November 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

I met this Turkey in Solvang, CA at an animal sanctuary.  He'd been raised to be eaten for Thanksgiving but, at the last minute, his old owners couldn't go through with it.

I met this Turkey in Solvang, CA at an animal sanctuary. He’d been raised to be eaten for Thanksgiving but, at the last minute, his old owners couldn’t go through with it.

Last week, after dropping my tearful toddler off at school (“I want to stay with you!”), our wonderful super came to fix our leaky faucet and, in the process, our faucet totally broke to the point of being unusable.  Minutes later, the phone rang – it was the parking garage where we keep our car letting me know that the garage had caught on fire(!) and they didn’t know when they’d be able to get the cars out.

This is the comedy version of what all of 2014 has been like for me and my family – one thing after another.  Unfortunately, it’s been more of a tragedy-sort-of-year with any number of more serious phone calls announcing far-less-fixable circumstances than a broken faucet and a temporarily trapped car.  Frankly, it’s been easy these days to count my losses.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I like that there is no gifting.  I love cranberry sauce.  And I like thinking about all the things for which I’m thankful.  Of course, there’s no reason to wait for Thanksgiving to be thankful – just like there’s no reason to wait for New Year’s to make a resolution – and, like New Year’s, an annual reminder certainly doesn’t hurt.

2014, with its innumerable challenges, has been a year-long exercise in gratitude for me.  Throughout the year – in moments of despair, as I felt my resilience flagging, when I was ready to come undone – it was gratitude that helped me get back on track.  Gratitude kept bringing me back to my strength; my ability to keep it together and soldier on.

And now, as we near the end of the year, I can finally report some good news for a change: my web series is moving forward! We wrote it, we revised it, it’s GREAT and filming starts next weekend.  This project fills me with joy and delight and replenishes the gratitude-well (which is not to say that it was running dry) and I am beyond grateful to the people who have chosen to support our indiegogo campaign.

My wonderful little boy went to school very happily yesterday.  The super patched together the faucet so that we can use it ’till he can come install the new one that I bought over the weekend.  The garage called to say that they’re going to clean the car for me.  There will be turkey from Whole Foods and cocktails and people I love in my home on Thursday.

I am so grateful.


5 Reasons Why You Should Give Me Your Money

November 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

So I’m making a web series.  It’s called Gemma & The Bear.

Gemma & The Bear - The Gist

Good friend and collaborator, Kevin R. Free and I have been working on the project for over a year and we’re just over a week away from the end of our Indiegogo campaign.

It’s tough to raise money for lots of reasons, chief among them that asking for money is hard for most people most of the time.  I’ve often heard that it’s easy to ask for money (or anything else) for someone else – a favorite organization, say – but so much harder to ask for yourself.  I agree, generally, but I am so passionate and excited about this project, that it’s making the asking quite a bit easier, which I think is one of the best indicators that our project is a) pretty wonderful and special; b) ready to come to life.

Here are FIVE reasons that you (yes, YOU) should invest in Gemma & The Bear:

1. You’ll enjoy watching my show.  (Not sure? Check out this highly informational page including adorable videos!)

2. You are (or aspire to be) a patron of the arts.  You love to consume creative content and so you support the creation and production of that content.

3. You care about a diversity of artistic voices; you value writers/creators from a variety of backgrounds and experiences – not just a bunch of white guys (as delightful as those guys are).

4. You want the world you watch (on TV, Film or, in this case, the internet) to reflect the world around you; you want to see casting that is diverse. (We’ve made a creative and a philosophical commitment to a cast as diverse as the city in which we live; race is just one type of diversity but, as an example, of our five principal cast members only two are white.)

5. You want to see something NEW.  We’ve all heard it: there are no new ideas, but some ideas are a lot less threadbare than others.  Have you ever seen a sit-com spin on Jekyll and Hyde?  Neither have we.

The world isn’t fair.  Maybe you’ve read some of the articles making the rounds about how in the arts rich kids are elbowing out those who are less well-off because money equals opportunity.  That’s old news, but that doesn’t mean we need to embrace the status quo.  You can vote with your feet (aka your dollars) by showing support for the kind of art you value – not just the art (cough cough reality TV cough cough) you’re given.

