The Sleepwalker Retires (Self Hopes)

Self was really so glad that during her most recent Bacolod adventure (September), she did very little sleepwalking.  December and January trips were the worst:  Self would wake up and see a huge tureen on the table next to the bed, completely empty.  And she had no memory of ordering anything from room service.

OK, but what she did order a lot of (from room service:  After a while, self got tired of eating dinner by herself in restaurants) during her September Bacolod sojourn was lengua with mushrooms.  The third time the waiter brought self her lengua dinner, he remarked:  “Ma’am, you really like lengua!”  At which point, self began to force herself to eat out again.

Anyhoo, self is remembering all this because, it being Sunday, she has to cook Sunday dinner.  She always gets going by picking up something or other written by Dear Doreen (The Adobo Festival in Silay is coming up very very soon!  First week of November!  Oh, be still, self’s beating heart!  You know you can only partake of the adobo delectables by mental telepathy!).  And today, what she reads is an entry on a town in the Philippines called San Francisco.

Imagine that!  There is a town in the Philippines with the same name as self’s very own adopted abode (which she always tells people is the “San Francisco Bay Area,” not “Redwood City,” because when she says “Redwood City,” people always ask her about her proximity to the Avenue of the Giants).

This Philippine town of San Francisco is in Agusan del Sur, and people also refer to it as “San Fran.” (And self knows that she makes frequent mention, in her Bacolod sojourns, of a nearby town called Murcia, and there is also a Murcia in Spain, with a magnificent cathedral, and though the Philippine Murcia is much smaller, she thinks these two cities should get together and host a joint festival.  Or something along that line.  As should San Francisco, Agusan del Sur, Philippines, and the California San Francisco.  Once again, self, you digress!)

Okey dokey, back to San Francisco, Agusan del Sur.  Of course, Dear Doreen, with her unerring nose for all that is local, decides to partake of the delicacies in the San Francisco bus terminal.  Which, as it happens, is exactly the right place, for here, the adventurous traveler can find:

  • Pork, cooked in the following ways:  apritada, adobo, paklay, la-uya, and lechon kawali
  • Fish, cooked the following ways:  prito, escabeche, kinilaw, or tinowa/tinola
  • Beef, cooked either apritada or mechado (Rather skimpy choices here, for beef!)
  • Chicken, cooked either apritada or tinola (See comment on Beef, above)

The most popular vegetable dish, according to Doreen, is ginataang nangka.  There is also mongo and pakbet.  There is also dinuguan, referred to there as “blad-blad” (Filipinized way of saying “blood-blood” —  Hey, this is a perfect dish for Halloween!)

Oh Dearest Doreen, where are you?  Self misses you so, so, so, so much.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Kickstarter Project of the Month: Janet Stickmon’s MIDNIGHT PEACHES, 2 O’CLOCK PATIENCE

Janet Stickmon’s on Kickstarter to promote her forthcoming book:

Midnight Peaches, Two O’Clock Patience

Check out excerpts on Janet’s blog, here.

She needs to raise $2,500 to publish and distribute the book.

Please lend your support to this fabulous writer.  She’s raised $215 so far.

Here’s the link.

Stay tuned.

Resolutions, Upon Reading The NY Times Book Review of 23 October 2011

After reading Randy Boyagoda’s review of Charles Frazier’s latest novel, Nightwoods, self will finally read Charles Frazier’s Civil War novels (Cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons).

After reading James J. Sheehan’s review of Ian Kershaw’s The End:  The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler’s Germany, 1944-45, self will read The End (but considering the huge back-up in her reading list, will probably not get to this book until 2013)

After reading Sarah Towers’ review of Kimberly Cutter’s novel The Maid, based on the life of Joan of Arc, self really wants to read The Maid.

