WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable 3

When self finally got her act together and went down south to visit Sole Fruit of Her Loins, who had just started in the Ph.D. Program in Social Psychology at Claremont, she accomplished several things:

  • She met Jennie (See below)
  • She discovered that son is a wonderful dancer (Again, see below)
  • She found out what people do when they do “in-line dancing”
Son and Jennie Dancing in Montana's, southern California, sometime 2012

Son and Jennie Dancing in Montana’s, southern California, sometime 2012

After that evening, self has always wanted to get herself a pair of cowboy boots (Jennie, like all the people in Montana’s, wore a pair).

Should she?  Should this short li’l Filipina mom who can’t dance equip herself with cowboy boots?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable 2

In the deepest, darkest portion of the Pictish Caves!  We huddle together for comfort and protection!

In the deepest, darkest portion of the Pictish Caves! We huddle together for comfort and protection!  June 2012

Here we are!  All six writers at Hawthornden, minus one who had to return to Oxford to meet with a student.  We are in the Pictish Caves!  They are beneath the castle of Hawthornden.  For weeks, we’d been begging Hamish to take us to the Pictish Caves, which we’d hears so much about.

“Bring your boots,” Hamish said.

Alas, self had no boots, only a pair of red sneakers.

It was extremely dark, dank, and low-ceilinged, and more than one of us yelled at the top of her lungs upon encountering a spider.

The tunnel begins beneath the castle, and opens up to the cliffs, and to the river.

We did it!  We did it!  We Happy Five conquered the Pictish Caves!   Self is in the middle, poet Joan Mcgavin is on her right, Richard and Marylee are behind, and holding on to self’s other arm is Alison Amend, whose one San Francisco reading self missed, a few weeks ago. WHAAAAAA!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Been So Long: The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene

Self purchased a copy of The 48 Laws of Power about two years ago, on the recommendation of —  who else?  — a Bacolod cousin.  Fascinating book.  Here’s a quote:

Those misfortunates among us who have been brought down by circumstances beyond their control deserve all the help and sympathy we can give them.  But there are others who are not born to misfortune or unhappiness, but who draw it upon themselves by their destructive actions and unsettling effect on others.  It would be a great thing if we could raise them up, change their patterns, but more often than not it is their patterns that end up getting inside and changing us.  The reason is simple — humans are extremely susceptible to the moods, emotions, and even the ways of thinking of those with whom they spend their time.

The incurably unhappy and unstable have a particularly strong infecting power because their characters and emotions are so intense.  They often present themselves as victims, making it difficult, at first, to see their miseries as self-inflicted.  Before you realize the real nature of their problems you have been infected by them.

Understand this:  In the game of power, the people you associate with are critical.

Law # 10:  Infection

Avoid the unhappy and unlucky.

(Which would appear to be a very un-Christian sentiment.  But, as Greene forcefully reiterates, it is indeed possible to “die from someone else’s misery.”  And, really, life’s too short.)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Vanity Fair, July 2013

Chan is the man!  That’s him on the cover of the July 2013 Vanity Fair.

The picture isn’t, however, all that flattering.

First of all, he seems to have eye make-up.  Self knows all Vanity Fair cover subjects have make-up, but was it really necessary to apply that much.

Anyhoo, self first encountered Chan in Stop-Loss, in which he stole every scene.

Then he was in Fighting, another movie she loved him in.

She rented Step Up from Netflix.

She didn’t think he was that suited to The Eagle of the Ninth, but in all fairness he did seem to be taking the role seriously, even though EW did describe him that year as an “animate bologna column.”

And now it is summer again, and he has a new movie out, “White House Down,” in which Jamie Foxx plays THE HOTTEST PRESIDENT OF ALL TIME, and that’s even when he’s wearing glasses.

Chan, Chan, Chan is the man.

Last summer, this time, self was in Hawthornden.  The Sunday Guardian Magazine had a review of Magic Mike.  Hooooly Hotness!  In self’s room overlooking the driveway, self pored over the pictures.  She just couldn’t wait to see the movie when she got back to the States.

And then came the day, in the middle of the week, when self went off to see the movie.  There she was, in the center of a whole row of women (Not bad for a middle-of-the-day, mid-week screening).  The women on either side (not young) were perched on the edges of their seats.  And never leaned back.

