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!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Boules, Stripper Shoes and Mad Men

This past week has been a mixed bag of highs and lows. I find that I'm struggling with a bunch of things that are all messing with my motivation. Currently, my mobility has been severely curtailed by a twisted knee. On any given day my joints are a source of almost constant pain or stiffness. This is far worse. I can't even sit in a computer chair (I'm losing another week of editing videos I'm sure). I haven't been restricted to the sofa in nearly two years. Since one of the fears I wrestle with is the one that I won't be as active as I once was, this is a setback I really don't need. I'm supposed to be at Anime Expo this weekend, and I have a shoot next week. Arrgh! So, I called Craig. He is a licensed paramedic as well as my nemesis. Somehow, the discussion drifted to growing corn. That can be very funny apparently. At least, I found it hilarious. And the chat made me feel better for a while. Beyond that, there are ice packs and analgesics and the freakin' sofa for the next day or two.

I had some ups and downs with baking as well. I had quite the tussle with the old piping bag in making macarons. They tasted good, but there were not exactly ready for a patisserie. I called them rustic. Afterward, I was looking at some other recipes and concluded that the easy one I was using was a bit too easy. The steps would have made for a much prettier products. The next time I attempt them, I will use the more complex recipe. I even had problems with Madeleines, and I've made many a successful batch of those. I was just off last week, baking wise. But then I decided to try the bread experiment once again. I thought the dough looked much better than my first batch. And lookee there, I made a boule! It had a hollow thump and a crust that was crunchy when gently pressed. And it tasted as good as it looked! We ate half of the loaf with dinner. Well, Jon ate dinner. I mostly ate the bread and a couple of meatballs. It was good that the baking ended on an up note. It's never good for the main outlet for stress to become a source of frustration. I had other plans for cooking lots of seasonal veggies this week, but the knee has but the kibash on that. I'll only be standing in front of the stove long enough to heat things.

I'm not really complaining. All things considered, things aren't terrible. I'm not the same as I was before I fell ill, but at least I'm not ill. Of course, everything that goes wrong makes me paranoid about being ill again. No worries though. I've become well skilled at managing paranoia. I'll just send some panicked emails to my support system. They'll calm me down, because they have had similar experiences. Easy peasy. Yes, I have to go through this process each time. It's a thing with me. UPDATE! I have sent various panicked emails and phone calls since writing this paragraph. My knee is feeling only marginally better, but I feel much more relaxed about it all now.

In These Shoes...

...I don't think so. (My favorite song about high heels).  When I was hobbling around the mall on Monday, I must confess that I was really pleased to see some very lovely clothes for this season. There are some lines of clothes that have very attractive sundresses and skirts. Even the shorts remind me strongly of the fashion sense from the 1950s when women had figures and sexy didn't mean slutty. I think Mad Men http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mad_Men is responsible for that (I've never seen the show myself. It reminds me too much of the Tate Advertising Agency on Bewitched, but with no magic or Samantha Stephens http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samantha_Stephens ). This is a good thing. I usually find myself ranting angrily at fashion trends that either make no sense or don't look right on any female that isn't a toddler (I'm looking at you, empire waist dresses). And I still don't like pork pie hats. 

But amidst these lovely fashions is a big and perplexing irritant to me. Somehow, stripper's shoes have become high fashion. I'm even seeing serious female journalists wearing these five or six inch numbers. What's the harm, you might ask. They're just shoes after all. I give you my Hubs as Exhibit A. He is a thoroughly modern man who believes that women can do whatever jobs they set their minds to. His Momma raised him right. However, when he sees those shoes on a woman, his reaction every time is Hhheeeyyy now, what is she into? Or Why is she interviewing that general in FM shoes? Before you think I am speaking in hyperbole, consider the shoes to the right. I found those on a site called Upscale Stripper http://upscalestripper.com. I found a shoe with the same silhouette and heel height at the very respectable zappos.com. Check out this link:
http://www.zappos.com/mia-limited-edition-vixen-white-patent. I find it distressing that otherwise serious women are undermining their authority for the sake of fashion. In some ways, this trend is more distressing than the fad of having 'juicy' written on the seat of girl's and women's short shorts. Wake up ladies! If you won't consider your dignity, consider your health. Podiatrists are offering operations to to make walking in those shoes bearable. They are called 'toe jobs' http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/26/plastic-surgery-foot-feet-high-heels_n_1454964.html .After all, they were only meant to be worn for the length of a song or while on one's back shooting scenes for porn. They weren't built for an 8 hour day in an office.

