Wednesday, November 30, 2005

New Pet Peeve #1

New Pet Peeve #1

If I hear one more radio announcer say, “Happy Whatever,” like having three whole holidays to possibly account for has made him weary with the weight of the PC world on his shoulders, I’m going to write a letter.

Not really. I never actually write letters, just threaten to. But I am writing this peeved blog, which is just as good, if not better—

Anyway, could everyone just say, “Happy Holidays,” and get on with your lives? Because when people say, “Happy Whatever,” it just makes me think that Americans are actually lazier and more self-involved than people throughout the world already give us credit for.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The White Elephant in the Room – Part 3

I woke up this morning, got in the shower, and suddenly the 10 minute play I’ve been trying to write for the 48 Hour White Elephant Festival was there. Sometimes it’s like that. One minute you don’t have a play, and the next you do.

I was listening to NPR on CH’s shower radio, and they were talking about how we grow the flu virus in hen’s eggs. And I thought to myself, “I wonder what the aliens will think of that?”

For whatever reason, I have always worried about what the aliens will think of us when they see and hear the stuff they find floating around in space about us – not to mention what they’ll think if we do finally manage to make ourselves extinct and they excavate the planet. I wonder if they’ll cluck their tongues over our short-sighted policies. If they’ll judge us for our rampant materialism. If they’ll label us the Neanderthal species.

Some people have their neighbors, the Jones. I have the aliens.

But as I recently told my friend, Kaboom, one of the best things about being a writer is there’s nothing such as a bad/crazy idea, thought, or experience. It’s all MATERIAL that will one day be harvested and honed into something, that hopefully you, as a writer, can feel makes the bad experience, guilt, or intense alien worry entirely worth it.

Tonight, I came home from work and wrote the whole thing from front to back with a quick rewrite. I even managed to get it in on time despite the allure of a new episode of “House,” which meant putting off my weekly every-character-other-than-House impression.

Just in case you’re wondering, here’s how it goes: Imagine me with a worried look on my face, asking an imaginary House every single dang week, “What if you’re wrong, House? Then the patient will die!”

Monday, November 28, 2005

The White Elephant in the Room – Part 2 – 0 pages

24 hours into the 48 Hours I have to write a play for the White Elephant Play Festival, I have:

1. Sent out an evite for the holiday party that CH and I are throwing at his house on December 9.
2. Watched all the Houses, Bones, and CSIs in CH’s Tivo backlog.
3. Told CH, his mother, my sister, my best friend, and whoever else has been unlucky enough to ask how I’m doing, that I have no idea what I’m going to write about for the 48 Hour Festival.
4. Finished reading Melissa Bank’s (of The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing fame) new novel, The Wonder Spot. It’s been six year’s since her debut novel sold like hotcakes and helped fuel the American Chick Lit craze). And it’s really good. It also makes me nostalgic for the late nineties, when chick lit used to be smart.
5. Gotten angry at Jennifer Weiner (of In Her Shoes fame) for not only never writing another novel as well-thought out as In Her Shoes, but also for the hours of my life I lost reading, Goodnight, Nobody her trite, exceedingly self-indulgent, thoroughly unexamined foray into murder-mystery, mom lit. My hate burns like an oil well.
6. Downloaded from I-Tunes
a. D4L “Laffy Taffy”
b. Three Six Mafia “Stay Fly”
c. Tegan & Sara“Where Does the Good Go?”
d. Beyonce & Slim Shady “Check on It”
e. Franz Ferdinand “Do You Want To”
f. 112 “U Already Know”
g. Roxy Music “Avalon”
h. Bruce Springteen “Born to Run”
7. Listened to 6’s a – f on repeat way more times than my audiologist would probably recommend.
8. Wondered if an ear doctor would really be called an audiologist.
9. Had an eye exam and bought new glasses. Yay, insurance!
10. Wrote exactly 0 words of the 10 minute play that’s due tomorrow at midnight.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The White Elephant in the Room – Part 1 – 0 pages

Tonight, I left CH and his mom for the night, so that I could go to the Unknown Theater, and draw a prop and actors for the White Elephant Plays, a 48-Hour play festival, which I was asked to participate in after Brett Webster, the Unknown Play Project's director, attended a performance of Grown-Ups on the Playground.

The way it was staged, six directors brought along six, anonymous wrapped Christmas presents. We writers then had to choose a present, which would then inspire our 10-minute holiday-themed play. And whosever present we chose would also be the director of our play.

