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!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! May 2011 be happy and healthy to you and your families. Remember to seize the days and live them fully.

I'm working on the blog now. Hopefully, it should be up on time.

Now, go have some bubbly!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas, Chard and Updates

Carnation Milk in My Coffee

First, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Last year at this time, I was really just happy to be out of the hospital. All the food tasted like metal because of the antibiotics, but I was home with Jon. This year, I feel pretty happy to just be home with Jon, but there is the bonus that food tastes like food and I have the energy to cook it. I even had a chance to have what I consider a holiday delicacy – coffee lightened with carnation milk. It's something my mother used to do to use up the can of condensed milk opened to make a sweet potato pie. It lends a sweet richness to the coffee and always makes me think of this time of year. It's like having coffee with Mom. The full year's wrap up will be for next week. Right now, I'm focused on being a pretty happy camper with a fridge full of yumminess.

Swiss Chard in My Collards

The reports of rain in Southern California were not exaggerated. The rain was heavy and constant and the temperature was very cool. In short, it wasn't the sort of weather where I could go schlepping about for groceries. Thus, I did much of the food shopping through Jon via remote control. Not that I could control his every move in the market via a remote control. Wouldn't that be something? No, I just gave him a detailed list and we had the cell phone. Overall, the Hubs did really well. But produce is sometimes overlapping in the market. And so, I had Swiss Chard for the first time. Mind, it was mixed in with my collards and prepared in my usual fashion (sauteed onions and garlic, add chicken or turkey stock along with smoked turkey pieces and cooked for a half an hour before adding thinly sliced greens and cooking until tender). The Chard added a sweetness to the collards that was very nice. It was a happy accident. Now, I'm looking for recipes to try the vegetable on its own.

Santa Baby!

Speaking of recipes and cooking, the Santas in my life gave me gifts were almost all related to food or cooking. I'm very excited about all of the possibilities and hardly know where to begin. There are cookbooks, of course, for new inspirations. One is the gigantic Culinaria Germany. I think it may have every recipe in the whole country in the book. Though I talk a lot about French food, I'm also a fan of German eats. Our family's favorite bakery and deli were run by Germans. I had a lot of exposure to the cuisine, and there is a lot I like about it. I'm looking forward to delving into this cookbook. And then, there is Ina Garten's How Easy is That? I already have a binder full of her recipes from seasons of her show, but I was coveting this book as it is also full of tips to make cooking even easier. I know I'm strange. I do plan to make my own puff pastry and croissants, and I'm looking for simplified recipes. I'm the same in the types of reading I do or television I watch. I enjoy a dense, highly literary read or what Jon calls advanced movie watching. But I still love an easy romance novel or a B movie that a critic might deem dopey. I like varying degrees of difficulty in all of my pursuits. In is a joy to read, because her writing sounds like her speaking. And she has this way of making anything sound doable. Of course, all of this new cooking will have to wait until we eat the fridge full of leftovers. I may not have mentioned it before, but I can't seem to cook just for two at the holidays. We've got food for a party of six for some time to come. But back to the goodies. One of my Santas gave me a very generous gift certificate to F. Oliver's, a purveyor of fine olive oils and vinegars. I oped for a gift pack with three flavored oils and the 18 year old Balsamic vinegar. I highly recommend ordering from them if you can't get to their shop. They ship so very quickly and package so very carefully that their products can go anywhere. I plan to use them for my New Year's Eve spread. I'm so excited about those. Among the many cool things the Hubs got me is a collection of gourmet salts. I've never used anything other than kosher or table salt to cook with, and I've never used a 'finishing salt.' I like this gift pack because it gives me quantities that I can really experiment with and figure out if buying more is worth the expense. And not to leave anyone out, I received two handmade gifts that I will cherish. Chem makes me terribly sensitive to cold, and two lovely ladies have knitted me gifts to ward off the chill. They are really beautiful and I am ever so grateful that they took the time and effort. Overall, I'm really giddy about all my lovely prezzies.

Updates

The novel writing is coming along slowly. I won't be able to predict a release date until after my last chemo round in February. All the actors in the various web series are ready and willing when we're able. Estimates on that will have to wait until February as well. There is work on the projects happening without me but not very much. Meanwhile, the deals for the features are going through their paces at full steam. We should be hearing something on those in the next week or so.


Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Serendipity, Mutant Marshmallows and Rebounding

Cake Walk No More

Methinks the blog may be every other week until the end of my treatments. If you don't see it up by 5pm Pacific time, I'm likely not posting that week. I'm beginning to feel the full force of the fatigue and the less pleasant side effects from the chemo. It took every bit of a week to feel normal. I wasn't in any danger, and there was no thought of going to an ER. It just took time, a lot of sleep and fluids to rebound. I really appreciate the inquiries and kind words. Keep those and the prayers coming, but please don't worry. According to the Docs, I'm weathering this as I should be. Truth be told, nothing I've gone through with chemo was as bad as it was for me last year when I first went into the hospital. The only real drag were the days when I was too tired and fuzzy headed to do anything but actually watch daytime TV. Usually, I'm writing or reading or cooking with the TV as background noise. I found that it's just as bad as it was last year when I was in the hospital. Thankfully, this year, Tiger Woods isn't in the news and on every channel. This week I was most grateful for two food channels to bounce between.


Mutant Marshmallows and Baking Adventures

By mid-week, I was up and about enough to indulge in some baking and gift assembly. That meant taking on the marshmallows. I've been making these for at least four years now, and they turn out very well. They are amazing in a nice cup of hot cocoa. Still, they remain a challenge to make. I'm still not an expert with candy thermometers. I suspect that my sugar mixture is not precisely 240 degrees Fahrenheit. This time, instead of mixing beautifully in the bottom of the bowl the way they do for Food Network folks like Ina Garten, mine was one ball of white, sticky fluff encasing the mixer's wire whisk. I had three spatulas stuck in the ball before I figured out a way to get the stuff into the pan. I would have taken a photo, but I worried about the mixture hardening and losing the wire whisk forever. I should have tried for a photo. It looked like a piece of modern art. I suppose that's what I could have done if I didn't get the ball smoothed out – sold it as a bit of modern sculpting. Once that was finally over, I had to battle clouds of Dutch processed cocoa floating through the room as I mixed the ingredients for my instant hot cocoa mix. Have you ever breathed in a cloud of Dutch processed cocoa? It tingles.

Strangely, despite all the comedy surrounding the gift assembling, the cookie baking happened with a great deal of efficiency. Perhaps that was because Jon was home at the time. This was the first wave of cookie baking. Those get shipped out hither and yon. I managed to package those without serous mishap. Though, truth be told, I'm glad we don't have a cat. With my current luck, I would have shipped it as well. Still, I'm really pleased to be able to really participate in the holiday season this year. It felt really wrong not doing anything baking-wise last year. I know that it was a major miracle that I was home and walking around, but it still felt wrong. Now, the apartment is filled with the smells of vanilla and cinnamon and other spices. It's just wonderful.

Serendipity Lives

I haven't talked about the film projects much here not because there was nothing going on, but because I was only loosely keeping track of the strange machinations going on around them. I know that things are going on when Ralph asks me for the odd file or to re-write something for a onesheet. I think that Ralph is trying to spare me the emotional highs and lows of the film funding roller coaster by only bringing things to my attention as they become really solid leads. And sometimes he clues me in when I'm feeling down about things. This week was not a stellar one career wise on top of my physical difficulties. I must have sounded bummed on the phone with Ralph, because he let me know the crazy things going on in the background with some of the film projects. Ralph's strategy is to mind his own business and let the random connections come his way. it's a surprisingly effective strategy. Then, he is open and polite to everyone expressing interest is a script. Then, you get them copious amounts of information and wait. What was exciting was the type of connections the randomness brought this time. Our scripts have found their way onto some pretty impressive desks (I can't say whose right now), and it's been flattering that there is real interest in them. I don't know how any of this will turn out which is typical of the process, but the news was what I needed to hear at that time. I had been having trouble focusing enough to write. It's interesting that praise from a well placed stranger would cure that. Whatever the reason, I'm producing pages again. That also makes me feel good.

