Saturday, June 30, 2007

Some Days Are Truly Special

We spent the afternoon at the Town Dump.

Once a year our Township opens the gates wide and allows its residents the privilege of trucking our junk to the dump. Wow. All this and almost $10K per annum in property taxes. Are we lucky or what?

I'll admit they keep a sense of humor about Dump Day. One year they decorated a back hoe with discarded stuffed animals.

Next Saturday is Get Rid of Old Electronics Day at the Township Recycling Center.

Now you're talkin' . . .

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Too Darn Hot

85 days until autumn.
Not that I'm counting or anything . . .

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

An Observation

As a student of Popular Culture and a Food Network scholar, I ask this question: why do all of the female chefs/cooks on the network include their husbands, significant others, and families in their shows while most of the male chefs/cooks saute solo?

Okay, so maybe Emeril did showcase Hilda in the early years but you don't see him trotting out his current wife and kids to sample his etouffe these days. And where's Bobby Flay's current wife? How about Tyler Florence: where's his support system. Michael Chiarello talks about his family but you never see them, do you? And hey, Mario, where's the little woman?

Rachael Ray's mother is a frequent guest on 30 Minute Meals. Her brother and sister have visited. And she talks a lot about her husband. (Or did before the tabloid scandals broke.) Sandra Lee yaps endlessly about the husband; her niece and nephew have played guest roles on the show. And don't get me started about Giada DeLaurentiis and Ina Garten. I love them both but their shows are family gatherings more than cooking displays.

Do the Powers That Be at the Food Network think women need the extra help? Do the female cooks/chefs want to broaden their appeal? Did the men put down their clogged feet and refuse to provide dog-and-pony shows?

I like the glimpses into the chefs' private lives. I enjoy that peek behind the curtain. So I ask you why is the curtain over the guys remaining tightly drawn? What's with that anyway?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Can Life Get Any Better?

Paris Hilton is a free woman. You can hear the joyous sounds of celebration ringing out across the nation . . .

That Larry King is one lucky octogenarian.

(I'd post a photo but quite frankly I'm sick of the sight of her.)

Monday, June 25, 2007


Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Productive Day

It must be the Puritan work ethic making an unexpected appearance, but I managed to get a lot done today and I feel fantastic. Almost embarrassingly proud of myself for pushing through a number of projects that needed to be either started or finished before another month races to a close.

  1. I finished the Step socks for Roy (don't ask how long they took to complete)

  2. I launched Yarnapalooza at Romancing The Yarn

  3. Which means I photographed yarn, tweaked the photos, then uploaded them

  4. Which also means I tangled with Earthlink's hosting for the website

  5. I wrote up my July website letter

  6. Answered some emails, wrote others

  7. Cooked

  8. And managed to enjoy the absolutely most beautiful day of the year so far from the backyard deck.

Life is good.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

We'll Always Have Paris . . .

No, not Paris Hilton. Paris, France. The romantic and beautiful Paris, not the celebutante resident of L.A. County Jail.

This should give you some idea how major a Sopranos fan I really am: I forgot all about the fact that I have a new book out. Novella, really. It's called A WEDDING IN PARIS and features interrelated stories from Cindy Myers, Marie Ferrarella, and me in one handy-dandy $5.99 (lower if you get a discount!) package.

Want to read an excerpt? Click here.

I really have to get better at the promotional side of things . . .

Friday, June 22, 2007

One A Day

I made a vow tonight at Romancing The Yarn and I'm going to repeat it here: I hereby promise to post every day between now and July 31st.

Even if it's nothing more than, "Hi, how're you doing," I'm going to post something every single day or die trying.

Something happens to me when I'm between books and I don't like it. Between typing "The End" and "Chapter One" I forget every single thing I know about writing and turn into a whimpering cowardly fool who can't string two words together. I approach the computer like it's a hungry lion and I'm a package of ground chuck. All of the confidence and momentum and sheer joy I'd experienced during the end run on the last project vanishes and the only thing that remains is the certainty that I'll never write again.

There's only one way to keep that hungry lion away from me and that's to keep throwing words into the cage, lots of words. Preferably on a daily basis. Words magically conjure up more words and those words turn into sentences and paragraphs and chapters and books. But none of this will happen if I don't sit my butt down at the laptop every single morning and write.

So that's what I'm going to do.

Starting now.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Still Recovering

I haven't rewatched the Sopranos finale. I want to. I think about it a lot. But I haven't accessed HBO On Demand and actually watched it one more time.

It's over. Finito. Consigned to memory. They faded to black and in a way so did my enthusiasm. In retrospect it was probably the only possible way to end the show (and yes, I still think Tony got whacked) but I still feel vaguely cheated.

I'm not sure a novelist's career could survive a non-ending like that. At least not the careers of those of us who write popular fiction as opposed to literary fiction. You know the old saying: the first page sells the book, the last page sells the next book. That's why it can take me (literally) a week or two to nail the last page, the last paragraph. It's important. It's the point of the four or five hundred pages that came before. If you screw up the ending, that's all the reader will remember.

