Vanity Fair’s “Depression-Era Movie Classics” Photo Shoot (August 2009)

Today self had to work in the Writing Center.  She actually had students come in, even though it is practically just the beginning of the semester.

On the way home, self considered stopping by Chocolate Mousse in San Carlos and picking up strawberry shortcake. But she desisted. Thank God.

Back home, self did a little watering, a little browsing of literary websites, a little more writing (a new piece!  Yay!).  She tried to calculate how long it would take her to reach the City if she took the BART as opposed to if she took Caltrain (for Luis Francia’s play reading at the SF Main Library’s Koret Auditorium, this Saturday).  She did a little riffling through Vanity Fair and saw that they had a kind of Hollywood section, much reduced from previous years:  The gimmick was that the actors had to pose like characters in one of seven “Depression-era” films (But, hello:  no Chris Pine or Zach Quinto, no Jeremy Renner from “The Hurt Locker” or anyone from the cast of “Inglorious Basterds” —  what’s up with that?).  That is, the films weren’t necessarily shot during the Depression, but the stories had to be set in that period.

Self earlier wrote a rather glib post about who looked good in the pictures and who didn’t, but her mood changed drastically when, around 4:30 p.m., she went back to San Carlos to satisfy her cake craving and found that Chocolate Mousse had gone out of business.  Not only that, Claire de Lune, the clothing store next to it, where self used to spend hours browsing the Sale racks, was also out of business (or, at least, had butcher paper all over the display windows and was apparently closed).

So self went home, and looked at her Vanity Fair post in a rather darker mood.  Here are the movies that were “re-cast” in the Vanity Fair photo shoot:

  • “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” (1969): a classic. The movie where self fell in love with Michael Sarrazin.  The Vanity Fair photo featured the following young actors:  Kat Dennings (of “Forty-Year-Old Virgin”), Anton Yelchin, Maya Rudolph, John Krasinski, Elizabeth Banks, and Hugh Dancy.  Hugh Dancy looked like a 12-year-old.  Self tried imagining John Krasinski in the Michael Sarrazin role.  Hmm . . .  results inconclusive.
  • “It Happened One Night” (1934):  James Marsden and Rose Byrne
  • “Paper Moon” (1973):  Josh Duhamel and Elle (younger sister of Dakota) Fanning
  • “42nd Street” (1933):  a whole line-up, the only actors self recognized were Moon Bloodgood (Yay!) and Rashida Jones
  • “Letty Lynton” (1932):  Self had never heard of the actress picked to channel Joan Crawford, but her name is Mila Kunis.
  • “My Man Godfrey” (1936):  Channing “Step Up” Tatum, dressed as a butler and holding a tray of hors d’ouerves, and Amanda “Mamma Mia” Seyfried channeling Carole Lombard (and doing it really well)
  • “The Grapes of Wrath” (1940):  re-cast with some of the actors in Ang Lee’s “Taking Woodstock,” but the only actors self recognized were Eugene Levy, Emile Hirsch (who, self is convinced, is good in just about everything), and Demetri Martin.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Hotel Amerika TransGenre Issue

So, it’s past midnight. Almost 1 a.m., in fact. And as usual self finds herself still awake and staring up at the ceiling (Please God, don’t let her go the Michael Jackson or Heath Ledger route — you saw where their insomnia got them? Self, don’t be silly! Even if you wanted to, you wouldn’t be able to afford all those prescription drugs!)

She decides to browse through a Poets & Writers. Lo and behold, almost in the exact middle of the magazine is an ad for Hotel Amerika’s TransGenre Issue, Spring 2009.

Self has a piece appearing in this issue. It is called Read the rest of this entry »

Self Hearts Quentin Tarantino

Self is so glad that she saw the comment from Penny early in the day because then she and hubby picked it up and got to catch the first show of “Inglourious Basterds.”

Self had just finished reading A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and The Missing Agents of WW II, and was having difficulty getting the horrific scenes out of her head (which doesn’t mean she doesn’t recommend the book — she does, but only to readers with a strong stomach!), so she wasn’t sure she was up to seeing a World War II movie. Not yet, anyway.

Anyhoo, self somewhat groggily awoke (at 9:00 a.m.! But she’d only gone to bed at 2:30 a.m. — ) to feed li’l crits. Then she checked her blog, saw Penny’s comment, checked the first show of IB, saw it was at 10:30, and then everything happened very quickly: Before you could say “lickety-split,” hubby and self presented at the surprisingly empty theater (maybe 15 other people in the audience), watched (again) previews for “Avatar,” and “9” and a new preview for an Oh-my-god-fabulous-looking movie, “The Wolfman” (starring Benicio del Toro), and then the movie began, and self found herself enjoying the “Spaghetti-western” elements, particularly the music, and yes, she has to agree with all the reviewers who said Christoph Waltz is amazing, as are all the German-speaking actors (including Diane Kruger! Who gave a very affecting performance!) and — this is something self never thought she would end up doing in a movie about Nazis, especially considering she was so depressed after reading the book about Vera Atkins: she laughed. And laughed. And laughed. Yes, especially at the end.

Go see it, dear blog readers. Four stars. Yay for Quentin Tarantino! And to Penny, much thanks for the tip!

