A Most Edifying Conversation with Dearest Mum

It is Friday afternoon. Self has been writing all day, and her neck aches something awful. So, she had this brainstorm: she’d call her Cebuana auntie in Las Vegas. Tinkle, tinkle. Message says auntie’s mailbox is full. Oh, too bad! Self loves chatting with this auntie! She’s the one who keeps telling self to use more make-up! Then, self tries Manila, and Dearest Mum is of course not home. But for some reason, as self is Read the rest of this entry »

In the Course of an Afternoon’s Research: Jueteng in the Philippines

Self once wrote a story in which she mentioned jueteng, just in passing.  She only had an imperfect understanding of how the system worked.  What incredible arrogance.  Now, since she has time, she’s suddenly hungry for facts.  So, going to her huge, overflowing filing cabinet in the garage (!!@@##), she dredges up a very Read the rest of this entry »

Rainy April Wednesday: Perusing RUELLE ELECTRIQUE

Who cares about the unseasonably heavy rain?

Who cares about Florida Governor Charlie Crist deciding to run as an Independent?

Who cares about Tiger and Jesse James? (Though self finds herself caring very much about Kim Kardashian and the revelations that she was a domestic abuse victim).

And why oh why, self, did you send that follow-up e-mail to McSweeney’s?  Even though you read on their website that they only have two editors to plow through thousands of submissions a month?  Where is your writer-ly patience, your customary savoir-faire?

Self has just returned from her usual Wednesday stint at The Writing Center. In the space of two hours, she must have looked at eight papers, on subjects ranging from philosophy to genetics (Probably why her Read the rest of this entry »

Essence of Shame III

Self heard a bit of news last week, but such was the state of her brain that she couldn’t really react until today. And finally today, after weeks and weeks of interesting conversation with Nena the maid, she finally got hold of Dearest Mum herself (live). And then self asked her who she thinks will win the Philippine presidential elections, coming up May 10, and Dearest Mum said she hopes Noynoy (son of Immortal Cory), but it doesn’t look like things are going his way.


Well, Noynoy may not be the sharpest tool in the deck, but we really need an honest politician to Read the rest of this entry »

Last Weekend of April 2010

When self started to reflect on the weekend,  she was about to write that she hadn’t done much except read (Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children)

Gracie asleep next to couch

Her clematis were in rioutous bloom:

clematis henryii in backyard

Then Read the rest of this entry »

Four Stars for “The Secret in Their Eyes”

Four-and-a-half hours sleep!

Self fell asleep with the TV on: she was watching an extremely heartwarming program about a monk who had terrible insomnia. His name was Saint Self-Cannot-Remember, and he spent his days showing visitors around a famous church, and since the only time he had left for prayer was at night, he simply could not spare any moment for sleep. Anyhoo, self thought it was so sweet that the saint’s fellow monks were all worried sick over his insomnia, and kept reminding him that he needed to be fresh for his onerous duties dealing with visitors to the church. In the wee hours of the morning, hubby got up and turned off the TV, and then self woke up.

But, even in sleep-deprived state, self could not refuse an invitation to see a movie! And hubby as usual chose the movie, and it turned out he was very desirous of seeing “The Secret in Their Eyes,” showing in Aquarius. (The movie apparently won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Movie, or so hubby informed self — Since when did Read the rest of this entry »

Paean to Claire Messud

So, a few days ago, self utterly gave up on Absurdistan. Funny thing is, while the novel was set in Russia and New York, she loved it. Once it moved to an imaginary country, self lost all interest.

With great trepidation, she began the next novel on her list, Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children You should read the awful things people are saying about this novel on Amazon.com, dear blog readers! Totally the worst reviews self has read of any book in all the years she’s been reading Amazon reviews.

Granted, Messud’s prose is not without its challenges. Long sentences, glittery and hard-edged. And self long ago gave up trying to keep track of all the characters (Long ago meaning: 30 pages back) But now self is on p. 59 and she’s slowly becoming seduced by this novel, finds herself lingering over (practically) every page.

Amazon.com readers be damned. When self is done with Messud, she’ll write her a brilliant review on Amazon.com. She’d do it now, but it might seem a little brazen of her to do that before she’s actually finished the book.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Niece G

There ensued following conversation as self was driving niece to her apartment off Mission, after the USF panel this evening:

“Tita! You are my favorite writer. You and James Baldwin.”

Self almost lost it, right then and there.

Self also remembers a time, shortly after demise of Dear Departed Sister, when self had to go to New York, probably to give a reading. She was teaching full-time, so she could only stay two nights, and she spent all of that time with friends and hardly saw her niece and nephews, even though she was staying with them. When she returned, her second night, she found a card on her bed, made by niece G. It said: “I love you, Tita!”

That card nearly broke her heart.

And tonight self discovers that, for her senior project, niece chose to do a poetry collection. And she is in love with the “indigenous” (whatever that means), and wants to get an alibata tattoo, alibata being the ancient Filipino script.

“No!” self wants to tell her. “No, don’t do it!”

