Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A message from our friend Celise

Just spreading the word from loyal commenter Celise:

"Author Celise Downs is looking for authors who maintain character blogs (MC's from novels that have their own corner of the universe, like this one--http://1800snitch.wordpress.com). Please contact her through her website at www.celisedowns.com. Thanks."

So check it out!

On the Road

Hey...

Here we are, Ann Aguirre and I, in Solvang after yesterday's signing in Santa Barbara. We're creeping up the coast, up to San Fran for the RWA conference, and I don't know how often I'll be able to check in, but I just wanted to tell you how cute Solvang is. I haven't been here in ages, and I've forgotten how endearing this little Danish village with its wine tasting rooms, boutiques, bakeries, and specialty stores is.

We'll be spending the day with friends near San Luis Obispo, and then its on to San Fran. My schedule is so booked solid that I barely have room to move, LOL. Still, I'm really looking forward to this, especially since I didn't attend RWA last year.

Have a great week, all....

Sunday, July 27, 2008

HEROES: I Saw the 3rd Season Premiere Episode!

So, yeah. The first episode of season three.

Did I mention that I saw it?

Eh-ehrm. Well, I did, and if you kept up with my HEROES blogs from last season (and the comments from other loyal viewers), you know that, in general, there was a sense of disappointment. HEROES had lost its way, with too many new characters interfering with stories and characters arcs that cried out to be resolved. HEROES was sending its heroes on irrelevant journeys that didn’t seem to add much to the series mythology at large, and it was frustrating to see such potential falling apart at the seams.

Well, you all—I’m here to tell you that the show has gotten back that spark we once loved: the fun, the humor, the characters we first adored...and there are quite a few big questions answered in this first 43 minutes. Everyone who lost faith during season 2 (like me) will find it again in spades on September 22, when season 3 premieres in the states.

Meanwhile, I was trying to think of a way to get you guys excited about it without giving away the farm. So what I’m going to do is pose leading questions (in bold) that don’t give anything away while providing spoiler-hint answers that hopefully just whet your appetites without ruining much. Hopefully. Maybe you don’t want to read the answers (which are in italics—sorry, I have no idea how to use invisotext), and I wouldn’t blame you, because going into the season as a “pure” viewer is great fun.

But if you want to be teased, by all means, continue….

Ready?

Then let’s go.

This season is called “Villains.” Does it indeed start with the “dark side” of our heroes?

Let me just say that things start four years in the future and, as you might’ve seen online in some pictures, two of our heroes are wearing dark clothing and looking mighty mean. Peter has his scar. Claire has a gun, and she’s aiming it at Peter. The dialogue indicates that there’s going to be some time travel involved because Peter wants to go back to a time before “they all found out.” Claire looks ready to pull the trigger, then…

Heh, you’ll have to watch or go to another online place that spills the rest. Just know that the title of this episode is “Chapter 1, The Second Coming,” and the title is extremely meaningful.

Will this “Villains” premise mean that past mythology and character questions about our original heroes will be going unanswered for a long time?

No, thank god. The concept is going to work really well since time travel is involved. It even leaves us with more questions to answer, but these will tie in with the questions we already have.

Do we find out who shot Nathan, which happened in the final part of the season 2 finale?

Right away. And it’s not an exasperating throwaway moment designed just for ratings, either. It leads to “the shape of things to come.”

What about Nathan? Does he survive?

All I’m going to say is that it all depends on how you interpret the above question….

Does Sylar spend the episode shooting brain farts at cans in an alley?

Nope. He’s back in action within ten minutes of the opening, knocking on a particular hero’s door and stalking him/her in a well-paced cat and mouse chase that’s creepy enough to have you holding your breath.

Is Maya still…Maya?

Not really—and a core character seems to be able to balance her oil-eye seepage for some reason. Also, there might be a romance brewing between these two.

Is Hiro on another crazy-ass journey this year?

If a gnarly mind-screw from his father via a posthumous DVD counts as a journey, then the answer is yes. This set up promises some very interesting developments.

Does David Anders show up in the premiere?

No (sob). Neither does Kristin Bell.

How long until HRG makes an appearance?

He graces us with his presence almost at the end of the episode, but then only briefly, and in a cell, to boot.

Does Jessica/Nikki make an appearance?

No…but a chick named “Tracy” does.



