Ode to Summer II & A Poem by Jim Morrison

Oh Saturday, what a gorgeous day you turned out to be (although this morning was so cold, self nearly froze while walking around the Redwood City Farmers Market, because she forgot to bring her jacket)

How self adores the apricots and cherries she saw at the market, just bursting with sweetness.

Oh beagles, how self adores your barking friendliness, your wayward tangle of leashes, your swaybacked walks, and even the way your tongues hang out, the closer we get to home.

Oh Stafford Park, this afternoon you are full of children and birthday parties, laughter and noise, and you remind self of the times when she celebrated son’s birthday here, and of all the memories the one that stands out is his sixth, because that was when self outdid herself by ordering a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cake from Goldilocks, and when she took it out of the box, all son’s classmates went “Ooooh” at the sight of the three buildings made out of hard candy, tiny Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles clambering down their sides.

Oh hubby, who refuses self’s invitation to take a stroll along Laurel Street (where self secretly hopes to stop by Chocolate Mousse and buy some slices of carrot cake) and all because Jason Bourne is on flat screen HDTV, and it’s coming close to the scene where Matt Damon and Franka Potente encounter punk-haired assassin in Bourne’s Paris apartment, and Matt achieves maximum lethal effect with a letter opener.

Now, both dogs are sprawled on hardwood floor, tongues hanging out. Breeze wafts through orange tree, laden with fruit. Student papers sit next to self’s laptop. The top one is a paper about a poem Jim Morrison wrote when he was in high school, “Horse Latitudes.” Self’s curiosity is aroused. She picks up the paper and reads:

“Horse Latitudes”

A poem by Jim Morrison

When the still sea conspires an armor

And her sullen and aborted

Currents breed tiny monsters

True sailing is dead

Awkward instant

And the first animal is jettisoned

Legs furiously pumping

Their stiff green gallop

And heads bob up





In mute nostril agony

Carefully refined

And sealed over

Hmm, self thinks: Not bad. Not bad at all.

Nonfiction Essay Contest: Sponsored by ravingdove.org

Raving Dove, a nonprofit, anti-war, online literary journal, is now accepting submissions for its first annual Evolve Beyond Violence Nonfiction Essay Award. First-place prize: $1,000, publicity, and publication in Raving Dove’s fall 2008 edition. Three honorable mentions will also be published. Entries are open to the international community through September 1, 2008. Specific entry requirements can be found at http://www.ravingdove.com

Essay Themes: Anti-war, anti-violence, human rights, and/or peace-related topics. The writing can either depict the tragedy of violence and war, or the hope that one day we can evolve beyond it. Submissions should be thought-provoking and paint a moving portrait of our static human condition. Writing will be judged equally on excellence of writing and the ability to effectively communicate the chosen theme. Raving Dove’s editor and board of directors will serve as judges.

Reading for the Day: Oh Cruel, Cruel World!

For the past few days, self has been immersed in reading a March 2008 Vanity Fair article on the director of “The Graduate,” Mike Nichols.

And here are a few of the things she has gleaned from the article thus far:

  • Mike Nichols got his start as a comedian.
  • He took pre-med at the University of Chicago (undoubtedly, a brain)
  • At 33, he directed Robert Redford and Elizabeth Ashley in the Broadway smash, “Barefoot in the Park.”

The above nugget leads self to google “Barefoot in the Park.” And lands her on this doozy of a review by The New York Times’ Ben Brantley, on a revival of aforementioned play, with Amanda Peet and Patrick Wilson playing the Elizabeth Ashley/ Robert Redford roles. This production apparently opened in 2006 and probably closed shortly after, as self doesn’t think anything could survive a review like the following. Self is quoting from the beginning of the article:

THE mistakes begin with the wallpaper. When the curtain rises on the torturous new revival of Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park,” the play’s eager newlywed heroine (portrayed by Amanda Peet) is discovered applying, with laborious comic inefficiency, hypnotically striped paper to the walls of her first apartment. Not to put a damper on a young bride’s early adventures in decorating, but instead of gluing on wallpaper, shouldn’t she be slapping on paint? Then at least the audience would have the diversion of watching it dry.


Certainly, theatergoers deserve some form of incidental relief from the parching desert of a production that opened last night at the Cort Theater. Mr. Simon’s 1963 comedy, his first Broadway smash, was a valentine to his wife Joan and to the joyful tribulations of being young, untried and uninhibited in the big city. Yet for a work that celebrates the liberating force of spontaneity, this version doesn’t have one scene that feels organic, let alone impromptu.

