Self Agog Over Earthquake! And Other Surprises of the Evening

Dear blog readers, just as self was settling down for a cozy evening with hubby in front of flat screen HDTV (Hubby informed self that she would indeed be able to watch season premiere of Nip/ Tuck, as we still get F/X — happy happy joy joy!), she felt a disquieting rumbling beneath her feet. Self and hubby looked at each other, but the rumbling did not go away. Then TV began to tilt forward. And self thought it would indeed be very funny if TV crashed to the ground. And hubby declared we were experiencing an earthquake. And self grew suddenly afraid. And hubby ran outside. But self could not leave the dogs, who were still snoozing (proving definitively once and for all that the old wive’s tale that dogs know when an earthquake is at hand and give notice by exhibiting odd behavior is just that — an old wive’s tale). And self can’t understand why this event has not been trumpeted on every news station in the Bay Area.

Anyhoo, after she had calmed down somewhat, self resumed her activity of the evening: perusing weekly e-mails from Publisher’s Weekly. And now she would like to share with loyal blog readers that Publisher’s Weekly classifies deals this way:

Read the rest of this entry »

Tuesday Evening: Report on the State of Self’s Brain

Back from three hours of student tutoring at the Writing Center. Self literally did not have a moment’s breath between appointments. At 6, self stood up, dashed off to copier. But of course, copier which had been jammed last week was still jammed this evening. And standing in front of sole other copier in the entire campus were two of self’s former students, who smiled wanly at self but did not defer to her advanced age. So self had to wait for 20 minutes while former students discussed which color of paper to use to copy their homework. Self, a genius at pretending to look busy, pretended to be perusing the bulletin boards (Join the Peace Corps! Attend a retreat!)

Then, self hot-footed it home (keeping sharp eye out for Police cruisers. Self thinks it is absolutely sneaky of police to begin using those black SUVs that look like Escalades. The other day, she was barreling blithely along when one of those black behemoths pulled up beside her, and self saw clearly the police logo on the side. Then, she broke out in a sweat, stopped humming, and started doing the herky-jerky with her driving. It’s a wonder policeman did not pull her over for dementia)

Ahh, the dishes in the sink, the beagles swarming about her feet. But self is sure hubby will not be home for at least an hour, so she has time to check her blog stats.

Last night, self was rolling on the floor with Letterman. She can’t understand it: when she was in her 20s, she loathed him. When she was in her 30s she began to find him occasionally interesting. And now she finds him absolutely side-splittingly funny. His guests last night were Jerry Seinfeld, who did a very spirited defense of his wife’s integrity (poor thing was accused of plagiarizing a cookbook, of all things) and ex-Yankees manager, Joe Torre (wearing a suit that seemed at least a size too big: self thinks he is in definite need of sartorial advice, maybe from Seinfeld, who always looks sharp).

Today, self is reminded that she cannot watch season premiere of Nip/Tuck. Last night, she missed Weeds. Of movies showing, self knows Lust, Caution is playing in local arthouse. But self has no interest in seeing Tony Leung’s naked butt again, she thinks she’s seen enough of it 15 or 20 years ago, in The Lover. (Really, is there no other Chinese actor capable of performing a sex scene??? What about Chow Yun-Fat’s naked butt for a change???)

Oh! Self suddenly remembers that tomorrow is Halloween! And she remembers reading somewhere that the two most popular costumes this year will be a scary Hillary Clinton or a scary Amy Winehouse (isn’t that an oxymoron?) Self is all agog in anticipation to see what shows up at her door tomorrow. Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Self Feeling Silly Again . . .

Today, for the benefit of dear blog readers, a list of all the people who have sent self at least SIX e-mails in the past three years:

* to “” account

Apparently, this is one of those mornings where self will do anything to get out of a) having to write b) clear the sink etc etc etc

AWP Membership Services
Brian Roley
Claudia McIsaac
Dean of Arts & Sciences, NDNU
Drew Hemenger
Ehud Havazelet
Houghton Mifflin College Rep
Isabel Seligo, teaching colleague
Jay Dayrit
Kisa at NDNU Bookstore
Lillian Howan
Lois Musmann
Loy Arcenas
Marc Wolterbeek
Marianne Delaporte
NDNU Registrar
Oscar Villalon
Publishers Lunch
Ryan Yip
Sabina Chen
Sandra Bernhard
Scott Inguito
Stanford University Center for Teaching & Learning
Prof. Stephen Cole
Steven Kahn
Teddy Wilson
UCLA Extension
Valerie Vogrin
Victoria Featherstone
Vince Fitzgerald

Looking at the above, self realizes this is a completely different set of people from the ones who write her at her Stanford account. Mighty interesting . . .

