Wednesday, August 17, 2016

SAD CAT DIARY: THE CAT DAYS OF AUGUST



(Guest post by Gypsy the Cat)


Dear Diary,


There are days when I enjoy being outside with a cool breeze and the sun on my face. 


These are not those days.




I’m not sure where the term “dog days of August” came from, but I assure you this time of year is no bargain for cats either. You try going outside in a fur coat. At least dogs can tolerate water and go jump in a pool. 


I thought I spotted some light at the end of the tunnel when I saw one of my people use this thing she called a “zipper” to remove her clothes. I have searched everywhere on my body but cannot find this device. Apparently cats are not so equipped. An obvious design flaw.


Then I heard my other person talk about a cold place called “Upstate New York” where he apparently lived before I adopted him. Right now anything cold sounds good to me. But apparently he despises something called “snow” that exists in great quantities there and he never wants to see it again. I have no idea what “snow” is, but if it contains tuna, I’m ready to move there.


Last night while he was petting me he started talking to me, telling me his new book about cats was coming out and that he had mentioned me in something called “the acknowledgments.” Pffft, like this does me a bit of good. Hello, McFly! I can’t read! And it doesn’t make things any cooler!


Anyway, I eagerly await autumn. Right now it’s so humid that I don’t even have to walk to my water bowl to get a drink. I just stick out my tongue and take a sip of air.


Gypsy out.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

CONVENTION THROWBACK THURSDAY: HOW THE DEMOCRATS TURNED ATLANTA INTO A NEW YORK METS TOWN FOR ONE NIGHT




Back in 1988 the New York Mets had a great team and it looked like they were headed for another World Series.

1988 was also a Presidential election year, and as a TV reporter working in the Southeast at the time, I was assigned to cover the national conventions of both parties.

Back then I always got together with my New York buddies who were also living in the Southeast whenever the Mets were in Atlanta.

As luck would have it, the Democratic National Convention was held in Atlanta immediately following the weekend the Mets were in town. So I was already there with our crew doing preps for the TV station. (Great that the boss picked up the hotel tab in a place I was going to be anyway.)
In 1988 the Atlanta Braves were truly awful and couldn’t draw flies to their games. But they had a wonderful public relations department that would hand out free media passes just to get people in the ballpark. As long as you promised to spend money at the concession stands, you could get as many tickets as you wanted. Hand the usher five bucks and he’d tell you, “Sit wherever you want.” Which was usually right behind the plate.

As we wrapped up our prep at the old Omni on Saturday afternoon before the convention, I mentioned I was going to the game that evening. Once word got around (it was like the wave, only with gossip) that the Braves handed out complimentary media passes like Halloween candy, it seemed like everyone wanted to go. (Nothing, not even breaking a big story, gets media people more worked up than free stuff.) There were a ton of media people that had descended on Atlanta, most from the networks in New York, so the chance to see a free Mets game was too good to pass up. Plus, Michael Dukakis, the Governor of Massachusetts, was the Democratic nominee, so there were plenty of Mets fans from New England in town as well. Throw in the convention delegates, political consultants and Madison Avenue types from the tri-state area… well, you get the idea.

Since everyone on our crew now wanted to go, I called the public relations office. 
“Hi… could I get a few more passes for tonight’s game?”
“Sure. How many do you need?”
“Uh… would eighteen be too much to ask?”
“No problem. They’ll be at the Will Call window.”

The night before the Braves had drawn 18,000. That night they drew 32,000.

Guess where many of the extra fans came from?

It turned out to be a close, low-scoring game.

Finally, the Mets had a rally going.

And then it started.

A faint chant of “Let’s Go Mets!”

In Atlanta, of all places.

Then the chant got louder. And louder.

The few Braves fans sitting in front of us were thoroughly disgusted, glaring at us as if we were committing sacrilege.

We were close enough to see the faces of the Braves players, who looked shocked.

Then the Mets took the lead.

Big cheer. Not as big as a game at Shea, but impressive considering the venue.

We went home happy as the Mets won.

