Bookends/ The Joy of a Quiet Afternoon

Two days since Thanksgiving ended.  Though self had no one over, the clatter in her head can be quite deafening, a clatter the sole other occupant in this house is always happy to add to.  Every day brings a new spurt of instructions, whether it’s when to mail bills or covering windows with cardboard.  Mother-in-law said it best:  “My son is such a character.”

Now he has stepped out, without any prior warning: A friend of his from Ateneo, Randy, came over.  Self imagined both would want to watch the games.  But suddenly, after she’d bought all manner of chips and snacks and drinks and ham and what-have-you, she arrived to find the two men preparing to go out.  What is self going to do with all this food?  She’ll send it home with Randy, probably.  It’s either that or scarf on chips for days on end.

Anyhoo, after self watered a bit, she settled down in the tiny room she calls her “Office.”  This has all her memorabilia, all her saved literary magazines, all her knick-knacks.  Through the French doors, she can look right into the backyard:

The View From Self's "Office": What a Gorgeous Day!

The View From Self’s “Office”: What a Gorgeous Day!

These bookends were from a consignment store in San Carlos, whose name is eluding self.  It's on Laurel Street.

These bookends were from a consignment store in San Carlos, whose name is eluding self. It’s on Laurel Street.

The Rabbit keeps her literary magazines upright.  One Story faces out.

The Rabbit keeps her literary magazines upright. One Story faces out.

Now self settles down to tackle a huge pile of back issues of The New York Times Book Review.  There’s a “Let’s Read About Sex” issue, and the October 20, 2013 issue, which has more than the usual number of “Women’s Literature” reviews.  Self is bored reading about sex in the staid NYTBR.  It would be much more fun reading books about sex if she were reading something like Rolling Stone.  So she goes for the October 20, 2013 issue.

A short story collection by T. C. Boyle is reviewed in this issue.  Self really loves T. C. Boyle so she is happy to read the review (and would read anything by him, regardless of whether the review was good or bad).  There’s a review of a novel about the forty-ish Bridget Jones, and a review of a Scandinavian novel in which a traumatized woman is plagued by the conviction that her husband is guilty of a heinous crime (Don’cha just love those traumatized women in Scandinavian novels who are so . . . so noir-ishly fragile in temperament!  After all, there can never be another Lisbeth Salander.  That’s over.  That’s done.  Now it’s back to the Scandinavian women of an Ingmar Bergman movie)

Of the four crime novels reviewed by Marilyn Stasio in this issue (Sunday, October 20, 2013), two are set in Florence.  How absolutely fabulous!  That’s Florence, Italy, in case you were wondering.  The third is set in Manhattan (It’s by Jeffery Deaver, who writes about Manhattan like nobody’s business).  And the last one is set in a small town in Connecticut — but in 1956.  Self likely won’t get to the Connecticut novel, as she is easily confused by mysteries that happen in the recent past (Mysteries about the way, waaaaay past are much easier on her nerves.  At least, everything’s different, not like the ones set in the 1950s, where self keeps forgetting the decade and then wonders why she is so confused)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Day After Thanksgiving 2013

Oh, such a GLORIOUS day in the San Francisco Bay Area!

Self took The Man to see “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” She saw it on Wednesday and really liked it.  Besides which, she got to see the episode of SNL hosted by Josh Hutcherson (Nov. 23, 2013) and the guy KILLED it, OK?  Just KILLED it.

So, anyhoo, there was self today, watching it again, and the other thing she forgot to mention when she watched it the first time was that she came 10 minutes late, so she missed all the gooey stuff between Katniss and Gale, but since Liam Hemsworth is about as dull a love interest as can be, she figured she didn’t miss much, and she was right.

So, the second time around, self was not at all bored, even though she already knew the outcome.  And in fact, it was nice to relish all the performances, particularly those of: Jennifer Lawrence. Jena Malone. Stanley Tucci. Elizabeth Banks.  Philip Seymour Hoffman. The new guy, the one who plays Finnick (makes his first entrance sporting a necklace that looks like it’s made of black Philippine pearls. Self swears, she has seen necklaces exactly like that in the Philippines!)  The fragile old woman who plays his partner, Mags.  Jeremy Wright.  Amanda Plummer.  And of course, our man JOSH HUTCHERSON.

