Further Achievements, 2014

Self is still coming up with posts for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge:  ACHIEVEMENTS.

It is a very fun exercise, which has her reflecting on the many excitements occurring in the year 2014,

One of which was: She saw the Book of Kells! It is housed in Trinity College, Dublin. Self had to endure a humongous line, and they don’t allow pictures. But it was definitely worth it.

Trinity College, Dublin: June 2014

Trinity College, Dublin: June 2014

She explored the beautiful countryside around Cork and spent two nights in Ballyvolane House:

Approaching Ballyvolane House in County Cork, Ireland

Approaching Ballyvolane House in County Cork, Ireland

She saw the Harry Potter Dining Hall! Which was actually the dining hall of Christ Church, Oxford. Luckily, she was one of the last batch of tourists allowed inside before dinner was served to the residents:

The Dining Hall of Christ Church, Oxford: May 2014

The Dining Hall of Christ Church, Oxford: May 2014

Servers were just wheeling in carts piled with plates and cutlery. Fabulous!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

And Now, Jeff Baker of the OREGONIAN

Self will just keep posting the funniest/wittiest reviews for “Mockingjay, Part 1,” regardless of whether the reviewer liked the movie or not. Self is still sitting on the fence about watching it. She fell into the Peeta camp about 1/3 of the way into the first Hunger Games book, and put off reading the end for two years because she was so sure the baker boy would die. Until niece G, still in Stanford at the time, relieved her mind and assured her that “Peeta makes it.”

Of course it is distressing to self when Baker describes on-screen Peeta as “a scrawny wimp” who is nevertheless “catnip to Katniss.” Make no mistake: when self first saw the pictures of the actor cast as Peeta, she confesses being absolutely befuddled. But the hotness quotient of J-Hutch rose markedly with “Catching Fire,” thank you Francis Lawrence. Apologies for the digression, dear blog readers.

Now, back to the Baker review of “Mockingjay, Part 1”:

Baker is upset that “Katniss fires her bow exactly once” (We’ve all seen that moment in the trailers) and that “her big action scene involves rescuing a cat.” She deposits on Gale “a pity smooch” (Thank God it’s only a pity smooch, dear blog readers, or self would definitively refuse to see this movie) and “Hutcherson acts like he’s drugged, as usual.”

What’s so funny is that Peeta actually IS drugged, at least he is after being taken by the Capitol. Baker does, however, offer up this morsel:

The best part of “Mockingjay, Part 1” is when Katniss sings “The Hanging Tree.”

That’s right, Jennifer Lawrence can sing. Not only can she sing, J-Law turns “The Hanging Tree” into a murder ballad that calls back to her Kentucky roots and causes rebels across Panem to march forward and blow up a dam, eco-terrorist, look-for-the-union-label style.

Strange things did happen, no stranger would it be. If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree.

Yes indeed, “The Hanging Tree” is a strange little ditty, but self loves it. Loves that Suzanne Collins put such a macabre song into her YA novels and that Katniss gets to sing it in the movie.

And with that, good day, dear blog readers.

Oh Michael Phillips (Movie Critic for The Chicago Tribune) You Are So Witty!

Michael Phillips deserves major kudos for wit in his review of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 (Self was about to put a hyphen after Mockingjay, good thing she decided to double-check because the split in the movie title is accomplished with a comma — and why self should find that detail so significant is currently beyond her capacity to explain)

From the opening sentence, self found herself chuckling:

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 is a worthy third movie in the Suzanne Collins franchise — destined to satisfy the legions of filmgoers willing to swing with a lot of scheming and skulking in an underground bunker resembling the world’s most frightening Marriott, in order to get to the revolution.

Jennifer Lawrence is “a crier, but also a fighter” LOL

He digs deep and comes up with the best quote ever from Effie Trinket:  “I’m condemned to this life of jumpsuits.”

And he even manages to find a way to avoid saying how the film ends:  “Much of the film is pitched at a conversational hush, so it’s doubly striking when Katniss and Peeta reunite and the results . . .  well, spoiler, so . . .  I’ll shut up.”

Kudos, MP. Major kudos.

 

 

 

Professional Critic: “Interstellar” Movie

The best “Interstellar” review self has read so far is by Noel Vera, on his Critic After Dark” blog.  Here’s the opening paragraph:

Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” starts out very Grapes of Wrath and ends up a little Book of Genesis. Along the way you see the influence of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (of course); design bits from “Alien” and “Star Wars”; story details from (though I don’t see Nolan ever confirming this) “Marooned”, Brian de Palma’s “Mission to Mars” and (guessing he’d rather die than admit it) “Field of Dreams”; imagery from “The Right Stuff” and (this Nolan does admit — it’s a much tonier source) Tarkovsky’s “The Mirror.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Various Achievements, 2014

Self’s been to southern California a lot this year. And one of the nice things about being in southern California is: There are a LOT of her Dad’s side of the family living there.

