goes on in their teenager´s lives. Eulabee, the thirteen year old, shares her story and gives us a look at the inner workings of her mind, and a realistic glimpse of the attention in her family life.
A lie begins with a fib she shares with a neighbor and friend. Eulabee and her friend, Maria Fabiola, go door to door to share the lie with the other neighbors. That evening she is hiding in a closet from her angry and stunned parents and must come to immediate resolve to the situation, sort of a public confession. The book centers on friendships and family told by Eulabee. Her closest friend is Maria Fabiola, and her school friends Faith and Julia. Maria Fabiola garners all of the attention amongst others, partly for her physical attributes and because of her extraverted behavior. She has a unique and contagious laugh. We see Maria Fabiola tell a lie, have her friend Julia parrot her, while Eulabee says No, that did not happen, and Maria Fabiola and Julia share their version of the story with Faith who joins in the falsehood. The next day they are questioned by the school headmaster and the police, but Eulabee sticks to the truth, and the others the false tale. It brings division and separation for Eulabee, and there are other lies, that ultimately bring consequences, and the clarity of truth, resolve.
This book reminds me of Edith Wharton and the way she wrote books. This book ´s author writes about San Francisco, like Edith Wharton presented New York Society, both authors describing their literary time frame, with cultural attention to details about the setting and the neighborhoods we visit in our mind through a book, as we journey with our eyes or ears into this wonderful unfolding story about a San Francisco girl, Eulabee, a story about teenagers and the fragile friendships that form their lives, a wonderful story about families and neighborhoods. The girls know the streets they walk and run, they know the houses and who lives in them. The girls know where the boys live. They know the long swing where China Kantner lives. She´s the same age as these girls, and make this story seem real and true.
Eulabee goes to an all girls school and lives in a prestigious Presidio neighborhood. We get a very accurate picture of San Francisco in the early eighties, and the contrast thirty five years later. Vendela is deliberate, like Edith Wharton, in her descriptions and settings, her visual memories retold in the way she makes this book witty and amusing. There are difficult & uncomfortable moments too, true to the changes in all teenagers lives.
Vendela Vida started out to write a nonfiction book but quickly turned it into a work of fiction that gives the author broader liberty, a chance to reminisce this nostalgic look at San Francisco, around teenagers, and lying. Eulabee is very honest about her lies, and how others lie, how it has changed her life, and ultimately, what she´s learned from it. This book is important and timely because we live in an age where lies affect us when someone of influence can call LIES TRUTH to deceive and confuse others who believe it.
Vendela Vida has a literary license and her love for literature comes through in this story. Her real talent as a writer is the way she ends each chapter as a challenge, motivation, inspiration to continue reading. I remember finding books in the library like that, where the way each chapter ends compels you to never want to put it down. This book reads like a movie and hopefully might become one.
We built this city
We walk the streets
We climb the hills
We look for stars
We run the tides
"The clarity of truth is invigorating."
Eulabe shares: "two lessons that reigned over my childhood:
1. Hard work conquers all obstacles.
2. Good triumphs over evil (which is always lurking)."
The author knows what it´s like to be that age, growing up in San Francisco, and being around kids that age that she writes about. This book is a true nostalgic look at life that many people can identify with. It brings back pleasant memories to me of becoming a teenager, and the recollections of living in San Francisco during the 1984-85 timeline of this story, and I can relate to all of what the author describes in stupendous detail.
The book brings reflections in my mind, and I recall the day I spent with my thirteen year old niece visiting from New York. I bring her to a bookstore in San Franciso, and on that day, Patti Smith, poet, musician, songwriter, author and artist, is is in the store promoting her poetry book “Babel”. It is a special moment when we meet her because Bob Dylan´s “Simple Twist Of Fate” is playing on the bookstore´s loudspeakers. Lisa, my niece, captures her attention and she asks how old she is. Patti tells her “You´re the same age my daughter is. I had to give her up at birth. Now I´m searching for her. I´d like to see her again,” she says, resigned. "It´s not that I didn´t love her, because I do. It´s something I had to do then. It´s good to see what a girl your age looks like, Lisa. I´m going to give you a copy of my book “Babel”. There´s a poem in there about my daughter Jenny that I´d like you to read", she says, and makes the sign of the cross for her.
