Good Mornin’ Sunshine!

No, scratch that.  Make that:  Good Mooorning, Rain!  Because it’s pouring right now.  Pouring!

See?  Self knew there was a reason she’s still in her pajamas at 2:48 in the afternoon!

Self just got off the phone with hubby, who gave her a most dolorous account of his career.  Then finished up by saying he was going to halve son’s allowance.  And asked if self could just pull herself together and deliver the bad news to son.  Which had self going “Ahem, er, we’ll see, uh —  Okey dokey!  G’bah!”

Self scanned the list of 2010 Guggenheim recipients (posted a few days ago; naturally, self is *not* on it —  BWAH HA HA!!!) and there actually is someone there who self met once:  Monique Truong.  She was the judge of a Hyphen short story contest a few years ago, and self has been teaching her novel in her Asian American lit classes.  Congratulations, Monique!

Let’s see, what else is blog-worthy?  Oh, self had such a fuuun time in the City on Saturday, first at the Growing Up Filipino II reading at the I-Hotel (Niece G and her friend Peter were able to make it, happy happy joy joy!), and then walking around Chinatown afterwards.  It did not rain.  Not one tiny little drop.  How wonderful.  Then niece rode back with self to Redwood City (which was a very welcome distraction from the knocking sound under her engine hood), and self introduced her to local staple Yumi Yogurt.  We each had small cups of Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Peanut Butter frozen yogurt.  (Next, self is determined to try Red Mango, which opened in San Carlos a couple of months ago.)

And tonight is Episode 6 of “Justified” !!!  (Oh, please, F/X powers-that-be, please let this show go on, for at least another season.  Because Timothy Olyphant looks just so spec-TA-cular in a white Stetson and cowboy boots!)

Finally, here is self, scanning the Wall Street Journal of last Monday (the 12th).  And, bottom of page 1 has a very interesting article about a Chinese American scientist turned stand-up comedian, named Joe Wong.  Apparently, Mr. Wong made an appearance on Letterman and just killed.  So, China Central Television, the biggest TV network in China, “deemed his success in the U.S. curious enough that it dedicated a special program to him in December.  The peg:  He’s the Chinese scientist who makes Americans laugh.  While CCTV declared that Mr. Wong’s success proves ‘humor has no boundaries,’ it concluded the program without showing any of his jokes.”

So, next, the Journal talks to Mr. Wong directly.  Apparently, Mr. Wong had  a live gig in Beijing, in late 2008, and that was just brutal.  In America, Mr. Wong said, “it’s funny to poke fun at yourself.  But in China, there’s no humor in misfortune.”  Mr. Wong “recalls looking out on the blank faces of a “polite but serious” crowd.

Yiiiikes!  You can never go home again, honey.  Never, never, never.

Stay tuned.

Eavesdropping: “Clothes on Film”

Self has a feeling the guy is from the UK (She of course has never bothered to read his “About Me” page) because he uses expressions like “daft.”

She loved his review of “Inglourious Basterds.”  Know why there is no background music in the scene where Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) is talking to the farmer hiding the Jews under his floor?  So that, according to analysis of “Clothes on Film,” the audience can better hear the “sinister” creaking of Colonel Landa’s leather coat.  Oh, too clever!

All right, on to “Shutter Island.”  Here he chooses to focus, not on hunks Leonardo di Caprio and Mark Ruffalo, but on the women in the movie (And these women were good!)  Here’s how he describes them:

And then there are the women.  Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, and Michelle Williams, a trio of sirens representing various stages of hysteria.  Each significantly unsettles DiCaprio’s sense of self:  Mortimer, unnervingly sensual and frisky under interrogation; Clarkson, an intellectual prophetess of conspiracy, seeing connections beyond DiCaprio’s working class character, Ken; Williams, as DiCaprio’s tragic wife, less the perfect bride than a fragile flower he was unable to save.

