Reading List 2016, Updated

Just finished:  The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, by Thad Carhart (Charming)

Starting: The Piano Tuner, by Daniel Mason: a novel set in Burma

Then:

  • The Piano Player, by Kurt Vonnegut (Nephew’s favorite writer)
  • Road Dogs, by Elmore Leonard (One of self’s favorite writers)
  • The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters (Another of self’s favorite writers)
  • The Forever War, by Dexter Filkins

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Vibrant 2: New York City’s High Line

Whoever was responsible for bringing the High Line into existence, self thanks you. The most beautiful things about New York City last December were:

  • the weather (shirt-sleeve weather)
  • Carnegie Hall
  • Central Park
  • High Line

She has posted many pictures of the High Line in the last two months. Here are the most vibrant ones:

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The tables above are the outdoor seating for Terroir.

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On the High Line: A Message

And the same message, only in context:

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Chelsea (Former Meatpacking District), viewed from the High Line

P.S. Interesting, isn’t it, the predominance of vibrant yellow? Self almost thinks that was deliberate!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

The Personal Bookshelf in the Mendocino Apartment

Writers travel with a lot of books. Self is amazed at how many she ends up bringing with her.

She’s been in Mendocino most of January. Here’s her stash:

  • Of course, Miguel Hernandez, in the translation by Don Share
  • World of the Maya, by Victor W. Von Hagen, the copy she had with her at 21, when she and her roommate, Sachiko, an anthropology major, rode the third-class public bus from Mexico City to Chichen Itza
  • The Best American Travel Writing, 2013, edited by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Travel Writing, by Cynthia Dial
  • Secret London: An Unusual Guide, by Rachel Howard and Bill Nash
  • Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm, by Phil Pullman
  • Lost Between: Writings on Displacement, edited by Catherine Dunne and Federica Sgaggio
  • Travelers’ Tales Guides to Spain, edited by Lucy McCauley
  • Virtual Lotus: Modern Fiction of Southeast Asia, edited by Teri Shaffer Yamada
  • copies of her first collection, post-Stanford: Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila, as well as copies of the anthology she co-edited with Virginia Cerenio, Going Home to a Landscape
  • Conamara Blues, by John O’Donohue
  • Firelines, by Marcus Cumberlege
  • The Piano Tuner, by Daniel Mason
  • Writing the Memoir, by Judith Barrington
  • Diane Arbus: A Chronology, 1923 – 1971
  • Another Kind of Paradise: Short Stories From the New Asia-Pacific, edited by Trevor Carolan
  • Dead Season: A Story of Murder and Revenge on the Philippine Island of Negros, by Alan Berlow
  • Tonle Sap: The Heart of Cambodia’s Natural Heritage, by Colin Poole

Don’t even get self started on the journals!

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

Peeta and Johanna Mind-Swap (Fan Fic Of Course)

Do not read if you are squeamish at the thought of a Peeta/Katniss reunion, only with Peeta in Johanna’s body. Hey, if self can buy a tranny Peeta (who borrows Katniss’s clothes; it’s super-fine with Katniss), there can be a Peeta-in-Johanna’s body thing.

So, if you can, just imagine the whole “star-crossed lovers” plot with a body switch, then you will empathize with the below complications:

  • Johanna insists on taking her D-13 shower with the men.
  • Peeta can’t get used to having such small feet (They’re Johanna’s) and keeps stumbling.
  • Peeta to Katniss: “Having boobs is pretty weird.”
  • Katniss doesn’t feel comfortable kissing Peeta because he’s in Johanna’s body.
  • When Peeta is rescued, Katniss goes straight for him and hugs him fervently, not knowing that Peeta is now in Johnna and it’s now Johanna in Peeta. Katniss gets very confused when Peeta (who is actually Johanna now) just stands there without returning her embrace.
  • Gale doesn’t get jealous of all the time Katniss spends hanging out with Johanna, because he doesn’t know that it’s really Peeta inside Johanna’s body.
  • Plutarch asks Peeta to appear in a propo, Peeta just stands there looking bored (Of course Plutarch has no clue that Johanna is inside Peeta, and so forth. Self doesn’t know if she quite buys the Johanna-looking-bored-while-filming-a-propo thing. In self’s mind, a propo would be a perfect opportunity for Johanna to show off her antic nature)

