These Are Good Times For …

These are good times for:

  • Satire (Exhibit A: Jon Stewart, getting funnier and funnier on The Daily Show)
  • Earnestness (Exhibit A:  Glenn Beck.  Boy does he have looads of material now!)
  • the LA Lakers aka the Kobe Bryant Show (Self wants to kick those Celtics!  Just kick them!)
  • Eddie Redmayne (Won a Tony for his performance in “Red” —  Yay!)

These are bad times for

  • the Gulf Coast —  and that includes creatures above the ocean (pelicans, people), in the ocean (shrimp and so forth), or practically anywhere within reach of the Mother of All Oil Spills.  Well, let’s just go ahead and say:  ALL OF AMERICA.
  • small literary journals:  In the last two years, three of self’s favorites have ceased publication: Chelsea, Isotope, The Rambler.  And the ones that survive are barely getting by.
  • Need one even say this? Obama (Self didn’t bother watching his two speeches this week, but she saw excerpts on various news channels and decided he might just be too cerebral for these anxious times)
  • Silicon Valley (or anyone working there not connected with Read the rest of this entry »

The Economist Books: 22 May 2010

Books self is interested in reading after perusing the Book Reviews in the 22 May 2010 issue of The Economist:

Edmund de Waal’s The Hare With the Amber Eyes:  A Hidden Inheritance

The story of a collection:  264 miniature figurines that Charles Ephrussi (on whom his “protegé,” Marcel Proust, modelled “the aesthete Charles Swann”) “bought as a job lot during the infatuation with Japonisme that swept 1870s Paris” and that, in author de Waal’s hands, become “the thread of this history of his ancestors”

Angus Trumble’s The Finger:  A Handbook

“An intriguing but verbose book” that “investigates fingers in art, from cave pictures through to Michelangelo’s Creation of Man, classical works by Anthony van Dyck and Peter Paul Rubens portraying the fashion for gloves, and Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, with its anatomically correct knuckles and nails.”

Sebastian Junger’s War

“The story of a year-long tour of Afghanistan by an American army platoon, with whom Mr. Junger was embedded for several spells,” and which “is, among other things, an outstanding war report:  a precise and gripping account of some of the fiercest battles involving American soldiers in recent times.”

Since Upcoming Will Be a Movie-Watching Weekend

Self has decided to peruse the copy of the Village Voice which she found in Soho last week.  She can’t remember when the last time was that she read the Village Voice, but it must have been years ago.  Anyhoo, this issue is the one with the Read the rest of this entry »

Quote of the Day: Self’s Dentist

Today, self was at the dentist for that much-dreaded occasion, the tooth-cleaning.

Since self had a huge old tooth pulled less than a month ago, her mouth in that area is still *quite* sore.

But self loves her dentist. She really does. The dentist always commiserates with self over her inability to afford implants.

Today, the dentist took one look at self’s interior cavities and said, “Whew! Lots of things going on in there!”

And self was able to quip (even with water piston hanging out of one side of her mouth, amazing!): “Yup, it’s like a circus. Exciting!”

And at that, both the hygienist and the dentist started laughing so hard, the whole operation just stopped dead for a few moments. If only self could have partaken of the merriment. But as her head was tilted backwards in the dentist’s chair, and as there was an instrument in her mouth, all she could do was shake her shoulders helplessly: Har, har, har. Har, har, har.

Stay tuned.

New York Times Book Review, 30 May 2010: A Semi-Short List

Books self is interested in reading after perusing The New York Times Book Review of 30 May 2010:

  • After reading David Kamp’s review of the final installment of Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest:

All the books in the trilogy:  The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, in the new translation by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier

  • After reading Andrew Ervin’s review of Julie Orringer’s novel, The Invisible Bridge:

Julie Orringer’s story collection, How to Breathe Underwater

David Foster Wallace’s “dense, challenging, wildly satiric, at times profoundly sad and gruesome 1,079-page novel,” Infinite Jest

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Nomad:  From Islam to America:  A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations

  • After reading Geoff Nicholson’s end-paper essay, “A Matter of Fact,” about reference books:

The Guinness Book of Records (any year)

Having Seen “Prince of Persia,” Self’s Summer Officially Starts Right Now

Ah summer, summer, summer.  How can self ever forget the summer of “Congo,” the summer of “Independence Day,” the summer of “The Rock,” not to mention that this time last year, the “Star Trek” re-boot was slaying all, and Zach Quinto and Chris Pine were the hottest pair since —  since Michael Fassbender and Tom Wisdom in “300”!!!

With the weather cooperating by being extremely, extremely hot, self officially turns off her brain meter and heads for the popcorn stand.  So many movies to see, so little time!

Here are the movies currently showing that self will make a stab at seeing sometime this week:

  • “Sex and the City 2,” which self has heard is horrible, but that is why she wants to see it.
  • “Prince of Persia:  Sands of Time,” which self has also heard is horrible, but that is why etc etc
  • “Get Me to the Greek,”  heard this one was funny, perhaps she will wait to see it with hubby
  • “The A-Team,” heard this was so-so, but again, a movie almost tailor-made for seeing with hubby
  • “Knight and Day,” is this opening soon?  Self thought the previews were funny.  And she likes the idea of Cruise and Diaz together in an action movie.

