Author’s mission, operation President Obama and the White House

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Some men see things as they are and say, “Why?” I dream of things that never were and say, “Why not?”

– George Bernard Shaw

Eighth Wonder.

So my goal is to write an 85,000 word, New York Times best selling historical fiction tale based on a true story and generate enough acclaim to receive an invite to the White House.  Today, I hit the 80,000 word mark on my manuscript, set in the antebellum south, although there were a few glitches on Day 5 of my quest.  Primarily surrounding my determination to become sophisticated in the arena of fine wines before my visit to dine with the President and First Lady.


To get to the White House, it’s a fact, I must do something extraordinary, since I’m not royalty, a head of state or a diplomat.  Once I’m invited to the White House, I must possess a certain sophistication, display proper etiquette, both in fashion and while dining, as well as when I’m mingling, perhaps being offered an aperitif before dinner with the leader of the free world and his beautiful wife.   Not to mention, I have to workout, I rarely see fat people in photo ops at the White House and I must also have a husband.   How lucky was Lamar Odom to have Khloe as his new bride at the Lakers’ meeting with the President? I need a spouse!  Okay.  So, I have two years to accomplish all of this and first and foremost is the daily writing, second most is learning my wines.


Individuals who are unaware of the price do not derive more enjoyment from more expensive wine. In a sample of more than 6,000 blind tastings, we find that the correlation between price and overall ratings is small and negative, suggesting that individuals on average enjoy more expensive wines slightly less.

YAY!  Imagine my complete joy at stumbling across this article.  It gave me a sense of empowerment on my quest to learn my wines!  No one REALLY has any idea what they’re drinking.  Only those fine families, but they don’t count, because who really knows these people.   I’ll only be at the White House for one day and anyone can fake class and sophistication for one day with proper preparation.  So I forge ahead.


Okay.  Stop.  So here’s the deal.  I’m REALLY going to have to rethink the wine refinement, connoisseur thing on my road to the White House. As promised, I purchased a bottle of wine and had a glass to drink before I sat down to write so I could share my refining palate with you all as I prepare myself in the area of all things upscale so I’m nicely refined and sophisticated when I meet the President and Mrs. in 2012.  And once again, I wrote about two pages and woke up three hours later!!! What is the deal with wine and sleepiness?  Seriously, it feels so good and really cool to have my .99 cent wine glass filled with a beautiful deep violet Merlot, but am I going to fall asleep on the President and First Lady?  I’m thinking that there’s probably something to the whole sip, swirl and spit thing they do at wine tastings.  But we’ll get to that later.


Anyhoo, I was at Ralph’s because I needed milk and saw a row of wine on sale for $1.00 and said hey, what better way to get started on my refinement?  Who was I to poo poo a wine just because it was practically being given away for free, had no date of vintage, and appeared to come from a grapes grown on a bridge as opposed to a vineyard.

Also, I checked the wine with the ultimate resource of wine credibility: Oprah’s Wine list, running my finger down the list with excitement.  I was hopeful maybe that I had discovered a gem, but to my utter disappointment Bay Bridge WAS NOT on Oprah’s list, nor apparently was it stored properly as described by my new buddy Brandon Walsh the wine guru on youtube, because I examined the cork as he describes below and to my consternation it was pristine, TOO PRISTINE, there was absolutely NO WINE COLORATION on the cork, indicating the bottle had not been stored properly on its side and this wine could quite possibly be tainted or oxidized.  But besides all that, I thought it tasted delicious.


Now, if the bottle wasn’t on sale for a whopping $1.00, I would have certainly returned it to Ralph’s due to the cork and the sneaking suspicion this wine was made in someone’s basement and mixed with grapes purchased at a grocery store in the Bay Area somewhere, but it actually tasted pretty good.   So it’s not on Oprah’s list, it’s not like Oprah is the be all end all to everything that has to do with crushed grapes and besides, for $1.oo, I figured that’s too much of a bargain to pass up, so I splurged, tipped my purse to the side, gathered enough coins and purchased five whole bottles.


Okay, so now that we’ve already established that most people do not have a clue about wines, their palate being just as undeveloped and undiscerning as mine, according to the American Association of Wine Economists research above, I will continue with my experience.  And if you disagree and find me to be an uncultured heathen with no right to judge wines, then you are probably right.  However, since most people, including the stuffy ones with high voices who look down their noses, don’t have a clue,  these will be my choices, of the wines I like on this blog, as I make my quest to reach the White House regardless of price.  If you don’t agree, fine.  Write your own blog.