I'll post film and book updates in my other blogs this week. I'll make an announcement here when they are uploaded. One crazy thing though. My books have been really selling this month. I'm really happy, but have no idea why. I'm not even advertising. Maybe all of this blogging is paying off.

Stay tuned

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On Tiny Gardens, Sterilizing and Socializing

I have a tiny tomato on my lonely tomato plant. (It's on the lower right). That was such a relief, because I was really concerned that I needed bees to pollinate the flowers. Unlike Jon, the notion of letting bees into the apartment just did not appeal to me. That sure did tickle my father though. He's quite the urban gardener. He got quite the chuckle out of that proposal. He explained that tomatoes are self pollinating somehow. They've been developed that way, because bees are so scarce anymore. I'm fairly pleased at how strong that plant is especially compared to the last time I tried to grow something. I may get a mini herb garden to keep it company. I know it sounds weird, but it just seems like the plant is lonely all by itself. UPDATE! It's been days since I started this blog. I now have a little thyme plant to keep the tomato plant company, and supply me with thyme. That's my favorite herb.

I've been having trouble keeping up with all the blogs I need to post over weekends. I'm considering moving this blog to mid-week when I don't have a bottleneck. I'll be having some really busy weekends in the next few weeks, so that may be prudent.

Craig as My Nemesis?

Jon thinks I am Craig's nemesis. I do drive him crazy, it seems, by putting him in my fiction (he's even made an appearance in my fanfiction) and writing about him in the blog. He's not really angry. He's just puzzled that anyone finds him interesting. I know a lot of people who are interesting in many strange ways, but I know few who are as interesting and consistently funny as Craig. He worries that people will be disappointed upon meeting him. Highly unlikely. I can count on one hand the people that can make me laugh as hard as he does no matter what my mood is or how badly I feel. Today, I was feeling really down (tired of being tired, really tired of all the pain). I swear that he senses this, because he always seems to call when I am at my mopiest. One call was to inform me that Ray Liotta was back in his orbit. I looked him up to see if he was between shoots or really stalking Craig. It seems to be the former. The call that really cracked me up today was his review of John Carter. It's not the worst review I've heard from Craig. That honor goes to Pathfinder. If Jon ever gets a notion to tune in on that film, I am to leap across the TV screen in slow motion screaming NOOOOOO to block the signal from the remote. I can't repeat the other things he said. The John Carter review was more colorful and far less angry. He likened it to his keen disappointment with Star Wars Episode 1 but with a herd of Jar Jar Binks . And he said the leads were pretty but ill suited for dialog beyond 'I love you, cardboard character (his words).' 'If I wrote one of those review blog things, I'd give it four F#$%K Nos and recommend people put their time to better use like auto-erotic asphyxiation.' See, he can't help being interesting. So, I accept being his nemesis. He's too much of a gentlemen to start a war with me. He'll just try to terrorize Jon.

Social Butterfly

Aside from the sojourns that Marie and I have taken to the Culver Hotel after shopping at the Culver City Farmer's Market, I had two other social engagements. That was a lot before I fell ill. Since then, it's unheard of. I think I held up fairly well. I even managed to put makeup on AND do my hair. Have I mentioned that some of the most helpful makeup tips I've found online has been from transvestites and transgenders? Who better to instruct on making skin look flawless? I still can't get behind false eyelashes. They just make me giggle.

