Welcome Gentle Readers

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

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Skunks, Funk, and Wee Willie Influences

Craig is having a battle with a skunk. It's after his corn and sunflowers. It seems that he must take a stand before planting the tomatoes. I hadn't realize that Craig had become Oliver Douglas. I suppose that tilling the land was a wonderfully benign hobby considering the mayhem he could be enjoying. However, I couldn't condone his plans for the ravenous skunk. Craig's lovely girlfriend wouldn't let him dispatch the one legged cricket. There was no way he would be allowed to take out a fur bearin' critter. My Father has extensive experience with gardening. I know he had run ins with gophers. I plan to consult him on the matter before Craig does something rash. Despite the critter problem, I have garden envy. All of this cooking has made me want to grow my own herbs at least. But even that is out of the question. Aside from being tiny, our abode is not much for natural light. We have no plants because of that. It's sad. And the courtyard is off limits to anything but passing through and swimming. But then, if I were gardening, I'd have to be weeding. I'm not in shape for that. I will update on the skunk war as information becomes available.

Summer Eats

As to what's cooking? Alas, there is not a lot going on right now. My energy level is still not what it was before the last surgery. And my appetite is still off most of the time. It actually took me a week to get through the Tastykakes and Federal soft pretzels my Brother and Sister-in-law brought along when they visited. Typically, I finish such delights in embarrassingly short order. I did manage to make a small bowl of potato salad to go with the oven barbecue I'm planning for today into tomorrow. I so enjoy food roasted over charcoal, but wrangling that grill is just not happening any time soon. I've read some good tips on making everything in the oven, and Dad gave me a few more. I'm thinking some chicken and ribs will work nicely. I'm even thinking of making my own barbecue sauce. And we have fresh corn locally grown – really! I have a selection of fresh melons sliced up as an appetizer. We're pretty well set. I had hoped to go to the movies over the holiday, but I don't think I'm up to that quite yet. I need to be able to recline and I never know when that need will arise. That's another reason why oven grilling works better for me right now. And both meats survive well in the leftover phase. I have more ambitious cooking/baking in the planning stages. If I have enough energy, there is a cake I really want to make in cupcake form. It's a cinnamon swirl pound cake with a coffee cake streusel topping that's also swirled throughout. I had something similar from a joint called the Corner Bakery . The recipe in The Cake Book was the closest I've run across to the ingredients – at least I think it does. I'll certainly let you know.

Lithuanian Funk

I saw this photo on Yahoo News and realized that aside from the Cannes Film Market, the time had come once again for the Eruovision Song Contest. Jon and I were fascinated by that the last time we were in Europe. In fact, watching the show almost made us miss our cab to a film premier. This group claimed to be representing Eastern European funk. I was doubtful. The transplant of Rap to Europe generally makes me sad. Some of it is probably good. I'm sad that it emigrated at all. I'm for contracting of the form not expansion. Funk is not easy to achieve. It seems even more difficult in disturbingly brief sequined shorts. But I'm game for exposure to any sort of musical funk. Inculto (check out the video of them competing) had a surprising sense of humor about their music and, I must admit, it was fairly funky. I'm not sure what George Clinton would make of them, but I felt they represented Lithuania very well. I'm not sure why they didn't win. I would have enjoyed seeing the competition. I like peeking into the pop culture of other countries. I get my fix on the internet where I can, but there is nothing like turning on the TV in a hotel room to a random channel and thinking 'what in the world?' Jon and I are feeling especially vexed and gypped to not get to see Law and Order: UK. It's a rare opportunity to directly compare the differences in crime dramas. The plots are taken directly from scripts early in the show's run in the US. We saw clips on Youtube and – geeks that we are – recognized the cases, but not how they were being handled. Alas, the deal for HULU UK fell through, so we don't know when we'll get the chance. But I digress. My hats off to you, Inculto, keep up the Funk. Though you didn't win, I hope we see more of you here.

