More From Gary Kamiya

Love Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco. Reading the essays in it painstakingly slowly.

Gary Kamiya was one of the founders of (still going strong!). An ex-fellow Fellow from Stanford, Jim Paul, used to write for them. As did Chitra Divakaruni. As did Laura Miller. As did Heather Havrilesky.

Self is on Essay # 5, The Harbor at the End of the World:

A 1508 map by Johannes Ruysch depicts South America as the New World, with Asia in the place where North America actually is.


Private beach access for this homeowner along the Mendocino coast

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Found You, William Harvey

Self looked him up last Fall, when she was wandering around the East Coast.

She didn’t even know his name, then.

All she knew was that, in the days following 9/11, she was stuck on, reading anything and everything.

And there was a piece titled:

Juilliard Student Plays the Concert of His Life

Maybe that’s not the exact title, but that was the gist.

It was first-person. The writer was a freshman at Juilliard when 9/11 happened. He didn’t even have to think twice: he grabbed his violin, headed downtown. And then, he played in the Armory. Hours and hours. Until his fingers bled (? She thinks, anyway). And Juilliard sent its students to keep the music going. The students literally played until they couldn’t lift their arms anymore. Firemen were standing there, weeping. Exhausted and weeping. is still around (Thank goodness. It has introduced self to so many good writers) From time to time, self will do an archive search on, but she never found the original posting. But, by dint of patient digging and Google, she found the student’s name. And she found his website. She found that the Armory concert was only the first of many good acts he was to do.

His latest project? He is “traveling to all 50 states in 2016, asking What is American culture?

Read his blog so you can follow him along. There’s still a lot of 2016 left!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

First Responders, 9/11

Self was in New York just this past fall.

For some reason, she remembered an article she read in Salon, only days after 9/11. It was a first-person piece written by a student at Juilliard who, as soon as he got the news, grabbed his violin and headed downtown.

The Armory was where the injured were taken, and that’s where the music student decided to play. He played, Salon said, “the concert of his life.”

He played until his fingers bled. The weary and bedraggled survivors, the firemen, everyone listening at the Armory were in tears.

When he could no longer play, another student came and took his place.

So, in New York, this past fall, after a very determined internet search, self found the identity of the young man: William Harvey.

Did you know that self wrote her very own 9/11 story? It was very short. LitnImage published it. It was called “Wavering.”

LitnImage no longer exists. The link she posted a while back came back “broken.”

In her story, a businessman was late getting to work because his wife found out he was having an office affair and they fought.

In self’s story, the businessman arrives too late. His lover is up there in one of the towers, and he can’t get to her. And something in him dies, too. Even though he stays married. And all the wife reaps is bitterness.

Recently, Congress passed a law according medical care to the first responders of 9/11. She thinks she heard a figure like, roughly 4,000 first responders developed cancer. (If you add that figure to the number who were killed in the collapse of the towers, the number of 9/11 victims actually doubles and becomes close to 10,000)

On TV a few days ago, on a show about a medium, a wife tells the story of how her husband, a fireman, went straight to the World Trade Center and stayed there for days. When the TV show began, self was expecting to hear that the woman’s husband died during the collapse. But no. It turns out he lived for several years after, but he got cancer.

And self wondered: why did it take 14 years for Congress to pass a bill according these men medical care?

Self wrote another 9/11 piece called “The Walker.” Would you believe, the Yale Review wrote her about it? It was rejected, but just barely. She still has the story in her files. She hasn’t sent it out since.

Roughly, it’s about an insomniac who roams his neighborhood at 3 a.m., whose Filipino neighbor has a counter on his front lawn, counting the days after 9/11: Day 1, Day 2, and so forth.

So the man roams his neighborhood and is struck by the fact that the counter has been put away. It was the day after Osama bin Laden was killed.

When 9/11 happened, self was a visiting instructor at Santa Clara. When she asked the students to write about 9/11, they said “It’s such a cliché.” And six of those students went to the Department Chair and complained about her.


