February 17, 2013 at 9:36 pm (Artists and Writers, Movies, Sundays)
Tags: David Denby, discoveries, memories, New York, reviews, Sundays, The New Yorker
There are many things about the David Denby article in The New Yorker of Feb. 11 and 18, 2013 that are worth quoting.
For one thing, it’s about Side Effects, a move self wants to see (The other new movies are A Good Day to Die Hard, which is supposedly terrible, Identity Thief, which is also supposedly terrible, and Safe Haven which self wouldn’t see even if it got rave reviews, which it didn’t)
Denby begins his review by saying that Steven Soderbergh “has made twenty-six feature films in twenty-four years, has just turned fifty . . . and says that, after his new film, Side Effects he wants to leave movies behind in order, mostly, to paint.”
Self heard about the retirement announcement, nothing official, just trills on the Read the rest of this entry »
February 2, 2013 at 7:17 am (Artists and Writers, Books, Lists, Memoirs, Recommended, Women Writers)
Tags: essay, Fridays, lists, memoirs, New York, nonfiction
Self has been reading In Praise of Messy Lives: Essays, by Katie Roiphe, for the past three days. She must say, she finds the book fascinating.
Here’s Roiphe on the Didion style:
Didion seems at first glance to be revealing so much about herself because of her mental fragility. Certain temperamental qualities of hers — her paranoia, her morbid sense of impending disaster, and her distrust of all stated realities – were particularly suited to the 1960s and ’70s. Take the moment in The White Album when she writes about the “attack of nausea and vertigo” that led her to a psychiatric clinic. On the surface, this might seem like an intimate revelation about her inner life. And yet she ends the passage with “such an attack does not now seem to me an inappropriate response to the summer of 1998.” This is typical Didion. It’s as if her body were a finely tuned instrument for channeling the jittery mood of the country in flux. Her sense of doom, of highly calibrated alarm, is always in the service of some larger point; her stunned disbelief is always a commentary, on the times, on a murder, on the water supply, on Hawaii, on the bewildering state of California. It is never simply emotion for the sake of emotion. There is no pleasure in frankly exhibitionistic exposure; there is none of the blinkered narcissism of some of our more recent personal writing.
Exhibit A and Exhibit B:
Her crying in Chinese laundries becomes “what it’s like to be young in New York.” New York becomes “an infinitely romantic notion, the mysterious nexus of all love and money and power, the shining and perishable dream itself. In the end, for all the spare, vivid details about her walking down the street peering into the windows of brownstones, about drinking gazpacho when she is hungover, the essay is about moving to New York and about being young – not about Joan Didion moving to New York and being young.”
* * *
Completely unrelated: A Selective List of Authors Whose Acquaintance Self Made for the First Time in 2012:
- John Burnham Schwarz, novelist
- Owen Sheers, novelist
- Adrian Goldsworthy, historian of classical antiquity
- Jerome Groopman, M.D., medical writer
- Colin Harrison, mystery writer
- Jesse Kellerman, mystery writer
- Barack Obama
- Rhoda Janzen, memoirist
- Jeanette Walls, memoirist
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.
January 23, 2013 at 1:21 am (anthologies, Books, Family, Filipino Writers, Lists, Personal Bookshelf, Recommended)
Tags: 9/11, book lists, Filipino writers, lists, New York, nonfiction, short story collections, speculative fiction
When will self ever finish this book tabulation project, she wonders?
She is still counting books in the tall bookcase in son’s room.
There are 20 books on the third shelf.
877 + 21 = 898 Total Books Counted Thus Far
Of course, on this shelf, as on the previous ones, there are, in addition to books: an MGM Grand room key; rocks, both shiny and not; corn husk people (obviously, some grade school art project), and many, many video games like Command and Conquer.
So, here are some of the books on this shelf: The Night Angel Trilogy (Books 1, 2, and 3), by Brent Weeks; Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, by Mark Bowden (Incidentally, his piece on the killing of OBL, in the December Vanity Fair, was more gripping than the Kathryn Bigelow movie, in self’s humble opinion); Before & After: Stories From New York, edited by Thomas Beller (This is a very interesting book: it has two covers, one showing the New York skyline with the WTC towers, and the other showing the day of, with the towers already surrounded by great billowing clouds of smoke. The “Before” contains a piece by Manny Howard called “The Jumper” that begins: “I recently spent an afternoon watching a guy entertaining three of New York’s finest on the eastern parapet of the Brooklyn Bridge.”); Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi; The Men Who Play God, a short story collection by the late, great Arturo B. Rotor; and Scunnered: Slices of Scottish Life in Seventeen Gallus Syllables, by Des Dillon (Sample: “Attitude: Treating every time/ like it’s the very last time/ feels like the first time.”)
