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.


Florence, Italy: November 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Zombie Apocalypse Everlark Fan Fics Are Self’s Weakness

Some of self’s favorite mash-ups are Walking Dead/Hunger Games. She loves apocalyptic dystopian universes.

In the newest iteration of Zombie Everlark, Katniss and Peeta are part of a tragically small group of survivors to make it to a place called the Sanctuary, which is ruled by a Senator. They arrive in separate groups, not knowing of the other’s existence. But the clever fan fic author (one of the most experienced in Everlark fan fiction-dom) employs a split-screen approach, so that we see the same event, first from Peeta’s point of view, then from Katniss’s. Sigh. Love this approach.

Katniss receives instructions to tend to some new (injured) arrivals in what passes for sick bay. The first person she tends to is Peeta, but as yet Katniss doesn’t know anything about him, not even his name. For now, he is just “the one-legged man.”

  • The man’s lips twitch up and she rips her eyes away from his face, focusing intently on bandaging his now-clean wound. A sharp sound seethes out of him. She’s being sloppy, and the sting of her incompetence is so much worse for the glassy indifference she was used to getting from Rue, who never so much as blinked under Katniss’s care. Then again, Rue spent much of her time locked in her head, and Katniss was never sure how much she was aware of it. It was worse at night, after a day’s worth of stumbling through the woods just parallel to the roads. The unblinking glare of the sun sapped the strength right out of her, until all she could do was stand swaying under the weight of her own pack. Then there was nothing to do but rest. They had spent their nights sleeping underneath an unfathomably placid sky, curled up on the roofs of houses, or in the boughs of trees whose roots were infested with the twitching, trembling bodies of the infected by mid-day.

This post-apocalyptic zombie universe is so rich.

Today, that siren blasted out over the Village again. It is such a mournful sound. Self learned that it comes from the lightouse at Point Cabrillo, and that it can mean anything from a warning to ships, to a notice of a lost kitten. “When you start seeing people running toward the lighthouse, you’ll know . . . ” one of her writing students told her.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Reading List 2016, Updated

Just finished:  The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, by Thad Carhart (Charming)

Starting: The Piano Tuner, by Daniel Mason: a novel set in Burma


  • The Piano Player, by Kurt Vonnegut (Nephew’s favorite writer)
  • Road Dogs, by Elmore Leonard (One of self’s favorite writers)
  • The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters (Another of self’s favorite writers)
  • The Forever War, by Dexter Filkins

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

One Story, Six Ways

This is a workshop self invented, and the Mendocino Art Center is letting her run with it.


Two days of intensive experimentation at different ways to tell ONE event.

In the Mendocino Art Center.

Saturday & Sunday: Feb. 6 & 7, 2016

Instructor: Your Fabulous Blog Mistress Herself

Cost: $200

Such a steal. For $200 you get self for two whole days.

Not to mention, six versions of the same story.

Here’s where to enroll:

Or call: (707) 937 – 5818 xt. 10

Or call: (800) 653 – 3328


Last Night, Margo. This Afternoon, Claudia.

Self met a photographer named Margo yesterday. Say, want to have dinner tonight? Margo asks. Sure! self says. Self is always game for dinner!

Self knocked on her Unit at 6 p.m. sharp and was totally flummoxed when Margo said she wanted to eat in Fort Bragg.

Fort Bragg??? That’s, like, 10 miles away!!! The last time self drove from Fort Bragg, it was night, and there were headlights practically crawling up her bumper, and self was so traumatized that in the almost two weeks since that event, she has never again attempted to return to Fort Bragg.

Anyhoo, self thinks, what’s the harm? She’ll have Margo with her in the car. She can deal with those rude drivers who act as if she’s got the speed of a centipede.

We head for a restaurant called David’s that’s in a nondescript shopping mall. Whoa! It is closed! A sign says David’s is only open until 2 p.m. every day.

Anyhoo, it’s very exciting, self and Margo did get to eat in Fort Bragg, but we each spent $25, which was way more than the $3 for a hamburger Margo had estimated we would need. But that is why we all have credit cards. Right? Right?

This afternoon, self encounters Claudia, a textile artist who’s in the unit behind hers. Claudia recounts being an Artist-in-Residence also last year. A gear clicks in self’s brain. Textile artist. de Young Museum.

