Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fierce!

The puppies go to war at least once a day. When they get too far out of line, Dexter steps in and drags one of them off by the scruff of the neck.  Riley's on the left and Ginger's on the right.

We've been somewhat concerned about what happens when we bring a tree into the house.  Dexter (Best Dog Ever, below) won't care.  He's been through two Christmases with us and has never touched a thing.  This will be baby's first Christmas for both puppies, though. 

I set up what I affectionately call a Chanukah bush a few weeks ago.  It's a white stick tree that I decorate with cobalt blue ornaments.  Ginger and Riley have both been over to sniff at it, and I've seen Riley poke his nose at a couple of the blue balls, but they've done nothing to worry about--so far.  Riley likes to eat paper, and he chews on boxes, so it may be more problematic when the real tree goes up this week and there are presents underneath it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's the Holidays

November was busy.  The Fix-up Show.  The Human Target Season 2 premier.  The new puppy.  Thanksgiving.

New puppy.  Did I mention the new puppy?

His name is Riley.  He turned 10 months old on Thanksgiving, making him just a few weeks older than Ginger.  He's a purebred Golden Retriever, being the dog of choice at this house, and we rehomed him from a family in Camarillo.  He's a sweetheart, but definitely a puppy in the mode of Ginger.  The two have bonded, making Dexter roll his eyes in frustration with their antics.  Dexter remains the most perfect dog who ever lived.

Drew Carey was the celebrity guest on the second installment of "The Fix-up Show."  He's a comics fan.  He came to the episode of "What's My Line" when Len was a guest (rather than a panelist) and came over to introduce himself at the end of the show.  Then he took us out for dinner.
I didn't have a camera ready that night, but I did this time.  Here are Drew and Len after the show.

Thanksgiving usually means a much bigger number than 11 at my table, but by the time we sat down, my expected 15 was down to that.  We moved the living room furniture into the front room (in the background), where it all fit quite nicely, and we pulled the dining room table out to its 14' length.  Everyone had plenty of room and Harlan Ellison missed out on a terrific meal. 
 The food I'll write about over on my food blog.

Now it is time to get ready for Christmas, although we do light a mennorah for Chanukah.  I've decorated my white, pre-lit stick tree with cobalt blue ornaments, making it a lovely Chanukah bush.  So far, the puppies are leaving it alone.  I have no idea what they will do when we get our cut tree up and loaded down with geek ornaments in a couple of weeks, but I'm hoping for the best. The puppies are doing a real number on the landscaping in the back yard.  I may have plenty of places to plant tomatoes next year by the time they finish excavating their dens out among the trees and bushes.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Fix-up Show

A few years ago, I got involved in doing still photographs for a live, on-stage version of What's My Line, a show about which I had fond memories.  Most of them involved visits from my New York City cousins and watching the show at the Breezeway Motor Court at the edge of my home town.  But every so often, when the show was re-run on The Game Show Network, I'd catch an episode I remembered well.

The stage version was a lot of fun. My husband, Len Wein, was one of the recurring panelists, and we met a lot of fun folks through the course of the run.  When it moved to New York for a short run, my sister lent a hand to the show and even directed two or three performances when regular director Jim Newman had to leave town. 

Host J. Keith Van Straaten is back in L.A. with a new stage game show called The Fix-up Show.  He tried it out in New York for a while and now it is settled into the Acme Theatre on La Brea on Wednesday nights at 8 for the next month (excepting the night before Thanksgiving.)  I'm doing photographs again (except next week, when Len & I will be off to a party for the premier of the second season of Human Target).
The purpose of the show is to set people up on dates, but the potential daters don't get to directly interview each other.  In last week's show, a young woman was being set up with one of three potential young men.  The panelists consisted of two people well acquainted with the young woman and celebrity panelist Walter Koenig (below.)  Hilarity ensued, particularly over a question about bacon ice cream.
J. Keith has uploaded a selection of my photographs here.  This week's celebrity guest is everybody's favorite native of Cleveland, Drew Carey.  It should be a great show, and seats are available.

And think about having dinner before or after at Amalfi Restaurant, which shares the building.  I've had some really good meals there over the years.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How to Embarrass Your Horse

 From kind of pretty...
 To not so bad...
 To OMG....

 And what were you thinking?
It wasn't even Halloween. It was draft weekend at the Los Angeles County Fair. The poor paint's eye says "get...me...out...of...here."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Secretariat

I was a year out of college when Big Red won the Triple Crown.  I remember watching the Belmont race in my Aunt Babe's basement on Long Island with family members.  It was amazing.  He was amazing.  The money shot that ran all over the world of his jockey looking backwards to see where the hell the other horses were in a 31 length blow out said it all.

We went to a screening of Disney's version of the Secretariat story last night. As many have suggested, the film  might better be called "Penny," because the movie is mostly about this extraordinary woman's role in creating one of the finest equine athletes of all time.  Penny Chenery took over the operation of her father's thoroughbred breeding farm in 1968, made the decision to breed two of their mares to Bold Ruler (one of the changes you'll see in the film to heighten tensions in the film was changing the timing of when she took over the farm shows the decision was her father's and puts her into a coin-flip that was actually his), and produced both Riva Ridge (not even mentioned in the film) and Secretariat.

