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!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Los Angeles - Elbow Room, Film Updates and Dangerous Minds

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 now have a dateline on the blog. That's because it's being fed to some networking sites from now on. Welcome all!

The musings below may appear to have a lot of whining going on. I'm not really unhappy. This week has had some really positive things happen. It's just been longer and stranger than usual. And the weather has been weird. It was 99 degrees at the Archive on Monday. By Wednesday the temperature had dropped more than 20 degrees. And my allergies are back to a level I hadn't experienced since leaving Philly 15 years ago. Thus, I'm a bit cranky, but not unhappy at all. Though as I take a break from cooking to write this, I realize that stoves and allergy meds may not mix. I just burned the op of my foot while making chili. And no, I don’t know how I pulled that off. I am backing away from the stove now.

A Room of One’s Own

I am starting this blog on a Thursday from my own PC! Jon and I share our toys very nicely. However, for the last two years, we've been on the same schedule. The last time that happened, I had a laptop. But we tried to make do. Most of the time he's working on stuff that has to get done for either Dragoncor or for Sybaritic Press. Since I tend to write my first drafts in longhand, we thought we could make using one machine work. Well, once you toss in having to do business plans for the films at the same time Jon needs to do stuff things got difficult. I realized that doing all the work I needed to do for the Blood Oath network pitch (scripts, character breakdowns and schedules) would be impossible without a second machine. We also needed a lot of hard drive space for all the editing on Jon's plate. So we combined my basic needs with his graphic needs (film making graphic needs, not those other kinds) and found something properly affordable for our modest means. It's not the newest bit of technology, but it's got speed and a lot of space. And I can write while sitting on my beloved sofa! I've decided that all office chairs, no matter how ergometric, do not agree with my singular shape. I need to be cushioned, dang it.

Since writing the above paragraph, Jon and I have been involved in a comedy of errors (Why do they call such sequences comedies. They don't seem remotely funny at the time.) trying to get the most important piece for the machine working. First, the unit we ordered didn't come with the device (though it was advertised as one of the features). No worries, we'll pick one up at Best Buy where we'd seen the item at a great price. Best Buy has been boon or bust for us. It was the place that had the best price on our floor model air conditioner I so adore. However, there are many times when I've wanted to run screaming from the place while pulling my hair out. Friday was one of those trips. We'd already been frustrated by the lack of service during our initial search for a new PC (we ended up buying it online). This time, we found the additional internal card was three times the price we expected, and despite assurances to the contrary, didn't fit our PC. We managed to get it exchanged, but the camera we need to do the files dump from doesn't have the appropriate cable. It has a gazillion cables, none of them are the right one. Poor Jon has to set off once again. When does this film thang get glamorous? And I still don't see the funny.

Month of Fun 09

I count the new PC as the beginning of the Moth of Fun to celebrate my years on the planet. I will be 49 on May 11th (ACK). That kind of birthday requires a whole lot of pampering. My hubs started off the month last Saturday by buying me two bottles of Vampire Merlot at a small grocery store near my Doctor's office. This tiny supermarket was the first market we shopped at in Los Angeles as it was just a few blocks from the motel we stayed in after we landed. The neighborhood is a groovy mix of the well-heeled Santa Monicans (did you know that the term Monican in Aeon Flux was derived from Santa Monica), aging hippies and Hispanic families. Thus, the tiny supermarket that is a few doors down from a Panaderia Bakery, has an amazingly deep selection of wines and champagnes. I had been trying to find Vampire Merlot since having it in San Francisco in 1998. I had planned to save it for the actual month of May, but I used some to make a sauce on Sunday. I believe that uncorking wine is like unsheathing a Samurai sword. Once opened, it must be consumed. What happened to the other bottle? Tuesday. I never really liked Tuesdays. And this past one had Jon and I carrying the PC from our local UPS store in the blazing heat. No, I'm not saying that red wine is good for heat exhaustion, but it was what I needed. As for the rest of the month? I have many fun things planned, including things I've never done before. It will not be extravagant, but it will be lots of fun.

