Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Nine More Days

Nine more days til the first game of World Cup!!!

While I'm not happy about injuries that pulled Frankie Hejduk off the National Team, I'll confess to being thrilled that Chris Albright made it on. And I get to see Carlos Bocanegra play again. I haven't seen him much since he went to the Premiership (not that I begrudge him that awesome recognition of his talent.)

Our line up:

Goalkeepers: Marcus Hahnemann, Tim Howard, Kasey Keller (I love watching him work, but if I ever get within two feet of him, I'm gonna smack that frickin' wad of gum out of his mouth. Drives me nuts)

Defenders: Chris Albright, Gregg Berhalter, Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, Jimmy Conrad, Eddie Lewis, Oguchi Onyewu (one to watch), Eddie Pope

Midfielders: DaMarcus Beasley (simply incredible), Bobby Convey, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Pablo Mastroeni, John O’Brien, Ben Olsen, Claudio Reyna

Forwards: Brian Ching, Eddie Johnson (great player), Brian McBride, Josh Wolff (he makes it look easier than it is)

Even if you don't like soccer (you poor clueless thing) enjoy these:
(This isn't the SO, but I love to tease him about it.) (Soccer GODS!. Thanks for the head's up *giggle. snort* Ness!) (Gotta love those Brazillian guys) (More smexy Brazilian players)

Monday, May 29, 2006

The "Are You of the Geeze" Test

Mo from one of the forums was in town, so we gathered for a WeHo pub crawl last night.

Our waiter at the Brazilian place was a lovely drag queen - alas wearing a work uniform that lacked any glamour. It just seems wrong to stick someone who can be fabulous in something as mundane as a t-shirt and black pants. But hey, we all gotta work, right? She had on great silver hoop earrings that looked fantastic against her long neck. I have no talent for it, but I sure notice when someone wears bracelets and rings of all styles and sizes and somehow makes it work together.

Maybe not only in LA, but damn rare anywhere else - a tall, thin older guru type with waist length dreds who spun a prayer wheel while he waited for his table. I should have checked to see if he got seated faster. Any edge in getting a table is appreciated.

We went to The Abbey next. The martini menu was impressive. So was the mojito menu. I went for a vodka martini, three olives. Comfort food. The Abbey was crowded with people trying to be seen and the music sucked, but we had a great time trying to figure out who would inspire missed connections posts on Monday. Honestly, since I'm evil and lazy, if I were looking for someone, I'd simply post random missed connections describing what I'd like to meet and see who hit me up. I'd save a ton of money on cover charges, and wouldn't have to deal with WeHo parking. Not that I'm looking. But if I ever am....

After we toured the Abbey, checked out the beds, and hit every bar inside, Mo said she wanted to dance. We hiked over to Rage. Now, I warned them that my dancing was like Elaine from Seinfeld - a full body dry heave. Did that stop them from herding me towards the dance floor? Did it stop me from willingly going to the dance floor? No. One martini wasn't enough of an excuse to please diminished capacity, so I'll admit that I simply wanted to dance. And there's nothing as fun as getting to grind against some hot girls who are out to have a good time. Sometimes I just closed my eyes and absorbed the (as Mo called it) thumpa-thumpa fag music.

I had a great time watching the hottie go-go boys on stage. It must have been theme night, because they had on tight baseball pants slung way low, beaters shoved up high on their chests, and baseball caps. Boy Cubbie was getting led off to the bathrooms about twice an hour. Alas, no takers for Boy Dodger.

After a couple hours, I was done for. Some nighthawk. I packed it in right after midnight, so maybe I am of the geeze. Sigh. I headed out of the club just as the line to get in got serious. But as my excuse, I do have obligations today. I need all my wits for this one. As I explained to Vish (another of our group) I have ringside seats to a family brawl today, and the unfortunate thing about family fights that have been festering for twenty years is that you must be present to win.

Friday, May 26, 2006

But Where Do My Hands Go?

I quit smoking a week ago. I've been sort of fine with it, but I can't figure out what to do with my hands. Shove them in my pockets? Take up ASL? Go for this pose?

And there were all those other lovely uses for my cigarettes too. I could sneak out to the smoke hole to hang with the cool kids. They were the key to my escape strategy. "While spending the past hour trapped in this corner and listening to you soliloquize about your dissertation on the Freudian symbolism in Ibsen's play, Hedda Gabbler, was simply fascinating, I must excuse myself for a smoke." They were my comfort, my reward for surviving stress. Not to mention the extemporaneous haiku I traded them for one memorable night.

