Speaking of trivia, we had about 65 people last night. The week before, pre-Xmas, we had about 20. It's hard to predict these spikes. Usually we get about 50.

I was thinking recently about how fortunate it is that I don't have a lot of pressure to hurry up and finish my third novel. I didn't quit my job when I got a book deal (a smart move, because, among other things, I like my job and it keeps me grounded), so I didn't have to keep telling myself to rush through more books to pay my rent. But the more important reason to not depend exclusively on my writing for income is that sometimes (and I know I've said this before), I have to think and be involved in other things in order to come up with a really good solution or plot twist or theme that makes the book a lot better. When I'm not writing the book, I'm thinking about it, and also dealing with and listening to other people, and that's important for ideas and angles. The reason so much of television is mediocre is that they're forced to write the stuff EVERY week, so they're not afforded much time to come up with jokes and scenarios that haven't been done before. (A show like The Simpsons is an exception because they have a staff of 20 writers, so they have a little more brain power there. So is a show like Sex in the City that has eight episodes at a time and then takes a long breather.) I hate doing what's been done before, although obviously sometimes it's unavoidable. It's true that 90 percent of plots have been done in some way in the Bible or Shakespeare, but it's what you do with them that matters.

The one thing that does put pressure on me in my writing is the idea that someone out there might do the same thing, so I can't pussyfoot around forever. Eventually, Book 3 will get done. The fact that I spent half of 2003 rewriting the same 15 pages doesn't matter. (I did, of course, work on other parts of it during that time, but beginnings are key.) I have about 350 pages of it, some of which will be lopped out, some of which will be colored in. I don't know if everyone will like it, but if it someday feels the way I wanted it to feel, I'll be happy. And I won't show it to people until I think it does.
Happy New Year's Eve! I should say that no one should feel bad tonight if they end up having a Pilby Party. Avoid the pressure!

I am grateful for new friends I've made this year, as well as the regulars who come to trivia and, in general, anyone who has the patience to deal with me. Happy New Year to you and yours. And happy Football Day for tomorrow.


It wasn't so long ago that I complained that Peter Gallagher was a dad in the O.C., which makes me feel old because I always considered him part of my generation. I saw Cheaper By the Dozen this weekend, and Alan Ruck of Ferris Bueller fame played a Yuppie dad in it. Ferris' friend Cameron was a Yuppie dad! But apparently he's 47, and he was 30 when he played a 17-year-old in Ferris Bueller.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

I had to deal with a lot of loose ends today, got it all done, and now I feel good -- sort of like when you stop hitting yourself with a hammer (not that I've done that). I do still have a pile of mail to go through and calls to return. Still, it's fine.

I hope everyone has a fantabulous new year.


Fill Bill: Someone has come up with porn titles for 2003 films.
Woke up (sort of), put on clothes, went to work...

Who can comprehend 20,000 people dying in an earthquake, much less a possibility of 40,000?


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

Some people think that's not descriptive enough. OK. Woke up, checked e-mail, drank water, did exercises, called work to say I'd be a little late, took a picture of empty parking spaces (rare occurrence around here), took out used-up film, bought new film at pharmacy, changed clothes, went to work. I'm probably forgetting stuff.
A belated Merry X-mas!


A screenwriter friend and I were talking about how the beginnings of our novels/scripts are the most-edited part, as every time we revise, we have to start from the very beginning in order to keep the narrative consistent and be in the appropriate mood. I almost never start revising in the middle of the book. That's why it requires hours of uninterrupted time -- I always have to read from the beginning.
Should I be worried that the Department of Homeland Security is running radio ads in NY telling us that there are things we can do to prepare in case "something happens"? They have a woman's voice speaking conversationally so it doesn't sound like Emergency Broadcasts or anything.

It's completely pouring out today, and now it's starting to get windy, too. I'm soaked from my errands, including backed-up laundry doing. Sounds like I should spend much of the day writing and sipping soy nog.

Lori alerted me to this great article on the 20th anniversary of "A Christmas Story," complete with a current photo of Peter Billingsley.

Happy holidays!


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

Happy X-mas Eve Eve.

George Pataki pardoned Lenny Bruce.

I hear that many people are suffering from the lure of free holiday candy and cookies in their respective offices.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

I turned the heat up to 75 degrees because I want it to be really warm in here. In a half hour, my boss will come in and say, "WHY IS IT SO HOT?" but by then I will have turned it back down.


