Details 4: Surprises Reward Close Observation

For this week’s challenge, try to look past the big picture and take a more intimate approach . . . zoom in on details in unexpected places.

— Jen H., The Daily Post

Today:

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Interesting Adornments for a Mercedes Benz!

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At the 2015 AWP Conference in Minneapolis, The Loft had a kind of raffle: You wrote the name of your favorite book and dropped it into a big tumbler. Then you picked out a card to see a book someone else had recommended. Self wrote: Suzanne Collins’ THE HUNGER GAMES Trilogy. The card she picked out had this book recommendation.

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Just in time for the upcoming U.S.Presidential Elections, a book with a very rad picture of Hillary, doing a kind of Dirty Harry pose. ROFL!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Look Up 5: Nando’s Flame-Grilled Chicken, Calgary

Really love The Daily Post Photo Challenge this week: LOOK UP.

It’s all about “taking a moment to check out what’s above you.”

Last night, self’s cousins took her to a restaurant called Nando’s, in NE Calgary. It’s famous for its chicken inasal (barbecue). And she has to say: this is the best chicken inasal she’s ever tasted outside of Bacolod City in Negros Occidental, Dear Departed Dad’s hometown.

The owner is, interestingly enough, not Filipino. She thinks her cousins said the owner is from Australia.

One wall is entirely covered with little squares, each one telling a kind of story. She wouldn’t have bothered focusing on the squares if she hadn’t been thinking of LOOK UP:

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Nando’s, in Northeast Calgary: Barbecue Chicken Almost as Good as Bacolod’s Inasal.

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Those tiles do tell a fascinating story. Wouldn’t you agree, dear blog readers?

Stay tuned.

Look Up 4: Still More From the Calgary Stampede

None of these pictures would have been taken if self hadn’t been telling herself to aim her viewfinder UP:

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

When Your Favorite Fanfiction Author Updates After 21 Months

Seriously: WHAT READER waits 21 months for the next chapter of a Work-in-Progress?

A fan fiction reader, that’s who.

What author wouldn’t kill for that kind of control?

All right, so J. K. Rowling has millions of fans and her novels get 100,000 reviews on Amazon.com. But she has to work awfully hard, write full-length novels, blah blah blah. The author who updated yesterday has only two works on-line.  Each probably less than 200 pages. And the chapters are about 10 pages long.

Yesterday, when self saw that one of her favorite stories had updated, it was like:

CHRISTMAS IN JULY

Self stared at the screen, blinking. Was she dreaming? She opened the chapter.

Beautiful amazing everything!

Her theory about fan fiction is: it’s not just the appeal of creating new stories for characters one knows and loves. Fan fiction is all about serialization.

Some authors update on a regular basis: once a week, every Wednesday or Tuesday or Saturday. The readers hang around, fingers poised over the link button, on that designated day of the week.

Others post complete work (One-shots or Drabbles: a term self finally figured out means roughly the same thing as Flash Fiction) and then take it down.

But, talk about building a brand! There are names that have such a reputation that they can keep followers — even if all they do is drop one chapter oh, say, every 21 months or so.

It is simply tragic to get hooked on an incomplete story, but they do abound. There’s nothing worse than saying good-bye on a cliff-y. One website warns readers like so:

INCOMPLETE, LAST UPDATE 2013, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK

No matter what else happens this week, self already knows: it’s going to be a great week. Heck, it’s going to be a great year.

Life goes on, the author is still alive (amazing, everyone’s anonymous on fan fiction, and no one talks about RL — real life), the story is still alive, self is still alive, the world is still alive, and —

Holy Cow! It’s the Fourth of July! Yippeeeeee!

Last year, Fourth of July, self was else. England, probably.

Today, she got stuck in Redwood City downtown, because she saw a movie and when she came out, barricades for the annual parade had been set up — all around her car.

“There was a sign,” a woman told self. She was one of those setting up a booth. “You just didn’t bother to read them.”

