NYTBR February 18, 2007

Books I Am Interested in Reading (After Perusing the Feb. 18, 2007 Issue of the New York Times Book Review):

(1) After reading Joseph Lelyveld’s review of John Lanchester‘s memoir, Family Romance: A Love Story

John Lanchester’s Family Romance: A Love Story

(2) After reading Kathryn Harrison’s review of Joan Acocella‘s Twenty-Eight Artists and Two Saints: Essays:

Joan Acocella’s Twenty-Eight Artists and Two Saints: Essays

(3) After reading Dagmar Herzog’s review of Gotz Aly’s Hitler’s Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State:

Gotz Aly’s Hitler’s Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State

Sometimes Things on My Laptop Just Go “Whoosh”…

OK, despite the fact that I couldn’t figure out how to apply for an NEA grant electronically; despite the fact that NEA grants application page says: “Competition for fellowships is extremely rigorous. Potential applicants should consider carefully whether their work will be competitive at the national level.”; despite the fact that I knew the process would take hours and hours and hours of my precious time, time I should be spending:

    grading papers
    preparing flyer for Spring classes, as requested by Dean

despite, I repeat, all of the above, I did make one more pathetic attempt to complete application process.

Perhaps it was the sight of the piles of student papers on the dining room table. Too depressing to think that I would be spending whole morning grading abysmal stuff from little darlings at xxxxx community college, when I could be doing something that just conceivably *might* benefit my career.

I have discovered this interesting tendency of my MacBook to go “whoosh” and “pffft” and “click” when dragging items here and there, items which subsequently disappear (as witness how I lost my whole Safari application when niece thoughtfully tried to clear my desktop the other night by dragging Safari icon to menu bar at bottom of screen).

Yesterday it RAINED. No, POURED. And I had two three-hour classes. When I arrived at xxxx community college for my first class, it was not raining. Looked hopefully up at the sky, and the sky seemed clear. So determined would not need an umbrella. Naturally, heavens opened up just after I got to classroom, rained cats and dogs the rest of the day, had to walk a mile to the parking lot in pouring rain.

Got home, took a quick shower, then headed off to my next three-hour class, the one that involves shlepping up four flights of stairs. Nothing more depressing than dragging a wheelie cart up narrow wooden steps in the rain. Must admit, felt very sorry for myself.

By the time I got home (hubby made delicious grilled chicken dinner, at least, that was my salvation), had determined that I would NOT be hoodwinked into spending my one free day, today, wasting my time over silly grant application. Went to bed. Woke up this morning and what’s the first thing I do? Open up my computer and go into Grants.gov. Isn’t that the height of silliness?

Not only that, I download Firefox FIRST, as niece assures me it is way better than Safari. Then, when opening grants.gov with Firefox, read this message: Download applications will not run on Firefox.

@@##!!

So, naturally, I have to back out and begin all over again with Safari, which I first have to locate because God knows what happened when niece dragged icon from desktop to menu bar, and when I do finally find it and use it to get on to Grants.gov page, I find that I can’t view application unless I have Citrix. After downloading Citrix, happen to read that Citrix will not work for Mac users. To do that, I need Puredge. So I start downloading Puredge but there are four different things I have to download FIRST, such as: license agreement; registration; instruction package, etc. etc.

And then I start to develop a splitting headache.

Desktop is cluttered with I-don’t-know-what-all, decide to clean it up a little because programs might interfere with each other, so start dragging duplicates to Trash. The Trash makes all kinds of weird sounds when accepting items: sometimes I hear a “pffft” (very disconcerting, as reminds me that things do actually vanish into thin air, as witness Safari application), sometimes I hear a “tch-ch”, and sometimes I just hear a “donk.”

God.

If you ever doubted that writers are masochists, here is the proof. First of all, writers have no money, so dangling the promise of grant money in front of them brings on Pavlovian response.

Now, machine warning light goes on, tells me my laptop is almost out of juice. Which should be my Hallelujah moment because now I have an excuse NOT to work on this grant application and I can begin checking papers.

