Monday, October 31, 2005

Back to the Writing Board

The nice thing about having a play in production is that it's a good and (get this) legitimate excuse for the only thing that most writer's are even better at than writing: Procrastination.

"Hey, I would work on that script/play/novel, but I'm just swamped with my actual living and breathing play right now." And unlike any other time in your artistic life, no one (including yourself) can really argue with this, because it's for the most part true.

So you get used to not writing, because you're insulated from the guilt and the mood swings and all the other weird symptoms of writing withdrawal by a lovely-if-super-stressful cloud of production haze.

If you're particularly good at procrastination -- and most writers are, you can even make that cloud last for like a week after the play. You need to "rest." You "feel so drained." You "need a vacation to recover." You've got "end of production blues."

Well, I had a good "it's over" cry on Monday as I drove into work. Went to bed before 10pm on Tuesday and Wednesday. Met my boyfriend in Vegas for buffets, window shopping, and Broadway shows that now live in Sin City this weekend -- more on that coming later.

And now . . .

It's officially been a week.

And I'm officially out of legitimate excuses not to write.

And that depressing feeling of uselessness is beginning to edge up on me.

And I'm officially in a bad mood, which is only compounded by back-to-work blues.

So I guess I officially need to start writing again.

Luckily for me, last winter my house-sitting client and fellow blogger, Cybele May, told me about National Novel Writing Month, an annual, international effort that takes place every November, during which participants are challenged to write a novel of 50,000 words or more in 30 days.

Last winter, I promptly stole the idea in order to create the Dirty Thirty -- a similar initiative for screenplays and plays that Hei Ren Productions launched last January.

And now I plan to give back to that inspirational effort by actually penning the novel I've been threatening to write for almost two years now.

Also, I'm doing it for you, dear readers, because I knew you would miss my constant references to Grown-Ups on the Playground, as much as I would miss making them. Right? I said, right . . . ?

Anyway, I'm actually excited to get back to my novel roots. Though, the last time I finished a novel, I was an aggressively unpopular high schooler with a short natural and a love of Neil Gaiman's Sandman, vampires, and acid-wash jeans. Now I can only claim the Sandman love . . . okay, and the vampires, but please don't tell anyone that.

Today, I feel like that moment in one of those cheesy films right before the main characters decide to embark on a project that will Solve All Their Problems. But I'm a little concerned, because I suspect that writing a novel will involve more effort than a "get to work" montage set to upbeat music might lead one to believe.

Dudes, wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Oh HapPi Day!

Thanks to my friend Sallie Patrick for sending along this good news.

Life of Pi, which my team and work mate, Kammi Kazi, loaned me to read, is a wonderful adventure/epic, and I couldn't be happier that one of my favorite directors is attached. Yea!!!

Anyway, here's the item:

Jeunet gets piece of 'Pi'

Helmer writing script with Laurant

By MICHAEL FLEMING <;peopleID=1231>

Jean-Pierre Jeunet is set to direct Fox 2000's adaptation of the Man Booker Prize-winning Yann Martel novel "Life of Pi."

Jeunet has begun writing the script with Guillaume Laurant, his collaborator on "Amelie" and "A Very Long Engagement."

Since Fox 2000 prexy Elizabeth Gabler acquired it for Gil Netter to produce, "Life of Pi" has been a priority for the studio. The difficulty has been meshing schedules with the right filmmaker.

Book tells of a 16-year-old boy's voyage from India to Canada, a trip that begins on a freighter carrying animals his father is transporting from the zoo. The ship sinks and the boy is the sole human survivor, sharing a lifeboat with a hyena, an injured zebra and a hungry tiger.

Book was a global publishing phenomenon, and M. Night Shyamalan was given the assignment to helm the adaptation early on, only to exit because he wanted to make "Lady in the Water" first and the studio didn't want to wait. Conversations with Alfonso Cuaron followed, but he opted to direct "Children of Men."

