Dec 24, 2011

An Animated Holiday Message

I got the coolest gift for Xmas. It's a Livescribe Pen and I made this holiday message with it just goofing around drawing and listening to music. The pen records it all and you can transfer it to your computer. So, in essence, that's me doodling live while flipping thru Xmas songs. Happy Holidays! Cheers, Mel

Mel's Holiday Message
brought to you by Livescribe

PS: I think it looks best if you click "full screen" (in the upper right of the embedded flash animation) and then, if you're feeling adventurous, you can change how you view it by clicking on the right of the navbar in full screen mode so that you can watch me draw from scratch on a blank paper instead of the default which looks look tracing (I kind of hate that that's the default but anyway I digress). Happy Holidays! Have fun, don't drink and drive, do eat lots of cookies and candies and cakes and stuff then promise you'll work it all off after the New Year while I go doodle some more and maybe make some flourless peanut butter chip cookies. Yum! (I promise I'll work it off after the New Year.)

PPS: I know it's long, but you don't have to watch the whole thing. I just thought it was neat that you could record your drawings live while also recording whatever you're listening to simultaneously so it's in sync (there are some cool opportunities there of drawing to the beat or something). Sometimes the lines don't line up properly. Meh. Glitch. Still fun. Thanks Bonnie and Gordon!!

Dec 14, 2011

Bad things only happen in threes, right?

   This year marks the first Xmas I have decided to stay in Los Angeles for Xmas and New Year's in over a decade.

   Typically, I fly back to Massachusetts to visit family every year. People think I'm crazy to leave sunny California every winter to go to one of the colder states... and maybe I am because now that I'm not going I'm starting to really miss it. Of course, I miss my family, who doesn't, but what I didn't realize I'd miss is stuff like snow, the crisp of the air, all the decorations and celebrations, and the general vibe and atmosphere of New England at Xmas. The scents - pine needles and chimney smoke. The tastes - hot chocolate and apple cider. It's just a special place to be that time of the year. California tries to do Xmas, it really does, but fails.

   So, if I'm feeling so homesick for the holiday, why not just pick up and go, you might ask?

   Because the last time I left for a vacation, the day I returned one of my cats died. As if that might not scar a person enough on its own, this was the third time it happened to me.

   In 2008, upon returning home from, ahem, being indisposed for a month, my cat equivalent to a "first born" died. His name was Comet and he was the best cat ever. At 24 pounds, he was huge and stood tall and broad like a dog. He meowed loudly whenever I tried to have a conversation with anyone else, be it over the phone or in person. He butted his head against my desk if I worked too long providing a perfect excuse for a break. Also, he loved riding my old skateboard.

   Comet was the first cat I ever got as an adult living on my own. He was a tiny white kitten when I first got him and on his first day home he leaped from my arms and raced around the living room in a white blur. I yelled, "Hey, he looks like a Comet!" Thus his name was born.

   As a writer and graphic designer I spend a lot of time home alone with my cats. They become more than pets, more than family members even, they become helpers and assistants. Comet was the best assistant I ever had and the day he died my heart broke in two. (And I don't think it's ever really healed.)

   Shortly thereafter, upon returning home from a trip to Vancouver and Massachusetts, my second cat, Lucy, died.

   Lucy was a different sort of cat. Where Comet had been a tiny kitten, Lucy was full grown when we got her. Where Comet had been all white, Lucy was a multicolored tortoise shell. Where Comet was giant and loud, Lucy was petite and couldn't meow (something had happened to her vocal cord, so she just made these little breathy "eh-eh" sounds). Whenever I was sad, Lucy would sit on my chest and purr until I stopped crying. Right after Comet died, Lucy spent nearly every moment on my chest. She was the reason to go on, so when she died, I was a mess of a human.

   A dark cloud hovered over me everywhere I went. Anything could trigger a memory and spark a flood of tears. It took at least a year for me to feel like myself again. I can still cry at the drop of a hat over Comet or Lucy and it's been 3 years.

   Then in October I went to Florida for over half a month. I returned home to a sick cat. Julius. She - yes SHE - long story - died that night.

   Julius came to us as an adult. She just showed up on our porch one day. I knew instantly that she was an abandoned pet because she was just a little superficially dirty but she was clearly well fed and extremely friendly and domesticated. We brought her to the vet, cleaned her up and invited her into our home. She never really got along with the other cats, but she loved Jeremy to pieces and she was a good little friend to me, too.

   Julius was orange and white. Most orange cats are boys (as a general rule). I had been obsessed with the cable show Rome at the time so I named what I thought was a male cat, Julius. I thought it was cute because he was orange like the popular mall drink, Orange Julius. But then we found out he was a she. Thing is, Julius kind of stuck. We called her Ju-ju for short.

   Sometimes I'd find her asleep on my printer. I'd listen to her snore while I wrote or worked at my desk. She'd meow loudly like a Siamese when she wanted attention. Then if I held out my hand, she'd bonk her head against it and purr all the while pressing her little, soft head against my hand. If I or Jeremy were out all day, she'd get up and pace back and forth on the couch after a long stretch and meow loudly in sentences, to which we would respond with a, "Oh, yes, Julius, tell us about your day...Oh, really?...They did that did they...Well, we're home now." And so on.

   Her presence filled the room. She just had a giant personality. She could get very cranky and she'd let you know. She hated to be picked up and if you ever did pick her up she'd loudly snap at you in an angry meow crossed with a growl and an ear-piercing scream. She'd also get a little snappy if you pet her too much. I've heard it's called "heavy petting syndrome" or something. I don't know. Regardless, it was real weird, but it's just those peculiarities that I find myself missing most now that she's gone.

