#amreading: THE FALL OF THE OTTOMANS, by Eugene Rogan

Rogan’s The Fall of the Ottomans is the first history/nonfiction self has been able to get into since May.

She’s on Chapter Five: Launching Jihad, p. 102

The Jihad does not come from the source you’d expect: It is December 8, 1914. Turkey’s Minister of War is a politician named Enver Pasha.

Rogen’s description of Enver:

Enver, an impetuous man, had made his career through bold, high-risk initiatives. A historic leader of the 1908 revolution, an architect of the 1911 Ottoman-led jihad in Libya, leader of the 1913 raid on the Sublime Porte who forced the prime minister to resign at gunpoint, and “liberator of Edirne” in the Second Balkan War, Enver believed in taking action and had little doubt in his own judgment and abilities.

Here’s a list of the other history self has read thus far in 2017:

  • Montcalm and Wolfe: The Decline and Fall of the French Empire in North America
  • The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  • SPQR
  • Rubicon
  • The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Wondering About Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3

It is sweltering here up in the Pasadena Hills, and self feels no inclination to go outside. In the daytime, Pasadena is a sleepy city. At night, everyone drives with fury almost, zipping past slower cars and switching lanes with abandon. Self finds it very disconcerting. Especially as her GPS Navigator tells her where to turn only after she reaches an intersection, at which point she is usually in the wrong lane.

So, no going outside today. She’s re-reading a Calyx poetry anthology, A Fierce Brightness: Twenty-Five Years of Women’s Poetry, which she stumbled across in her house two weeks ago. Here’s the first half of a poem by Sheila Demetre:

A Woman Is Running For Her Life

Under my ribcage a live coal
is singing. It wheedles from its hutch
of bone, glows blue in every kindling breath.

I need these bright shoes to burn up centuries
of inertia, of sickness holding me limp
with forehead ground against my tangled knees.

Celestial now, I’m all brush and sweep.
My elbows scribble, quickening the air I slog.
Don’t touch my sparks, my hieroglyphs of heat.

She absolutely loves the “hieroglyphs of heat.”

Tomorrow is Episode 3 of Game of Thrones. Does Euron die? Does Yara die? Does Ellaria Sand die? Does Olenna Tyrell die? Does Grey Worm die? If Grey Worm dies, will Missandei go crazy? Does Meera Reed die? If Meera dies, does Bran get to have a wheelchair at last? Do we see Gendry (finally? Cause the tweets are getting ridiculous) Do Brienne and Podrick get to spar again? Does Ned Stark come back from the dead? Does Stannis Baratheon come back from the dead? Will we see more of Ser Jorah’s horrible greyscale? Will Sam be retching again? Will Dany continue to be her insufferable self? Will Sansa be more of her cryptic self? Will Jaime continue to be disconcerted? Will Cersei continue to be sarcastic? Will we ever find out which skilled blacksmiths created the Giant Crossbow aka Dragonkiller? Will Arya Stark continue to evolve? Will Wun Wun come back as a wight?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Extraordinary Life and Momentous Times of J. M. W. Turner

Self began Franny Moyle’s hefty biography of Turner a few days ago.

It begins at the end of his life, which is a little sad. The man lived with his common-law wife in a grotty part of London and no one knew he was Turner. Neighbors thought he was a retired sea captain and called him “Piggy.”

Come to think of it, self hates any biography that begins at the end. She thinks it’s a little bit of a cheat. But that’s the only quibble she has about the book so far.

She was in London just a month ago. Can you believe it? She went to the British Museum and saw an exhibit, Places of the Mind, British Watercolour Landscapes, 1850 – 1950: celebrating “the work of British landscape artists during the hundred years following the death of J. M. W. Turner.”

She’s not reading the Turner biography because of that exhibit. She follows a strict order in her reading list. She read about the biography two years ago, and it took her all this time to work through the books that came before. It’s amazing that she’s reading about Turner when the watercolour exhibit is still so fresh in her mind.

More amazing: the Mendocino Art Center contacted her about submitting a description for the writing workshop she’s teaching there, early next year. The Art Center has a lot of visual artists, and that’s what it’s known for. There’s synchronicity in the universe now.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: THE THREE-YEAR SWIM CLUB, by Julie Checkoway

Self got this helpful reminder from Goodreads: You participated in the 2017 Reading Challenge. You have promised to read 30 books.

She’s on p. 326 of The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui’s Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory.

The swimmers take part in the first post-war Olympics, which take place in a “positively dreary” 1948 London. They are welcomed to Wembley Stadium by this sign:

Welcome to the Olympic Games. This road is a danger area.

Over the scoreboard are these words (from Baron de Coubertin):

The important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part. The essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.

Self is fascinated by the Chapter Detroit, Redux (1948) because the Europe it depicts is so starkly different. Plus, the opening ceremonies are July 29, and now is July 22. The anniversary is just one week away!

