Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Hard Stop

I had this great idea for a story. It was loosely based on a classic about three sisters (as in, same basic plot arc but with a lot of changes to specifics and situations). One of the sisters - the youngest - didn't actually have much of a story in the original. But I determined that all three ladies would get equal time in my story, so I went about arcing something interesting for her.

But then something unexpected happened. I found myself way more intrigued by the littlest sister's story than the other two sisters'. I got more excited when writing about her, and the scenes I needed to write for the older girls became chore-like.

In addition, this young lady's antagonist began to develop a personality and a voice all his own. Originally I sometimes wrote out scenes from his POV, both because it helped me fill in some things, let me explore why this guy acted the way he did, and, well, I kind of like him a lot and love to spend time with him. I'm finding those throwaway scenes are some of my favorites, and relegating them to my "Little Darlings" file is really unappealing.

All of the sudden, my story has gone from a three POVs to four.

So now I'm faced with a dilemma. I feel like I should let go of my original idea. Cut the two older sisters loose and focus on the youngest. She's far more original, and I like her best of the three.

Except, when I originally concepted the story, the three individual sisters' plots intertwined. What happened to one sister affected the actions of the other sisters, which in turn moved their plots forward. If I cut out the two older sisters, some of the younger sister's story wouldn't happen.

Too, the younger sister's personality was formed by being the youngest of three girls. She fits into a particular slot in her family, and the ways she's differentiated herself from her two older siblings makes her a lot of what she is. If all of the sudden she is sister-less, she changes fundamentally.

I could shove the two older sisters deep into the background. Flesh out only what I need to have fleshed out in order to keep the plot intact. But part of me kind of misses the thought of writing the older sisters' stories, at least at some later date.

Ideally, I'd write three books - one from each sister's POV. Their stories would happen simultaneously, which is where it all falls apart. Any sense of anticipation would be nonexistent, because in reading one sister's story, you'd know what happens to the other two.


I may have to poke around this one for a while longer.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Things I Know

Yesterday my husband looked over my shoulder at the website I currently had open on my laptop.

"Why are you reading about jellyfish?" he asked.

"I need to know how to treat a jellyfish sting," I replied.

A moment of silence while he processed this. "Is there something I should know about?"


This got me to thinking about all the obscure things I now know or know how to do because of writing.

For example, in addition to offering first aid for a jellyfish sting, I can:

• Start a fire with a flashlight.

• Name all of the runes in the Elder Futhark and their general meanings

• Discuss in disturbing detail the various ways of collecting horse semen for use in artificial insemination

• Identify which plants and herbs would have made a good hair dye in late sixteenth century colonial America

• Explain the process a juvenile delinquent would follow if he were to commit a crime in the UK

• Spew obscenities in eight different languages (well, three of these are variations of English but they count)

• Tell you what drugs to add to a cup of tea to render the drinker unconscious

• Find a great topless beach in Maui

• Take photos in the dark, without using flash so as to not give yourself away

If I get nothing else out of writing, at least I'm gaining an interesting education.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Top Romantic Scenes Cliche

I'm sure this is far from original, but since I love this in any form, I'm going for it any way.

In honor of Valentine's Day, I'd like to share my all time favorite movie and TV love (and kiss) scenes. In no particular order:

1. The final scene from An Officer and a Gentleman. This may have to be the defining Romantic Movie Scene of all time. I mean, who isn't moved by the sight of Richard Gere in his military whites, rescuing Debra Winger from a dreary future in the paper factory when he whisks her literally off her feet and carries her towards the adventures they will share together? Not to mention the movie's quintessential love can heal even the most damaged soul theme. Any one who doesn't melt over this has no soul.

2. The moment when best friends Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) and Keith (Eric Stoltz) share a "practice" kiss in the movie Some Kind of Wonderful. Neither one of them expects the way the kiss affects them, and it's so clear to us, the viewers, that these two share something way more than friendship. The ending of the movie runs a close second (so I've linked it because I love it!), but this is one of my all time favorite movie kisses.

3. This is a quickie but quite possibly the best example of Finally Resolved Sexual Tension ever presented on TV. It's the kiss between The West Wing's Josh (Bradley Whitford) and Donna (Janel Moloney) in Season 7's "The Cold" episode. For six and a half long seasons, loyal viewers (and Donna/Josh shippers) had been longing for this. The payoff was well worth the wait. It also proved the perfect example of how to drag UST on and on without frustrating viewers.

