Ouch! Poor Head! And Other of Self’s Friday Foolishness

It is Friday night.  Spent it at home, as usual.  Reading.

There was a bit more excitement today than usual, since self kept at least one of her appointments (for acupuncture) and felt the delicious pain of needles in the webbed skin between her fingers.  She keeps telling the acupuncturist that she has insomnia, but the acupuncturist looks increasingly skeptical. And self can’t bring herself to say outright that shortly after the treatment begins, she just wants to maybe pass out from sheer relaxation. Starts snoring. Almost rolls over, even with needles sticking out of her shoulders and hands.

After that, it was — oh woe is me!  Does she or does she not stick to her Beginning Yoga class?

Last week was fine, but the people taking the class were definitely not beginners.  The instructor came over to talk to self, and self told her, “I don’t even know what legs are.  Seriously.”  The instructor asked self if she had ever taken yoga before, and self said, “Yes.  When my son was about five. And I haven’t had any regular exercise since then.  Unless you count gardening.” The instructor was very encouraging, but self kept protesting that she was really, really hopeless — “What? Me? Don’t be fooled by externals. I’m a wilting flower.” Just the thought of taking another class was giving her hives, practically.  So she walked into the yoga place and told the woman there that she’d do a make-up class on Saturday.  And the woman handed self a schedule of classes, and the woman said she’d recommend the Vinyasa Flow class.  Hmmm, self thought.  Vinyasa Flow sounds infinitely better than Beginning Yoga.  She told the woman yes, she’d try Vinyasa Flow.  And as soon as The Man came home and self was assured she had a listener (albeit unwilling), she tried saying Vinyasa Flow. And kept repeating it, all through the evening.  Vinyasa Flow.  Vinyasa Flow.  And was so satisfied with her pronunciation and everything.  Felt like an expert.  Vinyasa Flow.

Then she unfortunately stumbled into Crouching Tiger to order take-out, and even though there was no one else there, they told her it would be 20 minutes before her order was ready.  And Pickled, the women’s clothing boutique, is right next to Crouching Tiger.

Self picked out a couple of things from the Sale racks.  Another customer was getting extreme attention.  Self glanced at her.  Blonde.  Jeans.  Nothing great.  Cool.

Self tried on tops.  Hoooly Cow!  Looks like it wasn’t such a good idea to flake out on Yoga Class!  The muffin belly was clearly in evidence.  Honestly, it’s been almost six months since self entered a fitting room, six months, it turns out, of complete and total denial.

But — too late now!  Armed with a feeling of rebellion, self emerged and told the woman what she would really love to try on were jeans.  Quick as a wink, the woman returned with two pairs of skinny jeans.

Skinny jeans?  How could anyone look at self and think she would look good in skinny jeans?

Besides, isn’t self a tad old to be wearing skinny jeans?

Nevertheless, self was bold.  She tried on the first pair.  Ooooh, these jeans were stretchy.  Looked at herself in the mirror.  For some reason, she looked less fat.  Or was that just a result of her writerly imagination, always ready to put a positive spin on the narrative script?  This is why self should stick to speculative fiction.

Anyhoo, the skinny jeans were soooo slimming.  She felt — no, actually looked like Rod Stewart in his heyday.  Or mebbe like Jagger.  This was the era of the late 70s. Maybe early 80s.

Wearing skinny jeans almost made self feel like prancing.  Actually, prancing.

It is really, really hard to be serious when one is wearing skinny jeans.  Self, straight to disco!  Karaoke bar, hello!

And maybe that’s what self really needs:  something to take her away from the Pain!  Pain as in — after endlessly reading and re-reading The Hunger Games books (instead of plowing ahead with Divergent, which she first cracked open two weeks ago), self has decided that the best is still the first.  It’s the best because Peeta is so wonderful.  In Catching Fire, the second book, the Peeta of Book 1 is replaced by an infinitely less interesting Passive Aggressive Peeta.  And Katniss is so Not-Herself.  She’s not making any hard decisions, or even any decisions, just dithering around, feeling mostly empty and unfulfilled.

It needed a kidnapping by the Capitol to make possible yet another Peeta Transformation.  This 3rd Peeta is an improvement over the second Peeta, but still in no way close to the First Peeta, the one who got stuck with Katniss in a cave, and instead of dying became — ascendant!  Like the Phoenix!  If only he’d stayed that way instead of becoming the Wounded Bird of book 2!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Juxtaposition 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

January, 2012.  Self was in Bir, a village in Himachal Pradesh. She looked up Dharamsala. Hired a car and driver to take her up there.

