Elemental 2: The New Bay Bridge

Crossing over after a writers group meeting in Alameda. It was a typical foggy summer evening in San Francisco. Traffic was heavy on the approach, but thinned out on the bridge itself, typical for a late Sunday afternoon.

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Good old San Francisco has so many problems. Hardly even works as a city. But views are great.

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The City is best seen during fog. Just self’s humble opinion.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Wondering About Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3

It is sweltering here up in the Pasadena Hills, and self feels no inclination to go outside. In the daytime, Pasadena is a sleepy city. At night, everyone drives with fury almost, zipping past slower cars and switching lanes with abandon. Self finds it very disconcerting. Especially as her GPS Navigator tells her where to turn only after she reaches an intersection, at which point she is usually in the wrong lane.

So, no going outside today. She’s re-reading a Calyx poetry anthology, A Fierce Brightness: Twenty-Five Years of Women’s Poetry, which she stumbled across in her house two weeks ago. Here’s the first half of a poem by Sheila Demetre:

A Woman Is Running For Her Life

Under my ribcage a live coal
is singing. It wheedles from its hutch
of bone, glows blue in every kindling breath.

I need these bright shoes to burn up centuries
of inertia, of sickness holding me limp
with forehead ground against my tangled knees.

Celestial now, I’m all brush and sweep.
My elbows scribble, quickening the air I slog.
Don’t touch my sparks, my hieroglyphs of heat.

She absolutely loves the “hieroglyphs of heat.”

Tomorrow is Episode 3 of Game of Thrones. Does Euron die? Does Yara die? Does Ellaria Sand die? Does Olenna Tyrell die? Does Grey Worm die? If Grey Worm dies, will Missandei go crazy? Does Meera Reed die? If Meera dies, does Bran get to have a wheelchair at last? Do we see Gendry (finally? Cause the tweets are getting ridiculous) Do Brienne and Podrick get to spar again? Does Ned Stark come back from the dead? Does Stannis Baratheon come back from the dead? Will we see more of Ser Jorah’s horrible greyscale? Will Sam be retching again? Will Dany continue to be her insufferable self? Will Sansa be more of her cryptic self? Will Jaime continue to be disconcerted? Will Cersei continue to be sarcastic? Will we ever find out which skilled blacksmiths created the Giant Crossbow aka Dragonkiller? Will Arya Stark continue to evolve? Will Wun Wun come back as a wight?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Class Division: “Spores”

K thinks the boss is in love with her.

She looks like a mosaic puffball, her skin covered with checkered patterns.

The boss was born Earthstar. He’d never look her way. His spores were meant to go else: to a Silverleaf. Or a Shag. Not K that smelled like wet rot. All scaly cap and throat gills. She belonged with other Common.

Varnish and varnish. I’ll say this for K: she is tenacious. Especially about her delusions.

Wrote this story coming out of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, 2014. Got all of the imagery from a book about mushrooms.

Stay tuned.

More “Thing”

  • We pig tenders go about our work with cowls pulled forward, shielding our faces. The sun is too bright: it scalds everything. At least, with a cowl, we still have faces.

New Orleans Review 38.1, 2012

#amreading: THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE

Self is very much enjoying her first Jonathan Evison novel, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance. She is in Paris, enjoying the vibes. The book she read before this one, The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey, by Rinker Buck, was about crossing America in a covered wagon; she began reading it in Cork, almost a month ago. She was still reading it in London. Still reading it in Bath. Finally, finally, in Versailles, she finished it. Because mules just do not go with chateaus, just saying.

Now, at least, she’s reading about cruises. Much better:

The weight of the impending cruise sits on her shoulders, a heavy dread. If only she could cancel without breaking Mildred’s heart. From the beginning, Harriet hoped that Mildred would decline, so she wouldn’t have to go herself, but she should have known better.

— p. 23, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison

Since the book blurbs all state that the cruise is going to happen, self doesn’t have to wallow in the main character’s dithering. Rather than condemn, she relates.

It is a painful, really painful, idea to go on a cruise.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Friends 2: Monet’s Garden at Giverney

Two days ago, self had the opportunity to visit Giverney for the first time. She got so lost in the gardens, she didn’t even bother going inside Monet’s house. Go figure! She’s always loved flowers. They are her friends, always. Which is perfect, since this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is FRIENDS:

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More Evanescent: Big Bus Tour of Paris Great Moments

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Moments: Musee de l’Orangerie

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is EVANESCENT.