Today's affirmation, as received in my e-mail:

I have the pleasure to share my testimony with you, having seen your
contact from the Internet. I am Barrister David Johnson, the legal
adviser to late Mr. and Mrs. Andy Brown, an America couple that lived in my
Country Nigeria for 30 years before they both died in the plane crash
late last year. These couples were good Christians, they so dedicated their
live to God. And as matter of fact, after I sold all their properties, I realized more than $3,800,000.00 (Three million hundred thousand US dollars
...I asked God to make his choice and direct me to a honest Christian or the chosen ministry that deserves this fund by his Grace. I then came across your address on the Internet as I was browsing through a Christian site, and as a matter of fact, it is not only you or your ministry that I picked on the Christian site initially, but after my fervent prayer over it, then you were nominated to me through divine revelation from God.

In Times Square last night, there was a row of Hare Krishnas singing, "Hare hare, krishna krishna, dalai lama, hare hare, hare krishna, krishna krishna, hare hare, dalai lama." People were laughing as they went by, and some tourists joined the line to sing along just so they could get their picture taken doing it. It must be kind of frustrating when no one can take your religion seriously.
Woke up, put on clothes, didn't go to work.

I did some work on the first 15 pages of Book 3 this morning. It's amazing that I'm still wrestling with the first 15 pages after three years. Every time I change something, I know this book will take longer and longer to finish. Frustrating but necessary. There are so many authors who get published and take forever to get their second novel out. They keep pushing back their deadline. I used to think it was laziness or intimidation, but now I know that once you finally get published, you're in less of a rush and you're also more aware of the process, so you want to make sure your next book is as good as it can be. Once you hand it in and it's accepted, you really can't make too many more changes.

There's something funny in the Times this morning that normally I'd comment on, but it will be used as a trivia question on Tuesday so I can't give it away here.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

The Olsen twins are both going to NYU next year. I wonder if they'll room together. I don't think that's a good idea.

Have a good weekend.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

Last night, I took a cab home and the guy who got out before me didn't give the cabbie a tip. Out of the window, the cabbie said to him, "Asshole," as he was walking away. I don't know why people have to constantly pick fights over ridiculous things. It almost seems like a game to some people. There's just too much anger in the world. Yes, the guy didn't give the tip on a $3 ride, but maybe he had his own issues. I think he was drunk.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


It's getting too cold to be outside.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


I didn't realize the snow would fall overnight, but I just woke up and it's all over the place. And still snowing.

Then I put on the radio and an American official announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, we got 'im," followed by cheers. I thought, "Hooray! They got Osama bin Laden!"

But no, it's Saddam Hussein.


Woke up, put on clothes, didn't go to work.

Homepage: www.carenlissner.com.


DSL has been down at work intermittently. The psychological effects are stunning. People have to stop checking e-mail for stress breaks.
Woke up, put clothes on, went to work.

Mook the Meteorologist says we're getting another nor'easter!

Mook says: Still on track.
Snow comes in sunday morning, changes to sleet in the afternoon
then rain overnight sunday
back to a little snow monday morning
with wind.
Some accumulation, not like last time though.


Woke up, put clothes on, went to work.


Woke up, put clothes on, went to work. Busy week this week.

If interested, check out what happened when county officials in Oregon tried to live on food stamps.


I wrote an article that was published on Mobylives.com, a popular website on the publishing industry, today. It's about why there's no obvious literary spokesman for Generation Y, since we've had them for other generations. Check it out at www.mobylives.com.

For anyone new who comes here, my main page is www.carenlissner.com. I'll get it better-designed eventually - don't you worry! I'm just mired in novels now.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


It's nice when winter acts like winter. It used to be that way when I was little, y'know?

Have a good day!

I must be a bad influence. A friend sent this to me:


I can honestly say that I believe this to be the first December "blizzard" I've ever been in. Almost all of them I remember have been in February.

Something I just heard outside my window:

MAN: Come on. Keep walking.
GIRL: I've been walking the whole time! And you've been yelling that the whole time! I've been walking and you've been yelling!


We'll close out the day with the Secret Service's advisory on these types of scams. Have a great night, everyone!
People keep e-mailing me regarding the snow and saying things like, "Well, are you happy now?!?!"

Completing the trifecta of responses, the scam posting brought out a lurker named Jay, who provides this helpful link on Nigerian scams:

The snow started at 10 a.m. and there's now at least four inches out there. I see someone getting his battery jumped out on the corner.

