Tuesday, December 29, 2009

After watching "Invictus," I got all teary and not because of the movie (though I did cry during "Princess and the Frog," but that's another story altogether).

It just so happens that the poem which inspired the title (and Mandela, apparently) was my mother's favorite poem. She told me when she was in high school, the teacher's made her memorize a poem, and she had picked "Invictus," though she said it held no particular emotional sway with her at the time. Perhaps she just thought it sounded cool. In any case, she memorized it and then late, when life indeed gave her more challenges than most... challenges of health problems that plagued her most of her adult life and which nearly killed her several times over, be it by stroke, heart attack and coma... which robbed her of her ability to walk without pain... .she said she was glad that she had memorized the thing way back when and that it did indeed come in handy.

At that time, I was about 14 or so, I was on a poetry kick and decided to memorize it too... and when in my life I'd come across serious adversity, maybe not as serious as the kind my mother had endured -- until dealing with her death a year and a half ago, that is -- I'd always thought it was a most remarkable string of words. Inspirational, strong, determined and steadfast.

"Invictus" was written by William Ernst Henley, a victim of tuberculosis of the bone. A few years later, while a teenager, the disease progressed in his foot and he had to have his foot amputated directly below the knee. In spite of this, in 1867 he successfully passed the Oxford local examination as a senior student. He wrote "Invictus" from a hospital bed in 1875. Despite his disability, he persevered with one foot intact, leading an active life, and died at the age of 53.

No poem could be more appropriate for my mother, who could barely walk, when she went back to school to get her Bachelor's of Science in her early 40's. She continued and got her Master's of Science in clinical psychology from Cal State University Northridge and went on to intern at Camarillo hospital, helping disturbed teens and then opened up a practice in Westport, CT where she also had her own talk psychology radio show. She specialized in women empowering themselves and gave assertiveness training sessions. She died not that much older than William Ernst Henley, finally succumbing to the diseases that tried to overcome her most of her life.

I wonder if she thought of "Invictus" when she lay in her hospital bed, at the moment she knew she would die.

After she passed, it was the first thing that came into my head.

Any movie called "Invictus," based on that particular poem -- is a winner to me.

By the way, here's the poem:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Friday, December 25, 2009

christmastime for the jews

Oy, I can't believe I haven't blogged since the summer. I have to be the worst blogger, I know. But on the upside, I HAVE been writing actual projects. Hard at work on my supernatural sci fi novel, the graphic novel of Evermore, which is almost finished, another couple of outlines for new screenplays and a comic strip for my UC Berkeley alumni entertainment industry publication coming out soon.

I hope everyone's had a productive year and that next year, it's even more so for all of us... and I hope our nation's economy kicks out of the toilet already, and that we all get good healthcare... oh yeah, and we need world peace already... seriously!!!

And for my favorite holiday treat... here's a link I know I used last year, it's an oldie but a goodie, and if they can show A Christmas Story 24 hours a day today every year, then I can Post Christmastime For the Jews for y'all once more (and by the way, be careful out there, don't shoot yer eye out).

Anyway, I'm off to watch Avatar in Imax 3D, in the meantime... enjoy!

(PS.. update... Avatar in Imax 3D was awesome! What a great way to celebrate anything.)

Christmastime for the Jews

Friday, August 21, 2009

What I'm working on

I haven't updated this blog in ages. I know, I feel terrible guilt. Shame. The horror!

But I Do wonder, between posting on Twitter and Facebook (and reading all those twitter and facebook posts), reading several books at the same time... when does anyone find time to write?

Hence, something's got to go (like the house cleaning... laundry... dishes... etc.)... and this blog. Well, not go, just wait and wait and wait until I finally feel so guilty I post something.

Like now.

SO... I have been working on a supernatural YA book, for now it's called "Veronica Brown, The Second Coming." It's a working title, which means I'll probably change it... but you loyal bored blog reader, you'll be one of the few who can say "I read her blog way back when she was just writing that famous tomb of hers, so far back it was called "Veronica Brown, The Second Coming."

Don't you feel special now?

It's coming along fabulously, by the way. You needn't worry or fret. My goal is to have a draft finished by the end of the year. The kids go back to school next week and the dog we recently rescued, who was supposed to be "A cockapoo" but turned out more to be Heinz 57 and in heat when we got her, enough to make "Mr. Cuddles" nearly lose his mind with trying to have his way with her (luckily, our Miss Frosty is an ice queen and she keeps that gate tightly guarded under lock, key and serious snarl)... and heat lasts 27 days, so we're bound to have a calm two dog household any minute now -- so I see no reason not to succeed.

After going to the SCBWI conference this past month, meeting lots of agents, managers, editors, authors... and watching Jay Ascher dance at the Blue Moon Ball in a form fitting, crushed blue velvet suit and 6 inch platform heels dressed as Austin Powers, international man of mystery... I feel sufficiently inspired.

I also need to work on the graphic novel version of "Evermore"... in my free time (maybe like between 2 and 3am? Who needs to sleep).

You can find out what I'm doing more reliably on twitter www.twitter.com/zbluesy
and if you know me and really want the personal details of my life complete with color photo spreads, random video tidbits and want to follow my procrastinations in Technicolor, drop me a ping or a zing -- whatever you call it on www.facebook.com/zbluesy

And now, I'm going back into the cone of silence. Because I really, really, really want to finish this book. As I get closer to the finish line, I'll post more about it (like maybe telling you all what it's about)... but until now, just know, I intend on it being awesome, as in a great read, or really good and, of course, the old standby -- mighty fine!