The only person whose performance was not completely on the same level as the others was Donald Sutherland’s.  That is, he acted like the same old Donald Sutherland.  But, still, his appearances did not detract from self’s enjoyment of the movie as a whole.

Since she rarely gets to watch a movie twice, and even more rarely enjoys watching a movie twice, she’ll have to add “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” to her list of Best Movies of 2013, bumping off the grotesquely hilarious “Bad Grandpa.”  That becomes Honorable Mention, together with the documentary “Blackfish.”

  1. “Philomena” (Judi Dench and Steve Coogan turn in bravura performances)
  2. “Gravity” (Sandra Bullock turns in a bravura performance, not to mention she gets away with wearing teensy boy shorts in deepest space!)
  3. “The Spectacular Now” (Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller deliver bravura performances)
  4. “Captain Phillips” (Tom Hanks and the pirates turn in bravura performances.  Self hates that Catherine Keener was given nothing to do)
  5. “Warm Bodies” (Nicholas Hoult!  Nicholas Hoult!  Nicholas Hoult!  Honestly, self had no idea who he was until she saw him play a zombie)
  6. “Hunger Games:  Catching Fire” (Yay for Jennifer Lawrence! Yay for Jena Malone! Yay for Woody Harrelson!  Yay for Elizabeth Banks! Yay for Jeremy Wright! Yay for Stanley Tucci!  Yay for Amanda Plummer!  And Triple Yay for JOSH HUTCHERSON!)
  7. “Much Ado About Nothing” (Self loooved Amy Acker in the role of the oh-so-prickly — but hilarious — Beatrice.  And Joss Whedon’s house deserves special mention)
  8. “Blue Jasmine” (There is no one who could have done this role better than Cate Blanchett.  Peter Sarsgaard was a plus)
  9. “Harana” (A Filipino documentary — directed by Benito Bautista — that had self in tears)
  10. “12 Years a Slave” (Chiwetel Ejiofor.  Benedict Cumberbatch.  Michael Fassbender.  Paul Dano.  Lupita Nyong’o.  Paul Giamatti:  They each gave their all.  Self was absolutely bowled over by Lupita Nyong’o, who was heartrending as the slave of a sadistic plantation owner, played with sinister creepiness by Michael Fassbender)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Vagabondage Press Wants Your Manuscript

They published self’s novella, Jenalyn. Seriously, folks, this is one daring and intrepid publisher.

Now, they want your manuscript!  Specifically, they are looking for manuscripts for Dark Alley Press and Vagabondage Romance.

So, send them your dark fiction.  Your horror, paranormal, and gothic fiction.  Your romances, love stories, and erotica.

They will consider manuscripts of the following lengths:

  • Novelette:  8,000 to 24,000 words
  • Novella:  25,000 to 45,000 words
  • Traditional Novel Length:  46,000 to 100,000 words

Here’s what they’re looking for:

We encourage submissions with diverse and unusual characters, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity.  We prefer quirkier characters and quirkier story lines, humorous and clever, non-typical and intelligent heroes and heroines, with character-driven stories.

Provide a pitch and brief synopsis of your work on the first page of your manuscript.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Thanksgiving 2013

Ouch!  The poor Oakland Raiders.  Squelched by the Dallas Cowboys.  Well, it was fun to dream (for a while).

Ouch!  So hard to be just the two of us (Self and The Man) for Thanksgiving. Sole Fruit of Our Loins is attending a swing competition in Palm Springs. Self called him this morning to wish him a Happy Thanksgiving.

Ouch!  Self’s right arm.  She watered like mad.

Ouch!  Self’s tummy, stuffed with buttered popcorn, two days in a row:  Yesterday, she watched “The Hunger Games:  Catching Fire.”  Wow, what a great improvement over the first movie!  First of all, there is gratifyingly so much more of Peeta!  Peeta!  Peeta!  All the tween-y movies have to have a love triangle — why?  But self is definitely on the side of Team Peeta.