This was supposed to be an off-the-cuff, crazy experiment of a project. So of course I had been thinking about what I was going to write about for days. And I pretty much had it all figured out.

Then I opened my present and found a wine glass. With a lipstick stain on the rim – in other words, a prop I could in no way work into the plot I had already written out in my head.

My heart sank.

Dude, I’m fucked.

Thanksgiving Gabble Gobble

I don’t really have that much clever stuff to say about my holiday. So here’s a bit of a rundown:

Drove with CH up to his grandma’s place in Santa Maria. She’s a really good cook and made a sweet potato marshmallow thingy that almost made up for me not having sweet potato pie this Thanksgiving. Almost. But not really. CH announced that he doesn’t really like sweet potatoes.

After much deliberation, I decided that I loved him anyway.

His grandmother brought out that these cool stereoscope glasses and these even cooler sepia-print stereoscope pictures of 50’s Germany. Now I had never heard of, much less seen stereoscope glasses before.

They looked kind of like this.

And when you look through the lens at the special stereoscope photos, you see a 3D picture of such integrity I felt I could walk into the ones without people in them. People end up coming out a little 2D in stereoscope. Like an early version of the green screen.

CH’s mom flew out from Texas, and she was really cool. A bit of a character with white hair (which I’ve become unaccustomed to on women over 60, after living in L.A. for three years.) and really sharp eyes.

Afterwards we drove back down to L.A. and lazed around like ticks on a Thanksgiving dog. She made clam chowder, which I’ve never eaten outside of a can at home. It was really, really good.

Last, but not least, we all went to see the Festival of Lights, which dazzled me. I felt like an 80’s kid again.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Is one of my favorite shows on television.

And I’ve tried and tried and tried not to mind, but after six years, I feel that I just have to say:

It seriously bothers me that one of the seemingly smartest, most liberal, most progressive shows on television

Has a writing and correspondent staff made up entirely of white men.

And Samantha Bee.

Who I believe is 10 times cleverer than Robert Corddry, yet gets about a tenth of the air time that he does.

Maybe less.

Organizations with more diverse of a staff than the Daily Show’s core team:

The current Republican Administration.

The 700 Club team.

The Jane Austen Society.

The Fox News Team

About every single organization of the Daily Show’s size and power in the United States of America.

Even their “special correspondent” Lewis Black …. Is White.

I mean, come on.

Even more disturbing, other liberal or progressive shows that have about the same amount of diversity as "The Daily Show."

1. Real Time with Bill Maher: no chycks, no people of color.
2. Left, Right, and Center: All dudes and Arianna Huffington. When Arianna (the progressive) goes on vacation, she's not substituted. In my eleven months of listening to the program, Bob Scheer (the Left) and Tony Blankley (the Right) have always been replaced by white men, when they have to take a vacation. And as far as I can tell, a person of color has never darkened their microphone.

That all said, super congratulations to The Daily Show’s newest contributor:

Nathan Corddry.

Yes, the little brother of Rob Corddry.

Way to go, Daily Show.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Giving up the Ghost – 8,500 words

I’m good at self-delusion. One might even call me The Master.

I mean, no one ever has. Called me The Master of Self-Delusion, that is. But I imagine if you asked a couple of my friends, they’d definitely say that I have my trifling moments.

But you see, what seems like “trifling” to others is really evidence of my huge facility for self-delusion.

I continuously overestimate myself.

I really believe I can get to Santa Monica from North Hollywood in thirty minutes. And I would've made it on time, if it hadn't been for that dang traffic.

I know that if I put something off until tomorrow, I’ll actually do it tomorrow.

Every night, when I lay down at 11pm, I honestly think that I will get up at 7am the next day and get to work on time. Half the time, I believe I’m going to get up earlier. Tomorrow might be the day that I work from 6am – 3pm. If my co-workers ask why I’m there so early, I’ll say, “Dunno. Just woke up early…”

Despite the current state of the NASA program, I continue to believe that I will take a space vacation to the moon or another planet some day.

When I sit down with my latest Netflix disk, I seriously figure that I can watch one episode of Battlestar Galatica, and get right back to writing.

