Monday, December 14, 2009

"Deadwood" Showdown

While I wait for "True Blood" to return I've gotten caught up in the HBO Old West showdown known as "Deadwood." Loaded with raunchy language, brothels, muddy boots, handlebar mustaches, whiskey shots and all sorts of murderous mayhem, it's definitely my kind of show. My roommate got my boyfriend and I season one for Christmukkah, swearing that it's the best written show in television history, and while the dialogue is entertaining and historically accurate (f***ing profanity and all) I'm not quite sure it takes the prize.

Now some may laugh at my suggestion that "Gilmore Girls" is one of the most expertly written shows ever to have aired, but never before has there been such a unique voice as writer Amy Sherman. Each line spoken has so many levels of meaning, intent and reference that you have to watch an episode three or four times (dictionary in hand and google at your fingertips) to get all of the humor. Crafted - that's the word I'd used to describe both her characters and her dialogue. (As a side note, "Six Feet Under" and "The Golden Girls" are runner's up in this catego

No, I love "Deadwood" not for dialogue but for the ambiance - that mixture of fear and excitement and adventure and freedom that the Old West conjures inside of me, as it did for pioneers, cowboys and scoundrels of ole. Now that the world has been mapped down to the square foot and we can google spy on every street in America, there's no more frontiers to explore. The unknown doesn't exist any longer. And maybe it's better that way, since as a race, we human's explorations tend to lead to bloody battles. But still, I can't help but sigh for a part of our history when life had possibilities out West and that by just stepping out of your wagon or saloon or homestead every morning, you were bound to have yourself an adventure.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Scrabble - More Than Just a Game

If there's a rep from Hasbro reading this blog right now, I have a suggestion. Why just market Scrabble to hipster couples and empty nesters when you can market it to counselors and psychologists everywhere? Having played the game with family, friends and boyfriends, I can tell you that nothing in this world brings out the heart of a relationship (whether it's red or black as coal) faster or more effectively than a friendly game of "I-know-more-words-than-you", otherwise known as Scrabble.

You're not following? Okay, here's some examples:

1.) When I used to play with my mom as a kid, most games ended up with me feeling bitter and defeated. The woman is a wordsmith. At the time, I thought she was being mean. 'Wipe that smug smile off your face!' I wanted to say. But now I see she was just putting me in my place. What better way to show your child who the authority of the house is than to kick their butt at Scrabble? Really, it's a phenomenal parenting tool. You get to teach your child spelling while also showing them who's boss. Pure genius.

2.) My best friend and I used to play Scrabble after she got off work as a bartender. We'd play right there at the bar and, because I was always ahead in points, guys would stand over her shoulder trying to give her advice. This was the point in the game where we'd draw up our feminist sleeves and give them the what for, ultimately bringing us closer as friends and making us stronger women to boot. It also revealed to me her good character. As a tutor to her in Spelling in Elementary school, there really was never a chance she'd beat me at Scrabble, but she always tried and always gave it her all. Now that's what I call heart.

3.) Perhaps the best way for Scrabble to be used in the mental health community is in relationship and marriage counseling. Just put two people in front of that Scrabble board with its pink double word scores and blue triple letter scores and watch the gloves come off. If you're going to last, you can play without demeaning each other or crying. Or, if you two are passive aggressive, the game will help to bring your issues to light so you can work on them with your psychiatrist. Heck, I even think priests and rabbis should get in the mix, using Scrabble during their pre-marriage counseling sessions. I mean, why pussy-foot around when you can rip open wounds within fifteen minutes? Nothing like a handful of vowels or a word challenge to bring out the best and worst of humanity.

My boyfriend and I play all the time, and although he won the last game I don't hold any resentment. Honest I don't. Okay, well maybe a little... But that's the beauty of Scrabble. Just like any relationship has its ups and downs (romantic or otherwise), so does the game. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes you win. But if it's a strong bond, you keep playing the game and hope that in the end, it will all just even out.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Oregon Trail

Ladies - Do you have a man with marriage and kids on the brain? Does the thought make you break out in a cold sweat? Then, boy, do I have the answer for you. Download the old school computer game, The Oregon Trail, on your boyfriend's iPhone and for hours he can play out his male provider fantasies without the harmful side-effects - horrid white dress, stretchmarks, dirty diapers, college tuitions.

As a strapping pioneer my man protects me and our three beautiful children - Isabel, Greydon and Anderson. And guess what? I don't have to do anything because my gorgeous, dusty counterpart does all the mothering for me. It's a win-win! Of course, two of our children were snatched by bald eagles and the third died of typhoid, but the beauty with the Oregon Trail is that you can always start from scratch and get a whole new set of adoring faces to feed and keep safe from angry natives (who I really don't blame for axing off my arm the other day. I mean, they were there first.)

So, ladies, remember, if wedding dresses make you itch and small children frighten you (as they do me) then take a hint from Blackheart and download The Oregon Trail today... It won't keep him satisfied forever (you can only rebuild so many tornado struck wagons trains before you just give up), but at least it'll buy you some time while you take your biological clock in for repair.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"Oooooh, that smell. Can't you smell that smell?"

The band Lynyrd Skynyrd said it best in their lyrics, "Ooh, ooh that smell. Can't you smell that smell? Ooh, ooh that smell. The smell of death surrounds youuuuu..." And my god, does it surround me. About one month ago, my boyfriend and I woke up not to the smell of coffee brewing... oh no... no Folgers in our cup... no, we woke up to a horrific stench emanating from our heating vents. So far we've tried everything.

