Hmmm… that doesn’t sound quite right. But you see what I’m saying. He’s my latest hero, and starting tomorrow, he’s everyone’s hunk.
You probably know I’m a Forty-Niners fan. And the Niners didn’t make quite make it to the Super Bowl this year. (We were robbed, I tell you!). But I still have hopes for a ring, thanks to Johnny Spurling. So check out PLAYING FOR KEEPS. And thanks to all of you who read the first story in the series!
Available everywhere tomorrow. Thanks for checking it out.
p.s. I’ve been lax with the movie reviews, but I loved American Hustle. And this week we saw Jack Ryan (Shadow Recruit). My verdict? It’s so great! Pine and Costner, together again for the first time – yum. And seriously, it’s everything it hoped to be. What more can we ask? Go see it if you like light action with hilarious dialogue and spy stuff. You won’t be sorry.
- Current Mood: chipper
I’m so glad we decided to reissue it though because Samhain gave it a gorgeously sparkly cover. The original cover showed a handsome man in a suit at the beach. I mean, it is a story of an FBI agent at the beach but he’s on vacation, so not only does the suit look strange, it is strange.
So here’s the new cover, and I think you’ll agree, it’s pretty. Oh, and the story in a nutshell: Josie Galloway is a defense attorney and when she hears the FBI is questioning her beloved grandma without a lawyer present, she’s livid. She soon learns grandma is just a witness, not a suspect; plus the case is an old, unsolved crime that the agent is trying to solve on his vacation in tribute to his grandfather – the original agent on the case.
Apparently, Locke’s grandfather was so dazzled and lovestruck by Josie’s then-young grandma who was at the scene – aka a honeymoon resort on the beach – he couldn’t properly question her. This lapse has always bugged Locke and he wants to restore the family’s investigative honor. And he knows grandma needs the reward money, so he sees it as a win for everyone. And Josie goes along with it, even though she realizes grandma is matchmaking like crazy. Josie and Locke resist the match-up because (1) she’s trying to protect her grandma’s rights, especially when she realizes grandma was the only witness, and (2) Locke doesn’t want to fall into the same trap his grandfather did by getting lovestruck by a Galloway female. (I wanted the title to be LOVESTRUCK for obvious reasons, but my editor wanted STOLEN KISSES because a jewel heist is the underlying crime. Needless to say I was outvoted.)
I hope you enjoy it! And if you're visiting today because you read PLAY BY PLAY last week and liked it, well thanks! The two books are totally different, so I don't want to mislead anyone given how close together they were released (by two different publishers). PLAY BY PLAY was an experiment in using blog entries as a way of telling a romantic story, so very different from this traditional narrative. On the other hand, they are both romantic comedies at heart, so... (Hmmm, what's my point? I'm not actually trying to discourage anyone from reading SK, just noting the different format and approach. Of course, if you're one of the readers who didn't like the format of P-by-P because it didn't give enough of the heroine's point of view or the on-page love scenes, you might actually like this one better!)
- Current Mood: amused
Sidelined by injury, wide receiver Jake Dublin turned to sports writing for fun and profit. His wildly popular blog – where he waxes athletic on subjects ranging from the pistol offense to the latest NFL expansion teams – also details his personal life. And lately, it’s all about the pretty young woman who just moved into his apartment building. His readers know her as the “Elevator Girl,” and they’re all rooting for Jake to score.
It’s all in good fun, and he fully intends on coming clean with his new girlfriend. That is, until she confides how she grew up in a houseful of jocks, and even dated a few. Her verdict? Never again.
Jake knows he needs to confess. But somewhere along the line, he fell in love with Sophie, and can’t stand the thought of losing her. So he procrastinates, and blogs, and digs the hole deeper, until a showdown so nail-biting, not even the best play-by-play guy could ever have seen it coming.
