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, March 30, 2008

Glamorous Life, Food Frenzy and Killing Culture

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.

Someone on my Producer Yahoo list was looking for a trained walrus. I’m glad I’m not in that project. Thus far, no one has come up with such an animal. That’s odd for that list. For us, it’s the end of one of those quiet weeks. Jon was been working on the trailer footage using some program that corrects color timing and erases boom mikes (it has a function for eliminating boom mikes, go figure). We’re waiting for Vic to give us an ETA on the sound mix. My partner Ralph and I are doing logistical things for bringing a shoot to an area that doesn’t have them often. This is really glamorous stuff like calculating whether or not we’ll need a water tanker truck for the trailers (we will because we also have to make rain; will we need a gas tanker to run the trailers and the very important question: how many port-a-potties are needed for the crew and extras and how often they’re emptied. There are formulas for that calculation that you just don’t want to know about. That’s show-biz, dah-lings. Oh, yes, I have to make sure there are plungers. I’ve needed them on two of the three shoots. Guess who gets to be the plung-ee? Don’t feel sorry for me though, I get to see those cute boys shirtless and sometimes even less dressed than that (as shoots wear on, actors get really comfortable and they don’t bother with robes). It’s a fair trade off. What was I talking about? Oh, yes. There’s not much happening this week. I’m saving the most provocative pics for the release of the trailer. Stay tuned.

Food Frenzy

We were mercifully free from the day job an extra day last week. Thus, I had some time to work on more recipes. Making more veal stock was thwarted by the elusiveness of the requisite bones. They were nowhere to be found. However, I tried some spreads I’d long wanted to try as replacements for cream cheese or mayonnaise in some cases. Thus I made a roasted eggplant spread that’s sort of like Baba ghanouj and a green olive Tapenade. My lovely French friends sent me a jar once, and I tried to spread it on everything. Jon had been getting nervous. I finally worked up the courage to make one on my own. It tasted great. And for the cream cheese substitute, I made a Chevre (goat cheese) and roasted red bell pepper spread. There’s a chocolate mousse I’d like to try later today. I’ve made them a few times, but never quite to my satisfaction. I’m ready to give it another whirl.

Speaking of food, I’d been seeing a lot of news stories on the squeeze that Food Banks are trying to get through (not enough donations and sharply increased demand). I found out from one of the food shows I watch that Barilla Pasta was offering to donate one dollar to Second Harvest Food Bank for every Celebrity cookbook downloaded. The cookbook is by Mario Batali and a number of big actors and is free to download. The campaign has raised over 100k so far. Go to Barilla Helps. This campaign ends on the 31st.

Make It Stop!

CSI: Miami is back in all of its goofy glory. But the beginning of the show brought up a subject that has been bothering me for some time – the pervasive hip-hopization of pop culture. The opening was a wedding montage that ended with the lovely bride being shot in the head. All through this montage, some hip-hop music was blaring making the participants appear even more white than they already were. The music just didn’t fit. It really doesn’t fit over the montages of lab activity. I’ll get back to that shortly. This episode essentially was about the attempted murder of a blackmailing stripper. The bride moved after the shot was fired and hit her instead. The idiocy this week was that the killer used and gun mounted to an arm attached to the underside of a Rolls Royce and triggered by a cell phone. I’m not sure how he aimed the thing (that’s probably why he whacked the Bride instead). For Pete’s sake, she was a stripper, not a ninja. Bash her in the head in the parking lot. Next weeks double episodes involve a murder suspect getting Horatio Cain extradited to face charges in Brazil. Didn’t know a regular citizen had that power even while a murder suspect. Meanwhile, our favorite gun girl, Calleigh gets kidnapped by a stalker. TV police can’t help but get kidnapped now and then. We saw an original episode of Burke’s Law that featured the kidnapping of a seasoned detective. Over 40 years and nothing changes. Sigh.

