Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Happy Mardi Gras everyone! Fat Tuesday to be exact for those you prefer the literal translation. For the past week, there have been Carnivale in Venice, Brazil and Mobile, Alabama to celebrate the coming of Lent. One last fling before we all buckle down and repent for the 40 days before Easter.
Did you know they've been celebrating Mardi Gras in Mobile, about as long as they have in New Orleans. Since 1703 apparently. I have no idea about this, until my BFF from Mobile told me. Check out the Museum of Mobile site here. And how fabulous that New Orleans went through with Mardi Gras this year, despite the devastation the city went through with Hurricane Katrina. It just goes to show that you can't keep New Orleans down. Like Scarlett O'Hara in GWTW, New Orleans will rise again. It won't be the same city, but I'm sure the New Orleans before the Civil War was different, and the same with the New Orleans before WWI (Storyville anyone?).
I've never been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. It just looks a little too wild, and I worked with a director who got shot at Mardi Gras. I have however experienced Carnivale in Venice, which was the most amazing experience. What was even wilder was that I ran into Heather Graham at the ball at Palazzo Pisano Moretti which is the grand ball of Carnevale. How weird is that?
When I was a kid, I knew Mardi Gras as Shrove Tuesday. I was raised Episcopalian which is Catholic lite and the school that I went to in NYC was named after two English saints, St. Hilda and St. Hugh. Well, Shrove Tuesday is a big deal in Europe. Most catholic countries celebrate it, as well as England. The origin of the name Shrove lies in the archaic English verb "to shrive" which means to absolve people of their sins. It was common in the Middle Ages for "shriveners" (priests) to hear people's confessions at this time, to prepare them for Lent.
Every year, we'd have a pancake supper at school to celebrate. For years, I used to wonder, why pancakes?
Well, thanks to Yahoo! I finally know why. Apparently in England, in order to use up all the eggs, flour and milk, which was forbidden during Lent, people would make pancakes the day before Lent, serving them with a sugary syrup, which we now replace with maple syrup.
Now of course, we have the International House of Pancakes, which knowing a good marketing opportunity when it sees one, now has a Shrove Tuesday night at all their locations. Patrons were entitled to a free "short stack" of IHOP pancakes. IHOPs across the country will celebrate National Pancake Day from 7 AM to 2 PM.
I've missed it, but anyone who lives on the West Coast can still make it.
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, which is the first day that I will be giving up bread, sweets, Starbucks, and tabloid magazines. Basically everything that makes life worth living. In 40 days, I'm hoping that I will be expunged of my sins, not to mention thinner, and well-informed about something other than whether or not Nick Lachey is going to get spousal support.
Laissez les bon temps rouler!
So, I watched the final episode of The Bachelor, and can I just say that it was the most boring episode ever? Did anyone really think that he wasn't going to pick Sarah? Heck, Chris Harrison spilled the beans before the show even aired. By the way, I know that the contestants can be fined like a million dollars for letting the cat out of the bag, so what happens to Host boy? Does he have to cough up the big bucks for telling Kristin Veitch that he couldn't believe they went all the way to Paris for Travis to pick a woman who lived like 3 blocks away?
Seriously, did anyone believe that Travis would pick Moana the mysterious, the woman who's emotional baggage could fill a Louis Vuitton trunk, despite their chemistry, over cute and perky non-threatening Sarah? Who would be a less demanding doctor's wife? Moana was just way too emotional for Travis. I felt for the girl though when he put her back in the limo.
I learned two things from watching The Bachelor last night:
1) Moana cooked for meals for the women in the house and they turned around and treated her like Typhoid Mary because Travis liked her. After she fed them! Personally, I would have let the heifers starve.
2) If I had drunk a shot every time Sarah said that she and Travis were perfect for each other or mentioned 'Nashville' I would have passed out before the end of the show.
And what was up with the ring on a chain? Why bother at all? It's just taunting her, this ring could be yours if this relationship works out. I hope they at least let them keep the Escada dresses they wore.
I can't help remembering Byron's proposal to Mary Delgado in Spanish, so that her parents could understand how he felt about her. It was so romantic. Dr. Dork looked like he was asking Sarah to the prom or to go steady with him.
I just don't quite get why Travis is so perfect for her besides being geographically desirable. Any conversation that they showed was all about how they lived in Nashville. Is that what makes them compatible?
That's like my saying that because Ralph Fiennes has his moon in Scorpio and I'm a Scorpio, we should be together because Carl Jung says that's the most desirable combination in a couple. Like Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman each have their moons in their partners sign, and they've been married since the dawn of time. So, I should what? stake out the stage door of the theater where Ralph Fiennes is playing to convince him of our compatability?
Moana, honey, you deserve better than Travis. You are the apple on top of the tree, and Travis is not man enough to climb up and claim you. Don't let this get you down. Be proud that you now know that you can fall in love, and that you took a risk. So many people live their lives playing it safe.
You are a winner!
Monday, February 27, 2006
I hope everyone had a great weekend, I know that I did.
To get over the trauma of Thursday night, not to mention the fact that I stupidly scheduled myself to work six nights in a row, I took myself off for a mini-break down to our Nation's capital.
There's nothing like going to museums, eating good food and just relaxing to help get over a disappointment.
One of the good things about living in New York is that cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC, and Boston are just a few hours away by good ole Amtrak, for those who don't particularly care to fly. I don't mind flying but Amtrak is such a convenience. Just hop on the 1 train to Penn station, and there you are! Sure it's pricey, but while I'm on the train, I can envision what it was like during the golden age of train travel. When people had private pullman cars (which contrary to GH, you can't just hook up to any ole train) when they traveled.
