Saturday, May 31, 2008

Moral Ambiguity - So Hot!

It was recently announced a few months ago that the delicious Richard Armitage would be joining the 7th series of Spooks (which is shown in the States as MI-5) this coming fall. Hallelujah, finally Richard will be in an awesome show, instead of the piece of crap that is Robin Hood. Unfortunately it won't be shown in the States until probably 2009. Boo!

Of course the news has all my friends who have joined the North and South cult very happy. As my friend Liz Maverick said, 'Moral Ambiguity is so hot!'

At least it is when Richard Armitage plays it! His Guy of Gisbourne, along with Keith Allen's Sheriff of Nottingham, is the only good thing about Robin Hood. How can you not find a man, who is evil but still sensitive when it comes to the woman he loves, hot? Its one of the reasons why his performance as John Thornton in North and South has struck such a chord with women.

John Thornton is hard, because he needs to be, to run the mill in northern England. His family has already suffered one reversal of fortune, and it was up to John to change all that, to be able to provide for his mother, and his sister. He has to make hard choices, hiring scabs when the workers go on strike. But his love for Margaret Hale, leads him to discover that it is possible to be an effective businessman, while having some compassion for his workers. They struggle to understand each others position, to overcome their prejudices (sound familiar?). In fact, like Darcy in Pride & Prejudice, Thornton finds himself falling in love with Margaret, even though he's not sure he even likes her. The proposal scene in North and South will break your heart.

And now we get to see RA in MI-5, which is an amazing show that everyone should watch, even though he's not in it yet. Right now, it stars Rupert Penry-Jones, who played Captain Wentworth in the recent version of Persuasion, as Adam Carter. Before that it starred Matthew Macfadyen (who later played Darcy) as Tom Quinn. If only they had cast Richard Armitage in the recent spate of Jane Austen adaptations, it would have been a trifecta! The very lovely Peter Firth, who was so good in Equus and Amadeus on Broadway, plays the leader of MI-5.

This show is kind of like Alias, but MI-5 is actually real, unlike the agency that Sydney worked for that was some kind of CIA splinter group. The missions are also more realistic as well. No one swans off every week wearing skimpy costumes and wigs. MI-5 is the agency in Britain that deals with counter-intelligence. According to Wikipedia, its remit includes the protection of British parliamentary democracy and economic interests, counter-terrorism, counter-intelligence, and counter-espionage. Whew!

If you loved Alias, and miss the thrill of espionage every week, you'll love this show more, because the story-lines are sort of like Law & Order, ripped from the headlines. If you haven't seen it, BBC America shows it Wednesdays at 9 pm. Also, the first four series are on DVD, so go out and rent them.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Look for Less

Anyone who knows me, knows that I like to think of myself as something of a fashionista, and not just because I watch Project Runway. Maybe its because I watched so many movies made during the 1930's and the 1940's, but there is a certain way that I like to look. Sort of classy, glamorous, elegant and sexy are words that come to mind when I think of my look.

I just flat out love clothes, although how I came by this interest, considering that I wore a uniform for twelve years, is anyone's guess. My mother had a flair for clothes (she wore a lipstick red Christian Dior suit to the hospital before she had surgery), and I guess that I inherited that.

However, money can be tight, particularly since I buy a lot of research books (not everything can be found at the public library unfortunately), so I have to buy things on sale or look for less expensive options. Fortunately there are stores like Ann Taylor Loft that allow me to look cute for less money. Like this dress which was $34.00. I bought a cute short-sleeved white cardigan from Old Navy for $24.50 to go with it.

I'm also a shoe whore, seriously if I would work for shoes, I would except for that whole having to eat thing. Peep toes, sexy platform shoes that look like they came from the 1940's, thong sandals and cute flip flops. You will never ever see me in a pair of earth shoes or birkenstocks, I don't care how they bedazzle them. They are still fugly (hey's it only my opinion). Now these flip flops are adorable, also from Ann Taylor Loft and relatively inexpensive for $24.00. They are red patent leather, and very comfortable. I wore them last weekend to Megan's warming of the house along with an adorable madras miniskirt (another look for less).

All told, the dress, cardigan and flip-flops cost me less than $100. And I'm stylish and ready to go for a summer weekend in the city!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Talking Top Chef

First of all, how awesome is it that there are 3 women in the finals this year (even if it does include sour puss Lisa) instead of the usual one? I'd say that there is a very good chance this year that a woman will finally take the title of Top Chef. No offense to Richard, but I'm really hoping you go down dude next week, and that Stephanie and Antonia are the final two. Stephanie has been one of the most consistent chefs this season. She's won, what like 4 Elimination Challenges? Antonia is pretty awesome as well, although the poached egg deal, is so over.

As for Spike? Sayonara dude. I've been jonesing for this guy to go since like the second week of competition. The whole hat thing, while cool, was getting old. And his need to try and screw everyone over, just backfired on him repeatedly. How much did you just want to slap him when he snapped at Rick Tramonto about the frozen scallops, about how he shouldn't have had them in the pantry? Loved Tom Colicchio mentioning that Spike had been in the bottom 7 times this season.

Ah my Harold, it was so good to see him, although I always get the feeling when they bring him back, he'd rather be anywhere else but on Top Chef? Seriously, you are getting a free trip to Chicago and a real meal, look happy for once. All we need to do is to bring back Cliff and Tre wearing a wife beater and I will be a happy girl. In fact, I was so happy to see this episode that I left during the intermission of Sunday in the Park with George to watch Top Chef. That's kind of sad, when reality tv is more exciting than Stephen Sondheim!

Sunday in the Park with George
is kind of about the painter George Seurat but not really. It is more of a meditation on a painter named George who is so consumed with his art, he neglects human relationships. Hmm, where have I seen that before? Not really original and the music was just middling Sondheim. It was sort of Sondheim in his Stravinsky period, sort of atonal and not fun. The performances were excellent and the staging was intriguing but not enough to make me stay through the whole performance.

I think I mentioned that I'm done outlining Chapter 14 in my manuscript. Now all I need is some Victorian etiquette books and I can rock on with it through the edits. It has been hard getting back into writing mode after the long weekend, although I did do some editing. I have a feeling until the end of June, I'm going to be writing 7 days a week on this book which kind of sucks but is necessary.

Hmm! What would Nora do?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Adventures in Research - Part Four

So the weather has been teasing us once again here in New York. First it was lovely this weekend, and then yesterday it started off raining, then sunny and humid, and then rainy and then just rainy and humid. My hair just doesn't know what to do with itself. I wish I had the money to afford the brazilian anti-frizz treatment that is now popular for us curly-heads. Its supposed to be better for your hair that the japanese hair-straightening technique that came to our shores a few years ago. Apparently the brazilian version puts keratin in your hair when it straightens and anti-frizzes.

I am ashamed to say that I only wrote two pages yesterday on my WIP but I had to stop and do some research, which has just given me some great ideas for future scenes. That's what I love about research, when it can actually help with the plotting as opposed to just telling me what kind of corsets and skirts people wore in the late 19th century.

It was immensely gratifying for me to learn that I could have my heroine play basketball in college, and that they had electric lights, central heating, and an electric trolley to take my heroine into town, not mention flush toilets and bathtubs with running water. In fact, I may have to write a scene where my heroine can take a bath just so that I can include that little tidbit!

So far, I've learned about late 19th century Halloween traditions. Did you know that it was the Irish who brought jack o'laterns to the States? In Ireland, they use to carve them into turnips to scare away Stingy Jack, which is this whole legend which I won't get into. Anywhoo, when the Irish came to the US, they discovered big fat pumpkins, which were better for carving the jack o'laterns than turnips.

Trick or treating came later in the 20th century, but I have more than enough stuff for my Halloween scene in the book. And I gave one of my character an Irish granny so that I could impart the information without it being too much information dump, which can slow down the narrative.

