“He Needs to Play a Vampire!”

Thank you, IMDB Boards, thank you for lifting self today from the Sloughs of Despond!

This afternoon, self, after spending hours and hours writing her magnum opus (and producing only one serviceable page), decided to begin googling Sean Maher.

Last night, on the edge of sleep, while self was prattling on and on to hubby about the book she is currently reading (Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory), hubby found a genius way to keep self quiet, and that was to find a science fiction movie, “Serenity,” which just happened last night to be showing on USA.

Self recalls having seen it Read the rest of this entry »

Tough Love for Writers: WRITE THAT BOOK ALREADY!

Self gleaned the following quote from Leah Garchik’s column in the San Francisco Chronicle of 22 June 2010:

Sam Barry and Kathi Kamen Goldmark were at Booksmith last Tuesday performing a scene from their new work, Write That Book Already! The Tough Love You Need to Get Published Now. Barry is marketing and promotions manager at HarperOne. Goldmark is a novelist, founder of the authors’ band the Rock Bottom Remainders and producer of “West Coast Live.” Together they write an Author Enablers blog on bookpage.com

The scene they performed was the editorial meeting at a publishing house where participants considered the merits of a bird-watchers’ mystery, “When the Sparrow Cried Wolf”; also “Churning to be President,” a coffee table volume of photos of presidential butter sculptures; and “Videology,” about the effect on human beings of the shows being aired on TV at the exact moment of their births.

After the playlet, the authors discussed editing, agents, marketing, promotions, jackets … all the stuff that goes with getting a book published.

Check them out, dear blog readers! Check them out now.

Foolish Hope

Today self mailed out a new story collection, to the Drue Heinz Literature Prize.

What can she say? Hope springs eternal, right?

Yes, hope springs eternal.

When people say, “You are so prolific!” how should self respond? Honestly, there are times when self just wants to slug them! Like writing one story every two months is so prolific! It took self 14 years between story collections, between Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila and Mayor of the Roses! This new collection represents twenty months of hard labor! That’s not prolific! That’s masochistic!

Anyhoo, self is keeping her fingers crossed.

(She doesn’t know why, but writing about these attempts on the blog somehow takes the edge off — ? Perhaps it’s the communicative aspect that makes it so therapeutic? That and the fact that she can’t think of anything else to write about today because it is so hawwwttt! Must be 90 degrees!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Some Thoughts on “Knight and Day”

Hubby and self caught the third screening of “Knight and Day” at downtown Redwood City Century 20 yesterday.  The reason we couldn’t catch the first screening was that earlier we were at La Azteca (Main St., Redwood City) along with a crowd of other people, boo-ing because the World Cup referee had awarded Argentina a goal against Mexico when everyone could see, hubby and self included, that it was off-side.

So, after the wild and exhausting viewing experience, we retreated to the calm depths of the movie theater, which ended up being so full that the only place we could find was three rows from the front, which put a crick in self’s neck and might have contributed to the nasty fall self took later, as she was attempting to re-fill the bird feeder in the apple tree.

But that’s neither here nor there.

What self wants to do today is focus on Tom Cruise. Yes, that Church of Scientology Famous Person whose secrets are known to all the High Priests of the Church (if you can believe various housekeepers etc who have spilled their little tidbits to the likes of Us Magazine) Self will refrain from participating in the gossip frenzy (for Kanlaon must always take the high road, dear blog readers).  But self Read the rest of this entry »

Things Self Did This Weekend That She Hasn’t Done in a Very Very Long Time

(Caveat: Self is not going to discuss yesterday’s excruciating US loss to Ghana in the World Cup knock-out round! Noooo!)

She saw a chees-y movie. This one was on the Syfy Channel and was called “Suprecroc vs. Dinogator.” Or was it “Dinogator vs. Supercroc”? Never mind. All dear blog readers need to know is that it was produced by Roger “King of the B Movies” Corman and that it featured a special guest appearance by the late David Carradine. Oh, and of course: there were gazillions of babes in neon-colored bikinis who were getting chomped up one by one. And a Crocodile Dundee-type of guy dressed in black leather and a black Cowboy hat.

