Broad Comedy: ROAD DOGS

Road Dogs, by the immortal Elmore Leonard (who self has worshipped for many years, and who she can never thank enough for giving Timothy Olyphant the chance to strut his stuff in a white Stetson as Raylan Givens, in six seasons of the TV series Justified which was based on a series of Elmore Leonard novels), p. 195:

“Can you tell me,” the monsignor said, “why it’s been twenty-seven years since you’ve been to confession?”

“The last time before this,” Little Jimmy said, “I was in prison in Cuba for a crime that didn’t hurt no one. I was afraid I would die at the hands of prisoners desiring to make love to me in an excessive manner. But I was save by my boss, also in that prison, Combinado, before it could happen.”

The monsignor said, “And this time, why are you confessing?”

“I want to be on the safe side, confess to missing Mass fourteen-hundred times,” Little Jimmy said, “because I’m going to dinner in honor of my boss. There is a possibility he could have the fortune-teller, who’s preparing the food, poison me.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cover Art: Welcome to Self’s Universe (Actual Cover Art)

For this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, COVER ART, self is posting two actual covers — one of a recent issue of Prism International, the Vancouver-based literary magazine; another for Elmore Leonard’s Raylan, adapted for TV on F/X as “Justified” — and one projected:

FCover Art, Prism International 50.4 (Spring 2012 Issue):  "Soup" by Mandy Barker

Cover Art, Prism International 50.4 (Spring 2012 Issue): “Soup” by Mandy Barker

And here's a picture of the Nora Aunor of her time:  Dearest Mum.  Have you read the story "Lizard"?  You should read "Lizard" (in self's first collection, GINSENG AND OTHER TALES FROM MANILA)

The Superstar of her time: Dearest Mum. She played in Carnegie Hall at 14.

For the past couple of years, self has been working on a novella about Dearest Mum’s concert career.  She’s chosen to call it “Ambition.”  If she ever succeeds in getting it published, this photo of Dearest Mum as a young woman would be the cover.  She doesn’t know who took the picture.

At Books, Inc. today, self's eyes were forcibly drawn to a shelf which happened to display:  xxxxx !!!

At Books, Inc. today, self’s eyes were forcibly drawn to a shelf which happened to display: xxxxx !!!  Self loves “Justified” and is sad about Elmore Leonard’s passing. And the show’s entering its final season. And oh, will Timothy Olyphant ever get an Emmy?  He is THE iconic Raylan.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Poem, You Make Self REFLECT

This one’s from The New Yorker of 3 February 2014. Self only began to truly enjoy poetry when she began reading The New Yorker. She adores narrative poetry now. At the latest AWP conference, in Seattle, she bought at least five poetry collections. She is determined to read them all. (She’s lucky, too: her roommate in Seattle was the poet Luisa A. Igloria)

“Ambush at Five O’Clock” (only the first three verses)

by Stephen Dunn

We were by the hedge that separates our properties
when I asked our neighbors about their souls,
I said it with a smile, the way one asks such a thing.
They were somewhat like us, I thought, more
than middle-aged, less dull than most.
Yet they seemed to have no interest
in disputation, our favorite game,
or any of the great national pastimes
like gossip and stories of misfortunes
about people they disliked.

In spite of these differences, kindred
was a word we often felt and used.
The man was shy, though came to life
when he spotted an uncommon bird,
and the woman lively, sometimes even funny
about barometer readings and sudden dips
in pressure, the general state of things.
We liked their affection for each other
and for dogs. We went to their house;
they came to ours.

After I asked about their souls
they laughed and stumbled towards an answer,
then gave up, turned the question back
to me. And because I felt mine always was
in jeopardy I said it went to the movies
and hasn’t been seen since. I said gobbledy
and I said gook. I found myself needing
to fool around, avoid, stay away from myself.

Isn’t that great? The everyday, and the cadence.

And, just like that, self whips out a poem.  But hers is about a man in a white Stetson and his best friend Boyd.

Stay tuned.

Justified 5.4: Still Great

Can it really be five years since self had her first electrifying glimpse of Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens?  Self never missed an episode of Season 1 and Season 2. She watched most of Season 3 (The end of Neil McDonough’s character: classic) and Season 4 (She thought there’d be something between the preacher’s sister and Tim Gutterson.  Self is such an incurable romantic!).

No way was she missing Season 5.  Especially not since they announced this was the penultimate season. Noooo!