I really enjoyed the film, because it does a real good job of showing how difficult things could be for a smart woman back in the late 1960s.  Penny had a degree from Smith and attended Columbia University's business school, but gave up her own aspirations for marriage and family until her father became ill.  She clearly had the training and the background to run the farm, but she gets a lot of "nice girl" pats on the head before people realize that she's a steel magnolia.

The screening audience had a huge range of attendees, from small children to octogenarians, and lots of horse people.

Watching the film, it became clear to me that Zenyatta has the same kind of effect that a Secretariat or Seabiscuit had on the public.  I firmly believe that these horses are/were self-aware.  They know/knew what they were doing, know/knew what the fuss was about, and are/were having a great time putting on a show.

I went to both of Zenyatta's "Farewell Appearances" late last year, so I've seen her in the flesh, but I couldn't bring myself to watch her actually race.  Her style would give me a heart attack in person.  I wait until the races are put on-line to watch her go from the back of the pack and destroy the souls of horses who think they are going to win.  Here on the West Coast we've been treated to the kind of disdain that happened with Seabiscuit back during the Depression--because she is a California horse, somehow Zenyatta's 19-0 record isn't really much to talk about according to the East Coast racing writers.  Are they crazy?  Or are they just snobs?

I recommend going to see Secretariat and then having a good time finding actual footage of his Triple Crown wins on-line.  Then I'd suggest watching footage of Zenyatta (the video shot from Mike Smith's helmet during training is amazing) and see what she does in the Breeders' Cup in November.  She's brought Secretariat level excitement back to racing.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Moving--Again

Some of you may remember that we had no intention of moving back into our house after we had a fire in 2009.  Unfortunately, health matters brought a screeching halt to our attempts to find a house to purchase (and the one on which we made an offer fell into a black hole of pre-foreclosure hell.)  So, in March, we moved back into the rebuilt and somewhat reconfigured place Len's owned since before we met.  Lucky for us, my winnings on Jeopardy! and a royalty check for Lucius Fox's appearance in The Dark Knight meant we didn't have to put our place up for sale to have the down-payment for a bigger home--a real luxury these days.

Trying to find the right house for both of us took a bit of time, and closing on it has taken longer than we expected.  Escrow closed on August 20, but we discovered the previous occupants had left a mess behind.  The clean-up crew has worked tirelessly, the painter moved in for a week, the electrician had plenty to fix, and, without folks breathing down our necks to move into our house, we could take a relaxed and organized approach toward getting our stuff to the new place.  On Thursday, the movers will take our furniture to the new location. This is the back yard :
It's about four miles from where we currently live, and it's more than twice the square footage in both house and land.  It isn't big enough or zoned for Ace to live in the back yard, but I will also be several miles closer to him.

I'll finally have a big, eat-in kitchen with lots of counter space, a prep sink in the center island and a Viking cook-top with a grill.  The house has three fireplaces, a pool house with a 3/4 bath, a summer kitchen with built-in grill, refrigerator and sink (and disposal!)  The house has two enormous bathrooms with glass showers and separate whirlpool bath tubs, plus a small powder room off the laundry room.  There are four bedrooms, a large living room, something described as a formal dining room (but too small for what I'd consider a formal dining room table), a family room, and what must have been another small bedroom that's been converted to an enormous walk-in closet.  We're going to make the attached garage our library/workroom.  And, oh yeah, there's a wine cellar. 

If you know anyone who'd like to buy a cozy, completely renovated mid-century ranch house with a pool in Woodland Hills, California, walking distance to two Orange Line stops, one house away from the bike-path, a few blocks from Pierce College, and occupied for the past 24 years by famous comic book writer (and Wolverine and Swamp Thing creator) Len Wein, it will be on the market in a matter of weeks.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Patricia Neal, RIP

I just saw a news report that acress Patricia Neal has died.  She starred in my favorite science fiction film, The Day the Earth Stood Still.  I'm talking about the 1951 original, not the 2008 abomination.  Big explosions do not make a better story, and the director who thought he was honoring Robert Wise was delusional.  I recently watched, for the first time, her film A Face in the Crowd.  It was simply amazing.  Her turn as Olivia Walton struck me as closer to the reality of what a Depression-era mother with seven children would look like than that of Michael Lerned (or Maureen O'Hara in Spencer's Mountain, which preceded them both.)

I was pretty young when it happened, but I remember reading about the accident which almost killed her son.  I also remember reading about the stroke she had before she was 40 and her recovery.  She was pretty remarkable.

