Virtual Blog Tour: And Introducing . . .

Self got tagged, so now it’s her turn to tag three others.

The three artists self tagged for the Virtual Blog Tour are:

  • Luisa A. Igloria, poet and Director of the Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA
  • Stella Kalaw, photographer, Emeryville, CA
  • Kathleen Burkhalter, writer, New Bedford, MA

She’ll start with Luisa, and follow up with Stella Kalaw and Kathleen Burkhalter in later posts.

About Luisa A. Igloria:

Poet and Professor Luisa A. Igloria, at home in Virginia

Poet and Professor Luisa A. Igloria, at home in Virginia

Luisa’s recent books include Ode to the Heart Smaller Than a Pencil Eraser (winner of the 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow:  Prose Poems (forthcoming from Phoenicia Publishing, Montreal), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Press, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (winner of the 2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), Trill & Mordent (Word Tech Editions, 2005).

Luisa has degrees from the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she was a Fulbright Fellow from 1992 to 1995.  She has lived and worked in Hampton Roads for the last 13 years.  She enjoys cooking with her family, book-binding, and listening to tango music.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Books for the Reading List: A Look at Niece G’s Stash

When Niece G left San Francisco to work in New York, and then moved again, this time to Manila, she left a Big. Fat. Hole. In. Self’s. Life.

Almost as big as the one son left.

Four years at Stanford, then four years teaching in San Francisco — that was a transitional time for both her and self.

Son started college in Cal Poly / San Luis Obispo.  It almost seemed like she and son switched places:  son moved away, Niece G arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area.

When Niece G was clearing out her San Francisco apartment, last year, she had to leave behind some books.  Self looks at these books now.

Amazing synchronicity!  Just the thing to illuminate current events!  Presumably, these books were required reading for her classes at Stanford:

Two from Niece G's Stash

Two from Niece G’s Stash

A Further Two from Niece G's Stash

A Further Two from Niece G’s Stash

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Still More Summer Lovin’

Plants blooming now in self’s garden:

Amaryllis belladonna, otherwise known as "Naked Lady" for its complete absence of foliage. These usually only get going in August.

Amaryllis belladonna, otherwise known as “Naked Lady” for its complete absence of foliage. These usually only get going in August.

Paid $10 for this wee plum tree from Whole Foods.  I didn't expect it to bear fruit so soon.

Paid $10 for this wee plum tree from Whole Foods. I didn’t expect it to bear fruit so soon.

The white lilies popped up unexpectedly a few days ago:  Self forgot she even planted them.

The white lilies popped up unexpectedly a few days ago: Self forgot she even planted them.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The List in Self’s “The Secret Room” (CAFE IRREAL, Issue # 50)

Self has long pondered the difference between science fiction, speculative fiction, fairy tales, myths, horror stories and the “irreal.”  The other day, she decided to go through the Café Irreal essay, “What is irrealism?”

She’d first read it several years ago, when she began writing lots of speculative fiction.  It was nice to re-discover it.

The essay reminds us that, in “pre-modern” times, the people telling and listening to folk tales and legends assumed them to be “true.” These people, if they had heard Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” read aloud to them, “would most likely assume that the transformation” of the protagonist into a bug was likely the result of “a spell” (And why not? In “pre-modern” times, spells were considered practical ways to deal with malevolence; in other words, spells were not “magic.” They were solutions to a problem) For them, “the irreality of the story — which flows from an irresolvable clash between the real and the unreal — would be lost.”

There’s more, much more to ponder in the essay.  Self recommends that readers go over to Café Irreal to read it in its entirety.

Self’s story, “The Secret Room,” is in the current issue.

At yesterday’s writers group meeting, self’s esteemed friend (and soon-to-be-famous published novelist) Lillian Howan mentioned that her son liked the list in the story.

Which, self confided to Lillian, was the trickiest part of the piece.  Self had to keep working at it and working at it, constantly changing the items in the list because she was never completely satisfied with the “mix.”

