Friday, October 29, 2010

NaNoWriMo to Grant Birthday Wish

The gods of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) will be with many next month, hovering in their minds and creaked necks - their raw mouse wrists - as they attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. That's approximately 5.5 pages per day to reach the goal of having a 175-page work of fiction in hand by November 30, midnight.

Thirty days and 30 nights of literary abandon, they say. Freakish novel writing for an amateur at best, I say. But if the body gods will carry me 26.2 miles without forsaking me, maybe the NaNoWriMo gods won't either.

A week ago, I turned 28. The Day of Disappointment in the Seventh-day Adventist histories. My parents even picked the date. So did the Adventists. Growing up, every school morning devotional with my mom and brother over orange juice or cocoa and bread, which landed on my birthday, had the Great Disappointment as the topic of choice. No cool story about Susie's stolen ice skates or Robbie not giving in to peer pressure. Nope. Just about how we got it wrong.

My birthday sometimes turns into a disappointment. Because I have such grandiose expectations like zero zits and double rainbows. I love surprises and gifts, sweet text messages and cards. I love flowers and jelly beans and signs the people I love GET me. I love that most remember and mark the day of our birth as special, something worth celebrating, indulging. It's a day to be alive. A reason to paint your fingernails or get a haircut, drink an entire bottle of wine or spend 13 hours fishing.
Self-oil-changing on base

It seems like we're always on a budget though. Because we are. But this year we drove down to Destin - for dinner and music on a boat covered in white lights; it motors out of the bay and into the Gulf in a perfect line, to avoid the water sometimes only 3-feet deep. The invisible canal is marked with red lights on the left, green on right. Each light post has a pelican sitting on it, camped out for the night, the red or green glow shining through its thin bird feet. Watching this from the decks is the best part of the booze cruise for 80-year-olds.

Cary is going home to California before his primary training starts immediately after Thanksgiving. I’m staying home in Pensacola, taking my new Mac mini, double monitor setup - with a Bootcamp PC tucked safely inside for work - for a true spin. Working and writing. Zero distractions. Probably home for the entire series of winter holidays due to few frequent flyer seats and Cary’s devildarned schedule. The holidays will be prolific.

It may be a while before the blog is blogged. The wannabe book will take priority. But if the dreaming well is dry, and the creaks and wrists become too testy, it may be time for some keyboard lifting and non-novella words. Besides, where else does one write about the Lost in Translation wig for Halloween, or the plans to whisk Cary away to Disneyworld with whiskey, or to one of the last launches of the space program. Where else would the logs of life be published without strenuousness or compromise.

But the smell of a blown out birthday candle is one of my favorites. Time to make my own wish come true, 3 days and counting. Then lift-off.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Go Forth, Television

The 2010 fall season of television kicked off with a bang. A big one.

Since the world of freelance means PowerPoint presentations on Hong Kong time and novel writing at noon, I find myself more myself lately with DVR stints glued to the box that should be a flatscreen.

Naturally, I had to reserve a spot in my blogoworld for a review of this pleasingly even numbered and high-keeled season of comedic and dramatic entertainment that spans the back-to-school bustle, calm weather, my birthday, and Halloween.

It's half over, fall 2010 television, and, as it should be, that's making me panic. I mean, we've already had the midseason, two-week breaks in shows, which make me want to grip the throats of the actors - push down the writers' pencils - and unleash my full wrath on the big wigs in charge of building intensity. (The people who need to come find me.)

Like Cary and I say, 'lock 'em in a room and make them create.'

To sate my appetite, and wet yours, these are the air wave polished gems that deserve full attention, no blogging or Facebooking.

The Big Bang Theory
Even if only the intro song played for me once a week, it would suffice as my happy pill. I entered the show at season 4, upon little bro-in-law's recommendation. I will not leave. I had to catch up. I had to find out why the elevator was broken. Why Kaley Cuoco was drawn to these boys with beautiful minds - man nerds. I had to hear every smart in more ways than one comment that Sheldon had to say. Let the nerd inside us all reign. Who doesn't understand why a world without USB ports isn't a world at all.

30 Rock
Need I say more. It goes like this...

Cool person: Did you watch 30 Rock last night? (This person really wants to share some funny lines like "Help! I need to get all these swears out of my system, you stupid assholes.")

Uncool person: No, I don't really watch it.

