Wishing you a happy All Hallows Eve in advance!

Okay, gang, just wanted to wish you all a very happy All Hallows Eve, wherever you live and however you celebrate!

I will most likely celebrate it the way I always do nowadays: A rustic wine (notice how big the jug is and how there appears to be only one autumnal wine glass! Hmmm); popcorn in my special scary-Halloween-movie popcorn bowl; and some sort of old, fun Halloween movie. (I include Edward Scissorhands in my Halloween movies, for some reason, even though it has that really sad Christmas-y snowy ending).

My own personal Halloween accoutrements!
My own personal Halloween accoutrements!

Actually, I will likely start my Halloween celebrations by watching the non-Halloween episode of Father Brown that I will be DVR-ing on PBS tonight. I love that show. My only complaint is that it is only an hour long so they have to cram way too much plot into the allotted time and then suddenly, boom, Father Brown in solving the murder. But I still love the show! I am totally into cozy mysteries.

Father Brown Mysteries BBC/PBS
Father Brown Mysteries BBC/PBS

If you are still super young and have never spent time watching the older vampire movies, you are missing some real treats.  Here is an assortment of truly cool movies that you can either find free on YouTube or hunt down before tomorrow night.

This is a nice & creepy compilation from Nosferatu, a great silent Dracula movie from Germany, 1922 (I know you can watch this entire film free on YouTube):

Here ‘s the trailer for a wonderful movie made in 2000 about a fictional account of making Nosferatu, Shadow of the Vampire:

This is a great version of the Dracula story that is full of soul brothers and is also kinda scary!! The infamous Blacula!

A great creepy later version of Dracula/Nosferatu starring the great and rather creepy German actor, Klaus Kinski, from 1979:

Here’s something that was not creepy at all, from 1966, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

There is of course the famous 1931 version of Dracula starring Bela Lugosi. If you have never seen this, well, frankly I find that hard to imagine! But the sets in this film are — if you’ll excuse the pun — to die for!!

Oh, and here’s another one of my favorite’s, from 1992, Bram Stoker’s Dracula!

And here is one of my all-time favorite Halloween movies ever, from 1994, Ed Wood:

Well, all righty! If you’re planning on staying in tomorrow night and have plenty to drink but nothing to watch, this list should give you a good start! In the meantime, have a terrific Thursday, wherever you are. And thanks for visiting, gang!! See ya!

Advertisements

What a welcome surprise!!

Yes, by that, I mean that I basically have the whole day off. I only have about 75 minutes’ worth of work to do (meaning work I do to get paid), and then the rest of the day is MINE!!

And best yet, I cleaned the whole house yesterday, did all the laundry on Saturday, and so I have no chores I need to do, either. Plus, I don’t have anymore homework due for school until Wednesday.

So. Methinks today will be all about doing my own writing, taking a walk (it’s a gorgeous day here again), playing with the cats, baking something autumnally aromatic; just stuff that I love doing.

Speaking quickly of cats… I have to report that those Brewer’s yeast tablets I began giving all of them earlier this summer have given them really gorgeous coats.  They shed less and their colors really pop. The tabbies’ coats look particularly  incredible — the black and tan are all marble-y and have such a bright sheen. And the ginger cats are super ginger-y.  When I took Bunny to the vet a couple weeks ago, the vet said, “She’s either really good at cleaning herself or you’re doing a great grooming job.” (I do try to comb her once a day, but I think it’s more those Brewer’s yeast tablets, to be honest. I didn’t say that to the vet, though. I let Bunny get all the credit.) Here’s a shot of Lucie, who is notoriously difficult to get a photo of — more proof that today is just an incredible day, gang!

Lucie in her shiny coat!
Lucie just moments ago,  in her shiny coat! Although it doesn’t look particularly shiny in this photo! I am just thrilled I got her on film, finally. She is super camera shy.

On the writing front: I am halfway done with a new outline for the TV pilot. I should complete it today. (The plot remains essentially the same, it’s just being told from a different character’s perspective and that shift of POV really made the story come alive emotionally.)

