Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Hot, humid, cloudy

My article on the Alinghi victory in the America’s Cup is here.

My articles on some of the summer racing, including my questions about the use of cobra venom is here.

I’ve been terribly unproductive this morning, and I have to fix that before I leave for acupuncture. I have a lot that needs to get done before I head out, a lot that needs to get once I get back.

I’ll be offline for the next few days while I head to Maine. I’m purposely staying disconnected while I’m there. And I hope to get some work done.

Day work was okay yesterday. At least the theatre was air conditioned. They had a put-in for a new cast member, so things were a little busier than on a usual Tuesday.

I finished reading The Girl Next Door. It was fun, for the most part. The whole catching-the-stalker thing happened off-stage, told in a couple of paragraphs in narration, which didn’t work for me, especially since I never felt the protagonist was in any actual danger. And the whys of the stalking were never addressed. The actual stalker never had any scenes with anyone or any dialogue, so he didn’t seem real, and, as a reader, I neither believed in him nor cared. So that was unsatisfying. But the bulk of the book was lots of fun, and I liked the characters a lot.

Other than that, nothing interesting to say: working on the deadlined articles; pitching so I’ll have enough money coming in for the rest of the summer; working in the fiction here and there.

Annoyed by two potential clients, who have definitely been bumped off the list. One of them is “hiring” someone to review products and websites. They want a signed contract from me in order to consider me for the job – I think not. Plus, my “pay” is 70% of the final bid of any price of a product I review that I decide to sell on eBay or Amazon.

No.

The other place said they’d review my samples and credentials, but, in the meantime, urged me to BUY a publication that appears to be their guidelines that “was a great help to their contributors”. Uh, no. YOU pay ME. You want me to conform to guidelines, you send them to me. You don’t expect me to buy them.

Another no.

The sad thing is, there will be people dumb enough to agree to the conditions both these so-called “employers” set.

Got to get going. Clock’s ticking away, and I have deadlines to meet, before I head out.

I have a chance to work on what could be an exciting project, but I have to weigh the pros and cons. It could take awhile to get off the ground, and I’m not sure that “while” fits in with my schedule right now. But it would be fun, and very different from anything I currently do. I’ll think about it this weekend.

Have a great rest of the week, everyone!

Devon

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Saturday, July 7, 2007
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Sunny, hazy, hot

Enough retrogrades for you? Venus went Retrograde on Thursday. At least Mercury turns direct on Monday.

Lots of catching up to do.

The article for races 3-6 of the America’s Cup is here.

So Scooter Libby’s getting off. Once again, this administration shows that if you’re an FOC (Friend of Cheney) you can do anything you want without consequence. The absolute lack of consequences for anyone in the administration has got to stop. These people are our EMPLOYEES, not our kings. We pay their salaries. We (usually) get to elect them – although the “election” that put this Bush in office originally wasn’t a genuine election – when the Supreme Court orders the vote count to stop and hands the election to a candidate, it’s screwed up.

What happens at the top trickles down, and one reason there’s so much more person-to-person violence (such as spousal killings, child murder, etc.) is because the people at the top of the food chain make it clear that there are no consequences to their actions.

On another infuriating note: On Staten Island, a tiny Yorkie terrier was shot because he stood on his porch and barked. This was a family member, not a piece of property. I think the shooter should have his throat slit and be hung upside down to bleed out from the nearest tree. Read the studies – someone who murders/tortures an animal often moves up to doing the same to a child, and then moves up to killing adults. There have to be strong consequences for people who come in and commit murder, whether the victim has two legs or four. Especially when it’s an animal or a child, who can’t defend itself.

Day work was okay on Tuesday, although I started feeling a bit unwell towards the end of it. Managed to get home and prepare to leave for the trip, although I was not looking forward to driving while feeling ill. On top of all that, many places started having fireworks displays on Tuesday, rather than Wednesday, so there were time when I felt I drove through combat zones. Not my idea of a good time.

But, since I didn’t have to worry about watching any more races immediately, part of these past days have been a self-imposed writer’s retreat, and that’s always a good thing.

I managed to get some work done on Good Names. The process is so interesting – Good Names is an historical mystery, set in a slower time (1903). The pace of the book is slower, unfolding gently, with building urgency. And I find that about 1000 words/day is good for that. Tracking Medusa, which is more of an action/adventure/mystery with some romance tossed in, is contemporary, much more quickly paced – and I find myself writing chunks anywhere from 1500-2500 words at a time. The project directs the pace, and each project has its own pace. I have to remind myself that this book’s slower pace doesn’t necessarily mean I’m disconnecting from it. Although I need to do some character charts – the intricacies of the web of connections is getting difficult to store in my head. I’m looking forward to getting back to Tracking Medusa later today.

