Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Not in this 'Lifetime'

Today was supposed to be one of those momentous occasions. My first day of my screenwriters class at Northern Virginia Community College. What? I didn't tell you that I'd planned to go back to school? Yessiree.

This is how it started. Lifetime, at the last minute decided to drop 'False Victim' as one of their projects. (And as for the villains in the book - I KNOW you read my blog just as you drop in from time to time to leave 1-star reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble - don't think I'm sitting home pouting about it. I STILL get to keep the money, thank you very much and as the Brad Paisley song goes, 'the more you run my name down the more price goes up i.e. book sales are strong'.)

Anyway, as I was sayin' 'Lifetime' decided not to proceed with the project. They do, however, own the rights until October 5th in which I can pursue other venues, but I probably won't. The fact is "False Victim" is very much a Lifetime genre. It's not a big movie screen plot, and it's a little too raw and 'psycho-drama' for Hallmark.

I did tell Anne, the producer, that I had other ideas for movies that I didn't necessarily want to put in book form, so she encouraged me to take a screenwriters course.

I was so excited to get started - I had looked forward to this class for months. So I get to campus a whole hour prior, drive around and around and around until I FINALLY find a parking space. I peruse campus for a while trying to acclimate myself to my new surroundings. Ten minutes before class starts I find my building. My heart is thumping with excitement. Here I am! ME!! Going back to class after all these years. Then my heart sinks as I see the 'class cancelled' sign.

((sigh)). Oh well. Worse things have happened. I just count it as a 'bad day at the office.'

I do have fun plans for tomorrow though. I am a member of the Salvation Army Ladies Auxiliary and each Wednesday we have tea at a different embassy. Tomorrow is the British Embassy. We're all wearing our hats so it should be a lot of fun. These ladies all know how to dress and while I'm really leary about posting pictures of my friends on my blog I will try to get some pictures to show you.

Until next time,


Monday, May 16, 2011

Tiny Mercer's Grave

When I first started my career, what I really, really wantedto do was to write for my local hometown newspaper. No such luck. They had other ideas for me and that was to sell advertising. Nope. I was hell-bent on reporting the news. So, I high-tailed it to the radio station and within 5 minutes I had a job.

My very first assignment was to find a grave. Not just any old grave, mind you, but Tiny Mercer's grave. Who is Tiny Mercer, you ask? George 'Tiny' Mercer was the first person on death row in Missouri to be executed in over 40 years. Rumor had it, that Tiny was buried in one of the local cemetaries in the next town over.

Please keep in mind this was waaayyyy before 'google', or even the internet. We're talking the early to mid 80's (yes, I'm that old). With that said, back then we reported news the old fashioned way. I researched and asked a lot of questions.

Finally, I'd narrowed my search down to at least 3 cemetaries. I pulled my trusty little pickup truck into the the gravel drive of a country cemetary. I was hoping I could nail this down on my first try. It was a blustery day, and the dark, looming clouds made the November evening seem later than it really was. The last thing I wanted was to be out scouting cemetaries after dark.

I cut the ignition and the old pickup gave a little bunny-hop before the engine stopped. I slipped off my loafers, reached for my green hunter boots and slipped them on, my pant legs bunched up at the top. (This was also long before rain boots, or wellies of any kind were either cute or in style). When I stood up from smoothing my pant legs half-way into the top of the boots, for comforts sake, I noticed two people, obviously grounds keepers working in the distance.

"Ah, great luck! I can ask them if he's buried here or not and I won't have to wander around looking for new grave markers. Then I can move along to the next place." (I knew I wouldn't hit the jackpot on the first try. That NEVER happens).

As I got closer I could see that it was a man and a woman.

"Good evening," I called. Each one of them had a gardening tool of some sort but I really wasn't paying attention. Besides, I'm not the 'gardening type' and I couldn't have told you a rake from a weed-eater.

"Hello, darlin' ", the woman said. Ahhh, I love to be called darlin'. Baby. Sweetheart. I'm a sucker for any kind of term of endearment. Never mind that she was a scary sight. Have you ever seen a woman with jet black hair with white blonde roots? It's kinda scary. Now picture a woman like this, at dusk - in a cemetary. Uh-huh. It magnifies the fear factor just a bit, doesn't it? But I ignore the chill that's just made it's way up my spine. After all....she DID just call me 'darlin'.

