Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gifts, Football and other Randomness

Warning: If you find yourself here via a google search for such things as TV shows or films, recipes or cities, this blog has some facts. However, this blog is one author’s very twisted musing on many weird things. It is sometimes graphic in content. If you read on, don’t write to yell at me.

Random Tidbits

I’m not sure how long this blog will be. I’m not doing the year’s end wrap up until Tuesday or Wednesday. There are still some elements in play that may not resolve themselves until January 31st. I’m in an interesting state. We’ve been free of the day job since Wednesday, so I’m better rested than I typically am on a Sunday. I’m also not facing an intense day of food prep for the next week. We’re not really scheduled to do anything until after January 2nd. The only tension on the horizon that I know of today is the Eagles-Dallas game later this afternoon. I’m actually doing some work related to Sybaritic Press today. We’re finishing a transfer of nearly all of the titles to a new printer/distributor. It was a fantastic deal that included more access to brick and mortar bookstores. Our first experiments went well. We liked the quality of their printing, and the first transfer went through seamlessly. Unfortunately, this company has been very good at advertising their fantastic deal. Since the deadline is the 31st, they have been flooded with new submissions. The last transfers will not be seamless. Thus, if you’re new to this blog and inspired to go read our titles, they may turn up as unavailable on Amazon.com and other outlets. That should only be the case for about another week, but we aren’t sure that it won’t be a bit longer than that. Meanwhile, we are finishing the transfers on Monday or Tuesday.

The Gift of Giving

Husbands walk a minefield in gift giving to their wives. I think it’s that they consider themselves practical. Father’s practicality lead him to get Mother a vacuum cleaner for Christmas on year. It was a very nice vacuum cleaner, and the house needed one. That gift did not go over well at all. Since that experience, I eschewed practical gifts in favor of the very personal from guys. However, since cooking became an avid past time, I’m much more into the practical. Thus, this Christmas, I was pleased to get some professional sized cooling racks and a fourth half sheet pan. I had three professional grade pans purchased from a diner we frequented in Playa del Rey. It was shut down to make way for the first of many condo developments. That was one of the best cooking purchases I’ve ever made. But one the cooking beast is loosed, it must be appeased with new things. Thus, I was happy with my gifts of a box grater (I had abandoned my grater in favor of buying pre shredded ingredients like cheese and carrots. I’ve been persuaded that I’ll get better results grating some things myself). I was really jazzed to get some Limoncello. I have seen it used on the Food Network many times in some very tasty looking dishes and drinks, but it’s pricey enough to give me pause in the market. If it costs the same as a pound of crab meat or sea scallops, I will just buy the seafood. This is especially true if I’ve never used a product before. I’ve yet to buy Pernod, because I’ve never tasted it and don’t know if I’d like it in recipes. I don’t really like sherry in the soup recipes that call for it. But, I digress. I’m only lacking a new stash of Herbes de Provence. Jon and I will hunt down some in the next few days. Unfortunately, none of that hunting will be in Provence. By the way, I received a vexing e-card from one of the business I contacted during 2008. I’m certain he didn’t intend it to be vexing, but it was. The e-mail had a lovely Provence landscape and a caption like ‘The best gift to give yourself is a home in Provence.’ Well, d’uh. Let me whip out my ATM card and get on that. Ah well, I shall have to settle for taking a whack at making Ratatouille. I’ll be breaking out the Anthony Bourdain cookbook today for that recipe and some others that I haven’t tried in a while. It’s good therapy that I need.

The other gift I received from Jon that may raise eyebrows is Madden NFL for Playstation. I know you might think that this is like Homer buying Marge a bowling ball, because he wanted to have a new bowling ball and thought she’d just let him use it. I was going to use a reference from the Flintstones instead of The Simpsons. The Flintstones had a similar episode, but I wasn’t sure how many readers remember the TV series and not the films. Admittedly, I haven’t played video games routinely since Q*bert, but I was fairly good at them when I played. I haven’t been interested in playing the games Jon has though I enjoy watching many of the storylines. Yep, they have plots and some of them are quite a lot of fun. However, the only game I’d ever shown interest in playing is Madden NFL. Perhaps I can get the Eagles to the Super Bowl. Currently, I’m trying to not watch their final game of the season against the Dallas Cowboys. The playoffs are on the line, and I am not nearly drunk enough. I haven’t even gotten started on reaching that goal. I’ll peek at the score on Yahoo when the curiosity overcomes my better judgment.

There are none right now. We don’t expect any activity until tomorrow. That’s why I’m holding off on the year-end review. I did discover a great source for costumes for Blood Oath. I mean, how can you not shop at kungfu4less.com. I think I’d shop there just to say I had. We’re working on websites today. I’ve made a graphic for Blood Oath that harkens to my favorite romance novel covers. It’s simple, but I’m still pretty proud of myself. I’ll post notices of additions later. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Holiday Hats and Good Cheer

Warning: If you find yourself here via a google search for such things as TV shows or films, recipes or cities, this blog has some facts. However, this blog is one author’s very twisted musing on many weird things. It is sometimes graphic in content. If you read on, don’t write to yell at me.

It’s Christmas Day as I finish this blog. We ran around a bit more than I intended yesterday. Have you ever been to Costco on Christmas Eve? Never do that, okay? After that ill-advised sojourn, my back decided it had enough. It didn’t respond well to the computer chair last night. I’m much better today, fear not. And no without further ado, the very late blog.

Not A Creature Was Stirring

It’s Christmas Eve. Jon and Gabriel are watching Speed Racer(a not so secret nor guilty pleasure for us). The hole in the bathroom has been nicely re-plastered. My big meats have been roasted. The side dishes will be underway soon. Life is pretty good. I won’t complain about the inordinately cold weather. My East Coast buds have skewered me about my wimpiness. I know you can’t shovel rain, and with wind chill, it’s 25 below in Ohio. But a high of 48 in Los Angeles has made the Doppler-gangers completely insane. And it made my nose hurt coming home at night. So I admit to some whining. Maybe a lot of whining.

Now, when last I posted, I was exhausted from Saturday night. Mind you, I didn’t actually create the one sheet. That was Jon. But last weekend felt like riding the most twisty-turny roller coaster ride ten times in a row without a break. I had nothing left for the blog. I barely got my cookies packed to be shipped – late – on Monday. Nothing is wrong. In fact, we’ve been in much more dire positions at times like this. This time, we were prepared with an image and a plan. It’s just that we’ve been doing so much along with this. The time crunch was jarring. However, everything is going well, and we understand the urgency of the last weekend. It was valid and necessary, but this hurry up then wait is very tiring. We’re taking a hiatus from everything until Friday, when I expect the paperwork frenzy for the films will continue. I just want to cook, eat and watch films we missed in the theater this summer. Tonight is the 15th anniversary of Jon and I getting together (I harassed him at a company Christmas party and he stuck around). We’ll be celebrating that as well.

Glad Tidings

Before our celebration was interrupted, we were having a small, but lovely dinner with two of our hard working actors. I’ll speak about their work and that of all the actors we had the pleasure of filming in 2008 next week in the year-end wrap up. Last week, was about spending some personal down time with as many actors as we could gather before everyone took off for holidays with their families. We could only get Matty Ferarro and Jennifer Sparks, but they are a party waiting to happen. As I have said earlier, good actors are just bursting with personality. They lift your spirits just being with them. Jennifer and Matty are so much fun before they get to work, that we want to find ways of having them in everything we do. There are other actors we feel that way about, and they will be in almost everything we do. They also call at holidays and make me crazy, but that’s for another blog or not. Some of what was shared isn’t for mixed company. Matty and Jennifer were great holiday company, and they were great sports about wering the Happy holiday Hat. Interestingly, Travis Willingham has adroitly avoiding the Happy Holiday Hat for two years. That will have to change. Vic Mignonga was not so lucky. But he looked pretty cute. Low budget filming is hectic and stressed. There isn’t time for amenities and moments of connection, so we seek them out and value them . We all enjoyed some time eating great food and having great beer and a lot of laughs. It made the roller coaster easier to tolerate. Working with these talented guys and gals is what drives us. It’s good fun to acknowledge that even on a small scale. Though it was interrupted, the dinner was a nice Christmas present. It looks like we’ll have a lot of such presents coming in 2009.

Joyeaux Noel
An article in Monday’s Los Angeles Times’ Health Section cited a study that suggests Nostalgic feelings during holidays is therapeutic. That’s good to hear, because I can’t help but be nostalgic during these times. Though we are approaching geezer-hood, I still think fondly of my childhood holidays. It wasn’t just that the hauls were sweet (and they were). The fond memories are of hanging out with my cousins and playing with our new, cool stuff together. We were lucky to have a bunch of cousins close by who were close in age to us. Thus, Christmas fun came in waves during the day. First we opened our presents, then we’d get one set of cousins and then another. We weren’t bored. And, of course, Mom made piles of great food that we ate all day. Even the inevitable family dust ups were entertaining. There would be the odd aunt or uncle from out of town. And by odd, I mean actually odd. There were good reasons these folks weren’t typically invited to family gatherings. Yes, watching adults melt down could be great holiday fun. I enjoy these memories. They make me feel close to hearth and home though we’re on the other side of the country. The nostalgia isn’t melancholy though. We’ve had some great Christmases here. Nothing beats Craig and the rest of the Border’s alum (Phil and Marie to name a few) for the holidays. And then, there are the actors like Garett Maggart whom are anything but reverent. And not being in 5 degree weather or trudging through snow is a big bonus.

