Monday, September 22, 2008

No Wonder I Can't Get the Taxes Done

The accountant called again. I'm sure I can get the 2007 taxes done if we'd just clear two full days to finish with Len's receipts.

It was a pretty packed weekend. We went to the County Fair on Saturday (my legs still hurt), signed Dexter's adoption papers on Sunday afternoon (picture to appear on the rescue website soon), went to see Janis Ian in concert at McCabe's Sunday night, and stayed up to watch the Emmy(R) Awards when we got home (much better on TiVo when you can zip past commercials and the gags laying eggs.) Tucked in were two riding lessons (one where I stayed glued to the saddle when Ace dropped his rear end about a foot to spin and spook) and communication with my farrier, who managed to do Ace's feet when I couldn't be at the barn. It may be the very first time I haven't been present when my boy got his pedicure. He was just fine without me, I hear.

Janis' concert was just great. She's telling stories from the autobiography between songs, which means she's doing a lot more talking than I've seen her do in the past, but it makes for a most intimate evening. McCabe's is a very small venue--it seats about 150 people in packed quarters. Two hours before show time, it was a display room for instruments. I think they've got a magic closet somewhere to store the guitars while chairs take their places. We arrived early to pick up our tickets, give Janis hugs, and go to eat dinner. Janis suggested Lares, a Mexican place about two blocks closer to the ocean than McCabes.

It turned out I had actually been in Lares once before: Alexa Price-Whelan, daughter of the great science fiction illustrator Michael Whelan and his wife Audrey Price, wanted to throw a surprise 25th wedding anniversary for her parents a few years back and we spent a day checking out potential locations. Lares was one of them. I can report the food was fantastic.

I picked up copies of both the autobiography and the double CD to give as Christmas or birthday presents for friends and Janis personalized them all for me. It's nice to get my shopping done early.

I did not intend to watch the Emmy Awards, but I got sucked in by the train wreck that was the opening and Jeremy Piven's dig at it when he picked up his award for supporting actor in Entourage, a show that plays quite well out here but I can't imagine where the audience is outside of L.A. With HBO or Showtime, it might not matter. I loved every one of Tina Fey's acceptance speeches for 30 Rock. She's an amazing writer. It was great to see Martin Sheen's pitch to get out the vote and Tommy Smother's speech upon receiving an Emmy he should have gotten 40 years ago. How far we've come and how little we've advanced in so many ways.

It really pissed me off when Kirk Ellis, the scriptor for John Adams, was cut off during his acceptance speech for best writer of a miniseries. I guess if you aren't also an actor, what you say doesn't matter. Tina Fey's line about how saying you're a writer is a great way of getting rid of people at a party may work in many places, but not at one of our soirees. In our house, writers are stars.

This weekend reminded me of what a great life I've got--pretty much what I would have dreamed of living when I was one of the "ugly duckling girls" that Janis' At Seventeen refers to. I've been lucky enough to meet, and sometimes become friends with, people whose books I would read or whom I would watch on television while I was growing up. The first time I watched the Emmy Awards and saw someone I knew on the show was around 20 years ago when my friend George R.R. Martin was working on Beauty and the Beast. Over the years, the show has become more like a visit to a book store: know her, photographed him, had her to dinner on Thanksgiving, saw him at a party. Last night, we saw Gary Owens sitting near the front of the stage before he did his reprieve of his announcer role from Laugh In. I remember the night Gary had to convince my then 9 year old son that he really was "Powered Toast Man" at a party at Larry Niven's house and the night that Gary had dinner with Len and I at a CSU Northridge event at the Radford Studios Lot. Watching Sally Field reminded me of the time I photographed her and got 3/5 of the top half of the Washington Post Style Section to the writer's one column. A print hangs in my office. Alan Alda was only there in clips, but his photograph is also over my desk from another shoot for the Post. There's a letter from Tom Hanks in my filing cabinet, graciously declining my invitation to be the keynote speaker at the 2001 Nebula Awards, but with a message to be delivered to the assembled audience. Tom Bergeron turned out to be a fan of Len's work when I photographed him at What's My Line Live on Stage a couple of years ago--we've been fans of his since he did a morning television show back in the 1990s and during his stint on Hollywood Squares. The Mary Tyler Moore Show clip referred to Lou Grant, but I had a wonderful night once at Harlan Ellison's house watching Ed Asner and Harlan trying to outdo each other with insults. It would have made Don Rickles proud.

Len is a voting memeber of the TV Academy. I hope that one of these days we'll get to go to the party, but only if Ellen Degeneris or someone genuinely funny and sharp is the host. Last year should have told them that "reality show hosts" is a bad idea. Last night should have put to rest the idea that what they say on their own shows isn't scripted by a writer. It was pretty embarassing all round. Jeff Probst's dimples get him through a lot, but Heidi Klum? Give me a break.

Maybe if they didn't waste time with these multiple "hosts," writers would be able to give their acceptance speeches in full. For those of you who missed it, Kirk Ellis praised the Age of Adams as a "period in our history when articulate men articulated complex thoughts in complete sentences." Bravo.


Grey Horse Matters said...

My goodness, I can never believe how busy you always are. Where do you find the energy, I get tired just reading about your itinerary!

M. C. Valada said...

Great to have you back, Arlene.

We get tired too. We used to have parties where people would show up at midnight and leave around 4. No more.

My friend Jack Dann, a writer from Binghamton, NY, who now lives in Australia, talks about his early days in science fiction when around 11, all of the greats would start to disappear from the regular parties at a convention. Jack and his friends would go in search of them, convinced that people like Asimov were at a special party somewhere that the young guys hadn't been invited to. Jack was never able to locate that party.

He now knows that Asimov and his compatriots had just gone to bed.

I, actually, fade earlier than Len because I'm always up earlier. I have been known to find a chair in a party room and fall asleep there, while he continues to socialize. I have no shame about this unless I snore.