Admiration 3: Fort Bragg, CA

Self discovered Fort Bragg, California this year.

She stayed for a few weeks, and discovered:

  1. An excellent bakery, in the Depot Building. Just look at that sweet, blue nest confection!
  2. An excellent used bookstore called, in typical Fort Bragg self-deprecating manner, The Bookstore. The second floor had a wonderful seating area. And the day self visited, there was a hardbound copy of Cyrano de Bergerac, which she has fond memories of her Dear Departed Dad reciting to her at mealtimes (He was a frustrated actor. Played Hamlet in high school at the Ateneo)
  3. Writers, writers, writers abound in Fort Bragg. Self began reading Norma Watkins, whose beautiful memoir, The Last Resort: Taking the Mississippi Cure, was just published by University of Mississippi Press.

Admiration 2: Writers and Writers Organizations and the New Wonder Woman

“Depict something or someone you admire.”

— Krista, The Daily Post

In the last week of March and the opening days of April this year, self was in Los Angeles. First, to attend a reading of her good friend Zack Linmark at USC. His first novel, Rolling the R’s, a great, groundbreaking, kick-ass novel, turned 20, and USC celebrated that milestone by having him read with Jessica Hagedorn and Lois-Ann Yamanaka, two other groundbreakers.

Immediately following that reading was the annual AWP Conference, which is of course also accompanied by the most fabulous book fair in America. And at that book fair, self stopped briefly to chat with staffers at VIDA, a completely volunteer-run organization, which publishes statistics on how many women are published by which literary organs. And it’s eye-opening.

Finally, Wonder Woman. Just because. Watch for her movie. Emily! So proud of your daughter/director. The picture is a grainy still from the Batman vs. Superman movie, which self watched just so she could tell Emily in London: I saw Wonder Woman in costume on the big screen for the first time!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More London 2015

SPOILERS FOR THE INFERNAL DEVICES!

London, June 2015: Hunting for Blackfriars Bridge. Because Blackfriars is where Tessa and Jem, the other leg of The Infernal Devices love triangle (Self ships Wessa. Her fanfiction alias would be PeetasandHerondales, if that weren’t already taken. But anyhoo, Blackfriars) meet every year for eternity to see what’s up with each other (after Tessa married Will! Yes!).

June 19, author Cassandra Clare reminds the Shadowhunter universe that Will Herondale died on that day. KA-BOOM! Self is in her lodgings in London, having a melt-down. Wants to get to the Serpentine River, because that’s where Will took Tessa to look at ducks. But she has too many FEELZ.

Here’s a link to a tumblr author whose Shadowhunter graphic illustrations are just so on point.

Stay tuned.

Simeon Dumdum, Jr.: Haiku

Blue-Breasted Quail

by Simeon Dumdum, Jr.

The Blue-Breasted Quail
Flies from my feet and I see
That I have no shoes.

Poet Simeon Dumdum Jr. has written six books, four of which won the Philippines’ National Book Award. He works as a Regional Trial Court Judge in Cebu City.

And self has been to his house!

Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Simeon Dumdum, Jr.

“I had a bird-filled childhood.”

If I Write You This Poem, Will You Make It Fly, by Simeon Dumdum, Jr.

Simeon Dumdum, Jr. has written six books, four of which won the National Book Award given by the Manila Critics Circle. He works as a regional trial court judge in Cebu City and lives with his wife and daughter in Mohon, Talisay City, Cebu.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Thought for the Day: Live Reality Intensely

With every morning, joy reawakens within me.

— Msgr. Luigi Giussani, from Directions for the Journey to the Meaning of Reality

CANDIDE, Chapter 14: How Candide and Cacambo Were Received by the Jesuits in Paraguay

“She will get along as best she can,” said Cacambo; “women are never at a loss; God looks after them; let’s run for it.”

Battle Is Joined! The Battle Between the King of the Bulgarians and the King of the Abarians

Last night, self finished finished The Death of Ivan Ilyich and it was quite a letdown.

First of all, the hero dies.

Duh!

It’s right there in the title, self!

Since the book she read just prior was Dexter Filkins’ The Forever War, she is by now inured to all narratives on deaths and/or dying.

What self objected to was the reading of an entire Tolstoy story and finding herself not moved. Not in the slightest. And furthermore Tolstoy resorts to

SPOILER ALERT!!!

a very time-worn device: the moral redemption of the hero, introducing a startling revelation an hour before his death. Which in no way made the work more edifying or redemptive and which had self going WHAT?