The 32nd America’s Cup Challenge is barely over, and the preparations are starting for the 33rd. The challenger stepped up almost as soon as Alinghi got off the boat, but now Alinghi’s dragging its heels regarding dates, venues, etc. I asked the questions to find out the “whys” although I suspect it all boils down to money, and trying to get as much as possible for the Defenders. I think the process is fascinating, and it will be wonderful to watch the process from the beginning. I have a lot to learn about the sport – and at least I KNOW I have a lot to learn about the sport, and I’m looking forward to having my readers grow in the sport with me. And maybe attract some new readers, as I learn more and more about the sport. I was sorry to read that the BMW Oracle Racing Blog will stop as of July 11 – it’s such a terrifically written site, and I’ve learned so much from it (and by bugging the writer/editor with questions). I’d hoped it would stay up so we could get a view of the process of putting together the next American team.

The party on the 4th was lovely. Huge – about 475 people, great food, good wines. It was moved into tents, because the weather was a bit wonky. With a group that big, you get some people who are interesting and terrific, and some who are not. I don’t care how much is in your bank account, you moron, I care how you live your life. Plus, we’re in the 21st Century, for crying out loud, and there are still far too many girls (because WOMEN have more sense) whose entire mission in life is to find a rich husband, so the only work they have to do is in the bedroom. As we used to say in the 80’s, “gag me with a spoon”. Trading sex for money is still prostitution, even if there’s a gold band involved.

However, there were also plenty of intelligent, interesting people there from all walks of life. Some of them travel quite a bit – and they’re the kind of people who are interested in things that are different, rather than just trying to re-create their comfort zone wherever they are. Several of them travel regularly to Chile, and it sounds intriguing.

Big screens were up so we saw the fireworks in DC, New York, and Boston. Boston’s was great – I mean, they had Craig Ferguson as the host and Mellancamp performing – plus, instead of trying to do something all serious and holy, they were just having fun.

I wrote the first article of the nine accepted by a particular publication, polished it, and sent it off. I sent some questions to the New York Yacht Club for my wrap-up of Challenge 32/Lead-in of Challenge 33. I started my restaurant article and shot off a few questions to the owner. I’d prefer to get answers from him, but, if I have to, I’ve got enough to do the piece without his input.

I’m getting addicted to working on the go. I think I’ll have to invest in a wi-fi laptop shortly, instead of just borrowing one. And the little printer – a mobile office is a beautiful thing. Although there are still plenty of times when I simply turn off the phone and am “unavailable”.

Thank goodness I could work on the run, though, this week. I’m working on multiple articles simultaneously; there are rumors and all sorts of potential stories flying about, and I want to get as many facts and confirmations, clarifications or denials as possible before I have to turn in my work at deadline.

Such as a horse trainer under investigation because cobra venom was found in his barn’s refrigerator at the track. In addition to being a banned substance, for freak’s sake, it’s COBRA VENOM. But, before I completely fly off the handle about it, I need to do more research. Especially since none of the vets I contacted would discuss it, even off the record.

Worked on another horse racing article, due tomorrow, after today’s stakes races go off. Worked on the final 32nd America’s Cup race article, also due today (it still needs a polish).

I started to catch up with my clip file – managed to get copies of all the FemmeFan articles which have appeared so far this year.

So much for those fantasies of sitting in the sun overlooking the water, reading an Edith Wharton novel!

Coming home sank me into a deep case of the blues. I’m not happy here, it’s not conducive to my work or my life, but pulling off the move is more obstacle-filled than I anticipated. I need to employ patience, but that’s never been a virtue of mine. I like to jump in with both feet and DO it.

A kazillion errands to do today, all over the map. Better hop to it. Unfortunately, I have a migraine, which will slow me down.

Also had to give Kristen King (InkThinker) the update for my participation in the InkThinker 2007 Query Challenge. Thus far, I’ve sent 63 queries. 29 were acceptances, and 13 have been published to date. Not a bad average. My pitching has grown smoother and more precise over the past few months. I’m sure there’s an article in that!

I’m supposed to attend a Live Earth party tonight. From yachts to grass roots activism, all in the course of a couple of days. I don’t know if I’m up for another evening in a large group of people I don’t know. But . . .

I LOVE being a freelance writer!

Devon

Good Names – 31,737 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
31 / 100
(31.0%)

Alinghi Won!

