If this is your first time in my site, welcome! Chateau Du Mer is a beach resort with a beach house and conference Hall. The beach house could now accommodate 10 guests, six in the main floor and four in the first floor( air conditioned room). In addition, you can now reserve your vacation dates ahead and pay the rental fees via PayPal. I hope to see you soon in Marinduque- Home of the Morions and Heart of the Philippines. The photo above was taken during our first Garden Wedding ceremony at The Chateau Du Mer Gardens. You can now read the national and international news in this blog at the right side bar. I have also posted my favorite Filipino and American dishes and recipes in this site. Some of the photos and videos on this site, I do not own, but I have no intention on the infringement of your copyrights!

Marinduque Mainland from Tres Reyes Islands

Marinduque Mainland from Tres Reyes Islands
View of Marinduque Mainland from Tres Reyes Islands-Click on photo to link to Marinduque Awaits You

Friday, September 30, 2011

Chinese-American Violinist Plays Philippine Kundiman

Stephen Shey-Chinese-American Violinist

This world renowned ambassador of Philippine Kundiman music is NOT Filipino.... violinist virtuoso Stephen Shey is Chinese-American yet he plays a suite of classical Filipino music in his concerts around the world.

At 18, Stephen Y.S. Shey, Chinese American violinist, made his international debut in Manila, Philippines at the James B. Reuter Theater, St. Paul University. He has just returned from a 3-week, 8-city concert tour in China with Maestro Cheung Chau's Orchestra. At the invitation of the Philippine Ambassador of the Nordic States in 2005, he performed at The Music Museum in Stockholm, Sweden. Shey’s signature repertoire of Philippine Kundimans has made him the only concert artist who has recognized the passionate and lyrical romanticism conveyed by Philippine classical composers and pays tribute to them in full length kundiman concerts. In 2007, he and pianist Kanako Nishikawa performed at the Zipper Concert Hall in Los Angeles in a concert entitled "Passion. Confession. Kundiman". In 2004, at the invitation of the Philippine Ambassador Albert del Rosario, he serenaded the Filipino veterans at the World War II Memorial dedication ceremony in Washington, D.C. At 15, he gave a concert at the Library of Congress that featured classical arrangements of folk music from various Asian countries. In the past 3 years, Shey has attended workshops and music festivals in Poznan, Poland, Stamford, England, Cummington, Mass., Fryeberg, Maine, Stevens Point, Wis., and Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Shey is studying under Prof. Mark Lakirovich. His primary teachers include Eric Rosenblith, Dana Mazurkevich, Aideen Zeitlin, and Blanka Bednarz.

Top Comments
1.You are Stephen Shey. Of all the people you have found a way of expressing the unspoken passion in the heart of every Filipino worthy of being called as a Filipino. Kundiman is the music of a generation who are now in the twilight of their lives. But hearing the interpretation of Stephen, something stokes the fire in my belly. I am a Filipino and his music reminds me that I have a rich culture and I will have to nurture and cherish it. Bravo Stephen Shey, your music is food to my soul.

2. He plays Kundiman and wears Barong...whoever you are, I am proud of you, young man.

Do you know of a Filipino-American violinist playing Kundiman?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Meditation by Thais

Time for some classical and relaxing music.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Filipino Women Withhold Sex for Peace

This was in the news last week, just in case you have not read it!

Are you a Filipino woman displaced by separatist fighting, and unable to sell your goods at market thanks to a closed-down road? Why not band together with your fellow woman at the sewing cooperative and withhold sex from your husbands until they stop fighting and re-open the road? It worked for the women of Dado, according to the UN's refugee agency. We'd call it a novel solution.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Filipinos are Special

I received the following from e-mail this week.

Why is the Filipino Special?

1.Filipinos are brown. Their color is at the center of human racial strains. This point is not an attempt at racism, but just for many Filipinos to realize that our color should not be a source of or reason for an inferiority complex. While we pine for a fair complexion, white people are religiously tanning themselves, under the sun or artificial light, to approximate the Filipino complexion.

2.Filipinos are a touching people. We have lots of love and are not afraid to show it. We almost inevitably create human chains with our perennial akbay (putting an arm around another's shoulder), hawak (hold), yakap (embrace), himas (caressing stroke), kalabit (touching with the tip of the finger), kalong (sitting on someone else's lap), etc. We are always reaching out, always seeking interconnection.

3.Filipinos are linguists. Put a Filipino in any city, any town around the world. Give him a few months or even weeks and he will speak the local language there. Filipinos are adept at learning and speaking languages. In fact, it is not uncommon for Filipinos to speak at least three: his own local dialect, Filipino, and English. Of course, a lot speak an added language, be it Chinese, Spanish or, if he works abroad, the language of his host country. In addition, Tagalog is not 'sexist.' While many 'conscious' and 'enlightened' people of today are just by now striving to be 'politically correct' with their language and, in the process, bend to absurd depths in coining 'gender sensitive' words, Tagalog has, since time immemorial, evolved gender-neutral words like asawa (husband or wife), anak (son or daughter), magulang (father or mother), kapatid (brother or sister), biyenan (father-in-law or mother-in-law), manugang (son or daughter-in-law), bayani (hero or heroine), etc. Our languages and dialects are advanced and, indeed, sophisticated!

4.Filipinos are groupists. We love human interaction and company. We always surround ourselves with people and we hover over them, too. According to Dr. Patricia Licuanan, a psychologist from Ateneo and Miriam College, an average Filipino would have and know at least 300 relatives. At work, we live bayanihan (mutual help); at play, we want a kalaro (playmate) more than laruan (toy). At socials, our invitations are open and it is more common even for guests to invite and bring in other guests. In transit, we do not want to be separated from our group. So what do we do when there is no more space in a vehicle? Kalung-kalong! (Sitting on one another). No one would ever suggest splitting a group and wait for another vehicle with more space!

5.Filipinos are weavers. One look at our baskets, mats, clothes, and other crafts will reveal the skill of the Filipino weaver and his inclination to weaving. This art is a metaphor of the Filipino trait. We are social weavers. We weave theirs into ours that we all become parts of one another. We place a lot of premium on pakikisama (getting along) and pakikipagkapwa (relating). Two of the worst labels, walang pakikipagkapwa (inability to relate), will be avoided by the Filipino at almost any cost. We love to blend and harmonize with people, we like to include them in our 'tribe,' our 'family'- and we like to be included in other people's families, too. Therefore we call our friend's mother nanay or mommy; we call a friend's sister ate (eldest sister), and so on. We even call strangers tia/tita (aunt) or tio/tito (uncle), tatang (grandfather), etc. So extensive is our social openness and interrelations that we have specific title for extended relations like hipag (sister-in-law's spouse), balae (child-in-law' s parents), inaanak (godchild), ninong/ninang (godparents) kinakapatid (godparent's child), etc.

6.In addition, we have the profound 'ka' institution, loosely translated as 'equal to the same kind' as in kasama (of the same company), kaisa (of the same cause), kapanalig (of the same belief), etc. In our social fiber, we treat other people as co-equals. Filipinos, because of their social 'weaving' traditions, make for excellent team workers.

7.Filipinos are adventurers. We have a tradition of separation. Our myths and legends speak of heroes and heroines who almost always get separated from their families and loved ones and are taken by circumstances to far-away lands where they find wealth or power. Our Spanish colonial history is filled with separations caused by the reduction (hamleting), and the forced migration to build towns, churches, fortresses or galleons. American occupation enlarged the space of Filipino wandering, including America, and there is documented evidence of Filipino presence in America as far back as 1587. Now, Filipinos compose the world's largest population of overseas workers, populating and sometimes 'threshing' major capitals, minor towns and even remote villages around the world. Filipino adventurism has made us today's citizens of the world, bringing the bagoong (salty shrimp paste), pansit (sautéed noodles), siopao (meat-filled dough), kare-kare (peanut-flavored dish), balut (unhatched duck egg), and adobo (meat vinaigrette), including the tabo (ladle) and tsinelas (slippers) all over the world.

8.Filipinos are excellent at adjustments and improvisation, managing to recreate their home, or to feel at home anywhere. Filipinos have pakiramdam (deep feeling/discernment). We know how to feel what others feel, sometimes even anticipate what they will feel. Being manhid (dense) is one of the worst labels anyone could get and will therefore, avoid at all cost. We know when a guest is hungry though the insistence on being full is assured. We can tell if people are lovers even if they are miles apart. We know if a person is offended though he may purposely smile. We know because we feel. In our pakikipagkapwa (relating), we get not only to wear another man's shoe but also his heart.

9. We have a superbly developed and honored gift of discernment, making us excellent leaders, counselors, and go-betweens.

10.Filipinos are very spiritual. We are transcendent. We transcend the physical world, see the unseen and hear the unheard. We have a deep sense of kaba (premonition) and kutob (hunch). A Filipino wife will instinctively feel her husband or child is going astray, whether or not telltale signs present themselves. Filipino spirituality makes him invoke divine presence or intervention at nearly every bend of his journey. Rightly or wrongly, Filipinos are almost always acknowledging, invoking or driving away spirits into and from their lives. Seemingly trivial or even incoherent events can take on spiritual significance and will be given such space or consideration.