Eighteen box seats behind home plate: Free
Dinner from the concession stand: Paid for by my boss
Memory of hearing “Let’s Go Mets!” in Atlanta: Priceless

In 1988 the Democrats gave the country Mike Dukakis.
But they also gave a lot of Mets fans a home game in Atlanta.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Interview with my fictional heroine



Lexi Harlow is the snarky, redhead heroine in my new book, The Love Triangle.  Like many authors, I tend to get attached to my characters, so I like to conduct an exit interview before sending them out into the world. Lexi took time from her busy schedule as a fictional character to sit down with me and chat.

        Me: Lexi, good to talk with you again. I missed you while you were in the editing process. You look well.
        Lexi: Thankfully the editor didn’t change me. I was worried she’d remove my sarcastic attitude and turn me into something sweet and innocent. Pffft. Like anyone would buy that.
        Me: And pretty hard to do that considering your escapades in the book.
        Lexi: I wouldn’t call them escapades. Besides, you wrote them. Speaking of which, did you have to throw two terrific guys into my life at the same time?”
        Me: Hence the title, The Love Triangle. I could have given you a third guy and called it The Love Polygon.
        Lexi: At that point the title should be Dating for the Mathematically Challenged.
        Me: So, I assume you’re happy with how things turned out. At least you seemed that way at the end of the book.
        Lexi: Hey, can’t complain with Happily Ever After. But did you have to make the journey so hard? I mean, I know you authors love that conflict thing, but geez, this was torture.
        Me: You didn’t seem to mind being in that hot tub with—
        Lexi: (Blushing, as her face begins to approach the color of her hair.) Okay, maybe torture wasn’t the right word. But why couldn’t I be like some of those other heroines who meet the hero in chapter one and fall madly in love for three hundred pages without any obstacles?
        Me: Because I don’t want to give readers a cavity. Snarky and saccharine don’t go together.
        Lexi: Point taken. I like the sweet guy I ended up with and we’re a good balance. Sweet and salty are a great match, like those pretzel M&Ms. Speaking of which, those gals in the HarperImpulse office are a lot like that.
        Me: Like pretzel M&Ms?”
        Lexi: No. Sweet and a bit salty. Nice women who have a cool job with books that can get a little naughty. You should see them when they’re searching for a guy to put on a book cover. They actually get paid to look at shirtless men. Damn, I need a job as a romance cover artist. And once in a while they get to work on a steamy book. I met this other heroine from an erotic novel that was being edited at the same time and it sounded like she spent more time looking at ceilings than Michelangelo. Speaking of which, how come every time it seemed like a sex scene for me was coming up the chapter ended? Then I’d turn the page and be somewhere else.
        Me: Because it’s a sweet romance without anything too explicit. The sex is implied.
        Lexi: Well, you implied me right into a cold shower about five times in the book.
Me: Besides, guys can’t write sex scenes because they only last one paragraph.
        Lexi: Why does that not surprise me?
        Me: No comment. Anyway, looking back, is there anything you would have changed in the book?
        Lexi: You didn’t have to reveal my age.
        Me: Readers need to know so they can get a mental picture of you.
        Lexi: Fine. But you could have said I was in my thirties with the body of a twenty year old.
        Me: Your hero seemed to think you’re the most beautiful woman in the world. Isn’t that all that matters?
Lexi: You got me there.
Me: Anything else?
        Lexi: Well, I’d like to know how things turn out after the book ends. I mean, what happens after we get married? I get the HEA thing, but can you be more specific?
        Me: Are you saying you want a sequel?
        Lexi: Nah, you’d throw that conflict thing at me again. I’m just curious about the future.
        Me: Hey, you met the guy of your dreams. So live the dream. Let the wave take you and enjoy the ride.
        Lexi: Fair enough. By the way, I understand you started another book. And that you’ve already connected with another snarky redhead.
        Me: I… uh…”
        Lexi: (rolls her eyes) Writers. And they say men can’t commit.
        Me: That’s why I left you with your dream guy.
Lexi: I’m just yankin’ your chain. Oh, one more request.
        Me: Sure.
        Lexi: Don’t ever put my book on sale. I’m not a cheap read.

       

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The time a current Presidential candidate played a song for my wife

During my career in television news I've gotten to meet a lot of politicians over the years. Many of them make you want to take a shower, though I have met some nice ones, from both parties.  And since the primaries and caucuses are starting, I thought I'd share the story of a candidate who did a memorable thing for my wife.

