Quotes of the Day: San Francisco Chronicle of Monday, 26 November

After a veritable 24-hour blizzard of grading student papers (with only one break of six hours — to sleep), self feels she is now ready for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Did self ever confide to dear blog readers that she finds this paper so highly entertaining? It’s certainly more entertaining than the San Jose Mercury News, which self used to read when she was a more serious person. Now that self is middle-aged, and likes to poke fun at everything, she confines herself to reading the Chronicle.

So, okey-dokey, first quote of the day happens to be about Texas: TEXANS WHO SHOT BURGLARS — NEXT DOOR — HOTLY DEBATED

Now, self doesn’t know about dear blog readers, but it certainly seems to self that there is something wrong, or even ungrammatical, about that sentence. Anyhoo, self proceeds to read accompanying article:

When he saw two men pry into his neighbor’s home with a crowbar this month, Joe Horn did what many people would do: He called 911.

But when police had not shown up by the time the suspects were about to leave, the 61-year-old retiree did something most probably would not: He put down the phone, stepped outside with his shotgun and killed them.

“I’m not going to let them get away with this,” Horn told the 911 dispatcher, who responded: “Property’s not worth killing someone over.”

Who was that voice of reason speaking from the depths of 911 dispatcher’s office in Pasadena, Texas? Self feels such ordinary citizens should be enshrined in our hearts, for they are the purveyors of much wisdom in these uncertain times.


First there’s the word “New” to describe the typhoon, which makes self think there must have been another one recently, one which she never heard about. Then, the fact that a typhoon can hit twice, which makes self think how seemingly cursed her country is, it seems to get all the double-whammies: typhoons that double back on themselves, cataclysmic volcanic explosions, lahar, mudslides. Thank God there have been no tidal waves yet, or at least none the size of the one that hit Thailand, Indonesia, the Maldives, etc etc three years ago.

Article begins:

Typhoon Mitag slammed into the northeastern Philippines after killing at least eight people in other parts of the country, while another deadly storm that struck days earlier was headed back, complicating emergency operations.

Mitag roared into the coastal town of Palanan in Isabela province late Sunday, its sustained wind weakening but remaining dangerous at 74 mph with gusts up to 93 mph, chief government forecaster Nathaniel Cruz said.

After hitting land, it veered toward the country’s mountainous northern provinces, where authorities evacuated thousands of people because of fears of landslides.

Self sincerely hopes that by now Mitag has blown itself out to the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Third interesting headline (on p. A12) is: BLITZ OF GLASS BUILDINGS HITS SOUTH OF MARKET (There is also a very interesting “sub-headline”: Testing Tries to Ensure Glass Walls Don’t Shatter)

Yes, indeed-y, dear blog readers, it seems the San Francisco skyline is getting a new look, with the following buildings scheduled to be completed in the next few years:

The New InterContinental (32 stories) at Fifth and Howard
The New 555 Mission (33 stories)
The New Millenium Tower (60 stories), at 301 Mission
The New Infinity (35 stories) — apartment housing near the Embarcadero
The New One Rincon Hill (60 stories) — more apartment housing, with a companion tower of 48 stories to break ground shortly

And these are the great quotes the Chronicle pulled out to accompany the article:

To describe the new InterContinental: “A cross between a glacier and an old-fashioned apartment radiator, the curvy inn’s hue is so vivid that it’s being marketed as ’32 stories of cool blue luxury in the heart of San Francisco.’ ”

To describe the Millenium Tower: “not so much a glowing object as a chameleon — a 60-story shaft where the glass serves as a canvas behind thin steel fins that form a diagonal streak sliding up and around the tower’s four sides.”

Whew, that there’s some pretty fancy writing! Self hopes the buildings themselves live up to all the hype.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Since Self is Dining Alone: NYTBR 25 November 2007

Since hubby informed self that he wouldn’t be home until 8 or thereabouts, self decided to go ahead and have dinner. Which she prepares in a jiffy, since all she has to do is open the refrigerator and take out the Never-Ending Ham — yes, that same ham that she purchased over a week ago. The thing with ham is, it never quite gets old, and self has dreamed up countless variations of how to eat it: ham with hot pan de sal, ham chopped up in fried rice, ham in fettucine carbonara, baked ham and macaroni casserole, etc etc etc. Tonight she’s having ham with pasta.

