Saturday, February 16, 2008

Back to the UnUrban Cafe - Friday 2/15/2008

Hydra had another guitar lesson, so I tagged along and he dropped me at the UnUrban Cafe again. Wow, do I like this place. It had a different attitude on what I take to be a slower than usual Friday afternoon.

I sat at a cool old kitchen table and wrote for about an hour. I thought I took lots of photos of the interior, but I screwed up and had something set wrong in my camera and didn't check the shots and...well.

Discovered my folly when I was standing across the street making it easier for Hydra to pick me up in the horrible traffic.

Another lady in waiting. Her bus in shining armor arrived shortly.

I'm just posting this one because even though it's kind of random, it has a better point of view than the others.

And can you see my shadow? Apparently, around 5pm at this time of the year I am quite leggy and slender!

If you're in the area of the UnUrban Coffee House and you like the funky coffee house, do check it out at 3301 Pico, Santa Monica (near the corner of 34th.) If this were closer to home, it would be my other living room. Oh, and the iced coffee is wonderful. It actually has hints of chocolate in the first sip, even though it's straight coffee.

Another recommendation: Tlapazola Grill at Gateway and Barrington. I'm posting reviews to TripAdvisor, which I'll link to later.

Hedgebrook Alumnae Gathering - Thursday 2/14/2008

I wrote this up at the request of an online friend, and thought I'd share it with you. The image is from the Hedgebrook website.

What a fun night. I arrived early and everyone else, including the organizer, arrived late to the home of the alumna who was hosting. Traffic was a mess. I'm guessing because everyone was trying to get home and then out again for Valentine's Day dinner.

Wow, what a house. The room we met in was actually a gallery of pre-Columbian art. Some amazing pieces. Truly. Some human pottery figures with expressions I’ve never seen before. Three of those fat dogs (probably pregnant) that I am always drawn to…and large specimens. Turns out her father-in-law (or grandfather-in-law?) was pretty much responsible for bringing pre-Columbian art to the fore and she’s writing a biography of him right now.

This year is Hedgebrook’s 20th year in existence. We had people there from as early as 1998, before all of the six cabins were built, to as late as last fall. (I was there in 2001) The retreat gives you your own beautiful cabin made mostly of oak, lunch is brought to you in a basket, you join with the other writers for a delicious dinner in the farmhouse, and can spend time in the library together after dinner or during the day, and then you select your breakfast fixings from the kitchen before you go back to the cabin. I suppose the food is always important partly because it’ so good (much of it grown organically on the grounds) and because it’s wonderful especially for women, to have their sustenance taken care of.

Anyway! About 18 people came to the gathering. We sat in a circle and briefly introduced ourselves and our current projects and whatever else seemed important. Then some of us read. I felt really good about my piece which went over well. There was laughter at least once and a little flutter of “ooohs” after a description of a character’s failed attempt to look innocent. Most importantly, I’d timed it so it was under 3 minutes, as the organizer had requested. People who go way over their time do themselves no favors.

There were several people who seemed very familiar to me, and we questioned each other long enough to figure out a mutual acquaintance, but couldn’t think how we might actually have seen each other before. And several I would very much like to get to know better. We are going to try and have bi-monthly gatherings to share knowledge and to get to know each other.

I had talked a little about my blog and how photography is in many ways so much simpler than writing, and my self-surprising success rate with placing photos, and at least three people wrote down my blog address. One does travel writing and asked what sort of photos I take. It would be lovely to work with her on something.

There was a lot of energy in the room, and I really hope we start connecting. These things always make me think of about five ways I could be helpful. A lot of them were screenwriters, or had ended up making screenplays of the fiction they’d worked on. It’s Hollywood, so I guess that’s to be expected. Not a bad thing.

The retreat was first endowed by Nancy Skinner Nordhoff, but now they are seeking grants. They find that alumnae involvement in both contributions (not the amount, but the percentage of alumna contributing) and in later development helps in getting grants, so they’re reaching out to us. Each of us who signed up last night will call 20 alumnae and ask that she donate $20. Very reasonable.

