Favorite Place 3: A Book

Self added Utopia to her reading list, just today.

She figures, any book that manages to remain in continuous print for 500 years is surely worth reading.

She took this picture in another favorite place: the Philosophy section of Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino. She’s sure Thomas More would have been tickled pink to know that a young writer named China Miéville, in the 21st century, would be introducing his book by writing about how much he influenced her.


Her reading list for spring and summer goes something like this:

  • Every Philip Pullman book written in the Dark Materials universe, starting with Volume One of his new trilogy The Book of Dust: La Belle Savauge
  • Homer’s Odyssey
  • Utopia

Yes, she is forsaking the contemporary, at least for now. Apologies about the heavy concentration on male writers. She’s on a quest to find books about islands, and she’s only just started her hunt. Women writers will appear, of course they will.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Tomb Raider: Just Okay

This is not a masterpiece. It’s not, even, that much fun. Alicia Vikander’s body is rippling with muscle so that’s certainly an improvement over Angelina Jolie’s (The trouble with Jolie as Lara Croft is that she’s very top-heavy and it gets in the way. Seriously). But Dominic West, poor Dominic West, is so wasted.

Here are a few positives:

  • That ripped body of Vikander’s
  • Walton Goggins having a stellar moment in every action/fantasy movie of the past few years (He was in the final Maze Runner movie, which self would rank higher than this one)
  • There is an Asian man who is kind and also has a ripped bod (Never seen this actor before. Googled. Welcome to the world, Daniel Wu!)
  • Solving puzzles is always fun. Though self did get a little lost when people were tossing all kinds of colored crystals at Lara Croft while balancing on their toes at the edges of a room with a crumbling stone floor.

Was there music? Self can’t remember. Too bad. A score can do so much for a movie.

What was that fox race through London? She doesn’t get the point, but loved that she saw a section of Tottenham Road, which she knows intimately: Hanway Alley (where her favorite London restaurant, Chez Nous, is) is just off Tottenham. Moreover, Vikander does a great job as a biker. She has that look of determination, and looks great in capris and bike helmet.

The guy who plays spoiled brat/murder suspect ‘Silver Smile’ in TNT’s The Alienist has a bit part!

Good Lord, she would never place this on the same level as The Last of the Mohicans, even if just for comparison, which critic Matt Zoller Seitz did in his review for RogerEbert.com. The Last of the Mohicans was a masterpiece! It was directed by Michael Mann, at the height of his powers! It starred Daniel Day-Lewis, at the height of his powers. (No, let’s re-phrase that: with Daniel Day-Lewis, there is no such thing as ‘height of his powers.’ Because he is still bringing it all the time! Just watch Phantom Thread!)! It introduced Wes Studi to the world!

Every time Vikander sailed through the air, self was reminded of the Fassbender move in 300. Which he executed so well that now, every action movie has to show its heroes and heroines doing the exact same move, at least once. It’s getting to be a thing! Vikander does it so many times in Tomb Raider that she even out-Fassbenders Fassbender.

Self found Tomb Raider a by-the-numbers thriller, which is to say it was not a thrill ride.

She was so excited, though, to see a preview of John Boyega’s Star Wars movie.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

AWP 2018 Tampa: Featured Speakers

Keynote Speaker:


Among the Featured Presenters are some very familiar names:

  • Rick Barot
  • Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Marie Myung-Ok Lee
  • Claire Messud
  • Aimee Nezhukumatahil
  • Sigrid Nuñez
  • Mary Ruefle
  • Karen Tei Yamashita

She has loved George Saunders ever since Civilwarland in Bad Decline. She remembers ugly crying after reading one story, the one about the wavemaker. She has not yet read Lincoln in the Bardo but it is definitely on her list. (Which, at the rate she’s been reading these days, means she probably won’t get to it until next year. At the soonest.)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Next on the Reading List: The Romanovs, 1613 – 1918, by Simon Sebag-Montefiore

This book weighs like a brick and, since self always lugs her books around with her, she’s going to have a sore wrist in a few weeks, she just knows it.

It’s about the Romanovs but it might as well be about U.S. politics.

page xxi of the Introduction:

  • In this book, my aim is to follow the invisible, mysterious alchemy of power to answer the essential question of politics, laconically expressed by that maestro of powerplay, Lenin: kto kogo? — who controls whom?

