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, June 23, 2013

Cancer Graduation and Deb & Jon vs the Summer Blockbuster

No long march to radiology until 2014.
The breakfast after being told my test results, not even a second cup of coffee could keep me from nodding off not even an hour after waking up. This was after a deep and peaceful twelve hour sleep. It seems I had a great deal of sleep dept built over the last few weeks. You see, the same creative mind that conjures new civilizations and real people that can live in my head is really good at conjuring the most dire result with the thinnest shreds of evidence. Was I being silly, maybe. I recall a time after the surgery when my blood work was good yet it was decided I should have 12 rounds of chemo as a 'precaution.' I am in no way second guessing my treatment. I'm just saying that indications looked fine before, and I still ended up having ten rounds of chemo before I could go no further.

It should be easy to understand how I could get really wound up in the wake of some abnormalities in the March tests. It wasn't a constant state of anxiety. I barely spared the tests a thought save for how they would impact my schedule in June. It hit me where I was sleeping or where I was supposed to be sleeping. I got wound up subconsciously and spent two weeks or more hardly sleeping. How I was functioning and reasonably polite is a wonder. Not that I was the most efficient at my work as I would have been well rested. I've found that past dinner time, I was fairly useless save for some social networking.
The B-12 shots go on but no Oncology appt until Dec.
Things were getting done, but it was like walking on eggshells for those weeks.

When the doctor told me that I wouldn't need to test until next year this time, I promptly burst into tears. I had no idea I was that wound up. After the tears came the sleepiness. Immediately afterward. I was zonked out on the train home. Luckily, my stop was the end of the line. Even more lucky was the bus driver knew my stop (it's a very short route and I see this kind soul often). Napping all the way home and all the excitement of being free didn't blunt the sleepy. I was even falling asleep during phone calls. My apologies to anyone that I drifted off on.

The upshot is that I am clear of PMP cancer. My overall health (heart, blood pressure, etc) is very good. I am so grateful to all my family and friends who have helped Jon and me get to this point. I honestly don't know what we would have done without such steadfast support. We feel very fortunate about so many things in our lives. Our hearts are very full. However, there are ongoing problems caused by chemo. I'm still working out my pain management and nerve damage issues through nutrition and exercise. I'm ecstatic about being cancer free, but I am not the same as I was before. I can deal with that. I have support systems in place for everything that I have planned. And there are a lot of exciting things in the works – if only I could stay awake to put the plans in place. Seriously.

I've been fortunate in some things. The editing contracts I have are all done for the moment. I could be hit with another half dozen books any time now. I've only got one short story with a hard deadline on the horizon. Unfortunately, I have a heap of work that I created myself that is absolutely essential for my various projects. This stuff is time consuming and leaves me with little time for my more popular and widely awaited works. This won't be going on for very much longer. But it is very important. Believe me, I wouldn't take on more work when I am so very tired if the work weren't essential. I do hope to be able to talk about some of it soon. My life is weird. I admit that.

Deb & Jon vs The Summer Blockbuster

I shift gears dramatically to talk about a problem the Hubs and I have had with family and friends and the films coming out this summer. It happens every summer, but this summer is especially bad. There have been movies coming out that all indications show that there have been films that we would want to talk about with family and friends. We have been approached with puppy like excitement that pains us to rebuff. But before I go further, let me tell you a little bit about our experiences pitching films. Jon and I write good, solid scripts that get us meetings. We've gotten meetings when there is no logical reason that we should get meetings. But that is not to say that these meetings have been easy on us. Studio types have fragile egos. The idea that nobodies could waltz through their office and into a film deal is something that cannot be tolerated. So, we would be given notes demanding that we explain the links between characters until all suspense was gone or challenging the logic of our universe to the point we wondered why there was ever a meeting. This was often a condescending and demoralizing experience, because, after all, they are studio suits and we are nobodies. After all of that humiliation, we wouldn't get the deal. This does make a body bitter. We know that if we had written material like those of many of these summer blockbusters, we'd be tortured and ridiculed if we were ever seen at all. Yes, we still like sfi-fi and action movies. Iron Man 3 http://youtu.be/Ke1Y3P9D0Bc was a hoot and a half AND a very smart film. And we can't wait for Pacific Rim http://youtu.be/5guMumPFBag (GIANT ROBOTS!!). We even root for dreadful films, because if the genre falls out of favor we lose our chance to sell our work.

But we don't look at films the way normal viewers do. We generally don't get lost in the snazzy special FX.
We're thinking about all the cynicism involved in the deal. We think about how much the suits prefer reboots and retreads to new material. We think about how they prefer to dumb down a script to get the wides audience age range possible. It is discouraging for us and it is also infuriating.

So, no. We are not insulting your intelligence when we rail about how inane the latest blockbuster is. We're not thinking about your reaction at all. We're thinking about those meetings and the scripts not sold in favor of studio hacks with fraternity connections. We are glad that you were excited that there was finally a Star Trek film you thought you could talk to us about. And we do apologize for turning purple and screaming at you. It wasn't personal. How do you talk to us about films? Let us bring it up. If we loved something, we let everyone know it. And for goodness sake, if you've never done it before, don't ask Jon what he thought of that sci-fi film you really enjoyed. He will tell you what he thought, no matter the carnage that causes. I can't tell you how many screenings I've dragged him from to keep him from insulting someone or everyone. The man just can't lie.

The next blog will have project updates!

Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Month of Fun 2013 Wrap Up

The Month of Fun for 2013 is now over, but as last weekend illustrated quite graphically, there is always spill over into June an beyond. That is a teas and a half, but I'll go into more detail about the weekend's shenanigans later. Let's get to the recap of last month's big fun!

A quick note from last week's blog: Whitey Bulger, it turns out, was hiding in plain site at the Borders Books and Music that I worked at along with Craig, Marie and Phil. I always thought so. It just stood to reason given the general insanity of that store.

For more photos from the MoF 2013, go here: http://dlwarner.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_8369.html

Rock Star

There was nothing crazy like zip lines or hang gliding going on in my life. However, I was able to do a lot of things that I haven't been able to do at all in years. The biggest feat for me was to be useful on a full production set for a whole shift and it didn't put me in bed for a week. Now, I couldn't run around all over the place like a hummingbird the way I could ten years ago. Let's be clear about that. I had to keep my gear in my little rolling cart most of the time. I needed to have a home base where I sat a lot of the time though I was within easy reach of the main action and everything else. There was a great deal of stress from moment to moment along with the crazy surprises that can happen during a shoot. I even managed to find a nice set of crayons for some children who were with visitors to the set and found a nearby restaurant that delivered in that neighborhood for a crew member that only ate salmon (I will never mock the need for a smart phone again). You have to be a rock star every moment on a set, because the only thing anyone remembers is the one time you fail. It was a really fun day. I just wish I could share what I was working on. Alas, that is still top secret.

On a side note about smart phones and filmmaking, they are a miracle. There is so much available from my laptop (they are so in sync that it is scary), I can be on the road and access answers to a problem almost like I was home. I am in easy reach in the laundry room or at the courtyard garden. My paranoia about missing an important call has diminished all the way down to just the bathroom. I am not taking a phone in there!

Food Round Up

I did get to the number one restaurant that I really wanted to try during the Month of Fun, but I'll get to that in a moment. I also did a lot of run cooking and there were many small treats as well. Somehow, I wasn't nearly as decadent as I would have liked. I've become a responsible snacker, I suppose. For instance, I made an effort during the MoF to get up early enough to enjoy a half dozen doughnut holes from my favorite doughnut shot. This man is an absolute genius with sweet dough. Toward the end of the day you can see racks of croissants and other treats proofing for the next day. The down side of his genius is that he is typically out of everything by 10am. To snag something from this heavenly shop, I have to get up and out of the house in time to dash into the doughnut shop and get on the road to wherever I'm going. This MoF, I managed to get there three times! Joy! No, I haven't mentioned the name of the joint, nor will I. There are too many hipsters trolling the neighborhood. They've already found my favorite market and buy up my soup stock fixings. I must draw a line! The other early morning snack I adore is the Sausage Biscuit with Egg breakfast at McDonald's. I don't usually get to have that very naughty meal because it's hard for me to get through my appointments before the end of breakfast at McDonald's. There is nothing worse than taste buds
set for breakfast when the restaurant is set for lunch. Even though they are rare treats, I still make sure I pay for them. I walk two miles for each order of doughnut holes. The breakfast sandwich costs four miles. I never have them on the same day. It's not that I'm no longer a Sybarite. I'm just one that likes to stay healthy.

There were many tasty beverages that I managed to have during the MoF along with the nearly weekly martinis at the Culver Hotel. There were the margaritas for Cinco de Mayo and the Mint Julep and Sweet Iced Tea for the Kentucky Derby. I also got to partake of some lovely Vampire Merlot. And of course, there was a lot of champagne. I am so lucky to be born during the same month as Mother's Day. Champagne is on sale for the entire month!

And then there were the restaurants! The big one that I've wanted to visit for some time was Waterloo and City. It is on the same block as super star chef Roy Choi's A-Frame. The theme is British pub grub. The atmosphere is casually elegant. We went on a Monday, because it's the night of a special menu that includes one of Jon's favorite items, Fish and Chips. My party was convinced that I'd go for the Beef Wellington. I was convinced that I'd order it as well. It was the dish most often mentioned on the cooking/travel shows that included restaurants. However, it had been very warm that day. Somehow. Meat covered in puff pastry wasn't that appealing on a hot day. Instead, I went for a delightful squid ink pasta with shrimp and lobster. It may sound strange, but it was amazing. We all had the sticky toffee pudding. That was really good, but Jon and I liked the same dish at the Culver Hotel Better. Overwall, the restaurant was good, but the company made the evening great.

Cooking during the MoF was all about the tagine. I'm glad that I became a more experienced cook before getting one of these. I would have only used it for Moroccan dishes. That means, it would have had a lot of dust on it between uses. Now, that I know it to be a cooking vessel for tough cuts of meat and a low temperature, I've used it for all sorts of things. Most notably, I roasted baby back ribs in that puppy. They were so good that they needed no sauce. I've used them for chicken parts for the slow cook in a relatively quick time. The possibilities are mind boggling and I haven't really cracked open the cookbook that came with the thing! That was a very good gift for the MoF. But then, all of the lovely, thoughtful gifts this year made me so very happy. They mostly showed that my family and friends really know me well. That's always a fun thing.

For more photos from the MoF 2013, go here: http://dlwarner.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_8369.html


All in all, it's been an excellent Month of Fun personally, professionally and emotionally. And this was very fortunate as I now have an inbox so scary that it should have me cowering in a fetal position in the nearest closet. How will I work my way out of this?

Stay tuned!

But wait, I haven't explained what Jon and I were doing sketching nekkid people last weekend. I don't want to short change the event, so explanations will have to wait for the next blog. Believe me, it's worth it.