Thursday, December 15, 2005

All Things Rachel

Well, I'm back to report that the reading at Borders in Westwood on Tuesday night was a huge success! Paul's new book, Adriane on the Edge is amazing and I'm part way through it and on a mission to finish by the weekend. I've been thinking about holiday movies and re-makes. King Kong is a big movie coming out, but one thing I don't like it the advanced CGI in these films like HULK because the way they've used special effects in these types of films. It seems that Hollywood has run out of ideas when big budget re-makes are done and marketed for the holidays. It's a pretty easy equation as far as money's concerned, but a creative choice? Not really. As the weekend approches I'm gearing up to see a holiday movie--The Family Stone. Holiday in the true sense of dysfunctional family fun--not a sequel of the ever-so-popular Tim Allen Santa Clause or the George C. Scott version of Scrooge and actually-- not based on any book. I'm going essentially for two reasons: Rachel. McAdams. (well, I am a fan of Sarah Jessica Parker & Diane Keaton too--the whole cast really) but I have to say that Rachel's history of film choices (The Notebook--based on Nicholas Sparks book) and Wedding Crashers, not to mention the sleeper hit Red Eye are all films that have made Rachel a rising talent and yes, as my boyfriend Anthony puts it, "She's hot!" So, there's that. She can act and she's hot. That's a great thing. She's polite and very smart when it comes to being wise about what she talks about (ie: she wouldn't say anything bad about the Vanity Fair shoot that wanted her to pose nude and the "artistic differences" that arose from the situation) on the radio (with Ryan Seacrest) or does she ever in interviews. However, as Tod Goldberg mentiones, you rarely see a film based on a book do well at the box office. And with so many great novels out there, so many great characters, one has to wonder, what gets lost in translation? I'm a fan of good movies, based on novels or not. And although it disappoints me that there are so few books that get made into successful movies, The Family Stone will be at the top of my list, regardless of it's origin.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

All of you living in So. Cal should come on out to the Borders in Westwood to hear Paul Mandelbaum read from his new novel-in-stories, Adriane on the Edge and have a Manhattan. You will also be able to find a review and feature on Paul sometime in january or February that I will be doing. In addition, I also have a new pick for you all, Read! Read! Read! Joe Meno's, "Bluebirds used to Croon in the Choir--Stories." I can't tell you how excited I am to read these books not to mention those books I've reviewed that will appear in next month's Bookslut. I need to write out holiday cards and skip on over to Westwood so I'll check back in with you before Friday to see how it's all going.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Oy Vay! The Holidays!

I have been on a little hiatus the past month for a myriad of reasons, one being that I was lazy and two being that I was busy--so I guess in some ways that negates the lazy. However, I find myself on the first of December with almost all of my Christmas shopping done and I just know I will find things to buy in the meantime. We will be getting our first tree tomorrow night since thus far we've never been in town long enough to have one. Although we'll be travelling a lot this holiday season, we are getting a tree. I am anticipating our cats to go wild with the idea of ribbon and bows and just the thought of wrapping paper. Hopefully the tree will still be standing by the end of it all. In the midst of all this, I finally found time to read a very interesting feature by Alan Rifkin today that a friend of mine was kind enough to send to me. I haven't had a second to read the LA Times in about 2 weeks and papers begin to pile up. So, if you haven't read this, you can check it out here: Writing In the Dust. I highly recommend.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Straight out of the 70's

I've spent my young life as a kid around greasy auto parts and a dad who uttered phrases like, "sonofabitch" while trying to fix things on cars. But on occasion, I would go with him to the auto parts store or to some sort of garage to have said part fixed. They used to have those cheesy posters clad with women in some Mac Tools bikini or posing with some NASCAR guy--which, for some men gets the job done, I guess. But what's worse than the made-up girls in tacky car-sponsored outfits are the offices attached to the mechanic(s). Wood paneling and some Minimum wage signed posted on the side of a file cabinet from 1972, furniture circa 1981 and restrooms that are usually as filthy as a gas station. Now, I get the fact that men working on cars aren't going to be into decor (and if they were, I'm betting they wouldn't be mechanics) but I have to say--decor or not, I think we could at least move into the 90's. It's a universal thing too.

