Food Places to Check Out (When Self Goes to Manila in January)

The latest issue of Filipinas Magazine arrived in self’s mailbox ripped and torn (perhaps a neighbor’s dog got to it —  ha ha ha!).  Still, self was able to read most of the pages (except for the cover). Self’s been clipping articles and putting them aside for her upcoming trip.  On p. 9, she finds a list of food recommendations by Claude Tayag, who started out as a painter, who has built himself a stunning house — which self was fortunate enough to visit, with son, in 2004 —  filled with his artwork and handmade furniture, and who is now, according to Filipinas, “the Philippines’ most renowned food expert/restaurateur”.  Wow!  Talk about a fascinating career arc!

Now, Claude has drawn up a list of the best “hole-in-the-wall” food joints in the Philippines (Yum!  Yum!)

There are places in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan and Pampanga, Negros Oriental and Cebu.  But the places self is really interested in are the ones in Iloilo City (birthplace of self’s Dear Departed Lola, as well as self’s mother-in-law) and Negros Occidental (birthplace of self’s Dear Departed Dad).  Here are those places:

  • In Iloilo CityTatoy’s and Breakthrough, “a toss-up for the best seafood” (If only Claude had included street addresses, for it might be a tad difficult for self to find some of these places —  that is, if they are indeed true hole-in-the-wall eateries)
  • Again in Iloilo City:  Deko’s or Ted’s, another toss-up for the best batchoy (Hey, that’s self’s nickname!  What the @@##!!)
  • Bacolod City:  Enting’s Special, for its “several kinds of kinilaw” (our home-grown version of the Peruvian cebiche)

God, self’s mouth is watering, so great is her anticipation about sampling these places.  Only two more months to go!  Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Culture in the Third Reich

“When I hear the word culture, I reach for my gun!”

— statement attributed to Hermann Goring, from Richard J. Evans’ (marvelous and wholly absorbing) The Coming of the Third Reich

This Would Have Been the XXX Most Gorgeous Day

Self had such a wonderful afternoon.  She spent most of it outside, planting Galactic Star daffodil bulbs in the backyard.  It took her quite a long time, for aside from fluffing up the soil with gypsum and organic amendments, she had to construct a kind of wire barrier over each planting, to forestall crafty Gracie, whose diet du jour lately consists of chewing up the bulbs self has so lovingly planted —  as she did last week with a whole bunch of fritillaria bulbs that self had just purchased from Costco.

If self had just stayed out in the backyard, enjoying the last rays of this gorgeous fall afternoon, instead of coming inside to wash her grimy hands, she wouldn’t have had to listen to the four messages from Bank of America telling her that someone had been charging massive amounts again on Dearest Mum’s Bank of America debit card.

Self stood there, receiver pressed to her ear, waves of shifting emotion washing over her as she listened to each of the bank’s messages.  But, first and foremost, self was mighty confused.  First of all, Dearest Mum had assured her that she had closed the account.  Or, at any rate, had cut up the card.  And Read the rest of this entry »

The Cultural Life of Berlin, circa 1933

Self is on p. 404 of Richard J. Evans’ magisterial tome, The Coming of the Third Reich.  The Germany it conjures is a scarily violent place, with brownshirts ruling the streets and giving the Nazi stiff-armed salute to mock officials who were considered “degenerate” or “tinged by Jewish-ness.”  Here’s what self discovers, from a chapter called “Hitler’s Cultural Revolution” :

  • The creation of what the Nazis regarded as a truly German musical culture also involved the elimination of foreign cultural influences such as jazz, which they considered to be the offspring of a racially inferior culture, that of the African-Americans . . .  It confirmed the widespread Nazi view of American degeneracy . . .
  • The swooning tones of the newly popular saxophone also came in for criticism, though, when saxophone sales began to slump as a consequence, German manufacturers of the instrument riposted by trying to claim that its inventor Adolphe Sax was German (in fact, he was Belgian) . . .
  • And yet, Richard Evans writes, jazz did continue to survive in Germany, through the 1930s, because “jazz proved almost impossibly difficult to define, and with a few deft rhythmic tweaks, and a suitably conformist demeanour on the part of the players, it proved quite possible for jazz and swing musicians to continue playing in the innumerable clubs, bars, dance-halls and hotels of Germany throughout the 1930s.  Bouncers at swanky Berlin nightclubs like the Roxy, Uhu, Kakadu or Ciro turned away the invariably shabbily dressed spies sent by the Nazis, ensuring that their chic clientele could continue to swing to the latest jazz and pseudo-jazz music inside.  If a spy should gain entry, the doorman simply rang a secret bell and the musicians rapidly changed the music on their stands before he reached the dance-floor.”

Self loves reading about all the cloak-and-dagger antics (artists are incorrigible!), and she loves in particular the descriptions of German bars, in one of which, the Femina, “swing bands continued to play to over a thousand dancers through the night, while a system of 225 table telephones with instructions for use in German and English enabled singles to ring up potential partners seated elsewhere in the hall.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

These are Frustrating Times

. . .  if you happen to be a Palin-lover in California (like self’s students).