Rude! She drove around in circles. Thought she’d end up sleeping in Courthouse Square, in her car. Come to think of it, that would probably make a really really good story. Something like Night at the Museum, only Night In Redwood City, Courthouse Square, Behind a Barricade. Some security person eventually took pity on self (but not before making self squirm for half an hour) and moved a barricade.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Everlark Thursday

Twenty years after the demise of President Snow, Peeta starts having nightmares about the Games again. He’s re-called to the Capitol so Dr. Aurelius can help him figure out why. Turns out there is a mysterious Katniss look-alike named Melania who haunts his dreams . . . and who also happens to be on-staff in the hospital where Peeta is currently being treated.

Coincidence? Or evidence of a nefarious conspiracy? Self’s feeling is —

No! Peeta! Stop! Eeeeeeeeek! Go back to 12, pronto!

(To be continued)

Adjusting the Reading List

The Girl On the Train was a very satisfying read! She will keep her eye out for Paula Hawkins’s next book. She hopes that, someday, there will be a sequel to The Girl On the Train.

In the meantime, self got a few pages into Savage Park: A Meditation on Play, Space, and Risk etc. and was quite surprised to find that it is mostly about a playground in Japan, one the author encountered when she accepted the invitation of a friend to visit her in Tokyo. Self doesn’t know what she was expecting, but she knows it wasn’t a meditation on a children’s playground, not with a title like Savage Park.

Since she is still so keyed up after finishing The Girl On the Train, she decides she’s in the thriller-reading mode, so she opts to put aside Savage Park and go for the next book on her reading list: Girl Waits With Gun, by Amy Stewart.

The next book after Girl Waits With Gun: The Green Road, by Anne Enright. And after that, a book called Lonely in the City: Adventures in the Art of Living Alone. And after that, a couple of travel books, starting with The Narrow Road to the Deep North: Travel Sketches, by Matsuo Basho. Will I be able to finish more by the end of summer? Hope so.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Partners 2: Summer 2016

Share an image of partners. A pair, a trio, a sextet; people, buildings, plants — whatever you choose to shoot, give us subjects that are in tune with one another.

— Michelle W., The Daily Post

Life is full of little pleasures. And for self’s second post on The Daily Post theme this week, PARTNERS, self decided to focus on three of her favorites: summer; prosciutto; and Chez Mamie in London!

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Summer and Vintage Cars go together like white on rice!

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Prosciutto and Melon: Another Great Summer Pairing

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Mother & Daughter at Self’s Little Piece of Home in London, Chez Mamie! They make their own jam, which are those little bottles in the foreground. Self goes ga-ga over their salads.

P.S. Self saw Independence Day: Resurgence today, and it was pretty good! She was pleasantly surprised at Liam Hemsworth, too. He seemed much looser than he ever was in The Hunger Games movies. So, a good popcorn movie, most definitely.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN: Train of Thought

Self wants it to NOT be Rachel.

Because Rachel evokes so many feelz in self.

And Rachel’s point of view is the one we’re inside of, mostly.

Somewhere near the halfway point of Girl on the Train, self reads an Anna point of view. Self is usually impatient with multiple point of view narratives: she thinks the switching around is really just a lame excuse for the author not to come up with a tight plot. Like the switch is nothing more than an extended tease. But self really relishes the point-of-view switches in Girl on the Train. The novel presents us with a great puzzle and a great unreliable narrator and the only way the reader can figure out what’s really going down is to hear from all the characters.

Anna (Tom’s current wife) describes seeing Rachel. It’s a scene that we’ve seen earlier, narrated from Rachel’s point of view. All along, self has thought of Rachel as a well-meaning, deluded drunk. Just your typical messed-up anti-heroine. Self absolutely loathes Tom. His diatribes, his abandonment of Rachel. Of course, we aren’t that sympathetic with Anna, Tom’s current wife.

