Day 1138

Thursday, February 25, 2016

I was given an offer for full-time work as a legal assistant at a small firm in Emeryville.  The people are very nice and it's a good fit, but I will be working hard for them while I get all my manuscripts off the ground.  Now I have the funds to really polish the books I have with the help of an editor.  I'll send all my manuscripts off to agents this year in hopes of attracting someone good with connections.  I'll also be able to pay off my bills which will be nice.  But the work involved...that's all I'll do this year is work (except for the cruise Alice has set up in late-May/early-June.

Day 1137

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Racquetball in the morning, then a full day of work.  I spoke with Chris at 8.  Not enough hours in the day. 

Day 1136

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Another long working day.  No writing today, which is a major drag because I still have so much left to do in La Strav.  Ugh!

Day 1135

Monday, February 22, 2016

A busy day to start a very busy week.  I played racquetball in the early a.m., then worked in the morning at Varinsky, then worked for a few hours in the afternoon for some economists who are putting together a complicated Word report that's loaded with tables and charts, then at 5:30 I interviewed for a legal assistant position for a small firm specializing in health care, in particular representing doctors.  The interview went well and the folks I met are very pleasant and nice.  I came home around 6:30 dead tired.  I spoke with Alice before bed.

Day 1134

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Spent the day writing chapter 11, section3, and reading two novels about Vivaldi by two different authors:

Also still reading Women Musicians of Venice.  Lots of good stuff in these books.

Tomorrow will be a busy day, so after Downton Abbey I'm leaving for home. 

Day 1133

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Spent the day with Alice, taking care of errands, hanging out downtown, going out for lunch and spending an hour at Diamond Heights in the Jacuzzi.  In the evening we watched an episode of Cooked on Netflix.  Glad Hillary won Nevada and I see Trump is still dominating the GOP candidates.  He will be their nominee.  They deserve him.  Hillary will win out.

Day 1132

Friday, February 21, 2016

Worked most of the day, then came over to Alice's at 5.  I didn't do any writing today, but hope to write a lot on Sunday.  I think tomorrow I will relax with Alice.

Day 1131

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Another busy work day, followed by a few minutes of chores and emails.  My Bellingham gang is talking politics and the Bernie v. Hillary battle currently going on with the Democrats.  Here's  my response:

"Hillary, I love her, but she's not good at this.  She's not good at campaigning.  I mean, in 2008, she lost to a black man with a Muslim name.  Now she's losing to a 74-year-old Jewish Socialist.  I mean, Hillary, we're making this as easy as we can for you."  Bill Maher, Real Time

I love how Trump is channeling me when he talks about the Iraq War!

I also love how I seem to be channeling Jeff '08 when talking about Hillary in 2016.

And by channeling, I mean a strong desire to knock some sense into the Dems...

Listen, I love the Bern and all he stands for, but as our nominee in the general?  No.  No way.  You can't be serious, Dems!  The GOP will "bernihana" his socialist ass into ground round the minute Hillary loses. They will "Magic Bernie Bullet" his talking points into an affront of everything American and have a field day doing it.  They will have so much political ammunition at their disposal that it will make our current gun laws look quaint by comparison.  Bernie polls better?  That's like saying Clinton polled beautifully two years ago (or robot Rubio polled like a winner two weeks ago, before his disastrous New Hampshire debate)'s irrelevant!  Today's Bernie v. GOP poll is meaningless.  Dems, don't give the GOP an early Christmas present, because that's exactly what it would be, a gift from God herself and an opening that the GOP would exploit like nothing we've seen since 9/11 when they found their reason to wage war in Iraq.

I know we've had seven (going on eight) years of hopey-changey and in many cases it's been terrific and wonderful and we passed Obamacare and that was great, but we also let those thug banker CEOs off the hook and never really used the sledgehammer on the insufferable GOP the way we should have.

No.  No, no, no.  Can we please take a hopey-changey break (remember, I'm channeling Jeff '08) and recognize the blood-sport that American politics has become.  For the love of God, Dems, can we please nominate our headliner and not our warm-up act?

Guys!  There's nothing more the GOP can throw at Hillary that they haven't already uploaded onto Fox News ten times every hour.  She's a known quantity.  As Will so perfectly said, she's an international force to be reckoned with.  Is she perfect?  No.  Does she take friendly pictures with Henry War Criminal Kissinger?  Yes.  Is she as sincere, honorable, and filled with as much integrity as Bernie?  Probably not...okay, no.  But will she use the sledgehammer more effectively?  YES!  Of course she will!

