Today at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park

Self saw Rodins, Gauguins, Manets, Rousseaus, and of course Picassos:

Looking at Picasso’s “Blue Boy”

If you go to see the William S. Paley Collection of Modernist Art, be sure and take the audio tour:  it is excellent.

Elsewhere in the museum, self discovered a magnificent collage by an artist named Inez Storer:

Deatil, Inez Storer’s “And So Goes the World,” 2001

More Detail: Inez Storer’s “And So Goes the World”, 2001

This is truly a great piece of art, take self’s word for it, dear blog readers. The Philippines is in there somewhere . . .

So sorry for the “shaky cam” effect, dear blog readers!  One can just see half of the word “Philippines” on the left-hand side of the third photograph.

Self loves collages.  That’s why she loves early Santi Bose.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

NYTBR: 2 September 2012 (Pile of Unread Magazines Growing Again, Aaargh!)

Here’s the short list of most interesting reviews (or, reviews that made self most excited to read the books being reviewed):

  1. Dominique Browning’s review of Tan Twan Eng’s novel, The Garden of Evening Mists.  Very smart of Ms. Browning to begin her review with a description of “the mesmerizing allure of a classic Japanese garden” —  such is self’s addiction to all things Japanese, and to all things having to do with gardening, that the mere mention of “classic Japanese garden” has self all agog with excitement.
  2. Alexander Rose’s review of Ben MacIntyre’s latest book, Double Cross:  The True Story of the D-Day Spies (Self has a confession to make:  all a reviewer has to do is mention Ben MacIntyre, and self is sooo there.  She’s read three of his books, and even taught one in Foothill English 1B, for heaven’s sake!)
  3. Randy Boyagoda’s review of Crusoe: Daniel Defoe, Robert Knox and the Creation of a Myth, by Katherine Frank.  He writes self’s favorite kind of review:  the one that begins with quotes from the author whose book is being reviewed.  Self appreciates the generosity of the reviewer to a fellow writer.  So, in the first paragraph of his review, Boyagoda uses not one, not two, but three quotes from the esteemed Ms. Frank.  And each one is pretty good, though this is self’s favorite:  “That’s his secret:  Crusoe is Anyone and Everyone.  He is you and he is me.”
  4. Judith Martin’s review of The Age of Desire, by Jennie Fields.  First of all, it has self feeling so much empathy for the book’s subject, the author Edith Wharton.  In a classic paragraph, Ms. Martin writes:  “There could hardly be a more apt theme for a novel of manners than the struggle of a prominent and respectable lady to disguise her inflamed feelings in order to meet the conventions of society.  It is not only her frantic yearning for her lover that is portrayed here, but the fallout expressed in her irritation with her husband and her editorial assistant for unknowingly getting in the way.”  Very well-written review.
  5. Marilyn Stasio’s column:  Stasio always makes self want to read the mysteries she reviews, and in this case self is particularly excited to read these two:  Ruth Rendell’s latest, The St. Zita Society (Self never knew, until she read Stasio’s column this afternoon, that Ms. Rendell was a “responsible member of Parliament”!), and Anne Perry’s latest, A Sunless Sea (Great title, Ms. Perry!)
  6. And finally, bravo to Martin Amis, for making self remember that her first encounter with Anthony Burgess was a film review in Newsweek of A Clockwork Orange.  There was a picture accompanying the review, which showed Malcolm McDowell in his fiendish operatic make-up, and wearing a top hat.  And she couldn’t wait to see the movie, though she was much too young to gain admittance.  Years later, when she saw it, she was scarred.  And also elated.  Both those feelings at once.  Well, perhaps she was more elated.  For years afterward, she couldn’t get the voice of Malcolm McDowell, turning rhapsodic over “good old Ludwig van,” out of her head.  She nearly named Sole Fruit of Her Loins Ludwig van.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Response to the NYTBR Review of Alix Ohlin

Self had been expecting a response of some kind to the William Giraldi review of two books by the Canadian writer Alix Ohlin.  She thought, while she was reading it (in the Aug. 19 issue of the NYTBR):  No way are the publishers going to take this sitting down!  Basically, the review trotted out the names of a whole slew of eminent writers, and showed how Ohlin failed to measure up.  Self thought it was a rather pointless exercise.  She is sure, if someone compared self’s writings to that of Alice Munro, she would come up very, very short.

Today, while self was perusing the 2 September 2012 issue of the NYTBR, she saw, in the Letters to the Editor, a response to the Ohlin review by someone from Santa Barbara, California.  Not the publisher, not the author’s editor, not even someone who knew Ohlin personally, but someone who had read Ohlin’s first novel and enjoyed it.

According to the letter-writer:

. . .  readers are served a steaming bowl of vitriol . . .  that even includes petty complaints about the books’ titles.  While faulting Ohlin for the purported wretchedness of her metaphors, he squeezes out such memorable phrases as “flies around like kites in a waning zephyr,” “stiffened in a morgue of mentation” and “the cosmos takes on a coruscated import.”  He notes that the word “weird” is “the most worthless word in English.”  His preferred descriptions include “insufferable,” “appalling,” “abysmal,” “bland,” “obscene,” and “enervated.”