Taking the Reins

We haven't had a lot of control over what happens with our film projects once we send off the plans and materials. However, we've got a bit of control over Demon Under Glass once again. We got our license back for the US/North America distributor about a month ago. We waited until the master was actually returned before initiating anything. It's here and we're pitching it to cable outlets for a run. We've had our first nibble from just the email with our website info and the great Fangoria articles and review. It's being hand delivered on Friday. We'll have no control over it after that, but it's good to get a strong response right off the bat. And we have others on the list. The film got some very positive response from the horror community, and we've always thought it should have had a wider release (especially when you consider all the crying that went on during the production and post). We plan to rectify that.

Since writing the above paragraph, we have approached the first network. They responded well to our promo materials and requested a copy of the DVD. Given how amazingly busy this acquisitions exec is, wanting to spend valuable time on our film is a promising sign.

Film Updates

When there is a lot happening from the people we've been negotiating with, I get a little panicked. Not that I mind the thought of doing a full budget film (au contraire), but it's the whole thing about travel and me. I really like to know where I'm going well enough in advance to prepare to go there. And I’m talking weeks. There are lists to write and re-write and re-re-write. I have a system! Jon sagely points out that the travel anxiety is a manifestation of the uncertainty as to which of the three disparate films we’re supposed to be getting our heads into until we’re actually making the film. Yeah, yeah. Very logical. All I know is that we’ll get a phone call late one night informing us that we should have been on the way to the airport an hour earlier. But I can’t worry about that until the call comes. I am very happy to report that negotiations on funding for the three films are underway once more. After the long lull, everyone wants to work quickly and get them underway. I look forward to running around like a crazed lunatic and kvetching to all of you about it.

And now that we have the equipment in place and working (keeping fingers firmly crossed), I hope to have images from the Blood Oath shoot and audio this weekend.

Right now, the apartment is filled with the smell of roasting garlic. That makes me thing of Vincent and helps me with writing him and Rik. I’m a very peculiar writer. I almost never write while listening to music. I If I’m listening to anything at all, it’s an old TV show like Dragnet hulu.com. Even the TV version sounds like a radio program. Sometimes I’ll listen to Hawaii Five-O, which has turned up in full episodes on CBS.com. I’ve seen those episodes so many times, I don’t have to actually watch them. Why TV over music? I grew up in a noisy house that almost always had the TV on. It just works for me. I’m distracted from the keyboard by the editing Jon is doing across the room. As when he was editing The Gunslinger, I tend to look over when there’s a lovely, male torso filling the screen. Unfortunately, none of them have been bare. Still, they are lovely enough to distract me.

A Dangerous Mind

I found the post-it note to the right on my workstation on Friday. I can share this one because it doesn't lapse into violent obscenities. However, it is dangerous nonetheless. The note reads:

Worst Pitch:
“I, Madame” The Waylon Flowers story. Flowers, a noted, gay ventriloquist and game show fixture is revealed to be a deep, undercover international assassin. He is aided by his diminutive lover who pretends to be a mannequin of an old woman. David Spade and Vern Troyer attached.

This little note brightened my day, but such musings from Craig are really dangerous, because he has made similar statements around the wrong ears. There are many ears connection to film production in LA almost everywhere we frequent. There were a lot at the Borders we worked at. Many major production companies have offices in Santa Monica. In fact, these companies had corporate accounts at our branch. The personnel from these companies were always listening to conversations around the store. When Craig would goof on pitches like that, the result was very bad cinema. Craig casually mentions that Dwayne Johnson would make a great Buford Pusser for the new generation, and voila we have Walking Tall. He has a long talk with someone he thought was just interested in a good Science Fiction novel, and we end up with Kevin Costner’s The Postman. No offense to those who may have like these films, but to me, oy! I admit to being at fault in this as well. A few months after I had a long talk with my supervisor at Borders about Josie and the Pussycats, a former screenwriter, I heard that a feature version of Josie and the Pussycats the Movie had been greenlit. That had been the topic of that chat. My supervisor wasn't involved, but he was fairly sure that a corporate client who was hanging around the info desk was. The film sucked and tanked. Now, I won't get to make the version I wanted to see. As for Craig, I know he'll be goofing on I, Madame this weekend in ear-shot of the three writers who work near his apartment. The result will likely give critics a big headache.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Soldier's Choice is a Bestseller Again!

I'm not sure if it's the acitivity around Blood Oath or my own modest efforts in networking, but A Soldier's Choice is number 2 on the gay erotica bestseller's list on amazon.com.

Updates, Lit Crit, and Twisted Humor

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.

