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Monday, April 20, 2015

The Jet Set

Before I launch into a description of my recent vacation the matter of #pitchslam needs to be addressed.  No, my manuscript was not chosen to be showcased for the agents.  I had thought/hoped my piece might have an "edge" thanks to the Hollywood theme but that wasn't the case.  So, back to the drawing board.

I'm seriously considering taking a step back from the contest circuit.  This isn't so much of a "taking my ball and going home" but more of a regrouping.  I throw my hat into every ring that comes along and I think I'm getting a bit too overexposed at the moment.  A lot of these contests have the same judges and I can't help but wonder if they're getting tired of seeing me so much.

However, I am waffling on whether or not I should enter WFWA's Rising Star contest.  Even if I'm in a contest holding pattern the feedback available seems worth entering.

Something else I'm waffling on is the WFWA Retreat this coming September.  I just got back from vacation last week and with the horrendous winter we had I'm not sure how many days I have left.  I'll find out when I get my paycheck this coming Thursday.  So, that decision could be made soonish.

Now, as for my previously mentioned vacation.  I have friends and family in California and usually head out every few years.  This time I let five years pass between visits and I knew that had to be rectified.

I flew from Newark to LAX on Thursday, April 9.  Thankfully, I live along NJ Transit's Northeast Corridor Line so all I need to do is hop on the train to go to the airport.  My flight was at 1pm and I caught a 9:56am train to ensure I got there with plenty of time to go through security.

This was my first time flying Virgin and I definitely will be using them again if the opportunity arises.  I enjoyed the "mood lighting" and was able to sleep for the first half hour of the flight.  I had a direct flight so I took the opportunity to finish Deadly Forecast and start Fatal Fortune  by Victoria Laurie.

I landed in LA after 4pm PST and my friend Nicole met me at the airport.  We hotfooted our way over to the Pantages Theatre where our friend Mike works to try for Newsies lotto.  When we didn't win we decided to meet Mike at Fred 62 for dinner.  Afterward we headed over to Griffith Park to see the view of the city at night and some of the exhibits in the observatory.

My older brother lives in LA and even though I did not have plans with him for that evening I realized Griffth was very close to his apartment.  Even though he didn't respond to calls or texts I decided to just show up on his doorstep.  While looking for his apartment I missed a step down and fell very loudly right outside his window - twisting my ankle and bruising my knees.  Who puts a step down in front of apartments?  If you're not sure of the lay of the land and are looking at numbers on doors you're not going to see it.  Honestly, I'm surprised I didn't sprain or break my ankle - that's how hard I fell.  But, I could put weight on it so there was no concern (even though it still hurts a little more than a week later).  When I knocked on his door he was very surprised to see me.  He'd turned his phone off because he was writing.  I didn't stay long because he was in his pj's and Nicole couldn't find a place to park.  He'd asked if I'd knocked something over and was amused to hear the loud noise he'd heard was me.  Brothers - bah.

Nicole and I headed back to her place after that where I very soon fell victim to the time difference.  I simply could not keep my eyes open any longer and apparently Nicole had still been talking to me,  Oops.

The next day dawned early and we headed out to Knott's Berry Farm,  Even with my previous trips to California I still had no made a visit to the famous amusement park and I was able to check it off my list.  After spending the day riding coasters and playing Heads Up we headed over to the Attic Community Theatre to see the opening night of All My Sons.  I had never seen a production before but I knew what it was about.  The theatre was very small but it was a very good production with a group of every talented actors.  It's playing until April 26 if you're in the area.

Saturday started very early as Nicole, Mike, and I started the trek from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.  The closest I'd ever come to the Vegas strip was a layover and delay at the airport in 2007.  I could see the strip from the terminal but that was all.  It takes about four hours or so to drive from LA to LV and most of the trip is through the "Inner Empire" as Californians call it.  I'd never seen desrt before so this was very eye opening.  Endless stretches of nothing. Tumbling tumble weeds with the occasional gas station or diner.  I couldn't help but wonder how people could live like that.  With so much barren land all around.