Rich Cohen in Vanity Fair:

He grew.  He’d been big and handsome but became bigger and more handsome still, a sheepish kid heartbreakingly unaware of his own power.  He left Tampa to play college football at Glenville State, in West Virginia, but was soon back.  He’d crapped out, blown it, and seemingly positioned himself on the road to a classic American adulthood, another invisible man, a handsome roofer, a sexy drywall guy, whose looks fade with the seasons.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Last Friday of June 2013

John Travolta is the guest tonight on Letterman.  Self ponders the Travolta visage.  It is not, she decides, too bad.  That is, the face is still recognizable as John Travolta’s.  He may have had plastic surgery, but it is discreet.  He is charming, even relaxed.  He and de Niro have made a summer movie which self has heard NOTHING — nada —  about.  They show a clip, and it’s very Bourne, that scene where Clive Owen as the assassin told to off Bourne is hiding in a field, and Matt Damon rouses a flock of birds and does an end run and shoots Clive Owen.  In the scene self watches tonight on Letterman, Travolta plays a Serbian and perhaps because or perhaps in spite of the fact that he is Serbian, Travolta is equipped with a very swarthy beard, and tries to kill de Niro with an arrow.  An arrow.

Self has reached, after much travail, p. 283 of Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser.  Carrie is as per usual.  Passive and accommodating.  Hurstwood, the bigamous businessman/husband, is slowly losing his mind.  He used to be rich before he fell in love with Carrie and ran away with her to New York City.  He used to know people.  He used to be a man of consequence.  Now all he can manage is a four-room apartment on 13th Street, just off Sixth Avenue.  He thought anonymity would save him, but it’s a curse.

Here is a picture of p. 283.  Self provides it here because someone has written, in pencil, a number (37,348) at the bottom of the page.  “Look!” self said, showing her book to The Man.  “Someone wrote the word count here, at the bottom of the page.”  The Man looked.  Yawned.  “How’d you know that’s the word count?” he opined.  “What else would it be, on p. 283?” self responded.

Sister Carrie, by Theodore Dreiser:  the first book on her reading list for Summer 2013

The Mysterious Number:  37,348, found on p. 283 of Sister Carrie, by Theodore Dreiser: the first book on self’s summer 2013 reading list

The musical guest on Letterman is a duo called Japandroids.  And they are playing rock.  Like, really hard rock.  Wow.  Suddenly, everything old is new again.  Has self really lived that long?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“The Killing”: Season 3, Episode 4

Dear ones, self is re-viewing Season 3 Episode 4 of “The Killing” (AMC, Sunday nights at 8 p.m.), self’s new TV addiction.  Detective Linden (Mireille Enos:  love this woman’s hair!  It is perfect for the show’s moody cinematography.  And by the way, Seattle has never been shot to such dramatic and menacing effect — it has more than a little in common with Stieg Larsson’s Sweden) is questioning a “Mother of the Year.”

(P.S.  Dialogue’s a little rough.  Do not read unless in the mood for “dark”)

Linden:  Your daughter’s a prositute, Read the rest of this entry »

Dreiser, on the Hottest Day of the Year (2013)

Self’s face is flushed really, really red.  She doesn’t remember ever getting this way, even in Bacolod.  The fan barely stirs the air.  She went hunting in the garage for another fan, but that one was covered with cobwebs.  She sprayed it with Lysol and began to start cleaning it, but stopped to rest and read a little bit further into Sister Carrie.

This book, renewed three times —  that’s nine weeks — is already way, way overdue.  She can’t believe how slow her reading is this year.  But she wants to finish it.  It’s the kind of book where none of the characters are that engaging —  Carrie is so passive, and naive, and way too young; and Hurstwood is impetuous, and falls in love, and leaves his old wife behind because he is afraid of her — but each is an example of a type, and Dreiser makes them fascinating.

So Hurstwood abducted Carrie and told her he was in love with her and agreed to marry her (though he neglected to divorce his wife), and took money from his company safe but later gave back most of it except for $1,300, then took Carrie to New York where they lived in a modest apartment, but all the time he was building this new life, he kept thinking of the old, when he had been rich.  When he was a socially prominent citizen, when he was, paradoxically, “free.”

Dreiser writes:

If one thinks that such thoughts do not come to so common a type of mind —  that such feelings require a higher mental development — I would urge for their consideration the fact that it is the higher mental development that does away with such thoughts.  It is the higher mental development which induces philosophy and that fortitude which refuses to dwell upon such things —  refuses to be made to suffer by their consideration.  The common type of mind is exceedingly keen on all matters which relate to its physical welfare —  exceedingly keen.  It is the unintellectual miser who sweats blood at the loss of a hundred dollars.  It is the Epictetus who smiles when the last vestige of physical welfare is removed.