Very neat piece of analysis, that!  Self particularly likes when he writes:  “trio of sirens representing various stages of hysteria.”  Self believes there can never be enough of hysteria.  In movies, anyway.

Now, self did not enjoy “Shutter Island.”  Not at all.  But she did enjoy reading the “Clothes on Film” review!

And, here are a few of self’s random thoughts on “Date Night” :

  • Tina Fey is very appealing.
  • The boat scene in Central Park (in the dead of night) had self laughing the hardest.
  • She liked the African American cabbie.
  • James Franco and Mila Kunis have little itty-bitty roles.  And Leighton Meester plays, of all things, a baby-sitter.
  • Mark Wahlberg is ha ha ha funny.  But his girlfriend (who doesn’t speak English because she’s supposedly from Tel Aviv, had self hissing urgently to hubby:  That’s not trueEveryone in Tel Aviv speaks English!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


Six vibrant programs, from May 6 – Nov. 4, 2010
All programs begin at 7 p.m.
No admissions charge, but Reservations required. Call: 650.329.2367
All programs at Palo Alto Art Center (PAAC), 1313 Newell Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303

Discovery and Remembrance
Maiko Nagai, poet, Tokyo, Japan
Jutta Strohmaier, visual artist, Vienna, Austria
Eduardo Trevino, composer, Monterrey, Mexico

Engaging Perception
Timothy Braun, Playwright, Austin, TX
Bundith Phunsombatlert, media artist, Providence, RI

Playing with Time and Memory
Felipe Barrios, Media artist, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Ellis N. Dhuibhne, writer, Dublin, Ireland
Emanuela Harris – Sintamartian, visual artist, San Jose, CA

THURSDAY, August 26
Looking Inward
Xia Gao, visual artist, Lincoln, NE
Ravi Shankar, poet, Chester, CT
Thu Kim Vu, visual artist, Hanoi, Vietnam

Movement and Animation
Katri Haarde, visual artist, Tallinn, Estonia
Keith Hennessy, choreographer, San Francisco, CA

Stay tuned.

Today, Third Sunday in April 2010: Three-Hour Nap, Still Reading Shteyngart, NYTBR 4 April 2010

Today, self had to go to the City (Car held up —  hooray!  Also, it was not raining).

Afterwards, she thought she’d curl up on the couch while hubby watched his sports games.  She’d hardly been sitting for five minutes when her eyes began to close.  Then she had a dream of kicking the older dog, Bella, for eating some plants (This was a dream that most decidedly derived from real life).  Several times, she was aware of hubby standing in front of her supine form and jumping up and down.  Or slamming the door, VERY LOUD.  Or of the dogs whimpering at her feet.  Licking her hands (with their snouts that are usually buried in doo doo).  Finally, after all these importunings, self woke up.  She’d been asleep FOR THREE HOURS.  It was 8 pm, and starting to get dark.

Up she jumped, and proceeded to cook hubby a wonderful meal of ground meat torta (Even though she noticed that he’d already had popcorn, hotdog, and what have you, judging from the mess in the kitchen).

Then she checked in on her on-line class.  Then she fed the dogs.  Then she checked her e-mail and there was nothing.  From anyone.  Then she turned to her Shteyngart book.  And there is an OMG hilarious letter from his Brooklyn lady-love, who dumps him (having met a new man:  Her Creative Writing Professor at Hunter College)

He says that …  you always viewed me from the Position of a Colonialist Oppressor.  You always secretly look down at me.  I tried to talk to you so many times about my Writing when I was in russia but you never seemed to listen.  Its always you you you.  Your ignoring me just like my family and that’s going to hurt my self as-team.  Also Proffessor Shteynfarb said its wrong when you throw your shoe at your servant (I’m sorry, but I think that’s true).  Also he says its wrong when you an your friend alosha try to do your rapping and pretend your from the ghetto because thats also being a Colonialist.  He gave me a book by Edward Said, which is super hard, but its worth it.