At any rate, the first of the social engagements was an impromptu celebration of Gabriel Koerner's 30th birthday. It happened that he really liked a place that was five minutes from our place, and it was very reasonably priced. Jon said that if I were to create a restaurant in my fiction, it would be exactly like Sara the Wine Bar http://www.sarathewinebar.com/ (Things are very glamorous in the video. Something like that was going on in a private room, but the main restaurant was really down to earth and homey). When I approached the entrance, there was a handsome, older gent dancing with an adorable, chubby cheeked baby who was grinning and laughing. Inside, there were two generations of extended family attentively waiting on customers. Though I was not a regular, I was welcomed and felt very comfortable alone waiting for Jon, Gabriel and his friends to show up. Of course, with Gabriel http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Gabriel_Koerner involved, there is a Trek connection to the joint. Cirroq Lofton http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Cirroc_Lofton is best known as Jake Sisko from Deep Space 9. He married a talented chef from Tuscany. The result is a place with amazing, handcrafted food and a warm, friendly atmosphere that made me feel at home. Our first birthday party with Gabriel was when he was 15 and prone to swing from trees. When I first met him during my interview for Trekkies, I thought 'I seem to have found Jon's son.' Our relationship with him reminds me of family – highly entertaining at times. He's packed a lot of hard living in 15 years. I'm glad to see that he's mellowed though he remains quite the charming dinner companion. A fine time was had by all.

The second outing will have to wait for another day. I have more to cover, and my inbox is not emptying itself!


I suppose it was inevitable that all of this fresh produce would leave to making Jam. I think that was only part of my interest in the practice. Most of it came from the interest in making bread from scratch. It seemed silly to me to spend time allowing the dough to ferment slowly for enhanced flavor only to slather on some store bought jam that has sugar or high fructose corn syrup as a first ingredient. I'm also planning on making maracons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macaron from scratch. Regular jam wouldn't do. And if I am considering Jam that in the ten buck range, I'd just as soon make my own. I'm not courageous enough to trust that my canning will hold up for months. I'm happy with smaller yields (2 jars per type) that will last in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Once I'm better at it, I'll give jars as gifts. The process isn't difficult, but it is exacting if one wants to avoid dangerous canned goods. I think the biggest challenge for me is that once you begin the sterilizing process, you have to be ready to fill the jars with the hot mixtures. As I've often said, our apartment is small, and the kitchen is miniscule. Making the various jams used every bit of available space and most of my pots and pans. Luckily, the recipes can be re-heated to boiling later on or even the next day (I just don't add the pectin until right before I'm ready to put everything in the jars). I can rest while Jon cleans up the kitchen. Love that Kitchen Aide! Then, I can start the sterile cleaning of the stove and the sink. I even did the floor. I think I was thinking of an operating room. The instructions were adamant about everything touching the jars and lids be extremely clean. It was a mite scary transferring the newly cleaned and rinsed glasses in the hot water pot with the transferring grabber gizmo. I had to make sure that water was filled to the top without falling over. But what was really terrifying was grabbing the sterilized jars, pouring out the hot water and gently setting it on a tray. My long time readers may recall, that I am quite a klutz at times. And I have had incidents with scalding water. Luckily, Everything went well this time. And the jams turned out nicely. The apricot isn't quite as good as the stuff I had in the south of France, but it was tasty with very little sugar. I'm hoping the process will get easier with each attempt.

I have a web series update on http://demonspawntales.blogspot.com/ . I have a very pointed yet literary rant on trolls who write bad reviews without reading the book here http://sybpressyaoi.com. There are no new book or film updates. I have a pile of stuff I'm slogging through in my inbox, but nothing I'm free to report.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mini Blog on Blog Delay

There will be a delay of blog to late tonight or early tomorrow due to the obligations to write the other blogs supproting my various projects (books, manga and web series) and the sudden rise in social engagements. I've had two -- count 'em -- two this week! Though I am finally managing to get make-up on without leaving the apartment a shambles, I can't seem to juggle a social life with my work obligations. Wow, am I out of practice. I used to go to Atlantic City, dance all night, go back to Philly AND work a whole shift without breaking a sweat. But then, Disco was all the rage then. A bit of time has passed.  I will share the social engagements in the upcoming blog. One is wrought with geekiness of a Trek nature.

