Friday, May 29, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Friday

Utter Randomness

1. Jeff Garlin is my latest celeb sighting. At the Farmer's Market on 3rd & Fairfax, we saw him coming out of the market with an ice cream cone, looking very svelte, I must say. We are big fans of his from Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (he played Larry's manager) plus he's been in lots of movies and other TV shows, usually as comic relief. Very funny actor.

2. Two movies I thought I'd love were Ghost Town and Walk the Line. The first starred the inimitable Ricky Gervais from "The Office" and the second starred Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, both of whom I adore. And yet I was bored watching them. The first had a few laughs and I loved the idea of an anti-social dentist, but it felt like studio interference, like executives had come in and said, "Oh no, he has to be sympathetic by this page," which was totally wrong and ruined the edgy vibe it had. As for the Johnny Cash story, I appreciated that Reese and Joaquin sang their own songs and they did have a nice chemistry but men-cheating-on-their-wives-for-their-true-loves is so old and uninteresting to me. Two thumbs down.

3. I finished The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and really enjoyed it a lot. Great concept, although it reminded me a lot of Stephen King's "The Running Man" mixed with other stories like "Battle Royale." Still it was a page-turner and I was intrigued. But I am kicking myself for reading it now when the sequel won't be out for months! Argh!! Cliffhangers!!

4. This was a great birthday week. I have had birthdays where I've traveled (to Italy!), gotten big presents (pearls!), or had a blowout party with tons of guests. And I also had one celebrating my first book sale (pure awesome!). But this year felt really good, really comforting, like all the pieces were in the right places. No one went overboard on a gift. We didn't spend wildly on a party or a fancy dinner or tickets to Disneyland. In keeping with the economy, it was very subdued - which was exactly what I wanted. I even got cupcakes from the studio where I teach (thank you, Mariana!) and a handmade card from my teen class (thank you, Mackenzie and Chelsea and Christine and Sarah Jo!) and I got to watch episodes of "Mary Tyler Moore" when I came home from teaching. Best of all was realizing how many wonderful people I have in my life. You forget that sometimes during the day to day living.

And a BONUS: In the same week the California courts upheld Prop 8, much to our surprise and disgrace, my local high school, Fairfax High, crowned an openly gay teen as its prom "queen."

I love it! Go Fairfax High!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Today is my birthday. I won't say how many I've had, though if you know me, you certainly have a good idea. I'll say I've had enough to know what it takes to have a happy birthday.

Here are my 4 things that make a great birthday:

1. Good friends - a dinner with a spouse/significant other is great but a party with friends is even better. I was lucky enough to have a big bunch of mine available this year and it turned into an awesome time!

2. Do Nothing Time - anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours (or for some people, a few days!) in which nothing needs to get done. No laundry or dishwashing or grocery shopping or writing or teaching or anything. And don't assume this do-nothing time requires you to think Deep Thoughts, like What Am I Doing With My Life Now That I'm XX Years Old. No, my do-nothing time was spent on an indoor picnic while watching Shaun of the Dead, one of my very favorite movies.

3. At least One Favorite Food - I love fruit like you wouldn't believe so for me, my fave food (and picnic lunch) included a variety of delicious fresh fruits: watermelon and grapes and raspberries and strawberries. I ate them until I was stuffed! Can you ever have too much of your favorite nosh? Maybe but not on your birthday.

4. The Perfect Cup of Coffee - Yup. Ya gotta include a good cuppa joe on your birthday, whether you begin or end your day with it. I had 2 terrific cups today (so far!): one brought to me by HH - in bed! Whoo-hoo! The second one was a tall Americano from Starbucks up the street. Maybe I will even have a third one later this afternoon. Trifecta!

As you can see, I don't need gifts or fancy dinners or people telling me how great I am, in order to celebrate my birthday. I mean, those things are nice and if they're on your list, that's awesome, but I think as I get older, I just want a few simple things that I can count on.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Friday

4 Things I'm Ashamed To Admit I'm Afraid of

1. Yoga - I've never taken a yoga class in my life. Never done a Downward Facing Dog, never carried a rolled-up mat in a special backpack, never chanted in another language. I know lots of dancers take yoga and love it; they claim it helps their technique and stamina and flexibility and that's awesome but I'm so afraid of walking into a class and not knowing what to do. I would totally embarrass myself, I'm sure, which is why I've never gone. You can put me into a ballet class in another country where no one speaks English and I would be fine because I understand the language of ballet but yoga... [shudder]


2. Pop Music - Please don't ask me who Asher Roth is. Or what song Taylor Swift sings. Or which Jonas Brother is which. I have no idea. Not a clue. I am so out of touch with pop music that I only heard a Miley Cyrus song for the first time about two months ago. I'm not afraid of the music itself but of being asked about it and found out for the musical illiterate that I am. I have never pretended to be hip to the music scene but these days, I am so far out of it, the music I like is classified as Oldies. [shudder]