   It's like there's something missing from the room. It seems smaller, emptier. This happens every time. Comet, Lucy, now Julius. A little chunk of my heart breaks off every time. What happens when there isn't any left?

   And it was so sudden, such a shock to my system that I did not put it all together right off the bat. But then it slowly dawned on me... This is the third time one of my cats has died immediately upon my returning from a trip.

   This is why I don't want to leave. I never want to leave again!

   I will, though, leave, again. I mean, I'm sure of it... Right?

   But right now the wound is still too fresh.

   Also, I moved to California in 1998 and have traveled back East twice a year every year since then (if not more) for Xmas and summer vacations with family. However, my Dad up and decided it was high time for him to be living the hot, tropical, retired lifestyle, so he moved South to Florida and next thing I know I'm making a zillion trips per year to Mass and Florida all since 9/11 and travel has only gotten worse since then. I used to breeze in and out without a care in the world. Now I dread dealing with the TSA so much I have multiple panic attacks per day the entire week leading up to any trip then I need like a week to decompress from family once I get back to California. So all this traveling was seriously starting to hinder my work and writing.

   I figured 2 trips per year I could handle, 3 or more, no (not counting vacations or following U2 tours). Thus one winter time trip to Florida to visit Dad and one summer time trip to Massachusetts to visit Mum. However, this meant no Xmas in Mass, rather LA.

   What would I be missing at Xmas?

  • My Mum decorating a big, green, real tree with ornaments from my youth and fancy new one's she's bought since - each with a story!
  • My Step-Dad whipping up a yule log in the kitchen and the mountain of regret after eating too much of it because it's so delicious.
  • How much my Mum's cat Seamus loves the tree and how upset and grumpy he gets when they take it down.
  • Paul Frank stockings stuffed to the brim with exotic candy from all over the world - I live for Xmas stockings.
  • A big pile of presents under the big, lit tree.
  • My big, fluffy, purple and maroon winter coat.
  • The lobster trap tree in Provincetown.

   Maybe what I should do is flip-flop. Next year spend Xmas in Mass then the year after that summer and so on. I'm still only traveling twice a year, but I get to experience both a New England summer and winter. Otherwise, I'd be existing in some weird endless summer parallel realm by spending winter in Florida, then spring and fall in California, and summer in Massachusetts...

   Actually, that doesn't sound too shabby, but no, dammit, I miss Xmas in Mass so every other year I'll have to break my eternal summer with a New England winter.

Happy Holidays!

PS: I recently designed a website called Cats in Places by Amy Wallace that I'd like to dedicate to Comet, Lucy, Julius and all the cats loved and lost throughout time. I miss you, Ju-ju.

Nov 18, 2011

Sad Poem

my soul feels lost
adrift on a breeze
looking for a safe place to call  home
but I have no true home anymore
and all the places I ever called home
are lost in time

so I float
never really touching ground
never really settling in
waiting for the next big thing
to carry me off again
into the void

always avoiding reality
what is reality?
a house two kids and a station wagon?
what is reality
depends on who you are
and where you live

but do I really live anywhere?
Los Angeles
a way station for transients
still chasing the dream
and looking for a place where they fit in
never really fitting in

lost on a sea of dreams
crashed ashore on a deserted island
starved for love and attention
is this all there is
just loss after loss
as you get older?

everyday another heartbreak
everyday another childhood dream
surrendered to the void
or drown in a cocktail of lies
and delusion
or maybe I just really miss my cat

Oct 23, 2011

Yeah, so, this just happened...

Just a couple hours ago we were about to head off to an exciting Sunday at Bed, Bath, & Beyond when I smelled smoke...
At first I thought it was a light burning a plastic gel in our living room. We have a lot of lights with gels. My husband is a Gaffer, after all.

But then Jeremy checked the back porch and saw smoke billowing out of a neighbor's porch.

While I checked the hallway which was so thick with smoke you couldn't see a inch in front of your face.

There were two other neighbors at the end of the hallway who already called the LAFD.

They arrived so fast it was ridiculous.

Meanwhile I went out into the courtyard and alerted neighbors.

The fire alarms were not very loud.

We still don't know the cause, but a neighbor's kitchen caught on fire two doors down.

The hallway leading up to his place and the garage below are completely flooded.

But thankfully no one was hurt and the fire didn't spread to anyone else.

Thanks to the LAFD.

Thanks to truck 61.

Here's a fireman tossing out the burnt remains of the apartment.

Look, there's a bowl of spaghetti.

The guy was kind of a pack rat.

Sep 27, 2011

The Glass Cell (the dream*)

(*This is an actual recurring dream I have that I am also using as the basis of a scifi story, albeit with changes.)

This morning I woke up naked in a glass cell. Last night I went to sleep in my own bed in my own room in my apartment. I filled the cat’s food and water bowl, watered the cactus, set the alarm, took a Valerian root, and crawled into bed. I lay in bed for about an hour reading headlines on Twitter, then flicked off the light, rolled over, buried my face in my feather pillow and fell fast asleep.

I expected to wake to the annoying alarm, buzzing of leaf blowers, and birds chirping, but no. I woke up cold and alone in a glass room. Where am I? Where are my clothes?

Am I dead?

Am I still me?

Am I dreaming?

