Libretto, MARIFE

Ten years ago, in VCCA (Virginia Center for the Creative Arts), self was working on a novella called Marife, loosely based on the events of the Oklahoma City bombing.

A composer named Drew Hemenger, who she met at VCCA, worked with her to turn it into a full-length opera.

The orchestral suite was performed by Hampshire Symphony two years ago. In her most woebegone moments, Drew would direct self to this or that opera (Porgy and Bess?) which took 20 years to be performed. And self would say, “Drew. I do not have 20 years.”

Dear blog readers, this is just to let you know that two people, if they are determined enough, even with no money, can create an opera. The problem has always been finding people who want to stage it. So self is doing this blog on the opera, for the first time. In case someone has any ideas to share?

Here’s how the libretto begins:

I.

MARIFE:

They were talking and talking and talking.

LAWYER:

About what?

MARIFE:

How do I know? What men talk about. Fishing, maybe.

LAWYER:

Fishing?

MARIFE:

Yes, fishing.


Self remembers when she first presented the libretto to Drew, he looked at the 80 pages and said, “That’s going to take three days to sing.”

So self chopped off all the lines to about half their length.

Is that how one writes a libretto? Self doesn’t know. She never wrote a libretto before.

“And just put in the word love, as many times as you can,” Drew said.

“I am not that kind of writer,” self declared.

“This is opera! Do it!”

Right after the Las Vegas shooting, self saw so many parallels with the Oklahoma City bombing. She asked Drew, “Didn’t it strike you as eerie? The ammonium nitrate? The Filipina?” Drew said: “I don’t know. I’ve been trying to stay away from all the Las Vegas shooting news.”

At  one point, Drew met someone who said we could have it staged in the CCP, the Cultural Center of the Philippines. He nearly flew over to Manila.

And self asked: Who was she? And then: Drew, this is one walk you’re going to have to take alone.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

IN COLD BLOOD, pp. 232 – 233

It’s the day after Christmas, for heavens sake, George Michael has died, and self is barreling through In Cold Blood.

It’s a great book. The characters — the two murderers and the four detectives whose seven weeks of patient chasing down of all manner of clues finally led to the arrest of Dick Hickok and Perry Smith for the murder of the Clutter family — are like players in a Greek tragedy (The fact that they arrested the right men: what a piece of luck! Seven weeks is not a long period of time, especially since Hickok and Smith had traveled over eight-hundred miles in the twenty-four hours immediately following the murders, and had no personal connection to either the victims or the town of Holcomb, Kansas, where the murders took place).

Self wants very badly to be able to picture these men, and is disappointed by the absence of any photographs. Isn’t this book nonfiction? Wouldn’t the inclusion of photographs have helped the book’s authenticity?

Instead she has to go googling on the web. She finds a New York Times obituary for Alvin Dewey, lead detective of the case. There is no photograph. Self decided not to google the faces of the two murderers.

Dick Hickok struck the detectives as intelligent and attractive (a Ted Bundy type?), well spoken.

His partner, Perry Smith, was so short that when sitting his feet didn’t touch the floor. And his feet were delicate, the size of a child’s. Yet this is the man who Dick Hickok claimed committed all four murders.

The two men are handcuffed but Perry Smith is a chainsmoker so, during the ride to Kansas, when Smith wants a smoke, Detective Alvin Dewey ends up lighting it for him and placing “it between his lips, a task that the detective found ‘repellent,’ for” it seemed “such an intimate action — the kind of thing” Dewey had done “while he was courting his wife.” (p. 233)

But Good Lord, the two detectives had to ride in the same car as these murderers, all the way back to Kansas. And at no point did they behave in a way that could be described as “unprofessional.” There’s will power for you.

