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My life, your life, our lives inside and outside of Los Angeles and its angels.
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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Alial Fital Golf Apparel Will Donate Portion of Sales to Folds of Honor Military Scholarship Fund (Memorial Day Weekend)




Gibran Hamdan, CEO and designer of the popular golf apparel line, Alial Fital (AF), has announced that AF will donate 10 percent of all proceeds from sales to the Folds of Honor Foundation, now through the Memorial Day Weekend (ending after Sun., May 24).

“This is Alial Fital’s way of honoring our servicemen and women,” said Hamdan, whose “stand apart” menswear is manufactured in Los Angeles, and displayed online or at its showroom in Seattle.

Folds of Honor cites that of the one million-plus veterans who were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly nine out of 10 do not qualify for federal scholarship assistance. The non-profit provides annual educational scholarships to the military families of those who have been killed or disabled while in active duty. These help support private education tuition, tutoring and educational summer camps for children K-12, as well as higher education tuition assistance for spouses and children. Since its founding in 2007, the organization has awarded over 7,500 scholarships, including over 2,000 in 2014 alone.

Folds of Honor hosts an annual invitational golf tournament at the Patriot Golf Club in Owasso, Oklahoma on Memorial Day. The Patriot was voted “Best Private New Club” by “Golfweek” in 2011.



Gibran Hamdan entered the design world of golf style in 2010 after an illustrious six-year career as an NFL Quarterback. Alial Fital will be featured along with other selected labels in the upcoming June Grads/Dads issue of Greg Monteforte’s “Style Insider” column on the PGA Tour website.


Alial Fital Website: http://www.alialfital.com
Facebook: Alial Fital
Twitter: @alialfital

Folds of Honor Website
https://www.foldsofhonor.org/

The Patriot Club

PGA Tour
http://www.pgatour.com

Greg Monteforte
Twitter: @GolfThreadsBlog


#alialfital
#gibranhamdan
#memorialdaydonations
#foldsofhonor
#militaryscholarships
#patriotgolfclub

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

“ARRGH!" IS A TRUE TREASURE: 5 NOT-EASY LIFE LESSONS ON THE HIGH SEAS


Title: Arrgh!
Author: Stacey R. Campbell
Publisher: Green Darner Press
Date of Release: Nov. 1, 2014)
Genre: Middle Grade / Adventure
Publisher: Green Darner Press (November 1, 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-0988478442
Hard Cover * Paperback (282 pages)
http://www.amazon.com/Arrgh-Stacey-R-Campbell/dp/0988478447
Kindle (284 pages)
ASIN: B00MX7ATRM
http://www.amazon.com/ARRGH-Stacey-R-Campbell-ebook/dp/B00MX7ATRM



Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.
--Goethe

BOOK REVIEW BY MARLAN WARREN

Stacey R. Campbell's charming kidnapped-by-pirates/coming-of-age voyage, Arrgh!, is greater than the sum of its title.

This tale of a runaway orphan who finds himself forced onto a cargo ship by pirates posing as midshipmen takes off like a cannon shot, gathering momentum with inventive action until its gratifying conclusion.

Campbell deftly melds fantasy with reality; excitement with education; and classical storytelling with contemporary sensibility.

Thirteen year old Christopher has escaped an orphanage in the hope of finding family members. Ironically, after being nabbed off the street by two pirate thugs, he is passed off to the ship's captain as one of the pirate's relatives. The pirates threaten him with death if he does not pretend to be mute. Thus Christopher enters a world of repressed silence...broken only during moments when he can communicate with Leo the Attack-for-Hire Mouse who comes to his assistance as a kind of life coach. The trained and certified Leo sets about teaching him Five Life Lessons.

Thus begins Christopher's path to strength and growth.


Here, as in Peter Pan, there is a dividing line between adult and non-adult perceptions. When Christopher is befriended by the Captain's 12-year old daughter Lucy, she can also understand all the talking animals who come their way because she is not an adult. Later, when the duo find themselves stranded on an island with only animals for company, they treat it as a paradise where they can do whatever they need to do without adult interference.

