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.

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