Saturday, January 31, 2009

OUCH! Book review of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Status: Wobbly. 9 mile run this morning.
What I'm listening to: "Gotta Get Thru This" by Daniel Bedingfield

I actually read another book written for people over 18! *Gasp* I know, shocking. So I thought I'd review it. Plus, it made a real impression on me (and you'll see why).

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See, is the life story of two girls in 19th century China.

From the jacket:

Lily is haunted by memories – of who she once was, and of a person, long gone, who defined her existence. She has nothing but time now, as she recounts the tale of Snow Flower, and asks the gods for forgiveness. In nineteenth-century China, when wives and daughters were foot-bound and lived in almost total seclusion, the women in one remote Hunan county developed their own secret code for communication: nu shu ("women's writing"). Some girls were paired with laotongs, "old sames," in emotional matches that lasted throughout their lives. They painted letters on fans, embroidered messages on handkerchiefs, and composed stories, thereby reaching out of their isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. With the arrival of a silk fan on which Snow Flower has composed for Lily a poem of introduction in nu shu, their friendship is sealed and they become "old sames" at the tender age of seven. As the years pass, through famine and rebellion, they reflect upon their arranged marriages, loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their lifelong friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.

The story begins with Lily as an old woman, who has lived far longer than she ever thought she would, and has watched most of her loved ones pass on without her. Although she may regret many things, she regrets the most how the relationship with her "old same," Snow Flower, went bad. The writing was good and the character development was well done. It's not a fast paced book at all, and while there's some excitement when rebels roam the countryside, the book mostly flows along at the same pace. The vivid culture description is what makes this book really worthwhile. And before I go on, yes, I would recommend the book.

You can find out more about Lisa See on her website.

Although Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is mostly about relationships--which is what many reviews lauded--what impacted me the most was look into 19th century Chinese culture. I've heard of Chinese foot binding, but I guess what I had in mind was that they just bound their feet so they could fit them in smaller shoes. I didn't realize they actually broke the bones of the feet! They bind the foot and then make the girls walk back and forth until the bones break. In one passage I had to put the book down because I was literally sick to my stomach.

And I found some incredible pictures that I just have to share. These were on an amazing website, and the next paragraph and following pictures are from that site.

"Zhou Guizhen who is 86 years old, shows one of her bound feet where the bones in the four small toes were broken and forced underneath the foot over a period of time, at her home in Liuyi village in China’s southern Yunnan Province, 23 February 2007. According to popular Chinese legend the custom was at first adopted among courtesans after a Tang Dynasty emperor about 1000 years ago fell in love with a concubine who wrapped her tiny feet in silk when she danced and the practice soon entrenched itself in the lower classes. It became the ultimate measure of a woman’s beauty and also a condition of marriage and part of bedside repertoire. To mold the so-called “lotus foot” girls’ feet were wrapped at about six years of age, an agonisingly painful process that would break the bones. MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images"

What we will do in the name of beauty!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Spam- and not the canned kind

Status: Science project due tomorrow. Procrastination of a big project = bad idea.
Song: "Alive and Kicking" by Simple Minds

I had a bad moment in the Agent Hunt yesterday. My rejection rate had reached 1/3 already, and, I admit it, I was discouraged for a moment. (It didn't help that I was tired, had just run 4 miles, and was shaky because I hadn't eaten very good the day before or anything yet that morning.) So I blubbered and dripped snot all over my husband's shoulder.

*I'm not one of those people that cry gracefully, like some romance heroine or movie star who's makeup stays on while her lower lip quivers and glistening drops gently roll down her cheeks. No, I get all red-faced and blotchy and my nose thinks that it's time to go gangbusters. Unlike me, my middle son can cry gracefully. These huge crocodile tears just well up in his eyes, hover in his incredibly long I-can't-believe-these-are-wasted-on-a-boy eyelashes, then trickle down his cheeks leaving shimmering trails, while he looks at you with those big blue eyes...

Anyway, my wonderful husband *did not* push me away (scoring major points, because I was a sight), or even reach for something to mop up the puddle on his shoulder as I wailed incoherent statements about how I really want this, and I know my book is good, but obviously my query letter sucks, and how I've spent hours trying to write a new one and it's horrible too, and how do you write something good enough yet professional enough for the agent to even give you a chance, etc. etc. I think I tossed in some more woes, too, but it's all a bit hazy.