We soggy, but happy and well this Christmas day. I must be off to work on my side dishes. Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Stay Tuned

The blog will once again be delayed. Jon and I are in the middle of sudden funding talks. In fact, we were in the middle of our mini holiday party with our partners and a couple of our actor lovelies when we were called away to finish the onesheet for Luv U 4 Ever. We had to do that in under an hour from the phone call and that included the time it took to drive home from the restaurant. There is a fun story behind the creation of the poster and the Blood Oath photo shoot that happened the same day. Then, there was the abbreviated holiday party. I'll post on all of those stories and hopefully have updates from the meetings today. Jon has to do some image correction to some of the photos before I post them. Meanwhile, here is the onesheet.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holes and Wusses and Literary Mayhem

Warning: If you find yourself here via a google search for such things as TV shows or films, recipes or cities, this blog has some facts. However, this blog is one author’s very twisted musing on many weird things. It is sometimes graphic in content. If you read on, don’t write to yell at me.

Technical Difficulties

The weekend was filled with strange difficulties that thwarted me in accomplishing tasks in a timely fashion. For example, there is a two-foot long hole in our bathroom wall next to the medicine cabinet. It’s cut through to the apartment next door. Fortunately, it’s high enough and the viewable area narrow enough that privacy isn’t really an issue. There was some sort of mishap with the hot water pipes. Yesterday was filled with the sounds of drills and saws. For a while we had no water. Then, it was just no hot water (a great improvement as we could use the toilet then). The rug in front of the bathroom door was squishy wet from the waterspout that preceded the arrival of the plumbers. We had to leave the windows open and turn fans on to try to dry the rug. This open air was during an evening where overnight temps were dipping into the 40s. A fun time was had by all, and no baking or anything else got done. Today, we have the hole and hot water. Jon had to edit a video I made for a family even back east (I think the camera puts on more than 10 pounds), and we still had what seemed like tons of dough to bake. Thus, the blog was delayed.

Weather Wusses

I had a conversation with Craig that didn’t involve extreme weirdness. That’s weird on its own. The weather out here is actually getting interesting. In addition to the plummeting temperatures, there’s been rain and there is more to come. That’s bad for the burn areas, but good overall as we are facing water rationing next year. Anyway, Craig was flummoxed by his mother’s caution to avoid driving in the rain this weekend. The roads were treacherous, she told him. ‘This is the same woman that would send me into a maelstrom of wind and snow at six years old to walk 20 minutes to school carrying my Scooby-Doo lunchbox!’ He asked me if I remembered snow pants that snapped up the inside of the legs and mittens that attached to the cuffs of coats. I remembered them all too well. We agreed that we were wearing about 50 pounds of clothing during those East Coast winters. I would no more let a six-year old walk 20 minutes anywhere by himself today, but it was normal for us. I used to walk on top of tall snow drifts and cross black iced streets without thinking about it(I'm aware that I sound like an old coot). Now, I’m really chilled through in the 40 degree dampness in a trip home that is largely in vehicles. And Craig really didn’t want to drive in the rain. It’s kind of sad.

Literary Vein Opening

Needless to say, the opinions expressed in the in the following paragraphs are my own. Please, do not be offended if you happen to enjoy this sort of reading material. I’m merely expressing my own opinion in the form of aggressively asked questions. Warning: willy nilly spoilers abound.

I was looking at the roster of films releases for December with great dismay. With few exceptions, the film fare is steeped in misery. And many of those films are adaptations from critically acclaimed novels. During one particularly rough semester in Grad school, I asked one of my professors if a book must trigger suicidal urges to be considered great literature. There was not one happy book on my syllabus for that entire semester. My professor was confused that I held such a dismal view and aggressively maintained it as the weeks and the body count mounted. I do not read most critically acclaimed fiction even now, because life is an ongoing roil of wrenching emotions most weeks for me. I don’t need to spend my leisure time being emotionally and psychologically tortured. I wouldn’t have been paying attention to these films at all were it not the beginning of awards season. Because Los Angeles is where most Academy voters live, we get a great deal of ads and articles covering these ‘serious’ film to keep them fresh in the minds of voters when those ballots come out. Lucky me.

There is The Reader, a passionate tale of Hanna, an illiterate female child molester and former Nazi prison guard who is tried and convicted for sending women to the gas chambers after they wiled their time away reading to her. Is she tragically misunderstood or a fiend? Let me reiterate, child molester and Nazi prison guard. Why is she worth wallowing in angst and misery over? Continuing the Nazi motif, there is The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, another critically acclaimed book and bestseller. The plot is so inane, I’m not sure why it wasn’t considered a comedy. Those concentration camp guards were more incompetent than Sgt. Shultz and company from Hogan’s Heroes. And after those plot gymnastics and contortions, we come to the conclusion that there are many innocents destroyed by Nazis. Was this horrific trip necessary to teach this point? Wendy and Lucy is based on a critically acclaimed and depressing short story. It’s not as annoying to me as the previous two works of literature, but depressing nonetheless. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is surprising from F. Scott Fitzgerald. It doesn’t really look depressing – just really weird. Since we’re researching his for a film script, that’s one to read and to Netflix most likely. My movie bucks are most likely to go to Keanu Reeves. I’ll take a romp with GORT (who looks really scary in the new film) over literature any day. Needless to say, the Lit Department was none too pleased at having to award my degree.

Spreading the Joy
I’ll retract my claws now, and move on to warm thoughts of the holiday season. These are tough times for almost everyone. Still, most of us can put a few buck together and make a donation. All those little bits count add up. If they can help elect a president, they can help those in need. The Food Network is working with Share Our Strength to end childhood hunger. There is the USO that helps soldiers and their families. And there are food banks and soup kitchens in every community. Finally, programs like Toys for Tots accept new toys that cost as little as ten dollars. Spread some good cheer.

There aren’t really any. We have a photo shoot this week for Luv U 4 Ever’s Official Onesheet and for Blood Oath. That should be fun. And I’m hoping to see my various actor lovelies before they head off for the holidays Stay tuned.

Short Blog Delay

We're involved in baking and plumbing excitement. I'll post later tonight. It'll be worth the wait.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Blahs, Updates and Troublesome Trailers

Warning: If you find yourself here via a google search for such things as TV shows or films, recipes or cities, this blog has some facts. However, this blog is one author’s very twisted musing on many weird things. It is sometimes graphic in content. If you read on, don’t write to yell at me.

Blah, Blah, Blah

It’s been a blah sort of week. Some nifty things have happened, but I’m feeling blah. I suppose it’s being unable to make any definite plans for 2009 while having to be prepared to move at a moments’ notice. I’m looking forward to making the films, but not to the very fast pace that making films back to back will require. And though there will be far fewer hats for me to wear during these productions, I’m still juggling a lot of responsibilities during development. This blog is the only writing I’ve been doing that’s not directly related to the films. I think that’s a big part of my blahs. However, some nifty things have been happening. The Eagles just beat the Giants. That always puts a smile on my face. And the holiday cooking orgy has begun.

Not for Prime Time

I’ve been meaning to do a cooking video for my family this year. I used to spend a lot of time talking to my Mother or my Aunts while cooking holiday foods. I used to call my Aunt Eleanor from here while she made her meals. It was a time to discuss new techniques and family gossip. Well, mostly family gossip. I thought it would be fun for them to see Jon and I in action during the baking frenzy. I was going to do it this week as we made the first wave of cookie dough, and I made the fruitcakes. But, Our apartment is a bit cluttered with piles of papers, reports and forms related to the films. It wasn’t as noticeable in our place in Playa de Rey. It’s hard to miss here. And then neither Jon nor I was exactly camera ready. Thus, I could hear the commentary. Couldn’t she pick up the place? Why didn’t she do something with those edges (the definition is inadequate, and I am loathe to post anything quoted from the show Martin but this is the best I could find on the term. In my case, it’s the edges of my hair along the forehead and temples)? Why doesn’t Jon have a shirt on? That’s just nasty. (Jon does the dishes for me between batches of dough. He prefers doing them topless). How did she get flour on her back? You get the idea. I’ll make a video during the second wave, and have my act together. Though that one will include the marshmallows that sometimes run up the paddle to the mixer to escape. That’s always a lot of curse filled fun. Marshmallows are kind of hot when you’re making them. Still, I think my family will enjoy the video. I’ll post it somewhere accessible for anyone else interested. And the baking is a most welcomed creative outlet. Perhaps, I shall be less grumpy.