Niece also tells her that for her final class with Cherie Moraga, she read aloud one of her poems, and she chose the one about the time self took niece and son (They were both seven) to Pearl Farm in Davao. Now, that trip was something. Self remembers that all three of them had a gorgeous time, going down a giant slide that went straight into the ocean; renting a speedboat that took them to all the surrounding beaches, just the three of them; having mango for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; all three of them getting browner and browner with each passing day. They had their own little house and would ride a jeep to and from the main part of the resort. And, each time, they passed a bridge over a pool which contained an enormous black turtle, its face so wrinkled and old.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Giving Up on Shteyngart — Again

Self has reached p. 136 of Absurdistan. Every time she thinks of putting the book aside, she turns to Amazon and finds a really brilliant and eloquent review singing the book’s praises (Now, why can’t self have readers like that, who post brilliant reviews about her books on Amazon.com? Instead, she has this stalker gal who gives her lousy reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble — thank God, stalker gal does not yet seem to have discovered Powell’s)

Well, now self is on p. 136 and she does not know where the hell she is. The only thing she knows for sure is that the novel is no longer in Russia. The hero has boarded a plane and is — somewhere. About the only thing that’s making her hesitate to return the book to the library are the absolutely horrific Amazon reviews of the next book on her list, Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children. Someone on Amazon thought of a clever title for his/her review: “The Emperor Has No Clothes!”

Self took a peek at the first few pages of the Messud book and determines it opens in Australia. And, to self’s knowledge she has never read a bad book that is set in Australia. She can’t explain why this is so, it just is.

Self figures there are roughly two kinds of writers in the world: the ones who get great reviews, no matter what they write; and the ones who get to be the Rodney Dangerfields of the literary world. The ones who get absolutely no respect, no matter how well they write. And the older self gets —

Self! Stoooop! Think Timothy Olyphant! Think Young Spock!

Happy thoughts, self! Only happy thoughts!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Brain Cloud, 3rd Wednesday of April 2010: Katrina Halili, Our Lady of Manaoag, “Justified” Ep. 6, and Season Finale of “Damages”

Let’s see, what has self done so far today?

She made the trek to Daly City to see her fave hairdresser, Erly.  Erly was supposed to be in San Mateo, communing with other devotees for today’s festivities at St. Matthew’s for Our Lady of Manaoag, but she sent her Filipino staff on ahead and stayed behind just so she could do self’s hair!  OMG!  Self certainly owes Erly a big one!  To learn more about the fabulous Lady of Manaoag, click here.

In addition, self noticed that Erly appears to be branching out:  that is, there were new display stands by the reception desk, containing Filipino magazines and DVDs.  Self enjoyed perusing the magazines, and decided to purchase one:  Maxim Philippines, with Katrina Halili on the cover.  Only $2.50!  Perhaps because it was from September 2008.  See, Erly goes home only every other year and scoops up magazines which she then sells!  Talk about resourcefulness!  Self is sure hubby will enjoy looking at Maxim Philippines and Ms. Halili, when he arrives home this evening.

Then Erly pointed at the cover of another magazine, which had a picture of a man, somewhat chinito looking.  “And there’s Katrina’s boyfriend,” she said.

“What?  That’s the doctor?”  Self just couldn’t believe it.  He looked about 13.  But from all the stories, she knows he’s got to be at least in his 30s.

Anyhoo, the weather today is just atrocious.  Self doesn’t know if this is global warming or what.  But it is blustery and rainy and cooold!

Well, self again did not get much sleep last night.  She of course had to watch “Justified.”  Last night’s episode, # 6, offered plentiful views of Timothy Olyphant’s bare torso, as he is disturbed after a night of romping with Ava by his boss, played by Nick Searcey (Searcey is a very droll, understated actor.  Self thinks he is just great).  Then she watched the re-play of the same episode at 11.  Then, somehow, she found herself watching the season finale of “Damages” and it was brutal.  A man in a blue Oxford shirt and nice black leather shoes was tortured with a pen knife.  Then a lawyer came to his aid by shooting the man with the pen knife.  Then the man with the pen knife, who’d been shot but apparently not fatally, strangled the lawyer.  In the meantime, the man in the blue Oxford shirt crawled out of his apartment, screaming “Help!  Help!”  But the only one on the New York street who seemed to hear him was a long-haired homeless man.  To whom the blue-Oxford-shirt guy issued some instructions.  In the meantime, young lawyer played by Rose Byrne has a meeting with —  Timothy Olyphant!  Oh joy!  Three episodes with Timothy Olyphant in one night!

In “Damages,” Olyphant plays a hitman who then revealed to Rose Byrne (last night) that he was a cop.  All that fooling around they did?  He did that in the line of duty.  “So, it meant nothing?” asks very hurt Rose Byrne.  Timothy looks soulfully into her eyes and says it did mean something.  And then they’re left hanging, because we’re back to the man in the blue Oxford shirt, and he unluckily crawls into another New York apartment, which he at first thinks is empty but isn’t (and all the while self kept thinking:  WHY don’t you just call 9-1-1- from your cell phone instead of bleeding all over that nice carpet?).  Alas, the occupant of that apartment seemed to be really mad at the man in the blue Oxford shirt, for he pushed his head into a toilet, and the man this time truly expired.

Then we’re with Glenn Close, the star of the show.  She has just put her teen-age son’s older lover in jail.  While she is having flashbacks of the time when she was young and pregnant in some rural area that might be Kentucky for all self knows, she is hit–  SMACK! —  by another car, and she sees the driver of the other car running away, and horrors, the driver turns out to be her son.  Yes, apparently her own son has just tried to kill her, presumably payback for putting his (pregnant) older girlfriend in jail on the charge of statutory rape.

The final scene is Glenn Close and Rose Byrne on some beach that looks like it’s in the Hamptons, and they are both being very reflective, and self is so sad that Timothy Olyphant never re-surfaces, and that is the end.  No more “Damages,” FOREVER.

By this time it is 1:30 a.m.  In spite of self’s best efforts, she cannot stop answering hubby’s questions.  He suddenly becomes quite voluble about self packing him a lunch.  And it’s 1:30 a.m.  Self of course ignores this request, but it’s annoying enough to keep her awake until 3 a.m.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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