Thursday, January 31, 2008

Grumpy Dogs, Pervy Middle Aged Women and Cute Guy Thursday

I have kind of an interesting new job- I do temp work (which leaves me more time for motherhood, wifehood, and writerhood) for several companies that pay me to shop. There are also a couple that pay me to audit; for example, to go to a site and take photos of a business so the investment companies that own them can see the condition of the building, make sure they have fire extinguishers, etc. I had a DOOZY the other day.
I had to take pictures of a hat place. Cowboy hats, in particular. Now, I am a hick. I was raised redneck. I currently reside in Oklahoma, but it is amazing how little of the cowboy hat-wearing, sh*t kicking boot-stomping, Reba MacIntire unintelligible drawl I run into. It is absolutely another world.
I went into this little hattery, took photos of the sales floor and exit signs, then asked to go into the back room. A very nice lady told me, "There's a dog back there. He may nip at your pants leg; just walk like you know what you're doing." I went in and heard a growl. I looked down, and there's a fat furry sausage as high as my knee. And yes, he nipped at my pants leg. Several people are calling, "Tuffy! Sit down! Tuffy! Get back!" which had no effect whatsoever. This dog followed me around the entire time, his nose buried in my pants, growling and taking the occasional nibble. His owners kept admonishing him, as Tuffy proceded to do whatever the heck Tuffy wanted to do.
To be fair, he didn't bite me; I am used to dogs of all kinds and I wasn't scared. But I think next time I'll ask for danger pay.

I usually don't go for young pretty boy actors; grizzled older men are more my speed. Mooning over twentysomethings makes me feel pervy. In this case, though, I'll make an exception. From All My Children, Aiden Turner.

Now he can definitely take a bite.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Details, Details

Do you like them?

I have to admit, I don't. Not really. Yes, I want to read about the rolling hills or dirty streets, and I don't want to have to decide for myself if the house is big and filled with expensive paintings or little and filled with junk. Although if an author tells me about every single trinket, I'll cross it out with a magic marker. Get to the action already! But I'm not really talking about that.

I'm talking about the big 'ol squickfest I've gotten lately from stories that love to feature cruel, sadistic villains. Don't get me wrong, I love a good villain, even a psychopathic one. But I fear the CSI/NCIS world we now inhabit loves gruesome, gory details.

Mysteries need details. Sherlock Holmes' very existence hinged on them; and details woven into the narrative can be fun when I read the end of the book, where the detective brings them all together in the room filled with the usual suspects. I'll either feel like a brainiac or a dolt, depending on whether or not I spotted the clues, but I'll agree they are needed.

What bothers me is this: do I really need to know exactly how badly the body is mangled? Each and every cut, burn, and slice on a torture victim? While the victim is being tortured, so I can visualize it, real-time?

I know that sometimes a horrific scene can be powerful; used sparingly I can handle that. Even though I hated Jamie's rape in Gabaldon's Outlander, I could appreciate how well it was written. But it seems lately when I pick up everything from a historical to an urban fantasy to a suspense, and I'm talking romances y'all, I am treated to long descriptive passages about the gross, graphic things that can happen to human body. It could be a serial killer, a sexual pervert, a demon on a rampage, or a vengeful vampire queen; doesn't seem to matter. I need a bottle of TUMS by my side during the read, and a shower afterwards.

There's an old saying that less is more. I personally think it's more terrifying when the author leaves a little to my imagination. The writer doesn't know what scares me, but I do. If I get to fill in the blank and scare the crap out of myself, I'll call that author the best writer ever.

And if I wind up needing the TUMS anyway? That's my fault, not yours.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Heave-and-Throb Tutorials

Oh, come on. You knew I'd get back to this eventually.

Blaze Wyndham

The guy in the back is thinking, "Mmm. Good placement, but she'll get uncomfortable if you keep holding her by her ribcage. Kills the mood. Set her down, that's right. Don't worry about the dress- even corsets melt away magically in these scenes. No grass stains, either. Nice use of hair product; no wind on earth could move that do of yours. But I simply must ask you, old boy- where exactly are your legs?"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Please Tell Me...

...that she didn't do this on purpose.

Fashion is a mystery, ain't it?

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Bad Weekend Calls for Cute Guy Monday

I need something to make me feel better, y'all. I'm not feeling terribly charitable with the human race right now.

I'm probably depressed because I went to a funeral on Saturday. In point of fact, sang at the funeral Saturday. And worked like a dog (with hubs and kids) the previous Wednesday to get tables and chairs and stuff set up at the church for the luncheon that would be served after the funeral. (Question- why do we always have to have the big food thing after a funeral? I'd rather go home, put on my jammies and a good movie, and order a pizza, cold unfeeling witch that I am.)

