Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Red Foundry Offers Code Shortcut for Technologically-Challenged Creatives

Does this sound familiar? You're a creative person. People hire you for your ideas--they come to you easily and often. Your writing is eloquent. Your speech articulate. Your etiquette immaculate. But now you want to create apps, and suddenly, none of this matters, because you can't write a line of code. And even though you spend several weeks eagerly reading every blog and listening to every podcast about code, you start thinking, "Maybe I'm just not mathematically-minded enough." But you've always figured things out, even though your brain is the sort that barely passed statistics, but aced college calculus.

Okay, so maybe this isn't exactly like you. In any case, my attempts at learning code have been everything from frustrating to pure comedy. As the weeks have passed, I've thought, "What if I want to create my ideas instead of spending my time learning code?" I mean, it turns out Cocoa goes with more than marshmallows and 'developer' is not just the stuff that goes in hair dye boxes.

And then, as if God himself was friending me on Facebook, I found Red Foundry. Simply put, Red Foundry allows creatives to build apps without the hassle of learning code. This isn't to say that I won't eventually learn code, but, I'm the turtle not the hare when it comes to mixing magic potions, or whatever it actually takes to code an app.

Red Foundry is in beta, so you'll have to ask for an invitation to be one of the first to get a password to get started developing your app ideas. My boyfriend John Gilmore wrote about Red Foundry here. John got his invite within hours. Technically speaking, I'm still waiting for God to friend me.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Second Annual Norman Mailer Gala at Cipriani's in New York

A week or so ago, I attended the Second Annual Norman Mailer Gala at Cipriani's in New York City with John Gilmore. Last year, John won the Norman Mailer College Award, which in addition to $10,000, earned him a fellowship spot in Provincetown, Cape Cod with eight other very talented writers. This year, we arrived so John could speak about how the fellowship has furthered his writing, and present the award this year's winners.

The event was a thrilling whirlwind of authors, publishers, agents, and brilliant minds whose work I've admired for a long time. I wanted to post a few pictures for friends and family and describe everything, but the narrative of that night was too exciting for a simple blog post.

Everything from having a conversation with the very friendly Tom Wolfe, to sitting down with Gay Talese while he was being interviewed by an ambitious reporter. (I imagined the reporter wasn't so different than the young Talese, who once hunted down an interview with a reluctant Joe DiMaggio at a California golf course.) We met Jann Wenner (the founder of Rolling Stone) soon after he won a Lifetime Achievement Award in Magazine Publishing and thought he was an especially delightful person.

Of course, Larry Schiller was a lot of fun, telling me stories about photos he took of Marilyn Monroe--while we stood in front of the flashing bulbs of the paparazzi--like we were on a walk in the park, like they simply didn't exist. That's how down-to-earth Schiller is. Later, he told me to 'keep John level' and encouraged him not to marry five times as to keep up with the literary greats.

We had fascinating conversations at our table with a very memorable editor from Viking who gave us greatly appreciated publishing advice, and a well-known author who has written about 10 or more books about everything from the diamond cartel to Hollywood. But all the talented people and amazing food and literary wonderment aside, the best part was when I took our little digital camera, trying to zoom in on John when he spoke for about three minutes, making all 500 guests laugh several times. For those three minutes, he could have been somebody or nobody and I'd still be the nervous girlfriend trying to capture him getting the chance to convey the specialness of the fellowship--the confidence and mentorship--the Norman Mailer Colony and Fellowship gave him as a young writer.

P.S. John's essay, "Final Cascade" is published in the Fall 2010 issue of Creative Nonfiction. The issue pays tribute to Norman Mailer and Gay Talese.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Published in "Six Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure" and other happenings

Hello Friends,

It's been a long time. 2008 was too fantastic for words, and 2009 is kicking off to an amazing start! The immediate news: The six-word love story I submitted to SMITH Magazine will be published in "Six Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak by Writers Famous and Obscure" coming out from HarperPerennial tomorrow, January 6, 2009. Their first book, Not Quite What I Was Planning, was a big hit, and this one is already getting great press. I know with your help, we can reach even more people!

Also, I'll be reading at Opium Magazine's Literary Death Match at the Elbo Room, this Friday, January 9--Come out and cheer! Happy 2009 to everyone, and thanks for your support of my writing.

