Memorable Halloween Outfits (Of Yore) on the Morning Shows

Self is just coming out with the blog posts — words are cascading like avalanches these days!

One of the pleasures of Halloween is watching what the morning talk show hosts do for the day. Last year, self did something on the Weather Man for Channel x, the one who’s lost a lot of weight? Drat, what is his name again?

Anyhoo, courtesy of Buzzsugar, the outfits (of course, from Halloweens past):

And, this just in:   Did anyone see the guy who partners Nancy Grace in Dancing with the Stars? Adorable!  This week, they are going to do the rumba and supposedly bringing sexy back.  Quick, everyone, vote for Nancy Grace!  Self wants to see her partner stay in the competition for as long as possible!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Finding Sasha Pimentel Chacon in GULF COAST

Self has a subscription to Gulf Coast. (What, you didn’t know that self has a subscription to at least a score of lit mags? Well, now you do!)

Anyhoo, as self was thumbing through the pages of the thick, fat Summer/Fall 2011 issue, she stumbled across a familiar name: Sasha Pimentel Chacon!

It’s really wonderful:  the issue has at least three of her poems.  Since self has this idiosyncratic habit of beginning each journal from the back, the first of Sasha’s poems that she read was “In Their Dark Habits.”  It begins with this epigraph:

There have been hundreds of complaints in Juarez to the official state . . .  of the military murdering people, kidnapping people, torturing people, raping people, robbing people.

—  Charles Bowden, April 2010

The poem begins:

In Their Dark Habits

of skin, the soldiers watch
a girl, their machine guns propped
on cars every four feet, trained
in.

!!!!!

The poem literally grabs the reader by the throat — the image of the girl, the soldiers, the anxiety, the terror, the everything, all come together in the poem’s anguished expression.

Self flipped the pages, encountered the second of Sasha’s poems, “Safely Watching a Solar Eclipse.”  This one is in shapely two-line stanzas.  Self loves to read poetry but she herself is no poet so she can’t immediately identify the form. She thinks Eugene Gloria had a book that was all poetry in this form.  Or is the book self is thinking of really D. A. Powell’s Cocktail?  (Perhaps —  here self has to dredge deep in her memory —  this is a ghazal?)

The last of Sasha’s poems (which is actually the first, if you read Gulf Coast the way normal people do — that is, from the beginning) is “On a Business Meeting in Bulacan with the Uncle You’ve Heard Beats His Wife.”

Here’s part of it:

Because you haven’t seen him
for more than twenty years, you take his hand

and press it to your forehead as custom,
God’s voice speaking through

the clasp of his hand and your skin, your skin
sweating to find the mosquitos wading

over his knuckles and your lashes, and his wife, beside you, suddenly
quiet before this man who looks like your father

Sasha, your words are shattering.  Thanks much, Gulf Coast, for publishing this wonderfully gifted young poet!

Come to think of it, self seems to recall getting an e-mail notice about Sasha having a collection out this year.  Aaargh, what with all the travelling she’s been doing, she can’t recall the title.  (Never fear:  Google is here!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Envy and Jealousy: The New York Times Explains the Difference For You

Self is on the Science section of yesterday’s New York Times.  So fascinating!  The Times and The Economist have the best Science reporters.

In an article on p. D2, Times writer John Tierney explains the difference between envy and jealousy.  It seems that researchers at Texas Christian University and the University of Texas-Austin were doing a study to examine “quintessential envy, which is distinct from jealousy.  Envy involves a longing for what you don’t have, while jealousy is provoked by losing something to someone else.  If you crave a wife like Angelina Jolie, you’re envious of Brad Pitt; if you’re upset about losing your wife to him, you’re jealous.”

So here’s how the researchers conducted their study:

They showed college students a half dozen bogus newspaper interviews and photographs of other purported students at their school.  Female students saw photos of other young women, while male students saw photos of other men.  Both sexes saw a similar mix of people, including some described by the researchers as “advantaged peers.”

