Womens Work


LA County Fair 2009

Originally uploaded by totarocat

Jen here…

A neighbor of mine, who grew up on a farm in Arkansas, was slightly horrified that we hadn’t taken the kids to the LA County Fair. She came by last week with an offer we couldn’t refuse: $1.00 entrance fee this weekend. The kids had a great time and saw the obligatory cow, ate very expensive hot dogs and ran around in the hay. My husband and I could have spent hours in the pavilion of Womens Work (that’s what I’m calling it). It was a huge room filled with glass cases of prize winners in baking, sewing, quilting, table setting, christmas tree decorating and so many other things. I enjoy the crafty part of running a household and it’s fun to see others enjoy it too. I also cannot see something like this without thinking of Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party.

I’m not discriminating in my craft-love: high minded conceptual art, cookie contest, whatever.  It’s all interesting to me.

Steve Martin, if you’re reading this, call me!

Amy here.

A few months ago, my friend Bill (another writer) was hired to come up with ten viral video concepts for the film “It’s Complicated.” The plan was for the stars of the movie to film a video as a promotional piece, to be shown on the Funny or Die website. The concepts didn’t really have to have anything to do with the film. They just had to be funny ideas that featured the stars of the movie, and that could be done on a shoestring budget.

Bill immediately called me to help him brainstorm and write. I was not only flattered, but thrilled. Because have I mentioned that the stars of the movie are Alec Baldwin, Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, John Krasinski, and Hunter Parish? In other words, we’d be writing ideas to star those Stars. Bill asked Jaye (the exec at the production company who hired us) if we could possibly write the concept if it was picked. Jaye responded with a casual, “Eh, Martin will probably want to write it himself.” Meaning…Steve Martin might actually write something based on my idea! And even if he hated it, he’d read it! Steve Martin’s brain would touch something my brain touched!

Bill and I got together for two full weekend days and brainstormed and wrote and brainstormed some more. We finally came up with what were, in our humble opinions, ten stellar ideas. We showed them to friends, friends thought they were hilarious. We showed them to friends of friends, more hilarity ensued.

On Monday, we sent them to Jaye. And we got an email back a few days later informing us that Jaye had actually asked several writers to come up with concepts. He told us that ours were the most “on the mark.” And they were also “pretty f’in hilarious,” a sentiment that was echoed by Jaye’s boss, an even higher up exec.

Needless to say, Bill and I were plenty excited. Could we really have just come up with an idea that would star Steve and Meryl and Alec and John and Hunter? (At this point we were very comfortable calling them by their first names.) We waited. And waited. And waited and waited and waited.

Finally we heard from Jaye again. He said that they had asked more writers to come up with even more concepts. And the budget probably wouldn’t even allow them to do the video anyway, so thanks and goodbye. The end.

That experience, in a nutshell, is why I stopped screenwriting. It’s more than a roller coaster ride, it’s one that brings you up, shoots you down, then throws some pickles at you while dancing the hora. In other words, it just doesn’t make sense. There’s no logic to it whatsoever. I can’t see a ladder or steps or a logical journey to a goal no matter how much I zoom out. I understand that the field is extremely competitive; I know that the money, politics, and egos involved can make any project go haywire at anytime. But as the lowly aspiring writer, I just can’t fight my way through the maze anymore. I can’t find my way out. Call the helicopter and pick me up.

I’ve gone back to fiction writing and it really feels better to me. Yes, I know it’s another highly competitive field, paved with half-finished novels and broken hearts. But at least I see a logical progression to it. It may take me years to get from one rung to the next one up, but at least it feels like climbing a ladder and not struggling in a swimming pool full of jello.

Maybe I’m fooling myself, and getting a story published will be just as nonsensical and impossible as selling a screenplay. But I really don’t think so. And I’m going to allow myself to believe that for as long as I need to.

The Anyone-Can-Do-This Bread Recipe

Jen here…

I know that all is really takes to be a good home cook is to pay attention to what you’re cooking. Some day I may do just that but not while I work, have a house to maintain and watch two young children. I’ll let someone else be the supermom while I pour a cup of coffee and troll the internet for yummy recipes that can de done in 20 minutes or in steps that aren’t longer than that. Including clean up AND OH MY GOD HAVE I FOUND A GOOD ONE! Mark Bittman is one of my favorite food writers and a few years ago wrote about No Knead Bread and here is the recipe. This was published in 2006, it’s hugely popular and you can now find cookbooks dedicated to this kind of baking. The reason I love it: it’s delicious and can is broken up into seven under 15 minutes steps (mix, form, put back in bowl, put in hot pot, take top of pot off, remove from oven, remove from pot) and two long steps where you don’t do anything AND unlike most baking the time of these steps doesn’t need to be exact. I made three loaves this week, finding all sorts of tips on how to improve my baking. It’s super fun, like a craft project and I can actually do it. Nice.

