Best Movies (So Far, 2010)

The movies self liked best (so far) in 2010.  Self decided to include “Directed by.”  There were a couple of movies self is sorry she missed, like the Joan Rivers documentary, “A Piece of Work,” the sci-fi/horror film “Splice,” and the Bill O’Reilly/Jonah Hill/Marisa Tomei movie, “Cyrus.” And she hasn’t yet seen “The Social Network.”  And, self has to come clean, she isn’t much into animation (Hence, no “Toy Story 3″ :

  • The Town (Ben Affleck)
  • Inception (Chris Nolan)
  • Kick-Ass (Matthew Vaughn)
  • The Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski)
  • Mother and Child (Rodrigo Garcia)
  • Please Give (Nicole Holofcener)
  • Restrepo (Tim Hetherington)
  • Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik)
  • Get Him to the Greek (Nicholas Stoller)
  • Dinner for Schmucks (Jay Roach)
  • Get Low (Aaron Schneider)
  • Cairo Time (Ruba Nadda)

Most “Fun” Movie That Made No Sense:  Machete

Worst (a tie):  Salt / The Expendables

Addendum:

Most Enjoyable Performances:  Jeremy Renner and Pete Postlethwaite, “The Town”; Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Cillian Murphy, “Inception”; Chloe Moretz, “Kick-Ass”; Ewan McGregor, “The Ghost Writer”; Naomi Watts, “Mother and Child”; Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt, “Please Give”; Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”; Russell Brand and Jonah Hill, “Get Him to the Greek”; Steve Carell, “Dinner for Schmucks”; Robert Duvall, “Get Low”; Patricia Clarkson, “Cairo Time”

Stay tuned.

Sniffing Around

Self decided to google a few famous people and see who their agents were.  She finds this activity veeery relaxing!  She limited her celebrity searches to anyone she could think of whose last name began with the letter “L.”  How self loves devising these little pastimes!

Here are a few names of famous people, followed by their agents (BTW, self is fairly sure that some of these people are deceased):

  • Jhumpa Lahiri, Eric Simonoff
  • Dalai Lama, Noah Lukeman
  • Wally Lamb, Linda Chester
  • Margaret Lawrence, Jane Chelius
  • Don Lee, Maria Massie
  • Harper Lee, Samuel Pinkus
  • Dennis Lehane, Ann Rittenberg
  • Jim Lehrer, Timothy Seldes
  • Jerry Lewis, Johnny Geller
  • A. J. Liebling, Jesseca Salky
  • Penelope Lively, Emma Sweeney

And that’s it!  The list of famous people whose last names begin with “L” whose representation self looked up today.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Lunch in Hillsborough in the Company of Dearest Mum

Lunch was at the Burlingame Country Club, as guests of a friend of Dearest Mum’s.

In attendance, aside from self and Dearest Mum and her friend, two of self’s aunts.

When we arrived, were greeted by various very thin blonde ladies, all looking as if they’d just returned from the beach (meaning:  deeply tanned).

White-jacketed waiters were all Filipino.  Self felt she was back in the Manila Polo Club.

A waiter explained that the power was out.  So there was no airconditioning.  Not only that, the only food available was a salad buffet.  There was no iced tea, but we could have Diet Pepsi.

Self was wearing this ridiculous, tight, Emilio Pucci blouse that Dearest Mum had given her.  Upon catching a glimpse of herself in the mirror directly over the buffet (That is exceedingly bad placement for a mirror, in self’s humble opinion.  If one looks even slightly overweight, one’s desire to eat is completely extinguished), self thought:  “Methinks I will sign up for the next season of The Biggest Loser.”

In the course of the lunch, self discovered that aunt is completely blown away by the re-tooled “Hawaii Five-O” (Self caught a re-play of the pilot while she was cooling her heels in The Fairmont, last Saturday), and especially by Scott Caan, who self promptly pronounced “ugly.”  The only reason to watch that show, in self’s humble opinion, is Daniel Dae Kim.  And possibly Grace Park.  Who has quite an enviable surfer tan.

