Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Don't Blame the Democrats!

Wow, so many things are going on that I totally missed that I had written my 1,000th post yesterday. I can't believe I've had 1,000 things to say in the past 3 years. Yeah me!

And wasn't last night's Gossip Girl awesome? It totally made up for the fact that I have yet to pick a favorite couple on Dancing with the Stars. I'm just not that excited. Truthfully I had more fun watching the NKOTB Behind the Music special than I did DWTS. Maybe it's the fact that so many of the celebrities are pretty bad (I'm talking about you Kim Kardashian and Rocco DiSpirito) and not in a fun way. When Brooke Burke is wowing the judges with her dancing (and surprisingly she's kinda good), it's a wacky world. I feel for Karina Smirnoff. According to my dance teacher, she's the only one of the pros, who has an international title, yet apart from the two Mario's, she's had dud after dud of partners. Is it because she's not as family friendly cute as Cheryl Burke and Julianne Hough? Or because she comes off as kind of desperate to win?

In other news, the bailout bill proposed by the President was defeated in the house 228 to 205, and this time you can't blame the Democrats because more Republicans voted nay than Democrats. Of course, McCain tried to blame Obama and the Democrats for the defeat because Nancy Pelosi blamed Bush for getting the country in the situation in the first place. Guess what, it's not their fault that the Republican members are more worried about saving their seats and their asses. Yeah, sure Obama could have gotten on the horn and tried to persuade more Democrats to vote yes, but clearly he wasn't sold on the deal in the first place. I guess McCain can't take credit for brokering the deal since it didn't go through.

Loved Jon Stewart's take on McCain suspending his campaign to fix things and they are still not fixed.

Sigh, is November 4th here yet?

There is however some good news. Today is the Jewish New Year and it is also the release date for Liz Maverick's new book Irreversible with the groovy cover that looks straight out of the AHA video from the eighties.

You can see the cover here and read an excerpt or just go out and buy the book!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tag, I'm It!

I have been tagged by Kwana!
Ok here goes...
Here are the rules:Link to the person who tagged you.
Post the rules on your blog.
List 6 unspectacular quirks you have.
Tag 6 bloggers by linking them.
Leave a comment on each person’s blog to let them know they’ve been tagged.
And now, to my singularly unimaginative quirks:

1. I'm stealing the first one from Kwana and Jax. I can only drink water at room temperature. I will actually ask the waiter to bring me water with no ice.

2. Although I tan easily, I hate sitting in the sun. I would rather sit under a tree with a book than sunbathe. During camp, I would deliberately get knocked out early in dodge ball, so that I could sit in the shade.

3. I love ABBA. I know they are cheesy and the two women had absolutely no rhythm, but I still love them.

4. I can't stand people who pop their gum. Seriously, I have come close to hurting people on the subway who pop and crack their gum. I'm sorry, I think it is the most disgusting habit on the planet, and people who do it are totally low class.

5. I have to have my Starbucks chai tea latte with no water and no foam. And I will make them remove the foam if I see any. Seriously for $4.23 a pop, the cup should be filled to the brim.

6. I can't stand the smell of vinegar, unless it is balsamic. However, it does clean out the drains.

Okay, I'm torturing Marianne, Liz Maverick, Hope Tarr, Leanna, Maureen, and Keira

Friday, September 26, 2008

McCain Makes A Boo-Boo

By now, everyone has heard about how John McCain was supposed to appear on The Late Show with David Letterman, but cancelled at the last minute, citing his need to suspend his campaign to focus on the economy. He told Letterman personally that he was on his way to the airport.

Unfortunately for McCain he got caught in a little bit of a life. He may have been on his way to the airport, but he managed to stop off at CBS News to be interviewed by Katie Couric about his decision.

And to top it all off, Letterman was informed of this in the middle of the taping, and showed the feed of McCain being interviewed by Couric to the audience. So now the entire viewing audience of Late Night believes that McCain is a big fat liar who dissed Letterman for Katie Couric. Of course, Letterman went to town on McCain, and his decision to suspend his campaign for the moment, and not in a funny ha-ha way. He apparently talked what McCain might do, if say he decided he wanted to suspend being President for awhile. It was clear that Dave was quite pissed off.

Now of course it is entirely possible that while he was on his way to the airport, CBS News called and grabbed him to come in for an interview, but it was certainly unfortunately timing on his part. Particularly since Letterman has been very good to him. McCain has been on the show something like 15 times, and announced his run for President on the show. It was not a good thing for him to have pissed Letterman off.

And just to show that not all conservatives are taken in by Sarah Palin, here is list of Sarah Palin's lies listed by Andrew Sullivan on the Atlantic Monthly blog.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Movie Review: The Duchess

Last Friday night I went to see The Duchess with one of my closest friends to cap off a pretty up and down week. I thought "hey a movie with pretty costumes, yeah!" Unfortunately there is only one word to describe this movie and that is adequate.

The plot in a nutshell involves a vibrant beauty, Lady Georgiana Spencer, who marries an older man, William Cavendish, the 5th Duke of Devonshire and goes to live with him in his beautiful London mansion, Devonshire House. But she quickly learns that her husband prefers his dogs to her. She becomes a celebrity of her time and ends up trapped in an unhappy triangle with her husband and his live-in mistress. She falls passionately in love with an ambitious young politician, Charles Grey (later 2nd Earl Grey and Prime Minister, you know the one the tea is named after) and the affair causes a bitter conflict with her husband and threatens to erupt into a scandal.

Keira Knightley suffers beautifully as Georgiana but she is not given much more to do than to look hurt, and to be a clotheshorse. While she wears the costumes well, I was always conscious of how painfully thin she is, especially compared to the paintings of the real Georgiana. Ralph Fiennes manages to capture the essence of a man for whom duty and appearances were all. He manages to act with his entire body where as Knightley seems to act mostly with her jawline. However, the writers have included a scene between the Duke and Duchess that I found inexplicable and hard to deal with. There is a brilliant moment towards the end of the film where husband and wife try to reach out to each other if only briefly. Hayley Atwell, as Lady Bess, is not really given much to hang her character on. Did Bess love the Duke, was she calculating, or did she have genuine affection for Georgiana?

