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, August 31, 2008

On Glamour and Ranting

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 Glamorous Life

This week has been strange and exhausting. We’re at that point in development where we have to do a lot more work on the film, but we’re not in a position to leave our day jobs. This happened in the weeks before Demon Under Glass started production. A commitment for funding doesn’t mean that we’ll have the funds in hand immediately. For Demon it was about a three-week lag between the green light and quitting my day job. I was working an overnight shift then. I had to have meetings in the morning and do some logistical work before I could go to bed. That was not a happy time. It’s not quite that bad this time, but it still means a day that doesn’t end until 4 o’clock in the morning.

Thankfully, we’re mainly working on the re-write of the script. I’m also working on the initial shooting schedule, because I’m the only one who knows what new scenes are being added and who is in them. Otherwise, the 1st AD would be doing it. I do have some logistics to do. I know the central coast and North Jersey fairly well, so I’m working on where our base will be hotel-wise and the fact sheet for the incoming cast and crew (where to shop for almost anything, where the good restaurants are, neighborhoods to avoid, etc). We have a production company partner in New Jersey handling the locations and most production support. They’re very good. We’ll have several choices of locations to look at when we fly out to scout. And they’re all into music. But they’re all guys. It takes a girl brain to ferret out where to find feminine necessities at three am when we’re wrapped for the night. And guys also think that any hotel with a number in the name will suffice to come home to after a 12-hour day. That’s fine for an 18 day shoot – just barely. We’ll be there for six weeks shooting. Jon and I will be there for a couple of weeks before that. For that amount of time with those hours, everyone will need accommodations that have some space to spread out and a small kitchen, at the very least. Thus, I’ve been working on that bit of logistics.

Jon wryly observed that we were in a constant state of fatigue and noted that yep, feels like a shoot’s about to begin.

There-write has been fun for me to watch. Jon is at that point where the characters have found voices and are trying to do things on their own. Unfortunately, they’re either doing the things that he doesn’t want them to do or they’re doing the right things when he doesn’t want them to. I told him not to fight them. A piece of writing develops it’s own internal logic when it starts writing itself. It took some hours of frowning alternating with many rounds of web sudoku, he started re-arranging the scenes to fit where the characters were taking him. There’s been a lot less frowning and muttering since then. The new script is shaping up nicely. It’s been fun collaborating with Jon again. And it’s great to work on something that is primarily light-hearted. Everyone else involved would like to see it completed like, two weeks ago, but that isn’t likely while we’re still working full time. We were compelled to chrash out a detailed treatment for the actors we’re negotiating with in its stead. That was the cause of one of the 4am nights. It turned out well, but that next day’s work was brutal. During such mind-numbing fatigue and physical pain, I am reminded of a producer friend, Melissa Balin, who was the casting assistant on Demon Under Glass said while working with us. We were engaged in something extremely tedious like rippring open thousands of manilla enevelopes containing head shots when she said “Motion Pictures, dahling, isn’t it all fabulous?” I am very exciting about the prospect, but the irony in her voice uttering that question still applies.

Fall Preview
Warning: possible spoilers for CSI: Miami, CSI, Law and Order, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Dexter and any other show I might decided to blither about.

Alas, the summer TV viewing season is almost over. There won’t be many more episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, The Closer or Eureka. This year, all three have performed beyond even my high expectations. For a travel show, No Reservations has morphed into an extraordinarily profound experience with other cultures and our own country. I thought the Beruit episode couldn’t be topped, but the Laos episode this season featured a visit to a family near the plain of jars whose patriarch had been crippled by ordinance left during the Vietnam War. They fed him graciously while humbly telling him of their suffering since the bombs fell on the country decades ago. It was profoundly moving, because it seemed that they just wanted an American to really hear their story. There was no anger only profound sadness and a need to be heard. Each show this season has been an amazing gem with widly divergent tones.

The Closer continues to amaze us with it’s range of the tragic and comedic while remaining unflinchingly real. They just did an episode that is a clichĂ© cop show theme – the brother of one of the valued detectives is murdered. They did every scene that you’d expect in such an episode, but how they were executed and performed turned that hackeneyed plot on it’s ear while nearly ripping my heart out. Kudos to Kevin Bacon (Philly boy) on his second spin at directing.

