Sunday Morning Reading: WSJ Weekend Edition, 15-16 February 2020

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2400 passengers

Health workers in masks and body suits

“I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I could die from this cruise.” — Gay Courter, 75, American novelist

Tuesday Photo Challenge: ACTION

There’s always plenty of action around us, so your challenge is to share some of your best captures of that action with all your blogging friends.

Tuesday Photo Challenge

Ever since self’s Nikon Coolpix stopped working, she hasn’t taken as  many pictures. Taking pictures with her Android is such a bear! Nevertheless, she did manage to take some action pictures:

  • Top Picture: San Mateo Farmers Market, the Yang Gang, January 2020
  • Middle Picture: On the street in front of Ottolenghi in Spitalfields, East London, Nov 2019
  • Bottom Picture: Jollibee Hamburger, a little past midnight, Manila, September 2019

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Hall of Shame: Each Senator Who Voted to Acquit

(Can you appreciate the fact that it took self HECKA long to list the names? She was on fire this evening!)

Lamarr Alexander (TN) * John Barrasso (WY) * Marsha Blackburn (TN) * Roy Blunt (MO) * John Boozman (AR, For real, there’s a Senator called BOOZMAN?) * Mike Braun (IN) * Richard Burr (NC) * Shelley Capito (WV) * Bill Cassidy (LA) * Susan Collins (ME) * John Cornyn (TX) * Tom Cotton (AR) * Kevin Cramer (ND) * Mike Crapo (ID) * Ted Cruz TX) * Steve Daines (MT) * Mike Enzi (WY) * Joni Ernst (IA) * Deb Fischer (NE) * Cory Gardner * Lindsey Graham * Charles Grassley * John Hawley * John Hoeven * Cindy Hyde-Smith * Jim Inhofe * Ron Johnson * John Kennedy * James Lankford * Mike Lee * Kelly Loefler * Mitch McConnell * Martha McSally * Jerry Moran * Lisa Murkowski * Rand Paul * David Perdue * Rob Portman * James Risch * Pat Roberts * Mike Rounds * Marco Rubio * Rick Scott * Tim Scott * Richard Shelby * Dan Sullivan * John Thune * Thomas Tillis * Patrick Toomey * Roger Wicker * Tod Young

Movement on the 2020 Reading List

Just finished Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory, by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, and it was glorious.

Now reading The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison.

Self’s next two books are I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith, and Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh. She found a review in The Economist about great houses in fiction, and those two books came up in the course of. She thinks she read Brideshead Revisited, but so  long ago that all she remembers is a British mini-series of the same name, with an actor with the improbable name of Anthony Andrews playing Sebastian.

Monday is off to an excellent start.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Raphael Bob-Waksberg: Your Pain Is My Pain

The short story self is reading today is Lunch With the Person Who Dumped You.

At the rate self is going, she’ll never finish Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s collection, never! Which is a pity, as she’s got two meaty fantasy reads lined up to read next: Philip Pullman’s The Secret Commonwealth, and Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor (which was recommended to her by her seatmate on a recent flight to London: a Stanford grad on his way to deliver a paper at a conference in Glasgow)

An excerpt from Bob-Waksberg’s story:

Remember, the one who laughs last laughs longest, so make sure you laugh last and when you do you laugh heartily but with a detached air of none-of-this-really-matters-I-haven’t-been-lying-awake-at-night-staring-at-the-ceiling-regurgitating-all-this-pain coolness.

Which is an attitude that really helps, especially today. Given what’s just gone down in the Senate.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Five Best Heroes Self Encountered in 2019 (All Fictional)

Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit

Frank Guidry, November Road

Henry Tilney, Northanger Abbey

Niall Delaney, The Parasites

Sunny, Record of a Spaceborn Few

Quite a range of heroes, from a thriller, a romantic comedy, a du Maurier (who is in a class all her own), a fantasy, and a work of science fiction. Three of the five books that gave self her favorite heroes of 2019 were written by women.

Though self ended 2019 far below her Goodreads Reading Challenge goal, she is setting an even higher goal for 2020. Would you believe it if self told you that she used to be able to read 60 books a year?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Five Best Heroines Self Encountered in 2019: One Real, Four Fictional (Stay Tuned for Part 2: Heroes)

Anne Glenconner, Lady in Waiting, My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown (memoir)

Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey (novel)

Cora Seaborne, The Essex Serpent (novel)

Nora Gerraoui, The Other Americans (novel)

Rita Sunday, Once Upon a River (novel)

All of self’s favorite heroines were in books written by women. Coincidence?

