From Today's Washington Post, a nice article -
Samuel Snyder, 96; Broke Codes And Designed Early Computers
NY Times -
NY Times -
I'm leaving one shiva house for another. Today my grandfather died. Granpa Sam. My last remaining grandparent. First Miriam Borko, then Seth Palmer and now Sam Snyder. These deaths always come in 3's. My sister said to me yesterday that it must seem to me like I leave the East Coast and then something awful happens to a loved one. It doesn't just seem that way, it actually happens that way, unfortunately. Not to jinx my whole L.A. existence, but it IS an eerie pattern; one which I'd like to stop repeating immediately, please.
I picked up the flute because of my Grandpa Sam. And thought computers were cool because of him. And watched him surf the tsunami that was my Grandma Pat's personality. But that's just a fraction of my memories and love. 96 years of amazing gone.
There's just a lot of ache where Mim & Seth & Sam used to be. Sucky sucky week.
I took the red eye. I'm back East in the worst way possible. On Dec. 22 both my Great Aunt Mim and my good friend Seth died. Mim was just one day shy of her 92nd birthday and Seth was way too young fighting leukemia. Both their funerals are this morning, Xmas Eve. I wish I could attend both. I can't do either of them justice here; just to say I am heartbroken at the loss and grateful for the laughs, love and wisdom we shared. I hate the Mourner's Kaddish.
telling it from the gut...
This is my small contribution to the AWorkingWriter.com project. Much better if you check it out on the actual website. Watch Michael Seitzman, Jack Kenny, Dawn DeKeyser, Jessica Bendinger, and Eva Saks, too. (And some press from the Huffington Post, too...) And, although picketing is on hold through the holidays, don't forget to support, in whatever way you can, the striking WGA members and all the below-the-line folks who have been effected by the strike.
Happy Holidays, folks.
Today we walked, danced and cheered our way through 7 miles of Burbank/Toluca Lake studios. It's the most exercise I've had in a year! Our fearless leader Josh Singer kept the 70's tunes flowing, the supportive traffic kept on honking, and we kept putting one foot in front of another, making our way from one WGA-picketed gate to another. It was great to see my Team Jaguar peeps @ Universal Gate One! When my sweetie & I made it back to the car sweaty and spent, we could barely move. Thanks to all the folks along the way with water and treats. (And thanks to Drew Carey for picking up the breakfast tab this morning @ Bob's Big Boy!)
Today was a very visible and vocal show of support, but yesterday I participated in a film project spearheaded by Maria Maggenti and Michael Seitzman called AWorkingWriter.com, that, while more understated, is no less critical to the fight for visibility of writers. Check it out in the coming days to see me and several others talk about what it means to be a working writer. Hey, that's what I moved all the way across the country to do, right? Write.
Jodie Foster Comes Out - sort of...
She thanked her life partner, co-parent to her children. That's what you're supposed to do at awards shows. I'm supposed to yawn. This shouldn't be a news story. Am I post-gay, yet? Too bad the rest of the world isn't.
I did my time at Universal, then drove over to my own 'hood of H-wood, to represent as an Indie writer. Above pics from today's Independent Writers Caucus rally at Paramont aka Indie Film Gate. My sweetie & I will be lacing up our sneakers for the Striker's Studio Walk-a-thon on Monday!
That's Maria Maggenti & I braving the cold shadow of NBC/Universal on the WGA picket line. It was my first day walking the walk, and I was greeted by the enthusiastically jaded writers of "Team Jaguar" headed by strike captain John Gatins. Buoyed by holiday fliers printed-up and delivered by Justine Bateman (see her Speechless entry below w/her brother Jason), we tramped across the front entrance to Universal City, taking pictures with tourists from China, Australia & Texas. Being a WGA babe, I just soaked up stories from the vets about the last strike, various TV & film set debacles and home lives disrupted indefinitely by the strike. Tomorrow brings Indie Film Gate @ Paramount. I've joined the union at an historic time, so it's time to help make some more history...
Coincidentally, while back in NYC last week, a friend working for Time Out New York asked what disappointed me most about the Big Apple this Holiday season. My answer made it into print here. (scroll down past Charles Busch and Seth Rudetsky...)