Eureka is a clever, charming show with really strong character work. It’s mostly funny, but it, too, has managed to break my heart this season. I’m pleased to see it’s getting a lot more than the usual run of episodes. While it’s not the wrenching experience that watching Galactica is, we really enjoy the show.

From the sublime, we go to the ridiculous. The Fall TV season is nigh and we are bombarded by commercials and billboards extolling the genius of the new and returning offerings. My particular favorite are the ads for Showtime’s line-up which includes the extraordinarily revolting phrase ‘Dexter, the serial killer everyone loves.’ I have had problems with the concept of this show from the outset. First off, serial killers just do not function this way. They have their own twisted little bent and that’s what they focus on. It’s why there is always a pattern to their crimes. Decades of research support this. Secondly, no matter what the potestations from Showtime and the show’s creators to the contrary, it is the nature of a TV viewer to idnetify and emphasize with a lead character. Inevitably, there would be viewers watching that are, de facto, rooting for Dexter to kill someone and fearing that he will be caught. This lates slogan proves that Sowtime has embraced the notion. Why this isn’t distrubing to critics (they love the show too) or media watchers is simply beyond my comprehension. But most of the rest of their current line-up is chocked full of reprehensible characters, why not cheer on a serial killer? Geesh!!!

It’s almost a relief to turn to my usual soapbox. Almost. I’m adding some unexpected rants to my usual tirade. It is with a heavy heart that we turn away from Law and Order. It’s been a very long run that we’ve enjoyed emmensly, but the show has jumped the shark. Jack McCoy has a nemisis. I barely tolerate a nemisis in shows like CSI: Miami. I won’t tolerate it in a show I’ve highly respected.I’m on the verge of giving up on Law and Order:Criminal Intent. Lead Detective Robert Goern has been through all things geared to give the actor a chance to ACT to the rafters. It’s been particularly annoying last season. The only repite we had were the Dect. Mike Logan episodes that often were twisted with dark cop humor. Alas, Chris Noth was written out of the series at the end of this season. We’ll wait to see what Jeff Goldblum brings to the show, but I think I’m done with it. I think I will be relieved to return to yelling at CSI: Miami and it’s hot new coronor. She’s only 25. I don’t think you can get your license at that age let alone have enough experience to be a coronor. But she’s cute. Geesh!!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Film Announcement, Log Flumes and Banana Splits

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 don’t like having so many days without Craig to talk to. The Archive was a bleaker place during his absence. There was a floppy-eared puppy for a few days though. The little fellow was so adorable that he made Jon think about getting a dog. We hope he’s there Monday as Craig with dogs is a lot of fun to watch. It’ll be good to have Craig back. He never fails to make me laugh, even when I’m highly stressed. And I am highly stressed.

Name that Film

The developing project that has been consuming Jon and I for about six weeks to the exclusion of everything else – including The Gunslinger – is called Luv U 4 Ever. The casting Breakdown went out this week. Our Casting Director wrote the following:

TAGLINE: A love triangle that comes full circle.

STORY LINE: A former teen pop idol, Billy Swain is driven from his home when the IRS seizes everything except his Corvette and a bag of fan mail. In it, he finds a touching letter from an old fan and decides to show up at her doorstep completely destitute. He finds a family going through their own issues, some with music, and in the midst of reconstructing their lives. This romantic comedy is about music, the price of fame and the consequences of life's choices.

I wrote the first draft of this script in 2002. It’s going through a lot of changes. Part of those changes were at the behest of David Cassidy who is our choice to play the pop idol, Billy Swain. My language about all of the actors involved will be tentative, because no contracts have been signed yet. We actually wouldn’t have sent out the Breakdown at all, but the funding source insisted that we start negotiating with the leads asap. We’re to shoot in late October through November. Yes, it looks like I’ll either be cooking Thanksgiving dinner at a Residence Inn or we may actually have to go to a restaurant. Why won’t we go to Philly while we are only 90 minutes away? We have family scattered all over the county there, and all of them would be hurt if we didn’t find a way to have food with them that day. So, I will avoid that stress and stay in New Jersey. But I’m digressing. Many people who’ve followed my work loved that script and the core of it remains. It’s just that we’ve become better writers since then. The new script will be sharper and more sophisticated while remaining quite funny and, hopefully, touching. Casting brings delightful surprises, but it also brings big balls of stress.

