Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Dark of the Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Rainy and warm

Here’s my Belmont article: “A Flash of History”

What a wacky day yesterday turned out to be!

When I left for the train, I noticed that a notice had been posted downstairs, stating that the intercom system was being updated, and, as of today, access to our apartments was required for the next ten days, whether or not we were home.

Uh, no. First of all, you have to be a dumbass to word it identically to the demands made by the Evil Developer last year at this time and not think people would get upset. Secondly, under the Tenants’ Rights Laws of this state, we have the right to deny access for a non-emergency situation and set up a mutually convenient appointment. They can ask for a span of days, but we do not have to agree to it. AND we have the right to the names and credentials of those coming in to work in the apartment BEFORE they show up.

I was ready to hit the roof. I am NOT giving up my trip this week, not losing any more work because this building is a total disaster, and they are NOT coming in to the apartment without someone being there. Workman always break things unless you watch them non-stop, PLUS they’d be careless with the doors and the cats might wander out.

But I wrote a polite letter stating they were granted access at any point today or next week (I can have someone at the apartment at all times), but NOT Thursday or Friday. I’ll post a legal STOP notice on the door before I leave tomorrow, and use the Big Lock, for which they don’t have a key. Access for six days out of the requested nine is more than generous, and the state backs me up.

Then, I lost all patience with an acquaintance. This is someone who repeatedly engages in behaviour that is hurtful to others. When it is brought to her attention, instead of apologizing and trying to work out a compromise, she lists excuses. I’m sorry, but none of them give her the right cause harm. On top of that, she then escalates her behaviour towards those around her until they snap and fight back – then starts screaming and crying that they’re “abusing” her. What I can choose to do is not engage on any but the most perfunctory level. We’ve had the conversation five or six times about this, and a few weeks later, she acts like it never happened. Bluntly, at this point, I don’t give a damn why she’s trapped in this pattern – I refuse to be on the receiving end.

I have to cut short my trip to Newport because one of my friends on the show is having a family emergency, and I’m going to cover Saturday and Sunday for her, and possibly the first half of next week, before the NHL Draft. It’s my least favorite track on the show, but it’s an emergency, and I’ll deal.

A friend and I had talked about going to the ballet after day work tonight; the friend flaked, but I decided it’s been years since I went to the ballet, so I’d go anyway. I headed up to Lincoln Center, where ABT is performing at the Met. I got my ticket, then wandered around looking for a place to eat. I settled on Il Violino, not far from the complex, up on Amsterdam Avenue. It’s an older haunt, frequented by locals, not yuppies or tourists. I had two long-time theatre-going babes behind me, who grew up on the Lower East Side, but now live on the Upper East Side, with successful husbands nearing retirement, and using cars and drivers to get everywhere. They discussed all their friends and the bad marriages (“she didn’t even appreciate the condo he bought her in Florida”; “He bought her another mink so she’d stop whining”; “She’s not a loving person. She rates her husband’s worth by how many diamonds he buys her from Tiffany. Is it surprising he looks for affection elsewhere?”). It was hilarious. It was also one of the best meals I’ve had a in a long time – home-made tortellini stuffed with spinach and ricotta, in a cream sauce with salmon and asparagus. Heaven!

After, I wandered to the bookstore (note: it only rained whenever I set foot outside – as soon as I went into any building, it stopped). I bought a couple of yoga books on which I’d had my eye, and headed back to Lincoln Center. I tucked myself in to a covered niche for awhile, reading my book. The wind changed and I started to get wet anyway, so I went inside. The head usher suggested I come in before the house opened and go up to my tier to the bar – you should have seen the looks on the faces of the people who had to actually wait for the house to open!

What can I say? Theatre people recognize each other.

Somewhere along the way, there was some sort of reception, and, as I made my way up the red, circular staircase, a flute of champagne was pressed into my hand. More champagne! Not that I’m complaining!

So I had a glass of champagne while waiting for the house to open, looking out of the enormous arched windows of the Metropolitan Opera House onto the city. I forget how lovely it is (in spite of people moaning that Lincoln Center is boxy and soul-less). Working on Broadway shows, you tend to shy away from being in another theatre on your day off. But the Met is gorgeous. And offers affordable tickets which still have great views.

The ballet was ABT’s Manon, which I had never seen. The sets, costumes, and most of the dance were beautiful. The scheduled lead was sick, so Julie Kent took over, and was exquisite. She’s so fluid and her lines are gorgeous. I thought the corps was sloppy. First, I thought maybe it was choreographed so some dancers would be off the beat, but the more I watched, the more I realized it was just plain sloppy. That’s a disappointment. Everyone has an off day once in awhile, but for the majority of the corps to be that far off all together – no.

As beautiful as it was, as the ballet wore on, I mentally nicknamed it Moron. I found it hard to have any sympathy for the lead characters – three hours watching bad, destructive choices annoys me. I didn’t find their story tragic – I felt the characters had zero learning curve and weren’t very bright. And I quickly lost sympathy for them, as much as I enjoyed the beauty of the actual dancers.

As we exited the theatre, sirens blazed everywhere. All the way down the street, as far as the eye could see, were police cars, sirens screaming. More and more joined them. I didn’t know what it was about, but it couldn’t be good. I ducked back into the Met, and bolted down the stairs to the underground tunnels. I popped up in Avery Fisher Hall like a prairie dog, and made my way to the side exit, as far from the commotion as possible. For all I knew, they would lock down Lincoln Center, and I wasn’t about to be caught in it. I sauntered across the street – very important, head up, New York Woman on the move. If you go with the instincts and try to hurry by with your head down, someone’s going to wonder what you’re up to. I slipped into a crowd of people exiting a restaurant and moved down a few blocks with them (hard to blend in when you’re wearing turquoise). I abandoned them and shot east to skirt Central Park, go along Central Park South, through the yuppie cocaine deals going down at the fountain in front of the Plaza Hotel, and down Fifth Avenue until I could cut across to Grand Central Station. I made it from Lincoln Center to Grand Central in 33 minutes on foot – which, if you know Manhattan, is pretty fast.