I don’t care to imagine the small, stale world Giraldi appears to inhabit, but I did enjoy spending time with the characters Ohlin invented for her novel.  Unlike the self-portrait painted by the reviewer, these individuals were vital, complex and engaging.

Wonder when that response from the publisher will be coming.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

So Doreen

Self is re-reading Tikim, a collection of Dear Departed Doreen Fernandez’s food essays (published by Anvil Press of the Philippines).  Here’s a section from the Introduction Doreen wrote, June 1994.  Her husband, Wili Fernandez, was the one she called “the intuitive gourmet.”  But it was Doreen who made Filipino food her vehicle for poking into all sorts of little-known areas of Filipino provincial life.  She was adventurous to the core:

“. . .  he indeed ate, and pronounced judgement.  I ate too, and wrote — and learned.  Soon I was no longer interested in just describing the food; I wanted to know its history, its setting, its meaning.  That was the beginning.

The learning process still goes on.  My teachers are all those who give me information about food:  market vendors, street sellers, cooks, chefs, waiters, restaurant and carinderia owners, farmers, tricycle drivers, gardeners, fishermen, aficionados, nutritionists, readers of my column, friends, food critics and historians, fellow-researchers, authors of books (and cookbooks), writers of columns, food anthropologists —  everyone who eats and cares.

She called self by her Filipino nickname, Batchoy, to the end.  (Batchoy’s the name of a famous soup.  Also, a man’s name.  Also, a short form of “Fatso” — BWAH. HA. HAAA!)

Self still remembers the time Doreen took her and fellow Atenista Lissa M to a new restaurant that hadn’t yet been reviewed.  It was somewhere in Makati.  Probably’s disappeared by now.

After the main course was over, Doreen ordered some tea.  She asked the waiter what kind of tea they had.

“Tea?  Ma’am?”  the waiter asked, looking for all the world as if Doreen had asked him to produce a golden egg.

“Yes,” Doreen said.  “What kind of tea do you have?”

After a long, long pause, during which you could see all the gears clicking in the man’s brain, he finally managed to say, “Hot, ma’am.”

Ta-ra, ta-ra, ta-ra, ta-ra!

Another Doreen Fernandez quote appears in the blog, Burnt Lumpia.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Last Rose Blooms of Fall

Iceberg Rose, Front Yard

The rose faces a very busy avenue: You’d never think it from the picture. 🙂

Consciousness: Manila

Like echoes from a distant planet (Apologies for trotting out that hoary cliché), the following tremors reached self, a girl in Manila:

  • Richard Leakey (Homo habilis and Homo erectus have been discovered, YAY!  Archaeology is sexy!)
  • Newsweek and Time (purveyors of “reliable” foreign news)
  • San Francisco (Where the crazy branch of the family lived.  And yet:  Self chose Stanford over other universities.  Why?  Must be because she realized she herself was crazy!)
  • Berkeley = hippies!  And drugs!
  • Acapulco (Her parents honeymooned here).  The main thing to do in Acapulco is to watch men dive from sheer cliffs, straight into the ocean (Self must admit to thinking it was a strange choice for a honeymoon.  This was reinforced by the fact that she did not know any other parents who honeymooned there)
  • I. Magnin.  Dearest Mum’s Dearest Mum shopped only at I. Magnin. To get self ready for grad school, Dearest Mum took self shopping for clothes at the I. Magnin on Union Square.  Self remembers acquiring a whole closet of chiffon dresses.  Needless to say, she never got to wear any of them.
  • Orange Julius (There was a stand inside the Makati Supermarket)
  • Shakey’s Pizza (a whole host of these, all over Manila)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Walk (Fourth Monday of September 2012)

Bella aka The Ancient One will be turning 17 on Sept. 30!

In honor of that momentous occasion, self decided to go along with The Man when he walked her this evening.  Self took the following photos:

Side View! Bella has very gentle eyes.

A Squirrel! If Gracie were still around, she would have chased it, FOR SURE.

A Dog’s Eye View

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.



Rejection Monday

Sent Jennie a cute pic of herself and SFOSL (Translation:  Sole Fruit of Self’s Loins), but that was days ago.

While down there in southern CA, self learned during a dinner with their friends that son and Jennie are famous for “having two or three jobs,” or something of the sort.  Not content with that amazing reputation, son had even volunteered to bring meat skewers to a barbecue at a professor’s house, that very weekend.  Self intervened and said no one would expect son to be preparing skewers of meat for a barbecue if it was known that Visiting Celebrity (oops! self meant:  his MUM) was down for the weekend, and furthermore self expressed great interest in meeting this professor.  Result:  Son or Jennie or perhaps both of them extended his/her/their regrets to prof and said that he/she/they would be unable to attend.  Oh, boo.  Self was dying, simply dyyyyiiiing to make professor’s acquaintance.

