Friday, November 30, 2007

You Must Be Addicted To MySpace If...

Did y’all know that Kathy Griffin found her second assistant on MySpace? This is kind of outdated news, but I was thinking about it last night while watching her new stand-up special Straight To Hell (since their iTunes contract is up, Bravo needs to release a compilation DVD or something!) Anyway she did; her name is Tiffany, and judging from the last season of My Life On The D-List, she is kind of awesome, but still! I would love to hear the inner dialogue that justified that decision; I mean, what made her think she wasn’t a deranged stalker like so many of us… I mean, so many on MySpace?

Plus, I wrote Kathy a part in my show (yes, the woman who shook sh*t hands for her country and who is pictured here, almost mooning her audience during a taping for one of said Bravo specials), and I promote the hell out of it on MySpace, and she still doesn’t respond to my messages! Okay, in all fairness, I think the site I was sending them to ended up being only a fansite, and I don’t technically have the money to shoot the pilot… or a network behind me ready to put it on-air anytime soon... But you better believe that I’ll be waiting for her outside the Kodak Theatre in January, with a fresh-off-the-printers copy of my book in hand, like a crazy inventor on HSN who needs celebrities to endorse my product in order to get a sale. I hope she’ll be flattered; I hope she loves the role. It’s definitely a step up from some of other gigs she gets called for anyway... like helping those crazy inventors sell their sh*t on HSN. I mean... that’s legit, Kathy; it’s awesome :) Okay, I’ll just shut up now, while I haven’t completely offended my God (What? I don’t have an Emmy yet!).

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Consumerism Does Not Rule All...

My mother comes to visit every year around Christmastime. Since I moved into my own apartment in the valley while I was a Sophomore/Junior (I did college in only three years, and I still don’t know what to call that middle year where I was kind of in between, taking twenty units a semester, and simultaneously working two internships to try to make connections in this damn industry!), she has flown out in the middle of the month (of December, duh) and stayed through Christmas to the days right before New Years.’ Even though I have been out of school for two years, and I should spend those weeks hard at work, thus far that has not been the case, so I am still able to accommodate her.

This year, my mother is flying out to L.A. on the 15th, and she just informed me she got a call from The Ellen Show regarding tickets for Monday the 17th. I checked their online calendar, and that is smack-dab in the middle of their annual "25 days of Giving" or whatever they call it where they give out expensive sh*t from their sponsors to the audience. Now, as much as I would love a flat-screen television or diamond stud earrings with a matching necklace or even yet another video iPod, I had to stop for a second and think about the consequences of attending such a taping. The Writer’s Strike is still going on, and undoubtedly it will be throughout the holiday season, and quite frankly I don’t feel comfortable crossing a picket line, even for a bunch of free, materialistic stuff.

I have felt very strongly throughout this whole ordeal that Ellen should not only be on hiatus with everyone else, but also she should be walking that picket line herself every morning with a hot cup of coffee and a megaphone. She’s a member of the WGA, and her show employs writers to aid with her daily monologue, as well as to come up with new segments and games to play with guests and audience members alike. On her first day back to work during the strike (which was only a day or two into it, BTW), she said she did not feel comfortable standing on her mark and delivering a monologue, out of respect to her writers who she supports at this difficult time. I respected that, but the next day, she was back delivering the four-minute funny as has become synonymous with the show. My guess is she’s writing her own material, which is technically a violation, since as I mentioned, she is a WGA member. What’s worse, though, is that by still doing her show as usual, she’s virtually saying that her writers are unnecessary. She still gets laughs during her monologue—she may even get more now. She still uses the games that have been banked over the last few years of her shows—games that she did not create on her own. Now, I understand that daytime writers are not striking for the same reason as everyone else: they don’t stand a chance to profit from a raise on DVD residuals or online content right now, as their shows don’t get distributed that way. However, they’re striking on principle: they are standing in solidarity with their brother and sister writers, as you should when you’re a member of a (any) union.

Believe me when I say I understand more than most that the rest of the staff and crew at such shows need to work. I can give Ellen some points for not wanting to put the dozens of others out of work at this expensive time of year. I am a member of Local 871 in Los Angeles (Script Supervisor’s union), and I am out of work, too, because all of the television shows are shutting down, and films are fewer and farther between than usual (okay, I can’t blame that all on the strike; I’d been out of work before it started, and now I’m just using it as a nice crutch for why I can’t find a damn job already. I mean, I joined the union because it would open me up to new production companies and projects, but I didn’t realize there are over 300 other active Script Supervisors, all trying to get the handful of jobs out there at any given time. And it’s not like the Grip or Electric union where you can have twenty guys on a show; no, there’s only one Scripty per show, so I am literally competing with hundreds of other people who have way more years and bigger connections under their belt than I do. I wish someone at the union curbed that sort of thing instead of just greedily taking my five grand plus quarterly dues).

Anyway, luckily for my conscience, my mother had a brain fart when on the phone with the Audience Department Intern, and she admitted she had been to a previous taping (though it was two years ago, and it was under my name since I interned there at the time). The girl promptly informed her that unfortunately due to the high demand during the holiday season, they can only accommodate fans who have never been to the show before. Right. Like no one is lying just to get a year’s subscription to TiVo or a bunch of cashmere sweaters. I’m sure.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Meet Madison...

Yes, he really did jump up there on his own.

This is Madison. He came into my life at the very end of March 2007, right at the time I first became unemployed. It was perfect timing, really, since I had all the free time in the world to stay home with him and teach him the important things like how to Sit, not pee on my floor, and give his Mama hugs and kisses, all of which he learned very quickly (among some other things, including the names of all of his toys... so why he still has trouble with "High Five," I don't really understand).

Madison is a star, but as you can see from this photo, he's also really silly. We went to the beach yesterday, and when we first got there it was pretty cloudy and cold outside, so I just wanted to lie in the back seat of my car and finish Pamela Ribon's "Why Girls Are Weird," but he had other plans (Oh, by the way, Madison is a boy. I was fully anticipating getting a girl dog, and I picked out the name long before I saw him, but when I did, he was just too cute to resist, so I figured: He's a dog; he won't be scarred by a feminine name, right? Well, I recently found out that he's a bottom when another little Shih Tzu puppy tried to hump him, and he just laid down and rolled on his back, completely submitting. But those two things can't have anything to do with each other anyway, so I digress...). After whining for a few minutes at the sand and the birds he could see just outside the window, he jumped from the front seat onto me and up to the small area behind the rear seats. The glass was lower than he expected, so he kind of got wedged in, and then he just sat there and stared sadly out at the sand and the birds once more.

