Day 717

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I had no desire to go into the gym today, but I managed to crawl out of bed at 4:40 a.m.  I was the only one there until Glenn showed up at 5:20.  We played two games, then Tiger showed up.  I was exhausted after a few more games to 7, then hit the weight room, showered, went to Safeway, then came home and started in all all I need to get done.  After several days of R&R, I'm ready to get back to it.  Lots to take care of in the new year. 

I cleaned house and took care of chores until 4:15.  I picked up Alice at 11th Street and we went to Star Pizza for dinner, eating a thin crust Broadway, salad, and sharing a bottled Coke. 

At 8 we headed over to Richard and Lisa's and watched an old James Bond movie on the big projector. 

Lots of fun, considering the film was the primary source for the Austin Powers parody.  The only problem for me was I felt asleep halfway through the movie at around 10:30.  Staying up until midnight is becoming a much more difficult challenge these days. 

At midnight we raised our champagne glasses and celebrated the new year.  Fun!

Day 716

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

With my flight back to Oakland taking off at 6 a.m., I was up even early for me, 3:35, and out the door by 4.  I gassed up, hit 405 South for 30 minutes, then dropped off the rental car and hit the security lines by 5.  Once I passed security and got a hot tea and banana, I was good to go.  The flight was full but the person who had the center seat in my row was a noshow, so it was a comfortable, leisurely flight home.  The seat situation on flights is ridiculous.  I'm a pretty small person and even I'm unable to move around much on those flights.  It's a joke the way airlines have squeezed every last inch out of the seats on flights.  I wonder if anyone's actually done papers on the topic, the lack of leg room and elbow room on flights.  It's horrible.

I arrived at Oakland by 8 and took the BART shuttle to Coliseum Station, then 12th Street.  I ended up working at Wendel until 5, then came home, finished a sandwich I'd eaten earlier in the day, then crashed hard without even unpacking.  I was wiped out.  Went to bed at 10 and didn't wake up until the alarm went off at 4:25. 

Day 715

Monday, December 29, 2014

I woke up at 8:30 and drove Nicole home to her house in Monroe.  We stayed at her place for an extra hour to 90 minutes, talking about family stuff, life, and details from our past that have shaped who we are and why we do what we do.  I love hanging out with Nicole.  It's hard to believe she'll turn 30 in April.  From Monroe, I headed back to Kenmore and took Tristan out to lunch at my favorite fast food place Taco Time for some uncle/nephew bonding.  It's been a memorable year in the Hough family.  Later in the afternoon, Tristan and Mathew picked up pizza while Gwen and I hung out in the living room.  We had an easy, enjoyable dinner of pizza and salad, then played a few more games of Pandemic with six Infection cards.  We came close one game, but ended up losing both.  With Tristan's 75% discount at Cole Haan, I bought 3 pairs of shoes online and Austin bought one pair.  Love Cole Haan.  Went to bed around 10:45 but need to wake up at 3:30 for a 6 a.m. flight back to Oakland.

Day 714

Sunday, December 28, 2014

I woke up at Neal's at 10:15 a.m.  I can't remember waking up so late, but then again, it's a rare thing to stay up until 5 a.m. playing board games and bridge.  Neal and Karin made eggs, bacon, and fried potatoes for breakfast (yum!) while we prepared ourselves for the big game today at 1:25.  I hung out for another hour or so, then took a shower, packed up and headed back to Gwen's before 1.

Ready for the Game!
It was tons of fun watching the final Seahawks game of the season at Gwen and Greg's.  The stakes were huge, at least they felt big.  With a win, the Hawks clinched homefield advantage.  With a loss and a Cardinal victory, they would be a wildcard playoff team, allowing them no rest the following week.  I was not surprised at how the first half unfolded.  St. Louis's defense is tough!  Down 0-6 at the half, I wasn't worried at all.  The Seahawks have been a strong second-half team all year, especially throughout the past several games when they were either behind or tied at the start of the third quarter.  True to form, they scored 20 unanswered points in the second half, causing turnovers, making plays, and keeping the pressure on the St. Louis offense.  It was exciting to cheer for a team that consistently does that, figures out ways to win and wears their opponents down.  It was a great game and put everyone in a fabulous mood for dinner with Dad.

We only had a few minutes after the game to get ready for dinner at Daniel's Bar and Grill in Bellevue.  It was nice seeing Dad and Sue so close after Christmas.  Usually, they're on a cruise during the holidays.  We had our own private room overlooking downtown Bellevue.  It was beautiful.

I sat next to Dad and Gwen and across from Nicole.  I was at the quiet side of the table, while Mathew, Tristan and Greg were conversing with Mugs, Sue and Mary on the other side.  Their conversation was a lot more intense, interesting and engaging than the simple, quiet pleasantries going on at my end.  I so wanted to be part of the "therapy" action over there, in which Mugs's partner Mary was asking for little jewels of information about everyone without sharing any of her own.  Yeah, I really wanted to throw a few questions her way, just to see where she was with her own stuff, but instead, I behaved myself and didn't take the bait, didn't get up and go over to the other side of the table and get into a personal conversation (boundaries be damned), though I sure wanted to.  Maybe I'm maturing and no longer need to stir the pot, but I so wanted to stir things up with Mary, who I'd never met before, whom no one had met before,  yet was interacting with Gwen's family as if she'd known them all for years.  I love talking about "stuff" and "issues" and all the head noise that everyone has, whether they're aware of it or not.  I know all about the head noise in my head and the head noise in my family's head, but I really wanted to know about Mary's head noise, I guess because she came across as having none, but delighted in hearing the head noise around her, like a passionate, fully-invested therapist who can't stop working, probing, asking questions, searching for blood.  Maybe next time I'll make sure I'm at her and Mugs's end of the table. 

Mathew and Tristan have amazing energy.  They're so charismatic.  It's fun to watch the two of them in action.

I enjoyed hanging with Dad, Gwen and Nicole, keeping it together in my own little quiet corner of the table and thinking my own crazy thoughts while the personality jewels were being shared.  Good thing Jill wasn't there, because that would have been explosive. She and I are a lot alike.  When there's a shark in the room, they have a way of tapping into our need to be bigger sharks with an seemingly limitless capacity for gamesmanship and mental fencing.  It's that sick, ruthless, competitive part of me that didn't get to participate at the dinner table tonight, which in a way is a good thing, but still...I so wanted to talk shop with the pro. 

Anyway, this is why I get up each morning and play racquetball.  If I didn't, I'd be as big as Dad!  I love of good food has only increased with age and isn't slowing down anytime soon.  Good thing I love chasing balls around a court.

Gwen's in a good place these days.   It's wonderful to see.

I had lots of alone time with Nicole this visit.  She is amazing. 

Dinner ended around 9:30, and back at Gwen's it was board games (Smart Ass, Scattergories, and Pandemic) until 1:30 a.m.  Great day!