As I said earlier, some nifty things have happened and are happening. I can’t talk about any of them in a public forum. This really sucks for a recovering fangirl such as myself. We live to dish, after all. I can tell you that there are some concerns about the SAG strike authorization vote. I don’t think these concerns are enough to stop us from going into pre-production as scheduled. We’re hoping the labor unrest will have been settled by the time we get to the first shoot date in February. I really doubt it would affect the April shoot in New Jersey. The film industry would be a smoldering crater, if that happens. Thus, we are proceeding as scheduled. The strike fears have postponed the shoot of the Blood Oath short. Some TV shows that would typically be on vacation this time of year are continuing to work to get as many episodes as possible in the can. That includes the show that is at the studio we plan on using. It’s been pushed back to after the New Year. I had hoped to have the short online before we start the other films, but there is nothing that can be done. I’ve been having a lot of fun with this shoot, though it means wearing many, many hats.

Trailer Trouble
Since I haven’t any writing to discuss and I can’t talk about the films we’re developing, I will talk about the big trailers that are creating buzz out here. I heard about the 2008 version of The Day the Earth Stood Still when my Vancouver muse, Kim mentioned it on a film list there. I was not pleased at all to hear about that. The 1951 film is among my favorite films. Please note, that the poster on the link has nothing to do with what is in the film. I loved the original for its character work and some surprisingly good special FX. However, the film was not dependent on FX to sustain tension and create dread. In this special FX intensive age, I worry that those little human moments will be lost. And let’s just say that I am not completely confident of Keanu Reeve’s acting ability. Still, I have to admit that the 2005 remake of War of the Worlds was quite good. And I went to that with quite a hostile attitude as I loved the 1953 film. So, I may go see this one.

The Day the Earth Stood still has a really snappy trailer that has lots of whizzes and bangs, but it also has very personal jeopardy and even some humor. It is the kind of trailer that is designed to attract a large mainstream audience. The second trailer that is the subject of much discussion at our house is for Star Trek. Unfortunately, as anticipated as the trailer is in some quarters, what I saw will not have a mainstream appeal. Now, before the flame war starts, I have a pedigree with Trek. I was in Trekkies as a representative slash writer. My contribution to the franchise can be viewed here. I have sat in Ron Moore’s office and berated him about various Trek issues. He still talks to me. Thus, I am not a disinterested party and have followed it in all of its forms. I am someone that should want to see this film. But I’m not talking out Trek fans and this trailer. I’m talking about a mainstream audience that doesn’t care about ship design or whether Leonard Nimoy is in the film. I bring this up because it is the subject of much discussion in out home. Our good friend Gabriel Koerner, the ultimate fanboy in both Trekkies films is very keen on the film working out. And this is despite the fact that the film heavily borrows from his enterprise ship design. I’m too polite to say they stole it, but it is awfully close. Mainstream film goers want to know what a film is about and what kind of time they will have. This trailer is about Kirk’s origin story and Spock’s destiny. I have no idea what the film is actually about. I have no clue whatsoever. The mainstream audience isn’t burning to hear about Kirk’s formative years, and this film will need a lot more than Trek fans buying tickets for it to perform well. It doesn’t look good for box office success. It really doesn’t.

The third trailer is one that I actually have no interest in. Jon is incensed by what he sees in the trailer for The Spirit. From my point of view, the trailer is even weirder and more off putting than the one for The Watchmen. It doesn’t even have the hipness and fun verve of the trailers for Sin City. It is unlikely to be big box office. Jon is annoyed because of the apparent liberties Frank Miller took with the material. Miller professed to be a great admirer of the Spirit’s creator, Will Eisner. He said the man’s work was a great influence on his work. And Miller is also known for becoming very aggressive toward anyone he deems is subverting his work. Thus, Jon is flummoxed at what he sees in that trailer that in no way resembles the character he followed. I tell him to have heart. There isn’t likely to be a sequel.

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for the post Christmas Party gossip!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mud, Stuffing and Amish Coffee Makers

Warning: If you find yourself here via a google search for such things as TV shows or films, recipes or cities, this blog has some facts. However, this blog is one author’s very twisted musing on many weird things. It is sometimes graphic in content. If you read on, don’t write to yell at me.

And Then There Was Mud

The fire danger gave way to threat of mudslides at the beginning of this week. I had no idea that the Emergency Broadcast System could activate while replaying a recording on the cable DV-R box. I was watching a cooking show when I suddenly found myself looking at instructions for evacuation if I were in Yorba Linda, California. Next, I was on the shopping channel and somewhere else before I realized that my recording had been turned off. That happened three more times before the end of the recording. I really think that if I were in the flooding area, I would notice an impending river of mud. They seemed to be on top of the situation there, if the sandbags are any indication. For us, the rain was mostly a relief – save for all the skidding cars on the road. It made he temperatures much cooler (I finally put on my coat the day before Thanksgiving. I think that may be a record). The gray skies are a nice change. If we can’t have real autumn, I’ll take a little gray now and then. Thanksgiving makes more sense when it’s cool and damp than when it’s a blazing 90 degrees.

Stuffed with Stuffing

As always, I really enjoyed everything about the Thanksgiving Holiday. I like all of the holiday specials on the Food Network, even if I’d seen them many times. Though this year, I must admit to being vexed by the Dear Food Network mini series of specials. In it they had fans go meet their favorite chefs and learn to overcome their recipe disasters. I was particularly peeved over the Ina Garten segment on desserts. She flew in the participating fans to her house in the Hamptons by helicopter for a party in her new barn (not the kind of barn one normally conjures up, but one in which five star parties can be held). On top of that, one of the participants FIRST got to hang out with Tyler Florence. I asked him for help with my disastrous hush puppies years ago, but do I get a call – no! Granted, hush puppies aren’t typical Thanksgiving fare that I know of. They usually involve a fish fry. But I asked first. Boy, that episode really burned my biscuits. Not that I make biscuits for Thanksgiving either. We usually cheat by throwing brown n’ serve rolls in the oven after everything is heated (That’s if we remember we even bought them. There were a couple of holidays in a row they were still in the pantry when the guests left). Where was I? Oh yeah, I was really ticked off. I watched anyway. Our meal was really good and most plentiful where leftovers were concerned. I am seldom tired of them when they finally run out.

I didn’t do my usual photo shoot of food while I cooked. Actually, I was going to make a little video of my kitchen doings, but I was really taking it easy during the whole time I was cooking. In other words, it didn’t look pretty in here. I don’t want to horrify anyone. Perhaps I’ll make one during the Christmas baking. However, we wanted to show everyone something we were thankful about. We decided on this. In case you can’t see, we’re eating steak sandwiches. Very traditional.

We kept this holiday very low key this year. I’m still fighting off some sort of lingering cold or sinus problem. There are also persistent back problems. We are taking it very easy every chance we get, and since everything slows down here, industry wise for the whole four day weekend, it was a great opportunity to rest. Still, we are working on the projects.


There are none. Everyone was shut down by Wednesday, so there is no movement to report on any of the projects. We do expect a great deal to happen this week.

Friends In Deed

No, it isn’t a typo. These are friends who do deeds for each other. Personal connections are extremely important in showbiz. Through these connections, we can get meetings or find crews. We’ve networked our way into contacts that introduced us to funding sources. It’s hard to meet such people without an introduction from the right person. It’s so very 19th Century at times that I expect to be asked or a formal letter of introduction. In exchange for the generosity we’ve been shown out here, I always try to help friends with productions as best I can. On another level, friends can help with nuts and bolts of a production from development to post. I often turn to non-industry friends for answers to pre-production questions. Our primary Set Elf (you’ll have to ask him to explain that term), Randy, is the go-to guy for advice on building sets. Information about the cost of materials and the amount of time are very useful when developing a budget. To get that info from someone who usually works on designing and building sets involves paying a consulting fee. Not that I begrudge anyone fees for valuable insight. It’s understandable to charge when you reach a certain level of expertise. And the danger of networking is the risk of being used for contacts or expertise. I work hard not to unduly impose on anyone. However, our company has yet to reach the point where we have five or six figure development budgets (I don’t think we’d know how to act when that happens). Often, a project can’t get off the ground if there isn’t a complete and believable budget, so this assistance is vital. Then, there are times that I just need to find a way of articulating a character during the writing process. My musician/DJ friend, Bruce Kline, has been very helpful in assisting my articulation of Billy Swain’s character in Luv U 4 Ever. He’s also been willing to work for tens of dollars on the musical score for the Blood Oath short. I don’t write with music in my head as a habit, but having the music prior to shooting in this case will be extremely useful as we block the action. We’ll be editing according to the music, and it helps to have blocking of the action that keeps the editing in mind. Since both men have very busy lives, and the reward for these deeds is not guaranteed, their deeds are very much appreciated and valued. Thanks guys. Now get back to work. :)

Worst TV Thing Ever

Well, I can’t say it’s the absolute worse. There are many new lows to reach, I’m sure. But this made my brain hurt. Even Craig said, ‘this just is completely wrong’ when he saw it. I’ve watched a lot of inane TV commercials over the years, and some of them have been really appalling. There was the spray on hair in a can. And then there are those pills one of the Brady Bunch boys is pushing to make men larger (ewww). But this is beyond the pale. It’s the heatsurge portable fireplace (it’s on wheels). The ad claims that the devices are handmade by Amish craftsmen. My favorite part of the ad is when the ‘Amish’ are taking these items to be shipped in a horse drawn cart. Most ridiculous of all, if you order during the ad, they’ll throw in an electric coffee maker. We believe that the Amish are making only the mantles for these things, and that’s by giving the company a huge benefit of the doubt. That photos on the website don’t seem to have any elements that were in the same room together ever. And for those unfamiliar, it’s highly unlikely that the Amish have anything to do with electric coffee makers or fireplaces with remote controls or anything electric. We’re hoping some of their Menonite brethren, who do watch TV, will inform about this ad.

