Watching “Kingsman” in Fort Bragg

The movie is a tad long, but otherwise great fun.

SPOILER ALERT!

The guy who plays the lead looks like a cross between Matt Damon and Ryan Philippe. He also doesn’t seem very tall (Self, that’s rich! If J-Hutch hasn’t taught you yet: “Short” does not preclude being attractive!) He has a great affect, especially after he exchanges his gangsta uniform for a dapper suit and glasses.

Self loved the whole London Punk meets Savile Row vibe.

There are some angles where Colin Firth looks impossibly hot.

Self liked the blonde who plays the Scandinavian Princess. She’s less enthused over the blonde who plays a Kingsman recruit (and the hero’s flirting buddy). The actress plays her a bit too sweet and vapid, in self’s humble opinion.

There is one wholly riveting woman in this movie, and that is the whippet-thin gal who plays the side-kick of the villain, Valentine (played hilariously, with a lisp, by Samuel L. Jackson). She wears tight black sheath dresses, and her legs are the same type of prosthetics as the one of Oscar Pistorius.

Self loves the scene where Colin Firth single-handedly takes out a whole church of right-wingers Everyone in the audience cheered at this one. (Of course! Self is in Mendocino County, the last place left in America where it is still a badge of pride to be considered a Liberal)

And there’s a scene between Michael Caine, playing a Kingsman Higher-Up, and the Young Punk Recruit, that’s just priceless. Context: It is apparently required of all Kingsman recruits that they adopt a pooch side-kick. Our hero’s is a French pug:

Caine to Hero: Nice dog (or something to that effect). What’s its name?

Hero: JB.

Caine: For James Bond?

Hero: No.

Caine (eyebrow raised): Jason Bourne?

Hero: No.

Caine surrenders.

Hero: Jack Bauer.

Good one!

Watch for those exploding heads at the end, each a technicolor mushroom cloud. Only a director as audacious as Matthew Vaughan could pull that off.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Stories About Magic and Science Fiction

Why is self so attracted to stories about magic?

Don’t really know.

Self’s first experience with angst came from fairy tales. She fell in love with Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling and The Little Mermaid. She always cried at the end of The Little Mermaid.

Then, she read Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris while she was a grad student at Stanford. She found the idea of a sentient planet mind-blowing! Positively transcendent! The movie with George Clooney was terrible!

On to her reading of the afternoon:  the Preface by Maria Tatar to her The Annotated Brothers Grimm (Self has been reading it and stopping every other sentence. This is a problem. Possibly, she won’t finish it in this lifetime. Oh! She also downloaded the episode of Face/Off with Josh Hutcherson as a guest judge. The guy is just too adorable. Too. Too. Too!)

Back to Maria Tatar! Here’s a passage she just finished reading:

Danger lurks in every corner of the world, and the encounter with it has a fierce inevitability that becomes a rule of the genre. Villainy: this was the . . . function that fuels the plots of fairy tales.

It just occurs to self that she has a long list of horror stories she’s written. She’ll see if she can append them to this post — when she has a little more time. But, right off the top of her head, here are a few: Seeing in PANK 9.5, The Departure in Philippine Genre Stories. Ghosts really get to her. Ghosts and the Apocalypse.

The writers she met at Hawthornden (June 2012), Joan McGavin and Jenny Lewis, told the most excellent ghost stories. They fueled her imagination and sent it roaring out of the gate. We’d talk about everything from Dolly the Sheep (whose likeness is in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh) to ghost children (Self recalls Jenny saying, “The worst ghosts are ghost children.” Wheeee! Couldn’t sleep after that because she kept thinking there was a ghost child lurking somewhere in her room).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Starting BROOKLYN, by Colm Toibin

With great, truly superhuman effort, self forced herself to finish reading Silas Marner.

Part of the reason she was so reluctant was — aside from the fact that George Eliot is simply great — she didn’t think she’d be able to get into Brooklyn. The reviews she read on-line led her to think it might be meandering and somewhat dull.

But, that just goes to show how very idiosyncratic self’s tastes in reading are. Because the minute she began reading Brooklyn, she was completely entranced.

An excerpt (pp. 28 – 29):

“Well, I just came to say that I’ll be going to America in about a month’s time,” Eilis said. “I’m going to work there and I wanted to give you plenty of notice.”

Miss Kelly stood back from the counter. “Is that right?” she asked.

“But I’ll be here on Sundays of course until I go.”

“Is it a reference you’re looking for?”

“No. Not at all. I just came to let you know.”

“Well, that’s lovely now. So we’ll see you when you come home on holidays, if you’ll still be talking to everyone.”

“I’ll be here on Sunday,” Eilis said.

“Ah, no, we won’t be needing you at all. If you’re going, you’re best to go.”

“But I could come.”

“No, you couldn’t. There’d be too much talk about you and there’d be too much distraction and we’re very busy on a Sunday, as you know, without that.”

“I was hoping I could work until I left.”

