Still Swooning Over Nemirovsky

Almost to the end of Fire in the Blood, dear blog readers!  No worries, self is only about 20 pages from the end.  Soon, self will be on to the next book in her reading list.  Then there will be none of this endless quoting of passages about rural France (whose social traditions remind self so much of Bacolod).

In the passage self has just finished reading, the novel’s narrator describes an erstwhile love, Helene, who had been married off to a man (Montrifaut) forty years older than she.  Helene bore her fate with unparalleled courage and dignity, and the villagers “all praised Helene for the way she behaved”:

But I found out something that no one else knew:  old Montrifaut was Read the rest of this entry »

Blooming Today in Self’s Garden/ Reading Patrick Leigh Fermor

Bushy Geranium in Side Yard-- Has Been Blooming for Months

Fourth of July, one of self's oldest surviving roses

Self finds it exceedingly curious that her backyard has all of the red flowers (The prevailing color scheme in the front yard is blue, white, and yellow)

Today, self’s in the thick of Patrick Leigh Fermor’s 1933 walk across Europe, A Time of Gifts.  He spends much time in Germany.  Aside from the historical value of seeing Germany through the prism of a British teen-ager, the writing is so drop-dead gorgeous that it fills self with the utmost awe and amazement.  It makes self ineffably sad to think that this —  the discovery of a new writer —  can only be had once:  that is, the next time she encounters a book by Fermor, she’ll know what to expect.  There can’t be that excitement, that she feels right now.

Self remembers feeling similarly awed by the writing of Antonio Muñoz Molina in Sepharad.  As regular dear blog readers know, self spent almost her whole month in Bacolod reading this one book.  She’s often been tempted to buy a copy to keep, but she knows the experience of reading Sepharad in Bacolod, in January 2011, can never be duplicated.  Even if she had the book, self would be extremely reluctant to tamper with the memory of reading it there, at that particular point in time, which she feels would inevitably happen if she began to re-read (Self, there you go again with your profound sensitivities!)

P. S.:  Today, self happened to drop by Woodside Plaza.  As further evidence (as if any were needed) that the California ecomony really really sucks, there was a big sign in front of neighborhood stalwart McWhorter’s Stationers:  STORE CLOSING, EVERYTHING MUST GO.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Sun-Struck June Sunday: at the de Young Museum

The front courtyard of the de Young Museum

Today, went with hubby and son to see the Picasso Exhibit which opened last week at the de Young Museum.  Self thinks this is the first time she fully understood why the word “genius” is often appended to the painter’s name.

This is also the first time self has ever heard the word “vampiric” associated with anyone who was not actually a vampire or a character in a book.  That word was on the audio-tour that accompanies the exhibit, and was used by a friend of the painter’s to describe how the already 90-year-old Picasso derived energy from his guests and would use it to feed his art, often going straight from the dinner table to his studio, where he would paint with furious abandon, sometimes for the entire night.

Self had bought tickets for the Picasso exhibit, but for mid-July.  Nevertheless, she wasn’t sure son would be visiting then, so she insisted we go today.  And it turned out the tickets for July could not be switched, self had to buy a whole new set of tickets.  But son had his student ID, and self had her museum membership card, so for hubby, self, and son the tab came out to $51.  Which she was all too willing to pay, since son isn’t home very often.  (Self had a hard time understanding why son’s student ticket cost more than hers and hubby’s, but the young Filipina who issued the tickets insisted that the membership discounts and the student discounts had been applied.  And since she was very sweet, and started addressing self in Tagalog, self decided to forbear further argument)

Then, self paid for three audio-tours.  It was such a good tour that self kept stopping to replay certain portions.  Self (she thought), at the rate you’re going, you will never get out of here!  It was also curious because now and then, hubby or son, who self presumed were now way ahead of her, would periodically surface by her side.  So, presumably, they were stopping and re-playing portions of the tour as well.

Then self thought to whip out her little red notebook and jot down things she found particularly salient from the tour.  And she noticed that whenever she did so, hubby would be hovering.  So then, self began backing away every time she caught a glimpse of hubby.  (It is very very hard to  live with a writer —  they develop sensitivities.  Such as —  self really grits her teeth when someone tries to strike up a conversation with her, while she is writing in her notebook.  She wondered if hubby realized this and was hovering on purpose.  She managed to elude him for a couple of paintings and then he surfaced again towards the end.  At which point, self simply gave up and decided it was time to re-join the world of the normal)

It was a gorgeous day:  Still, upon leaving the musuem, walking in the shade by the Japanese Tea Garden, self needed to don her hoodie.