Here’s the list in its final, published version:

  • A map of an island with no name.  There was no way to tell whether this island was near or far, whether it lay within the bounds of the Narrow Sea or beyond, in some yet undiscovered realm.
  • A piece of yellowing parchment, on which had been written, in her husband’s careful hand, the letters KMCVQH
  • An iron knitting needle
  • A stone the size of her fist, on whose rough surface glittered a sparkly metal that might have been silver
  • A drawing of a unicorn
  • A broken silver chain
  • A dozen gold coins stamped with the profile of Aurelia, the Queen of the Undersea
  • A small painting, about the width of a hand, of a man with no eyes

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Summer Lovin’ 2: Mitchell’s Ice Cream Parlor, San Francisco

Self had a writers group meeting (YAY!).  It is so much fun to talk about each other’s work; it’s been months.

Because self had a little time to kill before the meeting started, she decided to pop into Mitchell’s Ice Cream Parlor on San Jose Avenue.  The line was out the door.

She had to take a number:  Her number said 013.

The digital counter said:  088.

It took about half an hour for her number to come up, so she busied herself taking pictures.

For what could be more relevant to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge theme — Summer Lovin’ — than ice cream?

The inside of Mitchell’s is covered with murals like this one:

DSCN6748

Self tried her best to be unobtrusive while taking pictures of the clientele:

DSCN6747

DSCN6746

She just can’t help it:  people are more interesting to her than almost any other subject.

Self means:  ordinary people.  Just standing around.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Aimee Bender on Fairy Tales

These days, self’s reading is all over the map.  She’s tried so many times to finish reading Sebastian Barry’s The Secret Scriptures, but despite him being such a beautiful writer, she can manage only a page a day.

Aside from that book, she’s also perusing her personal bookshelf.  The books she consults most often are lined up on the shelves in son’s room. Here’s an excerpt from one of those, Conversations With American Women Writers (University Press of New England, 2004).

It’s from an interview with Aimee Bender, author of the (magical realist?) short story collection The Girl In the Flammable Skirt.  The interviewer (Sarah Anne Johnson, one of the best) asks her about fairy tales. Self thinks about fairy tales a lot because she’s thinking of sending yet another piece to Café Irreal. And she’s also reading a book of Oscar Wilde fairy tales she picked up in Dublin.

I’ve heard you say that fairy tales present plot as metaphor.  What do you mean by that?

Mainly that a fairy tale character has no internal world, so the entire plot is a reflection of their internal life.  Or at least it can be interpreted that way, to good effect.  So suddenly the plot becomes wildly meaningful.  Instead of the truth of regular life, where I don’t believe in signs and symbols in the same way, in fairy tales everything is a sign for something, and the world is this strange, blinking ordered universe of actions.

How else do fairy tales inform your writing?

I feel like somewhere along the line I ate fairy tales. I ingested and digested them, and now they’re part of my whole person.  The way they move plot, the settings, the imagery.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Catching Up: Books of The Economist, 15 March 2014

No more apologies!  Self is going to get to the every single back issue of The Economist (Her subscription is good until next year), by hook or by crook!

Here are the books she wants to read, after perusing the Books and Arts section of 15 March 2014:

The Hard Thing About Hard Things:  Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, by Ben Horowitz:  Self chooses this book to read because part of it is a blow-by-blow of how a business failed.  The author’s advice for prospective entrepreneurs?  “If you are going to eat shit, don’t nibble.”  Mr. Horowitz took his company public, but alas his timing was poor, for the terrorist attacks on 9/11 hit just a short time later.  Mr. Horowitz goes into “wartime” mode.  Read how he does it.

