Monday, April 25, 2011

Movie reviews: Two recent movies with vaguely unhappy endings

Dear Bratty Friends,

Have you seen Inception with Leonardo DeCaprio, or Up in the Air with George Clooney? If you haven't, but are going to watch them, then read no further. I do talk about the endings of both films, and well, it just wouldn't be a surprise for you anymore.

Not that they were entirely a surprise to begin with!

I happened to have watched Up in the Air first, so I'll talk about that one first. It was supposed to be cute, heard it was enjoyable, so and so forth for a Clooney film. Yes, and no, the film wasn't funny per se, but did its job in making us believe that Mr. Clooney's character was on the run from his own life. Was too afraid to make "connections" with people - though he did catch his flights - to have a serious relationship.

Eventually, he meets this girl and a "high-flying" fling begins.

George Clooney and Vera Farmiga.

Which is cute, but also painful to watch at the same time, since in real life, we know that the role of confirmed bachelor might have seemed a bit too easy for the long-time bachelor to play. But then it gets worse. Clooney's character begins having feelings for Farmiga's and wants the BIG WANT - it's true, isn't it, that one person in a relationship seems to always want more than the other? - and he goes for it, only to get his heart broken. That's painful to watch, too.


Anyway, there is a movie with no real happy ending except that you can say his relationship with the woman brought him closer to his family than he'd been in years, and made him want something he'd never wanted, and then broke his heart.


 Now, with this movie, entirely different story. Well, not 100% in that Leonardo DeCaprio's character is still dreaming about his dead wife, and wishes he had her back.

Another movie, another broken heart.

But, that's not really the takeaway from this flick. Now, at first, this movie really really ticked me off. I found it largely comparable to The Matrix in that 1) it starts out with a very cool Premise - what IS reality, or which reality is REAL?, and 2) turns into a shoot-em-up.


This film has a fight/chase scene at 9:18 that lasts about 2 mins. another at 37:11 that last another 2 mins, another at 1:04 to 1:07, and at 1:22 to 1:31. But then - the entire last hour or so of the movie centers around fight/chase scenes in 3 different dream states at the same time.

So, that's over half the movie that's largely devoted to fighting in a frozen tundra setting, a high-speed chase scene in a van another level, and the last involves anti-gravity fighting in a hotel. The climax of the movie occurs at about 2:09, so there's lots of fighting/chasing before we get to the heart of the matter.

If in fact we ever do.

You see, the hero, like his other cohorts, is in three dreams simultaneously.




Like all the other characters, DeCaprio's must wake up from all 3 dreams to come back to "reality" as we like to call it. But does he?

DeCaprio is also stuck in a dream made by his own subconscious, starring his dead wife, Mol.

Cobb and Mol.
He has some serious forgive and move on stuff to do here, which rescues an otherwise totally fight-scene plot by adding an element of internal risk to the screen. Can he forgive himself? For what, the viewer wants to know. Once they find out, and all is well, DeCaprio goes further, down into another dream to rescue one of the other characters - the guy who hired him in fact - Saito.


We see him go down to rescue him, but then.....what happens? Does he truly wake up in all three dreams? I think not.

You see, in the van chase sequence, the others escape the van just as it is crashing into the water. He is still buckled in when the others escape, soggy and tired, onto the shore. The next thing we see is him "rescuing" Saito and then this:

Inception ending.

From there, he gets his "happy ending" or does he? Isn't he dead?

Only the spinning token will tell us for sure:

And the film cleverly cuts off before it shows us whether the token falls over, proving whether this is yet another dream, or if it's "reality."

Happy viewing!


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Buy this book - Damn it!

A new release - THE WEAVERFIELDS HEIR by David Bridger

When Kate Richards inherits a dilapidated English estate from her estranged grandfather, she finds herself thrust into a world full of hostile new family members, mysterious Romany tenants, and strange visions of "the net" - an invisible web that connects everything in the universe. Kate thinks she's losing her sanity, but the odd family stories and disturbing tales of locals convince her that something sinister is going on at Weaverfields, while the inescapable pull of the net draws her deeper into the secrets of her new home.

But with those secrets come danger, and an old evil that refuses to let go of its hold on the net - or on Weaverfields. The only person who seems to understand is Joe, a Romany street artist with his own ties to the land. Kate and Joe must master the net before the past intrudes on the present... in very ugly ways...