This week involves an encounter with Craig and a visit to the studio amidst my various appointments. I'm certain that hilarity will ensue.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Blog Delay with Thanks

Thanks for the inquiries and notes. The last cycle kind felt like a freight train hit me. So, I've been laying really low. I'm trudging through and now feel good enough to make marshmallows. Jon helped start the cookies.

New blog is likely on Sunday.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Toxic Produce, War Stories and Big Thanks

Being Thankful

I hope everyone hither and yon had a great Thanksgiving. May you all be enjoying lovely turkey sandwiches as we are. And a big thank you for all who sent notes and well wishes for the holiday. They all mean a great deal to me. Without getting really mushy, I have to say that I have a lot to be thankful for. Last year at this time, I was extremely ill with no clue as to what was happening. That was so frightening. This year, I'm tumor free and 2/3rds through with my treatments. Yes, 2/3rds. The Docs have decided that due to the rare nature of my cancer, to err on the side of caution with chemo. Thus, I have five more to go instead of one. Still, I'm not deterred. A delay in my plans is far better than facing this all over again in a few years. So, I'm Thankful to be on the mend and to have the love and support of my family and friends as I press on. I can't begin to thank all of you who've sent notes and prayers to those who are toting me around and sitting with me through treatments. The hubs still thinks this gig with me is a good one. The cherry on top of things this week was having the vigor to make a full, southern style meal and modestly entertain (more on that later). For a foodie like me, that meant the world.

Organ Meats and Toxic Produce

All summer long, I've been gleefully gorging myself on fresh fruit. I kept big bowls of cut fruit ready for snack attacks. I'd also been enjoying all sorts of green salads. Since the lovely gift of fine, aged balsamic vinegar, I'd even been making my own dressings. That's before we get to the fruit smoothies. I'm nowhere near being an advocate for the raw food movement (frankly, that movement puzzles me deeply), but I was one produce eating machine. Thus, when told that my blood counts were down, I immediately began to think about my strength building menus and fall fruits and veggies. And that's when my brain caught up to the restrictions and warnings the doc was laying down. While my immune system was suppressed, I was forbidden from eating any raw fruits or veggies because of the chance of contamination. Really?? Things have gotten that bad in the food supply chain that fresh fruit and vegetables require a health warning? I don't know about you, but I found that to be appalling. Fortunately, I was able take care of the fruit cravings with juices that were Pasteurized. And the great thing about fall veggies is that they taste great roasted. And that tastes great with balsamic vinegar. Alas, I had to stay away from salads. The spinach salad with fresh raspberry vinaigrette could contain deadly toxins. On the other hand, I was allowed to have all the organ meats I could stand. I took the opportunity to get my fill of Ann Burrell's wonderful chicken liver pâté .

What Was Cooking Last Week

The weather was so cool this past week (we woke to temps in the 30s on a few mornings last week), I've been able to use the oven without having to turn on fans or even the AC. Today, it's cool and windy out while our apartment is very cozy with the scent of turkey soup in the air. Thus, last week I was in prep and cooking paradise. And I had a new implement in my arsenal. I bought a proper chef's knife from the Giada DeLaurentiis collection. It was very efficient and extremely scary to have such a sharp implement in my hands. I had to re-learn my hand positions and technique for the increased sharpness. I set up my sitting down chopping station and spent a couple of hours whacking away while looking at cooking shows I've seen a dozen times. Delightful, it was. I bagged the veg and spread the actual cooking out over a couple of days, so I wouldn't tax myself. I think spreading it out made the food come out better. I spent more time on each dish. They turned out very well, especially the turkey and the sweet potato pie. I didn't make as many pies as I typically do, but these very few turned out exceedingly well. The turkey was amazingly flavorful and moist. And all of this was accomplished without a nap attack in front of the stove or while the guests were eating. I felt quite accomplished.

Year of Fun – Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is part of the Year of Fun, because it was wonderfully normal for us. Aside from a properly opulent array of dishes, we celebrated with Phil and Marie, alums of Borders Store #93 and our very good friends. As is our tradition, we shared war stories of store #93 with a horrified newcomer. Oh, how can the stories be, you may ask. It's a book store after all. I'll just share the punchlines, and you can be the judge.

  • And I asked him why he was naked and smoking a cigarette in the men's room. He said it relaxed him.

  • As if to draw a fine point on our argument, a homeless man soaked in gasoline with an open can of fuel and a match turned up in front of a tour of regional managers.

  • How did no one notice the guy taking a dump in front of the men's room door?

Ah, good times. It was an evening filled with great food and laughter – the kind of laughter where you start crying. I can't think of a better way to spend a holiday.

Updates

The writing is going at about a page a day. I can't complain. There will be a cookie making frenzy before the next round of chemo. I'm saving Craig vs jury duty for next week as I'll be seeing him this week.

Stay Tuned.



Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hail Organ Meats

Whether it was time or liver, my counts were pre-chemo normal. Thus, they proceeded with the next cycle. I thought I'd come out of it feeling less fatigued than I do. Alas, I've been a big sleepy head since Friday. So the tale of Craig vs Jury duty and other adventures will have to wait until next week.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ai No Kasabi, Fanfic and Inspirational Annoyances

Way back in the day when I was heavily into fandom and fanfiction, I once sought to settle a protracted flame war on one of my lists by co-writing a primer on BDSM. It was a well documented little tome written for writers and readers with a bent toward that kind of kink. The co-author and I felt we'd produced something that gave an author a grounding in reality that allowed for creativity in their plots. Chief amongst the rules was that the submissive was a willing participant in the relationship while not being unstable or under aged. Alas, all our efforts settled nothing in that particular flame war. Eventually, I left that list and that fandom because of the constant squabbling.

My lesson from the experience aside from squabbles produce little or no fiction, is that people will write things that scratch their own particular itch no matter how wrong or even disturbing that itch appears to other people. For a time, I tried responding to fiction I found confounding or even offensive with a story that would show those problems I have in sharp relief then mock them. No one noticed. I mean, the stories would go over well, but no one got why I originally wrote the story. I'm used to that. I once wrote a piece that was so full of references from The Simpsons, it could have been a script from the show. No one noticed. Whatever.

Inspirational Annoyances

Then, I decided to do like Joe Haldeman when he wrote The Forever War . He wrote the first novel in response to Starship Troopers . Thus, my career in erotic fiction largely stems from being annoyed at something I read at some point in time. This even applies to Demon Under Glass to some extent. I've published stories about Simon and Joe that I didn't agree with while wearing my Editirx hat. No, I'm not going to go into the minutia of what I didn't agree with or to what degree. If you've followed the Delphi List for any length of time, it's fairly clear what my point of view on those characters and who they are and are not. I even wrote a non-canonical story, Identities, for one of the collections to show how I would throw Joe and Simon together romantically as a response to similar stories. But annoyance cannot fuel an entire novel. What's been happening is I get the spark from an annoyance but at the end of many weeks and hundreds of pages, My characters have taken on a life of their own in a universe of my own creation, much like The Forever War. Sometimes, I even lose track of what originally caused me to write the danged thing because I've become caught up in who the characters and their worlds evolve into being.

