This: Sou’wester, Spring 2007

The story of the Americans, the Filipinos, the Spanish, a martyr, and a very famous oil lamp:

Manila, 1898:

As Jose Rizal was lined up before the Spanish firing squad, labeled a renegade and underground solidarity worker, American Commodore George Dewey sailed into Manila Bay.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

WATERLOO: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles

Self has moved to the next book on her reading list: Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles, by Bernard Cornwell

She’s on a history/nonfiction binge, which started mid-June. Waterloo is almost novelistic in its approach.

p. 20:

  • “It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.”

— Robert E. Lee, Confederate General

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Wondering About Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3

It is sweltering here up in the Pasadena Hills, and self feels no inclination to go outside. In the daytime, Pasadena is a sleepy city. At night, everyone drives with fury almost, zipping past slower cars and switching lanes with abandon. Self finds it very disconcerting. Especially as her GPS Navigator tells her where to turn only after she reaches an intersection, at which point she is usually in the wrong lane.

So, no going outside today. She’s re-reading a Calyx poetry anthology, A Fierce Brightness: Twenty-Five Years of Women’s Poetry, which she stumbled across in her house two weeks ago. Here’s the first half of a poem by Sheila Demetre:

A Woman Is Running For Her Life

Under my ribcage a live coal
is singing. It wheedles from its hutch
of bone, glows blue in every kindling breath.

I need these bright shoes to burn up centuries
of inertia, of sickness holding me limp
with forehead ground against my tangled knees.

Celestial now, I’m all brush and sweep.
My elbows scribble, quickening the air I slog.
Don’t touch my sparks, my hieroglyphs of heat.

She absolutely loves the “hieroglyphs of heat.”

Tomorrow is Episode 3 of Game of Thrones. Does Euron die? Does Yara die? Does Ellaria Sand die? Does Olenna Tyrell die? Does Grey Worm die? If Grey Worm dies, will Missandei go crazy? Does Meera Reed die? If Meera dies, does Bran get to have a wheelchair at last? Do we see Gendry (finally? Cause the tweets are getting ridiculous) Do Brienne and Podrick get to spar again? Does Ned Stark come back from the dead? Does Stannis Baratheon come back from the dead? Will we see more of Ser Jorah’s horrible greyscale? Will Sam be retching again? Will Dany continue to be her insufferable self? Will Sansa be more of her cryptic self? Will Jaime continue to be disconcerted? Will Cersei continue to be sarcastic? Will we ever find out which skilled blacksmiths created the Giant Crossbow aka Dragonkiller? Will Arya Stark continue to evolve? Will Wun Wun come back as a wight?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Looking Back: “Thing”

“Thing” was the first of self’s dystopian fantasies to be published. It appeared in New Orleans Review, Vol. 38.1, 2012.

In the far future, a zoo for pigs exists in the desert. The minders are mutants, like the pigs they care for. The characters have names like Shrimp and Plankton (An editor asked if I got the names from SpongeBob Squarepants and I was so confused)

We feed the animals, clean their pens, that kind of thing. Our pigs are the result of experiments. They have all kinds of weird traits: one had a mouth in the middle of its forehead. Another had six legs. Another stared skyward, unable to bend its neck. Still another had the body of a snake and three noses. Each of the Not-Rights was unique and completely different from the others.

The mouth-in-the-forehead pig was mine. I named it Ed. I remembered that name from somewhere, I’m not sure where. When it cried, white foam spilled out of its mouth; the red of its pupils was astonishing, like fire. I never got tired of looking at it. It lasted longer than the others, I even let myself hope that it would happen differently. But one day its bristles started to fall out — big, black clumps of them, all over the pen. After that, it was just days.

But why should a pig cry, Shrimp said. What gives it the right?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

#amreading: THE THREE-YEAR SWIM CLUB, by Julie Checkoway

Self got this helpful reminder from Goodreads: You participated in the 2017 Reading Challenge. You have promised to read 30 books.

She’s on p. 326 of The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui’s Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory.

The swimmers take part in the first post-war Olympics, which take place in a “positively dreary” 1948 London. They are welcomed to Wembley Stadium by this sign:

Welcome to the Olympic Games. This road is a danger area.

Over the scoreboard are these words (from Baron de Coubertin):

The important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part. The essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.

Self is fascinated by the Chapter Detroit, Redux (1948) because the Europe it depicts is so starkly different. Plus, the opening ceremonies are July 29, and now is July 22. The anniversary is just one week away!