1.) Turning off the heaters, which was fine until the temperature in Music City dropped to below 20 degrees at night.

2.) Pest control. Just a few weeks after the smell set in a mouse appeared in our house. We thought, "that's it!" The same thing happened to me in the Santa Cruz dorms. They had to pry the mouse corpse out of the wall and soon things returned to normal (i.e. the smell of dirty socks, cheap perfume and marijuana.) Turns out, however, that our Nashville mouse was a fluke. We did manage to catch some possums living under our house (they were set free elsewhere for all you animal lovers) and my cat, Jade, will never forget the day her stuffed mousy came alive and scuttled across the room (don't worry, we set that critter free, too.)

3.) We recycled that gigantic collection of molding glass in our laundry room (you have to take it to the recycle plant), but all that did was give me more room to dance as I fold clothes.

4.) The plumber thought we may have a sewage leakage somewhere. Nope, we don't. And that theory sounded so good!

5.) We had workers clean up and attend to the mold growing on the ceiling in my bathroom. Nope, not the source either.

6.) Ignore it. This is the step my boyfriend and roommate have now implemented. And I don't blame them. What else can we do? We live in the stinky house now. The one people make excuses not to come over to. We buy candles (the plug-ins just made it worse, yuck) and burn incense and try not to gag. "Oh no..." we tell friends, "it's not our house. It's the construction down the street. Open sewage line." Hell, maybe it is. Or maybe it's a haunting. We haven't tried an exorcist yet. Does anyone have a good number for one? I'll try anything once.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mission Accomplished

Well, I did it. Yes, ma'am. I wrote 50,000 words of a novel entitled "Anchor Them" in one month. I took the National Novel Writing Month challenge and came up a winner. You know what lesson I garnered from the whole experience? What gem of knowledge was left behind in its wake? What deep insight I learned about myself and my place in the world?... Well here it is...

I don't like writing novels.

There you go folks. I've always pondered in my mind what it would be like to be a famous novelist. To hole up in a cabin by a lake somewhere and pen my memoir. Or rent a villa in Tuscany to hash through my latest best seller. But now I know. It's not for me. I'm a screenwriter at heart. I like to write telling dialogue and to tell a whole universe in one frame. I don't like to bother with in depth description. Bo-ring. Grab the heart of the matter, the soul of your character, the core of your message, throw it up on screen in the most concise way possible and relish in the fact that you did it all in 120 pages.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thoroughly-good For Your Soul

In Spin Class today I was pleasantly surprised by the sub's awesome and eclectic taste in music, especially her choice of George Thorogood's "Who Do You Love?" What I love about that man and his lyrics is the real sense he instills of the Wild West - freedom, adventure, savage love, all the vices you can handle. I also appreciate his taste for the macabre, something I, myself, am trying to achieve in this National Novel Writing Month challenge - that colorful mixture of life and love and grit and madness and morbidity. In his lyrics you feel death looming around the corner, making his lyrics and you feel ever the more alive. (Kind of like my favorite television show "True Blood", really...) So below I've offered up this tune in all its lyrical glory. Enjoy it if you know what's 'good' for you.

George Thorogood & the Destroyers - Who Do You Love?

I walked forty-seven miles of barbed wire, I got a cobra snake for a necktie
A brand new house on the road side, and it's a-made out of rattlesnake hide
Got a band new chimney put on top, and it's a-made out of human skull
Come on take a little walk with me baby, and tell me who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?

Around the town I use a rattlesnake whip, take it easy baby don't you give me no lip
Who do you love?
Who do you love?

I've got a tombstone hand and a graveyard mind, I'm just twenty-two and I don't mind dying
Who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?

Now Arlene took a-me by my hand, she said "Lonesome George you don't understand,
who do you love?"
The night were dark and the sky were blue, down the alleyway a house wagon flew
Hit a bump and somebody screamed, you should've heard what I'd seen
Who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?

Yeah, I've got a tombstone hand in a graveyard mine, just twenty-two baby I don't mind dying
Snake skin shoes baby put them on your feet, got the goodtime music and the Bo Diddley beat
Who do you love?
Who do you love?

I walked forty-seven miles of barbed wire, I got a cobra snake for a necktie
A brand new house on the road side, and it's made out of rattlesnake hide
Got a band new chimney put on top, and it's made out of human skull
Come on take a little walk with me child, tell me who do you love?
Who do you love?
Who do you love?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The United States of Racism

Honestly, I can't take it anymore. When we elected our new president I thought to myself, "wow, we've done it. We've finally grown up as a country." Don't take me wrong, I wasn't under the assumption that's we'd eradicated racism. All you have to do is take the drive along Highway 40 from the West to Nashville, Tennessee to know racism still lurks in the dirty subconscious of our great nation. But, still, I was hopeful. I was also, unfortunately, blind.

This election has only fed the dragon, waking it from it's demonic underground lair so that it can wreak havoc on America, once again. All you have to do is turn on Fox news or flip on AM radio to see and hear the dragon spewing its venom across the airways, making gullible Americans mistake trash for truth. What is the real truth? Well, in things are pretty much the same as they were before the election. The sky isn't falling, Chicken Little. Swarms of locusts are descending on our crops. Socialists haven't taken over the country. The status quo is essentially still in effect. So we have a president who actually wants his people to be able to afford to see a doctor. Oh no! What ever will we do if the country's poor are suddenly leading long, healthy lives? How will be feel grateful for our lives if our fellow man isn't suffering by comparison? The terror!