Wee Willie Remembered

Speaking of local programming, I was saddened to learn that a giant in Philadelphia local TV, particularly to kids, had passed away. Bill Webber aka Wee Willie Webber hosted weekday afternoon cartoons on one of our UHF channels for many years. It was three and a half hours and ran for ten years. This man's shows is directly responsible for Jon and my fixation with Anime and was a profound influence on our bents in writing. He introduced Philly kids to shows like Speed Racer. I still say that the film was better than the general public realizes. But there were so many other shows that are less famous that I remember quite fondly and can still sing the opening themes. Among them and in no particular order: Astro Boy , Marine Boy. The theme for Marine Boy is especially insidious. I found it on Youtube for Craig because his Ohio born lady had never seen the show. He cursed me for a week. Click on it if you dare. There are so many more Animes I could mention, but the most interesting one for me is one Jon doesn't remember. Prince Planet had such a profound impact on my memory that I include a very obscure reference to it as an aspect to my lead character in The Privateers. It too has a very catchy theme song . Wee Willy Webber also introduced us to live action Japanese TV. The biggest among them was Ultraman. That show had cool uniforms, a cute girl and lots of big rubber monsters. It was awesome. And a reference from that show turned up in Soldier's Choice. I saw a couple of episodes when our former roommate ordered a video a few years back. Jon and I agree that it holds up now. And here is Ultraman's theme song. Not everything was good. I'm not sure why I even bothered with Gigantor. And I still don't quite know what Johnny Sakko and His Flying Robot were about. But they are available for your perusal on Hulu.com. All of the above is to say thank you to Wee Willie Webber. He changed my perspective ans the programs he introduced us to all those years ago still have the power to while away our time and stir our imaginations.

Under the Influence

Speaking of creative influences, the Hubs and I have finally stopped squabbling over the script we've been researching for more than a year. Jon had grown justifiably weary of films that use history as clip art. That is his term he used and he applies it to personal history as well as national. I agree with him for the most part. But I maintained that in this case, since there was no video or social media to record their meetings, we had to rely on anecdotal evidence that they met where and when they said they did and that events transpired the way they were stated. For a long while, that was making no headway. Heck, had I not found a note written in the hand of one of them about the event which prompted my interest in writing the script, we'd still be squabbling about doing it at all. Still, it took me reading copious biographies to convince Jon that neither character was truthful about events in their lives. And that they both tended to manipulate events in their relationships to fit whatever the current narrative of their lives was. Even the accounts in their letters must be regarded as somewhat unreliable. This discovery has prompted Jon to make this unreliable narrative a part of the script. Thus, we can manipulate the timeline somewhat. Memoirs are not always just the facts. The are written through the same prisms that influence fiction. Did that happen or am I remembering an episode of the Cosby Show? I find myself asking that question often as I write the memoir about my Mother. I suppose it could be worse. I could be remembering an episode of Mannix. That would be weird. At any rate, this research and from I've gleaned working at the Archive, pop culture influence has always blended with personal history to inform fiction and sometimes memoir.


All the writing is coming along at a satisfactory pace. I've had some setbacks connected to shooting the interviews for the re-release of Demon Under Glass. Namely, each one put me back on my butt for a few days afterward. I still tire really easily. Still, they were good sessions that revealed at lot about the actors' views of their characters and some surprising views on future material. I'll talk about my reaction when they run. Anything I say now is an absolute spoiler. We also recorded some voice overs for promos connected to DraggonTV.com. My thanks again to Garett Maggart, Owen Szabo, Matty Ferarro and Cynthia Quiles-del Rosario for taking the time on such short notice to help us. Owen and Cynthia rose to the occasion despite being completely unfamiliar with the material. We look forward to working with them again soon. Everything will be live on line in a few weeks. Then, most of the questions raised will be answered.

Stay Tuned.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mid Week Quickie

Not a real blog, per se, but I thought I'd share some things about the interview shoot yesterday. This one featured thoughts on Joe McKay by Garett Maggart and Ben Yarmall by Ray Proscia. In both cases, desipte knowing these actors more personally than most of the others from the shoot, I was surprised at some reactions to their characters and what they considered their best and favorite scenes. And as always with these two, I have a lot of footage that I can't put up for public consumption. That was a nice bit of crazy that I remember well.

