31 July 2005


So I'm up through page 11 on my screenplay, not where I wanted to be but I have 14 scenes written so am feeling pretty good. 14 scenes in 11 pages, I just hope my DP isn't going to kill me. Of course, I want hire my husband Carl, so I figure he'll give me a little leeway. It feels good to finally be writing this stuff down and frighteningly it's true what they say about characters starting to come to life. I mean, I actually feel them inside going "hey, you've left me in the middle of a moment here and I'm hanging out in the saloon nursing my beer, bitch". Man, who-da thunk it?

30 July 2005

I'm a Blogger, I'm a Writer, I'm a Blogger, I'm a Writer...

So today a friend emailed me a link to a New Yorker article. Thank you, Nicole, and it got me to thinking about the possiblities. It also got me to thinking about what the equivalent of this was back in the day. I mean back when folks didn't have computers so agents for publication had to go look for writers in the real world - the world outside. Back in the day, when writers hung out at cafes and bars and goaded each other with sharp comebacks and meaningful analysis of the world around them. In actual conversations no less. It made me sort of nostalgic for the days of face-to-face interaction. Not that I mind being able to plunk my butt down in front of my computer and check in on my new blogging friends. All of whom have wonderfully funny (Neil, I'm talking about you here) and/or deeply felt opinions about art and the world around them (Michael's blog). Or simply a fresh POV about life lived on a daily basis and the issues that confront us in our personal moments (that would be you Nicole). I like my new blogger community but sometimes I wish I could buy them a drink and toast their newly discovered luck in having found an agent that understands their talent and worth which brings them what I think we're all secretly hoping for - to be paid to do what we love the most.

27 July 2005

Stop the Madness - Email Urban Myths

So yesterday, I got an email from a friend that was a mass forwarded email about Neiman Marcus cookies. If you don't know the story or received the forwarded email, it goes something like this:

A little background: Neiman-Marcus, if you don't know already, is a very expensive store; i.e., they sell your typical $8.00 T-shirt for $50.00. Let's let them have it! THIS IS A TRUE STORY!
My daughter and I had just finished a salad at a Neiman-Marcus Cafe in Dallas, and we decided to have a small dessert. Because both of us are such cookie lovers, we decided to try the"Neiman-Marcus cookie." It was so excellent that I asked if they would give me the recipe, and the waitress said with a small frown, "I'm afraid not, but you can buy the recipe."

Well, I asked how much, and she responded, "Only two fifty-it's a great deal!" I agreed to that, and told her to just add it to my tab. Thirty days later, I received my VISA statement, and the
Neiman-Marcus charge was $285.00! I looked again, and I remembered I had only spent $9.95 for two salads and about $20.00 for a scarf. As I glanced at the bottom of the statement, it said, "Cookie Recipe-$250.00". That was outrageous!

I called Neiman's Accounting Department and told them the waitress said it was "two fifty", which clearly does not mean "two hundred and fifty dollars" by any reasonable interpretation of the phrase. Neiman-Marcus refused to budge. They would not refund my money because, according to them, "What the waitress told you is not our problem. You have already seen the recipe. We absolutely will not refund your money at this point." I explained to the Accounting Department lady the criminal statutes which govern fraud in the state of Texas. I threatened to report them to the Better Business Bureau and the Texas Attorney General's office for engaging in fraud. I was basically told, "Do what you want. Don't bother thinking of how you can get even, and don't bother trying to get any of your money back." I just said, Okay, you folks got my $250, and now I'm going to have $250 worth of fun." I told her that I was going to see to it
that every cookie lover in the United States with an e-mail account has a $250 cookie recipe from Neiman-Marcus...for free. She replied, "I wish you wouldn't do this." I said, "Well, perhaps you should have thought of that before you ripped me off!" and slammed down the phone. So here it is! Please, please, please pass it on to everyone you can possibly think of. I paid $250 for this, and I don't want Neiman-Marcus to EVER make another penny off of this recipe! NEIMAN-MARCUS COOKIES (Recipe may be halved)

I won't include the recipe - suffice it to say, I was reminded of the old urban myth about the hook arm that the lovers find on the car door after driving home from a remote make out site. Why the stalker chose to open the door with his hook is the Achilles heel in that particular story but it still makes good campfire fodder. This story had too many things wrong with it: (1) it got me to thinking about a woman who doesn't sign her credit card receipt from the waitress when she's sitting right there; (2) I also thought that if Neiman Marcus actually sold their recipe for $250, they'd probably have it in a nice little recipe box wrapped in a gold bow with the price tag on the bottom of it; and (3) anyone who complains about $8.00 t-shirts that cost $50 probably doesn't have a Neiman Marcus charge card.

So I did a little research, fairly simple actually. I went onto the Neiman Marcus website, put cookie recipe into the search engine and viola! Here's what came up.... http://www.neimanmarcus.com/store/service/nm_cookie_recipe.jhtml

People stop the madness. Pretend you're around a campfire listening to these stories ... when something sounds outrageous, question the source.

Slogging instead of Blogging

Yesterday, I finally sat down and outlined about half of the screenplay that has been buzzing around my head for the last year or so. This morning I typed the first 7 pages and am committed to getting three more done today so that I'm at 10. I'd like to think I could write 5 pages a day and so have given myself that goal for the next four weeks (which would give me a finished first draft before starting school again). Man, this summer is whizzing by .... remember when we were kids and three months off seemed like an eternity in May?

25 July 2005

25 July 2005 - Monday, Monday

Can't trust that day but you can count on it!