A lot of action happens this week. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Meet 'Blood Oath's' Vincent Greven

Here are some of the make-up tests for Blood Oath. Just click on photos and you'll be at the myspace page where they are located.


Missing Muse, Updates and Big Food

Warning: If you find yourself here via a google search for such things as TV shows or films, recipes or cities, this blog has some facts. However, this blog is one author’s very twisted musing on many weird things. It is sometimes graphic in content. If you read on, don’t write to yell at me.

As it turned out, I never got around to posting during the week. It was the usual insanely busy week, but I found myself without any energy to do any kind of writing when I wasn’t working on something that’s in development. We were both on some heavy antihistamines (You know there is something bad in the air when Jon actually asks for sinus meds). The air at the beach where we are was unhealthy most of last week. We were at the furthest point out from the fires. Some neighborhoods had ash in the trees and on cars. The air toward downtown was brown early in the week. You really shouldn’t be able to see the air you’re breathing. One of my conference callers said I had a Brenda Vacarro voice happening in the morning. That implied to me that my voice isn’t always sultry and sexy, but I let it pass. We have little to complain about though. There have been a lot of people displaced with doubtful prospects. Fortunately, the losses were primarily property though in this economic climate, those losses are a catastrophe.

Missing the Muse

The big drag about being involved in all of these film projects is that I haven’t had the time to do any kind of creative writing just for me. I can’t justify using any of my free time to work on anything save for the films. That always makes me feel somewhat down. Aside from the creative rush I feel when I’m hanging out with characters I’ve created, it is the only outlet I have that doesn’t involve input from anyone else. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a thrill to hear actors say words you’ve written exactly the way you heard them in your hear or even better than you’d imagined. And it’s an amazing feeling to see scenes that were in your head come to life. However, that means a lot of sharing of the vision in a given work. That sharing always changes what was originally written. There are a number of writing projects vying for my attention. I’d love to tinker with any one of them, but I can’t right now. That throws me off a bit. My happiness meter isn't as high as it could be. For now, the trade-offs are enough that I can cope.

Updates and Panic Attacks

We’ve been having a lot of panic attacks lately. While watching the stock market roller coaster every day, it is easy to start worrying about our films and their funding. So we do – a lot. Still, we keep working on developing them to keep the schedule that is currently in place. The last word that we have is that we are still on schedule with The Gunslinger and Luv U 4 Ever. I have been adding previously deleted material to The Gunslinger since we found out it will have a theatrical release. I’m glad to have the scenes back though I’m still wrestling with the pacing of the script. They’re a lot of fun and it gives my cast more opportunity to shine. Meanwhile, I did a make-up and hair test with Matty Ferraro for Blood Oath. I’ll put those up on the newly minted myspace page for the project later today, and I’ll make an announcement here for those interested. He really has a living anime character thing happening (he’s a very pretty Vincent Greven). I’ll also reveal our pick for Rik Heron. He has a Willem Dafoe thing happening. Thus, this Rik will have a lot of intensity. We are on track to finish that shoot before everyone leaves for Christmas. I can’t wait to work with Matty in front of a camera. He is ever so patient and personable and trusting. I tell him that I need him in the bedroom on his knees and he doesn’t bat an eye (so very trusting). I like that kind of cooperation in attractive men. As for the features, unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be in a position to name the casts of the two features until early next year. You’ll have to stay tuned.

Foodie Things

Though I haven’t been doing much fiction writing, I have been engrossed in all things related to Thanksgiving cooking. That means that I am watching new shows about things I’ve been making for years and old shows that I’ve seen dozens of times. I puts me into a near zen-like state necessary for cooking all that food. Jon is very lucky to have headphones and an endless collection of soundtracks. We aren’t planning on entertaining this year. The holiday is an opportunity to rest from our routine (which we really need to do) and, more than likely, work on the projects in development. I say that I’m not planning to entertain. There are friends out there whom I haven’t heard from in a bit. I’m not sure that people won’t show up. I’ll be ready if that happens. I am making pies for some actor friends, as usual. It’s really hard for me to make one sweet potato pie (no pumpkin pie here, sorry). Cooking is my form of meditation, so I don’t think of it as a chore. And since there is Jon to do the dishes between rounds of cooking, it’s even less of a chore. I would cook even if we went to someone else’s place for dinner. My Mother always did that, because we wanted our own source of sandwiches and leftovers. The Thanksgiving meal is mainly about sandwiches and leftovers, after all. I have to warm up my kitchen mojo. Friday is the beginning of the great holiday baking extravaganza. This will be a happy smelling place for the next few weeks.

Since I’ll be posting later in the week, this blog will be a little short. Stay tuned for more rants and updates on the doings here mid-week.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Blog Delay

While we physcially safe from the current round of fires (the LA/OC fires are all an equal distances from our part of LA in different directions), there is an ongoing concern about loss of power to the entire area. There are also irritants in the air blowning from the affected areas. Thus, concentrating has been difficult and unlikely to change today. I'll post later this week or wait until next week. Keep those affected by and fighting the fires in your thoughts.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Holograms, Updates and Little Richard

Warning: If you find yourself here via a google search for such things as TV shows or films, recipes or cities, this blog has some facts. However, this blog is one author’s very twisted musing on many weird things. It is sometimes graphic in content. If you read on, don’t write to yell at me.

Seriously, hunters from the search engines. If a search for a person, place or thing has brought you here, this is not the place you seek. Return to the list and hunt on.

As for my regulars, there will be much in the way of digression and obscure references.

A New Day

I know there were readers looking for me to blog on Election Night or shortly therafter. Frankly, I’ve been busy trying to process it all and crying intermittently. And I have been really reluctant to discuss anything political in this blog. But this was more personal than political, so I will share what happened in the wake of the election. Initially, I found myself thinking of a quote from Captain Peter Blood. I often quote Captain Blood, but this was different from yelling ‘Avast me Hearties’ during a production meeting. My first thought when I realized the concession had been made was ‘For me, this changes the shape of the world.’ Apparently, the world agreed. I was really thrilled about the reaction to the election in various parts of the world. Though, I am still confused as to why Athens, Greece and Australia were so happy about it. If I have readers in either place, drop me a line to satisfy my curiosity. Everyone’s reactions brought me to tears. It started with Jesse Jackson all but sobbing during the speech afterward. Colin Powell really got me going. I don’t know how I’ll get through that first chat about it with my Dad. He grew up in the south during Jim Crow . My memories of that time are only glancing ones. If his voice breaks, I may never recover. Meanwhile, I found a really cool photo of Obama on Yahoo that I may print out. I got very tickled at the thought of doing that. I wondered if I should just get a photo of Christ and Martin Luther King, Jr. and have a set like Grandma’s. I am certain she already has a photo of the President elect next to those others. He would probably be next to Little Richard in the row of honor. Yes, I know that sounds odd, but the performer went to Sunday school with my Grandma’s younger sisters in Macon, Georgia. They ran into each other a couple of years ago. She asked him why he was ‘acting the fool’ on the Geico commercials. He remembered her by name and gave her a photo.

The news coverage, as it has during the entire two-year election ordeal, flummoxed me. I think my favorite bit of silliness was CNN’s hologram technology that brought individuals stationed in different parts of the country to CNN news headquarters via holographic projection. But why? I have no good answer. Maybe the network enjoys giving fodder to The Daily Show http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Daily_Show. Largely, the best actual coverage of the election were from the CBC and the BBC. I am an avid watcher of CBC’s The National and they did not disappointment with their excellent and professional election coverage. But even Canada has some odd quirks that find their way onto the news. Jon and I have been puzzled by Canadian viewers obsession with The West Wing since witnessing the overflowing, passionate panel on the subject at Toronto Trek. None of my Canadian friends could explain why they found a fictional White House drama more compelling than the real White House drama. And I thought the obsession was limited to fans avid enough to attend conventions. Imagine my surprise when it is mentioned on Canada’s premier news broadcast that the man Obama chose as Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel was the real life model for Josh Lyman on The West Wing. Mind you, I have never watched the show, but my friends have gone on about Bradley Whitford’s Josh that I feel like I’ve dated the guy. It was all very surreal.