3. Fire - Whenever I leave my apartment, even for a short walk up to the post office, I back up my current WIP onto a jump drive which I carry in my purse. I am so afraid something in my house will catch on fire and explode and then my computer will melt and I will lose all of my work. And since I have a brain like a sieve, I know there isn't any possible way I could recreate it after the fact. I think part of my fear stems from the true story about Ralph Ellison (who wrote "Invisible Man" - not the sci-fi story but the literary novel which won the National Book Award) who lost hundreds of pages of a manuscript in a house fire and was never able to rewrite them. [shudder]

4. Throwing Up - okay, okay, I don't know a single person who actually enjoys this but I have such fear that I would - and have - gladly suffered with horrible stomach pain just to avoid it. I routinely reject food that a normal person would try simply to limit any possible tainting or stomach sensitivity. I am aware of one person (related to me!) who has, in his much younger college days, used vomiting as a means of continuing to party. Yes, he would drink to excess, become too full to drink anymore, then throw up so he could have another beer or 5. Crazy? Ugh. I call it gross. Just thinking about it makes me a little queasy. [shudder]

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Adam and the Idol

Last night, I was supremely disappointed (and a little po'ed) with the choice of Kris Allen over Adam Lambert on American Idol. While I am very happy for any talented person who is recognized and feted by the general public (and Kris seems like a super nice guy), I honestly felt that the wrong person had won.

This morning, I realized my disappointment was not in Adam's loss but in America's voters. I had wanted Adam to win for a much bigger purpose than I had previously admitted: I wanted him to represent America's progressive youth. I wanted the momentum that began with the country voting in an African American president to continue. But when the people of California, a supposedly liberal state, allow same sex marriage rights to be taken away by conservatives in another state, what should I expect from the rest of the country? States like Iowa and Maine and Connecticut and Vermont - not exactly bastions of free-thinking left-wingers - have same sex marriage but not California? Whaaaa?

All season long, I ignored what people were hinting at: that Adam is gay and that America won't vote for a gay Idol. But I strongly disagreed. I kept saying it's about the music, about the show, about the performances. Adam was/is so clearly the most versatile performer, the most comfortable on stage - the most professional - that his talent would win out over politics. I'm sure, in the wake of America's decision, there will be numerous articles and opinion essays floating around the Net that prove or disprove the influence of Adam's sexuality (and btw, we still don't know for sure) on the voters. Only FOX and the Idol producers know where the votes came from, how many from each state and city, but we will never truly know the demographics of those votes.

As a fellow Idol fan said, the fact that a presumed gay singer received so many millions of votes from a broadcast audience is proof positive that the country is at least moving in the right direction. I hope so but to me it just seems like we're trying to make lemonade out of a particularly sorrowful batch of lemons.

Monday, May 18, 2009

How I Know the End of Civilization is Near

Clever title. Hilarious movie.

Have you all seen the movie, Idiocracy, written and directed by the amazingly talented Mike Judge? He is the brilliance behind "Beavis and Butthead" and "King of the Hill" and his first live action film, the underrated Office Space. If you haven't seen Idiocracy, put it on your Netflix queue right this very second! I'll wait.


Okay. In Judge's film, society has devolved to the point of idiocy, with ex-wrestlers running the country and Costco awarding law degrees. Product placement is everywhere, on every item of clothing and as part of people's own names. It's a hilarious and scary movie.

There is a film within the film called, appropriately-enough, "Ass." It is simply a guy's bare butt on the silver screen for 2 hours. It's wildly popular and has even won Academy Awards. You would think such a thing is ludicrous, yes? Well, look no further than the upcoming film, The Hangover. It's about...a hangover. Let's see: bachelor party in Vegas. Drunken adventures. Yup, that's about it.

Bad title. Funny movie?

I'm sure it's a very funny film. Saw the trailer before the phenomenal Star Trek. Looks like a great cast. But couldn't the filmmakers try a little harder to be clever with the title at least? I mean, the concept is hardly revolutionary (did I mention drunken bachelor party adventures in Vegas?) and the story has been told since the days of Shakespeare. So couldn't anyone in the marketing department at Warner Bros. come up with something, um, more original? And this is not the first time I have thought this: Knocked Up was just as generic and simplistic, perfect for where our society is headed.

Don't bother thinking; we'll do that for you. You people just save your tiny shrinking brains for more important things, like which overpriced American car to buy and how many iPods you own.

I foresee The Hangover 2 in the future...why, what do you know? It's already scheduled for a 2011 release. Pure awesome.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Blogger-Author Relationships

I have been following Kristi's and Steph's blog posts about the on-line relationships between book bloggers and authors. They, and their readers, bring up some really good questions and concerns. For instance, can we really call these connections "friendships"? If so, what happens when one "friend" reviews another "friend"? Must you be kind to them out of respect for the relationship?

