Thursday, June 30, 2011


Not many movies I look forward to these days, but Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky's latest venture, Noah, based on the Bible myth of the ark, has the potential to be great. He's hired screenwriter John Logan (Gladiator, The Aviator) to work on his original script, and rumors are Christian Bale is being sought to play the lead.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Above and Below

Photo of Greece at night taken by NASA astronaut Douglas Wheelock aboard the International Space Station (click to enlarge). The god's-eye view looks enchanting and serene; little would you know that on the streets below there rages a Night of the Furies:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Opposite of Courage

Guardian, 6/26: Taliban use girl, 8, as bomb mule in attack on Afghanistan police post
Afghanistan's interior ministry says girl died in blast after insurgents gave her a bag containing explosives.

It's happening in Pakistan as well:

Last week in Dir district in north-western Pakistan, police defused a bomb strapped to a nine-year-old girl who said she had been kidnapped in Peshawar then set off walking towards a checkpost.

"They told me: 'You keep on reciting Qu'ranic verses till you push the button," she said afterwards.


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Image: REUTERS

"It is hard, I submit, to loathe bloodshed, including war, more than I do, but it is still harder to exceed my loathing of the very nature of totalitarian states in which massacre is only an administrative detail."
Vladimir Nabokov

Thursday, June 16, 2011

JAPAN: three months after the quake

These stunning before and after pictures show the amazing progress--and lack of progress--in Japanese cleanup and recovery efforts. (Click HERE for more pix.)For readers interested in contributing to the cause, you can go right now to this page on, and for $3.99 buy a collection of wonderful Japan-themed stories specifically written by 20 different thriller/mystery authors to raise money for Japanese quake relief. Every nickel raised from sales of the book will go to organizations working to rebuild shattered communities and shattered lives in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. (You can find more details on this remarkable collaboration at the website of author Tim Hallinan).

Please buy the book and pass on the word--you'll enjoy some excellent stories while helping do some good.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Out There

detail from M. Chearney's White Out
My tennis buddy, the painter Michael Chearney, participated in the group show OUT THERE at Gallery 825 in West Hollywood last night.
Joanna among the art lovers

Mike with his painting White Out
(click to enlarge)
"Crazy Mike" as we call him on the courts has a fabulous energy and an indomitable Buddhist spirit. You can see it in his fluid and vigorous work, an artful combination of control and abandon. For me his paintings exhibit a similar theme to one I've been exploring in my novel: merging the assertiveness of the willful West with the ego-dissolution of the mystic East. In life this is seen most dramatically in acts of self-sacrificing courage. In art it is embodied in the artist himself, his daily struggle to lose himself in his work.

On a lighter note, Joanna and I liked this mixed media piece by the artist Deborah Baca. Note the perfect detail: a bottle of Evian water.
Arachnid Attempting 5th Position
(click to enlarge)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Art of War

Seal Team Six - the guys who got Bin Laden
(click to enlarge)

...And the guys who didn't (from the ONION Daily Dispatch, 6/10/11):

Pakistani Intelligence Announces Its Full Cooperation With U.S. Forces During Upcoming Top Secret June 12 Drone Strike On Al-Qaeda At 5:23 A.M. Near Small Town Of Razmani In North Waziristan

Sunday, June 5, 2011


London MIRROR: A fearless Gurkha who single-handedly fought off an attack by up to 30 Taliban soldiers has been awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross. Acting Sergeant Dipprasad Pun, 31, above, fired 400 rounds and launched 17 grenades to thwart the assault on his checkpoint in Afghanistan. He also beat away an insurgent with the tripod of his machine gun when the weapon stopped working. The Gurkha ran out of ammunition but detonated a mine to repel the final two Taliban fighters.

I've been in awe of these amazing warriors for some time--check out this earlier post. A Nepalese Ghurka plays a key role in my current novel-in-progress, THE LOTUS ASSASSIN. For more pix and details on Sergeant Pun, click HERE.

The American Dream --Version 3.0?

This ever-renewing American myth is explored by Walter Russell Mead in a fascinating series of posts called The Death of the American Dream:
"This isn’t the first time the American Dream has died. The old dream — your own farm rather than your own home — once dominated American culture, politics and family life as much as the family home ever did. The slow and painful death of that dream was one of the country’s core preoccupations in the first half of the twentieth century. The death of the new dream is likely to be a big deal as well."
"That dream is timelessly valid, and it is still the thing that people around the world admire most about the United States. We are going to have to re-imagine and re-engineer the dream to keep it alive in the decades ahead, but that shouldn’t daunt us. America is a nation of dreamers; building the future by following those dreams is what we do best."

Friday, June 3, 2011

Do Not Go East

Do not go East: satori is at hand.
In shifting shells, in sea shelves seeing is
believing: more than all beliefs unshelved.

Do not go up: here heaven has a hold.
Air there is thin, too thin for breathing in,
and yet there is a rapture in the deep

beneath the light: green, dark and wonderful.
And dark is where the dreams are; past things, too:
the place we see ourselves unselved,

and find an ocean, opiate enough
to drown all doubt. Go down, then, if you will,
and sink into intoxicated sleep.

Shells shift and speak tomorrow and afar.
Tomorrow is the place where rumours are.

--Philip Quinlan

Philip Quinlan was born, and lives, in the London area but spent many years in the North of England. He has published two (so far narrowly circulated) slimmish volumes of poetry (illustrated by the artist Annie Ovenden): True North and Leaves and Limnings. [from The Chimaera, March 2010]

photo by Barbara Cole