I have always suspected reality is tenuous at best, but this is ridiculous. For example, it’s one thing to think vampires are cool, it’s another thing to meet a real one face to face.

I look around me. I can see other glass cells stretching on for infinity above and below me and side to side. There seem to be figures in most cells. Some look human, others, well, I’m just not so sure. Are they animals? Behind me is a glass wall out of which all I see is a blanket of stars vast and wide. Is that the milky way? A nebula? Where am I? I need an intergalactic “You Are Here” map. When I turn away from the stars, back to what seems to be the only way out of this cell, I see, beyond the wall imprisoning me and locked glass door, a vast hall filled with catwalks and corridors leading down from the various rows upon rows of other glass cells leading to a central vaulted pit that stands taller than a NYC skyscraper. From this vast height, as I lean my forehead and hands against the glass to get a better view down, my knees begin to shake and a strange sensation emanates from the pits of my feet. I feel dizzy and nauseous. Must be vertigo, I tell myself, and press on trying to find clues as to where I am and what exactly is going on.

In the center of the vaulted pit is what appears to be a training ground, well, actually several if I crane my head to the left and right as the pit extends in both directions further than my eyes can see. Beyond the training grounds is another giant wall of glass that seems to open onto a vast, beige, dusty planet with swirling sand storms and poor atmosphere. I can see humanoid creatures in spacesuits working out there and driving strange machinery.

Inside, though, down in the training ground... I’m not so sure what’s happening.

The training ground itself, at least the one directly in front of my block of glass cells, is rectangular in shape with the longer sides parallel to the glass cell blocks. Within this training ground there appears to be what looks like a movie set version of a bar and lounge. There is half a wall set up as a bar back drop with a large fat purple alien like creature that bears striking resemblance to a rhinoceros wearing a tuxedo and presumably acting as the bartender.

Sitting at the bar is a beautiful woman who looks a lot like Mila Kunis. She wears a gorgeous black dress made of an unidentifiable fabric. The dress kind of looks like a scrunched up giant tube sock around her. The material shimmers but is jet black. It looks almost alive, like it’s breathing. Her hair is pulled back in a tight bun and her make up makes her look like a futuristic Cleopatra. She says something to the bartender in a language I don’t recognize. The bartender nods then turns around to make the drink. When he does this his long purple tail like a lizard’s whips around. Mila jumps, startled. The rhino glances back over his shoulder at her quickly. There’s a buzzer far off. Then a shout, “Reset.” Human. English. American. What is this place?

Sep 23, 2011

Am I an atheist?

Many people assume that I am an atheist because I do not believe in the biblical god. However, I'm really on the fence. To say that I do not believe in god, despite the evidence to either prove or disprove, is still, in essence, faith based. I do not prescribe to any absolute truths without evidence.

The lack of scientific evidence proving there is a god leads me to not believe in god, but the lack of scientific evidence disproving there is a god also leads me to not be 100% atheist. I do not believe in things that cannot be scientifically proved OR that I have not personally experienced. However, I reserve absolute judgment until such time as it can be proved or disproved.

Perhaps folks think I'm an atheist because I also dislike the idea of a god. Thing is, I really only dislike the idea of the biblical god. I love the idea of Zeus and Thor and Ra, as well as countless gods and goddesses throughout time and history. I love the idea of Isis and Athena. Of the male and female balance of a multi-god system. However, it does not mean I believe in them, merely that if I had to choose, I would prefer polytheism to monotheism.

Late at night, when you cannot sleep and your mind is racing and you feel utterly alone like there's no one you can talk to who would understand or care, the idea of god(s) that will listen to you and care what you're going through is extremely comforting. So much so that it really becomes moot whether god(s) exist or not. If you believe in something strong enough, you can will it into being in your own mind. The placebo effect. And it will bring comfort whether it's real or not. The power of delusion.

However, for me, the idea that it's just one biblical god does not bring me solace. Rather the idea of male and female gods each with their own specialties is what brings me comfort. (Of course, I also like the idea that all gods are based on actual visitors to our planet from outer space and that their powers were misunderstood technology, but that's a whole other topic.)

So, in essence, am I really an atheist? I don't know. I never really liked labels anyway.

Sep 17, 2011

My First Jury Duty Experience (written in the waiting room)

So far, I can sum it up with one word: BORING.

I suppose things would be different if I was chosen to serve on an actual case rather than just sit in the waiting room all day like cattle waiting to be called to the slaughterhouse.

Earlier. I had devised a plan to insure that I would not be chosen, but it was based on a criminal case. Unfortunately,  this is a civil court. So, no laws to argue with or jury nullification to conjure up. Rather just folks suing each other. Oh, joy.

At least a criminal case would be interesting, but two humans squabbling in a litigious situation is just boring unless it's like a class action lawsuit bringing down some evil corporation for polluting a water supply or something.

We, the potential jurors, arrived at 7:30 am at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse. The courts don't open until 9:30 am. That means we had two excruciating hours of orientation. It's times like these that remind me how stupid the government thinks its citizens are. Did we really need two full hours to have the process of jury duty explained to us? And what of the multiple timers? My gods, I'll go berserk if I have to ever sit through that nonsense again. Then there was the jury duty propaganda film with cheesy patriotic sounding music and actors hired to talk about their favorite aspects of jury duty. "I just loved deliberation!" Please. Then there's the sentimental touch of two gals laughing together and hugging. "Jury Duty is deep and emotional. Many jurors stay in touch afterwards." Oh, really? Somehow I doubt it.

