Friday, May 30, 2008

IRON MAN

I finally saw IRON MAN. Finally. And I'm kinda ticked at myself because I didn't do it sooner. Then again, since it's been out for a few weeks and other summer movies are crowding it, the theater was almost empty, and it was almost like a private screening, and that was awesome.

In short, I absolutely loved it. I'd heard all the kudos from everyone else, and I thought the movie couldn't be that good, but...it was. Because of the spot on characterization, solid acting, delightful dialogue (and I can't believe I just said "delightful," but it is), I was utterly involved in every moment. I was invested in whether or not Tony Stark got hurt or failed, because he seemed so real that the possibility existed. The special effects were slick and very non-intrusive. And Robert Downey, Jr.? God, all I can say is welcome back. Truly.

Then there was LOST last night. Don't worry. I won't spoil anything because I know a lot of people don't watch programs until a few days after they're aired (That's usually me.). But...eeeeee! That last shot gave me goose bumps.

Next week, watch this blog for a couple of book giveaways--one for my friend Cherie Feather on this site and another one for my books that I'll be announcing on an urban fantasy site. Meanwhile, have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What Am I--Twelve?

You'd think that by my age (a million years old) that things like blemishes and braces would be history. Right?

So not right.

Late last year, I suddenly got this freeway between my teeth. Seriously--this gap just kind of showed up in a matter of a week. I went to the dentist and, at first, he was concerned that it might be something "pathological." That didn't sound good, so he took x-rays. Luckily, he came to the conclusion that my skull isn't blasting apart or anything, yet he did recommend exploring ways to mind my new gap, including a trip to the orthodontist for an assessment.

Long story short--I'm getting a thing called "Invisiline." I guess it's some kind of retainer system. So at RWA National, I'll see you while decked out in my pink backpack, lip gloss, and retainer!

Gah.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Weekend Movie Madness

For most of Memorial Day Weekend, the skies have been gloomy and rainy. Yay! Every once in a while, I love a great storm that provides atmospheric grumbling--it's the perfect opportunity for me to read, watch movies, and look through my cookbooks so I can fantasize about actually creating a meal. (Okay, so I always just end up making popcorn. But popcorn? It is wonderful, too.)

I had a bit of a movie marathon in all the rain, and as I look at some of the films I watched, I realized that it is indeed a grim list. But, damn, these were some good movies, and I've been slogging through so many middling or just plain unexciting ones on DVD lately that I got a little excited about my luck. So here's a short list of some of the ones I watched:

* SWEENY TODD: I'm pretty bummed that I missed this one on the big screen, but my surround sound got a workout from the grandly ominous soundtrack. Loved everything about this musical: the songs (some of which start out beautiful but then take a turn for the odd and creepy with merely one or two notes--yes, "Joanna," I'm talking about you), the dark art direction, and the acting. Depp was great, of course, and although a controversial casting decision, Carter was a more fragile Mrs. Lovett, and it worked for me. I also loved how some of the supporting players looked like those Japanese Pullip dolls with their massively wide eyes and goth-pale skin.

* APOCALYPTO: Mel Gibson's take on the fall of Mayan civilization was strung together with an almost palpable sense of dread, even during the slick action sequences. I almost didn't choose it this weekend because the running time seemed a little long, but it was one of those movies that flew by.

* NIGHT OF THE HUNTER: Whoa. Everything from the almost surreal camera work to the menacing Robert Mitchum to the jaw-dropping storyline that places kids in startling peril comes together in a gorgeous black-and-white nightmare.

* THE ORPHANAGE: A ghost story from Spain, and it is truly scary--with a lot of jumpy moments and super-freaky child-terrors running around. However, the ending is a tear jerker. Go figure. Also, go rent it.

* TELL ME SOMETHING: A Korean scary movie that's advertised to be another SEVEN. I don't really get that comparison because it reminded me a lot more of BASIC INSTINCT but with more subtle cat-and-mouse play. Gory, gross, and extremely engaging, this film follows a detective who's tracking a serial killer. The movie leaves a lot for the audience to figure out at the end, so if you like your movies tied up in a neat package, this isn't for you. But scary movies don't get better than the last half hour of this one.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

BREAK OF DAWN cover!

Here it is....
What I love about the covers in this first trilogy is the progression: Dawn goes from being a vulnerable toughie with her arms crossed over her chest on NIGHT RISING to an action-girl on MIDNIGHT REIGN to someone who's crossed over several lines in BREAK OF DAWN. There's even a "hair" thing going on: her face is gradually obscured by it, shutting us out and making her a little wilder with each installment.

