Our Storyboard has 3 Colors

Today was almost entirely filled with storyboarding again.

It’s not quite the same with only one collaborator (I miss you Stanford Graphic Novelists), but it’s still a more fun than laboring over a story’s details by yourself. There’s something intimidating about creating a story alone. Is this the right tangent or that? Should this character be a scientist or a gas station clerk? What if they went here instead of there?

When you’re collaborating you have another mind to tell you whether your ideas are hits or not. When you only have one mind to collaborate with, they might give you bad advice.

But the point is that you work together, and eventually find a compromise that is pleasant to both people. As a general rule, I figure at least 2-3 people should give me the same advice before I will trust it entirely, but that doesn’t mean the lone idea is unimportant. Often actually, it is brilliant.

Today was another good day in development. Yesterday we roughed out the basic plot. Today we filled it in and sketched out our basic character profiles. Tomorrow we will fill in the clues that glue it all together and give our story a 3-dimensional feel.

Here is an overview of our work:

This movie has a beginning, middle and end. It encompasses some excellent parallels and symbology, and it’s a little playful.

I know I’m getting my hopes up, but gosh I want to write this screenplay with Justin. I hope Roger will go for it.

As an aside, I got my second CSA box today. It had: carrots (OMG, I’ve never tasted carrots SO good!), broccoli, shallots, kale, green leaf lettuce, butternut squash, zucchini, pears, cara cara oranges and granny smith apples.

It occurs to me that I should share some of the recipes that I love. While I often get inspiration from allrecipes.com, I also mix and match from my numerous cooking books at home and my own personal tastes. Last night I was in a bit of a rush, I was tired, and I found an outstanding recipe for ginger scallops. I didn’t change a thing, it took less than 15 minutes, and it was delicious!

Here’s a salad I made the other night:

I combined a few different recipes and not only was this filling (as in an entire meal filling), but I had to force myself to eat slowly.



1/2 tomato

1/4 avocado

1 home-grown carrot

6 leaves lettuce

3 leaves radicchio

1/2 cup green cabbage shaved

1 Tbsp olive oil

salt & pepper to taste


1/4 cup feta cheese

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic crushed



Place dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until creamed. This will be a very thick dressing, add more milk if you prefer thinner dressings. It will store for 7-9 days in the refrigerator.


Slice pears, toss in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in oven (300 degrees) for 10-15 minutes or until they are soft.

Toss torn lettuce and radicchio with salad dressing. Toss in shredded cabbage.

Sprinkle top of salad with sliced veggies and warm roasted pears.

Eat while hot.

The contrast between the warm roasted pears and the chill vegetables is as enticing as the flavors of the veggies, dairy and fruit combined.



My Cats Cause the Sneeze; My Cats are Terrified of the Sneeze

Ironic isn’t it? I insist on being a cat owner (or owned by a cat?) even though I’m allergic. I bonded with my first cat, Morris (yes, he was orange, long haired, and had a tail that curled over his back), when I was an infant. Since that time I have rarely gone more than 6 months without a cat… and namely that time consists of the 3 summer contracts I worked in Antarctica while my grandparents cared for my beautiful pure white, longhaired Pearl. She was my sea treasure (literally–she spent the first three years of her life living on my 40′ wooden sailboat WoodRose <–isn’t she beautiful? I miss that old boat, I wish I had been able to keep her.). My grandparents kept Pearl, and she still lives with them today, much happier with unlimited grass and plentiful birds to hunt.

I have two cats now. If you’ve interacted with me on facebook you’ll surely know how important they are to me. The shame of it all is that I can’t resist cat belly. You’ve seen the pose right? A pudgy cat sprawled on the floor with all paws pointing at the ceiling? My cats know this will get my attention and occasionally I stick my face smack into their belly and “blow bubbles”. I have done this since I was a wee child, although Morris wasn’t as tolerant as SAM and Cleo are. He would stick all twenty of his claws into my skull at least 50 times per minute until I managed to pull away screaming. But, I still did it again and again. Slow learner eh?

My cats might be more gentle, but over the past ten years I’ve developed an allergic reaction to cats. It’s entirely unfair and I refuse to capitulate. Which means sometime I have days where I sneeze every couple of minutes and require a box of tissue remain within reach.

