Woman to Her Attacker At His Sentencing

It took me this long to read the letter to Brock Turner at his sentencing:

How old are you? How much do you weigh? What did you eat that day? Well what did you have for dinner? Did you drink with dinner? No? Not even water? When did you drink? How much did you drink? What container did you drink out of? Who gave you the drink? How much do you usually drink? Who dropped you off at this party? At what time? But where exactly? What were you wearing? Why were you going to this party? What did you do when you got there? Are you sure you did that? But what time did you do that? What does this text mean? Who were you texting? When did you urinate? Where did you urinate?

When Turner was released from the San Jose city jail, he asked to be allowed to exit from the back of the building, where his lawyer was waiting.

His request was denied. He had to go out through the front, where all the reporters were. They made him face them. And he had to do it alone.

Thank God they didn’t let him get away with the coward’s response to duck and run.

Hillary

“I think that if you live long enough, you realize that so much of what happens in life is out of your control, but how you respond to it is in your control. That’s what I try to remember.”

What Self Is Going to Read on Christmas Day

SPOILER ALERT!

It won’t be House of Sand and Fog, that’s for sure. She almost speed-read through the last 50 pages, asking herself how these characters could be so stupid. It was tragedy with a capital T.

She always knew Kathy was sketchy. How did she know? Because Kathy was always smoking. Who does something like that?

And her boyfriend the policeman has a mustache. Who trusts a policeman with a mustache, in this day and age?

Someone is probably going to die.

And then, self will be reading, on Christmas Day, either:

  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, the true story of the murder of an American family — classic self has never read
  • The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer, an extremely thick book (1000 pages) of the life of a career criminal named Gary Gilmore

This is very light reading, so it is extremely appropriate for this season of light.

lol

And then, the first novel by Malaysian writer Tan Twan Eng, The Gift of Rain.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Café Society: Angst, But No Meltdown

Live every day like it’s your last, and one day you’ll be right.

— a character in Woody Allen’s Café Society

Why do Woody Allen’s recent movies end like that?

Why do they just seem to stop — as if the director realized he was running out of time and it would take at least an hour to untangle the mess he’s thrown his characters into but uh-oh, he doesn’t have the time or the budget so, rather than compromise with a manufactured ending, he just stops.

Sometimes, he can get away with it, but not here. No, no, no. Self refuses to accept that this ending “works.”

About the performances: Jesse Eisenberg, it’s almost a physical transformation. Is the actor really that skinny, that stooped, that — plain?

Kristen Stewart — not nearly as convincing as the California object of men’s desires. J-Law could have done this part, in her sleep. And she would have nailed it, too.

Blake Lively — her part was sooo under-written but she did her best with the little she was given.

Steve Carell — okay, you were good. So good that self hated you. Almost all the way through.

And Corey Stoll — Self knows. Corey who? But, what a performance. Scary and convincing. Watch for it.

Cinematography — aced. The settings were so beautifully framed, in almost every shot.

More later.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Elena Ferrante, pp. 112 – 113

Self went to the Victoria & Albert this morning.

About the V & A: apart from the gorgeous Chihuly in the lobby, she is not enthused over their special exhibits. Last year, she went to one on shoes, and the shoes were the kind she has seen in Manhattan, in shop windows. So why would she pay extra just to see those very same shoes in a museum?

This morning, she went to a special exhibit on Re-imagining Botticelli. Alas, the exhibit seemed rather gimmick-y. Honestly, why waste time seeing how other people interpret Botticelli when one should so clearly be looking at Botticellis themselves! She did, however, learn that after the Renaissance, Botticelli fell into obscurity and was only “rediscovered” sometime in the late 19th century, by art dealers. Also, his first name was Sandro. It got to the point where self began wondering who this Sandro Botticelli was. And only figured out later that Sandro was Botticelli. Because all these years, self has only ever heard Botticelli referred to as Botticelli. Not as Sandro Botticelli. Naturally, it had to be a British museum that referred to him by first and last name!

Anyhoo, enough of this useless prattle!

She’s back in her room reading My Brilliant Friend.

Because of the stately cadence of Ferrante’s prose, self finds herself, while reading, being lulled into a hazy, dream-like state. She thinks she is reading Remembrance of Things Past, the Italian version. Only to be confronted with the brutality of — society!  Especially, of men! For instance:

SPOILERS! HEY HO, SPOILERS!

Don Achille was murdered.

Another instance: Shortly after she enters adolescence, the narrator finds herself beset by male attention. At one point some boys in a car follow her along a street, and the boys keep inviting her to get in the car with them. Self read this scene in an absolute stupor, she didn’t realize it was dangerous, until she read this:

  • I said no because if my father found out that I had gone in that car, even though he was a good and loving man, even though he loved me very much, he would have beat me to death, while at the same time my little brothers, Peppe and Gianni, young as they were, would feel obliged, now and in the future, to try and kill the Solara brothers.

What? What? What?

From the sedate to the overwrought. There are just no rules, with regards to Ferrante’s writing.