11.The Filipino has a sophisticated, developed pakiramdam. The Filipino, though becoming more and more modern (hence, materialistic) is still very spiritual in essence. This inherent and deep spirituality makes the Filipino, once correctly Christianized, a major exponent of the faith.

12. Filipinos are timeless. Despite the nearly half-a-millennium encroachment of the western clock into our lives, Filipinos-unless on very formal or official functions-still measure time not with hours and minutes but with feeling. This style is ingrained deep in our psyche. Our time is diffused, not framed. Our appointments are defined by umaga (morning), tanghali (noon), hapon (afternoon), or gabi (evening). Our most exact time reference is probably katanghaliang- tapat (high noon), which still allows many minutes of leeway. That is a how Filipino meeting and occasions are timed: there is really no definite time. A Filipino event has no clear-cut beginning nor ending. We have a fiesta, but there is visperas (eve), a day after the fiesta is still considered a good time to visit. The Filipino Christmas is not confined to December 25th; it somehow begins months before December and extends up to the first days of January.

13. Filipinos are Spaceless. As in the concept of time, the Filipino concept of space is not numerical. We will not usually express expanse of space with miles or kilometers but with feelings in how we say malayo (far) or malapit (near). Alongside with numberlessness, Filipino space is also boundless. Indigenous culture did not divide land into private lots but kept it open for all to partake of its abundance. The Filipino has avidly remained 'spaceless' in many ways. The interior of the bahay-kubo (hut) can easily become receiving room, sleeping room, kitchen, dining room, chapel, wake parlor, etc. Depending on the time of the day or the needs of the moment. The same is true with the bahay na bato (stone house). Space just flows into the next space that overhead arches of filigree may only faintly suggest the divisions between the sala, caida, comedor, or vilada. In much the same way, Filipino concept of space can be so diffused that one 's party may creep into and actually expropriate the street! A family business like a sari-sari store or talyer may extend to the sidewalk and street. Provincial folks dry palayan (rice grain) on the highways!

14.Religious groups of various persuasions habitually and matter-of-factly commandeer streets for processions and parades. It is not uncommon to close a street to accommodate private functions, Filipinos eat. sleep, chat, socialize, quarrel, even urinate, or nearly everywhere or just anywhere! 'Spacelessness, ' in the face of modern, especially urban life, can be unlawful and may really be counter-productive. On the other hand, Filipino spacelessness, when viewed from his context, is just another manifestation of his spiritually and communal values. Adapted well to today's context, which may mean unstoppable urbanization, Filipino spacelessness may even be the answer and counter balance to humanity's greed, selfishness and isolation.

15.So what makes the Filipino special? Brown, spiritual, timeless, spaceless, linguists, groupists, weavers, adventurers; seldom do all these profound qualities find personification in a people. Filipinos should allow - and should be allowed to contribute their special traits to the worldwide community of men - ah. . . but first, they should know, like & love themselves.

Comments anyone?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Marooned Without You

I love this song!

Marooned Without You.
Written by John Patrick Shanley.
Music by Georges Delerue.

Why is my heart marooned without you
The sun goes down
My dreams begin their refrain
I call to whatever holds you
My beloved
I wait and I wait

Why is my heart marooned without you
A tiny light upon the sea
My heart is so afraid
You have broken away
Tell me, darling, I pray
You will come to me soon

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cloyne Court- Excerpt 12

Lesbianism and Art- From artgazine.com
Cloyne Court, Episode Twelve
By Dodie Katague
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Rated "R" by the Author.

Based on a true story that took place in Berkeley, California in the late 1970s.


I made eye contact with the nearest one and introduced myself across the side of the sofa arm. “Hi, I’m Derek.”
“Get lost, dickhead!’

“Is this the house meeting?”

“Ass, what do I look like, the agenda Nazi?”

“Well, now that you mention it.”

“Fuck off, prick.”

Why were they angry around men? Was it a mating ritual that identified them to other lesbians? Was there some secret phrase or password that would let me into their inner circle of understanding? I imagined the conversation.

“See that man seated over there?”

“You mean that prick?”

“Yeah, I’m a dyke too. Let’s go to my room and read some Camille Paglia." (wink)

I would have been honored to have a lesbian woman as my friend. It would have been so edgy. So racy. So Berkeley. Think of the special bonding conversations we could have. “See that woman there. She’s hot. I’d like to get into her pants!”

“Me too.”

I didn’t care whom they had sex with. I only cared about whom I had sex with. Learning to figure out whether a woman was interested in men was just another hurdle that stood between me and losing my virginity.

Mary Jewell called the meeting to order. Her long peasant sundress hid her rubenesque body. She glanced at me and looked surprised. “Ok, let’s start the meeting. We have a speaker tonight, but before we get to that, Carrie wanted to voice a concern. Carrie.”

Carrie was the butch woman with the short-cropped haircut I had spoken to earlier. “I am concerned about the oppressive presence here tonight. I do not feel I can adequately value or express my views when there are intruders among us.”

I was wondering whom she was referring too, when Mary looked at me and asked me to introduce myself. I stood. “I’m Derek Marston. I’m pleased to meet all of you. I moved into the house this morning. I’m new to the co-op system and Berkeley. I’m here to learn new things and try new experiences…”

I was interrupted by a voice from the back of the room. “It goes against custom to have you here.”

Before I could respond, a verbal sparring debate began. “Custom is what has oppressed women for centuries. Why should we behave like our oppressors?” said a strong female voice.

“I think the meeting should be open to everyone,” said another voice.

“But it puts a damper on open discussion.”

“If we can’t discuss sensitive topics with men present, who are we going to talk too?”

“Besides, how will they ever learn to please us if they don’t learn?” said another voice.

“Women shouldn’t have to depend on men for anything.” That statement came from the aisle of lesbos.

The discussion deteriorated into everyone talking at once and nobody listening to anyone. I listened in awe to the impassioned pique my presence had provoked.

“OK, let’s take a vote,” Mary said.

I was impressed at student democracy in action. However, if the house had to vote on every item, like who was allowed to attend the house meeting, this was going to be a long night. They still hadn’t approved the minutes from the last meeting, and I was interested in whether the house would approve building a backyard sauna.

The vote was taken. I was allowed to remain. Carrie the lesbian rolled her eyes in disgust.

“Ok, tonight’s speaker is Candace Harris,” Mary said, reading from a card. “Candace is a facilitator from the Peer Sex Education Program.”

Candace was a tall, lanky woman. She was wearing leather motorcycle pants, black boots and a white camisole that showed off her firm, bare shoulders and accentuated her nipples against the thin material. She was not wearing a bra, and I watched her breasts jiggle as she paced the floor.

Mary continued. “Tonight’s discussion is entitled Pre-orgasmic Women and Techniques for Self-Gratification.”

That’s when I realized I was at the wrong meeting. This was the Sunday night women’s group. The house meeting was the next evening. I discovered later that there was an unspoken understanding that men were not welcome at these meetings. It was for women only, so they could discuss topics freely without the dominating masculine viewpoint hampering the discussion. How could I leave? Too many women had spoken in my defense, and the vote had been overwhelmingly in favor of letting me stay. Though I was now embarrassed to be there, I did not want to disappoint them. I remained.

Candace led the discussion by asking, "Can I get a show of hands of women who haven't had an orgasm or aren't sure?"

I looked around nonchalantly trying not to stare. Half the women in the room raised their hands. That’s when I saw her sitting on the windowsill for one of the large French windows. She was the pretty woman I’d seen at the Berkeley BART station on my eighteenth birthday.

Now that I could see her face, I studied her. She had long flowing auburn hair and a quiet, familiar face that turned to look at every person who spoke. She was barefoot and wore a simple collarless striped shirt with long sleeves and a worn pair of faded blue jeans. She looked like all the women I had known from high school. Yet, something was different about her. I stared until we made eye contact. She smiled. My heart jumped. She shifted her gaze to answer Candace’s question and, if memory serves me correctly, raised her hand.

Candace continued her poll. “And let’s have a show of hands from the others who have had an orgasm but want a stronger one or multiple orgasms?”

There were a couple of raised hands from the side sofa, including Carrie and her lover, Sonya. Multiple orgasms? I had never thought about them. At least I had enough experience, although self-induced, to know that if one orgasm was good, multiple ones had to be better. I paid attention now. I wished I had brought some paper and a pen to take notes.

Candace turned off the room lights and started the slide show. The slides were actual close-up pictures of women’s vaginas with the labia held open to show the clitoris.

Note: This is the last excerpt of Cloyne Court that I am posting in this blog for now. There is great possibility that I may be able to post Excerpts 25 to 37 soon. I will be on vacation for a whole week, so it is very probable I will not be posting any new article until October 1.

Cloyne Court is available in your local bookstore (BN) as well as on line( Amazon and E-bay).

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cloyne Court- Excerpt 11

Photo from siline.com

By Dodie Katague
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Rated "R" by the Author.

Based on a true story that took place in Berkeley, California in the late 1970s.

Shortly after dinner, I sat on a couch in the sunroom and waited for the house meeting to begin. As women sauntered in and took seats, I ogled them and categorized each one into one of two groups: Group A, women that I wanted to sleep with, and Group B, women I wanted to have sex with. There is a difference.