I do miss it.

Maybe I'll pretend I still smoke. I'll still get to hang with my favorite people as they puff away. I'll still have an excuse to flee parties. I just won't have the cigarette.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Power of Books

I’m ashamed that I had to be reminded of this, but…

Recently, I was working on funding an elementary school special needs teacher’s grant proposal. He sent me a sample of the books he wanted to make for his students. I wasn’t impressed. Remember, this was for elementary kids, so bear with the basic language here.

This is Timmy’s book. (picture of Timmy)
Timmy will keep his hands to himself today. (or whatever the behavior problem is)
When Timmy does not keep his hands to himself, his friends are sad. (picture of sad friends)
His teacher is sad. (picture of slightly pissy looking teacher)
Mrs. Principal is very sad. (more pictures of grumpy staff)
When Timmy keeps his hands to himself, his friends are happy. (smiling kids)
His teacher is happy. (well, happier)
His parents are happy. (happy, happy, happy Mom and Dad)
And Timmy is happy. (Happy Timmy surrounded by happy friends)

My first thought was, “Yeah, right.” But since I’m not a teacher and not in education and I know nothing about this kind of stuff, I didn’t trust my snarky attitude. I called someone who is a special needs teacher and I asked, “Is this for real? Does it work?” The answer, a definitive Yes.

That's when I felt my moment of shame. As a writer, I should understand better than most people how powerful it is to see yourself in a book. No matter how many stories are out there, there’s always a voice that hasn’t been heard or an experience that hasn’t been shared. We need to get stories into the hands of people who are reaching out for something that speaks to them. This was a wake-up call to me to be more proactive about supporting small presses, alternative voices, and especially GBLT literature. For many people, finding themselves in a book is a lifeline. It’s validation. It’s an epiphany. It’s hope. That’s true if you’re a white middle class average Joe, a young black southerner, a gay Aleutian grandmother, or even a kid who has impulse control problems.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

More Long Beach Pride

Blogger won't let me post more than six pictures, so I had to split them up.

Brendon and Edward wanted this sign. And these Bacardi boys.

These photos are by far my favorites from the day:

Long Beach Pride

I spent the day hanging with old and new friends at the Long Beach Pride festival.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Lambda Awards

D. Travers Scott picked up a Lambda Award for his mystery, One Of These Things Is Not Like the Other. He is one of the nicest guys on earth, and he writes a damn fine novel. I owe you a celebratory drink when you get back in town, Trav.

Also exciting to hear - Ali Liebegott won in her category for her incredible work The Beautifully Worthless. This book deserved recognition.

Eventually, the full list of 2006 winners will be listed here:

Friday, May 19, 2006

SAS, Final Day

Ah, the sweet lure of a double espresso first thing in the morning. Good thing they set out a trail for me to follow.

Sunday panels are always a bit of a blur. Sad, but true. The last panel I attended was sort of the "and everything else"” panel for gender queers, but at least by then my brain had kicked in and I could follow the conversation. Immediately following that was the closing reception.

(The Bourbon Pub/Parade)

We were in the upstairs club at the Bourbon Pub/Parade. I know why they do it, but it was a little disconcerting that a hundred people were about to descend on the place, I really had to pee, there were no doors on the stalls, and the bathroom was unisex. However, intrepid pee-er that I was, I went boldly where a million men have gone before, and ended up having the best laugh of the entire weekend.

I was in the last stall. Someone went into the stall next to me - and started talking to me!! (WTF? Serious breech of bathrooom etiquette there)

I immediately recognized her voice as the post-op MTF redhead from Florida I met the day before at one of the panels. She complained about the lack of privacy.

ME: Yeah, I'’d pay serious money to be able to stand while I pee about right now.

HER: Not me, honey, I paid a ton of money to have to sit to pee.

ME: Bwahahahahahahahahaha!

Thoroughly enjoying the beautiful absurdity of the moment, I launched into a short rendition of I Enjoy Being a Girl” from Flower Drum Song. Had her cracking up. Best bathroom moment, ever!