But no, I have been seized with manic desire to FINISH. So drag laptop to nearest power source (down the hallway), accidentally trip over line to Speedstream modem (WHEN am I ever going to go wireless? Maybe when I have time to do important things, which time is NOT NOW.), make tremendous racket, it’s only 5:30 AM and I hear my husband yelling, WHAT IS GOING ON?? WHAT IS THAT RACKET??

Tell him: Hubby, if you want me to apply for this $25,000 grant, you’ll just go back to sleep and LET ME WORK.

Right now I am exhausted, thoroughly exhausted, dear reader, as I’m sure you are, too.

Determine that no, once and for all, it is really too humiliating to go through all these permutations only to find out, nine months from now, that I have been bested by the likes of xxxxx

Oh well, never mind who I’ve been bested by. The point is, I know I will have been bested. Remember, you can only apply if your work can compete on the NATIONAL level. That is, if you can compete with the likes of David Eggers, David Foster Wallace, Gish Jen, Susan Choi, Lan Samantha Chang, Bharati Mukherjee, etc. etc. ad nauseam.

And I am a woman who can’t even get my work accepted into LOCAL lit journals.

So, no, dear blog reader, after much travail and a headache that’s as big as a house; after having gained five lbs. over the past two days by indulging in anxiety snacking (consuming, for instance, ONE WHOLE PEACH PIE from Draeger’s in one day), I have determined that THIS is not worth even the promise of (a one in a million) chance of winning $25,000.

Post- Oscars Report

These Oscars were fun; at least, I thought they weren’t as dreary as I remember past Oscars being. Was able to go all the way to the end without switching channels. Thought Ellen DeGeneres was quite good — at least she wasn’t too full of herself — and thought the part where she presents Martin Scorsese with a screenplay to peruse was really amusing. Most of the presenters were funny, which has not been the case in previous Oscars, and the musical numbers weren’t too boring.

This is what I noticed:

    Flesh-colored gowns seem to be “in” — as witness gowns worn by Celine, Gwyneth, Penelope Cruz. (Learn from NBC Oscar dish this morning that color is “blush”, agree sounds way better than “flesh”–!!)A few years ago, Cebuana Monique Lhuillier and her jewel-colored creations were all the rage. Hollywood seems to be over that trend (but someone forgot to tell Jessica Biel and Nicole Kidman …)
    Daniel Craig presented still “in character”, that is: erect carriage, stiff upper lip very reminiscent of 007.
    Jack Nicholson sporting Yul Brynner look.
    Naomi Watts seemed to have round little bump beneath empire-waist gown. Could she be — ? Happy for her if she is.
    Most of the American stars seem to have had the foresight to have Botox injections, as witness complete absence of even one wrinkle on Tom Cruise. (In contrast, Helen Mirren had all her wrinkles. And, goodness, Meryl Streep did not bother to fix her hair or wear something glam, probably had a premonition she wouldn’t win.)
    Was happy about Best Picture award going to The Departed. Now Martin Scorsese doesn’t have to wait for an honorary Oscar to be awarded, 20 years from now.
    Thought it was adorable that when Forest Whitaker’s name was announced as winner of Best Actor prize, Leo jumped up and clapped enthusiastically.
    James McAvoy (of The Last King of Scotland) is short, but has great accent, and very soulful-looking droopy eyes.
    Gael Garcia Bernal wore crazy-looking glasses that made him look vaguely schoolmarm-ish.
    Thought Eva Green’s hairdo very unflattering, perhaps should have a word with her stylist.
    Diane Keaton looks great for her age, think she can be forgiven for appearing in that stinker of a movie, Because I Said So.
    Did not know that any of the people who died had died (with the exception of Robert Altman): that is, I didn’t know until the retrospective portion that Red Buttons/ Don Knotts/ Maureen Stapleton/ Jack Wild/ James Doohan/ Mako/ Sven Nykvist had died in 2006.
    Borat was not there. Neither was Matt Damon. Or Edward Norton (which I guess could be expected, wish The Illusionist or The Painted Veil had snagged more nominations.)
    Clive Owen looked just delish! Definitely, best-looking man at ceremony.

By end of telecast, had managed to finish grading two piles of student papers.

Excellent.

