Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Another decade in the books

Happy New Year, everyone! Welcome to the Roaring Twenties redux!

Pic snicked from the internets. If it's yours let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.

Monday, December 30, 2019

December Words of Wisdom

It's okay if the most noteworthy thing you accomplished this year was making it to December. There''s nothing small or insignificant about survival. Your resilience - your ability to continue to show up every day, even when the weight you're carrying is so heavy; even when it would be easy to give up - is never anything but a strength. --Daniell Koepka

Show me a man who gets rich by being a politician and I'll show you a crook.
--President Harry S. Truman

I don't care how attractive you think you look. If you have an ugly heart you are ugly. --Karen Salmansohn

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. --Confucius

You will never know how much it cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. --John Adams

What the world needs is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left. --Oscar Levant

Freedom has cost too much blood and agony to be relinquished at the cheap price of rhetoric. --Thomas Sowell

The world belongs to those who have mastered their internal world. --Brendon Burchard

All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. --Albert Einstein

Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth. --John F. Kennedy

If no one has said, "Who do you think you are? What are you, crazy? Are you sure this is a good idea?" Then perhaps you're not thinking boldly enough. --Brendon Burchard

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Hedwig Raskob is the new Nigerian prince

I can't believe my Yahoo mail spam filter let this one through.

I also can't believe people actually think this will work. Who actually falls for this?

Friday, December 27, 2019

Dealing with this year's writing drought and moving forward

This past year was one big writer's block, so I've been going over ideas to move past it. One thing I've decided to try again is submitting as much as possible.

In 2018 my goal was at least two submissions per month. I submitted two each in January and February of that year, but then my Mom died unexpectedly in early March 2018, so March and April were total busts - nothing submitted in those months, which was understandable. There was a lot to deal with suddenly that I was completely unprepared for.

I also moved in July 2018, which was rough for a number of reasons, but I did pretty well with submissions May through September. Then the block seemed to settle in - there were no more submissions for the rest of the year. Still, I had fifteen submissions for the whole year, including five that placed in contests and one that was a winner. On the other hand I didn't get published, so I wasn't thrilled with that. But overall, for a year that was tough I felt okay with my progress.

Although I didn't put a number on submissions for 2019, the year started out with a bang. I had eight submissions in the first three months of the year, then... nothing. April through the rest of the year was pretty much a drought and not only was I not submitting, I wasn't writing much either. The good news was that I did have a story accepted for an anthology, but "Like Deja vu All Over Again", the story that's getting published in Crossing Borders in March 2020, is an old story I had kicking around that just happened to fit the theme for that anthology. I did submit to a short story competition in October that I don't think will place, but the entry fee was minimal and it made me feel like I at least did something, even if it was kind of pointless.

Late October into early November I attended both the Writer's Digest Novel Writing Conference in Pasadena and Bouchercon in Dallas and in addition to being exhausted by the time I got home, it did light a fire under me, both in terms of writing and finally tackling some personal stuff that's been lingering since Mom's death and the move away from the beach.

So the new plan is not to have a particular number of submissions per month, but to really examine the markets and opportunities and try to submit to as many as possible. There are a lot of anthologies coming up as well as other short story markets that I want to be more aggressive about submitting to, and I think that's my best shot at getting published again and seeing some progress in my writing career. I really don't want to have to wait another three years to be published again.

I've also got two other longer projects to work on that will be my A/B projects when I'm not working on short stories. One is a play and the other is one of my ideas for a novel. I've had multiple ideas for novels over the past few years and the difficulty has been focusing on just one while setting the others aside. The play is the A project because it will be quicker to complete, while the novel will be the B project with the goal of at least having a first draft by the end of the year.

Yep, that's the plan. We'll see how it rolls out, but for the first time in a long time I actually feel positive not only about writing, but about a lot of personal things as well. The Brother and I have been discussing this lately and he feels the same way - 2019 was rough for a number of reasons, but we're feeling really positive about 2020's potential.

I hope anyone who is reading this is feeling great about the new year and new decade. May the new 20's roar! And may I also take this opportunity to wish you a wonderful, creative, and productive 2020! Let's succeed together!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas on!!!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Recent reading: "The Lost Detective: Becoming Dashiell Hammett"

The Lost Detective: Becoming Dashiell Hammett by Nathan Ward

Before reading this Edgar-Award nominated book I was unaware that Hammett, the author of The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man (which became one of my all-time favorite movies), had once been a Pinkerton detective.

Tuberculosis kept Hammett from making Pinkerton a lifelong career, but when he finally had to give up the work due to his poor health, he used his sleuthing experiences to embark on a second career as a writer. He held most pulp stories and fictional detectives and private eyes in disdain because he found them so unrealistic, and set out to create more realistic characters.

