Focus: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 14 June 2017

The bokeh that resulted give the lights of the city a magical quality and creates a unique look for a heavily photographed location.

— David W., The Daily Post

Self had to look up the definition of “bokeh”, here.

Last night, self saw “Tristan and Yseult” at Shakespeare’s Globe. Such a beautiful, high-energy production, Emma Rice’s last as Director at the Globe.

Audience Leaving the Globe After “Tristan and Yseult”: Tuesday, 13 June 2017


Leaving Shakespeare’s Globe after a performance of “Tristan and Yseult,” Tuesday 13 June 2017

Going home, over London Bridge, she snapped this shot of Big Ben:


London Bridge Last Night, Around 10 p.m.

And this one of the London Eye:


Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.



Magellan Without Elcano

Ferdinand Magellan set out from Seville with five ships in 1519.

Two years later, he was dead on a Philippine island.

Why does he get credit for the “first circumnavigation of the globe”?

If it weren’t for Juan Sebastian Elcano, who completed the circle, there would be no circumnavigation.

Self thinks the return leg was just as important — no, more — than the first leg.

Magellan set out with five ships and 270 men. Stocked to the gills, supported by experienced crew. Two years later, it was left to Elcano to return a demoralized crew back to Spain. He did it in one year, with one ship, the Victoria, which sailed from the Philippines to Borneo, across the Indian Ocean, around the Cape of Good Hope, north along the west coast of Africa, finally reaching Spain on 6 September 1522, with 18 of the original 270 men.

Now, that’s a journey. That’s epic.

Three years later, Elcano went on another expedition, but this time he was not so lucky. According to Wikipedia, Elcano died while on the Loaisa expedition to claim the East Indies on behalf of Charles I of Spain.  The cause of death was malnutrition.

Stay tuned.

Finally, 232 Pages Into THE FOREVER WAR

We encounter the first American diplomat who speaks “perfect Arabic.”

This is pretty sad. It’s Robert Ford, the American Embassy’s chief political officer. Self looked him up. The Wikipedia page has rather skimpy information. He was a graduate of Johns Hopkins. That’s where he picked up his “perfect Arabic”? She always knew Johns Hopkins was a great school. She wonders if Stanford University offers Arabic? It has to, now, one would think.

Self is still pondering her previous post, about the Blackwater security people who were killed in Falluja, two of whose charred bodies were strung from a bridge over the Euphrates.

Whoever did it knew they were coming. But there was not the slightest trace of apprehension among the Blackwater people in that destroyed car. Either they were just masking their fear, or they had no choice, or they were really that arrogant.

Filkins describes Falluja as “a bomb factory.”

Come to think of it, self is pretty sure she’s read another book by Filkins. All she can remember is the AC/DC moment, hardly anything else. So, nothing prepared her, really for The Forever War. This is such a good book.

She has read soooo many books about Iraq. But the only other one she can remember with any clarity is Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Imperial Life in The Emerald City — nice euphemism for the Green Zone in Baghdad.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Good Morning, Wednesday

This morning, early, self:

  1. Watered the backyard.
  2. Deduced that today was cooler than yesterday.
  3. Looked up, on Wikipedia, a list of all the literary awards in America.

From 48 Laws of Power, she selected a page at random and read:

. . .  it is better to let your enemies destroy themselves, if such a thing is possible, than to make them suffer by your hand.

She swears, Green sometimes makes her laugh so hard she has to wait a minute or two before she can proceed.

Is it his implacability?

Or is it the (not-so-secret) relish that oozes from sentences like the ones below?

Whatever.  She’ll let dear blog readers judge for themselves.

When you have someone on the ropes, then —  but only when you are sure they have no chance of recovery — you might let them hang themselves . . .  The result will be the same, and you won’t feel half as bad.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Longest Day

In case, dear reader, you have not read the post immediately preceding this one, June 21 is the longest day of the year. At least here in the western Hemisphere.

