shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


fine ladies and weeping lace

As you know, I'm sure, Katherine Hepburn has departed. I imagine her friends and family are very sad. I know I am, just generally devastated to think of the world not having a Katherine Hepburn. But... It is a bit less crushing since she leaves so much behind, and since she seems to have succeeded in having an interesting life, and the one that she wanted. I'm sure the ferryman envied her style on the way across the river, and that he refused to accept her coins.

Otherwise, what a classless fool that ferryman must be.

Lots and lots and lots of fitting and lovely tributes today; here are some that stuck out to me:
nice piece from the San Diego Union-Tribune's film editor,
Stephen Hunter's essence-distilling memoriam,
another post piece on her contribution to the world of style,
the New York Times' put up a long and possibly too stodgy obit and some very interesting reviews of her movies, and
the LA Times did a piece on her relationship with Spencer Tracy.

There are wonderful little tidbits about her in these pieces. Perhaps the one I found saddest and most fascinating (that I hadn't encountered before) is that she had a habit of incorrectly giving her birthday as the birthday of her brother who she found after he committed suicide. But then, I'm always one for the morbid detail that seems to say something simple that maybe no one, even the person it's a detail about, really understands.

Anyway. She is missed, just as her presence and stature and vitality have been missed for decades (really) on the screen. A marathon, very soon, I feel coming on.

Other things, less depressing. (And also, probably less pride-inducing about human capabilities in general. You never know.)

In one of the WP's media columns, the following hilarious soundbyte from an editor whose newspaper dropped Martha Stewart's syndicated column:

The Palm Beach, Fla., Post may be the only newspaper to drop Martha Stewart's syndicated column over charges that she conspired to block an insider-trading investigation.
"If any columnist were indicted for anything resembling lying, we would suspend the columnist until the matter was resolved," says Jan Tuckwood, associate editor for features. Newsday and 200 others are still running Stewart's musings, according to the Long Island paper.
Tuckwood's move has drawn little reaction: "I get more calls when the crossword puzzle is wrong. . . . The last column of hers we ran had a low-fat hummus recipe. We don't feel deprived."

Meow. You just know he's going to wake up with a Christmas ornament of his severed head made from common household items on the pillow next to him some day very soon.

Ann Patchett on "Sex and the City" and female friendship. (Warm fuzzies to all you wonderful ladies I get to call friends. I wish we had that kinda time, she's right.)

And, back to the Washington Post, Hank Steuver went to an abstinence convention in Las Vegas.

My favorite moment from the story (though, really and of course, the whole thing's a hoot):

"Smile! We're not here to judge!"

The virgins and re-virginized (and their happily married monogamous mob of chaperons) march toward the Mirage casino's fake volcano. It feels almost sacrificial. There are drunks, and hoochie mamas and the ambivalent stares. There's that whole Krispy Kreme fryer vat feeling of the place.

Soon enough, at Siegfried and Roy Plaza, Unruh spies a young woman walking with a few men who appear to be military guys. With TV cameras and reporters following her, Unruh pounces on them, cracking jokes about STDs, and sparring with one of the guys about sex and asking them to wait. "It's already too late, I hate to burst your bubble," the man says, while his friends laugh. But she's more interested in his female friend, who has grown suddenly quiet. "You call me," Unruh says, pointing at her. "You call me and we'll talk."

And my absolute, most favorite story of the day, about a car-jacking gone terribly wrong in Northern Kentucky. "I was always mean.

Good night.


lazy, frenetic days in the sahari

Speedy, Internet maestro Richard has snapshots from Syc Hill up. Very nice photography, and the backdrop is amazingly beautiful.

Wasabi peanuts are the most wonderful new thing in life.

We were going to go see "28 Days Later," but decided talking to Mr. Butner on the phone was more entertaining. Plus, this is a serious TV night. We'll go see it another night this week. (I'm excited, as I love scary movies; hell, I love WRITING scary movies -- and so few good ones get made. Christopher could really do without them, most comfortably.)