Day 713

Saturday, December 27, 2014

With Neil Bason staying at my place for the holidays, it worked out that he drove me to the airport bright and early at 5 a.m.  I found a better price for my rental car before I boarded my plane, through EZ Rent-a-Car, which ended up being a breeze when I arrived at the Seattle Rental Car facility (an awesome facility, btw!).  I was given a grandpa car, i.e., a white Impala that felt like a very long boat on the road.  It was fine and had all kinds of buttons and automatic switches inside, so I enjoyed it. Traffic was light on the way to Gwen's.  I arrived at her house around 10:30, hung out for an hour or so with her and Mathew, catching up, hearing all about their low-key, enjoyable Christmas, before Nicole arrived around 11:45.  Nicole and I went out to lunch at Purple in Woodinville, the same place we went last year for lunch.  I'd written a positive comment for them and they sent me a $35 gift card, which was nice!  I like Purple.  The atmosphere is perfect for an engaging conversation.  Nicole and I talked for two hours over three kinds of cheese and cracker strips, sparkling water, fig and goat cheese pizza and purple chopped salad.  All so delicious.  Nicole told me about her great new job, her waitressing exploits and how tired she was of the food industry.  She's doing very well and simply thriving.  I love it!  We headed back to Gwen's, where I hung out with Gwen, Greg and Mathew for an hour before heading out to Neal and Karin's for the evening.  This was the only night I was able to hang out with my B'ham gang and Susan & Jay, Kathryn & Tom, and Ron & Jeni all showed up, along with Maddie, Julian, Ryan and Kara.  Gwen & Greg, Mathew and Nicole arrived later, so the place was hopping with lots of great food, conversation, and some great stories.  Jay and I got to bond over Fabio Biondi, a virtuoso Italian baroque violinist who has the ability to channel Vivaldi, interpreting his music in the most original and creative manner.  We played a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity, in which Susan & Jay's kids Maddie and Julian stole the show, especially Julian!  I love how the next generation of gang participants fit in so well with our warped sensibilities and crazy wicked humor.  When Gwen's family and Susan's family, things suddenly got very serioues when the hardcore gamers (me, Neal & Karin, Ron & Jeni) played a couple games of Pandemic until 2:30.  What a great game.  I don't remember if we beat the game or not, but we sure had fun doing it. 
After Ron & Jeni left, Ryan and Kara were ready to play bridge, so we shuffled the cards and played until 5.  Sick!  Neal & Ryan beat me and Kara in the rubber rubber.  So much fun but man I was dead tired.  I slept in the family room where there was a cot waiting for me.  Great night!

Day 712

Friday, December 26, 2014

I left San Francisco mid-morning and got ready for my trip to Seattle tomorrow before heading over to Richard and Lisa's for a post-Christmas get-together with Neil Bason and Rossana.  Alice joined us later in the day.  We hung out for a few hours, had dinner, then saw a movie at the Grand Lake Theater:

After the movie, I came home with Neil, who was staying at my place, and finished packing before going to bed.

Day 711

Thursday, December 25, 2014

It was a very relaxing, enjoyable Christmas here at Alice's.  We woke up at 7:30, went shopping at Sunset Super for vegetables and crab, then came home and had breakfast and opened gifts.  I read for a few hours before getting ready for Alice's family.  I made crab cakes and guacamole and dip, while Alice made pork bellies, vegetables, sticky rice, and soup.

Alice's sister Karen brought over prime rib, mashed potatoes, green vegetables and Alice's parents brought over dessert.  We ate so much food it was obscene, but I guess that's the point of Christmas feasts.  When all was said and done, I completely succumbed to my food coma by 8.  Everyone left before 9 and Alice and I were too tired to clean anything, so we went to bed, saving the mess for tomorrow.  

Warm and cozy at Alice's on Christmas!

Day 710

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Up at 4:45 for 2 hours of racquetball.  I then went to Safeway for some crab cake items, two duraflame logs, smoothie fixings for tomorrow morning, and guacamole ingredients for tomorrow's food fest.  I'm not even going to try and watch what I eat over the holidays.  I'm just going to pig out like there was no tomorrow.

Worked from 9-12 today and it was super quiet.  I was the only one there, manning the phones and updating my Christmas address list.  It's been a few years since I sent out Christmas cards.  I wish I were disciplined enough to do one every year, but that feat is simply beyond me.  I don't know how so many people do it.  Even when I'm creating something simple, it still ends up taking hours and hours to complete.  Ugh! is simply amazing.  Every packaged arrived on time.  Again.  In great condition.  The computer rules, and I still love my Kindle.

Alice and I took care of all that we needed to get done by 8 p.m., then we watched this through YouTube:

It had its moments but was essentially a bawdy comedy with a whole lotta butt jokes and sexual innuendos lampooning homophobes and Kim Jong Un.  Hardly the kind of movie to draw international attention, but Alice and I sure enjoyed parts of it.

Looking forward to a full day of rest and yuletide relaxation tonight and tomorrow!

Day 709

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Today was simply insane.  Up at 5, started one load of laundry, prepared Christmas cards, wrote down my last-minute Christmas list of things to buy (including wrapping paper), worked from 10-1:30, stopped into Barnes & Noble for last-minute gift purchases, took the side streets to Wendel (because the main streets were so ridiculous) and worked from 2:30-6, then came home, tackled two loads of laundry, continued updating my Christmas list, made a few calls, wrapped presents, and when all was said and done, I crashed at 11:16 p.m.  

Day 708

Monday, December 22, 2014

Up at 4, racquetball, Varinsky from 9-2, Wendel from 4-6, then creating my to-do list for the next two days.  Man, it looks outrageous.  Even if I cut the thing in half, there's way too much going on. This is not how holidays are supposed to be lived.  On top of all that, my computer became infected with a virus Norton couldn't remove, so I had to contact tech support, who ran their programs.  It was fine and all was well afterward, but it took 90 minutes to resolve and I was up until 11:30.  These days, 11:30 feels like 2 a.m.

Day 707

Sunday, December 21, 2014

No writing today.  Too many things to do in preparation for Christmas, and also I needed a day to rest and relax...and watch some awesome Seahawk football.  The Hawks took care of business, destroying the Cardinals both offensively and defensively.  It was a very impressive win, their fifth in-a-row, setting up one more game for home field advantage through the playoffs and a possible third appearance in the Super Bowl.  What a team!

Read about 50 pages today, and wrote a few notes, but other than that, it was a quiet, relaxing day and night at Alice's.  

Day 706

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Spent the day at Alice's, doing a few chores, writing for perhaps an hour or so, and reading for three hours.  I also took care of a lot of Christmas shopping from the comfort of Alice's living room, thanks to Amazon Prime.  Man, I love Amazon.  It's so fantastic and easy.  I'll have packages arriving at my place Tuesday and Wednesday.  I'm good to go.

Went to bed early tonight, around 9:45.  That's early for a Saturday, but I was so tired.  

Day 705

Friday, December 19, 2014

Up at 4:00, racquetball from 5-6:30, then wrote until 10:30.  I attended our holiday luncheon at Lake Chalet, which was beautiful and the food was very good.  It's such a nice spot.  There were seven of us and it was wonderful to relax with the Varinsky gang for a few hours.  After lunch, I spent an hour or so taking care of some business before heading out to Alice's for the weekend.  I can't believe Christmas is next week.  I have my Christmas card written but haven't printed them.  I'll have to do that Monday.  

Day 704

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Up at 6:30 and wrote a few thousand words of Dogs in the Fog.  I'm getting the voice down.  He's a verbal dog who rambles a bit and is completely devoted to his owner Tim.  The dog's name is Lucky early in life and Tos after being rescued.  One of the great things about being a dog is Tos's total access to everyone in Hollywood.  Even evil human beings who hate kids will tolerate a dog in their presence if the dog is well-behaved.  This story is really getting fun.  I love all the crazy stuff happening at the Farm.  What a nuthouse.

