These Guys Are Great!

THEY’RE LEAVING ON A JET PLANE . . .
(PAL, that is!)

IFUGAO MUSIC & DANCE ENSEMBLE OF BANAUE FAREWELL PERFORMANCE

I heard them interviewed on KPFA!! They were fantastic! Kudos to Alleluia Panis for providing us all with the opportunity to see and hear the Ifugao of Banaue

Sunday, October 28, 2007
4:30 PM
Bayanihan Community Center
1010 Mission St @ 6th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
Suggested Donation: $15 – $25 sliding scale

Don’t miss out as we send off the Ifugao Music & Dance Ensemble of Banaue in STYLE. After a whirlwind, 5-week tour jam-packed with performances, rehearsals, workshops, lecture-demos, and playtime along the way, the Ifugaos sadly say goodbye to the coastal breeze of the SF Bay Area and make their way back to the majestic highlands of the Philippines. Join us at the Bayanihan Community Center as this amazing ensemble offers the final performance of its 2007 US Tour.

This is your last chance to purchase beautiful, hand-crafted products of Banaue. Colorful weavings, hand-carved figures and jewelry, silver pendants, bahags (boys, you know you gotta have ’em) and other native items will all be on sale at discounted prices! Proceeds benefit Kularts and the Ifugao artists. Cash only!

YOU SNOOZE, YOU LOSE! RESERVE YOUR SEATS NOW!
SPACE IS LIMITED, so please shoot us an email at info@kularts.org or call 415.239.0249 with the following information: 1)Name, 2) # of Seats, 3) Email, and 4) Phone No. to reserve your seats. Walk-ins are welcome but are subject to space availability! Guests with reserved seats must arrive 30 minutes prior to the show to honor their reservation.

For inquiries, donations, volunteer opportunities, etc., please email info@kularts.org or call 415.239/0249. Salamat!

Self Begs Dear Blog Reader’s Indulgence

Warning: This evening self is going to be startlingly immodest. Opportunities to brag come her way but rarely, and when hubby suggested that she blog about “it”, since “it” would give her the opportunity to write about something nice “for a change”, he said, self complied with alacrity.

Self has won a writing contest, dear blog reader.

One judged by Frederick Barthelme.

Which self regards as extremely propitious. For her writing career, that is. Especially since this is the first writing contest she has out and out “won.”

And self would like loyal blog readers to know that she has been reading Frederick Barthelme for many years.

And that she never, ever entertained any hopes of winning this contest. Not even in her wildest dreams.

And last night (or early this morning), she had an extremely un-propitious nightmare about being stuck in an apartment complex where one of the tenants was a raving, murderous maniac. She knows not what deep, dark impulse precipitated such a dream.

But now she is quite sodden with hero-worship over Frederick Barthelme.

And would like to thank not only Mr. Barthelme, but all connected with juked, who have now made it possible for self to pay for Traffic School without crying.

And self knows she should quit blathering right now. Right this minute. Or risk further humiliating blandishments.

Stay tuned, dear blog reader, stay tuned.

Tuesday Evening: Oh, Sweet Mystery of Life!

Hubby walked in the door while self was watching, with rapt attention, Beauty and the Geek, a show she stumbled on while flipping through the channels. Self thought the geeks would be exclusively male, and the beauties exclusively female, but after watching for a few minutes, she thinks she can identify at least one geek girl. Her “beauty” is a sleek, metro-sexual man, and since he is shirtless, at least in this episode, his bursting pectorals are on clear display.

Anyhoo, while self is in the midst of watching, hubby walks in the door. Self has just finished cooking new dish, adobong moderno, which did not turn out exactly as she had intended. She was supposed to serve it with 1/2 cup mayonnaise mixed with 1/4 cup adobo sauce, but by the time she’d finished frying the chicken thighs, the adobo sauce was reduced to about 2 teaspoons. So she told hubby she’d made fried chicken.

But, anyhoo, hubby was very distracted and asked immediately, “Did I get any mail?”

