Only Five More Days!

Angel (Made in the Philippines)

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Still Gardening (In Spite of Gracie), Watched “Up in the Air”

Self has been planting. Yesterday she planted more grape hyacinth bulbs, another dozen (An earlier dozen that she planted have disappeared, dug up by indefatigable Gracie). This morning, she started planting pink Watsonia. Her entire planting schedule is off this year. Normally, she finishes all her bulb planting in November. She doesn’t know what happened, but the past few months feel crazed. Perhaps it has to do with hubby’s start-up, struggling in this economy. Or with missing son (He walked in last night, 9 pm, and self was so beside herself with joy to see him! Even though she had just seen him three weeks earlier, on Thanksgiving)

Today, son drove up to Sacramento to spend the weekend with some friends. Self and hubby saw George Clooney in “Up in the Air.” In the opening credits, she saw that the movie was based on a book by Walter Kirn. And suddenly self remembered that she had read the book, years ago! And had found it rather amusing. But the movie was strangely not amusing. Well, only in parts. For some reason, self never laughed, not once, even though all the people beside and behind self were chuckling, especially during the scenes where Clooney shows off that Clooney-esque charm by persuading people who are being laid off that he is actually offering them the opportunity to fulfill their dreams.

Vera Farmiga is in this movie, and self thinks that is the reason hubby gave it a “seven and a half on a scale of 1 to 10.” Self was rather more taken with the pert young thing (Looked her up: her name is Anna Kendrick) who plays a recent Cornell grad who mouths all the right hard words. Self wasn’t sure where she had seen this young actress before, but self loved that the girl was short and bossy. In fact, she reminded self a lot of self’s Dear Departed Sister, who graduated with an MBA from Wharton: the way she’d wobble on high-heeled pumps and pencil skirts, trundling around stacks of folders: that’s self’s Dear Departed Sister, to a T! Self loved the girl’s performance. She loved it even more than Clooney’s (who could probably act this part in his sleep, all he has to be is smooth and charming).

Vera Farmiga is hot, and becomes hotter as the movie progresses, especially in her last scene with Clooney, when she is fully clothed and delivering the coldest lines uttered by any actress of recent film memory.

The other supporting actors and actresses were pretty good, too. Self recognized one of the actresses who played Drew Barrymore’s stepsister in “Ever After,” the movie where she first laid eyes on Dougray Scott. This woman is a very droll actress.

All in all, self was not as wowed as hubby was (she thought the ending was pretty blah, as a matter of fact), but that’s OK — she wants to wait until son gets back to see “Avatar” (Hubby insists we must see it in 3-D, even though tickets are $13.50 per person) or the new Sherlock Holmes.

And now she has to decide what to cook for dinner. Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Gifts of the Season (2009 Edition)

A few days ago, self received in the mail a package from Stella Kalaw: As a Christmas present, Stella had sent self a set of postcards made up of the photographs Stella had taken of self’s humble abode, a few years ago. As self perused the photographs, she saw again: the orange tree, the one that died this year. And there, in a photograph of the backyard deck, were even a few fallen oranges. There were also pictures of her beagles, and self was so grateful, remembering that she nearly lost one of them this year.

That was the greatest Christmas present. Thank you, Stella!

Then, yesterday, the mailman delivered a box from Dear Cuz in Virginia. Now, what could that be? Self calls Dear Cuz every week without fail, and during one of her last calls, Dear Cuz had mentioned that she was preparing a batch of Food for the Gods. Now, this is a crazy-delicious Filipino version of fruitcake. Last year, self got Dear Cuz to mail over a batch. This time, self kept silent, too embarrassed to beg. But when she saw that box, and saw who it was from: OMG! Self practically tore off the brown paper wrapping. The box was filled to the brim with small individually wrapped squares of Food for the Gods, about two dozen pieces. Thank you, oh Dearest Cuz, thank you! Self had to exercise supreme self-control to put off actually eating one until just a few minutes ago. And, OMG! You would have to taste one of Dear Cuz’s Food for the Gods to know why the mere thought makes self drool!

Then, today, self went to visit a friend of Dearest Mum’s who was laid up in Sequoia Hospital. She brought with her a present for the friend to bring back to Dearest Mum: an Estee Lauder battery-powered vibrating mascara wand. Also, a copy of “The Secret” for Dearest Mum’s friend. When she got to the hospital (it took her sooo long to find a parking space! But self was determined to take her time, as that’s all she needs right now: a parking ticket!), Dearest Mum’s friend had fallen asleep. Her dear grand-daughter was standing watch, so self handed her the mascara and the book, and the grand-daughter handed self four copies of The Lost Language (precious, precious copies!) and OMG — a box of pastillas de leche.

As soon as self got home, she opened the box. Oh, what’s this? The pastillas were wrapped in different colors of shiny paper! Some were orange, some were gold, some were a deep violet. Self picked an orange one and tasted — OMG! A langka-flavored pastillas de leche! Next, self tried one of the purple ones. OMG! An ube-flavored pastillas de leche!