Why wouldn’t you write about 9/11? Especially since it just happened. Self was barely hanging on, it felt like such a travesty to tell the students to do craft-y exercises like construct/de-construct or do meta-fiction.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Spotted in “Anchorman 2”

Borat * Doby the Shark * Christina Applegate * Will Ferrell * Paul Rudd * Steve Carell * Kristen Wiig * Liam Neeson * Kanye * Kirsten Dunst (as a beautiful goddess!) * an RV on cruise control * random comment about Filipinos * GNN (for Global News Network) * Marion Cotillard * Jim Carrey * Tina Fey/Amy Poehler * Vince Vaughn * precocious piano-playing kid

The funniest thing in Anchorman 2 (outside of Will Ferrell and Steve Carell) was a deliciously smarmy TV anchorman played by James Marsden.  Self isn’t a big Marsden fan, but she really liked his performance here.

This is not really a review of Anchorman 2.  If you liked the original movie, you will love this one.

Oh, and something else:  the way Kristen Wiig’s character and Steve Carell’s character drive an uptight newswoman almost crazy is 100% believable.  If someone who worked for you in an office screamed at maximum volume like that, would it qualify as abuse?  Do dear blog readers realize how difficult it would be to label — even describe — such behavior?  Therefore, it is brilliant.

On to Pajiba’s picks of the 5 Best Skits of SNL, which self read via

Self loved the just-ended season of SNL.  She watched it (almost every Saturday) without fail (but still managed to miss Kerry Washington’s hosting gig, which apparently was the best episode of the season, according to — go figure!)

She caught Ed Norton (meh) and John Goodman (more meh) and Jimmy Fallon last week (surprisingly meh) and Josh Hutcherson (adorable!).

She missed Miley Cyrus’s appearance.

The best SNL skit of the season was a pitch-perfect parody of Wes Anderson (during Ed Norton’s hosting gig), called “The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders.”  Watch and be slayed, dear blog readers!  Self loved the way Ed Norton channeled Owen Wilson.  It wasn’t just the bleached blonde wig (although that was pretty fabulous).  It was the way Norton nailed the Owen Wilson drawl, the whole surfer-dude affect.

Stay tuned.

Your Own Reality Show

Zack said to self:  “You should have your own reality show!”

You think?

On the cover of the current People Magazine (Sept. 23, 2013) is Bethenny Frankel, whose appearance in The Real Housewives of New York City launched a series of other reality shows (“Bethenny Getting Married” etc)

Self remembers watching the show and then reading something about Bethenny written by Heather Havrilesky, at that time still the television critic, and self’s FAVORITE writer (She’s moved on, not sure where).  Havrilesky seemed to have enjoyed Bethenny the most of all her co-stars on the Housewives of New York City show.

Inspired by Havrilesky’s article, self left one of her (very rare) comments on, saying she agreed with Heather 100%, Bethenny was indeed a scream!

Then follow-up commenters decried self for being shallow, stupid, etc

Anyhoo, Bethenny has left The Real Housewives of New York City far, far behind.  She had not one but two reality show spin-offs and then launched her own brand of clothing, Skinnygirl.

She subsequently rocked whatever bikini she happened to be wearing, even when eight months pregnant.

She subsequently broke up with her husband of two years, Jason Hoppy.

Now she has her own daytime TV talk show.  Self caught an episode a few days ago:  A man was given a Brazilian wax (The pertinent areas discreetly hidden by a towel) right there on the stage, while Bethenny and three other women looked on with great interest.

Har! Har! Har!

In the People Magazine issue, Bethenny rocks a neon fuschia mini.  Wow, that woman just seems to get more and more ripped!

Cover Article, People Magazine, Sept. 23, 2013

Cover Article, People Magazine, Sept. 23, 2013

In the course of trying to locate that Havrilesky quote about Bethenny, self stumbled on another great Havrilesky article, this one on the Real Housewives of D. C.  The whole article is a scream, but self particularly loves this passage:

A Real Housewives spinoff without a few instigators is like Jersey Shore without spray tans:  unthinkable.  But Cat already seems so over-the-top arrogant that she’s sort of roasting the golden goose before it’s time to feast.  The best villains are the ones who smile politely, then slink out of the shadows and slit your throat.