All the while, Jeunet's ICM agent Robert Newman kept tabs on the book for Jeunet, who loved the story but hadn't been available.

Jeunet was a favorite of Fox toppers Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos from his Hollywood debut, "Alien: Resurrection," and Gabler said the timing finally worked.

"We bought the book three years ago, and so many filmmakers were passionate about it, but we felt a responsibility to the material and Yann Martel to wait for the right one at the right time," Gabler said. "We had the most amazing meeting with Jean-Pierre, one of those instances where he verbalized the things I had in my head, and every hope of what this movie could become.."

Jeunet and Laurant have just begun writing. Gabler is optimistic the film can begin production next summer, with the studio likely to shoot part of it in India.

Jeunet already has been shown the Fox studio in Baja that houses the giant tank used in "Titanic," and Gabler said it was a strong possibility to host most of the shoot.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Frickin NYT Crossword

Current mood: angry

Warning: Lost First Season spoilers to follow.

So I'm settling in for an uber-exciting post-play night of the Sunday crossword puzzle and Lost, and . . . I can't find the damn puzzle.

I look in the Style section, the Arts & Leisure section. Then I look through every section of the paper like twice. Boone dies on the episode of Lost I'm watching. Jack apparently is or was married. And I still can't find the dang puzzle.

Now I'm mad, because

a) Doing the crossword was going to be the highlight of my sad, sad Monday night.

b) This seems to happen all the time. I can't tell you how many times I've found myself having to do an epic search of the entire paper for the crossword. And I wonder why the NYT can't just post an announcement on the front page of the NYT that states where the goddamn puzzle is. I'm seriously upset about this as I type. And believe me, I have better things tp be  upset about -- like the fact that I have two really expensive writing -intensive degrees and I just constructed this gramatically-shit sentence.

c)Now I'm too upset to read the rest of paper, so if that was the NYT's intention in hiding the puzzle every week, then it's failed.

Today I feel like one of those uber-realistic French films where nothing happens for so long that small things begin to feel really epic.

Maybe I'll move to Paris and do a lot of regular things while wearing a brightly colored scarf. Ooh-la-la.

Currently watching:
Lost - The Complete First Season
Release date: By 06 September, 2005

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Two Outta Three Ain't Bad - Grown-Ups Closing Weekend

So yesterday, Baxter the kitten, peed on my skirt while I was in the shower. And because I've fallen into the habit of taking my allergy medicine at work, I didn't realize this (read smell this) until the Flonase spray set in.

Apparently, my computer's on the blink. It keeps starting up to a blank screen, and it's probably not the logistics board, because I sent it in to Apple for that in the Summer of '04. And it's definitely not the backlight, which would be relatively easy to repair, because when I hold it up to the light I can't see my desktop. So it's . . . I'm not sure yet.

But I'm pissed, b/c though I'm a diehard Mac fan, this is the second major problem I've had with my Ibook in less than three years. Whereas the brick of an IBM thinkpad that I bought used from my best friend Monique, went through two owners and seven years without one problem.

And this after my less than three years old Ipod went the way of the wooly mammoth due to firewire problems in July.

Is it me, or is Apple making gadgets that are littler, quicker, cleverer, and breakier than ever before? Would seriously like to hear everybody's thoughts on this.

But check, check, check it out. My play Grown-Ups on the Playground, got an AWESOME "Recommended" review from the L.A. Weekly.

So since, this is closing weekend, you should definitely come see it if you haven't already.

And if you're looking for something to do after the show, consider having drinks at my fellow derby doll, Pocket Rocket's place: Bar 107. Seriously, it's the best bar in Los Angeles. And dude, I've been to a few bars...

That all said, here are the play FAQs:

How Do I Get Tickets?

Edgefest makes it so easy for you to buy tickets. You’ve actually got THREE options.

1) Buy Online at

2) Buy over the telephone by calling (310) 281-7920

3) Show up early and purchase tickets at the Edgefest Box Office.

When might I see the show?