The contemporary aspect of the story can best be seen in the bond that grows between Christopher and the spunky Lucy, which is born out of respect and caring. Unlike Peter Pan's Wendy, Lucy reveals herself to be more Tomboy than Housekeeper--and Christopher admires her pluck.

One major plot point stresses the value of reading, especially during a time when so many sailors were illiterate. Lucy first cracks the mystery of Christopher through observation. She sees that he can read books in her father's library. The clue of his literacy leads her to the truth.

Young readers will be enthralled by the vivid imagery that makes up the swashbuckling action sequences, as well as the evocative sights and smells of this time period. A Glossary of Nautical Terms opens the book, and lessons in how to deal with a vintage ship in a storm are believably depicted.


The story is constantly moving, venues shifting. There is little chance for reader claustrophobia as Christopher's odyssey whisks him from Norway to the Caribbean Islands. Dialogue is witty and snappy, especially in the animal's speech (there's a blushing bat who talks Rastafarian). All the "good guys" are complex and believable. The villains are nasty and often funny, in the grand "Arrgh" tradition.

There is violence, as well as dark moments, not unlike Treasure Island or Oliver Twist. However, victories are mostly achieved through The Power of the Plan. Of all the lessons, how to create and carry out a plan stands out as the most significant. Christopher, Lucy and Leo hop from Plan A to Plan B to Plan C--adapting as their fates shift--until the pirates are finally vanquished without (more) bloodshed.

When Fate determines Christopher must say good-bye to Lucy and stay on the island by himself to battle the pirates with animal assistance,  it pushes him towards his final growth spurt. Afterward, he voices his newfound truth: "I was never alone."

Ultimately Arrgh! gives young readers a close look at what makes "extended family" and the definition of "family." Perhaps these are enough spoilers for one review. How does it end?

Here's a hint: It involves Lesson Number Five. And it brought tears to my eyes.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stacey R. Campbell lives in the San Juan Islands with her husband and three daughters. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and a dyslexic writer that believes there is no such thing as a bad reader. She's the author of the young adult books Hush, Whisper and the highly acclaimed middle grade swashbuckling book Arrgh!

When not at her desk writing she can be found hiking, sailing, or skiing. She enjoys chocolate in any shape or size, too many cups of coffee and laughing (often too loudly, as her daughters say) with her friends and family.

Stacey is available for classroom visits via Skype and loves working with writers and readers of any age; especially those with learning disabilities like her own.

Learn more about Stacey R. Campbell and her up coming releases by visiting her website at http://www.staceyrcampbell.com.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

WHY I LOVE PR.COM - Press Release for Golf Threads - Gibran Hamdan Interview now up and running!

I just want to take a moment to be grateful for the amazing services of PR.com. This FREE press release distribution website (free has its limitations--photos, links, etc. do have fees) has been coming through for me with flying colors for years. Their Customer Service and Editorial Assistance has been quick and sympathetic to my needs. And they are very picky about what is NEWS. If it ain't news, it won't be found on their pages for media pickup. THANK YOU!

My press release to get the word out re the fantastic Golf Threads interview with the unique golf apparel designer, Gibran Hamdan, is up today at PR.com and already picked up by relevant newswires, including the BBC Record. Check it out! #ilovepr.com #alialfital #golfthreadsblog #golfstylerocks #pr.com


Golf Threads Interview: Alial Fital’s "Artisanal Fashion Designer" Gibran Hamdan: "I Want to be True to Myself"


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

CALLING ALL GOLFERS! Golf Threads Interview with Alial Fital's "Artisanal Fashion Designer" Gibran Hamdan: "I WANT TO BE TRUE TO MYSELF"



This week, Greg Monteforte's Golf Threads Blog features an interview with Seattle-based Alial Fital menswear designer Gibran Hamdan. The former NFL football player discusses his “American Made Artisanal Fashion” approach and his philosophy behind AF’s “Stand Apart Movement.” Reprinted here with Monteforte's permission. For more Golf Threads, check out: 



Even before starting GolfThreads, I had been a fan of Gibran Hamdan and his creative work at Alial Fital.

