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.

Tuesday Night Television: The Cumberbatch/ Olyphant Effect

The thing about Benedict Cumberbatch is, his appeal is not apparent right away.  Unlike Timothy Olyphant’s.

The reason self is pondering BC at all is that there is a new BBC mini-series, an adaptation of Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End, which had its HBO broadcast premiere last night, just before F/X’s Justified.

And self wouldn’t have decided to watch if she hadn’t, on one of her previous visits to Bacolod, caught the new BBC Sherlock, with Cumberbatch in the lead, showcasing his lean and lanky frame, his floppy hair, his intellectual-yet-boyish affect.  OH HOLY COW!  This guy is playing Sherlock as if he’s got Asperger’s!

In preparation for last night’s TV watching, self had the absolutely brilliant idea of running to Trader Joe’s and buying all of The Man’s Read the rest of this entry »

Justified 4.7: The Ineffable Raylan

Of interest:

  • This episode was largely focused on Boyd Crowder and Ava.  They’re like an old married couple, except Ava is turning into Mata Hari.  They go to a party where free love is practiced, and when two men go for Ava, Boyd is immediately on them.  Question of the Day:  Why attend a free love party if you don’t want to exercise free love?  If you know that’s what’s going down, then why go at all?  The whole time the two were at this party, self was all agog wondering who would get to do the free love thing first:  Ava or Boyd.  Alas!  Both leave unsullied by the sordid environment.  Too. Bad.
  • The paralyzed Bennett guy is sleeping with the blonde ho, the one who was roughed up by Grade B Gerard Depardieu in 4.6.  And by the way, Grade B Gerard Depardieu’s character’s name is Colt.  Self found out today, so she might have to stop referring to him as Grade B GD.
  • Erica Tazel (playing Deputy Rachel Brooks) has vanished into thin air.  At least Jacob Pitt (playing Deputy Tim Gutterson) is hanging around, if only to throw off absolutely sardonic one-liners.
  • Raylan looks mighty fine.  He does not even have to be wearing his Stetson to look mighty fine.
  • He kills one person.  Before he does it, though, he tells the guy:  Shut.  Your.  Mouth.
  • He befriends a comely lass who begins to disrobe while he is on  his cell.  The lass is very nonchalant about it.  Raylan isn’t watching her, but the viewer is.  At first self thought the Lass had Thunder Thighs, because her jeans looked like they were about to burst.  But lo and behold, seen from a distance while disrobing, she turns out not to have Thunder Thighs.  Her bra lands on the floor with such a resounding THWACK that self thinks people as many as four rooms over would have to have heard it.  Her underwear doesn’t match, which is a sign of how greatly the producers care about authenticity.  Or verisimilitude.
  • Someone named Sharon Edmunds is reported murdered.
  • They still haven’t been able to find Drew Thompson.
  • Wynne Duffy puts in a brief appearance.
  • Chief Art Mullen is still there, so perhaps they ditched the “soon-to-retire” thread.  YAY.
  • Raylan visits his Dad in prison.  The occasion does not go well.  Dear Papa refuses to take the bait Raylan offers him in exchange for a transfer to a country club prison.  Raylan’s Papa sure is a stubborn old coot.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“Delicate Little Flower Like You” : Justified 4.5

BWAH HA HA moments:

Surly dishwater blonde sitting in cop car, to Raylan:  “I can’t tell you, mah Daddy’s gonna kick mah ass!”

Raylan:  “Delicate little flower like you?  Who would DO such a thing?”

Of course, Wan Dishwater Blonde ends up delivering the info.  Raylan indicates he’ll go investigate the lead.  As he’s walking away, he throws back over his shoulder to the cop and the girl:  “Both of ya keep your clothes on.”

*     *     *

Raylan to Boyd Crowder:  “You know he sends his daughter to steal copper wire so she can pay for her own braces.” (Referring to the person he’s been hunting for at least the last two episodes:  Drew Thompson)

*     *     *

Cousin Mary:  “You’re looking for Drew Thompson.  (Reaches over and grips Raylan’s shoulder)  You’re on the wrong hill.”

*     *     *

Other highlights of this episode:

  • Winona appears, prettily pregnant.  She’s just parked and is entering her doctor’s waiting room.  Lo and behold, Raylan’s there ahead of her!  They exchange some very heartwarming conversation.  Raylan gets a text and leaves.
  • A suit sitting right next to Wynn Duffy gets his head blown off by a NEW Evil Person.
  • Grade B Gerard Depardieu is still looking for Ella May.  Engages Deputy Marshall Tim Gutterson in conversation which seems amiable but sets self’s skin to crawling.  Self’s interior monologue went like so:  “Get away from him, Tim!  He’s EVIL!  Don’t let him get any closer!”  Luckily, Raylan’s nonchalant self descends a hill and hails Tim before the other man has an opportunity to engage in any funny business.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Justified 4.4

Apologies, dear blog readers, but self needed time to “process.”  She loves this season of Justified, it is absolutely great.