Thankfully it warmed up within a few minutes, and I was able to take him outside, where he happily dug for rocks, chased a napkin blowing in the wind, and tried to eat a stick. And eventually he calmed down enough to just sit by my side and let me finish my book. He's the best boy ever!

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Sample Chapter from the Upcoming "Pseudonym," a novel...

momentarily she regressed / going through pictures like a sentimentalist

It was four days into the first term at her magnet junior high school, and Megyn took careful note of that when she passed the calendar that hung on the kitchen wall, sandwiched in between the old corded phone and the refrigerator, that morning on her way out the door. It was exactly one year ago, almost to the day, that she rode the R-train into the city on a mission.

On a normal school morning, Megyn would get up at 7:00 and be out the door by 7:25, at the very latest. She had to take two trains and a bus to get to the other end of Brooklyn, where her specialized junior high school was located. It was quite a trek, but she was given “the gift of time” while utilizing public transportation, her mother liked to point out. Her mother would have sent her to New Jersey or Connecticut if she could, determined to give her the best education no money could buy.

Megyn went through that routine for a year in sixth grade, and she was already sick of it only mere days into seventh grade. She thought the summer off would have alleviated some of the stress that rushing to catch the proper transportation caused, but it hadn’t, so on this particular day, she decided to take a break.

Megyn packed her backpack with her binder, as she always did, but also with a few magazines and the current book she was reading: a biography of Lucille Ball. She also made sure to shove two brand new twenty-dollar bills into her jeans pockets before slipping out the door and into the fresh morning air.

As Megyn walked to the train station, rebelling in open-toed sandals-- knowing today she should have gym class but was not planning to attend-- she was surprised to find the sun already shining, and very few clouds in the sky. She hummed along to the CD in her Discman from the minute she stepped foot outside of her apartment building, through the time she boarded the train and stayed on it even when she reached the stop at which she normally had to cross platforms and switch to the N, and up until the moment the R lurched forward and then slammed to a stop.

“Great,” Megyn groaned, knowing that when the MTA shut down, it could take anywhere from seconds to hours to get up and running again. And she had a strict plan for the day: she was going to stop by Borders to pick up the new Mariah Carey CD and then hit Krispy Kreme for breakfast. Maybe she’d wander into Express and NY & Company, too, before hopping back on the train and heading to Midtown to walk around Fifth Avenue and do some window-shopping. Megyn thought she might even walk by her mother’s office, but now... “At least the lights are still on,” she sighed.

Though they did flicker.

“Uh, ladies and gentlemen, please sit tight,” a voice filled with static came over the speakers usually reserved for automated announcements of arrivals at the individual stations. “It seems there is a momentary closure at Cortlandt. While I don’t know how long we’ll be here, if you are in a hurry to get uptown, you can exit here, and one of many express buses will come through.”

The doors exhaled, and a few people around Megyn grumbled and spilled through them. She sighed again and followed, too, slinging her backpack over her shoulder and turning the volume up in her headphones.

When she climbed the stairs from the train station, there were people everywhere; some were yelling into cell phones, which was not at all uncommon for those Wall Street-adjacent streets; some were taking pictures; others were standing silently in the middle of bumper-to-bumper traffic, with their hands over their mouths; and others still were crying uncontrollably. All were facing uptown. Megyn followed their collective glance and saw the fire burning a hundred stories over her head.

“Oh, fantastic!” She exclaimed, sarcastically. “How the hell am I going to get there now?”

A blonde woman with mascara staining her cheeks snapped her head toward Megyn: “That’s what you have to say at a time like this?”

Megyn wrinkled her brow, puzzled. She didn’t know how to respond. A fire truck whizzed past her, followed by two squad cars and two more unmarked police sedans.

Megyn fumbled in her backpack for her cell phone as she started to walk northwest. She knew better than to call home; it was before eleven a.m.-- well before-- so her father wouldn’t be even close to awake yet. Her mother’s office was her only bet. “Come on, come on,” she mumbled into the receiver as the phone on the other end rang, interspersed with static.

“Mrs. Alessi’s office. How may I help you?”

“Yeah, hi, Claudia, it’s Megyn. I need to talk to my mother.”

“Good morning, Megyn. She’s stepping into a meeting; can I take a message?”

“Um, no, not really.” Megyn tried not to look at whatever was fluttering down from the buildings-- because to look would be to see what it was.

“Hold on a sec, let me see if she’s around.”

There was a click on the phone, and Megyn yanked it away from her ear to read the small green screen and make sure it hadn’t died on her. It still glowed and still showed two bars.

“Megyn? It’s Claudia again. Sorry, but she just said that it’s the fourth day of school, and you can’t afford to miss any this early in. She said she’ll talk to you when she gets home tonight.”

“Well, tell her I need the car service number. There’s something going on--“ she caught herself before she added “downtown,” knowing full well she wasn’t supposed to be there. “There’s something going on, and the trains are stopped...”

A plane soared overhead, and Megyn tilted her head toward the sky instinctively. A woman in a business suit walking next to her sucked in a sharp breath-- almost one of relief-- but it fizzled out of her mouth in a scraggly exhale as the plane hooked a U-turn in the sky.

Megyn felt the heat on her face even though she stood on a corner a few blocks east of it, and she closed her eyes, fearing she’d be burned. She didn’t even hear the crash over the sounds in the street.

“Oh my God!” The businesswoman cried, sinking to her knees on the asphalt.

A man in track pants and a wife-beater bent and wordlessly grabbed her elbow to help her back up.

Megyn held the phone numbly to her ear. It beeped three times, cutting her off from Claudia, but she didn’t even notice. In the distance, she could hear more sirens.

She could see why that blonde woman was so appalled at her initial reaction. She had been, although unintentionally, really insensitive.

When Megyn finally got home that night, her mother enveloped her wordlessly, tears streaming down her face. She had never seen her mother cry before, except maybe once or twice during a movie, but that didn’t count because those were just tears for a fictional event or person and therefore fictional in and of themselves.

Megyn didn’t cry, though; she stood with her arms listlessly at her sides. After a few minutes, she pulled them up and around her mother to pat her on the back, as if to say: “Please let go now” when her mother wouldn’t release her.

