“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 »

Reading About James Bond in the June 5, 2014 NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS

What treasures pack the pages of each copy of The New York Review of Books!

Self used to have a (20-year-old) subscription to the New York Times Book Review, but decided to discontinue it a few months ago.

To self, The NYRB is the far more interesting publication.

This evening, self is again plowing manfully through her ‘Pile of Stuff.’  She’s still experiencing Squaw Valley Writers Conference withdrawal symptoms (such as posting endlessly about it on her Facebook wall)

The Man is watching the 3rd or 4th Bourne (Matt Damon is the one and only, the né plus ultra of American action cool).

Self gamely tackles the June 5, 2014 issue of The New York Review of Books and stumbles across an article by James Walton, called “Bondage,” which might also be fittingly sub-titled:  “Everything You Wanted to Know About Ian Fleming and His Most Famous Literary Creation, James Bond 007.”

  • Here is how Casino Royale, the first-ever James Bond novel (published 1953), began:  “The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning.”
  • Ian Fleming came up with the name for the world’s most famous spy “because he wanted something plain-sounding and James Bond was ‘the dullest name I’ve ever heard.’ “
  • Hard to imagine, perhaps, but there is a sentence in one of the Bond novels that goes:  “Bond . . .  lit his seventieth cigarette of the day.”
  • President Kennedy was instrumental to the development of James Bond’s popularity in the United States.  In an interview with Life magazine, he named From Russia With Love as “one of his ten favorite books.”
  • Ian Fleming’s wife, Anne, referred to her husband’s Bond books as “pornography.”

There is tons more interesting tidbits from the article, but self must go back to reading Sebastian Barry (who is the most beautiful writer imaginable).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

On Secrets/ On Witchcraft

A few weeks ago, self announced that Café Irreal would be publishing her story “The Secret Room” on Aug. 1.

But when she wandered over to Café Irreal today, she saw that in fact, her story was already live, and had been live since May.

Here’s the link, dear blog readers.  Read, review.  Self adores feedback.

*     *    *     *

Here’s something else she encountered today.

While browsing through the British Museum blog, she stumbled upon an article on Witchcraft.

And here self found an answer to a question which has often nagged at her:  Why are witches usually women?

The piece makes clear that accusations of witchcraft were always personal, as evidenced by the fact that people most often brought up charges of accusation against people they knew well — i.e., their neighbors.  And the fact that many of the accused were old women, or widows, or orphaned women, or stepdaughters, makes very clear that the targets were “the most dependent members of the community.” The ones, in other words, who were least likely to fight back or defend themselves.

These female dependents (the preferred pool for witches) were the ones “whose names figure most frequently on the lists of people in receipt of poor relief, and they were the ones most likely to be caught up in the situation of begging for help and not getting it.”

Being perceived as powerless and being perceived as a threat — such a curious contradiction.  In both instances, these two have more in common with perception and have precious little to do with reality.

Which is what led self to write a very curious short story called “Toad.”  Which she will begin sending out shortly.

She finished it while sitting at a coffee shop on Lower Mount Street in Dublin.  Quite close, in fact, to Ballsbridge, where her B & B was.

OMG.  Witches.  Toads.  Lower Mounts.  Ballsbridge.  Self’s brain was filled with medieval imagery, almost the whole time she was in Ireland.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Extra Extra 6: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Self really loves this week’s Photo Challenge, it has been so much fun analyzing which pictures have that something “extra.”  Not to mention how much fun it is to look at the way other bloggers’ have interpreted the theme.

A beautiful photo is one thing, but a photo with an unexpected detail has personality and pop. — WordPress Daily Post prompt for this week’s Photo Challenge, EXTRA EXTRA

Self met this mother-daughter duo on the Hop On- Hop Off Bus Around Dublin. They hail from DALY CITY, California.  Francesca wants to be an opera singer.

Self met this mother-daughter duo on the Hop On- Hop Off Bus Around Dublin. They hail from DALY CITY, California — practically in self’s backyard! Francesca wants to be an opera singer.  The “Extra” in the shot:  The fact that instead of looking at the tourist sites the bus was passing, self spent most of her time gabbing to K and F.  Their smiles are beautiful, don’cha think?  Their next stop was Berlin.

