New book trailer!

I’m so excited to have actor Chris Patton performing the voice over in the trailer for my upcoming release, “In the Heart of Darkness (Book 9 in the Brethren Series, if you’re keeping count.) Chris narrated my audio book, Dark Passages: Tristan & Karen as well as the recent audio version of the Guardians of the Galaxy novelization, and is known worldwide for his work in numerous anime films and TV shows. You can find out more about him here. If it’s possible to have a crush on someone’s voice, then I’ve got one on his, LOL.

RIP: James Foley, American journalist

Every day, my Facebook feed is clogged with stories about Ferguson, MO. Not once have I seen anyone comment on the death of James Foley, an American journalist murdered in cold, cowardly blood by Islamist extremists, ISIS, for presumed offenses he had nothing to do with. He died while trying to keep the world informed about the ongoing struggles and strifes against humanity in the Middle East in general, and Syria specifically.

We’ve all heard about Michael Brown, the 18-year-old killed by a police officer in the St. Louis suburb. We’ve all seen his picture, read about his life, know his biography. But have you seen James Foley’s picture? Do you know anything about him, or his life, or what he’d hoped to accomplish working in the Middle East? 

In case you don’t, let me introduce you to him. 

From his bio on Wikipedia: “James Wright Foley (October 18, 1973 – c. August 19, 2014) was an American freelance photojournalist. He worked for the U.S. GlobalPost news company, until November 22, 2012, when he was abducted in northwestern Syria while covering the Syrian Civil War. In August 2014, Foley became the first American citizen to be killed by the Islamic State.

Foley was a native of Rochester, New Hampshire, and attended Kingswood Regional High School in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. He was the oldest of five children born to John and Diane Foley. He as a Catholic.

Foley graduated from Marquette University in 1996. He graduated from the MFA Program for Poets & Writers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2003. Foley graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in 2008.

Foley was kidnapped in northwestern Syria along with his translator in November 2012. The translator was later released. ISIS demanded $132 million from Foley’s family and GlobalPost, his employer, for his release during a period of time when communication was being exchanged November to December of 2013. The chief executive officer of GlobalPost, Philip Balboni, stated that the company spent millions on efforts to bring Foley home, including hiring an international security firm. In September 2013 the firm was able to locate Foley and had been able to follow his locations. He had moved many times during his captivity.”

Where is the indignation and outrage against HIS murderers? Where are the mobs of people protesting this heroic young man’s brutal, sadistic, sick murder? We’re too busy fighting ourselves – we’re doing this man and his sacrifice — and the deaths of every American serviceman, journalist, or aid worker who has been butchered — a cruel disservice. We’re doing the dirty work for the sons of bitches who did this.

Here’s a story about James Foley and the courage he demonstrated right until the end. I hope you are as horrified and outraged as I am. And DO NOT tell me this is Obama’s fault. I’m not interested in political bullshit finger-pointing. ISIS is to blame – they are the ONLY ONES TO BLAME.:http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/french-journalist-partly-ids-james-foley-killer-article-1.1912022.

Aging gracefully, my big fat ass

I had been trying to brainstorm a good blog post idea for today when I came across this article on my Facebook feed. It’s an open letter from a 33-year-old mother of five to a group of younger assholes who felt it necessary to laugh about her stretch marks while she was sunbathing at the beach. 

While I’ve never had that kind of experience, I think it’s fair to say that once you reach a certain point in life, you start becoming more and more aware not only of the generation gap between yourself and those younger than you, but also of that younger generation’s complete obliviousness to the fact that THEY’RE NEXT.

That’s right, kids. That woman you laughed at for having stretchmarks? What the fuck do you think you or your wife is going to look like after bearing children?

In my case, I’ll never forget buying Pepto Bismol at a Kmart once. I was in my thirties at the time, probably around 33, like the mother in the aforementioned article. And the teeny-bopped cashier turned to grin at the teeny-bopper bagger as she scanned my Pepto Bismol — or rather, the generic version. “Pink bismuth,” she said, having a hard time wrapping her 11th-grade vocabulary around the multi-syllabic second word. She and the bagger started laughing. I bristled inwardly, but didn’t say anything. What I wanted to say — what I wish to this day I’d said, even though the words would’ve been wasted on two so obviously oblivious to their own forthcoming aging processes — was “Yeah, ha ha. Har-dee-fucking har har. GET A MORTGAGE, bitch, then come and laugh about gastrointestinal woes.”