Sean Meriwether (wearing glasses)

SAS Day 2, Part 2

Circus Maximus, billed as an exotic circus-themed party featuring Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Cunningham and Scissor Sisters' lead singer Jake Shears to benefit for NO/AIDS Task Force and Saints & Sinners Literary Festival was the big party Saturday night. I wanted to go to Trebor Healey's poetry reading, but those conflicted with Tainted Love, performed by the premiere drag troupe of the Gulf Coast (can you tell I'm borrowing right from their ad?), the New Orleans Carnival Kings. I couldn't pass that up. Besides, Skian McGuire, Jolie du Pre, and Sacchi Green were going, and they were the people I most wanted to hang with that night.

We had a blast. The play/musical Tainted Love featured some hot Drag Kings, great music, and some sharp political dialog.

(Members of the audience dancing with the cast)

On our way to a gathering afterwards, our party got absorbed into another down by the pool at Oliver House, a French Quarter hotel.

I finally got a chance to chat with Amie Evans. She's charming. I enjoyed her story about a trip to what she called Catholic Disneyland up in Quebec. Some day I'll have to ask to see the picture of her in her Marilyn Monroe pose on the cross.

Here's an excellent writer's conference question - is it a good idea to talk to an editor you might submit a novel to after your forth or fifth wine of the evening? I did anyway. Joe Pittman was very nice. (He even opened another bottle of wine for me)

This is the best part about writer's conferences - sitting around talking with other writers. Listening to the banter and talk about the business side of writing was a pure joy for me.

Charles Flowers of Lambda Literary Foundation very sweetly made sure I was included in the conversation. Gotta love a man willing to wear a Piggly Wiggly shirt. Thomas Keith of New Directions Publishing did an excellent Maggie Smith imitation, and playwright Kathleen Wanock shared some great New York stage stories. It was my great luck to end up next to Ron Suresha for most of the evening. I could have talked to him for hours, and did.

A little after 1AM I decided that I needed to toddle off to bed. I hated to leave the party, but I couldn't keep up with the conversations any more. It was a perfect evening.

SAS Day 2, Part 1

One of the strengths, and sources of frustration, of SAS is the Saturday schedule of panels. In every time slot, there were at least two panels I wanted to go to, and sometimes I also had a friend doing a reading during that time. Choosing wasn't easy.

My only slightly grumpy complaint is the lack of a real lunch break. It was hard finding places to serve a quick meal, and most of them didn't open until much later in the day. They simply don't have enough workers to stay open that many hours. Lunch of champions: diet coke and a package of peanut butter crackers.

First schedule conundrum: How to Impress an Editor, or Short Stories as Literary Sprints? Short stories won out. While I still wish I could have gone to the other, I had gone to a master class on the subject the day before, and I'm getting the idea that the best way to impress an editor is to act like a professional business person. Period.

Next conflict: Writing about Spirituality and Queerness or Diversity Among Today's Erotica Writers. You'd think that would be an obvious choice, but a lot of my writing examines spirituality. Religion is endlessly fascinating. Plus I am now catching on to Skian Maguire's work and feel a real connection to his themes of spirituality. However, since I work mostly in erotica, and because I not-so-secretly worship Ian Philips, the erotica panel won out. (And doesn't Ian look spiffy in his silky shirt?)

What Makes a Book Gay or Writing Across Genres? While Dan Boyle is possibly the most charismatic writer I've ever met, I couldn't pass up a chance to hear Poppy Z. Brite speak. She said, "I've written gay characters, but I've never thought of the books themselves as being gay. Do they have an orientation?" Besides, I love to hear Joe Pittman, David Rosen, Steven Saylor and Michelle Tea talk on any subject.

And the last panels of the day: The New Flavor of Gay and Lesbian Romance, Dealing with Writer's Block, or a reading? I promised fellow ERWA writer Ellen Tevault that I would be there for her reading. She was nervous and wanted a friendly face in the crowd. I hated giving up either one of the other panels, but hey, I promised. Yes, even I can act like an adult.
(Sometimes that requires steadfastly refusing to glance in Greg Herren's direction despite the almost overwhelming temptation. I don't know what it is about him, but he draws out my gleefully wicked side. Worse, I seem to bring it out in him too. I haven't figured out if he's the bad influence or if I am.) I also got to hear Poppy Z. Brite read her story that will be included in the Love Bourbon Street anthology, as well as Greg Herren, Dan Boyle, Caro Soles, and Robert Taylor.