Let me add my .03 (.02 adjusted for inflation):

I should clarify my comment on Steph's post, when I noted that I don't think bloggers and authors can be friends...of course they can be! Friendships are based on so many different things: favorite television shows, common classes, hobbies like knitting or dancing, dislike of Paris Hilton...and yes, favorite books.

What I mean is that *sometimes* authors hang out at blogs, commenting, becoming buds with the readers and blogger, in the hopes of getting a positive review from the blogger or selling books to her readers. A blogger can be forgiven if she thinks this author wants to be her friend. After all, she's certainly acting like one: she reads every post, she comments, she emails, she gets involved...but she wants something.

Now not all authors do this. I hang out at book blogs as market research for the most part and also because I find a lot of them very entertaining! They're fun, the girls are lively and opinionated, and they don't hold anything back when it comes to reviewing. I'm certainly happy when they review my books positively - and I make it a point to thank them when they do - but if they didn't, well, that's the way the cookie crumbles. I never thought they owed me anything and in fact, have worried that they wouldn't want me "hanging around." I'm an adult, after all, not a teen, and ya know, that can be interpreted kind of creepy.

Look, the thing is that the internet is a big place. There are lots of authors, lots of bloggers out there. Sometimes it's hard to navigate the waters and so you look for a friendly face. I know I do! That being said, if a reviewer trashed my book, I'd probably move on and find other blogs to read. I'd be hurt, sure, like any bad review hurts but I doubt I'd spread that word. Who wants to give anyone else any ideas? LOL!

I have enjoyed getting to know some of the bloggers aside from the whole book review process. I made Liviania a pair of leg warmers simply because she admired the ones I had posted pictures of on my blog - I pretty much love connecting with dancers or former dancers because that's the other part of my life that's important to me. I have emailed Chelsea the Page Flipper about her writing about Laurie Halse Anderson because I think good writing and a passion for writing needs to be encouraged. And I always make sure to read Taren's Chick Manifesto and comment on the brilliance that are her VC Andrews' recaps.

Are these 3 bloggers my friends? Ya know, I'm not sure I even know their real names. :) But I like hanging out with them. As I said above, there are a lot of blogs out there and I don't waste my time following ones I don't like. If I'm a follower of yours, it's cuz I dig you and what you have to say. If I'm not, then I might just not know you yet!

Monday, May 11, 2009

FU to Friday

I recently read about a woman who was denied the vanity license plate, ILUVTOFU because the DMV was concerned people might mistake the driver's love of soy products for something else entirely. Dirty, dirty minds in the government.

Anyway, my FU is a follow-up. And my follow-up is to Friday's post.

The new Star Trek exceeded my expectations. Not only was it a great film in general (lots of action, some romance - and not between who you think it would be, and awesome special effects) but it was a great film for Trek fans. Tons of inside jokes for those of us who know the characters, know the series, know the cliches and parodies, but you certainly didn't have to know any of it to enjoy the film. I was really impressed and would see it again in the theater if I could afford it. For anyone considering attending it but you think you want to wait til it comes to DVD to save some dough, don't. Find a way to see it at a cheaper theater or a matinee time. The DVD will be good to see it a second time - or third or fourth - but not for the first. You really need to experience the big, big picture and the big, big sound.

As for HH, well, we disagreed on what we liked the most and least about this movie. The very scene I absolutely loved (and to avoid spoiling it for you, I will simply say Spock and transporter room and you will know if you have seen it) is the one he absolutely hated and felt like it was completely out of line with the Trek world. His overall opinion was that it was good but not excellent, a worthy successor but not a repeat viewing for him. He actually thinks Wrath of Khan is superior, so we had to watch that when we got home and then we had to watch the original Trek episode it was based on, "Space Seed."

Sorry but I win. New movie is better. Khan was like an extended episode of the original series.

I'm curious to hear what others think, whether you're a Trek fan or not. Did you like the story, the actors, the characters? Better or worse than other Trek movies? Better or worse than other Trek series?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Friday

4 Things I'm Excited About - Yet Sad Too

Isn't that the very definition of "melancholy"?

1. Star Trek - the new JJ Abrams movie is out this weekend and I have tickets for tomorrow night.

Happy: I have been so jazzed about this film since I saw a trailer for it during I am Legend last year. I have seen every Trek movie and television incarnation and even if I didn't care for Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, I did watch some episodes just to keep checking to make sure I hadn't changed my mind.

Sad: It can't possibly live up to the hype that my own mind has created and much as I love Abrams' work, I know he's not a Trek fan. He grew up as a Star Wars nerd and never the twain shall meet. I know that sounds way too geeky but it's true! Trek and Wars are two very different universes and they appeal to different types of people. Anyway, I still want this film to do well.