3 hours and 25 minutes later, I was in DC at Union Station, which has to be one of the nicest statons in the country. Really, Penn station could take notes. But then again, Penn station is like the bastard step-child compared to Grand Central. Why? Because they tore down the old Penn Station that was really nice, to put up the unfriendly, yucky station that we have today.
I took the Metro to my hotel (Day passes cost $6.50 compared to NY). I love the DC Metro, the stations look like space pods, but it gets you where you need to go in minutes. I literally got off the train at 12:45 and got to my hotel by 1:00 p.m.
I stayed at the Hotel Lombardy which is downtown near GWU. Right next door is the Arts Club of Washington, house in a house that James Monroe, our 5th President, once lived. The hotel was okay, a little shabby despite the fact that it was supposed to be newly renovated. Only one elevator worked, and it was manually operated which meant it took forever.
The room itself was clean, with a little kitchen area with a microwave and two chairs and a table which was pretty cute. I dropped off my bags and headed out. The sun was shining although it was windy. I picked up a ticket to see Don Juan at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in downtown, and then headed over to the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
The museum is a very good idea, showcasing the history of women artists over the centuries, but the collection is very small, and they're missing several important artists including Artemisia Gentileschi. I think part of the problem is that most of the well-known artists are already in museum collections. What the museum should be focusing on are unknown artists. The Dahesh museum had a really good exhibit on Women Impressionist painters a few years ago, and I think this museum could benefit from a good curator.
I worked out, relaxed, had dinner at the bar at Old Ebbits Grill, and then saw the show which was fabulous. It made me nostalgic for acting, particularly since they were doing Don Juan. I've always loved Moliere and I was lucky enough to do two of his plays during my career. I'd auditioned for the Shakespeare Theatre numerous times, so it was nice to actually see their work.
Sunday, I went to my favorite place in DC for breakfast. Teasim is a lovely little restaurant that serves organic food and tea. They make the best ginger scones. I actually have to thank Rachael Ray for letting me know about this place. I had the cilantro scrambled eggs with tea smoked salmon. Yummo as Rachael likes to say. They give you a gigantic mug of Chai tea for less than what you'd pay at Starbucks.
I didn't meet any cute guys, but I wasn't looking for them either, although if anyone knows where the guys who work for the British embassy hang out, let me know!
I was having such a good time that I almost missed my train. I had just enough time to get from my hotel to Union Station with ten minutes to spare.
Oh, and yes, I did pick up two books in DC, both YA since I'd finished the Eloisa James that I was reading, and the A.N. Homes book on Los Angles.
I can't go anywhere without checking out the bookstores!
Friday, February 24, 2006
Hi, my name is Elizabeth and I have social anxiety disorder.
No really. I have no problem if I go to a party or an event and I know people, but stick me in a room with a bunch of people I don't know and I freeze up like a deer in headlights. It's not pretty. And to make it worse, I often put myself in situations, like last night, where I act like a complete and total loser.
In my defense, I thought that I would be meeting someone that I know last night. Otherwise, I wouldn't have spent $75 for the privilege of drinking apple martinis, and wandering around the 69th Armory looking at stuff I can't buy. Okay, truth time, I was also hoping to run into Auction guy. You might remember from a previous post that I met auction guy at a friend's house, and I really liked him.
So there I am at the event, and there he is, and guess what?
He doesn't freaking remember me! Yep, has no clue who I am. Looked right through me. So, I guess I'm not as cute as I think I am. I definitely wasn't memorable to him, despite the fact that we held hands in a circle at one point during the dinner.
Okay, so here comes the part where I should be wearing a Scarlet letter L on my purple turtleneck, which by the way is a perfect look if you're small-chested. Really, turtlenecks make you look like you're actually busty. It's why I wear them alot during the winter. It's my shot at having La Belle Poitrine, also known as cleavage without a miracle bra.
Where was I? Oh right. I'm a loser. Instead of just going up and introducing myself and mentioning where we had met (something I've done before with other people), I did nothing. It didn't help that he showed up with an entourage of women. I felt like I was in an episode of the Bachelor, trying to get the guy's attention.
But then two words: Burberry Chick
You know, tall, blonde, young, stacked wearing a Burberry tartan miniskirt that probably cost half of what I make in a week.
Dude has a girlfriend, which my friend didn't tell me about probably because she didn't have the 411 on the situation. Sometimes without meaning to, your friends give you misinformation like the tabloids, only they're not trying to boost their circulation.
So there I am stalking this guy around the Modern Show, like Pepe le Pew after the poor black cat with the white stripe that he thinks is a female skunk.
On the upside, several women and a couple of gay guys complimented me on my skirt, black, pleated with a net overlay with sequins that I bought back when Express actually made clothes that people wanted to wear, as opposed to the expensive H&M knock-offs they're making now. FYI, Express stop making crap! Anyway, my legs were wasted on this crowd. Not to toot my own horn, but I have a great set of gams. Not Stacey Keibler 42 inches, but they're nicely toned and shapely. Ex-sweetie pie once told me it was the first thing he noticed about me.
Back to my story, so I finally decide to get the courage to say something, and he's leaving! With his entourage! I thought of going up to him then, but I was afraid I was going to get all Allie G. on him and talk about my rotting eggs and demand to know if my boobs were too small. So I didn't do anything.
Truthfully I couldn't be more pathetic unless I tried to cut off my head with a butter knife.