Change is coming but the dragon is doing its scale-y, slimy best to burn it to a crisp. If you believe the hype the racists put out, you'd think we were experiencing Armageddon. And maybe were are. But it's not Obama ushering in this terrible realm, it's America's twisted hate. It's racism that's taking hold, dragging us down into the muck and mire. Once we as a country can call it what it is, we might actually be able to do something about it. Until that day, I'm going to start stocking up on flame retardant suits.

Monday, November 2, 2009

National Novel Writing Month - Take the Challenge!

National Novel Writing Month has begun, folks, and in my desire to thrust myself off the cliff known as 'the comfortable life' I've decided to take the challenge. From November 1st until midnight November 30th the goal is to have written 55,000 words (about 175 pages) of a novel, the emphasis being on quantity, not quality. Here's some quotes I love from the website:

"Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft..."
"Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing."
"We can't do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let's write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together."

After trying, yet failing, to get another writer in my life to take the challenge with me, I thought I'd make the plea here. All it takes is a quick sign-up online. Winners (they count your words after midnight November 30th and then immediately erase your prose so there's no worry of plagiarism - you can also submit it scrambled if you're super paranoid) will get their names in the coveted Winners Circle online. Yes, it's a real challenge, but the point is to just go, man, go! Don't think about it too much. Just write for the mere sake of writing and see what wonderful crap you come up with. And please let me know if you sign up so I can add you as a writing partner.

By the way, the site also has a 'procrastination station' and tons of advice when you get stuck, not to mention motivational emails to get you pumped. So what the hell, let's keep our eye on that finish line and get our creative juices flowin'. Who's with me?!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Not much to say about this one other than 1.) I'm not a cat lady, I swear, but this is truly amazing 2.) She actually seemed to like it, posing for my roommate, giving us all her good angles and 3.) There is nothing better than cats in disguise. My boyfriend had already searched online for a ninja cat costumes but came up short. As luck would have it, though, while shopping for a gold pen for my Joan Holloway outfit at Target I stumbled upon three marvelous options for $5 - rooster, jester and pharaoh. I chose this one because of the golden cobra (duh) and because it's light-weight; therefore, suitable for her tiny head. Can't you just see her floating down the Nile, male cats fanning her fur and hand feeding her Whisker Lickins? If you can't, you have no imagination. By the way, these photos are a bit blurred because they were taken on my Blackberry. Still, I think they capture the essence of Cleocatra...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Reason for Sports

Call me naive, but I've never been able to wrap my head around sports mania. I mean what is it that attracts so many people to their TV screens, radios and sports arenas to watch men and women battle it out to prove their athletic superiority? Why do we care about these people? Why are blogs, television shows and newspaper articles dedicated to picking them apart? How do such strong emotions as love, hate, fear, anxiety, passion and zealousness find their way into something so relatively unimportant? Is baseball going to score a cure for cancer? Will football tackle the health care debate? Will basketball make a slam dunk in the fight against crime?

Bad puns aside, it all just seems like one big distraction from real life and from what really counts. Do we put our hopes and dreams into these super athletes so our dashed hopes and missed dreams don't seem as bad? If they can make gobs of money, score pretty ladies all over the globe and spend their days doing what they love, then it's not so bad that we're in debt to our ears, divorced (or considering it daily) and stuck in a dead end job.

Well, at least this is what I've felt for years. But something has changed recently as I watch my intelligent, go-getter, environment loving, money hungry boyfriend cherish every minute of his Sunday football/World Series extravaganza. When I met him I had no idea he was a sports fan. He just didn't fit the bill. Yes he was a living, breathing male - that should have been a tip off. But his cynicism, know-how, worldliness and "total lack of athletic ability" (his words, not mine) made me assume he thought sports were a joke, just as I did (a blackhearted, know-it-all cynic myself.) But, alas, I was wrong. The Red Socks, the Patriots, the Giants - they're all his friends. He's sad when they're sad and happy when they're happy.

Even if he's an anomaly, then what are the other reasons people watch sports and cheer on their teams? Here's a list of some food-for-thought theories I've come up with observing my boyfriend and other sports fans in their natural habitat:

  1. It's a reason to eat really yummy snacks that you normally don't let yourself have. Greasy, cheesy, salty, fatty things that make life worth living.
  2. It's a good way to put off important work - like paying the bills or writing that school essay.
  3. It's a reason to drink copious amounts of beer and liquor. How can you justify screaming at the television screen if you're not hammered?
  4. It's a reason to not "talk" about things - i.e. your partner knows not to bring up "the relationship" or the need for more cat litter when the game's on. (At least not until commercial.)
  5. It provides a sense of purpose. If you didn't watch the game, then it's your fault if they lose. You're their good luck charm! You just know it!
  6. It keeps life from feeling too serious. So you just found out your Aunt Diane has kidney failure and the stock market is plummeting... so what? You can think about them when the game's over.
  7. It makes you feel a part of something. This is your team, your fellow fans, your sport.
  8. It simulates war. Men love war. They're creating new wars all the time. And what is sports other than watered-down war games? The ball for the grenade. The interception for the coup. The touchdown for the bombing. The Super Bowl for the victory.
  9. It helps you blow off steam. You don't need to yell at your business partner, wife or kids when you can yell at the referee and the other team's dumbass coach.
  10. It give you something to talk about with your friends, family and coworkers. Conversation hit a speed bump? Can't think of what to say? Have nothing in common? Don't know how to bond with your son? Go to sports immediately. Ahhh, that's better. Now you're the best of chums.
  11. It's okay to act like an idiot. Ever fancied painting your face, pounding your bare chest and screaming profanities at the top of your lungs in a large crowd? Sports let's you do that and still hold your head high. In fact, it's downright honorable.