She didn’t tell her mother she had seen the events take place live; she let her mother believe she was sitting in her homeroom classroom when the first plane soared across Manhattan and that she only saw it later, replayed in slow-motion on the news when her Social Studies teacher turned on the small television they usually only wheeled in when a teacher was absent to figure out what was going on. She let her mother believe she sat in lock-down with the rest of the students, some of whom lined up outside the office to call home, and some of whom took out their cell phones in the middle of class, for the first time not fearing getting detention for doing so.

She didn’t tell her mother that she slipped into the herds heading uptown on the Westside Highway and walked, without reason, up to 34th Street before getting that sinking-stomach feeling she usually only got before she had to give an oral report. She glanced up at the Empire State Building quickly and just as promptly turned around. She didn’t tell her mother it took her hours to finally walk back toward and over the Brooklyn Bridge and even longer to find a bus that was running toward her end of Brooklyn.

She didn’t wonder if her friends had asked where she was-- if any of their parents had called her own wondering if she was okay. They obviously hadn’t. Megyn could have slipped into the fog, and no one would have noticed.

Her father was asleep when Megyn got home, and he remained that way when she stripped off her clothes and bundled them into a heap in the corner of the bathroom. She turned on the hot water, and only the hot water, and hopped in the shower for what felt like only a few minutes, but what her mother noted was the better part of an hour. Megyn wondered if he had joined the world long enough that day to even hear what happened.

Megyn left the ball of clothes on the floor until the next morning, when she scooped them up and into a garbage bag and tossed them straight down the incinerator at the other end of her apartment floor hallway. She couldn’t find any visible ash on the surface, but the memories were soaked into the fabric.

Megyn didn’t have to go to school that day, or the next. Her school remained closed for the rest of that week, which was only three days anyway. When the school finally reopened, the students were given the option of taking a Big Yellow Bus that was chartered by the PTA in an effort to minimize the number of students who tried to blame their tardiness on the many public transportation closures and route changes.

On the first day back, Megyn attended a mandatory assembly with the rest of the seventh graders, at which the Principal and Guidance Counselors stood up and offered their support “at this difficult time.” They told the students they were there should any of them need to reach out and talk about how they were feeling. Only a handful that Megyn knew of actually took them up on that offer, which she suspected was just to get out of class for a period or two anyway.

For a little while, the students had to wear their IDs around their neck, and they weren’t allowed outside for lunch, but that only lasted a few weeks. Just as New Yorkers went back to not paying attention to each other, let alone caring for them, things seemed to get back to normal at Megyn’s school, too, which was what those Guidance Counselors said should happen anyway.

“Don’t dwell. Move on. Live your life.”

Megyn still couldn’t comprehend how, though. She sometimes felt like she was moving and everything around her was standing still, like some kind of weird freeze-frame out of the early seasons of Saved By The Bell. But she was no Kelly Kapowski, and there was certainly no Zack Morris in her life.

Sometimes even now, a year after the fact, Megyn still couldn’t let go.

Friday, November 23, 2007

My Favorites List (AKA Things I'm Thankful For Leftovers)...

M by Mariah Carey. Despite previous blogs, it does not actually make me smell like marshmallows. I quite like it. After abandoning my Dolce & Gabana previously in the year because it reminded me too much of high school, and more recently deciding that Angel by Theirry Muglier is too pine-y for my grown-up taste, I was looking for a new scent. This one happened along at the perfect time. Also, that the Adventures of Mimi Tour DVD is finally being released, a year after the fact, but just in time for the holidays. It's my Christmas present to myself.

BestWeekEver.TV I read it every day, a couple of times a day, compulsively clicking on the bookmark while I watch Judge Judy or while I stand in line to check out at Target. I love all things pop culture, and they find the best of the day's news to cover. Coincidentally, their site is where I got the idea to do this list, after they parodied Oprah's Favorite Things with some snarky items.

The Amount Of Times Kelly Ripa Says "Literally" On An Average Live With Regis & Kelly Broadcast. It's an early morning drinking game! Just don't couple it with counting how many times Regis says "incidentally;" it's never a good idea to be drunk before ten a.m.

Funny Puppy Videos On YouTube. Yes, I've officially become that unemployed girl who sits around eating cookie dough straight off the roll and chips out of the giant size bag, laughing at how my own dog reacts to the sounds spilling out of my computer when I watch a video of a dog growling at himself in the mirror or playing with a yoga ball.

PS: Focus on the last 30 seconds of this video when Madison bitch slaps my camera and is totally proud of himself for doing it.

Sober Lindsay Lohan. Though the bleached-blonde hair is a little too Courtney Love, I am sincerely rooting for her to have a full Drew Barrymore comeback. She has a lot of talent that she unfortunately wasted on crappily written films like Georgia Rule and I Know Who Killed Me in the last few years when she was all high (though, then what was Felicity Huffman's excuse?) She deserves better. I know she can do better. Nay, she will do better! As long as she stays away from Michael and Dina.

Christmas Movies. It's just that time of year when even the hokiest cheese-ball of a flick aimed at kids who still think eating their own boogers is funny manages to tear me up. I watch the ones I own on a loop between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, and now that I have Netflix, my queue is filled with the others, getting two delivered every week until they run out.

On that note: Netflix. Even with the cheap monthly plan of only getting two discs at a time, I can still blow through about twelve a month. And yes, I know this is more appropriate for a list circa 2003 or whenever it first was introduced, but I upgrade very slowly with technology. I like to make sure it's going to stick around awhile before I dive right in.

Potes of (aka Tracie Potochnik). While she doesn't regularly recap shows I care about, she covered this week's episode of The Biggest Loser and made all of the appropriate comments about the DOOL actors who made cameos. Sadly I missed the make-over episode, and though I was already bummed from knowing the outcome due to the fact that the Prevention issue which featured before and after photos had been put on shelves days before the episode aired, her writing made me laugh out-loud and basically be glad I did take a few minutes of my day to read what I thought would just be redundant.

The 4400. It's the original Heroes but on USA and better. It doesn't have nearly the viewership it should, and without knowing when this strike will end, it's hard to say when the show will return for it's fifth season, but the first few never ceased to surprise and offer many twists and turns to keep the show fresh, relevant, and unique. And can we say hello Patrick Flueger? Yum.

