It’s almost Halloween!

Last year I led some writing workshops in my son’s class. His group wrote a poem, “I am a Scary Smelly Skeleton Pirate” which my son and I turned into this YouTube video. Here’s the text to the poem and here’s two more Halloween oriented poems from that workshop.2halloween07

And here we are as un muy pequeno calavero with Art Predator aka Ms Frizzle of the Magic School Bus fame.

River of Skulls: the perfect wine for Halloween & Dia de los Muertos & more

Twisted Oak's "River of Skulls"Yep, Twisted Oak’s River of Skulls: This is the wine you need for Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, and maybe for all the sinners on your list: Twisted Oak’s River of Skulls, a mourverde with a little syrah thrown in.
from Twisted Oak in Calaveras County CA

This is a special creature, this wine. Sorry to say that unless you have a trip planned to Calaveras county, you’re out of luck. You can get on the list now for next year! Sign up here.

While my favorite blend on Earth has to be GSM (grenache/syrah/mourvedre), seeking out a mourvedre– “the sinner” in all its wild gamey glory–seems perfect for this time of year. And for my money, I’m going for Twisted Oaks “River of Skulls” which conveniently arrived a few weeks ago in my “Twisted Few” allotment!

I had the amazing opportunity to taste this wine at last year’s Wine Blogging Conference 2008 and it wowed the socks off of me. (OK, I admit, I’m a sucker for mourvedre!) This year, El Jefe aka Jeff Stai served it up during the live blogging portion of the 2009 Wine Bloggers conference. This wine not only wowed us bloggers but in recent competition and tastings, it’s done well: they just got wordfrom Twisted Oak in Calaveras County CA from Wine Enthusiast magazine that the 2006 Spaniard will receive a score of 92 points, and the 2007 River of Skulls will receive a 90 point score, in their December issue. Congrats to Jeff and crew!

For more poetry, jump on the TRAIN! For more about wine, head over to Wine Predator! That’s where I plan to aggregate my wine posts and where I will post first from the European Wine Bloggers Conference and from the Enoforum Tour of the Alentejo region of Portugal. (Oh, you didn’t hear about that? You didn’t hear my joyous noise? Go here to learn more.)

There is some ghostly formatting going on here–just attribute it to the hi-jinx of los calaveras!

Harvest ArtWak to feature children’s play at Bell Arts

 Bell Arts Art walk play "We Source: We are our greatest resource"There’s plenty going on around with the Ventura Harvest Artwalk this weekend downtown.

 We Source ActorsBell Arts Factory is always a highlight of any ArtWalk, but today Sunday at 2pm, my son will be performing there in a very unusual and free theatrical presentation, “We Source” about “magical beings in a magical forest who discover what empties the spirit and feeds the soul.”

About 11 children from 5-12 have been developing the story and rehearsing the play two afternoons a week for two months. Numerous adult artists from Bell Arts and the community have also been involved in various aspects of the play written and directed by Tracy Hudak, created by the young artists of the Bell Arts Youth Program, and with live music. The set includes a fabulous tree created by MB Hanrahan, Rosel Weedn, and Michele Foster. Bell Arts is located at 432. N. Ventura Avenue.

 My son The WizardMy son plays a Wizard and he’s very excited about being part of this performance. He’s worked very hard to understand his character and the character’s motivation. Being part of this play has been an important journey in his life. He’s had lots of fun but he’s taken it very very seriously. I see how much he’s grown in terms of understanding the world, 7331_158274900269_553815269_2638111_5962357_nhis place in it, and how we are each motivated by various factors. As he has come to understand what motivates the characters in the play, and why and how they respond to conflict and opportunity, he has understand to himself and the world better.

If you can’t make the performance of the play on Sunday at 2pm at Bell Arts, a second performance has been added for Tuesday Oct 27 at 4pm. Hope to see you there!

And if you can’t make either performance, drop by Bell Arts to check out the set. Or join us for the First Friday ArtRide –it will still be up and lit up for our Bikers Ball gracing the stage where band The Sideshow Preachers will be performing!

Halloween Weekend Activities at the Moorpark College Teaching Zoo

Halloween Event at Zoo

Contact: 805 378-1441

Boo at the Zoo
America’s Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College will be holding the annual Halloween weekend event on October 31st and November 1st. The zoo opens to the public at 11 am, and hours have been extended until 7 pm for this event. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors & children 12 and under, and free for children 2 and under. Booths will include face painting, crafts, and Halloween activities with candy and prizes. Animal shows in the amphitheatre are at 12, 1, 2 and 3pm. Visitors to the zoo can also witness a carnivore feeding display that takes place cage-side at 4pm. Complete details are on the website at

Ventura Election Forum 10/21 Focuses on Green Issues

Many folks in the US have an election coming up on the first Tuesday of November–which is soon! I urge you to find out about local issues and participate! VCCOOL is sponsoring a forum tonight–I’ll be there at Bell Arts to listen and learn and to pass out flyers about the Nov 6 ArtRide and for the after party which will be held at Bell Arts!