Read an excerpt and buy The Weaverfields Heir at Etopia Press. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Thursday Thirteen for April 21

Since I've been lucky enough to read some of Ms. Menozzi's work, which is if course set in Italy, I thought I'd do a TT on Italian stuff. So here's some Italian stuff I like:

Italian movies

1. La Dolce Vita by Frederico Fellini

2. 8 1/2 by Frederico Fellini

3. La Strada by --- guess who? --- Frederico Fellini!

4. The Icicle Thief by Maurizio Nichetti

5. Life is Beautiful by Roberto Benigni

Italian Actors and Actresses

6. Steve Buscemi - this is the every man's man. The man with a face that always looks beaten down. The accessible man. The under-rated, and under appreciated Steve Buscemi.

7. Roberto Benigni - Love this guy. Love him. Wonderful in Down by Law, where I understand he met his wife. Funny as hell. Loved him in Night on Earth as the Italian taxi driver talking about fucking pumpkins and sheep until the padre in the back seat has a heart attack!

Who can't love this face? 

8. Isabella Rosselini - she's Italian, right? Gotta be with a name like that! I think the first time I saw her in film was Blue Velvet.

All I can to that is, "Pabst Blue Ribbon!"

Italian Food / Wine

9. Italian wine! *hic* I've heard you might be able to get some really really really good deals on real Italian wine shipped to the states from this place: Garagiste.

Me? I'm a Grocery Outlet $2.99 a bottle gal most nights.

10. Spinach Lasagna - I made my tired, tired hubby make sauce on Monday night. Tuesday I dragged my ass out into the garden and picked the rest of the spinach before it went to seed - 'cause then it's bitter and no good to eat - and trotted back to the kitchen to make spinach lasagna.

Not my spinach lasagna exactly, but close enough.

No, I didn't save a recipe for you. I'm kinda shiftless that way....

Other famous peeps

11. Luciano Pavarotti - Zee opera zinger! Now deceased, but what American who hasn't been living under a rug hasn't heard his voice at least once?

A little PBS will fix that for ya, you know.

12. Michelangelo - verra famous Italian sculptor, artist of the famous Pieta:
The Pieta

What does Pieta mean? I don't know, I'm not Italian, but I think it means, "the passion." Anyway, you have to go to Vatican City to see it.

13. Fabio - No, the blond long-hair types don't really turn me on. But I didn't know that Fabio was also a romance writer! Yep, he wrote 3 romance novels - and posed for the covers of lord knows how many - like this one:

Is there something poking into my back?

Heh heh.

Yep, that's 12 Italian things I really like, and one that kinda makes me feel weird inside....

See you next week!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Buy this book!

Dear Bratty Friends,
One look at this cover, and it's clear this isn't  a YA read!

Here's the info:
The Last Soul
Carolyn Rosewood
Evernight Publishing
ISBN 978-1-926950-43-3
Heat Level 3
Be warned: light bondage and sex toys

Faina has been dead for one hundred and fifty years, but she's about to become human again. All she has to do is seduce Jace Blackmon,the most honest financier ever to grace the city of angels, into signing awayhis soul.

Jace Blackmon has fallen in love with his fantasy woman. But when he realizes she was tricked by a demon to bring about his ruin, including the revelation of a long-buried secret to the media, he must choose between his heart or life without her.

Faina donned a Betsey Johnson flowered dress and wedge sandals, then materialized a few blocks from where Jace worked. It felt so good to be outdoors. The warm air was soothing, the traffic noises and bustling crowds reminding her of New York City. Faina didn't often getnostalgic for her human life, but today she did. If she succeeded in this mission, she'd be human again. Warm weather, noisy crowds and city life would be her reality, not simply the realm in which she was allowed to work.

Unless Mastema had tricked her. No. She wouldn't think about that now. She had a job to do. She took her time, peering in shop windows and trying to look like just another California trust fund babe out for a stroll on a bright summer day. The fact nearly every man pounding the pavement tripped over his own two feet as she strolled past wasn't lost on her. She didn't have the baby face, long blonde curls, and legs up to there for nothing.

She avoided eye contact. It was enough to leave them with her scent, they'd have trouble getting it out of their head for weeks, but to look them in the eyes would be downright cruel. Even when she'd been alive all she'd had to do was turn her baby blues in a man's direction and he followed her around like a dogin heat. She'd made more money for Madame Lily during her first six months than most of her girls made over the course of two years.