As far as baking goes: So far this fall, I’ve baked oatmeal raisin bars, two pumpkin pies, a squash cake with chocolate chips & pecans that was to die for!! (I baked an acorn squash and pureed it, seasoning it and using it like you would a pumpkin. ) If I bake something today, it might be cranberry-nut bread. Not sure yet, though.

Here I am, baking up a storm! I appear to be baking a cocoanut still in its shell. A delicacy the world over. Not sure who the little girl is -- she just wandered in.
Here I am, baking up a storm! I appear to be baking a coconut still in its shell. A delicacy the world over. Not sure who the little girl is — she just wandered in. But I let her stay because she clearly adored me. Plus, she washed the dishes.

All righty, gang! I gotta scoot and do that 75 minutes of work! Thanks for visiting! Oh — forgot to mention that I went to see St. Vincent over the weekend and really liked it a lot. Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, and Naomi Watts are all splendid, along with a great little newcomer, Jaeden Lieberher. Terrence Howard also has a nice role as the reluctant goon. The film was beautiful, funny, poignant, uplifting.  Here’s the trailer.

Okay! Have a great Monday, gang. See ya!

What’s wrong with this picture?

One of my friend’s signed up at oDesk and eLance recently because she needed to drum up more work. Now, I am the kind of writer who always needs to drum up more money; I never need to drum up more work!

But sometimes (okay — frequently) I forget this!

Yesterday, after I came home from a freelance editing job, and while I was organizing the homework assignments I had to write for this week, and after I had talked to the actress in NYC again about nailing down the flight I needed to take to get to NYC and begin working on the original off-Broadway musical, and while staring at the piles of notes I had for my screenplay re-writes with Kevin in Brooklyn, and from the producer in L.A. for the TV series we’re trying to develop, and while thinking about the new book I wanted to write (a fun murder mystery that I think will be a blast! I already have a producer interested in a holiday screen adaptation for women’s television), I thought to myself: You know, I ought to sign up at oDesk and eLance, too, and try to make some more money…

So sign up, I did!That’s right!

But then, as my head hit the pillow last night, I thought to myself: How bizarre! What the heck is the matter with you? When do you think you’re actually going to be able to do anyone else’s writing and still have time for your own???

So I un-signed up this morning.

Why is it that it is so hard for writers to consistently earn enough money to live on and still write creatively (as opposed to hired-and-sometimes-hack work that other people can’t or won’t do)? It has plagued me throughout my entire career, and I’ve been a professional writer now for 25 years. Sometimes the money is great. Sometimes it stays consistently good for a good chunk of time. Then it disappears entirely and you resort to prayer. Then, happily, it picks up again. Sometimes, it even snowballs into more money than you’ve ever seen, but I haven’t experienced that. Yet. (You’ll notice, though, that as a recently ordained minister, I have made resorting to prayer part of my full-time job! I am really, really good at resorting to prayer. However, that said, I have also gotten really good at standing back and letting prayers be answered, left, right, and center. It had a lot to do with this stuff –click link & scroll down– and it took years to master it. And some days, I don’t master it at all.)

I honestly think that you’ve got to be happy. It is imperative. Do only what makes you happy — and you might be surprised at what types of little jobs might make you happy. I know I’ve surprised myself over the years. (4 years ago, I said yes to a 2-hour cleaning job without knowing it meant I would be working for this company and that, as a writer, it would open all kinds of doors for me and turn my life around.) Make yourself happy and then the other stuff that comes to you makes you, surprisingly, even happier. But sometimes you have to really wait.  And that “waiting” part is when a whole lot of people just give up, turn around and go home. (i.e., “do stuff they hate.”)

I don’t think that writers are going to get paid what they’re worth in this lifetime. A small few will — but it’s fewer and fewer all the time. However, you can at least make enough to live a fulfilled and happy life.   And, really, I believe that’s what we’re here for. When we’re fulfilled and happy, we do astounding things that can’t help but have a beneficial trickle-down effect for everybody.