We were attending one of those media dinners, a nice affair for those in the news business to relax and break bread with our competitors. But this was more upscale than the usual rubber-chicken affairs, as it was held at a beautiful hotel and would feature a dance after dinner with a live band.

That band was not a typical one, as it featured Mike Huckabee on guitar. (He's the former Governor of Arkansas currently running for President, in case you didn't know.) They called themselves "Capitol Offense" which would have left them open to jokes had they been bad, but the band was really very good.

After finishing one song Huckabee stepped to the microphone. "Anyone here from Alabama?" he asked. My wife, who is from that state, raised her hand. "Here's one for you," he said. The band proceeded to play "Sweet Home Alabama" much to my wife's delight.

A few years later I was producing a live shot for a network morning show with Huckabee and I mentioned that story to him. He actually remembered it.

Regardless of what you think of his politics, Huckabee is a nice guy. Once the camera was off he didn't talk politics, and even stayed to have breakfast with the crew after we were done with the live shot.

Anyway, it's a cool memory, and you don't usually get those from politicians. As far as cool politicians go, Huckabee wins in a landslide.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Ten Things I Said While I Watched Star Wars in 1977



Back in the seventies there wasn’t much out there if you were a sci-fi geek like me and my circle of friends. You had the nightly Star Trek re-runs (which by this point I had memorized line for line) and that was about it.


Then one day my good friend Dan called. “You’ve gotta see Star Wars!” He liked it so much he wanted to see it again, so off we went to the theater. I was desperate for some new sci-fi, since the talk of a Trek movie never seemed to go anywhere.
 
I will admit, this series got off on the wrong foot with me right from the start and never recovered. When you’re confused during the opening credits, well…  it was all downhill from there.


-The words “Episode IV” rolled across the screen. I immediately turned to Dan. “Are we in the right theater?” Dan assured me this was the movie we came to see, even though episodes one, two and three did not exist. To me this was like picking up a book and starting it in the middle. (Perhaps I should send my next novel to my editor starting with chapter ten and see if she thinks it’s a classic, then asks me to write three prequels.)


-The Princess aint Rapunzel. She doesn’t really look like a traditional princess with the long flowing locks, as though someone at her salon screwed up big time and decided to go the bun route to cover up a hack job. “What’s with the hair? She looks like she’s wearing two cheese Danish for earmuffs.”


-It didn’t take long for me to decide the gold mechanical guy was really annoying. (As far as irritating people go, Central Park mimes at least have the decency to shut up.) “Please tell me they kill that thing off by the end of the movie.”


-Third world meets high-tech. “They have cars that float, a bunch of androids and yet they live in an adobe hut?”


-The guy in the black helmet with the breathing problem puzzled me. “So, what’s the deal, he’s a really evil guy who smokes two packs a day?”


-I was shocked to see a renowned actor like Sir Alec Guinness in a sci-fi movie, because back then you rarely saw a big name in the genre. Though we did have Charlton Heston screaming at damn dirty apes or yelling about soylent green being made of people. “He must need the money to be in a movie like this.”


-Chewbacca, who to me looked like a bad Halloween costume crossed with footie pajamas. “So he’s, what, a big dog who can fly a spaceship? And how the hell does the pilot understand him?”


-The bar scene. Words failed me. Big eye roll. (To make matters worse, this resulted in a bad disco song. And you couldn’t dance to it.)


-The light sabre as the Jedi weapon of choice made no sense. “Let me get this straight… these two guys are masters of mind control who can kill someone with a thought and they’re fighting with swords? Captain Kirk would have pulled out his phaser and vaporized them in a second.”


-The death star attack run told me the rebels really needed help in the strategy department. “So, if I’m understanding this correctly… instead of just swooping straight down and firing at the target they fly through this tunnel where all the guns are?”


-Finally, as we left the theater. “I’m glad you paid for that.”


Now I know a vast majority of you do not agree with me and your fingers are twitching, primed with a nasty reply. But as Master Yoda would say, “Away put your angry comments. Opinion, it is but one.”


Needless to say, I’m off to see another “episode 7” which is the new Rocky movie. Yo, Adrian.