Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Apocalypse No

Mr. Two Monkeys and his friends over at Drunken Zombie ( got an Advanced Reader's Copy of Sleight of Hand by Peter S. Beagle and they let me read and review it for them. You can check it out right here.

They also gave me an ARC of this:

If Mr. TM and I had kids, this would be their first book.
I am pretty positive that some sort of apocalyptic event will occur in my lifetime, not because I'm a lunatic, but because all of the other lunatcis in this world have worked themselves into an anticipatory apocalyptic frenzy. Our favorite shows, movies, books, and video games are post-apocalyptic in nature (with the exception of RuPaul's Drag Race - you go, Stacy Lane Matthews!). The apocalypse is all anyone can focus on anymore, whether it comes from zombies or infection or the moon coming closer to earth. 2012 is swiftly approaching and we've all worked our panties into such a tight bunch over it that our very fear based actions will precipitate some horrible event.
I'm guilty of apocalyptic fantasy - I won't deny it. I dream of a world where I would have to hunt my own food, where fuel was scarce, where I was facing danger at every turn and there was no garuntee I would live to the next day. In this world, I wouldn't have to work eight hours a day, or answer a cell phone, or answer to authority I didn't agree with, and my ability to reason would mean more than how nice I was to rich people. And in my mind, this is awesome.

I get to bring my cats, right?
In reality, an apocalypse of any kind would be awful. I know I probably wouldn't live through it. I'm pudgy and have a bum ankle. Any sort of moderate to fast moving zombie would find me easy pickings. I refuse to eat bugs, vegetables, the cats, or human flesh. I need to shower daily - sometimes twice. The idea of a world without modern plumbing gives me a migraine. To live in a world and never hear the soft swish of a flushing toilet again... Lost was awesome, but they never showed anyone crapping on the beach. You know they had no choice, at least in season one.

I want all of the benefits of a post apocalyptic world without any of the drawbacks. Call me a hypocrite. I want a more exciting life but for someone else to make all the hard choices. I guess I want apocalypse lite. And I want to go back to normal when I'm tired of it. The removal of it all in fiction and television is what makes it so appealing to us as we sit in our offices daydreaming about firing shotguns into rabid zombie hoards.

Remember this game? It kind of sucked...
But at the end of the day, we get to go home and go to sleep without fear.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


That right there is a beautiful woman. I don't care if she has a penis. She is a gorgeous woman and I am proud to say I've thought so since the late '80s when her single 'Supermodel' came out. I loved that song when I was 10 and I love it now at 31.

With many thanks to my friends M, R, C, and J, I am hooked on RuPaul's Drag Race. I watched a few episodes with this motley crew over at M's house last weekend and haven't been able to stop thinking about it. Drag Race makes me want to get a better cable package so I can watch Logo. And there I go outing myself as a techtard. I think I'm the only person in the world anymore who watches television in real time when a program is actually being broadcast. I'm afraid of DVR - it will make me even more disinclined to get writing done.

I love Drag Race like I haven't loved a reality show since the first two seasons of Apprentice (Omarosa was the biggest bitch ever! I still can't believe she screwed Kwame over like that!). I am strangely drawn to drag queens and would probably leave my family on Christmas morning to go to a drag show if the opportunity presented itself. They're so pretty - even the plus sized campy ones. But the pretty is a weird kind of pretty. Even the ones who 'pass', the ones I would never be able to identify as men in their makeup, have a certain exotic quality to them. A little bit of androgyny in the manner of David Bowie or Tilda Swinton (Dr. M., if you read this, I'm not macking your woman - just stating the fact of her beauty). Drag kings are also beautiful. There's something really amazing about a woman who can rock a suit - and there's that tiny bit of androgyny, no matter how well the king passes.

Anyway, Drag Race is great. It has all the torrid drama of every other reality show, maybe even amped up a bit with more than a dash of catty thrown in. But there's still a sense of camaraderie, no matter how much hissing and clawing goes on. The queens on Drag Race are like family - they can beat on each other all they want but god help anyone outside of this circle who antagonizes them. I like that.

I also like that they're ladies. I'm a lady too, but not a girly lady. I don't own any dresses and I've never been comfortable in heels. These queens are more comfortable with their bodies in costume than I will ever be with mine in reality. They can afford to be catty and bitchy, because damn, they look good and they know it. I don't know many biological women who could pull off so much make up and glitter.