In the photographs, some of the fictitious students were hot and some were not.  The interviews revealed clear disparities in wealth.  One mentioned owning a new BMW; another drove an old clunker.  One had a parent on the board of trustees of the school, another received financial aid.

As the real students went through each of these profiles, the researchers asked them about their own emotions and measured how long they spent studying each one.  Sure enough, they spent more time contemplating the ones toward which they expressed envy:  the good-looking students with new BMWs and rich parents.  And afterward they were better able to recall the names and other details of these “high-envy targets.”

The results show that envy can “evoke a functionally coordinated cascade of cognitive processes . . .  ”  One of the researchers, Sarah E. Hill, said, “We can’t get our minds off people who have advantages we want for ourselves.”

Self really loves the term “high-envy targets.”  She doesn’t consider Jolie a “high-envy target.”  Who, then, are self’s “high-envy targets”?  Good one.  She’ll have to ponder that a bit more.

Okay, how about this:  Any writer younger than 30 who’s already been anointed by Granta or The New Yorker as “The Next Great American Writer.”  Talk about having “the whole world on a plate” — !

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Who Are We? The U.S. Census Bureau Has Answers

Self discovered from The New York Times today that the U. S. Census Bureau has released its 2012 Statistical Abstract of the United States.  So that dear blog readers will be spared the ordeal of paging through the 1,400-page print edition, self will summarize highlights from The New York Times article, which was written by reporter Sam Roberts.

  • We are more likely to play computer games than to do crossword puzzles.
  • The state of Iowa has six times as many hogs as people (“For the record, hogs outnumbered people in Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska as well as in Iowa, which counted 3 million human residents and 19 million hogs.”)
  • 26.6 million households rely on cellphones rather than land lines.
  • One in 13 women in their early 20s self-identify as gay or bisexual.
  • In 2009, “blacks, who represent less than 13 percent of the population, outnumbered whites arrested for murder, robbery and suspicion.”
  • Half of respondents “said they had not dined out during the previous year.”
  • In a one-year period (2008 – 2009), the number of 18- 24-year-old men who smoke “rose to 28 percent from 23.6 percent.”
  • Since the last census (in 2000), “there were fewer gas stations” and “a lot more walk-in health care clinics. There were also more liquor stores, bars and health and personal care establishments.”
  • “Montana had the highest motor vehicle accident death rate.”
  • “Fewer doctoral degrees were awarded in library science, engineering and computer science, while the number increased in business, the health professions and philosophy.”

In 2009, the U.S. Census Bureau employed son as a census-taker, which enabled him to remain in San Luis Obispo over the summer instead of going home.  Son imparted that he had to hand out census forms to the homeless who slept under bridges and to the residents of migrant camps.  More than once, when he’d knock on the door of a shack on some out-of-the-way farm, there would be an explosion of movement from behind the door, and he’d hear a voice say urgently, “La migra!”  More than once, someone set dogs on him.  After a while, he found it easier to do his census-taking after midnight.

“But don’t you need to be awake to fill out a census form?” self said, incredulous.

“Not necessarily,” son replied, with the most absolute poker face.  “It’s easier to count the homeless when they’re sleeping.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Amazing Strength

Self is at home, watching Anderson Live.  His guest is Carré Otis, former supermodel and also the ex-wife of Mickey Rourke.  Watching the interview, and how adroitly Cooper elicits the information that the audience needs to know, self can’t help but admire his conversational dexterity. She even thinks:  Could Anderson Cooper possibly be the next Oprah? The subjects of the interview ranged from body image to eating disorders to Nicole Brown Simpson to spousal abuse.  It was an extremely fascinating (and very Oprah-like)  interview.

Then, self decides to look for portraits of women in Bacolod.  Why?  Because she likes taking pictures of people!  Here are several:

Gemma and Weng are sisters. They trade off cooking responsibilities at the Negros Museum Café

The Girl from "Scoops," an ice cream place that has opened right next to Café Uma : Self loves the girl's gentle smile.

