Monday, January 31, 2011

A Trap or a Headache?

So here I am, it's 2011. I wrote a book and self-published. That was 2009, two years ago come April/May. I suppose it should feel like more of an accomplishment, but the truth is, it really wasn't.

I know, I know. I have a book out there available for purchase. Yay for me, believe me, I love that. But here's the thing: if I didn't have a day job, I could whore myself out and whore my book out a lot. But could I really?

I'm 31 years old and I still feel as insecure as I did when I was 15. Actually, at 15 I was a little MORE confident, as I was a stubborn ass teenager hell-bent on doing whatever the hell I wanted. I hate that I feel this way. I've been in management for, what... holy hell, ten years come August. In that time, I've had to put up with a LOT of crap from people: customers, employees, bosses, all the world. When I was young and stubborn, I had a better backbone--which is really ironic, considering I had no backbone in regards to my abusive ex-boyfriend.

Here's my issue: I love that I have a book out. It's an accomplishment. But the fact that it takes SO much effort to try and get it out there... No. It's not even the effort. It's the MONEY it takes, because of the route I took. I have to purchase copies of my own book to try to take around and convince people to buy. Now, for all my book signings last year, it's true that Borders ordered them all. The company I deal with, while they have effectively given me a break and put me there, it's still all me. And ONLY ME.

As they are so kind to remind me, unless you start selling more copies of the book, they will basically drop the book. Hmm. Incentive, or threat?

Well, and here's another dirty little secret: apparently I had to request my royalties, as I haven't seen a dime. Now, I know they are there, as I have used them to purchase copies of my book. And that's the only way I've been able to do it, to buy my own freaking book.

I am rambling and disorganized, and it's frustrating. I can't help thinking that book-writing is becoming a novelty game. Not for me. But I swear, every time I turn around now, I hear that such-and-such is writing a book. Some are doing it because they are finally going to do it. Some are bored and decided to have a go.

So why do I write? And what am I supposed to be doing, anyway? If I focused all my energy on promoting "What Might Have Been" then I wager I could get more out there. My main goal is to get a real agent this year and hopefully, hopefully get a real publishing contract. You know what I mean: the kind where you don't have to shell out your own money to make your dreams come true.

Maybe I'm just feeling bitter and cynical right now. Duh.

And because of that, I have to take a moment to say thank you: thank you to all of you who have bought my book, read my book, and had such lovely things to say about it. I can't tell you how much it means to me.

I suppose the basis for my rambling is because I want to NOT be working a day job because if I don't then we starve to death. I want to work a day job as a supplement to writing. But I can't accomplish that until I finish the next fucking book.


Okay. I've got that mostly out of my system. Now, I need to get a grip, buckle down, and sort out my priorities and make some deadlines. So even though I feel like this:

I need to focus so I can be more like this:

And then the world will be good.

I have vented. I am good now. :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Diving Into the New


It's always a risk to jump into something new, whether it's a new job, new town, or even something as simple as a new genre of fiction or movies. You just never quite know where you'll end up, if you'll like it or not. I am, however, a firm believer in giving things a chance.

For instance, today I tried beef tongue. I have always recoiled in horror at the idea of "out of the ordinary" items, and beef tongue always seemed hideously disgusting to me. However, due to watching such shows as "Bizarre Foods" and "Man vs. Food", I subsequently decided to go wild. Today at Chompie's, which is a local New York deli restaurant, I tried a beef tongue sandwich. And you know what? It was freaking delicious! The most awkward moment came when I picked up a stray piece of fallen meat--and it looked exactly like a tongue. For obvious reasons. It was nearly enough to make me go back and throw it down, but the taste was so delicious I kept eating anyway!

A couple of weeks ago, we were at another local favorite, Cajun Seafood Corner. I ordered my husband and myself an order of frog legs to share. Another first. And they were aMAZING! The batter they used was great, and the texture was like a slightly sweeter, lighter chicken. I would even bet I could get my son to try them, if the little legs were taken away. But yum!

At the moment, a friend of mine is taking a risk and is going to be jumping into a paranormal romance. She's generally not a fan of romance, and after some discussion with me but mostly persuasive arguments from the author herself, my friend is going to read one. I personally really like that style of books, but they're not my friend's cup of tea. Will she like it? Maybe. Will she hate it? Maybe. But she's trying it anyhow!

This is the same type of lesson I try to teach my son, which my parents tried to teach me, and everyone just has to figure out on their own: if you don't try something, you will never know if you like it or not. Over the years, I've given olives their fair chance to convert me on multiple occasions; they have failed. Mushrooms have been a lost cause on me forever; it's a texture thing.

I keep trying to persuade my son to try new things. He's getting so much better: if we offer him a bite of something new, then offer as a reward something familiar, it goes over a lot better. Carrots are now something he eats without my prompting, which is awesome. He even tried fried alligator! They looked like chicken nuggets, and he tried them.