Had dinner with one branch of the Villanuevas at Max’s in Glendale (There’s a branch in South San Francisco that was one of son’s faaaavorite restaurants when he was growing up), which included Llana, the daughter of self’s first cousin Eddie Villanueva (or Estoy, as everyone in Bacolod calls him), Llana’s husband, and Llana’s stepson. Oh joy!

Llana (in the middle) is the daughter of my Manong Eddie, which makes her my niece!

Llana (in the middle) is the daughter of self’s Manong Eddie, which makes her self’s niece! She is absolutely adorable.

Another thing readers of this blog might have gleaned is that self has a weakness for ice cream. She loves discovering new ice cream flavors and new ice cream stores. One of the places she’s been hearing about FOREVER is Mitchell’s Ice Cream in San Francisco. Even though it’s right around the corner from the place where her writers group sometimes meets, she’s always been too intimidated by the line snaking out the door to stop for a look-see.  Finally, though, self decided she just couldn’t let more time go by without trying Mitchell’s ice cream. She went in and ordered “young coconut” (buko) Oh my, it was heavenly:

Mitchell's Ice Cream is Nirvana!

Mitchell’s Ice Cream is Nirvana!

This was also the year when self saw her first hedgehog! Self spotted it at the San Francisco Zoo.

Self seems to have terrified this adorable little hedgehog, huddled in a pen in the San Francisco Zoo.

Self seems to have terrified this adorable little hedgehog, huddled in a pen in the San Francisco Zoo.

This is an event of some significance because self has been on such a tear, writing story after story after story, and in one of her new stories (science fiction, started while at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland), hedgehogs play a very important role (Just because self had never, ever laid eyes on an actual hedgehog wasn’t an impediment to writing a story featuring hedgehogs). A very mean boss who happens to be Earthstar makes pejorative remarks at a peon and calls him a “lousy hedgehog.” Which is just about the worst insult one can utter, in the year 2104.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

She’s Finished the Murakami, Hurrah!

This evening, self ripped through the last third of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.  She thinks the narrator might have come out of the well.  But does he ever find his wife Kumiko?

The reader learns that a character named Nutmeg, along with her mother, “escaped from Manchuria to Japan, their only valuables the jewelry they were able to wear on their bodies.” (p. 470)  There’s a description of horrible atrocities.

What. A. Downer.

Self may have to re-read the last hundred or so pages. She wants to be absolutely clear about who did what to whom.

While trying to make up her mind about whether to go back over the last hundred pages of the Murakami, she tries beginning Donna Leon’s Death and Judgment. Just so that she can anticipate what she’s in for.

P. 10:

After the meeting, which he had arranged to coincide with his next appointment, Trevisan met for a weekly dinner with a business associate.  They had met in Venice the previous week, so tonight they met in Padua.  Like all of their meetings, this one was marked by the cordiality that results from success and prosperity.  Good food, good wine, and good news.

Trevisan’s partner drove him to the train station where, as he did every week, he caught the Intercity for Trieste, which would get him to Venice by ten-fifteen.

Self thinks she might have taken this same train in May last year, when she left Venice and did a two-night stay in Trieste.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Quote of the Day: From The Happiness Project’s One-Sentence Journal (A Five-Year Record)

Boy oh boy, the toll of staying up to watch Fallon and SNL has certainly taken its toll.  It’s 8:36 p.m. and self is ready for bed.

She drove to the City to meet up with her writers group at Jay’s house. Jay, Lillian, Grace, Caroline, Brian: self adores you. Each meeting makes self soooo happy.

Jay shared the December issue of Wired. The cover story is an article about “Interstellar” director Christopher Nolan.

She drove back home and The Man took her to dinner at Thaibodia on Woodside Road.

Today, Nov. 16, 2014, self listed the following things in her One-Sentence Journal:

  • Submitted “The Red Door” to FRiGG, Gigantic, and PANK.
  • Workshopped six short shorts from Lillian.

The One-Sentence Journal Quote of the Day is:

Because money permits a constant stream of luxuries and indulgences, it can take away their savor; by permitting instant gratification, it shortcuts the happiness of anticipation.

