Friday, July 29, 2005

Reality Check

NBC's The Law Firm

As Michael Corleone once said, "Just when I thought I was out -- they pull me right back in." And yes, I feel I deserve full and due credit for not allowing myself to get hooked on several reality TV shows that have come down the pike since the season finale of this year's American Idol competition (you completely and totally rock, Bo Bice!). But now it seems a new reality series called, The Law Firm has lured me into its seductive clutches with its real lawyers, real judges, real case files...well, I'm sure you get the picture.

And as such, last night's episode was a real winner for me, which no doubt has me looking forward to see which one of these young legal eagles will be racking up enough case points (I'm really leaning toward Olivier to go all the way here, his apparent arrogance and all) to win the grand $250, 000 pay day. By the way, for such a big ticket reality production such as this, is it just me, or does this amount seem a bit low as a grand prize giveaway -- for a lawyer? In any event, The Law Firm is on Thursdays (check local listings) on NBC.

And certainly after a steam pit of a week such as what we had here in the Apple, this weekend will find me mostly indoors, getting lots of the usual writing necessities done in a nice, air-conditioned setting. Nothing but BTUs blowing all over the place, a cool drink or two, and maybe a nice Caesar or Waldorf salad with whatever gets thrown on the grill. Ah, summer!

Enjoy it now, because before you know it, you'll be back in your thick-soled Timberland boots and Christmas shopping again. Trust me, like death or a bad's coming. Have a great weekend, everybody. Peace.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Getting The Facts Straight Beforehand

Just wanted to make it known through Satin Black today that whoever is the culprit impersonating Ms. Deidre Knight of the The Knight Literary Agency needed only to do a bit of research before embarking upon such a senselessly stupid course of action as sending out spam emails offering her agency's services. Ms. Knight is a well-respected literary agent, who has been around for several years now and has managed to bring the works of MANY authors to publication via traditional advance-paying publishing houses. Her reputation throughout the publishing industry clearly speaks for itself. Therefore, the very last thing Ms. Knight needs to do -- is solicit her potential clients via email. No doubt, like so many other legitimate and hard-working literary agents in the industry, Ms. Knight only needs to open her *daily mail* to a host of potentially good writing projects worthy of representation. That's generally the way it works. Debut novelists seeking publication are the ones who solicit the services of literary agents through "query letters" and not the other way around.

On a happier, more productive note, I'd like to congratulate a good friend, talented writer, and terrific editor, Ms. Jackie Kessler, who has now undertaken the position of associate science fiction and fantasy editor for one of my favorite online literary journals, Wild Child Publishing. A talented fantasy writer in her own right, as well as holding senior editorial positions with other journals for many years, I'm sure she'll be a wonderful addition to this venue, as she certainly joins an already top-notch editorial team. I've worked with these folks regarding a past short story contribution of my own -- and I know from what I speak. So much success in your new gig, Jax! By the way, Jackie is also a funny lady with a great sense of humor, and you can visit her blog here

Hava a good Tuesday, all. Peace.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Martha O'Connor On Air

My good friend and author of this year's phenomenal breakout women's fiction debut titled, The Bitch Posse, will be interviewed today on cable TV's Connie Martinson Talks Books. These are the times and stations I know for sure:

Channel 26 -- San Francisco, CA, 9am PST
LA -- Cityview channel 35, 3pm PST and 11:30pm PST
NY -- WNYE cable channel 25, 7:30pm EST

There are more details at Connie Martinson's website and I believe the broadcast is also available via Streaming Audio as well.

By the way, according to Martha, you can't miss her -- she'll be the one in the flowing white peasant blouse. So tune in today if you can, and watch her glow.

Make it a good Monday, all. Peace.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Week That Was

Chef Bobby Flay

After a virtual "string" of one hopelessly depressing news story after another in the past five days, this weekend will find me putting it all out of focus and catching a) special lady Suzanne Somers on stage in Blonde In The Thunderbird, and b) following that up with what I already know will be a fantatstic meal at master chef Bobby Flay's new restaurant, Bar American at 52nd St. and Seventh Ave. here in NYC. The latter, of course, being my golden opportunity to order the "shrimp and tomatillo sauce" (nothing to do with tomatoes here -- the tomatillo is said to be of the gooseberry family), after constantly watching Chef Flay work his magic with this ingredient on the Food Network's Iron Chef America and other cooking showcases as well.

Needless to say, I'm looking forward to this temporary respite, even in the midst of the recently heightened security alerts, etc., that are now in place here in the Apple. And no doubt, with the latter being the inevitable price we gladly pay for living in a society of freedoms.

