Cal Shakes/ Shakespeare’s Birthday

Among the messages received today was one from Cal Shakes. This company is so good that self has never, ever been disappointed in a production, not since the very first one she took son to, about a decade ago.  She’s seen four.  She hopes she can go again this summer.

Her first Cal Shakes play was “Romeo and Juliet.”  She’d packed bottles of wine and trays of sushi and sourdough baguettes and salami.  Afterwards, sitting close to the front, she was entranced by the young, good-looking actors.  This is how “Romeo and Juliet” has to be:  it’s about what it’s like to be 15 and cursed with beauty and longing and everything.  Adam Scott was Romeo, that pretty much says it all.  Until that play, self had never heard of him before.  Now, he’s all over TV . . .

The next play self caught was “Richard III.”  Also fun.  This time, hubby and self sat in the front row and got cricks in our necks.  Son was with a friend and they sat on the grassy knoll behind.

The third play was “Henry IV” and “Henry V,” combined into a very fleet production.  Falstaff actually knew how to play the saxophone.  You don’t know what it is, but it’s Shakespeare + being outdoors + music + sun, all of these combined —  that sets your heart to singing.

The last play we saw was in 2009:  a musical version of “Midsummer Night’s Dream.”  It was magical.

Hubby doesn’t really enjoy watching plays, but he always comes along, and self packs a picnic lunch, and son invites some friends (Two years in a row it was the same friend, Aubert, because Aubert loves to act).  It is always a sunny summer afternoon, and we always get roasted by the sun, and by the end of the day we are so tired, but also energized from the realization that we have done something both intellectually and emotionally pleasing.

She gets the Cal Shakes newsletter, and today there was a very exciting message: In honor of Shakespeare’s “official” birthday, which is this Saturday, they are making patrons a special offer, which will remain a mystery until the Monday after Easter, which is to say: this Monday.

Gee, self can hardly wait!

This year’s season includes “The Taming of the Shrew,”  directed by Shana Cooper, and Jonathan Moscone directing George Bernard Shaw’s “Candida.”

Anyhoo, here’s what the latest Cal Shakes newsletter has to say about Shakespeare’s birthday:

Shakespeare’s birthday is an eternal mystery; we know he was baptized on April 26, 1564, but have chosen to celebrate his natal day on April 23. Was it a scholarly error, a celebration of another holiday (St. George’s Day), or the human race’s eternal thirst for nice, round numbers — since he died on what would have been his 52nd birthday?

Regardless of the reason, this Saturday (which is to say, tomorrow) there will be celebrations around the globe in honor of Shakespeare’s 447th birthday.

It’s also Holy Saturday.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Filipino Heritage Night: San Francisco Giants vs Arizona Diamondbacks

Help the Filipina Women’s Network celebrate Filipino Heritage Night, May 11, 2011, 7:15 pm at AT & T Park, and receive a limited edition Filipino-themed Giants Tim Lincecum jersey-T, which can be redeemed the day of the game by presenting your ticket stub.

Tickets are dynamically priced, which means ticket prices will increase as the event moves closer.  Buy your tickets early and SAVE.

Ticket proceeds will benefit Filipina Women’s Network, Filipino American Arts Exposition, Manilatown Heritage Foundation, Manny Pacquiao Foundation, and 600 Hands.

Purchase tickets HERE.

Variations on a Theme (Do Not Read Until After Mother’s Day)

Monday night, self sat spellbound while Lydia Davis read a rather disturbing story about the death of a mother.  The story was all in the details:  the narrator visits her mother in the hospital.  She enters the room and finds that her mother has died.  Someone who doesn’t know the first thing about the narrator’s mother has Read the rest of this entry »

Lydia Davis, Rock Star of the Short Short

Last night was the Lydia Davis reading at Stanford.  It was great.  Davis is hilarious, in a wonderfully deadpan way.  Niece particularly liked a piece about cows.  Self found a piece about the dying of a mother (Not her own, Ms. Davis was careful to emphasize.  A friend’s.  And she asked permission of her friend to use the subject) simply stunning.

This morning, self attended the Lydia Davis colloquium in the Terrace Room of Building 460.  It was packed, but not to the degree that Davis’ reading, last night, had been.  Self recognized Tobias Wolff (Another Read the rest of this entry »

The Most Gorgeous (April) Sunday So Far

It is a beautiful, gorgeous Sunday afternoon.  Hubby and self wandered over to the Cantor Arts Center and saw the two current exhibits:  “In a New York Minute,” photographs by Helen Levitt, taken from 1938 – the 1990s, all on the streets of New York City, and photographs by Leo Rubinfien, “Paths Through the Global City.”  Self also saw, in another part of the museum, her first Arcimboldos.  This Renaissance painter painted faces that were collages of fruits and vegetables and flowers.  She’d seen images in magazines but never an actual painting.  The Cantor Arts Center has six:  two regular size, and four miniature.  Fascinating!