I updated our netflix queue earlier and put lots of good stuff on, so expect a flood of good movie recommendations coming soon. We need to clear out the three movies we have currently: "It Happened One Night" (which has the sexiest scene in film in it, and I just like to see every once in awhile and should probably just buy and get it over with), "The Fast Runner (which we've had for months now, and just don't seem to be in the mood for but which will get watched this week), and "Below" (which comes with high recommendations from a ton of different people).

It is hot and beautiful here. Such days as dreams are sweat-soaked by. Speaking of sweat-soaked, Yoshimi battling the robots makes excellent gym music.

And a weekend of no looking at the novel, but back to work tomorrow. For now, another glass of wine and the smell of charcoal on the breeze. Life is good.


soul music, stinky cheese and good, cheap wine

The new Gillian Welch album is awesome, if you haven't picked it up yet, do so. Very pretty and moody and lovely.

I'm a little skeptical that this is actually going to work, since I saw a thing that said the new blog this interface would _not_ work with Mac IE and that's what I'm on but, damned if it isn't the new interface. So, I'm not going to put up anything too important. (Different from normal how? you might be asking to which I say, Lips that are stitched together are pretty.)

Christopher came home and me and George are happy and we've been to the farmer's market and to see some friends' new puppy and to the liquor store to buy stinky cheese, good olive oil and wine. All that jazz. Regular programming, returned.

I stayed up to watch the new Showtime series, "Dead Like Me," last night. (I really liked "Out of Order" by the way, although the effects are not as seamless as say, "Six Feet Under" effects. That's pure budget though and as I often say about CGI-heavy movies when other people complain about the FX, I go to see movies for stories and not for FX--I still think Poltergeist has some of the most effective such put on film, and those were pretty damn primitive. Not to mention going all the way back to Dr. Caligari. If the story's right, you can have my disbelief, suspended by a pretty bow.) Anyway, it started out a little awkward and slow, but charming, and by the end I was hooked enough to watch the next episode. Lots of things were just reformulations of tropes that are around, but some things felt fresh too, and the characters weren't even necessarily likeable, which in TV is interesting--since sympathetic leads seem to be a rule. There were definitely a few "Lovely Bones"-esque moments, and some moments that reminded me of Buffy and Angel and magical realism in general. But. When the show settled down setting itself up and began, really began, it started to hit a rhythm. I recommend it, for now.

I did not finish the book yet, but I'm getting damn close. It's turning out a little longer than I'd expected, but not overly so and I'm sure will tighten up a bit on the second pass. But, it's nearly done, which is worth three cheers and shutting one eye to squint at the end of the tunnel. I'm still not sure if it's light I see there.


dancing on tiny pieces of glass

Reminder to self that hitting back key will shut the whole damn thing down for some annoying reason.


Yes, I miss him. Terribly.

Yes, the book's on track. I might even finish it. I might even have written almost all a synopsis for the next script today.

But now, some amusing things.

From this interesting and scary article with the author of a new book on dictators (up close and personal):

His eyes rest briefly on his photo album, though he seems to be thinking about something else. "But I am fascinated by the subject of dictatorships, and I've been to a place called Kalmykia in the Russian Federation. It's one
of the independent republics," he says. "It's a bizarre place ruled by a very bizarre chess champion who's imposing Buddhism and chess as the two national religions. So it's an incredible place, so I might do something on that subject."

And, offered without comment, Margaret Atwood gives her own definitions of fantasy, science fiction and speculative fiction in the New York Times.


little blue men dancing on a pin's head

The new interface is like a new toy. Of course, I realize it's not going to work this way on the other computers we own. Here, it works perfectly. I bet the mac completely freaks out, but the mac is gone until next week. I bet my old dinosaurs Windows machines freak out, since one of them freaks out on the blogger home page. But, for now, I am firmly in the court of, Cool, new toys.

Getting ready to drive back home, from my folks' (which is closer to the SycHill retreat than we usually are, so we came here first--plus they are loaning me a car for the week), for a nice lazy evening of house cleaning (petit) and watching HBO. Hey, I'm unapologetic about my devotion to almost every original HBO show, except of course, Arliss (unfathomable how that stays on, really). The best things about being addicted to HBO shows is that it doesn't matter if you miss them because they run a bazillion times on the bazillion HBO channels so it's easy to catch up, if you do manage to actually miss one they put the seasons on DVD fairly quickly, and hey, no commercials. I'm really looking forward to Carnivale in the fall, not least because I found out it has Clea Duvall in it, who is too talented for the stuff she's been in so far. I was very impressed to see in EW that she knows the proper definition of a giant. These things are important, especially if you're going to be on a circus show.

