Tuesday, January 31, 2023

January Words of Wisdom

Quite the range this month. --Me 

I'll read my books and I'll drink coffee and I'll listen to music, and I'll bolt the door. --J.D. Salinger

Some people don't understand that sitting in your own house alone in peace, eating snacks and minding your business is priceless. --Tom Hardy
Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist. --Pablo Picasso
Beauty is quietly woven through our ordinary days. Everywhere there is tenderness, care, and kindness there is beauty. --John O'Donohue

Nobody can tell you if what you're doing is good, meaningful, or worthwhile. The more compelling the path, the more lonely it is. --Hugh MacLeod
I do my best thinking at night when everyone else is sleeping. No interruptions. No noise. I like the feeling of being awake when no one else is. --Jennifer Niven
Life without a design is erratic. --Seneca
In Greek tragedy, they fall from great heights. In noir, they fall from the curb. --Dennis Lahane
Don't be upset by the result you didn't get by the work you didn't do. --Unknown
Procrastination is like a credit card. It's a lot of fun until you get the bill. --Christopher Parker
You become what you give your attention to...If you yourself don't choose what thoughts and images you expose yourself to, someone else will, and their motives may not be the highest. --Epictetus

I think it's very important that you make your own decision about what you are. Therefore, you're responsible for your actions, so you don't blame other people. --William, Prince of Wales

Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius. --Fulton J. Sheen

Toxic people project their own character defects onto their victims. They do this by accusing the victim of the exact actions they themselves do but deny. --Shannon Thomas
Yes, we did produce a near-perfect republic. But will they keep it? Or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the path of destruction. --Thomas Jefferson
The lockdowns of 2020 had some features in common with Directive 10-289 from Atlas Shrugged. It was a central plan, imposed by executive order, as brutal in its enforcement as it was ignorant in its implementation.  --Jeffrey Tucker

Victimhood is an organizing principle for socialism. It divides the world into oppressors and the oppressed. --Jennifer Grossman
How frightening to realize we are not so far away from the old Soviet days of state-controlled media. --Dinesh D'Souza
All we want is our leaders to love America more than a foreign country. --Charlie Kirk

Monday, January 30, 2023

Grand Theft: Boat

How do you even pull this off?

So, apparently someone stole a boat in Marina del Rey. I almost want to give the guy props for finding a way to make this happen. It sounds like something out of a sitcom. 
I also can't find anything online about a recent boat theft in the area, which seems odd.

It would have been taken from somewhere around here (14000 block of Palawan Way):

I had a car stolen once. Not sure how or why you steal a boat, though.

Insert confused emoji face here.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Recent reading: "Entertainment to Die For"

Edited by Gay Toltl Kinman, Meredith Taylor, Susan Rowland

Entertainment to Die For is the latest anthology from the Sisters in Crime Los Angeles. It includes my short story "As Seen on Television".

We weren't expecting it for a couple more months, but right before Christmas we were informed that it would be released on January 1. And here it is! Also, I love that cover art. The red is really striking. 

It's always fun to see how differently the theme is interpreted by different writers. My story involves an actor willing to murder for the leading role on a crappy sitcom. Other involve live theater in the park, long-simmering resentments dating back to the early days of television, life and death struggles for power, position, and onscreen credits, period stories, revenge being wreaked, and murder on location.

Taking my own story out of the mix because I can't really be objective about it (but I do love my story), my personal favorites out of this collection were "Murder in Xanadu" (how can you not love a story that starts with, "When I was murdered, it didn't hurt at all," and "Careful What You Wish For" (the aforementioned early days of TV story). 

From my story:
Joey had become a celebrity on some inane reality show, then parlayed that into the lead on an equally inane sitcom called Life with Newbie. Joey starred as a big-city guy newly arrived at a small-town college, and in each episode helped enlighten his hick peers, professors, and anyone else who crossed his path, dispersing meaningful lessons about diversity, inclusion, tolerance, and other socially relevant issues. These were all delivered with the condescending subtlety of a sledge-hammer on steroids...