I worked form noon till 4, then came home and did some online shopping.  I love love love Amazon Prime.

In bed by 9:15.

Day 703

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Up at 4:50, racquetball from 5:15-6:30, home at 7:15, breakfast, V from 9-2, then home and read for three hours. Talked to Chris in the evening for an hour, then Alice, then bed.  No writing today.

Watched two documentaries over dinner:


Day 702

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Up at 6:30, a quick 1000 words before work, then V from 9-3, then home to read, write, will talk to Chris tomorrow night.

Day 701

Monday, December 15, 2014

Up at 4, racquetball from 5-7, V from 9-2, W from 3-6, then home, dinner, reading, bed.  No writing today. 

Day 700

Sunday, December 14, 2014

At Alice's in the morning, writing a couple thousand words of Dog/Fog and reading a few pages of the books I'm plowing through.  I want to finish a draft of Dog/Fog by the 800th day.  I should be able to do it, even with all the work I'm taking on at Varinsky and Wendel.  I'm able to write 1000 words of first draft material in about 20 minutes now.  The fingers just fly.  I like writing on my ipad and sending what I've written to email where I combine it with my Word docs in Drop Box.

This afternoon, Alice and I headed to Oakland for Glenn and Amy's potluck in the evening.  It was great seeing all my racquetball buddies hanging out together for a few hours.  These are such great guys who have incredible insights about the world.  Race issues dominated most of my discussions, along with analysis of the Bill Cosby fallout and various stories of racism that have occurred just recently here in California.  A hot topic for sure.  

Day 699

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Day 698

Friday, December 12, 2014

Glenn, Tiger, Dorian and I played racquetball at Mariner Square this morning as guests of Aaron Kennedy.  The club opens an hour later at 5:30.  We played until 7, then had breakfast together at Rolling Dunes.  We had about 8 guys total.  It was great seeing everyone.  It had been a while since we'd had breakfast.  Went to work at Varinsky from 9:30-12:30, then Wendel from 1-6.  Came home and tidied up a bit, had dinner, then watched a DVD, which was okay:

The special effects are spectacular, but the story is so familiar.  That's the problem with getting older.  All the new movies are merely variations of movies I've seen dozens of times.  It's hard to come up with anything new.  I can see why films are for younger viewers.  They haven't seen the hero story drilled into their heads over and over, and they don't really see how mythical it actually is.  There isn't a likable character in this film, which is always a big problem.  But it was watchable because the effects were so good.

Day 697

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Big storm today, lots of rain and wind.  Woke up at 5:30.  Wrote in the morning before work, then wrapped up the focus group prep on Sunday from 9-1:30 before coming home for the day.  Taking care of loose ends with finances, piles of books, etc., then onto a few hours of writing this afternoon and this evening.

Day 696

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Up at 4, racquetball until 6:30, then Varinsky from 9-2.  I came home and continuing writing for a few hours, finishing around 9:30.  A quiet, uneventful day.

Day 695

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Another busy day today.  I woke up at 5:30 a.m., did some writing, worked from 9-2 at Varinsky, then came home and napped for an hour before writing some more, emailing one query, eating dinner, and writing this review:

Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's BoyfriendEvil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend by Barbara Oakley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A year or so after finishing Evil Genes, I've come to believe this may be one of the most important and helpful nonfiction books I've ever read. I say this because it has clarified my understanding of human behavior that defies explanation or any sense of empathy or humanity. We have an estimated 12 million sociopaths running around in American society, and the system, in a bizarre, dehumanized sort of way, favors their unlimited capacity for money, attention, power, success and adulation. Perhaps the most important take-away from this fascinating, important book is this: sociopaths are charming! They have a way of winning us over! But watch how these chaos creators and machiavells manipulate and control the boundaries of common sense, transforming their "noble causes" and "beliefs" into greedy, self-serving nonsense. No one dares call out these so-called leaders (politicians, CEOs, etc.) as the personality types their actions and behavior suggest, and yet, if everyone took the time to read Evil Genes and other books like this one, we might actually have a fighting chance against human beings who are wired so differently from the rest of us. These sociopaths cannot change their capacity for chaos and destruction. They will always have followers. They will never stop fighting for and fueling their own narcissistic impulses. We owe it to ourselves to be more aware of their charming, luring, destructive behavior. This book helps pinpoint such deceptive, frightening behavior. Thank you, Barbara Oakley, for bringing the tendencies of these personality types to light.

View all my reviews

Talked to Chris tonight from 8-9:30.  Now off to bed.  

Day 694

Monday, December 8, 2014

Up at 4:30 for racquetball, played until 6:40, then came home and went for coffee with Alice, who stayed the night in Oakland.  I walked her to the carpool line under the 580 overpass, then got ready for work.  Went to Varinsky from 9-2, then home for an hour, then Wendel until 6.  We had our building-wide earthquake meeting at my place tonight, wrapping up our assignments and clarifying food and water storage arrangements.  We're on this in the event of a major earthquake, which is great!  Had Star pizza for the troops and Christmas music in the background.  After the meeting, I cleaned up, then went to bed.

Day 693

Sunday, December 7, 2014

I spent the day at Alice's writing and helping Austin with his final English paper on the right to a free press. With so many hot topics in the news (Eric Snowden, Wikileaks, James Risen, etc.) is was easy supporting every topic sentence with vivid examples of the issues between free speech, free press and national security.

After dinner, we drove back to the East Bay to Austin's dorm at St. Mary's, but ended up on highway 24 for 30 minutes due to protesters running onto the freeway.  I'm all for protesting the grand jury reaction to Eric Garner, but smashing windows and running onto freeways is self-defeating and ridiculous.  All it does it shift anger away from the cause and onto the idiots who think running onto a freeway or throwing a rock through the window of a small business is a good idea.  I have zero respect for anyone who would do that.

Finally, we were on our way again, dropped Austin off, then headed back to Oakland for the night.

Day 692

Saturday, December 6, 2014

I woke up at 6, then had breakfast with Dorian, with ended up also being breakfast with Ron, Xavier and his son.  We talked about race issues and the Eric Garner choking death until noon.  Xavier said some parts of the system, like profiling, aren't broken, they're false.  D, Ron and X have all been profiled before.  D has had a police gun pointed to his head twice in his life.  All I could do was listen, having never been profiled or assaulted.  I appreciated the conversations this morning.  X said it best; the Garner death was indefensible, and if the police acted in accordance to the law, which he believes they did not, then then the laws need to change.  That means getting the Attorney General involved.  Something will happen, hopefully.  If Mohamed Bouazizi was responsible for Arab Spring, then Eric Garner may have triggered American Autumn.

Attended an SCBWI mixer this afternoon, which was so-so.  I didn't have much energy left to talk because I'd talked and listened so much in the morning, so I left early and headed over to Alice's in the city.  Today went so quickly.

Day 691

Friday, December 5, 2014

Up at 4:40, racquetball until 6:45, worked at both Varinsky and Wendel today.  A busy week.

I had three conversations about race today.  The first was with Dorian for about 45 minutes before work, the second was with Cheryl at Varinsky, and the third was with Lillian, Jonathan and Murry at Wendel.  It's fascinating to me how engaging these conversations are when there's an acknowledgement of how the system is rigged in favor of white people in America, especially white males.  The denial is palpable.  These conversations came about after I saw the choking death video of Eric Garner.  It's a crazy time in America right now as we confront our internalized, systematized, institutionalized fear of the black man that has been perpetuated here for hundreds of years.  Everyone knows there's a problem and at least people, even white people, are talking about race.