Hamdan’s story is as unique as his designs. After a six-year career as an NFL quarterback, including a stint with my beloved Washington Redskins, Gibran traded his shoulder pads and helmet for a sewing needle and fabric. He taught himself how to make patterns and then how to sew using his wife Jenny’s sewing machine. Making his own dress shirts, Gibran’s friends started requesting the carefully designed and custom-made polos for themselves, which led him to start Alial Fital in 2010.



GolfThreads: You essentially traded a playbook for a sketchpad. How does an NFL quarterback transition to a fashion designer?

Gibran Hamdan: I was in such a fortunate position after my career ended to have freedom. I wasn’t set for life, but there was enough cash available to have a runway to explore what I wanted to do. Although I considered many avenues I leaned on what I felt were my best skills and talents. I felt like I had a unique design perspective. I am creative and am drawn to the artistic side of things.

A key motivation was to never be defined by any one thing in my life. One of the things I am most proud of 5 years into Alial Fital, most people I meet don’t know that I ever played in the NFL. It’s most likely because I had such an unheralded career. But to be known for doing something else well brings me joy.



GT: At a time when professionals and amateurs alike are turning to day-glow colors and aggressive patterns in an effort to stand out, you’ve started the Stand Apart Movement. What’s the difference between standing out and standing apart?

GH: This is a great question. Our Stand Apart movement is less about the brand & the products we are producing & more about our fans & customers.

As you mentioned there is an angle where brands are designing to stand out. Doing so puts the focus on the product. How can we make something that will stand out? Set us apart and thus increase profits.

Our Stand Apart movement aims to have men confidently & independently decide what THEY want to wear. How THEY want to dress. If that’s wearing Alial Fital, then great – if not that’s fine too. It’s not about control, marketing, or the bottom line. It’s about conveying a message that I believe in. First I want to be an authentic person who is true to myself. I enjoy hanging out with authentic people. I want to drive potential customers & anyone that sees our brand to be authentic to themselves and their own style.

The Stand Apart movement is a success anytime a gentleman thinks about their personal style choices, decides how to move forward with putting his wardrobe together, and finally doesn’t care what anyone in the outside world thinks.


GT: You’ve said that 7 out of 10 men won’t wear your clothes, and but the other 3 will buy everything you do. What’s the profile of an Alial Fital customer? Why do your designs speak to them?

GH: You’re right – that was a statement that I heard from one of our few wholesale accounts. We’re not for everyone – that is ok with me. The goal is to be respected by all that see the brand and loved by a loyal few who wear the brand.

I think the Stand Apart movement is a direct tie in to who the Alial Fital customer is. First – it’s not easy to find us. We are the smallest of small. AF gentlemen find us in the search for what can’t be found with the mass-produced and imported garments on the market. The desire to search for UNIQUE is a big 1st step in identifying our loyal Ambassador.

The Alial Fital man appreciates the American Made aspect of our brand. Once again they appreciate that it is and always has been authentic to how we do things. The company is built to make 100 of each style in Los Angeles – not 10,000 of each style in China. They like that and appreciate it.

The Alial Fital man is honest – he appreciates the transparency & small business qualities of my brand. The fact that my Instagram feed is littered with pictures of my son Pendleton and my wife Jenny resonates with him. I know this because trust me I’ve heard from plenty of gents that complain about seeing my family on the AF Instagram account – it’s crazy.



GT: You take a lot of pride in the fact that Alial Fital apparel is made in the U.S. and offered at the same price point as imported apparel from other brands. What benefits will customers see in American made apparel?

GH: Let me first say – there are plenty of brands that produce terrific apparel overseas. IMHO – High quality garments have less to do with the location of production. High quality garments are a result of using the best materials and diligent hands.

First our American Made garments have to abide by US laws and I can guarantee you a 12 year old is not sewing them in a sweatshop.