4. The next two examples are beautiful because of the tragedy they present. Any fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer knows why Buffy and her soul mate Angel can't be together. But it isn't until the episode "I Will Remember You," in Season 1 of Angel, when Angel is made human and the two have a chance to experience what life could be like, that the true sadness of the situation comes to light. In this scene, Buffy and Angel realize that they can never be together, and not only is their future taken from them, but the one glorious day they spent together will also be lost to Buffy when her memory is stripped. Too, Angel must live the rest of eternity knowing how good he almost had it. This scene breaks your heart.

5. The next scene is kind of an obscure choice. It's the last scene from the movie Green Card. Now, generally I'm not a big fan of Andie MacDowell (that rain scene with Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral was god awful), and Gérard Depardieu has to be the homeliest romantic hero I've ever encountered. But the moment when his character George kisses uptight Bronte for the final time, the look on his face is one of pure torment. At last he's obtained the love of this prickly woman, only to face immediate deportation. I remember watching this movie with my father, and looking at him with dismay at the end of it, wondering WTF?! For nearly two hours we watch these two people fight and then fall in love, only to have them separated at the end? But upon rewatching, I realized that their separation is far from final. She can always join him in France. Even so, there is a bittersweetness in these moments between them that is pure romance.

6. This one is just hot. H.O.T. I stopped watching Lost after the second season and haven't managed to pick it back up again to find out how the romance between Kate and Sawyer (and Jack) is progressing. But when Kate and Sawyer turned to each other and sex as a way to find comfort in a hopeless situation, you couldn't help but swoon. Forget that they are dirty and most likely smelly, and that they are basically in zoo cages on display for one and all to watch. This one is steamy.

7. Okay, this needs a disclaimer. This is romantic in the sweetest, most innocent way possible. In the live action remake of Peter Pan, I finally understood the relationship between Peter and Wendy. The tension between the allure of remaining a child forever, and the irresistible pull of growing up. When Wendy gives her first "hidden" kiss to Peter, it is simply wonderful in that way that all first kisses are.

I couldn't find a clip to embed directly, but you can check out the scene here.

8. I'm not sure if this ranks as most romantic, but it is by far one of the most passionate, desperate kisses I've ever seen portrayed in the movies. The tragedy of Brokeback Mountain was in how two people so obviously meant to be together had to hide every emotion they had toward each other. But sometimes, the feelings were so strong they couldn't be denied. After four years apart, Ennis Delmar simply can't help himself when he sees Jack Twist, and the result is explosive, almost violent.

9. I think only about a thousand or so people will understand the hotness of the following scene since probably only that many were ever fans of the short lived series, Men in Trees. But the heat between Marin (Anne Heche) and Jack (James Tupper) was obvious from the first second the two met in a bar in Elmo, Alaska. It takes a heat wave for them to finally act on it. But when they finally do, dang, the screen is on fire! Jack is a guy of very few words, but the look on his face is fierce enough to say it all. Sorry for the poor vid quality, but this show is yet to be put on DVD, so there isn't much out there.

10. Maybe not romantic, per se, but definitely hot. When Annie (Susan Sarandon) and Crash (Kevin Costner) finally get together in Bull Durham, it's a match made in heaven. And who doesn't love a man as confident as Crash? I tell you, cornflakes never looked so good.

I have a lot of ideas for more, but I'm having problems linking vids. Seems everyone wants to use movie clips to make music videos rather than posting them pure. Anyway, here's some runner up scenes:

The love scene in the library, between Kiera Knightly and James McAvoy in Atonement. Whoa.

Any scene where Keanu Reeves is kissing the heroine. He is quite possibly the best on-screen kisser out there.

The reunion seen between Jude Law's Inman and Nicole Kidman's Ada in Cold Mountain. I can't bear to watch the entire film again, but I could watch this love scene over and over...

Isn't love grand? Happy Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Living, Breathing Fake People

Any writer who goes about things through her characters is well familiar with the notion that fictional characters become almost real to those of us who conceive them and spend inordinate amounts of time thinking about them and then writing about them. These people who are nothing more than figments of our imagination become as real to us as people we know who actually move and breathe, even if we keep this little fact to ourselves. We can hear voices, imagine what a character will do in a given situation, even attribute a runaway plot to a character who isn't doing what we expected him or her to do.