What is fleeting, what is most evanescent.

Look at the pictures she chose to take at the Musee de l’Orangerie. Instead of waiting for people to clear out of her photograph, they became part of the moment. And that was even before she found out what this week’s Photo Challenge was.

Moments. That’s all she was interested in capturing this afternoon. Apparently.

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading “Salt” from Joan McGavin’s PASSING ARCADIA CLOSE

Rivers fascinate self.

Here’s a poem about rivers from Joan McGavin’s second collection, Passing Arcadia Close (Oversteps Books 2017).

Self met Joan 2012, in Hawthornden.

SALT

by Joan McGavin

The changing taste of rivers
told me where I was heading.
How could I fail to swim faster?
I’d hugged the coast for hours,
kept the lap of landbound waves
to my right, where the tang of fresh water
mixed in with salt would flood
the roof of my mouth
at each estuary.

At night I dozed in the hammock between waves
or beached and slept away from houses
but within earshot of tides.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Heritage 2: Film Maven, Paris While Cannes

Self was last here in 2012.  She’s declined every opportunity to return, until now.

Look what she encountered around the corner: a film festival running in conjunction with Cannes. The movies are in English, with French subtitles. Perfect.

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Her Dear Departed Dad worshipped Orson Welles, and movies in general. He passed on this HERITAGE to self.

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Self didn’t know until today that it is the 70th anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival:

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Self is a film nut. She takes advantage of every opportunity to attend film festivals, wherever in the world she happens to be: Edinburgh; Ojai, California; Cork, Ireland; Palo Alto; San Francisco.

One day, perhaps, she’ll write a script based on one of her stories.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More Reflecting: Seeing “Mayerling” Last Night

The Daily Post Photo Challenge this week is REFLECTING.

Can self just say she arrived sick and barely able to keep upright. But damn — the Royal Opera House!

Seeing it for the first time was — awesome.

Plus, the adjoining bar/restaurant: All that glass! All that light!

Perfect for this week’s Photo Challenge!

Before the start of the ballet, self dashed to the bar to order some hot tea. She wound up sharing a table with an American woman, a ballet aficionado who has season tickets to the New York City Ballet and watches “thirty ballets a year. At least.” Self confided that she wasn’t feeling well and might leave during one of the intermissions.

And the womans said: The pas de deaux in Act III are spectacular. Don’t leave.

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The Bar at the Royal Opera House, 8 p.m. Saturday, May 13

And then, the interior of the Royal Opera House itself:

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Waiting for the beginning of Kenneth Macmillan’s beautiful, stunning ballet, “Mayerling”: Saturday, May 13

More of the Royal Opera House Bar. At intermission, self went up an escalator to the “Bridge” over the bar, from which she got a jaw-dropping view of Covent Garden, at 8 p.m.:

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Center Top, the “Bridge”: A side escalator takes you to it, and from there you can see all of Covent Garden. SPECTACULAR. Especially at sunset.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Hockney and Cavafy in the British Museum

It is Friday. The British Museum is open late. Right now, it’s full of schoolchildren. They slouch all over the galleries in their jeans and backpacks. Some are French. One French schoolgirl calls an elevator by pressing one sneakered foot against the down button. Remind self never to touch a button in the British Museum. Ever. Another sits on the floor of a gallery, just staring in a kind of daze. Two of her friends come sit next to her. They don’t ask her if anything’s wrong.

The Hockney sketches are in a room right next to the British Watercolors, 1850-1950. Self walked all through the watercolor exhibit yesterday. It was so amazing.

She went back today for the Hockneys.

She loves Cavafy. So does Hockney.

Hockney’s sketches of men are simple pencil, or pen and ink. They are so evocative. Two men lie naked in bed together. There’s one simply entitled “Peter, 1966.”

How beautifully he captures the form of these men in repose! Some of the schoolboys in the gallery were giggly, though not to the point of disrespectfulness.

There’s also a sketch of a shopkeeper standing at the door to his business. Beneath that sketch is a Cavafy poem, “In the Dull Village”:

In the dull village where he works —
as a clerk in a shop;
very young — and where he waits
for two or three months to go by
another two or three months till business slows down,
to go then to the town and throw himself immediately
into its life and entertainment,
In the dull village where he waits —
he went to bed love-sick tonight,
his whole youth afire with fleshly passion,
beautiful youth beautiful in intensity.
And pleasure came to him in sleep; he sees
and has the body he desires in his sleep.