“You,” self says to Claudia, “are the woman who was in my unit last year!”

Claudia says she doubts it, but for some reason, self is convinced it was Claudia who was in her unit. When self latches onto an idea, it is very hard for her to let that idea go.

“No, you are!” self tells Claudia enthusiastically. “I’ve always meant to thank you! For leaving that Sunday New York Times magazine with Channing Tatum on the cover!”

Claudia looks at self and says, “Uh-uh. Wasn’t me. Even if I was in your unit just before you moved in, I don’t think I’d ever have left a copy of a magazine with Channing Tatum on the cover.”

Self gushes on: “It was so nice of you! To leave me that welcome gift! I felt so appreciated!”

By this time, self has the niggling suspicion that maybe Claudia is not a fan of Channing Tatum? Because the way she is looking at self . . .

Oh, anyhoo! It’s all good! Self scampers off to Mendosa’s on Lansing for her nightly feeding of clam chowder.

Such an interesting bunch of artists in the Mendocino Art Center this year! Plus some self remembers from last year, like Mary-Ellen Campbell, who showed her the most gorgeous photographs of a recent trip to Burma.

Mary-Ellen kayaks, she line dances, and she also teaches classes in book-making.

More on these fabulous and inspiring women as the residency unfolds. Stay tuned.




“Lightning That Never Ends” by Miguel Hernandez, trans. by Don Share

Will this lightning never end, that fills
my heart with exasperated wild beasts
and furious forges and anvils
where even the freshest metal shrivels?

— Miguel Hernandez, poems selected and translated by Don Share, published by the New York Review of Books,

Optimistic 3: 2016 Daily Post Photo Challenge # 4

Cold, gloomy.

There is someone tromping on the roof.

Reminds self she hasn’t logged on to Twitter in a week or more.

When self has no time to play hashtag games, things are really getting serious.

In spite of all, she faces 2016 with optimism.

Here’s a necklace made by the sister of Mavee Park (BFF in kindergarten in Manila!)


Necklace handmade in the Philippines; Red Sweater from Dublin


Mavee throws a huge Thanksgiving party every year. Self was a guest at last year’s. Mavee scattered these paper stars (from the Philippines) all over her rec room.


Thumbs Up! The Blog Mistress Herself, on a Fast Train to Venice, November 2015

It’s a crime not to feel optimistic in Italy. Seriously.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

A Snippet for Alan Rickman

Alan Rickman, RIP.

So shocked, self can’t even.

Who can forget Alan (She has seen very few articles about him that refer to him as “Rickman.” A lot of them do just call him Alan) in Die Hard, or as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies?

She wonders what London was like, after his passing was announced?

Last week, she found this from something she posted in February, 2012: a quote from John Lahr, The New Yorker theatre critic:

Alan Rickman is the go-to actor for supercilious.

Self knows that is not much of a quote. Nevertheless, it is true.

Oh, how self wishes she were in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at this very moment; her unit had a hardbound copy of the Oxford English Dictionary. From the first day of her residency to the last, self kept the dictionary on her writing desk, open to the page with the word “circumnavigation.”

If she were in her unit in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, she would be able to look up supercilious in a couple of seconds.

Instead, she has to settle for Merriam-Webster:

  • Supercilious: having or showing the proud and unpleasant attitude of people who think that they are better or more important than other people.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.




“The Revenant” in Fort Bragg

Self has a particular fondness for Coast Cinema, a small, box-like multi-plex (four screens!) just a few blocks from the ocean in Fort Bragg. She is such a movie buff that she gets withdrawal symptoms if she can’t watch at least one movie a week, and  Mendocino itself doesn’t have a single movie theater.

She ended up seeing some really bad ones in Fort Bragg last year, including an awful science fiction movie starring Tatum Channing and Mila Kunis called “Jupiter Ascending” (One line she remembers from the movie is about how bees can spot royalty: they swarmed around Mila Kunis who was a housecleaner. Ergo, she was the next Queen or something to that effect. Channing sported frosted gold tips and elf ears, not his best look. Eddie Redmayne was in this movie as well, in full-on camp mode).