Anyway. I worked on the book for a little bit today, and will do more before the TV watching. Painted a hideously ugly crow with my nephews, while they made cool stuff like "Antenna Machines" (the Antenna Machine is a pie-shaped styrofoam device, painted many hues, with felt pipe cleaners sticking out at many angles with eyes googling at their ends--if you activate it, it turns into a bumblebee head, I've been told) and some kind of performance art involving fuzzy balls and glasses with various degrees of water in them. (I call that one "Some Glasses Are Half Full, Some Half Empty.)

And I managed to sneak in a nap.

The past few days here have been the kind of weather that tricks you and makes you think, "Ah, summer," forgetting completely what actual summer will feel like with its flamboyant humidity and skies too hot for the cumulous.

Oh well.

A p.s. Congratulations to the fabulous and brilliant Michaelangelo Matos on his fabulous new job at which he will be brilliant. Nothing so good as leaving and coming back King.


Okay, the new blogger interface seems to rock.
Wow. Um, blogger is all, um, different. I hope this still works the same, because I am too exhausted to decode the Internet just now.

Long week and long story short. Got back to work on the YA book, which is plugging along toward an ending, I hope, I pray... And I intend to finish it before next Friday, when Christopher comes back from Syc Hill. Because then while he'll have been off having sassy writer fun with brilliant, fun writers, I'll have at least finished a book.

Took nephews to Science Center in Louisville with parents today. Watched The Princess Bride (which they'd never seen) on mini-van screen for the backseat people to watch -- the modern world never ceases to amaze me. I wonder two things if time could be reversed and our old rainbow station wagon had a video player and screen in it when my brother and I were kids:

1. Would there have been a reduction in hitting each other and screaming "I hate you, I hate you, I hate you"?

2. Would we have read less?

I suspect the answer to both is yes. However, the plus, as you must be thinking, is that it keeps the kids quiet. Does it? NO, actually, it means that they'll ask you to explain what's happening or if this is a funny part because the screen's really too small for them to keep up if they haven't seen something (like Tarzan) a million times already. Lesson learned. Don't be ambitious. Don't try to pick movie I would actually want to watch.

Finished "Tithe" and quite liked it. The zippy YA read I've been looking for, dark and pretty.

Am now working on finishing "I, Lucifer." Also seem to be working on using sentence fragments and poor sentence construction in entire blogger entry.

I'll be more grammatically correct tomorrow, I promise.


A really good weekend and short words about it.

Friday was insane at work, so I declared a much-needed night out. We went for dinner at our favorite little French(ish) place, and then walked up and had a drink at this bar next to our Starbucks. The weird thing is that we always seem to happen on these really talented young musicians at the kiosk in between the businesses. A kid who would be better off playing his electric cello and not writing songs, but who we listened to for a good half hour and enjoyed immensely. His folks were there, seeing as it was his first gig, and we the only people who didn't know him. I feel really sorry for any girl this kid (okay, I say kid, but I mean early 20s--um, not much younger than me, prolly) dates because his mother is the doting unbelievably supportive type and no one's ever going to measure up to that. But, he's sure going to date a lot, if his lyrics indicate his proclivities at falling in love. (The cute thing, actually, was that he physically described the love interest du jour in each song, and they were all different girls.)


Then I put on my black spiderweb cowboy boots and we went to a benefit for a local political activist group--a Friday the 13th Black Cat benefit. Very fun--the new bar has liquor and I had two too many gin and tonics and a fine time listening to a bluegrass jam session and a really good set by Amy Rigby and Lucinda Williams' road guitarist. Amy has really nice stage presence and is a fabulously funny and heart-wrenching songwriter.

Then we went home a little early, say midnight, and ran into an old friend of mine and his friends papering up fliers downtown and chatted to them. Unfortunately, we didn't make it to their barbecue today because Christopher is still jamming on his Syc Hill story (which is going awesomely well).

