Thursday, January 22, 2009

Things I wonder about....

Dear Bratty Friends,

Do you ever wonder about the following items? I do.

1. When I lie in bed at night, I wonder where my body will be when I wake up. Or, I wonder how people can drift off to sleep assuming that they will wake up.

2. I wonder why so many people have faces that so resemble animals. Is it because that was their last incarnation perhaps?

3. Sometimes I wonder why humans have such a fixation on father figures - in other words, why they wish so much to rely upon Mr. Christ or Mr. Obama to bail them out. Big daddy come to help them. Is it a "training scar" - and if it is, it's a doozy! - left over from childhood?

4. Who decided there should be so many different kinds of cheese? It's enough to make a person dizzy!

5. Why the ocean is so big.

6. Why my cat likes beets, refried beans, and raspberries. Is he a vegetarian perhaps?

6A. Why my cat can't find a giant piece of ham you've tossed on the kitchen floor, but if an ant drops his wallet, he's all over it, hoovering it up like it's some sort of big treat?

7. And here's a doozy of Laurie Anderson's - Why these mountains? Why this sky? This long road? This empty train?

More later,

Bratty

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Books by J. R. Ward , Sherrilyn Kenyon

Dear Bratty Friends,

I recently picked up two novels by J. R. Ward, Dark Lover and Lover Awakened. I also picked up Sherrilyn Kenyon's Upon a Midnight Clear. I read all of them in the last week. My thoughts on them vary.

I read Kenyon's book first. The story is a little bit of a departure from her usual vampire, demon type work. The main male character is a disgruntled human. (Unfortunately, he's blonde! Ack!) However, a goddess of course is involved , and so is Dolor a demon of pain. The two main characters fight against Dolor and the main character's brother. In all it wasn't a bad read, and her books are always very quick reads. This was no exception. In some ways, it was refreshing not to have a head-bashing ultra-violent main male character, but one that was actually a human being. Yeah!

That said, the books of J. R. Ward were quite different. I read Lover Awakened first, and I have to say I saw a lot of similarities between this work and GenaShowalter's and much of Sherrilyn Kenyon's. In fact, they are very similar. In Lover Awakened, the vampire group the Black Dagger Brotherhood lives in a group in a castle, much like the demons in Showatler's Lords of the Underworld series. They also fight the lessers, a group of being similar to the demon hunters in Showalter's work. All that is of course reminiscent of Kenyon's whole Dark Hunters series. But there's more.

It seems to me that each of these authors has at times stooped to creating male (and sometimes female) characters that are exceedingly violent, yet have extraordinarily painful pasts - in Lover Awakened, Zsadist was imprisoned and physically and sexually abused, scarred, etc. - and yet Bella comes to regard him not with pity but with love and he rewards her love with tenderness and loving care. Ugh. Look, I know it's an old scenario, and any Evolutionary Psychologist* will tell you that the planet's human females tend towards natural selection of males that are violent risk takers, but please, do we have to be taught to believe that with just one pretty kiss from us they will protect us and our offspring from the evil ones for all eternity and only use their violent tendencies for the good of all mankind?

Does nobody remember Hitler? Stalin? They had mistresses and wives, (and pets, too! Hitler loved dogs, and he was a vegetarian to boot!) so I suppose you are going to tell me that they weren't brought to heel because their women just weren't good enough in the sack or kind enough women? Seriously, why has nobody ever questioned this fallacy? It looks pretty darned hard to believe to me.

BTW this same stupid theory that all men are tender little boys that can be redeemed assures that there are women out there that marry murderers on death row!** Hello! Is this women's liberation? Lord help us if it is. I think it is rather a short-sell myself. I think it's rather dangerous to keep telling women that ultra-violent men are A-Okay! All this makes me want to run to the nearest contemporary romance shelf, and save the hell out of the genre. Seriously!

