“Salt”/ A Couple of Garage Sale Finds

Ah, Angelina.  Such an action hero!  In one scene, she wraps her black panties around a surveillance camera.  In another, she walks through a ship, tossing hand grenades as casually as if she were scattering fertilizer.  She can go from blonde to black-haired, to woman-being-tortured-in-white-lace-underwear (by the North Koreans, of course:  those brutes!), to a vaguely tranny-looking NATO security officer.

The million dollar question is:  Who channels “Bourne” better: Matt Damon or Angelina Jolie?

The answer: Matt Damon.

Because even when Angelina is in disguise, even after she has donned a plain trench coat and dyed her hair a deep black and is Read the rest of this entry »

Life Is Good/ 30 July 2010 Edition

Life is good, dear blog readers!

Sure, self’s li’l abode isn’t air-conditioned, and the recession is hitting hard on all fronts, and self’s part-time teaching jobs are vanishing into thin air, and hubby’s start-up (which makes the most fabulos-o mystery machine in the whole world) hasn’t been able to sell a single unit since December, and 12 engineers are just sitting around in Fremont biting their nails, and everyone wonders where the hell the Obama-love went, and self has not (so far this year) gotten any of her writing placed anywhere, and she was supposed to go to Scotland in September but got notice that her hosts are having to postpone her residency, but self still persists in thinking life is good.

Why?  Let self count the ways:

She bit the bullet and purchased a Macmini ($570), hooked it up to son’s fabulo-so HP widescreen (He has two other computers, much newer, down in San Luis Obispo), and now she doesn’t have to scrunch over her MacBook when reading e-mail or writing posts or what-have-you.  Success!  Happiness!  Jubilation!  Her posture is much improved.  Now self doesn’t have to end a full day of writing with a crick in her neck.

Since self is only Read the rest of this entry »

The House Is Too Quiet

The house is too quiet when self returns from purchasing today’s Wall Street Journal and a six-pack of Negra Modelo beer from Whole Foods. The first thing she does, after opening a beer, is turn on the TV.   Here are some things she picked up from the 5 pm ABC World News:

A third of U.S. soldiers are on prescription drugs. 80% of suicides by U.S. soldiers occur on American soil. The U.S. Army now tends to attract those with “risk-taking” personalities (This was immediately followed by a clip from the documentary “Restrepo”).

The piece was reported by Martha Raddatz.  (Incidentally, on p. 1 of the Wall Street Journal, in an article headlined “Drug Use, Poor Discipline Afflict Afghanistan’s Army,” there is this:  “…  four Afghan soldiers leaned back on some idle farm equipment and lit up a joint in full view of U. S. troops and an American reporter.”)

It has not escaped self’s notice that, for the last several weeks, her next-door neighbor and the one across the street have been erecting six-foot wooden fences around their property. Now, it seems, both fences are finished: there are no more workmen about, and self, for the first time in 20 years, cannot peek into her neighbor’s living room windows. The wooden fences present blank, inscrutable faces to her. And the neighbors, too, are inscrutable, behind their new wooden barriers.

The Negra Modelo is a writing aid. Writing a novel is such a bear. Totally different from writing a short story. Short stories are fun! She gets to the end before she loses track of the beginning. Now, she has over a hundred pages of the putative novel, and today, when self started reading from the beginning, she found that some characters switched names twice, even three times!

Self totally missed Obama on “The View” this morning. Instead, she was on a talk show featuring Oprah regular Bob Greene (Could it have been Rachael Ray?). She also, later in the day, watched “View From the Bay” and found that the guest was a former colleague at Foothill, Michele Bigley! Oh! She has written a travel book! About travelling on the cheap, with kids! She was always bubbly. Now self learns that her child is three years old. Best of luck on your book tour, Michelle!

Today’s afternoon hide-out (to escape from boiling heat of self’s tiny abode) was the Atherton Library. This is housed in a teensy little cottage, surrounded by tremendous old trees. It is so quiet that when self walked in, banging the entrance door harder than she’d intended, everyone looked up.

