Monday, 27 September 2010

Monday's Quote - Andretti

"If you are fully in control, then you aren't going fast enough."

- Mario Andretti

I think this was suggested by the illustrious Stephen Long.

It showed up just when I needed it.  I've been feeling like I'm moving in 6 directions at once, not really focused properly and definitely not in charge of anything.

Still, I imagine I'll look up from this computer a week or two from now, see the light of day and think I've come a long way.  Sometimes you have to let go to hold on.

Have a killer week.  Don't let anyone mess with you.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Available October 2010 - Swimming Through Amber

Cover art by Alfie Ebojo
Coming soon.  From Zesty Publications.

: )

Friday, 24 September 2010

Monday, Interrupted

How does it get to be Friday?  Amidst running errands and having meetings and trying trying trying in very un-Yoda-like fashion to finish this manuscript, I don't know whither Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday, I only know the (working) weekend is upon me.

In a moment of weakness and frustration last night, I put on the cable where I'm staying and stumbled upon The Turning Point.  This is one of my FAVORITE 70's movies!  Ballet, Shirley MacLaine, Anne Bancroft, Misha -- what's not to love?  Melodrama at its finest with a healthy dose of the best dancers and choreographers of the time.  Even then I knew I'd be Anne Bancroft and not Shirley MacLaine.  Bancroft is stunning in this movie, and tiny - tinier than tiny Shirley MacLaine.  How she and not MacLaine ends up being the one with the dance solo is odd -- MacLaine is the dancer between them.  Seeing James Mitchell (Palmer Cortlandt to you AMC fans) playing a choreographer was amazing.  Mitchell was a dancer with ABT, on Broadway, worked with Agnes DeMille, he had a real legacy in that world.
I like this version of a poster!
I would love to make this film again - I'd love to make it into an opera!  It is so operatic, my friend Thomas and I were talking about it.  It's so good and so bad at the same time - so dated and so current.  Two strong women exploring the sacrifices they had to get to get some of what they wanted.  That dilemma hasn't changed.

Watching Baryshnikov in this, I was reminded of his gloriousness.  I've seen him dance live - both classical and with White Oak - but you forget.  His technique is so high, there is no technique.  He is the Bruce Lee of dance!  Roger Federer is the Baryshnikov of tennis!  You hold your breath when he leaps, forgetting you're alive while you are watching him.

Okay, with a little help from a friend, I may have solved two, but created one new problem with the manuscript.  Back to the real work at hand.

Click on this link for the dorky original trailer!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Yum 11 - SF/Bay Edition!


Yeah - some things are better left unblogged.  However, the food at this SF Burmese place is soooo ravishing, I'm gonna post the pix anyway.  I'm not going to tell you where it is.  How bout this -- if you backchannel me, I'll give you the restaurant details.

Tofu and Okra - sooo good
Salmon with Snap Peas - perfectly cooked
Shrimp with Pumpkin - OMG

We also got the tea leaf salad (they fly the leaves in from Burma) and the samosa soup.  

The cool pool at the Phoenix

It has come to pass that many of my friends have moved to the burbs.  For this reason, I found myself needing a place to stay on my recent trip to SF.  I've stayed in a good bnb in the Mission, but decided I wanted somewhere a little car-friendly --- and then decided to fly.  Oh well.  Based on googling and some time spent on Trip Advisor, I settled on the Phoenix Hotel.  All in all, a good choice.  Really reasonable and close to lots of things.  The rooms were bigger than expected, well-appointed and the staff was fab and friendly and just the right amount of arty.  The breakfast part was also better than expected.  I thought it'd be a lot noisier, but except for some folks rolling their carriers through at 1am on Saturday, it was pretty quiet overall.

The only drawback is its Tenderloin location.  While you get off at Civic Center, you walk through the Tenderloin to get to and from the hotel.  I thought by now gentrification would've reached the area, but it is stubbornly holding onto its grottiness.  Still, the location can't really be beat - it's pretty central, close to BART and busses and MUNI.  And walking distance to a lot of places you may want to go.  Like...Little Saigon:

At the entrance of "Little Saigon"
I sent my fave color palette in advance.  BATH TUB!!!!


Wow - like 30 kinds of drip coffee made on the spot for you at Philz!  A couple of blocks from the Phoenix (they also have East Bay and South Bay locations), this place is awesome and was recommended by...everyone.

The baked goods are phenomenal and there are these samosa like things that are delicious.  They really open at 6am - even on weekends.

Of the kinds I tried, Philharmonic was my favorite coffee.

There's a Peet's right across the street if you're feeling less adventurous.


