Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday Blues

About this time of year, I feel over loaded. Don’t you?
Instead of joy and holiday fun, I have cooking anxiety—what’ll I cook? Will it come out all right? Does my stove work? Will anyone want to eat it?
And oh Lord, there’s the shopping anxiety. Did I forget someone? Will everyone like what I get them? (Oops everyone and them is not grammatical. But will everyone like what I get him—that sounds terrible. Her—worse.) More holiday pressure to do it right! More pressure to be perfect. Even writing about the holidays trips me up.
Before anxiety overcomes me I channel Sissy LeBlanc. What would Sissy say: “When attacked by the holiday blues, a smart girl takes a glass of wine into a soothing bath and lets the rest of the world fend for themselves. It will help them appreciate her.” Rule number 106 The Southern Belle’s Handbook. (You won't find this rule in the book. Sissy just made it up.)
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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Hollywood Holiday Parties

When I lived in Louisiana I dreamed of going to parties in Hollywood.

I've attended some of the big glam parties where actors stood in front of logos to get their photos taken. Fun? Yes. Exciting? Sure.

But here's the secret: after getting their pictures taken many of the celebs leave, or are so busy getting their photos taken before dinner they weren't really available for you to talk to. This can be a bummer if it's a charity fund raiser and you've paid a lot to hobnob with them. I have to admit the V.I.P. room is no more at the Women In Film Crystal Awards so everyone mills around together.

But I thought you might want to get a glimpse of the real parties for those of us working here. The first photo shows my husband, Carl Eastlake, and me at the Writer's Guild of America party. He's a member of the Board of Directors. I'm very proud of him. The second photo is just to give you a sense of the party. No one is very dressed up or should I say they're wearing Hollywood metro-chic.  More soon.
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Southern Belle Sounds Off: Books: Made in America

The Southern Belle Sounds Off: Books: Made in America

Books: Made in America

This evening ABC News announced if everybody in America bought just $67 worth of holiday gifts made in America it would create thousands (I don't remember the exact number) of jobs. Then they stopped people on the street and asked if their purchase was made in America, few were.

But the answer is simple. Buy books. The books on these shelves were written (or translated) edited and published in America. And they make great holiday presents.
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Monday, October 24, 2011

The Food Lover's Guide To Wine

Last summer I took my son to a spectacular seafood restaurant in London where we had a giant platter of seafood--oysters, crab, shrimp, mussels. You get the picture.  The sommelier suggested a Muscadet.  It was an unforgettable meal with the perfect wine pairing.

So the last afternoon before flying home to Los Angeles I took my son, his wife, and my cousin to a different restaurant where we also ordered giant seafood platters.  Unfortunately, this time the Southern Belle ordered a bottle of Muscat.  Yuck!  A very expensive yuck

If only I had read THE FOOD LOVER'S GUIDE TO WINE by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg I would have known, Muscadet crisp, dry and great with seafood is quite different from Muscat a dessert wine, which while it's delicious with chocolate, is dreadful with oysters.

But THE FOOD LOVER'S GUIDE TO WINE is more than a listing of wines.  I've learned the secrets of sommeliers, tips from great chefs, the role of wine in a meal, how to compose a menu, and so much more.  Best of all, THE FOOD LOVER'S GUIDE TO WINE is going to make this year's holiday gift giving so very, very easy.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fix Congress, Fix America

This email quoting Warren Buffett has been going around, but instead of sending it to 20 people I thought I would post it. Enjoy:

Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the
best quotes about the debt ceiling:

"I could end the deficit in 5 minutes," he told CNBC. "You just pass a
law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP,
all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election. The
26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only
3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it.
That was in 1971...before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc. Of the
27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to
become the law of the land...all because of public pressure.

Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a
minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of
those to do likewise. In three days, most people in The United States
of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should
be passed around.

*Congressional Reform Act of 2011*

1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in
office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.
All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social
Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social
Security system, and Congress participates with the American people.
It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all
Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional
pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in
the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the
American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective
1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with
Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.
Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers
envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s),
then go home and back to work.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only
take three days for most people (in the U.S. ) to receive the message.
Maybe it is time.

THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS!!!!! If you agree with the above, pass it
on. If not, just delete. You are one of my 20. Please keep it going.

Monday, August 29, 2011


"Watch out for men who are on speaking terms with the Almighty." Rule 34 in the SOUTHERN BELLE'S HANDBOOK.

And now that Michelle Bachman is blaming natural phenomena on people who disagree with her politics, I'd say we'd better watch out for women, too.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Lots of Laughs in London

Just got back from Europe. My first stop was the Soho Comedy Club, the friendliest, hippest, most intelligent comedy club in London.

In the top photo Kate Smurthwaite one of the best MCs on the comedy circuit is introducing the acts. They call MCs compairs (compeer compare--I have no idea how they spell it. It's a British thing.) Anyway, she's a genius in warming up the crowd, because the relationship between the audience and the stand-up comic is key. Kate makes it easy for everyone to have a good time. In the second photo is David Mulholland, stand-up extraordinaire. David was a military-econimics journalist before giving it up to do stand-up. So he's smart and funny. He also runs the club.

