Teensy-weensy countries of Europe.
Province of Åland 5,267 square miles (8% more than Connecticut)
Principality of Asturias 4,094 sq mi (15% less than Connecticut)
Grand Duchy of Luxembourg 998 sq mi
Principality of Andorra 175 sq mi
Republic of Malta 122 sq mi
Principality of Liechtenstein 62 sq mi
Republic of San Marino 24 sq mi
Principality of Seborga 1.5 sq mi (Prince Giorgio is known locally as Sua Tremendità - "Your Tremendousness")
Principality of Monaco 0.7 sq mi
State of the Vatican City 0.17 sq mi (1% of the size of Manhattan)
Principality of Sealand 0.0002 sq mi
Impromptu (1991) dramatizes the seduction of the gentle Polish composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin (Hugh Grant) by the cigar-smoking, cross-dressing French writer George Sand (Judy Davis).
Meanwhile, Marie d'Agoult (Bernadette Peters) is obsessed with providing the inspiration for Hungarian cult figure Ferencz/Franz Liszt (Julian Sands), the Mick Jagger of his day.
Emma Thompson plays the rich, vapid hostess for these farcical shenanigans.
The film was directed by James Lapine and written by his wife, Sarah Kernochan (who also collaborated on the movie adaptation of 9½ Weeks).
Adhesions + scar tissue = bad. Cortisone = good.
I was a serious runner for 25 years (Boston & NY marathons). We used to chant: "Run through the pain."
I was a serious weightlifter for 5 years. We used to chant: "No pain, no gain."
I was a serious Marxist for about 5 minutes. We used to chant: "The only antidote to mental suffering is physical pain." Looking back, it wasn't that catchy.
The point is: I'm no wimp. I eat pain for breakfast.
Especially when the oatmeal's too hot.
But the physical rehab torture regimen for my shoulder surgery was making me suicidal. I went to the doc, and said, "Give me better drugs, dammit." He prescribed an ultrasound--which evidently shows some pretty spectacular adhesions (below)--and then shot me up with cortisone.
Life seems worth living again.
Seeking inspiration in writer's homes.
Links researched from the IHT article, plus a few extras:
Zane Grey's home on Catalina Island, where Anikó and I got married:
The desert inn where Lorne Michaels took magic mushrooms and came up with the idea for Saturday Night Live: http://www.joshuatreeinn.com/
The desert inn where I couldn't find any magic mushrooms, yet started writing Merlinsky anyway... quaint little bungalows and cabins: http://www.29palmsinn.com/
UPDATE: There are several dozen treasures in this guardian.co.uk list of writers' rooms. For example, after clicking on Charles Darwin's name, you will see a photo of the room where he worked, just above an essay with details like these: [...] The room was his refuge - and also an intellectual powerhouse. This was where he wrote On the Origin of Species, the controversial book that transformed the way scientists think about nature. It was here that he received the shocking news that Alfred Russel Wallace had independently arrived at the same theory of evolution by natural selection, and here that he encountered the storm of criticism when Origin of Species was published in 1859. Although it was the most private of places, hidden away in a village in Kent, Darwin's activities made it the centre of a global movement for scientific reform. [¶] Darwin researched and wrote 10 substantial books at Down House. He sat in the high-backed leather chair by the fireside, with a board balanced on his knees, his papers and notes close to hand in the alcove behind, surrounded by portraits of his wife and closest friends, the door ajar so that the children might run in. He was a warm-hearted husband and father, and let his children play on the round-topped stool, punting it around the room with his walking stick. At regular intervals he would pick up his hat for a brisk walk around the garden. [...]
Midsummer solstice tomorrow.
Last Saturday here in Phoenix, it was 110°F (43.33°C).
Sunday was 112, Monday was 112, Tuesday was 113, Wednesday was 112 and today it's 111 (headed for 113, they say).
Tomorrow is the first day of summer.
Maybe it'll start warming up, for a change.
Monsoon starts now, weather you like it or not. From 12 News:
After decades of using dew point readings to mark each year's monsoon on the calendar, the National Weather Service has changed the rules. Starting this year, the monsoon "season" will begin and end on firm dates, much like hurricane season on the Gulf Coast.
The Weather Service decided that the monsoon "season" will start on June 15th and end on September 30th, regardless of weather conditions. In years past, the first three consecutive days with average dew points of 55 degrees marked the beginning of the monsoon—typically in early July. And the monsoon ended with the last string of three days with such damp dew points--usually in September.
NWS Monsoon Tracker
Using your iPod to write screenplays.
[You can also use your thumb/flash drive, mp3 player, or favorite USB storage device.] It's a snap:
A) At the bottom of your iPod's "Summary" tab in iTunes, check the "Enable disk use" box, and click the "Apply" button.
B) Download and install the latest free OpenOffice.org Portable suite on your iPod.
