Blair & Robertson: A History of the Philippine Islands, vol. 14 (1603 – 1609)

I pore over a list of Itemized Expenditures, 18 August 1608. Most of the items are salaries.

I mean.

No wonder the Fort in Manila was in ruins. No wonder there was never enough ammunition. Even the priests had salaries (“salaries for ecclesiastics”).

Salaried officials:

  • Government officials, alcaldes, and other local officials
  • Government workmen: pilots, sailors, and etc.
  • Ecclesiastics
  • Collectors of tribute
  • Soldiers and their officers
  • Wardens of forts

Meanwhile, the indios were paid nothing for their labor (Who built all those churches? Surely not the salaried officials!)

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Grimdark: Thoughts on Joe Abercrombie’s A LITTLE HATRED (with Digressions)

Self has no idea why it’s taken her to p. 222 to quote from her current read, A Little Hatred: Book One of the Age of Madness (which is great; her first introduction to the work of Joe Abercrombie) It’s a little unsettling, how fast the days unspool. Can you believe it’s already the end of February? Anyhoo, the weather’s been very fine, it’s not like she has to dig herself out of a snowdrift, and it’s not even like taxes are due (not for another month, anyway), and it’s not like she’s attending AWP. But now that her county’s been bumped down to the red tier, everything feels busy, the sidewalks are full of people, the traffic’s bad, there’s no parking, and she has suddenly remembered things like doctor’s visits.

Tomorrow, for instance, she has a doctor’s appointment at 1:30. She forgot all about the doctor’s appointment until she got a text. And the text said, Feb. 28. She didn’t even know it was possible to get a visual doctor’s appointment on a Sunday. Apparently, you can. It’s an “intake” appointment. Because she signed up for Kaiser.

The last rain of the supposedly “rainy season” happened a week ago, and she’s going to have to water water water the rest of the year, and that puts a serious dent on her time. She’s tried like heck not to buy anything (cause then she has to worry about keeping it alive during the summer and fall), but she went with a friend to a plant nursery, and bought a rose (her friend, whose idea it was to go in the first place, didn’t buy anything, and didn’t even seem all that interested in the plants once we got there). Then self had to buy a trellis because the rose is a climbing rose. Then she had to get someone to help her put in the trellis. And many many hours later, here she is. Meanwhile, her friend who isn’t really interested in gardening has signed up for — of all things, a gardening class! Because she wants to meet people! And people who like plants are good people! Can’t argue with that reasoning!

The rose self bought has a very cool name:

Let’s see, what was self going to post about? Oh yes. A Little Hatred.

There are almost a hundred characters in this book. And many warring factions. At first, self was constantly having to match character with faction by looking up the helpful index at the back of the book, but that was taking away from her enjoyment of the act of reading. The minute she started really getting into this world was when she stopped referring to the index. And, just like that, characters swam effortlessly to the front of her consciousness. Characters like Rikke, who has what is called The Long Eye (meaning, the gift of sight, though all she’s seen so far is a war between a wolf and a lion), and The Young Lion Leo van Brock (Ooh, Rikke’s prediction of a war! The wolf wins, but the Lion is the victor. Try making sense of that!), and a spoiled prince named Orso, and the prince’s (secret) lover Savine, who is the richest businesswoman in Angland, the Union, the Protectorate etc etc, and a traitorous character named Vick whose sidekick is a very gauche (but maybe not as gauche as Vick thinks) young man named Tallow.

Clearly there is no point in using that quote because it will not make sense now. So she will say just one thing she learned from p. 222: The lady with the sword is the one you want to follow.

The aforementioned has been cornered by two men in a dead-end alley, but she runs through one man with a sword (Her fencing teacher would approve!), and she runs through a second while he is in the act of running away. She doesn’t kill him outright, which is a problem, because she can’t pull her sword out of his back properly, the man keeps up such a damn wriggling.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Sentence of the Day: A LITTLE HATRED, p. 115

Just blazing through this book, which is so entertaining. Not too many people have died, yet. Self is keeping a body count (like she did with Eddie’s Boy, lol) After a gruesome hanging in the beginning, and one fight scene a few chapters ago, she hasn’t had to metaphorically “cover her eyes.”

If you can’t find a way to win that doesn’t involve torturing some half-mad girl, then maybe you don’t deserve to win at all.

Sentence of the Day: The Economist, 20 Feb. 2021

The fact that only seven of them mustered the courage to join the entire Democratic caucus in voting against Mr. Trump suggests that the impeachment power is now in effect defunct.

— from “Marred but at largio: Donald Trump lives to fight and incite another day,” p. 22, The Economist (20 February 2021)

A LITTLE HATRED, Book One of The Age of Madness, by Joe Abercrombie: Sentence of the Day

This book marks self’s first foray into Grimdark, or Epic Fantasy.

  • “I want to burn us another village or two before sundown!” the Great Wolf called over his shoulder . . . — A Little Hatred, p. 62

Western Humanities Review, Spring 2020

Self has a story in the latest issue of Western Humanities Review. She based it on a true story about a ferry disaster in the Philippine Sea. And it all began with the first sentence:

I didn’t like the blind woman.

