Triumph!

Triumph!  Self can finally remove one piece from her humongous, ever-growing, overflowing Pile of Stuff:  The New York Review of Books Mar. 6, 2014 issue.

She read it cover to cover, backwards and forwards.  The only thing she skipped reading were the Letters to the Editor and the Classifieds.

And self was even able to compile a list of the books she is interested in reading (which she will probably get to six or seven years from now:  since the start of the year, her reading rate has sunk to the truly abysmal.  She’s still on the same Jhumpa Lahiri short story she began about 10 days ago)

Without further ado, here are the books self is adding to her reading list:

  • Gabriele d’Annunzio:  Poet, Seducer, and Preacher of War, by Lucy Hughes-Hallett (The review, by David Gilmour, makes passing mention of Alberto Moravia’s L’amore coniugale :  Conjugal Love, which self now wants to read)
  • Lina and Serge:  The Love and Wars of Lina Prokofiev, by Simon Morrison (The review, by Orlando Figes, makes passing mention of two other books self is now interested in reading:  The Gambler, by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and The Fiery Angel, by Valery Bryusov)
  • The Missionary’s Curse and Other Tales from a Chinese Village, by Henrietta Harrison (The review, by Ian Johnson, makes passing mention of Jesus in Beijing, by former Time journalist David Aiken. BTW, what a fabulous title)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

“Look! The Pie!” : Game of Thrones 4.2

No Khaleesi in last night’s episode. Good.  Episodes just get so portentous and clunky when Khaleesi and her dragons put in an appearance, at least they do in self’s humble opinion.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

There was one major character death, some scenes of further Theon Greyjoy degradation (He apparently now sleeps with the hounds), some fluff involving Shea and Tyrion and the much-anticipated Purple Wedding (No, that scene between Tyrion and Shae was more than fluff.  More like Shakesperean tragedy. Ugh, self hated Tyrion’s words. Of course he had to say them.  Is it possible that Tyrion could love Shae any more than he does? But in order to save her life, he had to get her away as far from himself as possible. Tyrion, you are so noble!)

There was more of that slim-hipped bad guy with the neatly trimmed beard.  His partner to the wedding feast looked like she might have stepped out of Return of the Jedi or something. (There was a snippet of him exchanging amorous looks with Sir Loras, one of self’s favorite secondary characters. A promise of intrigue yet to come!)

The scenery was bright, more Mediterranean than United Kingdom.

Cersei was monstrous.  Perhaps even more monstrous than Joffrey.

Self’s favorite line of the night:  “Look!  Here comes the pie!”

Strategic Distraction!  Such a clever girl, Margaery Tyrrell is (Not to mention, her wedding gown was absolutely gorgeous.  The color! The intricate beadwork! The relatively discreet baring of back and front! Sexy but definitely NOT salacious!)

Brienne appeared, plainly garbed in a blue tunic, and Cersei became very hard-eyed.

That scene where Cersei approaches Brienne, and starts making all kinds of nasty insinuations — self loved that the camera gave at least equal attention to Brienne’s face.  And the Maid of Tarth’s face, especially at that moment, and given who she was talking to, just looked so — pure.  Baffled.  Like maybe Brienne was thinking:  What is this woman going on about?  But when Cersei stated (not asked, stated):  “But you love him,” bless her heart, Brienne didn’t even have the good sense to make up a lie.  And at that very moment, with this woman (who wishes her only harm) standing right in front of her, she looks around, and sees — who else?  Jaime Lannister, looking at her and Cersei.  That right there, in self’s humble opinion, was the BIG REVEAL of the night.  Self could feel her heart breaking into a million tiny pieces.  She fervently hopes Brienne’s end doesn’t come in Season 4 because — the FEELZ!

R.I.P. Joffrey.  Your death scene was magnificent.  Jack Gleeson, you did a superb job.  Truly superb.  Self, for one, will truly miss you.

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.

The Chang-rae Lee Version of Dystopia

This is from the review of On Such a Full Sea, Chang-rae Lee’s new novel.  The review appeared in the January 27, 2014 issue of The New Yorker.  The reviewer was Joanna Biggs.