It wasn't until Saturday morning, slightly hungover at brunch at the French cafe we've been dying to go to for weeks that I realized I'd lost my ATM card the night before. Let us all cross our fingers it's just a petty annoyance easily taken care of over the phone in the a.m. I'm pretty sure I left it spit out of the machine, which probably just ate it.

So, writing for Christopher (whose daily word counts are much higher than mine -- not to mention better quality) while I moaned and groaned and watched Real Women Have Curves, which was charming and bright and had some lovely, lovely scenes in it. One of the things I liked best about it, actually, was how it resisted playing out set-ups in favor of emotional pay-offs. Nice. And the sewing factory is fascinating.

Then we watched the first two episodes of Out of Order on Showtime. Really good, though a bit overdone at times. But I like it lots and lots and will watch the remaining two episodes. Some nice writing and believable performances and the relationships are excellently drawn.

Bed. Breakfast today, gym, half of Roxanne(hush), then to the coffeeshop to write (got to finish that damn YA), then bookstore to buy magazines and Tithe and a short story collection I can't remember the name of.

I, Lucifer is really good by the way, if you're fence-sitting on it.

And a lovely talk with Kristin tonight, and other stuff I haven't mentioned and all in all not a bad weekend but I'm cranky because it's over and now to bed.

Good night.


Very short entry today, because this has been the Long Week of Doom and I'm tired. You know you must go to bed, despite the two hour nap earlier, when the music goes off and it seems like a waste to walk in the opposite direction of the bed to put it on again.

So, two links and then lights out.

There's a great New York Times' piece about this soldier who went crazy proposing to women online. What you really must see, though, is the accompanying photo. I call it: "Jilted with Poodle."

And another one, that has sad and happy parts and disturbs me on a few levels I'm too tired to examine right now about someone in Madison, Wisconsin who plays this online RPG Anarchy A LOT. The idea of virtual protests is intriguing, but really, Madison's nice and they should go walk by the water more.


So, I lived.

Things were rattly and up in the air there for a bit and we did end up driving very slowly out to the shop of one of Christopher's mechanics so he could fix things for a few hours, but... Life is good. It runs fine now, and it's always nice not paying as much as they'd fleece you for if you didn't know the mechanic.

I'm not even going to mention the stories and witty asides of the guys hanging out there, because I'm too tired. (Okay, one: someone's boss has a Cadillac with a keg in the back and a tap that comes out of the dash. Seriously.)

And a fellow screenwriter pointed out Jon Carroll's column about screenwriting. I really like Jon Carroll.


We must all bow before the extreme HTML acumen of Mr. Jon Hansen. I said, bow.

Seriously, thanks to Jon for figuring out how to fix the font issues and, perhaps even more miraculously, communicating that information to me. Obviously, he is a cyborg of some kind who will destroy us all, but really I can't hold that against him right now.

A day filled with typing and obnoxious phone calls and the strange clarity lack of sleep can bring.

Something else is wrong with the car. And, we're just hoping it can be fixed before I end up in a mushy heap on the road. Of course, this being the kind of week it is, I can't take off work for safety reasons so tomorrow's drive should be really interesting. This is what's known as a cliffhanger, folks. You have to tune in tomorrow to see if I made it, if I didn't, or if I have a really horrible story about roadside misfortune. Perhaps the peacock -- which yes, does still show up sometimes, flapping along the same section of guardrail -- will be a player in my fate. Or maybe it'll be the herd of llamas.

You just never know.

And, my favorite story today, what Ari could do with his and Helen's poetic relationship..


I just took George the Dog for a nice walk. Just a short one, around two blocks, because it's hot and being out at the farm, his feet have forgotten how hot the sidewalks get. And how we have to be careful to avoid broken beer bottle glass. (It's always broken beer bottle glass, as if beer bottles are suicidial or something. "Just do it, hurl me to the ground, come on, you know you want to," they say in their brown, slurry voices.)

It was nice. I'm going to talk Mr. Rowe into taking me to sit out in the very nice sunshine somewhere for a drink. I've felt out of sorts all day, for reasons of being slightly ill and for reasons of being slightly ill for other reasons. Sunshine will melt it away.

