Friday, December 19, 2008

Come For a Trot With Me

Every morning I try to go for a trot. I say trot very purposefully as it is faster than a walk yet I can't commit to calling it a run. It is a 1.5 mile loop, starting at the bridge on Lighthouse...
I then reach the dirt path around the canal...

I trot along here for a while, stopping, of course, to smell the roses.

I marvel at the homes in the area. If you look closely you can see the giant sculpture in front of this one...

This is the view from the other end of the Marina:

And then it's to the beach for the last 10 minutes. I'd be lying if I said I didn't check myself out in the mirrored windows...

And then on the way home I always see these fellows (dressed for the holidays in this picture)...'s the Blues Brothers. By now it's normal for me to pass them on my trot, but what the f? Why does someone have a sculpture of the Blues Brothers on their deck? 

After my half hour adventure I finally arrive home...

...heart rate up, sensory satisfied and grateful to live in such beautiful surroundings.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Malena Lott is the author of Dating da Vinci and a member of the Girlfriend Cyber Circuit. Here are my questions and her answers:

Melissa: Which came first, the title or the novel?

Malena: For Dating DaVinci the title came pretty quickly. I love alliteration and really wanted to incorporate da Vinci since he's the catalyst that starts Ramon's renaissance. Since publishers have final say, I didn't get too attached to my working title, though I do like getting credit for this one, though!

Melissa: What other art form inspires you as much as writing?

Malena: I love photography and music. You don't get a single moment again, so I love capturing things on film - still and video. And wouldn't life be so boring without music? I appreciate all types of music, even those that I don't listen to very often. What I was little I really, really wanted to be Crystal Gayle. Sing it with me now, "Don't it make my brown eyes bluuuuue." I think the world will manage just fine without that dream coming true.

Melissa: Which comes easier for you - beginnings or endings?

Malena: Endings for sure. Beginnings are tough because if you don't catch the reader right from the start, you'll lose them. So I find that I rewrite beginnings several times to make sure it's the best kick-off for the story.

Melissa: What are you reading right now?

Malena: I'm reading a couple of women's fiction ARC's and getting ready to start Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

Melissa: What's next for you?

Malena: Sleep. (it's 11 pm) Omelets, pancakes and bacon for the family in the morning. I'm in the throwes of marketing Dating da Vinci, including a radio tour next week. And writing-wise, I just hope to continually improve on my writing and tell great stories. 

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Feelin' Kinda Hosney

In eleventh grade I enrolled in a film class taught by a new teacher on campus, Jim Hosney. At the end of the semester, I emerged able to deconstruct Fellini, Bunuel, Resnais. Hosney approached teaching with a kind of passion I'd never seen before. He literally leapt in the air in enthusiasm when a student had a comment, an idea, or even a question. In his eyes, no subject matter was too mature for us, no term too sophisticated. He set the bar high and was euphoric when we rose to the occasion, which we did often, for him. 

Hosney retired from Crossroads this year, and on Saturday night over 350 former students, faculty and parents celebrated him at the Roxy in West Hollywood. He humbly got on stage to thank us for the honor, and then gave an eloquent speech acknowledging, among other things, that as much as he affected our lives, we affected his.
Former student Gillian Welch performed... did former student Jack Black

Former Hosney students Allison Weinrot, Liz Bliss, George Renan, Meredith Robinson and myself (and a scary bouncer in the background).
Hosney spent the night surrounded by well-wishers. 
I've had many teachers in my life, but none who have displayed the passion, charisma, intelligence and warmth of Jim Hosney.  I'm so grateful I was able to say 'thank you,' even if it was twenty-five years later.
I hope there is a teacher in your life who has given you a similar gift.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Fidelity Files

Meet Jessica Brody, author of The Fidelity Files! Jessica graduated from Smith College w/ degrees in economics and French. A full time writer and producer, she lives in Los Angeles where she is currently working on her next novel.

Melissa: Which came first, the title or the novel?

Jessica: For me, it was the novel. When I first sold the book to St. Martin's it was called Cheating Hearths (which I now cringe at!) but my editors thought it sounded too romance novelish so we brainstormed and came up with The Fidelity Files, which I immediately loved.