And now, back to the People Magazine article.  Bethenny is quoted as saying:  “No moment — no matter how stressful or difficult it is —  is ever going to be life or death.”  You said it, girl!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned. on “Justified” Love

Today, in preparation for some really hard, serious intellectual teaching work (as opposed to the physical exertion of gardening in extreme cold and walking downtown and back), self did her usual perusal of her various e-mail accounts.  In her gmail “In” box was a notice from alerting her to the latest articles, and when self saw something called “Raylan Givens Justified My Love” she didn’t need to be told twice, her fingers moved quicker than lightning and

OMG, dear blog readers, is this not the most gorgeous picture of Timothy Olyphant wearing the white Stetson?

Last Tuesday (Can it really have been a mere five days ago?) self waited all agog for Episode 1 of the 4th season of “Justified.”  She had to kick The Man off the HDTV in the living room, for it would have been such a waste to watch Timothy Olyphant on the teensy, old TV in son’s bedroom.

Winona seems to have gone bye-bye, permanently, and self is glad because the actress who played her was too thin.  (Self realizes this sounds extremely superficial.  But she is firm in her opinion that Raylan needs a real dame!  One with killer curves!)

There is of course Walton Goggins aka Boyd Crowder flashing his killer grin (Self recognized him immediately in Django Unchained, where he plays a stupider version of his Justified self), and of course Our Man Raylan, who still looks so adorable in those low-slung jeans.  Self wonders who this season’s Epic Bad-Ass will be.  She thinks Neal McDonough, Baddie of Season 3, was pretty good, but could not top Season 2’s Evil Matriarch Mags Bennett, and her equivally malevolent brood.

Anyhoo, here are some pertinent quotes from the article, which is by Lorraine Berry:

  • “While Olyphant is a fiendishly handsome guy, I don’t feel an erotic attraction to Givens . . . ”  (Oh, SHUT UP, Ms. Berry!)
  • “For us, our interest in Justified commands that we not only make sure that we are home to keep our appointment with the show’s original viewing time, but then also leads us to watch the show the next night, on DVR, where we can stop it every few moments to discuss the last snippet of dialogue or to start to unpack the central conflict that drives the series.”  Why not just do what self does on Tuesday nights?  She watches the 10 p.m. show, then the repeat at 11 p.m., and even the second repeat which begins at midnight, until finally she falls asleep, the voice of Timothy Olyphant permeating her dreams . . .  (Woman, you need to get a hold on yourself!)

The article then goes on to “unpack” the following relationships:

Raylan and his boss, Art Mullen:  About this, self will refer dear blog readers to Season 1, when Raylan lost his white Stetson, and it somehow came into the possession of his boss, and the actor who plays Art Mullen, Nick Searcy, (who is, in self’s opinion, long overdue for an Emmy nomination) said:  “How’d you lose your hat?  You weren’t raped, were you?” or something to that effect.  Self knows this isn’t a funny line in print.  But you’d have to hear Nick Searcy deliver that line, and see the look on Timothy Olyphant’s face, to get the full comic import.

Raylan and Mags Bennett :  This relationship achieved glorious apogee in Season 2.  There is a scene where Raylan puts his hand against Mags Bennett’s chest, and the gesture comes off as, not rude, but firm.  How’d Olyphant manage that?  Again, dear blog readers, you’d have to see the scene with your own two eyes.

Then the article goes on and on and on and on and on, dissecting what the writer refers to as the “Raylan swagger.”  She’s not sure why the word “swagger” is used to describe Olyphant’s affect.  The man is pure sex appeal, that’s all.  If Quentin Tarantino played Raylan Givens, there’d be no article on  Olyphant is the Brad Pitt of television!

Oh and by the way, his deputy, the sharpshooter whose name self forgets, is also pretty cute.  And where’s Erica Taziel?  Self loves whenever episodes focus on her character.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Kathryn Bigelow, by Way of

If Kathryn Bigelow never did anything else, for the rest of her life, she would still go down in history as the woman who made two of the best war movies of our time.