Self has a Read the rest of this entry »

American TV (2nd Tuesday of January 2014): Justified 5.2 and True Detective

Self has decided that she will do weekly updates of Justified.  She wasn’t very good about doing that, the last two seasons, but her interest has returned, along with a whole fresh cast of villains and teases — Michael Rapaport, Amy Smart, Alicia Witt.

Last week’s episode, the season opener, began with the trial of dim Dewey Crowe. The defending lawyer was a blonde, no-nonsense woman, plain as day which was great because self would never have believed the scene if the lawyer had been even the least bit attractive. We see Raylan on the witness stand, looking devilishly handsome (even without the Stetson).  Self can’t resist:  Raylan on the witness stand is like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day (cue background music)

Self will never forget the lines:  “300 stands for $300,000 to be awarded to you.  Do you accept?” Dewey Crowe, who was in the midst of lodging a protest, collapses on a seat, mouth open.  The judge intones “I’ll take that as a yes” and bangs his gavel.  End of scene.

BWAH. HA. HA. HAAAA!

Episode 5.1 introduced us to a new form of hillbilly:  Michael Rapaport, very beefed up.  He has a fetching sister (played by Alicia Witt) named Wendy, who’s a legal assistant (This is not the same as being a lawyer, just so you know).  There are a whole lot of murders and blood spatter.  No Jacob Pitts or Erika Taziel, boo.  But the return of Nick Searcy as Raylan’s sardonic boss was reason enough to cheer.

As self watched Episode 5.2, last night, she had very many thoughts about the series hero (Michael Rapaport was MIA until the very last minutes of this episode).  For instance, this weighty observation:

Timothy Olyphant looks so good in distressed blue jeans.  His stance, his physique — just tailor-made for low-slung Levis.  You skateboarding teen-agers with the beanies, you oh-so-cool denizens of high schools and shopping malls, you have nothing on Olyphant. Seriously, someone ought to bottle this man’s mojo and ship overseas with every pair of American jeans. It might just succeed in balancing the trade deficit or in wiping out the national debt.

Next:

Even when he is not opening his mouth, and is just staring into space (while driving, say), he needs no dialogue.  Oh beautiful.  Just keep looking at that face for 50 minutes.  Forget plot, forget who’s trying to off who, forget his low-life BFF Boyd Crowder.  That’s an American icon, right there!

Last night’s episode had brief appearances of Jacob Pitt and Erika Taziel, doing practically nothing.  At least there was more of Art.  He was exhibiting a new form of acquired behavior: bouncing a small black rubber ball on his desktop.  Art doesn’t really need such a behavioral prop.  Of course, it is nice to know that he is manually dexterous and can multi-task.  But self hated that instead of fully committing herself to observing every aspect of Nick Searcy’s delivery, her eyes were kept on that little bouncing ball.  She couldn’t help wondering if it were some kind of loaded gun, to be exploded in a later episode.  Of course, it could really be just a prop.  With absolutely no symbolism whatsoever.

Last night featured the return of another of her favorite characters:  Loretta!  The heart-faced pot dealer.  Self was quite in a tizzy wondering what trouble she’d get up to next.  Raylan is so fatherly with her.  Sweet.

Self is so glad for AMY SMART!  That girl has some serious charisma.  Banish Winona and never bring her back!

Last night’s episode featured almost NO killings.  She wondered why it was moving so slowly.  But every time the script went back to Raylan, the energy of the show increased by a mile.  She wonders what the deal is with that man who’s got all the tubes going in and out, the one with the pretty brunette wife who seems to have some thing going on for Boyd Crowder (Ava’s in jail, how convenient).  Or perhaps self is just imagining the whole frisson.

When Wynn Duffy confronts a roomful of very skanky-looking men, to explain why their drug shipments will be delayed, self kept waiting for an explosion, especially after a dude gets up to complain. He’s just your average low-life. Perfect for elimination.  Not, in other words, a recurring character.  But Wynn did not shoot him for his loud-mouthed ways.  Instead, Boyd walks in, and — get this — the protesting man actually has a name.  It’s “Cyrus.”  At least, that’s what Boyd calls him.  Oh.  So that’s why he wasn’t off-ed.  Yet.

Stay tuned for more Raylan next week.