All in all, I am overjoyed though still trying to wrap my mind around it all.

You Go Girl!
I must take this opportunity to congratulate my dear friend, Sarah Freligh. She has just heard the news that she will be the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She was chosen out of filed of 10,000 applications. Congratulations! It is well deserved. Again, I must insist that you tell everyone to check out her wonderful book, Sort of Gone.

Film Updates
There isn’t much new that is happening. We did see an interesting report last week that made us all less annoyed at the push on Luv U 4 Ever’s start date. A major and surprisingly early snowstorm blew through New Jersey last week making a mess of everything and causing widespread power outages. I can’t tell you how much film dislike big surprises like that. There would have been days lost getting the outdoor locations to look like they did at the beginning of the shoot. Not a lot of fun to be had there.

We expect to be doing some road trips for that film and for The Gunslinger between now and the end of the year. That will be varied and interesting. We’re looking at everything from amusement parks to old west ranches. There will be tons of photos, for sure. I think we’ll wait on scouting in New Jersey until after the New Year. I don’t want to get stuck in holiday air traffic. I’m really not keen on flying when everything is running smoothly. We’ll be getting detailed photos from our production partners in the locations (save for the amusement parks). The photos help, but Jon and I both need to stand in the space to know if it will work. He has to do blocking, and I need to get a feel for the space to know if it matches what I had in my head. Ah well, there will be frequent flier miles, I think. And I’ve been making notes from shows like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, because it’s all about the food. As for Blood Oath, I hope to have my choice for Rik nailed down this week. Meanwhile, I’m designing a lot. Now that the script is done (A big thank you to my beta readers. You were a big help), we can pick a location and start thinking about the wardrobe. And I’m working on the website. I think that’s everything. No wonder I’m confused.

A New Rant
Warnings: Spoilers for CSI and CSI: Maimi
This doesn’t have anything to do with a particular show (though I have a rant on this weeks episodes). I’m really ticked at the advertising of new episodes on CBS this season. They have been deceptive. In the case of CSI and CSI: Miami, it’s been strongly implied that main characters are in mortal danger or that the show will end with a loss of a character. In the cases I’ve seen, the ‘jeopardy’ is dispatched by the time of the first act break or before the main credits even roll. I really don’t like being deceived like that. Surprise is great. Deceit is annoying and unnecessary.

Speaking of annoying, somehow the CSIs on CSI: Miami have become US Marshals. There were Delko and Calliegh guarding a witness and preparing to escort him to court. Jon was yelling ‘don’t those two have to go swab something?’ It was bad enough that they are actually interrogating and investigating and not just doing lab work, but is the fantasy these shows have chosen to do. But witness protection? Please!!!

However, the return of Lady Heather on CSI did not disappoint. She was as wonderful as ever and just what Gil and the show needed. I also think we have seen the last of bitchy and self-centered Sara.

Okay, I’ve got to make some soup and get back to my sketches. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Updates, Mud Watch and Riots

Warning: If you find yourself here via a google search for such things as TV shows or films, recipes or cities, this blog has some facts. However, this blog is one author’s very twisted musing on many weird things. It is sometimes graphic in content. If you read on, don’t write to yell at me.

It’s been a busy week, but Jon and I are coming off really nasty colds. This will likely be a brief blog.

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

No, I don’t mean The Sergio Leone film. I actually didn’t like that one as much as High Plains Drifter. I know that wasn’t a Sergio Leone film, but it had the Man with No Name, and the plot was more coherent. Where was I? Oh, yeah. The World Series. I managed to not get emotionally involved until the First game in Philly. There, Tim McGraw threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Philly isn’t necessarily a big country western town. All things being equal, they’d prefer to have Springsteen – if anyone at all. Tim McGraw is the son of the much loved Tug McGraw, the winning pitcher in the last series the Phillies won – 28 years ago! I always liked Tug. He had a lot of personality on the mound. That is a touching story in itself, but later I read that Tim had secretly left some of Tug’s ashes behind on the mound. Of course, I burst into tears. Then, I was really invested in them winning and winning in Philadelphia. Bet we never do anything easily in that town. I’m not saying that the 45and a half hour rain delay was the fault of the city. It’s just that if this unprecedented kind of thing is going to happen, it’s most likely to happen in Philadelphia. I happened to be home for the final out after being sidelined by the office cold for half a shift. I heard from friends here which was nice. I was really pleased to hear from Gideon and my former co-workers in Philly that night. I haven’t heard from them since they reported that cars were being flipped and things were on fire. They were off to find tequila at the time. I’ll start worrying if they don’t turn up in a day or two. My favorite comment about the aftermath of the game came from my very dry humored father. His e-mail read: As you know, the city is going crazy. I’ll send you a newspaper. That, too, is the way of our people there. It was familiar and heartwarming to see them trying to tip over a news van. Good times for all. I can finally let go of 1993. It turns out, to our deep surprise, Philly already had. At least, they’d forgiven enough to let Mitch Williams back within city limits to be a sportscaster. We have truly turned a page as well as overturning some cars.

Chance of Lightning and Threat of Mud

Surprisingly, LA is on Stormwatch! once again. I say surprise, because despite the numerous Doppler weather systems in HD with numeric suffixes, the weather guy was surprised that it had rained over night on Thursday. Since the skies were really overcast on Friday, I paid close attention to the forecast on the noon report. They said there would be ‘sprinkles’ through the weekend. Saturday we woke to find ourselves on Stormwatch. There had been torrential downpours, movie FX level lightning and mudslides in the burn areas. Either these weather forecasters have a warped sense of what sprinkles means or they need to go back to technology of 20 years ago. Accu-weather radar sans Doppler or HD worked just fine. So does looking out the window in a pinch. At least fire season has been put on hold for the time being.

Various Updates

Jon is slogging away on Luv U 4 Ever while fighting cold medicine fuzziness. I often find him blinking very slowly at the PC monitor. That film is proceeding at a far more leisurely pace, so the fuzziness isn’t a problem. Meanwhile, I’ve been involved in some odd kinds of scriptwriting this week. I’ve been trying to figure out how to put back scenes removed from the current draft of The Gunslinger without losing the pace of the film. It’s interesting to re-write when you have an actor in your head for the part. Typically, we don’t. Now that we have our leads and a strong indication of who almost everyone will be, it’s affecting how I write dialogue. It’s not that I write to make the character sound more like the actor. It’s more that I’m familiar with the actors’ strengths tend to play them up. It’s fun and much more easy to write lines when I have an idea of who will be performing them.

Along with The Gunslinger re-write, I am getting into the development of the Blood Oath short. Yep, there is a website. I’ll be loading up the character dossiers later tonight. I’m not going to put up photos of the actors on the website until I have them in full make-up and costumes. The short will only have three actors in it, but we have people in mind for the proposed series. I surprised myself by writing the ten-page short in just two days. In it, I distilled the major themes of both Soldiers books. Jon was impressed, but I’ve been living with these guys for a couple of years now. Once I figured out a set up for the action, hitting all the important notes with the dialogue was relatively easy. Jon thinks I could trim some stuff and still keep all that I have to cover. We’ll know for sure after a table read with the actors. It’s hard for me, as primarily a novelist, to hear that dialogue is running too long. I have a lot of interior monologues in my fiction. My characters are yakking all the time. It usually takes hearing the lines performed to realize that there are too many words coming out of their mouths. And this is why a writer should never put the words final draft on a script they are shopping around. That’s a mark of a novice. A script isn’t considered final until the DVD extras are wrapped(in the case of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, the last scene recorded happened after it won best picture). We always do adjustments after an actor is attached, because their performance choices may change how we view the part. At any rate, I have a script. Now, I just have to figure out how to shoot all the elements before we’re pulled away to start Luv U 4 Ever. And the holidays are coming.

Alas, this will be a shorter blog than usual. I am very tired from cold meds, and I have a lot of work to do and actors to call. But next week will be filled with rants and other fun stuff. Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Updates, Adutions, Tramps and Cannibals

Warning: If you find yourself here via a google search for such things as TV shows or films, recipes or cities, this blog has some facts. However, this blog is one author’s very twisted musing on many weird things. It is sometimes graphic in content. If you read on, don’t write to yell at me.

We’ve been enjoying an interesting fall, weather wise. It’s been a bracing 90 degrees, but the humidity is mostly gone. Delightful...right. I tried to screen capture one of the Doppler-ganger forecast last week, because it had an animated map of the region charting the likelihood of a brush fire. This is an exciting new weather development. So we had sunny, warm with a 90 degree high and a 30 percent chance of fire as a forecast. My brother was quite astonished when I told him this. ‘You live in a city that has a fire forecast. Doesn’t that sound screwed up to you?’ It may have ten years ago, but not so much now. I find I’m more annoyed that I can’t cook the very yummy looking fall recipes I’m seeing on all the cooking shows. The thought of a blazing hot over on a 90 degree day is not very appealing.