Domestic production allows me to design in smaller batches with shorter lead times. The result is the freedom to produce more unique styles. Customers love that only 100 people in the world will ever own one of our limited edition designs. I couldn’t do that producing overseas.

GT: Bo Van Pelt has worn Alial Fital for several years on the PGA Tour. Last year you added Tour player Jim Renner to the team. How do their personal styles mesh with your design philosophies?
GH: With regards to BVP – our style resonated with him from day 1. He was first an AF customer and the sponsorship followed. He loves the American Made aspect – that has always meant a lot with him. As I think about it he may be the epitome of the Stand Apart movement. When we first started working together past images of him on the course conveyed a subdued style.

At some point he came into his own and stated defining his own style. Making his own mind up about what he liked. It just so happens that we were the brand that captured his eye when he was ready to make the move. I will always be grateful for that.



A perfect example is in our 1st year together I helped pick out his outfit for every round. As our relationship grew I realized it was a detriment to his style expression and I started doing less and less of it. Today, for the most part he is matching his tournament attire together on his own.

Jim is drawn to brand for other reasons. I think he loves our fit. He loves the performance aspect of things. He’s less keen on some of our more innovative styles and more apt to stick to our tamer designs. Again, Jim is a true reflection of the Stand Apart movement. We check the boxes that matter to Jim and that’s why he wears us.

GT: You recently converted an old dentist office into an ultra-chic showroom. What can customers expect when they make an appointment to visit the showroom?
GH: First to be offered something to drink. I’m focused on making their life easier and giving them the direction and support they need to find their own style. I’m proud of the space and so far everyone that has visited ends up making another trip. I take it as a sign we are doing something right.

GT: Unlike most apparel brands, you are constantly releasing new pieces throughout the year. How important is it to offer fresh designs throughout the year, rather than just in the spring and fall?
GH: I call it Artisanal fashion. Staying true to our limited edition nature is paramount to everything we do. I have fun designing – it’s one of the favorite aspects of my job. The intention is to design on a whim, free from traditional apparel market norms. I’ve never been to a trade show and not because there wouldn’t be value in the exposure. It doesn’t fit our production model to focus on the mass wholesale market.

I guard our model and “Artisanal” American Made aspect of the brand tightly. An added bonus to this model is that it enables me to innovate with less pressure. I enjoy being the tip of the spear. Trust me I’ve had tons of misses with our designs. Many of which may prove to have been ahead of their time and not suitable for today’s market.

If I adopted the traditional model of a few collections a year – produced in large quantities AF may not have survived those mistakes. This is a large issue in the apparel business. Many terrific designers in the apparel industry feel the pressure of the bottom line. Make no mistake I grapple with it as well. My model reduces the pressure significantly. The design can come first. I can take the risk.

Many must play it safe when designing. Hence you see a lot of the same old same old – because it’s more apt to sell quickly.

GT: Your two newest collections are the Pop Art and the Masters Collections. Where did you pull inspiration from for these collections?

GH: The Pop Art series was in fact inspired by my favorite Art genre. The Pop Art movement has always resonated with me. It always has been a source of inspiration for me. This was the first time specific pieces by prominent artists served as inspiration.

The Masters collection is a grouping of many different thoughts I’ve collected in the past months. I am proud of our product pages and how thorough we dive into the inspiration for each design.

GT: Recently, you expanded your product line to include pants, which have a very modern silhouette and an effortless look that can go just about anywhere. Talk a little bit about the pants and the design process.

GH: Much like the process that led me to our dress polo shirt, the pants were born out of necessity. I was a Bonobos customer for a long time before making the Alial Fital pant. Their Straight fit was good around the thighs but too baggy past the knee. Their Slim fit was too tight in the thigh but just right past the knee. I wanted a better fitting pant for me – so I made them. This initial pattern is for men that have the same problem I do. They want room in the thigh and a trimmer fit past the knee.

So far the response has been solid. Those that buy them and like the fit end up buying a bunch. Those that don’t like the fit return them for a full refund. That’s how we roll.

