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.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


Carol Martini, who's long played the Los Angeles and Orange County singer-songwriter scenes, has released an ambitious 23-track CD The Fine Art of Singing While Drowning, her first recording since Songs of the Girl on the Swing (2016). Here she's the singer, songwriter, and co-producer, while co-producer Daniel Martin provides all the musical accompaniment. A third co-producer, Keith Taylor, provides vocal harmonies.

Martini's style has long ranged from poignant love songs to playful humor to autobiography. Here she provides some examples of just about everything she can do. Even though each song is good, having so much offered at one time may limit the ability of this CD to find its audience. The arrangements, too, don't have the kind of punch that's needed to stand out from all the other music that's available online now.

Of the more playful offerings here, one stand-out is "Pirate Chick," the latest in Martini's series of "Chick" songs about bold adventurous women. Another of her more humorous works is "Hit Man," a whole song that plays on the words in reference to music and that other kind of hit. It's like the story of a comic-book villain in musical form. Some of Martini's love songs are humorous, too--laugh along with "I'm a Little Obsessed" sometime.

For Martini's more poignant side, try "There's a Suitcase Packed" about that moment when the last thread(s) of a relationship are about to snap. Some of her songs are on You Tube--the romantic and poignant "You Made Good-bye an Art" is one. "Hit Man" is another.

Perhaps next we'll see Martini make an album where all her songs match a certain mood--either romantic, or humorous, or jazzy. To explore Martini's musical wares, search for her on You Tube, Amazon, and/or Facebook.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

My Backyard Bucket List Compared, Part Two: Westways September 2017

In my last post, "My Backyard Bucket List Compared, Part One:  Westways September 2017" was a look at what I'd done (or had no interest in doing) compared to a Westways cover story, "Backyard Bucket List." This time I'm looking at the things I want to do, not as a "Bucket List" but as simply as a way to give myself a richer, fuller life.
As I stated in my previous post, I dislike the expression, "Bucket List." It's become an over-used cliche that looks at our life's accomplishments as some kind of businesslike "to do" check list. Better that we look at how we can develop intellectually, how we can make progress, how we can achieve as much we can for as long as we're able to. Face it, we'll always have something more we want to do--write that letter, drive that road, try that restaurant. When I think about what I want to do before I die, I think about how to prioritize my goals, how to leave something for those that come after me.
When I look at the remainder of the items that make up the Westways "Backyard Bucket List," I can mostly divide them into three major categories--restaurants and similar establishments, outdoor activities, and simple pleasures.
This last category includes such activities as eating fresh carrots at the carrot festival in Holtville, near El Centro, California. For me, eating fresh carrots--just pulled from the ground--may truly be a wonderful life experience, but I doubt you have to eat them specifically at an event in Holtville. How about just growing them in your backyard or your community garden--if your community has one? How about all the other amazingly tasty garden vegetables that are best when picked fresh and eaten almost immediately, too? Potatoes, for example--when you grow them and eat them yourself, it's a completely different experience from just eating them.
When I looked at the "Backyard Bucket List" about what I hadn't done, nothing--except, perhaps, ride in a dune buggy--jumped out as being, "That sounds like fun! I want to do that!"
Even then, I wonder, is riding in a dune buggy all that different from riding in the back of a pick-up or on a motorcycle--both of which I've done--feeling the thrill of (moderate) speed as my hair whips in the wind and the scenery whips by?
I do want to visit Mt. Rushmore. I do want to continue researching my family history and keep my collection of family photographs in order. I do want to keep writing--and so many of my writing projects will never become fully developed--because that's just part of what being a writer is. I do want to spend time in the South. I have a long list of movies I want to see and books I want to read. I want to volunteer to cook for the homeless. I want to do a stand-up comedy routine. Those are big lifetime-achievement goals.
How do I reconcile them with all the little distractions of the life that happens as I make other plans? Maybe the whole idea of a "bucket list" is that it helps us measure our life's big achievements against the little ones that happen every day.

Monday, January 21, 2019

My Backyard Bucket List Compared, Part One: Westways September 2017

Back in 2017 Westways did a "Bucket List" of Southern California attractions--what you must see and do in the Los Angeles area before you die. I'm not a fan of the term, "Bucket List." You don't really have to do anything before you kick the bucket. I'd prefer to see a list that focuses on how to lead a richer, fuller life--ways to squeeze as many life-affirming experiences while you're holding what George Bernard Shaw called a "splendid torch."
That said, how do my life experiences stack up against the Westways recommendations? Below are the lists of what I've done and won't do. In Part Two of this two-part post I'll discuss the remainder of southern California attractions that Westways thinks you must do before you die.