Have a great weekend, all. Be safe, be well, and most important of all, try to make it fun. Peace.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Unplanned Is Sometimes... The Most Telling

Kabul, Afghanistan

Once again, this is one of those news items where I let you be the judge by reading it for yourself here

However, I do hope simply the title of this article alone -- will carry a strong enough message so that at least some of the latest suicide-terrorism fad of strapping one's self with explosives will be put to a much more in-depth "thought process" before it's actually carried out within close proximity of the innocent.

At times, when we set out to hurt (or, in these absolute extremes -- maim or kill) others, we do indeed wind up only hurting ourselves in the long run. And without a doubt, I truly think this case is clearly one for the coveted "Not Such A Great Idea" file. In fact, I think it probably ranks way up there around No. 1 for such a file, well across the boards.

Most certainly, at this rate, the injured party could have just as easily pointed a half-stick of dynamite toward his own rather confused posterior -- and been done with it even quicker.

Oh, the sheer irony of it all.

Let's make it a good Wednesday. Peace.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

When Harry Toppled Charlie

The sales of the new Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince not only went completely through the roof according to the latest reports --but it also managed to outsell the box office figures for Charlie And The Chocolate Factory which opened in movie theaters here in the US this past Saturday as well. Bearing in mind that the latter was also once an illustrated children's book written by famed British children's author, Roald Dahl, I think it's absolutely fantastic that we've lived to see the day when a book -- can outsell a motion picture.

Well done, Ms. J.K. Rowling. Very well done!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Bracing Myself

My mom actually had a nice little chuckle for herself when I phoned her Saturday morning after my dental appointment. Basically, it was a simple case of: "here we go again" many (many) years later, and yours truly has now found herself yet another costly venture to embark upon. According to good, old Dr. Pain (that's not his real name -- just what I choose to call him in pricey situations such as this), I need "braces." There are now several spaces between my teeth that were never there before, but due to a natural shift in my mouth, he feels that braces will bring everything back into alignment. He's also recommending the Invisalign clear dental trays, which are expensive as all get-out, yet a welcomed alternative to the metal ones that I wore at the age of ten (the ones my mom remembers -- which were at her expense)that looked like a steel suspension bridge construction. Anyway, it must be done, and so it will be. Jeez, talk about going into a "second" childhood, eh? Needless to say, this was not the news I was expecting during my routine checkup on Saturday.

Overall, however(and I digress), it was a rather productive weekend, with a bit of down-time left to spare last night. This of course, afforded me some extra time to finally catch last week's episode of Six Feet Under, which is another HBO series that was duly recognized by the Emmys this year, with Frances Conroy being nominated for best actress in a series. In any event, last night I had a really nice laugh at the character Claire, played by Lauren Ambrose, who is now working in a corporate setting of Austin Power wannabes who walk around all day responding to each other's questions with, "Yeah, baby." Even when off-camera, hearing these responses from these workers while talking to each other in the background is quite a hoot. Nice work indeed by the very talented writers of this hit series.

Well, it's off now to continue "licking my dental bill wounds" as I see what the rest of this new week holds in store. And, after Saturday's revelation...who knows? In any case, let's try to make it a good Monday, all. Peace.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Lackawanna Is In

From the opening scene until the credits rolled, somehow I knew that Ruben Santiago-Hudson's poignant autobiographical movie, Lackawanna Blues, an adaptation of his one-man stage play of the same name, would win the Emmy nominations it did as of yesterday's announcement. So huge congrats to the entire cast of this fantastic movie that I'm so glad HBO had the good foresight to feature. And of course, even huger congrats go out to Ms. S. Epatha-Merkerson, who also won a nomination yesterday as best actress in a feature film. Clearly, and far differently from the role she plays as Lt. Anita Van Buren on NBC's Law And Order, Merkerson plays the role of Santiago-Hudson's foster mother, Nanny, with a conviction that reminded so many people (including myself) of all the strong neighborhood women of long ago, who fed and looked out for all the neighborhood children and some adults -- whether biologically connected to them or not. The tiny town of Lackawanna, New York in the late 1950s comes fully alive in this wonderful film, and needless to say, I'm more than happy to see it get the recognition from the Emmys that it truly deserves.

And of course, I'd certainly be remiss if I didn't mention another known favorite of mine, Mr. Ian McShane, who was also nominated yesterday for his *outstanding* role as Al Swearengen on the HBO series, Deadwood. So with that, there's really nothing much left to say, except: Good luck to all of you on September 18th when those elusive gold Emmy babies are finally handed out.