As she made her way to the entrance of the 770 Wilshire Building, she caught a whiff of burned toast. She ducked into the nearest shop and pressed her nose to the plate glass window, scanning the crowd for a familiar face. She'd only seen Mastema appear once in human form. He'd looked ridiculous dressed in a long coat and cowboy hat on the streets of Aurora Nebraska, population four thousand two hundred and twenty-five as of last year. His bad-boy Western get-up would have been more appropriate for Arizona in the late nineteenth century.

Either Mastema hadn't been the demon she smelled or he'd already evaporated. The sidewalks were filled with six foot blondes and men who looked like they walked off the cover of GQ. Not a weird outfit or menacing swagger in sight.

"Help you, Miss? You need mani and pedi today? We have new summer colors look perfecton you."

Faina whirled around to face the ancient Vietnamese woman. She'd ducked into a nail salon. Her senses had been so focused on the burnt toast smell and Mastema's human form she hadn't noticed the acrid smell of nail polish.

"No, not today. I'm sorry. I've got to go."

Faina opened the door and strode to the parking garage entrance of the building. On the way a clock struck five. The smell of burnt toast wafted from a nearby taco stand. Had that been what she smelled? Tacos? She was jumping at shadows. That wasn't like her.

She made her way to Jace's sports car by visualizing it. As the flood of workers poured into the garage, she hoped Jace would stay calm when he saw her. She was taking a risk as there would be plenty of witnesses if he wigged out.

He was busy scrolling through messages on his phone as he sauntered to his car,and didn't see her until she stepped in front of him as he was about to open the door.

"Oh Jesus. Holy fu—" His warm brown eyes opened wide and he visibly swallowed. "How did you... you're real. Holy sh*t."

"Get in your car, Jace. People are staring. One of them looks like he's going to take a picture with his cell."

The lie snapped him out of his trance. He unlocked the doors and she slid into the passenger seat. "Start the car but don't move yet."

He stared straight ahead as the engine roared to life. Beads of sweat pooled at his hairline. She could hear his heart pounding. When she reached up to wipe his forehead he moaned. "It's all right, Jace. Just try to relax."

"I don't understand." His voice shook.

"You don't need to. Wait until the garage clears out a bit. Then we'll leave."

"I...I have a dinner date. A family friend. I have to go. I don't want to but… I… I should."

"Do you want me to leave?"

He looked into her eyes with the most desperate longing she'd ever seen on a human face. A flash of apprehension shivered down her spine, unbalancing her. She was going to hurt him. Badly. He'd lose everything. His home, the Foundation, his dinner date, maybe even this fancy sports car. And some kid wouldn't have a place to sleep on a cold, winter night, or a youth group to keep him off the streets.

The men she brought to Mastema were bad-to-the-bone to begin with. They just needed a little help to push them in the right direction. The inevitable direction, as he liked to call it. But Jace Blackmon was a good guy.
Then why does Apollyon want him? But what if he didn't want Jace? What if Jahi was right and Mastema had forged the contract?

"Faina." His whisper pulled her back to the present. Until she had proof to the contrary, it was Jace's soul or her eternal torment as one of Mastema's sex slaves. This was self-preservation. Nothing more.

Shelooked into his eyes and smiled "Yes, Jace?"

"Please don't leave, Faina."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Thursday Thirteen for April 14 - Peeps contest

Dear Bratty Friends,

Every year, come Easter time, when the sugary candy, hollow chocolate bunnies, and plastic Easter baskets fill the aisles, the Seattle Times holds a Peeps contest. What's a peeps contest? Well, it's an art contest using Peeps. (Think Spam carving). Or ...don't, as your sense of good taste permits!

This was my FAVORITE from 2010: Salvador Peepli

That is of the most beautiful pieces of work I've seen since...well. Heck. Yes, I'm a Dali fan!

But wait. This is 2011 and here are 13 of the 448 entries that caught my eye. If they catch yours too, sign up and vote before noon PST on the 14th.

#1 And my 2011 Fav: Black Peep

Gorgeous! Simply lovely!

And Black Swan was a BIG theme this year. Some more demented looking than others ...

And others kind of fluffy....


#2 Another timely piece: Cleopeeptra!

I find that one lovely as well.

#3 Starbucks has been taken over by Peeps! 

Man, I wish I had that cup!

#4 Avapeep, or Peepatar, whichever you may prefer.