In addition to doing a lot more writing lately, I’ve been reading this week as well. This may prove to be a more literary blog than my norm. Worry not, I haven’t gone completely legit, as you’ll see below.

Rays of Warmth

We don’t have anything like a spring fall in LA. Nothing gets that close to freezing. However, this past winter into early spring, it has been colder than the norm. We’ve been leaving our house in the morning in 40 degree temps for weeks. Not that I’m anxious to see the blazing heat that will get here inevitably, but I’m tired of carrying all those layers home at the end of the day when the temperature is close to normal. Mid-week got really weird when LA was having really strong, cold winds. We’re used to the hot Santa Anas, but there are apparently cold ones as well. Friday broke the cycle. It was still cool in the morning, but not as cool. And the day itself was a beautiful, vintage LA, spring day. That meant that there was a shirts vs skins game at the Frat house near the Archive and that the young, well-toned athletes were jogging nearly naked. The vibrant colors and floral scents were delightful as well. I was a happy camper. Not even the bomb scare re-routing our commute fazed me. We scooted out of work a little early and made it home on time. The weekend promised to be lovely as well despite an appointment for the annual physical and the Costco march of doom of Saturday.

Lit Crit On My Terms

In general, I loathe Literary Criticism. I had been leery of it in high school and undergraduate school, but I came to despise most of it in college. I won’t go into the reasons here. Thinking about it in any depth brings back a great deal of anger and resentment that I’m not willing to dredge up right now. Suffice it to say, that those who know me well would be quite shock to know that I had actually purchased a book of lit crit this week. But all is not what it seems. I processed the book for the archive this week, and as we do while at our trusty scribes, I got to read a few paragraphs here and there and was intrigued. You see, it was a book about homosexuality in literature through the 20th century. It even had a section on women who write erotic fiction about gay men – at least one woman, Anna Rheinsberg (I found very littel about her on the net, unfortuantely). The book was from the early 80s. I had never seen any papers on female writers and homoerotica that wasn’t a study on slash fiction. Furthermore, it had a story that purported to be gay themed by Earnest Hemmingway. Given what I knew his attitudes were on such a subject, I was really interested in reading the story and the theory on why he wrote it. The book was well worth the purchase, particularly for the Hemingway story, A Simple Enquiry, from the 1927 collection Men Without Women. The story and the commentary gave me a bit more insight into Hemingway and furthered my research for the script quite a bit. As for the female writer, that section was insightful. I don’t need any validation for my writing, particularly from literary critics. However, it was quite interesting to note that my interest in homoerotica is not unique and does have some understandable underpinnings. I even talked lit crit with one of my talented friends though that was mainly about Hemingway and Fitzgerald. It was intellectual and titillating – just the way I roll. Geesh.

Updates Fun with Flashbacks

I have finished those pesky flashbacks in the Blood Oath pilot and can now begin inputing the final pages of the first draft. Jon and I believe we have a solution to the equipment issue that had delayed post on the Blood Oath pilot presentation and his work on the web series, 15%. At least, we think he have. We’ll know for sure on Tuesday.

So, what’s with all the flashbacks in Blood Oath? There isn’t any internal monologue in film (unless it’s a narrator, and I really don’t like using them throughout a whole film). And I need to show the reasons characters react the way they do in the present by showing a scene from the past. For instance, Vincent reacts strongly to Rik when he gets to Rik’s home, because he has never seen the man in anything other than his uniform. I needed a scene in which everyone else in the squad is in civies except for Rik. The scene draws a pine point on the fact that Rik has a house outside of base that he rarely visits. It also covers the growing interest in Vincent among certain squad members and other ranking officers and that there are groupies for Altereds among both sexes. Vincent is oblivious to all of this. The scene also gives a baseline for Rik and Vincent’s body language before they become lovers. This is important, because some members of the squad and the brass notice that this body language has changed in the wake of Vincent coming to live with Rik. Basically, the audience has to be aware of the situation before to notice the change in the situation after. This is important for the viewer, because there will be no dialogue about the changes between Rik and Vincent or Vincent’s reactions to Rik at home. It will all be in the reactions from the actors. And since I had a flashback in the base bistro, I have a scene in the present in the bistro just before Vincent’s return. There, Rik gets the first hints that the intrigue amongst the generals is far from over and he may still be in danger. Jon likes the flashback motif in this script enough to suggest we use it in the rest of the scripts. In A Solder’s Fate, the central theme is that their past is informing their present. We think the occasional flashback in the episodes for the series would be better than a lot of expositional dialogue. And the actors will enjoy doing two versions of the same characters.

