Lawrence Ferlinghetti, San Francisco 1958

I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

— from I am Waiting, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The rest of the poem can be found on the Poetry Foundation website.

Can we all agree that 1958 sounds a lot like 2016.

Stay tuned.

SPARE: Daily Post Photo Challenge, 27 May 2016

Spare landscapes are often quite beautiful in their minimalism (if you choose to look)

— Krista, The Daily Post

Below are a few pictures that struck me as evocative of this week’s theme, SPARE:

Self took a walking tour of Oxford, day before yesterday. The quadrangles in front of the main buildings are surprisingly spare: free of fountains and monuments. Pristine.

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The building used to house Oxford University Press.

The India House was of course a very important building, especially during the days of the British Empire. With true British understatement, there are no signs indicating the building’s historice function: only the elephant on the weathervane:

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Weathervane on top of India House, Oxford, UK

Finally, the Weston Library is a moden structure directly across the street from the Bodleian Library, one of the oldest libraries in Oxford. The facade is spare, with one banner announcing the current exhibit (in honor of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death): Shakespeare’s Dead:

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A banner announces the Weston Library’s current exhibit.

Hope these are suitable examples of SPARE.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

X-Men: Apocalypse and the Egyptian Mummies in the British Museum

Self took this post down for a while but then she decided to put it back up because she just went and saw X-Men: Apocalypse for the second time and — Evan Peters, hell yeah!

BTW, the movie improves on repeat viewing. But why Mystique keeps carrying a torch for Magneto is really, really frustrating. Every time she talks about him, with tears in her eyes — aaargh! That’s why it was such a breath of fresh air to have Quicksilver around: imagine, a man who feels no subliminal attraction for any of the female characters, whatsoever!

Below, her original post:

_____________________________

About a week ago, in London, self walked all the way to Shaftesbury Avenue after spending three hours in the Egyptian galleries of the British Museum just to watch X-Men: Apocalypse in the Odeon in Covent Garden.

She also thought it would be a good excuse to check out the Covent Garden area. See? Like killing two birds with one stone.

That turned out to be an excellent idea. Because the movie began with — ancient Egypt! Some dude was harnessing the power of the sacred pyramids — or something — to give himself eternal life! Of course, self had no idea that Egyptian leatherface was actually the beautiful Oscar Isaac.

Anyhoo, watching the movie was like entering a zone, where everything happening had a connection to ancient Egypt (mind-blowing, right?). Of course, it also reminded her — when all the Egyptian stuff was done — that there was an actor named Evan Peters who plays Quicksilver.

Honest-to-God, how could she have forgotten this guy? She loved his scene from the earlier X-men movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past, so much. But there were just so many X-Men crowding her thoughts, not to mention James McAvoy. In almost every scene. James McAvoy. And there was Nightcrawler. And the Archangel. And Jean Grey (looking exactly like Sansa Stark; self almost expected Littlefinger or Ramsay Bolton to put in an appearance). Not to mention Fassbender emoting and singing to his daughter. And J-Law being very capricious about when she wanted to be blue or not. So, finally. EVAN PETERS! She nearly jumped out of her seat. She was so happy to see him again.

Anyhoo, the point of all this. The point of all this is that she also has a short story that involves Egyptian hieroglyphics. It appeared in a fabulous magazine called Isotope, and was edited by Chris Cokinos. Isotope was a magazine that featured both science writing and  creative writing. Self’s essay, “The Lost Language,” appeared in Isotope in 2007. A year or two later, it went defunct. And now, nobody can read that story anymore! WAAAAH! (She does have extra copies of the particular issue with her essay. It’s back in her house in Redwood City, CA. Which is a long way away — across an ocean, in fact. Across a continent, even — from where self is currently: Oxford, UK. But if anyone wants to get a copy, she can promise that, as soon as she arrives back in California, she will get her hands on those issues and mail it to whoever wants one. Because it seems such a terrible waste to keep those issues mouldering in her closet, taking up space and being useless)

Here’s how it begins:

Filipinos once had an ancient written language. If I were to show you what the marks look like on a piece of paper, they would look like a series of waves. Or like Egyptian hieroglyphics. Like the eye of the Pharaoh I saw in my old high school history books.

The rest of the essay is very digressive and is actually pretty funny. There was a time when all of self’s short stories were so filled with angst and pain that she actually rejoiced when she wrote “The Lost Language.” At last! She was capable of showing a little more range!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sometimes You Just Gotta Have That Chocolate Milkshake

Have dear blog readers ever tasted a lukewarm chocolate milkshake?

(Self knows, right?)

It is a hot day in Oxford, UK. Everyone strolling around, including three tourists who are attracting attention for a (fake) loud quarrel — self is pretty clued-in now to what’s fake and what’s real. All you have to do, really, is look at the person’s face. The woman who is allegedly being wronged by her two male companions has a huge, shit-eating grin on her face. She has cropped, dyed-platinum-blonde hair. She has deep brown, leathery skin. She’s wearing blue jeans and a white tank top. This makes her stand out because most of the women self sees around Oxford are of two, maybe three types: young Asian women who are extremely thin, very stylish, and very low-key; young white women who wear sneakers, cigarette jeans, and muted sweaters; older white women who dress a bit eccentrically, in floppy hats, or voluminous, bright sweaters. The strange woman keeps screaming, at the top of her voice, ruining a pleasant afternoon: LEAVE ME ALONE! ASSHOLE!