As always, I have to be mindful of spoilers. This pair of interviews has a lot of them. So, I'll torture you gentle readers and viewers in a different way. Please note, this is my own handiwork 'editing' a much longer and more provocative piece. Thus, I can't exactly call it polished.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Late Steak, More Demons and Family Fun

There were birds chirping at three in the morning. They seemed to be startled as if they were wondering why they were up in the middle of the night. I wondered that, too. Though I was just getting up as opposed to my norm where I hadn't yet gone to sleep. Unfortunately, my brain isn't very nimble that early. I can't even read much than the social networking posts. Writing doesn't work for me until hours later in the day. So, I watch the telly. First, I search the guides of the various movie channels for something I haven't seen in a while. Before the last surgery, I re-discovered Margaret Rutherford's Jane Marple. And while I share my Maw-in-Law's assessment that she didn't quite work as Jane Marple (she was the toughest physical interpretation of the part), I rather enjoyed the films on their own. Usually though, I watch the cooking shows I've recorded over the weekend. And on days when I'm cooking, I prep my veg. Strangely, I focus well enough to handle a very sharp knife or mandolin, but not enough to read.

This week, the cooking decisions are a little difficult. My family is coming to town as I write this (Saturday). I suspect that we will be sharing a number of meals out. I don't have quite enough stamina to pull off entertaining, so I won't be cooking for them. Besides, this is their first visit to Los Angeles, they should see more than our tiny apartment. Since my family aren't huge beef eaters (they've alread expressed a keen interest in going to Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles), I know that making anything with beef will be a safe bet not to be repeated. Tgis blends nicely with my being intrigued with the idea of dishes involving pounding meat. You know, yaking a cheap cut of meat, pounding it thin and then braising it until very tender. One recipe, Braciole as I've always known it or Involtino as it's known in Italy, is a dish I've always enjoyed when I had it but it's an proved elusive on the menus of restaurants I've gone to. I also wonder if my enjoyment of the dish was connected to the evening I was having or to the tastiness of said dish.

In one instance, it was after seeing Patrick Stewart's A Christmas Carol on Broadway and involved one of the stranger evenings I've ever had in a restaurant. I was in New York's Little Italy for the first time. I was with the infamous Gideon and the restaurant was a little eccentric. The waitress had a screaming match with her boyfriend on the phone just after taking our order. She ran our on us sobbing all the way. The cook declared that the joint was closed after us. He brought our food out family style along with a big jug of home made house red. He also joined us – not in our meal but in hoisting a glass of wine (which he declared was on him). Naturally, he was hilarious. He and Gideon could have toured the comedy circuit. I laughed until I cried and the food tasted great. The only other time I tried it was in Atlantic City at a restaurant of the same name. That time, it was in the middle of a night devoted to dancing with very attractive young men. I don't remember much save for my feet were killing me on the ride back to Philly and I'd had a very good time. IN both instances, I have no clue if the food was as good as I recall. However, I trust both Anne Burrell and Giada DeLaurentiis who have made each version. Giada's is in my cookbook, thus I am compelled to give it a try.

The other dish is one my mother made frequently, but I've improved as I became a more experienced cook. That's pepper steak – not to be confused with Steak au Poivre, which I have at some point. The former involves thinly pounding a cheap cut of beef, cutting it into strips and stir fraying it with green and red bell peppers and other ingridents. It's wonderful over rice. My variant is to brown the beef than braise it for a short while in beef stock with a touch of soy sauce. When the liquid evaporates, I remove the beef, stir fry the veggies, add a little flour to make a roux, add more stock and return the beef. Jon likes beef to be fork tender, and I've found that stir frying alone doesn't get it there. I don't season anything with salt because of the soy sauce and the possibility of packaged beef stock (alas, I've had no time to make any). I've recently learned to add fresh ginger and slivers of fresh spinach and shredded carrots just before serving. It works nicely. And I can do my veg prep in the middle of the night.