A friend sent me an email the other day called Women are Like Apples. I'm sure most of you have seen it but it bears repeating:
The best ones are at the top of the tree. Most men don't want to reach for the good ones because they are afraid of falling and getting hurt. Instead, they sometimes take the apples from the ground that aren't as good, but easy. The apples at the top think something is wrong with them, when in reality, they're amazing. They just have to wait for the right man to come along, the one who is brave enough to climb all the way to the top of the tree.
So I guess I'm still waiting for the right man to climb my tree.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
The dude on top is the great Ira Aldridge, 19th century black tragedian. You could say he was the first black superstar actor, only he had to leave the United States to fulfill his dreams. Most people don't know about Ira Aldridge. I studied theater history in college and I'd never heard of him, but then we really didn't touch upon American theater until the 20th century. And you can be sure we didn't learn anything about what black people might have contributed to the theater. No Williams and Walker, certainly I had no idea there were any black playwrights writing in the 19th Century until I actually directed a play written by a Creole playwright who moved to Paris to write.
I first became acquainted when the theater company I was working with scheduled a production of a play that he wrote called The Black Doctor. I had no idea who he was, but I quickly looked him up and was fascinated that this man existed at a time when black actors were forced to do minstrel shows. Wow, I thought a black actor who specialized in doing classical theater. Somehow I didn't feel so weird anymore for my love of Shakespeare, and Chekhov.
Truthfully the play was pretty creaky. It was one of the those 19th century melodramas designed for the star actor. Sort of an updated version of Othello. You know, well-educated black man becomes doctor, marries white woman, people are shocked etc. But the fact that he wrote it, and that it was performed, and that it hadn't been lost to history like so many other things was pretty cool.
Anyway, back to Ira Aldridge. He was born in New York City on July 24, 1807 to a free couple, the Reverand Daniel and Luranah Aldridge. He was educated at the African Free School in New York City. He probably went to see plays at the Park Theatre, in the special balcony's reserved for blacks at that time. His first theatrical appearences were with a company of black actors at the African Grove.
Confronted with the disapargement and harassment that black actors received at that time, he moved to England where he became a dresser to the actor Henry Wallack. Gradually progressing to larger roles, by the time he turned 18 he had top billing at London's Coburg theater. He eventually played Othello, becoming probably the first black actor to ever play the most famous role for a black actor ever.
Can you imagine what it must have been like for audiences at that time to see a black actor playing that role instead of a white actor wearing shoe polish? The scene where Othello smothers Desdemona must have sent shock waves through the audience. I've read that some critics thought he was entirely too realistic in that scene. Now of course, we take it for granted that black actors play Othello, but even in the twentieth century it was more common for white actors to black up to the play the role, until Paul Robeson took the stage. Even now for a white actor to play Othello, it would be considered a sacrilege. When Patrick Stewart played the role in DC, he was the only white actor in the cast. But things were totally different almost two hundred years ago.
Not only did he play roles like Aaron the Moor in Titus Andronicus, but he also essayed roles that were specifically white characters like Shylock in Merchant of Venice and Richard III. He was considered the black Edmund Kean, the way Billy Dee Williams has been called the black Clark Gable.
He toured all across the British Isles and then onto continental Europe. He spent most of his final years in Russia, where he became acquainted with Leo Tolstoy and where he learned the language well-enough to perform in that language. See Condoleeza Rice isn't the only African-American to learn Russian!
Yes, he married two white women. Get over it, who else was he going to meet back then mixing with white society? He had six children, one of his children Amanda coached Paul Robeson when he came to London to play Othello in the 1930's. Another son was a composer, while another emigrated to Australia.
He's buried in Poland, where he died, in the city's Evangelical Cemetary. His grave is tended to by the Society of Polish Artists of Film and Theatre. Apparently he's like a saint to the Polish theatrical community.
Tomorrow: Ida Wells-Barnett, pioneering journalist and anti-lynching advocate
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
I was surfing the Internet looking for information on Ira Aldridge, the famous black tragedian when I came across this website listing the 100 Famous Britons. By the way, that's not Ira Aldridge, you'll have to wait for tomorrow's post to see a picture of him.
The dapper dude to the left is Daley Thompson, two time Olympic Gold Medalist in the decathalon. I had a huge crush on Daley during the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984. I just thought he was so sexy and he had an English accent. Got to love a brother with an accent particularly one as fine as Daley.
I had no idea what a decathalon was until he appeared on the scene. Then I got up to speed quickly. Isn't he beautiful? I just have to say it again.
Anyway, this web-site is really interesting. Ira Aldridge is included because he became a naturalised British citizen like T.S. Eliot and Henry James. I once had an argument with an Englishman about whether or not T.S. Eliot and Henry James should be taught in American or English literature. Mind you this is the same guy who told me that T.S. Eliot spelled backwards is toilets. (Not really but close enough). But I digress.
As I was saying the web-site was fascinating for the people that I didn't know about. I mean, Naomi Campbell, Seal, Sade, Cleo Laine, Shirley Bassey, blah, blah, blah. We all know about them. We should know about Lenny Henry who did one of my favorite sit-coms called Chef. Do you know when they were shopping around an American version, all the networks complained that it was unrealistic because there were no black chefs? Hello Marcus Samuelsson anyone?
What was I talking about? Oh yeah. There were some interesting factoids, like the guy who taught Charles Darwin taxidermy and went with him on the maiden voyage of the Beagle, Samuel Johnson's assistant, the first black mayor in England, and the first black members of Parliament.