Just a few other little notes, and these do contain some fairly big hints:

* We find out how Sylar absorbs his powers after slicing open skulls.
* In the future, a character exhibits his/her powers, and it’s a very cool moment. In the present, a different character gets powers, too.
* We discover something that puts Claire on a higher level than the other heroes.
* An old character returns and introduces even more questions.
* Mohinder’s days as a weenie are finally over.

I guess the icing on this episode for me was the use of my favorite poem, Yeats’ “The Second Coming.” It’s the first voiceover from Mohinder that I’ve absolutely loved, and it raised goosebumps on my skin.

Look up the poem, and let that be your guide for what to expect from this season.

Be excited. Be very excited.

Comic-Con, Days 3 and 4

Finally—the rest of the Con report! I’m going to be briefer than usual, mainly because I’m tired and Ann Aguirre and I are hitting the road early tomorrow to sign books all the way up the coast on our way to San Francisco for the RWA Conference.

I gave you the basics on Friday, but I didn’t get to give you my impressions of the panels I attended.

WATCHMEN

I mentioned that the entire cast was present (as well as Zach Snyder and the illustrating genius Dave Gibbons), but I was especially excited about being in the same big room as Billy Crudup. You see, I’ve had a thing for him since the days of SLEEPERS, back when he was in round one of the whole “He’s the next big star” bout. (He’s been on so many verges of stardom I’ve lost count.) I even try to overlook all the scandal between him and Mary-Louise Parker, and his charm and wit on this panel only justifies my blind devotion to him.

Anyway, Zach Snyder—who’s quite a looker himself—allowed us to see a very operatic, frakkin’ gorgeous extended Con-exclusive trailer for WATCHMEN. Later in the day, Kevin Smith called it a “religious experience,” and I’m sure tons of Con attendees agreed. I, myself, wasn’t wriggling on the floor and frothing at the mouth, but, even so, I can’t wait to see WATCHMEN. And, once again, if you haven’t read the comic, now’s the time. It’s a beautifully dark and complex work that’ll have you looking at the world—and pop culture itself—in a different way.

Oh, one more thing. The funniest part of the panel was when they started taking questions from the audience. When the camera lit on the first person to ask a question, the image of a full-on Batman filled the huge high-definition screens, and the actors onstage lost their shit. I mean, the Batsuit was really a great one, and to all of a sudden see Batman standing there, all serious and ready to question the panel, was just soooooo Comic-Con.

TRAILER PARK

This is a Con tradition, and I have to say that even though they didn’t show anything brand spanking new, I still had fun. I hadn’t seen the new James Bond trailer yet, and I love how his character arc is extending even into the sequels. I finally saw the TERMINATOR: SALVATION trailer, and I’m squeeing inside even now—especially with that punchy ending. Other trailers of interest? THE CLONE WARS and HAMLET 2 (God help me.).

THE WOLFMAN

Benicio del Toro and Emily Blunt and the great Rick Baker were there to show us the trailer for this old-school horror flick that I’m totally going to see. I had no idea that they were setting it in the 1800s, so color me excited. Basically, I got the vibe of a less Wagnerian BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA. In fact, I’d say that this fills out a perfect trilogy of gothic yumminess along with DRACULA and the DeNiro FRANKENSTEIN.

THE SPIRIT

Frank Miller’s first true solo directorial outing (SIN CITY, co-directed with Robert Rodriguez, preceded this.) looks to be a nourish, tough-talking, entertaining time at the theater. It’s true that the visuals are very, very reminiscent of SIN CITY, and maybe that already makes THE SPIRIT old hat, but it’s still a striking thing to see. Samuel L. Jackson was part of the panel and, as always, he didn’t disappoint with his hilarity.

STAR WARS update

Steve Sansweet, the voice of Lucasfilm, was on hand again to give fans an update of what’s going on in the STAR WARS universe. In a few words: the FORCE UNLEASHED video game looks mindblowing, THE CLONE WARS movie is supposed to be a return to the initial trilogy’s “swashingbuckling fun,” and the approaching animated series—starting this fall on TNT and Cartoon Network—is going to rule my DVR. We saw extended clips from both the animated CLONE WARS movie and the series, and I was quite happy with what was presented. In particular, I loved THE CLONE WARS clip, which featured a battle on a crystal planet. The pacing was hell-for-leather yet clear—an excellent re-start.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY VISIONARIES: FILMAKERS

What do you get when you put Kevin Smith, Judd Apatow, Zach Snyder, and Frank Miller on a panel together? Well, you get a lot of dirty jokes from Smith and geek-fan admiration amongst the lot of them. This was basically just a shoot-the-poo fun time with the audience asking questions and the participants riffing on each others’ answers.

