Relic 3: Vicenza, April 2013

The craziest things self has ever done, she’s done in the last three years.

Which just goes to show: aging is an adventure!

Last spring, self decided to share an apartment in Venice with Margarita Donnelly, retired managing editor of Calyx Press.

One of her side trips was to Vicenza. The birthplace of Antonio Pigafetta (chronicler of Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition to the Philippines), whose family home still stands.

She learned that Vicenza was also the birthplace of the architect Palladio.

And the whole city was like a de Chirico construct.

Until she dropped by the Teatro Olimpico, and found this little garden, full of tumbled statuary.  Which is so NOT de Chirico.

In self’s book, tumbled statuary = RELIC.

Herewith, the Garden of Found Objects, Just Before the Main Entrance to the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza:

The Garden of the Teatro Olimpico, Vicenza

The Garden of the Teatro Olimpico, Vicenza

Statuary by -- Who knows?  These sorts of objects litter every Italian garden.

Statuary by — Who knows? These sorts of objects litter every Italian garden.

Again, self knows nothing about the creator of this sculpture.  It is definitely OLD.

Again, self knows nothing about the creator of this sculpture. All she knows is, it is definitely OLD.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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.

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.

The Reading List, 3rd Wednesday of July (2014)

Time for self to get serious again with her reading.

These are the list of books she plans to read.  It is telling that they are all novels.

Well, the last one, by Alan Furst, is more of a thriller.

She’s never read him before, so she’s glad for a chance to get to know him.

Without further ado, the list:

  • Sebastian Barry’s The Secret Scripture (Self adores Barry)
  • Richard Price’s The Lush Life (It’s set in New York City.  Self loves New York City.)
  • Janice Y. K. Lee’s The Piano Teacher (It’s set in Hong Kong.  Self loves Hong Kong.)
  • Alan Furst’s Dark Star (Self doesn’t know where this is set.  In fact, she hardly knows anything about this novel except that it was recommended in a back issue of Condé Nast Traveler)

Here’s a passage from The Secret Scripture, pp. 11 -12:

It is funny, but it strikes me that a person without anecdotes that they nurse while they live, and that survive them, are more likely to be utterly lost not only to history but the family following them.  Of course this is the fate of most souls, reducing entire lives, no matter how vivid and wonderful, to those sad black names on withering family trees, with half a date dangling after and a question mark.

My father’s happiness not only redeemed him, but drove him to stories, and keeps him even now alive in me, like a second more patient and more pleasing soul . . .

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” — Downtown RWC Century 20

Great, great, great movie. Kudos to Director Matt Reeves. Self never thought she’d find herself getting so tense about the fate of apes.

Especially not with Jason Clarke around flashing his baby blues.

But ’tis true.  He is only the supporting actor to Caesar the Ape.

Self so loved seeing iconic San Francisco landmarks (like the GG Bridge and City Hall) in a state of total decay.

The bad ape was named Kabo.  Caesar had a son who he called “Blue Eyes.” And then self kept staring at the son’s eyes during close-ups, just to make sure that he really did have blue eyes.

No explanation for where James Franco’s character had disappeared to.

Disclaimer:  self would watch ANY movie with Jason Clarke.  He made quite an impression on her in Zero Dark Thirty.

Oooh, self almost forgot:  she saw a teaser trailer for Mockingjay!  And this one had both Peeta and Johanna standing next to Snow!  Self loved it.  Especially the attitude.  Of Johanna in particular.  She actually gets more saucy as the teaser unfolds.  Love, love, love Jena Malone.

The teaser broke up in the middle.  There was mucho static, and then Beetee’s face!  Announcing . . .  DUM DEE DUM!

Five stars for marketing smarts, Lionsgate!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Relic 2: Car Show, Fourth of July, Redwood City

Fourth of July is celebrated in a BIG — and self does mean big — way in Redwood City, California.

Aside from the parade (“the oldest on the Peninsula”), there is a car show.  FUN!

Annual Car Show, Redwood City, Fourth of July

Annual Car Show, Redwood City, Fourth of July

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is RELIC.