The person who died was a member of our church, a beautiful 14 year old girl. Jamie was a fabulous kid; she was on her bike when she was hit by a car. She technically died at the scene, but was kept alive on machines for a few days before her parents decided to let her go. The service for her was INSANE. There had to have been 300 people there. Every kid from her school was there, all deciding to wander around the funeal home sanctuary finding friends they must. go. hug. right. now. The people on the platform tried to conduct the service, which was hampered by both parents needing to step out for a quick smoke, a couple of family members with coffee cups in which to spit the juice from the huge wads of chewing tobacco wedged in their cheeks, and random friends who crossed right in front of the casket because they just had to say a word to the family, who were trying to listen to the eulogy. Some semblance of order came when I sang; I think it's just because music gets your attention. I am also a loudmouth, which helps.

I worked harder at the luncheon than I ever have in restaurants. So did our 4 elderly ladies who cooked all morning; we are a small church, with a small kitchen, and we fed around 90 people. They were very grateful, but GEEZ. They piled their plates, taking so much the first trip that we had to cut them off at two scoops of potatoes please, and let their kids run all over the church depositing all manner of trash in every room. Of course the church is there for people; serving is what we do, but good grief. Were they all born in a barn?

I'd do it again, though. Jamie's father got us all together afterward to thank us. He's not a rich man by any standard, and had no idea how he would provide a service or burial for Jamie. Fortunately, the church was able to put him in touch with people who would help, and of course we provided the luncheon. He is a man of few words; one who was raised with the 'men don't cry' machismo like most men his age. He stood in front of us and said, "None of this would have happened without you. I didn't know how I could do anything for Jamie, but thanks to you my baby was buried like a princess."

And, yeah. Made everything totally worth it.

Jamie would have absolutely approved of how I cheer myself up after just about anything life slams me with- looking at cute guys with unpronounceable names. From E.R. and Elektra, Goran Visnjic.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Okay, I'll Say It...Awwwww

I just read the cutest book, y'all. A Harlequin Super Romance, A Perfect Stranger, by Terry McLaughlin. I shouldn't have liked it.

First off, the heroine, Sydney, is a teacher who is chaperoning a group of high-schoolers on a European trip. Herding teenagers through museums is SO romantic, don't you think? The hero, Nick, has come along with a different set of kids, helping his teacher brother. He writes pulpy detective stories, and knows his way around France.

McLaughlin handles the requisite kid scenes pretty well, the teens alternately excited and bored and getting caught trying to sneak out at night. The other adults shove Nick and Sydney out for dates, bravely minding the children by themselves. That kind of convenience has always bugged me a little bit; but it's worse when a heroine Mother of the Century suddenly leaves her kid with a neighbor for tea and crumpets with a guy she isn't even sure she likes.


Plus, Sydney is sort of engaged to a nice guy back home. He isn't a jerk, he's not a stiff, he's just...wrong. He has his own fling with a girl from the wrong side of the tracks while Sydney's in Europe, and that sort of thing usually turns me off completely. I'm into monogomy. But this wrong-track girl is really cute and sweet can probably see where this is going.

And finally, the trip is set exclusively in Paris. I know Paris is supposed to be the most romantic city in the world, and it may be. I've never had the opportunity to go. But the lands that capture my imagination tend to be of the Scottish Highland variety- Paris has never made my heart go pitty-pat. With all these nit-picky things, I shouldn't have liked this book, right?

Except for stuff like this: "And yet, she'd wanted this- this memory, this moment in Montmartre. She'd wanted to blend with the lovers surrounding them on the steps of Sacre-Coeur, to step into this impressionist canvas of Paris on a summer evening, to be part of the beauty and the romance. A kiss from a handsome, mysterious man would make it all perfect. Perfect. His lips brushed softly, so softly against hers, once, twice, seeking permission for more, and then she floated into the scene and pressed against him, sliding into his arms, sinking into this fantasy of a romance, kissing a rogue from a storybook, taking her chance at a perfect moment to treasure forever. "

The most cynical, jaded beyotch in the world would swoon at that. McLaughlin has several moments like that in the book, and I appreciated that she might not have all the details I'd like, but she knew what made me tick. This guy is absolutely right-

The chicks LOVE that romantic crap.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Look What Came In My Mailbox

I am an absolute addict when it comes to signing up for free stuff. It could be a slugfarm complete with all the tunnels and little slug outbuildings- if it was free, I'd sign up for it. I always get in trouble, though, when I get the next month's slug addition for the low price of $14.99 because I forgot to cancel before the deadline.

It happened again. No pests this time, but I signed up for two free guilty pleasure books, did not cancel on time, and just got my first month's subscription.

Harlequin Presents.

I love these awful things. So overwrought and dramatic and filled with alpha caveman heroes that are just this side of jerk. Check out this month's titles:

Bedded For The Italian's Pleasure
The Sheikh's Convenient Virgin
From Waif To His Wife
Taken By Her Greek Boss
The Spaniard's Pregnancy Proposal
The Italian Billionaire's Pregnant Bride (part of a series! The Rich, The Ruthless, and the Really Handsome. I'm not making that up.)

Several of these feature a maid or secretary or other practically penniless woman who becomes the object of desire for an impossibly rich European or Middle Eastern prince who ruthlessly hunts her. She'll inevitably get pregnant, then decide to run away because he:
A. Doesn't love her
B. Doesn't want to get married
C. Thinks she's a golddigger

Which would totally happen. I would absolutely choose to have and raise my baby in abject poverty when every single thing my child could ever need is a DNA test away. Of course, he'll ruthlessly track her down, ruthlessly order their marriage, and then turn into The Most Bestest Husband and Daddy Ever.

Why do I love these things? I guess there's a certain escapist quality; when I've just spent an hour juggling bills and called around trying to find time and money for hubs and I to maybe, just maybe, spend a weekend away together and make quality time for the teens etc., etc., the thought of a rich, ruthless, really handsome Italian billionaire in hot pursuit is very satisfying. I once had a Greek boss that got handsy, but he was old, short, fat, and had hair coming out his ears. This Greek is "...dangerously good-looking, with a strong, harshly sensual face and black, black hair to match the long black lashes and brooding eyes."

On second thought, I may just keep the subscription.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Why Can't Kids Just Have Fun?

The kids and I watched one of my favorite movies the other night- A Hard Day's Night, with the Beatles.

I love this movie. And may I say how grateful I am that my teens will let me introduce them to an actual black and white movie and not look at me like I'm a poo flinging circus monkey trying to get them to join in.

They loved it too, and I'm glad there is such a fun account of my favorite version of the band. They still put out some fine music in the later years, but they were hairy and weird and looked as if they might smell like an old pepperoni pizza. I know that the early Beatles were on drugs, too, but it didn't show. They were just cute and sang good pop songs. Later on, they just got strange.

Much like Britney Spears. She's turned from a point-n-laugh to point-n-cry. I'm starting to really feel sorry for that girl. Not to the point of recording Leave Britney Alooooone videos on YouTube, but her family life is a tragedy. Those little boys are going to need serious therapy.

I think of other examples- and unfortunately, there are plenty- of young stars faced with unrelenting pressure, bucketloads of money, and practically no accountability. Is it any wonder that they implode? I'm not one to blame parents for everything, but in some situations, I have to say Mom and Dad failed miserably. Stage parents make me burn. You're not a manager, you're Mom. You're not a director, you're Dad. You're not a promoter, you're a protector.

And it's not just in L.A. or New York. In our little town in Oklahoma, my daughter came home shell-shocked from her first audition for a high school musical. She said it was like being interrogated by terrorists. There were certain stars of the show that really did an awesome job, but I knew they had been in training since they were zygotes. We went into a flurry of "Should we get her into dance classes? Private vocal and acting coaches?" And then I realized that if she wants to take classes for fun, fine. I myself went to college on a theater scholarship, and had a ball. But I want her to have a good time before she has to worry about agents and exposure and missing out on her teen years because she simply had to nail that audition to be happy girl #4 in that sno-cone commercial.

Whatever she winds up doing, I'll support her and help her all I can. Including telling her NO when the occasion merits. Until she makes those decisions about her life, we'll have fun in the car going to the mall, singing She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah at the top of our lungs.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Every New Year Deserves Blondes

I'm Baaaack.
I couldn't stay away from blogging for very long- it's like crack with a keyboard. For those who may remember my former blog, Snarkling Clean, this one probably won't be very different because the only reason for me to blog is so I can gripe and talk about books and write run-on sentences about nothing and then reward you for your hard work by posting pictures of random cute guys.
So I don't intrude on your goodwill any further, let's get right to the important stuff: BLONDES. Which is not normal for me; I tend to like heroes dark. But every once in awhile, I'll come across one that will make my Adolescent Crushes on Actors Gene stand up and sing hallelujah. To wit:

Remember this guy? Rutger Hauer in Ladyhawke. He usually plays villains, but he was such a great hero here. I'll never forget the scene where he was turning back into a man from his wolf form, and his cursed lover Michelle Pfeiffer was turning into the hawk- they caught just a glimpse of each other as humans. His howl of rage and frustration made me cry.

Here's another blonde that usually does a star turn as a bad guy, but I first saw Sean Bean as hero Captain Sharpe of Sharpe's Rifles. I also personally think Boromir of Lord of the Rings was a hero; he was just tempted for a little while.

He's more gray than blonde now, and that famous mullet is gone, but I still adore Richard Dean Anderson. MacGyver has always been one of my favorite heroes- who else could rescue the girl and save the world with tube socks, duct tape, and a Swiss Army Knife?

Viggo Mortensen. I don't really need to say anything else, do I?

At first, I was kind of hacked off. A blond James Bond? No way. No freaking way.
But, for some reason, Daniel Craig kind of grew on me. Go figure.
More random rambling and romance reviews and cute guys to come. I missed you!