The GOP dream come true is to run against Bernie.  Seriously...Dream.  Come.  True!

Hillary has been magnificent on the debate stage so far!  Bernie has been great too, especially on the rigged economy and 1%ers, but Hillary has been great on everything.  Every topic she nails.  She's got details.  She knows her stuff.  She's met everyone.  Bernie is not as articulate on foreign policy.  In fact, he sounds like a total newbie.  Hillary is the opposite of a newbie.  Hillary will destroy any GOP nominee put in front of her on the debate stage.  She will eat that nominee for breakfast.  I want to see that happen.  I want to see her eat Donald J. Trump on the debate stage.  Bernie won't eat anyone.  He's too nice.  He's too honorable.  He's too thoughtful for the blood-sport this arena has become.

I'm not into honor or thoughtfulness this year.  I'm into winning.  I'm into the Dems winning the White House and sticking it to a political party that has already imploded, that has as its front runner a reality show entertainer, followed by a very dangerous sociopath in second place, followed by an empty-suit robotic Manchurian Candidate in third.  I'm into Hillary, warts and all.

I love Bernie Sanders, but this Dem fantasy that he's a better nominee than Hillary scares the shit out of me.  He's not.  It isn't even close.  I will fully support whoever the Dems nominate, but if the Democratic party nominates Bernie Sanders instead of Hillary Clinton as their nominee, it will be the single greatest Democratic misstep in my lifetime.  It's the only way Trump wins.

Jeff '08, how am I doing?


Day 1130

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Racquetball, work, then a late-afternoon movie at the Piedmont, Spotlight, which was fantastic.  I loved every minute of this gripping film and really didn't know the full extent of the Catholic child abuse case and how pervasive it is around the world.  The film estimates that 6% of priests are child molesters, but Howard, who's worked on many of theses cases for the church, estimates the number might be as high as 20%.  That's extraordinary, especially considering the purpose of the Catholic church and their position of power among the weakest of our society.  It's amazing to me how predators prey upon the vulnerable and the lengths they'll go to conceal their actual motives.  I'm amazed the Catholic church is still relevant today, considering its track record for cruelty and hypocrisy. 

Talked with Christ at 8 and Alice at 9:15, then went to bed.

Day 1129

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

I worked in the morning and early afternoon, then plowed through the final 8 episodes of Mad Men.  I've now seen all the episodes.  This may be my favorite series of all time.  I absolutely love everything about it and loved how it concluded.  It was a perfect ending to me. 

Day 1128

Monday, February 15, 2016

I was at Alice's all day today, refreshing my memory on MS Office, reading books on the difference between the various versions, 2007 vs. 2010 vs. 2013 vs. 2016.  They all have subtle differences and are completely different from 2003.  I took two online exams assessing my knowledge of Word and Outlook.  Tomorrow I do the same for Excel and PowerPoint.  I have an interview tomorrow for a law firm in Emeryville, which would work out well for me, being so close and near Varinsky Associates. 

I returned several books to the library and outlined all that I have left with La Stra.  I came home around 8 and ironed some shirts while watching an episode of Mad Men.  The final few episodes are now on Netflix.  Tomorrow will be a busy day.

Day 1127

Sunday, February 14, 2016

I spent most of the day reading Women Musicians of Venice, about the orphaned girls of the Ospedale della Pieta.  Thick reading but very informative and helpful. 

Day 1126

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Wrote most of the morning and afternoon, then we went over to Karen's for Chinese New Year.  It was nice seeing everyone and the food was so good.  I came home and watched most of the GOP debate, which was a real slug fest.  I admit I love listening to Trump call out Bush on the deplorable Iraq War.  I can't get enough of the Donald / Jeb show.  This food fight was memorable.  What a circus this is. 

Day 1125

Friday, February 12, 2016

Racquetball in the a.m. and breakfast with the guys for an hour.  Aaron Kennedy showed up, which was great to see.  After breakfast, I worked for several hours, then came home and packed my things and headed over to Alice's for the three-day weekend.  We had a light meal and relaxed the rest of the night.

Day 1124

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Worked most of the day, then came home and watched the Democratic debate.  Hillary Clinton is very good on every subject.  Bernie Sanders is great on the economy and the 1%ers, but on foreign policy and other issues, he's vague and not as memorable.  It's Hillary's nomination to lose.  I hope she gets it.  She's a much stronger nominee in my opinion. 