I also got sidetracked by discovering another Scandalous Woman to write about, darn it. More books for me to buy, which is going to cut into my shoe budget immensely. Still now that there is NO TV for me to watch since all the season finales for my shows are over, I am going to be spending my nights editing and my days writing in order to get this book finished.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tuesday Talk

Had a fab Memorial Day weekend, hanging out with the Megan and her friends at her warming of the house. Hard to believe that National is less than two months away, kind of freaking out about it. What to wear, budgeting my money to do fun San Francisco things, etc. Also went to see Iron Man on Sunday. Really liked it, but I wanted more and I'm not sure what. Maybe because it was the first movie, I wanted a little more about the relationship between Obediah and Stark. Loved Robert Downey jr. and Jeff Bridges though. Even Gwynnie was fine. Thought it was hysterical, her trying to run away from Jeff Bridges wearing platform stilettos.

Now its back to the grind of work and by work, I mean revisions on the WIP. I'm up to 50,000 words (175 pages) and I have about a month to write the other 175 pages of the book. I'm figuring that the book should run about 350 pages. Lots more fun things to write about in terms of college life in the 19th century.

Also have more interviews in the works for both blogs. Right now on Scandalous Women, I have an interview with Paula Uruburu, the author of American Eve, about Evelyn Nesbit and Stanford White. I'm pretty proud of it, and I hope everyone will stop by and take a look. In the meantime, I can't believe that I have written 900 posts on this blog! Where has the time gone? It seems impossible to me that I could have written so much.

So on to the Bachelorette. I need to check my bank balance to see about getting a laptop so that I can live blog this thing, because its so much better when you are in the moment. So everyone is hating on Jeremy because he got a second impression rose from DeAnna and he gets to stay in the house another week. Dudes, whatever he's got it, its working because girlfriend is seriously smitten with him. Found it interesting that she kept Graham since the guy has had only one serious relationship in his life and he's almost thirty.

Jason seriously needs to tell DeAnna about his son, and I'm surprised that he didn't tell her during the party before the rose ceremony. I have a feeling from the preview that when he does tell her on their one on one date, it doesn't go well, since he waited so long. Then again, I'm been burned by the previews before where it looks like the guy is going home, and he doesn't (or girl, remember her bad overnight date with Matt which then turned out well for her, after she took off her panties!). I really like Jason and I admire his love for his son, although you have to wonder about him leaving the kid to go on a reality dating show.

I'm also glad that Fred, Jesse and Richard are still in the running but what was the deal with Twilley? Seriously, she kept him over virgin Ryan who was at least hot? And she never found out that he was a virgin, although maybe the whole faith thing turned her off. You knew Greek boy was going since every word out of his mouth was about him and her being Greek. Seriously dude, George Stephanopolous is Greek too, and he married a WASP, it can be done. You don't need to scour the earth for your Greek bride, although it might make a funny reality TV show.

I like the whole idea of the guys getting to live in the house with DeAnna but considering that these episodes are 2 hours long, it might have been nice to see some more interaction of DeAnna with the guys in the house. Unless it all takes place off camera. Thought the whole bunk bed situation was awesome, and the outdoor shower.

I'm really liking this Bachelorette primarily because while DeAnna is serious about it, she's also in it to have fun as well. Does anyone remember how painful Jen Scheft's season was? Although I have to admit while I was watching Tommy LaSorda at Dodger stadium, I kept waiting for him to offer the guys some Slimfast.

How hysterical was it that Chris, the guy who played minor league ball, couldn't hit? Thought his explanation that he was a pitcher hilarious. Must have played for the American League. Chef boy Robert flaming out was pretty cool too. Is it just me or did Jeremy seem fake when he was telling DeAnna about his parents death? I'm going to have to watch him more closely.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Royal Weddings Week

Tis the season for weddings and this week there are not one, but two Royal Weddings. The last time this occurred was about four years ago when Prince Frederik of Denmark married Mary Donaldson and his first cousin Prince Felipe of Spain married his bride Letizia.

Last Saturday was the first wedding for one of the Queen's grandchildren. Her grandson Peter Phillips (son of Princess Anne) married Autumn Kelly, a lovely Canadian that he met at the Montreal Grand Prix a few years ago. They were married at St. George's chapel in Windsor.

Unfortunately Prince William was unable to attend, having a prior committment to serve as best man at a friend's wedding in Kenya. But his girlfriend, Kate Middleton and Prince Harry's girlfriend, Chelsy Davy, were at the wedding.

This weekend sees the wedding of Prince Joachim of Denmark and his bride Marie. This is Joachim's second marriage. He was married before to Princess Alexandra, who since her remarriage is known as the Countess of Frederiksborg. They had two sons. Marie is French, like Joachim's father.

I love weddings and nothing is better than a royal wedding.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sceevy McGreevy

Remember this guy? Mr. 'I am a gay American' Jim McGreevy, former governor of the state of New Jersey who had to resign because his closeted gay life was about to be revealed? The man who hired his boy toy, who had no experience, in a high-powered job? Remember him?

Well, Jim McGreevy is back in the news, because he claims that he can't get a job now that he's come out as a gay man. WTF? Yes, that's his excuse for not wanting to pay alimony to his ex-wife. His attorney claims that Dina Matos McGreevy doesn't deserve alimony because they were only married for four years, and she made more money than him during the marriage.

However, far from being broke, McGreevy made $429,000 in 2006 and $185,000 last year. She of course claims that he duped her into marrying him, by concealing the fact that he was gay. He says that she knew and that they often had three-somes because that was the only way that he could perform. Thank god their daughter is too young to understand most of what is going on, because did she or anyone really need to know that?

Apparently, he also suffers from selective amnesia as well, claiming that he can't remember who paid for their wedding and honeymoon, which probably means it wasn't him. My favorite was the part where he said that he didn't take all his salary as governor of New Jersey because the state needed it more than him. How altruistic of him, considering he was also putting his boyfriend on the payroll and allegedly indulging in threesomes with another state employee.

I get that Dina McGreevy is a little pissed that her life as a Governor's wife was cut short when her husband had to pull an Elliott Spitzer and resign, but she needs to just put the past behind her, and move on. I don't think she is owed alimony because she got used to a certain lifestyle as New Jersey's first lady. She wasn't even first lady that long. But she is owed something because they do have a child and she's about to lose her job next month when the hospital where she workds as an executive closes.

And Jim McGreevy needs to stop being a jerk and just pay child support and dive their assets and get it over with. He's now studying to be an Episcopalian priest lord help us. Not because he's gay, because there are openly gay Episcopalian priests including a Bishop. I don't think he has the tools to be an effective priest. In the last few years, he's basically been living off his boyfriend, and friends who have employed him, who also have paid for his vacations.

Apparently he also hasn't paid child support for his other child. Does the word 'deadbeat' mean anything? Just because he's incapable of managing his money, doesn't excuse him from supporting his children.

Oh and as for being unemployable, a radio station offered him a talk show and he turned them down.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

And The Winner Is!

Yes! I am so happy that I can't stop smiling. I came home last night after a fabulous dinner at Chow Bar with my Impossibly Handsome British Friend certain that Archie was going to take home the crown and boy was I wrong!

David Cook won and not by a little, nope the dude beat Archie by 12 million votes. So there Simon, Paula and Randy. I wonder if this was their diabolical plan? Praise Archie to the skies and then let the voters take over.

All in all, the finale didn't totally suck although my DVR cut off Idol just after Ryan Seacrest said David Cook so I spent all last night wondering if I had heard wrong. I had to immediatel confirm it when I got up this morning and turned on the Internet. I thought the performances for the most part were pretty good except for Seal and Syesha. The song was too low for her and Seal sounded like he had a bad cold. They totally didn't blend well at all.