In fact, the only quote unquote "normal" character in the Lover Awakened book is the cop Butch, who is a drunken f**cked up type of stereotypical character, but he's human nonetheless, and at least in these two novels, nobody is trying to sell him to us as a savior/protector/tender and compassionate lover. Sigh....

The other book, Dark Lover, I thought was a bit better. It deals with the story of Wrath and Beth, one a vampire and the other a half-breed (the term always reminds me of Spock, I just can't help it!***). The love story between them is somewhat believable though it is primarily (at least at the outset) based on sex (unsafe sex at that!) but at least neither of the characters is reduced to a state where readers find him or her pathetic. That's something that I can live with. The only thing that bothers me about the Wrath/Beth sex scenario is that, again, the violent male is being subdued by the ultra-perfect femininity of the woman. C'mon, really? He got one whiff of her snatch and he just fell so deeply in love that he couldn't stop caring for her and his violent urges subsided? I doubt that's how that plays out in real life.

I know, this is fiction, but geez! These characterizations makes Evanovich's bounty hunters seem wholly plausible.

On the plus side, J. R. Ward's writing includes just enough tasty turns-of-phrase and good description to keep your interest. Some might call her a more literary Kenyon perhaps? Take these memorable lines for example:

"Screamers was packed tonight, full of women wearing leather and men who looked like they had advanced degrees in violent crime." (DL, pg. 1)

"Black streaks ran down its flanks as if it were bleeding from a wound in the roof, and the inside looked terminal as well." (DL, pg. 52)

"His throat was raw, and it felt like he'd French-kissed a blowtorch." (DL, 144)

"Snowflakes no longer fell anywhere near him, as if they disintegrated in the force of his anger." (LA, pg. 3)

"His aura was a shimmering haze of violence that warped the scenery behind him, the forest beyond him wavy and indistinct where it bracketed his body." (LA, pg. 5)

"If you walked fast enough, it was like going by pedestrians when you were in a car, the rhythm of the statues' bodies animating what in fact did not move." (LA, pg. 35)

"He trembled for her until his teeth chattered." (LA, pg. 70)

"The weired tilting sensation came back, like his heart had taken a gondola ride into his gut." (LA, pg. 87)

Okay, you get the idea. These are the impressions I'll take away from Ward's writing.

But, I reserve the right to rant and rave about violent male characters until the cows come home.

More later on that subject,

Bratty

And yes, I almost always seem to read books out of order!
My other faults are eating lunch at my desk, buying too many books, and never putting the new roll of toilet paper onto the roller-thingie.
There, glad that's over with!


* See David Buss, "Evolutionary Psychology: The new science of the mind."


** See, "Women Who Love Men Who Kill," Sheila Isenberg

***
Capt. Kirk: All right, you mutinous, disloyal, computerized half-breed. We'll see about you deserting my ship.
Spock: Frankly, I was rather dismayed by your use of the term "half-breed", captain. You must admit it is an unsophisticated expression.
Capt. Kirk: I'll remember that, Mr Spock. The next time I find myself in a similar situation.

Quotes from IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060028/quotes

Friday, January 16, 2009

AMC where are they going with this?

Dear Bratty Friends,

  • I don't understand why Josh is being killed off on AMC.
  • Just like I didn't understand why Babe had to be killed.
  • And isn't Greenlee getting the axe too? (Couldn't robot-eyes Ryan go instead?)
  • That's in addition to the rest of the cast they've killed off in the last year. What's the total body count on that?

Maybe the show should be called: CSI: AMC?

In a book, you won't often see all the characters killed off that like. It kinda makes you wonder about story lines. I mean, can anybody name a book where all the main characters got killed off - and the majority of them were women to boot?

I have to say I've been loving OLTL lately though. The whole Marty-Todd and John-Blair thing is just so great and creepy! I love John and Blair together as well, and I hope the writers keep the couple together now that John is no longer a cop. Many people have complained about the grossness of the Marty-Todd affair (due to the past between them) but you have to remember that Todd did rape Blair years ago as well. It's kind of his Love M.O. isn't it? I for one felt SO cheated when Todd landed in the water instead of on the cold hard pavement. That was a total cop-out.