The author inspires us about books and authors, and provokes an interest in reading
The Unbearable Lightness Of Being by Milan Kundera
The House Of Mirth & The Age Of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
I´m not going to list them here, but there are many references to writers and their books.
Humor and Laughter
This book has its funny moments, and it makes me smile and laugh each time I read it.
What´s important to these young teenage girls?
Outfits & shopping might change style over time but their interest never fades.
This book reads like a diary. Eulabee records her interactions with her three closest friends in eighth grade. When she is shunned by her friends, they are still her best friends in her mind, and she holds their friendship together over time. Maria Fabiola, the center of everyone´s attention, has long black perfect hair, ethereal (light green) eyes, full lips. She´s attractive, and noticed, with bracelets cascading up and down her arm like a "waterfall of notes", and she is humorous, and known for her laugh, high-pitched and delicate, and her laughter contagious.
Julia has shoulder length light brown hair, cobalt (not "blue") eyes and a stepsister, Gentle.
Faith has long red hair, sometimes makes her look like Pippi Longstocking, other days she looks like Anne of Green Gables. She is special and adopted, named after the child who passed away, and she really identifies with her.
Keith Is Eulabee´s first boyfriend.
Vendela Vida understands the dynamic importance to show how family helps shape our lives. Eulabee has a great relationship with her parents, and sister, Svea. Her mom is from Sweden, a culture and language her sister is more interested in than Eulabee. Her mom belongs to a Swedish sewing group, The Stitch ´n Bitch, that becomes a club of complainers. It is a good outlet for them to express themselves in a social gathering. And there are many interesting stories within stories that happen here in her family life. Eulabee has great interactions with her Dad, who tells her humorous stories. The disappearing Golden Gate Bridge in the fog brings out his playful side. He has an art gallery, south of Market Street. Other families in this book are more broken than this one, but they all play an important role in the teenager´s life.
"Spanish is more beautiful if you hear it."
Eulabee moves to Lisbon, notices all the similarities there to San Francisco, like a twin sister city. She becomes a Portuguese translator. This Euroculture tale is also very interesting. It reminds me of my Portuguese friends in San Francisco, and I´m grateful she shares this extended story with us. Obrigado!
1984 – 1985
There are no cell phones, no social media, and no internet. The San Francisco Civic Library holds a vast amount of information, and reference books and sources for more information. We use the Library Card Catalogue, and one day I could not find what I was looking for, when I notice a locked cage, a room full of stacks of books with no access to them. I inquire and receive special permission to spend an afternoon in this Closed Stack section, with the understanding I could not remove any books from there. I browse the shelves and skim the books, and to my amazement I find what I am looking for.
This book, We Run The Tides, creates a mystery about a missing book on the school bookshelf. And the stories told in this book focus on missing people, and kidnappings, real and made up ones, and their search.
Now we have The Internet and search engines working for us to find even more information. Ironically, there are still some things I cannot find on the Internet.
Thirty-five years later, Eulabee bridges the cusp of change from the transitional eighties to her grown up life as a translator, with a new family and old friends, except for Maria Fabiola, whom they search for but cannot locate her on social media. Eulabee has a chance encounter with her in 2019 in Capri, Italy, that brings the story to its climax, and for Eulabee, there is only the sound of Maria Fabiola ringing in her ears.
Eulabee shares "There are alerts, of course, and warnings, and in Sea Cliff these warnings come in the form of foghorns. The deep bellowing foghorns are the soundtrack to my childhood."
They are thirteen, almost fourteen years old. Eulabee, Maria Fabiola, Julia and Faith: They know the neighborhood. They own the streets. They run the tides. They know how to read the ocean and navigate the slippery rocks from Baker to China Beach, how to ride the promontory between them at low tide, as "the ocean inhales its waves."