This morning was just more evidence to confirm my suspicion that all men, if left to their own devices will live in squalor and never feel the need to clean, or update their surroundings. I went to a Glass Repair shop to have them install a motor/regulator for my window since mine had decided to quit. After making the trek to Sun Valley to get the part from a junkyard (which also seemed to be stuck in the mid-70's) I arrived to a place that had a huge sign that was probably a good 40 years old. I waited for someone to arrive since I was there before it opened. Once the owner showed up, I was introduced to some old magazines, wicker chairs with stained seat cushions and a computer in the "office" that looked older than a Commodore 64. I noticed as we listened to Howard Stern on the radio that his voice was coming from a boom box that was probably used in a Run DMC video in the 80's. I left feeling secure that anytime I get my car repaired (unless I'm at a dealer) I will be able to re-visit my past--wood paneling and all. Along with my experience in the auto shop, I also took a short trip back in time last night when I sat down to watch The Amityville Horror. While I'm not easily scared by horror films, this one did creep me out. I think I'd have been okay if the whole thing weren't true. I just kept thinking about it even when I went to bed last night. I just can't get past some of those terrible images and how creepy it was. I think I'll stick to Zombie movies and things that make me laugh.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Soul of a Leech and Library Geeks

I have five bookshelves at home that are filled with all of my books, in no particular order. I have contemplated making them alphabetical, but it takes too much time and then there was the idea to put books together that had similar plots, yet it seemed a bit too tedious a task to sit and organize them all. Apparently, organizing titles is just the tip of the iceberg if you are a member of It's the booknerd's dream. The idea of tagging your books or going beyond alphabetizing your collection really screams to me, "I have no life!" Jessa Crispin has written about her brief experience trying to catalog her titles and the mad competition that exists in organizing and cataloging your titles over at The Book Standard. And within your collection let's hope Mary Roach's new novel, Spook, will be a part of it. Mary Roach talks with the fine folks at The Book Standard about how serious the people are who deal with mediums and ultimately weighing souls, whether they be leeches or something bigger:

TBS: Spook is a very funny book. Did any of the researchers and scientists you were interviewing have a sense of humor about what they were doing?
MR: They take it pretty seriously. They’re not a yuk-it-up bunch.
TBS: But then didn’t you have trouble keeping a straight face at times—for example, when you were talking to the scientist who is weighing the souls of leeches?
MR: No, because they approach it pretty seriously. In the case of the leech-weigher, I was scrambling so much with the quantum mechanics he was throwing at me that there wasn’t any room for a giggle. I have, believe it or not, a lot of respect for these folks because they do something that gets a lot of eye-rolling and also because they are risking their academic reputations.
TBS: Why do you think people try to prove the existence of the soul with such fervor?
MR: The heyday of this stuff was right after World War One, when just about every family had lost sons. Plus that era came right on the heels of the wireless telegraph, the telephone and electricity, which all seemed like magic. I think that when asked to accept [those devices] as science, it wasn’t much of a leap to think that a voice from the beyond could be channeled through a medium. I think people said, “Heck, if they can send a wireless message from here to Spokane, why wouldn’t that be possible.”

Now I'm curious--is it good to have your soul be heavy or lighter in mass and what does it mean? I guess I'm thinking it's all relative depending on your species. But then, I'm no expert. I'll leave that to the scientists and, well . . . Mary Roach.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I have the need . . . the need for HEAT!