The following post features excerpts from a recent newsletter put together by editor Rachel Morris. Read it here.

Ballot Measure Forum with Local Flair
Why is November 3 Important for the Environment, Public Transportation, and Social Justice?

Wednesday, October 21st
Bell Arts Factory
432 N Ventura Ave, Ventura 93001

Free / Bilingual

Join us for an Ventura-Avenue-Style forum on this year’s November ballot initiatives. VCCool and ASERT (Alliance for Sustainable and Equitable Regional Transportation) will be hosting this in-depth look at measures A, B, and C, with help from C4 Green Building Council, and CAUSE. We’ve worked hard to come up with an informed, gender-balanced panel that can go into detail on the pros and cons of each measure. There will also be time for written questions collected at the event.

As a special treat
Los Amigos band will be opening for us with beautiful Latin rhythms and guitar. Lalo’s, one of the Avenue’s best Mexican restaurants, is cooking up some tasty snacks. There will also be a Spanish/English interpreter available so that everyone feels welcome to participate.

VCCool’s 2009 Voter Guide

VCCool is taking a position on two of the three ballot measures this year. We feel it is important to weigh in from a healthy-climate point of view.

Yes on A
Support public transit with a half-cent general sales tax

VCCool is recommending a YES vote on measure A. We are deeply concerned about the impact of state budget cuts on local funding, particularly the 30% cut to Ventura County’s budget for public transportation.

Measure A is a half cent general sales tax for the city of Ventura. The tax expires in four years. Measure A’s Spending Plan includes money specifically for local public transportation. It also includes funds for local street repair improving conditions for cyclists, as well as funds for other core services in the city of Ventura.
Measure A – Full Text City of Ventura FAQ on Measure A

No on B
No to Sprawl. Support compact walkable, bike-friendly communities with public transit

VCCool is recommending a NO vote on November 3rd ballot measure B. VCCool is committed to a walkable and bike friendly community with affordable public transportation. A 26 foot height limitation prevents compact infill, effectively forcing Ventura’s future growth out as opposed to up. Denser residential development coupled with or adjacent to commercial trade locations optimizes space utilization, making it possible to walk, bike, and bus.
Measure B – Full Text

VCCool Supports SOAR

The VCCool Board has formally voted in support of SOAR’s mission and goals. SOAR (Save Open-Space and Agricultural Resources) is dedicated to protecting open space and agricultural lands by limiting urban sprawl. Careful city planning for compact walkable and bikeable communities is critical to lowering our carbon footprint. What many people don’t realize is that compact city design is also what makes public transit economically viable. We also believe having abundant local agriculture will become more and more important in the big picture of sustainability and a healthy climate.

To be on Ventura’s Global Warming email list, send a note to the with instructions to add you to the global warming e-mail list.Elec

Did you participate in a National Day of Writing? Link your blog to this post with a comment!

The NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) is sponsoring a National Day on Writing today Tuesday, October 20, 2009.

And many of my students participated by posting about it on their blogs and by posting writing here on a special gallery for Ventura College:

Did you participate in National Day of Writing? If so, please leave a comment below with the link to your blog so we can see! We can also go to the gallery and see what everyone at Ventura College posted as well as students from other colleges here

Ventura College Students–Here’s a special gallery for you on the National Day of Writing!

An invitation to write…
Tuesday, October 20 has been declared the National Day on Writing!  Here’s a special gallery for Ventura College students, staff, administrators, and instructors to post your writing:

A National Day on Writing—October 20, 2009— and a Gallery of Writing where you can contribute any type of writing composition that matters to you.

Everyone! We encourage everyone to submit a piece of writing: students, instructors, administrators, classified staff, and many more.

October 20, 2009 is the big day, but don’t let that stop you from participating NOW.   Send your writing to our online gallery. This is a Ventura College-specific site.

Because we, as a nation, are writing like never before—through text messages and IMs, with video cameras and cell phones, and, yes, even with traditional pen and paper. Whether it is done in a notebook or on a blog, writing, in its many forms, has become daily practice for millions of Americans.

You can also check out other galleries at  Our Ventura gallery ID # is 523428.

Thanks to Jaclyn Hardy for setting this up and letting us know!

NCTE’s National Day of Writing: Tues Oct 20

About NCTE & the National Day on Writing

About NCTE
The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is devoted to improving the teaching and learning of English and the language arts at all levels of education. Since 1911, NCTE has provided a forum for the profession, an array of opportunities for teachers to continue their professional growth throughout their careers, and a framework for cooperation to deal with issues that affect the teaching of English.

About the National Day on Writing
Whether we call it texting, IMing, jotting a note, writing a letter, posting an email, blogging, making a video, building an electronic presentation, composing a memo, keeping a diary, or just pulling together a report, Americans are writing like never before. Recent research suggests that writing, in its many forms, has become a daily practice for millions of Americans. It may be the quintessential 21st century skill. By collecting a cross-section of everyday writing through a National Gallery of Writing, we will better understand what matters to writers today—and when writing really counts. Understanding who writes, when, how, to whom, and for what purposes will lead to production of improved resources for writers, better strategies to nurture and celebrate writers, and improved policy to support writing.

