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Booze, Gambling, Gangsters, Flappers, and Dogs ... a Roaring Twenties Halloween

Every Halloween brings another annual fundraiser for the Amanda Foundation, our local dog & cat rescue. This was our third year working the main gig but our first time doing the group dog-walk, the pre-event to garner attention for the fundraiser. I even got my official Amanda shirt, which was akin to a superhero uniform. The moment I put it on, I felt empowered, like I had more authority to tell dogs what's what.


Every volunteer was assigned a pup to walk. I got Turner, a friendly and excitable dog. His costume was technically "king." It even came with a crown, which had zero chance of staying on, given how active he was.

At first, this was what happened when a kid saw Turner ...

"Superman!" the kid squeals.
"No no no," I say. "He's king."

Repeat.

Fifteen minutes later ...

"Superman!"the kid squeals.
"Yup," I sigh. "Superman."


Michelle's dog, Chikis, was the opposite of Turner. Chikis was a total la…
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The Beauty from Falling Down

I lack athleticism. In particular, I used to fear balls.

When I was tiny, I would cry when my Dad tried to throw a ball to me. Not a hard one, but one of those big red rubber balls that even toddlers could abuse. Unsurprisingly, I turned out to be the worst batter on my little league team. In my sole season, I only hit the baseball once. Inadvertently.

Yet somehow, I grew up to love basketball. Because I worshiped Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the 80s Lakers, I developed a hook shot. It is neither graceful nor accurate, but serviceable for the average pickup game.

What I lack in athleticism I make up for in appearance. Looking like you know what you're doing is more reassuring to others than actually knowing what you're doing—also true for much of life. Just ask any politician.


This is me running in a Utah national park. See that motion blur of my arms? Pump your arms really fast; it provides the illusion that you're speedy.


Zoom in on my stupid face. Yeah, blow this JPEG pupp…

A Slick Night In Muttley Carlo

For Halloween this year, we volunteered at the annual Amanda Foundation fundraiser. It's the animal rescue that we walk dogs for. We first did it back in 2014, when the theme was zombies. 2015 we missed because of our road trip. The 2016 theme was James Bond ... um, Bone.

I tried to go for the James Bond look in the movie Spectre, where Daniel Craig sports a black turtleneck. Minus his muscles, charm, and good looks, of course.


As before, our job was to staff one of the silent auction tables, which offered items including VIP tickets to the TV show The Voice (plus a signed Miley Cyrus shirt!) and local favorites like the Magic Castle. The business was brisk, and all the items on our table got bids.


To make the evening extra memorable, the sky even rained a bit. Yup. This is Southern California, where earthquakes are more common than rain. If you ever feel a drop on your head, it's more likely to be a package from a pigeon than water. We've been having a drought for so lon…

Retracing the Big Road Trip

Hard to believe, but it's been a year since our cross-country road trip. It feels half that. That's the thing about getting older: the velocity of time accelerates with age. When I was a kid, I would get bored and try to pass time like it was in overabundance. What a fool I was.

Now I don't have enough time to do all the things I want. For example, I used to stubbornly finish a novel even when I didn't enjoy it. Not anymore. Even if people stop writing new books and I devote the rest of my life to reading, I still won't cover all the books I want to read. That I used to waste time, the most nonrenewable asset of all, seems horrendous. It's like burning a $100 bill to light a cigarette, something I saw on the TV show The Wire.

After a year to reflect on all the locales we saw on our road trips, I'd say the Pacific Northwest remains my favorite. Portland, in particular.

To be sure, there are many other fine places I still remember fondly. Canada is wonderful…

Super Adoption of Super Cats and Dogs (and some super wabbits)

Looking for a dog or cat or rabbit to adopt? If you're in the Los Angeles area, check out the NKLA Super Adoption. Although NKLA is the main organizer, there are also many animals from other shelters and rescues.

We were there today and had heaps of fun. By 4 pm, 303 animals had been adopted!


The orange & white tabby on the left is one of the prettiest cats I've ever seen. The gray & white kitten on the right is named Hodor, paw dangling as if lounging on the Iron Throne. Arya is his (hidden) cagemate with her own electric fan - it was far too hot today for a maiden of the North.


I'm totally humiliated. That's probably what this tolerant pup was thinking the entire time it patiently posed for a dozen cell phone pictures. Humans are always putting dogs in humiliating costumes.


If you show up at the right times, you can watch a newborn kitten being bottle-fed. See that round thing on the right side of the table? That's a scale. They weigh the "bottle-bab…

Go for Broke

"Go for Broke."

It was the motto of the 100th/442nd—an American Army unit that, by the end of World War II, became the most decorated military unit in U.S. history. It remains so to this day, given the unit's size and duration of service. (Link) "In less than two years of combat, the unit earned more than 18,000 awards, including 9,486 Purple Hearts, 4,000 Bronze Stars and 21 Medals of Honor." (Link)

What many people don't know is that the 100th/442nd was a segregated Army unit composed entirely of Japanese Americans, mostly volunteers.

One of their heroic achievements is the rescue of the “Lost Battalion,” the 36th Infantry Division from the Texas National Guard. The 36th, trapped by the Germans in the Vosges Mountains of France, was running out of time and supplies. The 442nd fought through the German lines, taking 800+ casualties, and ended up saving 211 Texans. (Link)

While the soldiers of the 100th/442nd bled and died for America, many of their famili…

Morocco, Maybe: Author Interview at Elflandia and Goodreads Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway Morocco, Maybe by Alex P. Wu Giveaway ends April 30, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads. Enter Giveaway
I've been meaning to mention this, but I kept forgetting. Bad memory. An author interview about Morocco, Maybe is posted at Elflandia. Thanks, Avery, for the privilege.

Oh, and I just started a paperback giveaway at Goodreads. The deadline to enter is April 30, 2016.