Anyhoo, Bay Bridge Merlot, Silver Medalist of the World Wine Championships, (whatever that is), is an inexpensive deep ruby wine that I would not bring as a gift to the President and First Lady, simply because it cost $1.00, it’s not on Oprah’s wine list – forget everything I said about Oprah not being the end all, be all, when it comes to refinement, when in doubt, roll with the O –  and who am I kidding, it couldn’t possibly be a refined wine for $1.00, however, I did really love the taste and highly recommend it for your outside barbecue or your next tailgate party at your local college parking lot.  It’s smooth, nuanced with cocoa and herbs, enhanced by a soft, velvety texture.  I really, really enjoyed the subtle aspects of this wine cultivated from grapes harvested on a bridge and I love the fact that it didn’t have an aftertaste nor did it unsettle my stomach.


I read a wine review from some pretentious couple and they said Bay Bridge Merlot wasn’t something they’d actually spit out at a party if it was served to them, but it was basically grape juice in a wine bottle.  Perhaps that’s exactly why I absolutely loved it 🙂

As my buddy Brandon the wine man said, the whole purpose of ordering wine for dinner is to ensure it properly fits in with your entree.  I highly recommend Bay Bridge Merlot be paired with Baked Lays Cheetos, El Pollo Loco chicken bowl, baked salmon from Whole Foods, or a nicely cooked hot dog from your backyard grill.

Don’t fret, we’ll get to Oprah’s list.  And if you know of any wines that strictly people in the highest circles drink, please do share.   Until next time…

Stay tuned,

A.M. Calberg

Author’s quest to receive invitation to the White House from President and First Lady

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A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” – Oscar Wild

Mr. Wild.  What an inspiration.  He knew I was going to attempt the impossible decades before I was even born!


This is Day 3 – On the road to the White House

THE WRITING – Ah, the many, many road blocks to getting ones best selling novels completed.

THE POLO LOUNGE – Today’s distraction came in the form of an invitation to have lunch at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel.   Of course I quickly abandoned any thoughts of President Obama or my novel and I accepted, as I hadn’t been to the Beverly Hills Hotel since I won a Women in Film Scholarship for Best Graduate Screenwriter at their annual Lucy banquet too many years ago.  I LOVE the Beverly Hills hotel and have since decided I must do the Polo Lounge more often.

The Polo Lounge is famously named after the celebrities who would congregate on the veranda after polo matches in the early years of Hollywood.   This is the place where Marlene Dietrich relaxed at the bar  and the gorgeous Raquel Welch was discovered while swimming in the pool and Sammie Davis Jr.  hung out with the Rat Pat smoking Cuban cigars.

My friend, a marketing exec at Disney, picked me up and we whisked off to the hotel where she valeted.  On the way in, we passed Lionel Richie.  It happened in an instant, as most important moments in life do, like getting mugged or losing that parking space by a half a second to the soccer mom in the blue mini van.  I was so bummed that I hadn’t been a few feet back, because if I had, I would have had time to collect myself and make his day.  I’m sure Mr. Richie would have loved my rendition of “Say you, say me.  Say it for always,” or my version of “Dancing on the ceiling.”

Anyways, the highlight of the day, wasn’t so much the food or seeing Reese Witherspoon of Legally Blonde fame – who in my humble opinion was withering away, as skinny as a spoon, thus her last name but who am I? – no, the movie star sighting was nothing compared to the joy I got from being able to use my much needed White House etiquette skills gleaned from youtube.  I sat down and the first thing I did, according to my buddy, the youtube etiquette lady Nancy Mitchell, was take my napkin HALF FOLDED and I carefully laid it across my lap with the fold against my waist just like my new best friend Nancy had instructed.  To watch you have to doubleclick and it will take you to youtube.

I was prudent enough to check in with my girl Nancy – who lives in D.C. close to the President – before I went to lunch, but when I looked around the restaurant, imagine my horror when I spied all the other uncouth pretentious creatures with their FULL NAPKINS completely spread out across their laps in a blatant display of their utter lack of breeding! I gasped.

And then I smiled.

I knew Nancy would be proud of me.  After all, here I was, being treated to a fifty-dollar lunch, when I only had fifty-dollars in the bank, yet I was going places.  I had etiquette.  I had youtube and my novel and future trip to the White House, where I would be properly equipped to mix and mingle with the President and First Lady due to my proper youtube etiquette training.

