John August is my Hero

Screenwriter John August pleads with writers to take a vow to stop having characters crawl around in air vents.  Why? Because it’s stupid, lazy, unrealistic… AND STUPID.  I’ve even seen people in movies crawl through the airvents in a house.  So I applaud John for waging war against this inane cliche:

Here’s what I’m proposing:  The Screenwriter’s Vow of Air Vent Chastity.

I, John August, hereby swear that I shall never place a
character inside an air duct, ventilation shaft, or any other euphemism
for a building system designed to move air around.

One day, I’d love to win an Oscar. An Emmy. A Tony Award. But if all
I accomplished in my screenwriting life were reducing the number of
times characters climbed through air vents, I’d consider my work

Law & Order In Jeopardy

Fox News is reporting that LAW AND ORDER could be facing the ax…and that there are big shake-ups happening on both sides of the camera. For one thing, Annie Parisse has abruptly quit as the A.D.A. and, according to Fox, Dick Wolf is having trouble recasting when word-on-the-street is that the show maynot be coming back. They also report that S. Epatha Mekerson walked off of a "crossover" episode with L&O:CRIMINAL INTENT in a dispute over how her character was being written.

There’s a significant morale problem, too. Sources say that there
have been "a lot" of firings, including a portion of the camera crew.

"None of the original writer-producers are there anymore," a source
said. "They’ve all been replaced by people from L.A. who don’t get the

[…] If "Law & Order" does get cancelled, or renewed just long enough
to do a finale season, it won’t be a tremendous surprise. Sixteen
years, after all, is twice the length of the run of a regular hit show.
Still, insiders blame the constant reruns on TNT for over-saturating
the brand.

"Even they’re cutting back now," a source said.

NBC declined comment except to say: "It is the producers’ desire to
keep the season finale of ‘Law and Order’ under wraps because of some
surprising developments."

UPDATE 4-28-06: NBC renewed all three LAW & ORDER series today. The jury is still out on CONVICTION.

Dumb Questions and Great Sex

My brother Tod beat me to posting about some of the dumb questions I got asked at the Palm Springs Book Festival (though I got lots of great questions, too). Here’s one of them (though you’ll notice that Tod remembers it slightly different than I do):

Woman: Did you have to take acting classes to learn how to write dialog?

Me: No, but I’ve also never been a werewolf, a lifeguard, a psychic FBI agent, a 70-year0ld doctor who solves crimes, or the Captain of a submarine in the year 2032. I make stuff up. The dialog comes from the characters. I don’t need to be an actor to know how people talk. I just have to observe and listen.

Woman: Is there a class you can take for that?

The night before the Festival there was a reception for the authors. Only authors were attending (and their spouses, significant others and, in my case, my mother). But there are always one or two clueless idiots at these kind of events who use this as a selling opportunity. A lady came up to me and thrust her apparently self-published book in my face.

Woman:  I’m the author of GREAT SEX AFTER SIXTY. You should read this book.

Me: Do I look sixty to you?

Woman: Well, you will be, won’t you?

Me:  No, I’m planning on using plastic surgery and drugs to remain 44 forever.

Woman: But you’ll still physically be sixty even if you look 44 and you’ll want to have great sex.

Me: There will be a pill for that, too.

Woman: There might not be.

Me: I’ll take my chances.

I couldn’t believe she was still arguing with me. But I was saved by my Mom, who started laughing.

Mom: He’s my son and he looks sixty to you? My God, how old do I look?

At which point the clueless idiot thrust her God-awful book in my Mom’s face and asked her how her sex was… and I dashed across the room to talk to Gregg Hurwitz. Am I good son or what?


Today the LA Times published the program for next weekend’s big
Festival of Books. Borders took out an ad listing all the authors, including me, who’d be signing at their booth and it gave me a 158180770801_sclzzzzzzz__2
goosebumps. It wasn’t seeing my name in the newspaper that gave me thrill — it was the company I was keeping in print. Why?  Because my brother and sisters and I are  going be signing our books at the Borders booth together. That’s right, all four of us — Karen Dinino, Linda Woods, and Tod Goldberg — have  new books out at the same time. How cool is that? If you could have told me when I was a kid that this was going to happen, I never would have believed it. All of us published authors? All of us signing our books together? Wow. I knew the event was coming, of course, but somehow seeing the ad made it real.  I’m so proud of them, you’d think they were my kids instead of my younger siblings.