When my 5 minute pity party was over--and after some breakfast--I returned again to my normal tenacious (no, not stubborn!), optimistic self and I was ready to continue with the hunt. Even with a terrible query letter. *Note: look for a post in the near future on query letters.

Then last night near the end of the marathon Science Fair Project going on at my house, I took a break to send an email. As I was writing I looked over at the folders on the little sidebar-thingey and saw: SPAM (1)

Hm, thought I. That's strange to only have one spam. Usually they come in batches of 462.

So, I opened the folder and saw it was a reply to a query. Another rejection, probably. Might as well go for an even dozen. *shrug*

Are you ready for this? It was a request from Catherine Dayton of Inkwell Management for the first 50 pages of my manuscript!!!

I screamed.

Catherine... What a beautiful name! I *love* that name (now). I think I shall name a plant Catherine, since I have no nameless children or pets. I could name my favorite pair of shoes Catherine. No... I don't want her to think I'm walking all over her. My car could be named Catherine. Or maybe my beloved electric blanket.

The moral: Check your Spam! (It may not all be secret crushes, or people selling life insurance, or offers for *certain* physical enhancements, or money from the gov't, or Jennifer, Janice, or Jane wanting you to see their pics. It may be something you really, really want. That just might save your husband's shoulder from another deluge of writing-induced waterworks.)


**Disclaimer: If this is Catherine or any other agent, I really won't name my electric blanket after you. Unless, of course, you really want me to...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Word of the Week #37

Status: Gearing up for the week ahead.
Song: "Fighter" by Christina Aguilera

xanthous - [ZAN-thuhs] - adjective

Definition: yellow; yellowish.

Usage: You can often tell that a baby is jaundiced by the xanthous eyes.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Books I've read recently - some I recommend, others not so much

Status: Procrastinating making my son do his book report (So mom's going to do one? Hmmmm...)
Song: "A different drum" by Peter Gabriel

I wanted to share my thoughts on some of the books I've read recently. In theory I was going to spread it out so I'd have lots of blog posts, but I'm still reading a ton and if I do that I'll never get caught up. So we're going to do a compilation post of book reviews/recommended reading.

First up...

The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean.
Conclusion: Very, very good. I highly recommend. Go read it. I mean it.

I've read so much young adult and childrens fiction lately that a couple months ago I decided I had to at least read *something* written for people over 18. I strolled through the New Books section of my library and picked this up, with no idea what it was about. And I loved it.

I found this description online, and it's so good that I'm going to just cut and paste for you:

A wonderfully spare and elegant novel in which the 900-day siege of Leningrad during World War II is echoed by the destructive siege against the mind and memory of an elderly Russian woman suffering from Alzheimer's. The novel shifts between two settings: 1941 Leningrad, when the city was surrounded by German troops, and the present-day, as Marina, who had been a docent at Leningrad's Hermitage Museum during WWII, prepares for the wedding of her granddaughter off the coast of Seattle in the Pacific Northwest. THE MADONNAS OF LENINGRAD is first and foremost an eloquent tribute to the beauty and resilience of memory, especially as contrasted to the incomparable devastation that comes with its loss to Alzheimer's.

Splitting the stories throughout is done skillfully and seamlessly. I used to help take care of my husband's grandmother who had Alzheimer's, so this story was extra poignant. I highly recommend.


Skinned by Robin Wasserman
Conclusion: I'm not sure. Really.

From the back cover:
Some miracles come with a price . . .

Lia Kahn was perfect: rich, beautiful, popular. Until the accident that nearly killed her. Now she has been downloaded into a new body that only looks human. Lia will never feel pain again, she will never age, and she can't ever truly die.

This is another YA in the same vein as the Uglies, Pretties, Specials Series - I'm not sure what the genre is exactly: YA sci-fi, or YA urban fantasy, or a mixture of the two?