It’s a constant process to find new and innovative fabrics for American Made production. A weakness of my model is new products are always difficult because sourcing can be an issue. There are so few of us producing garments here. Many sourcing options just exist close to countries that have a high volume of production these days.



GT: You have built a loyal customer base by sending hand-written thank you notes with every order, rewarding your best customers with watches and soliciting feedback on new designs. How has engaging with your customers and rewarding them helped to build the Alial Fital brand?
GH: Authenticity has been the key to engaging our customers and growing the brand. I’ve always written the thank you notes. I am not the first to do it and won’t be the last. I don’t have a better explanation other than – it’s just what I do.

It’s so difficult for a small business to earn a new customer. To pull someone away from a Nike, Adidas, or Peter Millar is no small feat. Those are behemoth brands. They couldn’t write handwritten thank you cards if they wanted to.

If someone is willing to give me a shot, I am truly humbled and honored. I need to thank them and let them know how important that order was.

When it’s boiled down it’s pretty simple. My job & our brand depends on a small amount of customers compared to our competition. When a customer supports us – they are putting food on my family’s table. That deserves the best I can give them. That deserves the best product I can produce. That deserves responding to their emails quickly and taking care of them.

It just so happens out of this necessity I experience a huge value add to my brand. There is such a low expectancy with regards to service these days. It should come as no surprise that Humans appreciate a kind and understanding business. The key is the authenticity of it. People realize it’s not an act. It’s just in the Alial Fital DNA.

With regards to the Alial Fital Ambassadors Club and how I rewarded our Top 11 customers dedication last year with American Made watches – when certain customers own over 40 – 50 of a brands designs, or pump you up to everyone they know, or send your son a gift for his birthday don’t you think they deserve something awesome? I do.

Those that know us well understand we are a big family. I deliver value to our Ambassadors and they deliver value back to me. That’s Alial Fital in a nutshell. We’re just trading value back and forth.










Alial Fital Website: http://www.alialfital.com
Twitter: +Gibran Hamdan
Contact: Gibran@alialfital.com









Monday, April 20, 2015

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books' Kiddies Strike Poses with I AM NOT SELLING MY TOOTH!

KIDS STRIKE POSES AT THE 2015 L.A. FESTIVAL OF BOOKS!



This past weekend at the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on the USC Campus, adults and kids had the time of their lives learning and seeing and doing and playing and listening to fun stuff that ignites our imaginations while directly speaking to our common experiences. 

On Sunday, I visited as the Ambassador from Kelli and Kelly Books for Kids to gift a few lucky kids with I Am NOT Selling My Tooth! and snap them holding this picture book that respects children's need to make their own decisions about how to handle changes that come with growing up.

I also handed out these charming bookmarks designed by the book's illustrator and co-publisher Kelly Hawkins (Kelli Nielsen is the author and co-publisher). All parents gratefully received them with a look that said, "You mean I don't have to pay for it?"


Children's Book Author Scott Farrar and Family

JULIET






Friday, April 10, 2015

NFL Quarterback-Turned-Designer Gibran Hamdan honors Augusta National with Masters Inspired Collection by Alial Fital: “It’s about standing out.”



Summary: For the month of April only, Seattle-based "artisanal designer" Gibran Hamdan, whose Alial Fital menswear tag line is “Stand Apart,” launched his 2015 Masters Inspired Collection of limited edition high-style polo shirts in honor of the Augusta National that is currently in full swing.

Website | http://www.alialfital.com
Contact  | gibran@alialfital.com
Facebook | Alial Fital
Twitter    | @alialfital
Publicist  | Marlan Warren

Gibran Hamdan 
     “When they go, they’re gone,” said Seattle-based designer, Gibran Hamdan, referring to the limited edition high-styled polo shirts he regularly rolls out under his menswear label, Alial Fital. 
The former NFL Quarterback usually offers 100 of a newly designed style each week on his website. 
“Sometimes I might see a particular stripe on a car and it can end up on a shirt the next day,” Hamdan said.