DC outsang Archie on 'Heroes', DC sounding remarkably like Chad Kroeger, and then we had that horrible sketch with Mike Myers pimping his new movie The Love Guru which in my humble opinion (at least judging by what I saw on the show) is totally going to tank. Amanda Overmyer looked pained to be there, like she'd just looked over her contract and realized that she was owned by 19 Entertainment for the next three months even though she didn't make the tour. Jason Castro proved that he really can't sing anything that doesn't have folk/rock vibe, although he sounded awesome on Hallelujah again.

The highlight for me besides DC playing with ZZTop was Carly Smithson and Michael Johns (looking hot as always) singing a duet on 'Letter.' I may have to go see the Idol tour if they can promise me that those two will sing a duet again. They were awesome together and should definitely record a song for their albums.

Loved Carrie Underwood's new single. Girlfriend has come along way since Idol. She's definitely become a star with a capital S. Loved the outfit, loved her stomping on the stage, and loved the song. I will definitely have to download it when I get my new iPod. Jordin Sparks, not so much. First of all, what the hell did the costume designers put her in? Or was that her stylist who should fired immediatley for gross crimes against an American Idol. She looked like a mylar balloon.

George Michael? Awesome but the dude seriously needs to take the sunglasses off indoors, particularly when you are singing. The audience would like to see your eyes (this goes for you too Archie). He sounded pretty good for someone who had a cold. How great was it to see Simon actually apologize?

And then the moment we were all waiting for:

David Cook wins.

No worries Archie, you will have a career as soon as you finish high school and you hit puberty. Hook up with David Foster, the man who gave us Josh Groban and you will be fine.

As for David Cook, I will buy his album (or download it since this is the 21th century!).

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Do You Want Some Ham To Go With That Cheese?

So I settled in last night to watch the American Idol showdown and for a moment I thought I had stumbled on the WWF. What the hell was that on my show last night? That whole ridiculous boxing metaphor? Seriously? I have to give Cookie and Archie props for going along with it, and it was nice not to see Seacrest's face for the first five minutes of the show, but it was just stupid. However, I did love the fact that Archie apparently weighs the same as a golden retriever. Did anyone else vomit in their mouth a little during that whole introductory package? Both guys came out in boxing robes and gloves with cute nick-names like David 'Sugarfoot' Cook and David 'Babycakes' Archuleta. I think they even bumped gloves. The boxing metaphor went on and on, there were video segments with sportscaster Jim Lampley giving tips.

Did anyone get the feeling, besides me, that Andrew Lloyd Webber doesn't have much love for the Arch? Or that the judges did everything they could to hand the crown to David Archuleta after the first song, especially Simon. Wasn't this the man who a week ago was saying that he wanted David Cook to win? Because you wouldn't have known it by his performance last night. I read that the producers want Cook to win but I guess they didn't give the judges that memo. And geez, Randy, get some new material. During his critique of Archuleta, I swear it sounded like he was just reading off a list of things he'd previously said about Archie, everything from 'you're in the zone,' and 'you could sing the phone book.'

Clive, Clive, Clive. This is like the fourth time that Clive Davis has chose 'Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me' for a contestant in this show. Did Elton John and Bernie Taupin gift him a percentage of the royalties? Don't get me wrong, I love this song, particularly the duet that George Michael did with Elton, but the song is tired. Of course, Archie did a good job, but it was boring and were the other two songs that he sang. Three ballads in a row people. I was nodding off towards the end.

Love him or hate him but David Cook at least keeps things interesting. I actually kind of liked the song he chose from the songwriting competition. It had a good beat and you could dance to it which kind of obscured the fact that the lyrics sucked. I could actually hear that song on the radio as compared to the slice of treacle pudding that David Archuleta sang. Seriously Simon thought that was the better song?

When it comes down to it, no matter who wins, I'm buying David Cook's album and I bet I'm not the only one. See, the thing is, while tweens may love David Archuleta, they grow up and move on to other artists, and then where will David Archuleta be? Playing in Branson at the Osmond family theater that's where. Plus, the producers are going to have deal with his scary father, who makes Dina Lohan look well adjusted. Archie is no Josh Groban, who at least has a good sense of humor and is kinda hot.

Oh, and the silly boxing metaphor was over on Dancing with the Stars as well. After booting Christian in five minutes, we then had to sit through mucho filler before the final dances and Kristi being crowned the winner.

Thank God!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Things I wonder

Like will it ever stop raining here in New York? Seriously, the weather has been sucking big time the past few weeks. I don't think I've ever seen so much rain. I swear I saw someone building an ark in their backyard. Plus its cold and windy, it feels more like late March than late May. I want some sun, and some heat and I want it know.

The other thing I wonder is why they keep messing with things at Whole Foods? I mean, I understand the whole paper bag with handles thing. But the quality of the products they've been selling has gone down considerably since the first Whole Foods opened in New York about 8 years ago. I can't even find my veggie Canadian bacon anymore and its pissing me off.

Also why is The Bachelorette so much more fun than The Bachelor? Maybe its because watching 25 guys act like complete idiots is less degrading than watching 25 women act like idiots. Come on, we expect guys to act like jerks, nitwits and idiots when they are trying to get our attention. We can all recite the cheesiest pick-up lines that we've ever heard. I'm a little peeved with Reality Steve for picking on DeAnna for being The Bachelorette. Apparently he doesn't think that six months is enough time for DeAnna to wear sackcloth and ashes for Brad Womack. She should have entered a convent after he dumped her on national television. Instead, the fact that DeAnna has decided to pick herself up and try again means that her feelings for Brad couldn't possibly have been real.

Steve, I've had friends who were almost suicidal after breaking up with a boyfriend, and then the next week they were dating someone else. I think that DeAnna was clearly baffled and hurt by Brad, but she decidd to stop letting it define her, but you could tell by some of her remarks last night that she was still a little bruised.

As for the guys, I already have a few favorites. Fred from Chicago seeemed really sweet but he might turn out to be another Chad from Meredith's season. Jason, the single Dad, I can't imagine DeAnna entering into a ready made family, but who knows, and Robert the chef, did a good job impressing DeAnna by making a crab cocktail (clever of the producers to have crab conveniently located in the kitchen since you know Robert didn't exactly bring it with him). But my favorite is Richard, the science nerd teacher from Binghampton. He's cute, he's sweet, he's funny and he might turn out to be DeAnna's Ryan. The virgin born again? He won't make it. Remember Lannie from Meredith's season.

I have to say I'm impressed by DeAnna's taking the process seriously, and also that she doesn't want to lead anyone on. I think it might be a good season.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Weekend in New York

So this past weekend was really weird in New York. Friday night, it poured down rain, Saturday was beautiful, Sunday it poured down rain. I thought it was supposed to be April showers bring May flowers, not May brings Noah's ark.

On Friday, I went to my dance class because I had skipped last week to go to the Met museum. I managed to survive, even though I had to quickly learn the routine that everyone else had learned last week. I even managed to make it through dancing the routine twice with our instructor who is wicked good. I mean seriously good. All the instructors at Dancesport are professionals and have been dancing since they were in utero, they could all be on Dancing with the Stars, that's how good they are. And we were dancing the cha-cha which is normally a really fast dance, but Werner slowed down the music a tad for us.

Afterwards, I headed up to Lincoln Center to see Duel in the Sun, also known as Lust in the Dust or Hump at the Stump. It's a movie from the late 1940's starring Jennifer Jones, and Gregory Peck. The actors in this movie are so over the top, you can practically see the pieces of scenery in their teeth. I was also fascinated by how much make-up Jennifer Jones was wearing to be playing Pearl Chavez, who is half-Indian (you never do find out what tribe her mother is from, it doesn't really matter). This stuff must have been troweled on, and her red lipstick. Gregory Peck comes off a lot better than she does in the film. He played Lewt McCanles, the bad boy in the family. You can tell he's having a great deal of fun, while JJ is trying gamely to play a sexpot, a role that didn't come naturally to her. Ava Gardner would have been much better in the film, but it was produced by David O. Selznick who was JJ's lover and later husband, who wanted to make a Gone With The Wind type epic for her.