Read the rest of this entry »

Strange But True X: Fish Have Insomnia, Stanford Reports

Self knew it all along, dear blog readers:  she knew she wasn’t the only one in the world with such severe insomnia that she can go to sleep at 3 AM and be up two hours later.  Now, while browsing Stanford website (as she does about once a day), she stumbles upon this article from the Stanford Medical Center, posted 17 October.  And, since self finds it so exceedingly entertaining, she has decided to share it with dear blog readers.

Article was written by one Brian Lee.   Thank you, Brian, for providing self with the answers to such questions as:  a)  How do we know whether a fish floating motionless in a tank of water is really asleep?  and b)  Why are zebra fish better subjects for scientific study than dogs or mice?

Researchers in the School of Medicine have hooked a fish that suffers from insomnia in their quest to understand the genetics behind sleep disorders.

The findings, published in the Oct. 16 issue of the journal Public Library of Science-Biology, show that even zebrafish—a common aquarium pet—can have a genetic mutation linked to sleep problems. The work represents a milestone in sleep research by Emmanuel Mignot, MD, PhD, who also uncovered the genetic cause of narcolepsy in dogs.

Since most fish lack eyelids, many people have wondered whether fish can even nod off. The paper from Mignot’s team provides proof that they do, and that zebrafish are a powerful new animal model for studying sleep disorders.Zebrafish are all the rage among developmental biologists because compared with mice they are inexpensive to breed. And unlike cheaper fruit fly and worm models, fish have a backbone—thereby better representing the human nervous system. And their babies reveal many details because they are see-through.

Self suspects that there is one glaring typo in above article, and that is in paragraph 4, the sentence: And their babies reveal many details . . . Shouldn’t the word be bodies rather than babies, dear blog reader???

“The fact that zebrafish larvae are transparent means you can look directly at their neuronal network, even in living fish,” said Mignot, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

Mignot’s laboratory found the gene responsible for narcolepsy in Dobermans and Labradors in 1999, helping reveal how the disorder occurs in humans.

Read the rest of this entry »

Magnificence

My God, it was a gorgeous day in the San Francisco Bay Area. Self is sure that blog readers from northern California will agree. The sun was shining, rain that was predicted to arrive today never showed, and self dragged a rocking chair to the deck (hope it’s still sunny tomorrow, so that self can sit on the deck and rock away to her heart’s content) and even bought another plant: a Japanese anemone.

Now, self is perusing yet another of her journals, Alimentum. Everything in this journal is about food or eating. There’s nothing high-brow about most of the articles. Take this one, for instance, by Pappi Tomas, called “Memories of Meat.”

I was very fond of bologna (pronounced bah-loh’-nee). Throughout most of grade school a bologna and mayonnaise sandwich was the only sandwich I could tolerate. Ham and mayonnaise was a close second, but all the while I was eating a ham sandwich I was thinking bologna. Even on a warm day, when the mayonnaise turned sweeter, the bologna softer, I would have chosen this sandwich over any other. Even over peanut butter and jelly, allegedly a favorite of children.

This is a pretty embarrassing admission, but all along self thought “bologna” and “baloney” were two separate things: that is, she thought “bologna” was that pale pink pole of sausage she saw on meat counters at the deli, next to the salami and prosciutto and Black Forest ham, and she had no idea what “baloney” was and didn’t want to know. And now, courtesy of Mr. Tomas, she has discovered that they are one and the same 🙂

This evening, since self experienced such unbridled success with arroz caldo and tripe, she has decided to try her hand at yet another dish, something called Adobong Moderno. To judge by the recipe in The Philippine Cookbook, which self blogged about a little while ago, it is something like a cross between chicken adobo and fried chicken. That is, one starts with simmering chicken thighs in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, salt and pepper, just like adobo. But when all the liquid has simmered away, chicken is dipped in eggwhite, dredged in flour and cornstarch, and fried until crisp (Gaaah — the grease, the grease! Given their fondness for oily and fried food, it’s amazing that Filipinos are not all 200-plus pounds)

Now, since self is staring at flat-screen HDTV and it happens to be on The Food Network, self is watching Rachael Ray. Which reminds her that she’s been seeing headlines in the supermarket tabloids about Ms. Ray’s husband’s supposed philandering. And self admires Ms. Ray for being able to keep up such a bubbly demeanor. Self thinks it must be hard.

