Kudos, p. 55: A Hamster

Whenever mice or hamsters enter a story — any story — self’s satisfaction quotient goes up 300%.

It happened in Dave Sedaris’s piece on how hard he had to try to kill a mouse (Self isn’t sure which collection contained the piece, she thinks it might have been Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim)

It happened in Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach. Self was on the fence about this novel until she got to the section where twins Ava and Zelda adopt a small clutch of baby mice. That’s when she realized the book was a gem.

It’s happening in Kudos. Oh JOY! The hamster page is 55:

The solid fact of the hamster made all the difference. She could describe them petting it and fawning over it while its imprisonment got increasingly on Linda’s nerves, and the way it solidified their bond so that Linda felt left out. What kind of love was this, that needed the love object domesticated and locked up? And if there was love being handed out, why wasn’t she getting any? It occurred to Linda that since their daughter had found a satisfactory companion in the hamster, her husband might have taken the opportunity to round that situation out by returning his attention to his wife, yet the opposite was the case: he could leave the child alone less than ever. Every time she went near the cage he would leap to his feet to join her, until Linda wondered whether he was actually jealous of the hamster and was only pretending to love it as a way of keeping hold of her.

The Economist really messed up by not mentioning the hamster passage in their review of Kudos.

Stay tuned.

Last Sunday in London

Self is in her room, reading a copy of The Guardian.

The trial of the “man who drove his car into a crowd of activists who  had been protesting against a white nationalist rally, leaving one woman dead and several injured,” has begun in Charlottesville, Virginia.

This morning, self returned to the Royal Academy of Art for a repeat viewing of the Oceania Exhibit.

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Royal Academy of Art: Sunday, 2 December 2018

She liked it even more, the second time around. She stayed watching the video for nearly an hour.

The little handout that accompanies the exhibit starts with:

Two-hundred and fifty years ago, in August 1768, four months before George III founded the Royal Academy of Arts, Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook left Plymouth in command of the HMS Endeavour.

She remembers reading a book by Tony Horwitz: Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before and, well, that book must have made quite an impression because it fixed Captain Cook’s voyage forever in her memory and now, 15 years later, here she is, in London, having seen the Oceania exhibit twice!

As she left the Royal Academy (still in a daze of cultural overload), she happened to notice that there was a store across the street called FORTNUM & MASON. And the display windows were so Christmas-y! She decided to check it out:

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Fortnum & Mason: Sunday, 2 December 2018

Self entered through a revolving door and promptly found herself in the middle of a mob scene the like of which she has never experienced in London. What she means: people were grabbing blue boxes of chocolates off shelves directly in front of her, and pushing them into shopping carts. Yes, dear blog readers. English people were pushing shopping carts around a store, the contents consisting entirely of chocolate. There were boxes of dark chocolate, boxes of milk chocolate, boxes of assorted chocolate, boxes of chocolate with nuts, boxes of chocolate with creamy centers — you name it.

Self decided then and there that she would not leave the store without sampling some of this delightful chocolate. A shopgirl told her to take a number. She was # 19. She then asked the shopgirl what were the most popular chocolate purchases, and the girl replied, without any hesitation: TRUFFLES. Caramel Salt.

OMGGGGGGG

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Chocolate Counter, Fortnum & Mason: Sunday, 2 December 2018

She wanted to buy a box of chocolates for son and daughter-in-law, but didn’t know what kind they liked: milk chocolate or not? And this is when self bitterly regretted that her Verizon phone does not work. Has not worked for two months. In fact, Verizon just e-mailed self that she would not be able to avail of their international services. Thank you, Verizon, FOR TELLING SELF WHAT SHE ALREADY KNOWS.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Poetry Tuesday: Tom MacIntyre

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After hours and hours of straight writing, self takes a break by perusing her cottage’s bookshelves for poetry collections.

She finds a collection called I Bailed Out at Ardee (Dedalus), by Tom MacIntyre.

Excerpt from Father

My shoulder knows his coffin
best of all, I was
the one who wasn’t there.

Tom MacIntyre was born in Cavan.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Samson and the Piano: MY ANTONIA, Book II, Ch. VII

Self’s mother attended Curtis as an 11-year-old who had never, ever left the Philippines before.

So when she reads the below passage in My Antonia, she is practically in tears:

They found he had absolute pitch, and a remarkable memory. As a very young child he could repeat, after a fashion, any composition that was played for him. No matter how many wrong notes he struck, he never lost the intention of a passage, he brought the substance of it across by irregular and astonishing means. He wore his teachers out. He could never learn like other people, never acquired any finish.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Pastel Colors

Love Cee Neuner’s Fun Foto Challenge!

This week’s challenge is PASTEL COLORS.

It turned out to be surprisingly hard to find photos with predominantly pastel colors!

These flesh-coloured gourd plants were at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers:

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The Magritte exhibit at SFMOMA on self’s birthday in July:

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A bit of nostalgia:

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Map of the Philippines, Son’s Room in Redwood City, California

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Tech University, CA: Loaded

A month ago, Google made son an offer and moved him up from southern California.