Here's a good example of the denial I'm talking about.  This guy can't admit there's any bias in this country. He refuses to see it.  There are millions upon millions of white males just like him.  This is why a conversation about race devolves into a defensive, angry, intense shouting match, especially when a white male refuses to acknowledge the blatant, obvious, undeniable bias that exists in America.  I'm not really sure what the answer is, because it takes months, if not years, for the white male race blinders to come off.  It's very frustrating to have an honest conversation about race when someone refuses to accept reality of race in America by assuming his own reality of fairness and equality.  What this gentleman might want to do is continue to have more conversations with people of color about the fairness and lack of bias in the country, especially with police officers, and then we'll see how much longer he can maintain his false argument that all is fair and just and equal in the streets of NYC.  He's assuming all police officers walk up to anyone and say, "Good afternoon, how can I help you?"  instead of, "What's your business here?" or "Did you just do something wrong?"

All this conversation as kept my Hollywood Hound draft on hold these past few days, but it's all good.  This stuff is crucial.

Day 690

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Up at 7, worked from 9-2 at Varinsky, then 2:30-6:30 at Wendel.  Busy day.  At Varinsky, I went through old files of famous cases Howard's worked on.  It was like looking through an historic file drawer.  Howard has some amazing stories and is a pioneer in his field.  He's considered writing a memoir before, but nothing ever became of it.  The timing may be right for him in the coming months while he recovers from his various surgeries.  He has some amazing stories to tell.

I watched the Eric Garner video today.  I echo the sentiments of John Stewart, who was left speechless on his show the other night.  There's a lot of race material on the internet these days, more than I've since in years.  The Garner video may end up being some kind of tipping point, at least for the time being, while the country comes to terms with its brutal history, profound denial, and unsustainable illusion that that everyone is treated the same.  This video is so sad.  All the man wanted was to be left alone.  This would never happen to me, not in this lifetime.  Very upsetting stuff.

Watched about 15 minutes of Peter Pan Live.  Boring.  I moved on to washing dishes after the first commercial.

Day 689

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Racquetball in the morning, followed by work from 9-2, then came home and watched a video before going to bed.

It was beautifully shot, but surprisingly slow and dull.  The big takeaway seemed to be that books are good and Nazis are bad.  Hmm.

Day 688

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Another full day of work today.  No writing.  

Day 687

Monday, December 1, 2014

Racquetball, Varinsky, Wendel, a full day of work today.

Day 686

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Woke up at 7:30 this morning, drove Austin to St. Mary's after breakfast, then spent the day at my place writing, reading, watching a little football and making a pot of turkey soup.  I wrote 3,000 words in Hollywood Hound, read 100 or so pages of fiction, collected some quotes in newspaper articles on Ferguson, op ed pieces and other stories dealing with the great divide between the various perspectives on race in this country, and before I knew it the day was done.  Next week includes a lot of work at both Varinsky and Wendel, which is good, but I sure do like full days at home.  

Day 685

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Woke up at 8 and wrote, read and hung out at Alice's.  Austin was home as well.  We all relaxed inside while it poured outside.  We didn't go anywhere.  I wrote approximately 1,200 words in Hollywood Hound and read about 50 pages.  It was a very enjoying Thanksgiving weekend.  

Day 684

Friday, November 28, 2014

Woke up around 8, went shopping with Alice for her family dinner tonight.  We also cracked the two crab Alice's neighbor Chris brought over the other night.  I'm making crab guacamole and some crab cake appetizers.  Alice has a full menu for tonight.  I'll need to night the gym hard next week.

My Hollywood Hound novel is going well.  I like this story.  Each novel is written differently.  This one isn't as structured as the past few, but has a more natural flow to it.  I'm hoping to write the first draft quickly.  Lots of ideas seem to be coming to me at once.  The first draft will be the easy part.  Separating the wheat from the chaff will be more time consuming, I'm guessing.  I'd adding all kinds of things in this story.  The other night, I actually dreamed I was a dog!  I'm bringing a wide range of influences, pop culture, dog details, film history and Beach Boy Surfer Culture nostalgia to the story.  We'll see what I end up with when all is said and done.

Day 683

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Woke up at 6, made two pies, cleaned up, read, then waited for Alice to come over.  We went over to Richard and Lisa's at 4 and ate, ate, ate, talked, watched the Seahawks destroy the 49ers 19-3, ate some more (delicious turkey, potatoes, appetizers, beans, dessert), then called it a night at 11, drove back to SF, prepared Alice's turkey for her Friday dinner with her family, then went to bed around 1 a.m.  A long day, but much to be thankful for.

Day 682

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Woke up at 4:45, played racquetball until 6:30, then showered and went to Safeway for pumpkin pie ingredients.  No work today, so I get to write all day.  Sweet!  Also hope to clean my apt., which needs it.

Wrote for a few hours, read for an hour, cleaned, then went to bed early.  I'll deal with the pies tomorrow.

Day 681

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I had a few conversations today about the Ferguson protests and the 150 other protests in cities across America.  Here in Oakland, protesters marched down Telegraph Avenue and broke windows, vandalized businesses, walked onto I-980 and stopped freeway traffic.  It seems we've taken several steps back in addressing the unresolved issues of race, justice, fairness and equal opportunity in this country.  The statistics speak for themselves regarding how dangerous it is to be a black man in the U.S. (49% of African American males have been arrested before their 23rd birthday; homicide is the leading cause of death for African American males ages 15-24).  Destroying buildings and burning cars doesn't help anyone, but I guess it does draw attention to how serious and intolerable the issue has become.  This isn't a black problem.  It's an American problem.  White people need to realize this, break free from their denial and address the shocking disparity we have between the haves and have nots, between the white life experience and the black life experience, between the secure middle class and the vulnerable poor.  The other day, I heard a military expert on some news channel state that had we never invaded Iraq or Afghanistan, we'd probably be much more safe and much better off today than where we currently are.  Imagine what we could have done with all those trillions of military dollars going toward educating our citizens, rebuilding our infrastructure and redirecting those from poverty and mental strife to proper healthcare, jobs and teachable skills that keep youth out of trouble, and programs that build up instead of tear down.  Unfortunately, we live with the choices we've made.  To me, last night's protests and rioting are less about the death of a young black man who may have made some very poor decisions when being confronted by a police officer, and more about the horrendous decision making our country has engaged in since 2001.  The denial we can't seem to break free from has brought us to this place.  Rather than confront reality head on, we distract ourselves with spectacle and the illusion that we're exceptional.  If we're really such an exceptional nation, I sure wish we'd start acting like it and start addressing the incredible unfairness and double standards that exist in the country. The rule of law works perfectly fine for someone like me, but if I were black, I'd probably be in prison, or dead, or more likely, living in another country.

Day 680

Monday, November 24, 2014

Up at 4, gym from 5-7, then tidied up a bit at home before going to Varinsky, then Wendel.  Left work at 5:45, heading to my car in a hurry before the grand jury announcement.  Watched the reading of the decision at home, followed by Obama's call for calm and peaceful protest.  We'll see if that happens. 