In addition, self had time to peruse latest issue of The New York Times Book Review. So, here’s the list of books self is interested in reading after perusing the 25 November issue:

(1) After reading George Johnson’s review of James D. Watson’s Avoid Boring People: Lessons From a Life in Science:

James D. Watson’s Avoid Boring People: Lessons From a Life in Science, and Watson’s account of how he and Francis Crick discovered the replicating properties of DNA, a discovery which led to the Nobel Prize, The Double Helix

(2) After reading Katie Hafner’s review of Fake Steve Job’s Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs, A Parody :

Fake Steve Job’s Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs, A Parody

(3) After reading Walter Kirn’s review of Ha Jin’s novel, A Free Life :

Ha Jin’s A Free Life

Read the rest of this entry »

Monday After Thanksgiving: Reading “roger”

Self has a copy of roger, vol. 2, spring 2007.

This is a really interesting literary journal. This issue has a piece written by Denise Duhamel: A Poem Written on Venetian Blinds, Slats Facing Outside (The Hilton Garden Inn on East Virgin Court in Tulsa). Self loves her titles; where does she get such great titles? And the poem, too, is very funny.

This evening, the first really restful evening since the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, self is watching Deborah Norville re-play a message left by Kanye’s mother the day before her fatal plastic surgery. Kanye’s mother talks about having “everything from her knees to her neck” done.

With Norville’s bland voice droning on in the background, self settles herself on the couch and begins reading a short story by Marlene Lee, called “Passage.” In the story, a middle-aged woman is experiencing a moment of extreme disorientation at a writer’s conference (ha ha ha ha!): “She’d never heard of such a thing, but she signed a check drawn on her inheritance funds and was directed to a room on the second story of a stone dormitory.” (Hmmm, self thinks, I wonder which one that is?? But, once again, I digress)

The woman experiences another moment of confusion when she belatedly realizes that her bathroom is shared. See, she has just set out all her medication on the bathroom counter, when she hears a discreet knock. And the knock is of course from the room on the other side of the bathroom, which turns out to be shared by a couple (And, upon reading this passage, the image of self’s room at VCCA rises up in her mind, for self too had to share a bathroom, and thank God her “bathroom-mate” turned out to be Drew, a composer, who never spent any time in his room, so it was like having a private bathroom, and self could lie back in the tub and soak in lavender salts every single night, if she felt inclined to do so)

Anyhoo, the female half of the young couple tells the middle-aged woman (whose name is Rebecca, apologies to dear blog readers for not revealing this information sooner) that she is only there to accompany her husband: “My husband, Timmy, is a writer. He’s written hundreds of pages.” (!!@@) Which dialogue sounds very familiar to self. Coming home from one of those AWP conferences, this one held in Vancouver, self was seated next to a young woman who kept passing a baby back and forth with a man seated in the row behind. It turned out the young woman was a writer, and the man was there to take care of the baby. And the young woman happened to be a Stegner. AND she happened to be having her first book published by Penguin. AND, a few months later, self picked up a copy of The New Yorker and found the young woman’s story therein. Self’s life is full of such astonishments. And later she did hear of the young woman giving a reading at Kepler’s, which self was unfortunately unable to attend.

Anyhoo (again), this story by Marlene Lee is so very interesting. The middle-aged woman, Rebecca, happens to overhear a disturbance coming from the opposite room, and she hears the young woman shouting, “It’s just a story!” and, “He’s not necessarily writing about you!” And, still further, “Timmy is a wonderful person and he’s my husband. You shouldn’t have been going through his notebooks!”

And at this point, self wants to sit down and just laugh her head off. Because, how many times has she not had to utter those or similar lines? Oh, countless, countless times.