Hardback Book Released February 9, 2021
Harper Collins, publisher
Paperback Book Released October 12, 2021
John writes under the pen name Uncle John
Uncle John is a Grandpoppa, poet, teacher, caregiver, songwriter, playwright and writer.
He has reviewed books for Saturday Review magazine and The Los Angeles Times.
The first time I am backstage with the Jerry Garcia Band, I’m sitting at the main round table listening to Jerry Garcia carry on a half dozen lively conversations at the same time. He is astutely following each one and contributes brilliant observations, upbeat, with a good deal of laughter. I finally capture his attention with my eyes and interject a question, "Have you seen the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind?" I ask him, not realizing he had a cameo in the film. He immediately replies, "I´m not answering anymore questions until we find out who you are." There is suddenly silence in the room. And I introduce myself as
"That improves things considerably"
Jerry Garcia responds, lifting his eyebrows with a twinkle, and smiles, and the banter in the room resumes.
HALL WAY TO CLEVELAND
WE BUILT THIS Video
A golden opportunity rings one morning inviting me to participate in a rock Music video the Starship are making at a studio in downtown San Francisco, recording a new song"We built this city".
Over two hundred people show up there, and the director separates us into groups. I am part of the group called the dead ringers, people resembling famous people. They ask me to play “Bob Dylan”, a compliment, and a challenge to act out, not just imitate, who he is. I hang out with beatles manager “Brian Epstein”, “Keith Richards”, and “Stevie Wonder” and "Jewel".
“All the New Yorkers in this corner”, as the director continues to form groups, and over 50 people respond to that call.
“We Built This City”airs over the loudspeakers for the first time, that morning, and then repeats itself throughout the day, until we know the song by heart. It was written by Bernie Taupin for the Starship.
A girl named Jewel stood by dead ringer Brian Epstein’s side. He is a San Francisco hairdresser named Brian. He shares with our group that we are to be part of a video that is a takeoff on “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. They send me out to look for a hat. Part of Bob Dylan’s character is to be different, and unwavering, I try to be just that. I am determined to bring back only a hat that is given to me. What kind of chapeau? A fedora, a derby, a beret, a ski or cowboy hat? A silk top hat? My brother Brian he’s found the perfect hat for him. My doctor told me under the sun to wear a hat. I once worked in a hotel where one night, when Bob Dylan’s band and personnel, and manager check into their rooms after 3 am. they want food but the kitchen is closed, so I let them in to the restaurant´s kitchen to prepare their own. I notice some are wearing yarmulkes, and I wonder if the skullcap would have been the appropriate hat. I return with no hat, a guitar and a long black coat to play my best Johnny Cash version of Bob Dylan.
The band has not yet arrived, and our Captain director, deadhead Patrick Shanahan, asks who are the musicians in the crowd, and "Bob", “Stevie” and “Keith” raise our hands and I am tabbed to entertain them. Patrick, holding a bullhorn for a mike, adds a belly dancer that puts me at ease as the crowd focuses on her. I chose a poetic rendition of Dylan’s song, “Don’t Fall Apart On Me Tonight”, sounding more like Aaron Neville’s “Grand Tour” version. The dancer relaxes me and adds a touch of burlesque to the event. I always love to play Dylan songs because they speak from the heart and spirit, emotionally are soulfully focused, and in tune with the times. I don´t want to imitate him, just interpret him through his songs. When the Captain asks how many people in the room are musically talented, to my surprise there are only three. Fitting enough, look-alike “Keith Richards”, who plays guitar that sounds like Garcia, and dead ringer “Stevie Wonder”, adds a pedal steel synthesizer feel, as we collaborate on a New Riders of the Purple Sage’s version of “Honky Tonk Woman”. We close our short set with Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up in Blue”.
I am in the hallway with the only man wearing a tie, and I ask him why. To distinguish himself, he says, for he is the producer who owns the studio.
I meet China Kantner, who is fourteen and in this video, and we talk about her Dad, musician Paul Kantner, and how I met him while seeing the same acupuncturist.