The only reason self quotes the passage here is because, a page later, Perry Smith says to Dewey, catching him off guard: “You hate handing me a butt.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More Cover Art, More Stories Yet to Be Written

For a story yet to be written, this:

DSCN3009

Self’s working title for the story: “Offerings”

For yet another story to be written, with working title “Insomnia Diaries”:

DSCN2518

Finally:  How does “The Red Room” sound for the title of a story yet to be written?  Self thinks this picture would do nicely as an accompanying illustration:

The Red Room in Café Paradiso, city of Cork

The Red Room in Café Paradiso, city of Cork

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

NaNoWriMo 2014 Almost Upon Us, Looking Back at NaNoWriMo 2013

Self has never signed up for NaNoWriMo (Also, she has never applied to UCross. Self’s just saying. Nothing against Wyoming. You know what? Right this very second, she’s going to apply for a residency to UCross!)

The New York Times Book Review she is reading is the one from Nov. 17, 2013 (Her pile of back-reading is HUMONGOUS! Simply HUMONGOUS!)

A little over a month ago, when self was cooling her heels in southern California, she looked over Fall course offerings for UCLA Extension and saw that there was a class offered on “Achieving Your NaNoWriMo Goal.” And she quickly contacted the Program Administrator to indicate that she wished to enroll. She was informed that the class was “on-site.” And ya know, that’s 10 weeks of weekly on-site meetings, and self can’t commit to being in one place for 10 weeks. Seriously! So she regretfully had to pass up taking the class.

Here’s an excerpt from the article on NaNoWriMo 2013 which was in the Nov. 17, 2013 NYTBR:

We’re now past the halfway point of National Novel Writing Month — or, as it’s inelegantly shortened online, NaNoWriMo — when aspiring authors aim to produce 50,000 words during November. More than 277,000 writers signed up for the sprint this year. Erin Morgenstern, whose best-selling novel The Night Circus originated as part of the exercise, once advised: “Don’t delete anything. Just keep writing. And if you don’t want to look at it, change the font to white.”

Excellent advise! How does one register for NaNoWriMo 2014?

Stay tuned.

 

 

Beginning THE COLLECTED STORIES OF LYDIA DAVIS: Story 1 is Called “Story”

Here’s how the story (“Story”) begins:

I get home from work and there is a message from him:  that he is not coming, that he is busy.  He will call again.  I wait to hear from him, then at nine o’clock I go to where he lives, find his car, but he’s not home.  I knock at his apartment door and then at all the garage doors, not knowing which garage door is his —  no answer.  I write a note, read it over, write a new note, and stick it in his door.  At home I am restless, and all I can do, though I have a lot to do, since I’m going on a trip in the morning, is play the piano.  I call again at ten forty-five and he’s home, he has been to the movies with his old girlfriend, and she’s still there.  He says he’ll call back.  I wait.  Finally I sit down and write in my notebook that when he call me either he will then come to me, or he will not and I will be angry, and so I will have either him or my own anger, and this might be all right, since anger is always a great comfort, as I found with my husband.  And then I go on to write, in the third person and the past tense, that clearly she always needed to have a love even if it was a complicated love.  He calls back before I have time to finish writing all this down.  When he calls, it is a little after eleven-thirty.  We argue until nearly twelve.  Everything he says is a contradiction:  for example, he says he did not want to see me because he wanted to work and even more because he wanted to be alone, but he has not worked and he has not been alone.  There is no way I can get him to reconcile any of his contradictions, and when this conversation begins to sound too much like many I had with my husband I say good-bye and hang up.  I finish writing down what I started to write down even though by now it no longer seems true that anger is any great comfort.

I call him back five minutes later to tell him that I am sorry about all this arguing, and that I love him, but there is no answer.  I call again five minutes later, thinking he might have walked out to his garage and walked back, but again there is no answer.  I think of driving to where he lives again and looking for his garage to see if he is in there working, because he keeps his desk there and his books and that is where he goes to read and write.  I am in my nightgown, it is after twelve and I have to leave the next morning at five.

This is why writing is so fantastic.  You get bummed by something, you sit down and write about it.  If you can squeeze even one paragraph from the experience, you are still OK.