So, any of you women who would like to have the writing retreat experience of your life should apply to Hedgebrook There are a lot of applications for the approximately 40 spots they offer each session, but it’s really worth going for. If you have applied and didn't get in, it could have been a scheduling problem or that they are trying for some diversity in the type of projects people who are there at the same time are working on.

It’s free. You get a cottage on Whidbey Island (near Seattle), great food, and time to write.

If you want to know more, check out the website and/or let me know.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Big Valentine's Day Photo Shoot - Thursday 2/14/2008

My idea of a Valentine's Day sentiment.

Let's pause for a moment. Let's enjoy the sweetness of the day, any day, not just the one that's been chosen for us. Let's get to know each other better. What have you been up to? Tell me.

Then again. On the other hand. There might be some money to be made here. Here's my new line of parrot-centric greeting cards.

This one says, without ambiguity. I'm cute. I love you. What more do you need?

This one's moody and uncertain. I might love you. I would like to love you. I think.

Do you love me first?

I've had a change of heart. It was fun while it lasted. The party's over, babe.

Cookies and Writing Advice - Wednesday 2/13/2008

Preparation for any holiday, large or small, probably should involve some baking.

Los Angelista tagged me for a meme. I'm to give three pieces of writing advice, even though she has already given up the really good stuff over on her blog. Since it wouldn't be right for me to just cut and paste hers over here...

1) Take Los Angelista's advice. Actually write. You can do it in ten minutes a day (I would have said 15 minutes a day, but if ten works, it works. It's good to keep your hand in.) Avoid writing books (advice I really need to take because some of them have helped but some stop me dead in my tracks.)

2) Treat your writer self kindly. Don't badger and cajole. Establish a discipline of showing up (as noted above) and respect that. Try to accept what you get on paper any given day. This advice is actually hard for me to take because no matter how much I do in writing or in life, I seldom feel I have done enough.

3) Lighten up! Surprise yourself every so often. Do a short timed writing that isn't required to be about whatever major project you are currently working on. Play!

Get some one to give you a prompt. Either a word (like "dread") or a phrase (like "what s/she wanted versus what s/he got" or "The last thing s/he saw before the lights went out was...") Set the timer for 10 or 15 minutes, and go.

This is especially fun if you can get a couple of other writers to play along, and then you read what you wrote aloud.

Hmm. Lookie there. That was easy enough!

I'm tagging the Elegant E over at Lexiconscious to do the same!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Good News Arrives with the Soap - Tuesday 2/12/2008

Good news! The strike is over and we're ready for a clean start.

Sort of ready. It's unclear how things will unfold at work. Will we be inundated with scripts? Will they trickle in? Which shows will continue and which will fold either for the rest of the season or forever?

We are pretty certain that the CSIs will be back. I work on CSI: Miami. But rumor has it that Bionic Woman is down for the count. And shows whose episodes are not so self-contained, that have a 22 to 24-episode plot arc (like, say, Desperate Housewives) will have to decide whether they can do the same in an abbreviated number of episodes or if they will wait until fall to continue.

I think most of us at work have mixed feelings. We're glad it's over and glad that the business remained viable. But also a little sad to see the end of our days of personal freedom and low stress.

Now the goal will be to not become completely stressed out.

In honor of the passing of Roy Scheider (1932-2008), please enjoy a 30-second reenactment of Jaws performed by bunnies. [Thanks for the tip, Toronto!]

The clown lives above Braveheart's kitchen sink. I stayed over after last night's much-needed writing group meeting. We wrote together. There's little that satisfies more than delighting people you respect, and we all did that for each other with last night's timed writing.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sitton's No Ho Diner - Monday 2/12/2008

In search of a new experience, I exited the 170 South at Magnolia. I've been reading Starbucked by Taylor Clark, and I thought maybe I'd check out the Starbucks on the corner of Magnolia and Lankershim to see if they have one of the alternate color schemes I've heard about.