Then, self remembers two things that contribute immeasurably to her good mood:

    5th season of Nip/Tuck is beginning in less than two weeks, on Oct. 30.
    And son called last night, while self was having dinner with godson in Fuki Sushi, and confirmed that he will be driving up Thursday and can stay until Sunday.

Happy happy joy joy!! Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Amazing, Simply Amazing

Self has decided that she must post before going off to meet her godson, a sophomore at Santa Clara, whose birthday is today. Self is treating godson and his girlfriend to dinner at a Japanese restaurant where she used to hang out, when she was still a grad student at Stanford. The place is called Fuki Sushi, and it’s on El Camino in Palo Alto. Self thought it might be a kick to take godson there, as she knows niece G (who is spending this quarter in Oxford — that’s Oxford, UK, not Oxford, Mississippi, and if self knew how to abbreviate Mississippi she would have) loves it whenever self takes her to a restaurant and says, “This is where I used to eat when I was still studying Chinese/ Creative Writing at Stanford.”

Anyhoo, self knows that she’d better blog now, for after dinner she might not get the chance, hubby will surely be on-line, and since his laptop doesn’t have the wireless thing, he uses the DSL box, and that’s the same box that self’s Airport Express is plugged into, and when he unplugs the cord to her Airport Express in order to put in the cord to his laptop, self’s wireless connection goes away.

Whew, that is a very long explanation for why self feels it is imperative she must blog now.

Also, self decided that she would only blog if hubby were out of the room. And he’s been walking back and forth, back and forth, from the backyard to the flat-screen HDTV, for approximately an hour. And sometimes he’ll stop in front of the TV (which has the sound turned all the way down, so all self sees is people opening and closing their mouths, and she has no idea what they are saying) and he’ll whip out a pad of paper and a pen and write something down, and self has no idea what he is writing. Sometimes, too, he will take out his cell phone and stare at it. Then he’ll put it in his pocket and self has no idea what it is he has seen on his cell phone.

But, anyhoo, because self finds hubby’s activities so mysterious, they are also so distracting, and therefore she can’t write. So, she tells herself: Each time he comes into the room, I’ll stop. And I won’t resume until he leaves.

Which is making for a very choppy post, dear blog reader.

All right, what has self managed to achieve this weekend?

    Well, she thinks it is pretty spiffy that she made arroz caldo (using carcass of whole chicken that she boiled with celery and garlic and onions, as per instructions of Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan), and she still marvels at her decision to add the tripe, which elevated the humble dish to nirvana level.
    Self thinks it is pretty suck-y that she got nothing but spam in her in-boxes (all six of them) this weekend. The only e-mail she got that wasn’t spam was from ex-Assumption classmate, telling her of upcoming get-together at house of yet another ex-classmate, whose son had somehow managed to make it into Columbia. Self tried to back out of it by saying she couldn’t “afford” the $30 exchange gift requirement, on top of a financial contribution for food, but ex-classmate e-mailed her back all in caps: YOU”D BETTER COME! And self caved in like the coward she is. When she related sad tale to hubby, he said: “You should have said you had to give a reading.” Which self thinks would have made things even worse, for she’s been pretty successful so far in hiding from all her ex-classmates the fact that she is a writer, that she has written stories where characters use bad language and do wrongful things to each other.

Anyhoo, what else happened this weekend?

    Since tomorrow’s class at xxxx community college is on ZZ Packer’s “Brownies”, self got to read the story all over again, which was fun.
    And self bought two small pumpkins from Wegman’s for $2.99 each.

