Northern California News

The news is all about sinkholes and rain. About escaped convicts and sinkholes and rain and the Superbowl.


She went to downtown Palo Alto to see Anomalisa, which was showing in the Aquarius. It took two grown-ups 20 minutes to sort out who got what at Gelato Classico.

Monster truck parked right next to self in downtown Palo Alto and literally she could not get into the drivers seat. Who does that?

She’s so fed up now, she will never go to downtown Palo Alto.

Not to mention, the Aquarius has morphed into a high-end luxe theatre where the bargain matinee is $9.50 (Discounted from $12.50)

Self’s friend Emily recommended the movie she saw today: Anomalisa. She was fascinated by the cinematography and the screenplay. By how on point it is about all the random, meaningless conversations that make up our lives. Our lives!

We are going to die and all our lives are made up of random misconnections.


Self doesn’t recall ever seeing a hook-up as raw before. It’s between a paunchy middle-aged man and a disfigured young woman in an anonymous hotel in Cincinnati and they achieve surprising intimacy in their dialogue, which then makes what follows seem really sweet. Then the next morning, OMG, the middle-aged man is annoyed by the way in which the young woman eats her omelet.

Unfortunately, she’s not sure if she missed some moments in the very beginning, because the Aquarius usher told her she had only missed the previews but when she walked into the theatre, the plane was landing in Cincinnati — she must have missed the opening credits. She briefly considered going outside and complaining. But since this is California she advised herself to let it go.

And then she walked outside after the movie and saw the monster truck (with rear bumper stickers saying something about never complaining about “Bitch” drivers) had given her six inches of room to squeeze into her seat. Honestly, she couldn’t do it. And if anyone has laid eyes on self in person, they would know she is quite petite. If self could not squeeze into her drivers seat in the space allotted between her and monster truck, then no one, absolutely no one, could have squeezed into that drivers seat.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


A Snippet for Alan Rickman

Alan Rickman, RIP.

So shocked, self can’t even.

Who can forget Alan (She has seen very few articles about him that refer to him as “Rickman.” A lot of them do just call him Alan) in Die Hard, or as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies?

She wonders what London was like, after his passing was announced?

Last week, she found this from something she posted in February, 2012: a quote from John Lahr, The New Yorker theatre critic:

Alan Rickman is the go-to actor for supercilious.

Self knows that is not much of a quote. Nevertheless, it is true.

Oh, how self wishes she were in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at this very moment; her unit had a hardbound copy of the Oxford English Dictionary. From the first day of her residency to the last, self kept the dictionary on her writing desk, open to the page with the word “circumnavigation.”

If she were in her unit in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, she would be able to look up supercilious in a couple of seconds.

Instead, she has to settle for Merriam-Webster:

  • Supercilious: having or showing the proud and unpleasant attitude of people who think that they are better or more important than other people.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.




“The Revenant” in Fort Bragg

Self has a particular fondness for Coast Cinema, a small, box-like multi-plex (four screens!) just a few blocks from the ocean in Fort Bragg. She is such a movie buff that she gets withdrawal symptoms if she can’t watch at least one movie a week, and  Mendocino itself doesn’t have a single movie theater.

She ended up seeing some really bad ones in Fort Bragg last year, including an awful science fiction movie starring Tatum Channing and Mila Kunis called “Jupiter Ascending” (One line she remembers from the movie is about how bees can spot royalty: they swarmed around Mila Kunis who was a housecleaner. Ergo, she was the next Queen or something to that effect. Channing sported frosted gold tips and elf ears, not his best look. Eddie Redmayne was in this movie as well, in full-on camp mode).

She saw “Kingsman” there, and that experience was memorable not only because it had a manic scene in which Colin Firth, in a dapper suit, takes out a whole church of Ku Klux Klansmen armed only with a tightly furled brolly. The audience cheered, actually cheered, while he was doing it. That’s how self knew she was sitting in an audience made up of dyed-in-the-wool maverick liberals — only they could be so vocal and enthusiastic about violence inflicted on Ku Klux Klansmen.

Anyhoo, “The Revenant.” Self knew nothing about it except that it starred Leo. And that he won a Golden Globe last night. So, she decided to see it today. And lo and behold, the audience had many Asian people, arriving in big groups in vans and SUVs. One group consisted of 18 people. She knows because the Asian man ahead of her bought 18 tickets. Is there some kind of Leo fixation in Asia, she wonders?

