Stairs: Threshold 5, WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Self loves her writers group.  Here we are, ascending the steps to jay's place.

Self loves her writers group. Here are Caroline and Grace, ascending the steps to Jay’s place.

Entrance to the Bechtel International Center on the Stanford campus:  Self bought her first bike here.

Entrance to the Bechtel International Center on the Stanford campus: Self bought her first bike here, eons ago.

Venice, April 2013:  Steps Leading to the Water (All steps in Venice eventually lead to the water)

Venice, April 2013: Steps Leading to the Water (ALL steps in Venice eventually lead to the water. Self liked the moss on this one, though)

Doors, Entrances: Thresholds 4, WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

One more door beyond this is the door to the backyard.

One more door beyond this is the door to the backyard.

Filoli, early December 2013.

Entering Filoli, early December 2013.

Invitation to Enter Self's Humble Abode

Invitation to Enter Self’s Humble Abode

For those dear blog readers who’ve never heard of Filoli before, here’s a link to the historic estate and gardens (just a mile or so from self’s humble abode).  Every December, the place gets decorated to the nines for the Holiday Bazaar, and it is just glorious.

Stay tuned.

Game of Thrones 4.1 — The Hound Rules!

Dear blog readers, self accidentally threw the paper where she wrote all her quotes from Game of Thrones Season 4 Episode 1, but take her word for it, it was bloodcurdling, it was vicious, Ygritte was scrawnier than self remembered her being (and rightfully so, as Jon Snow ditched her apparently), there’s a tribe on the hunt and they eat people, and The Hound was just GLO-RI-OUS!  Simply GLOR-RI-OUS!

Holy Cow, there he was bargaining with a short runt of a man over some chickens.  The man asked The Hound if he had any money.  Whereupon commenced the most glorious television dialogue EVER:

Hound:  Not a penny.  I’ll still take a chicken.

And it went on and on and on.  Somehow, it ended up being all about chickens.  One chicken, two chickens, heck, The Hound said he might as well have all of the available chickens.

To which the runt of course took exception.

Which resulted in a wild melee with The Hound slaying all, with a wee bit of help from Arya (Self was screaming from the beginning of the brawl:  GO AHEAD, ARYA!  WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!  PLEASE DON’T JUST STAND THERE WATCHING THE HOUND ACCUMULATE MORE DISFIGURING FACIAL SCARS!)

She, it turns out, has a unique method of dispatching her victims.  She takes a sword, and gently pokes, as if debating, and then she — pushes the sword home, but OH. SO. SLOWLY.  Which makes the deed appear three times as brutal.  Take self’s word for it.  Arya sticking The Needle into the throat of the runt is an act so intimately personal it might as well be up there in self’s list of Ten Most Horrible Murders of All Time. Yes. Worse even than Hannibal Lecter chomping on a nurse’s eyeball.

Jaime Lannister has, inexplicably, decided to go short.  Why why why?  He looked so devilish and dirty with the long locks.

The guy who plays Joffrey — Jack Gleeson, self had to look it up — is so impeccably petulant and EVIL.

Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell) has self’s second most favorite line of the night, something about hanging a necklace of dead sparrows around her neck.

Brienne puts in an appearance.  Alas, she and Ser Jaime are back to the platonic.

Where is Gendry?  Hope he surfaces soon!

Oh, the dragons got big!  And Daario is played by a completely different actor.  The old Daario was blonde.  This one is dark-haired (and also a lot more craggy-faced)

Khaleesi’s slave girl/companion/translator is still the second most beautiful woman in the series.

Self has yet to see another of her favorite characters:  Yara Greyjoy.  Who, at the end of last season, swore to take fifty of her best killers and sail up the narrow river to take her baby brother home.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Threshold 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Looking over this group of shots: they’re fairly recent, taken within the last month or so. She wanted to find DOORS, but not really. Hope son’s new hobby, a front porch greening up, and a bridge fit the bill.

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is THRESHOLD.

A threshold, says The Daily Post, is “a point of entering.”

Son and Jennie are starting to learn how to scuba dive.

Son and Jennie are starting to learn how to scuba dive.  They take  lessons from this place in Culver City.

The Front Porch. The pots of hydrangea have finally leafed out.  It's SPRING!

The Front Porch. The pots of hydrangea have finally leafed out. It’s SPRING!

Taking the Bay Bridge Home After a Writers Group Meeting in Walnut Creek

Taking the Bay Bridge Home After a Writers Group Meeting in Walnut Creek

Self has heard a lot of criticism about the construction of the new Bay Bridge:  apparently, so soon after its construction, it’s already starting to exhibit structural failings.