“More and more we can see that the question is not whether we are ‘individuals,’ Chang-rae Lee writes in On Such a Full Sea (Riverhead), his new, dystopian novel.  “The question, then, is whether being an ‘individual’ makes a difference anymore.”  It seems doubtful, in Lee’s somber future.  Afflicted by swine- and bird-flue epidemics, and a profound change in the climate, America, now known simply as the Association, has split into three separate social groups.  At the top sit the Charters, a small professional class that has controlled the country’s remaining resources and withdrawn into gated villages.  Catering their dinner parties and keeping their cars perpetually waxed are the ‘service people,’ who live in the land beyond, known as the counties.  ‘You better have it while you have it’ is the motto of the bartering, hardscrabble life there.”

District 12, anyone?  The twist is that the oppressed classes are “workers whose ancestors arrived from New China a hundred years earlier.”

Biggs then cites a list of dystopian narratives (which fortunately or unfortunately do not include anything YA), starting with “the math genius D-503, in Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, who begins by designing the spaceship INTEGRAL . . .  to the fireman Guy Montag in Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 who starts out as a kerosene-wielding book burner and ends up harboring what may be the last copy of the Bible,” to Winston Smith, the “mid-ranking employee” of the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s 1984.

Self has read most of Chang-rae Lee’s novels.  She’s read Native Speaker, Aloft, and A Gesture Life.  Of all his novels that self has read to date, her favorite is still A Gesture Life.  Harrowing.  She’ll never forget it.

What she likes most about Lee’s writing is the quietness of the voice.  The restraint masks sheer agony.  All his main characters are tightly wound but restrained, almost to the point of lunacy.  Feelings are to be distrusted.  They are acknowledged only under great peril.  Which makes him sound, on the surface, like Kazuo Ishiguro.  But self finds Chang-rae Lee’s characters, almost all of them, to be deeply emotional and passionate individuals.  If they do harm, it is mostly to themselves.

She does have a copy of On Such a Full Sea, signed by the author himself after a reading he gave in Berkeley.  Self is sorely tempted to tote it along to Ireland, but it’s hardback.  And self has sworn she’s not going to burden herself with more than a handful of books this time.  The fee for mailing the books back home will be exorbitant, if what she paid after Hawthornden is any indication.  Oh what to do, what to do!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

David Denby on Jack Ryan (The New Yorker, 20 January 2014)

How self loves an article such as this, the one Denby wrote on Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, a review that seems to span all the great movie heroes of self’s life (excepting the science fiction ones like Neo and Ripley.  And mugging, self-deprecating ones like Indiana Jones.  And even puppy-ish ones like Luke Skywalker.  But, self, one cannot have everything.  If there’s a lemon meringue pie in front of you, stop pining for rhubarb because whatever)

So, self knows the Jack Ryan movie came out months and months ago.  Maybe even prior to Christmas. Cut her some slack here, dear blog readers.  Since December, self has:

Been to Claremont

Been to Seattle

Been to North Hollywood

And now she’s about to go to the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Ireland.

Not to mention, two writers groups meetings, driving around in a car that failed a smog test four times (white-knuckling all the way) falling into passionate love with fanfiction, applying to a summer writing conference, and writing poems/stories/novellas and anything and everything under the sun involving words.  And of course, madly taking pictures of her garden and so forth.  No wonder it’s taken her six weeks to get just a third of the way through The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, by Annette Gordon-Reed.

Now to the Denby article.

Chris Pine, he says, is “an enjoyably talented actor” who “gives a successful impression of a man frightened to death.” (And she knows exactly what scene Denby is referring to.  It comes early.  Self will not tell.  Rent the movie on Netflix)

When Denby thoughtfully summarizes the plot (Ryan is in Afghanistan, “his helicopter goes down”), self realized with a shock that she had absolutely no memory of any of these scenes.  She even forgot how Ryan and Keira Knightley’s character met.  But now Denby tells her that Knightley plays “a medical student who is holding out for a date until” Ryan “can overcome the excruciating pain and run like a track star,” which sort of reminds self of Katniss holding back her love until Peeta gets over wanting to kill her.  Ehem!  Kevin Costner is also in this movie (Again, self almost forgot).  Here, according to Denby, he tries “to look mysterious and dangerous by not doing much.” (Note to self: Examine Laurence Fishburne’s performance in the Matrix movies to tease out possible parallels?)

