today is a day of listening to 1990s-era Madonna, wearing a t-shirt that features a kitten wearing a cowboy hat riding a shark that is vomiting a rainbow in space, and wasting the afternoon away.
I haven’t been writing this year, like…nearly at all. There will be no more volumes in the Love You to Death series, which I am pretty OK with. It was a lot of work, and it was a good run — and goddamn if the Season Five book isn’t jam-jam-jam-packed with awesome interviews and a flipping foreword by Kevin Williamson which still boggles my mind when I think about it — and now Vee and I are freebirds flitting around, looking for new branches to perch on. The shitty thing about not doing another book with that lady is that man, I don’t talk to and email her every day all day. (Miss you, Vee.) (I am going to iMessage you right now.) (Okay, better.)
It’s a weird place to be writing-wise, I tell ya. I started writing my first book back in 2008, I guess it must’ve been, and for the next seven years it was a writing marathon party. And now? What the heck do I do with myself? I took an art class. I hang out with my pals. I wonder what I’ll write when I write again.
Rambling blog posts without purpose seem like a pretty good place to reboot, right?
Since last we met: I moved from the far east end of Toronto to the west end, right around where I went to high school and I keep having flashbacks (and echoes…) to this or that teen life experience. Which I do not mind at all. Plus: good Polish/Ukrainian restaurants where pierogies can be acquired and eaten. Now I have a roommate and a cat roommate and laundry right in the apartment and a yard and it’s basically paradise.
Since last we met: Love You to Death 5 came out, and it’s my favorite cover since maybe my season 1 book, and it’s chockfull of interviews — like, brimming with ’em — and I’m very proud of it. Would make an excellent holiday present for the TVD person in your life, no? Yes yes yes. Buy them allllllll.
It’s been strange times to not be writing about The Vampire Diaries this season — I just watch the episodes. I am not even watching TVD live, due to cable budget cutbacks. (New apartment costs a wee bit more than former apartment, ergo…) So, like, I do not even know what is going on in TVD fandom. It is a very strange feeling, friends. But I gotta say that having those eight or so hours back in my weekend — it took a while to rewatch the episode making copious notes and then writing 2,000 words about it for Vampire-Diaries.net — is a very strange feeling in a good way. Yesterday, I just popped by my sister’s and played Go Fish for hours. A surprisingly dynamic game, Go Fish.
Now is the time of year when I race to finish my Goodreads challenge, and I have been blazing through some great books by clever women (Roxanne Gay, Amy Poehler, Lena Dunham, Caitlin Moran), but have now turned to my TBR pile of mysteries. Flavia DeLuce awaits…
Oh and to answer the search term I saw whilst approving Chace Crawford German Love comments, “what college did crissy calhoun go to?” well, I went to the University of Toronto, Victoria College, for my undergrad and got an honors BA specialist in English (after futzing around studying film and art history too), and then a few years later, went to Centennial College for the publishing program (which is how I winded up with my gig at ecw, where shockingly I have been working for just shy of ten years. Ten years!).
Our friends over at TV Fanatic very kindly announced the list of TVDers that Heather and I interviewed for Love You to Death 5, and holy smokes you guys. So many people! (Way more than last year, and that was an insane group for us.) It was pretty cool to receive that barrage of Yes-yes-yes! Personally I find the making-of insights fascinating — it’s just glimpse after glimpse into How It’s Made (where “it” is a highly well-made excellent and enduring tv series), and you get a great sense of the personalities behind TVD — so it was a delight to dream up questions and get so many great answers. In parts, the book functions like an oral history of this season, which gives me great joy … and hopefully will do the same for readers.
We’re now in page proofs — meaning the book is written and edited, and now we’re proofreading what the actual book pages look like, finding lingering typos, fixing formatting issues — and off it goes to print at the end of the month. Exciting times!p.s. If you wanted to add the book to your to-read shelf on Goodreads, or preorder it or tell your TVD-loving friends about it? Heck, we would be most obliged. Book’s out in October in print & e-formats. And our publisher, ECW, has a great program where if you buy the print book, you can get the ebook for freeeee! (Details are inside the book, and it’s super easy to get yo file.)
I’ve been meaning to post about My Trip to Rosewood for sometime, and what more auspicious occasion than Pretty Little Liars 100th episode day? I’m in the midst of a series rewatch — Emily just moved in with Hanna, and Toby just found the field hockey stick on the Hastings-DiLaurentis property line — and I’m struck again by how much love I have for this show. Suspense and scares, mysteries and red herrings, fun and fashion, and best of all: the characters. The joy of the rewatch is in the details you missed the first time (or second or third or fourth…). This 100 Moments post on Buzzfeed is a good refresher on some of the Amazingly Crazy Things that have gone down, and if you want to hear Lucia and me talk excitedly about what we love about the new season, you’re in luck. We chat about the first 3 episodes of season 5 here.
