Friday, October 31, 2008

Real Estate Porn - Halloween Edition

I love Haunted Houses. Just the idea that a house could be haunted by a ghost sends shivers up and down my spine.

The building on the left is 14 West 10th Street, also known as the most haunted brownstone in New York. Mark Twain once lived here, and he wrote about seeing and hearing ghosts. An actress lived here for years, and wrote a book about the ghosts that lived in the building and how scary it was.

New York is filled with interesting ghost stories from Nancy Spungeon being killed at the Chelsea Hotel to Edgar Allen Poe's cottage in the Bronx.

You can read about more groovy New York ghost stories at the Bowery Boys. You can download the podcast and listen for yourself.

As for me, I'm not sure what I'm going as for Halloween. My initial idea was to go as Sally Hemmings, Thomas Jefferson's mistress, and the mother of his only sons, but that didn't pan out. So now I'm torn between Anne Boleyn and Lady MacBeth.

What are your Halloween plans? And what are you going as?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Has John McCain Lost His Damn Mind?

Seriously, why in the world would you let Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurtzelbacher out on the campaign trail? This is a guy who owes back taxes, has no license to even be a plumber, and worst of all, doesn't tip service people (I have it on good authority that Joe stiffed a tour guide while in New York).

And you want this guy to represent you at rally's across the country? Now he's making pronouncements on Obama's position on Israel and when he was questioned by Shep Smith on Fox News, he actually had the audacity to tell him, when Shep asked him how he knew that Obama was not a friend of Israel, told Shep to look it up.

Check it out here:

You can watch the video and Shep Smith's response which was classic.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Battle of the Boncompagni Sisters

Ooh a juicy battle between siblings. Socialite author Tatiana Boncompagni, author of Gilding the Lily, which recently came out from Avon, is feuding with her sister Natalia over the next book entitled Hedge Fund Wives. Natalie claims that Tatiana is trying to claim all the credit for writing the book,while Tatiana claims that Natalia just provided background information for the book.

Also Natalia is calling her sister a big fat liar. Apparently Tatiana has been telling people that she is related to Italian royalty and playing up the fact that her husband is a Hoover (of the vaccuum dynasty not the President). The Italian royalty part is not true, and there is no Hoover money to be had. Although who can blame the author for playing up what she can to sell some books?

You can read the articles in the Observer here.

I don't think there's been a juicy literary feud between siblings in years!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bills, Bills, Bills

Arrgh, it's raining out today, and I'm inside where it's not remotely warm, paying bills. Why does it seem like I pay one set of bills, and before you know it, I have to pay them again? I've also been scanning my monthly bank statement, to find stuff I'm paying for, that I'm not using. It's amazing how you can cancel something, and yet it still pops up on your statement. Yikes!

My negative bank balance should be restored shortly, but it is totally messing with my Halloween plans. I wonder if I can go as a recycle bin?

Monday, October 27, 2008

A New Attitude

So I'm back from the New Jersey Conference. I had a good time, met some cool new people, went to some workshops and danced like a fiend. Still, I came away thinking that I had more FUN last year. I don't know if it was because my monthly friend showed up Friday aternoon so I was cranky and tired most of the time. I was trying to analyze it, and it came to me was that last year Liz Maverick and Marianne Mancusi were there, and they know how to put on the fun. Also last year, I had just come up with the idea for Scandalous Women.

This year, no Liz, no Marianne and nothing to pitch to editors. It made me realize that I need to rethink why I go to conferences. In this economy, it no longer makes sense to spend the money to attend conferences just to hang out with my friends. Even though I had a good time, I could probably have used the money I spent more effectively in other ways. Perhaps by going down to Philadelphia to do research or work with a professional editor on my historical YA.

I also need to expand my horizons as well. Each year, I've been going to 3 RWA conferences. Next year, the only things on the menu are the Historical Novel Society conference and National. Since I'm writing a historical YA novel, it makes more sense for me to go to HNS than to go to any of the RWA regional conferences. As for National, I'm hoping to be presenting one or two workshops.

In the future, I think going to conferences, apart from National has to come down to whether or not I have anything to pitch or promote, and whether or not I'm presenting a workshop, otherwise, it's just not cost-efficient.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Share The Love

RWA NYC member Maya Rodale's charity Share the Love now has a web-site.

Maya and another historical romance author Ann Bleakley, started Share The Love to bring romance novels to women in crisis. From their web-site:

"After all, they are not merely love stories and are certainly not rescue fantasies. They are rich narratives of women overcoming conflict, discovering their own power, falling in love, and being rewarded with optimistic, emotionally satisfying endings. And shouldn’t all women enjoy the same treasure of words filled with inspiration and empowerment—or, if nothing else, a pleasant diversion from day to day life?"

"Mass-market paperbacks are considered to be inexpensive, but are still not in the budget for everyone who might enjoy them. How better to encourage literacy—an incredibly valuable skill that benefits not just women but the families they support—than by providing engaging reading material? Doesn’t everyone deserve the pleasure of a good story with a happy-ending?"

Do you want to Share the Love? Here’s how you can participate:

1. Get a box (USPS turns out to be cheapest).

2. Start filling it with romance novels you’ve read, but don’t imagine re-reading.

3. Send the box to one of the following locations.

Share The Love

c/o Maya Rodale

511 Avenue of The Americas, #90

New York, NY 10011-8436

(212) 924-4002
- - - - - - - - - -
Share the Love

c/o Ann Bleakley

P.O. BOX 19313

Minneapolis, MN 55419-0313


RWA NYC has been donating books to Share The Love since it's inception last year. So far most of the books have been donated to the shelters run by Women in Need. So if you have books that you've read and don't know what to do with, why not send them to Share The Love?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Halloween Trivia

Since it's Halloween Awareness month, I thought I would share some Halloween trivia that I learned while researching my current project. My book takes place in 1895 at a women's college in Upstate New York. So I was curious as to how people in Victorian America celebrated Halloween or even if they did celebrate it at all.

I was surprised to learn that some of the Halloween traditions that we know today were present in Victorian America. For one thing, they actually had candy corn! Yes, that too sweet orange and yellow candy that we associate with Halloween was available in the 1890's. In fact, according to Wikipedia, candy corn was created in the 1880's by George Renninger of the Wunderlee Candy Co. The three colors of the candy, orange, yellow and white are supposed to mimic the colors of corn. There is also 'Indian Corn' which is white, yellow and brown.

I also learned that it was the Irish who brought the tradition of Jack O'Lanterns to this country. It was named after the strange phenomenon of light flickering over peat bogs, called ignis fatuus or jack-o-latern. Both in Ireland and Britain, there was a long tradition of carving laterns from vegetables. However carved laterns did not specifically become associated with Halloween until 1866. Originally laterns in the US were associated with the Harvest season in general, before it got folded into Halloween.

Agnes Carr Sage wrote in, "Halloween Sports and Customs," Harper's Young People, October 27, 1885, p. 828: "It is an ancient Scottish custom to light great bonfires on Halloween, and carry blazing fagots about on long poles; but in place of this American boys delight in the funny grinning jack-o'-lanterns made of huge yellow pumpkins with a candle inside."

You can read the Irish folktale of Jack here. Another story that I read in a Time-Life book on America in the 19th century stated that young girls on Halloween would walk down the stairs backward holding up a mirror to see if they saw their future husband. You just know that I had to include that little tidbit in my book.

I also learned that in America, while there was no trick-or-treating yet per se, there were kids who played Halloween tricks in the big cities.

See, sometimes you can learn fun things while researching!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blech! I'm sick

I'm sick as a dog which serves me right for choosing to dress cute instead of dressing warm once the weather started to get a little colder. The worst thing about having a cold is having absolutely no energy. The upside, no appetite! Yes, I can't taste anything really, so I have absolutely no desire to eat anything. The other downside? Having to blow my nose every two minutes. Right now, I look like Rudolph and I don't mean Guiliani.

At least I don't look as bad as Victoria Principal. Remember when she looked like the picture at the left, when she played Pam on Dallas (the role that Jennifer Lopez should have played when they were bandying about the movie version, not Sue Ellen). God, I loved that show, until they jumped the shark and had Bobby come from the dead. Remember that whole season that was a dream?

Well this is what Victoria looks like now.

Yikes! She claims that she's had no work done, but come on, who is she fooling? Either that or she's not aging very well. If she did have plastic surgery, clearly she didn't have her ex-husband do the job. Or if she did, perhaps that's why they are now divorced.

Since I can't write a post without mentioning the upcoming election, Barack Obama is suspending his campaign to visit his ailing grandmother who helped raise him. Hearing about that this morning on the news, made me want to vote for him all the more. He's clearly saying that his grandmother is more important than the election. I just hope that McCain respects that fact and tones it down, but I doubt it. I'm still ticked off at Palin's idea that only people who live in small towns are "Real Americans."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Movie Review: Leatherheads

I had an awesome weekend, hanging out with Liz Maverick, Hope Tarr, Leanna Renee Heiber and Stacey Agdern, listening to a group of singers on Saturday night at a great Irish pub near Penn Station called Tir Na Nog and having a writing day yesterday where I managed to write 8 handwritten pages on the novel that will never end.

It definitely wiped away the taint of Friday night. That and the retail therapy that I indulged in Saturday and Sunday. I needed a new bag, so I headed over to the GAP and bought a great black patent leather bag and then on Sunday, I used the DSW coupon to buy a new pair of Steve Madden brown leather boots. Hey, they were $20 off!

The only two flies in the ointment of my weekend, and that was the asshole who bumped me on the stairwell to the subway and then proceeded to spew invective about how it was all my fault. I totally understand now how people can flip out because I seriously felt like I wanted to kick the crap out of this guy. The other was watching Leatherheads last night when I got home.

Sigh! I just had bad luck with movies this weekend. Yahoo! movies describes Leatherhead's plot thusly:

"In 1925, Dodge Connolly is a charming, brash football hero who is determined to guide his team from bar brawls to packed stadiums. But after the players lose their sponsor and the entire league faces certain collapse, Dodge convinces a college football star to join his ragtag ranks. The captain hopes his latest move will help the struggling sport finally capture the country's attention. Welcome to the team Carter Rutherford, America's favorite son. A golden-boy war hero who single-handedly forced multiple German soldiers to surrender in WWI, Carter has dashing good looks and unparalleled speed on the field.

This new champ is almost too good to be true, and Lexie Littleton aims to prove that's the case. A cub journalist playing in the big leagues, Lexie is a spitfire newswoman who suspects there are holes in Carter's war story. But while she digs, the two teammates start to become serious off-field rivals for her fickle affections. As the new game of pro-football becomes less like the freewheeling sport he knew and loved, Dodge must both fight to keep his guys together and to get the girl of his dreams. Finding that love and football have a surprisingly similar playbook, however, he has one maneuver he will save just for the fourth quarter. "

While I thought the premise of this movie was promising, the early days of pro football, and its set during one of my favorite time periods, this movie so did not work on any level, as a sports comedy or as a romantic screwball comedy. First of all, by 1925 the National Football League was already in existence for 5 years, so Dodge Connolly doesn't need to organize professional football. Two, the whole premise of Carter not being a war hero, and not saying anything while he receives medals, is not remotely funny and it wouldn't have been 6 years after the Great War. The banter between Lexie and Dodge is patently strained and not very funny, and there is absolutely no chemistry between George Clooney and Renee Zwellweger. However there was between Lexie and Carter.

There were faint echoes of Bull Durham all throughout this film, particularly with the triangle between Lexie, Carter and Dodge. However, one of the biggest problems with this film, is that the minor characters are not very well developed, particularly the guys on the Duluth Bulldogs. Anyone who has seen Bull Durham remembers the coach, the young born again player, the guy who practiced Santeria, and the young team follower who ends up reforming and marrying the born again player. There was also an African-American player on the team, despite the fact that all professional sports teams were segregated until after WWII.

It's not all dismal, the movie does get some fun over the fact that Dodge Connolly is way over the hill to be a professional football player. And there is a wonderful scene with the great Marian Seldes who interviews Dodge at an employment agency after the team is disbanded, and a scene with Stephen Root as Dodge dictates the sports column that Stephen Root supposedly writes but scenes like that were few and far between.

If the character of Lexie had been a nascent sportswriter, this movie might have had some juice and plenty of comedy to play with the idea of a woman in the 1920's covering the sports beat. Instead she's bogged down in whether to reveal the truth that Carter is not a hero. Plus most of her costumes were not period, they looked more like early 1930's costumes than 1920's.

This movie was just dull, dull, dull. I read on Wikipedia that George Clooney claimed credit for rewriting the script and making more of a screwball comedy (which there hasn't been a successful one since What's Up Doc in the 70's). Credit for the screenplay went to arbitration before the WGA and the original authors received credit not Clooney. Frankly, the writers and the guild should have let him claim credit for this dreck.

Definitely one to skip. Watch 'Bull Durham' again, or even one of the Major League movies, if you want to watch a sports comedy.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Movie Review Salo

Last night I went to the Philoctetes Center to see a movie by the late Italian film director Pier Paolo Pasolini called Salo. I had been warned that this movie was hard to take, and that I might not be able to sit through the whole thing. But you know it is, sometimes you have to see something for yourself. I did however make sure that I didn't eat dinner before the movie! This is how the movie is described by the distributor, Criterion Collection:

"Pier Paolo Pasolini's notorious final film, Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom, has been called nauseating, shocking, depraved, pornographic . . . it's also a masterpiece. The controversial poet, novelist, and filmmaker's transposition of the Marquis de Sade's 18th-century opus of torture and degradation to 1944 Fascist Italy remains one of the most passionately debated films of all time, a thought-provoking inquiry into the political, social, and sexual dynamics that define the world we live in." -Criterion Collection.

Well, I think that pretty much sums up this movie. I don't think I have seen a more disturbing film, in depicting how human beings can gleefully torture and degrade others for their own sadistic pleasure or amusement. It wasn't so much the nudity or the sex scenes, it was the look in the predators eyes as they survey the teenage boys and girls that have been rounded up by three middle-aged procuresses and taken to a bucolic villa in the countryside. For the most part, it is the four governors in this small town, who are of course male, that perpetrate the horrific scenes of violence and sexual perversity, while the middle-aged women for the most part remain passive. The close-ups on the faces of certain of the girls and boys, and the tear stains on their faces says more than graphic violence could ever say. And there is certainly plenty of that. There was one whole section of the movie that I couldn't even watch because I was afraid that I was just going to embarrass myself by retching in the aisles.

The movie ends with no hope that these adolescents are going to be saved. No Allied troops march in, and round up the men, setting them free. The last scene in the movie is of two young soldiers dancing to music in a room, while those girls and boys who have committed offenses are tortured and killed.

Sounds like a fun evening huh? After the movie was over, I was devastated. I couldn't stop shaking. It was at this moment that I really missed my friends, and I regret that I didn't invite them to join me. At least we could have been appalled together! What I needed at that moment after the film was over, was a big hug, some human contact to show me that not all humans are as venal as the ones in the film. I've never felt so alone in my life as I did after seeing this movie. Instead, what I got, was some elderly man on seeing how upset I was, announcing that "it was only a movie!"

Oh my effing God, are you effing kidding me? Duh, I know that it's a movie. But isn't the point of art to provoke a response in the viewer? To move them, enrage them, make them think? Seriously, are all heterosexual men missing a sensitivity chip? Instead of the milk of human kindness, I ended up dumped at the bus stop, like a small child who's parents had forgotten to pick him up at school. Just left there to deal with the emotional bruising that I just suffered. I thought about stopping off to have a drink, but that the last thing I wanted was to drink by myself. Sitting at the bar, crying silently, while my tears turn my reisling salty.

I went home, which was a good thing, because I barely made it through the front door before the bile that I had been attempting to keep down, made its way back up again. I tried to erase images of the film from my mind by watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta, thinking that conspicuous consumption, fake boobs, and even faker friendships would cheer me up. But instead I just lay in my bed after it was over for hours, thinking about how grateful I am that tonight I am going to see my posse and spend time with them. And how happy I am that I live in 21st century New York.

Even if men can be detached, and insensitive jackasses.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I So Want This!

I promised myself that I would be fiscally responsible for my birthday and not buy a new dress, but I so want this!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Is Joe the Plumber Running for President?

Seriously with so many mentions of "Joe, the Plumber" I thought he might be running for office!

It's no secret, that like my friend Kwana, I'm a little obsessed with this election. Not only did I watch the debate, but I watched the commentary afterwards, and I've been reading not only the New York Times, but Slate, The New Republic, The Atlantic, Salon, The Daily Beast (where McCain's Aunt admits that he's losing) as well as Time and Newsweek. I've already scheduled to take off the day after the election to either celebrate or mourn democracy as we know it.

Last night I even went to a roundtable at The Philoctetes Center called "Voters and Friends: Group Influence in Individual Political Belief". At least that was the title of the roundtable, much of the time was spent talking about polling and statistics and other rather boring subjects that I could care less about.

I was raised by Roosevelt Democrats. My mother voted in every single Presidential election accept one and that was because I was born the day before and the hospital wouldn't let her leave to go vote (or buy a pack of cigarettes), despite her promise to return when she was done. She wept when both Jack and Bobby Kennedy were killed. So I grew up in a very liberal household. Did it influence me? Hell yeah!

But I learned to make my own decisions when it came to candidates. Just because someone is a Democrat, doesn't mean he automatically gets my vote if he or she is an idiot. I'm willing to look at the other side. However, I have yet to hear a Republican say anything that I agree with. Seriously I find it hard to believe sometimes that this is the same party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. Once upon a time, I did find McCain charming and the type of Republican that I actually could get behind, until he decided that he wanted to win more than stick by his principles.

I take voting seriously as a privilege not just a right. I have voted in every local, state and Presidential election since I voted for the first time for Cuomo on my 18th birthday. And this year, we had the choice of a serious female contender for the first time, and a serious African-American candidate for the first time. It almost seemed an embarassment of riches. I do admit that I try to keep my political discussions to among like minded friends. Recently I noticed on Facebook that some authors that I have been friendly with, who were now friends of Sarah Palin and it did kind of turn me off. But I'm sure that there are people who are turned off by the fact that I am a fervent Obama supporter. The panelists didn't really address those issues during the discussion, which I found seriously disappointing.

Anywhoo, back to the debate. While I thought McCain did make some good points over all, he came across as a cranky old man who could barely contain himself. The thinly veiled contempt that he showed Obama was a major turn-off whereas I thought Obama came across as more Presidential and respectful of McCain. He talked about the ways that they actually agreed, he didn't trash Palin the way that McCain trashed Biden. I thought he gave a very good answer regarding abortion. On the other hand, McCain doing the air quotes thing when Obama mentioned occasions when late term abortion might be permissable when the mother was endangered, lost him huge points among women I would suspect. And claiming that his feelings were hurt concerning Representive Lewis, and his response when Obama brought up people yelling "Kill Him" and "Terrorist" at Palin rallies while Palin tacitly seemed to accept and also to rile up the crowd. Major turn-offs, at least for me. Also his comment about how Obama might want to visit Colombia before talking about it was pretty jerky. And his sneering jibes at Obama's eloquence. For someone who claims not to want to run a negative campaign his whole debate performance was negative.

Also, someone should tell McCain that there is a difference between down syndrome and autism, although they are both fall under the category of special needs. And since Trig is only 6 months old, I doubt Sarah Palin has any idea yet about what he's going to need or what it is like to deal with a special needs child. Talk to her again when he's 4.

As for Obama talking about spreading the wealth, how many middle class families feeling the pinch, haven't occasionally thought the same thing, when we read about the year end bonuses and compensation packages executives receive.

So I have to give this one to Obama.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Particularly when you are Madonna Louise Ciccone Penn Ritchie.

According to the Huffington Post (which broke the story before People!)

"Madonna's spokeswoman said Wednesday that the singer and her husband, Guy Ritchie, will divorce after 7 1/2 years together.

A statement e-mailed to The Associated Press from Liz Rosenberg said that the couple had agreed to divorce, and requested the media maintain respect their privacy.
The statement, co-signed by Ritchie's representative, said the couple had not agreed to a settlement."

Well according to the Daily Mail, Guy could stand to receive up to 150 Million pounds in the divorce. He could make a lot of gangster movies with that. Also, according to the Mail, Gwyneth Paltrow has been playing marriage counselor for months with Madonna, trying to convince her to save her marriage. Who knew Gwyneth had that kind of time?

Seriously, although its sad that Madonna is heading for her second divorce, I kind of feel for Guy Ritchie. It can't have been easy to have lived with her for almost 8 years. She seems like even more of a control freak than I am. Apparently Kabbalah couldn't keep these two together.

What I want to know is whether or not she's going to ditch that faux British accent now?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Quantam Tuesday

I cannot tell you how excited I am for the new James Bond film Quantam Solace to come out. After finishing series 6 of MI-5/Spooks, I'm ready for a hot guy to do some butt kicking, and Daniel Craig is awesome as James Bond.

Don't get me wrong, I adored Pierce Brosnan but Daniel Craig actually looks like he kills people for a living. No other James Bond, apart from Sean Connery, had that edge.

November can't come soon enough for me!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hey Are You Looking at Me?

This weekend I went to a roundtable at the Philoctetes Center on "From Looking to Voyeurism." Given how disappointed I was about the Shakespeare roundtable, I was kind of nervous about this one, but I was pleasantly surprised. Dany Nobus, the moderator, kept the discussion going and it was quite lively. He started off reading a bit of Freud, which always gets my hackles up, given my feelings about the father of psychoanalysis, and then the discussion went off.

I was particularly struck however by a comment by one of the panelists that women do not like looking at naked men. Really? What women do you know? Perhaps it is a generational thing but I know that I and my friends have no qualms about admirining the male body. We may not be as vocal about it as men are, but we do just as much looking let me tell you. I remember being twelve years old and sneaking copies of Playgirl underneath my Seventeen magazine at the newsagent (I had no idea at the time that more gay men read Playgirl than heterosexual women!). Despite my being underage, I never had a problem buying it and my friends and I would pore over the pictures of the men in the magazine. Perhaps it was the fact that it was kind of forbidden that made it so exciting. Maybe that's why women aren't as vocal about our appreciation of the male form. There is still something forbidden about a woman admiring the male form unless it is the contexxt of an art class or in a painting or sculpture. My friends and I discussed yesterday the parts of the male nude body that we liked, particularly that arrow of hair that points directly to....Given the amount of money that Chippendales made and now Hunkmania, I can safely say that Dr. Nersessian has no idea what he is talking about!

And women do go to strip clubs. Perhaps not as often as men do. We certainly don't say to each other "Hey, instead of going to that movie/bar/lecture, let's go to a strip club" the men do, but we go. However it is more of an event, like a bachelorette party or a girl's night out, not an ordinary or average event. Again, it's that whole forbidden connotation. For a women to go to a male strip club, we are seeking a way to blow off steam, to be a little naughty away from our husbands or boyfriends. Which is probably why women are insane when they go to these places, screaming and ramming five dollar bills in their g-strings.

I was struck by what one of the panelists, Katherine Frank said, about how men in strip clubs use the women as sort of a confessional, telling them about how their wives/girlfriends/male friends don't understand them etc. It's like the modern equivalent of going to a priest, particularly if you are not religious or Catholic. Whereas the male strippers that I encountered the one time that I went to strip club, spent most of the time talking about themselves. They were totally not interested in us, which I thought was strange since the point was to entice us to buy a lap dance. Maybe it is because women are used to be listeners, and men aren't.

The thing I remember the most was when a group of us turned our chairs around to watch a lap dance, just out of curiousity, because we couldn't fathom how that worked with a guy performing one. When it got to the questions from the audience, Adam Ludwig brought up a point that I was thinking of, which was the opposite of voyeurism, exhibitionism. People who like to be watched, who get off having sex in public places because they know there is a possiblity that they might be seen or caught.

The same woman who brought up where to find men in New York at an earlier roundtable (a constant refrain of my friends and I), now wanted to know if men who went to stripclubs were inherently narcissistic, which was kind of strange because why would a narcissist go to a strip club? He might think that every stripper in the club would of course fall over themselves to give him a lap dance, but I don't think he sees himself reflected in these women.

So question, are there other women out there who enjoy looking at naked men or was Dr. Nersessian right?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Hey Liz Maverick won an Award

Liz Maverick just found out she won the Prism Award for her book Wired from the Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal Chapter of RWA.
Read all about and the adversity she had to overcome to win this award here.

John McCain - Maverick or Just Business As Usual

If you are undecided about whether or not to vote for John McCain, read this article in Rolling Stone magazine:


Thursday, October 09, 2008


I got nothing to day, so here are some of my favorite posts from around the blogosphere.

Leanna Renee Heiber brings up Halloween Awareness here.

Hope Tarr talks about our adventures at the Film Society of Lincoln Center on Monday here.

Marianne Mancusi has pictures of her new YA Gamer Girl here.

Liz Maverick discusses Men who love Cats here.

Kwana discusses the latest episodes of Project Runway and Top Model here.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

It's the Economy Stupid!

I'm not normally so political on this blog but I'm kind of obsessed with this election. Not just because it is so historic but because the country is kind of in the crapper right now, and I'm a little concerned about who is going to be leading it in the next four years, after the past 8 years of misery that we've had to endure thanks to Shrub and his henchmen Cheney and Rumsfeld.

So I watched the debate last night and while the candidates didn't say anything differently really then they did two weeks ago, I was struck by how much this election seems to be turning on the economy, something that McCain seems not to grasp fully. Remember lo those many years ago when Clinton was running and the refrain was "It's the Economy Stupid!" Well, I kind of think that logic applies to this election.

But McCain seems to be running on empty. He and his pit bull Sarah Palin are now bringing up stuff that had been dealt with in previous debates, and stretching the truth to suit their purposes. I'm talking about Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright. I almost feel sorry for McCain. It's clear that he has absolutely no respect for Barack Obama. Consider him calling Obama "That one" last night on the debate. Right now he seems like a bitter old man. After twisting himself like a pretzel to appease the right wing of the party and choosing Dick Cheney in heels to be his running mate, he has to be aghast that he's still behind in the polls.

I think he looks at Obama and thinks that everything has come easy to him. After all McCain spent 5 years in an North Vietnamese prison, before that he wasn't even at the top of his class at Annapolis, he's spent 26 years in the Senate, and this is what? His third or fourth run at the Presidency and along comes Obama, only in his first term in the Senate, running for President, snatching the nomination out of Hillary's hot little hands, and gosh darn it people like him without Obama really trying. That has got to hurt. McCain reminds me a little bit of Richard Nixon right now when he was debating Kennedy during the 1960 election. I think it was a huge mistake for him to leave the town hall early and to not stay around schmoozing and glad-handing the way Obama did. People are going to remember that.

Of course the fact that right now Obama is ahead in the polls means nothing. What matters is what happens on November 4th when people step into the election booth. Is the nation really ready to elect an African-American president? Not just a Democratic junior senator from Illinois but a man of color.

God, I hope so or we might just be even more screwed then we are now with McCain/Palin in the White House.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Polyamory Anyone?

I found this article in the New York Times Style section called "Hopelessly Devoted to You, You and You"kind of depressing. You can read the article here.

The article details this New York couple who practice what is called polyamory, which means they maintain multiple steady relationships. I find this amazing, since I'm having a hard time finding one person that I want to spend a lot of time with, let alone 3 or 4. I just don't see how this is doable given the nature of humans, and messy things like emotions. My favorite part of the article was where Diana Adams gets upset because her boyfriend bought his other girlfriend a better toothbrush than he did her. Seriously this is what you get upset about? According to the article both the Diana and her boyfriend Ed are bisexual. He has a boyfriend out of town, and she has two women that she sees besides him. So each are seeing three people steadily. When do they have time to see their friends? Or their family? Or work for that matter? How do they keep everyone straight? Not that I'm knocking them. If it works for them, more power to them.

Tilda Swinton, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, is very open about the fact that she has a partner that she shares a home with in Scotland, the father of her two children, but she also has a yonger lover who travels with her. Even Carla Bruni Sarkozy, before she met and fell in love with the President of France, had expressed her support for open relationships. The whole thing reminds me of this book I read as a teenager called The Harrad Experiment, which was a college where the students were encouraged to have multiple relationships. The book was written in the 1970's back in the day when Erica Jong was writing about the 'zipless f*&k' and the sexual revolution was still raging.

I confess in my misspent youth I once tried to date two guys steadily at the same time and it was a total disaster. I had read one of those dating books by Myreah Moore that said you should always have a spare around, that old 'don't put all your eggs in one basket' kind of thing. She didn't say anything about what you are supposed to do when you end up having deep feelings for both men, and how hard that is, and how even though you are dating two people, the idea of them dating anyone fills you with unspeakable rage.

I was very open with both men about the fact that I was dating them both, also that I was still going to go out on blind dates. Ah, the arrogance of the young. It was at a stage in my life when I was basically saying yes to anyone who asked me out. I finally had to make a choice. I couldn't keep on this way, so I finally sat down and decided who was better for me in the long run, who did I really consider to be my boyfriend? And I chose. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I'm just not built to have multiple relationships.

And I'm not sure in this day and age they really work all that well. But that's just me, I'm still old fashioned enough to believe in one man/one woman or one man/one man or one woman/one woman. Maybe that's why I read romances.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Would You Wear These Shoes?

From the "What was she thinking category?" I found this picture on the London Daily Mail web-site. These are the shoes that Victoria Beckham aka Posh Spice wore to go shopping with her kids in the mall. Yes, shopping in a mall, not walking down the red carpet or a talk show appearance. Just an average weekend day.

Now I've been known to rock a pair of 4 inch heels but just looking at this picture makes my feet hurt and my back ache. I can't even begin to imagine how she navigates a mall in those shoes or why she would even want to. Why can't she just wear tight jeans, funky boots and a great top like other celebrities?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Ode to the Bard

Last Friday, I went to a lecture on Shakespeare at the Philoctetes Center and I have to say that I was a tad disappointed. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I felt that the evening fell far short of what was promised in the handout. I have a great love and appreciation for the Bard of Avon. When I first decided to become an actress, my biggest dream was to one day perform Shakespeare with the Royal Shakespeare Company. That was before I realized that I would have to be British to accomplish that one.

We didn't really touch the Bard much when I was in college. So I made it my mission afterwards that if I was going to take acting classes in New York that I would focus on Shakespeare. I managed to find a mentor in Eric Hoffmann at The Riverside Shakespeare Company, and then to get to study in London at BADA and The Royal National Theatre Studio. One of my fondest memories is watching Mark Rylance play Henry V in the inaugural season of the Globe in London, standing in the pit. Shakespeare in Love is one of my favorite films and I even watched Michael Wood's 4 hour Searching for Shakespeare program. Now the bar was set a little high for me.

There certainly was a distinguished panel of experts, Robert Brustein, the former artistic director of Yale Rep and the American Repertory Theater was the moderator. Daniela Varon (who practically saved the evening) from Shakespeare & Company represented the director's eye, Alvin Epstein, who has had a distinguished career in the theater represented the actor's point of view (and said practically nothing all evening. At one point, I thought he had fallen asleep), Ron Rosenbaum who has written a book called The Shakespeare Wars, Eugene Mahon, a pyschoanalysis and playwright. But there was something missing. Perhaps it was the Bard himself. I would have liked to have seen perhaps some readings of the Sonnets or some of Shakespeare's monologues. It would have taken the discussion from the abstract into something more concrete.

Interesting points were brought up and then dropped. Robert Brustein mentioned the idea that Shakespeare was a mysognist and that was never really addressed. And other ideas were brought up and then just dismissed. One of the most interesting was who was Shakespeare? Was it the man from Stratford? Was it a committee of men as put forth by Delia Bacon? Was it Edmund de Vere, the Earl of Oxford? Brustein dismissed the idea out of hand because Ben Jonson said that Shakespeare was Shakespeare. J.P. Wearing spoke about Shakespeare as a working playwright, who not only had to work with a company of actors, and tailor parts to suit them, but he also had to write plays that pleased the audience. The fact that he managed to do so on so many levels is amazing.

For me, the 400 pound Gorilla in the room was the fact that no one even really mentioned Merchant of Venice. Critics and Scholars have been divided for 400 years about whether or not the play is anti-semitic or not. I would have liked to have seen the panel delve into that. One of my favorite episodes of John Barton's playing Shakespeare is the one in which Patrick Stewart and David Suchet talked about playing Shylock and how they approached the role, particularly David Suchet since he's Jewish (or his father is, I'm not sure if he was actually raised in the faith). Daniela Varon mentioned in terms of The Taming of the Shrew that audiences have to look at the play both from a 21st Century point of view but also to understand how modern Shakespeare was in the context of his time in writing this play.

I disagreed with Ron Rosenbaum that you can't find Shakespeare in his writings, and is his notion that what was the point since we don't know anything about Homer apart from his blindness yet we continue to read The Odyssey and The Iliad. I think that almost every writer, whether he does it consciously or unconsciously reveals something about himself in his writing. I know that I personally have used themes that I'm interested in, emotions that I've experienced, things that have happened to me, in my fiction writing, not just what I write here on the blog.

So while I was disappointed in the evening ultimately, I'm glad that I went, if only to hear Daniela Varon speak. I'm sorry that I missed the production of Robert Brustein's play about Shakespeare that she directed, because I'm intrigued now to see what she would do with Shakespeare on stage. I was also struck by a question that an audience member asked of the panel. He said that he hadn't quite gotten a clear picture of each person's Shakespeare and I thought that would be such a great campaign for The Public Theater, to have famous actors who have worked there to describe their Shakespeare.

Friday, October 03, 2008

National Treasure - Patt Milhailoff

Patt Milhailoff, Me and Chris Keeslar after he received his award

I'm a little hungover and from celebrating the lovely Hope Tarr's birthday last night. I didn't watch the debate but I did read the transcript in today's New York Times. It's interesting to read what they said without being guided or mesmerized by watching them on television. No Sarah Palin trying to look adorable or Joe Biden looking like a professor, just the facts ma'am as it were. I found that reading it, Sarah Palin came off okay. I find her folksy manner, that she's just regular people to be such a joke after reading about how women were forced to pay for their own rape kits and taking a per diem from the state so that she could work from her house.

So instead I'm posting this last picture from the GAA because it is a lovely one of member Patt Milhailoff, who is like the crown jewel of RWA NYC. She is one of the most enthusiastic cheerleaders for the genre and for our members that you could wish for. She's also a multi-published author with Cerridwen, but success has not gone to Patt's head. She is still as down to earth as ever, always there with the tough love, trying to get people to write and submit there work. Every year she makes the award certificates that we give out to our honorees, and she used to raffle off goodie baskets as well at the GAA's. We don't get to see enough of her.

And despite the fact that we've tried numerous times to give her Member of the Year or to get her to run for office, she won't hear of it. That's a great member, and I wish that I had 80 Patt's as chapter members (that's not to say that we don't have amazing members in our chapter). It's just that Patt is a National Treasure. I'm sure that a lot of chapters have members like Patt, someone who goes the extra mile without being asked.

We love our Patt!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Happy Birthday Hope Tarr

Today is the birthday of the lovely and talented Hope Tarr! Not only is she one of the nicest people that I know, and a lot of fun, but she's a fabulous writer. Check out her website for a sneak peek at her new Harlequin Blaze here which will be available in January. And gaze longingly at the groovy new Blaze cover. What a great New Year's present.

You can read my recent interview with Hope here.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Crazy Celebrity Parents

I wasn't sure I had anything to write about today. I've been struggling to get back to my historical YA that I hope to have finished by the NJ Conference, so I'm outlining the next three chapters that I have to write.

But thankfully Sharon Stone is around for people like me. Recently she lost physical custody of her oldest son Roan to her ex-husband Phil Bronstein, because among many things, she wanted to have his feet Botoxed because they were smelly. Apparently teaching him good hygiene, like putting talcum powder in your shoes, if you don't wear socks or just washing them didn't occur to her.

Seriously botox for an 8 year old's feet?

I've always liked Sharon Stone. She's always had a good sense of humor about her career and her place in the industry, and she's always been impeccably well-dressed in her films. And I admired her for adopting three boys without a husband, but no I'm starting to wonder.

Who is raising these kids while she runs around the world? Phil Bronstein is at least Roan's legal father but what about the other kids. When will celebrities realize that kids are not accessories like chihuahuas?