In Stow Lake, where we parked the car, self saw, in addition to the usual mallards and sharp-beaked white birds:  five turtles lined up in a row, on a rock in the middle of the lake.

In the exhibit, there was a sculpture of a head, and this one was called “Le Fou” (Jester).

How strange:  the piece self just had accepted by Used Furniture Review is called “Jesters.”

She’s gone years, perhaps even decades, never once encountering this word, and now she has encountered it twice, in the space of a month.

She also discovers, today, that son’s research topic for his Ph.D. in Social Psychology is something about how to foster creativity.  Which she thinks is a very good topic for a dissertation.  At least, it is enormously interesting to self.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Places: 2011

Places encountered in the Philippines:

  • Balay Daku, Burgos Street, Bacolod
  • La Vista Highland Resort
  • L’Fisher Chalet!  You’re the best!  Self loved, more than anything, chatting with the staff, who at first mis-took her for a doctor (Doctors Without Borders had arrived, almost the same time as self.  Self hates that she had to leave the same day as Chinese New Year, when the Dragon Parade was just entering the hotel lobby)
  • Bailon Fastfood, Pendy’s, Virgie’s and every bakery known to man in Bacolod
  • Silay:  Balay Negrense
  • Louie’s, Lacson Street, Bacolod
  • The Landmark, Makati (the Tar-zhay of the Philippines, and the place for dresses, self kids you not)
  • Peking Duck something something in Makati somewhere, this was supposed to be her “farewell” lunch or some such.  At least, all her brothers were present.  Dearest Mum got into a fight with a waitress because a dish listed on the menu as “with walnuts” presented “with kasoy.”

Places encountered since getting back to California:

A First: The Nothing-Inside-the-SASE Rejection

Today, in the mail (which self eagerly awaits every day, in the hope that she might receive some good news), self spied one of her SASEs.

This accompanies every single story she sends out by snail mail.

Self saw the postmark stamp:  Los Angeles.  Hmm, which journal could that be?

The envelope weighed almost nothing:  self tore it open, and then probed into every corner.

Dismay!  Nothing:  the envelope was absolutely empty.

Which meant she then had to go to her personal spreadsheet of Stories Mailed Out, and search for “Los Angeles,” and the closest thing she could come up with was an address in Beverly Hills, for The Rattling Wall.

Oh, must be The Rattling Wall, then.

She sent them one of her hybrid pieces.

As Howard Junker used to write on his rejection slips for ZYZZYVA (There was always something personal he would add for the budding writer, not simply a “We have read your piece and found it doesn’t suit our needs”):

Onward!  (In other words:  suck it up and quit moaning!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

For Those Who Find Themselves Adrift in America

Here are some sure-fire things you can do to enhance your American life:

  • Eat.  Develop rolls and rolls of jelly fat.  America is # 1 place for hamburger, steak, and fast food.  Why knock it?  Just close your eyes and enjoy it.  The most fattening food imaginable are:  fro-yo; Coke;  and anything from Popeye’s.  French fries are also good:  the best are from The Counter or Hayes Street Grill in San Francisco.  Go to a diner or, even better, many diners.  Make sure you wear shorts, exhibit your thigh ripples, and BE PROUD!  This is America!  Belly rolls are a badge of honor in the ‘burbs!
  • Pamper your pooch.  Dogs are an American’s best friend.  Lose yourself in Petco.  Take classes to improve your dog grooming skills.
  • Read.  You will not have one million relatives knocking at your door or texting.  No one will know if you disappear into the library for days.  Weeks.  Months.  No one will notice.  Trust self.  Be trés geeky.  Lug around Crime and Punishment.  Better yet, lug around Vol. 6 of Edward Gibbons’ Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.  Tacitus may be an acceptable substitute.  Especially if hardcover.
  • Watch “trash TV.”  Some of self’s favorites:  America’s Next Top Model, The Real Housewives of New York City, The Real Housewives of Orange County.  Or watch the SYFY channel:  last night, self watched a movie where Ryan Reynolds, a vaguely Eliza Dushku-looking woman, and three American brats get sucked into the evil para-normal vibes of a quaint country house (“Amityville Horror”).  Self thinks one of the brats was a very very young Chloe Moretz.  Or perhaps one can go the more classy route and watch “Warehouse 13.”  (One need not go as low as “The World According to Paris.”)
  • Watch Steven Colbert and Jon Stewart and fancy yourself trés cool.  Or Letterman, if you can understand him.  Do NOT EVER stoop to watching Leno.
  • If you are a writer like self, send out, to at least 20 magazines a day.  Make the post office clerks (usually Filipina, a boon) your BFFs.  Think of what you can do with all those rejection slips!  Make wall art, wrap dog doo doo (though this may be difficult:  some rejection slips, post-recession, are about 1/4 the size of an index card), use to dab your greasy lips post-French Fry consumption, dab over bacon strips to absorb grease, shred and use as confetti at a friend’s wedding, use the reverse side to write telephone messages, or pin to your summer linen blazer as some kind of statement.  The sky’s the limit!
  • Watch Ryan Reynolds movies.  Watch Woody Allen movies.  Watch Owen Wilson movies.  Watch Sandra Bullock movies.  Watch Naomi Watts movies.  Watch Will Ferrell movies.  Or watch all Zack Snyder movies (starting, of course, with “300”).  Watch “X-Men:  First Class,” over and over —  the multiplex is probably a lot cooler than your apartment.  Pay meticulous attention to every bulge on Michael Fassbender’s arms.
  • Get all fired up for the Fourth of July.  Prepare red, white, and blue outfit.
  • Garden.  Gardening, while not exactly the best way to lose weight, will make you feel productive.
  • Keep withdrawing cash from the ATM.  Never look at your bank balance.  Make daily withdrawals a practice in self-discipline.  Then, write about a writer who goes bananas and pretends he/she is rich.  Sell or self-publish.  Get a facebook page for manuscript.  “Friend” at least 200 people, only the ones who are cool.  This means excluding people who knew you in high school.  You’ll always be a loser to those people, even if you’ve had Botox and/or a face lift.

And now, self would just like to add that she is absolutely devastated by the discovery that Heather Havrilesky, one of self’s favorite writers, is no longer writing for Salon.com.  Dismay!  Anger!  Shock!  Self only found out yesterday, but apparently Heather’s been gone since December!  (Heather, the only good reason for leaving your loyal fans in the lurch would be because you are writing a book.  It will never quite make up for the big gap that you left in self’s television viewing life —  the only reason self didn’t notice earlier is because she was still in the thick of her personal Bacolod epic in December and January —  but at least self can fantasize that you are now on your way to becoming a Rich Famous Author.  Which you absolutely deserve to become, Heather.  Truly)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Like You’d Get a Chance to Read All of These Books, Anyway: The NYTBR of 5 June 2011

Another week, another issue of The New York Times Book Review.  This one, dated 5 Jun 2011, is exceptionally padded.  Padded with Sports Books.  Summer = sports = thick issues of The New York Times Book Review.

So, just to make things clear, self skipped over all the following sections of this issue of TNYTBR:  All the Baseball Books (In spite of the fact that she is very personally enamored of her home team, the San Francisco Giants); All the Cooking Books (Self swears:  if she can manage to live the remaining years left to her on God’s Earth without ever seeing the inside of a kitchen again —  say, if she could just get herself a permanent abode in L’Fisher Chalet —  she would have considered her time well spent); All the Gardening Books (No more virtuous dragging around of that plastic green bucket, ever.  Rose bushes be damned).  Self also, by the way, skips the Travel Books, but only because the reviewer keeps bringing up the author’s age (Someone is in the mid-40s, someone else is in the xxx, whatever.  It’s boring to keep associating travel with age.  Or with youth.  Or with whatever.)  She also skips Marilyn Stasio’s “Crime” column, for the first time in ages!

So, since life is short and self is very impatient (these days, at least), self will file only a tiny fraction of the reviews that she read today.  And these are they:

Bryan Burrough’s review of Bill James’ Popular Crime:  Reflections on the Celebration of Violence

Here’s a particularly pungent quote from the review:  In Popular Crime etc (It’s too tiring to type the whole book title), James takes the analytical eye he normally lavishes on Honus Wagner’s Monday afternoon on-base percentage and applies it to, among other things, each of Lizzie Borden’s 40 whacks. Oh, how simply fab!  Self adores, simply adores, the macabre.