“Ginseng” Redux: The President’s Special Research Project

The building was old. How old exactly, no one was certain. The records of the construction were lost in the great fire that struck Manila in 1915. Judging from the style of its architecture and its ancient, weather-beaten look, however, it had been built at the turn of the century.

This was the building that housed the National Archives. The shelves were full of dusty, yellowing documents from Spanish times, newspapers with courageous names like La Independencia and La Solidaridad, and books on history and geography compiled by the Spanish friars. No one had looked at the books for a very long time. They were piled together in haphazard fashion on the shelves. The pages were coming loose from the bindings. The newspapers were slowly crumbling to pieces. Perhaps the past was not very important, or perhaps no one wanted to remember that before the New Society of the dictator Roberto Suarez Gomez, there had been such a thing as an intellectual life in the country. At any rate, the building’s long, narrow corridors were empty. Nothing disturbed the shafts of sunlight slanting quietly through the high windows.

    — From self’s first book, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila (Calyx Books, Corvallis, Oregon). Also published in the Philippines by the Ateneo University Office of Research & Publications

NOTE: Self’s great-grandfather, his brother, and Antonio Luna were among the earliest editorial staff of the real La Solidaridad. The first name of the paper was “La Patria,” but the new American occupiers found it too incendiary a title. So they changed the name to La Independencia and published it in Malabon, which at the time (1898) was beyond the Americans’ jurisdiction. The maiden issue ran on Sept. 3, 1898.

Currently Showing (in the Vicinity)

Just for fun, self will avoid downtown RWC Century 20, and list only those movies showing in indie moviehouses.

Adam: with Hugh Dancy, who plays someone with either Asperger’s Syndrome or Tourette’s, sometimes self gets the two mixed up because of Motherless Brooklyn (Everyone, write a story about Tourette’s, quick!!! If only self had access to Read the rest of this entry »

Things Self Wants To Do When She Goes to Manila in December

Number One:

See Anita, of course.  Then scoot away (Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.)

Number Two:

Eat in Flavors of China on Makati Avenue (Mother-in-law took her here in January).  There is nothing special about this place but self wants to eat there again. In its unpretentiousness lies its charm.

Number Three:

See Jenny (You know who you are, Jenny!)

Number Four:

See Lissa.  And Lissa’s adorable daughters and grandson.  See Ateneo.

Number Five:

Eat halo-halo in Milky Way (the one on Paseo de Roxas).  Read the rest of this entry »

Your Favorite Filipino Food

Apologies, dear blog readers, but self decided she needed to take an informal survey based on the question:

What is Your Favorite Filipino Food?

The memories of Dear Departed Ateneo prof Doreen Fernandez are flooding self’s brain today, triggered by an e-mail she got from Doreen’s niece, telling her about the Doreen Gamboa Fernandez Food Writing Contest!

So, self decided that in order to get some really good ideas, she needed to take a survey. She called up one aunt after another. (The theme of the contest is “biskwit,” but so what, self just wanted an excuse to bother people today!) The only aunt to pick up was the one in Daly City. She rattled off:


“Chicken, or pork?” self inquired.

“Chicken and pork,” aunt responded.

“Very Read the rest of this entry »

Today, Last Friday in August 2009

Today, dear blog readers, self is stuck at home. Her clunker is in the shop. Hubby kept nagging and nagging self to have it looked at, so she thought it only fair to let him know the estimate: $880.94

WHAAAAT, exclaimed the Dear Man.

(Funny, self is pretty sure she’s gonna have to swallow all of it — from her skimpy savings. So of what use is all that shock and awe? Under the circumstances, Read the rest of this entry »

Kanlaon Currently Loves

  • io9 for her (sci-fi) movie fixes
  • San Carlos Farmers Market for her fresh food fixes
  • Chowhound, always and forever
  • Costco, because even if she goes in hungry, she always leaves full.  Would you believe self if she told you that today, around noon, there was a guy playing Bach on one of their piano displays? (Yes, self made it there, Penny.  Car leaked something awful.  Self is bringing it to be fixed tomorrow, bright and early —  finally! Where oh where were those Martha Stewart chicken slab pies ???)
  • “Man in the Mirror” (Michael, oh Michael)
  • ZYZZYVA‘s Howard Junker.  Why?  Just because.  Because he makes her laugh —  ?  Is that a good enough reason?  (Have you Read the rest of this entry »

Stephen King’s Story in Esquire’s “Stories of Our Time” (July 2009) Issue

. . .  which self bought for her reading pleasure on the way home from New York at end of June.

She did not pick this magazine out of the magazine rack simply because she was so smart, but because she noticed a fellow traveler holding a copy and, after perusing the T of contents (Tyler Cabot’s “Stories My Father Told Me,” Charles P. Pierce’s “What If Obama’s Out of His Mind?” among others), decided that it looked like pretty good reading.

So, the featured story is by Stephen King.  And it is about a hapless writer (Stories about writers are the best kind of stories!) who has wrung eighty pages “out of his old and limping Dell laptop.” And he thinks he might screw up his courage and show the pages to an agent.  Which he does.  And the agent tells him, why Read the rest of this entry »

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