My reality show predictions are never very accurate because I base judgment on talent and skill as opposed to who makes for the best television. But right now, these are my picks for Drag Race:




Do not knock the plus sized queen. She looks like Mo'nique and Mo'nique is gorgeous.

Am I weird for this? I don't care. If I were a guy, I would be a drag queen. A plus sized one. And I would call myself Candy More.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

They're like the Anita Blake novels, except good.

The greatest in-laws who ever lived got me a Nook for Christmas this year. So far, I've been making my way through the Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher and just finished the fifth book while eating a less than satisfactory lunch today. And lunch might be why I'm a little cranky about Death Masks: Book 5 of the Dresden Files. I find it hard to like anything when eating overcooked, leftover, reheated pasta alfredo that came from a box in the first place. Which I shouldn't be doing anyway because it's not exactly Weight Watchers friendly, but I was too lazy to make a sandwich before bed last night.

The Dresden Files as a whole make me a little cranky, but not cranky enough to stop reading. And while I like aspects of the series, I don't like them enough to stop being cranky. So, it looks like I'm stuck reading all 12 books. I look at the title of this post and think, yup - good. The books are good, not great or awesome or super, but good (which frankly, is more than I can say about most sci-fi/urban fantasy authors). I read a bunch of Anita Blake books by Laurell K. Hamilton several years ago. The first few books were all right - like supernatural Law & Order SVU. But then one day Anita became a porn star with a vast stable of men, vampires, and were-beasts and the books turned into Choose Your Own Gangbang Adventure: And Oh Yeah, Figure Out Who Killed Those Strippers. These were 600 page books with maybe 150 worth of plot. I shit you not, in one book, the entire troupe of deviant sexiness didn't leave the bedroom until page 180 something. And what kills me about Hamilton is that Anita Blake will have sex with just about anything - vampires, men, werewolves, werepanthers, wereleopards, werebees, in human or animal form, in quantities upwards of 12 at a time, but the one time a female comes on to her, she goes absolutely apeshit, because you know, being gay is just plain wrong.

I digress.

The Dresden Files are good books. Their main strength is character. Harry is engaging, most of the time. He has secrets and an interesting back story. I adore his best cop friend Karrin Murphy - I would read a series about her. She's adorable, yet gritty - bordering on stereotype, until she actually starts believing that Harry is a real wizard. I'm on book 5 out of 12 and I think she's on the brink of a major character breakthrough. All side characters have been interesting. I'm really intrigued by the Knights of the Cross - the fists of God. Completely righteous men who also understand that there are supernatural powers that exist and fight the good fight with Harry, even though Harry considered religion just another form of magic. Some of our villains are good, but most are too easily defeated. A lot of time is spent in these novels building up some major nast characters and I think, "Oh no! How will Harry ever escape/win/save the day?!" He always does, somehow, and I don't always find this believable.

Example: The big bad in book 5 is Nicodemus. He's about a million years old, wears the noose Judas used to hang himself as a necktie, stole the Shroud of Turin, and wants to start a global "attitude of apocalypse" by spreading plague through all the land. Plus he does it with his own daughter. Ew. Bitch is bad. He doesn't seem to have any weaknesses - the noose of Judas protects him from death even when he gets blown to pieces by automatic weaponry. Yet, Harry escapes him not once, but twice.

A lot of these books hinge on luck and the good old deus ex machina. Someone or something is always there to save the day - as a reader, it's just a matter of figuring out who or what. Five books in, I'm not really concerned with plot anymore except in how it affects character. The plots are cinematic, chasing the bad guys, doing the good thing sort of plots. But I look forward to how these characters develop. Already, Harry's girlfriend has left him because she's been half turned into a vampire. A sort of mentor was killed in this last book. Harry learns more about his past, Murphy learns more about Harry's world, and even Michael (one of the Fists of God) bends just a tiny bit in his faith.  But plot... too unnecessarily convoluted at times and not enough reader access to Harry's thought process when he makes his leaps and bounds in reason. Keep in mind the difference between convoluted and complicated. Complicated = good.