Every time I start a novel or play or script, I believe this will be the one. The one that will flow out of my typing fingers in a matter of a mere 168 magic, angstless hours that fly by like happy music. The one in which I will have complete confidence. The one that will fly off my yet-to-be-acquired agent’s desk. The one that will pay for my B.A., my M.F.A., and my summer home in New Zealand -- though I suppose it would technically be a winter home. Because, you see, when it’s winter here it’s summer there. And I would probably go there during our winter, so that I could look at lush green landscapes and be at peace there, instead of completely Russian like I am during my winters here.

I believe in God.

I read my horoscope closely.

Still, it occurs to me that trying to write a quality novel in 30 days is insane.

So I officially give up, trying to meet the National Writing Month deadline today at 8,500 quality words.

Thank you all for reading. When I do finish my novel sometime in 2006, I’ll definitely let you know – I mean, unless, my agent secures a deal of such magnitude for my debut novel that I have to sign a contract, promising to keep the deal super hush-hush until it can be announced by my proud publishing house with a full spread ad in Publisher’s Weekly.

Yes, folks, The Master.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Beverly Hilton Dahling

This is actually a story from last weekend, when CH was still in town. It was Friday night, and CH was not out-of-town but across town working a charity gala for Big Brothers/Big Sisters at the Beverly Hilton.

Here’s a really deep and intrinsic fact I’ve discovered, since starting to date CH: Everybody needs lights.

No, dude, seriously: Everybody needs lights. If we destroy ourselves in a nuclear war and revert back to caveman status, it will be somebody’s job to provide the fire at caveman events.

Everybody. Needs. Lights.

Anyway, because the event was going to midnight, the entire lighting team got put up at the Beverly Hilton, so we talked about me coming round to the hotel for a little in-town mini-vacation.

But then we decided against it, because I was due down in Long Beach for a 5am track set-up for Jesse James’ (of West-Coast-Chopper-married-to-Sandra-Bullock fame) No Love Party, a charity event for which all the Derby Dolls who had actually attended practice in the last two months (i.e. not me) were skating.

So no Beverly Hilton.

But then on Friday night, CH called and said the hotel had overbooked, and since he was the last person in his team to get in, they ended up giving him the only room available – a Penthouse Suite.

“Wow,” I said. “Is it as nice as the Wynn?”

“It makes the Wynn look like your apartment,” he answered.

So I packed an overnight bag and went to the Beverly Hills Hilton.

First of all, it should be noted that I don’t have fancy-schmancy tastes. I don’t demand finery. I’m the kinda of gal if you try to hand her silk, she be like, “What’s wrong with cotton, fool?”

You see I like cotton. It breathes easier.

But even I have to admit the penthouse suite was kinda nice.

Here’s the list:

1. Not one but two toilets – one in a bathroom that had
a. Gold-plated fixtures
b. A television
c. Marble floors and
d. Travel-sized L’Occitane products
2. Not one but two large flat-screen TVs
a. One in the bedroom, which boasted one of the best beds I’ve even born witness to. Dude, it was like sleeping on a cloud.
b. And one in the living room, which had the deepest, most comfortable couch upon which I have ever lain. I felt like Bacchanalias – especially when I saw the room service menu.

I napped in the cloud until CH returned from his event. Then we ordered room service, which apparently happens often, because the bell guy looked fresh and alert and totally non-plussed about bringing us food at 12 in the morning.

Then we slept some more on the cloud, until my alarm went off at 3:30am.

I wasn’t happy about being up this early, but at least I had the bathroom to make up for it. As I got ready, I composed a languorous blog entry in my head. I noted that I was starting to sound more and more like a novelist every day, thinking deeper thoughts, taking more time with my words and literary actions.

I didn’t wake CH on my way out, deciding I would send him a text message around 10am. Something short and clever and precise.

I was very proud of myself for my romantic exit, until I realized, I had forgotten to get a parking pass for the garage. I called CH, apologizing profusely for waking him up. He told me to go to the check-out desk, and see if I couldn’t just charge it to the room.

It’s been a while since I stayed in a hotel, and had to get out under my own steam. I mean awhile. And apparently between 2000 and now, hotels started letting you charge everything under the sun to your room.

This had been the case in Vegas, but I had assumed this was one of those special Vegas-only dealies, like being able to smoke almost anywhere you dang well pleased.

I got my parking squared away with the desk clerk, who was also somehow completely lovely, even though it was 4:30 in the morning. They must take a course or something when they’re hired on at the Beverly Hilton.

