Thursday Doors Challenge: Downtown Palo Alto

Posting this for the Thursday Doors Challenge hosted by No Facilities. It’s a lot of fun to participate.

A few days ago, self went strolling around downtown Palo Alto. This used to be one of her favorite places to while away the time. There were two downtown movie theaters: one on Emerson, another on University Avenue. There was a gelato place, and even a smoke shop. But, sadly, the movie theaters, even the gelato place, were closed.

Stanford Theatre has been closed since March 2020. It’s supposedly owned by a Silicon Valley billionaire who loves old movies. They used to have periodic film festivals: Hitchcock films, Satyajit Ray films, Truffaut films. The price of entry: $7. Fresh popcorn: $1.

It was very disheartening to see, a few days ago, that it was STILL closed. She had to content herself with walking around the ticket area, taking a picture of the old movie posters on display.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Past Squares 5: Monet’s Garden, Giverny, May 2017

The theme of this Squares Challenge is Past Squares. For all of October, you can either choose something you’ve used in a past Squares Challenge, or create an entirely new post that is connected to the theme of “Past.”

Self has been focusing on Option 2: something that has occurred in the past, or something historical/old. She has been on so many walks down memory lane, since the start of this month.

Self has been on several memorable trips to Paris. The ones below are from May 2017.

She took a day trip to Monet’s Garden. And though she took many, many pictures of flowers, the pictures she finds the most memorable were these two pictures of a young visitor and her mother.

TBB Quote of the Day

After the hit man gets mugged in a dark alley in Denver (Denver! He kills the muggers of course. Thankfully, there are just two), existential despair:

He caught sight of himself in the other mirror, sitting naked on the bed. A small, whitish animal with a few tufts of hair. And hurt, too. As he watched, the injured face in the mirror contracted a little, seemed to clench and compress itself into a mask of despair. A sigh like a strangled squeak escaped from its throat. He said aloud to the face, “You sorry little bastard.”

The Butcher’s Boy, p. 39

Self does not know how Thomas Perry does it, but she feels empathy for this hit man — his alone-ness, his (of all things) vulnerability. The fact that he doesn’t have a name makes him more sympathetic, not less.

Stay tuned.

Cyrano de Bergerac on the Moon!

Self is on p. 38 of Moon Palace (btw, what a book. Auster’s lonely narrator is such a fabulist, especially when he opens his mouth at a party):

  • Then I began to describe Cyrano’s voyage to the moon, and someone interrupted me. Cyrano de Bergerac wasn’t real, the person said, he was a character in a play, a make-believe man. I couldn’t let this error go uncorrected, and so I made a short digression to tell them the story of Cyrano’s life. I sketched out his early days as a soldier, discussed his career as a philosopher and poet, and then dwelled at some length on the various hardships he encountered over the years: financial troubles, an agonizing bout with syphilis, his battles with the authorities over his radical views. I told them how he had finally found a protector in the Duc d’Arpajon, and then, just three years later, how he had been killed on a Paris street when a building stone fell from a rooftop and landed on his head. I paused dramatically to allow the grotesqueness and humor of this tragedy to sink in. “He was only thirty-six at the time,” I said, “and to this day no one knows if it was an accident or not.”

Moon Palace: Feelings

The narrator’s only known living relative, an uncle, decides to form a singing band when the narrator enters Columbia. He tells his nephew, So long, we’ll meet again, I’m sure of it, here are 1493 books and my suits.

So the narrator wears that suit “every day, from the beginning of the year to the end . . . I realize what a curious figure I must have cut: gaunt, disheveled, intense, a young man clearly out of step with the rest of the world.”

(He’s supposedly saved later on by someone named Kathy Wu, and if that turns out to be some stereotypical Asian female, self will immediately stop reading.)

MILD SPOILER

When his uncle dies . . . Oh you didn’t know his uncle dies? Well, his uncle dies.

When his uncle dies, he arranges the funeral, cries for four-hours straight, sleeps with a gray-eyed prostitute, then heads back to Columbia.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

TSD Sentence of the Day

Still from the Colonel Novak point of view, but delving more into his family life, or lack thereof. Self really feels for the man, especially after she reads this, which is the TSD Sentence of the Day, this last Wednesday of September 2021:

  • After he had made a great effort to attend his elder son’s wedding, Ivan, the groom, had shaken his hand and said “Thank you very much for coming, sir,” as if he was just an ordinary guest.

What the — !!!! Holy — !!!!! That’s exactly what son said to self at HIS wedding! During a groom + mother dance during which even the wedding photographers disgustedly turned off their cameras because self, it turned out, was no dancer.