But, she thinks it is a thing of beauty.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Digging Ever Deeper (Into the Pile of Stuff): The Sea, Islands, the Poet

From The New Yorker of 3 February 2014, a review by Adam Kirsch of The Poetry of Derek Walcott (Farrar, Straus & Giroux):

A poet who comes to consciousness on a small island — like Derek Walcott, who was born on St. Lucia in 1930 — is doomed, or privileged, to spend a lifetime writing about the sea.  The subject matter for Walcott is as consistent and inescapable, potentially as monotonous, as the five beats in a pentameter line.  But, like so many great poets before him, he shows that constraints do not have to starve the imagination; they can also nourish it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Threshold 2, WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: What Lies Beyond?

A Writer's Apartment in Paris.  The door leads to her bedroom.

July 2012:  A Writer’s Apartment in Paris. The door leads to her bedroom.

June 2012, Hawthornden:  Every day for one month, selfI passed through this portal.

June 2012, Hawthornden Writers Retreat, Scotland: Every day for one month, self passed through this portal.  Sometimes it felt like entering an enchanted kingdom.

The Red Door to the Shed:  It used to be dark brown. Self decided to paint it red over a decade ago.

The Red Door to the Shed: It used to be dark brown. Self decided to paint it red over a decade ago.

1st Saturday of April (2014) Reading

First, there is The New Yorker of January 16, 202 (Don’t ask.  Self just can’t explain), a short story by Said Sayrafiezadeh called “A Brief Encounter with the Enemy.”  This story is the first post-”Things They Carried” war short story self has ever read.  And since she first read Tim O’Brien ages and ages ago, she thinks it’s high time!

Here’s the narrator describing a mission:

To get to the hill you have to first take the path . . .  I was loaded down with fifty pounds of equipment that clanged and banged with every step.  I might as well have been carrying a refrigerator on my back.  But after the first month the fear dissipated and the path started to become fascinating, even charming.  I was able to appreciate the “beauty of the surroundings” . . .  even the trees that I was constantly bumping against.

Oh, that is fabulous writing, simply fabulous. Hilarious. She wonders (since she hasn’t yet finished reading the story) if it ends in tragedy.

The other thing self is reading is of course Hunger Games fan fiction.  She landed on this story just yesterday.  It’s no use hiding the fact from dear blog readers:  in the past few months (probably since last December), self has completely surrendered to the charms of Alternate Universe Narratives.  She reads one every night before she goes to bed.  Her filters are “Angst” and “Peeta.”

In the one she is currently reading, charming Miss Katniss Everdeen has been summoned home to America, a country she had not seen since the age of eight (Self is all too cognizant of the fact that the tone of the particular piece of fan fiction she is reading — it’s set in 1832 — is beginning to bleed into her blog post, but anyhoo), not since she was enrolled by her parents in a very ritzy London private school called Panem’s Better School for Girls.

The ship she books passage on is called the Mockingjay.  Her chaperone is a ditzy woman named Miss Effie Trinket.  Just as she boards, however, Katniss discovers that Ms. Trinket has to go, and there is no other female presence on this dastardly ship.  Worse, the captain’s name is CORIOLANUS SNOW. The first mate, a man with mutton chops and “dark, glittering eyes” is called SENECA CRANE.  Before you can say BOO, our heroine encounters yet another unsavory sort, a sailor named ROMULUS THREAD.  Sailor after sailor attempt to warn her that she would be best getting off the ship and embarking on another — say, The Virginian.  But our Miss Katniss is an extremely stubborn soul.  It appears she is more terrified of appearing weak than of actually experiencing any sort of physical (or moral, or emotional) harm.  The last doleful warning comes from a rheumy sort who begins addressing her as “Sweetheart.”  Still our plucky Miss Katniss refuses to budge.

Self’s heart was pounding a mile a minute — that is, until Miss K happens to make the acquaintance of the cook.  This man — or boy — happens to have eyes of cerulean blue and the longest eyelashes she has ever seen.  At which point, self felt like standing up and screaming:  KATNISS, STAY ON THAT SHIP!  YOU DON’T WANT ANYONE TAKING YOU OFF THAT SHIP!  BELIEVE ME!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Threshold: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Threshold: That point just before the action happens.

Any moment, someone is going to walk through that door. Or self will go to her garden. Or she’ll see something transcendent, like I. M. Pei’s glass pyramid,  just outside the Louvre.

A threshold is a transitional point:  in life as well as in physical space.

The room where self keeps all her files and magazines is just across the hallway from the bedroom.

Home in Redwood City:  the room where self keeps all her files and magazines is just across the hallway from the bedroom.

The front door opens directly onto the living room.  This is what the front door looks like when self is lolling on her couch.

Still Another Shot of Home:  The front door opens directly onto the living room. This is what self sees when she looks at the front door from the vantage point of her couch.

