Sunday, January 31, 2010

Outlander and The Lost Symbol on my Keeper Shelf

I've got some VERY good news coming. Can't say anything just yet... (and you know it's killing me) but soon, soon. All will be revealed...

Don't you just HATE teases like that?
Me too, but I'm feeling smug so it's staying ;)

On books: I read two this week, thanks to a bout of insomnia.

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown -- let me start by saying I LOVED IT. The architectural puzzles of Washington DC, a fascinating peek behind the secretive veil of the Freemason society, a new mystic science called Noetics... it was all good.
This is one author who really does his homework. I don't mind waiting years and years for an author's book if he can captivate me so.
I almost took notes so I wouldn't forget some of the tres cool things he imparted.

But, I must laughingly agree with the critics who shake their heads at Mr. Brown's writing style. Eeeks. One sentence that will not dislodge itself from my head is "The door hissed loudly open."
Thank goodness he's an awsome storyteller :)

Diana Gabaldon's Outlander -- yes yes,... it's about time. The book came out in the early '90's and I've been meaning to read it since, but never quite got around to it.
Is it good? Let me just say, this 850 page tome took me only a little over 24 hours to read because I could not put it down.
I wish more books like Outlander were published today. These days, the shelves seemed to be packed with quick reads, lots of white space, and pacing that leaves you feeling like you've been on a rollercoaster for an hour too long.
Ms Gabaldon took time to fully develop her characters so when they did jump on the coaster, you were rooting for them, hurting for them, and falling in love with them. She also had a brilliant balance of description (ah, Scotland -- made me ache to go), history and romance.
If you haven't read this modern classic, do. Don't let the thickness or lack of white space intimidate. It's got nicely spaced section breaks... IF you can put it down.
Go. Buy. Enjoy the kind of books that are rarely published today ;)

On Television:

LOST is back this Tuesday!!! WOOT!!!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Can we bill the 11 million to the Panty Bomber?

I've been reading a lot (fact-based and op-eds) about the new airport screening procedures and what an even bigger nightmare flying has become in the wake of the PantyBomber.

*author note: you can call him the Underwear Bomber if you like, but I'm stickin' with Panty because it sounds more idiotic. And what kind of IDIOT sticks explosives next to his dick... What was he going to do with the 72 sacrificial virgins he undoubtably was promised? Sing soprano to them?*

It's a scary world we live in. Granted. But it's pissing me off that travelling by airplane has become such a freaking nightmare that I'd rather just not go anyplace.
I used to be that girl who would plan her next trip before this one was finished. I read travel magazines, saved air miles, even strategically moved closer to the airport (weird but true!)

Now? The thought of the lines, the body scanners (creepy!!) the three-hour-before-your-flight arrival times, the no-ANYTHING on the plane (people who made these rules do not have children, clearly) and get this... they're even considering 'smart-belts' -- seat belts that lock you into your seat at the discretion of the airline employee. *horror-movie-girly-scream*

Thank the Gods, all of 'em, that I've seen the Louvre, the Tower of London, the canals of Venice and the Alps cause if they lock me in a seat, I won't need a panty bomb to blow up.

For the US bound flights, the Toronto airport has to buy 44 body scanners (creepy!!) at the cost of $250,000 per unit. That's 11 million dollars folks. Not to mention the cost to run them and monitor them as they each 2 man team at minimum, one to be present with the passenger while the one minute scan takes place, while the other is in a room someplace else, so that they can't actually see the face of the naked person at whom they're looking (Come on... that doesn't creep you out?)

ELEVEN MILLION DOLLARS. Think of the Ontario arts programs that could pay for. Or what the Cancer Society could do with ELEVEN MILLION DOLLARS. Or how many Haitans could be fed, clothed and housed?

My question: Can we send the bill to the Panty Bomber? Or the Shoe Bomber? Or W?? ;)
Cause the airport taxes on my airline tickets often add to more than the cost of flying already and that's not right.

Why don't we simply put a police force on every flight -- hell the seats are half empty these days...
Or hey, lets get the flight attendants RCMP-trained (I hear they're good)
Or make us fly naked. (body scanners=creepy!)
Or in tight fitting Star Trek suits -- oh yeah!

Because some Idiot (see Panty Bomber, above) will find another way, like swallowing a bomb, or sticking it up his butt, for which the body scanner (creepy!!) is completely ineffective. As would be the naked flying...

Point is, if these terrorists want to bad enough, and get someone stupid enough (see Panty Bomber, above) it will get done.
Meanwhile, they've already terrorized the millions of people who tried to fly over the Christmas holidays. And beyond.
Meanwhile, I'm done flying.

Your thoughts?

**I wrote this before carry-on restrictions were lifted. As of Jan 20th, with the exception of creams, liquids, etc, carry-on luggage is back on**

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Just say NO to trout pout and cheek implants

To the Women of Hollywood,

Please stop messing up your faces. Please. It's not pretty, no matter what your 'people' tell you, or your management, or, God forbid, your plastic surgeons.

Yes - I'm talking about Madonna, Meg Ryan, Melanie Griffith, etc...