The quip-packed dialogue that is Mr. Simon’s signature registers here with the animation and full-bodiedness of projected supertitles. As the current Broadway revival of “The Odd Couple” indicates, early Neil Simon retains its original freshness about as well as sushi. But as miscast and uneasy as this season’s “Odd Couple” is, it at least has the momentum that comes from honoring the Ping-Pong rhythms of bouncing zingers. “Barefoot” progresses with the stiff-legged, robotic gait of Boris Karloff as the Mummy.

Ouch, Ouch, triple OUCH!

Stop, Ben, STOP! You’re killing me!!

Aaargh: Self Shouldn’t Have, But She Did

Self knows she should be grading papers.

She is an adult, she knows the meaning of responsibility. (And she has already posted twice today, thereby breaking her self-imposed limit of TWO posts a day. For one must live, one must not constantly be checking blog stats, etc etc)

But here she is, lost in the thicket of a fellow wordpress blogger, who has undertaken to list “Dr. Peter Boxall’s List of the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.”

Who is Dr. Peter Boxall? Self has no idea. But, unable to resist the siren call of yet another book list, self has allowed her eyes to meander down, down, down, down — and, before she knows it, she is trapped! She has left a comment on this blogger’s blog! And she must then post on her blog about the list! And because self is so astonished that this blogger actually listed 1,000 books in one post, she is filled with boundless awe, admiration, and gratitude!

Of numbers 1 – 100 on this list. Self did the magical “cut and paste”, thereby saving her fingers for any writing she might feel like doing later, should the creative bug happen to bite (and self sincerely hopes that it does). Titles in bold are the books self has read. Self is so excited that Fingersmith (by Sarah Waters) is on this list, and also ex-Stanford classmate Jeffrey Eugenides (for Middlesex, of course), and that J. M. Coetzee’s Youth, a book self read just last year, is here as well. And of course she loves W. G. Sebald. And how curious that she is about to start teaching The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at xxxx community college tomorrow.

Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
Saturday – Ian McEwan
On Beauty – Zadie Smith
Slow Man – J.M. Coetzee
Adjunct: An Undigest – Peter Manson
The Sea – John Banville
The Red Queen – Margaret Drabble
The Plot Against America – Philip Roth
The Master – Colm Tóibín
Vanishing Point – David Markson
The Lambs of London – Peter Ackroyd
Dining on Stones – Iain Sinclair
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
Drop City – T. Coraghessan Boyle
The Colour – Rose Tremain
Thursbitch – Alan Garner
The Light of Day – Graham Swift
What I Loved – Siri Hustvedt
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
Islands – Dan Sleigh
Elizabeth Costello – J.M. Coetzee
London Orbital – Iain Sinclair
Family Matters – Rohinton Mistry
Fingersmith – Sarah Waters
The Double – José Saramago
Everything is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer
Unless – Carol Shields
Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami
The Story of Lucy Gault – William Trevor
That They May Face the Rising Sun – John McGahern
In the Forest – Edna O’Brien
Shroud – John Banville
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
Youth – J.M. Coetzee
Dead Air – Iain Banks
Nowhere Man – Aleksandar Hemon
The Book of Illusions – Paul Auster
Gabriel’s Gift – Hanif Kureishi
Austerlitz – W.G. Sebald
Platform – Michael Houellebecq
Schooling – Heather McGowan
Atonement – Ian McEwan
The Corrections – Jonathan Franzen
Don’t Move – Margaret Mazzantini
The Body Artist – Don DeLillo
Fury – Salman Rushdie
At Swim, Two Boys – Jamie O’Neill
Choke – Chuck Palahniuk
Life of Pi – Yann Martel
The Feast of the Goat – Mario Vargos Llosa
An Obedient Father – Akhil Sharma
The Devil and Miss Prym – Paulo Coelho
Spring Flowers, Spring Frost – Ismail Kadare
White Teeth – Zadie Smith
The Heart of Redness – Zakes Mda
Under the Skin – Michel Faber
Ignorance – Milan Kundera
Nineteen Seventy Seven – David Peace
Celestial Harmonies – Péter Esterházy
City of God – E.L. Doctorow
How the Dead Live – Will Self
The Human Stain – Philip Roth
The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood
After the Quake – Haruki Murakami
Small Remedies – Shashi Deshpande
Super-Cannes – J.G. Ballard
House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski
Blonde – Joyce Carol Oates
Pastoralia – George Saunders
Timbuktu – Paul Auster
The Romantics – Pankaj Mishra
Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson (have gotten part-way through this like 3 times)
As If I Am Not There – Slavenka Drakuli?
Everything You Need – A.L. Kennedy
Fear and Trembling – Amélie Nothomb
The Ground Beneath Her Feet – Salman Rushdie
Disgrace – J.M. Coetzee
Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami
Elementary Particles – Michel Houellebecq
Intimacy – Hanif Kureishi
Amsterdam – Ian McEwan
Cloudsplitter – Russell Banks
All Souls Day – Cees Nooteboom
The Talk of the Town – Ardal O’Hanlon
Tipping the Velvet – Sarah Waters
The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
Glamorama – Bret Easton Ellis
Another World – Pat Barker
The Hours – Michael Cunningham
Veronika Decides to Die – Paulo Coelho
Mason & Dixon – Thomas Pynchon
The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
Great Apes – Will Self
Enduring Love – Ian McEwan
Underworld – Don DeLillo
Jack Maggs – Peter Carey


