Sylvain Landry – Week 45: BIRDS

Self has skipped a few weeks of the Sylvain Landry Photo prompts, mostly because, since leaving the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, she’s been doing much traveling. She went to Cork, then Dublin, then back to Cork, then to Wexford, then back to Dublin, then to London.

Now, in London, she’s had a couple of days to restore her energy. She finished reading Anjelica Huston’s memoir, Watch Me, in six days. Which is something of a record (Last year, she thinks she read a total of six books. Time was, she used to blaze through an average of 60, per year).

She started E. L. James’s Grey and decided that, alas, this novel was not for her.

She started Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend. That title alone is in itself brilliant. Whenever one titles a book, it should have something positive in the title. Like: My Brilliant Islands. Or My Brilliant Dreams. Or Beautiful Dreamer. Or something along those lines.

This week’s Sylvain Landry prompt is BIRDS.

And self has to go back to her pictures of Tyrone Guthrie Centre to find a bird picture. Here it is:

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From Her Window in Unit # 1 of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, Ireland, April 2016

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Monday: London Review Bookshop Monthly Film Screening

The London Review Bookshop is showing a Sally Potter film tonight: “Yes.”

That’s the one where all the characters speak in iambic pentameter (And, rhyme!)

“How long is the film?” self asked the salesperson (Who is the same salesperson who was there last year, and the year before, and who turns out to be a poet. His first collection just came out!)

“100 minutes,” he said, smartly.

Okay, self got a ticket. Considering this bookshop was where she got to shake hands with Sally Potter in person, in 2014, it seems like fate or magic. If you believe in either of those things. And she was there again last night, along with her cinematographer, the same one who worked on Orlando, and self was fan-girling like mad.

Stay tuned.

British Museum, Lines

Today at the British Museum: for the first time, serious security check. Everyone had to line up outside and pass through a white tent (Why a white tent? Self has no idea) and have their bags inspected. First time ever (and self has been to the Museum many times). There was a police van parked right outside the main entrance to the Museum (Also a first; last summer, security was very discreet. Now, the British are flaunting it.)

Met an American pathologist from Seattle who, having wrapped up her conference, was sightseeing. This was her third visit to the museum in a week. Self told her about the “Sunken Cities” special exhibit, and the woman asked if self had seen the Rosetta Stone. Do you know, in how many visits to the British Museum, self has never actually laid eyes on the Rosetta Stone? Go figure. As soon as we got inside the museum, the woman led self straight to it. (There’s a 20-minute Rosetta Stone tour, free, every Friday)

Self was in London last July. All those weeks, and she never set foot inside the British Museum. Not once. Instead, she remembers just holing up in her room and writing. And writing. And writing. London was full of pigeons and tourists and ice cream trucks. It was incredibly hot and muggy. She went on a Jack the Ripper tour of Whitechapel.

Part of the reason she bought her ticket so far in advance this year is because she realizes she needs that push. The British Museum is overwhelming. In the last gallery of the “Sunken Cities” exhibit, a woman about self’s age seated herself on a bench and lowered her face in her hands. Self knew just how she felt.

The gallery of Greek antiquities has these colossal statues. They are completely stunning. A rider at full gallop on a gigantic horse. A running leopard. A mastiff. She hasn’t seen such massive things since the Olmec exhibit at the de Young, several years ago. You talk about Greek sculpture and you think: classical. You think: refinement. But these were from only one period (Hellenistic? 350 AD?) After that, Greek sculptural representations no longer have that gigantic, absolutely in-your-face, larger-than-life ethos (Why?)

There is a piece showing Aphrodite being surprised during a bath. Seeing the statue from the front, self walked right by. As she was leaving the gallery, she saw that same Aphrodite statue from the back. And, gosh, from the back, it is beautiful. Look at the dimples of her lower back! And the hips! OMG the hips!

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Aphrodite, Surprised at Her Bath: British Museum, Friday, 20 May

Self thinks she’ll walk around a bit more. Stay tuned.

Brutal

The more self reads of Anjelica Huston’s Watch Me, the more her respect for Huston grows. The book is called Watch Me for a reason. It reminds her of the saying: “A person who has something to prove can move mountains.” That quote might have come from Robert Greene, in his 48 Laws of Power.

Quoting directly from the book, “no talent agency wanted to take me on prior to Prizzi’s Honor. Most didn’t even bother to return my phone calls. Eventually, I joined the Yvette Bikoff Agency. It was a small agency, but Yvette seemed to have more confidence in me than the others.”

Huston wants Yvette to try and get her paid more for her part in Prizzi’s Honor. Yvette tells Huston that she tried, but the producers “refuse to even discuss it.” Huston keeps pressing, until finally, with Huston in her office, Yvette places a call to a producer and puts him on speaker phone:

An irritated voice came on the line. “You want more money for Anjelica Huston? You must be kidding . . . go ahead, ask me!” said the voice. “We’d like nothing more than to see her dropped from the film. She has no talent. Her boyfriend is the star and her father is the director, that’s the only reason we are even having this conversation.”

