Sunday, September 09, 2007

Thoughts, Opinions?

I had been planning on getting some kind of ebook reader for my birthday, but I couldn't decide what I wanted. But with being without laptop for a couple of weeks, I was thinking of going ahead, b/c I was going to get a handheld pc device. This way I could at least check email etc. Does anyone have thoughts concerning the Palm TX or Tungsten E2 vs. an HP IPAQ like this? Or have any other suggestions? With the palm can you only use their software? Would you be limited to their store? I find all the different IPAQs overwhelming.

Nothing left to do but read, read, read...

Saw-yee Mommy!

So the Destroyer lived up to her name today by popping the q key off of my keyboard. She's actually done it before, but I was able to wedge it back on. I'm still having a u problem. But this time we were outside, and I think the key went between the slats and under the deck 'cuz I can't find it anywhere. Sadly, I ran off to Best Buy. Good news, it's under warranty. Bad news, they have to send it out (2 to 3 weeks). In horror and shock, I left my laptop with them and headed home. Then I got all worried about someone hacking into my private info, so I went back and asked if I could clear my private data. And ended up taking it back home, clutching it to my chest. While I was gone, the Destroyer climbed onto my dresser and broke a bracelet that I'm fond of. It was from New Orleans, and had hand blown beads, which she filled her mouth with.

I'm sure any geek squad geek could bypass any password protection on my files, but I wasn't quite ready to say "bon voyage" yet. In fact, I found myself wondering if I could do without the q key, because, as you can see, if I stick my pinky nail in the little circle I can still get a q.

When did I become such a computer junkie? Probably when I was breastfeeding my son. I didn't want to expose him to television, but I needed something to do. I couldn't read one handed, but I could point and click a mouse. My computer chair had nice arms for support, and I could have my water there on my desk, easy to grab. And there you go. As they got older, I found that it was an easy way to grab a few minutes to myself here and there. If we do have the tv on, it's kid stuff, and reading requires too much concentration and it's hard when you have to keep putting the book down. On the other hand, reading a blog post, or TWOP snark doesn't require the same focus, and I can get up, change diapers, give hugs, food, drink, or play for a bit, then come back to the same screen. Thus blogging, emailing and browsing became a major form of leisure, entertainment and communication for me. I am dreading being without the computer for 2-3 weeks. I can't do much at work (shared computers), so I guess I'll be dropping in on my parents regularly. I'm going to hold onto it for another day, but then it's off to the computer hospital. I have to tell them to look at the u key also.

So I won't be around much. On the up side, I'll probably get lots of reading done. Maybe I 'll find some new tv shows to watch. Wanna take bets on how long it takes for the withdrawal shakes to set in?

Friday, September 07, 2007


Yummy Cover!

I had been looking forward to the anthology Boundless, for awhile now. Long ago, when I read and loved Bone Deep, I of course then went to check out Bonnie Dee's website. I was intrigued by a story about a scarecrow. But when I got around to actually purchasing it, it was unavailable, due to Venus Press going belly up. So I was excited to see it coming out again. Plus the other two entries sounded intriguing and were by Dionne Galace (the artist formerly known as Bam) and Annie Dean, who I was familiar with from lurking about at It's Not Chick Porn. Hmmm...I guess it's time to officially move Bam to the writer blog section. Anyhoo, I bought this immediately, and am happy to say that it's the most satisfying anthology I've read in a rilly, rilly long time. I actually can't remember the last time I finished an anthology.

**Seven Days by Annie Dean--As I said I was familiar with Ms. Dean through her blog presence, but was not particularly compelled to read her prior works. Well, that will change because I loved this story. A lot. It was my favorite of the lot. "Seven Days" is about a young novitiate named Teresa, who is visited by temptation in the form of a gorgeous incubus shortly before she is to take her final vows. If she succumbs to the temptation that the charming, handsome and demonic Dev presents, she will take his place in Hell, and he will remain to enjoy the delights of Earth.

Ms. Dean has a smooth and witty writing style that assumes the reader is intelligent. I appreciated that, as well as the fact that the story dealt thoughtfully with matters of belief and faith. The characters were great. Teresa is a devout young woman, intelligent, curious and serious. Though she can't resist her curiosity about Dev, she deals with him thoughtfully and deliberately, trying to figure out how to best outwit him. I could see how Dev would be as intrigued by her as she was by him. Dev is charming, sexy, and witty, as befits an incubus. The romance worked really well for me, a rarity in a shorter story. There was great chemistry built up by the conversations and banter between them. I loved how, even as they were adversaries aiming for opposite goals, they grew to care about each other and wanted to help each other. I even got verklempt at the end. Always a good sign (for the author, that is. Makes me feel like I'm getting soft). I'm giving this one a A, for good characters, good writing and good love story. Wonderful!