Why am I bringing this up? Don't I already have four charismatic male characters whispering in my ear for attention? And aren't I almost too fatigued to write more that a page every few days? Why yes, I am. So, of course, I have a whole other novel barging into my brain looking for attention. This began with a series of Japanese novels and an OVA (mini-series) called Ai No Kusabi Or The Space Between. It's a riveting series that scratched many of my itches. However, the internal contradictions in the novels and OVA and the ending made me absolutely nuts. I won't detail them lest someone here wants to read for themselves. Everything is in the Wiki link. Strangely, I haven't read much of the fanfiction. It's not easy to find, for one. And for two, the pairings I've found have made me run in the opposite direction. It's clear to me that most of the fanfiction I've found has been about putting pretty people together and very much not about who the characters actually are. I was annoyed enough from the original novel and OVA. I didn't need to get more vexed.

Out of all of this, Ensnared was born, and Darius and Andreas joined the men rattling around my brain seeking my attention. Both this book and the Soldiers book are moving at the same pace. I fit my latest Demon Under Glass story in between them. I suppose Simon is getting the most attention overall as he is in the Soldiers book and the short story. He would like it that way. This particular story is one I've wanted to write about Joe and Simon for quite a while. It's running longer than expected. I'm sure Simon likes that as well.

As for Ensnared, it's set in a post apocalypse Earth well into the future. The world that arose from the ashes has a strong caste system and, despite the existence of government and law, is truly ruled by what had been an underworld gang that has existed since the disaster that destroyed the original civilization. The Cosimo or Cosi are run by Darius Galatea. One night he has a near scandalous encounter with Andreas Hesper, an underworld Crew leader who has dealt with the Cosi often but never met Darius. At the same time as this relationship is brewing, someone with a lot of money and power is trying to have Andreas killed. When he discovers that he is not safe anywhere in his own territory, Andreas reaches out to Darius for help. The price is a year of service as Darius' Damian or tame plaything. The answer to the mystery not only turns the caste system on its ear, it threatens the growing attachment between the two men.


Here is an excerpt:


The morning brought no answers for Andreas. He couldn't stay in the hotel another night. Someone would tip his pursuers soon. That would make other hotels in the area out of the question. Andreas was running out of options. He decided to take a risk. He went to the communications console and put in a call to Cosimo Tower. The receptionist was beautiful but very snotty when she got a look at Andreas, but he insisted that Lord Galatea would speak to him. She all but rolled her eyes when she put him on hold. He prayed she hadn't hung up on him. Seconds later, Darius was on the screen.

“Forgive my intrusion on your day, milord.”

“Darius. Have you forgotten?” Darius asked mildly.

“No. It's just that I missed being killed last night,” Andreas replied. “Whoever is after me has a lot of money, and I'm running out of places to hide.”

“Do you still have the pass to Amara?”

“Yes.”

“Come to me immediately,” Darius said. “How close are you to the border?”

“I'm just on the other side at Octavius checkpoint.”

“Get across the border. My security will meet you there.”

“Thank you, Darius.”

“It will be my pleasure. Move now.”

The screen blinked out. Andreas threw on his clothes and jacket, checked to make sure he still had the pass and the paperwork from the professor. At the last minute, Andreas decided to take the back stairs that led directly to the garage – the preferred method for Elite guests to leave. Just as the door to the landing closed, Andreas heard the elevator ping. Then there was running down the corridor toward his room. Andreas ran down the rest of the stairs. He figured that they would have broken down the door and found him gone just as he swung onto the motorcycle. As he peeled out of the garage, Andreas saw that there were two black vans parked across from the hotel. One still had men in it. They spotted him as he roared toward the checkpoint. There would be no time to clear the pass. He could still be attacked while at the checkpoint itself as it was considered part of No Man's Land. Andreas gunned the engine and jumped the barrier at the checkpoint. The police would be on him before he could get much further. He just prayed that they wouldn't shoot first.

Patrol cars barreled onto the scene just as the black vans smashed their way through the checkpoint. One police car blocked Andreas from moving forward while another got between him and the black vans that were still advancing. Andreas shut down his engine and put his hands on his head. The black vans stopped, but the occupants filed out and drew weapons. Andreas was still not safe. Cops on both side of the border were not known for honesty. He held his breath waiting for the 'stray' shot that would end his life.

Suddenly, a phalanx of sleek, powerful vehicles appeared blocking the vans and the police from Andreas.

“Relax, Andreas,” a voice said from behind him.

Andreas put his hands down and removed his helmet. Darius was walking toward him with the air of a man in full command of a situation. His beautifully long, silken hair gently stirred in the breeze. His eyes were covered by sunglasses, making his face look cold. Andreas wondered if he should be worried as he came very close. Somehow, he found the courage to get off the bike and face him.

“What happens now?” Andreas asked trying not to tremble.

Darius removed his sunglasses and gazed warmly at Andreas.

“I will offer you my protection in my home while this contract on you is investigated,” Darius said. “It is obvious that the only way you will be completely safe is in my custody.”

“I can't argue that,” Andreas said. “But what do you want in exchange for this protection? I don't have very much.”

Darius smiled at him. It was a beautifully predatory smile that sent a chill down his spine.

“I want you, Andreas. Wasn't that clear the other night?”

“You want me...as a lover?”

Darius shook his head. The smile, like his eyes, grew hotter.

“We will be lovers, but that isn't enough for me, exquisite Andreas,” he said softly. “I want you to be my Dami. I want to own you body, mind and will for at least a year.”

Andreas felt like the ground dropped from beneath his feet. His body was reacting even as his mind was rebelling. He wanted Darius like he'd never wanted anyone before, but could he give himself so completely to someone he barely knew? Could he risk turning him down? What would he become if he accepted?

“Trust me, Andreas, and submit to me completely. Now.”

That voice made him hard and weakened everything that was trying to fight this. His final thought before he spoke was that Viktor would never let him hear the end of it.

“Yes, Darius,” Andreas said softly as he met the Cosi's gaze. “I will be your Dami. I submit.”

“Good,” he murmured taking Andreas by the hand.

They threaded their way through the vehicles until they could see the would be hit squad. They were quite safe as the Cosi security team outgunned them and were on a hair trigger for any movement. Andreas couldn't believe that they remained with all that firepower and the police still there. How much were these guys being paid or what were they facing if they failed?

“Attention,” Darius said in a booming and commanding voice. “Andreas Hesper is under my protection from now hence. He is my property and as such, you will have to take on the Cosi and me to get to him.”

Andreas inhaled sharply causing Darius to turn toward him. The Cosi's eyes were hot as he dropped Andreas' hand to grab him by the hair at the back of his head. Finally, those full, firm lips were on his then that tongue was pushing inside his mouth, claiming him more forcefully than words could. The kiss was voracious and demanding. Andreas responded even as his knees weakened and he sagged against the larger man. Darius lifted his head and smiled down at him.

“Yes, Andreas. You are mine,” he murmured.

The hit squad peeled off back across the border. The police also departed.

“I'll have the motorcycle brought to my garage,” Darius said. “Come with me. We're going to my home. I think you've had enough today.”

Andreas looked at him gratefully then followed wordlessly to the private car that waited just beyond the perimeter. Darius guided a then shell shocked Andreas into the car then buckled him in.

“Try to relax, Andreas,” Darius murmured. “My staff is working on their connections in Kacia and beyond. And with you out of harm's way, your Crew can focus on finding out who is behind all of this.”

“Why did you let them go?”

“They are little fish who probably only know a low level go-between,” Darius said. “We need to find out where this money is coming from.”

“And letting them go means whoever hired them knows that the Cosi are involved,” Andreas said. “What if they back off?”

“Doubtful,” Darius replied. “They kept coming despite our inquiries, and they crossed into Amara and faced off against the police.”

“Yeah,” Andreas sighed.

“This is all very inconvenient for me,” Darius said. “I had plans where you are concerned.”