This book is not an autobiography - I had to get online to find out that Hammett and his wife did eventually divorce, that he joined the Communist Party and eventually ran afoul of the House Un-American Activities Committee, and even served time in prison due to his Communist involvement. Ward's focus is how Hammett's time with Pinkerton informed the great novels he went on to write, how his writing career developed and into the early years of his relationship with the writer Lillian Hellman, with whom he spent the last thirty years of his life. It's also a fascinating look at Pinkerton exploits and how real life sleuthing works.

By comparison, Hammett's Op had wrung some handy knowledge from his rough life of sleuthing: Abductions rarely occur at night or in cities, and those that do more likely are staged by the victim for ransom; no one can strangle your from the front if your arms are free to reach up and snap his pinkies; when a "Chinese" starts shooting, he always empties his gun; you can shadow anyone pretty naturally if you don't meet the subject's eye; it's best to stand aside of the door during "unannounced" visits in case bullets burst through it; even a light tap on the head with a metal revolver has a surprisingly concussive effect; you can often draw good information or even a confession "out of a feeble nature" by putting your face close to the subject's and talking loudly; people talk more freely in a room with a closed door; and any hop head who tells you his name is "John Ryan" is not to be trusted ("it's the John Smith of yeggdom").

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Christmas post: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer/Full Metal Jacket mashup

Yeah, I know I've posted this before, but I had to do it again. Tis the season! Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Christmas post: Another Far Side cartoon

Rumor has it The Far Side may be coming back. How freaking awesome would that be?

Friday, December 20, 2019

Worst intern ever. And not a terribly great person, either.

So it's late December and someone who can't read your mind wishes you a Merry Christmas. How odd. You should go running to Human Resources to complain like the pitiful loser you are. And someone did: Whitney Cummings was reported to HR by an intern on her show for saying, "Merry Christmas".

Boo fucking hoo. I hope I never have to work with someone that petty, self-centered, weak, and unprofessional.

Also, you're an intern and she's the boss. So shut the fuck up and buckle up, buckaroo, because it's a tough world out there and it doesn't revolve around you. When you have a show of your own you can make the rules, including barring your wretchedly unhappy employees who would rather be working for anyone else from saying the dreaded MC words. Until then, shut your piehole. And if you're too stupid to figure that out, well, you were hired for exactly the reason Cummings explains here:

You just know this person was angling for a big payday from their deep-pocketed network. I can just imagine that conversation. "My boss wished me a Merry Christmas and now I'm too traumatized to work. But for the right price I think I can find a way to cope and feel better enough not to get a lawyer or make a big deal about it on social media."

I hope Cummings incorporates this into her next stand-up routine, because it's just that hilariously pathetic and laughable. Also, I'd love to know if that intern showed up for work on Christmas or accepted any gifts or bonuses, because, it's just another day, right?

It must be miserable going through life so miserable that that's what you complain to HR about. Seriously, this loser isn't going to make it in the real world if someone saying, "Merry Christmas" at Christmastime gets their panties in a wad.


Thursday, December 19, 2019

From The Department of It's Funny Cuz It's True: CVS wrapping paper

I'm almost tempted to try this next year. It's not like I ever use the coupons, they expire so soon.

H/T to im not right in the head.com on FB.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Heck yeah I ordered this wine

In fact, I ordered two bottles.

I've been waiting years for TCM Wine Club to do a Bette Davis label, and I finally got it.

You don't have to be a member of the Wine Club to order. Follow this link if you're not a member and just want the Bette Davis Malbec.

I'm so glad they used this picture of her. I don't think she ever looked better than as Margo Channing.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Oh my God, this just came across my Instagram feed: Pet portraits on steroids

Iconic Paw will turn your pet's portrait into an old-timey masterpiece.

Needless to say, I'm sold. The only question is which outfit and which picture of Sophie. Although I'm leaning toward this one:


Sunday, December 15, 2019

Just a thought

Or maybe he'd still be a jerk. Who knows?

Via Trish Martin from the Fame is a Bitch Obsessed FB page (from last year).

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Castle Green tour

Last weekend The Brother and I got to tour Pasadena's historic Castle Green. Twice a year (in June and December) residents open their vintage apartments to the public. I'll definitely be going again in June. The place is beautiful and it was amazing seeing the classic apartments, especially how marvelously they utilized the small spaces in the singles (400-500 square feet). It was also clear the place attracts very creative people.

From the program:

There was a gentleman from the East Coast named Colonel George Green, a patent medicine manufacturer, who created the "August Flower", an elixir that cured all ills, including "a heavy load at the pit of the stomach", who regularly vacationed in Pasadena in the winter to escape the cold.

In 1891 he invested in a hotel located where Stats now stands, and over the next few years he enlarged and improved on the original, adding a wing across the street, the Green Hotel, now the Castle Green, which was completed in 1898 and became the social center for the East Coast gentry who arrived from the train station down the street in horse-drawn carriages, children and nannies in tow, to spend the winter months enjoying the wonderful California weather and the attractions of Pasadena.