Thursday, March 05, 2009

Life In a Blender

I came across the Chicken Dance off of "Life in a Blender's website:

Ahhhh, memories.

Where have all the Echoids gone? You know who you are.

Echoids: A group of savvy/smart/somewhat snobbish/cool techno geeks who would get together at haunts like CBGB's, or bars in Brooklyn, Soho and greenwich village, listening to music, going to art openings, theatre, installations -- lots of cool venues. If you were an Echoid, you had to be good.

Mark was our resident working dad and music guy in a band...a very good, smart, snarky, witty band called "Life in a Blender" (Mark is STILL in Life in a Blender, he was also really good with the parenting advice as I recall. I read his parenting posts even before I had any kids, they were so interesting)...we all loved the group... well, at least I loved the group. Let me tell you, you just haven't lived until you've seen the chicken dance live.

I also loved our Echoid softball games in Central Park. We, the ragtag film, music and computer geeks of the world hunkered down every Saturday morning and played assorted teams of lawyers, doctors, film studio studs, (the CPAs were the worst, they played for blood!). I was catcher, that is until I took my position a little too seriously and dislocated my thumb by getting run over by a 300 lb CPA, who did not care that I was a girl -- and a wimpy, unathletic girl determined to stand my ground for my team no matter what at that!

My thumb still aches when it's going to rain. But I did get the guy out.

Personally, I think they should rename the field for me, but-- was not meant to be.

It was also thanks to the Echoids that I got my very own movie magazine "MOVIEWEEK" off the ground (our slogan was that we were a "movie magazine for movie makers"). We were a very well respected online movie magazine at that, one of the first of the kind, WAY before "Ain't it Cool News" or anything else like that came along. Too bad we had no way to actually make any money, and there's just so much writing I could squeeze out of the most loyal Echoid gratis, after all. But oh, what a year it was! 3 films to review a day in plush, cushy screening rooms, with programs, incentives, free tickets to the NY Film Festival -- where I got to interview Catherine Deneuve and Mike Leigh, amongst other luminaries.

I got to review films with my partner Ian (we were the he said/she said of Movie reviewers), and I got to conduct interviews with the creme de la creme of the hot NY indie film scene who loved us... I was in heaven, I tell you... heaven!). We were an all Echoid staff, some double up on jobs under different names because we didn't want the studios who were inviting us to all these screenings to know that we were a bunch of kids working out of my studio apartment on 57th street (Ian got to be "James" head of our publicity department and had to stick up for his annoying, hard headed "boss" -- Iam aka himself... boy was that a kick to watch).

The best part of Echo wasn't just the haughty and helpful conversation on topics on everything from culture, art, movies, music to parenting, cooking, gardening and auto repair (yes, there was an expert on you name it)... the best part was that we took it Offline... we all supported each other's ventures, plays, shows, etc... parents met at playgrounds and playgroups, we met in restaurants in the Village, at the Mermaid parade in Coney Island..or at Joe's...

Where have all the echoids gone?? They're probably all still there... except for me, of course. I lost touch with all of them many years ago, moving around to 7 or 8 different states and back across the country since.

Some have had their books published (like Brett Leveredge, a swell guy, who I had a memorable evening watching "Welcome to the Dollhouse" with. Poor Brett, I remember getting all cathartic, self indulgent and weepy about my perception of my woefully pathetic, unpopular early childhood... despite the fact that I bailed on all that at age 11 when I moved to Los Angeles -- but that didn't stop my tales of woe, all those black eyes and hats tossed in the mailbox to endure. Poor Brett. I'm just thankful that I didn't become the subject of one of his books or commentaries on NPR.)

It warms my heart to see that others, like Mark are still recording cds and performing gigs.

I'm certain that there's an art installation going on in the snow by an Echoid right now, even as I write this from my comfortable West Coast digs. Remember that scene in "Sex and the City" the tv series, when Barishnokov and Carrie went back to see that woman who was "living art" at 2am to see if she went to sleep or ate -- I'm sure that woman was an Echoid. I'd bet on it.

Just for curiousity sake, I took a peek at the Echo URL -- yes, they have a URL now. Back then, you just dialed in via your telnet program (ECHO is still, as it was, a purist of the we'll talk to who we want to talk to, community model).

They are there at http://www.echonyc.com I see Echo's founder, author, spokesperson, extremely organized person, and one of the smartest ladies I've ever met, Stacy Horn, is still there hosting the ball. A shout out to you, Stacy. I think you're terrific.

I was pleased and somewhat relieved to see that in today's in your face social online world, with our blogs (ahem, yes like this one), and facebooks and twitters to folks, many of whom you will never get to know in real life or see often, if at all --Echo is an online offline social hybrid. A telnet community. You have to be a member, join, pay your dues and telnet in (yes, people apparently still telnet... and why not, if it ain't broke, why fix it?) The fact that everyone knows everyone on Echo makes it feel warm, friendly and a safe haven for New Yorkers who want to "be a part of it."

I tried to stay in touch when I moved out of the city, off to other states, places, a family, a new life. I telnetted in for a while, but without the actual facetime it just wasn't the same. Not being able to see the gang, schmooze, booze and mingle with 'em. It was the end of an era for me, certainly -- a warm, fuzzy, and gosh, you'd better be on your toes and not say something stupid or you'll never live it down era. But a genuinely caring and supportive community as well.

Echoids, I salute you! Better yet, in your honor, I shall do... the chicken dance... offline.