That Fateful Moment When It All Comes Crashing Down: MIDDLEMARCH, p. 72

The old dotard Casaubon (HOW, self asks, how does one pronounce that simply ridiculous name?) has taken his future bride, Dorothea, to his rather meager estate (Remember Dorothea turned down a proposal from a young and attractive baronet, Sir James Chattam, in order to assert her preference for the much older and much sillier Casaubon). In the distance, they espy a figure, that of a young man lost in thought, wandering around with a sketchbook.

Dear blog readers, when a young man appears, attached to the estate of the much older man, and this older man is a silly and benighted person, who is bringing his young future bride for a first glimpse of his new home, there is only one way this can go down: Think Tennessee Williams. Faster than self can say “Desire Under the Elms,” Dorothea and her betrothed approach (What really clinches the deal is that the young man is toting around a sketchbook. Artists are crrrrazy. Crrrrazy attractive. Just ask the Bronte sisters)

Here is what transpires:

The young man had laid down his sketch-book and risen. His bushy light-brown curls (Think of Samson in the Old Testament! The appeal of the hair!), as well as his youthfulness, identified him at once . . .

“Dorothea, let me introduce to you my cousin, Mr. Ladislaw. Will, this is Miss Brooke.” (And what person can withstand a young man named Will? Certainly not self, who just this year fell in love with Will Herondale from Cassandra Clare’s Victorian Steampunk trilogy, The Infernal Devices!)

The cousin was so close now that, when he lifted his hat, Dorothea could see a pair of gray eyes rather near together, a delicate irregular nose (like Tom Hiddleston’s? The guy who plays Loki in those Thor movies?) with a little ripple in it (like Owen Wilson’s?), and hair falling backward . . . Young Ladislaw did not think it necessary to smile, as if he were charmed to this introduction to his future second cousin and her relatives, but wore rather a pouting air of discontent. (Heathcliff! Oh where art thou, Heathcliff!)

“You are an artist, I see . . . “

And self will pause here. Right here. So she can drive dear blog readers crazy with anticipation.

Stay tuned.

Treat: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is Halloween-themed!

Here are self’s ideas of TREATS:

Hot Chocolate and Peanut Butter & Jelly Square, Joaquin Torres, Broadway & 72nd

Hot Chocolate and Peanut Butter & Jelly Square, Jacques Torres Chocolates, Broadway & 72nd

Being surrounded by books: such a treat! Extraordinary. The best form of indulgence:

Borderlands, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Bookstore, Valencia Street, San Francisco

Borderlands, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Bookstore, Valencia Street, San Francisco

Finally, watching plays is such a treat. On the same level of pleasure as reading a good book.

Here’s one of her favorite venues: the Bruns Amphitheatre in Orinda, where Cal Shakes presents Shakespeare through the warm months of summer and early fall. The last play she saw here was “King Lear,” with Anthony Heald. Superb!

Bruns Amphitheatre, Orinda, California

Bruns Amphitheatre, Orinda, California

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Irish Women Playwrights/ American Film Actors

In late September, self was in Cork, Ireland. The Cork International Short Story Festival was happening. One of the featured readers was American writer Kelly Link.

Self attended Link’s reading, held in the Triskel Art Centre, a converted church.

There were many, many wonderful things that happened that night, not the least of which was meeting Kelly Link and getting a signed copy of her new collection of stories, Get In Trouble.

Self struck up a conversation with another woman who happened to be seated directly in front of her. Turned out the woman was a Dublin playwright who had come to Cork simply to attend the short story festival.

The woman and self exchanged e-mails. She made self promise never to blog/tweet about her, or reveal her name. Self gave her solemn promise.

And then she roamed the internet, looking for the woman’s plays.

She found an article by Eileen Kearney, in Colby Quarterly, Vol. 27, Issue 4. It spans the Twentieth Century up to 1991. Many new Irish women playwrights have emerged since 1991, of course, but here was a start.

And, just to show you how playwriting is very deep in Ireland’s bones, a national women’s playwright competition sponsored by The Irish Times drew 188 plays in the first year alone.

Here are the playwrights mentioned in the article (Self will never reveal which of these belongs to the woman she met in Cork last month):

Geraldine Aron * Mary Elizabeth Burke-Kennedy * Marina Carr * Anne Devlin * Mary Halpin * Anne Le Marquand Hartigan * Jennifer Johnston * Marie Jones * Harriet O’Carroll * Christina Reid * Carolyn Swift * Dolores Walshe

Dear blog readers know very well how much self loves plays. She went to Galway simply to catch Star of the Sea there. In April, she went to Minneapolis for the AWP Conference and caught a performance of Joe Dowling’s production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Just last week, self caught Cal Shakes’ King Lear, with Anthony Heald.

