Welcome Gentle Readers

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

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gifts, Football and other Randomness

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

Random Tidbits

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

The Gift of Giving

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

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

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

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Holiday Hats and Good Cheer

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

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

Not A Creature Was Stirring

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

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

Glad Tidings

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

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

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

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Stay Tuned

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

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holes and Wusses and Literary Mayhem

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

Technical Difficulties

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

Weather Wusses

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

Literary Vein Opening

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

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

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

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

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

Short Blog Delay

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

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Blahs, Updates and Troublesome Trailers

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

Blah, Blah, Blah

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

Not for Prime Time

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

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

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

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

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

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