And you know what? NOTHING on the news. NOTHING. I’m sorry, but several dozen police cars blocking a street only two blocks from the ABC News station should warrant a little bit of coverage.

Got on the train with a crazy woman and her cat – the cat was not amused; she was fighting on her cell phone with the boyfriend, swearing in front of the nine year old seated across from us, which I thought was inappropriate. She was obviously in love with the drama of it all. If I was that annoyed, I wouldn’t keep picking up the phone every time he called, keep getting into it, and then letting him hang up on me. I’d have turned off the damn phone and called it a day. She kept hauling the cat out of the carrier and I was afraid he’d dart out when the doors opened at a stop. I’m sure she adores her cat, but she made consistently stupid choices about his safety. When I got off at my stop, he glared at me like, “How can you leave me here?”

Good morning’s work on Good Names.

I need to finish prepping for the trip, and then work on City of Lost – or I’ll lose it and the opportunity to complete Script Frenzy. And you all know I don’t like to lose.

I’ll be off line for a few days. I’ll check in when I get back.


Good Names – 28,387 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
28 / 100
Published in: on June 13, 2007 at 9:09 am  Comments (12)  

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy, hot, humid

I re-did the article for FemmeFan, and it was like reliving the whole race. Whew! Needed to take a break after that one!

Did some business/admin work, worked on some press release material that needs to go out, but spent most of the afternoon reading Debbie Macomber’s A Good Yarn, which I enjoyed.

Tried to write myself out of the corner in City of Lost and ended up in a worse one. Urgh!

Got the rest of my advance for Perfectly Plum and the latest check from Confidential Job #1. Love it when I have an excuse to go to the bank to make a deposit!

Read and commented on my friend’s next chapter. E-mailed another friend about geography of a certain cemetery in Edinburgh – turns out he’s going to use the same one in his next novel, but he’s on his way to London and will go there himself when he gets back to answer BOTH of our questions! Look out, Col – I may shoot some questions your way in the interim.

Prepping for my trip to Newport later this week. The woman who can’t swim is learning all about sailing.

Off to the theatre for day work – hopefully I can figure out a way of the mess I’ve made of City of Lost.

The new novel is poking at me. It’s got an emotional depth in areas which scare me, in a way, but that’s probably also why they intrigue me. It will be quite a change of pace after Tracking Medusa.

Re-worked the synopsis for Dixie Dust Rumors. I want to get the logline, one paragraph summary, synopsis and outline polished, change one phrase in the cover letter, and then blast them out next week (once the moon has turned, even though Mercury will be retrograde). The book is in good shape – it’s the surrounding paperwork that needs a quick fix.

I got my next set of contracts from Llewellyn – I’m turning them around immediately and getting them back in the mail before Merc goes Ret on Friday. Because from Friday until July 7, there is no contract signing for this gal!

Nice morning’s work on Good Names. I like the depth of the book, and getting so deep into the time and place. But I’m worried that I’m waiting too long for the murder.
But perhaps this is an historical novel that happens to have a murder in it instead of an historical mystery. I have to let the project pick the genre, and stay true to the story.

Good yoga session this morning, too, which always puts me in a better frame of mind for the day.

Off to catch a train – someone was stabbed on this commuter line day before yesterday, so I’m looking forward to The Hell That is Metro North even less than usual. I’m not really surprised – after all, they let rampaging drunks go up and down the train slugging people on St. Patrick’s Day and did absolutely nothing, so why would someone getting knifed be a surprise? I get cranky when someone pulls a knife on me, so for his own health – he better not.


Good Names — 27,387 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
27 / 100

Monday, June 11, 2007

Monday, June 11, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

What a weekend! Rags to Riches makes history, winning the Belmont Stakes, only the third filly in its history to do so; Tanya won in 1905 and Ruthless won before the turn of the century. Silence Dogood, Enchantal, and Lauren’s Tizzy were all spectacular in their races last Friday. And the Tony Awards were last night.

Time for a nap!

No such luck – far too much to do.

I thought the Tony Awards last night was one of the best productions of this award show in years. Although, if they are going to get the full three hours, they should return the creative awards back into the main televised ceremony. It’s a slap in the face to designers not to give them the same amount of camera time as everyone else, and the design elements are integral to the success of productions. Other than that, it was a polished, professional show. And the Tonys tend to be so much more fun than the film and television award shows, because it’s a smaller, more tightly knit community, where most people are genuinely happy for each other’s successes.

I’ve had more champagne in the last 48 hours than I’ve had in the last 48 months!

So, back to reality today. Lots of writing needs to get done, along with lots of business/admin work. And it’s time to excavate my desk again – I can barely see the computer monitor.

I had a good morning’s work on Good Names. I thought I’d done all this research, but it’s not until I get into the details of each scene that I see what’s missing. So I keep a running list, and then I’ll go back and find all those make-or-break historical, sensory, and technical details that make or break a piece like this, and put it in for the second draft.

I want to get some work done on Tracking Medusa, and I’ve got to figure out a way out of the corner I wrote myself into on City of Lost. The clock is ticking on the month of June, and I have so many deadlines this month.

Got an idea for a new novel and two new plays, so they have to take a number in the queue. Scribbled notes so I won’t lose the thoughts. The material’s much darker than what I’ve done the past few months, but intriguing and I want to explore it further.

First, though, I need to finish and polish my Belmont wrap-up and get that to my editor!

Hope you have a great start to your week.