Back to the infection of hip hop. It’s gone on for too long and it has spread too far. I’m not going to get into the content issues. The poverty and anger that is said to have spawned the music has long given way to marketing. And this marketing seems to be aimed at making the performers and their fans look ridiculous. Now, I came of age in the 70s, so I know from what looks ridiculous. I’m seeing well to do young men – UCLA students --who’ve only seen the hood in films and on TV wearing the saggy look and trying to represent outside of their well-appointed frat houses. I won’t even talk about the dancing or attempted dancing by these wanna-be gangstas. It’s ridiculous and it’s spreading to other cultures. During our last visit to France, we were appalled not only to find a lot of French rap (native and imported) on their music shows but also to find wanna-bees on Paris Streets. My favorite was a quartet of teens trying to be big and bad, nodding their heads to the bass beat blasting from a vehicle not much bigger than a smart car. When they nodded at me, I gave them the universal look from a Black American woman for oh-pul-eez. In researching this for the blog, I found even more to cause me chagrin. One of the biggest music stars in France is a rapper named Booba. He seems to have a website called DaddyThePimp.com (oh dear) and a big hit called Pit Bull. I’m not sure why it was set in Moscow or where they found all of those people of color to be extras, and I understood all the French. This must stop before more cultures are harmed!

Aaron McGruder has made a fine start by pointing out just how ridiculous this has become. Our favorite is an episode of The Boondocks on a character called Thugnificent. there is a wonderful excerpt from Youtube on his rise from poverty.

I’m off my soapbox and back to inputting A Soldier’s Fate.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

All Things Sublime and Updates

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.

To all of those who celebrate this day, Happy Easter! As it is a holiday long celebrated my family, I’m engaged in many of the rituals I grew up with. So, I’m cooking up a storm and, of course, there is movie watching involved. But before I get to the food and the wallowing in pop culture, I must chat about an extraordinary book I just read.

Subversive and Sublime

A few weeks ago, I mentioned Sarah Freligh’s new book. Well, I read it this week and was completely blown away. Though it is a collection of poetry, it reads like a novel. Here’s the review I submitted to Amazon.com:

Sarah Freligh’s poetry collection, Sort of Gone is as subversive as it is sublime. To say it takes such American icons as Baseball and the 50s American family and turns them on their ear is understatement. She explodes them, and the shrapnel tears the reader apart. It is worth the ordeal to experience the complex lives of these fascinating characters. To Al Stepansky, baseball is salvation. It is an escape both figurative and literally from his sad and abusive household. Playing baseball gives him lofty goals to pursue, then the fame he thought he craved and toward the end of life, his only moments of true happiness. The poetics of baseball is not sort often seen on film and heard from orgasmic sportscasters. Baseball for Al and his father is order in a world that is often cruel and crushing. It is a connection between a parent and child in a fractured relationship. Sarah makes the reader understand how fans and players can lose themselves in the intricacies and rhythm of the game. Even if the reader has never watched a baseball game, the importance of the sport to its fans is easy to see and understand. Sarah accomplishes this with sparest use of words. Her economy and fluidity in driving her love of the game and her keen insight into family, sex, aspiration and disappointment home would be the envy of Al Steapnsky and perhaps to Mickey Mantle himself.

Do click on the highlighted title and buy one!

The Sublimely Bitchy

Jon and I are working on probably the most complicated script character-wise that we’ve ever done. [Yes, we are working on a script while prepping to shoot a film. It’s rare when we aren’t working on a new script] One of the key characters is a very beautiful woman who is a big personality and a big talent. However, she is vindictive and sometimes thoughtlessly cruel to the people she loves. It was a quandary as to how to demonstrate that she had qualities that would make people deeply care about her. So we rented the best bitchy film of all time, All About Eve to see how they handled the queen of all bitchiness, Margo Channing (Bette Davis). If you’ve never seen the film, it’s a must. The dialogue is razor sharp. The performances are complex. It’s an all around good time. And the viewing helped us figure out how this one character of ours should be written. Pulling that feat off is another matter.