For a very brief time, a friend of ours dated her vivacious daughter, Tessa Dahl.  We had dinner together once.  As she and I sat talking, the pieces started falling together, and I realized who this Tessa sitting next to me was.  There were 10 or 12 of us at the table, and Tessa was stunned to learn that all of us considered The Day the Earth Stood Still to be one of the greatest science fiction films ever made.  She had never seen it.  I hope that she subsequently took the time to watch it.  It holds up really well, and her mother is perfect in it.
****
I was rather glad to see that Keith Olbermann brought up Patricia Neal on his Monday broadcast and mentioned both The Day the Earth Stood Still (describing her as "the only rational character") and A Face in the Crowd.  I've long recognized Keith's geekdom, and, of course, he continually (and rightly) compares the irrational Glen Beck to Andy  Griffith's character in A Face in the Crowd, whom Patricia Neal discovers and then uncovers.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Miss Trouble Strikes Again

Little Miss Trouble earned herself a trip to the emergency room last night.  For the second time, she got into something that made her face swell.  The first time, it was just her eye.  This time, eyes, neck, jaw.  She looked more like a pit bull than a golden retriever.  I figured it was better to get her to a vet than to risk a middle of the night crisis, so off we went.

54 pounds of puppy is a lot of strength, and trying to manipulate her while opening and closing doors and filling out paperwork is a trick.  At one point, the vet tech suggested rattle snake--unlikely, but not impossible--but they couldn't find fang marks to match.  I figure it was a spider or one of the bugs she likes to catch got her instead.  Two hours, with steriods and benedryl by IV, later, we headed home.  She looked a bit better, but by this morning she looked herself.

Dexter is a perfect dog, but Ginger is a scamp.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Another Comic-Con Survived

Another year, another San Diego Comic-Con International survived.  Michael and I headed down on Wednesday morning after dropping Len off at Cedars-Sinai for dialysis.  That way, I could have a few extra hours with my dear friend Gloria Benson, who was bringing her granddaughter Seven to Comic-Con, the first trip for either of them.  Len came down with a couple of friends, but traffic delayed his arrival until almost 7:30, by which time I had picked up Gloria and Seven at their hotel, had lunch, checked into our hotel, picked up all of our badges, and started swimming in the sea of humanity at the preview opening of the convention.  
This year, we stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel.  It was our 10th choice, but at least it was walking distance from the convention.  Those are the "sails" at the top of the SDCC.  As you can see from the photo we were a few stories above a party area, but the one you can't see was the noisy one.  There was always music playing--I got a kick out of the check-in desk asking what my choices of music were, and when we got to the room, classic rock was playing.  I knew I was home when I stepped off the elevator and there was a huge photo of the Beatles in Miami in 1964--a photo a knew well from my Beatles trading cards of that era.
As it did last year, SyFy took over the cafe in the Hard Rock, and the decor and menu reflected that.
Here's my son, Michael, waiting for breakfast.

On Thursday, Len was on the panel that followed the showing of a documentary about the 75 year history of DC Comics.  It will be released on November 11.  It was informative and touching. The clips of Julie Schwartz made us all cry.  We miss Julie, who was the editor of Superman for many years and brought on what is called the Silver Age of Comics by reviving The Flash.  I knew Julie before I ever met Len.

Friday was the Warner Bros. & DC Comics Party.  Gloria and Seven stood in line for three hours that morning and failed to get into The Big Bang Theory panel because the True Blood fans had taken over the 6500-seat room first thing in the morning and stayed until that panel at 5:30 at night.  Nobody told the people in line that the room wasn't being cleared and that they would never get in.  The Bare Naked Ladies played and Wil Wheaton moderated TBBT panel, so I was really sorry that I didn't get in, either.   I figured it wasn't really fair to ask Bill Prady to get me in two years in a row (and Bill was sad I didn't ask.)

Fortunately for me, Bare Naked Ladies, who wrote and perform TBBT theme also played the much smaller WB party, introduced by Chuck Lorre. BNL were not bare, naked, or ladies.
Jim Parsons and Wil Wheaton had a bit of a chat at the party. I can't seem to upload the video with Johnny and Simon swaying to the band, though.

As they did last year, members of the costumer's guild took some of the different over-sized WB swag bags and turned them into fashion statements from the 1940s.
I particularly like the hat in this photograph.  I missed photographing the zoot suit.
 Mark Valley was at the party, but we missed talking to him. 
Here he is talking to the sheriff on Eureka (and checking his cell phone.)

We did catch Chi McBride, who calls me "Mrs. Len" when he sees me.  He's utterly charming and inclined to kiss me on the wrist.  I think he's cuddly.

Seven expressed her desire to meet Stan Lee, and I was able to accommodate her wish when Stan walked right in front of me at the preview.  Unfortunately, we couldn't get cameras out to record her reaction, which included Gloria admonishing her to "breathe, breathe."
I was also able to introduce her to the amazing Sergio Aragones, and, on Saturday, even stopped Sergio to photograph them together.  He and Gloria spoke in Spanish and he cooed over Seven.
At the Quick Draw Panel, Sergio was one of six artists who performed.  The top half of the drawing of Sergio was done by another Mad Magazine artist. 
 The image was covered at the belt and Sergio drew the bottom half without knowing it was a drawing of himself.  Hilarity ensued. 