Nice job, Ace cover people!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL

Little Spoilers Ahead!
Well?

Well. I saw KINGDOM, and I enjoyed it: as I expected, it was wonderful to see Indy back in action and to see how this movie embraced the past while moving into the future. I loved the evocative 195os setting, and even though I, along with Indiana Jones, felt displaced (which the movie used to full characterization advantage), things fell back into step once Indy donned his leather jacket and boarded a plane for exotic places where life almost seems timeless: the jungles, temples, crypts.

I think Shia LaBeouf did a great job, and unlike other fanwanking individuals, I like him, both as an actor and a character in this movie. (But let it be said that even a character as appalling as Willie Scott from TEMPLE OF DOOM wasn’t enough to make me dislike that installment. Take that for what it’s worth.)

But I have to note, also, that there was an odd disconnect for me while I was watching this film. Maybe there were too many characters crowding in on the action and being dragged along on the adventure. Maybe I never felt a driving force behind this particular “mission”—there wasn’t a lot of urgency or high stakes for some reason that I’m sure I’ll think of when I’ve further processed what I just saw.

The bottom line for me is that the early Internet review that everyone was talking about—the review that said “This is the Indiana Jones movie you’ve been dreading”--is a bunch of bile from someone who wanted to stir the crap. It’s not even close to being a disaster, although if you go into the theater hoping for another RAIDERS, you’ll be disappointed. We’re never going to get that movie again—even previous Indy films conceded to that notion by taking the series in other directions, making them more death-defying cartoons than stories that somehow seemed realistic (like RAIDERS, even with its crazy ark stuff). That’s the case with KINGDOM, too, but there’s plenty still there to love about Dr. Jones. To be able to spend two hours with him again is a pleasure in and of itself.

So have fun and let me know what you all think, too, okay? ; )

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My RAIDERS

I’m gearing up for two days from now when I get to see my man back in action!
Of course, I’ve been doing my prep work for INDIANA JONES…. (Let’s just call it KINGDOM, okay? Even thinking about typing out the full title wears me out.) Last night, I watched RAIDERS. Tonight, it’s DOOM. Tomorrow night, LAST CRUSADE.

But back to RAIDERS. Dang, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it—and I’m not talking about channel surfing and coming across the movie on TBS and being sucked into the last half of it. I mean sitting my butt down with the intention of taking in every wonderful beat. Previously, I’ve only been living off my memory of RAIDERS, recalling my favorite little “moments”—details that reveal so, so much even without dialogue. (Naturally, these would include Indy shooting the cocky swordsman and turning toward the camera with that exasperated “Onward, I guess” expression. Also, when the giggly villain Toht enters the tent where Marion is being kept and ominously takes out that chain-looking thing and twists it into a coat hanger. Then when Indy takes over the truck carrying the Ark and he gets that devilish look in his eyes as he starts bumping Nazis off the road. OMG—this sounds like a cliché, but they do not make movies like this anymore.)

But something I realized during this viewing was how spectacularly this film has held up. It really doesn’t seem dated at all, and I would even daresay it’s a perfect movie experience; I can even forgive the introduction of Marion’s ballgown in the middle of the desert because even that is so far outweighed by the characterization, the breathtaking action, the clever hammer of an ending.

Watching RAIDERS just made me…happy. It reminded me of a time when I really thought that there might be an Indiana Jones out there. A time when toys were produced and sold as the result of films and not the other way around (which is ironic seeing as Lucas was the driving force behind the whole toy/film relationship that’s so prevalent today).

But the coolest thing? Is that I’m getting to relive a bit of this semi-innocence through my five-year-old nephew. He’s just discovered Indiana Jones and, before he even saw any of the movies, he devised his own whip and is frighteningly good at cracking it. He even created a mini-play to go along with the “Raiders March”—in it, he swings from the couch, over a beanbag-filled pit, and onto a chair, then races around to recover a stolen artifact. Then he tells his audience that the piece “belongs in a museum,” and that’s the end of the production.

I kid you not.

So, for me, 10 am Thursday can’t come soon enough, and I could care less if KINGDOM isn’t the best Indy sequel. I just want to see Harrison Ford in that hat again, smiling that Indy smile and beating the bad guys.