I did not find it odd that no men had come into the room. Women at my high school were always in the forefront of student government.

As I classed them using my secret genus and species nomenclature (for instance, mammary gigantica or oral seductus), I discovered there were subcategories of women; groups of lifestyle choices or fashion statements, I wasn’t sure which, that were new to me.

I soon discovered that Cloyne Court’s largest group of women was the earth mother type. Women like Becky, Bonnie and Mary Jewell, who wore long flowing sundresses or peasant skirts, granny glasses and Birkenstocks with home-knit toe socks. They were the Berkeley natural granola women, who cared about what food they ingested, but went to Grateful Dead concerts smoking and snorting or dropping whatever drugs they could get free, cheap or barter. I saw them as anachronisms of the flower children, Sixties holdovers that refused to accept the double knit polyester disco styles that were now in vogue.

Mary Jewell put a slide projector on the table at the front of the room while Becky moved a clunky portable movie screen into place. I assumed tonight’s house meeting would use audio-visuals to give us an idea of what type sauna the house should install.

Bonnie was talking to Jill, who from her rapid speaking cadence and harsh nasal voice and mordant syntax (“Smart, he isn’t!”), I assumed was Jewish. Like Lisa, who I had met earlier as she polished her toenails, Jill had a distinctive large nose and spoke like a New Yorker. I couldn’t figure out whether her dialect was regional or cultural. I was not attracted to the disguised derision in her innocent questions (“I should be happy for him with such a small shmeckle?”). She acted distant and aloof.

Sitting next to me on the couch was Cindy from the telephone switchboard. She was a punker dressed in black with pale-white skin, her hair dyed an orange Day-Glo color. She sported pierced jewelry in several visible body locations. Cindy liked wearing leather jackets and studded neck chokers and fingerless gloves when she went out, but tonight she was dressed casually in a black Buzzcocks T-shirt, Army Surplus pants and black combat boots. She looked darned hot to me! I just couldn't get past the pierced nose ring. I kept staring at it when I talked to her instead of looking at her eyes.

Nonetheless, I was an equal opportunity hound-dog. I had only two criteria in dating women.

First, they had to be intelligent. One reason I never attempted to date Jeanette, my best friend from high school, was that she wasn’t on the same intellectual plane as I was. She didn’t know who Paul McCartney’s first band was before Wings[1], and she didn’t care. It's not that I use cultural literacy as a bellwether of intelligence, but if people don't know general history, science, art and literature, what good are they at Trivial Pursuit® parties?

That criterion was easily met at Berkeley. Everyone was intelligent, many to the point of being obnoxiously erudite. They had to be to get accepted to the university.

Second, and the harder of the two criteria was that they had to want to go out with me.

While I vowed to remain open-minded and unprejudiced, the infinite possibilities of women I wanted to lose my virginity to was growing smaller by the second. I was crossing women off my list for later liaisons for all the wrong reasons or maybe for the right reason. I was not attracted to them as a person.

Then, to my disappointment, I saw a group of women that halved my list. They were the butch-biker chicks who were sitting on the next couch with their lesbian lovers. They were giving me dirty looks.
Photo from dipity.com
These women lived at Cloyne Court with a festering blister on their shoulders. It seemed that there were a lot of them. At least, I thought so. This was the first time I had ever encountered lesbians in quantity (more than one) and quality (giving each other tongue as they sat on the couch, their arms around each other's waists, waiting for the meeting to begin).My first impression of them was as stereotyped as the misogynistic, libido-driven, dumb asses they thought men were.

Why did they hate men in general? Why did they see any man’s attempt to have a friendly conversation to be a sexual come-on?

[1] And while I will accept The Beatles as the correct answer, the history purists among us will point out the more correct answer is The Quarryman.

Watch for EXCERPT 12( last) tomorrow.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cloyne Court- Excerpt 10

Photo from i09.com
Cloyne Court, Episode Ten
By Dodie Katague
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Rated "R" by the Author.

Based on a true story that took place in Berkeley, California in the late 1970s.


I was parked on the driveway, the only spot I could find. “I think that’s me. Sorry, I’ll move my car as soon as I move my stuff into my room.”

“Oh, you’re the new person Central Office sent over?” He reached for the folder with my paperwork that was lying on the desk next to a huge bong. “Did you get your keys or see the place yet? If not, I’ll give them to you as we head down to the shower room.”

“As for roommates,” Lisa continued, “We’re all adults here. Your roomie can be anyone you want, male or female. We don’t care. We are not your parents.”

“And Sandy is your roomie,” I said, stating what I believed to be the obvious.

“No, Sandy is not my roomie. He’s my bunkie. There’s a difference.”

I was puzzled.

“A roomie is someone who shares a room with you. That person can be male or female. It can be a platonic relationship if you want. But a Bunkie is someone who shares your bunk or your bed and that means more than roomie status.”

I looked around the room. The two co-op-issued single-sized wooden bed frames had been pushed together under the north window to create one large double bed. A queen-sized mattress had been thrown over both beds to eliminate any crevice between the two. That furniture arrangement I understood.

Sandy grabbed his bath towel and walked down the stairs in the direction of the office. I followed, mouth agape, still wondering if this place was an Alan Funt hoax. As we walked, he pointed out the common rooms of the house.

“This is the sun room.” He pointed to a large bright peninsular shaped room with French style casement windows on three sides, letting the sunshine in on the four worn couches. The view from the windows overlooked a courtyard with a basketball court, green grass lawn and flowering poplars.

“House meetings are every Monday night,” he said. “You just missed the new resident orientation. Since the student residents run the place, we vote on everything that goes on here. You should come to the meetings. Next one is tonight. Should be exciting. We’re voting on whether to convert Jeff’s mound hole in the backyard into an outdoor underground sauna. He needs the V poles for his next sculpture.”

Through the large windows, I could see the pink V poles female sculpture on the grass in the backyard.

We passed the Rogue’s picture gallery I had seen when I first entered the building. “Make sure the photo manager gets your picture to put in the Rogue’s Gallery. That way everyone learns your face and who you are. With a hundred and fifty people living here, it’s hard to get to know everyone in the house. Oh, by the way, didn’t I read in your house application you were into photography? Do you have darkroom skills? We’re hiring a new photo manager. Our last one graduated.”

“Yeah, I’m into that,” I said. “I know how to develop black-and-white film and print pictures with an enlarger.” I felt proud and was astonished he had actually remembered something I had written in my application.

“Wonderful! There’s a darkroom in the basement. You should run for election for the photo manager position. It’s an easy two-hour work shift. I’ll nominate you at the house meeting.”

“Work shift?” I asked.

“Geez, didn’t you read the house application you signed. That's why living here is thirty percent cheaper than living in the dorms. The students run the place. That means we all have jobs. If you don’t want a cushy assignment, you can sign up for a shift cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming the carpet, yard work, gardening, recycling or work in the kitchen.”

I didn’t like cleaning my room at my parent’s house. Assuming the other eighteen-year-olds in the house had my same work avoidance issues, I didn’t see how the house actually got cleaned. And that underlying work ethic certainly explained why the house was in a state of shabbiness and low level of cleanliness.

We walked by the newspaper room. In the center of the room was a massive craftsman-style conference table, an original to the house with two long benches on either side. The table was so large that six people, three on each side, could lay out the newspapers flat on the table and still have room to turn the pages without getting in one another’s way. The table had dozens of outdated newspapers strewn about, so you couldn’t actually see the tabletop. On the wall by the windows were two vintage vending machines in pristine condition. Next to them, were recycling bins overflowing with newspaper, glass bottles and aluminum cans. The room smelled like the bins hadn’t been emptied for some time.

“What brand of beer do you like?” Sandy asked.

Because I was underage and couldn’t legally drink, I could not give a definitive or experienced answer.

“Doesn’t matter anyway. We’re voting tonight on whether to keep selling the Lucky Lager beer in the vending machines at the same low price or raise the price a quarter and substitute a better brand.”

I looked at a vending machine. It was dispensing beer at fifty cents a bottle, various brands of candy, condoms and an empty slot whose dispensing handle appeared well used. Sandy saw me staring.

“That’s for the doobies. A dollar each. They go quick. We run out on weekends and Laurent restocks them when he rolls a new batch. He actually gets two hours work credit for it.”

We continued along the hallway past the TV room, dining room and kitchen and headed down the stairs to the basement shower room. On the door of the shower room was a posted sign:

M-F 9-10 AM, 4-5 PM Women only
M-F 10-11 AM, 5-6 PM Men only
All other times, Co-ed

I followed him into the shower room and was dumbstruck. It was a large open room with eight showerheads spraying from a central stainless-steel structure with niches for a soap dish and water handles much like my high school shower room. Along the tiled walls were several wooden benches and near the door were wall hooks to hang your towel.
Photo from waxmanmedia.com

“The showers are coed. Anyone, male or female can shower at any time except for the four hours when it’s either women or men only."

My jaw dropped. “Doesn’t that cause problems?”

“We haven’t had complaints. Is that going to be a problem for you?”

Sandy draped his towel on a hook and took off his gym shorts. He turned on the shower and signaled that the tour had ended.

“No,” I said, stammering, “I think I can get used to it.”