SPOILER ALERT!

There is a gorgeous new character (Johanna) who is such a hoot.  Self thinks she recognized Jena Malone.  And there was a Kooky Woman who was played by the Best Actress For Playing Kooky Women:  of course self is referring to Amanda Plummer.  And Woody Harrelson, too, is such a hoot.  And self loved that Elizabeth Banks’ character, Effie, gets to cry:  self was wondering if her false eyelashes would fall off?

Today, on the basis of Eric Snider’s giving the film an A- (If you are a regular follower of Eric Snider, you know that he almost never gives A’s), self and The Man watched “Philomena.”  Oh, watch it and weep, dear blog readers!  It is quite possibly the BEST movie self has seen all year.  She will add it to her current “10 Best Movies of 2013” list.

  1. “Philomena” (Judi Dench and Steve Coogan turn in bravura performances)
  2. “Gravity” (Sandra Bullock turns in a bravura performance, not to mention she gets away with wearing teensy boy shorts in deepest space!)
  3. “The Spectacular Now” (Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller deliver bravura performances)
  4. “Captain Phillips” (Tom Hanks and the pirates turn in bravura performances.  Self hates that Catherine Keener was given nothing to do)
  5. “Warm Bodies” (Nicholas Hoult!  Nicholas Hoult!  Nicholas Hoult!)
  6. “Bad Grandpa” (Simultaneously goofy and appalling)
  7. “Much Ado About Nothing” (Self loooved Amy Acker in the role of the oh-so-prickly — but hilarious — Beatrice.  And Joss Whedon’s house deserves special mention)
  8. “Blue Jasmine” (There is no one who could have done this role better than Cate Blanchett.  Peter Sarsgaard was a plus)
  9. “Harana” (A Filipino documentary — directed by Benito Bautista — that had self in tears)
  10. “12 Years a Slave” (Chiwetel Ejiofor.  Benedict Cumberbatch.  Michael Fassbender.  Paul Dano.  Lupita Nyong’o.  Paul Giamatti:  They each gave their all.  Self’s favorite was Lupita Nyong’o, as the tragic slave of a sadistic plantation owner, played with sinister creepiness by Michael Fassbender)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Day Before Thanksgiving 2013

Self is reading her UCLA Extension students’ work (This is not work; it is fun).

They had to hand in their final assignments yesterday, and self has to send feedback over the next few days.

Since it is just herself and The Man at home (Sole Fruit of Her Loins is attending a swing dance contest in Palm Springs, and Jennie is driving home to Las Cruces New Mexico), self does not feel any pressure at all to have a Thanksgiving table laid out.  She did, however, buy a prime rib roast; The Man says he will barbecue it in the backyard.

She has looked at the movies currently showing and is very excited to see that Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” has arrived at Palo Alto Square.  Moreover, “All is Lost” is still showing, as is James Gandolfini’s last movie (whose name self is blanking on at the moment; it’s a romantic comedy with Julia Louis-Dreyfus)

She looks over her reading list and adds a couple more books:  Annette Gordon-Reed’s The Hemingses of Monticello:  An American Family; a novel about Guatemala by Sylvia Sellers-Garcia, When the Ground Turns In Its Sleep; Alix Kates Shulman’s 1972 autobiographical novel, Memoirs Read the rest of this entry »

Tacloban Lives!

Check out photographer Gerry Ruiz’s pictures, posted on his Facebook page.

This is his most recent post (Just before 3 a.m., Pacific Standard Time):

Just wanted to say we in Tacloban are far from being under “normal” conditions.  With telephone and power lines down, our only means of internet connection is via mobile phone.  Yes, since Yolanda struck, all photos I’ve posted here were uploaded using my iPhone via Globe 3G which is a far cry from a broadband connection or anything like that.  We make do with what we have.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Unexpected 4: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Self loves that Weng is so playful.  She and her sister, Gemma, run the Negros Museum Café, one of self's favorite Bacolod hangouts.

Self loves that Weng is so playful. She and her sister, Gemma, run the Negros Museum Café, one of self’s favorite Bacolod hangouts.