AND… all that really has nothing to do with what I intended to share with you tonight. Other than the fact that my eyes are red, they itch, and I’m sneezing uncontrollably at the moment. Oh, and did I mention that my cats both run and hide when I sneeze? LOL. *shrug*

Today has been a pretty excellent day. I have been rejuvenated and reminded *why* I chose to come to Hollywood. I spent almost the entire day at work storyboarding a movie idea. I love writing, I write every day (typically in my journal). Sometimes I’m in a hurry and pay little attention to grammar. Sometimes I focus on the minute and write very little. But I write every day. It’s fulfilling in a way.

When I was a teen on my own in the great Port Townsend, I often frequented the Boiler Room: a brilliant place created by and for teens. I wrote every day then too, and I colored alongside my writing with oil pastels. I used to make very beautiful journals. One day I wrote something very personal and very revealing in my journal. I had a dream that night that I had left my journal at the Boiler Room. I ran the 5 miles into town to retrieve it. There I found some of the “older” kids I looked up to reading my journal (note that one of my highschool friends is now married to the boy who spoke to me in my dream). I requested the return of my property and was told that “Writers only write so that someone will read their thoughts.”

That dream has remained poignant throughout my life. Why do I write? Why am I compelled to write this blog? Surely no-one is interested in these mundane details of my life other than myself? Do my stories matter to anyone else? Why on earth would I go to college and study writing?

There is only one answer: Because that’s just who I am. I may not astound you every day. I may not astound myself every day. But I will spend every day doing something that I love, even if it’s only 30 minutes before I turn my bedside lamp off. I am thankful that I have paper and ink to compose my thoughts daily.

Okay. So back to the story. Today I spent the entire day storyboarding with a coworker. We’re coming up with a movie idea that we’ll pitch to Roger on Thursday when he returns from his family vacation in Cabo San Lucas. What started with an awkward religious terrorism plot (created by another writer) will transform into something a bit more sci-fi. We’ll see if Justin and I are allowed to take our treatment to the next level (the screenplay) or if our storyline will once again be handed off to another writer.

I respect Roger and the industry. But I am acutely aware of the pain in watching a story you create be altered and sometimes destroyed by another writer’s pen. My advice to myself: stick with it girl and one of these days your story will be told by you.

3 Months, 1 New Year and a Glass of Chamomile Tea

Either big happenings tend to converge at once or big happenings all converge at once.

The holidays were not particularly joyful this year, instead they felt relentlessly pointed. Pointed like a brand new ice-pick.

But somehow the bad is always coupled with the good, which causes a confusing interaction emotionally.

I could say everything started on October 6th, when my father’s heart consumed the last of its beats. Or was it October 5th when my father’s sister closed her eyes for the last time… from cancer. But for me it all started a couple of decades ago when my mother and father conceived me. I don’t remember this of course, but somehow everything seems to feel shiny, exciting and new, but also rusty and unstable. It must be the yin and yang of life and death.

Thanksgiving was a fiasco. For years I’ve been preparing it myself, then this year we were invited to Mark’s brother’s home for the holiday. I had a bit of a control issue, wanting to cook, but also being a guest in another person’s home. You see, I have traditions. They make me feel like I’m home with my family even when they’re states away… or somewhere in heaven.

Of course, Thanksgiving never happened this year. Two days before-hand Mark’s father became extremely ill. We spent the entire Thanksgiving holiday (around 6 dyas) sitting in the LA VA keeping him company and starving. You see, he was in for gastrointestinal issues. He couldn’t eat or drink for 9 days. So it would have been rude of us to eat in front of him, or to have Thanksgiving dinner (which we cancelled). The day after Thanksgiving the doctors told us he had colon cancer and they opted to do the surgery the next day rather than wait for lab results to return. When the surgeons are in a hurry to bypass procedure, you realize how severe the situation is. Luckily, the surgery went well, and Rae is currently undergoing chemotherapy for stage 3C colon cancer. He has a 40% chance of complete recovery (surviving more than 5 years). We are all very optimistic, and happy that he was able to get out on the golf course last week.

Oh, my birthday happened somewhere in that VA hospital week, but it was hardly worthy of celebration in light of the circumstances.

I stayed in LA for Christmas. This was assured to be better than Thanksgiving, and it was. At least, nobody else in my family was diagnosed with cancer or any other life threatening disease. Although, Mark did bring two truckloads of “my stuff” down to me that week. Some of this stuff has been in storage for more than 6 years. It’s completely cluttered my apartment, and I’ve only gone through a few boxes, found a few forgotten memories and a found few items for goodwill.

Christmas night Mark and I drove through Simi Valley after leaving his brother’s home. We looked at Christmas lights in some of the foothills. There were many lovely displays, and many that were mediocre as well, but all were entertaining and cheerful.

It wasn’t until we left Simi Valley that my car overheated. It took us 2 hours to drive 5 miles. We would drive two blocks, then stop to let it cool down for about 5 minutes. What a way to spend Christmas night eh?

And here comes the good news…

I was sick and tired of repairing my car. I did that math and realized it was costing me $500/month. Rather than perform more repairs, I went car shopping. It only took one day of looking at “new-used” cars to convince me I needed something new. And I got a stellar deal at my local Honda dealer. Thank you for the 5 weeks I spent in China a few years ago. 5 weeks on your own in that country will teach you how to negotiate. It’s not just what you say, it’s your body language and facial expressions.

So now I’m driving a brand new Honda Civic Hybrid. I love it. Gas mileage is great and the handling is pretty good. It’s not *easy* going from a BMW to a hybrid. There’s definitely a difference in pick-up, but I’m happy to take the reduction in gas and maintenance costs.

So, all in all it’s been pretty good.

This past Wednesday I made a nice dinner. I’ve recently signed up for a CSA. It’s part of my new year’s resolution-I’ll eat more fruit and veggies, and more variety. I eat a lot of veggies, but I tend to eat the same ones day in and out. It’s really the only reason I signed up for the CSA. It’s only $30/week (about what I spend on fruit/veggies anyway), but they deliver it, it’s organic, and I get whatever they give me. This forces me to try new foods and eat things I haven’t eaten before. It also gives me the opportunity to spend more time in my kitchen. I’ve always loved cooking. Now it’s a way for me to de-stress from work. I work all the time these days. I work online for Roger, I am running his eBay store (7 days/week), and I write freelance articles for two different companies. As much as I love my computer and my online community, the device has began to feel more like work and less like play. So the kitchen is a great place for me to get away and become more healthy.

To be honest, I’ve made nice dinners all week. Attractive as well as tasty. Wednesday I made leek risotto and something else I don’t recall. Mark and I shared a bottle of Sophia Champagne (Coppola of course). And I had a good solid breakdown while cooking and singing out loud to James Taylor’s ‘You’ve Got a Friend’. Sometimes I realize that Dad’s gone. He’s really gone. And even though I have that voicemail saved, where he tells me he loved me, it feels weird to listen to it. I’ve got to figure out how to save that before AT&T decides to automatically delete old voicemails. Anyway… that was 3 months since he’d passed, and the first time I *felt* his presence for a long time.

And I am reminded of death while consuming live organic fresh things. This weeks CSA included: bartlett pears, fuji apples, minneola tangerines, a sweet onion, leeks, red chard, red leaf lettuce, cauliflower, radicchio, and carrots.

Mmmmmm… did I mention it’s organic?

These holidays need a jumpstart

Endoscopic image of colon cancer identified in...

Image of colon cancer

The past two months have been trying. My Aunt passed two months ago, and my father two months ago tomorrow. I moved into a new apartment and settled into my official job. I’ve worked insane hours and spent very little time enjoying life.

Two weeks ago I celebrated another birthday (we need not count how many I’ve had). Then Thanksgiving came along… kind of. Although I had a four day weekend, Mark’s father wound up in the VA and we spent the entire holiday sitting by his bed and keeping him company. There is never a dull moment around Rae, he has a joke for every subject… And some of them are even funny.

Rae was diagnosed with Stage 3C colon cancer and celebrated his 80th birthday in the VA without a spot of food or drink. He went without eating for 10 days. 10 days! I stopped to visit him yesterday and he told me he’d just been given his first meal. His eyes twinkled with joy as he described the meatloaf, mashed potatoes, the tiny carton of milk and how he wasn’t able to finish the cherry pie. Think about it. There you are, excited to eat a thanksgiving feast with your family, but instead you spend almost two weeks in a hospital (which, I SWEAR they mop with urine… the entire facility reeks) and in a lot of pain.

We never did have a Thanksgiving dinner. I don’t know if it’s that, or the bombardment of bad news that has drained the holidays of cheer. Maybe it’s my pure exhaustion. I can only speculate that this will be reparable by inserting a christmas tree into my living room and decorating it with lights and trinkets from years past. The coming weeks will tell.

This holiday season, for me, is about family near or far, and my hopes that Rae will have the opportunity to join the ranks of cancer survivors.

The New Diggs: Or, Cribs of the Hollywood Wannabes

I finally have my living room mostly unpacked. Although, I have a TV coming next week, so I’ll be rearranging everything then. But since you’ve asked for photos, I thought I’d sit by my fire, sip my wine, and upload. This place is really nice for my budget, and I’m in a really great location in Sherman Oaks. I can literally walk or jog to the gym in the morning, and there are dozens of great places to eat and shop (including groceries–organic or not) within a block. But, what I really love about my new place, is that while I’m just next door to Hollywood and LA, and right downtown Sherman Oaks, it feels like I’m tucked away in the woods. For me, this is not quite as good as the cabin way out in the mountains, but while I’m trying to build my career, it will not only suffice, it will be pleasant.

And now, the tour you’ve been waiting for:

The entry and Kitchen

I might have said this before, but why do you have to BUY your own refrigerators for apartments in LA? I splurged and got a side-by-side with an ice/water dispenser. You can’t see it in this image, but that’s okay, because you can’t see my disorganized counters either (I haven’t figured out where everything goes yet).

The bookshelves, aka the "dining room"

So this would be the dining room, if I had a table and chairs. But I can’t recall the last time I ate at a table… oh, maybe it was when I went to lunch with my coworkers earlier this week. Obviously I haven’t hung my art yet. I still don’t have a hammer or nails… one of these days I’ll drive the 5.7 miles to home depot.

The FIREPLACE!!! and desk (soon to be entertainment area)

You can see my fireplace here. This was a major selling point for me. I LOVE a REAL fireplace… but in a California city with heavy environmental ordinances, a gas fireplace is the best I can do. (At least it isn’t super messy, and I don’t have to chop wood!). Beyond the desk is my sliding glass doors and the balcony–another important feature to the apartment. Luckily I’m on the 3rd floor, so I can let my cats go outside without worrying about where they are. It’s not quite as good (by a long shot) as the big yard they’ve had for the past 4.5 years, but it’s better than being cooped up in a small apartment.

Patio furniture, thanks to a good friend

They take up a lot of room, but they’re cozy and I spend a lot of time out here reading in this lovely California climate.

The great maple tree

Honestly, this tree has nothing on the maple tree that I used to play in as a child at my Grandparent’s home. BUT it is a big beautiful tree right outside my balcony and bedroom window. It was the ONE detail that made me fall in love with this apartment. There is no other room in this building that would have pleased me as much as this one, with this fabulous tree out front. Oh, and have I mentioned that I’m in a corner unit?

The lounge

A place to write, read, think, cry… whatever is needed. I spend a lot of time right there. Thank you Beulah for the couch, your kindness was sorely needed at the time and remains a centerpiece to our home. You are not forgotten.

Dad and memories

These are the most important things in my apartment. And most likely, they would be overlooked by any thief. I LOVED this photo my sister took of my father and stepmother several years ago. It’s been on my fridge, unframed and enjoyed for years… until Dad died last month when I framed the photo. In front there is an Erebus crystal that I gave to him after my first year in Antarctica. He kept that crystal in his pocket for years and used it as a rubbing stone. One side of it is polished from his fingers. Holding this rock, among other things, has brought more tears than anything else. I brought on my first “real” cry becuase I realized that every time he rubbed that rock he was thinking of me. Beside the rock is my keepsake urn. It’s small, it fits in the palm of my hand, and holding it is almost as special as holding the erebus crystal. And… then there’s my best friend. My journal.  I’m halfway through and just started it a few months ago. Lots of laughter, frustration, and tears spilled in that little notebook.

Welcome to my home. No, I will not be posting photos of my messy bathroom and unpacked bedroom. Someday maybe…

Re-writing that Script; Is it Plagiarism or Ingenuity?

Roger Corman

Image by Air Force One via Flickr

As I stood in the DVD library at work today, I thought to myself… what would it be like to have produced more than 500 movies in your lifetime? Do you stand amidst a library of your creations and feel accomplished, or do you, like any good writer does, always feel like your work wasn’t as good as it could have been? There was this one detail that could have been different. Does the completion of movie #501 feel as good as #25, #100, or even #300?

The Master filmmaker’s smiles are filled with memories

One of the treats of working for Roger Corman is hearing stories about something that happened on set with a movie. Roger actually remembers every movie he’s created. Even amidst a stressful or busy day he will sit back and tell a story about how the greatest cowboy movie of all time was a straight rip-off of the movie “Mutiny on the Bounty.” He loves stories like this. And I love watching as he sheds his troubles and the years to journey back and touch the story of a movie he created back in 1973… years before I was even born.

It’s not plagiarism, it’s brilliance…

This mixture of creativity and ingenuity adds flavor to the film industry. And the best thing about Roger’s stories is that each one is a lesson about how to accomplish something. Roger never comes outright and says, don’t be afraid to take the plot points of one movie and convert them into something entirely different. That’s part of the business, and it takes creativity to turn a movie about men fighting on a ship into a story about cowboys herding cattle. It happens in every form of art, really. There’s nothing you can create that isn’t some sort of reflection of the inputs.

And let’s not forget the bottom line in Hollywood. Art is great, but money is better.

The Days Drift Along


One month ago my father, Marvin Torbert, died unexpectedly of a heart attack. He was 58 years old.


Dad and his truck ... holidays 2009

Just typing those two sentences brings tears to my eyes and myriad emotions and thoughts flood through my mind. I cried for the first time this past month. REALLY cried. I heard the pain in my tears and thought to myself, in the midst of the greatest cry of my life, that “this is what grief sounds like… I should write it down so that I’ll remember.” Well, I didn’t write it down, but I still remember.

There are many things I remember. And I haven’t written a blog this month because there are so many things I want to say.

I miss my father. I miss hearing his voice, watching him laugh, and waiting to hear the next joke he comes up with. My father was a prankster and I have always been an easy target for his jokes. Even as an adult I was so serious I would get wrapped up in his joke before he revealed that he was tricking me. As a child I would swear he’d wouldn’t “get” me the next time, but he always did, even as I entered adulthood. I think of him and I smile.

You may recall that my last blog entry discussed my Aunt Sissy and her final moments with Stage 4 Cancer. I also announced that my sister had just given birth to a beautiful baby girl. Between life and death and my recent success I was emotionally confused. My Aunt Sissy died two days later, October 5th at 2pm. My father died just 12 hours after his sister on October 6th at 2am. They died just twelve hours apart. And two years ago in October their brother, my Uncle Mike, also died at 2pm of a heart attack. Speaking of heart disease, my grandfather on my father’s side died young of heart disease, Uncle Mike and Dad both died of heart attacks, and Aunt Sissy survived one. I think I may need to keep an eye on my own little blood pump.

When my stepmother called to tell me that my Dad had died, my first reaction was “that’s not funny.” In hindsight, there have been moments where recalling that morning has made me laugh out loud. Maybe it was Dad’s final joke. Gotcha! Dad’s sense of  humor would fall right along those lines. His dog (who lived to be 27) was named Gitcho as in: “Get Your Ass Over Here” and when I was young we had a pure-breed stallion who Dad registered under the name “This Ain’t Alpo”, we called him Al for short (FYI: at that time dog food contained horse meat).

After getting that dreaded phone call, against the advice of everyone I knew and my own best judgement, I drove 5.5 hours from LA to San Jose. While much of that drive was not only flooded with my tears, but also the heaviest rain I had seen in months, I felt my father’s presence keeping me in my lane. My father was a truck driver, and he was proud of his job. He almost applied to be an Ice Road Trucker this year, but discovered that he would have to drive for the company for two years first, and didn’t feel like making that big of a commitment. Just last Christmas I told Dad that I wanted to “one of these years” be his trucking partner and drive long hauls cross-country with him.  He didn’t really react (I think the thought of being in the same vehicle while I was driving might have terrified him).

I have hundreds of memories with Dad, I keep them in a treasure box in my mind where I take them out and polish them often. His absence has torn a hole in my life. And I know that as the years go by that hole will mend, but a scar will always remain. I think, for now, the most difficult thing is realizing every day that I can’t call him anymore.

Dad and me at graduation June 2010

Rest in peace Dad. I love you.