Bathroom Blues

No, there’s nothing wrong with the bathroom or my ability to use one. We have reached the stage in the pending film when I can’t seem to get to the bathroom because of incoming phone calls, e-mails and faxes. Thankfully, I’m not that deeply involved in the initial casting. Thus, I don’t have to field countless calls from agents and managers while the field is whittled down. Some of the roles are already filled with actors we’d cast when the project was first in development. I’ll make those announcements when contracts are signed. The film’s info will also go up on the Dragoncor website at that time. Still, there is a lot happening to keep me out of the bathroom. Jon said I was sighing heavily an hour after waking on Thursday. That was because the first time I answered the phone, I found myself on a conference call with the head of the New Jersey production company. We had a little fire to put out and we haven’t even set foot in the state for the film. My partner knows that I really loathe surprise conference calls, so I knew it was a necessity. Still, I was rattled all the rest of the day.

But then, there was Friday. We had a hard deadline to get in all of the paperwork for the funding. That included a commitment from a bonding company. We’d sent everything to get that weeks ago with no response from the man who issues the letter. He’s a nice man whose inbox is perpetually filled with equally urgent requests. We all understood this, but we had a hard deadline. I don’t like calling in favors from my big guns (really connected people are hard to find and you never want to wear out your welcome), but I had to in this instance. He made one phone call and in less than an hour, the fax arrived. We got everything in a mere 45 minutes before the close of business Friday. Most of my role in that was played while I was at work. I had a headache the rest of the shift. My partner had a migraine, and he never gets those.

Late Night Fun

Well, it was amusing to me, anyway. While we’re in this phase of development, I’m doing a lot of research into the cost and feasibility of some of the shots and sequences that Jon wants to do in the film. That way, when the key crew is hired, they have what they need to figure out how to execute the shots or how to execute alternatives if our suggestions are too expensive. One was whether or not we could use 2-D FX software to de-age our pop star to match his archival footage. That way he could perform songs now and the shots could be made to look like they were from the 70s. This FX was used on Patrick Stewart on the last X-Men movie and on John Goodman in Speed Racer and on Bruce Boxleitner and Jeff Bridges in Tron 2 (Tron 2???). Sound software exists to de-age voices younger as well. The question is, as always, how much does it cost? We’re still waiting to hear if the price of the shots will give the line producer a coronary.

That research was interesting, but not as much as finding elements to create a title sequence for the hit 70s show, The Billy Swain Show. We want an opening that’s a cross between The Monkees and The Banana Splits. Naturally, Mr. Stickler to Detail, Jon, wants to find a period correct amusement park either here or in New Jersey and preferably with a giant sliding board. Right. Strangely, I found one in relatively nearby Riverside, CA. It doesn’t have a giant slide, but it has a log flume that was also in the Banana Splits opening. We shoot several pages in California before moving to the Central Jersey coast for the rest. While researching the opening sequence, I spent a great deal of time on the evil and addictive Youtube. While looking at the opening for the Monkeeys, I saw links to Bobby Sherman (I think he’s now a Sheriff’s Deputy somewhere out here). Those links lead me to Here Come the Brides. I remembered that David Soul was on that show, but had forgotten about Sherman being there was well. I don’t remember Mark Lenard on there at all, and why did Bruce Lee ever guest star? Mind you, this is usually happening at 3am. The mind tends to wander. I got the answers we needed, but still don’t know what the cost will be. Meanwhile, I have all those extremely catching opening themes stuck in my brain. Jon has been asking me script questions at different points in time and all I have in my head is "Tra la la la la la la.' It's maddening. And that TV theme show site is as evil as Youtube.