October 21st,22nd, & 23rd ?*Show begins promptly at 5:15 pm

Where’s it at?

At zee fabulous Los Angeles Theatre Center, which is located at 514 S. Spring St in Downtown L.A.

How much?

$10/Friday $15/Saturday & Sunday

Awesome, can I bring a friend?

Grown-Ups is general seating (first come, first sit), so bring a friend along, even if you’ve already purchased your ticket online. But don’t bring the kids. This show is ADULTS ONLY (18+).

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Readdicted and if Feels So Good

As many of you know, I love to talk about not having a television in the superior tone of one who has better things to do than watch TV. Upon meeting me for the first time, a television owner and watcher might believe that I am somehow better than s/he, because I’m not a slave to the so-called “idiot-box.”

But in reality, this a little like saying an alcoholic is better than you because he doesn’t drink alcohol. No sir, not having a television doesn’t make me a better person, it just makes me a TV addict who had to choose between television and a life.

You see I am a TV addict. I know this, because whenever I am confronted with an actual TV on a house-sitting gig, much like an addict falling off the wagon and going on a bender, I lose days. Last winter I housesat for ten days in the hills of Silverlake. My cell didn’t get reception up there. A storm knocked out the wireless internet. The plan was that I would reclude like Salinger and write like Sylvester Stallone, knocking out a screenplay in ten days.

However, the people I was house-sitting for did have a television, and even worse, they had TIVO.

I don’t remember much – it’s still kind of hazy. But ten days later when I walked out of that house, I had a new appreciation for (in no particular order) Lost, Desperate Housewives, Veronica Mars, music videos, every VH-1 show there ever was, including Best Week Ever, and most addictive of all, Diary of Affair (a Style Channel show that dissects an extramarital affair in the same eerie re-enactment style of Unsolved Mysteries – it ran in marathon on Christmas Day).

And I had written five pages of my screenplay – okay four – okay three and a half -- but they were three-and-a-half very solid pages. People still compliment me on the opening of that screenplay . . .

I think this is when I realized I’m not a well-rounded intellectual who has thrown away her TV. I am an alcoholic who has poured all her bottles down the sink – but is in dear danger every time she passes by a bar.

So, I did what any self-respecting TV addict should do.

I re-subscribed to Netflix.

Or as like to call it Meth(as in adone)flix.

I now watch all my TV as God intended it: a year late and all in a row. While my other friend suffer through the suspense of Lost from week to week, I’m watching it in a leisurely fashion on my lunch hour every day. And because the dang thing’s only about 40 minutes long, I can watch the first fifteen minutes of the next episode before I go back to my desk – therefore diffusing the constant cliff-hanger angst most real-time Lost watchers like stay in.

And this also solves other problems for me. I can’t read Entertainment Weekly, because it’ll ruin the latest twist in the Nip/Tuck storyline for me. And when they reveal that Matt is actually Michael Jackson’s – not Christian’s -- lovechild, I want to be there to see it firsthand. This means I also can’t read or watch entertainment news, because then I’ll know how that whole first season Veronica Mars murder-mystery got resolved.

And heaven forbid, I stay in on a Friday night. How about if the DJ, who lives below me and never leaves the house until after 10pm, blasts the Sci-Fi channel too loud as he does every other day of the week – then I’ll know how the human race is faring on Battlestar Galatica.

And no way am I going to waste work hours around the water cooler. The married soccer moms that make up most of my office live for Desperate Housewives.

So, Methflix has actually made me a better person. Paying this service 20 bucks a month means I don’t watch live TV (promos for next week’s episode of whatever could be anywhere), don’t spend money on magazine subscriptions (every single one of them are timebombs of potential show-spoiler celeb interviews and items), don’t waste time gossiping at work. This also means I have time to write, be super social, skate and cause general mayhem. Best of all, I still get to watch a lot of good TV, without the guilt of wasting precious primetime hours on America’s Next Top Model. And because I play all my DVDs on my laptop, I can even watch TV while I cook, clean, and surf the internet. Awesome.

