Personal Library 13, cont.

Apologies for the wee interruption, dear blog readers.  Self flew to Glendale last Friday, to experience for herself the “After-Christmas Party of All After-Christmas Parties.”  But now she is home and back in action.  Here are some other books of note in the second shelf of the second bookcase in the dining room:

Sugarland, by Philip Finch; three by Italo Calvino:  The Baron in the Trees, Invisible Cities, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler; and Wooden Fish Songs, by Ruthanne Lum McCunn.  Whew!  That wasn’t so bad!


Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Sunday: Walking Around the Neighborhood

The sun is shining here in southern California.  It is such a beautiful day!

After breakfast, Niece Irene and Irene’s husband Zia walked with her around the neighborhood.

The neighbor across the street from Irene and Zia.  Aren't the mountains beautiful?

The neighbor across the street from Irene and Zia. Aren’t the mountains beautiful?

Are these "kangaroo paws"?  Self is so fascinated by other people's gardens.

Are these “kangaroo paws”? Self is so fascinated by other people’s gardens.

At the entrance to Brand Park, where the fantastic library is undergoing some extensive renovation.

At the entrance to Brand Park, where the fantastic library is undergoing some extensive renovation.  Self looked up the location:  the mountains behind are called the Verdugo Mountains.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

A Most Unlikely Hero

Self is saving some movie reviews from the San Francisco Chronicle of yesterday, Friday, Dec. 28.

There’s one in particular, a review of Promised Land, a movie which hasn’t gotten much buzz at all, buried under movies like Django Unchained and Les Miserables (She told The Man to go ahead and watch it without her today.  For some reason, she’s never been that enthused over Anne Hathaway, or about movie musicals in general.  Perhaps with the exception of The Muppets movie).  It opens, unexpectedly, with an accolade to Matt Damon:

Promised Land is a fine place to start appreciating Matt Damon, who always makes it seem as if everybody else is acting and he’s just going through the movie being natural.  Damon is the actor who leaves no fingerprints, who never calls attention to himself and never, ever screws up, not once in 20 years.  Whether playing Jason Bourne or Mr. Ripley, Damon creates an illusion of the familiar, and that familiarity is put to good use in Promised Land, in which he plays a salesman for a fracking company, trying to talk rural people into leasing their land for natural-gas drilling.

Self would just like to say, she loved Jeremy Renner until she saw him take over the Bourne movies this year.  Then, watching Renner, she realized that Matt Damon’s portrayal of Bourne was absolutely brilliant.  And she never wants to see another Bourne movie without Damon.  Seriously.

Stay tuned.

The After-Christmas Party to End All After-Christmas Parties

The young ones chat outside while the old ones sit inside and eat themselves senseless.

The young ones chat outside while the old ones sit inside and eat themselves senseless.

An Armenian neighbor of Irene's.  Self had no idea that Glendale had a large Armenian community.

An Armenian neighbor of Irene’s. Self had no idea that Glendale had a large Armenian community.

Self found out from one of the cousins that Kim Kardashian is planning to run for mayor of Glendale.  Then will there be more Kanye sightings, self wonders?

This is a HOME-MADE Brazo de Mercedes (Self had two servings) made by niece Melanie's husband, Joey Fermin.

This is a HOME-MADE Brazo de Mercedes (Self had two servings) made by niece Melanie’s husband, Joe Fermin.

More desserts!  From Porto's, a hole-in-the-wall that's now expanded to three branches, in Glendale and thereabouts.

More desserts! From Porto’s, a former hole-in-the-wall serving only bread, now expanded to three branches, including Burbank.

Self met, for the first time, her Niece Valen, sister of the Manila designer Camille (Self's partner in crime at Mesa, Greenbelt 5, last month!); The other human is Mike V, youngest son of Tito Mario Villanueva.

Self met, for the first time, her Niece Valen, sister of the Manila designer Camille (Self’s partner in crime at Mesa, Greenbelt 5, last month!); The other human is Mike V, youngest son of Tito Mario Villanueva!

Photo on 12-29-12 at 5.37 PM #2

The photo above is of self and Llana, self’s niece and 1/2 of the fab creative team of LLAVA, which just came out with their first line of tops.  Self is wearing the $30 grey top, isn’t it SUCH A STEAL???  Self never felt so glam!  Even after 2 hours of eating, she still felt slim in this top!

Here’s a link to the top self is wearing, in a darker grey.  And here’s the LLAVA Facebook page.

The eating continues.  Self must have gained five lbs. today.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Last Friday of 2012: Glendale & Pasadena

The weather here in southern California is grrreat!  Sunny!  Warm!

Self visited a mall in Glendale called Americana.  This one had dancing fountains that reminded her of the ones in the Las Vegas Bellagio.  Really, she can’t believe how wonderful the weather is here!