Pick up a copy and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

MovieBot: Awesome new screenwriting program, or...? (UPDATED 1/26 - scroll down)

So this popped up on my Facebook feed a few days ago:

I've been seeing some disparaging remarks online about AI artwork recently, but this is the first time I've come across an AI writing program and I'm not sure what to think about it.

MovieBot will apparently take your brilliant idea that you can't seem to turn into an actual story and provide you with an outline to give you that kick-start you need. From their website:
All you have to do is give MovieBot a few ideas and our Artificial Intelligence will do the rest. Whether it's a comedy show about 3 friends from college, or a drama about a powerful family, in less than a day Movie Bot will have a script and characters for your project. It's super easy and super fast so get started on your project today!

As you go through the FB page and website, there are repeated references to the script MovieBot will provide, but if you read on what it actually does is provide is not a script but an outline for you to build on, along with some characters. Which is fine, but their material frequently references scripts rather than outlines. So let's be clear that this product will not write your script for you.

All debate about the use of AI aside, another thing that waved red flags at me were the multiple errors in the typography on the site. I had to make a correction just in the paragraph from the website I typed above. If you're trying to appeal to writers, you might want to have a good proofreader take a swing through your website. Just sayin'.

Regardless of what one's opinion of AI is, it appears that it's here to stay and we might as well get used to it. In that respect, is it really any different than any other program or method designed to help writers flesh out and develop their ideas, like, for example, Save the Cat? In fact, is AI no more or less problematic for writing and artwork than say, using Photoshop to alter an image? And if it helps jump start a writer who's stuck, is that really such a bad thing? On the other hand, would there be a stigma attached to a writer who employed AI?

With all this in mind, it's only $15, so it might be worth a shot to see if MovieBot might actually be helpful. I'm bogged down with schoolwork right now, but once I get on top of that, I might give MovieBot a shot and see what they can do.
Oh, and then there was the guy in the FB comments who pointed this out - South Park called it!
From the Wikipedia link:
During their visit to Universal Studios, Hollywood, two movie producers find out about the "robot" and decide to hire him to create movie ideas. Cartman, as the robot, comes up with over two thousand terrible, nonsensical film concepts (800 of which would star Adam Sandler), which the movie producers all find brilliant...Cartman flees the movie studio in panic after a film producer tries to engage in sexual activity with him, thinking that he may also be a "pleasure model." 

UPDATED: Apparently there's an AI program for prose writers as well (that I wasn't aware of). Say hello to Sudowrite.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Oh, Perry

Just found out via social media that former Journey lead singer Steve Perry celebrated his 74th birthday yesterday. Considering he and his band were responsible for some of my all-time favorite music, I gotta hope the man had a happy day.

I actually once shared an elevator with Perry, in an office building in Hollywood where I was working. It was him, two of his friends, me, and I think one or two other people. There are four things I remember about the experience. 1) Perry was sporting that dark perma-tan you see on people who spend a lot of time outdoors. 2) He was short, I don't think he was much taller than me. 3) He managed to work a comment about "one of the greatest voices in rock and roll" (he may have said the greatest) into the conversation. I'd recognized him immediately but stayed cool, so maybe he just wanted to make sure we'd all figured it out.
The funny thing about the last thing I recall is that it's something that didn't come from Perry, but from one of his friends. This guy was telling a story about a friend of his, who had taken a woman out on a second date to a very expensive restaurant. They had dinner, and only after they'd finished eating did the woman state that she had already decided they weren't working out. We got a chuckle, because who does that? We all agreed that you tell him that before he coughs up big bucks to feed you. So not cool.

Anyway, that's my Steve Perry story.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Welcome, Marty McFly!

Marty McFly arrived in 2023 yesterday. Sorry it's such a shitshow, dude.
Also, when you go back to the 80's, can you take me with you? PLEASE???

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Happy Birdday, Poe Boy!

