Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and hot
Festival of Salacia and Sulis

Yesterday was fun. Different than I expected, but fun. I was out of the apartment early, walked east on Chestnut Street to the historic district. Never made it to Ben Franklin’s grave, although it turns out I was always within a block of it. There are thousands of boy scouts on their way to a jamboree — thousands of ‘em, all over the place. I spent most of the day trying to dodge the large groups. A store proprietor said they’d be at mostly family-friendly places; I hoped to find a tavern to hide in.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re very nice and reasonably well-behaved, in spite of being older teenaged boys. But they ARE teen-aged boys, and there are thousands of them, and there’s only so much of that I can take.

Paid my respects to Betsy Ross, photographed the fountain in her courtyard with the cats. Swung by the Old Quaker Meeting House, and the store at the Visitor’s Center. I wanted to buy some silly gifts, but the store was overpriced, and there wasn’t anything appropriate. And why do the stores in the Bourne Center sell replicas of the Statue of Liberty and postcards of NYC? Doesn’t make sense to me.

Carpenter’s Hall (good bookshop there), swung back around on 2nd St. to the Clay Center. Although it states on the website that the gallery opens at 10, and I was there after 10:30, it was locked and dark. Typical Philadelphia.

Ducked down Elfreth’s Alley, full of tiny little row houses and window boxes, and pre-revolutionary lane that still has people living there. Poor things, the tourists must drive them nuts. And there’s Blanden’s something or other, another little alley leading of Elfreth’s Alley, which would be lovely and peaceful is so many people weren’t crawling around taking photos! I was one of them, but I tried to do it quietly! 😉

Took some lovely photos in the cemetery at Christ’s Church, dodged four troops of boy scouts (for a minute, I thought I’d have to hop over the wall, which, in a dress, would have been an adventure). Walked across to the Society Hill neighborhood, full of restored (expensive) row houses.

There’s an oddly designed red brick building, heading south, called the Center for Living History that “closed permanently” on June 18. That’s a shame. And I wonder what they’ll do with the monstrosity.

The plan was to eat at a pub I’d read about called The Artful Dodger that looked interesting. I thought I’d check it out and write a short article about it. There are plenty of publications who take that type of stuff. I got there about a half hour before they were scheduled to open. I was hot and tired, in spite of carrying water. I wandered around the neighborhood, which is lovely, and spent a good bit of time in the churchyard next to St. Peter’s. I took some interesting photographs — I like old graveyards, they have stories, and they tell them if you listen quietly enough. Also met a woman walking two Wheaton terriers who told me about some interesting graves in the graveyard next door, at cemetery beside Old Pine St. Church, and about some lovely little gardens tucked away between Society Hill and where I’m staying off Rittenhouse Square.

By the time we were done, it was a few minutes after noon. I walked back to the pub, and it was even a few more minutes after noon. Not only was it not yet open, the staff saw me waiting and turned their backs. Not a wave or holding up a hand to indicate five more minutes. Dismissal.

So I left. Not spending my money there.

The service in Philadelphia restaurants sucks more often than it doesn’t anyway, which is a shame, because Philadelphia has a lot of outstanding restaurants. It sucks more than in most other towns I’ve travelled to throughout the world. But the servers seem to think they’re doing you a favor by letting you come in and sit down and pay them to maybe come by your table if they feel like it and can get off their smart phones or be bothered to stop conversing with their colleagues. 98% of the wait staff in Philly couldn’t last a single shift in NY.

Exceptions that I’ve discovered (and to which I keep returning) are Smith’s, on S. 19th St., a few blocks from Rittenhouse Square, and The Black Sheep, on S. 17th St. Hopefully, the place we’re going for lunch to today will also fall into that category.

Walked west on Pine Street, which was lovely. Row houses, Antiques Row (a series of antique stores — if I’d been in shopping mode, I’d have stopped at a few, but I wasn’t). I hoped to find a little cafe to stop and have a bite, but didn’t see anything that particularly struck me.

So I wound up at The Black Sheep, which is close to where I’m staying. I already knew they had great burgers and a nice selection of beers. I sat in the bar. The only person working was the bartender, who was also serving, but she was great. Nice change. I had the fish tacos — a huge platter with delightful condiments including one of the best cilantro sauces I’ve ever had. And a couple of pints of Flying Fish beer, which was very good. All reasonably priced, served promptly and politely, in a good atmosphere. Because The Black Sheep is so close to where I stay, I tend to overlook it, but I won’t anymore.