But in the interest of creating three-dimensional characters who are able to engage a reader and draw them into the story, I have to wonder when a writer has gone too far. When the character becomes a little too real.

I'm sure each writer has his or her own particular line.

I have an entire village worth of characters who populate my brain, each person as unique and familiar to me as my own family members. And I've done some crazy things in my efforts to get to know the ins and outs of these folks.

I've interviewed my characters. Inserted myself into a scene, asked questions like a reporter and responded to the answers I was given, just as if I were as fictional as my character. I find this is a great way to fine-tune my character's voice. It also helps me dig deep, to follow threads that reveal motivation and deep seated feelings I'd never before considered. I have a lot of fun with this, and often it threatens to take over the actual writing of the story.

I've heard a song on the radio and thought about whether or not a particular character would like it. More often, I hear a song and think how much it suits a particular character or his/her situation. Usually the songs ends up on a playlist.

I've cruised through catalogs - on-line - looking for clothes I can imagine my characters wearing or the way I imagine their rooms might look.

I've come up with elaborate family trees.

I've created dossiers, complete with photos. Someday, I think these would be fun extras on a website for the published books. Hey, they did it with the James Bond movies.

I've filled out form after form, answered questionnaires and taken personality tests as my characters, and even explored their horoscopes, looking for tiny clues about what makes them tick.

I've sprayed cologne from the testers at the cosmetics counter onto a piece of paper or tissue and sealed it in a baggy so I can recapture the way I think a particular character smells. I think this was probably the closest to my personal limits line that I've ever gotten.

Things I've never done:

I've never bought an item for a character because I thought he or she would wear it/like it/want it. I did once buy a bayberry-scented candle because one of my characters used bayberry soap, and I wanted to check to make sure I liked the smell. I excused this by calling it research.

I've never accidentally called someone in my real life by a character's name.

I've never allowed my characters to actually interact with real people as if they were living humans themselves, a la the Brotherhood vampires on JR Ward's Black Dagger website.

I've never celebrated a fictional character's fictional birthday.

I've never let a character hijack my story. Sure, they may have introduced a tangent or two that I'd never thought about, but I've never had a problem with misbehaviour or downright mutiny.

In the end, however a writer goes about making her characters as real as they can be, the ultimate test is conveying that to the reader. Whatever gimmicks are necessary, I say go for it.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Oh, Man. Why'd She Have to Go and Do That?

I know that writers are only human. They have limits, just like the rest of us, and when those limits are pushed, they break. And because of the public nature of their chosen profession, when a writer experiences one of these messy implosions, it is witnessed by many. Complete strangers can then poke their noses into the fray, commenting and inciting and generally stirring up trouble. Pretty soon, a full-blown broohaha has erupted and there's no telling what the aftermath might bring.

This reality sucks, but as they say in the truck driving industry, them's the brakes.

I've remarked before of when I thought a writer reacted poorly to extreme amounts of criticism heaped upon her lastest bit of genius. Now I'm sad to see that one of my all time favorite writers, Suzanne Brockmann, has fallen victim to too much criticism. Because that's the only thing I can imagine would cause her to go so completely out of line.

It seems that too many readers have taken exception to Brockmann's latest, Dark of Night, in which the couple that many had assumed would find their HEA did not, in fact, end up together. (Instead, Sophie and Decker found their happinesses with others.) Many readers who had been following their saga over the course of many books were. not. happy. And as unhappy readers will do, they've launched into five hundred verses of "Your book sucks" in such a way that Brockmann apparently couldn't tune out the noise.

A sidebar: I, myself, had no problem with the way things ended up. I wasn't so invested in these characters that I had any issue with the ultimate pairings that occurred in DON. I had some other issues with DON, but nothing that would cause me to hate on Brockmann publicly.

Anyway, it seems that Brockmann's tolerance for the vocal complaints against DON reached the boiling point at a fairly low temperature, and she shifted into Fangirls Only mode on her message board, banning those who harshed on the book in any way. My thoughts on that - immature, a form of censorship, and an expression of a some level of egotism. BUT - it's her sandbox, and she can play with whomever she wants. I tend to avoid the MBs of writers because I find them very scary places.