Here are the details about the Literary Death Match, as it was sent to me:

SF Literary Death Match’s first 2009 episode launches at our all-new space-for-hijinks, Elbo Room, and we’re kicking things off with a star-studded affair.

Rodes Fishburne (representing The Rumpus), Katie Crouch (Tin House), Veronica Chater (Memoir, (And)) and Jaynel Attolini (Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak by Writers Famous and Obscure) will spark off verbal pyrotechnics for ten minutes or less, then be judged by comedy queen Melanie Case and editorial gurus Andrew Leland (The Believer) and James Hass (The Farallon Review).

Time and Place
Date: Friday, January 9, 2009
Time: 6:30pm - 9:30pm
Location: Elbo Room
Street: 647 Valencia St. San Francisco

Hosted by Alana Conner and Sky Hornig.

Cost: $5 (another $5 scores you the Opium Print of your choice--a $10 cover price)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Literature for Listening and Libations for You Know What

Hey everyone- I'll be reading at dublit's launch party on Thursday at Space Gallery in San Francisco. Check it out, and go to dublit where my short story, The Regulars has been one of the "highest scoring audioshorts" going on seven weeks.

Literature for Listening and Libations for You Know What's inaugural reading in Nov 2007 was an absolute blast: Poignant stories, unforgettable food and drink, and literati galore. One guest wrote,

"I stepped out into the balmy evening feeling just a little bit more human."

On April 24th, join us for the 2nd installment in our nascent fusion of stories and soiree at the Space Gallery in San Francisco's illustrious Polk Gulch. Come celebrate the public launch of and all that it portends.

Readers will include Aimee Phan, Alvin Orloff, Tavia Stewart, Jaynel Attolini, and poets from the Stanford Spoken Word Collective, plus a surprise or two. Resident dublit DJ and VJ will spin tunes and scapes that set the mood and swirl the mind.

Gourmet catering by the Leland Tea Company, cash bar and merch table on site with books and gear from dublit, Instant City Magazine, Watchword Press and Opium Magazine.

Door prizes to include t-shirts, subscriptions, and a dublit content-filled iPod!

Space is limited so sign up NOW. This event is likely to sell out.

The Details......

Thursday, April 24, 2008

7:25 pm PT - 10:25 pm PT

Space Gallery
1141 Polk Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

You, yours, we and ours

Because you love books, NPR, and parties

$5 pre-sale tickets - select "pre-pay" option above
$7 at the door* -select "guestlist, pay at door" option above
free admission if you sign up and submit a story of your own before 22 April

*No one turned away for lack of funds.

Monday, November 05, 2007

First Week at The Oakland Grotto

Today I went to my office in Oakland and finished out a week of isolated writing. The Grotto is a writers’ collective, and it’s expanded. I’ve been fortunate enough to land a sublet.

My novel is about rockstars and drugs and strippers and trailer trash and pimps and whores and elderly social security scamming drug mules. It’s about gun-toting, motorcycle revving insanity and it’s making me half crazy. The paradox is this: I’ve never taken drugs (besides prescribed) so I’m not familiar with the world of huffing, snorting, chopping, shooting, blowing or anywhere else your imagination can go. (Injecting your cock, check. Morphine suppositories, check.) I’ve been reading up on my Moteley Crue and other notorious rockstars and drug addicts. It’s sickening. I have a few rock star friends. I recently asked a few of them to tell me about their experiences and was shocked at what they told me about the sneakiness of it all. The up and up of the prescription drug addictions, and the nicknames for street drugs.

So imagine you’re me. You are, for some reason (maybe it’s an unresolved past life, a unspent teenage rebellion, the fact that I was raised Catholic) obsessed with drugs, but you are scared as fuck to ever take any. So all you do is write about them. It throws the “write about what you know” theory out the window. Now imagine you’ve cooped yourself up in an office, reading about habits, and paranoia, paraphernalia and strippers for hours on end. It’s fourth grade reading by glam rock stars who only have a quarter of their brain cells, but you have a feeling that a personal “informational interview” (although it could be arranged) would involve a mirror and a razor blade. Now imagine you’re thirsty. And you know there’s water downstairs, next to Mary Roach's (author of "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers") office, which may or may not be open.