Very nicely done! Don't know how they did it, but that they thought of it is way cool!

#5 Peep Corn!

I had to look at that one twice. Yep, it's peeps, not corn. Kinda "corny," but it works!

#6 Remember this TV show? I love the background, the colors, the Peep. Nice work!

#7 Same Peep wedding!

That is just so nice, I liked it twice!

#8 Sherlock Peep and the Peep of the Baskervilles!

I don't know.... maybe it's the bloody footrpints - do Peeps have feet? - or the red-rimmed eyes, but this one puts a stupid grin on my face every time I see it!

#9 Rosie the Riveter Peep.

The caption said, they can do it, even if they don't have arms! Nice. Well, there's hope for all the squishy peeple of the world yet, I suppose. Nice and colorful.

#10 S'mores Peeps.

Peepnuts roasting on an open fire....Melted Peeps and Graham Crackers..... Something seems cannibalistic about melting Peeps, but I'm not sure why. Is this just sick and wrong?

#11 Running of the bulls in Peeplona.

My sister says, "but those are sheep!" I told her it didn't matter. This scene has some good Peep movement in in it, and I say it stays!

#12 Om Peep.

Actually, the caption for this one said, "Peeeeeeeeeeeeeep." That caught my eye!

#13 Here is a mish-mash for you of what's left. First, the Peeps that say, "Ni!" for all you Monty Python fans.

The Peeps have taken over Seattle! Oh no! Save us, Mr. Bill!

One small step for giant leap for Peepkind!

And this one, though I don't like Peeps - gasp! - somehow seems appropriate.

Check out the Seattle Times website this weekend for the winners. Are you keeping your fingers crossed for one in particular?

More later,


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Buy this book!

Still stinging from a stringent management review at her workplace, office girl Susie encounters the very last man she wants to meet when she hits her favorite bar to relax and unwind. Gorgeous Noah Stevens is the ruthless company troubleshooter who's been making her life hell for the past three weeks, but after hours, he soon proves that his dedication to "efficiency" can work wonders in the bedroom.

2,900 words = approx 8 pages

Author's note: This short story originally appeared in the anthology PASSION: Erotic Romance for Women, published by Cleis Press.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A recent duel!

Here was my challenge:
Your challenge should you accept it is: your h/H are on a first date, and his best friend shows up and just won't leave, is it prearranged or not? Please include the yellow pages, index cards, and a hooting train.

And here's my response:

“I know that pizza place is on Pike Street. I just ate there last week.”

“Yeah, well I think you’re jacked. I say it’s on Fifth. And I’m always right.”

“Just a second, I’ll get the Yellow Pages.” Joey pulled a faded, dusty booklet from under the refrigerator and began to thumb through it.

“Gross! You keep it under your fridge?” Kevin asked. “What else is under there?”

“Used condoms, a few pairs of boxer shorts, and your manners, if I’m not mistaken.”

“Hey, I can’t help it if you’re totally disgust-“

“Found it!” Thank God. Now I can get some relief from this jerk. “What do you want? Pepperoni? Hawaiian? Three cheese?”

“I want a diamond ring, a Porsche, and a guy with Wi-Fi for starters. Not some dork with a basement apartment and a moldy old phone book.”

Joey winced as he turned to pick up the phone. “Pepperoni it is.”

“How romantic. We’ll both smell like Italians with all that garlic.”

“I AM Italian, in case you haven’t noticed!” Joey said, flinging his free arm up dramatically in the air. Just then, the line connected. “Yeah. Is Ford working tonight? Great. This is Joey Tuzzolino. Can you tell him to deliver me the Special and hurry? Thanks. Bye.”

Kevin roamed around the small basement apartment looking at knick-knacks, picking up a few, wrinkling his nose, and setting them back down. “What the hell is this?” 

He picked up the 1930’s era Burlington Northern caboose replica – a gift from Joey’s grandfather who’d worked the rails all his life – and pressed the button. The horn hooted and made a chugga-chugga sound.

“Nice toy,” he said, and put it back on the shelf. “And what are these?”

Joey inhaled and told himself help was on the way. “That,” he barely concealed his growing irritation, “is my signed, limited-edition index card set of all the U.S. train lines in history.”

“Oh.” Kevin dropped the stack, and stooped to pick them up.

“They’re priceless.”