Then, however, Brockmann took her frustrations to a more public playground, and now I can't ignore what I perceive is at the best, unprofessionalism and at the worst, behaviour that means I can no longer divorce the writer from the writing.

You can read the post yourself and formulate your own opinions. But what I took away from this, besides a sad realization that Brockmann really doesn't hold her readers in very high esteem (at least those of us who turn to the internet on a regular basis, romance sites specifically), is that she will assign any - ANY - dissatisfaction any person has with any of her writing as nothing less heinous than homophobia.

If you think the heroine acted TSTL? You must hate gay people. If you found the plot full of problems and holes? Closet homophobe. If you didn't think the main couple had any chemistry and were disappointed in how their relationship unfolded? Stupid homophobe. If you got clues out of her stories that led you to think one thing only to find things changed in ways you didn't understand? Stupid, ignorant homophobe.

My affront to this implication is kind of funny given I'm not in any way homophobic. My love for Jules Cassidy is complete, and I've always thought Brockmann a hero for the way she stood up for her son, risked her career by following a path that would turn most romance writers purple with fear, and has never once caved to the haters of the world. I should be able to say to myself that, given that I didn't hate DON and that I'm not anti-gay, her remarks did not apply to me.

Yet, I'm still insulted. Because she's refusing to own her work, warts and all. She's refusing to acknowledge that some people out there might have valid reasons for their disappointment. She's acting like the person who cries racism/sexism/xenophobia for every single problem they have ever experienced in life. She's painting herself as a victim of Evil People With an Ulterior Agenda. Because she now has an Excuse for why people don't like her stuff, she doesn't have to try very hard, does she? It's not her. It's everyone else.

Too, by painting everyone who disagrees with her with the same brush, she's showing herself to be the worst form of hypocrite. She decries those who judge people who are outside the mainstream (i.e., homosexual), yet she'll judge me (and other readers) simply because we disagree with her on some point.
With her remarks, she has shown that she will reduce me from an intelligent person capable of forming thoughts and opinions based on my likes, dislikes, personal experiences, and multiple other factors to someone who is either A Fan or a A Homophobe based on my opinion of her latest book.

Real fair, that.

Now I'm in a quandry. Generally I'm capable of divorcing the writer from his or her writing. I can fully accept that not everyone holds the same beliefs that I do, and that to deny myself a good story because I might not think the same way politically as the writer is kind of stupid.

But in this instance, it's not a matter of different beliefs that gives me pause. Nor is it a matter of me not being able to enjoy the stories Brockmann tells, because this doesn't change the fact that she's a good writer. It's more a matter of not wanting to give my money to someone who will accuse me of homophobia if I fail to love every word that comes out of her word processor.

I have an issue when the writer reaches through the fourth wall and smacks me across the face.

ETA: I have since had time to reread the question/reply post that inspired all of this, and I do need to admit that Brockmann did not say that ALL of those who disliked or had issue with DON are probably homophobes. She did say that some might have issue with the book not because of the character pairing, plot or story issues, etc. but because they have issues with her personal politics. Some, not all. So in essence, my above rant is also in the extreme.

Even so, I do think this entire fiasco has brought out a side of an author that I'd rather have not seen.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Passing the Torch

I generally don't like TMI blog entries, but I kind of have to go there. Two days ago, my daughter announced to me that one of her friends just got her first period. I had given her the birds and bees basics several years back, but we hadn't really discussed any of the actual details in the when and whats of this particular woman-hood moment yet, because, frankly, it seems like it's kind of early for this. My daughter is only in the fifth grade, so she's just beginning the joy that is puberty. Lucky her. Anyway, I was a bit taken aback that she'd become so savvy right beneath my nose, gathered myself together before the surprise could show, and tried my hardest to be Cool Mom Whom You Can Always Go To For the Answers and She'll Give It to You Straight.

Turns out her big question is what she should do if this were to happen to her when she's at school. Should she go to the nurse? I downloaded my advice about what to do and reassured her that I didn't think she had much to worry about yet. She seemed satisfied and headed back to AIM, her lifeline to the world.