     This month the eclectic designer, whose Alial Fital tag line is “Stand Apart,” bowed to the requests of loyal customers and in honor of the Augusta National that is currently in full swing, launched a follow-up to his successful 2013 Masters Inspired Collection for April only.

     "The 2013 Masters Collection sold out incredibly,” said Hamdan. "Alial Fital was sponsoring golf pro Bo Van Pelt who wore the shirts in the PGA Tour.”
Bo Van Pelt wins Perth International
    What is the key to designing the 2015 Masters Inspired Collection?

     "I had to toe the line between upholding the tradition that is Augusta National yet interject my Alial Fital perspective and uniqueness,” explained Hamdan. “I drew inspiration from styles that ranged from Michael Jordan's game-winning jumper for North Carolina to a James Bond tuxedo. Then blended them into a cohesive unit.”
2015 Masters Inspired AF Shirt
     Alial Fital’s styles may be limited in number, but their scope is wide. Hamdan recently honored his football roots with “The Spirit” polo—inspired by the Tennessee Titans. Last month Alial Fital featured a new style for its “pop art” Avant Garde series. What’s coming up are designs inspired by the Kentucky Derby and Wimbledon—events leading up to the June 15 Chambers Bay U.S. Open (near Tacoma, Wash.).

     “Our vertically integrated American Made production allows us to offer limited editions,” said Hamdan. “The customer gets a one-of-a-kind look, and it never lets me get bored or rest on my laurels.”


Alial Fital Ambassador Keith Lewis
     While the “Alial Fital” name may sound a tad “exotic” to American ears, Hamdan and his clothing line are all American. Born in San Diego, he graduated from Indiana University, and was the first person of Pakistani descent to play in the National Football League. “Alial Fital is actually my parents names spelled backwards,” he explained.

     Hamdan decided not to take the usual sportscaster route when he retired from football; and instead sat down at his wife’s sewing machine with his head brimming with ideas—and taught himself to sew. He shrugs off the Fashion Designer job description, preferring “Artisanal Designer.”

     Dictionary.com defines artisanal as Pertaining to or noting a high-quality or distinctive product made in small quantities, usually by hand or using traditional methods.


AF Pop Art-Inspired Polos

     “One man bought 75 at one time,” Hamdan said. “These designs are not for everybody. The Stand Apart Movement is not about sticking out, it’s about standing out.”


Want to know more?


ALIAL FITAL ON YOUTUBE: MADE IN THE USA


ALIAL FITAL ON VIMEO https://vimeo.com/90577654


#alialfital
#gibranhamdan
#madeintheusa
#PGATourFashion
#Funpolos
#AugustaNational
#innovativemenswear
#popartfashion
#artisanaldesigner







Wednesday, April 1, 2015

HOW I NEARLY KILLED MYSELF ON THE WORST L.A. SIDEWALK: City allocates billions today to repair.

Right Hand

On December 26, the day after Christmas, while on an early morning walk with a friend, I tripped on the jagged edge of cement on an L.A. sidewalk that was pushed up at a sharp angle by huge roots of what I believe to be a trio of very old and beautiful carob trees. I took some pictures which I'll post soon. You can view them on the webpage for KABC. 

I just found the interview I did with Tom Perumean that was broadcast on KABC. Here's the link:


My left wrist had a hairline fracture and my right wrist had also sustained injury. Below is the bloody proof of the havoc this fall wreaked. I was very fortunate because the healing was relatively rapid; and although I fell face forward, my hands caught the impact--not my face.

I called the City Department that handles this and they immediately sent out employees to evaluate the situation and then to cut down two of the worst offending trees. They left a third intact. I was really sorry to see them cut down to stumps. 

All that was left were stumps and the tree roots themselves. The sidewalk cracks were filled with useless asphalt, leaving the sharp and treacherous angles of the walkway. I hope that is soon fixed.

Left wrist

Tom Perumean just sent me this news via Facebook:

"MARLAN: LA City settles sidewalk lawsuit! One billion dollars to fix 11,000 miles of sidewalks in LA. Broken sidewalks and curb ramps are coming. 30 year fix program!"