On the California/Nevada border we stopped at Whiskey Pete's to gas up, stretch our legs, and see the infamous Bonnie & Clyde car.  Now, I'm sure a lot of my readers are familiar with this car and may have seen the movie with Warren Beatty, the TV movie with Emile Hirsh, or the Broadway musical that garnered Laura Osnes her first Tony nomination.  But, until you actually see the car it's hard to truly understand the carnage.  The shattered windshield, the bullet-ridden exterior and seats.  These men held nothing back after they laid in wait for the bank-robbing duo.

Las Vegas is only about another half hour from the border and it wasn't long before the famous skyline came into view.  We had reservations at the Luxor and I was very excited at the prospect of sleeping in a pyramid and using one of the crazy sideways elevators.

For those of you who have never been to Vegas let me share this simple tip - dress comfortably.   For starters - it's hot.  I'd only brought teeshirts and jeans on my trip and I was definitely wishing for some capris or shorts.  And, even though I was wearing comfortable sport socks and sneakers - I still got a water blister.  I couldn't understand how the young girls in their skyscraper heels managed it..

We had lunch at Carlos and Charlies at the Flamingo  before heading to the Flamingo's Bird Sancutary.  Flamingos are my favorite birds and I was very excited to see them at the hotel.  Such beautiful and graceful birds.

Later that evening we went to see Rock of Ages at The Venetian.  Joey Fatone was in the show as Dennis but the night we were there was one of the nights he was listed as being out.  That was a little disappointing but RoA is a really fun show so we didn't mind all that much.

On Sunday we had lunch at Bobby's Burger Palace before getting back on the road to Los Angeles.  Since we hit some pretty serious traffic the trip back took a lot longer.  Plus there's the fact that we had a tire blow out.  While it was annoying and very inconvenient we got very lucky.  The tire that blew was the passenger front and we were on a quiet road near homes when it happened.  And, it was not yet dark.  No need to worry about dodging traffic, not being able to see, or anything of the like.  Through the power of teamwork the three of us managed to get the tire changed and we got back on the road.  Thankfully, that was the end of our adventures for the day.

Our Monday started with getting a new tire for Nicole's car before having lunch and going up to the Hollywood sign.  Not long ago I shared an article about how the residents of Beachwood Canyon (the neighborhood where my main character lives) are battling the city about visitors to the sign.  People taking parking places from residents, trampling on yards and gardens, etc.

The sign is practically another character in my book so it was important to me to get up there without making a pest of myself.  This proved much easier said than done.  Lots of roads were marked closed and there seemed to be no way for us to get even close.  Finally, Nicole dropped me off at the foot of one of the hilly roads so I could continue on foot.

There were "NO TRESPASSING" signs all over the place but I wasn't sure if they applied to the road or just people's private property.  I just kept my camera tucked into my pocket as I made my way up the steep hill.  I could see glimpses of the sign behind houses or hills but I wasn't finding a spot where the whole sign was visible to me.


This was the best I could do but I'm pretty pleased with it.  I'd only ever seen the sign from a distance before so this was such a personal thrill for me.  Not just because of my manuscript but because of my lifelong love of Hollywood.

Another thrill was seeing a house that fit what I had in my head when writing the book.  I was so excited to see "Suzy's House".  It's perfect and I wish I had the $600K to buy it (if it were for sale).

I had dinner with my brother and his friend later that night at Pitfire Pizza and they were talking about the earthquake from Sunday night.  It's funny how they both felt it but I felt nothing.  One would think it would have been the opposite.

On Tuesday we had to be out of Nicole's place by 4:45am in order to get to LAX for my flight home.  Everything was going okay until we were speeding along the 5 and we heard that telltale sound of a flat tire.  Yes, again.  This time it was the front driver's side and now we were in the dark on a very busy highway.  Instead of doing it ourselves we called AAA.  We were close to an exit and with all those cars speeding buy we knew we'd be sitting ducks.  An AAA driver could get the job much faster than we ever could.  And, when he drove up he even commented that we were in a bad spot.  Yes, we know,  We planned it that way just to annoy him. 

Once that latest adventure was over the rest of the trip went smoothly.  No more mishaps or anything at all interesting.  I do have to say I was very pleased that LAX does not make you take off your shoes, your jacket, and you don't have to take anything out of your bag.  Security is a breeze.  Let's catch up, Newark.  

And now I'm back to "real life".  Back to working on Suzy in the hopes that someone, somewhere wants to represent her.  And back to work where I was able to get caught up on all my work in a day or two.  Phew.

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