KEVIN SMITH MAKES A PORNO

Instead of the traditional Q&A format this year, Kevin Smith shared his ZACK AND MIRI MAKES A PORNO with the crowd. I wrote a bit about this in the last post, but I just want to reiterate that I think this movie is going to show some real heart and bring the funny….

On Saturday, I went to two more awesome panels: LOST and HEROES. I couldn’t stay for all of LOST, seeing as I had my own panel (which ended up being lots of fun, BTW), but I did stay long enough to see Matthew Fox make an appearance (pant). Also, the “Dharma Initiative” was recruiting out on the Exhibit Floor. I didn’t make it to their booth, but evidently, the Initiative was asking a lot of messed up psychological questions. (Team Viral Marketing for Lost is genius.)

I’m going to blog about HEROES in a separate post in a little bit because it needs its own section. You know why? Because it wasn’t enough that the cast showed up (!), but Tim Kring BROUGHT THE THIRD SEASON PREMIERE AND LET US WATCH IT!!!!!!!!!!

Now, please refer to the HEROES post(when it's up) while envying me. Thank you and enjoy.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Just a note

Hey guys,

Just got home from the Con, and for sitting in a room all day (Hall H), I'm really tired. There's lots of stuff to tell you, but I'm going to blog in detail about today and tomorrow early Sunday since I'll be out later tomorrow, too.

However, here's Day 3 in a nutshell:

* we saw beyond-the-trailer clips from WATCHMEN. Fan-freaking-tabulous. The whole cast was there, too, and my ill-advised crush on Billy Crudup survives.

* I'm totally seeing THE WOLFMAN. Benicio del Toro and Emily Blunt were in attendance.

* had some majorly good laughs due to--who else?--Kevin Smith. Saw a scene from ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO and it looks like he might've made another CHASING AMY. Fingers crossed, but the scene they showed was waaaaaaaay funny, and there seems to be a balance of heart and hilarity. Lots of the cast there, including Justin Long, Elizabeth Banks, and Seth Rogan, who is not only whip-quick with one-liners, but who also has a really dorky, endearing huh-huh-huh of a laugh after just about everything he says. I'm not even sure he realizes he's doing it.

So tomorrow is my frightening panel, then a signing session. Lots o' good times!!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Comic Con, Day 2

In years past, Thursdays would yield some pretty cool stuff: panels about new D-horror movies, fan groups (like theonering.net), and dishy small fan-driven magazine schmooze-fests. But the big production companies have taken over, and this means that to see a panel now, a fangirl must invest time in lines, resulting in fewer activities and more down time.

I'd intended to go to the TWILIGHT presentation, but no dice. (Still, I'll get back to TWILIGHT in a bit, as my friend *did* make it inside.) Nope--I cruised the exhibit floor in the morning, buying way too much merchandise, although I'll be giving some of it away in my contests in the coming months. And I lucked out by running into the fabulous Nancy Holder (!) We chatted until it was time for us both to do signings--her at the Firefly Browncoat booth and I at the Mysterious Galaxy/Penguin booth.

It took maybe 15 minutes to give away and sign all the NIGHT RISING books that Ace had supplied, so yay! Then I hung out and sold a few more books while meeting new readers as well as Penguin editors, MG employees, and other authors: Ann Aguirre and Vicki Pettersson, among the cool collection. It was like being in a lounge where everyone is chatting and generally just having a great time. A definite highlight so far.

Then I missed the TWILIGHT presentation. However, my friend, who hasn't read any of the Stephanie Meyers books, reported that they showed a movie clip in which "some vampires" are fighting over Bella and the vamps don't get burned in the sun. (My friend is starting the book tomorrow, so she'll no doubt have more to say later.) She also said that it was like Teen-palooza in there. See, the lead is the guy who played Cedric in the Harry Potter movies, and after TWILIGHT, this boy is going to be a huge star. The girls were going ape, and some wee fan even asked him the "boxers versus briefs" question. He's arrived, all right.