Self will now turn to the new HBO show, “True Detective.”  This one had her agog for quite a while, ever since she found out it stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.  McConaughey and Harrelson are a dream match-up, almost as dreamy as di Caprio and Jonah Hill.  About the episode (which may have been the first):

McConaughey is so thin. A far cry from his Magic Mike appearance.

There is a dinner scene: McConaughey is the guest at Harrelson’s home.  He sits there with red eyes, looking completely wasted.  It’s a little bizarre.

The story is apparently one of these circular tales that keep switching back and forth between the present and the past.  In the present, Woody Harrelson has settled into being an honest-to-goodness suit, and McConaughey has gone off the deep end or something.  We know this because Harrelson tells his interrogators (who are videotaping the session, so we know it must be very very serious) he’s not been in touch with McConaughey’s character for about 10 years.  And when we finally get to see present-day McConaughey, he has very long stringy grey hair and appears even more gaunt:  this has got to be one of the most entertaining “spring-forward-in-time” scenarios ever.  The hair!  Or, rather, the anti-mane!  It’s like someone draped McConaughey’s head with rat tails.

The murder victim — oh, shoot.  If only self had had time to look away.  But no.  One minute we are observing the very considerable acting chops of the two leads.  The next, we see this human body strung between two trees, draped with antlers.  There’s a rubbed-out section of the torso.  OK, was that the place where . . .  gulp.  Never mind.

“True Detective” has gotten mostly good reviews.  It was a little plodding, but she always enjoys Harrelson and McConaughey.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

June 2012 Cover of The Guardian

The rise of Matthew McConaughey.

Apologies for blogging so much about actors and actresses, dear blog readers.  But the Golden Globes are taking place this coming weekend.

Moreover, she’s been reading Joe Morgenstern’s “The Year’s Top Performers” article, in the Wall Street Journal of 3 January 2014.

Morgenstern writes:  “My favorite performance this year concentrated a universe of bewilderment and self-delusion in the person of a once-vibrant woman and, not incidentally, constituted a master class in how great acting is done.”

More from Morgenstern:  “Surely the most spectacular reinvention — self-reinvention — by an actor last year was accomplished by Matthew McConaughey.  Over the course of almost two decades he’d done extremely well with playing handsome young men with sharp edges to their psyches, men who often found reason to remove their shirts.  Then came his electrifying 2012 appearance as a malign club owner in Magic Mike.”

Self would not really go so far as to call McConaughey’s acting in Magic Mike “electrifying,” but she will say this:  One Sunday in June 2012, she descended from her room on an upper floor of Hawthornden, saw the Sunday Guardian on the hall table (people were always trying to be the first to get to it), went to the Sunday magazine and saw on the cover:  shirtless Matthew McConaughey, in a cowboy hat, one arm extended to the ceiling.  HOOOLY MOLY!!!!  Self could not wait to get back to the States so she could see Magic Mike!

Another thing about the Morgenstern article?  He has nice things to say about Rescue Dawn.  Self just added the film to her Netflix queue.

And BTW, last night’s premiere episode of Justified Season 5 was excellent.  Had self drooling all over again.  No one can rock blue jeans like Timothy Olyphant.  Plus there was a moving tribute to Elmore Leonard from the cast (All hail, Tim O, rocking the thread bracelets and long hair) and producer.  It was very moving.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Fabulous Summer: Catching Up With The Missouri Review, Spring 2012

Farley's: such good coffee! 18th Street (Potrero Hill)

Farley’s: such good coffee! 18th Street (Potrero Hill)

Yesterday, self was whiling away the late afternoon in Farley’s, a coffee shop on Potrero Hill.  While reading Scientific American and the day’s Wall Street Journal, she tried the macchiato (excellent!) with a slice of zucchini bread (dee-lish!) and a scoop of caramel salt ice cream.

She was just musing about how fabulous this summer is.

Sole Fruit of Her Loins is home, and Jennie is arriving tonight.  Self loves the “Flying Kitty” birthday card that Jennie mailed to self last week.  Rawwrrrr!!!

Today, self feels energized enough to tackle her Pile of Stuff (a huge, disorganized, and ever-growing pile of unread magazines and unopened mail).  The first thing she happens to pull out is The Missouri Review of Spring 2012.

As everyone in the writing field knows, The Missouri Review is one of the top literary journals in the country.  Who wouldn’t want to be published in The Missouri Review?  Though self has never succeeded in breaking into the ranks of this magazine’s anointed, that has in no way dampened her enjoyment at reading it.