Revisiting Demon

We had the first of the interviews for the online release of Demon Under Glass. I'd been living with the characters and their stories for s few weeks now while working on the web series, so I was prepared to revisit the concepts and issues behind the film. I was delighted to find how much it still resonated with these actors. It was also delightful to see them again. Being an artist is by necessity a selfish endeavor. We're always chasing new projects or working on our crafts or promoting what we've done. And we're all likely to still have day jobs. It's very difficult to keep up with each other when not working together. Add LA's expansive geography to the mix and it gets even more difficult. To quote the ever quotable Phil, you move to a new neighborhood in LA and risk never seeing anyone again. That's one of the many reasons I like the Facebook thing. I've reconnected with folks from most of my projects without breaking stride. Thus, it was wonderful to be in the same room with Jack Donner (Dr. Richard Bassett) and Scott Levy (Captain Steubbins). I won't spoil the interview here by detailing it. Suffice it to say that they remembered the characters well and gave some wonderful comments about them and how they viewed Simon and Joe McKay. Jack had some fascinating views on how he saw Bassett's lief post Delphi that I am likely to use in the web series. Scott's views reflected his real life experience as a US Marine and he was most interested in reprising the role to haunt the survivors in their nightmares. It was a real hoot. I can't wait to do the next wave this Wednesday.

Another fabulous thing that happened related to Demon Under Glass was finding a cadre of heretofore unknown fans. I knew there were quite a number out there. We'd have spikes in sales of the novelization of the film now and then. And there would be spikes in the blog hits when I talked about the film. But I finally chatted with some who had been doing some amazing things on youtube with our footage. This highly creative group even made 3D avatars of Simon and Joe that live in an online community (here are those links: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_D0JBdOm-Qc (one of the many fan videos); http://avatars.imvu.com/SimonMolinar (Simon's Avatar); http://avatars.imvu.com/DrJoeMcKay and http://avatars.imvu.com/DrJosephMcKay (links to two versions of Joe's avatar). It's all very flattering to see such hard work and creativity stem from something we made. I've also found that there are other groups out there keenly interested in what's about to happen with the web series. We have a big surprise coming sooner than later.

As I've said earlier, my family is in town making sure I'm well on the mend. I have to go now as I'm tired out from doing some tourist type things in Hollywood today. I'll detail those adventures and the fun stuff we're doing this week next Sunday. I also have a lot to say about season and series finales from my slate of TV shows.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Big Day and Big Plans

This is the time of year when my mind is consumed with one thought. No, it isn't how does it feel to be half a hundred (thanks, Dad). The burning question in May is 'Why the hairy heck aren't I in France???' My early mornings should be spent on a lovely terrace overlooking a marina full of yachts slowly sipping excellent coffee and eating freshly baked croissants or batards spread with sweet butter and maybe a bit of apricot jam or creamy honey. The only thing on my mind should be what movies I'm going to see that day or which cafe we'll have a delicious and leisurely lunch. Typically, this would put me in a funk that not even a lovely glass of Blanc de Noir Chandon champagne could cure. I just had some on my birthday. That stuff can cure almost anything. Where was I? Ah, yes, the Not in France Funk. This year, however, I eschewed being cranky in favor of planning to go next year. We'll have reason to go next year as we'll actually have all sorts of business to conduct. Though the last time we went without actual business, I came back with some amazing contacts. At any rate, Jon noted my 'Deb's determined to go back to France' look and sighed in resignation. He had to admit, we have business in Cannes next year. We even have business in Paris this time. Thus, I can feel less guilty about my 'Why would I go to France and NOT go to Paris' attitude. I only feel a little guilty about that attitude, so next year I'll be guilt free. I love planning trips. I really love planning trips to France. Thus, I had a fun Saturday. First bit of great news, the airfare has plummeted from the last time we considered traveling there. That's an excellent portent.
Health Update
I visited the surgeons last week for a post-op check-up. Everything is looking good. I was very excited that they removed the staples from the incision. I think the thing that bothered me the most about this entire ordeal was seeing what appear to be regular office staples holding me together. It generated this image of my surgeon wailing away on me with his office stapler. It just got to me. I almost said it got under my skin, but that would be too silly. I didn't look when they were removed. I just knew that it was an ordinary staple remover, and I didn't want confirmation. [I was going to do a link to surgical staples, but the images made me a little queasy]. I'm really glad the nasty things are gone. I didn't know how annoying they felt until they were missing. I'm much more comfortable. They liked my progress. I'm not saying that recovery is trouble free, but it is proceeding nicely. Still, please keep those prayers and good thoughts coming. I have several weeks before I'm out of danger from infections and other post-op complications.

