Collage 2: Dearest Mum

She attended Curtis, won the New York Times International Piano Competition, and played at Carnegie Hall when she was just 14.

Self’s nephew, William, is getting married this September in New York City. Not sure if Dearest Mum, who lives in the Philippines, will be strong enough to attend, though.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Can You Explain Trump? Please?”

“Ooof,” self says, waving her hands dismissively. “Don’t worry about him! American voters aren’t as dumb as you think.”

Then self opens The New York Times digital edition today and sees:


Everything starts moving in slow motion: her fingers wander to the half-full bottle of pinot noir in her kitchen. She wonders if there’s ever a time when it’s a good idea to excuse herself from an election. Like, say, I GOT LOST IN RURAL IRELAND!  or BRIGADOON HAD ME AT HELLO!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


P. 1, Today’s New York Times: Moving Backwards

Acid is the preferred weapon of vindictive men against women accused of disloyalty or disobedience.  Common in several Asian countries, acid attacks in Pakistan grew sharply in number in 2011, to 150 from 65 in 2010, although some advocacy workers said the increase stemmed largely from better reporting.

—  from the p. 1 article by Declan Walsh in today’s New York Times (Tuesday, 10 April 2012)

*     *    *    *

The article was prompted by the March 17 suicide of one of the bravest of Pakistani women:  Pakhra Younas.  She jumped from “the sixth-floor balcony of her apartment building in the southern suburbs of Rome . . .  She was 33.”

CAVEAT:  You will need a strong stomach to get through the rest of this post, dear blog readers.

Ten years earlier, Ms. Younas was attacked by a man who “doused her face in acid . . .  virtually melting her mouth, nose and ears.”  The alleged attacker was her ex-husband, Bilal Khar.  The Times reports that he “was acquitted at trial nine years ago.”  After the attack, Ms. Younas’ face was a gruesome wreck, nothing remotely like her earlier self.  She fled to Rome, encouraged by the “generosity of strangers.”

“Dr. Valerio Cervelli, a plastic surgeon who led the work, said it was difficult at first ‘because her lower lip was attached to her torso, she had no neck, and her eyes were permanently open.”

Ms. Younas underwent surgery 38 times.  “After the 38th operation, in early 2011, Ms. Younas could move her mouth and one eye . . .  She ventured outside fearlessly, armed only with a bawdy sense of humor ingrained on the streets of Karachi.”

But even the most fearless of women sometimes miss home, get lonely, suffer self-doubt.  Ms. Younas wanted badly to return to Pakistan, but friends and family dissuaded her out of fears for her safety.

They should have let her return home.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Strange But True, 2011 Edition

This just in:  Afghan woman is raped, reports the crime, is thrown into jail for adultery.

Page 1 of today’s New York Times:

When the Afghan government announced Thursday that it would pardon a woman who had been imprisoned for adultery after she reported that she had been raped, the decision seemed a clear victory for the many women here whose lives have been ground down by the Afghan justice system.

But when the announcement also made it clear that there was an expectation that the woman, Gulnaz, would agree to marry the man who raped her, the moment instead revealed the ways in which even efforts guided by the best intentions to redress violence against women here run up against the limits of change in a society where cultural practices are so powerful that few can resist them, not even the president.

*     *     *     *     *

The decision from the government of President Hamid Karzai is all the more poignant coming as Western forces prepare to leave Aghanistan, underscoring the unfinished business of advancing women’s rights here, and raising questions of what will happen in the future to other women like Gulnaz.

There must be something we can do, dear blog readers.  Self means, we women here, in America.  We’ve got to help.

Stay tuned.

The Troll on the San Francisco Bay Bridge

The San Francisco Giants are leading the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Score so far, 6th inning:  4 to 2 (YAAAAY!!  You go, Giants!)

Self mosied over to Whole Foods and bought a copy of today’s New York Times.  Already (and she’s still only in Section A), she’s read many many articles that give her more news on the Bay Area than the copy of the San Francisco Chronicle she read just yesterday.

For instance, this fascinating tidbit (with accompanying visual) on a “small iron squatter” on the San Francisco Bay Bridge (Article was written by Shoshana Walter):

The Bay Bridge troll, a 14-inch-high, snarling iron sculpture, has lived beneath the upper deck of the eastern span of the bridge since workers completed repairs after the magnitude 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.

The quake caused a 50-foot section of the bridge to collapse, resulting in one death and forcing construction of a massive, new eastern span, which is expected to be completed in 2013.

Now, many Bay Area residents wonder what will become of the troll, whose powers are said to have protected the bridge, and the 280,000 cars that cross it daily, from further troubles.

*     *     *     *     *

The troll moved in without the permission of bridge authorities 22 years ago.  Construction crews were working around the clock to repair the bridge when the ironworkers forging the replacement section thought to ask Bill Roan, an artist and fellow ironworker, to create a commemmorative sculpture.

Mr. Roan went to the library to find an appropriate candidate.

In “Billy Goats Gruff,” there was a troll that lived under the bridge, and he was really mean and nasty to everyone,” Mr. Roan said.  “But he took really good care of his bridge.”

As workers raced to complete the repairs, Mr. Roan worked for three nights straight to turn a piece of the collapsed bridge into the dark iron sculpture.  Assuming that Caltrans would reject the idea, the group took Mr. Roan’s creation straight to the construction site.

