Local 2: Street Art, San Francisco

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is LOCAL.


4th St., San Francisco, This Morning

Hundreds of people passed by this sign, probably. How many noticed the art?


So whimsical! A closer look at the art.

Only in San Francisco. So random. Who was the artist?

This was on 4th and King, across the street from the Safeway.


Self doesn’t know why, this made her think of Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “It is only with the heart that one can see wisely.”

Oh, San Francisco. Crazy city. Crazy people. Art is everywhere.

Stay tuned.


Curious About the Kevin Hart Movie?

And you are! You know you are!

If you can’t get there, because you’re one of the 99% of Americans who have to work in an office (as opposed to tele-commuting, where no one can see you clock in or clock out, and no one will know if you decide to break up your workday by sneaking into a local cineplex), all you have to do is go to this great movie review website, http://www.rogerebert.com, and read the (3-star) review there, by Odie Henderson.

Self must confess: this is the very first review by Henderson she’s ever read. So she cannot believe it when he writes, “. . .  I don’t have very much to tell you . . . I can’t tell you the jokes because I wouldn’t do them justice . . . My work here is done. Thank you, America! Good night and God bless!”

Mr. Henderson, if you should ever feel the need to branch out from your current line of work (movie reviewer: but why would you ever want to do that? Self would kill, KILL, for a job such as yours), she thinks you might be able to get a gig somewhere as a stand-up comedian.

Stay tuned.

The Raid on the Cabanatuan POW Camp: p. 164 of GHOST SOLDIERS

Much to the chagrin of the commander of the operations, it seemed like the American Rangers’ presence, so close to the POW camp in Cabanatuan, was an open secret to anyone within a day’s walk of the camp — no, to anyone in the entire province of Nueva Ecija.

First, more and more Filipino guerrillas kept appearing, offering their services. Next, the welcoming committee in Platero, the nearest town to the camp, arranged a veritable extravaganza:

The Americans had barely begun the approach to Platero when they were halted by the strains of singing, carried on the evening breeze:

The tune was hard to make out, at first, but then Prince caught it — “God Bless America,” the familiar stanzas rendered in thickly accented English, the melody charmingly curdled stale note. At the entrance to the town, a few dozen teenage girls dressed in white gowns were singing in sad, sweet voices. It was like a hastily arranged beauty pageant. The local school principal had gone door to door recruiting the prettiest young women from Platero and the surrounding countryside. Some of the girls shipped garlands of fresh sampaguita flowers over the Rangers heads and offered welcoming kisses.

Behind the cordon of singers, the village bustled with the sounds of cooking and preparation. The town were planning a feast. People were slaughtering their chickens and cows, building fires, stirring vats of stew. The villagers had prepared a classic Filipino fiesta, with all the gaiety and spare-no-cost lavishness, everyone brimming with a warmth that would almost seem cloying if it wasn’t so obviously sincere.

Self is convinced that everything, everything that happens in the Philippines, gets turned into melodrama at some point. Our history is full of tragi-comic events, and the one self has just finished reading is one of them. It’s the end of three years of occupation, one can say that the Filipinos were not doing too badly if they had enough food to impress the Americans.

The Filipino taste for drama shows them to be skilled comedians (and self remarks on this with a complete absence of irony, you’d better just take self’s word for it), with a comedian’s impeccable sense of timing. If the Japanese had spies in the village, they would have known for sure something was up, especially when the Filipinos de-camped and left the village a virtual ghost town. Self hoots because you know, you’re never sure what the ruse was: the welcoming committee or the fact that everyone took cover, as far from the field of action as possible.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Elevator Scenes: Black-ish

Self watched The Emmys this year. Surely anyone watching would have heard about Black-ish.

She just stumbled on it tonight. There are two scenes in tonight’s episode that were so on-point, and both of them take place in an elevator.

Elevator Scene # 1:

There’s Anthony Anderson (She’ll insert his character name here as soon as she googles) about to step into an elevator. The elevator doors part, and here is a moment: there’s a little white kid in there, all alone. The kid has blonde ringlets. She looks like Shirley Temple. Her eyes are swollen from crying.

