Staring Into the Maw

Once again self is showing up at a splendiferous family gathering — solo. Son declined to drive north for uncle and aunt’s 50th wedding anniversary, tonight, and a few hours ago hubby declared he was really too fatigued to make it, and so that leaves self having to stiff-upper-lip it all the way. This morning Dearest Mum called bright and early to ask self to bring a set of evening bags for her aunts and cousins (as if self has a plethora of those lying around), and self was so overwhelmed with the idea that she might be expected to wear an evening gown that she copped out and is now Read the rest of this entry »

The Day After Tomorrow

Self will be in New York. Read the rest of this entry »

Having Just Seen “Easy Virtue”

There were two reasons self wanted to see this movie:  1.  Jessica Biel was in it, and self was exceedingly curious to see how she would comport herself in a period drama (JB was good in “The Illusionist,” one of self’s favorite movies of 2006);  2.  In the May issue of Marie Claire, Caryn James called it a “stylish” comedy.

Alas, the comedic parts were not actually that comedic (some scenes were outright ridiculous, dear blog readers.  In one scene JB sits on a chihuahua —  of course, by accident!  —  and it unexpectedly expires, presumably because JB’s butt is so big.  If that sounds funny, self assures dear blog readers that, as presented in the movie, it was decidedly not).  The only real comedienne in the entire movie was Kristin Scott-Thomas (Good God, give this woman an Academy Award already!)

Spoiler alert!

Dis-connected Father-In-Law played by Colin Firth gets to run off with Jessica Biel (Talk about a male fantasy).  As Colin smokes and looks sour for 3/4 of the movie, we are given to understand that he is very very unhappy.  If self were his wife she’d have gotten the screaming meemies and cleared out ages ago.  But, self forgot:  Colin and his wife are members of the British upper class!  Therefore even when unhappy they must keep up appearances!  Must demonstrate famous British stiff upper lip and all that!

JB’s husband is played by a rather fetching young man named Ben Barnes.  Who is this guy? Self can’t recall ever having seem him before.  Even though there are practically no sex scenes between him and JB, in the two scenes where he appeared without a shirt, he looked good.  Mind you, he was thin.  But self hates guys with the popping-pectoral look of the Governator.  Thin is waaay better!

The setting was an English manor.  An old gardener is frequently shown trundling wheelbarrows across the grounds.  The house seemed oppressively rank.  Not, perhaps, as bad as Mr. Rochester’s place, but there was a lot of fog, the rooms had very high ceilings, and there didn’t seem to be enough servants to keep the place running.

This is perhaps self’s first “no-special-effects” movie of the summer.  Self is happy to report that Colin Firth is still handsome.  Self isn’t sure whether JB looks good with blonde hair.  In her final appearance, JB was wearing a white sheath so clinging she could practically have been naked.  Self mentions this last just in case there are any JB fans reading this blog.

Anyhoo, the afternoon was not a total wash, for right across the street from the Aquarius, where “Easy Virtue” was showing, is self’s favorite ice cream place, Clasico Gelato!  And self got to ingest glorious lychee and honey lavender gelato, for the first time this summer!

Moreover, self got to the theatre in time for the previews, and one of these was for an interesting documentary called “Food, Inc.”, which featured interviews with muckraking journalist Eric Schlosser (who wrote Reefer Madness) and author Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma).  Not only that, it received an endorsement from no less a personage than Alice Waters!  Unfortunately, self also had to sit through previews for Woody Allen’s latest May-December romantic comedy, “Whatever Works,” wherein Larry David gets to play Woody and gorgeous Evan Rachel Wood gets to play Soon-yi (instead of Scarlett Johansson, who must have been busy).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Reading for the Day: William Langewiesche on Birds and Aircraft

When Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River a few months ago, he became an instant folk hero.  The following is from an article about Sullenberger in the June 2009 issue of Vanity Fair:

From 1990 through 2007 in the United States alone, civil aircraft struck birds on several hundred thousand occasions, often killing multiples at a time.  The toll leveled around 2002, apparently because of the decline in air traffice following the September 11 attacks, but this proved to be a temporary retrieve.  By 2007 the slaughter had soared to record levels, and with it had come a tendency to blame the victims and persecute them on the ground.  There are some six billion birds in the United States, every one of them an easy target.  Persecuting them on the ground is known as “mitigation.”

What have we wrought?  The answer, again from Langewiesche:

State wildlife agencies “captured breeding pairs of an endangered but super-size subspecies known as the giant Canada goose, and by clipping their wings forced them to settle permanently into authorized nesting grounds along the Eastern Seabord and elsewhere in the United States.  The offspring of these clipped-wing geese imprinted to the new locations, and, having lost the collective memory of migration, became full-time resident populations.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Summer Reading: “Faith, Love, Time, and Dr. Lazaro”

Last night, while The Man and self were having dinner in front of the TV, we heard on the news that a second Bay Area resident has died from the A(H1N1) virus, this one a middle-aged man who had no prior history of susceptibility.  And yet, here we are, still going about, still watching movies, still driving here and there, and the news makes no difference.

