Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: Red Sonja

My review of the too-silly-to-be-dramatic, too-dull-to-be-campy sword-and-sorcery movie Red Sonja is up at

Monday, February 21, 2011

Awesome movie review site

One of my favorite movie review sites, Cinema de Merde, just got a dandy new look. (I confess I did like the old green-on-black look, but I still say "groovy" so I'm not the most with-it of people.)

Go check it out, and read some of the fine, fun reviews while you're at it.

For your convenience: Inception "THWOOOOMM" sound on command

One of the biggest problems in life is the lack of awesome musical cues to punctuate life's more dramatic moments.

Well, here to make life easier is the "THWOOOOMM" sound from Inception (really do need to get around to seeing that) right here for your convenience. Click the link, press the button and presto! I mean, THWOOOOMM.

Monday, February 14, 2011

One down...

Just finished Chapter One of the new book, tentatively titled Sideshow. I'm behind schedule thanks mostly to circumstances beyond my control (i.e., broken elbow) but there's always a nice buzz that accompanies the first chapter milestone.

Bookstore Watch: It's looking grim for Borders

I used to love, love, love Borders (books and music and movies! together! like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup!). But the chain's been in decline for some time now, and according to a story at Shelf Awareness, it looks like Chapter 11 is imminent.

I hate to say this but I'm not surprised. I started noticing a decline in the store's selection a few years back. Then the local one jettisoned its music section. When I can go into a store with $50 in mad money and have trouble finding novels to buy, there are serious problems afoot (after all, I'm not that hard to please - always been more of a "sure, I'll read that!" gal).

I recall when I realized just how badly the selection had been pared back. Seeing more and more books with covers facing out. The "sideways neck bend" one uses when perusing bookstore shelves isn't getting more comfortable as I get older, but it's one of the prices you pay for the pleasure of finding books to buy. That's when I noticed the shelves were full of Hot New Releases and Tried-and-True Classics - with very little in between.

There's always Barnes and Noble (the one near my workplace isn't big but I can nearly always find something there, even if it's another Discworld or Travis McGee). But I want to try and put my dollars towards the indies. Check out those links on the right for "Indie Bookstores I Like". They're all fine places. Support them if you're nearby, and support your local stores if you have them. These places respect readers.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

"Just because I don't CARE, doesn't mean I don't UNDERSTAND."

The above quote, from a Mr. Homer Simpson, more or less explains the reason why I end up bailing on some of the books I read. It's not that I don't get the stories or see what the writer is doing, but I simply don't care about the characters or what happened to them.

This is not to say these are bad books. Characters are like real-life people, and the people (real or imaginary) I want to hang around with may well be people another person cannot stand. And that's fine.

But when I'm reading, I want to care about what happens to the characters. I can forgive a lot of flaws -- clunky writing, melodramatics -- if I care about the characters. Just glancing over the fiction shelves here at Rancho del Cozy, as I look at the book titles I remember the characters. I remember hoping things would work out for them and being happy for them when things went well (and saddened when things didn't go well). The most memorable books are ones when I either want to break the fourth wall and go in and save characters who didn't make it, or ones that after I had closed the book cover and moved on, I would think, "Gee, I wonder what ever happened to so-and-so?"

This is not to say that the characters always have to be likable. You don't have to want a good outcome to care about the characters -- in a way, thinking to yourself, "Ye gods, I hope character X gets what's coming to him" is caring about him.

If I don't care about characters in a book I'm reading, I at least have to be interested in them. The one disappointment I had when reading Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian was that I didn't care about the characters, though I was deeply interested in and fascinated by Judge Holden. But The Kid didn't move me or interest me much. However, McCarthy did give me characters I cared about in The Road, which makes it one of the few books I've read that's brought me to tears.

Your milage may vary, of course, but here are some of the books I've read that featured characters I cared about.

Cavedweller - Dorothy Allison
The Road - Cormac McCarthy
The Robber Bride - Margaret Atwood
The Clan of the Cave Bear - Jean M. Auel
L.A. Confidential - James Ellroy
The Crimson Petal and the White - Michel Faber
Boys and Girls Together - William Goldman
A Song of Ice and Fire series - George R. R. Martin
Lonesome Dove - Larry McMurtry
Harry Potter series - J. K. Rowling
Blonde - Joyce Carol Oates
The Terror - Dan Simmons
The Kitchen God's Wife - Amy Tan
The Shipping News - Annie Proulx
The Stand - Stephen King
The Shining - Stephen King
The Painted Veil - Somerset Maugham
The Hotel New Hampshire - John Irving
Watership Down - Richard Adams
The Accidental Tourist - Anne Tyler

And now I'm at work on a new book, and it's time to not only get to know a new set of characters (or "imaginary friends" as I think of them) but to make sure that the readers care about them as much as I do.

Review: Tales From the Crypt

Not the TV show or its movie spinoffs with the annoying puppet, but a British adaptation of five E. C. comics tales. Tales From the Crypt should be retitled Schadenfreude: The Movie.