Saturday, I went to see this really groovy group at The Philoctetes Center called the Wingdale Community Singers (that's them in the picture). The guy in the hat is Rick Moody who wrote the novel the Ice Storm which was made into a film about six or seven years ago with Katie Holmes and Toby McGuire. The music is sort of alt-country, folk, with tinges of rock. Very cool. Of course, I had to purchase about 5 CD's to give to friends. I have a habit of buying multiple copies of something if I think my friends will like it.

THE WINGDALES COMMUNITY SINGERS. The Wingdale Community Singers play folk music that could have been written any time in the last sixty years. It's Old Time, it's High Modernist, it's experimental, it's resistant to interpretation, it's funny sometimes, it's full of dread other times. One aspect remains throughout: there's a lot of singing. And a lot of harmony. With Rick Moody (acoustic guitar, vocals) Hannah Marcus (acoustic guitar, piano, fiddle, vocals). David Grubbs (electric guitar, vocals). Nina Katchadourian (acoustic guitar, accordion, recorder, tomato, vocals).

I'm planning a field trip to see them play in Brooklyn in June which sounds strange since Brooklyn is part of New York, but to us Manhattanites, its like traveling to another state. You have to take the F train, which I like to call the Forever train because that is how long it takes for one to arrive. It should be fun. I have about people on the wagon so far.


Friday, May 16, 2008

The Church of the Great Gazoo

I spent a good portion of this morning, reading the Wikipedia entry on Scientology. After I got done, I thought my brain would explode from all the Operating Thetans, Xenu, and all the other crazy stuff they have going on in their religion. It seems to be a hodge-podge of science fiction and tenets borrowed from other religions such as buddhism. What really got me was that L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the religion also borrowed from Freud and Carl Jung as well, which is ironic considering the church's stance against psychology and psychiatry. I've never read all of Dianetics but my dad did and he tried to get me to read it, but I couldn't get past the first page.

I'm not going to go into all the particulars of the religion. If you are interested, you can read the Wikipedia entry here. But it got me thinking. If L. Ron Hubbard, a middling science fiction writer, can base a religion around the theory that aliens from another planet once lived on earth, then why not base a religion based on an actual alien?

Well, not a real alien, but the Great Gazoo, the little green man from The Flinstones. Seriously, is Xenu anymore real? At least there's written evidence that Jesus existed. According to L.Ron Hubbard, Xenu was the dictator of the 'Galactic Confederacy' who, 75 million years ago, brought billions of his people to earth in DC-8 like spacecraft, stacked them around volcanos and killed them using hydrogen bombs. Oh, and psychiatrists helped him do this. The rest is craziness you can read here.

On The Flinstones, the Great Gazoo, came from Zatox, and was exiled from earth for having invented a doomsday machine, a weapon of immense destructive power. His invention was a button which if pressed would destroy the world. He came to earth in a flying saucer and was discovered by Fred and Barney. Critics thought the idea of having an alien come to earth during the Stone Age was jumping the shark. But was it really?

Only Fred, Barney, Pebbles and Bam Bam can see The Great Gazoo because they believe in him. The Great Gazoo was always trying to help the humans, he called dum-dums, although he always seemed to cause more problems for them. But his heart was always in the right place.

So I propose to start the Church of the Great Gazoo. As soon as tax-exempt status is achieved, the church will work on building a space ship to help send Gazoo back to his home planet. We will also put out a book entitled The Wisdom of the Great Gazoo.

Seriously, worshipping the Great Gazoo can't be more bizarre than being a Scientologist.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

American Idol Bites

Well producers, you finally got your wish, Syesha Mercado is no more. Seriously, they did everything they could but pack her bags and leave them on the side of the stage on Tuesday night. Case in point, while young David got to learn his judge's song pick from the mayor of his hometown, and David Cook got to learn his while on live TV, Syesha found hers out while driving in a limo.

Then Randy gives her Alicia Keys 'If I Ain't Got You' to sing. This is the same man who keeps telling contestants not sing Whitney, Mariah, and Celine because they'll be compared to the originals. And finally the producers gave her some Rihanna reject to sing for her final song selection. And they lit her so that you could barely see her on stage. Girlfriend tried her best, but a combination of a personality that just didn't click with viewers and the judges who pretty much told her to start auditioning for the National Tour of Chicago and Rent sealed the deal.

And is it just me or could David Archuleta poop on stage and Randy Jackson would praise him for it. 'You did your thing dawg, you worked it out, it was the bomb.' Or my personal favorite, 'You're in the zone.' I get the fact that little A is a tween dream but does anyone really think that he's an American Idol. He seems so young, like he's been in a cloister for the past 17 years. I know that Jordin Sparks was young too, but Little A makes her seem ancient.

My money is on David Cook to win it. Not that I think he really needs to be forced to sing whatever 'This is my cliche' song that they come up with next week. I just hope that if he does win, the record producers let him do his thing. He's already released an independant album. Here's hoping that they listen to that, and also listen to what he has to say, the way that they did for Chris Daughtry. The reason that Chris Daughtry's album was so successful was because they let him be the artist that he really is. They didn't try to homogenize him, the way they did Bo Bice and Taylor Hicks. And he wasn't forced to making something palatable out of a song like "This Is My Now,' or 'Do I Make You Proud' (imagine what the song Taylor rejected was like).

So I'll be watching next week, because at least it won't be boring. I missed last year's finale because I pretty much knew Jordin was going to win it after Melinda Doolittle was eliminated. In a girl/guy finale, the girl usually wins, because the crappy song is usually better for her style of singing, then the guys. Except for when Taylor and Katherine McPhee went head to head because they had two different songs.

Will it be Little A or Cougar bait David Cook as the new American Idol? Does anyone really care?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Coffee Time


Apparently the coffee taste test that Liz Maverick, Leanna Renee Heiber, Stacey Agdern, Isabo Kelly and I did is currently the most popular video on Better TV!!

Check our your coffee taste test here:

If you have a hard time with the link, hop on over to Marianne's blog here to watch it.

We're TV stars!


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tag Tuesday

So I've been tagged by the marvelous Maureen for this meme:

1. Pick up the nearest book.

2. Open to page 123

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the next three sentences.

5. Tag five people and post a comment to the person who tagged you once you’ve posted your three sentences.

Okay, so the instructions imply fiction, but I'm at work and most of what I have here are non fiction and biographies, so I randomly grabbed REBEL ANGELS by Libba Bray which is a book that's been sitting on my desk since I finished it last fall (I swear I have almost as many books at work as I do at home).

What if Pippa is right and these men cannot be trusted at all? I can feel the man in the black suit closing in. I I were to scream, who would hear me above the hiss and snarl of the trains?

Wow. Doesn't that just grab you and make you want to read more? Find out who those men are who can't be trusted and who the man is that is following her?

Okay, so now I have to think of some people to tag, and I guess it would be pretty rude to tag anyone who's tagged me recently.

I tag:

Kwana Jackson

Patt Milhailoff

Isabo Kelly

Leanna Renee Heiber

Keira Soleore

Here's hoping they don't kill me!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Its Not Raining Men

Remember that song from the Weather Girls in the 1980's, the one that Ginger Spice butchered in Bridget Jone's Diary? Well its raining here (again) in New York and there are no men to be seen. Or cats and dogs for that matter. Do you know that I went to buy an umbrella last week in this fancy store and they had brollies for $200? I'm sorry but for $200 that umbrella better make like Mary Poppins and carry me over the rooftops.