If you have tea, you will have to pass her office. This will surely elicit a hello, and some type of friendly banter. You crave human conversation, but yesterday’s exchange was about cadavers and rotting flesh, so you don’t know if you can stomach another rendevous (you’re kind of sick to your stomach since reading about “bumping rails” off of a stripper’s ass). You walk downstairs and the door is open. You are wearing heels and they announce your entrance. It’s likely you have been heard. Great! Now you are paranoid! You don’t want to seem anti-social, so you head toward the microwave. (Never leave a microwave in a rockstars’ motel room, by the way, it will be used to cook crack-cocaine.) You’ve been so wrapped around your novel about DRUGS and SEX and ROCK and ROLL that you can’t figure out how to run the microwave. Yes, the microwave oven, that thing that’s been around since 1984.

You stand in front of the microwave that won't open. You start to freak out a little bit, and Mary appears, smiling, and asks about what you’re working on. You say, “I’m working on this story about these two characters born in poverty and drugs and they end up in rock and roll.” It sounds so low concept you may as well have told her you were working on a child's picture book. She smiles, supportive. She tells you about a celebrity event she’ll be attending. It’s a Zen event that she also attended last year, but this year she’ll be the celebrity guest speaker. She uses that word: Celebrity. You feel like a retard because you realize that you can’t get the microwave door open, and she tells you to pull on it and you do, but it still doesn’t open. So she pulls on it, and it opens. Of course. Celebrities!

Your tea is hot and your hands are burning. Seriously. You are getting third degree burns listening to her talk about this Zen event she will be attending later on for terminally ill senior citizens. You realize that you are smiling and she is talking about terminally ill patients. Terminally Ill! Smiling! (See Microwave Instruction Manual.)

She is such a lovely person, and her writing is so good. You have made a fool of yourself with the talk of sex and drugs and rock and roll, not to mention the stupid faces while she spoke of the terminally ill and then there was the fact that the microwave didn’t compute in seconds but gave a menu like “SOUP” or “PIZZA.” Well, what about “TEA while a CELEBRITY is STANDING NEARBY?” Didn’t think of that Mr. Toshiba Man?

Turns out you’re not done saying stupid things. If you knew this, you would have quit while you were ahead with the third degree burns on three of your fingers and a thumb. She asks you what rockstars you know, and you tell her. You think this will redeem you. You end up sounding like a name-dropper. Then she says, ‘Oh, my husband loves her!” and nod and say, “She’s great.” She asks how you know her, and you say that she has some of your art. You explain the heartwork movement but it just sounds new-agey and weird. And to top it all off, you can’t think or talk clearly because you’ve been isolated like a monk for seven hours in an office that kind of smells like mold and car exhaust, reading books about drugs. She asks you how old Rockstar is, and you say, about 50, I think. Then you talk about being on tour and say, “It would be really hard to be around a bunch of cokeheads, especially if you were going through menopause.”

She agrees, and you can hardly believe what has just come out of your mouth. Were you just talking about your Rockstar friend and Menopause? WTF? You decide it’s time to make a getaway, so you politely do.

You throw the tea away because it’s burning your fingers. You go to the bathroom and run your hand under cold water and can barely look at yourself in the mirror. But when you do, you mouth the words ROCKSTAR? MENOPAUSE? WTF?

You sit at your desk and you can’t get it out of your head. It reverberates in your brain because of the silence, it’s all you got going on. Your stupidty, her kindness. You decide to shine on and punch out the pages, and you do, getting back with the people who accept you as you are, like a three-legged puppy— your characters—the boozers and losers, the rockstars and derelicts. You leave the celebrities and terminally ill to people who know how to operate a microwave oven, in the real world.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I'm a Yoga Dropout

Renee and I walked to yoga today at the rock climbing gym. There's hills out here. The last thing I wanted to do after hiking to the gym was the downward dog.

Yoga hurts. Don't let them lie to you through the smoke and incense. Joints snap, tendons burn. I felt like a retard because I couldn't pretzel my leg behind my back while looking to the sky. Don't carnie rats get PAID to do this for a crowd?