Good Names
– 26,412 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
26 / 100
Published in: on June 11, 2007 at 9:16 am  Comments (7)  

Sunday, June 9, 2007

Sunday, June 10, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

She won! She won! She won!

We were a part of history yesterday. And I just got home from the celebration.

Rags to Riches beat the boys – though Curlin put up a really good fight, and that horse deserves more respect than I’ve been giving him. She beat them with skill and grace and charm, and her jockey was confident enough in her poise to take her around to the screaming, cheering crowds after her victory, where she calmly and graciously acknowledged the delight of “her people” – the way any Queen should.

It was a beautiful, wonderful, magnificent race – and you’ll just have to read my article on FemmeFan for all the details!

I’m not cashing my winning ticket – I’m keeping it!

Then, later, at the party, someone turned on the Ruffian movie, and we were all bawling our eyes out. At any racetrack, if you talk to the old timers, everyone gets emotional at the mention of Ruffian. She had more impact, in many ways that Seabiscuit or Barbaro. And she’s buried in the infield of Belmont Park – she must have been smiling down yesterday.

What a fabulous day. It was a good race day, all the way around – great racing, and, again, more wins than losses for my particular picks. But Rags to Riches was the best. And I hope they savour this instead of only focusing towards “what’s next”. She made history.

The last filly to win the Belmont Stakes was Tanya in 1905, the year that particular track opened (although this was the 139th running of the actual Belmont Stakes).

My friend from England had to cancel his trip, so that brunch was cancelled, but I’m going to another one (and I get to do my laundry). Since they won’t replaced the machines in the basement that have been submerged under sludge and sewage twice now, merely rinsed them out, I will do my laundry elsewhere. As a friend says, “You don’t want cholera laundry.”

Then it’s back here in the afternoon to change and go to the Tony Awards Party. And somewhere, in all that, I have to do my wrap-up article. And read my friend’s newest chapters for comment.

Hopefully, I won’t need tomorrow as a full recovery day – and I can get some writing done. Because I’ve also got to do more work on the upcoming NHL draft and America’s Cup!

Have a great day!


Published in: on June 10, 2007 at 7:55 am  Comments (3)  


The filly, Rags to Riches, won the Belmont Stakes — the first filly to do so since Tanya won in 1905.

Didn’t I tell you? 😉

Published in: on June 9, 2007 at 6:48 pm  Comments Off on SHE WON!!!  

June 9 Belmont Stakes Day Card

Yesterday’s wrap up is below; the regular Ink in My Coffee post is below that.

What a fantastic day of racing we have ahead of us. And what a pain in the butt to try to handicap!

Race 1:
I like Lord Snowden and Trippi Appeal to at least hit the board at a nice price.

Race 2 – Turf:
Risky Agenda sired by Dynaformer and Stage Dream sired by Theatrical look good here, with Risky Agenda making a late move. Street Bird, sired by Street Cry, is also a strong possibility. She was beaten by Enchantal (War Chant’s filly, who was second in yesterday’s Babae) in her last race, but could beat this company. Prom Party gets blinkers and retains John Velazquez, so she’s worth a look.

Race 3 – Birdstone 100K
Frost Giant, sired by Giant’s Causeway, has had great workouts lately and is my top choice, with AP Arrow as a close second. My old faithfuls Evening Attire and Naughty New Yorker are here, too, and I’m rooting for them to hit the board.

Race 4:
Nothing intrigues me enough to put money on. I’m sitting this one out.

Race 5 – Foresta 50K – Turf:
Daytime Promise is sired by Five star Day. She’s got experience. Beautiful Daniele, an AP Indy filly is inconsistent, but interesting – definitely a paddock decision. Meribel is consistent and a strong contender. Holy Bull’s got a daughter in this one, Dean’s List. If she’s anything like Them There Eyes, she’ll do well. I don’t want to throw out Flow Chart, who won her last two US starts. Sigh. Post-parade decisions on this one.

Sixth Race – True North GII:
I won on Suave Jazz when he ran at Pimlico on Preakness Day, and he’s my top pick here. I think Dashboard Drummer and Keyed Entry are both solid choices. I want to take a look at Bordernaro – he tends to win in batches. He lost a few, but won last time out, so may be starting a streak, if he can hold off Suave Jazz, which I doubt. But he does have Mig on his back, which is always a plus.

Seventh Race – The Just A Game GII – Turf:
My Typhoon and Wait a While will battle this out. They’re worth a boxed exacta. If they wear each other down, Take the Ribbon will steal the race. No, that’s unfair – she’ll EARN the win.

Eighth Race – Woody Stephens Breeders’ Cup GII:
What a tough race to handicap! The magnificent Street Magician is in here and has to be my top choice, especially after his victory at Pimlico on Preakness Day. Bill Badgett’s back with Out of Gwedda and you can’t discount anything he enters. Shortening Teuflesberg from a mile and a quarter down to six furlongs concerns me – he might run out of track before the finish line. Stormello’s gained experience and he’s got the talent. With a good ride, he’s a strong contender. Both Bill Place and Deadly Dealer won’t quit. This is one of the most fascinating races on the card.

Ninth Race – Acorn Grade I:
Dream Rush could do it here. She has the speed, but does she have the stamina to stretch from 7 furlongs to a mile? Princess Janie won her last two starts, but at 6 furlongs. Christmas Kid’s won at a longer distance, so she has the stamina, but will she move early enough? These are my top three picks and they’re still all question marks. This is the widest open race on today’s card.

Tenth Race – Manhattan Grade 1 – Turf:
Steppenwolfer is my favorite here, despite his inconsistency. English Channel is a strong contender and can’t be ignored. Cosmonaut jumped over the mortally injured Mending Fences on Preakness Day and still managed second – he’s the biggest threat in the field. I’m a long term fan of Better Talk Now and think he’ll hit the board, but not win. I want to take a look at the Irish horse Shakis in the paddock.