Jennifer A. Kingson’s review of Edward J. Larson’s An Empire of Ice:  Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science

Kingson writes:  Although many of the best-known stories of Antarctic exploration are retold here . . .  Larson provides enough fresh perspective that even devotees of polar literature will learn things. And self, for one, never tires of gleaning fresh perspectives or learning new things about Antarctic exploration.

Henry Shukman’s review of Paul Theroux’s The Tao of Travel:  Enlightenment From Lives on the Road

Coming clean:  Ever since self read Theroux’s writing about Palawan in his book Fresh Air Fiend, self has been a die-hard Paul Theroux devotee.  But there’s something else going on in this review:  Shukman asks, Why do people travel?  Is it only, as Philip Larkin suggested, a “deliberate step backwards” in order to create a new objective, namely homecoming? Now that, self thinks, is a very interesting question!

Michael Washburn’s review of Michael Zuckoff’s Lost in Shangri-La:  A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II

Washburn writes:  The pleasures —  and values —  of this story reside in admiration of fortitude in a vortex of treacherous circumstances.  It is the 1940s, though, so primitive sexual politics —  Margaret Hastings, the surviving Wac, is repeatedly praised for her unexpected “gumption,” and the Army’s first airdrop includes food, blankets and lipstick —  abounds, as does the lazy racism of “cockpit anthropologists,” even after the New Guineans prove indispensable. (Self unfortunately got lost somewhere in the middle of that sentence —  nevertheless, the review was successful in whetting her appetite for the book)

Carlo Rotella’s review of China Miéville’s new novel, Embassytown

In this review, self learned of Miéville’s astonishing ambition:  he has declared he will write “a novel in every genre.” According to Rotella, Thus far, in addition to various subgenres of science fiction, fantasy and horror, he’s sampled the western, the police procedural, the sea adventure and more. Miéville sounds like a writer after self’s own heart.  She is grateful to Rotella for making self aware of him. (And also for making self aware of the fact that one can be named after an Asian country:  Singapore, say.  Or Indonesia.  Or even the Philippines!  Though having a writer named, for example, Philippine Godot or Laos Dinh would never be as fetching, self feels, as the name China Miéville)

And that’s it, all the reviews self deems worthy of saving in the 5 June 2011 issue.

Self even skips reading the end-paper essay because the title is partly in French, and she doesn’t know what it means.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“Super 8″ Likes

  • A woman with her hair done up in enormous rollers appears at a crucial juncture.
  • The performances by Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning and Riley Griffiths (the “fat kid”/auteur) are really fine.

*     SPOILER ALERT!   *   SPOILER ALERT!   *   SPOILER ALERT!

  • As in all the best horror movies, something sensational happens to the sheriff.
  • The driver of the getaway car is stoned.  (In the future, all drivers of getaway cars should exhibit similar form of mental impairment.  This is what is called “raising the stakes”)
  • The opening, a lingering shot of a sign announcing “7XX days since Last Accident,” changed to “1” day was a masterpiece of economical story-telling!  Yup, it sure was (Did it come up to the level of Spock and Uhura exchanging stolen kisses in a spaceship elevator? ‘Fraid not.  But, dear blog reader, let’s not dither over apples and oranges.  The point is, Abrams really knows how to get a story moving.)
  • Number of times self actually gasped:  3
  • Number of times self closed her eyes in expectation of violence (And, it really takes a lot to make self close her eyes.  She never did in “The Hurt Locker.”  In fact, self thinks the last time she was induced to close her eyes during a movie was when she watched “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2″) :  1
  • Number of people in the movie audience who clapped at the end:  About 10.  Self couldn’t count very well in the dark.

Questions:

  • Why does a sleepy town with population of 12,000 need six full-time policemen?
  • Why was Elle Fanning’s dad such a jerk?
  • Why did Joel Courtney’s mom have to be so pretty?
  • How come the Army didn’t finish off Dr. Woodward when they had the chance?  Why allow this dangerous and subversive man to teach high school biology?  Why were they not more apprised of the danger to National Security by allowing this man to live?
  • Why did school authorities allow Dr. Woodward to keep a locked trailer on school grounds?  What if he were a pervert and had a stash of X-rated magazines in there, wouldn’t the school then be exposing itself to the possibility of a lawsuit?  Oh educators of xxx town, why oh why are you so lame?
  • And the million dollar, most bothersome question of the day:  What the heck was inside those little white cubes?  (Self went through half the movie expecting little aliens to come popping out.  But that would have seemed too much like an “Alien” rip-off.  And we all know J. J. Abrams is too classy a director to stoop to such cheap tricks)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Alas, Poor Naomi!