There was just enough time for a quick nap before the evening started. Next up: Drag Kings and Tainted Love!!!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Saints and Sinners Day 1, Part 2

Ambush Magazine hosted the much anticipated opening night reception.
Just a bit down Bourbon Street from Oz and the Bourbon Pub and Parade, this two story townhouse is the perfect spot for an intimate party.

While Saints and Sinners is writer-centric, it’s also great for those of us who are fans of a lot of GBLT writers. Everyone is approachable. A lot of people do readings, which is especially nice if you like poetry.

The downstairs atrium was shoulder to shoulder, so I spent some time out on the sidewalk with Trebor Healey discussing the possible origins of his fab shirt. (I think we settled on the rare Velourian Blue Leopard.) Amie Evans was resplendent in her outfit (Does she know how to dress for a cocktail party or what? And look at those shoes!)

Once the upstairs was open, the pack downstairs thinned out a bit, so we headed inside. The upstairs of Ambush’s headquarters has a beautiful parlor and a dining room that opens onto a balcony overlooking Bourbon Street. I saw Jim McDonough of Queerwriters.Com, a great source for queer writers, but simply couldn’t work my way through the crowd on the balcony to say hi.

I chatted with Sean Meriwether for a bit. He’s the man behind Velvet Mafia, which features some of the best online boy smut around.

I just heard about Scott & Scott’s line of books a couple months ago, but after talking with those charming gentleman, I’ll have to give one of their books a read.

My real aim for the night was hooking up with Jolie du Pre. I've known her through ERWA, and now GLBT promo, for years, but it was the first time we met. She is a joy - smart, outspoken, beautiful, and so energetic. It was a great pleasure to introduce her to the few people I knew.

We went upstairs and said hi to Michelle Tea, Ian Philips, Radclyffe, and Paul Willis. Paul organizes Saints and Sinners and what a fantastic job he does. I don’t know where he gets the energy to run the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival and then turn around and do Saints and Sinners a couple weeks later, and still be so gracious. I asked him how the turn-out was this year, and he said despite Katrina, attendance had grown.

Fantastic party, fantastic crowd. Put this on your schedule next year so you won't miss out.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Saints and Sinners Day 1, Part 1

Friday is the first day of Saints and Sinners. It’s set aside for master classes. If you decide to go, I strongly urge you to go to those as well as the weekend panels.

Aime M. Evans and Toni Amato led a class on revising your work. This class, more than any other, is responsible for my state of exhaustion through the weekend. Amie and Toni made me want to dive right back into my manuscript and work on everything they talked about. I couldn't do that, but that didn't stop me from thinking about changes I wanted to make long after I should have fallen asleep at night.

Radclyffe, of Bold Strokes Books, and Greg Herren led the next session. It's always interesting to hear what editors agree on, and how they differ. Everything comes down to being a professional and paying very close attention to submission guidelines. That can’t be said often enough, because for every time I hear that same advice I also hear a submission horror story from an editor. Greg put it very well when he said "you're sending out a job application for your story."

Between classes, I met with Justine Saracen for a quick burger at Yo Mamas. Her first novel, The 100th Generation, was released that day by Bold Strokes books. I got to be the first person to buy it, and the first person she signed a book for. I met her last year when she was a runner up for the first Project Queer Lit, and it was so exciting to see the progression of her success.

We were a bit late for Steven Saylor's session. I have to be honest in that I didn't learn much, but he was interesting and entertaining, and my brain was still in high gear from the first class, so I’m not sure how much would have sunk in by then.

After that, I rushed back to my hotel, rested for a bit, and then headed out for the much anticipated Welcome Reception hosted by Ambush Magazine. I'll post a seperate entry for that.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Saints and Sinners Eve

The first question everyone asks about New Orleans is, "What’s it like?" And I suppose what they truly want is lurid details about massive destruction. They want to hear about block after city block were there are no people. Where it's quiet. Where boats on sidewalks are a political issue, not public art.

Here is what they should know: Government at every level is still FAILING. A huge hidden underclass was spread around the US in a Diaspora that we're supposed to ignore, because those people were invisible to begin with, and voiceless, and now they don't even have political mass behind them. They are ghosts now, even though they're still alive. They left behind ghost neighborhoods. I can't think of a more brutally efficient way to get around that pesky One Person, One Vote issue. If you don't have a home, you can't vote, and you've been silenced.

