ahhh the fickle nature of the spiritual seeker..

So I went to the Sunday "choir" Agape service because a lot of people told me it was much different from the Wednesday night service and it was. The choir has been around for 21 years and it is a well oiled machine filled with people of all races and ages all dressed in colorful ethnic garb. They sang rousing versions of both spiritual and soul songs and were tightly conducted by Michael Beckwith's wife, Ricky who is also a wonderful piano player and singer. Yesterday's service was the first one to be streamed live to a web audience and perhaps that's where the problem lie. After the meditation section and musical introduction, which were both very nice, we were treated to at least 25 minutes of sales pitches for classes, social events and lectures. All of these events are clearly marked on a huge bulletin board and in the flyers you are handed each time you come to Agape so there's really no need to spend such a huge amount of time of what is supposed to be a church service on selling. The very energetic woman who did the really hard core pitch session concluded each description of classes or whatnot with something akin to: "hey, for only 35 dollars I'm going to go to that one!!!"
I think that it's great to have all of these seminars available for people but it really began to sound like a snake-oil salesman.."go to the fabulous bookstore and buy the DVD's! Please tithe as if you are paying God!! Go to as many lectures as you possibly can!" (I didn't find one that was free, not even the disco night..) Okay my last rant about the money issue is this. The web streaming is 5.95$ for people to watch EACH service and they stated that "someday, after we pay off our web streaming expenses..it will be free". Well, last I looked there were about 400 people in that room giving on average 5 dollars a piece for that Sunday service alone and there are 3 services on each Sunday plus many others during the week...oh and all of the people working are volunteers and I presume the building is owned by the church and all of the donations are tax free so my question is...how much does it cost to put up a couple of cameras and stream it onto an already existing website???
My spiritual-seeking patient mind was racing with numbers while I should have been thinking enlightened thoughts. Money issues aside I then noticed that when Michael Beckwith came up to do his sermon of the day which was "your slip is showing" (which "slip" stood for spiritual luminosity ...I forgot the rest because frankly it all started to sound the same.) He got up and yelled in his high register for the entire speech he gave. It was difficult to maintain focus because he was always at the same loud high pitchy yell...no fluctuation of voice..very much on your face and annoying. The one time he did drop into a lower register and whisper for a few sentences you suddenly leaned forward and listened. I think he was trying to up his energy for the web audience and that's understandable but it simply does not work in person, it was really hard to hear what he was trying to say. All of that said, I was interested to hear him quote Pema Chodron, the Buddist nun I have been reading and that drew me into the conclusion that the message is basically the same in all of these religions, new age or ancient : "stop being so hard on yourself, embrace all of your qualities good and bad, try to quiet your mind everyday, come from a place of love in your dealings with fellow human beings and all creatures and situations, understand that we are all God and everything is God and God wants us to be happy and fulfilled, life is the moments between making your plans so don't waste it...and on and on. Basically common sense but many of us need to be reminded of our inherent goodness and of the fact that as tempting as it is to dwell in the negative, we really DO have a wonderful opportunity to enjoy these years we are given. We live on a gorgeous planet, we are capable of having love and being loved and loving one another and there are sensual and artistic delights everywhere for us to enjoy PLUS a large portion of us in this world can do so without persecution, we have freedom to study, pray to our choice of God, have relationships with people of any race or gender without repercussion.
So, have I given up on Agape? Not at all...I just can't see myself becoming a groupie to a doctrine which is so money based, it was a bit of a turn off. The music and energy and love in the room is palpable and that I will hang onto. Buddhism? I am thoroughly enjoying dipping into that and taking from it what makes sense to me whether it be meditation or simply the message of "stop judging yourself!" Catholicism? I have to admit a mad love for the ritual of the incense-costume wearing-get on your knees and pray you heathen! of a great Catholic service, I in fact go during Lent and sometimes on a random Sunday to a local church who has a great Irish (cliche anyone?) Priest conducting the service. He is a jolly fellow with a positive message, not filled with the guilt and penance which turned me off as a child, he's quite modern and the service is in Spanish and English and the church is gorgeous so that I enjoy...
All in all I think this recent quest for an easy way to meditate taught me one thing, nothing important is easy! You must do it daily if you are going to get good at it hence the name "practice". Consider it a workout for the mind. I have also learned that I am a dabbler, I enjoy taking what touches me from each religion or faith that I study and then forming a nice little mix for myself, it seems to work..I guess I'm a bit of a rebel when it comes to enlightenment.
At the end of the day if anything makes a person more conscious as a human being and urges them to be kinder and wiser and more forgiving..then how can you knock it?
So, in spite of the pitches and heavy price on enlightenment I am still grateful that people like the Beckwith's and Deepak Chopra (as commercial as they are) are here spreading a positive and harmless message to people who need to believe in something...all good.

