First Responders, 9/11

Self was in New York just this past fall.

For some reason, she remembered an article she read in Salon, only days after 9/11. It was a first-person piece written by a student at Juilliard who, as soon as he got the news, grabbed his violin and headed downtown.

The Armory was where the injured were taken, and that’s where the music student decided to play. He played, Salon said, “the concert of his life.”

He played until his fingers bled. The weary and bedraggled survivors, the firemen, everyone listening at the Armory were in tears.

When he could no longer play, another student came and took his place.

So, in New York, this past fall, after a very determined internet search, self found the identity of the young man: William Harvey.

Did you know that self wrote her very own 9/11 story? It was very short. LitnImage published it. It was called “Wavering.”

LitnImage no longer exists. The link she posted a while back came back “broken.”

In her story, a businessman was late getting to work because his wife found out he was having an office affair and they fought.

In self’s story, the businessman arrives too late. His lover is up there in one of the towers, and he can’t get to her. And something in him dies, too. Even though he stays married. And all the wife reaps is bitterness.

Recently, Congress passed a law according medical care to the first responders of 9/11. She thinks she heard a figure like, roughly 4,000 first responders developed cancer. (If you add that figure to the number who were killed in the collapse of the towers, the number of 9/11 victims actually doubles and becomes close to 10,000)

On TV a few days ago, on a show about a medium, a wife tells the story of how her husband, a fireman, went straight to the World Trade Center and stayed there for days. When the TV show began, self was expecting to hear that the woman’s husband died during the collapse. But no. It turns out he lived for several years after, but he got cancer.

And self wondered: why did it take 14 years for Congress to pass a bill according these men medical care?

Self wrote another 9/11 piece called “The Walker.” Would you believe, the Yale Review wrote her about it? It was rejected, but just barely. She still has the story in her files. She hasn’t sent it out since.

Roughly, it’s about an insomniac who roams his neighborhood at 3 a.m., whose Filipino neighbor has a counter on his front lawn, counting the days after 9/11: Day 1, Day 2, and so forth.

So the man roams his neighborhood and is struck by the fact that the counter has been put away. It was the day after Osama bin Laden was killed.

When 9/11 happened, self was a visiting instructor at Santa Clara. When she asked the students to write about 9/11, they said “It’s such a cliché.” And six of those students went to the Department Chair and complained about her.

Seriously?

Why wouldn’t you write about 9/11? Especially since it just happened. Self was barely hanging on, it felt like such a travesty to tell the students to do craft-y exercises like construct/de-construct or do meta-fiction.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: On Trump’s No-Show in the Latest Televised Presidential Debate

It speaks volumes about the general disarray of the presidential campaign spectacle that it has now reached its highest pitch over the prospect of Donald Trump remaining silent over the course of a televised debate (OK, technically Trump intends to be absent for the debate — but one can argue that in his case, the only way to ensure silence is via complete physical isolation).

— Chris Lehmann in The Baffler

The reason the quote struck a chord: self firmly believes that the only way to ensure silence IS via complete physical isolation.

The (awfully) big question Lehmann asks is: Is Trump a “big feminized baby” or “a terrorist enabler”?

OMG. Dying.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Brienne of Tarth!

For a while, self was waiting for the ball to drop in Times Square, but Justin Bieber wasn’t on the night’s list of performers so she got bored.

Self has spent the days leading up to New Year’s bingeing on Game of Thrones Season 5.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

OMG Brienne! So good to see you! Hey, did you just chop off someone’s head with your mighty sword? And hey, did Vanity Fair really opine that maybe Stannis Baratheon isn’t really dead? And oh hey, what’s with Danaerys surrounded by a marauding pack of plains horsemen (If self were Danaerys, she’d pray for a quick execution. Which, this being GOT, will never happen)

Vanity Fair refers to Brienne’s path in Season 5 as totally off-book. What does that mean?

Also, one of self’s favorite moments in the finale of Season 5 was Theon and Sansa jumping off a wall together, holding hands. At last! These two most degraded of characters — go take a leap of faith! If only someone would go truly off-book and have Ramsay Bolton throw himself off a castle rampart, not into a snow bank but into a pit of sharpened stakes! That would be the only fitting end for such as he!

Also, she doesn’t understand what’s happening to Arya but possibly the young damsel is becoming bat-shit crazy as who wouldn’t be after living in a cold stone monastery-type place with a man who speaks in cryptic sentences and is constantly shifting faces. Not to mention the girl who keeps striking her.

