Welcome Gentle Readers

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

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Angerman, Klaus Kinski and the BFB

No I did not misspell anger management. If you click on the photo to the right, you will find the most inane name for a character ever. It really is Tor Angerman, US Attorney. When I found that in the pile at the Archive, I found it fairly amusing. Craig is still calling me to shout 'I AM Angerman!' through my phone. There's a certain amount of fun to that character name. But I as I actually looked through the book. I became really vexed that it was ever published. It wasn't just that there was a Tor Angerman in the story, Objections Overruled, it was that the story was inane because of garden variety sloppiness. The sloppy plot begins with our Heroine, Kaiti (again, not a typo), facing off against her ex-husband (Angerman – yes, I'm going to keep saying his name) in a death penalty murder case. Even if you apply CSI: Miami legal logic to this, and the judge didn't remove one or both of them from the case, it is unfathomable why a rich family would have their only daughter defended by the ex-wife of the prosecutor especially after they are caught having relations in a public place! Actually, they would both face disbarment for such behavior. Now, I know there is an audience for this sort of thing. No one would keep publishing it if there were not. What bothers me is that the editor didn't catch it or that Angerman name. Jon quipped that she may as well have named him Thor Largemember, Esq. (if anyone out there uses the name, I want royalties). That the book was published full of glaring inanities speaks to a cynicism in their view of their readers. Quality doesn't matter. They'll read it anyway. Now, that may be true, but the attitude really irked me. Does it cause that much money to have a little pride in their titles? Yeesh. I'll take “Percival, fetch me my breeches' any day. Now, I have to figure out how to stop Craig from calling me up to yell Angerman through my phone.

Conversations with Craig

Craig has been obsessing about Klaus Kinski this week. Who knows why. I've never been a fan. But them, I've never been into scary German actors in brooding German films. However, now I'm obsessed with Kinski, too. It seems that when Kinski revealed to people close to him that he was dying, Director Werner Herzog suggested that he write his autobiography and slander everyone he know or didn't know. The result was Kinski Uncut: The Autobiography of Klaus Kinski. The kindest official review called it pornographic. Due to lawsuits, it was pulled at some point by the publisher. Some copies are still out there (thus, my obsession), but the cheapest I found was $50US. For that kid of dough, I'd buy the fixings for a lobster dinner. However, I am intensely curious. It is said to be so outrageous as to not be believed (farm animals factor in there somewhere). Then there is relationship with Herzog. I can't understand why and actor and director worked together so often when they were often conspiring to kill each other – seriously. Of course, Craig thinks this is a hoot. He really gets tickled over an interview Herzog gave in which he threatened to put a bullet in Kinski's brain then his if he abandoned his a shoot in the middle of a South American jungle. Who can work like that? Jon understands how it can be important to find that one great actor to bring your vision to life, but all that would end for him with the first hand grenade tossed in our backyard. This is a really twisted business. I still want to read the book.

Hot Time, Summer in the City

California is on fire once again. And though we are far from any flames, the evidence of this huge blaze outside of LA can be seen for miles. This is the view from the sidewalk outside our apartment (we're approximately 30 miles away). The smoke is reaching us though. Jon and I are on antihistamines with the air conditioner running. We may be sent home from the Archives new locale as it's downtown and getting even more smoke. The weather is supposed to break soon. Hopefully, that will allow the firefighters to make headway.

Philly Visit Part Two – The Grillin-ing

When last I left this story, it was only Friday. Jon and I had successfully shopped for the food I was to make on Saturday, and we'd had nice visits with my darling Nephew and Gideon. From Center City, we took a commuter train out to my Brother's suburban neighborhood to get a lift to Dad. It seems that Keith has become southern in his middle age as he detoured from Dad's to have us say hey to my Sister-in-Law, Michelle. He would have fumed at such course deviations when we were kids. I was glad to see her for a little while on her own. I knew it would be hard to talk to her one on one at the Big Family Barbecue (BFB). I've always liked Michelle. She raised a fun and sweet child (the Nephew), and was very good for my Brother. Our family has always been on the volatile side, she was always one of the few calming influences. It was a quality visit though not a long one. I really wanted to get back and make the pie dough so I wouldn't have much to do on Saturday. I had planned to be out of the way in the kitchen before the BFB prep began. Best laid plans...

