Hedgebrook to Self: There’s Always Centrum

Years ago, when Calyx Publisher Margarita Donnelly was still alive, she told self about Hedgebrook. She said, It’s the most magical place. But you can only go once. So don’t waste it.

Self had Hedgebrook, that tantalizing lure, in the back of her mind, for decades. Eventually, she started writing a novel. Then she thought: This could be finally be the project I can apply to Hedgebrook for.

She did not hear back on her application, for almost a year.

Wow, they must have tons of applications, self thought.

Finally, because her landlady was pressuring her to extend her lease, and self didn’t want to do that if she was going to Hedgebrook, she decided to call Hedgebrook.

“Umm, hello,” self said. “Have the results of next year’s residencies already been released?”

Impactful (maybe also painful) silence.

Who is this?

“Marianne Villanueva.”

Another long silence. “The results were announced six months ago. We’ll have someone call you.”

And that’s when self’s gut fell all the way to the bottom of her shoes.

Sure enough, someone did call to tell self she’d been rejected. Not wait-listed. Just flat-out rejected. “There’s Centrum, if you like the area,” said the caller.

“Oh,” self said. “Thanks so much for the recommendation.”

Stay tuned.

Ann Glenconner and Imelda

Yes, they were friends. Of course they were.

Proof is in the photo gallery, circa 1978. Which self just paged through this morning.

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Currently Reading Memoir

Next on self’s reading list: Philip Pullman’s The Secret Commonwealth (Vol. II of his Book of Dust)

Stay tuned.

Fans Deserved Better. The Characters Deserved Better.

It’s only been a few days, but already self wants to forget.

She agrees with what USA Today’s Kelly Lawler says below:

‘Game of Thrones’ Ends with a Whimper

This isn’t what we signed up for.

When Game of Thrones premiered eight years ago, it was instantly clear that the series was something different. It was a story that broke the conventions of the fantasy genre, not one that was a slave to them. Tragedy and injustice were as baked into the series’ identity as dragons and battles.

But that’s not the show that aired its finale Sunday night. In the final episode, The Iron Throne, the show was unrecognizable. It was hacky; it was cliched. Every character left standing received a saccharine coda. Closure is one thing, but pandering is entirely another.

The Iron Throne would have been a fine ending for a different kind of TV show. It would have been a satisfying landing for a series that had long warmed hearts.

Self still can’t bring herself to watch the last three episodes in their entirety. She only watched the last half of the finale, just before Jon sticks a sword into Dany and she dies with nary a WHY? Or a look of wounded betrayal. Come on! Jon didn’t look anguished when he did it. The whole scene was so by-the-numbers. Empty, empty, empty. And for a series that dominated self’s life for at least eight years, that is a huge disappointment.

Stay tuned.

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.

 

Emma Reflects on Mr. Elton’s Character: Vol. I Chapter XVI

It was dreadfully mortifying; but Mr. Elton was proving himself, in many respects, the very reverse of what she had meant and believed him; proud, assuming, conceited; very full of his own claims, and little concerned about the feelings of others.

Contrary to the usual course of things, Mr. Elton’s wanting to pay his addresses to her had sunk him in her opinion. His professions and his proposals did him no service. She thought nothing of his attachment, and was insulted by his hopes. He wanted to marry well, and having the arrogance to raise his eyes to her, pretended to be in love; but she was perfectly easy as to his not suffering any disappointment that need be cared for. There had been no real affection either in his language or manners. Sighs and fine words had been given in abundance; but she could hardly divine any set of expressions, or fancy any tone of voice, less allied with real love.


(Just looked up the movie version of Emma. Mr. Elton is played by the very fine Alan Cumming! Oh, inspired!)

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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.

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.

Movie # 7: FIFTY SHADES FREED

Self has liked the other movies in this franchise. But this one — well, let her list the ways:

  • The lack of chemistry between the two leads is never more apparent.
  • Dakota Johnson’s flat, affectless voice, while perfect for the role, is really annoying once she gets everything her heart desires. And, oh wow, someone is stalking her but she’s sooo ready for flirting. And sex. And romance!
  • There is no ending.
  • What is with Christian Grey’s brother’s affair? It’s a red herring.

Pluses:

  • Marcia Gay Harden has a small scene.
  • clothes, Anastasia’s
  • lipstick, Anastasia’s
  • Self didn’t hate it enough to walk out.

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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