Then, suddenly, we’re inside Anna’s head, Anna watching Rachel. And it is a little un-nerving to read Rachel as giving a sort of sneer at Anna. The sneer of a woman who is absolutely in control of her actions, if not of her emotions. Could Rachel be pulling a fast one on the reader? (And how on earth is Emily Blunt going to play this character, Emily Blunt who is so immensely likeable even when bitchy, as she was in The Devil Wears Prada?)

What’s really interesting is that, despite the fact that Anna is the Other Woman, and of course we would not expect her to have a sympathetic view of Rachel, when she describes sneering Rachel, it makes the reader question her liking of Rachel, instead of making us dislike Anna more.

Why does this happen?

Each switch in point of view is a surprise. In other words, the patterns are unpredictable: we don’t have a uniform order for the switching. It’s not Anna, followed by Rachel, followed by Megan, then back to Anna, followed by Rachel, followed by Megan etc etc

But each switch does carry the story forward. And readers find themselves becoming detectives, constantly testing new theories of who did what.

And such is self’s curiosity that she sometimes cannot wait to resume reading, she grabs the book (which is always in her tote) even if it only means reading a few paragraphs more.

She thinks her seatmate on the plane who much preferred Daniel Silva to Paula Hawkins was so, so wrong.

The Girl on the Train resembles The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, another mystery that asks: Who did it?

The central character has some flaw that makes it difficult for her/him to be taken seriously. In TCIOTDITN, it’s the narrator’s Aspergers. Here, it’s the fact that Rachel is alcoholic and depressed and given to mood swings. Yet, they doggedly persist in their “investigations.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Against All Odds: Really Enjoying THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

Self thinks she read somewhere that Emily Blunt is starring in the movie.

And self adores Emily Blunt.

Self has taken a peek at the end; the reviews say there’s a surprise ending. And she can’t take the suspense of spending one or two weeks with a book, identifying with this or that character, and then being blind-sided. She just can’t.

Anyhoo, there’s a missing woman. And the other woman, the one who’s been watching her on the train, has fabricated quite a story for her. Now that the woman’s life is news, the woman who made up stories can finally find out how close to the mark she was:

Megan has no family in the area. Both her parents are deceased.

Megan is unemployed. She used to run a small art gallery in Whitney, but it closed down in April last year (I knew Megan would be arty).

Scott is a self-employed IT consultant (I can’t bloody believe Scott is an IT consultant)

The story reminds self a little of the first-person piece she read in The Guardian, some years back: Sarah Hepola and her alcoholic blackouts. Self has seen drunk people, many times. But it somehow feels more raw in England. Her last experience with full-on drunkenness was riding back to London on a train from Cambridge, on a Saturday night. And holy cow, it wasn’t just the drunkenness, there was weed smoking and general loudness and belligerence. And self sat miserably in her seat for two hours and wondered why the conductor never came by to ask for tickets. (Stupid: why would a conductor put himself/herself through that on a Saturday night, on a train full of drunk people?)

After she got off the train, her nerves were rather frayed. She decided to take a cab instead of the underground. She said a little about the train to the cabbie and he shrugged: “Young people,” the cabbie said. “Saturday night.”

Anyhoo, one of the women in The Girl On the Train is an alcoholic. The kind of alcoholic who comes home with bumps on her head and bruises on her thighs and no memory of what happened (“I feel excited. I feel afraid.”)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Vintage: Sylvain Landry Week 49

Self is tickled by the theme of this week’s Sylvain Landry Week 49 Challenge: VINTAGE.

She isn’t quite sure whether the photo she pulled out of her archive is “vintage.” It’s kitsch, for sure: animé figures, culled from Fort Bragg garage sales. She was completely charmed by the aesthetic of this apartment, which belongs to a lawyer who commutes between Miami and Fort Bragg.

It is definitely an idiosyncratic kind of collection, one built up by looking with focus.

Thanks to Sylvain Landry for always coming up with such interesting prompts. She adored this picture, but didn’t get a chance to share it with readers until now.

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An Animé Collection in Fort Bragg, California

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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