And of course: Madison! Of all the things in the world, I am most grateful for Madison.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fully Prepared To Smell Like Marshmallows...

I just got home from... wait for it... meeting Mariah Freakin' Carey (yes, that is officially her full name now). That's right, six years later, I finally got to tell my Glitter story to the one person who wouldn't laugh in my face (I hoped... and I was right), but more on that in a minute.

So, I get to Macy's around five for an event that's supposed to start at seven, knowing full well that Mariah likes to make an entrance and had to tape Ellen and then some promo interviews first. Though I figured it wouldn't start on time, I thought I should still get in line then to get a good spot... and I was right: there were already about 100 people winding around the store in a line waiting to get her autograph, and there were dozens more off to the side, pretending to shop for leather jackets and underwear while secretly holding cameras poised and ready by their waists. I got some pictures, mostly from standing behind dozens of other fans (and some lucky shoppers who just happened by at the right time and didn't have anything else to do for the day, so they hung out for a few hours, guarding their coveted front-of-the-barricade position. In retrospect, I didn't have anything else to do today either, and I really should have gotten down there earlier... oh well, next time... next time.)

Long-- and I mean long-- story short, in line I met some cool people who might (but probably not) be bigger fans than me, and we laughed and reminisced about past concerts and such while we waited. One girl was the one from the Staples Center concert last fall whose baby Mariah named (she was eight months pregnant at the time and had a sign asking for Mariah to name her baby, and she suggested Roy after her recently departed father; the girl chose Jesse Roy in the end). Another woman there named her eleven-year-old daughter Mariah, and she said both her kids grew up listening to Mariah 'cause it's what Mommy liked and had on in the car and in the house. I totally know how that goes! My kids will definitely be dragged with me to concerts and signings just like this one :)

So anyway, Mariah came downstairs about half an hour late, and the Macy's people really pushed the line through so you only had a chance to say a few words while she signed her 8x10 (the ad from M) for you. You couldn't bring anything up with you when you met her, so I couldn't get my Glitter CD signed :( or get her to pose with my book. That would have been the best Celebrities Who Love My Book picture ever! But next time... next time.

I really should have brought her the "Pseudonym" manuscript, but (say it with me: next time... next time). Besides, you had to hand any gifts to the employees, and they'd pass it to her people, but I don't really believe they didn't pick through the good stuff first. I did, however, get to go up to the stage (it felt kind of like a graduation when you cross to get your diploma, though how would I really know, considering I skipped mine?), and I basically gave her the nutshell version: "So I just wanted to tell you, and I waited six years to do so, that I bought the Glitter soundtrack at 8:45 am in the Borders World Trade Center on September 11th." The Macy's personnel were acting as security, ushering people on and off the stage, and they were pretty much pulling on my arm at this point, but she looked up and stopped signing to ask me what happened. She actually looked really concerned, and it threw me, though I don't know why. I guess I half-expected not to be heard over the screaming of the dozens of fans behind me. So I didn't really know how to answer her; I hadn't expected to have time to say anything else, and I just kind of laughed and made a joke of "Well, I got out." I didn't think I should mention she probably never got her fifteen percent from that CD considering the computers shut down and the cash, if it wasn't swiped off the counter as people ran out, probably burned, too. I did tell her I brought the CD for her to sign, and she said she totally would have if Macy's let her. She was super sweet and gracious, and she shook my hand as I was led off the stage. I was kind of bummed we couldn't choose the one thing she signed for us, but again: next time... next time.

And even with the chaos (paparazzi, cameras from Extra floating around, random fans screaming even more random things, Macy's employees shoving your purse, cell phone, and camera into a giant plastic bag and holding it for you while you walked across the stage), I couldn't help but notice, as I watched all of those frazzled employees run around with Walkie Talkies, quite possibly for the first time ever, that if I had sucked it up and taken a retail job months ago like my bank account screamed for, I could have been on the front-lines at such an event. But again, I guess all I can say is: next time... next time.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My Debut Novel Is Officially On Sale!


By now your television options in the evening must seem quite grim, and as negotiations are not improving between producers and the WGA, it only proves to get worse, but I have a cure! My novel, "Stars in their Eyes," is on sale now at! It reads like a television show: very visual, very quippy, full of the ups and downs of relationships.

And, hey, if chick lit isn't your thing, it makes a perfect gift for your mother, your sister, your grandmother, wife, aunt, cousin, niece, daughter, daughter-in-law, mother-in-law, secretary, neighbor, co-worker, girlfriend, etc!

Pick it up today (and please tell your friends) :)

PS: I didn't set the price.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I Seem To Be Stalled...

.. with my new novel, currently temporarily titled "The Unemployed Girls' Club." Here is the first chapter for your dissection, notes, or other types of feedback. It's one of those stories that goes back and forth between different narrators/characters' points of view, each one drawing little bits from my own experiences at times. I have what I call a "skeleton draft" under my belt thus far: there's a beginning, middle, and end there, so some would call the arc complete, but there are gaps in the time line, and I feel I need to add a good thirty pages or so before I can show it in full to anyone.

Please leave comments or messages with your thoughts.



She opens her eyes and blinks a few times, her upper eyelids sticking slightly to the lower ones as she does. Her arms feel almost weighted down, so she doesn't reach up to rub her eyes or scratch the insistent itch on the tip of her nose. Her head feels heavy, like she's been asleep for a lot longer than her usual ten hours. Her eyes dart around the room, almost begging for confusion, but to her dismay, she finds she recognizes everything in there, from the pile of old textbooks on the floor in her closet to her dusty old clock radio, which clicks on almost as soon as she glances at it.

"Good morning, Los Angeles! Isn't this a B-E-A-utiful morning!?"

"Uhhh!" She groans, grabbing the other pillow, the one not under her head, and pushes it down hard over her face to drown out the noise. "Why is Seacrest making references to a crappy, outdated Jim Carrey film?"

She sighs: if she can remember that than she most certainly does not have the amnesia for which she prayed before falling asleep the night before. Well, actually, if she's being truthful, she has been praying for amnesia for the better part of a year now, after graduating from college without any job offers and awaking every morning to leave the bags of adorable Nordstrom and Express office clothes on the floor of her closet, alongside those now unnecessary books. It is very trendy nowadays.