Manang Marilou is the mother of three lovely children

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Missed Mary Oliver Reading at Stanford

How sad self is to miss Mary Oliver’s reading at Stanford this evening!  But none of the people she invited could make it, and it would feel lonely.

Instead, self is going to spend a cozy evening at home.  Late yesterday, she stumbled across an anthology of Chinese poetry that Prof. James J. Y. Liu used in his Chinese poetry classes at Stanford (He was a very endearing man.  He always kept a scarf around his throat.  He died of cancer, oh years and years ago).

Although self’s avowed major was East Asian Studies, with a concentration in Chinese, she had never read much Chinese poetry (except for Li Po, and all she knew about Li Po was that he was often drunk, or seemed so)

The anthology she has is called Sunflower Splendor:  Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry, co-edited by Wu-Chi Liu and Irving Yucheng Lo.  Self keeps turning the pages, turning the pages, until she comes across her own handwriting, in blue ink, next to a poem by Tu Fu (712- 770):

Night Thoughts Aboard a Boat

A bank of fine grass and light breeze,
A tall-masted solitary night boat.
Stars descend over the vast white plain;
The moon bolts in the Great River’s flow.
Fame: Is it ever to be won in literature?
Office: I should give up, old and sick.
Floating, floating, what am I like?
Between earth and sky, a gull alone.

(Translated by James J. Y. Liu and Irving Y. Lo)

And here is what self wrote beneath the poem, in blue ink: “Gull — a symbol of freedom.”  Funny, she doesn’t quite “get” that interpretation of the gull.  Perhaps it was self at twenty-one who was reading into it what she needed in her life at that time!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The 99 % Speak Up in San Mateo

Make Wall Street Pay

Jobs not Cuts

Friday in San Mateo

Host:  Cilla R., MoveOn member

Where:  Bridge at Alameda de las Pulgas and Highway 92 (in San Mateo)

When:   Friday, Oct. 14, 4 p.m.

Can you come?

What:  The media is finally starting to pay attention to the tens of thousands of people demanding Wall Street pay to create jobs, not cuts.  This is our chance to push for policies that work for the 99% of us who can’t afford lobbyists.  Whether protesting banks not paying their fair share, rallying for jobs, or standing in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, we’ll amplify our message for politicians:  jobs now —  make Wall Street pay!

Lorrie Moore’s 9/11, in the 12 September 2011 New Yorker (Moore Discusses “the Fictional Normal”)

Like many people, I watched 9/11 on television from a thousand miles away.  Also like many people, I found myself asking, among the dozens of terrified questions that crossed my mind, Do I know anyone who works in the World Trade Center?  I was pretty sure that I didn’t.  And I was about to relax ever so slightly and guiltily, when I suddenly remembered —  wait a minute —  that my brother worked there.  Or had.  He’d been there during the first bombing, in 1993, and I wasn’t certain whether the state administrative office he worked for was still situated there.

It turned out that his office had moved just across the street.  My brother was in the W. T. C. subway station when the first tower was hit and, after the second one was hit and the adjacent buildings were evacuated, my brother, covered in ash, and unreachable by anyone, walked eight hours home to Queens.  The next day?  He returned to work and sat there at his desk for two hours, waiting for others to show up —  until at last it became clear that not a single other person was going to.  And so he left.  The cough he already possessed became permanently worse.

*     *     *     *

The world is resilient . . .  no matter what interruptions occur, people so badly want to return to their lives and get on with them.  A veneer of civilization descends quickly . . .

Could the above possibly have anything to do with what Hannah Arendt, in Eichmann in Jerusalem, calls “the banality of evil”?  For instance, the way in which the Nazi guards kept such detailed daily records of movements of prisoners here and there, the idea of creating a bureaucracy of pain, the playing of classical music after mass murder, etc.?  Were these the Nazis’ attempt to create for themselves a “fictional normal”?  (Self, what are you on about now?  Why does a phrase like “the fictional normal” suddenly cause you to make a transcendent leap to the “banality of evil”?)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

2nd Sunday of October 2011: University Avenue, Downtown Palo Alto

The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.