Reading for the Day: William Henry Scott on the Igorots

The following excerpt is from Discovery of the Igorots by the renowned historian William Henry Scott, who authored 15 books on Philippine history. Scott died 1993 at the age of 72.

Chapter I: The Search for Igorot Gold, 1575- 1625

The land they occupied was high and cold with rugged, pine-clad mountains, and their gold mines were to be found between two rivers which debouched into Pangasinan — that is, the Agno itself, and the lesser Bued, or Angalacan, whose canyon provides the precarious bed for the present Kennon Road to Baguio City. They were intelligent, well-built, light-skinned, naked save for G-strings, and estimated to number between 18 and 20 thousand. They were headhunters frequently at war with their neighbors, held the most successful collectors of these trophies in high regard, and, unlike the archers of Ituy, fought only with spear and shield. The most prominent among them were those wealthy enough to cover the walls of their houses with the heads of animals sacrificed at banquets, and their government, such as it was, was in the hands of arbiters of war and peace. They worked their mines mainly by panning gold in placers in the streams and bartered it, at qualities up to 22 carats, with particular trading partners in Pangasinan for rice, pigs, and carabaos, driving these animals back on the hoof. They did not engage in agriculture, either because their soil was too rugged and infertile or because they didn’t need to, and the Spaniards found it noteworthy that they did not accumulate any surplus in gold but only extracted what they needed for their immediate needs as the occasion demanded.

Since these Igorot gold fields are regularly referred to in 16th-century accounts as the wealthiest in the archipelago, they must have suffered the general post-Conquest decline in gold production which reached its nadir about 1600. There were several reasons for this. In the first place, the gold which had originally dazzled the conquistador eye was in the form of personal jewelry that had taken years or even generations to accumulate, and once it was consumed by tribute-collectors in areas under Spanish control in the first two decades of the occupation, it was not replaced. Attempts to enforce the King’s right to a fifth or tenth of all gold mined in his possessions discouraged Filipino miners and inspired smuggling through non-Spanish agents. Then the importation of Mexican silver beginning in the 1580s and the subsequent phenomenal growth of Mexican- Chinese trade dulled the incentives of a prehispanic commerce which had exported this commodity in Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino vessels. Moreover, Filipino mining techniques were simple, slow, and laborious, innocent of any chemical knowledge, and consequently only slightly productive. Indeed, philosophically inclined Spaniards considered the Filipino ability to endure the discomfort and tedium of panning gold in cold mountain streams a racial characteristic and called it flema — phlegm. (The opposite or Castilian quality they called codicia — an energetic greed or cupidity which motivated men to cross uncharted seas with the happy side effect of spreading the Gospel.)

Hallelujah! (But, as usual, spoke too soon . . . )

You know that scene in The Painted Veil where Naomi Watts and Edward Norton are having dinner and she bursts out with, “Walter! Sometimes I really think you have gone insane–!!”

I know just how she feels.

It’s 11:04 AM right now, and last night hubby assured me he would be leaving for the office very very early this morning, because he had to do something very important. But this morning, after having breakfast (which involved rice and sausage and egg and many dishes to wash afterwards), he sat down on the couch to watch a basketball game. Then he decided to sweep the living room. Then he made himself a drink (since not yet noon, must be anticipating a hard day– ha ha ha!).

Had planned on starting my application for the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship this morning, but thought it prudent to wait until after hubby left, to avoid any untoward interruption (And, what crock! Why can I never resist the siren call of this $25,000, even though I know that judges open my application and read my work with puzzlement, even annoyance, since they will not be able to place where I am from, I’m such a tease that I never state my characters’ country of origin, expecting — probably white — NEA judges to be able to figure it out from idiosyncratic syntax and occasional unintelligible words in Ilonggo, Cebuano, or what-have-you?) After three hours of waiting, decided I couldn’t put it off one minute longer, sat down and tried to get started.

Hubby now watching Wild Wild West and every time I look up from the computer (I have decided to file electronically, alas, if I had known that I would have to read miles of instructions on how to use Citrix, PureEdge, and all that gobbledygook, would never have started) I see Will Smith and Salma Hayek engaged in some sort of silliness.