— C. P. Cavafy

Further background on the exhibit is here.

It runs through this Sunday, May 14.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: Kristin Dimitrova

Self has read this collection before: it’s in the Blue Room of Café Pardiso.

An Old Mesopotamian Legend About Gilgamesh, King of Uruk, Who Wanted to Become Immortal

— by Kristin Dimitrova

Wanted to;
could not.

— from Dimitrova’s collection A Visit to the Clockmaker (Southward Editions, 2005), translated from the Bulgarian by Gregory O’Donoghue

Now For One of Self’s: “The Lost Language”

This was published many years ago, in a magazine called Isotope.

Published in Utah and edited by a poet, Chris Cokinos.

It joined together two things: science writing and creative writing.

You would find, in the same issue, a play by a physicist, a nature essay, a poem by a mathematician. That sort of thing.

Self loved it.

Chris Cokinos, what are you doing now? Know that self considered Isotope a very noble experiment.

Here’s an excerpt from the story they published, which became the title of her third collection. It’s one of those hybrid things: part essay, part memoir, part myth, part short story.

The Lost Language

Filipinos once had an ancient written language. If I were to show you what the marks look like on a piece of paper, they would look like a series of waves. Or like Egyptian hieroglyphics. Like the eye of the Pharaoh I saw in my old high school history books.

The language was written on tree bark. Epics were probably written in this language, but I don’t know what they are. My ancestors are shadowy people. Shadows.

When I was a little girl, perhaps eight years old or so, my mother gave me a book of Philippine legends. The legends were mostly about beautiful maidens and enchanted animals. But the story I liked best was about Hari sa Bukid, which means King of the Mountain.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Metamorphosis Generator

From A Work-in-Progress:

The Jaguar I know is a bit much. Especially for the country. But Wolfgang must have his toys. The Jaguar, the helicopter, the espresso/ice cream machine, the Jacuzzi with 20 different spurt settings, the 80-inch flat-screen HDTV, the four-foot Bose speakers, the laser wrinkle removers, the Do-It-Yourself Botox injectors and hair implantation devices, the state-of-the-art dollar-printing mechanism, the 3D Alternate Universe Hologram, the foot-high platform shoes with the massage feature, the metamorphosis generator . . .

Once, he trapped a fly in the metamorphosis pod, and what emerged was a woman with wondrous, bulbous dark eyes and gossamer hair.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day: Vulture.com

  • In the final scene of tonight’s episode, all your Game of Thrones boyfriends (Jon! Jorah! Gendry! Tormund!) find themselves together in Eastwatch castle, and it’s like the angriest sitcom crossover episode you’ve ever seen.

Ha, ha! Good one Vulture writer Nina Shen Rastogi!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Money Quote of the Day: Joe Dempsie

The Baratheon line is strong in this one.

Last night, self powered up her MacBook and saw messages: He’s in King’s Landing! (Thank you dear cousin from Bacolod who couldn’t wait to tell her that)

Self wanted to say: Shut up! She so much wished she had been able to watch Eastwatch (Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 5) before seeing that.

But when the opening credits were rolling, and she saw the name JOE DEMPSIE, she was like KILL ME NOW.

Shortly after the episode ended, she went on Google and saw about half a dozen new interviews with Dempsie (2017 as opposed to, oh, 2013). Dempsie must be a very busy guy!

Here’s a quote from his interview with Huffington Post:

There’s a scene in Season 7 where Arya doesn’t like Ned’s statue in the Winterfell crypts and says it should’ve been done by someone who knows his face. Gendry knows Ned Stark’s face and is a craftsman. What do you think about him making Arya a Ned Stark statue one day?

Dempsie:  I think that’d be great. Hopefully he’d make it out to Winterfell and not have sort of a Lionel Richie “Hello” type of thing, he drags it up as a present for Arya. But, yeah, I mean, that’s an interesting theory. I think you might be on to something there. I personally would like to hope that Gendry has a bigger role to play in the end game than carving a statue of Ned Stark . . .

lol

Stay tuned.