M: Tell us about your latest release.

J: The Fidelity Files is the story of a beautiful L.A. woman who works as an undercover 'fidelity inspector,' hired by suspicious wives and girlfriends to test the faithfulness of the men in their lives. Except no one in her life knows what she does. Her friends and family all think she works for an investment bank.

M: What other art form inspires you as much as writing?

Before I started writing full time, I actually dabbled a bit in songwriting. One of my songs even won a songwriting competition. But I soon realized that I could only write song lyrics after I'd had my heart totally stomped on and destroyed by some dumb, stupid boy. Apparently, that was the outlet for my pain. And so once I found myself in a good relationship. the song lyrics stopped coming. I have to say, though, I don't really miss them!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Is There a Doctor in the House?

Why yes! It's Erika! Best friend and medical consultant for "Swimming Upstream, Slowly." Erika was on the Today show this morning talking about fibroids.

Congratulations, Erika. You looked great up there. What's next? Consultant on House? 


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Book suggestion

I have recently joined a group of authors who support and publicize each other. I'd like to introduce you to Kelly Parra, author of Invisible Touch.  Below, please find our five-question interview. 

Melissa: Which came first, the title or the novel?

Kelly: Definitely the novel. Even after I turned the book in, we hadn't agreed on a title. Finally my editor's assistant was going to a Genesis concert and Invisible Touch was suggested. My agent, editor, and myself agreed it was a different and a good title!

M: What other art form inspires you as much as writing?

K: Music. I used to never write to music, but once I started putting together my own playlist, the different beats would set my mood.

M: Which comes easier for you - beginnings or endings?

K: Beginnings. My first few chapters seem to spill out of me, and once I hit middle I begin to stall, and slow down at the end when I have to tie everything together.

M: What are you reading right now?

K: Salvation in Death by J.D. Robb

M: What's next for you?

K: I'm currently writing a sci-fi young adult novel, and its been really challenging. I'm learning a lot with creating a new world. 

Monday, November 10, 2008

R.I.P Miriam Makeba

My heart breaks at the passing of Miriam Makeba. I was hooked on her from the moment I learned the Pata Pata for 6th grade graduation. During the late 80's I had the great pleasure of seeing her numerous times in concert with Paul Simon on his Graceland tour. Most recently I saw her at the Hollywood bowl with Jen and Katie. We danced the Pata Pata in the aisles and were mesmerized by her other extraordinary songs. She also has a wonderful autobiography called "Makeba" in which she chronicles her life and rise to fame in S. Africa, and then the catastrophe of apartheid. Do yourselves a favor and listen to her music and read her book. I'm sure she'd love it if you danced the Pata Pata in her memory. (apparently she died right after performing that song in concert in Italy)

Friday, November 7, 2008


The night before the elections I was listening to radio station KCRW when they played one of my favorite songs from my past. In 1990 I was living in London and obsessed with the group World Party (an offshoot of the equally brilliant The Waterboys) They had come out with a new album that year and were touring a lot in Europe. I went to as many shows as possible, obsessed with lead singer Karl Wallinger and his excellent songs. When I heard the song the other night I realized how appropriate the lyrics were to the election, especially if Obama won. I decided I would post them if we were lucky enough to vote in Barack Obama. 

So here they are:

And if you listen now
You might hear
A new sound coming in
As an old one disappears
See the world in just one grain of sand
You better take a closer look
Don't let it slip right through your hand
Won't you please hear the call
The world says

Put the message in the box
Put the box into the car
Drive the car around the world
Until you get heard

Now is the moment
Please understand
The road is wide open
To the heart of every man
A few simple words
So a mute could understand
He don't want tomorrow
If it's just crumbling into sand
Won't you please hear the call
She says

Put the message in the box 
Put the box into the car
Drive the car around the world
Until you get heard

The world says
Give a little bit
Give a little bit of your love to me
'cause I'm waiting right here with my open arms
She says give a little bit
Give a little bit of your soul to me
'cause I'm waiting to behold your many charms
Is that love in the air
She says

Put the message in the box
Put the box into the car
Drive the car around the world
Until you get heard