Self found this little watercolor in son’s room today (His room is like a museum.  Step inside, and self half expects son to be lounging on the bed).  The painting was of bright orange lilies.  The quote, above the lilies, was identified simply as “Zen Wisdom.”

A few minutes ago, self checked her e-mail and found a message from son.  She just got back from Bacolod, and her nerves have been a-jangle.  This weekend, she was alone, since hubby is in Manila.  She walked Bella, whose tail wags every time, all throughout the walk, notwithstanding the fact that she is almost 16 years old.

Earlier in the day, self made the trek to the Apple Store on University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto, the store she considers the “mother ship.”  From a block away (She’d parked near Gelato Classico, because of course there’s no sense in self’s going to Palo Alto without partaking of her favorite indulgence), she didn’t notice anything unusual.  It was only as she was preparing to cross the last intersection that she noticed a small crowd standing before the entrance to the store.  They were all standing absolutely still, as if gathered for prayer.  The feeling was solemn (which, as anyone who’s ever walked around downtown Palo Alto knows, is far from being the general mood of the place).  And the windows of the store, from top to bottom, were covered with different colors of post-it notes.  Some notes had words, some had just a scrawl, some had dark ink hearts.  There were newspapers, folded open to articles about Jobs.  There were flowers, bunches and bunches of flowers.  There were orchids, there were potted plants.  The store was open, people were wandering in and out.  Most of the passersby stopped, and the ones with children reined them in and held them back from trampling the flowers.

And of all days, this was the day when self forgot to bring her camera.  Here’s a picture she took with her cell:

Apple Store, University Avenue, Downtown Palo Alto, the Sunday After Steve Jobs Passed Away

Today was also the day when:

  • Self placed her novella about a mail-order bride, Marife.  The e-mail was in her “In” box, early this morning.  She had sent the manuscript out in July.
  • Self got a letter asking her to submit to a new anthology.
  • Self got an acceptance for “Flight,” a story she wrote earlier this year.  Niece G has read it.  So has Lillian H.  Self e-mailed Lillian right away; she’ll wait for this Sunday to tell niece.

Self has stories in the current issues of Our Own Voice and Storysouth.  Another story has just been picked up by the Asian American Literary ReviewUsed Furniture Review is going to publish “Jesters.”  While she was in Bacolod, in September, she got an honest rejection from an editor who had quite a number of things to say about a six-page piece.

Self doesn’t know how or when she entered this zone.  She only knows that, along with Gracie’s passing, and three trips to Bacolod (She also had one in December, but that counts as 2010), 2011 is such an incredible year.

Mostly, self is grateful that she is still alive and kicking, that son is in a good Ph.D. program, that Bella is still alive and kicking, that she and hubby still own a house, that her garden made it through the summer with hardly any plants dying, and that she is still doing what she loves most, which is writing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Books Reviewed in The Economist of 13 August 2011

Here are the books (The Economist doesn’t publish the names of the reviewers):

  • Julie Salamon’s “engaging new biography” about American playwright Wendy Wasserstein, Wendy and the Lost Boys:  The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein
  • Belinda McKeon’s Solace, about a young couple who meet and fall in love “at a Dublin house party . . .  in the shadow of an old family feud” (The reviewer describes their meeting as “a Romeo and Juliet attraction.”)
  • Sebastian Barry’s newest novel, On Canaan’s Side, which is on the longlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize for Fiction:  “For Sebastian Barry, an Irish novelist and playwright, history is not passive but an active force that pursues his characters and clouts them over the head.”
  • Matthew Parker’s The Sugar Barons:  Family, Corruption, Empire and War in the West Indies, “a tumultuous roller coaster of a book.”
  • Jamil Ahmad’s first novel, The Wandering Falcon, “about the Pushtun and Baluchi tribes that make up Pakistan’s wild west.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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