Because I’d once laughed about shit like that, too. About bran flakes and Pepto Bismol and life insurance. I laughed about 401k’s, about college savings plans for kids, about watching my cholesterol, my sugar intake, my salt intake, my trans fat intake. I laughed about it all, but that was when I was in my twenties, and then when I was in my thirties, reality hit. Like a big old brick. My boobs started to sag, and my ass started what I have since come to affectionately call its Great Westward Expansion.  Hanes Her Way panties — the full brief shit, not these “boy briefs” or bikini cuts — were my underpants of choice instead of Victoria’s Secret butt-floss varieties. I started drinking coffee. And eating bran. Watching my fiber. Worrying about my blood pressure. Was that a grey hair? Why the fuck is a hair growing out of THERE all of a sudden? 

Now that I’m in my forties, it’s pretty much the same. I don’t find Harry Stiles hot because he looks like a kid to me. Jeremy Renner, however, I’d throw down and molest in a hot minute. I don’t want to watch the “Twilight” kids and their messed up excuse for romance on the big screen, and I remember when they made “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the movie, the first time around — and got the BDSM right — in “Secretary” with James Spader and Maggie Gylenhall.

I go to the grocery without make up on; my legs are pale; I have crow’s feet and an extra chin; plus cellulite, stretch marks, wrinkles, spider veins and and if it’s more comfortable to wear socks with my sandals, then by Christ, that’s what I’m doing, because you know what? I don’t give a fuck what you think about me. Chances are, if you’re under age 25, I think you look pretty fucking ridiculous, too. 

I may not be turning into Walter Matthau, a “grumpy old man” as I age, but you kids sure as hell better stay off my lawn anyway. 

Singing fool

I never used to sing before I had kids. Oh, sure, I was in the chorus for our high school production of “Bye-Bye Birdie” and I belted out a horrendous rendition of Tiffany’s “Could’ve Been” on an audition for the “Rocky Horror Show” once (I didn’t get the part). But otherwise, with the exceptions of my shower and my car — and only then with the radio blasting and my tape of Stevie Nicks wailing “Edge of Seventeen” on full volume — I did not sing.

But once my son was born, and then a few years later, my daughter, I became a singing fool. You see, you give up a lot by way of personal dignity when you have kids. But when you have kids, it doesn’t matter, because for awhile at least, in their impressionable, adulating eyes, you can do no wrong. You are perfect to them. And their smiles, their laughter, are golden to you. You’ll do anything to earn them. I know I sure will. And so I started singing.

And while I started off with the usual nursery rhyme fare, in the last decade or do since my son’s birth, I’ve also become quite the impromptu songwriter, making up lyrics and accompanying tunes about just about everything from tickling armpits to picking noses; from the mundane, like bath time or supper time, to the more odd, like songs about farting. Today I made up a sort of Gregorian-sequence chant about how my son could roll down his car window, hang his wiener out and pee. (Not really of course – it was a song. Creative licensure and all.)

My kids laugh at my goofy little songs. Sometimes, like today with the wiener-out-the-window song, they’ll sing along. Other times they’ll ask for repeat performances of specific tunes, such as my daughter’s favorite, “Anytime’s A Good Time for Girl Time.” Sometimes they roll their eyes when I sing, but those occasions are still pretty few and far between, at least for now. And I still get their laughter and smiles for my rewards.

I owe more to my kids than I ever would’ve imagined possible before having them. The gift of song is just one of many.

Team Rocket!

I give it 5/5 : So today we went and saw the highly anticipated (for me, anyway) new Marvel flick, “Guardians of the Galaxy.” I’d never read the comic and was completely unfamiliar with it; thus I really had no interest in, or expectations of this movie prior to having seen the trailer several months ago, and then I have to admit, I was hooked…(“hooked on a feelin’…high on believin’…” as the soundtrack goes). It’s fantastic, a sumptuous visual feast of special effects, CGI animation, and costuming. It’s got a great script with a lot of nods to the 1980s, when I was growing up, and some thrilling action sequences interspersed with wacky humor. It’s adventurous, fun, and funny, with a talented cast who turn in some top notch performances.

