Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Thursday, June 27, 2013

True Blood's latest batch of troubles,Mad Men's season six finale and getting caught Under The Dome

When we last left Pam and Tara on True Blood, Fangtasia had been shut down by the law and Tara was shot with a nasty new bullet that burns vampires up from the inside out.

Fortunately, Eric and Nora stopped by to check in on things and Eric took charge in removing the bullet,which is silver and sends out UV rays to boot. Talk about your deadly double whammy there!


 As Eric goes off to figure out his next move(which involves glamoring the governor's daughter), Sookie and Jason run into a member of their fae family, their grandfather Niall(played by the awesome Rutger Hauer).

 Niall is willing to give them a hand with Warlow,who is now in our reality after being zapped into another dimension by Sookie's late godmother Claudine. On top of that, Bill's strange new power status is freaking poor Jessica out and hopefully,everyone will get their act together before more craziness occurs:


Mad Men wrapped up season six with Pete's power play against Bob Benson backfiring on him, Joan allowing Roger to spend more time with their son and Don getting temporarily kicked out of the agency after a meltdown with the Hershey people.

Don claimed that he did that in order to let Ted start up the West Coast version of SC&P(love the new logo!), an idea he swiped from Stan in the first place,but there was more to it than that.

All this season,Don's been flirting with the idea of self destruction(that ad work for the Hawaiian hotel,the too close to home affair with Sylvia,his near drowning at a Hollywood party) and the straw that broke the camel's back for him is his recent estrangement with Sally. I think that this point in his life, Don is realizing that running away from your problems is no longer going to work for him and maybe this crash and burn will finally earn him some inner peace.

Speaking of running away, Ted practically begs Don to let him take the California job after he can't decide between staying with his wife and kids or going off with Peggy. It seems to me that Ted is not as strong or solid as he projects to others(particularly Peggy) and prefers to lean on someone else to handle things when crucial decisions are needed.

Peggy is better off without him,although she doesn't feel that way right now. Hopefully, she'll be able to find a romantic partner who doesn't insist upon imposing his emotional needs over hers by the next season rolls around(which I believe may be the last one for the show). For now, we have much to look forward to from SC&P in 2014:


  The premiere of Under The Dome aired this week,earning huge ratings and the interest of many. The show started off with a literal bang as the mysterious barrier traps the residents of Chester's Mill(along with a few passers-by) and while everyone is scrambling to figure out what's happening, a few signs of creepy power play are beginning to emerge.

Those who read the Stephen King book this is based upon have already caught to several changes from the original material(most of which were to be expected as UTD is on CBS rather than Showtime as once intended) but it's good to have something to figure out as we go along for this very bumpy ride:


RANDOM NOTES:

THE AMERICAN BAKING COMPETITION: It was dessert week and the sweets were rather bitter as Brian is still in the game,despite two of this challenges falling flat. The worst by far was his chocolate souffle,which failed due to his insistence on tweaking the ingredients-next time, follow the recipe,dude or you'll wind up with more than egg on your face from the judges:















Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Packing a few books for your mental vacation this July and August

Summer is officially under way, with plenty of heat that gives you the perfect excuse to sit in the shade with a good book(or even a bad one,for that matter).

With most folks choosing to stay home during their summer vacation time, the best passport for armchair travel is still a new book which can take you to not only new places but old ones as well. Let's look over some of the prime destinations available at a bookseller near you this season and see which passages to book:

ROYAL DILEMMAS

While many of the novels about the Tudor era can't resist the allure of Anne Boleyn's rise and fall, others seem to have more interest in the last of Henry VIII's wives,Katherine Parr.

 Elizabeth Fremantle puts her center stage in Queen's Gambit,where the twice widowed lady finds herself in love with Thomas Seymour yet has no choice but to accept the hand of the aging king. Refusing such a marriage is dangerous,given the gruesome fate of most of Katherine's predecessors but taking up the mantle of queen in this treacherous court is just as perilous.

As Katherine struggles to keep her nearest and dearest safe while avoiding the pit falls laid out for her by enemies on all sides, she must decide on what is most important,the crown or her heart. This debut historical novel offers a breath of fresh air to what some might feel is well trodden territory and could provide plenty of food for thought for eager readers(August):


Philippa Gregory adds a new chapter to her Cousins' War saga with The White Princess,which follows Elizabeth of York as she must marry Henry Tudor in order to secure the throne of England. However, her heart still belongs to Richard III,the former ruler whose death was deemed necessary to achieve peace.

As Elizabeth provides her husband with heirs to the kingdom and hopes of a promising future, the lingering rancor from the family feuds that tore both sides apart continues to simmer,especially between the two bitter mother-in-laws who refuse to let old grudges go.

