More Ambience: Albion, California

According to Jeff Golenski on The Daily Post:

I find that light is one of the most important factors that influence my conscious enjoyment of a place. The warmer the light I see, the more comfortable I tend to be.

Self spent all day looking at a solitary cow on a hillside.

She just wants to say: there’s nothing more hypnotic than watching a cow chew cud. Honestly.

The sky in the following photographs is translucent. Like a sheer piece of muslin. Perhaps that’s why self was so mesmerized.

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Steep Hillside, One Cow

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More Level: Still Only One Cow

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Finally, a Clear Silhouette of Cow

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More Names

Self’s second post on this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge: NAMES

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Dragon Papa: Grant St., San Francisco

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What Self Read, Summer 2016

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Iconic Chinatown: San Francisco, Fall 2016

Quote of the Day: The Hunter

The hunter does not lay the same trap for a wolf as for a fox.

Even “persons so insignificant and so inconsiderable . . .  may, some time or other, have it in their power to be of use to you; which they certainly will not, if you have once shown them contempt. Wrongs are often forgiven, but contempt never is. Our pride remembers it forever.” (Lord Chesterfield, 1694 – 1773)

— p. 144, The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene

Emily Doe: Changing the Conversation

You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today . . .  Future reference, if you are confused about whether a girl can consent, see if she can speak an entire sentence.

— Emily Doe to her rapist, Brock Turner, quoted in Glamour, December 2016

From Emily Doe:

I had forensic evidence, sober unbiased witnesses, a slurred voice mail, police at the scene. I had everything, and I was still told it was not a slam dunk. I thought, if this is what having it good looks like, what other hells are survivors living? I’m barely getting through this but I am being told I’m the lucky one, some sort of VIP. It was like being checked into a hotel room for a year with stained sheets, rancid water, and a bucket with an attendant saying, No, this is great! Most rooms don’t even have a bucket.

After the trial I was relieved, thinking the hardest part was over, and all that was left was the sentencing. I was excited to finally be given a chance to read my statement and declare, I am here. I am not that floppy thing you found behind the garbage, speaking melted words. I am here, I can stand upright, I can speak clearly, I’ve been listening and am painfully aware of all the hurt you’ve been trying to justify.

I yelled half of my statement. So when it was quickly announced that he’d be receiving six months, I was struck silent.

After Turner was convicted of rape last spring, a judge “sentenced him to just six months, saying anything more would have a severe impact on him.” — Cindi Leive, in Glamour magazine

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Lures You In Just Like a Multi-Chapter Fan Fiction

The murders unfold. P. 237.

Even though self swore — swore — when beginning In Cold Blood, that when she got to an account of the murders, she would stop reading, the more she read, the more complacent she became, the more she became invested in the characters. Especially in the character of the lead detective, Alvin Dewey.

Just when Hickok and Perry have been caught, it’s at that point when (just when self is patting herself on the back for having finished reading In Cold Blood without once flinching), what do you know: we do after all get the blow-by-blow. But by this time, self has already read 236 pages. How can she stop now? She does the only logical thing: she keeps reading.

It would have been less gruesome if told clinically. But unfortunately, that little perv Perry, the short one, the one who likes it whenever Detective Dewey has to light a cigarette and put it between his lips, he feels emotional connection to the victims (even as he destroys them), so he describes their looks of shock etc etc etc.

And. Still. Self. Just. Cannot. Stop. Reading.

Because she is already so fully invested in the story.

She is reminded of fan fiction, how it lures you in, chapter by chapter (Fan fiction is ALL about serialization). You live with the characters a while (In the case of Mejhiren’s stories, for years), you get to know them, you are completely at the mercy of the author.

Just like what’s happening to self now.

Capote. So sly. If the murders had been recounted any earlier than p. 150, self probably could have closed the book without a second thought.

It’s when poor Mr. Clutter offers to write the murderers a check in exchange for his life that they really go ape-shit on him.

There is so much horror in this story. Readers, self is sparing you much anguish. This is your trigger warning. P. 237. SKIP SKIP SKIP

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

IN COLD BLOOD, pp. 232 – 233

It’s the day after Christmas, for heavens sake, George Michael has died, and self is barreling through In Cold Blood.

It’s a great book. The characters — the two murderers and the four detectives whose seven weeks of patient chasing down of all manner of clues finally led to the arrest of Dick Hickok and Perry Smith for the murder of the Clutter family — are like players in a Greek tragedy (The fact that they arrested the right men: what a piece of luck! Seven weeks is not a long period of time, especially since Hickok and Smith had traveled over eight-hundred miles in the twenty-four hours immediately following the murders, and had no personal connection to either the victims or the town of Holcomb, Kansas, where the murders took place).

Self wants very badly to be able to picture these men, and is disappointed by the absence of any photographs. Isn’t this book nonfiction? Wouldn’t the inclusion of photographs have helped the book’s authenticity?

Instead she has to go googling on the web. She finds a New York Times obituary for Alvin Dewey, lead detective of the case. There is no photograph. Self decided not to google the faces of the two murderers.

Dick Hickok struck the detectives as intelligent and attractive (a Ted Bundy type?), well spoken.

