Saturday, December 31, 2022

Friday, December 30, 2022

December Words of Wisdom

There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children. --Nelson Mandela
You cannot think yourself to right action, you have to act your way to right thinking. --David Milch 

Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality, there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking. --Ayn Rand

Believe in your heart that you're meant to live a life full of passion, purpose, magic, and miracles. --Roy T. Bennett
I wish for days that you wake up and the weight of the world feels light. Days when laughter makes your belly hurt and kind people touch your soul. --Mona Lee
We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. --Buddha

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. --Seneca
Only individuals can learn. Only individuals can think creatively. Only individuals can cooperate. Only individuals can combat statism. --Leonard Reed 

Victimhood is an organizing principle for socialism. It divides the world into oppressors and the oppressed. --Jennifer Grossman
I've learned that very often the most intolerant and narrow-minded people are the ones who congratulate themselves on their tolerance and open-mindedness. --Christopher Hitchens

Abraham Lincoln once asked an audience how many legs a dog has if you count the tail as a leg. When they answered five, Lincoln told them the answer was four. The fact that you called the tail a leg does not make it a leg. --Thomas Sowell
When any nation mistrusts its citizens with guns, it is sending a clear message. It no longer trusts its citizens because such a government has evil plans. -George Washington

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

And, as an addendum to yesterday's post...

This just popped up as a "sponsored post" ad on my Instagram feed.

Guess who went shopping for health insurance yesterday? Yep, -> this girl! <-
Also, L.A. Care - which I've never heard of before yesterday - seemed sketchy, so I went with another company. Just sayin'. Also, it wasn't free. Not even cheap. So they've got the truthiness in advertising thing going on as well.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Yes, your computer is spying on you

The next time you make fun of someone who's concerned that their smart device is intrusive, remember this:
Click to biggify.
That's a screenshot of my computer screen as I was going through my email this morning. See those ads on the right? They're for quick study guides. Wanna know what I was looking at on Amazon yesterday? If you said quick study guides, you get a cookie, and not the type that's tracking your internet usage and reporting it back to God knows who. 

I personally don't care about Google Docs, but my college uses it and it occurred to me that it might be helpful if I learned something about it. I went to Barnes & Noble hoping to find a book on it (even an Idiot's Guide) but couldn't find anything. When I went to Amazon, the quick study guides for Google Docs popped up and I thought that since I'm not trying to become an expert - just navigate it competently - this might be a cheap, easy way to learn the basics, so I put one in my cart. And then didn't think about it again.

The next morning I'm going through my emails and guess what pops up in the ads on the right sidebar? That's right - quick study guides. NOT. CREEPY. AT. ALL.

And by not creepy at all, I mean TOTALLY CREEPY, INTRUSIVE, AND OFFENSIVE. Someone's getting rich selling my information (without my permission) and it's not me.

Monday, December 26, 2022

One of my writing conferences needs to be in Denver ASAP

Trey Parker and Matt Stone have announced the grand reopening date for the refurbished Casa Bonita, which they bought in 2021 after it went bankrupt. As of next May, you can eat at a restaurant that has appeared in South Park.

And now I need an excuse to go to Denver.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Recent reading: "Life's Work: A Memoir"

Life's Work: A Memoir by David Milch

David Milch is the writer/producer of a number of successful television shows including NYPD Blue and Deadwood. After teaching English at Yale for a number of years he started his TV writing career on Hill Street Blues and never looked back. A few years ago he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease and, with his wife and children filling in blank spots, embarked on his memoir while he still could.

Milch was the son of a surgeon who was also an alcoholic and chronic gambler, and he seemed to adopt the worst of his father's qualities. He was drinking by age eight and running bets for his father. He spent years consuming drugs in such quantities it's a wonder he lived long enough to meet anything but a premature end. On the other hand he was also book smart, an avid reader and writer. He attended Yale where multiple-Pulitzer winner Robert Penn Warren became his mentor.
When an old roommate, who was on the Hill Street Blues writing staff showed a sample of Milch's writing to his boss, Steven Bochco, Milch was hired on and his television writing career was off and running. He would win four Emmys, three Writers Guild Awards, two Edgars, and three Humanitas Prizes for his work.

Although he eventually stopped using drugs, another of Milch's bad habits was gambling on horse racing, a skill he picked up from his father. In February 2016, the world found out just how bad that habit was when a Hollywood Reporter article described how, having earned $100 million over his career, Milch managed to gamble himself into a $17 million hole. He and his wife owed millions to the IRS and had to sell the home in Brentwood where they'd raised their three children, as well as their vacation estate in Martha's Vineyard. In the book he describes having bet more than a million dollars in a day, more than once.