If you’ve never heard of Prizzi’s Honor, go rent it from Netflix. Self only saw it once, but she can still remember the last minutes of the film so clearly. Anjelica Huston was absolutely right for that role. She is so physically imposing, which is why, when she projects vulnerability, it just breaks your heart.

Anyhoo, it’s almost midnight in London. Self had a grueling day. Swore she’d never take a cab from Heathrow, got lost at least three times looking for the Heathrow Express, carting her heavy, overweight luggage. She didn’t ask for help and no one offered any. (Good). She made it to Paddington. She was so famished she ate two meals sitting on a bench. She got into a taxi. She hauled luggage up four flights of stairs.

This is definitely a city. By that she means people are largely indifferent. But it’s a great city. She knew when the cab got near to Bloomsbury. Great Russell Street is her own little patch of London.

Self loves the parks: Regency Park, Hyde Park, Kensington. If all she does while in London is visit one park after another, and look at the Serpentine, and drop by Battersea and gawk at the huge Tate Modern, and then pay a visit to the exquisite Wallace Collection, she’ll be happy. Oh no, wait. No visit to London is complete without Chez Mamie. She even made a reservation because the place is always full now. And to think when she met Emily there last year, we were even wondering whether it would last a year! It’s still only got six tables, but for some reason, the last few times self has been in there, there seem to be a lot of Americans. All in suits. Conducting who knows what kind of negotiations.

Tomorrow she’s going to the British Museum to see an exhibit called “Sunken Egypt.” It’ll help her finish a story she started at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, a story called “Residents of the Deep.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

A Break from Anjelica Huston Angst

Self is on yet another bus in Ireland. Heading back north.

In Watch Me, Anjelica Huston is bored out of her mind at a Lakers game.

As a break from Huston’s boredom, self turns to another book she’s brought with her all the way from California: Lydia’s Funeral Video, by Sam Chanse.

This book is fascinating and entertaining — sort of like a hip primer on being an American.

Which feels, actually, very deflating right now because OMG is Trump really going up against whoever and OMG what?

Never mind that.

In Lydia’s Funeral Video, which is about an unmarried 28-year-old American named Lydia, Lydia feels compelled to buy a pregnancy test:

And the pharmacist is explaining how this test works by checking for a hormone in the saliva or something, and she instructs me to listen for the three consecutive beeps before checking the color of the light– red for not pregnant, green for pregnant.

“You know, if you’re pregnant, green for go!” the pharmacist says — which I think they’re supposed to say to make pregnancy sound like happy fun time and encourage you to go ahead and have the kid . . .

Okay, sorry dear blog readers but typing this on a careening bus is making self dizzy.

(To be continued)

 

 

Anjelica Huston’s Beautiful Life

Finished reading Paul Theroux’s Deep South a few days ago.

Currently reading Anjelica Houston’s second memoir, Watch Me.

Self doesn’t understand why readers on Amazon have bashed this book for being nothing but a collection of names. Names and Places. Names and Places and Things.

Self likes that it’s just a collection of Names and Places and Things.

Theroux’s book was so deep. If she had to read another deep book, she might end up with serious issues. Sometimes (like right now), she likes to indulge in superficiality.

So far (Chapter 3), Huston describes doing  the following:

  • seeing Milan from the back of a friend’s Harley-Davidson, while wearing a fetching “Missoni cloak”
  • visiting Britt Ekland in a hospital in Hampstead Heath (Britt’s just had a baby boy)
  • visiting iconic model Jean Shrimpton at her home in Berkshire
  • visiting a friend’s apartment in New York’s West End Avenue, an apartment that’s all “high-gloss black lacquered walls and blacked-out windows”

Huston writes this about LA:

Things happened at a leisurely pace. Unlike New York, where the pavements abounded with energy and purpose and everyone seemed to have an objective, Los Angeles was filled with friendly people who seemed content to hang out at home in tracksuits and kaftans, waiting for good things to come to them, or those who relied on whimsy for advancement.

Nice!

There is something corrosive in Anjelica Huston’s life, though, and that is the black hole of being the girlfriend of philandering Jack Nicholson. Already, Huston’s shed many, many tears  (and self’s only on p. 22). Self wants to comfort Huston by saying: “He’ll get old. Don’t worry.” Self is no fortune-teller, but she can’t help feeling smug about the fact that Jack Nicholson has indeed grown old.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Cork, Ireland News Flash

Today, self walked quite a bit. She took a break mid-afternoon and went back to her room. A news program came on. “A young boy drowned today in the Liffey, 2:30 p.m.”

She looked at the time: 5:30 p.m.

So, only three hours earlier?

It’s Saturday. How could the boy drown on a Saturday? With people out and about. In the middle of the afternoon.