The nights are late, because it’s been hard to sleep. This is our first full budget feature. None of us want to make a misstep. And there are still a lot of elements in the air. I know that in about three weeks we’ll be doing a lot of flying and that the script has to be finished. But there are no firmer dates than that. That drives me crazy. And we had to postpone our trip to Paris. It looks like our tenth anniversary will occur in the middle of pre-production while we’re crazed and tired. Still, it’s a very exciting prospect to be back on the East Coast for a while. I have plans to visit family and some often touted restaurants in Philly and NYC (Including Bourdain’s last haunt, Brasserie Les Halles) among many others. The hotel has a very nice kitchen, so I can still have my cooking therapy. As for the Paris trip, that apartment is available for Christmas. :)

Publishing Updates
Due to the insanity that will ensue during the next several months, Sybaritic Press is suspending submissions of prose until Spring, 2009. There are still a couple of things in the pipeline, but there will be nothing new on the prose side until then. I need to remove at least one hat.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Film Updates

As promised, the website for Dragoncor.com has been updated to include The concepts we just pitched. The direct link is concepts. Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Strange Lightning, Free Bread and Beware Ohio

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.

Thunder With No Storm

If there was a point in time that was emblematic of this week was Thursday night. We were almost home when the sky lit up in a huge display of lightning. It was odd, because there were very few clouds in the sky. The bright moon and stars were visible in between those amazing flashes. Jon thought that there might be a storm raging over the ocean. The thunder was heard long after the lighting flashed, so it seemed that the storm was a ways off. The wind had picked up and it carried an ocean breeze that was mixed with the smell of rain. That seemed likely though none of the dopplergangers we watch mentioned any chance of a storm on the coast. We high tailed it home as we had no rain gear (heeding the advice of said dopplergangers), and the storm sounded like a big one. The rain never came. The next day we learned that the area had experienced a phenomenon called Dry Lightning. There was thunder and lightning but no storm.

That sums the week handily. We can hear and feel and smell and even taste the storm coming, but it’s not here quite yet. We sent out our multi-show pitch to the cable channel, including the series based on the Soldier’s novels, Blood Oath. Jon will be putting up the new pitches on the Dragoncor Web page later today. Some of my long time readers will be pleasantly surprised to see what the other two projects are. I can’t reveal where they were pitched or to whom. Hopefully, I will be able to before long, because they’ve said yes. Finishing that was a huge relief, because it takes a lot off of our very full plates. The focus can now shift completely to the upcoming feature. If the casting call comes out this week as plans, I can give actual details about that one. What prevents me from dishing on this shoot the way I did with The Gunslinger is that there are two other companies in partnership with us on this. We’re not free to talk until the film has turned up in a public forum like a casting call or the trade papers and web sites.

Anticipating a big storm is exhilarating and scary. I actually like thunderstorms, especially when I’m near the ocean. Judging from the amount of thunder, this film will be a lulu of an experience. We’re working on the development as much as we can with our regular schedule. Today, I’ll work out a rough shooting schedule based on the anticipated start date. That is important because it determines the actors’ pay rate. And we need that before the casting call goes out. It’s an immensely dull task. All this prep is exciting as it makes the film more real in my mind, but living on the edge like this is draining physically and emotionally. Let’s have the storm already!

The Longest Day

Well, it’s not the longest day we’ve ever had out here or the most stressful. That title still belongs to the last day of the Demon Under Glass shoot. It’s been six years, and I still get angry about that day. This past Friday was mostly annoying, because it was unnecessarily long. We received an edict from the landlord that we pile everything in our place in such a fashion that there is three feet of space from the wall or inspection and eradication. And we had to be out of the apartment by 8 am. Now, that sort of schedule works for 99 per cent of this building as they are all gone by 7:30 am (our bedroom window is next to the driveway). Jon and I get home after midnight and aren’t usually awake until 10am. Had the procedure been scheduled for the weekend, as it was last year, we could have gone to the movies and went grocery shopping to while away the time. As it was, we had to find somewhere to hang out until we went to work. Our partner got the honor of us sprawling on his sofa for several hours. The day began well and we got our best treat in some while. We had breakfast at this amazing French cafĂ© near here. We hadn’t been there in months, but the owners remembered us. We had a delightful breakfast and bought sandwiches for lunch. The lovely owner gave us two free batards for being good customers. That somehow made the rest of the day bearable.