And I headed straight to the bookshelf where I have all of my YA keepers, those current and those from my past. I pulled out my battered, purple-covered copy of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, smiling to myself when I opened the front cover and saw where my mother had penned in my name - my maiden name - on the book's title page. I don't know how many times I had read that book when I was in the fifth and sixth grade. Perhaps close to a hundred. But at long last, I was going to pass down a real part of my own history to my child, thrilled that this would be one growing up experience we would have in common.

I headed back downstairs and handed the book to my daughter, telling her I thought she might enjoy reading this particular story. She glanced at it, tossed it on her desk and said "Thanks" then headed back to the computer. The book hasn't moved an inch in two days.


I don't know what I was expecting. First of all, my daughter's reading tastes are all over the place, but she has a surprising predilection for fantasy and the books that tend to win children's literature awards like the Rebecca Caudill Award. No biggie, cause she also reads the Clique books and is dying to jump into Twilight, so I know she's capable of enjoying mind candy like the rest of us. Plus, when you read the blurb on the back of AYTGIMM, it somewhat misleads you to think that the book is all about God and religion rather than training bras and getting your period. And there is the fact that I'm her mother and everyone knows that reading something your mother thinks you should read is going to turn out about as well as dating someone your mother thinks you should date. She's well practiced at eye rolling whenever I mention how cute little So-and-So is growing up to be and that she should be nice to him...

Even so, I guess I was hoping she'd grab the book from my hands, plop down on her bed and immediately dig in. Does she have any idea at all how good that book is? How much it influenced me when I was her age? She has no clue what she's missing!

I thought, maybe if I go to the book store and pick up a copy with a cover far less dated than my circa 1978 version she'd be more receptive. But I've vowed to cut back on frivolous spending, and I think this applies. Too, there's a good possibility that AYTGIMM is included in a Judy Blume collection bound into one volume I picked up at some point on some bargain table. I just need to get off my butt and go check. Regardless of the format, there's the chance she just won't be interested.

So I'm just going to ask her casually now and again if she's had a chance to look it over. Obviously I can't force her to read it. Or can I? No. Really. And even if she does, I can't guarantee that she'll find it as life affirming as I had. This is one of those leading a horse and just hoping it's smart enough - in this case, intrigued enough - to drink.

This isn't the first time I've had to deal with one of my kids ignoring the fact that, indeed, I might have a clue. And given that we're heading into those teen years, I suppose I'd better get used to it.

Little sidebar: Did you know that AYTGIMM is one of the top 100 most frequently challenged (i.e. parents want it banned from school libraries) books, at least according to Wikipedia? Wow. Who knew.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

It Won't Leave Me Alone

I've come up against that old philosophical question - if a tree falls in the woods, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Or, translated as it applies to me...if a story is written but no one reads it, was it worth writing?

I know a lot of writers claim that they began writing stories for themselves, writing stories they wanted to read without regard to the idea that maybe they'd someday want others to read them as well. I totally and completely get that. I think that's why most writers are first inspired to write - they have a need for a story to be told that no one has yet managed in the precise way they want it. You read a story and are dissatisfied with how it was executed, how it unraveled, how it ended, how one or more of the characters are portrayed, or any combination of factors. So you attempt a rewrite of sorts. Enter the realm of things such as fanfiction. And fantasy football.

Sure, maybe you invent new characters or new scenarios rather than borrowing someone else's, but in some way you are trying to meet a need that you have that hasn't been met by anything you've encountered to date. Truly, I would wonder that if there was a way to catalog every single story ever told by humankind in such a way that a person could easily access the data, no one would ever need to write anything because someone somewhere probably wrote the very story they were looking for.

So you write the story you want to read, and even if it's utter crap, you smile when you read it again because it's the story as you thought it should go. Good enough. And for many, that's plenty. They tuck their notebooks or their computer files in a neat little box and pull them out for a grin time and again, quite satisfied.

But the rub comes when the itch to write the story for yourself grows and starts to climb the garden walls. All of the sudden, you as the sole audience member isn't enough.

And I'm wondering why this is and what makes this happen and who becomes subject to this?

For example - I've confessed before to dabbling in fanfic. Not going into the rightness vs. wrongness of fanfic here or now, suffice it to say that I think fanfic is the perfect training vehicle for newbie writers, and I owe a lot of my learning curve to that questionable genre.