“No worries, I've got a good handle on the wine gig,” Andreas assured him. “I think the research for it saved my life yesterday, because I wasn't anywhere anyone would expect.”

“That's good to hear, but I meant it was inconvenient for my seduction of you,” Darius said.

“But you got me to be your Dami in less than 48 hours.”

“I would have preferred to draw out the dance and have you walk into the arrangement – not run into it,” Darius said.

Andreas found himself exasperated and amused.

“But you have me.”

“I have your body,” Darius countered. “But your mind is in several different places. As it is, I'll have to feed you and see that you've made contact with your crew and otherwise relax you until I can have you.”

“You're going to let me have contact with my crew?”

“Of course,” Darius replied. “You will still run your crew. Your mind is too agile to remain completely idle, and you have a job to complete.”

“Why didn't you tell me that straight away?”

Darius glanced at him with that predatory smile. “I wanted your surrender to be absolute. No conditions. No haggling.”

“You wanted my trust.”

“I must have your trust.”

“And all of this firepower and effort are ultimately aimed at your own pleasure,” Andreas chuckled. “Isn't that a little self absorbed?”

“Not at all,” Darius replied. “If I am allowed my pleasures, I am relaxed. If I am relaxed, I am better at my work.”

“So the fate of the world depends on your orgasms?” Andreas asked incredulously.

Darius laughed. “Well, yes. You are a cheeky one. I can't wait to train you.”

Andreas smiled his most winning smile. “I don't know if that can be trained away. Many have tried.”

“We'll see,” Darius murmured.


Updates

Things are still moving slowly according to my energy levels.



Stay tuned.

Thanksgiving Kitchen Therapy and Pulled Pork

Thanks again for all the kind notes, prayers and well wishes. I think I've bounced back. I know I feel way better than I did two weeks ago. I'm not up for any Mixed Martial Arts matches or cliff diving, but then, I wasn't able to do those at my healthiest. Those are crazy ideas. I have been able to do my walking for exercise, and, thankfully, I am back in the kitchen for some much needed therapy. I'm still not getting a lot done otherwise – this is the most writing I've finished in weeks. I am working though not much is making it through the keyboard. But more on that later. The point is that my brain and my motor skills are communicating once more.

Thanksgiving Kitchen Therapy

This is a great time of year for someone who enjoys kitchen therapy. Even though I'm not throwing dinners that require table and chair rentals, I will always cook a Thanksgiving meal of some sort. That meal involves a lot of procedures that are almost meditative in quality. I always liked chopping things and mixing things. I really miss the 'hen talk' between my mother and her sisters while we worked. When I moved out here, I used to call my one remaining Aunt and talk to her while we both prepped our meals. Now, I have two food networks to watch while I work. There is no family gossip to be agog over, by the meditative quality remains. I was particularly jazzed to find some really pretty produce at the market along with a hefty supply of fresh turkey wings. Why am I doing this so early, you may ask. It's not entirely because of the fatigue associated with chemo (though that's a good reason). I always tended to start prep on things that can be made and frozen like turkey stock and pie dough early because of my work schedule. The sanest way to tackle a holiday feast is to break it down into parts that can be done ahead. If I've timed everything well, there are very few dishes that I have to make on Thanksgiving day. And no one is the wiser. As long as there are sandwich makings and pie, Jon pretty much doesn't care what else is happening. Speaking of pies, I'll be making the pie doughs tomorrow and freezing them. They aren't difficult to do especially with a food processor; however, things do tend to go wrong when pressed for time or doing too much at once.

I also lucked out at the market on pork shoulder. There was a spectacular sale going on. I have a rub that I came up with that isn't barbecue. I substitute the heat and the sweet with Herbes de Provence, so it's a more herb-y pulled pork than barbecue. I tend to prefer cooking pork shoulder that way to automatically making it barbecue. I like to have it in a sandwich with spicy mustard or as the main part of an entree with a rich gravy. The herb pork shoulder gives me many more options with meals.

And no worries. The stock and the pie dough ate the extent of my cooking ambitions this weekend. That and a steak sandwich. I really want one of those.

In part two of this blog, I will be discussing my writing. This will include rants from extreme nerdom and some very dark themes.

You've been warned.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Blood, Craig, Al Qaeda and Updates

I'm not sure where the week went. I didn't really do a whole lot. First, there was the heat. One morning at 6 am, it was 72 degrees. Needless to say that by noon I was wondering if humans could actually roast while waiting for a bus. Unfortunately, I had to go out for my various pokings and proddings and breathe the molten air. These few outings were all I could manage. I think I've written a grand total of three pages for the week. That's a paltry output considering how much is going through my mind. But that's what a low blood count gets you. And I wasn't being particularly brave about chemo being postponed this week. I really felt like crap warmed over. I was fairly certain that I'd end up being admitted from side effects (I barely avoided it during the last cycle). Believe me, I was grateful for the break. I don't like feeling so weak and tired. The days seem to drag by which is why I'm surprised that it's already Sunday.

Craig vs Al Qaeda

It seems there is an Al Qaeda sponsored magazine on Archive.org. So naturally, Craig has decided to poke at it with a stick. Thus far, he's praised them on their efforts to build their homoerotic death cult. That's resulted in the expected threats against him. The English is so bad though that he can't figure out if they want to re-circumsize him or behead him. I told him that I was fairly certain it was the latter. He's also trying to translate some of the replies. It's a lot of Arabic with his name in English sprinkled throughout. Patriotism comes in many forms, I suppose. And he is having a good time. Meanwhile, the garden is going to seed. In other Craig news, I think he's finally decided to blog. I'm not sure if the blog will be about his life or a random collection of rants against the Dutch. No one but Craig knows. I believe it's better that way.

Updates

There isn't much to report as I haven't been getting a lot of writing done. I know where the books are going as I have outlines for each that are about 30 pages long. Getting there has just been slow. The big new development is that I may do my own artwork for both books. Because what else would a person with fine motor skill issues do – take up sketching for the first time in decades, what else? That's not true. I did the character costume studies for the Privateers short because the prospective designers had never heard of low budget. Blind fury can really get those creative juices flowing. It's much the same reason for me sharpening my pencils now. I just can't justify the cost of an illustrator for the books right now. Luckily, I'm married to a man with an art degree and absolutely no guile. He'll let me know if the artwork passes muster – not matter the risks to his personal safety. Hopefully, I'll have an excerpt for next week.


Stay tuned.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Chicken Destiny, NaNoWriMo and Updates

Thanks for all of the messages of well wishes. It's been an interesting couple of weeks. Considering the impressive list of what could be going on with side effects, I'm still getting off relatively easily, so I'm focusing on that – when I'm awake enough to focus.

Chicken Destiny

I seem to be destined to roast a chicken today. This was the subject of many of the cooking programs last week. I was told on one that Julia Child could judge how good a cook someone was by their roast chicken. That's sort of normal as it is a kitchen basic. But roasting chickens were turning up in the books I was reading last week. That was a little weird. And then chickens were on sale at my favorite market for $.67 a pound. At that point, the cosmos is telling me to roast a chicken. Of course, while I'm massaging a chicken with a big wad of soft butter, you get a lot of phone calls. I had to do the big, surgeon level hand wash about a half a dozen times before I got the bird into the oven..Incidentally, I found that chicken fat and butter leave the hands very soft even after frequent hand washings. I'm not sure of how Julia would judge my chicken, but it and the gravy were quite tasty.