I've noticed that the older I get, the more new things I want to try. I do not know if this is a by product of realizing that time slips away so much faster this side of 30, or my mind has finally opened up enough to accept new and uncomfortable things.

There are a few things I will never be comfortable with: starting new jobs. Prime time TV. Mushrooms. The slip and slide of fashion as it harkens back to the 70's and 80's. (Although in that instance, I was young enough during those decades I never had a chance to fully appreciate the fashion culture nor pop culture in general, so it's worth a shot in some cases.)

In my teens, I was rebellious. I would do anything I could get my hands on, but was still intelligent enough to know when to say no. Sometimes. In my twenties, I was marred by a mentally abusive relationship and it took me a long time to find myself again. Then I had my son, and everything shifted. Familiar was comforting. Familiar was safe. But there were also new things to be tried. Here in my thirties, I find that culinary adventures are exciting and quite attainable. While I may not be packing up the family to move to Ireland on a spur of the moment whim, I can still wander into the nearest restaurant and find something new to try, or go to the bookstore, grab a random book and possibly find a new favorite.

So in conclusion, always find something you've never tried before. Food's my new adventure right now, and I like the ride so far.

Happy trails!

Monday, January 10, 2011

The New Worst Movie I've Ever Seen

Please bear with me today, as this is rather long-winded. Disclaimer: Not responsible for any drool induced by boredom, aching sides induced by laughing, or any stuck eyeballs from rolling them too much.

Okay, so normally I go for life stuff, book stuff, all that jazz. I feel I have rather callously ignored a major area that deserves just as much recognition as anything else going on: and that, dear friends, is movies. Not just any movies, of course, but bad movies.

I thought I had seen bad when I saw "2012." You remember: the disastrous disaster movie of last year, hoping to plague civilization with worries and panic about the coming year 2012? If anyone is NOT familiar with at least one theory on how the world is supposed to end, I will happily eat my shoes. Yes, the John Cusak suck-fest extravaganza had me on the edge of my seat, forcing myself to stay sitting and not reach for the remote to pick something better, anything better, as long as there was something convincing! Oh, Danny Glover, how you have fallen! Oliver Platt, you were once more duped into playing a douchebag. For shame. Amanda Peet... nobody really cares.

Still... even with the plotholes so large that Star Trek: Voyager could have comfortably moved in and called itself realistic, "2012" had something going for it: there was acting, a large budget for over-the-top special effects, and something resembling a script.

No, no, my friends. I have found something new at the bottom of the pile.

You've SEEN the horror of "Day After Tomorrow." You've CRINGED at the cheesiness of "Armageddon." You've GROANED with pain at the deviancy of monster movies like "The Relic" and "Species." You've even learned to laugh at giant killer bunnies thanks to "Night of the Lepus."

But now, there is a new contender, fighting hard, for that coveted bottom title. And that is... "The Lost Treasure of the Grand Canyon."

Made in 2008 and starring (brace yourselves) Michael Shanks and Shannon Doherty, this little gem is the delightful tale of how a team of rag-tag archaeologists in 1930-something must go in search of our heroine's father, who has wandered off into a "cursed valley" of the Grand Canyon.

Where first it is debated whether Egyptians set foot into North America, our apparently relationship-phobic hero, Michael Shanks, appears pitiless and practical. Shannon Doherty, in one of her most challenging roles ever, must convince the team to go find her father, including maverick Dr. Langford (JR Bourne), who has the murky reputation of leaving his team to certain death in Amazon at some point. We also have our required journalist, as well as our Bad!Feminist!Tryingtomakehernameinarchaeology! character; damn it, we've got to act like the men, Shannon--er,Susan, or they won't take us seriously because we're women!

After some love-lorn gazing at the heroine from both Dr. Thain (Shanks) and Dr. Langford, who is not opposed to showing off his sweaty arms as Dr. Thain prefers to bury his head in a book, they set out. Our heroes rely on some untrustworthy Mexican guides who ask for money to guide them to the mysterious valley. Of course, the guides abandon them, taking all but two horses, for some reason. Hmm. All right. Once the horses decide the desert is too hot to walk in and selfishly lie down to die, our Bad!Feminist! chastises the horses for dying.

Eventually, the group comes to said mysterious valley. Dr. Thain is apparently an expert on Aztec culture and realizes that there is a GIANT FREAKING Aztec symbol on a canyon wall. After dueling it out with a surviving member of the dad's original group, who is apparently a little crazy, they decide how to get in. Michael Shanks of course figures it out.

What lies inside our cozy canyon? Why, an outpost of ancient Aztecs, of course! Now, from the start of the movie, we know there is some sort of crazy rubber monster that goes around eating people. As we come to discover, this

is, in fact, the Aztec god, Quetzalcotl.