Then tomorrow self will pay her Verizon bill, which thank God she still has the funds for.  In the meantime, here’s the list of the books self is interested in reading after perusing the 10 April 2010 issue of The New York Times Book Review:

1.    After reading Tracy Lee Simmons’ fascinating review of Duane W. Roller’s Cleopatra:  A Biography:

Duane W. Roller’s Cleopatra:  A Biography

2. After reading Cathleen Medwick’s review of Fernanda Eberstadt’s new novel, Rat:

Fernanda Eberstadt’s new novel, Rat

3. After reading Andrea Wulf’s entertaining review of Chloe Schama’s Wild Romance: A Victorian Story of a Marriage, a Trial and a Self-Made Woman:

Chloe Schama’s Wild Romance: A Victorian Story of a Marriage, a Trial and a Self-Made Woman

4. After reading Polly Morrice’s review of Siri Huvstedt’s The Shaking Woman: Or, A History of My Nerves:

Siri Huvstedt’s The Shaking Woman: Or, A History of My Nerves

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Hilarity Ensues

Here’s a quote from the book self is currently reading, Gary Shteyngart’s Absurdistan, pp. 75 – 76:

The evening progressed as expected.  We drove to my apartment beneath a confusing cross section of the summer sky —  the deep blue of the North Sea at the top, followed by the indeterminate gray of the Neva River, and at the very bottom, a brilliant ribbon of modern orange that hung like a fluorescent mist over the dueling spires of the admiralty and the Peter and Paul Fortress.

Along the way, we took turns hitting the driver with birch twigs, ostensibly to improve his circulation, but in reality because it is impossible to end an evening with Russia without assaulting someone.

“Please, sir,” pleaded Mamudov, “it is already difficult to drive on these roads, even without being whipped.”

“No one has ever called me ‘sir’ before,” Valentin spoke in wonderment.  “Opa, you scoundrel!” he screamed, flailing the driver once more.

Do you see how absolutely entertaining this novel is?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Saturday Morning: Got to Rush

Self woke up at 9:20 am.  There is a reading this afternoon at the I-Hotel in Manilatown.  Self is supposed to meet niece G there.  Hubby said he would come along.  Self wants to give niece G a copy of Growing Up Filipino II (Among the contributors:  Amalia Bueno, Rashaan Alexis Meneses, yours truly, editor Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Brian Ascalon Roley, Veronica Montes, and Tony Robles) because Dearest Niece grew up in New York City and then studied in Stanford and might enjoy knowing how people who are Filipino like her grew up.  Maybe we’ll walk around Chinatown or North Beach.  Maybe we’ll have dinner there tonight!  Maybe we’ll even get to check out City Lights and see if they still carry Going Home to a Landscape!  (They did, last time self checked)

Before going to the city, however, self must drop by the Redwood City Farmers Market.  Which means she has to get dressed.  Right now.  She missed last week’s, the first, because she was in Denver.

She spent some time reading The Economist soon after waking up, and encountered there an essay summarizing all the charges against Obama, that he is “not tough enough to be commander-in-chief,” that “he doesn’t love America enough to defend it wholeheartedly.”  There is even a quote from that Filipina conservative commentator, Michelle Malkin, who derisively refers to our President as “the groveller in chief.”

Now, this is really, really unfair.  Sticks in self’s craw, in fact.  So, self puts aside The Economist and gets ready for her day.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Brain Cloud, 3rd Thursday of April 2010: 7 Hours of Sleep, No More Symphony, 2nd Chance for Shteyngart

Oh, self had suuuch a good sleep last night, dear blog readers! She fell asleep on the couch while hubby was watching the Sharks in the Stanley Cup play-offs, and then she woke up just in time to catch some of Craig Ferguson, and then she wrote a few pages, and then she started reading an Economist article and started feeling her eyelids drooping, inexorably drooping, and next thing you know, it was 9 am, and Gracie was going ballistic barking, and the big Japanese street-wrecking machines were outside (They’re completely re-doing all the sewers on our street: at least the local government must have some funds), and there was a very loud bang and self knew it was hubby leaving for work (banging the door to wake her up, probably).

