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.

Daniel Mendelsohn Reviews “Game of Thrones,” the TV Series, for The New York Review of Books

In the November 7, 2013 issue of The New York Review of Books (which self began subscribing to last year, after she was exposed to its excellence at Hawthornden), Daniel Mendelsohn, one of the Review’s regular contributors, reviews the television adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones epic. Heaven, self is in heaven!

But before she begins quoting from the excellent and meticulous review, she would just like to mention that The Man casually made reference to the fact that “Game of Thrones” the TV series, was airing in January 2014.  This is approximately two months earlier than self expected.  Are you sure, are you sure, she asked The Man, over and over.  The Man insists it’s a fact.  Also, he adds, the new season of Justified is airing at around the same time.

Self’s ecstasy knows no bounds.

Last season (Season 2), self thrilled to the growing friendship of Brienne of Tarth and “Ser” Jaime Lannister, whooped when he rescued the maiden from a duel with an ornery bear, and rejoiced in the hot tub scenes.  She was, frankly, bored with Daenerys/Khaleesi, who became more and more Christ-like with each episode.  But self began to notice minor characters, like Khaleesi’s gorgeous handmaiden, and the one-eyed Hound, and a very unlikely pair named Sam and Gilly.

Anyhoo, Mendelsohn cheerfully establishes his “Game of Thrones” cred, in about the 30th paragraph of his long essay:  “I read each of the first three novels in a few days, happily addicted.”  Oh, BTW, son claims to have read everything by George R. R. Martin.  Self was so happy to hear this.  Martin is a great improvement over the last “cult” author son was into:  Dan Brown.

Mendelsohn begins his review thus:

. . .  a refugee princess — she is fourteen years old but already a widow, has silver hair and purple eyes, and happens to be part dragon — stands exhausted before the walls of a fabulous, vaguely Babylonian citadel called Qarth.  The last surviving scion of the deposed ruling family of a faraway land called Westeros, she has led a ragtag band of followers through the desert in the hopes of finding shelter here — and, ultimately, of obtaining military and financial support for her plan to recapture the Westerosi throne.

Well, that’s a great moment.  Mendelsohn doesn’t like Emilia Clarke’s performance, but enjoys Peter Dinklage.

He also writes this:

Those who complained about the TV series’ graphic and “exploitive” use of women’s bodies are missing the godswood for the weirwood trees:  whatever the prurient thrills they provide the audience, these demeaning scenes, like their counterparts in the novels, also function as a constant reminder of what the main female characters are escaping from.  “I don’t want to have a dozen sons,” one assertive young princess tells a suitor, “I want to have adventures.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Fabulous Summer: Catching Up With The Missouri Review, Spring 2012

Farley's: such good coffee! 18th Street (Potrero Hill)

Farley’s: such good coffee! 18th Street (Potrero Hill)

Yesterday, self was whiling away the late afternoon in Farley’s, a coffee shop on Potrero Hill.  While reading Scientific American and the day’s Wall Street Journal, she tried the macchiato (excellent!) with a slice of zucchini bread (dee-lish!) and a scoop of caramel salt ice cream.

She was just musing about how fabulous this summer is.

Sole Fruit of Her Loins is home, and Jennie is arriving tonight.  Self loves the “Flying Kitty” birthday card that Jennie mailed to self last week.  Rawwrrrr!!!

Today, self feels energized enough to tackle her Pile of Stuff (a huge, disorganized, and ever-growing pile of unread magazines and unopened mail).  The first thing she happens to pull out is The Missouri Review of Spring 2012.

As everyone in the writing field knows, The Missouri Review is one of the top literary journals in the country.  Who wouldn’t want to be published in The Missouri Review?  Though self has never succeeded in breaking into the ranks of this magazine’s anointed, that has in no way dampened her enjoyment at reading it.