Hubby took her to see The Kingdom this afternoon, which self thought was a pretty kick-ass movie. It had self sitting on the edge of her seat all through the last 20 minutes, when she almost couldn’t stand the tension of not knowing whether Justin Bateman would end up with his head hacked off for one of those “snuff” videos disseminated on Al-Jazeera. Although, if she really stopped to think about it, self should have known that Justin would be saved in the end, because you just don’t kill off a funny character like that, not in an American movie anyway. And of course in the end Jennifer Garner had to get all coo-ey with Saudi Arabian kid, who turned out to be grandson of fearsome America-hating terrorist Abdul Hamsa, who of course had a big surprise hidden under his jellabah. But, anyhoo, it was all very exciting, even up to the very last line. And the two actors who play the Saudi Arabian policemen/good guys are extremely good-looking. Kudos to director Peter Berg for defying all self’s expectations of what an action movie set in Saudi Arabia and starring Jennifer Garner would be like.

Well, hubby has returned, and since he’s walking right behind self at this moment (and probably staring straight at her computer screen, though she can’t verify this unless she actually stops typing and looks over her shoulder), self will have to stop. Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

This Evening: Icebergs

Self found reading about Antarctica so fascinating that she figured everyone else would, too. Late last night she was just beginning Chapter 7 (“Antarctica”) of the book she is currently reading, Sea of Glory: America’s Voyage of Discovery, about the U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838- 1842.

Self wrote a post that very helpfully pointed out that the leader of aforementioned U.S. Exploring Expedition was responsible for naming southernmost continent Antarctica. Then she threw in a few more salient facts from the chapter.

So, it serves her right to discover today that no one, absolutely no one is interested in Antarctica. And who can blame them? Who (except for self) can find ecstasy in reading a passage like the one reproduced below, from pp. 149-150 of Sea of Glory? Who in their right minds?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

At 5.4 million square miles, the Antarctic Continent is roughly the size of the continental United States and Mexico combined. Almost all of it is perpetually covered in ice that in some areas is more than two miles thick. Since the ice reflects as much as 90 percent of the sun’s solar radiation, this is the coldest place on earth, with an average annual temperature of -22 degrees F. Between 70 and 80 percent of the world’s freshwater is contained in this approximately 6.5-million cubic-mile reservoir of ice and snow, in which is preserved a climate record that goes back 200,000 years. If the Antarctic ice sheet melted, the sea level of the globe would rise by more than two hundred feet.

Antarctica is also the most inaccessible place on earth. Except for the point where the Antarctic Peninsula reaches toward Cape Horn at the Drake passage (a gap of six-hundred plus miles), it is surrounded by a moat of more than two thousand miles called the Southern Ocean. In winter, a six-hundred-mile-wide belt of pack ice seals off the continent. In summer, when the ice begins to retreat, the waters surrounding Antarctica become the mariner’s equivalent of a minefield. Indeed, an appalling vocabulary has been created to describe the appalling variety of icy hazards a navigator encounters as he or she approaches the continent. A “growler” is a piece of sea ice that is about 180 square feet and rises just a few feet above the sea; a “bergy bit” is about the size of a two-bedroom house, while a “floeberg” is described as a “massive piece of sea ice” with a dimpled or “hummocky” surface. But growlers, bergy bits, and floebergs are nothing compared to the vast, flat-topped icebergs that are spawned from the edges of the continent. “Calved” from the fronts of land-based glaciers, these tabular floes are unlike anything seen in the Arctic and are sometimes more that two hundred feet high and a hundred miles long. Making these dimensions even more remarkable is the fact that seven-eighths of a typical iceberg is under water.

What’s New and Exciting on the Internet?

The Economist knows. Or, rather, the ad self saw in the Classifieds section of the latest Economist purports to know.

Self and hubby had just finished dinner. In fact, today self managed to produce a fabulous dinner, thanks to recipe for arroz caldo in Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan’s Memories of Philippine Kitchens, a recipe she followed assiduously (even though it took her all of two hours, from first to last step). And, since hubby had just purchased some tripe from Mexican grocery near our home, self decided to throw that into the mix. And the house smelled heavenly. And hubby was in a very good mood. And self’s tummy is now mucho distended. But never mind.

Anyhoo, after dinner self was resting her weary limbs on couch in front of flat-screen HDTV. The whole day, self had occasion to watch at least four different college football games. She got to see USC wipe the floor with Notre Dame, 38-0, at Notre Dame (USC quarterback Sanchez looks like he could be in the movies). Then she saw part of the Michigan game. And part of the Auburn game. And she knows that Ohio State is the strongest college football team in the country. And she knows that Cal lost to UCLA (major upset). Let’s see, is there anything self is leaving out? If any blog readers care to chime in here, please feel free.