Just in case you’re wondering, the Swiss team Alinghi successfully defended the America’s Cup, crossing the finish line ONE SECOND before Emirates Team New Zealand.

It was a fascinating race — but you’ll have to wait for the article! 😉

Off I go, to write, party, and who knows what — I’ll check back in after a few days, with quite a few stories!

Published in: on July 3, 2007 at 6:45 pm  Comments (4)  

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Sunday, July 1, 2007
Last Day of Full Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

I can’t believe it’s July.

Thanks for the dream interpretations. However, I noticed something interesting in them: I was very specific to say it was a COLLEAGUE and all of you jumped to the conclusion it was a FRIEND. The person in the dream was most definitely not a friend (although some of the machinations are done under the pretense of friendship) – in fact, it’s someone with whom I’ve been very exasperated lately. I thought the fact that that particular person was involved in the dream was interesting.

Both shows yesterday were fine. Nothing exciting to report – we came in, flipped people in and out of clothes all day, went home. The usual petty annoyances, but nothing worth holding on to for more than a minute.

Between shows, we went to Luxia, on W. 48th St. It’s under new management, but the menu is still interesting, and the food excellent. We sat in the protected garden out back – always nice to find places like that tucked away in the city. It helps relax on a long day.

Did some work on the article – will have to spend a lot of time on it when I get back from the theatre tonight, since I have to get it out before I go to bed.

Did some research on another client project – not enjoying it at all. The people involved are snobs – without the talent, skill, or the intelligence to back it up. Fortunately, it’s a “once and done”, and I never have to deal with them again. Or, let me put it another way – if I ever do, my price will go up in proportion to the aggravation.

It was absolutely pouring with rain when I got off the train at midnight. Of course, none of the meteorologists had predicted it. But I always carry my umbrella in my kit bag, so it was all good. I still think they should only get paid when they’re right.

Alinghi won yesterday’s race; if they win today, it’s all over and they’ve successfully defended the America’s Cup. Of course, since I want it to go the full nine races, I’m slightly favoring New Zealand today. For the most part, though, I’m simply enjoying watching the most highly skilled participants in this sport compete against each other.

I have to jump in the shower and then watch the next race. I’m glad this is my last show today – the rest of them have a show tomorrow instead of the usual Monday dark day, a show Tuesday, and get Wednesday off, then a double on Thursday and back to the regular show schedule. Tomorrow, I’ll be having a lovely lunch at a restaurant about which I’m writing, and I have a big writing week ahead of me. And a big party on the Fourth.

Devon

Friday, June 29, 1007

Friday, June 29, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy, hazy, humid

Condolences to my friend BK Birch, for the loss of her dog. There are no words to make the loss of such a valued family member any easier.

Spooky update: the stray cat who was our guest during the last flood, then spirited way, then ran away from his new home was found, after two months. Supposedly, he’s in rough shape – I lent his owner a cat carrier (again) so he could take the cat to the vet. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’ll be okay.

I’m suffering from serious Flood Fatigue. Between the constant flooding and the developers crawling all over the building trying to un-home 100 families, it’s been a tough fight for the past two years. However, succumbing to the sometimes bone-crushing depression the fights bring on is not an option. It doesn’t get anything done. It’s also difficult to house-hunt when it’s too dangerous to leave the present premises unattended. I’m searching for a way to break the cycle; I have a few ideas, so it’s all down to trial and error. Unfortunately, I simply don’t have room to make errors.

On the Cup Challenge front, Emirates Team New Zealand lodged a protest against Alinghi after Race 4 because it is their belief Alinghi violated one of the rules. The press were downright gleeful (gave them something to do on a day without racing), and I spent several hours reading hundreds of pages of coverage. Some of it was quite entertaining; much of it made me roll my eyes. I’ll discuss it in more detail in the next FemmeFan article. In any case, the protest was reviewed and then dismissed. I’m sure conspiracy theorists will have a field day. I’m much more interested in the intent and the psychological politics of the whole thing than the actual protest.

One of the things I enjoy most about what I do (writing) is that I get to enter many worlds I might never get to experience otherwise. Whether it’s ice hockey or thoroughbred racing or sailing or theatre or writing a restaurant review or doing a profile of someone who’s made a positive difference – I’m dealing with intelligent, interesting, dedicated, skilled individuals. It makes the contrast between the vapid, self-styled celebrities and “Reality” television” even sharper.

Started background research for the profiles, and started sending out interview requests. Worked on the article that’s due next week for the other publication. Dealt with flood crap. Dealt with a migraine.