The theme of the Spring 2012 issue is “blood relations.”  Here’s how the editor, Speer Morgan (possibly the most fabulous editor’s name self has ever encountered:  It’s like the bastard offspring of a chewing gum company, Wrigley’s, and an investment bank, Morgan Stanley):

When one sets about doing harm, the people most likely to be hurt are the ones across the table, if only by reason of proximity.  Look up quotes on the word “family,” and much of what comes up is either sarcastic or humorous.  Hamlet’s stepfather says to him, “My cousin Hamlet, and my son,” and the young prince responds, “A little more than kin, and less than kind,” with both “kin” and “kind” carrying multiple levels of dark irony.  This is the norm even when your stepfather/ uncle didn’t murder your father and marry your mother.  Bring up the issue of relatives, and mockery soon follows.  “I had no blood relatives until I made some,” says comedian Andy Dick.  And yet of course the other feelings continue to survive alongside the sarcasm —  the fondness, love and hope that we associate with both our relatives and our origins.

Next, Morgan talks about the journal’s Jeffrey E. Smith winner in fiction, Yuko Sakata’s “Unintended,” which he calls “a story that shows the effects of parents’ problems on a child.”

There’s more, much more, but self has to at least make a serious attempt at cooking dinner.  And, all right, all right, just one more thing:

The Emmy Nominations were announced at 5:30 a.m. this morning.

And there were no nominations for Timothy Olyphant (“Justified”) or Nicolaj Coster-Waldau (“Game of Thrones”) or even Walton Goggins (“Justified”).  We got Peter Dinklage nominated again (for “Game of Thrones”), and Jon Hamm (for “Mad Men,” as per usual), and there were even nominations for “Downton Abbey.”

Oh, well. C’est la vie.  Life is indeed strange.

At least Diana Rigg got a nomination for playing Lady Olenna Tyrell (Her name reminds self of Crisco product, for some reason).  But why oh why are there nominations for “Homeland” and none for “The Americans”?  Go figure!

Is “The Killing” going to be renewed for a fourth season?  Oh pray it’s so!

Fingers and toes crossed.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Peter Sarsgaard, “The Killing”

No more “Game of Thrones” until next year.  People, do you realize what this means?  It means that self has to rehash all the old episodes, everything from Season 2 episode 1 all the way to Season 3 episode 10, minus Season 3 episode 9 because she can never ever watch that wedding/massacre without having nightmares.

The Man, however, knows just how to distract her, because yesterday he casually switched channels to AMC, which was showing something called “The Killing.”

After watching for a few minutes, self realized that the Death Row inmate being hustled to the showers, the one who adroitly slips a razor blade from a bar of soap into his mouth, was none other than Peter Sarsgaard.  Hoooly Hotness! (How does one slip a razor blade  into a bar of soap?  Self has not a clue.  Perhaps more to the point:  Who put it there?)

Then self decided that the female detective with the unsmiling demeanor and the red mane of hair (played by Mireille Enos) was an interesting character.

Self let her fingers do the walking on her computer and found that “The Killing” was almost canceled.  Ratings for the season were apparently in decline.


Tonight, Read the rest of this entry »

Justified 4.13: Season Finale

Oh no oh no oh no.

No Justified on Tuesday nights.

How can self live?


As usual, the highlights of this episode are the dialogue.

But, before getting into the loverlies, self just wants to say that Winona showed uncommon spark and fire when being held hostage and watching her man get whupped on the head by an Evil Character.  Perhaps it will not be so bad if Winona makes it back to the show on a regular basis.

Ava goes to jail.  What?  Again?  This time, it’s Boyd not Raylan who professes his intention to free her (If dear blog readers recall, in Season 1, Ava shot her husband.  But that was because he was abusive, and caused her to miscarry).  This time, she’s apprehended while dragging (very ineptly, self might add) a bundled-up corpse into a ditch.  Did she perhaps want to get caught or what?

Self is finally beginning to appreciate the whiteness of Boyd Crowder’s teeth.

She loves that Preacher’s Sister.  She’s in this episode for all of three seconds, but those seconds do resonate.

Now, where did Deputy Marshalls Rachel Brooks and Tim Gutterson take themselves off to?

Self will close with this classic exchange between Raylan and his boss, Art Mullen:

Raylan:  Suppose you’re going to say, I told you so.

Art:  Oh, I’d like to think I’m a bigger person than that, but I did tell you so.

How dare that reviewer (self forgets from which magazine) say that Justified is just like Cheers.  No, it is not like Cheers.  For one thing, it is not corny.

For another, Justified has lots and lots of dead bodies.  And those of you who’ve ever caught a single episode of Cheers knows that death has never been a factor in that other show.