DONE!  Been there, done that!
  • I've watched the Rose Parade "in person" from the curb.
  • I've heard mariachi music--live and in person.
  • I've toured the Getty Museum.
  • I've watched a game at Dodger Stadium--and at Angels Stadium, and at Wrigley in Chicago, too!
  • I've been on a whale watch cruise--I was about five years old, froze half-to-death and didn't see one whale.
  • I've seen the Watts towers. I'll post my picture of them sometime.
  • I've seen several rodeos, and I don't see why it matters which one.
  • I've rode the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. 
  • I've been to the Griffith Observatory.
  • I've toured Hearst Castle.
  • I've eaten Mrs. Knott's famous fried chicken, enough times for several dozen lives. I'd add doing just about anything at Knott's Berry Farm to a lifetime achievement list.
  • I've watched more than one drive-in movie, back in the days when it was a normal everyday family activity.
  • I've watched more than one film at a classic movie palace--I saw 2001:  A Space Odyssy at the Chinese, I've been to the Cinedome more times than I clearly remember, and to a few other of Hollywood's grandest movie theaters for very serious and important cinematic experiences.
  • I've toured Rancho Los Cerritos in Long Beach.
  • Although I haven't driven on the sand at Pismo Beach, I've rode in the car as the whole family drove on the sand at Pismo Beach.
  • I've attended the Ramona pageant.
  • I've seen fields of California poppies.
Does This Count? Although I haven't done exactly what the magazine suggests, I think I've come close enough--or even better:
  • I haven't heard the 2600-pipe organ play at El Segundo's Old Town Music Hall or the world's largest outdoor organ in San Diego's Balboa Park, but I've heard the 5000-pipe Mighty Wurlitzer Theater Organ in the Nethercutt Collection at Sylmar. 
  • I haven't flown in a vintage plane at the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, but I've toured the Planes of Fame Museum and I've flown in a plane--a rickety nail-biter type of plane, too! (That's a life experience I'd preferred to have never had.)
  • I haven't been to the Imperial Beach Dog Surf Competition in Huntington Beach, but I've seen a dog surf on TV. I've seen humans surf in life, too!
  • I'm haven't fed an ostrich at Ostrich Land USA in Solvang, but I've fed peacocks and geese at the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia. I fed an elephant at the zoo, when I was about six, too, and she kissed me with her trunk as a "Thank you!"
  • I haven't seen a concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl, but I've seen the Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl.
  • I haven't been to the Lincoln Memorial Shrine in Redlands, but I've seen "Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln" at Disneyland and I've seen Lincoln's tomb at Springfield, Illinois.
  • I haven't taken a cruise of Newport Bay, but I've rode the Balboa Island Ferry (several times) and I've taken a cruise of San Diego Bay.
  • I haven't danced or seen a concert at Mission San Juan Capistrano, but I've toured the mission--and most of California's other historical Spanish missions.
  • I haven't attended the Joshua Tree Rock Climbing School but I've hiked in Joshua Tree. 
  • I haven't stayed overnight at the Hotel Del Coronado but I've toured it.
  • I haven't stayed overnight aboard the Queen Mary but I've toured it.
  • Although I've never hunted for fossils at Sharktooth Hill near Bakersfield, but I have hunted for fossils, and found them.
  • I haven't seen the site of the original San Bernardino McDonald's along Rt. 66, but I've seen the oldest still-serving McDonald's in Downey, and its McDonald's museum.
  • I haven't been to the races at Del Mar, but I've been to the ones at Santa Anita, Los Alamitos, and Hollywood Park. Maybe I should go back because I didn't properly wear a hat? Once I wore a little black hat to go with my little black dress to a job interview at Angels Stadium. The interviewer made a snide remark about "We don't wear hats in the parking lot." I wonder if he ever sees news footage of women in hats at the horse races, and becomes livid at the sight of women, in hats, in parking lots.
No, thanks! The things I could care less about:
  • Bungee jumping, hang gliding, and zip-lining? Somehow I don't think I need to do any of that to have lived a rich full life. Maybe I'm just not the outdoor type.
  • The Nixon Library and the Reagan Library--you honestly expect a progressive Democrat like me to set foot in either of those?
  • You do not need to volunteer to be a cast member at the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach, where you can get all painted up and pose as part of a "live" replica of a famous painting--and the pageant often doesn't even do all that good a job of replicating the painting. I've been on a stage, in a play, with lines to speak, and that beats this.
  • "Slide down the side of skyscraper. The 45-foot-long glass-and-steel Skyslide protrudes from the US Bank Tower, one of the tallest buildings in the West. From 1,000 feet above downtown, the slide offers one of the best views of the City of Angels." I've had a number of "the best views of the City of Angels," including from the revolving Bonaventure restaurant in the days when you really could see a 360-degree view of Los Angeles from it, and I didn't need to submit to a PR stunt for US Bank to see it. Besides, just how much of a view do you get while you're sliding down anything?
  • Rock climbing is more a survival skill than a before-you-die adventure--and one slip and it will be the last thing you do before you die.
  • The magazine lists four kayaking and/or whitewater trips, indicating an unnecessary fondness for kayaking and/or whitewater rafting--down the Los Angeles River, the Kern River, around the sea caves at the Channel Islands and among the leopard sharks in La Jolla. Once again, I'm not the outdoor type. 
  • Did my aeronautical-engineer father ever drag me through the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and if he didn't, why should I care?

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Environmentally Efficient Civic Center Comes to Long Beach (Random Lengths, Dec. '18)

My article "Environmentally Efficient Civic Center Comes to Long Beach" was published in both the print and online versions of Random Lengths.
Date of the print version: Dec. 13-19, 2018 
Date of the online version:  12/13/18 (link is below)

Here's the lead:

As part of a massive downtown civic center development, Long Beach is planning to shut down its existing downtown library on Jan. 19, in favor of a more environmentally-efficient one, scheduled to open summer 2019. The current civic center, including the main library, was built in 1976 in Lincoln Park, bordered by Ocean Boulevard on the south, Pacific Avenue on the east, Broadway on the north, and Magnolia Avenue on the west. The new project preserves the general location, but the existing city hall and library are being demolished to make room for retail and residential development along with what the city is calling a “re-envisioned” four-acre Lincoln Park.

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.”