Indulged Today, Last Friday of October 2011

Met, for the first time, a daughter of Manong Freddie’s and Manang Marilou’s.  Her name is Rina.  We met at Book Passage, then had lunch at Slanted Door.  The weather was gorgeous; we asked for a table outside.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bella the Beagle: Act IV in a Tremendously Long Life

Whenever hubby and self Skype (He’s visiting his Mom in Manila), self can’t help but remark that his eyebags are tremendous.  Well, you see, being in Manila, there are all these opportunities to go out at night and —  Self!  Cut it out!  You know you’re just jeal-jeal because when you were ensconced in Bacolod, you were too much of a fraidy cat to venture out on Lacson Street by yourself at night!  And your most adventurous cousin was off dancing at The Pavilion and you were not invited!  Oh yes, you did make it to Trattoria Uma or Café Uma once or twice, and yes the receptionists were all so worried about you because, as they put it, “Ma’am, you never go out?  What do you do?”  Once, the receptionist told her:  “Ma’am!  I saw you eating by yourself!  At a restaurant!”  After which, self made it a point to only venture as far as Ripples, which as most people in Bacolod know, is not exactly a purveyor of fine cuisine.  But it was too humiliating to eat by herself every night.  Geez, Bacolod is a really really small place.  One night, she attended mass in the Carmelite monastery in Mandalagan, and the next day, at least two different people told her they had seen her.  Worse, they had seen her leave right after Communion.

So, anyhoo, it has been a very peaceful sojourn, it really has, being at home in Redwood City, with the 16-year-old beagle Bella, who every night collapses on her pillow, ass pointed directly at self, the better to ensure that self gets the benefit of the full blast of her fruity, non-stop farts.

Hubby made self promise to lavish care on this ancient, and hubby certainly didn’t need to remind self, that after the sudden and shocking demise of poor Gracie (She died of a broken heart, self is sure of it, because self was so much away), we have only one dog left.  So self bought Bella a brand new doggie pillow!  And she changes the water in her water dish three times a day!  And takes her for daily walks!  No, not just daily, twice-daily walks!

It has come to pass that Bella finds it too much of a hassle to go outside when she wants to “do her business.”  For a week, self had to clean up puddles all over the living room and kitchen.  Until she realized that if she took Bella out for a walk in the morning, and another walk at night, Bella would then willingly do her business, and all self would have to do would be to encase the crap in plastic and then dump in the nearest trash can.

The daytime walks are quite pleasant, but at night, self is too lazy to change, and anyhoo she assumes all the neighbors are asleep or watching Gaddafi get bludgeoned to death on CNN or Fox News, so she always ventures out in — hold your breath! —  slouchy cargo pants, baggy T-shirt (sometimes with holes), and rubber slippers.  But, twice now, she has bumped into neighbors and has had to deliver really long explanations about why it is she and not hubby walking the dog now, and isn’t it sad about the sudden demise of Gracie (Yes, it really is sad.  Self did not stop crying for a month), and have you seen the cat that belonged to the other neighbors, and what part of the Philippines do you come from, and so forth.

So, after stumbling home, Bella is suddenly awfully frisky, and just will not settle down.  Until self gives her a cookie (Boy, it didn’t take long for this creature to figure out how to extract maximum attention from self!).

After the night walk, and the picking up of the crap, and the cookie, Bella is now ready to doze off.  Strangely, it is always at this point when self is suddenly seized by a mad desire to write.  And the stories she’s been writing, these past few weeks have been crazy!  Absolutely crazy!  One was set in a desert in the year 4546, another was set on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center, and yet another took place in Redwood City, in a house remarkably similar to the one self presently resides in.  Yup, self is on an absolute tear (that is, where her writing is concerned).  And just to prove it, her Submishmash account is suddenly hectic with colors:  blue (for In Progress), green (for Accepted) and red (for Declined).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

In Anticipation of Charles Dickens’ 200th Birthday in Feb 2012

2012 will be a good year.  Charles Dickens is turning 200 in February 2012.  This self learns from reading The Economist of 1 October 2011.

The magazine reviews two Dickens biographies, as well as “an unauthorized autobiography” of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, an exposé by former Obama staffer Ron Suskind, and a new mystery by Robert Harris, The Fear Index.

But self means to focus on Dickens.