Self thinks the reviewer confused the general amiability and geniality of the Justified characters with Cheers‘ crowd-pleasing ways.

She loves the closing:  a tight shot of Raylan alone, wearing a grey T-shirt and jeans.  Ah, Raylan/Timothy, you rule.  Self adored Justified Season 4 and was enthralled from first to last.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Justified 4.12

You asked for it, dear blog readers.  Here, Blog Mistress’s observations on last night’s episode (She missed 4.11; she was picking up son from the San Jose Airport.  Thankfully, it doesn’t seem like she missed very much; at least, she was totally able to follow last night’s episode, without any confusion.)

In last night’s episode:

  • Erica Tazel, who plays Deputy Marshall Rachel Brooks, gets to do another one of her smart-mouth routines.  Love it, love it.  Give this woman a whip already.
  • Raylan does another of his “overwhelming-a-perp” with paternal firmness routines —  but instead of saying, “Shut your mouth,” which he’s uttered twice this season, he simply relieves the would-be shooter of his gun by walking firmly up to him and taking it.  BWAH. HA. HAAAA!  Which is, now that self comes to think of it, a very logical progression from saying, “Shut your mouth!”
  • A gun is placed in the hand of Deputy Marshall Tim Gutterson (Jacob Pitts).  Of course, since Pitts is playing an ex-sniper from Afghanistan, this gun must go off.  This man’s shooting ability is on the same level as Barry Pepper’s (in “Saving Private Ryan”):  He never misses.  He’s like Clint in “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”  Since the frail preacher’s sister is in the vicinity when the gun goes off, one can only assume Gutterson will sit himself down with the woman afterwards, to ask how she is doing.  Ixnay!  Gutterson never sits down afterwards to ask a person how he/she is doing!  This must mean something heavy is going on inside!
  • Then, why oh why did self begin to develop a fondness for the character Colt, about a second before he buys it?  Was it the way he smoked his cigarette in the face of Gutterson’s gun?  Indubitably!
  • Self loves Ella May.  She loves Ella May.  She loves Ella May.  She’s the character of fate, of miracles, of the weak up-ending the strong.  Self loves the scene where Ella May hugs Drew Thompson in the marshall’s office.  The scene is framed so that we see Raylan sitting at the table next to them, not paying them any attention.  Oh, but the next scene after that is Winona!  Winona with a wee little baby bump!  Still in high heels!  What expectant mother wears high heels when re-decorating a baby’s room?  Self hopes and prays that Winona does not get to be a major player in Season 5.
  • Joelle Carter, who plays Ava, is wearing the most fabulous synthetic leather, rust-colored jacket.  Hair swept off her face is not Ava’s most flattering look.
  • Self was made absolutely dizzy by the suitcases of cash being toted around Harlan County:  a few episodes back, it was $150,000.  Then it became $300,000.  In last night’s episode, there was actually mention of $500,000.  Ava gets to tote it to Ellstin Limehouse’s lair.

The only confusing thing about last night’s episode was:  How did Deputy Marshall Tim Gutterson happen by the preacher’s sister’s tent just at the moment when Colt threatened with a gun?  Wasn’t Gutterson, a few scenes earlier, in Ellstin Limehouse’s neighborhood?  Wasn’t he given explicit instructions by Raylan to wait by the car, or some such?  Or perhaps the preacher’s sister’s tent happens to be right next to the Limehouse lair?

Never mind.  She loves any scene with Gutterson.  She particularly likes his asking of Colt:  “Did you shoot my friend?”  Naturally, we all know the answer is YES!  In fact, his asking the question is simply a rhetorical device.  It’s there just so that we can get to see Ron Eldard (who plays Colt) grimace, take a cigarette out of his jacket, smoke, weigh his chances, and then go out with a frightful and unnerving bang.  Excellent!

The season is about to end.  Oh boo, boo, boo.  But then, Game of Thrones Season 3 is starting.  Self cannot tell you how excited she is for Game of Thrones.  She got hooked while cooling her heels in Bacolod last year.  It’s the reason she decided to sign up for HBO!  The finale of Season 1, where the dragon emerges from the bonfire that consumes the evil sorceress and lands on Daenerys’ shoulder —  Wow!  Priceless! But, as usual, self is getting ahead of herself.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Many Excitements, Including Justified 4.10

What. An. Exciting. Week.

