Wednesday, May 30, 2007

STAR WARS Celebration IV

Barbecues, pool parties, beach picnics—that’s what a lot of Memorial Day weekends usually consist of (not to mention the most important part: recalling all of our fallen).

But my holiday weekend? A little different (except for the honoring of our citizens). In fact, it went a little something like this—



STAR WARS Celebration IV, baby!

With many a Jedi and Slave Princess Leia wandering the L.A. Convention Center, the festivities were both crazy and wonderful. The only thing missing was Uncle George himself, although I know he showed up at the previous celebration. I think he’s in the middle of that new TV series he’s developing, otherwise I’m pretty certain he would’ve been there. Harrison Ford doesn’t come to these events, and Mark Hamill was otherwise engaged, but Carrie Fisher was there in all her awesome glory. (I didn’t get tickets to attend her interview, damn it. But I’ve seen her at Comic-Con and she’s the funniest person alive.)

But we didn’t lack for much else. There was an exhibition floor, which featured scads of toys, books, artwork, autograph stations, and T-shirts (I bought my share, including one with R2D2 beeping at Princess Leia, and the translation reads “Nice buns.” How cheeky. I had to have it.).

Next door was a room where you could buy the STAR WARS postage stamps, check out how to join the 501st (the legion of Stormtroopers you see in parades, etc.), watch people throwing stuffed Ewoks at a Jar Jar cut out, or see a work in progress that was pretty marvelous: bit by bit during the weekend, a group constructed a scaled-down Ewok forest, complete with different JEDI scenes. The conventioneers could contribute their own efforts. Here’s a peek:



But one of my favorite parts of the room was entirely unexpected. A surprise marriage proposal was staged by an X-Wing, and my friend Rich knew about it. I totally had to see it, and it was ever so sweet. Here’s a pic of the proposal happening between the Emperor and a Jedi:



And here’s a gander at her cool Millennium Falcon ring:



Ring bling! What’s great about this is that half of it goes on her finger now, and she’ll get the other half at the wedding. As you see, there are diamonds back where the Falcon’s jets should be.

But lest you think this is all that went on at SWCIV, you’re wrong. There were workshops galore, and I was lucky enough to sit in on an interview with Irvin Kershner, who directed THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. We got a lot of behind-the-scenes juice, such as the details about the famous “I love you”/”I know” exchange. The original exchange was “I love you”/”I love you, too” (or something like that), but Kersh didn’t dig that and they spent most of the day trying out new lines. But when Harrison Ford was asked to improvise, he came up with the “I know part,” and Kersh loved it. George Lucas, however, did not likey so much. So they tested the line out in two different premiere cuts, and when the audience ate up the “I know” version, there was no question as to what they’d keep.

You’d have to be a STAR WARS fan to appreciate such minutia, but it was really interesting, especially when Kersh talked about how the “I know” broke the ice in such a tense scene and allowed him to build it back up again to the climax. As a writer, that’s a piece of golden advice to hear.

There was also an archives room, which had a smattering of props and costumes. Here’s a taste:



And then there was the droid building room, featuring robots that fans had constructed at home. Here’s an R2 unit (plus my buddy Nancy):


Add to that a pop culture room, which ran continuous loops of STAR WARS TV specials, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE skits, and MTV clips, etc. I could’ve spent all day in there as well as the fan film room, where winners of the independent film festival were shown. The offerings ranged from the impressive (PINK FIVE series—check out YouTube) to the odd (I won’t name names here.).

A visit wouldn’t be complete without seeing the Vader helmet room, either. This was interesting, as underground artists were given a basic Darth Vader mask to rework. They started with this


and came up with the clever


and the strange


and the beautiful. I



didn’t get to see everything, even in four days, so my blog isn’t complete. But I’ll be talking about my favorite part of the celebration in my next entry: a little, awesome play called “The STAR WARS Trilogy in 30 Minutes.” Seriously—it’s LAO-worthy, you all.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Big announcement!

I can *finally* tell you guys what I've been keeping under my hat for a while now. It just became more official....

The Penguin Group has contracted me for three more Vampire Babylon books!

Here's what you're going to see in Publisher's Lunch:

An additional three books for Chris Marie Green’s Vampire Babylon series in a deal with The Penguin Group. This second trilogy follows Dawn Madison, an ex-stunt woman turned hunter, to London, where she tracks down another underground vampire society that seems to have more to do with Lost Girls and Big Bad Wolves than reality. Editor: Ginjer Buchanan, agent: Pamela Harty of The Knight Literary Agency.

This next trilogy will have its own arcs and basic closure, just like the first will. (That's to say, your big questions about this first trilogy will be answered by book 3. The second trilogy will present its own mysteries and have its own closure by book 6.) I have the general plot of each book mapped out, since I had to submit a brief outline in order to sell, and what's going to happen really makes me want to dive into it! Alas, I don't start book 4 until October. (Still, I've got plenty of other fun stuff to write until then....)