Very very hard to concentrate, end up downloading the same thing two, even three times (as witness how cluttered my desktop looks at this moment). Finally come to the prompt: Open your grants application package. And my machine tells me: FILE CANNOT BE FOUND.

@@!!!##

Changing the topic a bit here, it has indeed been a very very eventful morning. First, I decided to call Tita I, and found that her husband had an “episode” a few days ago which necessitated a visit to the emergency room. Then, discussing Dear Mum’s coming when Tita asks in tone of playful irony, What can we ask your Mum to bring us from the Philippines?

OK, since she couched it like a game, I rise to the occasion, say “Pastillas!”

Yes, Tita I says, And what else?

Hmm, hmmm…

Not just food, Tita I says.

OK, what about jewelry?

Yes, yes! Tita I eggs me on. And I start listing: pearl earrings, tortoise-shell bracelets– Hey, this is fun! But after a few more minutes Tita I is crying because she longs so much for pretty things and has nothing.

OK, next phone call: brother-in-law visiting niece for Parents Day at Stanford. He says he was shanghaied last night into treating 12 of niece’s friends to dinner.

“Parents Day is a sham!” He exclaims. “Why did none of the parents of those 12 kids show up? It is just an excuse to fleece unsuspecting parents!”

Suddenly he tells me he’s standing on a street corner in downtown Palo Alto and does not know whether to cross the street because, even though there are no cars in any direction, the pedestrian signal light is still showing the red hand. He continues, “In New York this would be no problem, I would just cross, but here everyone’s just standing waiting! Will I be arrested if I cross?”

I tell him to go ahead and cross.

He says again, “But I don’t understand why everyone’s just standing here waiting!”

I tell him, “Cross! Cross! Go ahead! You won’t be arrested! Everyone’s just very polite here!”

(I also feel like telling him: It’s all part of the California veneer, I assure you everyone hates each other here as much as they do in New York! But here even when sticking you in the back they must smile, say “Have a nice day!” If only I had managed to figure this out earlier, it would have made my “adjustment” infinitely easier–!! But no, I had to blunder about for years taking people at their word when they asked questions like, “How are you?” veritably unloading a torrent of unwanted information that made people stop, freeze up, look at me as if I were demented . . . )

Now I have to pause and ask myself, wherefrom this bitterness? Am I not happy with my simple life (even though I have still not figured out how to download Citrix/PurEdge/Grants.gov, thereby hampering my chances to win coveted NEA fellowship, deadline only days away, minutes ticking by inexorably, will also bring appearance of dear Mum momentarily–??!!)

Deep breath, my dear, deep breath.

Hubby has finally stepped out the door, and though I’ve been holding my breath for loooong minutes, door remains firmly shut. Last week I stood at window waving him good-bye, and in answer to my wave he got out of his car, came up the walk, entered the house, and sat down in front of the TV, declaring he’d decided to wait a little bit until traffic cleared. Who’s to say same will not happen today? After all, have been forewarned.

Idly, while awaiting further developments on the hubby disappearing/re-appearing act, look up horoscope on My.Yahoo.Com, find this wonderful nugget: “If your social life feels humdrum, mix things up — take a walk on the wild side.”

Meanwhile, hubby has stepped back inside. Forgotten something, I suppose (my nerves are shot). He again walks out, smartly this time. Rattles the doorknob cheerily, as if just checking to see that door really IS closed. (Otherwise he’ll come back in again to check that lock actually functions, I am sure …)

Weekend Here, I’m Thinking of Last

Almost exactly one week ago, on Saturday, we drove to San Luis Obispo to visit son for the day.

Saw Hearst Castle and ate at fab Japanese restaurant before dropping son and his good friend Nick off at the Cal Poly campus and driving the three hours back in darkness, listening to my Yo-Yo Ma CDs.

Then, the week turned busy busy busy. Was tired.

Going to the City tomorrow (if all goes as planned, if I can even manage to squeeze myself INTO Bayanihan Center) to attend book launch and cooking demonstration by fab chefs Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan, here from New York to promote their cookbook, Memories of Philippine Kitchens.