The driver was a Tibetan who only spoke a smattering of English.

Self had no idea where she would stay when she got to Dharamsala. But she had looked up a few possibilities on Tripadvisor the night before. That was how she found the Snow Crest Inn.

The air was thin. Self was short of breath. It was freezing cold.

The mountains were massive. Self had no idea. Absolutely no idea.

What does this have to do with this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge?

Everything. Because when you live surrounded by such majesty, how can one avoid thinking of the spirit?

The Snow Crest Inn was managed by two brothers, who traded off accompanying her to town every day (Self stayed in Dharamsala five nights).  One day, upon returning from town, one of the brothers asked the one who had accompanied self:  “You went to the market?  What did she buy?” And the other brother replied:  “Just some old stuff.”


View from self's room at the Snow Crest Inn, Dharamsala, January 2012

View from self’s room at the Snow Crest Inn, Dharamsala, January 2012

View from a Monastery, Dharamsala, January 2012

View from a Monastery, Dharamsala, January 2012

And here’s a picture that self took some years ago. She’s thinking of her Dear Departed Sister, Paz. Who died of pneumonia in 1991, in New York City.

She was a vice president in Citibank. Why has it taken self so long to think about subscribing to Granta again? Why?

By chance, the book just above the issues of Granta is one of her favorites: Maryse Condé’s The Children of Segu (Segu is the fictitious name Condé gave to her native Mali).  The book next to Granta is The May Fourth Movement:  Intellectual Revolution in Modern China, by Chow Tse-Tung, a required text in one of her Chinese history classes at Stanford.

Personal Bookshelf:  In the 1980s, self's Dear Departed Sis gave her a subscription to GRANTA. (Just above the magazine is a book by one of self's favorite writers:  Maryse Condé.

Personal Bookshelf: In the 1980s, self’s Dear Departed Sis gave her a subscription to GRANTA. (Just above the magazine is a book by one of self’s favorite writers: Maryse Condé.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Justified 5.4: Still Great

Can it really be five years since self had her first electrifying glimpse of Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens?  Self never missed an episode of Season 1 and Season 2. She watched most of Season 3 (The end of Neil McDonough’s character: classic) and Season 4 (She thought there’d be something between the preacher’s sister and Tim Gutterson.  Self is such an incurable romantic!).

No way was she missing Season 5.  Especially not since they announced this was the penultimate season. Noooo!

Self has a Read the rest of this entry »

The RWS of the Day from BLGF: “Split I”

On the Croatians of Split, a city on the Adriatic coast:

“. . .  better laugh at yourself before anybody else has time to do it . . .  I suppose it comes of being watched all the time by people who thought they were better than you . . . people here are not rich, but they have considerable elegance.” (Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, pp. 141 – 142)

Coming next:  Chapters on Split II, Salonae, and Split III.

*          *          *          *          *

Last night, since it is The Man’s birthday in a few days, self treated him to dinner at Van’s, the throwback restaurant of all throwback restaurants, where they still serve 2-lb. steaks, ridiculously good garlic mashed potatoes, prime rib, rack of lamb, pork chops, calf liver and other gustatory delights of the bygone 40s or 50s.  In times past, we have manfully partaken of the 2-lb. porterhouse, but last night The Man, who is trying to watch his weight, settled for an under-a-lb. cut of New York steak.  Despite the more manageable portion, The Man still looked quite green by the end of the night.  Self can honestly say she has never seen The Man look that way before.  She knows he was feeling “off” because he actually consented to have her drive.  But that could have been the martini combined with the glass of red wine.  He parked at a steep angle (Van’s is up the side of a hill in Belmont) and when self tried to back out, the car instead went forward.  Directly ahead (and below) was a motel sign saying, Goodbye and Goodnight. At that point, self decided she’d rather have The Man assume the responsibility for crashing, at least it would be something she could throw in his face, and not vice versa.  So we changed places, and self closed her eyes, and after a jolt forward and a mighty shudder, the car did indeed move away from the precipice, and we were able to at last make it home, though she did wonder why The Man zoomed ahead on all the yellow lights.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

IN THE SHADOW OF MAN Friday Quote of the Day (p. 72)

Some things self finds slightly disturbing:  The first time Goodall tries to get close to the chimpanzees, they avoid her.  By the time her sister joins her, 18 months later, the chimpanzees are far less skittish.  And by the time a professional photographer, Hugo van Lawick, joins Goodall to film a documentary on the chimpanzees, they “took a relatively short time to accept” him.  One (who the author named “David Graybeard”) would even “leave his group and come to see whether by any chance we had a banana.” (p. 72)

So by now, self thinks it is safe to say that all the chimpanzees in that area of Tanzania are thoroughly acclimated to interacting with humans, receiving bananas and what-not.