Flush with warm-fuzzies upon my East Coast return, I blurted out “Nothing much disappoints me about New York City. It’s still sooo much better than L.A.” I have to admit, I felt bad dissing LA for the first time since moving here (I'm back on the West Coast, now). Truth is, now that the subletters are moving into the NYC pad, Los Angeles is home for the next while, and my search to find something new each week to love about the City of Angles is on again.
Right now? Love my car. ;-)
New Yorker. - just spent my last night in my NYC pad for the next 2 years. (I miss it already.)
Aunt. - just created a play in one hour with my nieces and nephew which we performed 1.5 times in one night. (It was a hit.)
Writer. - just checked-in with my lead actress/producer after the 1st day of shooting in NYC on my latest script. (All went well.)
Daughter. - just shopped for provisions for my parents in the wake of an orthpaedic mishap. (Everyone will be OK.)
Peace Child. - just arrived at the 25th Anniversary Reunion of Peace Child (it's my 20th anniversary) and hung out with many old and far-away friends, like Ella & her daughter Dasha (pictured below) all the way from Moscow. Last time I saw Ella was in Baltimore in 1988, clutching my white graduation dress, in which she went on to get married. (Many more emotional reunions to come tomorrow...)
Just to name a few...
How many more people will I be tomorrow?
I'm not a celebrity, but I shadowed one last night. No, I'm not a stalker, either. I was just a humble volunteer for the awesome Point Foundation, which gives scholarships to underprivileged queer kids. It was an honor to help out. I was first assigned to uber-queer-friendly Judith Light, but she already had quite the entourage to cater to her needs, thus my services were redirected to shy and sweet T.R. Knight. I just made sure he was in the right place at the right time w/o too much interference.
I was impressed with the whole affair (esp the scholars), and happy to see friendly faces, like head-volunteer Kaki Flynn, AfterEllen's Dara Nai + gf Brooke, and the omnipresent JD DiSalvitore - sure to blog about the night with much better pictures than mine.
I've tried to disavow some of my geek heritage, mostly to claim a purely artistic path in this world. Truth be told, I have a rich personal history rooted in 1's and 0's, mine being just the latest in the family line. Today my grandpa Sam, that's Samuel S. Snyder, was inducted into the NSA Hall of Honor for his instrumental work in breaking the Japanese codes in WWII and developing one of the first computers for the government. My uncle Joel recounts it well here, with pictures.
I couldn't be more proud, Grandpa. [You saved the world, so I could blog about it. Thank you. ;-)]
From the official docs:
"MR. SAMUEL S. SNYDER made significant contributions to the development
of the modern computer, as we know it, as well as its specific
applications to cryptologic problems.
"Samuel Snyder began his career as an 'assistant cryptographic clerk'
with the U.S. Army's Signal Intelligence Service in 1936. He was one of
the first ten employees in that organization, which was a predecessor
to NSA. During World War II, he led large teams that exploited Japanese
"Noticing that use of sorting machines for cryptanalytic support was
haphazard, Snyder suggested a more systematic approach to William
Friedman, and Friedman tasked him with developing it. Snyder's
innovations made special-purpose devices a strong asset in rapid
wartime exploitation of enemy communications.
"After the war, Snyder carefully researched what was known about the
new field of computing and in 1952 was instrumental in designing and
building ABNER, a then-sophisticated computer that took advantage of
"During the 1950s, Snyder conducted in-house research and worked with
outside contractors to design and build three more powerful systems.
The last of these was HARVEST, one of the first general-purpose
computers. HARVEST greatly expanded NSA's computing capabilities, but
also had significant influence on the commercial computer market.
"In 1964 Snyder became an information systems specialist for the
Library of Congress and was one of the creators of the library's
Machine Readable Cataloging (MARC) system for bibliographic data. This
became an international standard for data sharing in research.
"Samuel Snyder's pioneering work in early computers led directly to the
development of the computer as we know it, and laid the foundation for
many aspects of the modern computing industry."
My sweetie modeled t-shirts as a fundraiser for a great documentary film THE QUEEN FROM VIRGINIA, about a Vietnamese refugee who wins the Ms. Virginia Senior America pageant. Message? We're all Beauty Queens; so go buy your t-shirt and wear it with pride!
Oh, and Dumbledore is gay (a whole other kind of queen)!
It was fabulous and hysterical and touching all at once...