It's football season! As I've mentioned, I'm a Niners fan, and in the last few years I started reading tons of sports blogs and kinda fell in love with the goofy guys who write them. They're very basic, totally obsessed, and for the most part, they seem like nice guys. So I decided to try writing a love story from the point of view of a sports blogger (complete with blog posts and comments). Next thing I knew, I had PLAY BY PLAY. It's the start of a series, but the rest of the books will be full length and won't be in blogging format.
I dedicated the book to sportswriters because of their inspiration. Go Niners!!
- Current Mood: mischievous
Need I say the critics are wrong?
They panned IRON MAN III/3, and sure it wasn’t the best of the series, but come on. It was pretty darned good. You can’t compare it to perfect, i.e. Iron Man and Iron Man 2. Compare it to movies generally, and you’ll see it’s terrific.
MAN OF STEEL? This was a totally amazing rebirth of a legend. I give it 95 out of 100. Rotten Tomatoes gives it 56 out of 100. [guess who’s wrong…]
THE WOLVERINE? I really enjoyed it. Was it perfect? No. Was it amazing? Abso-wuffing-lutely. I give it 87 out of 100. Rotten Tomatoes gives it 68. Wrong yet again. Oh, and even the critics who rated it positively got it wrong, because their favorite scene was the one on top of the train. Ugh – it’s becoming the new car chase. The genius of this particular movie is simpler: it lets Wolverine be Wolverine. He’s mesmerizing. Such a complicated, flawed yet noble character. And I’m not just saying that because of his abs, so stop looking at me that way.
PACIFIC RIM? I give it 100 out of 100 just for the sheer genius by which they transformed robots and monsters into really cool characters, and the way they gave us Charlie Hunnan (only to take him away – Charlie, we hardly knew ye!)**
I also saw THE CONJURING – yes, one of these things is not like the other. But I love a good scare, and this one delivered. I wish I hadn’t seen it in the theater though, because at one point, I actually screeched. That’s right, screeched. I don’t usually make noises in public. I don’t even burp in public, so honestly, I was mortified, but it didn’t stop me from silently screeching a bunch more times. Verrrrry scary. Hokey, sure, but fright-for-fright I’d say it’s Number Three in my all time lineup of scary: Exorcist, Poltergeist, and now The Conjuring. (and for those of you who say the Exorcist wasn’t scary, well, you didn’t see it the first time in the theater on Easter Sunday – oh my God, I just knew I was going to hell but not before I became you-know-who’s next target.) And as my boyfriend at the time – who later became my husband – will confirm, I wouldn’t be alone for weeks, not even in the bathroom. The loss of my innocence in more ways than one! And one of the big reasons I had to marry him, obviously.
Next up is TWO GUNS. The critics didn’t like it. Deterred I am not.
Seen anything good lately? I’m up for recommendations!
p.s. Notice I didn’t see ELYSIUM. Ugh, it sounded like such a re-tread of a plot to me. And I’m not really a Matt Damon fan. So I passed. Paul went with a group of friends and thought it was fine. I’m pretty sure he’s glad I wasn’t along to lecture them on why it sucked.
And finally, this weekend we saw OBLIVION on pay-per-view. Skipped it in the theater because of the overwhelmingly negative reviews, but actually, it had some good stuff. My opinion as a card-carrying plotter is that they just paced the “reveals’ wrong. Yes, it’s fun to save the plot twists until the end, but sometimes, you’ve got to cough up a few of them early in the story so the viewer can appreciate the brilliance in real time. As it was, I rolled my eyes a lot in the first half, then when I realized what was really going on, I became hyper involved, trying to make up for lost time. Luckily, we had it for 24 hours and could watch it again the next afternoon. Such a good movie the second time! And SPOILER ALERT they did an amazing job of letting the “other woman” be a good, decent person rather than a cyborg bi+ch. I didn’t want to hate her, and turns out I didn’t have to. So kudos to them for finding a fresh way to handle a potentially clichéd situation.
Now I have to watch all the other movies I skipped this year due to bad reviews. Good thing winter is coming.