Is that good?  Is it really possible to “domesticate” a wild animal like a chimpanzee?  What happens when you run out of bananas?

Here are the names of the first set of chimpanzees that Goodall befriends:  David, William, and Goliath.  They start visiting camp regularly.  Goodall “soon discovered that they loved chewing on cloth and cardboard; sweaty garments, presumably because of their salty flavor, were the most sought after.”

What happens eventually is that — as self could have predicted — Goodall and van Lawick begin to form an attachment to one another (Put two young, unmarried people in the same tent in the Tanzanian rain forest, and see what happens!).  It was all the doing of Goodall’s patron, Louis B. Leakey who, not content with a) getting the National Geographic Society to fund Goodall’s research; and b) getting her accepted to Cambridge University (“Louis had managed to get me admitted to Cambridge University to work for a Ph.D. in ethology, the study of human behavior.” — p. 63), must also find her a husband.  Leakey enthusiastically wrote to a friend of Goodall’s — before Hugo van Lawick and Jane Goodall had even met — that he had “found someone just right as a husband for Jane.”

Oh!  So very Hunger Games!

Who knew the renowned archaeologist would take such an interest in Goodall’s private life!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

June 2012 Cover of The Guardian

The rise of Matthew McConaughey.

Apologies for blogging so much about actors and actresses, dear blog readers.  But the Golden Globes are taking place this coming weekend.

Moreover, she’s been reading Joe Morgenstern’s “The Year’s Top Performers” article, in the Wall Street Journal of 3 January 2014.

Morgenstern writes:  “My favorite performance this year concentrated a universe of bewilderment and self-delusion in the person of a once-vibrant woman and, not incidentally, constituted a master class in how great acting is done.”

More from Morgenstern:  “Surely the most spectacular reinvention — self-reinvention — by an actor last year was accomplished by Matthew McConaughey.  Over the course of almost two decades he’d done extremely well with playing handsome young men with sharp edges to their psyches, men who often found reason to remove their shirts.  Then came his electrifying 2012 appearance as a malign club owner in Magic Mike.”

Self would not really go so far as to call McConaughey’s acting in Magic Mike “electrifying,” but she will say this:  One Sunday in June 2012, she descended from her room on an upper floor of Hawthornden, saw the Sunday Guardian on the hall table (people were always trying to be the first to get to it), went to the Sunday magazine and saw on the cover:  shirtless Matthew McConaughey, in a cowboy hat, one arm extended to the ceiling.  HOOOLY MOLY!!!!  Self could not wait to get back to the States so she could see Magic Mike!

Another thing about the Morgenstern article?  He has nice things to say about Rescue Dawn.  Self just added the film to her Netflix queue.

And BTW, last night’s premiere episode of Justified Season 5 was excellent.  Had self drooling all over again.  No one can rock blue jeans like Timothy Olyphant.  Plus there was a moving tribute to Elmore Leonard from the cast (All hail, Tim O, rocking the thread bracelets and long hair) and producer.  It was very moving.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Pairings Battles: Who Will Win?

This is total fluff, but anyhoo, since self seems to be on a roll, she will just keep on posting (that is, until The Man gets home and imposes some order on self’s abysmally dis-ordered mental state):

Hypable’s Battleships Pairings Tournament is down to the semi-finals, so if you feel inclined to pitch your hat in favor of either of the following pairings:

  • Bella/Edward
  • Brienne/Jaime


(An early round had Nick/Gatsby and Frodo/Sam.  At some point, did any blog readers wonder if Haymitch and Effie could possibly have some outside-of-the-games romance?  Honestly, the way Haymitch rolls his eyes at Effie leads self to think the man has got to be in love — BWAH. HA. HAAA!)

Apologies, dear blog readers.  Once again, self has gotten side-tracked from the original impulse which caused her to think of posting.  Which is that:  After much slogging, self has clawed her way to PAGE 214 of Henry M. Stanley’s 536-page How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa.  YEEESSS!  In between p. 1 and p. 214, self:

  • Ate a whole lemon meringue pie.
  • Watched her Netflix movie rental, Boy A, and developed admiration for Andrew Garfield.
  • Found out her short story “Sofia” will be in Philippine Speculative Fiction, vol. 9.
  • Got very, very sick.
  • Attended a New Year’s Eve lunch in Menlo Park.
  • Watched Stanford lose in the Rose Bowl.
  • Went to town on take-out from Sam’s Chowder House in downtown Palo Alto.
  • Saw “Frozen.”
  • Read five back issues of The Economist.
  • Discontinued her subscription to The New York Times Book Review.

