Tonight: “1000 Ways to Die”

Self, it’s taken you so long, so many decades of your life, but you have finally discovered the way to get on the good side of Dearest Mum:

Never, ever say no.

Last night, self and niece G and Dearest Mum and all the relatives within 50 miles were in Lobster Shack.  Self splurged on a $30 bottle of Wild Horse Central Coast Chardonnay recommended by the waitress.  Considering that self and niece had already had two beers apiece before dinner, by the end of the night we were both flyyying high!  Telling stories about McCain, Tea Parties, niece’s dad, her roommates, you name it!

Today, self wondered whether she should give Dearest Mum a call.  But no!  She decided instead she would go to the Stanford Shopping Center and buy herself some Estee Lauder night cream!  Then she decided to get an extra jar for Dearest Mum.  Then, she just had time to drive home, and wrap up the cream in loads of gold tissue paper, before one of self’s aunts called (Dearest Mum has her own cell phone but she never, of course, deigns to use it, so it is always one of self’s aunts who calls and then passes on the phone to Dearest Mum)

Whacha doing, aunt inquires.

Self:  Nothing.

Aunt:  Oh, ’cause your Mom wants to see you.

Self:  Fine!  I am doing absolutely nothing.

Aunt:  So it’s OK for us to drop by?

Self:  Of course!  Anytime!  I am absolutely available!

After aunt hung up, self went flap-flap-flap all over the house, sweeping, washing counter-tops, dumping buckets of water on plants, feeding li’l crits, combing her hair, changing into decent clothing, hiding the ugly sneakers she uses around the house, spritzing air freshener into all the bathrooms, etc etc etc

Self was just wrapping up watering the front lawn when aunt pulled up with Dearest Mum.  Then we went inside.

“Want water?” self inquired.  Turns out Dearest Mum had just treated all to the most humongous lunch of:  grilled pompano; lumpia; fried rice; pinakbet; and so many other dishes that self could not remember them all.  Where oh where was this fabulous repast?  Self could not get an answer out of her aunt, her uncle, or Dearest Mum.

Anyhoo, Dearest Mum had bought self about 20 blouses from Nordstrom’s Rack, in the most fabulous colors:  lime green, orange, yellow etc etc  (Oh Dearest Mum, if you had dressed self before her reading last February, that blogger would not have said self looked like a “grandma”!!!).  Normally, self would have resisted such clothing.  Today, she finally applied her hard-won wisdom:  Yes!  Yes!  More lime green!  More orange!  More yellow!  More!

After Dearest Mum left, self tried to get back to her usual routine, but after a whirlwind like that (Self also just learned that on their first night in New York, she and Dearest Mum are attending a wedding reception –  in Grand Central Station.  What?  Self never heard of a wedding reception in Grand Central before!  Dearest Mum inquired:  Do you have anything to wear?  Self mumbled, Ah, a dress?  Dearest Mum thought for a minute:  “I seem to remember you have a pantsuit,” she remarked.  “Yes … ” self replied.  “In black?”  Dearest Mum asked.  “Yeeees,” self replied.  “Good.  Wear that.”  Okey-dokey!)

Good thing, after hubby gets home, he starts watching something on the History Channel about snipers.  Self watches while the Marines send two men to hunt and kill a vicous Viet Cong squad leader (a woman, it turns out), with code name “Apache.”  Okay, after watching how the Marines hunt and kill this woman, hubby next turns to that edifice of tasteful programming, Spike TV.  And here we are on a show called “1000 Ways to Die.”

Want to know what a Spanish Donkey is?  It’s a method of torture devised in the Inquisition, which involves putting cannonballs on the victim’s feet (up to 400 lbs. worth of cannonball), and positioning the victim over a sharp wooden platform.

Ever heard of anyone being killed by a pigeon?  After watching the show, you will say yes.

Ever known what happens when you drink denture cleaner?

Ever known what happens when you give mouth-to-mouth to a dead raccoon?

Dear blog readers, it has been such an entertaining day.  Self believes she will land in New York bananas, absolutely bananas.

Stay tuned.

More Irrelevant Thoughts

There was only one possible way for “Lost” the series to end, Letterman said.  And that was with someone tapping Matthew Fox on the shoulder and saying, “Sir, we’ve arrived.  Wake up.”  But–  the producers found another way!  Which actually made sense!  Self confesses that she never had the patience to sit through a whole episode (except, she liked the fact that a lot of nerd-y looking guys had parts on the show:  the guys who were not Sawyer or the doctor or the Indian hunk or the Korean hunk), but last night she watched intermittently and hubby watched till the end and then self found the ending rather sad.

“MacGruber” is not a bad movie, dear blog readers.  At least, it kept self chuckling (And Ryan Philippe:  who knew he had the makings of such a stellar straight man?  And when did Val Kilmer get so faaat?)