11 p.m., self is sound asleep in her bed, visions of sugarplums dancing in her head, you get the picture, when self is roused by a booming voice that says:

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The Official Start of Summer & A Quote From The Economist

(Gone: Memorial Day Weekend: A Questionnaire)

Self musing over what summer 2008 may have in store. Here is a short list of the movies self knows for sure she wants to see:

In her usual contrarian way, self resolves that her summer reading list will not contain a single thriller, “chick lit” novel, or memoir. Instead, she will focus almost exclusively on non-fiction: Stephen Greenblatt’s Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare, Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, Richard Clarke’s Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror, and similar.

Self would dearly love to get a lot of writing done but, she knows, that part of her life is not in her hands.

Here are a few certainties:

    Self will watch the MTV Movie Awards (June 1).
    There will be bills to pay.
    Son will be traveling around Europe.
    Self will not return home to Manila. Neither will she return to Tel Aviv (Even though Ying has just completed second round of chemotherapy and there is no end in sight).
    Dearest Mum will visit and stay for a month.
    The same ratty old pink couch which self has been wanting to replace for something like six or seven years will still be in the living room.
    Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee for president.

In connection to that last, here is a quote from the May 10 issue of The Economist:

In cartoons there is often a moment when a hapless character, having galloped over a cliff, is still unaware of the fact and hangs suspended in the air, legs pumping wildly, until realisation dawns, gravity intervenes and downfall ensues. Hillary Clinton’s campaign looks a bit like that this week.

(And that was two weeks ago, dear blog readers . . . )

A Place

How many times have self and hubby made the trip south to San Luis Obispo since son began attending Cal Poly? Perhaps ten, twelve times. And each time, self learns/ notices new things.

For instance:

    A wooden sign self hadn’t noticed before, just before the road climbs through Cuesta Pass: Mow before 10 a.m. What was the purpose of such a sign, self wondered aloud. Hubby replied, “Fire danger.”
    The stone bench just outside Muir, the dorm where son is an RA: While son was taking a shower, self sat there to read her book (Strapless: John Singer Sargent and The Fall of Madame X, a fascinating portrait of mid-19th century New Orleans) and noticed for the first time a small plaque on one end that said: Imagine Heaven
    The rec room doors were covered with signs that all said the same thing: Bill for Damage. Self thought it was curious, a kind of prank. When she came closer, she saw that each represented some kind of infraction. To wit: Bill for Damage, May 1, a fine of $5 assessed on all first floor residents for leaving pizza in the first floor bathrooms. On May 8, a fine of $5 assessed on all female Muir residents (Muir is divided into male and female wings) for leaving personal items in the trash cans on the first floor. Self asked son who was responsible for collecting the fines, and son replied that he was. Which self thinks must be a hard and not particularly enjoyable part of his job.
    The walls of son’s room are covered with posters, cards, photographs. One handmade sign says: I like you Andrew. A huge banner says: Welcome Home, Andrew, and underneath that there are names, a profusion of names.
    Son likes the movie “Stardust.” He didn’t know the actress was Claire Danes until he googled the movie. Then he found out that there was some kind of strange connection between Claire Danes and Manila. “She hated the City,” self said. “Yeah, I know,” son said. “And the Mayor of Manila declared her a ‘persona non grata.’ Is that still in effect?” Self said she wouldn’t be surprised if it was. And she told son that Zack had written a hilarious poem called “A Letter to Claire Danes.” Self offered to send son a copy of the poem.
    Son also just discovered the movie “Juno.” His new wallpaper is a mosaic of black-and white photographs of “Juno” star Ellen Page.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Huf’n Puf, Huf’n Puf

Tomorrow self and hubby are wending their way south, to San Luis Obispo, there to grace sole fruit of our loins with our munificent presence (Sincerely hope son’s in the mood, not cranky because his RA job required him to get up in the middle of the night and bring a freshman to the emergency room at 2 a.m., as happened last weekend). In preparation for trip, self ran around the whole day like a madwoman, watering plants and staking back roses and buying plant supports from Wegman’s and now, at 9 p.m., her arms are covered with long, red scratches (Better wear a long-sleeved shirt tomorrow!).