It was a beautiful day. At first self thought the death occurred in Cork. Then she remembered the river around Cork is the Lee. The Liffey is in Dublin. This made the news marginally better. She would absolutely hate to think the boy drowned in Cork. She was enjoying the day, it was such a nice day. And in the meantime, a boy was drowning close by. And she so unaware!

This is the thing about Ireland: it’s small enough that a boy’s death in Dublin gets broadcast to Cork.

This trip, she learned that the greater Los Angeles area has more people than the whole of Ireland. One city in America, just one city, has more people than Ireland.

That really puts things in perspective. Somehow, because of the literary richness, she imagined — still imagines — a much bigger country.

Ireland is small, but it’s also so specific. Which county you’re from in Ireland matters a lot. She always ends up asking people which county they’re from, and the answer makes a big difference: County Kerry means one thing, County Monaghan another.

That trip she made two days ago to Dublin? Two and a half hours by train.  She was in Dublin one night, then back to Cork. Self could probably do the whole country in 24 hours.

During the last AWP conference, self was talking to Your Impossible Voice editor Stephen Beachy, and he told her he commutes to his job in San Francisco from San Diego. So it’s all a matter of perspective, really. Californians would probably think nothing of working in Dublin and then going home to Cork every night. Cork (if it were in California) would be considered a “bedroom community” — a suburb that’s like a ghost town in the daytime, while everyone is away, working somewhere else. A two-and-a-half hour commute each way? Small potatoes!

For that matter, you can even work in London and go home to Dublin every night. It’s only an hour each way by plane, after all.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Face 2: CIT Wandesford Quay Gallery, Cork, Ireland

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is FACE, and self feels like the luckiest person in the world because, this morning, in one of her periodic rambles around Cork, she stumbled into a gallery on Wandesford Quay. In a smaller gallery off the main exhibit space (looked like a crypt) were a set of prints:

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Lithographs, Connoll Cary, at CIT Wandesford Quay Gallery, Cork, Ireland

When she went closer, she saw the subjects were actually portraits of a human subject:

The exhibit You Make Mine, I Make Yours is a very interesting project. Four printmakers from Cork were paired with another four from Rafamo, Finland.

The pairs sent each other visual prompts, and it was up to the individual artists to come up with original interpretations.

One of the artists, Johnny Bugler, explained how the collaborations worked. He has his own artwork in the show: Dream of a White Dog, and Paradise Lost (which features a screen print of tropical palm trees on found leather)

Actually, self participated in a similar collaboration when The Asian American Literary Review invited writers like herself to react/respond to a visual artist. In April 2012 we were brought to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC to share the fruit of our collaboration. The event was Asian American Portraits of Encounter Between Image and Word. The other participating writers were: Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Garrett Hongo, David Henry Hwang, Kazim Ali, and Anna Kazumi-Stahl.

You Make Mine, I Make Yours runs through May 29.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Face: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 13 May 2016

FACE is the theme of this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge.

Gave self an excuse to go back over her thousands and thousands of archived photos and indulge in a nostalgia trip.

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Abigail !!! Oxford, England, July 2015

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Londis, Tyrconnell Road, Inchicore, Dublin, 2014, across the Street from the Church of the Oblates. When this woman learned self was a writer, she paid $2 on-line to read self’s novella, the one that became a finalist for the 2014 Saboteur Awards.

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Receptionist, L’Fisher Chalet, Bacolod City, Philippines: Self’s Dear Departed Dad was born and raised in Bacolod City. She hasn’t been back since 2013, and L’Fisher Chalet has been remodeled. Who knows when self can visit again.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Theroux: “I drove off the main road, Highway 71 . . . “

The day was dusk-dark but there was still no sign of a storm. I drove off the main road, Highway 71, and took a dirt road up a steep slope into the woods, past shacks and trailers. At the summit, where the road became a muddy track, I came to a ramshackle house — a spectacular ruin at the edge of a field littered with cast-off shoes, rags of clothes, old rubber tires, hubcaps embedded in the earth, children’s faded toys twisted apart, plastic bags tangled on bushes, areas strewn with bottles and jugs, and shards of broken glass — a hovel with junk heaped against it.

Deep South, by Paul Theroux

Two days in Cork, one afternoon on the train to Dublin, morning in the Irish National Portrait Gallery, and the end of Theroux’s Deep South is in sight.

In the intervening time, she’s learned about: Faulkner. Erskine Caldwell. Gun shows.  Clinton’s boyhood. Poverty. Segregation. Dying Towns. Activists. Meth labs. etc.

She read the reviews on Amazon. One woman says she wishes Theroux had focused on the “nicer” parts of the south. Instead, he stayed on back roads, and focused on talking to poor people.

That is who self wants to hear from! The poor people! The ones who make some parts of the South resemble a Third World country! Because — that is reality.

Keep going, Theroux.

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Reading DEEP SOUTH in the National Portrait Gallery, Dublin

Earlier, she was in Hodges Figgis and bought yet another book to weigh her down: My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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