Self has the best house-cleaner in the world.  And his name is Mauricio.  Yes, you guessed right:  he was here again today.

Son is planning a fab four-night vacation in Las  Vegas with seven or eight other friends.  They are staying at Caesar’s.  On some other parents’ dime.  How self Read the rest of this entry »

Ah, Home, Sweet Home

Ah, home at last. Home to the lovely smell of a house fairly reeking with cigarette smoke. Dearest Mum pulled away so quickly from the curb after dumping self on the sidewalk that she missed self’s toes by inches. Last self heard from Dearest Mum was this hurried admonition: “Call your Tita and tell her I’m coming! I’m cooooming!”

Tita called Dearest Mum at least 10 times today, simply aching with longing for Dearest Mum’s return. Dearest Mum abruptly declared that she had to return forthwith to the Bay Area. Son must have heaved a huge sigh of relief at the news. The last 50 or 60 miles, Dearest Mum was simply beside herself, constantly urging self: “Can’t you step on it?”

“Why, where are you going?” self asked.

“Tita can’t have dinner until I get there. Can’t you step on it?”

Anyhoo, after self dragged herself in her front door, Gracie was in absolute paroxysms of delight. Hubby was shocked, shocked, at self’s too-sudden return. He was on the internet, and was also watching a football game on TV. Self dumped everything by the front door and collapsed in the bedroom. On second thought, she’s glad she went to San Luis Obispo. Thank you, hubby, for reminding self that if she hadn’t gone away with Dearest Mum, even though it was only for one night, that’s one night less that she had to inhale the stale odor of your cigarettes.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Already, Confusion

Self has still to embark on this road trip with Dearest Mum (scheduled for today, right now in fact), but already she is non-plussed.

After spending the early morning hours packing, responding to student e-mails, and tidying up in the kitchen, self sits down to await Dearest Mum. It occurs to her that Dearest Mum went out last night with niece G, and may still be resting up. Self wishes that she had remembered to ask Dearest Mum what time she wanted to leave for San Luis Obispo. Usually, Dearest Mum calls very early in the morning — like yesterday, when she called to let self know that she should reserve half of the sweaters she received from Dearest Mum just a few days ago, to give to niece G. That call clocked in at 6:52 a.m. But today, for whatever reason, the phone is silent.

Finally, at 9:23 a.m., self decides to call. Aunt answers the phone (apparently chewing her breakfast).

“Do you want to talk to your Mom?” Aunt asks. Read the rest of this entry »

“W” the Movie

It was a gorgeous day, dear blog readers.  Hubby’s starting to water.  Earlier, we walked the dogs.  Funny, we noticed that if Bella lags too far behind, as lately she does more and more, her arthritic legs becoming less and less able to carry her, Gracie waits until Bella and hubby come within sight before she will proceed.  So the walks become longer and longer.  But that’s all right, because self loves October, and it is so much fun to see the neighbors’ Halloween decorations:  the headstones on the lawn, the scarecrows, the pumpkins, the cobwebs draped across fences and porches.

Self planted a thunbergia gregorii.  She said a prayer:  Grow.

Hubby’s younger brother returned to New York.  Dearest Mum comes on Tuesday.  Aunt e-mailed Dear Bro:  “I’m sorry for your loss.  But you are a survivor.  Could you send me Ying’s death certificate so I can get a free airline ticket for your mom?”

That is the kind of e-mail that is only possible in Filipino families.  Ying would not have minded, self is sure of it.  She would be happy to know that she could still do something to help Dearest Mum, or any member of the family.

Dearest Ying!  Sometimes self will remember the time, four years ago, when we visited Angkor Wat.  She remembers their faithful driver, who they hired for four days.  If self were to return now, by herself, and looked him up, how shocked he would be to learn that the beautiful girl who he drove around four years ago has died.  And so would the people who own the little guest house where self and Ying stayed, sharing rooms and meals with a couple from Paris.

Hubby and self watched “W” in the downtown Redwood City cinema.  It was long:  We caught the 1:30 showing and were out a little past 4.  The day was starting to fade.  The movie kept self riveted for almost its entire length.  There was only one portion where self started to nod off, and that was when the key planners of the Iraq War were holding a strategy session.

Thandie Newton/Condoleeza did not have much to do in this movie except nod and deliver demurely downcast and yet strange grimaces.  She was such a hoot!  Self could not take her eyes off her, whenever she was on-screen.  How did this normally beautiful woman achieve such a transformation?