On the home front, it'll no doubt be another weekend of butt-to-the-chair determination to finish up several writing-related projects that need the actual doing more than talking about them, so I'll just leave it at that. Hope your weekend is a productive one as well, while remembering as always -- to make it a good one. Have a great Friday, all. Peace.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Somers On Broadway

I met this awesome lady (who is SO much more than the Krissy Snow character she once played!) at a book signing years ago for her inspiring autobiography titled, Keeping Secrets. And now, she's finally made it to Broadway in a limited engagement at the Brooks Atkinson Theater. Her one-woman show called Blonde In The Thunderbird is in previews now and will open officially this Sunday, July 17th. Of course, I'll definitely be catching her performance the following week, as this too, is an autobiographical slice of Suzanne Somers' major triumphs over the many adversities she's faced throughout her life. And thankfully, she's now happy, healthy, and looking as gorgeous as ever -- as those who see her show will no doubt attest. For more info on dates and ticket prices go here

Way to go, Suzanne! See you soon. Peace.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Food Show At Javits

I've been invited to stop in at the International Fancy Food and Confection Trade Show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center here in New York today, and if it's anything like what was described to me by one of yesterday's attendees it should be quite an experience.

For the more daring food lovers along the lines of "extreme cuisine" (a la one of chef Anthony Bourdain's travels to remote parts of the world seeking the ultimate in tasty morsels) I'm told a trade stall offering everything from "Elk Jerky" to Chinese shark fin soup (that one's not really so extreme -- I've actually tried it before) was a favorite among many of the international foods being offered. But of course, hub has already instructed me to check out the "Dial Up Hot Sauce" that has an actual dialing guage on the bottle where you can set it to the exact heat degree of the burn. And while I'm in that section, I'll also be checking out a brand of the hot stuff called "Scorned Woman Tabasco Sauce" among the many other sauces and condiments being showcased during this 2-day food fair.
More information here

Good Tuesday, all! Peace.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Amazon Reviews Unmasked

It appears that nowadays Amazon is holding more of its individual book reviewers accountable by posting more identities -- and far less reviews from: A Reader In (fill in the blank city name here). And I'll agree wholeheartedly, that with some of the reviews as scathing, or, as glowing as they can sometimes be, it's only fitting for some sort of personage to be offered to support them. (You the spirit of "fair play" and all?)

I recall an article at Poynter Online last year by my two beloved "Book Babes," freelance journalist, Ellen E. Heltzel and regular contributor, Margo Hammond. In it, Margo notes:

My objection to anonymity on the Internet, by the way, does not mean that I oppose letting anyone have their say about a book. In fact, I like the democratization of Internet reviewing, which often challenges the so-called "professional" critics to hone their acts. I just want to know who it is serving up the criticism or praise and from where that opinion is coming. Then I can decide for myself if the point of view is useful to me or not...
*Read the entire article here

No doubt, from authors giving themselves praise (undercover), to that reader in St. Louis or Baltimore who plunked down $15 at Barnes and Noble thinking the book jacket synopsis would indeed live up to his or her expectations (only to be gravely disappointed), to readers who read a book and truly loved what they read --standing behind what you say always adds that much more of a dimension of validity to what you happen to be saying. This being especially the case in those less-than-favorable reviews, that rag on and on for several paragraphs…only to be signed in the end by A Reader In...

So kudos to Amazon for the apparent change in this policy, and I do hope it continues.

And speaking of some good summer reading picks:

1. Eleven On Top
Janet Evanovich (St. Martin's)

2. The Historian
Elizabeth Ksotova (Little, Brown)

3. The Mermaid Chair
Sue Monk Kidd (Viking)

4. A Long Way Down
Nick Hornby (Riverhead)

5. True Believer
Nicholas Sparks (Warner)

6. 4th Of July
James Petterson and Maxine Paetro (Little, Brown)

7. Cross Bones
Kathy Reichs (Scribner)

8. Miracle
Danielle Steel (Delacorte)

9. The Traveler
John Twelve Hawks (Doubleday)

10. Cover The Butter
Carrie Kabak (Dutton)

A hot one is on tap for NYC today ( Temps averaging 92 degrees F -- Oh, joy!…not) Keep cool wherever you might be, and make it a good Monday. Peace.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Thinking Very Retro

Is there any wonder that with the world in the state that it's in, as of this moment I'd be reminiscing about the 1980s...when things were at least a wee bit saner? Sure, and please don't get me wrong, between the Iran-Contra hearings, double-digit inflation, those God-awful Miami Vice pastel colors and rolled-up jacket sleeves we were all wearing back then, etc., the 80s were certainly not without its weaker moments either. But one thing has been stuck in my mind since yesterday's unspeakable carnage in London, and again today with a killer hurricane that's said to be headed toward the US having already killed 5 people on the island of Haiti. It's those funky, old "Choose Life" T-shirts that were worn by George Michael of the duo, Wham (at the time), and also by so many of us (myself included)in those days. Jeez, we saw them practically everywhere we went, didn't we? And those large block letters on a solid white background somehow seemed to resound the message -- the more we saw them.