As I walked to the car, I let the warm feeling of having had an exotic experience sweep over me. I now understand why Fred Astaire kept an apartment at the Waldorf Astoria. What a way to live.

And so what if the parking thing had set me back a few minutes? I still had a half an hour to get to Long Beach.

Then I realized that I had left my car keys in the room.

Unfortunately, the Penthouse suite at the Beverly Hilton is set off from the rest of the hotel. You don’t just have to have a hotel cardkey to get in your room, but you also need it to get into that particular section of the hotel.

This meant CH after not being able to find my keys (they had slipped underneath the cloud bed), had to get up, put on a hotel provided robe, come let me in to the suite portion of the hotel so I could get my keys. At 4:30 in the morning. After working a 10am – midnight gig.

I felt really, really bad.

“Why didn’t you take the key I gave you?” CH asked.

“Because I didn’t want you to get in trouble at checkout.”

CH stared at me.

Apparently, you don’t have to give your room keys back these days either.

I’ll remember that for the future.

Later that day, after I had helped put up the track and decided that yes, dangit, I wanted a power drill of my very own, and taken a nap in the back of my car, and made awkward, apologetic conversation with all the Derby Dolls I hadn’t seen in months, and called CH to apologize for waking him up twice; I realized that I had forgotten to send my clever text message. I gave myself a mental slap on the forehead for this, cuz it would’ve been good one. Would’ve gone sumthin like this:

Hey darlin’,
Thanks for the Hilton. Steal Everything.
Love, etc

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I got 35 problems.

And a bitch ain’t one.

A bitch is actually two – or three. But that’s a whole nother blog.

The nice thing about being aggressively alone, broke, and bored with a huge writing deadline on the horizon, is that it gives you plenty of time to focus on what’s really important – or as the Dalai Lama might say, “Time to reflect.”

Or as I might say, “Time to really drive yourself crazy.”

Somehow, I always manage to put a stupidly romantic spin on reclusion. I always imagine myself wearing a long hippie dress while sitting at my writing desk in front of a window with the afternoon sun, shining down on me. I’m in a country cabin. My hair looks perfect, my brow remains unfurrowed. I am at peace.

Mind you, it has never gone down like this. The few times I have managed long writing sessions, I definitely haven’t worn a dress – mainly because I tend not to shower when I’m really deep into the writing spirit, so a ratty T-shirt and old underwear are usually my writing uniform of choice. I add sweatpants and my Carnegie Mellon zip-up hoodie to the mix in the winter.

Lets not even talk about my hair, which just kind of sits tied up in a tenuous Medusa pile on top of my head, out of the way and without regard to fashion. It looks more like a hostage than a hairstyle.

Also, as I’ve mentioned before, writing isn’t exactly a peaceful activity.

I tend to think of it like this:

If I wasn’t a writer, I’d be a schizophrenic.

No really.

A lot of writing has to do with dealing with the words, stories, and people in your head without the use of psychotropic drugs.

If I’m really into a session, I speak along with my characters as I write, take on their voices and the voice of my inner-editor, “No, that dialogue won’t work,” and "It will sound better like this." and "Just tell me the truth!" and "I'm serious, don't fuck with me."

If you saw me on the street in this state, you’d give me change.

So since that’s me writing, I consider real life kind of lovely. It provides distractions, gives you people to talk to, and keeps you from having to focus too much on yourself.

However, I’ve been alone for four days now, and I’m starting to feel a little crazy and worried and anxious.

But you can only wallow in these kind of feelings for so long before it becomes neither romantic nor fun, so this morning, I wrote down every single problem I have from the really romantic ones (I work more than three hours a day) to the chronic ones (I like stay broke) to overarching theme ones (I’m undisciplined) to the itsy-bitsy ones (I need to make eye and dentist appointments)

And to my surprise I felt a lot better. I’ve always found the only way to get rid of a story that keeps running through your head is to write it down, and as it turns out, it’s pretty much the same thing with problems.

I mean they’re still problems, but now they’re down on paper. And there are only 35 of them – frankly, I thought there’d be a lot more. Anyway, now they’re less threatening and crystal clear. And best of all, now I can somehow see that they’re – no it couldn’t be, but it is – they’re actually . . . solveable.

So I made a vow to look at my problems every single day and do something that works towards solving them. And suddenly I’m back to being just a little (as opposed to completely) insane. Or as I like to call it, “Good ole me.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Pacific Recluse - 7,500 words

Okay, I didn't get as many pages done as a I wanted to yesterday, but I am starting to feel good about what I'm writing, and that's good.