Of late, I've got an itchin' to write a fanfic. A couple of reasons - it's a good place for me to loosen up my writing muscles when I'm stuck on my own stuff. I love the characters and the world already created and want to play with those toys. Like getting some new Barbies or Legos. And mostly...there is a story that I'd like to be told involving these particular characters and this particular world that hasn't yet been told the way I want it to be told. So it's a matter of, if you want something done, you have to do it yourself.

Given these above reasons, I should be able to write up my little fanfic, save it on my hard drive, and pull it out every once in a while when I want a smile (the story I wanted is right here!) or a laugh (gads, what awful writing) or an exercise (how can I make this better?). No need to share this with anyone, right? I can't make money off it. I can't convert it to my own stuff because it's very specific in terms of premise, characters, setting, etc. For all intents and purposes, it's useful as nothing more than a pleasant hobby, a way to spend a rainy afternoon. And there is nothing wrong with that.

But something in the back of my brain keeps tugging at me. It keeps asking the question, if I'm not going to show this to anyone else, why bother writing it up at all? Why not just let it linger in my imagination, where it's all perfect and flexible and instantly accessible? Why do the words need to be on the paper if no one will ever see them?

What's the point?

I know I've already said that it's good exercise of craft, so I could use that as an excuse. But, heck, if I'm going to do that, I might as well work on my own stuff. But I want to write this story. I want to read this story.

In fact, I keep trying to push the dang thing out of my mind. Heck, it's kind of clichéd as far as this particular fandom goes, so this story has probably already been written. A couple thousand times. I'd be embarrassed to put it out there in the cyber world only to have a bunch of hardcore fans ream my butt up and down about how unoriginal I am and how so-and-so already did this and a billion times better. I'm so not looking for abuse, or even, honestly, feedback of any sort.

But I still can't stop wanting to tell this story. I still can't stop thinking of scenes and hearing dialog in my head and imagining the climax and all of the fall out and the angst, picturing in my head the way the movie reel looks, the music playing in the background...the dang thing won't leave me alone. I'm haunted.

So I suppose I could write my story and post it on LiveJournal or someplace similar with the intention that if anyone stumbles across it, whatever. It's out there, but I have no intention of advertising that fact.

Why couldn't my passion be something simple? Like juggling chainsaws.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Not As Outraged As I Probably Should Be

I didn't watch the Superbowl (couldn't have cared less who won), not even tempted by the idea of the hysterical ads. This morning, however, I did cruise through the "Best and Worst" as judged by Entertainment Weekly. My favorites are the E*Trade babies, Doritos Crystal Ball and the Monster Moose Head ad. I laughed out loud, big time. (You can find links to all of these via the EW link since I haven't mastered embedding HuLu or YouTube vids yet.)

And, okay, this becomes a true confession moment because of all of the broohaha I've since discovered in the various blogs I hop through daily, but I laughed a lot at the Telaflora Boxed Flowers ad. I found it a riot. The look on the woman's face as the ugly tulips spouted snark in her face. The ending when, after the flowers told her that no one wanted to see her naked, the geeky guy begins "I'd like to see you..." and she stops him cold. I thought the thing was a scream.

But, I guess I'm in a teeny tiny minority. SmartBitches has pulled no punches in calling Teleflora on their shit, and the commentors over that way are up in arms. Others have blogged and polled, and it seems many women find the ad insulting at the least, downright misogynistic at worst. Wow.

At the risk of bringing down the wrath of the she-gods, I think maybe people are over-reacting just a tiny, wee bit. I honestly and truly don't believe that the ad writers and Teleflora intended to insult women with this ad. I think their message - and the one that I walked away with initially - is that in sending boxed flowers, you run the risk of sending the wrong message because you just never know what you're going to get when the flowers arrive. Presumably, with Teleflora, you can be sure that the message you are sending is one of love and joy and cute cuddly kittens because the flowers are delivered by a really hot delivery guy live human who would never let dead, wimpy flowers give your intended recipient the wrong impression.

This isn't to say the the ad writers didn't, perhaps, take the wrong tack in promoting their ad message by going to such extremes in the insults their flowers spewed at that poor, unsuspecting woman. I, personally, caught the slam against romance readers (as in "go home to your romance novels" = "ugly, lame, stupid and desperate women read romances" = this is a huge insult), as well as cat lovers. I was insulted by this remark, but by now I'm pretty much used to the propensity of the media (read: the majority of the western world) to use romance novels and romance readers as shorthand for the lowest possible level of culture, artistic expression and taste. Rather than getting my panties in a twist, though, it made me disgusted that supposedly talented ad writers in some supposedly successful advertising firm are being paid supposedly real money for being unoriginal and cliché. Boo hiss.