Another Twofer: NYTBR 21 October 2007 & Recent Books by Stanford Alums (Only One of Whom is a Stegner)

First, books I am interested in reading after perusing the 21 October 2007 issue of The New York Times Book Review :

(1) After reading Liesl Schillinger’s review of Tom Perrotta’s new novel, The Abstinence Teacher :

Tom Perrotta’s new novel, The Abstinence Teacher

(2) After reading Christopher Benfey’s review of Sandra Smith’s translation of Irene Nemirovsky’s newly discovered novel, Fire in the Blood :

Irene Nemirovsky’s novel of the early events of World War II, Suite Francaise
Sandra Smith’s translation of Irene Nemirovsky’s newly discovered novel, Fire in the Blood

(3) After reading Joyce Johnson’s review of Bliss Broyard’s One Drop: My Father’s Hidden Life — A Story of Race and Family Secrets :

Bliss Broyard’s One Drop: My Father’s Hidden Life — A Story of Race and Family Secrets

(4) After reading Lee Siegel’s review of Alice Sebold’s new novel, The Almost Moon :

Alice Sebold’s memoir of her own rape, Lucky
Alice Sebold’s new novel, The Almost Moon

(5) After reading Adam Hochschild’s review of Marcus Rediker’s The Slave Ship: A Human History :

Marcus Rediker’s The Slave Ship: A Human History

(6) After reading Maud Newton’s review of Ellen Litman’s “novel in stories”, The Last Chicken in America :

Ellen Litman’s The Last Chicken in America

* * * *

From the “Shelf Life” section of the Stanford Alumni Magazine, Sept/Oct 2007:

First, the Stegner:

Naeem Murr : The Perfect Man

Leaving a childhood of staggering neglect behind in India and London, 12-year-old Rajiv Travers comes to be the ward of a romance writer who lives in Pisgah, MO during the 1950s.

Then, the Non-Stegners:

Taylor Antrim (’96, now an editor at ForbesLife): The Headmaster Ritual

Ed Wolfe, who identifies with North Korea and thinks Stalin was misunderstood, runs an exclusive prep school. His son, James, is a senior who’d like to get through the year unhazed.

Richard A. Walker (’69) : The Country in the City: The Greening of the San Francisco Bay Area :

Walker, a geography professor at UC Berkeley, writes a history of the activism that has allowed the Bay Area to remain “more greensward than asphalt jungle, more open space than hardscape.”

Paul Schmidtberger (JD ’91) : Design Flaws of the Human Condition

A beautiful product that works really well — until some little-noticed facet of it proves disastrous — is said to have a design flaw. Schmidtberger’s comic novel holds that infidelity is the design flaw of love.

Things Self Learned This Weekend: Or, An End of (Last Weekend in October 2007) Status Report

About hubby:

    Hubby enjoys going to the City — if self drives.

About son:

    Son is writing a story about a post-apocalyptic universe. (Go, son, go!)
    Son really really missed the steak fondue self used to make for him when he lived at home. Self had to prepare it three times this weekend. Son consumed 4 lbs. of tri-tip steak.
    Son is under the impression that his parents live very “fast-paced” lives (!!@@##)

About self:

    If not for hubby, self would not have felt up to going to the City to catch farewell performance of the Ifugao Music & Dance Ensemble — and yes, it was so worth it to go to the city to see them perform at the Bayanihan Center. The troop performed all over California: Sonoma, Sacramento, southern California, and of course San Francisco.
    Self finds it impossible to park when hubby is beside her, doing the back-seat driving.
    Out of 10 shots self takes with digital camera she bought in Hong Kong, one with “anti-shake” and anti-blurring features, 9 will be blurred. Which means self is an absolute sucker and should never try bargaining with any salespeople in Hong Kong.

About Richard Strauss:

    He died in 1949.
    He was influenced by Nietzsche.
    He is known as “the absolute master of orchestration.”
    His Alpine Symphony (1915) has exceedingly soporific effect — or at least, that was its effect on self during concert last night at Davies Symphony Hall.

About Beethoven:

    Upon hearing an outdoor performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, he stopped and exclaimed to a companion: “We shall never be able to do anything like that!” Which self believes is a touching display of artistic humility/ vulnerability (and which anecdote was contained in programme for last night’s San Francisco Symphony concert.)