Cassie sits up, and as soon as she does, her dog rolls over; he has been lying on her hair, which explains why her head feels immobile. He gives her a kiss on her forehead, and she wrinkles her nose as he goes for her ear. She pushes him aside and scratches the top of his head before reaching for the remote on her nightstand, but it is not there. She glances across the bed, to the dresser covered by piles of tangled jewelry and old credit card bills, and up to the blank wall. She frowns.

"Sure, but I manage to forget that!" She had pulled down the flat-screen television that her college boyfriend had spent hours moving "a little to the left... no, a little more to the left... up... no not that high!" only months before. She had spent a whole week lying in bed, watching marathons of all of Bravo's reality shows from the last two years-- shows she has already seen full seasons of, mind you-- when her parents popped over for an unannounced visit. Her mother took one look around her bedroom, the brand new Berber carpet littered with empty bottles of Coke Zero and Fiji water, and pulled her into the bathroom, whispering: "Honey, I'm worried about you. Are you depressed? Do you need some Zoloft? We don't have to tell your father; I'll just go get my purse."

She had known she was in trouble because she found herself actually considering it. After all, if she could convince a doctor she needed to be diagnosed, then maybe she could convince the State of California she needed to be on disability and wouldn't be under so much pressure to get a damn job already. To snap out of it, her first spring into action had been removing the temptation to just stay around in bed all day. So she broke up with her college boyfriend, and then she got rid of the television, too.

She sighs again and glances over at the clock, no longer even hearing the shrill voice spill out from the speakers. She can't remember the last time she actually had to set her alarm, and momentarily she forgets why she did so today. She wrinkles her brow in thought as she kicks the covers off of her. Her dog jumps off the bed and scampers out of the room, and she follows, pausing only to slam her hand down on top of the alarm, silencing it.

She knows she has a job interview today, and as she runs the water for the shower, she racks her brain to think about which job it is. In the first few months after college, the summer ones, she didn't rush herself to embark on a lifelong career. In fact, she didn't even send out one résumé. Instead, she woke up late, watched a little daytime television, and then moseyed down to the beach, where she'd bring her iPod and a magazine and spend a few hours working on her tan. When October rolled around, she found herself boring of that routine, however. Retail outlets always hire extra help around the holiday season, and one weekend, when on the phone with her mother, she mentioned she was going to stop by the Beverly Center and pick up some applications. Her mother had fallen silent for a few seconds, long enough to make Cassie wonder if she had accidentally hung up on her again. Sometimes she leaned too hard on the touch screen of her cell phone and cut her mother off in the middle of one of her stories about her needy friend Marge or her bi-weekly hair/manicure/waxing/Botox appointment.

"Mom?" She had asked almost cautiously.

"Do you need money?" Her mother sounded uncharacteristically concerned.

"Well, yeah, that's the whole point of me getting a job, right?" She had laughed.

"I mean, is your allowance not enough anymore? I'll write you a check, dear, it's no problem."

Cassie had sighed. She knew her parents had no qualms about giving her money for the petty things she had come to love. They were the ones who paid her rent up front and in full for the entire year lease she signed when she fell in love with this place two months before graduation. They were the ones who paid her dorm the penalty she incurred by breaking that lease early and moving into this one bedroom just off Robertson Blvd in Beverly Hills. They were the ones who suggested maybe she upgrade to a two bedroom so she could have room for a proper guest space, but that was where she had drawn the line. Her friends were about to graduate, too, and they were all moving into shared spaces with each other or back home with their parents; they didn't need a whole room, outfitted in pastels and floras, if her mother had her way, just to crash on the occasional Saturday night.

"I mean, really, I did not spend over a hundred thousand dollars on your education just for you to end up behind the counter of some second-rate store making eight dollars an hour!" Her mother continued.

She sighed again and put the phone down on her coffee table as her mother rattled on. That afternoon she did hit the Beverly Center, but she only stopped in one store, and it was Pet Love, where she made friends with a puppy, whom she brought home immediately. Instead of earning minimum wage for the next few months, she spent about as much on her new little buddy. Hence the credit card bills. In that time, she also trained the dog to use his Wee Wee Pads, fetch the remote control, give hugs and kisses, and help her put away her many purchases by closing the drawers of her dresser for her.

After the holiday period passed, she really had no more excuses for not looking for work, though, and she began scouring the Internet and answering ads from everything that ranged from Office Managers to Advertising Coordinators and even Content Editor at, a job about which she got really excited because it basically entailed researching the latest celebrity gossip, film reviews, and music releases and deciding what should go on the respective front pages. She tailored a cover letter for that position which explained her love of pop culture and how all of her childhood toys were named after cast members or characters of Full House and Saved By The Bell, and she eagerly awaited a response from Tom or one of Tom's minions for almost two weeks, without even looking for another position because she was so sure this one was perfect for her. What else should she do with a B.A. in Communications?

She didn't hear from Tom, however, or even one of his minions-- not even to offer her a generic "Thanks but no thanks" reply. And that pretty much sums up the majority of her job searching experience: most are positions in which she doesn't technically have experience, but she isn't about to discriminate against them. She psyches herself up for something she doesn't know much about and goes into the few interviews she does manage to get with an almost false confidence. Maybe the interviewers can sense that. Or maybe they can sense the desperation starting to seep out of her pores as the days have turned into weeks and then months. She doesn't really want a lot of these jobs, but she needs them. She is sick of taking money from her parents; she hates feeling like she is useless as a member of society, being unable to contribute anything, though her mother likes to point out the amount of money she spends on work-appropriate clothes for the various jobs she hasn't gotten is enough to keep the economy afloat for a decent while.

Cassie shakes her head as she steps into the shower. Her dog pokes his head into the bathroom and sees that the tub is not being filled for a bath, so he turns around with a single bark and runs back out. In the past few days, she's applied for a job as a Receptionist with a popular talk show, an Office Manager for an agency dealing primarily with dogs, an Administrative Assistant in a major studio's music division, and another Receptionist position but at a law group in the valley. It's no wonder she can't remember where she's going today.

"Yeah, amnesia would make things easier," she mumbles as she begins to lather her hair. At least then she'd have a legitimate reason for not paying her bills. But that's a dream as hard to come by as winning the lottery... which, perhaps not surprisingly, is also something she has not entirely ruled out as a career option.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

At Least I'm Not The Only One Who Hates Thanksgiving...

