Lyn Jensen's Blog: Manga, Music, and Politics

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Location: Anaheim, California, United States

Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Friday, December 14, 2018

School Safety Panel: More Counselors, Fewer Random Searches (Random Lengths, 12/6-12/18)

My story for Random Lengths News (the 12/6-12/18 print issue) reports on the findings of a recent "Blue Ribbon Panel on School Safety" in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The panel was convened, not by the district, but by Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer.  Here is a link to the online version:

Here's the lead:

Los Angeles Unified School District has a requirement that all middle and high schools must conduct “daily random” searches of students and lockers with hand-held metal detector wands in order to detect and seize weapons brought to school unlawfully. Schools with over 1000 students enrolled must have four metal detector wands, used daily, while schools with less than 1000 students need only have two--used daily.
This policy may be the most controversial finding by a panel, convened by Los Angeles city attorney Mike Feuer earlier this year, to address the issue of gun violence in Los Angeles district schools. In the aftermath of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida in February, Feuer convened a “Blue Ribbon Panel on School Safety.” With the cooperation of the district, the panel spent several months examining district efforts to keep schools safe from gun violence. The final report and its recommendations were made public in August.
Asked for comment, Rob Wilcox of the city attorney’s office stated, “The most controversial aspect of the report had to do with LAUSD’s random handheld metal detector search policy (wanding) and our recommendation that it be suspended while undertaking a large scale audit of the program.”

Friday, November 9, 2018

Random Lengths 11/2/18: My Article on Rent Control

Random Lengths News (the website) ran my story in which I compared rent control efforts at the state level (Prop. 10, which was defeated 11/6) with the local level (City of Carson and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors):

Hyperlink added 11/26/18--as above link no longer seems to work:

Here's the lede:
On the Nov. 6 ballot, and at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the issue of rent control is being tackled. Voters around the state are considering Proposition 10, titled the “Affordable Housing Act,” which if passed would repeal the 1995 Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. Under Costa-Hawkins, no county or city may implement rent control on single family homes or apartments built after 1995. When passed by the legislature, its sole purpose was to protect the real estate industry from rent control. It did not nullify local rent control laws entirely but municipalities cannot enforce rent control on any buildings built after 1995. The law does not apply to mobile home parks.

At the local level, the board of supervisors is addressing rent control for both mobile homes and apartments. On Sept. 4 they voted 3-1 to adopt an interim ordinance to impose a 180-day (six-month) moratorium on rent increases in excess of three percent for the 86 mobile home parks in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. The 180 days started in early October.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Bloglandia: Dark Shadows

Between 2008 and 2009 Wapshott published a non-fiction literary journal, Bloglandia, which operated as a blog anthology, publishing selected blogs from the Internet because, as Wapshott's publisher Ginger Mayerson promoted it, “some ideas are too cool to stay in cyberspace.”  Bloglandia Vol. 2, Issue 1, for example, led with a lengthy postmortem by veteran activist Bruce Hahne on what opponents of California’s anti-marriage Proposition 8 did wrong (essentially everything).  Other topics have included sexual harassment in the Department of Defense and the medical mystery of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (both by this author)

After such a long hiatus, Mayerson is now offering a new J Bloglandia: The Journal of Bloglandia with, for the first time,  one unifying theme. Volume 3, Issue 1 consists entirely of Katheryn L. Ramage's 42 blogs that recap and review Dark Shadows, the cult-favorite Gothic TV daytime drama that most recently was revived in movie form with Johnny Depp as the modern-day vampire Barnabas Collins.

The classic TV episodes--more than 1200 in all--are now available online, and Ramage, having been a fan of the show during its original run, watched the entire series in sequence, blogging about her experience as she went. The book is presenting the highlights of those online reviews. It may be ordered, in print form only, from Amazon.

If you think you've got a blog--or better, a series of blogs around one unified theme--that demands to see print, check where the deadline for submissions is ongoing. Mayerson will publish the next issue, "Whenever I have 65-75 pages of material."

