#amreading: “The Daggers of Jorge Luis Borges”

From The New York Review of Books, 9 January 2014, a review by Michael Greenberg of Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature, edited by Martin Arias and Martin Hadis, and translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver (New Directions):

  • Throughout his life, Jorge Luis Borges was engaged in a dialogue with violence. Speaking to an interviewer about his childhood in what was then the outlying barrio of Palermo, in Buenos Aires, he said, “To call a man, or to think of him, as a coward — that was the last thing . . . the kind of thing he couldn’t stand.” According to his biographer, Edwin Williamson, Borges’s father handed him a dagger when he was a boy, with instructions to overcome his poor eyesight and “generally defeated” demeanor and let the boys who were bullying him know that he was a man.



#amreading: The New York Review of Books on Oliver Sacks (21 May 2015)

You will notice, dear blog reader, that all the magazines self has been quoting this week are three years old. That is because 2015 is the last year she had much leisure time. She thinks it’s a very good sign that she saved all these past issues of New York Review of Books. Like she knew, she’d be getting back to them one day. Even if that day was three years later.

Moving on.

Oliver Sacks is no longer with us. Nevertheless, his ouevre remains. Jerome Groopman, in his review of Oliver Sacks’s memoir On the Move: A Life, quotes Sacks’s description of himself:

of “vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions.” A talented student drew a contrast with Ivan Ilyich, who was passionless and shaped his behavior to strictly conform to others’ expectations. Tolstoy judged Ilyich’s life as “most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible.”

Which is why self is sharing this photo (taken at the San Carlos Auto Pride carwash):


Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

DARKEST HOUR: What’s Up With Joe Wright

2nd full day back in America, 2nd movie: Darkest Hour.

So dull.

Self has seen Atonement, which made her cry buckets.

Not that she expects every Joe Wright to make her cry buckets, just that she likes movies to engage her emotions and this one didn’t.

Well, self did feel bad for the 4,000 British troops at Calais who were ordered to attack the advancing Germans, all to enable the main body of the British army to be evacuated from Dunkirk (almost 300,000 men)

Perhaps self was in a mood because she did not get to see I, Tonya.

Instead she got to watch Gary Oldman do Winston Churchill and his portrayal was rather baffling. Self had no idea that Churchill was such a bumbling, distracted man, whose only skill apparently was a penchant for rousing words and an ability to get the pulse of the British people.

He was a populist! Who would have thought!

The scene in the underground was very, very contrived.

Two stars, maybe?

Kudos nevertheless to Stephen Dillane for making her completely forget Stannis Baratheon in his portrayal of Churchill antagonist Viscount Halifax, and to Samuel West for still being Samuel West, and to Lily James for performing the role of ingenue/typist so flawlessly.

Someone started coughing loud in the last half hour or so of the movie, and a young woman yelled, from way across the theatre: Hey, would you do your coughing outside?

Which surprised self exceedingly because she didn’t notice any young people in the audience before the lights went down. But it is a very good thing to know that young people are interested in watching this movie that has absolutely no battle scenes (i.e.,  more spittle than blood).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Recommended Reading: Women Writing (Comics, Nonfiction, Novellas)


Skinning the Rabbit, by Jane Eaton Hamilton (The Sun, July 2017)

The Cone of Uncertainty: Parenting on the Edge of Climate Change, by Sarah Grey (Salvage Quarterly, 28 November 2017)

On Yoga, Diversity Lite, and the Empire of American Wellness, by Namrata Poddar (CounterPunch, 3 November 2017)

The New Bad Girls of Contemporary Literature, by Myriam Gurba (Literary Hub, 1 December 2017)

Why are America’s farmers killing themselves in record numbers? by Debbie Weingarten (The Guardian, 6 December 2017)


DC New Talent Showcase 2017


In Search of Lost Butter Chicken, by Sukhada Tatke (National Geographic Traveler: India, June 2017)


Day of All Saints, by Patricia Grace King (Miami University Press, November 2017)

I Don’t Think of You (Until I Do), by Tatiana Ryckman (Future Tense Books, September 2017)



Quote of the Day: Marcia Angell Reviews Atul Gawande’s BEING MORTAL

This is the opening sentence of Angell’s review, which appeared in The New York Review of Books in 8 January 2015:

  • In his newest and best book, the surgeon Atul Gawande lets us have it right between the eyes: no matter how careful we are or healthful our habits, like everyone else, we will die, and probably after a long period of decline and debility . . .  Furthermore, the medical system will be of very little help at the end.


Readings of the Day: Waterloo/The Verge on GoTS7 Episode 6: “Beyond the Wall”

Self’s reading has been all over the map lately, from the Battle of Waterloo (Fantastic reading: Waterloo: the History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles) to reviews of the latest episode of Game of Thrones Season 7. Anyhoo, there’s only a few days left until the finale of the Game of Thrones 7th season, so the schizoid nature of self’s reading will soon cease.