Okay, full disclosure. I'm related to David and Kate's his wife. But I'm also a tough judge of talent. And I wouldn't be writing this if I was proud of them both.
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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Put a Poem In your Pocket

The wonderful writers on SheWrites have a great suggestion--put a poem in your pocket and carry it around with you today. Click on this link and be sure to read the beautiful and moving poem by Borges entitled INSTANTS. It begins, "If I could live again my life..."

I would reprint it here, but I don't have the rights and literary rights are important to me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Actress-writer Deborah Pratt and I have signed on to teach a 5 week creative writing workshop for high school students in Pacoima, CA.

The kids are all good looking and brave. And they each have more responsibility than any teenager should. Some are caring for sick parents. Others have little children of their own. We see them shoulder their responsibilities with courage and grace. Each has a story to tell. It’s our job to help them tell it.

We meet every Tuesday in Pacoima, CA with their independent-studies teacher Barrie Becker and a caring social worker from El Nido Family Centers, one of California’s leading non-profit agencies, dedicated to helping kids flourish and achieve their goals.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Women's Day and Beyond

I received an email from actress Leslie Easterbrook whom I’ve recently met and whom you’ve undoubtedly seen in films, TV, or on Broadway.

In keeping with the injunction—don’t hide your light under a bushel, I’m publishing it here:

Just finished Belle and I can't stop thinking about her. My eye has taken a few nasty turns, so reading a book overnight was not without sacrifice -- but, I couldn't put it down. I know she's a fictional character, but without real women like her, we would still be living in the dark ages -- and dying in back rooms. As I write this, I'm listening to Ed Schutz, in WI on MSNBC, and realizing that keeping our rights, not only as women, is a constant battle… Unless we continually stay on target, the great real feminists, like fictional Belle, who stood up to abuse, discrimination and prejudice in the past, will have suffered in vain. You can tell I'm psyched...

Ps I don't have a favorite, but Bad Belle was more...enlightening.

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Monday, March 07, 2011

Snow Among the Palm Trees

We live in the hills above Beverly Hills.

Today, my roses are starting to bloom. But the weather has been so weird, that a week ago we had snow among the palms. Here are some actual photos taken with my husband's phone.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

What Girls Really Want

Filmmakers, advertisers, publishers, and music producers are obsessed with the "youth market" and especially by that very special demographic teenage girls. What do they want? How do they think? What's going on in those beautiful heads?

You can find out in the new book, BEYOND WORDS the creative voices of more than 150 teen girls and the professional women who mentor them. They share their stories about family, friendship, love, loss, music and so much more. You'll find poignant poems, break-up lyrics, and an essay on discovering meaning in a shag carpet. The book concludes with a full chapter of writing activities and advice for aspiring writers of any level.

BEYOND WORDS is the Winner, London Book Festival, Anthologies and National Best Book Awards, USA BookNews, Poetry Anthology. It's published by WriteGirl a non-profit organization for high school girls, centered on creative writing and empowerment through self-expression. To find out more simply click on:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hateful Speech

"Sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me." went the nursery rhyme of my youth. Reeling from the tragedy in Arizona we know, of course, that names can and do hurt. They can also inspire people to unspeakable acts. And those snarky, disparaging, mean-girl words whether voiced by the mean girl herself or her coterie of parrots who are now crying tyranny at the suggestion that their words could have inspired any action are being heard around the world.

Today, I received this quotation from a German friend. I especially like: "
Words can be like tiny doses of arsenic: they are swallowed unnoticed, appear to have no effect, and then after a little time the toxic reaction sets in after all."

Victor Klemperer on Nazi propaganda:

How "the language of a clique became the language of a people"

"No, the most powerful influence was exerted neither by individual speeches nor by articles or flyers, posters or flags; it was not achieved by things which one had to absorb by conscious thought or conscious emotions.
Instead Nazism permeated the flesh and blood of the people through single words, idioms and sentence structures which were imposed on them in a million repetitions and taken on board mechanically and unconsciously. . . language does not simply write and think for me, it also increasingly dictates my feelings and governs my entire spiritual being the more unquestioningly and unconsciously I abandon myself to it.
And what happens if the cultivated language is made up of poisonous elements or has been made the bearer of poisons? Words can be like tiny doses of arsenic: they are swallowed unnoticed, appear to have no effect, and then after a little time the toxic reaction sets in after all.
The Third Reich coined only a very small number of the words in its language, perhaps - indeed probably - none at all. . . But it changes the value of words and the frequency of their occurrence, it makes common property out of what was previously the preserve of an individual or a tiny group, it commandeers for the party that which was previously common property and in the process steeps words and groups of words and sentence structures with its poison.

Victor Klemperer, The Language of the Third Reich: A Philologist's Notebook, trans. Martin Brady, London: Continuum, 2002, pp. 15–16