Ivan Ilyich realizes he should just give his family peace. By dying quietly. And with this realization, the character’s black fear of dying dissipates (Just in time, too, as he’s going to die whether he likes it or not. And, Tolstoy crisply informs us, in an hour)

This was one of the rare book purchases self has made in the last few months, and it was not cheap. But, such is her annoyance at all the eminent critics who pronounced this one of the greatest works of all time, that she’s decided she’ll leave it behind when she flies out of Los Angeles. It will be her small contribution to the intellectual enrichment of whoever picks it up next.

She then began the next book on her reading list, Voltaire’s Candide (Self travels everywhere with at least three books in her suitcase. In case she finds herself out of reach of a decent bookstore. She’s a regular Girl Scout when it comes to being prepared)

This book is the complete opposite of Tolstoy’s. It is flat-out satire. The central character is a robust (and dim-witted) lad named Candide. He is a servant enamored with his employer’s 17-year-old daughter. The employer gets wind of the servant’s amorous intentions and of course does the right thing: he fires Candide.

Then Candide winds up encountering an army and in the worst case of mistaken identity ever, the soldiers force him to run a gauntlet, not once but twice, and finally when Candide’s back is flayed open like a gutted fish, he is pardoned by the King of the Bulgarians. And, what great good timing, the King of the Bulgarians is about to engage in war with the King of the Abarians, at which point Chapter 2 ends and Chapter 3 begins thus:

Nothing could be so beautiful, so smart, so brilliant, so well-drilled as the two armies. Trumpets, fifes, oboes, drums, cannons formed a harmony such as was never heard even in hell. First the cannons felled about six thousand men on each side; then the musketry removed from the best of worlds some nine or ten thousand scoundrels who infected its surface. The bayonet also was the sufficient reason for the death of some thousands of men. The whole might well amount to about thirty thousand souls. Candide, trembling like a philosopher, hid himself as best he could during this heroic butchery.

Well, well, well! Methinks Candide is not as dim-witted as he first appeared!

Stay tuned.

A Break From Filkins: Norma Watkins’s THE LAST RESORT

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THE LAST RESORT, by Norma Watkins: New From the University Press of Mississippi

The past two winters have been so great because she’s managed to spend them in Mendocino.

There are writers a-plenty here, and in Fort Bragg, just a few miles north.

She bought her copy of The Last Resort at Gallery Bookshop’s annual Spring Fling (when every book in the story is 15% off) and she got it signed by the author herself.

On the frontispiece is a quote from Vladimir Nabokov’s Speak, Memory:

Everything is as it should be, nothing will ever change, nobody will ever die.

The book begins in 1943. The narrator’s father, a naval officer, is leaving his family to go to war. The narrator is seven:

War had turned the clock back. We were poor again, and the Chevrolet, stuffed with boxes and suitcases, was all we had left. Two pet chickens rode in a crate in the trunk. Mother drove. Side by side in the backseat sat my sister, Mary Elizabeth, four, our nurse, Marie, and furious me.

Lovely narrative voice. And such a gripping opening scene.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quotes of the Day: THE FOREVER WAR

“I am talking directly to the kidnappers.” (Ahmad, Shiite, Baghdad freelancer. “For eating, Sir!” was his answer when Filkins asked him why he kept a flock of twenty-five sheep on the roof of his home)

“The best sources are often people of marginal repute.” (Filkins) Ahmad’s fee: $250/day

“Sir, it is very complicated.” (Ahmad)

“Not good man.” (Waleed, Filkins’s driver, referring to Ahmad)

“Jill is at the racetrack.” (Ahmad, referring to American reporter Jill Carroll, kidnapped in the middle of the day, in the middle of the street; her translator, who was with her, had been killed)

“a brunette with a streak of pink dye in her hair” (Filkins, describing Jill Carroll)

“She wasn’t there.” (CIA section chief, two nights after Filkins gave him a tip that Carroll was being held at the racetrack.)

“I was afraid now, afraid of everything I didn’t know.” (Dexter Filkins)

“My dealings with Ahmad . . . had sunk to the level of farce.” (Filkins, after he and a fellow reporter end up pooling $6,000 of their own money to pay Ahmad for information on the whereabouts of kidnapped reporter Jill Carroll)

“Your buddy is just playing you.” (CIA section chief, to Filkins)

Self promises she will finish this book sometime today, then start on Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich.

Stay tuned.

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