First, he was no different from you and self.  That is, he lived in an age when “writing was hardly a proper job.”  More plausible alternatives:  “legal clerk” “courtroom and parliamentary shorthand reporter,” journalist.  The author of Becoming Dickens:  The Invention of a Novelist maintains that “the question of alternatives, of the road not taken, fascinated Dickens.”  At 20, Dickens “had been on the point of auditioning as an actor.”  A stint in a “blacking factory” changed his life:  “It opened the crack in his imagination through which he saw, a hair’s breadth away, a whole world of other sorts of life . . . ”

The other biography is written by Claire Tomalin.  Stop right there!  Even without reading a further word of this review, self knows she will read Tomalin’s Charles Dickens:  A Life.  It all began with Tomalin’s biography of Samuel Pepys (Samuel Pepys:  The Unequalled Self —  which, by the way, gave self the first idea of writing this blog, as self!), which self took along with her on a flight from San Francisco to Berlin.  She was five days in Berlin, in a hotel right next to a river  (Self will never forget that barges tied up right next to the hotel, and people could take one to get to a museum.  She thinks she can recall a destination called  Museum Island)  It was her first time in Berlin, but she simply could not put Tomalin’s book down.  It was super-thick, and everyone on the plane (both going and returning) who was close enough to self to notice how intently she was reading ended up initiating conversation.  Which was extremely fortuitous, especially on the flight to Berlin, because her seatmate was a young architect who told her she simply must try a Turkish meal at Oranienstrasse.

Back to Dickens!

Here’s what The Economist has to say about Tomalin’s Charles Dickens:  A Life:

She tells a story.  Clear-eyed, sympathetic and scholarly, she spreads the whole canvas, alive with incident and detail, with places and people.  She writes of publishers, illustrators, collaborators and all Dickens’s intersecting circle of friends and family.

And there’s more:

. . .  almost nothing can be said of Dickens of which the opposite was not also true.  Dickens’ own daughter Katey, who “loved him immeasurably,” still described him as “a wicked man.”  She was thinking of her mother Catherine, so passive, so overlooked and so constantly pregnant (they had ten children).

Which bears out self’s opinion that when writers are really, really good, it’s damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.  They sacrifice everything —  yes, even family, even friendship —  in service to their muse, their belief in themselves is so uncanny and so unshakable.

Stay tuned.

The 2011 Scream Awards (Spike TV)

This Awards Show is definitely more fun than the MTV Movie Awards, and of course way more entertaining than the Oscars, the Golden Globes, the People’s Choice Awards, or any other.

For one thing, the costumes are fan-TAS-tic!  All exotic feathers, glitter, blackened eyes, sumptuous velvet, zombies, Harold & Kumar  . . .

Quentin Tarantino is unleashed, everyone gets to show off their cool leather jackets, and there is even a category for Best Mutilation (In this category, something called The Reverse Bear Trap, from “Saw 3D:  the Final Chapter.” Self shudders to think).  As well as glimpses of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ann Hathaway, and Gary Oldman, accepting the award for Most Anticipated Movie (for “Dark Knight Rises”).

Thank goodness, NO nominations for R-Patz, K-Stew, and only one self knows of for “Harry Potter,” though the latter did win one major award category (Self forgets:  Was it something like, Best Movie of the Decade?)

The year the MTV Movie Awards stopped being fun was when “Twilight” appeared.  Because every single year after that, “Twilight” or one of its clones won Best Movie.  Yaawn.

Anyhoo, back to the Scream Awards.  Bradley Cooper accepts the award (Best Thriller) for his movie “Limitless,” which was a bad movie but was certainly better than “Red.”

Nic Cage is inducted into the Scream Hall of Fame.

Darren Aronofsky wins Best Director for “Black Swan.”

Some British actor wins “Best Science Fiction Actor” for his performance as Dr. Who (He beat out Daniel Craig —  for “Cowboys and Aliens” —  and Chris Evans aka Captain America, imagine that!!!)

As far as self can tell, the only celluloid vampires up for an award are the ones in “Let Me In” (which wins as Best Horror Movie).  Wait, that’s not quite right:  “True Blood” was up for Best TV Show (The winner in this category:  “Game of Thrones”)

Best Science Fiction Movie was “Super 8.”