The Sublimely Cheesy

Holidays for me are chances to connect with loved ones who aren’t in LA or who are gone forever. To that end, I indulge in the holiday rituals that I grew up with. Well, some of them. I don’t get my hair hot pressed and curled and put on thick leotards and my Sunday best. I like entertaining at home now, because I can wear pajamas. They look more lounging clothes, but they are pajamas. However, I do cook everything that we would always have during holidays. I even dyed Easter Eggs. We used a Spongebob dye kit (it was on sale), and I didn’t do many. And there is far too much candy in a place with only two people and no children coming by. All these things evoke very fond memories of holidays past.

Along with food and visits from our more interesting relatives, we would watch the epic holiday movies played on TV every year. There used to be a vast array of what I called holy movies, but now, there is only The Ten Commandments. When I was young, my brother and I just enjoyed it for the spectacle. My brother thought Yul Brenner’s Pharoh was really cool. He’d walk around for days after saying ‘So let it be written. So let it be done.’ As I got older, I realized that this was one wacky film. Everybody is chewing up the scenery. And then, there are all the really creepy characters like Vincent Price who, if he had one, would have been twirling his moustache in evil glee. Then there’s the inexplicable presence of Edward G. Robinson, who manages to be really creepy and incredible annoying. Why they didn’t leave him wandering in the desert alone, I’ll never know. John Derek wasn’t creepy in the film, but one can’t help thinking of how amazingly creepy he would be later in life. I don’t know when it dawned on me that Yul Brenner’s character was lusting after then married his own sister. But the film is delightfully wrapped in such tasty cheesiness, that it can’t help but be a fun time. Since we’ve lived in LA, Jon and I made sure to watch it with friends and comment all through it a la Mystery Science Theater 3000. A fun time is thus had by all. And I know my Mom would have approved.

The Gunslinger Trailer Update

Jon achieved picture lock last week. We then shipped all the files to the wonderfully talented Vic Mignogna to work on the sound and the music. Vic will be on screen in the feature version as Sheriff Mark Clayton. He seems very excited about pulling a gun on Shadow (Travis Willingham). I wonder if I should worry about that. We’re still on schedule for an April release of the trailer. The date for starting the feature is up in the air because of scheduling issues and a really huge logistical challenge, but we’ll know the where and when soon. Stay tuned.

A Soldier’s Fate

I am inputting diligently, and I’ve found a reliable proofreader. I’ll be shipping the book out in chunks to her as I input them. Thus, then when I finish the last of it, she’ll be close to completing the corrections. We’re still on schedule there. I feel almost organized!

It’s Back!

CSI: Miami is new tomorrow. I will, no doubt, be kvetching about it next week. I can’t wait!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Killer Boyfriends, Jigs and Beer

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.

Soldier’s Fate Excerpt

My apologies for taking such a long while to upload it. I had a very difficult time just choosing something that wouldn’t give any spoilers. Then, I had a harder time getting access to the PC when I wasn’t falling asleep. Jon was editing The Gunslinger Trailer from almost the moment I posted last week’s blog until last night. He’s still not finished, but he was far enough along to take a break. Enjoy! The full novel will be on schedule for next month.


I’ve received comments noting that I never revealed how the apple pie and other creations of two weeks ago turned out. Boy, am I ever distracted. The apple pie was amazing. The crust was flaky, and I’ve never had pieces that were that picture perfect. Jon ate two pieces as soon as it was ready. The whole pie was gone by Wednesday. I am heartened by the results and will definitely make another apple pie soon. I may also switch to home made pie crusts for the sweet potato pies I make during the big holidays. Yes, I was using store bought. It’s an acceptable time saver when making really big meals, but the result of the crust with the apple pie was so good, that I have to make my own when baking my signature dessert. I made passable veal stock and demi-glace, but I’d like to try it again. I don’t think I strained it enough. I tried the poulet roti (roast chicken) complete with herbed butter. That really turned out well. I’ll try out some of the big recipes toward the end of the month. I’ll pass along the result. I’ll even remember. I’ve been asked about a food blog. I won’t be doing that, but we will be putting up a web site for our families where I’ll have a lot of cooking antics with photos and such.