When she was a college student, at the Ateneo de Manila, she wrote plays, and acted in them, too.

Her love of movies is deeply connected to her love of plays, her love of theatre.

Perhaps, if self finds time, she will post about the three movies she has seen this month: The Martian, Pawn Sacrifice, and The Walk. Each of those movies features these American actors at the very top of their game: Matt Damon, Tobey Maguire, Peter Sarsgaard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Usually, come the end of the year, the Oscar contenders get trotted out by the movie studios. And usually, a number of Oscar contenders will feature British actors like Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch. Or Australian actors like Russell Crowe.

Self thinks it is wonderful that the American actors are so dominant in this fall’s movies.

But, she digresses. She has to get going. Perhaps more, later?

Stay tuned.

An Excellent Happy Place: Bruns Amphitheatre, Orinda

Because of Cal Shakes.


Right behind the stage are the Orinda hills:


Self loves the meadows of feathery, dried brown grass:


The path to the Bruns Amphitheatre is lined with posters from previous years’ productions, including the one for a memorable Romeo and Juliet with Dan Clegg playing Romeo (2013). Self was completely smitten.

That production (2013) had Juliet in floaty dress, heavy boots, and cropped leather jacket. She looked so fine.

The first Cal Shakes’ play self ever saw was another Romeo and Juliet. Romeo was played by Adam Scott.

Cal Shakes’ season starts in June and ends in October. Self associates it with all the things she loves about summer: outdoor theatre, heat, picnics.

Two years ago, when she saw Lady Windermere’s Fan, her friend brought along two bottles of wine and kept pouring until both bottles were empty. Ha! What other theatre will let you do that!

She loves listening to such chestnuts as: “The game’s afoot” (Henry V) or “Ripeness is all.” (King Lear) or “Once more unto the breach, my friends, once more.” (Henry V)

She has seen the following Shakespeare plays: The aforementioned Romeo and Juliet (2 versions); Richard II; Henry V; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; King Lear:

Poster from 2013's Romeo and Juliet

Poster from 2013’s Romeo and Juliet

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Boundaries: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is BOUNDARIES.

According to The Daily Post, BOUNDARIES are about “limits . . . whether they’re social constructs or real, physical objects.”

Self’s first example of BOUNDARIES is a map. Maps exist as delineations of boundaries. The boundaries provide essential context (This exists in relation to that, and so forth).

Below is a map of St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin’s most iconic park. The wildlife, the people, the sense of place bring her back over and over again.

A Map of St. Stephens Green, Dublin

A Map of St. Stephens Green, Dublin

Her second example of BOUNDARIES is the balcony railings around the upper tiers of the new Globe Theatre, in London’s South Bank. The balconies are pitched very steeply. In fact, without the railings, a playgoer might experience severe vertigo:


Watching “King John” at the Globe, June or July 2015

Her final example of BOUNDARIES is the bridge over Holborn Aqueduct. Self wandered down there one day last summer, looking for the Church of St. Bride’s, which she eventually found with the assistance of a London cabbie. (Self to Cabbie: “Do you know where St. Bride’s is?” Cabbie: “Yes. Hop in.” Self: “Do. You. Know. Where. It. Is.” Cabbie: “Course I know where it is! I’m a LONDON CABBIE.”)

Bridge Over Holborn Aqueduct, Near Fleet Street, London

Bridge Over Holborn Aqueduct, Near Fleet Street, London

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Joseph O’Connor’s STAR OF THE SEA, Prologue

We had chopped across a filthy-tempered Irish Sea and docked at Kingstown to take on provisions; then crept down the jagged south-east coast, making for Queenstown in the county of Cork (or ‘Cobh’ as it is known in the Gaelic language). Seeing Wicklow glide past, or Wexford or Waterford, seemed to many a bitter taunt, a poultice being ripped from a putrefying wound. A consumptive blacksmith from the town of Bunclody jumped the upperdeck rail near Forlorn Point and was last seen swimming weakly towards the shore, every last shred of his will employed to bring him back to the place where his death was certain.

Star of the Sea, by Joseph O’Connor: Prologue, page xvi

Photo Credit: Andrew de Jesus

Photo Credit: Andrew de Jesus

It’s a novel of the potato famine and the Irish immigration to America. And self saw the play of it last night in Galway.

Shattering. The woman sitting next to self couldn’t speak afterwards, she was crying so much.

Stay tuned.

I WILL NEVER OWN ENOUGH BOOKS Spreads AmazeSauce over Self’s Saturday!

Today, I Will Never Own Enough Books nominated self for the CREATIVE BLOGGER AWARD!

Epic Blush!