It was an unbelievably sunny day in Dublin.  The "Extra" is the clear blue sky.

It was an unbelievably sunny day in Dublin. The “Extra” is the clear blue sky.

Lincoln's Inn, Dublin:  Self rarely drinks. But she was persuaded by a genial waitress to have white wine with her Irish bacon and cabbage. It was a fabulous idea.

Lincoln’s Inn, Dublin: Self rarely drinks. But she was persuaded by a genial waitress to have white wine with her Irish bacon and cabbage. It was a fabulous idea.  The “Extra” in the shot is the glass of wine. Self drained the glass to the last drop.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Seeing a Bird (After Leaving the Chester Beatty Museum)


The Chester Beatty turns out to be right next to Dublin Castle (Dame Street, Stop # 9 on the Hop On/Hop Off red tour bus), and there is no admission fee.

Self loved the museum.  It’s possibly the most interesting museum she’s seen (yet) in Ireland.

It turns out to be highly focused on the book as a work of art.

There are many, many examples of Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic writing (calligraphy), some thousands of years old.

And there’s also one section on Moghul (Indian) art that seems to be highly focused on animals and all kinds of fabulous creatures.  And that’s why she spent much time photographing birds in a park afterwards.

Which led self to wonder if it was worth exploring the Dublin Zoo.  So just now she googled the Dublin Zoo and found that it is “Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction.”

Which is amazing, because self thought the Book of Kells would have been “Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction.”

The zoo has just welcomed its first “Rothschild giraffe calf.”  Which is amazing.  Not the part about welcoming the giraffe calf, but that the giraffe is actually called the “Rothschild giraffe.”

She wonders if, one day, she’ll see something about a “Wells Fargo elephant” in San Francisco Zoo.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Room 2: Lincoln’s Inn, Dublin

I would love to live
Like a river flows,
Carried by the surprise
Of its own unfolding.

– John O’Donohue, “Fluent”

Self had the Special of the Day at Lincoln’s Inn:

Bacon and Cabbage: Self now knows that "Bacon" in Dublin means "Corned Beef" in the U.S.  If you want bacon in Dublin, what you want are called "streaky rashers."

Bacon and Cabbage: Self now knows that “Bacon” in Dublin is what “Corned Beef” is in the U.S. If you want U.S. -style bacon in Dublin, ask for “streaky rashers.”  BTW, the pinot noir went grrreat with the bacon and cabbage.

Self parked herself at Lincoln’s Inn for an hour and a half this afternoon.

a booth in Lincoln's Inn

A Quiet Sunday in Lincoln’s Inn

Her companion?  John O’Donohue’s Conamara Blues.


Getting here and back was pretty straightforward:  the No. 7 bus, no transfers needed.

Buses are so much cheaper than cabs.  And so much more interesting.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


First Saturday in June (2014): Reading The Guardian On the Train From Cork

The Guardian really likes Tom Cruise.  Self remembers reading rave reviews for some movie he did two years ago (“Oblivion”?), and now they’ve given “Edge of Tomorrow” (a kind of “Groundhog Day”/ science fiction mash-up) a positive review. OK, mebbe self is confusing The Guardian with CinemaBlend.com?  Here, anyway, is the link to The Guardian review.

Self is back in Dublin.  The train trip from Cork was very long.

Yes, she’s just been taking lightning trips all over Ireland.

Today was a beautiful day.  Not even the smallest cloud in the sky.

She met a Read the rest of this entry »

Random in Ireland

It is a beautiful, beautiful day here in County Cork.

Self added a few names to the list of Irish places she needs to check out (if possible, all within the next week — bwah ha haaaa):

  • Skibbereen
  • Kenmare
  • the Dingle Peninsula

She’s also adding two more names to the list of Irish poets she wants to read:

  • Ciaran Carson
  • Michael Longley

Finally, a series of random observations:

A young woman at the dinner table last night had a tattoo on her forearm that said:

Living is easier with your eyes closed.

It’s from the Beatles song “Strawberry Fields.”  Self loves it.  She thinks she will make that her life motto.