Self happened to be seated next to an Asian couple, and the female spent almost the entire movie practically in her mate’s lap, cowering and trembling and sighing and gasping and self wanted to tell her, Even if I was thoroughly repulsed by the sight of arrows as thick as hollow blocks entering and exiting someone’s head in close-up, you would never find me cowering to such a degree. It’s not even adorable. Not in the slightest.

Self is here to say, though, congratulations Alejandro Iñarritu! First of all, self likes this director. She was absolutely shattered, watching the movie he directed in which Naomi Watts plays a woman who cannot bear children because she has a rare medical condition that might kill her in the process of growing a child in her belly. Of course, Watts’ character decides to have a baby anyway. Self has never cried so hard in a movie theatre before.

Second, self is quite inured to violence, and likes all kinds of mind-blowing on-screen mayhem, like the kind in the Indonesian movie “The Raid: Redemption.” But this movie caused her to stop dipping her fingers into her hot, buttered popcorn. The violence was just that intense.

Ever seen a nekkid body covered in blood being dragged through a forest floor covered with branches, stones and what not? Want to see that scene in close-up? Watch this movie.

Ever wonder what it’s like to be attacked by a 300-lb. grizzly and have it step on your head while it munches on your abdominals? Watch this movie.

Ever wonder what a freshly-scalped head looks like, in close-up? Watch this movie.

Ever wonder what a person’s back looks like when it’s carved up by bear claws? Watch this movie.

Ever wonder how to get through a blizzard? Just cut open your horse’s belly, remove all its entrails, then snuggle inside. You’re welcome.

Also, Good Lord, was that Tom Hardy playing the most horrible, contemptible Bad Guy ever? Since self didn’t bother reading up on anything about this movie, it wasn’t until 3/4 of the way through that she finally realized who that magnetic Bad Guy was. Holy Cow, did he act the hell out of his role.

Also, the young boy in “We Are the Millers”, the Jen Aniston/Jason Sudeikis/ Emma Roberts comedy a few years back, the boy who gets bitten by a spider and whose privates balloon — he was in this movie. (And he was good!)

Also, the redhead in Harry Potter, who self has also seen in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was in this movie, and he was pretty good.


Finally, self would just like to say, she loves mournful Westerns. There’s something so Kurosawa, so Nanook-of-the-North about them. Probably the last mournful Western she’s seen was “Ravenous,” the Vampire movie starring Robert Carlyle and Guy Pierce, that appeared in her local cine-plex for two days and then disappeared without a trace. But boy, it does have a new entry here. And Leo is so perfect for this role, just so perfect. Because even though we know it’s Leo, and he usually dies (Exhibit A: “Titanic”. Exhibit B: “The Departed”. Exhibit C: “Blood Diamond” etc etc), his dying here seems so random and so undeserved. She kept trying to imagine Matt Damon in the role (talk about another natural actor), and although it was a very close call, in the end self had to concede that he probably wouldn’t have wrenched at our heartstrings the way Leo does.

Great movie.


More Weight(less)

Self is not sure she’s fully getting this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge, but anyhoo.

For this post, she will focus on things that have “an air of weightlessness.” Here’s a picture of three lamps hanging over a dining table in a friend’s apartment:


Weightless: Hanging Lamps

Next, Jennifer Lawrence’s costume for Hunger Games: Catching Fire:


A Wedding Dress for the Mockingjay

Finally, waterfowl, St. Stephens Green, Dublin:


St. Stephens Green, Dublin, Summer 2015

Glass and feathers, both project a feeling of lightness and weightlessness.

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.

Now 3: December 2015

This one’s a no-brainer: Showing now at your local movie theater:


Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Also, Christmas trees in all the restaurants, including this one in La Traviata on the Mission. The walls are lined with pictures of famous opera singers. The menu features “Pollo ala Beverly Sills.”