Self called son. He sounded tired. She asked him if he had a weekend free, and he mentioned that as a matter of fact he was “off duty” the coming weekend. Self then asked, why didn’t son spend the weekend at home? And hubby was signaling that he thought it was a bad idea, because of the wear and tear on son’s very old and banged-up Civic. But self told son that if he wanted to take the train, she’d pay for it. And son said he’d think about it and let her know.

And then self opened the latest Economist, and just for fun she decided to start from the back, and her attention was caught immediately by an ad that began:

What’s New and Exciting on the Internet?

As loyal blog readers know, self is always ready to discover anything that’s new and exciting on the internet.

And so she read further and discovered that there is something called SUPREME MASTER TELEVISION, which provides

Positive, Inspirational and Entertaining Programs!
24 Hours a day, 7 Days a week

But, alas, it is only available in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.

Oh, would that SupremeMasterTV were available in the United States! Self is practically gnashing her teeth, as she would so love to watch inspirational programs all the time, it might be something like listening to inspirational tapes/CDs on the way to work. “How To Get Rich in Six Months” would be a very interesting topic, self thinks. Or, “How To Get Thin Without Dieting.” Or, “How to Travel to Nepal on Someone Else’s Dime.”

Then she thinks that she might try suggesting to Dearest Mum that they try taking a trip together next year. She would look on the trip as an experiment. To see if it would really be possible for self to embark on a joint venture with Dearest Mum, to see if they could pull it off without driving one another crazy. Self already knows where she would like to go: Dublin, Ireland, where self has an old and dear friend, a retired priest who lives in a nursing home, and who is none too healthy.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Late Review: “3:10 to Yuma”

A long long time ago, before the debacle of:

    car engine developing weird noise on the way back from Sonoma Book Festival
    dentist extracting two of self’s teeth
    vet detecting more lumps on Gracie
    self’s first moving violation in over 20 years
    visits from: ex-Assumption high school classmates and ex-Ateneo college classmates
    visit to classmate nine years in a coma

Yes, long long before any of the above had transpired, self spent one afternoon in local movie theatre, watching 3:10 to Yuma.

A few days before, self had just taught her first (or second) class of the quarter at xxxx community college, and 3:10 to Yuma had somehow become part of the discussion. Self got the distinct impression that quite a few of the female students found Christian Bale exceedingly cute (Self thinks so, too, though he isn’t in her “top” cute category, which would be headed of course by Viggo Mortensen).

Now, weeks and weeks after that enjoyable afternoon, self comes across a New Yorker with a review of aforementioned movie.

In the course of a quite respectful review, New Yorker writer David Denby fails to mention Christian Bale’s acting at all. Instead, Denby lauds Russell Crowe (“an acting genius”, Denby says, with which assessment self wholeheartedly agrees, for anyone who can pull off gladiator/ general Maximus role, and Beautiful Mind geek/genius/crazy person role, and British commander of H.M.S. Surprise role is definitely deserving of the appellation “acting genius”); praises Ben Foster as “gifted” (self now realizes that she found his character in the movie extremely creepy, and therefore she wholeheartedly agrees with Denby characterization of Foster as “gifted”); and describes Fonda’s acting as “amazingly fierce” and deserving of adjective “iconic.”

Frankly, self did not recognize Fonda at all, not until movie was 3/4 over and she realized he had not yet made an appearance. Then, she suddenly recalled old gent who had been off-ed by Russell Crowe character, and she slapped her forehead and said, “Holy Cow!” (silently), and she thought it was quite a disappointing role for Fonda, since he just looked generally old and decrepit. Even a trifle loathsome. And she couldn’t decide whether she liked him or hated him. But fortunately he got off-ed before she had to think too hard about it.

Back to Denby on Crowe. Denby writes:

Within minutes of his first appearance, he convinces you that Ben Wade is the most intelligent man in the territory.