Re-Reading, Re-Discovering Angela Narciso Torres

Angela Narciso Torres is the author of Blood Orange (Willow Books) and What Happens Is Neither (Four Way Books); and winner of the 2019 Yeats Poetry Prize. Her recent work appears in Poetry, Missouri Review, and PANK.

Angela and two other Four Way Books poets, Andrea Cohen and Rodney Terich, are reading tonight online at an event hosted by Canio’s Books in Sag Harbor, NY. Reading starts at 7 p.m. EST (that’s 4 p.m. PST) You can find out more from the Canio’s Books Calendar of Events.

SUNDOWNING (An excerpt)

for my mother, Carmen

The sweetest meat clings to the bone,
my mother says, knifing her steak.
Carmen. Silver spade on my tongue.

Mahjong nights, her father and mother gone,
she cried herself to sleep. Blamed in the morning
for her mother’s losing hand. Unlucky tears!

The sweetest meat — she begins
at dinner, tearing off a chicken leg.
What will she recall by morning?

Named for Our Lady of Mount Carmel,
she pinned brown scapulars under our shirts,
wet stamps that cleaved to our skin.

— from To The Bone, by Angela Narciso Torres (Sundress Publications, 2019)

Getting Through It

It’s been almost a year since the world stopped, plans got thrown out the window, and nothing will ever be the same.

Self thought she’d take a moment to celebrate the things that got her through the past year:

Of course, gardening. Her garden has never looked so great. Every day she watches the oxalis in her backyard get higher and higher. And she just loves it.

Second, books, and her fantastic local library and their curbside pick-up system. She’s been using it since June (Before that, she ordered many books from Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino, which is equally fantastic). Also, self would like to thank the AUTHORS of these wonderful books. When self needed to be transported to another place and time, these authors delivered:

Self would also like to thank FREE CONCERTS. The week after everything shut down, St. Bride’s in London began streaming everything. And so did St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco, which used to hold free noontime concerts every Tuesday.

She would also like to thank Cal Shakes, whose summertime Shakespeare was a high point of her summer, as long as she was home in the San Francisco Bay Area. (Her first Cal Shakes was Romeo and Juliet. ADAM SCOTT PLAYED ROMEO. Sold!!!) A few days ago, she got a message that they would mount ONE live production this summer (Dates to be announced), with appropriate social distancing, of course: Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale.

Also, FaceTime. Self has actually learned to FaceTime with Dearest Mum. It’s been so great.

And The Economist, which managed to come every week (every two weeks lately, since DeJoy destroyed the USPS)

Finally, she’d like to thank her favorite TV shows, because she’d never have gotten through without them: The Expanse (closing with Season 6), Peaky Blinders (closing with Season 6), The Crown.

A big hand also for Trader Joe’s, for being most sanitary of all the different supermarkets she’s shopped in.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Short Story of the Day: “Crocodile Teeth” by Donna Lee Miele

Nine more days till the Redwood City Library online reading for ms. aligned volume 3! (Thursday, Feb. 25, 5:30 p.m. – 6:45 p.m. PST) Much thanks to the library outreach staff, who gave us the slot and prepared beautiful flyers. And much thanks to series editor Pat Matsueda for coming up with the idea of a series focused on women writing about men.

Super-excited. Register here.

One of the readers on Feb. 25 is Donna Lee Miele. Self has just finished re-reading her fantastic story, “Crocodile Teeth.” From her Contributor Bio in ms. aligned 3:

  • Donna Lee Miele plays with characters, settings, and conflicts that evoke her mixed heritage and her parents’ experiences of war. While she also writes historical fiction, she finds greater freedom to explore (and greater fun) in stories with less concise settings, which was her intention with “Crocodile Teeth.”

An excerpt:

I was scared of Edward’s sister. After Edward’s parents got lost looking for work upriver, she took over their grandma’s house like she’d just been waiting for the chance. She bullied Edward, she bullied their grandma, and she even bullied the guys that started hanging around, who offered everything from repairs to the wornout old house to actual money for the chance to date her. They thought she’d be easy because she and Edward were orphans. She didn’t even pretend to be nice to them. She had a look so cold she could make the bag shrivel between your legs.

If you were one of those guys, and you tried to come up on her grandma’s veranda, she would stand on its edge, look down on you, and say something like, “Take yourself to the beach and remember me to your family,” meaning Last Beach, though even she wouldn’t say that right out. Last Beach is full of whores of every kind; and every one of them, of course, is someone’s family.

Dear Departed Dad Would Have Loved This

Dear Departed Dad and self had two things in common: He loved movies (he saw one almost every week, his entire life), and he loved books. Especially, adventure books. As a young boy, he idolized Rafael Sabatini and imagined himself as the swashbuckling hero of countless tales.

Now, self has stumbled on Joe “Master of Grimdark” Abercrombie’s A Little Hatred: Book One of the Age of Madness. (Thanks for the recommendation, Locus Magazine!) Dear Departed Dad would have lapped it up! (For balance, he looooved John Updike and read and re-read all the Rabbit Angstrom books)

Leo smashed Freckles on the top of the head with the rim of his shield, gave his horse the spurs and trampled him into the mud.

A Little Hatred, by Joe Abercrombie, Part I

This is Action with a capital A, and it’s only p. 12.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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