Silhouette 2: Westwood Village, Los Angeles/ Son’s Room in Redwood City, A Museum of Absence

Boba Loca, Westwood Village, Saturday Afternoon:  The window facing the street is lined with bookshelves.

Boba Loca, Westwood Village, Saturday Afternoon: The window facing the street is lined with bookshelves.

Still in Boba Loca: The laptop of the young woman sitting across from me had a cover adorned with a silhouette of the New York City skyline.

Still in Boba Loca: The laptop of the young woman sitting across from me had a cover adorned with a silhouette of the New York City skyline.

Son's Room in Redwood City is like a museum -- a museum of absence. He built this K'Nex structure when he was 9. Took him about an hour.

Son’s Room in Redwood City is like a museum — a museum of absence. He built this K’Nex structure when he was 9. Took him about an hour.

Virtual Blog Tour: 3rd Introduction

And now, the third of the three people self tagged for the Virtual Blog Tour:

STEEELLAAAAA KALAW!

Excuse the emo post. Self was introduced to Stella K almost 15 years ago, by the woman self considers her mentor, her icon, her 2nd mother:  Doreen Fernandez, who taught self Freshman English at the Ateneo de Manila, many many many oh too many years to count long ago.  Since that fateful meeting, right here in self’s home in Redwood City, California, she and Stella became friends for life.

Stella Kalaw, Photographer Just Blazing with Talent

Stella Kalaw, Photographer Just Blazing with Talent

Stella Kalaw is a photographer. An A-MA-ZING photographer.  You can find samples of her photography projects here.  And she writes a fantastic food blog on tumblr,  Shoots to Roots.

She was born and raised in Manila.  She earned a BA in Communications from De La Salle University and a BA in Photography from Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA.  Her work has been exhibited at the Singapore International Photography Festival, The Ayala Museum, and the Silverlens Gallery in Manila, Wall Space Gallery in Seattle, Rayko Gallery in San Francisco and at the UCR California Museum of Photography.  Her photographs explore narratives rooted from family, memory and places.  She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Miguel Hernandez Poem for the First Saturday of August (2014)

Went to visit Peggy King today. She is 96.

Self met Peggy’s sister, who works in a Los Altos art gallery.

Self was astonished to learn that Peggy has the same birthday as Dear Departed Dad: March 3. Which makes them both Pisces. Which is a sign that’s supposed to get on famously with Cancer (self’s sign)

Without further ado, the poem of the day, from Miguel Hernandez (NYRB/Poets), selected and translated by Don Share

Death, in a Bull’s Pelt

Death, in a bull’s pelt,
full of the holes and horns of its own
undoing, grazes and tramples
a bullfighter’s luminous field.

Volcanic roaring, ferocious snorting,
all from a general love for everything born –
Yes, the eruptions that flare
kill peaceful ranchers.

Now, ravenous, love-starved beast,
you may come graze my heart’s tragic grasses,
if you like its bitter aspect.

Like you, I am tormented by loving so much,
and my heart, dressed in a dead man’s clothes,
winds over it all.

Zigzag 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

The first two pictures are of self’s backyard:  She has one long hose that she uses to water, in a “zigzag” pattern around her yard.

Backyard Watering: Zigzag Hose

Backyard Watering: Zigzag Hose

And she has a few metal plant supports scattered around:

Twisting Metal Trellis, Side Yard

Twisting Metal Trellis, Side Yard

The final picture is from the Asian Art Museum.  The last time self visited, the lobby had a display of cards written by schoolchildren responding to an exhibit.  She likes that the cards are arranged in a rather “disorderly” pattern.  Gives the whole arrangement a feeling of spontaneity.

The cards were written by children responding to their favorite exhibits.

The cards were written by children responding to their favorite exhibits at the Asian Art Museum.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Aimee Bender on Fairy Tales

These days, self’s reading is all over the map.  She’s tried so many times to finish reading Sebastian Barry’s The Secret Scriptures, but despite him being such a beautiful writer, she can manage only a page a day.

Aside from that book, she’s also perusing her personal bookshelf.  The books she consults most often are lined up on the shelves in son’s room. Here’s an excerpt from one of those, Conversations With American Women Writers (University Press of New England, 2004).

