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, 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.