myspace layouts, myspace codes, glitter graphics Totally Biased Book and Movie Review: 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Dooce and Discussing Dooce Blog(s) Review(s)

Blog review-
Dooce (mommy blog supreme)
Discussing Dooce (hates above mentioned blog and writes freely about it)

Ok, so not everyone likes a Mommy blog. I have made fun of some of them myself, in my former post about Blog Review Sunday. However, there is a certain level that a tiny fraction of mommy blogs reach- that many probably aspire to when they begin the blog, sadly, doomed to fail- You could call this "Doocedom", I guess, in honor of the blogging phenomenon known as Dooce (otherwise known as Heather Armstrong).
Dooce is perhaps The mommyblog of all mommyblogs. Her star had risen to amazing heights. She has legions of fans, devoted to reading every pearl of wisdom (or nonsense) that she pours out on her site. I haven't read it for long, myself, but from archives and other sources, I can tell you that Dooce has blogged for years, since she was single and looking for love in all the wrong places, through her subsequent meeting and marrying of Jon Armstrong, through her pregnancy and the birth of Leta, their daughter, the horrendous post partum depression she suffered from, and now she continues to blog almost daily about their lives with the toddler. She blogs about everything. She has no reservations in describing a bowel movement, what they ate for dinner, how Jon's shoes got cleaned, or the fact that she recently had a cancerous skin growth removed from her arm and it really frickin freaked her out. She posts pictures freely, without reservation, sharing her face, her husband's face, her daughter's, their dog's. She is highly intelligent, extremely funny, and possessed of the kind of wickedly irreverent sarcasm that I personally find beautiful. There are a lot of people out there who agree with me.
However, as the next blog will prove, not everyone thinks so. Discussing Dooce is a relatively new blog, but the writer, though anonymous, is also obviously female, highly intelligent, extremely funny and possessed of that same sense of sarcasm. In this case, however, she aims that deadly sarcasm straight at Dooce. The tagline of her blog is "Who knew you could make a living writing about shit?" and that pretty much spells it out for ya. She thinks Dooce is earning a living writing about shit. And she may be right.
When talk in the blogging world (or at least the slice of blogger world that deals with mommy blogs) first started about Discussing Dooce, there was a bit of a scene. All over the internet, women were outraged. Screaming for blood. Furious that someone would attack their beloved blogging icon and darling, Dooce. One of my personal favorite Mommy Bloggers, Karen, was really upset. And that upset me, because I am a fan of Karen's the way she is obviously a fan of Dooce's.
And yet, judging from the comments on Discussing Dooce, the woman who writes there obviously has some fans of her own. Not everyone enjoys Dooce. In fact some people find her sickening, and greedy, and cruel. Most comments are left anonymously due to fear of reprisal, which tells me that these commenters are the same women who belong to the Mommy Blog world under a recognizable name and they don't want to admit that they hate Dooce as much as crabbyolchick(the writer of the blog) does. She, and they, claim on D.D. (Discussing Dooce) that Heather is awful to write such horrible things about Leta (things such as, she walks like Frankenstein and was given an enema on her 2nd birthday) and that her child will surely be scarred forever when she grows up and finds out all of these intimate details of her life have been broadcast to the universe, via blog. They say that her husband is a lazy pig living off her website (Because Jon recently left his job to be a full-time Dad, since Dooce's website is now selling ads and apparently making enough money to support their family healthily). They claim that she is cold, and distant from her fans (because she doesn't answer comments or email), that she is a rapacious, rapacious pig living off the fat of her fans, that she even has paypal buttons on her site so people can donate to her bank account. They deride her trolling for blog hits and sympathy by talking about the (admittedly) small cancerous thingy on her arm. Recently, D.D. has been ridiculing and ranting about BlogHer, the convention currently going on for women bloggers, which is of course, only going to be attended by a select few (one of whom is MY Karen, by the way) that can afford to buy tickets and hotel rooms and time away from home and children. Such women, Dooce included, are scorned for leaving their kids and wasting their money on such a frivolous, stupid thing.
The nay-sayers have their point. I can see their viewpoint, is what I mean to say.
Perhaps Heather is earning a living writing shit, but so what? This is America, land of the free, right? If she can be smart enough to build a blog-following that supports her family- to me the woman is a friggin genius, and anything said otherwise is a case of Xtreme Sour Grapes. The fact that her husband was able to quit work because the site is so successful is splendid- to me. Why should he continue to work at a job he doesn't want to work at when he doesn't have to? Because the angry anti-fans have to work at jobs they don't want to work at because their blogs don't support them? That's just silly, girls. Now, I know no one ever told you life is fair.
Besides, her writing is good. She's funny as hell, but I know, better than most, that sometimes humor can be taken in the wrong way, offenses can built in an eyeblink, and rage sprouts easily from a careless phrase planted in the wrong ear (or eye, in this case).
As far as the cancer is concerned, if Heather were a small-time blog, like this one, with a handful of readers, no one would have thought of criticizing the manner in which she discussed her cancer-removal. It's her blog, after all, and anyone who has read it for any length of time should know that she deals with everything using the same brand of dry wit, and why they would expect her to not mention the cancer (again, on her blog) is a mystery to moi. (Hey, be modest. Don't talk about your cancer. That's not polite.) It's HER BLOG, knock knock knock. As for seeking hits, c'mon now, peeps. Dooce does not need to LOOK for blog hits. She has quite enough on her own, without inventing a sympathy ploy to spread her rep on the web. Her rep, folks, is made. DONE. She doesn't need to look for more readers. She already has them.
She doesn't talk back to the fans, true enough. However, considering the sheer numbers of emails and comments she must receive every second, I can see how she wouldn't have time to do it. I think if Karen ends up being as widely-read as Dooce (and it could happen, she is way funnier) she will still take the time to interact with us little people. Personally? No matter how famous I'd become, I hope I would still have time to talk to the readers that made me that way, but I'm not Dooce's fan, and if Dooce's fans aren't complaining, then why should the Non-fans of Dooce be complaining?
And the BlogHer Convention? Well, the nickering about BlogHer makes me think of the smart girls whispering viciously under cover of darkness how much they hate the cheerleaders. Yeah, the cheerleaders have all the breaks. That's the truth. Again, life is NOT fair. Yeah, it'd be really neat to go to things like that, to be popular like that, to have fun like that, to be able to afford life like that. Hey, to get away from the kids for a WHOLE weekend would be a trip to Heaven for a lot of us. But it's not their fault we can't have that. The key, my sistahs, is to want exactly what you have and stop looking at the cheerleaders as the enemy. The enemy, your rage and unhappiness and ITSNOTFAIR, is in you, not them. (NOTE: Although I might look like one of the cheerleaders, you'd be really wrong, as readers of my personal blog could probably assure you.) You might even discover, if you let it go, that even if you will never be one of them, you can really like the cheerleaders. Some of them are great people. One rotten apple and all of that blah-dee-blah.
If you take the time to read Dooce's site, with a sense of humor and without a glint of vengeance in your eye, you might discover what I did- that they love their daughter, absolutely adore her, and are just a little more honest about the frustrations each of us face as a parent daily. Embarrassing shit happens to them. Bad things crop up. The dog licks their plates. They load the dishwasher with strange things. They do silly things and she isn't afraid to laugh at herself, or her family, and she invites her readers in on the joke. To me, that's a pretty fricking cool chick, cheerleader or not.
Does Dooce have a paypal button on her website? Yes, yes she does, and to that, all I can say is, I said I can see their point.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

" America's Got Talent " TV review

America's Got Talent
Wednesday and Thursday night, NBC
Hosted by Regis Philbin
Produced by Simon Cowell

I seldom watch these kind of shows. I am a recovered American Idol fan... the spell wasn't broken until after I'd already seen Kelly and Clay in concert... but even after Season 2, I was becoming unhappy with the show. I mean, come on, Reuben Studdard shouldn't have won that. Where is he NOW, I ask? I began to suspect that maybe the most talented singer wasn't going to win after all by Season 3 when Latoya got booted. I turned away for an entire season and so I have no feelings about the winner of that season, some blonde lovely who sings about Jesus or something with a country twist. Last season, I admit, I was sucked back in when I happened to stumble across the try-outs (THOSE are funny). I had Chris pegged as Da man from the get-go. When he was voted off, well, that was that. I shall not watch it again.
But that brings me to the subject of this review... America's Got Talent. The reason I felt obliged to mention AI (American Idol) above is because this show, AGT, has Simon Cowell written all over it too. The guy simply knows when a pony's gonna win the race, that's all there is to it. He has replaced Paula with Brandy, Randy with Michael Knight... Uh, I mean David Hasslehoff (and for good chucks, you should look at his new "video") and himself with a cranky Piers Morgan, who is a just a slightly nicer version of Simon himself. This is a mix-n-match show, searching for variety and novelty acts according to the website, with singers, dancers, jugglers, even weird painted people dancing around on stilts decorated with what suspiciously appeared to be tinfoil. I am so glad I wasn't high when I watched that part! The show is
hosted by Regis Philbin..yes, Regis (who said, during the broadcast, "Is that your final answer" and no one appeared to notice- I could NOT believe that!) and he seems to have taken over George Hamilton's title as "Tannest man in the US". The dude looks like an oompa-loompa, he is so orange.
So basically, you have American Idol in a slightly differing setting. I watched last night because 1. I was too lazy to get up and find the remote and 2. I was too lazy to make a member of my family find the remote for me.
The first few acts were exactly what I expected- mediocre talent, hopping around on stage for a couple of minutes before mugging for the camera and telling the audience to "Pleeeze vote for me!" I admit I was amused to see...
1. Number one of the groups was a gymnastic basketball team (wrap your mind around that one) called Team Acrodunk. But. Nothing that the kids from my neighborhood couldn't do if they spent a week learning choreographed moves, really.
2. Then second, a so-so singer, Caitlyn, I believe, unusual only because she was young, who really can't seem to sing, in my honest opinion.
3. She was followed by Sonia, a hot pink violin-playing madwoman who apparently thinks she was born to ROCK with that bad ass V of hers! I was fascinated by the broken strings dancing around her head and she whammed the hell out of the instrument, making a screeching, painful noise that apparently some people think is special. I have to agree with Piers when he says, nails... chalkboard, take two.
4. Fourth was nerdy-looking Elliot, who has an act all wrapped around doing magic...with birds. It didn't excite me, I have to admit, although I am always willing to watch some poor dork choke a chicken on national TV. But his chicken wasn't that impressive.
5. Number five on the show...Ten13Concept is...God, what the hell is it? A boy band, that's what it is. A BOY band. And not even a good one. Just because you have hair that flaps in your eyes and you can get an excitable audience to emulate your clapping hands does not mean you have any talent whatsoever. End of subject.
6. Ok, here's where the story might get a little shaky to anyone who was not there. I was ready to turn out the lights, roll over and drink another six pack, anything rather than sit through another boy band or magic birdman, when act six came on. Rappin' Granny. I can see you asking, Is this some sick joke? I thought it might be too. Let me tell you, I was stacking the jeers on top of each other in my mind, prepared to launch them from my mouth the second I saw her. My eyes were prepared to roll. A little old lady in a long red dress came out on stage and... well, I'm embarrassed to say it, but people, she rapped. And she rapped well. I realize that I'm just a Northeastern white girl who probably doesn't "know" good rap when she hears it, but this woman was decent. In fact, she was more than decent, she was totally friggin awesome in Northeastern white girl language, and I could not help the gigantic shit-eating grin that I felt crossing my face as she prompted the audience to "KNEEL" (to the granny). I really, really LOVED that shit. I'm sorry, I know you don't believe me. But watch it tonight, and tell me I'm wrong.
7. So my expectations were higher after Rappin' Granny left the stage and I was not disappointed with Act Seven, a magician named Nathan who blew me, and the audience, and the judges, away with his totally funkalicious trick that had women A. Putting him through a mechanism that turned him in to a poster B. rolling up the poster and stuffing it in a cannon, C. Shooting the cannon into the audience, in a shower of glittery confetti and strings, where ... D. Nathan appeared and HOW DID HE DO THAT???- well, I don't really want to know the secret, that takes away all the fun, but I did like his act. I tell you, I'd buy that for a dollar.
8. Number Eight was Miss Precocious, no, really her name was Bianca, an eleven year old who apparently channels Janis Joplin with very little trouble. I thought it was funny that, as she said, last week she was told to change her look and her song choice, and when she did so this week, she was chastised for mixing it up and told to go back to her old ways. Any 11 year old could be forgiven for getting a little pissy at that kind of treatment, so I was very impressed at how well she took the and said she do just as they said... This week, not last week....
9. And I come to Number Nine, my real reason for reviewing this show. The reason? I want to know WHY. Why is this juggler, Kenny, on this show? Before his act, there were film clips of him dropping things left and right. A big production was made out of bringing out the Fire Department before he began, and he said on camera that he feared lighting the audience, or the judges, on fire. So I'm expecting something risky, crazy, maybe a little dangerous. Instead I watched a guy...well, juggle. He put on fire-proof gloves, then juggled three flaming balls, three flaming bars, and three flaming bars with branches. Three of each. End of act. I kept thinking I hit the snooze button in my brain, but nope, that's all there was to it. The same juggling I expect to see at any traveling circus that passes through town and gives out free tickets to children at the grocery store checkout stands. Now here's the bewildering part. After each act, the judges get to either "CHECK" the act, in effect approving them, or "X" the act, giving a big ol' raspberry. All three of these judges, while professing that they were certainly surprised he hadn't dropped anything or lit anything on fire, gave him a check. HUH? What? WHY is this guy on here and why did he get three checks? I smell a setup. My theory is that Kenny's uncle is a executive producer of the show and the judges were warned to put him through.... or else. There can be no other logical explanation. Hey, no, I'm not saying I can juggle. But a LOT of people can, and this guy was just no better than anyone else I've seen juggle three items at once. At the aforementioned circus, I saw a guy juggle five flaming swords and all he got was a handful of applause, and a handful of cotton candy thrown at him by one of his younger fans.
10. Ten was the act I admit I was waiting to see. Trey Night's Stilt World. Streamers of torn clothing, stilts, painted faces, dancing, and one cute little blonde waving around flaming balls...and no, she had nothing to do with Kenny, I don't think, although her performance was at least as interesting as his. Set to funky music, these guys prance around on their stilts, doing all kinds of weird steps and high kicks and... whoops, one of them fell down. And I mean she CRASHED and burned. As The Hoff mentioned later, she did recover quickly, but the fact that she fell at all, Piers says ominously, "in the semi finals of a show like this" (and I'm wondering, like what? Her crash was better than Kenny's juggling) disqualifies them as being the part of America that's GOT talent, in the judges' eyes. Stilt World got two X's. I have to say I felt really bad for the fall-er, you could see on her face that she knew she had let all of them down, failure was all on her shoulders, it was all her fault ...and she was bumming, man. Still, the act was at least interesting, which is more than I can say for, yes, you guessed correctly, I was going to say KENNY, the non-amazing juggler un-extraordinaire.

So those are the ten choices to vote for, and as the phoning-in viewer is warned, only your first ten votes count. Hmmm... only ten votes count on a show judging...ten acts. But I'm not going to waste time trying to figure it out. I used my ten votes for Granny and Nathan the magician and I just can't wait to see who wins in the end.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Judgment Day by Jane Jensen

Judgment Day

Jane Jensen

published by Del Ray in 1999

498 pages

Kay, so I like end of the world books. The apocalypse. The Big Illness that wipes out the planet's population. The Final War. I have even read a book or two about ... a big meteor hitting earth, a tidal wave killing everyone, a giant earthquake rendering our country in two. If they write it about The End, I will read it.
And I'll probably like it, too.
Even the least-likely scenarios can capture my imagination. Even the poorest written pages can make me think, oooohhh, this could SO happen.
Such was my reaction to "Judgment Day" (formerly published as "millennium Rising"), by Jane Jensen. This one, however, had a new little twist. Let me set it up for you. The apocalypse is here. Anyone who knows squat about prophecies and revelation knows that these are THE signs happening- sores and seas turning red, animals dying, a plague that kills millions. Here it comes, folks, hold onto your rapture flags because Jesus is entering the atmosphere!!!!
Except, maybe He isn't.
The main character of this book is a very disillusioned (read: He of little faith) Catholic priest, who has been investigating the signs since they began. Father Deauchez and his soon-to-be-goody buddy, NY Times reporter, Hill, are the only people, apparently, on the face of the friggin EARTH, who see that maybe, just maybe, this whole end-of-the-world thing has been set up.
Now, ask me to believe that signs and portents are happening and millions believe them, ok, yes, but tell me that only two guys, and not the smartest men in the world either, only these TWO, smell something rotten in Denmark, and that's where I start with my eye-rolling. So, as crazy as it sounds to mark down an end-of-the-world book because of unbelievability, that's what I'm doing.
I could spoil it for you, sure, but I won't, because if you like to read these kind of books, you will enjoy this one. It is exciting, a little scary, has enough quotes from Nostradamus to really freak you out, and enough element of What-if to keep you awake at night. Except for the above-mentioned "I don't believe this", it is a really good read. Going on my Shelf of all Shelves, in the section marked "Maybe this will happen".
Just kidding.... I think.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

"Russlings" Blog Review

blog about animals at the North Carolina Zoo

Some folks are animal people, and some are not. I have always been an "animal" much so that I generally tend to like animals more than people. And before you ask, because everyone always DOES, I guess I'd be a Dog Person, despite the fact that I consider myself to be a kaat. What I don't understand about the raging debate between Dogpeople and Catpeople is why we have to pick one. Why can't you be a Bothpeople? I have a dog and I have a cat and they are both unique and fascinating and fun to live with in their own way. When I got them, I never thought I'd have to make a choice on a semi-regular basis between them when I am confronted (somewhat hostile, while the asker usually wears a strange little grin like, "Aha, I got you now" that really creeps me out because... Got me why? How? What would you want to get me for?) with the question, "Well, are you a dog person or a cat person?" All the while, smirking that knowing smirk, because apparently you can tell a lot about a girl based on if she chooses a cat or dog as "her" animal. I think we are supposed to be "like" the animal we choose. Well, sorry, but Kaat is a Dogperson, if the choice has to be made.
I'd rather hang out with my dog than anyone else on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Along with my love for animals is my deep interest in them. Animal Planet is the best channel on TV that I can think of. There's always something new and different to learn about in the animal kingdom, and one thing is a fact....There's some WEIRD shit going on out there in Faunaland.
For instance, I am reading a book right now that introduced me to the idea of the "candiru", a tiny catfish that is easily the nastiest fricking thing I can imagine living in the water. Read about it if you dare. I'll just tell you that it has to do with privates and places no fish should EVER be.
Anyway, my enjoyment of the animal world and my interest in learning more about it is helped along considerably by my blog review today. Russ Williams is the blogger, and he quite cleverly made a pun of his name when he titled his blog "Russlings". The dude is the executive director of the private membership "N.C. Zoo Society" and in his moments of leisure he puts together this incredibly neat blog.
Russ shares stories, anecdotes, and interesting facts about the critters in the North Carolina Zoo and other zoos worldwide. In fact, he seems to be the authority on what' happening in the zoo world, and if I was wondering about, say, the possible risk of zoos being targeted by terrorists, he'd be the guy I'd ask about it. And then I'd discover that he already answered my question with his amazing super powers and posted it here. He is a fairly constant poster, with new stuff on there almost daily, and I always enjoy the photographs he shares, as well as the little snippets of info and links.
This week alone, I learned about baby giant anteaters, the looming possibility of extinction for the West African Black Rhino (yes I've heard those beasts are crabby, but let's not wipe them out, ok?) and how animals keep cool in the blazing summer heat. Dirt, for one, curious people. And ice chunks with fruit involved for elephants... who, by the way, can be nice, flappy-eared gentle giants or they can be psychotic, flappy-eared mad killers, as I learned in Russlings this week. What drives an elephant to kill, I wonder? Is it because someone let a candiru loose in their bathing pool? Well, if the answer is known, I'm sure I could find it in Russlings' archives.
I always love the photographs Russ posts as well, like I said. Some are totally click-and-save worthy. Today, I am adding Russlings to my list of Oldies-Goodies blog list. I've been checking it long enough to add it now. If you like animals, I strongly suggest you go check it out for yourself. If you don't, well...what kind of a person are you anyway? Who doesn't like animals? You have a problem, buddy. A big one.

Russlings- give a shout out to da Zoo Man!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

North Country Movie Review

North Country
starring: Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson
directed by: Niki Caro
126 minutes
rated R for sequences involving sexual harassment including violence and dialogue, and for language

Ok, so...North Country.Took me awhile to compose myself enough to write this review. I should say, right here from the start, that if you are a woman who has ever suffered abuse, this movie is going to kick your metaphorical ass. I had to stop it several times, go outside and smoke, pace around a little and curse, just to get through the whole thing.

North Country is not boring. On the contrary, it’s gripping, well-acted, kick-you-in-the-guts dramatic… but let me remind readers that this is the BIASED review, and therefore it could have an entirely different impression on a different kaat, so to speak. However, I think it's safe to say that Charlize Theron is hot even with mud on her face and in baggy overalls. You GO, girl!

Josey Aimes is a single mother, has returned to her parents’ home after getting out of an abusive marriage (whew- big relief, there wasn’t a whole lot of that marriage shown before she left him- like three minutes in the beginning). It is 1989, days of mullets and feathered bangs and in Northern Minnesota, where the movie takes place, flannel shirts, same as today. Josey needs a job to support her two children, a sullen boy-almost-teen and a scruffy-haired daughter who looks to be about six. Her good friend tells her they are hiring women at The Mine, and Josey, with visions of bills-paid dancing in her head, goes for it. From the very get go, the women are made to understand that they are far less than welcomed in the hallowed halls of the taconite kingdom and there only because the Supreme Court said they had to be let in. All of them are subjected to crude innuendos, nasty practical jokes and endless come-ons. Josey, in particular, has trouble with an old “friend” from high school Billy, who seems to make her his personal sexual harassment project. These women, they are informed, are taking other peoples’ jobs, those men who are, of course, far more suited to the work and decidedly more deserving. From that point on, steam started gathering in my head, but let me say, there were a few scenes where I just about puked. Like when Josey is attacked on a pile of taconite pellets and groped viciously by the thug from her high school days. Or when another woman finds her sweatshirt covered in semen, tucked away as a nice surprise in her locker.

Josey takes them to court, despite the lack of support from the other, intimidated women mine workers, the downright hatred of the townspeople and the less-than-stellar behavior of her own father. It is frustrating watching her go through the motions, agonizing watching a few courtroom scenes, particularly when the father of her son is revealed to the world, and only knowing that this had to have a good ending made me stick it out to the end. It does….have a good ending. But the road is rough.

The movie is “based on a true story”. I always get curiosified when I see that in the spinning credits, so of course after I finished viewing, I had to go check out the “true story”. Turns out the actual case, Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co. took about ten years, and it was 20 years after the actual harassment began that the women got their bit o’ justice. The so-called “Special Master” judge who was assigned to oversee the trial awarding moneys to the plaintiffs was a real prince, as you can see if you care to read the story. True story- those women went through a HELLUVALOTUV shit. The case, which became the first sexual harassment lawsuit in history to be given class action status, was originally filed in 1998, in my own home state, Minnesota. Creepier and creepier, this isn’t just my home state, this is my home turf…the Iron Range, like I could have actually known these people, nodded at them in the grocery store…seriously. I knew a lot of mine workers and yeah, they were all assholes. HA. Just kidding, there were a couple of good eggs in the bunch, but mostly, the big old cliché drawn of them in North Country is dead-on. Surly, ugly, mean, ruff and gruff chauvinists, yeah, them's the mineworkers. Slightly more disturbing to me was the fact that it seems that no one in northern Minnesota brushes their hair, based on what you see in North Country. Trust me, I always brushed my hair, even when I lived on Da Range. Annnd....I was a little disappointed in the lack of good Minnesota accents. The only one worth its lutefisk was that of Frances McDormand , who plays Josey’s friend and fellow miner, she of Fargo fame, and the very authentic Minnesota talk there, dontcha know. She did a great job in this movie too, as a character not only suffering the fools of the mine, but afflicted with Lou Gehrig’s disease as well. Sometimes, life sucks. This was a perfect picture of that fact.
I give it 4 out of 5 &'s...

& it was gripping
& you feel great empathy for the characters
& it's based on a true story
& she WINS in the end

Friday, July 21, 2006

Dead Like Me Original Series Review

Dead Like Me
Showtime original series, seasons 1 and 2
starring: Ellen Muth, Mandy Patinkin, Laura Harris, Callum Blue, Jasmine Guy, Cynthia Stevenson, Britt McKillip
available at Netflix

So it’s true that this is not exactly a movie, book, or blog. It’s technically a TV show, unbearably short-lived and aired on Showtime, for its glorious two seasons. However, I get it from Netflix, and like many series that I have watched, one DVD at a time, from there (The Sopranos, Oz, Six Feet Under), Dead Like Me stands out as more than a TV show. It's called an "Original series" and the casting, the acting, the storylines, are so beyond plain ol' TV that they really need to come up with a whole new name for this genre. Ok, well, maybe Original series is a name for it. I'm tired, gimme a break, I've only slurped one cuppa this morning.
So... last night, I watched the final installment of DLM,Dead Like Me”, and my upset when I realized that this was, indeed, the last episode, was great. And and mighty. I surfed around, looking for answers
and I believe I found out the reason it was cancelled... here, if you're interested. DANG that stupid MGM and their story-chopping and control issues! It is a terrible shame that there are only two seasons of DLM, because to use some slightly out-of-date vernacular that will be even more out-of-date in two minutes, this show was Da Bomb! Da Shit! Da Shizzle! In other words, it's really really, really good, and I am sad not to see it any more.
The basic storyline centers around Georgia Lass (aka George), an eighteen year old college drop-out, cynical beyond her years, who lacks ambition, politeness, or any discernable charm, and who is killed by a toilet seat. Yep, that's correct. A toilet seat flies down from the Soviet space station and makes Georgia-soup out of our sour little heroine. Unlike most folks, however, George has a different destiny than the simple ol' afterlife. She's been chosen to Reap.
As in, Grim Reaper. Although they drop the "grim" part and just call themselves reapers, that's still what they do, though not in a grim sense, not usually, come to think of it. It's George's job to take the souls of people who are scheduled to die. She needs to get them before their actual death, so they aren't stuck with injuries from whatever kills them. She does this by rubbing her hand down their arm, an odd gesture, made odder by the fact that no one seems to object or pull away from this creepy caress from a stranger. I was imagining that if a reaper was trying to suck my soul, they might have a little difficulty, 'cause I don't just stand there and let people rub my arms. Hehe. But that, really, is my only complaint with this show. Georgia's merry band of reapers include an assortment just as mixed as a Whitman's sampler box, each of them delightful and unique.
Introducing Rube, who is, as George says in one episode, the "Dad" one. He is played by Mandy Patinkin, who may be recognized as a much-older Inigo Montoya, from The Princess Bride. He is basically the Big Boss, the mentor of the rest of them, and it is his job to keep the reapers in line, and pass out their "reaps" every morning. These are given to them as a first initial and last name, a place, and an "ETD", Estimated Time of Death, on a yellow post-it. Yesir, a yellow post-it note. Somehow, you'd think death would be a little more complicated, huh? Rube is full of wisdom, advice and gruff good-humor. He guides George down her reaping path with just the right amount of firmness and sympathy, his matter-of-fact attitude clashing at times with his usually-hidden senstivity.
Fellow reapers are Daisy Adaire (Laura Harris) an actress who died in a fire on the set of "Gone With The Wind", whose shallow charm is replaced by...well, something deeper, as the season grows older. There is the ever-screwing-up Mason (Cullum Blue), who died in the 60's while searching for the ultimate high, who hasn't stopped looking, and can find more ways to get in trouble than your average Dennis the Menace. Roxy (Jasmine Guy) is the tough, no-nonsense butt-kicking reaper who takes no shit from no one. She was murdered in the 80's for an idea she had come up with that stood to make boo-kooo bucks (the legwarmer). Each character gradually grows on you, and you find yourself, by the end of Season Two, really involved with them and their un-lives, even though I guarantee that Mason will drive you NUTS with his stupidity that keeps on going...and going.... and going.
George needs to deal with her previous life, as she finds it hard to say goodbye to her family, consisting of a mom, a dad, and a younger sister, each of whom is having more than a little trouble adjusting to George's death. She also discovers that reapers don't get paid, but they still have to eat, and finds herself employed at Happy Time, an office that could be either your dream, or your nightmare, depending on who you are. Her boss there, Delores Herbig (" in her big brown eyes!) is a hoot and a half, and I'd work for her any day. Each day, the reapers meet with Rube at their hang-out, Der Waffle House, where they are waited on by the long-suffering Kiffany, a waitress who serves sweetness and gentle advice along with their breakfast platters. Each day, George must reap someone new, and the first few episodes are about her understandable reluctance to do her job. That gets resolved in a hurry, let me tell you, when she discovers the consequences of her lack of action.
The show was apparently cancelled due to a lack of good storylines, to my disgust, because I found those stories better than what else is on TV right now, and a battle over creative issue, which just...well, sucks, let me say. However, the Two seasons are so worth renting, and in fact, i believe I saw a commercial for them to start airing on some cable channel... I don't remember which, however, and because I'm too lazy to go looking right now, you'll have to get it on Netflix, or do the detecting yourself. Dead Like Me is what the term "Dark comedy" was coined for. It is dark, it is funny, it is so worth watching that if you don't watch it, you might regret it afer you die.
I give it 5 out of 5 &'s.

& the writing is funny
& the acting is good
& the storylines are engrossing
& the concept is arresting
& there are quite a few episodes for only two seasons

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Gone South by Robert R. McCammon

Gone South
Robert R. McCammon
published by Pocket Books, 1992
392 pgs.

Gone South is a "AR-AR",or "Relevant Re-read". In case you haven't noticed, I make up a lot of goofy pet names and grand titles. It's one of my small amusements in a life filled with few, so give me a break. Now, where was I?Ah yes, Gone South...I read it when it first came out way back in the golden days before I had children. Sigh...those were the days. It has a place on the Supreme Keeper Shelf in my household, but I take it down every couple of years and read it again.
There are few authors that almost automatically go onto the Supreme Keeper shelf. You've got the Grand Masters- King and Koontz, and the A.A.M.W.I.L.* like the Kellermans, Ms. Johansen, and Childs (Jack Reacher- you da man!). You have your ALL time favorite romance divas like Laura Kinsale and Kathleen Eagle. Writers that have earned their spot in my heart with every tap of the magic keyboard beneath their fabulously talented fingertips.
And than you have, sort of, McCammon.
I say "sort of", because sometimes his books are really, really good, and sometimes they are really, really, well... average. I suppose I could take the time, review the publishing dates, and see if there was a year when he hit his "Stride", and has written literary gold ever since. But that would require far more energy than a devoted Laz-E-ass (Like the Laz-E-boy, only not a chair... a butt) like me can spare. I'll just say that some of his books, Like Gone South, belong on the Shelf of all Shelves (along with Swansong and Boys' Life) and then others, well, "snooze" I suppose, is a nice way to put it... (see Baal).
Gone South begins with a rather depressing morning in the life of Vietnam vet, Dan Lambert. He has been laid off from his longtime job at a construction company and now he hangs around so-called Death Valley, hoping to catch a "ticket" for the day (Think Home Depot, and the Hispanic gentlemen waiting outside for a homeowner to give them a day's wages for roofing, fence-raising, etc.). He is divorced, has not seen his son in six years, is slowly dying from leukemia, conceals a walnut-sized tumor in his skull that makes him chew tylenol like pez, and owns nothing of value except for his truck, purchased when he had a steady job and didn't know yet that the Grim Reaper was traveling down his personal drive. After a long, thoroughly depressing day, in which the reader learns that, like a lot of guys, Dan the man had a particularly bad time in Nam and has bitter memories of the place and what happened there, he gets home to his dumpy little apartment in time to open the mail and receive a repo notice on his truck. The bank loan manager, who used to be an understanding kind of friendly dude, has been replaced by an Unknown Guy, and with resignation but desperation, Dan heads in to try to talk Unknown Guy into giving him a little more time with his wheels.
The reader knows, with a sickening pang, that this is not going to happen, not in the real world but watches in helpless fascination as Dan meets with Emory Blanchard. As we had feared, Dan's reasonable request for an extension is denied and he is told to bring by the keys in the morning. Now Dan snaps, goes more than a little nutzo, and so begins his periolous journey that leads... South.
A fugitive on the run, poor Dan is a sympathetic character. A guy who seems to squish in shit every cautious damn step of his life. He ends up in an odd-couple situation with Arden Halliday, a young woman who is heading into the swamps in search of a legendary faith healer she thinks will remove the huge birthmark on her face, and her bad luck along with it. Their trail is closely followed by two crazy-ass bounty hunters, the likes of which no reader has ever read, who are determined to get their share of the $15,000 reward being posted for Dan. Trust me, these guys are not exactly Dog. Flint was in a freak show before he entered the bounty hunter life.... he and his brother, that is, whom he is very, um... "attached" to. That should give you a good idea and a shiver. Then there Pelvis Eisley, a faded clone of the King himself, who walks around in his jumpsuit, eating twinkies, talking incessantly, and clutching his lil' bulldog, Mama.
The two are hot on Dan's trail as he makes his way deeper into the swamps, and a land as far removed from middle America as can be imagined. As Burt, a man they meet there, tells them " see this swamp down here and it still looks like it's part of the United States, right? Well the map lies. This down here's a world all to its ownself. It's got its own language, its own industries, its own...well I wouldn't call 'em laws." Deeper into the swamp they go, and the adventures they meet there stay with the Reader for a good long time.
Dan is a good man, a kind man, haunted by his past in a world with no future, and Arden is a woman living on the power of dreams alone. You can't help but be swept up in this moving, astonishing story, written in the same wonderful style as McCammon's other Book of Perfection, Boy's Life, I give it a red on the Reader's Rainbow. Enjoy yourself reading this. You won't ever think of Elvis or birthmarks the same way again.

* action and mystery writers I luve

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Lakehouse Movie Review

"The Lakehouse", 2006
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Keanu Reeves
Directed by: Alejandro Agresti
Rated: PG for disturbing image and some language
Time: 105 minutes (aka FOREVER)

WARNING- there are almost always going to be spoilers in my reviews, because I can't make the distinguishing thing work between what's a give-away and what's not. So read on at your own risk if you're one of those whiney people who goes, "OOoooooHHHhhh don't tell me what happens!"

Let me tell you, I am known for being picky about movies. As I am a frugal girl, and the price of a movie ticket just keeps rising, I'm not going to go to a movie unless it's a matinee, and unless I'm pretty darn sure it's good. I usually check as many reviews as I can look at (I find "Rotten Tomatoes" a great site to check this on). I read all about the plot, weigh whether or not I seriously admire the actors, and well, you get the picture. My family and friends know that I consider a bad movie, a mediocre movie, and even slightly lame movies, simply a waste of my life. I will rent lame and so-so movies on Netflix, (and hey, if you join, please ask to be added to my buddies list. Email me for further details.) because then it's not costing me and arm and a half a foot to get in, and I can get up and move around during the picture. Another thing I am known for is the fact that I find it very difficult to sit through an entire movie without getting up. Or T.V. show ( big exception- LOST). Or dinner. Ok, I find it hard to sit in one spot for a long time at all. For lame-o movies at home, I can get up, maybe go make some tater tots, wash a load of laundry, do my toenails. At the theater, I'm effectively trapped because of my inherent politeness, which will not allow me to "Excuse me" my way across the aisle and make people contort into difficult positions to allow me by, more than once per show. I save it for a needed bathroom break.
I admit I didn't do my usual measuring before I went to see The Lakehouse. It reminded me, in full force, of why I do.
Plot idea, pared down to essentials- two people fall in love with each other through the mail, as they both live in the same house (guess where? You got it, the LAKE house) and are separated by two years. Time paradox lovey yummness. Goofy? Yep. Far-fetched? Totally. Do I have a good imagination? I do, so I could swallow it, if it was good.
I saw a preview for this movie sometime ago and I thought, hey that looks like a sappy, happy fantasy romance, right up my alley. I am a hopeless romantic, I admit it freely and make no excuses. The premise of The Lakehouse reminded me of Griffin and Sabine,
and I really enjoyed that series, so I thought, hey, how bad could it be? Plus there was the whole Keanu Reeves thing. The friend who went with me to The lakehouse said she'd go because the guy's not hard to look at for a couple of hours, right? Well, right in the sense that he's not hard to look at several years ago, wearing a long black trench coat and dark shades, flying all over the place as Neo. In The Lakehouse, he looks like he has been drinking a wee bit too much- puffy faced and unhealthy. Hint of a new chin coming in there beneath the wreckage of what was once a chiseled jaw. Sandra Bullock has a very cute haircut, I admit, but they both are stiff and unlikely, Not really people you'd want to fall in love with, or even people you'd want to hang out with.
They write to each other and stick the notes in the magical mailbox, showing (I thought) very little surprise when the box flag starts flipping up and down on its own. Somehow, and this is not really clear to me, they also share a dog. I admit, by the time the dog was introduced as a major player, I was rolling my eyes around fiercely and couldn't concentrate on the explanation. I had the center of the whole storyline nailed within the first ten minutes and was leaning over whispering to my friend what was going to happen, much to her annoyance and the annoyance of the other people sitting around us. But the point is, I was right. By the end of the movie (and 105 minutes was really, really long that day) I was leaning sideways in my chair, lolling over into the next seat, gasping for air and out of popcorn, my tongue hanging from my mouth as I tried to control my snorts of disbelief and that dang eyerolling.
Let me just point out a couple of bits of nonsense that made me hate this movie.
  • Neither of them acts really surprised that this is happening, or really questions how. It's like, wow, we communicate through, huh? Let's go for a "walk" together. (Walk means he sends her a map with his favorite places in the city- did I mention he's an architect whose father built the many-times-mentioned house?)
  • They meet, and dance and kiss, during the two years separating them, and he knows who she is, but not vise-versa. He not only doesn't try to get a toe-up on the relationship during this meetings, but he doesn't tell her in a letter that he was the dude she uncharacteristically started making out with in her back yard at a surprise birthday party a couple of years before. She figures it out on her own, but so slowly! Hello- stranger, birthday party, making out with said stranger under her boyfriend's nose- she doesn't remember the dude's name was Alex when she starts falling in love with an ALEX through the magical mail? Most women would remember that night vividly for, oh, well, at least... EVER, and remember it every time she met any schmuck named Alex immediately, for the rest of her life. She should have, with any tiny amount of womanness, immediately guessed, or at least hoped, that was who he was. HER Alex, of the magical mysterious birthday night, never seen again. There are a couple of other similar events, but I'm not wasting my life describing them. This was confusing enough, I know.
  • When he doesn't meet her at their set-up date, a dinner that he has waited for two years to go to (she just had to wait til the next evening- another problem for me, all the sacrifice is on the guy's part- none on hers here- he made the reservations 2 years in advance people,!) she throws a little hissy fit and says she no longer wants to communicate with him. Ok, come ON, now. She is having a supernatural experience that most people would die to have, and she's all, nope, no more, I'm going to pretend this never happened...? Nuh-uh! But that's exactly what she does. Nevermind that they have a love that transcends space and time, nevermind that most people might take this as a tiny sign that they are destined for one another, maybe have a little faith that this supernatural thing might mean they'll get over the bumps. Not her. She dumps the Mr. Right, As Told By FATE, and runs back to the boring boyfriend she cheated on once (with Mr. DESTINY, I remind you) already. Question- why does the boring guy love her, anyway? There is nothing apparently lovable about her when you see the two of them together.
  • The big dramatic plot twist was obvious to me, like I said, within ten minutes of opening credits. Ask my friend, she'll tell you I was right.
  • There is a side-story about Reeve's architect father that has seemingly nothing to do with anything else in the movie, except illustrate to us that he had a distant father and a difficult relationship with the guy. Join the frickin club, buddy. Nothing special there. And the guy who plays his father- oh i am not even going to look up his name- was like cardboard. He reminded me of a senior in highschool playing hamlet, with his "hearty", loud acting. No reason why his character sucks, just plenty of evidence that he does, and you're left wondering, why? Why was this even in here? BLAUGH!
  • Just one more thing- the two of them tell at least one other person about this extraordinary relationship- she her mom, he his brother, and they really don't even bat an eye. They're like nodding understandingly...ah yes, timewarp romance, letters through years, it all seems perfectly normal to them. PLEASE.
That's all. Go see it, if you're a masochist. There are 2 &s out of 5...

& the dog, who looks like a cross between Benji and a wolf, is cute.
& the house, although I'd never live in it because I have this thing about privacy, as in, I like people to not be able to see me 24/ pretty cool.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Post Secret Blog Review

Post Secret
Blog about people's secrets...duh

Ok so I immediately break my first rule of Blog Review Sunday.
I didn't intend to share any of my favorites until my I.A.* grew. And yet today, I'm bringing out the Big Gun, the All-Time favorite blog of the Kaat. The Secret Posting Place. The Blog of All Secrets Posted. El Blog El Secret. All I can say in my defense is that I just couldn't resist. So the compromise I made with myself (a long and arduous process that no one even remotely wants to hear or read, I know) is that if the I. A.* grows, I will post about Post Secret again. And again. And again. Ok. Let's quit the babble and begin.
Post Secret is my guilty secret.
Well, let me rephrase that, because it's not a secret if I'm blathering on about it on the internet, now is it? Yelling to the world in general, "HEY this is a SECRET!" makes it really... not one.
So Post Secret is my guilty sharing. I mean, wouldn't that be the opposite of secret? A sharing? Is a sharing a word? Probably not, but this is, let me say it again, my blog, and therefore any creative grammar I choose to use is to be considered charming and a sweet little idiosyncrasy of mine, and definitely not "retarded and idiotic", thanks.
If you have never gone to this site, you must do so immediately!
Self-described:(PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.)
If you're going, huh? that's because you have not yet gone to this site. I'm telling you, do so at once. I'll wait here.
Every Sunday, first thing when I sit down at my computer, armed with coffee and bagel (or a piece of bloody meat if I happen to be on a carb-conscious diet at the time), I spin the mouse on over to Post Secret. My mind brims over in awe at the images. My heart thunders at the words, hand-written or typed or cut out. My whole being quakes at the fact that so many people... so many brilliant, angry, hurting, shamed, proud, scared, joyful people are creating such moving, speaking, pieces of art, and sending them, measuring 4x6, to this website.
It's really wonderful.
It's really heart-rending.
I eat this sucker up faster than my bagel, even if it's toasted blueberry, slathered with real, full-fat cream cheese. That should tell you how much I enjoy this site.
Some of the secrets are happy ones, but not usually. I think, in general, secrets aren't usually good things. We, as humans, basically want to share joy, so if something is deemed appropriate for hiding, it's probably not all that joyfilled.
Most of these secrets are angry, or hurt. Some will make you bust a gut laughing. Some will make you instantly tear-up. Some are outrageous. Some are disgusting. A lot of them are painful. They are all riveting, and again, I urge you, member of my I.A.*, if you have not yet stepped into the Post Secret Garden, go go go!
What I find most wonderful about Post Secret is that I can clearly see through comments that we have more in common than we think, we people. A lot of the secrets that seem lonely, only happened to me, and no one understands, are actually shared with others, and empathy is available upon request.
There is a Post Secret book out. I was so disappointed when my birthday last month came and went and I didn't receive a copy, despite heavy hints and many wistful comments on my part about how I'd like to get that book, but geez I feel bad spending the money on myself.
People in my life are not big hint-takers.
So in celebration of...what,what can I be celebrating? Hmmm, how about this review? Yeah, yeah, in celebration of my first Blog Review, I'm hopping on over to the Post Secret site and ordering me a copy. Perhaps that'll be the next book I review.
The question you might have is...does Kaat send in secrets? Well, yes, yes I do. So far, I haven't seen one appear on the page, but I keep watching, and I'll let you know when does. I'm confident it will happen. I won't tell you which one when it does appear, but I will tell you it's there.

Post Secret. Check it.

*Imaginary Audience

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Movie Review

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, 2005
Robert Downey Jr.
Val Kilmer
directed by: Shane Black
Rated:R for language, sex and nudity
Time: 103 minutes

Ohmy. That's what I have to say about this.
I rented Kiss Kiss Bang Bang because I wanted something not too hard to follow while I did my toenails last night. What I thought would be a pleasant, slightly funny movie, perhaps even in the arena of "madcap", turned out to be an owner movie.
As in, I am going to have to own 'er.
Robert Downey Jr., and let me say for the record that I don't give a good goddamn what kind of drugs he takes or how many stints in rehab he has done, mumbles and stumbles and sorta narrates this tale.
He plays Harry, a nice guy thief who accidentally bumps into a possible "big break", while fleeing the scene of a robbery, when he crashes into a room of movie producers watching try-outs. Just that scene, when he "tries out" for the part, made me start laughing. I like it when I' m laughing within the first ten minutes of a show.
He is whisked off to California for a screen test and gets mixed up in an insane whodoneit. He is joined by Val Kilmer who plays "Gay Perry", a homosexual private detective whose dialouge alone is worth watching the movie for. Downey and Kilmer are fantastic together. My stomach hurt from laughing at the exchanges between them. Watch for: "That was the single gayest thing you have ever done." LOL!!! The two of them, joined by Harmony, Harry's long lost dream girl, follow a twisted route of murder, trying to figure out things like; who the body is that they find in a lake, why it got there, how it ends up in Harry's hotel, how Harmony's sister ends up dead and did she hire Perry before her death and who is responsible for the entire thing?All clearly evident from the previews or write-ups that I read before renting this.
What is not evident is the way this movie is so furiously funny, so sharply sarcastic and quick-wittedly dry, that you will be laughing your ass off, if you don't miss the incredibly good lines Downy is mumbling under his breath. You have to really listen to this movie to appreciate the writing as much of it passes so quickly, one line right after another, that if you tune out for a second, you lose out on a laugh. I was incredulous watching the events unfold, my sympatheties totally with poor, unofrtunate, and (horrible)accident -prone Harry. I kept finding myself moaning, "Oh shit....NOOOO..." but in a good way, I promise.
I give it 4 &'s of 5....

& Robert Downy Jr. is great
& Val Kilmer is great
& the writing is so sharp!
& the plot unfolds quickly and seamlessly

Blow Fly by Patricia Cornwall

Blow Fly
Patricia Cornwall
published by Berkley in 2003

So I've been reading my way through several Patty Cornwall books this week, and there's no doubt about it- she's a talented writer. I wouldn't be stretching it to say I think the woman is brilliant, possibly of the genius IQ range, based on her writing skills in this and the other books that I have read by her... She must do TONS of research, and I can only admire a talent so lacking in myself that is displayed so brilliantly in others. I would guess she is smart, meticulous, patient, and...Well, that's then end of my happy words.
If her characters are indicative of her own personality, at all, then she is also childish, thin-skinned, quick to take offense and constantly self- pitying.
You know, I've heard that you dislike in others the characteristics you most indentify with yourself (subconsciously).
Blow Fly's main character (as in most of Cornwall's books) is Kay Scarpetta, Medical Examiner Extraordinaire. These is no regular ol' M.E. folks. This is Ms. Amazing, dressed in a protective smock, gloves and paper booties. She can figure out absolutely everything about a murder by the way the blood has pooled in the back of the right eyeball, or some shit like that. The knife wound pattern of a stabbing victim can lead Scarpetta straight to the killer, who lives in another state, pretends to be a band leader and eats only bananas for breakfast, all of which Dr. Scarpetta knows early on.
I'm NOT complaining about this! Far from it. I love books that have brilliant woman as super-hero type main characters, able to leap three murders in a single hypothesis. I admire the way Cornwall has Scarpetta figure everything out in a meandering, yet easy-to-follow path, straight to justice's door. Scarpetta has a high sense of ideals, her morals are (seemingly) impeccable. She's just also a whiney, uptight bitch.
ALL of Scarpetta's characters are babies, in my opinion. They get upset over everything. Their feelings are constantly being hurt. They get mad at each other, take everything the wrong way, are arrogant and self-centered enough to stop thinking about a murder investigation and start thinking about the fact that So-and-so didn't call them before eight o'clock the night before, and therefore must not be considerate of their feelings. Scarpetta is supposed to come across as a strong, take-no-bullshit kind of gal, and she would, at least to me, if I didn't have the reader's knowledge of the whiney (I said it again) shit that's going on in the good doctor's mind.
Blow Fly follows the continuing story of ...Forgive a possible mis-spelling here, but I can't be bothered to look it up in the book....La Loup Garou (French for "Werewolf" I believe), otherwise known as Jean-Baptiste Chandonne, an evil villain so disgusting that his description literally makes my skin crawl.
He has been in the last few Scarpetta books, and each time Cornwall goes into detail about His Supreme Grossness, I get a little more impressed with her ability to create a monster. This dude suffers from some kind of genetic disease (very rare) that caused him to be born covered in...Well, fur. Although Cornwall describes it as "Baby-fine", "Long", "swirling whorls", any description means the same thing...UGH. He is covered with hair, every bit of him, except for his mucus membranes and palms and soles of feet. He has a misaligned face- like one eyeball is lower than the other. His teeth look like gray baby teeth that have been filed- wide spaced and pokey. He is described as stinking, too, always giving off a nasty stench like "a wet dog" or a "damp animal".


Ok. Fairly warned. Now I have not read all of the books in this series. I kind of jump from here to there in Dr. Kay's life. But one thing that shocked me and delighted me a little is that Benton Wesley, The Love of Her Life ("Her" being Scarpetta) turns out to be alive in Blow Fly. In bookland, Wesley has been dead for like six years. I don't know if he turned up alive in the previous two books which I didn't read, but in the one before that, which I did (I know, sounds all confusing) called "The Last Precinct" he was dead, and Kay was still devastated by his death. Now it turns out he has been in some funky witness protection program, pretending to be a gay dude, and not only all of this, but...oh my, hold your hats, it turns out that Lucy and Pete Marino, the two people closest to Scarpee, have known he was alive, and even helped him stage his death.
Hello, can you say "Betrayal"?
Well, for the first time, in my opinion, Scarpetta has something to actually be upset about. She's got a good fricking excuse to be pissed as HELL at those two assholes. It will be interesting to see if she instantly and uncharacteristically forgives them instead of blasting them in the next book. I mean, this is a character who can get tears in her eyes because Lucy, her gay, Amazon-woman, totally brilliant, gorgeous, rich and, dare I say "BITCHY" niece, doesn't stay at her house when she flies (in her own helicopter, no less) into town on short notice, but checks into a hotel for the night instead.
Thin Skin. I said it, I mean it.

The basic plot of Blow Fly goes like this:
Werewolf man is fantasizing constantly about the doctor, who blinded him in a previous novel, but in this book, it seems he can see. Not too clear on that part, Ms. Cornwall. Is he blind? Is he not? Also the part where he's jerking off confused me. I thought his dick was miniaturized and useless. How then, is he whacking it?
Pete Marino (I like to call him Morono) the cop who has the inexplicable friendship with Scarpetta, goes around in this book like all the others, wheezing, sweating, getting drunk and smoking in places he shouldn't. The dude is constantly re-described. Cornwall wants every reader to know how totally gross and crass he is. Ok, ok, we get it. He isn't fit to touch the paper booties of the Doc, as he calls her. But why? I've wondered that about every Cornwall book I've read. Why does she harp on and on about how disgusting Morono is? As well as re-mentioning his undying, unspoken love for the Doc?
We get it, already! He's gross and she's way out of his league and nothing can come between them but... WHY do you GO ON about it?
Morono spends time trying to explain to Wesley that he can come back, and gets his feeling hurt (what a surprise) when Wesley doesn't bearhug him in joy. He swears, he sweats, he smokes. All the usual business of Morono.
Lucy, as previously described, is everything I promised; gay, a total Amazon, wealthy beyond measure because of her extreme intelligence, incredibly gorgeous, and incredibly selfish and kind of mean and really inconsiderate of everyone around her. In every book appearance, I have been a little surprised at how Cornwall gushes over the perfection of Kay and Lucy, and doesn't hesitate in making them do stupid things.
Lucy is also, incidentally, adored by every man around her, but is also inaccessible, like her aunt, except in Lucy's case, it's because she's gay and an asskicker. Her partner Rudy, who has tried to rape her in a previous book, but been forgiven by Lucy, who has absolutely no hard feelings about the attempt (NO, I'm not kidding, read it yourself!) helps her kills people and just generally pants around after her, while she allows him to masturbate her after an especially daring operation, though she leaves him hanging, at least as far as the reader can tell.
Wesley, on the other hand, is Mr. Cool, Calm and Collected, as always. Now he is bald (SAY YUMMY, people!) and dresses less chicly, and he keeps his not-dead status a secret from Kay until the last page of the book. Cliffhanger, much? Want people to buy the next one much? By the way, Wesley, like any character in a Scarpetta book that doesn't fit the easily angered/upset, super critical character part, is described as "cold". I think he's the coolest of the bunch...
Werewolf sits on the toilet in his prison cell a lot and magnetizes himself (don't ask, it was far too smart for me) and dreams about drinking Kay's blood. Some letters are sent (or not) by him or by Benton, to create an elaborate set up and wiping out of all the main peeps who made Benton stage his death in the first place. Jay Talley, the god-like, evil twin of Mr. Hairypants, meanwhile, hides out in the swamp with his drudge of a a girlfriend and murders helpless housewives who remind him of the elusive Kay, who he (LIKE EVERY MALE) is madly in love with. He banged her in Paris, by the way, strange action for the cold-blooded Kay (Oh she immediately regretted it, of course) and he has never gotten over not getting to kill her instead of humping her.
The book, like all of them, ends abruptly, with lots of people dead (though you're not quite sure who) with lots of unanswered questions (like who exactly is dead, and when did that happen? Because I didn't read that part....) and the expectation that youwill rush down the bookstore to buy the next hardcover...coming out soon, I'm sure. Cornwall churns out the novels, and hey, as much as I'm bitching, they're well written. they're great, in fact. I just can't help but mock the wha-wha baby characters...maybe because, like I said above, they remind me of myself.
If you haven't read the other books, you might have some trouble jumping into Scarpetta's world. Kind of like James Patterson and his endless Cross novels. The author expects you to know what the hell is going on, so catch up, buddy, before you knock on Blow Fly's door.
I give it yellowish orange on the Reader's Rainbow.

The " & System" of Judging Movies

The "& System" of Judging movies is carefully constructed, almost scientific in it's amazingness, and just about fool-proof. Of course, nothing on the big green globe is actually fool-proof, and I have several fools I can prove that theory with. In the meantime, let's take a look at the way we judge movies on this here blog.

There are usually 5 &'s possible, but if a movie tickles my fancy beyond normal fingers-in-the-ribs tickleness, I might just give it 6. There's no stopping me. I'm a rebel in every sense of the word.

A 5 & Movie is gonna be great. Worth watching, probably worth buying (or burning, although I don't condone such behavior. Piracy is robbery, you fools! Just think of the money you are stealing from the hungry mouths of movie executives' - or even, gasp,
stars'- babies. Little Paris Maria Appletosh might have to go without that thirteenth Prada baby blanket if you download or burn a movie. Ok, you've been warned.)

A 4 & movie is going to be good.
A 3 & movie is going to be OK.
A 2& movie is kinda stupid.
A 1 & movie is a waste of my life.
A NO & movie is a breath-stealingly horrible flick that should be banned in all English (or Engrish) speaking countries due to pure awfulness.

At the bottom of my review, I'll tell you the &s I give it, and what some of the things I might say about it are that correspond to the &s..... like, "& it had Steve Martin actually being funny- not like in
the Pink Panther".
Got it? Got it. I think it's pretty simple. But then again, you might be pretty simple too, and find all of this confusing. Please email me in that case and I will arrange for your state-funded lobotomy personally.

Friday, July 14, 2006


BLOG REVIEWS- who woulda thunk it?

I have decided to add to my reviews. I know, it seems a brash move when the past... day has gone so well. Why mess with success? But I had this thought...wouldn't it be fun to review other blogs as well?
Why yes, was the immediate answer. It would be fun.
Therefore, every Sunday, I will put away my reader hat, and put away my watcher hat, and put on my blog-explorer hat. I am one of those (I believe) rare individuals who actually goes out trolling for good blogs. I will start at the blogger homepage and click, click, click my way through blog after blog, using the handy little "Next Blog" link. Usually, it is an exercise in futility, I admit that. Most blogs are not note-worthy, or read-worthy, or worthy in any sense of my biased opinion of the word.
Sometimes, I am innocently scrolling my way through the...
  • Non-English sites (I'm not saying this is bad, it's just that I can't read Chinese letters, or Spanish for that matter. For the record, most of the people have very nice-looking profile pictures. I sincerely wish I could read the thoughts they are expressing) with the occasional stray bit of English popping out at me "So cool" blah blah blah"I want it" blah blah blah"My thinking" blah... does everyone know a "little" English and these are the phrases?
  • The mis-spelled and badly written sites that make me clench my jaw (and hey, I admit to the run-on sentence crime, but at least I'm coherent. At least you can understand what I'm saying...I hope), sometimes admittedly written by non-English speaking people who are attempting to do their blog in a language I can understand, so I give them credit for that, but it doesn't help if I can't read it due to lack of grammatical accuracy, so unfortunately, their thoughts are lost to me as well....
  • The angst-filled teen sites filled with "shortwave speak" (I went 2 the mall w B it wuz 2 cool I can c U nvr wnt 2 the plz w him b4) that scramble my brain and leave me gaping around sightlessly and mumbling about the good old times and kids today (or gd ol timez & kidz 2day)
  • The advertising blogs ... BUY CHEESE CHEESE HATS CHEESE STRAW CHEESE PASTE CHEESE IT LOOK AT THE CHEESE FOR SALE CLICK HERE FOR CHEESE RELATED SITES.... they of the endless spam comments which have forced most legitimate bloggers to arm their comment boxes with verification codes and passwords...sad, I remember the good old days when you could comment and remain anonymous, which I did, frequently.
  • The "news" blogs, that are probably very useful to a number of news-seekers, one of whom I am not... if I want to read the news, I have any number of ways of finding it, and I don't need to read a blog on it. This is, of course, not the same as people who discuss their opinions on the news...that is quite interesting to me. I am always interested in others' opinions...probably why I think someone will give a small poop about mine. There has to be someone else in the world like me, right? (whisper voice in head says, "Oh sooo wrong")
  • The kiddieblogs. These are those dread blogs where Mommies-In-Luv* blog all about their amazing, precious and precocious children, who do things that no other child has ever done and hence, are blogged-about. (Little Timmy had a nice BM today, small lumps of light tan with what looked like peas... so proud that he let me know he was uncomfortable after he did it. I swear, I think sometimes he really communicates with his grunts...he has special ones for different things). These blogs are, no doubt, fascinating to other family members of afore-mentioned kiddies (or maybe not, I don't give a good Goddam what my nephew crapped today) but not to me, not to me. Skating right on, thanks. Oh, by the way, there are some exceptions to this rule as well, MIL* who are DANG FUNNY and therefore, read-worthy to me. I have a couple in my favorites. I'll certainly introduce them later in bloglife.
...well sometimes I stumble across a gem. A blogdiamond in the blogrough.
One that makes me laugh, or cry, or think.
I'll bookmark that puppy in 2 seconds flat and read it faithfully from there on out. This means that on the days that I check in with all of my bookmarked-blogs, I sit on my ever-widening ass for long periods of time. Most days, I check in with my Oldees-Goodees favorites (you probably know who you are, if you're reading this) and click on the Newsie Funsies once a month or so.
Yes, I make up the titles myself. Thank you very much.
Now, the whole, long rambling fricking point of this is, I will be sharing.
Every Sunday. Bringing to your screen a blog of note. A Blog Review.
If I discover that a few people are actually ever reading these here reviews, I'll go ahead and unwrap my Favorites, share a few of them with the populace. But not until it's worth it to them to get a review. If that ever happens. No holding of breaths in this seat.
Since I don't intend to review any of the un-readable blogs (like those mentioned above, in bulleted glory) I'm not bothering to set a scale like the Reading Rainbow. It's just going to be like this: every Sunday, a blog to look at, that I like, and why I like it.
Check it. You might be surprised and/or delighted and that's a risk most of us can't afford not to take.

So let's get something straight, right here from the get-go.
This is MY BLOG.
This is the Totally Biased Book and Movie Review.
It's not his blog, or her blog, or the neighborhood blog. It's not the Blog of Public Opinion. This is the blog belonging only to me, and expressed in it will be my views. Crazy concept, I know, but since this is not my first blog, nor will it probably be my last, I'm familiar enough with the strange phenomenon where readers of the blog suddenly feel that everything the blog-writer says must somehow agree with the reader's basic philosophy on some level, or, well, the blog writer is probably, very sadly, deluded and/or evil.
I am neither deluded, at least on these subjects (books and movies) nor am I evil, although there are many who would love to debate that. Even if they'd like to debate it, the fact remains that this is not the place to do it.
Again, my blog.
My opinions.
My reading material choices
and my movie picks.
Note the title. It clearly says "Biased". Let's define biased, shall we?

1.To influence in a particular, typically unfair direction; prejudice.

That means I'm coming at it from my viewpoint and no one else's.
Not that your comments aren't welcome, because of course they are. Feel free to email me, as well. Email is always welcome. Rudeness, however, is not. I have been astonished in the past at the level of rudeness people feel free to display toward strangers on the internet, so let's surprise me again and not have that here.
I have a motto that goes:Be Nice Twice. I try to always follow that. If I have been nice twice and you continue to be rude, well, I'll get an expression on my face like the one pictured above. Ok, maybe I'm not really frightening-looking, per say. But I have a hell of a squint. And I won't be afraid to aim it at you. Me, squinting at your rudeness. Not fun for either of us...Now let's get on with it.

Here's how it is. I judge everything I read on the Reading Rainbow. Don't know what that is? That's not really surprising considering that I made it up. Let's talk about it for a second.

The Reading Rainbow Scale of Goodness

It is really very simple. Rainbows go in colors from red to purple, or vice versa, however you choose to look at a rainbow. Personally, I like to look at mine from a headstand position. You get the point. You've got your red, your orange, your yellow, your green, your blue, your purple (or indigo-whatever) and all of the colors in between. I learned the colors of the rainbow in first grade and I'm not likely to forget them anytime soon. So the Reading Rainbow works in this way: Red is the best, purple is the worst. Shades in between are in between goodness levels. I think you can figure it out from there, eh? But just to make it more difficult I'm going to tell you that I love pink. Yessir, I'm a girly-girl and I like pink. So if something is judged pink, than baby, that's better than good, that's great!

And that's all. It really is. So onward and upward with my brand new blog-launching.... Welcome to Meowkaat's Totally Biased Book and Moive Review.
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