Self cannot begin to tell dear blog readers what an exciting week it’s been.

First, she pigged out at Max’s (son’s favorite Filipino restaurant) in South San Francisco, with Diane.

Just a few days earlier, she went on a hike with Stella K and Tina B, in Edgewood Park & Nature Preserve (Self knows that Stella and Tina, both serious hikers, went on the slow and easy in deference to self’s great age.  Thanks, gals!)

Yesterday, since The Man was in a most irksome mood, self let him be and entertained herself with watching three back-to-back episodes of “The Walking Dead.”  Whoa.  This is a great show.  Why had self never watched it before?  Ah, self, you are so behind-with-the-cultural-flow!

She bought tickets to the San Francisco Ballet, which is probably only the second time she’s ever bought tickets for the San Francisco Ballet.

She heard from Zack.  He is imminent.

The Ancient One is still alive (though getting whinier with each passing day)

And now, self will begin sharing her reflections about Justified 4.10

This one was memorable primarily because Deputy Rachel Brooks is back!  Bringing her sass right into Our Man Raylan’s face!  She tells Raylan that she puts up with his shenanigans is because he’s “easy on the eyes”!  What a straight-talking girl!

Johnny Crowder maintains people want to move to the suburbs because there ain’t no niggers there.  He says this right in front of Our Gal Rachel.  She doesn’t bat an eyelash.  She’s such a cool cucumber!  Self loves that Raylan’s team has two cool cucumbers:  Rachel Brooks and Tim Gutterson!

And —  Drew Thompson is finally unmasked!  You’ll never guess who it is, dear blog readers!  No spoilers here.

This episode was very easy on the killings.  As a matter of fact, self doesn’t think there was one fallen body —  what is happening?

Boyd Crowder and Ava utter the unthinkable:  each says, into a phone, “I love you.”  Bo-ring!

Ella May survived yet another episode!  Self loves her durability!  Her unexpected tenacity!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Justified Season 4 = Magnificence

Episode 4.9 ended less than an hour ago.

Self is just loving the drama this season.

Here are some things she’s noticed:

  • Everyone in Harlan County wears super-tight jeans.  Self is of course referring to the men:  Raylan Givens, Boyd Crowder.  If you happen to be a man, one without a predilection for wearing super-tight jeans, you are a minor character.  GET OVER IT.
  • This episode marks only the second time this season that she’s heard Timothy Olyphant say “Shut up.”  She loves the whole “Shut up” thang.  Raylan always says it to a perp.  It occurs to self that part of Raylan’s appeal is that he makes you think he’s doing you a favor when he pulls a gun on you.  Shoot me, Raylan!  Just shoot me!
  • Raylan’s father is dead.  Dead as a doornail.  There will be no Second Act for Raylan’s dad.
  • The character of Ava has undergone quite a transformation since Season 1.  Self will never forget how Ava crept into Raylan’s life:  she was a battered wife who shot her husband, and Raylan had just moved back to Harlan County.  Now that Ava has turned into such a Hard-Ass, self wonders where her character can go next.  Maybe Ava will be converted to evangelical Christianity!  Maybe she and Boyd will split!  Maybe she gets pregnant!
  • The preacher’s sister makes an appearance, looking so exceptionally wan.  She is being strangled by Grade B Gerard Depardieu and cocaine addict Colt when Tim Gutterson arrives, just in the nick of time.  Later, she and Tim Gutterson have an intimate conversation in a squad car.  Self thinks she knows where this thread is going.  Saint + Ex-Sniper = hello, fascination!
  • There has been no Erica Taziel, not for weeks and weeks.  She doesn’t even appear in a panning background shot.
  • Art, Raylan’s boss, has a tirade.  Self loves when Art goes into a tirade.  It’s always about something Raylan did or didn’t do.  What endurance Art has:  coping with the Raylan drama must be exhausting.  Give Art a medal, already!
  • Self thinks she likes “Justified” better when Raylan is left to do his thing.  Whenever Ex-Wife Winona or that woman who was married to a fighter put in an appearance, the narrative gets pulled into odd directions.  It is just fine, in self’s humble opinion, for Raylan to remain unattached for the rest of the show’s life.  Because Olyphant is so gorgeous, it’s hugely ironic to see him having such bad luck with women.  It’s the In-Joke of all In-Jokes.
  • Self loves the scene where a rotund police officer tries to arrest two people:  they laugh at him and tell him to run along.  Self has a new appreciation for people who decide to be cops, especially if their beat turns out to be the old neighborhood.
  • Why is Ella May such a thorn in everyone’s side?  She’s a poor waif who wouldn’t hurt a fly.  About the only transgression Ella May is guilty of is escaping from her would-be murderer.  People, why can everyone not understand that Ella May DOES NOT WANT TO DIE?  Who can blame her?  It is so nice to be alive.  To want to be alive is not a crime, is it?  But because Ella May has not obliged by conking off, now everyone is competing to end her miserable life.  Is this justice?  What kind of people would sink to such a low of moral turpitude?
  • Self loved the closing scene.  Raylan is having a chat with the prisoner he was escorting to a new facility, the one who killed Raylan’s dad.  Raylan tells the Orange Jumpsuit that the last conversation he had with his Dad was heartwarming —  or words to that effect.  Then, THE END!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday Night Television: The Cumberbatch/ Olyphant Effect