The movie “is set in the new Moscow, which, despite many cutting-edge skyscrapers and a glass-and-metal office of icy brilliance . . . ” (and which, self might add, is flooding the pages of The New Yorker and the New York Times Book Review with literary product, which means it will be years — even, decades — before writers from marginalized communities and 3rd world countries like the Philippines manage to break through) “is pretty much like the perfidious old Moscow that Clancy prized in Cold War days.”

And now, this being David Denby, some background on Tom Clancy:

Tom Clancy was an insurance salesman in Maryland when, in the early nineteen-eighties, he wrote a book, The Hunt for Red October, that Ronald Reagan, with a handsome public mention, turned into a best-seller . . .  He died last October.

Oh. Self didn’t know.

Somewhere in this review is the million-dollar question:  How do the Jack Ryan films stack up against James Bond and Jason Bourne?

James Bond, “no matter who plays him, and no matter what the actor’s age, always seems about forty . . . ”  In contrast, “Jason Bourne does age — his story, as recorded in the three movies starring Matt Damon, was consecutive and heart-wrenching.  Bond and Bourne, one playful, one serious, are both genuine franchise heroes.  Ryan is just a property.”

Denby goes through the list of actors who have played Jack Ryan:  Alec Baldwin (arguably the most handsome Jack Ryan), Harrison Ford (the sturdiest Jack Ryan), and Ben Affleck (Self totally forgot that Affleck even played Jack Ryan).

He also gives credit where credit is due:  to Paul Greengrass, the master of shaky-cam technique, who honed it to such great effect in the first Bourne movie and inspired a whole group of shaky cam practitioners like Doug Liman and Gary Ross. (Self knows there will never ben another like Paul Greengrass.  She saw United 93 in the old Bayshore Century 20, by herself in the middle of the day, and the last five minutes of that movie were as incoherent as food mixed up in a blender. And yet, she groaned. Not out of frustration, but out of sympathy.  Because that is probably what it felt like to be on a plane pointing straight down to the ground.  Anything else — a steady cam, say, with close-ups on the unknown actors who played the passengers — would have been grossly insulting)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Denby on Katniss

The New Yorker, 2 December 2013

The New Yorker, 2 December 2013

Apologies, dear blog readers.  Self knows there’s a new science fiction movie out, one that’s starring Shailene Woodley and Theo James.  She’s excited to see it, just hasn’t had a chance yet.

The Pile of Stuff is truly — enormous.

This morning, she reaches in, pulls out a New Yorker, and settles down to read the movie reviews.  Just to show you how old this issue is, the movie being reviewed is The Hunger Games:  Catching Fire.

It’s very interesting:  Denby writes that teenagers tend to view the gladiatorial fights-to-the-death literally, while their “elders” think about them metaphorically (“as a metaphor for capitalism, with its terrifying job market . . . ” or “as a satiric exaggeration of talent-show ruthlessness”)

“Distraction,” Denby writes, “is supposed to work miracles.”

(Well, it does, David.  It does.  What can self say?  Distraction is, in fact, a most excellent and potent tool.  Just ask parents of recalcitrant toddlers, beleaguered office managers, conniving politicians, crafty taxi drivers and military strategists, thieves and other people up to no good, magicians, low-lifes, jerks both run-of-the-mill and spectacular etc etc etc)

While the first Hunger Games movie was “an embarrassment,” Denby calls “the first forty-five minutes or so” of Catching Fire “impressive.”

An excerpt from the review:

For Katniss, the pleasure of victory never arrives.  At the very beginning of the movie, we see her in silhouette, crouching at the edge of a pond, a huntress poised to uncoil.  She hates being a celebrity, and she certainly has no desire to lead a revolution.  Jennifer Lawrence’s gray-green eyes and her formidable concentration dominate the camera.  She resembles a storybook Indian princess and she projects the kind of strength that Katharine Hepburn had . . .

As for the rest of the characters, Denby assigns one adjective (more or less) for each:  Peeta is “doleful” and Gale is “faithful.”  Caesar Flickerman is “unctuous and hostile.”

Woody Harrelson gets a little something extra:  As Haymitch, he is a “hard-drinking realist” who nevertheless “guides Katniss through every terror” and “is the core of intelligence in the movie . . .  his glare and his acid voice cut through the meaningless fashion show.”

And that is about all self can squeeze out for now.  Oh Pile of Stuff.