Naomi Watts doesn’t seem to have any luck at all.

First, no one seemed to recognize how good she was in Peter Jackson’s King Kong, and she was not nominated for an Oscar.  Hey, being a “damsel in distress” involves a lot more than just screaming!  (Comparing two performances of the same role —  Jessica Lange’s and Naomi Watts’ —  self never got into Jessica’s because it seemed so mannered; Naomi’s rendition was much, much more natural.)

Last year, self watched her give two great performances:  As an independent woman in Rodrigo Garcia’s Mother and Child (playing the daughter of Annette Bening, who, unlike Naomi, was recognized); and playing the frustrated daughter of a flaky Mom in Woody’s You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger. While her BFF, Nicole Kidman, has only to hiccup and she gets recognized with an Oscar nomination (Kidman was nominated last year for her role in Rabbit Hole which, granted, was a very good movie, but so was Mother and Child.  So was You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger), Naomi Watts has only been nominated once (for 21 Grams, and that was a loooong time ago).

Now that Woody’s new movie, Midnight in Paris, is such a hit, critics invariably preface their reviews with the statement:

Compared to last year’s (disastrous/wan) You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger which was one of the worst movies of 2010 …

Hold on, people!  You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger was definitely NOT the worst movie of 2010.  Self guarantees:  critics who slam YWMATDS have not seen Skyline.  Or that rom-com with Jen that was a) not romantic; and b) not even funny.  Something called The Switch, which not even Jason Bateman could save.

And, too, it is NOT the worst Woody Allen movie, for that goes to —  oh, never mind.

Anyhoo, self would just like to say that she enjoyed You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger.  And she loves Naomi.  This actress has never once given a performance in which she can be accused of “phoning it in.” Her performance in Mother and Child was just shattering.  And as for You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger, self could have clobbered Woody for paying much more attention to the Freida Pinto part than to Naomi’s.

And now that self has gotten THAT off her chest, she would just like to say that “Super 8″ is a really good movie (Very Spielberg-ian.  Also, self is just dying to reference a previous movie with Samuel L. Jackson, that has definite echoes in “Super 8,” but that would mean issuing a Spoiler Alert.  And self doesn’t want to do that.  At least not yet.  At least not right now).

Hubby chose to watch “Super 8″ over self’s choice, “13 Assassins,” and self is glad she gave in and went along.  For one thing, it’s the first J. J. Abrams movie she’s seen since Star Trek.  And, secondly, Elle Fanning is in it.  And, thirdly, that cute guy who plays the coach in “Friday Night Lights” is in it.  And lastly the star of the movie, a young boy, is first-rate.  Self thinks that boy has a great career ahead of him.

So, “Super 8″ brings to three the number of good movies self has watched in a row.  Let’s hope this streak lasts, for as long as possible.

Now, back to the real reason self began this post:

Big Congratulations to Old Dominion University’s Princess Perry, who was a finalist in the Bellingham Review 2010 Literary Contest.  Self did not place, alas, but at least she knows someone who did!

This would also be a good time to announce that a former UCLA Extension writing student, Chris Bloom, received an Honorable Mention in the most recently concluded Glimmer Train contest —  and wow, that is quite an achievement!  Congratulations, Chris!  Her story went up against a multitude of others, and so what if it didn’t win, just getting “Honorable Mention” is in itself an achievement.

And congratulations must also go to Laura Hoopes, yet another of self’s UCLA Extension writing students, who has her own blog, called West Coast Writers, and a story in the recently published anthology Mixed Blessings and Other Stories (Absolutely love that title!).  This was a story that Laura had put up for workshop, a story that self liked exceedingly.  Self is going to do a cut and paste of the comment Laura left on this blog, a few weeks ago.

And, finally, self cannot close without mentioning that a few years ago, Dave Johnson, yet another UCLA Extension writing student, e-mailed to let self know that a story she had liked so much when she first read it, all those years ago, had won a contest, judged by Yann Martel (author of one of self’s favorite novels, Life of Pi).  Dave sent out that story for fully three years before winning the contest.  He was almost on the point of giving up and had even thought:  “That teacher is just full of it!”  Or something to that effect.