What was bizarre were the inclusions of hello? Elizabeth Barret Browning and Queen Charlotte, George III's wife. WTF? It's like saying Pushkin was black (although have you seen the portraits of him? He was only like 1/8 but it did stand out). Apparently even Saint George of Dragon fame and the patron saint of England was black. Do the Queen and Prince Philip know this?
Check out the website and see: http://www.100greatblackbritons.com/home.html
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
This was fairly shocking back in the fifties. A murdering child? Get out of town. Remember this was before Columbine, FBI Profilers, John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy. The idea of a child killing, let alone a little girl must have been scandalous. Now of course, it's nothing new, we see it on the news, and on Jerry Springer all the time.
Then there's Single White Female phenomenon. You know the movie where creepy Jennifer Jason Leigh moves in with pretty and clueless Bridget Fonda and then tries to steal her life, or how about that Shannen Doherty movie they keep running on VH-1, Friends till the end where pretty and clueless Shannen befriends the creepy girl with no friends who tries to steal her boyfriend and her band.
Remember how shocking Single White Female was? I remember a friend telling me that she lived it. But now there have been so many movies and TV shows with that plot line, how do you make it fresh.
Well, how about making the pretty, well-adjusted girl the psycho and the creepy girl the one who is innocent? Who would suspect the pretty girl of stealing anyone's life, let alone creepy girl's? Wouldn't you believe creepy girl was the one murdering all the co-eds instead of the pretty cheerleader?
I think about this all the time when I feel like I'm writing a cliche. How do I turn this on it's head and not make it a cliche. How can I possibly make it fresh so that people don't groan when they read the scene.
Anyone else face this problem?
Monday, February 20, 2006
I've done absolutely nothing this weekend apart from work, watch the entire first season of Grey's Anatomy (I'm totally obsessed), and see Brokeback Mountain finally. Wow, what a great movie and so terribly sad. I still can't believe that the screenwriters took a 14 page shortstory from the New Yorker and turned it into a two hour movie. I have to say it blows my mind.
And Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal are so perfect as Jack Twist and Ennis Delmar. You totally believe that these two men love each other, but they can't admit it, nor can they break free of their lives and live openly. It just hurt my heart watch the mess the two of them make of their lives during the course of the movie.
I felt sorriest though for Ennis because at least Jack wants to take the chance, to live openly together but Ennis can't open himself up, not even to his wife or his kids. Not to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen the movie yet, but when he goes to visit Jack's parents, and he sees that Jack had kept the shirt that he first wore when they were together for the first time on Brokeback Mountain, you can't help but feel his pain.
I almost felt numb when the movie was over, it was that powerful.
I've been reading Dwight Swain's book on characterization (if you don't have it, you should), and watching the short piece on the Grey's Anatomy DVD, what he talks about hit home to me. Shonda Rimes said that she wanted the characters on Grey's Anatomy to be people that everyone wanted to hang out with every week, and I really feel that when I watch the show.
It's what I hope to convey in my fiction, people who you want to take a journey with, that make you laugh, and cry, and get angry with when they do stuff that pisses you off.
Friday, February 17, 2006
Well, I was supposed to go to Venice for Carnevale, but ended up not going because of work, so I had already asked for some time off. When I put in my schedule, I didn't know that I could override it so that I didn't have to sign up for three days of work. Go figure. Now I know!
I'm so excited. I managed to scrounge up a copy of the first season DVD of Grey's Anatomy. Psych! So you know what I'll be doing this weekend, in between working. I had planned on getting it from Netflix, but I was just too impatient, so I bought it. I'm saving the receipt, so that I can write it off on my taxes. You know, claim that it's research for a medical romance that I'm writing.
I made another decision. I've decided to use my middle name for my YA books when/if they are published. I decided this for two reasons, 1) to honor my mother who named me after a character in a detective novel she was reading (is it any wonder I'm a writer?) and 2) Kerri seemed like a young adult novel name. So hopefully you'll be seeing the name Kerri Mahon on the Teen Book shelves in the future.
I've also decided to take a permanent job at the company that I've been working for since September. This is a big step for me. For one thing, I only get two weeks vacation which is criminal. The Europeans have the right idea, most of them get at least 7 weeks a year. But after careful thought, I'm not getting any younger, it's health insurance, and after being unemployed last year for two months, it's nice to have the steady income, two steady incomes at the moment.
I can't help feeling I'm saying good-bye to my freedom, but until I get that six figure book contract or that movie deal, or get married, I have to think about my future.
Yikes, I feel like such a grown-up!
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Both my junior and senior proms were incredibly different than the my two heroines. First of all, my school was incredibly small, so the juniors actually had to go to the prom with the senior class otherwise they wouldn't have been able to afford a prom. Also, my fashion choices were great. You can't go wrong with black, and gold. I didn't have a date, but then neither did most of the people at the prom.
Junior year, the prom was held in an incredibly tiny room at the Regency Hotel, which I don't think exists anymore. Senior year it was held at the St. Moritz hotel which is now the Ritz-Carlton. Back then, the St. Moritz was owned by Trump before he bought the Plaza Hotel. It was chiefly famous because Rumpelmayer's was downstairs.
Most of the proms back in my day were held at Tavern on the Green, so we dared to be different. So many proms were held there, that it wasn't uncommon for more than one prom to be booked in a night in the various rooms. My friend's prom didn't start until 10:00 p.m. because there was another prom before it.
Other traditions included riding the Staten Island ferry back and forth until 4 in the morning. Don't ask me why! And having an early morning breakfast at the Empire Diner.
