STORIES HIGH THIRTEEN: SoMa Edition

Here’s a new performance coming up this weekend.  It sounds really, really interesting:

LIVING, LEAVING, WORKING, PLAYING in South of Market Inspire Four Mini-Plays

STORIES HIGH XIII:  THE SOMA EDITION at Bindlestiff Studio (185 Sixth Street, San Francisco)

August 1 to August 17

Thursdays to Saturdays

All shows, 8 p.m.

Here’s the official announcement:

Ongoing gentrification has transformed South of Market, and since opening in 1989, Bindlestiff Studio has witnessed every boom, bubble, and bust. Depending on where you stand, it can feel like SoMa is either benefitting from or being besieged by the changes.  Stories High XIII:  The SoMa edition explores life in this dynamic, ever-evolving corner of the city from four different perspectives:  1) a Filipino youth from the neighborhood caught shoplifting at Marshalls; 2) a starving artist pushed out by encroaching tech firms; 3) a non-profit organization fighting for SoMa’s cultural soul; and 4) a man’s (literally) scintillating experience at a porno-shop.

The show is a culmination of Bindlestiff’s long-running writing/directing/acting workshop series, Stories High.  Now in its 13th cycle, Stories High continues to foster new talent, expand artists’ skills, and champion fresh perspectives.

Stories High XIII:  The SoMa edition features four stand-alone theatrical pieces which were inspired by the writers’ real life experiences as residents, artists, activists, and patrons of SoMa.

  • “Gotta Love Them Immigrants!” by Dianne Aquino Chui
  • “The Last Unicorns” by Paolo Salazar
  • “Rally Fights the Man” by Cristal Fiel
  • “Last Night of the Tarantula” by Ed Mabasa

FOR ADVANCE TICKET PURCHASE, go here.

Stay tuned.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece 2

More pictures in line with this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge:  Masterpiece!

A masterpiece is, according to the photo challenge prompt:  “something extraordinary:  a place that blows your mind; a work of art or object that speaks to you; or even a location or scene that’s special, unusual, or even magical in some way.”

So here are three new takes on the word:

Pamplemousse Baked Delights! (downtown Redwood City)

Pamplemousse Baked Delights! (downtown Redwood City)

Saw this while riding on the vaporetto, on the way from San Marco Square to Murano (Don't know who the artist is, but it was a stunning sight)

Saw this during a vaporetto ride  from San Marco Square to Murano (Don’t know who the artist is, but it was a stunning sight)

Close-up of a Charles Parsons ship model: on view at the San Mateo County History Museum, Courthouse Square, Redwood City

Close-up of a Charles Parsons ship model: on view at the San Mateo County History Museum, Courthouse Square, Redwood City

Self has no idea who Charles Parsons is, but his ship models, in a special room at the San Mateo County History Museum, are magnificent.

Self has seen ship models in museums in Venice and in Amsterdam.  None came close in intricacy of detail to a Charles Parsons ship.  She is not kidding.

Five stars.  His models alone make a trip to the museum worthwhile.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Alexandra Wolfe, Weekend WSJ: Sarsgaard, “Blue Jasmine”

Mr. Fabulous:  Peter Sarsgaard

Mr. Fabulous: Peter Sarsgaard

One of the biggest things about the current season of “The Killing” (self’s current TV fascination) is Peter Sarsgaard.

Self caught the episode where he sneaks a razor blade out of a bar of soap and into his mouth during a prison shower (He plays a Death Row inmate) and was smitten for the rest of the season.  This weekend’s WSJ has an Alexandra Wolfe interview with the actor.  Most of the best parts aren’t about “The Killing,” though: they’re about Sarsgaard in Woody Allen’s new movie, “Blue Jasmine,” which frankly self wasn’t planning to watch until she read this:

Friday marked the opening of the new Woody Allen movie, “Blue Jasmine,” in which he plays a role new to his repertoire — a pretentious, distracted diplomat who is the love interest of the fallen socialite Jasmine (Cate Blanchett).  He spends most of the film blissfully unaware that she is having a nervous breakdown.

This passage was frankly hilarious:

While filming “Blue Jasmine,” there was no rehearsal and no talking on the set.  Everyone just showed up to work, leading to the sort of existential angst often evoked in Woody Allen movies.  “We’re so used to being led around by directors, producers and everyone else that, if you’re suddenly empowered by someone like this, it can be alarming,” says Mr. Sarsgaard.  The cast would ask, “But who am I?  Where do I come from?”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“Manhattan in the 1980s was a gritty place” – Tracy Cochran

Manhattan in the 1980s was a gritty place.  I used to think of it as having dark glamour but no more.  A few years before, I had come to Manhattan like someone drawing close to a fire.  I wanted to be warmed, enlightened.  But nothing turned out the way I hoped, not love, not work, not life.  I pictured myself a waif huddling along in a bleak neighborhood, bringing her own pasta to dinner.  The image was so pathetic that I savored it, a fragment of a modern Dickens tale.