A movie of less than 2 hours can never hope to do justice to the complexities of the relationship between Georgiana, her husband, and Lady Bess Foster, nor does this movie even try. The film spends entirely too much time emphasizing the parallels between Georgiana and her however many greats niece, Lady Diana Spencer, future Princess of Wales. Hmm, let's see, both married older men who were emotionally distant, and who preferred the company of another woman, leaving the beautiful wife to flee into the arms of an adoring lover. However, Prince Charles never moved Camilla into Kensington or Buckingham Palace, forcing Diana to share living space with her rival. Nor were Camilla and Diana ever best friends the way Georgiana and Bess were.

The movie muddles up even the basic facts of the triangle. When Georgiana met Lady Bess in Bath, she had been married for about six years, and had yet to have her first child. The movie gets it right that she was hoping that taking the waters at Bath would help her to conceive. Lady Elizabeth Foster was the daughter of the Earl of Bristol. She and her sister, both seperated from their husbands, were living in genteel poverty when she met Georgiana. Soon the two women were bosom buddies, and Bess and the Duke were sharing long rides out in the countryside. Bess was hired initially as a governess to the Duke's illegitimate daughter Charlotte Williams, who she spent almost two years abroad with.

No one knows for sure when Lady Bess and the Duke became lovers. And Georgiana apparently didn't find out until it was revealed that Bess and the Duke had had a child together, Caroline St. Jules (who later married George Lamb, the brother-in-law of Lady Caroline Lamb). Bess seemed to fill a need in both the Duke and the Duchess. She gave Georgiana the affection and attention that she craved, and she seemed to be able to stroke the Duke's ego the way that Georgiana was incapable of doing. She was the linchpin that allowed the marriage to work between the Duke and Duchess. Instead in the movie, we never see the relationship develop between Bess and the Duke. Georgiana comes home one day and hears them in bed. When she asks Bess why, Bess explains her actions away by telling her that the Duke promised to help her gain access to her children (which for some reason the writers have given her three sons instead of two, perhaps to emphasize Georgiana's inadequacies more?)

The other problem with the movie is that the trio seem to exist in a bubble. The rest of Georgiana's, apart from her mother, doesn't exist in the film, nor does the Duke's. And how can they make a movie without the Prince of Wales? Especially since the Regency crisis occurred during the time period of the film. Instead, the audience is introduced to Charles James Fox, and Richard Brinsley Sheridan who function as sort of lackeys to Georgiana, you know in between writing plays and governing.

There is hardly any mention of what was going on in the outside world apart from a brief mention of the Whigs supporting the Americans in the Revolution and a fleeting reference to the revolution in France. Georgiana's life as a political hostess is completely truncated, nor does the audience get more than a glimpse of her gambling which was a serious addiction for her. During her lifetime, she was constantly fighting off her creditors, at certain points she owed over 100,000 pounds. She was also possibly anorexic or bulemic and addicted to opiates to deal with the hollowness of her life. She was also an author, who published her only novel at the age of twenty-one, as well as a poetess.

In the movie, Lord Charles Grey is depicted as her contemporary, when in reality he was 7 years her junior. When they met, she had finally given birth to two daughters, Little G and Harriet, always called Harryo, but the pressure to give birth to a son was overwhelming. Grey basically chased her, and she was flattered by his attentions. He wasn't her first affair, she'd already possibly been intimate with her good friend Charles James Fox, and she was very close to the Duke of Dorset, one of the great womanizers of the age (a man who had also had an affair with Bess). When the Duke tells Georgiana that she must end her relationship with Charles Grey because of the scandal, I had to laugh. As if living openly in a menage a trois was not scandal enough?

What the movie does get right is the heartbreaking moment when Georgiana has to give up her child by Grey. For the one thing that Georgiana loved more than anything was her children. She was an unusual mother for the time because she insisted on breast-feeding all her children. She was such a remarkable mother, that one of her daughters writing her a letter when she was an adult and a mother herself, remarked on what an absolutely wonderful mother she was.

For audience members who know nothing of the real story, I'm sure this lackluster treatment will suffice. For those of us who have read Amanda Foreman's masterful biography, one longs for what might have been if the book had been given the same lavish treatment and care that John Adams and Queen Elizabeth I had been given in recent miniseries.

I can only give this film a C+

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Interview with Anna Godbersen, Author of The Luxe Series

Got It Goin On is pleased to welcome Anna Godbersen, author of the totally addictive series The Luxe from Harper Teen.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself, what is your background and how long have you been writing before you were published?

I was born in Berkeley, California and moved to New York to attend Barnard College, where I took some creative writing courses and wrote a story collection for my senior thesis. After college, I tried to write a “serious” novel, whatever that means, and worked as a bartender and in the literary department at Esquire. I also ghostwrote young adult novels, which was how I began thinking about The Luxe…

Q: Tell us about when you got “the call”?

I was in California, in Big Sur, staying at a place with very little cell phone reception. So I was at a payphone in the woods when I heard that my book had sold. As a writer, you probably obsessively imagine all kinds of scenarios for every hypothetical event that may occur in your life, so of course I’d contemplated getting the news that I was going to be a published author and how that would feel. But when it came it was still quite a surprise and very thrilling.

Q: Your first release The Luxe and the sequel Rumors from Harper Teen is set in late 19th Century New York. How did you come up with the idea? Is there a particular reason you chose the year 1899?

I was kicking around ideas for a YA series with the editor I’ d worked with as a ghostwriter, and the gilded age just seemed like such a glamorous setting. I picked 1899 in part because of the dramatic possibilities—close of a century! New Years! etc.—but also because it was the end of an era, and I wanted to be able to play up the clash of the newer, less-scandal averse members of society with the more old fashioned ones. I think it makes it so much richer that the strict rules my characters struggle with are—unbeknownst to them—soon to be things of the past.

Q. I am an unabashed history geek so I loved reading these books. Tell us about your research. Any behind the scenes stories that you’d like to share?

I started out reading general histories of the time, and then I began to look into their primary sources—the gossip magazines and etiquette books and memoirs that were available in places like the New-York Historical Society and the New York Public Library. I just followed stories and images that interested me and I used them to form this fictional world for my characters. There are plenty of scandals from that era, but most of them have been pretty well documented. I’m reading American Eve by Paula Uruburu right now, about the murder of a society architect by his former teenage lover’s new husband. It’s quite sad and fascinating.