But this blog, and this entry, isn't about that.

So let me tell you what it's like to be in the French Quarter in May. A cool breeze just picked up from the river and changed the temperature from a little too warm to absolute perfection, it's twilight, and I'm too busy not doing anything to bother checking my watch. Someone is locking the wrought iron gates around Jackson Square.

City cats slink in through the gaps in the fence and plop down on sidewalks still warm from the sun. They stare back out as us, insolent as only cats can be. They laze, confident that we and other predators can not get to them until the gates are unlocked in the morning.

Tarot readers and street performers pack it in for the night. The Cathedral bells rang earlier but are silent now. Past pirate's alley, the guy supposedly dealing art, but actually passing small blue packages for folded twenties, is quietly assessing his business opportunities. He decides that we're of no interest. We decide the same about him. We nod good evening to each other and pass on.

On the other side of Jackson Square, we catch a mule drawn carriage for a tour of the quarter. We huddle together and snicker into hands cupped over our mouths at the rather dubious history lesson. It doesn't matter, in the end, even if it is a big lie. We thoroughly enjoy ourselves.

It is Thursday and the streets are empty. The quarter should be shaking off the day and getting down to serious business, but it feels as if it's gone to sleep.

Even though we're way underdressed, we go to Irene's. Last year we waited well over two hours for a table, and I knew waiter who bumped us up the list. This year we only have to wait forty minutes even though the waiter I knew is still in exile in Houston. I want to order the duck. If you've ever watched Steve Martin's LA Story, you know why ordering duck in a white linen tablecloth kind of restaurant is fraught with hazard, but I ask for it anyway. Hilarity does not ensue, thank goodness. The food isn't as good as last year, nor is the service, but it's still pretty damn nice. I recognize men at the next table as being Saints and Sinners participants, but I can't remember their names, so I don't chat with them. Time for that when I’m working. For now, I’m on vacation.

We take our time strolling back towards our hotel. There are no go-go boys dancing at Oz, the sidewalks are passable, and even though it's well after eleven by now, the quarter still seems as if it's holding it's breath for something before it starts. Bourbon Street always reeks of beer and piss and puke - the stink of tourists- but the smell is almost subdued tonight. We go to the Preservation Hall for a set of jazz. I slump down a bit in my seat and close my eyes and nod to a bluesy progression from a saxophone. I exhale cigarette smoke towards the ceiling fan. I sip a vodka martini, icy and perfect against the lingering heat of the day. I let the music and the alcohol and the night work their way into my blood until the cadence of life around me makes prefect sense. It no longer feels as if anything is waiting. Everything is go, go, go. This is a nighttime kind of city, and the night is just getting under way. And now I'm smiling, content like a Jackson Square cat.

That's what it's like to be in NO right now.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Where Ideas Come From

Today on one of the forums I visit, I was accused of using the chat there are fodder for sexual fantasies. While it's laughable, because of the nature of conversations in that forum, and because of who I am as a person, I guess it points out that people have no idea where writers get their stories.

In my entire life, there's only been one snippet of conversation I've overheard that I've wanted to use in a story. At a racetrack, two young boys - maybe ten or twelve.

BOY 1: How much longer you stuck here for?

BOY 2: *shrugs* Dad's down to his last five bucks, so it's either a beer or a bet, and we're out of here.

BOY 1: Unless he wins.

BOY 2: *rolls his eyes* I shoulda asked him for money for food when we got here. I'm starving.

Now that's dialog that can drive a story. Real life isn't usually so raw and exposed in succint snippets like that. And I don't typically start from a quip or a piece of dialog. I begin with an abstract idea, like exploring identity, family, regret, or the nature of fantasy and work from there. For erotic pieces, the sex comes last, because it has to reveal the characters, and you can't reveal until you create. Sometimes stories are driven be a call for submissions. I've sworn off writing for submission for a while though. I've never been remotely tempted to use a forum thread for a story - mostly because they're bits of commentary on pop culture without a lot of substance. Fun? Hell yes. Sex fantasy stuff? Hardly. Unless you get turned on by a putdown fight between Madonna and Mariah Carey fans. Or by a discussion about why a pair of shoes is simply wrong. Or last night's American Idol.

I'm not writing at all right now. I'm reading. While I'm in my reading cycle, I go through at least five books a week. That lasts about six weeks, then I'm burned out.