Before Google, son worked six years for Blizzard, manufacturer of World of Warcraft. The Blizzard headquarters in Irvine is a sprawl of low buildings. Irvine even has a Blizzard way.

What young boy doesn’t play video games. Dream job! Son is the uber-nerd, going to San Diego Comi-con every year, reading science fiction exclusively, and attending Magic Card conventions.

Google put him up in fully furnished apartment in Palo Alto, biking distance from Google headquarters in Mountain View. Rent is free for three months. They sent him a real estate broker to assist in his hunt for a more permanent living arrangement. In the meantime, son signs up for free cooking classes held in his apartment complex.

Apple, Google, Facebook: the three big engines of Silicon Valley employment. During a brief stint living in the City, self shared a building with a bunch of Google engineers. Many of them had just moved to the Bay Area.

This past summer, her niece (19, studying in Michigan) got an internship for Facebook. They gave her an apartment in Palo Alto. AND she was driven to work each day by a Facebook car service. Her niece is still a teenager and she gets ferried to and from work in a Facebook car.

The Economist of 30 June 2018

“the headquarters of Western tech giants” as “typically horizontal affairs, in keeping with their supposedly flat hierarchies. Facebook’s Silicon Valley campus is a jumble of two-storey buildings connected by parks and bridges. Google is a collection of dozens of separate structures spread over an entire neighborhood in Mountain View. Employees commute between them on colourful bicycles.

So, yeah. Those tech giants are loaded.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Any Kind of Red

Thank you to Cee Neuner for the Fun Foto Challenge: RED

Red is a particular favorite of self’s.

  • Aug. 14, Redwood City’s Fox Theatre: George R. R. Martin read for a Locus Magazine fundraiser.
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Fox Theatre, Redwood City: 14 August 2018

  • One of self’s handbags: a friend made it for her, using material self brought with her from the Philippines.

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  • Self’s birthday was July 14. Son and his wife, Jennie, flew up from southern CA and we spent the day in the City. Stopped at the Museum of Modern Art to see the Magritte exhibit, then had a snack in the sculpture garden. GREAT DAY! BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!
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San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Sculpture Garden: 14 July 2018

 

 

 

Still On P. 27 of THE DOOR

  • All the time, my stepfather was shaking and swearing, because call-up letters were flying around like birds.

This evening self suddenly thinks about her World War II novel (244 pages) and realizes it has no heart. The only thing it describes is how an 18-year-old is sent into the mountains with the enkargado.

When Bacolod was occupied, self’s Dear Departed Dad was 12. The Japanese High Command chose the biggest house in Bacolod to commandeer. Which at the time was Dear Departed Dad’s family’s house.

It had a winding staircase made of imported Carrara marble! With a working Otis elevator! Of course the occupiers must have marveled about how that house had come to be, in such a small island in the center of the Philippines.

Must have been pretty tense, right? When self knew her grandfather, he was an old man in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the neck down. He was always that way, always a sublime paralytic in her memory. It wasn’t until six years ago that self learned that her grandfather suffered the stroke during the Occupation.

There’s a war story self’s Dear Departed Dad told her about how, one day, everyone in Bacolod was made to line up around the Plaza. There was a prisoner seated in the middle of the Plaza and he was beaten pretty badly. The guards wanted him to point out his accomplices. Right when two of my father’s uncles passed in front of the prisoner, his guards gave him a particularly vicious beating. And his arm came up and he pointed, without thought. And he was pointing at one of my father’s uncles. Who was immediately taken away and never seen again.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cal Shakes’ THE WAR OF THE ROSES: FIERCE

Oh, kudos, Cal Shakes. Kudos for everything. For the chart showing the House of Lancaster and the House of York, for the jumbotron messages above the stage (BOO! and RICHARD IS DEAD! were so on point!)

It was a lovely way to spend a late summer afternoon.

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In choosing the seats, self noticed most of the tickets taken were on the LEFT side of the amphitheatre (Section E). She figured that must be because of the sun. When it strikes directly, and you’re sitting there for four hours (yes, the play was four hours: it passes quickly), it is not fun. So she snagged the last three tickets on the left side, which were in the next to last row.

She’s never before sat so far from the stage, but it worked out perfect because this was a large-cast production, with a lot of comings and goings, and from higher up you can really appreciate how every inch of that stage is put to good use.

Self’s only regret was that she did not spring for a button saying, THOU TOAD! ‘Twas only $3.

Both she and son forked up cash for the donation bucket. (This year’s fundraising goal is $150,000)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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The set for The War of The Roses was amazing, as were the costumes. Kudos to Scenic Designer Nina Ball and Costume Designer Anna R. Oliver.

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: TEAL

Love this prompt from Cee Neuner!

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A collection of short stories by the great Wakako Yamauchi who passed away recently. Her own art is on the cover. Edited by Lillian Howan, published by Hawai’i University Press.

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Bought from a Tibetan vendor in Dharamsala: “This will make you strong like _____!” said the vendor to me. Forget which Hindu god has the lightning bolt.

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College-age self and Dear Departed Dad

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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