Even better, after finally accepting that I would never hear from my absolute favorite public radio show, Pacific Drift again, I found a NEW EPISODE in my downloaded podcast. Luckily what I do is so incredibly boring it puts me in a only-slightly-lucid-coma-like state, or I would have had a heart attack.

The episode was themed around Fear, and it featured among many others:

1. A former Mexican Mafia member turned state's evidence.
2. A kid that has to walk home from school in South Central every day.

and closest to my heart:

3. A deeply neurotic, hypochondriac writer, who doesn't have insurance.

Brilliant, I say, brilliant! In fact It was so good, I almost forgave them for for abandoning me all Summer and frickin' Fall . Almost.

But it does kind of feel like getting back together with an ex that did you dirty. On one hand you're glad to finally have 'em back in your life. On the other hand, you're wondering what you're going to do if you get done dirty again.

Gurrrl, I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

My Salinger Impression - 6,500 words

CH is out of town again -- this time for the XBOX launch party in the desert.

Apparently, gamers are flying, driving, and being shipped in from all over the world to play new XBox for 30 hours straight. Even more surprisingly, there's actually a high demand to do this among people over 18, which is how old you have to be in order to get into this event.

I don't play video games due to an unfortunate decision on my mother's part. She had a choice between a RadioShack Tandy and an Atari or Nintendo, and she chose the Tandy "because it was more educational."

Needless to say, I suck at most video games today.

But I suppose it's for the best, since I don't really need anymore procrastination tools in my life.

Speaking of which, I've decided this is the week I'm going to turn this whole writing thing around. I was a little concerned at first, because I'm halfway through the month and have only written 6,500 out of 50,000 words but if I stick to a super-strict schedule of only sleeping, working, eating, and writing 2900 pages a day for the rest of month, I'll be fine...

Why are you laughing?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Vegas Baby! - Reading Instructions

Though totally separate travel blog entries, the Vegas chronicles read better if you start at part one.


Vegas Baby! - Part 5

The Big Gamble:

On my 21st birthday, my Aunts Mildred and Sara took me to what we in black St. Louis call “the boat.” This is strange, because there is in fact more than one floating casino boat on which you may gamble in St. Louis. It's also strange, because they took me to Harrah’s, which is not a boat, but a piece of legal trickery disguised as an island.

They gave me $40 with which to play. After about an hour at the slot machines, I hit big with a $100 win on a 25 cents bet, played for 20 more dollars, and went back to college with $80 tucked in my happy little pocket.

In other words, I’m not a real gambler.

In Las Vegas, CH introduced me to Pai Gow Poker at The Paris hotel’s casino. This game is awesome for people like me, because it’s pretty low risk, about $10-$50 a hand, depending on where and when you play, and the way it’s set up allows for you to sit at the table for a pretty long time before your conservative spending limit runs out.

Basically, your dealt seven cards, and you have make the best two hands you can, with one hand being made up of two cards, and the other being made up of five. If both your hands beat the dealer's hands, then you win. If only one of your hands beats the dealer's hand then you "pass," meaning you don't lose or win, just play again.

If you’re like me, and have never played poker, this is an awesome way to learn what’s what.

And the best bit is that if you’re not sure what the best two hands are, you can ask the dealer to advise you, and s/he'll actually give you good advice, because there is no house advantage (they take 5% to make up for this.)

At Paris, I got an amazing hand and ended up winning $150 on a $10 bet with a five dollar side bet. We played for about five more minutes and left about $135 richer than when we’d first come in.

But then after Avenue Q we lost it all at the Venetian on Pai Gow and roulette.

Ah well, as it's been said time and time again, the house always wins.

But at least we'll always have Paris.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Vegas Baby! - Part 4

The food:

Dude, I’ve gained about ten pounds over the last few months, and I blame Vegas for most of it.

If you, like me, don’t really gamble and don’t really shop, the eating is the best thing about Vegas -- behind the the orange hotel rooms at the Wynn.

Here are some particularly foodariffic moments:

1. For the first time in my entire life, I did not have to wait for a table at the Cheesecake Factory, mostly because the Cheesecake Factory at Caeser’s Palace is ginormous.