Q. In what ways do you think life was different 100 years ago? In what ways do you think it is the same?

I was actually surprised, language and idea-wise how similar the culture was to now. There are tremendous differences obviously, but they were less pronounced then I expected, in part because I think we imagine the 19th Century as a monolith and forget how radically the country changed after the civil war, and especially in the decades leading up to the dawn of the twentieth century. I think that the greatest difference— at least for my characters, who are very privileged and not subject to the terrible life expectancy and other insecurities of the urban poor at that time—is the roll of young women. Elizabeth, for instance, is a perfectionist who would be playing field hockey, running her school paper, and volunteering for a literacy program if she lived today. In her own time, she is only able to be an overachiever in decorum and dress, so that is what she tries to do, with tragic results.

Q. What modern convenience unavailable in 1899 are you grateful to have today? Do you think you would have enjoyed living in 1899?
I am the happy beneficiary of a lot of modern dentistry, and I wouldn’t give that up for all the ball gowns in the world. I am curious about many past eras, especially from a fictional perspective—the assumptions and problems of characters a hundred years ago are so fascinatingly different from our own. But I don’t think I would have wanted to actually live then—I would not have fit very neatly into the Victorian idea of womanhood, and I like wearing pants and having a glass of wine in mixed company way too much.

Q. What do you think the differences are in the life of a teenager in 1899 compared to today?

This is really an interesting question to me, because there’s this notion that a teenage consciousness didn’t really exist before the 1950s. And in some ways, that’s true—the possibility of a leisurely lifestyle for people who may not emotionally be adults but who are physically pretty darn close, not to mention a whole consumer culture aimed at defining who they are, is definitely a more recent development. But it also goes against the logic of what it is to be human not to imagine that many of the themes of teenage life today would have been the same then: experiencing love and loss for the first time; discovering what it is to be an individual in the face of peer pressure; becoming one’s self outside of the family. And I think those underlying issues connect my experiences and my readers’ experiences to those of my characters.

Q: What are some of the challenges and rewards of writing for the YA market?

The rewards far outweigh the difficulties, namely that the readers are so great and so enthusiastic and invested in characters they care about. There is very little ironic distance there. And also, as I said above, I think the themes of teenage life are especially rich: rebellion and conformity, family and individuality, innocence and looming adulthood. I do sometimes find myself having to hold back because I want the pacing of these books to hold teen attention spans, or I struggle with what parents will think is appropriate versus what seems dramatically true, or I worry that soemthing might be over the heads of young readers. But challenges are always good for a writer, and having to think about how to achieve clarity and hold the interest of a particular audience can be really important.

Q: What do you think is the most effective way for a writer to promote his/her books?

There are probably as many ways as there are kinds of writers, although I’ve found for myself that being available through a Myspace page is really satisfying and immediate. It’s really lovely to hear from people, and exciting to know that someone out there is anticipating words I haven’t even written yet. Readers seem to really like having that kind of connection with a writer, too. I suppose it’s also really helpfully to get your publishing company to put a lot of money behind your book.

Q. What/Who do you like to read?

My favorite writer is Joan Didion—she is such a unique observer of the self, but is still is so courageous in using her writing to address the wide world. I also love the dry Brits—Evelyn Waugh and Kingsley Amis et al. And I am always interested in what a really great writer can do with the historical fiction genre, like Steven Millhauser’s brilliant Martin Dressler.

Q. What is your writing process? Do you plot extensively first or do you tend to “fly in the mist?” Has your process changed over time? Do you write multiple drafts or clean up as you go?

I do plot extensively first. In writing a scene, I sometimes find wonderful things come from figuring it out as I go along, but for the most part the books I’ve done have been on such a tight schedule that I can’t risk going down the wrong path for too long. I also find that having clear ideas about the emotional tone and associations I want in any given scene really help me to focus and have good ideas.

I do multiple drafts with my editor, though not for myself alone, mostly because of the time constraint. I do go back, though, after writing each chapter and clean up. I find that the my imagination is still more open to changes then—once any episode has been left for too long, it becomes almost like something somebody else wrote, and then it is more difficult to imagine how events might play out or dialogue might be said differently.

Q.) Both The Luxe and Rumors are written from multiple points of view. How hard is it for you to keep track of the different voices of each character?

I have been sitting with these characters for a while, so in my mind it’s always very clear now. I do think it took me some false starts to get there, when it was all a little fuzzier. But it is definitely a writing challenge, and I do worry on days when maybe my brain isn’t working to full capacity that the voices blur a little. But it’s also a really useful device for this kind of story, in which fa├žade and perception are so important but also so fickle, to be able to let your readers see from some disparate sets of eyes.

Q.) I was very struck by Lina, Elizabeth's former maid. Her love for Will leads her to betray Elizabeth, but yet at the same time you feel sympathy for her.

Oh thank you for saying so! I hear so often from readers that they hate Lina, and she is very dear to my heart. For me, she is the most relatable character—she is the girl who hasn’t yet grown into herself or her looks, who desperately wants her life to be beautiful but has no idea how to achieve that. She wasn’t born with much, but she is determined to take the rocky road to making it better. And really, there are more Linas out there then there are Elizabeths.

Q) In both books, people are not always what they seem, and friendships seem to shift and change.

Yes—I think this is both true to the period and to teenage life. The Gilded Age, with its obsession with outward displays of wealth and success, with its Victorian rules and elaborate codes of behavior, was necessarily a time of glittering surfaces and audacious hypocrites. And teenage life is like that, too. No one quite knows who they are, but they are trying on all these elaborate personas, all these rigid ways of being, and they can’t help but draw competitive comparisons and lie a bit in the process. The true self, in both scenarios, is elusive but persistent.

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?

Always be reading, and don’t be afraid to unpack even the most exalted novelist’s work. I learn all kinds of things by wondering about the choices and mechanics of writers who are far more talented than I am, and I find that thinking critically about pretty much any kind of literature makes me want to get back to my own computer and start forming the hazy observations in my mind into solid sentences.

Q. What are you planning to work on next?

Right now I’m finishing up the third Luxe book, and then it’s on to the fourth. After that I’d like to do another series for teens—it will be historical, but I’d otherwise like to shake up the formula I’ve been working with for nearly three years now. And I’d also like to try to write a stand-alone novel with a beginning, a middle, and an end that’s about grownups and for grownups. But we shall see!

