FOR Lens-Artists Photo Challenge # 62: SILHOUETTES

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge # 62: SILHOUETTES

Silhouettes “are a marvelous technique to add to your photographic repertoire because they can add drama, mystery, emotion, and atmosphere to your photos.”

Can they ever. Self’s favorite types of shots are silhouettes.

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A Little Past Midnight, Jollibee Drive-Thru, Manila

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Reading Nook, Self’s House in Redwood City, California. The lamp is one of her favorites: She bought it several years ago from Harvest, a furniture store in Menlo Park.

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Menchit Ongpin, wearing jewelry of her own design, at a dinner with former college classmates, Fely J’s, Greenbelt 5, Makati. Self asked Menchit to turn her head so she could capture her in  silhouette.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Quote of the Day: BRAZILLIONAIRES

Anyone with a little bit of money can buy a Louis Vuitton handbag, of which thousands are manufactured each year. Very few people can buy the new Jeff Koons, even if they do have the tens of millions of dollars required.

Brazillionaires, p. 29

Self’s question is: Why would anyone want to buy a Jeff Koons? A Koons was in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence when self was there with her niece, Irene, last November. It was placed right next to a Michelangelo and it was ugly. Hope it was only a temporary installation.

(Side note: In Florence, on the road to the Santa Maria del Fiori, you will pass a McDonald’s. Which was always packed. Self just could not understand it. When all around were great, really great local restaurants. It must be the convenience.)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

TRASH: Sylvain Landry Week 32 Photo Challenge

Self is participating in this week’s Sylvain Landry Photo Challenge. The theme is TRASH.

She looked through her thousands of pictures and came up with something she photographed during her November 2015 trip to Florence, her first time in that beautiful city. A picture of a McDonald’s! Which she passed almost every day on her way to some museum or other with her intrepid niece, Irene!

Self isn’t all that down on McDonald’s, but every time she sees one, especially if it’s in an awesomely beautiful place like Florence, she gets somewhat discouraged. Because why would anyone want to eat in McDonald’s when there’s so much (good) local food available?

So the McDonald’s in Florence is her metaphorical image of TRASH.

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Florence, Italy: November 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Miami, FL: Noir-ish

Traveling again.  Now, self is in Miami.  There was a brief stop-over in Atlanta, which was warm.

Pale blue scarf, bought it two years ago, in San Luis Obispo.

Pale blue scarf, bought two years ago, in San Luis Obispo.  Took it off in Atlanta — the airport was WARM.

About Atlanta:  From the air, the sight of trees in all their fall riot of color was heart-stopping.  The light slanted a certain way (It was mid-afternoon).  The land looked lovely, reminding her of some areas of Virginia.  Manassas?  Alexandria?

Self saw her first “Sean Jean” shop, in the Delta concourse.  The clothes were like Gap meets Levis.

She tried the bacon and cheese fries from Nathan’s.  It was bigger than a triple decker and was so goo-ey.  But the large glass of lemonade (95 cents) was DIVINE.

Now, ensconced in the Doubletree behind the Hilton in downtown Miami, self confesses to wee disappointment:  the lobby and restaurants are very swank, but the rooms themselves — well, the corridors run here and there, like a warren, and the carpeting is tacky and old.  The color theme is BROWN.  Self grabbed a bottle of water, opened it, and then saw (too late, as usual) the sign:  Each small bottle of water is $2.95.  The wi-fi has to be paid for.

The Man insisted on renting a car, and the hotel charges a parking fee of $29.  “Do we REALLY need a car?” self asked the man.  “Can’t we just WALK AROUND?” “Well,” The Man said, “We can’t WALK to South Beach, can we?” Self wonders why he always seems to have an arsenal of these quips, which leave her tongue-tied.  Of course!  South Beach!  It would be CRAZY to be in Miami and not experience South Beach!

To add insult to injury, The Man demanded that self trundle along the GPS navigator that brother-in-law gave us in 2008.  When he logged the hotel address into the device, it could never “lock on”:  It kept trying to give directions to the hotel starting from REDWOOD CITY, CALIFORNIA.  Also, he engaged the clerk at Budget Car Rental TOO LONG in conversation, wondering aloud whether he should or should not get insurance.

Also, he went by himself to have dinner and found an Argentinian restaurant somewhere in the hotel that served huge steaks and good Malbeq (Self doesn’t even know how to spell Malbeq.  She never even heard of Malbeq until this evening.  She doesn’t know how The Man was able to figure out there was an excellent Argentinian restaurant on the premises.  She’s getting EXTREMELY hungry just typing this)

Self has just started reading Michael Connelly’s The Lincoln Lawyer, and suddenly it strikes her that this is the PERFECT book to be reading in this hotel, in Miami.  The place (what she’s seen of it so far) is so noir.  Excellent convergence!  Maybe self will even be inspired to write a noir-ish story while she is here.