Eleventh Race – The Belmont Stakes – Grade I:
The filly Rags to Riches across the board.
Hard Spun across the board.
Tiago and Slew’s Tizzy for place and show.

Twelfth Race – Turf:
Iron Goddess looks best here, along with Abbyroar. If Freakazoid gets in, she’s worth a few dollars tossed in her direction.

Thirteenth Race – Turf:
Stately Pegasus, a son of Fusaichi Pegasus, is, of course, my first choice, even though his sire ran on dirt, not turf. He’s stubborn and digs in. Seittam looks poised to make a leap here as well. If Topsail gets in, he’ll round out my top three.

Enjoy a beautiful race day!

Published in: on June 9, 2007 at 8:19 am  Comments Off on June 9 Belmont Stakes Day Card  

June 8 Belmont Card Wrap-Up

Regular Ink in My Coffee post below. Today’s Belmont card handicapped above.

What a day, what a day! It was a fantastic day to be out at the races!

The first race was my look-don’t-bet race. I liked Irish Brian and Flaming Hope on paper, and figured Kiss the Cruiser dropped into the claimer to get a confidence win. Paddock-side, Kiss the Cruiser and Irish Brian looked fantastic, while Flaming Hope didn’t seem particularly interested. Kiss the Cruiser cruised home to a win, which should help in the next race. Irish Brian was second, and Flaming Hope 5th.

Second race:
I wanted to see what Cherna could do. She was the smallest, most delicate-looking horse in this group, with beautiful lines. New York Dixie was my other pick. As they walked the paddock, One in a Romp looked lively and ready, but I didn’t bet on her. I should have. She came in second, with New York Dixie third, and Cherna 6th. I want to watch Cherna – she’s lightly raced and I think she’ll improve. The race was won by Papa’s Kara, who’d danced through a bath right before she was saddled, and was ready to go. Another horse in this race, Marree Magee, was lovely. I didn’t bet on her because thought she wouldn’t win here (she was 7th), but I want to watch her in the future.

Third race:
Lauren’s Tizzy was my one and only pick in this race. She’s a daughter of Tiznow, and she carries herself with a beautiful sense of confidence. Unfortunately, I never made it to the betting window for this race, because we were interviewed by ABC TV about Rags to Riches. Scroll down to the regular “Ink in My Coffee” blog post to hear about the interview and the silly bit they actually put on the air (rather than the actual, legitimate, coherent material we gave them). Lauren’s Tizzy won, in spite of having to go wide, and she’s one to watch.

Fourth race:
My pick if it rained was Unbridled Danger, but it was hot and sunny. Plus, he was scratched. So much for that. My other pick, Eastern Crown, was also scratched. That left me scratching my head, wondering why Ojibway was in the way, figuring he needed a confidence win, much like Kiss the Cruiser did in the first. But he didn’t convince me he was in the mood to win today, and I went with a lovely black horse named The Village Vicar, who came in second. Sweet Grass Creek won, pressuring the other horses from the get go and drawing away from them towards the finish line.

Fifth Race:
I liked Ivory Star in the paddock even more than I’d liked her on paper. She has lovely conformation, and her coloring – light reddish brown, with dark, dark legs – is just beautiful. She had to go wide and still earned second, making me think she can go longer distances than these six furlongs. Sun Shower looked completely uninterested in the face that today was a race and she was supposed to run in it. But I bet her to come in her consistent third, and that’s what she did. Wheeltowin, on first time Lasix, looked comfortable in the paddock, but only managed 8th in the actual race (oh, horrors, are we going in for another string of 8’s? Don’t worry). Lost in the Dark, who was also one of my picks on paper and in the paddock, held tightly to the lead for about three quarters of the race. I hoped she could wire it, but she tired before reading the end. The race was won by Innovator, who looked early on as though she’d given up, but then changed her mind, dug in, and came back to win it.

Sixth Race:
I knew I wanted to take a look at Them There Eyes, because she’s Holy Bull’s daughter. Talk about falling in love. She’s beautiful, she’s graceful, she’s confident. She doesn’t have to throw a diva fit, because she’s got that quiet self-esteem. She knows she’s good. Trytoseeitmyway, Artax’s little girl, also looked good and spry in the paddock, nice and up on her toes. I’d wanted to look at Maria’s Muse to see if she was worth the risk. She still looked uncertain and inexperienced in the paddock, so I decided to wait with her and see how she develops. Clay’s Run, my top pick for the race on paper, was a very unhappy horse in the paddock, needing to come in late, bring her own pony, and still having fits. I don’t know why she was upset, but something truly bothered her, and she felt she wasn’t getting her point across, so she grew more and more upset.. She wore herself out before they even got to the gate, and flattened into tenth. A long shot, Dusty Tack, looked good in the paddock for a last minute bet, but got a bit finicky. Something happened between saddling and the gate to cause her to be scratched. She was in a serious bad mood when they led her back.

Seventh Race:
I really dislike the super short five and a half furlong races that have started to pop up lately. I believe that horses should be bred for stamina as well as speed, instead of only for speed, as seems to be the inclination now. The reason I believe this is that I think if there’s more stamina, there’s less likelihood of a bad step or collision when the horse tires. In any case, I liked both Phone Home and Stonewood here. Paddock-side, the beautiful, copper-colored Devil’s Concierge looked bright and ready, too, so I added her in to the mix. I thought Phone Home would come out on top, but Stonewood did, going wire to wire, in a nice, decisive victory. Unfortunately, Devil’s Concierge came in forth, losing confidence as soon as horses passed her early on.

