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.

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.

 

 

Contrasts 9: Squaw Valley, the Mountains and the Plains

Self is overwhelmed.  She’s here in Squaw Valley, in the Village, which is in a basin between tall peaks.  She’s never experienced anything like it.

She’s here for the annual Squaw Valley Writers Conference.  She’s been hearing about it for so many years.  This year, she decided to bite the bullet and go.

Her story’s being workshopped tomorrow.

Contrast in Picture # 1:  The Valley and the Peak.  Just –  amazing.

The Village at Squaw Valley

The Village at Squaw Valley. The cable car brings guests to a peak where there is a lake with — she’s been told — ice-cold water.

She rode up with Heather from Benicia, who’s an absolutely skillful driver and got us here in under three hours, without making a single wrong turn.

Contrast in Picture # 2:  The point-y trees and the rounded hills?  The mountains and the plains?

This is the view from the back of self's unit, in The Meadows.

This is the view from the back of self’s unit, in The Meadows.

Contrast in Picture # 3:  The sunlight and the shade.

Her unit has a balcony.  This was the view mid-afternoon, yesterday:

The view from self's unit in the Meadows. Like that stack of firewood? If only it were cool enough to make a fire feasible!

The view from self’s unit in the Meadows. Like that stack of firewood? If only it were cool enough to make lighting a fire feasible!

This place must be absolutely stupendous in the winter, when the peaks are covered in snow.

The altitude here is something like 62,000 feet.

Last night, walking back after the last talk of the evening, she and her roommate got lost.  But it’s only about a 10-minute walk!

She’s been writing; she’s so happy.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Reading Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz in PANK No. 7

This is an excerpt from Cristin’s poem, “After Reading Your Poem About Hawaii,”  which was in PANK No. 7.  I bought four back copies of PANK from their Book Fair table at the last AWP, in Seattle, and am only now, four months later, finally settling down to read them!

I really liked Cristin’s poem — a lot!

Poems are phone calls you can eavesdrop on.
When you are a poet, poems are everywhere.
I still read your poetry. Sometimes I think
I still see me in there.

But other times I know that’s not the truth.
The truth is that we both know where we are,
and it’s not next to each other anymore.
So what am I to make of this poem?

Where you are the you I am speaking to,
when in real life we are not speaking at all.
Ring ring, my brain says. Or maybe, it can
just be my poem waving to your poem.

Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry and her work has been published in Conduit, Rattle, Barrelhouse, La Petite Zine, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendencies, among others.  For more information, visit http://www.aptowicz.com

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Between 6: Stonehenge

Self has been fascinated by Stonehenge for a very long time.  Finally, in April this year, she got to make the trek to the site.

From the English Heritage Guidebook in the visitor centre, self learns about the alignment of the stones.

“Stonehenge has an axis — an alignment that runs north-east to south-west.” This axis is closely tied to “the way the sun moves through the sky during the course of the year; the sunset at the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, occurs on exactly the opposite side of the horizon from the midsummer sunrise.”

“So the alignment of Stonehenge works for both the summer solstice and for the one that happens in winter. But there is increasing evidence from other Neolithic sites such as Newgrange in Ireland and Maes Howe in Orkney, as well as closer by at Durrington Wells, that the winter was the more significant.  At Durrington, there is evidence for feasting and celebration at just this time of year.”

Stonehenge, April 2014:  What you see between the stones is of equal importance as the stones themselves.

Stonehenge, April 2014: What you see between the stones is of equal importance as the stones themselves.

Pat Shelley, who led the Stonehenge tour self took, standing between the stones to give a lecture on the significance of the stones and their positions.

Pat Shelley, who led the Stonehenge tour self took, standing between the stones to give a lecture on the significance of the stones and their positions.

Fascinating to think that the stones were positioned to control what one sees BETWEEN them.

Fascinating to think that the stones were positioned to control what one sees BETWEEN them.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Between 5: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

At Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, there were many, many inspirational and self-help books that addressed such subjects as emotional stress, attaining inner peace, etc.  Self would estimate that almost half the store consisted of books aimed at people who wanted to be in a better place –  emotionally, spiritually, mentally, even financially.

And why not?  A majority of the people in the world are trying to get to a better place.  We are all “between,” we are all transitioning.