Oh, and as to where I went this past long weekend? Toshi Station? Anyone, anyone?

STAR WARS Celebration IV! And this week, I'll be posting pictures and commentary--especially about "The STAR WARS Trilogy in 30 Minutes," which was awesome enough for me to see it three times. (Geekgirl!) I'll also be giving away exclusive convention items in future contests, so keep your eyes peeled....

Friday, May 25, 2007

Long weekend

Most of you have a long weekend coming. Any plans?

I have some fun ones, but I'm only going to give you a hint as to what they are. But I'll tell you exactly what I did early next week, okay?

It has to do with a celebration. And a Toshi station.

Some one you will have no problem guessing what these esoteric hints mean. Some of you will just think the clue to be strange. At any rate, have an excellent long weekend if you get it!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Blown away by LOST

If you haven't seen the episode and don't want *any* hint of *any* spoiler, you might want to skip this until you've seen the episode....

Okay...can't get my thoughts together and by the time I do, everything I want to articulate will already have been hashed out to death on the Internet. Still...

OMG.

Did you guys watch LOST? Brilliant. I mean, not only for having the sheer balls to pretty much reinvent the way they're going to tell this story for next season (at least), but for daring to mess with the audience like this. Part of me was afraid that I'd be let down by the finale, but...no. Hell, no.

Just when it seemed as if the flashback structure was getting stale.... Wow, great way to find another method of fleshing out these characters that we love and hate, sometimes all at once. And you know what? I don't even really mind that the writers didn't answer the lingering questions. I feel re-energized and can't wait for February. (February?! Say it ain't so!!!)

So here's to eight looooooong months....

TV fall preview...sort of

If you have about a half-hour to waste, or even if you’re a huge TV fan and you can’t wait to see what sort of programs will be cancelled within 2 episodes this fall, click here to peruse some very brief clips. It’s pretty fun, especially if you’re like me and you can’t help forming an opinion right away….

http://tvweek.com/page.cms?pageId=733

That is to say—I already know what I’ll be watching. And it’s pathetic, you all. Way too many programs on my slate once again, but I’m like a junkie. What else is there to do but feed my addiction? At any rate, here are some offerings that caught my eye.

ABC
CAVEMEN—I can’t believe I’m thinking of watching a program based on these Geico insurance pushers, but it looks rather humorous and energetic. Still, who knows how long the novelty will last before it gets old?

PUSHING DAISIES is a definite for me. It looks like there’s a guy who can bring back dead people for, like, a minute, and the cops are using him to wake up corpses to solve homicides. Looks witty and very entertaining.

BIG SHOTS has something to do with CEO guys, but all I saw was Michael Vartan. Hence, you wouldn't be able to keep me away even with a firehose turned to full blast.

MISS/GUIDED—Just from 1 minute and 13 seconds of footage, I might already love this show.

CBS
KID NATION was the only program that caught my “eye” from the CSI network. And, I have to say, that the premise of 40 kids taking over a ghost town to establish a society made me cringe at first. But after having watched the clip, I’m pretty intrigued. In fact, it might even turn out to be pretty awesome.

The CW
REAPER is Kevin Smith meets the supernatural. I defy anyone to stay away from this. It’s beyond my powers of resistance.

GOSSIP GIRL looks like plain, simple, bitchy fun.


Fox
So, you know how I’ve said in the past that I’m not going to watch any more new shows on this network? Well, I started DRIVE, and you know what happened there—2 weeks and buh-bye. Fox ticks me off with all their jerking viewers around, but damnit, they’ve got the most shows I want to watch. Not fair!!!

NEW AMSTERDAM—Man, I am really asking for it here, because I can sense that this paranormal show about a police detective who’s been cursed/blessed with eternal life is doomed. But Nicolaj Coster Waldau is in it. He’s set my libido on fire ever since BLACK HAWK DOWN. Seriously, he is hot, and even if I only get to lust after him for 2 darn episodes, I will consider myself fortunate.

BACK TO YOU features the return of Kelsey Grammar. There’s no more reason to pull me in than that.

THE RETURN OF JEZEBEL JAMES—See above re: the Kelsey Grammar note, but replace his name with Parker Posey's.

THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES—Oh, like I’m not gonna watch this.

THE RULES FOR STARTING OVER—I was ready to write this one off, yet then the leprechaun showed up.

NBC
JOURNEYMAN had quite the zinger of an ending, so I’m willing to check this one out. Besides, Lucius Vorenus from ROME is in it.

THE BIONIC WOMAN—Um, no-brainer?

LIPSTICK JUNGLE—I’m such a dork for thinking that this “women in the big city” Candace Bushnell vehicle might fill the SEX AND THE CITY void. Still, this just might be a program that works on another level, especially with its cast, including Brooke Shields and Kim Raver.