Only, it is difficult to sleep.

Dearest Mum is wherever she is, self doesn’t bother to call anymore.

On self’s lap is a big, heavy book, with the story “Faith, Love, Time and Dr. Lazaro.”  The author is Greg C. Brillantes.  He, like self, like self’s father, like her three brothers and husband, was an Atenista.

The story is about a doctor in some un-named provincial town (There is mention of a San Miguel Bridge —  where would that be?).  The doctor has to make a night call, so his teen-aged son offers to drive.  And while they are driving, the doctor thinks of “light-years, black space, infinite distances; in the unmeasured universe, man’s life flared briefly and was gone, traceless in the void.”

Self thinks these are extremely heavy thoughts.

And no wonder.  A few paragraphs on, an image comes to the doctor’s mind:  “slashed wrists, part of the future dead in a boarding house room,” the doctor’s other son.

Brillantes writes:  “Sorrow lay in ambush among the years.”

What. a. beautiful. sentence.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Most Inspiring Memory of the Weekend

Aside from what was on son’s mortarboard:

Sign that son put on his mortarboard with blue tape, the night before the Cal Poly Commencement

Sign that son put on his mortarboard with blue tape, the night before the Cal Poly Commencement

Aside from this message on Kramer’s T-shirt:

Kramer's T-shirt (He runs cross-country at Harvey Mudd)

Kramer's T-shirt (He runs cross-country at Harvey Mudd)

The most inspiring memory was something self doesn’t have a picture of.  When the graduating seniors were headed to their respective departments, after the main ceremony in Spanos Stadium, self saw a young man walking quickly along the sidewalk.  He was tousle-haired and tan, and he was wearing shorts.  He had a prosthetic arm and two prosthetic legs.  The legs connected mid-thigh.  The arm connected above the elbow.  Self gaped.  She looked at the young man’s face.  He was smiling to himself.  He walked quickly along, and no one so much as turned their heads.  Self tugged urgently at hubby’s arm:  “Look!” she said.  “Look!  See him?  The one in the grey t-shirt?”  Hubby looked.  But the young man was walking so fast that he was almost out of sight.

Self will never forget it, dear blog readers.  Never.

Reading for the Day: Alex G. Paman on Philippine Literature of the Fantastic

Self still bleary-eyed from the trip to San Luis Obispo!  But she is at least upright and ambulatory (that is, when not reading a newspaper or typing on zee laptop)

Here, dear blog readers, is an extremely interesting article written by Alex G. Paman for the May 2009 issue of Filipinas Magazine.

Fantasy and horror movies have always been staples in Filipino popular cinema.  A quick glance through the DVD rental section of any Fil-Am grocery reveals a wide variety of the most current ghost stories, martial-arts superheroes and native fables fresh off their initial broadcast in the Philippines.  These uniquely Pinoy films, however, are often low budget and quickly made, imitations of current trends that lean more toward showcasing attractive leading stars than producing quality native fiction.

But away from the American superhero parodies, recycled fairy tales and derivative Japanese horror imitations, there is a growing literary movement in the Philippines that seeks to dispel the camp of pop Pinoy sci-fi.  Composed of award-winning journalists, writers, artists, and editors, these masters of science fiction, fantasy, and horror are now endeavoring to make a statement within mainstream literature, taking their place among the world’s top storytelling traditions to express the Filipino imagination.

“Fantasy and horror are deeply rooted in our oral traditions,” says award-winning author Dean Alfar who, along with his wife Nikki, co-edit and publish the annual Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology.  “We are storytellers and listeners.  It’s in our blood.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Most Fan-TA-bulous Quote of the Day

Just back from heavenly San Luis Obispo, picked up dogs from Peninsula Pet Resort, (where they got treated to the likes of “home-made chicken-flavored frozen yogurt treats”), and discovered that the plants were still alive.

Also, there was a huge box from UPS in full view of the street, and no one had apparently disturbed it.

Also, there was this message in self’s “In” box, from the editors at White Whale Review:

We are very pleased to report, at long last, the second installment of our fair journal, featuring the likes of, well, you. For that reason, and for many others besides, we’re sure you’ll agree when we say things like “quality” and “two thumbs up” and, knowing us, probably something off-color but nautically appropriate.

So, check it out, dear blog readers. Pretty please. The setting is Dumaguete.