Year of Fun – The Big Day

One of the best reasons for celebrating the birthday on more than one day is a great deal of pressure is off for the perfect day on the exact date. I had my doctor's appointment the day before, and I was out a whole eight hours. And I rode home with Craig. Thus, I was exhausted. On Tuesday, my actual birthday, I had some important errands to run. Luckily, I didn't get an early start. I would have missed a delivery of flowers, chocolate truffles and an adorable stuffed bear from my lovely cousin Katrina in New Jersey (many thanks, again, cuz). I had plans for the amazing shellfish sales still going on post Mother's Day. I came home with some amazing lobster tails and huge shrimp. Unfortunately, I was still tired from Monday, and all the walking involved in the errands left me too tired to cook when I got home. The fancy food would have to wait a day. But there were more surprises at home. We'd barely crossed the threshold when there was another delivery! My brother and sister-in-law and my wonderful nephew sent me an Edible Arrangement, a centerpiece that looks like a bouquet of flowers, but it's made of cut fruit. It was amazing!. (Thanks, family). Mind you, I had just bought a big box of strawberries and blackberries. I thus had a lot of fruit in the house. By the time I took apart the arrangement to refrigerate it, I had almost a shelf full of fruit, not to mention two heads of lettuce and two big bunches of kale that were supporting the arrangement. Jon and I were in for some really healthy eating. But for that night, I celebrated with a couple of chocolate truffles and a glass of champagne. All in all, it was a stellar day. And the next day, I made a shrimp and lobster bisque and a roasted shellfish cocktail that made me want to sing. I'd say that the big 5-0 went very well. And though I'm no spring chicken, I think that after I've healed, I will be able and ready to embrace cougar-hood. [I tried to find links to the definition of a cougar in its current form, but they were all sleazier than what the word has come to mean recently. Earlier, it meant an older woman on the prowl for younger men. More recently, it's come to mean a beautiful and confident older woman who is very comfortable in her skin. I prefer this definition.]

What's Cookin' Sunday

It was delightful to feel up to some real food prep yesterday. I chopped enough aromatic veggies for three main courses this week. It's not very hot out this weekend, so I' m making some decidedly un-spring like meals. I'm just in the mood for slow cooked, one pot comfort food. Thus, I'm making chili, coq au vin and meatballs in marinara sauce. I'll be able to share some with the studio denizens and have leftovers. This should spare me from cooking the rest of the week – unless I get a wild hair about making something else. I still have to figure out what to do with all that lettuce and kale. Right now, the house is scented with cumin and garlic from the chili bubbling away in the slow cooker. After I finish a decadent lunch of home made Buffalo wings, I'll finsih the meatballs and start the coq au vin. I'll put up photos next week.


In the run up to releasing Demon Under Glass online, we'll be doing the first wave of interviews with cast and crew tomorrow. It's been interesting reconnecting with this film and those characters. I've been working hard fleshing out a continuation of the storyline and figure out what to ask in the interviews. There will be lots of observations, photos and possibly video in the blog next week.

My family is in town next weekend, so I'm not sure if the blog will be on time or not. I'll post an announcement if there is a delay.

Stay Tuned!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Joy and Food and Updates and Fun

Again, thank you for all of the kind inquiries and words of encouragement. I really do appreciate them. On the whole, each day is better than the day before. The good days make me unduly ambitious. From time to time, I am sharply reminded that I am home for a reason. Those are times I admit to driving the Hubs a little crazy. Still, I am surprised at the moments of sheer joy I've had since the surgery. The upshot is that I'm slowly and steadily healing. There was an outing this weekend to get my sea legs back. My first post-op Doctor's appointment is Monday.