For one thing, she’s made herself scarce in this-here golden state (just like Bush II  —  in eight years he’s dropped by oh, let’s see, less times than the fingers on both hands?), her one-and-only campaign appearance being in Burlingame (Dearest Mum’s fave hang-out!)

Not to worry, however, for intrepid Halloween party-goers have just the ticket for all those craving a Palin-fix.  In today’s paper, The San Francisco Chronicle weighs in on this very issue:

Every five years or so, a Halloween costume idea comes along that’s so perfect that half the population seems to simultaneously dress up as the same thing.  If you were a woman and participated in Halloween 10 years ago, chances are 50-50 that you went as Monica Lewinsky.  Other trendy Halloween costumes from the past include Luke Skywalker (1978), Tammy Faye Bakker (1987) and Austin Powers (1997).

Based on several nonscientific indicators, the widespread presence of Palins this Friday night may eclipse them all.  There are three things needed to make the perfect trendy costume, and she has them all:

  1. Her position in the zeitgeist happens to be peaking right at Halloween.
  2. She’s a controversial figure, with a hint of sexy.
  3. The costume is easy to throw together at the last minute.

As usual, the Chronicle outdoes itself, showing how articles can be spun out of such fluff elements as “nonscientific indicators” and pronouncements of what is “sexy.”  Hey, maybe it’s time to dust off that red St. John suit that Dearest Mum bought for self (a Fab Find from the Great Mall) two decades ago!  A suit self rarely wears, for she has to be in a fairly energetic mood before she can traipse around in head-to-toe red!   Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Oh Happy Day

Son called while self was teaching her Monday night African American Lit class (Tonight’s reading: ZZ Packer’s collection Drinking Coffee Elsewhere).  The message he left with hubby was, he wants us to go down and watch a play that one of his friends is appearing in, Dec. 6.

Oh happy happy joy joy!  It’s been almost a year since self and hubby were invited to approach vicinity of San Luis Obispo by sole fruit of self’s loins!  And, luckily, Dec. 6 is just before final exam week, so self will have no lesson plans to prepare!  And by then we will all know who our new President is!  And whether Measure W and Propositions 2 (ending the practice of camming farm animals into cages), 8 (banning gay marriage in California), and 11 (League of Women Voters urges NO on this one) will pass!

Today, self finally got to give Dearest Mum her Christopher Elbow chocolates.

And she finally had a lively African American Lit class (Thank you, ZZ Packer, for writing such breezy stories!)

And it finally turned cold, so self can now plant her daffodil bulbs!

Here is a quote, which self thinks is just right for this season of bright orange pumpkins and turning foliage:

Color possesses me.

I don’t have to pursue it.

It will possess me always,

I know it.  That is the

meaning of this happy

hour:  Color and I are one.

I am a painter.

—  Paul Klee

Home in Redwood City (This One’s for Kathleen)

Hubby took the two fat beagles for a walk, while self went to the Main Post Office, which is the only one in Redwood City open on Saturdays. There was a line. Also, a homeless vet in a wheelchair begging by the entrance. Also, all the computers were down so only one clerk at a time was servicing customers. Also, the lady just ahead of self kept thinking of more and more transactions she needed to do. Giving self ample time to commiserate with the other customers, one of whom said she worked for the circus (which has been occupying Redwood City Main Library parking lot for the last couple of days).

The phone coughed to life occasionally, but every time it did, self was in the middle of doing something, and the caller never left a message. Hubby kept insisting that self should either answer the phone or give Dearest Mum a call, to which self’s only response was, What for? When Dearest Mum needs something from self, she always leaves a message. So it’s either Dearest Mum who-doesn’t-need-anything-that-badly, in which case self doesn’t need to call; or it’s a solicitor.

Later, self went to the Farmers Market (since it was such a bee-yoo-ti-ful day!) and bought a 10-lb. bag of oranges (only $6, compared to $8 at the Mountain View Farmers Market); two long skinny eggplants; a lb. of brussels sprouts; a pound and a half of tomatoes; and a half pound of smoked ham.

Then, hubby and self proceeded to the Courthouse Coffeeshop, where self had very fattening cheese blintzes smothered in strawberry jam, along with two eggs (over easy) and two huge sausages.

Tonight, hubby is taking self to our first San Francisco Symphony concert of the new season:  Tonight’s artist is Joshua Bell.  Self is so excited.  She hasn’t thought about anything other than this since last night.  She happened to spill the beans to Dearest Mum during one of their random conversations, also hastily adding that she did attempt to get an extra ticket to the concert, but “they were all sold out” (Self!  You will be damned for all time!  See what will happen if Dearest Mum ever discovers just how trippingly the lies roll off your tongue!), but Dearest Mum said she could easily get a ticket for herself from one of those scalpers who stand around on the sidewalk just before a concert.  To which self protested that scalpers charged exorbitant prices.  To which Dearest Mum declared that she would be willing to pay up to $150 for a ticket.  To which self replied that she and hubby planned to leave early, unconscionably early, something like 4 p.m., because hubby is anal about traffic, and also because we might want to have dinner at some place near Davies, like “Citizen Cake,” to which Dearest Mum replied that she herself had eaten in Citizen Cake, many times (which started self thinking:  And why have you, Dearest Mum, never offered to take Dear Broke Daughter-who-is-only-a-miserable writer to one of these many forays to Citizen Cake?) and knew it well and would love to eat there, and self very miserably said that she would check in with Dearest Mum just before she and hubby left for the city.