Among the difficulties of the time:

One practice pool was “open for practice to each of the thirty-seven nations for a mere two hours per day. The rest of the time they had to practice to distant pools . . .  In the end, the swim committee had to settle for having the teams practice in off-hours, during closing times . . . in more than twenty-three separate venues across the city.”

Very interesting.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

#amreadingpoetry: Paula Gunn Allen

An excerpt from Paula Gunn Allen’s Dear World, included in the Calyx anthology A Fierce Brightness: Twenty-Five Years of Women’s Poetry

Dear World:

Mother has lupus. She says that it’s a disease
of self-attack. That it’s like if a mugger broke
into your house and you called the cops
and when they came they beat up on you
instead of the mugger.

I say that makes sense. It’s in the blood,
in the dynamic. A halfbreed woman can hardly
do anything else but attack herself.
Her blood attacks itself. There are historical
reasons for this.

I know you can’t make peace
being Indian and white.

Paula Gunn Allen, who passed away in 2008, was Lakota, Sioux, and Lebanese. She edited several anthologies of critical studies and American Indian fiction. She published two collections of essays, two volumes of poetry — Skins and Bones; Life Is a Fatal Disease — and a novel, The Woman Who Owned the Shadows.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

For The Daily Post Photo Challenge COLLAGE: July 2017, So Vivid

Everything Summer 2017:

 

 

  • Discovered an old stash of photographs of Dearest Mum in her younger days.
  • Explored the inside of son’s closet in 2431 Hopkins Ave., Redwood City.
  • Rediscovered one of self’s most treasured books.
  • Had dinner with Jennie, son’s fiancée, at Himalayan Café in Old Town Pasadena.
  • Found artwork by son (when he was in grade school).
  • Got a Birthday present (for self) from son and Jennie: Nude Awakening (Self is so WOKE!).
  • Amused by a giant stag at the end of a driveway in the Pasadena hills.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Finishing BARBARIAN DAYS

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life is a 500-page memoir. Self has got to admire William Finnegan’s nerve.

The pace is unrelenting but it’s so well-written that self can’t stop.

Questions, as she races through the final hundred pages:

  • Does anyone die? Because Finnegan is so good at describing close calls: his own (of course he can’t die, lol. The author never does) as well as others. So she naturally assumes all these close calls have to culminate in a close call that ends up being a final call. So far, p. 466, no one has. Lucky!
  • When is Finnegan going to stop? When is he going to decide that he’s too old to surf? How does this story end?
  • Finnegan gets a plum job with The New Yorker. How? It’s never fully explained. Self sincerely wants to know how a committed surfer becomes a New Yorker writer, without giving up surfing. Or, surfing as much as he seems to do. One minute he’s traveling the world in the search for the perfect wave, the next he’s a writer for the New Yorker? Self wished there was a brief explanation of how he landed it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Collage: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 13 July 2017

What is a collage? In the words of Michelle Weber over at The Daily Post, it is “an assortment, a collection, a hodgepodge.”

Here are a couple of shots that show a collage:

  • The printed dress. So fabulous. The wearer was self’s niece, Rina. We were having lunch at Boiling Crab:
DSCN0236

Rina Villanueva, July 2017

  • An assortment of reading matter: Everything from a Playbill to a book written by someone she used to know in college, Rick Manapat. The book, History of Negros, is about an island in the Philippines called Negros (The Spanish gave it the name, in the 16th century):
DSCN0131

What Self Found in Son’s Room: July 2017

  • A collection of roses on a hat at the recent exhibit “Degas, Impressionism and the Paris Millinery Trade” at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor:
DSCN0098

Woman’s Hat, circa 1910: The artist went by the name “Madame George”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Our Gracious Dorotea”: from Self’s Novel-in-Progress

To help self write a love scene set in 18th century Spain, she turns to poetry.

The title of the chapter she is working on today is Our Gracious Dorotea. The poem is this:

Perhaps because within myself
I had already chosen your portrait
here they are in fields of thought
one thousand and a thousand more red poppies.

— Domenico Adriano, excerpt from Da Papaveri Perversi, transl. from the Italian by Barbara Carle

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Three to Add to the Reading List

The first book is one which self initially approached with skepticism because the publisher is an academic press (Oxford) and she still remembers how they mangled a biography of Aung San Suu Kyi and doesn’t think she has forgiven them yet.

But anyhoo, there’s a new biography of Angela Carter (and gives cause to the 13 March 2017 New Yorker to share the interesting fact that she has been “pigeonholed as a white witch”) and self wants to give The Invention of Angela Carter, by Edmund Gordon, a go.

The next two books she’s adding to her reading list are from the Briefly Noted section (other books in the Briefly Noted section: The Schooldays of Jesus, by J. M. Coetzee, and A Book of American Martyrs, by Joyce Carol Oates): a biography called, simply, Jonathan Swift, by John Stubbs, and This Close to Happy, Daphne Merkin’s “memoir of struggling with depression.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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