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, May 03, 2009

Month of Fun, Devil's Due and Caprica

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.

Again, this blog has been written in pieces during the week and today.

Month of Fun

The Month of Fun was conceived the year I turned 40. It was a variation on Agent Dale Cooper's philosophy that one should give yourself a present every day. In Agent Cooper's case, such presents could be an extra long nap in an easy chair or 'a damn fine cup of coffee.' The Month of Fun is not based on extravagance every day, but a little something in the name of pampering that I don't usually do, because I'm too busy or too tired or too crazy. Even though the trips to France could be called extravagant, they weren't, really. We worked during the entire ten days at the Cannes Film Market, and ran around Paris like nuts trying to cram everything we could in a few days each time. My presents to myself while I was there was to slow down for an hour or so and really be in the moment in such beautiful places. In Paris, it was having some damn fine cups of cafe while people watching or having a perfect piece of creamy chocolate or a perfectly made jambon et fromage on a perfectly baked baguette or an amazingly flakey palmier. These treats were really cheap as was the gorgeous, huge, fringed scarves we found in Paris the last visit. They were the 3 Euro accent to my outfits at the formal premiers at the film festival. I still use them often. My favorite thing to do in Cannes was still in the American Pavillion, tune out the show biz wheeling and dealing and just gaze at the Mediterranean Sea in the sunlight. It's my favorite body of water to date. I understand why artists moved to the Rivera to paint. The light is extraordinary. The beer was cheap.

This year's month of fun began in a brand new store in downtown Santa Monica. It's called Penzeys Spices. My dear friend, Bruce in Ohio introduced me to them a couple of years ago. I've been using the products and the catalog ever since. I was so stoked when I saw the store a few weeks ago, but wasn't in the area to shop until this past Friday. Oh, man, did I enjoy that place. I made two trips around the store just sniffing. They have glass stoppered jars with the featured spices to sniff. I was in heaven. I bought only a few things this time. I'll be returning often, believe me. This time, I bought some beautiful, Turkish bay leaves. They were huge and glossy. I'll be making stock this weekend with those babies. I also picked up some sweet, Hungarian paprika and some French grey sea salt. Now, I've looked into using gray salt, because many of my Food Network and PBS chefs us it. But the price made me balk. At Pensy's, I bought I nice sized packet for a few bucks. That makes it worth a try. And they had a great deal on my beloved Kosher salt (twice the size and half the price of my supermarket). It was a fine beginning for the Month of Fun.

I thought I'd sign off now (Friday), but there was the recording of the last installment of VH!'s Greatest One hit wonders of the 80s. It was the top 19, so I had to watch. Those were the years when I was at my flirtiest fun enjoying dancing on the weekends. Of course, the 80s hits had videos which was new and amazing. All of the 19 brought back fond memories and disagreements with their choices: a-ha, a Flock of Seagulls and Dexy's Midnight Runners were the top three. Come On Eileen took the prize. Jon thought it was because it was a song that only could work in the 80s or that it's goofiness encapsulated that period in time. I would have picked A-Ha's I Ran, Devo's Whip It (a personal favorite) or Thomas Dolby's She Blinded me with Science. Did you know that Dolby is responsible for ring tones on cell phones among other groovy science stuff? The entire five part special was fun to watch. It's repeating a lot on VH-1, if you are so inclined. There were a lot of great dance tunes in that decade. For me, it was the last decade to have what I call dance music and singing. I'd stack the pipes in Gonna Make You Sweat against anyone today (though it was released in 1990 but the singer was an 80s Icon). Youtube link. The big surprises? Jon's fondness for You Spin Me Right Round. I was surprised at how many of these so called 'one hit wonders' actually had long successful careers in their native countries. I was also surprised to find out that there are Black Scotsmen when I saw the band Big Country. I know there are Black Swedes, but never saw any Black Scotsmen before. But enough. This sort of research can lead to hours wasted on Youtube.

Saturday Interlude

The weekend brings a couple of notable days that are usually good excuses to bend the elbow a bit. The Kentucky Derby was actually quite a cause for a party back in Philly and somewhat here. But I didn’t have the time to stock up on bourbon, and I hadn’t really been following the horses this spring. So, I let that slide in favor of a lovely glass or three of bubbly and remember my Mom and Harry who really enjoyed a good Kentucky Derby shindig.

Devil in the Details

This week hasn’t been all fun things and bubbly, I’m afraid. On the film front there were a lot of machinations that I’m not at liberty to discuss. We were approached with some offers that made me feel like we were weighing all we’d been working for against the proverbial 30 pieces of silver. But that begged the question of what price do you assign everything you’ve worked for? And what about all the other people who have worked on these projects with you? How many times do you walk away on principle? This left me deeply depressed on Tuesday. Again – Tuesday! However, I found myself quite surprised by the end of the day when an entirely different sort of offer came up. It was as different as noon is to midnight here and it restored my optimism that it’s possible to succeed without complete compromise. The roller coaster left me exhausted by week’s end. My back has been the number one manifestation of great stress. I’ve had to scale back my weekend plans, and I’m two hours behind schedule right now. But I feel better than I would have if we’d accepted that first offer of last week. I may indulge in a nap after this blog. I’m beginning to feel the affects of the latest sinus med. I’ll have updates on the films and other writing next week.

Warning: MAJOR SPOILER ALERT. If you haven’t seen it and don’t want spoilers, DO NOT READ.

Jon and I saw the two-hour pilot for the Battlestar Galactica pre-quel, Caprica last night. I’m no longer confused about why they released it to DVD rather than airing it. It’s going to need a lot of editing for nudity, sexual acts (lots of topless girl on girl action) and extreme violence (even for Galatica). I can say with a straight face that the nudity and violence were important to the story in depicting a society that is about to spiral out of control on its own. Cylons are not a factor in the decline of this civilization. It is a bigoted society that in no way resembles the utopia that the fleeing colonists from the series describe. The government and the judicial system appear to be corrupt. This is a tale of two families, the Greystones and the Adamas and how their lives are changed by the deaths of their daughters during an act of terrorism. There is a soap opera feel to the pilot (and likely the series) with plot intrigues and relationship entanglements that should satisfy the CW crowd and the FX audience. There are teens in Hogwarts attire contemplating the salvation of their mortal souls against endless access to topless girl on girl action. There is an earnest lawyer who, in trying to provide for his family in a racist society, has sold his soul to a mob that resembles the Russians, Maoris and Orthodox Jews. There is an earnest scientist who seems to be seeking to re-connect with his lost daughter but still manages to get a government contract to build killing machines based on stolen technology. And then, there is the Headmistress of our teen heroes’ private school. I don’t know what this twisted sister is up to, but I think the destruction of the colonies are almost certainly connected to one of her actions. Along with all of this there was a pall of paranoia and a vague sense of doom that felt a lot like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Events in the pilot answer some fundamental questions for me like how did the Centurions get into monotheistic religion? And how did they decide that all humanity had to go? Those answers were quite a surprise, but the answers posed even more questions. It looks like a promising series, but it is doubtful that it will line up completely with the evens that happened in BSG. I’m willing to tune in. And I finally got to hear a Centurion say 'by Your Command.' It was all I dreamed of.

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