Monday, October 19, 2009

When 'Comfortable' Is No Longer Comforting

My brain has turned into soggy gray matter. I can feel is swishing back and forth against my skull as I twist and turn in Sculpt Class. If I even take our front steps too quickly, there it goes like an orange thrown against a trampoline. Why the sudden blobification of my most vital organ?... Comfort. I have grown far too comfortable with my life. The other day my boyfriend actually called me a "waiter," as in someone who waits, not a food service employee.

It's as if I'm waiting for something to happen to me, twiddling my thumbs, hoping for the best. I wake up. Go to the gym. Do some work. Eat a salad. Do some more work. Kiss my boyfriend when he gets home and then turn on the television and relax with Diet Ginger Hansen's and think "I deserve this for all my hard work." It's not a bad life by any stretch of the imagination, but the next morning I wake up thinking, what the hell did I actually accomplish yesterday besides firming by backside and making some money? Really, what? Well, the waiting ends today. This comfort is no longer comforting.

Every week I vow to do one activity that is out of my comfort zone. I'm not going to advance as a screenwriter, make friends in this new town of mine or really experience southern living until I take that mushy ball in my cranium and make it strong again. Take chances. Have adventures. Fail miserably and succeed beautifully.

First up, finally taking a banjo lesson. Playing an instrument scares me to death because 1.) I'm not musically inclined and 2.) I fear my teacher laughing at me or telling antidotes to his other students about that 'brain dead wannabe banjo player from LA' he teaches every Monday. Wonderfully uncomfortable, indeed, so this will be a great start. My brand new, practically unused banjo (if you count my pathetic attempt at learning from a dvd) is sitting collecting dust in the corner as it gently weeps. No more weeping; it's time to kick comfort to the curb and embrace uncertainty.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Moving in with someone means you have to learn to compromise. And by "compromise", of course, I mean do things you normally wouldn't do in order to get them to stop nagging you. The following is a list of the latest areas of improvement my darling live-in boyfriend has been generous enough to point out:

1.) After brewing a cup of coffee always immediately throw away the filter and rinds.
2.) Don't let the recycle bin get too full. It just makes it harder to carry outside.
3.) My Netflix queue is to be shared, not hoarded.
4.) Don't leave a dish dirty for more than 15 minutes after you're done eating. Immediately make your way to the dishwasher, do not pass Go, do not collect $100.
5.) Do not stop for gas in "bad" neighborhoods. You are bound to get raped and/or mugged.
6.) Do not jog down alleys. You are bound to get raped and/or mugged.
7.) Do not put vodka in the freezer. The bar must hold up to appearances and a missing staple, such as vodka, is suicide.
8.) Don't mix solid whites with light colors in the wash. Those babies must be bleached.
9.) Putting lemons, limes or tomatoes in the fridge drains them of their goodness. Do it, again; lose a hand.
10.) We don't need a large dresser. Clothes must be prioritized.
11.) A desk must always be by a window. Otherwise, your workspace becomes a prison.
12.) Do not tell a helicopter pilot in the Air Force that your friend's father flies helicopters for the Fire Department. It's insulting. (This one still has me scratching my head.)
13.) Only buy meat fresh and never from Trader Joes. Frozen buffalo burgers are a disgrace. Whole Foods is god.
14.) Don't recycle wine bottles. They make ideal ashtrays.
15.) And last but not least (now this is the rule I set down): Always kiss your partner when you come home from school.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Out with the Old

In 3 weeks I will be leaving this metropolis we call LaLaLand and heading down South to the home of country music, better known as Nashville, Tennessee. As I wade through the dust and grime collecting on the piles of junk I've carried around all these years, I can't help but get a thrill every time I toss, recycle, sell or give-away an item, whether it be a Janet Jackson cassette tape or a bag of unused make-up wedges. Seriously, it's like a workout - you sweat, lose weight (i.e. the pounds of crap you're discarding) and work up an appetite. Haul enough storage bins to the garage, and you'll even tone muscle.

But what is it about getting rid of the old to make room for the new that's so satisfying and, well, liberating? It's almost as if I can breathe better without so much stuff lassoed to my being. I suppose it's all a part of letting go - the process isn't easy, but you're guaranteed to feel better afterward.

This gypsy heart of mine has always given me an advantage in forsaking old life chapters for new ones. I once had a roommate who saved everything she'd ever owned since childhood. She even kept her baby teeth in a jar. I'm not kidding for effect. This is the real deal. Some people just can't let go.

Then there was the old lady on my Meal on Wheels route in Santa Cruz. She lived in a house that was floor to ceiling full of trash, collectibles and memorabilia. You could barely move around, and I won't even get into the state of the fridge (or the smell of the house). It was truly tragic. Like Big Edie and Little Edie, there are those of us who'd rather see our gardens grey than give a go at a new surrounding.

If only we could all see places and objects as ephemeral - here today, gone tomorrow - then everyone could get the same thrill I'm having at selling my DVD/VHS player on Craigslist. I am not my DVD player; my DVD player is not me. That said, there's no way in hell I'm giving up my iPod.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Big Fat Bully

We humans are such bullies. As my mom puts it to her cats, "I'm the boss mammal." And bossy we are. The other day I was driving down my street and watched in horror as a black Volvo crushed a little bird under its tires. Its partner (was it a mom, a baby, a boyfriend, a best friend...?) flew off, then hovered around its dearly departed, chirping and screeching and fluttering its wings. Just like that, a little life was snuffed out by a big human bully.