According to Wikipedia:

” … the sun’s motion seen by an earthbound observer caused by the revolution of the tilted axis which, keeping the same angle in space, is oriented toward or away from the Sun, is an observed diurnal increment (and lateral offset) of the elevation of the Sun for approximately six months and observed daily decrement for the remaining six months. At maximum or minimum elevation the relative motion at 90 degrees to the horizon stops and changes direction by 180 degrees. The maximum is the summer solstice and the minimum is the winter solstice.”

(Please, someone, explain to self what it is she just typed? She isn’t even sure that is English???)

Self swears, the following narrative is absolutely true:

    She had just decided, no Scotland for her, at least this year, instead she’ll go home to Manila. She had just called Dearest Mum with the news, and there was happiness, yes there was happiness, for niece G will be home this December, too.

    Then she saw the comment left by Adrian Lizares, who takes care of the old family home in Talisay: “It’s been a year since you came. Do come again.”

    “Yes,” self said right away. “I will come. December … “

Stay tuned.

Philippine Elections: Second-Hand Report

The Philippine people voted (for a new President) on Monday, May 10.

First reports this morning were that Erap was leading.


For those dear blog readers not from the Philippines, Erap was a former action star who has already been President, only he was deposed for corruption and sentenced to house arrest, etc.

Years ago, when self was working as hapless program administrator at Stanford, an office colleague came up to her and said, “I just heard about the President of the Philippines trying to commute someone’s death sentence.  Only, by the time he’d decided to pardon the man, the condemned had already begun his walk to the execution chamber.  And in the time it took for someone to walk back and answer the phone, which was in another room, the man had been executed.”


And the punch line was, this office colleague looked at self and said (And this line has remained forever embedded in self’s memory):  “So is he dufus, or what?”

Self does not recall her response.

OK, slight revision here:  Noynoy Aquino (son of Beloved Cory) is narrowly ahead of Erap.  By the slimmest of margins.

One other candidate, Mar Roxas, who in the general opinion of self’s closest friends is pretty smart, is running behind the long-time Mayor of Makati, Jejomar Binay.


Never, ever in the history of self’s blog has she ever had to report such jaw-dropping (preliminary) election results, dear blog readers.

Stay tuned.

Self is Ready

Self is ready.  To write, that is.

She has cleared her calendar (and her head) and has promised herself the time from 10 am to 12: Read the rest of this entry »

“Hit Girl” Wields Balisong!

Just returned from watching “Kick-Ass” with hubby in downtown Redwood City Century 20.  Five stars!

In particular, loved:   the guy who plays “Kick-Ass” (Aaron Johnson:  Self discovers  —  from Wikipedia, where else?  —   that he is actually British) and the girl who plays “Hit Girl” (Chloe Moretz)

Almost couldn’t believe it when Nic Cage Gave his daughter (Hit Girl) two knives as a birthday present, one of which was a Filipino butterfly knife (balisong), which Hit Girl called a “bal.”

The music was pretty great, too.

Nic Cage has a way of delivering lines that makes almost everything sound sardonic.  He and Hit Girl had to put aside their nightcaps of hot chocolate with marshmallows when a distress call came in from Kick-Ass …

Anyhoo, self laughed through most of the movie.  And was so pleased that the bag of popcorn she got from the concession stand was ladled with an unusually generous serving of hot butt-ah!  (You see how little it takes to make self happy, dear blog readers?)

The only thing she didn’t enjoy was watching a preview for “Nightmare on Elm Street” 5 or 6 or 10.  She hates it when someone says:  “You can’t ever fall asleep!”  Dire words for an insomniac like self.

Then there was a preview for a comedy starring David Spade, Rob Schneider, Chris Rock, assorted others.  Though self laughed at the previews, and furthermore is full of appreciation for Rob Schneider, who is half Filipino, she does not have very high hopes for this movie.

Then hubby wanted to go to La Azteca for some menudo.  Then he wanted a cup of coffee from Peet’s.  And at last, we are home.