But, seriously, how great was the voice in “Story”? And as for the neurosis:  literature is filled with shrines — no, entire monuments — dedicated to neurotic behavior.  Self thinks it is interesting that writers who see neurosis so clearly are never themselves thought to be neurotic — in fact, they are almost always described as being “honest, insightful and brave.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Karaoke Bar

For the second day in a row, self was awake at 3 a.m.

Instead of doing what she did yesterday, which was call for a masahista, and then sleep a few more hours, she immediately got up and began to write.  And after two hours, she began sending out stories —  here, there, and everywhere.

And then her neck exceedingly bothered her.

And she realized she needed coffee.

In the meantime, the Masskara Parade on Lacson Street, which self has been anticipating seeing in person for the first time ever, seemed to have disappeared.  At some point, just before 10 p.m., she heard powerful singing.

She thought:  The parade!  And ran to her balcony.

But the street below was absolutely empty.  Turned out the singing was coming from a karaoke bar, a block away.  And here is a picture self took of the karaoke bar, while standing on her balcony.  She would have loved to go down on the street for a closer look, but she was alone. And still has to wear those huge sunglasses (How long until this black eye gets out of her life, she wonders?  She had to bail on a party for one of her nephews, last night.  Because it would have looked ridiculous to keep her shades on even while scarfing down lechon, etc)

Karaoke Bar, Bacolod. Self hears singing from there almost every night.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Third Wednesday of June 2012

The Daily Lunch Basket

The soup today was ham and vegetables in clear broth —  yummm!!!

“The Nest” at around noon: Self is hard at work today!

Today, self received a contract to publish her novella as an e-book.

Happy happy joy joy!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

3rd Saturday of June 2012: WRITING

Weather today:  wet.

Self doesn’t mind.

Since about a week ago, self has become quite impervious to vagaries like cold and damp.

A fine mist shrouds the trees.

Tally so far:  two short stories.  One is a piece of historical fiction, which she found she quite enjoys writing, if only in small bursts.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Still Happy

Self is happy to be home.  Yes, in spite of the fact that the San Francisco Bay Area is still chilly, and a pesky cough seems to have returned.

Looking through more mail, self finds a rejection from The Alaska Quarterly Review that she chooses to read as cryptically encouraging (if that is not too much of an oxymoron):  “Many thanks” handwritten in the bottom of the rejection note, but no signature.  Still, would an editor have bothered to write “Many thanks” if self’s story had not had some redeeming qualities?  Wouldn’t the rejection note have been left alone if the work was simply un-interesting and un-involving?  You see how the addition of a hand-written “Many Thanks” throws self off completely, dear blog readers?

(Self, there you go again, continually parsing codes.  Not to mention, embarking on the xxxth digression of the year. Focus, self, focus!)

Other stuff in the backlog of mail:  the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal

It is already the end of March.  How quickly the time has flown!  Upcoming on the calendar are :

  • April Fool’s Day:  Sunday, April 1
  • Good Friday:  Friday, April 6
  • Easter Sunday:  April 8
  • Bataan Day (Philippines):  April 9 (commemorates the Fall of Bataan, April 1942, which culminated in the infamous Death March)
  • Tax Day:  April 17
  • Earth Day:  April 22
  • ANZAC Day (Australia and New Zealand):  April 25
  • Arbor Day; South African Freedom Day:  Friday, April 27

Self’s Zen Mind calendar has the following reflection for March:

To open your innate nature and to feel something from
the bottom of your heart, it is necessary to remain silent.

The accompanying illustration is a pen and ink painting of Mount Fuji by the artist Shogetsu, who was active in the latter part of the Meiji Era, from roughly 1880 to 1890.  There is a museum dedicated to his work in Wakakusa, Japan

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The “Favorite Fonts” Post

It is still Saturday afternoon.  It’s still two more hours till the start of the Big Game.  Fall afternoons can move so slowly.