Got to the theatre; did the show. Many of the bodices of the costumes are boned in order to give a shape (a corset within the garment rather than a separate layer) and last night was the night for bones to fight their way out through fabric and jab singers and dancers in the ribs. Many pins with red ribbons as markers were put in for today’s stitching call!

Managed to catch the 11:10, and the train was close to being on time, so I got home a little after midnight. Thursday’s rains weren’t as bad as Wednesday’s, so we managed to avoid another flood.

Up early this morning to watch Race 5 of the Cup Challenge. What a race! New Zealand was aggressive at the start, but a tear in a sail compounded by the second sail going up getting tangled in the torn sail made for quite a dramatic day. I was astonished at how quickly NZ recovered (like when there’s a problem backstage – you have to drop it and move on, or you lose the act), and Alinghi beat them by only 19 seconds. Quite exciting.

So Alinghi’s won 3, New Zealand 2. Of course, I’d like to see it go the full nine races.

Ran some errands, and am now back to do an hour or two of article writing before heading back out to the theatre. The excitement of the race certainly perked up my whole day.

I’d like about a twenty minute nap before heading out, but somehow, I get the feeling that’s not going to happen.

Devon

PS to ME Ellis – Blogspot won’t let me comment on the blog, but I do still stop by – just can’t say anything! Thanks for coming by here – you’re always welcome to come and “talk” as long as you like!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thursday, June 28, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Flash flood watch/hot/humid/rainy

Yes, we had another flood yesterday – the third flood in four months. If the various municipal agencies don’t stop TALKING and start DOING, there are going to be riots. People have had enough.

Fortunately, it wasn’t as bad as the past two floods in March and April. The brook overflowed its banks, and I think there was only about two or three feet of water – instead of nine or ten. But again – no warning. How hard is it to push a damned button and have the sirens go off?

I was at the show, but fortunately, my mom was around and got the car out as the water rose on the street. She got it up to the train station (the highest point in our town) and sloshed back home. And, it wasn’t bad enough to lose power – yet. We have another round of storms coming through today.

I managed to get home, and ran into a friend who’s also a neighbor and managed to catch up. The downed trees were the biggest problem – about two blocks up the street, some poor person has a tree resting on his roof.

Three inches of rain fell in one hour.

Yesterday, I managed to see the America’s Cup Challenge Race 4 before I had to leave for the show. Very exciting race. The more I watch, the more fascinated I am with the balance the tacticians have to strike between concentrating on their own boat and trying to outthink and respond to what the other boat does. Alinghi won this race, so it’s now 2-2. That made me happy – because I want this Challenge to go the full nine races!

Shows were fine. We had some technical problems in the second show, with scenery not moving properly or not moving at all, which added some excitement. But it all worked out and we kept going.

A friend and I had dinner at Sosa Borella, the Argentinean place around the corner from the theatre. Excellent, as always.

I’m exhausted – the Flood Fatigue layers all the other exhaustion. But I need to get to work on those articles and also write up the races I’ve watched the past few days, so I can see where I need to do some more research, get a couple of quotes, et.. I think I’ll be able to watch/write about two more races before this article is due.

I also want to get some work done on Good Names and Tracking Medusa. The flood put the kybosh on City of Lost – there’s no way I can focus and push through 10K when I have to deal with yet more flood crap on the home front.

I need about two weeks where all I have to do is sleep and read good books. However, that’s not going to happen any time soon, so I’m going to have to deal. Show-wise, the schedule lightens up after this week, which will make the writing easier; but I also have to step up the house hunt.

Devon

Published in: on June 28, 2007 at 7:22 am  Comments (9)  

Monday, June 25, 2007

Monday, June 26, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny, hot, humid

It did not start out well.

I managed to get my hair cut first thing on Friday morning. And then, I went to the bank, to get my money for my trip. Only, the show – which pulls in a million dollars per week – hadn’t bothered to deposit my direct deposit. AGAIN. I had the receipt that payroll had gone in. But the money wasn’t released. AGAIN. This is aside from the fact that our pay day is on Thursday, and, by law, the money is supposed to be available on Thursday and is never available until Friday. Except on the weeks where they can’t be bothered to deposit it until Monday.

I was not amused. And I left a few stern messages making that very clear.

Both the law and the union contract make payment terms very clear, and I’m sick of the hit show, which can afford to pay people on time, deciding that payment dates are optional. I’m tired of their excuses and passing the buck. It needs to be fixed, and there need to be consequences when they continue to fuck up.

You know what the show’s response is? “If you don’t like it, don’t have direct deposit.” WTF????