Since self is such a maven for lists, she decides to list all the war movies of recent memory that made the deepest impression on her.  They include:

  • Black Book, directed by Paul Verhoeven
  • Henry V, directed by Kenneth Branagh
  • Kagemusha, directed by Akira Kurosawa
  • Platoon, directed by Oliver Stone
  • Schindler’s List, directed by Steven Spielberg
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, directed by Mark Herman
  • The Deer Hunter, directed by Michael Cimino
  • The Last of the Mohicans, directed by Michael Mann
  • Three Kings, directed by David O. Russell

All of the movies in the above list were directed by men, so Bigelow’s achievement is huge.  HUGE. movie critic Andrew O’Hehir selected Zero Dark Thirty as one of the best movies of 2012.  Apparently, there’s a controversy over the torture scenes, something to do with a State Department denial that torture was ever used to extract information that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

O’Hehir posted today about the New York Film Critics Circle’s annual dinner with Hollywood celebs.  Bigelow was one of the invited speakers, and O’Hehir quotes her as saying she was “grateful to be in a room of people who understand that depiction is not endorsement, and if it was, no artist could ever portray inhumane practices.”  Very well put, in self’s humble opinion.

But there’s more:

“As for her unwillingness to discuss her specific intentions, she joked, we had to remember that she came from the visual art world, where the goal is always to obfuscate rather than explain.”

Wow, she is eloquent, isn’t she?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


This was self in 2004:

She was a Visiting Writer in Miami University in Ohio.  The day of the elections, she had to teach.  Afterwards, she couldn’t wait to get back to her lodgings, only to watch as Jon Stewart announced state-by-state tallies for Bush, watch in total despair as Stewart finally tore up his cue cards in mock frustration.  At some point, she remembers Stewart saying, “Am I dreaming?”

Her brother-in-law in New York said, about Bacolod:  “Sad.  This is how it is going to end.”

And that was almost two years ago!  Self thought he was joking!

Brother-in-law, you are positively prescient!

So, yesterday, self kept listening to the news from America.  And when she finally saw the tallies at the bottom of the TV screen (Obama:  303 electoral votes, Romney much less), she was utterly amazed.  Amazed and joyful.

You did it, O!  You did it!

Self watched Obama’s acceptance speech and he extolled Biden.

Who would have thought?  It sometimes seemed as if the President spent the last four years hiding Biden, the vice president was prone to such terrible gaffes.

But when the chips were down, and the results were on the line, after Obama sleep-walked through the first presidential debate and everyone declared him down and out for the count, Biden picked up the cudgels, stepped to the plate, and killed during his debate with his vice presidential opponent, Ryan.  And that was enough to swing the polls the other way, back again to Obama.

Ladies and gentlemen, this was a very hard-fought race, perhaps the closest presidential election in history, and self watched it all from Bacolod, in the midst of her own private family melodrama.

During the past month, she spent most of her blogging time on her responses to a book by Obama called Dreams From My Father:  A Story of Race and Inheritance.  She could never have predicted the intensity of her response.  She was glad she read it because, until then, self wasn’t sure she even liked Obama.  She thought of him as Mr. Detached.

Here is an abbreviated list of today’s headline articles from

  • Nate Silver Nails It (While votes were “still being tallied . . . the New York Times poll guru . . .  predicted every state correctly.”  You rock, Nate!)
  • Why Losing Is Good for Mitt (” . . .  his defeat will actually improve his place in history”)
  • The 20 Biggest Sore Losers of Election Night
  • Fox News’ Dark Night of the Soul (“Karl Rove Tries to Undo Ohio”!)

And the biggest winner of all:  self’s confused family back there in California!

Dear blog readers, did self rock this island, or what?

Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Nelle Engoron on the Latest Episode of “Mad Men”

Good morning.  Self is in dire need of caffeine fix:

Self's first action, every morning: starting some coffee. This is Kenyan from Peet's.

She greets The Ancient One:

Bella is 16 Years Old

Bella was born on Sept. 30, 1995.  If you multiply her age by the number 7, that translates, in “human years,” to 112.  The irony is that she out-lived self’s other beagle, Gracie, who passed away in April 2011.  Gracie was not even 10 (Mourn, mourn, mourn)

But, pardon the digression, dear blog readers.  What triggered this post was a review of the most recent episode of Mad Men, “Tea Leaves.”

The author of the review is a name new to self:  Nelle Engoron.  According to her bio, she is “a freelance writer, Open Salon blogger, and the author of Mad Men Unmasked:  Decoding Season 4.”