LOVE the puppets... wish they had some kids dressed up as pilgrims and Indians chasing each other around because nothing riles people up more than using kids to get a controversial message across.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Verizon May Claim It, But I REALLY Never Stop Working For You...

There are a handful of actors that I have become quite attached to over the years, for a variety of reasons. These are not A-List, $20 million a picture stars, although I do have a list of my favorites from that category, as well. These are those who have been deemed "up and comers" but who haven't been given the chance to actually "come up" and do more than guest star roles on sitcoms or little indie films that go straight-to-DVD. They represent the struggling artist: someone who, in my humble opinion, has a lot of talent but hasn't found their niche in this crazy political industry we call entertainment.

One of those actors is Eric Winter (, who I first "met" (and then literally) when he was playing Rex Brady, an assumed alien, on Days of our Lives. Yeah, I know. Since leaving DOOL, he has appeared in recurring roles on quite a few shows, including last season's surprise sleeper Brothers & Sisters, as well as this season's not-so-surprising failure Viva Laughlin. Eric actually left B&S to do VL, and the writers and producers were gracious enough to write him out in such a way he could return should the imminent become reality. Now the trades have announced he will return, just as soon as this strike is over, I guess, but allow me to make a pitch for a minute here...

Eric is currently dating Rosalyn Sanchez who plays Elena Delgado on CBS' Without a Trace, and I can forgive him for that because he and I just haven't been in the proper venue where he can see how witty and great I am and just start falling in love with me... but I digress. While I am usually against actors who bring their real-life boyfriend or girlfriend onto their show, I think in this case it could provide a very interesting episode. Eric greatly resembles one of the other agents on W/OAT: Eric Close ( I'm not saying they're twins or anything, but they have a lot of similar characteristics and even mannerisms in acting. So wouldn't it be interesting if a case came up that Martin (Eric Close) was a suspect in for a little while because of the witnesses' sketches and so on? Really Eric Winter would be playing that bad guy who snatched a kid or a woman or whatever, but for a little while there'd be some mistaken identity that can play out over a two or three episode arc, giving Eric Winter ample screen time on a worthy program. So come on, Moonves! You don't want to lose your hottest young star to a rival network, do you?

Of course, if the strike doesn't end soon, this is all moot anyway. Perhaps Eric can just go back to DOOL for a while; after all, daytime producers have decided to keep production going by hiring non-union writers. While I don't respect or condone turning their backs on their people, I do want to see Eric prettying up my screen again soon!!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

She's Lost Her Damn Mind...

I've had writer's block for the past week or so, and it's been killing me. Still without a day job, I have come back to writing after four years of an extreme break, and now I'm silenced once again but for a very different reason.

At first I thought it was only because I wrote myself into a corner in the novel I am currently working on: after getting stuck on a particular character's chapter, I decided just to skip ahead in time and in the story to write the ending. Only now I was left with a giant gaping hole in the center of the story, which shouldn't be too difficult to go back and fill in, except I felt like I had to mold it a certain way to get to the ending I had already drafted. When I realized that wasn't working, I knew I had to scrap the ending and write linearly and just let whatever came out do so naturally. But that made me feel like I was taking a giant step back, and the page count I thought I had suddenly shrunk drastically. I get hung up on numbers (you can see previous blogs to know what I mean there), and I did so at this time, so I just stopped working for a week.

I thought the distance would be good; it would give me time to think about what I really want for each character and to slowly flesh it out in my mind before committing anything to print. Today was my deadline. I was going to sit down this morning and begin working once again, only to find that construction on our new patio fences has begun. Timing is never on my side. The drilling and the banging outside my doors, even with the doors shut, is so loud I can't hear my own thoughts. I have to put the television volume up to 20 to drown out the outside noise, but what drowns the television? What's worse is that it's cloudy and low-sixties in Malibu, so I can't even go up there to write; I'll be too busy shaking from the cold to focus on the task at hand.

I guess it's time to start my Tour of Starbucks' just to have a semi-quiet place to attempt to work. Or maybe I'll join a random picket line, make some new friends, and pick their brains for ideas.

This is what happens when creative people don't have an appropriate outlet.

That being said: I've been doing a lot of blogging lately, and I've come to the decision that I'd love to have a weekly column, like at the back of Entertainment Weekly, where I can write a page about anything in pop culture that I want. I know I'm no Stephen King, and people won't just flip the page to hear what I have to say about a particular film or episode of a television show just based on the dozens of my previous books that have gone on to be bestsellers and get turned into movies of their own; I'll have to earn my readers, and I'm okay with that. I'm up to the challenge; I just need someone to give me the chance!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I Walk The Line...

What I think people are failing to understand, perhaps because the media is failing to report it, is that this Writer's Strike is not as detrimental to the networks in the initial stages as it may appear. Sure, late night talk shows, and the rare daytime one (cough, Ellen, cough), have gone dark, but those who are up and about at one a.m. are usually only passively watching those shows as it is anyway. And networks have enough episodes of procedurals, other serialized dramas, and non-traditional sitcoms to last them for quite awhile without having to resort to rerun hell. Even when the shows we are currently enjoying, such as Samantha Who? or CSI run out of new material, there is a whole slew of mid-season replacements that have already shot a handful of episodes, such as Fox’ new Miss/Guided or last season's surprise Emmy winner The New Adventures Of Old Christine or ABC fan favorite Lost. While networks may have originally intended for them to debut in January, it will be an easy fix to just push them up in order to fill gaps accordingly. Some viewers may not notice anything's wrong at all because as it is, so many new shows air for six or so weeks straight and then go on "hiatus" while the network tests out new programming. Of course, there are also tons of reality shows that have full seasons in the can that will be thrown in wherever there are still holes. Primetime doesn't run into a real problem unless the strike lasts well into the summer, but by then they may not have any actors or directors anyway.

Where the strike stands to hit hard in the immediate future, though, is daytime television. Soap operas tape three weeks in advance, and that should carry us through the Sweeps period (ironic how that worked out, isn't it?), but come December, if the strike has not yet been resolved there will have to be a major shuffle to find suitable shows to fill huge blocks of time every single day.