C) Download and install this free scr2.ott template on your iPod - I put mine here:
When we stay in Tucson with my wife's friend--who has a Windows computer, but no Internet connection--I keep myself entertained by working on my latest screenplay or just kicking back and listening to some music (perhaps Mark Knopfler's Screenplaying). I can also use the iPod to revise my script on the public computers in: (1) my local library, (2) London's Heathrow airport, (3) Beijing's cyber-cafés, etc.
PS: My iPod is one of the smallest models, an old 2GB Nano. I had already loaded nearly 18 hours of music (201 songs) and 33 photos onto it. Now that it contains the OpenOffice.org software and my screenplay, it still shows over 606MB (33%) of free space.
PPS: There's a screenplay hanging off your ear.
A very special member of our family passed away today: a tiny Welsh terrier named Jennike. She lived in Budapest with my stepchildren, Anita and Jenc. Jennike's horizons became more and more limited, as she gradually lost her hearing and most of her sight, but she truly enjoyed being a loyal companion, right up until the end. She had a good long life (18 years), and she will not be forgotten. Condolences to the surviving family members who knew her since she was a puppy: Anita, Jenc, and their mom, Anikó, who lives here in Arizona with me.
My S&M Dominatrix From Poland.
I recently began a program of physical rehab for the surgery performed on a particularly nasty shoulder injury. My physical therapist's name is Yolanta. She was born in Poland. She's a formidable woman, with a deceptively sweet smile. She is quite capable of inflicting some of the most intense pain I have ever experienced, while smiling beatifically. It's all part of her determined effort to break up my scar tissue.
It seems that scar tissue is one of the unavoidable--and yet desirable--byproducts of arthroscopic surgery. After you rip your shoulder apart, by doing something stupid, the scar tissue from the surgery knits everything back together.
The problem is, your body has just experienced an extremely invasive procedure, and it wants to protect everything that was touched by the surgeon's tools. So it goes nuts with the scar tissue.
As a result, I have scar tissue in places that should never see scar tissue. And I've spent the last month keeping my arm very, very still, so my body was able to grow all sorts of scar tissue, good AND bad.
But now, I have to rip apart the bad scar tissue, while leaving the good scar tissue intact. This is where my Polish S&M Dominatrix Goddess comes in. She knows the best ways to break up that bad scar tissue, while inflicting the maximum amount of pain. Sometimes, when she is twisting my shoulder into a position that it has not been able to approach for the last three months, I look up through a haze of barely-repressed tears and notice her beatific smile. She's enjoying this.
The thing that worries me is: because she is helping me regain the use of my shoulder, I am also enjoying this.
Physical therapy is kinky as hell.
Google rips off Guardian.
Google recently changed its uppercase "G" favicon to a lowercase "g."
The Guardian website, which has been using a similar lowercase "g" favicon for quite a while:
, just noticed the change.
Google is now accepting open submissions to replace the lowercase "g." The entrant is responsible for making sure his/her entry "does not infringe any third party rights."
8 years ago today.
On June 6, 2000, Anikó and I took a ferry out to Catalina Island, and got married at the former Avalon home of America's preeminent writer on western lore, Zane Grey. Originally built in 1926, Grey's pueblo was designed to serve as a haven for his prolific literary efforts. It features extraordinary views of the ocean, as well as the surrounding hills of Catalina. Twenty-odd miles offshore, this island really lives up to its reputation as a romantic getaway.
BTW, we were each married twice before. None of the four marriages lasted this long, so we're still in shock.
There's a Porsche in my shoulder!
Evidently, the bill I received on May 15 was for hospital charges only... yup, I just received another bill, from the surgeon:
Scope Shoulder Bancart - $3,000.00
Shoulder Debridement - $3,000.00
Decompression Shoulder - $3,000.00
Scope w/Rotator Cuff Repair - $3,000.00
Subscapular Nerve Block - $1,000.00
TOTAL SURGEON CHARGES - $13,000.00
If we add this to the previous bill:
TOTAL HOSPITAL CHARGES - $29,642.25
, we end up with a truly appalling figure:
TOTAL HOSPITAL + SURGEON CHARGES - $42,642.25
For that amount of cash, I could buy a Porsche Boxster. Next time, I'm taking the car.
This BBC film (directed by Simon Cellan Jones, written by Nick Dear) recreates the drama--mostly wordless--surrounding the first dress-rehearsal performance of Beethoven's Third Symphony. The music is played by the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, conducted by John Eliot Gardiner, and the actual musicians, not actors, perform the music on period instruments. The "audience" includes top-flight actors like Jack Davenport, Tim Pigott-Smith, Anton Lesser, Claire Skinner, Lucy Akhurst and Fenella Woolgar - who dramatically show that accomplished thespians need not always rely on the crutch of dialogue.
Some of the invited guests cannot understand what they are hearing; others are delighted by the novelty of a symphony that does not conform to the accepted musical conventions of their time. Later, when the aging Franz Josef Haydn (Frank Finlay) stops by to listen, he comments, "Everything is different from today."
Beethoven (Ian Hart) originally dedicated the symphony to Napoleon Bonaparte... but changed his mind after learning of Napoleon's accession to Emperor.