—  Tracy Cochran, “The Night I Died” (in Parabola, the Heaven & Hell issue, Summer 2013)

Since self thinks the cover of this issue —  Summer 2013, the magazine’s 150th (Congratulations, Parabola!) is pretty fine, she snapped a picture of it:

The Magazine's 150th Issue:  Self thinks the cover is pretty fine.

The Magazine’s 150th Issue

It did remind her vaguely of the work of a Flemish artist, she wants to say Brueghel but isn’t sure.

Later, she comes upon the title of the second piece in the issue:  “Emanations of Divinity:  The Cosmology of Hieronymus Bosch,” by Lee van Leer.

Yes, of course, that’s whose work she thought of when contemplating the cover.  Bosch, not Brueghel.  Accompanying the essay by van Leer are details of Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights.

The Bosch work is a triptych.  It hangs in the Prado in Madrid.  This is an astonishing piece of work, dear blog readers.  The left and right panels, especially.

Stay tuned.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Masterpiece.

What a great prompt! Self is hugely enjoying the process of looking over all her travel photos and selecting the ones that fit the week’s current theme.

A masterpiece is, according to the The Daily Post Photo Challenge Prompt, “something extraordinary; a place that blows your mind; a work of art or object that speaks to you . . . ”

So here is self’s first post on the prompt Masterpiece:  The first two photos are from the early 2012  Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.  Self took son and Jennie to see the exhibit in February 2012. (They allowed photos, but no flash — the reason self chose these two is that she would never have thought grey knit could be so elegant!)

The last photo shows the ceiling of the cathedral at Jaro, a suburb of Iloilo.  Self’s maternal grandmother came from Jaro.

The utter fabulousness of Jean Paul Gaultier, now through August 19 at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park

The utter fabulousness of Jean Paul Gaultier, now through August 19, 2012 at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park

DSCN4383

The Cathedral in Jaro, Iloilo City (Nuestra Señora de Candelaria)

The Cathedral in Jaro, Iloilo City (Nuestra Señora de Candelaria)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Been So Long: San Francisco Chronicle Books

The past few years, self has been getting most of her book recommendations from the The New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, or the Women’s Review of Books. Today, though, she lands on the Book review section of the Sunday, July 21 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle, and she finds a number of interesting books. Here are a few of them:

From the section “Fresh Voices,” by Thomas Chatterton Williams:

Love All, by Callie Wright:  The story begins when Joanie Cole dies in her sleep, leaving her octogenarian husband, Bob, a surly widower.  The couple’s only daughter, Anne Obermeyer, a Harvard Law-trained Type A, takes him in, though the truth is, unlike her mother, she has never forgiven him for his philandering past.

In Times of Faltering Light, by Eugen Ruge:  A partly autobiographical study of the decline of one exemplary East German communist family, the kaleidoscopic novel tracks four generations of the Unmintzer clan over 50 years in three countries, with 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall looming over everything.

From the Fiction section:

Fin & Lady, by Cathleen Schine:  As the novel opens, it’s 1964, and 11-year-old Fin Hadley has had a terrible couple of years.  First, his bullying father died; then, in a cruel stroke of fate, his beloved mother did, too.  Now he’s an orphan, entrusted to the care of his half sister, Lady, a flighty, unreliable force of nature whom he hasn’t seen in six years.

a quintet of novels by recently deceased Scottish author Iain Banks:  The Wasp Factory, Complicity, The Use of Weapons, The Hydrogen Sonata, and The Quarry

From the Lit Picks section (recently reviewed titles):

Difficult Men:  Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution:  From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad, by Brett Martin:  “. . .  a smart, fascinating read on the serpentine histories of some of this generation’s most celebrated TV dramas”

Eleven Days, by Lea Carpenter:  a “debut novel, about a Navy SEAL son who has gone missing on a secret mission”

Big Brother, by Lionel Shriver:  “. . .  a story of a co-dependent relationship with an addict, except the topic of food issues feels so much more pertinent and interesting than the snort-it-shoot-it-smoke-it stories that have oversaturated the literary market”

From “Top Shelf” —  “Recommendations of new books from the staffs of a rotating list of Bay Area independent bookstores.  This week’s list is from Book Passage, 1 Ferry Building, San Francisco.”