Holi-daze – March Madness Edition

There are two this month which is unusual. Easter is early this year. The first celebration up is for St. Patrick’s Day. Now, I’ve often had the question about me celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. The comment ‘funny, you don’t look Irish’ often comes up. I would go through the history of slave ownership and wealthy Irish in the US and point out the Irish last names on my mother’s side of the family along with a lot of fair skin and red hair to end the line of inquiry quickly and finally. There are a lot of Irishmen in our family tree. I once joked with a writer friend from there about looking up my ancestors. She said that the shenanigans by her countrymen in the colonies were well known and she doubted anyone would be surprised to find me on their doorstep.

Beyond lineage as a reason, I have another for celebrating St. Patrick. It’s my Mother’s Feast Day. Her name was Patricia, and she loved any reason for celebrating. Yes, Feast Day. Can’t you tell I’ve had twelve years of Catholic school? It should have been apparent. In addition to all that, I grew up in a predominately Irish neighborhood. I learned to do a real Irish jig in High school, for goodness sake. I also learned to square dance. Neither has come up in the decades since graduation. But I digress. The first Sunday dinner I ever made solo for my family was corned beef and cabbage. Thus, I am making one today. I also have Killian’s Red ale, because I can’t find the wonderful red ale I had in an Irish Pub in Paris. Yeah, that seemed odd to me, too. But it was a neat place. And it wasn’t nearly as odd as the gay Australian pub across the street. The only thing that will be missing, aside from Mom, is our favorite film to watch on St. Patrick’s Day, The Quiet Man. It’s one of my favorite films, actually.

I’ll save the Easter zaniness of past and hopefully present for next week. At that time, we will discuss and inexplicable favorite film, Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments. I know you can’t wait.

Romance and Jeopardy

Warning: Spoiler alert for the Bourne films and others.

Jon and I had a debate this week that caused me to look at a certain type of dramatic situation that occurs in romance novels or films with a romance theme. When you have a protagonist who is in a dangerous line of work or embroiled in a dangerous circumstance, how can they hope to keep a lover? The discussion was prompted by my obsession with the Bourne Films. In particular, Jon was arguing that Nicky Parsons, one of Bourne’s handlers who ends up on the run with him in the third film, wouldn’t be interested in Bourne as a lover because he scared the crap out of her in the second film. He was a little homicidal at the time. I disagreed. It was clear in the third film that they had a romantic past and that she was still attracted to him. There’s something about a good-looking, vulnerable but deadly man that really attracts the girls (no, I can’t explain it). However, I thought it was more likely that Bourne wouldn’t allow an affair with Nicky even if he weren’t still mourning Marie. He knows that involvement with him is likely to result in death. He would be extremely reluctant to risk it. I generally don’t write this sort of character. I like my couples to stay together and fight the outside world. That’s true for The Gift of Surrender and its sequel and for A Soldier’s Choice and its sequel. However, that kind of antagonist is in The Gunslinger. Shadow Smith is a killer. And even as he is falling for KD Delaney, he knows that he is putting her in grave danger. His past looms largely in their present and would definitely impact whatever future they can have. He is very sensitive to that. Shadow has a very difficult decision in front of him – stay and hope for the best, grabbing whatever happiness he can have or protect the woman he loves and leave. I won’t reveal anything, I promise. And yes, it looks like the Gunslinger will be a novel as well. I don’t need to sleep.

Conversations I’ve Had – Gunslinger Edition

I don’t think about things I say on the phone until I see the expressions on the faces of people surrounding me at the time. Even Jon has looked at me sideways when I’m on the phone. These are some of the questions and statements that came up in the weeks before we shot the Gunslinger trailer.