So, let’s see, if self adds up the two hours she was asleep on the couch, and five hours from 4 am to 9 am, she had seven hours sleep all told. Hallelujah!

Today, self had to work. And she had to water her garden. And she had to walk the dogs. And she had to buy them their extra-special diet dog food ($53 for 28 lbs., from Bow Wow Meow, but — anything for the li’l crits!)

The phone did not ring, not once while self was home. Oh, wait! There was a tinkle just a few minutes ago, but self saw it was from the San Francisco Symphony, and as self and hubby are imminently to be jobless and income-less (probably), we have decided not to take any more calls from the Symphony, much as we enjoyed the last two years of watching Michael Tilson Thomas and assorted greats (not to mention all those desserts at Citizen Cake!)

Self was in such a good mood that she even rescued the Shteyngart book (Absurdistan) from her car, which she was about to return to the library. And, as it turned out, immediately after self had made that momentous decision, she suddenly came upon a most hilarious scene (not the circumcision scene — about a dozen pages after), and it was about the 325-lb. hero falling in love. And self found that scene so absolutely sweet (though certainly it was written from a very sex-crazed young man’s point of view) that she smiled, then began to guffaw, and ever since then, self has been hugely enjoying this most picaresque novel of the new, mind-boggling Russia.

And now self, having walked and fed the dogs and checked all her e-mail (No one, no one has e-mailed her. And she can’t even decide whether to watch a movie this weekend, as it is going to be a very busy one — she has to be in the city Saturday and Sunday: let’s just hope her car doesn’t break down on the free-way! It does have a very weird knocking sound which even Dear Cuz remarked on, last time she was visiting, a few weeks ago, but that’s neither here nor there), is now all agog watching TMZ. God, WHY is she on TMZ? Why can’t she just watch “Justified” 24/7? She’s avoiding finishing her Netflix movie, “My Sister’s Keeper,” because she forgot when she ordered it that it was about someone dying of leukemia. And though the acting is very top-notch, it makes her weep.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Self Interviews Dearest Mum’s Maid

For a story, of course. Delicately she hears the phone ringing — tinkle, tinkle — in a house she already knows is empty. But, of course, the maid will pick up. Self knows this.

The maid tells self that her mother is “out.” She is always out. Self doesn’t care to ask where. Instead, she asks the maid, “Who are you?” And the maid answers, “The maid.”

Self then says, “I know you’re the maid. But what’s your name?”

And the maid says, “Nena.” Which is so funny, because that is in fact Dearest Mum’s name as well. So there are two Nenas in the house there, in Manila.

Then self tells Read the rest of this entry »

Coetzee, Shteyngart Bite Metaphorical Dust ?

Self feels like putting this book down. Oh God, she can’t stand it: 2 a.m. and she just can’t seem to pry her fingers from the pages of J.M. Coetzee’s Slow Man. Why couldn’t she just float into Dreamland after watching “Justified” Episode 5 (Quite a title this episode had: “The Lord of War and Thunder”), the one where Raylan has a teaser of a sex scene with Ava in a motel room; the same episode where we see Raylan casually pushing a slime-ball into a room occupied by two other slime-balls, simply by prodding his back ever-so-gently with his Dad’s baseball bat, all the while engaging in (what’s quickly becoming his established) off-the-cuff repartee; also the one where he pretends to be an out-of-work day laborer who offers to fix up a woman’s yard for free, just so he can learn the whereabouts of the woman’s fugitive-from-the-law husband (You can come fix self’s yard anytime, Raylan!); the one where he . . .

Self, stop it! You are just too much! Not everyone in the blogosphere shares your love of “Justified” and Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens!

Okey-dokey, self will mosey back to more serious topics: which is books.

