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

My Photo
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.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Book Review: Hitler's Time Machine

Hitler's Time Machine by Robert F. Dorr (2015, a Robert F. Dorr Publication)


Robert F. Dorr is an Air Force vet, retired senior Foreign Service officer, and an author who's widely known in the aviation community. His non-fiction books in print include Mission to Berlin, Hell Hawks, co-authored with Thomas D. Jones, and Air Force One, a history of presidential aircraft 

He is the author of dozens of books and thousands of magazine articles about the Air Force, aviation, and military affairs. He has also written a weekly opinion column for Air Force Times, monthly columns for Combat Aircraft, Air International and Aerospace America magazines, and a quarterly column for Air Power History, a publication he helped create. His first paid magazine article was in the November 1955 Air Force magazine when he was fifteen.

Last year he began venturing into counter-historical science fiction with the self-published Hitler's Time Machine, a mash-up of actual World War II history with pulp. The premise is that two teams of the world's top physicists, one in Hitler's Germany and one in FDR's America, are developing time machines in order to win the war. Unfortunately the characters are lifeless and the plot development is at a comic-book level. It's more about the body count than crisis, climax, and conclusion.

The novel combines actual history with science-fiction overtones the way steampunk does--but it lacks the punk attitude that steampunk demands. Its historical passages don't bring history to life, and the science fiction elements aren't very original, either. There are times when the manuscript doesn't even appear to have been adequately spellchecked, let alone edited or copy-edited.

Since Hitler's Time Machine, Dorr has written a murder mystery, Crime Scene:  Fairfax County, featuring two characters who survived the body count in his first novel. You'd think such a careful historian--who's experienced so much in government and the military--would know there were no blondes in Congress in 1947.   

Dorr has 58 non-fiction books listed on the Barnes & Noble site but Hitler's Time Machine is not one of them. It is available on the site, however.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Classic Yaoi: Iris Print, "Paintings of You" and "Only Words"

What yaoi might never have been published if not for Kellie Lynch and her Iris Print?

  That little publisher of Original English Language (OEL) yaoi prose and manga only lasted about a year--2007 to 2008--but gave us two ground-breaking graphic novels: Only Words by Tina Anderson and Caroline Monaco, and Paintings of You by Mia Paluzzi and Chris Delk (aka Chrissy Delk), to mention but two works.

  I doubt either Words or Paintings, both of which vividly and graphically portray complicated emotional landscapes, would've found a home with any other publisher, either of manga or GLBT creations.

  Words was, and remains, super-controversial (and is very graphically and sexually explicit). In perhaps 100 short pages it mixes the right emotional complexities, combined with solid historical detail, to make us believe that perhaps a Polish Catholic and a Hitler Youth may have had a love-hate encounter in Nazi-controlled Poland during World War II. One co-creator, Tina Anderson, is still active and has her own Web site, except she now specializes in mainstream prose only. The other co-creator, Caroline Monaco, cannot be located today--and may be a pseudonym.

  By contrast Paintings of You is a gay-themed contemporary romantic comedy that should have commercial appeal beyond the yaoi market--even to TV or film. It's about various types of relationships, sexual and otherwise, and is told without any heavy sex scenes. Art students meet up, break up, and make up in some college town, amid gallery openings, cups of espresso, and nerve-wracking roommates. The characters--some are sensitive, others, flamboyant--provide enough emotional complexities to keep the plot moving. Creators Mia Paluzzo and Chris (Chrissy) Delk graduated from the Savannah College of Art & Design in 2006. From searching the Internet I conclude this is their only published graphic novel.

 Because Iris Print existed, yaoi fans have Only Words and Paintings of You. Fortunately both are still readily available from various online sources. We know another OEL yaoi manga, Home on the Range, has never been published because Iris Print folded while that book was being promoted. I continue to hope another publisher (of graphic novels or GLBT literature, perhaps) picks it up.

Note:  Iris Print is not to be confused with Iris Press, an entirely different publisher.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Link to Random Lengths: Vivian Malauulu's Campaign for College Board

Link to my report on Vivian Malauulu's campaign for Long Beach Community College Board of Trustees:

Vivian Malauulu, whose resume already includes experience as a Carson commissioner and Random Lengths reporter, is campaigning to unseat Irma Archuleta on the April 12 elections for the Long Beach Community College District Board of Trustees.
“I have diverse unique experience that no other board member has,” said Malauulu about her hopes to represent Area 2, which borders Carson. “I’m an educator, I’m a longshoreman, and I’m a journalist. All three are very unique careers. I can breathe some fresh air into the board.”
Malauulu, who is a journalism professor at Long Beach City College, said she knows first-hand what issues are facing the district. She says 35 percent of students have less than a 2.1 GPA, and only 19 percent of students graduate within two years.
Born Vivian Ramirez in Honduras, Malauulu came at age seven to the United States in 1981. She lived in Carson with her African-American stepfather, who adopted her, making her name Vivian Williams. She attended Banning High School and started teaching there at age 22.
In 1998, Malauulu was appointed to Carson’s public relations commission by then-mayor Mike Mitoma.
“Many people told me I was the youngest commissioner ever [in Carson],” she recalled.
She continued to teach full-time even after her name was drawn in the 1997 longshoreman lottery. She worked first as a casual, and later she worked full-time. Her campaign bio says she’s a member of ILWU Local 13, where “I have served as an elected officer to the Executive Board, as a delegate to the Southern California District Council, and as the chair of the local’s Public Relations Committee.”
Her husband, George, is also from Carson and a longshoreman. They and their four children now live in LBCCD Area 2 adjacent to Carson. She is no longer a commissioner in Carson but serves on Long Beach’s Commission for Youth and Children.
Archuleta, the incumbent, was appointed in September 2014 to replace Roberto Uranga, who won the District 7 Long Beach City Council seat that same year.
Malauulu describes Archuleta’s appointment as “very controversial” because the board appointed Archuleta instead of calling an election, even though there were two years left on Uranga’s term. Malauulu questions why the board appointed Archuleta, who had to divide time between Long Beach and serving as vice president of Student Affairs at Evergreen Valley College in San Jose. Archuleta resigned the Evergreen position in October 2015.
“I am the best candidate to represent the district because I have been representing the district,” Archuleta responded. “I have served as an effective and accessible advocate for advancing the progressive values of my community. I helped to expand the Long Beach Promise scholarship program from one semester to one year.  I have brought new attention to the needs of immigrant and undocumented students and helped secure the path for the district’s first every [ever] Project Labor Agreement to ensure projects are completed with local workforce, on budget and on time.”
Before becoming a vice president at Evergreen Valley College, Archuleta says she served as adjunct faculty at El Camino College and Cal State University Long Beach.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

What's Wrong With Radio

People with satellite radio and digital entertainment systems in their cars live a lifestyle with multiple entertainment options while driving. Those of us whose cars have entertainment technology unchanged since the twentieth century, on the other hand--we can spend our morning and evening commutes vainly searching for just one song we really want to hear.

Radio still drives record charts and sales even in the Internet age, but how can we buy the song if we never hear it and don't know it?

From the eighties to the present decade, my attempts to spend my morning with radio music are filled with commercials, yakking (yes, that's the word) and tittering DJ's, yakking and giggling callers on the station's phone lines, commercials, contests, bad jokes, news breaks, giggling and yakking newscasters, traffic reports, tittering and yakking traffic reporters, and more commercials. Changing the channel does no good--it's the same on every channel, at least every channel that plays anything resembling current popular music.

Every once in a while one incredible song makes up for all that aural clutter, but more often songs of a more ordinary everyday variety get lost in the triviality.

What's wrong with radio?  Even people with long careers as radio announcers complain:

"I think the public is a lot more intelligent than ... radio stations give them credit for."  - Dusty Street

"When you lose ... creative interpretation ... you get the radio we have today, a uniform type of audio soma calculated to garner the highest ratings by the lowest common denominator."  - Jim Ladd

"I can think of a half dozen cases of a successful format that brought in audiences and pleased advertisers but was killed by management or ownership, who thought it was, too, whatever. A less adventurous format may please advertisers and owners as being safe and conventional, but the audience doesn't respond." - Bill Bishop

"Rick Carroll is an exception because he was an air talent before he was a consultant [but generally] a program consultant is someone who'll borrow your watch to tell you what the time is ... When I was at KZOZ in San Luis Obsipo [program consultant] Mark Driscoll let his tastes interfere all the time. He would not listen to request lines. He would not listen to the letters we got. He would not listen to people in clubs or on the street. He only listened to himself ... We were not allowed to play the Go-go's, they were soft, wimpy, when we were playing the Little River Band every one hour and forty-five minutes." - Richard Blade

"And then they changed the format, which they often do when something is working." - Rachel Donahue

Even songs complain about radio:

"Hang the DJ because the music that they constantly play, it says nothing to me about my life." - Morrisey, "Hang the DJ"

"Radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools, trying to anesthetize the way that you feel." - Elvis Costello, "Radio, Radio"

"I get tired of DJ's, why is it always what he plays?" - Joe Jackson, "Slow Song"

What's my radio for? To the people who program what I hear, it's profit--but how can you profit when you're not exposing your audience to the songs that they'll then be more likely to purchase?

"[In the seventies] we got two new records one day, a new Donna Summer and a new Cheap Trick. I played them both and asked for calls. I got literally dozens for Cheap Trick and none for Donna Summer. The management gave me all kinds of double-talk about how that wasn't an accurate reflection of what the audience wanted." - Bill Bishop

"Just because you're a little guy working at a station in Montana doesn't mean you should have to play dreck." - Rachael Donahue

"[When a] radio station finds they're hitting the top slot, and then they decide that's the formula that's going to get them the numbers. They tighten up and do just what they think the formula is. They soon realize--unfortunately not soon enough--it isn't the formula that does it but rather the lack of formula." - Dusty Street

"Ratings are just a convenience, or rather, inconvenience," - Richard Blade

According to Bill Bishop, the same management that added a Summer disco record to its pop playlist but refused to play Cheap Trick despite dozens of listener requests also tried to get away with editing the Police's "Roxanne" out of its "American Top 40" broadcast.