“Just how hairy are you?”

“All those buttons seemed liked a good idea at the time, but I don’t see how he can get them undone.”

“You really don’t need to shave that far down.”

“I forgot to ask about tattoos there.”

“The rain barrel will keep that out of view, I think.”

“We can pick up bullets on the say to subway.”

“If they don’t stop, we’ll just keep shooting.”

All of this was totally innocent, I assure you. Really. Here’s an uncorrected screen grab. There are more on the Hidden Passions Myspace page.

Not The Blog! 'A Soldier's Fate' Excerpt

The blog will follow in a couple of hours.

Warning, this contains homoerotic content. It is also un-betaed. Be warned. If you continue reading, do not yell at me.

It was very difficult to find an excerpt that didn't have major spoilers. This may be the last until after the book is published. Once again, it is Rik and Vincent's past that fuels everything they do.

As I hung up the phone, Vincent pressed me back on the sofa while taking the files and notes from me. His eyes were intent upon my face.

“No more phones or messages,” Vincent murmured. “No more anything save for this...”

The kiss was gentle and slow. It was our first time alone after one very long and scary day. He needed connection with me more than sex at that moment. I murmured my pleasure against his lips, pulling him close while hooking a leg around his to keep him close. My lover was unhurried for once, so I lost myself in that incredible kiss. One hand found its way to his hair the other rested on the small of his back. When Vincent pulled back, long moments later, he gently traced the scar along the right side of my face. His eyes were solemn and intent.

“Tell me how this happened,” he murmured. “Please.”

I swallowed hard at the question. A blush rose to my cheeks causing Vincent to frown.


“I...ah...I saw you disappear that day,” I began haltingly. “You were ten meters away when the portal closed. I shouted...but you were gone.”

“I heard you,” Vincent replied softly. “Thought I’d imagined it.”

“I’d never lost a soldier that way. It hurt so much that you were simply gone. Afterward, anger fueled everything for me,” I continued. “I pushed for an open inquiry into the generals responsible for opening the portals. The anger didn’t dissipate until the new Joint Command was in place.

“But after the anger was gone, the guilt seeped in to take its place. For over a year, I was drowning in it. Six months before you returned, there was a live fire exercise with out allies. I decided to take on some artillery nests that were attacking our side...”

Vincent looked at me sharply. “But that wouldn’t have taken you down unless...”

“Never, ever saw Remak that angry at me,” I replied. “She came on the field with Maximilian during the fighting to drag me to safety. Even Doc Auerbach yelled at me. I was still in the hospital when he approached me about the Foundation.”

“You idiot,” Vincent muttered, exasperated. He kissed me thoroughly. “Didn’t you know I would be back?”

“I knew it in my head,” I replied in a whisper. My voice was failing me. The memories of the pain were still very strong. “But my heart was sick with guilt and grief.”

He kissed me again – no doubt to quiet me. The kiss was hungrier. I moaned into his mouth and arched against his body.

“I can’t tell you how many times I came close to not making it back,” he murmured against my lips. “I was lonely and scared. I’d get careless sometimes just to try to end the constant pain. I couldn’t though with that though. I had to get back to everyone...especially to you. And that scar is damned sexy.”

The next kiss was demanding. I had my lover contained physically, but there was no way that I was in any control of that situation. Vincent made one move, gracefully combining his speed and strength to pull out of my grasp and pin me to the sofa. He shook his hair loose then set about stripping me. He managed to quickly remove my silk pajamas without tearing them despite the urgency I sensed in him.

“I always want to make love to you slowly,” Vincent said softly. His golden gaze roamed over my naked body while he slipped out of his pajamas. “I try to control myself. You know I have great control.”

He was caressing my torso then, absently running his elegant hands over my abdomen.

“Yes, you do,” I managed to reply before gasping. His hands were heading lower. “Deadly control.”