And, at this point, self knew that she was in Heaven.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Names, Again

So self is writing what she hopes will turn out to be — a novelette? Is there such a thing?

And she’s casting about for a name for a naughty girl.

And she just can’t think of an appropriately trashy name, so she e-mails one of her brothers with some names she’s considering. Also apologizing profusely for disturbing him with such inanity.

And he e-mails back: No one, no one in Manila has names like that. Go watch MTV.

The End

“Scandal of the Year”: Buzzsugar Says Letterman

Self most strenuously disagrees.

For one thing, self finds it so heartwarming to think of someone as geeky-looking as Letterman having sex.

While the revelations about Tiger’s multiple infidelities are just —  sad.  Sad or funny, depending on how funny you find the image of Tiger trying to escape from his wife in such a hurry that he didn’t even bother putting on his shoes before jumping into his SUV, which explains why he hit the fire hydrant but doesn’t explain why, when the first by-stander on the scene (a neighbor) happened along, Tiger was snoring (apparently from Ambien?)

Next scandal of the Year: Why Tom Wisdom’s orgy scene in “Pirate Radio” was cut from the American version, but they keep showing it and showing it in all the previews. So there he is, looking so fetching in leather pants, and saying “Busy day,” and self had to sit through the whole movie and there was not even a Read the rest of this entry »

“Fantastic Mr. Fox” : Quite Simply, Fab!

Self doesn’t know if it’s because of the use of the stop-motion technique (Think Gumby, only better!), giving the whole the somewhat Read the rest of this entry »

Story Self Is Currently Writing

Here’s the beginning of the story self is currently working on. It’s set in Georgetown.

At first he was afraid. Chesapeake, Dumbarton Oaks, their dark spaces. Rock Creek Park seemed wild. So vast Read the rest of this entry »

In Which Salon.com Asks a Bunch of Famous Writers the All-Important Question

What is the best book of the year?

Here are the answers (and the authors who gave them) that self felt worthy of note:

Stars Who Contributed (Loads) to Self’s Enjoyment in 2009

Looking back on 2009, self realizes in some amazement that —  Holy Cow!  She did get to see quite a lot of movies, plays, and new TV shows!  Early in the year, she saw “Desire Under the Elms” at the Goodman Theater and “The Tempest” at Steppenwolf, in Chicago.  In the summer, she and son and hubby made the trek to Orinda to see Cal Shakes’ wonderful production of “A Midsummer Nights Dream.”  Self is sure she is forgetting someone/something, but anyhoo, here’s the list of the actors and actresses who rocked her world (Can she include a non-actress?  Then self would like to name Sarah Gambito, who self read with at the Bayanihan Community Center.  OMG, she is amazing):

  • Matthew Amendt (the Guthrie’s production of “Henry V”)
  • Moon Bloodgood (“Terminator:  Salvation”)
  • Eliza Dushku (“Dollhouse“)
  • Brian Geraghty (“The Hurt Locker”)
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“500 Days of Summer”)
  • Carla Gugino (“Desire Under the Elms” —  Self saw it at the Goodman in Chicago)
  • Woody Harrelson (“Zombieland”)
  • Rhys Ifans (“Pirate Radio”)
  • Alice Krige (“Skin”)
  • Diane Kruger (“Inglourious Basterds”)
  • David Letterman (being himself)
  • Bill Nighy (“Pirate Radio”)
  • Leonard Nimoy (“Star Trek”)
  • Ed Norton (very bit part in “The Invention of Lying” —  but still)
  • Sophie Okonedo (“Skin”)
  • Zach Quinto (“Star Trek”)
  • Jeremy Renner (“The Hurt Locker”)
  • Sam Rockwell (“Moon”)
  • Winona Ryder (“Star Trek”)
  • Pablo Schreiber (“Desire Under the Elms”)
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman (“Pirate Radio”)
  • Christoph Waltz (“Inglourious Basterds”)
  • Tom Wisdom (“Pirate Radio”)
  • Sam Worthington (“Terminator:  Salvation”)

and, last but not least:

the entire cast of Cal Shakes’ “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” !!!

Quote of the Day: Colum McCann

The following is a quote from the AWP Writer’s Chronicle (As dear blog readers can deduce, self has yet to make it out the door. It is 3:24 p.m. and hailstones are coming down. Suffice it to say: the possibility that self will make it out the door today is increasingly remote).

Self wishes she could quote from a less well-known writer, but one must take one’s quotes where one finds them. The quote is from an interview with Colum, conducted by Andrew Scott (And — ach, ach, ach! Self has just gotten hot chocolate spray on her laptop screen! Why oh why must self’s life be such an unending vale of tragedy and woe?)

Scott (interviewer): How do you define sympathy, and how do you create “sympathetic” characters?

McCann: Really, I want for my characters to be honest. That means complication. Because nothing is simple, not even simplicity.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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