The other two drawings below were done by Sergio to incorporate the caption "Sit on it."  I think he did six drawings on that round all together.  All different. 
 Sergio's impression of the BP oil spill.
Sergio's thoughts on the Arizona anti-immigration law.

Len participated in the Quick Draw by guessing words or phrases the artists drew.  He really has a good time doing it. 
Later on Saturday, we split up so he could sign with the Human Target cast and do the press feeding frenzy and I could go to a private cocktail party at the Hilton. 
Before I left Gloria and Seven in the Human Target autograph line, I photographed Len with the new producer (who created Chuck) and the new producer with Mark Valley and Chi McBride. 
I got back in time to catch the Human Target panel, but I almost didn't get into the room.  We did an end-run around security, and after, we got a photograph of Len with Jackie Earle Haley.

The Hard Rock had an  11 a.m. check out, so I spent the morning taking care of that.  Len had the annual Pro v. Fan trivia contest that afternoon, and then we did dinner with Paul Levitz before the dead dog party and the drive home.  Wisely, I took Monday off from work, and even though I couldn't sleep all day, it was nice to catch a few extra hours of shut-eye.

And it is a mere 51 weeks before we do the whole thing again.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ginger Update

She's fine, but we had a scare with New Puppy, who turns 5 months old today.  We took her in to be spayed two weeks ago.  The rescue group made us promise to get it done before she turned five months old.  We took her to their vet, because the spay was part of the adoption fee. We were told they nicked her urethra which required the removal of one of her kidneys.  She had a huge incision and looked so helpless when we went in to see her.  Everyone was upset, rightly so.

It has slowed her down almost not at all.  A few days of pain pills, 10 days of antibiotics, and, except for the staples that come out tomorrow, you'd never know anything was wrong.  I've gotten attached to seeing her run around in my tee-shirts (a really good alternative to the Cone of Shame which was suggested by the vet), but I'm sure she'll be happy not to wear it any longer.

We were so happy that there was no change to her delightful personality, and she's happily getting into all kinds of mischief.  I had intended to start her in a puppy obedience class, but that will have to wait until the Fall since the summer session has already started.  She will get to go to the dog park with her big brother, and I'm sure that when my friend Lira house-sits next week, she will get some obedience training. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Gift from Janis Ian

I got an e-mail the other day that would have thrilled my sixteen-year-old self.  

Last year, my friend Janis Ian agreed to be my toastmistress for the Nebula Awards ceremony I produced for the Science Fiction Writers of America.  While I would never have asked her to perform music for free, Janis soon asked if it would be o.k. for her to sing at the event.  Duh!

Janis didn't just sing.  She wrote new lyrics for her hit At Seventeen for the evening, entitling it Welcome Home. Like At Seventeen, it hit the mark. Big Bang Theory co-creator Chuck Lorre, no stranger to musical composition himself, was sitting next to me and was blown away. Many of the attendees were referenced, as were many old friends no longer with us. There were many tears in the corners of eyes that night.

The e-mail Janis sent the other day included the file for the song she wrote with her good wishes to spread it wide (but asking that appropriate credit be given.)  She's now made it available for us to put it online.  Here's a link to Welcome Home, that goes through my friend Kristine Kathryn Rusch's website, since I don't know how to get it here any other way.  (And if you pass it on, please credit Music © Mine Music Ltd./EMI Japan Publishing/Lyric © Rude Girl Publishing.  All rights reserved.  International copyright secured.  Used by Permission.)

If you like the song, please consider going to Janis' website and make a contribution to The Pearl Foundation.  Her charity is named for her mother and it funds scholarships for older women who want to return to school.  It's a cause I can believe in, since A.A.U.W. gave me money to go to law school as an older student.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Adventures of New Puppy

Friday was Ginger's visit to the vet, who pronounced her perfect in every way.  No kennel cough in evidence.  A weight gain of seven pounds.  Time for an adventure!

On Saturday, I took Ginger up to the barn to meet her really big brother, Ace.  She was appropriately apprehensive, unlike Dexter who thought the horses should respond to barking and play-bows by, well, playing.  Ginger had a rough and tumble time with Gayle's Aussie shepherd, Eli, even though she was on a lead.  After Ace finished his lesson, she got a chance to get a little bit closer.
Willie, a Haflinger, was less intimidating, so she got even closer.


I would call it a successful visit to the barn and she even got a lesson in walking on the leash from Gayle.

On Sunday, she had us in hysterics and reminded us of a poem we once heard Tim Curry read at the L.A. Public Library. The poem is from an anthology called Unleashed: Poems by Writers' Dogs.  This four line poem is called "Birch" and it is by Karen Shepherd.  Every dog owner I know understands this poem.

Are you going to eat that?
Are you going to eat that?
Are you going to eat that?
I'll eat that!