I, personally, find the booze ads with skimpily-clad bimbos being ogled by horn-dog men far more insulting to my gender. In fact, I find those ads insulting to both men and women - to the latter because it so completely reduces women to nothing more than a pleasing compilation of body parts and to the former by implying that they are incapable of being communicated to in any way other than via their penises (peni?). I often ask my husband if he isn't insulted by ads that use nearly-naked women to try to sell him something, implying that he is incapable of making decisions with his Big Brain instead of his Little Brain. He usually tells me to get out of the way, I'm blocking the TV screen.

I'm sure Teleflora is going to get a slew of hate directed their way for a while. I myself thought briefly of penning a "I'm a romance reader and damn proud AND a purchaser of flowers who will be avoiding you intentionally in the future" e-mail, but then I figured, why waste the energy. I'm simply not that offended, and I consider the source. Like Meljean Brook pointed out in one of the comments on one of the blogs, these flowers are supposed to be asshole flowers, thus implying that only assholes would say such a thing. True, that.

Plus, truth be told, I don't give Teleflora any business anyway since I always Google a local florist in the town where the flowers are going in order to avoid all of those fees tacked on by large-scale, nationally based florists.

And I would ask those of us (me included) who are blogging about this, aren't we, in our vocal outrage, actually helping this company by giving this ad legs? We are giving so much word of mouth weight to this that what might have been a vaguely remembered Super Bowl ad is now becoming a Hot Topic. I probably couldn't have named the company responsible for the ad had this been No Big Deal, but now, forever, when I think of florists the name "Teleflora" will be one that pops to mind. And that's the true purpose of advertising - to make buyers aware of your brand so that when it comes time to fork over the cash, they turn to you.

But, dang, can I tell you how psyched I am to see the Star Trek movie now?


Sunday, February 01, 2009


I've recently become hooked on the TV show Supernatural. Hooked as in, I've watched two seasons on DVD over the course of a week, am waiting very impatiently by the mailbox for my Season 3 DVDs to arrive, and have downloaded Season 4 episodes off iTunes so I can catch up to what's currently airing each week on The CW. Never let it be said that I don't dive in fully committed.

This show is custom built to suck me in. Two tormented brothers, played by two hot young actors, traveling the country protecting every day folks from things that go bump in the night. Loads of angst and self-torment, underdog heroes. Even a cool 1967 black Chevy Impala. What's not to love?

And as I do when something captures my fancy, I turn to the internet for more. People who share the same passion and want to talk about it ad nauseam when the live humans in my life have absolutely no interest. Maybe a fanfic or two to indulge my need to explore outside the official canon box. However, when you dip your toe into the waters of fandom, you often find the depth is way - WAY - over your head.

Case in point: I've learned a new word. Wincest. And I have to admit, it's quite disturbing.

To those who watch the show, the meaning is self-explanatory. You know what I'm talking about. Wink. Wink. To non-believers, I'll try to explain without actually saying the words. The brothers' last name is Winchester. They are both gorgeous, healthy, strapping young men. They hang out with each other all the time. Pretty much exclusively. Alone. In a state of constant tension due to their demon-chasing work. One thing leading to another...Wincest.

And yes, major big time ick.

I found this blog entry that really sums up my feelings about Wincest pretty accurately. I can completely understand how such a concept came to be. I am no prude, and Queer As Folk showed me in living color how utterly hot man on man action can be if they are the right men (hello, Brian and Justin, that would be you). It's not the boy on boy aspect of Wincest that stops me cold. It's the brother on brother.

Incest is probably the most universally taboo social construct known to mankind, bar none. I know of not one group of peoples on the planet who accepts sibling on sibling action when the siblings share real genetic material, aka one or more parents. Even beyond the social, there are biological imperatives that give good reason it is forbidden.

So while I understand why fans might be drawn to the idea of Sam and Dean hooking up, I just can't jump on board that crazy train. I have no interest in going there. I don't mind if you torture my favorite characters, drag them to and through Hell and back again, break them, separate them, twist them up and wring them out. Just don't go there.