And a big good luck to Philly tonight. I’m not just talking about the World Series. I wishing a good luck to the citizens in south Philly who have the World Series game, an Eagles game and a Who concert in the same afternoon/evening. Fun!

Film and Concept Updates
This week came closest to high level of crazed I feel when we’re fully in production. Ralph and I are working on three projects at once. This confusing on its own. Add to that the fact that three of people we interact most have the same first name. I began insisting on Mafia style nicknames. To quote my South Philly paisan, Gideon: ‘When you have three Vinnies, two Louies and four Tonies in a room, you gotta do something.’ Ralph opted for three versions of the same name. He’s no fun. Confusion aside, we’re on track with the two films. Recent developments with the Gunslinger that give us more days for the shoot will likely prompt us to replace a couple of scenes we’d cut to trim the running time and the budget. We’ve also come up with a way to return those scenes and still keep the crisp pace of the film. This film is turning into a more ambitious project than first thought. The changes are exciting, and as soon as I’m free to speak about them, I’ll dish.

The Script for Luv U 4 Ever is largely in Jon’s hands now. We’ve worked out the character arcs. He asks me a question now and then about the timeline, but he’s in his scene blocking while writing more and I really can’t help much with that. We have made a wish list of songs from the 70s. There really sticky issue will be how much the licensing will cost. Full budget film in no way means big budget film. My composing friends are submitting tunes for Billy Swain and Dave Martin’s band. That’s been fun to review.

Meanwhile, I have my own issues to deal with aside from the conference calls with Ralph and the three guys with the same name. We had an audition this week for Rik Heron of Blood Oath. We have a high profile Casting director for Luv U 4 Ever doing the first contacts with potential cast, but I still prefer casting actors myself. Aside from experiencing such things as Travis Willingham (I have no good reason for the photo. I just wanted to see it again)flirting with Jon who was reading the leading lady role (rather convincingly) or conversely, watching Jon play Shadow Smith to Jennifer’s KD when she auditioned (he was equally conniving there, too). Hey, he was flirting with Matty as while running lines with him before the blood oath audition. I beginning to think that my director is a tramp. That aside, it is always fascinating to see the spin that actors put on words I’ve written. This was a particularly interesting set of auditions, because we usually don’t have someone we’ve cast to read against an auditioning actor. Since each reading was different, Matty responded accordingly. We saw three different versions of Vincent from him and all of them were valid. We found our Rik Heron. I can’t say who he is, because he hasn’t been signed. However, I will say that he’s as dark and gorgeous and intense as the character I wrote. This will be quite a trailer. I’ve also found a good stunt coordinator who still makes time for smaller projects. The interplay between Matty and our choice for Rik reminded Jon and I strongly of interactions between Obiwan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Yep, dorky minds think alike. The characters in that film had a playful chemistry while projecting an aura of deadly confidence. I liked that in that pair, but what made them really appealing is the often hapless nature of the way they executed their missions. This was an inspiration I desperately needed. Believe it or not, despite the 500 pages of material I have between the Soldiers novels, I was really finding it difficult to pick a scene that encompassed the nature of the characters and the challenges they face. I now have a handle on the scene and, in fact, wrote a third of it last night. All of this Blood Oath stuff has my mind wandering to the next Soldiers book. I am keeping that firmly on the back burner now. One more project and I think my head will explode.

Now, For the Rants
Warning: spoilers for CSI: Miami

As I expected, there wasn’t much to the cannibal episode two weeks ago. Admittedly, killing someone by chomping a chunk of jugular is unusual, but it wasn’t like the man in question was routinely dining on his neighbors. To top it off, he was dead before the first commercial break. Thus, there was not the constant menacing threat implied in the commercials. But that wasn’t what makes me rant about this episode. Our Horatio Caine has a new nemesis – the Russian Mob. It seems that the cannibal incident was part of a large nefarious scheme to extort yacht owners out of ownership of their very expensive slips in an exclusive marina. To what end, I’m not sure. Aside from this being a highly unlikely interest of the Russian mob, rich people do not react to such extortion in the ways others might. They tend to call the authorities. The Philly mob had notions of extorting Willard Rouse 3rd to cash in on the huge developments he was building in Philly. The phone call Rouse made resulted in convictions of a Mafia Don and a Philadelphia City Councilman. Even if the couple in question didn’t call the authorities, the owners of the exclusive marina would call after slip after slip was bought by someone they hadn’t approved. They barely let people who can afford it into those places. It was silly. And so is the new, teenaged coroner. I find it insulting that the producers seemed to think that if she’s attractive and black, she’s a good replacement for an actor the caliber of Khandi Alexander.
I had more to rant about, but it’s escaped me completely. I am off to do some warm weather cooking and get back to the script.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pitches, Film Updates and Geekiness

Warning: If you find yourself here via a google search for such things as TV shows or films, recipes or cities, this blog has some facts. However, this blog is one author’s very twisted musing on many weird things. It is sometimes graphic in content. If you read on, don’t write to yell at me.

Where to start? So much has been happening. I’ve been off those pain meds for days and I’m still hearing and seeing strange things. Since Jon is seeing and hearing them as well, I must face the fact that they are happening.

The Philadelphia Phillies are somehow in the World Series. There was some puzzlement amongst my Dodger fan friends as to why we weren’t more excited. The reasons are simple, my friends. That would be the 1993 World Series. For those of you familiar with this rant, you may skip this section. I know it’s been a long time, but for us, game 6 never ended. Mitch Williams didn’t really walk the winning run. We’re stuck there for now. The '93 series had been so much fun – particularly the playoffs against Atlanta. Our team looked like the Gashouse Gorillas from Bugs Bunny while Atlanta was all class. Meanwhile, Phiily fans were wonderfully awful in their behavior. My favorites were Lenny Dykstra who liked to rip his t-shirt off and snarl, Hulk style at reporters and John Kruk and his mullet. Kruk also delighted us by appearing on Aqua Teen Hunger Force as himself. At any rate, only the Phillies winning a World Series will change that and bring back the excitement. Still, we are quietly riveted and hoping that the Red Sox or the Rays are so beat up and tired that there won’t be much fight left.

I won’t even mention the weirdness we saw on our way to a photo shoot yesterday. Not that it isn’t really interesting weirdness, but it involves a motorcycle gang with enough net savvy to have a wikipedia page updated to the beginning of this month. Suffice it to say that I have never seen so many Culver City police cars at one time (frankly, I didn’t know they had that many police cars), and I wonder how much in the way of ATF, and LAPD we didn’t see.

Here’s the Pitch

It has been commented that we are very calm before pitch meetings or funding meetings. That’s not true. I managed to get only one hour sleep the night before our most recent meeting, and that was while I was still on the painkillers. I was one wound up micro-mogul. We don’t appear to sweat these meetings because we’ve given up on anticipating the outcome. They never go in any way that we expect them too, so it’s easier to just try to relax and make sure we have all the information that may be asked for. As pitch meetings go, it was typical. In the car ride home, the question ‘What Just Happened’ came up as it always does. Like always, we weren’t sure. Incidentally, though I’m sure it’s a fine film, there is no way that Jon and I would ever see ‘What Just Happened.’ It looks like a howlingly funny film, but too much of it rings true. Our experiences are challenging enough on this level. I don’t want to ever face that it’s more of the same running in the A-list.

Anyway, the pitch was at the execs’ 20s era Bel Air Mansion. Inronically, it was a five minute drive from the Archive. Very conveniently located. The house was owned by a meat magnet then a big TV actress before the TV execs. It had lovely Art Decco accents and a kidney shaped pool in the back. All-in-all, I was much more impressed with Bel Air than I ever have been with Beverly Hills. Even in the Hills of Beverly the houses were too close together. When I worked for Fabio (I told you, don’t ask), his music was a problem for the neighbors. I can’t imagine paying that kind of money for a house and still being plagued by annoyances we’ve had in tiny apartments. At any rate, the house was a distraction. My mind kept wandering from budgets and guilds to observations that I’d seen the livingroom in a really explicit scene from a recent DVD rental. I also recognized other rooms from the same film. I wondered how they fit 700 people on the grounds (vast as they were) for a premier party and where did they all go to the bathroom? Somehow, we’re discussing developing one of the projects we pitched. Then, we were on our way. I’m fairly certain it was a successful meeting. The devil will be in the details.

Film Updates Redux

The Gunslinger had some action this week. We had some conference calls about a number of things including plans to pick a shoot date. Ideally, it would be a couple of weeks after we wrap the LA portion of the Luv U 4 Ever shoot. We’ve also found more resources to up the production values on screen. That little film has a lot of attention because of the interest that the trailer generated. Those numbers helped a lot in attracting said attention. For those who haven’t seen it, click here. As for Luv U 4 Ever, aside from the re-write, we are almost at a point where we can finalize the cast.