Radio show in the UK

I did a really fun radio interview with a great guy named Ian Cullen in the UK. He knows a lot about sci fi and genre, he's a writer and well, a really nice chap! Here's the link to the interview and his site:

FYI show times for the different US Time Zones on Sunday are 2 PM PST, 4 PM CT and 5 PM EST. Folk wanting to tune in here in UK that's 10 PM.

I hope you enjoy.
It's a scorcher here again in the southland, 100 degrees! ...and snow expected in Yellow Stone....very odd indeed!

The Wisdom of No Escape

My dear friend Erik Liberman turned me onto Pema Chodron's work recently. Pema is an American Buddhist nun and one of the foremost students of Chogyam Tungpa, a very renowned meditation master. She teaches in Cape Breton at Gampo Abbey in the first Tibetan monastery in North America established for Westerners...it's in the wilds of Nova Scotia and sounds like an amazing place to study meditation with a woman who appears (in her books) to have a wonderful take on the absurdities of the human condition. Pema teaches that instead of viewing our perceived faults such as jealousy, envy, anger and impatience as negatives, we should simply understand that those qualities are part of what makes up "us" and we should try to get to know ourselves in a loving and forgiving manner, simply noticing these characteristics and taking note of them but not beating ourselves up over it or them. I realize that I am bastardizing her ideology into a very basic thought and I mean no disrespect ...but that's the kernel I took away from her book "The Wisdom of no escape". That and a better way to meditate..when the annoying voices start to interrupt me I simply label them "thinking" , not in a non judgmental way... instead of getting all worked up over the fact that I cannot shut my brain up!

I know that I am ripe for comments such as "she must be going through a mid life crisis and is in search of a spiritual answer" what with me going to Agape and jumping into Buddhism, meditation and all sorts of things on a regular basis..but the truth is that I have always wanted to get out of my head and out of the ego. Even when I was a kid I would meditate only I didn't call it that. I had the ability to leave my body and fly when I was a kid...astral travel some call it. I would lie on my bed and start to feel all tingly then suddenly I would pop out of my body and look down on what appeared to be my sleeping form. I would then fly through the roof and out into the sky, usually a night sky filled with stars. Maybe I was dreaming but to me it was all very, very real and I got to the point where I could do it when I wanted to, I could make myself do it during the day or night. Somewhere around the age of 14 I lost it and I have missed that gift ever since. I would always come back from my little travels stronger, calmer and more confident. Who knows, perhaps that's what I am looking for now, a way to send my soul on a little trip while my body waits patiently for me to come back home.