2. The Wynn’s Red 8 is the best pan-Asian food I’ve ever had, and I’ve been to almost every country on this place’s menu. If you go, try to the Spicy Indian Noodles. You’ll never be the same.

3. After seeing the Blue Man Group, we ate at a little Mexican restaurant on the faux canal at the Venetian. During the dinner the gondoliers, most of which sang opera as they pretended to paddle their engine-powered gondolas down the 150 meter canals. I think I can safely say, “Only in Las Vegas.”

4. The buffet at the Wynn is called “The Buffet,” and thus, CH and I treated it as such. We employed serious optimization strategies, which we rigorously planned beforehand. We resisted the temptation of the carbs (no pasta or rice or breaded meats), and created a tier system of attack.

First trip we went for the foods that were expensive or not easily prepared at home. This was the crab, lamb, boar, three-types-of-salmon, halibut trip. Then we went for all the lesser dishes – basically anything that didn’t involve pasta or rice. On the third trip we allowed ourselves rice in the form of all the sushi we could eat.

Then we immediately hit the dessert, so that we could pack it in before our stomachs realized that, wait a minute, we hadn’t saved room for dessert. It was a war so well-fought, I asked CH to take a picture halfway through my dessert plate. Stopping for a picture turned out to be a terrible mistake, though. Alas, my stomach finally caught up with my reality and the food below, sadly, never got eaten:

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Vegas Baby! - Part 3

The shows:

We booked tickets for two shows, which I’ve been wanting to see in the same way forever.

In college, I always meant to catch an off-off-Broadway Blue Man Group show in New York, but alas, never got around to it.

In grad school, I read and heard amazing things about the puppet musical, Avenue Q, which was supposed to be Sesame Street on acid. But alas, I didn’t catch it while it was on off-Broadway. And I didn’t catch it when it went to Broadway. So I was really happy when I heard about it’s controversial move to Las Vegas – instead of doing a nationwide tour, they went straight into the theater at the Wynn.

However, every time, we went anywhere near the outside parameter of the Wynn, we heard the same few phrases of Avenue Q’s title song: “We live on Avenue Q-uuuu-oooo! Your friends do, too! Here on Avenue Q-uuuu—oooo!” Just these few phrases over and over again. By the second day I was thinking puppetcide.

Luckily, Avenue Q turned out to be a lot better than the annoying loop playing outside the hotel. To my surprise, Q turned out to have a really strong book steeped in 20-something angst.

I’m steeped in 20-something angst, so of course, it had me at go.

Though there were a few problems, including a somewhat shoddily drawn main female character, who made such amazingly illogical decisions where the main male character was concerned it was embarrassingly obvious that

1. This character was a bit of a plot puppet (sadly, no pun intended), doing whatever the writer needed in order to move the story along in a certain direction.


2. The writer was a man.

But the entire beginning and most of the end was such a good time. Plus, Gary Coleman is a major character. So I eventually forgave the shoddy middle.

As for the Blue Man Group, I will say this to the deep, deep cynics out there. Despite their glitzy new home at the Venetian and their bigger and better effects, The Blue Man Group is not a tourist trap and in fact, remains one of the best examples of interactive theater and performance art that I have ever seen.

From the beginning to the end I felt I was in the presence of true art and it made me ashamed of what I do as an artist.

So yeah, I liked it okay.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Vegas Baby! - Part 2

The hotel:

The Wynn has a complex history. But in short, Steve Wynn, the guy who dreamed up the Bellagio and the Mirage got forced out in one of those dramatic corporate takeovers, and the Wynn’s his comeback.

So at least until something bigger and better comes along, that’s where all the cool kid conventions and tradeshows are going because it’s new. And the people that hired CH must’ve thought they were cool kids -- even though they’re a car company known for their practical compact cars -- because that’s where they put him up.

The Wynn’s whole dealy is luxurious exclusivity. So the stores are more upscale – no Gaps, no Starbucks, no nuthin’ you could actually find in your local mall. The light show is avant-garde, bordering on artsy. And it’s located away from the Strip, so that the regular public can’t sully it with its beady, plebian eyes.

Still, even with my socialist, anti-materialistic leanings, there was one hard fact that made it impossible for me not to love the Wynn:

The base color of this hotel’s entire design scheme is orange.

Yes, girl, orange.

For any of you who haven’t met me, my favorite color in the whole wide world is orange in a huge, huge way.