Even Tom Noonan, the man who for many years tabulated the Billboard charts, will say, "Charts aren't a Bible. They're a relative guideline."

Back in the eighties I'd wait in vain for the announcer to tell me what song I just heard, and often I still do. Rachael Donahue has said, "I can listen to the radio for three weeks and never find out who did that song."

"I'm convinced there's a lot of American music I'm not aware of." - Dusty Street

Maybe the problem lies in the demographics radio targets and the ones it ignores. Radio too often targets a male audience, and excludes women. On radio men tend to be "shock jocks" and women tend to be the sidekicks, not serious personalities, or the women have bedroom voices and are expected to attract a male audience. I can't think of a station that's ever once played to a female demographic.

When I rounded up comments for the first version of this article (which ran in the fanzine Sing No More Spring/Summer 1995), I received responses from two guys at different radio stations who refused to take my questions seriously. I didn't use or save their comments. Now I wish I had. They would have demonstrated perfectly what was and still is wrong with radio.

"So many women have not taken the opportunity to become personalities. They have fallen into the age-old male-dominated idea of sexy .... There's a thin line between education and entertainment and you've got to constantly be aware that people are taking you very, very seriously ... You must make absolutely sure that whatever you do is credible, truthful, and as far as I'm concerned, morally right." - Dusty Street

"There's plenty of women working in radio who seem to act like they want to be thought of as having an inferior mentality, and there's plenty of men who fit that description, too." - Bill Bishop

In the eighties and nineties, the Internet hadn't yet become the all-powerful cultural force it is today, where musical artists can put up Web sites and all manner of music can be purchased, downloaded or streamed. However, that still doesn't remedy the quality of what comes out of our cars' AM/FM radios.

For my original round-up, Dr. Demento responded with, "Perhaps what we need is a new medium of radio ... so they [small operators] can make a modest living while catering to minority tastes. Cable radio is a step in this direction, but at present a rather small one."

Cable radio was an alternative media outlet in the eighties and nineties. Now that the Internet has become the most common place to access new music, maybe it's time for old-fashioned radio to become an alternative to the Internet.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Big Development Force Out Small Businesses: Latest Random Lengths Article

Random Lengths has put up a link to my article, "Small Businesses Forced Out by Big Development" that ran in the Feb. 18, 2016-Mar. 2, 2016 issue and online:

If the link doesn't work, here's the article:

Small Businesses Forced out by Big Development
By Lyn Jensen, Carson Reporter

Numerous small businesses are being forced from a Carson mini-mall that’s in the way of the city’s redevelopment plans for a stretch of Avalon Blvd near Carson St.
Last June, the Carson City Council approved an application from Faring Capital to build a mixed-use project consisting of 357 residential units and 32,000 square feet of commercial space at addresses -- ranging from 21521 to 21061 Avalon Blvd. -- that have been longtime homes to many businesses.
Serenity Spa is one of the businesses that is being forced to leave.
“It’s difficult getting a permit to transfer business, to pay a fee, to hire an engineer, to pay an architect,” said Amy Huynh.  
She complains that she’s getting no assistance from the city or the developer. She was told, “It’s not their problem.”
“We have allowed many months of rent-free occupancy to help with their [the tenants’] transition to new locations,” responded Darren Embry, a spokesperson for Faring Capital.
Richard Rojas, a city project planner, said Carson is not providing relocation assistance because it’s a private development on private land, and is being privately financed at no cost to the city.
He responded that the Serenity Spa is a special case because it’s regulated as a massage parlor, so any property that houses it needs a conditional use permit.
Another mini-mall tenant, insurance salesman Gregory Owens, said he started hearing rumors more than a year ago that he would have to leave the office he’s had for 17 years. The official notice came last August. The deadline to move was Dec. 31, 2015 but the landlord, Faring Capital, is giving him to the end of February to move, most likely to an office space in a neighboring mixed-use building.
“Relocating a business is always a challenge,” Owens said, adding he was disappointed the city offered no relocation assistance, considering how a move may increase his expenses by around $100,000.
Young’s Beauty Supply, a fixture of the mini-mall for more than six years, also is being forced out. Its owner, Young Pak, said he doesn’t know where he’s going to move and he’ll probably have to put his merchandise in storage.
Pak said after he received an eviction notice with a summons to vacate, he hired a lawyer. At issue is compensation for what he says is a five-year option on his lease.
“I cannot leave without compensation,” he said.
He fears that without compensation, he may have to declare bankruptcy. He shows a notebook that contains the names and addresses of his customers so he may notify them of a new location.
Embry explains that he cannot comment on litigation but that Faring Capital is redeveloping the property in a joint venture with the Wolff Co., one of the largest multi-family developers.
“Our estimated timeframe is to begin demolition in March to be followed by approximately 21 months of construction,” he added.
Carson’s website gives an indication of how ambitious the Avalon mixed-use project is, with architectural renderings and the project’s California Environmental Quality Act review. The plan describes two four-story buildings, a courtyard, parking garage, and other amenities.
“There are no age- or income-restricted units,” Embry confirmed.

Rojas agreed the project will not include any residential units especially designated as affordable or for seniors.