Thursday, September 27, 2018

J Bloglandia, The Journal of Bloglandia: Blogging in the Form of a Literary Journal

Turning online blogs into paperback collections of essays because "some blogs are just too cool to stay in cyberspace" is one of Ginger Mayerson's more innovative ideas. Her online venture Wapshott Press has been publishing The Journal of Bloglandia, a non-fiction literary journal, since 2008. Also known as J Bloglandia or simply Bloglandia, it allows creative literature that began life online to make the transition to print, including two works by this journalist. 

According to the Wapshott Press site, "The Journal of Bloglandia is a print compilation of non-fiction blog posts on a variety of subjects, including left leaning politics. These could include essays, reviews, interviews, histories, analysis, original comics and illustrations, some poetry (maybe), or whatnot. "

Although bloggers may make submissions to the Wapshott Press site at any time, becoming familiar with the first four issues, published 2008-2009, will help provide an overview of what gets published here.

J Bloglandia, The Journal of Bloglandia, Vol. 1, Issue 1 (May '08) featured fourteen blogs on subjects ranging from Hillary Clinton to Barbarella. Authors included erotic comic artist Molly Kiely, and essayist Paul M. Rodriguez, whose work appears on the Blogger site The Ruricolist.  

Vol. 1, Issue 2 (Sept. '08) featured this writer's own #metoo story, "One Woman's Story:  I Sued Rumsfeld for Sexual Harassment," years before any #metoo movement. After I was unable to find a print outlet for it, I posted it as an online article on (I've also posted it on Daily Kos and a few other sites) and Mayerson kindly allowed it to see print. Some other stories included Molly Kiely's "18 Months into Motherhood When Plan A Was to Get Spayed ASAP" and a legal presentation by Ray Beckerman on "How the RIAA Litigation Process Works."

J Bloglandia, Vol. 2, Issue 1 (April 2009) led with a lengthy and topical analysis from the website Daily Kos of how the LGBT movement failed to stop a California ballot proposition (Proposition 8) that took same-sex marriage away. Bruce Hahne, a senior volunteer who worked on the No on 8 campaign, ticked off a series of fatal errors. Opponents of the proposition failed to counter the right's favorite ploy--gays are after children. The opponents' arguments in the state's Voter Information Guide resembled the ranting of a crackpot, there was little effort at online messaging, and most importantly, time-honored methods to GOTV were sporadic at best. The damage Hahne describes has been largely mitigated by the Supreme Court allowing same-sex marriage but his advice for how political campaigns can counter the right is evergreen.

Vol. 2, Issue 2 (Oct. '09) included this blogger's article on suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, "The Politics of CFS:  What Does it Mean?" which, as was the case with my sexual harassment experience, I posted on sites including and Daily Kos when I was unable to find a print outlet.

You won't find superstars of blogging here because Mayerson prefers to focus on more obscure or academic sites. She publishes an issue when she's able to get together a sufficient amount of material, but the journal has been on a long hiatus since publishing its first four issues in 2008 and 2009. At long last a fifth issue is scheduled for later this year, and for the first time will have a theme--blogs from fans of the Gothic cult-classic Dark Shadows, which has found life as a TV series, a comic, and a 2012 Johnny Depp film.

Friday, August 3, 2018

My Own Great American Read

PBS is featuring 100 candidates for "America's Best Loved Novel" as part of The Great American Read, which returns Sept. 11 after a May 22 premiere. People are being invited to vote for their favorite "great American read" and are being challenged to read the entire list on the PBS website. Here's the link:

I find that of the 100--including multi-volume series counted as a single work--I've actually read 16 (Asterisks appearing below indicate "and I've seen the movie" which as we often find, may not be close to the book at all):

1. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
2.  Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
3.  Dune by Frank Herbert*
4.  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley*
5. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell*
6.  The Grapes of Warth by John Steinbeck*
7.  The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
8.  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte*
9.  Moby Dick by Herman Melville
10.  1984 by George Orwell
11.  The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde*
12.  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin*
13.  Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte*
14.  The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
15.  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
16.  And back in fourth or fifth grade, I read Charlotte's Web by E. B. White--I'm guessing it'd be hard to find someone who didn't.

