Welcome to this month’s weekly edition of the semi-annual Bumbastories Magazine. Today’s magazine features:

Something about the month of February – and we’ll make it short…….

Something blue ………

A stirring report from the Environmental Corner….

Something about Amos Oz: A Book Review……..

An easy Bob Dylan song about an Easy Chair

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Welcome to February, the month of deep philosophical questions. The month where all serious thinkers must pause and ask: “Hey, how come February is shorter than the other months? Why February? Why not August or November? And how come sometimes it’s 29 days? Because usually, like most of the time, it’s 28? Either way, February is definitely shorter. I don’t understand it. Why, also, is American Black History Month in February? And why were the two greatest American presidents born in February? Like both of them? And if they were so great, why do they lump the two birthdays together and then keep moving the date around so it works out to be a long weekend? Lots of heavy philosophical questions in February!

In the Julian calendar February is the second month. Luckily for us, Marina Kanavaki, is celebrating the month of February as she celebrates the number two. If you haven’t seen Marina’s artwork or heard her music, well, you’re missing something. Marina is second to none.

SOMETHING BLUE or Out From The Shadows

OUT FROM THE SHADOWS -- a current exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
OUT FROM THE SHADOWS — a current exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

ENVIRONMENTAL CORNER

As the promised El Nino storms pass over northern California and Oregon this winter, the weather in Los Angeles has been clear and hot. Beach weather in February! Yikes! Whatever the rainfall this year, we Californians still need to seriously conserve water. Conservation is on everybody’s mind (or should be) Everybody in the world must strive to reduce carbon pollution and to stop wasting energy, paper, and other resources. The Bumbastories Institute for Sustainability and for the Obtaining of Government Grants and Individual Contributions has come up with yet another ingenious energy-saving device! Last year, as reported by Bumbastories, researchers unveiled their revolutionary water-saving device called the “plug”. See photo images-4

This year, in response to the numerous complaints about slow and annoying electronic soap and paper towel dispensers in public bathrooms, the Bumbastories Institute for Sustainability and for the Obtaining of Government Grants and Individual Contributions has designed yet another brand-new, cutting-edge technology or device (call it what you will) that saves paper and soap without costly electronic sensors and installation of wires in the wall. The new device requires no electricity and no copper wires. Institute researchers have nicknamed the new invention “a sign”. Properly placed, “the sign” promises to reduce paper and soap usage without any without electricity, without wires – and without any strings attached. Well, maybe some tape…

 

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BOOK REVIEW: ON AMOS OZ

On Amos Oz, a Book Review(s)

 

images-1I’ve been reading Amos Oz of late, and again I am overjoyed to read such fine writing. Oz is reminiscent of Camus or Bashevis Singer in his accuracy of description, his succinctness. I wonder whether my personal familiarity with his world and culture helps me to identify so easily and thus colors my view so favorably, but all the same and nevertheless, if and when writing achieves such a high level of clarity, the reader is touched by something that is universal, something that transcends culture. Hurray for Amos Oz.

A Perfect Peace, written in 1982, depicts the challenges of kibbutz life of the 1960’s. The characters and settings are so well depicted that one can nearly see them. And one can even feel for them and feel with them. Such is Oz’s mastery. He’s written often about the kibbutz (where he was raised and lived much of his life) As a writer, Oz has an ability to absorb, to take in anything, wherever he is, whatever is out there, and then to spin it out in words for us.

A Perfect Peace is a patchwork sort of story, a piece of a story. Its main protagonist is Yonaton Lipshitz, son of Yolek Lipshitz, kibbutz secretary and former cabinet minister. At age twenty-five, Jonaton wants to leave the kibbutz, to set out in the world, live his own life. Oz explores this problem in depth, from a number of viewpoints. Yonaton’s family -his father, his mother, his wife, the idealistic newcomer to the kibbutz – all of them become familiar characters that you can see. For history buffs, there’s even a visit from Prime Minister Levi Eshkol to his old buddy and political rival Yolek Lipshitz. It’s an interesting book and I recommend it highly.

I also recommend Oz’s Between Friends – a recent (2013) novel, which also escorts us into kibbutz life in the 60’s. Between Friends is a jewel. Early on in the book I was reminded of Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson’s classic. Indeed, I later read that Oz expressly was aiming to do an Israeli Winesburg, Ohio. Hurray for Oz. He did it in spades. I would say he exceeded Anderson! Between Friends is a magnificent book.

Oz has also written a great number of short stories, even some poetry. His 1999 The Same Sea uses an interesting half prose, half verse form to create a powerful narrative.

A politically-active leftist, Oz has also written about politics and has written non-fiction books and newspaper columns as well. I haven’t read much of those. In the meantime I am just enjoying his novels. The Halls of Evil Counsel, set in Jerusalem in the 1940’s, during the British Mandate, is a terrific read too. Again, as someone who used to live in Jerusalem, I know that my interest in the setting and in the streets and topography helps me to connect to the writing. But all the same I feel that Oz’s appeal must surely extend beyond his own culture because in his art he achieves something universal that every serious reader can appreciate.

BTW, when are they going to give him the Nobel Prize?

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And here’s that easy Bob Dylan song we were talking about. it’s a sing-along of course. A pleasant month of February and a Happy Chinese New Year to y’all!

What? No mention of Valentine’s Day? OK, there. I mentioned it.

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