She saw “Kingsman” there, and that experience was memorable not only because it had a manic scene in which Colin Firth, in a dapper suit, takes out a whole church of Ku Klux Klansmen armed only with a tightly furled brolly. The audience cheered, actually cheered, while he was doing it. That’s how self knew she was sitting in an audience made up of dyed-in-the-wool maverick liberals — only they could be so vocal and enthusiastic about violence inflicted on Ku Klux Klansmen.

Anyhoo, “The Revenant.” Self knew nothing about it except that it starred Leo. And that he won a Golden Globe last night. So, she decided to see it today. And lo and behold, the audience had many Asian people, arriving in big groups in vans and SUVs. One group consisted of 18 people. She knows because the Asian man ahead of her bought 18 tickets. Is there some kind of Leo fixation in Asia, she wonders?

Self happened to be seated next to an Asian couple, and the female spent almost the entire movie practically in her mate’s lap, cowering and trembling and sighing and gasping and self wanted to tell her, Even if I was thoroughly repulsed by the sight of arrows as thick as hollow blocks entering and exiting someone’s head in close-up, you would never find me cowering to such a degree. It’s not even adorable. Not in the slightest.

Self is here to say, though, congratulations Alejandro Iñarritu! First of all, self likes this director. She was absolutely shattered, watching the movie he directed in which Naomi Watts plays a woman who cannot bear children because she has a rare medical condition that might kill her in the process of growing a child in her belly. Of course, Watts’ character decides to have a baby anyway. Self has never cried so hard in a movie theatre before.

Second, self is quite inured to violence, and likes all kinds of mind-blowing on-screen mayhem, like the kind in the Indonesian movie “The Raid: Redemption.” But this movie caused her to stop dipping her fingers into her hot, buttered popcorn. The violence was just that intense.

Ever seen a nekkid body covered in blood being dragged through a forest floor covered with branches, stones and what not? Want to see that scene in close-up? Watch this movie.

Ever wonder what it’s like to be attacked by a 300-lb. grizzly and have it step on your head while it munches on your abdominals? Watch this movie.

Ever wonder what a freshly-scalped head looks like, in close-up? Watch this movie.

Ever wonder what a person’s back looks like when it’s carved up by bear claws? Watch this movie.

Ever wonder how to get through a blizzard? Just cut open your horse’s belly, remove all its entrails, then snuggle inside. You’re welcome.

Also, Good Lord, was that Tom Hardy playing the most horrible, contemptible Bad Guy ever? Since self didn’t bother reading up on anything about this movie, it wasn’t until 3/4 of the way through that she finally realized who that magnetic Bad Guy was. Holy Cow, did he act the hell out of his role.

Also, the young boy in “We Are the Millers”, the Jen Aniston/Jason Sudeikis/ Emma Roberts comedy a few years back, the boy who gets bitten by a spider and whose privates balloon — he was in this movie. (And he was good!)

Also, the redhead in Harry Potter, who self has also seen in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was in this movie, and he was pretty good.


Finally, self would just like to say, she loves mournful Westerns. There’s something so Kurosawa, so Nanook-of-the-North about them. Probably the last mournful Western she’s seen was “Ravenous,” the Vampire movie starring Robert Carlyle and Guy Pierce, that appeared in her local cine-plex for two days and then disappeared without a trace. But boy, it does have a new entry here. And Leo is so perfect for this role, just so perfect. Because even though we know it’s Leo, and he usually dies (Exhibit A: “Titanic”. Exhibit B: “The Departed”. Exhibit C: “Blood Diamond” etc etc), his dying here seems so random and so undeserved. She kept trying to imagine Matt Damon in the role (talk about another natural actor), and although it was a very close call, in the end self had to concede that he probably wouldn’t have wrenched at our heartstrings the way Leo does.

Great movie.


Miguel Hernandez, trans. by Don Share

Self loves poetry.

And she loves Miguel Hernandez, one of whose poems (translated by Don Share) she stumbled across in the New York Review of Books.

Miguel Hernandez was from Orihuela, in southern Spain. His father raised goats and sheep. With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, he enlisted in the Republican Army. After the defeat of the Republican Army, he was imprisoned. He died in prison, at the age of 31.

“I Know Enough”

I’m going, I’m going, I’m going, but I stay,
but I’m going, dry as a sandless desert,
goodbye, love, goodbye till I die.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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