Jane Austen Feels It Necessary To

Defend the novel.

Northanger Abbey, p. 34:

Alas! if the heroine of one novel be not patronized by the heroine of another, from whom can she expect protection and regard? I cannot approve of it. Let us leave it to the Reviewers to abuse such effusions of fancy at their leisure, and over every new novel to talk in threadbare strains of the trash with which the press now groans. Let us not desert one another; we are an injured body. Although our productions have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are almost as many as our readers.

Dracarys!

Dracarys! Dracarys! So bored with Dracarys but whatever, there’s another episode tomorrow, self’s attitude is somewhat tepid. Meh?

This morning, in front of Paradiso, there was a man (who looked exactly like a hippy, even though this is Cork) holding up a sign that said FREE HUGS. It was ADORABLE. There were people actually enthusiastically hugging each other. And self was so slow grabbing her camera that she got nothing.

Anyhoo, back to Game of Thrones. This is a penultimate episode — YES! Who knew that self is almost regretting how much time she had to spend to: a) sign up for HBO Now; b) un-sign-up for HBO Now when she found out it didn’t work in England; c) sign up for Sky TV; d) find out how VPN works (Honestly, before she left the States, she had no idea what VPN was)

She has not yet managed to finish watching Episode 4. It is really, really hard to watch,  ESPECIALLY the Brienne/Jamie hook-up which generates NO HEAT WHATSOEVER. Also it is hard to watch Joe Dempsie doing probably the worst acting of his life (Who is that he’s pretending to be? That’s not Gendry! Just an HBO construct! He might be off the show now — except for maybe five seconds in the finale. He might be luckier than Arya, though. SHE has to keep up that stone-cold assassin act all the way to the bitter end. And, girl, you’re doing yourself no favors by suddenly assuming the mantle of Savior of All Mankind. Just look at what happened to Emilia Clarke. Being a Messiah really interferes with a performance)

A Forbes writer was saying something about how easy it was for Euron to kill a dragon, all he had to do was aim his “magical giant ballista” at “a measly dragon” and self does agree that it is pretty ludicrous, twice as ludicrous because it’s EURON and all he does is chew up scenery. It would have been better to have CERSEI aim the “magical giant ballista” but the script has her everlastingly stuck on a stone balcony, bringing her A+ sneer game.

Self will watch the opening credits. If it doesn’t have a particular name, YAWN she won’t bother watching.

Stay tuned.

The Night King: Another Missed Opportunity

So Arya killed the Night King, stabbing him in the exact same place he was stabbed by the Children of the Forest.

The Children of the Forest haven’t appeared much in the series (hopefully they’ll be in the prequel) but the image of a blade plunging into the chest of a captive man is, you have to admit, super-arresting and chilling.

And here is an image from an article in Den of Geek, which asks: Could the Night King actually have been a Stark?

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Which again makes self super-despondent because it reminds her that in the last two episodes EVER of Game of Thrones, the bad guys will be played by the tag team of Cersei/Euron, even though, to self’s mind, the Lannisters are pretty much done (except for Tyrion, who’s turned into such a sad sack)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Snark: Game of Thrones S8: E4

How much did self hate this episode? She couldn’t even get beyond the first 10 minutes.

Spectacle and ‘big’ scenes that make no sense make for very poor storytelling.

At least, in Episode 3, Melisandre was there to lend some gravitas to the proceedings. Even then, Arya killing the Night King was a bit — too easy. There was so much footage of her stuck in a library and dodging the wights (good extended sequence). Suddenly, Melisandre shows, reminds Arya to say “Not today” and Arya mysteriously runs away. Only to re-appear at the exact moment the Night King reaches for his sword to behead (?) Bran. (Oh, that was super-tops of Bran to remain so still — even, abject — in his wheelchair. Self has not liked Bran for a few seasons, but in this season he is positively shining)

Self cannot believe the last two episodes EVER of Game of Thrones are going to have so much Euron. He’s like the Iron Man of the series and he does not deserve it. Go away, Euron. Instead of more Euron chewing the scenery, we could have had small, quiet moments of connection between Brienne/Jaime (not sex) and Arya and Gendry and Jon and Ghost.

Oh, and after all the angst of Tormund/Brienne/Jamie, Tormund sees the writing on the wall and basically goes, Oh well! I’ll just lose myself with two whores. What? Not even a tear shed for what-might-have-been? Oh well. Guess he wasn’t as hung up on Brienne as the show led us to believe.

The happiest ending for the show would be for Sansa to take everything — have her stomping over Danaery’s corpse with some really kickass Dominatrix boots.

Arya is not a character anymore. She’s just a stone-cold assassin. Without Gendry, her character has no depth. Her interactions with Gendry in Episodes 1 and 2 were the most unforced interactions we’ve had on Game of Thrones for quite a while. These two just have a natural chemistry (See: Forge scene, Episode 2). It’s a crime to have her utter nonsense to Gendry like: “Anyone would be happy to be your lady” blah blah. It’s even more of a crime that Gendry goes down on one knee to propose. And what fool told Gendry to make his eyes super-big and round for that scene? Joe Dempsie is one of the most natural actors on the show. Here he obediently followed directions instead of going with his instincts. If you want to know what should have been on camera but got left out, go read the New York Times interview with Dempsie.

So, Gendry is tied to Dany now whereas before he was tied to Jon. So in the big battle, Gendry will be against the Starks. This truly, truly sucks. Will Arya have to kill him? Oooh!