There's also a great story about how, years after David Caruso's infamous departure from NYPD Blue (which is covered in the book), their daughters met at college and became lifelong friends. 

Ten years later, when my eldest was heading to Yale and looking at the Southern California admit list ahead of some event, she sees the name of David Caruso's daughter, they were the same year. She says to me, "Is this going to mess me up? Is she going to hate me?" I say, "It's a big school. Don't worry about it."
The first week of school, they meet at a party, and they become best friends. 
That's the funny part of the story. Here's the touching part:

(Re: Greta Caruso) She's amazing, funny, tough-minded. And she and my daughter have this ease with each other, and you realize part of where it comes from is they have this shared understanding that their fathers have been tough to love and they love them anyway...

Milch also continued to teach writing even after his success in television and was extremely generous with fledgling writers. There are some videos on YouTube of him discussing the writing process that I'l be checking out. But he is so cerebral that a lot of what he wrote in his memoir went right over my head, and it's not like I'm some illiterate idiot. But seeing his intellect and creativity shown at such a high level makes it even more tragic when the dementia sets in and begins to rob him of his brilliant mind. For better or worse, Milch has lived a life of worth writing - and reading - about.

It was the day before Christmas...

Almost there!

Friday, December 23, 2022

"Entertainment to Die For" is coming!

A couple days ago the authors were informed that Entertainment to Die For, the upcoming anthology from Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles (that includes my story "As Seen on Television"), is being released on January 1. It was unexpected since it was right smack in the middle of the holiday season, plus SinC/LA usually doesn't release their anthologies until Spring, but whatever the reason, we're ringing in the New Year with a release. 

You can pre-order the Kindle edition now here, and I'm told hard copies will be available on January 1. Here's the description of the anthology from SinC/LA:

Are a famous director and an illustrious screenwriter best buddies or vindictive rivals? Why does an all-Black cast shooting a vampire movie find their star a bit…lethal? How does a glamorous bartender in a Hollywood tiki bar track the clues in a murder when it looks like a natural death? Can revenge last in the entertainment world, even into the retirement home?

In Entertainment to Die For, a Sisters in Crime Los Angeles anthology, you will find stories by first-time authors and stories by multi-published authors—all are killers (on the page, anyway). Sleuth along with the sleuths in these 18 suspenseful tales and solve the mysteries. Each story is a gem. Enjoy!

Introduction by Sisters in Crime founder and best-selling author, Sara Paretsky.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Farewell Family Curio Cabinet

Sadly, I had to say goodbye to my huge, beautiful curio cabinet earlier this week. It had been part of the family since my Dad bought it for his house in San Dimas in the 80's. It was a gorgeous piece (about six feet high) with glass on the front and sides, glass shelves, a mirrored back, and lights. My Dad never bought cheap or lightweight furniture and this thing was a beast. A big, beautiful beast.
When he moved to Hawaii in the 1990's the cabinet went with him. After he passed away in 2011 I brought it back to California when we cleaned out the Kona house, and there was a spot in my previous Marina del Rey apartment where it fit perfectly. Since then, it moved with me to Arcadia and then back to the beach last year. Although huge - it was bought for a large house - I'd always found ideal spots for it in the three apartments I had it in.
A couple of days ago I knelt down to polish the base and realized the wood had begun separating at the front corners and along part of the front of the base. Not sure what caused it, but the thing was old and I decided it was time to retire it. Because of its size and how much of it was glass, I was concerned that if the base gave way and the cabinet collapsed, I was looking at a major catastrophe.

Here's where I plug the awesomeness of 1-800-Got-Junk. The Brother and I have used them numerous times (they come in handy when you have to clean out the home of a deceased relative, or if you just have a piece of furniture that has reached the end of the line). I was going to wait until after Christmas to deal with it, but my paranoia about the potential for collapse got the better of me. I was able to get them out the next day and they were in and out of here in about fifteen minutes. It was also cheaper than I was expecting (they charge you by the amount of room your stuff takes up in the truck, and because it was a tall slim piece, it actually had a pretty small footprint, so I made out there. 
Still, it was sad to see it go and yes I'm feeling nostalgic about an inanimate object. But there's a big empty space in my heart apartment where it once stood. After the New Year I'll be shopping for a replacement that's a little smaller and more manageable for the space and my needs. 

The damage:

Right corner. This scared the crap out of me when I discovered it.

Right side of front base. Starting to separate.

Left corner. Not as bad as the other side, but starting to separate...

Left side of base (which wasn't yet showing signs of damage) for comparison with the right.