Good news. 

I did not file a claim. It seemed like more trouble than it might be worth. The hands and wrists are okay now. The trauma remains. 

May it not happen to anyone again in this town.



Bloody Fingertip







Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A FRESH SPIN ON A WAGON TRAIN TALE: "THE NECESSARY BRIDE"



Title: The Necessary Bride
Author: Patsy Frost
Publisher: Create Space
ISBN-13: 978-1501069628
Genre: Historical Women’s Fiction
Paperback  374 pages    Kindle E-Book
Available at Amazon:


“Can a lady like you watch livestock and people fall down and die of thirst in the desert, the flies swarming on the sun-bloated carcasses and smell the stench of ‘em after they bust open?”—The Necessary Bride

Rape, forced marriage, death by childbirth and the repressive status of women in Early America take center stage in Patsy Frost’s historical romantic masterpiece, The Necessary Bride. As the saga draws to a close, its heroine proclaims that if she had not run away to seek her fortune in California, her life as a Maryland “lady” would have been “proper” and “dull” (i.e., dull when the vicious Baltimore males weren’t treating her like chattel). Frost puts a fresh spin on an old story about wagon train travel in the Old West by letting us view it through this adventurous young woman’s eyes—urging us to feel what she feels in her heart as she gradually builds a new life that is built on trust and mutual respect with a man who is not of her culture or race.

This painstakingly crafted tale brings the smells and tastes and emotions of that time into bold relief through meticulously detailed scenes of pioneer life. The author also deftly manages multiple points of view to provide character insights that keep even the villains from coming off as one-dimensional. Frost subtly alters reader perceptions by loosening the writing style from narration-heavy, archaic language to a looser, more contemporary tone when this bold young seeker finally reaches her destination and her destiny.

Seamless lively action carries the story, making it a fun page turner. The last line portends a sequel. One can only hope there is one soon, and also a film.

Very impressive first novel!





Thursday, March 26, 2015

New Book Review: "For those who have loved passionately..."




Title: Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged [All’s Not Fair in Love or War]
Author: Marlan Warren
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Kindle E-Book Only: 332 pages
Publisher: Roadmap Girl Publications
Pub. Date: Feb. 23, 2015
ASIN: B00TYKV5ZG
Author Contact: memoircity at gmail
Facebook: Marlan Warren, Author
E-Book Available on Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TYKV5ZG

New Book Review by Barbara Tira!
     When I found "Roadmaps," I put down the best-seller-turned-movie I was reading at the time, so I could savor Ms. Warren's story until the very end. As a longtime Los Angeleno, I was immediately drawn back into the lifestyle, loves, and struggles in the expansive, diverse, and incomparable Los Angeles of 20 years ago, the likes of which is just a memory today. But whose emotions, challenges, and successes remain Universal.
     This novel/memoir is for anyone who has ever known the epitome of joy and the profound depths of despair. For those who have loved passionately, and for those whose hearts have been trampled to shreds. For those who have found, or for those who are still seeking the strength and spirit to rise again.

     I eagerly await the sequel! I want more!!!!!
=====================================================
Barbara Tira is the author of the upcoming memoir:
DETOUR: MY JOURNEY FROM CATHOLIC SCHOOL TO IMPRISONMENT TO FREEDOM.




Monday, March 23, 2015

Remembering Yuri: Treasuring Links of Friendship


Opening Night of "Bits of Paradise" at The Marsh Theater, San Francisco (Nov. 2008): Marlan Warren (L); Yuri Kochiyama (M); Ruth Ishizaki (R); Photo by Victoria Yang

I wrote the following memorial last year when activist and justice crusader Yuri Kochiyama "made her transition" from this mundane world to whatever glory no doubt awaited her in the next. I had posted it on my Open Salon blog, "Dancing in the Experience Lane," because that blog seemed to get the most attention of all my blogs. However, with the sad news that Open Salon has shut down its operation, I re-print it here. For more info on the documentary-in-progress that I've been working on since Dec. '08, please visit http://www.yurikochiyamafilm.net.