Cool person who's becoming annoying: What?! It's like the best show ever! ... Just watch it. From the beginning if you can. Like everything else.

Uncool person: I don't really watch T.V.

Cool person: Well, shit.

Running Wilde
This new comedy's 30 minutes goes by much too fast. Will Arnette, Felicity, a girl named Puddle, and a next door neighbor named Fa'ad stir up a lesson in giving and taking every week. There's opulence and an ongoing game of existential hide-and-seek. There's a going green and a tree house, science projects and school dances. And Felicity wears really cute clothes. There's price fixing - a liter of soda costs $100 to Will, but he doesn't realize his heart-in-the-right-place butler is pocketing the change because Wilde Oil has made Will wealthy enough to make a dent in our debt. It wins the ALY for best new comedy series.

Dark Blue
This is included even though the timing is a little off. But the trailers were off-putting. So in between the summer lull and fall TVbusters, I started TiVo-ing it with a TiVo. The shows were grizzly and surprisingly not too much. Well, sometimes they're too much. But it's okay. McDermott is back. And there's this kick-ass girl cop Jamie. And Dean, Ryan's brother Trey from The O.C., is the token hottie who's not too token-looking. Hottie-driven shows are important as you'll see. And Casting usually tries to please all orientations. (Mea culpe for all the references lost on TV haters and indifferencers, but you probably haven't read this far so nevermind.)

The Vampire Diaries
You new it was coming. WB slash CW and all. The vampire show that serves as fang-lover life support until True Blood returns next year, and the first installment of Breaking Dawn hits theaters. It is young. It is cheesy. But it's decently scary, full of surprises, and filled with shots of hot bodies, blue eyes, and black nail polish. The team gets credit for choosing veins and fangs over constant good looks - and alluding to werewolf nudity. The cherry is the fast becoming token bad boy hottie with funny or ominous lines. The true question is, how does Elena's hair get and stay that straight and shiny?

Oh, WB. I can't help but love you. Cary, keep your phfs to yourself. These people gave us the new Buffy and Dawson's Creek. Now they're giving us an old youth, er young adult, spy femme action drama. The star's name is Maggie Q. How cool is that? Add Dylan from Desperate Housewives as the tough, willful recruit with secrets shared and not; an all grown up Shane West; and a boss man from 24 - and you get a nice little piece of cake. The indulgence is in the suspended disbelief that good ol' Maggie Q wanders around in a tech-ridden loft wearing a J. Crew-ish nightgown between the operations her skinny minny legs carry her too. But the overall plot is intriguing. Because the more it moves along, the more I can see Dylan and Shane getting together. And having babies.

The Showtime show with a hunk and bite. It has blood without the gore. Cussing without the senselessness. There are twists and turns and guest stars with roles so intense you can't blink. The kicker is that it makes me wanna give up my firstborn for a writing gig on it. Any show that does this is a keeper. Season 5. Julia Stiles has me hooked on Lumen. Lumen and Dexter. Doesn't that sound cool together? More babies, please.

I feel like this show deserves a more substantial review, with substance. But the best I can think to convey at blogworthy length is that Michael C. Hall is it. Carries it. And I like how he dresses. Wow, I am not sounding critical at all. But once I know the writers and creator are in sync with what I and like fans want, it's a guaranteed good time. And isn't that what television is all about. We want a killer central character, writing that don't quit, and a storyline that indulges out every fantastical whim. As Liz Lemon would say, Blamo!

Veronica Mars
This won the ALY for best new Netflix 'Watch Instantly.' I remembered watching bits of it in college, admiring Veronica's ability to head to school and into a sleuthing stint head to toe in Brass Plum bling and string. But I'd forgotten how the whole glow of the show, the cool apartment and detective dad and office, the laptops and messenger bags, the courage and coyness of Veronica - was much enviable and admirable. It's a contemporary Nancy Drew with a believable convertible, friends that rally George and Bess, and, oh yeah, visuals.

Marie Antoinette
This won the ALY for best movie channel debut. It didn't compre to the theater version because Sophia Coppola's colors and style, and arguably captivating quiet, need the big screen - but it was the best movie to watch while writing. Sophia inspires. From The Virgin Suicides to Lost in Translation. The best way to be distracted. There's something to be said about pink poker chips covered in champagne and frosting, high fashion, and girl power, that makes you want to write your own.

