STORY 2: Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore

The baby of James Rouse, grandfather of actor Ed Norton, the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore is dedicated to “outsider art” — people from all walks of life who feel an inner urge to create and just do, without the benefit of formal training. There’s art by diagnosed schizophrenics and insomniacs, nurses and postal workers — all kinds of people. It is a great museum.

Stan Wright’s sculpture is made out of telephone wire. It’s called First Dance. He gifted it to the Visionary Art Museum, and it is amazing.

  • “It’s so hard to communicate with words, that’s why I do it with my hands . . . ” –Stan Wright

Stan Wright, First Dance (Material Used: Telephone Wire)


Stan Wright, First Dance: A Closer View


Another Close-Up: All Hail, Visionary Art Museum, Champion of ‘Outsider Art’

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


STORY: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 7 March 2018

“Be a visual storyteller.” — Jen H., The Daily Post

  • Self’s seatmate on the plane from Manila to San Francisco hailed from San Pablo, Laguna. He was bringing back to the States five of a Laguna specialty: coconut pies.


  • On her most recent trip to Manila, in January, self dropped by the oldest university in the Philippines, the University of Santo Tomas, founded 1611. She dropped by the Creative Writing Department, and the faculty asked her to pose with them for a group shot. YAY!


  • Christmas 2016 was a devastatingly lonely experience, one self vowed never to repeat. Christmas 2017, self was in Paris. A woman from China agreed to take her picture standing in front of the Arc de Triomphe.


Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.




The Mandibles, 2029 – 2047

Maybe she should blame it on AWP, but she’s on p.32, she can’t tell the difference between various characters and she doesn’t know what the rationale is for setting this novel in 2029, because it sounds just like the present (without the magnetic personalities of Trump and Sessions to lighten up the proceedings). There seems to be a water shortage, because characters are allowed only one bath a week. Gee! Sucks to live in 2029!

Chapter 2 is excruciating: All about the gold standard. Should self be worried about the gold standard? Well, if a characteer in a novel keeps droning on and on about the gold standard, self would assume it is best to be worried about the gold standard. She is so stupid! Duh! Next time you pick up a novel, self, make sure you are interested in its subject matter!

She just thought: wow, it would be great to have characters who actually care about macroeconomics and exchange rates and stuff. Would probably up self’s intelligence quotient!

But, no. After reading 32 pages, self can only say: there is a reason she was not an economics major.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: LEAVES

Love Cee’s Fun Foto Challenges!

Paris, May 2017: The Tuileries


Same day in May 2017, somewhere near L’Orangerie:


Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.



Russia in the Waning Days of the Romanov Dynasty, 1906: Doomed

The Romanovs, 1613 – 1918, p. 530:

As the pogromchiki were killing 3,000 Jews from Vilna to Kishinev, two junior bureaucrats — Alexander Dubrovin and a rabble-rousing pogromist from Kishinev, Vladimir Purishkevich — formed a Union of Russian People, a movement of noblemen, intellectuals, shopkeepers and thugs who rallied support for “Tsar, faith and fatherland” around extreme nationalism and anti-semitic violence. The Union was the political wing of rightist vigilantes, the Black Hundreds, who fought revolutionaries and slaughtered Jews. Fascists fourteen years before the word was invented in Italy, the Black Hundreds marched in the tsar’s name but despised his compromises with parliamentarians.

Clearly, dear blog readers, the seeds of the Holocaust were planted long, long before World War II. The Romanovs were anti-Semites. Tsar Nicholas II’s “table-talk was peppered with anti-Jewish banter, typical of many a European aristocrat of this era — telling his mother how a courtier ‘amused us very much with funny Jewish stories — wonderfully good at imitating Jews and even his face suddenly looks Jewish!’ . . .  To him, a newspaper was a place where ‘some Jew or other sits . . .  making it his business to stir up passions of peoples against each other.’ ”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


AWP 2018 Tampa: Featured Speakers

Keynote Speaker:


Among the Featured Presenters are some very familiar names:

  • Rick Barot
  • Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Marie Myung-Ok Lee
  • Claire Messud
  • Aimee Nezhukumatahil
  • Sigrid Nuñez
  • Mary Ruefle
  • Karen Tei Yamashita

She has loved George Saunders ever since Civilwarland in Bad Decline. She remembers ugly crying after reading one story, the one about the wavemaker. She has not yet read Lincoln in the Bardo but it is definitely on her list. (Which, at the rate she’s been reading these days, means she probably won’t get to it until next year. At the soonest.)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Out of This World 2: The Garden

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is OUT OF THIS WORLD.

Stepping into her garden is like stepping into another world.

There are six steps from the back door to the ground. Self took the first picture standing on the top step.

The garden is rectangular in shape. To the left is a small courtyard that she bricked over, about 20 years ago. She used to have an apple tree there. It died. She used to have geraniums and camellias. All gone. There is one wee clematis that she remembers planting three years ago. A few weeks ago, it started to put out green shoots. Every day since then, it has put out more and more leaves.


Backyard, 2 March 2018



Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sentence of the Day: THE ROMANOVS, 1613 – 1918, p. 467

He may have been a primordial throwback, but now (Emperor) Alexander had to operate in the world of public opinion, stock markets and newspapers in which he found some of his most unlikely advisers, none more so than Prince Vladimir Meshchersky, known by enemies at the court as “Prince of Sodom” and among the intelligentsia as “Prince Full-Stop” after he demanded all reform must come to that punctuation mark.

Dear blog readers, self can’t even.

Stay tuned.

Out of This World: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 28 February 2018


— Ben Huberman, The Daily Post

Three views of the Islamic Art Collection at the Louvre, which self visited for the first time on 1 June 2017:




The canvas roof of the Islamic Art Collection at the Louvre (viewed from the Galerie Donatello) looks like a desert-colored wave. Self thinks it is fabulous.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Books About War

Self adores reading books about war. Perhaps it is the drama, the spectacle. A good war book thrills her like no other.

She mentions this as she’s come to a point in The Romanovs where Alexander, the grandson of Catherine the Great, becomes Emperor of Russia. He was Catherine the Great’s chosen heir, only she died too quickly (at 68) and Alexander’s vicious father Paul took over (Paul was so terrible a monarch that he was strangled by his ministers after just five years in power)

When the crown is brought to Alexander, he doesn’t want it and weeps. Which means: he made a really good Emperor. And he ruled for 24 years.

Anyhoo, here we are on p. 288. Alexander, a very green monarch, has to face Napoleon. Napoleon recognizes the weakness of his opponent and says to his men, “Let’s finish this war with a thunderclap.” He launches his attack on Alexander’s forces, and 28,000 Russians are slaughtered (That is almost a third of the population of the city where self lives: Redwood City, California). Alexander is “almost run down by his own men as they” flee “for their lives.” Alexander comes down with a fever (Self would, too, if she had to watch 28,000 men slaughtered on a battlefield) and was sustained only by his doctor administering “wine and opium.”

But — Alexander does not collapse! He declares Napoleon the “Beast of the Apocalypse” and enlists the man who murdered his father to muster the Russian troops. The Russians fight Napoleon “to a grinding, bloody draw at Eylau, losing 26,000 men,” but the French lose 20,000. The carnage is appalling, but Alexander, understanding that he must be in it “for the long game,” sues for peace (Catherine the Great was right to choose him over his father!).

Alexander is twenty-nine when he and Napoleon meet at the Niemen River. Napoleon recounts that he “chattered away,” but Alexander understood his game. Alexander tells his mother (who loathed the French): “We will do everything to prove the sincerity” of Russia’s “tight alliance with France, this fearful colossus . . . until the moment when we will calmly observe his fall.”

p. 295: “As for Napoleon, he started to despise Alexander with that special hatred reserved for the beloved mistress who ends a cherished affair.”

Good stuff!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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