Rob Corddry played Ari Fleischer.  It was a very small role, mostly involving flitting in and out of rooms or trailing worriedly after W as he left a press conference.  The actor who played Paul Wolfowitz did in fact look like Paul Wolfowitz, but self doesn’t know the actor’s name.  And, hey, what an accolade for Tony Blair:  he got to be played by Welsh hottie Ioan Gruffudd.

Jeffrey Wright played Colin Powell and was very good.  Toby Jones played Karl Rove!

The whole movie, in fact, was such a hoot.  And afterwards, you did see W as a human being, albeit a tragically flawed one.  If self closed her eyes and just listened to Josh Brolin’s voice, she could have sworn she was listening to the genuine article, so well did Brolin capture Bush II’s every inflection, his Texas home-boy twang.  And, too, it was so nice to see Ellen Burstyn again, playing a very pretty version of Barbara Bush.  And that actor who played the farmer in “Babe”, James Cromwell, who’s parlayed that movie into a very long career playing (usually) bad guys, here plays Bush I as the epitome of the disappointed father.

Self thinks it is Oliver Stone’s best movie in over a decade.  The theatre was almost full, which self hadn’t seen since watching “Blood Diamond”, almost two years ago, and that had Leo.  The audience rarely laughed, but when self looked around, everyone was riveted, absolutely riveted.  A young woman to self’s left sat on the edge of her seat the whole time.  Presumably she, and the rest of the audience, were Democrats.

A very old couple created quite a stir because they could barely walk, and were hard of hearing besides, and kept stumbling on their way up the steps.  People helped them find seats and get seated.  Afterwards, they held up everyone because they could barely walk.  Self thought about how badly they must have wanted to see this movie.

Self also saw previews for “Milk” (Sean Penn absolutely riveting, in every frame of the preview, and there’s Josh Brolin again in his latest transformation, this time playing Dan White, and convincingly too), and Ron Howard’s latest, “Frost/Nixon”, which she definitely wants to see.  There was also a preview for a thriller starring Clive Owen and, in what looked to be a very bit role, Naomi Watts.  Why cannot this woman ever get the kind of role she deserves?  She can really act, can’t Hollywood see that?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

(Practically) The End of the Week Status Report

Had lunch with Fave Tita at Citrine in downtown RWC. Aunt took over the duties of meeting with Eldest Bro’s client (thereby earning self’s undying gratitude). This involved going to the Philippine consulate in San Francisco and signing contract in presence of notary. According to aunt, Eldest Bro’s mystery client

    wore huge black marcasite ring, almost as big as a billiard ball
    wore sleek black tights, over that a pair of short shorts
    wore a tight sequined T-shirt, the better to display a muffin belly

And this was a Filipina who was at least 60 years old.

Aunt’s first question to self, even before we had seated ourselves at the restaurant was: “Did you and your brother have a fight? Because it really was the easiest thing to go to the consulate and have the transaction notarized.”

Self got into a very long-winded explanation about how the woman kept changing the date of the appointment and finally self just got sick of it.

Let’s see, what else happened? Aunt’s tiny lapdog, Rexie, left to wait in the car while aunt and self had leisurely lunch, was apparently quite upset, for when aunt dropped self off at home after lunch, that li’l crit began jumping up and down on the seat (Imagine a Jack-in-the-box, with HAIR) and barking ferociously at self, hurling itself against car window and scrabbling with its claws against the glass, for all the world like a Rottweiler in attack mode. Sheesh!

Self wended her way to the San Carlos Farmers Market and discovered that the market would not be closing for another three weeks. Hurrah!

Self found out that the beach volleyball competition in the Olympics is over. Thank God, for she doesn’t know how much more she could take of the tight close-ups to the backside of the woman with the tattoo just above her butt-crack.

Why, you might wonder, is self in such a sanguine mood? The reason is simple: Ying awoke from her brain surgery, she was alert, and she was able to eat her first meal of solid food since her bone marrow transplant, a month ago. Thank God, thank God. Right after self got the news, she wrote like a blue streak and did not stop until an hour ago (and her neck is now killing her, but anyhoo). In fact, she was in such an excellent mood that she even loaded up with hubby’s favorite vegetables (brussels sprouts and broccoli) at the Farmer’s Market.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Third Monday in July 08 Status Report

It rained. Self saw the almost transparent sheets of rain from the window in her living room. She waited, just to be sure. Until she saw the sidewalk begin to grow a darker grey. The heater kicked in, for the first time in months.

She stood at the kitchen counter, slicing broiled pork into slivers. Then she mixed in some Hoisin sauce. She’ll use the pork slices to make fried rice for dinner tonight.