Watch for Excerpt 11 tomorrow

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cloyne Court- Excerpt 9

Photo from ronkayela.com
Cloyne Court, Episode Nine
By Dodie Katague
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Rated "R" by the Author.

Based on a true story that took place in Berkeley, California in the late 1970s.


I knocked on the door of Nine B. A female voice yelled for me to come in. A woman was sitting on the bed, with her right foot on the mattress, putting nail polish on her toenails. She was wearing a sheer orange kimono type bathrobe. To my surprise, she wasn’t wearing underwear, and her legs were parted.

“Hi, are you Sandy?” I said, still staring and becoming uncomfortable.

“Not here,” she said, without a hint of modesty. Maybe she didn’t know. I wasn’t sure what the protocol was for this sort of thing. I stood there shifting from leg to leg embarrassed.

“I’m moving in. Central Office sent me. I need to get my keys and figure out what room I’m in.”

“Oh, yeah. I remember your paperwork,” she said, trying to blow air on her big toe nail. “You’re in Four C. It’s a triple room on the ground floor. The last person took one look at it and decided to drop out of Berkeley.”

“Is there something wrong with it?” I said.

“No, but you’ll have two roommates, and your bathroom is down the main hall. Visitors and the wandering homeless also use that bathroom. Your room opens to the main hallway, and it can be noisy, especially during party weekends. If you need quiet, you can study in the basement study lounge.”

I looked around the large corner room with double-hung, double windows facing west and north. It had a breathtaking view of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.

“I suppose this is the best room?” I asked, assuming the house manager would have the best.

“This is a great room. All the rooms on the west side have scenic views of the Bay. But there are better rooms. The four porch rooms that face the inner courtyard are in considerable demand. But if you get the second-story porch room, you have to know about the plants growing on the balcony deck. The owner climbs onto the deck to take care of the plants and can see into your room. Occasionally, people try to climb up and steal the plants.”

“Who’d want to steal plants?” I asked.

“They’re marijuana plants,” she said, as nonchalantly as if she had been talking about radishes in her garden. “And sometimes, the police come and haul the plants away. We have to let them in through the porch room.”

I wasn’t willing to risk police involvement at this early stage of my college career. I made a mental note to avoid this room. It turned out to be a lovely room with the sunshine streaming in from three sides of the enclosed sleeping porch, and it was a single room.

“You accumulate one point for each quarter you live here. At the beginning of each quarter, we take inventory of people who have moved out, and we auction their rooms. We have forty-five double rooms and forty-three single rooms of various sizes and locations, so you can find a roommate and combine your points to bid on rooms or you can try for a single room with the points you have, but single rooms are hard to obtain until you’ve been here a while.”

A man walked in to the room. The woman looked from her toenails and smiled at him. “Hey Sandy, this is Derek.”

Sandy was a guy. I had assumed, because the woman I was talking to was female, that naturally her roommate, the house manager, would be female. He was shirtless, perspiring heavily and carrying a basketball. He found a towel draped over a chair and wiped his brow with it. He came over, kissed the woman on the cheek and reached his hand into her kimono.

“You reek.” She winced. “Go take a shower.” She finished polishing her toenails on her right foot, extended her leg and waved it in a circle to air-dry it. She started on the second foot still oblivious to the view she was giving me.

“Hey Lisa, whose orange VW is parked in my spot on the driveway?” he asked.

Watch for Excerpt 10, tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cloyne Court- Excerpt 8

Cloyne Court, Episode Eight
By Dodie Katague
Based on a true story that took place in Berkeley, California in the later 1970s.
To the right of the front door, was the telephone switchboard booth, the size of a tollbooth on the Bay Bridge. On one end was the original style-telephone switch panel with the spaghetti maze of quarter inch amplifier jacks, patch board panel and rotary dial like the ones they used in the 1930s before telephone operators were replaced by an electric relay switch. On the other side were mailbox dividers and a stack of unsorted mail and packages.

Sitting in the booth was a woman wearing a telephone operator’s headphone and microphone. She appeared to be about five foot, with short-cropped brown hair and looked normal except for a gold ring in her pierced nose. As she waited for a call to patch through, she sorted the US mail into the mail slots divided by alphabet. Every third piece was dropped into a trashcan outside the booth. “Doesn’t live here. (Drop) She graduated. (Drop) He dropped out. (Drop) Hey Kyd, do we have a Jim Jones living here?”

No answer. (Drop)

“I’m looking for Sandy, the house manager,” I said. “I’m Derek Marston. I’m moving in.”

“I’m Cindy. So, you’re the new guy. I hope you last longer than the last one.”

“What happened to the last one?”

“He was an ex-marine on the G.I. bill. We don’t get too many of those at Berkeley. I guess he couldn’t hack it. You know, the politics, the class work and the magic mushrooms. Kind of wigged out after the last party. He was one of the weird ones.”

She declared this as if ‘weird’ didn’t apply to her. But weirdness is in the eye of the beholder. For all I knew, voting for Gerald Ford was a weird offense punishable by some subliminal shunning. I reminded myself not to disclose that fact.

As she spoke, I saw a flash of gold in her mouth. She had a pierced tongue with a double-knobbed stud sticking through it.

“How do I find the house manager?” I asked.

“Down this hallway, stairwell at the end on the right, up three flights of stairs to the ninth floor, room Nine B.”

I didn’t understand her directions. Did I have to climb nine flights of stairs? Cindy must have seen my puzzled look.

“Listen carefully to me,” she said, then sighed as if she were already bored with what she was about to say. “I’m only going to tell you this once. This ground floor and main hallway are numbered as the fourth floor even though there’s only one floor beneath us. Three floors are in every wing. You are standing in the central wing. The floor above us is the fifth floor, and the floor above that is the sixth floor. Got it?”

“Somewhat,” I answered. “Is the floor beneath us the third floor?”

“No, that’s the basement.”

“Where’s the ninth floor?”

“Good question. The west wing is down the hall in that direction.” She pointed west. Thank God! If she had pointed in a different compass direction, I would have been lost forever in a geographic twilight zone.

She said, “The fourth floor ends where the fire door used to be. So you can’t really tell. Once you walk through that threshold, you are on the seventh floor. Are you still with me?”

“Seventh floor. Got it.”

“Take the staircase up. Above that floor is the eighth floor and above that is the …” She paused to let me fill in the blank, as if to test me on my knowledge.

“The ninth floor?”

“Very good. And on the east wing where the kitchen and dining room are, that’s the first floor, so if you’re following the logic here, the two floors above them are …” She paused again to let me fill in the sentence.

“The second and third floor?”

“Hey, you’re smarter than you look,” she said. “I’ll ring the house manager’s room.” She plugged a cord into a jack and tapped out the Morse code letter ‘B’ on the ringer: Ringgggg Ring Ring Ring. Ringggggg Ring Ring Ring.

“What room was that again?” I asked.

She looked at me with an exasperated glare. “The University must have lowered their admissions standards. You’re the third person this week that has an attention disorder. Nine B.” The phone rang, and she turned away to answer the call.

As I walked down the main hallway, I could see the walls needed a coat of paint. Some glass panes on the multipaneled windows were cracked and opaque from the accumulated dirt and grime. The main-hallway carpet looked recently vacuumed, but the collection of dust in the corners suggested a need for a more competent cleaning. Overflowing trashcans should have been emptied days ago judging from the smell.

I climbed the three flights of stairs to the top floor and came out on floor nine onto a narrow hallway where a rotary phone, sitting on top of an Oakland area Yellow pages, rang. I sidestepped my way around the fifty-foot length of telephone cable snaking back to the telephone jack box at the other end of the hallway.

Every floor had a communal hallway telephone. Each room was assigned the Morse code equivalent of the room letter. When the phone rang on my floor, I listened to the rings to see if it were for me. Of the useless things I learned at Berkeley, I still remember American Morse code. I also learned to hate the Morse code for P, five short rings. The two women who lived in room P received calls all hours of the day and night and never answered their phone on the first set of rings.

Watch for Excerpt 9 tomorrow!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cloyne Court- Excerpt 7

Cloyne Court, Episode Seven
By Dodie Katague
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Rated "R" by the Author.

Based on a real story that took place in Berkeley, California in the 1970s. A decision was made to jump-start chapter two and post it early( From Chapter 2).


I never heard of Cloyne Court Co-op before that day on the BART train. As I stood at the corner of Ridge Road and LeRoy Avenue, one block from campus, and within sight of the Campanile, I felt a pang of anxiety. This was my last chance to go back to Briones Valley.

Outside, on the front lawn of overgrown weeds, to the left of the massive four-foot wide Craftsman-style door, several men were clearing a patch of dirt and installing a five-foot tall yellow plaster banana. I stood in front of the massive three-story, wood-shingled building and watched them use a large level to balance the sculpture in its base.

“What are you staring at?” said a guy with a bushy mustache and mop-top haircut, who I took to be the actual sculptor of the giant Musa sapientum.

“Nothing. I was just looking at it,” I said. "What does it mean?"

“That’s the whole point,” said the sculptor. “Art is supposed to mean anything you want it to be. It's supposed to make you think of things you never considered. What do you see when you look at it?”

“A giant phallic symbol,” I said.