It’s from an interview with Aimee Bender, author of the (magical realist?) short story collection The Girl In the Flammable Skirt.  The interviewer (Sarah Anne Johnson, one of the best) asks her about fairy tales. Self thinks about fairy tales a lot because she’s thinking of sending yet another piece to Café Irreal. And she’s also reading a book of Oscar Wilde fairy tales she picked up in Dublin.

I’ve heard you say that fairy tales present plot as metaphor.  What do you mean by that?

Mainly that a fairy tale character has no internal world, so the entire plot is a reflection of their internal life.  Or at least it can be interpreted that way, to good effect.  So suddenly the plot becomes wildly meaningful.  Instead of the truth of regular life, where I don’t believe in signs and symbols in the same way, in fairy tales everything is a sign for something, and the world is this strange, blinking ordered universe of actions.

How else do fairy tales inform your writing?

I feel like somewhere along the line I ate fairy tales. I ingested and digested them, and now they’re part of my whole person.  The way they move plot, the settings, the imagery.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Catching Up: Books of The Economist, 15 March 2014

No more apologies!  Self is going to get to the every single back issue of The Economist (Her subscription is good until next year), by hook or by crook!

Here are the books she wants to read, after perusing the Books and Arts section of 15 March 2014:

The Hard Thing About Hard Things:  Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, by Ben Horowitz:  Self chooses this book to read because part of it is a blow-by-blow of how a business failed.  The author’s advice for prospective entrepreneurs?  “If you are going to eat shit, don’t nibble.”  Mr. Horowitz took his company public, but alas his timing was poor, for the terrorist attacks on 9/11 hit just a short time later.  Mr. Horowitz goes into “wartime” mode.  Read how he does it.

The six-volume, 3,500-page autobiography by Karl Ove Knausgaard, My Struggle (The first three have been translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett):  The Economist calls it “the most exhaustive account of a modern life ever written.” Mr. Kanusgaard turned out this magnum opus by writing 20 pages a day, “baring bits of his soul to a timetable, coping, on the one hand, with the growing fury of his family and, on the other, with the ever-present fear of failure.”  Not until almost at the end of the review is Proust even mentioned, but Proust was in the back of self’s mind from the moment she began reading it.  Like Proust, Knausgaard is obsessed “with the mechanics of memory: he claims that he does not have a good memory until he starts writing.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Containers 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

THIS WEEK, LET’S GIVE OUTER SHELLS THEIR DUE.

–  The WordPress Daily Post

This week’s photo challenge is CONTAINERS.

Self posted on this challenge earlier today.

But she wasn’t quite satisfied with the result, so here’s another attempt to interpret the theme.

First, self would just like to deliver a little ode of appreciation to Gelato Classico on Emerson Street in downtown Palo Alto.  It’s right across from Aquarius theatre, so it’s perfect for indulging either before or after a movie.  Last week, self caught Begin Again.  Apart from the fact that it was a really, really good movie, self got to indulge in her two favorite gelato flavors:  lychee and peanut butter cioccolato.  She chose the “regular” container (the one in the middle):

You can order gelato to come in three sizes: small, regular, or large.

You can order gelato to come in three sizes: small, regular, or large.

And here’s another one of self’s favorite containers:  funky shoes.  This pair was worn by a jazz saxophonist performing at the Fillmore Jazz Festival, just a few weeks ago:

Cool Shoes:  2014 Fillmore Jazz Festival, San Francisco

Cool Shoes: 2014 Fillmore Jazz Festival, San Francisco

Self’s final container is a costume.  Self would like to share a word in praise of the Stanford Tree.  Who soldiered on for the entire Redwood City Fourth of July Parade, when it was sweltering.  The poor human underneath that tree outfit must have been melting.  Fittingly, the human turned out to be wearing a “Keep Calm” t-shirt underneath the costume.  This is the Stanford Tree taking a rest:

The 2014 Redwood City Fourth of July Parade:  The poor Stanford Tree was most deserving of a break; it must have been sweltering under that costume.