Anthony Anderson looks at her. He just looks at her. And in that moment, self knew exactly what he was thinking: He cannot, simply cannot, be laying his hands on a white child he doesn’t know.

While he stands there completely immobilized, the elevator doors close on the weeping child.

Elevator Scene No. 2:

Anthony Anderson and two colleagues stand in an elevator. The lone woman with them in the elevator car is white. She’s on her cell. She says, into her phone: My Visa Number is: xxxx-xxxx-xxxx, not giving a hoot about anyone else in the elevator. Anderson and his friends exchange looks behind her back.

White woman goes on to say: I’m single. And I live alone. Oh, don’t worry. The security cams don’t work. That’s just for show.

And by this time, the three men in the elevator are exchanging serious freak-out looks? Cause all three are African American.

Self was so LMAO! ROFL! LOL!

So good.

Stay tuned.

The Big Picture: Slowly Coming Together

Self has spent the last eight years working intermittently on a World War II novel. She would occasionally make forays into the Hoover Archives and spend the day there, reading memoirs.

Once, she requested an item, some memorabilia an American soldier stationed in the Philippines had taken back to the States with him. She was amazed when a librarian actually came out to talk to her. “We can’t bring the box out here to the reading room. But we can let you take a look at the contents if you follow me.”

So of course she followed the librarian. And he took her a level below. And there were people in an office staring at her. And someone asked, “Is this she?” And the librarian said yes. Then they took out a box and stood back while self looked in it. And, damn. Samurai swords. What?

She was the first person ever to request that particular item, and she’d done it simply on a hunch. Because the man was an American soldier, a survivor of Bataan and Corregidor.

Self never knows where her curiosity will lead her. It sure does lead her to some interesting places.

She knows what happened on Bataan and Corregidor. Of course. She is from the Philippines. She’s been to Corregidor, looked at the American gun emplacements, seen the flag of Japan flying alongside the flag of the Philippines on the quay. She’s walked the maw of Malinta Tunnel, which is said to be haunted.

She read the transcripts of the trial of General Yamashita, responsible for the overall defense of the Philippines, who the Americans convicted of war crimes and hanged in Los Baños (Yamashita’s lawyer was a very young and inexperienced American who knew the only reason he’d been assigned the defense of the general was because he was not expected to win. At the death sentence, the lawyer cried)

But, damn. Hampton Sides. Thank you for laying it all out so vividly. In command of the Japanese Imperial Army was Lieutenant General Masaharu Homma.

Ghost Soldiers, pp. 56 – 57:

There was little point in occupying the Philippines if the Japanese Navy or merchant marine could not freely use the docks and wharves of Manila Bay, the finest natural harbor in Asia. Yet one could not control Manila Bay without controlling Corregidor. Fixed with cannons that could fire twenty miles, honeycombed with deep tunnels and lateral shafts, Corregidor was stuck like a steel bit in the mouth of Manila Bay. The island was shaped like a tadpole, its squirmy tail pointing off toward Manila, its bulbous head aimed at Bataan.

There was only one way for Homma to take Corregidor, and that was for him to move his forces into southern Bataan, array his artillery pieces high along the southern flanks of Mount Mariveles, and rain unmerciful fire down upon the island, softening it up until an amphibious assault could be reasonably undertaken.

It is an axiom of Euclidean geometry that two points cannot occupy the same space, and therein lay Homma’s problem. Before he could move his forces into southern Bataan, the surrendered Americans and Filipinos (80,000 men, approximately) would have to be moved out . . . the Bataan prisoners would have to be hastily cleared away — swept off the stage, in effect, so the next act could begin.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

American Horror Story: Evan Peters

When self was in London, this past summer, she walked all the way from Russell Square to the Odeon on Shaftesbury just to see X-Men: Apocalypse. And about halfway through, Quicksilver appeared. And then self remembered his scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past.

A week later, she was in Oxford. And her hotel was right across the street from a movie theatre. She had time to see the Bodleian but not the Ashmolean. And she even got to see X-Men: Apocalypse again. And all because of Evan Peters.