So maybe OLTL fails to kill the characters when they really should, versus AMC killing off too many just to end their contracts?

  • BTW - bring on the Jessica/Tess/Bess -Brody scenes. Gotta love those. I am totally digging that story arc. (It also wouldn't hurt if Brody took off his shirt again!)
  • The Venessa/Cristian thing is a little bit odd. I keep rooting for Evangaline to come back. Is it just me or was she totally better than all his girlfriends since? Come out of your coma, girl!
  • And speaking of comas.....Which Kendall is coming back? A sane Kendall or?

Sigh, another half an hour till OLTL....

Bratty

Note to self:

Don't forget about the festival confessional. See John Crew for that one.

Later!

Bratty

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Review: Fearless Fourteen

Fearless Fourteen

Janet Evanovich

The Stephanie Plum bounty-hunter saga continues in Evanovich’s latest release, Fearless Fourteen. In this installment we see Stephanie and Morelli more or less shacked up and more or less committed to each other. The author even graduates the couple from taking care of Bob the dog to Zook the kid and they seem to set up house quite nicely, though nobody is talking about marriage. We all can see that it is impending though, which is what makes it ring untrue when Stephanie says late in the book that she loves two guys. Hunh? I don’t think so.


Personally, I never bought that big bad bounty hunter/security ops Ranger could have a thing for 125 pound 5’7” Stephanie. Nope. Never bought that 100%. In this book, they are like cozy friends, and that seems to work well. But, the notion that Stephanie is in LOVE with Ranger is far off the mark, I think. I don’t buy that at all.


Take for example what would happen if Stephanie shacked up with Ranger. She would get pregnant and he’d dump her just like he did the other women in his life. [Okay, just let me insert a little bit here. What I mean was that Evanovich has made it clear over and over that Stephanie gets the message that Ranger isn't exactly the marrying type. So....I don't see a happy married future with her and Ranger. FYI] Is that what Evanovich wants for her main character? I doubt it. And what about Morelli? Doesn’t he have a happy ending in there somewhere? Or is she going to destroy him with a Stephanie-Ranger pair up? I highly doubt that.


This story is becoming more and more like an ongoing episode of Friends. But hey, even in Friends people grew up a little bit and got married.


It’s time for Stephanie and Morelli to do the same.


And bring back the sex!


Bratty


P.S. At least I can say that this wasn’t a Stephanie ‘jep’ book. She didn’t get kidnapped, stuffed in a cabinet, sprayed with pepper spray, thrown into a circle of gang members, held at gunpoint, etc. So things are looking up in that way. It’s nice to have a story where she doesn’t need to be rescued.


That said, I though the ending came a little sudden. Boom! There went the van. Was it kind of tacked on? Not sure on that one.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wenatchee news - Writing idea

From the Wenatchee World newspaper:

Article published Jan 13, 2009
Pink-heart graffiti case lingering in court

WENATCHEE — The case of the man who sought to spread a little love by spray-painting 12 pink hearts in various locations downtown last year is lingering in Chelan County Superior Court.
Brandon R. Hughes, 28, of East Wenatchee, is charged with second-degree malicious mischief, a felony carrying a maximum punishment of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Keith Howard, Hughes’ public defender, told Judge John Bridges in court Monday that Hughes’ painting didn’t cause any damage and he had expected the state to drop the charge, but they apparently were not going to do so.
Deputy Prosecutor Jim Hershey said he won’t talk about plea negotiations. Without an agreement in place, Bridges ordered a continuance. The next hearing is set for Feb. 2.
When arrested on the night of Sept. 18, Hughes told police he sought to soothe disgruntled drivers by spray-painting 12 fluorescent pink hearts on streetlight poles and traffic signal boxes around and near downtown, according to a Wenatchee police report. Hughes said he wanted to "fill the city with love."
— Jay Patrick, World staff


Could this be useful in a story sometime?
Hmmmm.....