The idea is intriguing, the writing is well done, the future world and society seem realistic, but... (you're waiting for the but, aren't you?) I didn't like the characters. And I don't mean I just didn't like the main character (which I didn't). But there was honestly not a single character in the whole book that I liked when I finished. There was one character that was better than the rest and I had high hopes for him, until the end when he turned just as horrible as the rest. The adults were uncaring and Machiavellian. The kids were rich, spoiled, mean, self-centered, whiny, and used behavior modification drugs as a matter of course.

Lia was your absolute rich, snotty teenager who feels entitled, then her parents decide to download her brain. She doesn't get any say in the matter and feels completely violated. I can understand the whining and anger in that case. Unfortunately, the book ends with her still a rich, snotty teenager who feels entitled--oh, and is very angry. I've read books with characters I don't like, and part of the satisfaction is seeing them grow and develop, but Lia didn't.

So, I'm not sure if I'd recommend this book. It's the first in a trilogy, and I might actually start the next book, just to see if the characters start to change. But if they don't, then I'll put it down for good. You can find out about Robin Wasserman and the books on her website.

And then...

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Conclusion: Very, very good. I can't wait for the next one.

From the back cover:

Twenty- four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives.

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.

Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

I really liked this book. The writing was excellent, the characters were great, and I *loved* the twist on our society's obsession with Reality Shows. I can just imagine the author watching Survivor one day and thinking, What if this were real? What if it was to the death? What if it were kids?

I loved that the main character stayed true to her ideals and loved others enough to sacrifice. She participated in the game to the death, but hated it the entire time. And the romance aspect - perfect. I highly recommend this book to anyone.

You can find out more about Suzanne Collins on her website, and even read the first chapter of The Hunger Games on Scholastic's website.

And wrapping up (so this isn't forever long)...

Staying Dead (Retrievers Book 1) by Laura Anne Gilman
Conclusion: Pretty good

From the cover:
Manhattan's nightlife just got weirder. . .It starts as a simple job - but simple jobs, when you're dealing with this magical world, often end up anything but. As a Retriever, Wren Valere specializes in finding things gone missing - and then bringing them back, no questions asked. Normally her job is stimulating, challenging and only a little bit dangerous. But every once in a while. . .

Case in point - a cornerstone containing a spell is stolen and there's a magical complication. (Isn't there always?) Wren's unique abilities aren't enough to lay this particular case to rest, and so she turns to some friends: a demon (minor), a mage who has lost her mind, and a few others - including Sergei, her business partner (and maybe a bit more?) Sometimes what a woman has to do to get the job done is enough to give even Wren nightmares.

This book was pretty good. It was light, fun reading. The magic system was unique - magic is called current and is actually part of electricity. Pretty interesting, really. Wren was spunky and likable, with just the right touches of sarcasm and vulnerability. The other characters, including the demon, were interesting. There are more in the series that I would definitely read.

You can find out more about the author on her blog and I *think* this is her website--sorta.

Of course I've read more than that, but I'll just have to do another compilation post soon. Have a great weekend and toss any book suggestions my way!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Wahoo! We're having a bonfire!

Status: Opened email with trepidation. No new rejections yet today.
Song: "Unstoppable" by Kat Deluna

I just have to share the best thing I've heard in 24 hours. The suggestion comes from my fellow author and agent-hunting friend, Matthew Buckley, (who writes amusing kids books that you can find all about and even listen to the audio of his latest FREE - that's right, completely free - on his blog Chickens Don't Have Armpits). Anyway, as I griped and moaned yesterday about this whole process this was his advice:

Burn a little agent action figure in effigy. That is what I do.

What a *FABULOUS* idea! I was a bit of a pyro when younger (and no, I will not tell my children how WD-40 makes a truly marvelous blowtorch), and this is right up my alley.

So come on over everyone! We're having a FIRE tonight! And Matthew, you bring the facepaint so we can dance around the bonfire in Lord of the Flies abandon. Everyone's welcome!

*If you happen to be one of those agents I queried and you're doing a little research on me, you can come, too. For you, I'll even make S-mores.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Agent Hunt - almost like a snipe hunt

Status: A little grumpy
Song: "King of Pain" by The Police

Sometimes I'm a little slow, so I just realized that in 2009 I embarked on a journey that I should have been sharing with you all on this blog.

