Sunday, April 10, 2005

Finally, A Break

Yeah, I'm still alive. Barely. Let me tell you - if you ever consider remodeling your bathroom four weeks before you expect to have a house full of guests, take my advice and just don't. I have tile chips in my hair, grout underneath my fingernails, and every muscle in my body aches. Not to mention the fact that my dreams are full of paint swatches and toilet paper fixtures. What happened to all of those dashing Navy SEALs?

Last night (after running to no less than four home improvement stores throughout the day) I gave myself the night off. I curled up on the couch and read a book, and it was bliss. Linda Howard's A Game of Chance, the last in her Mackenzie family series (or so she says) and a very nice bit of escape for someone knee-deep in thinset mortar compound. I liked Chance Mackenzie (the hero) and Sunny Miller (the plucky heroine), and really my one and only complaint is that the book ended too quickly with all of the major issues solved far too easily.

I don't think this is too much of a spoiler if I explain what I mean. In the story, Chance Mackenzie, an undercover operative of unknown origins, meticulously orchestrates to fall into the path of Sunny Miller, a woman whose father is a known terrorist leader. Chance is convinced that Sunny is in cahoots with her father and the key to finally bringing down the dangerous man. And if Sunny isn't the devil's-daughter-incarnate, at the very least she makes good bait to draw out Satan himself.

Apparently Chance has the same authority as God, because he manages to have the entire airline industry alter their commercial flight plans so that Sunny will be forced to accept his gallant offer to fly her to Seattle in time for her to deliver a parcel, thereby saving herself from being fired from her courier job. And I'm not sure what airline school Chance attended that taught him how to fake a fuel pump malfunction so he can "crash land" in the middle of a deep, inescapable canyon, but that's exactly what he does. All of this, of course, part of his scheme to get Sunny to trust him enough to spill her deepest family secrets and maybe give him a little nookie as a bonus.

Sunny, for her part, is terrified of her father and has spent her entire life running and hiding so as to avoid the man's clutches. Even so, she falls hook, line and sinker for Chance's act, including that bonus nookie. After only two days of good Mackenzie loving, she 'fesses up that Daddy Dearest is evil and she's been a fugitive since the day she was born.

Chance is happy to learn that Sunny is innocent because of course he's developed "feelings" for her. Unfortunately those feelings don't go deep enough for him to want to give up the idea of using her as live bait to flush out Daddy Terrorist.

Long story short, Sunny learns that basically every word out of Chance's mouth since she'd met him had been a lie. Chance - to his credit - doesn't try to offer excuses or apologies because he knows Sunny's right to think he's an incredible bastard.

Thus comes to my disappointment with the ending. Now, without reading the story, I'm sure you can imagine that Sunny has major trust issues. And the fact that she trusted Chance as much as she did was a big deal. So wouldn't you imagine that after learning how Chance had used her so completely, she'd be kind of just a little bit sort of pissed off?

She was, yes.

And wouldn't you imagine that after 29 years of not trusting people plus having just been royally burned by the first man you dared to trust would make you just a teeny tiny bit wary of ever trusting anyone ever again, especially the untrustworthy man?

Well...she wasn't.

I think it took her all of a week before all was forgiven. And this wasn't a week full of Chance groveling or begging for her to forgive him.

It just left such a bad taste for me, because up until that last few pages, I'd really enjoyed the book. But I felt like LH decided she needed to tie things up and move on or perhaps she'd hit the magic word count or something so she sold out one of her main character's primary personality traits so she could wash her hands of the whole thing.

And the thing is, the first chapter was this major in-depth scene of Chance interacting with his brother, Zane, and Zane's daughter, Nick. I mean, it went on for so long I kinda started to wonder why I had to read so much about little Nick's "pwetty wittle shoes".

I still liked this book. I guess I just wish LH might have cut down the pointless Chance/Nick interaction and shifted that hunk of word-count to the end so Sunny and Chance might have found a resolution that actually rang true to the enormity of the conflict between them.

Okay, back to tiling...

Friday, April 08, 2005

Technical Difficulties

Big apologies for going AWOL...I've been experiencing technical difficulties, both of the hardware kind and the real-life-keeping-me-insanely-busy-kind. Sadly it doesn't look like my schedule will be easing up for a while, so my posts will be sporadic until May.