After lunch, I returned to the apartment and collapsed in the air conditioning. I was pretty wiped out. Didn’t do much of anything for the rest of the day except some percolating and email. I overheated during the day, in spite of drinking a lot of water, so it took me awhile to cool down.

Contract negotiations are not going well. I hope I don’t have to walk away and start the submission process all over again on this project, but if it comes to that, I will. I like this company, but they’re not taking one of the non-negotiables for me seriously and they think I’ll blink. They are sadly mistaken.

I will tell them so politely and firmly, and we’ll see where that leaves us.

Back to the page for awhile this morning, and then it’s off to lunch with some writer pals at a Belgian restaurant only about two blocks away whose menu looks fantastic. Let’s hope the service is up to par.

Boy, am I spoiled with my Optimum internet service at home. Comcast sucks — it’s hard to get anything done efficiently. Pages take about 3-1/2 minutes to load — when they can be bothered to load at all. I hope they are not my only option when I relocate.

Today is the festival of the goddesses of mineral springs, salt water, and healing waters. I will honor them tonight by a good soak in the tub with salts!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

It’s so sad that the tornado hit a Boy Scout camp in Iowa, killing four of the boys. Really, a horrible tragedy. I was pretty annoyed, though, the one of the morning news shows put on a traumatized 14-year-old boy with haunted eyes. His parents stood next to him and THEY were in full Scout regalia, including medals, grinning, simpering, and making it all about THEM and how much THEY loved the organization. I wanted to slap them silly. One would think they’d be grateful their son wasn’t killed, and they’d be taking care of HIS needs, not going on national television trying to make it about them and their own feelings for the Scouts.

I’m in the process of sorting out the details of my workshop and my online chat for The Muse Online Writers’ Conference this fall. I taught and participated in it last year and LOVED it. I developed EARTH BRIDE there, which ended up being my Nano, and may develop this year’s Nano in it as well. Once I have everything finalized, I will let you know and post relevant links.

I’m considering skipping Nano this year. I’m doing J-WAT in July, where I hope to get a good start on THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, the second Gwen/Justin book. It might make sense to write the first draft of the third one, SANDOVAL’S SECRET, during Nano, but I’m not sure. If I do it, this year I’m going to limit my mentoring to 4 or 5. It nearly hit 30 last year, and, while it was fun, it’s a little too much right now.

On the downside, I’m dealing with one of those life lessons in the land of television. About six years ago, I spent a large chunk of time with a group of people researching what was supposed to be material for a cable series. The producers and I parted company because I wanted to show an inside view of that entire world, the good, the bad, the wonderful, the heart-breaking, whereas the producers wanted to focus on the sex lives of three characters. I retained the rights to my research and characters; they retained the rights to develop their view of the concept. No problem. I simply felt that, if I followed what they wanted to do, I was betraying the trust and openness that those people showed me over an extended period of time, and that I wasn’t doing right by any of them. I felt I was compromising my integrity to stay on the project. It was a perfectly amiable split, and my material became the basis for several novels, one which was making the rounds, but which I pulled out of circulation a couple of years ago because it is a difficult sell, and I wanted to get some more credits and clout to insure I could stay true to my vision and the people who’d been so kind to me.

Well, now the show is about to launch. I saw the promo and I felt like I had to take shower after it. Truly, truly awful. Horrifyingly scumbag television.

And yet, I’m upset. I’m glad I left the project; I’m not sorry I gave up the money or the credit. And yet, I’m very unsettled and very upset, as though I’m tainted simply because I’m involved in the same industry. It’s not logical; it’s emotional. I’m not personally responsible for representing all writers everywhere (thank goodness, or we’d all be in trouble). I just wanted to do something to show how incredible these people are, and now someone’s taken a similar concept and turned it into trash TV. It has nothing to do with me, there’s no logical reason for me to be upset . . .but I am.

My friends who helped me with the research think it’s funny and think we should watch it as a group. “It’ll be just like watching SHOWGIRLS,” one of them said. I’m glad they can laugh about it, and hope that, one day soon, so can I.

That day’s not quite here yet, though.