Flexibility and the Sock

Every time I spend an afternoon talking about socks in sex scenes, it means I’ve been hanging out with actors. For the uninitiated, when there is an explicit love scene on film or TV, the man is usually wearing a sock on his er...equipment. I have been unable to ascertain if it is an actual sock (for people that will strip in front of me without blinking an eye, I’ve found actors surprisingly tight lipped about sock details) or some sort of sock-like tube. Anyway, the discussion as about the contortions actors have to endure to be in frame without the sock showing in the frame. And one must be in character and sexy while twisting in ways not intended by nature. We were shooting some reference photos of Matty Ferraro for Blood Oath’s opening title sequence (that’s the pitch we’re going to develop right now). I’ve come up with a face for Vincent based on Matty’s, but I needed to get action poses of him for the full image of the character. I also had to work out a movement Vincent would make before using his skills. Since Matty knows Tai Chi, we went with that and I really liked what I saw. Today, will be spent working on storyboards for the opening sequence.

Star Wars: Clone Wars – Baby’s Got Back
Warning – Geek speak and HUGE spoilers to follow

The last episode of Star Wars Clone Wars was something to get excited about. It was the first appearance of Padmé Amidala. I actually liked her character design (she has an amazing amount of booty for an animated character) and I really liked her attitude. She was as dangerous and daring as her film counterpart and lots of fun to watch. The Episode, Destroy Malevolence, had far better pacing for me than the first three episodes. And the action sequences with Obi-wan Kenobi (great voice performance and a wonderful smirk on the character’s face) and Anakin Skywalker were fresh and exciting. I was delighted at how Obi-wan used the shilded droids against General Grievous’ own squad. Then, there was how Anakin creatively protected Padme using the force while fighting some huge droids. He kept in mind that she was one tough chick even while being gallant. They were all Jedi moves seen dozens of times, but they had a new twist that made them refreshing. The episode was funnier than the ones before. One chase scene reminded me very vividly of a Ratchet and Clank sequence. They were even smashing crates, and I swear there were bolts in them. It was hilarious. Mind you, I have complaints (Why would General Grievous’ violation of direct orders continue to be tolerated? Why would you name your flagship Malevolence when you’re trying to get support for your separatist movement?), but they are minor compared to the fun I had watching the episode. Another note about the character design, I read somewhere that they were inspired by The Supermarionation series, Thunderbirds. I could see that in this last epsidoe. There was a scene in which Anakin and Padme are in an elevator and they looked just like Scott Tracy and Lady Penelope. When I say, geek speak, my friends, I’m talking advanced Geek speak, baby. Jon really liked Thunderbirds Youtube link, but I was more of a Captain Scarlet gal. Where was I? Yes, I saw the resemblance and found it amusing. Overall, Destroy Malevolence was a heap of fun.

Snare of The Lair

Okay, I hooked. It’s not even the mystery behind the painting and the curse or the Vampires. That’s all great fun, but I really need to know what’s up with that plant. I really want it to say ‘Feed me, Seymour.’ Meanwhile, Ian continues to enthrall. I so want him to escape his fate and that hunter. The Vampires are gleefully enjoying their bloodlust. Ian (Matty Ferraro) is increasingly tormented by it. He is always compelling to watch. I can’t wait for the next installment.

Final Thought
I must acknowledge the passing of the great Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops and Voice of Audry II in Little Shop of Horrors. His voice filled my childhood. He’ll always be remembered.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Film Updates, Cannibals and Naked Rugby

Warning: If you find yourself here via a google search for such things as TV shows or films, recipes or cities, this blog has some facts. However, this blog is one author’s very twisted musing on many weird things. It is sometimes graphic in content. If you read on, don’t write to yell at me.

I hardly know where to begin this week. There is so much happening personally, professionally and creatively, it’s hard to prioritize. Why not start as I often have with the weather. I’m not sure if it’s Hurricane Norbert (huh?) or what, but yesterday I was actually cold on the way home from the weekend errands. Cold as in goose pimples and shivering in the afternoon sun. The temperature dropped almost 30 degrees from Thursday to Friday, and it’s been very windy – tree felling windy. It’s typically windy this time of year, but the Santa Anas are hot winds from the desert. This was cold air from the ocean. It was refreshing, mind you. And it was nice sleeping without fans and with blankets. It was just surprising. I’m seldom cold in LA.

I’m on major drugs today for my back. It was a necessary step to get me to sleep through the night and further the healing process. I’m a bit disappointed though. My dreams aren’t any stranger than they are normally nor are my hallucinations. And I still can’t sleep through the loud and enthusiastic choir soloist who takes the microphone each and every blessed Sunday promptly at 10 am in the church across the parking lot from our bedroom. Bless her and that snare drum. I’ll never oversleep on a Sunday, nosiree. I may drift onto wild tangents. That is, I may drift onto wilder tangents, but I don’t think so. My back is feeling better though.

Sign of the Season
No, I don’t mean the Christmas decorations that are already up at my local Costco or the Freddy Kruger scary stuffed people lurking near the laundry room. Seeing them at 12 midnight while tired was almost very exciting for our sleeping neighbors. I mean the appearance of the Dieux De Stade calendar and making of video. My dear ami in France sent me a link which I enjoyed thoroughly. Those lovely men always find just the right place for that rugby ball and they still remind me of Greek statues. I have been without that calendar for far too long. This year, I’m making sure it once again adorns my work space. It provides inspiration. Though I grumble about the ever earlier Christmas displays, Jon and I have already begun the early cookie prep. The list (even with yearly culling) has become ponderously long. And we’ve added to our variety of treats. Jon’s compiling a spread sheet of recipes and ingredients, so we can take advantage of sales and get in all the necessary supplies. Last year we did 2 gross of cookies and dozens of mini-fruit cakes (and they are quite good) and baklava. The organization must begin early.

Film Biz, Silver Linings and the Re-write
The current financial craziness has had some effect on our current film’s development. Mainly, it has distracted our funding source and slowed the process down considerably. In the short run, that means that Jon and I remain at the Archive until the film is fully under way, and it means the pace of the re-write is not likely to change anytime soon. However, we find a huge silver lining in everything slowing down. The release date will be pushed from spring to the fall. Thus, the main part of the shoot – the Jersey scenes – will be pushed back to the spring. We are more than a little relieved about that. There is a lot that needs to be done in LA prior to the Jersey shoot (the opening of Billy Swain’s hit 70s show in the amusement park, a video of Dave Martin’s band on the 3rd Street Promenade – hopefully next to the Psychic Cat, and at least two 70s style video’s of Billy and his band). Then there is the opening scene in the Bel Air Mansion when the IRS kicks Billy out, and there are highway scenes that have to shot in the desert as Billy makes his way across country. Every one of those locations is more than one day and quite complicated. I didn’t know how we were going to squeeze them into the initial schedule and have them look like anything resembling good. We were very worried about that part of the shoot and more worried about shooting the rest during the dead of winter in New Jersey. The weather is really unpredictable and that can eat up a budget and the contingency. I’d prefer a slower pace even if it means working the day job longer. This also means that my Thanksgiving will be here. Plans for the Christmas holidays are still in flux. We’d still like to go back to Paris. The nice people who rent apartments there moved our reservation from Oct to Dec. I’d really love to spend the holiday there.

All that said, the re-write is progressing nicely. I received a good comment about how difficult it is to re-imagine a story once it has been written. That is very true. It isn’t easy to re-write a completed work. Time helps. Six years changes perspectives to be sure. We didn’t change the events of the script as much as we’re giving depth to the motivation behind the characters actions and sharpening the focus of the story. I’m hoping that the lines are as funny to other people as they are to us. We won’t know for sure until it’s finished. We crack ourselves up, but that may not be true for anyone else. Comedy is really hard.

When It Rains
When a casting breakdown is run for a show, all sorts of attention is paid to the production company. We get no end of composer resumes and reels. There are tons of stunt resumes and other key crew resumes filling all of our mailboxes. And we hear from people we’ve approached about funding for older projects. It’s that old situation where if you have money for one show, you get offered money for other things. It’s always harder to get money when you don’t have it. If that makes sense, please explain it to me. At any rate, in addition to Luv U 4 Ever and The Gunslinger and the cable TV pitches, we’ve been contacted about two other films we’d been trying to mount for a few years. I have to push aside my annoyance (oh, now this show is worthy of attention, eh) in favor of the notion of working back to back shows for a couple of years. We’re also getting a lot of practice at writing business plans. Our attorney said there will be even more interest in our older work once we start filming. It’s really scary how often making it in this industry is all or nothing. That’s why we seldom think about it in those terms.

Fine Young Cannibals
Warning Spoiler for CSI: Miami
Well, there was no spontaneuous human combustion two weeks ago on CSI:Miami, and last week's episode was sort of blah. But this week, it seems that at least one cannibal is staking our brave lab techs in the everglades. Or there had better be one. I was promised werewolves and zombies on other occasions only to be disappointed.