The other day, she prodded herself through one-fourth of erstwhile favorite author J. M. Coetzee’s Slow Man. Even recommended it to her students at UCLA Extension, for heaven’s sake! Then she found out from reader reviews at that there will be a very interesting development: a woman will appear, a woman who goes by the name of Elizabeth Costello, who is actually J. M. Coetzee’s alter ego. Apparently, on a lecture circuit, Coetzee found he was unable to talk about himself except through the voice of a character, so he created Elizabeth Costello. Frankly, this makes self think Coetzee is freaking nuts. But she reads on, for she did so love his earlier novels, especially Life and Times of Michael K

Self actually does make it to the passage where Elizabeth Costello appears (at 3 a.m.), and Ms. Costello seems like a very ordinary woman. Finally, self decides she can’t swallow all this deconstruction or meta-fiction or whatever and decides to return the book to the library.

Next on her reading list is Gary Shteyngart’s Absurdistan. Oh, self had high hopes for this book. Top Ten on the New York Times Books of the Year, etc etc. Apparently, it is hilarious. Even Amazon readers find it hilarious. The hero is 325 lbs., farts, and is the sole progeny of the 1,238th richest man in Russia. He has his own bodyguard who is such an enabler he places plate after plate of Beluga caviar in front of our hero, and — well, why does this remind self so much of the fresh hell of Manila? Self does not need Gary Shteyngart to tell her that such creatures as 325-lb. spoiled only sons of rich crooks exist! She doesn’t need anyone to tell her that rich people are the same everywhere, whether they are from Moscow or Manila: they all still want their kids to get American educations! Preferably from Stanford or Harvard! (Self’s own Dear Departed Dad went to Georgetown Law School; hubby’s Dear Departed Dad got his PhD in Chemistry from MIT) Why is self not laughing in the bris removal scene (That’s circumcision, to those of you not in the know)? Or whenever she reads the name of corpulent hero’s American college: Accidental College, har har har — reminds her of Occidental College, where indeed some of son’s Sacred Heart Prep classmates did end up (Except, Occidental’s not in the midwest, like the one of Shteyngart’s hero. No, Occidental is in the flower-filled paradise of Pasadena. And also happens to be a very good school)

But wait, what’s this? Amazon reader says the book is about “the obssessive fascination with male sexual pleasure.”


HOTEL AMERIKA, Spring Edition, Take 2

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again …

Hotel Amerika journals have the most gorgeous covers.  During self’s peregrinations around the Bookfair (the most fun activity of the AWP conference), self glanced to the left and spied the journal table.  Oh, gorgeous, gorgeous books!  Self immediately ran up and blurted out that they had published a story of hers in the Trans-Genre issue.  Much consternation when that turned out not to be the case.  No, it turned out her story was in the latest issue, the one being launched at the Bookfair.

Self just loves, loves, loves the cover, the mysteriously suspended figure of a woman; the inside page, a blank red.  So, they handed her two author copies, and below is the cover (Self took the picture in her hotel room:  sorry for the bright flash that ruins the image!)

In this issue:

Essays by Bernadette Esposito, Marilyn Abildskov, Marcia Aldrich, Barrie Jean Borich, Kathryn Winograd, Tony Whedon, and Xu Xi

Prose Poetry by Alexandra Chasin, Patty Seyburn, Patrick Leonard, Jeff Alessandrelli, G. C. Waldrup

TransGenre by Sarah White, Mary Capello, yours truly, Elaine Terranova, Kelly Cherry, Jennifer L. Knox, Brian Teare, Ben Quick, Christina Manweller and G. C. Waldrop.

Fiction by Ann de Forest and Monica McFawn

Poetry by Charlene Fix, Albert Goldbarth, Patty Seyburn, Dawn Marie Knopf, Diane Wakoski, Alice Jones, Dorinda Wegener, Richard Cecil, Gary Dop, Susan Terris, Christian Barter, Lance Larsen, Cynthia Hogue, Matthew Gavin Frank, and many more!

Order an issue, dear blog readers.  It is a most beautiful book.

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