Eighth Race:
This was my favorite race of the day. Talk about a race in which to fall in love with horses. One look at Enchantal, War Chant’s baby girl, and I was a goner. Her coloring is just like her daddy’s. She’s got a more delicate head and face, but she gives “the look” for which he was so famous. Silence Dogood, my number one pick in this race, is one of the most gorgeous dark bay fillies I’ve ever seen in my life, so dark she looks black in the sunlight. She wasn’t too happy with her bit in the saddling ring, and wanted a bit of negotiation, but I guess she got what she needed, by the way she ran the race. Naseem, Point Given’s filly, unfortunately, was scratched. Both Silence Dogood and Enchantal had fantastic breaks from the gate. There was no way Enchantal was going to be left behind – she wasn’t going to wire it, but she was going to settle in and then strike. Silence Dogood settled back a bit farther than I was comfortable, and when I heard the first quarter was run in 22 seconds and change, I was worried. However, suddenly, there’s Silence, picking off the horses ahead of her. Enchantal’s dug in, not giving up (again, like her daddy). Silence had to swing wide, but it didn’t bother her a bit. She passed Enchantal for a terrific win. When both she and Enchantal pranced back to the stands, they looked as though they wouldn’t mind going around again. Fantastic race, and these are two fantastic fillies. Beautiful, talented, smart, strong. I want to see much more of both of them.

Ninth Race:
Nothing I saw in the paddock convinced me to go to the betting window. Skeeter Girl, a possibility, did well for most of the race, but faded. Fiddler’s Princess stayed firmly in the middle. The race was won by Pont Me To It, who again went wide and won.

10th Race:
I adore Storm in May, so I was going to bet on him no matter what. Marcavelly looked even better in person than on paper, and was my definite top pick. Distorted Reality was ready to go. And, at the last minute, I tossed in a show bet on the beautiful Irish horse codeword. Storm in May and Reptilian Smarts dueled too much for too long, and Storm in May ended up last. Marcevelly grabbed his opportunity as soon as it opened, winning nicely, with Distorted Reality second and Codeword third.

All in all, an excellent day of racing, and a great way to prepare for today. On top of that, I noticed lots of women at the track – not just bored girlfriends trying to get some time with their guys, but women there on their own or with groups of friends because they wanted to be at the track. When I started writing about racing in 1999, most of the time I was one of the few women not trailing around after a beer-slugging, cigar-chomping guy, steadily ignoring “the little woman” trailing behind. It’s great to see women getting more active and interested in the sport.

Checking out the other tracks on which I’d made picks:

Monmouth Park, Race 4: My pick, Furious Ness, won after a duel.
Churchill Downs, Race 5: Drivingmaxandmitzi got too wide and couldn’t make up the ground, finishing a disappointing 4th.
Churchill Downs, Race 6: My Sweet Violet tried too hard too fast and wore out, finishing last.
Churchill Downs, Race 9: Sisyphus was scratched.
Churchill Downs, Race 10: Chekov was not in a hurry today, and finished fifth.

Published in: on June 9, 2007 at 8:15 am  Comments (1)  

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Saturday, June 9, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy, hot, humid

The wrap-up for yesterday’s race card is posted above this; the handicapping for today’s race card is posted above that.

Can I just say yesterday was a wonderful day?

I thought a lot about a recent post of Diana’s, her worry that she remembers wonderful times, but is afraid she doesn’t appreciate them enough in the moment. And I took it to heart, and loved most of the moments of yesterday at Belmont Park!

One of the funny things that happened to us was that we were interviewed by ABC television as part of their “color coverage” pre-Belmont, because the filly Rags to Riches, runs today. We shot about ten, fifteen minutes of material. I talked about why I thought the horse would win, why John Velazquez is the perfect jockey, about racing in general, etc. My friend talked about the fascination of racing and how it deserves more attention. And we did some set-up shots on a near-by bench.

So what do they show? I knew it would be a quick sound byte, but it was a joke I made when I was told we were off-camera and they didn’t use one WORD of the legitimate comments! AND they referred to me as “Devin Alexander”, not “Devon Ellington.” Yeah, they do their research. I even offered to write it down for them.

At least they got FemmeFan right!

People ask me why I use various names in my work – this is one of the reasons – because “they” can’t get it right anyway, so why the heck should they have access to any more of my life than I chose?

On top of it, because the interview took so long, I missed betting on Lauren’s Tizzy – who won!

Another funny thing to watch was what one of our group christened, “The Badda-Bing Girls”. These are two women in their twenties, whose rich guys must have recently bought them some fresh body parts, and they decided to show them off in too-small designer stretch dresses and heels so stiletto the heels looked like horses’ legs (the women’s legs certainly didn’t look that good). They leaned over from their lofty perches to kiss the jockeys in the paddock, giving the jockeys a face full of breast implants, which I’m sure the guys didn’t mind at all. It was hilarious.

Silence Dogood and Enchantal were AMAZING in the 8th race. Astonishing, astounding, wonderful. I fell in love with both of them in the paddock – they looked magnificent. And Enchantal looks so much like her daddy, War Chant. Scroll up and read the details of the race, but let’s just say I am hoarse from cheering for my horses!

Anyway, the three of us had a great time drifting back and forth between the paddock, the betting windows, and the rail. We won more than we lost. We had a cocktail (I had mine early in the afternoon, since I was driving, then switched to water). We had a lovely dinner at Trinity, one of my favorite restaurants out there. We had good conversation, great racing, and we won a decent amount. It was sunny and beautiful until the last couple of races. There were people there, but it wasn’t crowded enough to be uncomfortable. All in all, a perfect day.

I had a drunk driver weaving in front of me on the way home, which was a little scary, but got home in one piece. Laughed my ass off when I saw the interview. I mean, you’ve got to have a sense of humour about all this stuff, right?

