Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Home Again, but Not for Long

We're home again for a little while. Comicon was exhausting, as always, but we had a fine time. The reaction to the Human Target pilot was enthusiastic and I've been catching press notices about it thanks to Google Alerts. I'm hoping it will be a huge success so I can buy the house I want and hold grand parties in it while Ace grazes in the back yard in a happy retirement.

We got together with James Moran, a British writer who has worked on Dr. Who, Torchwood, and Crusoe, and his wife Jodie Kearns, an opera singer, for dinner last night. We never saw them at Comicon, and they came back to L.A. for a few days before heading back to London. Because of Twitter and Facebook, we knew they were around but it's purely by chance that you run into friends in a crowd of 150,000. Even when you plan a meeting, it's hard to find people. James and Jodie are staying in Santa Monica, so we took them out to El Cholo, an L.A. restaurant that dates back to the 1920s, which has a location close to their hotel. We introduced them to margaritas, table-side-made guacamole, and green corn tamales, which is just about my favorite combination of traditional L.A. cuisine. They were duly impressed, so I suggested they might try The Border Grill before they leave town. That restaurant is walking-distance from their hotel. It was a relaxing dinner with excellent conversation, something that can be lacking in the Comicon environment.

While it was doubtful it would happen until yesterday, I'm taking a quick trip back East to head to the western foothills of the Catskill Mountains for my high school reunion. I'd rather not say how many years, but I have great fondness for that particular year and its place in history.

As I've mentioned before, I haven't gotten on a plane since September 7, 2001, when we flew back from New York. I haven't seen the edited skyline of the city in person. I'm arriving on a red-eye, so that should be interesting.

I'm planning on taking "Talkie Tina," our Magellan GPS unit along with me. She and I don't get along very well, but it will be easier than following a map without a navigator. I'm pretty sure that my automatic pilot will turn on once I get off Long Island (where I attended college) and out of the greater New York City environs. I would be hard pressed to count the number of times I've made the trip by car between New York and Delaware County, but it has been a long stretch since the last time. I doubt there will be enough hours to do all of the things I'd like to cram in the 5 days I'll be there, but I'm going to do as many as I can. I've got my fingers crossed for some good estate sales on Saturday morning, and the county fair should at least be set up before I head back down state on Sunday (it will be open if I wait until Monday, but I'm not sure about doing that.) I hope that my small home town has an Internet cafe or wifi at the library, because I guarantee my mother isn't going to have any kind of a hook-up at home. OMG. What will I do?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Comicon 2009: Saturday

Saturday promised to be a busy day, and it was. I went off to have breakfast with Ginjer Buchanan, an old friend who is an editor in New York. This was her first Comicon. She was attending because one of her authors wrote the novels upon which True Blood is based.

After spending two and a half hours catching up with gossip, she went off to author-wrangle and I stopped at Horton Plaza where I picked up a black pant-suit for an upcoming event. Now I've got to find some silk shells to wear with it. I dropped that off at the room, changed my clothes, and went off to catch Len interviewing his old friend Doug Moench, one of this year's Comicon guests. Doug told a very funny story about working with Dino di Laurentis on Red Sonja. Apparently, the producer does not read English, so all of Doug's drafts were being translated to Italian. It took Doug a while to figure out that when Dino had a meeting with him and insisted there were not to be vampires in Red Sonja. Since Doug had not written any vampires in the script, he began to wonder who was rewriting his work. Then he realized that he did have a scene with leeches, and that leeches were being somehow translated as vampires. It was very funny. And I thought humor didn't translate well.

Len finished the panel and we ran off to the Human Target events, which started with a press conference where the cast, writers, and Len were shuttled in front of a variety of TV and print reporters and asked pretty much the same questions by each of them. Then we went to the room where an audience of some 3000 people were being shown the Human Target pilot, which got a great response. Len, three of the writers, and the three stars were then called up on stage for questions for about half an hour. Then we were shuttled off to the Warner Bros. signing area on the show floor. The plus-ones got to watch from the holding area upstairs.