“Not with you, Rik,” he murmured. “You make those sounds with that deep, sexy voice...you purr and you growl and moan...and the way you say my name...”

“Vincent...,” I gasped as he ran his tongue along my collar bone.

His smile was pure evil. “Just like that, Blitz. When I hear that voice, I want to make you moan and gasp and growl. I want to make you lose it. I need to make you lose it for me.”

He was so intense, I almost moaned right then. “Do it, Love...I need you...”

Vincent kissed me then. It was a hot, hungry kiss that made me moan right away. I had control once, too. That vanished whenever Vincent touched me. I didn’t care. His hands and lips and tongue were soothing away the pain those memories from the last two years that were stirred up. Each kiss...each caress put that pain further in the past until all I could think about was how Vincent made me feel – loved and wanted and desperately needed. I yielded to his touch; surrendered to his need. Vincent turned me on my side, prepping me quickly while he tongued the curve of my shoulder. I relaxed for him as he pushed inside me.

“Vincent, Love...please...” I moaned, tilting my head back against his shoulder.

“You won’t have to wait.”

He moved while holding me close against his body. I was pinned and helpless against those powerful hips. I didn’t care. Vincent was moving in me. His breath was hot on my neck. His hand was working on my straining erection.

“Oh...god...Rik...” He gasped as I cried out his name.

Later, as we drifted toward sleep in bed, I held my lover and petted his hair. The livingroom was a mess again. Cleaning would have to wait. It had been too long a day.

“You’ll have more control as you get older,” I murmured. “You could take me over a couple of hours as your experience grows.”

“Maybe,” Vincent replied languidly. “Maybe I’ll always lose control over you. I always have.”

“Hmmm, yeah. You always did,” I chuckled. “But I prefer this way to the yelling and the throwing.”

He chuckled softly. “Me too.”

I yawned then. “Let’s get some sleep. Tomorrow has got to be easier than today.”
Vincent sighed, settling against me. “You always were an optimist.”

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Book and Film Updates and Rants

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’m more scatter-brained than normal. Daylight savings has me thrown off. Then, there was that last martini at The Gunslinger gathering. It was free, how could I refuse? I’m not hung over, but I got a late start and there were a lot of photos to process from last night. No, none are compromising. We were at a family restaurant. Drat! Pics are up on my Myspace page under pics.

Gunslinger Update
Aside from the raucous wrap-type gathering last night, there are a few to report. Jon is closed to finishing the refined cut of the trailer. After that, it goes to get the sound and music added. We look on track to debut in April. It will be on the Hidden Passions Myspace page. And I will be putting up links and lots of info when it’s up. Jon is pulling some yummy screen caps for me this afternoon. I’ll post them later today or late tonight. It depends on how well he responds to my nagging. We are certain enough of a green light for the feature version that we’re making plans for crewing up and beginning to figure out the logistics of the shoot. It’s starting to get very exciting.

I definitely have to finish my new book and publish the two that are waiting in the pipeline by mid-April, because we won’t be able to devote any time to Sybaritic Press stuff for months after that.

Pop Culture Rant
This week, the reviews for 10,000 BC received reviews that included words like dunder-headedness and craptitude. I love words like this. They aren’t used often enough. Alas, the film that critics eviscerated with such glee was the number one film at the box office this week. Doesn’t surprise me. CSI:Miami is purported to be the number one show in the world. Go figure. This brings me to the newest installment of What DO you like? I’ve run across some inspired lunacy that I’d like to pass along. Some of it is even family friendly. Jon found this website. It is Spongebob frivolity at it’s finest. Spongebob: The Movie is really a lot of fun. It has lines like ‘And I rode the Hasselhoff.’ You have to love that. Even my cynical pal Craig (of the one legged cricket) liked this film. Another pair of films we love is The Ladykillers, the Alec Guiness Version and the Tom Hanks Version though the 2004 version is a bit racier. And a trip through Youtube (always dangerous) and found my favorite clip from a wonderfully over the top musical, Gypsy. It’s the lead up and whole number for You’ve Gotta Get a Gimmick, and it’s absolutely wonderful. I love those broads. In fact, I used one of the characters, Mazeppa, from that scene as a slash pseudonym. By the way, the women in Gypsy, Gypsy Rose Lee and Dainty June were real people. Another, more fanciful film about them was Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?.

