Today, in the Huntington Library

The moment you step into the Huntington Gardens, you are surrounded by the heady scent of roses. The path from the parking lot to the visitors entrance is lined with rose bushes.

Here is a list of things self saw in The Huntington Library (San Marino, CA) today:

  • The Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, opened to the monk’s tale, with eight red wax seals lining the bottom of the page
  • An early edition of one of Shakespeare’s Folios.  On the wall, directly above it, a quote which ended with “Doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt I love.”
  • A copy of Missions in the New World by Francesco Severio Clavigero, published in Venice, 1789
  • the “elephant edition” of John James Audubon’s Birds of America (This book was almost as tall as herself; she’s not kidding)
  • Henry David Thoreau’s journal, which became the basis for Walden. The quote above it:  “I wished to live deliberately.”
  • Jack London’s manuscript for White Fang, 1905. The quote above it:  “He was a silent fury.”

Can self tell you how moved she was to see handwritten letters by Charles Dickens, displayed in the same room as Thoreau’s journal and Jack London’s handwritten manuscripts? She imagines the writers’ hands moving across the paper in methodical fashion.  Knowing that these keepsakes survived makes her feel very worship-ful. Also, the fact that she’s seeing them on 9/11, and most of the paper that got blown about that day (retrieved from as far away as Long Island — how they made it across the water is a mystery) were office memos, scrawled-over office calendars, graphs, worksheets — ordinary, human things.

Paper is fragile; thoughts aren’t.

Where is she going with this?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

DARK STAR, by Alan Furst

Book Jacket, Inside Flap:

1937. Paris. Moscow. Berlin. Prague.

Oooh, self likes!

The next book on self’s reading list after she finishes this one (Hopefully, she will finish this one. Her brain is a little limp right now. She had to return Richard Price’s Lush Life to the Redwood City Library after trying and failing to get past p. 75, for three months) is Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, which she hopes isn’t as depressing as Norwegian Wood. Then she’ll tackle a Donna Leon Inspector Brunetti mystery (which are all set in Venice, and why she didn’t manage to read one last year before she was actually in Venice is yet another mystery), then Hans Fallada’s Every Man Dies Alone (Mr. Fallada doesn’t have to rub it in: Self knows she will die alone. She’s still alive, but it feels as if she’s alone. Alone in her head, that is. Then self starts wondering where her final resting place will be. Not Manila, as it’s simply too polluted. Not Bacolod Memorial Park, because she doesn’t have a plot there. The plots must be expensive. Not Redwood City, her current abode, because no one will visit. She’ll be in a vase, The Man will mis-lay the vase, and then someone will buy their house from son and in cleaning out the garage, will discover the vase, and her ashes will be tossed out, so the vase can be used for something else. Niiiiice!)

Mr. Furst — HALLELUJAH — is a very good writer. Even though Dark Star is labeled a thriller, there is tons of atmosphere. There are urine-soaked allies, and ships moving through storms, and indifferent captains, and all that Bourne-type stuff.

In one scene, our hero (a man named Szara, who so far hasn’t shown any tendencies towards criminality, but whose backstory at this point in time — p. 12 — is still opaque) encounters a mysterious woman. It is always nice to have the option to hang out with mysterious (and also good-looking) women while waiting in some European city to receive one’s next assignment. This is what Tom Cruise does all the time in those Mission Impossible movies:

Szara liked women and they knew it.  All he wanted to do, as the tension left him, was chatter, maybe make her laugh. They were just people, a man and a woman, but she wasn’t buying.  Whatever this was, he thought, it was not an arrest. Very well, then a continuation of the business he did with the NKVD from time to time.  Every journalist, every citizen outside the Soviet Union, had to do that.

The NKVD must be something like the Soviet KGB. Perhaps a precursor?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Listmania: Six Recently Bookmarked/ 12 Existing Tags

*     *     *     *

Naomi Watts *  Oliver Stone * Owen Wilson * Patrick Leigh Fermor * Paul Theroux * Peter Sarsgaard * Pico Iyer * Rebecca West * Ruth Rendell * Sarah Waters * Siquijor * Tom Hiddleston

The Year 2014 in Movies (Thus Far)

Liam Neeson was Non-Stop (and Lupita Nyong’o was in a bit part, playing a flight attendant)

Olivia Wilde stunned in Third Person.