When we got home, the kitchen was already in full prep. There was food everywhere, including tomatoes, green peppers and squash from Dad's garden. I took one look at the place and knew that I would have to make the pie and short ribs around my Stepmom the next day. Surprisingly, I wasn't freaking out. I really should have been. In all the years they'd been married, I'd spent very little time with my Stepmom. I actually didn't really know her until this visit. And here I was invading her kitchen. Her really beautiful, spotless kitchen. She was great though. I found her to be a very kind and funny person. She was great to hang out with. And she got on well with Jon, to boot! That was good as he is my sous chef. But then there were the BFB guests to fret over. They were mostly from the Warner side. I had never cooked for most of them – with good reason. During my childhood, I had witnessed many a cooking battle at family events. I knew whose collard greens were never welcome at a family gathering and whose potato salad just had too much egg in it. And then there was the great sage stuffing battle of 1972.

Back then, we would foolishly extend invitations to the extended family for major holiday meals. And is the way of big, crazy families, old grudges were often fought in subtle fashion in the kitchen. Who was the best cook was often at issue. Mom was always laid back about others cooking in her kitchen. It was how she got other people to do meals in her stead (and how I ended up making Sunday dinners since high school – that was one crafty woman). As she was also working second shift on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, there was all the more reason to let the incoming aunts or cousins take the lead. That didn't sit well with me though. I liked my Mom's Thanksgiving dinners. I still make my Mom's Thanksgiving dinner (with a few tweaks that are my own). I especially didn't want anyone messing with the stuffing, one of my favorite things about a turkey dinner. Well two of my Aunties got to fussing about the seasoning of the stuffing being off. And during the ensuing battle, the stuffing was re-seasoned than re-re-seasoned. When it came out of the over, it was so full of ground sage and poultry seasoning that it was green and inedible. I spent that holiday seething at the women. The next year and every year after that, I made the stuffing.

The battle and the snide comments that followed haunted me as the day of the BFB arrived. And then, the big blow. Dad didn't have the food processor he said he had. It was, inf fact, a hand mixer. That was unsuitable for making pie dough. I would have to do it old school...with forks to blend the butter into the flour. No pressure....sure. And with Stepmom watching. I was using a new pie dough recipe by Melissa D'Arabian , the latest winner of The Next Food Network Star. It was a very simple recipe that looked like smooth fabric draped in a a pie tin when rolled out and baked into brown flakiness. I tweaked it slightly (adding apple juice instead of water and two tablespoons of sugar). The recipe was given to Melissa by her French Mother-in-Law, and just looked so simple. And it was....with forks (of course, that was what the Mother-in-Law used, after all). I was do pleasantly surprised that the pie turned out even better than it had at home. I was so excited that I wrote Melissa and sent the photo to her facebook page. And she wrote back!!! I was so pleased. But nothing made me happier than when the Warner clan pronounced that it was a really good pie. They also loved the short ribs, too. I braised them in a red wine liquid similar to Beef Bourguignon. It was enough to make me cry, and I did when they all left. I had had cooking recognition before from the Queen Bee herself, my Grandmom Dolly. But that had been in private. This was the first public acknowledgment of my skills.

But beyond the praise, I had so much fun hanging out with Dad while he patiently explained why my grilled chicken usually was charred outside and raw in the middle. We talked about the fish he caught (we had that fried) and his wonderful garden (the tomatoes were too much – so good). And just talked free of all baggage. I met my cousins grown children and were amazed at how lovely and accomplished they were. Jon was my Stepmom's favorite being as he was always doing something she needed done. And of course, his parents, my Maw and Paw-in-Law, were quite popular. It was a wonderful afternoon despite the crushing heat and humidity. I can say, I hadn't connected that well with family probably ever. Now, I find I want to go to the next reunion and have that big family vacation. I really had a great time.

I stop again because the reunion with Sarah and Phil deserves its own space in the Philly sage. More updates next week.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Planes, Trains and Humidity -- Philly Part One and Updates

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.

Blog Blahs
I had been very excited to write this blog when we started for home early Tuesday morning. It was so early that the airport wasn't actually open, but more on that part of the trip later. By the time I got home, I wasn't able to write a word. In fact, even sending e-mails this week has been a chore. I was tired down to the core on Wednesday and still had three days of work. Yesterday, putting up less than ten photos on facebook was all I managed to finish. Fortunately, Gordon Ramsay (somehow, in addition to all the Food Network stuff I watch, Jon and I got hooked on BBC America's Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares) instilled a tremendous yen for succotash in me this week. And for some reason, I really wanted a stuffed bell pepper. The big Family Buffet also left me wanting to experiment with pole beans and a black eyed pea salad. Thus, I was cooking yesterday and that partially staved off the malaise threatening to completely engulf me. Going home is complicated in ways that I can't begin to talk about. What is really weird about how I'm feeling now is that we had a really, really good time. Ah well. I won't get anything else done until I start to get a handle on the trip.

Homeward Bound

The trip began at the Police Station. Not that we had done anything yet. There is an ATM in the lobby. The station is also right next to the bus stop.. All very convenient. The trip to LAX is almost as close as it was when we lived in Playa. And it's really easy getting to the airport by bus – easier than driving at that time of day because the shuttle bus has its own lane to the terminals while the car lanes are jammed. Our first destination of the day had been on the news as part of a crime report. Actually, it was Joxer's Daily Pub next door that was in the report. But when I looked up at the screen, all I noticed was the Bakery cafe we were bound for. It seems that a Culver City councilman was assaulted behind the building. See video HERE . That was weird, but we really needed to have the lovely (and cheap) breakfast the lovely family serves up. And it was lovely. We also ordered a pair of Jambon et Fromage sandwiches to take on the plane. The bus ride was long enough that I could finish the bottle of champagne I had transferred to water bottles. I believe I have mentioned that I fly with a strong buzz. Really strong buzz. This is particularly true when I haven't been on a plane in years.

The flight out was fine. Jon and I were booked separately, so we were didn't have seats together, but everyone at every leg was willing to switch. Everyone prefers an aisle seat to a middle seat. We were in Detroit refueling my buzz when we found out about the Eagles signing Michael Vick. I knew that would be on the top of the news the whole while we were in Philly, and it was. Personally, my views are mixed. What he did was heinous and disgusting, but he served his time. In this country, that means he gets another chance. And I know Eagles fans. If he helps the team start winning, they will wear fur hats and jerseys to cheese off PETA (if PETA is foolish enough to protest in Philly). All will be forgotten if they win the Super Bowl. It was just a weird thing to happen there. We found out when Dad hit the wall of traffic outside of south Philly that we'd arrived as the Eagles pre-season game ended. It was a long trip to his house. By the time we arrived, it was only 8pm our time, but we had had a really long day. Friday was jammed with stuff to do to prep for the Big Family Barbecue or BFB. And there were some people we really needed to see while we were in Center City. An early start was in order. So it was just as well that we were exhausted.

I must take a moment to say that our accommodations while back East were first rate. Dad had us in a very nice loft suite with cable TV and Philomena had us in a very comfy room in a mansion that I'll rave about later.

What the #$%@ is THAT???

Three years is not an eternity to be away from a City. And Philadelphia is not known for rapid change. I'm not sure how long that hole at 8th and Market existed before someone had it filled in a paved over for a parking lot. It was supposed the be several other things over who knows how long before someone finally noticed that a big hole in the middle of the downtown shopping district just looks bad (it was around long enough that there was a t-shirt and a name for it). Thus, I was expected to get some nostalgia pics and relive old times as I drag me nephew, Brian around, we found ourselves saying, what the hell is that? And When did that get there? Quite a lot. Brian took us on a tour of the most amazing new development, The Comcast Center. The building is stunning and enormous, but it's the lobby that takes the breath away. What looks like a wood paneled wall where the elevators are is the largest view screen I've ever seen. We were really lucky to get the transition as it happened. Brian watched the end of the World Series there. The rumor was that because the Comcast center put a 26 inch statue of William Penn on the roof, returning him to the highest point in the city, the curse against the Philly winning a championship was broken. Who knows? The building is great. I was pleasantly surprised at how Center City had changed overall. There were tons and tons of little restaurants and boutiques and coffee houses. Where once, everyone left the downtown shopping district when the offices closed, there were people strolling and shopping and eating like there was no hurry to ever leave. I was far less wary strolling about than I ever had been before. It was impressive though the humidity was still crushing and draining. And there was enough of all that I had loved still in place that we still recognized the place.

The Gid

We managed to hang out with Brian for lunch at Reading Terminal Market. Biran had Chinese food. Jon and I had the first of foods that we really missed: Amish Pretzels and fresh lemonade at Millers. I shopped for the pie and short rib ingredients and found most of them. We even did the tourist thing. That left finding Gideon Umile, a former co-worker and the man who introduced Jon to me. He is matched in zaniness and wit only by Craig. But he's tough to pin down. I had last heard from him during the raucous celebrations after the Phillies won the World Series. He had to go suddenly, then I couldn't find him. I only knew he was alive when a Google search revealed that he'd gotten married at the Mutter Museum. Getting married there and not letting us know he was getting married warranted investigation. And we missed him. No visit would be complete without a few of tales of Gideon's crazy life over a many drinks. We were lucky again. Hew was at work near where we were sightseeing and he was getting off early. He suggested a little joint he knew at a nearby hotel. It turned out to be the very swanky lobby bar in the Sofitel. Mind, Jon and I were dusty, sweaty and rumpled. I was pretty sure we were going to get thrown out as soon as we sat down. Luckily, Gid showed up and it turned out as the former head Concierge there, he had trained everyone we came across. The wine and stories flowed. Gid is now married and expecting a child (he keeps the ultrasound photo on his I-Phone). The wedding cost a fortune because it involved his flying in numerous in-laws from South Korea and flying back again for a ceremony there. None of that seemed to matter. He's slap happy and adorable in that joy. And he is as appallingly irreverent as always. He will make a very interesting father.

Our time was still pressed though. We couldn't follow Gid home and surprise his pregnant wife (that's not a bad thing, actually). We had to take the train out to my brother's place, so he could take us to Dad's. I still had pie dough to make. Gid did take me to get the final bits I needed for my dishes. There was a new gourmet market near where he lives that carried demi-glace – stacks of the stuff. DiBruno's Market is amazing. I could drop a fortune in there easily. I'm lucky that similar places in LA aren't easy for me to reach routinely. I'd never have any money. We said goodbye to Gid at the train station (very dramatic). We have each other's numbers and facebooks. There won't be any loosing touch. Still, my heart felt heavy. I felt that a lot last week. I feel it still.

I have to stop here. There is too much to cover with the BFB on Saturday , hanging out with our families and the big reunion of the Writing Group on Sunday. I don't think I should rush through all of that. It was a really wonderful trip and should be covered properly.


All the players involved in the films will be back from vacations and free of distractions by this time next week. We should be announcing a pre-production schedule shortly after that. Jon is ready to render the final backgrounds for Blood Oath's climactic fight scene. The Manga artist will get his list of panels to complete. I should be able to set a date for the screening next week or the week after.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Blog Delay Due to Traveling

Jon and I are in our ancestral in Philadelphia this weekend. Oh, the tales I have to tell but not until next week. We're racing around too much for me to gatehr my thoughts and put write them down. I amy poast during the weeking, so keep an eye out!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Devil Boxes, Set Secrets and Updates

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

The Devil is in the Desktop

My dear friend, Nicholas, calls PCs devil boxes. Yet he is one of the most prolific posters of ephemera that I know. He often complains about the devil box swallowing up his time. However, it's proven to be very useful to him in his numerous and nefarious pursuits. I admit to many frustrations with my computer and the interwebs. A couple of weeks ago, I was pulling my hair out trying to edit the pilot presentation for The Privateers into appropriately sized chunks for Youtube.com. Then I spent a long time posting the four parts on Youtube, Myspace and finally facebook. I lost a whole day in getting that done. Last week, I'm not sure how many hours flew by as I was putting together a voice over and animation video for Blood Oath. It was the first time in years that I've done anything that extensive with editing (images, voice audio and music). I even threw in some primitive visual FX. Yesterday, I had a few tasks to do on the PC related to the promotion of our various projects. Six hours later, I wondered where my time had gone and why I hadn't done any writing.

The thing is that these website are simple to use in theory but also very frustrating. I don't think any of the amazing minds that designed these social networking sites know how to write their FAQs or help sections in simple, plain English. When Nick first started using his devil box, he called tech support. And in that way only an articulate hoodlum Jersey boy can, told the tech that if he failed to simply define any of the technical terms he was about to use, Nick would find him at his place of employment and rip his spine out. The call went swimmingly from there, and Nick went on to become legendary in some circles for his posts. I'm trying to get him to blog. At any rate, I am certain that calls like Nick's have resulted in an inability to reach live tech support for these sites. I have never been satisfied with the results of submitting a trouble ticket. The answers generally involve repeating what was in their FAQ or unhelpful help centers. Thus, the simple tasks of creating a fan page for Blood Oath and uploading things onto it, then inter-connecting it with other pages took six hours (and included much in the way of cursing and wine consumption).

I know, I can hear the question swirling out there. Why bother? Networking is the long and short of it. Putting up videos like The Privateers and sites like the many Blood Oath pages allows Industry people to see that we are, indeed, active filmmakers. This past weekend, I've had some really cool Industry types friend my pages. These people can help us make better films or get our projects to people who could see them made or distributed or both. Connecting with potential fans is not a bad thing either. Currently, there is a month long discussion forum on a European discussion board about The Privateers. They found the videos on Youtube after becoming enamored with Karl Urban, Aran Dravyk in The Privateers among other things. As this project has yet to be produced, We have images and stories never seen or heard by most of his growing fan base. It is also heartening that those who've recently discovered The Privateers found that they liked the concept enough to want to see it made with or without the original cast. In the case of Blood Oath, there is a large audience for Yaoi and a larger one for Yaoi that we need to reach prior to pitching the pilot presentation to the Suits. These pages give them something to look at and even subscribe to. All these hits – especially repeat hits do a lot to help us sell the project. So these things are necessary until I get a brilliant assistant willing to do my cyber-bidding.

Keep it Secret, Keep it Safe

The kind fold running the month long forums have been quite inquisitive about the happenings on the Privateers shoot. And therein lies one of the biggest dilemmas of direct interaction with fans. Actors share a lot about what happens behind the scenes on any given shoot. This is particularly true of actors who do the convention circuit. However, they never share everything that happens on set.

I must pause here to point out something disturbing I
just saw on television. –
tweens wearing pork pie hats.
I've long felt that there are many heads already out
there that are ill suited to wearing such hats. When
tweens start wearing them, it is time for everyone to
stop. I also reiterate my on-going objection to tops
or dresses with empire waists They only look good
on toddlers.

Where was I? Ah yes, Set secrets. The set is a close, often very personal environment where the cast has to feel comfortable letting their hair down between takes. Relaxation can take the form of all sorts of silliness and sometimes, sexiness. There is an understanding amongst cast and crew that most of what happens on the set stays on the set. Now, we all share things with colleagues – mostly the horror stories or how a horror was averted. That's shop talk. And there is sometimes gossip amidst colleagues about each others' sets. But there is an understanding amidst these colleagues that the gossip doesn't filter out to civilians or the press. And I'm not saying that there was anything worth press interest on any of our sets. But there are events and conversations that I have never talked about from all of my shoots. There are lots of things I've never talked about from my travels with actors to Cannes or to conventions. And heaven knows there are things I have never talked about involving the wrap parties. The wrap party in particular is sacrosanct. Everything that I and my production company have shared has had the permission of the actors or crew involved. And I tell my peeps that they are to take the lead of what they can say from the actors. Once they've blabbed it (and sometimes they blab an awful lot), we can share it.

Thus, even though I think these fans are the bees knees for being interested in and supporting all of our projects, I can't tell them why Craig had an issue with one of Karl's more private body parts or even how he came to know about such an attribute. I sure can't share the insane conversation that ensued or the extrapolations within that conversation. And while there is a perfectly innocent explanation as to how I ended up on Karl's bed in that Atlanta hotel, I just can't say what the explanation is. Nor can I explain why Randy is still waiting for Karl's promised serenade of him for his personal services (and that's really funny), I can't tell anyone outside of the business. Forgive me if I seem like I'm being a tease. I'm just making a point.. I'm even more protective of actors that I've maintained a close relationship with over the years. I seldom take photos of their visits anymore unless they are looking particularly yummy. And on the plus side, I no longer feel the need to be dressed up around them. Though that's true with most actor's I've worked with. No one is pretty at hour 14 of a shoot. And even if the actor is still gorgeous, at a certain point in the day, you are really sick of looking at his or her face until after I've had some sleep (though I still love all my actor boys and girls).

Updates and Countdown

We're all preoccupied with Central City Studio's first shoot at the end of this week. After it's up and running Ralph and I can turn our attention to where the pre-production plans are for Gunslinger and Luv U 4 Ever. I also expect to set a date for the screening of the Blood Oath Pilot Presentation. Gabriel Koerner very kindly help Jon with some compositing issues and even did an FX test of Rik using his energy channeling power. It looked really neat.

On the personal front, the countdown to the trip to Philly is only 4 days away. The suitcase is half packed. I have about five different lists to check off by Thursday morning. I tried the short rib recipe I plan to spring on the family last week. It was delicious. Even Jon liked it. That's a coup. I am taking the pie bird and my tart pan for the apple pie. I may get a set of regular sized aluminum pie pans. It seems that there are a lot of relatives coming to the family barbecue. I don't want to be short of pie, and I want to take one to the gathering of the grad school chums. I can't bring any of my demi-glace from home for the short ribs, but I think I can find it at the Reading Terminal Market. That place remains one of my favorite places anywhere to buy food. And I understand that there is a warehouse type market near Dad's place. It'll be fun. My next experiment that I plan to spring on the family is sweet corn bread. Jon loves the stuff, and it will go with Dad's supper spicy barbecue. In fact, I need to get on that right now.

Next week, I will try to blog from Philly. I may only be able to do some snippets to hold everyone over until we get back. I'm sure there will be photos and lots of stories.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Taking Stock, Literary Allusion and Big Brains

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.

Before I dive in to things, I thought I should mention that my school chum, Sarah Freligh, is blogging about her writings at Sort of Gone. There are wonderful things about writing and reading and, lately, pies.

Summer Doldrums

This week was a little saner than the last two, but only by a fraction. And I believe that was because nothing was happening with regard to the great relocation of the Archive. And nothing will for a couple of weeks while all the arrangements are settled. That's good an bad. Until we're in the new spot the tension over something going awry is palatable. Meanwhile, I'm in the entertaining position of coordinating shoots planned for the space and figuring out how to work them around the day job. I just can't call in and then turn up down the hall being a producer (not that I've ever done anything like that). This means all those three day weekends will be taken up by production work. Blah. I'm also annoyed that I haven't had my quotient of awful pop culture this summer. We've been so busy or I've been too tired to see giant robots or boy wizards. Now the big, undoubtedly stupid fun of GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra is upon us. We have to tour the new soundstage next weekend. The following week, we'll be in Philadelphia. I am quite vexed by missing the opportunity to rot my brain and eat popcorn. What can you do? We have a Pilot Presentation to finish and too many other things pulling our attention. Maybe we'll catch them all at the dollar theaters before they go to video.

Finding Focus

The uproar over the day job caused a lot of general upheaval in our routines. I think it took Jon and I a solid week before we could really focus on our respective tasks for Blood Oath. For me, the distraction meant a complete shut down on everything I was writing or planning to write. Even cooking wasn't helping me settle down. I ruined more dishes that week than I have in years. This was particularly frustrating, because I now have places to show off my food. A lot of my favorite chefs have their own facebook pages or websites where they want fan contributions. I've already put up a half dozen photos. It's been fun getting feedback. I haven't been able to cook anything complex until yesterday. I made some stocks. Those are my zen exercise. It is a very simple substance but the making of it is an art of patience and precision. The better cookbooks harp on the importance of stocks to many things created in the kitchen. Anthony Bourdain's cookbook does a lot of yelling in instructing how to get them right. He is personally obsessed with good stock in his favorite soups. There is a tiny restaurant in Vietnam that holds the distinction of making his favorite thing to eat. It's a soup for which excellent stock is made daily. I really enjoy the process. The pot must be left to do its work, but it cannot be neglected. And the stock can be ruined in the beginning if the ingredients aren't what they should be and in the proper proportion. That can't be known until the weight of the bones is known. It took hours and hours, but I have enjoyed a lovely bowl of soup from the chicken stock. The house smells of thyme and garlic. I am a happy girl as I write this.
As for the writing, that got back on track as I got further into A Moveable Feast. That book is very much about writers writing. It makes a body feel guilty for not writing diligently every single day. However, I'm also feeling indignant about not having lovely lunches in cafes and terribly sharp but witty conversations with artists and writers over drinks not to mention delightful picnics in the Luxembourg Gardens. But that's another matter entirely. I'm usually resentful about not doing such things. Reading the book made me feel guilty and inspired enough to struggle through sentences last weekend. I'm now getting trough paragraphs fairly well this weekend. I feel better physically when I can write and when I can cook. Traveling won't slow any of that down. For some reason, I write a lot in my head while I travel. Almost the entire first draft of A Soldier's Choice was written in my head while we were in Atlanta attending Dragoncon. And I will be cooking as well. That's a little nerve wracking as it's been such a long time since I cooked for family. But it will give me something to focus on while I'm there. Of course there are family tensions and sensitive topics to tip toe around. Where there is family, there are tensions. No one knows about the memoir yet.

Literature and Pop Culture
As I bandy about tidbits from Hemingway, I wince a little. I don't want to sound like some sort of reading snob. It's funny that every time I read the book in public, someone assumes I'm a teacher. Alas, the graying hair no longer qualifies me to be a student. When I say no, I get a look like 'well, la di da reading Hemingway when you don't have to.' The thing is, I think that A Moevable Feast has pop culture appeal. There is a lot in the way of enjoying food and booze and sex. There is scandal. Hem is something of a wise ass. I think that mental barriers are erected every day in the minds of school children that classic literature is dry and boring and has nothing to do with current reality. And once that cap comes off at graduation, they are never thought of again. Unless a really hot movie version of one of the books comes out. And that's regrettable. Fortunately, there are solutions out there in pop culture. I often see wonderful references to literature in my favorite subversive programs. I think that teaches should consider including these sorts of things in the way they teach literature. The best reading of an Edgar Alan Poe poem I have ever heard is by Homer Simpson. Actually, aside from Garrison Keillor reading Sarah's poetry on NPR, Homer's version of The Raven is my favorite poetry recital ever. I would totally use that if I ever taught the poem. But it doesn't stop there. Futurama's episode, The Day the Earth Stood Stupid, as some wonderful commentary on Mark Twain, Herman Melville and Jane Austen (photo to the right). I also find that the entire episode was a thesis worthy exercise in metafiction. And it's not just the cartoons that have a keen sense for the literary. Stephen Colbert has often made highly amusing and involved literary references. Aside from coming up with two tiles by J.D. Salinger that I could actually read, he had a brilliant analogy between baseball and Jane Austen. Take a moment to look at the clip HERE. And please forgive the blasphemy at the beginning of the clip. Mr. Colbert is actually very Catholic, and thus blasphemes like only a Catholic can. There is a down side to this mixture of the literary with pop culture. I was processing an edition of A Tale of Two Cities and all I could think about was Montgomery Burns reading 'it was the best of times, it was the blurst of times? Stupid monkeys!'

Travel Bugginess

Those familiar with me have heard of my legendary prep for any type of journey. It is no exaggeration. As soon as there are plane tickets, I compose The List. On The List is everything item that I can think of that either of us may need during a trip. It is detailed down to safety pins and a cork screw. But, Deb, I am often told, there are all night supermarkets or drug stores in most cities now. You can get what you may forget. To that I counter that foreign travelers to the American Film Market have been so often dismayed by the lack of these facilities anywhere near the host hotels, that they have complained online often. There are drugstores and markets within a few miles of the hotels, but that doesn't help if you don't know what direction to find them. And the cabbies aren't much help. I've been in similar situations when I really needed some essential but forgotten toiletry. In some cases like my last stays in New York or when we last stayed at a Philly hotel. There were stores on the same block as the hotel. After a certain hour of the night, I'm not going out to shop. And it's always at that hour of the night when certain toiletries become essential. And I've never found a corkscrew when I don't have one. So I'm neurotic – really neurotic, but I am prepared. The big drag with this trip is that the apartment is too compact for me to leave a suitcase out and open in order to arrange and re-arrange our items for travel. That will call for a bit of creativity and some artful stacking along the back of the sofa. Hopefully, I won't drive poor Jon crazy.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Unscheduled Blog with Writer's Musings and a Blood Oath Preview

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.

Blood Oath Update

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I fired myself as the artist for the Blood Oath Manga panels that will appear in the Pilot presentation. We found a wonderful replacement. His name is Dennis Lo, and he does Manga for a living. We'll have a bio on him up on or various pages shortly. For now, I'm giving a sneek peek of the panels he's finished for the web page. They'll be up full sized by tomorrow's regularly scheduled blog. Oh, the things that are going on. But that is for tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I find that all of this interweb connectedness has an incredibly awkward side. Those who know the writer me know that I don't shy from talking about my passions. I like the notion of a romance between beautiful men. I like writing erotica with no profound message behind it. I take my mutant soldiers in love as seriously as the memoir about my mother I'm writing. And I find reading that sort of prose as valid and enlightening as reading any of the literary lions (if it's written well, of course). After all, Hemingway enjoyed D.H. Lawrence's The Prussian Officer , though that was far from a romance. It was a lurid, disturbing perversion of all the kinky things I like reading and writing. Actually, I feel that way about most of Lawrence's work. Where was I? Oh, yes, serious writing. I had a similar conversation about what is and isn't worthwhile in writing with William Goldman while I was in grad school. He was speaking at our Creative Writing School, then we took him out to a cheap dive for cheap beer as was the tradition of our class. He lamented the possibility of his work disappering with his passing because it wasn't literature. I told him that what is considered literature changes with each generation of critics and professors. A lot of what is deemed literature now once was pop culture. Since working at the archive, I've discovered lauded writers who had dozens of novels or poetry collections along with reams and reams written on their work that have disappeared completely from everyon'e canon of great works. There are quite a number of serious dissertations on Star Trek. The UN had a panel featuring Battlestar Galactica. I'm at peace with who I am and where my creative bent leads me.

And then I joined Facebook. And while a lot of people in the industry have found me and fans of my work have found me, people from my past have found me. I give fair warning on my profile page that my interests have mutated since Catholic High School. And I've found my voice after Grad School, and that voice isn't interested in being the next Toni Morrison (though I still enjoy reading her). And still, despite all my confidence, I found myself hesitating to post the Manga because it contained a kiss between men. Extraordinary. then, I mentally slapped myself, reminded myself that the page was for promoting the new works as much as it was for connecting with old friends and that my friends needed to know the real me, kinks and all.

Without Further ado:

See the full sized pages at the Blood Oath Website and hear some voice clips sometime tonight or tomorrow. I'll make another announcement when it's up at http://bloodathseries.com.