Well, self could just go on and on and on and on and on, but she won’t.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Mendocino Again! Still Writing About Cheating Peeta

Self took her leisurely time, leaving the Bay Area a little past 9, going slow in heavy rain through the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin, Cloverdale, Route 128, Highway 1, Yorkville, Albion, Little River. She saw all the usual stuff: sheep, redwoods, wineries. She didn’t stop until she got to Booneville, where she dropped another chapter of her Cheating Peeta fan fic (It is so much FUN to write about Cheating Peeta! The most fun she remembers having in aaaaages! The readers are vested to the max in her characters. They even offer tips about what they think should happen next. For instance, one reader suggests that Katniss and Cheating Peeta, to repair their dysfunctional marriage, go on a vacation “to a white sand beach, preferably right away, preferably without telling anyone.” Now, why didn’t self think of that before? Who wouldn’t love a getaway to a white sand beach? Or, how about this comment: “Oh, I do hope there is a fistfight!” LOL LOL LOL)

Since the internet can be quite poky here in the far northern California coast, she took the opportunity to stop at the Mosswood Café in Booneville where, while munching on delicious chorizo & goat cheese empanadas, she hurriedly dropped a new chapter — QED because her chapters are short, only about four pages long — and then watched with excitement and satisfaction as the # of hits climbed and climbed and climbed, with every passing second!

The only drawbacks so far since she installed herself in her unit at the Mendocino Art Center are: (1) It is cold; (2) At night, there are no lights; (3) She forgot to bring a flashlight; and (4) She discovered she left behind her copy of Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan’s The Strain, which she was meaning to read when she got through with Philipp Meyer’s American Rust.

The Strain is a horror story involving one or both of these elements: (1) vampires; (2) zombies. She knows she can always pick up a copy from Gallery Bookstore (one of her faaaave hangouts in Mendocino!) tomorrow, but perhaps she should re-think reading horror while in Mendocino. At least, until the days start getting longer. Because when she poked her head out of her unit about two hours ago, there was a stiff wind, it was mighty cold, and she couldn’t see her car because the night darkness was so total. And The Strain sounds genuinely scary. And maybe, just maybe, she doesn’t really need to add that kind of tension to her life right now?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Despite the Pouring Rain

When self left New York City, it was just beginning to get cold. The week before she left, she was still able to walk around Central Park in T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers!

She arrived in San Francisco to rain. Rain and rain and rain. And cold. Rain and cold. And now — storm coming! GAAAAAH!

Nevertheless —

Self dropped a new Everlark fan fic about Cheating Peeta/Stalker Delly in December. Over the past few weeks, it’s generated tremendous amount of discussion on the boards!

Gotten more comments than any fic that dropped in December!

The bare story is this: Peeta cheats on Katniss with Delly. Katniss files for divorce and decides to take time off from teaching to travel around Southeast Asia. And she cheats on Peeta. (The divorce takes a long time because, you know, California lawyers! It might be years!) The two meet in Siem Reap, Cambodia and — Kaboom! — Primal connection fireworks!

Who knew self would be getting comments like this!

  • When I get the new chapter alert in my office, I have to sneak to the comfort room so I can read. I’m very inefficient at work these days.
  • I’m addicted to Fallout 4, but yesterday when I got your story alert, I immediately dropped my controller and reached for my tablet.
  • Every chapter, I cry angry tears, it’s like you’re pounding a nail into my coffin.

Readers list possible ways to deal with the problem of Cheating Peeta:

  • Punch him in the face, Katniss!
  • Shoot him in the nuts with your bow and arrow!
  • Make Peeta grovel!
  • Find yourself some hot, sexy man!

Everlark is self’s be-all and end-all.