The highlight of the day so far is lunch. Found an interesting little inexpensive cafe called Cherry Picks with a NY deli vibe and large vegetarian selection. The espresso was a little too bitter but the sub was fantastic and I dug the jazz over the PA.

By 3:30 pm with only an hour and a half left in the day nearly every person in the room, approximately 200 people based on the number of chairs (yes, I counted them, I was that bored), were called to a courtroom for jury duty while myself and about 30 others are left still waiting. I can't help but wonder if my lack of selection has anything to do with the questionnaire I filled out upon entrance and the fact that under "What is the primary language spoken in your household?" I put "American." Or maybe it's just random. Or maybe we'll all still be called before the end of the day and it's all just dumb luck (or lack thereof).

And now for a little James Joyce stream of consciousness moment (kind of like a modern day equivalent to live tweeting if you think about it):

Not enough sleep.
Been in this room too long.
Walls closing in.
Paranoia takes over.
Too much left over adrenaline from last night's panic.
Fluorescent ceiling lights moving.
Institutional decor maddening.
Waiting too long.
Not enough food or fresh air.
Boredom consumes.
Can only read so much.
Can only surf internet so much.
8, 8.5, 9, 9.5 hours.
Get me outta here.
Head spinning.
Mind wandering.
Brain shutting down.
Did I just fall asleep?
What time is it?
Where am I?
Oh, right, jury duty.
But not even jury duty for real,
Just the waiting room.
Courthouse purgatory.
This is not interesting.
This is not fun.
I don't want to be here.
I want to run.
Long drawn out sigh.
Check phone.
Glance at Kindle.
I wish I had a pillow.
What are other people doing?
Playing with phones.
Reading papers.
They could at least tune the TVs to a channel,
Or can you not watch TV while you're waiting for jury duty?
4 pm. 1 hour left.
What will happen?
Will I be called yet?
Or will the day pass quiet and uneventful?
Civic duty, my ass.
Cleared for the day at 4 pm.
What a colossal waste of time...

Sep 1, 2011

A Diet That Will Change Your Life

As many of you know I have had stomach problems as long as I can remember and they only got worse as I got older.

However, all that changed when I put skepticism aside and tried something new as a last ditch effort and many of you know all about that, too, since I have posted a few updates and notes about my restricted diet on Facebook, but what you don't know is that you're just like me.

That's right - I'm not the only person who should have a restricted diet.

The diet I'm on is as a result of seeing a Constitutional Acupuncturist, wherein he enlightened me to the fact that humans break down into 8 body types. Some of those body types shouldn't eat meat, whereas some should. Some shouldn't eat fat, whereas some should. And so on. The problem with this concept is that it cannot be quantified so Western Medicine ignores it. Big mistake.

For years I suffered from extreme stomach pain. It all came to a boil when I found myself waking at 6am daily in so much pain I couldn't get out of bed until noon or later. This put a huge dent on my life and ability to function.

So, when I went to visit my Dad in Florida, he took me to a health food store to discuss my diet with the resident nutritionist. After asking me a few questions, she determined that I was experiencing an allergy to soy. I am a vegetarian so I end up eating a lot of soy. It's in every single fake meat product, not to mention tofu and edamame. Moreover, if you read all the ingredients of everything else you eat, almost every single food item has soy in it from chocolate to fast food to soda to bread. I was doomed.

I decided what I would do then instead of eating soy for protein was drink protein shakes made from hemp and eat lots of green leafy salads.

I was also exercising daily with yoga, tennis, and jogging.

You'd think that I'd get better over night and loose weight. Problem was, though, that I began to feel even worse. I found myself constantly in need of Gas X, ginger, Zantac, and various other stomach aids. I was also gaining weight like crazy.

After a month of this diet and exercise plan, I packed on 10 pounds and went up 2 pants sizes.

I was miserable.

I also started experiencing an embarrassing need to pee constantly. I'd wake up every hour or so because I had to pee. After weeks of living like that I was going bonkers from lack of sleep.

I decided it was time to actually see a real doctor. Heaven forbid.

The doctor prescribed a pill for my pee problem. (See here: If you didn't read that whole blog, in a nutshell, I had a horribly adverse reaction to the pill and had to go back to the doctor.

I explained the problem in more detail this time and she decided to recommend a specialist, but she said it was not the norm, nor was it generally accepted by Western Medicine.

She went on to explain that she was recommending a Constitutional Acupuncturist and that he would examine and alter my diet. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I was desperate so I figured, "What the hell? At least try it."

But see, here's the thing, for the most part I am a huge skeptic. I just don't believe anything ever. I need to actually experience something tangible for me to say, "Yes, this is real," or "Yes, this really works." I have read a lot about how acupuncture is bullshit and really just hypnosis. Well, hypnosis doesn't work on me, so I figured I'd know instantly if it works or not. Also, I'm terrified of needles, which is why I never tried acupuncture before as an experiment. Just didn't seem worth it.

In my first session, Dr. Kim explained to me how in Eastern tradition there are 8 body types and that each body type is allergic to certain foods, but we aren't lethally allergic so we never really notice that it's the food causing health problems. We may blame our environment or just sum it up with, "That's life." Moreover, Western Medicine and Society have brainwashed us into thinking that we can eat any fool thing we want. Oh, get gas, just take a pill! Everything in Western Medicine is solved with a pill. Ignore those signs that your body is trying to tell you something is wrong. Ignore the pain and the added weight despite exercise - just take a pill and feel better! But what they don't tell you is that the pill is just a band-aid covering up real problems underneath. Heaven forbid if Western Medicine actually fixed the problem because then you wouldn't be back for more pills to pay for that new yacht for the pharmaceutical company's CEO.