Friday, May 16, 2008

I Saw the Biggest Show in Vegas, Nee-Ner-Nee-Ner

A few days ago I mentioned that I had the chance to see a new show in Las Vegas—one that features a very iconic performer.

Those of you who follow entertainment no doubt knew that I was talking about the one, the only…Cher.

Now, before I tell you about the show itself, I have to mention the reactions I got when I told people I had tickets. To a number, they had this…reaction. Not just, “Oh, cool, have fun,” but something much more. They’d get this light in their eyes, and their lips would part as they repeated her name. Cher. As if the very idea of her seems a bit magic.

And, let me tell you, when I walked into the Caesars Palace Coliseum (which seats about 4,000), the magic hit me right away. It felt like Space Mountain in there, with a celestial field of stars speeding toward the audience from the screen in front of the huge stage and the low hum of a new age-y soundtrack playing over my nerve endings.

Naturally, the show didn’t start on time, and everyone was getting anxious, clapping and chanting Cher’s name. (But there wasn’t as much of that as you’d expect. Maybe it has something to do with having to pay so much money for a big, in-demand Vegas show rather than a regular concert—people were definitely better behaved.) Security people lined the stage and the aisles as the lights dimmed.

Then…

Cher.

I was expecting major costumage, and when the woman herself first appears, she didn’t disappoint. Cher literally flies out of the stage wings thanks to an airborne device that allows her to stand, almost caged, while singing a Cherred-up version of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” All you can do when you see her decked out in her golden sun-goddess outfit is laugh in utter joy, because you just knew she’d go there. And you knew she was going to look damn good while doing it.

And that’s the thing: Cher still works an outfit like you wouldn’t believe. If I weren’t close enough to the stage to see hints of aging, I would even call her a Hollywood Underground vampire. Also, the woman still has her charisma and willowy energy. Even though she changed costumes after almost every song (enough to rest her body and her voice, I suppose), she sang live. None of this lip synching garbage for Cher (as far as we could tell—and we were paying attention because we feared there’d be a bunch of lip synching.). She sounds better than ever. Really.

The show is definitely all Vegas—a bit of a concert dominated by massive set pieces, dancers, and “rope dancers” (those brave souls who spin in the air using ropes and sheets). Every aspect of Cher's career is covered, including her movie roles, her pop resurrection and, of course, the beginning of her career and her time with Sonny. My favorite part was “Cher’s closet,” which was almost a revolving door of costumes and what I think are Cher’s best songs. (How great is “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves”? If I were on AMERICAN IDOL, I’d totally do a cover of that one.)

This show reminded me of what a fighter Cher’s always been and, hell yeah, this woman deserves a no-holds-barred Vegas production to celebrate that. She shows us all that age is just a number, and she’s not going to stop dressing her own way or doing her own thing just because time has marched on.

So keeping flipping back that ever-changing hair, Cher. Keep on keeping on.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

WICKED GAME by Jeri Smith-Ready

This just came to my inbox and I really wanted to share it because the premise seems so great. Plus, Jeri Smith-Ready is super cool and WICKED GAME came out only yesterday, so I also wanted to be timely! She’s created a Web site (www.WVMPradio.com) that broadens the world of her books, and I recommend that you check it out, too; there are even playlists (and free stuff)!

Meanwhile, here’s the scoop on her new book:
A fun, dark, sexy urban fantasy, WICKED GAME is the first in a series about vampire radio station WVMP, The Lifeblood of Rock ‘n’ Roll….

Recovering con artist Ciara Griffin tries to redeem herself by saving a vampire radio station from corporate takeover--a matter of life and un-death for her new friends, including hot-and-cool grunge DJ Shane McAllister. But when she boosts ratings by turning their vampiric natures into a marketing gimmick, the ensuing publicity has unintended--and deadly--consequences.

Learn more about the novel, read an excerpt, or order a copy at www.jerismithready.com/books/wicked-game/....

Monday, May 12, 2008

Geeking

I was going to blog about my weekend (Hint: it has something to do with going to see a new show in Vegas that features an iconic performer.), but since I got goose bumps from what I saw while Net surfing on aintitcoolnews.com this morning, I want to post this instead for now.

So, okay...what exactly gave me goose bumps?

http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount/indianajonesandthekingdomofthecrystalskull/hd/

A little over one week away, you all! And since the reviewer on aintitcoolnews.com compared the new Indy film to STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, that's only a bonus.