Isn’t Carl Hiaasen from these parts?  Maybe she will bump into Mr. Hiaasen at the Miami Book Fair!  Self hurriedly googles the Miami Book Fair Schedule of Author Events.  Apparently, highlights occur on Saturday.  There are some authors self loves, like Nathaniel Philbrick.  Like Sharon Olds.  Like Dave Barry.  But there is no Carl Hiaasen, boo.

Here’s a picture of the hotel room.  She wonders who did the large painting, somewhat reminiscent of an Olazo:

Doubletree Hotel, 1717 N. Bayshore Drive, Miami

Doubletree Hotel, 1717 N. Bayshore Drive, Miami

She was feeling resigned to the room until she started heating some water in a coffee cup and (too late, again!) saw a black spot at the bottom of the cup.  Something like a bug.  Hopefully not a spider.  Eeeeek!!!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Simply Confounding!

Today, prompted by all the Christmas decorations that have been displayed at Costco for the past month, self decided to direct her thoughts towards the future.

For once, this was not about her writing, where is it going, etc

This was about

WHAT.  ARE.  WE.  GOING.  TO.  EAT.  NEXT.

Self bought two large bags of candy from Grocery Outlet —  pats on the back, they totaled less than $10.

Then, she directed her thoughts towards Thanksgiving.

For weeks —  no, months —  self has been debating whether she should try cooking a whole turkey, or settle for one of those pre-cooked turkey breasts that they sell in Honeybaked Ham (getting further and further away each year:  there used to be a branch in Belmont, that closed.  Then there used to be one in Town & Country shopping center at the corner of Embarcadero and El Camino.  That, too, closed.  Now the nearest Honeybaked store is all the way in south Palo Alto).

There will be no one coming for Thanksgiving.  No one.  Except for self of course, and The Man.  If he happens to be awake.

Therefore, self better take it easy with the orders.  Or she might explode after ingesting all those leftovers.

She has heard of the fabulous deep-fried turkey from Popeye’s.  This delectable item is especially popular among her Filipino friends.  The cost for a whole turkey is around $40.

But, last year, she remembered the long lines of people picking up pre-cooked turkeys at Gracie’s Delectables in San Carlos.  So, this afternoon, she decided to place an order.  Only to be met with this message on their website:

SORRY.  THE DEADLINE TO PLACE ORDERS HAS PASSED.

Nooooo!!!!

What gives, it is only the first week of October!!!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

For Those Who Find Themselves Adrift in America

Here are some sure-fire things you can do to enhance your American life:

  • Eat.  Develop rolls and rolls of jelly fat.  America is # 1 place for hamburger, steak, and fast food.  Why knock it?  Just close your eyes and enjoy it.  The most fattening food imaginable are:  fro-yo; Coke;  and anything from Popeye’s.  French fries are also good:  the best are from The Counter or Hayes Street Grill in San Francisco.  Go to a diner or, even better, many diners.  Make sure you wear shorts, exhibit your thigh ripples, and BE PROUD!  This is America!  Belly rolls are a badge of honor in the ‘burbs!
  • Pamper your pooch.  Dogs are an American’s best friend.  Lose yourself in Petco.  Take classes to improve your dog grooming skills.
  • Read.  You will not have one million relatives knocking at your door or texting.  No one will know if you disappear into the library for days.  Weeks.  Months.  No one will notice.  Trust self.  Be trés geeky.  Lug around Crime and Punishment.  Better yet, lug around Vol. 6 of Edward Gibbons’ Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.  Tacitus may be an acceptable substitute.  Especially if hardcover.
  • Watch “trash TV.”  Some of self’s favorites:  America’s Next Top Model, The Real Housewives of New York City, The Real Housewives of Orange County.  Or watch the SYFY channel:  last night, self watched a movie where Ryan Reynolds, a vaguely Eliza Dushku-looking woman, and three American brats get sucked into the evil para-normal vibes of a quaint country house (“Amityville Horror”).  Self thinks one of the brats was a very very young Chloe Moretz.  Or perhaps one can go the more classy route and watch “Warehouse 13.”  (One need not go as low as “The World According to Paris.”)
  • Watch Steven Colbert and Jon Stewart and fancy yourself trés cool.  Or Letterman, if you can understand him.  Do NOT EVER stoop to watching Leno.
  • If you are a writer like self, send out, to at least 20 magazines a day.  Make the post office clerks (usually Filipina, a boon) your BFFs.  Think of what you can do with all those rejection slips!  Make wall art, wrap dog doo doo (though this may be difficult:  some rejection slips, post-recession, are about 1/4 the size of an index card), use to dab your greasy lips post-French Fry consumption, dab over bacon strips to absorb grease, shred and use as confetti at a friend’s wedding, use the reverse side to write telephone messages, or pin to your summer linen blazer as some kind of statement.  The sky’s the limit!
  • Watch Ryan Reynolds movies.  Watch Woody Allen movies.  Watch Owen Wilson movies.  Watch Sandra Bullock movies.  Watch Naomi Watts movies.  Watch Will Ferrell movies.  Or watch all Zack Snyder movies (starting, of course, with “300”).  Watch “X-Men:  First Class,” over and over —  the multiplex is probably a lot cooler than your apartment.  Pay meticulous attention to every bulge on Michael Fassbender’s arms.
  • Get all fired up for the Fourth of July.  Prepare red, white, and blue outfit.
  • Garden.  Gardening, while not exactly the best way to lose weight, will make you feel productive.
  • Keep withdrawing cash from the ATM.  Never look at your bank balance.  Make daily withdrawals a practice in self-discipline.  Then, write about a writer who goes bananas and pretends he/she is rich.  Sell or self-publish.  Get a facebook page for manuscript.  “Friend” at least 200 people, only the ones who are cool.  This means excluding people who knew you in high school.  You’ll always be a loser to those people, even if you’ve had Botox and/or a face lift.