Thanks Anna! You can purchase The Luxe series from Barnes and Noble Amazon or Powells. And stayed tuned for the third book in the series coming in 2009!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More Pix from the GAA Awards

Maria Ferrer, our membership chair, and Karen Cino, Vice President of RWA NYC

Jason Gaffney (Suzanne Brockmann's lovely son), me, and Lis Eng (partial view)

The lovely Dee Davis, our author of the year with her husband, and me

Chris Keeslar, Marianne Mancusi, Alyssa, Leanna Renee Heiber, and Ron Hogan from Media Bistro

Me doing my Evita impersonation

Karen Cino, Vice President of RWA NYC and Lisbeth Eng, Treasurer

Tuesday Real Estate Porn

As is my want, I was perusing the Sunday New York Times real estate section when I saw that a brownstone in my neighborhood is up for sale for $1.9M dollars. I'm always particularly interested in what brownstones go for in my nabe, since my grandmother owned one across the street from the house that was featured in The Royal Tennebaums. Seriously, if we had held on to that house, it would have been so sweet.

According to the Prudential Elliman web-site:

"MOTIVATED SELLER: Located in the gold coast of the landmark of Hamilton Heights' historic district, this thoroughly renovated 18.5'+/- wide, 4100+/- bldg sqft, legal 3 family brownstone boasts an Arts & Craft style three-bedroom / two-bath garden & parlor duplex, and two 2-bedroom floor-through units. Each apartment is equipped with a working gas fireplace(s), new stainless appliances, a granite counter top, and original refinished hardwood floors. Each is pre-wired for cable/DTV, and telephone; moreover, each is individually metered for gas & electric, as well as for heat & hot water. Large deck in the rear plus a garden. "

There is an open house on Sunday and I might just have to mosy on down to see it. According to the listing, the house could be turned into coops which means that the owner could sell the two other units and just keep the duplex (which would be what I would do). Seriously, you sell the two bedrooms for like $450,000 each and that's like half of what you would pay for the house.
Of course, I have no idea how this co-op thing actually works in terms of brownstones.

Question: Why am I talking like I can actually afford to buy this house?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Liz Maverick!

Today is the official birthday for the effervescent Liz Maverick but on Saturday, Marianne Mancusi threw her a fabulous bash at Shalel, a tiny Moroccan restaurant that I didn't even know existed until Saturday night. You can find pictures of the revelry here.

But I found a groovy horoscope at Cafe Astrology for La Liz's birthday:

The year ahead is bound to be productive and busy. Your creative and love urges are powerful indeed. New friendships, or new spins on established connections, are in your forecast. New ideas and projects abound! Focusing will be the key to success. You are taking on new responsibilities, but generally enjoying the challenges. Your biggest enemy this year could be a tendency to make emotionally-driven decisions, which is best avoided.

Ooh, sounds awesome! And it has already started with the fabulous review she got recently for Irreversible from RT Book Club.

Pix from the Golden Apple Awards

Every year, my local chapter, RWA NYC, where I have served as President for the past four years, holds our Golden Apple Awards. This year we held it at the Havana Room on the Upper East Side. You can also read about it here in the Galley Cat column on Media Bistro.

Here is Chris Keeslar from Dorchester Publishing, accepting his Editor of the Year award.

Jason Gaffney (Suzanne Brockmann's son) accepting her award for Lifetime Achievement. Everyone at the recepition absolutely adored him!

Pamela Harty from The Knight Agency, accepting the award for agent of the year from me for Deidre Knight (Lis Eng, our treasurer is in the foreground with the Awards)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Free Katie Holmes

So last night Katie Holmes had her first performance of All My Sons on Broadway, attended by her ever supportive husband Tom Cruise. Outside the theater, picketers from one of the anti-Scientology groups were holding up signs declaring "Free Katie Holmes" and chanting that Scientology Kills. One protester told The New York Daily News: 'We aren't protesting Katie. But Scientology is a cult and once you become a member you can't leave, and we've heard that Katie isn't able to leave because of Tom Cruise.' A member of the 30 strong group shouted: 'It is evil. Scientology kills people. It follows you home at night. It is perverted.'

Now, anyone who reads this blog, knows that I believe that Scientology is a brain-washing cult, but I have to say that I thought it was inappropriate to potentially ruin her first performance of her very first play on Broadway, protesting, no matter how good their intentions. And I have to question, how much of it was just a publicity stunt to get attention for their cause, and how much was genuine concern for Katie Holmes?

I would suggest that they focus more of their concern on Mr. Cruise, who is an actual, active member of the church, rather than on poor Katie, at this point. I have a feeling that she probably doesn't need their help. When the bloom goes off the rose, and she starts to question what she's learning, she'll shake off the mantel of Scientology on her own. At the moment, she's just dabbling and learning what it is.
So give the girl a break, and focus your attention on hubby.

Thieves in the Daylight

So yesterday I was feeling a little emotionally fragile after I had my delusions/ilusions cruelly shattered at the book party at the Museum of Sex for Francis Levy's book Erotomania: A Romance (a great party by the way. The Museum of Sex was the perfect venue although I now know more than I ever wanted to know about the sex life of animals!). Media Bistro called it the "Sexiest Book Party Ever!

We had lunch catered because of all the banking disasters the past few days, so I went in search of comfort food. I loaded up a dessert plate with two little brownies which I had planned on enjoying as sort of afternoon snack (I like to savor my food instead of scarfing it down). Well guess what? After I returned to my desk from the ladies room, I discovered some motherchucker had violated the sanctity of my desk and stolen my effing brownie!

Seriously! That's like stealing food from an injured animal. You just don't do that.

The alleged culprit, who sits behind me, actually had the nerve to tell me that what did I expect leaving a brownie on my desk?

Hello! It's MY desk!

Never take food away from an emotionally fragile woman or there will be hell to pay!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Things I Have Learned in the Past Few Days

1. If you go to enough Tasty Delite stores and get free samples, it's almost like having a whole dessert for free!

2. Check the address for the store you are looking for before wandering around Union Square in the heat for an hour.

3. Hey, Joey McIntyre, if you are doing a video where you are playing a guy on the make in a club, you might not want to flash that wedding ring around (but you are still cute).