We're trying to reestablish the love, and just talking over stuff related to screenwriting, or movies or Battlecats or whatever here. So, come on by.

We got so much mail today that they couldn't get it in our box and I got to bring it home in a plastic carton. How cool is that? There's a package and three submissions for Say... Several submissions, we've gotten now, and the reading period just started, which is nice. And the DVD of It Happened One Night. If only we didn't have to go to the gym and write, write, write; that's the making of a perfect evening.

George says hi.
Well, now I seem to have only screwed up the font in posts themselves. Again, if anyone has the sage wisdom to tell me how to fix that back (and how trying to add in quicktopic links messed it up), that would be grand. Couldn't figure out how to put the link at the bottom of the post without messing everything up worse, so for now it's over in the links bar beneath the link to email me.
It occurs to me that this may just be something with our settings in Safari, so if you could post a note that says whether the page is all screwy-looking to you or not, that would be helpful in knowing how much I have to worry about this.
Okay, so this seems to have not completely screwed up my format when I look at it with Explorer, but when I go back to Safari eek. The columns are all different widths, mostly skinny, and the posts are bleeding into the links menu. If anyone knows how to fix this, please post or write me.
Testing, and if it works, we will move the yelling and screaming and discussion about movies and screenwriting here.


Just read a wonderful review of I, Lucifer, which makes me excited to start reading it. I had picked it up at the library yesterday because it looked fun.

My nephews today were convinced that their new bicycyles are actually dirt bikes. And I don't blame them. I think I'll start thinking of my car as a dirt bike and myself as Evil Knievel. Was anyone else as obsessed with Evil Knievel as my brother and I were when we were kids? Or do I have to ask--what child can resist a real person, an adult even, named EVIL, who makes a living being a daredevil? I remember rigging up a giant yellow Hot Wheels ramp upstairs and an endless cycle of careening objects off it, jumping across jungle or the Mississipi or mountains made of fire. We tried to up the stakes with each one. By the time we got to the Scooby Doo van going over, the situation was quite dire.

If I'd known who Philippe Petit was back then, I would have pitted the two against each other. Can Evil Knievel jump the graceful wire walker? Can the wire walker survive over a river of flame being jumped by Evil Knievel?

It seems like the ultimate sad child-following-in-parents' footsteps story that Robbie Knievel ended up doing this stuff. I wish he had ended up a botanist instead.

Is it totally obvious that the laundry is still not done yet?
Finally, finally, finally hit the beginning of the ending of the book today.

And did a metric ton of laundry.

George Rowe the Dog is coming home soon.

And there was The Drama, but I'm not supposed to post anything about that on here lest the gods be offended and come for me and call me names and suchlike.

I will say that I'm much more looking forward to starting the next script, as I've been reminded in a lot of ways why I continue to write them. Not a bad result at all.


I don't know if you guys have been following the Beagle 2 story, but I find it fascinating. Here's a good overview. They're going to play Blur when they get there and transmit it back (assuming all goes according to plan) and there's a Damien Hirsh piece on board. I love it. Maybe the Martian Mayor can threaten to pull funding from the Martian Museum of Modern Art if they agree to show it. Or um, maybe that's just a cartoon I'd like to see.


Pet Peeve No. 997: People with indefensible positions who keep defending them anyway, because it's like, the Internet and no one can stop them.

Long day. I think I know the end end of the book and that's always nice. It's raining outside, which isn't always so nice, but is good enough for sleeping to. And that's what I'm getting ready to do. Long sleep. Get brakes on car fixed. Go pick up the much-missed George Rowe the Dog from the parents' farm.

We watched Autofocus, which was creepy and disturbing in a mostly good way, and then I watched Rabbit-Proof Fence, which was beautiful and disturbing in a completely good way. The latter is an amazing example of spare dialogue and visual storytelling. Highly recommended, although I highly recommend you do not indulge in the featurette on the cattle call they did with every young Aboriginal girl in the country.

Anyway, to sleep.


Okay, so two more things and the last things of the day and then I go work on the book.

