New: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is, fittingly enough, NEW.

Hence this post is about 1) New Books 2) New Experiences and 3) A New Play

New additions to self’s personal bookshelf. The Neruda she bought in Venice Beach. By the Book was a Christmas present.

New Books for the New Year

New Books for the New Year

First Time to Visit Chicago in the Fall:

Downtown Chicago: October 2014

Downtown Chicago: October 2014

Caught the U.S. premiere of Abbie Spillane’s new play, the scorching Strandline, at Chicago’s A Red Orchid Theatre:

This Chicago theatre was founded 25 years ago by actor Michael Shannon.

This Chicago theatre was founded 25 years ago by actor Michael Shannon. It’s an intimate (not to say wee) space. The night self saw it was the first night of previews and most of the people in the audience were actors and actresses.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Still Further Scenes From Self’s Multi-Chapter Hunger Games AU Fan Fiction

Self has no idea what is happening. A week ago, she had only 9 chapters written. Now, she has 15. Ever since she got the news of Margarita Donnelly’s passing, on Christmas Eve, she’s just been writing (and not just her fan fiction) like blazes. Writing’s always been how self chooses to deal.

In this chapter, Peeta returns home to 12 after a prolonged stay in the Capitol:

The train comes to a shuddering stop.

Haymitch is waiting on the platform.

The older Victor isn’t required in the Capitol. He’s become unsightly, an embarrassment. On the rare occasions when he shows up in the Capitol, he spends most of his time playing poker in the Capitol Casino. He gambles and loses and no one stops him because he’s still wealthy and there is a lot of money for him left to lose. Money’s no use, after all, unless it’s out of a Victor’s pocket and spread around.

There’s a small band waiting on the station platform. As soon as Peeta exits the train, it strikes up a tinny tune, the musicians giving an extra flourish to their motions as soon as they see Peeta turn his head in their direction.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Forgiveness

Below is an excerpt from The Economist obituary for Maya Angelou, who passed away May 28 this year, at the age of 86. Self found out about Angelou’s passing in London. She and an old school friend, Doris Duterte Stanley, had walked to King’s Cross from Euston Station, where self’s train had just arrived from Wales.  In the lobby of King’s Cross, a gigantic video screen flashed the words: MAYA ANGELOU DIES AT 86.

(Self is so way behind in her reading of The Economist. At what point does she say Enough and quit her subscription? One more year, perhaps . . . )

When she was asked what words brought her comfort, she said, “Love.” And, after love, “Forgiveness.” Forgiveness did not mean you would seat your enemy at your table and feed him cornbread and fried chicken (though cooking food, and sharing it, often made peace). But it meant you could move on. In the words of “On the Pulse of Morning,” which she read in 1993 at Bill Clinton’s inauguration:

Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Endurance: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is ENDURANCE.

Show us what endurance means to you. Is it that high-school diploma, beads of sweat earned on a long run, a treasured family heirloom, or something else entirely?

Street Vendor, South Super Highway, Manila: That smile. Wonder how much money he makes selling from car to car when the traffic stalls. Warrant ya, NOT MUCH.

Street Vendor, South Super Highway, Manila: That smile. Wonder how much money he makes selling from car to car when the traffic stalls. Warrant ya, NOT MUCH. Still, he endures.

Gracie dozes -- Self missed spending time with her when she started traveling. Adopted at 1 yr. old, she passed away three years ago from complications of diabetes. But she had the biggest, bravest heart.

Gracie dozes — Self missed spending time with her when she started traveling. Adopted at 1 yr. old, she passed away three years ago from complications of diabetes. But she had the biggest, bravest heart. She endured self’s long absences.

Mount Kanlaon: Still active, after thousands of years. It's in the center of Dear Departed Dad's home island of Negros, in the central Philippines.