Self also stood in the lobby of the Century 20 and looked at the advertisements for upcoming movies. “Predators” (with Adrian Brody and Laurence Fishburne) is coming July 4th weekend. “Resident Evil” with Milla Jovovich is likewise opening in July. And “Twilight: Eclipse” is showing next weekend. (Did anyone catch Taylor Lautner last night on SNL? He was hi-LA-rious!)

Made Kare-Kare (cheated: used Mama Sita’s Kare-Kare mix). The broth was rather watery, but the meat was falling off the bone, and hubby rated the dish A+. Self thinks the last time she made kari-kari was over 10 years ago.

Bought “Bavarian Emmentaler” cheese from German Haus on Broadway. The owner, an elderly but still quite hale-looking gent, was climbing over the upstairs balcony to fix a sign. His wife, at the cashier’s table, yelled but he paid no mind. She then turned to me and said, “Men!”

Self continued to read Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory, assigned reading almost 30 years ago in a class on the Literature of World War I. She has no memory of this book, at all. But she sees her own twenty-something notes scribbled on the margins. This, as self is sure she doesn’t need to inform dear blog readers, is a very eerie experience. Here is what she reads, on p. 131:

Ernest Parker, miraculously spared while his battalion was all but wiped out on September 16, 1916, says in 1964: “One day … I shall revisit that little undulation in the fields between Gueudecourt and Delville Wood on an early morning in mid-September. There I will give thanks for being spared another fifty years of happy and fruitful life … ” Such leanings towards ritual, such needs for significant journeys and divisions and returns and sacramental moments, must make us skeptical of Bernard Bergonzi’s conclusion: “The dominant movement in the literature of the Great War was … from a myth-dominated to a demythologized world.” No: almost the opposite. In one sense the movement was towards myth, towards a revival of the cultic, the mystical, the sacrificial, the prophetic, the sacramental, and the universally significant. In short, towards fiction.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“The Killer Inside Me”: “Kinatay,” the American Version

Self has heard so much buzz about this movie.  Apparently, it is so horrifying, so brutal, so repulsive, that before screenings, someone has to go to the front of the theater and warn the audience that this movie is “not for the faint of heart.”

Which immediately puts self in mind of the Brillante Mendoza movie she saw at the Yerba Buena Center two weeks ago, “Kinatay.”

Self will be eternally grateful to Joel Tan and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts for:  a) showing this movie (Apparently, it was considered so “strong” that copies were confiscated from UP just before a screening); and b) for inviting self to be one of the discussants for a Q & A with the members of the audience afterwards.  Yes, it was strong stuff.  But there was a message to the violence.  Yes, you can take it.  Yes, you are allowed to lower your eyes for a minute or two during the goriest sections.  No, it was not as gory as “Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Part 2.”  One Filipino male in the audience even complained that “it was not gory enough.”  Which self found even more shocking a statement than the movie itself.

Back to “The Killer Inside Me.”  According to Michael Winterbottom at “notcomingtoatheatrenearyou” (One of self’s favorite movie blogs!), it is “nauseatingly brutal.”  It’s apparently based on a 1952 Jim Thompson novel.  OK, self knows only that Jim Thompson is “noir.”  And that his novels are short.  Casey Affleck (Casey Affleck!) plays a “murderous” small-town sheriff in Texas.  There is a quote from the novel included in Winterbottom’s review.  Readers can judge for themselves whether this example of “pulp” writing at its most pulp is truly brutal (Self thinks not.  It is just —  graphic.  For true brutality, one would have to read E. L. Doctorow’s first novel, the one about the murderous cowboy.  Or how about a book self just finished reading, Virgil’s The Aeneid)

OK, OK, self will not go on and on about “The Killer Inside Me.”  Especially not when what she really wants dear blog readers to focus on is “Kinatay.”  Dear blog readers, despite the nauseating rape, this is not a snuff movie.  And it has a score of really brave actors and actresses.  And a very brave director.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.   Stay tuned.

“Say Hi to Everybody”

Above quote was in the Annette Bening/Naomi Watts/Samuel L. Jackson movie that self saw at Palo Alto Square a few months ago.  The movie was “Mother and Child,” and it vanished in a jiffy.  But self will not soon forget the performances, particularly Naomi Watts’, as a ferociously ambitious woman whose psychic scars (She was adopted?  Does that qualify as a psychic scar?) lead her to make of all sexual partners mincemeat.