We’ll be updating the website sometime this week with music and voice tracks from the pilot presentation. I’ll also be putting up some more stills from the footage. They may be up as early as this evening. I’ll post another note if that’s the case.

In other updates, SAG and the studios have a tentative deal. They are meeting today to determine whether or not it will go to a vote. Beyond that, the leveling out of the downturn has caused our funding sources to start calling again. There is a meeting today about one of the ongoing projects. I may have some substantial updates for next week. As things have slowed from most of my actors (it’s the end of the TV season right now), they are all anxious to get to work on one of the features. We’re really hoping to oblige them.

When Worlds Collide

No, it’s not another instance of my colleagues at the day job finding out about my fiction. This is far more entertaining. Last week’s Episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (or the Las Vegas one), A Space Oddity, was a brilliant collision of CSI, Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica (there even be Cylons in the episode). It was a hilarious, twisted episode that became one of my favorites the series has produced (and I have liked a number of them). Bascially, a producer who had just screened a re-imagining of a Sci-fi Show, Astro Quest (a very thinly veiled Star Trek) called Astro Quest Redux, is killed at a convention. Among the suspects are enraged fans of the original series that are insensed about the changes. ‘Questers’ Hodges and Wendy, two CSI lab rats, ultimately solve the case through knowledge only a die-hard fan would have. Along the way, Hodges has numerous fantasies about Wendy as various Astro Quest vixens. In Trek speak, the slave girl in the Gamesters of Triskelion, an Orion Slave girl, and Yeoman Rand. Throughout, the Astro Quest captain always appears with his uniform strategically ripped at the shoulder, and then there is the really big hair. Classic. Of course, this episode is really about the Battlestar Galactica redux and the vitriolic initial reaction of fans of the original series. Whether the brutally negative reaction continue through the length of the series or not or whether it rose to the level of threats of violence, I can’t say. I left the BSG forums shortly after the mini-series aired. I found the response of the fans of the original series tedious and annoying in short order. But, it’s clear from the appearance of Ron Moore in this episode that he enjoyed venting his spleen on the matter. I know I had a great time. Check it out online by clicking HERE.

I’m off to enjoy a beautiful Sunday. Though I doubt that I’m getting further than the kitchen and the PC.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter 2009!

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 ultra short for reasons related below.

I think I like holidays because I can indulge my cooking urges with wild abandon and no one thinks I’m strange. Like today (Saturday), I am making a huge feast for tomorrow. Aiding and abetting me were big, big sales at the supermarkets. I had a cart full of groceries and saved $54. Mind, I have no evidence that I’m having guests for dinner on Sunday (RSVP? What’s that?), and there are only two of us living here. But, we have a really great fridge and freezer, and I’m saved a ton of work during the week. Thus, guests or no guests, I’m having a grand time rattling my pots. Meanwhile, as I write this blog, I am listening to a French dubbed episode of CSI: Miami, courtesy of ma bonne ami there. Horatio Cain in French completely rocks. I think he should be speaking only French in the US version. The nearly bored aplomb suits him. It’s helps to have seen the ep a few times. I can actually follow it by just listening.

Flash Forward

My plans for Saturday were truncated by a number of things. The big one was my mercurial back. It was not in the mood for all the prep I had planned. Then I hit a wall with the Blood Oath pilot. I need an as yet unwritten scene before I get to the end. I am annoyingly close to the end of inputing this thing. It is Easter Sunday, and my plans have changed quite a bit. I’m still not sure who may show up, so I managed to get the rest of the food finished with Jon’s help. But I am sofa bound for the rest of the day. I’ll have a chance to write that missing scene. And I’ll be waited on hand and foot. That’s not a bad holiday after all.

I’ll have all sorts of updates on most of the projects next weekend. Meanwhile, Happy Easter! Enjoy my favorite film images from this holiday (though I know not why they are part of the Easter tradition.)

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Spring Musings, Easter Cooking and Writing Frenzy

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 will be a very short blog. I've got a lot of work to finish today.

