Jessamine, CLOCKWORK PRINCE

Self has been absolutely crushing the writing. Crushing it.

She added pirate raids, defensive maneuvers, gun battles, bonfires and other exceedingly dramatic mayhem to her WIP.

Finally, at 5 p.m., she settles in for a refreshing dip into The Infernal Devices. Which happens to be p. 261 of Clockwork Prince. Which happens to feature dialogue with Jessamine at the dinner table of the London Institute (Jessamine is one of self’s all-time favorite TID characters!)

Will regarded Henry from beneath half-lidded eyes. “Nothing ever disturbs your circles, does it, Henry?”

Henry blinked. “What do you mean?”

“Archimedes,” Jem said, as usual knowing what Will meant, though not looking at him. “He was drawing a mathematical diagram in the sand when his city was attacked by Romans. He was so intent on what he was doing that he didn’t see the soldier coming up behind him. His last words were, ‘Do not disturb my circles.’ Of course, he was an old man by then.”

“And he was probably never married,” said Will, and he grinned at Jem across the table.

Jem didn’t return his grin. Without looking at Will, or Tessa — without looking at any of them — he got to his feet and went out of the room after Charlotte.

“Oh, bother,” said Jessamine “Is this one of those days where we all stalk out in a fury? Because I simply haven’t got the energy for it.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

How DARE You, Mr. Ragnor Fell!

Self may be getting ahead of herself, but life is short.

There are two choices open to her when she leaves Ireland:  Yorkshire or Wales.

Yorkshire because a crucial scene in Clockwork Prince takes place there. P. 169:

Ragnor Fell, High Warlock of London: “What’s on the carpet, then, Charlotte? Did you really call me out here to discuss dark doings on the Yorkshire moors? I was under the impression that nothing of great interest happened in Yorkshire. In fact, I was under the impression that there was nothing in Yorkshire except sheep and mining.”

Oh la-di-dah, Mr. Fell. Yorkshire isn’t that boring. She was there when she was 11. She was sent to summer camp, somewhere in Yorkshire Dales. She saw the magnificent cathedral.

And Wales?

Something so alluring and romantic about Wales. Aside from the fact that Wales is where Will Herondale was born and lived until he was 12.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Women in Heels

Self is short.

Short. Short. Short. Short.

Granted, short is not a disease.

Nevertheless.

On the question of heels. Last week, went to the Victoria & Albert Museum, lined up to pay 12 GBP to see exhibit on footwear called, if self remembers correctly: Shoes:  Pleasure & Pain.

Fabulous Chihuly: In the Lobby of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Fabulous Chihuly: In the Lobby of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

The torture aspect was, in self’s humble opinion, very de-emphasized. Self has seen more torturous shoes (including one fabulous pair with moss growing on the heels) in Greenwich Village in New York City.

And now to “Jurassic World,” which self has not seen, but which seems to have triggered some very strong audience reaction to Bryce Dallas Howard’s choice of footwear. It seems she keeps the heels on, throughout the movie.

Now, let self ponder this a moment.

Self has seen, in Italy, women running flat out for a bus in the highest, stiletto-heeled shoes imaginable. They look great. Also, super-powerful.

She has watched episodes of “Sex and the City” in which Sarah Jessica Parker, post-baby, runs flat out down a New York avenue in Jimmy Choos.

Let’s not forget Jodie Foster in Spike Lee’s Inside Man, the one where she plays an oh-so-smooth New York lawyer representing the Rich Bad Guy who profited from the theft of Jewish assets during World War II. Self thinks that if she had a lawyer who wore four-inch heels as confidently as Jodie Foster’s character does (and Jodie’s legs are the best legs self has seen on film since — since — the woman in Brian De Palma’s Dressed To Kill), she would rest easy in the conviction that she would win all her cases.

