Reading, in Bath: Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen

“Oh! I am delighted with the book! I should like to spend my whole life in reading it. I assure you, if it had not been to meet you, I would not have come away from it for all the world.”

“Dear creature! How much I am obliged to you; and when you have finished Udolpho, we will read the Italian together; and I have made out a list of ten or twelve more of the same kind for you.”

“Have you indeed! How glad I am! What are they all?”

“I will read you their names directly; here they are, in my pocket-book. Castle of Wolfenbach, Clermont, Mysterious Warning, Necromancer of the Black Forest, Midnight Bell, Orphan of the Rhine, and Horrid Mysteries. Those will last us some time.”

Ripper Street: Love

Trigger Warning: Gore. Lots and lots of gore.

Wounds don’t just bleed, they suppurate. Blood comes out in great gouts from cheeks, throats, everywhere.

And there is also one terrific love story.

It may be the final season, but there are five seasons to binge-watch.

YAY!

Stay tuned.

Fan Fiction Writer Appreciation Day

Today is Fan Fiction Writer Appreciation Day on tumblr.

YAY!

To show her appreciation, self is quoting from the most recent chapter of a fan fic she’s been following since the start of the year.

“Double turns, Katniss, this isn’t a district company!” Plutarch shouts at her as she drops out of her first turn. Katniss hadn’t even realized she’d singled the piqué and she nods as she goes into her second turn, a double this time.

“They should also be clean, Katniss!” Plutarch sounds exasperated with her. Katniss breathes out, and does the last four piqués into a soutenu, finishing with a pas de chat. She holds herself there, waiting for Plutarch’s nod of approval, then drops her arms when nothing comes.

Oh, down the rabbit hole self goes.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Moments, Florence

Self is still looking for pictures to accord with the Daily Post Photo Challenge this week, RARE.

Back in November 2015, she got a surprise invitation from her niece Irene to go on a trip to Florence.

But of course! Self has decided that she will never say NO when it comes to travel. And she’d never been to Florence.  All the pictures below are from that trip.

First, a picture taken in the Piazza Signoria. Self had spent the day at the Palazzo Vecchio, her niece had gone to the Uffizi. We met up at the square to have dinner. Self took the picture from one of the sidewalk cafés:

DSCN1802

Piazza Signoria, Florence’s Iconic Square: November 2015

On our first morning in Florence, self and Irene were wending our way from our hotel to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore when we passed a library. And though the library was not in any of our guidebooks, self never passed a library she didn’t wish to explore.

So here’s what was inside:

DSCN1718

Self’s ever-curious soul led her to this library, on a street close to the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral.

It turned out to be a library made up entirely of opera librettos. And self thought that was the most fabulous thing.

DSCN1716

The most rare and fabulous thing.

Stay tuned.

#amwriting: August in New York

DSCN0143

New York City Brownstone, Upper East Side

It was the end of August. New York was filled with the sound of small explosions: high heels on pavement, sudden flurries of pigeon feathers, screeching tires, contentious voices.

Basho and “The Freeze”

Self is still reading Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

In the poem below, Basho describes entering the province of Kaga:

I walked into the fumes
Of early-ripening rice,
On the right below me
The waters of the Angry Sea.

* * *

The poem suddenly reminds self of her dystopian short story “The Freeze,” which Bluestem Magazine published last year. Sometime while Obama is President, the Russians do something that shuts the whole world down.

Everyone starts dying. A woman decides to walk out of San Francisco and head south. To make sure she doesn’t lose her way, she decides to walk Highway 1, always making sure that the ocean is to her right. She meets a band of teen-agers.

The story begins with the woman chanting the following:

Redwood, Oak, Laurel, Manzanita, Pine.
Redwood, Oak, Laurel, Manzanita, Pine.
Redwood, Oak, Laurel, Manzanita, Pine.

And darn if self hasn’t just decided that the story ended much too soon. She has to continue, if only so she can figure out for herself what happens to the woman and her teen-age companions. She’s thinking: sequel.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Northanger Abbey: Men

Self must confess that the reason she started reading Jane Austen again is the movie Love & Friendship, directed by Whit Stillman, and starring the delicious trifecta of Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevigny, and Xavier Samuel (She would name more of the actors if she wasn’t so very short of time today). The movie was based on Austen’s unfinished novella, Lady Susan. Anyhoo, it’s quite a good movie, one of self’s favorites so far in 2016.

Northanger Abbey is not as self remembered. There are very long discussions of novels whose titles make them sound “genre” (See her previous post). And nothing happens other than: breakfast, tea, dances, and sitting in bed to recover from dances.

Since self writes fan fiction, she doesn’t mind genre. She doesn’t mind any kind of writing, as long as it’s good.

Anyhoo, the plot of Northanger Abbey concerns — as far as self can make out, the narrative is very circomlocutious — two young, unmarried women who meet at Bath, become fast friends, and then share opinions on everything from novels to keeping up appearances, to men. The novel thus far is just a series of conversations. Time is passing but who cares? The smallest detail of daily life is not too mundane to receive meticulous attention.

One of the young ladies (self forgets which) states that men “are very often amazingly impertinent if you do not treat them with spirit, and make them keep their distance.”

Her conversant protests that “they always behave very well to me.”

Upon which, the first lady responds:

  • Oh! They give themselves such airs. They are the most conceited creatures in the world, and think themselves of so much importance! — By the bye, though I have thought of it a hundred times, I have always forgotten to ask you what is your favorite complexion in a man. Do you like them best dark or fair?