Does anyone else see a problem with this? Unfortunatley, this was the best and ONLY picture I could find. The thing has bat-like wings, horns, and tiny evil yellow eyes. Oh, it is apparently also a hybrid escapee of Jurassic Park's very own dilophosaurus: it spits a blinding, possibly paralyzing, venom at random people. Oooh, kay.

Now, forgive me for my ignorance, but as far as I remember, this is what Quetzalcotl is supposed to look like:

Anyway. Bad!Feminist! mentions something about a lost treasure. The film, however, decides that naming the movie "The Lost Treasure" is about all they could afford; any sort of actual treasure is only implied and the film company is not responsible for any assumptions that there will be a treasure in this movie. (So sayeth the Fine Print.)

After they find dear old dad, the team, who inexplicably is able to move around the city without being notices--let me pause. I can't go on without airing my complaints. This is my charge list. This film is guilty of the following:

1. Misleading title, as there is no treasure
2. Misrepresenting the god Quetzalcotl and defamation of character
3. Misrepresenting the entire race of the Aztecs
4. Greatly reducing the impressiveness of the Aztec empire and their culture by forcing them into some unknown portion of the Grand Canyon
4. Forcing Michael Shanks (MICHAEL FREAKING SHANKS) into such a terrible movie that even his acting can't save it
5. Forcing the audience to endure the lightly bandied three-way love triangle with a robot lady, a macho I'm Number One, and Greatly!Reduced! Michael Shanks (P.S. He's an archaeologist? Again? REALLY?)
6. Reducing the Aztec warriors into giant pansies who wear diapers
7. Making the Aztecs white
8. (and here's a spoiler for ya'll, because I really don't think many of you will hate me for it) Bad!Feminist! survives, apparently keeps running into the same Aztec guy and exchanging looks (though a real warrior would take a stranger prisoner), and when he unearths her from a giant pile of fallen rock which should have killed her, she stands up, gives him a goofy grin, and that's the last we see of her. I am assuming she remained in the city, though she was desperate to get out and was fiendish enough to push everyone out of her way to get out. Oh, the humanity! Apparently she wasn't liked well enough by ANYONE, as they didn't even address her absence.
9. Making the Aztecs sacrifice anyone and everyone for no reason at all; for greatly reducing the significance of said sacrifices, and for having no one screaming in pain; I guess they all died quietly
10. The guy who gets shot in the leg and can't possibly move by himself, is practically skipping as they leave the city at the end.
11. Everyone is shot by an arrow. And everyone can shoot arrows. Clean, straight through the head or back shots. Uh-huh.
11. Michael Shanks suddenly speaks Aztec. Fluently.
12. M.S. displays ability to summon a donkey out of thin air
13. Bad!Feminist!, OnlyOutForHimself Guy, Headstrong Daughter, Emotionally Constitpated Guy who Needs the Love of a Good Woman: BAD CHARACTERS

So. The group manages to get inside a temple, foiling fiendish booby traps, (Generic Guy gets shot with an arrow laced with "suffocating poison" and is unable to walk, thus depending on Selfish Guy to help him out), and they come face to face with the dreaded Flying Rubber Monster. While the Monster quite smartly and yet quizzically decides not to eat Shannon Doherty (probably because there was no Mylanta to take afterwards), it does appear attracted to people with pointy sticks. Dad decides to sacrifice himself for daughter, and he is abandoned to his fate.

However, apparently Monster decides self-sacrifice is bravery, and does not eat dad. The whole gang is reunited, only to be faced by the High Priest who is about to sacrifice Bad!Feminist! Michael Shanks has remained behind in a room of hearts, comes out to sacrifice himself with the very neat trick of pretending to pull out his own heart.

To make a long story short (TOO LATE), Michael Shanks defeats Flying Monster, assumes the people believe he is now their god, and speaks ancient Aztec language with ease. And yet, he somehow cannot really negotiate for the people to leave; I guess the Aztecs are so damn bloodthirsty they just don't know what to do without a good bloodbath.

Making it out are Generic Guy who is suddenly full of hop and skip and needs no one's help, Susan/Shannon, Dear Old Dad, and Michael Shanks. Bad!Feminist! apparently met some dude when she was being crushed by falling rocks in her attempt to flee for her own life, and we're left to assume that they find a nice bloody altar to make hot sweet love on.

Michael/Dr. Thain has finally professed his ability to express emotion and proclaims his love for Shannon/Susan, and as they all leave the terrible place, Michael/Dr. Thain summons a donkey from somewhere.

No treasure. No interesting look into Aztec culture. No hot and steamy romance on the way.

As long-winded as this is, and I apologize for boring you, it's nothing compared to the movie itself. It's not even MST worthy. The worst part? I've just spent a very long time writing out a long review of this thing. But hey, I have to share the misery :)