Our friend Lisa, subject of this display of dog cuteness, does volunteer work for a pet adoption charity, so she was not all bothered by having Ginger hover near by looking for a hand-out.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The New Addition

Is there anything as adorable as a Golden Retriever puppy? I doubt it. This cute little face belongs to Ginger, the new baby in our lives. We got her a week ago from the Southern California Golden Retriever Rescue. She was born on February 14, and she's the first puppy we've owned since we got our late, beloved Muffin as a six-week-old back in 1995.
Ginger was an owner turn-in to the organization and all I can say is, their loss, our gain. She's a bouncing bundle of energy and curiosity, is crate-trained, and already knows "sit" and "down," although "stay" is going to be a tough concept. She's a true retriever, constantly bringing sticks, leaves, and clumps of dirt into the house and stealing shoes, potholders, and pretty much anything not nailed down outside. She likes to play in her water bowl, and, given the chance, will turn it over to dump it and then carry it around. But most of all, she likes to rough-house with her new big brother, Dexter.

Dex will be five next week. We got him from SCGRR almost two years ago (in September) and since Muffin died in November of 2009 and Sheba died in our house fire last spring, he's been the only dog in our pack and he just loves to play. Muff and Sheba were 14 when we got him, so they weren't terribly interested in puppy play (although Goldens don't every really grow up), but Sheba let him know who was boss and he complied.

Now he's got a puppy to run and wrestle with, to play tug of war with, and to set a good example for. And, I think he already realizes, the girl is going to rule the roost when she's older. Even now, he lets her hoard the toys--I watched her take something away from him and then sit on it and two other toys so he couldn't have them. Thought I would die laughing.

Last night, after Dex spent some time pinning her down by sitting on her, Ginger started bouncing up onto one of the chairs and leaping into the air to land wrapped around Dexter's neck, then she'd slide off and do it all over again. I suppose I should have been concerned that she'd go flying into the 73" TV screen, but that didn't happen. The two of them go rolling across the floor in a big ball of fur and bear teeth at each other, but Dex is an amazing gentle giant and very good big brother to the little imp.

More than once, we've found them exhausted with their noses a few inches apart. It is absolutely precious. The late Chris Reeve once described something as "almost as much fun as a room full of Golden Retriever puppies." I know exactly what he meant.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Jeopardy! 2010 Tournament of Champions, Continued

I had no idea that Jeopardy! promoted the players of the Tournament of Champions this extensively. Did study the Fortune 500 list, but it didn't come up in my game. The New York Times Science tie-in did.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jeopardy! 2010 Tournament of Champions, Continued

This ad ran in today's New York Times. I figured I might make mention in the paper when my famous spousal unit passes away. I'm happy that I won't have to wait that long--and that I got there on my own. If you've got the paper, it's page C4. Tune in to Jeopardy! tonight to watch me play against Justin and Joey. Check your local listings for time and channel.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions, Continued

Here is a photograph of the fifteen contestants you will see on the quarter-finals of the 2010 Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions next week. And here is a link to a promotional video that is running on the Jeopardy! web site right now. I'm the last interviewee.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tournaments of Champions

The Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions starts running on May 10 and carries through until may 21. The first week is the quarter final rounds where three college champions and the twelve players who won the most games (down to those who won 4 games in the regular season) since the last time there was a ToC (which shot in January 2009 and ran in March 2009.)

My quarter-final game airs on Thursday, May 13, 2010. I understand that in some parts of the country, Jeopardy! is running at a different time than usual due to the sports play-offs. So check your local time and channel to watch.

I recommend watching all 10 days, because the players are just amazing competitors.

The Jeopardy! Celebrity Invitational for charity finals are running this week. I got to watch the final rounds being taped, and I really enjoyed myself. There's much less pressure sitting in the audience.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Academic Gobbledigook

Can anyone explain what this means:

This conference aims to critically engage contemporary spatial, social, ideological, and political transformations in a transitional world. In a process-oriented world of movement, the global north and global south now simultaneously converge and diverge in a dialectic that shapes and transforms cities, suburbs , and rural areas. This conference addresses the nature and mapping of these forces and the dynamics that propel these changes. The conference also examines and defines the myriad of different spaces that make up our contemporary world, including urban, edgeurban, de-urban, micro-urban, greenfield, and off-the-grid.

I got this in my e-mail at work, and it looks pretentious. I suspect it is someone trying to impress a department chair. Someone's tuition dollar at work, or, worse, research dollars.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Season Finale

Last night, Len and I headed over to the Warner Bros. lot to watch the season finale to Human Target. If you didn't watch it, I hope you recorded it. It rocked.

We spent a lot of time talking to Chi McBride (who plays Winston) after the screening. He saw us coming and threw open his arms for a hug to "Mr. & Mrs. Len." He's fabulous & Len's been having a blast writing his character in the 6-issue HT miniseries he's writing (Issue #3 came out this week.) Neither Jackie Earle Hailey nor Mark Valley were there last night. We think Jackie's out promoting "Nightmare on Elm Street." Len saw Mark two weeks ago when they each were filmed for the HT Season One DVD extras.