Day 679

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Spent most of the day reading after Alice and I finished our shopping and chores.  It was a perfect weekend with Alice where we stayed at home and did our thing.  I love weekends like that.  We watched

which was a very odd sort of film, definitely watchable but without the usual conflict that keeps a film moving. Things felt too easy for the protagonist, who has the ability to go back in time to redo things such as kissing a girl, reading a book, helping an actor with his lines and saving his sister from the perils of driving while under the influence.  I'd probably like it more if I hadn't seen any other Richard Curtis film.  They're somehow all the same, like mashed potatoes.  I like mashed potatoes, and this film was easygoing enough, but its purpose was lost on me in the end.  It shouldn't have been so easy for the main character to win over Rachel McAdams the second time.  I didn't like that.

Day 678

Saturday, November 22, 2014

I spent the day cranking out a few more queries, rewriting a synopsis, and reading.  That's about all I did and the day went so quickly.  It rained in the morning, then became sunny.  

Day 677

Friday, November 21, 2014

I was so sluggish this morning at the gym that I could barely hit the ball.  My legs felt heavy like bags of sand.  It was awful.  Even playing doubles, I wasn't able to move.  I hope to rectify this Monday morning.

It takes about 90 minutes to send one query to an agent.  There's so much information on each agent, especially if they keep blogs and tweet.  Knowing how to introduce and position a query takes a lot of time and varies for every agent.  The good news is there are dozens upon dozens of excellent agents for every genre.  I sent another three today.  The process helps keep me on my toes.

I finished "History of the White Race" by Nell Irvin Painter. Very interesting and thought provoking. I'd like to read her other non-fiction works.

Left Oakland at 4:30 and will stay at Alice's over the weekend. 

Day 676

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Worked at Varinsky from 9-2.  Howard brought in some delicious smoked salmon, which I saved and ate with a couple of bagels after work.  I read another chapter of The History of the White Race and edited a chapter in True Colors.  I sent out two queries and read two chapters of a novel about Hitchcock before leaving for San Francisco at 6 p.m. with Lisa, Richard and Rossana for Rodney's art exhibit.  He turns 50 today.  I haven't seen him in a year, so it was great to have the gang together for his show.  We came back at 9:30 and I was in bed by 10.  

Day 675

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I can only imagine how much denial Camille Cosby lives with, having been married to a serial rapist and sociopath like Bill Cosby for over 50 years.  Now that I've severed ties with my own personal fantasy of who Bill Cosby is, I'm finding the unraveling of this story fascinating.  Some people will not be able to distinguish between Bill Cosby the performer from Bill Cosby the actual human being.  They now seem as different as Hannibal the dinner host and Hannibal the cannibal.  It's too painful and shocking to believe, but as I discover with each passing year, nothing is really shocking when human beings are involved.  Nothing. Not a thing.  I can believe the most outrageous, inconceivable accusations when 15+ women come forward revealing the same horrific tale.  That's the kind of circumstantial evidence that I find practically impossible to dispute.  The level of denial and refusal to acknowledge reality in Camp Cosby must be at the breaking point about now.  I hope his soulless lawyers are paid well for their hack statements.  They're just doing their job, I know, but I find myself wanting more of an explanation.  Of course, that will never happen.  We're dealing with an extreme case of predatory manipulation since the 60s.  That's 40 years of addictive, controlling, crazy behavior.  He'll never admit to anything, and in all likelihood, neither will Camille.  His children?  Not while he's alive.  And yet, this is about as large a story (and grand a deception) as the Madoff scandal.  It wasn't just that he overpowered and took advantage of women.  He drugged them.  He did things to young, lifeless bodies.  He's a monster, a real sociopath if there ever was one, and he's gotten away with it for decades.  Not anymore.  The way this is going, he's about to join OJ, Madoff, and Phil Spector as another untouchable with lots of money.

Day 674

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I woke up at 7 this morning and wrote from 8-1, then went to Wendel from 2-6.  I was tired the entire day.  

Day 673

Monday, November 17, 2014

Up at 4:45, practiced an hour, then went home and wrote/read until 3 before going to Wendel until 6.  From 7:45-9:45 I had my finals match against Tyrone at Mariner Square.  T has been playing very well lately and I lost to him in my semi-final match a few weeks ago at Club One, so I wasn’t too confident about this match.  The one thing I had going for me was I tend to play well on the Mariner Square courts.  We had a ref for the match which was necessary because T turns into a crazy competitor when a match counts.  He tends to hinder certain offensive shots without realizing it.  Our match was five games to 11, win by 2.  I took an early lead and managed to win the first game 11-9.  T came back and won games two and three 11-6, 11-1.  In the third game, he was on fire and I couldn’t do much to stop him.  In the fourth game, I came out swinging and jumped to an early lead 5-0.  T came back, but I managed to hold on and take game four 11-9, sending the match to a fifth and final tie-breaker.  I had a 6-0 lead in the last game when T took a timeout.  He was anxious and nervous.  I didn’t want to win the match so much as I didn’t want T to win the match.  I wanted to take it from him.  That’s the sick part of me that rises to the occasion in competition.  He came back 6-4, then 8-7, then I closed it out in the end and beat him 11-7.  It was a sweet victory.  I don’t know how many more of those I have left.  I was wiped out afterward.

Day 672

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Up at 5:30, watched CBS Sunday Morning with Alice, up at 7, then to Irving & 9th for our bagel and tea/coffee.  I downloaded a game on my ipad that I've always loved playing:

I'm glad to see an electronic version of the game; however, I see I've been playing the game wrong all this time!  I thought that once a play controlled the island, the opponent could not place a bridge on that island.  Not true.  Once an island is controlled, an opponent's bridge is removed, but they can still place bridges on that island afterward.  When the game did that the first time, I thought my download wasn't working properly.  I guess it makes for more possibilities this way, but I'm still used to the wrong way.

I may download Pandemic next.

Back home and working/writing/reading the rest of the day.

Day 671

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Played in the State Doubles Tournament in Burlingame and didn't play great, which was fine because I had dinner plans with Alice at 6.  My partner was Ron, who's always fun to play with.  We played three matches and they were all close, even though our opponents had big leads against us in each of the matches.  We lost the first match in a tie-breaker, won the second in a tie-breaker, and lost the third 9-11, 9-11.  I tweaked my back in the second match and couldn't move properly the rest of the day.  I came home at 4:30 and rested for an hour, watching Real Time with Bill Maher with Alice, until we left for dinner at Pacific Catch at 5:30.  It was Alice's friend Cecilia's birthday yesterday, so we celebrated with Cecilia and Jay at Irving, then went to Tart & Tart for dessert.

We came home around 9:30 and went to sleep around 10:30.  

Day 670

Friday, November 14, 2014

I didn't go into the gym today because I'm playing tomorrow.  Instead, I slept in until 7:30, then got ready for work at Varinsky from 9-2.  I revised, answered phones, took care of a few things for Howard, then went home and distributed earthquake storage keys to all the residents in my building. I packed up and left my apt. at 4:30, picked up Alice, went to San Tung for chicken wings, picked up two books at the library, then had dinner, watched Shark Tank with Alice (100th episode) and called it a week.  Gearing up for a very busy week next week.  