I was accidentally lucky enough to catch the splendiforous Mike McGee in his fun-tastic one-person show!  Once, I watched Mike win a slam at the Nuyorican doing about a 15-minute set -- he thought there was a time limit, as there usually is in slam, but there wasn't.  Not only did he captivate the audience for the entire time, he got the highest score of the night.  He didn't even mean to win!  Mike's like that.  You can pretty much count on wanting to listen to him a long, long, time.  He's honest, entertaining, funny and poignant.  His show gave me insight on the strange lifestyle I've chosen, which he has been living for some time -- wandering for your art.

If you can catch him somewhere, you won't be sorry.  Plus he gives good hugs.  Plus plus he has a new awesome book.

Speaking of books....

The Savage Detectives, 1st US EditionGREEN APPLE BOOKS is one of the BEST bookstores in the Bay, which is saying a lot considering how many amazing bookstores there are in the Bay!  Green Apple has been through it, hung around it, and is still it.  We wandered in there while waiting for a table at the restaurant that is not to be named.  I didn't want to get anything, but you know, there were just too many amazing books on sale.  

My friend decided I needed to read a Roberto Bolano book.  He got it for me.  He was right.  I'm half-way through The Savage Detectives and wonder how I never like met all these characters wandering around the poetry sphere.  What a luscious writer!  


A new addition outside SF City Hall - a gargantuan and fascinating Buddha sculpture.  I wish I could have really stood right out in the street for maximum views!


Here's the seal of the great state of California: 
In it's shadow I saw more homeless than I've seen since New York in the 80's.  I didn't take their pictures - that seemed like a final disrespectful action.  However, all around the government buildings and the squares, there were homeless in bus shelters, in doorways, pushing carts.  It was horrific.  No, it was shameful.  We should be able to do better than this.  

Do I feel guilty carting my $3.00 drip coffee around while people sleep on the street?  I feel conundrummed.  That's not a word, but it's how I feel.  In a place where there is so much money how can it be that people need to sleep on the street?  I had a friend who told me how he ended up in San Francisco, homeless, waiting on a job interview.  He survived quite some time like that.  Eventually, the job interview came through.  He managed to clean himself up for it, and get the job.  He turned his life around.  Not everyone gets to, though.  Wandering like I do, like Mike McGee does, it makes you sensitive.  Sometimes there are holes between where you think you are going to stay and where you are actually going to stay.  No one is that far from the street, no matter what they think about themselves.  No, I don't feel guilty.  I just happened to have a place to stay on those nights.  Or friends to call.  No one's that far from the street in a country where we deem that an acceptable way for some people to try surviving. 

I gotta go finish a book.  Mine.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Monday's Quote - Henderson

“Listen to how people talk, and, more importantly, listen to yourself.  You must speak so your neighbor can hear you, understand you and maybe come to your defense in a time of trouble.”

- Annie Henderson 
(Maya Angelou’s grandmother)

This has been one of my favorite quotes for a long time.  As I attempt to become a better messenger, it holds its meaning fresh.  

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Monday's Quote - Chanel (On Thursday Due to Technical Difficulties)

Found this in the window of a vintage and antique clothing store with some really gorgeous items.  I liked the quote a lot.  The store was not filled to the brim with items, and as a result the things inside seemed more special - each one selected with a keen eye.  We often forget it's not how much you have, it's what you have.  It's not how many people you know, it's who you know.  It's not how much you create, it's what you create.

Quality, not quantity.

I just added this to my Netflix queue:

flies in the amber

What a week!  I'm not sure where it went or how it all went down or if I've made any progress at all.  I think I may have gone backwards.  Sometimes it be's like that.

So....yeah, no Monday quote.  I did that blog early.  It was a picture quote.  When I went to post it, the picture was mysteriously missing.  When I went to the site where I upload my pictures, it was down for maintenance.  I knew this, but then it was down for maintenance for about THREE DAYS!  When it came back up, the last set of pictures I uploaded were there, but not there.  They had file numbers and everything, but no images.  All of this was taking too long.  Re-uploading the last batch of pictures and video in the midst of trying to do so many other things just didn't seem like a good use of time.

In the meantime, the file for my mansucript, Swimming Through Amber, went bonkers on me.  It's absolutely true that one should not use MS Word 2004 to design and layout a book.  Unless one doesn't really have other programs and one doesn't know how to use those other programs even if one were to get them, and one doesn't know anybody willing to layout one's book.

For three days I wrestled some bug in the file that made it look like the pages were 8 1/2 x 11, even though I'd set all the margins and page sizes accurately.  When I printed a copy it came out reduced.  When I PDF'd it, same thing.  I'd had a similar problem before, printing smaller-sized documents.  I tried everything, reset everything, tried tricking word, thought about throwing the computer against the wall.

