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 »

Kanlaon Was Nominated for a Liebster Award!

Self learned of the nomination a month ago, but she was in the midst of returning from Ireland and then setting off for southern California and then setting off for the Squaw Valley Writers Conference.

Nevertheless, here she is now, expressing her appreciation!

Self blogs a lot while traveling.  Because she firmly believes that one of the greatest pleasures of travel is being able to share one’s experiences afterwards.  It’s like re-living the moment, only better because you know you’ve survived the whatever.

So, THANKS THANKS MUCH to the blog Unexpected Wanderlust for the nomination.  Self deeply appreciates the honor.

And here are self’s answers to the questions posed by UW:

What is the most foolish thing you’ve ever done while traveling?

Wow.  This entailed so much reflection because self has done many, many foolish things while traveling.  Two years ago, she decided to join her friends on a bike ride around one of Amsterdam’s outlying islands, even though she hadn’t ridden a bike in almost 20 years.  That day almost killed her.  What’s worse, it made her lose her temper.  And we all know that when one is traveling, losing one’s temper is almost the kiss of death.  Because one should never, ever lose one’s temper in a foreign country.  Self’s just saying.

Who is the person you’ve met while traveling that you wish you could see again?

Another hard one.  OK, this:  the two German girls who accompanied self on the bus ride from the Marco Polo airport in Venice, all the way to the vaporetto in the Rialto.  Self bumped into them again outside the Frari church in Ca’ San Toma.  We had dinner.  Self lost the little notebook where she’d written down the girls’ addresses and e-mails.  She’s pretty sure she’ll never hear from them again.  But she thinks of them pretty often.

Where are you planning on traveling next?

Southern California.

If you had to settle down in one place and never leave it again, where would it be?

Oh gosh, why are all of these questions so hard?  San Luis Obispo, California.  Cambridge, United Kingdom.  Now if self could only find a way to support herself while living in these places . . .

How would you describe the perfect travel companion?

No question:  Son.  He was great.  Always.  Even when self was dragging him through the back alleys of Boracay in a pouring rain, and visibility was just a little above zero, and the water was sloshing up to our knees, and strange unmentionable objects were floating in said water.  He did express disgust (occasionally), but he never once lost his temper.

If you could be fluent in a language other than your mother tongue, which would it be?

Cantonese so that self could bargain in the Hong Kong night markets.  Gaelic because she was just in Ireland.  Spanish because she could read all the archives pertaining to Spain’s colonization of the Philippines.

What is your best travel tip?

Always travel light.  Plan on picking up things you’ll need along the way.  And never tote around more than two books at a time.

Have you ever felt more at home in a place that is away from your actual home?  If so, where?

Yes:  Bacolod City, Negros Occidental (Dear Departed Dad’s hometown)

Where have you had the best meal of your life?

  • The home of Irene Lacson and Zia Islam in Glendale, CA:  a Villanueva reunion in December 2012
  • Tender Greens, Spectrum Centre, Irvine, CA.
  • Van’s, Belmont, CA last January, to celebrate The Man’s birthday

What is the one piece of technology that you can’t live without during your travels?

No question:  Self’s MacBook Air

She’ll list her nominations in a separate post.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Containers 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

What a good idea, Red Hen Press!

They promoted Type O Negative, Joel Tan’s poetry collection, by handing out these chocolate candy bars at the AWP Book Fair, several years ago.

Candy Bar Wrapper (designed after the cover of Joel Tan's new poetry collection!)

candy bar wrapper (designed after the cover of Joel Tan’s new poetry collection!)

Containers # 2 is a fresh coconut:

In the Philippines, there are roadside stands selling fresh coconuts with straws so you can sip the juice.  This was somewhere near Sum-ag, near Bacolod City.

In the Philippines, there are roadside stands selling fresh coconuts with straws so you can sip the juice. Self took this picture on a beach in Sum-ag, just outside Bacolod City.

In January 2012, self went to India for the first time.  She flew from San Francisco to New Delhi, and spent the next two weeks traversing Himachal Pradesh.  She made it to Dharamsala.  It was freezing cold.  These hot braziers were brought into the dining room of the Colonel’s Resort in the village of Bir.

It was so cold, self's last two days in Bir, that the Colonel had a fire brought in.

It was so cold, self’s last two days in Bir, that the Colonel had a fire brought in.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“Words With Writers” Interview with Sebastian Barry

Self has decided that her reading list is too bloated.