And then self learned that the same aunt cannot wait to see “The Social Network” (which self also looks forward to watching, though hubby professes to have no interest)

Let’s see, what else?  Self learned that an aunt who recently passed away was the daughter of a Thomasite, one of the first boatloads of American teachers to come to the Philippines.

Then self heard all talk of what a wicked bridge player Dearest Mum used to be (She used to represent the Philippines in international bridge tournaments, dear blog readers.  Dearest Mum is truly a Renaissance woman)

Then all the aunts flashed pictures of their beautiful grandchildren.  Dearest Mum showed pictures of Ying’s daughter, Anita.  And, seeing how beautiful and how much like Ying she looked, self’s heart gave a lurch.

And that is about all self feels able to write now, dear blog readers.  As she is melting, and the garden is parched, and it is time to water.

Looking Back: Cousin’s Apartment, Tudor City Place

A window in cousin's apartment, Tudor City Place, New York City

What a trip self had, last week, with Dearest Mum in New York.  There was a point where self thought she might not survive it.  It was late afternoon, Dearest Mum and self had somehow lost each other in Washington Square Park (There was some kind of fair:  all kinds of vendors and art exhibits.  Self chatted to a DC Comic Vendor and bought a Superman comic, an early one).  Then she lost Dearest Mum.  It was the most awful, panicky feeling.   She flagged a passing cab, and told the driver to circle.

“Who are you looking for?” inquired the cab driver.

“My mom,” self said.

“What does she look like?”

“She’s Asian” (DUH!!!).  “She’s short.  She’s wearing black.”

Cab driver, looking around:  “Gee, there are a lot of Asian women around here!”

But he was nice.  Later, Dearest Mum called self from a cab.  She had decided to abandon self and head back to the apartment in Tudor City Place.  Self forsook the cab and decided to take the subway home.  She got off at Grand Central and stopped to look over the seafood display in Grand Central Market.  She ended up buying crab cakes to take home for dinner.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Reading The Malahat Review, on the Hottest Day of 2010

Why.

That is all the energy self can summon up, today.

Why have we had three successive days of the hottest weather of the year?

Where is fall?

Why is Redwood City 20 degrees hotter than New York?

Can self summon up the energy to re-enter her (boiling) car, and watch another movie?

Yesterday, right after getting back from teaching a Writing Lab, self barely made it to the 3:30 screening of “Cairo Time,” at the Menlo Park Guild.

Which was excellent.  Not only that, the characters were constantly remarking on the heat.  Ninety degrees in November, or something to that effect.  If only self had a figure like Patricia Clarkson’s.  From the back, she looks like a teen-ager —  yes, her waist is that slim.  And her blonde hair is wonderfully voluminous and feminine.  And she has hips, people!  Not fat, pear-shaped hips, but slender hips!  And the guy who played her escort (Not in that way, just a friendly escort around Cairo, to keep Patricia from the unwanted attentions of roving males) had gorgeous, Omar Sharif eyes.  And the background piano music was just gorgeous.

But, today, self had nothing as exciting on her plate.  And it was just as hot.  Or even hotter.

After hubby took himself off to his dreary office, which is causing him to smoke excessively, and therefore polluting not only his lungs but self’s, self had to water.  Water, water, water.

Then she had to mail something to the Vermont Studio Center.  Due October 1, and since the Vermont Studio Center is in some remote area called Johnson, Vermont (354 miles directly north of New York City!), she had to mail the stuff today, and the FedEx rate was $29.01.

Then she went to Barnes and Noble, and hunkered down in the Mysteries section.  And found two more mystery writers she had never read before:  Christopher Fowler (a mystery called White Corridor), and Louise Penny.

And then she proceeded to Safeway, to replenish her stock of Minute Maid Lemonade.  And she decided to replenish the two cartons of lemonade with a six-pack of Shiner Bock.  And some whole wheat bread.