Told you…pathetic. I am a media slave. I am TV zombie chick. Help me.

Monday, May 21, 2007

HEROES, season one finale

Well, all of you fans out there--what's your read on this finale? I, for one, was a bit underwhelmed. It was great when the heroes started coming together to fight Sylar, but it didn't last long. (sound of a whoopee cushion deflating)

Anyway, there were some good parts, as always. My minute-by-minute thoughts, laid bare:

* I'm weird, but when Isaac used to get white-eyed, I found that to be rather hot. White-eyed Sylar makes me go ick though. I do so loathe him.

* Confused: how can Sylar see Molly thinking about him? Does it happen when he's white-eyed? But he's not in that trance all the time. Can someone remind me which power Sylar stole to facilitate watching Molly like he's the eye of Sauron from LORD OF THE RINGS or something?

* Dang--just when we thought we'd seen the last of Simone here she is again! It's a good scene between her and Peter though.

* Simone's pop is revealed to be yet another orchestrating Old Hero, as well. I'm slightly curious to see some of these oldsters' powers during the "extra" HEROES spin off episodes. I hope they won't be overkill for me though--I'm actually fine with the series ending right now for a hiatus because I need a mental break, LOL.

* Yeesh, Ando. I admire your spunk but... Yes--go, Hiro!!! Hah! Eat that, Sylar. (I just hate when he purses his lips, don't you? Jeez, this actor is good.)

* I wonder when we'll get a more detailed explanation about Niki/Jessica. Is it a case of possession? A semi-Hulk syndrome? I'd like to know, please. (Not that it matters right now as Jessica lays Mystique out.)

* I love how Claire (and other heroes) are really starting to make smart use of their powers. Claire was clever with that 20-story-splat escape.

* Ooooo--Hiro is kind of using that lower, more Future Hiro-like voice as he drops off Ando. Bring on Future Hiro!

* LOL for "Hiro, you look bad ass." Cute geek-boy love moment.

* Noah! Hmmm, I don't think I'll ever be able to abandon the whole "HRG" thing. "Noah" is noble but it doesn't seem to fit him for me. Maybe I'll get used to it.

* Whoo! Heroes messing with Sylar together as a team! But then...pffft. It all dissipates when Peter gets a tad too excited. Bummer.

* Still, why do I not believe Sylar is dead?

* And...oh, man. No. Tell me it didn't just end like this. Please...someone?

So--any predictions for season 2? After Hiro finishes screwing around with his detour to olde Japan, will he go back in time to save Peter and Nathan while risking the resurrection of Sylar (or did he learn that lesson from trying to save Charlie)?
What do you all think?

Friday, May 18, 2007

New ticket time

Yee-whoo--I just got my new La Jolla Playhouse tickets in the mail!

As you all have heard, I love my tix. The Playhouse has workshopped all kinds of wonderful productions, both plays and musicals. Many of them have even gone on to Broadway. For instance, I got to see JERSEY BOYS--a bio-musical about the Four Seasons--at the Playhouse first. (And if you haven't seen it on Broadway and you're in the area, please go. You'll love it. The music in itself is fantastic, but the acting and story are just as great.) Also, THE WHO'S TOMMY, HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, JANE EYRE, and DRACULA all had trial runs before going to the Big Apple. (And HOW TO SUCCEED... had Matthew Broderick. How sweet was it to see him from the first row?)

Recently, I got to see another Playhouse production that might be Broadway-bound...and then some. THE FARNSWORTH INVENTION is a play about the invention of electric TV (or, more appropriately, the race to establish who invented it). To put it succinctly, it was riveting. It explained all the technical details in an accessible flow, but that's because Aaron Sorkin wrote it. Yup, the WEST WING man himself. And, as you might expect from a Sorkin project, the characters were fascinating--especially "Sarnoff," the heavy of the piece and the man who historically made NBC into a powerhouse. To top off the experience, Sorkin, himself, was in the audience because I was at a preview and he was gauging the performance as well as the reaction. Damned cool.

To make matters even more interesting, the papers have reported that Steven Spielberg showed up to a performance. Could it be that he's thinking of trying to produce the play on Broadway? Or does the master have a more cinematic agenda in mind? I'm salivating a little at the thought of this material in Spielberg's hands.

But...back to my new tickets. I'm unfortunately going to miss CARMEN, which I believe is an updated version of the opera. However, the presentation that I'm most looking forward to is the musical version of CRYBABY (Remember Johnny Depp? Rikki Lake?). It should be interesting to see if it captures the same chemistry that made HAIRSPRAY a Broadway success.

Have a great weekend, you all!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

For Bombshell fans!