Then of course self is in complete denial about Jon Snow.

Maybe he’s turning into a White Walker!

Maybe now that he’s been released from his physical incarnation, his true essence can flit about and become a true instigator!

Also, Stannis and to a lesser extent although maybe not to a lesser extent Mrs. Stannis: HOW COULD YOU?

Also, loving the Podrick/Brienne camaraderie.

Also, that was quite a long, lingering look at naked Cersei, even though it was for the purpose of showing the Queen’s absolute humiliation (Only Lena Headey could pull that one off so convincingly!)

Also, self knew without a doubt that when Ellaria gave Myrcella a full-on lip-to-lip kiss, she was up to no good, which was borne out about an hour or so later, when Myrcella started gushing blood from her nose. All in front of her dad, Jaime Lannister. Since Jaime’s ship didn’t look very far from land, self wondered if he would turn the ship around and slay Ellaria. Which — did self ever share with dear blog readers that she saw the actress who plays Ellaria in the Globe production of Titus Andronicus last year? And she was truly truly awesomely seductive. Anyway, of the three acolytes of Ellaria (who are very bad fighters, despite the showy whips, in self’s humble opinion), the smallest one has an impressive rack, and shows it off. Another looks like she could be Filipina. And as for Jaime, she thinks the metal hand is cool. But he should really go back to engaging in witty repartee with Brienne.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#BackInTheEighties (Inspired Tweets)

#BackInTheEighties on Twitter last night, some good ones:

  • Wore floppy bows under suits * NO REALITY TV
  • Winona Ryder + “Heathers” * Jem (Not Carstairs)
  • Leg Warmers ala “Flashdance” * Cabbage Patch Kids!
  • M. C. Hammer and Vanilla Ice * Axl Rose + Guns’n Roses + “Sweet Child o’ Mine”
  • NO Kardashians. Whatsoever * NO Beverly Hills Housewives, either.
  • Shelley Long + “Cheers” * “Taxi” + Andy Kaufman + Danny DeVito
  • “Body Heat” + Kathleen Turner + William Hurt * William Hurt + “The Big Chill”
  • “Desperately Seeking Susan” + Madonna + Rosanna Arquette * Molly Ringwald + “Sixteen Candles”
  • “The Breakfast Club” made detention soooo exciting! * And everyone knew who to call.
  • Nastassja Kinski + python * Valerie Bertinelli + cuteness
  • Big Hair + Perms
  • Miami was kept safe by two dudes wearing pink suits and no socks.
  • Smart drones could go around corners — so sayeth Wayne on SNL.
  • 1st Gulf War “Shock and Awe” + Schwarzkopf
  • Everything was soooo tubular!
  • “Dressed to Kill” + Brian De Palma + Angie Dickinson’s million-dollar gams * We all tuned in to watch “Dynasty” and “Dallas” and everyone wanted to know WHO KILLED J. R. EWING
  • “Dirty Dancing” + Patrick Swayze + mullet
  • Siskel & Ebert did the thumbs-up/ thumbs-down on movies.
  • “Back to the Future” + Michael J. Fox * “Cagney & Lacey”
  • “Three’s Company” + Suzanne Somers + John Ritter
  • Self heard about AIDS for the first time.

Stay tuned.

Women in Heels

Self is short.

Short. Short. Short. Short.

Granted, short is not a disease.

Nevertheless.

On the question of heels. Last week, went to the Victoria & Albert Museum, lined up to pay 12 GBP to see exhibit on footwear called, if self remembers correctly: Shoes:  Pleasure & Pain.

Fabulous Chihuly: In the Lobby of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Fabulous Chihuly: In the Lobby of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London

The torture aspect was, in self’s humble opinion, very de-emphasized. Self has seen more torturous shoes (including one fabulous pair with moss growing on the heels) in Greenwich Village in New York City.

And now to “Jurassic World,” which self has not seen, but which seems to have triggered some very strong audience reaction to Bryce Dallas Howard’s choice of footwear. It seems she keeps the heels on, throughout the movie.

Now, let self ponder this a moment.

Self has seen, in Italy, women running flat out for a bus in the highest, stiletto-heeled shoes imaginable. They look great. Also, super-powerful.

She has watched episodes of “Sex and the City” in which Sarah Jessica Parker, post-baby, runs flat out down a New York avenue in Jimmy Choos.