Approaching the Main Courtyard to the Louvre

Paris, July 2012:  Approaching the I. M. Pei Pyramid just Outside the Louvre

Fan Fiction, Sherlock and Self

In Edinburgh, in the Surgeon’s Museum (which is located in the University of Edinburgh Medical School), there is a special exhibit on the man who served as the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes (Doyle studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh).  Since self is extremely nosy, she decided to open a closed door that was at the far end of the exhibit area, and saw an empty amphitheater, with rows and rows of wooden desks all facing a proscenium.  Class was not in session.

Today, self is thinking about Sherlock Holmes because she is once again tackling her Pile of Stuff (which is absolutely exploding with unread magazines).  The January 27, 2014 issue of The New Yorker is what she is looking at this afternoon.  There’s a very interesting article by Emily Nussbaum called  FAN FRICTION:  SHERLOCK AND ITS AUDIENCES.

As self proceeds through the article, she learns that a particular scene in Sherlock Season 3 was inspired by Sherlock Holmes fan fiction.  Can you guess which one, dear blog readers?

One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, one thousand four, one thousand five . . .

Time’s up!

We’re at a critical moment:  Holmes is on the roof of a building, preparing to jump. Somehow,  Moriarty winds up there, too, and leans in for a kiss.  Self’s jaw almost dropped to the floor.

Self knew it!  She knew it!  Because it’s in the same episode where a group of London geeks (fan fiction practitioners) sit in someone’s cramped and cluttered apartment and conjecture about the two years Sherlock was thought by everyone to have perished.  (They also tweet theories using hashtag #sherlocklives)

Anyhoo, self loves the Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock.  The first time she saw the actor was in a movie called Amazing Grace, where he played anti-slavery parliamentarian Pitt.  At that point in time, there was only one reason self wanted to see the movie, and that was Ioaon Gruffud.  She had absolutely no idea where the filmmakers had picked up the beady-eyed Cumberbatch.  Only years later, after watching her first episode of Sherlock, did self finally “get” the Cumberbatch affect:  the lankiness!  The floppy, messy hair!  The cigarette pants!  The sexy!

In the series, “when Sherlock reads a crime scene, enormous words appear on the screen, like an on-line word cloud.”

Sherlock, Nussbaum writes, “has inspired reams of slash fiction.”  Today, “you can find slash fic about almost any character you can imagine, from Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy onward.”

Self recently registered for membership in fanfiction.net, and she can attest how addictive it is.  There are actually people who leave comments like these:

“I work as a waiter and I’m right now in an alley behind the restaurant, hoping for an update to your story before my boss comes out and catches me . . . “

“I’m on a cruise of the Mediterranean and I keep thinking up excuses to go back to my room so I can check for any updates of your story.  My family thinks I’m nuts . . . “

Never, ever will self reveal her fanfiction.net identity, because she’s doing very fluffy writing.  She follows seven writers.  She hopes with all her heart they don’t turn out to be 14, but they might be.  Because they still worry about getting “caught” during chemistry class or skipping math class to do some urgent reading in the bathroom!

She’s heard it so many times:  The internet is the death of books.  It may be the death of books, but it is definitely a clarion call to the imagination, and to the power of the simple act of reading.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Noteworthy Today (First Wednesday of April 2014)

Self reached p. 266 of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, by Annette Gordon-Reed (Only 400 pp. more to go!)

Self is at the moment extremely bummed out about the fact that she read 58 chapters of what she thought was Everlark on fanfiction.net, and it turned out to be Katniss/Gale.  Boo. Well, the category did say “Angst.”  Self, you should know by now:  angst =  love triangle.  And just like that, three days of her life (24 hrs. x 3 = 72 hours) go up in smoke.  Self adores “dark Peeta” but abhors “dark Gale.” Dark Katniss is pretty much standard.

These are the books she’s read thus far in 2014:

  • In the Shadow of Man, by Jane van Lawick Goodall
  • Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, by Rebecca West
  • The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, by Annette Gordon-Reed

Although this year she has set a record for extremely-slow-to-finish-reading, the three books she’s read so far have been — luckily — outstanding.  And all of them, it just so happens, are nonfiction.  What does that mean.

The next two books on her reading list are by Jhumpa Lahiri: the short story collection Unaccustomed Earth and the novel The Namesake.

Her retired priest friend in Dublin says he’s managed to get a fellow priest to agree to drive her to Tyrone Guthrie.  According to him, it’s a 2-hour drive north. OMG!  Self cannot allow it.  It would mean two hours worth of gas and whatever, each way.  These words from her friend the retired priest stick out in her mind:  wild and remote.  Wild and remote.  Gaaaah!  One more time: Wild and remote.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

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