A personal take on the Nora Ephron/Robin Swicord program

by Vejune J. Baltrusaitis At the risk of sounding snobbish or cliché (or both), when you grow up in LA, you can get jaded when in the presence of celebrities. That is, until you find yourself in the presence of certain celebrities. Once Sally Field came into a place I worked and I hid behind the bakery counter trying to catch my breath because I was so star struck. Last night’s event with writer/director Nora Ephron provided a similar experience where I kept reminding myself…

How magazines taught Cathy Alter about dating, makeup and real estate

Just Asking By Cathy Alter “Do you plan on having children?” asked the woman who was seated directly across from me. Oh boy, I thought, here we go again. The above question was not asked by my noisy mother-in-law, a potential (and lawbreaking) employer, or during my annual exam with my OB/GYN. It’s just one of the typical questions I get when I open up the floor to questions after reading from my memoir, Up for Renewal. I suppose when you write a book that…

Cathy Alter gets renewed

Who gives the best advice when we most need it? To whom can we turn when it seems that we’ve just landed in the dumpster and Oprah isn’t on until tomorrow?  Cathy Alter, in her recent memoir called Up for Renewal, turned to glossy magazines. After a series of unfortunate events– relating to career, marriage, bad decisions, and bad luck, Cathy chose a bunch of women’s magazines, and adhered to their advice for one year.  From investment strategy to lipstick tips, from sex and dating…

Meet a favorite author, Paul Levine

For some reason, lawyers are great fodder for novels, television, film and jokes. I happen to love lawyers; they’ve gotten me out of unsavory situations, and brought me into better ones. The lawyers I know are smart, handsome, beautiful and funny. It doesn’t hurt that I’m married to one, sister of two, daughter of one, and friend of many. One particular attorney friend fits nicely into the smart, handsome and funny categories: author and screenwriter Paul Levine. His website, paul-levine.com , will fill you in…

Author Paul Levine Believes Ebooks Will Save Written Word

By Paul Levine I was standing in a circle of Chardonnay sippers at an art show in Santa Monica when the conversation turned to the future of reading. As a novelist, I had skin in the game, so I grabbed a canape, sidled over, and eavesdropped. “I’ll never buy one of those electronic gizmos,” said a heavyset man in his fifties, a humanities professor. “I’d miss the smell of ink on paper, the conjuring of medieval libraries and ancient parchment.” Funny, I don’t recall anyone…

Meet a Favorite Author from Northern Ireland: Ian Sansom

I spend a great deal of time reading crime novels, detective fiction and police procedurals.  They’re visceral, engaging on both the intellectual and emotional fronts, the loose ends tie up neatly, and there’s justice for most.  Or at least for some.   While bingeing on some great Irish detective fiction, I stumbled onto the work of Ian Sansom.  I love his books. Ian Sansom contributes a weekly column to The Guardian, writing book reviews, and essays on contemporary as well as historical cultural figures.  I wish…

Film Review: Hardy is finally funny in Tamara Drewe

When Thomas Hardy novels crop up in conversation, does anyone ever say, “wow, he’s one funny guy”? Could anyone possibly think Tess of the D’Urbervilles funny? Jude the Obscure? You kidding? The Mayor of Casterbridge did make me laugh, if only because it stands as the prototype for all self-respecting daytime soaps. Far From The Madding Crowd made me laugh when I was a kid, because like anyone else from the 20th century, I just couldn’t believe that the publishers would misspell a word in…