Then there is Paula Patton, who in the most memorable scene in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (one of the sequels, the one shot in Dubai), kicks off her heels, leaves on the powder-blue shift dress, and FIGHTS. Really FIGHTS. Afterwards, she sits chatting with her group, all men. She remains barefoot, but still wearing that fabulous dress. The only indication that she’s been IN a fight (because, ya know, she’s as cool as a cucumber. Or at least her character is. She has antagonists like Lea Seydoux for breakfast. Honestly) are her bare feet.

And now we arrive at Bryce Dallas Howard, who in side-note self must say is one of the most unusually interesting-looking actresses working today.  Because her character, Clare, never takes off her shoes, we are left to debate the fine points of female fashion choices. Self means: Is it rational to keep on the heels when one is being chased by a velociraptor?

Self can think of many reasons why Clare would choose to keep wearing her shoes: (1) Jungle floors are slimy; (2) She does not have hiking boots in her closet, or even in her desk drawer at work, or even under her desk in her office at work.

A guest post by Lesley Holmes on clothesonfilm makes the point: “I think the makers of Jurassic world believed that showing a woman capable of running in heels was the same as showing us a capable woman . . . ” Of course! This is a very old Hollywood trope, just about as old as the idea of the director auteur (born with Citizen Kane, which means — a long long time ago). If you want to know how powerful a woman character is, just look at what she’s wearing on her feet, for God’s sake!

Self would just like to say that while she was in line in the women’s restroom at the Gielgud Theatre, during the intermission for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, self engaged a young woman in conversation, and then expressed admiration for her shoes. They looked just like the Sam Edelmans self bought last year in California, but this woman’s shoes were flats. The young woman looked at self regretfully and said, “They’re super-painful. See?” She slipped her right foot out of her shoe and there, plain as day, was the beginning of a blister. Aaargh! The things self sees in women’s restrooms! Which is neither here nor there. But it brought home the lesson that flats are just as capable of giving a woman blisters as are Manolo Blahniks or Jimmy Choos.

Self realizes that she herself has very little to say about the wearing of high heels, but in Hollywood, the woman who wears the highest heels is the most powerful woman on the block. She’s just saying.

Stay tuned.

#fridayreads: Because It Is Impossible to Try and Quote Shakespeare in 140 Characters

Henry IV, Part One, Act One Scene Two (Self is so inspired after watching the Globe production of “King John” two days ago, with poet Joan McGavin!):

Prince Henry:  Good morrow, Ned.

Poins:  Good morrow, Sweet Hal. What says Monsieur Remorse? What says Sir John Sack-and-Sugar? Jack, how agrees the devil and thee about thy soul that thou soldest him on Good Friday last, for a cup of Madeira and a good capon’s leg?

Prince Henry:  Sir John stands to his word, the devil shall have his bargain, for he was never yet a breaker of proverbs; he will give the devil his due.

Poins:  Then art thou damned for keeping thy word with the devil.

Prince Henry:  Else he has been damned for cozening the devil.

Poins:  But my lads, my lads, tomorrow morning, by four o’clock early at Gadshill. There are pilgrims going to Canterbury with rich offerings, and traders riding to London with fat purses.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

London From Tessa Gray’s Point of View

Jem, Tessa, and Will, the intrepid three of Clockwork Prince, have just boarded a train for York (Trains, in self’s humble opinion, are fabulous. Because they take one from somewhere to somewhere else. They represent movement and also stability because you can read a book and anchor yourself that way while zipping along. British trains are also excellent for eavesdropping. Now, where was self?)

“There is always something so exciting about the start of a journey, don’t you think?” Tessa went on, nose to the window, though she could see little but smoke and soot and hurtling, gray rain; London was a dim shadow in the mist.

“No,” said Will as he sat back and pulled his hat down over his eyes.

Tessa kept her face against the glass as the gray of London began to fall away behind them, and with it the rain. Soon they were rolling through green fields dotted with white sheep with here and there the point of a village steeple in the distance. The sky had turned from steel to a damp, misty blue, and small black clouds scudded overhead. Tessa watched it all with fascination.