The other highlights will cover my lone tomato plant and unleashing bees in our apartment, jams and how they can destroy the order in a kitchen, Craig and how I became his nemesis and other hilarity and mayhem.

You can catch my other blogs at: http://www.sybpressromantica.com/ and http://demonspawntales.blogspot.com/. The Manga blog will also be up later. I share the link when it goes live.

As for the rest,

Stay Tuned!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Writing and Publishing -- The Perilous and Profane

Before I begin, I must warn my gentle readers in the strongest of terms that while this blog is about my current writing endeavors, the language and content are very, very naughty. It is very likely not everyone's cup of tea. There are unseemly things done with bud vases and other things too raucous for delicate sensibilities. I'm looking at you, Maw-in-law! Though a bit of that salty language is your son's. Onward then!
It has been very correctly pointed out to me that there is a great deal going on in my life as a writer and editor that is not reaching this blog. I blame the nature of social media branding. I have to have blogs that are aimed at particular audiences who read my work, so they can easily find it in searches. However, a lot has been going on lately, and since this began as a blog about my writing, it's only right that I bring everyone up to speed.
The Return of Sybaritic Press
Things have been fairly quiet on the publishing front save for works by Marie Lecrivain and me. That is changing in a very big way with our first anthology of creative non-fiction. It is called Alternate Lanes, a compilation of works about modes of transportation in Los Angeles that don't involve automobiles. From walking to cycling, buses and trains, the writers talk about their experiences warts and all in poems and essays and photographs. Mine humble contribution is called Crosstown Express. It details the wild dichotomy of riders and scenery on the two bus lines I take to the hospital a few times a month. I have not seen as many swings between affluence and poverty nor as many types of citizens since riding the route 23 trolly line in . That route has been documented by Urban studies researchers and sociologists. There is even a YouTube video that lovingly shows the line. Marie has a wonderful piece on the strange adventures and perils of walking in LA. Yes, people, there is quite a lot of walking in LA. We're getting some serious buzz about the book, and there isn't even a galley. We're also going to do book fairs once again this year though I'm not sure there will be any drunken parrots in the booth. It's a long story.
My Debut in a New E-Zine
Last week, I made my short story debut in a Full Metal Orgasm or FMO, a cyber sexpunk e-zine. The editor takes a deliberately provocative title to make sure there is no doubt that the content is unflinchingly adult in nature. That not only attracts the desired readership, it should warn away those who would be offended by the material. Being the contrary soul that I am, my contribution is not like the others. The Companion is about a dystopian society where someone can be arrested for stealing food and get a decades long sentence in a hell-hole of a prison or sold to a farmer on a colony as a full service slave (yes, service extends to the bedroom). It sounds like it should fit with the no holds barred, brutal sexuality of the rest of the amazing works in this collection. I certain started to write it that way. Somehow, it became this delicate, sensual character study with a very sweet ending. I was really pleased with it and knew it would find a home somewhere in my other works, but the editor very kindly bought the work anyway. It's become a point of controversy with the zine, but that's what I do. I hope my fans who are kind enough to buy it will read the rest. Despite protestations to the contrary, the rest of the stories are very smart and are often saying more that they seem. Reading the entire zine will be like taking an excursion into dark and fascinating places. It's well worth the trip.You can buy it from the website HERE or on Amazon for Kindle HERE.
The Perils of Localizing Yaoi Manga for DMG
I work as an Editor for the DigitalManga Guild(DMG). We work in teams called localizers (they make the material readable for a local audience). Each team consists of a translator, an editor and a letterer. My primary job as editor is to take the raw English translations into more colloquial English. The casual way people talk in the US. That sometimes means translating Japanese pop culture references into the US equivalent. I pass the edited script to the letterer who replaces the Japanese dialog with the new dialog. The whole team is responsible for QC on the finished pages. Finally, I also write the synopsis that will appear on the various websites where the manga will be sold. We're typically given 90 days to finish a 200 page book. We've finished two thus far. We're just finishing volume one of a four part series that we will be working on through the summer. The second one, Wild Boyfriend, just turned up on the company website (see photo above). This means it will be published soon. Working on the localizing team has been an education I really didn't expect. I wrote a blog about one aspect of it on our official site. DMG tweeted it to all of its followers.
Without further ado:
My localizing team mates and I were lulled by the sweet, funny romance of Again Tomorrow. While there were some epic sex scenes in every chapter of Nabako Kamo’s manga, there were a lot of other things going on as well. There were intrigues at the office or at various schools or, in one case, on a crowded subway. If there were eyes that were too young and tender for yaoi, it was easy to move to a benign location in Again Tomorrow. Curious little ones would likely find a panel with two salarymen working in a cubicle very dull and move on. Don’t get me wrong. Again Tomorrow is a white hot, sexy manga. However, the mangaka likes to build the tension or ratchet up the jeopardy for each of the couples before the pages and pages of heated coupling. Thus, the localizer who is also a parent has ‘safe’ pages on which to click when the children wander too close.

