Saturday, December 31, 2011

Farewell to the Old Year(s)

Today, the last day of 2011, I look back on the past and appreciate what was, in order to look forward to what will be in 2012.

That's me and Dad at Bellows when I was nine, the year I learned to bodysurf.

How lucky I am to have gone to such a place even once. But I spent that whole summer there, and I go back every year.

2011 was a real rollercoaster. I got an amazing agent, who then sold my book in a two-book deal to an editor I love. After years of effort, I finally achieved something I've always wanted.

But there were big losses and stresses too.  I'm not going to dwell on them, but let's just say 2011 was a real rollercoaster.

How grateful I am to be on the ride in the first place.

I hope you can reflect back on 2011 with gratitude and compassion for yourself an others.  And here's to a new year full of new adventures, old friends, discoveries, and laughs.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Top TV Picks 2011

So many delicious, complex, well written goodies inhabited this so-called vast wasteland. Now that wasteland has a lot of fecund, jungly pockets.

The weirdest, funniest, truest half hour of art/comedy you'll ever watch.

Game of Thrones
Based on one of my all-time favorite book series, this ambitious show takes its time to set up place, characters, and plot. Then it pulls your guts out. I knew it was coming, and still it wrecked me. Sometimes its even better than the books.

Complex southern characters plus Elmore Leonard's humor and humanity. Some amazing performances last season lifted this series to one of the best out there, ever. Deserving of way more Emmy nominations than it got.

The Borgias
Historical soap opera at its sexiest, bloodiest, and most gorgeous. I'm usually a stickler for history, but this show made me put down the textbook and revel in Jeremy Irons as a conniving sinner Pope.

Friday Night Lights
One of the all time great series ever on television reached its perfect conclusion this year. I have friends who still haven't watched the final episode. They keep it on their dvr like a hidden stash of gold, pretending the show isn't really over.  Only the best of the best could ever inspire devotion like that.

Parks and Recreation
This hilarious series also has one of the sweetest love stories on TV.

The show that made me keep my Showtime subscription, featuring amazing performances by Claire Danes and Damien Lewis in a twisty 'Manchurian Candidate" type plot that features real people instead of thriller stereotypes.

The Good Wife
Even with a few missteps this season (Eli Gold overdose, not nearly enough of Will and Alicia's trysts, annoying teen daughter Grace) The Good Wife has the most compelling ensemble of characters on network television. Kalinda Sharma alone could catapult this show into my top picks.

Hey look, teens who have sex, do drugs, make mistakes, and are hilarious. MTV makes the case for  its continued existence with this series.

Sure the storylines involve multiple worlds, but this show is really all about the relationships. Mix up mind boggling sci fi and thwarted true love and you'll get me every time.

The Vampire Diaries
Insane in the best possible way, the incredible pace of this show's relentless story plus its shamelessly hot batch of actors makes it the juiciest guilty pleasure out there. Doesn't hurt that Ian Somerhalder's the hottest vampire since Spike. Sorry, Sookie.

Coverage of The Breeder's Cup 2011
I was glued first to TVG, then to ESPN and ABC watching this series of races featuring the best horses in the world. Mighty European miler Goldikova made her last, valiant stand to no avail, and favorites Uncle Mo and Havre de Grace fell behind a last minute charge by Drosselmeyer, ridden by Mike Smith, who tried to make that same charge last year on (my favorite and one of the all-time greats) the amazing mare Zenyatta, and failed by a nose.

Also excellent: Doctor Who, Whitechapel, Boardwalk Empire (especially the last few eps of this season), Once Upon a Time, The Daily Show, Masterpiece Mystery.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Good Old Days

My Dad just sent me this awesome photo of himself (center, brown trunks) and our family friends Lee (left) and Joe (right) on Bellows Beach the summer I turned nine.

What a flood of memories this brings back.

I can feel the warm breeze coming off the water and hear the soothing crash of the waves. We had a flood of wonderful visitors that summer, and we spent nearly every weekend with them at Bellows. I'd race into the water (careful where the bottom dips down!) and dive under the oncoming waves, tasting salt, my long, frizzy hair turning into a smooth flow behind me.

