Saturday, June 5, 2010 — Belmont Race Day

Saturday, June 5, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Hot, humid, stormy

My handicapping for today’s Belmont race card is in the post below this one.

I did not run on Friday morning — too tired. I got a little bit of Gerber’s baby food into Elsa, but she didn’t eat much. She’s interested in food, which is a good sign, but is having trouble actually eating it. I hope in the next day or two, her stomach settles enough so she wants more. I finally found an organic baby food that’s meat-based (most are just fruits and/or vegetables, which won’t work for her). She likes it better than the Gerber, and I fed her a few spoonfuls every couple of hours. At least she’s interested in food — or I’d be hauling her right back to the vet. Over the course of the day yesterday, I got almost a whole jar into her, a spoonful at a time, which is a good thing. She had a rough night, though, and I’m not sure what today will bring.

Left early, took the car in for servicing. It feels much better now. They think the constant tire problems are due to someone playing pranks in the parking area and letting air out of the tires. I guess it’s better than slashing, but I’m still not happy about it.

Bought an eco-friendly water bottle that matches my car’s color. Because I thought it was funny.

Picked up a few things I forgot yesterday at the store, found the organic food, and then stopped at Clay Art Center to pick up the pieces I made in the workshop a few weeks ago and buy my tools for next month’s class. They don’t look as bad as I remembered. Hopefully, I’ll make progress. My mom’s already making a list of things she wants me to make. She thought it was kind of silly to take the class — but now she’s in love with the pieces. Go figure!

Worked on the Shakespeare research while I waited for the car. It was nice to sit and have that uninterrupted work time. The research will actually be used in at least three different projects, and it’s been months since I did anything on it. It was fun.

Did some work on POWER OF WORDS. The rehearsal section should be tweaked enough to go out later today. I have to add a couple of short scenes, I’ve cut some stuff, and I’ve tweaked the material a bit.

Today’s Belmont day, so I’ll be tied up with horse racing all day. In incredibly hot and muggy weather. Somehow, though, organic cotton yoga pants and a sports bra are not proper racing attendance attire.

Philadelphia beat Chicago in last night’s game 4 of the Stanley Cup final. Now, they’ve each got two and they need four, so we’ve got a couple more to go. They’re great games, though — the two teams are well-matched. I feel like i should be rooting for Philly, because of all the time I spent there, but most of “my” guys are gone from the team, and Chicago is an Original Six team, for which I have a soft spot.

Back to the page and to taking care of Elsa.

Devon

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

Out the door a little after five this morning for a good run. It felt great.

Drove up to South Salem on Friday and picked up Elsa’s new medications. She responded immediately and positively to the sinus infection medication — I’m wiping her nose like she’s a toddler constantly, but it seems like she’s getting rid of all the gunk, which is a good thing. I mean, have you ever tried to get a cat to blow her nose into a Kleenex? She responds much better to the natural hydrocortisone than to the synthetic steroid, and yesterday we added the olive leaf, so we’ll see how that works. So glad I didn’t just slap her into the other center for radiation treatment.

Got my teaching information off on Saturday morning. Also had a request to a pitch I sent for a writing job a few weeks ago, asking for my portfolio samples. I already like them — they talked contract terms and didn’t expect me to write an audition piece for free. So let’s see if I’m a good fit. It would be a long-term, intermittent gig that sounds like tons of fun. If the pay is even in the ballpark and they like my work, I’d do it. Found another job that sounds fascinating. I’m going to apply for it — getting it would send me in a completely new direction in life, lifting the bulk of what I do out of entertainment and into more academic/preservation/education nonprofit. Which is fine, I’ve done a lot of work in nonprofit, and I am particularly enamored of this organization — but it would still be a huge change. It wouldn’t be 9-5 — I’ve never been able to cope with that — but it would veer quite far from theatre and plays and screenplays. Although I doubt I’d give up playwrighting — the theatre is my emotional home.

Didn’t run on Saturday morning — it was stormy again, although it blossomed into a gorgeous day. So that makes only two runs in last week. Will have to make up for it this week, and, due to the out of town gig next weekend, will run Tues-Thurs-Sat next week.

Had a good morning writing session on the screenplay, SETTLING THE SCORE. I’m honing some of the scenes, rearranging a few beats, putting in some short scenes of the ensemble to break up the former linear structure that made it Lucas’s story. Lucas is supposed to be the catalyst, not the focus. I had to write those early, more linear drafts to meet some of the other characters through his eyes, and now I can work with them on their own terms.

It’s still too long and there’s still a lot of story to happen, but I will deal with that once I’ve put down everything I want to say. Then I can look at it, see what’s unnecessary and remove it,, and tighten the rest of it. Because very often, the actors don’t need three rhythmic beats to get out a piece of information — if they’re good and I give them specific lines with meaning, they can do it in one beat.

I was really, really nervous about the pottery workshop. It’s an introductory workshop, and i wanted to take it to see if I truly like playing with clay, or if I just like the IDEA of playing with clay. The Clay Art Center, which is one town over from where I live, is a place where professionals can rent studio space, where artists-in-residence teach, etc., etc. It’s not like taking a class at the Y. These are serious, full-time artists. I’ve never worked with clay. So I was, to say the least, intimidated.