I got an email from Natashya Wilson, the former editor of Bombshell who is still editing her heart out. She's got release news for those Athena Force books that were contracted to many fabulous authors before the line closed down. This means we'll still have more Bombshells coming our way, even though they're not technically "Bombshells" any more! Excellent news, and I'm all for showing support for this miniseries in the hopes that the powers that be will see that there *is* a market for strong female heroine-centric stories out there.

So here are the details:

Athena Force books will be published one release per month from August 2007 through July 2008. They'll be single continuity titles, like the Mediterranean Nights series currently on shelves, and the line up includes:

LINE OF SIGHT by Rachel Caine
THE GOOD THIEF by Judith Leon
CHARADE by Kate Donovan
VENDETTA by Meredith Fletcher
STACKED DECK by Terry Watkins
MOVING TARGET by Lori A. May
BREATHLESS by Sharron McClellan
WITHOUT A TRACE by Sandra K. Moore
FLASHPOINT by Connie Hall
BENEATH THE SURFACE by Meredith Fletcher
UNTOUCHABLE by Stephanie Doyle
DISCLOSURE by Nancy Holder

Can you believe those authors? I cannot wait to dig into this series again!

Monday, May 14, 2007

HEROES, 5/14

Here we are, at the penultimate episode of HEROES. What will the summer be like without this series...or LOST (which has totally obsessed me again. Did any of you see those screen captures of "Jacob" circulating the Internet? Ahhhhhh! I'm totally creeped out.)?

Anyway, lots of build-up tonight. Should be an active finale next week. Following are my watch-by-the minute notes, as always....

* So...if Linderman and Nathan are concerned about the votes, why not use Micah to manipuate the machines and computers to rig the election? Or was that always the plan? (Note: I had no idea what was in store at this point....)

* Interesting bright colors in the Petrelli house. Symbolic in some way?

* I wish Heidi had superpowers. It'd be cool if Linderman's healing touch also included something a little extra.

* Whose heart broke just a little when Hiro called Nathan a villain?

* LOL for Candice saying she's "huge"--seeing what she wants us to see again, obviously. Plus, I liked the flash of hurt she exhibited when she pretty much said that she's disillusioned with the world. Telling, that.

* OMG: is Linderman going to have Micah rig the election after all? (Note: yup.)

* I like the whole Jedis-gone-bad backstory for the old heroes.

* Sweet! I managed to call one plot point in this series. Micah rigs Nathan's victory. 'bout time.

* LOL for Matt's guess about the security guard's porno. Just goes to show you that sometimes you don't need to be a mind reader.

* Another LOL for Jessica's "Didn't I throw you out a window?"

* Dude--HRG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ruthless and efficient--that's our mild-mannered father-who-will-do-anything-for-his-precious.

* Dilemma in the high rise. I want Claire to be safe, but not at the cost of this cute lil' girl. What shall happen next week? (Previews gave us a good hint.)

* Aw, Ted. M*%^#$@*$@*^g Sylar strikes again.

* Did you all catch Milo's "stay tuned for more Heroes" commercial flash? He had that Sylar-cut on his forehead. Odd, yet scarily intriguing.

* D-oh! D.L.'s last grab at humanity. This show loves the head wounds.

And so begins the last chapter. I'm already jonesing for more, you all.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Eight random facts

I was tagged by Yolanda (yay, Y!) to post eight random facts about myself on my blog. So in no certain order, here they are....

1. I like white wine better than red wine basically because I don't like to have purple teeth.

2. Whenever I go shopping, I tend to buy more things for my nephew and nieces than for me.

3. I'm thinking of buying a new car and I think it might be a CRV.

4. I just re-subscribed to New York Magazine as well as The New Yorker--I subscribed back in college, but I couldn't keep up with the reading. I'm going to try again though.

5. I had a major crush on Shaun Cassidy when I was little.

6. I still miss Ikey and Teena, my parents' two little Maltese dogs who passed away two years ago.

7. I find myself collecting more Tinkerbell items as the years progress.

8. When I visited Amsterdam, I got gum in my hair and it gave me total attitude about the place.

TMI, right? LOL. This was fun, though I've got to run and I won't have time to tag....

Friday, May 11, 2007

Proposals and fire engines

Ever since completing my last manuscript, MOMMY AND THE MILLIONAIRE for Special Edition, I've been plugging away on smaller projects. What's been going down in my world?

* the first proposal on my new Blaze contract
I'm just now polishing the first three chapters of a stand-alone I'm calling ROAD GAMES. This Blaze will take place mostly on the western section of Route 66, so I finally get to use the research from that trip I took a few years ago! It starts in Peggy Sue's 50s Diner just off of I-15 and, by chapter 3, there's already a big love scene. The book will be under the "Forbidden Fantasies" flash, and my premise centers around the fantasy of sex with strangers. So, if you can imagine a good girl and a cowboy taking part in this fantasy while traveling stretches of lonely western road, you have a hint of what to expect....