Hanging out with our partner was an interesting experience. He’s a talent manager by day, thus he spends a lot of time on the phone and PC. He can talk on a land line phone, a cell phone and IM simultaneously. We often didn’t know when he was actually talking to us. I don’t understand how he does that and still managed to work on the film’s cash flow projections. His pace made me dizzy. We actually did a quite bit of work on the film. After that interesting morning, we had a full day at the Archive, the long trudge home and an apartment piled high with all of our stuff to face. I am beyond tired today. However awful Friday was, the batards we simple delightful with a lift smear of butter.

Beware Ohio

If any of my readers encounter strange phenomena like seeing a live calf riding in the backseat of a convertible or a large, colorful Macaw on your lawn who greets you with ‘Hi Lucky’ or there are inordinate number of rare and unusual incidents with bears, I have the reason. Craig is in your state this week. He is there visiting the family of his lovely girlfriend. He’s in the north east part of the state and the phenomena tends to be localized to his proximity. If you should start to encounter any weirdness, flee the area or seek shelter.

I’ll put up an announcement when the web site additions go up.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Freaks, Fabio and Twists of 'Fate'

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.

This Blog is relatively short for reasons that will become apparent below. There is much brewing, so stay tuned.

Staycations vs World Travel

It’s been a beautiful week in LA, weather wise. It has been postcard perfect. Having a ‘staycation’ (geez, I hate made up news media buzz words) sounds like a wonderful idea. However, other countries have very strong currencies and think that the stretch of beach adjacent to our ‘hood is really keen. I was reminded that Venice Beach, CA is a world destination. I believe that the world went on vacation last week. Quite a few of them were on our bus home. Mostly, it was entertaining. I was particularly fond of the fellow who curtsied to our bus driver. The usually surly driver found it amusing as well. The only time we get annoyed is when they crowd the front of the bus for the relative safety of being near the driver. If they knew what we know about that cantankerous woman, they’d be sitting where we do – near the back door. The weekend commute was filled with wide-eyed visitors as well. I had to talk a group of slap-happy New Englanders out of walking from the edge of Culver City to Venice Beach. Everything looks close on a map, but almost nothing in LA is close to anything else. It wasn’t blazing hot out, but they’d be so wiped after that haul of a walk, they’d have nothing left to enjoy the Freak Show. Besides, there is a lot of entertainment to be had on the Culver City Bus number 1 on the weekend. That’s how the freaks get to the Freak Show. I enjoyed watching their horrified yet fascinated expressions before popping off for my errands. I admit that staying home during summer in LA has its advantages. I don’t know how many amazing, near naked men I saw jogging or cycling or skateboarding past. And they were all local lovelies.

Hitting a Wall

Last week wasn’t all fun and oogling. My schedule and deadlines finally put me down for a couple of days. I’m still really tired. As Always when I’m over taxed, I injured something. This time it’s the back and one knee. I spent Friday flat on my back with only enough brain power to ponder such things as how I found yet another Hawaii 5-0 that I’d never seen and why is that guy called The Green Hornet (there was a logical reason, turns out)? The Hawaii 5-0 episode was really bold. It had a upstanding citizen being blackmailed into killing someone to avoid being outted as a drag queen. Fortunately, we’ve fulfilled most of our current commitments. I get rid of a really big one today. I don’t plan to push as hard on the remaining tasks until we’ve got a shoot date. The idea of being carried about the set on a litter by oiled, muscular men really appeals to me, but it isn’t very practical. It’s best that I take care of myself a little better.

Writing Questions

I’ve had some interesting questions (and a bit of yelling) about the twist in ‘A Soldier’s Fate.’ I can’t speak about the specifics of the ending, but I can answer the question that came up most. No, I didn’t know that I would end the book the way I did at the time I started it. There were scenes that I had in my head from the time I finished ‘A Soldier’s Choice.’ Most of those ended up in the final version of the novel. I could see the whole border crossing sequence very clearly. I knew that I would have the work and personnel at the Foundation put a strain on their relationship. However, I also thought I spend more time in Bobby’s head. Rik and Vincent were having none of that. Staying with them and having to really develop the goings on at the Foundation was the better choice. That gave me the underpinnings for a third novel. I was also able to develop Rik and Vincent into something other than soldiers. While I wasn’t making the whole story up as I went along, I’ve learned that the fastest way for me to get writer’s block is trying to force characters to conform to a rigid outline. Of course, that does mean that some things have to be adjusted in the beginning of the story, but I believe in re-writes. That flexibility is essential in script writing as well. There is no such thing as a final draft script. Changes are made even after the last scenes are shot. Books aren’t that fluid, but work is done on them even after galleys are generated. I got to evaluate a galley for Fabio when I worked for him (don’t ask). They weren’t willing to take my suggestions. Granted, they involved lighter fluid and a bonfire, but I still think it was worth considering. Where was I? Oh, the other element of the book that I hadn’t planned and turned out to be my favorite thing to write, were the references to Rik’s and Vincent’s days in the squad and how those events were still impacting their present life.