Weather gorgeous today, spent a little time in backyard, assessing damage of winter: two fuschias, big camellia dead. One geranium (Evka) dead. Roses, clematis, aucuba, fatsia, iberis sempervirens, azalea, camellia sasanqua vigorous. It felt a bit like spring.

Last weekend, weather was gorgeous, too. We took 101 and hubby drove all the way, so I had lots of time to look around and relish familiar sights: the Garlic Shoppe near Gilroy, the cherry trees in bloom, the black cows grazing on the green hills. We passed Watsonville and then the turn-off to San Juan Bautista, which we used to visit quite often, long long ago in another life. We listened to an old Art Garfunkel CD, “Watermark” (Why don’t you put on your Saturday shoes and let’s fly awaaaay …).

Saw an arm emerge briefly from the car directly in front of us, dump out a bottle. This is something I only see maybe once a year.

We passed a big red barn with the words FLEA MARKET and DISNEYANA painted on the sides, and Art was singing about What a wonderful wonderful world this would be …

We passed Salinas and signs for the Downtown and the National Steinbeck Center, and I remembered that Harold Augenbraum, who did the Penguin translation of the Noli, told me he comes here every August; he is a big Steinbeck fan.

Then we passed the signs for the Monterey Peninsula and Exit # 317 for Chualar. And then we passed Soledad and Wild Horse Road. Before we knew it, we were sailing into San Luis Obispo and meeting son at a park just outside the Cal Poly campus, where he’d gone to read while waiting for us.

We went to Avila Beach, to Fat Cat’s Cafe, and the music there was so retro: Olivia Newton-John in Grease, the Bread singing Guitar Man. Also Rod Stewart growling Do ya want my body/ Do ya think I’m sexy … and Carole King warbling Stayed in bed all morning just to pass the time … (I was thirteen when I bought my first record album, Carole King’s Tapestry.). Also, at some point, we heard the “I Will Survive” song and neither hubby nor I could remember whether it was by Donna Summer or Gloria Gaynor.

After brunch, when we were driving to Hearst Castle, son plugged in his iPod and then we heard a whole string of what I think they call “alternative” rock: Rob Thomas singing “Unwell”; the All-American Rejects singing “It Ends Tonight”; Less Than Jake singing “The Science of Selling Yourself Short”.

By the time we passed Morro Bay and the Rock, we were deep into Anberlin (“Time and Confusion”; “A Day Late”) and American Hi-Fi (“Flavor of the Week”).

When we passed Cayucos we were listening to Bleed the Dream’s “Sarcastic Farewell” and “A Smile for Judas.”

Passing Cambria we were listening to House of Heroes’ “Mercedes Baby.”

Passing signs for Moonstone Beach Drive, we were listening to Hawk Nelson’s “Head-On Collision.”

When son left for college, he bequeathed to me all his old CDs: The Barenaked Ladies, Green Day. Also the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Blink 182 — what ever happened to them? I’d lost touch with what he was listening to now, it was nice to find out.

On the way back from Hearst Castle, son and Nick sang to The Fray’s “How To Save a Life.”

There. A whole record of the day, the time, the weather, and what we did.

Still Thought # 80

Today I have nothing to report, dear blog readers. Except that it rained and I went to the post office (again) and by some miracle there was no line. And I’m almost to Chapter 30 of Jane Eyre and am fascinated by the Greek-god perfection of St. John, the parson on whose doorstep Jane finds herself after recklessly running away from Rochester and Thornfield.

Today also I bought a HUGE bag of R/D dog food for little crits, imagine my astonishment when was told by folks at San Carlos Pet Hospital that said bag, which used to cost $43, was now $49. So of course I was short and had to put the tab on my card.

At the same time, was absolutely transfixed by sight of six members of a family shuffling out of an inner room at the vet’s, all six red-eyed and sniffling. Receptionists as well looked downcast, sad, so deemed it prudent to wait until the family had filed sloooowly out before catching someone’s eye.

At that point, I upped and fessed that one of our dogs (Bella, the 11-year-old) had a big lump on her back, and they asked me how long she’d had it and I shrugged and lied (truthfully, she’s had it for — let’s see– maybe almost a year now) and said, “Couple of weeks?” Receptionist said she’d note it on Bella’s chart.