From now on, or just for the next year anyway, she will read only books by LIVING writers.

Well, that helped.  Self got rid of perhaps 1/3 of the books on her list.

She’s still reading Sebastian Barry’s The Secret Scripture.

She decides to look up interviews he’s given, and comes up with a gem on a site called “Words With Writers.”

Who do you picture as the ideal reader of your work?

All of us inevitably become experienced in the world, by the mere process of living in it; but my ideal reader perhaps can put aside the cargo of experience somewhat, and access also their original innocence, so that sense is also brought to the book in their lap.

Is there a quote about writing that inspires you?

I very much like the anonymous but astute definition that “a novel is a long piece of prose with something wrong with it.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Containers 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

THIS WEEK, LET’S GIVE OUTER SHELLS THEIR DUE.

–  The WordPress Daily Post

This week’s photo challenge is CONTAINERS.

Self posted on this challenge earlier today.

But she wasn’t quite satisfied with the result, so here’s another attempt to interpret the theme.

First, self would just like to deliver a little ode of appreciation to Gelato Classico on Emerson Street in downtown Palo Alto.  It’s right across from Aquarius theatre, so it’s perfect for indulging either before or after a movie.  Last week, self caught Begin Again.  Apart from the fact that it was a really, really good movie, self got to indulge in her two favorite gelato flavors:  lychee and peanut butter cioccolato.  She chose the “regular” container (the one in the middle):

You can order gelato to come in three sizes: small, regular, or large.

You can order gelato to come in three sizes: small, regular, or large.

And here’s another one of self’s favorite containers:  funky shoes.  This pair was worn by a jazz saxophonist performing at the Fillmore Jazz Festival, just a few weeks ago:

Cool Shoes:  2014 Fillmore Jazz Festival, San Francisco

Cool Shoes: 2014 Fillmore Jazz Festival, San Francisco

Self’s final container is a costume.  Self would like to share a word in praise of the Stanford Tree.  Who soldiered on for the entire Redwood City Fourth of July Parade, when it was sweltering.  The poor human underneath that tree outfit must have been melting.  Fittingly, the human turned out to be wearing a “Keep Calm” t-shirt underneath the costume.  This is the Stanford Tree taking a rest:

The 2014 Redwood City Fourth of July Parade:  The poor Stanford Tree was most deserving of a break; it must have been sweltering under that costume.

The 2014 Redwood City Fourth of July Parade: The poor Stanford Tree was most deserving of a break; it must have been sweltering under that costume.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

2014 Mendocino Writers Conference, July 31 – Aug. 2

The Mendocino Writers Conference starts Thursday, July 31 and runs to Saturday, Aug. 2 at College of the Redwoods in Mendocino.

The conference is now in its 25th year, which is pretty amazing.

Kudos to the Mendocino Art Center folks, who work so tirelessly to Read the rest of this entry »

The Daily Beast’s Best Movies (Thus Far) of 2014, with Commentary From Self

This time, no pussyfooting around (what, self wonders, is the origin of that word ‘pussyfooting’?), self will go directly to the list she stumbled across today, on The Daily Beast.

The Best Movies of 2014 (So Far):

