Surprises of the Day: The San Francisco Chronicle Review of “Ice Age: Continental Drift”

San Francisco Chronicle, you are NO Guardian.

This fact self has had rubbed in her face today, while reading the review of Read the rest of this entry »

PHOEBE, Spring 2012 (Issue 41.1: The “Guts” Issue)

Cover art by Warren Craghead III. Craghead lives in Charlottesville, Virginia and has exhibited his work internationally. He has an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin.

Fiction in this issue:
Corina Bardoff’s A Good Life
Trevor J. Houser’s The Vast Hammocks of Maine
Toni Mirosevich’s Crackhead
Self’s All the Missing
Sean Carswell’s Another Beauty

Excerpts:

Hi.  Please lift that stone.  Good.  Hold it for a while.  Not too heavy?  Good . . .  Now put it over there.  Thanks.  Well.  Could you actually put it over there?  No, wait!  Hold it for a while.  Yeah.  Now over there.  Um. Could you pick up that one now? (from Corina Bardoff’s A Good Life)

I sit staring at the floor awake, a fascinating medley of underwater and wine stains.  How long have I been asleep?  I look out the window.  It is still light out.  Maybe it has been only a few minutes.  I go to the bathroom and hope it has only been a few minutes.  As I relieve myself I marvel at all the girly shampoos and conditioners.  I wonder which one makes her smell like Switzerland.  (from Trevor J. Houser’s The Vast Hammocks of Maine)

At 3 a.m., after the melatonin fails to work and the chamomile tea.  After the drops of valerian on the tongue, the Sleep-eze.  After the attempt to just lie there and think of all the things you’re grateful for, go ahead:  I am grateful for my loved one, this bed, the dogs, the dinner, a regular paycheck, damn that son of a bitch, how could I let him get away with that, oh . . .  (from Toni Mirosevich’s Crackhead)

They’re alive, all of them.
One day they’ll present, alive and well.
They’ll be older; a few may even have their first gray hairs.
They’ll come out of tents or basements or caves, or wherever it is they’ve been kept, all these years.
(from Marianne Villanueva’s All the Missing)

Carl made up a dead girlfriend to get the neo-Nazi at work off his back.  I wasn’t there.  I don’t know the whole story.  Carl doesn’t tell whole stories.  He drops fragments here and there.  I collect the fragments and glue them together.  (from Sean Carswell’s Another Beauty)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The “Restraint” Issue, PARABOLA, Summer 2005

Self keeps coming back and coming back to this issue of Parabola. Why?

In the opening essay, Lorraine Kisly writes:

The blessed freedom of not doing is of course a gift, and can never be generated by effort.  But will this gift appear without effort?  As is so often the case, the answer appears to be both yes —  and no.

“When you practice,” writes Master Sheng Yen in this issue, “you begin in the dark room of your ego.”  The passive and reactive state in which we live usually is one in which we certainly are constrained.  Whether termed defilements or sin, the self-enclosing grip of anger, hatred, vanity, and greed may only be dimly sensed but nonetheless it lies at the root of our wish for freedom.  It is within that grip that the search for freedom begins and effort begins as well.  Until the state of no-mind is reached we reside in the realm of gain and loss, he adds, “gain of wisdom and loss of vexation . . .  gain of clarity, loss of scatteredness and confusion.”  It is only through a long and patient practice, however, says Paul Reynard in our interview with him, that we are able to understand, through our own hard-won experience, that the ultimate nature of effort is to allow something to appear.”

On p. 45 of the same issue, there is a poem by C. P. Cavafy:

As Much As You Can

Even if you can’t shape your life the way you want,
at least try as much as you can
not to degrade it
by too much contact with the world,
by too much activity and talk.

Do not degrade it by dragging it along,
taking it around and exposing it so often
to the daily silliness
of social relations and parties,
until it comes to seem a boring hanger-on.

—  from C. P. Cavafy:  Collected Poems, translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard, Princeton University Press)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“The Good Wife” : Self Has Missed You!

Now that self is back, she jumps right into movie (“Magic Mike”: five stars!) and TV-watching mode.  She has a lot of catching up to do, as she has spent so much time traveling, what with those fabulous trips to India (New Delhi, Bir, Dharamsala, Amritsar) and Bacolod and Europe (London, Scotland, the Netherlands, Paris).  Self’s passport is down to its last free (i.e., un-stamped) page.