I'm not sure if any of you have heard about Michael Bernard Beckwith (he was in the movie and the book "The Secret" , he runs the Agape International Spiritual Center in Culver City, California.
Agape is Greek for "unconditional love" and in Webster's is defined as "a love feast". It's a transdenominational community at the Agaoe center with mere hints of Jesus and a large splash of God so agnostics may not be keen on it but I found it to be a nice way to spend a Wednesday evening.
The music is wonderful with a great female singer who performed everything from gospel to Michael Jackson songs....they like Motown music which is good by me. The band was very good and another man sang a really great song but I didn't get his name (it's not easy to hear from the back so next time I'm going early to get a better seat!)
There was a moment when the first timers had to stand up so I did and everyone around the room smiles at you with out stretched hands and repeats lovely phrases after Reverend Michael..it was actually quite moving and I couldn't get the big silly grin off of my face for a good 10 minutes. On the down side I had two men in back of me who seemed to be competing for the "who can sing the loudest and most off key" gold cup and a fellow who must have watched too many southern Baptist revival meetings as a young 'un because he kept stating "Yes Michael!" emphatically after just about everything the Reverend said...a bit much for me but perhaps I am a little shy.
In fact part of the sermon that night was about the Reverend having a pain in the butt member of his church who in spite of the man's irritable nature and uncanny ability to make everyone dislike him to the extreme..Michael began to actually grow fond of this little monster, and he didn't like the fact that he WAS! It was a cute story which reminded us to open our hearts, come from a place of love and forgiveness and to be patient and kind to our fellow beings...an oldie but a goodie.
I have always enjoyed going into churches as a kind of "spiritual resting place", they are generally quiet and a good place for reflection and I love the smell of incense and the costumes so I tend to hang out in churches especially when traveling. This is a completely different sort of place with noise and people drinking their drinks and eating their free kettle corn samples and reading the programs and chatting, singing etc. not nearly as uptight as say, the Catholic church I attend for Lent. All in all I am happy that I went and I'm sure that I will return to drink form the cup of positive thinking and to remind me that I am not alone in my quest for peace.


I apologize to those of you who tried to find out where to buy my books etc. to no avail. The merchandise link is now active and will take you to a page where you can view and purchase my knives, books, etc. and soon i will have a photo gallery as well with collectible prints. Thanks for the interest and thank you Caroline for whipping up this page...new sites are always a work in progress and I appreciate the feedback!
Best, CC


I just finished watching a rough assembly of our DVD LIGHT. David is an extraordinary teacher and everyone from pros to amateurs will learn something from this very entertaining DVD on the techniques of using various lighting techniques and products to create beautiful portraits. David used some of his own extremely popular small light modifiers in the shoot as well as other products from various manufacturers.

You can find his products and the DVD come Early September (we hope) at his website:

You can also visit David's blog at: http://davidhonl.blogspot.com

The photo is of David and I during the cooking segment of the DVD- David teaches how to photograph food like a cover of a cooking magazine without any of the "food stylist's secrets" - he only used light.

The fellow holding the clapper is USA Today staff photographer Bert Hanashiro, whom we had lunch with after the segment and he spoke on camera about his first camera and the joy of discovering motor driven "modern" camera equipment....very entertaining for photography junkies!

I will also be carrying the DVD on this website when it comes out because I know I have some excellent photographer friends out there...I've seen the photographic proof!

xx cc

Anne Manx radio interview

I did an interview for the Anne Manx series recently with Howard from Destinies radio station in Stonybrook. I have been on the show before and had fun both times..great people and Howard knows his sci fi! You can hear the 2 part interview on their web site: www.captphilonline.com/Destinies.html
You can also visit The Radio Repertory Company of America's website at www.rrca.com for information on all of their wonderful productions. I have been playing Anne Manx, the futuristic cop who has many lives, for years now and I never tire of her! The productions are first class with fabulous guest stars from the genre world, wonderful music and snappy dialogue. Larry Weiner and Angelo Panetta do a fantastic job of writing and producing these fun audio books and I am happy to be involved with them until Annie runs out of lives...which I hope never happens! The series has won numerous awards and has brightened many a road trip so if you like audio productions, these are like listening to an old radio show or a movie without the picture!
Speaking of movies...I saw Julia and Julia last night and LOVED it...my Mom and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you like food, Paris and Meryl Streep...run!

2 dynamite ladies!

