Calvino: Reader and Other Reader Meet Cute

  • But something has changed since yesterday. Your reading is no longer solitary: you think of the Other Reader, who, at this same moment, is also opening the book; and there, the novel to be read is superimposed by a possible novel to be lived, the continuation of your story with her, or better still, the beginning of a possible story. This is how you have changed since yesterday, you who insisted you preferred a book, something solid, which lies before you, easily defined, enjoyed without risks, to a real-life experience, always elusive, discontinuous, debated.

Self knew it; she knew she shouldn’t have read forward.

SPOILER:

The Reader attacks the book with a paper knife and penetrates to the heart of the book.

lol

lol

lol

Too precious by half.

Onward!

Stay tuned.

Gary Kamiya: The “Tenderloin” District, San Francisco

  • What is remarkable about the Tenderloin is that it has remained physically unchanged for more than 80 years. It is a time capsule. The same progressive forces that have kept out ‘progress’ and inadvertently created a Museum of Depravity, have also created a Museum of the Lost City, a vanished world memorialized in the neighborhood’s extraordinary collection of residential hotels. There are hundreds of these historic SROs in the Tenderloin, the largest number in the world. The SROs are the reason that in 2008, the Uptown Tenderloin was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 24th San Francisco neighborhood to be so listed.

— Gary Kamiya, “Adventures in the Skin Trade”

On the Basis of Sex

Self didn’t expect much from this movie, the line was a surprise:

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Palo Alto Square, the day after Christmas 2018

The film is so, so good. The whole gender conflict thing is dynamic, not just “a cause.” It becomes real because of the relationship between Ginsburg and her husband. And the two leads definitely get it. They sell the male domination thing Ginsburg rails against, again and again. There is rage, but it’s never a polemic, it’s rooted in the experience of the marriage. We feel the injustice precisely because of the tenderness between Marty and Ruth.

Honestly, self doesn’t know if any other pair of actors could pull off what these two do here. It’s fine, fine work. And she did not expect it from Armie Hammer and Felicity Jones.

She thinks she finally understands the reason for Armie’s recent string of successful movies: it’s his irony. His awareness that yes, he’s good-looking, but there’s a wryness, a core affability, about him. Can you imagine someone else playing Mr. Mom? It could have been super-cheesy. She likes his willingness to not just pretend he’s an entitled white male, but to BE that entitled white male (which we all know he is, in real life, anyway: The Armand Hammer Museum in UCLA is named after his grandfather or great-grandfather), and here he is wearing an apron, feeding the baby, cooking and chopping. Droll.

Self thinks he’s going to be perfect playing that smug prick Maxim de Winter, in the re-make of Rebecca.

What a smart film On the Basis of Sex is. Self liked it better than the documentary she saw earlier this year, The Real RBG. A documentary gives us the facts. But this movie allows us to watch the relationship and see how it actually went down, in everyday life.

BTW, Sam Waterston gets only a few scenes, but each one of them is key.

Kudos, Director Mimi Leder. Self hopes this movie is nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. She hopes Felicity Jones gets nominated for her performance. Armie, too.

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Directly in front of me, lots of people: Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Stay tuned.

 

 

Kudos, p. 55: A Hamster

Whenever mice or hamsters enter a story — any story — self’s satisfaction quotient goes up 300%.

It happened in Dave Sedaris’s piece on how hard he had to try to kill a mouse (Self isn’t sure which collection contained the piece, she thinks it might have been Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim)

It happened in Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach. Self was on the fence about this novel until she got to the section where twins Ava and Zelda adopt a small clutch of baby mice. That’s when she realized the book was a gem.

It’s happening in Kudos. Oh JOY! The hamster page is 55:

The solid fact of the hamster made all the difference. She could describe them petting it and fawning over it while its imprisonment got increasingly on Linda’s nerves, and the way it solidified their bond so that Linda felt left out. What kind of love was this, that needed the love object domesticated and locked up? And if there was love being handed out, why wasn’t she getting any? It occurred to Linda that since their daughter had found a satisfactory companion in the hamster, her husband might have taken the opportunity to round that situation out by returning his attention to his wife, yet the opposite was the case: he could leave the child alone less than ever. Every time she went near the cage he would leap to his feet to join her, until Linda wondered whether he was actually jealous of the hamster and was only pretending to love it as a way of keeping hold of her.

The Economist really messed up by not mentioning the hamster passage in their review of Kudos.

Stay tuned.

Writing is Process: KUDOS, p. 54

The narrator has an interesting conversation with a fellow writer:

  • “. . . every day, when he sat down to write, he would think of an object that didn’t mean anything to him and would set himself the task of including it somewhere in that day’s work. She asked him for examples and he said that in the past few days he had chosen a lawnmower, a fancy wristwatch, a cello and a caged parrot. The cello was the only one that hadn’t worked, he said, because he had forgotten when he chose it that his parents had tried to make him learn the cello when he was a child.”