Choice Commercial
This season's run of Levi's commercials branded "go forth" is a little breath-catching and artsy fartsy American. Award!

My life as a mediocre sitcom...

The novel grocery cart; it corners like it's on rails.

The toothpaste is gone! Give it up.

What you get when you lose low card punishment games. 45 minutes. On your head.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bawwlls and N'awlins

A week ago we attended our first Navy Ball. But there aren't any umpire dresses in stores these days, and Cary doesn't call me Mrs. Lawson, and there wasn't organized dancing that involves holding high fives and walking in circles while giggling and avoiding eye contact. But I guess it was okay.

Naw, it was better than okay. We walked in a little wobbly due to a pre-party celebration, and I had to steer Cary away from a "make out" session in the museum IMAX theater. (I'm beginning to wonder if a writer's flinching honesty is wise when it comes to a naval officer's career - I may have to do some deleting and censoring once he has wings growing out of his back ... But until he has people actually answering to him, let's go hog wild, shall we?)

By night the Naval Aviation Museum is the same. Besides the stoppage of tours and IMAX movies and people under three feet of course. They cleared a spot in the north? south? east? west? wing. Smarty pants probably moved a couple jets around under the orders of the party planners. There were paper lanters I think. Wobbly. Pictures. Dancing. The usual centerpiece that makes it so you can't see the person across from you.

My dinner plate came with steak AND fish AND mashed potatoes. Well that solves everything now doesn't it. There were Oscar dresses and hair. And cocktail dresses, and dresses with just one strap. And while the guys were itching for the after party, or after nap, I realized I was too. Because they do a really nice, respectful memorial to Medal of Honor recipients and other great people from wars across time, but it takes a really long time. And they also have special entrances and exits for different groups of people like, well, I forget, and it's accompanied by this soft, short chiming that sounds like the doorbell to heaven. And it was cool and musical. But like I said. Wobbly.

So we left the ball for New Orleans. Well. We stayed up until three and then slept in 'til three, and then went home and slept some more. And then left for N'awlins. Happy Columbus Day.

We brought the tri-pod and stayed at a La Quinta (translation: behind Denny's) a few miles from downtown. But La Quinta rocks in my book because pets can stay, free of charge.

Our goal is to rid our brains of the imaginary New Orlens (not a typo - how I pronounce it now) and replace it with the real one. The real French Quarter (uneventful) and Bourbon Street (eventful - and smelly without the Venetian charm). The Mississippi River. Which we didn't even know was there, except we were walking along the water, listening to people shout, "Hey, that dog has three legs!", when a girl walks by on her phone and says, "I'm walking along the Mississippi." Ohhh.

I look up food reviews and Cary makes a reservation at Domenica, since it supposedly has the best pizza in New Orlens. The special is. It has tiny steak and gorgonzola and caramelized onions. It's like filet mignon (since that sounds like really good steak) smothered in a very mild blue cheese the texture of ricotta, visited by sweet, tangy veggies and a blistered crust. We ask our server for nightlife tips, but instead of heading to hear music that probably would have been the highlight of our trip, we wander the borders of cemeteries (if we ever run out of cement and marble, we should know where to go) - and then we go back to the hotel and watch National Geographic Explorer's The Science of Dogs.

I think my favorite parts of the trip were the tunnel on the 10 ... (It's so weird, I could take that interstate all the way to our house.) ... And seeing where Hurricane Katrina happened. While I never got the satisfaction of seeing water lines everywhere, better picturing the N'awlins world underwater like in a movie, I did learn a lot more thanks to Cary and Google - and I feel better about the Saints' story; they really do deserve to kick some ass. And recovery, in many senses of the word, is possible.

The week continued in a whirlwind as Cary worked the Starbase Atlantis kids camp on base at Whiting, and I finish my first freelance project. Good thing, because I'm going to need HBO back when the withdrawals kick in, and we need a second computer so I don't have to keep hoarding this one. Cary comes home, wanting the computer, but I give it to him eventually because he tells me funny stories about the kids during his day.

Little girl who has a crush on Cary: "We're moving to Hawaii!"

"Cool. Can I come?" (maybe he has a crush on her)

"Hm. I don't knowww. I'll have to ask, I guess."

"How long are you going to live there?"