“See, I told you, Jeff,” said one of his helpers. “That’s exactly what I thought when I saw it."

The helper turned to me. "You should see his master’s thesis project in the backyard. It’s a dirt mound with a hole large enough for a person to cocoon, surrounded by ornamental grass mounds and has two pink wooden legs installed in a V shape pointing at the sky. That looks like a woman's …well, you know.”

Jeff looked at his helper and me with disdain. “You’re both morons. All you ever see in my sculptures is sex. Is that all men ever think about?” He ranted about the ivory tower, the bourgeoisie, the natural wellness of being and other topics I had never heard about. I lost interest in the conversation after ‘you’re both morons’ and headed inside.

As I discovered later, Cloyne Court was the largest residence hall owned by the University Students’ Co-op Association (USCA), housing one-hundred-fifty students. In its heyday, back at the turn of the nineteenth century, it was considered a classy modern hotel boarding University faculty, visiting professors, famous guests like Susan B. Anthony, and people waiting for their Northside Berkeley homes to be built.

The Co-op survived the 1906, San Francisco Earthquake and the Berkeley Northside Fire of 1923, which destroyed seven hundred homes several blocks north of campus. Years of college students and time had taken its toll on the building.[1] In 1977, at seventy-three, the building needed more than a paint job to bring it up to its fabled past. So, in 1982, the City of Berkeley declared it a historical landmark making it eligible for restoration funds. It is the only Berkeley City Landmark with my initials still carved on the inside doorjamb in the downstairs photography darkroom.

As I entered the building, I saw a glass-protected bulletin board called the Rogues Gallery mounted on the hallway wall. Inside the case were one-hundred-and-fifty, black-and-white mug shots of the residents with a script calligraphic nametag under each picture to identify them.

Beneath it was a long ratty couch. The couch color had once been yellow, but now was a dirty dismal, one of the few colors found in nature that is not on the PANTONE standard list.

I developed a love-hate affinity for that couch, the central gathering place for residents who wanted to interact with others. Residents like Betty Sue and Krista would do their class reading assignments there hoping for a human distraction between chapters. It would also be the starting point for our impromptu get-togethers, the late-night discussions, and the assembly place to gather before we headed to Fenton’s ice creamery or LaVal’s pizza. It was the same couch where I first saw that look of yearning in a woman’s eyes.

Lying on the couch was a student with a large Mohawk haircut. He was reading Descartes’ Discourse on the Method and eating a bag of Doritos. I looked at the Rogues Gallery to discover his name. How hard could it be to find a black-and-white photo of a man with a Mohawk? However, of the hundreds of photographs, there were no Mohawks. I saw that one square was missing a photo. It had a name, Kyd Byzzarre.

“Hi, are you Kyd?” I asked.

“Depends on whose asking,” he said. He looked me over suspiciously.

“I’m Derek. I’m moving in,” I said. I held out my hand to shake, but he didn’t budge. “How come your picture isn’t up here?”

His eyes lit up as he put down the book. Someone had finally taken an interest in the reason for his reflective reticence.

“I don’t want my picture taken, because I believe every time a photo is taken of me, it captures a little of my soul’s essence I can never get back. We have a limited amount of essence, you know. Some African tribes believe the loss of photographic essence is a religious sacrilege. I see it as a constitutional freedom. I don’t believe the government has a right to steal my essence.”

“How did you get a driver’s license?” I asked.

“I don’t drive. I ride a bicycle,” he said. “But I intend to go to law school and sue the Department of Motor Vehicles for violating my constitutional rights.”

That is, if a car didn’t flatten him while he pedaled to school. I would learn later that except for this oddity and his Mohawk, he turned out to be an intelligent guy, a capable basketball player and a sensitive and caring soul inside the punk exterior. I also discover that he had an outstanding misdemeanor warrant for driving on a suspended license in Nevada, which gave him an additional reason for his ardent religious fervor.

[1] When the USCA bought the property in 1942, it was a male-only residence and provided additional housing for the Post World War II veterans returning to school under the G.I bill. In 1972, the Co-op went coed, changing its character forever.

Watch out for Excerpt 8 tomorrow!_____________________________________

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cloyne Court- Excerpts 4, 5 and 6

Here's Episode Four of Dodie's book.____________________________
This is a typical governmemt subsidized housing while I was a student at the University of Illinois, Chicago in 1962.
“I was nineteen when you were born,” my father said, "barely an adult, myself. But we made the best of it. We got by. I worked nights. I went on to earn my master’s degree and by then your sister was born. I was a graduate teaching assistant. Most times, we didn’t have enough money to pay the rent and feed four mouths.

“At one point, we moved to the projects and received food stamps. I didn’t like living on public assistance, but we had no choice. But you do. Don’t make the wrong choice now. Don’t make a choice you’ll regret for the rest of your life.”
( It is not true that we received food stamps, but we did reside in a student housing, subsidized by the government.)“Don’t misunderstand us,” said my mother. “You were a godsend. We love you dearly. We can’t envision our lives without you.”

“But the timing was off,” my father said. “I gave up a lot back then.”

But that was eighteen years ago. I looked around at the twenty-four-hundred square foot tract house we lived in. It wasn’t the projects. We weren’t on public welfare. It wasn’t about them now. It was about me.

“I promise you I won’t make the same mistake, Dad,” I said. And I wanted a chance to prove it. “If you’re worried I’ll end up like you, I won’t. I’m not like you."

“You’re more like your father than you will ever know,” my mother said.

“Wait until the school year is over. Take the time to think it over,” my father said.

But a year was a glacial ice age.

“I can’t wait. I’d rather drop out of school than live like this."

“Living like this?” My father looked around. He pounded his fist on the granite kitchen countertop. “There’s nothing wrong with this home!”

He raised his voice. “If you drop out of school, you might as well pack your bags and … “ But his sentence trailed off into silence. And what? Leave? Isn’t that what I wanted? To live somewhere else?

“This conversation is over,” he said. “Why don’t you go to your room and … study?” He stormed off into the other room. It was the same ending for every argument.

I went to my room, lay on the bed, and stared at the cottage cheese ceiling and memento covered walls.

The walls were framed vignettes of my teenage life. There were photos from the senior prom next to the posters of Farah Fawcett and Cheryl Tiegs. I had tacked up the ticket stubs from every event I attended: nightclubs, rock concerts, movies and sporting events. Besides them were my debating medals prominently displayed alongside pictures of me in a leisure suit, below the second-place ribbons in impromptu speaking and humorous interpretation.

In addition, there was a guitar chord chart, which showed every chord variation--including barre chords--which I had not yet mastered. It hung next to my favorite photos of John Denver, Jim Croce and the Eagles.

More revealing, I had hundreds of black-and-white photographs pinned to a cork board wall that ran from ceiling to floor and took up one side of the room. They were of my high school friends- Eddie, Robbie & Jeanette, in stupid poses, jocular grins, bleary-eyed stoned expressions and moments of faux triumph. There were pictures of us washing cars to raise money; singing in the school choir; cheering at the Friday night football games and horseplaying at a summer pool party. Because I was the photographer who took these pictures, I was not in them. Yet, I could look at each picture and remember exactly where I was and what had happened. I was proud of them.

But I was prouder of the special photographs I kept hidden from my parents. They were my artistic collection of nude and seminude women. Actually, there was only one woman, my best friend--Jeanette.

Cloyne Court, Episode Five
By Dodie Katague
Sunday, September 06, 2009
Rated "R" by the Author.

Based on a true story that took place in Berkeley, California in the late 1970s.

I had known Jeanette since third grade at St. Joseph’s school. Her family was Irish Catholic, which accounted for her red hair and large family of eight siblings. Not only did I see her in school every day but also on Sundays at church, where her family sat in the entire third pew on the right side. My family took the back pew in the left front section, near the entrance because we frequently arrived late.

I hadn’t noticed that she had blossomed into a fine young lass (as her father would say) until I saw her at a party, sitting on some guy’s lap kissing him. I was full of envy and revulsion. Here was a girl whose birthday parties I had attended and whose mother taught both of us to bake cookies in her avocado green kitchen. To think of her as a sexual being caused me to have a hard-on that gave me guilt that only a thorough Catholic upbringing could instill.

So, how does a clueless high school student get a stunning, buxom, natural redhead to pose nude in front of a camera? It was easier than I thought it would be. I asked her. She said yes.

One a warm spring day, I was taking pictures for my photo school admissions portfolio of her posing in a decaying wooden farm shed window. I joked that my application would certainly be accepted if I had some nudes in my artwork. She looked at me for a minute, and I could see her mind concluding I had no ulterior motive for her to bare herself in front of me. And I didn’t. I needed the pictures, and I wasn’t about to lose a willing photography model by having sex with a longtime friend. Off came her blouse and out popped her beautiful breasts.

And those breasts were featured prominently in my artistic collection.[1] I had pictures of her standing topless in the farm-shed window. Both breasts exposed. One breast covered. Both breasts covered by her crossed hands. Topless photo poses of her on a half-sunken wooden boat on the mud flats of San Pablo Bay.