Self-Regard

Since finishing The Hobbit, a week and a half ago, self has read two books by women: The Haunting of the Mexican Border, by Kathryn Ferguson (University of New Mexico Press, 2015) and Trick Mirror, by Jia Tolentino (Random House, 2019).

Ferguson undertakes an exploration of the southern border, with a vague hope of making a documentary: she doesn’t have funds, doesn’t know anyone, but stumbles around, talking to whoever will talk to her. And she IS lucky: nothing bad happens to her.

Jia Tolentino is lucky. The daughter of Philippine parents who became Canadian citizens, she is smart as a whip, in-your-face, and funny. Her style is to sit back and analyze everything that happens to her, and everything she does.

In Essay # 2 of Trick Mirror, she recounts her time as a reality TV contestant (She was 16. Never one to miss an advantage, she packs a lot of pocket-sized mini-skirts. Points!). After analyzing her fellow castmates (one was “a sweet guy,” another was “the all-American girl,” still another was “the wacko,” etc.), she asks her castmates what they thought she’d been cast as:

Though I’m sure they would’ve answered differently if someone else had been asking, my castmates guessed I was the smart one, or the sweet one, or the “fun Southern one,” or the prude.

(It is amazing that someone would ever think she’d been cast as “the prude,” given the pocket-sized minis!)

But then she writes, disarmingly, that reality TV “is a narcissist’s fantasy come true . . . everyone likes to have an audience. Everyone thinks they deserve one.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge 77: 2019 FAVORITES

Great theme!

In 2019, self traveled the world. Her life triangulated between home in Redwood City, California, to England and Ireland, to the Philippines. Side trip to Prague with her niece, Irene!

Here goes, all the images that mattered most to self in 2019, arranged from most recent — December 2019 — to the earliest, January 2019: Starting with her home in Redwood City in early December; to London’s Blackfriar station; to Manggapuri Villa in Don Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental, Philippines; to Prague; to Oxford University’s Exam School for Alice Oswald’s first reading as Oxford’s first woman Poet in Residence; to Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park; to the Main House of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig; to the fire pit in Manggapuri Villas; to the Daku Balay in Bacolod City, the Philippines; to self’s bedroom; to the Blue Room in Café Paradiso in Cork, Ireland; to Fowey in Cornwall; to Courthouse Square, Redwood City; to the cover of last winter’s issue of Prairie Schooner, which included her story Things She Can Take

Stay tuned.

About the Little Women Movie

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  • The casting was so on point! Though self was initially skeptical, she eventually fell in love with Timothée Chalamet as perpetually lost rich boy Laurie. A scene towards the end, with the youngest sister, Amy, was one of the best in the movie.
  • Amy was always her favorite sister. Why? Who knows. Was it the fact that she always felt left out, that she had artistic ambitions, that no one ever seemed to take her seriously? The actress who plays her has a doll-like appearance BUT (and this is a good thing) a surprisingly deep voice. Also, she has a sharp practicality. Kudos to the screenplay for highlighting this aspect of her character.
  • Loved Laura Dern as Marmee, who has to utter the film’s treacliest lines, but who always brings a dash of spice to her delivery. Even when she says, Girls, we are offering up our Christmas breakfast to a needy family who has nothing, self never thought of saying, You cannot be serious! Dern just brings it.
  • Also loved the merging of timelines — Self has read the book many, many times (at least 10 times) so she was waiting for particular scenes. All the scenes she loved most were in the movie. And she did not think this merging of timelines made the film in the least bit choppy. In fact, everything seemed to work better this way.

Self’s only quibble was that Beth the consumptive did not look consumptive, her face was too round.

But the cinematography, the framing of shots, the way the camera would linger on the actors’ faces and then pull back, all the wide angle shots of houses and fields — lovely.

Details of absolutely no importance: Saoirse Ronan has the longest, slenderest fingers self has ever seen. Timothée Chalamet has the longest eyelashes. The actor who plays John Brooke is gorgeous. Emma Watson looked a little mouse-y (perhaps it was the hair color?). A short clip where Laurie does an exuberant dance (while out on a porch with Jo) looked very 2000-modern and was the only jarring thing in the entire movie.

Self never felt the slightest temptation to nod off (which is happening to her more often, even while she is watching the best movies)

Overall: an enthusiastic 5 stars!

Stay tuned.

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