Yes, I did find a dress – thank GOD, because I was on television for goodness sake – and, not only that, but it was a dress I MADE several years ago that’s remained one of my favorites.

Oh, and other news . . .I resigned from the Tenants’ Organization and feel like a huge weight has been lifted from me. I don’t feel I can be an effective member of the organization, my schedule is crazy, and I’m tired of the sleepless nights. When you can’t change a situation, you can change your relationship to it, and that’s my choice. I am DONE. What a relief.

Off to the Belmont party. The Belmont wrap-up will be on FemmeFan next week.


Published in: on June 9, 2007 at 8:11 am  Comments (2)  

Friday, June 8, 2007

Friday, June 8, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and warm

My Belmont preview article is here:

Today’s race card is handicapped below this post.

Dog Blog post up here.

I rarely comment on celebrity this and that in the blog because most of the time, I just don’t care. But I am so angry that Paris Hilton whined her way out of serving her sentence. She didn’t pull some harmless prank – DUI is putting lives in danger. And she had two chances to make it right and shrugged them off. The so-called Justice System sent a message that, if you’re rich enough, you can get away with anything you want and not be held accountable. There are thousands of people serving time for lesser offenses because they’re not rich. Martha Stewart was sent to jail because she’s a good businesswoman and dealt with jealous liars, cheats, and thieves who decided to set her up; this spoiled brat chickie puts people’s lives in danger and gets away with it, threatens a nervous breakdown and goes home to order cupcakes. What are they going to do when she does it the next time, and someone dies? Since they’ve now sent the message that her behaviour is perfectly acceptable? Right, a “medical condition”. This is why she gets to go home and throw a party, completely flipping off the Justice System and most of the rest of the country. The level of narcissism and disregard for anything outside her own immediate desires is revolting, and her sense of entitlement that she can get anything she wants has been reinforced. Hmm, let’s see, what does this sound like? Scarily, for the past six years, very similar behavior has been demonstrated in the White House. Considering how George Bush got away with handling Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, are we really surprised? For the last six years, more than ever, if you’ve got the money, you can do anything you want without consequence. That is NOT democracy. It is a perversion of everything our Founding Fathers and Mothers fought to create.

(Dusting off soapbox, putting it aside until next time).

Ran errands, got groceries in (the cats don’t like it when the cupboard is bare), went to the bookstore. I bought it – Sailing for Dummies – so I can learn the basics and the vocabulary and at least have a clue when I get up to Newport. I also bought The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig, which looks like it’s going to be such fun! As far as the sailing, I plan to learn as much as I can and continue learning, using the slant, “This is fascinating; come learn with me.” I’m not going to try to fake being an expert; I’m going to take the readers out on the adventure with me, and hopefully we’ll all learn some interesting things.

Came back to find my next assignment from Confidential Job #1. This one looks really good, which will more than make up for the last one.

In White Plains, we had to go through police checkpoints coming and going. Every car was stopped. They’re looking for someone. I guess there was a shooting at the Galleria Mall’s parking lot. Again. I don’t know what it actually is, but it must have been pretty serious.

Racing Ink for today is posted below. I’ll wrap it up and handicap tomorrow’s card either late tonight or early tomorrow morning, before I head out.

I’m at Belmont Park today – should be fun. If you’re in the neighborhood – come out and play!

The biggest challenge with writing about horse racing for a period of years is to keep it fun, and not succumb to the feeling that I have to be right all the time. It’s horse racing – once they’re in the gate, anything can and does happen. You pick your favorites for whatever reason and hope no one dies. Yes, it’s fun to cash a ticket; but it’s more fun to watch a wonderful race, with so many variables no video game can come close to the excitement.

I’ve hit a wall with City of Lost. Getting this next scene right is crucial, or all of Act II falls apart. And I’m not getting it right. I’m over-convoluting things. I need to strip it down and simplify, simplify, simplify. Even though the play is still on the page, I want to pretend I’m in the rehearsal room and imagine the three dimensions the actor brings to the role and work it through that way. Eventually, I’ll have to just sit down and do it, but I want to let it simmer for a few days, and then hopefully push well into Act II.

I know I won’t get much writing done between now and Monday, other than horse racing articles, but I at least want to put it in the percolator so my unconscious can work on it – while my conscious mind is off playing the ponies!


Racing Ink — June 8 Belmont Card

If you’re looking for the regular “Ink in My Coffee” post, scroll down; it’s the post beneath this one.

If you’re here for the horses, keep reading!

Race 1:
This is a look-don’t bet race for me to see how the track’s going. Irish Brian and Flaming Hope look best to me here. Irish Brian is consistently good at this distance. Kiss the Cruiser drops into Claim Country here; I’m assuming he needs a win for confidence, and I’ll take a look.

Race 2:
I like the lightly raced Cherna due to trainer Michael Dickinson and jockey John Velazquez. I want to see what she can do. New York Dixie is my second choice, hoping she’s improved.

Race 3:
Lauren’s Tizzy looks like the best of this bunch. She’s sired by Tiznow, one of my favorites. She came in second in her last race and won the race previous to that – I hoping she bounces back to a win here.

Race 4:
If it rains, my number 1 pick will be Unbridled Danger, who’s done well in the slop. Otherwise . . .Ojibway is interesting – seems to be an odd fit here in a claimer unless he needs a confidence win. Worth a look. Eastern Crown’s been inconsistent, but won at this distance at Aqueduct, so also worth a look.

Race 5 – Turf:
Sun Shower has come in 3rd in her last three races, all at this distance. I’d like to see her do better here, but I’m not confident that she can. Wheeltowin is First-Time-Lasix, which always requires consideration. Ivory Star looks good, but the constant jockey changes bother me. Lost in the Dark is interesting because she has Danzig in her pedigree. On paper, I’d go with Ivory Star, Lost in the Dark and Sun Shower as 1-2-3, with an additional show bet on Wheeltowin. I prefer not to make a final decision until I see them in the paddock – especially with fillies and mares.