I had her standing unabashed naked in the middle of an orange poppy field or leaning against a stately oak tree contrasting her smooth white skin with the dark textured bark. We did water studies, where I would photograph the natural pattern where the waterline met her exposed buttocks or breasts. And my favorite series, where I photographed her as she stood on top of the largest grassy hill in Briones Valley at dusk. Her buttocks were featured prominently in the upper side of the photo overlooking the town. I called the artwork “Moon over Briones Valley, California” as a farcical tribute to Ansel Adams’s “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.”

I tried to create the same Adams effect in the photos by increasing the black parts in the sky around her white buttocks to give it a contrasting intensity between light and dark that was characteristic of Adams’s operatic style.

I was awakened from my thoughts by the sound of my father and mother arguing upstairs in their bedroom. I couldn’t hear what was said. I hoped my mother was winning. If anyone could understand me, it had to be her.

A few minutes later, my parents knocked on my bedroom door. My mother entered carrying my birthday present I had left on the kitchen counter. She handed it to me. Behind her was my father. They had decided and despite the disagreement, the yelling, the raised voices, and feigned crying that accompanied their intense arguments, they were united in the outcome.

“Your father and I met at college,” she said in a wistful tone.

“And it’s your life,” my father added. “Don’t screw it up.” I’m sure he meant it literally. “You’ll have to get a part-time job to pay for your housing. But we agree you should live on campus.”

“Go ahead, open your present,” mother said. “It’ll also be a going-away gift.”

I untied the ribbon and ripped open the package. It was a new camera. A Minolta SRT-102 single lenses reflex 35mm camera with a 35-105 millimeter-macro zoom lens, the latest model that had replaced the SRT-101.

"We know you wanted to be a photographer and attend that trade school, but attending Berkeley and graduating from there will be better for you in the long run,” my father said. “But we didn’t want you to think we didn’t care. I’m sure you’ll find a good use for the camera in Berkeley.”

I hugged them both for the longest time. I loved my family. My life was beginning. I was leaving the nest. But it didn’t hurt to leave open the possibility of returning home in case my initial flight from infancy crashed and burned.

Cloyne Court, Episode Six
By Dodie Katague
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Rated "R" by the Author.

Based on a true story that took place in Berkeley, California in the late 1970s.


A week later, I was in the UC housing office seeking a place to live for the Winter Quarter. I wanted to move into the dormitories on the south side of campus, but there were a dozen students on the waiting list. The fraternities had already had Rush week, but if the frat boys were like the pompous and self-centered jerks I met in my classes, I wanted nothing to do with them.
On the ROOMMATES WANTED board were two listings: One was for a black nonsmoking vegetarian female into EST willing to share a room with a white lesbian Jewish female graduate student working on her master’s degree in Political Economics of Natural Resources; the other advertised for a male who was willing to live in a pool cabana that had been illegally converted into an in-law unit, and work as a pool-boy for the landlord in exchange for a lower rent. The landlord wanted prospective tenants to submit a picture with their application and be willing to discuss their top ten sexual turn-ons.

OK, I admit, the latter listing was from the Berkeley Barb, the local adult free weekly, in the personal classified section. I would have considered the listing, but I didn’t understand what the abbreviations GWM, S/M, N/S, B/D, m4mm meant.

My prospects looked bleak until I reached into my sweatshirt pocket and found a crumpled flyer taken from a hawker at Sather Gate. The flyer was for housing at the University Student Cooperative Association, or the Co-op. The handout advertised housing that was cheaper than the dormitories because it was student-run and operated. Each student had to contribute five hours work a week at the house and the flyer said there were openings for Winter Quarter starting in January.

Here was my chance to move and be near campus. I applied for the first available spot at any of the eleven houses.

My inauspicious residency at Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road, Berkeley, California, north of the UC campus, was about to begin.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cloyne Court- Excerpt 3

Here's Excerpt Three from Cloyne Court: Image from markstivers.com
Continuation of Excerpt Two:

“Most of them. My Political Science professor is a Nobel laureate,” I said. I wanted to reassure her the tuition money was well spent, but in a lecture hall with five hundred students, my Nobel laureate professor, M.S. PhD. B.F.D., would never learn my name or recognize my face.

My father entered the kitchen. He was holding a gift-wrapped package behind his back. It was my birthday present. They had remembered and had waited for me to finish dinner. “Happy birthday!” They cheered and presented me with the gift.

“Thanks Mama. Thanks Dad. Listen, I have something to tell you.” I hoped they could see the seriousness in my face.

“This isn’t about dropping out and going to that photography trade school again, is it?” my father asked. Trade School had been my fallback plan if Berkeley had rejected me. “I’ve told you before, we will not pay your tuition for any school other than Berkeley. If you want to reject the best thing that’s happened to you, we will not pay for it. Right, mama?” He looked at my mother for support.

“Derek, we know you’re having adjustment problems at Berkeley. Everybody does. That’s normal,” said my mother.

“Mama, Dad, I am not dropping out. But, if I’m going to college for the next four years, I want to experience a real college life. I don't want to spend a quarter of my life on a BART train.”

They paused and looked relieved.

I continued, “I need to live on campus. I’m tired of commuting back and forth every day to Berkeley. I have no friends. I have no social life. I want to do more than go to class and come home.”

“College isn’t for social life, it’s to get ahead in life,” my Dad said. “Study hard now. Get a good job. Then you can have a social life.”

“But, you had a social life while you were in school,” I said.

“That was different. I was married. I was completing my Masters in chemistry and your mother was having children.” He looked at her, as if she had been the sole cause of the children being born while he studied at some mid-western podunk college.

“What he means,” said my mother, “is you have a safe, warm place to live while you go to school. You don't have to work. You don’t have to worry. You can focus your energy into your studies without distractions.”

Their reasons made sense. I had a free place to live. I had student loans to pay for my part of my tuition and federal work/study grants to pay for books and incidentals. However, it still wasn’t good enough. I wanted the distractions.

“I’m not meeting anyone.” That was the true reason I wanted to live away from home. I wanted to meet a woman who would meet me after class for drinks at the Café Med and take me back to her dorm room.

“Don’t make the same mistake I made,” my father pleaded. “My whole life …” He glanced at my mother. “Both our futures were changed because I had the same urges--the same desires you have now. I could have waited. But I didn’t. I was young and foolish. I should have concentrated on school. I should have never fallen in love at such an early age. But it happened, and I--we paid the consequences.”

“What consequences?” I wondered. They met. They fell in love. They married. They had children while they were still in college and graduate school. Their lives turned out fine.

My mother looked at my father for a moment and sighed. He came over to her and gently placed his hand on her shoulder, “Go ahead. Tell him.”

She took a deep breath. “You weren’t a premature baby. I did not go into labor early because I slipped and fell,” my mother said. “That’s the story we told your grandparents when you were born. You were a full-term baby.”

She told me this, as if she were admitting to murder, ashamed of my conception. My father kept his stoic face as practiced as any professional poker player.

I did a mental calculation. My mind began to spin. I was a love child. “You were three months pregnant with me when you married?” I said. I was shocked. Not because they had premarital sex, but because they had admitted they had sex. Nobody wants to hear that from their parents.

Note: My wife and I did not have pre-marital sex. Dodie's writing is fiction this time, just for dramatic effect. But the essence of the conversation between the three of us is true.

Excerpt Four coming tomorrow! ______________________________________

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cloyne Court- Excerpt 2

Image from divus.cz/shaman
Based on a true story from 1977, University of California, Berkeley
Continuation of Excerpt One:

“I don't mean to be ungrateful for your advice,” I said, “but how do you know what my life is like?
“It’s written in your face. Your aura is grey and orange with a touch of sulfur. You’re tired and depressed. You desire to control your life, but you can’t. Go and live elsewhere. You must do this for your future.”
Her percipient statements unnerved me. How could she know that I was tired and depressed from riding in silence with hundreds of train commuters twice each day? Had she been following me around campus, as I passed hundreds of cute women in Sproul Plaza, none of whom I had the courage to speak to, while aggressive hawkers shoved flyers at my face at Sather Gate? I looked for another seat. The train was packed.
She started chanting or moaning to herself. I wasn’t sure which. Nevertheless, it was loud enough that other passengers began to stare at her; then at me. I wanted nothing more to do with her. She was probably just another schizophrenic mental patient who roamed the Berkeley city streets.
Even so, as I listened to her chant, I suddenly felt an inner peace. I no longer felt revolted by her presence. On the other hand, why should I believe her? Why should I suspend my skepticism? That’s when I had the vision.
Like a seasick stupor, everything around me stood transfixed and silent as the train moved forward. I could not hear the ambient noise of the wind rushing by the windows or the sound of the train wheels click-clacking on the tracks. All I heard was her chanting like an Indian medicine woman. That’s when I realized the old hag was a shaman. She was giving me a message that in my soul I knew to be true .
But how could she know? Could she really read my bioenergy and feel my unhappiness? Or had she just read my body language and tagged me as a gullible mark as any charlatan fortuneteller or con man could do?
Either way, I was not deterred by her madness. I wanted to believe her because at that moment in my young life, I had nothing else to believe.
“Where should I go?” I asked.
“Cloyne Court. North on the ridge road; in sight of the tower.” She chanted the words like a Nostradamus prophecy.
I acknowledged her advice with a sharp nod and as abruptly as it had appeared, the vision departed. I could hear again the train driver announce the next stop over the intercom as he brought the train to a screeching stop. My shaman stood , walked through the sliding train doors and onto the train platform.
That evening, as I walked the short distance from the bus stop to my parent's house in the dwindling twilight, I decided to heed the shaman’s words and make my first life-changing decision eight hours into my adult life. Time was a-wasting and I wanted to get on with it. Now I had to break the news to my parents. Would they let me move out? How would I pay to live on my own?
“How’s my brilliant University student today?” my mother asked, as she placed my reheated dinner in front of me. My mother’s cooking was full of spices and her years of domestic culinary practice could transform meatloaf into a Chez Panisse main entrée. I’m sure the dinner was up to her usual piquant standard, but tonight I forked the food from one side to the other as I thought of when to tell them of my decision.
“It’s tough, Mama,” I told her. “College is a lot harder than high school. Everyone is smart and experienced. Most of the students have already covered the basics in high school, while I’m learning it for the first time.”
It was a disappointing discovery. My public high school taught to the lowest common denominator. I had been bored. Absolutely, nothing had challenged my mind, and I graduated with straight A’s without exerting myself.
I didn’t want to tell her that I had flunked the University Subject A exam and was now required to take “Bonehead” English (along with half of all incoming freshmen), because I had failed to prove I could write to the University’s standards.
The news would have shattered my mother’s pedestal opinion of me. My acceptance to Cal, the University of California, Berkeley, the most prestigious public University in the country, granted her bragging rights at her weekly coffee klatch of mothers whose children were at lesser-ranked institutions of higher learning.
“And the professors? Are they good?” she asked.