When I return to writing, I won't "accidentally" lift entire passages from things I've read, as happened in a recent famous case of plagiarism. I wouldn't dream of it- any more than I would think of taking the private lives of people I know socially and use that as fodder for fantasies. I feel that's morally wrong. But of course, no one ever asks. They simply accuse.

I wish they'd come up with something more original than a poisoned pen letter. Or at least have the guts to put their real name to their accusations. But those types never do, do they? Ah well. Back to the forum.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Gearing Up for Saints and Sinners

This time, instead of packing for New Orleans twenty minutes before the cab arrives, I thought I'd take care of it days ahead of time. I've gone through my clothes, trying to find a specific pair of pants I want to take. I would ask the SO if he's seen them, but I know what will happen. He'll say, "They're in your closet." I'll say, "No they aren't. I checked three times." Then he'll reach in and the first hanger he'll touch will be the pants. The only thing I hate more than someone who's always right is someone who can prove it while I'm standing there looking like an idiot.

I take notes frantically during the master classes and panels because there's so much going on and so much great information that my brain goes into overload by the second hour. I still refer back to my notes from last year and always find something interesting that I'd forgotten.

I'm going through my writer's lists and forums today to figure out who I've promised to meet. While in NO, I'll go through that charming ritual of staring at people's nametags while I try to match the name with the reason I recognize it. I'm also pouring over the schedule and trying to pick between panels to attend. As usual, for any given time slot there are at least two panels I want to go to.

Last year, I didn't take much time out for music. This year I will. The SO and I have slightly different tastes in jazz, but there are so many places to listen that I'm sure we can find a band we like, a cold drink, and a comfortable table to sit at as we watch the rest of the world wander by.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Garden of the Perverse

My contributor's copy of Garden of the Perverse came in the mail yesterday. There's nothing as satisfying as having a book in my hands that's partially mine.*

*until I sell one that's all mine

Kate Dominic's Fences or The Story of Prince Rupert the Not-Particularly-Handsome is funny, but also serves as a cautionary tale for people who presume to force their morals on others. In Virgin Ear by Donna Storey, men's cocks give away their secrets to woman with magical hearing. Sharon Wachsler's Sappenschwester is a sharp, funny modern tale of a woman's quest for higher education. Pipe of Thorns by Remittance Girl is a tale of opium dreams and erotic horror.

There are Princesses, ogresses, magical beings, and shapeshifters aplenty through these tales. Most are told in fairy-tale fashion, but there are exceptions. Morals are sometimes openly stated, others are left to your interpretation. (In case it isn't obvious, the moral of She Comes Stars is Be Careful What You Ask For in Your Personals Ad.) With stories by Cynthia Ward, Catherine Lundoff, Lisabet Sarai, Seneca Mayfair, M. Christian and Sage Vivant, you're bound to find a tale perverse enough to suit your tastes.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Rose of No Man's Land

When we were in San Francisco, I went to Michelle Tea's reading for Rose of No Man's Land. Now that I've read it, the catering by Hot Dog On A Stick makes a lot more sense.

Rose of No Man's Land is one of those rare books that shows the life of working class lesbians. Tired of reading about people with fabulous lives doing fabulous things while wearing stunning fashions, this was a good change of pace. Fourteen-year-old Trisha is an alcoholic and no adult around her seems to care. The mother is a couchbound hypochondriac and the mother's boyfriend is an unambitious thief. The best thign Trisha can say for him is that he hasn't molested her. Her older sister is wrapped up in a fantasy of becoming a reality TV star and wants to make Trisha over as a girly girl - goals that are misguided and doomed to failure. When Trisha fails spectacularly at being a mall girl, she runs into Rose, who works at a low end foodcourt place a lot like Hot Dog On A Stick. Rose is everything Trisha wants to be - tough, confident, and a genuine loner. Rose and Trisha take off for the seaboard, a short trip that blows Trisha's small world wide open. With quick drama that only teenagers seem to be able to stomach, Trisha crushes on Rose, has her first sexual experience, feels betrayed, and breaks up all in one day. Anyone who has been a teenager can relate. But it makes you glad you're grown up now.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

TV Worth Watching

I'm not a big fan of TV. I got out of the habit of sitting in front of it, so now it seems like such a time vacuum. But, the niecelets were over, and faced with the threat of having to make conversation with me over dinner, they instantly reached for the remote. I feared something girly and was prepared to exercise my arbitrary veto power, but they put on a show called Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel.