There were other perks, too:

1. Warhol flower prints on the hotel room walls.
2. A large plasma HD flat screen television in the bedroom that swung on a pivot so that you could watch television from where ever you are in the room.
3. A small flatscreen television in the bathroom.
4. A bathroom that was bigger than my studio apartment without the kitchen.

5. And this spectacular view:

Dude, it was like everything above the first floor was designed just for me.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Vegas Baby! - Part 1

As promised, here’s a big of a travel blog of my trip to Vegas.

The Reason:

My boyfriend (who will be referred to as CH from now on) got a six-day gig in Vegas, and decided it would be cool if I met him out there towards the end of the job, then we could stay on for the weekend.

I had never been to Vegas before, and was looking forward to it, because from all I had heard and seen, Vegas is a completely tacky and glittery thing. And I love tacky and glittery things. I think I may have been a bird in a past life.

The airport:

I was surprised to see that the airport in Vegas had slot machines. I was also surprised that you could smoke in many more places. The smell reminded me of St. Louis somehow – I had left for college before non-smoking laws caught on everywhere (except Vegas, apparently) in the late 90’s.

There were huge signs, advertising Vegas shows everywhere in the airport. Soon I would find out that everything is big in Vegas. It’s like Texas’s sluttier (yet smarter) little sister.

I got excited when I saw signs for Blue Man Group and Avenue Q – both shows that CH had gotten us tickets to see.

I wasn’t so excited to see signs for the upcoming Carrot Top show. CH would tell me later that they were bringing him in for the Midwest tourists. “They love him,” he informed me.

As much as I sometimes hate the big city, this fact made it abundantly clear why I left the Midwest at the age of 18.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Me, You, and Every Word I Count

I know I keep raving on and on about how much I love Me, You, and Everyone We Know, but I want to remind all the artists out there who read my blog, but for whatever reason still haven’t seen this movie: It’s out on DVD and totally worth watching.

Actually, I was watching it again last night, and got hit with a sudden wave of inadequacy, because right now, I most certainly am not like this movie.

That is, I don’t find art in every single thing I do. In fact, I’ve been feeling lately that I’m not even finding heart in anything I do.

Lately, an idea hits me, and I immediately think, “What markets would that be good for? Would I be able to sell that? Is it even worth my time and effort?"

And I wonder, when did I become so very stingy about my art? When did it become a chore as opposed to a medium of self-expression? And how do I get back to that time when I wrote about whatever interested me with total disregard for market?

The word count on my National Novel Writing Month novel is about 4,500 right now.

That’s about 25 pages. Double-spaced.

And I still have 45,500 words to go.

I’d be further along, except my main character is kicking my ass.

You see, I find the story of an ugly black teenager growing up in the South with a tragic crush on the most popular boy in school and a really sad obsession with Molly Ringwald movies vastly interesting.

But the main character wasn’t so sure. In fact, this weekend I swear to God, she sat up like a corpse in a scary movie and asked me:

“Who the hell will want to read this, Ernessa?"

"I don’t know. I mean . . . I'd want to read it.”

She stared at me. “Okay, you and who else? Because last time I checked, there was no African-American fiction like me anywhere."

And I was like, “Dude, I’m just trying to reach 50,000 words. Please shutup."

I mean anywhere. You are going to spend a whole month of your life (before rewrites), working on something no one but your friends will ever see. Again. Aren’t you over doing that yet?”

At this point, I’m like hyperventilating. But still, I’m trying to defend myself.

"Other people may like it, may read it. I mean you’ve got that universal ugly duckling thing going for you.'

“Yeah, and that would be cool if I were an actual universal ugly duckling. The completely nice victim of all the beautiful people’s cruelty. That’s what people want to see. I’m just exceedingly odd.”

“Yeah, well, the main character in Sheila Callaghan’s Crumble, which everybody loved, including me, was exceedingly odd.”

“I can’t even believe you just let them words come out your mouth. You know that bitch is white! Them folks can get away with anything. When’s the last time you saw an exceedingly odd black character?"


"And if you say Urkel I’m going to slap the taste out your mouth. You know I'm not talkin about caricatures.”

I hang my head. “Okay, never then.”

“That’s right never. So what are you doing?”

Jesus, I’d had some fights with my main characters, but I had never had one put forth such a persuasive and concise argument. I mean, she cut me in all my weak spots: race, career prospect – I can’t even bring myself to quote what she said about my writing ability in comparison to Alice Walker’s when I tried to cite The Color Purple.