With the Starz presentation of The White Queen to air later this summer, more interest will be peaked regarding Gregory's fictional portraits of  women who were both powerful and powerless at this critical point in English history(July):


 LOVE LORN PAST

 Jessica Brockmole's debut novel,Letters from Skye, bridges two love stories in two different time periods via the power of the pen. Told in letters, the first half begins on a remote Scottish island in March of 1912, where isolated poet Elspeth Dunn is startled by the arrival of a fan letter from America.

It turns out that her distant admirer,David Graham, has much to offer with his shared love of literature and the two of them form a bond through their correspondence. However,the escalation of WWI has David becoming an ambulance driver on the battlefield,with Elspeth having no choice but to wait for word of his safety.

The second half of the book belongs to Margaret,Elspeth's daughter,who is in love with an Air Force pilot as WWII is starting up. An explosion near their home reveals the hidden letters between Elspeth and David,causing Margaret to wonder what truly happened all those years ago and what caused her mother to suddenly disappear. An old fashioned love story sounds like it would hit the spot this season and Brockmole's tender tale appears to be the brainy beverage of choice(July).

 Another war time theme surrounds a love story in The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian as the setting for our heroine is in Tuscany,1943. The family of eighteen year old Christina Rosati feels that they can stay out of the turmoil all around them and for a while, they are able to live in the tranquility they're used to.

That calm is shattered by the arrival of a pair of soldiers looking for an Etruscan burial site nearby. Before long, the Rosatis have a horde of Nazi troopers on their doorstep and Christina is wooed by one of the lieutenants.  This turn of events echoes down the years,as a killer stalks the last members of the family in a grim determination to seek revenge. A darker edge on this most romanticized time and place should be quite the thoughtfully thrilling ride(July):



 I plan to be going a bit further back in time with my latest Library Thing win,Freud's Mistress. Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman team up for this novel that explores the awkward love triangle between Sigmund Freud, his wife Martha and her sister Minna.

Minna has taken refuge in her brother-in-law's household upon being fired from her position of lady's companion due to her outspoken nature. While her sister is happy to have an extra set of helping hands,Minna proves to be very useful to Sigmund in his research and for once, her intelligence is being appreciated.

Freud's theories about human sexuality prove shocking both in public and private,with the bond between him and Minna threatening more than one front. This intriguing look into one of the possible influences on a ground breaking school of thought should put many book club folk on the couch,turning pages as fast as they can(July):


A TASTE OF NOIR

Marisha Pessl follows up her unique debut novel Special Topics in Calamity Physics with a cinematic styled thriller,Night Film.  Ashley,the daughter of cult film director Stanislas Cordova is found dead in a Manhattan warehouse late one evening and while the cause is declared to be suicide, reporter Scott McGrath is not so sure.

Investigating her demise, Scott learns more about the strange legacy of her infamous father,who has been a recluse for about thirty years. His interest is more than just the hunt for a good story; Scott has had dealings with Cordova that changed his life in terrible ways. Yet, that past experience drives him forward to seek the truth,no matter how horrifying it be may be.

Pessl has proven to have her own special brand of storytelling and her dip into the pool of mystery should be chilling in the good sense of the word(August):


ORDER UP!


The subtitle of fiction writer Kate Christensen's upcoming memoir Blue Plate Special is "an autobiography of my appetites" and she is true to her word. She recounts how food played it's part in her life, beginning with an egg and toast breakfast  in her childhood where her parents bitterly fought to a year in France as an adult where more than one mature hunger was awakened.

Christensen also talks her bouts of crash dieting,drinking and emotional struggles as a writer,which was fueled by comfort foods. Complete with recipes and insights from her foodie blog, Kate Christensen serves up a platter of poignant experiences that promises to be as engaging as any of her novels(July).

ALL IN THE FAMILY

In Susanna Daniel's Sea Creatures, Georgia Quillan plans to make a fresh start with her family by moving back to her Floridan hometown. There, she finds a work organizing the chaotic art pieces of a local hermit while husband Graham takes a job that hopefully won't be impacted by the sleep disorder that doomed his chances at tenure in his former university teaching position.

Georgia also hopes that their three year old son Frankie might come out of the shell that his selective mutism  has put him in. Things appear to be going well but the threat of a hurricane may drown their new found opportunities for a better life. This story of a family at emotional sea should offer much to those feeling similarly adrift(late July).


 Author Linda Spalding blends history with family drama in The Purchase,as Daniel Dickinson, a widowed Quaker father is shunned by his community for keeping Ruth,an unmarried servant girl, in his employ. Since Ruth was an orphan, he felt it was cruel to sent her away,especially after his wife died in childbirth and his children needed extra care.

Daniel decides to marry Ruth and to take their family to Virginia,where in 1798,slavery is in practice. Against his faith,he winds up buying a young slave named Simus,who becomes caught in the crossfire between the Dickinsons and the rest of the community. Spalding is well known in Canada for her work,which won the Governor General's Award for fiction last year, and with any luck, she'll be just as well received in the U.S. this summer(August). 