4. So Dylan is the father of Kelly's baby on 90210. Didn't see that one coming (Not!). This is why I'm boycotting this new version of the show. It's lame.

5. And when faced with an impossible situation, it is better to walk away rather than throwing a glass of wine in the beyotch's face, no matter how satisfying it might seem.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Palin Paradox

I was just reading over at Newsweek online, how so many women are flocking to Sarah Palin despite the fact that her views differ from theirs.

WTF? Are people really buying her whole "I'm just a hockey-mom" shtick? So much that they are willing to elect McCain aka McSame over Barack Obama? When Samantha Bee on The Daily Show that she was a 'loyal Vagina American' it was funny, but I'm disturbed by the fact there are actually women are plan on voting for Palin soley because she's a woman. Totally dismissing her lack of substance and experience. What happens if McCain has a stroke, and she actually has to lead? A woman who a month ago didn't know what the VP did, but who now says that she didn't blink when McCain asked her to run?

On November 4, vote responsibly and not just because the VP is the same gender as you.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Manifesto

I mentioned on Saturday that I was attending at lecture at The Philoctetes Center called Mating in Captivity: Sexuality and Monogamy. Among the speakers were Michael Kimmel, a socialogist and author of Guyland, Pamela Paul, famous for writing the book about starter marriages, and Esther Perel whose new book Mating in Captivity inspired the lecture in a way. The actual title Mating in Captivity actually comes from a DH Lawrence poem where he asserts that domesticity is a cage. Questions were thrown out by the moderator, why does great sex fade? Why does intimacy not always lead to great sex?

One of the first comments by Pamela Paul was the fact that people today live longer, into their eighties and nineties. Whereas in previous centuries, women died off in childbirth, which meant that men could have two or three marriages, and women whose husbands died, married again for financial security, if the previous husband had no money. Since people are living longer, they are facing being in a marriage or relationship with someone for fifty or sixty years. Look at the Queen and Prince Philip, last year they celebrated sixty years of marriage, while three of their children have been married and divorced, and remarried. I'm sure Prince Philip never imagined that for sixty years, he was going to have to walk 3 paces behind his wife!

The panel discussed the fact that people marry for more than just great sex (or they should), that marriages change over time, and that people in happy marriages accept and expect that the relationship will change and grow, that there is an ebb and flow of desire and intimacy. Esther brought up the fact that for the first time in history, people expect their partner to be not just a provider, but a lover, and a best friend as well. Up until the 19th and 20th century, love was really at the bottom of the list in terms of attributes for a husband/wife. The more important questions were: was he a good provider, and was she going to be a good breeder?

Michael Kimmel mentioned that if there is equality in a relationship or some kind of equilibrium, the relationship is happier. Meaning that if men pull their weight, by helping out with parenting etc. there is less resentment from their partner, and more sex. Both Pamela Paul and Esther Perel brought up that you lose sight of your partner as an individual, seperate from the relationship, that is where the problems can come.

There was much discussion about the role of fantasy in relationships, and how some people are threatened by the idea. And how many people are afraid to admit their deepest desires to their partner, for fear that there partner might reject them, if for instance they want to indulge in a little bondage, or role-playing. Remember the episodes of Desperate Housewives, when Bree discovered that her husband was going to the neighborhood dominatrix?

Francis Levy brought up the idea of romance novels. At first I wasn't sure where he was going with the idea, particularly when he brought up the idea of being ravished, which is so 1980's bodice rippers, but then he mentioned a man wanting to be ravished and having his partner in control and I remembered the scene in Hope Tarr's new Blaze release Bound to Please, where the heroine has her way with the hero. I'm just glad that no one brought up that old chestnut about romance novels giving women unreal expectations of relationships and marriage, because I would have had to go all Wendy Williams on them and it would not have been pretty.

In the end there was no consensus about what the right answer was in terms of preserving a monogamous relationship. Esther Perel mentioned that one can never really know one's partner. That your partner was sort of on loan to you with an option to renew.

I didn't get to ask my question which was: Why is it that it is still the responsibility of the woman to do all the work in a relationship? Every month in women's magazines, there is a constant stream of articles of how to make a relationship thrive, and top 10 tips to wow a man in bed. You never see articles like that in men's magazines. It's either cars, money, with pictures of hot women thrown in the mix. No articles on how to find her G-spot, or how to deal with your wife who has post-partum depression. Even most self-help books about relationships are geared towards women. Everything from The Rules to advice books written by gay men.

But the saddest question was from a 70 year old physician who was wondering what to do, since there is a limited supply of older men given that they still die off sooner than we do? She wasn't interested in dating younger men, because of insecurity about her 70 year old body vs. his younger one. Than another woman got up and suggested that an alternative was having a relationship with another woman.

Seriously? These are our options? Giving up on men altogether and becoming a lesbian? Or just resigning yourself to being alone?

You know what I think of that?

No offense to anyone who opts for either of those choices, but I'm not ready to give up on the penis just yet!

I refuse to believe that there isn't man out there who can see just how fabulous I am. Someone who see me for exactly who I am and can still say, "Look at her, isn't she just amazing? And sure she can't clean for sh#%t, she sometimes takes things too personally, and she's a sarcastic bitch 80% of the time, but she can make an amazing spinach lasagna, give a kick ass back rub, she'd give the shirt off her back to a friend, and did I mention she's smoking hot?"

Can I get a hell yeah?


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Awards and other stuff

I just found out that my other blog Scandalous Women not only listed as one of the 100 Most Awesome Blogs for History Junkies, but also won the Blog of the Day Award!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Let's Talk About Sex Baby!

Today I'm going to the first in a series of roundtables on sexuality at The Philoctetes Center. This one is called 'Mating in Captivity: Sexuality and Monogamy.' I'm not quite sure how I feel about that title, it makes it sound like two Giant Pandas trying to get it on in a zoo to have babies.

The description on the web-site says that 'This roundtable will address the ways in which monogamous partnerships affect sexual desire, sexual function, and sexual need.'

Sounds interesting n'est pas? Normally when I go to the roundtables, I get intimidated by the talking heads and question whether or not I'm smart enough to be even in the room. But sex and sexuality I think I know something about. After all I have had sex (is that TMI?) on occasion, and all my relationships have been monogamous.