* research for my second Special Edition Suds Club proposal
Today I went for a tour at a local fire house because my hero is going to be a firefighter. Cute firemen, great information, and hands-on research? How cool is my life?

* a vampire short story for Berkley Sensation that will spin out of the Vampire Babylon books
I'll be starting this one in a couple of days, but I'm taking some minor characters and concentrating on "the first bite," which will be the theme of this noir fantasy anthology. I don't have a release date for it yet, other than it'll be on shelves in mid-2008.

After actually writing my second Suds Club proposal, I'll be diving into the rest of ROAD GAMES, and I've been having fun writing that proposal, so I'm looking forward to that.

Now, back to work....

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

OOTB Book Tour: PLEASURES OF THE NIGHT


I've already got a few of Sylvia's books in my TBR piles. Guess I need to make room for another one!

PLEASURES OF THE NIGHT by Sylvia Day
ISBN: 0061230987
HarperCollins Avon, April 24, 2007

In the Twilight between sleep and consciousness, a battle rages between Dream Guardians and Nightmares. Captain Aidan Cross is a legend, as skilled in fulfilling erotic dreams as he is with the glaive that kills his enemies. Women see Aidan as part of their fantasies...except Lyssa Bates. Exquisite, desirable, enigmatic Lyssa perplexes this immortal seducer because she sees him as he really is. And as he attempts to unravel her secrets the unthinkable occurs: Aidan Cross falls in love.

Lyssa has been having the most incredible dreams about a man whose blue eyes hold the promise of decadent pleasures and tempting intimacies. And then he appears on her doorstep! This intoxicating stranger is just as irresistible as the man of her dreams...but with her surrender there is also grave danger...

Because Aidan is on a mission, and the passion that consumes them body and soul could have dire consequences. Loving the mortal woman prophesied to destroy Aidan's world is not only impossible...it is forbidden.

Cover: http://ec2.images-amazon.com/images/P/0061230987.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_V23154607_SS500_.jpg

Flash Excerpt: http://www.guardiannovels.com/novels/pleasures/aidan-ii/

Non-Flash Excerpt: http://www.guardiannovels.com/novels/pleasures/aidan-ii/2/


ABOUT SYLVIA DAY

SYLVIA DAY is the bestselling, award-winning author of over a dozen novels. A wife and mother of two, she is a former Russian linguist for the U.S. Army Military Intelligence. Her books have been called “wonderful and passionate” by WNBC.com, “wickedly entertaining” by Booklist, and frequently garner Readers’ Choice and Reviewers’ Choice accolades. Her work has won the EPPIE and been named a finalist for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® Award of Excellence.

REVIEWS
“This is a brilliant book. Passionate and full of lush romance...”–TJ, The Romance Studio
“…one of the best stories I’ve read in a Romance category thus far this year (2007). Sylvia Day obviously knows what readers love!”– Detra Fitch, Huntress Reviews
“…a brilliant new world… Passionate, exciting and spellbinding...”- Lettetia, Fantasy Romance Writers
“PLEASURES OF THE NIGHT sizzles as a romance, enthralls as a paranormal, and captivates with a fantastic cast of characters. I didn’t want the ‘night’ to end!”- Susan Grant, New York Times bestselling author
“So hot the pages should be on fire!”- Gena Showalter, New York Times bestselling author
“I was enthralled with this book. It was erotic, sensuous and had an amazing plot.”- Marcy Arbitman, Just Erotic Romance Reviews
“PLEASURES OF THE NIGHT is a must read. An absolute must!”– Natasha, Romance Junkies

Website: http://www.dreamguardians.com/
http://www.sylviaday.com/

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Contest winner announcement

Now you can know--last month's contest winner is Cathy Burkhead! Remember to enter this month's. :)

Monday, May 07, 2007

HEROES, 5/07

You know, I like these Sylar-centric episodes. I despise him, but he's interesting...and I feel a tad sorry for him. It puzzles me.

Plenty of intriguing set up in this episode. Here are the thoughts:

* Isn't it nice to see Ted being calm with his car task? I always expect to see him spazzing out.

* Micah doesn't like Linderman because he "smells funny." OMG. Line of the night.

* So this little savior girl, Molly, was the one whom Matt found in the closet at the beginning of the series? She is totally Harry Potter when Voldemort killed the parents and couldn't do it to Harry!

* This is pretty fun with Hiro cat-and-mousing with Sylar.

* Anyone else looking for Molly's forehead lightning scar? At any rate, she's a mental bloodhound, it seems.

* Oh, man, how cute was Claire's "That's cool," reaction to finding out Nathan can fly?

* Even Eeeevil Psycho Killers have mommies.