P.S. Can self share a secret with dear blog readers? She longs, longs for the filmed version of Mockingjay, knows it’s not arriving until Nov. 21 this year, and has already decided to clear her November calendar. Yup, that’s right: no travels, no workshops, no classes, even NO WRITING (if that’s even possible). Most of all:  No angst, no domestic crisis, no recriminations, no regrets over things said or unsaid, no self-doubt, no dithering, no envy of others getting NEAs or Guggenheims or MacDowell acceptances, no wringing of the hands, no mundane distractions, no remodeling projects, no Tweets, no literary contests, no reading of book reviews, no compiling of “Best of 2014″ lists, no planting, no housecleaning, no shopping whether for essentials or non-essentials (even food), no entertaining of mysterious knocks on the front door or of phone calls from solicitors, no bewailing of personal imperfections, no exaggerations, no facials, no massages, no Vinyasa Flow classes, no research in Green or Hoover libraries etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

NYTBR 12 January 2014: Self Will Not Read Any Review That Describes a Main Character as “Beleaguered”

Even though self suspended her subscription to the NYTBR, she still has a pile of back issues to get through.

Perusing the 15 January 2014 issue, self sees that NYTBR editors have not lost any of their interest in Russia or its writers:  There are reviews of a new novel by Lara Vapnyar (partly about a Soviet youth camp), as well as a translation of Michael Shishkin (famous in Russia).

In the By the Book interview, Sue Monk Kidd named the following as “books with spiritual themes”:  Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson; The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver; The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy; and Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton. Asked which books “we all should read before dying,” she responds with:  Night, by Elie Wiesel, What is God? by Jacob Needham, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Self finds herself skipping over several reviews, for several reasons, one of them being that when a reviewer describes a novel’s main character as “beleaguered,” self quickly loses interest.  Also, right now, self has no interest in reading books about “ornery old men” who drink and smoke themselves “to death” because she doesn’t consider either of these activities even remotely tempting.

She is interested in the books Sue Monk Kidd is “reading these days”:  Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter, Dear Life, by Alice Munro, Sister Mother Husband Dog, by Delia Ephron, and Edith Wharton’s Three Novels of New York:  The House of Mirth, The Custom of the Country, and The Age of Innocence.

Self loves discovering new women writers, and this issue of the NYTBR introduces her to Elizabeth Spencer (“Spencer’s great gift is her ability to take ordinariness and turn it inside out, to find focus in a muddle.”)

She also loves Diane Johnson, who happens to have written a memoir (Flyover Lives: A Memoir).

Having come — finally! — to the end of this post, self realizes that blogging about The New York Times Book Review is an exceedingly intricate and time-consuming activity, because it involves making a list, and a list involves — naturally — exclusion, which then causes her Catholic guilt to rear its annoying head.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“300: Rise of an Empire”

This movie is not a prequel, neither is it a sequel.

It is a simul-quel!

Self doesn’t know whether simul-quel is a real word, but let her explain:  The events take place around the same time as Leonidas leads his handsome and buff half-nekkid army of hot men to the Hot Gates to offer up their tremendous physiques in sacrificial battle against a Persian giant (conveniently named Xerxes, which means he is a historical character) who is adorned with the most fantastic body piercings.

Anyhoo, The Man saw the movie Saturday (by himself, as self was too busy checking her FB page) and swore when he got home that Tom Wisdom was in it, by means of simul-quel or something.

Yeah, right!  Self caught a wee glance, for about 10 seconds!

Nevertheless, here are her thoughts:

The hero is named Themistocles, and everyone keeps whispering the first syllable of his name so it comes off sounding like “mistocles,” which then led self to think of the word “miracles” or “mystical” or some such.  Or perhaps self is just hard of hearing.

When the action is not happening, we are shown scenes in Athens.  The people of Athens are a pasty-faced bunch, draped in red and blue and white togas.  Because they are intellectual, get it?  When Themistocles/Mistocles appears in Sparta to appeal for aid, self got so excited.  Because now we were in the realm of buff bods and lots of wrestling.

About halfway through the movie, it occurred to self that the battles were simply an excuse for two hot generals to play out some very subliminal erotic urges.  For as Freud pointed out, the Oedipus Complex is strong in the human psyche.  Or was he referring to the Erotic Complex?  Anyhoo, all those subliminal urges are definitely in play here.