Plus I took Sol Gordon's Human Sexuality class in college, one of the most popular courses at Syracuse. Not to mention that I both read and write romances. We've often heard how women who read romances have better sex lives (I'm pretty sure this is true). And the point of the romance is the relationship between the man and the woman. Entering into a long term committed relationship leading to marriage (hopefully).

I might even manage to ask a question, something I normally don't do because of the intimidation factor.

I'll let you all know how it goes and whether or not I learn anything knew!

Friday, September 12, 2008

From the "What Are They Thinking?" File

This was from People.com yesterday:

"She's already a reality star and a fashion designer, but Lauren Conrad is adding another title to her crowded resume: Author. Conrad, 22, has signed on to write a three-book series of young adult fiction for HarperCollins, the publisher tells PEOPLE. The books – the first of which is scheduled to hit shelves in the summer of 2009 – will be loosely inspired by Conrad's own experience going from an ordinary teen to a reality TV star. "It's definitely influenced by my own life," Conrad tells PEOPLE.

"The books are about a girl who moves to L.A. and stars in a reality show, so obviously there are some similarities." So will Hills costars like Heidi Montag, Spencer Pratt or Brody Jenner wind up as in Conrad's series? Not exactly. "I'm not trying to do a fictional story based on all my friends in my real life because their stories aren't really mine to tell," says Conrad, who has gone through many dramas on her MTV show. "Some of the characters may symbolize people in my life, but it is in no way calling anyone out."

Conrad's best gal pal and The Hills costar Lauren Bosworth has already been offering advice. "I run ideas by Lo and I'll ask for her opinion because I value my friends' opinions," says the budding author, who has completed the outline for the first book. But not everyone in Conrad's life has been clued in to her plans to pen a series. "Honestly I haven't told everyone," she admits. "I've told my best friends and they have all been really supportive. Nobody was worried."

Great, just what we need, Lauren Conrad writing books. Aren't her 15 minutes of fame over yet? It's not that I dislike LC, I think out of the lot of them on The Hills, she's actually the most normal but still. Two reality TV shows, and she not only has a her own fashion line, a deal with Mark Cosmetics, but now a publishing deal?

Remember when people actually had to go to college and struggled before they had success?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In Memoriam - 9/11

It's hard to believe that it has been seven years since 9/11. A moment of silence for all the people who lost their lives and for those who lost loved ones that day.

Art & Design

The lovely Leanna ReneeHieber and I returned to the Metropolitan Museum of Art this past Sunday to finish seeing the rest of the J.M.W. Turner exihibit and to continue our plans for world domination. This took place on the rooftop of the Met while sipping fruity cocktails, where artist Jeff Koons has an interesting installation. This balloon dog is actually from a similar installation at Versailles this summer. The one at the Met is gold but I kind of like the fuschia dog better.

You can see the rest of the installation here. Apparently the French don't know what to make of Koons invading the splendor that is Versailles with his balloon dogs and naked breasts. Personally I think that Marie Antoinette would have loved it!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Historicals, Should Be You Know, Historical

Every month the Donald Maass Literary Agency posts sort of a wish list of what the agency is looking for or might like to see in fiction, and I'm always interested in what they come up with. For September and October the focus is on historical fiction centered around a particular historical event:

"Historical novels are evolving. Once, they were sweeping epics. Today, historical novels often revolve around a single historical event.

For example…
E.L. Doctorow’s The March follows five characters over the course of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's devastating 1864 march through Georgia and the Carolinas.

The following are some suggestions of historical events and stories that could be built around them. As usual, this is not all we're looking for. Our intention is not to suggest paint-by-numbers plotting or to limit authors' scope. We do hope to promote discussion of what would be fresh and exciting.

What really happened as Neal Armstrong landed on the Moon (1969)? (I'm guessing that this would be science fiction or fantasy, not exactly my interest or strong suit. Conspiracy theorists could go nuts with this since there are some people who think the moon landing was faked)

A female centered retelling of the Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid, or Epic of Gilgamesh, a la Anita Diamante's THE RED TENT. (Could be interesting but I think that Margaret George and Amanda Elyot took care of this with their Helen of Troy novels, although it might be interesting to see what went on back in Greece from Penelope's POV during the 20 years Odysseus was gone, or even Noah's wife having to deal with all those animals on the ark)

First Tour de France (1903) from the point of view of one of the cyclists. (Seriously? Why not the great automobile race? Now that would be interesting. They made a movie out of it with Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Natalie Wood but the real story is even more interesting)

A thriller set during the fire of Moscow (1812) (Wasn't this already done and called War and Peace?).

The explosion of the Hindenberg (1937): What secrets were riding across the Atlantic on the zeppelin and what may have been the real cause of the disaster? (Now this would be interesting and I'm surprised that Max Allen Collins hasn't already done this)

The Cuban Missile Crisis (1962): romance and betrayal in Cuba during the standoff between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. (This wouldn't interest me either in terms of writing or even reading it. )

New Orleans (2005): Can a New Orleans homicide detective solve a murder in the 24 hours before Hurricane Katrina hits? (Interesting idea, having to solve a murder just before evacuation. Very Dan Brown in that the whole thing would take place in 24 hours or very 24! Perhaps Keifer and Company could take this on. Might make a better movie script than a book. I'm seeing Ed Harris or Dennis Quaid from The Big Easy trying to solve this. Isn't there a detective series set in New Orleans by James Lee Burke?)

Royalty, romance, diamonds, yachts and intrigue in Monaco in the year (1955) that Grace Kelly became engaged to Prince Rainier. (Wasn't this kind of done in To Catch A Thief?)

During the liberation of Paris (1944) there was one Nazi who stayed behind… (Hmm, not sure about this would have to look this up. What Nazi?)

I would be curious to know if any writer has looked at this monthly list and had their creativity sparked by it and started a novel based on their suggestions.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Homogenization of Gossip Girl

I was watching Gossip Girl last night and trying to figure out why, even though I like the TV version, it bothered me. It's not the glitzy lifestyle, and the constant references to clothes or the teenage sex. No, what bothered me and what I liked about the series was the variety in the characters, which has sadly been homogenized into pretty people doing bad things.