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.
January 20, 2013 at 10:48 pm (Places, Recommended, Sundays)
Tags: art, exhibits, memories, museums, New York, photography, San Francisco, Sundays, weekends
SFMOMA: View From 4th Floor Walkway to the Roof Garden and Blue Bottle Café
Self loves Giorgio de Chirico. Loooves him. There was a de Chirico in the SFMOMA yesterday. It was years and years since she’d seen one up close. It was a relatively small painting but, the minute self caught a glimpse of it across the gallery, she knew it was one of his.
Lo and behold, it was mid-afternoon, and walking around the galleries had made self exceedingly thirsty. So she told The Man she would get a drink at the Blue Bottle Café on the 4th floor. And on the way there, she looked out the large, plate-glass windows on her left, and saw square buildings and long, rectangular windows and thought: de Chirico!
Another set of Windows Glimpsed at the SFMOMA! Self absolutely loves windows!
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.
August 15, 2012 at 8:05 pm (Links, Recommended)
Tags: Events, music, New York
The Greenwich House Music School is proud to present
SONGS FOR THE BELOVED
Saturday, September 22, 2012
8 – 9:15 pm
at Greenwich House Music School
46 Barrow Street, New York City (between Bleecker and Seventh Avenue)
By Subway: Take the 1 to Christopher Street, then A, B, C, D, E or F to West 4th St., Washington Square
Songs for the Beloved is an offering of oral traditional songs with sacred themes performed by acclaimed artist Grace Nono. Grace Nono will be joined by fellow Filipino artists Charles Wandag and Bo Razon.
For more information: http://www.greenwichouse.org/music
July 28, 2012 at 2:59 pm (Lists, Places)
Tags: lists, New York, Saturdays, The New Yorker
Three great opening sentences (What, you expected more from self this morning? Excuuuse me! It is Saturday morning and there are ga-zillions of farmers markets, all over the place! And as you can see from the date of the issue about to be quoted from, self is extremely extremely backed up with her reading!)
Without further ado:
- Opening Sentence # 1: “Broadway, like New York City, is a place where petty comforts are fought for but rarely won.” (from a piece by Michael Shulman about the installation of ergonomic seats in Broadway theaters)
- Opening Sentence # 2: “On one of those indecisive early winter afternoons – warm in the sun, nippy out of it – Chucker Branch” (What a great name, by the way: self must use in a story!) “and Christine Lehner, his partner, were on the roof of the Whitney Museum, winterizing their bees.” (from a piece by Calvin Tomkins)
- Opening Sentence # 3: “Given that the area surrounding City Hall has the highest birth rate of any neighborhood in Manhattan, adding a kids’ store to the strip of Park Row occupied by J & R Music and Computer World would seem to be a no-brainer, like wearable speakers for expectant mothers.” (from a piece by Robert Sullivan about the opening of J & R Jr.)
June 14, 2012 at 2:29 pm (Books, Conversations, Places)
Tags: New York, novel
Because, damn it, self will never ever ever ever get to the end of The Beautiful and the Damned.
Never ever ever ever.
She might as well mine it for “fodder.”
Fortunately, the further along self gets, the more fodder she encounters.
In Book Two, Chapter 1, in a section called “Heyday,” there occurs a discussion between the hero and the heroine (Anthony and Gloria) of the merits and de-merits of the City of New York. The conversation takes place sometime after their engagement has been publicly announced. During an evening walk, Gloria observes:
“I’ll bet policemen think people are fools,” said Gloria thoughtfully, as she watched a large but cowardly lady being helped across the street. “He always sees them frightened and inefficient and old – they are,” she added. And then: “We’d better get off. I told mother I’d have an early supper and go to bed. She says I look tired, damn it.”
Nothing has changed. This novel was published in 1922, almost a hundred years ago.
Today was a beautiful day in southern Scotland, dear blog readers. The weather forecast for the next two days is rain. And then more rain.
February 11, 2012 at 6:57 am (Places, Recommended, Tel Aviv, Traveling)
Tags: Fridays, memories, New York, pets, photography, Pl, plans, Tel Aviv, travel, weekends
A Church in Bethlehem (2008)
New York City Skyline (2006)
Backyard, Redwood City, California (2006)
Plan for the morrow: watching Liam Neeson’s new movie, “The Grey” – or, as Eric Snider puts it on his blog: “Liam versus Lobo”
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.
