Not Your Usual Boundaries

Self likes playing with the concept of boundaries, this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge.

For this post, her examples of BOUNDARIES are:

a Rothko:

Every painting by Rothko is about boundaries.

Every painting by Rothko is about boundaries. Layers are boundaries.

a window. A window is more than just a means of ventilation. It also frames a landscape. It imposes a boundary on the “outside” and turns it into what we think of as quote unquote view:

It's just a window.

A window is not just a window.

a river. Rivers are boundaries. Self took this picture from a bus heading to New York City from New Hampshire, March 2015:

The Last Gasp of the Industrial Age? Hard to believe this was taken just this year.

The Last Gasp of the Industrial Age? Hard to believe this was taken just this year.

Self really loves ruminating on this week’s theme. In honor of the last, an excerpt from a poem called “Coming Into New York,” by John Updike (Who knew he wrote poetry?) in the Oct. 5, 2015 issue of The New Yorker:

After Providence, Connecticut —
the green defiant landscape, unrelieved
except by ordered cities, smart and smug,
in spirit villages, too full of life
to be so called, too small to seem sincere.
And then like Death it comes upon us:
the plain of steaming trash, the tinge of brown
that colors now the trees and grass as though
exposed to rays sent from the core of heat–

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Story by Danielle McLaughlin: The New Yorker, 7 September 2015

Just self’s luck. The first New Yorker story she reads in a long, long time, and it’s about


(Trigger Warning: Read the rest of this entry »

Jane Shore, “Encyclopaedia Britanica” (The New Yorker, 7 September 2015)

Self began to love poetry because of The New Yorker.

She began subscribing over 20 years ago. There have been breaks of a year or two, it hasn’t been one continuous subscription. But she usually reads it cover to cover.

When she was growing up in the Philippines, she did not connect with any of the poetry she had to read for school: Shelley, Keats, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Walt Whitman.

But in the pages of The New Yorker, she saw that poetry was actually like little slices of life, like flashes of insight. The lines were plain and unadorned and she did not have to look up any words in the dictionary.

Here’s a poem self read this evening, by a poet she knows nothing about: Jane Shore.

It’s called “Encyclopaedia Britanica.”

The Encyclopaedia Brittanica (the books, not the poem) has been replaced by Wikipedia. Are there any libraries that still stock the Encyclopaedia Britanica? In the Philippines, her home had two different encyclopaedia series: The Encyclopaedia Britannica and the Book of Knowledge. Never did she need to look up stuff in a library, she could just go to the bookshelves in her home. Thanks much, Dearest Dad! He was such a bookworm and lover of learning.

Here’s part of the Jane Shore poem:


We were as excited as when we’d bought our new car,
and it, too, weighed a ton, the entire history
of the world and everything in it
on two whole shelves in our family room,
sitting like a judge over our new color TV.

We fact-checked over dinner
to settle arguments erupting like Etna (Volume 8)
while the Caesar salad was being served.
In which movie does Charlie Chaplin eat a stewed shoe?
What was the exact date of Kristallnacht?
Before we had our Encylopaedia Britannica,
everybody had opinions instead of facts,
which they stuck to, uncorrected, unto death.

But you couldn’t pick a fight with the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Even saying its name upped my IQ.

And that is about all self will quote for now.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: 3rd Wednesday of August 2015

I don’t think writers are much smarter than other people. I think they’re more compelling in their stupidity.

— David Foster Wallace, quoted by Anthony Lane in his review of James Ponsoldt’s film about Wallace, in The New Yorker August 10 & 17, 2015

Self has never read David Foster Wallace. She resolves to add Infinite Jest and Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.

Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Anthony Lane Reviews “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation”

It honestly doesn’t feel like summer because usually, in summer, self watches a movie a week.

Anyhoo, she wants to see “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.”

Browsing the web for reviews, she finds one by Anthony Lane, movie critic for The New Yorker.

As usual, he lands a zinger in his very first sentence:

  • How impossible can a mission be, if it is successfully completed fives times?

Hoo Hoo Ha Ha!

She will never forget what Lane wrote (20 years ago?) about the movie “Speed”:

  • When I first heard the plot of “Speed,” I did not stop laughing for a week.