One of the people who’d been kind and helpful, and with whom I’ve stayed in touch asked why, exactly, I was so upset. It took me awhile to pinpoint it, but then I said, “Because I feel as though I’ve failed everyone who took so much time with me and showed me so much kindness by not getting my project out first.” He helped me realize that no one else (as far as he knows) feels like I’ve failed them, and they’re all confident that when my project DOES get out there, it will do them all proud.

Again, like I said, I’m having an emotional response, not a logical one.

Finished the first act of SIDEKICK and need to get the other two done. Did a detailed pitch/proposal for what could become a long-running gig with a lot of potential that also sounds like fun.

A friend and I went out last night – first to a new-ish local restaurant called Eurasian, which was fantastic. I had sushi – yellowtail with scallion, eel with avocado, and, something I never had before, spicy crunchy scallops. It was exquisite.

After that, we went to see INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL. Warning: spoilers! I had so much fun! I truly enjoyed it. It’s not quite as good as the first one, but leagues better than the second (it would take a lot to be worse than the second) and better than the third. There were similarities in story line between this one and NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS, but where NT2 failed, this one succeeded. And, for me, it was keeping my trust early in the film (yes, in spite of the whole nuclear explosion thing — a much more overtly political comment than I expected) because of the way it laid the foundation for the research (i.e., when Indy is figuring out the riddle Ox left) in a way that made sense (unlike NT2, which insulted the audience’s intelligence by using the wrong Mesoamerican language and thinking no one would notice). So, because the foundation was laid before it went into the absurd and fantastical, I was willing to go along with them on that journey into the absurd and the fantastical. I thought it was pretty funny that they both dealt with extinct Mesoamerican languages, but one did it in a way that made sense, and one did it in a way that was simply sloppy. Loved Karen Allen (always do). Thought Cate Blanchett was pretty good, even though there were too many too-wide-open-eye shots. I wanted to see real SCENES between Allen and Blanchett – that would have been fun, rather than that one quick bit in the chase scene. I’d heard a lot of negatives about Shia Labeouf, but I thought he was pretty good, and certainly far better than a lot of other choices for the role. He had a great scene where he realizes what’s happened to Ox, good chemistry with Ford and Allen, did the chase scenes well, and the fight scene with Blanchett was good. His entrance, the homage to James Dean, was in the same vein as Ford’s first entrance in RAIDERS, which was nod to Bogart in TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (if you’ve never seen that, rent it). The whloe ant thing was too long. Didn’t buy Hawaii as a stand-in for Peru, but thought the scenery was gorgeous enough so I didn’t really care after the initial, “That is so NOT Peru.” I also thought it was interesting how George Lucas took the old CHARIOTS OF THE GODS theory and worked it into the storyline. When I was approaching adolescence, and Lucas must have been in his late teens/early twenties, that was a big deal, with the ground carvings that could only be seen from the sky, and the theory that aliens landed to teach people agriculture, architecture, astronomy, etc. There was a lot of buzz about that in the 1970’s. And I’d pretty much forgotten about it until I saw it woven in here.

I had a great time, I’m glad I saw it on the big screen, I’ll get the DVD when it comes out, and it was an uplifting night out.

I really need to borrow a small child so I can legitimately go see KUNG FU PANDA. And HANCOCK looks like it’s going to be twisted in the best possible way. The movie I was most excited about this summer, INKHEART, had its release pushed back to January 2009, which is disappointing.

Did some decent work on the adaptation; still playing with titles.

The migraine lifted for a few hours yesterday, but is in full force today. The best description is dwarves tap-dancing in cleats waving pick-axes inside my skull.

Back to the page.


Devon’s Bookstore:

5 in 10: Create 5 Short Stories in Ten Weeks
by Devon Ellington. This ebooklet takes you from inspiration to writing to revision to marketing. By the end of ten weeks, you will have either 5 short stories or a good chunk of a novella complete. And it’s only 50 cents, USD. Here.

Writing Rituals: Ideas to Support Creativity by Cerridwen Iris Shea. This ebooklet contains several rituals to help you start writing, get you through writer’s block, and help send your work on its way. It’s only 39 cents USD. (Note: Cerridwen Iris Shea is one of the six names under which I publish). Here.

Full Circle: An Ars Concordia Anthology
. Edited by Colin Galbraith. This is a collection of short stories, poems, and other pieces by a writers’ group of which I am a member. My story is “Pauvre Bob”, set at Arlington Race Track in Illinois. You can download it free here:

Adaptation: 51,954 words out of est. 90,000