Oh, yeah. They joy. Some of my Facebook friends like Darryl Bell put up a song of the day. Typically, it's a funky little dance tune. Monday, I was couch dancing to one of the tunes when I started singing as well. Jon was at work at the time. That song lead me to others that I used to like to sing. It was exhilarating. I used to sing quite a bit. When I was very young, I was in the grade school choir and glee club. I was in a singing group early in high school. Before writing consumed my soul, I strongly considered it as the art I would pursue. Later, I would sing at home while doing housework or getting ready for my day. It's really strange that I had stopped singing at some point. I can't even remember when I did. But that's not important. What matters is that I started again. I think I spent a good hours or so belting out the Bangles If She Knew What She Wants or Walking Down Your Street and Sade's Sweetest Taboo. Incidentally, Sade has a new CD, Soldier of Love. She still has that amazingly beautiful voice. And I've loved all of the tracks I've heard thus far. She's still amazingly beautiful. I used to think that someone like her had to be some sort of international spy. But I digress. After singing, I felt lighthearted. I got a lot of work done. I even had a brief jaunt around the courtyard before everyone got home from school or work. It was a wonderful day. I didn't sing every day after that, but I did manage a tune or two here and there. I have to keep bugging Jon to burn my music mix on a DVD. But no, I will not be picking up a microphone for any reason. Only Jon and perhaps some startled neighbors will know of my new found joy therapy. Though I can't imagine them being as horrified by my singing as they must be by the hideous swearing I do during football season (yes, I'm still an Eagles football fan). It is yet another therapy to keep me upbeat and ever positive.

Year of Fun Presents

It's not quite my birthday, but I've already received some really nifty gifts. I tend to like gifts that aren't necessarily expensive. I like ones that really get my interests like the riding crop Jon gave me for ours first Valentine's Day. He has the knack of finding the best geeky gifts that I really love. I can't wait to see what he's come up with for this birthday. This year, my friends have been so thoughtful and generous. First, there was the wonderfully decadent F. Oliver's Aged Balsamic Vinegar. I swear that I find a new use for that stuff every week. I was surprised this week with a wonderful gift from our brilliant, lovely, sweet friend, Allison Embry. She sent me a copy of Giada at Home, the new cookbook by one of my favorite Food Network chef's Giada De Laurentiis. Sorry folks, she really is that beautiful and without makeup (she's one of Craig's neighbors and he's seen her at the gym and found her to be stunning). Her recipes are simple and often elegant. I have who knows how many downloaded from the Food Network site. I even have an earlier cookbook, Giada's Family Dinners. I was so pleased to receive such a wonderful surprise and spent most of a day pouring over the text to figure out what I want to do first. I found myself really enjoying her essays about family and food. They were well written and completely engrossing. Due to my appetite of late, I've been drawn to smaller meals. Giada has a lovely array of recipes for appetizers that sound yummy and, due to her Mediterranean heritage, are healthy. The first two involve dates and olives. I'm planning on having a go at those this weekend. Hopefully, Allison and I will be exchanging photos of the dishes we create (she bought herself a copy as well).

The next gift is whimsical and a little crazy. Old buddy Rich Lehman made a Jib Jab video where Rich, Phil, Scott and I are characters in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. I think it speaks for itself. I laughed so hard when I saw it. My friends have been chuckling over it all week. It was such a thoughtful and

unexpected thing to do. I was touched as well as deeply amused.

Writing Update
Since I have no shortage of things to work on and no hard deadline on any of them so far, so I tend to do a little work on one project on a given day. I'm making steady progress on all of them that way. It keeps my frustration level down and my interest level up. I am certain that I will have a deadline on one of the screenplays soon, but for now, everything is receiving an equal amount of attention. Here's what's happening.


The third installment of the Soldiers books is A Soldier's Destiny. SPOLIER ALERT! It's about six months after the end of A Soldier's Fate. Rik and Vincent's team are focused on two major problems the Foundation must face. First is the issue of washed out Altereds. These cadets never finished training and have been living in exile on the fringes of society. The military has given the Foundation the contract to evaluate them and determine if they can be trained for service or assimilated back into the general population. The second issue is the appearance of Simon Molinar. Once it is verified that he is still very much alive, plans are made for the inevitable confrontation with the original Altered. Nothing happens according to plan. When the Foundation incursion alarms are tripped, everyone is expecting Molinar not a squad of pissed off female wash outs who want to determine their own destinies. As the dust settles from that attack, Simon Molinar simply walks in the front door to make an appointment at main reception. Rik and Vincent's lives get very busy dealing with both situations. Their relationship has grown more solid and satisfying. Though Bobby is stationed nearby, they have their homes to themselves and are able to make full use of those sanctuaries. Their relationship has become more public and accepted, yet there are those who refuse to see they have a bond that cannot be broken. These unrequited desires could work to tear apart everything Rik and Vincent have built and ultimately endanger many lives.