My sweetie interns for the incredible gentlemen (Patrick Rush Casting) who put the amazing
"Best in Drag Show" shindig together, and it was an honor to be there
supporting their hard work. And as the crack sportswriter Kaki Flynn
puts it: since we "were four lesbians in a sea of thousands of gay men"
it was even more of a hoot, especially watching the celebrity judges
out-$-pledge Kathy Griffin to annoy her in the best way possible.
Sitting in the audience of the AID for AIDS benefit last night, tossing wadded-up dollar bills at drag queens and tearing up as check dedications like "In loving memory of my twin brother David" were read aloud from the stage, I realized that I hadn't attended an AIDS fund-raiser in person in years. If I'd written a dedication, there would be too many names to fit on the check. These events are always entertaining and always fun, and always tend to rip my heart out in the end.
My 20's are hitting me like a Mack truck lately; My salad days back in NYC, writing coming out plays off-off-Broadway, attending lesbian avenger kiss-in's, volunteering at GMHC, writing for Total New York, caring for my contemporaries with HIV and AIDS, discovering the City and myself and the outer boundaries of human suffering, cruelty and kindness. That was when I went to several AIDS benefits a week.
Guns have trigger locks; shouldn't memories? Some warning, at least - caution: emotions in mirror are closer than they appear.
Driving home from the benefit last night I realized how much I needed the literal change of perspective to L.A.. I had to break out of my comfort zone back East and scramble my point of view. It's a shame that it took all this heartache and money and frequent flier miles to figure it out. Can't wait to write NOW.
I spent the holiest day of the year contemplating my life while driving to the dealership to get my 5,000 mile tune-up. It had been 316 days since I "moved" to L.A. In quotes because I've been in the Jet Blue NeverNeverLand of bicoastal limbo for most of those moons.
All the milestones of Los Angeles - getting a car, an apartment, a writing gig - didn't wed me to this place like I thought they would. Then I thought "Once my girlfriend and cat join me out West, THEN I'll really be here." But packing up my NYC apartment to sublet two weeks ago was a terribly final act. Now each trip East will be a visit, not to "Home." The day we left with packed bags felt like the true Yom Kippur. I surveyed the eerily empty space and thought of the loved ones lost, the loved ones ill, the loved ones far away and the amends I need to make. During the High Holy Days I write up a list, New Year's resolutions of sorts. This year I scribbled mine, behind schedule, while sitting in Toyota of Orange's service waiting room.
I began 5768 with family and the big move, only to fall down en route to an important meeting and be whisked away in an ambulance. I'm not a fan of hospitals, but at least nothing was broken and I got a nifty pair of crutches that my sweetie insisted I actually use.
Immobile on the couch, I got a chance to catch up on Tivo and contemplate being inscribed in the Book of Life for the coming year. Mostly, I just prayed that my ailing friends and family recover and return to life in all senses. And that no more of my beloved pets would perish in the near future. It's been a bumpy 5,000+ miles.
You know what was at the end of this stormy Yom Kippur? A freakin' rainbow over the 101. Now THAT'S the way to start off the year right.
It's happened again. This performing thing. Since virtually all theater geeks start out on the stage, and I'm a theater geek (Broadway Musical Theater Geek, no less), it seems inevitable that I'd wind up singing (well, lip-syncing) and dancing (yes, me dancing) in a musical. It's not unprecedented, but certainly surprising, given that I moved to L.A. to write films, that I'd be playing Iceman (Val Kilmer - that's me on the left, a little more butch than usual) in a short musical spoof of TOP GUN. It'll be a trailer for the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, directed by David Quantic and scored & choreographed by a gaggle of talented guys. It's truly a hoot. No doubt inspired by this gay recut of the original TOP GUN's trailer here...
This week I've been editing clips of my lovely and talented gf for her reel, but it occurs to me, that I could probably string together a few hysterical bits for my reel, if I had one. And this would now be the featured clip, as I'm one of the "stars." OK, writing that just makes me crack up. I'm sure I was like the 4th or 5th choice, considering I'm uncoordinated and there is quite a lot of dancing going on - behind me, to make me look good. So nice of those very talented and trained triple threats to back a ham like me.
As I told the director, I'm just happy to support queer film, esp anything musical. I haven't been such a goof since... since... playing an uncoordinated dancing dyke in LESBIANS: the music video.
