Thursday, April 26, 2007

LA Festival of Books

Dude! Life is busy right now. I have had scarcely a moment to vacuum and do laundry, let along post stuff here.

However, I'm not too busy to attend the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, which will be on the UCLA campus this Saturday and Sunday. It's a madhouse of books, art, talks, panels, fresh food, and lots of people, all on the lovely UCLA campus in Westwood. This year they've got everyone from Kareen Abdul Jabar to Julie Andrews to Jim Lehrer.... to Joseph Wambaugh, James Ellroy, Ray Bradbury, Lee Iacocca, and Frank McCourt.

The Fest is free, but parking is not, so figure on $8 to park. Last year I ended up spending a lot more when I got a lithograph of an illustration by Garth Williams (one of my childhood faves) from "Cricket in Tims Square.

So LA denizens - go! I'll try to report back. More info here:

And here:,0,267803.story?coll=cl-books-features

Happy reading!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Santa Anita Derby

Ventured off to Santa Anita to watch the ponies run. For $5 general admission, it's hard to beat the spectacle of beautiful horses ripping down a track at 40 mph. As you can see from my fabulous (if I do say so myself) photo above, King of the Roxy was in the lead in the Derby as they neared the finish line. But longshot Tiago came roaring up behind him to win the day.

Santa Anita is a beautiful track. Because it was Derby day, it was packed with all sorts of people, from hardened old-timers to families with babies. My only complaint was that the food was terrible and difficult to find. Long lines just to get a Diet Coke led to thirst problems and interfered with betting.

Had trouble fitting everyone in to this photo because I brought my wonderful telephoto lens (thanks, Randy!) so I could capture the faraway action on the track. Valerie peeks in on the left, then Mike, Kim, and Maria at the top right.

Maria did a better job of getting us all in the frame. Me, Val, Mike, and Kim. Valerie had a great run of picking winners, and this was her first time at the track. Beginner's luck, gosh darn it.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

So It Goes

Farewell to a terrific writer and an even better human being. Kurt Vonnegut died last night of injuries from a fall at the age of 84.
His own words serve as a better epitaph than I could conjur. As the New York Times said, his philosophy may best be summed up by these words from his 1965 novel, God Bless You Mr. Rosewater or Pearls Before Swine:
“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ ”
As a writer, I find the advice below, which he wrote about how to write short stories, of great value:
1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4. Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
5. Start as close to the end as possible.
6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

More Dating Tips

Yes, more delicious, juicy dating tips! Single? Take note! Married? Smugly remind yourself how great it is NOT to be dating.

The same caveat applies as to my previous dating tips post - I'm a woman who dates men, so this advice is slanted in that direction. But with a little imagination, you can apply some of these tips to women.

1. Don't lovingly describe another woman's breasts and nipples during a first date. In fact, it's best to avoid the word "nipples" entirely. No, you are not showing me how sensual you are. You're being an insensitive bonehead. How would you like it if I babbled on and on about another man's fabulous penis?

Yes, this happened to me. If it hadn't, giving this advice would never have occurred to me.

2. If you're interested in someone at work, do not secretly hover behind them as they read their email. You'll be caught, and you'll seem creepy. If caught, do not then say "I didn't mean to read your email over your shoulder." I know that what you really didn't mean to do was get caught doing it. In addition, do not then use the information thus gleaned to start a conversation with the object of your interest. As in, "I didn't mean to snoop, but I couldn't help seeing you were reading an email from the University of Chicago alumni association. I grew up in Chicago!"

3. Men, open the door for your female date. Yes, feminists like this. It's considerate. Take any opportunity to show thoughtfulness.

4. Men, walk your date to her car at the end of the date.

5. Men, if you're lucky enough to have spent some intimate time with a woman in your apartment and she decides to leave after the festivities are over, haul your ass into some pants and walk her out to her car. Do not blink at her sleepily from your door, wave at her vaguely, then slam it shut and double lock it, leaving her in the dark to find her way past vagrants through puddles and rain, to a cold car. If you wish to have a follow up date with her, try to be as considerate and thoughtful as possible.

6. In that vein, as you wish her goodbye from her car, ask her to call you when she gets home "To be sure you get home safely." This is not required, but I highly recommend it. She'll call you when she gets home, you'll have another few minutes of sweet conversation, and you'll have endeared yourself to her for all eternity.