 

Poetry Saturday: Laura Jean Baker

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Moon Over Park Avenue, New York, May 2016

Human Weather (an excerpt)

by Laura Jean Baker

August made a habit: warming our bodies
to the point of sacred.
On Dog Star days for twenty years
we loved to our dew point,
honeyed our moon,
and kneaded our bodies
into the wholesome shape of babies.
Girl-boy-girl
slid into the not-yet warmth
of every other May.

Better late than incomplete,
we made our last
between Autumn sheets; a boy named Frank,
he’d skid across the cusp of June and July.

The poem originally appeared in Calyx, a Journal of Art and Literature by Women, summer 2012.

About Laura Jean Baker: she earned her MFA from the University of Michigan. Her poetry, fiction, and memoir have been published in The Gettysburg Review, Connecticut Review, Cream City Review, Third Coast, Confrontation, and War, Literature, & the Arts.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Elemental in Pasadena

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is ELEMENTAL. Erica V. on The Daily Post describes her response to experiencing the American Southwest for the first time: “I was both confused and in awe of this extreme landscape.”

Last month, self was in Pasadena. Her first visit south in three years. She Airbnb’ed in the Pasadena hills. The house was at the very top of a winding driveway. Behind it was nothing but steep, scrubby hillside.

Just inside the front door was a rock, a very heavy rock. Self should have asked her host about it, but she never did:

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There was a chameleon that kept trying to get into self’s unit. It was a beautiful thing. Every time self left the apartment, the chameleon would be clinging to the screen door. One day, self decided to photograph it:

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Finally, a slice of green matcha tiramisu from Urth Caffé, in downtown Pasadena, a block from legendary bookstore Vroman’s. It looks for all the world like moss!

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: THE FALL OF THE OTTOMANS, by Eugene Rogan

Rogan’s The Fall of the Ottomans is the first history/nonfiction self has been able to get into since May.

She’s on Chapter Five: Launching Jihad, p. 102

The Jihad does not come from the source you’d expect: It is December 8, 1914. Turkey’s Minister of War is a politician named Enver Pasha.

Rogen’s description of Enver:

Enver, an impetuous man, had made his career through bold, high-risk initiatives. A historic leader of the 1908 revolution, an architect of the 1911 Ottoman-led jihad in Libya, leader of the 1913 raid on the Sublime Porte who forced the prime minister to resign at gunpoint, and “liberator of Edirne” in the Second Balkan War, Enver believed in taking action and had little doubt in his own judgment and abilities.

Here’s a list of the other history self has read thus far in 2017:

  • Montcalm and Wolfe: The Decline and Fall of the French Empire in North America
  • The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  • SPQR
  • Rubicon
  • The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Other Textures

Been reading Gendrya all day in preparation for tonight’s Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 4. Which self knows already from all the leaks has NO. GENDRY. Nevertheless. It is reportedly spectacular. There is a scene in which . . . but, no. THERE SHALL BE NO FURTHER SPOILERS.

She’s posted twice on this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge TEXTURES. Now it’s time to appreciate these beauties from other WordPress bloggers!

Kudos to the bloggers!

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

#amwritingshortstory: Manchester Square

Setting, The Wallace Collection, London:

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Fragonard’s “The Swing” Originally, the lady was to have been pushed by a bishop. But this was evidently too much. So, instead, we have an elderly gent sitting on a stone balustrade, in the shadows behind.

  • She walked past the Flemish Masters in the East Drawing Room, strode past Titian’s Madonna and David Teniers the Younger’s the Deliverance of Saint Peter.

Later, self took her notes and added this sentence (while having lunch at Chez Nous, 22 Hanway Street):

  • She was more of a café person than her friend Maxine, who’d set the bar pretty high, whose idea of dinner was to go to the Ottolenghi in Islington, who had impressed her parents into gifting her a trip to London (she couldn’t be bothered to learn French, so London it was) by getting an A on a paper about the Thirty Years War (“1618 to 1648,” she told her mother, Cici, who blushed with maternal pride).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Feathers and Oil Paint: More Texture

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from the Exhibit “Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade,” at the CA Legion of Honor, San Francisco

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Mark Rothko’s No. 14, 1960, at the SF Museum of Modern Art

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Edvard Munch’s Night in Saint-Cloud, at the SF Museum of Modern Art

#amwriting: Notes for a Story Collection

Working Title: Magellan’s Mirror

Opening Sentence, Story # 1:

Her cousin believed that the sinking of the Titanic was part of a Russian plot to eliminate John Jacob Astor and other American imperialists.

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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