Raylan is quite significantly thinner than in previous seasons.  Timothy, is it overwork?  Never mind.  You are still gorgeous.  Gorgeous with a capital “G.”

When self watched “Parker” last weekend, there was a scene where Jason Statham impersonates a rich Texan and shows up in Palm Springs wearing —  gadzooks! —  an enormous white Stetson.  But, in keeping with the over-the-top nature of the whole cheesy enterprise (which is not to say that self did not find the movie hugely enjoyable —  she did, and particularly for the chemistry between J Lo, Parker, J Lo’s real estate colleagues, and her Mum’s yippy pet dog), the Stetson was about 10 sizes too large.  Self kids you not, dear blog readers, it looked about three feet wide.

Anyhoo, back to last night’s episode of “Justified.”  The preacher’s sister shows up in the local sheriff’s office, looking truly woebegone.  Until then, self was kinda hoping that her preacher brother survived the rattlesnake bite on his arm from the last episode, but alas!  He was apparently dead, dead, deader than a doornail, and that was the reason for the sister’s wan appearance.

In this episode, Ava —  who is, as we all know, hot, but whose figure has been hidden, for many episodes now, under dull-colored clothes that look like they were rescued from the dumpster behind the Salvation Army store — finally returns to sultry glory.  That is, she exhibits cleavage.  Her top was a lacy thing, like something from Victoria’s Secret.  Slutty and very fine.  Way to go, Ava!  The actress who plays her seems to be hardening her jaw, which is entirely in keeping with Ava’s long but relentless descent into Lady Macbeth territory.

Meanwhile, the waif/whore Ella May returns to the fold —  er, to the bar.  There are aspersions cast on her trustworthiness.  Ava hands her $2000 and tells her to make a fresh start somewhere far, far away.  And, just to prove how sincere Ava is, she sends Ella May off with the most malevolent member of the bar crew, a dirty blonde with a sort of Grade B Gerard Depardieu look, who rises to the occasion by having a moment of crisis in a gas station restroom, where it is revealed that he is having qualms about shooting Ella May, who is pumping gas —  a whore pumping gas!  Quelle fabulous use of subtext!  Anyhoo, the reason we know henchman is having qualms is that he pauses to sniff a line of coke before preparing his pistol for the death blow.  He then walks out of the restroom, and —  well, self cannot tell dear blog readers what happened next for she had her eyes shut.  All she knows is that lunk kept calling, almost beseechingly, “Ella May!  Ella May!”  As if he were playing a game of hide-and-seek with her.  Self listened anxiously for the report of a gun, but there was none.  Perhaps Ella May had the smarts to secret herself beneath the car?  Hanging on to the undercarriage, or something James Bond-y like that?  Way to go, Ella May!

Raylan was given a very nice gun by his increasingly comely deputy, Rachel (now divorced, though self can’t say she misses the ex, whose face she can’t ever remember seeing, in three previous seasons).  It was silver and long.  He uses it to get back at his ex-lover’s husband, the boxer.  He shoots and shoots and gets shot himself, and the lady escapes with her life, her loot, and her vixen reputation, and Raylan discovers that the $10,000 she stole from him went into buying chickens.  Or were those fighting cocks?

No Deputy Gutterson in this episode.  Self has noticed that the producers never have Rachel and Tim in the same episode.  She figures they function as alter-egos for Raylan.  When Raylan is feeling hip and manly, they have Tim to exchange sardonic verbiage with.  When he is feeling woebegone, they have Rachel to bring out his sensitive side.  Gadzooks if that doesn’t work —  in spades!

In this episode, there were more of those Holy-Cow-Mother-of-All-Lines, the ones that display the fantastic American capacity for breath control, rivaling that of even Royal Shakesperean actors like Ian Holm and Derek Jacobi.  Only, the fun quotient is to the nth power, because these characters are doing the Shakesperean thang in rural Kentucky.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Justified 4.3: Most Excellent

Self will admit that she has never devoted much time (at least in the past two seasons) to discussing Boyd Crowder and his fraught relationship with Our Man Raylan.  But she will correct that oversight in discussing the latest episode (Too tired to look up the episode title.  Let’s just stick to “Justified 4.3”)

She’s watching the 11 p.m. 4.3 all over again.  It’s one of the best in the series, and self has hardly ever missed an episode, only a handful of times over four seasons.  And that’s even though, last night, self had to watch it in the teensy, 15-year-old TV in son’s room.  The Man wanted to stay on this History Channel program about the “original 007,” a Croatian double agent.  So self missed the opening scene of “Justified,” which was between Boyd and the sister of that rival preacher from 4.2 (the one played by that actor who played Eugene Sledge in “The Pacific.”  She barely recognized him at first, but confirmed that it is the same guy after looking him up on Imdb)

Well, that opening scene is just excellent.  Here we have two pit cobras (Self means:  Boyd and the preacher’s sister.  She’s all honey sweet, but, but —  ) insinuating the most malevolent designs in honey-coated tongues.