Let’s not forget Jodie Foster in Spike Lee’s Inside Man, the one where she plays an oh-so-smooth New York lawyer representing the Rich Bad Guy who profited from the theft of Jewish assets during World War II. Self thinks that if she had a lawyer who wore four-inch heels as confidently as Jodie Foster’s character does (and Jodie’s legs are the best legs self has seen on film since — since — the woman in Brian De Palma’s Dressed To Kill), she would rest easy in the conviction that she would win all her cases.

On the other hand, there is always an exception to the rule. Exhibit A: Paula Patton, who in the most memorable scene in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (one of the sequels, the one shot in Dubai), kicks off her heels, leaves on the powder-blue shift dress, and FIGHTS. Really FIGHTS. Afterwards, she sits chatting with her group, all men. She remains barefoot, but still wearing that fabulous dress. The only indication that she’s been IN a fight (because, ya know, she’s as cool as a cucumber. Or at least her character is. She has antagonists like Lea Seydoux for breakfast. Honestly) are her bare feet.

And now we arrive at Bryce Dallas Howard, who in side-note self must say is one of the most unusually interesting-looking actresses working today.  Because her character, Clare, never takes off her shoes, we are left to debate the fine points of female fashion choices. Self means: Is it rational to keep on the heels when one is being chased by a velociraptor?

Self can think of many reasons why Clare would choose to keep wearing her shoes: (1) Jungle floors are slimy; (2) She does not have hiking boots in her closet, or even in her desk drawer at work, or even under her desk in her office at work.

A guest post by Lesley Holmes on clothesonfilm makes the point: “I think the makers of Jurassic world believed that showing a woman capable of running in heels was the same as showing us a capable woman . . . ” Of course! This is a very old Hollywood trope, just about as old as the idea of the director auteur (born with Citizen Kane, which means — a long long time ago). If you want to know how powerful a woman character is, just look at what she’s wearing on her feet, for God’s sake!

Self would just like to say that while she was in line in the women’s restroom at the Gielgud Theatre, during the intermission for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, self engaged a young woman in conversation, and then expressed admiration for her shoes. They looked just like the Sam Edelmans self bought last year in California, but this woman’s shoes were flats. The young woman looked at self regretfully and said, “They’re super-painful. See?” She slipped her right foot out of her shoe and there, plain as day, was the beginning of a blister. Aaargh! The things self sees in women’s restrooms! Which is neither here nor there. But it brought home the lesson that flats are just as capable of giving a woman blisters as are Manolo Blahniks or Jimmy Choos.

Self realizes that she herself has very little to say about the wearing of high heels, but in Hollywood, the woman who wears the highest heels is usually the most powerful woman on the block. She’s just saying.

Stay tuned.

Yesterday, Second Friday of November (2014): “Interstellar” (Spoiler Free)

The year is almost done.  Incredible.

Yesterday, self watched “Interstellar” in her local Century 20.

Matthew McConaughey was brilliant. Just. Brilliant.

Self also liked Jessica Chastain in the role of the grown-up “Murph.”

Self was likewise pleased about the casting of Casey Affleck. For a rather slight guy, no one (with the possible exception of Ben Foster) can project steely — i.e. unhinged — menace better than Casey Affleck. Wonder how it would have played out if he, not his brother Ben, had been cast in “Gone, Girl.” Self thinks it might have been a more interesting movie. More nuanced.

As usual, Anne Hathaway’s doe-eyed teary moments had self cringing. But, thankfully, her emo scenes were not saccharine enough to derail the movie.

Which means — “Interstellar” was one heck of a good movie! Maybe her favorite movie of the year!

All hail, McConaughey!  All hail, Christopher Nolan!  All hail, sentient rectangular slabs (Take THAT, Transformers!)

Yesterday was also self’s first time to watch “Constantine” the TV series adaptation. She loved it. So creepy.

Last night, Liam Hemsworth, guest on Fallon, visibly much more relaxed (because not in the presence of his two children — er, co-stars), donned high-heeled stilettos and showed the world that he is indeed capable of pulling off some sexy moves. Especially when not feeling/looking like an odd-man-out in a love triangle.

In the meantime, Channing who?