The theme of the Spring 2012 issue is “blood relations.”  Here’s how the editor, Speer Morgan (possibly the most fabulous editor’s name self has ever encountered:  It’s like the bastard offspring of a chewing gum company, Wrigley’s, and an investment bank, Morgan Stanley):

When one sets about doing harm, the people most likely to be hurt are the ones across the table, if only by reason of proximity.  Look up quotes on the word “family,” and much of what comes up is either sarcastic or humorous.  Hamlet’s stepfather says to him, “My cousin Hamlet, and my son,” and the young prince responds, “A little more than kin, and less than kind,” with both “kin” and “kind” carrying multiple levels of dark irony.  This is the norm even when your stepfather/ uncle didn’t murder your father and marry your mother.  Bring up the issue of relatives, and mockery soon follows.  “I had no blood relatives until I made some,” says comedian Andy Dick.  And yet of course the other feelings continue to survive alongside the sarcasm —  the fondness, love and hope that we associate with both our relatives and our origins.

Next, Morgan talks about the journal’s Jeffrey E. Smith winner in fiction, Yuko Sakata’s “Unintended,” which he calls “a story that shows the effects of parents’ problems on a child.”

There’s more, much more, but self has to at least make a serious attempt at cooking dinner.  And, all right, all right, just one more thing:

The Emmy Nominations were announced at 5:30 a.m. this morning.

And there were no nominations for Timothy Olyphant (“Justified”) or Nicolaj Coster-Waldau (“Game of Thrones”) or even Walton Goggins (“Justified”).  We got Peter Dinklage nominated again (for “Game of Thrones”), and Jon Hamm (for “Mad Men,” as per usual), and there were even nominations for “Downton Abbey.”

Oh, well. C’est la vie.  Life is indeed strange.

At least Diana Rigg got a nomination for playing Lady Olenna Tyrell (Her name reminds self of Crisco product, for some reason).  But why oh why are there nominations for “Homeland” and none for “The Americans”?  Go figure!

Is “The Killing” going to be renewed for a fourth season?  Oh pray it’s so!

Fingers and toes crossed.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Justified 4.13: Season Finale

Oh no oh no oh no.

No Justified on Tuesday nights.

How can self live?

How?

As usual, the highlights of this episode are the dialogue.

But, before getting into the loverlies, self just wants to say that Winona showed uncommon spark and fire when being held hostage and watching her man get whupped on the head by an Evil Character.  Perhaps it will not be so bad if Winona makes it back to the show on a regular basis.

Ava goes to jail.  What?  Again?  This time, it’s Boyd not Raylan who professes his intention to free her (If dear blog readers recall, in Season 1, Ava shot her husband.  But that was because he was abusive, and caused her to miscarry).  This time, she’s apprehended while dragging (very ineptly, self might add) a bundled-up corpse into a ditch.  Did she perhaps want to get caught or what?

Self is finally beginning to appreciate the whiteness of Boyd Crowder’s teeth.

She loves that Preacher’s Sister.  She’s in this episode for all of three seconds, but those seconds do resonate.

Now, where did Deputy Marshalls Rachel Brooks and Tim Gutterson take themselves off to?

Self will close with this classic exchange between Raylan and his boss, Art Mullen:

Raylan:  Suppose you’re going to say, I told you so.

Art:  Oh, I’d like to think I’m a bigger person than that, but I did tell you so.

How dare that reviewer (self forgets from which magazine) say that Justified is just like Cheers.  No, it is not like Cheers.  For one thing, it is not corny.

For another, Justified has lots and lots of dead bodies.  And those of you who’ve ever caught a single episode of Cheers knows that death has never been a factor in that other show.

Self thinks the reviewer confused the general amiability and geniality of the Justified characters with Cheers‘ crowd-pleasing ways.

She loves the closing:  a tight shot of Raylan alone, wearing a grey T-shirt and jeans.  Ah, Raylan/Timothy, you rule.  Self adored Justified Season 4 and was enthralled from first to last.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Spotlight: The Asian American Literary Review, Part 2

Self knows she spotlighted The AALR already, but one can never have too much of a good thing.

She is so admiring of the tireless energy of its editors. They are now trying to get more people overseas to know about Asian American writers. Bravo!

Kindly hook up with Lawrence-Minh Bui Davis, Gerald Maa, or Cathy J. Shlund-Vials (English and Asian American Studies, University of Connecticut). Cathy will be at the upcoming AAS conference, April 17- 20, in Seattle.