The biggest scandals at my prom were LeAnn and her ex-boyfriend having an intense discussion on the terrace while her date paced back and forth, threatening to punch Jeremy out at any second, despite the fact that Jeremy was about 6 inches taller, and outweighed Alcides by a good 20 pounds. The other was of course, our gym teacher/chaperone who was drinking heavily and really didn't pay that much attention to what we were doing because he was drunk.
So, any one have any good prom memories? Bad? Ugly.
Share, you'll feel better in the morning.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
|Your Candy Heart Says "Hug Me"|
A total sweetheart, you always have a lot of love to give out.
Your heart is open to where ever love takes you!
Your ideal Valentine's Day date: a surprise romantic evening that you've planned out
Your flirting style: lots of listening and talking
What turns you off: fighting and conflict
Why you're hot: you're fearless about falling in love
Well, that's the truth. I could use a hug right now. I wish I could say I was fearless about falling in love. It would be wonderful to have someone right now, the only problem is I have absolutely no time to find someone! I have to trust that my tarot card reading was right, and that when the time is right, I will meet someone.
One year, he wanted to take me to Benihana of Tokyo, and I hectored the poor guy into taking me to Barbetta, a super romantic restaurant in the theater district. I made him feel bad because he wanted to take me to a restaurant with flying knives! Was that nice of me? No, but it had to be my romantic day. Ouch! I'm amazed that he put up with me for almost nine years.
No one even really knows the true origin of Valentine's Day. There are lots of theories. Some say that it originated from St. Valentine, a Roman who was martyred for refusing to give up Christianity. He died on February 14, 269 A.D., the same day that had been devoted to love lotteries. Legends also say that St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer's daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it "From Your Valentine".
Monday, February 13, 2006
So we had record snowfall this weekend in the Northeast and the city pretty ground to a standstill yesterday. Me, I got up in the morning, put on my snow boots and headed off to my exercise class. The snow was so pretty out when I went outside. Just pristine, like someone had upended a giant jar of marshmallow fluff across the city. Just huge piles of fluffy snow.
I went to school in upstate New York for 2 1/2 years (spent one semester in London) and yesterday was pretty much an everday occurrence from October through April. No matter how much snow fell, you went to class. There were no snow days in Syracuse for us college students. You just strapped on your snow shoes, Timberlands, and headed off to class.
Aren't the puppies cute with their sweaters and snow booties on? The best yesterday was watching this guy try to move his car without scraping any of the snow off the top. He just kept gunning the ignition while he tried to maneuver his car out of the tight space it was in.
People get so funny in New York when it snows. I ran into my neighbor across the hall Friday night, and he was stocking up on provisions like he was expecting Armageddon instead of a few inches of snow. Okay, alot of snow but still.
I stayed home yesterday for most of the day, only venturing out for dinner and water. Watched a fantastic night of television, Desperate Housewives followed by the best show on TV, Grey's Anatomy. What I love about Grey's Anatomy is how they manage to combine the drama with the comedy. There's Meredith with her hand on live ammunition, asking Christina to talk to her, because a) she's freaking out, and b) she really has to pee. And then the last scene where Derek aka Dr. McDreamy tells Meredith about the last time they kissed. My heart melted.
Oh, I also discovered a new tv show on the History Channel called Digging for Truth, starring a hottie named Josh Bernstein, who's sort of a Jewish Indiana Jones. The program was on Stonehenge, the origins and what it might have been used for. Very intersting. Great to see a show that had nothing to do with Hitler, although they made up for that with a show on Hitler's family.
But the best news of all was I picked up Evelyn Vaughn's newest Bombshell, Something Wicked which I'm currently reading.
Keep warm and stay dry,
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Ah, how sweet - you are an Ingenue. You are the
youngest of the heroines, sweet yet not
insipid, pretty but not cloying, and just out
of the schoolroom. You have been living in
the country all your life, and are part of a
large family. Your father is probably a
curate, and you are not very well off.
Despite your youth and naivety, or perhaps
because of it, you are quite fearless and
will not follow convention just because it is
the thing to do. Instead of being properly
bored at society events, you are excited just
to be there. An older and jaded member of
the Ton, who is cynical about women and had
never intended to marry, finds you refreshing
and adorable, and quickly falls under your
spell. Despite all warnings, you fall in
love with him in return. It transpires that
his black reputation and cynical exterior
hide a kind and noble, yet deeply wounded,
heart, and you marry and live happily ever
after. Make the most of this while it lasts,
because I fear your sort of heroine is quite
annoying, and rapidly falling out of favour
with modern novelists.
The Regency Romance Quiz: What kind of Romance Heroine are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Friday, February 10, 2006
I can't believe I missed the repeat of Sunday's Grey's Anatomy! I mean could they have announced or something? I had no idea until I was at work last night and I happened to see it on one of the TV sets. Unfortunately, I couldn't watch it because I was stuck watching Beauty and the Geek 2, which actually isn't that bad, and I was taping Dancing with the Stars at home, which I still haven't seen because I didn't get home until 1:00 a.m. and barely had enough time to brush my teeth, and wash my face before I fell head first into bed.
I'm so peeved at Project Runway right now. Uncle Nick, my favorite from the very first episode was cut Wednesday night. However, I'm not surprised, his last few designs were uninspired and in this episode, he seemed to lose his mind. I mean who designs a men's suit without pockets or a belt loop? In pale lavendar cashmere, and this was a men's suit. Yes, Santino's jumpsuit didn't fit and it was falling apart, but Nick's looked worse. And we all know they're only keeping Santino around for entertainment value. He's this season's Wendy Pepper but with more talent.