Race 6 – Turf:
Clay’s Run looks the best to me here, having come in 2nd in her last race and 3rd in the race prior. I like her trainer/jockey combo too – Leo O’Brien and John Velazquez. If Maria’s Muse grew up a bit since her last race, we might get a chance to see how talented she is. Them There Eyes is a gifted daughter of Holy Bull’s, and she came in second in her last race at a longer distance. I’m interested in Trytoseeitmyway due to Artax as the sire, but Clay’s Run beat her last time out.

Race 7:
At 5 ½ furlongs, sneeze and you’ll miss it. Stonewood’s been consistent and has the most experience. But Phone Home won the last two sprints, both as this distance and 6 furlongs, and retains John Velazquez. I favor Phone Home, but will include Stonewood and probably do an exacta.

Race 8: The Babae
My number one choice all around in this race is Silence Dogood. I hope her name comes from a desire to honor Benjamin Franklin, and not just because her connections like the movie National Treasure! I think she’s the most talented horse in this field. We’ve got daughters of two of my favorite horses in this race, too, and I’ve got to throw some cash at them. Naseem is Point Given’s daughter, and I want to see how much she resembles her Daddy. She hasn’t won since September, which concerns me, and I don’t like the musical jockeys played across her back. Point Given needed a specific jockey to be his best – Gary Stevens, in his case. Naseem might not yet have found her perfect match. But she’s Point Given’s daughter, and I’ll support her. Enchantal is War Chant’s daughter and she has Edgar Prado as her jockey. She won her last race, came in second the race prior, but was beaten by Sun Shower (one of my picks in Race 5) three races back. I think Prima Ballerina is talented, but not sure she can beat this company. I don’t want to throw out the French horse, Out of Time, especially since she’s on first-time Lasix. But her wins have been at a shorter distance.

Race 9 – Turf:
Maybe Skeeter Girl. Maybe Fiddler’s Princess. Maybe I’ll sit this one out and have a cocktail.

Race 10 – The Hill Prince Grade III Turf:

I love Storm in May, although I felt the Derby was not the right spot for him, and that he would be more successful at Belmont and Saratoga. Here he is, and I’m going to throw money at him. Marcavelly’s beaten several horses in this field, and is sired by the wonderful Johannesburg. Distorted Reality’s the most consistent of the bunch, although he was beaten by Marcavelly last time out. But he does retain John Velazquez. These are my top three.

A quick spin around the other tracks have some interesting picks:

Monmouth Park, Race 4: Furious Ness
Churchill Downs, Race 5: Drivingmaxandmitzi
Churchill Downs, Race 6: My Sweet Violet
Churchill Downs, Race 9: Sisyphus
Churchill Downs, Race 10: Chekov

Stop by again on Saturday morning for the Friday wrap-up and my picks for the entire Belmont Stakes Day undercard. Then join me on FemmeFan next week for a Belmont Stakes wrap-up.

Happy Racing!


Published in: on June 7, 2007 at 1:08 pm  Comments Off on Racing Ink — June 8 Belmont Card  

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Sunday, June 3, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Hot, humid, storm/flood threat

I’m certainly glad the alleged plot to blow up JFK and the surrounding neighborhoods was foiled. I didn’t even know those fuel lines ran under there.

We’re supposed to be hit with what’s left of Tropical Depression Barry today – and yes, more flood warnings. I ran my errands, moved the car to a safe place, and am boiling water in preparation. I still have batteries, etc. left. Yeah, nothing like boiling water in 90 degree weather to REALLY get you going. The thought of a THIRD flood in three months just depresses the hell out of me. I know several dozen people in the neighborhood who haven’t been able to get back into their homes since the first flood, back in March.

Good session on City of Lost. Scene 3 is nice and tight, and the tension between Hugo and Leila works, as does her surprise reveal at the end of the scene.

Belmont preview article done and out, and I mention an interesting two year old I saw win a race on Friday that I want to keep an eye on, for both the Breeders’ Cup Juvy this fall and the Kentucky Derby next year.

Read my friend’s latest chapter and sent back comments.

No work yesterday on Tracking Medusa, and, because of the flood warnings, not enough work on Good Names this morning to update the word meter.

My friend hopped a train out from the city yesterday; he missed the first train because of a call from a director with whom he’s working, but had no problems with the second train. I picked him up at the station, and we went out to Playland, the Art Deco amusement park out here, originally opened in 1928. He saw some interesting architectural detail he’s interested into incorporating into a current design, so we took photographs, and then had lunch at Seaside Johnny’s, where we brainstormed on two projects he wants to write – which, the more we brainstormed, the more we started to think that maybe they’re really two facets of the same piece.

Back in the car, and we drove up to Bridgeport to the Barnum Museum. I didn’t realize that PT Barnum had served as the mayor of Bridgeport for a year; nor did I realize that his exquisite, palatial home Iranistan (which looks like a fantasy out of The Arabian Nights or something) was located in the area. I definitely want to read a good biography about him; unfortunately, I wasn’t happy with anything in the museum. Remember my frustration in Philly? No decent biography of Betsy Ross, even at the Betsy Ross House? There’s more info available on Barnum, but I felt a similar frustration.

Afterwards, I drove him up to Watertown, CT, so he could pick up his jeep and go back to his studio, where he’s working all weekend. I have to download the photos we took (they’re all on my camera) and email them to him today.

I finally got to watch hockey last night — Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final between Anaheim and Ottawa.  It was a terrific game, and I was delighted by Ottawa’s 5-3.  In this series, I’m rooting for Ottawa (and not just because I know the team’s owner because he also owns race horses)!  Part of me feels guilty — someone key in the Anaheim organization was very helpful when I first started researching Clear the Slot.  But I just prefer Ottawa’s composition and style of play overall.