The next writers group meeting is Jan. 18.  By which time self will already be in Mendocino, boo. It’s about a three or four-hour drive each way.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Achievement 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Angela's husband did this all himself! Oh, the joys of living in a place (Chicago) where Fall/Winter are real seasons.

Angela’s husband did this all himself! Oh, the joys of living in a place (Chicago) where Fall/Winter are real seasons.

Chris Pratt Overcame the Odds and Re-Invented Himself as a Hunk in "Guardians of the Galaxy" -- WOOT HOOT!!!

Chris Pratt overcame the odds and re-invented himself as a hunk in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the popcorn movie of the summer — WOOT HOOT!!!

Connie and her son, Julian, after mass at San Gabriel church in southern California. Self has known Connie since she was in grade school. But she'd never met any other members of Connie's family until August 2014. Self would say meeting Connie's family was quite an achievement.

Connie and her son, Julian, after mass at San Gabriel church in southern California. Self has known Connie since she was in grade school. But she’d never met any other members of Connie’s family until August 2014, when she attended Sunday mass at Connie’s church. Meeting Connie’s son was EPIC.

 

 

Yesterday, Second Friday of November (2014): “Interstellar” (Spoiler Free)

The year is almost done.  Incredible.

Yesterday, self watched “Interstellar” in her local Century 20.

Matthew McConaughey was brilliant. Just. Brilliant.

Self also liked Jessica Chastain in the role of the grown-up “Murph.”

Self was likewise pleased about the casting of Casey Affleck. For a rather slight guy, no one (with the possible exception of Ben Foster) can project steely — i.e. unhinged — menace better than Casey Affleck. Wonder how it would have played out if he, not his brother Ben, had been cast in “Gone, Girl.” Self thinks it might have been a more interesting movie. More nuanced.

As usual, Anne Hathaway’s doe-eyed teary moments had self cringing. But, thankfully, her emo scenes were not saccharine enough to derail the movie.

Which means — “Interstellar” was one heck of a good movie! Maybe her favorite movie of the year!

All hail, McConaughey!  All hail, Christopher Nolan!  All hail, sentient rectangular slabs (Take THAT, Transformers!)

Yesterday was also self’s first time to watch “Constantine” the TV series adaptation. She loved it. So creepy.

Last night, Liam Hemsworth, guest on Fallon, visibly much more relaxed (because not in the presence of his two children — er, co-stars), donned high-heeled stilettos and showed the world that he is indeed capable of pulling off some sexy moves. Especially when not feeling/looking like an odd-man-out in a love triangle.

In the meantime, Channing who?

This is incredibly surprising, but self actually did find herself wiping away a few tears towards the end of “Interstellar.” In fact, “Interstellar” may just have become self’s favorite Christopher Nolan movie. That scene on the watery planet? It just may be the BEST moment of suspense you’ll see in any movie this year, dear blog reader. And, before self forgets — Topher Grace was in the movie, too! Self loooves Topher Grace! Where’s he been hiding all these years? Topher is a participant in the second-most-suspenseful scene in “Interstellar.” Thank you, Christopher Nolan, for bringing this fine actor to the attention of the film-going public once more.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Achievement: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Stories of Achievement:

1st, Nutschell Ann Windsor, Filipina American, writer, brown-belter in the Philippine martial art of arnis

Nutschell Ann Windsor is a graduate of the University of the Philippines, a UCLA Extension Program Administrator, and co-editor of an anthology called SPROUTS.

Nutschell Ann Windsor is a graduate of the University of the Philippines, a UCLA Extension Program Administrator, and co-editor of an anthology called SPROUTS.

2nd, Angela Narciso Torres, whose poetry collection Blood Orange won the Willow Book Prize in 2013:

Angela Narciso Torres, poet, reading from her poetry collection, BLOOD ORANGE, at Beyond Baroque Literary Center in Venice Beach, CA, Nov. 2

Angela Narciso Torres reading from her poetry collection, BLOOD ORANGE, at Beyond Baroque Literary Center in Venice Beach, CA, Nov. 2

3rd, Matthew Torres, son of Angela, a visual artist and a junior at USC. He painted this in honor of his mother’s poetry collection, Blood Orange.  Took the shot in the lobby of Beyond Baroque Literary Center, just before Angela’s reading.

Matthew, son of Angela Narciso Torres, is a junior in USC. He painted this for his mother, to illustrate her collection BLOOD ORANGE.

Matthew, son of Angela Narciso Torres, is a junior in USC. He painted this for his mother, to illustrate her collection BLOOD ORANGE.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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