I haven't disappeared for good! Just consider this a teeny tiny hiatus with as many posts as I can possibly manage.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

My First True Love and Other Mary Sue Moments

I did watch Episode 4 of Mr. Romance last night, but since the recap takes a good couple of hours (which I sadly won’t have until at least tonight), this is kind of a fill-in until I can get it done. Hope you don’t mind. It’ll be worth it, I promise, because last night’s epi was actually not too bad.

The other day I was watching one of those “50 Greatest…” TV shows. You know, the ones on Bravo Network and VH1 that list the 50 Greatest Awesomely Bad Love Songs or the 50 Funniest Movie Moments. I absolutely love these types of retrospectives. I’m a complete junkie for all things nostalgic, even the stuff that is technically not even close to history yet (such as VH1’s “I Love the 90s” show which caused the DH to roll his eyes and ask if it still wasn’t the nineties).

Anyway, this particular show (and my point) was the 100 Greatest Television Characters. I only caught the top 40 (at an hour per 20, I didn’t have five free hours to devote) which is kind of regrettable because I see on Bravo’s Website that Doug Ross from ER is number 95 (George Clooney - *sigh* - now there’s a man who gives aging well a good name) and Maddie Hayes/David Addison are number 69 (and I’ve been on a Moonlighting kick of late). Oh, and I see Dr. Johnny Fever (WKRP in Cincinnati/Howard Hesseman) is #73 and Capt. Jean Luc Picard is 55…maybe I should see about renting this…

Back to my point, the number 9 Greatest TV Character is none other than Capt. James T. Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise. And as these shows do, they hobbled together interview snippets with an aging (but not nearly as nicely as George Clooney) William Shatner and his partner in crime Leonard Nimoy/Spock along with clips from Star Trek. Watching those clips I was really struck by how dashing Capt. Kirk was in his skin tight Star Fleet uniform with his blond lock of hair tumbling rakishly over his forehead, hazel eyes twinkling and that knowing, confident smirk firmly in place. Yes, I can see why he was selected as one of the top 10 Greatest TV Characters. Here was a real hero in the old school tradition, when men used phasers and technically-savvy women wore go-go boots with their micro minis.

I was so intrigued by how different William Shatner looks now with how great he looked back in the day, I got a hankering to watch an episode or two of Star Trek. Gotta love TiVo which indicated some 257 upcoming episodes, and last night I watched “Of Bread and Circuses”.

Dang, that show was cheesy.

I suppose I’m not being fair because I’m a child of The Matrix. Plus my professional life is rooted in CGI wizardry, and I’ve worked with some of the best in the industry. So my expectations for coolness in Science Fiction is very, very high.

Even so, it’s not just the consoles of randomly blinking lights and that funky silver antenna/radar plug Lt. Uhura had sticking out of her ear that gave Star Trek the swiss cheese factor. It’s the really stupid stories. Or rather, the gaping plot holes, the complete implausibility of the situations Capt. Kirk and his cohorts find themselves in (last night happened to put our heroes into a modern day Roman Coliseum-like situation where they had to gladiate themselves to save their own hides), and the fact that Capt. Kirk always kisses the girl, no matter how ridiculous the nature of their meeting (last night’s girl was a slave, sent to meet Capt. Kirk’s every need).

But you just have to love that show!!

It’s pure camp. It’s a training ground for the future snark-masters of the entertainment world. And watching Capt. James T. Kirk be Capt. Kirk is pure fluffy joy. You have to love it because it’s all the fun without any of the real angst. You know the ending will be happy. You know that Kirk will always get the girl. No one really important will die (unless he happens to get assigned the dreaded red shirt in costuming) and the bad guys/aliens will be vanquished. It’s a romance novel lite.

Before I’d ever heard of the term Mary Sue or had any idea what it meant, I followed in the footsteps of innumerous Star Trek fanfic writers without even knowing it. My very first fantasies (of a highly innocent variety given I was probably all of 10 when I conceived them) involved myself as the newest darling on the U.S.S. Enterprise. Of course I could do it all. My perfect little character-self had the ability to evoke deep emotion in the ever-stoic Spock, a gentle humor out of the sarcastic Dr. McCoy, and complete and utter devotion from the womanizing Capt. Kirk. Once he laid eyes on me, all other women in the entire cosmos ceased to exist.

Plus I solved all the crises that occurred on every mission, spoke every known language in Uhura’s database, all before contracting a near-fatal illness or two so everyone could wail about in abject misery, only to emerge healed and luminous to play chess with Spock and mack with an eternally grateful Kirk. *Sigh*

All by myself I invented the Mary Sue! Didn’t have a clue that’s what I was doing, but now that I’ve become oh-so-wise, I just marvel at the boring-ness of my own experience. Dang if I didn’t actually follow some kind of text-book to get it exactly right. And I even used Star Trek – the very show which launched a million Mary Sues (and Gary Stus).