*prostrating myself on the floor*

My most humble, abject apologies dear reader! I resolve to now share the in's and out's of the whole experience, in embarrassing (I have a feeling) detail.

I finished my children's fantasy and it was time for the next step. Going national. *gasp* Yep, I have two books already published by a niche publisher, but I've set my sights higher. And in order to "go national" I need the most indispensible of individuals to an author: a literary agent. That rare breed of human that can scale big publishing houses and book contract mumbo-jumbo in a single bound.

So I gathered my hunting gear--comfy slippers, a fuzzy blanket, various items for throwing across the room, a bandaid for when my head bleeds from banging it on top of the computer desk, a glass of water (your throat gets rather parched screaming in frustration), and some munchies so I leave my tush parked in the computer desk and don't leave and get all distracted (which happens surprisingly often in the middle of synopsis writing)--and set off on the hunt.

Now, there are a lot of agents out there. But there are also a lot of would-be authors hunting for them, so there is quite the maze of submission requirements and other hurdles that agents have thrown up, much like the wily fox during a fox-hunt, to make sure only the best writers get through to them. And in today's market, it is very hard indeed.

But armed with my sunny optimism, the burning need to find a way to make money with my passion, and the knowledge that I've written a darn good book, I set out on the hunt.

Have you ever been on a snipe hunt? Well, today my sunny optimism is a bit overcast like the gray day outside, and I'm feeling like I'm on a snipe hunt. Don't worry, I'll persevere, but I just need some time to gripe and moan today.


That feels a little better. I'll keep a progress report in the sidebar and deliver brilliant and entertaining blogs on the whole process, but I think that's it for me today.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Word of the Week #36

Status: Now Twittering. Tweet, tweet!
Song: "Sky Blue" by Peter Gabriel

pandiculation - [pan-dik-yuh-LEY-shuhn] - noun

Definition: An instinctive stretching, as on awakening or while yawning.

Usage: More than any other animals--humans included--cats revel in the glory of frequent pandiculation.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Today as a writing exercise

Status: Ummmm
Song: "60 Miles an Hour" by New Order

I’ve read various places to do writing exercises to work on your craft, but many of the topics they pick for those are boring. After all, you know you’re a writer if you can take the daily mediocrity and make something out of it. So, here goes.

If today were written as a…

Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, in a house not too far away, a young mother rose from her warm bed long before the rest of the family. It was still dark outside, and dawn was yet an hour or two away. As Jaime slipped past the rooms with their still-slumbering occupants, she didn’t wish them ill, even though they were still sleeping and she went to bed later—after all, the dishes had to be done. Jaime was good-natured and loving, and without an irritable bone in her body (or even a backbone, come to think of it). She shivered in the cold as she tiptoed barefoot across the frigid tiles, careful not to bump into anything and wake the others.

She opened the side garage door, and the frost coating everything sparkled in the light from the open doorway like the diamonds of the Queen’s crown. It was so beautiful that Jaime burst into spontaneous song. The neighborhood cats and the one yippy dog that never stops barking (no matter what time of day or night—but Jaime never got irritated by this) joined in. Their voices blended into a beautiful harmony that rose into the pre-dawn stillness. With regret, Jaime wished the animals a good day, then trudged off to her weight class, where she would try and get stronger so she could take care of the chores, which today included a top-to-bottom deep cleaning before the royal mortgage refinance appraiser arrived.

Jaime wished she could go to the royal ball tonight. The mother who caught the prince’s eye would win a housekeeper for a year. She sighed, a small tear escaping down her perfectly curled lashes even though she never put on any mascara. Unfortunately, the baseboards and walls would take so long she wouldn’t have time to get a suitable dress ready or round brush her hair. Maybe if she burst into tears later that day, a kindly fairy would grant her wish...

Old Picture Book

See Jaime wake up
See her go to her weight class
Shiver Jaime Shiver

See Jaime exercise
See her do a billion crunches
Lift Jaime Lift

See Jaime go home
See her wash walls and floors
Scrub Jaime Scrub

See Jaime get tired
See her not get to the basement
Tomorrow, Jaime. Tomorrow.