There were also relaxing activities like:  watering, watching birds in the backyard, watching Dr. Oz, and watching Saturday Night Live re-runs.  Self just realized:  things are so much clearer when one is sick.  Self had no idea how beneficial forced home incarceration/rest can be for the mental faculties.  For one thing, she got to read everything about Mockingjay.  Now she knows that Katniss first mentions Peeta’s name on p. 5.  P. 5!  Holy cow, girl!  Can’cha get with the program already!

On p. 214 of How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa, Henry M. Stanley develops a severe case of malaria.  While he is feverish and thus incapacitated, his porters take the opportunity to abandon him.  All except for one, an “Arab” named Selim.

I asked Selim, “Why did you not also run away, and leave your master to die?”

“Oh, sir,” said the Arab boy, naively, “I was afraid you would whip me.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Self, What Is Going On?

Seriously, self, you must have been over-medicating with over-the-counter Robitussin because this evening, after spending the whole day in your pajamas and convincing yourself not to buy Mockingjay because the movie Part I hasn’t even come out yet, you have just spent the past two hours rocking the web in search of quotes from Mockingjay and in the meantime, the Henry M. Stanley book on how he found Livingstone in central Africa (which is — let’s just call a spade a spade — a classic, not a YA science fiction thriller, wouldn’t your Stanford mentors be disappointed to learn how, after all that research, all that learning, all that academic training, this is how you ended up, in your jammies on a Monday night, slurping Robitussin and scouring the web for mentions of hijacked Peeta . . . )

Where was she?

Oh yes, the hijacked Peeta thing.

Well, she’s given up.  After extreme and tenacious digging, she has discovered the most ridiculous passage of all time.  Here it is, word for word, from Chapter 20 of Mockingjay.  Self must remind dear blog readers that the following involves of course HUGE HUGE SPOILERS FOR REALS (See, this is what happens when you spend too much time with Team Peeta shippers on Tumbler — you begin to sound like a Team Peeta shipper on Tumbler):

Castor and Pollux

(Wait, has self inadvertently landed in the middle of Greek mythology?  Because as far as she can remember, there was no Castor or Pollux in the future times.  Those were characters from the ancient times.  Self knows that in the future times — which is the time of The Hunger Games — boys only have ridiculous names like Peeta.  But, onward!)

Castor and Pollux carry in a writhing Peeta between them

(WHY is Peeta writhing?  Oh!  Mebbe he was caught stalking Katniss — ?)

Castor and Pollux carry in a writhing Peeta between them.  Somehow Jackson gets cuffs on him

(WHO is this Jackson?  Why is he mixed up with Castor and Pollux?  Oh help!)

Castor and Pollux carry in a writhing Peeta between them.  Somehow Jackson gets cuffs on him, but it only makes him wilder

(At this point, self thinks “wilder” Peeta may not be an entirely bad thing . . . )

Somehow Jackson gets cuffs on him, but it only makes him wilder and they’re forced to lock him in a closet.

Peeta . . . wild . . . handcuffed . . .  locked in a closet . . .

Oh, self’s poor brain!

Peeta . . . wild . . . handcuffed . . . locked in a closet . . .

For REALS?  Noooooo — !

But self’s protests are for naught.  Indeed, self, you have just wasted two hours of your life that you will NEVER get back.  And all because you needed to see for yourself where it all ends . . . in a closet, in a deep dark night, with the handcuffs, and . . .

Seriously, from where did this magical closet come from?  Did it walk right out to where Katniss and the members of her crack team were launching their assault?

Self is confused as to whether this was a real assault, or whether it was just a “pretend assault,” (for propo purposes).  If the latter, then it would make sense that props have been arranged.  Props such as, for example, the very convenient closet.

But something in self’s brain rebels at the image.  Why couldn’t Peeta have been roped to a tree?  Or a fire hydrant?  Or even to a whipping post, like hunka-hunka Gale was in Catching Fire?  Why DID PEETA HAVE TO BE FLUNG INTO — of all things — A CLOSET?  It is a very, very diminishing image.  So — unflattering, frankly.  After this, can Peeta ever be taken seriously as a legitimate love interest for Katniss?  Self thinks not.  Was Collins laying the groundwork for Katniss’s pledging herself unequivocally to Gale?  Probs.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

ONE # 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

First, a digression:  Today, self and The Man went to see the first screening of American Hustle.