You see, self really has a nose for these things.  When she says something is good, 9 times out of 10, she is right.  And the student succeeds in getting it placed.

Perhaps self should become a literary agent?  Bet she’d be good at it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Still Musing About “Midnight In Paris”

Yesterday afternoon, self was determined to get to Hoover Archives  —  garden, sweltering heat, and upcoming Stanford commencement (meaning:  no parking anywhere within one mile) be damned.

But she only got as far as The Café in the Arrillaga Alumni Center, because once she got to thinking about Rick’s Ice Cream . . .

My bad, OK?  My bad!  Self sat on a stool and ate a scoop of Swiss Mocha (which tasted just like chocolate:  where’s the mocha?) and watched as crowds of proud parents strolled through the heat …

Then she went home.

Did self ever impart to dear blog readers how long the lines to “Midnight in Paris” have been?  Self passes the Menlo Guild every day, on her way to Stanford.  Yesterday, Thursday, there were people lining up already at 3 p.m., and the next screening wasn’t until 4 p.m.  In fact, a local restaurant has been making this pitch:  If you see “Midnight in Paris” at the Guild, you are entitled to a free glass of wine at Bistro Vida afterwards.  You just have to walk to Santa Cruz Avenue, where the restaurant is located, and that’s not very far away at all.

Self is determined to see “Midnight in Paris” again, just not right away.  Anyway, she’s sure the movie will be around for at least a couple more weeks.  Congratulations, Woody!

Today, it suddenly occurred to self that “Midnight in Paris” is, almost note for note, a Cinderella story.

SPOILER ALERT!  SPOILER ALERT!

With Owen Wilson playing the Cinderella role (much as Edward Norton did in “The Painted Veil,” which is a very different kind of movie —  Self!  There you go again!  Can you not refrain from making these utterly meaningless and rambling digressions?), and the Evil Stepmother and Stepsisters played by troglodytes!  Oh, self didn’t really mean that the Rachel McAdams character and her parents are troglodytes.  Only:  YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING, THROWING OWEN WILSON OVER FOR MICHAEL SHEEN!  SHEEN’S FULL BEARD IS ABSOLUTELY NO MATCH FOR THE BUTTERSCOTCH STALLION’S SHAGGY MANE!

The only thing that self found a wee bit disconcerting about Owen Wilson’s performance is that he sometimes purses his lips.  If it had just been a few seconds, self would let it go.  It occurs in the scene when Wilson is seated on a bench with Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (otherwise known as the First Lady of France) playing The World’s Most Accommodating Tour Guide.  Anyhoo, Owen purses his lips, not in her direction, but in a far-off direction, where presumably Marion Cotillard awaits.  Self suddenly begins to wonder, Why, Owen, why?  Are you perhaps morphing into one of those helpful Filipinos who, when asked for directions, simply put their lips together and pout?  Filipinos can pout in four directions, didn’t you know?  If there was ever a “pursing of the lips” contest, a Filipino would win, no question.  The pursing means you don’t ever have to do anything as tiring as speaking to an absolute stranger.  Tourists have no status unless you’re European, male, and have cash crawling out of your wallet.  Self knows this because she herself has been a tourist in the Philippines, many times.  But that was before she discovered she could hide out in Bacolod.  Where she is not a tourist —  simply an eccentric writer.

Okey dokey, where were we?

Oh yes, the Cinderella parallel.  You see, a stagecoach comes along at midnight —  No, self no!  That is not a stagecoach that picks up forlorn Owen Wilson as he reclines on some steps in the most deserted alley in all of Paris.  That is a certified boxy French car!  With elegant people inside!  Who drink flutes of champagne!  Who take our hero with them to the most fabulous par-tay!

But Wilson can only access this world at midnight.  For in the daytime, it’s back to cinders-and-ash.  Oops, no, what self really means is:  it’s back to shopping on the Faubourg du Saint Honoré, with that pair of troglodytes (McAdams and Sheen), and they are in hell —  Oops no, what self means is:  They are in a museum.  Standing in front of a Picasso.  Which really is like hell when you have someone like the Michael Sheen character playing tour guide.

If self gets any more thoughts about this movie later today, she will impart them.

In the meanwhile, stay tuned.

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