The crowd of extras is reduced to China and her friends, and the dead ringer group when the band arrives. Her mom, Grace Slick, comes by and strums a few notes on my guitar. I have met Grace twice now, once at an art gallery in Sausalito, and grateful to hang with her the artist. I get to sit and talk with Craig Chaquico who shares with me a story of his high school days in Sacramento where he quickly developed his talent as a skillful guitar player who grew up in a musical family.
We pose in lines while I look out and they look up!
and I pop up, looking ahead, next to ringer Marilyn Monroe.
We hide behind the stage, while the band, led by Mickey Thomas on vocals, and Craig Chaquico on guitar, Drummer Donny Baldwin and versatile musician Pete Sears queue up. I lead our group onto the stage, and some of us climb the towers while we dance with the band, while Grace and Mickey sing the song, “We Built This City”.
Bruce Hornsby once tried inviting the audience on stage with him at the Paramount in New York City. Now we know why bands don’t do this.
Knee deep in the hoopla, China and her clique run the streets and turn the tides. We build this video in seventeen hours, finishing with a banquet like a bouquet, a great rock 'n roll day.
BOB DYLAN´S NEXT BOOK :
THE PHILOSOPHY OF MODERN SONG
from Bob Dylan´s The Philosophy of Modern Song "Volare"
Illustration from UK TV series SUPERCAR by AP films/Shutterstock
WILD: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail
"Writing is hard for all of us", says Cheryl Strayed, when I met her last June. A poor girl overcomes poverty with rich words. At a time in her life when she thought she had lost everything, after the death of her mom and the end of her marriage, Cheryl decided to hike the Pacific Coast Trail from the Mojave desert north through California and Oregon to Washington. It took four years to plan and act on it. She carries the weight of all she needs in a back pack she appropriately names "Monster", an analogy to all the clutter in all our lives. She is prepared, and learns all the lessons needed to overcome every obstacle along the way. She is organized. She writes about the interconnecting interpersonal relationships that affects her life reflecting on her time spent in solace among the beauty of the wild of nature walking in deep thought with the goal of completing her quest pushing her forward each day. What she writes is with impeccable integrity. She is a premier memoirist with great instincts and awareness skills. In her very long walk, she had to endure many hardships amidst amazing views. She prayed when she didn't know God. She got to witness the virgin wilderness of flowers, walking in the same steps as John Muir, who wrote in his book "The Mountains Of California" in 1894, "When California was wild, it was one sweet bee-garden throughout its entire length, north and south, and all the way across from the snowy Sierra to the ocean." The whole experience changes her and transforms her life. "Writing will heal you", she shares. And reading her book opens the possibility of finding our own potential to find new adventures in the wild of nature.
Cheryl Strayed & Uncle John
I took a writing class with Cheryl Strayed & wrote five true stories in one day, inspired by this author. Quotes are by Cheryl.
"As weird as you are, trust others are just as weird."
"You can win people over better with love, kindness, generosity, light & goodness rather than hate. Lose yourself in the questions & find the answers through your writing. You put yourself into your writing & it changes you. Writing will heal you."
"Write about finding yourself doing something you thought you could never do."
"Write about animated objects or the ordinary miraculous."
"Writing is hard for every last one of us. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They simply dig!"
"The deeper you go, the truer it gets."
"And who knows but that you have come to a royal position for such a time as this?"
Esther 4: 14
Her Royal Highness, Queen Noor of Jordan, gives a speech at a luncheon in San Francisco. The press ignores her speech but covers her entrance. The queen arrives in the hallway at the table to the banquet room next door, where the mayor of San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom, is speaking at a luncheon for the Jewish Vocational Service. The media quotes the mayor. He states the hotels' contractual dispute is making event hopping simpler, as events are more likely to take place side by side.