Love the full-color plates. Michael, the first Romanov tsar, looks like a hunchbacked troll. Catherine I used to be a “promiscuous Lithuanian peasant girl.” Peter II “fell ill” on “the day of his planned marriage.” The Empress Anna forced her courtiers “to pretend to be chickens.” And so forth.

Since this is such a behemoth of a book, might take the rest of February and most of March.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.



Self has liked the other movies in this franchise. But this one — well, let her list the ways:

  • The lack of chemistry between the two leads is never more apparent.
  • Dakota Johnson’s flat, affectless voice, while perfect for the role, is really annoying once she gets everything her heart desires. And, oh wow, someone is stalking her but she’s sooo ready for flirting. And sex. And romance!
  • There is no ending.
  • What is with Christian Grey’s brother’s affair? It’s a red herring.


  • Marcia Gay Harden has a small scene.
  • clothes, Anastasia’s
  • lipstick, Anastasia’s
  • Self didn’t hate it enough to walk out.

Stay tuned.


WSJ: Saturday/Sunday, Feb. 3 – 4, 2018

Top Headline: Memo Fuels Fight on Russia Probe

Graph: Markets Shudder on Inflation Signs

Other Page 1:

  • Fed Orders Wells Fargo to Change Board
  • Ice Dancing Has a Problem: There Aren’t Enough Men
  • Nigeria Brought Back Its Girls; Now Comes the Hard Part

Such a moment we are all living in.

Stay tuned.

Frances McDormand: Force of Nature

To celebrate self’s return to the United States of America (not a single question from the Immigration Officer, though he did take his time looking over each and every page of her passport), self watched a movie: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

The movie is sometimes too precious by half (despite the prolific profanity — she can’t believe she just used onomatopeia), but the performances are top-notch.

Frances McDormand: Her facial expressions alone, that unflinching moral compass, that steely isolation. Because self is so used to Twitter, she will not finish the sentence.

Sam Rockwell made her hate and pity his character in the space of two hours #pointsSam

Peter Dinklage makes a nice, underplayed cameo. (He seems only to get more attractive with each passing year, don’t ask)

Also, more nice, understated acting from Clarke Jones.


Two pieces of amazing casting: Lucas Hedges playing Frances McDormand’s depressed son, Robbie (who actually makes you see his depression, even with just a look) and Caleb Landry Jones as Red Welby, the man who manages the billboard business. The most affecting scene in the movie, in self’s humble opinion, involved Caleb Landry Jones. Self is referring to the scene that takes place in a hospital.

That scene is actually the crux of the change in Sam Rockwell’s character, and therefore the crux of the whole movie. Anyone else but Caleb Landry Jones in that part, self thinks could not have sold it. Kudos, Caleb Landry Jones.

And of course, the face. The face of Frances McDormand. That is all.

Tomorrow, I, Tonya because self likes Margot Robbie and her ambition and determination to be everything: not just a hot Australian actress but an amazing Australian actress.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Recommended Reading: Women Writing (Comics, Nonfiction, Novellas)


Skinning the Rabbit, by Jane Eaton Hamilton (The Sun, July 2017)

The Cone of Uncertainty: Parenting on the Edge of Climate Change, by Sarah Grey (Salvage Quarterly, 28 November 2017)

On Yoga, Diversity Lite, and the Empire of American Wellness, by Namrata Poddar (CounterPunch, 3 November 2017)

The New Bad Girls of Contemporary Literature, by Myriam Gurba (Literary Hub, 1 December 2017)

Why are America’s farmers killing themselves in record numbers? by Debbie Weingarten (The Guardian, 6 December 2017)


DC New Talent Showcase 2017


In Search of Lost Butter Chicken, by Sukhada Tatke (National Geographic Traveler: India, June 2017)


Day of All Saints, by Patricia Grace King (Miami University Press, November 2017)

I Don’t Think of You (Until I Do), by Tatiana Ryckman (Future Tense Books, September 2017)



Heartfelt Thanks to These Intrepid Tweeters For a Year’s Worth of Sanity
























2018 SAG Awards Nominees: Personal Favorites

Some are very predictable to regular readers of this blog. Also, 2017 was really wonky since she didn’t get to see that many movies.

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture: Baby Driver

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role: Holly Hunter, The Big Sick

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Jeff Daniels, Godless

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series: Game of Thrones

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


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