On that happy note, I gotta scoot!! Have a terrific Wednesday, wherever you are and whatever happy thing you’re doing!! Thanks for visiting, gang. See ya.

[One of my all-time favorite films. Who knew it would be part of my destiny, kind of??]

 

 

 

How about that weekend?

I don’t know about you guys, but I had the best weekend.  All my plans seemed to go awry at the last minute (i.e., I was supposed to see the opera the Marriage of Figaro, Skype with Kevin, go to church) and I wound up having the entire weekend to myself, with nowhere I needed to go, nothing pressing I needed to do. My homework was completed by mid-morning on Saturday. A local marathon kept me from going to church on Sunday. I wound up just taking a couple of really lovely walks; I baked a cake; I did laundry; I did yoga; and then spent most of the weekend watching old Harry Potter movies on TV!

I don’t know — what could be better? I so rarely have two days in a row where I don’t really have to do much of anything.  And the Harry Potter movies are such fun time-wasters.  I actually sat in my own living room, in my own easy chair, and I watched television for hours.  (There was a Harry Potter marathon on ABCFamily.) For some reason, I don’t spend much time hanging out in my own living room.  It has become a luxury. Something that symbolizes “free time.”

I had a great phone conference with one of the producers in L.A. yesterday. Last week, I actually let the other producer go.  (Or however you would say that  — it’s not like I fired him.) I came to the conclusion that even though he was a really nice guy and had great ideas, those ideas were taking my own idea in a really different direction that I couldn’t connect with — and because of that, the re-writing process had become tortuous for me.  As soon as he was out of the picture, a veritable flood of great ideas started pouring into my brain. Interesting how that works, isn’t it?

And nothing beats having enthusiasm for a project you’re writing, right? Enthusiasm is that fine line between heaven and hell.

The trip to New York City is getting closer. It’s supposed to happen in two weeks, they’re just trying to nail down the best airfare.  It is so hard for me to believe that my life is really this good. The money still needs to be a lot better, but I know it’s on its way.

Yesterday when I was taking my walk, I was getting so psyched about being able to go see Broadway shows again! I can’t remember the last time I got to see a Broadway show, but I think it was about twelve years ago.  You know, New York City has changed so much since the days when I first moved there. Back then, in the 80s, I lived with my first husband on the corner of W. 45th Street and 8th Avenue, in the Camelot Building, fittingly enough!

The Camelot Building, New York City
The Camelot Building, New York City

This was literally just a few steps from every theater on Broadway, and tickets back then cost $15, if you can believe that. I was in my early 20s and a waitress in those days, and I saw every show on Broadway.  Then, gradually, it just got more and more and more expensive.  It got to the point where I could only see one or two Broadway shows a year.

I read an article in the Hollywood Reporter over the weekend that said that 78% of the people who attend Broadway shows are white, and %68 of them are white women, with an average age of 44 1/2 years old, with an average income of $186,500 a year.

I don’t know. Those numbers just sort of made me feel weird. I read them over a number of times, trying to make sense out of what has happened to the world I used to know. Not that it matters. I’m just curious.

All right, well. I have to go work for a few hours, so I need to get crackin’ around here. I hope you have a great Monday, gang, wherever you are, and I hope it’s the start of a super-terrific week! Thanks for visiting. See ya.

[This was the first Broadway musical I saw that truly blew me away. And here I’d thought I was going to be bored…]

 

 

Yesterday was glorious!

Yesterday morning was one of those amazing October mornings, where it rained off and on and the sky was sort of brooding — the kind of weather that’s tailor-made for all those scary black & white movies Hollywood made in the 1930s — the ones about old haunted houses or abandoned castles, where a group of strangers suddenly becomes stranded from the rain and must spend the night there…  The kind of movies that were scary but fun! They didn’t make you feel like puking!

There was nothing scary about yesterday morning, though. It was just moody weather. I decided to take a walk because I had to run a quick errand across the street anyway, and the world just looked so autumnal. I brought some bread with me (and an umbrella!) because I wanted to feed the ducks down by the creek. On my way there, I had to stop in at City Hall and pay my gi-normous water bill.  I was so relieved that I was able to pay it before it was due because this town not only has gi-normous water bills, they tack on gi-normous late fees if you pay the bill even one day late… [Foreshadowing, folks!]