Here's the photograph I got of Jackie Earle Haley, Len, Mark Valley, and Chi McBride as we were waiting in the back areas of the convention center to get to the Warner Bros. signing booth.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Comicon 2009: Friday Evening

The Warner Bros. Television cocktail party was held on the 4th floor terrace of the Hilton Hotel on the bay. It was a lovely evening with good food and a pretty sunset.The casts of shows like The Big Bang Theory, Dexter, and Heroes, along with writers and directors were there. There was also a good showing of folks from upcoming shows, like The Vampire Diaries and the reason we were invited, The Human Target. I met Mark Valley and Jackie Earle Haley (and Jackie's wife Amelia), chatted with Jim Parsons (above), and hung out with Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady and his wife, and Brian Lowry of Variety.Len met Jackie (together, above) at the Watchmen premier. Len had written the Watchmen video game and Jackie voiced Rorschach for the game and played the role in the movie. He has a newly created character in The Human Target. He's a terrific actor whom I remember fondly from Breaking Away. He and his wife are really lovely people and we had a good time talking with them.

Tomorrow will be Len's busy day. Not only is he doing The Human Target panel and press conference, he's interviewing Doug Moench and doing the Ben 10 panel.

I'm planning to run over to the antique shops at Ocean Beach and get back to take pictures at the press conference and panel tomorrow. Things were so much easier before they built the baseball stadium down here (right next door to our hotel) and the antique shops were within walking distance of our hotel. But urban renewal and Ebay have combined to eliminate the shops, so now only a few remain in far-flung locations. Pity.

Comicon 2009: Friday

Today's the day I actually braved the crowds and went over to the convention center to catch The Big Bang Theory panel. I did cheat a little bit by imposing on my friendship with Bill Prady to ask for guest passes, so we could have decent seats without having to sit in line for hours. I met up with Bill's assistant and got our passes and one for actress Chase Masterson.
The cast, along with co-creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady put on an hysterical panel. It was preceded by a clip reel of scenes which relate to Comicon attendees. A huge favorite is "Rock, Paper, Sissors, Lizard, Spock" which JimParsons was asked to do live. He can't. Apparently, every one of the 12 or so takes will be available on the Season 2 DVD set, due out in September.

Jim did a great job answering the question about how Sheldon would respond to being nominated for an Emmy Award (as Jim was last week) and what he'd do for an acceptance speech when he wins. Here's the response:

And now, it is time for me to walk over to the Hilton for the Warner Bros. Television reception where I'll see the folks from TBBT and meet the folks who are bringing Len's baby The Human Target to the small screen this winter.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

General Musings

I don't like working on my birthday. I'd rather spend the time with Ace. But we're leaving for San Diego tomorrow and I need to conserve my vacation days this year. I'm not even taking off next Monday, which I originally scheduled, because I'm still debating a last-minute trip to my high school reunion back east. The idea of a whirlwind weekend to New York State is not nearly as appealing as a 10 day visit, but I can't be back east for that long right now.

The heat makes riding unappealing. Not so much the riding as the tacking up. I was sick to my stomach after tacking Ace up for an 8:30 lesson on Saturday morning and just didn't have much energy for anything except suppling him for his lesson with Ashley after mine. It worked out alright, but I hate that feeling. When it was 110 at 4:00 yesterday, I canceled my 5:15 lesson. We're supposed to do a lesson at 8:15 tomorrow morning, so I hope it is at least tolerable then.

San Diego is always a great city to visit, but especially so when the temperatures are supposed to be 25 or more degrees cooler than Los Angeles in the summer. A couple of years ago while we were at Comicon, it was 119 degrees at Pierce and there was a horse show going on. They were really lucky that they could use the covered arena, because they had to pretty much cancel the rest of the events that couldn't take place in that shade. I was happy not to be around for it.