  1. Boyhood, directed by Richard Linklater.  Wow, self has heard such great things about this movie.  Read Sheila O’Malley’s dissection/praise of it, here.
  2. Snowpiercer, directed by South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho and starring, of all people, CHRIS EVANS!  Frickin’ hot Captain America!  It is science fiction, it is the year 2031, it is dystopian (Pardon self’s french:  Dystopian is fast becoming the most-overused word in the movie reviewer’s lexicon)
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel, directed of course by Wes Anderson and featuring not one but TWO pairs of bedroom eyes (Fiennes and Brody’s) and the best birthmark ever to appear in a supporting role in a movie — wait, didn’t this movie come out last year?  Nevertheless.  Self liked it.  Onwards!
  4. The Raid 2, the first truly kick-ass action movie from Asia in a long, long time, and it’s from Indonesia.  Self missed the sequel, but the first one was pulse-poundingly great.  The first one was FIVE STARS!
  5. Ida, directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, and of course Polish. Set in 1960s Poland etc. Next!
  6. Only Lovers Left Alive, directed by Jim Jarmusch:  A vampire movie!  Directed by His Fabulousness!  And starring Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton!  Sold!
  7. Manakamana, directed by Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez:  a documentary about various enlightenment seekers who make the pilgrimage to Nepal’s Manakamana temple.  Self wants to see it.  She may end up wanting to make the pilgrimage herself.  But pilgrimages never quite come out the way self expects.  She’s got the requisite curiosity, and that in spades, but travel tends to bring out the cynic in her.
  8. The Immigrant, directed by James Gray:  Starring — oh no! — Joaquin Phoenix, an actor who has singularly failed to arouse even one iota of interest in self, not even when he played Johnny Cash and self ended up ferrying Niece G and a whole car full of Stanford freshmen to the Redwood City Bayshore Cinema to see Walk the Line.  But why oh why is he paired with the lovely Marion Cotillard, an actress whose performance in that whale movie, Rust and Bone, the one where she played a whale trainer who loses her legs in a horrific accident in a Seaworld-like theme park, turned self into a sobbing mess for exactly three months — wow, this is a tough one.  Jury’s still out on this one.
  9. Begin Again, directed by John Carney.  Self saw this just yesterday.  Of its inclusion in this list she can thus unequivocally say:  YES! YES! YES! At first it would seem a most unlikely choice for one of The Daily Beast’s Best Movies (Thus Far) of 2014, because let’s just say Keira Knightley as a twee British singer who is done wrong by a self-absorbed boyfriend played by People’s Most Beautiful Person of 2013, Maroon Five front man Adam Levine, is not exactly what one automatically thinks of as “Best Movie” material, but what the hoo, self bit down her reservations and she ended up loving Mark Ruffalo’s performance (which was only to be expected), and she loved Keira Knightley’s performance, and she loved Hailee Seinfeld’s performance, and she even loved Adam Levine’s performance, and the only so-so performance came surprisingly from an actress self normally admires, Catherine Keener.
  10. Palo Alto, directed by Gia Coppola (granddaughter of Francis Ford), and based on the short story collection by that flake (who also happens to be a surprisingly good actor) James Franco.  She is so tired of Franco’s ubiquitous talent, but yes she did indeed browse through this collection when she first saw it in Kepler’s, last year.  And — self hates you, James Franco!  Because the stories were quite good!  Aaaargh!  And self loves Mia Wasiwokska.  Ever since she saw her in Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre, and The Kids Are All Right.
  11. Life Itself, a documentary by Steve James, about the late great Roger Ebert.  Of course self will see it.  Of course.
  12. Neighbors, by Nicholas Forgetting Sarah Marshall Stoller.  Self somehow missed this one when it came to the local cineplex.  But she likes the premise.  She even likes the cast (Rogen, Rose Byrne, the younger Franco, and Zac E)
  13. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, directed by Matt Felicity Reeves:  Oh yes, this was the movie self saw just the day before she saw Begin Again (Yes, self is quite a movie nut) and it was definitely great.  Any movie in which the apes outshine Jason Clarke and Keri Russell is indisputably great.  Kudos to Jason Clarke for not acting too hard.  He has a real, shambling, laid-back charm.  BTW, Keri Russell has very toned arms.  Self found the sight of them a tad distracting.  Because the actress obviously had to have put in many, many gym hours in order to get arms like those.  And self wasn’t sure this was something Russell’s movie character might have done. (Anyone have the same reaction?  Self, why must you always be such a nitpicker!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

Sebastian Barry, Again

(It occurs to self that she never stumbled across anything by Barry when she was at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, in May.  And she did give those bookshelves a good going-over.  Oh mystery!)

The book self is currently reading is Barry’s 2008 novel, The Secret Scripture (She advanced five pages since yesterday.  Today, she’s on p. 13):

His voice entered my head as a sort of honey, that lingered there potently, buzzingly, banishing all the fears of childhood.  As the voice rose up, so did all of him, arms, whiskers, one foot swinging a little over the old carpet with its pattern of repeating dogs, his eyes brimming with a strange merriment.  Even Napoleon might not have scorned him as a man of elevated qualities.  At such moments he exhibited a most beautiful timbre in the quiet passages of songs that to this day I have never heard outmatched.  Many fine singers made their way to Sligo when I was a young woman and sang in the halls under the rain, and for a few of the more popular sort I even played piano accompaniment, chopping out the notes and chords for them, more of a hindrance than a help to them perhaps.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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