Kate Beckinsale makes an excellent sartorial choice in choosing to appear in purest white (She looked great).  Self loved Chloe Moretz’s black lace dress (She’s growing up faaast!)  There was a preview of the new Sherlock Holmes movie.  And of the new Nic Cage-as-Ghost Rider movie.

Cuba Gooding, Jr., standing next to George Lucas, delivers the best line of the night:  “I know what you all are thinking:  Finally, some black men!”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Fun-Nest Sunday Ever!

Dear Niece G was very kind to spend Sunday with her dotty aunt.  We met at the Menlo Park Farmers Market, strolled along Santa Cruz Avenue.  Self showed niece her favorite stationers store — Village Stationers, of course!  We also browsed through Penzey’s Spices and looked at aprons in Harvest.

The original plan was to see “Take Shelter,” showing at the Menlo Guild, but we ended up driving back to Redwood City and eating at Crouching Tiger, teensy restaurant on Broadway featuring spicy Sichuan food.  We each ordered a lunch special (which included soup and rice).  Mongolian Beef, Scallion Lamb and two appetizers came out to a grand total of about $25.  What a deal!

Then we went to the Century 20, and self said she was willing and able to watch any movie (except “Moneyball” or “Drive”).  She suggested “Footloose,” but niece hadn’t even seen the original, and really, how can anything compare to the young Kevin Bacon?  So then, self suggested the re-make of “The Thing,” but niece was not too into horror.  So we ended up watching “Real Steel.”  And it was hugely enjoyable (at least self thought it was).  It was like “Rocky,” only with robots.  And it was set in the near future (sometime after 2014).  And Evangeline Lilly is, like, really really ripped (and adorable).  And Hugh Jackman looks really good, and —  self!  Can’t you ever deliver a serious review?

Well, once niece leaned over and commented:  “Wow, this movie is really doing the product placement!”  And after that, self began to notice all the banners for Bing and ESPN and Sprint.  But until niece made the comment, self was completely oblivious.

Twice, niece bent over and whispered, “This is so corny!”

“Yeah,” self said, “but it’s really well done!  And Hugh Jackman looks really good!”

After the movie, we walked to Pampelmousse.  And niece was at first going to go for the cheesecake, but decided on a chocolate giandia something or other, and self had the tiramisu.  And in just one of several lucky breaks today, we made it just before the place closed for the day!

And then self drove niece home.  But first we walked around Valencia Street in the Mission.  Boy, has this street undergone an upgrade or what!  There are so many cute, trendy restaurants (whereas before, self remembers a faintly “grunge,” seedy air), and there are still bookstores like Dog-Eared Books and Borderlands Books, where the man behind the counter was named Jeremy and —  Jeremy!  Liza Erpelo’s Jeremy ???  Why, yes!  Self only recognized him after he asked her if she knew a writer named Zack Linmark.  “How,” self nearly shouted at him, “is Aubrey?” Oh my goodness, ooh la la, that was really serendipity.  And we ended up talking about —  of all things — that most surprising of Filipino speculative fiction personalities, Charles Tan!  And self mentioned that she happened to see Charles at the recent Manila International Book Festival!

Jeremy and Niece G, Borderlands Books, Valencia St., San Francisco

Self bought two copies of Paolo Bacigalupi’s young adult novel Ship Breaker, one for herself and one for niece (From the back cover:  “A gritty, high-stakes adventure set in a futuristic world where oil is scarce, but loyalty is scarcer.”  Sold!)  Then, self very regretfully had to drive home, even though niece invited her to sleep over (Sleep over with niece, whose apartment is right across the street from Philz Coffee and a place that sells the best lengua tacos, not to mention the pot shop that advertises the freshest Purple Kush — !  Though niece primly tells self, “for medicinal purposes only.” Good one, niece G!).  But self ruefully had to decline, for just in the nick of time she remembered that Bella, the ol’crit, was waiting for her at home.

At home, dear ol’ beagle Bella was waiting, famished.  It’s a good thing self had the foresight to make a large pot of chicken apritada yesterday!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Nice Things About Today (Third Saturday of October 2011)

The weather was again gorgeous.

