Treat: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is Halloween-themed!

Here are self’s ideas of TREATS:

Hot Chocolate and Peanut Butter & Jelly Square, Joaquin Torres, Broadway & 72nd

Hot Chocolate and Peanut Butter & Jelly Square, Jacques Torres Chocolates, Broadway & 72nd

Being surrounded by books: such a treat! Extraordinary. The best form of indulgence:

Borderlands, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Bookstore, Valencia Street, San Francisco

Borderlands, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Bookstore, Valencia Street, San Francisco

Finally, watching plays is such a treat. On the same level of pleasure as reading a good book.

Here’s one of her favorite venues: the Bruns Amphitheatre in Orinda, where Cal Shakes presents Shakespeare through the warm months of summer and early fall. The last play she saw here was “King Lear,” with Anthony Heald. Superb!

Bruns Amphitheatre, Orinda, California

Bruns Amphitheatre, Orinda, California

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Halloween-Themed Everlark! Miss Honeywell: “First We Feast”

Gale, Madge (Gale’s pregnant wife) and Katniss are off on a quest to find District Twelve, a mysterious place that doesn’t appear on any map. They are there because Katniss wants to scatter her parents’ ashes at the place where they were married: Twelve Souls Chapel, 508 Nightlock Road, District Twelve. Scouring the internet for information, Katniss learns that there is a very good roadside diner in Twelve, famous for its “delicious baked pastries” LOL!

Along the way, they pass an eerily deserted landscape, with only one gas station for miles and miles. Faster than one can say Holy Texas Chainsaw Massacre, an attendant appears, whose name just happens to be Haymitch. He makes various dolorous pronouncements (Such as: “Careful touching the merchandise, you might get tetanus.”). The very last thing he says to the trio is: STAY ALIVE.

Back in the car, the following conversation ensues:

Katniss:  Have you seen a single police station or car in the entire time we’ve been on this trip?

Gale (stubborn, per usual):  911 exists for a reason.

Katniss (mimicking a caller):  Hello, 911? There was a grumpy old man at a gas station that hurt my feelings.

As dear blog readers well know, everyone in fan fiction has an alias. But they are very real people, of course. One happens to live right in Hoboken, New Jersey. How does self know? Because Katniss Everdeen, Demonhunter, is set in Hoboken, New Jersey, LOL!

And after reading First We Feast, self knows for a fact that Miss Honeywell is English. How does self know this? Because only an English writer would have a sentence like this: “Sussing out where exactly the township of District Twelve was located hadn’t been easy.”

Self needs to warn dear blog readers that this is a very cheesy story, with double intendrés sprinkled all over the text like white on rice (Exhibit A: Peeta to Katniss, Do you want me to help you fill up. Actually he said something else, but self cannot for the life of her quote the actual line without cracking up)

And just as Katniss and Peeta (who met only minutes earlier, in the aforementioned diner with everyone’s favorite baker the sole occupant) kiss, they suddenly hear:


Then Katniss makes the very dumb decision to go with the stranger into the woods but, hey, what can self say, this is Peeta we’re talking about here!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Careful 3: Borderlands, San Francisco; Whitney Museum of Art, New York; a Street in Cork, Ireland

Selection requires care. Here’s a shelf of staff picks from Borderlands, a science fiction and fantasy bookstore on Valencia Street in San Francisco:

Borderlands, San Francisco: Staff Picks

Borderlands, San Francisco: Staff Picks

Another example of CAREFUL: Alexander Calder’s whimsical miniature “Circus”, at the Whitney Museum of Art near New York’s High Line. All art requires care. Calder’s miniatures are tops in this regard:

The pieces move. A video accompanying the exhibit shows how.

The pieces move. A video accompanying the exhibit shows how.

Cork, Ireland: Self loves this particular street, only a block or so from the bookstore Vibes and Scribes. Ireland is justifiably proud of its rich literary heritage. Faces of the greats adorn the side of a building on a small side street:

Great Irish writers, commemmorated on a mural in the beautiful city of Cork

Great Irish writers, commemorated on a mural in the beautiful city of Cork

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Self’s Fan Fiction: So “Meta”

As self got to Chapter 44 of her Hunger Games Everlark Fan Fiction, which she’d begun last year, in Chicago, she realized she’d written herself (or, rather, her characters) into a corner.