To which the other lady responds that her preference is for “brown skin, with dark eyes, and rather dark hair.” The other says that she prefers her men “sallow.” (Pardon, self always mixes up “sallow” with “hepatitis B” or consumption or ill health)

Which is so fascinating, self wonders how old Jane Austen was when she wrote this, she is so looking forward to reading more! This would be considered chick lit if the sentences weren’t so very very very long and if something more were at stake than how to pass an indolent holiday in Bath.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Austen: In Defence of Novelists

Quicker than you can say SQUASHED BANANA, self whips through Swimming Studies and begins the next book on her reading list, Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey.

She’s pretty sure she’s read this before, but has no memory of the plot.

Somewhere in the early chapters, Austen goes on a riff about the status of novelists in English society. Self did not know you can get exercised this way, and go on to write what is essentially an argument, and plop that in the middle of a novel. Where is the scene? Where is the narrative arc?

Clearly, the English novel in Austen’s day was a very accommodating genre.

Let us not desert one another; we are an injured body. Although our productions have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are almost as many as our readers.

Jane, Jane, Jane. Deep breaths.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Loneliness of the Swimmer

  • You get very tired and depressed, and you wish you had the social life that a lot of your friends have, you wish you could go out with this girl, but it’s so hard to have that. You’re too tired . . .  You wake up and your alarm goes off at five, and you just, you just hear the snow blowing outside, and you’re in a nice warm waterbed and you say, I don’t wanna go out there. Who wants to dive into water at five o’clock in the morning?

Victor Davis, in the swimming documentary The Fast and the Furious, by Alex Baumann

SWIMMING STUDIES: About Pools

Maybe because self is reading Swimming Studies, she starts looking up information on Land’s End and the Sutro Baths.

The magnate who developed Sutro Baths was named Sutro (Duh, but of course!).

Sutro Baths was the centerpiece of a resort bordering the Pacific. San Franciscans could get there by paying 5 cents for a trolley ride.

In a way, self understands what Sutro was aiming for, because her very own grandfather built a resort, right in the middle of sugar cane fields in Barangay Granada in Negros Occidental in the Philippines.

Self’s grandfather, like Sutro, was a populist. The most loyal patrons of Santa Fe Resort are workers. The entrance fee is still ridiculously low because self’s family understands the demographic: the patrons come from the surrounding fields, workers wanting a break. It was called Santa Fe because her grandfather loved American westerns. In addition, he had a huge crush on the American swimmer/film star Esther Williams, so there’s a statue of her in Santa Fe, in Barangay Granada.

Self’s grandfather built an Olympic-size pool which remains a major draw to this day: It was the first, and possibly still the only, Olympic-size pool in the Philippines.

Who does that? Who has such a crush on Esther Williams that he builds an Olympic-size pool in the middle of an island. Not only in the middle of an island, in the middle of sugar cane fields.

When journalists come to write about self’s island, they never mention Santa Fe Resort. It’s such an eccentric thing, the location. The fact is, it’s nowhere near a beach. Consequently, there is no tourist traffic. There are no Chinese, Japanese, South Korean, American or Europeans. In Santa Fe Resort, you will encounter Filipinos. Just Filipinos.

It is a resort built by a man who only got a high school education. A resort for the people who live within a few kilometers, who are from that place.

Self spent every summer of her childhood there.

Sometimes she wonders if those summers were the reason she is a writer now. Because, her grandfather showed her: you can do anything, if you use your imagination.

It is a terrible thing is to have no imagination, to have your dreams stay small.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Reading (2016)

  1. Memoir, Leanne Shapton, Swimming Studies
  2. Brick 96
  3. 2nd poetry collection, John Clegg, Holy Toledo
  4. Nonfiction, Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power
  5. Walasse Ting, 1 Cent Life
  6. Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

Actually a Very Good Question

Self has been browsing movie reviews, and binge-watching Ripper Street, and tweeting with fans about it, and beginning yet another fan fiction, which she needs like a hole in the head, but this one’s irresistible, this one’s got a Really Really Dark Peeta, a Peeta who just might be a murderer! Like Jack the Ripper! . . . Sorry! Back to the reason for this post.

From Critic After Dark’s review of The Shallows (which self saw aaaaages ago, at the start of the summer — feels like a lifetime!) starring Blake Lively, whose legs are so on point self can’t even:

Then of course death crashes the party in the form of a humpback whale carcass. Clever way to account for the Great White cruising nearby (otherwise it’s a bit of a puzzler why the shark — which habituates the waters of California, Northeast United States, South Africa and Australia — is hanging around a Mexican beach) but also raises a whole other question: why forego this tasty, properly wet-aged all-you-can-eat buffet of rich blubber and tender meat for a bony surfer who would hardly make up a satisfying snack?

In answer to which self wishes she could insert a hundred “shrug” emojis!

And self  has a question of her own for reviewer Noel Vera: How does he know the carcass is that of a humpback whale? Because it literally is half gone. So there is no possible way to determine whether it really does have a humped back. Har, har, har! Sorry, self just couldn’t resist making a lame joke.

Self will close with a list of the summer 2016 movies she most enjoyed:

  • The Shallows
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Our Kind of Traitor
  • Café Society
  • Love & Friendship
  • Ghostbusters
  • Bad Moms

Oh, summer. Self can’t believe it’s almost over.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Another Sentence of the Day: Self Getting Hungry!

Before school I would go for a run with my dog, Rambo, then make two large peanut butter cookies in the toaster oven and eat them, steaming hot, on the bus.

— Leanne Shapton, Swimming Studies

Really enjoying this book. Stay tuned.

« Older entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,010 other followers