FICTION RECOMMENDATIONS:

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Jay Fowler:  “Fowler’s tale alternates between humorous and heartbreaking, and is beginning-to-end engaging.  What makes a family?  In Fowler’s novel, one exceptional member sets the trajectory of all their lives.”

Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway, by Sara Gran:  “. . .  this second installment in the Claire DeWitt crime series finds her unraveling in San Francisco while searching for her former lover’s murder.”

NONFICTION RECOMMENDATIONS:

A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home:  Lessons in the Good Life From an Unlikely Teacher, by Sue Halpern:  “Halpern’s memoir is by turns funny and poignant, with observations on learning, virtue and companionship from sources including Plato, Aristotle and Temple Grandin.”

Mother Daughter Me:  A Memoir, by Katie Hafner:  “Hafner placed herself in the middle when she suggested forming a household including her 77-year-old mother and her teenage daughter.  How the idealistic plan combining three generations played out is this forhthright memoir’s story.”

The Good Food Revolution:  Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities, by Will Allen:  The man who started the nonprofit organization Growing Power “feeds and employs hundreds of inner-city people in the Midwest hungry for a healthy and affordable answer to growing urban food desserts.”

Homeward Bound:  Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity, by Emily Matchar:  “Women struggling to have it all are looking for solutions right at home, reclaiming the domestic sphere from attachment parenting to DIY careers.  But what does that mean for the future of feminism?  A great read to spark discussion.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh 4

More photos which mean FRESH to self!

Love the Stafford Park Wednesday evening concerts: a true rite of summer! These photographs are from yesterday evening’s concert.

DSCN0909 DSCN0914 DSCN0917

THE QUIET AMERICAN, by Graham Greene, p. 29 (Penguin Classics Edition, Intro by Robert Stone)

Cover Detail, The Quiet American (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

Cover Detail, The Quiet American (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

The narrator, a British journalist, and his Vietnamese girlfriend, Phuong, have just made the acquaintance of a young American named Pyle.  The setting is Vietnam in the last days of French colonial rule (sometime 1950s).

Self adores the writing.  Especially after the flighty, swoony prose of The Great Gatsby, which had her gritting her teeth with annoyance (She did read to the very end, though — which means Fitzgerald did exert some kind of hold on her imagination)

But let’s quit with the digressions and get to the excerpt from Greene:

This was a land of rebellious barons.  It was like Europe in the Middle Ages.  But what were the Americans doing here?  Columbus had not yet discovered their country.  I said to Phuong, “I like that fellow, Pyle.”

“He’s quiet,” she said, and the adjective which she was the first to use stuck like a schoolboy name, till I heard even Vigot use it, sitting there with his green eye-shade, telling me of Pyle’s death.

I stopped our trishaw outside the Chalet and said to Phuong, “Go in and find a table.  I had better look after Pyle.”  That was my first instinct — to protect him.  It never occurred to me that there was greater need to protect myself.  Innocence always calls mutely for protection when we would be so much wiser to guard ourselves against it:  innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.

Swoon, swoon, swoon.

Stay tuned.

The Summer is Complete!

Dear blog readers, the summer is complete.  Self has seen all the action and/or special effects movies that are available to be seen in multiplexes right now (with the exception of The Conjuring — self hates horror movies.  She skipped Saw, The Ring and its sequels, all the Nightmare on Elm Street sequels, and all the Exorcist sequels.  The only time she can take horror is when it’s science fiction horror, like Alien or Predator).

This summer, self has seen:

  • The Lone Ranger
  • Man of Steel
  • Pacific Rim (Self attended the first screening in the Redwood City Century 20, earlier today)
  • Star Trek:  Into Darkness (a disappointment)
  • White House Down (Mah Man Chan is in top form!)
  • World War Z

The only one that made her fall asleep was Man of Steel.  And the best of the lot is definitely Pacific Rim.  That’s because Pacific Rim was directed by Guillermo del Toro.  And he is way more refined than Michael Bay.  That is, he never does action just for action’s sake.

