Weekend Wrap-Up

I’m coming off a solid weekend–seriously solid. Even better, it started early, on Thursday when I met up with fellow Harlequin author Wendy Etherington for drinks and then a Nascar-sponsored concert at the Hard Rock. Wendy writes for Harlequin’s Nascar-themed series, and she rolled into town to take part in the Nascar cross-promotional festivities, including a book signing. What I know about Nascar, about racing period, could fit into a thimble with room to spare. Fortunately for me Wendy is a fab teacher, and I’m a quick study. And having music mega-star Gavin DeGraw play a private concert for Nascar royalty and well, us in the Hard Rock’s auditorium while we stood stageside was well, way cool.

Gavin DeGraw at the Hard Rock.
Gavin DeGraw at the Hard Rock.

Next stop on the Fun Train: Kennedy’s, an iconic Midtown Irish pub and restaurant, for Romance Writers of America/NYC’s annual holiday brunch. Over eggs and mimosas, I caught up with Scandalous Woman and outgoing RWA/NYC prez, Elizabeth Kerri Mahon, Dee Davis, and others, including one member’s adorable four-month old baby, Jack.

A quick refresh, including “costume” change, and then it was back out to the Upper West Side’s Dive Bar for bookseller buddy, Stacey Agdern’s birthday. The putin–a heap of fries layered with gravy and topped with lots of gloppy good melted cheese–was delish and the cosmo wasn’t bad, either.

EKM and Moi put on the glitz at The Dive Bar.
EKM and Moi put on the glitz at The Dive Bar.

I departed the Dive Bar with the Rebels of Romance, Liz Maverick and Marianne Mancusi amidst the season’s first snow. Even wearing open-toed platform pumps–what was I thinking?–I found myself getting caught up in Liz’s winter wonderland enthusiasm. Still, by the time we reached our next stop, The Brass Monkey in the uber trendy Meatpacking District, I was more than happy to settle inside, have a drink, and thaw.

Soon it was time to move on again to the signature event of the night, The Bowie Ball at Santos Party House in Tribeca. Named after glitter rock legend David Bowie, the ball is an homage to the 1980’s music and fashion scene. Between sets of classic 80’s dance tunes, we took in the stage show where drag queens, retro bands, and burlesque dancers literally rocked the house.

Today, Sunday, I dialed it down a notch and attended the New York Public Library’s holiday open house. The library is always lovely, but decked out in holiday splendor it was positively breathtaking. Face painting, puppet show, stilt walkers, and costumed actors kept kids of all ages thoroughly entertained. Music provided by groups such as the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and a Santa suited brass band put us all in the holiday spirit.

Holiday goodness at the New York Public Library.
Holiday goodness at the New York Public Library.

On the way home, I squeezed in some not-so-early Christmas shopping and then stopped in at one of my favorite restaurants for a glass of vino and a bowl of lobster bisque. Finally it was home again where hungry cats and neglected fictional characters awaited me.

What cool stuff did you do this weekend?

Merry merry, happy happy,


Blissed Out on the Buzz…

Winter’s here, I’m telling you, and for those of us who are solidly outdoor runners–I loathe treadmills–this whole plunging mercury thing makes running rather a challenge. On my last windchapped outing a few days ago, I came to grips with the cold (literally), hard fact that strappy just wasn’t cutting it. Running along the Hudson wasn’t going to happen again for me until spring, it just wasn’t, so I’d better come up with a seasonal alternative and fast.

For kicks, why not run up to Central Park, around said Park, and then back?

The Pond at Bryant Park.
Skaters enjoying The Pond at Bryant Park.

The deal buster in my plan was Midtown. To get to CP, you gotta go through–there. You see, I detest crowds–and yes I realize that sounds crazy coming from someone who moved to Manhattan on purpose even. But it’s true, which is why ordinarily I avoid Midtown like well, the proverbial plague. Problem was, I was desperate, jones-ing for that Runner’s High. Unfortunately, off-hours in the Big Apple are hard to come by. With the city decked out for the upcoming holidays, checking out Midtown wasn’t just my good idea. The sidewalks were thronged, three-deep, making me feel like I was in some sort of virtual reality pinball machine. At times, I just had to give up the ghost and walk it. So much for my much anticipated endorphin boost.

But, mes enfants, when given the lemons, sometimes it is best to make the lemonade, or in this case, the holiday lemon curd…

Rather than gnashing my teeth and vocalizing some very non-brotherly love type expletives every time my shoulders got bumped, which was a lot, I decided to dial it down and just go with it. Smell, if not the roses, then the vendor hotdogs and roasted chestnuts.

Manhattan decked out for the holidays is truly a sight to behold. Fortunately I had my trusty Blackberry tucked into my runner’s arm band and I used the camera of said BB to snap some photos.