Today, I apparently don’t feel like a movie.

Maybe I’ll move to Cornish, New Hampshire and live next door to Salinger. He's a huge television watcher, too, according to Sarah Morrill's online biography:

It might depress you to know that Salinger has always been an avid TV watcher. Gilligan's Island, Leave it to Beaver, Peyton Place, Dynasty, and obviously, Mr. Merlin. His favorite was and maybe still is The Andy Griffith Show. He watches TV while eating dinner off of a folding metal TV tray. There's now a satellite dish on his house which you can see from the public road at the foot of his driveway.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Mo Shameless Promo

Three Reasons why you for super-sure need to come out to Grown-Ups on the Playground this weekend:

1. We got an awesome review in Backstage West.
2. On Friday, the LA Weekly is coming out, so in order to ensure the reviewer has some company, we’re offering 2 for 1 tickets for Friday only. You can take advantage of this offer, by calling or showing up at the box office and using the promotional code “DINA.” Box office info below.
3. It’s an “consistently enjoyable,” naughty, naughty show about sex, drag-queens, and dodgeball, which you’re only going to be able to see for six more performances.

That all said, here are the FAQs:

How Do I Get Tickets?

Edgefest makes it so easy for you to buy tickets. You’ve actually got THREE options.

1) Buy Online at

2) Buy over the telephone by calling (310) 821-7920 - use promotional code “DINA” for 2 for 1 pricing.

3) Show up early and purchase tickets at the Edgefest Box Office – again use promotional code “DINA” for 2 for 1 pricing.

When might I see the show?

October 14th,15th,16th,21st,22nd, & 23rd ?*Show begins promptly at 5:15 pm

Where’s it at?

At zee fabulous Los Angeles Theatre Center, which is located at 514 S. Spring St in Downtown L.A.

How much?

$10/Friday $15/Saturday & Sunday

Awesome, can I bring a friend?

Grown-Ups is general seating (first come, first sit), so bring a friend along, even if you’ve already purchased your ticket online. But don’t bring the kids. This show is ADULTS ONLY (18 ).

Just a Teaspoon of Blogger

One of the most rewarding endeavors in life is telling people what they ought to do. Again and again and again until under the weight of your relentless badgering, they actually do it.

So I’m pretty damn happy in a totally crow-like way to announce my that my dear friend, Anika, has finally launched AnikaTweaka, the blog I’ve been telling her she should write forever.

I don’t think it’s going too far to say that I feel like Mary Poppins right now. But of course, I see myself wearing something much more fabulous and orange when I change the lives of all who know me forever.

Currently watching:
Me and You and Everyone We Know
Release date: By 11 October, 2005

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

All's Right with the World

As I’ve mentioned in my blog, and just about every conversation I have with friends, I have a boring job. A really, really boring job. Basically I work in contracts and do paperwork all day. But I love it for three reasons:

  • There’s no service involved. Though I work for a fully customer-based business, thanks to a clever little program called Siebel, if a customer needs an amendment to or copy of their contract, they call our Client Support Center or their Account Executive, who then makes an activity for me. So when I get to work, I open up the activities tab in my Siebel program, and voila, all the work I have to do is listed as automated task, which I then mark “Done” when I’m finished. This basically means 1) I never have to talk to anyone, and 2) my phone almost never rings – unless it’s a personal call, so that means 3) little to no human contact, unless I seek it out. If you’re not getting how lovely this is, chances are you have never worked in customer service.
  • There’s cake for everyone’s birthday, and most importantly:
  • I’m allowed to wear headphones.

  • Now, you would think the most important thing on this list would be number one – especially if you’ve ever heard any of the stories from my days as a Payroll Administrator, which I tend to tell in a holocaustian “never again” tone.

    But as anyone who has ever had a very boring job will attest, the most important reason is actually number three. Because if religion is the opiate of the masses, NPR and audiobooks are the opiate of the Master’s degree holders in low-paying office jobs.