How appropriate that I worked at NewFest, then Outfest, and will be seen onscreen at Seattle L&G FF. I'm just doing the queer film circuit again, in a manner of speaking. I'll post screening/viewing info when it becomes available.
OK, so I was sitting here at my computer trying to do some rewrites. OK, so I was sitting here researching making a homemade in-car camera-mount. OK, so I was watching car-mounted video online. OK, so I was sitting here at my computer when my first real L.A. earthquake rolled through, shoving my chair around the office and nearly bonking my head with a falling lamp. Blaaaaaa!!!
Like any good geek, I logged on to the US Geological Survey Earthquake Hazards Program and found that I'd just experienced a 4.5 local magnitude shock from an epicenter about 25 miles away in Chatsworth.
Now, I lived through a much more violent 5.5 quake in Hiroshima, Japan back in 1989, that literally shook me out of bed and buckled the local roads. (OK, so it didn't help that I was still slightly drunk from the opening night party a few hours prior...) It was then that I swore never to move to a geographically unstable part of the world, so, of course I set up house in Los Angeles. Not that New York City was such a disaster-free zone, esp considering the flooded subways and Brooklyn Tornado this week...
I'm just saying, in an already not-my-favorite day, capping it off with an earthquake just before bed does not add to the favorability factor. Makes me glad I was paranoid about assembling an emergency preparedness kit. I know it's only the transplanted East Coasters who do it, much to the non-challance and slight dismay of native Angelenos, but I think it's money well-spent for a little peace of mind.
And now I'm off to try and get some shaky sleep.
Another person close to my heart is getting some exposure: my Sweetie Sonora stars in a short film called "BPS." It's a top ten finalist in the 72 Hour Shootout and
the AZN (Asian Network) has posted all 64 entries for the audience
favorite award. They were nominated for best screenplay and most original screenplay.
Help make them the audience favorite by voting for them HERE!
Me? I'm underexposed as of late... ;-)
Outfest 2006 Screenwriting Lab Fellows (minus Luther Mace) reunited.
(Seb, Dasha, Sam & Isaac)
In the past 2 weeks I've received invites to my 15th college reunion, 20th high school reunion and Peace Child 25th reunion. That means I've lived a lot, to be tapped for so many great adventures' legacies. But a shorter, sweeter reunion happened yesterday: 1 year ago 5 writers/filmmakers gathered at the Chateau Marmont with 5 mentors and a gaggle of talented and wisened folks to make our scripts better. 4 of the 5 fellows showed up to a public reading of one of those scripts, and a chat & chew following. I'm proud to be an alumni of all.
Yes, I am devastated to have given up my decade-long New York Liberty season subscription upon my move to Los Angeles this year.
Yes, I Tivo all their televised games on NBA TV.
Yes, I wore my Liberty jersey to the Staples Center tonight to root them on in the midst of some annoyed Sparks fans (and some supportive unaffiliated friends).
Yes, I am very proud of the 80 to 68 win they pulled off on this Western road trip.
Yes, I am actually considering getting a Sparks subscription to get my bball fix. "Sounds crazy, no? But in this little town of Anatev - I mean, LA. - you might say everyone of us is a fan of the WNBA, trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple game without breaking her bank. It isn't easy. You may ask: Why do we keep going if it's so poorly attended? We go because women's basketball is our own. And how do we keep to our budget? That I can tell you in one word: Subscription!"
I just passed the CA written driver's test. And registered to vote in CA. And registered to donate my organs and tissue should the whole driving and voting in the Golden State thing turn tragic. I have been dreading this day, getting a hole punched through my beloved NY state driver's license, invalidating my Eastern credentials. I'm only slightly heartened by the fact that the CA state reptile is the desert tortoise (gopherus agassizi), easing my transition by way of fond turtle memories of Esmerelda. Although most folks drive hare-like, here...
Here are the rules...
1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose 4 people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.
FYI: I did this exercise already back in March of '06, but my answers have changed over time. Plus, how can I ignore a tag from my girlfriend?
1.This is my South Park self:
2. I get migraines sometimes:
3. This is where I grew up:
4. These are my newest niece and nephew:
5. I feel guilty that they're gone:
6. I miss these ladies:
7. I love turtles:
8. I had been wearing these same clothes for 3 days straight:
"A word is a thing. It is non-visible and audible only for the time it's there. It hangs in the air. But I believe it is a thing. I believe it goes into the upholstery, and into the rugs, and into my hair and into my clothes. Finally, even into my body. I believe that words are things. And I live on them."
