Archive | February, 2012

Dreaming of Coney Island

28 Feb

Winter doldrums, and I’m dreaming of Coney Island.

I took these pictures over the summer, when I went to lay in the sand and read a book.

What are you dreaming of?

Here’s a snippet from Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “A Coney Island of the Mind.”

Writer on Pinterest

27 Feb

I’m involved in social media at the publishing house in which I work, and we’re obsessed right now with Pinterest.  Have you heard of it?  It’s basically a virtual corkboard to “pin” ideas to, an inspiration board.

Galleycat has a great (and ever-evolving) write up on it called Pinterest Tips for Writers.

I decided to get in on the action and have signed up for Pinterest as a way to create boards based on the different characters and settings I write about.  I created boards based on Beat-related imagery as well as imagery related to my memoir.  I also made a board called Lit Life, which features books, glasses, desks, typewriters, wine!, you know … delicious imagery associated with reveling in writing and reading.

One of my favorite Pinterest boards to create was one called My Sixteen-Year-Old Self.  It’s got a lot of photos of bands I used to listen to (remember Green Day before they were on Broadway?!), the fashion I wore (or at least wished I had been brave enough to wear – hello, baby-doll dresses and combat boots!), and the things I did (walk up and down the railroad tracks).  Although my memoir mainly focuses on my twenties, there’s a bit of a bildungsroman feel to it—I’m a late bloomer—and to understand my twenties, you have to understand my youth.

Are you on Pinterest?  How are you using it for your writing?  What do you think of it in terms of how it affects the reader experience?  Does getting snippets of imagery make you curious about an upcoming book or does imagery ruin your opportunity to imagine the characters and the scenes in a book for yourself?


PS: Don’t forget I’m also on Twitter!

Gripster: Tina Fey Ate “Old Balls”

23 Feb

While writing for Saturday Night Live, everyone’s favorite Gripster Tina Fey ate a lot of disgusting food in the wee hours of the night, according to Grub StreetThe grossest?  Old meatballs from Carmines.

The Grub Street article points to the obvious fact that those of us who stay up late, writing at our desks, probably eat pretty poorly.  I’ve never been to Carmines, and I don’t eat meatballs anymore, but my sister makes fun of me because I often eat leftover pasta without bothering to heat it up.

Writing Wednesday: Sneaking Netflix Categorizations into Your Writing

22 Feb

Netflix is great at categorizing films.  I was recently surfing their movie listings and not only did they have the plain-Jane genre drama but within that there were subgenres.  After all, drama can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people.  Do I want a tearjerker?  A hard-hitting political film?  An uncomfortable look at a dysfunctional family?  I’m Greek; I’ve got enough drama in my family that I don’t need to watch other mothers go all Medea on their kids.  Now I can skip right over the family dramas section and go straight to crime dramas.  Pass me the popcorn!

It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between a family drama and a crime drama.  Where the categorizations are really telling, though, are when they suggest not just the subject matter but the tone of the film.  For example, under both comedy and drama, one might find a dramedy, which is–you guessed it!–a combination of both genres.

When it comes to writing, it’s important to think beyond surface-level genre and consider tone.

Tasty Tuesday: Georgetown Cupcake SoHo

21 Feb


Remember those insanely delicious cupcakes I wrote about after tasting them at the Gabby Awards?  The ones that I was willing to bus it all the way to DC for?  Well, it turns out all I have to do now is hop on the subway.  On February 11, Sisters Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis opened up Georgetown Cupcake SoHo at 111 Mercer St.

They’ve even whipped up special New York-themed cupcakes to mark the occasion:::

  • Apple Crumble
  • B&W Cookie
  • New York Cheesecake

They’re decorated with fondants in the shape of subway stops and taxi cabs.  Too, too cute.

Shhhh!  Can I let you in on a secret?  I’ve been Facebook stalking them and they always reveal their “secret” menu flavors on their social media accounts.  The first 100 to “guess” their not-so-secret-secret flavor get a free cupcake!

Can’t wait to try them all!

My Culture Diary

20 Feb

Ran across literary editor Sadie Stein’s amusing Culture Diary on the Paris Review Daily via Poets & Writers.  Love her quips.  People are sometimes ask me about what exactly it is I do, so taking a cue from Sadie Stein, here’s an inside look into my day.


7:00 AM:  My cell phone alarm goes off, and I blindly fumble for the phone and shut the stupid ringer off.  Ten minutes later the second alarm goes off.  Forty minutes after that I finally roll out of bed, toward the coffee maker.

8:30 AM:  Ooh, such nice comments on last night’s status update from writer friends on Faceback.  Maybe I do have something to say that resonates with people.  Listen to Mates of State.

10:00 AM:  Got to work and found out I had left my card key inside, on my desk.  Finally got in and restart my computer at work three times.  Ugh, ugh, ugh!!  Why isn’t it working?  It finally works but then I’m locked out of the server and have to call the home office.  It’s definitely a Monday.  I feel like Garfield.  Complete editing on a book project I’m excited to be working on.  Slice my finger open on a stack of paper.  Oh the hazards of the publishing business.

12:00 PM:  Forgot my homework for my writing workshop at home and now have to use lunch break to run back and get it.  Accidentally get off one stop too early, but enjoy the beautiful weather.  I love the smell of autumn leaves.  Someone follows me into my apartment building.  Oh good, he’s just my neighbor.  On the subway ride back to the office, I offer my seat to an older woman.  Her husband says, “That just got you two points.  You’re two steps closer to getting into heaven.  The woman sizes me up, “I don’t know about that!”

6:00 PM:  The cleaning lady tells me she didn’t throw out the bread in the ‘fridge because she knows it’s mine.  Hints that it’s wasteful to throw out food.  Oops, I’m one of those people that forgets about the food crammed in the ‘fridge.