So, anyway, as most of you know, I'm completely over pills... Back to acupuncture.

So, right off the bat, after taking my pulse and reading my body, he determined a list of food stuffs I should avoid. Soy was not one of them, but green leafy vegetables was.

Within a week I was already feeling better than I had in YEARS. I was able to sleep through the night, wake up early, and get out of bed with no pain. I was able to eat breakfast again! It was like a miracle.

However, when I told people about my new restricted diet, all I got was looks of sympathy and pity. One person even said, "I'm sorry your life sucks so bad."

But here's the thing - not only does my life not suck as a result of the diet, it's tenfold better AND I'm not alone in this. Every single person who exists on this planet falls into 1 of the 8 body types and every single body type has a restricted diet.

After a month of weekly sessions and the new diet, I lost 10 pounds without a lick of exercise. I ceased eating leafy green vegetables and ate bread and cheese and soy again. Let me repeat that. For a whole month, I ate bread, cheese, and soy daily without doing any exercise instead of eating green leafy vegetables and exercising daily and I LOST 10 pounds.

My body type has trouble with green leafy vegetables but can easily burn through fat. Perhaps for some, as they say in Scott Pilgrim, "bread makes you fat," but not for me.

Also, throughout the coarse of my 9 sessions I discovered that my memory and endurance improved, as well as my mood. Ok, so maybe I can't eat chocolate or corn or tomatoes, but I'd rather be slim, feel good, be smarter, and more productive than eat whatever the hell I feel like. Constitutional Acupuncture has literally changed my life for the better.

I can't recommend it enough. I personally guarantee that if you have any health or weight problems it is directly connected to what you eat and drink and that with the proper diet you will feel better, be healthier, and live longer. The trick is - it's a lot of hard work and will power. We live in an instant gratification society. "I want what I want and I want it now." *snap* But that just isn't healthy. You are just like me. You should be on a restricted diet, too. I can't tell you which one; you'd need to see Dr. Kim or another Constitutional Acupuncturist to find that out. I have CHOLECYSTONIA body type. It actually means, in a nutshell, that I'm supposed to eat meat and fat. I hate meat, always have, but beans are a great substitute. So, I eat beans and cheese (fat) every damn day and I love it. You learn to get creative. And you learn to live without. I don't even crave chocolate anymore and it's really not worth the stomach ache it creates.

TL;DR: Constitutional Acupuncture changed my life for the better and I recommend everyone struggling with health and/or weight problems to try it and discover which of the 8 body types you have. You will be amazed.

Jul 5, 2011

So, I popped my E3 cherry...

On Wednesday, June 8th, I had a ton of things to do, people to see, and places to be, but when I received a phone-call at 8:30 am from a friend with an extra guest pass for one day only to E3, I instantly knew I had no choice but to be totally irresponsible, drop everything, and go. No regrets!

My very own guest pass!
Prior to arrival, I was nervous and giddy with anticipation. After circling for parking for an eternity, we finally met up with my friend's friend who suddenly was one guest pass short but had a VIP wristband - he got the wristband, I got his pass, we all crossed fingers, and approached the tiny, uniformed woman checking badges - success!

Upon entering the main room, I was immediately sucked into a giant screen showing a teaser for a new Star Wars game. I was stopped dead in my tracks, lost in the amazing graphics and detail and in a moment I knew I was among my people - this was home (like a U2 concert).

So many gamers.
Most of the next few hours are a blur because my brain was so overwhelmed by all the - all the - all the EVERYTHING! Games, flashing lights, people, costumes, everything!

Thankfully, I took some photos and made notes of my favorite games before my battery died. (I am absolutely positive I missed stuff - impossible to cover E3 in a day so if I missed something that you saw at E3, please, share - or not, y'know, whatever floats your boat. It's all good.)

My friend demos Daedalus 3D.
Here are the games I enjoyed the most (in no particular order):
  • Blacklight Retribution - not a game demo, just a walk-through, but, man, the graphics were intense.
  • Darkness II - never got a chance to play, but the monster looked wicked.
  • Dead Island - I was most impressed by this game - again, I did not get to play myself, but my friend did (it was a console game demo; I'm a PC gamer) and, man, it was just the most realistic in terms of how you'd think fighting a zombie would be. And you can throw teddy bears (or whatever you can get your hands on) at them and they react. Plus you're on a freaking island. Like Fulci's Zombie or the end of James Gunn's Dawn of the Dead.
  • Elder Scrolls - All I saw was a trailer, but, man, it looked cool.
  • Name Unknown - I cannot for the life of me remember the title and my battery had already died, but it was a Japanese game called Dream something with beautiful, sparkling, fantasy animation.
  • All games with Kinect - Ok here's the thing - gaming consoles are not intuitive to me like a mouse - I know that most PC gamers are all about keyboards but I DO NOT TOUCH TYPE so the whole W A S D thing doesn't really work for me so most games that use that, I suck at BUT still love playing. (If all I need is a mouse for control, walking, running, crouching, etc, I rock the house!)
  • Vindictus - I enjoyed this game so much, I just may need to learn how to touch type. Yes, I'm serious I am a writer who would only learn to touch type to enhance my gaming skills. (As a side note: I told that to Jeremy and he said, "That's the only way I ever imagine you learning it." Haha!)
  • Daedalus 3D - Awesome 3D game - LOVED it. Again, though, same problem with moving (WASD) but looked cool and I enjoy first-person shooters.
Free wig with Kinect demo.
Now back to Kinect. Ok, as I stated, I am a PC gamer. However, there are no real good exercise games for PC (obviously) and I decided, after trying to workout at a gym and hating it, I had to get a console for fitness. Enter the Wii - I knew going in that the graphics weren't as good but I needed that Wii fitness board. I also found I could handle the Wii controller much easier than I ever could the Sega Genesis (I ruled at Mortal Combat, btw) and by extension PS3 or Xbox.