Afterwards, hubby and self made the obligatory stop at Gelato Classico on Emerson Street in downtown Palo Alto.  Across the street, at the Aquarius, were posters advertising the two current films:  one was the movie that won Best Foreign Film at the most recent Oscars, and another was a movie called “Potiche” about a woman who takes over running an umbrella factory from her husband and finds that she has hidden managerial talents.  The latter one stars Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu.

Tomorrow is the Lydia Davis reading (Self missed two greats already:  Deborah Eisenberg and D. A. Powell, she can’t miss this one) at Stanford.  Self is confused because the flyer she got from the Creative Writing Program said that the reading would be held at Cubberley.  But Stanford Events has the reading taking place in the Humanities Center.  Self thinks it is more reasonable to have the reading at Cubberley, as she thinks it will be packed.  If she calls Creative Writing tomorrow, she bets she’ll get an answering machine.  Niece is coming up all the way from San Francisco.  Self sold her on the event by telling her:  “Lydia Davis is the rock star of the short short!”

Self will also try like the dickens to make it to the Feminist Studies Honors Presentation.  She said yes (She always says Yes, and then she ends up not showing for some reason or another).  This time, she peruses the presentations carefully.  What a fascinating assemblage!  Here are the students and their topics:

  • Alison Ganem:  “Mujeres de la Frontera:  Life Histories of Latina Women on the San Diego/Tijuana Border”
  • Monique Loy:  “The Hope and Progress of Human Rights in the Voice of Saudi Women”
  • Jenny Tiskus:   “Cattle Annie:  Performance of Cowgirl Identity in Three Generations (Lithographs, Paintings, Prints)”
  • Madison Kawakami:  “Three Women:  Three Tales”
  • Janess Nickell:   “A Memoir and Reckoning from Jordan”
  • Emily Rialls:   “The Budget:  A Novella (A Fictional Exploration of Family Inheritance)”
  • Cris Bautista:   “The Embodied Word:  William Blake’s Visions of the Daughters of Albion and Female Embodiment Through Text and Image”
  • Elizabeth Sanders:   “When I’m Grown Up, I Shall Find Out:  How Women Writers Construct Agency in Girls’ Coming-of-Age Novels”
  • Charles Syms:   “Contentiously Kwieo:  The Challenges of Korean LGBT Rights Organizing Movement”

Self thinks it is pretty cool that there is a guy graduating in Feminist Studies.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Maddening Gruesomeness of “Hanna”

Two nieces on self’s mother’s side are named “Hanna” or “Hannah.”  Self is a little puzzled by the sudden popularity (in her family) of this faintly Swedish-sounding name.  But who knows?  Perhaps “Hanna” is the new “Gemma” or whatever!

So, on to the movie named “Hanna,” which hubby had been extremely desirous to see, ever since it opened, last weekend.  Today, after catching the first screening at the downtown Redwood City Century 20, hubby declared it an “eight out of ten,” which meant he really really liked it.

What is it about Saoirse Ronan that Read the rest of this entry »

The Mongol Scourge and the Fat-Bottomed Sheep

Self is on p. 68 of Marco Polo:  From Venice to Xanadu.  What a fascinating read this is turning out to be.

Here is a passage about the marauding Mongol armies of Genghis Khan:

No other invaders did as much damage to Afghanistan’s delicate infrastructure as the Mongols.  Their numbers were immense; an army of sixty or seventy thousand Mongol warriors on horseback would suddenly appear and overwhelm the region of their choice.  The warriors could fire as many as six arrows a minute on horseback, facing forward or backward, at a full gallop . . .  resistance would be met with annihilation.


Self read somewhere that the Mongols slept on horseback, and used their enemies’ skulls as drinking goblets. (On the other hand, it’s all very well for a Mongol warrior to sleep while riding on his horse, but wouldn’t the horses themselves need sleep, eventually?  They couldn’t, presumably, keep galloping for days and days without surcease?  There you go again, self, with the digressions!)

An army of sixty to seventy thousand soldiers!  That’s almost as much as the entire population of Redwood City, California.  Self can imagine why the Mongol armies, appearing so suddenly, could imbue the plains dwellers with such fear.  They must have looked like a cloud of locusts —  and been  every bit as unstoppable.