Lee Majors and Tim Ohmudson (not sure I spelled that right) were guest stars in last night's episode, and they were also at the screening. Armand Assante, also in the episode, was not. I remember seeing Armand Assante sitting at a table with Lou Diamond Philips at Hugo's in West Hollywood 20 years ago when I was a law clerk at the Writers Guild, west. He does not look the same at all.

Tim Ohmudson is almost unrecognizable, very different from Det. Lassiter (a.k.a., "Lassie"), his regular gig on Psych. Len and I now have an invitation to visit the set of Psych if we get up to Vancouver in September. Len's been invited to be a GOH at a new convention there and our friend good friend Gillian Horvath is working on Sanctuary, so we've got several reasons to consider the trip. There's a good chance Len will go. I'll have to get my passport updated to accompany him or visit Gillian on my own. Tim said he's leaving Friday for the drive to Vancouver where they start shooting a week from Monday. I've done that drive. It's long but beautiful.

We are waiting with fingers crossed that Human Target gets picked up for a second season. If it does, Comic-Con will be a lot more fun in July.

Friday, April 9, 2010

House Hunting

We looked at another house today. It's on a half-acre lot in a neighborhood where I could retire Ace to the back yard. The house has been remodeled, and it does look nice with a big open floor plan down the center, separating the master bedroom from the other three bedrooms, but it just didn't excite either one of us.

We are settling into our own house, and the problems I now have with places that are not substantially larger than ours include:

I don't want to give up having a pantry (we both love this new feature) so any new place is going to need to have a walk-in pantry.

I like the laundry/storage room we've got(the place we saw today has a closet for stacking washer & dryer, but no place for the other stuff you need for laundry.)

I don't want to give up the sparkling refurbished pool with the ducks.

I'm getting attached to the cute little office/guestroom with a DOOR that I'm decorating in a little-horse-crazy-girl motif.

I don't want to have to pack again, and we've still got over 500 boxes at the place in Glendale which took our stuff after the fire. (Thank goodness my sister was here to help me unpack 100 boxes for the kitchen and 6 wardrobe/linen boxes last week. I don't know what I'm going to do about the rest.)

The house we made an offer on in December, which sits in pre-foreclosure hell with a seller and an agent who both appear to be wacko, had the space we needed both inside and out. Five bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths, soaring ceilings in the living room (and room for my dining room table that seats 16), a fire place, a media room which would be good for our 73" tv, an eat-in kitchen, a covered patio, a two-car garage, a view of the valley, and a huge back yard for Dexter. And less than the maximum amount of mortgage for which we've been pre-approved.

Sadly, I don't think it's going to happen. Nothing I've seen since has made me go yaha-at least nothing in my price range. (There's a fabulous place below the Boulevard in Tarzana that takes my breath away, but we'd need another big Lucius Fox check in our hands for that to happen--and we're not expecting one until the next Bat-film.) But, we've got a place for now and as long as interest rates or house prices don't start rising like rockets, we'll probably find something.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Happy Birthday, Ace

Today is my Arabian Prince's 13th birthday. It is the 11th birthday of his baby sister, Phaedra, who still lives in New Mexico and is (as far as I know) a brood mare. I'd buy her if I could.

Ace was born on a night with a visible comet. Combined with the shape of his star, his registration name was chosen: Auspicious Comet. My son once asked me if anyone uses the word "auspicious" and now makes a note of it every time he hears it on the radio or television (the answer is, obviously, yes.)

I got a phone call from Melinda soon after he was born, and she often updated me about his antics after that. I met him in the flesh when he was a good-sized yearling and he attempted to take a piece out of my shoulder when Melinda and I stood nearby ignoring him. That was the last time he tried doing something like that. Melinda slugged him so fast, he looked like he saw stars. We made fast friends after that.

I hadn't started taking riding lessons in 1997, but by the time I saw Ace in 2001, Melinda and I had been joking that I would eventually own the Prince. Especially after Melinda got the bay filly she'd been trying to breed for 20 years--Ace's full sister--it was an on-going discussion. Even though he was young, and Arabs are advanced horses, not beginner horses, I had fallen in love and he became my 50th birthday present to myself. I do not regret this.

I haven't been able to spend much time with him for the past three months, but that will soon change. He's been doing amazingly well under Ashley's riding and I hope we'll be showing him again really soon. Now that his Schleese has been properly fitted, he's floating across the arena. And he's still having a lot of fun jumping.

His new digs agree with him: he sticks his nose out of the feed window and watches everyone go by. I hear him call when I drive into the ranch. He's got lots of turnout buddies and he loves trimming the pepper trees near the arena. There's even a bit of grass to be trimmed and he's happy to oblige. He's returned to his fastidious house keeping: urine goes outside, poop along only one wall inside so he can curl up in a clean corner.

I'll take apples, carrots and his favorite cookies with peppermint candies on top when I see him tomorrow. Eventually, there will be a new western saddle in his life. Arabs are so damned hard to fit and his once-perfect 7-D is no longer a fit in the shoulders. Anyone seen a used Vincent saddle made for an Arab anywhere?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Oscar Fail

I finished watching the Oscar (TM) ceremony last night, probably because I've got a streak of masochism but mostly because I could finish unpacking the kitchen and use it as background noise.