 "To never break one link of friendship, regardless of the time or distance that separates me from that friend, even if that friendship is only a memory stored away in my heart and mind."--Yuri's Creed

Yesterday I did not listen to the radio or TV. It was a busy day full of Light and people carrying Light. I ended up at a Buddhist Temple in L.A.'s Chinatown which is dedicated to a Sea Goddess, and sat for hours with my friend whom I call "Tiger" who was spending time with a couple friends. One was a filmmaker who had not met Yuri Kochiyama personally but admires her, and we spent an hour or so talking about my Crusaders film project that I began shooting at the end of 2008, and that is now in need of funds for post-production. It was not until this morning, June 3, that I woke up at 4 a.m. and saw a message on my phone that Yuri (aka "Mary Nakahara") had died in her sleep yesterday afternoon. Around the time that I was walking into the temple to light incense and send prayers for loved ones.
I have never met anyone else as egoless as this woman.

Yuri had that rare gift--like that old saying "The charming woman is the one who finds ME charming," she would light up at the sight of you and say things like, "Oh how is the acting going? I thought you did such wonderful acting in that play!" As she did to one actor who was in "Bits of Paradise" (Jean Franco) when he saw her again during the shoot we did all day in her room at the San Pedro Hotel. When Jean told her that he was in "Milk," Yuri cried, "Oh they made a movie about Harvey Milk! I must go see it!" And when Jean showed her a clipping from a paper with a photo showing him in the crowd scene with Sean Penn, Yuri said, "Oh! That yellow just sets you off!"
I had the good fortune to meet Yuri when she was 87 years old; at a time when all that she had done and lived through had blended into the layered personality that was hers and hers alone.
She asked me to come the day before the shoot and help her organize her papers so they could be easily put aside in the tiny room, and not clutter up our visuals: "Bring red folders and green folders and yellow folders..." and she requested colored tabs and rubber bands.
Yuri was writing to 200 political prisoners at the time (the T-shirt she wore for our interview says "Free Mumia" on it). And when I arrived to help her, she quickly assigned me the role of "assistant" and I had the pleasure of observing her still-sharp mind in action as she went through the voluminous mail so we could file it.
 "Oh I haven't read this one yet...It goes in that pile with the red folder...."
And when we started shooting the next day, I wasn't sure if the sound equipment we brought would be adequate. I muttered, "Maybe we'll get lucky." Right there on camera, Yuri says sharply, but not unkindly: "Oh it's not a matter of LUCK, is it?" or words to that effect.

Yuri was a woman who carved her own swath from Day One. It has always been my intention to cover the WOMAN rather than the political activist (which she most certainly was so that is of course infused in every frame). Since that day in 2001 when I happened to read the first of her letters in The Crusaders Scrapbook in the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo, I have wished I could grow up to be Yuri Kochiyama (to paraphrase the Blue Scholars terrific song title). In other words, I wanted to be able to roll with the punches the way she had, and not be depressed by oppression and loss. Yuri lost her father to FBI interrogation right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and soon found herself in the Santa Anita Assembly Center (aka "first concentration camp in Southern California where they held law-abiding Japanese American citizens because they were of Japanese heritage).

"Hello Boys" one of her cheerful missives intended for "any soldier in need of a letter" starts out, "Are we bothering you for the first time or the fortieth?" Cartoons, jokes ("I said, 'Bring in all the jokes you can find," she tells me during the interview when she's looking at a copy of one of her pamphlets.
When World War II ended, her "intended." Bill Kochiyama sent her a telegram warning her that he was alive but broke with no prospects. Not much to build a future on, so if she wanted out. I don't have the words in front of me right now, but she sent him a telegram back telling him that they would have love, adventure and each other.

Yuri Kochiyama and Jean Franco at her 88th birthday bash (San Francisco); 
Photo by Marlan Warren 
Yuri Kochiyama was born "Mary Nakahara." In the interview, I asked her what Mary would think of Yuri. She answered, "Two different people. Totally!"

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