And after getting home, she watered some more.  And when she had reached the point of almost total exhaustion and resentment (Gods!  Why inflict this punishing heat on a woman who cannot afford a regular gardener?  And whose husband doesn’t believe in automatic sprinklers?), she decided to read The Malahat Review.  And the first piece her eyes landed on was a poem called

“The Sad Truth About Engineers”

!!##@@!!

which happened to be written by a woman named Karen Schindler, described in the “Notes on Contributors” as having herself been a former “chemical engineer.”  But Ms. Schindler has apparently escaped that sad existence, for she is described as “director of the Poetry London Reading Series in London, Ontario.”

The poem begins:

His bed propped up by a stack of textbooks,

twist of sheets at your feet.  Outside the window,

sunflowers.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Self’s Most Memorable Drive

The most memorable drive of self’s life took place last Saturday night, while self was ferrying Dearest Mum from Redwood City to San Jose (the Fairmont) for a dinner with Noynoy of the Philippines and entourage.

Notwithstanding that Dearest Mum arrived like a whirlwind, just as self was changing to a presentable outfit.  Notwithstanding that, in 10 minutes at self’s house, Dearest Mum had:

  • gotten hubby to iron her evening clothes for her;
  • dumped a shopping bag of stretch pants for self (newest acquisitions from Nordstrom’s Rack);
  • and changed into a wondrous glowing orange outfit, then asked self what she thought of her shell and macramé belt (“Does this look Filipino enough?”) and her new metallic shoes.

Notwithstanding all of the above, the most memorable drive of self’s entire life happened just five minutes later, when self discovered that:

  • The white Honda Civic Dearest Mum had been using, the past several days, was actually the car of her nephew who had just graduated from Santa Clara University.
  • The airconditioner wasn’t working, so self had to roll down her car windows, and Dearest Mum complained because she had just been to the parlor and paid $40 for a shampoo and blow-dry, which according to her was the most she had ever spent for the procedure, ever
  • When self attempted to shield Dearest Mum from the wind by rolling up her car windows, she nearly fell prey to heat exhaustion:  rivulets of perspiration began flowing copiously down self’s neck.  She threw a sidelong glance at Dearest Mum and saw her applying make-up and this nearly caused self to swerve into the next lane.
  • Nephew’s car windows, when rolled up, emit a disconcerting BANG!  (as if an engine were backfiring somewhere), and self, the first time she heard it, screamed WHAT WAS THAT?  And Dearest Mum yelled, That is nothing!  Don’t complain about things you can’t change!  Just hurry up and drive!!!

Self could hardly focus, just imagining Dearest Mum tooling around with blow-dried hair in a car with no air-conditioner, on what felt like absolutely the hottest day of the year.  And, furthermore, self was not invited to the dinner, so there was nothing in it for her.

Nevertheless, that was a memorable experience.  One of many memorable experiences that self will now store in the great filing cabinet of her brain, for possible future use in a short story.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“Machete” Has a Plot (Per The New Yorker)

According to The New Yorker of 27 September 2010, which self is reading shortly after having returned from watching Ben Affleck’s “The Town” (Simply a masterpiece; more on which later), “Machete,” a movie self saw in between New York trips, and in what passes for her summer, is about “a Mexican drug lord (Steven Seagal)” who “conspires with a dishonest, anti-immigration Texas senator (Robert De Niro) and a sadistic border-control commander (Don Johnson) to build a wall along the border through which only his own contraband would be allowed.”

Oh, so that’s what “Machete” was all about!   Funny, the plot doesn’t sound even vaguely familiar.  Self had no idea —  absolutely none  —  that there was even a plot of any kind.  All self knows is:

There was Jessica Alba pretending to be a cop —  No, wait!  She was a real cop!  It was Machete who was pretending to be a cop.  No, wait!  He plays a real cop as well!