Last night, she read portions of the piece she is writing to hubby, while he watched Mike Nichols’ “The Graduate.” Now and then he would guffaw, and self would think it was because of something she had read. But on screen, Dustin Hoffman was engaging in risible exchange with Anne Bancroft. It did lend a certain je-ne-se-quois to self’s words, to hear it in counterpoint to such dialogue as “Thank you for giving me a ride home, Benjamin.” Self knows that her new piece is good, because hubby was trying so hard not to show how much he liked it.

There is no word, of course, from Tel Aviv. Self promised she would not call Ying for at least a week. There were seven messages yesterday on self’s answering machine, all from the same aunt. And, this morning, two e-mails from son: he was in Toledo for his birthday, yesterday. He seems to have fallen in love with the city. His camera ran out of battery and all he could do was describe the city in words: the churches, the bridges.

Self wrote back: “If you love Toledo, now you will understand El Greco.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

The Latest II

“She doesn’t have faith. If she believed in God, things would be different.” Read the rest of this entry »

Early (June) Wednesday Morning Musings

Self thinks it was 11 when she fell asleep last night.

Son had just returned from visiting a friend in Portola Valley and was sitting with hubby on the couch, watching a horror/comedy flick called “Eight-Legged Freaks,” starting David Arquette. Giant spiders were attacking a group of motorcycle-riding teen-agers across a desert.

Dearest Mum had come and gone, leaving wreckage. Thankfully, self was able to cover up most of the signs of the tornado by the time hubby got home (past 9 p.m.): That is, dishes had been cleared and put away, and even the atrocious (overcooked) shrimp & pasta dinner was mercifully concealed in a pot with a lid. And self had already finished small cup of tiramisu & chocolate caramel non-fat yogurt from Yumi Yogurt.

Speaking of which, what is with that place? Last night, line was out the door (a sure sign of summer) even though the weather was cool. And the people in line were: members of the Stanford swimming team (My, those girls are huge! Self came up to just about their chests); a middle-aged grey-haired lady who refused to respond to self’s small talk, who refused to in fact even look in self’s direction; and a slim female giant in a suit with a cast on one leg who Dearest Mum was giving quite the eye-ful, as she maneuvered adroitly and un-aided to her car (in spite of cast), large serving of non-fat yogurt (two flavors: one brown, the other white with blue swirls) held aloft in one hand. Tita squawking as usual (All self’s relatives incapable of being in a public place without calling attention to themselves).

Then, self returned home (while Tita ferried Dearest Mum to her next appointment: a sleep-over with friend in Hillsborough), fell asleep, and now it is 6:20 a.m.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Self’s So-Called Solitary Life

Self realizes her life is strange, strange because it is so solitary. Which makes her feel so very un-Filipino.

Dearest Mum’s life is the real life. The real Filipino life. But she grew up in New York and self grew up in the Philippines. Go figure.

Daly City aunt’s life is also a real Filipino life. More people invite her to Assumption alumni events than invite self, although self is also from Assumption, and perhaps closer in age to the people doing the inviting.

Ex-Assumption classmate Connie’s life in San Gabriel is also the real life. She bakes cakes for her elderly neighbors and, in spite of not having a job, has many friends, most of them from her parish church.

Self has received one invitation to the next Assumption gathering, and this one involves wearing a red and green outfit (because November is practically Christmas), bringing two $30 gifts for exchange (if hubby chooses to accompany self, which he very well might, since self has discovered he is so fascinated with these glimpses of another life, the life self had before she got married), and bringing further $30 for the food. At this party, self will be forced to participate in a contest to judge who has the “best outfit”, and will further be made to sing karaoke.

Anyhoo, that party is still nine days away, and yesterday, after returning from her one class of the day, self spent the day entirely alone (except for the beagles, of course). This was happiness. For instance, self was able to buy The New York Times. Even though she wasn’t able to start reading it last night, she has it beside her this morning. And, because she was all alone, she bought “Boo” Chips from Whole Foods and no one witnessed her scarfing down the whole bag. And she even found time to affix a whole row of lighted pumpkin heads on the picture window in the living room, which she thinks is the reaason so many kids came to the door last night — almost 70 — and why the huge bag of candy she bought from Costco weeks ago now has only a half dozen pieces left in it.

And this morning, self does not wake up thinking of anything that happened yesterday, but is instead looking forward to her day, and now she is reading Linh Dinh (or re-reading, she should say), whose Blood and Soap is turning into one of her favorite books, and she re-reads the first story in the collection, “Prisoner with a Dictionary,” which begins this way:

And so a young man was thrown in prison and found in his otherwise empty cell a foreign dictionary.

A couple of sentences down, self reads this:

He was far from stupid, however, but had an ironic turn of mind that could squeeze out the joke from most tragic situations. He could also be very witty around certain women.

Which suddenly reminds self that her horoscope for the day is:

You definitely know how to create a good time for everyone around you.

Stay tuned, dear blog reader, stay tuned.

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