About Hayes & Kebab

    Aside from having wonderful kebabs and baklava, also make a killer moussaka

About Dearest Mum

    She plays Beethoven with more energy and expressiveness than Saturday night’s pianist did (and, she is about half his size).


    The No. 11 breakfast (2 eggs on toast, fruit bowl) in Bob’s Courthouse in Redwood City is grand.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

A Book Review That Is Really A Commentary : The Man Booker Prize

From The Economist, week of Oct. 20 – 26, 2007:

A review of the Anne Enright novel, The Gathering

In 2004 the judges of the Man Booker prize passed up the chance to honour the sprawling, drunken family as one of the finest pieces of theatre that literature has to offer when it picked Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty over Gerard Woodward’s I’ll Go To Bed at Noon. This week a new panel unexpectedly gave fiction’s best-known award to Anne Enright for The Gathering, a raw examination of a family (Irish, of course) made up of 12 children, seven miscarriages and more than a lifetime of drink, masturbation and misery.

In making their choice, the judges turned their backs on three more interesting offerings: Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach, one of the year’s biggest sellers; Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, a fine examination of America’s fear of Islam; and an engaging and original study of the power that literature has to change lives irrevocably (Lloyd Jones’s Mister Pin).

Not that The Gathering is without its strengths. Ms. Enright, the fourth Irish writer to win the prize, is a 45-year-old Dubliner who has written three previous novels, short stories, and a work of non-fiction. She has a fine writing voice and is good at melding raw anger with an original and funny turn of phrase.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hear, Hear!

For anyone lucky enough to have read the “chancelucky” post of 25 October,

Albus Dumbledore Tells All (a really odd Karl Rove Adventure)

Isn’t he such a gas??? He had self rolling on the floor, with tears in her eyes!

A few days earlier, self also happened upon the most incisive deconstruction of a movie she has ever been privileged to read, and that was chancelucky’s take on Eastern Promises. It’s the kind of review that is so filled with pithy references that self almost needed a dictionary to get through it. But, self urges dear blog readers to endure; not only will you feel smarter at the end, but the payoff is huge.

People, you are witnessing the birth of a great satirist!

About Writing

Yesterday was “writing day” in self’s class at xxxx community college. Was nonplussed by the tension that self sensed in the room. A fire alarm went off somewhere, and self sensed half the students wanting to flee. But instead they kept their heads down and endured. Self, sitting at the front of the room, looking at the heads bent over papers, the shoulders hunched in attitudes of intense concentration, felt a kind of gratitude. If there is one quality self appreciates in a student, (because she feels it will get them through everything), it is courage.

This morning, early, before son and hubby are up, self is indulging by reading Poets & Writers. Since son came back, two days ago, there has been a new rhythm to her on-line explorations. For one thing, when son first tried to access self’s network, he found that he needed a password. And when self looked up the “password hint” (what with all the visits from ex-classmates, self’s mind has turned to jello), it said only “my favorite person.” And self immediately thought of son. So she tried at least a dozen variations of his name, even the silly ones from his baby-hood, like “Chi-chi” (deepest apologies, son). And nothing worked. Then, she tried variations of “Gracie”, who self knows is not a person but anyway is one of her favorites, but no go. Then, scraping the bottom of the barrel here, self tried variations of her own name: batchoy, batchi, chi-chi, taba, you name it. Still no go. So finally she called Apple Support, and they were closed. And of course yesterday morning she was in class, so son had to languish in the wasteland of not-being-online for hours and hours, until self got home. And finally self (after waiting on hold for 20 minutes) got to speak to someone, who had her re-load everything on her laptop. And finally she passed on the new password to son, who then said he was being prompted for a “key chain.” And self had no idea what that was. So, in extreme anguish, she had to surrender her own laptop to son (even though she is sure she was missing all sorts of important e-mail– NOT!). And she fell asleep last night with quite a cricked neck and woke up this morning feeling like she was 80 years old.


Now, perusing Poets & Writers, self would like to share with dear blog readers the two most interesting entries she read on p. 180. And these are, to wit:

(1) For any aspiring Anthony Swoffords out there:


Another Interactive Online Course from

Experienced, published fiction and nonfiction writer, playwright and creative writing teacher Stephen Shugart will help you capture fresh experiences and get them down on paper in this supportive, individualized writing workshop.

Offering creative writing classes and one-on-one coaching/ editing.

(2) And for those writers who are hopeless at multi-tasking:


In our 14th year, Writer’s Relief will do it for you. Use your valuable time to write. Stop researching and targeting markets, preparing cover letters, addressing envelopes, etc. Our highly recommended submission service will have your work circulating at all times. Free brochure.