    The following are a few of the things that have kept my brain firm despite the mushifying radiation that is a job that involves heavy paperwork.

    Audiobooks: Now I know these are controversial, and I could give you arguments for both reading and listening to books, but for this blog I’ll just give you three for listening:

    1)      By listening, you really read a novel. You can’t skim. I’m not one to directly quote novels, but because I hear every single word that the author has written, it sometimes feels like they have more impact on me, stay with me longer and linger on my mind even after three jack n’ cokes, which allows me to reference books I listen to a little easier at parties.

    2)      It’s like being a kid again. Some of my best memories are of my mother reading to me. And as strange as my third-grade teacher, Mr. Ditmar, was, I remember him fondly. He lived in a trailer, had a long axe-murderish beard, often showed us anti-communist black-and-white propaganda films on the old projector in the school basement, and sometimes he would show up to school in full clown make-up and suit (though never on Halloween – “Because Halloween is a devil’s holiday” he would explain gravely to his mostly-black class of Lutheran School third graders). I swear, I’m not making any of this up. Still, I have extremely fond memories of him reading the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to us, chapter by chapter during the last hour of each school day.

    3)      Audiobooks make dense doable. A dense book you can’t get through in real life becomes accessible and manageable on audiobook. In this age of mostly 300-page or less Booker, Nobel and Pulitzer prize winners, using the little free time and attention span I have on a hefty work of literature, just doesn’t happen for me. Here’s a list of very good books, that I would never know were very good if I hadn’t listened to them: Jeffrey Eugenides Middlesex, Salman Rushdie’s Ground Beneath Her Feet, Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, and Shay Youngblood’s Black Girl in Paris.

    That all said, here’s my list of Audiobooks worth listening to in no particular order:

    1.      Middlesex (Jeffrey Eugenides) – Amazing reader, amazing story.

    2.      Parable of the Talents(Octavia Butler) – This is a sequel, but you don’t have to read the first book to appreciate this one. Set in what feels like an uber-realistic future, in which the Christian right rules America, and debtors are enslaved to corporations. If you’ve ever worried about where this country is headed under our current administration, this one will make you worry more. A lot more.

    3.      Living Blood (Tananarive Due)  – This one’s got a terrible reader, so you know the story must have been amazing to make it onto this list. Black Southern gothic horror story. Anne Rice meets Stephen King in the Motherland. I was on the edge of my office chair.

    4.      Getting Mother’s Body (Suzan Lori Parks)  --  Okay, I know it’s cliché for a black female playwright to go on and on about another black female playwright, but hell, I’ve got to say this audiobook is just awesome. Suzan not only reads the thing, but also performs all the songs with her jazz musician husband – and that’s something you just can’t read.

    5.      The Dark Tower Series (Stephen King) – However I feel about King’s more commercial efforts, this series (7 really long books in all) reconvinced that the man is 1) brilliant and 2) can write like a muthafucka. The first one’s a little hard going, but once you get into the second one, you won’t be able to stop. Best ending of any multi-volume epic I have ever read.

    Honorable Mention:

    What You Owe Me (Bebe Moore Campbell).

    *A lot of these aren't available as audiobooks at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. But you can always order them from your local library.

    But in the morning, I often find it hard to wrap my head around plot and such, and these are the podcasts I most look forward to finding on my newly downloaded menu:

    1. Pacific Drift: The California, lite version of This American Life. I was a little in love with host Ben Adair, but then they started rebroadcasting the same first season episodes all summer, and keep on doing so though it’s seriously like Fall. Now I hate him for not giving me what I want, while an angry black woman with a smoky voice sings in the background, “It’s a thin line . . .”
    2. The Business: I hate the business-side of Hollywood. And I hate most of people associated with it. But somehow I love this show about L.A.’s main business and the people who keep it greasy. Though I’m still reeling over this quote from fellow C.M.U. alum and generally awesome person, Stephanie Palmer, who was on the show last week: “[Writers] have a better chance of winning the lottery, than selling a script to a studio.”  Yep. It’s painful, because it’s probably true.
    3. Martini Shot: Rob Thomas (of Veronica Mars fame – I think…) tells really neurotic and cynical stories about the TV business. And as a neurotic and cynical human being, I really appreciate this.
    4. Left, Right, and Center: I always tell people that I have no aggro when I’m doing roller derby regularly, because really, what do you have left after you smashed into a bunch of other chycks on a banked track? This show works in much the same way. Every Monday I get my political anger over everything that’s happened in the past week out by listening to this show.
    5. Music Exchange: “Eclectic” Nic Harcourt talks with Radio One Brit, Steve Lamett about what’s going on in the English music scene, and then they play one full song from a band that’s worth listening, too. Often, it’s stuff so obscure, the bands not even signed. But warning: Your going be upset when I-Tunes doesn’t have it.
    6. NPR’s Most Emailed Stories: I’ve noticed amongst my friends a tendency to quote almost exclusively from stories that appear on the New York Times “Most Emailed List.” And I wonder if they, like me only read stories from this list – and the movie reviews. So how happy was I, when NPR released this daily podcast, allowing me to do the same thing with public radio that I do with my favorite newspaper? Dude, I’m going to be ADD forever. Thanks NPR!
    7. Answer Bitch: The only non-public radio podcast on my list. This woman is so full of hate, but I have a soft spot in my heart for her, because she reminds me so very much of my good friend, Anika: So funny and so mean.
    8. The Treatment: This is like listening to the Actor’s Studio, but with random guests like David Cronenberg and Hugh Laurie and Todd Solondz that actually deserve this much love festing from former NYT film critic, Elvis Mitchell.
    9. The Score: I didn’t even know who former Olympic swimmer, Diane Nyad was until I started listening to this podcast, but man, does she make you love sports as much as she does during the four minutes of her podcast.

    Why oh why haven’t "This American Life" and "Car Talk" been released as podcasts?

    On another note, dudes, I, who never wins anything, won 4 VIP tickets to tonight’s Clippers game.

    And if that’s not enough, my new play, Grown-Ups on the Playground got a really good review in this week’s Backstage West (it’s not online yet, but keep on checking back). Anyway, Wenzel Jones called it “consistently enjoyable,” which isn’t sexy, but does the job. He also commended Kalimba Bennett, the brilliant star of “First Sex,” as “far more committed to staging a climax than Meg Ryan ever thought about being.” And he creamed all over the director, too. Dudes, if you haven't already, please come out and see the show. We're only running for two more weekends and it's so worth it. You can buy tickets online at

    Man, I feel like that episode of Jem and the Holograms where they sing “All’s Right With the World,” when brown-skinned and purple-haired Shana rejoins the band after a failed stint in the fashion world.

    Maybe, I’ll move to L.A. – oh wait, I’m already here. Well, I guess there’s no place like home.

    Monday, October 10, 2005

    She Blinded Me w/ Burlesque

    A few months ago, I saw something that changed my life forever, and gave me -- and even I am having a hard time believing this -- an even larger appreciation for Kenny Rogers "The Gambler" -- the song, not the terrible TV movie.

    That something was my beloved Tough Cookie captain, Suzy Snakeyes performing the burlesque version of "The Gambler."

    Tonight she's going on stage with a whole new act along with a bunch of other derby dolls and the Wau Wau Sisters. Believe me, if you're not there, you'll be beyond square, you'll be a fricking ring of sadness cuz you missed it.

    Here's the info:

    Hosted By: L.A. Derby Dolls
    When: Monday Oct 10, 2005
    at 9:00 PM
    Where: The Derby
    4500 Los Feliz Blvd (at Hillhurst)
    Los Angeles, CA 90027
    L.A. Derby Dolls

    Click Here To View Event

    Currently watching:
    Lost - The Complete First Season
    Release date: By 06 September, 2005