The third installment of the Surrender novels is the Fate of Surrender. It is twenty years later in the Hanyanoore. Times have been both highly prosperous and volatile. The grand expedition resulted in trade with many realms in the formerly Unknown Lands. Some nations did not offer friendship but sought conquest. Thus, dazzling wealth has come with armed conflicts. In many ways, the Hanyanoore is stronger than ever. This is especially true in the realm of Arinpera. Queen Sarianna and King Nikulainen have much to celebrate on their twentieth anniversary. Their people are prosperous. Despite the occasional battle, their realm is secure. Their children have reached their majority and become extraordinary adults. Prince Alkarin was already a distinguished warrior who had trained many of the young soldiers in Arinpera and throughout the Hanyanoore. Princess Kirsi holds her own battle commendations. But she is literally beloved in all of the realms for her wit, kindness and incredible beauty. Nikulainen's siblings are well and happy. After leading the first Grand Expedition, Julin has fathered two sons. He and his fierce-some wife, Maya lead the Armies of the North that protect the Hanyanoore from invasion. Armas has had his first son with Queen Laurilla and has been granted the right to join her on the throne as King. The only problem for Sarianna and Nikulainen are their children's quests for love. Alkarin has far too many eligible women chasing him while he is chasing every wench who is not fit for a Prince. Kirsi is much beloved but no man seems to have the mettle to take on a decorated warrior with two uncles and a brother with far too much say over who may be interested. But then, one day, Kirsi rescues a stranger who had fallen into the river. The handsome man has a regal bearing but has clearly been physically and possibly emotionally abused. Nikulainen and Sarianna worry over Kirsi's growing attachment to this stranger. What is especially troubling is that he had been touched by great darkness and seeks the Light of Hanaynoore but refuses to reveal why. The royals fear for the tender heart of their innocent daughter and for the grave, unspeakable threat this stranger has brought to their gates.

The Vincent Greven Cookbook is underway once more. I realize that I need a great deal more photos and illustrations of the food prep and the characters. I'm going to address that issue this week.

Jon and I are also researching material for one concept and am about to write a script from another. And I'm still pressing slowly through the memoir about my mother. That's very slow going as I have to stop often to do research and to stop crying. It sounds really daunting and crazy, but it's pretty relaxed since I'm either home all day when I can work for hours on one thing or I'm at the hospital where I have a lot of time to read and take notes. Believe me, I whine when things get really hectic and crazy. The main thing is for me to take my time, enjoy the process and turn out the best work possible while I'm free.

Stay Tuned!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Back in the Saddle and Sore

Remarkably, I'm home from the hospital a week and a half early. The reasons are numerous and involved. Basically, it came down to lazy tumors, following Doctors' orders and the men in my life – including Craig and his gaggle of retired Irish nuns. Oh, you thought this experience would make the blog less weird. Silly Billies! While I'm nowhere near as fragile as when I came home in December, I still have quite a bit of healing to do. Thus, I am on my sofa watching Soul Train or catching up with the Food Network while writing. I admit to doing just a wee bit of cooking. More on that and the writing later.

Moving Men

I have to say that you can tell you're well liked when there is more than one choice of person to pick you up at 5 am to go to the hospital. My wonderful driver, Ray did this duty for one of the pre-op tests earlier that week and he even waited for hours for me to be discharged. He had experience as a caregiver and thus was a very steady and calm presence while being very entertaining. Jon and I now know how to properly handle the munchies between the time one shows up for the Emmy Awards and when one can actually sit down at the Governor's Ball afterward. I was quite happy to hear that the champagne flows as abundantly as I'd heard. Ray was pivotal to my being calm and collected to and from the hospital, and I'm so grateful that he could be there.