Clockwork Prince, pp. 83-84

Street Light, Somewhere Near St. Bride's Church

Street Light, Somewhere Near St. Bride’s Church

As they get further from London, the countryside grows “less green, more stark,” with “long swathes of gray-green grass and outcroppings of black rock.” Self can hardly wait to get to York.

There are a number of Shadowhunter Institutes scattered around the United Kingdom: one in London, of course. One in York. One in Cornwall (“near Tintagel”), one in Cardiff, and one in Edinburgh. Great. Self plans to visit all these places. After she gets back from Ireland. For some reason, today, self was feeling very lethargic and slept in. She continued reading the miserable Third Reich at War.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Second (Or Third) Re-Read of CLOCKWORK PRINCESS

Self had quite a busy Sunday.

She went to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Then she walked around, taking lots of pictures.

She finally, finally did a little work on her WIP, A Myriad Wildernesses.

She spoke to Joan McGavin.

She heard from Zack.

She began re-reading Clockwork Princess.

(Dear blog readers sigh)

She loves, loves, loves the angst.

Clockwork Princess opens with Tessa Gray in a gold wedding dress.

And Cicely Herondale trying to goad her brother, Will, into writing a letter to their parents, who he hasn’t seen or spoken to in five years.

Cecily:  Would you consider a wager, Will?

Cecily was both pleased and a little disappointed to see Will’s eyes spark, just the way her father’s always did when a gentleman’s bet was suggested. Men were so easy to predict.

Self likes Cecily! Got a lot of spunk, that girl does. Sort of reminds her of Arya Stark.

Let’s see, what else did self do today? She got herself a ticket to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which is showing at the Gielgud. She hopes it’s as good as the Broadway production, which just won a bunch of Tonys, including one for Alex Sharp, who plays the male lead. Well, it should be just as good, since the play originated here, in London.

On Wednesday, self is seeing King John at the Globe (Hurrah!) Self loves the Globe. And this time, she won’t be alone: Joan will be watching it with her.

Self’s first time to experience the wonder of the Globe was last year; she caught a production of Titus Andronicus (which was properly billed as “theatre without mercy”). It was brutal, it was shades of Quentin Tarantino, it had people walking out before half-time. Self nearly barfed at the chopping-off of hands scene.

While walking around today, self saw a huge sign plastering a building: Fifty Shades of Grey, now out on video. Oh my oh my oh my oh my. London is like some futuristic, anachronistic, fantastical Victorian Steampunk city.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

London Is So Vivid: First Stop on the Shadowhunters Tour of London

Yup, self is once again in a foreign clime.

It was not so bad, the change this time. London is only eight hours ahead of California.

And it is warm in the city.

Warm = good.

Self’s first stop (after arriving from the airport ) was Westminster Abbey. Because, The Infernal Devices. This is, after all, her Shadowhunters London tour.

Here’s a passage from p. 9 of Clockwork Prince:

She had known that famous kings, queens, soldiers, and poets were buried in Westminster Abbey, but she hadn’t quite expected she’d be standing on top of them.

She and Jem slowed finally at the southeastern corner of the church. Watery daylight poured through the rose window overhead. “I know we are in a hurry to get to the Council meeting,” said Jem, “but I wanted you to see this.” He gestured around them. “Poet’s corner.”

DSCN9988

And it is true, dear blog readers, that one is really standing on top of stone slabs that say:  Charles Darwin. Charles Dickens. Samuel Johnson. William Wilberforce. It feels a little disrespectful, but even though a man decked in out the bright green robe of a docent insisted that the actual bones of the famous gents were underneath the stones, she didn’t quite believe him. It is also quite strange that there are some children buried there, along with Isaac Newton and Edward the Confessor, and also some anonymous knights. Mary Queen of Scots gets her very own chapel. And why do Jane Austen and the three Bronte sisters have to be beneath a whole wall of names of MEN: Keats and Shelley topping the whole.

DSCN9987

Photographs are not allowed, so these were a few random shots self took from outside the Abbey.