In her B & B in Inchicore, self heard this song playing on the radio one day:

City girls just seem to find out early . . .  You can’t hide your lying eyes. And your smile is a thin disguise.  I thought by now you’d realize.  There ain’t no way to hide your lying eyes . . . 

It’s an old Eagles song, who would have thought she’d encounter it again in Dublin?

Tomorrow, self is moving on:  to Café Paradiso in the city of Cork, which until recently was just a restaurant until the proprietors decided to add a handful of guest rooms to the upper floor.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.   Stay tuned.



Further Adventures in Ireland (County Cork)

It turns out most of the stuff self heard about the Irish are not true.

For one thing, the Irish are really direct.  They don’t mince words.  If they don’t like you, you’ll know it.  In about two minutes.

This is a good thing.  Because, after all, who has the time?  Why tie oneself up into knots trying to figure out this or that or the other thing?  If self wants a wake-up call, she’ll go straight to Ireland.

But when an Irish person smiles at you, it’s like the sun!  Self is NOT KIDDING!  It’s better than when a Californian smiles at you because it’s not a politeness thing, it’s a sincerity thing!

Self is also really grateful that she did not push through with her decision to cancel her subscription to Condé Nast Traveler. 

In her periodic attempts to simplify her life, self tries to get a grip on all her magazine subscriptions.

She must have at least 20.

The one big thing she decided to cancel this year was The New York Times Book Review, which she’d been subscribing to for at least 20 years.  That subscription was over $100, who wants to keep subscribing to a thing one has barely enough time to read?

She wavered quite a while over Condé Nast Traveler.  She is impatient with the articles that seem geared exclusively towards possessors of the Gold American Express card.  But, in contrast to the NYTBR, the cost of a year’s subscription to Conde Nast Traveler is only $12.  That’s $1 per month.  Even though self barely had time to read it, especially in the past year, she did stumble upon an article about “Hidden Gems,” one of which was Ballyvolane House in County Cork, Ireland.  Where self is spending tonight and tomorrow night.

The minute she walked in the door of the house (built in 1728, originally Georgian style but now Italianate — don’t ask self to explain, she’s reading this from a book she found in her room), she felt she’d landed in the middle of a Merchant & Ivory movie.  No, it was better than a Merchant & Ivory movie.  Because she was in it.

Ease:  Self's bed in Ballyvolane House, County Cork, Ireland

Ease: Self’s bed in Ballyvolane House, County Cork, Ireland

She arrived back in Dublin last night.  Thank God her Aer Lingus flight was uneventful.  Dublin was pouring rain.  She made it by bus to O’Connell Street, but there were no taxis.  She got to Inchicore drenched to the skin, an hour before dark.  She stumbled out for Chinese take-out, then lugged everything on the train for Cork (from Heuston Station) this morning.  But — heavens to mergatroid — self is getting good at this!  Not even man-handling two full-to-the-brim rollies and a purse and a laptop threw her the slightest bit off-schedule. Not the slightest bit.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


Split-Second Story Seven: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

It is raining cats and dogs here in Dublin. Why oh why did it have to start POURING when self landed in Dublin Airport?

Anyhoo, self is absolutely drenched. The thing that really had her going almost raving mad was worrying about her laptop, because it’s in a plain vinyl case, and even though the case was zipped shut (of course), rain did seep in. Aaargh! But laptop still appears to be operational as of this very moment.

This MacBook Air has been with her through thick and thin.  It would be a Tragedy of Shakesperean Proportions were it ever to go ka-blooey.

The week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Split-Second Story:

“Tell a Story by documenting a moment in time . . . “

Last night, self had agreed to meet her friend Jenny at a pub/restaurant called The Punter.  She decided to walk.  It was a gorgeous English evening.  This was the view from her starting point on Abingdon Road.  There’s a particular green to English grass.  For that matter, there’s a particular green to Irish grass, as well.

The green looks like this:

A meadow along Abingdon Road, Oxford

A meadow along Abingdon Road, Oxford

Self made a left on Whitehouse Road, and followed a winding road which led to a most verdant park:

The park on the way to The Punter, in Oxford

The park on the way to The Punter, in Oxford


Beautiful, isn’t it?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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