This is not the case with the current manga Heaven’s Blade is localizing. Sakira’s Wild Boyfriend covers many more couples who come together in a swift and explosive fashion. The safe pages are far fewer in number and really hard to click on when in a panic. I’m lucky as I only have the Hubs peering over my shoulder periodically. All I have to put up with are comments like:

‘You can’t tit f***k a guy!’
‘He put a bud vase with a flower in there!’
‘Who keeps that many sex toys at work?’ (That one gave me pause.)
‘He just happened to be carrying roofies to school.’
‘Sweat is NOT the same as lube!!’

The comments are a bit distracting, but  could never derail me. I have been thrown into fits of giggles – mainly at my Hubs’ consternation, but I always manage to find focus after a while. My team members, however, have a stickier problem. They have young ones with curious eyes. Fortunately, they are none too stealthy. My team mates have to use cat-like reflexes to switch to a different screen and avert disaster. Of course, the little darlings who never seem to pay attention to their parents before, notice when their parents move so abruptly. Thus, they hang around hoping for a glimpse of what was so interesting. To combat that strategy, my team mates have taken to doing their part of localizing when their little ones are fast asleep. They have been a lot punchier during Skype or email exchanges with this manga. I admire them for soldiering on with their fatigue fuzzy brains through their regular workloads while still churning out quality translations and lettering.

I don’t think any of us anticipated such perils when we signed up to be localizers. Still, it’s a fun gig, and the problems are amusing in their own way.

Again Tomorrow - Ashita Kara Mouichido © Nabako Kamo. All rights reserved. Original Japanese edition published in 2010 by Taiyoh Tosho Publishing Co., Ltd. It’s available for Kindle HERE, for Nook HERE and other formats HERE.

That's covers everything going on at the moment, book wise. There is a whole lot of film related stuff in the works that I'll cover another time.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Spring, Cougars, Onion Jam and Updates

This blog can now be translated into every language that Google Translate covers. Just scroll down to the right hand menu to find the drop down box. Mind, these translations may be less than accurate. I'm just saying there is a reason why translator jobs still exist.

The month of fun ended at my favorite time of year in Los Angeles. The Jacaranda trees are in full bloom. Vibrant colors have exploded everywhere. The honeysuckle and night blooming jasmine are releasing their lovely scents. The last thing I expected from Los Angeles was that it would smell so lovely at any time of the year. Just down the street there is a beautiful blanket of yellow posies on a little tract of land next to an electric company power station. The gray weather that is typical of June in LA – June gloom to the locals – makes the colors pop all the more. The end of the Month of Fun is worth it for the beauty in the month that follows. I have added to the spring greenery. I have a lone tomato plant that seems to be thriving in the bedroom window. I've learned from the disaster with the herb garden that the only place in this apartment that gets strong, consistent sunlight is the bedroom. It just seems weird having vegetables growing there. I may not get actual tomatoes until December, but I'm going to keep at it this year.