And now, self would just like to add that she is absolutely devastated by the discovery that Heather Havrilesky, one of self’s favorite writers, is no longer writing for Salon.com.  Dismay!  Anger!  Shock!  Self only found out yesterday, but apparently Heather’s been gone since December!  (Heather, the only good reason for leaving your loyal fans in the lurch would be because you are writing a book.  It will never quite make up for the big gap that you left in self’s television viewing life —  the only reason self didn’t notice earlier is because she was still in the thick of her personal Bacolod epic in December and January —  but at least self can fantasize that you are now on your way to becoming a Rich Famous Author.  Which you absolutely deserve to become, Heather.  Truly)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Self’s Goose Is Cooked!

No, not really. Self, let’s face it:  sometimes you are just tooo pessimistic.

To put herself in a better frame of mind, self decides to draw up a list of the good things that have happened to her this evening:

Good Thing # 1

Shortly after she began a post, the phone rang:   it turned out to be hubby. “I’ll be home in half an hour,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

Fourth Friday of July 2009: A Status Report

It is a little past 2 p.m. in the Western hemisphere. In the little corner of earth self happens to occupy at this moment. This is turning out to be another good day, dear blog readers. Not because self has been Read the rest of this entry »

A History of the Hamburger: As Told in (What Else?) The Economist Review of THE HAMBURGER: A HISTORY

(Gone: “Today, Friday, 16 May 2008”)

It is too hot, much much too hot. Self isn’t sure, but she thinks she heard a neighbor yell at hubby to stop blowering. Self held her breath, but this (perhaps imaginary) altercation was followed only by the dead-est silence, and then the sound of the lawn mower.

In the meantime, self is in the bedroom with the blinds closed. After a (lousy) breakfast at Breakers Cafe (chile omelet, with one thin slice of avocado on top, three dollops of sour cream), self fell into leaden sleep. When she awoke, the street outside was filled with the most intense, blinding heat, and all the hydrangeas’ leaves were curling.

Self opens The Economist of 26 April (still behind in her reading: yes, she knows) and finds this on p. 107:

“The Big Bite”: a review of The Hamburger: A History, by Josh Ozersky

This entertaining and informative book, which traces the burger’s evolution from working man’s snack during the Depression to symbol of American corporatism, is nothing less than a brief history of America in the 20th century.

Like many stories, this one starts long, long ago, with a castle. This castle had five-cent hamburgers instead of princesses, and rather than being in an enchanted forest, it was in Wichita, Kansas.

An ambitious fry-cook named Walter Anderson opened White Castle in 1921. He did not invent the hamburger (this book wisely steers around that controversy); he merely standardised its production, cooking dozens of pre-weighted, pre-shaped burgers at once on a dedicated griddle, and serving them on specially designed buns. The friendly grillman in a white paper hat, amicably chatting with customers as he formed meat into a patty and slapped it onto the grill next to cheese sandwiches and omelettes, gave way to the kitchen as assembly line, and the cook as infinitely replaceable technician.

The article goes on to describe with great exactitude the dimensions of a classic burger, as defined by yet another “genius” businessman, Ray Kroc: It must weigh 1.6 ounces and span 3 and 5/8 inches. It is “garnished with a quarter of an ounce of chopped onion, a teaspoon of mustard, a tablespoon of ketchup and a pickle slice” no larger than one inch in diameter.

Fascinating, simply fascinating.

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