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 _______________.