Anyhoo, for lunch, I nibbled on the basket of thin bread crisps, and ordered a salmon sandwich with diet mashed potatoes, but to my chagrin the potatoes were cold.  That just wouldn’t do!  I smiled and politely noted the issue of my cold, expensive mashed potatoes, and the waitress promptly took them away with an apology, and I smiled again, hoping the chef wouldn’t get offended and spit on them before he sent them back to the table.



Distraction #2.  Wendy was talking about Valentine’s Day and first kisses.  She said she didn’t remember hers.  Well, I remember mine.  I won’t say his name – for reasons you’ll soon discover –  but I remember it like yesterday.   It was in the trail on the way to Aloha store and I was about 10 years old and I think it was summer.  But anyhoo, I remember having a HUGE crush and I felt all tingly and he kissed me and…YUCK!  IT WAS A SPITTY SLOPPY SMELLLLLLY kiss.  SMELLY?  WHY DID HIS SPIT SMELL?  I about gagged and sought solace in a Kit Kat bar that he bought me, which kind of made up for the smelly spit.  At any rate, I don’t think it was that great for him either, because I saw him twenty-years later and he was gay.  🙂


In the words of Mr. Wild I see the dawn, when no one else can, I see the President and First Lady, smiling from ear to ear, having read my historical fiction novel, where the unlikely hero, who was once the most famous man at the turn of the 19th century, he too made it to the White House.  There are so many interlocking connecting firsts to this unfolding saga and I will keep you apprised of each scintillating detail as the tale continues to be spun.

Road to the White House

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“No person has the right to rain on your dreams.”  Marian Wright Edelman

That’s Right.  I agree with Marian and if I have no idea who she is or why she’s being quoted on the internet then who can tell me I can’t write an award winning New York Times Best Seller and meet the President of the United States and his lovely wife, Michelle?

I downloaded this picture of the President and First Lady as motivation and I spoke to it, telling them it was an honor meeting them.  Words have power, so I decided to speak my invitation to the White House into existence, calling those things that be not as they are.  It’s in the Bible and after all, this is a huge quest I have, so I need all God’s help.

DISTRACTIONS TO WRITING MY NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER:  THE FIRST DISTRACTION came last night.  I was all ready to write for a few hours when a distraction came a calling in the form of another writer.  We wrote on a t.v. show together and keep each other abreast weekly of what all is not going on in our dead and buried careers.  The problem is, he’s not as pressed as I am because he has several novels that he has self-published that bring in six-figures a year.  And he didn’t decide like I did that he wanted to meet the President and First Lady so he feels he has time to sit around and pontificate about nothing.

Anyway, often when he invites me to “get it in” as we call our writing sessions, we usually “get it in” with  A LOT of talking and very little writing.  Needless to say, we went to Tony Roma’s, talked, ordered our plates – he ordered a plate of ribs and I ordered barbecue chicken, a healthy side of broccoli, and a healthy baked potato with plenty of sour cream and extra butter – and well, by midnight I had not written one word, but I was tired and pleasantly full.  I REALLY can’t allow myself to fall for his blackmail, basically that I’m lazy if we don’t get together.  What he doesn’t know is I have 77,279 words written on my novel, precisely because I LIE (forgive me God) and make excuses NOT to “get it in” writing with him at Starbuck’s, because every session for the past two years has turned into tirades against our old show and his old agent and all agents and all of Hollywood and…!  Sigh.

THE SECOND DISTRACTION was another writer friend who has been plugging away the past ten years.  The writer asked me to give notes on a screenplay that’s been in the works the past two years.  It was my fourteenth or fifteenth set of notes.  SERIOUSLY.  Maybe even more.  I have a hard time finding people to give me feedback on ONE pass, much less FIFTEEN or a HUNDRED?  I REALLY don’t know how I walk since I have no backbone.  Anyways, I really like the story, but wanted to get it out the way so I could get back to my novel, and I was really hoping this version would be perfect and forever laid to rest.  Well, let’s just say I’m glad I’m not the suicidal type or a cutter, because I think pass one-hundred and one is coming…

THE THIRD DISTRACTION.  Beyonce and the Grammy’s.  She’s the queen of pop and she’s wearing a hot, shimmering silver number that hits just above her taut thighs, and her shoes are matching glimmering silver stilettos, which looks incredibly sexy and her blondish wig is flowing down her back, blown by a wind machine, accentuating the fact that she is just FLAWLESS.  How can I write the next best seller when Beyonce and all her fabulosity is on t.v.?