In Los Angeles, many people argue that there are no seasons here. I, for one am not one of those people. Granted--Southern California has become one of the few places that will allow you to get away with wearing light sweats on the beach, no matter what time of year it is but I have to say after the rain coming down the past couple days and the chill in the air--I'm ready to break out the warm clothes, cover up in a warm blanket on the couch and watch Breaking Bonaduce (this is one train-wreck I swore I wouldn't watch and it has sucked me in.) As much as I love the warm weather and being a short drive away from the ocean--I really am prepared to break out my best sweaters and wool pants. The leaves still turn colors here and trees still blossom in the spring. But fall has a definite air about it. You know when it's arrived, even if you live in Los Angeles. For me, when I have to put on the UGG boots to walk around the house in the morning to keep my feet warm and when I have to fire up the old wall heater (which smells terrible from having gone un-used for the past 8 months) and those catchy OLD NAVY holiday ads appear--I know it's time! As much as I enjoy flip-flops and t-shirts--I really can't enjoy the JCREW catalog or say, L.L. Bean's Christmas issue when I have the air-conditioner on in my house. For all you nay-sayers out there, I'm here to tell you LA's getting colder, damnit. It is! And, I will be needing to purchase items to keep me warm when it hits 60 degrees and it gets so cold that my teeth begin to chatter and goosebumps pertrude. Folks, trust me--it's fall in LA and there's just no denying it--So, there!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Who said Different isn't Better?

Writing short-stories or any story for that matter isn't easy. Most of us who write know how difficult eeking out 12 + pages can be, yet for those of us who do manage to sit down everyday and put words on the page (okay, well maybe not everyday like I should) we know that having something different and original as far as story ideas go can be daunting. Ander Monson is a 30 year old writer who has published a new collection of stories called, "Other Electricities." This collection does not follow the mold when it comes to short-stories. The beginning of the book has an entire directory with words that are defined by the author as well as a tree with how each person/character relates to one another and what story you find them in. These stories are incredibly smart, eccentric and even fall into what we consider to be experimental fiction. When I read stories like his, I become incredibly inspired. Not just because I've witnessed another writer writing well, but rather because he has created a style all his own.

Mainstream fiction is readily accepted by readers when it tends to follow a certain structure, a certain style. But I think experimental fiction (even with a small audience) stands a good chance of being noticed by publishing houses and even by readers when we read stories like Monson's (for full review see Bookslut.) In a day and age where actresses like Selma Blair can get their short stories published for no apparent reason (see Standby Bert), it makes you really appreciate the writers who work very hard to get their stories published and truly spend time doing what they do because they can't imagine doing anything different. It does pain me to think that Ander Monson is my same age and he has an "Other Works by Ander Monson" page already, but then I've never heard of a writer being washed up at any age (unless you're a romance novelist) . . . so there is still hope for me yet! (Those folks over at 3rd Bed gave me the best rejection I have yet to receive--I mean that in all honesty.)

Friday, October 07, 2005

Hawaii's not all Luaus and Bellydancers

Most nights I have some sort of a squabble with Anthony over what we will watch on TV. He's more of a COPS, Reno 911, & National Geographic kind of guy and I prefer the Friends re-runs, TBS shows or even 30 minute meals with Rachel Ray; however he has introduced me to the strange world of Bounty-Hunting with Dog, The Bounty Hunter and I've got to say, I'm intrigued. The show's based in Hawaii and Dog, along with his family run a bail-bond outfit that keeps them going after various derelicts. Dog's wife, son, brother and others help to bring down the man/woman of the hour. The mission begins simply by them getting details from someone who's turning them in or from a tip from a family member, but not before they all have a quick prayer and grab their cans of mace. Until I saw this show, I had no real appreciation for the career that is Bounty Hunting. Once the person in question is caught, Dog gives them a lecture and then, it gets a little strange. He becomes their buddy, their "go-to" person. He wants to make sure these wife-beaters, drug users and felons are o.k. Dog gets so incredibly invested in bringing these people in that it makes it hard to believe he'd befriend him/her after they've been cuffed and the job is done. Aside from the terrible opening song, sung by Ozzy--the show has potential. And the show does give a good look at the non-touristy end of things. You're not getting surfboards and pineapples. As much as I enjoy this show, I think I'm still inclined to put on a Family Guy episode and get a few laughs in.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

A little Obsession Never Hurt Anyone . . . okay, well maybe.