** If you didn’t hear the news about Charlie Hunnan, I’m glad for you. It’s an abummeration. Not because I disapprove of his new movie but just because I had other plans for him. Like Star Wars VII; or Pacific Rim II, III, IV etc; or the movie adaptation of my new book. Ergo: bummer.
- Current Mood: impressed
But I would trade them all for
Okay, back to PACIFIC RIM. Let’s start with the basics, i.e. what I loved and what I didn’t love.
What I loved – everything.
What I didn’t love – nothing.
For a mech movie, this is the gold standard. Forget silly Transformers and such, this is what mechs are supposed to be – giant machines power by human/sentient beings, bigger than life, awe-inspiring, and just plain exciting.
Oh, and just to prove I can still do a modicum of analysis:
- Mechs: the future :: the lone champion : the ancient world.
There, I said it. Or at least, I :::’d it.
Every culture, every time period, every pivotal moment in history, has its lone warrior. Its gunslinger. Its David vs. Goliath. There’s that one warrior – male or female – who represents us all in the ultimate showdown with evil. If the warrior wins, we win. More importantly, our civilization wins.
In the future, the mech pilot is our champion.
This is why I despise war movies. Battalions battling battalions – ugh. What a waste of life. And for what? It leads to nuclear war, devastation. So much better to have a single champion, or a small squad of champions, stepping into the breach.
So don’t give me D-Day. Give me a mech battle.
Meanwhile, some other reasons you should see this movie:
Charlie Hunnan – we all knew he could be a charming psychopath-in-training, but here he is being charming, valiant, noble, and decent. He’s amazing in this movie. Oh, and yowza on the hotnicity.
Idris Elba – seriously, he may be my favorite actor in the world, at least at the moment. And for two solid reasons – he gives a powerful performance and he’s gorgeous. I would definitely follow him anywhere.
All the other characters – just spot on. You will love them. I don't usually like the corny absent-minded proferssor much less slapstick stuff, but this movie won me over even when it veered into that territory.
The plot? Perfection. Classic mech stuff, and no frills. No padding. Just awesome, non stop fun; unpredictability; and a depth of character that really shouldn’t be there given how little time is spent – seemingly – on characterization. Pure genius.
Going in to this film, I was worried about two potential problems: (1) cheesy special effects and (2) the bizarre idea that each mech is powered by two humans who are psychically linked.
Trust me, the special effects have just the right amount of cheese and they t make your jaw drop exactly as far as it should.
And the two pilots? Well, there’s a history in mech lore about the lone champion(s) forced to work in pairs or a small squad. So I was willing to be convinced, and this movie really sold it. The writers/director always left the door open for the heroism of the single mech pilot, but showed how the pairing of two is almost necessary, and certainly optimal, when the mech is as ginormous as these mechs are.
And trust me, these mechs are huge. I stared at that screen as though in a trance.
You need to see this in the theater. A small screen at home, or even a bit ole 60” screen, won’t cut it. You need to see this as God intended – so big it makes you feel insignificant.
And hurry, because there are so many great movies this year, I’m worried Pacific Rim will get edged out before its time.
p.s. When my husband and I walked out of this show, I looked into his eyes and said, "Wow, right?" And he said, "It was pretty good. I liked it." So reasonable minds can differ on how great it is, but I'm pretty sure it's awesome beyond belief.
- Current Mood: enthralled
- Current Mood: chipper
Nikki Gower is an actress who plays a sexy FBI agent on a hit TV series called Trace Elements, where she is paired with a grouchy, reclusive scientist named Cole. Lucky for all of us he’s good-looking, right?
When the real FBI asks for her help on a real case, she’s intrigued. Apparently, the only eye witness is a four year old girl who loves the TV series, and won’t talk to the agent assigned to the case. She wants Special Agent Annika Trace and no one else will do.