I had lunch today with my Aunt Margo and my mother, both in their 70's. The food was excellent at Mozza on Highland , awesome salads and Pizza and a butterscotch pudding with caramel and cream that knocked our socks off! The conversation was tasty and lively too!
My Aunt has owned several antique stores in her life and several apartment buildings. She is a savvy business woman with a love of good food and travel. She is constantly telling me which restaurants are "hot" and where she and her "girlfriends" just got back from.
Today she was very excited to tell me that Stanford University is hosting a trip to Burma this Winter and they apparently have the best tour guides on the planet. She wants to go and she invited me as well! I've never been to that part of the world, she has many times and loves it.
She has been to India, Asia, South America, all over Europe and the South Pacific, New Zealand and Bali and Australia and the Alps...everywhere!
She goes with other ladies in their 70's and 80's and other girlfriends in their 30's and 40's...a bunch of dames traveling the world together. My uncle (her husband) suffered a bad stroke a few years ago so he cannot travel with her but frankly he was more of a fishing type of guy, Mexico was his place, not Taiwan or Bangladesh!
I admire her courage and stubbornness, she has not "given in" as so many people of a certain age do...they start to believe that they are "too old" to do certain things like travel or go dancing or wear a fun outfit, not these ladies.
I feel blessed to have such great female role models, my Mom exhausts everyone. She is a dynamo who is a very successful interior decorator, an accomplished artist, a fashion icon, a gourmet chef and the best grandma and mother a person could ask for. Generous, funny, beautiful and brilliant...I am one lucky girl.
It shows me with living proof that you can do anything you want as long as you have the desire and the health to do it. I so often see older people who have settled into a routine of watching TV, eating the same things everyday and generally not moving their bodies nor stimulating their minds. Retirement should be a time to learn the things you didn't have time to learn while working and see the things you have always wanted to see.
So many things are free to see and touch that you don't really need a lot of money to live a full and vibrant life, just the desire and the energy and maybe a fun partner in crime, though I have traveled alone many, many times and find it fulfilling as well.
Here's to the older people out there who are LIVING life!

Birthday poetry

I loved everyone's birthday's greetings but I must say that Tracy Scoggins wrote me a terrific little poem Thanks Tracy!

To My Friend Claudia on her Birthday

I've googled famous birthday poems
Read all and none will do
It's seems that Burns and Wilde and Yeats
Had not a friend like you

So fair of face and fast of mind
With steely will asserting
Yet a sweet scarred heart makes tireless time
For others who lie hurting

How sad for them, the poets past
Whose tomes my shelves bow stacking
They never supped with one like you
Alas, their mates were lacking

Your sister on terra firma, in space, and beyond,

thank you and here's some mindless natter

Thank you all for the kind birthday wishes...yes it's today and I am handling it with grace and aplomb (44 YIKES!!!!!!!!!!!) No seriously, it hasn't sunken in yet...
Saturday night David and I watched a movie we have walked by about a million times at Blockbuster..The Rocker. I rented it, we watched it and now I have to recommend it...highly. Very funny, sweet, great characters, acting etc. etc. We had at least 6 laugh out loud moments so that's a good sign.
I'm picking up my Mom today for the round of doctor's appointments and hopefully some fun as well...I'm calm and happy to be spending my birthday in a mundane, quiet manner. I have heard from friends and fans and others this morning...40 emails of love and hope and happy wishes and I must say..it filled me with a wonderful feeling, it's nice to be remembered.
I think about all of the people in retirement homes who have been forgotten by family and friends and I think next year for my birthday I might just do random visits to the many, many old folks homes here in LA and just say "hi" or maybe read the paper to someone or chat about their past.
6 years ago I started a documentary called "LISTEN". I interviewed people in retirement homes about their lives when they were young and their lives now. Loneliness was the overwhelming complaint.
Something to think about.
And I must finish that documentary!
Thanks again for the kind thoughts...
Love, Claudia

A funny essay on relationships

My friend the writer Michael Stackpole recently sent me an amusing essay he wrote equating relationships and dating to a television production.....very clever. Here it is:

It made me look at all of the "extras" and "co-stars" etc. in my own life! Puts things in perspective in a rather sardonic fashion!

Star Hyke!

Now that Star Hyke is coming out on DVD November 30th in the UK and they have interest from various TV channels to actually air the first season...Andrew Dymond and Jonathan Brown asked me to do an interview for the behind the scenes on the DVD. At first I thought about doing a serious interview but it's a wacky sci fi comedy with sophomoric sight gags, puerile potty jokes and a host of other nonsensical content (right up my alley!) . So...I decided to "take the piss" as they say in the UK and do an interview completely devoid of truth.
Here it is on YOU TUBE:

Enjoy! And feel free to comment to the moon..