J-Law is just a-DO-rable!  Simply adorable!

Amy Adams was of course hot.

Bradley Cooper was the exact same speeded-up dude he played in Silver Linings Playbook.  Only this time, he was an FBI agent.  Many of the funniest scenes in the movie were his.

But Christian Bale.  CHRISTIAN BALE.  Since self had just seen him in Out of the Furnace, she couldn’t quite wrap her mind about this new Christian Bale iteration.  But — he was magnificent.  And also the only member of the cast whose Noo Joi-sey accent was firmly in place, from first to last.

The accent thing was quite a crucial thing in this movie.  Alas, self has finally spotted a chink in the J-Law persona:  Her accent was the messiest in the movie.  But self feels so chary in pointing this out.  For J-Law has the most hilarious scene with an exploding microwave.  Not to mention, she brings such vulnerability to her role.

And now to — the ONE!

Breakfast # 1 at Broiler Express in San Carlos: 1 egg, 1 pancake, and a strip of bacon.  All for $3.95!

Breakfast # 1 at Broiler Express in San Carlos: 1 egg, 1 pancake, and a strip of bacon. All for $3.95!

After the movie, we went to The Man’s favorite breakfast place:  Broiler Express on Laurel Street in San Carlos.

This time, when they brought her order, the pancake had mouse ears!


Self’s pancake never had mouse ears before!

This was the very first time!

Self’s face broke out in a huge grin, she just couldn’t help it.  And the waiter was grinning, too.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


Addendum for Sunday, 29 December 2013:

Have not agreed much with Dear Eric lately, but am resurrecting this weeks-old post because the quote from Plutarch Heavensbee (scroll all the way down) is so heavenly, and I’ve been mentioning it like mad, esp on Facebook!

*     *     *     *     *

Eric D. Snider can be so much fun to quote.  She hasn’t quoted him in a while, though.  Self owes him her deepest deepest gratitude for apprising her of the excellence of the following films:

  • How To Train Your Dragon
  • From Paris With Love (which is still self’s FAVORITE Jonathan Rhys Meyers movie, she kids you not!  She says this totally without irony)
  • The Raid:  Redemption (Self’s first Indonesian movie.  She gives it five stars!  She adores over-the-top, cheeky violence!)

If not for Eric D. Snider, self might have been suckered into seeing such high-quality cinematic products as:

  • The Counselor
  • Ender’s Game (At one point, Sole Fruit of Her Loins was very into this series by Orson Scott Card)
  • Last Vegas

But no!  Because of Eric D. Snider, self has now and then managed to hang on to ten bucks and two hours!  And, since life is short, she would never be able to get those back.  NEVER!

Today, self has endless free time.  Christmas is not yet here, and no one is coming to visit.  The day is yet young:  self has (so far) filled up her time with hanging Christmas decorations and writing Christmas cards.  If one were to ask self what the best use of her time would be at this moment, she might respond that if she were not able to write, or were not in the mood to write, she would be in the downtown Century 20, watching Hunger Games: Catching Fire for the fourth time.

But since self believes in “moderation in all things,” she has decided to go scarf up her copies of The Hunger Games books, which she hasn’t actually laid eyes on in at least two years.  She goes hunting all over son’s room, and cannot for the life of her remember where to look.  She hopes she didn’t leave them in Bacolod.

Anyhoo, Eric D. Snider has reviewed Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and instead of sharing his entire review, self will zoom in on a quote from Plutarch Heavensbee that he includes in his review (You know, if self didn’t know any better, she’d almost think the entire Hunger Games trilogy was a satire, a cheeky thing to be played strictly for laughs.  Especially when characters have names like “Peeta” who is a baker — tell self you didn’t immediately think of pita bread! — and Effie Trinket — Did you not think the name could be referring to something like: “This is just EFFING hilarious!”)

Our man Plutarch has decided to ask Katniss for a dance.  They’re twirling around a ballroom, making small talk.  It’s the kind of thing Natalie Dormer’s character in the TV series Game of Thrones (Margaery Tyrell) does so well.  While looking very poised and serene, she manages to produce words that function something like razor points.  So Plutarch is saying to Katniss:  “It’s appalling.  Still, if you abandon your moral judgement, it can be fun.”

Is that a direct quote from the book?  If it is, Suzanne Collins needs to be congratulated.  Because, as Eric D. Snider says, it “is true of so many things.”  (BTW, only an actor as skilled as Philip Seymour Hoffman could inject that line with the right amount of sarcasm.  Oh, the delivery, the delivery!)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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