Normally, I think the writers of the Oscars are pretty sharp people, and I've even met a few of the listed writers about whose intelligence I have no doubt. So I've got to ask, what was it with the dumb statements about how horror is the most popular film genre (I doubt that's true in terms of box office where science fiction and fantasy dominate the top ten list) and how it gets no respect because it's been more than 30 years since (I think they cited) The Exorcist got two nominations or won two Oscars.

Excuse me. Anyone ever hear of The Silence of the Lambs? It's one of those rare films that took the big five awards at the Oscars: best film, screenplay, director, actor and actress. That's plenty of respect, guys. And don't try to argue that it is a crime film because there were several clips used in the horror montage.

Did those children from the Twilight films (with its fans who think that The Wolfman rips off their highly derivative source material) ad lib?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Improvements in Small Steps

I am back to 10-fingered typing. The arm still feels like lead, but at least I'm able to keep up with my thoughts and not look at my fingers. I feel like I'm pounding on an old manual typewriter, though, in terms of the finger strength I don't have.

Since I last posted, I've been out of the cast and into a brace. Surgery was avoided. I figure I'm probably another month from getting back on Ace--getting on isn't the problem, but I do need the left arm to get off and I haven't started physical therapy yet. I'm allowed to start weaning myself from the brace by taking it off to sleep, which I've now done for two nights. It makes it easier to jump in the shower in the morning, which does make me happy.

During the day, I'm not willing to give it up because I'm emptying boxes. We finished moving out of the rental house on Sunday night. Instead of going to our traditional Oscar-watching party, I stayed at the house and packed up Len's office. His mistake. I was able to throw away a lot of his junk and junk food (not the marzipan, dear, it's in that rolling bag in your office) while he was at our house with friends. When the Oscars were over, everyone showed up with cars and carted the rest of the boxes back to our house. I did a final cleaning, and I think we left the house in really good shape. Me, not so much.

Our house looks quite nice inside, but it is no larger than before. What's particularly nice is that the front third of the house is open. The kitchen finally has a logical lay-out and a pantry. The cabinets look very nice. I got it cleared up enough to make dinner last night. Pictures will be forthcoming. Biggest complaints: there's never enough counter space and the contractor didn't listen when I said the sink was to be a single tub large sink. He put in a double sink where one side is larger and deeper than the other, but not large enough for a turkey roaster to be put for soaking. I waited 15 years to get that sink in our renovated kitchen and I had the use of it for less than two years. Someday when I get to build my real dream kitchen, I'll have one.

There is now a breakfast counter. It is not exactly what I had in mind and it also means there's no place to put my round table when it comes back from storage. I knew there would not be room for my great-grandmother's Hoosier kitchen base, and that's a shame because every built-in counter in the house is too high for me. I guess the new normal height for a woman is 5'8". My friend Gillian, who is around 6' tall, would be very happy in it. My Hoosier kitchen has a work space that is probably 7-9" lower than my new counters--much easier for chopping & rolling out pie dough.

Photos will be forthcoming. Maybe even of the mallard couple who decided that our pool was their private playground after the fire. When Dexter saw them through the bedroom window on Saturday morning, he was very clear that he knew exactly what his purpose in life was. It was hysterical.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Let Freedom Ring

My friend Melinda Snodgrass transcribed the words of Judge William Young who presided at the trial of Richard "Shoe Bomber" Reid. This is what our justice system is about and it is what religious fanatics--no matter where they are--hate most about our way of life. Look at those individuals in this country screaming that the justice system can't possibly work when the Constitution is followed and you will find religious zealots looking to bring on Armageddon. Read what Judge Young says and be glad that some people remember who and what we are:

We are not afraid of any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before.


There is all too much war talk here. And I say that to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this court where we deal with individuals as individuals, and care for individuals as individuals, as human beings we reach out for justice.


You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist.


You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist.


To give you that reference, to call you a soldier gives you far too much stature. Whether it is the officers of government who do it or your attorney who does it, or that happens to be your view, you are a terrorist. And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not treat with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.


So war talk is way out of line in this court. You're a big fellow. But you're not that big. You're no warrior. I know warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense Trooper Santiago had it right when first you were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and where the TV crews were and he said you're no big deal.


You're no big deal...


It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose. Here, in this society, the very winds carry freedom. They carry it everywhere from sea to shining sea.


It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom. So that everyone can see, truly see that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely. It is for freedom's seek that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf and have filed appeals, will go on in their, their representation of you before other judges. We care about it. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties.


Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms. Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. Day after tomorrow it will be forgotten. But this, however, will long endure. Here, in this courtroom, and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done.


The very President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged, and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.


See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag still stands for freedom. You know it always will.

Custody, Mr. Officer. Stand him down.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Update

My arm is still in a cast, but I may be lucky enough to avoid surgery. On Thursday, this cast is coming off so the surgeon can see a better x-ray. I'm terrified that things will hurt when I try to move the elbow. I want to be able to take a shower and wash my hair without a whole production going on.