The library’s usual patrons are middle-aged or senior citizens, and today was no exception. After checking out her book — Hugh Sebag-Montefiore’s Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man — self settled down on a couch and began to peruse the items on the coffee table in front of her: Aside from several copies of AARP’s journal, she found many copies of The Hollywood Reporter (!!!). Self picked up the latest issue (26 July 2010) and read there all about Viacom’s octogenarian Chairman, Sumner Redstone, and his seeming fascination with an MTV reality show called “Electric Barbarella.” Also, a Comic-Con wrap-up, which featured a photo of the entire cast of Marvel’s only-just-begun-shooting “The Avengers” (Yup, indeed there is a picture of Mark Ruffalo, who has replaced Ed Norton as “The Hulk.” And there is Jeremy Renner, who self just found out will play Hawkeye). Also, something about this fall’s upcoming new show, “Hawaii Five-O,” which will include Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park (previously Boomer on “Battlestar Galactica” — YAY!).

So, having caught up on all her Hollywood reading for the day (Thanks much, Atherton Library! Though your air-conditioner seemed to be non-functional today), self wends her way home to await whatever bad news there is in her mailbox and in her e-mail.

Stay tuned.

Blogging is Good for Self

When self first started blogging, in July 2006, she blogged about the Ferry Building’s Farmer’s Market, and the next day, when she eagerly checked her blog stats, she saw that she had two views.

Excitement! Jubilation!

When, on one fabulous day, she saw the line of blog views climb to nine, she was all happy happy joy joy!

Then came the mini-series “Rome.” Anyone remember that?

Oh, what a boon that was to Kanlaon! Every week a wild, over-the-top episode, full of blood, guts, and perverted sex! She’d post while she was still watching, and the next morning, checking her blog stats, she’d go oh boy oh boy oh boy! 50 overnight!

Now, no matter how tired or cranky self is, she manages to pull something out. Every day.

Self has heard more than one person say that blogging is “paranoia-inducing,” as it suddenly reveals how many hateful people there are in the neighborhood. But self thinks blogging is the “anti-paranoia” activity: There are whole days when self gets no e-mail (Really, self? That’s if you don’t count the advertisements for VIAGRA!), but there are views every day on her blog. Which gives her hope.

Moreover, blogging encouraged self to just let her comic voice rip (As anyone who’s read self’s stories can tell ya, her stories are pretty high on the drama quotient, perhaps even “dark”)

So, it’s all good.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Alan Cumming in “The Good Wife”

“The first thing you need to do is fire Shiksa Bambi over here and hire your son. This is the finest piece of investigative work I have ever seen.” — Alan Cumming as lawyer Eli Gold in “The Good Wife” (Whereupon Gold holds up photo taken by iphone hidden by The Good Wife’s son in a planter in the hallway just outside their apartment … OK, this is getting way too complicated but trust self, the narrative arc of this story was set weeks ago and has never wavered)

OMG, Alan Cumming is sooo delicious as gutter-fighter/ consiglieri-type lawyer, Eli Gold!

Self also likes that there’s this preppy-type kid (Matt Czuchry) cast opposite Julianna Margulies.

And Gary Cole was in this episode. His character’s name: Kurt McVeigh. (Really? They really picked a character with that last name? Apparently just so that Christine Baranski could make a wry comment about it in tonight’s episode?)

Since “Justified” ended its Season 1 run, some weeks ago, self’s been watching “The Good Wife” (She also saw “Warehouse 13” earlier: Myka was in an evening gown that showed her to have quite a bod. If only self didn’t keep wishing they would bring Sean Maher back for another episode!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

A Very Short Post About Nothing/Plus: Speculation About “Best Actress in a Drama” Emmy

Self was about to write a post about this putative novel of hers.  About the possibility that perhaps trying to write a novel is like tilting at windmills.  Especially for someone like her (Flashback, Berlin:  Pinoy writer comes sidling up to self, it’s the first day of an international conference.  Makes chit-chat and then says:  “If you haven’t made it by your age, you’ll never make it.”  Self didn’t react, because she is slow, slow, slow.  Where is that guy now, she wonders?  Hopefully, famous —  BWAH. HA. HAAA)

The phone rang.  Self checked:  402 area code.  So, even though she knew —  there goes her post! —  she picked up.  “Hello?” self said, with some anticipation (Perhaps the MacArthur gods are calling!  From a place with a 402 area code!)  But there is only a pregnant pause, which can only mean one thing:  a computer is getting ready to spew its sales pitch at her.