The six-volume, 3,500-page autobiography by Karl Ove Knausgaard, My Struggle (The first three have been translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett):  The Economist calls it “the most exhaustive account of a modern life ever written.” Mr. Kanusgaard turned out this magnum opus by writing 20 pages a day, “baring bits of his soul to a timetable, coping, on the one hand, with the growing fury of his family and, on the other, with the ever-present fear of failure.”  Not until almost at the end of the review is Proust even mentioned, but Proust was in the back of self’s mind from the moment she began reading it.  Like Proust, Knausgaard is obsessed “with the mechanics of memory: he claims that he does not have a good memory until he starts writing.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Analyzing Hawke, the Appeal

“I have this planet of regret sitting on my shoulders.” —  Jesse, Ethan Hawke’s character in Reality Bites (1994)

There is a long essay by Dan Chiasson in the June 5, 2014 issue of The New York Review of Books about Richard Linklater’s trilogy Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight.

Since self saw Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight in real time — that is, at the time they were released (as opposed to renting on Netflix, say), the films too mark moments in her life, each separated by nine-year gaps.

But Hawke.

This morning, she sits in the living room preparatory to writing, and what she finds while flipping through cable channels is Reality Bites.  Oh the music, the music, the music:  Social Distortion, Talking Heads, Frampton, The Knack, Lisa Loeb . . .  And there’s Hawke telling Winona, My Dad just died . . .

Self realizes that Hawke has been in so many movies that she considers “significant” in her life:  Reality Bites, Hamlet (the one where Denmark is a corporation), Gattaca.  And he did the audio books for The Call of the Wild and White Fang, which self played every day for son years ago, when ferrying him to and from school.

Reality Bites must have been filmed before Hamlet.  Hawke just transfers his slacker personality from one movie to another, without a break. Self applauds the strategy.

Here’s a moment in Before Sunset that is reproduced in part in the Dan Chiasson essay.  A French journalist has just asked Jesse, who’s on a book tour, to share details on his next project.  Jesse replies:

Ah, I don’t know, man, I don’t know . . .  I’ve been . . . I’ve been thinking about this . . .  Well, I always kind of wanted to write a book that all took place within the space of a pop song, you know, like three or four minutes long, the whole thing.

The story, the idea is that . . .  there’s this guy.  Right?  And . . .  he’s totally depressed.  I mean, his great dream was to be a lover, an adventurer, you know, riding motorcycles through South America, and instead he’s sitting at a marble table, eating lobster, and he’s got a good job and a beautiful wife, right?  But you know, everything that he needs.  But that doesn’t matter, ’cause what he wants is to fight for meaning.

You know, happiness is in the doing, right, not in the . . .  getting what you want . . .

You see what self means about Hawke?  His performances are always so natural; you seem to be watching him rather than a movie. Could Russell Crowe or Christian Bale ever do these lines? Don’t think so.

He makes such a virtue out of being inarticulate.  In that, his appeal is so, so quintessentially American.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Kanlaon’s Liebster Nominations (Travel Blogs That Take You There)

Two of the sites on her list — The Palladian Traveler and Ed Mooney — have already been nominated for Liebster Awards but self firmly believes that any site can never have too many Liebster nominations.

  1. The Palladian Traveler :  Elegant and inspiring
  2. Vela Magazine :  Awesome.  A blog that showcases women travel writers.  And boy did we ever need one.
  3. Ed Mooney Photography:  An examination of Irish places, via photography. Self was in Ireland for the first time, earlier this year. This blog was a splendid introduction.
  4. Lowestoft Chronicle:  An online literary magazine that self has been enjoying for a while now.  They publish humorous writing that has an “emphasis on travel.”
  5. Simbahan:  Not about travel per se.  Simbahan is the Tagalog word for “church.”  This blog is about “Philippine heritage churches and related structures.” That description sounds dry but this site is anything BUT.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“How To Train Your Dragon 2″

Today, self was where she usually is in the summer:  watching a movie!

Her face is so familiar to all the concession stand people at the downtown Redwood City Century 20 that she regularly gets asked:  “So what movie are we seeing today?” And then she gets to hear what they think, if they’ve seen the movie already.

Today she saw “How To Train Your Dragon 2.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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