With all of these choices(and even more out there), you might be feeling overwhelmed by your reading piles but don't sweat,there is a fun and handy solution.

 Making a book jar is just the summer project that your literary life needs and should help to clear a few shelves for the fall. Let your creative spirit  lend a hand to your reading needs this season,folks!:




Monday, June 24, 2013

Spending summer school with Jane Austen

While I am still in the midst of my Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge for this year(finding much amusement in Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife,indeed!), my extra credit Jane Austen reading is certainly making these warm summer days more bearable.

Having enjoyed Victoria Connelly's A Weekend with Mr. Darcy, my expectations were quite high for Dreaming of Mr. Darcy and they were,I'm happy to report,well met. Despite the title, the theme of the story here is all about Persuasion, Austen's final novel(and a personal favorite of mine).

Our heroine is Kay Aston,who decides to change her humdrum life after receiving a most unexpected inheritance. She follows her dream of living in Lyme Regis by buying a B&B that needs renovating and hopefully will give her enough free time to complete her series of Darcy illustrations that she intends to turn into a book.

As fate would have it, a film company in the area happens to be doing a new version of Persuasion and the cast is in need of new hotel accommodations right away. With a troupe of actors on her door step(including a very handsome devil named Oli Wade) and a screenwriter with a sweetly wacky grandmother living nearby,Kay's life is far from becoming dull again.

The book is a charming read that allows for even the supporting players to share in the story telling spotlight,plus it has tons of romantic comedy hijinks that provide the right amount of sparkle. This is the second book in Connelly's Austen Addicts series and while I plan on diving into Mr. Darcy Forever(which has a Sense and Sensibility plot line) as soon as can be, I hope that we get a few more addictive stories with Austen themes from her in the near future:



With all of the buzz lately about the TV adaptation of P.D. James' Death Comes to Pemberley, I was most eager to see if there was truly meat on these bones for a savory Austen soup. This being my first time reading P.D. James, I have to say that I found her format of police procedural well suited to the period style of Jane Austen(think of it as Law & Order:Regency Edition).

The death in question occurs to Denny, a well known crony of Mr. Wickam, and his murder not so conveniently takes place on the grounds of Mr. Darcy's estate,which means that Darcy as a local magistrate, can not take an active part in the investigation.

That doesn't mean that he has no interest in the case and the many questions it raises not only about Wickam's current dealings but his past association with the Darcy clan. Folks who have read other Austen themed mysteries may prefer a more involved detective on the case but this one offers a unique look at P&P and should be a very engaging drama when it hits the airwaves.

Along with Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife, another Austen related book on my current reading pile is The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James. It is a novel about a visiting American in England,Samantha McDonough,who happens upon a half completed letter by Jane Austen that hints at the location of a work in progress lost during a country weekend.

Samantha manages to track down the estate where Jane Austen spent that particular visit at and ,with the help of the new owner, finds this undiscovered novel entitled The Stanhopes,which she hopes to reveal to the world. So far, this book is wonderful and like any sumptuous treat,not one to gobble down hastily. Syrie James does take great care with her research,after all, so out of respect, I will do the same in reading it:


 So, my summer of Austen reading is well under way and so is my work on my next e-book,Fanny Price,Slayer of Vampires (due out in early 2014,shameless plug alert!). At this point, my characters are involved in the theatrical doings of Lover's Vows,which stirs the blood in more ways than one. Wish me monsters,folks!:



Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dealing with Billith on True Blood,Mad Men's mercy and the American Baking Competition sees where it's bread is buttered

Season six of True Blood began this week, with old characters departing(so long,Luna) and new ones(those fae babies of Andy's are growing up fast,indeed!) entering the fray.

 With the Vampire Authority shattered to bits and the state of Louisiana declaring marital law on all vamps,things are dicey to start with even if the newly resurrected Bill,aka "Billith" wasn't around to deal with. His reborn status is still yet to be determined as to friend or foe but one thing is for certain and that is he is damn harder to take down than ever before:




A lot of relationships have to be worked out this season,including Tara and Pam's. I have to agree with Tara about Pam's need to latch on to whatever Eric is involved with. Time to let go,hon,seriously.

 He did release her from the sire bond for a reason and clearly,he wasn't always forthcoming about his past,so she really should figure out her own course in life to take,especially with the state stepping in to take Fangtasia.

Tara's fiery independence and spirit of loyalty will probably be more of use during the tough times ahead than Eric's future game plans with Nora:


We're close to the end of this run on Mad Men and it appears that Don has done a good job alienating Sally,who refuses to see him and is now attempting to enter boarding school as a means to avoid any dealings with her dad in the near future.

So,what does Don do? He takes out his frustrations on surrogate daughter/protege Peggy by torpedoing her shot at getting credit for a new ad campaign that references Rosemary's Baby(kind of weird for a baby aspirin commercial but very forward thinking) . True, she and Ted were acting far too close for comfort in their office flirtation there but slamming down that window of opportunity for Peggy will come back to bite Don one way or the other.