The Cl. New Dawn began blooming again, a few days ago.

Self made chicken apritada, and the potatoes were fully cooked this time.  Gosh, she’s forgotten how much she enjoys cooking, even for one!

Her variegated bougainvillea started to throw out bright, magenta blooms —  first time this year!

She found a good movie she wants to see:  “Take Shelter.”  It’s showing at the Menlo Guild.  The Guild featured “Midnight in Paris” all summer, from May until just a few weeks ago, when “Midnight in Paris” moved to the Aquarius, in downtown Palo Alto.

Self took Bella to have her nails filed.  And the groomer threw in a proper ear cleaning.  And an oatmeal bath.  Of course, these additional services were not free, but —  you have no idea how gross it is to clean a beagle’s ears, dear blog readers!  Self thinks it well worth the cost to have the groomer do it!

She purchased a ticket for son, so he can come home for Thanksgiving.  The ticket was about $120 more than it would have cost on any other weekend.  But it was either that or chance him driving his ’92 Civic, which still has a hole in the radiator.  As they used to say in those Mastercard commercials :  Peace of Mind = Priceless.

Self also found time to read Rotten Tomatoes reviews of “50/50.”  She also read Readers’ Comments.  There is just no satisfying some people.  There was a reader who described Gordon-Levitt as “sleepwalking” through all his roles.  Wasn’t his performance supposed to project numbness?  The numbness of shock?  And yet, you got the sense that there was life underneath, a spark.  And it was so nice seeing the flirtation between Anna Kendrick’s character and Gordon-Levitt’s.  It’s not over-played.  Anyhoo, self really did enjoy the movie.

She has begun a new book:  Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Imperial Life in the Emerald City.  She loves the title, it is just so sumptuously ironic.  This is a book about Americans in Iraq —  and how can there be any understanding between such disparate cultures as Iraq and the United States when, as Chandrasekaran writes: “most of the” American “staff had never worked outside the United States.  More than half, according to one estimate, had gotten their first passport in order to travel to Iraq.”

Hubby is going bird-watching in Manila.  Friends are picking him up and taking him to La Mesa Dam.  Self did wonder why hubby was so dressed.  If this were indeed a nature trek of some kind, shouldn’t one wear ratty clothes, not a polo shirt and khakis???  Whatever.  Hubby seemed thrilled, absolutely thrilled, to be going on this expedition.

There has only been one untoward happening during his stay (so far):  yesterday, a cousin called and asked hubby where he was.  Weren’t they supposed to be having dinner together?  And hubby had gone to his sister’s, and was at that moment already partaking of a delicious sinigang she had made especially for him.  Just a minor mis-communication.  She hopes hubby’s cousin did not take it personally.

Cl. New Dawn, a Slightly Closer View (The flowers were at their peak two days ago -- darn, if only self had taken the picture then!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Absolutely Bursting With Lists Today (2nd Friday of October 2011)

Today the weather was gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous.  Warm, for October.  The only person wearing a sweater was self.

And, for the second time in less than a week, a black Pilot Precise V-7 Rolling Ball pen has flaked out on her.  First, one blew up all over her fingers while she was writing, and today another one dried up, just like that, even though she’d barely begun using it.

What on earth is going on ???

Today, self passed on the Occupy Wall Street excitement in San Mateo and instead buried herself in the Stanford library stacks.  Surprisingly, for such a gorgeous day, the stacks were full of students.  One blonde young man (dressed all in black) interrupted self to ask for directions about using the reference catalogue, apparently mistaking self for a librarian (Okey dokey, that is the last time self wears an all-brown outfit.  It may do wonders for Luisa Igloria, but for self it’s another matter entirely.  If dear blog readers are unable to fully grasp self’s import, please refer to Facebook Chat of a few days ago, regarding outfits worn by Mz. Luisa to the recently concluded Old Dominion U Literary Festival.)

Self doesn’t know what made her get up and go to the Library.  Was it the weather?  Was it because she was tired of sitting at home and having Bella the beagle fart in her face?  Was she in need of some exercise (though reading a book in the Stanford stacks does not, technically, qualify as exercise)?  Was it because, hours earlier, she had just watched a real weeper (not in a bad way):  “50/50”?