I was fuming about it all day. What makes us so special? Why should we have the power to decide which animals roam free and which end up on our plates, which trees get demolished and which get to provide shade for us at the beach, which flowers dot the landscape and which wind up in vases surrounded by dinner party guests? It's astounding the gall we humans have: the ways in which we play god everyday.

Then as I was driving to the gym later and witnessed a giant hawk or vulture swoop down and tear a piece of roadkill to pieces, carrying off a huge bloody chunk of flesh in its beak, I felt better knowing that at least one species was benefiting from all our bullying. Our angry tires, made his delectable dinner. Vultures feeding vultures... Maybe we're not so bad after all.

Nah, we're bullies.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cat Asses

In the past 2 weeks I have cleaned not one, but two, cat asses. This, my friends, is not my idea of a fun summer activity. The first was my cat Jade, a dried poo-ball stuck in her fluffy white butt. I had to clean it off, and then scrub her butt in the bathtub as she meowed and yowled like a banshee on crack. Blood curdling, glass shattering, ear drum popping shrieks, as if I were strangling her or sticking pins in her eyes. Our subletter must think I'm some sort of sadist. I kept yelling out, "Really, I'm not hurting her. She hates water!" just so she wouldn't call Animal Control on me.

The second offense occurred yesterday with my roommate's cat, Patrick - the big, furry gray beast with three legs. He has some sort of bladder inflammation, and after taking him to the vet, I noticed he had peed all over his backside. I couldn't let him walk around the house like that, poor dear, so I hosed him off. My arms now look like pin cushions, one particularly gnarly puncture wound currently turning black and blue. A poke hear, a poke there - I wore long sleeves to the gym because I was worried people would think I was a blind heroin addict.

The point of my story is to 1.) bitch and moan and 2.) hope that by writing about it, no other dirty cat butts will fall on my lap. I am no groomer, nor do I want to be. And most importantly, I'm slightly anemic and can't risk loosing any more blood. So, universe, could you lay off for a bit?


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

David Sedaris Hates Me

Yup, you read it right. One of my favorite authors in the world thinks I'm an utter disgrace. How did this come about, you may ask? It all began with a little book by the name of "When You Are Engulfed in Flames." A friend of mine gave it to me for my birthday last year, so when I heard Sedaris was holding a free signing in LA last Wednesday I jumped at the chance. I'm not really one to collect autographs, but there's something about a signed book by a renowned author that makes me feel better than other people.

However, things got dicey when I realized the said book was in Nashville with my boyfriend. Feeling bad, he offered to pay me back if I bought a used copy in town. Did and done. The literary shit then hit the fan, once again, when once arriving at Barnes & Nobles with friends, we realized you had to buy a new copy in store to be allowed to get it signed. "Since when? The website didn't say anything about it!" I demanded answers. Apparently it's a special deal Sedaris made with the bookstore. I was beginning to smell a sellout. Needless to say, I had to buy yet a 3rd copy of the book to be returned at a later date once I got through and had my used copy signed. Sound confusing? It was.

But nothing beats the four hours, no four and a half hours, I spent in line alone once my friends - off to bigger and better plans - ditched me, their unsigned books in my hands. My stomach growled. I wished that I'd brought snacks or at least my Updike book club pick. I'd already read the Sedaris book cover to cover. Plus, the line weaved through the worst sections of the book store - Sports, Automobile, Crosswords (particularly painful since you can't very well do one and then put it back in place), Expecting Mothers. Gross. I did manage to look up the car I'm selling in the 2009 Kelley Blue Book. One small victory.

After making friends with the girl ahead of me, taking deep breaths to calm my nerves and flipping through a fabulous book of postcards entitled "Cute Animals Delivering Bad News", it was finally my time to meet the MAN. I had been watching as he spent fifteen minutes with each person, smiling and making little notes in his pocket notebook. Would they end up in his newest essay? His journal? A NY Times article? Would I make the cut?

That's when I blew it. Blew it big time. I had been praying he wouldn't ask what I did, as I'd hate to tell a professional writer of his caliber that I'm a small fry writer myself. But guess what? Bingo. You got it. He asked what it was that I write. "Screenwriting and an online column." I didn't want to mention the commercial treatments because people always want an explanation of what they are, and I have to watch dismayed as their eyes glaze over in confusion and boredom.

He pushed further about the column, and when I told him it revolved around frugality in LA he asked for an example. Well, I'd written about free book signings. "What about them?" he asked. "Just that they're a great way to meet your favorite author. I also talked about books in general." "What about books?" he prodded. "That used bookstores are a wonderful option and your library of course--"

Silence. A look of pure hatred spread over the jolly man's face. "So what other than telling people to not give author's their proper royalties, do you talk about in your column?" The only thing I could think to say? "Uh-oh. I'm the asshole." He tried to revert to his friendly demeanor, but his agent kept shifting her eyes to the exit trying to get me to take the hint. I couldn't leave, though. I had four damn books to sign! And the man kept asking me all sorts of questions. My palms were sweating. I felt lightheaded. I had to get out.

Later, as I drank a glass of wine to wash down the feeling that I was for once in my life 'the douchebag', I read over what he wrote in each book. They are as follows:

Erin: "Diabetes is for lovers."
Katy: "I'm so angry you're not here."
Lindsay: "I'm glad you're alive."

And last but not least:

Me: "Your story touched my heart."