Oh, well, self remembers the movie with utmost affection, in part because of the following cameos:

  • Jessica Alba scrambles on to the hood of a car and delivers a rousing pro-immigrant speech!
  • Danny Trejo as “Machete” tells Jessica Alba (whose character is besotted with him, which is a really clever touch, as Machete is —  well, come on:  He’s old and ugly) that he “doesn’t text,” and then later texts and explains to Jessica, “Machete improvises!”
  • And, boy, does Machete ever improvise, especially in an action sequence set in a hospital, where he makes what is probably the most ingenious use ever of a bad guy’s intestines!

Apologies for the long digression, dear blog readers.  Now, back to “The Town.”  This movie was great (possibly even better than “Inception,” for pure story-telling).  Of all the outstanding performances in it (Pete Postlethwaite having some kind of renaissance, with his parts in “Inception” and this movie, and the roles could not be more different!), self’s favorites were:  Ben Affleck’s, Blake Lively’s, and Jeremy Renner’s.  Especially Jeremy Renner’s.  Even when Renner is simply walking, he has a swagger.  It was a tightly wound performance.  And self really did feel bad for Blake Lively’s character, and this was especially surprising considering that Ms. Lively was playing a Boston-bred woman, and self knows very well that she grew up in Tarzana, California.

Let’s see, what else?  Self finished reading Kjell Eriksson’s The Cruel Stars of the Night.  It was the first bad Scandinavian mystery she’s ever read, doesn’t come close to Henning Mankell.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

A Passel of Thrillers (From THE NEW YORKER “Briefly Noted” of July 12 & 19, 2010)

Self catching up on her stacks of unread New Yorkers.  Here she is in the Briefly Noted section of the July 12 & 19, 2010 issue.  Yay, they’re all mysteries, which self loves:

Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

The third and final installment of Larsson’s engrossing posthumous series finds the defiant, punked-out, inked-up girl hacker Lisbeth Salander under arrest in a Swedish hospital bed, a bullet removed from her skull and, down the hall, a threatening co-patient —  her father —  plotting her demise.

Alan Furst’s Spies of the Balkans

A police official named Costa Zannis —  dog-lover, Simenon reader —  designs escape routes for Jews fleeing from Germany to Turkey, attempts to ferry a downed R.A.F. pilot out of Paris, and conducts love affairs with a series of mysterious international beauties.

Tom Hinshelwood’s The Killer

At its center is Victor, a.k.a. Tesseract, a meticulous assassin who finds himself targeted by the same group that has just hired him to kill a Latvian with an important flash drive.

Peter Steiner’s The Terrorist

Few men of any age could so nimbly chase down Taliban leaders and Al Qaeda sleepers —  all while undergoing chemotherapy for prostate cancer.

Isn’t that a bunch of interesting reads?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Lillian, Who Is Full of Wisdom

Lillian says, “Your blog entries of the past two weeks would make a great novel!”

Thank you, Lillian!

Oh, did self ever share with dear blog readers that Lillian is brilliant ???  Here’s a link to the book she edited for University of Hawaii Press, a collection of short stories by the iconic Wakako Yamauchi.

Noynoy, President of the Philippines, is somewhere in the building.

By building, self means:  the venerable Fairmont Hotel in San Jose.

The entrance was brimming with flags and Filipino security personnel!

When self drove up to the main entrance, Dearest Mum floated out of the car, looking like a ravishing bright orange popsicle.  (Hubby had roused himself from football to iron Dearest Mum’s gorgeous piña scarf for her, as self was frantically rushing around trying to pat Dearest Mum’s forehead with a fresh towel and apply some make-up)

Self skedaddled to find parking.

Then, having realized that she was really in no condition to join Dearest Mum for the benefit dinner with assorted Silicon Valley bigwigs, she looked around the hotel for a restaurant.  And stumbled into a dark, wood-paneled, very “Old World” type restaurant called The Grill on the Alley.

Self asked for a table for 1.  She was led to a booth.  She saw that all the entrees started at $24.95.