Lesbians Are Deadly

On my drive back from Palm Springs, I was scanning the radiowaves for NPR, Prairie Home Companion, This American Life, or some other liberal-leaning entertainment. What I stumbled on was a program on a conservative Christian radio station (KJoy92?) discussing Marlin Maddoux’s book "Public Education Against America." It was the funniest — and scariest — thing I’ve heard in ages.

One of the most amazing charges the guest made was that parents should be against homosexuality even being mentioned in schools…since homosexuality is deadlier than cigarettes. Yes, that’s what he said, the gay and lesbian lifestyle is deadlier than cancer (and he made a point of saying it wasn’t because of AIDS). According to the guest, and presumably the book, homosexuals have significantly shorter life spans than lifetime smokers (most gays and lesbians die before they are 50, the guest asserted). So the argument the hosts and guest on the show were making was that it’s hypocrisy to tell our kids that smoking is wrong, that it will kill you, when being gay is much, much deadlier.

The hosts (a married couple) and the guest also claimed that studies irrefutably show that "humanistic education" and tolerance of homosexuality inevitably leads to Marxism. I almost had an accident looking for a pen in my car so I could write down the name of the show and some of their outrageous claims…but I couldn’t find one. But I was able to remember the name of the website selling the book. I’m still looking for an article that quotes some of the "facts" from this book so I can post them here.

I’ll say this, though, it was a very entertaining show…so over-the-top it was almost satire.

UPDATE: I found this nugget on a list of  anti-Gay "talking points" from Kerby Anderson, the new host of Maddoux’s radio show "Point of View," and who may have been the guy I heard on the radio yesterday:

4. Public health: Homosexual sex is dangerous and
destructive to the human body. The International Journal of
Epidemiology reports that the life expectancy at age 20 for gay and
bisexual men is 8 to 10 years less than for all men. If the same
pattern of mortality were to continue, researchers estimate that nearly
half of gay and bisexual men currently 20 years of age will not reach
their 65th birthday.

Palm Springs Book Fest

It was a beautiful day for a Book Festival in Palm Springs today. Although the turn-out for the mystery & suspense panels was light for everybody, and I sold maybe two books, I had a terrific time anyway, hanging out with authors Doug Lyle, Theresa Schwegel, Loraine Despres, Kirk Russell, Thom Racina, JJ & Bette Lamb, Taffy Cannon, Eric Shaw Quinn, Barbara Seranella, Nichelle Tramble, Christopher Rice, Gregg Hurwitz, Bill Fitzhugh, and my brother Tod. I even managed to peek in on Chris Rice’s hilarious and informative interview with his mother Anne Rice, which was The Big Event of the Fest and was, predictably, standing-room only. The only downside was the hellacious traffic on the way back to L.A.

My God, reading this post, I feel like I’m channeling one of my Mom’s typical Desert Sun society columns from the 80s and 90s…

My Fan Club President is Impeached

UPDATE 4-22-2006:  James Kosub appears to have come to his senses and deleted the ridiculous accusations against me that he posted on his blog, so I’ve deleted the post that formerly occupied this space (the comments, however, remain).

Schmoozing in the Desert

P1010180_1 Tonight I went to the author’s reception for the Palm SpringsP1010178  Book Festival, where I will be appearing in front of all my adoring fans (my Mom, a vagrant, my brother Tod). I had a great time catching up with old friends like Carleton Eastlake, Loraine Despres, Christopher Rice, and Gregg Hurwitz (and his lovely wife). And I made some new friends, like Eric Shaw Quinn and retired SEALS Charles O’Connor and Ross Hengebrauch. My daughter Maddie absolutely loves QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY, so when I spotted Ted Allen, I had to have my picture taken with him. Maddie was blown away. Meanwhile my Mom, Jan Curran, got up close and personal with Tab Hunter. And I’ve got the photos to prove it. P1010179 (First photo is me with Ted Allen, the second photo is my Mom with Tab Hunter, and the third photo is me with Gregg Hurwitz, Eric Shaw Quinn, and Christopher Rice).