In the meantime, I ended up in the RED SONJA panel. I don't know where I've been, but I had no clue that Robert Rodriguez was remaking the flick with Rose McGowan. They haven't started filming, but they had some vivid artwork with Sonja's hair flaming and her tongue licking blood from a sword. (Seriously--tongue...on...sword.) I have to say that I totally trust Rodriguez though--the man has some mad vision, and I do think he can make a real kick-ass version of a movie that wasn't very successful in its first incarnation.

I'd wanted to go to the TRU BLOOD and DEXTER panels, but my packages were many and I was too lazy to get them in the bag check. Besides, there was some expensive stuff in there, and I was paranoid. So off I went on the trolley to go to homebase and gear up for an entire day of big studio offerings tomorrow. Hopefully I'll get to see the panels for WATCHMEN and THE WOLFMAN, then hear Kevin Smith run his awesome mouth for a couple of hours....

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Comic-Con, Day 1

Preview Night, and I'm already exhausted, LOL.

You all should've seen the lines to get badges at Comic-Con, San Diego. Or, rather, you should've seen the lines for everyone who wasn't a "professional," mwa-ha-ha. Amazingly, I got my badge in about 10 minutes while my friend had to wait at least a half hour.

For the first time on a Wednesday, there was programming, and instead of hitting the out-of-control exhibition hall floor, I went to see the pilot for FRINGE. You've probably seen the previews--it's the fall show on Fox about an FBI agent who investigates some gross, weird deaths on a plane and they take her into "fringe science" territory. If you think this sounds a bit X-FILES-ish, you're right. I was definitely getting that morbid, woo-ee-oo vibe, but there are a couple of pretty promising characters that might end up driving this series if they're developed. First, there's this mad scientist guy who helps the FBI agent, almost like Hannibal Lecter meets Dr. Frankenstein. He's got the best lines, but he also has an estranged son, played by Joshua Jackson. They have some really good exchanges. In fact, I really hope Jackson takes the lead on this series because he provided some real spark. Actually, I think the by-play between him and his father was the best part of the pilot.

So...tomorrow. If you're going to the Con, I have a signing at 12pm at the Mysterious Galaxy/Penguin booth. Ace is giving away free promotional copies of my books, but there's only a limited number. If you're interested (and I hope you are!), come at noon before they run out, okay?

Hope to see you....

Monday, July 21, 2008

Comic-Con Slouches Closer....

The Comic Con schedule has finally been posted over at http://www.comic-con.org/. I'm a little anxious and hyperventilate-y just looking at it. And even though I'll probably be standing in daggone lines most of the time, I'm still excited.

I'm also ready to toss my cookies, though, because I'm on that panel Saturday (1:30 with a signing afterward). I wasn't able to confirm who was on the panel in my last newsletter, but here you go:

* Joe Hill, a Guest of Honor (Besides being an award-winning horror author [HEART-SHAPED BOX], "Joe" is the son of Stephen King. I know.)

* Max Brooks, Guest of Honor (Besides writing WORLD WAR Z, A ZOMBIE GUIDE TO SURVIVAL, and having Brad Pitt's production company develop his work, Max is accomplished in TV writing, too. Oh, and he's also the son of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft. Yeah.)

* Adrienne Barbeau (I think she doesn't need much of an intro, but channel MAUDE and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK if need be. Like me, she wrote a Hollywood vampire book, and it was just released. I think I will bond with Ms. Barbeau.)

* Joe Mariotte (A prolific tie-in sci-fi/fantasy author, among other accomplishments.)

* Natasha Rhodes (DANTE'S GIRL, an urban fantasy. I can see some bonding here, too.)

Do you see the reason I'm nervous???

As I do every year, I'm going to try my best to post nightly updates about what I hear and see at the Con. Cross your fingers that I get into the HEROES and LOST panels on Saturday. I'll be missing the TERMINATOR: SALVATION panel (sob), but my buds will hopefully be there to give me scoop. (And if Christian Bale appears on it, I'm going to be mighty bummed. But so goes life.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

THE DARK KNIGHT

Some SPOILERS follow….

Saw THE DARK KNIGHT today and wow.

Wow.

WOW.

There are just so many great things to say about this movie that it would take me hours to write an entry that’s worthy of the film. Besides, you can find about a hundred thousand and fifty-seven real reviews on the Net, so I’m just going to post a few impressions.

