Lunar Festival: Halloween in January?

Lunar-Festival-Riverside-2014
Fireworks above the Chinese Pavilion in Riverside during the 2014 Lunar Festival.

On Saturday, I stumbled on the Lunar Festival in downtown Riverside.

Probably what most of us traditionally equate with a lunar festival is Chinese New Year’s, but every Asian country has its own celebration. Really, it’s an expression of joy that spring — along with bountiful new food crops — is just around the corner.

So as I peered into the crowd, I kept wondering why the teens and 20somethings came as if it were Halloween. Here was Batman wondering out loud, “Where is the Green Arrow?” who then dutifully showed up with a bow and arrow with a green lighted tip. Batwoman wasn’t far behind, but Robin seemed mysteriously missing, given the context.

As I continued peering, I noticed countless Cinderellas, Alices in Wonderland, cats, indescribable comic book characters and one lone samurai.

At least the samurai would have some connection with the lunar festival in Japan, during which he might get drunk or enjoy some blood sport like toppling a shogun and his minions.

Anyway, the fireworks at night were nice, but I think the local populace somehow confused the coming of spring with the coming of goblins and heroes.

Okay, I know, this column has nothing to do with English grammar or composition, but it says spades about what American culture — the prime user and progenitor of the English culture — has morphed into, which is, well, a comic book.

So sad.

Edward Snowden Redux

I think I miffed a lot of people and probably lost a lot of readers when last year I praised NSA secrets-leaker Edward Snowden as a “patriot” (not sure if I actually used that word, but “hero” works too).

Now I’ve finally found an ally with the same take on what he did and on its value to all of us. Through a strange twist of “politics makes for strange bedfellows,” none other than that liberal bastion The New York Times has called for Snowden’s pardon.

As the paper’s editorial summarizes, Snowden “has done his country a great service.” This too has been my essential point. Who cares if the guy is a scumbag who broke the law? What he’s done to move America forward is almost inestimable.

Read “Edward Snowden, Whistle-Blower.”