His partner, Perry Smith, was so short that when sitting his feet didn’t touch the floor. And his feet were delicate, the size of a child’s. Yet this is the man who Dick Hickok claimed committed all four murders.

The two men are handcuffed but Perry Smith is a chainsmoker so, during the ride to Kansas, when Smith wants a smoke, Detective Alvin Dewey ends up lighting it for him and placing “it between his lips, a task that the detective found ‘repellent,’ for” it seemed “such an intimate action — the kind of thing” Dewey had done “while he was courting his wife.” (p. 233)

The only reason self quotes the passage here is because, a page later, Perry Smith says to Dewey, catching him off guard: “You hate handing me a butt.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

One of Self’s Favorite Movies of 2016

“Hell or High Water.”

In that movie, Chris Pine had such a mournful, thin frame. He looked extraordinary. Perhaps he and Casey Affleck are evolving the same laconic style. But there was so much he was able to express in just the way he stood.

And the other thing: Ben Foster. Yeah, him. Mr. Intensity.

When self last saw Ben Foster, he was in that coast guard movie, “The Finest Hours” (also with Chris Pine), looking overweight but fitting the part so perfectly. Here, Foster’s more like self remembers him being from other movies: runty-looking yet powerful.

In perfect opposition to Pine and Foster, another stellar pair: Jeff Bridges and his dour, heartbreaking deputy, played by Gil Birmingham.

Right now, everyone’s talking Casey Affleck and “Manchester by the Sea”, which self has not yet seen. But let’s not forget: there were four great performances in “Hell or High Water.” Let’s not forget.

Also, there is a restaurant scene that rivals Jack Nicholson’s Hold the Chicken scene in “Five Easy Pieces.”

A waitress runs down a list of choices with Jeff Bridges and his deputy. She finally ends up saying, “What don’t you want?”

Here’s a crucial scene from the movie:

“Momma died.”

“When?”

“Two weeks.”

“Well, good riddance. (Pause) No offense.”

(Sigh) That dialogue. Perfection.

Stay tuned.

More Paths

Halfway through the year, I’ve found myself in a new home, adapting to things on a daily basis, and realizing how important it is to slow down and recognize (and enjoy) the winding path I’m on.

— Cheri Lucas Rowlands, The Daily Post

“Slow down” — what a wonderful sentiment for the day after Christmas.

Below, three versions of PATH:

A corridor in the new San Francisco Museum of Modern Art:

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The New San Francisco MOMA

The approach to the City from 101:

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Approaching San Francisco on the 101 North

Stairs leading to the second level of the British Museum:

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British Museum, Great Russell Street, London

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

In Cold Blood, p. 10

A friend tells the father, Herbert William Clutter:

  • “You’ve got no mercy. I swear, Herb, if you caught a hired man drinking, out he’d go. And you wouldn’t care if his family was starving.”

What happens to Clutter afterward is cruel, but it is also ironic. In light of the above statement.

Self just noticed that the book’s publisher describes it as a “true account.” Somehow, those two words in combination — especially the “account” — make one think of story.

There is subjectivity in the word “account” — it is not definitive. One event can have many different accounts. It’s not exactly objective reporting, there is blurring. There is point of view.

Point of view is necessarily limited. There will be gaps. Not everything will be explained.

Self finds all of this fascinating. It makes her realize how much importance rests on a book’s label. Because that label is the “hook.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Promise to Read IN COLD BLOOD Until

Self screwed up her courage and dug into In Cold Blood.

She has sworn that the minute she gets to the murder scene, she will allow herself to stop reading.

In the meantime, this is like Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

It is fascinating how Capote gets inside each family member’s head and lays out the map of their last day.

The sixteen-year-old daughter, a pretty young thing, went way over her curfew because she was out with her boyfriend. She came home at 2 a.m. (The murders happened at 4 a.m.)

The father (48 years old) stayed up later than his usual bedtime (11 a.m.) — perhaps he was waiting for his daughter.

The mother (45 years old) was a neurasthenic who was gradually recovering a bit of her old sense of balance (And we feel so hopeful for her, too.)

The youngest in the family was only 14 and self forgets what this boy was up to, but anyhoo.

At 4 a.m. the killers will enter their home, so UGH.

In the meantime, Christmas cookies, anyone?

Self has to keep reminding herself that until Capote wrote this book, no one had written about real-life murders in this way before. Now, the book doesn’t seem new at all. There have been so many books like this. But back then (1965), when Capote wrote it, it was a game-changer.

Amazing how Capote made this ordinary middle-class family worthy of a novel (The family’s name was Clutter. An Americanized form of the family’s German immigrant roots: the American forebears were named Klotter) And that act of imagination was so amazingly impudent. Sheer bravura. The facts are made so compelling because Capote’s journalistic style of narration makes them seem anything but manipulated. He could have said something like: AND THIS POOR GIRL, AFTER KISSING HER BOYFRIEND GOODNIGHT, WILL BE MURDERED ONLY TWO HOURS LATER. But he doesn’t. He simply follows the family through a very ordinary day.

(The movie version — which her older sister forced her to watch because she knew self was a sissy and would have nightmares forever — had Robert Blake playing one of the killers. Brilliant piece of casting there.)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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