Meanwhile,Pete's efforts to rid himself of Bob Benson bore unexpected fruit as the truth of Bob's sketchy past was brought to him by old rival Duck. Pete immediately saw Bob as the latest version of Don Draper and instead of showing him the door,decided to turn the tables on his unwanted admirer.

 I have to admit, seeing Pete switch from Margo Channing to Addison DeWitt in handling Bob's Eve Harrington desires(see All About Eve,folks,trust me-it applies here) is an intriguing twist and I hope that this love-hate relationship gets carried over to the next season:


It was bread week on The American Baking Competition and since bread is judge Paul Hollywood's specialty, tensions were rising fast than the baking dough. The Signature Bake had a number of interesting loaves while the Technical Bake was all about pretzels,with a mixed batch of results yet Darlene managed to come out ahead.

 She also aced the Show Stopper,which required both plain and filled croissants and was up there with Brian for Star Baker. However,his whining to the judges during the Signature round about not having won that honor yet(someone got too much praise as a child,imo) did Brian's chances in there. Apparently,the croissant gods like to have a dash of humility added to their recipes:


RANDOM NOTES:

UNDER THE DOME: Next week,the Stephen King based series makes it's debut and while there will be quite a few changes from the original book(which is worth a read,btw), this should be standard King fare with a touch of TV magic to keep things lively:



Wednesday, June 19, 2013

On cloud nine over Cloud Atlas

Instead of hitting the multiplex this past weekend for the latest summer movies, I stayed in and spend three glorious hours being enraptured by Cloud Atlas,the big screen adaptation of David Mitchell's renowned novel that came out last fall and is now out on DVD..

 At the time of it's theatrical release, I had my doubts about the viability of the film and while it didn't make a huge profit or claim any major awards, I am happy to report that the quality of the story(or rather,stories) is excellent.

 Having not read the book, I was able to judge the movie on it's own merits and even with the twists and turns that each point in time took the various characters,my concentration was finely tuned and my interest engaged all the way though. Yes, the visuals were amazing but it was the various plights that this set of traveling souls had to face and the connections each experience had upon their individual journeys that kept me in my seat:



Watching the evolution of certain souls,such as the ones played by Tom Hanks who started off as a bad guy and ended being a hero,was a key component to unraveling the various ties that bound more than one character to their moments in time.
I also enjoyed the numerous incarnations portrayed by Halle Berry(who I am more than willing to forgive Catwoman for,after this). Many of her characters were supporting players who didn't engage directly in the main action of their moments but over time, she became a major game changer.

 With her different selves showing up in one way or another to be part of the path that the Hanks personae were on ,you could see that each of them were meant to change the other life at some point and while they weren't the only pair of star crossed players intended to intersect in this interlocking framework,their final piece of the story puzzle clicked it just right for all.


For me,however,the most moving part of the film was the tale of Somni-451,a clone in a futuristic Korea(played by Doona Bae) who became the face of a revolution. Her gentle reawakening from obedient "fabricant" waitress to earnest lover and then the voice of compassion for many generations to come was incredibly beautiful to behold.

I know that some folks were concerned about the make-up applied to some of the Caucasian actors in this section,however, none of them were doing broad insulting stereotypes or taking away parts that could have gone to others. Since the characters were meant to be reincarnated souls,having the same actors change race and gender over time was crucial to the plot(not to mention a standard trope in reincarnation stories). Honestly, all I saw was a sadly tender story of a doomed romance:


As I said earlier, I haven't read the book and was daunted by doing so mainly because all of the praise heaped upon it from critics and fans alike seemed to be more about the technique(stories set in different genres told at various points along the way) of the plot rather than the plot itself.

 I don't mind playing a bit fast and loose with the narrative,either in film or book,as long as there is a strong storytelling spine that makes checking out the body of the work worthwhile. The film adaptation,granted,has some changes made from script to screen and yet, it appears to have the true focal points of the source material well in hand.

 The fact that the author was happy with the movie bodes well in it's favor and I am now determined to read Cloud Atlas,not to simply compare and contrast but to appreciate one of the main themes in the book. To me,the power of storytelling was a powerful contributing factor for many of the characters to draw from,as inspiration and guidance on their respective wanderings towards his/her true destiny:


 I suspect that twenty years from now,the film version of Cloud Atlas will be looked at again and better appreciated for it's daring in bringing such an elaborate novel to life on such a cinematic canvas.

 Much credit should be given to Tom Hanks for never giving up on the movie,even when it's budget was in danger of departing,and to the artistically brave trio of directors,Wachowski siblings Lana and Tom with Tom Tykwer for refusing to play it safe. The best compliment that I can give them all is that this movie made me desperately want to read this book but I also want to thank them for one of the better film experiences I've had this or any year:




Monday, June 17, 2013

A Man of Steel for all seasons

The big movie this weekend was the latest relaunch of Superman entitled Man of Steel, which raked in multi-millions(chump change to Lex Luthor,who wasn't even in this film) and garnered quite a few respectable reviews.