At least I can say that I never actually wrote one of my fantasies down to show to countless anonymous people out there in cyberspace. Talk about feeling unoriginal.

But taking that walk down the Star Trek memory lane is very sweet. How close to the surface those old fantasies are, and since they remain (and always will) firmly within the safety of my own brain, I can Mary Sue all I want with Capt. Kirk and Spock.

Plus I see on the TiVo that my most favorite episode is coming up soon – "Spock’s Brain". How can you not love a show when someone’s brain can be physically removed from his head and put in a glass jar? Although, my favorite episode is "Amok Time" when Spock must undergo the ancient Vulcan mating ritual time and fights Capt. Kirk, and McCoy slips Kirk a mickey to simulate his death...

Man. Classic.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Benefits of Remodeling

I've discovered the sure-fire way to kick the Muse into high gear. Make sure you have something to keep you so busy there is no time at all to write.

We are remodeling one of our bathrooms, and some visitors expected at the end of the month have given us a tight deadline. So yesterday I spent the majority of the day covered in wall-paper stripping chemicals, goopy crud scraped off the walls and three inches of sanding dust. During all of this monotonous work, I had the radio playing in the background and loads of time to let my mind wander (stripping wallpaper requires tons of elbow-grease but zero brain power).

In that time, I fleshed out a new, unexpected character for a current story, worked out her plot, invented not only her future love interest but the character who provides the major source of her immediate issues, and imagined a few rounds of dialogue for good measure.

All of this without a pen at hand or a laptop within easy reach. I'm just hoping and praying that it sticks in my brain solidly enough to come out later. Usually my truly good ideas aren't easily forgotten, so I'm not too awfully worried.

I figure I have a good two weeks worth of work prepping and painting and the like, so I should have a dozen volumes and enough characters to populate a small village by the time the bathroom is finished.

Dang, I think we're going to need a bigger house.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Good Saturday Morning!

Via Jaye, this is a fine way to start the day. Find out your battle cry:

What Is Your Battle Cry?

Who is that, stalking over the mini-mall parking lot! It is Lmcc, hands clutching a jeweled meat hammer! And with a cruel cry, her voice cometh:

"I'm going to spank you beyond the end of time, then bake cookies!!"

Mine's actually...well, pretty darn accurate.

Friday, April 01, 2005


This one's just all over the place...

I don't know what these two gals are up to, but dang I almost had Diet Coke pouring out my nose when I checked in at Smart Bitches today. Those bunnies *are* cute! (Turns out to be a great April Fools gag but you can still check it out.) Thank you, Candy and Sarah, for eternally supplying me with pure belly laughs. I *heart* you guys!

Both Steph Tyler and Meljean have recently done blogs in a style that I just love - writing a blog-as-story thingy. I love getting a glimpse into their "writer" brains. Steph has me itching to read more about her Jake...

I just discovered Sylvia Day's April word challenge, which looks to be a good place to publicly commit yourself to accomplishing some specific goal. This is what I need - someone to hold me accountable even if it is just a virtual accountability. Unfortunately (or actually fortunately because this is a good thing), I have big time company coming at the end of the month, so my goals for April include dusting, painting, and putting away those lingering Christmas decorations. I don't suppose this is what Sylvia had in mind, but I'll be back in May...

Glad to have Red Pen Diaries back. I missed her...

Maili, interesting remark in your YA/To Mc or Not to MC post. I'm an McC by marriage and figured I sat square in the middle of the Ms, but looks like maybe I can be promoted up to the Cs if it's something worth cutting up the line for *g*...

Yesterday afternoon I finished Ann Brashares' Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and after getting myself together enough to stop weeping, ran out and bought Second Summer of the Sisterhood and Girls in Pants, stayed up until 4 am reading SSotS (again with much weeping) and am contemplating blowing off pretty much everything today to start in on GiP. Dang. Good stuff. Plus I found out the Sisterhood movie releases June 3 and looks to be a pretty good adaptation. In the effort of continuing my YA glom, I'm heading to Borders to pick up a few Meg Cabots (Princess Diaries, All-American Girl) since it seems she's another writer who's managed to make a splash in the YA market.

Last official day of Spring Break (because weekends don't count) so I'm kind of looking forward to life getting back to normal next week. I'll miss the sleeping in but to have my mornings nice and quiet...