See the hottie to the left? That's my new Object of Lust. His name is Nathan Gunn and he's an opera singer. Yes, I said an opera singer, which is funny because I think that most operas sound like cats yowling. But he was so hot as Lancelot in Camelot for Live from Lincoln Center that I would willingly go to the Metropolitan Opera House to hear him sing. And he's wearing leather pants!

Unfortunately (like Clive) he's married and has 5 kids. He also lives in the middle of nowhere Illinois when he's not off making womens knees weak like mine. And he has an amazingly glorious baritone voice. Sigh!

What else did I do this merry May weekend? Well, I braved the monsoon on Friday to go to the MET museum to see the Superhero costume exhibit which was lamer than lame. The exhibition was supposed to be how superheroes have inspired fashion. Guess what? Not so much. I did see an absolutely lovely Dante Gabriel Rossetti of Lilith which I fell in love with. I'm a sucker for the pre-Raphaelites.

Saturday, I went to see a documentary on Philip Glass at The Philoctetes Center because I'm all about the culture. I admit that I'm not a huge fan of his music, its a little too atonal for me for the most part, but I enjoyed the documentary and I came away with a new appreciation for at least his newer music. Nothing could make me go see Einstein on the Beach, his opera however.

What really got to me was the aspects of his personal life that we got to see. Glass has been married four times, and his current wife, Holly had had enough of his constant work schedule. For all intents and purposes, she was a single mother raising two kids, while he flitted hither, thither, and yon with his music.

There were lots of scenes of him at his place in Nova Scotia and in New York but what struck me was how often they weren't alone as a family. Even their vacations were about his work. We also got to see a little bit of his spiritual quest, which involves Tao, Buddhism, Shamanism, etc. I found that interesting because again it seemed to be at a remove from personal relationsips.

It brought home the point that there has to be some kind of balance between creativity and ones personal life. One can't be at the expense of the other. Perhaps women are better than this than men, since we are pretty much born multi-tasking. I can remember going from a dance recital to a girl scout jamboree to traveling to our house upstate all in one day. I was the master of changing clothes in 60 seconds. All the female writers that I know, particularly those who have children, have set times for writing, and then its family time. It may mean they produce fewer books a year (although in Wendy Corsi Staub's case, it hasn't harmed her output) or they have the ability to write fast. I also have other friends who have chosen not to have kids because they don't feel they have the time or attention to give to them.

Both films that I've seen recently about male artists, Robert Wilson and Philip Glass, there seems to be no balance really, its all about the work. Robert Wilson didn't seem to have any real personal relationships or we didn't seem them in the film. It made me very sad to see the breakdown of Glass's' marriage in the film. Unfortunately we only got to see his wife's reaction to it and not his which I felt was a weakness in the film.

The rest of my weekend was spent doing research and watching old movies on TCM.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

What City Do You Belong In

You Belong in Paris

Stylish and expressive, you were meant for Paris.

The art, the fashion, the wine!

Whether you're enjoying the cafe life or a beautiful park...

You'll love living in the most chic place on earth.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Interview with new author Leanna Renee Hieber

Got It Goin On is pleased to welcome new author and fellow RWA NYC member Leanna Renee Hieber to the blog. Leanna's first book, the novella Dark Nest has just been released by Crescent Moon Press and has garnered rave revews.

Praise for Dark Nest: "Fabulous read! Once I started, I couldn't stop until I reached the very satisfying end!" - Isabo Kelly,

award-winning author of Marshall's Guard

Chief Counsel Ariadne Corinth has just found out her long-time lover, the powerfully gifted Chief Counsel Kristov Haydn, has died. Newly evolved psychically gifted humans have been sent by the Homeworld on a space mission aboard two distinct “Nests”. Relationships between the Light Nest and the Dark Nest have faltered and Ariadne is sure there’s something insidious behind it. In a matter of hours, Ariadne must find out what really happened to Kristov, unite her people to discover vast new powers the Homeworld denied them, or else submit to genocide.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself, what is your background and how long have you been writing before you were published.

A: I can’t remember not writing. I grew up in rural Ohio with an overactive imagination. As I mention on my website, I started writing my first book (never to see the light of day, don’t ask) between the ages of 11 and 12. I started actively pursuing publication just after college, where I graduated with a BFA in theatre performance and a minor in the Victorian Era. When opportunities in playwriting and essays presented themselves, I actively pursued them and received my first publication credits. But I’ve always been a novelist at heart. The year after college I started writing the first of my dark fantasy trilogy. Once I had a complete manuscript, which took a couple of years, I started what would prove to be a long process of querying agents.

Q: Tell us about when you got “the call”

The first “call” was from my agent. Due to the nature of my fantasy novel, I felt I needed an agent to help me navigate the publication waters. It took almost four years to land an agent, after a huge and growing stack of rejection letters had been corroding my resolve. But I churned out more queries all the same. Finally I landed Nicholas Roman Lewis, head of a small agency looking to branch into fantasy representation. Nicholas has been a fierce champion of my work and we’ve got some great prospects on the horizon. As for my first book acceptance, that came in the form of an email from Crescent Moon Press, where I’d had previous experience publishing a short ghost story. Both the call from Nicholas and Crescent Moon’s acceptance have been vital validations to keep me going towards my next goal; a New York publishing house.

Q: What made you choose romance?

I always have a romantic through-line in my stories. While I’m not solely a romance author, (if I had to limit myself to a label I’d say I was a fantasy author); all of my ideas begin with love stories and expand to larger worlds from there. My close friendship with Isabo Kelly (multi-published and award winning author), one of my first friends in New York, who I met by a twist of temp-job fate, helped me define how I thought about and pursued various fiction markets; among many things, she told me about RWA and I’ll always thank her for her influence, generously shared knowledge and friendship.

Q: What you do love about writing romance? In particular futuristic and paranormal romance?

Romance is my “ hook” into the heads and hearts of my characters. The surrounding story, however large and high-stakes, seems meaningless without the love. It’s what drives me as a writer and drives my characters. I can’t seem to write about stuff that isn’t ‘weird’, paranormal is my normal. One of my favorite themes is when characters come together in a sense of community and love against backdrops and situations that are far from average. Whether it’s Victorian England, in space, or in ghost-riddled New York, love keeps things human in inhuman circumstances.

Q: Your first release Dark Nest from Crescent Moon Press is a futuristic psychic novella. How did you come up with the idea? Any behind the scenes stories that you’d like to share?

A: This may be my most amusing “inspiration” story since the initial thought process is so utterly far-removed from the end product. After the last Harry Potter, I, a HP fanatic, was sad that other than Severus Snape, no other Slytherin House characters seemed redeemed. I wondered if Slytherins, as a group, were misunderstood (I’m always interested in the misunderstood characters). What if they weren’t as bad as they were made out to be? So my initial thought for Dark Nest, a futuristic, psychic story set on space ships, stemmed from the idea of taking two separate, distinct “Houses” into a situation of my own innovation; i.e. into space, with psychic powers, and on two elaborate ships. Much like how the Hogwarts houses are separate “cultures”, I liked the general idea of playing with a love story crossing a cultural divide between two misunderstood groups that have to unite as a whole against a much larger threat. Once I established the characters and the world, it started to run away with itself and I was just along for the ride and enjoying it immensely.

Q: You also have a blog. Do you think that it will help get your name out there and generate new readers?

A: I sure hope so. A blog is a tool that our modern culture has provided, and I think we need to use whatever tools are available to cultivate a readership. I’m never going to be someone who blogs religiously, but it’s a fun forum, a more interactive platform between writers and readers.

Q: What do you think is the most effective way for a writer to promote his/her books?

A: I’m still learning. I welcome any and all strategies. (Seriously, contact me at my website and tell me your sure-fire methods). I’m trying to be on-line, at conferences, establishing web presences not just at my site but other online forums and yahoo groups, and doing video and written interviews like this, thank you Elizabeth! Since this is my first foray into really trying to “sell” a book, I’d have to get back to you on that one.

Q. What/Who do you like to read?

A: Harry Potter changed my life, it jolted my inner writer into high gear, transitioning me away from theatre and back to my childhood pastime of novel writing. I like to keep track of other YA works stirring up the magic, like Libba Bray’s trilogy. I just finished Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight this weekend, loved it. I read all over the place, and in all kinds of genres, from Jane Austen to Stephen King (two major influences), from graphic novels to romances. I’m also trying to catch up on reading the books written by my friends. There’s also research. Now I’m reading “Spook” by Mary Roach, a book about science and the afterlife.

Q. What is your writing process? Do you plot extensively first or do you tend to “fly in the mist?” Has your process changed over time? Do you write multiple drafts or clean up as you go?

A: I’m a “pants-er” through and through. I don’t really know exactly where I’m going till I get there. I have sweeping cinematic glimpses that sit me down to type, and the rest of the story is filling in connective tissue between each scene. My process has maintained a similar bent since I was 12, it’s just that I’m so much more diligent about the craft than I ever was before. I try and write straight through and clean up later. If it’s not a ‘movie’ in my head I have a hard time writing it. When I’m really stuck with plot or have hit a wall, I go take a hot shower and ask my characters what to do, or wait until a scene begins to cinematically play out and then I’ll just take dictation. Generally the answer will come in quiet, solitary spaces. If not, I’ll ask writer friends if I’m stuck, and generally the process of discussion leads to a fix.

Q: You have a background in acting. How do you think that has helped your writing process?

Each day I realize more and more how theatrical training helps me write. Character, dialogue, an inner sense of cinematography, instinctual arcs and motivation; you’re trained to pay attention to each of these things in theatre. There’s a bit of translation to be done between theatrical training and a writer’s craft but it translates well if you trust your instincts. But never settle for your own instincts alone. The tricky thing with being a writer is that you have to be the characters and the director at the same time, and that’s hard. Once my characters are solid enough to stand on their own legs, then I can begin directing them. My characters take direction very well, and so do I, which is why I’m proud to say editors enjoy working with me.

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?

I still think I’m aspiring. I’ll always say tenacity is your most valuable asset. Believe in yourself and your work, but not so much that you think you shouldn’t be edited/improved. You shouldn’t believe everything an industry professional says about your writing, but you should at least think about it. The best fixes for my books have come from editors telling me what was wrong with the book. Even if they didn’t express the problem in a way that I agreed with, it got me thinking enough to fix the problem with alternate solutions. Be flexible. And tenacious.

Q: Do you think that the market has become saturated with paranormal romance or do you think the market is finally opening up to other kinds of stories besides vampires and werewolves?

I don’t think paranormal romance is going anywhere anytime soon, but I think we’re starting to see some shifts. Make way for the psychics and ghosts! Yay! My turn!

Q. There was a recent article called "Harm in reading romance novels," Do you think romance novels harm or empower women?

Depends on the characters and the year the book was released; romance changes as our culture changes. There are a lot of kick-butt, confident and self-assured heroines these days, their empowerment and choices reflecting our complex society, so the ‘harm’ aspect is a bit out-of-touch. I think there’s much more harm in desensitizing to violence rather than reading love stories. If I read a romance novel where women were consistently disrespected, I wouldn’t keep reading that author, and I would give it a vocally bad review. But I can’t recall an example off-hand; I like alpha male heroes that are good team players and aren’t afraid to be beta if the situation calls for it. I stick to the unusual, sensitive but strong heroes, the ones who make a great partner for the female and I don’t find any harm in their love stories at all. The genre has been great for female writers to emerge and grow.

Q: Romance has garnered the biggest market share in genre fiction, yet it gets the least respect in popular and literary culture. Do you have any thoughts on why that is? Do you find this prejudice changing?

A: Part of me thinks that the other markets are just jealous they can’t make as much money, but I don’t think that’s the only factor. Sure, some romance novels are poorly written. But I’d say the same of every single genre, literary included. None of us writers should take ourselves too seriously. I’d love to figure out how to create a culture of more respect between the genres; we all know how hard it is to write a good book. Let’s just try and write well and get along. I hope that in our modern culture where writers are more in front of the camera and media than ever before, more alliances and respect will be gained across the board.

Q. What are you planning to work on next?

A: I need to complete the manuscript of the YA proposal my agent is shopping around; a magical time-travel adventure set in Central Park.

Thanks Leanna for stopping by! You can purchase Dark Nest here at Crescent Moon.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Books I'm Looking Forward To

Ellen's relationship to Andy doesn't just seem perfect on the surface, it really is perfect. She loves his family, and everything about him, including that he brings out the best in her. That is, until Ellen unexpectedly runs into Leo. The one who got away. The one who brought out the worst in her. The one she can't forget. This is the story about why we chose to love the ones we love, and why we just can't forget the ones who aren't right for us.

I really liked Something Borrowed, Emily Giffin's first book but I've been disappointed with the two books that followed, especially Something Blue, the sequel to Something Borrowed. However, I read the first chapter on-line at Emily Giffin's web-site and I'm excited to read this one.

Tantalizing words written on an ivory card. It is the first clue that will lead an intrigued and intriguing London lady on an odyssey of sensual experience designed to awaken her romantic nature.

Out-of-work actor Hughie Venables-Smythe has found a profitable new outlet for his talents. He is hired, often by distraught husbands, to flirt with wives who are feeling neglected in their relationships. His current seductive campaign is focused on Olivia, the spouse of a narcissistic billionaire, and the lady is responding quite nicely to the cream-colored missives he secretly leaves for her. So nicely, in fact, that Hughie decides to employ a similar technique—and shockingly similar messages—in his pursuit of his own heart’s desire: the aloof and charming lingerie designer, Leticia. But the canny, professional flirt’s brazen anonymous intrusions into the lives of two women are about to set in motion a series of remarkable events that no one could have anticipated—setting the stage for shocking revelations about love, friendship, and domestic bliss.

Doesn't that sound delicious? And the cover is divine. In fact all the cover art for Kathleen Tessaro's books have been simply fabu. I have a confession to make, I'm six degrees of seperation from Kathleen Tessaro. I attended the British American Drama Academy in London with an actress named Katherine Kjellgren who later roomed with Kathleen. And I knew her first husband who was also at BADA with me. So I feel I must read her books, plus they are really good.

When a woman is ripe for the picking . . .
Beth Cordova's life is no fairy tale. Having barely escaped the evil grasp of her wicked stepmother, this “missing princess” seeks refuge in a strict commune where carnal pleasures are forbidden.
Sometimes just one bite of the apple . . .
Her world is lonely and void of intimacy, until the charming Stephen Trent arrives at the commune. Suddenly Beth yearns for a man's touch, the feel of his lips on hers . . . and Stephen is eager to show this
pure-as-snow princess that she can still be the sensual woman she was once upon a time. Is all it takes to unleash her desires... But all is not what it seems, and the stunning beauty finds herself again in danger, her stepmother hot on her trail. The commune's founders will not tolerate the pair, yet fleeing its walls could prove fatal. Trapped in a world where passion is outlawed, can Beth live happily ever after?

I really like Cathy Yardley's Harlequin Blaze books and the two books she wrote for Red Dress Ink. I'm interested to see how that translates into romantica or erotic romance as it were.
And last but not least from Meg Cabot, the sequel to the Queen of Babble in the Big City, and the Queen of Babble.
It's the wedding of the century!
Things are looking up at last for Lizzie Nichols. She has a career she loves in the field of her choice (wedding gown restoration), and the love of her life, Jean-Luc, has finally proposed. Life's become a dizzying whirl of wedding gown fittings—not necessarily her own—as
Lizzie prepares for her dream wedding at her fiancé's château in the south of France.

But the dream soon becomes a nightmare as the best man—whom Lizzie might once have accidentally slept with . . . no, really, just slept—announces his total lack of support for the couple, a sentiment the maid of honor happens to second; Lizzie's Midwestern family can't understand why she doesn't want to have her wedding in the family backyard; her future, oh-so-proper French in-laws seem to be slowly trying to lure the groom away from medical school and back into investment banking; and Lizzie finds herself wondering if her Prince Charming really is as charming as she once believed.

Is Lizzie really ready to embrace her new role as wife and mistress of Château Mirac? Or is she destined to fall into another man's arms . . . and into the trap of becoming a Bad Girl instead?
What summer books are you looking forward to?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Daddy's Girl

Today would have been my father's 93rd birthday. Although its been 8 years since he passed away, some days it feels like yesterday, and other days it seems so long ago. I don't often observe the day that my parents died, but I do find myself celebrating the day of their birth. I just find it a more positive experience for me. My dad had a lot of quirks, he used to whistle to himself often, he liked to recite the 99th Psalm while driving, and he once freaked out when he caught me reading Harold Robbins in high school (he thought it was too mature for me.)

I was thinking about my father recently since we were talking at the brunch about our parents and their attitude towards travel, particularly European travel. I forgot sometimes that for my parents generation, traveling particularly abroad, wasn't the norm the way it is now. If people traveled at all, it was to see relatives or certain sights maybe like Niagara Falls. For the most part, when people had leisure time, they probably went down by the shore. Jetting off to the Carribbean at a moment's notice wasn't done.

Whenever, I expressed a desire to see the world, my father would look at me as if I were crazy. "They have slums in Europe," he would always tell me. As if that was the reason I wanted to go France, to see the slums! (Hmm, Notre Dame, check, the Louvre, check, the Arc de Triomphe, check, on to the slums. I'm just dying to know how the French build their projects. Do they decorate with fleur de lis on each floor?) Of course, my father's experience of Europe was with a gun in his hand liberating Paris. No lying on the beach in the South of France for him. Now he had to wade a shore with his gun over his head, while Germans fired at him, during the invasion of Southern France.

That was his Europe, which was not the one that I was going to experience 40 years later. I think after my Dad's trip to Europe and the Far East, courtesty of Uncle Sam, all he wanted to do was sit on the couch for the next 60 years. I once told him all the countries I hoped to visit before I died, and he assumed that meant I didn't want to get married or have children! I had to explain to him that it was actually possible to do both, and that families nowadays often traveled to Europe together.

My dad's time in Europe wasn't all hiding under tanks and in trenches, digging roads, getting hit over the head by a German soldier. He actually managed to take the time to take photographs while he was there (I'm sure he also found some time to romance the mademoiselles as well, at least according to my mother). I have tiny little pictures that almost look like postcards of the Arc de Triomph, the Pope's palace in Avignon and other sites. At some point when I get a scanner, I'll have to post them.

My interest in WWII is totally because of my dad, even though he refused to tell me more than just the sketchiest bit about his time there (for example I had no idea that he had fought in the Battle of the Bulge until after he died), he seemed to feel that there were just some things you don't tell daughters, plus it can't have been a great experience being part of a segregated army, and fighting a war. I often wonder if he suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome from some of the things that his experienced.

I was quite proud that I was able to list my dad and my uncle at the WWII Registry of Remembrances that is part of the WWII war memorial in DC. My dad gave me a lot of great things, my work ethic, my love of reading, being a pack rat, and my early onset gray hair (restored to its dark reddish brown luster thanks to Miss Clairol), along with my dark eyes, and for that I will always love and appreciate him.

I miss you Daddy.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Deeper Dating?

I've been single for awhile now since ex-sweetie pie and I broke up and frankly I'm getting a little tired of it. Although I'm very independent, and have no problems spending time by myself (I'll even go eat in restaurants by myself), I prefer to be part of a couple. How very retro of me I know. However, I hate dating. Hate it with a passion. I've read books that say that you should enjoy the dating process, think of it like shopping. The problem is I have a much easier time finding clothes that I like and that fit me than I do finding a man.

I've tried on-line dating but who really has the time to surf through all the profiles with out of date pictures and lame come-ons? I even tried eharmony for six months and I kept getting matched with people who lived in Montana not to mention like Papua New Guinea. How was that supposed to work out exactly? After awhile I just got tired of exchanging emails with guys that went nowhere. No I dropped all the services that I was paying for and decided to take a breather from the whole dating experience.

Recently, in an effort to get over my deep feelings for cutie-pie author, I decided it was time to get back on the horse again so to speak, but I wasn't willing to go back to Internet dating. No siree. So I signed up for something called Deeper Dating at the 92nd St. Y. I figured why not, at the least I would have something to blog about besides shoes and Richard Armitage. Deeper Dating bills itself as a chance to experience going 'deep' with a potential mate. In reality, what it really turns out to be is speed dating but with a twist. Instead of chatting with your 'date' for 8 minutes or 3 minutes or however long, you get 50 seconds to answer a question that is posed by the host. Seriously. Questions ran the gamut from 'What would you do if you suddenly had $500' to 'Talk about something fun that happened to you in the last month.'

Try boiling that down to 50 seconds! At first we were divided up into 6 smaller groups and we would go around the circle answering the question. Then we all got into one big circle and we had a minute to talk about something we enjoy in front of everyone. Then we broke into two long rows of chairs, men on one side, women on the other. The host would ask a question and then first the men or the women would answer and then vice-versa. Then the women would move down one chair like some kind of dating musical chairs.

I found the whole process rather frustrating. 50 seconds isn't a whole lot of time to really get to know someone even with the whole question thing. The only questions that I found pertinent were the what kind of relationship are you looking for, and what constitutes your ideal relationship. That was great for getting me to define in my head what it is that I really want, so that was helpful. However, I was shocked that one of the guys in my group had just broken up with a year long relationship two weeks prior and he was already at a dating event. Dude, that's cold.

What was interesting was that there were more men than women at the event which is unheard of, especially in New York. Apparently women are planners, and men tend to show up at the last minute because they had nothing else better to do that night (what no sports event on TV?). So like 10 guys showed up at the last minute. The host, who created this whole Deeper Dating thing, told us that we would have a better chance at meeting someone at an event like this or volunteering than in a saloon. Saloon? What is this 1895? Who calls it a saloon? Seriously, saloons are places with dancing girls doing the can-can, where the bad guy walks in with his posse and has a shoot-out with the sheriff on Gunsmoke. People in 2008 go to bars.

Afterwards, we were to go up to people that we found interesting and give them slips of paper with our number. The other person was to say thank you and take the paper. That was kind of daunting but I did it. I figured what the hell and so what if I never heard from these guys? I already knew that none of them were really my 'forever' person as the host called it. But I decided that I would be open and give out my email addy to a few guys (no way was I actually giving out a phone number).

So far, I've actually heard from one of my dudes. I figure I have nothing to lose by actually going out with him. After all I can practice my 'dating' skills on him!

Wish me luck,


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Party Time!

Last night was the annual Metropolitan Museum of Art gala for the Costume Institute for which every single star on the planet for the most part turns up. Seriously, I haven't seen so many celebrities since the Oscars. The new exhibit has something to do with Superheros. Don't ask! I go to every exhibit of the Costume Institute (apart from the Jackie O where I was told that you could hardly see anything), so I will probably go to this one, more than likely over Memorial weekend.

But here are some pictures from the night's event:

Anna Wintour, who took the night's theme a little too seriously

her daughter, Bee, who is wearing my favorite dress of the night

Nothing but class from these three

Why it is not a good idea to wear head to toe Pucci

French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg in a seriously fugly outfit

Just because

This one's for Kwana (and Megan)

How to look classy at any age (David Bowie and Iman)

Oh My God! I'm not quite sure if her escort is a man or a woman, but that dress speaks for itself

Sarah Michelle Gellar and Lee Pace

(FYI, don't hold hands with man who is not your husband unless you want to start rumors)

David Lauren and Lauren Bush (If she marries him she'll be Lauren Lauren)

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Fine Art of Improvisation

It's Monday morning, the sun is shining, its warm out and I'm stuck inside at work when I want to be outside playing. So instead, I'm looking at pictures of Richard Armitage instead and typing up the ten handwritten pages of chapter 10 that I wrote last week.

It's also Cinco de Mayo today, which according to Wikipedia, is a regional holiday commemorating the victory of the Mexican forces against the French during the Battle of Puebla in 1852. The Emperor of the French, Napoleon III had put the Archduke Maximillien (brother of Franz Josef) on the throne as Emperor of Mexico (also see the movie Juarez with Paul Muni, Bette Davis as crazy Carlotta and Brian Aherne as Max). Which is another excuse for me to drink margaritas today after work with my friends. Viva La Revolution!

As for improvisation, I've come to think of life as one big improvisation. No matter what you think or plan to have happen, something else comes up, and you have to improvise. Take for instance, our chapter brunch on Saturday. We were supposed to have a private room, but we didn't, so we improvised with our speaker so that we could hear her while the rest of the people were dining at PJ Clarke's.

Which leads me to the great experience I had on Saturday at the Philoctetes Center. I talk about this place so often, people must be getting bored, but its had a major impact on my life since I've been attending roundtables. And not just because of cutie-pie author. This past weekend, the program was Cross-Cultural Improvisation. Three women, three very different backgrounds, and three different instruments came together to create some of the most beautiful music. It just made me want to get up and dance and improvise with them. And as anyone who saw my stellar performance piece to Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart at the New Jersey Conference last October knows it doesn't take much to get me up and dancing!

Geetha Ramanathan Bennett played an instrument called a veena that I confused with a sitar becausae I'm stupid about world music. Jane Ira Bloom played soprano saxophone (I have a thing for the saxophone which explains my crush on Jimmy Sommers) and Min Xiao-Fen plays the Chinese pipa which is also an instrument that kind of looks like a weird guitar. They were accompanied by Frank Bennett on the mrdangham (South Indian drum). Poor guy had to sit on the floor in an uncomfortable position for like 2 hours while they played.

Oh and one of the cooler things was Min Xiao-Fen had created this really groovy wall hanging on black silk with red writing that was the word dragon in Chinese in different ways. Since I was born in the year of the dragon (wood dragon to be precise), I found that most interesting. I've always been drawn to dragons, its why I love Katie Macalister's Dragon Sept books so much when I couldn't tolerate some of her other stories. Also the Dragon is one of the luckiest signs to be born under in the Chinese zodiac.

They all had such interesting stories about their instruments and how they came to play them, and the types of music they learned in their native countries. But somehow it all came together, these three disparate instruments in harmony that was just breath-taking. Geetha Ramanathan Bennett told a wonderful story about being shy when it came to singing until she met her husband and then she practised because she wanted to mesmerize him with her voice so that he would marry her. I wish I could do the same thing with my dancing for cutie-pie author.

Anyway, my point and I do have one, is that you wouldn't think that these three women could improvise together as well as they do. And improvising can be a wonderful thing. Relationships also involve a certain amount of improvisation. Just when you think that you know what is going on, they can take a turn, and you just have to go with it. No matter how hard you map out the scene in your head, the other person will never say the things that you thought that they would in your scenario (plus they may have their own scenario), so you have to improvise. You can't control relationships, except in fiction, and sometimes not even then!

It can take your work to another level. If you don't get stuck into thinking that something has to happen a certain way, if you can let your mind free, you can let your imagination soar in wonderful ways. You just have to let go and that's the thing I think that people get weirded out by. I think we're all control freaks in a strange way.

When I was acting, I used to hate to improv. Give me a script in my hand and I'm fine. No script and I get anxious. But somehow, I would manage, if I just checked my brain at the door and just let whatever came into my head come out of my mouth on stage or in an improv in class.

Sometimes I think you have to do that in writing to. Know where the story is going, but just improv the scene. If necessary, get some friends together, tell them the situation and let them act it out. You'll be amazed and what you might actually get out of it.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, May 02, 2008

Sorority 101 - Marley Gibson aka Kate Harmon

I'm so excited. My friend Marley Gibson's new books came out yesterday, and now I'm holding them in my hot little hands, thanks to the miracle of Barnes and Aren't the covers cool?

I'm bummed though because I have to miss the groovy party tonight at the ultraswank Lenox Hotel in Boston due to my presidential duties (we're having a brunch tomorrow with author Hope Tarr, who is a new member of the chapter). But at least I'll be able to read Marley's books while sitting at the bar drinking champers tonight.

In the meantime, you can read an interview with the uber-cool Ms. Gibson over at Kwana's blog. Or just head to your local bookstore and buy a copy (or several) and give them to your friends.

Friday's Quirky Meme

Kwana tagged me for this quirky meme, so here are the rules:

Link the person who tagged you.
Mention the rules in your blog.
Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours.
Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them.
Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger's blogs letting them know they've been tagged

So here goes a few quirky things about me:

1. I can't stand snakes. Seriously, I won't even go into the reptile at the house at the zoo because they freak me out so much.

2. I have to read before I sleep at night. I can't go to bed unless I read for at least a 1/2 to an hour.

3. I don't like people who pop their gum. It just bugs the hell out of me to the point where I have contemplated killing the gum poppers. Remember the scene in Chicago, Cell Block Tango? The girl who killed her husband for popping his gum? That's me.

4. People who don't answer emails. If I can find 5 minutes out of my day to send an email, then the other person can damn well write back. No excuses. I think its rude and disrespectful.

5. Like Kwana, I'm a huge procrastinator but one that works really well under deadlines. No deadline no workie.

6. I keep my shoes back in the box that they came in. I have boxes on top of my closet where all my shoes live, snuggled nicely in their homes.

So for this quirky meme I'm tagging Marianne, Patt, Georgie Lee, Kelly Parra, Gabriele and Deirdre. Don't kill the messenger. Have fun.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Happy Beltane

Can you believe that it is May already? Where has all the time gone? If you are interested in finding out about all the traditions of Mayday, you can find them over at the Risky Regencies blog here.

May is one of my favorite months, partly because my favorite flowers, lilacs, are usually in bloom in May. Speaking of which, I may just have to stop by the flower shop tonight and pick-up a bunch after I take my poor tired feet to get a pedicure, so that I can have happy Spring feet. My Dad's birthday was in May, so I always like to have a nice glass of wine on May 8th to remember him. I should drink scotch since that was his beverage of choice, but I can't stomach the stuff. Anything that can strip the varnish off a table is not something I want to put in my stomach.

May also brings Brenda Novak's annual on-line charity auction for Diabetes which you can find here. There are tons of fabulous things to bid on, including an ARC of Julia Quinn's next book and various lunches with editors at National, and all the money goes to Diabestes research. Since my dad suffered from diabetes, I always try to bid on items during this auction.

I'm happy to report that the chapter from hell is finally done and edited and I started chapter 10 yesterday. I'd lost my mojo there for awhile during the writing. The middle of the book is the hardest part for me. I keep thinking of the 'sagging middle' syndrome, and since plotting isn't my strong suit, I have to work extra hard at this point to make sure that the story is moving forward. I have to make sure that I'm not racing too far ahead just to get to the end of the book. Especially since I have a cast of thousands in this book it seems like.

Last night I was supposed to do a market research thing for Appleton Rum. I was really excited about it because I was getting paid $200 in cash. Well, when I got there, they had overbooked so they didn't use me, but I still got paid! Isn't that awesome? $200 for doing absolutely nothing. And I also won an ARC of Susan Holloway Scott's next book this week. Sweet!

More Ugly Betty and Grey's Anatomy tonight! I can't wait.

Thanks for reading,