Day 1123

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Up at 4:30, racquetball, writing for an hour, work for a few hours, then home to revise until 7 or so.  I drafted section 2 of chapter 11.  I see light at the end of the tunnel and I'm starting to get excited about the completion of this book.  I really like it, especially the Vivaldi angle and the orphaned and abandoned girls Vivaldi wrote music for.  To me, that's the anchor of the story, embedded deep inside the novel's ocean floor.  It makes me happy.

Here's the Table of Contents to La Stravaganza:

 I still have a ways to go, but it's finally coming together.

I talked with Chris for an hour tonight, catching up on movies, politics, writing and life.  He's going to Mexico with two writers for a week at the end of February to wrap up the novel he's been writing since last year.  That last 10% is such a bitch to finish!

I watched the first two hours of Madoff, the ABC Miniseries staring Richard Dreyfuss.  So far I'm impressed.  Lots of good camera work and of course Richard Dreyfuss is fantastic.

Then there's the Funny or Die Trump the Art of the Deal starring Johnny Depp, a must-see spoof that's 50 minutes long and worth every second:  The Art of the Deal, the Movie

Day 1122

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I was hoping to get up at 4:30, but instead crawled out of bed at 6.  I just couldn't get up...too tired...but still managed an hour or so of writing before work.  I worked in the morning and early afternoon, then came home and wrote another 3 hours or so.  I'm still writing chapter 10.  This has become an important chapter, and perhaps the low point for Mindy in the novel.  I'm about 2,000 words over what I'd like. It's about 7,800 words long and I don't want any chapter over 6k words.

I watched election returns after 5 and no real surprises with the winners, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.  Hillary did a little worse than I was expecting and Marco Rubio really tanked compared to Iowa.  I'm glad.  Talk about an empty suit.  I find him scary and thoroughly unlikeable.  Jeb Bush caught a little life, and I think that can be traced to the debate before Iowa that Donald Trump stupidly skipped.  Without Trump on stage, Bush found his voice and had a good night.  He's logged in a few minor victories, including his third place finish in New Hampshire last night.  With his name recognition and endless resources, he might be in a while.  We'll see if he can actually win a state. Ted Cruz did not do all that well and had no bump from Iowa.  I hope his campaign implodes quickly...the sooner the better.  I was happy to see John Kasich do well in New Hampshire.  He's reasonable and "normal," unlike so many of the others.  I know he dumped all his resources into the Granite State, so we'll see if he has any second act in him.  Chris Christie will drop out soon.  His campaign generated zero traction, which is somewhat surprising, seeing as he was pretty good on all the debates and can be tough and clear (I'm glad he's done).

At 7 I went to see The Big Short with Biff and Rhonda.  The film did a great job of explaining a tough subject.  I loved reading Michael Lewis's book and thought the film version was so imaginative and smart.  It's certainly worthy of a Best Picture Oscar and timely as hell in depicting our corrupt economic system that the government isn't interested in fixing.  This film fuels Bernie's campaign.  Bernie has my heart, but my head is still with Hillary.  I wish she were better.  I wish she weren't so much like Tracy Flick.  I'm glad Bernie's doing so well, but in the general election, a Democrat must win.  A Hillary/Bernie ticket wouldn't be so bad, would it?

Day 1121

Monday, February 8, 2016

Sluggish day, worked, read a little and that was about it.

Day 1120

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Had lots of fun on Super Bowl Sunday, watching a boring game but ate lots of great food!  Sophie was the big winner this year!  Cleaned all morning and cleaned again all evening.  To bed by 10.

Day 1119

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Cleaning, shopping, meeting with Margaret re our Lakeshore Film Group.  Lisa took a pass on talking about The Revenant because the film traumatized her too badly. It's fun talking about this movie.  Also talked with mom about the Revenant, who agreed it was hard to watch but acknowledged it was a cinematic masterpiece.

Alejandro won the DGA Award for Best Director, now two years in-a-row, a first.  The Revenant may actually win Best Director and Best Picture again.  What an achievement!

Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu at DGA Awards (Chris Pizzello)

Day 1118

Friday, February 5, 2016

Racquetball, work, shopping for Super Bowl 50, not much writing today.

Day 1117

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Work, writing ch. 10, which is turning out to be a very difficult chapter.  I'm changing things, changing things again, and not getting things right yet.  Frustrating.

Day 1116

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Racquetball, work on ch. 10, reading up on how they made The Revenant.  Today went by quickly.