Ran Valerhon

Every once in awhile you meet someone who "gets you" and is so generous of spirit and time and energy that they actually spend their precious hours on making you look good-getting your image out there or simply paying homage to what they perceive as something unique. I am blessed enough to know the amazingly talented, very humble and downright fabulous Ran Valerhon. He has been painting me for many years now and recently started playing with the elements. Many of his paintings are erotic so I apologize for any discomfort amongst you shy or prudish folks...it's the human body, it's art and I think they're really cool so I meant no offense by posting them, I want to get Ran the attention he deserves. Please visit valerhon.com to see more of his stunning work!

Fiddlin' around!

Last night I went to see Fiddler on the Roof for the first time in my life. My dear friend Erik Liberman is playing Motel the Tailor and he was wonderful. The show runs 3 hours and runs the gamut of humor and pathos but most of all what surprised me was the hits that I had no idea came from that show! "Sunrise sunset" and "Matchmaker" and many others...I had no clue. I have a confession...I don't really like theatre. I have done it and I have seen it and I always get caught up in the monotony of 8 performances a week of the same thing over and over and over...it drove me crazy to play the same scenes for 2 months 8 times a week! So many actors LOVE doing theatre and they claim that every performance changes and is enlightening...well I get the rush of energy and the lovely feeling from the audience when it's a good night but after slogging through 100 performances of Annie, I just wanted to kill someone...and if I ever here "It's a hard enough life" again, I WILL scream. I am incredibly impressed with actors who take a show on the road and do say..800 performances of Mama Mia! But don't they get bored? I would imagine that hearing "Dancing Queen" on the radio would make them want to hurl themselves out the window but obviously I'm wrong because thousands of young and old hoofers and singers and actors and actresses and slogging their way through miles and miles of musical numbers and dramatic scenes all over the world everyday and every night.
Here's to those who make for a fun evening out!
I suppose television and film appeal to me because everyday is different, maybe I have ADD.....is it vanity; as if I want the performances to stay on celluloid and not vanish when the curtain comes down? I have no idea but I still hold theatre actors and actresses in the utmost esteem.
I battled my way through Michael Weller's play "What the Night is for" in Laguna Beach a few years ago, playing a bi polar woman in the middle of an affair...not exactly a cheery play, I had to break down on stage 8 times a week. I felt proud when I was done but by the last week I was itching to get out of there and back on a sound stage! Maybe if I did a comedy I would enjoy it more...I'll have to investigate that. In the mean time Erik and the original Tevye (Topol) will be performing in Costa Mesa for the next few weeks if any of you are in the OC area, it's a swell show.

16,060 days and counting....

I did the math and realized that as of Monday August 10th, I have been on this planet for 16,060 days. It doesn't really sound like a lot to me yet I am smack dab in the middle of what most people refer to as "mid life". I turn 44 on Monday and it's an odd age. I find myself constantly wondering what legacy I have left; a boxed set of Babylon 5? A few good turns on the silver screen? Random kindnesses I have doled out in the past years? Hey, I have put many a starving artist up, fed thousands of people, "adopted" 6 kids through the Christian Children's fund, and had my entire French wine cellar drunk by strangers in 2002. Does that count as worthy? Not really. I'm not celebrating in the traditional way this year. My Mum is coming into town on my birthday and I'm taking her to her cancer specialist and then we'll probably shop a bit to get her a new outfit for her birthday on the 14th and then maybe an early dinner, watch a movie if I can figure out how to use the DVD player and go to bed by 9pm.
What a change from the past birthdays I have enjoyed. My Moroccan themed 36th birthday, Scottish themed 29th, my 40th in Ibiza, 19th in the South of France with Elle magazine throwing the biggest party I have ever had in my life and auctioning off a Rolls Royce in my name....those were fun times but this seems appropriate for the time and mood and place I am in right now. A slow day with the person I treasure most in my life.
Hitting mid life one asks oneself; have I done enough? But also it's a time to realize that if you a look at it as the beginning of the second chapter it can be even more exciting then the first. Not to get all Deepak Chopra... but you have the wisdom which comes with experience, the intelligence (hopefully) to know what works for you and what does not and the instinct to choose people in your life who add to it, not take away. I find that after 16,060 days here on Earth I have honed my friends down to a measly yet satisfying 5 people whom I know I can count on, who do not judge me and who would bail me out of jail if necessary. I think that's a really fine number and I realize that it took 20+ years for these friendships to solidify into that iron clad mass of loyalty.
I have to keep reminding myself of the people who started over in their 40's, 50's and 60's and up. Some of the most important discoveries were made by people older then me. Inventions, cures, innovations all created by people in their 50's and up. I met a woman on the plane to London once who raised her kids then her husband left her so she moved to Brazil, learned Spanish and went to law school then opened a law firm to help Brazilian women pro bono...she was 55 when she started that journey; amazing. My older friends say to me "God, I wish I was in my 40's I had my looks, my health and the world was my oyster. So, I have to keep reminding myself that I live in a city obsessed with youth and I am still a young woman with the world in front of me, choices I can make and that I can do virtually anything.
For my birthday gift to myself this year I filled out the application to volunteer at the Children's Hospital. They need folks to read to kids and play board games with them. I volunteered to read to them, after all I have written children's books and I can certainly act out the parts better then most. I hope they accept me. It's 6 months of service, 100 hours and about a dozen hours of training, the first orientation is September 14th. I think if there is a God, HE would make sure I get accepted and allow me to spread a little sunshine to some very bored, very sick children. I think it would do me a world of good to get out of my head and away from "Hollywood" for a few hours a week as well. So that's my birthday in a nut shell. Mom and hopefully some fine, life affirming volunteer work. I think it's a swell way to celebrate my 16,060 days here and I intend to make the next 20,000 days better and better each and everytime I wake up. Happy birthday to any Leos out there. Here's to LIFE!