Edgar Allan Poe was born this day in 1809. Yep, it was that long ago. 

Happy Birthday to the poster boy for Mystery Writers of America!

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

The Reduced Shakespeare Company presents "Romeo and Juliet"

I don't know why I've never heard of the Reduced Shakespeare Company until now. This was required viewing for my Intro to Theatre Arts class and it's a kick.


This is an example of "burlesquing", aka farce or slapstick. One of the many things I took away from this is how invested the actors are. It's a great lesson on how acting is about so much more than just remembering your lines and hitting your marks. They are all in, 1000%. 

Do give it a watch. It's a lot of fun.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Naughty, dirty restaurants of Los Angeles

Okay, this is the one that made me decide it was time to do another L.A. County Restaurant Closures post. Comments/observations are mine, all other info is from the County's online list.

People, it says dirty in the name of the restaurant!
Dirty Soul Food Buffet, 8101 Long Beach Boulevard, South Gate
Date closed: 12/13/22
Date reopened: 12/21/22
Reason for closure: Vermin infestation
I've been wanting to head over to The Grove. May have to re-think my dining options.
The Gumbo Pot, 6333 W. Third Street, Los Angeles (Farmer's Market/The Grove)
Date closed: 11/2/22
Date reopened: 11/5/22
Reason for closure: Vermin infestation
A couple big names:
Louise's Trattoria, 232 N. Larchmont Boulevard, Los Angeles
Date closed: 1/9/23
Date reopened: None
Reason for closure: Vermin Infestation

San Antonio Winery, 737 Lamar Street, Los Angeles
Date closed: 12/23/22
Date reopened: 12/26/22
Reason for closure: Vermin infestation
What the heck is up with IHOP? Also, fun fact: I have lived in both San Dimas and Arcadia and never ate at either one:
International House of Pancakes, 903 W. Arrow Highway, San Dimas
Date closed: 12/29/22
Date reopened: 12/30/22
Reason for closure: Sewage discharge

International House of Pancakes, 1113 S. Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia
Date closed: 11/28/22
Date reopened: 12/14/22
Reason for closure: Vermin infestation

International House of Pancakes, 755 Pacific Coast Highway, El Segundo
Date closed/reopened: 12/7/22
Reason for closure: No working toilet facilities
More chains!
Burger King, 4410 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles
Date closed: 12/29/22
Date reopened: 12/30/22
Reason for closure: Sewage discharge
Del Taco, 1834 E. Route 66, Glendora  
Date closed/reopened: 12/27/22
Reason for closure: Sewage discharge 
Sbarro The Italian Eatery, 1608 Montebello Towe Center, Montebello 
Date closed: 1/4/23
Date reopened: None
Reason for closure: Vermin infestation 
Subway, 15794 Bellflower Boulevard, Bellflower
Date closed/reopened: 12/8/22
Reason for closure: No working toilet facilities
Subway, 9238 Slauson Avenue, Pico Rivera
Date closed: 11/29/22
Date reopened 12/1/22
Reason for closure: Vermin infestation
Jersey Mike's Subs, 26510 Bouquet Canyon Road, Santa Clarita
Date closed: 12/8/22
Date reopened: 12/10/22
Reason for closure: Vermin infestation
Church's Fried Chicken, 1118 W. Jefferson Boulevard, Los Angeles
Date closed: 11/17/22
Date reopened: 11/21/22
Reason for closure: Vermin infestation

Yum Yum Donuts, 13501 Hubbard Street, Sylmar
Date closed: 11/9/22
Date reopened: 11/12/22
Reason for closure: Vermin infestation

Not gonna lie - this one hurt. Thank God it wasn't the one in Burbank.
Bob's Big Boy, 8876 Corbin Avenue, Northridge
Date closed: 11/7/22
Date reopened: 11/10/22
Reason for closure: Vermin infestation

Happy chowing!!!