BTW --
The thing that's really funny about this is that the hearts are still there. The city still hasn't removed them. So I'm wondering how much money it takes to clean up a six -inch pink heart from an electrical box, vs. how much it takes to prosecute the guy. Wonder which costs more?

What's disturbing about all this are the comments on the WW website that run akin to: He did the crime, let him do the time; and: let him paint pink hearts on his jail cell.

Wow. Nice folks.

No word yet on whether or not pedestrians and motorists can feel the love as they pass by them. But what if by some accident it happened?

1/16/09

I went out to take a photo of the hearts today but I couldn't find one! Ack! The paint fairy has been by...

Wenatchee photos

Photos of Wenatchee taken on 1-10-09

This is a photo of a very foggy Wenatchee. We've been having foggy days here recently due to the heavy and quick snow melt that happened last week. All that water is now in the ground and creating fog, fog, fog. This was taken in the middle of the day downtown.


The next shot shows some of the flooding. This is a shot from the parking lot at my gym.



And this is some wonderful public art installed at the corner of 2nd St. and N. Wenatchee Avenue. Love that frog!



More later, Bratty.

Seattle PI to close

Dear Bratty Friends,

The end of an era has come: Seattle will be a 1-newspaper town. The Hearst Corp. has put the paper up for sale and may close it entirely if no buyer is found.

See the following link, or Google the Seattle PI for more info.

What a sad day!

Bratty

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008607234_pimain09.html

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A couple of helpful writing links

Hello Folks,

If you've a need to know more about modern urban slang than you know now, check out the following link:

www.urbandictionary.com


For more about the clubbing and drug scene in London specifically, try:

www.urban75.com/Drugs/drugclubs.html

It's pretty amusing what passes for institutional public service announcements in the U.K. For instance, heroin/crack users are cautioned not to shoot up alone.

Hunh. Don't think I've seen that here.

Bratty

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Review: Everyday Survival by Laurence Gonzales

Dear Bratty Friends,

I just want to extend kudos to Laurence Gonzales for his book Everyday Survival: Why smart people do stupid things. This is a book that is right up my alley, being I like just about every subject that ends in -ology. Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology, etc. And he brings those all to the table here as tools and references to explain why people do such stupid things. Some of the stupid things people have done that he uses as examples in the book are funny, and others are quite sad.

The cop who practised over and over to be able to take a gun from a suspect's hand I will always remember. In fact, I think somebody should use something similar to this in a novel. (Heck, maybe even me!) Turns out, the cop practised the move over and over with a buddy. He'd take the gun from the guy, hand it back to him, and then try again. Problem was, when he took a gun from a real criminal's hand, he just handed it right back to him! That behavior was so ingrained in him that he did it automatically, his mind not realizing that the behavioral script he'd written for the practice sessions did not apply to the real life situation. In fact, it was quite dangerous. In cop parlance, they call that type of behavior a 'training scar.' I think the concept of a such a behaviour could be quite useful in a cop or detective type novel. Have the copper make a mistake just when it counts the most, and have it be one he didn't see coming.

All through this book Gonzales reminds us that though we live in this safe world it is not as safe as it seems. We as humans have evolved to become so lazy and inattentive that we will stand right there on the beach and let the tsunami wave run right into us - believing all the while that we are safe; that food will be on the supermarket shelves when we get there; that potable water will come right out the tap; that we'll have a job tomorrow; and that the dollar will be worth something.

What does it take to shake free of that type of thinking? After all, we've programmed ourselves. Life has programmed us. Events have programmed us. TV has programmed us. Maybe it just takes a little concentration and effort on our parts to learn to think outside the bun. Hold the pickle!

And as an aside, any author with Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins, Jared Diamond, Stephen Hawking, Jane Goodall, George Orwell, and Stephen Jay Gould in the bibliography list is welcome at my table any time, even if they DO bring Chardonney!

So read the book and peek past that stubborn automatic programming you are carrying around, if you will.

Good luck,

Bratty