At one point, a face-to-face between the two generals is arranged, and Themistocles/Mistocles is ushered onto the Persian general’s boat, and this general just happens to be played by Eva Green, her bountiful bosom on full display.  Since Themistocles/Mistocles is not apparently burdened with a wife (as Leonidas was in 300, though Leonidas himself probably had no complaints about having a wife as hot as Lena Headey), and as Eva Green plays a totally bloodthirsty whore of no morals (called, of all things, ARTEMISIA), they engage in rough sex.  And when Themistocles still refuses to switch sides, Artemisia throws a major hissy fit and has him thrown off her ship (but not before he’s had time to salvage his modesty — at this point, though, who cares? — by draping himself in his blue Athenian toga).  The Athenians waiting back on shore for the return of their general look a little — skeptical, shall we say — when he returns sweating like a horse and rather close-lipped about the negotiations.  (Self, you have an absolutely filthy mind!  Why would you think that was what the Athenian henchmen of Themistocles/Mistocles were thinking?  They seemed perfectly poker-faced.  Respectful, even!  Self’s just saying)

Eva Green, Eva Green.  Sigh.  Why has she appeared in only a few tacky movies since immortalizing Vesper Lynde in Daniel Craig’s first Bond movie, Casino Royale?  It is incredible how much energy she puts into her role here.  But, why not. If one is going to commit to a role which calls for bloodthirsty beheadings as well as rough sex, one has to commit 100%.  And Eva Green certainly delivers.  Nay, more than delivers!  Her performance is so 120% it’s almost bat-shit crazy!  And that is what makes this a movie worth seeing.  (Aside from the Spartans and 10 seconds of Tom Wisdom)

Self would also like to say that she waited until the end credits to see who was responsible for the costumes.  Because Eva Green’s clothing was of the full-on dominatrix variety, and self loved all the ripped/torn bodices, the chain-mail sleeves, the golden (rhinoceros?) horns poking out of her back, the boots, the metal covering the outer lobes of Artemisia’s left (and only her left) ear.  And self thought she even glimpsed a wee bit of fishnet stocking. But how could that be, when the last epic shot does not show any coverings at all over Artemisia’s legs.?  Self is sure, though, that in one of the close-ups, she saw fishnet.

She wondered what other actress might bring this level of commitment to such a role.  Jena Malone, perhaps.  It has to be someone who could convincingly present a sexy femme who gets progressively sexier with the appearance of each new, bloody scar.

There was even a poignant father-son-fighting-together scene, which recalled the Tom Wisdom/guy-who-played-his-father pairing in 300.  Only, in the Rise of Empire scenario, the father was waaaay hotter (in self’s humble opinion, at least) than the son.

Self will comment on the transformation of normal-looking Xerxes into Rodrigo Santoro draped in body piercings, in Part 2.

Stay tuned.

Women’s Review of Books, vol. 51 No. 1 (January/February 2014)

Self really loves the Women’s Review of Books.  She devours each issue passionately.

The latest one to arrive in her mailbox is vol. 51 No. 1.

Here are a sampling of the books reviewed:

  • Book of Ages:  The Life and Chronicles of Jane Franklin, by Jill Lepore:  Reviewer Martha Saxton describes it as “original, affectionate, and smart.”
  • The Riddle of the Labyrinth:  The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code, by Margalit Fox, a book “about the writing on tablets unearthed in Knossos, Crete, in the first years of the twentieth century and about the crucial contribution of Alice Elizabeth Kober, a classics professor at Brooklyn College, to their eventual decipherment decades later.”  The review is by Susanna J. Sturgis.
  • The review by Mako Yoshikawa of two new collections of linked stories: Horse People, by Cary Holladay and The News From Spain:  Variations on a Love Story, by Joan Wickersham.  Yoshikawa describes Horse People as “beautiful” and “engrossing,” and calls The News from Spain “wise and wonderful.”
  • The Girl Who Loved Camellias:  The Life and Legend of Marie Duplessis, by Julie Kavanagh, is about the life of “the Parisian courtesan” who fled “poverty, abuse, and the depredations of old men” and whose genius lay in always presenting “the beautiful appearance, the polished surface, the opera box, the pink champagne, the fine sensibilities and insatiable appetites.” The review is by Carole DeSanti.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Ouch! Poor Head! And Other of Self’s Friday Foolishness

It is Friday night.  Spent it at home, as usual.  Reading.