**Straw Man by Bonnie Dee--As I said, this was why I bought the book, and I must confess that I read this one first. "Straw Man" is the story of Marie, a lonely woman feeling increasingly stifled by life on her pumpkin farm. Out of boredom, she's talking to her scarecrow, for chrissakes! On Halloween night she wishes for the lover of her dreams. A few hours later he appears. That's right, ya'll, it's the scarecrow come to life!

Sounds kind of silly right? And yes, it's pretty much a standard "dream lover" type erotic romance set-up, but Dee makes it work. She captures that atmosphere of a quiet October night, when the air is crispy, the wind is blowing and the leaves are rustling, and it seems quite possible that something bizarre might happen. Marie is another likeable Dee heroine, a bit unsure, but determined to go for what she wants. And Sam (the scarecrow) was pretty delicious. He was perfect, of course, because he's what she wished for, but damn if it wasn't sexy how he just wanted to please her. Not only with awesome sex, but by eating together, or talking or cuddling. Whatever she wanted. The ending seemed a bit abrupt, but overall it was a nice, romantic, escapist, 'woman gets her every fantasy magically fulfilled' type story. I'd give it a B.

**Waking Kitty by Dionne Galace--Has-been reporter Jack Ridley and pink-haired Kitty Jones meet when a ship appears in the bar that Kitty waitresses at. Jack leads a team that investigates and debunks weird and supernatural events, and Kitty...well, Kitty has had a number of weird and supernatural events happening in her vicinity lately. The two are immediately drawn to each other, and fall in love while Jack tries to find out what's going down in Chicago and Kitty tries to figure out what is wrong with her.

I enjoyed this one as well, but I felt it could have benefited from being longer. There's a lot going on, and it felt rushed. Jack was a bad boy who just needs some good lovin' hero, right up my alley, and Kitty was a fun, quirky but not annoying character as well. But there was a little too much mental lusting at first, and the leap from attraction to love felt a bit fast for me. I also felt like the resolution, and the mystery behind Kitty's past was too quick. I liked so many things about it, but I would've liked to get to know the characters more, would've liked to see the relationship develop a bit more and would've liked to hear more about Kitty's mysterious past. I do have a liking a for quirky characters and stories where weird stuff just starts happening, and I liked Kitty and Jack, so B-. I will keep an eye out for Ms. Galace's future work, because she's got a fun style.

I'm going to give Boundless a B+ overall. I don't know if that's mathematically correct, and I don't care. This was the strongest anthology I've read in recent memory, with three slightly offbeat, romantic and enjoyable stories.

Contest-y Pimpage!

I am almost finished with Boundless, an anthology by Annie Dean, Bonnie Dee and Dionne Galace (heh, they all have "dee" sounds in their names). Anyway, I'm hoping to get a review up of this book really soon (along with Driven), but in the mean time some contest pimpage. I love contests when they're easy.

From Annie Dean's Blog--

Which Boundless hero is right for you?

Which Boundless hero is right for you?

Jack is your meant-to-be man! He's the ultimate "reluctant hero". He fears there is nothing else in the world to explore, nothing else for him to see… until he finds the right woman. He just needs the right woman to make him believe in magic and love at first sight. He'll come through for you, just when you need him; he'll be your knight in slightly tarnished armor. In bed and out, Jack is exactly what you need.
How do you compare?
Take this test! | Tests from Testriffic

Read more about the book here. And see Ms. Dean's blog for more ways to win.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Pimping a friend and a quick review

Any Broadway fans out there? Being a fan of a things review-y, and also of embarrassing my friends, I'd like to draw your attention to's new word of mouth panel. They have gotten rid of their professional reviewer in favor of "man on the street" type reviews. They chose 12 people to send to shows, then they get to review them for the site. And one of the reviewers is my old buddy Ellen! Here she is, in all her fabulousness. I look forward to seeing what she has to say about NY theater (despite the fact that I never go). Congrats on getting chosen. Can't wait to hear about what you've seen.