The 2014 Redwood City Fourth of July Parade: The poor Stanford Tree was most deserving of a break; it must have been sweltering under that costume.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Containers: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is CONTAINERS.

And, as luck would have it, self stumbled across a series of shots she took in Glendale, December 2012, where one of her Villanueva nieces hosted a reunion of the Villanueva clan.  The day was an all-day eating marathon, a veritable cornucopia of gustatory delights.  People from Bacolod (Dear Departed Dad’s hometown) know how to live!

You’ll find a variety of containers below:

Brazo de Mercedes:  a butter and egg yolk filling is encased in an outer shell of light meringue.  Yummm!

Container # 1:  Brazo de Mercedes , in which a butter and egg yolk filling is encased in an outer shell of light meringue. Yummm! To spell it out:  self considers the meringue layer  the “container.”

Someone made individual portions chicken a la king -- using a muffin baking dish.

Containers # 2:  The muffin baking dish someone used to make individual servings of chicken a la king. Quelle ingeniousness!  Naturally, half the servings disappeared almost the minute the baking tray was pulled from the oven.

No one throws a feast like the Villanuevas!  Everyone at the party was either a cousin, a niece, or a nephew.

Containers # 3:  food serving trays.  No one throws a feast like the Villanuevas! Everyone at the party was either a cousin, a niece, or a nephew, or the partner of a cousin, a niece, or a nephew.  Southern California seems to be the Villanueva destination of choice!

Self so wishes there were a Reunion Part 2.  Or Part 3.

Hear that, Dear Niece Irene?  Time to start organizing another banquet!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

The New York Review of Books, May 22, 2014

Today, self got to see Paul Haggis’s new movie, “Third Person,” and it is seamless and complex and lovely and moody.  It focuses on odd couples.  The woman who most aroused self’s sympathy was the woman played by Mila Kunis.  Having said that, James Franco gives such a wicked and sly performance, as her ex-husband.  He projects such smugness, with just a glance.  His partner, a beautiful, long-legged French gazelle, is the third leg of a triangle, and she also delivers a performance that is complex and moving.  In fact, all the actors in this movie were at the top of their game (well, maybe not Liam Neeson, who gets by on looking worried, all of the time)

Now, self has been weeding her Pile of Stuff of unnecessary materials.  She has so much catch-up reading to do!

One of the back issues self picks up is The New York Review of Books of May 22, 2014.  There’s a review by Masha Gessen of a translation of one of Dovlatov’s works:  Pushkin Hills.  Gessen quotes another Russian emigré writer, Joseph Brodsky, who says of Sergei Dovlatov:

His stories rest primarily on the rhythm of the sentence; the cadence of the narrative voice.  They are written like poems: the plot is secondary, it is but a pretext for speech.  It is song rather than storytelling.

Self wonders how Dovlatov could have escaped her notice until now.

Another excellent review is by Michael Gorra, on Starting Over:  Stories by Elizabeth Spencer.  Spencer wrote The Light in the Piazza, which has such an audacious plot self is sure that Spenser, if having to pitch to a publishing house today,  would never be signed on.

Another of the reviews that stood out is Francine Prose’s review of Emma Donoghue’s latest, Frog Music.

Self is currently reading Richard Price’s Lush Life.  She hopes she can do a better job of finishing it than she did with Jhumpa Lahiri’s short story collection, Unaccustomed Earth.  Self kept obsessively going back over the first page of Unaccustomed Earth because of course the writing is lovely.  If only it wasn’t so stately and dolorous.  She got about halfway through it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Contrasts 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Contrasts:  Light and Dark . . .

2nd floor, Farmyard Cottage, Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig

2nd floor, Farmyard Cottage, Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, May 2014

Son's Room. The painting was done for $20 by an artist in Great America, Santa Clara. Son was six or seven.

Son’s Room. The painting was done for $20 by an artist in Great America, Santa Clara. Son was six or seven.  He’s wearing a San Francisco Giants cap.

Contrasts:  Youth and Age . . .

A Bookshelf in the Main House at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, Ireland

A Bookshelf in the Main House at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, Ireland

The people in the photograph must long have passed away, but their image endures (Love the crease in the photograph itself:  makes the photograph seem very fragile).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

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