By now self knows he’s a regular on American Horror Story. But she is such a fraidy cat, she never risked watching a single episode. Until today.

What else to do on a beautiful Saturday afternoon? She decided to watch American Horror Story. She scanned, episode by episode, until she got to one called “Coven,” which she thinks was either in Season 2 or Season 3.

The opening credits were a compendium of scary sights. But self was able to endure.

TRIGGER WARNING: Some Not-So-Nice Things, i.e. Horror, Depravity, Sexual Deviation and — need self say more?

Jessica Lange appeared, all floozy and wrecked. Then Emma Roberts appeared, in trashy faux-fur and miniskirt, side-eyeing a shirtless next-door neighbor. Then Evan Peters appeared, blonde. In flannel shirt. On a bed. Next to a blonde who looked significantly older.

Then it appeared that his head had at one time been separated from his torso. Not only his head, but also his arms. Everything was still healing, but there were a lot of sutures.

Then, a younger blonde appeared, rescued Evan Peters, and returned him to his mama, an awfully decrepit-looking Mare Winningham (She had a stud on her chin. Way to go, Big Mare Mama!). Then Evan’s Mama began to kiss him on the mouth. It took some time before self realized that the writers of this show were indeed going to go there — Holy Cow! This is one crazy show! So depraved (by American TV standards, that is)! She loved it, just loved it!

Apparently, every single oddball character actress in America is in this show. Aside from the aforementioned Jessica Lange, Mare Winningham, and Emma Roberts, Kathy Bates is in it.

Characters are all kinds of deviants. Huh!

It was getting dark and self was getting major creepy vibes, so she stopped watching after just two episodes. But, kudos to the writers and producers for putting such wickedly anarchic stuff on American television. And for keeping it up for six seasons.

Stay tuned.

Visionary Art in Umm Al-Kheir

Self recognizes that she’s moving soooo slowly through The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine. But she is absolutely fascinated by its intimate glimpses of men and women, settlers and Palestinians.

In the chapter on the village of Umm al-Kheir, we meet a man named Eid Suleiman al-Hathalin. Self swears: every time she quotes from Ehrenreich’s book, she has to double-check the spelling of everything at least three times. But she really really wants to get Eid’s name right. He is a true original: a vegan in Palestine (“I love animals, but it’s not that. Meat is very heavy.”), and also a found-art sculptor.

His sculptures, gleaming and immaculate, filled five metal shelves beside the door. There were two bulldozers — one with wheels and one with treads — plus a dump truck and an excavator, all of them Caterpillars and painted a deep, glossy yellow. There was the old Black Hawk I had seen before, plus a white Volvo 420 big rig, and a green John Deere tractor hauling a trailer. Each piece was about two feet long and built to scale with an astonishing degree of perfectionism.

Eid proudly shows Ehrenreich the excavator:

He showed me how the machine’s body detached from the treads, and the cab from the body. The cab was only slightly larger than his fist. “I didn’t forget any details,” he said, “even the ladder here that the operator can use.” It had perfect little side mirrors too, and radio antennae, and its door opened on a tiny hinge and there was a seat inside for the driver, a gearshift in the floor, a tiny control panel panel complete with tiny dials. Eid had carved the chair from a bottle of shampoo and the windows from plastic soda bottles. The mirrors and lights he made from CDs and the reflective panel on the back of the machine was cut from a cast-off license plate. The whole thing was fully functional — the excavator swiveled on its treads, and its arm extended and bent at three joints.

Amazing. Simply amazing.

Eid’s dream is “to have one of his pieces added to the permanent collection of the Caterpillar museum at the corporation’s headquarters in Peoria, Illinois.”

Stay tuned.

Everlark Comments

Self began a new multi-chapter fan fic last week. (It’ll be her 9th; this is really getting out of hand but whatever).

In the last couple of chapters, readers have been more or less agreed:

  • Why does Katniss keep asking Peeta so many questions it is weird but he answers them anyway?

(It’s called: device for advancement of the plot, dah-lings!)