The other questions were about more contests and giveaways for A Soldier’s Fate. I haven’t decided yet. I plan on some sort of giveaway. We’re working on a t-shirt through the very cool company that does our magnets and postcards. Right now, I can’t really think about anything but a nap. I’m off to take one. Then, I shall crack open Bourdain’s lovely and profane cookbook and give Cassoulet and onion soup a try.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

New Title! Demonspawn: On the Run

It's finally here in print and available on amazon.com. The latest and often erotic adventures of Simon Molinar, the centuries old vampire and his reluctant companion, Dr. Joe McKay can be found here:


Find the links for the print and e-book versions.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

Quakes, Jerks and Yelling at Bourdain

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.

This is an odd blog, full of rantings at people I usually adore. The rants are justified and the admiration has not changed, so no snarky e-mails. One of my local weather dopplergangers has taken to doing a video blog, or vlog as he likes to keep reminding viewers. Jon asked if I would ever do one of those. He was being facetious. On Sundays, I make no efforts toward my appearance until very late in the day. I’m usually very, very tired and facing a long day of prep for the week. Did I mention that I’m very tired? It’s not a pretty picture. Best not to inflict it on the unsuspecting.

Not a Lot of Shaking Going On

LA had an earthquake this week. It was officially a 5.4. That’s a little stronger than mild, but nowhere near the Northridge quake in 1994. Not even remotely close. Still, the quake on July 29th could technically be called the biggest quake LA has had in years. However, just running that headline can cause problems for people on the east coast who aren’t given the perspective behind the headline – which was in bold type on the CNN headline ticker. And then when said relative, my nephew in this case, calls and the lines are jammed (with other relatives calling all at once) a freak out ensued. Jon and I were just finishing breakfast. The shaking was definitely noticeable and it lasted long enough for Jon to get queasy in the office chair. I had been wondering if the side to side swaying would shift to the more violent up and down tremor (that’s when you have to consider exiting the building) when it faded to a stop. It wasn’t strong enough to collapse our crappy bookshelves. So, I went back to packing lunch and Jon went back to working on a book cover. However, I had him send a mass e-mail to head off the worried relatives and friends.

And they were worried. My nephew got through an hour after he started calling. He was very upset and had called around to my father and brother to find out if they knew anything. After repeated assurances that CNN had jumped the gun a bit, I got him to call everyone back to let them know Jon and I were on our way to work as usual. Later that night, we saw a repeat of CNN’s coverage on Anderson Cooper’s 360. It was really scary and exciting and not remotely what had happened. I think they had to scour the county for some rubble and they didn’t find much. It was appalling. So appalling that an LA Times columnist, Joel Stein, had to an editorial that summed it up very nicely for me. Click on his name for the full and very amusing article, but here are my two favorite paragraphs:

Even the usually responsible Associated Press reported in its first paragraph that the quake "sent people running into the streets." Really? Running into the streets? Like in a "Godzilla" movie? How about "sent people walking onto the sidewalks so they could take a break from their jobs and talk about the earthquake, and then get coffee before going back inside to check some news websites until it was time to go home."


And please, CNN, next time there's an earthquake or a fire, give my family members who watch your network all day a little context. I just need Wolf Blitzer to say, "Although this is a very exciting development we'll be following closely for the next 48 hours, no one in L.A. is dead, injured or at all interested." Then maybe I can limit their news-related calls to how little my house is worth now.