After one particular egregious affair (with her married next-door neighbor, whose wife is expecting their first child), she says, as the man gets up to leave:  “Say hi to everybody,” in a small, surprisingly child-like voice.  Self doesn’t know what it is about this actress, but her vulnerability shines in every role, even one as unlikable as this one.

Why is self thinking of Naomi Watts this morning, when “Ninja Assassin,” her next Netflix movie, is in the DVD player, and son is asleep in his room (having crawled in at 4 a.m.?)  Self just got through about three hours of writing.  She didn’t add a single page to any of her stories, even after spending all that time at her computer.  She really is astonished:  it felt like she’d written at least 10 pages worth of prose.  But, apparently, everything she wrote filled in these huge blank spaces on her various narratives.  Now those narratives look more “textured”  —  that is, there are not as many huge, gaping spaces.  But neither did her page count budge, not one inch.

To which, self can only respond:   AAARRRGGGH!!!!

What is the point of being a writer when you make no money, your neck aches all the time, and you can spend all morning at your desk, and you still end up with the same number of pages you had before you spent the morning at your laptop?  Why, God, why?

Self realizes she is being overly dramatic.  Lots of writers suffer similar frustrations, she is sure.  Now would be a good time for self to get some errands done, before son wakes up.  Because even if all she does is spend 10 minutes with son today (He is always in a rush to meet some friend or other, even when he visits home), she will feel the day has been an unqualified success!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Siegfried Sassoon: Echoes of a War Long Past (World War I)

Self’s fascination with war literature came when her friend Penny Jackson told her about a class at Stanford on Literature of World War I, taught by the late Albert Guerard. Until that class, she had never heard of Ford Madox Ford or Siegfried Sassoon. He also made required reading The Great War and Modern Memory, by Paul Fussell.

The raw material to be trained was growing steadily worse.  Most of those who came in now had joined the Army unwillingly, and there was no reason why they should find military service tolerable.  The war had become undisguisedly mechanical and inhuman.  What in earlier days had been drafts of volunteers were now droves of victims.  I was just beginning to be aware of this.

–  Siegfried Sassoon, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer

Here’s a further quote from the same book:

In 1917 …  I was only beginning to learn that life, for the majority of the population, is an unlovely struggle against unfair odds, culminating in a cheap funeral.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Longest Day

In case, dear reader, you have not read the post immediately preceding this one, June 21 is the longest day of the year. At least here in the western Hemisphere.

According to Wikipedia:

” … the sun’s motion seen by an earthbound observer caused by the revolution of the tilted axis which, keeping the same angle in space, is oriented toward or away from the Sun, is an observed diurnal increment (and lateral offset) of the elevation of the Sun for approximately six months and observed daily decrement for the remaining six months. At maximum or minimum elevation the relative motion at 90 degrees to the horizon stops and changes direction by 180 degrees. The maximum is the summer solstice and the minimum is the winter solstice.”

(Please, someone, explain to self what it is she just typed? She isn’t even sure that is English???)

Self swears, the following narrative is absolutely true:

    She had just decided, no Scotland for her, at least this year, instead she’ll go home to Manila. She had just called Dearest Mum with the news, and there was happiness, yes there was happiness, for niece G will be home this December, too.

    Then she saw the comment left by Adrian Lizares, who takes care of the old family home in Talisay: “It’s been a year since you came. Do come again.”

    “Yes,” self said right away. “I will come. December … “

Stay tuned.

Today, the Sun

Oh, the sun is really bright. And it’s only 9:03 a.m.

They say June 21 is the longest day of the year.

At the moment, self is in the backyard, having coffee. Bella, self’s older beagle, is inside, unable to do much more than sleep and eat now. She is 15 years old, which makes her as old as Methuselah. The younger one lies next to self on the deck. Dogs are God’s creatures, through and through.

The weekend just ended was such a good weekend. Not only did self get to go to the Mountain View Farmers Market, yesterday she saw no less than three movies.

Yup, you read right, dear blog readers. First, there was the 11 a.m. show of “Get Him to the Greek.” My, the chemistry between Russell Brand and Jonah Hill was really quite touching. And self can’t remember laughing this much during a movie, ever. Four stars.

After dinner, she Read the rest of this entry »

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