Many years ago, when I was going through a rough postcollege transitional period, I had a two-day temp job in Princeton even though I lived in Hoboken. There were reports of snow the next day, but I decided to chance it and drive an hour down to the job anyway. The snow began coming down around 10 and didn't let up. They let me off work around 3, and when I swung back onto the Turnpike, NO ONE was on the road. The painted lane lines had all been covered in snow, so the Turnpike looked like one vast sheet of snow, just for me and my '85 Plymouth Duster. I left the radio off and just listened to the heater the whole way, and when I got it home, I parked on the corner half in a crosswalk, and the battery died. My neighbor helped me push the car in a little more, and then a few days later a local mechanic who ran a shop out of his garage jumped it for me. I ended up with a profit of about $10 on that day's work after the mechanic cost, so I figured at least I'd gotten something out of it.

Dan wants to add to his prior missive:

Dear Luisa,
I had forgotten to ask you something.
You mentioned that you have children with your husband, Jose, Jacqueline and Jude. Do you have three children with those names, or is your husband’s name Jose and the two of you begot Jacqueline and Jude? And when you want your son, do you say, “Hey Jude”?
Anxious for your response.

Response #1, from Dan:

I just checked out your blog, and read about your donation; you are one of the sweetest people I’ve ever known! So much love and concern in your heart…
I would have written back to Dr. Mrs. Luisa with rewrites in her letter; for example, “may be” should read “maybe”, etc:

Dear Luisa,
I read your letter with great sadness and concern. Surely God will see you through this tough time.
That said, please see my corrections to your letter. Your diction and sentence structure need reworking, and the letter also contains faulty capitalization. Also, consider hyphenating “God fearing”, as that should send the message you apparently wish to convey. I will reconsider your request upon my receipt of a more properly written letter.
God is Love,

Conversation that just took place in my office:

ME, TO COWORKER: Maybe someone here will go out and get your pizza for you if your pay them the tip money.
SALESWOMAN: I'll go out and get it if you're a big tipper.
ME: Al Gore is married to a big Tipper.
DIFFERENT SALESWOMAN (walking past, five minutes later, in a monotone): You're real funny, Caren.

I've gotten several interesting responses to Dr. Luisa Pimentel Estrada's letter, which I will post here anon.
I decided to donate $1,000,000,000 USD to all three of these foreigners to help them out. Now I can't afford lunch. Anyone got a quarter?
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.

Not much traffic on the roads this morning. People listened to the weather and were smart, I guess.

Today's installment from my e-mail:

I am Dr Luisa Pimentel Estrada, the wife of Joseph
Ejercito Estrada,former president of Philippines. I
have children with my husband Jose, Jacqueline and
Jude.Two sons and a daugther.This mail may be coming
to you as a surprise or an article but it is very
real.I gave the mail to my daugther Jude to send the
mail to any contacts she sees and may be a God fearing
person will listen to our plight.I will want you as
the receiver to read through it and think very well if
you can help or render us any assistance. My husband
Joseph Ejercito estrada was elected as the 13th
President of the Philippines in May 1998 by the people
of Philippines due to his popularity in the film
industry...the way things are going with us,my husband decided to let me know that he deposited some money with some
Banks .These funds are presently deposited in his
private Bank accounts, Three in whole, one in
Europe,one in Central America and one in the Bahamas
and all deposited in our name. The Fund in question is
put all together exceed One hundred Million. 45
Million USD deposited with a Bank in CommonWealth of
Dominica,30. Million USD with a Trust Company in
Europe - and the Bahamas- 35. Million USD. ...I would want us to be in partnership in any good business you may suggest in
your country. Please handle this transaction with
maturity and sincerity.
Best Regards,
Dr Mrs Luisa P.Ejercito Estrada


To read about the winter storm watch, link to my even more exciting Blog of My Barometer.
If you didn't notice, there's a flu outbreak.

It's going to snow Saturday.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


This article on Santa is posted on Yahoo! news as if it's for real. I mean, I guess it is...maybe?
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.


There's an interesting Reuters story about J. Robert Lennon's struggles as a writer...pretty good. I finished The Mailman at 2 a.m. two nights ago, and it's wonderful holiday vacation reading. You've got a small-town mailman who's reading other people's mail, the authorities are circling, but he has other personal failings to overcome at the same time. Poor schlub. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Woke up, put on clothes, went to work.