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pen Pals

I'm about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered, but I wanted to write to you first.
We just made history.
And I don't want you to forget how we did it.
You made history every single day during this campaign - every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends and neighbors about why you believe it's time for change.
I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent and passion to this campaign.
We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next.
But I want to be very clear about one thing...
All this happened because of you.
Thank you,

Dear Barack,
Thanks for the kudos, but all I did was make a few calls from the comforts of a gorgeous house on the Venice canals. You are the one who campaigned tirelessly, fought fear with hope, incited passion in the young and old. You woke an apathetic nation like a gentle but persistent alarm. We laughed and cried and hugged and most of all exhaled when you won last night. You reminded us that government should be of the people, for the people, by the people and we the people won't let you down. Let us know how we can be of service and I guarantee we will show up in droves and with pleasure, as we did during your campaign. We are so excited for your beautiful family to move into the White House and we can't wait to see you over the next four, hopefully eight, years.
Thank YOU,

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Thomas Promise

I awoke this morning feeling anxious and jittery, and decided to combine a walk to the Venice canals with some time doing last minute phone banking. They handed us the 434 area code: Virginia. I made my way upstairs to the room I've been calling from for the past month and dialed my first person: Thomas, an 86-year old.

"I want to get to the polls, but I don't know how I'm going to do that," he told me.

"Do you need a ride? I can arrange one for you," I said.

"No, I have a ride, but I just got out of the hospital. I have a walker but I can barely walk. I don't know how I'm going to wait in line."

"Here's what you're going to do," I said, calling upon some bossy part of myself. "You're going to go to the polls and have your driver talk to the person at the head of the line and explain your situation."

"Do you think they'll let me in?" he asked.

"Yes, but if not then you'll have your driver ask the next person. And the next. Someone's going to let you in. You have to promise me you'll do this," I said. "The world is watching your state right now. Do you promise, Thomas?"

"I do, Melissa," he said. "And I want to thank you for your enthusiasm."

I'll go back to the phone bank this afternoon after an election day lunch with some friends. I have enjoyed every minute of this process, and if Virginia swings Obama, I'll know Thomas kept his promise.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Filling in the Blanks

I spent the weekend, as I have every weekend for the past month or so, making phone calls to swing states. Friendliest people? New Mexico. Grumpiest? Florida. Upon hearing my spiel, someone in New Mexico said, "I've gotten three calls for Obama in the past ten minutes." I said, "I'm so sorry, we're just working really hard and sometimes there's overlap." He said, "Oh, that's okay. I can tell how hard you're working and I appreciate it." The same thing happened in Florida but there the woman took the time to berate, scream, yell and slam the phone down. 

I think it's safe to say we're all feeling a bit weary at this point. Call sheets have 20. 30. 40, 50 names and numbers per sheet and for someone who still grapples with phone phobia, it's a daunting task. The kind man who owns the house on the Venice canals must be a little tired of people, weekend after weekend, entering his home, finding an available space and staying for hours on end making calls. The people in swing states are obviously growing weary of constant calls urging them to vote.  And surely Barack Obama must be delirious at this point, traveling the country, promising hope and change to a war-weary, economically shattered, emotionally depleted America.

Tonight I went to my friend's house and after dinner we played Mad Libs with her 7-year old son. We filled in verbs, nouns, adjectives and body parts and read the silly stories out loud. To say I laughed is an understatement. I giggled, cackled, snorted and doubled-over in tear streaked hysteria. Sure, the stories were funny (remind me to tell you the one about Yellowstone National Dump), but I can't help but think this was a deeper release. It was expectation, fear, joy, anticipation and hope all in one. Plus a little exhaustion thrown in for good measure.

One more day.

The new President of the United States of America is _______________.

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Moment to Breathe - ahhh

Amidst the nationwide Presidential anxiety, I had the good fortune of spending a few hours in Malibu last weekend...

What's more distracting than an ocean full of surfers?

And more comforting than bare feet on wet sand?

As much as I'm loving this time in our History, I'm looking forward to breathing easy again, having the head space to finish my novel, catch up with friends, see a movie, take a yoga class.

Five days and counting...