Here are a few titles from Vroman’s that caught self’s fancy (She wouldn’t have taken pictures of these books if not for this week’s Photo Challenge, so thank you WordPress Daily Post and the Broken Light Collective, who were responsible for coming up with this week’s photo challenge):

DSCN6211

DSCN6206

DSCN6210

BTW, Vroman’s is a truly great bookstore.

Because not only do they carry books, they carry bling!  Like these house slippers self bought, for $14.99:

"Ballerina Bling" fleece-lined house slippers to prove you're not in Kansas anymore.  $14.99/pair at Vroman's.

“Ballerina Bling” fleece-lined house slippers to prove you’re not in Kansas anymore. $14.99/pair at Vroman’s.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

TREMORS: New Fiction by Iranian American Writers

The week before self left for the UK, she attended a reading in Keplers in Menlo Park, featuring contributors to Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian American Writers, which was edited by Anita Amirrezvani and Persis Karim.

Self finally got around to starting it today.  The Introductions quotes various contributors’ views on their Iranian heritage.  Here are three:

Sholeh Wolpé:  “I knew I was suffocating.  I do and did understand the sudden madness that takes hold of young girls in societies where women, grossly oppressed, pour kerosene on themselves and strike a match.  It is the madness of desperation. If all doors are shut in your face, if you have not even a single unbarred window to look out from, then death seems like the only salvation . . . “

Mehdi Tavana writes “about Iranians not only because I am one, but because our history is an epic tragedy, and I am attracted by sweeping narratives.  Iran’s story is one of espionage, loss, betrayal, religious celebration, glorious celebration, bloody revolution, and tragic love that ‘dares not speak its name.’  Because I was raised in this country, I have the audacity to write stories and send them into the world and expect that people will read them.  It is self-indulgent and it is bold.  But what can I say?”

Shideh Etaat:  “I spent most of my childhood embarrassed about my culture, and now as a writer I spend most of my energy trying to understand it.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Announcing: PHILIPPINE SPECULATIVE FICTION, Vol. 9

It’s almost here!  The latest volume (# 9) in the Philippine Speculative Fiction series.

The editors of the latest volume are Andrew Drilon and Charles Tan.

Here’s the Table of Contents:

  • Blood of Iron by Christian Renz Torres
  • Panopticon by Victor Ocampo
  • A Cha-cha with Insanity by Vida Cruz
  • Only Dogs Piss Here by Michael Aaron Gomez
  • Last Race by Jenny Ortuoste
  • Oscar’s Marvelous Transformation by Kat del Rosario
  • Stations of the Apostate by Alexander M. Osias
  • Sikat by William Robert Yasi
  • Deliver Us by Eliza Victoria
  • Miracles Under a Concrete Sky by Franz Johann de la Merced
  • The Unmaking of the Cuadro Amoroso by Kate Osias
  • The Woodsman by Cedric Tan
  • And These Were the Names of the Vanished by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz
  • Anthropomorpha by Crystal Koo
  • Sofia by Marianne Villanueva
  • Transcripts From the Investigation on the Life and Death of Alastor de Roja by Vincent Michael Simbulan
  • TG2416 from Mars by Nikki Alfar
  • Scissor Tongue by Elyss Punsalan
  • Cogito by AJ Elicaño

This is the official website.

Extra Extra 7: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Ballyvolane House, County Cork, Ireland:  There was an old-fashioned radio (that actually worked) in her room (The Blue Room in the Main House):

The Blue Room, Ballyvolane House, County Cork, Ireland

The Blue Room, Ballyvolane House, County Cork, Ireland

Grounds of Ballyvolane House. Self never discovered why the netting was over the birdhouse.  But it intrigued her, that "Extra."

Grounds of Ballyvolane House. Self never discovered why the netting was over the birdhouse. But it intrigued her, that “Extra.”

A stack of interesting books was on the floor next to self's bed in Ballyvolane House's Blue Room:  Self loves le Carré because he never phones it in.

A stack of interesting books was on the floor next to self’s bed in Ballyvolane House’s Blue Room: Self loves le Carré because he never phones it in.

Oh, self has just had one of those sleepless nights.  It must have been because she was so enraptured by a story on fanfiction.net

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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