First, the sentence from Waterloo. The narrative is now on 17 June 1815. A lot of men are dying or wounded, and Wellington gives the command to withdraw. This can only happen after the wounded are cleared from the battlefield. And since there are so many wounded, that operation takes some time.

p. 111: Wellington wanted the retreat done calmly and, as if to demonstrate his unconcern, he lay down in a pasture and put a newspaper over his face and pretended to sleep.

Self really enjoys the Game of Thrones Season 7 recaps on The Verge. Most of all, she likes Tasha’s breakdown of the first 18 minutes of Episode 6, Beyond the Wall:

I could have watched an entire episode that was just these Seven Samurai (give or take a few ablative redshirts, who the White Walkers and their pet dead-bear unerringly identified somehow as the ones to kill first) working out their grievances and expressing what’s important to them.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.



MVP: “Beyond the Wall,” GoT 7:06


“Beyond the Wall”: Game of Thrones, Season 7, Episode 6

MVP: The Hound

Because, seriously, the way he was front and center of all the fight scenes.

Self’s beloved Gendry was tucked safely out of harm’s way by his newfound bestie, Jon Snow. “Go run back to Eastwatch, Gendry!”

Points to the King of the North for doing his best to keep the last Baratheon Bastard alive until Season 8!

Best Lines:

Tormund/The Hound/Gendry/Tyrion

Most Heartstopping Moment: When she thought Tormund was going to be dragged through A HOLE IN THE ICE with white walkers grabbing his legs (Self thought they hated water???)

Come to think of it, there was another heartstopping moment, that she learned about on Twitter via spoiler, but she did not expect to worry that Tormund might die, so she’ll give the Heartstopping Moment Award to Tormund.

Self forgets everything said back at Winterfell. Oh! Brienne spoke. And she was honorable and doomed. Revealing her distrust of Littlefinger to Sansa? Not perhaps the best idea.

Arya’s collection of creepy Fun-House faces: probably a B. Sansa registered the requisite shock, but the mask (Frey’s?) looked like self’s neighborhood costume shop Halloween latex. To Arya’s overall affect this episode: also a B.

Sansa gets an A because the poor dear was so worried that her own sister might carve off her face. No one deserves to endure that kind of fear. No one. Not even Sansa.

A+ Wight: The one dragging the sword across the ice

B+ Wight: The captive wight; for sending the alarm, despite having half its jaw torn off by The Hound

Gendry’s buzzcut finally revealed its utility in this episode: it is easier to tell who he is, with hood down and buzzcut.

Also, the man does NOT run like a penguin. Do viewers understand the mechanics of running through snow? He did the best he could, considering he had never seen snow before and was probably falling into snow drifts and slipping and sliding and what-not.

Hmmm, what else?

Oh yes. The wounds on Jon Snow’s torso: they looked exceedingly fresh. And he looked very pale, almost corpse-like. Jon Snow’s wounds = B+

Gendry collapsing right in front of the Wall: YES! A+ !!!!

Ser Davos being the first of the rescuers to reach Gendry: All the FEELZ! A++

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


The Verge on Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 2: “Stormborn”

Self had to sign up for Amazon Prime solely in order to be able to watch Game of Thrones Season 7. She got the first week of HBO free, but now she’s being charged $14.99/month. It’s all good because if she weren’t able to watch GoT Season 7, especially now with confirmation that Gendry would be returning (At last! My Gendry is in the House! Gendry is back, people!), she would just die.

Under the foolish assumption that having HBO deliver the show directly to her feed means she can watch Episode 3 about 12 hours ahead of anyone else, she keeps checking her Amazon link to make sure it is “good” and that the signal is strong. As of right now, there is nada.

So, here she is, all lonesome and frustrated and wondering how she is going to fill the next 12 hours. And then she stumbles on The Verge. Wow, whoever writes the show re-caps is so on point!

There’s this:

We’re back in King’s Landing before you can say “the feature-film debut of pop sensation Britney Spears,” and it seems to me like we could have just stayed here and held off on the 90-second greyscale explainer video until later, but it’s not my show. Cersei and Qyburn take a stroll through the Red Keep’s basement collection of skulls, where he unveils his dragon-slaying plan: a sinister-looking mechanical crossbow loaded with an enormous spear, which he claims “the finest artisan blacksmiths in King’s Landing” have been working on for months.”

  • Wait a minute: Did Qyburn actually use the words “finest artisan blacksmiths in King’s Landing?” Or did he just say “finest blacksmiths”? Because there is a difference. At this point, any mention of the word “blacksmith” has self going waaaay waaaay back in time, to Seasons 2 and 3. Because reasons. Anyhoo, end of digression.

I don’t know, I mean, it’s just a crossbow loaded with a spear. It looks to be only about 1.5 times larger than the one Joffrey was using to pick off prostitutes six years ago. But it successfully shoots a centuries-old dragon skull that is sitting perfectly still . . .  on the ground . . . about 15 feet away. Oh baby, here is a foolproof plan if I ever saw one. And artisanal!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.