Oh, boo hoo hoo! Self, why can’t you just quit feeling sorry for yourself?

Switching gears, here are a few gambler’s odds from Read the rest of this entry »

“Mad Men” : Because Self Didn’t Catch the Season Premiere

All right, self was unable to catch “Mad Men”, the Season 4 Premiere, last night.  Her life is just too exciting at the moment.  What was she doing?  Well, she and hubby bought lengua (tongue) burritos from El Taco Grullense near Jefferson, and had the edifying experience of listening to a couple of angry people shout that they had been bilked by a shoe vendor in the parking lot outside.

Then we went home, and hubby proceeded to watch self-doesn’t-know-what, and self went to son’s room to watch the History Channel there (a show about “Valkyrie”, the World War II German plot to assassinate Hitler).

Then, this morning, she started checking e-mail and saw a Movie-Line piece about MM.  Damn!  It sounded mighty fine.  Just last weekend, self watched a “Mad Men” marathon on AMC, complete with director interviews after salient scenes.  Such as the scene where Don Draper comes home from a party, yanks his wife out of bed, pushes her around, grabs her by the collar of her nightgown, and then declares her a whore.  @@!!##

Never having seen the show before, self was quite affronted by such boorish behavior.  Amazing, she had never known Don Draper was a wife abuser.  (After scouring the internet, self did not encounter a single article questioning why Don Draper gets to push Betty Draper around like that.  Oh, right!  It’s the early 60s.  Never mind)

Below is the intro paragraph of the Movieline article.  For the full article (“Our Hams are Worth Fighting For”) go here

So much for Beatlemania.  The season premiere of Mad Men arrived Sunday night with most of 1964 behind it and Don Draper having bitten off more than he can chew in the office, at home, on a date, in the media, you name it.  Independence has elevated our man from mini-celebrity to major cultural influencer, and he will not be pushed around by mere fads.  Slapped around by a whore, OK.  But that’s where he draws the line.  Let’s explore.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Best Novels Self Has Read (So Far, 2010)

Alphabetical, by author’s last name:

Michael Cox’s The Meaning of Night (Self read this the first week of April)

Two by Morag Joss (Self read these the first two weeks of March):

  • Half-Broken Things
  • Puccini’s Ghosts

Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children (Self read this at the end of April)

Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood (Self read this early in the year:  Her 2000 iMac went kaput in late February, and she hadn’t started transferring files to her MacBook, so her “What I Read” lists are missing the first two months of 2010)

Marisha Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Physics (Self read this the first half of May)

Since finishing Pessl’s book, self’s been reading mostly nonfiction.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Eavesdropping: Salon.com’s “The Movie Experience I Can’t Forget”

Salon.com asked a diverse array of film critics to name “the movie experience I can’t forget.”

Great idea!

Here are the movies that generated the “can’t-forget” (The ones self really likes will be followed by exclamation points!  Like so:  !!!).  For the experiences themselves, you’ll have to go to Salon.com

  1. From Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com film critic:   John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982) — !!!
  2. From Paul Gerald, a Portland, OR-based “writer, author, and publisher” :  xxx’s “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” (1989) —  !!!  Major points for the picture of Keanu at his blank-est!  Totally gorgeous!
  3. From Steven Boone, who publishes the blog Big Media Vandalism :  Peter Jackson’s “Heavenly Creatures” (1994)
  4. From Sheila O’Malley, who writes the blog The Sheila Variations :   George Lucas’ “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980)
  5. From Francis “Oggs” Cruz, contributor to the Philippine Star and The Philippines Free PressLav Diaz’s “Ebolusyon ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino” (2004)
  6. From Odienator, who writes about film and popular culture, and publishes a yearly series, The Black History Mumf:  Brian de Palma’s “Dressed to Kill” (1980) —  !!!
  7. From Matt Zoller Seitz, filmmaker and regular Salon.com contributor:  Oliver Stone’s “JFK” (1991) —  !!!
  8. From Kartina Richardson, who runs Mirror Film, “a website of film criticism and video essays” :  Samuel Fuller’s 1953 “Pickup on South Street”
  9. David Dixon, who publishes the blog Bring Me the Head of David Dixon:  xxx’s “Leprechaun” (1993)
  10. Walter Biggins, who writes the blog Quiet Bubble:   Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” (1993)
  11. Jeffrey Wells, publisher of Hollywood Elsewhere:  Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest”
  12. Edward Copeland, creator of Edward Copeland on Film:  Roland Joffe’s “The Mission” (1986)
  13. Liz Helfgott, editorial director for The Criterion Collection:   Peter Greenaway’s 1980 “The Falls” (viewed 1993)
  14. Jeffrey Overstreet, author of Through a Screen Darkly, “a memoir of dangerous moviegoing” :   Kevin Costner’s “Dances With Wolves” (1990)
  15. Daniel McKleinfeld, Brooklyn-based editor, director, and VJ:  xxx’s “Striptease” (viewed 1996)