Darren Aronofsky gave us a futuristic Noah (and inspired self to write a short story)

X-Men: Days of Future Past gave us J-Law, MacAvoy, Fassbender, Jackman and a sardonic sprite named Evan Peters, as well as much angst and heartbreak.  The series will never be the same.

Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo tied us up in knots in Begin Again.

Jon Favreau showed that he can channel James Gandolfini — heck, better even than James Gandolfini himself — in Chef.

Patricia Arquette stunned Read the rest of this entry »

Condé Nast Traveler August 2014: The “Cruise Issue”

There is still time, dear blog readers.  There is still time to fantasize about taking a cruise this year.  One does not need to go all pity party and woe it sucks to be stuck at a desk job for the remainder of 2014.

According to Condé Nast Traveler, 49% of the magazine’s readers are planning to take a weeklong cruise in the next year (Rest assured, self is taking immediate steps to become a part of this demographic)

And here are several cruise recommendations, broken down by category:

For the Gourmand:

  • Celebrity Cruises’ “Top Chef at Sea”
  • Crystal Cruises’ “Microbrew Cruise”
  • MSC’s “Virtual Winery at Sea”

For the Workout Warriors:

  • Holland America’s “Great Alaskan Marathon Cruise”
  • Yoga Cruises’ Bend and stretch on the yachts Admiral and Atlantis
  • Crystal Cruises’ Golf cruises

For Music Lovers:

  • MSC’s “Holy Ship! Electronic Dance Music
  • Holland America’s “Country Music Cruise” on the Eurodam
  • Norwegian Cruise Lines’ “Grammy Festival at Sea: Women Who Rock!”

Some Really Specialty Niches:

For lovers of Steampunk:  Royal Caribbean

For lovers of Magic Shows:  Crystal Cruises

For indefatigable knitters (Caroline Kim-Brown, this one’s for you!): Ama Waterways

For Hobbit fandoms:  Royal Caribbean

For Nudists: Celebrity Cruise Lines

Stay tuned.

 

Virtual Blog Tour: And Introducing . . .

Self got tagged, so now it’s her turn to tag three others.

The three artists self tagged for the Virtual Blog Tour are:

  • Luisa A. Igloria, poet and Director of the Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA
  • Stella Kalaw, photographer, Emeryville, CA
  • Kathleen Burkhalter, writer, New Bedford, MA

She’ll start with Luisa, and follow up with Stella Kalaw and Kathleen Burkhalter in later posts.

About Luisa A. Igloria:

Poet and Professor Luisa A. Igloria, at home in Virginia

Poet and Professor Luisa A. Igloria, at home in Virginia

Luisa’s recent books include Ode to the Heart Smaller Than a Pencil Eraser (winner of the 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow:  Prose Poems (forthcoming from Phoenicia Publishing, Montreal), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Press, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (winner of the 2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), Trill & Mordent (Word Tech Editions, 2005).

Luisa has degrees from the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she was a Fulbright Fellow from 1992 to 1995.  She has lived and worked in Hampton Roads for the last 13 years.  She enjoys cooking with her family, book-binding, and listening to tango music.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

The List in Self’s “The Secret Room” (CAFE IRREAL, Issue # 50)

Self has long pondered the difference between science fiction, speculative fiction, fairy tales, myths, horror stories and the “irreal.”  The other day, she decided to go through the Café Irreal essay, “What is irrealism?”

She’d first read it several years ago, when she began writing lots of speculative fiction.  It was nice to re-discover it.

The essay reminds us that, in “pre-modern” times, the people telling and listening to folk tales and legends assumed them to be “true.” These people, if they had heard Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” read aloud to them, “would most likely assume that the transformation” of the protagonist into a bug was likely the result of “a spell” (And why not? In “pre-modern” times, spells were considered practical ways to deal with malevolence; in other words, spells were not “magic.” They were solutions to a problem) For them, “the irreality of the story — which flows from an irresolvable clash between the real and the unreal — would be lost.”

There’s more, much more to ponder in the essay.  Self recommends that readers go over to Café Irreal to read it in its entirety.

Self’s story, “The Secret Room,” is in the current issue.

At yesterday’s writers group meeting, self’s esteemed friend (and soon-to-be-famous published novelist) Lillian Howan mentioned that her son liked the list in the story.