I am assigned a seat at Table 72. "That table doesn't exist," I am informed, so I'm seated at a table up front instead. I asked if I could record the queen's speech. "Definitely not" I'm told. She is an eloquent, interesting speaker. She is American-born, active politically in college, and graduated from Princeton University with a degree in architecture and urban planning. Her Dad worked in aviation, and for President Kennedy's administration. She spoke about women in Jordan, their training in science and technology, their modesty. She shares a romantic moment she had with her husband, the Arab monarch, in an aircraft hovering over the Middle East, under the stars, in a peaceful glance: "Look, here's Jordan, over there she describes seven other Middle Eastern countries presenting a hopeful portrait. "And there," she says, "the holy city, Jerusalem, the three major theocratic faiths share." She addresses her husband's role in history, his work for peace, and her many projects. She wakes our reality about our perceptions of the Muslim people, and our bond with our common ancestor of faith, Abraham. She speaks of one golden rule embraced by the three theocratic beliefs: "treat others as you want to be treated," quoting from the Torah, and Jesus, from his sermon on the Mount, and Muhammad.
She has a reception afterwards where I am able to have an audience with her. "No pictures, and she doesn't want to talk to the media," her people inform us at the door. She shares that when she would give a speech on some of the same interests she is covering now, and she is here today in support of the National Kidney Foundation, educating and informing people about kidney disease and what they can do to help; Her Majesty, Queen Noor, would give a public address that the media would cover, and all they would report about is her hair, what dress she is wearing, her accessories, the flower arrangements, the color of the curtain behind her, her evening gown, but nothing of the substance she is trying to communicate. Then they would write about her shopping, and meeting celebrities, and parties, and they have a fairy tale notion of what being a queen is, she shares. Her aspirations growing up were not for royalty, but rather serving in the Peace Corps, and she ended up with an unexpected life instead.
She is tall, slender, fit and youthful. She is sitting on a table, full of grace, her head poised and imperial, and she is wearing a beautiful spring dress, with flowers. She is humble and intelligent, with insightful wisdom. When I approach her, I ask her permission to ask a personal question about her husband, and she indulges me, and informs me the story I heard is not true; "but I will tell you this," she says, "the king had great instincts". I ask her another question. "I didn't record my speech today," she tells me. "No one did," and she turns to her aides for confirmation. She challenges me to read her book "LEAP OF FAITH", which contains her message. "You'll find the answer to your question there." One of her aides gives me special permission to take pictures.
Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan
A Novel by
The Red Tent
Review by Uncle John
Anita Diamant gives us this wonderful narrative. This is told in the first person by Dinah from the Bible. This is her story. She is not just a footnote in the Bible but an important bridge between God and man. Dinah is born to Leah, her last child and Jacob’s first daughter and eleventh child. People familiar with the Genesis story know who Jacob and Rachel and Leah and Joseph are, but are not familiar with Dinah’s story told so eloquently here, true to her Biblical character. Unlike the "Noah" movie, The Lifetime TV series recently presenting “The Red Tent” stays true to the Biblical narrative. Anita’s book is called a novel because she uses the original narrative, fills in the blanks and unfolds the continuing story in logical sequence. She takes few liberties that are different from the Bible’s version, like calling Issa & Tali twins, but Naphtali was birthed by Bilhah and Issachar by Leah. Tali’s name means “my struggle” which referred specifically to a struggle between sisters Rachel and Leah because Rachel could not bear any children. Rachel prayed in vain as Leah bore Jacob seven children. When Dinah was born, the Bible says “God remembered Rachel” and opened her womb and she became pregnant with Joseph, a bridge to destiny. Dinah and Joseph were close in age, and as she had no sisters, she found much in common with him who was different from her other brothers.
One of the important themes of this book is forgiveness, the key to every door of understanding. The stubbornness of their hardened hearts is what kept them repeatedly from opening this door and the consequences of their attitudes and actions unfolded the drama in their lives.
In the ancient Hebrew the Bible was written in, tent is “a tabernacle, a covering, and dwelling place”. Red in Hebrew can mean rosy, or “chaklîyl” as Jacob used the word in a blessing to Judah, one of Dinah’s blood brothers, and means “darkly flashing eyes, in a good sense, brilliant as stimulated by wine”. It can also refer to the blood connection here, blood relatives gathering in the female tent where menstruation and birthing took place, blood here being the color of life. It was the place where only women gather, to talk about first love or breast feeding, to sing songs together and tell stories to one another. It shows the importance of all four mothers of Jacob’s children, Leah, Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah, and the role they played in their children's destiny.
Chapter 34 in Genesis is a violent recount of Biblical characters centered around Dinah and the consequence of her actions of not following family traditions. This was a time and age where family and tribal cultures made all the rules. This was before God gave the commandments to Moses, like forbidding the worship of idols and killing for revenge. To understand this chapter in the Bible, that some call “rape” and use the word “harlot”, is to grasp the real intended meaning of the words used, and here we look at the original Hebrew. The use of the word “defiled” to describe Shechem’s actions is different in the Hebrew in verse 2, ânâb, which means “to humble one self, ravish, to sing or speak by mistake, weaken, submitting, exercise with force or gentleness”, than the word Jacob and his sons use as “defiled” translated as ţâmę and means “to be contaminated, polluted and made utterly unclean”. The Bible also says Shechem loved Dinah and spoke tenderly to her. The king humbled himself by coming to meet Jacob to ask him to give his daughter in marriage to his son, but Dinah did not honor her father by asking for permission to marry the man she loved, and this was her “sin”. Two of her brothers refer to her as being treated like a “whore”, the Hebrew uses the word zânâh which means “to commit idolatry”, to try to justify their trickery in their murderous, vengeful rampage.
People write commentaries on Bible verses and interpret passages in sermons, telling stories as they relate to their lives and others. Anita’s interpretation of Dinah’s life doesn’t detract from any of these passages but adds an emotional element in telling her story, and uses the novel, of many of the same and different characters and events, to unfold the true meaning and quest of Dinah and who she is. In the Hebrew Bible, she is Dîynah and her name means “Justice”.
Uncle John graduated from Christian Life International Bible College in 2001
Photo by John Lund
It´s January 28, and I´m awake at 2 am when I hear this loud whining crying human sound that seemed to come from inside the house, then another sound that is like a growling animal sound, loud, but I´m still focused on the darkness inside, searching for the sound. Then I realize it´s coming from outside, and I open the blinds to look out the front window, and I see a wolf standing at the edge of the sidewalk in front of my door, his long snout angled up, howling at the moon. Wolves are very rare in California, but I know this one resides locally. Sofia, on the other end of the house, is awakened and recognizes the call of the wolf. I listen to the howling like it´s music. Is this a sign? A few years ago there was a mountain lion in the same spot in front of my doorway. It reminds me of Aldo Leopold´s lesson about wolves in "Thinking Like A Mountain" that characterizes ecological thinking. "Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf." Having once believed that the eradication of predators, the wolf and mountain lion, would preserve the deer, but didn´t recognize the imbalance it caused, Aldo transformed his thinking to recognize the wolf with a sentiment of ecological integrity. He understood the nature and mystery of the howl. I listen for several minutes, amazed that the animal does not go away, and the howling is louder than any other animal I´ve heard outside. I ran to my room to get my phone to realize I could take a picture. I looked through the peephole of the door and he´s in the same position howling, and as soon as I open the door, the wolf runs away. I didn´t realize it was January´s Full Wolf Moon until I read Bob Weir´s twitter feed when I got up:
"Welcoming in the first Wolf Moon of 2021! Occurring in Leo, it's said to be the luckiest and most prosperous day of the year. The sun shares its light with the generosity of Jupiter, marking new and bright beginnings..."
The wolf does more than howl to communicate. They whimper and whine, growl and bark, yelp and snarl, smell, about 100 times stronger than our ability , as is their hearing and sight, they are strong with sharp teeth, and they fear humans and tigers, but humans are not their enemies and they will not attack unless provoked or threatened. The wolves can be our brothers, protectors, workers and lovers as their mates and mothers feed their babies with milk.
The wolves come to play, prancing with their fingers, happily and causing others to dance merrily, rump in the air and bushy tail wagging.
January 24, 2024 - Wolves begin mating
January 25, 2024 - Full Wolf Moon
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