Well, first to L.A. Back in March, I went to L.A. for the first time in over a decade (crazy-long — my sis used to live there and I would visit far more frequently than never), and amongst the excellent adventures — TVD PaleyFest panel, jokes writing session with Heather Vee, seeing fam and pals — I had the privilege of finally meeting Mr. Norman Buckley in person.
Way back when, a.k.a. after I wrote Spotted, my very 1st book, about Gossip Girl, I’d sent a copy to him — he directed a number of episodes of GG over the series run — and he received it graciously. Turns out, as all of you who follow him on Twitter/Tumblr/etc already know, Norman is not only kind and supportive, but smart and thoughtful and engaged. I could really ramble on about how great he is — learn about film! politics! — but you can discover this yourself if you haven’t already: he tweets here, and tumbls here. And here’s a post he wrote on the occasion of PLL’s 100th. Couldn’t agree more with his point about the centrality of the girls’ friendships.
So Norman invites me to lunch. But he’s working the week I’m in L.A. So lunch will have to be on the WB studio lot; he’s shooting the PLL season five premiere. Plans are made, I think about very little else in the intervening hours than my impending adventure.
There was a slight shmozzle when I went to pick up my pass at the WB security desk to get in — the perils of having a pen name, Calhoun, that’s not on my I.D. — so I was running late (I hate being late) and the directions I received from the friendly guard were, as it turns out, to the PLL building (listed on my pass), not to the ‘executive dining room’ where I was to meet Norman for some executive dining. However there were two very cool looking people hanging out outside the PLL building when I scampered up to ask for directions. The guy turned out to be Jakub Durkoth, art director for PLL (Norman later introduced me, and Jakub high-fived me for ultimately reaching my destination). The woman required no introduction: it was Mandi Line, she obviously looked amazing and was the very definition of fierce and provided excellent directions. Thank you, Mandi! (My lateness saved me from giving her some breathless, half-sensical compliment about her brilliant costume designing, so at least there’s that.)
Lunch with Norman was lovely (and v. tasty — compliments to the WB chefs). We talked TV, and fandom, and his work and my work, and strangely ended up on this short film he’d seen that was directed by Gregory the Smith, which just happens to feature my sister. Small world, sometimes. I also learned what an “Arnold Palmer” is and subsequently order it with authority at other restaurants in America. (Maybe we call it that in Canada too? Anyway, it’s a refreshing delight.)
We stroll over to the PLL building — and by the way, it’s a perfect Californian day, blue skies, sunshine, slight breeze — and there my tour of the PLL HQ begins. The walls outside the offices are decorated with blown-up stills from the series, so it’s a little walk down memory lane/highlight reel of crazy-awesome. Inside the main office, the first desk that greets you (with a very friendly person behind it) has on it a bowl of candy and a sign with Tom and Donna that says ‘treat yo self.’ Best. These people are our people. Teen Choice Award surfboards are mounted high up (no shortage of those), cast and guest star headshots line the walls, and decorating various workstations are props from the show — newspaper clippings (I still get the willies from the Ali missing girl front page) — and photos of the PLLs. Most imposingly? The portrait of Alison from the film noir episode hangs above Kyle Bown‘s desk. It’s amazing. And huge. And intimidating. Joseph Dougherty (who directed said episode) has film noir posters in his office. Love.
All to say, the offices are awesome. And the people therein, just as awesome. Everyone was friendly and chatty and had lovely things to say about Rosewood Confidential, which meant the world to me to hear. (Unofficial episode guides to TV shows are not really the kinds of books that get a lot of review attention from publications, and besides who more in-the-know than the producers and writers of the series to give you a pat on the back?) So I was beaming, and trying to keep cool and moderately professional. I signed Lisa Cochran Neilan’s copy of the book (who knows what I wrote or if it was legible/in English), and it was cool to overhear logistics talk about the day ahead between various folks and Norman. Their shooting day, by the way, was starting at about 3 in the afternoon (shortly after I left post lunch + tour), and wrapping up at about 3 in the morning.
Then, you guys, then I went into the Writers’ Room. White boards everywhere filled with SECRETS. And I managed not to read a single word. I was super conscious of being…respectful of Norman’s trust and, by extension, that of the producers and writers I was meeting. He was introducing me around as the author of Rosewood Confidential / a friend of his (rather than, here is a person who loves our show and has a twitter account, please let her look at the writers’ room secrets). My eyes stayed on the people in the room (and my phone stayed in my bag the entire, entire time; I didn’t take a single picture). No spoilers. (I hate spoilers.)
While there were a number of highlights that afternoon, being in the writers’ room was definitely one of them. I met Marlene, Oliver Goldstick, Bryan Holdman (what a smile!), Maya Goldsmith, among others, and they were all jovial and amazing, and Marlene told me about stumbling across RC in a Barnes & Noble while on a vacation with her boys. I am pretty sure I ended that whirlwind moment with an overly formal compliment about the show, but I got it out somehow: PLL is top notch, and thank you, and keep up the good work.