A Soldier’s Fate Excerpt
I couldn’t post it last week, and it looks doubtful this week. Jon is still editing The Gunslinger trailer. He should be finished his phase of things in the next few days. I can post it then. Meanwhile, the book is racing towards completion. I should make my date in April. And it’s looking more and more like there will be a live action trailer for the new book. I really like the actor I’ve found for Vincent. I really like his eyes. He’s pretty without the long blond hair. I’ll have to renew my search for a Rik. I’m really happy about the new book. It took some turns I wasn’t expecting. There is certainly a surprise at the end. More on that (no spoilers, promise)

Caption Contest

This time, there were almost a dozen responses. One I liked was 'MY what big confetti they throw here.’ I gave it extra kudos for being a quote from After the Thin Man, one of my favorite films. However, I think the best one for the illustration was:

'They say there's never a cop around when you need one! Why do you think I carry my own!'

Thanks for playing. I don’t have a new illustration this week. I’ve seen some good candidates, so perhaps I’ll have another contest next week.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Pie Birds, Skin Flicks, and Deaf Doggies

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.

The Pie Bird

The pie bird was the final clue. I’d never heard of them before two weeks ago. Then, it was in my kitchen along with a tart/quiche pan with the push out bottom. This cooking thing has moved beyond routine to something of a specialized hobby. When I informed Jon of this revelation, he gave me that very patient husband look one gets when the incredibly obvious has been stated. Arriving with the pie bird was Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook (scroll down to the Publisher's Weekly review). I ended up ordering that when I was searching for online recipes for the fish soup he had in Arcachon, France. While searching, I discovered he’s written a book on French cooking from Les Halles, the popular New York restaurant he worked in last. I knew Mr. Bourdain would provide a different spin on cookbokos, but I never expected to be yelled at in the introduction. In fact, there was lots of yelling and cursing. There was a full page diatribe before the actual recipe for Poulet Roti. I have many cookbooks. I even have French cookbooks given to me by my two lovely friends there (Bonjour Michele et Sylvette). But I’ve never had a cookbook call me a numbnuts. Needless to say, it is a hilarious book. I’ve never laughed so hard at a cookbook. And it is inspiring, if more than a little pushy. I spent Saturday making stocks from veal and beef bones, and I made another attempt at frites. The Wiki entry is French Fried Potatoes, but that does frites no justice at all. We never had less than an extraordinary experience with a plate of potatoes anywhere we went in France. I have yet to really capture that cricpy, crisp exterior and delicately tender interior. The pie bird went into an apple pie a al Alton Brown. It was an ordeal that we do not know for sure worked. I’ll let you know next week. I am happy to have attempted home made pie crust for the first time in decades. Tonight, I make the Poulet Roti and reduce my veal stock to a glace. Yep, I’m obsessed.

