Orange and Pink: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

You have to look hard in a few of these, but they definitely all DO have Orange and Pink.

Thanks again to Cee Neuner for the Fun Foto Challenge!

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Redwood City, California: January 2019

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London: 3 December 2018

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Heffers, Trinity Street, Cambridge: 23 November 2018

Can you tell how much self loves Philip Pullman? She read all the books on this table in the first few months of 2018. She knew that when she got to Oxford, she would look for as many Philip Pullman-related sites as she could.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Which Way Photo Challenge, Part 2

Much thanks to sonofabeach96 for the prompt, which sent self back to her archive of photographs, taken during her most recent trip:

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London Alley, 20 November 2018

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Rainy Night, London, 20 November 2018

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Wolvercote, the Ruins of Godstow Abbey in the distance, 16 November 2018: Philip Pullman’s LA BELLE SAUVAGE led self here. (When’s Book 2, The Secret Commonwealth, coming out? Been waiting a long, long time!)

Self’s Top Three Reads of 2018

How did self end up selecting these three?

The books may have been far from perfect — self thinks, in particular, of the first two — but they were the books she found herself re-reading, despite their flaws:

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  • Dead Letters, by Caite Dolan-Leach: Bravo, Dolan-Leach. Self has not been able to dislodge the dysfunctional Antipova twins and their yummy boy toy, Wyatt Darling, from her thoughts since she read this, Dolan-Leach’s first novel, mid-November.
  • Autonomous, by Annalee Newitz: Beat out a host of other science fiction self read this year, including All Systems Red, Book 1 of The Murderbot Diaries, by Martha Wells; and Jade City, by Fonda Lee. The book lived because of a character named Threezed.
  • The Subtle Knife, by Philip Pullman: Vol. 2 of His Dark Materials killed self in every way. If not exactly perfect, it was close. Will Parry forever. The book did such a number on her that she went to Oxford to see Will and Lyra’s bench, in the Oxford Botanical Garden.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Catching People Unaware (in England)

All gratitude to Cee Neuner, for a prompt that allowed self to share these pictures, taken during her latest trip. She’d never have thought of posting them otherwise.

Traveling in winter is hard, self didn’t know just how hard until she was in the middle of the trip.

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Blackfriar Train Station, London, November 2018

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The Millenium Bridge, London, November 2018

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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Close-Up or Macro

Self loves posting for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. It gives her a chance to post photographs from her archives that might otherwise be overlooked. Such as the close-up of her bedside lamp at The Penn Club, where she stays whenever she is in London:

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Room # 1, The Penn Club: Bedford Place, London

Or this tea-set:

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London Review Cakeshop: Bury St., London

Or this amusing pair of socks:

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Gift Shop, Ashmolean: Oxford, England

Thank you, Cee Neuner, for the prompt!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Suggested Places in Oxford for His Dark Materials fans (Courtesy of Twittagazze)

All locations in Oxford (or adjoining):

His Dark Materials locations:

  • Exeter College (Jordan College in the books)
  • The Bodleian Library
  • Oxford Botanical Garden (Lyra and Will’s Bench is here)
  • The Pitt-Rivers Museum
  • The Covered Market
  • Christ Church
  • Story Museum (to see Philip Pullman’s head-of-chapter drawings from His Dark Materials)

The Book of Dust locations:

  • Walk Paths Along the Isis
  • Port Meadow
  • Wolvercote (a 1-hour walk from Port Meadow): The Trout and the nearby priory
  • Jericho area: Juxon Street and The Butterfly Tattoo
  • The Ashmolean
  • The White Horse Pub next to Blackwell’s

It was a spectacularly beautiful day. Self started out from Oxford City Centre and made it all the way to the Oxford Botanic Garden:

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

The Hedgehog: THE GOLDEN COMPASS, p. 72

Self began The Golden Compass having already made the acquaintance of Lyra and Lord Asriel in La Belle Sauvage (Volume One of Pullman’s new trilogy, which takes place ten years before the events of The Golden Compass).

In LBS, Lyra’s an infant. When The Golden Compass opens, Lyra’s a feisty little girl whose best friend is a boy named Roger. Together, Lyra and Roger go ranging over the rooftops of Oxford and exploring in crypts. This part of the story is sheer delight.

It’s not until Chapter 4 of The Golden Compass that she meets two other characters from LBS: Dame Hannah Reif (who is described as “an elderly, gray-haired lady” — a far cry from the woman she was in LBS. How could a person have aged so much in just ten years?) and Mrs. Coulter (who doesn’t seem to have aged a day, despite the 10 years etc)

Now, these two women (accompanied by a third, mystery woman) appear for dinner at Jordan Hall, and Lyra learns she is being sent off with Mrs. Coulter, the very next day. It doesn’t take long for self to google “Mrs. Coulter” and discover that Nicole Kidman played her in the movie adaptation, which then causes self to dislike Mrs. Coulter because self never could abide Nicole Kidman in anything, just saying.