Stay tuned for Excerpt Three!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cloyne Court-Introduction and Episode 1

The Cloyne Court Yard, UC Berkeley, CA. Image from berkeleyheritage.com
Here's Excerpt One of Dodie's first novel, The Cloyne Court:

"Cloyne Court" was written by Dodie Katague my oldest son in 2009. As his father who is a frustrated writer, I am really proud of his writing accomplishments, considering this is not his primary job. Below are several reviews of his book as published by www.virtualauthorbooktours.com. I hope you have time to read his book, Cloyne Court.

"In 1977, when 18-year-old Berkeley college student, Derek moved into the student residence co-op, Cloyne Court, sight unseen, little did he know he would learn about life, love, sex, drugs, music, alcohol and co-ed showers—all on the first day.

Located one block North of the University of California, Berkeley campus, this real and notorious student-run house has provided an alternative, counter-culture, hedonistic, raucous, and unique living experience for the “Clones”, as the students call themselves, who choose to live here each year, despite the public and parents calling for a permanent shut down of this enduring and historic building.

Based on his journals and memories of his college days at this real-life “Animal House”, author, Dodie Katague weaves true events of life at Cloyne Court co-op into a zany, wild, and nostalgic story about the carefree time of every college student’s life.

"Sure to entertain any of those who enjoy a good story of the world of the fraternities and sororities. " Cloyne Court" is a fine memoir and a read well worth considering." Midwest Book Review

"If you like the movie Animal House, and have any interest in the going-ons of College in the 70s, or Berkeley in particular, you're also going to love this book. Get it, read it slowly, and enjoy!"-S. Davidian, Amazon Reviewer

"I found this book to be an AMAZING, page turning read. The rich story is very much worth it and leaves you dreaming of college days, and thinking about taking a drive to Berkeley to see the real Cloyne Court."-L. Couture, Amazon Reviewer

"I wish I had as much fun as Derek did in college, I recommend this book for anyone that has gone to college, or plans to go to college, or thought about going to college. Also for anyone who knows someone who went to college, because that buttoned up shirt wearing respectable man might have some stories to tell"-Genoa Dillon, Amazon Reviewer

"Sex, Betrayal, Drugs, Rock and Roll, nudist, co-ed showers, and the politics of the house make for a novel that has to be read. I loved this book."-Lori Cianfichi, Amazon Reviewer

Experiencing a spiritual epiphany is like hallucinating from a drug overdose. Both alter your future in ways you can never imagine. While you’re under the influence of either, you’re acutely aware that something inexplicable and bizarre is occurring, but you don’t want the vision to end until you’ve figured out what’s causing you to look at your life with a surreal insight.
On my eighteenth birthday in October 1976 while waiting at the Berkeley BART station, I noticed a pretty young woman board the train several cars down from where I stood. She was dressed similar to me, wearing a blue sweatshirt with an embossed gold script Cal logo, straight-leg blue jeans, and carried a heavy book pack. From her clothes, she looked like a freshman university student. As I stood in the aisle, grasping a handhold ceiling strap in a jam-packed rocking train of silent commuters headed towards the end of the line in Richmond, I felt compelled to talk to her.
Was she commuting each day to school as I was? Would she be riding the same connecting bus to my hometown of Briones Valley, a small, middle-class suburb on the banks of San Pablo Bay? Was she also living with her parents while attending her first year at the University of California, Berkeley?Image from pinoytube.com
On this milestone birthday, I had become an adult in the eyes of the law. Yet, not a single student, teacher, person or nonfamily member noticed or cared. Except for my Teaching Assistant in Chemistry, who spoke only to impart scientific knowledge while holding a piece of chalk, no one had uttered a single word to me or conversed with me that day.
I had just endured an interminable four hours in a Chemistry lab, trying to attain some subatomic result within a minor standard deviation of acceptable answers. I had failed miserably. My Calculus homework remained in my book pack unopened.I would be spending my first evening of adulthood trying to resolve equations I would never understand.
However, I wanted to understand her and without a contrived plan of what I was going to say to her, I urged myself forward, bumping against people who were standing firm in the aisles and traversed my way from train car to train car.
“Hi, I’m Derek Marston! Are we in the same Subject A class?” I thought I would say to break the ice, but that would assume she knew what “Subject A” was.
Or perhaps, “Weren’t you in my high school photography class?” But that line would ring hollow if she had attended a school that was small enough that every senior knew every other senior, and besides, I was a college man now. Why bring up a past I was glad to escape?
In the third train car, I saw the back of her head. I hurriedly sat in the empty seat opposite her, trying not to smile at my lucky break!
As I looked into her face to speak, I was revolted at the sight. My beguiling woman wore a reddish brown shag hairdo as disheveled as a cheap wig hastily pinned to a Styrofoam head. Her wrinkled face, lined with age, was pocked with red freckles and her bulging eyes and gaunt cheeks gave her a ghoulish appearance.
Despite her ghastly look, she had a tiny-jeweled earring in her pierced left ear that stood-out like a minuscule diamond in a coal slag. She was the woman I had seen entering the train, and she must have seen the disappointment in my face.
“You must leave,” she said, staring at my brow.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize the seat was taken.” I was looking for a graceful way out of my dilemma.
“No! Stay seated. You must leave your home and find happiness.”
Why was she telling me this?________________________________________________________

Watch for Episode 2

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Proposal for a 28th Amendment to the US Constitution

I received this article from my e-mail today. It is sort of a chain letter. I normally do not respond to letters like this, but the argument that we need to add amendment #28 to the US constitution makes sense to me. Read the article and see if you agree with me.

"No one has been able to explain to me why young men and women serve in the U.S. Military for 20 years, risking their lives protecting freedom, and only get 50% of their pay. While Politicians hold their political positions in the safe confines of the capital, protected by these same men and women, and receive full pay retirement after serving one term. It just does not make any sense.

Monday on Fox news they learned that the staffers of Congress family members are exempt from having to pay back student loans. This will get national attention if other news networks will broadcast it. When you add this to the below, just where will all of it stop?

35 States file lawsuit against the Federal Government

Governors of 35 states have filed suit against the Federal Government for imposing unlawful burdens upon them. It only takes 38 (of the 50) States to convene a Constitutional Convention.

This will take less than thirty seconds to read. If you agree, please pass it on.

For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that members of Congress could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest is to exempt themselves from the Healthcare Reform... in all of its forms. Somehow, that doesn't seem logical. We do not have an elite that is above the law. I truly don't care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop.

If each person that receives this will forward it on to 20 people, in three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message.. This is one proposal that really should be passed around.

Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution:

"Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States."

Note: Last month my first article on the US Constitution was posted on Viewshound in FB. It just received a Badge " Article Read 250 Times". Test your knowledge of the US Constitution by visiting the ViewsHound issue dated August 19, 2011. For example, do you know how many articles in the US Constitution? What is the most popular Amendment? When was the exact date of its ratification? Do you know at least 3 of the signers of this document? Do you know the preamble by memory?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Repost if this made You Laugh

Image from oldtarf.blogspot.com

I read this from a FaceBook friend wall just recently. It made me laugh so I am reposting it in this blog. Enjoy!

If my body was a car, I would be thinking of trading it in for a newer model.
I've got bumps, dents, scratches and my paint job is getting dull. My headlights are out of focus. My traction is not as graceful as it once was. My whitewalls are stained with varicose veins. It takes me hours to reach maximum speed.