So, no wonder self momentarily forgets what is important to view this Sunday, and starts watching something with Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne and Howard Stern, something with a group of Filipino teen-agers trying to do the Chinese Lion Dance, and an amazingly boneless kid with a Wesley-Snipes-in-Fifth-Element do.

But, in short order, self realizes how inane that show is, switches channels and lands on Entertainment Tonight (with no sound, something’s wrong with the damn TV).  Along the bottom of the TV screen, self sees a word scrolling from left to right:  BENADRYL  BENADRYL  BENADRYL

Hmmm, what a coincidence.  Since self has returned from Europe, she has been madly searching for Benadryl in:

  • Costco
  • Walgreen’s
  • Safeway
  • CVS

and come up Empty.  Empty.  Empty.

Drat!  Now comes a picture of the late Whitney Houston.  Still no sound!

Back to the words scrolling across the bottom of the screen:  BENADRYL  BENADRYL  BENADRYL

Holy Cow!  Was there some connection between Whitney’s death and Benadryl?  Oh, say it ain’t so!  Benadryl is the only thing that soothes self’s insomnia nights, and —

She moves along one more channel, and now:

THE GOOD WIFE!

Forget Whitney!  And the Benadryl!  It’s been so long since self’s eyes were treated to the sight of a good-looking young man in a sharp suit.  Of course — who else could self be referring to? — she means Matt Czuchry!

Self thinks back.  When was the last time she saw an episode of this show?  Bacolod!  L’Fisher Chalet!  Way back in March!  Back to the show:

Julianna Margulies aka Alicia Florrick has been called before a Grand Jury to tell what she knows of her boss’s depravity. During her time on the stand, the prosecuting attorney asks Alicia if she ever had an improper relationship with her boss. At which point, Julianna Margulies’ red red mouth starts to tremble ever so slightly. Eventually, she leans over and gives our favorite bad-boy-lawyer-with-great-hair Matt Czuchry the ET-TU-BRUTUS? look. High drama there, dear blog readers!

How’s this for a “Get Lost” line, don’cha just love it —

Peter Florrick to lawyer in fab pink jacket:  “Thank you for your service.  My assistant will validate your parking.”

Is this not indisputably the best “You’re fired” line since “The Apprentice”??!!

But pink-jacket does not quite “get” the import.  It is necessary to be very plain.  Mr. Florrick says, no mincing words now:

    “Do what you gotta do.  Now get out of my office!”

Yay!  Peter Florrick gives the boot to that nasty lawyer who exposed Alicia’s affair with her boss, Will Gardner!  Because, after all, Alicia is still Peter’s wife!  And therefore deserving of some respect!

Other highlights of this episode:  Alan Cumming receives a call and says, “Nonsense, you know I’m five minutes to an important meeting.  You’re just trying to throw me off my game.”

Everything about this show is so wicked and pointed and “double-entendré.” Until the next season of “Revenge,” this show will have to do.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Serious Sunday: Reading Andrew S. Ross’s THE BOTTOM LINE in the San Francisco Chronicle

Self reading the San Francisco Chronicle of Friday, 13 July 2012.  There’s a very interesting column by Andrew S. Ross in the Business section.  Here are some salient points:

  • Hospitals in the San Mateo area charged a median price of $48,000 for a cesarean section in 2010; in San Diego, the same procedure was priced at $20,000.
  • A hip replacement in Alameda County cost $133,000, while in Orange County the same procedure cost $58,000.
  • A knee replacement in San Jose’s Regional Medical Center cost $165,000.  In the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center on Bascom Road, the same procedure cost $76,000.
  • The six most expensive hospitals “are all in the Bay Area, with Alameda and San Mateo counties tying for the top spot, Contra Costa County close behind and San Francisco coming in sixth.”  Alameda County’s hospitals “charge the highest prices in the state, although it’s far from the state’s most affluent region and is not known for vastly superior health care services.”

This information is contained in a report by the California Public Interest Research Group Education Fund in San Francisco, and is “based on prices charged at 236 hospitals in 24 regions for 12 of the most common elective procedures, including C-sections, hip and knee replacements, hysterectomies, angioplasties and radical prostatectomies.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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