It is Spring in Los Angeles. That means that there are lovely young men jogging about barely wearing clothes. And the weather is really nice, too. It’s been an odd Spring, weather wise. Usually, sometime after Valentine’s Day, things go from a little chilly to blazing hot. It’s been a lot cooler for a lot longer this year. I’m still wearing my full- length coat in the mornings (it’s been in the 40s f – 9c when we leave for work). It’s usually much warmer by the time we leave. Last, wear, I’d ditched the coat before the beginning of March. Still, the young don’t mind a little chill. It’s spring, so they must shed their layers. I certainly don’t mind. The flowers are blooming beautifully. LA blooms in very strong colors which I prefer to pastels. And despite the havoc all of this flora is reeking upon my sinuses, I’m enjoying the scents.

Cooking Frenzy

Meanwhile, the next big holiday, Easter, looms. My plans for making stocks were thwarted this weekend. Silly me thought that chain supermarkets would carry the same kinds of poultry at each store. Oh, no. Now, I’ll have to wait until Friday to get the turkey wings I like to use to make stock for various Easter related dishes. It’s not so bad though. Now, that we’re working the day shift, I have the whole evening on Friday to get a lot of the prep out of the way. I can do things like make pie dough a few days in advance of Friday, so there won’t be a lot of rushing around on Saturday. I’m not sure who, if anyone, is attending the dinner, but I always like to be prepared for surprises.

I haven’t been talking about it very much lately, but I’m still doing a lot of cooking that is getting more and more involved each year. I diligently record cooking shows on The Food Network and PBS every weekend. I watch them for new ideas and re-watch them to make sure I understand the techniques. One thing that has been a challenge for me is that most of the shows have recipes that must be served immediately after they are finished. That’s not an option for a person who tries to make most of the meals for the week during the weekend. Sometimes, I don’t even have the energy to make 30 Minute Meals when I get home. I need something I can throw in the oven or on the stovetop and is on the plate in fifteen minutes. So, my big food project, aside from the ever growing Vincent Greven Cookbook and sneaking more veggies into Jon’s diet, has been figuring out where I can stop a recipe to freeze it so that it tastes the same when I make it later in the week. Generally, I’ve found that blanching the veggies and freezing them separate from the meat an sauce in stews keeps them from being mushy when I put it all together. I actually make all my sauces and freeze them separately. Each night, I defrost the meal in the fridge and put it together when I get home. I’m also getting more confident with complicated dishes. But I find cooking very peaceful. That’s probably because I can control most aspects of it. And, as Jon says, there is much yumminess at the end.

Back to Basics

For our own sanity, Jon and I are working on projects close to home and leaving the meetings about high finance and brinksmanship to Ralph. All of the stopping and starting and rushing about had been making us both cranky. I have been much happier working on the scripts for the Blood Oath pitch, and Jon really grooves on editing. Thus, we’ve both been happier this week than we had been in a while. I’ve had a number of influences elevating my mood lately – and none of them involve copious amounts of wine. In the wake of Harry’s passing, I’ve been in contact with a number of old and dear friends. Jon and I each joined Facebook where they were all hanging out. Some folks from way back in grade school have turned up. It’s been wild. Anyway, the lovely women from grad school and the writers’ group we had there have worked wonders on my state of mind, but then, they always did. It was refreshing to look at our work out here in terms of what we have accomplished thus far rather than what has yet to happen. It sounds corny, but a positive outlook works wonders on the disposition. I even feel better physically than I have in a while. At this rate, I may have an absolutely fabulous month of fun. Jon’s reconnected with some of his film school colleagues. Their experiences have given him a lot of perspective and a more positive outlook as well. In this arena, friends are important. They often keep us sane.

On the writing front, I’ve been having fun with Rik and Vincent. It took me all the way to nearly the end of episode three to get to the first love scene. That’s nearly 120 pages of script and a great deal of restraint on my part. It’s been a lot of fun though. There is a whole different way of interacting between the men before and after they get together. Their body language is different, and Vincent is much more formal in the way he speaks to Rik before they become lovers. I’m definitely going to do short stories or a novella from these pages for the web page. With me, writing begets more writing. I’m getting new ideas for the Soldiers sequels and the third installment of the Surrender novels. I’ve even re-started research on a long dormant project and the memoir about my mother. I’m happiest when my mind is full of characters and storylines. Everything is better when I’m actually creating.

Well, I must be off to put on Hawaii Five-O and input the rest of the pilot and get ready for the week.

Next week – Craig vs Cecil B. DeMille and an Easter feast!