A Whore Addresses Adamsky

Four people are fleeing from the Czar’s secret police and one of them, Adamsky, is, for some reason, wandering around a camp by himself (Maybe because the others are sleeping?). He has lately had to forsake his livelihood (a tavern) and throw in his fortunes with Fanny, Zizev, and a drunken cantor. This intensifies his tendency towards introspection.

He stumbles across a pod of army officers and nondescript women gathered around a bonfire. They invite him to join them, and he accepts.

One of the women gets up and sits next to Adamsky. “You’re really old,” she giggles, but for some reason he is not offended. “You have wrinkles in the corners of your eyes.”

The Slaughterman’s Daughter, p. 332

Later, Adamsky will fall madly in love with this woman — in fact will crush “seven noses (leaving one man completely snoutless) and tear off twenty-one earlobes” simply to get back to her.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

This One’s a Real Winner

Quote of the Day, Last Monday of September 2021:

Dr. Yakunin administered medicines strictly in inverse proportion to their necessity. He kept chloroform from the dying and let them writhe in agony, whereas patients overcoming mild infections were given sedatives in high doses. Surprisingly, this absurd system worked because all his patients tried to show signs of recovery, to obtain prescriptions if nothing else. This spared Dr. Yakumin from having to deal with the usual charades of screams and groaning, and his clinic was consequently an oasis of tranquillity.

The Slaughterman’s Daughter, p. 258

Alas, Young Adolf

If that doesn’t just take the cake. Hitler, a very gauche bumpkin, moves to Vienna with inflated hopes. The last thing self expected to happen was to actually empathize with his frustration!

In the last post (before this one), a dim assessment of Adolf’s artistic talent was delivered by his (only) friend Gustl Kubizek, who ends up accompanying him to Vienna. Little does Kubizek know that Adolf is harboring a deep, dark secret:

Hitler still harbored the secret of his failed exam and pretended to attend the academy each day, a bizarre situation made worse by Kubizek’s easy acceptance to the Conservatoire to study music.

The Gallery of Miracles and Madness, p. 70

Could Hitler possibly have been driven mad by his rejection by the Academy of Fine Arts (Only 28 of the 113 applicants who took the entrance exam with Hitler were accepted), his disappointment exacerbated by the death of his beloved mother (and only ally) two months before? When “Hitler launched a tirade,” Kubizek “had to go into bed. He would lie there as Adolf ranted and cried and gesticulated, and if Kubizek fell asleep Hitler would shake him awake to shout at him some more.”

And then, Hitler ghosted him: Kubizek returned to his hometown after the end of term. This Kubizek must have been a very mild fellow, because when he returned to Vienna, he still expected to share the room with Hitler but “he found that Hitler had cleared out, leaving no explanation or forwarding address.”

The next section is about Hitler’s “sexual frustrations” and fear of women. At this point, self thinks Kubizek should be earnestly thankful that he is no longer rooming with Hitler although, poor man, all Kubizek feels at the moment is disappointment and abandonment.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Yes, I am Schizophrenic. I Also Make Art.

Hans Prinzhorn begins his amazing collection, gathered from inmates in mental asylums all over Germany, in the decade immediately following World War I:

Around three-quarters of Prinzhorn’s artist-patients were diagnosed with schizophrenia. The rest shared a range of conditions from “manic-depressive” to “paralytic,” “imbecile,” and “epileptic.” Though more than half of the patients living in German asylums were female, fewer than 20 percent of the works Prinzhorn received were by women, a reflection both of their status in society and of a narrow definition of art, which excluded many traditional female handicrafts. An exception to this trend was Agnes Richter’s jacket. Richter, a Dresden seamstress, had been committed in 1893 after being arrested for disturbing the piece. In the asylum at Hubertusberg, she began work on an institutional garment made of gray linen, re-stitching the arms on backward, and embroidering it all over with expressions of her plight. “I am not big,” read one; others spelled out “my jacket,” “I am,” “I have,” “I miss today,” and “you do not have to. Her asylum laundry number, 583, appeared again and again. The writing was mainly stitched to the inside, where it would have lain next to her body — an attempt to reinforce her sense of self, perhaps, in a place where that was easily lost. The jacket was Richter’s only item in the collection.

— p. 23, The Gallery of Miracles and Madness, by Charlie English

If you want to know exactly what this jacket looked like, author @CharlieEnglish1 (the author himself) tweeted a picture of it on Sept. 10.

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