Stay tuned.

 

Now: Other WordPress Blogs

It’s almost New Year’s. Self thinks 2015 was her most adventurous year. And that’s saying something. Because she has been traveling a lot since 2011. To Dharamsala. To Dublin, Cork, Galway and Northern Ireland. To Bacolod. To Venice. To Florence. To Edinburgh. To London. To York. To Boston. To New Hampshire. To Banff. To Calgary. To Minneapolis. To Culver City. To Venice Beach. To Virginia.

Funny, it is really ending with a bang. She got a piece picked up in December. And the week after, she began posting a new fan fic story that she thought would be a one-shot but has since turned into 30 chapters. Pure seat-of-the-pants writing. Everlark modern AU. But it starts off with Cheating Peeta. Self is the Mistress of Angst, for sure. It’s like she did her own personal NanoWriMo only in December rather than November. Who’d have thought?

2015 was the year she got her first tour of Carnegie Hall, the place where Dearest Mum gave a solo recital — when she was 14 years old. Which would make the year 1948.

She remembered Dearest Mum taking her to the Russian Tea Room, when she was 21 and a new grad student at Stanford. Self remembered she had French onion soup and cheese blintzes. She asked for the same, when she dropped by the Russian Tea Room earlier this month.

Self doesn’t have family over, she didn’t even get a tree this year, so she has no heartwarming holiday pictures to share. Instead, here are five other WordPress bloggers whose posts on the Photo Challenge — NOW — resonated the most with self:

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Guardian: 75 Films to Watch in 2016

Self enjoys reading The Guardian. In particular, their film blog.

Yesterday, she stumbled across a piece called: 75 movies to look forward to in 2016.

75??? Only The Guardian would have the temerity to post such a mind-boggling list of 2016 movies.

Well, self will attempt to take a gander.

Here are her conclusions, after one read-through:

  • Keanu Reeves is back! He’s in at least three 2016 movies.
  • Michael Fassbender is in everything. Michael Shannon is in everything. Ryan Gosling is in at least two upcoming.
  • Matt Damon is back as Bourne (triple somersault YAY!) and Paul Greengrass is directing (Wowowowowowow!!!)
  • Charlie Hunnam Is. In. A. Movie (Oh God. It’s been too long)
  • Casey Affleck is in a movie. Self likes Casey Affleck. More than she likes his brother.
  • They’re making a film of Shusako Endo’s Silence! They’re making a film of Shusako Endo’s Silence! And it’s starring Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, and Adam Driver. Oh God.
  • Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool (And this one actually seems like it might work)
  • Jennifer Lawrence is mentioned as getting $20 million for the space movie she’s in with Chris Pratt. BTW, people? She’s worth every penny.
  • They’re making a movie (Neon Demon) about “beauty-obsessed women in L.A.” and self loves the cast: Keanu Reeves, Elle Fanning, and Christina Hendricks.
  • Star Wars spin-off Rogue One: Another Brit (Felicity Jones) stars.
  • Anthropoid, about the assassination of one of World War II’s most brutal concentration camp commanders: Reinhard Heydrich. This one stars Jamie Dornan and Cillian Murphy. These are two gorgeous men, dear blog readers. If self weren’t already cheering about the plot, she’d be cheering at the prospect of seeing these men’s gorgeous cheekbones in close-up on the big screen.

BTW, saw Joy and enjoyed it. It seemed rather muted for a David O. Russell film, especially one starring his muse Jennifer Lawrence. Self thinks Amy Adams could have handled that part. But Jennifer is truly a force. Self refuses to complain too much about a film that has her in it.

Stay tuned.

In the Dark Future Days of Panem . . .

There is a society where men are slaves, to be led around by leashes at all times!

Into this maelstrom of human dysfunction appears — a very prim and proper young lady named Katniss Everdeen, who doesn’t like using leashes on her personal slave, one Peeta Mellark, who she received as a gift from her aunt Effie Trinket, who procured Peeta at a slave auction!