There is a lot of cloak-and-dagger stuff even at this early stage of The Golden Compass, and self really loves how deftly Pullman navigates between the simple certainties of childhood and the edges of terror. Before Lyra leaves Jordan Hall (forever), the old Master slips her an alethiometer which isn’t actually as fabulous as it sounds because the device reveals who is lying to you, and that information always hurts because it is never who you expect.

Self loves that Lyra’s daemon is called Pantalaimon because it sounds like a cross between Shakespeare and Don Quixote, and also it is such a mouthful compared to other daemons’ names, like Ben or Asta. So the reader will never, ever forget it. And after a while, when you succeed in getting Pantalaimon to roll trippingly off your tongue, you will feel so smart. Like you’ve just aced your finals.

The daemon Pantalaimon has a tendency to shift into the most amusing animals, such as a hedgehog:

“she snapped at him, when he became a hedgehog out of pique.”– p. 72

Has self ever shared with dear blog readers that she has a special fondness for hedgehogs? She even used “hedgehog” as the worst cuss word on the planet, in her story of the far future called “Spores” (published in decomP Magazine)!

An excerpt from self’s story:

“We be needing foxes,” I said once.

“You lousy hedgehog,” the boss said, giving me a good one. My right eye swelled up almost immediately.

Would you believe that at the time self wrote the story, she had never laid eyes on an actual hedgehog? A few years ago she was at the San Francisco Zoo and finally got to see a hedgehog. It was all by itself, huddled in a far corner of a kind of pen, and it looked positively miserable.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Currently Reading: LA BELLE SAUVAGE, p. 325

Hugely enjoying Volume One (La Belle Sauvage) of Philip Pullman’s new trilogy, The Book of Dust. Love the characters, all of them. Even the villains. Kudos, Mr. Pullman.

Towards the end of the novel, a flood of Biblical proportions overwhelms Oxford, England:

“The creatures in the water . . .  I don’t mean fish neither, nor water voles; I mean the old gods. Old Father Thames. And other beings as well. There was a man with us, he saw a mermaid near Henley. The sea was so full she come right up the river, even that far from the coast, and this chap, he swore to me that if he saw the mermaid again, he’d go off with her. Well, two days later he disappeared, and chances are he did just that. I believe it, anyway.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Tweaking the Reading List, Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Spent the day trying to stay warm and dry. It’s very cold here in Mendocino. A few minutes ago, rain started to come down.

Self tried to get into Empress of the East, had high hopes, but the first chapter, Abduction, isn’t really about how Roxelana, Slave-Girl-Turned-Empress-of-the-Ottoman-Empire, was abducted. Instead, it consists of page after page of speculation about the exact spot from where she was taken. Then, a few pages of how hard it was on captives. DUH. This is dull stuff.

Luckily, self brought the next book on her reading list to Mendocino. It’s The Book of Dust, by Philip Pullman. Opening sentence:

Three miles up the river Thames from the center of Oxford, some distance from where the great colleges of Jordan, Gabriel, Balliol, and two dozen others contended for mastery in the boat races, out where the city was only a collection of towers and spires in the distance over the misty levels of Port Meadow, there stood the Priory of Godstow, where the gentle nuns went about their holy business; and on the opposite bank from the priory there was an inn called the Trout.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Three Days, Three Movies

Self has been so starved for movies.

In a prevous life, she’d be in her local cine-plex every other day.

The past couple of years, though, unless she feels really driven, she’ll go months without seeing a movie.

Here are some of the ways she shows her movie geek street cred:

Oxford, UK: She gave up seeing the Ashmolean in favor of watching Captain America (In all fairness, the movie theatre was so conveniently situated: just across from Gloucester Green)

London: She walked — walked — in full summer heat, from Russell Square to Shaftesbury Avenue, simply to watch X-Men in the Odeon.

Fort Bragg, CA: She went during a lull in a storm. The movie? Kingsmen, with Colin Firth. When she came out of the movie, the wind was blowing flat out. Self thought she was going to be swept into the ocean.

Now, in the past four days, she has seen three movies:

  • Band Aid
  • Beatriz at Dinner
  • Wonder Woman

Sorry to say, she nearly fell asleep during the action sequences at the end of Wonder Woman. But woke right up again when she saw, in the closing credits, the name of her friend’s daughter:

DIRECTED BY PATTY JENKINS

Of the movies she’s seen so far this summer, her favorite would be Beatriz at Dinner. For Connie Britton and John Lithgow’s performances.

Today, she’s going to see The Book of Henry, even though it hasn’t gotten good reviews. She loves Naomi Watts, even though she’s been so under-used by Hollywood lately.

A long time ago, self met a Mills College student at one of her San Francisco readings. Chatting with the young woman after the reading, the student revealed she made money by working part-time as an exotic dancer. And self happened to mention how much she liked Naomi Watts (What’s the connection to exotic dancing? Nothing), and the young woman said even though Watts had turned 40, if the young woman were a man, she’d definitely consider her hot.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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