Monday, May 4, 2009

Bea Sting

I'm distraught. I'm totally down-and-out. I could use a shot of whiskey. Why? Because my beautiful Bea Arthur has left this world and gone back to the nature from hence she came. When I heard she passed away last week I was driving on the 10 freeway, and my utter shock and profound grief nearly caused an accident. Bea was part of my comedy trinity.

1.) Lucille Ball
2.) Bea Arthur
3.) Tina Fey

First Lucy, then Bea, and now it's down to Tina to hold it together. Have you gotten your annual checkup, Tina? Mammogram? Swine Flu vaccine? These three ladies make me want to be a better comedian. A better writer. A better loony dame.

I still watch "Golden Girls" and vehemently contend that it's one of the best shows ever written and performed. The ladies from "Sex and the City" owe it all to Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia. But Dorothy was always my favorite. She was me, only taller and with gray hair. Sarcastic, cunning, witty, cynical. What a lady. You'll be sorely missed, my dear. Every time I hear a bass toned cackle of laughter floating on the breeze, I'll know it's your spirit having a laugh at my expense.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Boldly Go to the New Star Trek Film Next Friday

As a child I was only allowed to watch several hours of television a week. This meant careful timing and organization on my part to make sure I got in all my favorite cartoons and, later, the scandalous "90210". However, there was a catch. I could watch anything my parents were watching, and it wouldn't count toward my hours. So there I sat through episode after episode of "Miami Vice" and "Star Trek." What began as mere curiosity and a borderline obsessive need for entertainment, whatever the cost, (I was an only child) turned into a love affair with Sonny Crockett and Mr. Spock.

My favorite, above all, was Star Trek. The camp. The sexuality. The do-gooder, futuristic Peace Corps mentality of the Academy. The bold wardrobe choices. It was a nearly perfect world where race wasn't an issue and women fired phasers. My mom even had a Trekkie friend who would get us free tickets to the conventions, where we would watch in amazement as perfectly normal people let their freak flags fly. My inner freak wanted to jump up for joy, but I didn't dare became one of them: just a starship voyeur. That said, somewhere deep in a box in my garage is a collection of Star Trek trading cards, a stack of autographed headshots of the stars (both original and Next Generation) and a faux, gold USS Enterprise charm necklace...

With this history of "seeking out new life and new civilizations," you can image my delight when my roommate scored me a seat to a Family & Friends screening of the new Star Trek - a prequel look into where it all began. I don't want to give anything away, but I do want to encourage both fans and Star Trek virgins alike to boldly get thee to a theater next Friday and take a journey into the farthest reaches of our galaxy. It may not be the best sci-fi movie ever made, but the action is good, the script funny and often poignant, the special effects dork worthy and the story one hell of a fun ride. And for all of you who fell asleep in the modern film version of "Miami Vice," as I did, this more than makes up for the disappointment.

So live long and prosper and don't forget to sneak in a bag of popcorn instead of paying full price at the concession stand. If I was a Starfleet alien, I'd be a Frugalian.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ahh, irony...

Just a quick anecdote about an incident that occurred on the set of the Carson Daily show the other day. When lining up to get paid I noticed a young man standing behind the fence to the studio lot yelling at one of our audience wranglers. Turns out said gentleman was kicked out because he was caught taping the show on his cell phone, and was now demanding to be paid. I listened for nearly ten minutes as he swore up and down that he wasn't taping the show and that he was only trying to turn off his cell phone as to not distract Mr. Daily.

While listening to him beg and plead his innocence, I suddenly felt a tap on my shoulder. The guy waiting in line behind me started laughing and turned my attention to the angry man's shirt. I swear to you that the following is true. Written on this dude's shirt - the same man who was currently insisting on his honorable word - was: "I'm probably lying." No joke. Pure irony. If only all of us would wear something so blantant as a warning to others. Here are a few I've come up with that would have really helped me in the past had certain people warned me.

1.) I have a girlfriend.
2.) I'm a Scientologist.
3.) I'll never change.
4.) Don't sit next to me on the plane: I have gas.
5.) I'm manic and have stopped taking medication.
6.) I'm going to use your deod0rant and make-up as soon as you leave for class.
7.) I'll talk behind your back.
8.) I don't like cats.
9.) I used to be a professional juggler.
10.) I snore.
11.) I'm going to let you wash my dirty Calvins for 3 years, and then break your heart.

Anyone else have any they wish people would wear?

P.S. If you're a fan of lists, check out my friend Kim's new blog dedicated to all things numbered and bulleted.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Winter Time and the Speakin's Easy

This past Saturday night, some girlfriends and I went to a speakeasy downtown in the back room of Cole's French Dip. At this particular secret drinking chamber, the bartender, clad in 1930s apparel, greets you at the door and ushers you to the bar or table where you order from a menu of mad scientist type concoctions, all featuring one single giant ice cube and pretentious, yet wonderful, ingredients such as rose water and absynth. There's also an old-fashioned piano that would normally have someone keying it if it weren't for the fact that it was broken.

I only bring this special occasion up because it got me thinking about the allure of secret back rooms. Every since I was a little girl I've always wondered 'what goes on in there?' It started with the closets in my teachers' classrooms. You know the one: the tiny room she would disappear to and then bring confiscated toys or aging textbooks out of. It was truly fascinating. So fascinating that I spent a lot of time in my own closet at home, building forts, rearranging my shelves of My Little Ponies and making secret pacts with friends out of my parents' ear reach.