I'm so tired from lack of sleep and lack of caffeine, that it's like I'm typing in a coma right now, but I have to finish typing the fourteen pages that I rewrote into the computer before the end of the day. I've done 6 pages so far, and I have 8 more to go.
This section totally sets up the relationships of everyone for the rest of the book. All the main characters are introduced. My job is to manage all this without drowning the audience in backstory, which is my bete noire when it comes to writing. Also show don't tell is something I'm trying to be very aware of.
So far the revisions are going okay, and I've designed a plan to keep my interest from flagging which can happen during the second and third drafts of a book.
Anyway, back to the grindstone. That thud you hear might just be my head hitting the keyboard if I can't say awake!
Thursday, February 09, 2006
It's been awhile since I've indulged my obsession with real estate porn on this blog, but I was reading an article in the Sunday New York Times, and I had to share it with you all. The above mansion, on Long Island's Gold Coast, was once known as Chateau Voltaire. Why because it was a section of a chateau in France, that the owner believed had been lived in by Voltaire and his mistress during the 18th century.
It's actual name is Chateau des Thons, because it's an entire wing of the actual Chateau in the Vosges area of France near Dijon. The original owner, Ashbel H. Barney, was in the market for a French chateau (aren't we all?). Back in the day, the robber barons used to travel to Europe and buy whole crateloads of paintings, furniture, interiors, for their McMansions back in the States. J.P. Morgan was notorious for that.
But that wasn't good enough for Mr. Barney. He bought an entire wing, including the green moss, and the flagstones from Les Petits Thons back to New York.
The romantic story behind Chateau des Thons is that Voltaire and his mistress one Madame du Chatelet, carried on a 16 year affair in the chateau. The affair supposedly ended when she got pregnant with a third man's child and died giving birth.
However, the true story is that Voltaire never lived in the chateau with his mistress, he lived in some other chateau. That of course, didn't stop real estate agents or Gold Coast historians from repeating the story, until it became local legend.
You can buy the mansion for the relatively bargain price of $7 million dollars. It's one of the few Gold Coast Mansion still in existence. Once upon a time, particularly during the twenties this part of Long Island was covered in huge mansions, up to 450 of them, mainly built by millionaires flush with cash from various enterprises. F. Scott Fitzgerald based Jay Gatsby's house on a mansion that was unfortunately torn down during the '60's.
Huge yachts lined the harbor, some of which were unfortunately shot to pieces by the Coast Guard who mistook them for rum runners during Prohibition (can you imagine the Coast Guard shooting up Trump's yacht or the Forbes yacht today by accident? They would have their ass sued so fast). Wild parties went on for days (P. Diddy has nothing on the revelers of the 1920's).
All that ended during the Great Depression, but if you want an idea of what life was like for the rich take a look at the mansion on Sotheby's real estate site or pick up a copy of Monica Randall's "Mansions of Long Island's Gold Coast" to have a look. Some of the mansions are still open to the public.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Next thing you know she's walking into public restrooms in bare feet. And now she's seen driving with her four month old baby on her lap.
Her defense? 'To protect him from the paparazzi'. Um, Brittney, how is holding him on your lap instead of in his car seat going to help him if you're cut off by some photographer?
I don't care if your bodyguard is in the seat next to you. They invented car seats for a reason. Use one.
She says that she loves her baby, and would never do anything to harm him. I'm sure that's true, but I don't care if you're just going to the corner store to buy more pork rinds, the baby should be in his car seat. If you're worried about him, you can have the bodyguard sit in the back with him, or better yet, let him drive, while you sit in the back with your child.
Apparently, she's now under investigation for child endangerment, just like anyone who was seen driving with a baby on their lap.
I sincerely hope actions are taken, and that Brittney learns that just because you're a celebrity, you aren't above the law when it comes to children.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Since February is Black History month, I thought I'd share an article that I wrote for our newsletter on Frank Yerby.
I first heard of Frank Yerby while watching the movie version of his novel The Foxes of Harrow on late night television. Rex Harrison played Stephen Fox, a gambler, newly arrived in New Orleans. He builds "Harrow", the greatest mansion house and plantation in Louisiana. In the book, he loves three women: Odalie Orceneaux, his wife; her sister, Aurore; and Desiree, his Black mistress. Fox had a child by each of them. Of course, none of that made into the movie, it was the 1940’s after all. But it was certainly juicy stuff for an eleven year old.
When I discovered it was based on a work of fiction, I immediately sent out to find a copy in the library. This was in the seventies when writers like Frank Yerby, Catherine Cookson, John Jakes and Taylor Caldwell were still writing novels of historical fiction. I had no idea that Frank Yerby was African-American until I saw his photo on the book jacket. My limited experience with black authors back then was reading the poetry of Phyllis Wheatley and reading Toni Morrison.
Reading Frank Yerby’s novels opened up a whole new world for me. It also made me realize that I could write historical fiction, and not be limited in my subject matter.
Frank Yerby was the first African American to write a best-selling novel and to have a book purchased by a Hollywood studio for a film adaptation. During his prolific career, he wrote thirty-three novels and sold more than fifty-five million hardback and paperback books worldwide. Two other books were also adapted for Hollywood, The Golden Hawk and The Saracen Blade.
His first literary success came in 1944, when he received the O. Henry Memorial Award for his short story "Health Card," which focuses on the racial inequities faced by an African American soldier and his wife. Prior to this story, Yerby had written a protest novel about racial inequities in the South, but publishers had rejected it. Perhaps as a result, he began to write historical novels centering most often on white protagonists.
