Luisa Igloria’s JUAN LUNA’S REVOLVER

Her words are searing.

Self would like to say, “a seminal work.”

Read, ponder, know.

Genius has no country, genius bursts forth everywhere,
is like light and air — the patrimony of it all, cosmopolitan as space,
as life, as God.

— Jose Rizal, on Juan Luna

Juan Luna’s Revolver
(an excerpt)

could well be the subtitle of an opera
performed to a mostly well-heeled crowd

in Manila’s national museum.

—   among the audience, the great grandniece
of the famous painter’s murdered wife.

The latter’s name was Paz (meaning peace,

that dream of living without fear of arousing
violence when confronted by the strange or

uncanny, or that which seems to bear

little resemblance to ourselves).  Looking
at pictures of compatriots

abroad in the nineteenth century, why

should we think everything was profiteroles,
white gloves, silk ties, salon conversation,

bellas artes?  Bumping into the Filipino,

a woman on the streets of Madrid regards
his Malay features and exclaims, But how well

you speak Spanish (lo posea tanto como yo)!

It’s said the painter’s mestiza wife
and mother-in-law paid for more than half

the rent of his studio and apartments.

Yet one September in Paris, in 1892,
he barged into the bedroom

and shot them both:  his wife, on suspicion of

an amorous liaison with a Frenchman
(possibly taller, possibly better-endowed,

though he himself was said to have wondered

how it could be, given that Paz was not

especially attractive); his mother-

in-law, her brains marbling the mantel,

because she valiantly tried to stop him.
All accounts thereafter become the Petri

dish for gossip:  his trial in a French court,

his conviction of nothing more

than a crime of passion.  His return to

the motherland after seventeen years;

And the rest you must read, dear blog readers.  You must simply, simply read.  You can order direct from the publisher,  here.

Day After Thanksgiving 2008

Self’s been on her computer since 6:30 a.m. Today, she googled the author of one of her gardening books, landed on his website and learned that he is offering a 40-acre property in Tehachapi for sale (He is retiring and moving to the Seattle area from southern California). Self followed his links around to Larner Seeds, where she ended up ordering seed packets of California Asters, Douglas Iris, Coast Lotus, and Bee Plants. She’s never grown anything from seed before, so this is going to be an experiment.

Son didn’t bring his car up, which told self he didn’t plan to do much socializing. He has papers to write, exams to prepare for. Yesterday, he was home the whole day. He and his dad walked the dogs, and then self cooked the turkey breast roast she’d bought from Costco some weeks ago (basted in honey and lemon juice and crushed pineapple, results: outstanding!). After it got dark, hubby started a fire, while self started doing son’s laundry (In fairness, a much smaller pile than she’s used to seeing from previous visits).

There was a James Bond marathon on TV: all the Pierce Brosnan James Bond movies were showing, one after the other. Self got to see Judi Dench’s first appearance as “M.” She saw the best Bond girl of the Brosnan era, Sophie Marceau (What ever happened to her?) She also saw Michelle Yeoh, whippet-thin and kick-ass. The one Bond girl that self absolutely cannot abide, whose acting is so bad that every time self catches a glimpse of it, she wants to barf, is Halle Berry.

By night-time, son and hubby had had enough of Brosnan and decided to order “Casino Royale,” the 2006 re-make, from pay-per-view. Then he and son got to watch Daniel Craig’s excellent first outing in the Bond role, while self fell asleep, right out there on the couch in the living room (Why is self so amazingly tired these days? Yesterday was a vacation from her usual Thursday teaching schedule, but she did not feel particularly rested) Self woke up just in time to see the Vesper Lynd death scene. Self thinks Eva Green was a great Bond girl, almost right up there with Kim Basinger, Sophie Marceau, and Michelle Yeoh.

Son is hitching a ride back to San Luis Obispo on Sunday, with old Sacred Heart Prep classmate Finnesey. Finnesey started college on the East Coast, at his Dad’s alma mater. He didn’t like it and began wending his way back West, trying out a college in New Orleans before ending up in Cal Poly. Finnesey runs cross-country and plays the guitar. Self hasn’t laid eyes on him since son’s senior year in high school, and when he walked in with son on Tuesday night she was surprised to see that he now has a beard and long, shoulder-length hair and a leather bracelet; he would not look out of place in a movie set in the 60s.

Another of son’s high school friends, a boy who loved acting and who has gone with us twice to see Cal Shakes performances in the Bruins amphitheatre in Orinda, fell in love with a girl who dumped him, and then went crazy and stalked her and actually confronted her when he caught her with a new boyfriend and is now facing an eight-month jail sentence.

Yet another of son’s high school friends, Alex, is teaching in Addis Ababa.

Another high school friend, Phil, graduated in engineering from UC Irvine and is working at what sounds like a very boring job in Long Beach.

Son still doesn’t know what he will do after he graduates, next June. He talks of bringing some friends to Asia. They want to stay in brother’s fabulous Hong Kong apartment, but go to Bangkok and Australia as well. Self doesn’t know if she can go back home with him, and hubby is scheduled to go, but in October, for his mother’s 80th birthday. Self sincerely hopes Dearest Mum will not give son too much grief. In the meantime, self has this trip to Manila in January, and then two more trips: both to Chicago. And then who knows what 2009 will bring? Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Looking Back: A List

Because it is Thanksgiving, because food is very much on self’s mind, and because self is feeling *quite* nostalgic, she decides to draw up a list of Filipino food she taught herself to cook after coming to California, 1979:

NOTE: Food descriptions are quotes from Reynaldo Alejandro’s The Philippine Cookbook

Arroz a la Cubana
Bistek (Steak, Philippine-Style)
Chicken Adobo
Pancit Molo (Philippine Wonton Soup)
Picadillo (Ground Beef Soup)
Sinigang
Togue Salad (Bean Sprout Salad)
Tortilla (Ground Beef Omelet)
Pesang Manok (Boiled Chicken with Vegetables)
Humba
Apritadang Baboy (Pork Stew)
Menudo (Diced Pork with Potatoes and Chick Peas)
Almondigas (Pork with Vermicelli)

Before they got married, hubby was a much better cook than self. Now, he rarely cooks, but when he does, whatever he makes is delicious.

Looking at the above list, self sees that it’s been years — perhaps even decades — since she cooked some of these dishes. Almondigas, for example. The one self has cooked most recently is Picadillo, which she always associates with her aunt, Dearest Mum’s younger sister, because it was the first dish self ever actually witnessed being made. In Manila, self almost never stepped into the kitchen. The few occasions when she did, it was only to be served breakfast or merienda at the kitchen table. In light of which, self thinks it is no mean feat that she has managed to turn herself into a pretty decent cook. Especially when she compares herself to aunt in Daly City who, after 25 years in America, has learned to cook nothing, not one single thing. Her family orders take-out from various Chinese, Filipino, or Mexican restaurants in Daly City — almost every day.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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