But self is nothing if not committed to finding stuff to obsess over.  Right now, that happens to be word processing fonts.

Self thought it would be interesting to list all the ones she’s used in the past year.  She hates fancy, curlicued fonts, but she adores clean, spare ones, like Arial.  Or its close relation, Arial Narrow.

She also loves Arial Unicode MS.

She doesn’t like Ayuthaya.

If she’s writing a more conventional short story, she’ll choose an old-fashioned font like Baskerville.  Or Baskerville Old Face (Honestly, she can barely distinguish between these two)

Or Bell MT.  Or Big Caslon.

Big Caslon is possibly her favorite among all these “old-timey” fonts.

She also really likes Book Antiqua (In contrast, Bookman Old Style seems a little too — squat).  And Calisto MT.  And Cambria.  Or Century Schoolbook.  Or Constantia.

Calibri is for when self writes science fiction (Don’t ask why).

Candara is when she wants to project modernity 🙂

Century is a somewhat fatter “old-timey” font.

Cochin is beautiful.  A wee bit spider-y, but acceptable.

She’ll only use Century Gothic if she doesn’t care about postage.  But she finds its letters too fat.  Euphemia UCAS is way better.

She’ll never use Chalkboard either:  it projects playfulness, and she wants to be taken seriously for her writing.  She wants to appear like a very serious, very committed writer.

Colonna MT is faint, like scratches on stone.  Didot is better.

Corbel is perfect for her science fiction.

Courier is for when she wants to pretend she’s a reporter.

Footlight MT Light is way, waaay too ornate.

Franklin Gothic Book is, right now, one of her favorites.  As is Gill Sans.  Or Gill Sans MT.  Or Lucida Grande.  Or Lucida Sans.  Or Lucida Sans Unicode.  Or MS Reference Sans Serif.  Or News Gothic MT.  Or Thonburi.  Or Trebuchet MS.  Or Lucida Grande CE.  Or Hei.  Or Hiragino Sans GB.  These fonts are what self considers “flexible.”  OK for science fiction, domestic drama, experimental prose poetry, or traditional short story.  Maybe, even, for a novel.

Futura looks too unconventional.

Geneva looks a little babyish.

But Georgia is OK.

Helvetica is all-purpose but not, right now, one of her favorites.

InaiMathi doesn’t seem to make enough of a statement.

Lucida Bright is really big (but not as big or annoying as Century Gothic)

Lucida Fax is pretty good.

Menlo is also pretty big, but somehow she doesn’t find it as annoying as Century Gothic.

She likes Microsoft Sans Serif.  Very much.  She’ll try and use it more.

She’s on the fence about Modern No. 20.

Optima is swell.

Palatino is pretty but boring.  Like an above-average cheerleader.

Perpetua is tiny, tiny, tiny (Was there a saint named Perpetua, or is self in the throes of another hallucination?)

Plantagenet Cherokee is worth a story or two.  Or three.

Rockwell and Sathu are a little too declamatory.

Skia is fun.  If self were really Henning Mankell, she would use this font all the time.

Tahoma used to be a favorite.  Not anymore.  Don’t take it personally.

She will never use Times or Times New Roman unless she wants to die of boredom.  She can’t understand why so many journals specify, in their Writer’s Guidelines, that the submission should be in Times or Times New Roman.

Tw Cen MT is too soon to tell.

Verdana is a better, tighter version of Century Gothic.  She still sometimes uses it.  Would you believe, there were years when self rarely used anything else?

The worst font, the one she urges aspiring writers to never, ever use, is Zapfino.  It’s got so many fancy curlicues, it’s as if you’re trying to be George Washington.  And you can only squeeze in about a dozen words per page.

And Kai, though self can’t remember ever using it, is beautiful. Not only that, self loves the sound of the word Kai.

AppleMyungjo is very nice.

Self believes she’s used up almost an hour, just listing all these fonts.  Now, that’s resourcefulness.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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