Workers welded it into place, the troll’s long tongue snaking past a long spud wrench grasped by the troll’s webbed hands.  The wrench was affixed to a bridge bolt.  By the time officials in Sacramento heard of the action, it was too late.

Commuters cannot see the troll from their cars; it is underneath the deck on the northern side of the span.

But self highly recommends googling for a visual.  It is a really cool piece of art.

(Here are more close-ups of the thing, from a blog self stumbled on, just today:  Melancholia Imaginativa)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Fall Movies: “Brighton Rock” Preview

Since self has seen more than a few indie films at Palo Alto’s Aquarius, this summer, she’s also managed to view a number of previews. And one of the previews that seemed very interesting was the adaptation of Graham Greene’s bleak novel, Brighton Rock.

The male lead had precisely the kind of round baby-face that shrieks KILLER! (At least, it does in movies). And the female lead, a woman named Rose (which is a name self likes exceedingly, and which she used for a main character in nascent novel that is still bumbling around in search of an ending), seemed appropriately naive. And then there’s Helen Mirren playing a determined investigator. Self can never shy away from any movie that features Helen Mirren as an investigator!

So, this evening, quite spent after a whole afternoon of wandering around the Palo Alto Art & Craft Festival (in which self noticed a number of lissome young women parading around in very looong sundresses, and looking great), self resumes browsing last Friday’s New York Times. And, what do you know, there is a review by Stephen Holden of “Brighton Rock”! And this is what he says:

A nighttime image of the sea crinkling like a black plastic garbage bag sets the bleak tone of “Brighton Rock,” Rowan Joffe’s pungent adaptation of Graham Greene’s classic crime novel from the late 1930s. If you strip away the book’s Roman Catholicism, which the movie mostly does, its story fits right into the nihilistic mood of today.

The film’s dual portraits of Pinkie (Sam Riley), a 17-year-old sociopath, and Rose (Andrea Riseborough), the slavish little mouse of a waitress who abjectly loves him, are part of this second screen adaptation of the novel; the first was a well-regarded 1947 movie directed by John Boulting and starring the young Richard Attenborough.

Pinkie and Rose are among the most pitiable couples in modern literature, and Mr. Joffe’s chilly film doesn’t sentimentalize their relationship, except for a crucial touch at the end.

And perhaps self had better stop posting here, for the next part contains a definite spoiler.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Wake-Up Call: New York Times Op-Ed on Spill

It was with a great big “klunk” in the pit of her stomach that self read the following lead-in to a New York Times Op-Ed article, dated Saturday, 1 May 2010.  Before that, the Times Square almost-explosion and the soon-to-be-out-of-work Gulf Coast fishermen were Read the rest of this entry »

Fourth Most Gorgeous Day So Far in 2010

Oh, it was a beautiful, beautiful day. Self spent most of the afternoon in the backyard: munching raisins, alternately reading and watering. The pages of her book(s) were sprinkled with white from the blossoms drifting down from the gnarly old cherry trees. A bee had discovered the one blooming white magnolia flower.

Niece G, who self has not seen in ages, is helping self with a story. She said her father flew in last weekend, and they watched “The Ghost Writer.” Niece is a Ewan McGregor fan. She said she liked Olivia Williams (who played Ruth Lang in the movie) a lot. So did self.

Son got accepted to the PhD program in Social Psychology at the Claremont Graduate School! He got a call from the department to say he was in, and a formal offer was coming. He’s already met with a professor. If you had told self, in the birthing room at Stanford Hospital, that this here little tyke would grow up to be a PhD candidate, she would have said, Get out of here.

Rahm Emmanuel is on the cover of last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. Apparently, according to people who phone in tips for, Rahm in person is “hot” (Is it true he is Read the rest of this entry »

Quote of the Day: NY Times of 23 September 2009

The following quote is from an article by Sabrina Tavernse in today’s New York Times:

“New Wardrobe Brings Freedom to Women in Pakistan’s Swat Valley

When the Taliban took control here in February and forced women into burqas, an epidemic of clumsiness swept this city.  Women began banging into lamp posts.  Nurses fumbled needles.  Many simply stopped going out altogether.

Now the Taliban are mostly gone, driven out by a military operation this summer, and the women of this northern Pakistani city, the largest in the Swat Valley, are returning to public life.  Teachers are back at work, maids are commuting to jobs across town and nurses are giving injections without having to squint through a coarse layer of netting.

Quite an interesting beginning, wouldn’t you say, dear blog readers?

In the same newspaper, on the same page, a little farther down, was this small item:

Pakistan:  Militants Destroy a School for Girls

Islamic militants blew up a girls’ school close to Peshawar, the main city in northwestern Pakistan, on Tuesday, the police said. The school was empty at the time and no one was injured.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Kanlaon Currently Loves

  • io9 for her (sci-fi) movie fixes
  • San Carlos Farmers Market for her fresh food fixes
  • Chowhound, always and forever
  • Costco, because even if she goes in hungry, she always leaves full.  Would you believe self if she told you that today, around noon, there was a guy playing Bach on one of their piano displays? (Yes, self made it there, Penny.  Car leaked something awful.  Self is bringing it to be fixed tomorrow, bright and early —  finally! Where oh where were those Martha Stewart chicken slab pies ???)
  • “Man in the Mirror” (Michael, oh Michael)
  • ZYZZYVA‘s Howard Junker.  Why?  Just because.  Because he makes her laugh —  ?  Is that a good enough reason?  (Have you Read the rest of this entry »

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