And let’s see how Marlene Lee ends that scene. She writes:

How terrible to be a writer, Rebecca thought. Once you write something, people read it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Manila Book Launch: Philippine Speculative Fiction, vol. 3

By some cosmic turn of fate, dear blog readers, the story that won the Juked Fiction Contest was included in a new volume of Philippine Speculative Fiction, vol. 3, edited by Dean Alfar. Alas, if only self could fly to Manila and ditch all! But, struggling writers must keep sharp eye on their bank balances, especially now that The Economist had on a recent cover a picture of a swimmer (representing the American economy) and beneath it, a shark (representing the imminent recession). Meaning, this time next year, either a) hubby will be out of a job; or b) self will not be able to land any more part-time teaching assignments; or c) son will graduate from Cal Poly and have no job. (Once again, I digress)

Below, details of the Manila book launch, from editor Dean Alfar:

Just a quick note to remind you that the book launch for Philippine Speculative Fiction III is set for December 8th, 4PM at Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street (at the basement theater). Make sure to be there if you’re in the country! If you aren’t, kindly send over a representative.

We’ll have a simple program (intros of the authors and some readings) and some food (sorry, the money went to publishing the antho!).

Please come and bring your barangay (so they’ll buy the book!)

You can also claim your contributor’s copies of the antho there.

If for some reason you can’t make it, kindly let me know.

Otherwise – see you then!


Dean Francis Alfar

Post-Thanksgiving Sunday: Things Self Has Learned As Of This Morning, 8:06 AM

While reading The New York Times:

    “Brad Pitt dropped out of the political thriller State of Play at the 11th hour on Wednesday.”
    Director Ridley Scott’s next movie, again with Russell Crowe, is Nottingham, “a reimagining of the Robin Hood story from the sheriff’s point of view.”

While continuing to read J. M. Coetzee’s Youth:

    Joseph Brodsky, regarding whom self knows embarrassingly little, who she had hitherto imagined as a middle-aged New Yorker, turns out to be much older, a contemporary of J. M. Coetzee’s, born 1940.
    Brodsky was Russian and suffered for it.

Here is Coetzee on Brodsky:

Accused of being a social parasite, Joseph Brodsky has been sentenced to five years of hard labour in a camp on the Archangel peninsula in the frozen north. The sentence is still running. Even as he (Coetzee) sits in his warm room in London, sipping his coffee, nibbling his dessert of raisins and nuts, there is a man of his own age, a poet like himself, sawing logs all day, nursing frostbitten fingers, patching his boots with rags, living on fish heads and cabbage soup.

And, apropos of nothing, self was just browsing through one of her very old cookbooks, this one a Time-Life book on Classic Desserts (circa 1979!!##), when she stumbles on a recipe for “Pancakes with Cheese Filling.” Just beneath the heading she reads this:

This Russian recipe is taken from the best-selling cookbook of the Stalin era.


Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Post Post-Thanksgiving Report: The 21st Most Gorgeous Day in 2007 (A Very Long Story)

Dear blog readers, self is exhausted, absolutely exhausted. BUT, and in self’s life there is always a but — weather was gorgeous, forecast of rain seemed totally off, and early this morning self was able to plant five freesia bulbs in the backyard.

Oliver, hubby’s German intern, showed up at 10 AM on the dot. Read the rest of this entry »

Filipino Names, Part Deux

Oh why not, why not, since self awakens groggy (much movement in living room: son arriving home at 1:30 AM, beagles skittering over hardwood floors at 5:30 AM) and learns from viewing blog stats that her second attempt to interest loyal blog readers in post about Gone Baby Gone has gone flat, Read the rest of this entry »

Thanksgiving Post II: NYTBR 11 November 2007

In between wandering around California Street, Palo Alto (found used-bookseller who was playing “Hair” the musical at full blast, how very memory lane-ish of him) and going off to rent movies from Blockbuster, self still finds time to post!

Following, books self is interested in reading after perusing the 11 November 2007 issue of The New York Times Book Review:

(1) After reading Jabari Asim’s review of Walter Mosley’s latest novel, Blonde Faith:

Walter Mosley’s Blonde Faith

(2) After reading Sabina Murray’s review of Jenny McPhee’s novel, A Man of No Moon:

Jenny McPhee’s novel, A Man of No Moon

(3) After reading David Leavitt’s review of Peter Ackroyd’s novel about 19th century German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, The Fall of Troy:

Peter Ackroyd’s The Fall of Troy

(4) After reading Rich Cohen’s review of the United States Treasury Department’s Bureau of Narcotics files, the 843-page Mafia: The Government’s Secret File on Organized Crime :