When hubby came home, served him up a pizza (from Nino’s in San Carlos, they have the most absolutely scrumptious crust, and the last time I called there it was definitely a Filipino voice on the phone), then we settled down to watch a Duke/ Clemson game (Duke winning– by a lot!), and then switched to Star Wars, which hubby always watches whenever he gets the chance (though self is getting so tired of the ridiculous names, the ridiculous dialogue about “the Force” and “the Dark Side”), and I forget which episode this is but it’s the one where Count Duku and Yoda square off with their light sabers (which is amusing, like something out of MADtv, a puppet vs. evil Christopher “Dracula” Lee) and I think, well, maybe things aren’t so bad after all.

Get to watch Oprah Oscar Special at 10 (Pretty good– Julia Roberts absolutely fearless in peppering George Clooney with questions about his love life, and actually gets him to admit he’s had an “eye lift”; and Nicole interviewing Russell Crowe, who actually looks like he’d rather be anywhere else than The Beverly Hills Hotel, though he is polite and flatters NK and ends up asking her things that make her cry). Also glad to catch a little bit of Shark, which I hear is clobbering Boston Legal in the ratings.

Let’s see, nothing tomorrow, Saturday have good intentions to drop by book launch at Bayanihan Center, then dinner with brother-in-law visiting from New York. Sunday, of course, is Oscar night, Monday teach teach, Tuesday nothing, Wednesday teach teach, Thursday haircut, then appear on a panel at Bindlestiff in which am supposed to represent the far end of the generational divide — that is, am supposed to speak with the voice of wisdom while addressing concerns of young artists (Wow, how did I get to this position??), Friday is a faculty retreat at xxxx community college, why am I even attending, feel like such a poseur (privately acknowledge I’m not a very good teacher, but need bread, one cannot live off writing alone!).

Oh, enough of the self-pity, the moaning. Things could be worse. Time for a saying from Master Shih Cheng-Yen!

Still Thought # 80: “If you look at a chipped cup from another angle, it is still round.”

This Weekend in San Francisco . . .

In celebration of Philippine Cuisine month (Wow, it IS??? Why has no one told me until now???)

Arkipelago Books (of San Francisco) is holding a reception for

Memories of Philippine Kitchens: Stories and Recipes from Far and Near
By Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan
Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang

Saturday, February 24, 2007 from 3:00pm to 5:00pm at the Bayanihan Community Center, 1010 Mission Street (cross 6th Street), San Francisco, CA 94103.

Program includes short talk by Amy Besa, a cooking demonstration by Romy Dorotan, a presentation by Sid Valledor on the farmworkers of California, and remembrances about Filipino food by author Vangie Buell and Luisa Antonio of the Veterans Equity Center. There will also be a performance by international guitarist Florante Aguilar.

Suggested donation of $10 per person, all the proceeds of which will benefit the Filipino American Arts Exposition (FAAE) and the Bayanihan Community Center. Tickets are available thru Arkipelago Books (415) 879 0438. Seating is limited and we strongly advise you to purchase your tickets in advance.

We hope to see you there…

ARKIPELAGO The Filipino Bookstore
1010 Mission Street @the Bayanihan Community Center
San Francisco, CA 94103
415 553-8185 Tel, 415/553-8176 Fax
http://www.arkipelagobooks.com

A Quickie Post

Hmm, let’s see, what happened today?

It was the first work day after the long weekend, I *tried* to write, honest to God. I produced maybe two pages. Seeing as I still have 200 pages to go (before I can call this thing I’m writing a novel, that is), look vainly for encouragement, but end is nowhere in sight. Really love the instant gratification of the short story form, how I can pull everything together in ONE page, if need be. But I have committed to writing this thing (which I’m not even sure I can write– how’s that for chutzpah???).

In late afternoon (around 4 PM), decided to clear my brain by doing some errands. There was a humongous line at the post office, which only to be expected. Nice post office clerk, a cheerful Filipina, asked me if I’d won some award, since she noted the address on the envelope. “No,” I said. “I am applying TO an award, which I know anyway I’ll never win. But never mind. I’ll just keep going; I am te-na-cious.”