Let’s just say I crawled into work this morning, deeply depressed and seriously bruised.

I reread what I had written so far and wondered how I could retool it for mass consumption, and got more depressed.

Then I listened to the “Books” NPR podcast, while white author after white author passionately extolled the virtues of their books -- many of which actually seemed to be written for reasons outside of market share.

A black female author was introduced at one point, and my heart sped up – but then it turned out to be a book about race, written from a fresh angle. She catalogued many of the white men she’s encountered good and bad. It seemed interesting and therapeutic -- for her -- but alas, not what I was looking for.

I sighed, and began composing a “Why I decided to give up on National Novel Writing Month” blog in my head, and decided to write it up during lunch after I returned my books to the library.

And as I drove to the library, I was just so over writing. I wanted it to be fun again, like when I was a teenager and wrote about whatever I wanted.

I asked myself, how can I get there? How can I get back there? I felt like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

Then it occurred to me: I could just keep on writing.

I mean, maybe my lost writing innocence is in this unpublishable wonder of a book somewhere. Maybe it’s hiding behind word 33,463. And wouldn’t that make it all worth it?

Then I heard Judy Garland say to Mickey Rooney, “That idea’s so crazy, it just might work.

Because in the end, I suspect part of being a true writer may be hearing a really good argument against a thing and writing it anyway.

Anyway dudes . . . I’ll keep you posted.

New Blogs on the Block

Dudes, I know, that's a terrible title. But it's Monday, and I've spent all my creative energy wrestling with my novel. I really couldn't come up with anything else.

But believe me when I say, these two bloggers deserve better:

Cybele May has an awesome candyblog, which I try not to read, because it always gives me terrible cravings for sweets I can't get without money and/or effort.

She's also a playwright and has a writing blog called fast fiction-- which is awesome, because she's actually tracking her word count for National Novel Writing Month in a clever, analytical way as opposed to the desperate, neurotic, she-could-jump-off-a-cliff-at-any-moment way to which I've committed -- see upcoming posts.

The other blogger is also a playwright: Sallie Patrick, who I've been wanting to see start a blog forlikeever.

Anyway, my wishes can be your desserts if you check out her blog, The Fish in the Percolator.

She'll tell you about how she named her blog, where to get a Wonka Golden Ticket, and all sorts of other random stuff.

Weirdly enough, she's yet to mention that like the song, she's actually long and tall. But maybe that's another blog...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

2006 Silver Bullets

Hey let me tell you, there’s nothing I enjoy more than a good attack. Give me time and an ear, and I’ll tell you exactly what’s wrong with just about anything you could name.

But lately I’ve noticed a trend:

CNN’s Anderson Cooper getting applause for finally doing his job and attacking the Bush administration for it’s terrible inaction during Hurricane Katrina.

Bill Maher’s HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher is better than ever this season. Proving that getting booted from broadcast was the best thing that ever happened to this guy, his political and cultural attacks are funnier, smarter, and truthier than ever.

Good Night, and Good Luck bookended the movie with a speech, in which Edward R. Murrow’s attacked Americans for having been made complacent by TV. And yes, as the movie none too subtly points out, 50 years later, that same attack rings true.

Well . . . I’m happy to see the media's finally coming out of its post 9-11 daze. I look forward to watching Bill Maher every week. That David Strathairn should at least get an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Murrow.

But I can’t help but feel that there’s something missing…

You see, I’m missing in the current American dialogue what I’m missing in the Democratic Party.


About four or five years ago, before Esquire, my favorite men’s magazine, sold it’s soul to the Maxim devil, they did a themed new year’s Silver Bullet issue. Basically they put forth articles, interviews, essays, and quotes about how to solve current problems.

And right now I’m thinking that’s an idea good enough to steal.

So with that in mind, I’ve decided to launch a new blog called 2006 Silver Bullets.

The goal of the blog is to come up with 2006 solutions to problems big and small by December 31, 2006.

So if you have a solution to anything, and you want to put it out there, please go to the 2006 Silver Bullets and find out how to get it posted.

If you have a blog, and you have readers who might have solutions, please post a link to 2006 Silver Bullets in your links section.

And then we’ll see how it all turns out.

But dudes, today I feel like the beginning of a movie you know nothing about, but like within the first five minutes. Way optimistic about all the good stuff to come.