But instead I spotted another all night diner! Is this area the center of the all night diner universe or what? Welcome to Sitton's 24 Hour NoHo Diner.

Many of these photos of movie and television stars are signed "To Nick." I don't know who Nick is. I would have asked my server, but as usual the shift changed at 6 a.m., and the waitress who came on duty didn't feel compelled to freshen my coffee or even smile at me, so any thought of asking questions cooled along with my brew.

Couldn't find any history on the web. Just conflicting food reviews.

You may be hoping that this is a big bowl of oatmeal. It is not. It is supposed to be sausage gravy for the biscuits. Yikes. It was a deal, I was feeling hungry and nostalgic. Luckily, the quality of this meal did not make me want to finish even one of the obviously frozen and reheated biscuits.

I mean, biscuits. How hard is that? And I don't think I've had decent sausage biscuits and gravy ever on this side of the Mississippi. Probably not so much a lost art as an art never learned. Sigh.

You're probably thinking that no self-respecting adult would order a dish like this and that it's just as well that I have to go to Indiana to indulge in the really good stuff. I hear you.

The life size plaster waiter out front was clearly the model for the menu cover.

This guy's rather lewd and knowing expression is enhanced by the actual tobacco cigarette someone inserted between his lips.

He is no Bob.

Cool Thing: Well, maybe not so cool. Anyway, I started another blog, called Curioscopy which consists of my rather informarl movie and film reviews, which I'll update pretty much whenever I feel like it. Which tends to be shortly after I've seen a movie or read a book. I've been doing this elsewhere for a couple of years. What can I say? I apparently have a massive ego. If you'd like to discuss any of the movies and books over there, I'd love to hear what you have to thing.

Unurban Cafe - Sunday 2/10/2008

Hydra is taking a couple of classes from the amazing Fred Sokolow at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, so I went online and found this near-by coffee house, the Unurban Cafe.

What a fun place. Funky in that oh-so-urban way of the traditional coffee house. You know what I'm talking about. A collection of odd tables (mine was an old sewing machine table) and unique seating options ranging from mismatched chairs to old theater seats to padded benches lining the walls.

There was live music in the front room the whole time I was there, from about 3-5pm. Piano, drums and a really fabulous clarinet player who sat in on the jazzy 1920s style tunes led by the pianist, who also sang. When I left, there was an energetic woman singer on stage maybe in her early 40s, and a couple in their seventies sat poised, ready for their turn, she with a fiddle on her lap. (Or maybe that's a violin in this part of town.)

I sipped my iced coffee in the back room and reworked a handwritten scene for my novel as I typed it into my laptop. I wasn't sure if the place would be laptop-friendly, but boy was it. Outlets were all over the room and although they looked like they might surge at any moment, they were in high demand. In fact, everyone in the back room had a laptop. Even a couple came in and opened up sleek matching Apples back to back as if setting up a game of Battleships.

I just have to tell you about the guy with shoulder length gray hair who carried his ultra-slim laptop inside an old leather suitcase that he'd covered with carpet. He wore dark blue pants and sweater with a rainbow striped shirt underneath and a 4x6 paper sign hung on a string around his neck. It said, "MORE LOVE" in blue block letters.

This is the kind of person I should have the courage to approach, ask for a photograph and understand a little better.

But this is also the kind of person who scares me just a little. So I didn't.

Random shadow shot of my approach to the cafe, laptop in tow. I probably like this one more than I should.

"Why?" you ask. Because out in the boonies we don't have these new-fangled digital billboards. I hadn't seen these before and by the time we encountered our third one I was ready with my camera.

Ad #2.

Ad #3. We also saw three others during our sojourn at one stop light.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Creepy Tomato - Saturday 2/9/2008

I swear I took a photo of this creepy tomato. Did it somehow erase all traces of itself from my SD card?!

Photo to follow. I hope.

If you don't hear from me in a few days, send in a gardener.