The Kinect changes all that! With Kinect YOU are the controller, so it's hassle free once you get the movement down. Also, it's crazy good exercise. I was sweating and my heart was pumping wicked fast. I know it's not brand new, but it's new to me and the first time I ever got to play with Kinect was at E3 (my RL friends just don't game mostly, especially the girls - man, I wish I had more RL girlfriend gamers).

Anyhoo, so I played this game the name of which I now cannot for the life of me recall - it may not have even been a game booth, just a Kinect booth so maybe it's the game that comes with it - REGARDLESS I am in love with Kinect!

So, now I need to find some spare money so I can get an Xbox and Kinect and Kinect Star Wars, which, OMG, looks like the coolest game ever!

Zachary Levi demos Kinect Star Wars.
BTW, while I was checking that game out, Zachary Levi showed up with a camera crew and demoed the game. I'm not a big fan or anything; he's actually the cousin of a long lost friend of mine and that's how I first heard of him before Chuck ever came out, but I never met him or anything. However, it was cool to watch him play!

End all be all, I totally have to find a way to go back to E3 in the future.

I have no idea what this game is.
I learned so much about games and gaming and gamers and I felt so at home.

Now, I shall end on my absolute number one favorite game that I demoed at E3 - The Sims 3 Pets.

Where do I begin? It was like a religious experience! Ok, so first I played the game, then went to the 15 minute demo where I learned all about the new pets - now also including horses! - and how you can now play as them - Pets are Sims, too! Also, the new town looked crazy familiar, so afterwards I said to the Sims 3 guy, "I noticed autumn leaves on the ground..." (I was thinking, "Does this mean Seasons?") And he explained that they created a new town based on New England. HOME! How cool is that? Yay!

And then I got my very own pet collar...

My E3 experience now complete.

Oh, and I also jumped in a bouncy castle.

TL;DR: E3 was awesome and I want The Sims 3 Pets now. Also, Xbox and Kinect.

Jun 24, 2011

Snippet from my book In The Now written 13 years ago on aliens & monkeys.