 It also had it's fair share of nay-sayers who found fault with the tone of the story,claiming it was either overblown in the last half or lacking in the true spirit of the comic book character.

In my opinion, the Superman that we get on either the small screen or the large is a reflection of what fills the pop culture need of the moment. Let's examine some of the depictions of this last son of Krypton that for better or worse,showcased the hero we were all hoping for at the time:

Superman(1978): This first major film version of the Superman story(which had more put into than the cheesy Saturday matinee movies of the 1950s) brought this character out of the shadow of the iconic fifties TV show and set it's flag on the moon of the movie landscape with both box office and,for the most part,critical love.

Being released during the tail end of the turbulent times of the seventies and just before the more corporate echo of the eighties could be heard did add significant weight to the film's reception. It was both tongue in cheek and highly optimistic in it's depiction of  the bumbling Clark Kent and the confidently suave Superman who managed to charm the cynical Lois Lane as he saved the day.

The follow-up film,Superman II,was considered to be even better and people were thrilled to believe that not only could a man fly, he could be the one constant in a crazy,ever changing world to look up to:


LOIS & CLARK(1993-97): Sadly, Superman wound up leaving the movie theaters by the 1990s,due to a series of insipid sequels that made the franchise box office Kyptonite.

So,our hero returned to television and was revived by a light hearted but surprisingly popular series,Lois & Clark. As the name suggests,the main focus of the show was the bond between Clark and Lois,whose work and personal relationships were becoming hard to separate as the real third man between them was Superman.

The bickering couple who's really in love but can't admit it for whatever reason was a strong trope on TV at this point,with shows such as Moonlighting and Remington Steele,so taking up this tact for a new Superman show fit the bill nicely. Lois & Clark had it's ups and downs,however the main benefit of the show was to keep Superman's foot in the pop culture door and it succeeded handily:



SMALLVILLE(2001-11):This series took a few steps back yet went forward with the Superman legend as the shift of attention went to the early "Superboy" years(not to be confused with the weak attempt at a Superboy show in the late nineties) and Clark Kent was once again front and center as the true core of the character.

 A deeper edge and angst was given to Clark regarding his origins and use of powers,which some referred to as the "Marvelization" of Superman but no matter where the source of his character development came from, it did make Clark a more down to earth hero that both teens and adults could relate to. Not to mention that traditional heroes able to appreciate the irony of their situations(Buffy the Vampire Slayer,for example) while maintaining a trace of innocence were fast becoming the pop culture norm.

 Despite the increasing mix of over the top villains and complicated story lines,along with soap opera antics between Clark and his various love interests(Lana Lang,Chloe Sullivan and by the end, Lois Lane),the show did last for a solid ten seasons and brought in a new legion of fans who felt the need for renewal after the shocking events that started the new millennium. Some even said that Smallville could have become a new bridge to the silver screen for Superman but the studios preferred to go their own way in that regard:


SUPERMAN RETURNS(2006): Hollywood tried to bring back the spirit of the Richard Donner Superman films with this reboot/sequel/homage from X-Men director Bryan Singer but the uneven tone of the entire movie failed to find a toehold with audiences.

In some ways, it was as awkward as many felt during this time period,caught between wanting some of the safety and comfort of the past yet not willing to embrace that idealism in a  wholeheartedly naive fashion.

The film did it's best to recapture the magic that the original films once had yet for many reasons, it wound up dropping the ball both at the box office and with old fans and new. Fortunately,Hollywood didn't completely abandon any future Superman movies and maybe this clumsy attempt was a good way to break the ice:


So, our fresh new Superman is upon us and perhaps it will pave the way for more good superhero flicks based on DC characters to come. While Marvel has been a little hit and miss lately, their points are still higher in this game and now that the Batman trilogy is done,it would be nice to see more of the Justice League up to bat. While the future of Superman films is as uncertain as our own, perhaps both of them will benefit from continued interest in keeping truth,justice and peace for all mankind as part of our lives:




Thursday, June 13, 2013

GOT's S3 finale,A couple of Mad Men stunners and The American Baking Competition takes the cake

Game of Thrones ended it's third season on a rather mixed note,as we saw who was really behind the plans for the Red Wedding(no shock,Tywin Lannister),Jon making it back to Castle Black with a few departing arrows from Ygritte for his trouble and Theon getting a new name,plus the chance of rescue from his little sister.

Since this season is only the first half of the third book,A Storm of Swords,the karmic repercussions of what the Lannisters and their allies have sown won't be reaped until next year(trust me when I say,however, that there will be blood).