This movie was notable for

  • Featuring the first Seth Rogen performance self has liked since “Forty-Year-Old Virgin.”  He actually seemed to be playing a character, as opposed to just being Seth Rogen.
  • Being the first movie of 2011 that caused self to cry at the end.

Honestly, self didn’t shed a single tear at the end of “The Debt,” even though the ending was so unutterably sad, and here she was at the end of “50/50”, weeping like she can’t remember doing at any movie since watching Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams in “The Time Traveler’s Wife.”  And this movie wasn’t even a rom-com.

Self thinks that Joseph Gordon Levitt is an amazing actor who has really pulled off a serious career.  One had no right to expect anything like this of him after “Third Rock.”  Because he was so good in that sit-com, self means.  But, in a surprising career turn, he did a small indie film called “Mysterious Skin,” and she’s just about fallen in love with every character he’s played since then (with the exception of that Batman movie).

There is one scene in “50/50,” close to the beginning, where he breaks the news about his cancer to Seth Rogen, and Seth Rogen blurts out the most thoughtlessly appalling things, and Gordon-Levitt just looks at him, simply looks at him.  And he doesn’t blink or say anything or even have to move a muscle.  The camera stays on his face, stays on his face, and we’re there.  We’re so there.  We’re in that awful situation where you are you (the victim, the cancer-sufferer) and everyone else is Seth Rogen:  thoughtless, tactless, and also bursting with vigor and, most unbearable of all,  cancer-free.

Anyhoo, perhaps as a result of watching this movie, self was in a very “Gather-ye-rosebuds-while-ye-may” mood, which translated to — HA HA HA —  going to the Stanford Library Stacks.

As she was leaving the stacks in a state of intellectual stupefaction, she noticed how many young people were about.  These were not tour groups of blasé high schoolers being herded about by a Stanford undergrad —  no, these were people who were presumably already ensconced in the hallowed halls of Wilbur (exclusively for freshmen) or Mirrielees or one of the row houses.  They were uniformly clad in jeans, and the girls were laughing, and some bikers stopped very courteously so that self could cross the street without having to run and dodge, and she thought:  What nice young people! Also, self had this secondary thought:  Stanford students are certainly improving in the looks department! Yes, dear blog readers, there was a time when Stanford was known for its dearth of good-looking students (though Jennifer Connelly did graduate from here, with a degree in English), and if son had a choice today between Stanford or UCLA or any other school, implementing his yardstick of “school of choice” (which was:  Which campus has the prettiest girls?), honestly he would never have picked Stanford.  But that’s neither here nor there.

When self got home, she immediately began to water and then she turned on the TV, and then she saw that the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrators in New York had had some kind of tussle with police (And, dear blog readers, take it from self:  One never wants to tussle with a New York City policeman.  Because they are about three times the size of Redwood City policemen.  Not only that, their stares could freeze your blood.  One almost hit Dearest Mum and self when we were crossing the street near the UN, because unbeknownst to us Ahmadinajab had just entered the vicinity to deliver an address.  Really, unless there were signs posted, saying:  No one is allowed to cross First Avenue while Ahmadinajab is in the UN,  she doesn’t see why the man in the police car almost ran down Dearest Mum and self.  Self feels sure that if Penny had been with us, she would have yelled at the policeman, the way only a New Yorker can yell.)

Anyhoo, there was quite a to-do in New York, and thankfully a policeman was only caught slugging one person (Self thinks it was a woman dressed in a green T-shirt).

OMG, self almost forgot!  Self caught a preview of a new Sam Worthington movie, “Man on a Ledge,” which was noteworthy because:

  • It proves that Sam Worthington, even with longer, 70s-style locks, is still cute.
  • It confirms that Dear Sam has more facial expressions than anyone thought he was capable of:  at least, there were at least three or four different ones on display in this preview.
  • Jamie Bell is also in this movie.  Now, whenever self sees Jamie Bell in a movie, no matter what, self says to herself:  This is a movie I’ve simply got to see!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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