As I walked up the steps to City Hall, I looked down at my water bill and at the check I had made out to pay the water bill, and what to my wondering eyes should appear?? The bill had actually been due the day before. Honestly, I was flabbergasted. This means an additional $35 in late fees for basically no reason whatsoever. I could have easily paid the bill the day before, but I thought, what’s the rush? It’s not due until Friday… But au contraire. I really felt blindsided by that.

Then I proceeded into City Hall, which is a really small building by most City Hall standards, and for the first time in my 8 years of paying water bills in there, I noticed that they had a court room. I could see it plain as day through big glass doors. The judge was sitting up on the bench and a bunch of people were sitting there, waiting their turns to pay gi-normous fines, no doubt.

It was such a weird feeling. First, to be so wrong about the due date on the bill that had been sitting out on my desk for an entire month; then to discover this entire courthouse that I had never once seen before, even though it’s pretty much the main thing in the main hallway there when you walk in. I felt so weird. Is this what it’s like when you’re on the verge of dementia? I wondered. Hmmm.

But I decided to just let it go; for whatever reason, I walk around half-crazy all the time. I’ve been like that forever. Guess there’s no reason to stop now.

So I proceeded on my walk and it was a beautiful walk. There were all those wet, colorful fall leaves all over the pavement, and the dark sky was filled with foreboding but I didn’t care because I had my trusty umbrella with me.

The creek was crystal clear and rushing merrily along, and the ducks were very happy to have some bread so suddenly, early on a Thursday morning. (Bread is usually the weekend routine, when happy toddlers abound! But, luckily, I have sort of remained in a toddler frame of giddiness my whole life — oh, except when I am in the depths of misery and suicidal despair. However, I haven’t been in that frame of mind for a couple years now, so I believe that has passed for good. I guess we shall see as more time passes.)

Once the bread was gone, I decided to walk farther down the path, into the woods, to where there’s a wooden bridge that spans the creek.  And suddenly light rain drops began to fall. It was so beautiful because the rain drops sent flurries of fall leaves fluttering down from the towering trees all around me.  And once I reached the bridge, the raindrops were splashing down into the creek. It was just so peaceful. I was the only person there. Way off in the distance, I saw a family of white ducks on the bank; they were just waking up. Everything made me feel so blessed.

I turned around and headed for home, then. I wound up having just a really peaceful day.

Okay, on that note, I’m running late here today. I gotta scoot. Have a fantastic Friday, gang, wherever it finds you!! Thanks for visiting. See ya!

copyright Leonid Afrimov
copyright Leonid Afrimov

 

 

Autumn, right here!

I am, of course, still psyched about the upcoming trip to New York City, especially since I really love autumn in New York. However, it is quite autumnal right here. I took this photo of my backyard a few minutes ago:

 

My backyard
My backyard

Here is a shot from farther back, so you can see my 60-year-old maple tree that the developers will be cutting down (along with everything else you see in these photos!):

autumntreeThis has been a  pretty good day. I didn’t have to do a darn thing for anyone else today, so I cleaned house a little, did laundry, took a walk. Last night, I completed my Pastoral Care/Hospital Visitation Training. Next, I will be volunteering with Chaplains either in hospitals or hospices, until I get enough experience and can work on my own as a minister in nursing homes.  (I can’t be a Chaplain myself until I’ve had 17 trillion tons of schooling, including Graduate school, and then a bunch more credit hours in visitation training, of which I’ve just accumulated 16. It will be indescribably hard to accumulate those additional hours and get all that higher & expensive education while writing a TV series and musicals for Off-Broadway theaters in Manhattan, so we shall probably not be attaining that label of Chaplain anytime soon…) But it felt good to be finished with the course and to get yet another certificate, suitable for framing!

