Friday, September 05, 2008

Things I am currently obsessed with:

1. The presidential election. I keep telling myself that I have one vote to cast, and I know who I'm voting for, and that checking the polls and the spin and the analysis every fifteen minutes actually isn't going to change things one bit. But I can't stop. 12-step group?

2. Fall fashion. I didn't think I liked the colors purple, or gray. I was wrong. So many pretty clothes!

3. Hurricane Hannah. My father lives on the coast of Georgia. As in: half a block from the Atlantic ocean. Also? He has a pilot's license and a risk-taking personality. (In case you where wondering where I sprang from...) Quote from a recent conversation: "Hell, I made it through two tours of Vietnam with people shooting at me, I can fly through anything." Jesus, Daddy, could you please evacuate by car if it comes to that, just so I don't have a heart attack?

So while I try to control the weather, politics, and my credit card balance, please enjoy the new Stranger column.

And hey - if I have met you, and you did, in fact, say one of the things I talk about in my column, that doesn't mean I think you're a terrible person and I could never like you, okay? I promise.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Politics: Huh. Apparently the two qualifications for being vice-president of the United States are a) boobs and b) a snarky turn of phrase and willingness to mock people. Nice to know I have another career option open to me. Since, you know, I myself possess both those traits.

As an aside: I bet Sarah Palin really pisses Dick Cheney off. I mean, the Republicans picking such a seriously under-qualified candidate - it kinda makes him look like a First Lady with a jockstrap, doesn't it?

Now, I'm certainly going to be talking some about politics until the election. Just so you know, I am actually not a hard-left kind of girl. I think of myself a political moderate, a centrist. I vote Democrat because the Republicans won’t stay out of my panties. Not that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed that on some private occasions. But you know what I mean: the sex/reproductive rights issues.

However, the kind of Republicanism being displayed at the RNC makes me feel like Michael Moore. Only with boobs.

Pop Culture: I saw Tropic Thunder, and I know there’s some unhappiness about their use of the word “retard”, etc. However, I thought it was quite funny, and some of my best friends… Okay, not really. But as far as I know, the gay community is not upset by Jack Black’s passionate soliloquy about the blow-job he’d give to Brandon Jackson. (I know I may never recover from it.) If that speech didn’t send the gay boys shrieking out of the theater, well, surely everyone else can get a sense of humor, too.

Media: I have said in the past that a man looking to sell sex work services to women will starve to death. Well, I still don’t think you should quit your day job. But I think there’s a tiny bit more opportunity there than there used to be. I know someone personally - one might even say biblically - who’s doing all right. Here's a story from a UK paper on the subject – just fluff, really. But a small cultural indicator just the same.

Also from the Times: people who don’t think divorces should be easy to get should read this: professional seducers in Japan give unhappy spouses a way out. An interesting niche of sex work - and certainly one with room for the guys. But even if the “Family Values” party – ahem, excuse me, something seems to be sticking in my craw here, cough cough - gets elected, I can’t believe Mr. Second-Marriage McCain would take the country this way.

There’s also a lot of fuss in certain circles about this piece. Hipster Hookers, in Radar. I don’t know why, because I have read about a million jillion articles just like it. Hell, I know people who've written entire books on the topic. Elevator pitch: “Sweet young thing is titillated by sex work, but realizes at the last minute that she’s not that kind of girl”. Fresh and edgy, huh? NOT.

She may not be cut out to be an escort, however I think the author would make a great stripper, because this article is all tease and no delivery. Also, I can’t believe she gave the madame money. "Na├»ve and Gullible, party of one!"

Okay, I think I'm done demonstrating what a good Vice-President I'd be. Did I mention that I have boobs?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Reading List

I had recently gotten into the habit of reading almost all non-fiction. Especially when I don't have a lot of time to sit down and read - and I haven't - I find it's easier to pick up and put down. However, I think that it’s important to me, as a writer, to stay balanced, so I lately made a conscious decision to read more fiction. The smooth and accurate delivery of information is a crucial skill, and I think I’m pretty good at that. What I continue to work on, as a writer, is painting pictures with words, conveying a sense of place – sights, sounds, and impressions. That’s what I try to get from the fiction I read – how is the writer doing that?