In the Gossip Girl book series the Humphrey's lived on the Upper West Side on West End Avenue in a rambling rent controlled apartment that had seen better days. Dad was a middle-aged hippie with a graying ponytail. Dan was intense and high strung, and Jenny was a short, busty curly haired brunette who didn't fit in no matter how hard she tried.

In the TV series, the Humphrey family aren't that different from the other families on this show. The dad Rufus, is much younger and hotter than in the books, a former rock star who once had a thing with Serena's mother. Jenny is a pretty blonde who wants to be a Blair clone and a fashion designer, and Dan is only slighly intense and high strung. They also live in a really cool loft in Brooklyn and Dad owns an art gallery.

Also in the books, Vanessa was practically bald, wore combat boots and was a budding film-maker who pretty much lived by herself in Greenpoint while her sister was off with her rock band (imagine Sinead O'Connor in high school). She and Dan have an intense relationship which he keeps screwing up by going off with other women. The Vanessa in the series is a pretty brunette who works for Rufus and who spent the entire summer putting in a coffee bar in his art gallery.

There's no real sense of the class distinctions between the characters anymore, that Vanessa, Dan and Jenny were really different from Blair, Chuck, Serena and Nate. Now everyone seems pretty much the same. Pretty people with problems. In the series Serena and Chuck are now step-brother and sister, whereas in the book Blair's mother is the one who remarries and her husband's son is a crunchy granola guy Aaron who was a vegan and was the total opposite of Blair.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the series, I think it's fun and light and fluffy but I miss the complexity of the books. But hey the books still live on the shelves and will probably continue to do so as the TV show goes on, so I can always dip back in when I feel the urge.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Overheard Over The Weekend

"You kind of sexy for an older chick."

said by a teenage boy as I walked up 34th Street after my international cha-cha class at Dancesport Friday night.

Awww! Thanks underage youth!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Too Plump for Primetime

I love the show Mad Men, it's one of my favorites but I was a little disturbed when I saw this article:
Not so much because of what the writer had to say but because it's a shame that in 2008 we still have to talk about this. But every year we do, particularly when America's Next Top Model includes a plus-size contestant.
As for Rachel Zoe, what was the point I wonder of featuring her in article where they photoshop her into a size 8? To show her what normal people look like? Ones who don't look like they need intravenous feeding?
This is one of the reasons that I focused on theater when I was acting. When I was normal size, I wasn't getting calls to audition for movies or films, but once I dropped down to a size 0, that's when I got calls to audition for commercials, starting gets lots of extra work on soaps etc.
Thank god, I'm a writer where I'm judged on my words and not on what I look like!

Friday, September 05, 2008

A Change is A Comin!

but from whom?

You have to hand it to the Republicans, they'll just steal anything. First they steal the Democrat's message of change, despite the fact that the fact that it is their own party that is in power. God to love Jon Stewart (ubermensch extraordinaire) for pointing out to Mike Huckabee last night on The Daily Show, that the Democrats have only been in charge of the House and Senate for two years.

But they also now apparently have no qualms about stealing music. When Sarah Palin gave her speech on Wednesday, they played Heart's 1970's classic "Barracuda," which ironically is how the music industry sucks, without asking for permission from the artists. Well, Nancy Wilson of Heart asked the GOP not to use that song anymore. Guess what they played last night after McCain accepted the nomination? Yup, Heart's "Barracuda." Today Nancy Wilson issued a statement saying in essence that Heart does not support the McCain/Palin campaign and she found it inappropriate and wrong for them to use the music without permission which would not have been given. And the song is about how the music industry treats the artists particularly women. Playing the song while Sarah Palin entered, implying that she is a barracuda, is not what the song is about.

I was reading the comments on the EW thread about her statement, and I couldn't believe the number of people who a) said that Heart should have been happy that anyone was playing their music and b) insisted that they would now no longer listen to their music because Nancy Wilson was pissed that the GOP used their music without permission. As if she had no right to be pissed off that they basically stole the music since they weren't paying Heart for it. This isn't the first time the GOP and McCain have done this. John Mellencamp asked McCain to stop using his music without his permission back in February. Seriously, is there no one in the GOP who has heard of such a thing as copyright, royalties etc.?

But the bigger message from the GOP is that they are still slinging the same old mud that they've been slinging for years. Mitt Romney brough up the 'liberal media.' Seriously, with so many right-wing pundits on the air and on radio, they need give it a rest. And from Mitt Romney who was the Governor of Massachussetts no less. And then there's Guiliani, still bringing up 9/11, and chastizing Obama for not bringing it up, forgetting that without 9/11, Guiliani would probably go down as one of the most hated mayors of New York. 9/11 made Guiliani. Bringing up 9/11 is like constantly bringing up McCain's POW experience. Not that it isn't revelant, but is that all you've got?

I went to see Joan Baez in conversation last night. For anyone who doesn't know her, Joan Baez is a beautiful, talented singer and human rights activist, who was once involved with Bob Dylan, until he probably dumped her for someone stupid (no I'm not bitter or anything). This was a woman who was at the forefront of not only the Civil Rights movement, but also the peace movement in the 1960's. And last night she talked about why she was endorsing Obama, which is something she's never done in a 50 year career (she became well-known as she likes to refer to herself at the age of 19). She believes that he is not just a politician but a statesman, and also someone not likely to embarass the nation! Which is not something you can say about either McCain or Sarah Palin!

One of the most interesting things though was a young woman who stood up and talked about how she wrote to Baez in 4th grade as part of a class project and the two people who wrote back to the students in her class were Baez and Helen Keller. Yes, a BLIND and DEAF woman managed to write back to an 9 year old. So to all those famous or well known people out there, if a BLIND and DEAF woman could take the time to write to a small child, so can you. And that goes double for those people out there who forget to reply to emails or return phone calls. If a BLIND and DEAF woman could write back, so can you!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Why Dating Sucks

Even though I don't have a significant other at the moment, I'm always on the look-out for attractive single men or women for my single friends. I figure it can only generate good karma no?

Well, the other day I mentioned to a guy that I know that I had a really attractive friend, accomplished, a writer, funny, adventurous and she has an advanced degree. I even showed him a picture of her from her web-site.

Do you know what he said?

"She's too smart."