* The bangs are back. I'm still stuck on the whether Sylar actually cut them off during the pre-hiatus finale. Weren't those bangs gone with the skull incision? And why is this so important to me?

* Ah, so Mystique isn't actually a shapeshifter. She makes people see whatever she wants them to, so she's manipulating others and not herself. Funky hypnosis?

* Oooo-weee-ooo. An Edward Scissorhands moment goes terribly, creepily awry. Worst Mother's Day present ever, Sylar.

* Mohinder is kinda precious with that little Molly. Priming us for the sister revelation, no doubt.

* Um, Present Hiro? Dude? You'd best become Future Hiro with Sylar. Right quick, too. After you get him, then you can go back to being nice.
Then...
*Oy, Hiro. Never hesitate with Sylar! Even I know this. Lesson learned, sword boy? (Okay, it's easy for me to bitch at him when I'm not the one having to face the decision of whether or not to actually kill someone. Would I have it in me if it came right down to it?)

* Sylar's pretty blood drawing? Yikes. Hiro, this is what he would do to you without even thinking twice.

Two more episodes....

Contest update

Just so you all know, I'm still trying to get a hold of last month's contest winner to confirm. In the meantime, click here for this month's offerings!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Escape to New York: SPRING AWAKENING

Yes—this is me, finally getting around to writing the last installment of my New York trip!

The last day of a trip is always rather odd: I usually feel as if I’ve seen everything I wanted to see, but then again, I feel as if I haven’t seen enough. There’s an exhausted urgency to each passing hour. As Mary Leo and I hit the town on our last day, the rain had worn off enough to allow us an overcast sky that was pretty great for walking purposes. We decided to go to the Greenwich Village/Little Italy/Chinatown area to wander, but first we just had to grab a snacky bite from a small Peanut Butter shop that I’ve always wanted to try. You should see the menu. A total Peanut Butter porn fantasy, you guys, and I had to get the sandwich with Nutella. Yum.

Afterward, we bopped along the streets, pausing at real estate office windows and gaping at the rental prices. Yikes. We dipped into fashion boutiques, vintage stores, and then H&M, which had these super cute tank tops for $6. I know! I also bought my New Adorable Niece (2 months old) a teensy-weensy outfit there. Once on the street, I continued my mission to purchase souvenirs for the Adorables, so I got about 20 delightful finger puppets from a street vendor for my Adorable Nephew.

That’s when Mary and I hit Little Italy, but our tummies were still too full from peanut butter for lunch. Darn. Do you know what it’s like to walk through Little Italy with a full stomach? What a waste. Since Little Italy and Chinatown bleed together, we enjoyed the sights there, too, and I even found a sweet purse for my First Adorable Niece. (She’s really into purses, just like I’m into Bath and Body Works products.)

By that time, Mary and I were up for some wine and cheese, so we stopped in a tavern with indifferent service. Then we headed back uptown, where we visited a Japanese bakery, Rockefeller Square, and then grabbed some sushi before going to our final show of the trip (sob).

Now, I mentioned before that SPRING AWAKENING is fairly controversial, but it’s receiving great critical praise. Here’s the commercial that’s running on TV, just so you can get a brief feel for it:
(Note: in spite of my best efforts, I can't get the You Tube embed code to work on Explorer. You can see it on Firefox though, or probably on You Tube itself with the key search phrase Spring Awakening. Sorry. Blogger is still a mystery to me.)


Not that you can tell, but it’s set in the latter part of the 19th century in a provincial German town. Here, the adults and teachers refuse to taint their children with straight talk about sex, and the result is somewhat like REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE in short britches. Teen angst is nothing new, and I can’t say SPRING AWAKENING did much to enlighten me, but there is some power to its presentation. There’s a disturbing dark tone that hovers over every scene, and the characters’ confusion isn’t pretty to watch. What’s surprising about this musical though is the use of its music: it starts out with a haunting, more traditional teen lament called “Mama Who Bore Me,” and when this song is reprised as an angry, pleading rock anthem, it’s a wake up call. From that point on, the rock-and-roll (which serves to tell us that even though the years have passed, the way we rage hasn’t changed so much) starts to feel commonplace in this setting. Characters whip out cordless mics from their jackets when it’s time to sing, and you can sense a certain wildness in the eyes of each young character as drama turns to melodrama—which isn’t unusual for this sort of high-school age group.

(SPOILERS in this paragraph) The lyrics are racy, and there’s a fairly uncomfortable sexual thread between the two lead teens: at one point, the heroine asks the hero to experiment with beating her, because in her misguided suspicions about what love and sex might be, she associates violence with intimacy. There’s also a sex scene that closes out the first act, and it’s not at all romantic: the female tells the male to stop, but then eggs him on, and there’s a primal, barely contained violence about the encounter.