Game of Thrones, Season 7 Episode 2: Minutiae, As Usual

If you still haven’t seen Season 7 Episode 2, then obviously SPOILER ALERT

Gendry did not show his lovely face, but almost every second of screen time was a reminder. D & D love messing with us! Just cut it out, you two!

Here’s a list of times when self couldn’t help thinking of The Last Baratheon:

  • Dragonstone war room. Many, many things happened in this room. Such as: Stannis. Such as Stannis and Melisandre on the map table. Such as Gendry’s first meeting with his uncle Stannis grabbing his face and saying, “Half Robert and half lowborn.” Remember poor Gendry’s look of bewilderment?
  • Melisandre. She took Gendry from Arya! We will never forget the leeches. Never.
  • The conversation between Dany and Varys: Almost every sentence had the word Baratheon in it. This has got to be foreshadowing, right? Since both Cersei and Danys seemed to sneer every time they made reference to King Robert, self thinks Gendry is pretty smart to stay out of sight and under the radar. Keep rowing, Gendry!
  • Not only was the word Baratheon sprinkled liberally throughout the convo, Varys also brought up his concern for the common people. And we all know Gendry is a commoner. (Varys knows about Gendry! Oh my Lord! Mebbe he is Gendry’s Secret Protector!)
  • Cersei going with Qyburn to the crypts where he unveils a fantastic dragon-killing machine, forged by “the finest blacksmiths.” You say blacksmith, self thinks Gendry!
  • Arya bumping into Hot Pie. The missing member of this threesome was very much in the room, even though neither Arya nor Hot Pie ever mentioned his name.
  • Someone tracking Arya in the woods. That could be Gendry! He’s hiding behind a tree, observing Arya (100% wishful thinking. Again.) Self wonders if Hot Pie and Gendry ever get to share a scene; mebbe Hot Pie brings up the fact that he’d just seen Arya?

Moving on.


  • That sea battle was so kickass!
  • Yara. Just, more Yara. Yara putting her legs on the table. That moment when she realizes all is lost, and gets a really determined look on her face. Gemma Whalen is fanta-ma-tas-tic! Self knows this because she has seen Gemma in RL and she is such an itty bitty thing. This actress projects huge.
  • Olenna Tyrell, always a scene stealer.
  • Varys. Loved his conversation with Dany.
  • Cersei. Lena Headey, you are such a queen!
  • Jon almost strangling Littlefinger. More!
  • Hot Pie. Good at any time, but especially good at dropping Easter Eggs.
  • Theon abandoning ship. It is so perfectly in character. Plus, his backstory (and continuing evolution) is fascinating.


  • Ser Jorah. Just got itchy looking at him. Fast forward over the “cure.” You’ll know it’s over when Sam stops retching.
  • Surprisingly, the absolute bulk of Nymeria. She looked like she’d wandered in from a Ray Harryhausen movie.
  • Euron’s grand entrance. Hey, this isn’t Scaramouche!


  • Missandei/Grey Worm. She just can’t get excited about these two. Although Grey Worm is pretty fabulous, especially from the back. Three cheers for D & D, finally showing us what the character’s hiding beneath all that armour.
  • Tyene Sands’ long hair. This character is going to die, and all self could think was: Why did she decide to grow out her hair? Somehow, self can’t get past it.

In closing, self would just like to say that the reddit user who, a few weeks ago, posted a blow-by-blow of Season 7 (since taken down) was correct in every little plot detail. Here’s what he said about Gendry’s return: it happens in Episode 5. And Arya and Gendry don’t meet until the final episode of Season 7.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

USA Today Review of Game of Thrones S7 Ep. 1: I FEEL This

from Kelly Lawler’s review in USA Today, 16 July 2017:

Game of Thrones returned for its seventh season Sunday with expectations higher than ever, following a strong, forward-moving Season 6. It seemed like we were in for something bombastic in the premiere, titled Dragonstone, after the ancestral home of Daenerys Targaryen, one of the series’ more fiery characters. But while Thrones moved at a speedy pace last season — and now has just 12 seasons in total — the episode played out like the slow-moving and exposition-heavy premieres of seasons past. And there isn’t really time for that, not anymore.

Sure, viewers were treated to an opening scene soaked in the blood of the entire Frey family. But they also sat through an almost agonizingly unsubtle Ed Sheeran cameo, monologues from minor characters and overlong meetings. And even Arya’s mass murder felt like an unnecessary extension of a better scene in the Season 6 finale. Who knew the epic story of Westeros had this kind of time?

And that’s self’s beef, too. They had time to give Euron Greyjoy a sexy make-over and they forgot about Gendry? He’s plenty sexy enough, no need to sexy up Euron. Or even develop Euron. It’s the penultimate season. Do we have time for this? Do we even have time for Missandei/Grey Worm hook-up? (Hope it’s over in five minutes; that part of the story feels so blatantly fan service)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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