Day 669

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Worked at Varinsky from 9-2, the took care of my Covered California health insurance for 2015. Renewals are beginning this Saturday.  I spent a few hours organizing all my notes on Hollywood Hound, which is actually a lot of fun to write.  I love rags-to-riches stories.  It also fun to inject as much current culture as I can into a piece.  It's a crazy world out there, the world that keeps on giving (in terms of ridiculousness and insanity).  Spoke with Chris for an hour and that was fun as always.  He's working on a romance of all things and it's actually very good.  He's about 15k words into it.  He's hoping to complete at 60k words.  I'm encouraging him to keep going.  So far it's excellent!

Day 668

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Up at 4:30, racquetball until 6:30 (sore today because I played last night), then a full day of writing, which felt great.  I spent time putting all my Hollywood Hound notes together in one place and blocked a few scenes that I'll write this week.  Also spent two hours reading The History of White People.  What an amazing and well-researched book!  It's a fascinating expose of white supremacy.  I was supposed to talk with Chris tonight, but we'll catch up tomorrow instead.  I went to bed around 10:30.  It was a good day of writing.  

Day 667

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I spent most of the day reading the books I'm plowing through and revising chapters in True Colors so that it's all ready for to go.  My energy wasn't as on point as I was hoping, but I still managed to get a good eight hours of work in.  I also squeezed in a load of laundry, which seems to go hand-in-hand with writing.  I don't know why, but I like folding clothes and thinking about the next scene to revise.

Had an E-Force demo at the club tonight, so I was there from 6-9.  I came home and watched a couple of episodes of The Comeback before falling asleep.  The second season is coming back this month after a ten-year hiatus.  My mom liked the show back in 2005, so I'm checking it out now.  It's a good depiction of behind-the-scene shenanigans on TV sitcoms and the delusional self-importance of certain Hollywood types. It's a good show, but I can see why it didn't attract the following it needed.  Lisa Kudrow is very good at the character she plays; however, the character is so unlikable and narcissistic.  I suspect they'll tone down certain elements of her in season 2, though maybe not.  

Day 666

Monday, November 10, 2014

My sister Gwen's 50th birthday today.  Woke up at 4:30 and played racquetball until 6:30.  Steve continues to play well and kick my butt.  What can I do to stop the onslaught?  I need to figure something out and quick!

I'm still thinking of this image:

This is a picture of earth taken in 1990 from the Voyager I space craft when it was 3.7 billion miles away and was on its way out of the Solar System.

As Carl Sagan said when the picture was first published, all of human history is contained in that pale blue dot.  It's stunning to think that we live in a universe in which there are ten times as many stars as there are grains of sand on all the beaches and sea floors on earth.  That's quite a detail to contemplate.  The problem with human life is it's far too short to appreciate how long it takes for the universe to create and move and mix its elements among the heavens.  The information we're learning about our place in the cosmos is allowing us a new genesis story from which we can solve the mysteries of our own creation.  100 years of life isn't nearly enough time to learn what we have yet to discover.  What a privilege it is to exist in the here and now and contemplate our origin from the stars.

The first round of the playoffs at Mariner Square was tonight and I faced an easy and not-so-easy double header.  In the quarters, I played Dennis, an older veteran player who's very accurate with his forehead but not so effective with his backhand.  I beat him 15-4 15-9 and waited for the result of the Ivan/Mike C. match before playing my semi-final match.  Ivan beat Mike in two games so we started playing around 8:15.  I was down 2-9, having missed several return of serves that went into the ground.  Once I settled down and made a few shots, I managed to craw back into the game, tying things at 9-9.  I closed out the first game 15-10, which gave me a big psychological advantage going into game two.  I had a 12-5 lead in the first game, but then I tightened up and let Ivan come back.  It was 14-14 when Ivan missed an easy put away, allowing me the chance to serve an ace, which I did.  On the other side of the bracket, Tyrone ended up beating Carlos in a tie-breaker, so T and I play for the Mariner Square title next Monday.  I have a lot of racquetball this week, so I hope my body holds up.  We'll see.

Day 665

Sunday, November 9, 2014

With Alice working in the city this morning, I stayed home and prepared my True Colors materials today.  I also read, watched a little football, working on my TC synopsis (they're always so hard to write), and jotted down more ideas on new projects I'm kicking around.  The day went quickly.

Day 664

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Alice and I enjoyed our weekend Irving & 9th morning ritual with coffee and Arizmendi treats for an hour or so.  I then dropped her off and went home to Oakland to write for the day and gear up for the Crocker Charity poker tournament Richard hosts each year.  We had some time together in the afternoon to catch up on our lives.  Even though I only live one block away, I don't see Richard & Lisa nearly as much as I'd like. The poker tournament ran from 7-12 with Stewart ending up as the big winner.  The cards were crazy as always with some huge hands getting knocked out.  I was home by 1 and fast asleep by 1:01.  

Day 663

Friday, November 7, 2014

Racquetball at 5, Varinsky at 9-2, then home to build our complex's Earthquake Storage Box underneath the staircase.  This is where we'll hold our earthquake supplies for the building.  I left Oakland at 4:30 and picked up Alice from work.  We went to a Vietnamese place on Noriega for dinner and relaxed the rest of the evening.  

Day 662

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Woke up at 6:30 and went for a short jog around the block to wake up.  Took a shower and started my day at 7:30.  I started reading through True Colors, which I haven't looked at since mid-September.  I don't have a lot of changes for this manuscript, but will reposition a few items that should come in earlier as setup material.  Right now these details are buried in the middle of the novel.

I ran into my neighbor Rex at the Starbuck's down the street while editing a few chapters.  We had a great conversation about writing, comedians and how the hard part starts once the manuscript's finished.  I was probably told that many years ago, but didn't believe it.  Now I do.

In the afternoon, I talked with my racquetball partner Dorian on the phone for about 90.  We've had the most amazing conversations about race, white male privilege, and the system.  Dorian feels the race issues have gotten much worse lately and it certainly feels that way.  It's as if there is no healthy means to engage in conversation the way Dorian and I can with such ease and trust.  It's a gift we have that goes beyond our natural chemistry as partners in the racquetball court.  We're brothers.  It's sweet.  I asked him to put a dollar amount on what he felt was the cost of white male privilege over the course of an 80-year life.  I wanted to hear the number that came up for him.  My number was somewhere in the tens of millions of dollars.  His number was somewhere in the hundreds of millions.  He lost out on a $400 million HUD project in 2010 in Louisiana because of his race, among other things, so that's where he's coming from.

The tentative title of my non-fiction proposal is called "The Emperor Wears No Privilege:  One White Male On Race."  Part memoir, part essay and reflections on the past 20 years of race in this country and how race has impacted my life, I'll share the story of my own white male race awakening that began in the summer of 1996 when I was featured in a PBS documentary on race relations called "Facing Racism."  I was the white male in that show and it transformed how I see myself, this country, and the problems of race, racism and white male privilege that we either confront and acknowledge or deny and reject.  I understand the perspective of the deniers because I used to be like them, walking through life with blinders bolted to my eyes.  I still don't see everything, which is why so many friends who are not white males who help me see what I miss.  The bolts on my eyes are be gone, so I see enough to acknowledge that being a white male in America protects me from having to deal with harassment, racism and obstacles on a daily basis.  It doesn't mean my life is perfect and I've been given a free ride, but there's so much nonsense out there that does not affect me at all, simply because I'm a white male.  Acknowledging this, sharing my experience and using the tools I've learned to participate in conversations about race in a healthy, functional manner is what my proposal will be about.  There's so little material about race out there by white males.  Why would there be.  Most white males have no idea how race affects them, and most have no desire to engage in a topic that brings up so much fear and anxiety.  So, so, so much of what we do in this country is governed by fear.