Stay tuned.

 

Sometimes You Just Gotta Have That Chocolate Milkshake

Have dear blog readers ever tasted a lukewarm chocolate milkshake?

(Self knows, right?)

It is a hot day in Oxford, UK. Everyone strolling around, including three tourists who are attracting attention for a (fake) loud quarrel — self is pretty clued-in now to what’s fake and what’s real. All you have to do, really, is look at the person’s face. The woman who is allegedly being wronged by her two male companions has a huge, shit-eating grin on her face. She has cropped, dyed-platinum-blonde hair. She has deep brown, leathery skin. She’s wearing blue jeans and a white tank top. This makes her stand out because most of the women self sees around Oxford are of two, maybe three types: young Asian women who are extremely thin, very stylish, and very low-key; young white women who wear sneakers, cigarette jeans, and muted sweaters; older white women who dress a bit eccentrically, in floppy hats, or voluminous, bright sweaters. The strange woman keeps screaming, at the top of her voice, ruining a pleasant afternoon: LEAVE ME ALONE! ASSHOLE!

Really, self hates the drama. This is on a tiny street, where everyone’s so quiet, they all jerk their heads up and look alarmed. If self were to be truly cynical about it, which she isn’t, she might hug her purse closer to her body, just in case there is a point to this loud altercation.

Demonstrative fake quarrel aside, today self got to:

  • see a couple of Shakespeare folios
  • see the Harry Potter dining room
  • see an annotated map of Tolkien’s Middle Earth
  • check out Blackwell’s Crime & Thriller section, where she jotted down the titles of a couple of mysteries she wants to add to her reading list.
DSCN9969

An Amazing, Almost-Summer Day in Oxford, UK

Really, if a lukewarm chocolate milkshake is the worst part of self’s day, she’s had a pretty good day.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Battle Is Joined! The Battle Between the King of the Bulgarians and the King of the Abarians

Last night, self finished finished The Death of Ivan Ilyich and it was quite a letdown.

First of all, the hero dies.

Duh!

It’s right there in the title, self!

Since the book she read just prior was Dexter Filkins’ The Forever War, she is by now inured to all narratives on deaths and/or dying.

What self objected to was the reading of an entire Tolstoy story and finding herself not moved. Not in the slightest. And furthermore Tolstoy resorts to

SPOILER ALERT!!!

a very time-worn device: the moral redemption of the hero, introducing a startling revelation an hour before his death. Which in no way made the work more edifying or redemptive and which had self going WHAT?

Ivan Ilyich realizes he should just give his family peace. By dying quietly. And with this realization, the character’s black fear of dying dissipates (Just in time, too, as he’s going to die whether he likes it or not. And, Tolstoy crisply informs us, in an hour)

This was one of the rare book purchases self has made in the last few months, and it was not cheap. But, such is her annoyance at all the eminent critics who pronounced this one of the greatest works of all time, that she’s decided she’ll leave it behind when she flies out of Los Angeles. It will be her small contribution to the intellectual enrichment of whoever picks it up next.

She then began the next book on her reading list, Voltaire’s Candide (Self travels everywhere with at least three books in her suitcase. In case she finds herself out of reach of a decent bookstore. She’s a regular Girl Scout when it comes to being prepared)

This book is the complete opposite of Tolstoy’s. It is flat-out satire. The central character is a robust (and dim-witted) lad named Candide. He is a servant enamored with his employer’s 17-year-old daughter. The employer gets wind of the servant’s amorous intentions and of course does the right thing: he fires Candide.

Then Candide winds up encountering an army and in the worst case of mistaken identity ever, the soldiers force him to run a gauntlet, not once but twice, and finally when Candide’s back is flayed open like a gutted fish, he is pardoned by the King of the Bulgarians. And, what great good timing, the King of the Bulgarians is about to engage in war with the King of the Abarians, at which point Chapter 2 ends and Chapter 3 begins thus:

Nothing could be so beautiful, so smart, so brilliant, so well-drilled as the two armies. Trumpets, fifes, oboes, drums, cannons formed a harmony such as was never heard even in hell. First the cannons felled about six thousand men on each side; then the musketry removed from the best of worlds some nine or ten thousand scoundrels who infected its surface. The bayonet also was the sufficient reason for the death of some thousands of men. The whole might well amount to about thirty thousand souls. Candide, trembling like a philosopher, hid himself as best he could during this heroic butchery.

Well, well, well! Methinks Candide is not as dim-witted as he first appeared!

Stay tuned.

Grid 2: Galway & London

“We often superimpose a mental grid over things we photograph to help with composition. This week, let’s go literal.”

The Daily Post Photo Challenge, GRID

What self heard over and over in Galway was that they didn’t have a summer. It was grey throughout. Grey like today? Self thinks the city is beautiful. The rain is light.

The picture below has many different grids: the grid of the streets, of the sidewalk railings, the buildings:

Walked up this Galway Street, looking for the sea.

Walked up this Galway Street, looking for the sea.