The rules say that self has to share five facts about herself. So here goes:

  1. Her favorite indulgence is reading Everlark fan fiction.
  2. She was a Fellow in the Stanford University Creative Writing Program.
  3. Her 2nd favorite indulgence is watching plays. The last play she saw (July 2015) was “King John” at the Globe in London.
  4. She loves riding trains.
  5. She has written a 9/11 story called “Wavering” (Published in a literary magazine now defunct, boo).

So here are self’s five nominees:

  1. TheGypsyMind16
  2. The Alchemist’s Kitchen
  3. Kick-Ass Ireland!
  4. cassandra jp
  5. Kahakai Kitchen


#fridayreads: Because It Is Impossible to Try and Quote Shakespeare in 140 Characters

Henry IV, Part One, Act One Scene Two (Self is so inspired after watching the Globe production of “King John” two days ago, with poet Joan McGavin!):

Prince Henry:  Good morrow, Ned.

Poins:  Good morrow, Sweet Hal. What says Monsieur Remorse? What says Sir John Sack-and-Sugar? Jack, how agrees the devil and thee about thy soul that thou soldest him on Good Friday last, for a cup of Madeira and a good capon’s leg?

Prince Henry:  Sir John stands to his word, the devil shall have his bargain, for he was never yet a breaker of proverbs; he will give the devil his due.

Poins:  Then art thou damned for keeping thy word with the devil.

Prince Henry:  Else he has been damned for cozening the devil.

Poins:  But my lads, my lads, tomorrow morning, by four o’clock early at Gadshill. There are pilgrims going to Canterbury with rich offerings, and traders riding to London with fat purses.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Off-Season 5: South Bank, London

OFF-SEASON is still the theme for these photographs.

OFF-SEASON is partly nostalgic. A looking back.

It’s also a phase.

Her last fulll day in London, Joan McGavin took self walking all over the South Bank. Where Shakespeare’s Globe used to be is now a modern apartment building. Signs mark the location of the old Globe, however. It’s a parking lot, around the corner from the new Globe:

The Old Globe is a Parking Lot Adjacent to a Modern Apartment Building in London's South End.

The Old Globe is a Parking Lot Adjacent to a Modern Apartment Building in London’s South End.

Signs show the layout of the old theatre complex. Self likes to muse on the contrast with the current surroundings: cars, vans, box-like buildings.

Signs show the layout and orientation of the old Globe. Self didn't know about bear-baiting.

Signs show the layout and orientation of the old Globe. Self didn’t know about bear-baiting.

Part of our perambulations involved a visit to the Tate Modern Gallery of Art. The building is huge. It dwarfs everything alongside. The building used to house the Bankside Power Station.

The main entrance is cavernous. The lower level was practically empty, except for this greatly ambiguous piece. It felt unfinished but perhaps that was the point?

An Art Installation on the Lower Level of the Tate Modern on London's South Bank. Self doesn't know what it means.

An Art Installation on the Lower Level of the Tate Modern on London’s South Bank. Self doesn’t know what it means.

It’s “Off-Season” because it is so isolated and random, occurring in the middle of what evokes a warehouse setting.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Second (Or Third) Re-Read of CLOCKWORK PRINCESS

Self had quite a busy Sunday.

She went to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Then she walked around, taking lots of pictures.

She finally, finally did a little work on her WIP, A Myriad Wildernesses.

She spoke to Joan McGavin.

She heard from Zack.

She began re-reading Clockwork Princess.

(Dear blog readers sigh)

She loves, loves, loves the angst.

Clockwork Princess opens with Tessa Gray in a gold wedding dress.

And Cicely Herondale trying to goad her brother, Will, into writing a letter to their parents, who he hasn’t seen or spoken to in five years.

Cecily:  Would you consider a wager, Will?

Cecily was both pleased and a little disappointed to see Will’s eyes spark, just the way her father’s always did when a gentleman’s bet was suggested. Men were so easy to predict.

Self likes Cecily! Got a lot of spunk, that girl does. Sort of reminds her of Arya Stark.

Let’s see, what else did self do today? She got herself a ticket to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which is showing at the Gielgud. She hopes it’s as good as the Broadway production, which just won a bunch of Tonys, including one for Alex Sharp, who plays the male lead. Well, it should be just as good, since the play originated here, in London.

On Wednesday, self is seeing King John at the Globe (Hurrah!) Self loves the Globe. And this time, she won’t be alone: Joan will be watching it with her.

Self’s first time to experience the wonder of the Globe was last year; she caught a production of Titus Andronicus (which was properly billed as “theatre without mercy”). It was brutal, it was shades of Quentin Tarantino, it had people walking out before half-time. Self nearly barfed at the chopping-off of hands scene.

While walking around today, self saw a huge sign plastering a building: Fifty Shades of Grey, now out on video. Oh my oh my oh my oh my. London is like some futuristic, anachronistic, fantastical Victorian Steampunk city.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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