“Share a photo of what ‘relic’ means to you:  it could be a photograph of your still-running Honda Accord Hatchback, an historic building in your town, or an old, rusted farm implement poking up through the long grass in a field.”

Which had self thumbing back through the photos she took on the Fourth of July:

The Car Show is held in conjunction with the annual Fourth of July Parade, in downtown Redwood City.  A VERY fun tradition!

The Car Show is held in conjunction with the annual Fourth of July Parade, in downtown Redwood City. A VERY fun tradition!

DSCN6394

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Last Workshop, 2014 Squaw Valley Writers Conference

The Squaw Valley Writers Conference ends tomorrow morning –  WAAAAH!!!

Self had the greatest time.

Here’s a picture self took at the end of the last workshop today:

Members of Workshop # 6:  Roxanne Barish (kneeling), Jean Bertelsen, Cathee St. Clair, Nicky Loomis, Today's Moderator Michael Jaime-Becerra, Vish Gaitonde, Wei Wei Yeo, Catie Disabato

Members of Workshop # 6: Roxanne Barish (kneeling), Jean Bertelsen, Cathee St. Clair, Nicky Loomis, Today’s Moderator Michael Jaime-Becerra, Vish Gaitonde, Wei Wei Yeo, Catie Disabato

The week simply flew by!

Self bought a copy of Michael Jaime-Becerra’s story collection, Every Night is Ladies’ Night:

Michael Jaime-Becerra moderated her workshop today.  He's a fantastic teacher.

Michael Jaime-Becerra moderated her workshop today. He’s a fantastic teacher.

Here’s an excerpt from “Lopez Trucking Incorporated,” one of the stories in the collection:

Evelyn’s going nuts in the passenger seat because Mario still isn’t done with her wedding dress.  My sister’s too nervous to drive, and since I’m the only one home, I’m taking her for her fitting.  Evelyn’s wedding is in four days, on Saturday, and she’s the kind of person who plans everything in her life, from buying wrapping paper for next year the day after Christmas to ordering all her keys by color and size.  She gets her craziness from our mom, and while I’ve had sixteen years to get used to it, Lupe’s only had two.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Relic: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge Theme is RELIC (“Share a photo of what relic means to you . . . “)

These pictures aren’t of relics, per sé.  Self took them on the Fourth of July (just a week ago, hard to imagine!).

The Redwood City Fourth of July Parade is the oldest on the Peninsula.  It’ an annual tradition that self tries never to miss.

After the parade, she and The Man retreat to City Pub for beer and crab cakes.  It’s more of a tradition than a relic, come to think of it.

Is the flag a relic?  Is that what self means?

Or does she mean that parades are relics?

Anyhoo, self is in the middle of the final days of the Squaw Valley Writers Conference.  It is hectic, people.  Her brain is fried.  This is the best she can do, at least for now.

City Pub, Broadway Ave., Redwood City (After the Fourth of July Parade)

City Pub, Broadway Ave., Redwood City (After the Fourth of July Parade)

Another From City Pub, downtown Redwood City

Another From City Pub, downtown Redwood City

At the Redwood City Fourth of July Parade:  The parade always features a high contingent of military, navy, and veterans groups.

At the Redwood City Fourth of July Parade: The parade always features a high contingent of military, navy, and veterans groups.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Contrasts 10: Still in Squaw Valley

Still mostly working on photographing the contrast between sunlight and shadow.

Squaw Valley is amazingly beautiful, even without snow.

The Village, Early Morning:  Sunlight and Shadow

The Village, Early Morning: Sunlight and Shadow

From My Balcony

View From the Balcony of Self’s Unit

And now for something completely different:  Self was fascinated by this woman’s hair (and also her striped knit cardigan).  The woman sat directly in front of self during the Tom Barbash/Christine Meldrum/Mark Childress/Amy Tan reading, a few nights ago:

A member of the audience during the Barbash, Meldrum, Childress, Tan Reading the Other Night

A member of the audience during the Barbash, Meldrum, Childress, Tan Reading the Other Night

Loving it here.  Every moment.

Stay tuned.

 

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