Who knew that in 2008, men actually still thought like this. And this guy has a good job, making six figures, it's not like he's dumb. But apparently he wants to date someone who is. I mean if I had a friend with an IQ of less than 100 with big boobs and hair, he'd have been all over that. Unfortunately for him, I don't have bimbo friends. I only have fabulous, smart, friends who are articulate and beautiful. And yes, we are all single but not for lack of trying.

It reminds me of the Toby Young book, "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People," where he spent his entire time in New York trying to date women out of his league (models, fashionistas) instead of normal women who might actually have gone out with him and had a good time. Why do all men think that Eva Mendes or Jessica Alba would go out with them, if they had the chance? I already know that George Clooney wouldn't give me a second look if he met me, and I would probably faint if he did.

Seriously, do all men suck or just the ones in New York? Do I need to move to another city? And please don't say, someplace like Des Moines or Cincinnati.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Nouveau 90210

So last night I watched the premiere of the Beverly Hills 90210 2.0 on the CW and I have to say maybe my expectations were too high, because for the post part, it pretty much blew. The great thing about the original version is that the Walshes were a middle class family who lived in an ordinary house, sort of the slums of Beverly Hills. In this version, the family moves into the humongous mansion of the grandmother who was some B-Movie starlet played by Jessica Walter who is a hoot and the only reason really to watch this particular version.

I am somewhat intrigued by Kelly Taylor (played by Jennie Garth) and the relationship with her half-sister, little Erin who was born during the original series, which ended 8 years ago. When the series ended it looked like Kelly and Dylan were going to end up together, but now it is 8 years later and no Dylan, but Kelly has a child. Frankly I would much rather the series revolved around these two characters than the new family who instead of Minnesota like the Walshes, is from Kansas.

Annie and Dixon are the two kids in this version, Annie is more like Donna from the original series, and Dixon is the kid they adopted who is African-American. So far, we know that Dixon was 8 when he was adopted and he plays Lacrosse because his adopted father, Harry does. I will admit the idea that Harry is the new prinicipal at West Beverly High is different, and they've added the cliche of an old flame who is the mother of the school bitch. The big revelation last night is that Harry and the old flame have a kid who was given up for adoption, which Harry didn't know.

The other big revelation was that Erin or Silver as everyone calls her, who has a blog called The Vicious Circle (shades of Gossip Girl although everyone knows that it is her blog unlike the anonymous blogger of Gossip Girl), is mad at Naomi, the school bitch because Naomi blabbed about Erin's father cheating on her mother which led to divorce and her mother falling off the wagon. Oh and that girls in Beverly Hills apparently get tattoos in 8th Grade (lots of 8's in this show).

The Peach Pit is now the Pit, a night club after hours (didn't they do that in the original series too?) and one of the kids has a father who is a huge porn producer which led to the second best line of the night when he explained that his father had two rules: he couldn't watch porn until he was 21 and they had to have dinner every night as a family!

As for the big Kelly/Brenda reunion, it was kind of boring and lame and full of platitudes. I'm not sure about the English teacher/Lacrosse coach who has a thing for Kelly. He seems too much of a beta male for her.

Here's hoping that the show gets better as the weeks go by, otherwise, I'll have a free hour of reading or writing time on Tuesday nights.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Winding Down from the Weekend

What is it about a holiday weekend? You have 3 days instead of two and you still do nothing! Well, that's not exactly true. I took in a little culture, sang along to ABBA, and got caught up with Gossip Girl. But tonight is the big night because, nope, not Sarah Palin but Beverly Hills 90210 Version 2.0 is premiering tonight on the CW.

The weekend started off with John McCain picking Sarah Palin to be his running mate which was a shrewd move on the one hand, because you could tell that part of the reason she was picked was because she's a woman, no matter what the McCain camp may say. You just know that McCain was hoping to pick up some disaffected Hillary supporters. The problem is, Palin a conservative Christian woman, which weren't exactly Hillary Clinton's supporters. And just because she's a woman doesn't mean that women will automatically vote for her whether Republican or Democrat. Some of us are actually concerned with the issues.

She's being positioned as a maverick, who won her election as Governor of Alaska promising to clear out all corruption in the government, which apparently she's done a pretty good job of, so good, that she's now the subject of an investigation herself for possibly firing someone without cause. However, she's in favor of drilling in protected forests and anti-abortion, which might make the more liberal wing of the Republican's (if such a thing exists) wince. Plus her 17 year old daughter is 5 months pregnant which must make the Christian Coalition wince. I guess they didn't teach absitinence in the Paulin house. I applaud Obama for taking the media to task for turning it into such a circus.

If I hadn't already been an Obama supporter, this would totally throw me into his camp. The idea of two pro-life candidates possibly getting four more years to influence the Supreme Court frightens me. Also that she is adamantly anti-gay marriage, that she is a lifetime member of the NRA, that she has no foreign policy experience and supports the teaching of creationism alongside evolution in schools. I'm amazed though at how quickly he rushed into his decision. According to the NYTimes, he was really learning towards Lieberman, but Lieberman is pro-choice and the Christian Coalition squawked. Apparently he offered the spot on the ticket after one brief interview after only a week of thinking about it and doing background checks. Meanwhile the other top candidates went through a two month process.

Now off the subject of politics, I indulged in a little culture this weekend by ending over to the Guggenheim museum, which I like to refer to the cupcake museum, to see the Louise Bourgeois exhibit. I've written about Louise before but you can read about her here. It was a really interesting exhibit and I loved two things about it, the fact that I got in for free (thanks to my company) and I had a free audio tour, which was really helpful. I liked some of her work, and some of it confused me, but it was lovely to see an exhibit devoted to a woman artist.

Then on Monday, I went to see Mamma Mia, which I'm not ashamed to admit I adored. I had seen the show in London and loved but I'm a closet ABBA fan (well not anymore). Although most of the critics seemed to think that Meryl Streep was over-acting, but I thought she was just having a good time singing and dancing. She had come so close to playing Eva Peron in Evita, and that role ended up eventually going to Madonna, so this was her chance to do a musical on screen. And the whole movie was adorable. I know what you are thinking, what about Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth, can they sing?

Who cares?

Seriously, if I watch the movie again on DVD, I'll just push the mute button so I don't have to listen to either of them, and I can just watch them be beautiful.

So that was my weekend, no writing, and I still haven't decided on whether to buy a Crackberry or an Apple iPhone.