Food Stuffs

I’d been asked why I’m not talking about cooking much anymore. The blog has been too full of late. I really want to talk about the CBC’s The National news broadcast, but I haven’t had the time. I’ll get to that eventually. Back to food. I have been cooking up a storm amidst all this stress. I’ve been expanding my repertoire to include more Mediterranean foods and more and more home-made items that I used to order from take out menus. I have some new Food Network chefs that I really enjoy. There is Anne Burell who growls at her food and says things like ‘meat good.’ I like that. She’s also taught me a lot of new professional short cuts in a short span of time. There is Alexandra Guarnaschelli who solved my problem of getting my pizza dough crispy without a wood fired oven or a pizza stone (pan fry that sucker fist in a cast iron pan, top the slightly fried dough then put it in the over – yummy). Then there is Aaron McCargo, Jr., winner of The Next Food Network Star. He hails from Camden, NJ (yeah!) and sometimes cooks with Velveeta, but he has some mad skills otherwise. His method for an 18 minute chicken parmesan was the best I’ve ever done. I think it is even better than my cousin’s and hers was my favorite. I’m also very happy about the return of Ina Garten and Giada de Laurentiis. These are two of my favorite chefs and they never fail to inspire me. I look forward to their new shows. Jon looks forward to them as well. Aside from the yummy meals, nothing keeps me calmer than my time with the cutting board and the stove. In fact, it’s calling me now.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Tranya, Puka Shells and Bizzarro Production Meetings

Warning: If you find yourself here via a google search for such things as TV shows or films, recipes or cities, this blog has some facts. However, this blog is one author’s very twisted musing on many weird things. It is sometimes graphic in content. If you read on, don’t write to yell at me.

I will reiterate the warning above for those on search engines. If you read further, do not send me any irritating e-mail. You have been duly cautioned – twice.

That said, this will be a wandering and incongruous blog. There may be some whining. There will definitely be musings on extremely geeky topics. It’s been quite a week with some momentous occasions to be marked. Right now, I’m ignoring the sudden appearance of the Eagles/Redskins game. Fox switched games in the 4th quarter because the Seahwaks were being badly battered by the NY Giants. Thus, I am both wide awake and cold sober when the Eagles appeared and immediately did something silly. Forgive me if my mind wanders more than the norm.

Elvis, Tranya and Studio 54

Ten years ago this past Friday, Jon and I got married at the surprisingly tasteful Graceland Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. Since we were at such an establishment, we went with the full Elvis wedding package. We weren’t married by an Elvis, that would have been really weird and I think our parents would have keeled over (as it was, we had been very surprised that they went along with any of it). The minister was very nice and it was a sweet ceremony. Jon had an under-aged Gabriel Koerner as his best man, and I had a male and female maid of honor (I really commend my southern born, ex-Marine, ex- cop father for not saying a word about that). And after Elvis finished serenading and gyrating, we gorged ourselves at the Hilton Hotel’s sumptuous buffet, then took a ride on Star Trek: The Experience, in our wedding clothes (I warned you of the geeky). But that wasn’t the weird part. There, at Quark’s Bar, the Borders posse in attendance, Jon’s folks, our set guru, Randy and the wedding party enjoyed amny a glass of Tranya and other Trek themed alcoholic beverages. My father and his lovely wife sensibly bailed at the first mention of Klingons. Speaking of Klingons, we naturally made a great target for these costumed actors. We were serenaded frequently in an alien language and given a lot of odd advice for the wedding night. Some of us downed more Tranya than others, it seemed. By the time we reached Studio 54 to enjoy some dancing, one of our Borders crew, a man we thought was straight, went tonsil diving on a most unsuspecting Phil. Fortunately for all concerned, Craig had left by then. He really wasn’t keen on seeing live Klingons either. Where was I? Oh, yes, while we were dancing and watching well-built, scantily clad men and women undulating on chains above us, Phil and our heretofore straight co-worker were involved in this very torrid encounter. And though Phil was a gentleman in the end and did not succumb to temptation, that night reverberated through our bookstore for months. Happy memories for almost all of us.

Jon and I had planned on celebrating this milestone in France. But the upcoming shoot altered those plans drastically. Thus, I’ve been moping and occasionally whining. It certainly didn’t help that one of Samantha Brown’s new shows featured a trip to Paris on The Travel Channel that spotlighted some fabulous looking neighborhoods we’ve yet to see. I was most whiny this week, indeed. However, this film is a big break for us, and we have a lot of work that we have to be here in L.A. to accomplish. Our backers and our partners would not have reacted well to the sudden disappearance. And ultimately, I’m not in the best of shape for such a trip. I’m too tired physically to do all the walking that we’d typically do. I think we’ll need a vacation before we can think of taking a vacation. We celebrated the anniversary more quietly than we’d thought we would, but it was still fun. I whipped up a meal we used to have a lot while we dated, and we watched the newly released DVD of Speed Racer, the movie (yes, we’re geeks, I thought that was clear). Then, we got back to work on the script. Still, a fun time was had by all.

Re-writes, Pinching Pennies, and Collectible Panties

The re-write of Luv U 4 Ever is chugging along nicely. It’s an even funnier and edgier script than the original. Everyone professes to be happy with the progress. The recent financial craziness has everyone on edge, but we’re proceeding. We should have our cast named by sometime next week (I’m very excited about who’s on board so far. They’ve been a blast to work with before, and we’re pleased they want to work with us again). The only downer is that the unique needs of this pre-production (songs must be written, stage performances must be re-created with a digitally de-aged singer, opening credits for a non existent show must be shot) will likely have us working in east coast winter weather. It can’t be helped, but that will put pressure on our budget if we have cost over-runs caused by delays. Thus, we are looking at creative ways to save money with product placement and donated props (guitars, gold records, etc). Our line producer thinks we’ll be able to attract sponsors easily, because the film is a nice family movie (who’d would have thought that from the pair of us). Meanwhile, we have to give specs on re-creating the insane array of memorabilia that pop stars of the 70s generated around them. There are the t-shirts, lunch boxes and magazine covers. And, of course, puka shell necklaces have to be found (though that seems easy). I swear that I had panties with some of my favorite pop stars on them, but I’m finding no evidence of that. What a strange thing to imagine. We realized that we’ll have to shoot some videos of both Billy Swain’s Band (no name there yet, but Electric Cumquat keeps coming up) and Dave Martin’s Band (currently called Redacted), because each band will be seen on youtube-lie clips played on camera during various scenes. Jon’s always wanted to shoot music videos, so it’s been fun for him to block them. And I’ve been enjoying pouring over youtube.com guilt-free. The only draw-back to the research (aside from realizing how old I am) is that many of those songs get stuck in one’s head. This week, it’s been Taking Care of Business by Bachman Turner Overdrive and Radar Love by Golden Earring. I’ll spare readers the same fate by not putting up the link.

Notable Quotes from Actual Meetings

Things I have said or have been said to me. If you’re a close reader, you’ll know who they are or who they are about.

‘The last staff meeting was about creating a digital dog penis.’

‘Even if I wanted him to have plumber’s crack on screen, I’m not buying him a
merkin for his ass.’

‘This season’s episodes are all about Matty’s bottom.’

‘How do you tell a guy he has to lose the man-boobs?’

‘Acting is only part of the issue. I really have to want to see him naked.’

‘But why would we need a 40 pound rabbit?’

‘It’s a band that dresses like clowns while covering Marilyn Manson songs.’

‘He’s been a
Carny. That’s a perfect reference for location work in New Jersey.’

Advanced Geekiness or Star Wars: Clone Wars

The reviews for Star Wars: Clone Wars have not been very kind. Most take the stance that it’s George Lucas’ way of milking the very last drop of blood from his franchise. I don’t think that’s entirely fair. Plot and character-wise, there is a huge gap between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith that are worth coverage of some kind. I was very curious about Anakin and Obi-wan’s relationship during that span of time, and I was very curious about the interactions with the Clone army – particularly between Commander Cody and Obi-wan. The first two episodes aired this week on Cartoon Network had some wonderful interplay between the clones and the Jedi. And it was way cool to see just how dangerous Yoda could be in a battle against a whole druid army (Episode #1: Ambush). However, I could also see where critics lost patience with the series. The pace is leaden. Clearly, there is not enough script to fill the time allotted for an episode. It was really maddening in the second episode, Rising Malevolence. It was all I could do to not fast forward the DVR to the end just to have it done with. And I have to agree with Jon about the look of the show. I really liked Genndy Tartakovsky’s work on shows such as Saurai Jack, but we really didn’t like the character design in the cartoon version of Clone Wars. It’s clear that the 3D computer models for the 2008 version are based on his work. They look even uglier in 3D. How can you have an ugly Anakin Skywalker, for Pete’s sake? And while I’m far from the animation geek that Jon is, even I noticed that the walk cycles of the characters was lumbering and unnatural. That’s a terrible thing for a graceful warrior and incomprehensible for a Lucsfilms production. I fully understand why the series was panned by critics. However, it does have some compelling relationships that I have been curious about. It’s likely that very geeky me and even more geeky Jon will continue viewing and complaining.