The real agent assigned – Josh Saxon – is not pleased to be working with an actress. Unfortunately, the clock is ticking and he needs to get the eyewitness account, so he grudgingly accepts his new partner.
Throughout the story, we hear all about the TV show, and can’t help seeing the parallels, not just between Nikki and Annika – both of whom are wisecrackers; but also between Josh and Cole – grouchy hunks who try their best to resist Nikki/Annika but slip often enough to make the stories sizzle.
We also hear all about the individual episodes – the "Pilot," where Annika and Cole first met; the episode where Annika gets bitten by a snake and Cole has to discover the antidote; the first season Finale, where viewers expected Annika and Cole to get together, but instead, Cole seems to be headed to bed with an old flame. Nikki and the four-year-old witness watch these episodes together, over and over, as Nikki attempts to charm clues from the little girl. The bad guys are still out there, and the more involved she gets with the case, the more she becomes embroiled in danger – life and death, and also of the romantic variety.
To make a long story short, we decided to include the Pilot Episode of Trace Elements in the back of the book, and also to make it available as a free read on the publisher’s site. If you want to see how Annika first met Cole, here’s a link! If it doesn’t work, you can try going directly to Beyond the Page Publishing and click on the book cover.
And speaking of the cover, there's a thumbnail image in the header. It doesn’t actually have a lot to do with the story, but it’s so eye-catching, we decided to run with it anyway. I hope you agree!
- Current Mood: jubilant
It’s one of those summer blockbusters with the blow ’em up mentality that can backfire (har har) but in this case, everything works. Channing Tatum did a great job of being brave yet complex, and as for Jamie Fox, well he can be my president any day. He has the ability to seem completely serious, to have political savvy, and still give us the sincerity and optimism we want in a leader.
And the rest of the performers are terrific as well. Maggie Gyllenhaal, whom I didn’t always enjoy as a performer, is becoming one of my favorites and in this show she doesn’t disappoint. James Woods was James Woods – in other words, he played his part very well.
There was a kid, which of course sets off warning bells, but even she was absolutely perfect in her role. Sulky teenager, but not too sulky. Smart mouth, but not to an extreme. Smarter than the average kid, but not a savant. When the moment came for me to cry over the poignancy of it all, I didn’t even mind. I usually hate that tug-at-the-heartstring manipulation stuff, but this time, I felt they truly earned it, so I didn’t fight it when my eyes welled up.
So yes, a perfect blend of schmaltzy heroism, explosions, great characters, humor and sharp dialogue, making it my second favorite film of 2013 after MAN OF STEEL. (Oh wait, I loved Iron Man 3 too. And The Hobbit was good -- was that 2013? Time flies. But still, I think the order stands in terms of my top two.)
Which leads me to ask, what the heck is wrong with the critics this year? They keep getting it wrong! Thank God I don’t rely on them in selecting my entertainment.
Next up? PACIFIC RIM. Woo-hoo, I can’t wait. And yes, the critics seem to be panning this one too. Let’s hope that’s a good omen!!
Meanwhile, go and see WHITE HOUSE DOWN. You won’t be disappointed if you’re looking for sharp entertainment with little-to-no angst or message. And frankly, on a hot summer’s day in Sacramento (100 degrees plus), that’s exactly what I’m looking for. Save the message for winter, right?
P.S. If you’ll recall, I was especially impressed by the trailer for this movie because I had just finished reading a novel about an attack on the White House, and the novel – while lauded by such critics as Publishers Weekly – had proven devoid of excitement, characterization, or charm. Instead, it was a mess of clichés about terrorists and muscles and women who get weak at the knees. I can assure you, WHITE HOUSE
- Current Mood: giddy
But now that you’ve all made your decision to to see it or not see it, I’ll spill.
It’s fine. They didn’t make the mistake I thought they would, which was to make it too dark. (Silly me for being swayed by the title!) I always thought of the original STAR TREK as the ultimate foray into unbridled optimism, futuristic style. JJ Abrams respected that in his first movie, and I worried he’d go dark in the sequel, but he respected the optimism this time as well. So whew.