First stop: The New York Public Library. After paying my respects to Patience and Fortitude, I ran up the library steps Rocky style just because I could. Duly oxygen deprived (hmm, perhaps source of aforementioned Runner’s High isn’t endorphins at all) I circled back behind to Bryant Park. Not much running there given the temporary buildings set up for winter but fortunately lots of good photo ops. There’s even a small skating rink called The Pond. After watching for a while, I think I like this one better than Rockefeller Center’s. Not as grand for sure but somehow it just seems more friendly, more approachable. Then again, maybe I’m influenced by the signage: “The Perfect Antidote to the 9 to 5.” I haven’t had a 9 to 5 job in years, thank goodness, but if I did, I’m sure I’d need an antidote.

Rockefeller Center. No Christmas tree yet but an angel and a fish fountain are almost as good.
Rockefeller Center. No Christmas tree yet but an angel and a fish fountain are almost as good.

And of course, since I was in the hood, I had to stop in at Rockefeller Center, which is yes, really quite spectacularly beautiful despite the proud dad who didn’t seem to understand why I objected to his learning-to-walk toddler stomping on my beloved Blackberry, which I’d set down on the wall–for like less than a minute.

Peace and love,


Life According to Alda

Earlier this month, I had the profound privilege of hearing award-winning actor, director, and yes, writer, Alan Alda address a membership event at The New York Public Library. I’ve been a fan of Mr. Alda’s since his eleven-year stint as wise-cracking, martini-mixing, soul-searching surgeon Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce on the iconic television series, M*A*S*H. (For any kiddies out there, MASH stands for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital–okay, my job is done).  The show lasted longer than the Korean War on which it was based, and yet I still remember filling up during the final episode in yes, 1983, because eleven years didn’t feel like nearly enough.

This grainy photo is Alan Alda working the room-trust me.
This grainy photo is Alan Alda working the room-trust me.

Mr. Alda’s two memoirs to date are NEVER HAVE YOUR DOG STUFFED: AND OTHER THINGS I’VE LEARNED and most recently, THINGS I OVERHEARD WHILE TALKING TO MYSELF.  The latter raises the question, “What makes a meaningful life?” The book, which I’ll admit I haven’t read–yet–is now topping my to-buy list or my Christmas wish list, take your pick.

In the course of his hour chat–and yes, it felt like an interactive conversation, not a lecture–Mr. Alda relayed his near death experience five years ago during a vacation trip to Chile. I won’t go into grizzly details–like me, you can read the book. Basically while he was touring Chile, he was seized with sudden, terrible abdominal pains and rushed by ambulance to the nearest hospital, which happened to look a lot like the set for the field hospital in M*A*S*H. He easily could have died. Obviously he didn’t. Ultimately his life was saved by a canny, skillful surgeon who correctly and quickly diagnosed the problem and working under, by Western standards, very primitive conditions, fixed it.

The experience, however, left the actor not only asking, “What makes a meaningful life” but with a living-in-the-present focus that is truly delightful and dazzling to behold. Apparently this…immediacy, for lack of a better word, is common among many people who come close to dying. For most, though, the feeling gradually wears off. Not so for Mr. Alda.

After the lecture, he opened the program to questions from the audience. Johnny on the spot at microphone #1 was a pint-size lady with the demeanor of a flame-spewing dragon and yes, the mouth of the lion that roared.

“I was a fan of your father,” she began–and yes, she likely was a contemporary of Robert Alda, too. “But I wonder about these celebrities today who use their celebrity status to tell us all what to think and how to vote and how to act as though we need them to tell us how it is…Blah, blah, blah…Yada, yada, yada… And well, I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts.” (Note: Her invective was a lot longer and a lot nastier, but I’m summarizing lest my hand cramp).

Now, Mr. Alda’s political beliefs and past activism, including his ardent campaigning for the Equal Rights Amendment, are matters of public record. I have my opinion about all that and yes, I’ll leave you to yours. What I will say is that if you’re going to a) invite a person to speak to your organization and then b) spend your own good money to attend said speech, insulting your guest is just well, damn bad manners. And memo to the “lady” of whom I speak, madam just because you were hatched when dinosaurs walked the earth doesn’t automatically make you wise. And FYI, we came that night to hear “Life According to Alda,” not life according to you, so next time mind–or better yet, close–your crochety yap.

But back to Alan Alda.

Obviously Mr. Alda has put on some years since his MASH days. Then again, so have I. And yet that smile, that sparkle in his eye, that lance straight stance and yes, that wonderful voice are still there in full force, the essence of a man who not only lives in the moment but has given so very many of us so very many moments that are truly memorable. 


PS: And yes, I had a Fan Girl moment. Shaking his hand at the evening’s end was as close to weak kneed as I’ve come in well, some time.

PPS: Next time, as promised, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun…”