As a welcome distraction from the ever-present threat of annihilation by rampaging Mongol hordes, Marco Polo turned his attention to the “fat-bottomed sheep climbing the mountains.”  These may have “inspired women in the area to exaggerate their physiques.  They do this to show that they have large hips to become beautiful, because in that region their men delight in fat women, and she who appears more stout below the waist seems to them more beautiful”  and “not only that, but more glorious among other women.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

How Apollonia Became the Patron Saint of Dentists

A fable:

In the last year of the reign of the Emperor Philip, the Christians of Alexandria were being set upon by the heathen population of the city.  The Christians offered no resistance but betook themselves to flight, abandoning their goods without complaint because their hearts had no ties upon earth.  So great was their constancy that none renounced Christ, even under barbaric and repeated tortures.

Apollonia, who is described in the historical record as “an aged Deaconess,” was seized.  With blows in the face the heathen knocked out all her teeth and then, kindling a great fire outside the city, they threatened to cast her into it unless she uttered certain impious words.  She begged for a moment’s delay then, as soon as she found herself free, leaped into the flames of her own accord.

To account for her action in thus anticipating her death, St. Augustine supposes that she acted by a particular direction of the Holy Ghost, since it would not otherwise be lawful for anyone to hasten his own end.  She is invoked against toothache and all dental diseases, and her more common attributes in art are a pair of pincers holding a tooth, or else a golden tooth suspended on her necklace.

Source:  Kanlaon’s Book of Saints

Self is thinking of St. Apollonia now because, naturally, she has a toothache.

2nd Thursday of April 2011: “The Pacific” (Disc 3), More Looking Back

This morning, self worked two and a half hours nonstop at the Writing Center.  She had a student look up the word “nonconsensual” in the Center’s huge, six-inch-thick, hardbound copy of the Merriam Webster dictionary to check whether it had a hyphen (It didn’t).  She read law papers, she read psychology papers.  She worked with a student who was writing a paper on the theme of “Innocence” in three works by Mark Twain.

Now that she’s back home, she’s watching Disc 3 of HBO’s “The Pacific.”  It’s much more intense, these episodes, than the ones on Disc 2.  One of her favorite characters gets put out of commission.  But she’s getting to like another character, a newly arrived recruit from Mobile, Alabama who bears a resemblance to the young Steven Spielberg.  There is one crazy G.I. who seems to have wandered in from the set of “Apocalypse Now.”  The two episodes on Disc 3 focus on the savage battles on Peleliu, a tiny speck of land out there in the middle of the Pacific, whose importance to U.S. naval strategy self can only guess at.

Self also decided to take a look back at some of her pictures from her last trip home.  Here are two that she took from the second floor of Rockwell.  It was Chinese New Year.  She had just finished lunch with Carla and Judy at Cibo.

Chinese New Year, Rockwell, February 2011

Rockwell, Chinese New Year, February 2011

Tonight, self’s going to head to Stanford to watch Frieda Lee Mock’s documentaries on Maya Lin and Lt. Watada (Watada was the first U. S. commissioned officer to refuse assignment to Iraq).  The first documentary is about an hour and a half, the second is almost an hour.  Then there’s going to be Q & A.  The screenings are free and open to the public.  Location:  Annenberg Auditorium (in the Art Department building) on the Stanford campus.  The event starts at 6:30 pm.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Presence of Her Absence

It’s been exactly nine days since Gracie passed away.  The pain of her absence is huge.  Huge.

Today, self was puttering around the garden, and she saw small piles of dried up crap spaced in decorous intervals around the wooden deck in the backyard.  Self stopped.  And looked.  Forgive self this tendency to dwell on odious subjects.  It’s just —  Gracie loved to be with self in the garden.  On Sunday, April 3, she and self were outside together, enjoying the sun.  Self was reading a book on the deck, and Gracie came right up to her and raised her head towards self, and self patted her of course.  The very next morning, the world went awry and Gracie died.

Self did some calculations:  Nine days.  That poop can’t be Gracie’s, then.  Of course :  It’s Bella’s, the older beagle, the 15-year-old, who amazes us all by continuing to live in good health.

Monday, the 4th of April, was when self awoke to find Gracie gone, or almost gone.  She was lying by one of the sofas in the living room, and there was an absolute mess of crap around her.  So self rushed Gracie to the vet, but even just on the walk from the house to the car, she felt Gracie’s bones dissolve, her neck swaying back and forth, back and forth, and so self ran, ran.

After four hours on I/V fluids, the vet came and talked to self, and self made the decision to have Gracie put down.  And son was angry.  And hubby asked, why didn’t she bring Gracie straight to the emergency room, why did she have to go to the vet, couldn’t she see, couldn’t she see how dire Gracie’s condition was, and perhaps self wasn’t thinking straight, but she knew absolutely that she made the right decision, to end the poor li’l crit’s suffering.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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