So, here are the three films self has enjoyed the most, thus far in 2010:

  • The Ghost Writer (Three cheers for Ewan McGregor!)
  • The Secret in Their Eyes (Cheers for a surprisingly complex story!)
  • Kick Ass (Cheers for an unexpectedly funny movie!  Self never in her wildest dreams could have imagined herself cheering for an 11-year-old Hit Girl in a purple wig and fab deep purple leather jacket)

(Warning to dear blog readers:  If you do not enjoy seeing someone impaled with various sharp implements by a foul-mouthed 11-year-old girl in a purple wig, then do not see “Kick-Ass.”  If, however, you are the type of person who finds such a thing funny, you will hugely enjoy “Kick-Ass”)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Good Mornin’ Sunshine!

No, scratch that.  Make that:  Good Mooorning, Rain!  Because it’s pouring right now.  Pouring!

See?  Self knew there was a reason she’s still in her pajamas at 2:48 in the afternoon!

Self just got off the phone with hubby, who gave her a most dolorous account of his career.  Then finished up by saying he was going to halve son’s allowance.  And asked if self could just pull herself together and deliver the bad news to son.  Which had self going “Ahem, er, we’ll see, uh —  Okey dokey!  G’bah!”

Self scanned the list of 2010 Guggenheim recipients (posted a few days ago; naturally, self is *not* on it —  BWAH HA HA!!!) and there actually is someone there who self met once:  Monique Truong.  She was the judge of a Hyphen short story contest a few years ago, and self has been teaching her novel in her Asian American lit classes.  Congratulations, Monique!

Let’s see, what else is blog-worthy?  Oh, self had such a fuuun time in the City on Saturday, first at the Growing Up Filipino II reading at the I-Hotel (Niece G and her friend Peter were able to make it, happy happy joy joy!), and then walking around Chinatown afterwards.  It did not rain.  Not one tiny little drop.  How wonderful.  Then niece rode back with self to Redwood City (which was a very welcome distraction from the knocking sound under her engine hood), and self introduced her to local staple Yumi Yogurt.  We each had small cups of Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Peanut Butter frozen yogurt.  (Next, self is determined to try Red Mango, which opened in San Carlos a couple of months ago.)

And tonight is Episode 6 of “Justified” !!!  (Oh, please, F/X powers-that-be, please let this show go on, for at least another season.  Because Timothy Olyphant looks just so spec-TA-cular in a white Stetson and cowboy boots!)

Finally, here is self, scanning the Wall Street Journal of last Monday (the 12th).  And, bottom of page 1 has a very interesting article about a Chinese American scientist turned stand-up comedian, named Joe Wong.  Apparently, Mr. Wong made an appearance on Letterman and just killed.  So, China Central Television, the biggest TV network in China, “deemed his success in the U.S. curious enough that it dedicated a special program to him in December.  The peg:  He’s the Chinese scientist who makes Americans laugh.  While CCTV declared that Mr. Wong’s success proves ‘humor has no boundaries,’ it concluded the program without showing any of his jokes.”

So, next, the Journal talks to Mr. Wong directly.  Apparently, Mr. Wong had  a live gig in Beijing, in late 2008, and that was just brutal.  In America, Mr. Wong said, “it’s funny to poke fun at yourself.  But in China, there’s no humor in misfortune.”  Mr. Wong “recalls looking out on the blank faces of a “polite but serious” crowd.

Yiiiikes!  You can never go home again, honey.  Never, never, never.

Stay tuned.

Hilarity Ensues

Here’s a quote from the book self is currently reading, Gary Shteyngart’s Absurdistan, pp. 75 – 76:

The evening progressed as expected.  We drove to my apartment beneath a confusing cross section of the summer sky —  the deep blue of the North Sea at the top, followed by the indeterminate gray of the Neva River, and at the very bottom, a brilliant ribbon of modern orange that hung like a fluorescent mist over the dueling spires of the admiralty and the Peter and Paul Fortress.

Along the way, we took turns hitting the driver with birch twigs, ostensibly to improve his circulation, but in reality because it is impossible to end an evening with Russia without assaulting someone.

“Please, sir,” pleaded Mamudov, “it is already difficult to drive on these roads, even without being whipped.”

“No one has ever called me ‘sir’ before,” Valentin spoke in wonderment.  “Opa, you scoundrel!” he screamed, flailing the driver once more.

Do you see how absolutely entertaining this novel is?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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