Then, self remembered that a friend of Zack’s was going to Tel Aviv and had asked if he could interview the employees at self’s brother’s company. So self tried (for the third time this week) to reach said brother (not Yoo-Hoo, another one), but she kept missing him. One day, she called at 9 a.m. Manila time, and he had just left for the office. So, the next day, she called at 8 a.m., and she had again just missed him. Today, self missed him again so she ended up calling Dearest Mum, at which point Dearest Mum informed self that Dear Bro YH was moving out of his Ecology unit, and if there was no one there with her (Dearest Mum has the unit a few doors down), she would sell both units.

“Ah, ah,” self found herself stammering, “Ah, I wouldn’t do that if I were you. I mean, everyone is under stress this year, because of Ying you know, and even I had to miss classes and was running around like a chicken without a head when I got back, and that was pretty stressful let me tell you, and maybe we should put off making all decisions — most especially anything involving real estate — until next year, when we are all calm–”

“It’s too late,” Dearest Mum said. “I already called an agent.”


At which point self thought the following:

    Thank God Stella K had the wherewithal to reserve that hotel room in the Makati Renaissance Hotel for when self goes home to attend Stella’s exhibit opening in January.
    And, where will self stay from now on, if she visits Manila? Self means, in future years, not just in January 09? She surely won’t have to stay with one of her Dear Bros??? Time to call Maitoni, Dear Cuz in Virginia! Then, self remembers that Dear Cuz has been given the go-ahead by her husband to start building a house in Dasmariñas. Oh, what a relief! Thank God for Dear Cuz!

And now, self has to hot-foot it to San Francisco Airport to pick up rental car, for as loyal readers of this blog well know, both self’s and hubby’s cars are real clunkers, almost ready for the junk heap (Self was sorely tempted, when her car was towed a few days ago, to lie and tell the insurance company it had been stolen. But, self cannot tell a lie! She’s like that stupid Linda at the end of Lorraine Adams’ Harbor, the woman who wore a wire and kept talking to the agent who was talking in her ear, instead of conducting nonchalant conversation with terrorist suspect)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Say It Ain’t So, Harrison!

Self is watching the weirdest Harrison Ford movie ever. In the scene currently presenting before self’s disbelieving eyes, a wildly staring, twitchy Ford is dancing with French actress Emmanuele Seigner, clad in a fetching orange dress (How very prescient of the film-makers to anticipate the “hot summer color” of 2008!)

The whole movie is crazy, though it does feature one very memorable scene of Harrison Ford jumping out of bed, stark naked, with only a teddy bear covering his privates. Then he gets into a fight with two French thugs and self wonders if the film-makers are really going to go all the way with this . . . (a la Viggo Mortensen in “Eastern Promises”) But, alas, no, the scene ends five seconds later.

Speaking of Viggo, “Witness” was showing on TV a few nights ago, and lo and behold, who was that fetching young lad in all the Amish scenes? A really good-looking boy — why, it was none other than Viggo! At, like, 15 years old! And his face looked exactly the same.

(And — aaargh, manicure that self was so proud of, only a few hours ago, has been chipped in several places. When??? How??? Was manicurist perhaps skimping on her product? Self means: using cheaper brands than usual? Because self has never had this happen before, not in all the eight years she’s been a customer. And then hubby tells self that he pulled into a Chevron and had begun filling up with gas when he saw the price/gallon: $4.23. He stopped after he’d loaded up $3.93 and left. Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Hubby says, shaking his head, “This country’s really going to the dogs.”)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

The First Time Ever Self Saw Your Face

Self was too young to see “The Graduate” when it first showed in movie theatres. By the time she actually got to see the movie, Dustin Hoffman had been famous for a couple of years. He was not a revelation to her.

But there were some actors who self was lucky enough to catch at the very beginning, and here’s a list:

Willem Dafoe, “Platoon”
Gene Hackman, “The French Connection”
Al Pacino, “The Godfather”
Keanu Reeves, “River’s Edge”
Charlie Sheen, “Platoon”
Meryl Streep, “The Deer Hunter”
Christopher Walken, “The Deer Hunter”

And here are a couple of actors who left self cold on the first couple of sightings, and the vehicles where said actors revealed something that endeared them to self’s heart forevermore:

Jason Bateman, “The Kingdom”
Adrian Brody, “King Kong”
Nicolas Cage, “Moonstruck”
Robert Downey, Jr., “Ironman”
Jennifer Garner, “The Kingdom”
Ethan Hawke, “Gattaca”
Scarlett Johansson, “The Other Boleyn Girl”
Angelina Jolie, “A Mighty Heart”
Andie McDowell, “Sex, Lies and Videotape”
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