Nothing.  Mercury was finally moving forward and I was moving backward - away from the last final pushed printing deadline, away from reaching my goals, creating extra work and getting nowhere slowly.

I made Judy Holiday come over - she'd done her Slam Team's chapbook recently - and try to fix it.  She couldn't help.  I stared at the screen, tried everything again, reorganized templates, and almost gave up.

But how can I give up when I've got people working on book covers and logos?  I can't.

A last-ditch intense round of googling yesterday, and I happened upon a thread of a conversation on a group somewhere about shrinkage.  Um, document shrinkage while printing.  This was close to what I was looking for, so I read further.  Well, it turns out, there are some bugs in this version of Word, and I think I'd stumbled upon two of them, randomly working together to create havoc.

After checking my preferences for printing, which seemed in order, but did not really change the problem, I saw this other post about what happens when you are tracking changes.  Now, I thought about tracking changes, it's a smart thing to do when editing a manuscript this size, but I also find it a bit of a pain and unwieldy.  I double-checked the setting, but then realized that I had a comment in the document.  Comments are in some ways, related to tracking changes.

I went to the file, and clicked the close button on the comment box.  In a flash, the entire document reset itself to the proper page size.  Just like that.

Persistence is a good thing.  It feels stupid sometimes, but I remember the Einstein quote about staying with a problem longer.  Routine is a good thing, too.  I missed blogging this past week, and while sometimes I think it takes a lot of time, it also gives me a frame for my week, and I think makes me more efficient.  And while I am absolutely in production mode on just about everything right now, attempting to juggle a million little pieces, if I don't write, my brain doesn't work right.

Just today, in taking the laundry, I put in four loads.  I went back to put them in the dryer and realized I'd started only 3 of the machines.  I'd forgotten some key items I meant to wash, and had left the detergent sitting there.

I knew I needed to blog.  No pictures.  No great ideas.  Just words.  And hopefully no more bugs.

Time to get the laundry.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Yum 10 - Moo, Millennium General Assembly, Ray Bradbury 90th Birthday


My awesome new Moo mini-cards!
They came!  I waited and then they came!  My new mini-cards from the amazing!  There's a lot of them - I had trouble choosing, but I like each and every one so much, I don't really want to give them away.  That's kind of a problem.

You can choose from their designs (I did), or upload your own artwork.

Sometimes I just spread them out and look at them.  Yum.

RESERVED FOR BETH M. - Be Still, My Battered Heart - bracelet - antique vintage assemblage

Through some cool friends of mine (yup - I got friends so cool they're like ice pops on a hot day) Jane Getter and Adam Holzman, I met Mai - who runs the Millennium General Assembly.  Sounds like a division of the U.N., but actually is a jewelry business.  Mai finds antique and vintage pieces and puts them together to create unique necklaces, bracelets and other artifacts.

At first, I was completely taken by a charming bracelet -- one which was named "Be Still, My Battered Heart."  Mai does not so much make pieces of jewelry as she assembles stories.  They are little poems of metal.

RESERVED FOR BETH M. - Be Still, My Battered Heart - bracelet - antique vintage assemblageI'd always wanted a charm bracelet and never had one.  I found this one super fun, dangly and irresistable.  It put itself on me and did not want to come off.  I went to dinner at a friend's last week and I was wearing it.  Her 7 year-old daughter was carefully looking at the bracelet.  She was looking at the heart and the key, and she asked me what they meant.  I said, "I guess that's the key to my heart."  She said, in her 7 year-old wisdom, "But where's the lock?"

(Since then, I've seen about ten necklaces featuring antique and vintage locks.  So strange.)

Once I had the bracelet on, this necklace started making eyes at me.  My grandfather was an Elk.  I never knew what they did, but he was forever going to the Elk's Club.  I guess I just wanted to be in the club.  This one feels really good on.

RESERVED FOR BETH M. Beautiful Proud Old Elk ... from Detroit - necklace - antique assemblage

You can find Millennium Assembly on Etsy and browse through yourself!


My friend Alfie - you all know Alfie by now, right? - invited me to a screening of Farenheit 451.  Great - I thought - I've never seen it.  It has Oskar Werner.  It's 60's Sci Fi.  Directed by Francois Truffaut!  Cool!

What I didn't know was that it was part of the Ray Bradbury Tribute Week in LA for his 90th Birthday.  And that Hugh Hefner would be there with Ray Bradbury!!!

It was kind of an amazing experience.  To hear Ray Bradbury talk about his work and to hear Hugh Hefner talk about the timeliness of serializing Farenheit 451 during the McCarthy era was great.  Hefner talked about books as an important part of our lineage, connecting us to the past, "If you don't know who you were before, you don't know who you are."