Self in "Awesome Mode": This was the birthday card that Jennie, Son's Fabulous Girlfriend, sent her a few months ago.

Self in “Awesome Mode”: This was the birthday card that Jennie, Son’s Fabulous Girlfriend, sent her a few months ago. Self began writing a series of stories whose main character is called Leaping Kitty.

It was so foggy,, Sunday, 23 June 2013:  That day, self and The Man had taken son and Jennie to the Legion of Honor.

It was so foggy,, Sunday, 23 June 2013: That day, self and The Man had taken son and Jennie to the Legion of Honor.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Unexpected (Not a WordPress Photo Challenge Post)

This evening, self got an e-mail message from a young woman with a very familiar last name:  La’O.

Here’s what the message said:

Hello!  My name is Monica.  I am the daughter of Maia La’O (Assumption ‘y4).  I have a baking company based in Los Altos.  Our meringue kisses make delightful hostess, teacher, and coworkers gifts.  Discover that perfect little treat to share this holiday season below!

Here’s the link.

The name of Monica’s bakery is Olamola Confectionery.  The address is:

146 Main Street, Suite 214
Los Altos, CA 94022

After self finished reading the testimonials, she developed a mad craving for a meringue.  She got up from the bed, where she’d been nesting with many pillows, nursing a cold, and put on some leggings, socks, and a sweatshirt.  She saw the time:  8:15 p.m.  She knew there’d be something open — maybe not Olamola, but something similar.  She made up her mind to go to Los Altos first thing tomorrow morning to meet this wonderful young woman, the daughter of someone who used to be the classmate of self’s older sister, Paz.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Unexpected 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

More unexpected occurrences!

When self first read the WordPress Photo Challenge prompt, last Friday, she thought it was a difficult one. But, after she posted once, it became easier. Now she can’t seem to stop posting on the totally Unexpected things she experienced during her recent trip to Miami.

A bracelet made out of safety pins! Found it in the gift shop of the Lowe Art Museum on the University of Miami campus.

A bracelet made out of safety pins! Found it in the gift shop of the Lowe Art Museum on the University of Miami campus.

Nandini Dhar was a student in self's Essential Beginnings class in the UCLA Extension Writers Program. When she found out (from Facebook!) that self was traveling to Miami, she arranged to meet.  She and her partner Dennis moved to Miami from Texas, just two months ago!

Nandini Dhar was a student in self’s Essential Beginnings class in the UCLA Extension Writers Program. When she found out (from Facebook!) that self was traveling to Miami, she arranged to meet. She and her partner Dennis moved to Miami from Texas, just two months ago!

Make Way for Ducklings!  This mother and her adorable brood were on the lawn directly in front of the Lowe Art Museum, on the University of Miami campus.

Make Way for Ducklings! This mother and her adorable brood were on the lawn directly in front of the Lowe Art Museum, on the University of Miami campus.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Difficulty of “Unexpected” (This Week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge)

Self is perusing other WordPress blogs to see how people have interpreted this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, “Unexpected.”

Turns out she wasn’t mistaken when she thought the theme was difficult.

There was one interpretation she really liked, however: the entry posted by Run Toward the Light.

Kindness, especially when unexpected, is a truly wonderful thing.

So here is self’s second attempt to post about the theme “Unexpected.”

The Man accompanied self on her latest trip: THAT was very unexpected (and nice)

The Man accompanied self on her latest trip: THAT was very unexpected (and nice)

There were several fantastically costumed creatures on stilts wandering around the 30th Annual Miami International Book Fair yesterday -- totally unexpected!

There were several fantastically costumed creatures on stilts wandering around the 30th Annual Miami International Book Fair yesterday — totally unexpected!

Street Art, Downtown Miami:  Art is everywhere in the City -- An Unexpected Delight

Street Art, Downtown Miami: Art is everywhere in the City — An Unexpected Delight

Self has spent the last week in Miami.  She loves that it is such an un-American city.  She’s heard Spanish more often than English, that’s for sure.  And in the Mall of the Americas, only 5 minutes from self’s hotel, the Fast Food Court includes choices in Cuban and Nicaraguan cuisine.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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