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, 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.


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.


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!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Slow Roasted Goodies, Updates and an Excerpt

It is the last weekend of summer, so we're told. In general, that doesn't mean much to Angelenos. Grilln' season is year round. It's especially true this year, because LA didn't really have a summer this year. May gray gave way to June gloom. July and August had no nicknames but the weather remained stubbornly cool and overcast. There was even rain at times of the year that were thought to be impossible. But traditions must be observed. As surely as the chruch band next store must have a drum solo (and it is having a mighty one right now), I must do some cooking to acknowledge the end of summer holiday. And then, there is Jon's birthday to consider. He is a man of simple yet refined tastes. For his birthday, Jon enjoys a well made All-American meal. Usually, that means a tuna noodle casserole or something involving bread an potatoes. That seemed a bit heavy to me with all of this wonderful produce for so very cheap at the market. I did make cookies to appeal to Jon's dough cravings. That is, I made the dough yesterday and he ate some of it. Fortunately, he left enough for a good sized batch. These include Toll House cookie and a new butter cookie recipe. But I'm also roasted a pork shoulder for pulled pork (or what my family refers to as chopped barbecue), home made potato salad and creamed corn a la Iron Chef Michael Symon. Because of him, I now have another stock in my repertoire. Very exciting as I can use corn stock to make corn chowder. And to have alongside the cookies, sweet tea and real lemonade. Jon seems happy about the menu, and I believe I've properly represented the holiday. And watching some random episodes of the Star Wars Saga made the birthday complete for Jon. We also have leftovers that will see me nicely to the next round of chemo.


Labor Day isn't quite a holiday for us. Dragoncor/Earthdarggon is meeting today to discus some upcoming meetings and to set a schedule for the web series (plural) we'll be shooting through the fall. While Jon and I have been busy at home doing post production editing and writing respectively, Ralph has been maneuvering the amazing connections he's found to some very interesting and potentially productive meetings. This meeting and the discussion with SAG on the guidelines for actor contracts I plan for this week should give us a firmer schedule for when things like Demon Under Glass, 15%, Blood Oath and even the Privateers will commence. I'm hoping to announce dates next week.

Stay tuned.

Soldier's Destiny Excerpt

Warning! This is Adult Content! Yao! And Spoilers! Also Rough Draft!

Dinner was my favorite pot roast and potatoes. Then, my plan was to have Vincent for dessert. The adrenaline from the fight still coursed through our veins. The energy crackled between us, demanding release. That night, I planned to show my Love who was in charge. I pinned him easily on the sofa, because he wasn't quite expecting it. As I slanted my mouth across his, my hands were in his hair, freeing it from its ties. We were making out on the sofa when the alarm sounded once again. I groaned against Vincent's mouth. I had kissed him to the point where I felt him yielding. I really didn't want to stop.

“Tell me this is a false alarm,” I said into the intercom. It didn't matter how I sounded. Vincent was still clinging to me.

“I wish the hell it was,” Heisler muttered. “Go to Camera 2.”

Vincent punched up the feed to our TV. There, sitting in the waiting area reading a newspaper was Simon Molinar. My lover huffed impatiently as I rolled off him.

“He said that he believes he has an appointment with you two,” Heisler continued. “What do we do? The guards were moved to safety without incident.”

“We'll bring him to Auerbach,” I said. “I don't think he'll be a problem. But send Maximilian down as well.”

“Will do.”

“At least he waited until after dinner,” I sighed.

“Let's put the fucker in a box, so I can fuck you,” Vincent muttered.

“Yes, dear,” I smirked.

Molinar was still reading the paper when we ambled up to him. It was incredible to realize how old he must be. For all appearances, he looked younger than me. Only his eyes belied his nearly angelic face. There was so much going on in those deeply calm, gray-green eyes, I could never begin to read them.

“Simon Molinar?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied smoothly. “Thank you for seeing me. Are you remodeling?”

I looked at the bullet damage and other wreckage wryly.

“No. Why do you ask?”

“No reason, I suppose,” He replied. He was amused. “How do we proceed?”

“Follow us,” I said as Maximilian fell in alongside us.

“I remember you from that terrible incident at the border,” Molinar said to Maximilian. “You are an impressive specimen. Are you unique in your family?”

Maximilian looked at me quizzically.

“You can answer him, “ I said.