Saturday, April 24
          After working out for a couple hours while Jake still slept, I finally decided to kick his ass out of bed.
          "Jake, it's a beautiful day and I've been caged in for the past few days when you were working."
          "What time is it," he blinked at me, as he reached for his glass of water on the nightstand.
          "I don't know, almost noon, so we'd better head out soon.  I don't want to miss prime sun time."
          "Van, we're in daylight savings, it'll be light out for hours."
          "But it won't be sunny and warm," I whined and ripped off his covers exposing his nude sweaty body, "Get up!  I want to go to the beach now."
          We took the 101 to Las Virgenes Road.  The radio was on and we drove not speaking.  The windows were rolled all the way down, with the warm air rushing in loudly.  Periodically we smoked.
          "Make note, there is a biker behind us," Jake said, pulling in his cigarette and switching to his right hand so that he could ash inside.  I switched my cigarette too.  "How thoughtful," I thought and smiled at him.
          I felt really happy.  Not superficial happy, but happy to the core.  "What had been wrong with me, look at this place," I thought, as I tried focusing on different things along the highway while everything whizzed by us at 65 miles an hour.  Palm trees, endless green, flowers in bloom, blue sky, and hot sun, California.
I was caged by my mind, I lost sight of why I ever came out here in the first place wishing deep down inside that I had the money to move back, live in NY City.  "Christ, what was I thinking?"  There is nothing like this in NY.  California truly is beautiful, so long as you get out of the city.
We turned onto Las Virgenes Road.
          The road is narrow and windy and takes you through very rural parts of Los Angeles County before it spits you out onto a mountain road through Malibu Canyon, the kind of road that can really mess with your perspective--mountain up close and moving fast on your right and a quick drop off to your left with more mountain on the other side of a deep canyon, moving very slow.  All the beauty in this world so lost, so unappreciated.  Where did it all go wrong?
          The paved road our car traveled on turned quick, then entered a tunnel built into or dug out of a part of the mountain.  Humans were like a disease infecting the Earth.  It's so weird when you think about it.  All other animals, mammals, fish, and birds adapt to their surroundings.  They make do and survive with that which Earth provides them, in turn they give back to the Earth with their decomposing bodies enriching the soil so that new life may grow and feed other life.  It is all a very complicated and complex cycle, but it works.  Not only does it work, but also it does not destroy the Earth or pollute the Earth.  Rather it helps maintain the Earth, it helps evolution.  Everything works for everything else all in conjunction, except people.
Humans take their surroundings and change them to serve their everlasting needs and desires.  We destroy nature and pollute Earth.  Without our advanced abilities in adapting that which is around us, we would not be able to survive.  Humans do not have the gift of adapting to their surroundings that every other life organism seems to have.  It's almost as if we were never really meant to be here, or as if we were never really from here, more importantly.  It saddens me that we have destroyed so much beauty and life.  I point this out to Jake.
          "I know.  It's true.  We are like a disease or a virus infecting earth, running around and mutating earth cells to help propagate our species."  He adds.
          I think about how I wish I had the ability to pull up all the paved roads and plant grass.  The entire Earth is caught in a tangled web of paved roads like a fish caught in a net.  I am dwelling on this, when my mind jumps and takes it a step further.
          "It's as if we are the aliens."
          He agreed, "I've always thought that."
          I looked at him shocked, but pleased, "We are the aliens.  We run around making up stories about some alien race that comes down to Earth and takes over, but in reality, we are the alien race that came down to Earth and took it over.  Our overactive imagination and obsession with aliens is really archival memories stored in our genes that pop up in the form of stories of abductions and what not.  The X Files.  But we aren't the ones the aliens are after.  Those stories are about us.  We are the aliens.  But we are so far removed from our history that we don't remember doing it.  That's how we know there is intelligent life out there.  That could be the explanation for so many things.  God even.  Of course, it doesn't explain the missing link, or evolution."
          Jake disagreed, "But it does explain it.  What if the aliens bred with…"
          "The monkeys!"  I shouted.
          "Well, I was going to say Chimpanzees."
"But they must have bred with various types of monkey, which would explain the various races."
          "A lot of people would disagree with that because they wouldn't like the idea of being descendants of monkeys.  That's why Darwin was so controversial.  It's not a pleasant thought."
          "Yeah, but we are also descendants from the aliens.  That's why we can't adapt to our surroundings like pure monkeys can."
          I was getting really excited because I felt like I really stumbled onto something.  If my theory were true it would explain so many things about the odd nature of human beings and the contradictions which existed in my mind and body.
I have always felt out of place, not from this world.  I have always disliked the limitations of my body, because my mind can go to so many places and conjure up so many possibilities of what I could do with it that the human side of myself does not permit.
One of my big contradictions is the ability to give birth.  Within my hypothesis, I discovered an explanation for my paradox nature.  Mayhaps the aliens did not reproduce the way in which humans do, but we inherited that from the monkeys.  I also believe that some people are more in tune with their monkey or animal side than their alien side, especially some women.  Women, with their ability to make life, are very grounded in Mother Nature.  I hate this about myself, but wish I didn't since I would like to be able to love everything about my being.  But I do not.  I just don't dig the whole carnal thing.
In high school biology most of the girls walked away from viewing The Miracle of Birth video with a new-found appreciation for their gift of motherhood, I looked at it like a curse.  I am scared to death of birth and babies.  I look at a baby inside me as a parasite and the actual experience of giving birth as a fate worse than death.  The blood, the pain, it all seems so wrong to me.  So vile and unclean.  Like having a period, though, at least that does not result in then having some little creature that is totally helpless and completely reliant on you.  Some women think that that is a beautiful thing.  I see it as purely an unnecessary burden.  That's why I love my cats.
You can feed 'em in the morning, leave for the day, come home and feed them again.  Sometimes they beg for attention, but mostly they do their own thing.  Babies wouldn't bug me so much if they were more self-sufficient.  But even then, I could get a nanny and not worry about having to be there 24-7.
But still, I can't get over the whole birth process.  It really sickens me.  I don't know how other women do it.  All I can imagine is that most women are born with a certain program that allows them to do it.  They don't even question it.  They even want to make babies.  It's all part of nature's way of maintaining a species.  The fear, the doubt, the repulsion is not there.  Instead there is awe and pride.
Sometimes I wish I had that program installed and not the other one because it would be so much easier since I am a woman and do have that ability.  If I truly were a product made entirely from this natural world, wouldn't I just accept my role?  I think so, therefore I find validation in my alien/monkey theory.
I am too much alien and not enough monkey to fit in here.  Yet I am enough monkey to feel empathy with the Earth and feel sorrow for all the crap our alien side has done in order to mutate the natural world in order to protect our species above everything else.
Oh to exist inside this mortal dichotomy and be aware of it is all too much.  So I shut up, tried to stop thinking, turned up the radio and flipped through the stations.
          In keeping with my uncanny ability to find U2 songs on the radio, I stumbled onto "Until the End of the World."  How apropos.
          "In my dreams I was drowning my sorrows, but my sorrows they learned to swim…"
          Just then, we turned that corner that opened up to the breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean.  With my body covered with chills and a grin plastered on my face, my mind found silence and my soul peace.
          Jake began talking about the film "Until the End of the World" by Wim Wenders.  It is one of my favorite movies.  I have always been obsessed with my dreams, as I believe that they are an important key to finding "the answer," the meaning of life.  I believe they are doorways to the subconscious, the dead, the past, the future, and another world.

Once I dreamt that I was on the Moon, though I didn't know it at first.  In fact I only assume it was the moon.  The terrain was all gray.  The sky was night filled, but bright.  I could see no sun.  I was standing in some sort of industrial park type area.  There were workmen rushing about.  Their movements were inhumanly fast as compared to my own.  They were also very small, yet quite efficient.
Everything was gray, not only the landscape, but also the buildings, the clothes, even the faces.  Not a spec of color, except me.  No one seemed to notice me though, which was good.
I tried to grasp where I was, but couldn't, until I looked up and saw the Earth hovering in the distant sky like the Moon only larger.  I couldn't believe it.  I had dreamt of many places on Earth I had never been to, people I'd never met, but never ever had I dreamt that I was actually on another planet nor had I ever seen such a breathtaking perspective of planet Earth, not even in NASA videos or Hollywood films.  It was unreal.