I caught Joan Rivers on some late-night talk show the other day and it was creepy. It's just not right for a 76 year old woman to have a lineless face. None-what-so-ever. She looked like she was wearing plastic mask *cringe*

Have you seen Cougar Town? I saw it for the first time the other day and thought I recognized the actress that plays best friends to Courtney Cox's character. I IMBD'd her and OMFG, it's Christa Miller, the cute goofy actress from the Drew Carey Show. Oh Christa, not you too!! What are those things in your cheeks? And you lips... *shudder*

Ironically, the ep I saw guest-starred Lisa Kudrow as a bitchy plastic surgeon. As Jules (Cox) got injected, Kudrow, with her aged-beauty undoctored, ridiculed the practice saying she would never be so stupid as to inject poison in her face.

So why? Why are they doing this to themselves? It's OKAY to age. It's OKAY for your forehead to crinkle up when you look suprised, or crinkles around your eyes when you laugh.
I get the face-lift, the eye-lift, even the tummy tuck, especially on mommy-actresses. Looking 'youthful and alert' is part of the job, one could argue, but the collagen and botox, cheek implants and whatever the heck they're doing that makes them look like an army of Jokers must stop.

Witness actresses such as Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, and Susan Sarandon, who, if they've had work, it's been very subtle and tasteful. They're ageing with grace and dignity, and most importantly: They're still hot.

Helen Mirren, for the record, is 65 this year... Wowsa.

The men... with the exception of Mickey Rourke, they're not doing this, so why are the ladies?Yes yes yes,... I know this sexism arguement too, but could you see Clint with a trout pout, Redford getting a shot of Botox?
Oh - Barry Manilow just came to mind. Add him to the Freak list.

What scares me most is the inevitability that what goes on in Hollywood eventually drips into the masses. How much longer until we see Attack of the Plastic-Faces in a mid-western Walmart. Everywhere you look, it'll be a sea of Jocelyn Wildensteins...


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What I'm Watching, Reading, Writing...

On Books:
Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections has been on my must-read list for almost a decade. I remember the buzz when it came out, when the author famously dissed Oprah. Ha!
I FINALLY got around to reading it and it was brilliant. Freaking BRILLIANT.
That said, as much as I was awed by his writing, I couldn't get into it for the first 100 or so pages primarily because I didn't like the characters. They appeared selfish, self-serving and bottom-line unlikeable. But as the story unfolds, as you delve into each characters childhood, their memories, their coping strategies, and how their shallow pschyes gain depth through the perspective their individual lives, the story becomes moving, disturbing, eye-opening, thought provoking and have I said brilliant? Even if the story of a dysfunctional family doesn't appeal to you, read it for the stunning writing.

I received Wm Paul Young's The Shack for my birthday from a very dear friend. I'd heard some buzz last year but wasn't interested enough to pick up the book. And truly, I didn't realize it was all about God, which would have sealed the deal on my avoidance. Don't get me wrong... I believe in God, not just the one who hates gay people and turns water to wine. I am, in despite of my disgust at organized religion, a very spiritual person. So... into The Shack I went with the dad of a kidnapped and murdered child to spend a weekend with the Holy Trinity.
Between the occassional eyeroll and chuckle, I admit to truly liking this book. Call it a right-time, right-place experience, but this book spoke to me, calmed me, made me open my eyes to a few things I'd firmly shut them against. The principle of the book -- relationships, acceptance, forgiveness -- were things I needed to hear, needed to feel...

The Shack, much like The Corrections, won't be for everyone, but each is cathartic to an open-minded reader.

On Movies:
Avatar. Wow. Was sceptical of the over-hype but WOW. Go for the visual brilliance.
The story is okay, nothing you've not seen before in countless other incarnations, but the world-building, the characters, the amazingness of Sam Worthington -- all worth the price of admission.

Sherlock Holmes. RDJ and Jude Law were magical together. Haven't seen bro-chemistry like that in a long time. I enjoyed this movie immensely, though it didn't give me that "OMG - this is the bestest movie evah!" feel like I got after seeing Iron Man.
But the story was excellent, the visuals spot-on (the close-ups, foreshadowing of clues - brilliant) and the acting superb. Can't wait for the sequel.

On Writing:
I finished a contemporary romance, currently titled A Taste for the Game, before Christmas and spent a good chunk of December querying agents. Nothing has come of that yet, beyond a few form rejections (ouch) so while I wait,... patiently, endlessly, obsessively checking email... I'm writing a new book. It's a stand alone, though it involves characters I introduced in A Taste for the Game, with the grand hope that if one sells, perhaps the other will.

I've been recently asked about my post-apocalyptic novel, Jump Zone. That one is still sitting on the shelf.
I will, eventually, dust it off, make some revisions to tighten the pacing (thanks to Eve Silver's pacing lecture!!) and get my querying hat on again. But the rejections (despite the great contest feedback - humpf) ... oh, they just overwhelmed me.
Also, in terms of a career strategy, it's best that I stick with contemporary until I have some level of success before I introduce my darker gloom on the world.

What are you watching/reading/writing?

Monday, January 04, 2010

Oh Canada!

Ha ha ha -- joke's on me. I thought I posted this two weeks ago and it seems I only saved it as a draft. D'oh... So pretend this is December 18th and share my patriotic joy:

The Olympic Torch came thru my town today, and although I had no interest in standing out in the cold to watch the procession, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and witnessed a little piece of patriotic history.

IT WAS SO AMAZING!! Can't begin to explain my reaction -- swollen with emotion, tears threating to spill over with pride -- as I stood amongst hundreds of school children who waved little flags and shouted "Go, Canada, go!!"

And now I'm psyched about the Olympics :)