She had lunch at the on-site restaurant, the Cellarium Café. Try the duck with bok choy. The waiter recommended it, and it was so much better than the roast duck she had at Fung Lum in the San Francisco Airport.

The grass is so vividly green in England. Afterwards, she made an entire circuit of St. James Park, and wished she could linger, but she was also in a hurry to take a nice, warm shower. Because it felt like she hadn’t showered in 48 hours. A terrible feeling.

DSCN9992

Another place prominently featured in The Infernal Devices is the Thames, because of course Jem and Will spend a lot of time conversing on the riverbank, the Victoria Embankment, where they can look at Cleopatra’s Needle and, to their right, Hungerford Bridge. Self might make that the next stop on her Shadowhunters tour.

Self was telling a cab driver about Cassandra Clare’s mention of Poet’s Corner and the Pyx Chamber in Westminster, and suddenly the taxi driver said, “That sounds a lot like Harry Potter.” Which surprised self exceedingly but really shouldn’t have, because she knows that Clare got her start writing Harry Potter fan fiction. So of course, that overlay of the magical with the mundane — Clare was definitely influenced by J. K. Rowling.

But self likes Victorian Steampunk so much better than plain old Harry Potter magic. Because she adores the scenes of violent demon-slaying and all that mayhem occurring on Blackfriars Bridge. She really is such a bloodthirsty soul.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Vivid 3: A Day’s Peregrinations, Which Include Reading a Short Story in THE BANE CHRONICLES

Today, self re-visited some of her favorite haunts, the locus for some of her most vivid memories.

One was a small shopping center at the intersection of Marsh and Bay Road.

Here they have a great potsticker place and also a very nice breakfast place called Squeezed In which, for some reason, has adopted the motif of aliens. Green aliens. There was this at the entrance, and more hanging inside, on the restaurant walls:

The Aliens Have Landed! On Bay Road!

The Aliens Have Landed! On Bay Road!

Self was so impressed that Sandy has this little thing, made by one of her sons when they were in grade school (St. Raymond’s, where self’s Andrew also went to school. In fact, that’s how Sandy and self met, many many years ago. Now, Sandy’s older boy works in Palo Alto, and her younger boy is in the Navy, stationed in Oahu):

Hanging Above Sandy's desk in her home office!

Hanging Above Sandy’s desk in her home office!

Self’s last stop was Kepler’s Books. Self has read in Kepler’s a couple of times, most memorably when her first book, Ginseng and Other Tales from Manila, was published by Calyx. Today, self stopped by in the hottest part of the afternoon, and wanted to just curl up in a corner and read.

DSCN9950

She began reading The Bane Chronicles (so tempted to buy a copy, but it’s hardcover and quite hefty), the fourth story, called “The Midnight Heir,” which she knows from Goodreads is the story about the Herondales.

Magnus Bane, Warlock, returns to London for the first time in 25 years, and at a party he meets a beautiful 17-year-old boy who reminds him so much of his old friend, Will Herondale. He almost thinks it is Will himself in the flesh, but the boy does not have Will’s blue eyes. When Magnus approaches the boy, he is surprised when the boy addresses him thus:

“You are Magnus Bane.”

Magnus hesitated, then inclined his head. “And you are?”

“I,” the boy announced, “am James Herondale.”

At this point, self wanted to charge the check-out desk, whip out her credit card and exclaim, Put it there! I’m good!

But no, she restrained herself and continued to read:

James: I would not set any great store in it. My father trusts a great many people.

Magnus:  I see that a flair for the dramatic runs in the blood.

So, since young Herondale is so visibly drunk, Magnus undertakes to bring him home and restore him to the loving arms of his parents, who are none other than — Will Herondale and Tessa Gray! Who Magnus has not seen in 25 years! Holy Heavens to Mergatroid!

James Herondale has passed out, and Magnus has to carry him in his arms (the better to scrutinize that darling Will-like face, of course), and the anxious parents come to receive their son, whereby Magnus recounts the events of the evening, which included James riding a bicycle (without using his hands) to Trafalgar Square, climbing to the top of the Nelson Monument and attempting to do battle with Lord Nelson, then trying to drown himself in the Serpentine.