Day 1115

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

When I think of film experiences, a few films always come to mind:  Night of the Shooting Stars, The Apartment, Braveheart, A Thousand Clowns, The Last Temptation of Christ, Cabaret, The Godfather, Whale Rider, Wings of Desire, The Piano, The Wicker Man, Citizen Kane, All About Eve, Repulsion, Toy Story 1-3, Hannah and Her Sisters, Alien, Network, Casablanca, It's a Wonderful Life, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, The Silence of the Lambs, Goodfellas, The Lives of Others...

Add this to the list:

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu may be the best filmmaker on the planet right now.  This film is a cinematic masterpiece.  I'm stunned at how good it is, how visually real everything feels and how extraordinary the entire experience is to watch (and listen!).  I've never been a big Leonardo DiCaprio fan, but this is his finest film by a ways and he's certain to win his Oscar this year.  And I wouldn't be surprised if Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu wins Oscars for Best Film and Best Director for the second year in-a-row, an achievement unprecedented in film history.  The film is so magnificent and exceptional that I don't see any other film beating it.  This is the film experience of the year.  Everything is at such a high level, from the acting to cinematography to music to editing.  The whole package is mesmerizing.  I'm in awe of this filmmaker.  Birdman was my favorite film last year and though I haven't seen all the contenders yet, I wouldn't be surprised if The Revenant ends up being my top film for 2015.  This is why I love stories.  This is why I spend so much time trying to get the details right.  Here's a simple story about the futility of revenge, and yet it's so epic, so real, so exact, so emotionally honest and relentlessly in our face.  The bear sequence is something for the ages.  The opening Indian attack is unbelievably real.  The chase and drop from the cliff into the trees is unforgettable.  There isn't a false note in the entire film, except perhaps in the CGI buffalo sequence, which isn't as visually real as might have been (that's the only moment that stuck out for me).   The music is rivoting.  The acting is top shelf.  The cinematography is gorgeous.  The story is simple and solid.  The entire experience is operatic and brilliantly realized.  This is what it's all about.  This is why I love films so much.

Day 1114

Monday, February 1, 2016

And the winner is...

She will win in November.  After tonight, the race for president is down to five candidates:  Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio.

Hillary is the only main-stream establishment candidate left in the race.  Unless America decides to go extreme (which it won't), all she has to do is stay out of trouble, keep being reasonably aggressive and intelligent, show up, call out the nonsense, continue to play out a strong campaign with an optimistic message and pro-everyone agenda, and she will become the next United States president.  Don't get me wrong, I love Bernie, but he's no Obama and he might not compete as well as he needs to against any of the GOP candidates.  Were he somehow, by sheer miracle, to win the nomination, one interesting aspect would be the all-out extreme decision Americans would have regarding the direction of the country (two diametrically opposed directions I might add).  After New Hampshire, Bernie's momentum will fade and it should Hillary is the stronger candidate.  I am not happy with many of her positions, but she is pragmatic, strong, and knows how the game is played.  She is the GOP's worst nightmare, no matter what the GOP says.

Of the three GOP candidates remaining, all of them are seriously flawed.  I don't see the country embracing any of them, though the media will pretend it will be the closest election in American history.  I doubt it.  The GOP has not at all learned the lessons of eight and four years ago.  They continue to double down on social policies that are stuck in another century.  The party is in serious free fall.  Their only real hope is that the democrats choose Bernie Sanders as their nominee, which they won't. 

It's quite possible that Marco Rubio might pull it off as the new "establishment" candidate, even though he is a total disaster as a candidate, hitting way too few notes and sounding too strident and disingenuous 100% of the time.  I really cannot listen to this man more than a few minutes before wanting to change the channel.  Even Ted Cruz is easier to listen to, and that's saying something.  Ted Cruz reminds me of the examples used in Barbara Oakley's non-fiction novel Evil Genes when describing the attributes of a Machiavellian personality type.  This is who Ted Cruz is, a very dangerous troublemaker who gets along with no one yet somehow manages to attract enough followers to stay in the race.  He is the most dangerous national politician to have come along in years.  But he's so extreme that I just don't see the country being so duped. 

Then there's Donald Trump, the man who has thrown this election so completely out of whack.  He took a hit in Iowa tonight, but it might just be a momentary speed bump before his brand and wacky stage presence blows the other two out of the water.  He is extremely limited as a legitimate candidate, but it's possible, given the huge weaknesses of the two candidates he's running against, that The Donald might just pull out in front and stay there for the duration of the primaries.  Of the three GOP candidates remaining, I hope Donald Trump pulls it out (and that's saying a lot about the other two thoroughly reprehensible candidates). 

As of tonight, this election is Hillary's to lose.