Love it.

Stay tuned.

 

KUDOS: Like DEAD LETTERS, But On Menopause

Chortling with glee, self reads:

  • “I’m stifling. It’s probably the menopause,” she said, and made quotation marks in the air with her fingers: “Ice melts as woman writer overheats . . . I’ve been on tour so long I’m starting to pass through the stages of ageing . . . My face hurts from having to smile all the time. I’ve eaten all the weird food and now this dress is the only thing I can fit into. I’ve worn it so many times it’s become like my apartment.” — Kudos, p. 46

Self loves this novel so much. If she hadn’t read Jamaica Inn first, she might have chosen this as her Favorite Novel Read In 2018.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

KUDOS: Hilarity

She talked about a reading she had done in New York with a well-known novelist. They had agreed beforehand how the reading would go, but when they got on stage the novelist announced to the audience that instead of reading they were going to sing. The audience went wild for the idea and the novelist stood up and sang.

Kudos, p. 44

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Close-Up or Macro

Self loves posting for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. It gives her a chance to post photographs from her archives that might otherwise be overlooked. Such as the close-up of her bedside lamp at The Penn Club, where she stays whenever she is in London:

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Room # 1, The Penn Club: Bedford Place, London

Or this tea-set:

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London Review Cakeshop: Bury St., London

Or this amusing pair of socks:

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Gift Shop, Ashmolean: Oxford, England

Thank you, Cee Neuner, for the prompt!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

2nd Post On Self’s Last Sunday in London

Self is madly reading all the issues of The Guardian she bought in the last week. She thinks she’s making great progress: she’s now on Friday’s Guardian (30 November).

Her attention was caught by a list of The 20 Most Influential Films.

Rather than simply copy out the entire list, self will tell you that the # 1 Most Influential Film of All Time is The Wizard of Oz (1939).

The Second Most Influential Film of All Time is Star Wars (1977).

Third is Psycho (1960).

Fourth is King Kong (1933).

Fifth is 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Citizen Kane (1941) is just # 7.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) is # 10.

Casablanca (1942) is # 11.

The Godfather (1972) is # 13.

Jaws (1975) — what a surprise! — is #14.

Dr. Strangelove (1964) is # 18.

Gone With the Wind (1939) which self was never into, is # 19.

Stay tuned.

Last Sunday in London

Self is in her room, reading a copy of The Guardian.

The trial of the “man who drove his car into a crowd of activists who  had been protesting against a white nationalist rally, leaving one woman dead and several injured,” has begun in Charlottesville, Virginia.

This morning, self returned to the Royal Academy of Art for a repeat viewing of the Oceania Exhibit.

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Royal Academy of Art: Sunday, 2 December 2018

She liked it even more, the second time around. She stayed watching the video for nearly an hour.

The little handout that accompanies the exhibit starts with:

Two-hundred and fifty years ago, in August 1768, four months before George III founded the Royal Academy of Arts, Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook left Plymouth in command of the HMS Endeavour.

She remembers reading a book by Tony Horwitz: Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before and, well, that book must have made quite an impression because it fixed Captain Cook’s voyage forever in her memory and now, 15 years later, here she is, in London, having seen the Oceania exhibit twice!

As she left the Royal Academy (still in a daze of cultural overload), she happened to notice that there was a store across the street called FORTNUM & MASON. And the display windows were so Christmas-y! She decided to check it out:

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Fortnum & Mason: Sunday, 2 December 2018

Self entered through a revolving door and promptly found herself in the middle of a mob scene the like of which she has never experienced in London. What she means: people were grabbing blue boxes of chocolates off shelves directly in front of her, and pushing them into shopping carts. Yes, dear blog readers. English people were pushing shopping carts around a store, the contents consisting entirely of chocolate. There were boxes of dark chocolate, boxes of milk chocolate, boxes of assorted chocolate, boxes of chocolate with nuts, boxes of chocolate with creamy centers — you name it.

Self decided then and there that she would not leave the store without sampling some of this delightful chocolate. A shopgirl told her to take a number. She was # 19. She then asked the shopgirl what were the most popular chocolate purchases, and the girl replied, without any hesitation: TRUFFLES. Caramel Salt.

OMGGGGGGG

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Chocolate Counter, Fortnum & Mason: Sunday, 2 December 2018

She wanted to buy a box of chocolates for son and daughter-in-law, but didn’t know what kind they liked: milk chocolate or not? And this is when self bitterly regretted that her Verizon phone does not work. Has not worked for two months. In fact, Verizon just e-mailed self that she would not be able to avail of their international services. Thank you, Verizon, FOR TELLING SELF WHAT SHE ALREADY KNOWS.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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