Now I'll count two more books as "read" because teacher or parent read them to me:
17. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, and
18.  (most of) The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

Allow me to fall back on that old school-days line, "I've seen the movie" to make my total a little higher (although I don't consider seeing the movie a substitute for reading the book, it does count for familiarity with the story):
1.  The Count of Monte Cristo (TV movie with Richard Chamberlain)
2. Crime and Punishment (TV mini-series with John Hurt)
3. The Help (and it stank)
4.  To Kill a Mockingbird
5.  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
6.  War and Peace
7.  The Joy Luck Club
8.  The Little Prince
9.  Rebecca
10.  Little Women
11.  Catch 22
12.  Alice in Wonderland 

There are a few special cases that don't fit neatly into the above:
1.  I tried and failed to read Catch 22, but I found the movie sufficient.
2.  I tried to read Little Women in fifth grade but the school year was over before I finished it.
3.  I haven't read Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, but I've twice seen plays based on it.
4.  I haven't read Alice in Wonderland, except for a few parts (including a few children's adaptations) here and there but--I've seen the Tim Burton movie, and a TV musical version, and I've actually been in a stage adaptation.
5.  I skimmed through The Color Purple. It stank.

As I compare my own reading to what's on the list, I question the inclusion of so many children's titles. The line of demarcation is sometimes faint, but I tally 10 and I'm not even counting several YA coming-of-age works:
1.  Charlotte's Web
2.  The Little Prince
3.  Tom Sawyer
4.  The Chronicles of Narnia
5.  Harry Potter
6.  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
7.  Anne of Green Gables
8.  The Book Thief
9.  Little Women
10. Where the Red Fern Grows

To be fair, several of these titles are appropriate for all ages, but I question their inclusion on the list, along with roughly 30 foreign adult titles, especially considering so many great American reads didn't make the list at all. I'd prefer the list was limited to adult American works, especially considering it leaves off such landmark American works as William Styron's The Confessions of Nat Turner and Alison Bechdel's Fun Home. To me, great children's works and great international works deserve a program all their own.

So the final question is, am I finding any new reading material? The short answer is, I'm not interested in reading the entire list. I have my reasons for avoiding several of them.
The longer answer:  I'm inspired to move a few novels to my official "to read" list:
1.  Even before The Great American Read debuted on PBS, one of my goals for 2018 was to finally finish Little Women. If I'm not starting it (again) by the end of this month, wake me up.
2.  Since my teens I've been interested in reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it's such a daunting task. I even started Fellowship of the Ring but somehow never made it past the first ten pages or so. I'm thinking that I need to take a full year to read all three books. That year hasn't happened yet. Maybe in 2019 or 2020?
3.  I've read Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye (which isn't on the list) but I suppose I could check out her Beloved (which is).
4.  From time to time I've considered Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City but I've always been unsure of just how to approach it. It's said to be a series of nine novels, and I'd hate to get roped into reading all nine. (That's a commitment on the level of Lord of the Rings.) I'm not even really sure how to categorize it. Is it a series of nine stand-alone novels? Is it autobiographical fiction, or does it slop over into non-fiction? Is it a series of short stories, or a series of serialized novels--like Dickens' great works--or is it one long narrative that takes nine volumes to conclude? Just how far do I have stick my toe in this pool?
5.  I take one last look at the PBS list, and Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man jumps out. It's something I may look into--if I have the stomach for it--someday.
6.  Authors are represented on the list by one work apiece, and there are a few (Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, a few others) that I may be interested in reading more of, but not necessarily the titles on the list.

So what's the top "great American read" going to be? I'll vote (I'll keep my votes secret for right now) and I'll watch to find out what the final tally is, come Oct. 23.