(Bad) Historical Romance

Jaime woke with a start. She hadn’t wanted to wake from the lovely dream, where she was reliving the glory of the previous evening. Lady Mary had insisted Jaime take her place when she became ill. And once Jaime saw Sir Jason standing across the room, his finely tailored costume only enhancing the body encased within it, she knew immediately why Lady Mary had suddenly been struck with a fit of the vapors. She came close herself when he strode over to her as soon as she entered the Beauchamp’s drawing room.

“I see you are wearing the trinket I gave you.” He indicated the sparkling bracelet on her wrist just before he raised her gloved hand to his lips.

She had to fight not to snatch her hand away, somehow sure he could feel the roughness of her work-hardened fingers through the fine material. Or maybe it was the fact his lips seemed to burn through the cloth. Or that he gazed at her with eyes like a clear summer sky.

He would know she was an imposter as soon as she spoke. She was much more forthright than her mistress, which would give her away instantly. Even though Jaime had been gentle born and still spoke like a lady, the years of taking care of her family when her father retreated into the bottle, and then finally having to become a lady’s companion cum servant, had cured her of any demureness.

She just had to extricate herself from his mesmerizing sapphire gaze. As soon as possible. “It’s beautiful,” she whispered.

“My lady,” he said. “Your voice?”

“My throat is sore,” she explained.

He captured her elbow and she could swear there was a slight smile behind the mask. “Then by all means, do not tax your lovely throat. I shall retrieve some punch for you.”

And that was the beginning of the most glorious night Jaime had ever imagined. Even thinking about it made her pulse quicken and her breathing deepen. Her bosom heaved.

But then her excitement turned to despair and she focused on her bucket of soapy water and the rag she was using to wipe down the walls. The royal appraiser was coming and there was so much work to be done. As she scrubbed at another spot she faced the truth: her love was doomed. Without her disguise he would only ever see her as a servant.

**Forgive me for the heaving bosoms, but it is a romance. And I’d appreciate it if those of you who have seen me in a swimsuit wouldn’t laugh too hard—I know “bosom” is a stretch.**


“There’s nothing left, captain!” Sporty, the engineer, shouted across the intercom. “That’s all she has!”

Jaime, the plucky star cruiser captain with something to prove, slammed her fist against the Com Board. “You have to!”

She was afraid she was out of her depth with this one. Her first voyage as captain looked like it would be her last. Maybe that slimy admiral was right: she was too young for this. She was willing to take the risk, had sworn in the Academy to do so, but as she thought of her crew all looking at her to somehow make this better, she knew she had to do something. She couldn’t let the Tralls—those cannibalistic, four-armed, blue-skinned, big-foreheaded, and the dirtiest race in the known galaxy—have her crew for dinner. By Snapthar’s Groin, she refused to be any specie’s entrĂ©e!

By sheer will, she remained standing as their ship was rocked by another laser blast. A junior navigator went flying over the rail to land in a crumpled heap below.

“That’s not good enough!” she informed her engineer.

“We’re completely out of ammo for our SPLAT torpedoes,” Sporty argued. “There’s just no more left.”

“Wait a minute,” Jaime said, struck by an unbelievably brilliant—or unbelievably stupid—idea. She turned to her science officer. “SPLAT torpedoes are liquid-based. Could we substitute other liquids for SPLAT?”

Bart considered, his face implacable. “Theoretically, but it’s never been tested.”

“Luwanda,” Jaime barked at her second-in-command. “How much of that green apple cleaner do we have on board?”

“Storeroom 51-G on deck 43 is completely full. Why?” Luwanda asked.

“Bart, I want you to get all the hands you can to 51-G. Transport it all to the weapons deck. Fill all the empty containers you can find that will fit in the SPLAT tubes.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Bart answered. At Jaime’s scowl he amended, “I mean, yes captain.”

“Let’s give those Tralls a cleaning they’ll never forget,” Jaime vowed.

*Whew* That was fun! I'll have to do it more often. (Yeah, I'm weird.) You ought to try it. Maybe I'll ask for genre suggestions next time. :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Word of the Week #35

Status: No, I didn't forget about my Word of the Week
Song: "Black and White" by Sarah McLaughlin

phrontistery - [fron-tis-teree] - noun

Definition: An establishment for study and learning.