That is followed by a nice scene of further frisky hi-jinks between Raylan and the blonde bartender (She gets to show off her super super-toned bod.  Wow, self is so impressed!)

There are also scenes with the New and Improved Tim Gutterson (Is it just self or is this guy getting hotter with each passing season?)  More extremely sardonic looks.  More extremely sardonic dialogue.

Of the new characters, self loves the psychic suburban matron (whose house looks like it would fit right in in Woodside, CA) and was really creeped out by the scenes with her abductor.

There is a lot of funny business with rattlesnakes.

She hopes the preacher does not expire.

She loves that Nick Searcy is at his sardonic best, and that Erica Taziel is back, for the first time this season, nursing her lonely heart in a bar and having a non-chat about her broken marriage with Raylan.

Raylan is —  still Raylan.  Which is to say, simply fabulous.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“Justified” 4.2

Timothy Olyphant gets to bed the bargirl.  This is a very nice set-up.  Five stars!  Soooo glad Winona has taken herself and her everlasting whining into the great hoo-hoo.  But certainly she will return, after Raylan’s baby is born, so that Raylan can complete his evolution as uber-male gunslinger and new father!

But, seriously, it would be so much better if Winona did not return (for at least another season or two) so that Raylan can keep turning on the charm for complete strangers.

Now, the bar scenes.  If self remembers correctly the details of last season, Raylan is conveniently renting the apartment just overhead.  And naturally feels at home in that environment —  so at home in fact that when he assists current GF in re-stocking the bar, he feels comfortable telling a swarthy stranger that the bar is closed.  There is another side of him we’re seeing when he picks up and rights bar stools.  The domestic side (So what if he’s displaying this behavior in a bar?  Tidying up is tidying up.  We love your domesticity, Raylan!)

There is one take-down in this episode, and it involves a kid.  A skinny little kid!  Raylan rightly brushes him off and takes him down, but with humor.  After all, Raylan must conserve his energy and physical prowess for much more dangerous foes.  The kid gets two seconds and the equivalent of a fatherly warning.  “Don’t you ever do that again,” or words to that effect.

Please, can someone nominate this guy for an Emmy already?

Self’s next favorite character in this episode is Ava.  She’s in a bar, in a cheap leather jacket, organizing empty bar glasses.  In a short while, self’s third favorite character in this episode makes an appearance:  it’s a sad-eyed woman with running mascara and a cropped T displaying a none-too-toned stomach.  She begins to read to Ava from a piece of paper on which she has written a prayer about salvation and so forth. Which is interesting because Ava tells her “You’re a whore!  What are you getting mixed up with this preacher stuff for?” (This is just a paraphrase.  Self didn’t get to watch the “Justified” repeats at 11 or 12, she was so tired she just fell dead asleep.  She’s pretty sure about the “whore” part, though.)

Her fourth favorite character is the tall, thin preacher who for some reason reminds self of the lead in the World War II series, “The Pacific.”

He has a mysterious blonde woman in his Church, a woman who looks great in a green dress and a deeper green cardigan, who turns out to be his sister (All the women in this episode are blonde.  All the pretty women, that is.  And though that is of course not reality, it fits perfectly with this genre, with the whole “This is a fantasy of life in Harlan County, Kentucky” thing.  In noir, which self supposes this series is, all the women are blonde, and all of them turn out to be killers.  Well, some are victims.  The prettier ones are killers.  If they brought back Carla Giugino, who made a brief appearance in Season 3, wearing the tightest of pencil skirts, high heels, and a gun, they could break the mold of blonde killers and have a brunette killer instead.  Producers, are you listening?)

Wayne Duffy makes a re-appearance!  To him belong the funniest lines of the night.  He is completely affable, which all true killers are.  At least, all true killers operating within the vicinity of Harlan County.

There was some nonsense about Raylan’s father, Arlo, killing a man while he is in jail.

Self loved the pot-smoking hillbilly family.

Self wished Tim Gutterson aka Former Sniper from Afghanistan had more to do than just look sardonic.  Perhaps he could get bleeding drunk and start smashing up furniture.  In Season 1, she was electrified by his rendition of some character — “a member from Mensa” who goes straight through a windshield and “into the afterlife.”  There was such a throwaway charm about his delivery.  Just to show you how smooth this scene was, it took her a really long time to realize that he was being ironic about the Mensa thing.

Oh!  And Nick Searcy’s character was entertaining some blue-eyed gent who apparently was interested in his job.  No, no, no!  We cannot have another Art Mullen!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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