Mafia: The Government’s Secret File on Organized Crime

(5) After reading Marilyn Stasio’s Crime column:

    Ronan Bennett’s Zugzwang
    Reggie Nadelson’s Fresh Kills
    an anthology of crime stories, The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps, edited by Otto Penzler

(6) After reading Sarah Towers’ review of Emily Listfield’s novel, Waiting to Surface :

Emily Listfield’s Waiting to Surface

(7) After reading Jane Perlez’s end-paper essay, “Letter From Australia: Aboriginal Lit”, the following Australian novels (most of which have something to do with Aboriginal life):

    Alexis Wright’s Carpenteria
    Kim Scott’s Benang
    Thea Astley’s Drylands
    Tara June Winch’s Swallow the Air
    and Alexis Wright’s nonfiction book, Grog War

Thanksgiving Post: Self Got Meme, You Got Meme, Let’s All Meme!

Self learned something else yesterday: the meaning of the word “Meme”. The best explanation comes from friend and fab blogger Kathleen:

161 Meme

I’ve been tagged by Larry Lehmer for the 161 Meme. He is the writer/journalist/blogger who writes http://www.whenwordsmatter.typepad.com.

I know who Larry Lehmer is, and am a devoted reader of his blog. I didn’t know what a meme was, I called it a meem, but actually its pronounced Mimi, like my sister’s name (actually she goes by both Meem, and Mimi.

Anyway, I am supposed to write down the 6th sentence on page 161 of the book I am reading, and tag five bloggers. The idea is to keep this going.

I am currently reading “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. I don’t often read fiction, because in my experience, real life is way stranger than fiction.

I had to read this book after I read biographical notes. A tropical writer in a fascist time of fear writes anyway. And so it goes like this.

Sentence 6 on Page 161 of “The Alchemist”.

“The boy could see now that he couldn’t do so if he placed stone upon stone for the rest of his life.”

Here’s self’s own meme: sentence 6 on Page 161 of J. M. Coetzee’s Youth (First, self has to say that over half of p. 161 is a continuation of a very very long paragraph that began on p. 160, and most of the paragraph is in the form of a question, until, that is, sentence 6 on p. 161):

On the Third Programme he has heard music, from the studios of Radio Cologne, music spliced together from electronic whoops and crackles and street noise and snippets of old recordings and fragments of speech.

And the five people self chooses to meme are:

Fellow Writer Chancelucky

Former student Chellis Ying

Fellow Viggo Mortensen fan Lavalady

Filipino pundit Manuel L. Quezon III (Luuuv the name)

Filipino poet Wendell Capili

Find of the Day: Williams Sonoma “Essentials of Roasting” (On Sale for $13.95 at Books Inc.)

Another thing self picked up in Mountain View (aside from the interesting fact that son was deeply, deeply disappointed that he did not grow up in a traditional American family), was a hardcover Williams Sonoma cookbook on the Essentials of Roasting, which self stumbled upon in Books, Inc., where self and son were browsing earlier this afternoon (Ah, at least self can pat herself on the back for having raised a kid who likes to hang out in bookstores — last summer, in Manhattan, son insisted on going to The Strand almost every day!)

The Williams Sonomoa cookbook, originally $34.95, had been reduced to $13.95. Which made it even cheaper than Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Meals ($19.95)! And, what’s more, it had lots and lots of grrreat pictures, on almost every page! (As self has said so many times before, what’s a cookbook without pictures???)

OK, book has an absolutely yummy picture of golden baked chicken on the cover. And inside there are recipes for “Monkfish with Red Pepper Sauce” (Self has no idea what a monkfish is, and is pretty sure she’s never ordered one at a restaurant); “Lemon-Thyme Capon” (capon, for those blog readers who are deficient in food knowledge, is “a male chicken that has been castrated to produce a particularly plump bird with a generous amount of flavorful meat.” See, self learns something new every day! This definition came from self-same cookbook, what a find! Then, self starts to wondering if this effect would also apply to humans, but thought is too horrible to pursue. Once again I digress); and “Beef Tenderloin with Madeira Sauce.”

Must look up turkey roasting instructions.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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