1. Every gushing review about this movie is true.

2. Every note of praise for Heath Ledger is no exaggeration. He really is that damned good. In fact, the first time you see him on screen, his face isn’t visible, but from the way he’s standing, you already know how twisted this guy is. We don’t get much back story about his character, and what background we do get from him is highly suspect. The writers made a spot-on decision to allow the Boogieman in the closet to stay menacing by refusing to shed too much illumination on him. All we really know is that The Joker is one of those scary-ass people who has no other motivation in life but to destroy, and that’s enough. Ledger does the rest.

3. Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent is every bit as masterful. I fell a little in love with his character, and I’m betting most of you will, too. Then… Jeez, what happens by the end of the film will tear your heart out.

4. The music is amazing. It’s heroic, but there’s also some very odd—yet incredibly appropriate—themes that just plain got to me on a gut level. One piece makes good use of what almost sounds like a metallic buzz—like synthesized nails are scratching down a blackboard. It's non-intrusive, working on almost a subliminal level to underline the decay that is Gotham City.

5. I love how the good guys had a real integrity (Thanks for my friend Tony for bringing this up in our post-movie discussion): everyone from Batman and his code to Lucius Fox and his principals. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I felt a real connection to and respect for the characters.

6. At the end of the film, I realized that I’d been tensed up most of the time. My shoulders are still sore from cringing. The action doesn't let up for long--it's a series of battering punches.

7. Even with all the intellectual things going on, the flick has some real crowd-pleasing moments. The payoffs really work because the stakes are so high.

8. When characters are placed in jeopardy, it’s for real. You’ll no doubt find yourself worrying about them because no punches are pulled (except for one, but my god, the payoff for it is awesome).

9. You can tell that a lot of thought and passion went into this movie. It’s not color-by-numbers. And for a film that has such ideas and themes, it’s well-balanced: funny in spots, with genuine character “moments” and enough scares and dread to fill a horror movie. As much as I liked SUPERMAN RETURNS, it was missing what THE DARK KNIGHT includes: major heart.

I’m still thinking about the film, and I’m sure it’ll stay with me for at least a few days, if not longer. It’s been eons since I’ve wanted to go back to the theater to watch a movie another time, but here I am, planning to go again.

Love, love, LOVED it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

DARK KNIGHT versus MAMMA MIA--Whatcha Gonna Do?

Big face off this weekend, and we all must make the choice as to which flick we want to see first:

THE DARK KNIGHT, which is said to be indeed quite dark and promises to be pretty depressing, even though Heath Ledger is supposed to knock the Joker out of the park?

Or MAMMA MIA, whose ads are filled with lightness and singing and a beautiful ocean stretching out into forever?

This could be some sort of Litmus test to see just what kind of person you are (or maybe even what mood dominates at this point). Do you gravitate toward the heavy stuff (and make no mistake--even though TDK is a "superhero" movie, it's supposed to have some major gravitas)? Or would you rather skip that to watch a silly (but highly effective) musical romp?

You've got three guesses as to where I'll be, and if all goes well, I should be seeing THE DARK KNIGHT...and in IMAX even!!!

How about you...?

Monday, July 14, 2008

NINC Blog

There's a new blog in Cybertown, and it's over at http://www.ninc.com/blog/.

NINC is an organization for published career writers across the genres. I especially love NINC's conference, because you get to mine very diverse points of view, and that gives a person a lot of perspective in this industry: the issues affecting horror writers might reflect those of romance writers, etc.

We'll see what direction this blog takes, but by reading the content and leaving comments as the blog grows, you can help shape the site's future.

I'll be posting there in early August, so we'll see what I'll be talking about!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Knee Deep in Vamps

So I've pretty much put my Japan Blaze to bed. Just one more polish and it's off to Brenda Chin's desk. Meanwhile, I've been contracted to do what looks to be a fun continuity for Special Edition. I've actually got the first book, and it's a CEO versus Nanny story, with the nanny being an ex-showgirl from Vegas. I've never written a heroine like that, so I'm really looking forward to it.