*     *     *     *

Later in the Day, Having Just Seen “Prince of Persia” :

Self is here to inform dear blog readers that this is not a bad movie.  One has to be in a certain frame of mind.  Of course one would not go to this movie expecting to see “Pirates of the Caribbean,” but Jake Gyllenhaal is very easy on the eyes (notwithstanding the fact that self kept wishing they had cast Tom Wisdom!) and that British girl who plays the princess is feisty enough (though self found her voice annoyingly tinn-y).  In fact, self’s eyes never drooped, not even once, not even when she could tell what was going to happen next, about half an hour before any of the movie’s characters.  The worst part was that the brothers of the Prince of Persia were such blockheads.  The Prince has to run around exerting himself for 3/4 of the movie, trying to convince them that he is innocent of the murder of their father.  Self kept wanting to yell, “You’re wasting time!  Will you just look into Jake Gyllenhaal’s big, sincere eyes and take his word for it ???”

Self also greatly appreciated the fact that there were not any goo-ey romantic scenes.  Actually, this movie was OK!  Better than the “Rotten Tomatoes” crowd would have you believe, dear blog readers!

Stay tuned.

Thank You, Joel Tan, for Calling Self a “Provocateur”! And Thank YOU, Brillante Mendoza, for Your Great Movie!

Brillante Mendoza’s “Kinatay”, which self saw this afternoon at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, is a near-great movie.  If it’s not brilliant, it’s unforgettable.  Which makes it brilliant?  Self, what are you going on about?  Can’t you please be clear?

Self was invited to be a discussant for the film, by of course one of the Filipino community’s provocateurs par-excellence, Joel Tan (Just look at his Facebook page, and you’ll know what self means).  Self was so flattered!  To think Joel takes her opinions seriously!

The movie was followed by a discussion with the audience, which self really enjoyed.  (Interesting things have been happening at Yerba Buena for a number of years now, dear blog readers.  If you happen to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, know that this is an art space that, with its focus on teaching and community outreach, is truly one of the Bay Area’s gems.  Self will never forget the exhibit on prison art, a few years back)

Now to self’s take on “Kinatay”:  This was a necessary, even brilliant, movie.

It’s not about the rape.  It’s not a snuff film (though she’s heard it called that:  how horrible to demean it in such a way).  It’s about corruption, corruption, corruption.  And about how easy it is for little dis-honesties (like stealing a tip from a table at a restaurant, in a brilliant little clip early in the film) to lead to bigger and bigger betrayals of integrity.  The beauty of the film is that it shows us how corruption tends to escalate.  Who was it that said:  “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”?

One of the most compelling scenes of the entire movie was a scene where a group of men, having beaten a prostitute into unconsciousness, then relieve themselves, all of them standing in a line, by the side of a road.

The places in the movie that made the most impression on self:

  • Manuel L. Quezon University
  • the road leading to Calumpit, Bulacan
  • Quiapo

P. S.  Belatedly discovered that Brillante Mendoza was Director of Photography for “Tirador” (Slingshot), the movie that The New Yorker, a couple of years ago, described as “brilliant.”  (Somehow, this adjective seems to come so trippingly off self’s tongue when she mentions Brillante Mendoza — !  Talk about subliminal association!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


Today I marvel at:

  • The young girl in the Mountain View Farmers Market this morning, thin as a sapling, pale, who picked over a mound of cherries as if searching for that elusive, perfect one, who must have spent at least 10 minutes hovering, hovering, carefully moving aside cherries with her fingers. And I of course had to wait until this goddess was through, so that I could pick through the cherries she had rejected, and — what a miracle — there were still a few that met my expectations.
  • My hair stylist, Erly, Filipina, who was eating today when I showed up at noon. “Is that from the Chinese restaurant next door?” I asked. Some kind of soup, and it smelled heavenly. “No,” Erly said. “One of my customers made it and brought it for me. Chicken tinola.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Women’s Review of Books: Three Biographies About Marilyn Monroe, All By Men

Never mind the three books. What’s important is what reviewer Lois Banner has to say about them, in a really insightful review. Here’s the first paragraph:

Since Marilyn Monroe died nearly fifty years ago at the age of 36, a multitude of studies of her have been published — close to one hundred by my count. The fascination with her is understandable, given the unsolved mysteries of her life and death, her superstar status, and her image, fixed in our minds as eternally youthful and beautiful. Now we have three more biographies: The Genius and the Goddess:  Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe, Marilyn Revealed, and The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe. As has long been typical of Monroe biographies, the authors of all three are men, and all are well-known for writing celebrity biographies geared to a popular audience. The tradition of male authorship began with journalist Maurice Zolotow, who published the first Monroe biography, Marilyn Monroe, in 1960, while she was still alive. It was solidified by Norman Mailer’s sensationalized Marilyn, in 1973, which portrayed her as a sex kitten and the lover of Robert Kennedy. The underlying message seems to be that men can best understand Monroe, whose appeal was innocent and erotic, childlike and sexual — the quintessential virgin/whore of the western imagination. There is also the widespread belief that any book about Marilyn Monroe will make money.

The review is a knockout, dear blog readers. Self finds deeply fascinating sentences like this one, about Ted Schwartz, the author of Marilyn Revealed: “Schwartz is often hostile to Monroe, although he praises her ambition.”

Stay tuned.

Raylan Loses His Stetson! Permanently!

Self has finally watched the season 1 finale of “Justified.” What is most different about this episode is:

  • Aside from there being no Erica Tazel (who mysteriously vanished from the cast several weeks back), there is no Jacob Pitt aka/ “Sharpshooter from Afghanistan.”
  • This episode is nothing but Boyd Crowder, for the first 15 minutes or so. Oh, self forgot! There was also his Read the rest of this entry »

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