I’m looking forward to Monday night’s game!

I’m stressing about dress for the coming week. I have my dress for the Belmont party; I have my dress for the Tony Awards party; I have my dress for the brunch on the morning of the Tony Awards. But I’m not happy with my choices for the Friday at the race track. I looked around quickly and can’t find anything I like. I don’t have time to make anything by Friday, not with everything else going on this week (and especially not if it floods again and there’s no power and I can’t run the sewing machine). I’ll have to ransack my closet and be creative. I rarely worry about what to wear, so I’m wondering what I’m REALLY worrying about and using clothing as an excuse.

Then, I took a corner in the hallway too quickly and hit the edge of one of my wrought iron bookcases, tearing a gash in my thigh. It doesn’t need stitches; once I stopped the blood, I put on one of my herbal concoctions and it’s starting to heal. Good thing I no longer wear mini-skirts! But I’ll have to be careful – I don’t want to wade through dirty floodwater with an open wound.

Let’s just hope the meteorologists are being overly cautious, and it’ll just rain hard for a few hours and be done.

Off to download photos and then try to get some writing done. And some studying for the Cup Races.

Unfortunately, going back to bed until the storm is over is not an option.


City of Lost — 2,747 words out of 20,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

2 / 20

21 pages out of 120 pages

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

21 / 120

Published in: on June 3, 2007 at 10:32 am  Comments (4)  

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Saturday, June 2, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy, warm, humid

Intense day yesterday. It’ll take me a couple of days to download the most appropriate photos and post them in another “Process” Sequence, but some of it I can talk about here.

Missed my first train because of computer problems, but caught the next one. Headed up Madison Avenue on the bus – really trying to LOOK at Madison Avenue, instead of thinking about everything else.

Realized Justin doesn’t have to get off at the 86 St. subway stop unless he’s taking an express – which he probably would, given the circumstances.

The admission buttons they hand out when you pay admission change color every day. Yesterday’s color matched my dress.

Walked through the renovated Greek and Roman galleries – found some great stuff, including the perfect place for the Medusa head. Wandered over to the Sculpture Court and scouted out that scene. Then I figured out how to get the chase scene going from the Sculpture Court through the Medieval Gallery and threaded through the Gift Shop into the Egyptian wing.

I choreographed the chase sequence at the Temple of Dendur and came up with an unusual way to get them out.

Unfortunately, as I got to the Hatshepsut gallery, where a pivotal scene takes place – it’s closed for renovation. So I had to trace back and backtrack some of the other choreography with the map.

I walked it several times; in at least one revision, I’ll overwrite the scene with too many details and then cut, cut, cut to get the tension I need.

By then, I figured I deserved a break, so I visited the Poiret exhibit. Poiret was a couturier in France in the early 20th Century. The exhibit was one of the most beautiful, astonishing things I’ve ever seen in my life. I was literally vibrating with excitement in there. And, while I wasn’t about to lay out the big bucks for the full catalogue and drag it around Manhattan, I bought a smaller book with some beautiful photographs. And a history of the Oxford English Dictionary from the sale table.

Walked across Central Park, drinking lots of water, because I found the heat and humidity oppressive. I’m a snow and ice girl. Arrived at the Museum of Natural History to discover that the tickets for the Mythic Creatures exhibit are timed – and I couldn’t get in until just before closing. No, thanks. A big disappointment, but I’ll have to plan better.

Hopped in to the NY Historical Society store, hoping to pick up some books, but they didn’t have what I need. I’ll have to poke through the archives when I get a chance. And when I buy some pencils.

Walked down the West Side for a bit to 72nd Street, then entered the Park, walked past Strawberry Fields, and cut back across Central Park to the East Side. I was feeling the heat pretty intensely by this point, and trying to stay as hydrated as possible.

I emerged from the Park, walked over to Madison, and back down to the entry to Grand Central Station and home.

In other words, I walked, literally, miles today, leaving me hot, sweaty, and tired.

Fortunately, the train was air conditioned.

I rested up a bit, did some work on the computer, and got back to work.

Worked on the pre-Belmont article. It HAS to go out today. Got an email from an editor reminding me I promised her pitches last week (yikes) and a request for another editor, so I have some serious brainstorming to do, fast.

Wrote the second scene of City of Lost, where Leila gets a good scare. That’ll be a fun scene for the actress.

Rewrote chapters 2-6 of Tracking Medusa, incorporating the choreography/geography I came up with earlier in the day. Continued on and finished Chapter 7. Sent everything to my friend for critique. There’s some shaky material in there, and I look forward to her suggestions. Much to my chagrin, once it was all sent, I realized that I’d given everything in the chase sequence to Gwen and Justin, and not enough to the chasers! In spite of the choreography, I only wrote Gwen and Justin’s” ography”, which makes it lopsided. I need to give the chasers more interesting things to do so that there’s actual tension and it’s not just a walking tour of the Met! What I’m trying to do is almost the anti-chase sequence – instead of taking everything out and breaking it, part of their purpose is to do the chase sequence without disturbing anything. In fact, they’re being paid not to.

Decent morning’s work on Good Names. I’m setting the scene for the murder.

A friend is coming out from the city today, and we’re going off to have adventures. I am so sore from all the walking yesterday – thank goodness I’m going to acupuncture Monday.


Good Names
– 22. 537words out of est. 100,000 words

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

22 / 100

Tracking Medusa – 19,473 words out of est. 90,000 words

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

19 / 90

City of Lost – 2,035 words out of 20,000 words

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

2 / 20

14 pages out of 120 pages

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter

14 / 120