She was with her niece, Irene.  Later, Irene dropped self off in Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, which is one of her faaavorite bookstores.  Vroman’s was where, early this year, while visiting sole fruit of her loins, self stumbled upon the fascinating gardening diary of an 18th century Englishman named John Evelyn.  This afternoon, self wound up buying a book called Plant Combinations for Your Landscape:  Over 400 Inspirational Groupings for Garden Beds and Borders, by Tony Lord.  This bookstore’s gardening section is really good.  Self could browse there all day.

The holiday items on the second floor were 40% off.  Self bought a box of Christmas cards (for next year), and a birthday card for The Man.

Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena

Here’s a picture self took in niece’s house in Glendale.

Irene's house, Glendale

Self loves Irene’s house —  it has such an Asian (i.e. Filipino) feeling.  Is it the plants growing outside?  The light?  The artwork?  All of the above?

Self looked in awe at the gardens of the neighboring houses, and swooned over the giant Kniphofia bushes!  (Self tried planting this in her front yard, two years ago.  Alas, it expired with the first cold snap) The ubiquitous and spectacular Birds of Paradise!  And the extremely tall, stately palm trees!

The houses all had extremely well-manicured lawns, not a grotty one among them.  Is this a city requirement, self wonders?  Self means, that one has to keep up one’s lawn?

Irene is the daughter of Dear Departed Manang Nena, self’s cousin.  Self visited her grave in Bacolod, this last trip.  Her Manang Jopay and Manong Junior (parents of niece Camille, the fashion designer, the one who had dinner with self at Mesa in Greenbelt 5) brought her to Bacolod Memorial, on All Souls Day, her first ever All Souls Day in Bacolod (And quite a memorable occasion that was, dear blog readers:  There was a rock band performing in the middle of the cemetery.  Bacoleños will grab at any opportunity to throw a par-tay!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Personal Library # 13

Still working on the 2nd bookcase in the dining room.  Here’s the tally so far (2nd shelf of the 2nd dining room bookcase):

502 + 37 = 539 Total Books Tabulated So Far

This shelf has titles like:  State of War, by Ninotchka Rosca;  Avierno, by Louise Gluck; Tom Jones, by Henry Fielding;  The Kissing, by Merlinda Bobis;  Misery, by Stephen King;  Poems:  Selected and New, by Simeon Dumdum, Jr.

Self has to stop here because she loves Simeon Dumdum.  There is a lightness, a playfulness, to his language that self truly enjoys. Here’s a poem from the volume:

Unicorn, Why Do You Travel?

I am pursued by evil.

Where did you get your speed?
From need.

Are you a horse?
By force.

What kind of a horse are you intended?

Where did you get your horn?
From a thorn.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Personal Library 12

449 + 53 = 502 Total Books Tallied So Far

Self is now starting on the second bookcase in the dining room (Let’s see how long she can keep this up!).  Titles on this shelf include:

The Illustrated Sherlock Holmes TreasuryThe Ophelia Dimalanta Reader:  Selected Prose, vol. 2The World of the Shining Prince, by Ivan Morris;  When the Rainbow Goddess Wept, by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard;  Exactly Here, Exactly Now, by Nadine L. SarrealDeep Light:  New and Selected Poems, 1987 – 2007, by Rebecca McClanahan;  Blood and Soap:  Stories, by Linh Dinh;  The Hmong and the American Immigrant Experience, by Lillian Faderman with Ghia Xiong;  ERAPtion:  How to Speak English Without Really Trial, by Emil P. Jurado and Reli L. German; Life of Pi, by Yann Martel;  Birthmark:  Poems, by Jon Pineda;  The Forbidden Stitch:  An Asian American Women’s Anthology, edited by Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Mayumi Tsutakawa, and Margarita Donnelly (Managing Editor);  Oregon Handbook, 2nd edition, by Stuart Warren & Ted Long Ishikawa (part of the excellent Moon Handbook Travel Series);  The Cebu We Know, edited by Erma M. Cuizon

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Science Article, The Economist (Dec. 22, 2012): The Fist, or: Why the Human Hand is Superior

Well, then, dear blog readers.  Self has had a very, very interesting evening.  She read a gardening book, and then she read The Economist.

Flipping through the latter, self encountered an article on p. 123 called “Making a Fist of It.”  Here are the points the article made:

  • The hand is the only appendage on the human body “that has different names, depending on what it is being used for.  Employ it to hold something, and it is called a hand.  Employ it to hit someone, and it is called a fist.”
  • “Most primate hands . . .  are suited for climbing.”  Not human hands.  With their “short palms, short fingers and long thumbs,” human hands are useful because they allow two types of grips:  a) the “precision grip, in which an object is held between the pads of the finger tips” and b) the “power grip, in which all the fingers and the thumb are wrapped around what is being grasped.”  Both these grips make the human hand superbly equipped for “tool-crafting,” widely believed to be “the driving force behind the modern hand’s proportions.”

Enter two scientists from the University of Utah, Messrs. Michael Morgan and David Carrier.  They postulate a theory “that the exact geometry of the hand is probably the result of its destructive rather than its constructive power.”

The two scientists set out to determine “what makes the fist such an effective weapon.”