I grew up swimming. At age three I was diving 15 feet down in our school pool to fetch rocks off the bottom. But Bellows was different. The waves were friendly, sure, but unpredictable. You had to stay on your toes, keep an eye on the horizon, and be careful after you caught a wave because another one might be looming right behind you.

Every wave was a possible adventure. I learned to assess the steepness of its face, its speed, its glossy texture. If it all looked good, I'd run/wade through the waist-high water, resisting the tug of the wave's tow, to what seemed the right place, turn around, push off, and one-two crawl strokes  - and you're off! If you've done it exactly right at the exact right time, the wave will pick you up like a swell of hot air picking up a balloon, and send you zooming toward the shore, water churning around your shoulders, body laid out like a surfboard.

My favorite sound in the world remains the hiss of the wave-foam buzzing around your ears at the end of a ride. My favorite place in the world remains Bellows Beach.

It was the summer this photo was taken that gave me all that. I look at my Dad in this photo and I weirdly see myself there. Sure, we've got the same nose, the same shoulders, but it's more than that. I don't think I took this photo, but I was in there somewhere. And I can still conjure the heavy heat of the sunshine and the powdery sand between my toes. I'm there now, and later too. And it's here with me.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Don't Buy Me These Things for Christmas...

...but I do love them.

Herewith a random list of things I've spotted during the holiday season that I might, in another life, want for myself. BUT DON'T BUY THEM FOR ME.  I mean it. Many of them are way too expensive. Others I just don't have room or time for.

But they are pretty cool....

For example. The only way you should ever have an animal head on your wall:

Savannah Story Bust from anthropologie. Also available in rhino, gazelle, giraffe, and elephant.

My cat doesn't particularly like to be up high. She's weird like that, but if she did, I'd get her:

The Cat Clouds Cat Shelf from

Not to mention the world's most attractive cat tree:

The Lotus Cat Tower. From the same store.

Again, I don't have room for this, but if I did I'd be sorely tempted. It's a gorgeous poster of a painting of one of the all time great race horses, whom you all probably know I've seen race in person:

Available in Zenyatta's own online shop.  Those Zenyatta Way Street Signs are also tempting. But I have enough Zenyatta stuff up already.

My next selection is so ridiculous that it's almost awesome. A slanket covered with... skulls!

It's a reversed blanket that will keep you cozy while you sit like a lump, but hey, it's got skulls on it, so it's BAD ASS, right? Wear this and you are one BAD ASS couch potato, bay-bee! Available at here.

I will never be able to justify buying this, given the expense. But oooh, yum:

 Laphroaig's 21-year-old single malt scotch.  Finally, a whisky old enough to drink.

You should never buy a pet as a surprise gift for anyone. And you should always adopt your pet from a shelter or rescue organization.  That said, since this is a fantasy post about gifts NOT to get me...

I ran into a gorgeous, sweetheart of a Newfoundland at the pet store the other day, and she won my heart. I've always loved bigger dogs, and this one was all huge webbed paws and "rub my belly please."  Newfies are smart, family friendly, and protective without being scary.  I'd never get a pet from a breeder since there are so many rescues out there.  But I do love me a big sweet dog.  German Shephards and other shephard breeds are also very high on my favorite list. But I haven't met a dog I didn't like.

Not sure how often I'd wear this, but it sure is lovely.

The Egyptian Lotus Necklace from the Met Museum Store. They have plenty of less expensive and still quite lovely things there, if you know someone who's a history/archaeology buff like me.

I'm not the type to ever own a bar or restaurant. But over the weekend I attended an event here:

The Wellsbourne on Pico in West Los Angeles. All old dark wood, shelves with books, shiny bar, and big comfy booths. I had a Pimm's Cup there (the cocktails are all old fashioned) which was delicious, and the tab came to me inside a hollowed out book. So if I ever were to own a bar, it'd be a place like this.