  • This chick has word vomit or something! (Uh-oh!)
  • Katniss has the worst foot-in-mouth tendency ever!

Self finds all these comments somewhat endearing, what the hey!

Self had no idea, none, that her Katniss she was crossing boundaries. Shows you how much she has to learn about modern-day courtship rituals.

One time, self wrote something about a boyfriend visiting his girl in her college (They were having a long-distance relationship) and he ended up spending the night in her dorm room and readers were like: What? That’s so not OKAY! (Really? Why? People did that all the time when — never mind!)

Someone else told her today: Your writing is so different than most (If you only knew, dear Everlark fan fic reader!), it’s so lyrical. My problem is: Why are your chapters so short?

(It’s called subtlety and restraint, dah-ling! Because self is quite the flash fiction writer! Oops! In fan fic, it’s not flash-fiction, it’s called a ONE-SHOT!)

Self finally decided to partner with another Everlark fan fic writer. And together, we are writing an AU to the AU that is all Everlark.

She works hard, self’s collaborator. She has written one of the 10 most-read Everlark fan fics EVER. That is according to statistics compiled by this famous xxx fan fic website. The fact that she agreed to write outtakes for self is so humbling. Not to mention, hers are triple the length of self’s. And so much more funny!

Packed with tattooed girls and bands and grunge clubs. Which of course self has no first-hand knowledge of because she is really a nun writing from a cloister on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Pray Mother Superior doesn’t find out!

Stay tuned.


A few years ago, self received a puzzling phone call from United.

“Ma’am,” the caller said when self answered the phone. “Are you xxxxxxx?”

“Yes,” self said.

“We have your Bible. It got wedged into a crevice at the baggage carousel. Can we have your address so we can mail it to you?”

Self said, “I don’t own a Bible.”

The United guy said, “But it has your name on it.”

Self was having a moment.

“But that can’t be mine.”

Even if self owned a Bible (She does recall having one), she wouldn’t bring it with her on a trip.

But the guy kept insisting it was self’s, because it had her name on it. She actually came very close to believing that she did own a Bible, that she wrote her name on the front of it, that she lost it at SFO because it got wedged in a baggage carousel . . . was she losing her mind?

She doesn’t recall receiving any sort of Bible via snail mail. If it arrived, then where is it? Because after a conversation like that, you can bet she was looking out for it.

Just a few minutes ago, she remembered this call. And an explanation finally finally occurs to her: There must have been another woman with her exact same name on a United flight that day.

Yes, that’s it. That’s the most likely explanation. The Doppelganger explanation.

Dear blog readers: What. Are. The. Odds???

So now she can say she had her very own Haruki Murakami/magical realism moment.

The other she (the doppelganger) carried the Bible around with her. Got off at SFO several years ago. Lost this Bible at the baggage carousel. So it had to have been out of her bag.

Can you imagine someone holding a Bible in her hand at a baggage carousel? First of all, don’t you need two hands to pull off your suitcase? But maybe this woman was traveling with others, so she didn’t have to worry? If that were the case, and she didn’t have to pull her luggage off the carousel, why was she just standing around with the — (Self, can you quit with the de-construction? Because this post is getting very loooong!)

It’s crisis time for the Democrats, Hillary was just diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia, which is actually much more serious than viral pneumonia, and here you are worrying about strangers losing their Bibles?

And isn’t Trump such a lucky son-of-a-gun? His whole election campaign was a high-stakes gamble. He just went for it. And now the only thing standing between him and the presidency is Hillary. And this is such a crazy scenario that self can’t even.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Steve Jobs Photograph

The greatest photographs of Steve Jobs self has ever seen are here, at the Douglas Menuez Photography Archive in Stanford.

When she visited Bletchley Park in June, the tour guide said the first computer was invented at Bletchley Park, by Alan Turing. She saw this thingamajig (really, there is no other word to describe what she saw. Unless it’s the word contraption) that looked like the inside of someone’s cabinet, only with — gear wheels? And wires? It was a codebreaking machine.

That’s funny, self thought. All along, she thought the computer was invented in Silicon Valley. By IBM.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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