This is incredibly surprising, but self actually did find herself wiping away a few tears towards the end of “Interstellar.” In fact, “Interstellar” may just have become self’s favorite Christopher Nolan movie. That scene on the watery planet? It just may be the BEST moment of suspense you’ll see in any movie this year, dear blog reader. And, before self forgets — Topher Grace was in the movie, too! Self loooves Topher Grace! Where’s he been hiding all these years? Topher is a participant in the second-most-suspenseful scene in “Interstellar.” Thank you, Christopher Nolan, for bringing this fine actor to the attention of the film-going public once more.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Cover Art: Welcome to Self’s Universe (Actual Cover Art)

For this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, COVER ART, self is posting two actual covers — one of a recent issue of Prism International, the Vancouver-based literary magazine; another for Elmore Leonard’s Raylan, adapted for TV on F/X as “Justified” — and one projected:

FCover Art, Prism International 50.4 (Spring 2012 Issue):  "Soup" by Mandy Barker

Cover Art, Prism International 50.4 (Spring 2012 Issue): “Soup” by Mandy Barker

And here's a picture of the Nora Aunor of her time:  Dearest Mum.  Have you read the story "Lizard"?  You should read "Lizard" (in self's first collection, GINSENG AND OTHER TALES FROM MANILA)

The Superstar of her time: Dearest Mum. She played in Carnegie Hall at 14.

For the past couple of years, self has been working on a novella about Dearest Mum’s concert career.  She’s chosen to call it “Ambition.”  If she ever succeeds in getting it published, this photo of Dearest Mum as a young woman would be the cover.  She doesn’t know who took the picture.

At Books, Inc. today, self's eyes were forcibly drawn to a shelf which happened to display:  xxxxx !!!

At Books, Inc. today, self’s eyes were forcibly drawn to a shelf which happened to display: xxxxx !!!  Self loves “Justified” and is sad about Elmore Leonard’s passing. And the show’s entering its final season. And oh, will Timothy Olyphant ever get an Emmy?  He is THE iconic Raylan.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Clothesonfilm on “Sons of Anarchy”

Before self hotfoots it to the Red Orchid Theatre to see “Strandline,” her play of the day, she has been mad-googling Chicago area libraries and archives.

And catching up on a few blogs she hasn’t checked for a while. One of these being Clothesonfilm.

Clothesonfilm was the blog that opened her eyes to the importance of Read the rest of this entry »

Condé Nast Traveler August 2014: The “Cruise Issue”

There is still time, dear blog readers.  There is still time to fantasize about taking a cruise this year.  One does not need to go all pity party and woe it sucks to be stuck at a desk job for the remainder of 2014.

According to Condé Nast Traveler, 49% of the magazine’s readers are planning to take a weeklong cruise in the next year (Rest assured, self is taking immediate steps to become a part of this demographic)

And here are several cruise recommendations, broken down by category:

For the Gourmand:

  • Celebrity Cruises’ “Top Chef at Sea”
  • Crystal Cruises’ “Microbrew Cruise”
  • MSC’s “Virtual Winery at Sea”

For the Workout Warriors:

  • Holland America’s “Great Alaskan Marathon Cruise”
  • Yoga Cruises’ Bend and stretch on the yachts Admiral and Atlantis
  • Crystal Cruises’ Golf cruises

For Music Lovers:

  • MSC’s “Holy Ship! Electronic Dance Music
  • Holland America’s “Country Music Cruise” on the Eurodam
  • Norwegian Cruise Lines’ “Grammy Festival at Sea: Women Who Rock!”

Some Really Specialty Niches:

For lovers of Steampunk:  Royal Caribbean

For lovers of Magic Shows:  Crystal Cruises

For indefatigable knitters (Caroline Kim-Brown, this one’s for you!): Ama Waterways

For Hobbit fandoms:  Royal Caribbean

For Nudists: Celebrity Cruise Lines

Stay tuned.

 

Oxford, Self, and “The X-Files”

The following Mulder/Scully exchange occurred in the Pilot Episode of cult TV show of the 1990s, “The X-Files”:

FBI interviewer:  Are you familiar with an agent named Fox Mulder?

Scully:  Yes, I am.

FBI:  How so?

Scully:  By reputation.  He’s an Oxford-educated psychologist who wrote a monograph on serial killers and the occult, that helped to catch Monty Props in 1988.  Generally thought of as the best analyst in the violent crimes section.  He had a nickname at the Academy:  Spooky Mulder.

DSCN5660

That was a great series, dear blog readers.

Self hugely enjoyed the episodes on such grotesque and apocryphal creatures as the Jersey Devil, Chimera, and Incubus.

But it’s the mention of Oxford that really gets her attention, because it reminds her that Mulder was supposed to be some sort of genius who, yes, did indeed attend the august institution that self has been ogling for the past few days:

Christ Church, Oxford's oldest college, from across a meadow

Christ Church, Oxford’s oldest college, from across a meadow

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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