But the worst is...every time I sneeze, cough, or sputter either my radiator leaks or my exhaust backfires...!!! Repost if this made you laugh like me.....;

Monday, September 12, 2011

Time for Some Lady Gaga Music-Alejandro

Lady Gaga before and after her nose job plastic surgery

I love classical music, but once in a while I like to listen to Lady Gaga.
Have you heard of Lady Gaga? If you have not heard of her, you must be living in another planet. This song, Alejandro, is the most viewed video in one of my blogs. Enjoy!
I heard this song when Lady Gaga was featured in the TV show, American Idol. Since then this song had more than 12 million hits all over the world. Hope you enjoy it as well as I do! Here is a short write-up about her in Wikipedia.

Lady Gaga (born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta; March 28, 1986) is an American recording artist. She began performing in the rock music scene of New York City's Lower East Side in 2003 and enrolled at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She soon signed with Streamline Records, an imprint of Interscope Records. During her early time at Interscope, she worked as a songwriter for fellow label artists and captured the attention of Akon, who recognized her vocal abilities, and got her signed to his own label, Kon Live Distribution.

Released on August 19, 2008, her debut album, The Fame, reached number one in the UK, Canada, Austria, Germany and Ireland, and reached the top-ten in numerous countries worldwide; in the United States, it peaked at two on the Billboard 200 chart and topped Billboard's Dance/Electronic Albums chart. Its first two singles, "Just Dance" and "Poker Face", co-written and co-produced with RedOne, became international number-one hits, topping the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States as well as the charts of other countries. The album later earned a total of six Grammy Award nominations and won awards for Best Electronic/Dance Album and Best Dance Recording. In early 2009 she embarked on her first headlining tour, The Fame Ball Tour. By the fourth quarter of the year, she had released her second studio album The Fame Monster, with the global chart-topping lead single "Bad Romance", as well as having embarked on her second headlining tour of the year, The Monster Ball Tour.

Lady Gaga is inspired by glam rock artists such as David Bowie and Queen, as well as pop musicians such as Madonna and Michael Jackson. She has also stated fashion is a source of inspiration for her songwriting and performances. Gaga was ranked the 73rd Artist of the 2000-10 decade by Billboard.[1] As of May 2010, Gaga has sold over 15 million albums and over 40 million singles worldwide. In May 2010, Time magazine included Gaga in its annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Day that Changed the World

The following article is my tribute to the Heroes and Victims of the most heinous crime committed by terrorist to the US known as the 9/11/01 Catastrophe.

9/11 - 10th anniversary approaches | ViewsHound

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cloyne Court and Two Other Books that Touched My Heart

Cloyne Court by Dodie Katague

I have read only three books for the last 5 years. I am not an avid book reader, since I spend too much of my free time watching Television and blogging. But once I started reading a good book, I will not stop until I finished it. Depending on the size of the book these could ranged from 1 day to 3 days. These three books are my favorites and have really touched my heart.

1.The first book, "Cloyne Court" was written by Dodie Katague my oldest son in 2009.

As his father who loves blogging and writing, I am really proud of his writing accomplishments, considering this is not his primary job. Dodie is a lawyer and a prosecuting attorney. Below are several reviews of his book as published by www.virtualauthorbooktours.com. I hope you have time to read his book.

"In 1977, when 18-year-old Berkeley college student, Derek moved into the student residence co-op, Cloyne Court, sight unseen, little did he know he would learn about life, love, sex, drugs, music, alcohol and co-ed showers—all on the first day.

Located one block North of the University of California, Berkeley campus, this real and notorious student-run house has provided an alternative, counter-culture, hedonistic, raucous, and unique living experience for the “Clones”, as the students call themselves, who choose to live here each year, despite the public and parents calling for a permanent shut down of this enduring and historic building.

Based on his journals and memories of his college days at this real-life “Animal House”, author, Dodie Katague weaves true events of life at Cloyne Court co-op into a zany, wild, and nostalgic story about the carefree time of every college student’s life.

"Sure to entertain any of those who enjoy a good story of the world of the fraternities and sororities. " Cloyne Court" is a fine memoir and a read well worth considering." Midwest Book Review

"If you like the movie Animal House, and have any interest in the going-ons of College in the 70s, or Berkeley in particular, you're also going to love this book. Get it, read it slowly, and enjoy!"-S. Davidian, Amazon Reviewer

"I found this book to be an AMAZING, page turning read. The rich story is very much worth it and leaves you dreaming of college days, and thinking about taking a drive to Berkeley to see the real Cloyne Court."-L. Couture, Amazon Reviewer

"I wish I had as much fun as Derek did in college, I recommend this book for anyone that has gone to college, or plans to go to college, or thought about going to college. Also for anyone who knows someone who went to college, because that buttoned up shirt wearing respectable man might have some stories to tell"-Genoa Dillon, Amazon Reviewer

"Sex, Betrayal, Drugs, Rock and Roll, nudist, co-ed showers, and the politics of the house make for a novel that has to be read. I loved this book."-Lori Cianfichi, Amazon Reviewer

Note: This book is fiction, but some events cited in the book regarding Derek's inter-action with his parents are true.

2. The second book is "Playing with Water" by James Hamilton-Paterson

James Hamilton-Paterson is a British poet and novelist. He is known to be one of the most reclusive of British literary exiles who shares his time between Austria, Italy and extensive periods over the last 30 years in the Philippines. He is generally known as a commentator on the Philippine scene, where he has lived on and off. His novels on the Philippines includes “Ghosts of Manila”, and “America’s Boy” (1998), the latter setting the Marcos regime into the geopolitical context of the time.
One of his books, “Playing with Water”, sold more than 4 million copies, described in a book review by New York Times as “a work of such genuine commitment, balanced perception and responsive passion that it will certainly be condemned to become a classic.

I have read this book a few years ago. I have almost forgotten this book, until last month when a fellow blogger from Marinduque posted an article about this book. It triggered pleasant memories of Marinduque. I love this book so much, I read some chapters twice. It is one of the best book, I have read about my island Paradise and My Retirement Home-Marinduque. It was written and published in the late 1990's but the lessons one can learn from book is still applicable today. This is a must read if you love Marinduque. Here's one review of the book.

"Go read...it's good!, By A. N. Teodoro III (River Edge, NJ, USA) - This review is from: Playing with Water: Passion and Solitude on a Philippine Island (Twentieth Century Lives)

"I read this book so many years ago, but I can still remember how good it is. This book is not only about the underwater world but also about the goings-on in a typical barrio in the Philippines. It has a socio-economic aspect to it that I found quite realistic, having been born and raised in that very same third world country. It amazed and pleased me that a foreigner like Hamilton-Paterson could, quite accurately, capture the very essence of filipino rural society---like the old woman who he suspects isn't so aloof and taciturn as she seems and the children of the barrio who frolic in the water and in their humble amusements, oblivious of the shortcomings of a third world upbringing. The book is an unusual stew of underwater
adventure and an unpatronizing account of a life among barrio folk".

Note: There are discussions among the readers of this book, where the actual location
of Paterson's cottage at the top of the hill but still near the sea. Some readers believe it is in Boac or Gasan. Others think it is near Elephant Island in Buenavista, where Bellarocca Resort is now located. If the latter location is correct, Paterson will certainly be surprise if he sees Elephant Island today.

3. The third book is "World as Seen Under the Lens of a Scientist" by Vithal Shetty

I have read some parts of the draft of this book and heard and witnessed in person portions of Dr Shetty life and achievements, but it was only the other day, that I was able to purchase the published book. It is an inspiring story, typical of a rags to riches story, but it is different because I know this scientist personally and had supervise his work as a Review Chemist in FDA. The book is titled, "World as Seen Under the Lens of A Scientist". Here's a press release and summary of the book published in March 2009 by Xlibris.

"Long before he arrived in America, Dr. B. Vithal Shetty experienced racial arrogance and discrimination. Even though he got admitted to the University of Pennsylvania, he had trouble finding a place to live and decency as white people disrespected him for his ethnicity. Along the way, he made constant adjustments in order to move his life forward while striving to earn respect through his close friendship with African Americans. Eventually, the author finally achieved redemption when he became an internationally renowned drug discovery sterling scientist. An engaging look back at Dr. Shetty's life begins with the release of his new book World As Seen Under the Lens of A Scientist: Negro Zero To American Hero Who Changed United States From American Hypocrisy To Greatest Democracy".

Dr. Vithal Shetty, author of the book " World as Seen Under the Lens of a Scientist" was one of the Chemistry Reviewers under my supervision during my employment with USFDA from 1990 to 2002. Dr Shetty is also the discoverer of Metolazone. He is also currently working on drugs for the cure for Aids. I wrote a brief article on Dr. Shetty accomplishements titled "Chemistry Reviewer Still in the Laboratory" when he was still under my supervision as a chemistry reviewer. It was published in News Along the Pike, an FDA Newsletter before my retirement in 2002. Dr. Shetty's autobiography is an inspiring one. He came from the slums of Mumbai, India and encountered discrimination in 1950's in the US. Today he is an accomplished scientist in the United States with more than 200 patents in his name.

Note: I believe that someday Dr Shetty may win a Nobel prize, if his research on HIV/AIDS Drugs becomes successful. If this happens, I will be the first one to congratulate him.

These three books are available at your local book store or on line (Amazon). This article was also published in Viewshound today! Good Reading to ALL!
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