The Mythbusters look at an urban myth or a scene from a movie and test to see if it can happen. This is science for show, but they do take a hypothesis, set up an experiment to test it, observe, and report the results. Geek heaven. But it gets better! They blow things up, drop them from incredible heights, and set them on fire -- on purpose!!!! (Taking full safety precautions and 'Don't try this at home blah blah blah') How brilliant is that? I'm hooked.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Mardi Gras Mambo

I'm in the reading phase of my writing cycle. When my writing energy wanes, or I feel that everything I'm writing is crap, I indulge in marathon reading sessions. This lull in writing hit at a good time, because I still have a huge stack of books from my San Francisco trek. However, I have my priorities, and the first of those is to be entertained. So Greg Herren's Mardi Gras Mambo, the third book in his Scotty Bradley mystery series, went right to the top of the pile.

I love a good mystery. Greg delivers another one in this book. This time, the mystery centers around the Bradley family's secrets. The murder of Scotty's drug dealer sets him on an investigation that keeps coming back to an uncomfortable truth: that even people we think we know well have hidden lives and agendas. Scotty finds out that his parents have withheld information about his grandfather's secret second family. That doesn't sit well with Scotty, because he was raised to believe that his family was open and honest. But his parents aren't the only ones holding back the truth, and as bodies start piling up around Scotty, more people who are close to him reveal their secrets. Some are devastating betrayals, but some repair strained relationships. I don't want to say any more about the twists and turns this story takes, because that's all the fun of reading a mystery.

There are several things that make this book enjoyable. Scotty loves life, and his irrepressible determination to enjoy himself makes him unique as a detective. Greg's love of New Orleans simply shines through the book, and he makes you want to love his city too. And, of course, it's a damn good mystery with well paced action and humor that keep you turning pages right to the end.

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Personalized Hell

'Ness posted this on one of my discussion forums, and since I'm in a lazy mood, I decided to swipe the idea from her.

Hell, personalized for my displeasure

Remember, your answers are your worst case scenario:

1. One movie which you are forced to watch over and over again 12 hrs/day.
2. One song which you get to listen to over and over again for the other 12 hrs/day.
3. One drink.
4. One food item.
5. You have to take care of an animal that creeps you out. What is it?
6. You only get one outfit, which you must wear all the time. What is it?
7. Any other item you can think of that would make the experience even worse.

My answers:

1. Disney's Cinderella. Oxygen thief. Doormat. One shove on Lady Tremaine down that sweeping staircase, and Cindy's problems would have been solved. What a wuss.

2. Something from Whitney...Celine... Whiney...Celine... hmmm. Part of my problem here is that while I imagine I'd hate songs by them, I don't actually know any and can't name one. What would be truly terrible was if it was a song I loved but the sheer repetition made me hate it. In that case, I pick Nina Simone's version of Mood Indigo.

3. Whatever it is they give to the Girls Gone Wild chicks, because if I ever show my tits to drunk white frat boys for a rope of cheesy beads, put my arms in the air, and shout "whoo-hoo," I'll know I'm in hell.

4. Banana Moon Pies. I have this love-hate relationship with artificial banana flavoring. Plus I've never been able to eat a whole moon pie without puking, and I seriously hate puking.

5. This one threw me. Have to take care of it? What happens if I don't? It dies? But then I win, because the creepy animal isn't around anymore. When we lived in Oklahoma, I once saw a praying mantis in the backyard. Bastard was tracking me. Plus, they can fly. *shivers* Upside? Splat! They're small enough that I can take it down if I need to.

6. My initial answer was a thong bikini, but in hell, that might be a good idea. My new choice is a wedding dress. No, wait - a bridesmaid dress!!!! A cousin who shall remain nameless (Annalissa) once stuck me in a lime chiffon hoop skirt with white gloves, white shoes, and a floppy white hat when I was one of her junior bridesmaids. Luckily, planning for this faux Gone With the Wind tableau lasted longer than the marriage, so all pictorial evidence of me in that dress was destroyed. I get additional eternal damnation points for wearing pantyhose.

7. Pops is sitting next to me and wants to tell me about his erectile dysfunction problems. Again.

So, what's your hell?

(And thank you 'Ness)