Time to call in the union rep and the Department of Labor.

Why does EVERY effing thing have to be a fight? Why should I put in the work, the hours, and the pain if they’re not going to pay me on time as contracted?

I’ve had direct deposit with many organizations over the years, and this is the only time I’ve ever had a problem. And, of course, they are raking in tons of money.

Reworked some of Act I on City of Lost and this time, really did finish the act. Not happy with it. Not happy with the whole darned piece. I seriously doubt there’s anything salvageable in it. At this point, I’m trying to push through to salvage my ego. In order to get 20K, I have to go far beyond a logical page count/running time for a full-length play. That, Sylvia, is why it annoys me so much that Script Frenzy is being run by word count. Plays and screen plays are gauged by running time.

The problem is that I can’t write a play just to write a play. I have to write a play when it demands to be written – as a play.

The Columbus Blue Jackets ran a hell of a good draft, and they’re good hosts. Night and day from the way Nashville ran the ’03. I got to cheer for the guys I’d picked for my 5 Year Watch List – and, as I always do, added some additional players to the list. I’m going to try to get some interviews with them over the coming weeks and months, as well as catch up on my past years’ picks. I’ve been writing about hockey for five years now – can you believe it? And my first batch of draft picks are five years further into their careers – so I should do final interviews with them at the beginning of this season and wave bye-bye (though there are several to whom I’ll remain a loyal fan for as long as they play).

The America’s Cup Challenge began on Saturday morning, in Valencia. Since I was obviously not in Valencia, but covering it from Stateside, I was happy to have live stream video via computer.

At one point, I’m dealing with the minute-by-minute of the NHL Draft while still watching the Cup race on live stream video. My head was spinning.

I had to make sure that I didn’t mistakenly put Kyle Turris on a yacht instead of with the Phoenix Coyotes or suddenly announce that Brad Butterworth was the newest New York Ranger instead of skippering Alinghi.

I was even happier that I’d only had a single glass of wine at the very late after-first-round dinner or I would have gotten seasick simply watching the race onscreen. The water was a bit choppy.

Alinghi, the defending champion, won the first race by 35 seconds. However, on Day 2 of the races, Emirates Team New Zealand took over the lead and won that race by 28 seconds. Thrilling stuff, really! Next race is on Tuesday, and I can hardly wait. You’ll just have to read the article for the details (it should be out mid-week). I’m excited by the sport, and I want to track several teams over the next few years to see how they put together the next challenge.

Nothing like doing articles on the run. My head’s spinning. Two very different sports and two articles in three days – it was my own challenge, and I’m glad that I rose to it. I’m tired in a good way, but who knew that being a spectator could be so exhausting?

I have to admit, I’m getting addicted to the whole America’s Cup event. It’s fascinating. It’s beautiful, with the boats and the physical skill, but what I really find intriguing is the tactics. I want to learn more about the internal dynamics of putting something like this together.

I’ll be adding some blogs and links to my list at the right today and tomorrow regarding the Cup.

I thought I’d get ever so much reading and other writing done during this time. Ha! As you can see by the word counts below, that didn’t really happen. It was difficult to switch out of race yachting and ice hockey mode into the conniving of my characters in Reykjavik for City of Lost, the upcoming murder of the governess in 1903 New York in Good Names, or even the banter as Gwen and Justin figure out the secrets in Tracking Medusa.

A magazine asked me to pitch some ideas, so I need to get to work on that this week (the more writing work I book, the less time I have to spend at the show after this full week). I want to come up with some interesting ideas and hopefully they’ll hire me for more than one assignment.

I also have to polish my Literary Athlete column and get it off to my editor, before hitting City of Lost and trying to make a run down this final stretch. I said I’d do Script Frenzy, I’m going to hit 20K, dammit, even if I have to cut a lot of it later. I doubt I’ll do it again, though, unless they change the silliness of word count for running time

And, because of all the stresses here at the building and now, too, with payment problems at the show, I was in tears at the prospect of coming “home”. This no longer is home to me, and I have to get it together to settle myself someplace that IS home, MY home, where I can rebuild the life I want and deserve – the life built around writing and traveling. Not stuck dealing with people who have no respect for anyone else and go out of their way to cause harm. The friction between the two parts of my life is getting more intense, and it’s time to cut away what’s not working. Which means both the show and living in this building.

Devon

Good Names –29,012 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
29 / 100
(29.0%)

City of Lost — 10,800 words out of 20,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
10 / 20
(50.0%)

92 pages out of 120 pages

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
92 / 120
(76.7%)