While I'm plotting that (since the synopsis is due August 15 and I will write the actual book in November), I've started with Vampire Babylon, Book 5, again. I think we've already got a title--PATH OF RAZORS--so I hope the action lives up to that creepy promise. I'm writing chapter three today after trying something a little different with the opening two chapters. Usually I open the books with a mystery or situation that'll be solved/resolved by the end of that book, and it's the same thing here but with a dual situation instead of a single one: a vampire mystery and a who-the-heck-is-behind-this-mystery mystery.

I don't want to give more than that away, but you all will find out what I mean next year when the book is released....

Monday, July 07, 2008

Summer TV

Are you all as fed up with most of the garbage on TV right now as I am? Do you also feel as if we're being attacked by every single bad reality show idea to ever come down the pike?

At least there are a few interesting spots in the summer line up....

* IN PLAIN SIGHT (USA): In spite of a slow start, this series about a U.S. Marshal who works in the WITSEC program has taken off. The main character, Mary Shannon, is pretty fun, with lots o' attitude, but it's her sympathetic, encyclopedic partner, Marshall, who really makes this show for me.

* SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE (Fox): Yes, I'm sick of reality shows, but this one doesn't really count since it transcends most competition/reality series. Even though the judges can be annoying, they're very constructive, and the dancers on this show are truly amazing. Way better than AMERICAN IDOL, IMHO.

* FEAR ITSELF (NBC): Like its prototype, MASTERS OF HORROR, this tamed-down scary anthology series doesn't always live up to its potential. However, the last installment, "Eater," was really gross, suspenseful, and horrific, and I hope it set the bar for the rest of the season.

* SWINGTOWN (CBS): There's something about this show that just really interests me, and it's not anything technical. I think I love the music and the summertime party feel more than the faux-"cheeky" premise of a normal couple who gets into the swingin' lifestyle of the 70s. It's way less titillating than you'd think, but the adult characters (including Molly Parker from DEADWOOD) have hooked me, too.

PROJECT RUNWAY, THE CLOSER, and MAD MEN start soon, so my 'tude is improving. But, best of all, I just found out that ELI STONE is being repeated on Saturdays on ABC. If you missed this show the first time around, grab onto it now. It started out as an "okay" show for me, but it was one of those things that rolled into a giant snowball of awesome. (I guess it comes out on DVD September 2, too.)

Friday, July 04, 2008

Comic-Con Fireworks!

I'm gearing up for the Con, just as I do at this time every year. To celebrate this, I've posted a tidbit from Kevin Smith's blog. He kindly provided this video from last year's presentation, which I was unable to attend, much to my bummerment.

I'm posting it for a few reasons:

1. It's the 4th of July, and time for fireworks.

2. Kevin Smith is a hilarious, dirty-mouthed god when it comes to putting a heckler in his place, and you must witness his mastery.

3. This video shows you one thing to expect at Comic-Con: hardgore geeks aren't afraid to express their fanboy/fangirl opinions, even if it means confronting the work's creator in front of thousands of people.

4. Karma rules.

WARNING: If you don't like cussing or sexually frank talk, please don't watch this. Same goes for anyone whose mom and dad would not be happy if they walked into the room and heard Kevin Smith going off.
'Kay?



Happy Fourth!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

THE NIGHT WATCHER at the Playhouse

Last night I saw the coolest play. THE NIGHT WATCHER was a one-woman page-to-stage production from Charlayne Woodard at the La Jolla Playhouse. Page-to-stage means that this play is still in development, and the creative team uses feedback from the audience to shape the work further. In fact, they say that if you see the play on night one, it's going to be pretty different on closing night.

On a technical note, I marvel at the openness of the creative team to take part in the page-to-stage process, because how many of us who write books or screenplays or songs want to keep our "visions pure"? Even though feedback is an excellent thing that often improves our work, it can be hard to take. But Woodard, who acts in *and* wrote the play, loves the process.

The play itself tackles a subject that I've never seen addressed before: the place of a woman in society who chooses not to have children yet who considers nieces and nephews and the kids of family friends to be, in many ways, her own. This is the "it takes a village to raise a child" philosophy, and I really relate to it because I, too, have children in my life who aren't my own. There's a certain stigma attached to a woman who can have kids but doesn't, and as Woodard tells a series of vignettes about her experiences in raising them when they somehow "fall through the cracks" of normal family life, it is incredibly touching. It doesn't hurt that she's hugely engaging, as well--a natural born storyteller who lights up the stage.

Happy Fourth to you and *your* kids!