"Oh not long - a couple weeks, or a year."

"You can move over to that extra seat if you want."

"Or youu could sit there."

We also found out this week that Cary's primary class up date has been moved up. From February to November. Glad I never plan anything beyond one week these days. Like ball shoes and road trips.

Friday, October 1, 2010

It's Britney, Bitch

Cary officially finished API (if you still don't know what that is, Google it; I'm not even providing a link) the day before yesterday. The last two weeks of air, water, and land survival training are under his belt. Having been strapped, slam dunked, twisted, pushed, dropped, deprived of air, and shown how to rub two sticks together (shown but not really honed), he is being debriefed today at his new duty station, Whiting - and this time, it's labeled "permanent" (which means reimbursement moolah for any of our moving expenses).

Okay, here's a video to explain the last six weeks of Cary's life - because I realized Google, myself, and Cary can't even decide what the acronym API stands for.

I appreciate a man who can fly a plane and jump into survival mode with a dozen other hard asses as well as esteem a pop diva. We settled in for Fox's Glee Tuesday night, the long-awaited Britney Spears episode with cameos and a dance-begging soundtrack. It was the highest rated series episode to date. The last TV show that grew in week two when compared to premiere week was Seinfeld in 1993 (audience age 18-49). It was also the number one trending topic on Twitter.

It's cool to be a loser.
Courtesy of
The top selling artist of the decade also knows how to ride with the punches. Forget the head shaving, umbrella poking, and odd, quick husband choice - not to mention the child endangerment - 63 million albums later, she can still make a good manager choice. Last spring, Spears' manager Adam Leber tweeted to fans "Do you guys want to see a Britney Spears episode on Glee?" Six million fans said yes in less than 10 minutes. (Talk about cheap, effective marketing. The Social Network movie might be incomplete without Jack Dorsey.) Ryan Murphy, Glee creator, got interested. You'd think American Idol creator Simon Fuller would take the hint.

Watch the full episode if you missed it, or watch it again, and follow the cast member Brittany's new Twitter account @BrittanyGLEE if you like offbeat comments akin to Creed's on The Office.

As we drive around later in the week, looking at mountain bikes, Tempurpedic beds, and longing for bigger, better electronics, we listen to Britney Spears' greatest hits and try out Mellow Mushroom.

It's a pizza baker like California Pizza Kitchen but with some differences like a menu page of hoagies and a menu page of calzones, and a menu page packed with beer names. And the pizza names and tastes are at least a little different and therefore my favorite, new. Plus, the sodas come in ginormous cups, those red ones that are plastic but meant to look like glass - but huge - so refills are few, and the soda is a more efficient and a less annoying bottomless. There's also a magical looking mushroom fountain that should grace the Teacups ride at Disneyland; it's the center of the back patio where we sit. And there's a rolling ball fountain out front that Cary can't stop playing with. Hm.

We end up at a dollar store, picking up some raw hide bones for Butters. I get distracted by cat toys, holiday dishes, and fairy wings. But we manage to leave with just the bones, following a car out of the parking lot that has a plastic sheet as its rear windshield. It billows and snaps as the car picks up speed. I don't need Mythbusters to tell me that's not aerodynamic.

I see another bagged window - just the back, little triangle one as usual - at the Asian diner Siam, a new favorite that's close to home. It's not just the good food, prices, cleanliness, and more than friendly service. It's the pineapple fried rice. It's got like all the food groups covered. The grain. Pineapple and raisins for your fruit. Cashews and chicken for more of your protein. A garnish of tomato, cucumbers, and cabbage for your veggies. Not to mention the stems of green onion. And some oil for energy (or lip moisturizing as my brother likes to say). Moreover, the chicken l'orange I tried at Yum's, a Chinese food dive I found in the midst of errands, in no way compared. I only got a couple bites down before I couldn't fight back images of bad meat.

When he gets home, I tell Cary about Yum's and how we need to go back to Siam. He briefs me on his debrief. February will probably be the latest point in time that he'll class up for primary pilot training as part of Training Air Wing 5 and hopefully get the new T6 over the old T34. But planes are planes, he says. So the next few months stretch out before us. A weekend in New Orleans. Holiday plans. My first official freelance project starts up next week. So maybe he should take a turn at making me lunch and cleaning the toilets. In that order. I'm back to being a working diva now, bitch.