Monthly Archives

June 2010

FaithfulGLEE

**Spoilers: Do not read if you haven’t seen Glee finale**

Photo: FOX

New Directions may not have been good enough to win regionals, but they showed a lot of heart, which is the perfect summary for Glee‘s finale. The episode wasn’t great but gets credit for unabashedly wearing its heart on its sleeve.

This may sound obnoxious but I knew our gang wouldn’t win because they’d have no place to go next season. I wish we’d been able to see Aural Intensity’s performance to 1) determine if they indeed deserved runner-up and 2) the Josh Groban/Olivia Newton-John mash-up sounds awesome!

The Journey medley was spirited—those songs bring back a lot of fond memories for me—but Puck should’ve taken lead male vocals because he’s much stronger than Finn. It’s embarrassing every time Rachel comes in and just blows Finn’s breathy voice out of the water.

Vocal Adrenaline’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” was certainly polished but they should call themselves Dancing Adrenaline with Only One Guy Singing. It was not a good representation of group vocals. I didn’t find the intercutting between the number and Quinn giving birth that clever, either; it felt more manipulative. And I’m not sure how adoption works but doesn’t Ms. Corcoran have to go through some kind of lengthy process where she and her home would have to be checked out to make sure they’re fit for a baby? Can she just say, “I’ll take her” and have the hospital hand over Beth like that? Ms. Corcoran could be a secret heroin addict, for all anyone knows. Can someone enlighten me on this subject?

Highlights for me:

  • Olivia Newton-John playing bitchy and snooty. “Are they a poor person’s school?” she asks, referring to McKinley, and “Brunettes have no place in showbiz” when discussing Rachel. I idolized ONJ as a kid and loved her sweet girl-next-door image so this really amused me.
  • Josh Groban hitting on Sue! I’ve found Groban hilarious since seeing him in the “I’m F*#cking Ben Affleck” video.
  • Quinn’s mom saying she kicked Quinn’s dad out of the house because “he was having an affair with a tattooed freak.” Jesse James got slapped!
  • Mike (Other Asian) and Matt (Shaft) had lines.
  • “To Sir with Love” was touching, since I didn’t expect to see Santana or Brittany crying. They actually care about glee club! Sue’s crying was most surprising of all but I’m not sure I buy that. It kinda came out of nowhere.
  • Mr. Schue singing Iz’s version of “Over the Rainbow” to his kids with Puck on accompaniment, ending the show on a lovely note.

Were you satisfied or disappointed? Did you cry? How do you feel about John Stamos coming on next year to play Emma’s dentist boyfriend, Carl?

Share

Nerd Chat with Author Sophie Littlefield + Giveaway

Last year, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sophie Littlefield when she exploded into the publishing world with her debut novel, A Bad Day for Sorry, featuring her take-no-prisoners heroine, Stella Hardesty, illicit protector of abused women. Since then, Sophie’s been blasting her way through Badass Town, racking up Edgar, Anthony, Macavity and Barry Award nominations faster than you can pump a shotgun, winning the Romantic Times Book Reviews Best First Mystery Award.

Today sees the release of Sorry‘s sequel, A Bad Day for Pretty, and I’m thrilled Sophie has agreed to another chat. Last time, she brought beer and fried chicken for everyone; this year she’s giving away free books! (Details below the interview.)

PCN: How has your life changed since you became a published author last year? Do your kids have rock ‘n’ roll tees with your picture and tour dates on them?

Sophie Littlefield: Oh, PCN, you silly. My kids take pains every day to let me know that to them, I’m still the same old Mom they have always known and loved. They make sure I know I’m welcome to do all the same chores and errands I always did. At 9:45 p.m on a recent school night: “Mom, I need to you to go to CVS and get Wite-Out and those pretzels with the cheesy stuff. I’m kinda waiting for the new South Park to come on so I’ll just stay here.”

I’ve definitely been enjoying getting out and traveling a little more, though I was in Times Square a month ago, trying to hail a cab, when my cell phone rang and it was my son. “Mom? Lacrosse practice ended. Where ARE you?” I suggested he ask his dad, which got me an indignant “But Dad’s working!”

PCN: I suppose you wouldn’t want to respond you were also working on the streets of Times Square.

Sophie (in red) with her publicist Sarah Melnyk (L) and editor Toni Plummer (R)

SL: Ha! No, probably not. There’s been lots of glamour, too. I texted my daughter a snapshot from a dress-up awards banquet and she texted back “wht is goin on w ur boob?”

They’re not really picking up on the whole “Mom’s got a life now” thing, but there have been some sweet moments. Like when my last ARC of PRETTY vanished.  I was searching frantically for it when my son said, “Oh I gave it to this girl at school who had a seizure.” I think what I love most about this story is that he doesn’t even know her very well, but his first thought when he found out she had to go to the hospital for tests was “I know just what will cheer her up—a book about a vengeful housewife!”  (She’s doing fine, by the way.)

