Friday, April 10, 2009

The valiant hunter returns

Okay, so I wanted the next Dante Valentine book from Lilith Saintcrow. Not want. Need. Desired. Felt an overwhelming compulsion to have. So I went to the Halfie. They only had the 5th book (which I took). I went to the mega-Halfie; the second book of the Jill Kismet series – which was nice. But not what I was looking for, seeing as I haven't read the first one yet (took it anyway).

I was crushed. So, in desperation I went to the snobby Halfie (all the sales people have a case of the snoots because they’re in a snazzy part of town, not seeming to realize they work in a used book store, puhlease).

I found books 2, 3 and 4. Completes the set, thank you very much. That’s right. Shake it to the left! Shake it to the right! How ya like me now? I nearly tied all of them to the hood of my truck, and drove home honking my horn. And they had the first book of the Kismet series. Oh, yeah. I am the used book NINJA!

And now, the end is near

Well, Sunday is Easter. And that marks the end of my pseudo-Lenten fast. Meat will be back on the plate. Yeah, if anyone was thinking I was going to have some sort of vegetarian awakening . . . no. Just no. But I did learn a few things.

One is that it would be possible for me to be a vegetarian. If something made it necessary, I could do it. Not happily, but it would be within my power. I was able to manage all the protein, vitamin and mineral concerns in the short-term. And I think I could manage in the long-term. I think I’ll come out of this more convinced of going the flexiterian direction. Not eliminating meat entirely; just moving it from the base of my diet towards the pointy end of the pyramid.

Another realization that I came to was that vegetarianism is a pain in the ass. I knew this vaguely before. But now I have a full comprehension of the amount of thought that has to go into everything you buy, order and put in your mouth. All respect to the Veggies. Actually, the fact that I am a meat eater made it easier. I was always conscious of what I wasn’t having, so I never really had the opportunity to lapse. A friend who joined me on the no-face-food cruise, who is only a reluctant meat eater, had an easier time of it, but goofed more than I did. She actually had a fish sandwich in her hand before she remembered. For me, it was more of a case of scanning every thing I bought, checking to see if the vegetable soup was made with beef broth, or the salad had bacon bits. I really don’t want to think about what I eat to that extent.

And I think that this year has confirmed that the practice of giving something up for a stretch is good for me. (And bless the Catholics for having a pre-fab holiday that I can glom onto.) I spend too much of my life thoughtless. My Lent adventures really pop me out of that and make me consider my life in different ways. Things tend to echo in vast open spaces. I need to take the time to make room in my life for those echoes.

No, I won’t be going off the deep end on Sunday. I haven’t ordered a side of beef or anything. (Though the thought does have its appeal.) I’ve been warned that I need to take it easy. Stomach issues, you know. But if you were wondering, yes, this Sunday, there will be blood. (Oh, that was a bit gruesome. Pardon. My fangs were showing.)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

oh ma gaw;_ylt=AucEbTUfvvSESwk2jsjJgD5xFb8C

Pinch me. Liam Neeson AND Ralph Fiennes BOTH in the Clash of the Titans remake? Is this a result of some deal they made with the Devil in order to be in Schindler's List? I love CotT, but damn. Schindler . . . Clash of the Titans. Oscar nominated holocaust movie with Steven Spielberg . . . a remake of a movie that featured Harry Hamlin's waxed chest. I mean, Laurence Olivier was in the original. But he was drunk.

This now has the potential to be either the worst good movie ever made, or the best bad movie ever made. Either way, I am SO there.

Don't load up the truck just yet, Granny

I think I’ve finally figured it out. Sarah Palin doesn’t realize that she’s trailer trash. And possibly some parts of America haven’t caught on yet either. But I was born in a trailer. I can smell it. Don't get me wrong. There’s no shame in my game. I own my roots. But obviously she’s in some sort of deluded fugue state in which she can’t see the pink flamingos and shotgun shell Santas.