Usage: I've always thought the home should be as much a phrontistery as school.

*I got this word from a super-fun website called The Phrontistery. It has lists of obscure, crazy words, and a Compendium of Lost Words like aquabib (water-drinker), celeberrimous (very or most highly celebrated), nubivagant (moving throughout or among clouds), and oporopolist (fruit-seller). Theoretically, I could study vocabulary words to make sure people have no idea what I'm saying! *rubbing hands together in glee*

Yeah, I know. I'm such a nerd.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Book Review - My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison

Status: Loved the book
Song: "Human Touch" by Under the Influence of Giants

I am thrilled, happy, and ecstatic (is that enough adjectives?) to review the latest book by author Janette Rallison, one of my favorite YA authors (and a fantastic person). I recently went on a trip and spent almost as much time agonizing over which books to pack (stupid 50 lb. limit!) as everything else that went in my suitcase. In my view, a vacation is only a vacation with good books to help complete the escape from the daily grind.

I'm sad to say that My Fair Godmother wasn't one of the books I packed. Although, since I only had an electronic copy and didn't want to drag around my husband's laptop everywhere, isn't totally my fault. I wish it had been one I had a hard copy of, though. My Fair Godmother is exactly the type of book I loved as teenager, mixing humor with unique twists of loved fairy-tales, a la Robin McKinley.

About the story (from Finding your one true love can be a Grimm experience!

After her boyfriend dumps her for her older sister, sophomore Savannah Delano wishes she could find a true prince to take her to the prom. Enter Chrissy (Chrysanthemum) Everstar: Savannah’s gum-chewing, cell phone–carrying, high heel-wearing Fair Godmother. Showing why she’s only Fair—because she’s not a very good fairy student—Chrissy mistakenly sends Savannah back in time to the Middle Ages, first as Cinderella, then as Snow White. Finally she sends Tristan, a boy in Savannah’s class, back instead to turn him into her prom-worthy prince. When Savannah returns to the Middle Ages to save Tristan, they must team up to defeat a troll, a dragon, and the mysterious and undeniably sexy Black Knight. Laughs abound in this clever fairy tale twist from a master of romantic comedy.

This story is absolutely delightful! I laughed multiple times, paused a minute to think when Chrissy shot out some surprisingly profound insights, and parked my kids in front of the TV so they'd quit bothering me so I could keep reading. In fact, part of the reason I was behind last week in catching up after my vacation was because of this book (although I finished it in 2 days, so it didn't interfere too much). I'm not sure what that says about me since I'm just a little over the target audience age...

Not only is My Fair Godmother light and fun, but Rallison cleverly sneaks in some lessons that we all could learn a little better: being grateful for what we already have, not to let little things ruin relationships with family, that sometimes what we think we want is not as good as what we already have, and to always read contracts carefully--especially when dealing with fairies or leprechauns.

I would recommend My Fair Godmother to anyone and everyone in a heartbeat. You can find out more about Janette Rallison on her website and her fantastic blog.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still and other movies I should have skipped

Status: Sore. Getting back into the working out groove after a couple weeks off.
Song: "Subway" by Peter Murphy

Some of you may be looking at the movie poster above and scratching your head. Even though you recognize the title of the movie, that poster sure doesn't look like Keanu Reeves or Jennifer Connelly. In fact, it looks like a really bad old sci-fi movie.

Well, you're right. But I like this movie poster because it shows you much more accurately what to expect. Or, maybe not. You might expect a sci-fi, but it really just felt like a political agenda with a thin movie veneer (and not a very good veneer either). The movie was sort of sci-fi, but not a very good one. It tried to be a thriller at times, but not a very good one. A drama? Maybe, but not a very good one. The plot was marginal, the alien technology so-so, characterization was iffy, the special effects were okay (convenient that the little destroyer bugs only killed people and man-made things) and Keanu Reeves must believe that aliens speak in a monotone and turn their head robotically. Oh, and did I mention that the United States only ever has one solution to any problem, and that's to blow it up (at least according to this movie). The alien kills a man, then brings him back to life immediately for no apparent reason. Oh, wait, to show that he could, I guess. I sure couldn't figure out the logic of it.