Peeta, the main, was last seen running flat out down a Capitol Avenue, completely naked, while two men in black suits (who self can’t help calling — if only in her head — Tweedledum and Tweedledee) give chase.

In order to close the scene properly, she had to show what happened to Peeta.

But other than teleportation, she didn’t know how to solve the problem. And teleportation is such a cop-out (though, in this case, it would be really effective, since it would get Peeta back to 12, where Katniss sits waiting. Oh, BTW, Katniss is married to Gale — the AWFULNESS of it all! — and Gale is still alive. Only he’s in jail. Framed for the murder of Peeta’s father. Because Cray, who arrested him, has the hots for Katniss. And enjoys making Katniss go to his office so he can keep extending the most lascivious and stomach-churning invitations to her.)

So since the start of this year Peeta has been languishing, naked, in the Capitol, with no hope of rescue.

But, self being the wiliest fan fiction writer on the planet, she devised a couple of different endings, and posted them all.

But — copout, much?

One reader inquired: “Umm, is this the end? No little anything between the other train station in a bathrobe and the Post-Epilogue? EEEEEEEK !!!”

And well may that reader say “EEEEEEK !!!”  Self is so EEEEEEK herself, she can’t even.

Stay tuned.

Careful 2: The Habits of a Writer

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is CAREFUL.

Careful, according to The Daily Post prompt, can refer to many things: a photograph taken with care, a person being careful, or a task or detail requiring care.

The way this week has gone — dinner with Drew in Koreatown; a reception for Chamber Music Artists; Asian American Writers Workshop double book launch of Luis Francia and Midori Yamamura; and Penny Jackson’s play “Louise in Charlottesville” — and the pouring rain yesterday, self had absolutely not a spare moment. GRRRR.

But here are three pictures of what “Careful” means to self.

First, she never goes anywhere without her journal. She uses it primarily to make random observations.

Last night, on the train, a conductor seemed anal about the passengers’ “dirty feet.” Over and over, he admonished the passengers NOT. TO. PUT. DIRTY. FEET. UP. ON. THE. SEATS. Nearly drove self mad.

Upper West Side, New York City: Taking Notes in a Chocolate Shop on Broadway

Upper West Side, New York City: Taking Notes in a Chocolate Shop on Broadway

Her friend has a beautiful apartment on the Upper West Side. She is a writer, of course.

You can always tell the quality of a mind by the quality of that person's bookshelves. These belong to a friend who lives in the Upper West Side.

You can always tell the quality of a mind by the quality of that person’s bookshelves. These belong to a friend who lives in the Upper West Side.

Finally, Dog-Eared Books in Valencia. This is one of the mainstays, along with the science fiction bookstore Borderlands, that have called the Mission District of San Francisco their home for many years. With the loss of other mainstays, like Modern Times Books, self cherishes these last hold-outs before the yuppie deluge:

Dog-Eared Books, Valencia St., San Francisco: Murals on the exterior walls are painted with books.

Dog-Eared Books, Valencia St., San Francisco: Murals on the exterior walls are painted with books.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Still Thought # 20: “Weeds Do Not Easily Grow On a Field Planted With Vegetables”

The above Still Thought is from a publication called STILL THOUGHTS: MASTER SHIH-CHENG YEN, which self picked up from a Manila Book Fair, about 20 years ago. Never before or since has she heard of Sage Master Shih-Cheng Yen.

Self is presently using Still Thoughts to calm down because she is so not-happy with her internet connection.

Do you know how many times she’s tried to load pictures for Careful # 2: her would-be second post on The Daily Post Photo Challenge this week?

Each time, the system does this little poky dance, and then she gets the horrible Red X with the message: System Error.

Then she has to begin all over again.

But there is one spot that continues to shine like a beacon in all this dross that is self’s current internet experience.

And that is, each time she clicks on a bookmark to an Everlark Fan Fiction website, no matter what the website, and no matter how poky her internet connection, like a gear slipping into a groove, her MacBook goes straight to the site and the whole comforting nest of Katniss/Peeta stories unfurl before self. It’s as if self has rubbed the magic lamp and said the magic words and HOLY SMOKE THIS IS SO BEAUTIFUL.

This evening, self is going down a list of questions from Everlark fans. The questions are as follows:

Do you know of any fan fiction where Katniss and Peeta build a blanket fort?

Do you know of any canon-divergent Quarter Quell stories?

Do you know of any Canon AU One-shots?