Then there was my Dad who flew out to LA for the first time to while away the hours with me in ICU. The ex-Marine, ex-cop is very much a steady presence in the middle of the worst mayhem. I expected that. What I didn't expect were the very long talks about cooking and gardening. My Foodie leanings come from both sides of the family. Dad is quite an accomplished cook, especially since retiring. He even grows and fishes for his own food (his tomatoes and collards are one of many reasons I miss living in Philly). I'm very excited that he plans a return trip that will include some fishing. I am so clearing freezer space (he even cleans the fish). So, we talked techniques for making tomato sauces or how to use a pressure cooker (I'm still afraid of them) or about biscuits while waving upon wave of doctors trooped through my room). Yes, it really was that many. Dad thought I was exaggerating when I said I'd already seen 12 of them before he came by the day after my surgery. Then, six more showed up. It's a teaching hospital, and I had a rare tumor. Thus, it was a phalanx of surgical residents, a herd of oncology residents and a swarm of pain management residents along with my primary doc, my regular oncologist, and the lead surgeon. And me without make-up! At any rate, it was a very nice visit full of some wonderful moments and a few revelations. And between him and Jon, I wasn't alone for very much time during visiting hours.

What did Craig do? Primarily, he took care of Jon by getting him to the hospital after work and keeping his spirits up. Craig is very good at that. Of late, I hesitate over talking to him. Laughing too hard actually hurts with all of these staples up my abdomen. But I digress. Craig also did something that I know was tough for him, but it meant the world to me. Whilst visiting his Grandmother in a Catholic nursing home, he sat with the elderly nuns there and had me put on their prayer list. Those lovely ladies drive him crazy, so this was quite an effort on his part. But they are some heavy hitters, prayer-wise. I'm certain that it helped me out. I had many people from many denominations putting a word in as well. I really needed that and truly appreciate it.

And then there was Jon. He went through a lot last week and was as scared as I was, but he held it together, visiting me and keeping my freak outs to a minimum, spending time with my Dad, working full shifts AND thoroughly cleaning the apartment. The Hubs is definitely a catch, as a friend pointed out last week. He's also a keeper. I still need a lot of attention, and I'm still freaking out regularly, but he handles it with a great deal of patience and even a goodly amount of humor. I am very blessed where the men in my life are concerned. Overall, I am most fortunate to have extraordinarily wonderful family and friends.

Musings from ICU (funnier than that sounds)
By the end of the second day, the whole not eating thing was wearing thin. I was awake enough to be aware of the staff working in a central area just beyond my room. The ebb and flow were interesting for a while, but then I noticed something that I found insidious. The nursing staff had food. All of them. There must have been some sort of delivery while I was dozing off. Fortunately for all on that floor, the sliding glass doors closed off my room from the aromas of the McDonald's ® fries and Subway® sandwiches or there may have been a big problem involving pulled IV lines and breaking sliding glass doors. As it was, I think I may have been glaring at them so much while sucking my lemon glycerin mouth swabs ( I was getting nothing by mouth those first few days – no even water), that the Docs put me on a liquid diet the next morning. Perhaps, I was a bit scary. My sense memory is very strong. I could almost taste the fries and those sandwiches. Made me cranky. The liquids helped a lot. I'm not sure if the clear chicken broth was as good as it seemed because I was so hungry. It's like this one pizza parlor in Philly that I only seemed to go to after a night of drinking. The pizza and steak sandwiches were amazing – I think. I've never been there sober, so I can't be sure. Anyway, the broth tasted great and curbed the homicidal urges.
I admit to not helping myself while I was in ICU. Somehow, I managed to find a TV network, Live Well HD Network that had cooking shows or cooking segments on other shows. And then there were Rachel Ray's and Martha Stewart's talk shows on which there would be cooking. In Ms. Ray's case, sometimes there was RuPaul from whom I learned a lot about how to wear false eyelashes. I hadn't been paying attention, but they have apparently come back into use. At any rate, I found a lot of food for thought – literally. I even found on a PBS station, the video for Julia's Kitchen Wisdom and watched it all the way through the pledge breaks. During that program, I decided is that crepes have intimidated me for far too long. As soon as I can get back in front of the stove for any length of time, I'm going to take them on. How am I ever going to perfect the baguette without becoming competent at crepes? I also pondered the notion of making herb infused oils rather than continuing the losing battle of keeping them fresh in the fridge. All of this pondering happened while I was not allowed to eat. What a mighty grocery list that produced! Luckily, the nurses' PC in my room was password protected, and I had no debit card. Poor Jon wouldn't have known what hit him.

Year of Fun
We have entered the actual birthday month. I have properly celebrated Derby Day with sweet tea, a mint julep, fried chicken and picking the winner (though I had no bet down). Strap in for a lot of fun food and drink and mayhem.
Stay Tuned!