Decades later the building fell on hard times and was even condemned at one point, until a group of admirers saved it by converting the hotel into condominiums. It is now comprised of fifty-two unique private residences. It is also listed as a Nationally Registered Historic Monument, a State Historical Monument, and a Designated Pasadena Treasure.

Designed with Moorish, Spanish, and Victorian themes, the building is gorgeous and provides a look at a long-vanished way of life. It has a manually operated caged elevator and life at Castle Green includes having full-time elevator operators. According to the program, it is the only manually operated elevator running on the West Coast.

Although we were told pictures were fine, I didn't take many of the actual apartments because it felt kind of invasive, even though the owners willingly opened their homes to us.

There are two rooms off the lobby, the Moorish and Turkish Rooms:

Per the program: The carpeting throughout is an exact replica of the original design of 1897 and has been manufactured by the same company, Axminster of London. This was researched through the use of computer generation, using early photos of Rudolph Valentino and Dorothy Gish standing in a hallway. Luckily, Axminster was able, through these photos, to find the original pattens for us. Here's a small sample:

Original tile.

The beautiful caged elevator. Unfortunately they take it out of commission for the tour.

A lot of the units have vintage appliances, which I am a total sucker for:

This apartment featured something I had never seen or heard of - a Clavicytherium. Basically, it's an upright harpsichord:

Merry Christmas from Castle Green!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Christmas post: Mr. Bean and the Nativity Scene

This is one of my all-time favorite Mr. Bean bits, where he brings the Nativity to life:


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

You guys, Costco has the coolest booze-related stuff for the holidays!

Seriously, check this out:

If you're having trouble finding a gift for someone who has a thing for dragons and brandy, Costco has you covered!

I had no idea there were even this many varieties of Bailey's:

I actually bought this because I needed tequila for a margarita mix variety pack I bought a few weeks ago:

Thirty bucks. It was the cheapest tequila in the store.
Here are the mixers. The blood orange sold it.

Costco has tons of food and drink-related gifts. You'll want to get over there soon, because the closer it gets to Christmas the crazier that place is going to get.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Recent reading: "Lost Hills"

Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg

In between his Ian Ludlow series, Goldberg managed to crank out the first book of a new series featuring young L.A. County Sheriff's Deputy Eve Ronin.

Ronin was promoted to homicide detective after a video of her wrestling a famous actor to the ground because he was assaulting a woman went viral. Her newfound and unwanted fame also helped take the media's focus off police brutality issues plaguing the department. But although happy with her promotion, she finds herself in the unenviable position of being resented by other older, more experienced detectives who consider her advancement unearned and undeserved.

Ronin gets a chance to prove herself when she and her partner are called to the scene of a heinous triple homicide involving an abused single mom and her two children. Goldberg keeps the action moving and threw in a nice twist at the end that I never saw coming. And in a weird twist a massive brushfire factors into the book's climax, and in the author's afterword Goldberg notes that shortly after receiving the copyedited manuscript of Lost Hills from his editor, he and his family had to evacuate their Calabasas home due to the disastrous Woolsey Fire. Luckily, his house survived.

Highly recommended and I'm looking forward to the next Eve Ronin book.

Garvey wasn't intimidated. "What did you expect? A standing ovation from the guys who actually earned their promotions?"

"No, Tubbs, this is exactly what I expected." Eve stepped away from him and shifted her gaze between the three men. "Because it's the same sexist attitude that would have shut me out of Robbery-Homicide for another ten years . . . and that I still would have faced if I ever got in. So I used the leverage that video gave me to get myself here overnight. Did I leapfrog over people who've been struggling to get into Robbery-Homicide for years and haven't made it? Yes, I did. Do I care? Nope. Do I deserve to be here? It doesn't matter because here I am, boys. You don't like it? Too bad. Suck it up or get out. I'm sure the sheriff will give me two other detectives to replace you. They might even stay."

Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Huntington Library is about to get a whole lot funnier

Now here's something I didn't expect to see in an email from The Huntington:

That's right - from the interview:

I was so impressed by the air-conditioned efficiency of the sliding shelves and the variety of writers it contained that I wondered aloud of the library would like to have my stuff. Amazingly, they would, and so was born what they will one day call The Eric Idle Archive, which is really far too posh a name for a bunch of old junk in a lock-up in Studio City.

The eventual collection will include Python and Spamalot scripts, personal letters, notes, recordings, and photos. And I will be all over that.

I was just at The Huntington gift shop (aka Heaven) yesterday. In the future, I'll keep my eyes peeled for Idle. I never thought of The Huntington as a celebrity spotting place (and I don't usually care about celebrities anyway) but as a longtime Python fan, it would be a kick to see him there.