I'm looking forward to meeting Chi McBride and Jackie Earle Haley at the Human Target panel on Saturday. The Human Target is another one of Len's off-spring and it will be a mid-season entry on Fox. We enjoyed the pilot, and the changes from the original material seem to work. Rick Springfield starred in an 8-episode version of it that ran not quite 20 years ago. Can a revived Swamp Thing be far behind?

We're also planning to go to The Big Bang Theory panel on Friday, but not if I have to stand in line. Which is why it is nice to know the show runners. I'm waiting for e-mail from one of them telling us how to by-pass the crowds. Sometimes it is a really good thing to be married to a comic book god. I was sorry that TBBT didn't get nominated for an Emmy, but Jim Parsons richly deserves his nomination for playing the wonderfully quirky Sheldon and I hope he wins.

During the day, except for those times when Len is on a panel, I'm free to wander about greater San Diego. I like to avoid the crush of 150,000 comic book fans all crammed into the convention center. I usually will only do the main floor at the Wednesday evening preview, but I actually prefer it when someone slips us exhibitor passes and we can get in before the preview crowd. That's what we did last year. Because Len was an honored guest last year, I spent a lot more time at the convention than I usually do--he was on a lot more panels. Plus my friends Melinda Snodgrass and Connie Willis were at the convention and on panels and I wanted to support them as well. This year is a lot easier for me to be selfish.

A couple of years ago, when the convention coincided with my birthday, I brought my riding gear along and found a rental stable where I went out with a private tour guide for a couple of hours and we walked and trotted on several thousand acres, including a wildlife preserve, east of San Diego proper. I had a great time, my guide was a very entertaining 15 year old, but the heat was as bad as it was in L.A. I did enjoy riding the dun quarter horse, even when he did a 180 underneath me because a bicycle came zipping up behind us. Luckily, I was relaxed and well stuck to the saddle. Love those well-seasoned trail horses.

We're going to look at a house right after I'm done with work today, before Len takes me out to dinner. We may look at more than one house, because I saw a photograph of a spectacular place in one of the neighborhoods I keep checking out and it's within our feasible range. It wasn't quite where I was looking, but the inside and the patio is definitely worth the consideration. The sink even looks out a window, which is something I really like. What we definitely need is more space, and a chunk of that space needs to be open because we love to give parties.

So, for my birthday, the spousal unit gave me an iPod, which I got to take the place of my Palm Tungsten 5, which gave up its ghost right after I got my netbook last month. I managed to get the Palm information into the netbook before the Palm went to Jesus, but now I'm trying to figure out how to migrate the data to the Mac's address book to sync with the Palm. The netbook is great, and I'm taking that to San Diego rather than a full-sized notebook, but I still don't want to be carrying it around with me all day. I've only had the iPod since Saturday, but I am deeply in love with it. I bought some music, but more importantly, I bought a bunch of reference apps, a couple of trivia games, and even a version of Jeopardy to keep me amused during the trip to San Diego (Len is a lousy passenger, so I am perfectly resigned to letting him do the driving while I nap or do other things.) Tonight, I need to add some pictures of Ace to it, because people always ask about him.

Some of my friends contributed to the restoration of my Hugh Jackman and Viggo Mortensen collections by getting me Blu-ray disks of Hidalgo and Appaloosa and a DVD of Oklahoma. Rounding out the horse theme, I was given a replacement in Blu-ray of Seabiscuit. I can't wait to watch them when we get back.

When Len goes to Toronto in August, I'm going to invite the ladies over so we can watch Viggo in Alatriste, which has not been released in English. I got the Spanish release with subtitles. I've read most of the Perez-Reverte novels about Captain Alatriste (I had them all in hard back, until the fire) so I was disappointed when the film never opened here. I'm always up for a good swashbuckler and Viggo does know how to use a sword.