Back to the current article: Lane also reviews James Ponsoldt’s “The End of the Tour,” about Infinite Jest author David Foster Wallace. This movie features Jason Segel (as DFW), Jesse Eisenberg as a reporter chronicling a book tour, and Joan Cusack as a tour escort and self really, really wants to see it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Wild”: The David Denby Review (The New Yorker, Dec. 8, 2014)

Aha! A fairly recent issue of The New Yorker — Hallelujah!

In this issue, David Denby reviews “Wild,” the film adaptation of the Cheryl Strayed memoir.

Self saw the movie several weeks ago, after which she posted a few remarks on Read the rest of this entry »

“Xanthopsia” by Maxine Kumin (The New Yorker, July 1, 2013)

In honor of The Daily Post Photo Challenge theme this week — YELLOW — an excerpt from Maxine Kumin’s poem “Xanthopsia” in the July 1, 2013 New Yorker (If you haven’t figured it out by now, yes self does tend to hang on to everything)

It wasn’t absinthe or digitalis
in the Yellow House the two of them shared
that led him to layer the chrome coronas
or yellow the sheets in the bedroom in Arles
or tinge the towel negligently hung
on the hook by the door, or yellow the window,
be it distant view or curtain, yolk-lick
the paintings on the wall by the monkish bed.
No, it wasn’t sunstroke or the bright light
of southern France that yellowed the café terrace
at the Place du Forum, a pigment
intensified by the little white tables, the white stars
in a blue sky, the deep-saffron floor, it wasn’t
some chemical or physical insult that stained
the vase with twelve sunflowers a urinous
yellow, the water in the vase yellow,
also the table under the vase — such
a troubled life of yellow leading up
to Vincent’s hurled wineglass arousing
Gauguin’s rapier to sever his best friend’s left ear

Kumin, a former U.S. Laureate, has written 18 books of poetry.

Stay tuned.

Also Reading Jeremy Denk’s Essay “Piano Man”

It is Thanksgiving Day, 2014.

The best decision self ever made was to order a turkey and fixings from somewhere. And now she has a chance to catch up on all those back issues of The New Yorker that have been building up since last year (and the year before, and the year before).

From The New Yorker of 14 October 2013, an essay by Jeremy Denk called “Piano Man”:

I was saved the first time from financial ruin by a stroke of luck — I entered a piano competition, in London, and won third prize. Years of grad-school indulgences (liquor, Chinese takeout, kitchen appliances) had left me with a Visa bill of forty-five hundred dollars, and I was able to erase it in a flash. All that remained of my glorious prize, of all those months of practicing, was a photograph of Princess Diana handing me my award onstage at Royal Festival Hall, which I faxed to everyone I knew.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“Pipeline” Problem, Silicon Valley Edition

First of all, to the entire universe:


Also, self has geared up her loins, stiffened her spine, and agreed to see “Mockingjay, Part 1” today, even though she knows the closing scene is going to just about kill her.

Now to the ostensible reason for this post, a report on hiring practices at Silicon Valley high-tech companies — a list that includes icons Google, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter, among others.

A 2008 study found that more than half of women working in the industry ended up leaving the field. The pipeline isn’t just narrow; it’s tapering.

—  James Surowicki, “Valley Boys,” p. 52 of The New Yorker (Nov. 24, 1014)

Further in the article:

Tech companies may pride themselves on being meritocracies, but unconscious biases shape the way they hire and promote. Such biases can be tremendously powerful. A 2012 study asked top research scientists to evaluate job candidates with identical resumés. The scientists judged female candidates to be less capable than male ones, and suggested significantly lower starting salaries for them. Even more striking was a 2005 experiment in which participants evaluated applications for a job as a chief of police, scanning resumés that included varying levels of formal education and on-the-job experience. A male candidate who had less schooling would be credited with street smarts, but a woman with an identical resumé would be dismissed for not having enough education.

Further still:

. . .  until the nineteen-seventies classical-music orchestras were almost entirely male. Once blind auditions were introduced, the percentage of women quintupled.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

2014 Mendocino Writers Conference, July 31 – Aug. 2

The Mendocino Writers Conference starts Thursday, July 31 and runs to Saturday, Aug. 2 at College of the Redwoods in Mendocino.

The conference is now in its 25th year, which is pretty amazing.

Kudos to the Mendocino Art Center folks, who work so tirelessly to Read the rest of this entry »

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