Which, self confided to Lillian, was the trickiest part of the piece.  Self had to keep working at it and working at it, constantly changing the items in the list because she was never completely satisfied with the “mix.”

Here’s the list in its final, published version:

  • A map of an island with no name.  There was no way to tell whether this island was near or far, whether it lay within the bounds of the Narrow Sea or beyond, in some yet undiscovered realm.
  • A piece of yellowing parchment, on which had been written, in her husband’s careful hand, the letters KMCVQH
  • An iron knitting needle
  • A stone the size of her fist, on whose rough surface glittered a sparkly metal that might have been silver
  • A drawing of a unicorn
  • A broken silver chain
  • A dozen gold coins stamped with the profile of Aurelia, the Queen of the Undersea
  • A small painting, about the width of a hand, of a man with no eyes

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  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.

Kanlaon Was Nominated for a Liebster Award!

Self learned of the nomination a month ago, but she was in the midst of returning from Ireland and then setting off for southern California and then setting off for the Squaw Valley Writers Conference.

Nevertheless, here she is now, expressing her appreciation!

Self blogs a lot while traveling.  Because she firmly believes that one of the greatest pleasures of travel is being able to share one’s experiences afterwards.  It’s like re-living the moment, only better because you know you’ve survived the whatever.

So, THANKS THANKS MUCH to the blog Unexpected Wanderlust for the nomination.  Self deeply appreciates the honor.

And here are self’s answers to the questions posed by UW:

What is the most foolish thing you’ve ever done while traveling?

Wow.  This entailed so much reflection because self has done many, many foolish things while traveling.  Two years ago, she decided to join her friends on a bike ride around one of Amsterdam’s outlying islands, even though she hadn’t ridden a bike in almost 20 years.  That day almost killed her.  What’s worse, it made her lose her temper.  And we all know that when one is traveling, losing one’s temper is almost the kiss of death.  Because one should never, ever lose one’s temper in a foreign country.  Self’s just saying.

Who is the person you’ve met while traveling that you wish you could see again?

Another hard one.  OK, this:  the two German girls who accompanied self on the bus ride from the Marco Polo airport in Venice, all the way to the vaporetto in the Rialto.  Self bumped into them again outside the Frari church in Ca’ San Toma.  We had dinner.  Self lost the little notebook where she’d written down the girls’ addresses and e-mails.  She’s pretty sure she’ll never hear from them again.  But she thinks of them pretty often.

Where are you planning on traveling next?

Southern California.

If you had to settle down in one place and never leave it again, where would it be?

Oh gosh, why are all of these questions so hard?  San Luis Obispo, California.  Cambridge, United Kingdom.  Now if self could only find a way to support herself while living in these places . . .

How would you describe the perfect travel companion?

No question:  Son.  He was great.  Always.  Even when self was dragging him through the back alleys of Boracay in a pouring rain, and visibility was just a little above zero, and the water was sloshing up to our knees, and strange unmentionable objects were floating in said water.  He did express disgust (occasionally), but he never once lost his temper.

If you could be fluent in a language other than your mother tongue, which would it be?

Cantonese so that self could bargain in the Hong Kong night markets.  Gaelic because she was just in Ireland.  Spanish because she could read all the archives pertaining to Spain’s colonization of the Philippines.

What is your best travel tip?

Always travel light.  Plan on picking up things you’ll need along the way.  And never tote around more than two books at a time.

Have you ever felt more at home in a place that is away from your actual home?  If so, where?

Yes:  Bacolod City, Negros Occidental (Dear Departed Dad’s hometown)

Where have you had the best meal of your life?

  • The home of Irene Lacson and Zia Islam in Glendale, CA:  a Villanueva reunion in December 2012
  • Tender Greens, Spectrum Centre, Irvine, CA.
  • Van’s, Belmont, CA last January, to celebrate The Man’s birthday

What is the one piece of technology that you can’t live without during your travels?

No question:  Self’s MacBook Air

She’ll list her nominations in a separate post.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

2014 Mendocino Writers Conference, July 31 – Aug. 2

The Mendocino Writers Conference starts Thursday, July 31 and runs to Saturday, Aug. 2 at College of the Redwoods in Mendocino.

The conference is now in its 25th year, which is pretty amazing.

Kudos to the Mendocino Art Center folks, who work so tirelessly to Read the rest of this entry »

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