Mount Kanlaon: Still active, after thousands of years. It’s in the center of Dear Departed Dad’s home island of Negros, in the central Philippines. Its mystery only seems to grow, with each of self’s succeeding visits to Negros. It endures.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Twist 6: King’s Cross Station, London

Self is in London again.  She was here just a month ago, watching Titus Andronicus at the Globe and having leisurely lunches in Russell Square.  Now she’s on her way to Oxford, for the Saboteur Awards.  It’s great because she’ll see Jenny Lewis again, whose collection, Taking Mesopotamia, self just adores.

From a giant video screen in King’s Cross, earlier in the evening, self learned that Maya Angelou had passed away.  She was 86.

Mourn, mourn, mourn.

She took these pictures of the King’s Cross ceiling.  It’s pretty fabulous.  And meshes beautifully with this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, TWIST.  But, seriously, the whole city of London is pretty fabulous.  Though she has yet to take a really good picture of the London Eye:

King's Cross Station in London:  Fabulous

King’s Cross Station in London: Fabulous

DSCN5524 DSCN5525Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Spring! WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Apologizing in advance for this post, because self used pictures from last year.

She’s in Dublin, which is rather gloomy, and what with the hectic arrival, she still hasn’t had the chance to snap a single picture here.

Poppies!  These were in front of the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, last month.

Poppies! These were in front of the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, last month.

Hydrangea "Nikko" Blue, grows in a pot in self's backyard.

Hydrangea “Nikko” Blue, grows in a pot in self’s backyard.

Mums.  Self planted them from a florists' bouquet that someone gave her a long time ago.

Mums. Self planted them from a florists’ bouquet that someone gave her a long time ago.

Mondays: Quote of the Day (3 February 2014)

Self just can’t get over having to type year “2014.” It feels momentous because of Philip Seymour-Hoffman.

By sheer coincidence, the story self has been reading in The New Yorker of 20 January 2014, by Akhil Sharma, begins this way:

As far back as I can remember, my parents have bothered each other.  In India, we lived in two concrete rooms on the roof of a house.  The bathroom stood separate from the living quarters.  The sink was attached to one of the exterior walls.  Each night, my father would stand before the sink, the sky above him full of stars, and brush his teeth until his gums bled.  Then he would spit the blood into the sink and turn to my mother and say, “Death, Shuba, death.”

“Yes, yes, beat drums,” my mother said once.  “Tell the newspapers, too.  Make sure everyone knows this thing you have discovered.”  Like many people of her generation, those born before Independence, my mother viewed gloom as unpatriotic.

The title of the story is “A Mistake.”

Self fervently wishes that 2014 will turn out to be a good year.  She did finally do some things she’d been wanting to do for months:  she decided to visit Sole Fruit of Her Loins this coming weekend, and she signed up for yoga classes (which have been extremely fun).

And while yesterday turned out to be a terrible day for Peyton Manning, it was good for California because it rained steadily (at last! Though we’ll need lots more to get through the drought).  Self and The Man caught the Oscar-Nominated Short Films (Animation) at the Aquarius, and afterwards had coffee around the corner at La Boulange.

Of the short animation films, self’s favorite was Feral, directed by Daniel Sousa.  The Man said it was “too dark,” but self liked that it was.  The one she found the most corny was Room on the Broom, an entry from the UK which featured some very heavy hitters doing voice work: Gillian Anderson, Sally Hawkins, and Simon Pegg.

Which brings us back to Philip Seymour-Hoffman.  Self found out while perusing the web, late last night, and it was terrible.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Third Tuesday of January (2014)

DSCN3816

The father of a good friend passed away.  Self scans her FB page and realizes that her friend’s mother passed away only about a year ago.  That’s harsh.

California is experiencing a drought.  A severe drought.

At least, it was warm out.  Self took pictures of birds at the feeder.

DSCN3815

Self is racing through the rest of In the Shadow of Man. Gaaah, the way Goodall writes about a poliomyelitis breakout in her community of chimpanzees is so heartbreaking and tragic!  Self never knew that illnesses could jump between apes and man.  But why not?  Didn’t the bird flu virus start with chickens?