On a more somber note, the first death row prisoner that I had been able to give pastoral encouragement to, was executed a few weeks ago, in Texas. Giving any type of pastoral care to death row prisoners is very difficult. I am against the death penalty and always have been. For much of my life as an American, the death penalty was not legal. But now, it is completely different in this country. Executions here are now a fact of “life”. Oddly, I can deal with that. What’s been hardest, is knowing that as a minister, as a representative of Christ on Earth, forgiveness is mandated for everyone. It’s my actual job to assure people that they are forgiven –no matter what, even if they don’t accept Christ, or believe in him (although a whole lot of death row inmates do.) I won’t go into a whole lot of detail with this topic, but I’m guessing you’re well aware of some of the atrocities people commit to get themselves a cell on Death Row. All of that stuff has to be forgiven. It’s one thing to know it intellectually. It is another thing to speak with men who have murdered women, men, defenseless babies, etc., etc., and assure each of them that he is forgiven — and not just be mouthing the words, either.  (But that’s what prayer is for — guidance through that mire between forgiving and condoning. I pray an awful lot.) This is a photo of Willie Trottie. He wrote a letter and filled out a questionnaire for the Gawker website this past spring. He was executed a few weeks ago.

Willie Trottie, executed in Texas, September 2014
Willie Trottie, executed in Texas, September 2014

There is another inmate on Death Row in Texas that I speak with in my capacity as a minister. This past summer, I was looking up information about him online, for some reason that I no longer recall, and I discovered that a woman in Amsterdam is auctioning off some of his personal letters on a web site devoted to auctioning the personal effects of murderers on Death Row.  She’s doing it to make money off people who like to collect that stuff — I guess because something in their souls is turning to garbage.   (You know, buying & selling the personal effects of murderers doesn’t just trivialize the murderer, but also the people they killed. But guess what? We gotta forgive them to! All the wackies on the Internet, gang — forgiven!!)

Okay, on that delightful note, I think I’m going to make some popcorn, kick back and watch a movie. Maybe an old-fashioned Halloween movie, the kind that were creepy but not necessarily scary! At all. I just want to have a little fun before this glorious Tuesday is over.

Thanks for visiting, gang. I hope you’re having a great day, wherever you are!

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me….Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.   (Matthew 25:35-40)

christpantocratorsm
Christ Pantocrator, 4th Century

Don’t you just love girls??!!

I do! I think little girls are amazing. They are lethal, they are dangerous, they are awesome, and they are usually way too trusting — which is why it all starts to come crashing down for most little girls by age 11, when everyone starts telling them to be something they’re not, and, being so trusting, little girls try to start following the most bizarre cultural rules imaginable. Hence, so many girls who are out of their freakin’ minds… Including moi.

That said, though. I was researching some stuff about Brownies & Girl Scouts from the 1960s, which was when I was a Brownie, and I found this. I thought it was hysterical, so I share it with you:

girlscout_motivation

Being born in 1960, I think I came from the first generation of American girls who were told they could do or become anything they wanted to do or be, and at the very same time were told by everybody that whatever it was they were trying to do or be simply wasn’t done by “nice girls” so, if you did or became what you wanted, watch out, because no guy was going to want to marry you.

I am so serious.

Luckily, I was also one of those girls who marveled at the stupidity of a remark like that, and also was not a huge fan of getting married anyway, but the constant oppression of the minds of girls still wound up making me completely bonkers. Certifiable. I mean it.

However, as the indisputably awesome S.E. Hinton (who perhaps used initials in her pen name back then to hide the fact that she was a girl) so aptly put it in 1971: That was then, this is now. I am well into my 54th year, turning down marriage proposals right & left, and still doing whatever the heck I want.

Which reminds me — FANTASTIC breakthroughs have finally come on the re-writes of the TV pilot and on the screenplay I’m writing with Kevin. I will talk more about that some other time because I have one last paper to write for school this afternoon before I can kick back and relax. (And I seriously want to kick back and relax, gang.)

Okay! Hope your Sunday has been sensational, wherever you are! Thanks for visiting, folks. I leave you with this tribute — and I leave it to you to decide if it is delightful or down right delusional. All right!