So what’s my issue?
Here’s my true confession: I loved TOS (the original series). And I disliked the follow up TV show (Star Trek: The Next Generation). Why did I dislike it? Because it destroyed everything we loved about TOS.
I didn’t watch TOS when it first aired. But when my future husband and I were in law school, the re-runs aired on TV in the afternoon, and since we needed a break around that time every afternoon, we gobbled them up. I loved those episodes. I loved Kirk, I loved Spock, I loved McCoy. Did I dislike the portrayal of females – even female professionals – in limited roles with short skirts? Yep. It was the only thing I would have changed about that crazy series.
Fast forward to Star Trek: the Next Generation – TNG. My kids and husband liked it, but to me, it robbed
But JJ Abrams went with the original, and in his first STAR TREK, he not only remained faithful to 95% of it, but actually fixed the 5% I hated, i.e. the portrayal of females as subordinates with long legs and limited intellects. In this first outing, JJ kept the legs but respected the whole person. Needless to say, I loved that movie.
In his sequel,
Oh, and when they show Kirk in bed with some extraterrestrials? They are silly twins with tails. TAILS, I tell you. No other extraterrestriasl in this story are portrayed as vapid sex kittens. Only the females, and trust me, there aren’t too many females.
So I was annoyed. Then we got to Benedict Cumberbatch as the villain. Did he do a great job? Absolutely. He might have become my favorite Star Trek villain of all time if only he hadn’t carried the name of Kahn.
In Cumberbatch’s portrayal, Kahn is intellectually superior. And physically superior. So far so good. But in terms of primal superiority? Passion? The emotional control of everyone around him? No, just no. He’s not Kahn. He’s an amazing super-villain, but he’s no Kahn.
Travel back to law school with me. Ricardo Montalban played Kahn in the episode that started it all. If you’ve only seen the follow-up movie – THE WRATH OF KAHN – you haven’t seen Kahn at his best.
Kahn has primal urges. He’s the ultimate superman, not only in terms of strength and intelligence, but raw passion. It’s not politically correct, but if you watch that original episode, you can’t help but see why I was so easily swayed. We were ALL easily swayed. Not just Kahn’s followers, but the crew of the Enterprise. And seriously, not just the female crew members, although they literally drooled whenever he glanced at them. The guys were sabotaged too. Like he grabbed us all by the primal guts to the point where we would follow him literally into the bowels of hell.
It’s almost as if that early episode was saying: this super-man isn’t just strong and smart and strategically gifted. He’s super in a primal way. It’s raw, it’s instinctive, and while we no longer wish to choose our heroes on that basis, because we have learned to value democracy and reason, we can still fall prey to it, at least momentarily, when we let our guard down.
So to me, that’s Kahn. Do I think Benedict C could have projected that kind of animal magnetism if Abrams had asked it of him? No doubt. But Abrams didn’t. He relied on the movie – THE WRATH OF KAHN – and didn’t bother to do his homework
But Kahn was born in the TV series, not the movie. And frankly, those of us who loved the series were the ones that made THE WRATH OF KAHN such a hit. It was the second movie based on the series, and we all panned the first one because it rejected its roots. So then they made the KAHN movie, thus revitalizing the movie franchise and paving the way to a zillion more TV and movie portrayals.
My point? If JJ hadn’t backslid on Ohura; and if he had either (1) given Cumerbatch license to portray Kahn in all his primal glory or (2) created a new Star Trek villain for him to play, or even chosen one of the intellectual villains from the old series, like Gary whats’is-name, then this movie would have been another triumph.
As it is, it’s very good. I loved the continued faithfulness to the characters of Kirk, Spock and McCoy. I don’t love the elevation of Scotty, but I can live with it because his sidekick is so hilarious. I don’t like the glib nods to the old series – the Tribble, the dragging out of Nimoy to add nothing to the conversation, the reference to our favorite nurse – but I could live with those.