Monday, July 13, 2009

July Horse Show

Going to a horse show as an owner, but not a rider, is a bit like going to your child's school awards show. It's an emotional experience when you find out other people think he's the best in his class, too. Once again, Ace stepped up to the plate and delivered for the team, making us all very proud of our pretty boy.
Ace looks a little sleepy (or bored) in this picture with Ashley Shrader, but maybe he was just thinking that it was about time he got the recognition he deserves. Ace's wearing the first of four blue ribbons he won at the open horse show sponsored by the Arabian Horse Association of the San Fernando Valley on Sunday in Simi Valley. Ash did a fine job of riding him in six classes and where he wasn't first, he went second and third. (In both of those classes, the win went to an Arab mare who used to be at the same barn as we were, so Ace spent time nickering at her over his back fence. She has a very nice owner who is home from college for the summer. Katie and Ashley have a long history of competing together and against each other.)

The ribbon on his bridle was for the obedience class, in which he took a second in May. Earlier that morning, he had done his first trail class--where we expected him to excel--but the results weren't given until hours later. He did win his division in trail, with no hesitation about anything. Before that class opened, and the kids were all walking the course, he did have an issue with the mail box. But he had a chance to look and smell inside and that was that. Once Ashley was on his back, it was all about the job.

He also got the blue in the open English class and the ground-poles class. Gayle and several of the other adults teased that next time we'd put him in the jumping class, but I said "no thanks." I'm not interested and I'd rather he didn't get an independent idea about it.
In addition to riding Ace, Ashley rode her own pony, Curious Curio (above, with Ace), in all of the cross-rail classes plus a different division of the trail class. She brought home a blue and placed in the others.
It was a fine day for all of the riders from Total Equestrian Experience, as the selection (not the total collection) of ribbons shows. Credit goes to Gayle Paperno, who's a great teacher.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Travel Plans

I've just booked our rooms and got our memberships for the World Fantasy Convention in San Jose over Halloween weekend this year. It's been quite a few years since the last time we attended the convention, which is too bad, because we used to go every year. It was our favorite annual convention to attend. Although it used to be a business weekend for me, especially when I was SFWA attorney and when I was working on the portrait project, we liked it because it was relatively small (about 750 people max) and mostly professionals working in publishing fantasy and science fiction.

I met Neil Gaiman for the first time at WFC in Chicago in 1990 and Len and I decided to get married at WFC in Tucson in 1991 (not married at the convention, but on Christmas later that same year.) We spent a week in New Orleans, which included the convention, around 1995. Len missed one in Baltimore because he was sick, but I went alone and saw old friends from DC that trip. We had a great time the weekend it was in Monterey but bailed on a trip to Minneapolis because the fires that year made us uncomfortable about leaving L.A. That's the fun part about WFC and Worldcon: you get to go places you might not otherwise go. On the other hand, there is often little time to enjoy the city in which it is set. We did come to the conclusion that 8 nights is a bit much to visit New Orleans for a 4 day convention, but now we feel no reason to visit the city for Mardi Gras.

The nice thing about San Jose is we don't have to worry about catching a plane. We can take a nice drive up the 101, do a little shopping along the way, and have a car available in case anyone wants to spend a day in San Francisco. Bliss.

I'm doing the math to see if I can take time to go East in August for my high school reunion. Some folks I haven't seen in a very long time are talking about attending and it is incredibly tempting to get my doctor to prescribe enough drugs for me to get on a plane for the trip. Len's got a scheduling conflict, which means I've also got to do my own driving when I get to the East Coast. My home town is in the Catskills, not close to any airport which lands my choice of small plane (nothing smaller than a 737, thank you.) With a day job, I've actually got to count vacation days and, this year, factor in the possibility that we will be furloughed for 7 days at Christmas (which means I won't have to use vacation days to take 2 weeks off, but I will have to worry about how much money I won't be making) plus at least another 3 days at some point during the fiscal year. In case you haven't heard, California is in deep financial crisis and I work for a community college district facing huge budget cuts.