As I said, the critics—including Rosie O’Donnell, who can’t stop talking about this show—pretty much love SPRING AWAKENING. It was interesting to note the audience reaction though. We were in the middle balcony, and we noticed that the orchestra seats on the bottom floor closer to the stage gave the performance a standing ovation. About 1/3 of our balcony did so. Only about 10 people in the upper balcony gave those sorts of kudos. I couldn’t help wondering if this play works more magic up close.

So that was New York, my friends. Can’t wait to go next year, if I’m lucky enough to swing it.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Movie review: SPIDER-MAN 3

(Thumbnail review)
There are some films that just plain move you, whether they are dramas, comedies, or “comic book” movies. There are some films you will remember long after you’ve left the theater, no matter what your expectations. SPIDER-MAN 3 is not one of these movies. However, it isn’t a “bad flick,” either. It’s just something I’m going to forget about once I finish this blog, even though I had a pretty good time while watching it.

(Possible spoilers in the following paragraphs…skip to the final one if you want to stay unspoiled!)
Let's talk about the entertaining qualities first. The action scenes (which I'll talk about later). The secondary characters, who are very funny, and their humor comes off as organic—especially in the Bugle offices. Bruce Campbell (Hail to the King!!!) even has a hilarious standout cameo as a French guy during a key romantic scene between Peter and MJ. But my favorite part of the film was the theme of what happens when you allow a poison to take you over. It resonates, in spite of all the new characters and subplots that are introduced and take the attention away from that theme. And I guess this is where I felt that the movie went “meh” for me: I can’t help wishing that the business had been tightened and the story more focused.

Specifically, I could’ve done with one less villain, and that would be Sandman, played by Thomas Haden Church. Yes, I know that Sandman serves a purpose in Peter Parker’s character arc—to help our hero find his way to forgiveness—but this could’ve been done with a minor character who allowed the plot to move forward without having to introduce another villain’s origin story. What I mean is that a minor character could’ve set the “true murderer of Uncle Ben” wheels in motion and goaded Peter on his “poison”/revenge path just as effectively. Sandman takes away all the time the script could’ve spent on Venom, who comes into his own much too late, IMHO. Actually, Topher Grace isn’t in this movie very much at all, and he’s one of the absolute best things about it. I’m a freak, but I love the guy’s comic timing, and his smart mouth even makes him oddly sexy to me. There, I admitted it. At any rate, everything about Grace’s character, Eddie Brock/Venom, is a treat: from his kiss-assed-ness (He’s the guy who prays and decides he needs to address God as “sir.”) to the dark villain’s creepy costume design. He’s a perfect foil for Peter Parker/Spidey in super-power ability as well as symbolically. The best conflict arises when Peter is battling himself as much as the villains, and Venom is the manifestation of Peter’s frequent self-loathing…his poison, if you will. So why Venom isn’t explored more instead of rushed into the last third of the film, I’m not sure.

Anyway.

You know how the first two Spidey movies had some great iconic moments, right along with all that wonderful character development and action (and when I note character development, I don’t mean Mary Jane. Stay tuned for my thoughts about her.)? Well, S-3 doesn’t have its own impulsive hot upside-down kiss in the rain. It doesn’t have that incredible tear-jerker when a subway full of grateful New Yorkers nurses a wounded Spidey and promises to keep his secret. (OMG, I’m choking up just thinking about that scene.) Instead, S-3 has…musical numbers. You didn’t misread that. There are several what-the-hell moments in this film that had the audience laughing in disbelief. (You can discern that kind of laughter from any other, and it’s cringe-worthy.) Is Sam Raimi itching to make a musical or something?

Luckily, there were some truly fine action sequences to make up for those head-scratching scenes. The “New Goblin”/Harry has some sweet gizmos, and his conflict with Peter was highly compelling, as well (and it fit wonderfully with the “poison” theme). Venom is a nasty cuss, and more fisticuffs with him would’ve been great. But here’s one thing about the action scenes—how many times will Mary Jane have to be rescued before she figures out how to fend for herself while Spidey is off fighting the bad guy and she’s caught in some web? I guess I just like heroines who have it within them to match up to the heroes, who have mental strength as well as smarts. Good God, when you see a meteor crash in the first act of this flick, you fully expect it to hit Mary Jane and no one else in the city just so Spidey has to rescue her again. She’s a redheaded Lana Lang.

Obviously, I believe that “popcorn movies” don’t have to be brainless, and that’s why I took the time to write this. I believe they can be just as damned good as Oscar-bait. That’s why I expected more from S-3, because Raimi has made excellent flicks in the past. Having said all that though, S-3 still has a lot going for it, and if you just want a good time, you’ll get it.

Have a fun weekend!

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Starting up with the Outoftheblogosphere.com tours again--here's a fun fantasy from Shanna Swendson!