Sample dialogue:

Peeta (to Katniss): I pray you’re not a leash person.

Katniss: Don’t worry, I’m not. My aunt Effie, maybe. She’s always wanted a puppy to walk.

Peeta: Oh God, I can see it now. Knowing Ms. Trinket it’s probably a hot pink collar studded with little sparkly diamonds.

This is Fan Fiction (Not self’s of course! Self doesn’t write anything this deliciously twisted)

Lord knows why, but just before Christmas, self undertook to write a new fan fiction, forgetting that the fan fiction universe is relentless, and once the “beast” (reader views, favorites, bookmarks, and so forth) is unleashed, it must be fed. Constantly.

For instance, today, self spent four hours re-writing the chapters she had already posted. Which was mighty confusing to her readers.

What is not confusing is the reaction to self’s (cheating) Peeta:

  • I want to reach into the computer and punch him in the face!
  • Someone please give him a black eye!
  • Why is he such a wuss? He needs to grow a pair!
  • He’s nothing but a lying, cheating Mama’s Boy!
  • I hope he and his girlfriend are struck by lightning!
  • Is this going to be Everlark? Cause I just don’t see Everlark happening in your scenario. Katniss should punch him in the face!

OMG, what just happened?

Self had to swear up and down the fan fiction universe that the story would indeed be Everlark, but now that everyone has expressed their utter disgust at “this Peeta,” self is getting second-hand revulsion feels similar to the way she used to receive second-hand smoke from The Man.

Yes, self thinks, you Peeta are nothing but a lying, cheating @@##!! (expletive deleted). The only solution would be for self to end your life (on the page)! Die, Cheating Peeta, die!

Hence, her stumbling across the Slave Peeta fic, which is actually a very interesting trope, though not quite as interesting, perhaps, as Tranny Peeta (Well helloooo, Caitlyn Jenner backwash!) or Peeta having the starring role in an all-queer production of Hamlet.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Chance Meeting, Cebu Airport

In 2010, self gave a reading at a conference in Cebu (central Philippines). From there, she flew to her Dear Departed Dad’s hometown of Bacolod.

While she waited for her Bacolod flight, she decided to get a massage. The massage place was right next to the boarding area, how convenient. The customers are shielded from view (by screens?) of people in the boarding area (but not of fellow customers, there’s a row of beds placed side-by-side), and the strange thing is, there were men and women getting full-body massages right there, mere yards away from where a whole crowd of passengers were gathered. To preserve customers’ modesty, the masseuse draped a thin towel over one’s body.

Anyhoo, the story self wants to tell is: She was freshly massaged, and her hair was standing up on end (from a scalp massage), when a man walked up to her, introduced himself as a fellow writer, and said he had attended her reading.

Self asked him where he was from, and he said Cagayan de Oro. She found out he was a fellow writer. He signed a copy of his book and gave it to her (Self really wishes that she looked more orderly when she walked out of that massage place).

His book was in Bikolano (which self doesn’t speak). It was a collection of plays!

The writer’s name was Carlos A. Aréjola.

Here’s the production notes, setting, cast of characters etc. from his play Unang Yugto:

Tagpuan (Setting): Cottage sa isang resort (A cottage in a resort)

Panahon (Time): Kasalukuyan (The Present)

CHARACTERS:

Edwin – matangkad, guapo (tall, handsome)

Toledo – mestisuhin (mestizo), 18 taong gulang (18 years old)

Dagul – 21, moreno (dark-skinned), medyo pandak (somewhat short), may body piercings.

Falcon – mestisuhin (mestizo), ayos na ayos ang buhok (Hair fussed over; sorry, that’s the best she can come up with)

Dalawang Dalaga (2 girls): college girls, magaganda (beautiful), mapuputi (white-skinned)

Mga Pasahero Sa Airport (Passengers in the Airport)

How self loves that the characters have to be differentiated by whether they are light-skinned or dark-skinned, and that the two college girls are beautiful (magaganda) and mapuputi (white-skinned). To be white-skinned is to be beautiful?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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