Still, we really appreciated the concern from our wonderful relatives and friends. You should know (this means you, mom-in-law) that Jon and I actually have a earthquake plan. Despite the nonchalance of Angelinos, most do. We have an escape route to an open location that is free of structures and powerlines that is steps from our door. Coindicentally, it’s the same spot we have to flee to in escaping a tsunami. Aditionally, there is a police station, a large school, a community center and two churches within steps to get info and help. We have all the stuff in the survival manual that comes with everyone’s white pages. And finally, our building was being retro-fitted for earthquakes when we were moving in It even has the fancy, automatic gas valve shut-off to prevent fire. We’re all good. I even called my actor friends. They are all fine if a little derisive of all the coverage.

Hey Ant-ny!

I am now going to yell at Anthony Bourdain. Of course, I’m shocked that I feel compelled to, but it must be done. The Travel Channel often runs mini-marathons of its popular shows. That was how I actually began watching No Reservations. There were a punch running this week as part of their pre-Olympic China coverage. I taped those and an earleir episode that I didn’t remember seeing. It was his trip to LA. Two minutes into the show I’m annoyed, then infuriated. After lauding the ‘real Angelinos’ for toiling in jobs that have nothing to do with Show Biz, he hooks up with a writer he professes to admire, Jerry Stahl. He says that Stahl is a Hollywood writer but not really Hollywood. Excuse me? He writes for Bruckheimer’s number one show. CSI is as Hollywood as you get. Mind you, he wrote some of my favorite episodes of CSI and introduced my favorite character, classy Dominatrix Lady Heather) He also wrote for ALF, thirtysomething and Moonlighting. He has never not been Hollywood. I really, really can’t stand Jerry Stahl.

The one argument Craig and I ever had was over this man’s self-serving, sniveling autho-biography, Permanent Mindnight in which he basically blames his heroine addiction on the soul-killing environment of television writing. Soul killing? Is there a heretofore unknown slavery ring that forces unwilling writers to take five figure per week salaries at point of gun or threat of bullwhip? At the time I read that book, Craig and I were working for just above minimum wage retail jobs in the Entitlement Zone. Three quarters of the staff were drinking on the job or using other substances to keep from strangling customers. I couldn’t understand anyone admiring this man’s whining at not getting to follow his real passion. I know a lot of working Hollywood writers that find a way to publish or perform their poetry or make experimental films just to make them. They can afford to! Then, they made a movie about Stahl’s suffering soul. Thankfully, that version of Permanent Midnight was ignored in droves. Of late, he’s been charging aspiring writers $150 a half hour to get his advice on-line. A writer I know paid for it before talking to me. She was dismayed and very angry to have wasted that much money only to have him talk about his drug abusing days with wistful nostalgia and then deride the industry that he was supposedly helping her to join.

Stahl’s pick of a food joint for Anthony Bourdain was Roscoe’s, a chicken and waffle joint near Paramount Studios. Though Bourdain liked the atmosphere and the clientele, he wasn’t impressed with the chicken and waffles. Jon and I hadn’t been either. Incidentally, we’ve yet to find a soul food restaurant here that didn’t make us shrug in indifference. We’ve been to many like Aunt Kizzy’s Back Proch, which is literally in the nighborhood and Baby Blues which made it onto Food Network’s Diner’s Drive-Ins and Dives, but I find that the sides like collard greens or mac and cheese are too spicy or busy (too many extra ingredients). But back to Mr. Bourdain’s taste in Hollywood types. Hey Ant-ny, wake up. Recovery from addiction does not necessarily make a person stop being a self-absorbed jerk – just a clean self-abosorbed jerk. You re-connected with an old friend later in that same ep who deserved being admired for his recovery. And while I’m yelling at you. Not everyone drives in LA. That public transit you dismissed is jammed every day. And there are noble souls who toil in the industry and who live outside of East LA.

I still admire Mr. Bourdain and will continue watching No Reservations (I watched three more after the LA show that day). Sometimes you have to swat Jersey boys in the back of the head. I often do with Craig, but that's mainly for putting songs like The Night Chicago Died or Patches in my head.

I’m off to work on myriad writing projects. We have onther title going live on amazon.com this week. I’ve had some really good questions about writing pitches and some other things. I have to think about how to intelligently reply. As always, stay tuned.