Anyhoo, one of the chimps has an enormous growth in his neck that looks exactly like a goiter.  Interestingly enough, that region has many people afflicted with same.

In one brilliantly written chapter, we follow the excruciating death of a grand, old chimpanzee named Mr. McGregor.  This mighty and stolid creature was felled by the loss of function of both his legs.  He crawled back to the camp, and the scientists had to do a mercy killing.  Goodall sums up the last 10 days of Mr. McGregor! Gah!  Nightmarish.  They fed him breakfast first, and while he was jubilantly examining two hard-boiled eggs, they delivered him unto oblivion.  At least he died happy.

Self’s rate of reading picked up with Goodall’s book.  Let’s just hope she can keep this up, for the next book on her reading list is — as self has remarked on before — the 1,000-page Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, Rebecca West’s account of her tour of the Balkans.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Beginning 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

What does the word BEGINNING mean to self?

The first sentence of the prompt on the WordPress Daily Post says it all:

HELLO 2014.

It means discovery and inspiration, whether that means a fresh take on dressing (White on white looks so good in the summer!), or a monument in the town of Vicenza, to a man who set out with Magellan on “the first voyage around the world,” and memories of New Year’s Day (2012).

White on white is fabulous. I'll try this look soon as the weather warms.

White on white is fabulous. Self snapped this picture in Stafford Park, during the Wednesday evening summer concert series.  She can’t wait to try this look soon as the weather warms.

Statue of Antonio de Pigafetta, chronicler of Magellan's voyage around the world, only one of 33 survivors.  The statue is in Vicenza, Pigafetta's hometown.

Statue of Antonio de Pigafetta, chronicler of Magellan’s voyage around the world.  Pigafetta was only one of 33 survivors who made the voyage home. Magellan died in the Philippines.  The statue is in Vicenza, Pigafetta’s hometown.

Dutch Goose, Menlo Park:  Watching last year's Rose Bowl.  Stanford won, ending many years of drought.  That was a lot of fun.

Dutch Goose, Menlo Park: Watching last year’s Rose Bowl. Stanford won, ending many years of drought. That was a lot of fun.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Reading Variety’s IN MEMORIAM, 2013

Ray Dolby, founder of Dolby Laboratories, died in San Francisco in September.  He was 80.

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, screenwriter and novelist, who collaborated with filmmakers James Ivory and Ismail Merchant on A Room With a View and Howard’s End, died in April.  She was 85.

Van Cliburn, Imelda Marcos’s frequent guest in Manila, died in February.  He was 78.

Actress Karen Black died in August.  She was in Five Easy Pieces and Nashville.  She was 74.

Actress Eileen Brennan died in July.  She was 80.

David Frost (most famous for interviewing Nixon), died in August. Age not stated.

Ray Harryhausen, who pioneered special effects for such movies as Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans, died in May.  He was 92.

Esther Williams, a statue of whom is still in Santa Fe Resort in Bacolod, and who starred in MGM “aquatic spectaculars” like Bathing Beauty and Million-Dollar Mermaid, died in June.  She was 91.

Elmore Leonard, bestselling author of Get Shorty, Jackie Brown and Out of Sight, whose most recent collaboration was on the F/X series Justified, died in August.  He was 87.

Dennis Farina, former Chicago cop who became famous for playing cops, most recently in Law & Order, died in July.  He was 69.

Jean Stapleton, whose iconic role was as Edith Bunker in All in the Family, died in May.  She was 90.

Annette Funicello, former Mouseketeer, died in April.  Self knows not why her name sticks in self’s mind.  She was 70.

Roger Ebert, film critic, died in April.  He was 70.

Peter O’Toole, one of self’s favorite actors, a true genius, died earlier this month.  He was 81.

Corey Monteith, of Glee, died in July.  He was 31.

James Gandolfini died in June.  He was 51.

Lou Reed, singer-songwriter, died in October.  He was 71.

Paul Walker died in November.  He was 40.

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