“Not here you can’t. So be off with you now.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Self Did Not Know This About Russell Crowe

The man knits! Honest! He knits!

Today, self went to the Fort Bragg Library to do some research on the northern California shipping industry.

A flyer above the check-out desk caught her eye:

The flyer in Fort Bragg's Public Library

She only noticed because Caroline, a member of her San Francisco writers group, is a fabulous knitter.

Her eyes traveled upwards, and her jaw dropped at this photograph:

Russell Crowe knits!

Russell Crowe knitting!

“Wait, that’s got to be a joke!” Self remarked. “Russell Crowe knits?”

“He does,” said one of the librarians. “He took it up as anger management therapy.”

OMG, will wonders never cease?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

A Review of “The Interview”

For self to like a review enough for her to post bits of it on her blog, it’s got to be funny.

So, you all know about “The Interview,” right? The movie that ended up starting a Mexican stand-off between North Korea and the United States? The movie that had self making statements like: It is a God-given right that Americans watch what they want, when they want, and especially on holidays like Christmas, when all the shopping malls are shut!

Then “The Interview” came out, just as Chris Rock said (to Jon Stewart on The Daily Show) that it would, and judging from the remarks floating around the lobby of the Redwood City Century 20 on Christmas Day, the general consensus seemed to be: This is a stupid movie. Why the North Koreans ever felt it was so threatening — IDK (with shoulder-shrug emoji)

Finally, self lands on rogerebert.com (which she’s avoiding since coming to Mendocino because there are no movie theaters in the vicinity, and she’s too lazy to drive all the way to Fort Bragg, and anyway even if she did make it to Fort Bragg, they’re not showing it), and reads a wickedly entertaining review from Steven Boone. It’s so entertaining, self wonders why she never heard of Steven Boone before. So here goes (Note: The worst barbs are reserved for James Franco)

  • “The Interview” is nothing new, but it looks great.
  • You expect Kanye West and some X-Men to show up. It’s the visual approach filmmakers like Edgar Wright and various cohorts of this film’s star, Seth Rogen . . . spent the past decade indulging, to give their flouncy bromantic comedies the sizzle and swagger of a good romantic adventure.
  • Rogen’s co-lead, James Franco, takes a break from winking roughly one-third of the time . . . Early in the film, and for much of it, he is simply trying too hard. Imagine James Dean aiming for Will Ferrell speed and pitch. In Franco’s relentless hyperactivity I sense immense fear, of not supplying enough energy to this gargantuan film, of not giving Rogen enough to volley back.

There are several raunchy quotes from the movie, of which this one is the most tame:

“Welcome to the jungle, baby, welcome to the jungle. Na na na knees.”

Too, too hilarious!

Stay tuned.

 

Mary Ruefle: From SELECTED POEMS

The last AWP conference was in Seattle. Self roomed with poet Luisa Igloria. When self is with writers from another genre, she loves to pick their brains. So, one day, Luisa and self happened to be strolling through the Book Fair, when she asked Luisa about her favorite poets, and since we just then happened to be passing a table selling Mary Ruefle, self stopped and purchased a copy of Mary Ruefle: Selected Poems. (Wave Books: Seattle and New York, 2010)

(Oh, did self ever mention to dear blog readers that she brought more poetry collections with her to Mendocino than fiction?)

Anyhoo, today self cracks open Ruefle’s Selected Poems (About time, too: the AWP conference was almost a year ago), and this is the very first poem:

Standing Furthest

All day I have done nothing.
To admonish me a few aspen
jostle beneath puny stars.
I suppose in a rainforest
a draft of hands brought in
the tubers for today, women
scratched their breasts in the sunlight
and smiled: someone somewhere
heard the gossip of exotic birds
and passed it on in the night,
to another, sleeping curled like an ear:
of all things standing furthest
from what is real, stand these trees
shaking with dispensable joy,
or those in their isolation
shading an extraordinary secret.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Finnick and Peeta: Another Phone Call (From Self’s WIP Hunger Games Fan Fiction AU)

Dear blog readers, just to clear up any confusion: Self writes Read the rest of this entry »

Finnick and Peeta: The Friendship, the Phone Call

Dear blog readers: hope you don’t mind that self is putting a lot of her Hunger Games fan fiction on this blog (in addition to, of course, blogging about her further adventures as a writer. Which very shortly will be occurring in Mendocino) until the mad/good “crushing-it” phase is over.

Peeta’s stuck in District 12 with Katniss’s seven-year-old son helping out in the bakery, and this situation is no picnic. First of all, Peeta and Katniss were a “thing” before he got reaped (This story is very AU) and she went off and married Gale. But, in a sudden fit of generosity and because everyone in the Seam is starving — it’s been a very long and hard winter, and Katniss went after game in the forest, got caught in an epic downpour, caught pneumonia, was many weeks ill in bed, all her beautiful black hair fell out, and . . . did self mention that this story is full of angst? — Peeta’s dad offered to take Katniss’s son as part-time help in the bakery (There are no child labor laws in Panem, obviously) and Peeta is quite disconcerted because

Her son looks so much like his father.