Do you know of any fics with Peeta-Hits-a-Force-Field scenes?

Do you know of any fics that have Dark Peeta?

Do you know of any fics that have Kidnapped-But-Not-Hijacked Peeta?

Do you know of any fics where Peeta is popular and Katniss is a loner?

Do you know of any fics where Katniss is a bartender?

Do you know of any fics based off the movie Jurassic World? (Indeed, self can name one, right off the bat: Raptors Out of Containment)

Are there any Cinderella/Everlark fics? (You betcha!)

And now, self simply must get to reading her current fan fiction.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Self’s Speculative Fiction: Short on Science, Long on Speculation

Self’s science fiction may be a little short on the science, but it has everything to do with story-telling.

She is thinking about her stories today because last week she was in San Francisco and popped into Borderlands, the Science Fiction Bookstore on Valencia. So wonderful to browse! Self saw many, many books she wanted to read. There were new books from China Mieville, Joe Hill, and Jo Walton, to name a few.

Borderlands, Valencia Street, San Francisco: All Science Fiction, All Fantasy, All the Time

Borderlands, Valencia Street, San Francisco: All Science Fiction, All Fantasy, All the Time

This is the problem with going to a bookstore: self ends up leaving with loads of books that she then has to pack into a suitcase and then haul that suitcase around on her travels and the experience is just painful.

Anyhoo, self had been thinking for quite a while of starting to put together a new collection, and is leaning more towards having it all be science fiction. She might lead off with “Spores,” which her friend Morgan Cook turned into an MP3 Audio File, early this year.

This excerpt is from “Spores” (Trigger warning: profanity)

“Me mum’s a thick,” K said once. “A fecking thick. A root rotter.”

“Hit brew and all?” I asked.

“12 pints one go, honest,” K said. She silent the rest of the day.

I grew weary of K.

Self’s story “First Life,” published by Juked in July, is again “nothing but strange,” to quote from The first sentence:

Ever since they moved our colony from Tonle Sap to the Philippines, my mind hasn’t been the same.

And then there’s “Thing,” which came out in the New Orleans Review in 2012, about Animal Rehabilitation Center, Sector 6, where the results of heinous lab experiments are tended to by a rag-tag group who are barely human themselves.

And “Magellan’s Mirror,” which J Journal published and nominated for a Pushcart (The Philippines populated by a race of giants)

And “Vanquisher,” which self wrote as a sequel to “Magellan’s Mirror,” in which Juan de Salcedo turns into a kind of vampire.

And there’s “The Forest,” about a man whose wife has just let him, and whose sister offers, out of the kindness of her heart, to turn him into a spotted deer or an eagle.

And there’s “Ice,” which is set in a future Earth whose surface is covered with ice:

Out there, ice caps, cold as knives.

Steam from her mouth, his mouth, none from the boy who lay between them. She knowing what but not able to bear it.

And of course, “The Freeze,” in Bluestem Magazine early this year, in which a woman loses her entire family when a catastrophic freeze descends on the planet (The rumor is that the Russians started it) and decides to walk to Mexico.

And “The Departure” (2011 Honorable Mention in Ellen Datlow’s annual Best of Horror list), in which a woman looks up at the sky just in time to see a giant hand appear and go left to right, the gesture of a teacher erasing a blackboard. Next thing she knows, her face has sprouted glass.

And her short short “The Ark,” in which Noah is unbelievably cruel to the animals under his care.

And “Sofia,” in which a woman is visited by her great-great-grandfather, to tell her she is . . . (No spoilers here)

And her piece in Witness, about a man who is the last living person on Earth to have actually tasted a mango.

And she has other stories: stories about “breeder” sweaters (Women wear the sweaters to help them conceive) and lonely Cyclops (“I Am Cyclops,” published in Lillian Howan’s Nimbus Cat)

And another about the lost city of Atlantis, discovered 1715 (“Residents of the Deep”)

And another story called “The Great Emptying of the Three Triangles” which is a Power Point presentation on desertification.

And another called “Harvest” in which a young girl’s mother walks around all day dressed in nothing but a mink coat and her best friend vanishes from a field during an insect harvest.

And another called “Eating” in which a girl’s mother forces her to eat and eat and eat until the girl feels she is about to die.