In Pacific Rim, he does great with a No-Name actor in the lead (though, if the young man does have a name, self would like to apologize in advance).  And with minor characters, like that small guy with the distinctive voice from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  And most of the extras are Asian, which would remind self every so often that there is a reason this movie is called Pacific Rim.  And it held true to all the summer action movie tropes, such as:

MAJOR SPOILER ALERTS

  • Opening with a big bang:  whatever you do, dear blog readers, do not miss the opening sequence. If you happen to be a die-hard popcorn aficionado, and are debating whether to line up for popcorn or head straight for the movie, dispense with the popcorn.  Because the first five minutes of Pacific Rim are where you get reminded of all the Godzilla movies you’ve ever seen (and even a few of those you haven’t) and nothing transports you to your childhood quicker than a really scary opening sequence involving monsters.
  • When a character nuzzles his dog for perhaps a beat or two longer than is absolutely necessary, you can be 100% sure that the character will shortly be mincemeat.
  • When there is extreme altitude loss, and the hero is involved, and his life hangs in the balance, and you and everyone else in the audience is on the edge of your seat, there can only be one outcome:  the hero will survive!  Not only will he survive, his smooching abilities will be greatly enhanced.  Because in the back of the hero’s mind will undoubtedly be the thought:  “Life’s too short!”  And so he will (naturalmente) throw all caution to the winds and plant a big, juicy wet one on the most attractive of his female co-stars.
  • When there are robots, there will be extreme mechanical malfunctions.

Not since Predator 2, dear blog readers, has self watched any movie that held more stringently to its genre tropes.

Hugely satisfying, an A+ experience.

That said, Mick La Salle of the San Francisco Chronicle was extremely cruel and mocking in his review of The Lone Ranger. He said Armie Hammer played The Lone Ranger like an “antihero imbecile.”  (OMG, has the man never heard the words “screwball comedy” before?)  He also called TLR the “worst movie of the year.”  The cartoon that accompanies his review in the Datebook actually shows an empty seat.

Well, self would just like to inform Mr. La Salle that there are many, many things worse than spending two hours in a movie theater watching Armie Hammer.  For instance, one could be watching a really depressing documentary about bulimia.  Or one could be watching a Michael Bay movie.  Or one could be with The Man in one of his Bad Mood Days, in which case he’ll be making maximum divertissement with the popcorn bucket.  Or one could be watching a French thriller, one not starring Gerard Depardieu.

Dear Mick raved about White House Down, and although self thinks Chan was extremely excellent and convincing in it, no way does this movie earn the top accolade (of a man jumping out of his seat).  It was OK, of course — any movie with Chan is OK — but if Chan hadn’t been in it, it would have been a “C” in self’s book.

There is one movie about which La Salle and self agree, however, and that is James Franco and Seth Rogen’s This Is the End.  It was truly hilarious (though, come to think of it, there are a lot of laughs, too, in Pacific Rim).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The New Yorker, 11 March 2013 (Briefly Noted)

(Dear blog readers will of course have noticed that the New Yorker in question dates from March 2013:  self’s backlog of unread journals and magazines is truly getting serious)

Without further ado, here are the four books in the Briefly Noted section, and the reasons self wants to read all of them:

The Real Jane Austen, by Paula Byrne (Harper)

Self would read anything about Jane Austen.  Anything.  Even if it were something about her eating habits.  That said, here are the strengths of this particular biography:  “Byrne makes a strong case that earlier biographers misinterpreted as sincere letters lampooning heartbroken sentimentalism . . .  Byrne shirks chronological constraints, beginning each chapter with an object of special significance in the author’s life —  a shawl, a wooden lap desk —  on the premise that much of Austen’s fiction was ‘made real by a few carefully chosen things.’ “

Louis Agassiz, by Christoph Irmscher (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Here we have a biography of a man who believed that “only whites were descended from Adam and Eve.”  Also, he was a fierce opponent of Darwinism.  Also, he was a Harvard professor.  Also, the biographer was his friend.  Also, also . . .  self is just curious to see how such a man deserves a biography.

Ten White Geese, by Gerbrand Bakker, translated from the Dutch by David Colmer (Penguin)

The novel is about “an Emily Dickinson scholar” who “has moved from Amsterdam to live on a rented farm in rural Wales.  An abundance of physical description gives the novel a peculiar texture, but it moves rapidly along: a card from her husband arrives; a boy stumbles onto her property and stays; a small flock of geese disappear one by one.  But at the farm, her primary relationship is with Dickinson and her work, which tries ‘to hold back time, making it bearable and less lonely too perhaps, by capturing it in hundreds of poems.’ “

City of Angels, by Christa Wolf, translated from the German by Damion Searls (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

“Billed as a novel, this work by one of the leading literary figures of East Germany is more like a journal — with a digressive, quotidian pace and recognizably autobiographical content.  In 1992-93, Wolf, who died in 2011, was a fellow at the Getty Center, and a narrator much like Wolf explores Los Angeles and mourns her lost country in the wake of Communism’s collapse . . .  Wolf uses the image of Freud’s overcoat as a metaphor for memory’s instability:  ‘the coat that keeps you warm but also hidden, that you have to turn inside out.’ “

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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