Stay tuned.

2020: The Race

So far, five Democrats have declared their candidacy:

  • Of the five, four are women. FOUR.
  • One mayor, Julian Castro, from San Antonio, TX, a state that is greatly impacted by the issues of the border wall. This Stanford grad delivered part of his speech in Spanish.

It is clear which groups are most angered by Trump.

We are outraged by the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and by the male posturing of the President and his enablers: Senators McConnell and Graham. By the hypocrisy of Senator Susan Collins.

Also clear: Democracy won’t die with Trump.

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.

 

Today’s Back Issue of The New Yorker

  • At some point in the next few weeks or so, unless President Donald Trump stages a constitutional crisis — something that, given his habits, can hardly be ruled out — he will almost certainly have to take questions from Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election. — Amy Davidson Sorkin, The Talk of the Town

As if!

Self checks the date on the issue: 5 February 2018

We are still waiting. Either 45 is extremely smart (smarter than anyone thought he was), or his lawyers are extremely good, or we the People are just too stupid. Bottom line: Democrats have been wringing their hands for almost two years now and self has yet to see any results from all this hand-wringing. The wall is still going up and children at the border are still being separated from their parents (17 states, including California, are bringing suit against the federal government to stop this practice. Which will take, like, 84 years: self will be dead, Trump will be dead, everyone currently in government will be dead, THE END).

Outrage is so, so wearing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

LINES: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 25 April 2018

Self almost forgot it was Wednesday! She was so busy tweeting and reading The Amber Spyglass and being confused by life, such as why her library copy of the book was missing 37 pages. She’d never have noticed if it weren’t for the kind child who inserted an index card warning the reader that 38 pages were missing. Since the book itself doesn’t seem to have been mangled, this seems to be entirely the fault of the publisher: RANDOM HOUSE. Anyhoo, she might have realized eventually, since p. 206 is a page with Mrs. Coulter, and on p. 239 Mrs. Coulter is not in evidence. But, hard to say.

Now to LINES.

  • As you look through your lens this week, pay attention to LINES.

— Cheri Lucas Rowlands, The Daily Post

Oh how fabulous! Self loves making her photographs into some kind of abstract representation of something totally different. That’s easy to do if you look at everything in terms of lines. Such, as her unit in the Mendocino Art Center, which is pretty empty so you can clearly see the rectangular repetitions of shelves, desk, doorway, etc.

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Unit # 12, Mendocino Art Center, April 2018

And then, the lines the blinds make across the page she is reading:

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Reading THE SUBTLE KNIFE, Book II of Philip Pullman’s HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy

And, finally, the lines of this aloe vera plant she saw (it was gigantic) in the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens:

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Aloe Plant, Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, 21 April 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Worlds of Decay, Renewal Merge Unexpectedly”: Elegy for a City, San Francisco

  • Like a lot of people, I have mixed feelings about a walk in the city these days. The Sunday before, my companion and I had walked the streets of Washington, D.C. and marveled at how clean they were. On returning back home, it was clear how much of San Francisco was a mess, particularly downtown with its crowds of lost souls roaming filthy streets. — from Carl Nolte’s column, Native Son, in the San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, 18 March 2018

Don’t ever try to walk (alone) from the Asian Art Museum to Powell. Don’t. Even if it’s broad daylight, you will be accosted by xxx panhandlers, and some will be quite aggressive. Just saying. That stretch of San Francisco feels like Detroit. Or like a Third World city. The decay is absolutely heartbreaking.

Self tried it once, last year. Every few steps, someone said something to her. Like running a gauntlet. Don’t reach for your wallet, don’t hesitate. Keep your earbuds in place. Keep walking.

If that’s what it’s like in the daytime, can you imagine what it’s like at night? Downtown San Francisco is not a woman-friendly city.

(And on the streets, there are Teslas. And Jaguars)

Stay tuned.

DARKEST HOUR: What’s Up With Joe Wright

2nd full day back in America, 2nd movie: Darkest Hour.

So dull.

Self has seen Atonement, which made her cry buckets.

Not that she expects every Joe Wright to make her cry buckets, just that she likes movies to engage her emotions and this one didn’t.

Well, self did feel bad for the 4,000 British troops at Calais who were ordered to attack the advancing Germans, all to enable the main body of the British army to be evacuated from Dunkirk (almost 300,000 men)

Perhaps self was in a mood because she did not get to see I, Tonya.

Instead she got to watch Gary Oldman do Winston Churchill and his portrayal was rather baffling. Self had no idea that Churchill was such a bumbling, distracted man, whose only skill apparently was a penchant for rousing words and an ability to get the pulse of the British people.

He was a populist! Who would have thought!

The scene in the underground was very, very contrived.

Two stars, maybe?

Kudos nevertheless to Stephen Dillane for making her completely forget Stannis Baratheon in his portrayal of Churchill antagonist Viscount Halifax, and to Samuel West for still being Samuel West, and to Lily James for performing the role of ingenue/typist so flawlessly.

Someone started coughing loud in the last half hour or so of the movie, and a young woman yelled, from way across the theatre: Hey, would you do your coughing outside?

Which surprised self exceedingly because she didn’t notice any young people in the audience before the lights went down. But it is a very good thing to know that young people are interested in watching this movie that has absolutely no battle scenes (i.e.,  more spittle than blood).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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