To review the evidence - She has a veritable passel of kids. She goes to a Holy Roller church that is about one service away from snake handling. Her oldest is a teenager, who is pregnant, by a man who can’t hold a construction job, and his mother is on the hillbilly heroin. Sarah P. shoots animals from a helicopter, which is the rich cracker form of frog gigging. The woman is a Clampett.

And the biggest sign that she’s trailer trash? She doesn’t know when to shut up. She’s now engaged in a he said/she said with her daughter’s baby daddy. I’m fully expecting to see them on an episode of Cops, with her in a bathrobe and a kid on each hip on the front lawn of the Alaska governor’s mansion with a Kool hanging out of her mouth, yelling at Levi Johnson that they’re going to “lock your bleep ass up!”

And she doesn't seem to realize that while they may like her dirt road cred with middle America, the Republicans will never forgive a case of diarrhea of the mouth. She still seems to think that despite a track record that would put Anna Nicole's E! True Hollywood Story to shame, that she still has a shot at 2012. Don't let the last Republican scion fool you, Ms. Palin. George W. Bush may have acted like trailer trash on occasion, but he was really a rich boy slumming. Republicans may like their states red, but they prefer their blood blue.

Downed Lines of Communication

I’m without pay-tv this week (a long, stupid story that ends with my satellite dish laying on its side on the patio and cable being installed on Saturday). Which is fine. I’ve got a nice stack of books to keep me amused. And I’ve got a friend who’s covering me by DVR for the season finale of Life. The only things I’m really missing are the first ep of Harper’s Island (which I want to call Harper’s Ferry), and Kröd Mändoon on Comedy Central, which I’m pretty sure is Visigoth for “Brisco County Junior”. If anybody has those on their radar, give me a heads up if they are worth catching up on next week.

The only thing that’s been a big pill so far was the call I had to make to the satellite company to disconnect service:

Me: Hi, I need to disconnect my service. I don’t have access to the only place where I can put a dish any more.

Bridget the Call Center Associate: We’d hate to lose you as a customer. Is there a different package you’d be interested in?

Me: The place I lost access to was the only place your technician could get a signal, and I don’t have that any more. I can’t use your service. Unfortunately, I have to go to cable.

Bridget the Call Center Drone: Do you have a balcony or patio that you could use?

Me: Yes, I have a patio, but it doesn't face the right direction. I have no place to put your equipment that would work.

Bridget the Embarrassment to All Call Center Employees: What if I could offer you $10 off your long-distance service?

Me: I don’t have long-distance service, and your dish is currently $70 a month lawn art. And it’s ugly lawn art.

Bridget the Deaf Call Center Employee: So I’ll just note that you’ve accepted an offer from another service. Is there anything else I can help you with today?

Me: Apparently not.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Devil of a book

Just a quick word on the book I just finished – Working for the Devil by Lilith Saintcrow. It’s dark urban fantasy, of the demons and magic variety. Take 2 parts Buffy, 1 part Repairman Jack, a squeeze of X-Box, a twist of Highlander and a liberal splash of Nine Inch Nails and you’d be pretty close to this cocktail. I think “propulsive” is the right word. Not perfect (the language can push the florid for the sake of florid boundary, and the characters flirt with cliché). But I’ll forgive some small quirks for a damn good story that travels down the highway at a full tilt boogie, driven by one bad-ass heroine. And it’s the first in a series, so I have every hope that things will tighten up in the next book (which I’m going to hunt for as soon as I get off work). If you decide to pick it up, do it forewarned that you will be pissed off by the end of the book. But in a good way. You’ll be pissed off because you care what happens.

Must you?

Okay, last night I finally saw the commercial with Valerie Bertinelli in a bikini. Geez. That’s crazy stuff. First off, all respect to little Barbie Romano. She rocked it out. And there may be a certain amount of subtext there directed at her ex, Eddie the Cryptkeeper Van Halen, who is currently reaping the rewards of lifestyle in which you succeed in living fast, but don’t manage to die young, and can completely write off any hopes of leaving a good lookin’ corpse. And I think the subtext would be “suck it”. She looks phenomenal. No question.