It is from these novels that his literary reputation was built. The Foxes of Harrow (1946), in particular, laid the foundation for his career as a popular novelist by becoming the first best-selling novel by an African American author and earning him the title "king of the costume novel."
Many of his novels were set in the antebellum South and feature dashing white male protagonists who experience adventures of romance, mystery, and intrigue. Also, unusual for the time, they feature interracial romances when it was still illegal in many states for blacks and whites to sit at the same lunch counter, let alone get married. He also wrote novels set during the French and American revolutions, Central America, the South, ancient Greece and Israel that were meticulously researched.
He also wasn’t exclusively a novelist; he was also a short story writer and a poet as well. His stories have been included in A Century of the Best American Short Stories, and his poems in American Negro Poetry.
He was often criticized by other African-Americans for not writing solely about black protagonists. Even though, he held the distinction of being the first best-selling black novelist, he was also disparaged for his lack of racial consciousness. His response was that a novelist shouldn’t inflict on the public his private ideas on politics, race, or religion.
In 1991, he died of congestive heart failure in Madrid, Spain, his place of residence since 1955, after he left the States to protest racial discrimination. His books are now out of print, just a footnote in literary history while other writers such as Zora Neale Hurston, and James Baldwin are still studied and talked about. Hopefully one day, he’ll receive the recognition that he deserves as a truly talented writer of historical fiction.
Monday, February 06, 2006
We had another successful RWA meeting this Saturday. I want to thank the goddess that is Wendy Corsi Staub for braving the monsoon that blew saturday to come speak at our meeting, when she has 5, count'em 5 deadlines to meet by June. Her talk was really inspiring. She's now on my list of writers that I admire along with Jennifer Crusie, Marley Gibson, Eileen Rendahl, Meg Cabot and Lani Diane Rich.
She shared a really difficult time that she had recently which led to her writing the book of her heart, which is now being published in December of this year, after intially being rejected by publishers. See, even writers who have published 60 books can still get their proposals rejected which made me feel slightly better. I mean this is a woman who survived writing Fabio's romance novels (Yes, Fabio didn't wrote those books. Shocking I know.)
She also suggested that we be prolific. While we're sending out one book, start another which is going to be my philosophy for now on. I have too many books in my head that I want to write, to spend more fruitless years trying to get just one book published.
I'm hoping that like Madeleine Hunter, a publisher will say to me, 'what else have you got?' and I can drag out the opus that is Nearly Famous and dust it off.
Right now, I'm working on my query letter, which for me is worse than writing the synopsis. The query letter is the first thing that an agent sees, sometimes it's the only thing they see. If they don't like the query, they may never request a partial from you, so it's crucial that the query convey your story in such a way that they can't wait to get a copy of the book in their hot little hands.
In the case of my YA 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love,' I need to convey not only the story, but let them know that my book is inspired by Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and that there are actual fairies in my book.
Hopefully I'll post the blurb in a few days, to see what people think if I'm brave enough. Right now, I'm in the refining stage. I sat down this morning and started to write it out. It's a little choppy and needs to be edited and punched up considerably.
I've given myself a deadline of the end of the month, to get the revisions done, and to start sending out the book to agents. Mercury goes into retrograde the first three weeks of March, so it won't be a good time to start submitting.
In other news, I've sent in my form for the NEC conference in Natick, and I've signed up for an agent appointment, so keep your fingers crossed.
Friday, February 03, 2006
BLUES are motivated by INTIMACY, seek opportunities to genuinely connect with others, and need to be appreciated. They do everything with quality and are devoted and loyal friends and employers/employees. Whatever or whomever they commit to are their sole (and soul) focus. They love to serve and will give freely of themselves in order to nurture others lives.
BLUES, however, do need to be understood. They have distinct preferences and occasionally the somewhat controlling (but always fair) personality of a confident leader. Their code of ethics is remarkably strong and they expect others to live honest, committed lives as well. They enjoy sharing meaningful moments in conversation as well as remembering special life events (i.e., birthdays and anniversaries). BLUES are dependable, thoughtful, nurturing, and can also be self-righteous, a bit worry-prone, and emotionally intense. They are like sainted pit-bulls who never let go of something once they are committed. When you deal with a BLUE, be sincere, make an effort to truly understand them, and truly appreciate them.
What Color Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
I don't think the judges quite realized (amazing considering Michael Kors is a designer) that working with real flowers was a challenge. First of all, the contestants only had $100 to work with which doesn't buy you much, even if you buy wholesale in the flower district. Second, flowers die quickly particularly since this show was shot in the summer when it was like 99 degrees outside. They risked making dresses with a bunch of dead flowers. So the majority of the designers stuck with hardier materials like leaves, moss, peat etc.
Our next show up is Dancing with the Stars, which I have to admit is one of my favorite shows, although this group of celebrities are so much more competitive than the last group. They all want to win, win, win, the giant discoball trophy. The only person who is been having fun every week, is the one person who is never going to win this competition, and that's George Hamilton. He's just there to have fun. I'm sure he's amazed that anyone remembered that he was still alive to do this competition. He makes the judges laugh and I'm sure he'll be around for another week.
I'm very glad that P. Miller (aka Master P.) was finally booted off. It was criminal that Giselle Fernandez, a really good dancer, was booted off before a guy who clearly didn't want to be there, and wasn't willing to put in the time and effort to even be half-way decent, particularly when everyone was working their butts off every week. Even George Hamilton spent more time rehearsing than Master P.