In today’s, she writes:

. . .  life is like waiting all night in a crowded concrete hallway thinking you’re about to meet the Rolling Stones, only to find out that you’ve signed a deal with the Trade Winds instead.

All youthful dreams die, and adult life is the long, slow accommodation to the way things actually are versus the way we not only hoped but believed they’d be (As Henry puts it later in a more hopeful context, “This is what it could be, but it’s not gonna be.”)

But self begs to differ with Engoron.  Sometimes, youthful dreams do bear fruit.  Exhibit A:  Self’s life, in the past year or so.  In the meantime, self has hopes —  some very high hopes —  for her 15-page pig-story-of-the-apocalypse, “Thing.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Great “Alternative Emmys” Article on!

The Reigning King of Lists (in Entertainment-Related Articles) is, in self’s humble opinion,’s Matt Zoller Seitz.  She loves his slideshow, “Who Would Win at the Alternative Emmys?”

Self recommends going over to, but for those extremely short of time, here’s an abbreviated version:

  • Best Monologue:  “Justified” Season 2, Episode 12:  “Reckoning” (Matt explains why —  self heartily agrees.  Not to mention the fact that this is an iconic role for Timothy Olyphant, who was stuck in mostly forgettable movies and is having a kind of hot streak in television)
  • Best Love Scene:  “The Good Wife” Season 2, Episode 23:  “Closing Arguments” (Watch the video —  self has never seen Julianna Margulies looking so hot)
  • Best Individual Episode, Unscripted Series:  “Deadliest Catch” Season 6, Episode 14:  “Redemption Day” (“The Season 6 finale in which Phil Harris, the captain of the Cornelia Marie, died in the hospital a few days after suffering a stroke . . .  it was a textbook example of how to wring maximum emotional power from a real-life tragedy without being crass or ghoulish.”)
  • Best Individual Episode, Comedy:  “Community” Season 2, Episode 19:  “Critical Film Studies” (Certifiably funny.  All hail, Danny Pudi)
  • Best Individual Episode, Drama:  “Mad Men” Season 4, Episode 7:  “The Suitcase” (” . . .  all things considered, the best all-around episode of any TV series to air during the 2010-2011 Emmy eligibility period.”)
  • Best Monster:  Snake-mouthed Anna on “V” (If you don’t want to get nightmares, dear blog readers, skip the visuals on this one.  Morena Baccarin, a real beauty, is the epitome of horrific)
  • Best Comedy Sequence:  “South Park” Season 15, Episode 3:  “Royal Pudding”  (Can you believe “South Park” is in its 15th season???  The writing keeps getting sharper.  All hail, Trey Parker and Matt Stone)
  • Best Death Scene:  “Game of Thrones” Season 1, Episode 9:  “Baelor” (The execution of Eddard “Ned” Stark, played by Sean Bean.  “Many major characters die each year on television; few passings have the impact of this one.”)
  • Best Action Sequence:  “Southland”  Season 3, Episode 10:  “Graduation Day”  (Seitz calls this series “brilliant and criminally underappreciated”)
  • Best Cameo:  Tom Noonan on “Louie”  Season 1, Episode 11:  “God”  (Noonan “appears in a childhood flashback as a priest brought in to talk to young Louie and his Catholic school classmates about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  But he doesn’t tackle the subject from a theological angle.  He concentrates exclusively on Christ’s physical suffering, taking the children through his torture and death step-by-step using young Louie as a stand-in.”)

At one time, self loved the MTV Movie Awards because they were refreshingly “alternative.”  Now they are just lame (A “Twilight”movie  wins best picture every year.  YAAAWN!).

She’s been looking for true alternative categories for ages.  Thank you, Matt Zoller Seitz, for filling the gap.

(A reader recommends another category:  Best Villain.  Excellent suggestion!  The reader suggests either Ruth Wilson from “Luther” or Walton Goggins from “Justified.”  Self doesn’t think Goggins is actually a Bad Guy.  His role isn’t, anyway.  No, the true villain on “Justified” Season 2 was undoubtedly Mags Bennett, played by Margo Martindale.  The way Martindale played her, she was all matronly motherliness.  But with a venomous heart.  Her death scene?  Priceless.  That’ll be a hard role to top for anyone who steps in as Villain on “Justified” Season 3)

Stay tuned.

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