Yet, Arya did get the chance to strike a early blow in that road to revenge. As she and the Hound were fleeing the scene of the Red Wedding(sadly, not before getting a glimpse of the desecration of her brother Robb's body), they came across a group of Frey banner men sharing a few laughs about the whole thing. Her surprise attack was greatly helped by a rather surprised Hound and will set the tone for what will come of her in the very near future:



The one literally uplifting moment on the episode was reserved for Dany,who was uneasy about the reception she would get from the freed slaves of Yunkai. Fortunately, she took the right approach when speaking to them and they truly greeted her with open arms.

Well,there's plenty to look forward to for next season and I do hope those of you disenchanted by the Red Wedding will tune in to see the show in 2014. Take a page out of Dany's book and be ready to appreciate the good times whenever they come on this hard road to Westeros:


There were a couple of serious shake-ups on Mad Men this week,as Sally caught her father "comforting" Sylvia and their relationship will never be the same again.

Sally was staying with Don and Megan(along with a friend of hers named Janice) in order to attend Diplomacy Club. The girls happened to meet Mitchell,Sylvia's son who desperately needed a draft deferment.

 Don was moved enough by Sylvia's plight to help her out and during their thank you session, Sally walked in,looking for a mash note that mischievous Janice had slipped under the door. That poor girl,between her hot and cold emotional mother and this betrayal of trust by her father,she's pretty much destined for some kind of big league rebellion. Chances are,it'll be a really bad boyfriend sure to upset both sets of parents but we shall see.


Meanwhile,Pete went through his own anxieties about parental roles as his delusional mother insisted that she was getting more than the usual care from her male nurse Manolo.

 Since Manolo had been recommended by Bob Benson, Pete went to him to take care of the situation and received an unexpected offer of affection. I've said from the start that Bob is an Eve Harrington( meaning, a seemingly devoted follower who wants to replace their idol) and now we know who his Margo Channing is. There's only two more episodes left, so let's see where this is going to take us,folks:



On The American Baking Competition, the tasty theme was cake and for the Show Stopper round,it was all about "surprise inside" cakes.

For some contestants like Colette,it was a make or break situation and for others such as James,it was a chance to show off their tech skills(too bad his was over baked,the layers of earth look came out well).

 Flavor was also an issue for most of the cakes but Elaine managed to have both for her win as Star Baker this time. Next week, bread is the name of the game and apparently,Brian is going to have the nerve to ask why he's not Star Baker yet(seriously?). For now,anyway, things are as sweet as they can be:


RANDOM NOTES:

HGTV STAR: Formerly known as Design Star,the competition for those looking to host their own HGTV program is back for another season and we've got quite the cast of characters on deck. It's too soon to tell who has front runner potential but the game playing amongst the designers has already begun:




Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Browsing the library section of the Movie Trailer Park

Now that all of the hoopla surrounding the 3-D release of The Great Gatsby has died down(along with it's box office numbers),we can better focus on other literary adaptations out there.

 Opening up this past weekend,for example, was a new take on Shakespeare's classic play Much Ado About Nothing,from Joss Whedon,who turned his weekend play acting parties with his favorite actors into a major motion picture.

Whedon's actual house in Santa Monica was used for the filming and many of his fans will be amused to spot the likes of Nathan Fillion(Firefly,Dr. Horrible's Sing a Long Blog) and Clark Gregg(The Avengers) amongst the band of jaded folks who find love and a touch of mystery during the course of the story. A special bonus for fans of Angel(yes,the spin-off to Buffy) will be seeing Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker as reluctant lovers,something both of them are amazingly good at:


Also arriving in limited release this weekend was the long awaited adaptation of Tiger Eyes, the first Judy Blume novel to get the big screen treatment. Judy's son Lawrence directed the film and co-wrote the screenplay with his mother,making this quite the family affair.

 The story is centered around Davey(Willa Holland) whose family is uprooted from their home in Atlantic City after the sudden death of her father to stay with relatives out in New Mexico. Between dealings with changes at home and blending into the social circles at her new school,her teen angst  has been raised to the next level.

Davey does come across a potential ally, a boy called Wolf who is doing his best for his ailing grandfather and perhaps the two of them can truly help each other. I remember reading this book back in the day and I'm sure many past and present Judy Blume fans will be eager to see this story come to life on film:



Our next two book to film candidates are making their debuts overseas but will probably hit our movie theaters shores sometime soon. The newest edition of Romeo and Juliet takes it's cues from director Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 version which highlighted the romance between the two lovestruck leads by casting actors close to actual age of the characters.

Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth do the honors here,with seasoned performers such as Paul Giamatti,Natasha McElhone and Skellan Skarsgard on board to guide the erstwhile young lovers along. With a screenplay written by Downton Abbey's Julian Fellowes, audiences of all generations are in for a real classically cinematic treat here:



Speaking of Downton Abbey, those who are still mourning the loss of Matthew Crawley will be pleased to see Dan Stevens as one of the leads in Summer in February,based on the novel by Jonathan Smith.