2. LOST - the two hour season finale is on next Wednesday.

Happy: I have heard a rumor that we will finally meet Jacob which is very intriguing. He has been a specter that haunts the island for so many years and we really don't know anything about him.

Sad: Once the episode is over, we will have to wait 8 months for its final season. Yes, final season! I'm happy and sad about that too! Also, I have a feeling they may explode the hydrogen bomb and then simply leave us hanging until next year.

3. The Hunger Games - the library has reserved a copy for me and I can pick it up tomorrow.

Happy: I've heard so many awesome things about this book, plus my agent has suggested I read it as research for a book I'm writing now.

Sad: I'm sure I will love it and then be super depressed that my book can't possibly be as good.

4. Summer - almost here!

Happy: I love the warm weather and going to the beach and in July, HH and I will be meeting my brother and his family in Arizona on their vacation. Yay!

Sad: I gave myself a summer deadline for the rewrite of this book which makes me anxious. I am happy and sad about this too: love the ideas I have but afraid I won't write well enough for submission.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Bid on me!

An update to my post about the German group requesting my autograph.

Well, now we know:

This is from eBay, Germany. Here is the page hyperlink if you want to bid or simply check out the other autographs this seller has. Maybe YOUR autograph is there too!

Ya know, I'm kind of disappointed. I had hoped that maybe the first group of autograph seekers really were fans of my books but alas, no, they weren't. I'm also glad I didn't send anything to anyone else who emailed me - not because they would have sold the items on eBay but because they would have saturated the market and my autograph would be worth less than the 1 euro it's selling for here.


1 euro.

Saturated market.


Monday, May 4, 2009

4 Movies to get your mind off Swine Flu

Things could be a lot worse...

1. 12 Monkeys - one of my favorite films of all time, this was based on a short French film called La Jetee, which I believe refers to the "throw" of the time traveling. Bruce Willis' character in the American film is literally thrown into the past in order to retrieve items which will help scientists in the future create a vaccine which will combat the virus which has killed millions and driven survivors underground. This is Terry Gilliam at his mainstream best and gave me new appreciation for the talents of Willis and Brad Pitt.

2. 28 Days Later - ah, the fast-moving zombies. Danny Boyle's film is set in Britain after a virus has been accidentally released into the general public and it turns people into crazed "Ragers." I loved this film for its very depressing ending - much like the remake of Dawn of the Dead. Btw, this movie introduced me to the very sexy Cillian Murphy - ooh!

3. Doomsday - another virus has infected the populace, this time in Scotland, in Neil Marshall's film. Marshall directed the amazing Descent which was a wonderful, horrific, female-centric action/horror/suspense film. Doomsday has another strong female lead, Rhona Mitra, who was a Lara Croft model. Mitra plays a special agent who is sent into a walled-off area where survivors have created a Mad Max-ish world; a cure is rumored to have been developed by Malcolm McDowell's mad scientist character and our agent must retrieve it. Not the best, but not bad.

4. I Am Legend - Will Smith, Will Smith, and Will Smith. A virus has wiped out everyone in Manhattan (and presumably the rest of the country), leaving only Smith and his dog to fight the zombie/vampire survivors in this film by Francis Lawrence based on Richard Matheson's novella. I loved this film until the introduction of the woman and boy, which I found to be suddenly too uplifting and took the film in an optimistic direction that strayed much too far from Matheson's fantastic story. Watch it until then and shut it off.

Friday, May 1, 2009

One final thought on body image week...

I had to chuckle when I read Liviania's comment below about how she was sad for me that I didn't get any compliments on my looks. Until the notion of Body Image Week arose at My Favorite Author, it never occurred to me to be aware of what people said about my appearance. More noticeable to me - and more important - are comments about my dancing.

So yesterday, when I was taking class, a lovely young dancer came up to me and asked me what company I used to dance with (when you're my age, it's a pretty safe bet that you "used" to dance somewhere, as opposed to currently being a member of a company). When I told her I didn't, she was astonished - like, her face registered surprise and everything. She wouldn't believe that I was not a retired professional. We did the whole mutual admiration thing ("I love your arms," "No, I love your arms") and moved on.

I get comments like this from people fairly regularly, usually from newish dancers, and I am always appreciative, but when an experienced dancer or current pro says it, I am truly flattered. It made me feel very good, very competent for much of the class, I must admit, so later, when I happened to be standing next to the young woman again, I asked her about herself, where she was from and so on. She's new to LA, only been here for 2 months. I smiled and walked away and immediately my ego deflated.

Ah, I figured, she didn't really think I was good, she just wants to make friends.

Pretty sick way to think, huh?