“I come from a long line of magnificently built Altereds,” he said with his usual pride.

“Fascinating,” Molinar murmured. I sensed pride in the Vampire. That hadn't occurred to me. “Where are we off to? Will I meet everyone now?”

“Not tonight,” I said. “The Benefactors aren't here and the medical team has its hands full just now. We are going to show you to your quarters. Tomorrow, you'll meet everyone.”

“What sort of quarters?”

“Quite comfortable, I promise,” I replied.

“I don't suppose there is a choice now,” Molinar murmured. “I'm seeing some very nasty Delphi night suns deployed about.”

“For the protection of the staff and installed under duress,” I admitted with surprising ease. “We knew that you are not a threat to us. We can't wait to find out what you want us to know.”

That admission placated and relaxed the Vampire. We walked in a comfortable silence to the Medical Wing for a brief moment.

“There is an energy about that near crackles along my skin,” Molinar remarked. “Is that something you keep going in the building for your powers?”

“We have ways of boosting our energy for defense that is part of the building,” I replied. “But they are not active right now.”

“That's just us,” Vincent said. “In the aftermath of expending great energy, we sometimes have residual output. No one else has ever felt it from us.”

“Not even I have,” Maximilian said with wonder.

“It's strong enough that I feel as though I've topped off,” the Vampire said thoughtfully.

Thankfully, we had arrived. I had been through too much to think about the implications of Molinar's observations. I knew that Vincent couldn't handle it just then. Besides, there were ways we had to dissipate that energy that I knew my lover was very anxious to resume. We showed Molinar to an Altered suite. There was a living area with a kitchenette and a huge entertainment center. The bedroom had a large bed, a lounge chair and another TV. Auerbach arrived on our heels. He seemed stunned to be meeting the Vampire in this manner.

“Remind me never to bet against you,” he said to me before extending a hand to Molinar. “Hello, Mr. Molinar. Thank you for coming.”

“Thank you for the welcome. And call me Simon.”

“Simon, we are terribly busy tonight. An emergency that must be attended to,” Auerbach said. “We would like to have you meet us tomorrow with the rest of the Benefactors when we can give you our full attention.”

“I appreciate your taking me in like this,” he said. “You are quite insightful to my situation.”

“That would be your progeny,” Auerbach said. “They seemed to know that you needed them.”

“Yeah, gramps,” Vincent said. “Make yourself at home. We'll catch you in the morning.”

Molinar was taken aback by my cheeky lover. Still, he smiled appreciatively.

“And don't worry, actual sunlight is only in one place in the facility, so you won't necessarily be restricted here,” I said. “But that will depend on you.”

“I shall be quite fine, gentlemen. Don't let me keep you further,” he said.

“There is an overnight kit with clothing and toiletries,” Auerbach said. “Give a shout if you need anything.”

“Thank you. Goodnight.”

Auerbach was silent for a while as we walked him back to his nerve center, so I spoke up.

“Doc, he'll keep until tomorrow. You have a full plate,” I said emphatically. “In fact, if Wolverine squad is stable, you should be eating then hitting the rack.”

“Yes, Doctor,” he quipped.

“We're serious, Doc,” Vincent said. “We count on you to hold us together. You can't burn out in one night with all this shit happening.”

That was far from eloquent, but it made the point.

“That's why I didn't stay to chat with him,” Auerbach assured us. “I plan to give the staff their marching orders, have a stiff belt and get some sleep. I promise.”

“Okay then. Goodnight, Doc. Goodnight, Maximilian,” I said. “We'll convene over breakfast tomorrow.”

I waited until we got back to the apartment before contacting Heisler again.

“Mark, no one is to go near Molinar tonight. That includes Auerbach unless there is an actual emergency,” I said. “And notify us first in that event.”

“Will do.”

Vincent looked concerned. “Do you think he'll try t o talk to Molinar on his own?”

“Unlikely while he's dealing with Wolverine squad. I'm just being cautious,” I replied. “Our Doc is as earnest and curious as that Doctor Bassett. But I don't want to lose ours. This time, we'll look after him....Now, where were we? Oh, yes...”

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Delay of Blog

I'm busy cooking and planning and writing. Then, I was reminded that tomorrow is a holiday. Thus, the blog will be delayed until tomorrow. Worry not, it will be worth the wait. An excerpt is coming!