But really – Kahn? (Picture me shaking my fist and raising my anguished eyes and voice to the heavens)
If you like Star Trek, you should see this film. As for me, I’m glad I saw it, and I hugely enjoyed the interactions with Kirk, Spock and McCoy.
But unlike the first Abrams movie, which I loved in the theater and purchased the day it was released on
- Current Mood: creative
I loved this movie so much I want to absorb it, Borg-style. It’s easily my favorite film of the year so far and by far. If it weren’t for the last twenty minutes of this excellent film, I’d probably label it perfect, but of course, it’s not.
But it’s fantastic. Dare I say, super?
I never really liked the Superman saga because he was a little too perfect. A little too goody-goody. And because no one recognized him when he wore glasses.
He bored me. Sure, he angsted over not being able to tell Lois who he really was. And as Superboy he angsted over not being able to tell people things too.
But something was always missing. And in this movie, we find out what we always knew – it’s tough being an extraterrestrial on a provincial planet. It sucks knowing that if people knew who and what you were they would seek to destroy you, even if who and what you are is a hero.
Plus, his parents were destroyed cataclysmically before he could ever really meet them. It bothered him in previous iterations, sure, but did it bother him enough? Not until now.
In other words, Superman always should have been the most tormented of the superheroes, yet he was always the most superficial.
MAN OF STEEL changes all that. Now I can respect Kal-El/Clark in a way I couldn’t when he was too superficially perfect. And the old version was glib as well! Yes, I know my favorite superhero IRON MAN is glib too, but he earned it. Now that Superman has depth, he actually isn’t glib at all. He’s solid as a rock. Okay, solid as steel.
So we finally have a Superman story that makes us care. And a Superman who makes us fall in love. Because honestly, did anyone ever fall in love with the movie Superman of the past? No. The closest video contender was on Smallville, and even there, all the angst was centered on: I wish I could tell everyone, especially Lana, how SUPER I am.
That’s my favorite thing about MAN OF S
This movie transforms the myth, at least in my eyes.
So here we are in 2013, and so far, I’d say IRON MAN III was good, but not as good as the other two.
You should see it. And see it with an open mind. The critics seem to focus on the strangest things in regard to this movie. For example, most of the criticism accuses it of being too dark, whereas seriously, it was always too light, too silly, in the past. So darkening it up makes sense to me. They also talk about too many explosions, et cetera. Really? As much as I agree that the final blast-em-up scenes made me yawn, I feel that way about almost every action movie from the last two years.
And not romantic enough? Sheesh, for once I feel like there was a real connection between Clark and Lois, not the silly “I love you when you’re in your underwear but not when you're in a suit, and I love you when you save me” basis for true love in the older versions. Also, I appreciate it that the new Lois doesn’t get the vapors every time she looks at his muscles, because seriously, either she’s a professional or she’s not. (I’m looking at you, Uhura of Star Trek II.)
Other big surprises of the positive variety: (1) I loved Russell Crowe in this and I didn’t think I would. I broke up with him a while back, so it’s fun to love him again. (2) Fleshed-out villains!! (3) A fortress of solitude that actually makes sense. (4) Amy Adams in a role that doesn’t just say: “Isn’t she adorable, and so feisty too?”
Minor quibbles: (1) Kal? Over and over again? Not Kal-El? Even though Jor-El is never referred to as Jor? (2) hmm, I have a few more, but seriously, this movie is awesome, so never mind.
I’m still trying to decide if this movie is honestly great, or if it’s just soooooo, soooo much better than preceding Superman movies.
I will give Christopher Nolan his due – he made me appreciate Batman, who always seemed like a pretender. And now he has made me see the awesomeness that is Superman.
I’m so grateful.
p.s. I saw this a couple of weeks ago, and I saw Star Trek the Wrath of Yawn a while back too. I just didn't have time to post because of a new job (and general laziness).
- Current Mood: chipper