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Heat is On

The other night my parents awoke at 1:30 to the frightening sound of a voice through a bullhorn ordering them to evacuate immediately. My mom sleeps with earplugs and missed the whole thing, but my dad got her up. They threw on clothes, hopped in the car and headed down their hill. 

An enormous fire was making its way up the mountain and they were ordered back up the hill to the TOP of the mountain to await further instructions. An hour later they set off to my sister's house, unsure if fire would consume their community.

I awoke at 7am to an email from my sister simply titled FIRE. She explained briefly what had happened and didn't want me to worry if I heard about it on the news.

My parents were allowed back at noon the next day where they found, to their alarm, that fire had made it all the way to their back porch - scorching plants and dumping ash and soot everywhere. Their actual house was spared, and ironically there was no furniture downstairs due to the FLOOD they had a month ago (another story). A fireman told them that they had to break into their house because someone thought they saw embers in their living room, so there was muck and mud from firemen's boots, but no fire.

Fire seems to erupt everywhere in October and it all seems so intangible until it creeps up to your parents' back porch. Last year Erika's family's Lake Arrowhead home burned to the ground. Today is just another 90 degree, high fire alert day in Los Angeles.

The political race is also heating up. I am trying to find my way back to Las Vegas next week. Until then, Liz and I are making calls to Nevada from a very cool house on the Venice canals. Sure we got the giggles once or twice last week, but what's an historic campaign without a few laughs?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Shout out to Mimi

I met my friend Mimi when I was 16. She'd moved from Montreal to L.A. for the year and our mutual friend Rachel suggested we get in touch. Mimi came over to my parents' house on a hot, sticky August day and we spent the afternoon in the pool staying cool. At one point I asked what time it was and Mimi made a sundial on the pavement with the pool water and stuck her pointer finger in the middle. "Three O'Clock" she said, reading the shadow. Mimi became a fast friend.

Twenty+ years later and we're still friends. Mimi now lives in Oxford, England but through the years we've managed to not only stay in touch, but to meet up in various cities including London, Paris, New York, Montreal, Toronto and most recently Las Vegas. We've gone years without seeing each other or being in touch, but when we meet up it's like no time has passed. 

Most recently, Mimi generously shared her hotel suite at the MGM Signature hotel. She was there for a conference and I was there for Obama. We didn't see each other during the days, but in the evenings we made dinner in the suite and caught up on life while gazing at the Vegas strip 32 floors below. We shared stories about our families, careers and travels. We laughed to tears exchanging guy stories. I returned to L.A. on Wednesday while Mimi set out to the Sequoias for a solo hiking adventure.

So Mimi, if you have wireless in the middle of the woods, THANK YOU for housing me earlier this week and for being the fabulous friend that you are. I hope everyone is lucky enough to have a Mimi in their lives, and if not. you'll just have to meet the real deal next time she's in L.A.


ps- I took her to karaoke for the first time and she did a KILLER version of 'La Vie En Rose'  Edith Piaf watch out!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Connections Clark to the Nth Degree

Okay, so I show up today and there's a guy named Bill who is gathering materials with which to go out canvassing. He looks awfully familliar to me, so I approach and ask if he's from LA. Yes.
'Where in LA do you live?'
'Near the Grove.'
I ask what he does for a living.
'Film business - what do you do?'
'I'm a writer, and I teach.' We talk about Otis for a while. 'I used to work in television,' I venture.
'Me, too. I was in development.'
'Oh,' I say. 'I probably had a meeting with you back in the day.'

'Maybe. I used to work at a company called Nelvana.'


They produced Braceface, my show. Turns out I HAD met Bill before. He took over for the guy who actually bought Braceface in 2000. We had a big hug and a good laugh. He temporarily moved here (to the Golden Nugget!) to work on the campaign.

I went out canvassing with him and one of the 20somethings named Rick. We walked through neighborhoods in Vegas rife with FORCLOSURE signs. We spoke to regular citizens. One woman came to the door and was very informed regarding politics. She had her own suggestions about the bailout, etc. In the middle of talking to us, her son came outside. 'Mom,' he said. 'WalMart won't pay for the accident.' He's an employee at WalMart and recently fell off a ladder on to his head. They have been fighting with the insurance company ever since.