The surprises this season, besides how many of the celebrities are good, are Stacey the professional wrestler and Drew Lachey, Nick's little brother. First of all, I've totally rethought my feelings about professional wrestlers. This woman could be dancing on Broadway, and she has legs that are longer than two of my arms. Her samba last night was phenomenal, and she totally deserved her perfect scores (more so than Kelly Monaco from last season).
And Drew Lachey? Well, people are now going to know his name apart from just being his more famous brother's little bro. Every week, he just brings it, despite how tired he must be. He's a true performer, just like Joey McIntyre last season. It just goes to show that boy band members have hidden talents.
Lisa Rinna? It's amazing how much her partner Louis Amstel (who must be so happy this season that he has a good partner, unlike the dud Trista Sutter he had last time) looks like a gay version of her husband. For someone who keeps reminding us she's a 42 year old mother of two, she certainly brings it every week. Unlike Tia Carrere, who seems to have lost steam these past two weeks.
My final show is The Bachelor. Why do I watch this show? Well, I could win a trip to Paris if I accurately predict who he chooses for the final rose, which is pretty much the only reason I'm watching. Oh, and they go to Venice on one of the fantasy dates. And they're living in a gorgeous house in the French countryside. The women? The same cookie-cutter women they have every season. The guy? Travis has shown as much personality as road kill and he's acting like a perfect gentleman. I think he's kissed like two of the women so far, and no heavy duty make-out sessions. A far cry from the days when Jesse Palmer made out with three women on one date.
He maybe a gentleman but it makes for boring TV when you also have no personality. I predict he'll end up with sweet, seemingly virginal Sarah from Nashville.
And hopefully I'll be wending my way to Paris.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
That's Punxatawny Phil, the groundhog who predicts whether or not we're going to have six more weeks of winter. According to the news ole Phil popped out of his den this morning to announce after seeing his shadow, that yes indeed we can expect six more weeks. Since I live in NYC where it snows rarely and we've been enjoying pretty good weather so far, I'm not sure what to think. Are we suddenly going to have blizzards in the next six weeks? The temperature going to drop to oh say 19 degrees?
Truthfully, I went to college upstate in Syracuse, so six more weeks of winter doesn't phase me. It's winter about 8 months of the year up there.
It just reminds me of how much I have to do in the coming six weeks.
Here's my to-do-list for the next few weeks in no particular order:
1. Go to the DMV Express to get NY State I.D.
2. Sign up for the New England Conference
3. Book hotel for New England Conference
4. Buy gift bag for Saturday's speaker
5. Look up information about logoed panties
6. Start thinking about March President's Letter for Chapter newsletter
7. Try to decide whether or not I'm going on vacation at the end of the month
8. Try to catch up on my sleep
9. Buy birthday cards for friends
10. Mail back books that I borrowed from ex-friend
11. Finish re-reading manuscript to make revisions
12. Finish watching Midsummer Night's Dream movie
13. Take advantage of tax-free week
14. Write out scenes that need to be written and purpose of scenes
15. Re-work synopsis
16. Start getting queries ready for end of month blitz (have to get this done before Mercury heads into retrograde in March)
17. Do taxes, now that I've gotten all W-4's in mail
18. Go have Tarot card reading at Enchantments to find out if there's hope with ex-friend
19. Fill out schedule for next six weeks chunk for second job.
20. See Oscar nominated films before Academy Awards in March
21. Have a massage
22. Do random act of kindness
23. Try to decide if I want to give Match.com a shot
24. Send out resumes for permanent job, preferably in creative field, that doesn't involve too much actual work.
25. Win Mega Millions
Wow, that's 25 things! I'd better get started if I'm going to accomplish them all.
Thanks for reading,
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Yesterday afternoon, not one, but two of the printers that my group uses when kablooey. One printer only printed out blank pages with like a line of gibberish on top, the other printer had a document stuck in the queue, so that no one else could print.
So like any good Executive Assistant, I called the help desk. By the time I got through all the prompts, I was exhausted. Then came the ten minutes of answering questions from the guy on the other end of the line, after I got disconnected and had to call back and go through the whole prompt thing again.
They made fixing the printers a high priority which was great. Then came the waiting. Finally a technician on our floor showed up. More questions were asked. Then he went away. He came back with another guy. They looked at the printer. They left. Two more guys came and looked at the printer and then left. Finally the first two guys came back and looked at the printer. In the meantime, the printer still wasn't working.
Finally at 4:00 p.m. another guy showed up and started asking me more questions. I showed him the printer queue on my computer that showed that someone was printing something that was jamming up the printer. He had me call someone on the phone about the printer who was supposed to be working on the problem from her end.
I spent a fruitless minute playing interpreter between the two of them before I finally handed him the phone. And the printer still wasn't working. Neither of them. Because I had to open two seperate tickets for the printer, I have no idea when anyone is going to come and fix the second one.
The upshot was that finally this morning the printer is working. Which is great because I needed to print 50 more pages of my manuscript to read and revise and it would have sucked if I hadn't been able to do that.
But here's my question: why did it take like 8 people speaking printerese to fix this printer? It's like that old joke about how many [fill in the blank] does it take to screw in a lightbulb.
And all the printerese they were talking, like I had gotten a degree at APEX Tech and knew what they were talking about. Hello, I own a crappy $75 ink-jet printer. I know nothing about huge laser jet printers apart from how to change the toner, and apparently that takes forever to do here since the mail clerk guy has to be summoned to do it.
And my second question is, if you send something to print, why not go and pick it up? Is the document going to walk itself to your desk? And if it hasn't printed after about ten minutes, why not delete it from the print queue so that other people can print?
Apparently this is just too much work or too technical for some people.