And I will freely admit that jealousy may be tingeing my opinion on this, but I’m starting to really think that these low-fat, high collagen, hyper-toned, lush haired, 40+women really need to start throttling back. I’m looking 40 dead in the eyeball. And I admit I want to look good for my age. But I absolutely DO NOT want to put in the kind of effort that would make me look phenomenal for my age. I want the standards to be relaxed. I want the freedom to not feel guilty for giving myself a break. I want a few wrinkles to be expected, not fought tooth and nail. I want a couple of earned pounds to be a badge of merit, not a sign of failure.

As I turn the 40 corner, I was kind of looking forward to the lowering of the bar. Not wanting to look good in a bikini. Wanting to look good in a one-piece. Possibly one with a little skirty deal. Not 40 being the new 30. 40 being the new 40. I blame that bitch Demi Moore. She may not have started this whole “great at any age crap”, but she definitely escalated the arms race in aging. My beauty regimen was minimal already, and I want to do less, not more. And now there’s a new salvo from Berinelli, when I was hoping that the things might calm down. I’m looking for détente. A Warsaw Pact of Beauty. A Beauty Regime Non-Proliferation Treaty. Give peace a chance.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Out on a sartorial limb

I'm going to make a fashion prediction. Not based on the runways. Not based on what's new in the stores for spring. Based on me and my un-erring sense of the hip and the hot (stop laughing). The hot new trend for summer - cutoffs. I will bet you dollars to donuts that you will see cutoff shorts out and about this summer. The fashionazis will be appalled.

Because we all know the real truth. The fashionazis only like things that can be bought in a store. And the best cutoffs are the ones you make yourself. It gets a second life out of the jeans that got ripped, stained, twisted or too short. Talk about recession proofing your wardrobe. Plus, if everybody's hanging out at home all summer, because we don't have any money to go anywhere, who cares if you've got on D&G, or DYI. If you save money on a new wardrobe, you'll have more cash to spend on an awesome barbecue for your friends.

If you've got the bod for it, you can do the shorty-shorts. Or, if you need more coverage around the old backyard, you can go for the Baby from Dirty Dancing look, rolled just above the knee (Thank you, Erin Grey). Want more options? You can whack off a pair of clam diggers or some kicky bermudas. And they don't have to be jeans. Anything in cotton twill will work. Khakis? Hello! Awesome.

And don't let some snotty TV stylist fool you by telling you that to "get the look" you need some pair of $400 custom aged cutoff shorts from Italy. Posers. This is cool that you can't buy. All you need is a pair of scissors, a ruler and a washing machine. Get busy now. Hack the legs off of something and throw them in a washer now to get started on a nice frayed fringe for the first day of summer. Or if you're like me, dig out that pair that you've secretly hidden away (or possibly 2 or 3 pairs). Pair them with an awesome beach t-shirt, a preppy polo, or, if you have real brass ones, an aloha shirt. Drink rum drinks. Listen to some reggae. Summer is coming. You've got on a pair of cutoffs and you look hot. Life's good.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Aaaaggghhh, scary - but SO COOL!!!

Dude, this one just kicks the crap out of the Horse Head Nebula. Just so weirdfreakycool looking. I mean totally out of the most kickass ILM produced science fiction movie ever. I mean, whatever kind of all-powerful space aliens these are crushing the hell out of that star system, we'd need the X-Men, Torchwood, the Justice League, the Fantastic Four, SG-1, the Doctor (Chris Eccleston incarnation, of course), the Scooby Gang and Bruce Willis all working together to save us.

I really am such a geek.

