Ancient Battles, Still

When, oh when, dear blog readers must be thinking, will self ever be through with Adrian Goldsworthy’s massive Julius Caesar:  Life of a Colossus?  At the rate self has been crawling along, she’ll still be reading this book in a month’s time, and her library fine will be humongous.

At this moment, self is on p. 420.  The dueling generals are Caesar and his erstwhile father-in-law, Pompey.  Caesar is younger (if only by six years), and the more wily and experienced general.  But Pompey believes he has the right of Roman law on his side.  Pompey has just launched a series of attacks on Caesar’s fortified lines:

The Commentaries proudly reported the bravery of Caesar’s legionaries.  In one sector, three cohorts of the Ninth held off an entire legion supported by large numbers of allied archers and slingers.  After a day of bitter fighting, virtually every one of the defenders was wounded, although clearly a good number were still able and willing to fight.  Most of the wounds were caused by missles — 30,000 arrows are said to have been picked up within the fort after the last attacks had been beaten off.  Four out of the six centurions in one cohort were hit in the face and lost an eye.  The shield of one centurion, a man named Scaeva, had been hit by no less than 120 missiles.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Tonight’s Oscar Tele-Cast — Not!

As self happened to mention in previous blog post, she is going through Oscar withdrawal symptoms.  For the first time in who-knows-how-many years, self will not be watching tonight’s awards ceremony because she is the guest at a dinner in her honor in Menlo Park.

Never mind that she’s not that enthusiastic about this year’s crop of Best Picture Nominees.  She will still “lay it on the line” for her Oscar favorites, and check back on the winners as soon as she gets home.

Caveat:  Self still hasn’t seen “The Artist.”  At this point, watching it feels awfully redundant, since it cleaned up so many “Best Actor” awards already.  She hasn’t seen “Extremely Loud, Incredibly Close” because it’s about 9/11, and she’d rather write her own 9/11 story instead of watching someone else’s.  She hasn’t seen “The Help” because it reminds her of herself in the Philippines:  Daughter of (Horrors!) Rich White Southern Family Stands Up for the Equality of Domestic Servants!  She lives that script, she doesn’t need to watch a movie about it.

She hasn’t seen “Moneyball” because she hasn’t liked the last three or four movies with Brad Pitt.  She hasn’t seen “The Tree of Life” for the same reason.  She hasn’t seen “War Horse” because it is Spielberg in semi-nostalgic mode.

Of the Best Movie Nominees self has seen, she favors “The Descendants” (So Bacolod.  Really)

And now to the ostensible reason for this post:  Meryl Streep.

From the 23 January 2012 issue of The New Yorker, self learns that, not too long ago, La Streep “invited a dozen of Britain’s most influential female journalists to a dinner, to be cooked by” none other than herself.  The journalists were all agog (According to the article, one of them tweeted:  “Meryl Streep is five feet 6 inches.  Does that mean flats for Islington kitchen table supper on Saturday night?”)

According to the article (written by Lauren Collins):  “In the States, The Iron Lady is a movie, but in Britain it’s a litmus test.”  In other words, Margaret Thatcher the politician is as polarizing in Britain as Sarah Palin is over here.

Thatcher was the woman who once said (quote via Mitt Romney, Jan. 6, New Hampshire):  “Sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money.”

The movie, according to the article, portrays an “aged, doddering Thatcher” who spends all her time “watching home videos in her housecoat and drinking too much Scotch.”

The film was widely viewed in Britain (“took in more than three million dollars” —  by way of contrast, “The Queen,” starring Helen Mirren, earned “about a third as much”)

More:  “In Chesterfield, a group of former female coal workers, calling themselves the Real Iron Ladies picketed the multiplexes.”

Which brings to self’s mind where she and the husband were on Friday evening:  self had gotten tickets to Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company (If self had known how controversial this group was, she might have thought twice, but no.  Not aware of the slightest breath of scandal concerning the “Brand Israel” event, self plunked down her credit card.  When we got to the theater, we saw a few picketers.  “Watch this ballet if you support the government of Bibi Netanyahu,” intoned one woman, handing self a pamphlet.  Inside the Novellus Theater, we encountered a collection of modishly clad young ladies —  most in heavy boots, sheer black tights, short frilly skirts, and leather jackets — and some businesswomen types who were in charge of herding the audience unmolested to their seats.  That was when self learned she had plunked down the big bucks for what was only to be an hour of performance.  Even in New York, you get at least an hour and a half of dance performance for each show.  Grrrr)

And now, self finds it impossible to return to the subject of Margaret Thatcher and La Streep’s fabulous dinner for the influential British journalists (Streep greeted the guests at the door, “barefoot and flanked by a dog.”  In return, a journalist described the dinner prepared by Streep as “a student supper, but done in a much more swish way.”)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

New Thus Far in 2012

For the first time ever in the history of the Oscars, self will be unable to watch tomorrow’s show.  Why?  Because she has been invited to dinner by the Robbianos!  And if she doesn’t attend tomorrow’s dinner, she will have forfeited a chance to catch up with the family who self first rented rooms from, when she was a very very green Stanford graduate student from the Philippines, still getting used to the idea of biking to campus from Menlo Park!

Let’s see, it’s almost the end of February.  In terms of travel, this has been a helluva two months.  Since January, self has:

  • been to India and experienced firsthand the glories of:  New Delhi, Dharamsala, Bir, and Amritsar.
  • Learned that Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, and Ed Norton were all in Manila, at the end of January, in connection with the filming of The Bourne LegacySpecifically, in Intramuros.
  • been to Ontario (Calif) and seen her first Cirque du Soleil show (OVO) in over a decade.  Watched son dance (and discovered that he is one helluva dancer:  how the husband and self pulled this off, when we are the kind of people who are famous for having two left feet, is beyond comprehension)
  • made travel arrangements for going to the Smithsonian in April, for the Edgar P. Richardson Symposium:  Asian American Portraits of Encounter Between Image & Word — and for the first time ever in the history of self’s readings, The Man has agreed to come along!  Self is dying of nervousness.  Because now, now The Man will realize the full extent of her craziness!

As to her reading, self has:

  • Spent almost one month reading a book.  Which hasn’t happened since self was in Bacolod, January 2011 (Then, the book she was reading, which took almost a month to get through, was Antonio Muñoz Molina’s Sepharad).  The book that has had her mesmerized for the past couple of weeks?  Adrian Goldsworthy’s Julius Caesar:  Life of a Colossus (She’s down to reading about five pages a day.  Which means this book will be very very overdue at the Redwood City Library)
  • Discovered that Rowena Tiempo-Torrevillas’ short story “Sunday Morning” is better than The Hunger Games!

As to her writing, after a veritable storm of rejections (“We liked the concept behind this, but overall felt that it was a little too over-manufactured in terms of voice”; “Although the narration is emotionally resonant it does not fit our current needs”), she has her first acceptance of 2012!  Yaaaay!

Moreover, self has made the most amazing discovery: she has learned that she is actually capable of revising a whole novella in one sitting.  Which is a very, very good thing to know —  wouldn’t you agree, dear blog readers?  (Of course, it also means that now self has an extremely painful neck.  A moment ago, the husband cracked open the door and peeked in, and caught self in the act of clutching her head.  Which makes her feel —  Aaargh!  Who cares!  Get back to work, woman!)

Stay tuned.

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