America’s writing will be front and center on October 20, 2009—the National Day on Writing. On that day, writers from every walk of life will pause to share their work. Communities across the nation are planning events to celebrate local writing, and NCTE will open the virtual National Gallery of Writing for all to appreciate the rich variety of work on display. The National Gallery will continue to accept submissions until June 1, 2010 and will remain open to readers through June 30, 2010.

Click Here to visit the National Day on Writing Website.

Stay Connected!
Become a Fan of the National Day on Writing on Facebook
Follow the National Day on Writing on Twitter
Join the National Day on Writing Group in the NCTE Ning

Blog Action Day 2009: Change is in the air!

  Gwendolyn showing off her bikergo at Biketoberfest 2009Yesterday, October 15, 2009 was Blog Action Day and the theme for this year was Climate Change.

10,000 blogs signed up to participate: three of those were my blogs! Plus my students in two classes signed up and blogged today also on climate change. Addressing the issues behind climate change is certainly an idea I can get behind and support!

One of the real concrete actions you can do to prevent runaway climate change which will impact a great percentage of the world’s population which lives on the continental edges is to stop driving your vehicle and to use alternative transportation like public systems or to ride a bike.license-plates-global-warming

Oh but, bikes are too uncomfortable to ride? and you get oil on your clothes on your way to work? Well, check out my new bikergo–it’s the most comfortable bike I’ve ever been on, the oily chain is covered, it’s easy to shift and it’s the most fun too! Check out the seat!

You can see my new bikergo at the next First Friday ArtRide Nov 6! Get your cape on and join us at the Artists Union Gallery on the Promenade at California Street. We meet at 5:30pm and ride at 6pm. Be sure to have a headlight and a blinking tail light because it’s going to be dark!

3 Recommended Reads for Blog Action Day 2009

nowtopia_cover_4x6web by Chris CarlssonThree books that I’m into right now are perfect companions to Blog Action Day on Climate Change 2009 — Nowtopia: How Pirate Programmers, Outlaw Bicyclists and Vacant-Lot Gardeners Are Inventing the Future Today by Chris Carlsson (AK Press 2008), Critical Mass: Bicycling’s Defiant Celebration edited by Chris Carlsson (AK Press 2002) and Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne (Penguin 2009). Critical Mass edited by Chris Carlsson

How are you changing YOUR lifestyle to combat climate change and participate in being part of the solution instead of the problem?

Help Stabilize the Climate–support this bill by signing the petition below

Keep the climate bill strong.

Sens. Feinstein and Boxer:

“I urge you to take the pledge to vote only for a climate bill that retains the EPA’s ability to regulate CO2 and doesn’t give massive subsidies to the coal industry. This is a rare opportunity to stand up for our planet, and we cannot afford a bill that is too weak. Please stand up for a strong climate bill and take the pledge.”

Clicking here will add your name to the petition. Sign the Petition.

Just in time for Blog Action Day 2009, I received this email in my in-box today from the good folks at Credo…

Tell Sens. Feinstein and Boxer: Protect a strong EPA in the climate bill.

Senators Kerry and Boxer have introduced a climate bill that protects the EPA, a bold step that deserves to be commended. But Big Coal and Big Oil will stop at nothing to strangle the EPA, and maintain the status quo, where polluters escape regulation and our planet pays the price.

Almost immediately, the strongest provisions of the climate bill started to be talked about as “bargaining chips,” to be given away for a few votes of hesitant senators. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham stepped right up to this offer, and last weekend authored an editorial with Sen. John Kerry.

Many cheered this turn of events. But if you look closely at what Kerry and Graham wrote, you can see the horse trading has begun. Among the major concessions to Big Energy already being talked about are huge investments in nuclear energy and an increase in offshore drilling. And what does Big Coal get? A commitment that America will become the “Saudi Arabia of clean coal.”

With these concessions already out in the open, an all out assault on a strong EPA can’t be far behind. Big Coal was able to strip the power of EPA to regulate CO2 in the House bill; you can bet it will stop at nothing to take away EPA regulatory power in the Senate.

Environmental senators need to stand up and draw a line in the sand: they must pledge only to support a bill that preserves the EPA’s ability to regulate C02 and doesn’t give away tens of billions of dollars to the coal industry.

If enough environmental senators draw a line in the sand and say, as a bloc, that they will not vote for any plan that fails to meet this minimum threshold, the Obama administration and the Senate leadership will be forced to listen to their demands.

Click here to automatically sign your name to a petition asking Sens. Feinstein and Boxer only to support a climate bill that retains the ability of the EPA to regulate CO2 and does not include massive subsidies to the coal industry.

Thank you for working to build a better world.

Michael Kieschnick, President
CREDO Action from Working Assets