Closing the book

It looks like another major newspaper's books column has gone to that big library in the sky. The Chicago Tribune had merged their books section into a "Books & Media" section earlier this year, and now even that has eaten it. Damn. The Washington Post merged their Book World into their Style section this year too. Though it looks like it may survive in this incarnation, at least for awhile. Even in the midst of the death of the city newspaper, the book sections are declining even faster. They seem to be seen as dead weight that can be cut the easiest.

I totally understand that with the internet boom, there are all sorts of critics available to me. reviews, bloggers, and dedicated sites. But here's the thing - a lot of people on the internet are idiots. And I say this with love in my heart, and knowing full well that I'm one of the idiots. I'll throw my two-cents down with the rest of them, knowing that I'm lucky not to get a full penny change back. But I know I'm just an average American. I really rely on not average Americans, people with knowledge, experience and taste who can clue me in on stuff that I never would have found on my own. There are over 100,000 books published every year. How the heck am I supposed to figure out which ones to read? Books can be expensive. If I'm going to lay out cash, I'd like at least an edge on making sure that I have a fighting chance of buying something that is worth my hard-earned dough.

I'm old fashioned that way. I like to build a trust in a reviewer, and yes, defer to the wiser head. Get to know their taste. Understand what their thought processes and criteria are. After all these years, if Michael Dirda says something is good, I know that I can rely pretty heavily on that opinion. In a rottentomatoes/blogosphere world, where anybody can be an expert, I find myself looking more and more for voices I can trust rather than listen to the howling crowd. And as the newspaper book sections disappear, those voices are going to be drowned out. Damn.

Queen of Da Nile

So yesterday was my penultimate 2008-09 season ticket night (and yes, I do look for opportunities to use the word “penultimate” in everyday conversation) for Theatre 3. It was Agatha Christie. I was not enthused. First, because if, like me, you have seen more than one AC story, there ain’t going to be any new rabbits pulled out of any old hats in Death on the Nile. Plus, no Hercule Poirot in the story? What’s the point?

I did come up with a clever out though. I took my niece. She’s 17. It’s all new to her. And I could enjoy her enjoying some period costumed mayhem.

What kind of astounded me was the people in the audience who were trying to figure the story out. Really? Do you people not watch Law & Order? Let’s review the character list, shall we: one crabby old bat (possible vic, but never the doer), one wronged German doctor (only if there is a rare antiquity involved), one English communist (everyone knows communism is just a red herring – snort), one poor but morally upright American secretary (never, and if you don’t know who she ends up makin’ the smoochie faces with by the curtain call, you ain’t payin’ attention), one morally upright yet charming cleric (in the absence of Miss Marple or M. Poirot, our de facto detective, natch), one bright young thing socialite who’s recently stolen her best friend’s man (Marked. For. Death. Hussies never prosper), and her new husband who finds himself suddenly rich when his bride ends up with a bad case of bullet in the brain. Duh. I admit I was momentarily thrown off by the fact that the merry widower was the baddy in the last 2 things I saw him in (surely not), but after getting a load of the rest of the cast (and the GIANT glaring tell with blinking lights spelling “he’s going to kill somebody”) in the first 15 minutes I just settled back to let the murder most horrid play out. [Though I do have to give the usual suspect credit in that he had remarkably Hugh Grantish floppy hair, but heroically resisted the impulse to flip it back in that insouciantly boyish way that makes me want to smack Hugh Grant in every movie he’s ever been in.]

Not that the show wasn’t well done. Given that the actors had to utter some real groaners, they soldiered on and made the whole thing enjoyable. But there really is only so much you can do with a play by possibly one of the most imitated authors in the English language. My favorite thing in the whole night was the actual English woman who was sitting next to me (who probably has the plots of every Dame Agatha mystery embedded in her DNA), who commented that she didn’t trust the maid. To which I got to say, “Well, she is French.” in my best droll voice. Which of course got a laugh. Brits, lord love ‘em. Busting on a frog is always good for a giggle.

TIME: Quotes of the Day