In yoga, it's hard to know when the class will actually...end. There's no marker, like a set of jumping jacks, where you say, alright halfway done. It's just stretching, then more stretching. It sounds cheesy, I hear that yoga makes you more connected to your body. (I dated a guy who said he didn't cry when his mother died, but he once broke down in a yoga class.)

On the walk home, I thought maybe if I watched really sad movies while doing the child pose or hanging out on my yoga ball, it might be the same thing.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


I was once told by my Creative Director in New York: "Being a writer is not an easy life. It takes thick skin." I had asked for her feedback on an ad campaign I wrote for the Museum of Sex in Manhattan. She had told me the ways that it failed, and my disappointment must have showed.

I remember her big office in the sky with two corner windows, the way that people and cars looked like mechanical grids below. I remember feeling about as small as the ant-people below after getting her reaction. Maybe I've mentioned in a posting before but this interaction in particular stewed in me as I was spit out on the streets of Madison Avenue, feeling unworthy. I had wanted to impress my boss with my wit and muscled sentences. I was 23, maybe 24, newly graduated, and thought everyone would be dazzled by my words. I wasn't one of those people who thought she might kind of wish to be a Copywriter. I was a Copywriter who could turn any phrase on it's side, draw on pop references in a split second, create compelling brands. Or so I thought. On the subway to Brooklyn, I was sweaty from the summer humidity and miserable. This was punctuated by the sounds of clanging and screetching in the tunnels, the rickety cars held together with cable and steel, but seeming like they could come undone, just like me.

At my apartment, I decided to call my college Journalism professor, Ann Maxwell. Her steady advice had gotten me through the rough patches. This was before cell phones were prevalent, and long distance calls were a big deal. I went to the bodega on the corner and bought a "calling card" from a Puerto Rican pock-faced man, who checked me out in the creepiest way when I approached the counter.

I spoke for a long time to my Professor about my meeting. I described how hard it was living in Brooklyn, and how things were happening fast, but not fast enough for me. I was on a "career track" in advertising and felt after six short months, I wasn't meeting my milestones. My professor listened carefully for awhile, then paused. "Well," she said. "I guess you have to ask yourself something."

"What's that?" I asked, eagerly.

" 'Am I willing to be a beginner?' " she said. "You have to ask yourself if you're willing to start again each day with a beginner mind. You have to pace yourself to be open. Because this is the important stage. Right now. Being a beginner."

That was the most solid advice I'd ever recieved. She was right, I was so concentrated on the next step that I wasn't focused on the work in front of me. I looked at my Museum of Sex ad. I could see with fresh eyes that it really did suck. I wrote twelve new ads and produced four of them.

Now, here in Iowa City, I have to be in the spirit of giving and recieving feedback. It's a generosity that can be a challenge for some writers, but I feel like the next draft and the next can only improve. Even so, the truth hurts. I sat in Java House today, punching out a new story, when one of my classmates voices made me look up from my computer. "Hey, I didn't see you," she said.

I was "in it" and didn't notice her either. "How ironic. I'm reading your work now," she said.

This scared me because she was hands down the most critical of the writers in my workshop. Just yesterday she told a writer up for workshop, "There's no story in this work." or "I wanted to like these characters." or "I looked for the plot." I was essentially scared of this innocent, curly haired Midwesterner. She waxed philisophical about classic writers and stretched her hands behind her head to display her hairy armpits, giving her credibility somehow.

There was an uncomfortable pause, because I had work to do and didn't know what to say to her. She spoke first: "How do you spell 'awkward'?" she asked.

"A-W-K-W-A-R-D. Awkward," I said like a Spelling Bee finalist.

"Oh. Okay," she said, nose down. I went back to my work, looking up at times to note her fierce underlinings on my manuscript. That's when it hit me.

"Did I just spell awkward for you so that you could write that on my manuscript?" I asked.

"Yeah," she said with non-challance. "Is that okay?" she asked me like it didn't matter, I had no choice.

I inhaled and nodded, biting the inside of my mouth accidentally. She went back to her critique and I went back to mine. "Are you willing to be a beginner?" jumped in my mind, like God herself whispering in my ear.

"Yes," I told her, even though she wasn't listening.