Unfortunately, by the time self got to this wee independent bookstore, it was closed:

Galway Bookstore on the corner of Middle St. and -- ?

Galway Bookstore on the corner of Middle St. and — ?

Self is appending a link to The Daily Edge’s list of the 17 Best Independent Bookstores in Ireland.

Finally, buildings on a street off Whitechapel Road in London. Self was on a Jack the Ripper tour:

Somwhere Off Whitechapel Road, London

Somwhere Off Whitechapel Road, London

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

WSJ on Fan Films: Ready for the Next Parallel Universe

It’s no secret to self’s dear blog readers that she loves fan fiction.

Loves it.

When she finished reading The Hunger Games trilogy, she was so disappointed that there would be no more.

Since self is a very stubborn soul, she went roaming the World Wide Web and stumbled on fanfiction.net

That was two years ago. She’s been committed to Everlark (Katniss Everdeen + Peeta Mellark pairings) fan fiction ever since.

She recently went ga-ga over another trilogy, Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices. After finishing the last book of the series, Clockwork Princess, she scoured the fan fiction universe for Wessa (Will Herondale + Tessa Gray pairings).

Much to her dismay, there was hardly anything. (There were a lot of Jem Carstaris/Will Herondale pairings, though. BWAH HA HA!)

Then, she finished yet another trilogy, The 100. Her favorite character was Glass, who wasn’t even in the CW television adaptation, boo. Again self went scouring the fan fiction universe: there was nothing, zip, nada on Glass.

Tragic, so tragic!

A week ago, self bought a copy of The Wall Street Journal. There’s an article by Will Friedwald which is about Fan Films.

Fan Films are, Mr. Friedwald writes, “independently produced movies using familiar characters from iconic science-fiction and superhero franchises.”

“In the digital era,” Mr. Friedwald writes, “fan films have grown to the point where the best of them are not only incredibly sophisticated, often employing professional talent, but worthy of competing with the official product.” Many of the Fan Films, Mr. Friedwald continues, are better than epic studio disasters like Green Lantern (Ryan Reynolds starrer, 2011).

“There’s only one rule governing so-called fan films: They’re not allowed to make a profit.”

And that applies also in the fan fiction universe.

There are authors of Everlark fan fiction who have so completely channeled Jane Austen that they can produce Everlark that sounds exactly like Pride and Prejudice (Self knows because she is a teacher and she has taught Pride and Prejudice)

There is something so pure about the field of fan fiction. There’s one story she likes, Katniss Everdeen Demonhunter, which is set in Hoboken, NJ. You can actually read KED just to find out what modern Hoboken is like, self kids you not. And if you ask the author for Hoboken restaurant recommendations, she will come right back at you. That’s how self discovered that Hoboken, NJ is a really cool place.

Another of her favorites, Synth, is better than I, Robot. Seriously. It features a cyborg named KTNS-12, a scientist named Beetee, and a Junior Scientist named Peeta (And Junior Scientist Peeta is simply adorbs, clucking like a mother hen over KTNS-12). Perhaps the author of Synth is simply a bored high school student who’d rather write her imaginary universe than prepare for her biology final. If she is, then self is here to tell her that she can always write, if all else fails.

(Self just remembered one more Everlark fan fiction: Katniss is a fan fiction writer. The title of Katniss’s story was something like District 12 or The Hunger Games or something self-referential along those lines. Peeta is her beta. They have such good chemistry, they are so — symbiotic. Peeta’s beta-ing makes Katniss’s fan fiction so much better, so much more appealing to readers. So of course one day they arrange to meet. And, well, you know, Everlark happens: WOOT HOOT!)

Friedwald goes on to examine two areas where the fan film universe is particularly rich: the Star Trek universe, and the Batman universe. And he tosses off film titles like Batgirl: Spoiled and Batman: Death Wish.

Star Trek, Friedwald maintains, is “the galactic epicenter of fan fiction and films.” It’s a universe dreamt up by geeks for other geeks. It’s why the characters of Big Bang Theory are the way they are, and why J. J. Abrams and Josh Whedon have such huge followings. No one gets rich doing this, and so it is a pure realm, where people like self can gambol to their heart’s delight.

Stay tuned.

Watched “Snowpiercer”

Boy oh boy what a disappointment.

She had been so looking forward to seeing it, most of last year.

She ordered it from Netflix streaming yesterday.

And sure, Chris Evans was in it, but it didn’t have to be Chris Evans, it could just have been any guy with a beard, because he was totally camouflaged under crummy grey outfits, for the entire movie.

And the lighting was very dark, which often made it hard for self to distinguish who was who.

Self did get a big kick out of Tilda Swinton as Mason, though. Talk about a unique career trajectory: She broke self’s heart in We Need to Talk About Kevin, she was a great and fearsome angel in Constantine (directed by FLAW — Francis “Hunger Games/Catching Fire” Lawrence). She has just been a consistently interesting actress. Who would have thought? She’s very odd-looking.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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