Which is to say, Katniss’s son takes after Gale.

Which sends Peeta’s emotions into turmoil. So that night, home alone in Victors Village, he calls Finnick, who’s working as an escort in the Capitol.

“Peeta,” Finnick says. “How are things?”

“I’m a bit — nervy,” Peeta says.

“The charming and debonair Peeta Mellark — nervy?” Finnick laughs. “Women problems?”

Peeta shakes his head before realizing that Finnick can’t see him. “I’m a model of virtue,” he says. “What time is it over there?”

“Almost 11,” Finnick says. “Darna’s here.”

Peeta’s mind stutters.

“No, we didn’t have anything going tonight,” Finnick says.

“Really?” Peeta says. “Okay, I believe you.”

“Besides, I’m a bore. After you, I mean. So why exactly are you calling?” Finnick asks.

“I don’t know,” Peeta says.

Finnick sighs. “Look, Peeta, I have to go. I have to be up in a few hours. Got a sunrise appointment with a client.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Never Forget This

Self was about to start grad school at Stanford University.

Dearest Mum went with her. We did a jaunt to LA and stayed with a distant relative in Glendale.

The relative’s name was Lucy. She was living with an American guy named Bob. She drank a tall glass of green liquid every morning, she said it was good for you: pure chlorophyll.

Self tried a bit and it tasted disgusting, the consistency of mucus.

One night, Dearest Mum and self returned to Lucy’s home to find it dark, locked, nobody home. We drove around for hours, just waiting for Lucy to show up. This was the era before cell phones, so the only recourse we had were to use payphones.

Dearest Mum spied one in front of a liquor store. She said, Get in there and use the phone.

Self said, What? No! It’s a liquor store!

Nevertheless, self being a very obedient 21-year-old, she got down from the car and used the payphone that was right in front of the entrance. Dearest Mum remained in the car. When self turned around after making a series of fruitless calls to Lucy, she saw that a car had pulled up right next to Dearest Mum. Two men were inside that car, staring intently at Dearest Mum, who was clutching the steering wheel with both hands. Self would call that “a white-knuckle clutch.”

Whereupon, self jumped back into the car, Dearest Mum va-voomed out of the parking lot with screeching tires, and we drove around and around for two more hours, until we were pulled over by a policeman.

The policeman walked over to Dearest Mum’s window and shone a flashlight straight into her face.

What is it, Officer? Dearest Mum coo-ed in her sweetest, most girl-y voice.

Ma’am, we pulled you over because we thought you might be drunk.

What? Me? Drunk? Dearest Mum’s voice dripped outrage.

Well, the Officer said, I see you’re not drunk, Ma’am. But here’s the thing: me and my partner have been following you for a bit because: A) You braked on a green light; B) You switched lanes in the middle of an intersection; and C) This is the fourth time you’ve passed this corner.

BWAH. HA. HA. HAAAAA! Self had to assume her best poker face during the exchange.

Now I’ll tell you what, Ma’am, quoth the cop. You see this big intersection right here? You make a left at that intersection, and you keep going, and you keep going, and you don’t stop until you see this big hotel, and you wait in that hotel for your friend to get home.

Self doesn’t know why it never occurred to her to share this story before.

Stay tuned.

Further Scenes From Self’s Hunger Games Fan Fiction (AU, Canon-Divergent Katniss and Peeta)

So very AU, Canon-Divergent, but what the hey.

CONTEXT:

Peeta is stuck in the Capitol (several years after he became the lone Victor of his Games), entertaining degenerate Capitol denizens with a fake romance with the latest Victor, a 17-year-old beauty named Darna. Meanwhile, Katniss is a very stressed miner’s wife back in District 12.

President Snow blesses the pairing of Darna and Peeta (How do we know this? Because Snow provides Darna with the key code to Peeta’s private suite in the Capitol — DUN. DUN. DUN!)

Darna is a Victor and absolutely lethal in the Arena, but in Peeta’s suite she is nothing but a lovesick 17-year-old who loves watching Peeta cook spaghetti (Pace, Haruki Murakami!)

“Ah, melanzane,” Darna purrs.

“Sorry?” Peeta says, bemused.

“Oh, it’s an old word. My father said my grandfather used it all the time. I don’t really know what it means. But my father used to say it to my mother when she indulged him by cooking one of his favorite dishes.”

“The things you learn,” Peeta chuckles, shaking his head. He reaches for a bottle from the wine rack on the counter.

There’s a brief silence. Then Darna says, “I can’t complain. It could be so much worse. I could be like — “

Snow sees Peeta shake his head. A warning.

“I suppose,” Peeta says.

Darna nods and moves slowly back to the counter. Her beautiful face is now blank, guarded.

Peeta, Snow thinks, is an excellent teacher.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

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