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, 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.


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.


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.


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.