And another called “Appetites” in which a girl sends her nanny off into the wide, wide world to search for a particular delicacy the girl wants to taste (This one’s published on Café Irreal)

And “Isa,” which is about the last two remaining islands on Earth (published by Rogue Magazine in their Bacolod issue).

And one in which a Fetch appears to a father mourning the loss of his daughter.

And one about a dictator’s Special Research Project (This one’s included in her first collection, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila)

Phew! Too many stories to list.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Most Embarrassing Day of Self’s Life

Self was in Shannon Airport, Galway. She heard the PA system come on, and someone say xxxxxx please come to the security counter.

If she’d had her wits about her, she’d have known that the name coming over the PA system was her fan fiction pen name. And there’s no way in heck that there can be two people with that same name anywhere in the universe.

But self is so stupid. At that moment, she just thought, “Huh! Guess I’m not as unique as I thought I was!” And continued reading People Magazine.

Until it came time to board the plane, and self thought, Might as well take out the laptop before I have to stow my carry-on in the overhead bin.

She reached down, to the place where she always keeps her laptop securely tucked away, and gasped.

The space was . . . space.

Self couldn’t believe it. She must have stared at her carry-on for a full minute. Then, it suddenly dawned on her: the name over the PA system! That was HER the security people were calling!

She barreled down the airport corridors, going first the wrong way, doubling back, and when she finally reached the security checkpoint, there was a group of men there, looking at self with a very odd expression on their faces. It’s as if the men were thinking: So is that — ? It can’t be!

Then, self put two and two together and realized: she’d been working on the latest chapter of her fan fiction. It was on the screen. That’s why the security people knew her fan fiction alias. And they must have read some of the story, too. And self just wanted to die. Die! Die!

With as much dignity as she could muster, self identified herself, retrieved her laptop, and returned just in time to board her plane, sweat streaming from every pore.  Too bad for her seatmates, two young guys who looked thoroughly disgusted at self’s ripe smell as she plopped down into her seat, red-faced and absolutely shattered by her near-death experience. These young men were so cute, so adorable, so attractive and sweet-smelling, that self wanted to curl up into a ball and apologize for her dishevelment, for her bad smell, for everything, for being picked to sit beside them, for ruining the start of their trip, for her very existence.

When we arrived at the first stopover, which was Heathrow, both young men jumped from their seats so fast, self didn’t even have time to ask Please kind sirs could you retrieve self’s carry-on bag from the overhead bin seeing as you’re almost twice self’s height and your biceps are extremely toned ?

She was still so discombobulated by the fact that five security men in Shannon Airport in Galway knew her fan fiction pen name. How could she be so stupid? That is the last time, the very last time, she writes fan fiction in an airport.

For the record, this is what self looks like, for REALS. Now you know why the security people at Shannon Airport in Galway could not reconcile her actual self with the fan fiction writer whose chapter they (had probably) just finished reading.

Photo on 8-21-15 at 1.13 PM

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Alone: Sylvain Landry – SL 16

Self enjoys Sylvain Landry’s photo challenges.

He’s got a GREAT picture up this week, for SL-16: ALONE. Check it out.

In the meantime, here’s her photo of ALONE:

2014 Codex International Book Fair in Benicia, CA: And Self Takes Pictures of Solitary Seagulls

2015 Codex International Book Fair in Benicia, CA: And Self Takes Pictures of Solitary Seagulls

Stay tuned.

Careful: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is CAREFUL:


First: Can you believe the drapery on this statue? Self doesn’t know who the sculptor is. She’ll find out, though. And when she does, she’ll post it here.

Close-Up Detail of a Statue in the Greek and Roman Antiquities Gallery of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

Close-Up Detail of a Statue in the Greek and Roman Antiquities Gallery of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

Here’s something else done with care: a dessert from a small Mom & Pop Filipino restaurant in Queens:

Swimming in a Sea of Condensed Milk: MY Kind of Dessert!

Swimming in a Sea of Condensed Milk: Self’s Kind of Dessert!

Finally: Food is love. You didn’t know that? Clearly, you have not LIVED!

Self will say again: Food is Love.

Here, from self’s favorite food nest in London, Chez Mamie on a little alley she stumbled across while trying to make it to the West End to watch a play:

The food at Chez Mamie is cooked by a mother-daughter team from Belgium.

The food at Chéz Mamie is cooked by a mother-daughter team from Belgium. Going a day without dinner at Chéz Mamie: perish the thought! It was self’s little home away from home.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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