Jun 5, 2011

Allan Loeb Screenwriting Contest

Well, we didn't win the Allan Loeb Screenwriting Contest. I'm actually kind of relieved, as we never really wrote it to win it, we just wrote it for fun and for the experience of entering a screenwriting contest, but it still stings on some level that we didn't even make finalist.

Regardless, I still think what we wrote was pretty hilarious and we received rave reviews on it from almost everyone who read it.

So, without further ado, now for the first time ever, you, too, can read our failed contest entry screenplay, if you like. I don't know if we'll ever finish it, especially since I'm juggling two other screenplays right now, but I'm proud of it and just might want to revisit it again another time.

Logline (as created by Allan Loeb): "A group of married men desperate for one last bachelor party invents a long-lost friend who’s about to be wed, but things get out of control when their wives want to meet the groom before the big event."

May 19, 2011

Soul Believe (poem)

What does your heart want?

What does your soul believe?

Who are you

           When everybody else leaves?

Time goes by

           Keeps ticking on

You are yourself

           No matter who's around

What does your heart want?

What does your soul believe?

What does your heart want?

What does your soul believe?

Who are you

           When everybody else leaves?

May 16, 2011

Don't Be Ashamed Of What You Love (Or How I Wanted To Be A Drummer)

When I was younger, I often liked things that others, for whatever reason, deemed I should not like.

For example, in grade school, when we were first introduced to band class, we were told to pick an instrument and stand in line. I chose drums and stood in line like I thought I was supposed to...

However, when I got to the head of the line, the teacher, male, said, "Girls don't play drums. We have to reserve the drums for any boys who want to play. Go pick something else." Well, by this time, all the other "cool" instruments were already taken. So, I got stuck with clarinet, which I sucked at. I just do not have lung power. I practiced and practiced and still sucked.


Then one day in class the teacher soloed me out, humiliated me, berated me, and accused me of being lazy and not practicing. I believe I had my very first panic attack that very moment. The walls closed in - all eyes on me - heat rose to my cheeks - tears spilled involuntarily from my eyes. I leaped up, ran out, threw my clarinet at the band leader, and quit - turned my back on playing a musical instrument forever.

I was also ridiculed endlessly for liking U2, Star Wars, really most of my personal taste... In later years, as I broadened my horizons, I would be judged for liking geek stuff by jocks, jock stuff by goths - Or horror geeks would make fun of my romantic comedy tastes, etc. As if because I don't fit any one mold, I am somehow less than or too different, or called a poser or a wannabe, all for having varied tastes and dreaming out loud.

I honestly don't understand why one must be judged so harshly for simply loving something - so what if you're a boy or a girl, so what if you're gay or straight, so what if you're black or white - love what you love and forget all the rest! I struggle with this still today - I hate being judged, I just do.

I see fellow artists, storytellers sharing seemingly without a care in the world what others think. I strive for that! To be released from the persecution and prison of judgment (or fear of judgment)! But, we're only human after all...

I still want to play drums.

Me @ Sun Studios

Mel & Larry 2001

May 7, 2011

it is (poem)

it is
time 2 destroy
all old beliefs

it is
time 2 live
in the future

our minds die
in the past

it is
time 2 evolve

don't let your
mind drown
in a sea
of past regrets

it is
time 2 move on

it is
time 2 let go

our minds die
in the past

it is
time 2 create
build high reliefs

it is
time 2 live
long and prosper

May 6, 2011

Random Poem (poem)

Beauty. Truth. Peace. Love.
Knowledge. Life.
Death. Rebirth. Karma.
Souls. Destiny.
Destroy. Create.
Remake. Mate.
Touch. Taste. Feel. Smell. Hear.
God. One. Unity.
Anarchy. Faith.
Religion. Doubt.
Class. Status. Contest.
Win. Lose. Watch.
Live. Long. Prosper.
Dream. Out. Loud.
Question. Authority.
Sleep. Eat. Drink. Sex.
Learn. Teach. Savor.
Film. Photo. Word.
Sing. Song. Sung.
Change. Rearrange. Coffee.
Tea. Sugar. Milk. Honey.
Bee. Me. You. Wake. Up.
Be. Here. Now.

(First posted on Facebook, copied here to preserve for whenever I decide to quit FB.)

Apr 27, 2011

Purina® Cat Chow® Correspondent Contest: Runner-Up

Hey, so, you guys remember how I entered that Purina® Cat Chow® Correspondent Contest? Well, I didn't win but I got runner-up! My cats are enjoying their free cat chow now! Thanks, Purina!

They also gave me praise. I love praise! More than money! To quote Lisa Simpson during the teachers' strike (if I recall correctly), "Grade me grade me grade me."

Now, granted, I don't know how many runners-up there were. Maybe everyone who entered got the same e-mail... I don't care! Praise! Yay!

Ok, now back to your regularly scheduled programming...

Update: So far I can only find a total of 3 other Runners-Up out of the 3,000 applicants. Here are their related posts in no particular order:

Not that I'm obsessively checking. Ok. I'm obsessively checking. It's just that the email means so much more if only shared with 3 other hopeful cat correspondents, not, y'know 3,000. May, 10 2011

Also, please stay tuned for the upcoming book/website "Cats In Places" by author Amy Wallace (and me!).

[Update: is now live! Book in the works!]