PCN: I love that story! What has surprised you the most about your post-publication life?

SL: In all seriousness, it surprised me how right I was about something you and I talked about last year. Remember how I told you I was getting a lot of, erm, unsolicited advice on how to run my career?

PCN: Uh huh. And I instantly disliked the people giving it.

SL: Well, I stuck to my guns and did what I thought was best, keeping my fingers crossed, and in EVERY instance, going with my intuition turned out to be exactly the right thing to do. I’m not saying I have any answers for anyone else, but for me, trusting myself and my few carefully chosen advisors paid off.

PCN: Hooray! There’s a line in Pretty: “The less a woman has to lose, the quicker you better get out of her way.” At what points in your life have people had to get out of your way the quickest?

SL: For a long long time, no one had to get out of my way at all. I’d come upon them blocking my path…and I’d be all “Oh, I’m sorry, I’ll just go around you and try not to make too much noise and can I make you some coffee while I’m here?” even if it meant a detour that cost me time, effort, even pride. I really, really wanted everyone to like me, too, and I allowed their censure or criticism to devastate me.

Then a few things happened. I got sorta middle-aged. Teenagers appeared in my house. A series of reversals required that I earn some actual cash. Suddenly I didn’t have the time or patience to go around making sure everyone was comfortable and happy, that everyone’s feelings were being taken care of, that everyone’s slice of pie was exactly the same fucking size. Oh yeah, deciding my kids were old enough to hear the occasional cuss word might have been a part of it. Uh, that one kind of snowballed.

PCN: Will we ever see a prequel dealing with Stella living with her nightmare husband and leading up to the moment she snapped? I’d like to see how Stella became STELLA.

What happens to household members when they make Sophie mad

SL: Oh, wow! I never thought of that! I would have to wait for a day when I was having a “rage spike,” and just channel it into the story. The only problem is that rather than being a nice “bondage cozy,” it would be more like a Tarantino film, with those scenes where you’re looking around the theater at the other folks wondering if it’s okay that you just laughed or if you’ve just outed yourself as the kind of person who shouldn’t be allowed around children.

PCN: We should go to movies together and laugh at all the wrong stuff! You’ve said Stella is a lot like you. Now that you’re less frustrated with a thriving career, will Stella continue to mellow or will you have to dig deeper for her fury?

SL: It’s kind of funny that everyone—all my pre-pub reviews—seems to agree that Stella is a lot mellower in Book Two. But they also seem to agree that’s a good thing.  One reviewer said that dialing back the action somewhat allows the book to focus more on character development.

I’ve been telling my agent that once I’m raking in the big bucks and am missing that adrenaline surge from wondering when they’ll be turning off the lights, I won’t be able to write any more. Gotta stay lean and agile…

PCN: You’re at least staying busy. Besides Stella, you’ve got a YA novel, Banished, coming out in October and Aftertime, a zombie post-apocalyptic story due in March next year, the first in a three-book deal. It’s being published by Luna, Harlequin’s sci-fi/fantasy imprint, so does that mean we’re gonna see some zombie lovin’?

SL: Ahhh, those zombies! Folks either love ‘em or hate ‘em. I have to say that for me, they are merely an interesting way to introduce drama into a character-driven story.  (e.g. “I love you Maud,” “I love you, too, Gerald-oh-my-god-what-is-that-thing-taking-a-bite-of-your-leg-aaaaahhhhhh!”) In both my young adult and my Luna series, the zombie plot takes a back seat—a very far back seat—to the human drama.

In Banished, it has to do with growing up feeling isolated and alone, and what happens when you reach the brink of adulthood and you have to step up and face your fears while discovering who you really are.

In the Luna books, the post-apocalyptic world, with all of its challenges—yes, including creatures who want to eat you—is just a dramatic backdrop for a story having to do with loss, grief, and reinvention of the self. And there are some really hot ummm…love scenes, NOT with zombies because everyone knows that zombies don’t have sex (S.G. Browne’s wonderful Breathers notwithstanding).

PCN: I didn’t know that! It would’ve been a great excuse when a friend asked me to play a hooker going oral on a zombie in his movie and I really, really didn’t want to (I’m not joking and no, I didn’t do it). What other genre-busting mash-ups would you like to tackle?

Steve Hockensmith & Sophie. Photo: Jen Forbus

SL: Oh, PCN, have I told you about the collaboration I’m doing with Mr. Zombie Boy (aka Steve Hockensmith)? Steve is convinced that swamp creatures are the new black, and I’ve become laser-focused on Malcolm Gladwell’s economic analysis. We’re doing some awesome things with that, kind of a bayou-legend-meets-Tipping Point story with a lot of heart.