And right now it doesn't look like the strike will be resolved anytime soon. Today WGA picketers stormed the Desperate Housewives set, trying to get production shut down. Why? I'm not entirely sure; the scribes of DH have already been paid for the episode they are currently filming. The Producers of DH are not doing anything wrong by carrying on their business as usual-- in fact, they have a right and responsibility to complete the work they've already started-- and these rowdy picketers are giving all of the others a bad image by disrespecting their fellow brothers and sisters, both in their union, and in the various unions that are employed by the Producers of DH. If that kind of angry attitude spreads, there is no doubt others will follow suit and strike when the time comes, not just for SAG and the DGA, but for the Below-The-Line unions in a trickle-down effect.

And of course, none of this looks good for me, who just desperately wants to get some work!!!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Why TiVo (An Actual DVR, Not Slang For Pregnant) Is Not For Me...

I watch way too much television as it is. I'm an addict, and I can admit it. This morning alone I watched three hours of MADtv, and I don't even find that show funny, but it was on, and I was up, and I can't have that black box just staring at me.

Some of my earliest memories are of smiling at early morning cartoons around a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles. It was never just a passive activity for me, though. Sure as I got older I'd have the television on in the background while chatting on AOL or doing my homework, but I was always paying attention; it was my earliest form of multi-tasking. I could still quote that episode of Friends or Will & Grace or whatever all day the next day in school, if I had someone who shared my passion (or sickness, depending on how you see it).

I watch a lot of crap as it is. Let's face it, television—well, the majority of it anyway—talks down to the average viewer. It assumes we need our hands held throughout the episodes. I love the procedurals, but I can always tell exactly what's going to happen within the first few minutes based, in a large part, on who the guest star is. If there is someone even remotely recognizable, there's no way they'll be wasted by just having one scene in the beginning where they play the sympathetic witness or the helpful witness or the apologetic witness or the witness who claims he knows nothing. They'll be back in Act Five with some new clue pointing to them as the killer, and that's all fine because the way they tell the story is still interesting. But reality shows are even worse.

I have always been an appointment viewer; there are certain shows I cannot miss, so on their nights, I make sure my butt is at home, parked on the couch two minutes before their timeslots waiting for the opening. Some call that being a slave to the medium, but I think the real slaves to television are the ones with DVRs. TiVo, or a cable company equivalent, may allow a viewer the freedom to watch a show whenever they want, so they don't have to rush home from a baseball game early just to ensure they catch Cold Case in full, for example, but in giving them the opportunity to play programmer, they become susceptible to trying a whole slew of new shows they might have never even given a second thought. And most of those shows should stay out of our consciousness anyway.

Right now, if I miss an episode of a show, it's not a big deal. I can catch it on a rerun or wait for the DVD that will inevitably be in stores in a few months anyway. If I had TiVo, though, I'd feel bad for missing an episode; TiVo makes you feel bad for missing an episode. It's such an easy machine to use how could you not record it, and once it's sitting there, waiting for you in your very own living room, why aren't you watching it?

TiVo is a drug dealer; it remembers what you watch and makes recommendations for what you might want to try. It has sometimes even been known to record an episode of one or two such programs to "give you a little taste." If I had TiVo I wouldn't just add Cold Case to my queue but also Desperate Housewives and America's Most Smartest Model, and can you imagine the time poor Mr. Digital Box would have trying to recommend new stuff to me? The list would be epic, and I'd most likely try them out anyway, returning to the shows I'd long since sworn off, like The Real World and being sucked into ones I swore I'd never start with, like Gossip Girl.

Right now those three that I aforementioned are all on Sunday nights at 9pm, and because they are on opposite each other, I have to do the responsible thing and make a choice about which one to watch. With TiVo I could watch one and record the other two, staying up until the wee hours of the morning to watch the episodes back to back. I know this sounds appealing to most of you, and at first it did to me, too, but I know I couldn't just stop there.

No, suddenly all of the daytime programming that used to be reserved for housewives, unemployed people, and children home sick from school would suddenly be fair game. I'd feel the compulsive desire to record every episode of Live With Regis and Kelly—just for the host chat, I'd tell myself (and you know what? Throw in The View for Hot Topics while we're at it, since I can), but I know within a little time I'd be watching the full episode. It'd start by just wanting to see a specific guest, like I do with Ellen: The Ellen Degeneres Show, but it would spiral. Oh, it would spiral. That desire would become a need, and my TiVo would soon be obese with episodes of Judge Judy and Gilmore Girls in syndication, even though I have the full series on DVD. Even if I had someone with whom to "stand around the water cooler," as it once were, I would no longer be able to, as I'd now be behind in the primetime shows.

My TiVo would be full in a manner of weeks, and ironically, I'd have to sit at home watching all day just to be able to delete some so I have enough free space for the next day/night's shows. There would be dark rings around my eyes from lack of sleep, pale skin from sitting in the house in front of the television instead of going out and joining the real world, and an obsessive little drive within me that needs more and more of a fix. I'd become a real junkie, so unfortunately I have to just say no... to TiVo.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Sample Chapter of "Stars In Their Eyes..."

Episode One

“Damn flipping shit!”

The outburst is not uncommon-- not unexpected-- and Courtney does not even glance up from her script, just flips another page pointedly, as Leah throws the latest tabloid on top of her appetizer plate. “Not in this one either.”

“You’re nuts, you know that?”

Leah sighs dramatically: “Court, you really have to start doing more carpets. I mean, this is pathetic. Eva and Hilary make the best dressed every issue, and word on the street--“

“And by street?” Courtney humors her.

“In Touch. She’s been seen at Crossroads.” Leah glances around almost suspiciously before hissing: “In the valley.”

Courtney giggles and shakes her head: “Then it must be true.”

Leah just shrugs and pulls out her iPhone to scroll through her calendar while picking at a fried wonton. Courtney watches her, smirking, as she eats her own salad. The air around them stirs gently, blowing a few strands of her too-natural auburn hair out of her eyes. She leans back and closes her eyes momentarily after popping a tomato slice into her mouth. She smiles as the warm California sun tans her surprisingly pale face. She must be the only actress-- no, make that the only person-- in Los Angeles who doesn’t fake and bake.

“Ooh, here it is: this is perfect!”

Courtney almost groans at the interruption but just lets Leah go on. Once she gets started, there is no stopping her motor mouth. Courtney learned that the hard way when she attempted to rebut a point in Anthropology 262: things got so heated that Leah flung a compact at her head as the professor winced by the door. After class, Courtney took Leah to the local coffee house to apologize, and it was there they learned they had mutual aspirations: Courtney wanted to move to Los Angeles to be an actress, and Leah wanted to move to Los Angeles to be photographed partying with the rich and famous. They’ve been friends ever since.