Love Scenes and Skin Flicks

The main reason for doing the trailer prior to the shoot was to assure skittish distributors of two things. The first was that the concept was interesting and in keeping with other films they’ve acquired. Two, that the film could pass broadcast Standard and Practices at any basic cable outlet. Though some outlets have aired programs like Bliss which is quite racy, a film like The Gunslinger cost more to acquire and needs to generate more ad revenue to make it profitable for the broadcaster. That means it can’t have anything that makes advertisers nervous. Thus, we chose the first intimate scene in the film for the trailer. It sums up the plot quickly and cleanly, demonstrates the chemistry between the lead characters, and has a very hot clench – all tastefully done. I also chose that scene because the trailer will be used to market the concept of Hidden Passion Films at its main audience – readers of historical romances. We will advertise the trailer on romance themed websites and internet groups, and give it away at the major convention for readers and writers: The Romantic Times Booklover’s Convention in April. Thus, the trailer has to have what those readers want, a great looking, compelling hero and heroine, incendiary chemistry (no chaste kisses at the end of the story here) and a good plot (yes, they want that, too). This was what we needed to capture in one long day in a very tiny space. We were lucky to have great-looking, compelling leads who have a natural chemistry and great command of dialogue. Once the choreography of movement of plates and cups and the book were finalized, that scene went well. There were pauses for lighting issues and sound issues, but the scene itself was easy to film. The first time Travis and Jennifer actually went through the clench on the kitchen table, I forgot to turn on my camera. I was just frozen there gaping at the proceedings, toes curled. Jon asked me if that was what I was after. Witnesses claim that I made a coherent reply. To me, it sounded like babbling. I was overjoyed at how good our KD and Matt looked together. Travis has an amazing control over that deep, sexy voice (little wonder he’s in so much demand as a voice actor). He purrs and growls at different spots in the scene, depending on whether or not Matt was hearing something he liked or didn’t. (Jon confirmed this, so I’m not imagining that). The sound of that vice jolts right down the spine. At certain points, it was clear that Matt was barely restraining the urge to tear off KD’s clothes and carry her off or not carry her off. That kitchen table seemed to suit him. And KD was perfectly torn between the intense attraction and curiosity and fear of consequences.

Now, typically, I am sick to death of my own dialogue and any given scene by the time Jon has been editing for a week. How many times can you see something before it gets to be too much. Surprisingly, I haven’t had that problem. I always seem to look across the room when something really interesting is going on. Last week, I always looked over when there was this lovely expanse of chest and abs rippling with water on screen. Yesterday, I kept looking up when Shadow was hoisting KD on that kitchen table. Nope, not tired of it yet. And I'm holding those photos for a while. We have to build an audience, after all.

The Sound and the Hoby

One of the sound issues was the ranch’s old herding dog, Hoby. He is a very old fellow who is deaf and blind in one eye. He’s a great dog, mind you, but he was a problem during the love scene. We were filming in his sleeping area. As it got dark and cold, he wanted in. Well, we let him in and had to let him out. First, there was the snoring. Though that is a tradition on our sets. Poor Randy usually succumbed after a 56 hour day somewhere on our sets and fell asleep. During The Privateers, it was in President Lascar’s office. During Demon Under Glass, it was while playing a corpse in the operating theater. Upholding the tradition was great, but we didn’t have much time. When he wasn’t snoring, Hoby panted – loudly. Made the love scene sound like something from a porn shoot. Hoby had to go. He put up with being out for a little while before pounding on the door with his head. No very good for a love scene. Fortunately, we’d wrapped the fried chicken. Ralph went outside to lure the poor thing away long enough to wrap the shoot. There were lots of dogs on the shoot. We brought three. Ralph and Marguerite’s pugs rode up with us and provided much entertainment to the horses. Then there was Jack Jack, an exuberant Corgi who loved everyone. All the dogs were great for the easy-going, fun environment at the shoot, but they can cause sound problems. Fortunately, the problems were fixable and made for great stories.

Crew Guys

Before I go on and on, I must take some time to compliment Ryan and Matty, our camera man and sound man respectively. They traveled far, worked hard for many hours and always had a pleasant demeanor. They were creative on the fly even at the end of that very long day. The end result of their labors is looking good. We can’t compliment them enough. I know we all look forward to having them work on the behind the scenes video for the feature.

Captions and TV Rants
I have the captions contest winners for another week. I also have new TV rants and recs on my favorites in inspired insanity, but no more time.

A Soldier’s Fate Excerpt
There will be on later tonight or tomorrow. The novel is coming along very well despite interruptions to look at a certain glistening chest and abs.