January 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm (Lists, Recommended)
Tags: adaptations, art, Events, inspirations, lists, music, New York, plans, VCCA
We met at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Since then, he’s become self’s partner in crime, the one who hopes to set one of self’s stories to music, someday. Can’cha just see it?
MARIFE: An Opera
Libretto by Marianne V________
Music composed by Drew Hemenger
On now, at the Metropolitan Opera House
Reservations HIGHLY recommended
What impresses self about Drew is his incredible output. This despite holding down a full-time (administrative) job. One of his pieces was performed at Symphony Space for the 9/11 Tenth Anniversary Commemmoration.
So, here’s what’s up with Drew for the month of February. The first event is in New York, the second is in University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee:
Tenri Cultural Institute of New York
“Four Places in New York,” a piece for four-hand piano (part of Mark Peloquin’s Keyed Up Music Project)
Tickets: $20, reservations recommended
- Saturday, Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Soprano Adrienne Danrich will enchant audiences with “An Evening in the Harlem Renaissance,” which includes Drew’s jazz-influenced songs inspired by the iconic Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes
January 18, 2012 at 11:02 pm (Artists and Writers, Eavesdropping, Lists, Memoirs, Movies, Recommended, Women Writers, Writing)
Tags: 9/11, essays, Letter to the Editor, lists, Literary Magazines, memoirs, New York, novel, Poets & Writers, previews, reading lists
While self was waiting for “Justified” Season 3, Episode 1 to come on, she caught the preview of a movie called “Extremely Loud, Incredibly Close,” which has Tom Hanks playing a father who is caught in his office in one of the towers, on that terrible day.
It so happens that self is on a closet-cleaning binge. At the back of one of her closet drawers, she found newspapers from that week: The New York Times of Sept. 12, Sept. 13, and Sept. 14. She uncreased the folds, and contemplated.
A month ago, she tried to write a story about 9/11, the same story she’s been trying to write for 10 years. She finally chopped it to four pages and sent it out. She happened to send it to Wigleaf, together with “Stonehenge/Pacifica,” and they chose the latter piece. But self still has hope that the other piece will find a home. It’s called “Wavering,” and it’s about a man whose wife saved his life that day, but not in the way you’d expect.
So, she takes a look at the Poets & Writers magazine, the one with Joan Didion on the cover. P & W calls her “America’s Most Resilient Writer.” Self wonders whether Didion herself would appreciate the appellation. Why “Most Resilient”? Why not just “The Best”? But perhaps it is a tribute, to be a “resilient” writer. Self supposes it must be, for writing is a tough, tough business. For every “Writer Under 40″ who gets into The New Yorker, there are thousands, thousands who end up being lawyers, program assistants, nurses, teachers.
Self remarked to the husband, after watching the preview of “Extremely Loud, Incredibly Close” : “Of all the places in the world that the terrorists could have chosen for their strike, they ended up choosing the one city that probably has more writers per square foot than any other city in the world.”
Is it chance? Fate? Who knows. That one event has spawned circles and concentric circles of angst, despair, neurosis that will last decades. Perhaps, even, centuries.
Self has read some good 9/11 writing (And some really terrible 9/11 writing). Among the good, Claire Messud’s novel, The Emperor’s Children. As well as Will Self’s short essay in his collection, Psychogeography. As well as Colum McCann’s short piece, “Dessert,” in The New Yorker issue that commemmorated the 10th anniversary of 9/11. McCann’s essay and the nonfiction book 102 Mintues: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers have touched her more than anything.
Here, in Poets & Writers, are some more 9/11 literature, recommended by a Pennsylvania reader who wrote a Letter to the Editor:
- Rebecca McClanahan’s “And We Shall Be Changed: New York City, September 2001″ (Kenyon Review, Summer/Fall 2003)
- Donald Morrill’s The Untouched Minutes, a memoir “written almost exclusively in the third person” (University of Nebraska Press, 2004)
- David Foster Wallace’s “The View From Mrs. Thompson’s,” an essay in the Oct. 25, 2001 issue of Rolling Stone
- Mary Cappello’s “Moscow 9/11″ in Raritan, Summer 2002
- Art Spiegelman’s graphic memoir In the Shadow of No Towers (Pantheon Books, 2004)