When we walked away Bill said, 'That was straight out of a Michael Moore movie.' And he was right.

As we walked along with 20something Rick, Bill alluded to my teaching. Rick asked where I taught. I said an art college in L.A. 'I went to art school in L.A.,' he said. 'Otis College.'

Too crazy.

The election is 3 weeks from today. Momentum is building. Polls are highly in Obama's favor, if you believe those things. Change is merely a vote away.

Can you feel it?


ps - who is mystrz who commented on the last post?

Monday, October 13, 2008


Here's the story...there are so many fabulous, dedicated, intelligent, friendly, fantastic people volunteering for Obama that it makes one feel all gooey inside.

I arrived at the field office around 10am and stayed until 6. At first I did a lot of pamphlet sorting over by the front desk. This allowed me to eavesdrop on all the phone calls that came in from people wanting to volunteer, wanting to register, wanting to canvass, etc. I also met the stream of people who dropped by the office - for signs, to donate food, water, for stickers, pins, Obama literature. The head of the iron union (the iron used to build these gigantic hotels, not the kind used for getting rid of wrinkles in clothes) came in because he wants to inform all the union members about why they should vote for Obama. A grandma and grandpa came in with their 2-year old granddaughter who was saying 'Moe-Mama' as I took their picture in front of the life sized cut out of Barak Obama (he's tall!).

I later moved to the phone bank where I called registered Democrats to help canvass their neighborhoods this weekend and make sure their neighbors get out and vote. This was slightly disappointing b/c a lot of people either weren't home or weren't interested. Then I changed my strategy. If I sensed someone was interested in the cause I said I was a volunteer who came up from Los Angeles to help. Suddenly people started paying attention. Some still said they weren't available to volunteer but others comitted to dates and shifts. One woman even invited me to stay with her family if I decided to come back another weekend (which I'm thinking about. Turns out the woman lived in Marina del Rey and taught at LMU!!) It was such a high when someone said yes. Out of about 75 phone calls, I got 8 'yes's' and apparently that was a huge deal.

Here's a question: when did 20something guys become so solicitous? Is this a generational thing? A democrat thing? Why wasn't Barak running when I was in my 20's? The nice boys at HQ bring me water, invite me to lunch, check-in on me throughout the day. Are they just being polite to the middle-aged lady in the office?

After today I feel energized, inspired, hopeful and excited. I can't tell you how many registered Republicans I spoke to who are voting for Obama. This is huge! There are only 22 days left until the election. If you can get your booty to Las Vegas or anywhere in Nevada it would be insanely helpful. I'm thinking about coming back in the next few weeks.

Oh, I forgot to tell you about the German guy who is between jobs in Germany and decided to come to Nevada and work on the campaign. HE'S NOT AMERICAN. HE CAN'T VOTE. But he sees an opportunity for change, not just for Americans, but for citizens of the world. You don't even have to go to Germany to help with the political process - just to Las Vegas.

Don't ask about the gambling. I had a rough morning at the slots. I intend to win it all back tonight.


ps - let me know if you're reading this...drop me a comment!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Viva Las Vegas

I'm off to Vegas for my Obamarama visit. I'll be volunteering at Las Vegas headquarters on Monday and Tuesday and returning to L.A. on Weds. It feels empowering heading to a swing state to help out. Truly, I feel like it's my civic duty. I don't know when I became so Ms. America (especially since I plan on moving to Canada if you-know-who gets into office) but I am excited to be part of the political process. Plus, I just love a good blackjack table. Viva Las Vegas!  

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Everybody's doing it...

Jen's blogging about india:

Lisa's blogging about food:

And me? Being the private person I am, I'm still writing in a journal.  Sure, I have a website or two

But overall I keep my presence on the web on the DL.

Until now.

Connections Clark was a nickname given to me by my friend from college John Mancuso who laughed at the way I searched for connections between people. I did that at 18 and I still do it now. You could say I live for doing it.

And so I'd like to use this forum to connect people - to other people, to books, authors, recipes, music, good karaoke songs, restaurants, travel destinations, and on and on and on.

E.M. Forrester said "Only connect" and so I literally obey his command.