Tonight was the racquetball finals at my club and I enjoyed being a spectator this time while Tyrone and Steve went at it.  The first game was amazing.  Steve was down 2-8, then took a smart timeout.  He rallied back to tie the game at 8, then fell behind again 10-14.  Both guys were playing great, getting everything, hitting the ball low, playing smart and executing well.  Steve dug deep and tied the game at 14, then got the winning point to take the first game 15-14.  Steve then went on a tear and scored 15 unanswered points, taking the second game and the match 15-0.  All Tyrone could do was shake his head.  I told T after the match, "Welcome to my world."  Steve's being playing so well lately.  I'm going to have to come up with a new racquetball formula to take this guy next season.  

Day 661

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Up at 4:30, racquetball until 6:30.

I spent the day creating a list of agents to query. makes it much less difficult than it would otherwise be.  From a list of 75 possible agents, I narrowed my agent pool to 40 agents who have lots of children’s lit deals under their belt.  From those, I chose my top 20 to query first.  Once those are out, I’ll query my next 20, then my next, until eventually all 75 are out.  I’m at the point where having an agent isn’t nearly as helpful as having the right agent to get where I want to go.

I’m also putting together a non-fiction proposal and targeting another pool of agents after my fiction queries are out.  I wrote a proposal several years ago, but it wasn't ready.  I think I'm ready now.

I worked until 8:30, then treated myself to a film I hadn’t seen in years, Pulp Fiction.  It holds up so well.  It’s stunning how well the film holds up.  It’s timeless and a true masterpiece.  I remember seeing it at the California in Berkeley with Neil Bason when in came out.  I remember thinking it was a masterpiece then.  What’s interesting is in the special previews when actors are talking about the movie on set between takes, they knew even then that the film was special and brilliant.

Today was the first day in ages where I was home all day, free to do my thing.  I love days like today.  I wish I had more of them.

Day 660

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I spent the morning filling in my absentee ballot and turned it in before work.  I was at Varinsky from 9-2, then used my afternoon researching agents.  I talked with Chris in the evening for an hour.  I went to be early, before 10.  

Day 659

Monday, November 3, 2014

Played racquetball this morning, then worked at Varinsky from 9-3.  I spent some time on querytracker looking over my options and the various literary agencies that might be a good fit for me.  I found roughly 120 agencies that represent children's lit.  Now that I have a list of agencies, I'll rank them in order from top to bottom, then choose one agent to query from each house.  This will take a couple of weeks but the time spent organizing my process will be worth it.  I'm still a bit shaken by the events of last week, but understand they were inevitable.  

Day 658

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Read at Alice's and returned to the library down the street, checking out four more books:

Seahawks won and my fantasy team is looking strong after last week's shellacking.

Day 657

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Spent the day at Alice's, reading, studying, formulating my ideas on a non-fiction proposal on white male privilege, and hitting the library in search of new children's books to read.  I found three that look interesting:

Started Hitch, which is set in San Fran in the 50s at the Fairmont Hotel and involves a murder between an 11-year-old boy and the master director himself.  Read the first paragraph of Kinda Like Brothers and knew it would be good.  Scandalous also sounds very interesting.  Too much to read and too little time to read it.

Day 656

Friday, October 31, 2014

For the past 20 years, I've spent Halloween with Richard and Lisa at their house on Erie Street. While I've grown complacent about the tradition, Richard delivers bangout brilliant stories, sets and magnificent special effects with a commitment to scaring little kiddies that is truly extraordinary. This Year's Pirate Jacque LaFeet from the gator-bait swamps of the Bayou was a  particularly successful skit, which is amazing considering how little rehearsal we had.

Halloween Cast 2014 - Gator Bait in the Bayou

The Talent - Actors in Halloween 2014 Skit

Where'd my legs run off to?

Post-Performance Party, Halloween 2014

Day 655

Thursday, October 30, 2014

I saw my guru Phil Ziegler this morning to help me deal with a major change in my life.  I let go of my agent of 15 months this week and it was gut-wrenching.  I'd made up my mind Sunday, but when I expressed my unhappiness and frustration on Tuesday, my feelings were met with shock, anger, disappointment and defensiveness.  In retrospect, I can understand how my decision came out of the blue, but that was part of the problem and why Sharon's agency wasn't the right agency for me.  She'd taken on a large contract job in NYC that had nothing to do with being an agent.  That meant her time with writers was limited.  As a result, the quick, timely response to emails was gone, as was the energy and sense of urgency with projects.  It has been a noticeable change since last spring, but I stuck with it because I like Sharon and wanted to land a sale with her.  She has a partner named Ella Marie who runs the agency fulltime and had worked with me on my present manuscript.  She's a great editor-agent who has good instincts and offered me a laundry list of ideas and suggestions, which I adopted into the revision that I turned in six weeks ago.  I was told I'd hear back within a week; however, I never heard anything.  When I sent a nudge email two weeks later, Sharon responded instead of Ella Marie, telling me my manuscript would be reviewed by an editor who was teaching a class Sharon was taking.  I said that was fine, but still requested Ella Marie's feedback.  Sharon said she wanted the editor's feedback first, so I never heard from the one person who had suggested all the changes in the first place.  That bothered the crap out of me.  Another few weeks went by without hearing anything, so I emailed Sharon again last Friday, to which she said the editor/teacher was super busy and had no time to read the manuscript (no surprise there...why on earth would a professional editor read a manuscript for free that wasn't even ready, from an actual agent representing an actual client...the whole thing made no sense at all), so instead, she sent me his lecture notes and asked that I consider each element of my story and write down how I succeeded or failed in delivering each element in my revision.  Suddenly, I was back in college taking a course on how to write a story well.  Needless to say, it was time to move on, which I did, but man, it has really been an emotional roller coaster.  Phil is a master at helping me work through my issues (guilt, insecurity, shame, etc.) and moving on to the next stage of my writing life.  It only took one session to get back in the game and recognize what I needed to do to get through this temporary setback.  I'm at a stage where having an agent isn't good enough anymore.  I need to have the right agent for me who understands the children's lit terrain, understands writers, has confidence in his/her instincts and can sustain their occupation fulltime.  I didn't have that, but I will with my next agent.

Day 654

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Game 7 of the 2014 World Series between the Giants and the Royals was the most intense baseball game I've ever watched.  I didn't think anything would out do what happened back in 2010 when the Giants beat the Phillies in the National League Championship with Brian Wilson pitching that final strike out to end the series, but tonight, was I saw was some of the most amazing athleticism, defense, pitching and nervewracking nailbiting nonstop out-of-my-skin intensity I've ever experienced.  I watched the game alone in my living room.  I was about to invite neighbors over around the 5th inning, but decided instead to experience the drama myself.  I wanted to see if Bumgarner was going to go all the way to the end of the game without allowing a run.  He did it and I feel lucky to have been on earth to witness such an historical baseball moment live while it was happening.  It was truly one of the most epic games I've ever watched.  This team is unbelievable!  Panda is unbelievable!  Hunter Pence is unbelievable!  What a team and what a World Series!

Day 653

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Today was an impossibly difficult and painful day.  It's one of those days that I will reflect upon with inevitable dread as a lose-lose situation that can only be resolved by overturning the apple cart and hoping for the best.  The details are too raw to write down here, but perhaps in a day or two I'll lay out the details of what happened.  