I'm still planning on making big things like croissants and puff pastry, but I have no idea when. It's taking me longer to bounce back after a chemo cycle. And in a couple of weeks, I'll have to do my ramp up to Thanksgiving dinner (turkey stock must be made and I do pies a few days in advance). So, what I've done is make sure that I have all the ingredients on hand for a high energy day when I can have a whack at one of the recipes. And I mean whack literally. In both recipes, one has to beat a mound of butter into a thin square before incorporating it into the dough. Hopefully, I won't alarm the neighbors. And on the cookie front, we have one more cookie we need to experiment with. Our attempt at oatmeal failed miserably last year. I'm still puzzled as to why. We have some new recipes that we're going to try. Meanwhile, all the cookie packaging I ordered is here.

Deb vs NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month is upon us again. And this year, I simply must speak up. While my number one bit of advice to people who aspire to be writers is to write, I have deeply conflicted feelings about this effort. The Wiki on the project is very upbeat and talks about how many words are written. My experience is through the people on the professional writing list I'm on and the fanfiction lists I still haunt. I'm seeing dozens of writers torturing themselves over what they aren't getting done. By the end of the month, many are so demoralized that they don't write at all for weeks. This doesn't strike me as a positive exercise. The only way a writer should be subject to that kind of hard deadline is if they're being paid. If a writer insists on doing this, ignore the deadline and just enjoy the experience of workshopping with a bunch of writers in the same both. He, see what you have at the end and build on it. Only compete with yourself – don't use other writer's progress as a yardstick. Meanwhile, I'm staying off all of my writing lists until mid-December.


Updates

Speaking of writing, I'm working on the things that require the least amount of energy, the novels. There are two that I'm bouncing between using the path of leas resistance. I hadn't planned on doing two. The second one sort of sprung from nowhere and wouldn't go away. So my Soldiers have some competition. I'll go into who they are and why they popped into my brain when I'm closer to finishing. I hope to have another Soldier's excerpt soon. As for the shoots, everyone involved is quite understanding and ready to move forward when I am.

Stay Tuned.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Blog Break

I have to take off this week. Chemo side effects are making me very tired thus hampering what wit I have left. hopefully, I'll be posting during the week. Otherwise, I should be posting next Sunday.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Knuckle Hunting, Chick Lit and Updates

Making My Bones

Well, it's more hunting for bones. At the risk of sounding like Andy Rooney, what happened to the neighborhood butcher? I used to live in places that had at least one – sometimes more. I can't find any anymore and supermarkets are, in general, a poor substitute. Almost off the meat is sealed in little Styrofoam trays. There is very little in the way of variety in the fresh meat case. It seems like when I really got into cooking with the best available ingredients, more and more meat comes from a factory. It may have always come from a factory, but when it's all pre-sealed like that, it's really hard to ignore. And then there are the lack of butchers. I've often wondered where Food Network chef Giada Dilaurentiis, the only one that is local to me, is finding these butchers that are willing to de-bone things. I know she shops at one chain that I use. I recognize the milk. I can't get the meat guys there to respond to that little buzzer and explain the travesty I see in the meat cases let alone filet something. The one market I like the best for meat and fish (they do have meat guys I can talk to and even watch through a little window), Gelson's Market in Marina del Rey, wigged me out last week by not having any veal or beef knuckles for stock. They always had them. I stopped by a few times last week to no avail. Seems I hadn't picked the right days to go. Fiddlesticks. I had to fall back to my relative sure thing – the ethnic market that's close but still sort of hard for me to get to. I scored not only knuckles (beef not veal) but also the coveted chicken feet (those weird Jon out to no end, but they make excellent stock). The weather has been cool and rainy with more promised for the week (Yes, the local weatherfolk are running amok. I think they are particularly out of sorts because many failed to predict the rain that happened on Friday). Now is the time to make more stock. I think it's even time for some big, one pot meals like coq au vin and beef bourguignon. It being a chemo week, it's nice to have food that are just heat through and dish out. Making the stock was soothing as always. The steam took the chill out of the apartment and made it smell savory and soothing. I can't wait to start searing the meat for my one pot wonders.

This week I've returned to my cooking basics to get back up to speed again. I'd been cooking so infrequently of late that my confidence for trying something really ambitious had become daunting. My first foray into the familiar was an apple pie. Of course, Jon was very much in favor of that foray. I even did a twist on the recipe I had been using by replacing white sugar for brown in the filling. We really liked the result. The sweetness had more depth and went well with the tartness of the apples. I don't know why I hadn't thought of that sooner. Brown sugar goes well with apples. Next week, I'm really planning on trying to make Madeleines and perhaps even croissants.


Craig vs Farming

The epic home gardening project did not go well for Craig. The mutant summer weather and a number of other oddities conspired to keep him from a bumper crop of corn and tomatoes. First there was the disappearance of the thousand lady bugs. I'm not sure how the ladybugs were supposed to stay in one area once released, but Craig seemed to think they would. Alas, the flew the coop, so to speak. The skunk wasn't really a problem, He just made working the garden a bit of a challenge. In addition to ladybug issues, there was a problem with bees not showing up until this past week, too late to pollinate the corn and tomatoes. I'm not sure that had the bees and ladybugs cooperated the results would be any different. It just didn't get hot enough in the Palisades this spring and summer to grow those vegetables. I'm really not sure why he was so bent on growing corn. It reminded me of Oliver Wendell Douglas on Green Acres. I believe the corn turned out the same as his. I believe he's plowing it all under until next spring. Hopefully, the bees and ladybugs will be cooperating.


Deb vs Chick Lit

My forays into Food Fiction have led to delving once again into Chick Lit. I suppose when women are writing about life and problems, food must drift into the picture. Julie and Julia struck me more as Chick Lit than just Food Fiction. Ann Mah's Kitchen Chinese certainly was more the former than the latter. While I loved Julie and Julia and admired Kitchen Chinese, I do not have an easy relationship with Chick Lit. Most of what I've read has been dreadful. The women all seem to be young, attractive fact checkers whose lives implode through no fault of their own. Somehow, they end up either in an exotic locale where they can reinvent themselves or they stumble into a rarefied circle where she discovers her inner whatever. I suppose the difficulty is in crafting a protagonists one can empathize with, Where the books have failed for me, it is always with the protagonist. Some of these women have made me want to shout 'stop whining, you lazy cow and grow a backbone.' I never believe that this sort of heroine solves her problems and triumphs. I am certain that ten pages after the book ends she'll be diving head first into another vat of chocolate ice cream with a spoon. Why do I read them to the end? I wish I knew. I have this tick that once I begin a story, I have to know the end. I've watched Jon play video games that make me crazy because I simply have to see the story play out. It's danged irritating. For now, I'm abandoning food fiction for memoirs. That way, I can avoid further irritation.


Updates

I've been writing but not what I'm supposed to be writing. I got a wild hair in recent weeks and it wouldn't leave me alone until there was a thirty page outline. Now, I can get back to what I'm supposed to be doing. I think I can make up the time lost on the solders book because the scenes have been playing in my head all the while I was writing this other thing. It will be a few weeks before I put up another excerpt, because I'm finishing a story for the latest Demonspawn anthology. I've been writing with music a lot lately where I never have before. I find I listen to a lot of Yoko Kano (she gets amazingly funky with that anime music) while writing the current Soldiers book though I did write a major fight scene while listening to Petula Clark's Downtown. And, no, I can't really explain that. The thirty page outline was written while listening exclusively to Sade. That one I understand as the piece has the same sensuality tinged with sadness. I still don't write to music with the Demon Under Glass stories. Again, I'm not sure why. Medical issues aside, I've been having trouble with my latest Demon story. This one is more slash than the last and I'm hearing a persistent voice when I'm writing Joe that's going 'Here we go. Break out the lube.' Sometimes, it's good to know an actor well. You're familiar with their choices and the kind of dialogue they're comfy with. The scenes come to life. But sometimes a particularly loud voice can be a bit distracting especially if the interaction has been recent. But I digress. The writing is coming along at an agreeable pace in spite of distractions. The film projects are working their way through the SAG signatory process. I'm hopeful that will be finished this week. The announcement has to wait at least another week. Things aren't quite in place yet.

