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.

Sebastian Barry’s THE SECRET SCRIPTURE, pp. 28 – 30

Must. Get. Through. This. Novel. At. All. Costs.

Because the next novel on her list is Richard Price’s Lush Life.  But she can’t get to it until she finishes this one.  That’s been her vow.  So, this morning, she manfully addresses “the book in question.”

The main protagonist, Roseanne McNulty, is an inmate in a mental hospital.  As she approaches her 100th (!) birthday, her doctor tells her that she may have one chance left for freedom: the old hospital is being torn down, and old records are being examined, hers included.  The doctor has suspected for quite some time that Mrs. McNulty was wrongly institutionalized; she’s not, in other words, mentally defective and neither is she suffering from some psychological disorder.

In the passage self is reading, the doctor decides to confide his thoughts about her incarceration to Mrs. McNulty:

Dread, like a sickness, a memory of a sickness, the first time in many years I had felt it.

“Are you all right, Roseanne?  Please don’t be agitated.”

“Of course I want freedom, Dr. Grene.  But it frightens me.”

“The gaining of freedom,” said Dr. Grene pleasantly, “is always accomplished in an atmosphere of uncertainty.  In this country at least.  Perhaps in all countries.”

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.

 

Summer Lovin’ : WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge — Summer Lovin’ — is a super-fun (and easy) one for self.  Summer is her faaaavorite time of year.  She has lots, LOTS, of Summer Lovin’ pictures!

Summer is when Cancer, self’s sign (also son’s), rules!  Both self and son are July babies.

Another reason self likes summer so much is that colors really pop.  Bright colors seem even brighter, and there’s a sharper contrast between sunlight and shade.  Which all adds up to:  MORE VISUAL DRAMA.

Stafford Park, Wednesday evening:  There are free concerts every week throughout the summer.

Stafford Park, Redwood City, Wednesday evening: There are free concerts every week throughout the summer.

Chalk Drawing is a big part of the Palo Alto Arts & Crafts Festival, held every August.

Chalk Drawing is a big part of the Palo Alto Arts & Crafts Festival, held every August.

Clasico Gelato, Emerson Street, downtown Palo Alto. Every time she's in downtown Palo Alto, she stops by for gelato.

Clasico Gelato, Emerson Street, downtown Palo Alto. Every time self is in downtown Palo Alto, she stops by for gelato.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Surprise!

Self loves blogging because each new day presents a clean slate of things to write about, and she never knows which subject will strike her fancy.  What she actually ends up posting is as much of a surprise to self as it is to her readers.

In today’s San Francisco Chronicle, she reads about the latest criminal activity of a notorious gang of kidnappers called the Abu Sayyaf.  The Abu Sayyaf last week abducted three aid workers in the province of Sulu, in the southern Philippines.  The aid workers were eventually released because the Philippine government “withheld the cash grants to thousands of poor families” in Talipao, a town in the province of Sulu. “More than 4 million families across the Philippines have received cash under a government program that requires the poorest of the poor to get regular medical check-ups and ensure their children attend school classes in exchange for financial aid.”  The possibility of not receiving the funds dismayed Talipao town officials so much that they put pressure on the kidnappers, who eventually “freed their hostages this week without any ransom payment.”

Good one, Philippine government!  Self’s feeling is that the town officials knew the identity of the kidnappers all along and thus were able to put pressure on, not just the kidnappers themselves, but also their family and friends (Everyone must have known each other in that small town).

She remembers hearing a story, long long ago, of how a kidnapping ring was foiled in the southern island of Basilan.  A man wearing t-shirt, shorts, and rubber slippers attempted to deposit 3 million US dollars in cash at the small bank in Basilan’s capital.  Self wonders what item of clothing constituted the last straw.  She thinks probably the rubber slippers.  In any case, the bank became mighty suspicious of this scruffy millionaire and called the police. End of story.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Poem, Today, 4th Thursday of July (2014)

I wander down streets losing
things I gather up again:
parts of my life
that have turned up from far away.

– excerpt from “Everything is Filled With You”, by Miguel Hernandez (1910 – 1942)

* * * *

Self loves this poem.  She stumbled across it in The New York Review of Books. Hernandez wrote it from prison. He was sentenced to 30 years for his role as a cultural ambassador for the Republican Army during the Spanish Civil War.

The translation is by Don Share.

She’s quoted from it on this blog before, but this morning the section above seemed especially moving.

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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