Leah’s insistent voice snaps Courtney out of her trance: “The Nocturnal Mutiny premiere is tonight! Vince, Brad, and Matt are supposed to be there. Get photographed with one of them, and you’re set for a good three weeks.”

As she taps the magazine to emphasize her point, Courtney shakes her head again: “Yeah, I know. Marty couldn’t get me tickets to that one.”

“Flipping agents; what good are they?” It appears she has a new word du jour.

Courtney shrugs and takes a sip of water. “It’s no big deal; I have an early call tomorrow.”

“I bet the after-party will be just as star-studded. What do you say?”

Courtney picks up one of the magazines and stares wistfully at the cover, tracing her finger down the side.

“That lust in your eyes I’ll take as a yes.” Leah picks up her iPhone again and quickly dials a number.

Courtney protests and tears at a piece of lettuce: “Leah, what are you doing? Would you put the phone down?”

Leah holds up a hand to shush her as Courtney watches while pretending to read her script. “Hello, Kenn's line please. No I can’t hold. Tell him Courtney Primm’s assistant is on the line, and it’s urgent.”

Courtney laughs. “Everything’s urgent with you. Paging Dr. Shepherd...” Courtney flips through the script, stopping only on the highlighted parts, mouthing them quietly to herself.

Leah shushes her and then turns away to speak directly into the phone. She is loud, and the couple at the next table glances over at her. Courtney smiles apologetically at them, and they glance away again, obviously annoyed but also obviously used to this sort of thing.

“Kenn, hi. Leah Conroy. Courtney Primm’s assistant. Listen, Kenn, I need two tickets to the Nocturnal Mutiny after-party for Ms. Primm and myself. Uh huh. Uh huh. No, that is unacceptable, Kenn. UN-ACCEPT-ABLE. She will not settle for some family friendly Disney piece of shit!”

“Seriously, Dr. McNamara, calm down. If it’s full, it’s full. It’s not a big deal. There are tons of these things.”

Leah covers the phone momentarily. “Not like this one; this is a press wet dream.”

Courtney mutters to herself, something about Leah knowing that because of the many teenage boys that share her bed, which Leah ignores as she continues to berate the poor publicist on the other end. Silently, Courtney wonders why he even picked up his extension.

“Seriously, Kenn, Disney? Who would she meet there? The Sprouse twins? Hannah Montana? Nocturnal Mutiny. That’s what we need. Uh huh. Great. Thank you, Kenn.” Leah hangs up and grins at Courtney, then snatches the script away from her.

“I’m on a soap, Leah; I’m not Angelina,” Courtney reaches for it, but Leah wags a finger at her.

“It’s a primetime soap. And it’s not forever. Your contract’s up in, like, a month. You’re leaving, right?”

Courtney scoffs: “Not the way things are going.”

“So I take it the audition went well.”

Courtney just wrinkles her nose.

Leah rolls her eyes, scoffing back just as hard to match Courtney’s pessimism: she has heard this before. “Come on, it couldn’t have been that bad.”

Courtney sips more of her water and shakes her head. “No, I majorly blew--“

Knowing with what Leah is about to respond, she holds her hand up to stop her: “Not like that! I bit. I mean, it was like the audition was one big fat brownie: I was Star Jones and backsliding fast.”

Leah reaches over and snatches a piece of chicken from Courtney’s plate. Courtney pushes it closer to her, and Leah just wrinkles her nose and pushes it back. “But they’re not all going to have directors chasing you out to your car.”

“Oh I don’t think you understand. I mean, I bit.”

“Yeah, I get it. Dessert all around.” Leah sits back in her chair and crosses her arms over her chest.

Out of nowhere, a bored looking waitress, who is popping her gum the way Courtney remembers the New York private school girls at her drama camp doing way back when, manages to find her way over to their table. Leah just shakes her head at her: “Not for us, I’m doing macrobiotic this week. Just the check.”

Courtney tries to hide a smile at the remnants of the fried wontons still evident on Leah’s plate. Leah is still glaring at her, though, and Courtney doesn’t see the big deal: “So I stick with Chateau Pacific a while longer; it’s been good to me.”

“Yeah but your demo is not ideal at all.”

“I get recognized.”

“By the Mid-West pancake bunch! Look, I’m just saying, where you’re at is fine, but this is the time to try for more. You don’t want to be known as Trina Madsen for the rest of your life, right?” Leah tears into her fortune cookie, ripping out the thin strip of paper.

The waitress places the check down in front of Leah and doesn’t even glance up at Courtney. Courtney assumes she must be trying to break into acting, too. Who isn’t? One time at P.F. Chang’s in the Sherman Oaks Galleria, her waiter actually slipped her his headshot, as if she could get him a meeting. How could she when she couldn’t get herself meetings? Leah took it anyway; he had been cute.

Leah ignores the check, so Courtney takes care of it. This is not uncommon or unexpected, either.

Courtney thinks for a moment before replying: “Yeah... ultimately. You know, acting is just... it’s unpredictable where it takes you, and that was the whole reason I started. I guess I’ve gotten a little comfortable.”

Leah has her brow wrinkled, clearly lost in her own world, and probably not even listening to her friend: “This isn’t even a fortune! Seriously: “You are energetic and full of life.” It’s an observation! And where are the lottery numbers?” She throws the cookie down on her plate in disgust. It breaks into smaller pieces, and she eats them one at a time as Courtney opens her own cookie.

Finally Leah snaps out of it and realizes what Courtney just said: “Sorry. But you’re better than a supporting role on the Serenity Channel. Think about it. And think about this party tonight.”

Courtney ponders this for a minute and then smiles. She holds her fortune out to Leah, who smiles and reads it aloud: “You will soon find yourself in the company of greats... in bed.”

Courtney laughs and tosses the fortune on top of the credit card she already left on top of the check.

Leah grins and eats Courtney’s cookie, too. “That’s fate... it’s fate!”

Courtney closes her eyes again. She thinks she’s going to regret this later, but she whispers: “Let’s do it” barely audibly. Leah manages to hear, though, and squeals with excitement, clapping her hands giddily. Courtney giggles, and Leah pulls out her cell phone again.

Courtney just shakes her head as she stands to go. Again, nothing uncommon or unexpected.