On Her 2nd Hour at Starbucks, Downtown SLO

Saw “Terminator: Salvation” again. Self’s brain has died. Self would dearly love to go on about the movie’s director, McG, but self is afraid that son’s feelings will be hurt if he reads this post. Son’s friend Kramer, who is a very intelligent person, liked the movie “except for the end.” Self would like to say she discovered some further redeeming value in this product, the second time around, but — (Self! Haven’t you said you would not rip into this movie? OK, enough!)

The only other people in the audience were two bearded youths, probably the only geeks self has seen so far this trip, and three blonde girls in the row directly behind who were constantly erupting in giggles. At least, Moon Bloodgood is at hand and she is still fun to watch for she has that walk. There are chase scenes, which are diverting. And there is still Sam Worthington (self understands he is James Cameron’s leading man in “Avatar”). But, self just wants to get this one off her chest: Any action movie that features a cute kid is sure to be bad. That’s why “Aliens” was bad. If “Avatar,” James Cameron’s new movie, has a cute kid in it, self will refuse to watch it. Self feels that if one is going to use a kid in an action movie, better make it an ugly kid, like the one in “Road Warrior.” (Who calls a kid “Star”??? Oh, she forgot: this was set in LA. Even in post-Apocalytpic LA, names must have singular meanings)

Son says he really wants to see “Transformers 2.” Self thinks that Megan Fox is a fox (and they are always showing the same scene of her in the preview: the one where she sits astride a motorcycle). In real life, a woman like this would never look twice at Shia. Where is self going with this? Again, self’s brain has died. Luckily, she decided to tote along her laptop and that is why she is now seated at a Starbucks directly across from the Barnes & Noble in downtown SLO. Hubby and son are once again engaged in browsing books. Self is here checking her on-line class on her laptop. It’s been two hours: hubby and son must be reading entire books. Hubby keeps saying how happy he is not to be in the office, so even though self thinks she could never ever spend that much time in a Barnes & Noble, she tells herself: Bite ‘cher tongue, woman!

Most of the guys here look like Zac Efron, and most of the girls are blonde and tanned and look like Hayden Panetierre. Outfit of choice: tube tops and metallic sandals. Toe-nail color of choice: bright pink or sky-blue. Hubby has remarked several times today that son is very lucky to have gone to a college where there are so many good-looking women. (Hubby attended Stanford in the mid-1980s. Perhaps the campus was a different place then. That is, there were probably a lot less women in Engineering. No wonder hubby feels deprived!)

Weather is slightly cooler than yesterday. Self today imbibed a sinful cottage cream cheesecake topped with fresh boysenberries at a restaurant on Avila Beach. Then, had a peanut butter/chocolate chip cookie at a place called Cowboy Cookies in downtown SLO. She’s trying to keep the eating down but, boy, it is hard.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

The Day After Commencement 2009 (A Very Rambling Post)

Self fairly groggy and bleary-eyed this morning — this despite having had six and a half hours sleep last night: a record, the most hours self has ever slept in a hotel room.

What can self say about being here? The weather in San Luis Obispo is always beautiful. The streets of the town are so quaint that they make self want to cry. The coconut and pineapple bars from the Old Edna Deli are the best self has ever tasted, the spinach-stuffed ravioli self had yesterday at Café Roma was ravishing, and The Holiday Inn Express in Atascadero is fine beyond belief.

Let’s see, what happened yesterday? After dinner with son and Kramer (who had driven down for the weekend and stayed until the last possible moment, even though he has a job in Sunnyvale that requires him to be awake and work-ready at 8 a.m. today), we all went downtown, to the Barnes & Noble. This particular B & N is amazing: there is an escalator to the second floor (self suddenly remembers that the B & N on the upper East Side has similar vastness — but it just doesn’t have the same vibe) where there is a coffee shop that actually sells good coffee. There are students everywhere. They do not carry either The New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, but at least they have The Los Angeles Times. Son browsed the GRE books, hubby browsed the military history books, and self sat on a chair in the back, reading the papers. Outside, in the movie theatre next door, “Terminator: Salvation” (which son wants to see today, self didn’t even dare bring up “Star Trek”!!!) and “Land of the Lost” were showing. Self had told son and Kramer at dinner (Tahoe Joe’s) that “Land of the Lost” was an incredibly good movie, and they both looked at her with poker faces. At that dinner, self could only manage an appetizer of deep-fried artichoke hearts. But the boys, in spite of having had very hearty meal at Café Roma for lunch, went straight for the Joe’s Ribeye Steaks and plowed manfully through.

Now, self realizes she is beginning to ramble. She was writing about the Barnes & Noble, and now she’s moved backwards to Tahoe Joe. Before she risks further alienating dear blog readers, self will bid them adieu. Only until tonight, however, when self will hopefully be able to amuse with tales of fresh adventures. Self will close with a picture of a most fab dessert, son’s chocolate something at Café Roma:

Son's chocolate dessert from Café Roma

Son's chocolate dessert from Café Roma

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