I’d really expected to like Peter “Star Lord” Quill (Chris Pratt) more, based solely on the trailer. He steals the show in that trailer, even though it’s also the audience’s first glimpse at the film’s most novel characters of Rocket the Raccoon and Groot, his tree-like sidekick. Quill is charming and witty in the trailer, and I have to admit, I was sort of disappointed that this level of charisma and appeal didn’t carry well through the movie. He’s likable, yes, and heroic for sure, (and Pratt is delightful in the role) but the character doesn’t seem to go through the kind of hero’s journey, the sort of well-developed or defined character arc that seems called for. True, Quill does shift throughout the movie from being a smarmy, self-centered kind of guy to one who is suddenly intent on saving the world, but there’s really not an epiphany moment that lets us know why he wants to make this kind of change in his life. His attraction to Gamora doesn’t seem like sufficient enough cause, at least not in the way their relationship was presented in the final cut. His final sacrifice in the end was powerful, but would have held even more weight with the audience, I think, if we’d believed this was truly a tremendous act for him, a complete change in his normal course of behavior. 

That being said, Rocket and Groot made this movie for me — and I think it’s because walking into the theater, I had no expectations of them whatsoever. I was expecting Star Lord to be the character I’d find the most appealing, the one who undergoes the big catharsis and discovers his inner hidden hero. Imagine my surprise, then, Rocket is instead the character who has these revelations, and for whom the heroism is a real stretch, a real sacrifice — and the best of the bunch. My husband commented that Rocket and Groot were the “Han Solo and Chewbacca of the movie,” and that’s true in a lot of ways. Groot defers to Rocket, defends and protects Rocket, and Rocket is the only one who understands the subtle nuances behind Groot’s solitary line of dialogue, spoken in any number of circumstances and with any number of possible interpretations: “I am Groot.” Rocket is brusque and short with Groot, as Solo often was with Chewie, but there’s definitely love between them.

I have to admit, Bradley Cooper did a great job as Rocket, giving the raccoon not only a hot temper, but a lot of emotional and psychological depth. Yes, the CGI animation on Rocket captures facial expressions with astonishing precision, but without Cooper’s voice to match the dialogue so perfectly to those expressions, the character would have seemed flat and cartoonish. Instead, Rocket comes across as one of the most well-developed of all the movie’s characters — and the one who undergoes the greatest transformation for the better.

Vin Diesel does the voice work for Groot, and if I’m not mistaken, did the motion-capture work for the CGI character, as well. I expected Groot to be the bit player in this cast, but instead, like Rocket, he shows an amazing range of depth and emotions. He cares about his friends and defends them with ferocity. At the same time, he can be surprisingly gentle and self-sacrificing. His scenes of genuine caring are the ones that stand out the most in my head, even above and beyond the action sequences. Groot’s facial expressions were phenomenally created; his large, glossy, expressive eyes were absolutely lifelike. 

Together, Rocket and Groot stole the show for me, with Dave Bautista as the eloquent, yet vindictive Drax the Destroyer, coming in a strong third. Surprisingly, these were the three characters I expected to like the least, or at least care the least about. They turned out to be my favorites in a film with plenty to choose from.

Hot rods!

Visited the National Street Rod Association’s annual show at the Louisville fairgrounds today with my mom and stepfather. Enjoyed the revving of engines, the sparkle of chrome, and the sight of hundreds of old people on scooters — I’ve never seen so many in my life in one place!

We had a great time. The weather wasn’t too hot and we left before anyone got too tired and grumpy. You can’t ask for better family time than that.

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This green car, above, was my son’s favorite, hands-down. And, as he repeatedly pointed out, “It’s for sale!” 

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This amazing Cadillac from the early 1960s still had pristine factory paint, and only 19,000 original miles on it. I don’t know whose garage it’s been hiding in for the past 50+ years, but it was immaculate — hands-down my favorite of the day.

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My daughter favored orange cars. (It’s her favorite color!)

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Heh heh – a winged pig hood ornament. Probably not original to the car, but still pretty funny.20140802-141337-51217040.jpg

 

Saw this sign in one of the hot rod windows and had a good laugh.

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This hood ornament, which appears to be either a dragon or a winged seahorse, was on an old Ford delivery truck pictured in full above it. I have a thing for groovy hood ornaments, and this one definitely qualifies. Below, my husband and stepdad check out the same old truck.

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My mom and kids. Usually the hot rod show is a boys-only event for my stepdad, husband and son, but this year, we girls decided to get in on the fun.

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I thought this car looked like it was smiling.

20140802-141549-51349680.jpgA row of blue-and-white, circa-1950s Chevy Bel Airs: one of my favorite color schemes on one of my favorites kinds of vintage cars.