One of my favorite birthday greetings – among some fabulous greetings (I thank you all for the kind words and good wishes) – was the one from my most sage and often most profane friend, Nick. He informed me that I am now officially a Cougar.

Before I continue, I'd like to mention that Craig had nothing to do with the four legged cougar that somehow made its way from the wilds about Pacific Palisades to just shy of the wilds of the 3rd Street Promenade in downtown Santa Monica http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/05/santa-monica-mountain-lion-killed-amid-safety-concerns.html. He did, however, have an explanation as to how it came to be there. There is a canyon above the Palisades that is difficult enough to get into that it has escaped development. The area has abundant game. Mountain lions thrive there. His theory is that this big cat was likely chasing game along a creek bed and went far enough that the bed turned into a concrete lined canal. Lining rivers and creeks is a bizarro habit in this part of the world. I believe its done in an effort to control the water ways. I thought the practice was limited to this region. However, I was dismayed to read that it is even more prevalent in Japan. At any rate, the cougar probably couldn't get out of the canal. It followed the route until it emptied near the beach and downtown Santa Moncia. Panicked 911 called ensued. Many animal rights activists have been screaming about killing the unfortunate animal. However, I agree with Craig. It panicked when they used the tranquilizer darts and bolted. This happened a short distance from the pier and the main drag in town. There are a lot of children out and about there. I'm sorry, but I agree that human safety takes priority. I also agreed with Craig that had this been in the era of our tenure at Borders, the mountain lion would have made it into the store and Phil would have been the most likely one to find it – followed by Craig. That was how store 93's luck worked.

Where was I? Ah yes, two legged cougars. I was placed to hear of this new designation as it coincided with my renewed interest in my appearance. I had made a few trips to the make-up aisles in various establishments where I did a lot of puzzled staring at the confounding array of products. Despite this deep confusion, I had replenished my long depleted collection.

I was wearing war paint and had my hair in a new do the day I set out to meet Marie and her mother for lunch. I stopped en route to shop for something else I hadn't had in years – a summer purse. My mother would be appalled at that sad state of affairs. As I left Ross Dress 4 Less (I'm not going to break the bank for my new look), I opted for the elevator to the street. Stairs are no longer my friends – if they ever were. As the elevator door opened, there stood a very tall, incredibly handsome blond young man. He carried headshots, naturally. I looked at him levelly and exclaimed 'Wow!' Obviously, my war paint, new purse and official designation left me feeling empowered. I especially enjoyed him blushing profusely and stumbling away. I may have thought such a thing in my twenties or thirties, but I would never have said it. At that ages, such a declaration would have been a gauntlet thrown. Now, unless I stepped in the cutie's path, it's clearly an appreciative observation. And it was a lot of fun! Sorry, but I have no photos of me in my new guise. I've gotten accustomed to not having photos taken. I will try to get some the next time I get dolled up.

On the cooking front, I've had some middling results from an experiment to make Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day – a book I discovered in a food blog. I've managed to finally get my crusts to work, but the loaves were too dense. The author kindly answered my plea for advice. She told me the dough was too wet. I plan to try again. Meanwhile, I have made a very successful apricot jam on my first attempt! The season goes on as does berry season. More jams will follow. I hope the bread will stand up to it. I think among the jams I'll make next will be onion jam. I made some caramelized onions for a flat bread I was baking with the experimental dough. I also used it on hot dogs and a number of other things. I think I'd like to keep that handy! And it's Vidalia onion season! I even have a book on that to help me. It took all these onions to make just a smudge of the caramelized stuff.


I have yet another blog. This one is dedicated to the web series version of Demon Under Glass that we are developing. This will be a detailed, no holds barred account of how an ultral low budget production is put together. You can find it at http://demonspawntales.blogspot.com. Like this blog, it can be translated into however many languages Google translate covers.