I read Touchstone, by Laurie King, and I enjoyed it a lot. I like most of her work, especially the Mary Russel/Sherlock Holmes ones. Some of her contemporary suspense novels I’m not super crazy about, but even when they aren’t my favorite, I still think Ms. King has a knack for describing places, and she does the “show, don’t tell” thing superbly. Plus, I learned a lot about the period I hadn't known from this novel.

From the website: “Set shortly before Britain's disastrous General Strike of 1926, this stand-alone thriller from bestseller King (Keeping Watch) offers impeccable scholarship and the author's usual intelligent prose, but a surfeit of period detail and some weighty themes—the gulf between rich and poor, the insidious nature of both terrorism and the efforts to curb it—overpower the thin plot and stock characters. When Harris Stuyvesant, an investigator for the U.S. Justice Department, arrives in London to look for the mastermind behind a series of terrorist bombings on American soil, he tells Aldous Carstairs, a sinister government official, that his prime suspect is Labour Party leader Richard Bunsen. Carstairs suggests Stuyvesant should talk to Bennett Grey, whose brush with death during WWI has heightened his sense of perception to the point that he's a kind of human lie detector (he's the touchstone of the title), and to Lady Laura Hurleigh, Bunsen's lover and a passionate advocate of his brand of socialism. The threat of violence at a secret summit meeting held at the Hurleigh family's country house about preventing the strike provides some mild suspense.”

Well, I liked it. I hope Harris makes another appearance.

No one does lengthy description quite like the Victorians. I have plowed through my share of Dickens, of course. But there are other authors of the era whose work survives, and one of them is Mary Elizabeth Braddon, author of "Lady Audley’s Secret". Published in 1862, this was one of the best-selling “sensational” novels of it’s day. Now the plot - bigamy and attempted murder – is tame. And the prose is rather meandering. But there are some turns of phrase I liked, and the whole thing just has such an antique charm.

I do like historical novels, but I'll read anything this lady writes: Elizabeth Peters. Her plots are often absurd if you really think about them, but it's such fun that you don't care. This latest one is no exception. Like JK Rowling, she has a gift for creating characters you just want to hang around with, no matter what they're doing. (But they're always doing something.)

And then there was this one: Buckingham Palace Gardens, by Anne Perry. Now, I used to love Anne Perry, and I haven't given up on her. But she is trying to publish two novels a year lately, and wow, her work is really suffering. She has written some entertaining and well-researched Victorian mystery novels, but this one? Sucked. I hate to say that about another writer, but – ew. It’s all very flat, the whole thing feels rushed, and all she does is tell us how people feel. I hope she slows down a bit and gets back to her usual form.

Monday, September 01, 2008

I really hope Gustav lets Louisiana off more lightly than we fear. I grew up in Florida and I know the devastation a hurricane can bring. Those poor people, after Katrina and everything.

But I think this storm is a gift to the Republican National Convention, because now they can cancel speeches by Bush and Cheney, who have become political liabilities, under the guise of being respectful of those suffering from the storm. No one will be saying "heckuva job, Brownie!" at the RNC, no sirreebob. There's no way they can measure up to the sheer rock-star magic of Obama's DNC, so they are taking the opposite tack, paring it way down, and presenting themselves as mature, sober, God-fearing men of toil. Or the soil. Or something. But whatever the spin, McCain sure as hell doesn't want to have his picture taken standing next to Monkey Boy and The Dark Lord.

I admit I was tantalized by this weekend's internet-rumors about how Sarah Palin's fifth child wasn't really hers, but her teenage daughter's. (The idea being that Palin faked a pregnancy to cover up the embarrassment of having a pregnant and unwed child.) However, I'm not sure the story has legs. It's an interesting chain of odd choices and curious coincidences, but not something I'd hang my hat on. And even if that story were true, if she weren't looking to be VP, I would say it's no one's business anyway. However, the National Enquirer and it's ilk will undoubtedly do any vetting that McCain's camp may have overlooked.

Whatever happens this November, it will be historic. We do live in interesting times, don't we?