I think you make the world a better place by supporting the arts that move you . . .

. . . and c’mon . . . this video is really freaking adorable.

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What you’re doing this weekend

November 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

I was washing dishes and all of a sudden, I had the idea for the next thing I want to write.  I’m in the middle of working really hard on my web series so I’ve been making notes as the idea fleshes itself out without really giving it any kind of concerted push.  Anyway, while the new idea has been percolating independently, I keep finding myself coming back to the excellent film Safety Not Guaranteed which I watched streaming on Netflix.  Here’s the summary:

A team of journalists are dispatched to find out who’s behind a classified advertisement seeking a companion for time travel, with payment on return. After tracking down their oddball prey, the team has to decide how best to approach their subject.

Even before it related (structurally) to my new idea, I’d come back to this film with some frequency.  The performances are great and charming, the writing is really good and the film manages to do this magical thing where it really keeps you guessing right up ’till the end (which is the thing I want to figure out how to do for my new story) and, as I’ve mentioned it to friends, almost no one I know has seen it.  So: watch this movie!

Here’s the trailer. (WordPress won’t let me embed video, alas.  That link takes you to YouTube)

ALSO . . .

A few days ago, still thinking about Safety Not Guaranteed, this delightful list floated through my Facebook feed.  I was a bit chagrined not to see Safety Not Guaranteed on it, but also glad to have more great movies to check out.


My friend David’s very excellent movie Next Year Jerusalem is recently also available to watch on Netflix.  I wrote about his movie a while ago when it had its theatrical release and the thing I’d add, based on a recent conversation with him, is that the title seems to throw people off – they think it’s just for/about Jewish people/issues and that isn’t the case.  This is really a movie about the human condition and it is gently and beautifully done.  So check this one out too.


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“Devil Inside” or “A Bizarre Encounter”

November 5, 2014 § Leave a comment

The Pack

A strange thing happened the other day.

The kiddo and I were out taking the dogs for their afternoon walk.  The dog walk can be kind of a struggle because the dogs often disagree about which direction they want to go, when they want to stop or start – there’s a lot of wrangling.

We were making our way around the block when we encountered another dog-walker – a tall, gangly guy in his early 20’s with a disaffected youth/Dungeons & Dragons vibe.  I recognized him because he’d stopped me before to pat our bigger dog, Lucy.  People on the street love Lucy.  Anyway, he was walking two small dogs so our small dog and those dogs were sniffing each other and Lucy was semi-tolerating the pats of the young man and my son was announcing “I’m the Rolly Polly Bird!” because we’d just finished reading The Enormous Crocodile for the first time and, that’s how my kid rolls – lots of reading lots of pretending.

“Does he always say that?” asked the young man.

“Just today.  He’s the Rolly Polly bird,” I explained in case the guy hadn’t fully understood.  My son moved around Lucy to speak again to the man who was squatting down, giving Lucy his full attention.

“I’m the Rolly Polly Bird!”

“Get out of my face,” said the man with a weird clenched-teeth grimace-cum-smile.  Woah! I thought.  And without waiting for my son or I to react, the man put his finger on my son’s chest – my 28 pound, two-and-a-half year old’s chest – and pushed him saying “Back off . . .”

“We’re just going to say good-bye now” I chirped and I moved my son and dogs away as quickly as I could.

I felt like I’d just seen something really dark – something about this person that most people who walk past him or, say, serve him at the bagel store would never see.  I feel like I’ve got a secret about this guy.

When my mom was in the hospital/rehab/hospice I was acutely aware of how UNaware we all are of the interior lives of all of the other people we walk around with here in this big city.  At the time, I made extra efforts not to let my own stress/unhappiness negatively affect my citizenship.  During that time, I think I was a much more compassionate person as I encountered others; if someone was brusque or stand-offish, I thought about what might be going on with them to motivate that instead of just deciding they were a rude or obnoxious person.

I’d stopped thinking this way – about the mystery of my fellow (wo)man – so actively and so often, but the run-in with this guy brought it back to the front of my mind, but with this added twist: we don’t know what other people may be struggling with and that means compassion but also, maybe, keeping our guard up a bit.  You never know . . .

What do you think?  What’s your outlook as you make your way through your day?


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