Alternatively, I have this insanely good idea for a book that I plan to start writing on January 1 of next year. I just get so excited thinking about it that I can barely get my trembling fingers to type words. It’s something new and different and it’s either brilliant or leaden and unreadable, I can’t decide which.

PCN: I can’t wait to see how these Frankenstein babies turn out. Now, “sorry” and “pretty” have had their bad days. What adjective is next in Stella’s sights and when is that day happening?

SL: The next two Stella books are scheduled for spring 2011 and 2012. The third one’s turned in and the fourth is “in development.” As for titles…PCN, I have this great source who comes up with brilliant title ideas, but she demands secrecy. So let’s leave the cloak of mystery unmolested, except to say that she is a lady of a certain age who may or may not have ties to the Polish mafia.

PCN: I normally enjoy molesting mystery cloaks but for you, I’ll leave it alone for now. Thanks so much for chatting!

For more about Sophie, visit her website. Click on “blog” from her adult section (not THAT kind of adult) and you’ll be directed to the 79 other sites she writes for. Her tour dates are here.

Now for the giveaway. Sophie has graciously offered to give away one paperback copy of Sorry and one hardcover of Pretty. The first name randomly drawn will get Pretty, the second winner will receive Sorry, both books will be signed. If you haven’t read Sophie yet, better jump on the bandwagon now while there might still be room. Otherwise, you’ll have to walk alongside and get kicked by the donkey pulling the wagon.

Rules:

  • be e-mail subscriber or Twitter follower (current subscribers/followers automatically get 2 entries; if you tweet about this, you’ll get 3)
  • leave a comment about a bad day you had that ended up being pretty
  • have U.S./Canada address

Giveaway ends Monday, June 14, 5 p.m. PST. Winners will be randomly chosen via Random.org and announced here and on Twitter. Winners will have 48 hours to claim the prize before alternate names are chosen.

Let’s get some pretty in here!

Share

MTV Movie Awards 2010: One Long WTF Moment

The MTV Movie Awards have a category called Best WTF Moment but I thought most of the show could be labeled thusly, minus the “best.” Why did Olympic gold medalist Shaun White present a trophy dressed like Crocodile Dundee? Why was he there at all? Who told Christina Aguilera to place a glowing heart on her vagina?

Cruise as Grossman

Tom Cruise opened the show as the bald, profane Les Grossman character from Tropic Thunder. I didn’t like his performance in the movie and I didn’t like it here. The problem: Cruise doesn’t know how to truly transform himself into a character. When Meryl Streep or Dustin Hoffman takes on a character vastly different from themselves—heck, let’s just take Eddie Murphy in the Nutty Professor movies or Robert Downey Jr. in Thunder. These actors know it’s not enough just to slap on a fat suit, wig or bald cap. They change their voice. Cruise sounds exactly the same no matter what character he plays, making me think, “Oh, that’s just Tom Cruise cussing in a fat suit.” And that gets old real fast.

The highlight was no doubt Sandra Bullock’s appearance to accept the Generation Award, presented to her by Betty White, Bradley Cooper and…Scarlett Johansson? Johansson’s role in the presentation was unclear at first since she had nothing to say, but then she ended up in a quick liplock with Bullock to make up for Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, Johansson’s husband, not winning the Best Kiss award.

But that’s not the highlight, at least not for me. Bullock, looking smashing in a short black dress cut low in back (White told her never to wear it backwards), continues her class act with a humorous speech showing what a good sport she is, retaining her grace and charm amidst the sordidness she was rudely thrown into, finally deflecting attention away from herself to ask for prayers for people being affected by the oil spill in the Gulf. You can see her speech in the video below.

Ken Jeong won for Best WTF Moment in The Hangover and though I’m not a fan (he grossly overacts in everything), he surprised me with a touching tribute to his wife, who has beaten cancer.

Host Aziz Ansari had a few funny moments, though not as many as I would’ve liked. Best bits: his spoof of Precious, complete with headband and chicken stealing, and playing a “swagga coach” named Taavon training an uncool Zach Galifianakis. (Taavon: “I only sit on things that are purple.”)

Winners:

Best Female Performance—Kristen Stewart (New Moon)

Best Breakout Star—Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air)

Best Scared-as-Sh*! Performance—Amanda Seyfried (Jennifer’s Body)

Best Kiss—Stewart and Robert Pattinson (New Moon)

Best WTF Moment—Ken Jeong (The Hangover)

Best Villain—Tom Felton (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince)

Biggest Badass Star—Rain

Best Male Performance—Robert Pattinson

Best Comedic Performance—Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover)

Best MovieNew Moon

Best FightBeyoncé and Ali Larter (Obsessed), though this award wasn’t televised

Did you see the show? What did you think? Favorite moments? Weirdest?