The class was small — there were only two of us, which was great. The teacher, an artist named Jon McMillan was really terrific. Some people have both the gift of their art and the gift to teach — he’s one of them. He kept it relaxed and fun, taught us basic technique, while giving us a lot of information we needed on both the mechanics and the background of it. I was surprised by how much chemistry goes into the process. Since my dad was a chemist and it makes sense to me, that was something for me to use as a starting point. Also, an example of why mystery writers should keep their mouths shut in pottery class — of course, I started speculating how the tools could be used in a murder, which got me a few odd looks.

Anyway, we learned how to make a pinch pot and made oversized mugs using the slab method. Mine are pretty pathetic — it will take a lot of work to develop technique. I have to think less about it and feel the clay more. I may need to take 101 level classes more than once to develop a decent technique and lay a solid foundation. But it WAS a foundation, and I had fun with it. Since the construction of my pieces was beyond rough and rustic, I felt that very technical and specific painting would make the mistakes in structure stand out even more. So I opted for bright color and exaggerated brush strokes to support the construction. We left them to be fired, and I’ll pick them up in about two weeks. Yes, I’ll post photos. I was way out of my comfort zone for all of this, but that was a good thing.

It whetted my appetite. I want to take a basic pottery class, but the one that makes sense to take runs during dates that don’t work for me. This teacher, who I like so much, is teaching a glazing class that does work for me, time-wise, but I’m wondering if that’s putting the cart before the horse. The chemistry of creating glaze fascinates me, and I’ve spent to much time in wonder at the Edgware pottery glazes, I think it would be interesting. If it’s just experimentation and tile making, I could do it — if it’s creating objects on which to experiment, it’ll be too advanced. However, since Jon’s residency finishes this summer and he won’t be here in fall, this might be my only chance to take it. I also don’t want to take a slot from a professional who might really need the class to progress with a career. I shot him an email to ask him about it. He responded pretty quickly, and my instincts are right — too early for a glazing class at this point for me. Another sign of an excellent teacher — he’s honest while still being supportive!

I’m disappointed I won’t get the chance to take another class he teaches, but very grateful for the opportunity I had to take the workshop with him.

There was a wonderful exhibit in the space, by Marlene Ferrell Parillo, called DREAM CITY. It mixed tapestry (with beautiful stitching), beadwork, crochet, and ceramic. Very striking and inventive.

Anyway, the whole day gave me a lot to think about. Which is a good thing.

Came back in time to watch the live feed from the Preakness — it was weird not to be down at Pimlico this year. The Preakness is my favorite of the Triple Crown because Pimlico isn’t as fussy and celeb-oriented as the Derby and the Belmont, and there are still high hopes — at least at the beginning of the day — for a Triple Crown. I watched the video of all the other races so I could see where my picks landed and write my article.

Sunday, I worked on the Preakness article and actually got it out in the morning — which meant I had the whole rest of the day to read a novel by one of my favorite writers. I was so excited! I’ve read five or six of his books and one of them ranks among the best books I’ve ever read.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t one of them. The premise was interesting, but there was too much espionage and too much religion. It gave me a headache. The characters crossed and recrossed each other so many times I couldn’t keep track. I realize that was part of the point, but it didn’t work for me. I read his author’s note at the back, where he talks about the genesis of the idea and his passion for the material. This is definitely a book of his heart, and I feel guilty that I didn’t like it, but . . .I didn’t. I felt both disappointed, because I’d been looking forward to the book for days and it was my treat, and also guilty for not being able to like something that someone I genuinely respect is passionate about.

Today I have to play hardball with someone who’s being paid to play hardball with someone else and not doing her job. Hate that. Also, am looking over some material for a friend of mine, working on a big job application, and working on the screenplay, and maybe a couple of article pitches. I had some ideas during my meditation this morning — so much for an empty mind!

Okay, some television stuff: Rumor has it HUMAN TARGET has been renewed, but with a different show runner. Interested to see how that changes it, and happy for those involved who still have jobs. Very interested to see how they’ll develop the characters, especially the way Jackie Earle Haley will continue to embody Guerrero. HEROES has been cancelled — finally! I can honestly say that’s one of the worst shows with the worst acting I’ve ever seen in my life (and I’ve been around plenty of atrocious acting over the years), and it was appalling that it was on for as long as it was. LAW & ORDER: THE MOTHERSHIP’s been cancelled after twenty years, which throws a lot of people I know out of work and makes me sad. You know why the show is expensive to produce? Because Dick Wolf values the people who works for him and gives them what they need to put on a quality show. I remember working on the CONVICTION spin-off, and they’d have to change the schedule for whatever reason and put more pressure on the crew. They never said, “This is what we’re doing, tough shit.” It was always, “This is what we need to do, what do you need to make it work?” which is how true professionals behave. I’m irritated that they’re doing an LA production — calling it LOLA ? Really? Ick. We don’t need to see any more shows set in LA. I’m also annoyed on the behalf of an actor whose work I really like, who was very excited about a comedy pilot in which he was cast. The pilot was picked up, but he was fired. I hope the show tanks on its first episode!

By Thursday, I should get my readers’ comments back on POWER OF WORDS, which means i can take them to Philly with me over the weekend to digest them and get back to work on the second section of the book. I’d like to have the draft of SETTLING THE SCORE done by then.

So I better get back to work.

Devon