Writer’s Relief, Inc.,
409 S. River St., # 26D
Hackensack, NJ 07601

Best of luck, dear blog readers!

Self Said: “Bring in a story that changed your life.” Student Brings in CASANOVA

That should teach you, self! Next time, think before you open your big mouth!

Self’s lecture of yesterday was so rousing: she was quite taken by her own energy. Mind you, this was even before she learned she had just won the juked Fiction Contest.

Topic of the day was that bugaboo, Metafiction. Examples were taken from Margaret Atwood, Lorrie Moore (of course, that old chestnut: “How To Become a Writer”), and Tim O’Brien (“How To Tell a True War Story”). Self had the class read in pairs, in three-somes. It was quite exciting.

After the class, student named J sidled up to self’s desk and laid before her disbelieving eyes a thick tome entitled A History of My Life, by Giacomo Casanova.

“This is the book that has changed my life,” declared J, a student who has already been accepted to USC and is just taking English classes at xxxx community college so he can get them out of the way.

“Especially the preface,” said J. “I thought you might want to xerox it for the class.”

“Thank you, J!” self blubbers. “I will certainly do that!”

Then self whisks the book away, and tonight she opens it.

Alas, her eyes begin to droop before she has gone very far into the Preface. Flipping through the pages, she lands on Chapter 1:

In the year 1428 Don Jacobe Casanova, born at Saragossa, the capital of Aragon, natural son of Don Francisco, abducted Donna Anna Palafox from a convent on the day after she had taken her vows. He was secretary to King Alfonso. He fled with her to Rome, where, after a year of imprisonment, Pope Martin III gave Donna Anna a dispensation from her vows and the nuptial blessing, at the instance of Don Juan Casanova, master of the sacred palace and uncle to Don Jacobe. All the offspring of this marriage died in infancy except Don Juan, who in 1475 married Eleanora Albini, by whom he had a son named Marcantonio.

Hmmm, that’s much more like it.

Stay tuned, dear blog reader, stay tuned.

Why Today Is A Very Special Day

Today is a very special day, dear blog readers.

Why? Because of course it is the day after yesterday.

And today self has seen what her blog looks like in Arabic script (beautiful)

And self got the opportunity to leave very self-serving — even boastful — messages on various friends’ answering machines (The only one who called back was Zack; and she believes she woke Brian up — he was too polite to cuss — for which she is deeply sorry)

And self got mechanic to look at her car and drive around with her for 10 minutes to make sure the knock self swore she was hearing from under the hood was not a figment of her imagination. And of course noise never manifested itself while self had mechanic driving her car, so perhaps it is just self’s propensity to stop and start, stop and start (keeping sharp eye out for Redwood City police, who are just all over the place these days) that is creating the noise, and self had to drop mechanic off with profuse apologies.

In addition, self saw the dentist. And while dentist had self’s mouth absolutely crammed with implements of all kinds, she struck up a conversation with hygienist about how hungry she was, and how she had packed a lunch but hadn’t had time to eat it, and how it was already 3:30, and self felt like raising her hand and saying, “Well, I’m not exactly enjoying this so maybe we should just get on with it.” Anyhoo, afterwards dentist told self she had filled three cavities (“What did you do two weeks ago?” self inquired. Dentist informed her she had filled only one cavity. Self wanted to ask why dentist had to wait two weeks before filling the other three; might have saved her feeling sharp pain during dinner at Fuki Sushi with godson. But, once again, I digress). Dentist also made self promise she would visit an oral surgeon and have yet another tooth pulled. (“What?” self said, in shock. “Am I going to lose four teeth in total?” In answer to which, dentist threw self a glance of extreme exasperation)

Okey dokey! But anyway self is at home. She actually managed to get here without another ticket, despite the presence of three police cars at the boundary of Atherton and Redwood City. And she is starting to cook dinner. With cousin’s enthusiastic encouragement, self is continuing her exploration of her various Filipino cookbooks. Today she is using Eleanor Laquian and Irene Sobreviñas’ Filipino Cooking Here & Abroad (Publisher: National Bookstore), and she is following a recipe for “Sirloin Steak and Vegetable Barbecue,” which involves marinating the steak with finely chopped onions, juice of one lemon, 1/4 cup olive oil, 3 cloves crushed garlic, 1/4 tsp. celery salt, some soy sauce, and a sprinkle of sugar.

Stay tuned, dear blog reader, stay tuned.

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