This one pertains to the Spike Lee thing. It's a letter the Marx Brothers wrote to Warner Bros. when the studio tried to tell them they couldn't name their movie A Night in Casablanca. The Marx Brothers were so very clever.

And, stolen from the same person, a bunch of 12 year olds decided they would remake Raiders of the Lost Ark shot for shot, and now they're screening the movie as adults. I have to say if the rest of it looks as awesome as this trailer then maybe all movies should be made this way. Gus van Sant's Psycho shot by shot remake certainly would have been more interesting.

Oops. Forgot I had two articles to stick up here in case anyone's so inclined.

Remember my Spike Lee rant awhile back? Looks like I was right. Spike is a word. When I think Spike, I think Buffy, or pointy object d'impalement or dog collars or dogs or bikers even, before I think of Spike Lee. Give me a break. A network stealing its identity from Spike Lee? It's not like he's Oprah. Who was, in fact, smart enough to name her network something else.

And then there's this one, about the quest to make Pat Garrett a scoundrel through DNA testing. Better dying through DNA, they'll be saying soon.
this is the hard drive, this is the ocean

(Evan Dando on "Hard Drive" off Baby, I'm Bored)

Incidentally, the CD above is the best gym music ever, or at least to date. It slows down in enough places to keep you from having a heart attack, and the fast ones make you speed up enough to see god or something like it.


Music makes working out easier. And more fun. Less like torture, anyway, because I don't want to go overboard lest you doubt what I'm telling you.

Seriously, it's like being in fourth grade when everybody started getting walkmans and it was cool. Why? Not because it was new technology, but because you could walk around with your own secret music and nobody knew what it was. Nobody but you. Unless, of course, you inadvertently belted along with it, which let's face it, happens. (And it just never fails to bring joy to those who witness it. The kind of joy you become the butt of, because nobody ever assumes that you just don't care if you're singing too loud to music only you can hear.)

Anyway, secret music + the gym=less pain. I promise.

# # #

Seriously hoping that I just forgot to copy my last four pages of the book on the back-up disk and that they will be all there, nice and safe on the computer hard drive and I won't have to write them all over again. (That is not THE last four pages of the book, just the last four I wrote.)

Speaking of which... 'Night.


I can't promise much tonight. Drew made us go to "spinning class," which does not involve twirling about like a pretty ballerina. It involves death and sweat and pedaling and every part of my lower body, and maybe even a few bits of the rest, will be sore tomorrow. I know it.

Long, long, lonnnng week so far. But I did a good number of words on the book today, and hope that means I'm back on track and nearing the finish line.

Then: another screenplay? The finishing of the short stories? The rewriting of the YA?

Somone, a scary financier type, in Nashville asked me for the part of the YA book I had done. It even went so far as to have Christopher print out the first 150 pages (free!) in the business center of the hotel. But then I decided that I didn't want anyone having a copy of the first draft floating around, because that is something that you will always regret. Even if it leads to good things, you'll have to keep explaining why there's that one dialogue passage on page 62 that just says blahblahblahblahfillinlater.

So. Anyway, it will be done soon and then onto other things and onto sending it to people for comments and all that jazz.

Christopher is beginning to work on his Sycamore Hill story, which is a fine thing, since he leaves for it Very Soon. The rest of you busy little Syc Hill bees, are I'm sure, reading this as you take a break to relieve a finger cramp as you write your own stories.

A link from today that's worth it:

The FBI needs the help of teen girls to pose as teen girls and catch creeps online. BeeYOOtiful.

It's the oddest thing, but it's like Buffy ending has given Buffy back to me. I didn't even really want to watch older seasons, because there were such painfully forced and bad moments in the last season. But now, I can't get enough of them and they're so, so good. Odd that the jones for an R.I.P. show can be filled by old episodes, but it seems to be working so far.


Mira Sorvino's head is head-sized, but she did dress up in faux-cowgirl Western gear on Sunday. The boots were nice.
A quick one, as we are on our way out to dinner.

I will write about the Parthenon in Nashville a little bit later. The trip was good, but when we got back we were so tired we both went to bed before eight last night. And I'm working on the YA again, after three days off from it -- getting bit by bit very much closer to the scary bit: the end.