Really, self hates the drama. This is on a tiny street, where everyone’s so quiet, they all jerk their heads up and look alarmed. If self were to be truly cynical about it, which she isn’t, she might hug her purse closer to her body, just in case there is a point to this loud altercation.

Demonstrative fake quarrel aside, today self got to:

  • see a couple of Shakespeare folios
  • see the Harry Potter dining room
  • see an annotated map of Tolkien’s Middle Earth
  • check out Blackwell’s Crime & Thriller section, where she jotted down the titles of a couple of mysteries she wants to add to her reading list.
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An Amazing, Almost-Summer Day in Oxford, UK

Really, if a lukewarm chocolate milkshake is the worst part of self’s day, she’s had a pretty good day.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Jubilant: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 20 May 2016

  • Jubilant, adjective: showing great joy, satisfaction, or triumph; rejoicing; exultant

This 40th Anniversary Calyx anthology, published April 2016 by Ooligan Press, is everything:

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A sunny day in Dublin is always cause for celebration:

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April 2016:  Bed and Breakfast, Inchicore, Dublin

Last but not least: On self’s first day back in London in 2016 (early April), she met up with poet Joan McGavin, who took her to the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. Self is always jubilant to be back in London:

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The Most Beautiful Window: Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London

Self is at her best when she is traveling. Her state of mind when traveling can best be described as jubilant.

If you try to stop her from traveling, she will be in a bad mood.

Not only that, she will hate you forever.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Monday: London Review Bookshop Monthly Film Screening

The London Review Bookshop is showing a Sally Potter film tonight: “Yes.”

That’s the one where all the characters speak in iambic pentameter (And, rhyme!)

“How long is the film?” self asked the salesperson (Who is the same salesperson who was there last year, and the year before, and who turns out to be a poet. His first collection just came out!)

“100 minutes,” he said, smartly.

Okay, self got a ticket. Considering this bookshop was where she got to shake hands with Sally Potter in person, in 2014, it seems like fate or magic. If you believe in either of those things. And she was there again last night, along with her cinematographer, the same one who worked on Orlando, and self was fan-girling like mad.

Stay tuned.

Anjelica Huston: Venice Beach

Well, self will be sad to finish this book. She started reading it in Cork, continued reading it in Wexford, continued reading it in Dublin, and now has been reading it in London. She didn’t start with high hopes, especially since there’s a cringe-inducing love/hate thing going on with Jack Nicholson. But Huston shines when she describes a place. And she’s been to some pretty fabulous ones.

Here she describes the view from her house in Venice Beach:

On the top story was a little parapet from which one could see the whole of Venice Beach — from the flags of the many nations on the roof of the youth hostel next door, above a faded sepia mural, to the Townhouse bar across the street, the tattoo parlor, Animal House, the hippies and the homeless, the vendors, the performance artists, the swami with his turban and electric guitar on Rollerblades, the runaways, the snake-charmer, the rappers, the chalk and sand artists, the weight lifters, the addicts, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the tourists and the surfers, the skateboard kids, the guy who played “Eye of the Tiger” relentlessly and did crazy stuff with a chainsaw for eight years.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Anjelica Huston in Oaxaca

After the awfulness that was Jack Nicholson’s baby-drama, Huston marries sculptor Bob Graham and has a wedding to die for. Sweet! The honeymoon is in Oaxaca. Among many romantic memories, Huston shares this:

We went to an outdoor restaurant by a lake that served red ants and iguana, which tasted reptilian.

We visited Monte Alban in the scorching sun, thirteen hundred feet above the valley floor of Oaxaca, built in 500 B.C. by the Zapotec Indians, who actually practiced dentistry, as evidenced by some impressive stone carvings of primitive warriors having their teeth extracted.

LOL!

There’s that trademark Huston poker-face (wink wink)

Stay tuned.

The Addams Family: Morticia

More hilarity from Anjelia Huston. In Watch Me, she describes what she had to undergo while getting ready to play Morticia in The Addams Family:

  • There were to be several variations on Morticia’s ubiquitous black dress, some with subtle additions of lace and beading. Ruth Myers was the costume designer, and she was a zealot when it came to foundation garments. In keeping with my theory that a witch is a witch because all witches are in torture, the corset was so tight that for the first few days of filming, until the boning broke in to some degree and became more pliable, I literally could not sit down and had to be transported to set from my dressing room recumbent in the back of a station wagon.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

The Dryness

There is something self is seriously loving about Anjelica Huston, and it’s her sense of humor. It is so tongue-in-cheek. Not that she mugs her way through this book. But there’s a lot of slyness going on there.

She only wishes Huston’s editor had made her restrain all the angst regarding Jack Nicholson, especially in the book’s first 50 or so pages. It does this great actress such a disservice, made self dread reading the rest of the book.

But, anyhoo, here’s Huston on her first movie with Woody Allen (who clearly was not attracted to her at all — self thinks that was why he cast her in Crimes and Misdemeanors. P.S. Another actress who Woody was not in love with was Naomi Watts. And he didn’t give her a good role, either).

There’s a lot of subtext going on here. Huston’s character is named Dolores:

. . .  he had chosen a seriously ugly argyle sweater for Dolores, and although I felt it was a deeply unflattering shape and pattern, I kept my mouth shut. I had heard that Woody had fired a famous actress when she refused to wear a jacket of his choice, so I was determined to love my wardrobe.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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