Among the difficulties of the time:

One practice pool was “open for practice to each of the thirty-seven nations for a mere two hours per day. The rest of the time they had to practice to distant pools . . .  In the end, the swim committee had to settle for having the teams practice in off-hours, during closing times . . . in more than twenty-three separate venues across the city.”

Very interesting.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

Finishing BARBARIAN DAYS

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life is a 500-page memoir. Self has got to admire William Finnegan’s nerve.

The pace is unrelenting but it’s so well-written that self can’t stop.

Questions, as she races through the final hundred pages:

  • Does anyone die? Because Finnegan is so good at describing close calls: his own (of course he can’t die, lol. The author never does) as well as others. So she naturally assumes all these close calls have to culminate in a close call that ends up being a final call. So far, p. 466, no one has. Lucky!
  • When is Finnegan going to stop? When is he going to decide that he’s too old to surf? How does this story end?
  • Finnegan gets a plum job with The New Yorker. How? It’s never fully explained. Self sincerely wants to know how a committed surfer becomes a New Yorker writer, without giving up surfing. Or, surfing as much as he seems to do. One minute he’s traveling the world in the search for the perfect wave, the next he’s a writer for the New Yorker? Self wished there was a brief explanation of how he landed it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More from the Novel-in-Progress

Excerpt from a letter Matias writes to his Superior in Madrid, dated the 29th of October, 1757:

Your Reverence,

The ship lumbered forward, like a mighty beast. Finally, we sailed into a beautiful natural harbor. I was eager to be down the gangplank and standing on the pier. The Archbishop of Manila sent his carriage to fetch me to his residence, which sits directly behind the magnificent Augustinian church. The Archbishop has informed me that there are representatives of many religious orders within the walls of the Old City: There are Franciscans, Dominicans, Recollects, Capuchins, Discalced Carmelites, as well as the Society of Jesus. In other words, within this very small city, there are enough priests and nuns to tend to the souls of the natives in the most meticulous fashion.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More BARBARIAN DAYS: In the South Pacific

The cast of characters in William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days is very New Age-y hippie. It’s been a long while since self has encountered one of these, which means San Francisco has really changed.

Anyhoo, Finnegan and a friend go bouncing all over the South Pacific, searching for good waves. And they have very, very interesting encounters.

With an American missionary who is also a surfer. With locals who take an “anthropological interest” in the author and his traveling companion, Bryan. Finnegan and his friend are so obsessed that when they find a good surfing spot, in Tonga, they surf every day.

Surfing seems magical when you’re just watching. Here’s the reality:

  • My hands and feet were a salad russe of coral cuts, and Bryan had a large, raw scrape on his back, the dressing on which I changed twice a day.

There’s a type of pairing I’ve seen on Boracay:

  • One of Parker’s oil field managers was a big, thick-spectacled Texan named Gene. He had a face like a turkey wattle, a scary smoker’s voice and a local girlfriend who was seventeen. Gene was pushing sixty. His girlfriend was a knockout but not happy. I overheard her telling the wife of a Parker executive that she was a half-Fijian orphan, and therefore a social outcast in homogeneous Tonga. She had turned to prostitution, she said. She was now desperate to get away from Gene. “Help me! Help me!” she pleaded.

As for the king of Tonga, Tupou IV: “He was an absolute monarch who weighed, reportedly, 440 pounds.”

Fascinating stuff.

Stay tuned.

 

 

Gendry Is Back In Season 7!

Gendry is back! He’s back! He’s back!

OMG so many feels!

Way back in Season 3 of GoT, self shipped Arya/Gendry with intensity.

Then, no more Gendry in Seasons 4, 5, and 6.

Sad!

Bad!

Self was pissed!

An article in The Independent (from 21 October 2016 — but self only stumbled upon it today) says the actor who plays Gendry, Joe Dempsie, has been spotted on set: “Actor Joe Dempsie was spotted on the Season 7 set recently, and this week a cameraman with a telescopic lens got a glimpse of what the unacknowledged bastard son of King Robert Baratheon will be up to when he makes his big return, and it’s pretty spoilerific.”

There’s confirmation from fan site Watchers on the Wall.

According to The Independent: “Gendry is back and he’s got his dad’s warhammer.”

This is no ordinary warhammer, this is a Baratheon warhammer, made of the strongest Valyrian steel!

Gendry is so awesome because he actually got nasty with Melisandre and survived the experience with all his parts intact.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

#amreading: Saturday, 1 July 2017

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