Ha, ha, ha! That sure is funny. But it is true. No matter who/ what he plays, Crowe’s eyes have such intelligence. That is why self can never quite buy him in an out-and-out romantic role, as in that movie where he played a bumbling fool (didn’t fool self for a minute) who goes to France and falls in love with fetching local maiden.

Then Denby writes:

“Crowe separates himself from Foster and the other actors, creating a quiet private space in which he can play.”

And with this, too, self wholeheartedly agrees.

The only other actor who transmits a similar intelligence is, in self’s humble opinion, Ed Norton.

But, alas, he has chosen as his next role the Incredible Hulk. Which in any case is nowhere near completion (or is filming at this very moment). And, casting her eye over upcoming movies, self thinks there is only Benicio del Toro who she really wants to see, or Casey Affleck (who she always loved in those Ocean movies, though he had such bit roles).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Today: More on Dearest Mum

It has not started raining yet, so self considers this a very good sign. It means she will have time to finish digging hole for last plant she purchased from Redwood City Nursery, a viburnum davidii.

And, self is eating a slice of triple-chocolate mousse from bakery on Laurel Street in San Carlos: Vivaldi’s or Chocolate Mousse, as the new owners have taken to calling it. Self saw the cutest array of Halloween cookies and thought of purchasing a box to send to son, for him to share with his “rezzies”, as he calls his freshmen charges. Perhaps she’ll do that next week.

Self started perusing some old e-mail and came across one from her aunt, a response to a question from self. The e-mail said that Dearest Mum’s piano teacher at Curtis was one Madame Vengerova. So, self decides to google “Madame Vengerova + piano” and comes up with a whole host of entries on movie called Madame Sousatzka, starring Shirley MacLaine.

Hmmm, self is quite sure Dearest Mum was visiting at the time this movie opened, in a small art-house cinema just around the corner from self’s apartment in Menlo Park. And Dearest Mum said nothing, nothing about wanting to see it. Curious.

Here is what The New York Times had to say about the movie:

The film critics will be discussing ”Madame Sousatzka” in cinematic terms. Speaking musically, though, this is an honest attempt to bring into perspective the travails of a prodigy, his growing up, his relationship with his teacher and, as he develops, with the music industry. Piano teachers go about it in various ways. Some are tyrants. Adolph Henselt, considered in the 1850’s to be a peer of Liszt as a pianist, ended up as a teacher in Leningrad. His idea of teaching was to go around swatting flies and yelling ”Falsch! Falsch!” (”False! False!”) whenever his pupils hit a wrong note. He made them so nervous they hit many wrong notes, which delighted him. There was a saying in the profession: ”Henselt kills.” Liszt’s great pupil, Karl Tausig, was also tyrannical, with never a good word to say. His way of teaching was to sit down and say, ”Play it like this.” Since he was Karl Tausig, conceivably the most perfect technician who ever lived, nobody could play it like this. In Amy Fay’s unforgettable words – she was an American girl who studied with him in the late 1860’s – ”it was like trying to copy a streak of lighting at the end of a wetted match.”

Whether or not the producers of ”Madame Sousatzka” realize it, the piano teacher in the film is modeled after Isabella Vengerova (1877-1956). She was the empress of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and through her hands passed such figures as Samuel Barber, Lukas Foss, Leonard Bernstein and Gary Graffman. She was demanding and despotic. Things had to be done exactly her way. When she went into a tantrum, she could make her pupils feel like crawling caterpillars. But she gave them technique and musicianship, and she lived by a set of vanished ideals in which music and only music was the focus of her and her pupils’ lives.

Oooh, somewhere in the back of her mind, self recalls that Dearest Mum told her that Madame Vengerova was royally pissed when Dear Departed Dad began hanging around her star pupil. In fact, Madame V told Dearest Mum in no uncertain terms that she could not hope to have a real career if she married Dear Departed Dad. Which proved to be just the ticket, for shortly thereafter Dearest Mum married Dear Departed Dad, departed New York (for at least 20 years) and raised five children, just like that, in the Philippines.

Self was the second.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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