And here are a couple of self’s own unforgettable movie experiences (in order of “unforgettable-ness”) :

  • Bruce Beresford’s “Black Robe” (1991) —  Self went with a cousin; hubby had to stay home and babysit son, BWAH. HA. HAAA!  (He wouldn’t have liked the movie; self’s cousin didn’t)
  • Oliver Stone’s “Platoon” (1986) —  Self saw it with Dear Departed Dad.  He embarrassed self deeply by clapping at the end.
  • Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather” (1972) —  Self’s first sight of Al Pacino:  what more can one say?
  • Michael Cimino’s “The Deer Hunter” (1978) —  Saw it with Dear Departed Dad in Manila.  He said of Meryl Streep:  “She’s going to be a big star.”
  • William Friedkin’s “The French Connection” (1971) —  Self’s first experience of gritty, almost-documentary-style filming.
  • Peque Gallaga’s “Oro, Plata, Mata” (1982) —  Drove all the way to Berkeley to see it.  Bacolod, this film was you.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Some News of the Day (Fourth Friday of July 2010)

Will it be warm? Will it be cool?

Last night, the weatherman said to expect “a cooling trend.” But today, during a brief weather broadcast in the middle of “The View,” the weather girl said “Expect more summer heat!” !!@@

Here’s what self does on the really hot days:   She drags buckets of water around her garden, she wrings her hands.  She drags buckets of water around her garden, she wrings her hands.

(Self, why can you not seize the initiative and see a movie?  At least, then, one can deliver crisp bon mots about one’s fellow movie-goers, and one can make smart quips about the action unfolding on the screen.  Alas, there’s nothing self really wants to see:  “Inception” sort of spoiled her erstwhile desire to see “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” or “Despicable Me.”  But, once again, self digresses)

Facebook is a fascinating place. Self must admit, her interest in it is somewhat cyclical. Today, she happens to be engaged by the following:

  • Gemma stayed up all night reading Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking.
  • Aimee took her dog for anal gland secretion.
  • Liza is at Comic-Con (Lucky Thing! Rrraaawrr!)

Not on Facebook, but interesting nonetheless, was message from the folks in charge of the annual Filipino American Pistahan Parade in San Francisco: They are still taking nominations for Honorary Parade Marshal. Here are the criteria: Must be Filipino American. Must reside in Northern California. And must be willing to participate in the parade on Saturday, Aug. 14.

Self recalls that a number of years ago, when Going Home to a Landscape was published, the parade organizers invited self and Virginia Cerenio to participate in the parade. Unfortunately, self was in Manila.  But Virginia was in the Parade! So cool!

Let’s see, what else?

Oh, Kyi informs self that Charles Jensen has resigned as Director of The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD. !!@@## He was the one responsible for bringing self over to read, last February. And the theater was packed (Not for self, silly: for the band that played after the reading) Self even taught a workshop on memoir. It was so interesting to meet people from that side of the country. And Charles seemed very young, very energetic, very forward-looking. Oh, woe!

Other odds and ends in self’s brain at the moment:

  • Is Sandra Bullock really getting back with Jesse James??!!@@
  • And, will self ever be able to get a live person on the phone at United today?  She knows they had that unfortunate incident with the very bumpy plane landing and passengers cracking their heads on the cabin ceiling, but she’s been hanging on for 20 minutes now, just so she can switch her ticket from London to Hong Kong, and it is just impossible to get anyone.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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