THE FOURTH DISTRACTION.  The Black Eyed Peas.  They were on the Grammy’s and they were dressed like toy soldiers or something and the performance was a hot smoking mess. I watched out of curiosity, primarily because two of my friends managed the group through their signing onto Interscope Records and the launch of their first album.

RANDOM DISTRACTION.  Taylor Swift.  NOBODY KNEW WHO SHE WAS BEFORE THE MTV INCIDENT, now she’s winning Grammys. Kanye West is a troubled bird, who had no business taking the mic from her and saying Beyonce should have won best video, but seriously, she needs to send him a box of something, Xanax, tampons, or perhaps a round trip ticket for he and his ex-stripper girlfriend to somewhere fabulous like the Cayman Islands or Hawaii because I had NO CLUE who she was before the MTV stunt he pulled.  Seriously.  He MADE TAYLOR FAMOUS.  Taylor, if you ever stumble upon this blog or just happen to be at the White House when I’m there dining with the President and First Lady.  Seriously.  Buy Kanye some chocolates or something.  You owe him for your spike in CD sales.  Seriously.  All jokes aside.  Please send Kanye something.


It’s not only about writing a great novel.

There are other dimensions to my quest to reach the highest echelon of U.S. society.  I’ve decided I must become a woman of refinement.  So I must take a refresher course on etiquette, which I could pay for a class, but why would I do that when there’s youtube?  I also must know my wines. I don’t have any depth of knowledge regarding wines.  Actually, I don’t have any knowledge about wines at all.

I feel I should learn something about wines to prepare myself for the trip to the White House.   When my novel becomes a best seller I imagine I’ll be traveling in higher, more sophisticated circles on a regular basis, holding conversations with people like my parents friends who always talked like their noses were stuffed or some of the people in Greenwich, Connecticut I interviewed when I was a young reporter and they always surveyed me up and down with their eyes before trying to use some word they assumed I wouldn’t know.  I know words people.  Don’t let the curly lashes fool ya.  It’s not that I haven’t been to events of society before, I just never paid attention and kind of blended in with the furniture.

I know Pinot Noire, because I’ve heard it before and of course all the rappers sing about Crystal and I remember having some Dom Perignon before .   But where should I start on my wine education?

Well, like any American seeking to find out what is appropriate in the rarefied air of upper society, I have begun my research with America’s number one billionaire celebrity aficionado on all things appropriate to live a high life: Oprah.

God bless Oprah!  She has a fine wine list!  So, I’ll begin there.

My goal is to become acquainted with the top twenty whites, reds, sparkling and of course the top five champagnes, as well as how to properly drink each, the proper glasses etc.  I will share of course, here.  I will taste each before I begin my writing, purchasing a bottle a week and try to develop my pallet, perhaps even discerning the flavors of the wood.   🙂



So, I wrote about two pages, then I got a little excited about my new wine refinement journey and well, I bought some Andre champagne for $4.99 from Ralph’s along with some Ralph brand orange juice, which I’m thinking probably isn’t very sophisticated, but I’m breaking new ground.


I purchased a wine glass for .99 cents at the .99 cents store and was feeling really grown up and sophisticated, although I was quite irritated when the cashier told me it was $1.10 and was pretty dismissive when I said, “um, isn’t this the .99 cent store?” She said, “It’s only ten cents more.”  There were a few people behind me and in this economy tempers are high, so I didn’t want to hold up the line and let it slide.  But didn’t it occur to her I was AT the .99 cent store to save money?  I have to put premium gas in my Mercedes and that ten cents is like an extra vapor or something.  Geez.  Anyways, I’m not sure if the glass is for white or red wine, but I’m positive it’s NOT for champagne, but I made myself some mimosas anyway, pretended the glass was fine crystal and the orange juice was fresh squeezed and then I started to write.


I was thinking, this is the life.  Here I am, a single woman with a masters degree, making $210 a week off of unemployment on checks that the state somehow never manages to send, drinking champagne out of my .99 cent wine glass, writing my award winning historical fiction novel in my cozy town home.


And I learned pretty quickly, after about two sentences, two glasses, and a three hour nap, that champagne and award-winning novels don’t mix, especially if you’re on a two year plan to meet the President and First Lady.  So I may have to rethink the wine refinement while writing.  It sounds romantic and cool, but it’s not cool at all if you fall asleep for three hours, that’s a good plan if your goal is not to get anything accomplished.

Stay tuned….

A.M. Calberg