Everyone I know who has read these enjoys them, and really, despite my complaints, so do I. At times, Butcher is really inovative in his world building. I'd like to see harry break free from the formulaic murder/mystery story board. But even if he doesn't, reading him smartass his way through each case is still fairly entertaining.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mr. Darcy and the Marquis de Sade are Best Friends

I don't get out to see movies very often. I don't watch them at home either, much to Mr. Two Monkeys' chagrin. The last time we watched a movie at home, Mr. TM put on Gor because it was streaming on Netflix and, "Hey, you like this fantasy kind of thing, right?" Two hours of lesbian sex fighting, shaved man legs, a midget, and some swords, with Jack Palance thrown in at the end for no good reason. If I'm going to sit on the couch for two hours, I'd rather be reading, especially if the alternative is Gor. In fact, if Gor were my only movie option, I might rather be having a root canal.

At any rate... we went out to see The King's Speech this weekend. Not usually my type of movie. But Colin Firth was on The Daily Show the week before being ten kinds of charming, and how could I resist? When Mr. Darcy tells you to go see a movie, you go see it. I enjoyed myself quite a bit and was kind of surprised by that. I usually don't care for period pieces at all. But I've always been interested in this particular story of a prince who was never meant to be king but had to take on the role anyway because his older brother was a total whore for married American women. I'm just fascinated by the story of a guy whose role in life so suddenly and completely changes. And while he has the spiritual fortitude to pick up after his brother's mess, his physical body doesn't feel like cooperating.

At times, The King's Speech was painful to watch. Not because it was bad, but because I could feel my own throat closing up every time Bertie stammered. As someone who has never had speech problems, except for excessive swearing, talking is like breathing and watching Bertie fight for words was like watching him fight for breath. But he wasn't a pathetic character. Colin Firth walked a fine line between pathos and determination with Bertie. I felt sympathy for his problems but never pitied him. Sometimes Bertie was a complete asshole. He was angry and prone to tantrums. Firth made it easy for me to remember that King George VI was a real person with a real personality.

Who doesn't love Geoffrey Rush? I can't think of a movie I have ever seen him in where he wasn't brilliant. Even Mystery Men. I'm actually still kind of afraid of him from his role in Quills. The same way I'm still afraid of Kevin Spacey, Christian Bale, and Robert Patrick. Ugh. I've just garunteed myself nightmares tonight. I actually felt more sympathy for Rush's character, Logue, than I ever did for Bertie. Dude was just trying to do the right thing, not so much for the King of England, but for a guy struggling with a speech impairment. I don't want to spoil key plot points, but this story shows that sometimes personal compassion and intuition are way more important than official documentation.

So, overall, this was a story that could have been sweet enough to give diabetes to entire audiences. And sure, it had its moments where I could feel my teeth ache, but those moments didn't overshadow the actual story being told.

Before I finish, I have to give a shout out to Helena Bonham Carter who played Queen Elizabeth. I like her in just about everything - she's a favorite of mine. But this was a refreshing role for her. It's very nice to see she has range outside of the gothic psycho to the gothic psycho cannibal types.

Oh, and one more thing. Holy Harry Potter reunion, but what can one expect? Just about every major British actor ever has been in Harry Potter. But we had Bellatrix, and Dumbledore (as King George V), and even Wormtail as Winston Churchill, which (I hate to say it) was the only really jarringly bad performance in the movie. I don't know if he intended to play Churchill as a parody, but that's how it came off.

Good movie, good times. Go see it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Busting the Blogger Cherry

Here we go. I was getting complaints that my blog had no entries, which is a bullshit complaint. I mean, I'm supposed to write on this? Whatever.

Mr. Two Monkeys has convinced me to create this thing in order to build a writing portfolio. Sometimes, he's very responsible. But most of the time he's the type of guy who eats Starbursts for dinner.

Mostly, I write plays and fiction and spent a lot of money on a fancy MFA so I could be all legit and stuff. My fiction is still under construction. You can find my plays in various places like The Art of the One Act or uh... on my flash drive. Plays are transitory and get performed more than published. But the next time my local theatre wants to do one of my plays about prison life and small children, I'll let you all know. Um... not that I was ever in prison. But my dad is a corrections officer. I *know* things.

I also write the occasional article for Shout out to my very special Geektresses. In fact, I have one appearing on Tuesday, 2/8. I also have a book review in the works for - the podcast Mr. Two Monkeys participates in. This will be my first DZ article, but I have appeared on the podcast periodically to cry and pee my pants over scary movies.

And now this. The Blogger cherry is busted. Time to be a blog whore.