Day 652

Monday, October 27, 2014

I did not get much done today.  I worked at Wendel in the afternoon, then came home and didn't do much of anything.  I spoke with Chris earlier in the day to get his perspective on an issue that has come up for me involving my agent.  His perspective was helpful.  More on this later.  I went to Mariner Square tonight to play my league games, but I could barely hit the ball.  I lost two games and almost lost two more. Racquetball is such a psychological game and when you're down, you're game's totally off.

Day 651

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Alice's birthday today.  We went to La Boulange for breakfast with Austin, then went to dinner with Cecilia and Jay at a place they chose.  I did some reading during the afternoon but not much else.  It was really Alice's day and we just hung out at the house after breakfast.  

Day 650

Saturday, October 25, 2014

We spent the afternoon at Elaine and Wayman's in Los Altos in celebration of Alice's birthday, which is tomorrow.  Nathan and I played a really great game that I actually bought for Neal and his family last year:

I must own this game.  I've never played a game in which the players team up and play against the game itself.  I love it.  There are so many different variables at play that it makes playing this game lots of fun.  I think Alice and I would have fun with it.

After the barbecue, we drove home and relaxed the rest of the evening. 

Day 649

Friday, October 24, 2014

Wow, Friday all ready.  Writing in the morning and off to Wendel in the afternoon.  Alice's in the evening.  

Day 648

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lost my semi-final match against Tyrone tonight, 15-13-, 6-11, 8-11.  It was a good match but I still lacked energy.  I may be getting too old to play tournaments.  They really take their toll on me.  I'm firing up Hollywood Hound, getting a draft ready soon.  

Day 647

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Still recovering from my weekend in Stockton.  I planned to go to the gym this morning, but ended up sleeping in until 8:15!  I had only 30 minutes to arrive at Varinsky.  After V, off to Wendel from 2-6, then an evening of cleaning up and reading.

Day 646

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I was still pretty sore today.  I spoke with a couple of folks from Louisiana that were involved in Dorian's project back in 2010 and 2012.  I have a good handle on what occurred and why the project ultimately didn't go through.  The overall story is a lot more complicated than race and discrimination, though that certainly came into play.  Unfortunately, Dorian got caught in the middle of a nasty rivalry in which he ended up on the losing end of everything.  In piecing together his story, I can see how disappointing these last few years have been for African American entrepreneurs who believed certain doors would be open to them once Obama became president.  It hasn't been the case.  In fact, it seems some things have gotten much worse.

Went to Wendel in the afternoon and met Rossana for dinner at Shakewell in the evening.  I like what they did to the place inside.  Very hip and relaxed.  

Day 645

Monday, October 20, 2014

Wow, was I ever sore today. I knew I would be.  I worked at Wendel from 2-6.  From 8-1:30, I tidied up my apt and read.  After work, I watched five episodes of

on disc through Netflix.  Hannibal is a brilliant show.  The production values, lighting, set designs and pacing are all of the highest quality.  The acting is superb and the writing is constantly surprising and strong.  The level of creativity in this series is inspiring.  I'm plowing through season 2 in order to be ready for season 3 next year.  Of all the shows currently on TV, this one is my favorite.  Mads Mikkelsen is the perfect Hannibal Lecter.

Day 644

Sunday, October 19, 2014

2014 LPRT Stockton Champion Rhonda Rajsich
What an amazing finals at the LPRT in Stockton.  As expected, Paola Langoria and Rhonda Rajsich met in the finals.  I wasn't able to see all the games because I had matches myself in A singles, but what I did see was spectacular.  Rhonda won the first game 11-9, then lost in the second 5-11.  She won the third game 14-12, then lost the fourth 5-11, setting up an epic fifth game that hadn't been seen in LPRT play in many tournaments.  Paola hadn't lost a match in over three years.  The last time she lost was in Stockton against Rhonda, which was epic in its drama both on and off the court.  The fifth and final game was all Rhonda.  She was simply on a mission to take the title and she did it convincingly, 11-5.  What a treat to witness!

Day 643

Saturday, October 18, 2014

I spent the entire day at the 209 watching racquetball.  It was so much fun seeing the top women in the world play their quarterfinal and semi-final matches.  I stayed at the 209 until 11 p.m., watching the sponsor doubles event.  Mike Lippitt ended up winning with his partner Michelle Key.  Great playing from everyone.

Day 642

Friday, October 17, 2014

I drove to Stockton for the weekend to watch the Ladies Pro Racquetball Tour and play in a few singles events.

Today, I played elite singles for the first time and lost every game, but had a lot of fun losing.  I have so much to learn at this level and really become handicapped when my lack of fundamentals come into play.  The ball moves so much faster and my decision making isn't what it should be some of the time.  It was great experience though and a treat to watch the women play later in the afternoon.  I like hanging out in Stockton for a few days and forgetting about everything except racquetball.  I wish I could do it more often.

Day 641

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I spoke with Dorian and a few of his contacts in Louisiana today.  They have given me the details of what Dorian went through back in 2010.  In the evening, I went to dinner at Alice's.  She had over May and her two daughters.  One is a pastry chef and the other is a coroner.  We had lamb, rice and salad.  Very good.  I went to bed early in preparation for Stockton Friday morning.  

Day 640

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Up at 4:45, racquetball until 6:30.  Steve and I are in the playoffs for our league.  He plays the winner of Carlos and Alex and I play Tyrone.  T has lost a step but he can still play a tough game.  Steve has not lost anything and is playing as well as he's ever played.  He hits the ball hard and knows my game inside and out.  We are equal on my fronts but he has better endurance and has longer arms.  He will be a handful if we meet in the finals.

I worked at Varinsky this morning from 9-1, then came home and continued my studying of Dorian's story.  I have a good handle on it now.  I'll draft an outline of how the story might play out, using some of the elements of race and the optimism from the Obama presidency that was so high with African American entrepreneurs back in 2009-2010.  I'm speaking with a few of his contacts tomorrow at noon to get their take on things.

Went to bed at 8:30 because I was so tired.

Day 639

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I woke up at 7:30 and went to work at Wendel from 9-1.  I then came home and read Dorian's articles.  We talked for an hour, discussing some of the questions I had.  He sent more information and a video clip of a Parish Council meeting he attended in March, 2012.  I'm not sure there was any way his project would have gotten off the ground.  I'm talking with a few of the players who were there when the project first arrived at the Council office back in 2010.  It's funny how many angles a story has and how difficult it can sometimes be to extract the truth from a story.  Sometimes stories have many layers and finding the thread that carries the most weight takes a lot of time and patience, as well as reading between the lines.  I think about the various narratives that come with history.  Take for instance the Iraq War in 2003.  I wonder how the history books will portray that war fifty years from now.  I hope history mentions how a group of ideologues who were part of this grand master vision called the Project for a New American Century wanted to bring democracy to the Middle East and used 9/11 as an excuse to invade Iraq, even though millions of citizens around the world protested their bogus reasons for doing so.  Saddam Hussein was an amoral dictator, but when we went in there and did what we did, making the mistakes that we made, we opened up a Pandora's Box that is now called ISIS.  What will it be called five or ten years from now.  For those people who love war and bombs and destruction, this is all playing out very nicely.  The military industrial complex is alive and well in America.  I don't know if I'll ever get over that horrendous, horrendous decision to invade Iraq.