I just needed some inspiration. I always find it in the words of Dr. Angelou - be they extemporaneous, prose, poem or song.
Off to write some more...
It's late. I should be in bed. I'll be there soon. Just can't stop being proud.
It took 4 emails, 3 phone calls, 3 trips to various hardware and plumbing supply stores, 2 pipe adapters, 1 wrench, 1 towel, 1 cut thumb and much determination to install the CatGenie for the impending arrival of my big sweet cat in LA. Don't laugh; a self-cleaning litter box that flushes itself down the toilet is a G-dsend, especially in a small space. I won't miss scooping and smelling the box, but mostly I'm thrilled to be spared the dust that litter dumps all over my apartment and lungs. I am Super Cat Mom.
I also assembled small furniture pieces, cleaned my apartment, finally got paid for an old job and got a new writing gig. And that's just today, just me. My sweetie got an acting gig, too. I'm so proud of her anyway, for everything, really. Pride doesn't feel like a sin today. It just feels good.
For the 10th time in about two weeks someone who I've never met has tried to guilt me into some action. Tonight it was a follow-up on a friend request on myspace. I happen to be obscenely busy at the moment, and this person, who I'm sure is a wonderful human being and worthy of friends/rewards/success in her life and whom I have never had face-to-face or even online contact before, sent me a message basically trying to guilt me into adding her as a friend. Now, that generally makes me want to deny the request, but I replied honestly with my jam-packed life details and said I'd reconsider. Here I am reconsidering; I feel guilty enough that I don't get to spend enough time with my girlfriend and family and real-world friends, let alone with myself, so online guilt trips from strangers just don't rank in comparison. Sorry. Call me a virtual bitch, but that's how my loyalties shake out at the moment. If I'd been asked for advice, I probably would have carved out the time to reply from my precious limited supply. But for a rebuke? Forget it.
On a brighter note, the things I'm busy with are writing jobs. And I think I've figured out how to be in the same place at the same time as my sweetie, and even some of my family. ;-) L.A. is looking up, now that it's not burning a mile away from my apartment.
I am sad to see it go: Dyke TV is off the airwaves for good. (Who knows how long that link will work...?)
I watched Dyke TV from its ambitious riotous start because I came out of the closet at the same time as this amazing television venture was hitting the public access airwaves in NYC. I learned how to be a lesbian by watching (my herstory, the lesbian avengers' escapades, queer filmmakers, politics, news, I was a lesbian child, trans issues), and came to love it for so much more.
Dyke TV is the place where I learned basic camera work and Final Cut Pro; I made fantastic friends and launched a film career. "The D Word" was born at a producer's meeting. While I was only involved for a short time, the organization and people gave back to me threefold what I contributed. For that, I'll be forever grateful.
Where else are you going to get "Television to Incite, Subvert, Provoke, and Organize!" ?
R.I.P. Dyke TV
So much has been happening lately, lets just go mostly with the pictures, since I'm short on the 1,000+ words to describe it all.
This is a view from inside the new building at MICA (Maryland Institute College of the Arts) on opening night of the MD Film Festival. Dig the onlooking reflected posters.
Why the inside of MICA? Because of these three gentlemen:
Leon Fleisher, Dr. Daniel Drachman and Nathaniel Kahn - all key players in the making of "Two Hands," which was one of the opening night shorts.
This trip back had happy things: the MD Film Fest and visiting family, like my cousin Emerie, who is doing a rousing job staring in the ensemble of Arena Stage's "The Heidi Chronicles."
And my two sweeties together:
It also had sad things, like the memorial for my beloved theater professor Joe Patenaude.
This is the door to Joe's office at Drew University.
This is some of my fellow theatre arts alumni - notice how they taught half of us to keep our eyes closed for the photograph.
My favorite republican, Gov. Tom Kean & I... The first student show he saw as prez was my first play, "Gaijin." We've had a mutual admiration society going on ever since.
It was healing, though, to walk on the campus again and see the beautiful new Arts building - of which I'm totally jealous (we had to rough it in The Commons, a blackbox, and Bowne, a converted gymnasium).
From Drew's college in the forest, to Baltimore's oddities...
Filling up on the East Coast to last me a while on the West.