Note to Self:  Must. Look. Up. Epictetus.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable

Self loooves this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: Companionable!!!

The guidelines state:

Share a picture of a COMPANION and explain why you chose that picture.

Here are three:

A few of self's essential accoutrements :-)

A few of self’s essential accoutrements 🙂

Self never goes anywhere without a journal or notebook or a small digital camera.

All-Natural Custom Lip Gloss from The Bath Workshop, Claremont, California (In two of self's favorite flavors:  Kahlua and Chocolate)

All-Natural Custom Lip Gloss from The Bath Workshop, Claremont, California (In two of self’s favorite flavors: Kahlua and Chocolate)

Since her lips get very dry in the summer, it is essential to have lip gloss in her purse.


And since she is a writer, she naturally reads all the time.  Self adores the short stories of Lydia Davis. She took this photo June 2012, during a writing residency in Hawthornden, near Edinburgh.

Her introduction to Davis came years ago, when someone lent her a copy of Break It Down.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

More Reading: Last Friday of June 2013

The New York Review of Books, Issue xxx:  Who knows?  A long, long time ago.  Oh, all right:  the Nov. 8, 2012 issue.  (Self’s Pile of Stuff is a monster.  And has grown leaps and bounds since April when, added to the general disorganization of self’s life was a trip to Venice, a trip to southern California, son’s moving in for the summer, and the incredible HEAT, today)

Self will post excerpts from Robert Gottlieb’s essay on James Jones (What a name!  There are so many American “James”!)

Since 90.9 % of dear blog readers will probably have no idea who James Jones is (No, it is not the actor famous for playing Othello:  That is James Earl Jones.  Furthermore, James Jone is not African American), some context:

James Jones was born in 1949.

He was the author of From Here to Eternity, a book about quote the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor unquote.

Jones sent the manuscript to his publisher (Scribner’s) with a note:  “I, personally, believe it will stack up with Stendhal’s Waterloo or Tolstoy’s Austerlitz.”

The book was made into a movie starring Burt Lancaster.  In one crucial scene, Lancaster (playing a character named Seargent Milt Warden) tells his men:

“The CQ will unlock the rifle racks and every man get his rifle and hang on to it.  But stay inside at your bunks.  This ain’t no maneuvers.  Yo go runnin around outside you’ll get your ass shot off . . .  Stay off the porches.  Stay inside.  I’m making each squad leader responsible to keep his men inside.  If you have to use a rifle butt to do it, that’s okay too. ”

“What if the fuckers bomb us?” somebody hollered.

“If you hear a bomb coming, you’re free to take off for the brush . . .  But not unless you do.  I don’t think they will.  If they were going to bomb us, they would of started with it already.  They probably concentratin all their bombs on the Air Corps and Pearl Harbor.

“Yeah,” somebody hollered.  “But what if they ain’t?”

“Then you’re shit out of luck.”

Robert Gottlieb writes of James Jones:

Always you feel that he knows what he’s talking about, whether it’s the savagery of the stockade, life in a rough whorehouse, the anguish of love, or the most mundane minutiae like a “can of milk with its top sliced open by a cleaver butt.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Heat: Last Friday of June 2013

They say it will reach 104 degrees in some areas of the Bay Area.  For the past two days, self has been running the sprinklers and turning on the soaker hoses.  Also, hand watering.

It was son’s first week of work at the company that hired him for the summer.

Last night, he was so tired he didn’t even eat dinner, just went straight to his room and slept.

This morning, self looks out the window, decides to read something before starting to write.

Ta-DA!  The book she pulls from the shelf happens to be Beth Alvarado’s short story collection, Not a Matter of Love (New Rivers Press, 2006).

And what do you know, there’s a story in it about heat.  The story is “Phoenix.”  Here’s how it begins:

Not even June and it was a dog-dancing day.  Asphalt sticky as gum.  Gloria had heard it was so hot in Phoenix that rubber gaskets were melting, windshields falling out; some were simply shattering as the glass expanded from the heat.  Birds were probably passing out in the trees.  Electricity use spiking off the grids.  If the cicadas would give it up for one minute, if traffic would come to a halt, she was sure she’d be able to hear the pumps sucking the artesian wells dry.  Then Tucson would collapse into the hollow earth left behind.  It was that hot, apocalyptically hot, hot enough to believe the sun could fry her and everyone else like so many grasshoppers in a cast-iron skillet.

Point of view belongs to Gloria, a mother who is picking up her daughter, Danika, after school.  Complication appears in Paragraph 3:

In fact, Danika’s resemblance to her father scared the shit out of Gloria.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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