Stay tuned.




Sunday, October 10, 2010

Spicy Cravings and Anti-Social Networking

Spicy Cravings

I have a hankering for chili with black beans today. Of course, the weather isn't cooperating. Earlier this week, it was unusually cool and raining like crazy. The justifiably freaked out weatherfolk deemed it The October Storm complete with scary graphics. Naturally, because it was LA in the rain, traffic ground to a halt. The 20 minute commute to the hospital stretched to nearly two hours one way. From the traffic, it should have been a blizzard. Unfortunately, I wasn't in the mood to cook chili earlier in the week. There were a lot of nap attacks. Actually, there are a lot of nap attacks. I've had two trying to write this blog. Now the weather is back to being warm though not the crazy hot of two Mondays ago. There isn't enough hyperbole in the language to talk about a 113 degree day. Being a dry heat did not help in the least. Still, it's a little toasty today to have a big pot of food simmering away. Still, I crave what I crave. And there is something soothing about the scent of cumin wafting through the room. I'll also be saved from making dinner tomorrow. But this isn't the weird part of the cravings. I really want some fresh baked apple pie, too. How strange is that? [No, I'm not expecting anything other than the nd of chemo in a month and a half. Life hasn't gotten that exciting]. I suppose that cinnamon has the same warm kind of scent as cumin. Some recipes for chili actually call for a touch of cinnamon. Perhaps those spices are on a similar flavor palate. I don't think I'll pull off the pie today. I'm looking at the pile of apple peeling that would be involved, and that's making me very tired. Throw in making the dough and it's officially an ordeal. The chili is far simpler. I wonder what I'll crave next.


Social Networking vs Actually Socializing

I wasn't going to say anything about this phenomena, because I didn't want to sound like an old fogey. But the more I thought about it, the more it became clear that something had to be said. The photo conundrum was not the only strangeness at the Carpica screening. The event was first announced on Twitter and Facebook, and it was heavily promoted on these social networks. The idea was to get the subject of Caprica trending so that new viewers will tune in and increase the chances that the show would be renewed. Since only 500 people could fit in the theater, tweeting during the event was encouraged. The large view screens throughout the room were carrying the tweets from the audience. The tweets were going out in a big, frenetic flurry. Some tweets were very helpful. That's how I found out about the cash bar and, more importantly, when Ron Moore was in the room. But what was very strange to me was that most of the audience preferred tweeting about Ron and the rest of the producers and cast being in the room rather than actually interacting with them. I mean, all the producers and three of the leads were standing just across the room waiting to interact with their fans while the fans were looking at their tweets go by. I know that I'm a little long in the tooth, but that seems a tad silly to me. The affable, nicely dressed guy next to us was reporting that we were talking to Ron Moore and Jane Espenson. I asked him if he had questions for them. He did and they were some good ones, but he wouldn't go over. I knew he wouldn't have gotten answers to some of them, but it's always entertaining listening to the way Ron doesn't answer questions. I have a Twitter account (mostly to promote the blog and chat with chefs) and had been kibitzing with Jane for some time, but given an opportunity, I'd rather actually talk to the person. I mean, wouldn't 'Just spoke to Ron Moore' make a more impressive tweet than 'just saw Ron Moore standing within feet of me'? Seriously! Everyone there seemed jazzed that their favorite actors from the show were present and mingling. Yet, there was very little mingling. Just a whole lot of tweeting. Call me a fogey, but I just don't get it.

Updates

There are none this week but I expect some big ones next week. The writing continues at a satisfactory pace. The film projects are still on track. I'll be blogging about more food fic and my view of chick lit next week if my energy holds up.

Stay tuned.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Misadventures, Caprica and Updates

Last week could have gone better. I had an expected side effect from the chemo – severe acid indigestion. Considering the list of things that could be going wrong, this one isn't bad. Probably not, but since this whole adventure began with me having similar symptoms, I was quietly freaking out. That really doesn't help stomach acid. I was really out of sorts by the time Friday rolled around. Jon stayed home to look after me. That prompted Craig to call to find out where his work buddy was. In his words, Jon missed their playdate. I often forget with all of Craig's various shenanigans that he's a trained EMT. As soon as I explained why Jon was home, he told me I was going to the ER. An hour later, we were in his car laughing at who knows what. I was quite silly by the time I registered in the ER. From there, everything went well. I had a third Doc that week tell me I was in great shape save for side effects. I got shots of a stronger version of meds I was already taking along with something to calm me down. Three hours later, we were heading home, and I felt right as rain. To say I was relieved is a huge understatement. I would have been beyond bummed if they admitted me. As it was, I had lost so much time on my projects feeling bad. Jon lost time as well looking after me. I also didn't want anything to derail my treatment schedule. Fortunately, this was not the case. I just need to get my appetite back. That's coming along as well. Thanks again for all the well wishes.

Caprica and the Cannes Conundrum

As I said in the post yesterday, we were invited to a Caprica fan screening on Sunday evening at Universal Studios. Since the producers were coming, how could we not go? There is always a debate about whether to bring a camera to these sorts of things. On the one hand, I like to share my adventures with friends and family. On the other hand, Jon and I are often there more as interested colleagues than as fans. I have taken the odd photo because I get tired of not being believed about some of the adventures. This time, we wanted to take a camera. Jon has some thing going on with one of his soundtrack lists and Caprica. And I wanted a photo with Sasha Roiz as part of my Year of Fun (the reasons for that will be obvious in a few more lines). The invitation sort of settled the matter for us. In bold lettering, it forbade photos. The warning stated that people would be searched for recording equipment. I say it sort of settled the matter because such warnings were given on the tickets to the premiers at the Cannes Film Festival. We heeded these warnings despite risking not having any photos of ourselves at a premier at the freaking Cannes Film Festival. None of us wanted to risk not getting in to see the films. Yesterday, we didn't want to risk not getting into the screening. In Cannes, every freaking body had a camera in the line on the red carpet except us. Guess what happened last night? When I got home, I even saw a tweet from one of the actors there for people to post videos of the event on line. Arrrggghhhh!!!!

At any rate, photo conundrum aside, a good time was had by all. We got to talk to Ron Moore about his upcoming pilot on NBC and we were finally introduced to Jane Espenson and found out what she's been writing. We learned some very important things about what is and isn't going on with Caprica and got to see a rip snorting episode. Here is an excellent Re-Caprica of the show. It's a fast and funny intro to the show. Those who've never given it a chance should look at this. Those who have seen the show, will find it a real hoot. Go HERE. I did get my encounter with Sasha Roiz who was yummy in a silk knit sweater. The encounter was mercifully brief. I had it in my head to say that I admired his acting choices and the way he commanded any scene he was in whether speaking or not. However, I knew all that would come out of my mouth was Wahoo, zowie whoo-hoo yikes! The man is very tall. Jon and I figure he's one and a quarter Travis Willinghams (actors who are over 6 foot 5) from The Gunslinger. There is something about that sort of tall, dark and compelling man who makes me feel short that makes me all silly until I get to know them. And, like Travis, I really do admire his work and hope to work with him some time soon.(I'm not sure what you were thinking that I was thinking about) I could not come off as a swooning dim bulb at our first meeting. We had great fun and even left with a little bit of swag. Each guest was given a DK Eyewitness Travel Guide, Beyond Caprica: A Visitor's Pocket Guide to the Twelve Colonies. It is really nicely done. The entire experience was a fine counterpoint to a really rough week.

Updates

Jon is working on Garett Maggart's interview for DraggonTV.com, adding scenes from the film and the question cards. His current estimate is it will be live by Wednesday night. The books are coming along at a reasonable pace. The web series are also on schedule.