There was a bit more excitement today than usual, since self kept at least one of her appointments (for acupuncture) and felt the delicious pain of needles in the webbed skin between her fingers.  She keeps telling the acupuncturist that she has insomnia, but the acupuncturist looks increasingly skeptical. And self can’t bring herself to say outright that shortly after the treatment begins, she just wants to maybe pass out from sheer relaxation. Starts snoring. Almost rolls over, even with needles sticking out of her shoulders and hands.

After that, it was — oh woe is me!  Does she or does she not stick to her Beginning Yoga class?

Last week was fine, but the people taking the class were definitely not beginners.  The instructor came over to talk to self, and self told her, “I don’t even know what legs are.  Seriously.”  The instructor asked self if she had ever taken yoga before, and self said, “Yes.  When my son was about five. And I haven’t had any regular exercise since then.  Unless you count gardening.” The instructor was very encouraging, but self kept protesting that she was really, really hopeless — “What? Me? Don’t be fooled by externals. I’m a wilting flower.” Just the thought of taking another class was giving her hives, practically.  So she walked into the yoga place and told the woman there that she’d do a make-up class on Saturday.  And the woman handed self a schedule of classes, and the woman said she’d recommend the Vinyasa Flow class.  Hmmm, self thought.  Vinyasa Flow sounds infinitely better than Beginning Yoga.  She told the woman yes, she’d try Vinyasa Flow.  And as soon as The Man came home and self was assured she had a listener (albeit unwilling), she tried saying Vinyasa Flow. And kept repeating it, all through the evening.  Vinyasa Flow.  Vinyasa Flow.  And was so satisfied with her pronunciation and everything.  Felt like an expert.  Vinyasa Flow.

Then she unfortunately stumbled into Crouching Tiger to order take-out, and even though there was no one else there, they told her it would be 20 minutes before her order was ready.  And Pickled, the women’s clothing boutique, is right next to Crouching Tiger.

Self picked out a couple of things from the Sale racks.  Another customer was getting extreme attention.  Self glanced at her.  Blonde.  Jeans.  Nothing great.  Cool.

Self tried on tops.  Hoooly Cow!  Looks like it wasn’t such a good idea to flake out on Yoga Class!  The muffin belly was clearly in evidence.  Honestly, it’s been almost six months since self entered a fitting room, six months, it turns out, of complete and total denial.

But — too late now!  Armed with a feeling of rebellion, self emerged and told the woman what she would really love to try on were jeans.  Quick as a wink, the woman returned with two pairs of skinny jeans.

Skinny jeans?  How could anyone look at self and think she would look good in skinny jeans?

Besides, isn’t self a tad old to be wearing skinny jeans?

Nevertheless, self was bold.  She tried on the first pair.  Ooooh, these jeans were stretchy.  Looked at herself in the mirror.  For some reason, she looked less fat.  Or was that just a result of her writerly imagination, always ready to put a positive spin on the narrative script?  This is why self should stick to speculative fiction.

Anyhoo, the skinny jeans were soooo slimming.  She felt — no, actually looked like Rod Stewart in his heyday.  Or mebbe like Jagger.  This was the era of the late 70s. Maybe early 80s.

Wearing skinny jeans almost made self feel like prancing.  Actually, prancing.

It is really, really hard to be serious when one is wearing skinny jeans.  Self, straight to disco!  Karaoke bar, hello!

And maybe that’s what self really needs:  something to take her away from the Pain!  Pain as in — after endlessly reading and re-reading The Hunger Games books (instead of plowing ahead with Divergent, which she first cracked open two weeks ago), self has decided that the best is still the first.  It’s the best because Peeta is so wonderful.  In Catching Fire, the second book, the Peeta of Book 1 is replaced by an infinitely less interesting Passive Aggressive Peeta.  And Katniss is so Not-Herself.  She’s not making any hard decisions, or even any decisions, just dithering around, feeling mostly empty and unfulfilled.

It needed a kidnapping by the Capitol to make possible yet another Peeta Transformation.  This 3rd Peeta is an improvement over the second Peeta, but still in no way close to the First Peeta, the one who got stuck with Katniss in a cave, and instead of dying became — ascendant!  Like the Phoenix!  If only he’d stayed that way instead of becoming the Wounded Bird of book 2!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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