Now I've never been to a strip club except in Vegas - the Disneyland version of sin, so it doesn't count - but as my male friends will tell me, the back room has a great deal of attraction in these type of establishments as well. Casinos, bars, nightclubs, banks, designer clothing stores, wineries, uppity restaurants, sneaker shops... they all have a secret back room or two that we'd love to get into. But why exactly? Why does VIP hold any appeal? Why does the fact that something is 'secret' and exclusive make it so intriguing? It's true, there's some back rooms you hope to avoid, like the judge's chambers or the back room at the vets or HIV clinic. But generally speaking, we love a good secret. And once it's no longer exclusive or it's too popular we brush it aside like stale hamburger meat. Ick, gross, don't want to go there.

I'm not suggesting we do away with these places. Like I said, my fascination with them began in childhood, but I would like to hear your opinions on the motivation behind their existence and subsequent cultural obsession. What's the psychology there? Is it healthy? Or do these places represent a darker side of ourselves that we'd do best to avoid? I can't wait to hear your feedback. Until then, I'm going to try to find someone to get me into Magic Castle once and for all, damnit!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Beware of Dog... Really???!!!

Here's the thing, I simply don't trust people who post 'Beware of Dog' signs. Take my neighbor across the street. You know what his sign said to me before I even caught a glimpse of him? Macho guy, doesn't respect women, drinks cheap beer and probably has tattoos. Stereotyping? Nope. Dead on. I won't get into it, but let's just say there's a small battle going on between my roommate and his over-sized pick-up truck that he consistently parks in front of our house even when his own curb is free and clear. Not only that, but he parks four feet behind every car instead of pulling up to allow another vehicle to park. Besides, I think if you have to warn people that your dog is a dick, then you probably are one too. Oh, and I caught him carrying home a 12 pack of Natty Ice - tattoos visibly present - so once again, ladies and gentlemen of the court, I've proven my case.

If I had my way, I'd swap out all the 'Beware of Dog' signs of the world with one of the following, all of which can apply to men who put up these signs (honestly, I highly doubt women thinks, 'oh you know what this gate needs?... a giant police sketch of a snarling dog!'):

1.) Beware of Ego
2.) Beware of Machismo
3.) Beware of my Enormous Beer Belly
4.) Beware of Domestic Abuse
5.) Beware of Noxious Gas
6.) Beware of Small Phallus

There you go! Now we're really being honest. It's not your dog we should be aware of, but you. Nope, I simply don't trust people with 'Beware of Dog' signs. 'Beware of Cat' signs... now there's someone I can drink a glass of sherry with.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Introducing Your New LA Frugal Living Examiner...

Never one to hold back my warped views of the world, I now have the pleasure of introducing my new frugal way of life to a larger audience. Please check me out at where I am the new LA Frugal Living Examiner (under Home & Living, Los Angeles) to keep up with my journey into the land of 'living in my means'. As for this blog, it's back to my blackhearted discussions of love, friendship, fun and adventure. So for more frugal tips, advice and thoughtful reflections go to Thanks, everyone! And stay cheap...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Frugal Thought #4: Just Say No

Ever since I went freelance my motto has been 'Yes!' Yes to travel. Yes to adventure. Yes to fun. Yes to life. But being frugal and saving money is not about 'yes': it's about 'no'. And what an ugly word that can be...'no'. It can mean no leisurely Sunday brunches with friends, no weekend getaways, no dinner and dancing, no overpriced movies, no round trip plane tickets to see my boyfriend in Nashville, no cocktails that don't come from the well... no damn fun.

Grocery shopping has become just about the essentials. I can't even remember the last time I allowed myself to splurge on sparkling water or vegan cookies at Trader Joe's. Going out has become an anxiety inducing trauma as I become the annoying 'poor' friend who brings everyone down and reminds them what life was like in college. So what do I do instead? Workout. Read. Listen to music. Write. Watch Oprah. All great activities, but all a bit lonely.

Perhaps I need to find some poor starving artists like myself who live cheap and free and happy and take up with them. Plant some organic carrots, learn how to sew, travel the Renaissance Fair circuit selling homemade jewelry, play my banjo on the street corner, sell oranges by the freeway, turn in bottles and cans for cash or wrangle up some nude modeling gigs at an art school for the blind.

For now, though, it looks likes I'm just going to have to embrace my new life of 'no'. Take it like a pro and stop complaining. It's just hard when your heart says 'yes' but your head insists on the logical. Perhaps someday in the near future I'll be able to turn that frown upside down and scream from the mountain tops, "Yes, yes, yes! Fill up my Whole Foods salad container until it brakes the scale, pass the bottle of Belvedere, take me through the Starbucks drive-thru, fork over that soy chorizo scramble with a side of $3 avocado slices!" Here's hoping that day comes sooner than later... because man am I hungry.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Frugal Thought #3: Blood, Sweat & Tears

I have a new obsession, and I'm afraid it's not very socially acceptable. So (deep breath) here goes... I'm obsessed with... blood. I can't stop myself. It all started with my frantic reading of all four Twilight novels until the wee hours in the morning and then led to my current addiction to HBO's True Blood (I'm only on episode 7, so please, no spoilers.) But apparently it's not the vampires I'm obsessed with but the hemoglobin itself because I did the unthinkable recently and signed up with the Red Cross to donate my own O positive life force.

With my new frugal lifestyle in mind, and the constant inner guilt from listening to the KCRW pledge drive with my broke hands tied, I decided what better way to give back when you're down and out then to give your time. LA Works has an amazing site ( where you can view a calendar of volunteer opportunities in LA over many months and instantly sign up. A huge array of organizations use them to recruit, so you could find yourself doing anything from building wheelchairs to feeding the homeless in the Mission District. (I recently signed up with a friend for the Tree People project this Saturday, but that's for another blog.)