Photos by Picture Group

Share

How to (Cr)Eat(e) Fried (Book)Worms

A friend of mine recently bemoaned her kids’ resistance to reading despite her repeated attempts at instilling an interest. This conversation made me think about how I first got hooked.

Among my earliest memories are those of my family sitting together in the same room reading: my father with his newspaper, my mother grading essays for her job as a high school literary teacher, my older sister and brother poring over their school textbooks. They all looked so important and smart. I was about 4, not yet in school or literate, insanely jealous that everyone else could read, desperate to join the party.

I’d take blank sheets of paper and draw squiggly lines on them to represent lines of print in a book if you’re looking at it from far away. I’d sit on the couch with my papers and pretend to read my gibberish, even flipping the pages every now and then. My mother laughed when she finally caught on to what I was doing.

Shortly thereafter I started school, learned how to read and there was no turning back. The first books I remember reading were Hergé’s Tintin adventures about the boy reporter and his globetrotting crime solving. Those books opened up my mind, made me want to grow up to be a reporter and travel the world (weirdly enough, I managed to accomplish both; the travel is ongoing). I then moved on to Nancy Drew in third grade, Encyclopedia Brown in fifth and Sherlock Holmes in the summer between sixth and seventh grade.

The pattern here is obvious: I enjoy problem solving. I love having my mind engaged by mysteries, using logical deduction to arrive at the solution, hopefully before the author reveals it. Every time this happens, there’s a sense of satisfaction and confidence that maybe I can resolve most things in my life if armed with information and perseverance. The next time I put together an Ikea storage unit, I WILL figure it out. I solve fictional murders, dammit! I will not be cowed by a Swedish hutch!

But back to my friend and her problem with her non-reading kids. Based on my own experience, I could only suggest she designate reading time in her home every day, starting with maybe 15-20 minutes. That’s what worked for me but of course this was about 100 years before video games, iPods and texting.

So, I thought I’d ask you: What made you want to read? Why do you read what you read? Any other Tintin fans out there?

Share

My Top 10 Movies That Should Never be Remade

When I read last week about how the long-delayed Logan’s Run remake might move forward yet again, I didn’t really care one way or the other. It was a marginal ’70s movie that I only have dim memories of so I have nothing against someone wanting to try and improve on it (because remakes are ALWAYS improvements on the original, right?).

But then I started thinking about the movies for which I’d march on Washington against their being remade (OK, maybe I’d just boo loudly from my couch) because it’d be all kinds of wrongness. Here are my top 10, in no particular order:

  1. The Godfather. Marlon Brando made talking with cotton balls in his mouth seem intimidating; anyone else would come off ridiculous.
  2. Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I’d put anything with Audrey Hepburn on this list since no one can ever step into her shoes (or black sheath dress, in this case), but since it’s too late for Roman Holiday—the 1987 TV remake with Catherine Oxenberg was atrocious—I’ll go with Tiffany’s. Also, though there are many different versions of “Moon River,” none is more heart-tugging than Hepburn’s in the movie.
  3. The Crying Game. If you already know the bulk, er, twist in the story, what’s the point of doing another version? It’d also be really difficult to find someone else like Jaye Davidson to play Dil so convincingly.
  4. The Matrix. It was mind-blowing when we first saw it. After all the copycats since, bullet time won’t look that impressive again.
  5. His Girl Friday. I can’t think of any actress today who can talk as fast as Rosalind Russell, or tackle a man as effectively while wearing a pencil skirt and high heels.
  6. Love Actually. Many storylines, characters, and actors converged serendipitously to make this perfect movie. Trying to juggle that many balls again with a different cast would be pushing their luck.
  7. Waiting for Guffman. Everyone in that cast is a master at improv. It’s hard to imagine another group of actors who can match that level of comic brilliance.
  8. Raiders of the Lost Ark. There ain’t nuthin’ wrong with it so hands off!
  9. Love Story. You’re probably thinking “whaaaat?” but I have a soft spot for this. It’s one of the first movies I ever saw in a theater (I was 4 or 5) and I cried my little buns off. The leads are so pretty, the story so romantic and tragic. But Ollie or Jen wouldn’t get away with “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” today without audiences laughing at them.
  10. Star Wars. Do I have to explain this one?

What would you hate to see remade?

Share

Winners of Brett Battles’s SHADOW OF BETRAYAL

Congrats to Jen Forbus and Elizabeth! You’ll each get a paperback copy of Shadow of Betrayal, the third adventure in the Jonathan Quinn series. Hit the contact form above with your addy and I’ll forward to Brett, who will personalize the books for you. (Jen, please specify if you’d like flowers next to your name and Elizabeth, if you’d like sketches of monkeys.)

Thanks to all who entered and shared your dirty stories!

Share