Raybradbury_portraitSay what you want, but Hefner is one of my idols.  Not many people can start from nothing and create an entire world exactly as they want it.  Not many are skillful at mixing high and low-brow culture and selling it to the world.  Not many people get to wear a bathrobe to work and not have anybody blink.

Bradbury, who looked old and frail, talked about writing every morning, and has a new book coming out in the spring.  "The great thing about writing," he said, "is that you should not know what you are doing but when you are done it explodes before you."  Clearly, the act of writing and that moment of discovery has not gotten old for him.

I didn't realize what an amazingly prolific writer he was, until the presentation before the event ran what felt like hundreds of covers and titles of stories and novels.

How cool is Oskar Werner?
The movie was both completely current and dated - Bradbury mentioned that there is a new version kicking around, and expressed that the only thing he didn't like about this one was Julie Christie playing dual roles.  The production design and costumes are impeccable.  Werner is really fantastic.  You don't think he'll open up and you don't think you'll like him, but he does, and you do.  The movie drags in parts, certainly, but well, I think that about everything, and we hadn't eaten dinner!

The end of the movie was truly moving for me - at the risk of dropping spoilers - the idea of a self-selected group of guardians maintaining and oral tradition of great literature was close to my heart.  It's the idea of the goat-singer or the Homeric poet, or any of the folks doing spoken word today.  Fulfilling your role in society by becoming the container of a specific work of art is quite an astonishing evolution. (And, no, I hadn't read the book!)

(And yeah - I know I'm behind, but there's just too much amazing goodness going on!)

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

some mushrooms grow mid-wilshire

Walking to the bus, past my favorite little park with pond, I spotted these:

Mushrooms.  Growing at the foot of a palm tree.  In arid L.A.  Aren't mushrooms supposed to grow in loamy forests, in dark corners, in Middle Earth?

Maybe it's the tar.  But there they were.  Mushrooms.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Yum 9 - The American, Rain Machine, Bloom

I’ve been soooo busy enjoying things lately (and working on getting my manuscript into book-ready shape, and planning and plotting lots of new things to come), I haven’t really been blogging.  There don’t seem to be enough hours in the day.

I don’t want to leave any of the great things behind, though, so I’m going to attempt to refocus and catch up now that Labor Day is behind us and we are all about getting back to work and getting serious.

So many yummy things to report – I think I’ll start with now and work backwards…


The American: A Special Edition of A Very Private GentlemanI loved this movie.  In league with The Limey for me, The American is an elegant reimagining of classic noir movies.  It has more in common with European noir than with American noir, and in fact – with the exception of George Clooney – is a European film.  Corbijn has dedicated his life to beauty and it shows in the stunning shotmaking.  The layers of images and colours are so deep, I was grateful to have the extra time he takes to really look at each shot.  There is almost nothing out of place in this movie; it is fantastic filmmaking.  Oddly enough, I think it needs George Clooney to succeed – I doubt audiences would watch any other actor so intently for such a long period of time.  Add this to the list of films made possible by George Clooney’s vision and star power. 


Rain MachineOn a flight back from SF, this was on the Virgin playlist.  I listed to a track and then another and was like why haven’t I heard of Rain Machine????  Solo project of TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone this album is undeniably full of genius.  It is a game-changer.  It is the fulfillment of early 90’s BRC acts like Living Colour and Family Stand, the natural male extension of the confessional female singer-songwriter wave of the late 90’s, the best possible outcome of the fusion of genres,  an artist at the top of his game with a mastery of his tools, something to sing about, and the ability to see through to the next level. 

With shades of everything from the Dead to Bowie to Animal Collective to the new rise of American roots music this is a record steeped in popular music traditions pushing the boundaries of it and belonging singularly to one artist’s vision.   I wish digital downloads came with liner notes.  We needed somebody to put all this back together and I’m glad the person who did has a practically encyclopedic knowledge, unique perspective, and refined taste.


Maybe I’ve yummed Bloom before; I can’t remember.  But I went there again, with another friend, and tried new things and it was, as usual yummy.  We ate every scrap of food they brought us.  We even ordered the amazing aioli fries just cause we saw them on someone else’s table and we ate all of those in addition to our entrees and our salad.  The roasted beet and goat cheese salad was supreme.  It can be kind of an old standby, but this one was so delicious - maybe it was the citrus and hazelnuts and the mixture of golden and red beets.  

I finally ordered the purple potato coconut ravioli in lemongrass curry sauce.  What?  Yes.  You read that right.  Here’s a picture:


And yes - the insides of the ravioli are purple!

Monday's Quote on Tuesday (again) - Allen

You can do anything, but not everything.

Yeah, I need to be reminded of this every so often.  How about you?