After I got everything out of it...a sad, empty vessel:

And then...

It's been a couple days and I'm still sad about having to give it up. But you know what they say, nothing lasts forever. 

Saturday, December 17, 2022

RIP P-22

Sad breaking news: P-22, the famous Griffith Park mountain lion who was recently captured after some uncharacteristic behavior, has been "compassionately euthanized".
P-22 gained local fame when he managed to safely cross two freeways (405 and 101) to relocate himself from the Santa Monica Mountains to Griffith Park in 2012. He became world famous when National Geographic photographer Steve Winter caught this shot of him prowling in the shadow of the Hollywood Sign:

He also got himself some notoriety in 2016 when he made a snack out of a koala at the Los Angeles Zoo. Bad kitty!
P-22 had been captured for assessment by local wildlife authorities earlier this week after twice attacking small dogs being walked by their owners (unfortunately killing one of the dogs), behavior that was out of character for him. He was found to have a number of health issues due to his advanced age (12) as well as injuries that are suspected to be the result of him having been recently hit by a car, and it was decided that euthanasia was the most humane option.
In addition to being adored by Angelenos, P-22's legacy includes being an inspiration for the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing. The hope is that the crossing will make it safer for local wildlife to navigate L.A.'s limited wilderness areas, as many of our mountain lions haven't had P-22's luck when it came to crossing freeways.

This is a tough loss for Angelenos. P-22 was a local icon and will be missed big time.


Adding this one to the Christmas collection


Thursday, December 15, 2022

It's the most wonderful time of the year! My annual reposting of The Digital Story of The Nativity

I swear, not only does this never get old, but considering how fast technology advances and considering it was made in 2010, it's held up really well.

I love this thing.

Monday, December 12, 2022

You're toast

This thing popped up on my Facebook feed and I just had to find out who the hell would need a "smart" toaster with a video screen.

First off, here it is: 

And here is an absolutely scathing review of said product.

So, in addition for not being very good at actually, you know, toasting, this baby comes with a mind-boggling $350-$400 price tag. Seriously, who pays that much for a freaking toaster? For God's sake, even a pretty pretty Smeg comes in at $199 at Bed Bath & Beyond, and not only is that still a chunk of change for a toaster, that's also before the 20% off coupon. 

Guess I'll stick with my cheapy $30 faux retro bread heater that works just fine.

Friday, December 9, 2022

Have a Merry Retro Christmas!!!

Hollywood Boulevard in the 1940's.

These lovely images snicked from various places on the internets. Let me know if any are yours so I can give credit where credit is due. And have a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 8, 2022

The return of Tracy Flick

A sequel to the fantastic 1999 film Election is underway, and while this kind of news would usually not get my hopes up, this one sounds promising. Pretty much everyone involved in the original is on board: the novelist (Tom Perrotta), the director (Alexander Payne), the screenwriters (Payne and Jim Taylor) and of course, Tracy Flick herself (Reese Witherspoon). The only question remaining is whether or not Matthew Broderick will reprise his role of Mr. McAllister, the high school teacher who tangled with the overachieving and hyper-ambitious Tracy and lost.
Titled Tracy Flick Can't Win, the sequel (like the first, based on a Perrotta novel) "finds the eponymous Tracy in adulthood and still struggling to fight her way to the top". The only thing I'm wondering about is that it doesn't sound as if it will go into theaters - the Deadline article says it's being made for Paramount+. If they do put it on the big screen, I will be there. If not, looks like I'm going to have to re-up with Paramount+ for at least a month, and even though that would be cheaper, I'd love to see this in a theater with an audience.

Pick Flick!

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

The gift that keeps on taking

The stock market is plummeting, grocery prices are skyrocketing, 401k's are getting murdered and gas prices are still way high. I made two trips to the gas station in November and spent over $140 ($142.46 to be exact). This to put gas in a car that used to be filled from near-empty for around $50. 

Merry Christmas?

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Time well spent

I could go for this.

Well played, Iceland.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

We have cover art!

Sisters in Crime Los Angeles has revealed the cover for our next anthology, Entertainment to Die For, which will include my short story "As Seen on Television".

I like the red, very eye-catching! Also looking forward to Sara Paretsky's introduction.

I don't know the exact date - in the e-mail it said "early next year". I'm thinking March or April, because SinC/LA usually releases their anthologies around the L.A. Times Festival of Books, which will take place April 22-23 next year.

Friday, December 2, 2022

Blue skies, smiling at me...

At the channel, late Thursday afternoon:

You so pretty, Marina del Rey 😍

Thursday, December 1, 2022