Phew. After showing me the editing suites — an editor was already working on Norm’s ep, doing a rough cut of the footage they’d already shot — it was time for us to head to Rosewood proper. (Wait, that is a lie, we went to the Starbucks — ‘Central Perk’ since it’s on the WB lot — and Jakob and production designer Fred Andrews were there, and Norman then told me some cool stories about the development of various sets and why we don’t see much of the Applerose Grille anymore.)
Into the PLL golf cart! First, we drove around some of the backlot locations and through the main streets of Rosewood. (Which are the main streets of a number of other TV show towns, of course.) Rosewood High, the cop station/city hall, the Grill, the exterior of the girls’ houses, the pond (!), the DiLaurentis house, the creepy woods they are always running through (and there’s one tree in particular the girls always run by that is a running gag for the PLLers), and around to the streets that were being dressed for the NYC scenes in the premiere.
Then onto the studio lots — there are three of them to house all the sets. This was basically like stepping into wonderland. I saw the wall of A’s that the production designers keep outside their offices. I walked the hallway where Spencer bought drugs. I saw Emily’s bedroom without any furniture in it but with the height-markings on the closet frame. Hanna’s kitchen and front area (the stairs where she sometimes has a cry!). The Hastings kitchen and living room were suitably classy — that kitchen island has very impressive stools, fyi. Aria’s bedroom? Giant. (Which when I commented on its size, Norman told me it was originally smaller, but was later expanded to ease filming in there.) What is normally the high school set had been turned into the hospital where Ezra is convalescing in the premiere. The space where the cafeteria normally is was all medical, and the doors into the boys and girls restrooms at Rosewood High (at the end of the hall) were flipped to generic hospital doors. It was this weird Matrix-y thing where I could see what was in front of me — the hospital set — but superimpose that alternate reality on top — Rosewood High. Another fun fact: the cafeteria and Ezra’s classroom? Same space! They just redress the thing. I find all of this stuff highly fascinating and impressive, so I was basically agog the whole the time.
The police station set was somehow really creepy (hmm, maybe because every cop save for Officer Barry is a total creeper in Rosewood?), but wandering through the DiLaurentis house was the creepiest of all. Especially since there was an A message written in lipstick on Ali’s mirror. The other fun/disorienting thing is that the sets connect to each other, so you walk out from one PLL’s living room, between the set walls, and into another girl’s bedroom.
We ended the tour at the Rear Window Brew, and Norman took a photo: yes, I believe I was grinning this wide the whole time. (Originally I posed behind the counter — covering Emily’s shift, and looking for wads of cash in bags of coffee, naturally — but there was no lighting in that back corner.)
That couch is legit comfy, and if they made a replica of the Brew IRL I would frequent it. Norman said the girls like to hang out there, and I understand why — it feels like a real cozy spot. The sets are stunning to behold, and so on-point character-wise to the smallest details. (If I ever magically become a rich person, I’d hire the art director and set design team to make my home look so well appointed.)
And that, my friends, was my trip to Rosewood. A total delight. I love knowing that the gang of people who work so very hard to make this show as great as it is are so warm and friendly and welcoming. Thank you, thank you, thank you, to Norman for the A-fternoon in Rosewood.
Oh climate change. Snow on April 15th, +20 Celsius on April 14th. I’m sure everything will be fine, really. Let’s just plan for the apocalypse anyway.
Eatin’ some fruit salad, drinking some stupidly weak coffee, another day at ECW HQ to start rather soon. I’ve been feeling under the weather and a bit stupid and lazy lately, so my apologies for flaking on writing a PLL finale recap yet, and for being so behind on my V-D.net posts. But I’m mere moments from getting my head in the game again. Cue that song from High School Musical. Or this much better song from an album I can’t stop listening to.
I’ve basically forgotten to ever, ever, ever blog here, but I am still alive, I promise. Today has been the sleepiest so far — for some reason, I’m sleeping in like a teenager these days? — but here’s what is up:
With the return of TVD next week — episode 100! — I’ll be back reviewing/recapping The Vampire Diaries at Vampire-Diaries.net, and one of my new year’s resolutions is to post at a regular time! No lateness tolerated! So, expect ’em by Sunday midday, folks, and shame me on the internet if I’m late.
ALSO I’ve begun recapping Pretty Little Liars for Heroine TV! Read my posts on the first and second episodes. I’ve also popped on to co-host Lucia’s podcast, talking about Downton Abbey and Reign — history! edutainment! — and I’ll be talking PLL and Ravenswood with Lucia and Tash, hopefully later tonight.
On the book writing front, Vee and I are working on Love You to Death — Season 5 and PRETTY SOON we’ll have a cover to show you, which we hope you will think looks as SUPER COOL as we do.
Already have a copy? Well, if you felt like reviewing it or rating it or blogging about it or anything-ing it, that would be so very awesome of you. Every little bit helps us get the word out about the book, and help us when we’re pitching a LYTD season 5…
Thank you thank you for all the kind words and congratulatory tweets today and in the past few weeks! So excited about the book, for everyone to read it, and — most of all — to get not one but two TVD-verse shows back on air this Thursday.
Get that capslock button ready for twitter insanity.