Let's face it, though, some of us don't even have time and sweat to give to planting trees, so that leads to my bright idea to donate myself... my blood, that is. Look at the Red Cross website ( for a location near you. It only takes about 20 minutes of your day and you get some free cookies and juice afterward, which to a starving writer with a sweet tooth (or should I say, fang), is more than enough incentive. Plus, if you find yourself shedding a tear or two at the sight of a needle in your arm, the more you've given of yourself to the cause. Bravo, I say. Blood, sweat and tears trump money any day.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Frugal Thought #2: Sell It, Don't Smell It

You got an Ipod? An external hard drive? Then what the hell are you waiting for? Sell those outdated CDs and go digital. I recently downloaded every single CD I own (except my Christopher Guest autographed copy of the Spinal Tap soundtrack - over my dead body) and then backed it up with my new and fabulous La Cie hard drive (
That's the link to their site, but I recommend buying it cheaper on Amazon (thanks for the tip, roomie!). Now my Ipod is synced and ready to go, and I don't have to shuffle 300 CDs around every time I move. So step 2 of The Year of Frugal Thinking is to begin to streamline your life. Get rid of the clutter and make a few bucks while you're at it. Amoeba Records ( is a pretty cool place to sell if you don't mind having an uber hipster intensely looking over your collection as though he's judging your worthiness as a human being. So I have a Britney album alongside Zappa, so what! I can get In The Zone as much a I can dig an Amarillo Brillo, and frankly, I think that makes me a well-rounded individual so take that smug look off your face before I choke you with your own Emo checkered scarf. Anyway, I made about $80 there (opt for the cash over trade-in, remember we're trying to make money here, people) but took in nearly $200 at Second Spin ( where they couldn't care less if some of the CDs were a bit scratched or that I had a penchant for Salt n' Pepa, meditation music and Willie Nelson. And, not to mention, there wasn't a checkered scarf in sight. The girl was more like a character out of the movie "Airheads" ( If you're not familiar with this exceptional film, netflix it (along with "Empire Records" while you're at it.) It's amazing and a hell of a lot cheaper than a trip to the movie theater. Plus, when you're broke, you can always use a good laugh.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Year of Frugal Thinking

As a Blackheart, and black being a color consisting of all other colors, you would think green would be running through my veins. Not the case these days. Hard economic times have befallen your gypsy friend, so new rules of living (and thinking!) have to be set into place. For the next year I'm going to be delving into the world of the poor and imaginative, trying to find ways to stay afloat. If you'd like to come along for the ride and maybe learn a thing or two about the life of a starving artist, please continue to follow my blog. That's not to say that every entry will be financially focused. I'm no Suzy Orman; too much money talk makes me dizzy. I would like to start, however, with one venture I've recently turned to... the monotonous glee of paid audience work. Twice in past two weeks I've dragged my butt into Hollywood to wait in line outside a studio to be ushered into the audience seat at a talk show. There are plenty of shows in Los Angeles that have less audience members vying for tickets to taping than I have money in savings. If you log into Craigslist Los Angeles and check under TV & Film Jobs
you can usually find a posting for paid audience work. If you call the number to sign up, and it leads you to a voicemail recording, hang up and keep calling like when you tried to win NKOTB concert tickets over the radio in fifth grade. At least that's the comparison that works for me. The pay is minimal, but it's cash and given out directly after the show. And who knows, you might stumble upon a great show and end up enjoying yourself. Personally, I've really become an expert fake laugher, not to mention I am developing clap callouses on both palms which are essential for those back-to-back double show tapings. Oh, and if you are a writer like myself, you'll meet the most vibrant cast of characters seated to either side of you. You never know when inspiration may hit or when a friendly peacenik hippie mom trying to earn a few extra bucks after her costly tattoo removal might offer you some baby carrots and an assortment of organic roasted nuts (Thanks, again, Jane!).

So for more tips and anecdotes in this Year of Frugal Thinking stay tuned. And for god's sake don't try to sell your used underwear on Craigslist. It's just not worth it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Master Oogway

"The past is history. The future is a mystery. And today is a gift. That's why it's called, 'the present'."

Sage advice from a turtle. They must have a lot of time to think as they hide under their shells. This quote is from the film "Kung Fu Panda," and it struck me as one hell of a meaningful sucker punch to my intellect... and not just because it rhymes. Lately I'm been thinking a lot about the past and future. The article I published recently deals with a time forgotten, and while I had written it some years back, seeing it online and having others read it, really threw me back into that head space for a spell. And then, ah, the future - something that's been plaguing me since the ball dropped on 2008. All the questioning, all the worrying, all the anxiety of what's to come has had me in a in a perpetual state of nausea. As my time in Los Angeles, writing and struggling and dating and hobnobbing, comes to a pinnacle four year anniversary (there goes that damn past, again, rearing it's ugly head), I've been left with a growing pain in my gut telling me I haven't done nearly enough. I mean, I haven't even eaten at The Ivy yet, for god's sake, not to mention sold a feature. So this wise old turtle couldn't have come into my life at a better time. For now, I just have to focus on the present - the gift that keeps on giving, day after day after day - and leave all that stress for some executive trying to get distribution for his feature over lunch at The Ivy.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Published, Baby!

I have a short story that I wrote several years ago being published today on the online literary magazine Flask and Pen. Check it out!