I also wanted to quickly review Measure of a Man by Bonnie Dee (who is that guy on the cover and why does he keep showing up everywhere?) This book is part of Liquid Silver's Terran Realm series, which is like...environmental paranormal. Or something. Terrans are a race who live alongside humans and they keep the environment in balance. Or something. Different people have an affinity with a particular element (earth, air, fire, water) and some sort of power that is related to that element. These are called Keepers and there are Protectors who, um, protect the Keepers so that they can do their work. Okay, let's be honest. I didn't really get the world building, nor did I care about it all that much. I didn't even quite get what the heroine's power of mental healing had to do with the air.

Whatever. Doesn't much matter, because I found this to be an enjoyable, fast read. After reading this and Dee's contribution to the Boundless anthology, I can firmly say that I really love this author's characterizations. She writes down to Earth, likeable heroines, and offbeat, tormented and very appealling heroes. In this case, it made the book work despite me being meh about the Terran thing. MoaM has a con artist/petty criminal (Ian) as the hero and he gets drawn into the world of the Terrans when one literally crashes into him. Mirabai has strong mental powers and she works as a psychic healer. Dee was able to make her charming and not overly hippy dippy and sage like, but rather a nice foil for the jaded and self loathing Ian. They had good chemistry and the relationship developed quickly, but worked. Mira has stolen an object from the bad guys (the Destroyers), and it's a pretty standard going on the run type plot. It was the characters that made it work, from Ian and Mira to protector Justin to the bad guy (whose name is currently escaping me). I give it a B, and I've already bought the follow up Fruits of Betrayal. Maybe I'll figure out why the Destroyers want to destroy.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Is nauseating the new scary?

Saturday night, the husband and I parked the kiddies with my parents and took ourselves off to the movies to see our first grown up movie in ages, the remake of Halloween. Why on earth would we spend twenty bucks on this movie, with all that's out there? Upon reflection, good question. It may surprise you to find out that I am somewhat of a horror movie aficionado, and I think that the original Halloween, is one of the best movies ever, and certainly the grandaddy of all slasher films. But my husband and I have suffered through many Halloween sequels, including the one with Busta Rhymes in space (I may be mixing 2 movies together here) and the one with Paul Rudd and the cultists (don't ask, I have no idea what was going on). So in the interest of completeness, we went to see it despite not particularly enjoying the Rob Zombie ouvre (His films, that is. Love "Dragula" and "Thunderkiss '65").

The verdict: not awful, but not great. If you haven't seen the original, start there, but this wouldn't have been an awful rental. If anything, it served to show what made the Carpenter so great, by taking those elements away. As a young 'un, I wondered what made Michael Myers such a killing machine. Zombie gives Michael a backstory, which is supposed to show how he became what he was. Since Rob Zombie never met a white trash stereotype he didn't like, it features grimy, slutty characters spewing verbal abuse. Surprisingly, it weakened the story quite a bit. Are we supposed to believe that the 10 year old Michael snapped out and massacred his family because his mommy was a stripper and no one would take him trick or treating? Were we supposed to feel sympathetic? I preferred the mysterious, robot-like Michael Myers. Much more creepy.

Michael goes off to the Sanitarium, where he grows up to be enormous and super-strong despite the fact that he's spent his life in a small cell making paper mache masks. He escapes and returns to Haddonfield Illinois, where the story then closely mirrors that of the classic. Except that instead of dread and menace, punctuated by grab-your-date shocks, we get lots of blood and gore. I just don't get it. Lots of blood and gore is gross, yes, but not scary. I'm not closing my eyes because I'm scared, it's because my stomach is churning. What makes a killing sequence scary is that mounting dread, you know it's coming but not when. And leaving the details to the imagination works. What the viewers mind can come up with on their own is probably scarier than what the director can come up with. In the new version, Myers, quickly nabs his prey, then we're treated to endless shots of stabbing or bludgeoning then blood gushing and spurting. Sickening, but in an "enough already" way, not a truly frightening way.

In general, Rob Zombie's over the top sensibility is the problem. At times, it almost seems like he's parodying the slasher genre, but he doesn't take it far enough. Like I said, he loves him the white trash, but the characters are neither entertainingly ridiculous, or sympathetic, just repugnant. Similarly, the teenage girls are sooooo crass and slutty they seem like a joke, but the long drawn out death scenes are deadly serious. It comes off disturbingly like someone's got a fetish for topless young girls getting violently murdered. If you have a passing interest in horror movies, it might provide a good scare, but there's way better out there. The revisioning was pretty pointless, and shock value substituted for actual shocks.