Moving the horses got delayed for a month. Ride-on's new facilities weren't ready because of the rain,so we're still at the old place, which is up for sale. If I could convince Len to move to Chatsworth, I'd consider buying it.

The place we made an offer on is in limbo because it turns out the seller's agent has contacted neither the first nor the second mortgage holder to work out a deal and the seller may decide to take the house off the market. I don't claim to know much about real property, but I know a little about contracts, and that smells to high heaven. Unfortunately, we haven't seen anything that works as well for us. So far. At least now we've got a letter saying we've been approved for a loan, so we can jump on something we like. If we find something.

Our old house is moving toward completion. We're meeting with a landscape person on Thursday so we can get the outside tidied up. It looks nice, but it is just too small.

Equine Affaire is this weekend in Pomona. I'm not sure I am going to get out to it because I need someone to drive me. Ashley, who has been riding Ace, is going to compete in the extreme cowboy challenge on her Welsh pony. I'd love to see it.

Speaking of Ace, he is royally pissed at me. I got up to the ranch to pay board last Saturday and he wouldn't come over to see me. When Ashley rode him over, he turned his head away. I wanted to cry. His saddle came back from Schleese, but it is shifting side-to-side. The fitter may be able to come out on Sunday, but Ashley can't be there to ride him and I can't climb into the saddle either. It will be interesting.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Human Target


While Len and I feel we are slowly moving human targets these day, "The Human Target" is actually a television series which premiers on Sunday night at 8 p.m. (7 Central) on your local Fox (not Fox News) channel. I've seen the pilot, and it is great fun with terrific casting. I may be prejudiced, but the critics and test audiences agree.

The Len Wein (with artist Carmine Infantino) character debuted in DC Comics back in 1972--it was Len's very first new character creation--and had a 7-episode TV series almost 20 years ago starring Rick Springfield with great production design by comic book artist great Michael Kaluta. (I remember we had a party the night it premiered, and the sewer backed up. Was that a night to remember.)

The new series stars Mark Valley, Chi McBride, and Jackie Earle Haley. We had a great time when we met them at Comic-con last summer (Len's between Jackie and Mark in the photo above), and Len's 6-part comic book mini-series which ties into the show starts coming out at the beginning of February. While we, the walking wounded, thought we'd throw a viewing party, we've been invited to the official cast and crew party on Sunday evening. I'm thinking about bringing along a Sharpie, getting the cast to autograph my cast, and auctioning it for the Hero Initiative (which benefits older comics creators) when it comes off. It seems appropriate, or at least a fun idea.

Please do tune in. It will help pay for a new house if it succeeds. The second episode runs on Wednesday following American Idol, and its regular spot will precede American Idol on Wednesday.

Thanks to everyone for your good wishes. My doctor decided to wait another two weeks before making a decision about surgery. While I'd rather not have surgery, if it will speed up the process of getting better, I'll deal with it. It's rough having both of us function at less than full capacity at the same time.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Falling

I'm still here, but not quite whole.

The old year ended and the new one began badly. I have a cast from the middle of my upper left arm to my fingers. On the Monday after Christmas, I tripped on a sprinkler head and went face first into an asphalt driveway. I tried to keep my arm safe, but it didn't work--the ulna broke close to the elbow and the radius cracked there. The x-ray technician said it probably would not have broken but for the metal in my arm from when I broke the ulna 8 years ago.

It was ugly when I tried to get up, but I realized I was in trouble right away, so I sent my niece to get wood and Ace's leg-wraps and we made a splint and headed home. The girls kept asking "Don't you want an ambulance? Don't you want to go to the hospital?" Been there, done that. No thanks if I can avoid it. We managed to figure out the name of the surgeon who took care of me last time, and Len and I headed to his office/clinic where I was x-rayed and put into a cast. On Monday, we'll see if I'm going to avoid surgery. Keep your fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, as we got the house ready for what was supposed to be our holiday party last weekend, Len had a bit of a scare that saw a four-night stay at Cedars Sinai. We were lucky that friends were at the house, since I can't drive very well with the cast, and that we were able to bypass most of the people in the Cedars wait room to get into the ER. The treatment stopped the acute problem, but our personal doctor came in and outlined a series of things which would need to be done before Len got released, so he was admitted. He looked great and sounded chipper throughout, you'd never know anything was wrong except for the huge bandage on his neck.

We are grateful for friends who dug through the ruins of our house and who have provided transportation services over the past week. We've got a good support system. Special thanks to Bob, Becky, Kerry, Bob, Lisa Jane, Karen, Chase, and the much appreciated Dr. Michael for helping us through this round of trouble.

So my 11 days off from work wasn't quite as much fun or as productive as I planned. My horse won't remember me when next I see him. We are moving everybody to a new barn at the end of the month, and I feel I will be unable to help. And I do miss my pretty boy right now. I'm glad I got his Christmas cookies to him before this happened.