  • “A fist presents the knuckles first.  That means the force of a blow is transmitted through a much smaller area than would be the case for its alternative, an open-handed slap.”  In addition, “a closed fist delivers 15% more force than an open-handed strike . . . “
  • “All this suggests that fists are indeed proper evolutionary adaptations, with their own history of natural selection, rather than being just the coincidental by-products of humanity’s handiness with a tool.”

In conclusion, humans “prosper” because the hand not only enables them to make things, but because it can be made into a very effective weapon, simply by making a few adjustments to the tool grip.  Relying on the fist makes it possible to “take what the makers have made,” which is wonderfully opportunistic and practical —  precisely the kind of thing that enforces compliance.  Oh, those early human fist-fighters!  No doubt this is part of the reason why humans were eventually able to assert dominance over the entire animal world.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

NYTBR: Notable Fiction, 2012

The NYTBR of December 2 is the “100 Notable Books of 2012” issue.  Impossible for self to go through the whole gamut, digesting for dear blog readers, so she will confine herself to culling through the Fiction.  And she picked 18 books from the 50 in the Fiction list that she feels MOST interested in perusing, for the following reasons:

She likes stories about hackers.  She likes stories set on rural communes.  She likes Sherman Alexie, especially when he’s being “moving and funny.”  She likes stories about parents who do idiotic things, like “rob a bank” (Self always ends up feeling almost saintly, by comparison).  She likes novels set in 2053.  Especially if they are set in Ireland.  She likes novels set in “shabby urban mental” hospitals.  She likes novels about “clerks, cooks and lawyers,” especially if they are found in “a forward operating base in Iraq.”  She likes novels about caregivers.  Especially if the caregivers are in California.  She usually disdains story collections about recurring characters, but not when they are tied together by “a desert rock formation.”  She likes novels that ask existential questions.  She’s never been on a Chesapeake Bay estate, so she is happy when a novel wants to take her there.  She’s never read a story set on the “desolate Channel Islands,” she is happy for the same reason she wants to read a Chesapeake Bay novel.  She likes “smart and nuanced” short story collections.  She likes stories about outsiders, especially when the outsider in question knows how to stir up trouble.  She likes novels that takes liberties with Biblical characters.  She has never read a novel with characters from Senegal, so she is ecstatic that she can finally get to read one.  She likes reading novels about families “torn apart” by war or by a cataclysmic natural event.  She likes war novels in general.

So here are self’s picks of the 50 Notable Fiction Books of 2012 recommended by the NYTBR:

  1. Alif the Unseen, by G. Willow Wilson
  2. Arcadia, by Lauren Groff
  3. Blasphemy, by Sherman Alexie
  4. Canada, by Richard Ford
  5. City of Bohane, by Kevin Barry
  6. The Devil in Silver, by Victor LaValle
  7. Fobbit, by David Abrams
  8. The Forgetting Tree, by Tatjana Soli
  9. Gods Without Men, by Hari Kunzru
  10. How Should a Person Be?  by Sheila Heti
  11. The Right-Hand Shore, by Christopher Tilghman
  12. San Miguel, by T. Coraghessan Boyle
  13. Shout Her Lovely Name, by Natalie Serber
  14. Swimming Home, by Deborah Levy
  15. The Testament of Mary, by Colm Toibin
  16. Three Strong Women, by Marie NDiaye
  17. Toby’s Room, by Pat Barker
  18. The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers

The only five authors self has read before are:  Sherman Alexie, Richard Ford, T. Coraghessan Boyle, Colm Toibin, and Pat Barker.  Of these five, self has seen three in person (Never mind which ones they are)

The author she wishes could think of better titles for his books is T. Coraghessan Boyle.  It occurs to her that she really hates titles like Three Strong Women, because if everyone went around naming the qualities of their major characters, the world might be full of titles like Two Thieving Men or Four Adulterous Women or Three Brave Widows or —  well, you get the picture.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Personal Library 11

Merry Christmas, dear blog readers!

It is raining again.

But so what.  Self likes the rain.  As long as it doesn’t come with high winds.  Like, this morning, self was even able to go outside without a poncho and plant a new begonia.  Getting wet now and then is very good for the soul.

Onward with the book tabulation!

Self is now starting with the second bookcase in the dining room.  This is the one right underneath the Santi Bose painting, “The White Room.”  There are 21 books in this area.

428 + 21 = 449 total of books catalogued thus far

Books in this section include:  The Translator’s Diary, by Jon Pineda; The Art of the Novel, by Milan Kundera;  Another Kind of Paradise:  Short Stories From the New Asia-Pacific, edited by Trevor Carolan (Self’s story “Lizard” is in here);  Philippine Speculative Fiction IV:  Literature of the Fantastic, edited by Dean Francis Alfar and Nikki Alfar (Among the authors:  Maryanne Moll, Charles Tan, Apol Lejano-Massebieau);  Against Forgetting:  Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness, edited by Carolyn Forché;  Palayok, by Doreen Fernandez; My Shining Archipelago:  Poems by Talvikki Ansel

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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