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, March 07, 2010

Scripts and Blood and Sunday Gravy

This turned out to be an exciting week, creatively speaking. We had a meeting with an investor about a script that has long been on a back burner. It turned out that he didn't want mere dialogue tweaks but another concept entirely. One would think that I would find such a meeting highly irritating. Under normal circumstances, I probably would have. But the meeting topped off what was an odd and nearly whimsical day, so I think I was ready to roll with anything. Why Jon was so cooperative, I have absolutely no idea. Typically, a meeting that took that kind of turn would end with some sort of scorched earth statement on Jon's or my part and the relationship would have been destroyed before it began though we would have felt wholly justified. But considering what we've been coping with the last few months (a life or death issue), semantics over the direction of a script are far less important.

I spent my day at the soundstages again with a break to go to the hospital to get blood tests for surgery. I keep the mantra in my head that my Cancer Docs are among the best in their field in this great land (I found their seriously illustrious credentials on the Google, don't you know)as I stood in line with my paperwork with a couple dozen people in line with their paperwork. When a patient gets to the first set of windows, he or she is given a number to wait to be called to a second set of windows. Sometimes, the patient is also given a urine specimen cup to fill (hopefully, before their number is called). Luckily I didn't require one of those as I had contributed that specimen during my ER visit. I was given a number that had been called two minutes before I made it to the window. Fortunately, the nice phlebotomist waited for me to trundle over. I sat in front of her window, stuck my arm through the window and she syphoned a couple of vials of blood almost painlessly. I was on my way in less than a half an hour. Did I mention the orange jumpsuit clad prisoner with LA Sheriff escort? She was just ahead of me in the Conga line.

The speed of the tests left me a lot of free time at the soundstages to work on my script research. Not the script we were having the meeting about. This is the one Jon and I have been fighting about for months. The research really helped. We found out a lot about the lead in dispute that changed the direction for that character that neither of us expected but we could absolutely agree upon. Also, the research has yielded a plethora of great supporting characters – many of them women – that we hadn't expected. These discoveries have resulted in the script treatment all but writing itself. I just love it when writing surprises me. Later, as the time of the investor meeting approached, Marguerite, Jon and I found ourselves trapped in Ralph's chic downtown office in the dark. You see, there was a shoot going on just beyond the frosted glass double doors. It was a re-enactment of a police bullpen scene following the murder of rapper Biggie Smalls for some VH-1 crime show. The light switches were in the waiting room, but we couldn't use them even if we could reach them as the ceiling lights would have ruined the set lighting. And the set dresser apparently borrowed the office lamps. Thus, all we had was the eerie glow of Marguerite's laptop. And we couldn't talk because they were shooting with sound. It was such a goofy situation that I was left in a far better mood for the meeting than I would have been otherwise. Jon is now telling me that he was more of a director than a writer in that meeting and acted accordingly. Groovy. In any event, it looks like we have another film in the works (not at all the one we thought would be in the works) and we've finally broken through on the one we've been researching for so long. I'm in a very good mood, creatively.

Thursday Night Soup
This is from my Facebook Notes. You may skip ahead if you've read it.

It was good that I felt good creatively. On top of everything, I have a cold. And I have found that scratchy, raw throat is more annoying than the cancer symptoms. And I want soup, but I can just throw something in a pot and heat it up and have any sort of soup. I used to be able to do that. But that was before Anthony Bourdain barged into my life. He is the patron saint of properly simmered stock. He is ecstatic over flavorful aromatic broths. His cookbook berates the reader to take the time and care for the perfectly executed, unctuous stock. And now, I do just that. I make vats of stock almost weekly. This week, I'm out having used the last in the freezer for chicken gravy on Sunday. I was too tired to roast bones and veggies and wait six hours. But I couldn't open a can or a packet for soup either. Store bought soup is too thin and salty for me now. I managed a compromise. I had some chicken parts and some stock in a box (that's okay to have so long as I have homemade stuff as well). I poached the parts in the pre-made stock along with some aromatics and herbs and a head of garlic for a couple of hours. I always have soup noodles, so a few minutes more in the pot and Voila! It is passable chicken noodle soup. It was soothing to my throat and my sensibilities. My only concern now is how much is in that pot.

Sunday Gravy and Pretzel Knots

I'd never heard pasta sauce called gravy until I worked in a Center City Philly restaurant with South Philly Italian Americans. I was puzzled by the term. Our Northern Italian employers were outright annoyed by it. 'Tomato sauce is NOT gravy!' They would often shout when they caught servers ordering that way. They actually shouted about a lot of things. Sometimes they would have bread fights in the diningroom. But on this one issue, I actually thought the consternation was justified. There was no roux or meat juices involved, were there? The therm made no sense and thus vexed me. And then I started seeing the dish on the cooking shows. First was America's Test Kitchen that featured Sunday Gravy. The host and his chef explained that the gravy was, in fact, made by slow cooking meat on the bone along with tomatoes and red wine and other loveliness. I noted the recipe, but wasn't moved to make it until I saw Tyler Florence's version, Neopolitan Ragu, more than a year later. I changed his recipe a bit through. I can't make meatballs that big, for one. His were the size of softballs. I like little ones that I can put on a hoagie roll later. So, I made a few bigger ones and a lot of mini ones. The mini ones, I roasted in the oven. The bigger ones, I cooked in the sauce along with pork shoulder, pork neck bones and beef neck bones until the meat fell off the bone. By then, the sauce did look like gravy. It tastes just amazing – far more rich and savory than a marinara sauce. I can envision using that sauce for a great sub as well as on pasta, but the recipe yields a vat of meat sauce. I have to divide and share. Even with sharing, I'll have enough to freeze for many meals.

Meanwhile, we tried our hand at making pretzels from a Martha Stewart show recipe. They weren't bad. In fact, they were rather tasty, but not quite up to the level that we enjoyed in Philadelphia. We'll have to take some time to figure out where we went wrong and try again.

I'm to get my surgery date this week as well as find out if that meeting will result in making a film.

Stay tuned!

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