Today, however, it looks like self has been rescued by niece G, who called Dearest Mum this morning, which caused Dearest Mum to forget completely about Joshua Bell, since now all she wants to do is rescue niece G from the arms of niece’s African American boyfriend, and has made many plans to bribe niece, which include taking her shopping at Neiman Marcus.

So self and hubby are home, feeling mighty happy about being ignored by the whole world, and the dogs are happy, too, and are rolling around in the grass of the backyard, and it is such an excellent hot day, and not even the thought of facing student-who-keeps-wanting-to-direct-self’s-attention-to-the-fact-that-a-short-story-is-like-a-grain-of-sand, which the rest of the class at xxxx community college happens to think is an “absolutely brilliant” statement (Barf!  Barf!  Barf!  Barf!) on Tuesday can faze self.  Not, at any rate, when self has two huge cheese blintzes residing at the bottom of her tummy.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

First Lines of Stories I Will Never Write (Or, We Shall See)

Her mother said forget it, forget it, forget it.

The first time I met my mother-in-law, a month before the wedding, I was struck by her mannish ways.

Just a minute, the reporter said.

She stepped in the front door of her house.

Deep breath.

Every day my husband drives his 1995 Corolla to his job in San Jose.

You were there so long, hija.

In the middle of the night, I hear them arguing again.

The Pacific Rim Review of Books, Summer 2008 Issue

It is a bee-yoo-ti-ful day, dear blog readers!

Self doesn’t know why, but she finds herself becoming extremely reticent about sharing family stories these days.  One would think self would just be bursting with juicy stories (especially asDearest Mum is currently visiting), but alas, today self is feeling quite sedate.  Perhaps she is simply overworked?  And her brain has gone into hibernation?

What self has been able to do without flagging, however, is read  —  as, witness the amount of quotes she posts daily.  Here is self, commenting on the Pacific Rim Review of Books, published in Vancouver by Trevor Carolan.  It’s an old issue, the Summer 2008 issue, but the reason self wishes to post about it is:  this is the issue which contains self’s interview with Linh Dinh.  And Linh is such a fascinating character (as she is sure all dear blog readers will agree), that self can never get enough of him, and so anyone who harbors anything more than just a passing fancy for Vietnamese literature should check out self’s interview in said issue of PRRB.

Another reason why self feels that dear blog readers should rush out and order this particular issue is that there are quite a number of wonderful reviews in it, including one by that literary prodigy, Frances Cabahug (She’s 23, so that qualifies as a “literary prodigy,” in self’s book)

Anyhoo, here is a short list of books self is interested in reading after reading their reviews in the PRRB Summer 2008 issue:

1.)   After reading Fred Young’s review (Young is identified as “a professional accountant with decades of experience in paper recycling and the packaging industry”) of Robyn Meredith’s The Elephant and the Dragon:

Robyn Meredith’s The Elephant and the Dragon

2.)   After reading Hillel Wright’s review (Wright is identified as the “author of the novel Border Town“) of A Wild Haruki Chase:  Reading Murakami Around the World, a compilation of essays from The Japan Foundation’s 2006 symposium on Haruki Murakami:

The Japan Foundation’s A Wild Haruki Chase:  Reading Murakami Around the World

3.)   After reading Richard Wirick’s review (Wirick is identified as the “co-founder and editor of the journal Transformation“) of David Samuels’ The Runner:  A True Account of the Amazing Lies and Fantastical Adventures of the Ivy League Impostor James Hogue:

Geoffrey Wolff’s 1979 memoir, Duke of Deception

David Samuels’ The Runner:  A True Account of the Amazing Lies and Fantastical Adventures of the Ivy League Impostor James Hogue

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Origin of the Word “Antisemitism”

The credit for this turn, if credit is the right word, is generally given to the obscure writer Wilhelm Marr, whose pamphlet “The Victory of Jewdom Over Germandom Viewed from a Non-confessional Standpoint,” published in 1873, was the first to insist that, as he put it in a later work:  “There must be no question here of parading religious prejudices when it is a question of race and when the difference lies in the ‘blood’.”  Borrowing from the fashionable theories of the French racist Count Joseph Arthur de Gobineau, Marr contrasted Jews not with Christians but with Germans, insisting that the two were distinct races.  The Jews, he declared, had gained the upper hand in the racial struggle, and were virtually running the country; no wonder, then, that honest German artisans and small businessmen were suffering.  Marr went on to invent the word ‘antisemitism’ and, in 1879, to found the League of Antisemites, the world’s first organization with this word in its title.  It was dedicated, as he said, to reducing the Jewish influence on German life.

(The irony of all this is that Marr’s “second wife, who was Jewish, supported him financially until her death in 1874 . . . “)

—   from Richard J. Evans’ massive (and fascinating) The Coming of the Third Reich

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