La Traviata, Mission Street, San Francisco

And, one more holiday pic: from the Columbus Circle side of the Trump Center in Manhattan:


The Trump Center, New York, December 2015


Great Days

After a long year of almost no time to watch movies, self saw three in less than a week: Star Wars (love Rey!), Sisters, and Spotlight (Is the latest trend movie titles beginning with “S”? Is that someone’s idea of practicing good feng-shui or whatever? Good-bye 2015! What a year you’ve been!). As to the latter film, she loved Mark Ruffalo’s performance. Come to think of it, there is not one single Mark Ruffalo performance that self does not love.

Tomorrow, hopefully, J-Law in Joy.

Hits on self’s latest fic topped 1,000 today. It is a great, great day.

Dutch Warlord posted a new installment of her Battlestar Galactica/Hunger Games mash-up: “Four days after the destruction of the Twelve Colonies of Panem, Commander Haymitch and all that is left of humanity must avoid their Mutt pursuers, who ambush them thirty-three minutes after every successful jump.”

Story begins: “He hated clocks, always had.”

Oh, self loves Dutch Warlord. It only takes self a few minutes to figure out that the point of view is Peeta’s: “The real question was thirty-three. Why did they come every thirty-three minutes? Why not thirty-four, or fifty-four?”

“Why is it always thirty-three minutes,” he murmured.

“Your transmitter’s on, Baker,” someone growled and Peeta cringed.

(Baker as Peeta’s call sign! This post would not have room enough for all the emojis self wants to drop at this moment.)

Stay tuned.


“Listen, boys, I’ve had a rather emotional day.” — Colin Firth to a gang of street thugs in a bar, in the movie “Kingsman.” Self saw it almost a year ago, in Fort Bragg of all places.

Firth’s character again: “Manners. Maketh. The. Man. You know what that means. No? Then let me teach you a lesson.”

*     *     *     *

Self found out yesterday that mop-headed cutie Ben Whishaw, who plays Q in the Daniel Craig Bond movies, and who is currently in “In the Heart of the Sea” (along with Cillian Murphy and — oh yes, Chris Hemsworth) is 35.

Holy smokes!

What is with these British actors looking like babies well into their 30s? Hollywood should try and guess their secret.

Stay tuned.

Story # 8 in Gaitskill’s BAD BEHAVIOR

“Secretary” was over surprisingly quickly!

All self has to say is: the movie took a slight story (one of the slightest Gaitskill stories self has ever read) and made of it a fully realized film.

Who directed the movie? Must find out! He/She deserves kudos!

Self hardly feels anything for the character on the page, but in the movie, her heart went out immediately to Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character. Rent it on Netflix, if you haven’t already seen it!

Now to Story # 8 in Bad Behavior:

She remembered something he had said to her sometime before: “Don’t worry, Connie. In fifteen years, I’ll be doing my retrospective at the Whitney and you’ll be publishing regularly in The New Yorker.” He paused. “But by then we’ll be ugly.”


To close, another picture self took yesterday, while walking the High Line:


There is a Museum of . . . Sex? Self learns something new every day!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.



Advice For Writers: Story # 6 of BAD BEHAVIOR

If you really want to be a writer, then don’t move to New York. You’ll just wind up in some dank little dump in the East Village with bars on the windows, and oh, I don’t know.


She had to admit that a large part of the reason she was even trying to get a job was for the approval of people she’d known in Illinois, many of whom were living in New York and thought of her as a hopeless neurotic . . .

— “Trying to Be,” Story # 6 in Bad Behavior

It’s after Story # 6 that self decides she will leave the collection. Because Story # 7 is “Secretary,” which was made into an excellent movie about self-mutilation (The main character was played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, a casting choice that was sheer genius) and how much Maggie’s character wants to be whipped by her boss, played by James Spader.

And self doesn’t believe for one moment that there exists in the universe a woman who secretly wants to be whipped by her boss. Of course, this is fiction, and Gaitskill does have a point she wants to make.


Why has this trope proven to be so enduring? Fifty Shades of Grey, hello!

This evening, self went to Barnes & Noble on 86th and had just mentioned to the woman at the Info desk that she was looking for The Strain when the woman said: “Science fiction. Shelved by title. Look under del Toro.” Impressive!

It’s exactly the same type of reaction self got when she was in Hodges & Figgis in Dublin. She barely even had time to say The Bane Chronicles when the saleswoman said, “YA. Look under Cassandra Clare.”

Stay tuned.


« Older entries


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,391 other followers