And the correlation here, you ask? Well, I think it's very simple. This weekend, in the wake of all the precious lives that were senselessly lost, life for the living is clearly the only thing that matters.

Which of course, brings me to my weekend plans, which are simply this: To tell each of my love ones, once again, how much I truly do love them. And yes, as the old saying goes...while I'm still here on earth to tell them. Because hey, when you get right down to it -- tomorrow is certainly never promised.

Have a great weekend, all. Peace.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Hell Revisited

No doubt, as a New Yorker and a person who was no more than minutes away from the mind-boggling chaos and devastation of lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001 when the World Trade Center was viciously attacked and destroyed, my thoughts are certainly with the people of London today. In the wake of the early morning Underground blast from which the death and casualty numbers among rush hour commuters on their way to work are said to still be rising, I can only imagine the sheer agony the victims of this horrific incident and their families must be going through right now.

On the heels of this city's Olympic celebration yesterday, this is a truly sad and awful state of affairs, all the way across the board. Read more here

The world has changed, folks. So much to the point, that sometimes I think we tend to lose sight of just how much, until something of this most unfortunate magnitude happens to innocent people -- whose only crime was getting up that morning and heading off to work.

And speaking of which, I'm off now to a morning break that I've chosen to use as a means of finishing up a recent food-related article that will hopefully meet with the approval of an editor at a magazine that shall remain nameless here -- until such time as the article's acceptance. Here's hoping.

In the meantime, good Thursday, all. Peace.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

And The Winner Is...

As of about 7 o'clock EST this morning it was official, and congratulations to London, England as the host city of the 2012 Olympic Games.

The bidding as reported was fiercely competitive, with New York making an excellent presentation of their bid to the IOC. Needless to say, and discounting all the recent flap over a controversial new West Side Stadium here to house the games, including the more recent proposals of an Olympic Village to be built at the Brooklyn Waterfront (from which the view would have been spectacular), it would have certainly been an undeniable boost for the economy on several levels to have the games here in the Apple. But in the outcome, they'll be held in London in 2012 -- and New York will no doubt still be: "New York...The World's Capital."

I really don't think anything will ever change that.

So congratulations once again to London, the host city of The 2012 Olympic Games.

Let's make it a great Wednesday, all. Peace.

Monday, July 04, 2005

He Wrote The Songs...Too

It's definitely a part of what the true art of "writing" is all about. And during this ultra-sad period of mourning one of the most gifted songwriters of our time, I'd just like to let it be known that I join all the millions of people "worldwide" who will sorely miss the legendary, Mr. Luther Vandross.

His velvety-smooth R & B voice was clearly *not* his only talent, and thankfully, he leaves us with a host of memorable songs written from the heart, that will live on forever.

Luther, thank you so very much for your very last gift of wonderful songs in your 2003 Grammy Award-winning CD titled, Dance With My Father.

Rest in peace, dear friend.
Luther Vandross, A Legend

Friday, July 01, 2005

Odds + Ratios = Caution

In the wake of the recent shark attacks off the coast of Florida, one killing a beautiful 14-year-old girl, for me, it's very simple and all the statisticians who are now crunching out numbers of the "odds" of getting bit by a shark as opposed to being killed by riding in a car, flying in a plane, shopping for bargains at a 95% Off clearance sale at Bloomingdale's, etc., can't preclude the fact -- that it pays to be careful out there this summer. No doubt, a few decades ago the movie Jaws sent people scurrying "away" from the shorelines for a while, however, real-life case scenarios can certainly be far more effective in prompting an extra dose of safety and caution. So, as the mom of a former "boogie board" surfer who couldn't help cringing whenever my son was out there on the waves, the simple rules of safety at your local beaches should be strongly adhered to, as far as how far out from the coastline you should be, information regarding the current undertows, etc., etc.

Let's all just be careful out there.

Well, another holiday weekend is here, and more grilling is in store at my house. And for the best tips on how it's done, I've found that the grillmaster himself, Bobby Flay, has some great ones in his book, Boy Gets Grill. Trust me, this book is the absolute best for burgers, hands down. So do check this one out if you can. It's worth the investment for tips on some great grill recipes.

And with that, I'll simply say, have a great Fourth Of July weekend! Peace.