These photos are of the third loaf I made. When I saw it I was transported back to Arthur Ave. in the Bronx , buying “pizza” bread and lots of other good stuff with my Italian grandma. She 97 and not going anywhere soon but that’s another story.

The Obligatory Cupcake Post

Jerilyn here.

I am succumbing to blog-pressure and writing about cupcakes. I thought it would be a cute and delicious read, but quickly realized about a bajillion other blog posts exist about cupcake baking incidents. Well, to hell with the other bajillion – I have a brand spankin’ new AGA oven in my kitchen and a brand new package of White Lily flour in my cupboard, so here goes. Since I had limited time and wanted to bake before it got hot and sweltering (September in Los Angeles is not crisp and cool fall weather), I chose a basic recipe for chocolate and zucchini cupcakes and a chocolate frosting from ‘Rebar:Modern Food Cookbook’. imagesHowever, the results were so terrible – burnt on the edges, soggy in the middle that I am completely humilated by my baking skills and will not be posting photos of my failed attempt. I blame it on my oven. And maybe the recipe? And the zucchini. So I’m going out to the grocery store now to buy some ‘normal’ cupcakes. Like they say, ‘fake it ’til you make it’ or in my case ‘fake it ’til you bake it.’ Oy vey.

Cute and delectable cupcakes are precious, but are they worth the trouble? I need a good cupcake recipe before I venture down this sugary path again.

Why Diana Krall Totally Bugs Me

Jerilyn here. I want to share something with you. Diana Krall totally bugs me. It started around the time she was in those pretentious Lexus ads, listening to Oscar Peterson and rhapsodizing about how she always knew she wanted to be a jazz musician. She just bugs me! I do appreciate a successful women in a male-dominated field (hey, I work in animation) so I give her credit for being a high-achiever. And she strongly resembles a babysitter I had who sat on me until I couldn’t breathe, so there’s that. I confess that I have not listened to her music because I am not a fan of the female jazz vocal. In fact, I like it even less than jazz guitar. And I hate that shit.

    images

  • True, the Female Jazz Vocalists are a rare bird, and this bird happens to be thin, white and gorgeous.

    Funny how marketing works that way, huh?

  • Then, I realized she was married to Elvis Costello. Yeah he’s got bad teeth and probably is out on tour 95% of the time, but still, he’s pretty great.
  • Then she said the best part of being married to Elvis is that ‘”I get better service at the shoe department at Barneys when I’m with him…”

    Oh. Yes. She. Said. That.

  • And then she birthed those damn cute twins. After the age of 40. Which is an amazing feat that I thought only super women like Holly Hunter and Molly Ringwald could do (Note to self: Read less People magazine).
  • She named the twins Dexter and Frank. And has a nanny to take care of them while she does her jazz vocalizing, shoe-shopping and Lexus listening.

OK. Maybe I should retitle this post ‘I’m totally jealous of Diana Krall’.

Hamburgers: A Confession

Amy here.

I’m just going to say it. I don’t like barbecuing. Here we are in the land where you can barbecue all year round and every time my husband says, “Let’s grill!” my heart sinks a little bit. First of all, the coals take so long to get ready (warm up? whiten? whatever you call it) that we invariably don’t eat until after 9 p.m. My husband and I have this argument every time; he says “It’ll take 20 minutes,” and I’m like, yeah, if by 20 minutes you mean an hour and a half, because that’s how long it takes every time. For. Ev. Er.

Second, barbecuing is not “easier,” as my husband claims, waving his hand and saying, “Let’s just grill. I’ll do it. It’ll be easier.” No, it’s not easier. Because you still have to have a side dish. Or two. And if company’s coming over, multiply that by appetizers, salad, and dessert. What’s easier about that?

Third, hamburgers. Barbecued hamburgers always turn out to be small little meatballs. Or big meat hunks. Or thin crunchy discs. You know what? I have a recipe for hamburgers that I make on my grill pan and they’re delicious. It’s easier. And faster. And just plain better! I don’t want to barbecue and I don’t care who knows it!

Phew. It felt good to get that off my chest. But in the meantime, my husband bought this ridonkulous ginormous barbecue, so it looks like it’ll be crunchy discs at midnight for us for a while longer. Think of me when you eat at a decent hour.

Santa Ana winds

Hi, Jen here.
September in Los Angeles usually means Indian Summer (hot) and Santa Ana winds (dry and hot). Usually the wind comes from the west off the ocean but in September they come from the east, the desert, and I’ve always loved them. First, they’ve got a name (what other wind gets named?) and the sound they make at night, it’s not a whistle, it’s soothing. They also cause a lot of damage and fires
(hot dry winds at the end of a hot dry summer, not good) so you usually hear them mentioned in somber tones.
The Santa Ana’s also remind me of “White Oleander”, a great movie that came out a few years ago. It explains what they are like better than I can, and I love when a movie can do that.