The thing about Benedict Cumberbatch is, his appeal is not apparent right away.  Unlike Timothy Olyphant’s.

The reason self is pondering BC at all is that there is a new BBC mini-series, an adaptation of Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End, which had its HBO broadcast premiere last night, just before F/X’s Justified.

And self wouldn’t have decided to watch if she hadn’t, on one of her previous visits to Bacolod, caught the new BBC Sherlock, with Cumberbatch in the lead, showcasing his lean and lanky frame, his floppy hair, his intellectual-yet-boyish affect.  OH HOLY COW!  This guy is playing Sherlock as if he’s got Asperger’s!

In preparation for last night’s TV watching, self had the absolutely brilliant idea of running to Trader Joe’s and buying all of The Man’s Read the rest of this entry »

Justified 4.7: The Ineffable Raylan

Of interest:

  • This episode was largely focused on Boyd Crowder and Ava.  They’re like an old married couple, except Ava is turning into Mata Hari.  They go to a party where free love is practiced, and when two men go for Ava, Boyd is immediately on them.  Question of the Day:  Why attend a free love party if you don’t want to exercise free love?  If you know that’s what’s going down, then why go at all?  The whole time the two were at this party, self was all agog wondering who would get to do the free love thing first:  Ava or Boyd.  Alas!  Both leave unsullied by the sordid environment.  Too. Bad.
  • The paralyzed Bennett guy is sleeping with the blonde ho, the one who was roughed up by Grade B Gerard Depardieu in 4.6.  And by the way, Grade B Gerard Depardieu’s character’s name is Colt.  Self found out today, so she might have to stop referring to him as Grade B GD.
  • Erica Tazel (playing Deputy Rachel Brooks) has vanished into thin air.  At least Jacob Pitt (playing Deputy Tim Gutterson) is hanging around, if only to throw off absolutely sardonic one-liners.
  • Raylan looks mighty fine.  He does not even have to be wearing his Stetson to look mighty fine.
  • He kills one person.  Before he does it, though, he tells the guy:  Shut.  Your.  Mouth.
  • He befriends a comely lass who begins to disrobe while he is on  his cell.  The lass is very nonchalant about it.  Raylan isn’t watching her, but the viewer is.  At first self thought the Lass had Thunder Thighs, because her jeans looked like they were about to burst.  But lo and behold, seen from a distance while disrobing, she turns out not to have Thunder Thighs.  Her bra lands on the floor with such a resounding THWACK that self thinks people as many as four rooms over would have to have heard it.  Her underwear doesn’t match, which is a sign of how greatly the producers care about authenticity.  Or verisimilitude.
  • Someone named Sharon Edmunds is reported murdered.
  • They still haven’t been able to find Drew Thompson.
  • Wynne Duffy puts in a brief appearance.
  • Chief Art Mullen is still there, so perhaps they ditched the “soon-to-retire” thread.  YAY.
  • Raylan visits his Dad in prison.  The occasion does not go well.  Dear Papa refuses to take the bait Raylan offers him in exchange for a transfer to a country club prison.  Raylan’s Papa sure is a stubborn old coot.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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