The Fellowship of Language and Culture

Language and culture are organic and intertwined. Lectures, books, and videos will teach vocabulary and stringing together words to form a sentence. But the learner has not learned the language unless she also immerses herself in the culture, […]


Of Wine, Tears, and Folly

In vino veritas my father used to rebut my mother each time she complained about his tipsiness. In wine there is truth. But what is that truth when wine evokes so many emotions. One of my short stories features a character who drank to escape some ineffable truth. For me, it is the ritual of twirling the glass to see the clarity of its content as it makes tight swirls inside the bulbous goblet in your hand. Follow that with raising the glass to your nose. You breathe in deeply the aroma: is it smoky or oaky? A hint of […]


The Ephemeral Nature of Power

Years ago, while vagabonding through Turkey, I stopped in Kusadasi, a city known for good beaches, memorable shopping, carpet browsing, and raki sipping. But my interest to this resort town wasn’t the beaches or the shopping, but its proxity to two ancient sites:  Ephesus and the Temple of Apollo. Although Ephesus, an extremely well-preserved ruins of an ancient city, is a must-visit, it is the Temple of Apollo that jolted me out of my complacent reflections on visiting ancient ruins.  The Temple of Apollo, built around eighth century BC, is a massive graveyard of fallen stones on a sandy desert. […]


The Power and Myth of Facial Hair on Men

Through the ages, men have adorned themselves with facial hair of all sizes and styles—from raggedy long to designer stubble—like women would wear jewelry bought over-the-counter in the neighborhood discount store or at Tiffany’s in any Fifth Avenue around the world. Are facial hair for men an instrument of selfhood and vanity as much jewelry is for women? The Myth of Facial Hair People have attributed magical powers to hairs since mythical times. We see that in Samson, who was indestructible until Delilah cut his hair. That hair on men possesses special power is a curious myth that continues to […]

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What Poetry Can Do for You

Poetry does not exist. Music does not exist. What? You scream, “I listen to music every day.” True. But, can you touch poetry? Can you touch music? No. They touch you the moment you make time for them because these art forms exist only in time. Without you making the time for poetry and music, they are just notes and words in print. For these art forms to exist, you must bring them to life by taking the time to listen to them. Without you making the time for poetry and music, they are just notes and words in print. The forest and […]


The Tree in the Schoolyard

One by one or in groups, they came in strolling, strutting, shuffling, and meandering to their seats inside the bungalow. Every hour on the hour Mrs. Foster stood outside the classroom for six minutes, door opened, greeting her students in for their fifty-four-minute required lesson in English. The sun was white hot over the concrete school yard, as it was over the San Bernardino Mountains to the east, barely visible through a summer haze that rose from steaming asphalt pavements and industrial fumes. The sun was white hot, too, over the Santa Monica Mountains to the north, where the Hollywood […]


Political Correctness Gone Amuk–Sensitivity Is a Two-Way Street

Be careful of what you say. The word police are everywhere. They’re not a corps of an established budgeted department, with well-defined guidelines under which to conduct their policing. That would be easy to live with as we would know the rules. Who sets the rules? We, the people advocate free speech, human rights, animal rights, rights of the disabled, gay/lesbian marriages, religious tolerance, ethnic tolerance, are the self-appointed police operate under the fear of committing an offense against the tide of political correctness, whose standards change with each phase of the moon. Operating without a governing body, we have […]


The Many Flavors of San Sebastian

It’s old. It’s new. It’s rugged. It’s gentle. It’s shabby and chic, and it’s all deliciously delightful. It is San Sebastian, in the autonomous Basque region of Spain and where Basque, the oldest language in Europe, is still spoken. I arrived tired at night, after a full day’s drive across the south of France on the Trans-European Motorway, and drove directly into one of the city’s underground parking lot, where I parked the car for $25.00 a day, never to retrieve it until I was ready to leave. This is not a city for cars. Upon exiting the garage, I […]


Naked Shelters

Benjamin dialed Lisa’s number and let it ring and ring. He let his head fall against the armrest. “I wonder what she’s up to tonight.” The palm of his hand once again rubbed his forehead and stopped on his eyes as if to shield them from a light. But it was dark. […]


Breaking Away

Her mother’s words echoed in her head like a voice in a cave. “You’re good for nothing . . . , nothiinn . . . , thiinn . . . .” Her fingers curled into a tight fist, teeth clenched inside a locked jaw. She wanted to cry, to tell her, “That’s not true.” Instead she fronted a stone face that fought hard to suppress tears and ran to her room. A three-by-two-foot aquarium with three fish in it sat on top of Melinda’s commode, next to the television. It had three fish in it—an angelfish, a rainbow fish, and […]