Magnus:  Then he abruptly collapsed, naturally in the path of an oncoming train from Dover, and I decided it was well past time to take him home and place him in the bosom of his family. If you had rather I put him in an orphanage, I fully understand.

Strangely, Tessa has not aged at all in 25 years, but Will has. Yet, to Magnus he is still handsome.

And then Brother Zachariah (Damn him! Self is all WESSA) makes an appearance. And the love between Jem/ aka Brother Zachariah and Will is even more palpable than the love between Jem and Tessa. Holy Mackerel! No wonder 95.6% of all fan fiction about The Infernal Devices is M/M.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Spy”

Can self just tell you how much she loved Melissa McCarthy in “Spy”?

When she thinks back to “Bridesmaids,” she is amazed at how McCarthy has flowered.

And self does mean flowered.

“Spy” is a most hilarious movie, BTW. Self was laughing almost continuously throughout.

Casting Jude Law? Priceless, simply priceless. The movie had lots of satiric fun with him (and he’s looking pretty fine in this film). He is the perfect foil to Melissa McCarthy. The moment when he hands her a cupcake gew-gaw — OMG, he’s such an ass! Such an unbelievable ass! Self can’t even.

Rose Byrne does reprise of “Bridesmaids” role — this time, saying things like:

What a stupid fucking retarded toast. You’re delightful.”

As always, her sense of timing is absolutely impeccable.

Melissa McCarthy gets to employ maximum sarcasm during their exchanges:

“Oh, God, Rayna, thank God your hair broke your fall.”

Not to mention the rest of the supporting cast: Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Bobby Canavale, Allison Janey.

Especially Allison Janey.

Please, please God let there be a “Spy 2.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

CLOCKWORK PRINCESS: THE END (SELF’S EYES SWOLLEN TO THE SIZE OF GOLFBALLS)

WAAAAAH!  Self tried to put off reading to the end of Clockwork Princess, but she couldn’t, she just couldn’t.

SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! CAN’T SAY SELF DIDN’T WARN YOU!

She wanted to begin Clockwork Angel all over again, the scene where Will first stumbles across Tessa, in the house of the Dark Sisters. He looked like an ordinary boy, only beautiful. And he had gear strapped to his chest, and threw knives like nobody’s business. Tessa was scared and, to distract her, he told her about hedgehogs. Hedgehogs! Will Herondale, self absolutely loves you.

She ended up PM-ing with her niece on FB: Karina, see what you’ve done? Self is a MESS! SUCH A MESS! SHE CAN’T EVEN! BECAUSE — WILL HERONDALE!

Calm down, self!

Anyhoo, self has made no secret of the fact that one of her favorite secondary characters was Jessamine. And somewhere in Clockwork Princess, she expires. In Will’s arms. But not before she has a very touching conversation with him, and ends up revealing that she always liked him better than Jem (You said it, girl! Jem is such a — such a — never mind!), and self cried BUCKETS. She does mean BUCKETS.

And just as she was wringing out her last set of clean handkerchiefs because Will was taking the loss of his parabatai so badly (Not to mention, he had sex with his parabatai’s fiancée but he only did it to comfort her because she was so torn up over the loss of Jem; he did ask her about three times if she was sure, and each time she told him that yes, she was sure, and she wouldn’t hold it against him if they did it, and that whole scene was just so — AAARGH!), along comes . . .

the ghost of Jessamine!

Cassandra Clare, thank you thank you thank you for making the reader’s last encounter with Jessamine not a bloody corpse in a white gown on the steps of the London Institute!

Jessamine: I always said you’d be a dreadful suitor, Will, and you are nigh on proving it.

Will:  Truly? You have come back from death like the ghost of Old Marley . . . to nag me about my romantic prospects?

Jessamine: What prospects? You’ve taken Tessa on so many carriage rides, I’d wager she could draw a map of London from memory . . .

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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