8:00 PM:  Writing workshop gets emotional.  People lay their lives out for us to read.  It’s hard to critique work that’s so sensitive.  I feel like a jerk afterwards for doing it anyway.  Ride the subway home with a classmate, thankful to debrief.

11:00 PM:  I don’t care if it’s late; I’m eating a second dinner.  And I’m taking a second shower.  Watch Prime Suspect.  Man, I wish I was as tough as Maria Bello.  Watch Community.  This show has jumped the shark.

1:00 AM:  Conk out.

*November 14

Clip: Maurizio Cattelan: All

17 Feb


Toe-numbing temperature didn’t stop the line from snaking past the Guggenheim and spilling out onto the residential sidewalk of the Upper East Side.  It was Pay What You Wish Saturday.  We’d wait in the frigid January night for that rate.  It would give us the chance to meditate on the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, the museum’s architect.

No, it would give us reason to complain.  About the cold.  About the wait.  I don’t even know what we’re standing in line for! my sister finally admitted out of frustration.

We were standing in line for Maurizio Cattelan: All.

Read the rest of the story on Burnside.

Happy Tsiknopempti!

16 Feb

Happy Tsiknopempti!  You’ve heard of Fat Tuesday, the French holiday associated with Mardi Gras.  Well, today is Fat Thursday, ten days before the beginning of Great Lent.

Tsiknopempti means Barbecue Thursday, Charred Meat Thursday, or Burnt Thursday.  It’s the evening Greek Orthodox believers consume massive amounts of meat because they start fasting from meat even a week before Great Lent, the forty days leading up to Pascha (Easter), begins.

I’ve been fasting from meat for six years.  I guess that means BBQ tofu and grilled veggies for me.

It’s my sister’s favorite holiday.  She’s such a carnivore!  I’d never even heard of the holiday til my family moved to Greece.  Then my sister told me all about a day where the sweet smell of charred meat wafts through the dusty roads of ancient villages.

What’s your favorite food to barbecue?

Here are a few recipe ideas:::

Skewered Grilled Fruit with Minted Yogurt Honey Sauce

Grilled Fruit Skewers with Spicy Maple Cumin Glaze

Coffee-Rubbed Cheeseburgers with Texas Barbecue Sauce

Lamb Chops with Lemon


You might also like these articles:::

Hello, Carnival; Good-bye Meat

Tasty Tuesday: Dinner at Souvlaki GR

Clip: Paintings of the Crucifixion

Profile of the Greek Cupid

14 Feb


Out of the opposites-attract romance of the goddess of love and the god of war sprang forth Eros.  It comes as no surprise that his genes of love and war make him the god of passion!

Early depictions of Eros show him as a stunningly handsome man, but today he’s portrayed as a winged boy.  He is the Greek Cupid.  He has a bow and arrows, which he seems to shoot at random.

Eros is so handsome that he must shield his beauty from his own wife.  Go Greece tells the story:

Problems ensue when Eros (called Cupid in this story) falls in love with Psyche. His radiance is such that for her own safety, he insists that she must never look upon his face, and he only visits her at night. At first, she’s cool with this, but her sisters and family insist that her husband must be a grotesque and dangerous monster. Finally, to shut them up, one night she lights a lamp and sees his glorious beauty, which doesn’t blast her but does make her tremble so hard she shakes the lamp. A few drops of hot oil dribble on her beloved, burning him, and he flies away from her in physical pain compounded by the pain of knowing she doubted him.

The doomed romance of Eros and Psyche reminds me in some ways of the Japanese legend of the Crane Wife, which inspired the eponymous heartbreaking song by the Decemberists.

Provincial wisdom often says love makes you blind.  Too often that rings true.  However, these stories speak toward another type of love that is beautiful and sacrificial, and that sometimes we need to have more trust and more faith in the person we love.

Chocolate Tasting at Chocolat Moderne

13 Feb

On Saturday, I went to an open house at Chocolat Moderne!!  Swoon!

You may remember the name Chocolat Moderne from my Gabby Awards post.  I was kind of obsessed.  That’s why I was so excited to take a little tour of the chocolate factory and meet the founder, Joan Coukos.  The Greek American chocolatier was so sweet.  We exchanged stories of where in Greece we’re from and chatted about other Greek Americans living in New York City.


I got to sample the many delectable chocolates Chocolat Moderne has to offer.  One of my favorites was the Cocoa Casbah Hot Chocolate ~ Kama Sutra, an exotic blend of cardamom, clove, and coconut.  It’s chai tea making love to hot chocolate.


I also sampled the champagne truffles, which I think would make for a romantic Valentine’s Day gesture.  This special chocolate has “rare collector’s Marc de Bourgogne pressed from chardonnay grapes and a layer of dark ganache scented with a mellow aged Pierre Ferrand 1er Cru de Cognac from the Grande Champagne appellation.”

As lovely as the champagne truffles were, I have to say I loved the Moderne ~ Red Fruits bar.  This bar is a “blend of fine dark chocolates from Valrhona, is a fresh breeze of red berries and red stone fruits.  The crunchy toffee nuggets sprinkled throughout the bar release the unique and fragrant essences of cherries, strawberries and raspberries.”  The dark chocolate was intense and the raspberry tart.



Chocolat Moderne has special Valentine assortments that would go lovely with a nice bottle of red wine or champagne.



The factory is located at 27 West 20th Street, Suite 904, and is open every day from noon to 6pm.  It’s definitely worth dropping by to see the chocolate-making action and to pick up some artisnal chocolates.  You can also inquire about chocolate tastings held at the factory … something I intend to get in on!