Here’s the beginning of self’s story “Homeopathy,” which was in AALR Vol. 3, Issue 1 (Spring 2012):

On Friday I return from my trip. Laundry is still in the dryer, a jumble of clothes. The food I’d bought before I left is still in the fridge, though the radishes are pockmarked with green fuzz and the potatoes are growing roots. The man sits on the sofa, smoking a cigarette.

Has he even known I was gone? I can’t be sure. Perhaps I’m an alien, teleported into his life.

On TV, Speed is showing. It’s the scene where Dennis Hopper talks to Keanu Reeves and tells him, “Do not attempt to grow a brain.”

Finally, self has succeeded in getting the finest words in the English language into a story!

KEANU REEVES. KEANU REEVES. KEANU REEVES.

But that was so years ago. Now self must figure out a way to get these words into a story:

TIMOTHY OLYPHANT. TIMOTHY OLYPHANT. TIMOTHY OLYPHANT.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Justified Season 4 = Magnificence

Episode 4.9 ended less than an hour ago.

Self is just loving the drama this season.

Here are some things she’s noticed:

  • Everyone in Harlan County wears super-tight jeans.  Self is of course referring to the men:  Raylan Givens, Boyd Crowder.  If you happen to be a man, one without a predilection for wearing super-tight jeans, you are a minor character.  GET OVER IT.
  • This episode marks only the second time this season that she’s heard Timothy Olyphant say “Shut up.”  She loves the whole “Shut up” thang.  Raylan always says it to a perp.  It occurs to self that part of Raylan’s appeal is that he makes you think he’s doing you a favor when he pulls a gun on you.  Shoot me, Raylan!  Just shoot me!
  • Raylan’s father is dead.  Dead as a doornail.  There will be no Second Act for Raylan’s dad.
  • The character of Ava has undergone quite a transformation since Season 1.  Self will never forget how Ava crept into Raylan’s life:  she was a battered wife who shot her husband, and Raylan had just moved back to Harlan County.  Now that Ava has turned into such a Hard-Ass, self wonders where her character can go next.  Maybe Ava will be converted to evangelical Christianity!  Maybe she and Boyd will split!  Maybe she gets pregnant!
  • The preacher’s sister makes an appearance, looking so exceptionally wan.  She is being strangled by Grade B Gerard Depardieu and cocaine addict Colt when Tim Gutterson arrives, just in the nick of time.  Later, she and Tim Gutterson have an intimate conversation in a squad car.  Self thinks she knows where this thread is going.  Saint + Ex-Sniper = hello, fascination!
  • There has been no Erica Taziel, not for weeks and weeks.  She doesn’t even appear in a panning background shot.
  • Art, Raylan’s boss, has a tirade.  Self loves when Art goes into a tirade.  It’s always about something Raylan did or didn’t do.  What endurance Art has:  coping with the Raylan drama must be exhausting.  Give Art a medal, already!
  • Self thinks she likes “Justified” better when Raylan is left to do his thing.  Whenever Ex-Wife Winona or that woman who was married to a fighter put in an appearance, the narrative gets pulled into odd directions.  It is just fine, in self’s humble opinion, for Raylan to remain unattached for the rest of the show’s life.  Because Olyphant is so gorgeous, it’s hugely ironic to see him having such bad luck with women.  It’s the In-Joke of all In-Jokes.
  • Self loves the scene where a rotund police officer tries to arrest two people:  they laugh at him and tell him to run along.  Self has a new appreciation for people who decide to be cops, especially if their beat turns out to be the old neighborhood.
  • Why is Ella May such a thorn in everyone’s side?  She’s a poor waif who wouldn’t hurt a fly.  About the only transgression Ella May is guilty of is escaping from her would-be murderer.  People, why can everyone not understand that Ella May DOES NOT WANT TO DIE?  Who can blame her?  It is so nice to be alive.  To want to be alive is not a crime, is it?  But because Ella May has not obliged by conking off, now everyone is competing to end her miserable life.  Is this justice?  What kind of people would sink to such a low of moral turpitude?
  • Self loved the closing scene.  Raylan is having a chat with the prisoner he was escorting to a new facility, the one who killed Raylan’s dad.  Raylan tells the Orange Jumpsuit that the last conversation he had with his Dad was heartwarming —  or words to that effect.  Then, THE END!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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