I recently joined Netflix.com and got my first movie on Saturday. I chose a light comedy on purpose. I wanted to ease into the experience of home viewing. I've been fairly remiss about going to movies or renting them for the last few years so I have several movies on my wish list. I chose Aquatic Life with Steve Zissou as my first venture and it was alot of fun. Of course, anything with Bill Murry, Owen Wilson and Willam Defoe as the lead characters is truly twisted. Willam must have had a blast with this film, playing an overly sentimental German boom man. I won't give a narrative of the film's plot, suffice it to say that I was actually surprised several times by the script, most notably toward the end. Also loved that one of Cate Blanchett's last names (since she's an English character, she of course has two of them) in the film is Winslet! Pretty funny.

Now, I just slip my movie back into it's prepaid-postmarked sleeve and send it off to MovieLand and they send me my next flick! I love that! I love that I will never again stand around in an aisle of a movie rental store saying "I don't know, what are you in the mood for?"

23 July 2005

23 July 2005 Patriot Act and Writers

So have been thinking alot about the fact that they're messing about with the Patriot Act in Washington and pretty soon the FBI can have a list of what you're checking out of the library. It seems to me that there was a nifty little socialist democratic party in the 30s that had a very similar agenda. When I was in Prague in June, one Saturday night about 7 of us grabbed a couple of sheets and a couple of bottles of wine and went out and sat on the lawn under a couple of trees. We played this game "Person most likely to...." then you'd fill in the blank and count to three and everyone would point at who they thought fit the category. The person with the most votes came up with the next blank filling category. It was a way to pass the time and get to know one another. One person said "Person most likely to get arrested under the Patriot Act." Every single writer pointed at me. (I pointed at the journalist beside me.) People, I said, I am a poet, why on earth am I going to be the first arrested and they shrugged and said "you're political". I'm not sure what that means actually but I do know that I don't agree with the Patriot Act, don't believe it's necessary for security and do believe that it's a serious infringment on individual rights. Come get me boys......

21 July 2005

21 July 2005 - Sitting in a Room of One's Own

So, speaking of Virgina Woolf and a "room of one's own"....I just got back from Prague (June 30) where I spent a month living the dream writer's life. I only had to write and listen to poetry lectures twice a week and workshop poetry. Technically, though I did not have a room of my own. I lived at a former communist dorm and it was pretty dismal - communal showers and the whole bit - and I'm talking communal, no nice stalls, no shower curtains, think junior high locker room without the niceties. I guess I shouldn't complain, I mean it was really nice to get up in the morning, walk to the Tram, which actually was *working* public transportation (remember I live in LA) that along with the bus and metro system could get you anywhere you wanted to go in the city. Generally I took the tram into Stare Mesto (old town) hop off and walk the several blocks off the beaten path to find a coffee shop or if it was later, pub for lunch and pull out my notebook and write. This was a daily routine and it was heaven. I figured when I got back to LA I would have established a routine and would be much more disciplined about getting up and carving out time to do some quality writing. Instead I started a blog. I guess I need to look at it as this now takes over the portion of time I devote to my journal and right after I sign off, it's back to the real work/pleasure of writing. But the thing is, I just know that I'll sign off and pick up my journal and write in it for a half hour before buckling down. Ah, whine, whine....what I really need is a job so my life is more structured and the time I have to concentrate on my own writing is limited and thus I'll be more focused. Recently my business partner, Nicole Criona, wrote an article on Ambition v. Dedication - you can read it by going to http://www.ezinearticles.com/?Ambition-versus-Decidation&id=51818 -

When I first got back from Prague, I was in the dedication category, today I'm feeling unambitious and undedicated. Is it the heat? Is it my lack of air conditioning? Or is it just one of those days that at some point all writers suffer through. The thing is, about 10 days after returning from Prague, I helped out a friend who was driving to Canada by driving to the halfway point of Boise Idaho with her and she and I stayed with my older sister for a night before she continued home. I then stayed on to visit with family for almost a week (3 brothers, 2 sisters). I flew back to LA on July 16 so I guess this is really my first routine week home so I'm finally noticing the heat, the nasty habits I had developed before leaving and the fact that no matter where you go, there you are. So here I am....sitting in a room of my own and whining for chrissake.....someone slap me upside the head!

20 July 2005

20 July 2005 - Influences

I thought I'd include a picture of one of my teachers from USC, Holly Prado (right) and my favorite poet (and wonderful writing friend), Diane Wakoski (left) and myself (center) taken after Diane's reading in Venice, California on May 21, 2005. Diane is a wonderful writer and you can link to her book by clicking on the link below www.lawritersgroup.com/SanoraBartelsArticle1.htm
I featured her in an article last January on the LAwritersgroup website.

I believe strongly in the value of a community of writers and think it's such a solitary process that we need the feedback and support of colleagues in order to not feel quite so alone....a room of one's own is great - a group of supportive friends and being a supportive friend is even more important. (Not to get all mushy on you, generally, I'm fairly cynical.)

20 July 2005 - Virginia Woolf meets the 21st Century

Yesterday, I started reading Virginia Woolf's "Moments of Being" edited by Jeanne Schulkind. The memoirs were first published in 1976 - some of these are first drafts and the editor had to make choices regarding the intention of the author. It reads pretty well and is, of course, rather intimidating (just because of the level of talent Woolf had). I think I'll be using her as an inspiration for one of the exercises that I need to post later today on the website - www.lawritersgroup.com for those of you new to my blog. Check it out!