Self decided to order an ahi tuna appetizer (Only $14.95!) and a cup of soup ($6.50).  Then she ordered the “super duper special chocolate soufflé” (Menu indicated it takes 30 minutes to prepare, so she made sure to tell her waitress to start preparing it).  Then she decided, in honor of niece G, to order one of niece’s favorite beers, Blue Moon.

She would have ordered a vodkatini in honor of Drew, but she didn’t know how she would be able to make it back home, plugged up with Ketel One vodka and Cointreau (Ah, Korean restaurant on Mercer Street, self misses you already)

Hubby declined to accompany self, which is just as well, since self has to work —  er, blog.  Anyhoo, the Dear Man is happy being home by himself, with the two li’l crits, and the HDTV.

*     *     *     *

Having just partaken of the soup (She asked for a “cup” and it came out like a floating sea), self can safely confide to dear blog readers that this was absolutely the best cream of mushroom soup she has ever tasted.

Now for the seared ahi tuna appetizer.

How very convenient that Dearest Mum threw her wallet at self as she was exiting the car!  Self peeked inside and saw, delicately nestled within, two hundred-dollar bills.  Which should more than cover the cost of self’s dinner.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Sooo Hawwtt Today in Redwood City!

It is so so haaawwtt today.

So much hotter than it was in New York.

Self is going crazy with the watering, for apparently hubby was so transfixed by football that he neglected to water, not even once.

Furthermore, Gracie is lame.

“What’s wrong with her leg?” self inquired as soon as she arrived.

“Nothing,” hubby said.  “She’s fine.”

The poor li’l crit doesn’t seem to be in pain, but she is definitely favoring her left front leg, and holding her right paw gingerly in the air.

Today, hubby is transfixed by Stanford vs. Notre Dame.  It’s the third quarter, and Stanford is leading by 10 points.  The Stanford quarterback, Andrew Luck, is so good.  Self inquires if hubby would be interested in catching a home game at Stanford.  Hubby then cries, “Nooo!!!  It’s too hoot!”  He’s probably right, they have been at other games at Stanford, and the un-shaded seats are sweltering.  But she’s always wanted to get a tan!  Self knows she looks better with a tan, as witness all those photographs of herself taken in Boracay, Bohol, etc etc etc

In a little while, Dearest Mum will arrive in her rented car (if she doesn’t hit anything first).  Self doesn’t think Dearest Mum should be permitted onto any freeway.  Niece G said that, Thursday night, when they were heading to Redwood City, cars were honking at Dearest Mum.  Anyhoo, the plan for this evening is that Dearest Mum has been invited by Dear Sister-in-Law to attend a dinner at the Fairmont in San Jose, in honor of the Philippine president Noynoy.  But she doesn’t trust herself to drive that distance, so she is stopping off at Redwood City first so that self can take over the driving.  But, once at the Fairmont, Dearest Mum emphasizes that self is not invited to the dinner.  The tickets were issued very far in advance.  Self texts her sister-in-law, and her sister-in-law confirms that, indeed, there are no more tickets to this fabulous dinner.

That’s OK.  Self is sure she’d fall asleep listening to Noynoy.  Thing is, she has to hang around there because Dearest Mum says she wants self to be ready to drive her home.  Self thought it would be so nice if hubby came too, then she would have company while waiting for Dearest Mum.

“We could have a drink at the Fairmont,” self suggests tentatively.

“Are you kidding?” hubby bursts forth.  “Drinks at the Fairmont are expensive!  At least $8 each!”

Self wonders how hubby has come by this information, as to her knowledge he has never taken her there.

Anyhoo, if self has to wait for Dearest Mum while she attends this fabulous dinner, she’ll be damned if she waits in the car.  She darn well will go and have a drink.  In fact, many drinks!  $8 apiece or no!  That way, when Dearest Mum finally emerges from the fabulous dinner, and is ready to be driven home, self will be in trés happy mood!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

« Older entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 587 other followers