summer reads for mystery-historical fiction lovers

I must confess that I have never been a fan of either sci fi writing (unless you count Ian Banks and Neil Gamain as sci fi) in my life nor have I EVER read a mystery novel. However....a friend of mine in London turned me onto C.J. Sansom and I am hooked on mystery now.
His Matthew Shardlake series is phenomenal! He was an attorney who started writing and his debut novel DISSOLUTION got me hooked on the adventures of this 16th century hunchbacked lawyer and his time in the midst of Henry VIII and the intrigues of monasteries, court life and judicial madness...such great fun! The third book in the series is in the photograph and his novel set in the 40's in Spain about a reluctant British spy in Madrid is also featured (it has nothing to do with the Matthew Shardlake series obviously).
He blends the historical accuracies and details that I adore in good historical fiction. Clothing, food, locations, smells, everything is vividly described and sets a tone for complete immersion in the time period, truly stunning research. I applaud him for his enormous skill, I envy him for having not one but TWO enormously successful careers and I hunger for his next efforts! These were great summer reads! Now if I could just find a decent sci fi book.......

Napa Valley

The Wappo Indians named this beautiful fertile land and they lived in harmony with bear, elk,deer and even panthers. The rich, lush soil attracted white farmers around the 1830's and by the 1870's they and their smallpox had wiped out these fascinating and harmonious indigenous peoples. One can still feel the connection between man and earth in these verdant vineyards and rolling hills. The views are spectacular and the sense of peace pervading your being is tangible. For me the 10 days I spent in St. Helena at my parent's home was a time for healing and thinking and a time to realize the fierce and never ending love of a Mother. In the quiet misty mornings my Mother and I would talk about family secrets and cry over losses and change...getting older for her, growing up for me.
I don't think there is any place I have been of late which fills me with such peace, you can feel the Native spirit in the sound of the new baby birds trying their wings for the first time or the plaintive wail of the coyotes at night. I saw young deer eating my Mother's roses and I couldn't resist watching instead of shooing them away. One morning I awoke at dawn to swim and found a dead baby bird in the pool..it had left the nest too soon, it's wings were not strong enough yet to fly. I felt a kindred spirit to that little bird on this trip. I left home at 15 and I think sometimes that instead of becoming more mature I am regressing to the little girl I was never allowed to be, perhaps my wings were not as strong as I thought they were...so it was good to be in the arms of my beloved Mother.
Many of my friends have parents who are ailing, it's part of being our age I suppose but it doesn't make it any easier. To see someone who was once so vibrant and alive become slower, hard of hearing..a bit forgetful and unstable on their feet is devastating. My Mom said to me "Claudia, getting old sucks." I would like to think that parts of it are still fun but I have to agree with her...it does suck.