"I'm Kathie Truitt, with XXXX Radio and I understand that Tiny Mercer is being shipped back to town for burial. Do you know if he's here?"

"No sugar, I sure don't". She keeps working the ground, ever so calmly, doing whatever it is that cemetary caregivers do.

"Okay, well I guess I'll just keep looking. Thank you so much," I am ever so polite, just as Mama taught me. I backed up and tripped over something, and as I reached out to catch my fall I come face to face with a little silver, shiny, brand-spanking new temporary marker that reads "GEORGE MERCER".

Like a bolt of lightning I jump up, so excited about my dscovery, KNOWING how proud the boss is going to be, "Oh look! He's right here! I found it!"

I no sooner got those words out than the old man, who at this point hadn't made a peep, rammed what I now recognized as a shovel into the fresh dirt and started screaming at me.

"I'm his father and I'm ...." I have no recollection of what he said after that because when the shovel hit the ground I looked down - and I kid you NOT - Tiny Mercer's grave was 1/4 of the way dug up. Yes, you heard me. They were digging! him! up!

At this point all three of us were screaming. Tiny's father, the woman, who informed me rather loudly that she was Tiny's girlfriend, and ME. As their volume increased they kept getting closer to me and all I could think was, 'Gee, I sure never thought I'd die like this."

As I was peeling rubber out of the graveyard, the cops pulled in. Apparently someone at a nearby farm house had heard the screaming and hollering and called the authorities.

Later that night on news stations all across Missouri the lead story was how a young reporter had found two people digging up executed murderer Tiny Mercer's body. It wasn't until I listened to the story that I discovered Tiny's father and girlfriend were within their legal realm as they had exhumation papers. It seems that the State of Missouri gave Tiny a 'free ride home', but it was up to his family if they wanted to move him to his final resting place - which obviously they did. It would have been really nice if Dad and Girlfriend had shared that tidbit with me at the time.

Ah yes, the power of the prayer of a 19 year-old-girl: "Father, I don't know what I want to do with my life....but I do know I want it to be exciting." Tiny Mercer's grave was only the beginning....

More to come....


(Sorry, I have no pictures. I tried to google "George 'Tiny' Mercer" and nothing came up - too far back, I suppose).

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson for Mother's Day

For whatever reason, when the kids were little I started a Mother's Day Tradition. When they would ask me what I wanted to do for my special day, I always picked what I knew were THEIR favorite activities, rather than mine. After all, how many kids do YOU know that want to go antiquing all day? Sit by the river and watch the Eagles fly over? Or tour George Washington's Mount Vernon for the umpteenth time? Exactly. So instead of dragging them kicking and screaming for a 'boring' drive through Virginia hunt country, they shall for all eternity remember their mother riding "The Intimidator" at Kings Dominion. I know I will. It's hard to forget a ride that goes 0-75 in 1.2 seconds (and I didn't even puke). And yes, I'm sure they'll fondly look back for years to come on trips to the zoo, waterparks, and tasty Mother's Day meals at McDonald's and Chuck E. Cheese's.

While they're both grown now I have still managed to hold on to this tradition. We start off each Mother's Day the same. Church, then lunch at their favorite restaurant.

This year we catered to granddaughter Sophia and went to McDonald's. After she ate half of her chicken nuggets and fed the other half to Uncle William, or 'Wowm" as she calls him, she and her mommy left to start their own traditions. First to see her Daddy at his restaurant "Floriana". Then she and Mommy were going to celebrate her and Daddy's heritage at DC's "Italian Festival." Ciao, Bella (said, of course, in my best hillbilly drawl Italian accent.)



Sweet Dino was the only one missing from the mix today and he was sorely missed. (I don't know how we got so lucky to have him in our family, but we thank God for him every single day!)

Anyway - back to moi! After the girls left us to go do their own thing, William wanted to treat me to a movie.

"I'll see anything you want, Mom." Seriously, how sweet is that? But I KNOW he doesn't want to see a chick flick, so I inform him that I have been DYING to see 'Fast and Furious - Part 5".

Now, before you start canonizing me into 'sainthood' you need to know.....

Paul Walker.....

Vin Diesel......

and last but most certainly not least

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson were ALL in ONE movie. Oh yeah......Happy Mother's Day to me!