The setting for this period piece is at an artist colony in Cornwall during the early 20th century and Stevens plays Gilbert Evans who competes with his artist friend AJ Munnings(Dominic Cooper) for the heart of Florence Carter-Wood(Emily Browning).

All three of them were real life figures in this circle of bohemians and while their story may not be as well known to American audiences, I'm sure many Masterpiece Classic followers will be on the lookout for this riveting romance:


One good thing about any book adaptation is that no matter how the film turns out,it does get people to take a look at the original source. Of course, most readers would prefer a great version of their favorite story and sometimes, we get just that.

 More often, the results are less than satisfying but as they say, better something than nothing. The best part is when a title that's not a literary blockbuster gets it's moment to shine in the cinematic spotlight, those Slumdog Millionaires or Best Exotic Marigold Hotels(and yes, I know they changed the title of the latter,but,hey it does have a certain verbal flow to it).

Seeing a bestseller on the big screen is great as well but discovering those hidden gems on a bookshelf near you ,thanks to a shiny new movie,is just as exciting. Granted,exciting can be scary as well but if you keep those thrills at a safe distance,even the dangers of The Hunger Games are worth the price of admission and the turn of the page:


Monday, June 10, 2013

Open Letter to Roseanne,Re: Lindy West and your Twitter outrage


Dear Roseanne,

 As someone who has been a longtime fan of your comedy,I'm come to accept the more over the top antics and statements you make from time to time as part and parcel of appreciating your work. However, your latest bit of notoriety leaves me so ashamed of your actions that I can't even consider enjoying a rerun of your former sitcom any time in the foreseeable future.

What I'm talking about is your Twitter response to Lindy West,a blogger for Jezebel who recently went on the F/X show Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell for a debate about rape jokes with comedian Jim Norton. Their discussion was pretty interesting and thought provoking,yet the aftermath of that talk had Lindy dealing with hundreds of vile insults and threats of violence from those brave souls on the internet who love expressing their freedom of speech so honorably there(and yes, I'm being sarcastic big time).

Granted, you don't have to agree with Lindy's position regarding this issue but your two hour Twitter rant at her where you insist that she was "advocating censorship of comedy" and that Jezebel is  a "woman hating" site that doesn't block offensive comments and " anyone who writes for Jezabel knows that" is not only less than helpful to the situation but it seems to be implying that Lindy "asked for it." Hmm,where have I heard that argument made before?

First off, Lindy has repeatedly said that she is NOT calling for censorship, rather for the comedic community to rethink their approach on the subject. Perhaps if you watch the segment in it's entirety(or re-watch,as the case may be), you'll be able to hear that loud and clear:


Secondly, the position that you and many other comedians take on this issue is that when it comes to terrible things in the world such as rape and murder, being able to laugh at them is a cathartic release and that those who have experienced these horrors up close and personal need to be allowed to make great art out of the tragedy in their lives.

While it is true that many legendary comedians have turned their personal demons into comedic gist for their mill and skillfully manage to blend tears and mirth that invokes empathy as well as good humor for their audiences, that is not what Lindy West and those in her circle are talking about.

Their problem is with jokes made for the most part by men(such as Daniel Tosh) that uses the victim as the punchline instead of the rapist,which can understandably reawaken the pain of that violation for those still suffering. Also, it seems to me that what some of these comics are really upset about is not the backlash from the feminist corner but rather the possibility of "repercussions",namely losing a job over something they said in a public forum because of boycotting.



Well,in my opinion, I think that there is a world of difference in taking away power from an aggressor through humor and somebody making a wisecrack that pours fresh salt into a wound. Also, if losing work over something you said is the worst thing you have to deal with, consider yourself lucky especially when comics like Lenny Bruce and George Carlin actually went to jail over their controversial routines. Sometimes freedom of speech has it's drawbacks and to want to say anything that comes into your head and out of your mouth without any negative consequences is a pretty childish stance to take.

 But back to you,Roseanne. Now you may feel that this is a bunch of whining on the part of Lindy West and other feminists and how you handled it back in your day was good enough for you and should be for them too. Well, no. How you dealt with similar situations in your time may have been your best option then but that doesn't mean the next generation can't step up and demand better. You may feel that your way is best but imposing that standard on younger women who might look to you for guidance and approval is an even worse insult than those made by the expected gang of louts in this debate:


 At the very least, the flood of verbal assaults against Lindy West for taking a stand should have secured your compassion,not your ire or ridicule. Even if you strongly disagree with someone else's view of the world and/or society, wishing them serious bodily harm over it is not the decent mature way to handle it and adding fuel to the fire as you did( I will assume that it wasn't intended that way) is beyond atrocious.