I went to neighborhood Peet’s and decided to get Aged Sumatra this time, since Major Dicakson’s blend (which I bought last Christmas) was major disappointment. On my way out, overheard a man telling a companion, “Well, pigeons are just borderline smart enough to be taught how to count.”

Then I got a call from my mother-in-law, which is something that happens only once every decade. You’d be amazed how long a conversation can go on when all you say is “Hello? Hello?” or “I don’t know” to everything. I believe it continued for 15 minutes, after I had promised 10 times to have hubby call her the minute he stepped in the door (which is, unlucky for me — since I don’t have anything for dinner — RIGHT NOW.).

Also, I was going to impart how much I am longing to hear about a REALLY GOOD UPCOMING MOVIE. But all I have heard about is The 300 (which, hey, looked fan-TAS-tic, loved the scene where someone I presume is King Leonidas kicks an enemy king into a huge pit and shouts, “This is Sparta!”. For some reason, heard Germans are very enthusiastic about this film, the folks at the Berlin Film Festival supposedly gave it a standing ovation.)

Hubby says it looks terrible, though. (This from a man who fell asleep last night, while watching The Departed.)

Well, now, I have informed hubby of his mother’s call, and they are now on the phone to each other, and there is some very exciting news mother-in-law is imparting, big sums of money implied to be changing hands (mostly to hers). I wonder why she gave not even a hint of this when I picked up the phone? Why she kept pressing me to reveal all my activities of the last month/year/decade??? I mean, this news is sooo big that hubby’s practically smacking his chops.

Meanwhile, must now address the immediate problem of what we are going to have for dinner.

More later …

Other News (Only Slightly Movie-Related)

Over brunch at Fat Cat’s Cafe in Avila Beach — our FAVE hang-out on the Central Coast — son revealed that Lindsay Lohan had been on the Cal Poly campus a few days earlier, filming a movie. Hubby and I then inquired if son had actually SEEN her. Regrettably, no, but several of his friends DID get walk-on parts as extras in some of the scenes.

“Did they get to say anything?” I asked.

Son said no, they were only used in the crowd shots, which, however, did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm.

He also revealed that he’d just seen Smokin’ Aces (personally refuse to watch anything Ben Affleck, son displays commendable independence by continuing to patronize aforementioned actor’s vehicles) and Ghost Rider.

Drove home, opened papers the next day and saw that Ghost Rider had opened HUGE– another feather in the cap for Nic Cage, who’s evolved into one of our generation’s most enduring leading men (Who would have thought???)

Meanwhile, back to news of the Central Coast. In the San Luis Obispo County Tribune, which I always buy when I visit son, there was a front-page article about student rowdiness during the (just ended) annual Mardi-Gras, with accompanying pic of student (female) being led away in handcuffs. In the Letters page, however, this peevish comment from one Ronald Mac of Paso Robles:

I’m tired of hearing about the SLO Mardi Gras riot. A few unruly college students and a couple of thrown beer bottles do not constitute a riot. Los Angeles’ Watts area was a riot.

Ha ha ha ha! Very well put, Ronald!

Finally, in other news closer to home, our local weekend Examiner trumpets: STANFORD, UCSF GARNER MILLIONS IN STEM CELL CASH.

An accompanying chart breaks down the allocation of funds (and this is only the first round, with more sure to follow):

Stanford University: $7.6 million
Burnham Institute for Medical Research (Where the hell is this??): $5.9 million
UC San Francisco: $4.2 million
UCLA: $4.1 million
UC San Diego: $3.6 million

Stanford cleans up AGAIN. This is getting boring. Everyone knows their grant writers are the best. And along with the grant come budget items for equipment, hiring of staff (with benefits), etc. etc. The juggernaut rolls on.

Why is Cal Poly nowhere on this list???

Here are the runners-up:

UC Irvine; University of Southern California; The Salk Institute; UC Riverside; UC Santa Cruz; UC Berkeley; UC Davis; Scripps Research Institute; Buck Institute for Age Research; Human BioMolecular Research Institute; Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research; Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles; UC Merced; City of Hope

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