I'm watching Food Network while I type this so how about a food analogy. Chapter one is the appetizer. The middle chapters are the entree. The last page is a hot fudge sundae with nuts and whipped cream and a cherry on top. It's the memory of that hot fudge sundae that will keep you coming back for more.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Whackus Interruptus

So there I was on the sofa, heart thundering wildly inside my chest, breathing hard and fast, waiting . . . waiting . . . waiting . . . AND THEN NOTHING!

I don't have to tell you how The Sopranos ended. Everyone knows by now that the screen went to black. Finito. The Big Fade-Out. One second we were looking at the diner/ice cream shop through Tony's eyes and then we weren't.

It was over.

And I was seriously pissed off.

Let me give you an idea how the conversation went between Roy and me that night.

ME: Something's terrible's on its way.
HIM: Better be soon. There's only fifteen minutes left.
ME: I know something awful's coming.
HIM: They'd better hurry. There's only eight minutes left.
ME: C'mon! C'mon already! Whack somebody! Whaddya waiting for?
HIM: Four minutes.
ME: So help me, if you give one more time bulletin I'm gonna--
HIM: Hey, look! The screen went black.

Last shows are rarely good shows. I didn't even like the final episode of the classic Mary Tyler Moore Show until a few years had passed and I was able to appreciate the beauty of the group hug. (Newhart [the Vermont show] was the rare exception. When he woke up and described this dream about running an inn in VT and the camera pulled back and we saw Suzanne Pleshette in bed with him--well, that's about as good as a TV ending can get.)

I've been thinking long and hard about The Sopranos swan song and while I can't say I loved it (not even close) I'm trying to understand what in the name of all things whackable David Chase was thinking. Was it a slice-of-life ending? Life goes on the way it went on for nine years and six seasons, just more of the same. Why did he torture us with Meadow's multiple attempts at parking her car?(Nancy, I read that the parking on that Bloomfield street is legendary for its awfulness. Is that true?)

Want a lesson in how to build tension to the breaking point in a viewer? The last fifteen minutes of that episode is the equivalent of four years in film school. I swear to you I broke into a sweat and almost hyperventilated. Was Meadow going to be killed? Was she going to walk into the diner in time to see her family executed? Was the building going to explode as she approached the door?

Was it all a dream and Tony was about to step out of his shower in North Caldwell, slip on his white bathrobe, and lumber downstairs in search of smoked turkey and mortadell'?

Who the hell knows. Maybe Chase wanted us to see and feel what life would be like for Tony from this point on. Looking over his shoulder, scanning faces for trouble, knowing the FBI is a half-step behind and getting closer. I'll admit I kind of think the fade to black marked the end of Tony Soprano's life. Abrupt. Brutal. Cruelly final.

Kind of fitting, all things considered.

crossposted to Romancing The Yarn

Sunday, June 10, 2007

How Will It All End Up?

I swore I wasn't going to mention Tony & Company but I can't help myself. I'm obsessed.

There. I've admitted it. I'm completely utterly totally obsessed with trying to figure out how David Chase is going to end nine years of the best television writing ever. The avid viewer in me has been glued to the screen the last few Sunday nights, too desperate to find out what happens next to wait for the On Demand replays. I have to know NOW how it's all going to play out.

Right now it's not looking too good for Tony. Christopher is dead. So's my beloved Bobby Baccala. Silvio is hanging on by a thread. They screwed up the hit on Phil Leotardo and now every sin Tony ever committed is looking for payback.

Who ever thought Paulie Walnuts would be the last soldier left standing with him?

So where's it all going to end up? That's the question.

Remember how we were told families never get hit? Well, think about that creepy encounter Meadow endured at Coco's restaurant two shows ago. You don't think that was random, do you? David Chase doesn't do anything randomly. There's meaning there and that meaning is clear: Nobody's safe. Not any more.

And what about Agent Harris's frequent visits to Satriale's Pork Store? You don't think it's just the capicola (gobbagool) bringing him in, do you? There's something clearly brewing with the anti-terrorism task force and Tony is in the middle of it. There's a train of thought that believes Tony's going to be rewarded for turning over some names but I think Tony would have to turn rat on his "family" if he wants to get into Witness Protection. But this is going somewhere, no doubt about it, and I'm going with it.

I can't help myself.

So here are my best guesses:

1. One of his children will die
2. Suspected terrorism will play into it
3. Tony will end up in the witness protection plan

Are you a Sopranos fan? How do you think it's going to end up?

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Saturday, June 9, 2007


What's that you say? You don't know how to knit? Impossible! Everyone knows how to knit . . . or should.

If you've always wanted to knit but never found the time or the nerve or a good teacher, have I got the contest for you. (Or maybe you're a terrific knitter looking to swell our ranks. Know somebody who could use a how to kit? Then this contest is for you too.)

Send me an email here with the words LION CONTEST in the header and you'll have a chance to win Lion Brand's terrific how to knit kit you see in the photo and copies of A WEDDING IN PARIS and JUST LIKE HEAVEN.

Yep, that's all you have to do. Send me an email and I'll pick a random winner on July 1st.

Good luck, good reading, and good knitting!

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