DAMSEL UNDER STRESS by Shanna Swendson
May 1, 2007

To-do: Stop the bad guys. Rescue the wizard. Find the perfect outfit for New Year’s Eve.

At last, Owen Palmer, the dreamboat wizard at Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc., has conjured up the courage to get Katie Chandler under the mistletoe at the office holiday party. But just when it looks like Katie has found her prince, in pops her inept fairy godmother, Ethelinda, to throw a wand into the works. Ehtelinda’s timing couldn’t be worse. A plot hatched by MSI’s rogue ex-employees, Idris and his evil fairy gal pal Ari, threatens to expose the company’s secrets ­ and the very existence of magic itself. Even worse, it could also mean the end of Katie’s happily-ever-after.

Now Katie and Owen must work side by side (but alas, not cheek to cheek) to thwart the villains’ plans. Braving black-magic-wielding sorceresses, subway-dwelling dragons, lovelorn frog princes, and even the dreaded trip to meet Owen’s parents at Christmas, Katie and her beau are in a battle to beat Idris at his own sinister game. All mischief and matters of the heart will come to a head at a big New Year’s Eve gala, when the crystal ball will drop, champagne will pour, and Katie will find herself truly spellbound.

Cover:
http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/51U-Ccbk-4L._SS500_.jpg

Excerpt:

http://www.shannaswendson.com/damselexcerpt.html

ABOUT SHANNA SWENDSON

In addition to writing fiction, Shanna Swendson is a freelance marketing consultant and writer specializing in technology and telecommunications. She is single and lives in Irving, Texas, with her many pet plants, including a vicious attack bougainvillea and a Christmas cactus that has outlasted three homes, three jobs and three boyfriends, yet still faithfully blooms every Christmas and Easter. She’s looking for a man that reliable.

REVIEWS

The ongoing adventures of Katie Chandler are filled with such magical fun. -- Armchair Interviews

Mayhem at its most enchanting. 4 stars -- Romantic Times Book Reviews

Fans of both chick-lit and Harry Potter should not miss out on this series set in magical modern-day Manhattan. -- Fresh Fiction

Great fun, an amusing romp of a romantic read -- Book Loons

Website http://www.shannaswendson.com


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

HEROES, 4/30

All right, first off, I have to admit up front that I wasn't crazy about this episode. Remember last week when I said I wished they would clear up a lot of the "present" stuff before taking on the future? I stand by that--tenfold. Maybe it was because I was distracted while I was watching this week's installment, but I came away feeling more frustrated than enlightened or satisfied. Sure, it was fun taking a peek into the President Petrelli future and all that, but that novelty didn't last for me.

Having said this, here are some little notes:

* Did anyone else notice that Future Hiro's dialogue wasn't exactly in synch with his mouth at the beginning? Was it my local NBC station?

* I wasn't exactly stoked to see that "Jessica" was still stripping five years from now. But, hell, at least she was doing it to Goldfrapp.

* In spite of this future thing, I am TOTALLY on board with Peter's invisible man entrance and his scar. He is now slightly bitter, pretty dark, and very hot. I'm assuming Claire wasn't around to lend her healing powers when that scar was earned. And this alliance with "Jessica" is slightly interesting--I am curious as to how it might come about if Present Hiro doesn't change the future.

* Oh, poo--Sylar is still alive. Hate. (But that's good because he's the bad guy.)

* I don't think I'm supposed to be laughing at the reveal that Matt is "homeland security." Interesting mild Nine-Inch-Nails quick-cut tick he's developed.

* Prez Petrelli--how perfect. And I love that Mohinder is his advisor--and that he's still just as off in the ether as always!

* Did the recycled X-MEN plotting kind of bother anyone else? Hasn't all this "we've found a way to normalize the mutants" stuff been done with the comics/movies?

* Interesting to see that Wireless teamed up with HRG (who no longer has those Horn Rimmed Glasses, BTW). Maybe Wireless will get more screen time.

* Good to see that Claire and HRG are still the emotional core of this show. I think this is one of the things I love about HEROES, just as I loved Jack and Sydney's messed-up-but-heartfelt relationship on ALIAS.

* The Linderman Act! Hah!

* I heart Peter, but not the stubble.

* Is this episode designed to make my apathy towards Matt evolve into pure dislike?

* Okay, I didn't see Sylar-as-Prez Petrelli coming. (BTW, looks like Sylar got a hold of Mystique, eh?)

* So Niki is pretending to be Jessica? What the...?

* And Peter found a way to hold on to his powers? He doesn't have to be around that particular Hero any more to absorb the power?

* Hee--I do love to see Prez Petrelli blasting off into the sky like that. I would love to have that power for awkward situations. Can you imagine?

* Now, let me figure this out: the actual purpose of this episode was to emphasize that Present Hiro must change the future? Didn't the threat of this blast already necessitate that?

* Next week: Back to the Present.
Thank goodness.