And we all know that HEROES ain't coming back until the fall, but I found a fairly enticing promo, too:


I love the "flip" from hero to villain (and if you're using Explorer, try the aintitcoolnew.com site in the TV section to see this promo).

So much fan goodness!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

THE DARK KNIGHT

Nicole/Selena sent me a reminder of how great THE DARK KNIGHT is going to be! Click here for the newest trailer (or if you're using Explorer, just try http://movies.yahoo.com/summer-movies/The-Dark-Knight/1809271891/trailers/129/865 ).

Love the foreshadowing of what happens to Harvey Dent.
Love Alfred's sense of humor and constant wisdom.
Love Heath Ledger's physical transformation into the Joker (especially the hunch, as if his core has collapsed and its barely holding the rest of him up).

Monday, May 05, 2008

Wine and Monks

I've really been enjoying my time off, not only because I get to read and catch up with life, but because I'm really appreciating a few small trips. For instance, last weekend I visited some good friends in Northern California--Chico to be exact. A small college locale with bursts of trees and a downtown full of boutique shops, Chico is a nice place to kick back. Sure, it could be argued that it's not the first spot that pops out at a person when they're looking at a map, but there are a lot of hidden gems to find here.

One of them happens to be a winery just outside of Chico proper in a tiny location named Vina which, as far as we could tell, basically consists of shut-down fishing and tackle shops and a dusty drag of road lined by a few homes. (Or maybe we just hit the fringes of Vina?)

Anyway, after searching around a little, we finally spotted a road that led through the trees to the Abby of St. Clairvaux, where Monks run a winery. Just beyond the foliage, we could see the pieces of a building scattered about and coming together into a semblance of walls. It seems they're reconstructing a monastery, which was purchased by William Randolph Hearst and eventually sent here for relocation. (For more info, here's a short article from USAToday that mentions it and the winery: http://www.usatoday.com/travel/destinations/2006-05-22-monks-vineyard_x.htm . Click and then scroll down slightly for the article itself.)

Beyond the reconstruction, we discovered the tasting and sales room of the winery itself and, let me tell you, the monks make some tasty sweet red wine that I just had to purchase. If you find yourself in the area, I highly suggest coming here because, in addition to the wine (which is always a pleasure in itself), it's interesting to chat with the monks who tend the tasting room bar.

Cool, huh? There's got to be a book in there somewhere. :)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Outoftheblogosphere Tour: THE DARKEST NIGHT

As you all know from my previous post, I recommended this as a good read--but here's more info, including a link to the first three chapters, from the Outoftheblogosphere tour!

THE DARKEST NIGHT by Gena Showalter
His powers – Inhuman
His passion -- Beyond immortal . . .

All her life, Ashlyn Darrow has been tormented by voices from the past. To end the nightmare, she has come to Budapest seeking help from men rumored to have supernatural abilities, not knowing she'll be swept into the arms of Maddox, their most dangerous member -- a man cursed to die every night, only to awaken the next morning knowing he has to die again.

Neither can resist the instant hunger than calms their torments . . . and ignites an irresistible passion. But every heated touch and burning kiss will edge them closer to destruction -- and a soul-shattering test of love . . .

Though they carry an eternal curse, the Lords of the Underworld are irresistibly seductive -- and unimaginably powerful . . . Don’t miss this incredible new paranormal series from Gena Showalter!

Read a three chapter excerpt here!


ABOUT GENA SHOWALTER

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Gena Showalter has been praised for her “sizzling page-turners” and “utterly spellbinding stories.” The author of more than seventeen novels and anthologies, Showalter is celebrated in a wide variety of genres for her breathtaking romances featuring dark, seductive heroes and strong, appealing heroines. Readers can’t get enough of her trademark wit and singular imagination, whether she’s writing paranormal stories about vampires, nymphs and superheroes, white-hot contemporary romance or alien huntress books. Her newest series, Lords of the Underworld, promises to be her sexiest and most addictive yet. Don’t miss this intoxicating blend of dangerous passion, demons and other supernatural forces, and immortal men who are hotter than hell!

REVIEWS

"A fascinating premise, a sexy hero and non-stop action, The Darkest Night is Showalter at her finest, and a fabulous start to an imaginative new series." Karen Marie Moning, New York Times best selling author

One of the premier authors of paranormal romance. --New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole

You can buy your copy at: Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Website http://www.genashowalter.com
http://www.lordsoftheunderworld.net