Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Bellows at Noon on Friday

Also known as Paradise. Just got back.

Bellows is on an Air Force base, so it's only open to the public on weekends, beginning Fridays at noon. This is the best time to go to the best beach on Oahu, and one of the best beaches in the world.

The waves were small this time, but I still caught a few. After all, it was just me, bobbing in the warm, blue green water. I think I spotted these people waaaaaay down the beach, futzing with their boogie boards.

It's home, this water.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Lobster Night

My friend Pam held a girls-only Lobster Night at her house in Burbank the other night. That's her adorable son Hunter eyeing the cooked product. What a feast!

Sort of...

I arrived to find the lobsters alive, of course, in a cooler full of salt water, awaiting their demise. I lifted the lid and glanced inside -- and that was my undoing. There the ugly little creatures lay atop one another, feebly waving their antennae. Lack of oxygen in the water had reduced them to weary acquiescence. I hadn't ever met my food before I ate it before. I felt a stab of pity as I realized these creatures were already dying. And soon I would help cook them alive and eat them. Oy. My stomach gave a lurch.

Then Pam's friend Dorothy, expertly grilling the veggies, told me how sometimes they try to scuttle out of the pot as they cook... Dorothy laughed at this thought - and at my face as I felt another jolt of queasiness.

I did not enter the kitchen as the live lobsters were taken in for the finale. I was later told how they reared up to avoid the boiling hot water as they were lowered into it. Maritza told me that she just convinced herself that they were big ugly bugs who deserved to die. I tried to convince myself of that. I really did.

We began with salad, grilled veggies, corn on the cob, bread... All delicious. I was filling up fast. Then the lobsters, now a beautiful red, were brought out. I watched as the other women ravenously dismembered the shellfish, plucked out the juicy meat, and ate it.

I felt sick. And hypocritical. I eat meat. I eat pork, chicken, shrimp, fish... why couldn't I eat these lobsters? They were already dead. If I didn't eat mine, someone else would. But I just couldn't do it. I had one bite of one of Dorothy's claws, all buttery deliciousness, and that was it. I tried not to watch the exoskeletons and black/green guts pile up on everyone else's plates.

Ann-Marie took my lobster home for her husband, and she even paid my share of the lobster cost, most generously. Later on there were strawberries and shortcake. The conversation and company were wonderful. But I couldn't help feeling the ghosts of those eaten lobsters hovering over my shoulders.

No, I haven't turned vegetarian. I love meat - as long as I don't meet it first.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Tag, I'm It!

My friend Wendee tagged me (check out her cool blog at in this thing going around amongst bloggers. I'm supposed to list five things in my fridge, purse, nightstand, wallet, closet, and car.

Normally, I'm not keen on "chain" stuff, but this one holds no dire warnings if you don't participate and promises nothing if you do. And it's all about ME. What could be more fun?

Fridge (covered with postcards from foreign lands and photos of my friends and their children, by the way): Britta water filter, Diet Coke, cat food can with one of those rubber cover thingies on it to keep it fresh, veggies, grated Parmesan/Romano cheese mix from Trader Joes, Ginger Ale, beer, wine, leftover veggie pasta, leftover refried beans, tortillas... Okay that's way more than five, but my fridge is always packed with food. I like knowing that I can open it and find something to eat.

Purse: Notebook and pen, sunglasses, checkbook, mini-purse with lipstick, phone.

Nightstand: Moved a few things out of this recently because my Mom is coming to visit and if she snoops I don't want her to find anything. So it's rated PG for now! Four books (Great Expectations [finished reading, haven't put it away], Capote [the biography] The Story of the Amulet [classic victorian children's book] and one of the Calvin & Hobbes collection I inherited from my friend Brian), a glass of water, my glasses, linen spray in supposedly soothing tones of lavendar and something else, which I haven't used in ages.

Wallet: Cash, a couple of credit cards, license, insurance cards, stamps.

Closet: Usually there's a cat in there somewhere. Luggage waiting to be used for a trip, scarves I never wear, clothes I do wear.

Car: Relatively clean! Leather interior that kinda smells like french fries. A paper bag full of tennis balls, two tennis racquets, container 'o kitty litter, notebook.

Gonna tag my friend Valerie and her cool blog Artifical Sweetener ( to see what she's hiding...

Friday, May 05, 2006

"Notes" on the End of the TV Season

The editor of Monsters and Critics says that of the six or seven new columns featured on that website, mine vies for most popular, along with one called Wedlock. I know - small potatoes in the big world of media, but nonetheless encouraging to a writer like me, who assumes no one is paying any attention.

My latest column (go to: and click on "Notes from the Wasteland") lays bare just how new shows are picked for the fall season.

Here's a hint -- it's all about the money. No surprise there, but in the column I go into the behind-the-scenes machinations that make or break a new TV show. Also included - my picks for which shows "on the bubble" should be picked up for fall, and which should be dropped. Take a look.

Monday, May 01, 2006

LA Book Fest

I attended the Los Angeles Book Festival this weekend. It's quite an extravaganza that takes place on the grounds of UCLA. There are hundreds of tents, filled with books, representing publishers, writers groups, authors, organizations (everyone from the Getty Museum to the Scientologists) and anyone else with a connection to books.

I arrived late on Sunday - around 2pm, and got a chance to listen to Sebastian Junger talk about his latest book, A Death in Belmont. Here's the sort of author you dream about, a handsome man in his early forties, tan, fit, smart, liberal -- who can write! He discussed getting shot at in Afghanistan, and how that educated him on how little people remember during a violent event, since his own memory of a fire fight agains the Taliban turned out to be faulty. He was thoughtful, and able to talk about his life or death experiences without sounding self centered or pretentious.

I almost bought his book, but I'd already spent a bundle on a lithograph -- you can see it above. It's a limited edition, signed by one of my favorite illustrators of children's books, the legendary Garth Williams. Those who read Charlotte's Web or Stuart Little will recognize his soft, warm, expressive style This drawing is from A Cricket in Times Square, by George Seldon. If you have kids from 6 - 10 who like to read, and they haven't read this book yet -- BUY IT! It's simple, sweet and funny. Here you can see Chester Cricket, Tucker the Mouse, and Harry Cat feasting in Tucker's drainpipe home near the subway in Times Square. When I read the book, I'd never been to New York City, and this book gave me a marvelous picture of it's crowded, skyscrapered, multicultural life. I know very little about Garth Williams, but I know he must've loved animals, given how beautiful and full of character his drawings of them are.

Looking at this drawing makes me smile and feel warm inside. When I bought it, the woman taking my order said, "Garth Williams. Sometimes I think I learned to read because of him."

And that's it -- exactly. The power of art is incalculable. Even something as simple as the illustration in a children's book can be something you carry with you the rest of your life.