Growing up, I was a huge Barbra Streisand fan. My dad had an album or two of hers but I never really listened to them. I think I began liking her when I listened to some of her records at my grandma's house in high school, which is odd considering most of my friends were listening to Aerosmith, They Might Be Giants, The Ramones and Aztec Camera. To say I ended up being obsessed with Barbra Streisand is putting it mildly. Pretty much everyone in my family can't hear a song of hers without cringing. In high school I even auditioned for our musical doing the same "I'd Rather be Blue" song in full roller-skates with faux grapes on the shoulders in my replica outfit a la Funny Girl. I can't tell you the hours of Barbra I put my friends through making them listen to such fabulous lyrics like, "Rub it on my belly like guava jelly." Now, I'm not talking about crazy stalker shit like Catherine Zeta-Jones's stalker , but I am talking about non-stop movie-marathons of The Way We Were and The Main Event. However, after all these years I don't think I've listened to a single Barbra Streisand album in at least ten or so years and I don't think I've bought one in half that. But when she released her newest album recently with Barry Gibb entitled Guilty Pleasures, I perked up. Although I'm not quite as big a Bee Gee fan, of all 50 some-odd albums I had once owned, I really liked Guilty. Guilty was one of the few albums that I was really into and felt like when I listened to that one inparticular my family didn't go as crazy. Barbra at full volume all the time for 2 years is pretty tough to take. And in high school I even found me a boyfriend who liked Barbra as much as I did. (I'm sure all of you know how long that lasted, because as we all know, most men who like Barbra Streisand are . . . usually not hetero.) What can I say, I was 17. I like me some Barbra tunes, but all things in moderation, right?I think now I've spent enough time away from Barbra music, movies (and stealing her trash) to maybe enjoy Guilty Pleasures--and really . . . to have it be just that.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Onthebus is now Inthehouse

Last night, we were given a lost & found copy of the literary journal, ONTHEBUS which features poetry, prose, essays and other items of literary note. With the masses of journals and literary magazines that are out there, it's hard to be aware of all of them. This issue (from 1997) features work by Charles Bukowski (as a staple) and that alone attracted us initially, until we read Bukowski and recall who we really like is John Fante and this was, well . . . not that. We enjoy the lit. journals that are fairly equal in their poetry/prose ratio, however this was a bit heavy on the poetry, which is fine but we have a much easier time with the prose. Because there's so much choice out there when it comes down to what you actually take the time to read and because there are literary journals and magazines piling up that we haven't had the chance to read, it makes it that much easier to put down something that doesn't end up turning out to be what you thought it might. ONTHEBUS features writers from our college hometown, Long Beach, such as Gerald Locklin, Lisa Glatt & Charles Webb which makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but in the end, we have a funny feeling our copy of ONTHEBUS will remain on the shelf, as the TBR pile is huge and I can't seem to keep from buying more books when there are still so many things that we want to read! Next on the list: Laila Lalami's, "Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits" --(Do check this one out if you can. She's a fellow blogger and writer and I'm sure there will only be more good things to come.)

Friday, September 30, 2005

Fires & Quakes & Hurricanes, oh my!

I'm now a functioning part of the blogosphere, but I tend to get lazy, (as in it took me almost a year to do anything with the blog once I created it!) so I will make every effort not to become blase about it.

So, this morning, I left my house in Sherman Oaks to go to work and there was an odd gray ash all over the hood of my car and windshield. I've encountered bird diahrrea on my car and many other forms of debris, but never ash. The fires that have been burning in the Simi Valley area have now burned 21,000 acres and the sky could not have looked more ominous last night. As Anthony and I got in the car to go to dinner, we couldn't help but think we were at a city-wide barbeque. The fires don't come close to the disaster we've seen with the hurricanes, but it helps remind us that no one is safe from natural disaster.

My dad works for a company that purchases air-tankers that put out these fires. It's a tough job and it's times like this that I am thankful for the fact that those planes essentially help to save families and their homes and possibly their lives. Yet, it's because of those fires that my dad made a living throughout my childhood.

I hope that by the end of the weekend the air is a little clearer and the stuff floating around in the air won't contribute to my already wacky state of mind for my weekend. LA could use a break from the bad air, one way or another.