“Yeah, well you ought to take better care of them, then.” He reached to put them back on the shelf and knocked over a miniature hurricane lamp. It crashed to the floor and broke. Kevin shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “no biggie.”

The door bell rang, and Joey moved to answer it before he did bodily harm to his supposed date. Despite the lousy circumstances, seeing Ford’s face through the curtain made him smile and his fists uncurl far enough to work the handle.

“Pizza delivery. Nice and hot!” Ford grinned, holding up the steaming box. The scent of pizza mixed with spring evening air wafted into the tiny apartment.

“Just in time. Come on in.”

Ford stepped inside and came face to face with Kevin. “And who’s this? I don’t think we’ve met.”

“Hi, I’m Kevin. Joey’s date.” He said the last word as though he wanted to spit it out quickly because it tasted so bad.

“I see.” Ford handed the box to Joey and sat down on the couch. He rubbed at his temple as though trying to recall something.

“I’ll get us plates.” Joey took the box into the kitchen, leaving Kevin and Ford alone, but only by a few feet. His apartment was so small that a mouse would have been comfortable. He could still see the men’s faces as he moved around the kitchen.

“Are you the Kevin that works at Underhill’s Furniture Store?” Ford asked.

“I was,” Kevin shrugged. “Until I got fired two weeks ago.”

“And where do you work now?”

“Nowhere really, but I’ve been filling in as a bouncer at Club Jock on the weekends. Why?”

Ford’s face didn’t really show it, but Joey instantly picked up on the increased tension in the man’s body language, and watched as a sinking feeling hit his stomach. Oh no.

“Were you working last Saturday night?” Ford asked.

“Oh. You mean the big fight? Yeah,” Kevin puffed out his chest, acting tough. “I was. Taught those assholes a thing or two.” He grinned proudly at Joey. “Sent one of them to the hospital I hear.”

Joey waited until Kevin turned away to shoot Ford a concerned wide-eyed look. Those were two of my best friends you beat up for no good reason jerk-off, he wanted to say out loud, but Ford stopped him with a gentle shake of his head. Before he could think about it, he grabbed a third plate. “You’re staying for pizza, right, Ford?”

Kevin looked flustered. “What is this? Some kind of kinky three-way pizza delivery? I mean, if you guys want it that bad…”

Joey gave his eyes a quick roll as he handed Ford his plate.

“Nah,” Ford said, tossing a protective arm over the back of the couch as Joey took a seat next to him. “It’s the end of my shift, that’s all.”

In his head, Joey counted up the hundreds of dollars he’d owe Ford for sticking around. He figured for four hours work, with wages and tips he’d owe him at least $300. Still, he’d consider it money well spent not to have to suffer an evening alone with Kevin. He was already thankful for Ford’s presence.

Kevin set down his pizza, walked over to the couch, and grabbed the collar of Ford’s shirt. He hauled Ford up so they stood eye to eye and glared at him. “Well, you’re not exactly wanted here, pizza boy. You see, Joey and I are on a date.”

“Not anymore.” Joey growled. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Movie review: Knight and Day

Dear Bratty Friends,

I recently watched Knight and Day with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz after reading on another blog that though it got mediocre reviews, it wasn't so bad (sorry, can't remember which one). Well, here is my take on it, story-wise.

I thought it was fluffy, yes, and it was also full of non-stop action, yes, but - from a story standpoint, PP1 and PP2 were decidedly different.

You see, I think after watching this film, that PP1 occurs at about 40 minutes into the movie, where Diaz's character begins to really trust and feel comfortable around Cruz - who everyone has told her crazy, a rouge agent, and a danger to her person. Now, that's odd to me, for a shoot 'em up flick, to have "trust" be the game-changer, the element that propels the story forward, especially since this is basically

1. an abduction story line
2. they don't have much choice besides being together.

Then, at around the 1 hour, 8 minutes mark, we have the set-up for the reversal scene that immediately follows. Diaz no longer trusts him, so she turns in Cruz to his own people. She goes home, goes back to her life, and then..... she changes her mind and sets in a motion a plan to find him.

That Diaz's character's resolution directly involves her trust in Cruz is borne out in the dialog and her actions. At the very end, her mimicking his earlier dialog and style shows that she has become like him, has now taken on the role of being his protector and is no longer an abductee but an abductor!

Watch it and see what you think. It's not a deep film by any means, but the message was perhaps too subtle for some viewers!

More later,