Thursday, September 25, 2008

M*A*S*H star and activist Mike Farrell slated for Chico visit Saturday


From a bit part in The Graduate, to eight years on M*A*S*H as B.J. Hunnicutt, five seasons of Providence, and a part in Desperate Housewives, shy Mike Farrell has realized a childhood dream of becoming an actor. As a kid growing in West Hollywood he delivered groceries to the likes of Groucho Marx, Jimmy Stewart, and Lucille Ball, but these days "the beef" is in his outspoken activism.

It's all detailed in the new paperback edition of "Just Call Me Mike: A Journey To Actor and Activist" ($16.95 from Akashic Books).

Farrell will be appearing in Chico for a book signing and free-wheeling question session this Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at the Trinity United Methodist Church, 285 East 5th St. Tickets for the free event are available from the co-sponsors, Chico Peace and Justice Center and Lyon Books.

Both George McGovern and Bill O'Reilly have praised Farrell for his honesty, and the book highlights Farrell's decades-long involvement with what he calls "people issues" ( including "equal rights for women and minorities, . . . the right of the disadvantaged to a social safety net, . . . and an end to the death penalty").

But Farrell writes that he is not a pacifist: "I believe in the right of self-defense, be it personal or national, but I also believe in finding peaceful resolutions to disputes and oppose war except in the face of the most dire national threat." One time, introduced to Nicaraguan Sandinista officials extolling the virtue of the socialist revolution, Farrell was sickened by the "triumphalism" and evasion when he ventured questions about how "people's lives were being improved." In effect he asked "where's the beef?" and found only the stuff one finds in a barnyard.

Married since 1984 to actress Shelly Fabares, Farrell believes 9/11 should have been treated as "a grotesque and inexcusable crime" rather than an act of war; "America's emotional tension found an outlet in the war in Afghanistan. And it played into the hands of media manipulators who transformed George W. Bush from an inept bungler to a war president."

Farrell's Hollywood stories are frequently funny, but the author never loses sight of his bottom line: "Everyone deserves what everyone wants--love, attention, and respect."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Chico novelist writes of the power of love


It begins with a softball game in Madison, Iowa in 1950; before the story ends a young man faces almost certain death far away in the Korean War. The story is a tribute to a young woman's love--as well as the survival teachings of one George Grey Eagle on the Blackhawk Indian Reservation. It's a romance built on the theme of acceptance of those who are culturally and religiously different than ourselves; after all, one character says, "If God can accept people in heaven from all faiths, then who are we to question whom God accepts?"

"Love's Journey" ($19.95 in paperback from Books by Mode, is by Chico CPA James (Jim) Rozendaal. Rozendaal will be signing copies at Lyon Books in Chico on Tuesday, Sept. 23, at 7:00 p.m.

The first-time novelist was raised on an Iowa farm and knows the importance of religious tradition in small-town life. And therein lies the rub. Tommy Van Haaften, just out of high school and working in construction, falls in love with Allison Jorgenson, a tall blond Swede completing nursing school at the University Hospital in Des Moines. But the Dutch ought not mix with the Swedes, at least according to family tradition. The two fathers are adamant that their children not marry "outside their faith."

The story is straightforward and the language (and the lovers) chaste and even polite. This is in part a tale of military heroism, but it's also the story of almost mystical intuition. Grey Eagle talks to Tommy about Allison: "Love is the driving force in the universe. Your connection to her will be your ticket back. So the stronger the connection, the more certain your ticket." To Allison, grieving over Tommy's distance, he says: "You need to find your own sense of knowing. And when you do, it will sustain you no matter what the external circumstances."

When Tommy is wounded, captured and beaten on the battle front, his mother feels similar pains. She remains confident of his return.

Along the way Allison is befriended by a newspaper publisher who takes an interest in Tommy's ability to withstand torture. Eventually his story is published and becomes a book entitled "Love's Journey." Those looking for a happy ending will find it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Chico poet rests a spell, and remembers


An author's note says Chico poet Tom Fuszard is also "a corporate communications consultant, speechwriter, lecturer and speakers' coach," and his background shows in the clarity and directness of his work.

"Places To Sit and Other Poems" ($9.95 in paperback from Felicidad Press out of Chico) is a collection of remembrances. In "Regrets" the poet writes: "Not wise to dwell on the past, / they tell me, / but now I have the time." The time is spent thinking about "What I Learned When I Started to Listen": "That wars are fought / mostly by people / who had nothing to do / with starting them // That a lot of people / are afraid all the time // That much of the world / is in a mess / and a lot of it is because / nobody listens."

These simple words give the reader pause, especially on a day of national remembrance.

Many of the poems are personal, recalling boyhood memories. In "Bird," the poet writes: "I have no idea why / I took your life. // One thinks little / about things like that / as a boy of nine. // You were there / on your little branch / and I with my / puny air rifle / just shot and you fell / and bled in the leaves / and died. // It was not to test my aim, / of that I am sure. / I had killed hundreds / of bottlecaps, / executed dozens / of glass jars. // . . . I did not think about / eggs in a nest / waiting to be warmed / or fledglings waiting / to be fed / or another waiting / for your return / and never knowing / why you did not."

The opening poem, "Places To Sit," has something to say about a park bench, a barstool, a witness chair, and more. Including deep grass: "For people in love, mostly. / People who want to be / away from the crowd. / See, he's brought a little book of poems. / He will read some, and they will see / the depths of each other's eyes / for the first time."

This little book of poems remembers love.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Advocate of Hindu Vedanta to sign books in Chico


Anna Hourihan, publisher of Redding-based Vedantic Shores Press (, has edited a series of lectures on the Hindu philosophical school of Vedanta which serve as a good introduction to the teachings of Hindu mysticism. Delivered by her late husband at the University of Guelph, School of Continuing Studies, in Ontario, Canada, the lectures are presented in "Children of Immortal Bliss: A New Perspective on Our True Identity Based on the Ancient Vedanta Philosophy of India" ($16.50 in paperback), by Paul Hourihan.

Anna Hourihan will be speaking and signing copies at Lyon Books in Chico, Wednesday, September 10 at 7:00 p.m.

The book begins with the claims of Vedanta, that "nothing exists except the Divine Being, or Brahman. . . . Truth is One; sages call it by different names. . . . The very nature of the Soul is divine: the Cosmic Self manifests as the individual Self or Atman. . . . The primary goal in life is to realize, through direct personal experience, the divine nature within our own self."

For the author, the ancient Hindu teachings of the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita are "the most sophisticated of all religious writings" and "represent the seedbed of everything that is deep, universal and mystical in the world." Thus the mystical traditions of Islam (the Sufis), Christianity (especially Meister Eckhart), Buddhism (Zen), and Taoism are all "confirmations" of Vedanta teachings.

Though Vedanta accepts "all religions as valid," what Hourihan means is "not the truth in them but the truth in us"; that is, a religion is inspired to the extent that it helps convince the person that his or her Self is identical to Brahman. The path to such realization, the author says, is through meditation, the experience through which even ordinary persons gain "the awakening of our true self."

The ego-power of individuality, including a fascination with "occult techniques," must be eliminated; "we are not sinners seeking somehow to be saved but rather we are an unknown purity seeking to merge with the Unknown Purity."

Buddhists, Christians and Muslims may well be uneasy at Hourihan's reinterpretation of their doctrines, but read with discernment the book is a clear exposition of the claim that "The Self is all, and you are the Self."