Friday, January 6, 2023

Recent reading: "Capote's Women"

Capote's Women: 
A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era
by Laurence Leamer
"Swans" was the word author Truman Capote coined to describe the elite society women who he had befriended and who took him into their confidence and sumptuous lifestyles. Babe Paley, Gloria Guinness, Slim Keith, Pamela Harriman, C.Z. Guest, Lee Radziwill, and Marella Agnelli were spectacularly glamorous, elegant women who started out with a certain amount money and privilege and married even more of both, often more than once.

These women fascinated Capote, who saw them as works of art, of "extraordinary presentation". In addition to being a complete package - beautiful, fashionable, intelligent, entertaining, and sociable - Capote appreciated the hard work they were willing to put in to maintain this presentation throughout their lives, while also maintaining the outward appearance of their supposedly enviable lives. As a flamboyant gay man he was no threat to their husbands, who often weren't all that concerned with their wives in the first place, and he became close to them, socializing and often traveling with them. And he collected their stories while never letting on that he planned on exposing them in a novel.

Having established himself as a author of note with the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's, Capote had supreme confidence that his writing talent was without peer and had decided his next act of literary genius would feature his swans and the stories and experiences they had shared with him in confidence.

Titled Answered Prayers - based on a quote attributed to St. Teresa of Avila, "There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers," - the book turned out to be something that Capote was never able to complete. He began it in the late 1950's, but during the years he was supposedly hard at work on it, he was distracted by a murder in rural Kansas, putting Answered Prayers on hold to write the acclaimed In Cold Blood, which only increased his fame. 

Finally, in 1975, hoping to whet the public's appetite for the book and prove he was making progress, Capote had a chapter entitled "Mojave" published in Esquire. This was followed by another piece, "La Cote Basque 1965". Contrary to Capote's belief in its brilliance, it came across as a gossipy exposure of stories best kept to oneself. To make things worse, in addition to exposing their personal foibles, the swans in this chapter were not only poorly disguised, but were also portrayed as shallow and tacky.

These women were shattered by this betrayal by someone they considered a close and trusted friend with whom they had shared some of their deepest, darkest secrets. Babe Paley never spoke to Capote again after "La Cote Basque 1965" was published. Slim Keith "...raged against him for the rest of her life." C.Z. Guest and Lee Radziwill, who hadn't been badly represented in the chapter, did remain friends, although Radziwill would cut ties over a later issue that threatened to drag her into a court battle between Capote and Gore Vidal. But for all intents and purposes, the Esquire article marked the end of Capote's charmed life among the elite.
Capote was out of the gilded cage he had so enjoyed being a part of that it had become part of his persona. His glory days were over, and despite staying in the public eye (more as a personality than an acclaimed author) his drug and alcohol abuse worsened and he continued to deteriorate until his death in 1984. 
Capote's Women is the basis for the next installment of Feud, which I am really looking forward to.

Despite the initial fallout, Truman was convinced that once the swans realized how much they needed him, they would all come fluttering back. It did not happen. Truman's defenders dismissed the women whose stories appeared in Answered Prayers as spoiled socialites who had finally gotten what they deserved. But these women were profoundly hurt. As they saw it, he had abused their friendship and betrayed them in a display of appallingly bad manners. He never should have been invited into their set in the first place.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Belated Christmas post

The Brother and I generally Christmas shop for each other based on our Amazon wish lists, which means it's fun when we can find something that isn't on the list and is therefore a genuine surprise. This year's surprise? For him, a guitar shaped cutting/serving board. For me? Socks. But not just any socks:

The cats on the socks look exactly like Sophie! I love them!

See? It's like she modeled for them!

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Happy Birthday to my Mom

Today would have been my Mom's 81st birthday. In a couple months it will be the fifth anniversary of her passing, which is mind-boggling to me. It doesn't feel anything like that long. 


Sunday, January 1, 2023

Welcome 2023!

The past is a place of reference, not a place of residence; 
the past is a place of learning, not a place of living. 
--Roy T. Barnett