On a personal note, I did read over some of those disgusting statements(and watched Lindy's video where she read them aloud) and felt particular hurt at the ones saying she was "too fat and ugly" to even be a rape victim or have sex in the first place. I'm sure you as a large sized woman(as am I) have heard that one far too many times and while it won't stop any time soon, it is still sickening to hear.

I am far from naive enough to believe that the characters an actor or comic portray on screen are true depictions of their real selves, yet I can't help thinking that the fictional Roseanne would be more sympathetic to a target of abuse that you seem to be here.

 All I would hope for you to do in a situation like this is to respect Lindy West(who rightly blocked from her Twitter account) for standing behind her convictions even if you don't go along with them. You know,like Loretta Lynn said in an episode of your own show! I have no doubt that you could care less than a damn about my opinion here and that's fine. You should know,however, that I am not the only fan you've disappointed with your chosen course of conduct in this matter and who will no longer hold you in the same regard as they once did before.

 In other words, this was badly done,Roseanne! Badly done indeed!

Sincerely,

Lady T and the rest of the folks leaving your audience:




P.S.: It is also a shame that you couldn't have offered the same support as the host of Totally Biased did to Lindy afterwards-guess that proves men aren't as insensitive as you always liked to claim in your former punchlines.










Friday, June 07, 2013

The Hench Woman's Handbook is batting 1000 while a menace from Mansfield is warming up in the writer's pen

It's a proud day here at LRG as my very first e-book,The Hench Woman's Handbook, reached an impressive goal. As of today, it has one thousand downloads and granted,THWHB is a free book so I'm not rolling around in Scrooge McDuck money here yet I am thrilled to have gotten this far with it.

Much thanks is due to my family,particularly my talented sister Stephanie who created the cover art for Hench Woman(and for my other e-books as well) and to everyone out there who read this story and passed the good word on.

Also,special thanks to Tara Chevrestt at Book Babe for giving Hench Woman a great review and to those who check out the Facebook page for THWHB on a regular basis. I appreciate all the support and hope you enjoy my twisted tale of a bad girl being good to her man, in a Harley Quinn type of way:


I'm also pleased to report that my Jane Austen superhero mix,The Austen Avenger,is doing rather well and nearly at three hundred downloads at this point in time.

The positive feedback from the Austen fan community has just wonderful and gratitude is extended to Margaret of Literary Chanteuse and Marianne Curtis for their great blurbs and to Laurel Ann of Austenprose as well as Meredith of Austenesque Reviews for their support of my efforts.

My next e-book project is Jane Austen related(more on that a little later in this post)and unlike TAA,this one will not be free but I promise to make it worth your while and your money. Meanwhile, entering the world of Jane Austen's characters is quite the fun ride although a little bumpy at times:


For my series,The Chronicles of Copper Boom,however, things are a bit slow. Don't get me wrong, I am happy that it does have it's readers but I would like it to get some more attention. Perhaps I should have written as all of one story rather than a five part series,but hey, literary parents aren't perfect.

Since it will be awhile before Part Three is up and ready(due to my focus on my upcoming e-book for next year),there's plenty of time to check out Part I,Party Overkill  and Part II,A Chilling Warmth.  Both books are 99 cents and I plan to have the other chapters at the same price as well.

 The Chronicles of Copper Boom is about a young woman named Penny who hides her superpowers from the world,fearful of what may happen to her as well as what she can do to others. One fateful day, she encounters a super villain known as Kingston Cobre(yes, he's a mutant snake man) and their connection with each other has the possibility of turning Penny into one of the world's finest heroes or a major league enemy of the state.

The theme of the series is influence,how having either the right or the wrong person in your life can help you decide which path in life you ultimately trod upon and I hope this is as an intriguing and entertaining notion to you as it is to me:


And now for my next e-book,which will tie into the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mansfield Park,Jane Austen's most overlooked and yet most debated about novel.

As an admirer of Fanny Price,the mild mannered heroine of the piece, I thought it would be fun to liven her up in a fashion that wouldn't be too out of place with her general disposition. Therefore,the title of this e-book is Fanny Price,Slayer of Vampires.

Told through a secret stash of letters never sent to her seafaring brother William,this monster mash-up has Fanny slowly discover the true source of power that the sinister sibling act of Henry and Mary Crawford have over her cousins,a power fueled by blood and lust. Armed with her inherent sense of morality and a few special vampire fighting tools left in her care by Uncle Norris, Fanny does battle for her beloved Bertram family,not to mention Edmund,the real love of her life.

There will be a price charged for this one(no pun intended,I entreat you!) and cover art provided by my sister Stephanie,who can not thank enough. The book is currently a work in progress yet I plan to have it out by early next winter,when the legacy of Mansfield Park will be on the minds of Austen fans everywhere.

So,thank you all for making The Hench Woman's Handbook a resounding success and I look forward to bringing my particular blend of Jane Austen and vampires to the reading table in 2014: