I am anxiously awaiting the final galley of Conquering Venus from Vanilla Heart. This galley will be a last minute check for formatting, making sure the errors from the last galley were properly corrected and that acknowledgement pages are in order. I have been slowly working on building Conquering Venus its own blog, and it will now debut Aug. 1. There will be exclusive photos, poems, content and more on this blog.
While waiting for the final galley, I spent more than 12 hours (8 of those in a marathon on Friday) working on the sequel to Venus. This was a combination of rewrites and new scenes. I'm pretty damn happy with it. On Saturday night, I was positively giddy. I always listen to music when I'm writing, and the soundtrack for the weekend came courtesy of Swing Out Sister. They are as vital now as they were more than 20 years ago, with their new album, Beautiful Mess, one of the best jazz/pop albums I've heard in ages. Swing Out Sister inspired the title of my first poetry collection, Better To Travel, and here they are again giving me joy and inspiration, especially with the song/video posted above, "Waiting Game," from 1989's Kaleidoscope World. The lively melody -- and gorgeous shots of Paris -- belie the lyrics, which are quite melancholy. Thanks to Corinne and Andy, if you happen to read this.
On the Fourth of July, I went to dinner and a movie with Cleo Creech to see the new Woody Allen movie, Whatever Works. I didn't have high hopes. His last two -- Cassandra's Dream and Vicky Cristina Barcelona -- didn't rank very high on my Woody-meter, but I'm a glutton for cinematic punishment. I am delighted to report that Whatever Works totally worked for me! Larry David was, naturally, channeling Woody, but the star of this movie is Patricia Clarkson. As a Bible-thumping, Mississippi-born socialite, she storms into the picture about halfway, and owns the rest of the movie. Her transformation to a wanton bohemian is hilarious. Kudos also goes to Ed Begley Jr. -- yeah, Ed Begely! -- as Clarkson's estranged husband, who takes his roughly 20 minutes on screen and mines comedy gold. After trotting off to London and Spain, Woody is back in his beloved Manhattan -- the stylized, mannered Manhattan that only exists in Allen's films. Allen has been making variations on the same plot (older, cremudgeon falls for beautiful, young woman and comedy/tragedy ensues) for 30-plus years, and while Whatever Works is far from his best work, it's a comforting throwback.