True!  She even offered to meet son outside his classroom on Monday afternoon, but since son had already expressed extreme reluctance to have self meet ANY of his professors, she should have known he would suggest some other place to meet:  such as the Ontario airport!  Since self was leaving that very day!

Anyhoo, c’est la vie, c’est la vie.  Self is back in good ol’ Redwood City, lugging around dozens of buckets of water.

Why oh why does the weather have to be so extremely hot, in late September?  And why did self — today of all days — receive messages from Hawthornden Quidditch Team, giving hints, notes of another life, a life fragrant with the productive labor of writing or traveling or anyway experiencing something other than lugging buckets of water around a garden?

And why were there three SASEs in the mail today:  one from New Letters — nice, but no signature (Must have been an intern), one from Harper’s (A real signature, but an unfamiliar name:  Oh of course, the signer typed “Editorial Intern” under her signature), one form (absolutely no hand writing of any sort, anywhere on the form, not even a scribbled initial, or a Try us again!) from Michigan Quarterly Review.  About MQR, self shouldn’t be so crabby, as she’s actually received SASEs back from them in less than a week.  Since it must take at least two days for a snail-mailed manuscript to get there from California, and maybe one day for intern to open mail, and maybe another day for intern to read self’s story, and two days for the SASE to travel back to self (See, self has worked the sequence all out in her head — at least a dozen times!) she can honestly say:  Her writing is not the sort to summon excitement from anyone in MQR.

But there are things for which self should be grateful.  Such as:

  1. She is alive.
  2. She is alive in a hot place.
  3. She is a U.S. citizen.
  4. She likes Redwood Nursery.
  5. Her dry cleaner is polite.
  6. She had Chinese Chicken Salad for lunch.
  7. The Ancient One (i.e. Bella) is alive:  whine-y and incontinent, but very much still able to crawl on two legs if presented with a sliver of meat.  Especially if the meat is grilled.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Of Note Today, 4th Sunday of September (2012)

Self deserves pats on the back.  She went to Pamplemousse, got there just as they were closing, and bought this delicious chocolate with amaretto cake:

Pamplemousse Heart Attack Delight with Amaretto (Not Its Real Name, But There Really Is Amaretto In This Thing)

She offered first dibs to The Man, as is her wont as The Dutiful Martyr — er, Wife.  He demurred and said No, No, No.  After dinner, she lost herself (for three hours) in the thickets of grueling grant application.  When she emerged, quite famished, the first place she looked at was the kitchen counter.  No cake.  In the sink was the plate that she’d served the cake on, absolutely clean.  Not even a lick of chocolate left.  Bummer!

But, lest dear blog readers start feeling too depressed on self’s behalf, she also bought four of those salted caramel macarons, and ate them all in one go (while watching Jimmy Kimmel host the Emmy Awards, which were quite entertaining, though not because of Kimmel —  because of the acceptance speeches and the gorgeous gowns!  Among self’s favorites were the presenting duo of Ginnifer Goodwin and Emily van Camp).  And, to tell you the truth, self had absolutely no business buying anything from Pamplemousse, since she’d finished about 15 pieces of extremely oily chicharon bulaklak earlier, and accompanied that with beer, and fried rice.  Her backside is wide like a plank.  She will not send a picture of that.  Instead, here’s a picture of self yesterday:

BED-HEAD! This was the condition of self when she left the house rather early yesterday morning, to head to the San Francisco Palace of the Legion of Honor to catch the “Man Ray/ Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism” exhibit, which was excellent!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Today, 4th Saturday of September (2012): Among Other Things, Giants!

The San Francisco Giants clinched the National League West Title!  WOO-HOO!

And self got to scarf down a whole plateful of chicharon bulaklak!

Morning Light, In the Rodin Gallery, San Francisco Palace of the Legion of Honor

Self had been wanting to see the Man Ray/Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism exhibit (ending October 14), and she finally did get to see it today.

Some Thoughts:

Lee Miller was absolutely beautiful.  And her trajectory —  from Vogue model, to photographer, to chronicler of the end of World War II (SS corpses in a shallow canal; the bodies of the Mayor of Leipzig, his wife and daughter; shaven-headed women being paraded through the streets of Rennes, in France) — was stupefying.

Some of the most interesting pieces in the exhibit were the ones Man Ray produced after Miller left him, in 1932.  Things such as the photograph of the eye fastened to a metronome, and titled “Object to be Destroyed.”  Some students actually snatched the original from an exhibit, and destroyed it in a gesture against, they claimed, “the commercialization of modern art.”  But Man Ray used the insurance payment to produce a hundred more, of which the piece in the Legion of Honor exhibit was one.

There was a smaller, equally fascinating exhibit:  Rene Bouché:  Letters From Post-War Paris.  Bouché was doing a piece on post-war Paris for British Vogue, and as he toured 1945 Paris, his sketches of American servicemen, French women, theater audiences, orchestras, cafés, parades were tinged with disillusionment.

The Man insisted on going right when the Legion of Honor opened (as there were “four college games in the afternoon!”), which was a good thing because there was hardly anybody in the galleries, as this picture will attest:

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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