Kathy Bates as the Secretary of State was horrible casting. I have to feel a little sorry for her (the actress), because I will never be able to see her without envisioning her holding a poor author hostage and breaking his ankles with a sledgehammer (if you're lost, go rent "Misery"). So when she's talking to the president on the phone, I kept wondering if he was tied up in a "secure location" with a typewriter.

I know we felt like we were watching a train wreck. Surely it would get better, right? Sorry. The best thing about the movie was the previews, and they were AWESOME. The new Star Trek (I'm a trekkie - nuff said), Terminator Salvation totally rocked, and a new X-Men is coming that looks way good. In fact, I think the X-Men trailer was advertized as only available at the beginning of "When the Earth Stood Still" - probably to try and get people there.

The movie got a 12% rating by top critics at and the consensus is "Heavy on special effects, but without a coherent story at its base, The Day the Earth Stood Still is subpar re-imagining of the 1951 science-fiction classic." Amen, brothers.

It got me started thinking about other bad movies I should have skipped. **Note: By bad movies I don't necessarily mean "B movies." I like some B-movies. Visit this blog for a good discussion on what exactly is a B-movie. I sure didn't know that stuff.

Let's get started with a classic. "Traxx" with Shadoe Stevens is forever burned into my memory as beyond horrible. The main character simply wants to follow his dream of making cookies. The problem? Being a hero just keeps getting in the way. Nevermind the fact that he can't bake worth a darn and actually makes doggie doo cookies. *shudder* It was supposed to be a parody but was just plain awful.

"Army of Darkness" was another train wreck, only without even decent special effects. I think the zombie/skeleton things were filmed using claymation effects. This movie does hold a special place in my heart, however, because without it I wouldn't be able to make my husband laugh any time by saying "Give me some sugar." Apparently medieval wenches popping out of their tavern dresses loved that pickup line.

I apologize to Rock fans, but "Scorpion King" has to be on this list. I rolled my eyes so many times I missed half the movie. The bad guy--in ancient Egypt no less--was as white and American as could be. I kept expecting him to break out in country music lyrics.

I also have to give honorable mention to The Forbidden Kingdom. We were told it was worse than "The Day the Earth Stood Still." In fact, it was so bad the couple we were with nicknamed it "Monkey Kingdom." I'm tempted to actually watch the movie to see if it really is that bad, but I think I'll just trust them on it.

I know there are tons more bad movies I could list, but I want to leave some for you to comment on. What are some other movies you've seen when you felt your time would have been better spent watching paint dry?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Red-headed step blog & New Year's Resolve

Status: Full of all sorts of good intentions
Song: "Come All You Weary" by Thrice

As a parent I try hard not to play favorites between children, but I've realized that I'm actually guilty of it. Yes, for the last year I've played blog favorites, and unfortunately Bookmom Musings has played the role of the red-headed step blog.

I'm so sorry little blog! Please forgive me for neglecting you and posting boring blogs. *wipe a tear*

For this new year , I resolve to give this little blog the attention it is starving for, and therefore make things much more interesting for all my loyal readers (both of you).

To kick things off I'll share some of my other New Year's Resolutions. I know it's already 6 days into the new year, but in looking back on my journal entries last year, I didn't get around to making resolutions until sometime in February. So, you see, I'm already off to a better start. (Resolution #8: No procrastinating).

Here are a couple more resolutions for your reading pleasure. *Disclaimer: I will be sharing only a few resolutions here. And nothing too personal, like those saggy body parts I'll be whipping into shape at the gym, for example. Oops. I just did it. Darn!

1. I will get my stupid synopsis finished (this *will* happen this week)

2. I resolve to finish the rough draft of my next book. Now I just have to decide which one to do out of the dozen clamoring for attention in my brain.

3. I will not sit through another movie as bad as "The Day the World Stood Still." Oh, my goodness. You can anticipate a future post on that.

4. I will only check my email 5 times a day (unless I'm waiting for an email, then only 10 times. Or 15.)

5. I will overcome my blogging addiction.

6. I will make realistic goals. So scratch #5.

Okay. That's enough for now. All this resolve & determination is tiring. I feel like some tacos. After I check email real quick...