Stay Tuned

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Blog Delay -- Geek Emergency

My well ordered and strictly scheduled life was upended by a trip to the ER on Friday. I'm okay. The side effects to the chemo have begun to kick in, and I needed my meds adjusted. More on that later. The whole episode left Jon and I behind on everything we're working on. To top that off, we were invited to a screening of Caprica at Universal today. We can't not go to that. We'd lose our Geek creds. And I need something fun after a decidedly not fun week. I hope to have much to report upon our return and there are things from last week I want to share. I'll post sometime tomorrow with updates on everything.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wacky Weather, Food Fiction, 5-0 and Updates

Weird Weather

The Dopplergangers are in an uproar this week, and for once, I can't blame them. I actually wore a winter coat to one of my appointments this week. I didn't have to take it off until well into the afternoon when I was very close to home. This week, it's going to be 90 degrees at the beach with triple digits in the neighborhood where my hospital is located. Along with the heat and the fire danger, there will be bad air alerts. Groovy. I'm on all kinds of meds that restrict going out in sunlight. It's time to take out the big hat and paper parasol. I feel like one of Simon Molinar's offspring where sunlight is concerned. Inside won't be much fun either. I have cooking on my agenda that involves roasting tomatoes and garlic. Even with air conditioning, that will be very entertaining. Still, I have a craving for stuffed peppers. I have basil to use up in a roasted tomato sauce. And I needed to get a few dishes ahead for when the commute kicks my butt. More on that is detailed below. I'll just have to brave the heat for a while.


Foodie Fun

Those who know of my devotion (or obsession) with TV food shows may think that I am leaping upon recipes as hey are presented on the shows. Sometimes, I do. It's been fun sending photos of the dishes to the Facebook or Twitter pages of my favorite chefs. Yes, I get the most jazzed about responses from chefs on my social media outlets than the actors. But sometimes, I'm merely pointed in a direction by an episode's recipe. The stuffed peppers are a case in point. The recipe I was looking at called for bulgur wheat instead of rice. I was game to try it, because I really like bulgur wheat in tabouleh. However, Jon is not that keen on chewing wheat (despite being the carb guru that he is). He has such a thing about textures that I can't get him into risotto (even at its creamiest, he finds it too chewy). So, it's regular rice along with lamb in the pepper for this batch. This will be closer to what my mother used to make and matches my current cravings. I think I'll send the photo to the chef anyway.


This week was busy with appointments. I spent a lot of time traveling for very short visits or spent a short amount of time traveling only to wait hours for service. Each day brought a mix of joys and irritations. I know I was exhausted from a 15 minute blood test. That may be because of the two hour commute home that followed. These vast patches of time gave me the opportunity to finish my first foray into food fiction (fiction where food is a main theme). The book I happened to devour was The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister .I had no idea that there was a category for food fiction. I mean, here's a fiction that is right up my alley and I had no idea that it existed. Follow the link to Ms Bauermeister's lovely work. I won't spoil it be describing every detail here. It should unfold for the next reader as it did for me and be a source of absolute delight.

Exposure to this sumptuously written prose served as a timely reminder as to why I write some of the fiction that I write. There is even a new term for that – or it may not be new. Who knows? – anyway, it's called Romantica or Romantic Erotica. Alas, there are no wiki entries for that or food fiction yet. Where was I? Ah yes, I like to write in great loving detail about greatly detailed loving. Of late, I've been obsessing about page count and getting the plot down while I'm lucid and able that I sometimes forget to allow myself to get lost in the textures and scents and sounds involved in seduction. There are sounds to searing meats and there are wonderful scents from mushrooms browning. It's easy to remember to involve all the senses when cooking and eating. Reading food fiction reminded me that I loose all those senses when I am writing well. I'm loving the character work that is developing in all of the fiction that I am working on, but I was reminded while reading that very tasty novel to slow down even further and give the prose the texture, scents and tastes that it needs to really come alive. Sometimes I need to be reminded that the act of spinning the yarn is as enjoyable as having the book at the end. I was delightfully reminded of that through The School of Essential Ingredients. That, and I really want to cook some mushrooms. Hey, I could make some risotto with those – just for me.

My next adventures will be with Ann Mah's Kitchen Chinese and Anthony Bourdain's food related crime fiction. I'll let you know how that works out and what those books inspire.


Hawaii Five-O

Forget Mad Men as the big pop culture who-ha. The show reminds me of the Larry Tate Agency . And it's not just me. When I Googled Larry Tate for an image, I also got Mad Men in response to the search. Incidentally, the character Larry Tate should not be confused with the band, the Larry Tate Experience. Where was I? Oh, not fixating on Mad Men. After all, there is a remake of Hawaii Five-0 to be horrified over. Those who know me well know in what high esteem I hold this venerable police procedural – that pimp episode notwithstanding...or that disco episode. Five-O was a series of firsts. It was the first show to have profilers. It was the first to address delayed stress syndrome in soldiers. It was among the first to have ninjas. This was all while still in the 60s. It could be a gritty and dangerous and often clever show. Thus, I went into this new series with one eyebrow up to my hairline. Surprisingly, I didn't hate the pilot. It isn't really like the original. This version has something entirely different going on though it does seem to have it's own Wo Fat (Victor Hesse, played by James Marsters whom I adore but not as a Wo Fat)– one thing I thought the original could do without. Can Alex O'Loughlin take the mantle of Steve McGarrett? I'm not sure. I still think that David Caruso's Horatio Caine of CSI: Miami has been filling those shoes quite well. And even in the stylized violence of the Five-0 pilot, the entire team still didn't kill as many people as Caine did in the opening of the episode where he faced down the ill fated Mala Noche gang in Brazil. Will I keep watching? Probably. The show has an easy going style with a twisted sense of humor and an attractive cast. As long as it doesn't get too annoying, I'll go along for the ride.


Updates

The interviews from Demon Under Glass are finally getting under way. I did the first pass editing them last week. Jon is now adding some footage from the film to go with the actor's answers. We were just going to have a simple Q&A on film, but we've picked up a number of new viewers of the film who aren't as familiar with the history of the project and all of the backstories. Thus, Jon and I decided to have footage along with the actor responses. The first one may go up as early as tonight. We'll release them as they are finished. The web series are going according to schedule. We should be casting the remaining roles for Demon on the Run in a few weeks.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cooking Flip Out, Writing Surprises and Updates

Flipping Out in the Kitchen

I flipped a crepe on Wednesday. I was so excited that that little chef's maneuver didn't result in said crepe falling into the burner, catching fire and perhaps even exploding. I am not a food flipper. I've been avoiding it for years even as my cooking skills advanced. I am still a klutz in most parts of the house. That has been particularly true in the kitchen. As mentioned in a previous blog, my father was very wary of letting me come at him carrying hot food. (When he read that blog, he concurred and said this was still the case). But lately, Jon has been doing a lot of food flipping with his breakfast. He says no, but I think he was mocking me. He probably isn't, but it seemed that way. But I digress. I haven't told how I came to make the crepes, and what unfolded before the flip. I decided to make some short videos of my cooking for the family. I'd also decided that it was time for me to take on the crepe as my first step toward more complex doughs like puff pastry, croissants or baguettes. Naturally, I forget the liquid in the recipe. That resulted in a cloud of flour dust coming from the blender. Still, the batter came out looking right. I was really thrilled when the second crepe came out perfectly. The first one didn't, but everyone says the first one never does. When the fourth one was pulling away from the edges of the pan, I decided to risk a flip. One flick of the wrist later, I was applauding myself. I was so very tickled. Oh, and they tasted good, too. I made a raspberry and an apricot crepe for breakfast. So yummy!

Today is ground meat day. I have four kinds. Crazy, huh? Well, there is a logical explanation. I bought lamb to make a specific pasta dish a la Giada DiLaurentiis, Lamb Ragout. I also plan to stuff a couple of bell peppers with the lamb using bulgur instead of rice a la Melissa D'Arabian.I started using bulgur a while ago when I started making my own tabouleh. That reminds me that I have all the ingredients for tabouleh, so I may make that as well. The beef, pork and lamb are going to be whipped into meatballs and meatloaf for the freezer pantry. The freezer had gotten to be a bit bare. I like melanges of meat. They are great platforms for hiding all sorts of vegetation. I've taken to adding chopped spinach to meatballs along with the basil. I even add that to the marinara sauce. I also add finely diced zucchini or pureed butternut squash can go into a bolongnese sauce without a noticeable change in flavor. It's quite yummy actually. I think I might make that, too. Okay, enough with the food talk or I'll be cooking until midnight.


Writing Surprises

They weren't the bad surprise of 'Oh my hero is actually a big jerk' or 'okay, there is no way to make this plot make sense after all.' These surprises happen when a character suddenly speaks or acts in a way that was unexpected in a good way. This time it was Vincent Greven, protector of all he holds dear, in the Solders books. His irreverent moniker for Simon Molinar (Gramps) is just the beginning of how he expresses his antipathy for the Vampire. I was writing a benign scene of Rik and Vincent giving Molinar a tour of the Foundation when, out of nowhere, came this very calm observation by Vincent that the Vampire was going to test how much he could misbehave with the staff an the Benefactors in exchange for the information he carried about Delphi data and the fate of Joe McKay. When that observation proves to be correct, what follows is a quiet, calm and really deadly conversation between the Altereds and Molinar in which he finally realizes that he isn't the only killer in that building who is very much at ease with killing or permanently maiming. Vincent is very interested in seeing whether or not Simon can grow back an arm or a leg. The very calmness of how this conversation unfolds is enough to make Simon reconsider his actions and not s#%&t where he eats, or more aptly eat where he sleeps. I wasn't planning on such a conversation until much later and in an entirely different set of circumstances, but it made sense to establish the antagonism amidst the three characters immediately and it made sense that it would be Vincent taking the lead. He is very much the protector of his loved ones in this book. He's less vocal and more observant. All three men have been acting in ways I haven't expected. Simon is in a totally new element for me, writing wise, yet he is finding his own way and still being his smooth, wry self though there is a bit more sadness about him than there is in Demon Under Glass fiction. Perhaps I should be worrying that fictional characters have taken a life of their own in my head, but I find that far less terrifying than a blank page.


Updates

There are some great new videos up on DraggonTV.com. From our company, there is The Gunslinger. From The Privateers alum, Robert Lento, there are parts one and two of his very entertaining comic-adventure series Have Sword Will Travel (I'll Never Drink Again and The Vertruvian Forrest) and from Just a Spark Films, there is Without Hope. All are worth a look and a vote, if you please.


The cast interviews for Demon Under Glass should be up at some point tonight or tomorrow. Jon had to take over editing as the older program on my PC has gone crazy on me once again. The segments just need to be stitched together and rendered, so I'm optimistic that they will go up tonight rather than tomorrow.

I now have a SAG rep for the Web Series. Hopefully, I really am only a few pieces of paper away from signatory status on all projects (Demon Under Glass, 15%, Blood Oath and The Privateers). I've had over 150 applications for a production designer for the Privateers. Many of them have impressive resumes. A whole lot of people seem to be into Steam Punk.

More is happening this week.

Stay tuned.



Sunday, September 12, 2010

Food and Football and Updates Galore

Personal Update

Thanks to everyone who has sent well wishes and gentle inquiries about my health. I'm doing very well coming out of round three of chemo. This round was actually fun as I had the company of dear friend and writing comrade, Marie Lecrivain was along to keep me company. She even brought along snacks (I always approve of snacks). It was great to not only catch up with her but to laugh during chemo was a surprise and delight. I have been relatively side effect free. There is some pain now and then, and the fatigue can be astonishing in how quickly it can take a body down. Overall, though, I've been doing well. I'm keeping up with my walking and I'm still cooking. More on that later. I'm very excited about the upcoming week. It's the first one since coming home from my last surgery in April that I have absolutely no medical appointments. None!!! In recent weeks, I've had so many appointments that I toyed with getting a hotel room across from the hospital to save time on the commute. But not this week. My week is my own to do what deviltry I may. I am now laughing manically.

A quick note to my peeps out there. Feel free to call or set up a visit. Since healing from the surgery, I motor about really easily. Thus, most days when I don't have an appointment, I'm almost bored out of my mind. I welcome most interruptions. And don't worry, if I'm too tired, I'll let you know. So, give me a try. I'd really appreciate it. New peeps can e-mail me for further contact info.


Yes, I'm Ready

It's time for football. Today, I will figure out if a) I can watch the Eagles without half a vat of wine in my gullet, b) if that trade of Donovan McNabb to the Redskins was a really stupid idea and c) if chemo will make my language during games better or worse. Still, I am very pleased and excited to have football back. I tried the international version during the World Cup. I still don't get it. Currently, I'm watching a delightfully exciting series of plays that involved a mid-air enzone interception. I hate the team involved, but I have to admit that it was an awesome play. You just don't see that in soccer. Sorry, my international peeps. So, I'm looking forward to a season where the Eagles won't have me gnashing my teeth and rending my clothing while cursing my mindless loyalty. GO EAGLES!!!!

Dough is Me

As I mentioned in a blog a few weeks ago, I've decided to try some complex dough recipes. I'd love to dive right into puff pastry or croissants, but I am going to begin with the crepe. This is a deceptively simple dough that takes a bit of practice to get right. There is a demand for attention to detail and timing with making a proper crepe that will serve me well in taking on doughs with more steps. Now, this doesn't mean that every time I need puff pastry that I will just whip it up. After all, I still buy pre-made pie crusts (though not very often). Who knows, I may end up liking mine better than the pre-made stuff. I just know that I've reached a point in my cooking that I want to know who to make these doughs myself. I will be documenting the trauma, I mean, fun! Meanwhile, I'm trying some new veggie dishes with eggplant or aubergines, something I've hardly ever eaten let alone cooked (one of my parents didn't like the veg, so it wasn't a staple in our house). I've seen some very tasty recipes with it recently, so I'm going to have a go at it. A am finally going to start using my camcorder to capture some of these experiments. The films are mainly for my family to see that I am doing as well as I claim, but I'll put links up to them on this blog. I love sharing my cooking adventures and even my misadventures, but watching those competition shows like The Next Food Network Star have convinced me that I don't want to go for a cooking show. I think that kind of pressure would take away the fun of cooking for me. I will happily remain an amateur

Web Series Updates

My freedom from appointments gives me the opportunity to get the paperwork for the various projects processed by the various Guilds. Actually, I plan to email the forms today and deal with the fallout tomorrow. There is always something left unclear that has to be straightened out immediately under pain of never getting the signatory status. Though I'm not shooting all of the projects at once, we need to cast early for FX and other development issues. Smaller budgeted productions have to take longer time developing to have acceptable quality. The adage is time, money quality – pick two. If we can't have a lot of money, we'd rather take more time and get things done the way we'd like. Thus, we're filing for our signatories and casting long before we plan on shooting. The cool thing is that there will be a lot of behind the scenes stuff because of that early development. The first shoot planned exclusively for DraggonTV.com is the second episode of 15% in October. Our fist shoot date for Demon on the Run, the current title for the Demon Under Glass web Series (that may change) on November 12, 2010 (that may change as well). New shoots for Blood Oath and the long anticipated The Privateers will be in December and January respectively. Those are the plans right now.

Stay tuned!