Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Book Review: Her Last Night of Innocence

One of the latest out of Mills & Boon, fairly certain to be published over here as a Harlequin at some point in time:

World-famous racing driver Cristiano Maresca always spent the night before a race in the arms of a beautiful woman… Three years ago that woman was Kate Edwards, and her time with Cristiano awakened her to unimaginable pleasure. But the following day the untameable Cristiano had a near-fatal crash…and then Kate discovered she was expecting his baby… Now Monte Carlo is set to celebrate Cristiano’s return to the track. Shivering with nerves, Kate braves the paparazzi to find the man who set her body aflame – and tell him her scandalous secret… That Italy’s most notorious playboy has a surprise love-child!

Firstly, I tend to like the UK covers better but this cover made me rofl. Seriously, dude looks like a Head Boy from Harry Potter. Of course, most of the people on the covers of these things don't work for me anyway but I liked this cover better when they cut off part of his face as seen on the M&B website.

"Her Last Night of Innocence" is another foray by India Grey, a relatively new author first published by M&B in 2006 with "The Italian's Defiant Mistress". The only book of her's I've read besides the one in this review is "Powerful Italian, Penniless Housekeeper", which if I recall correctly didn't wow me but certainly left me open to try her other stories.

I have to say I really, really liked the prologue, which must be a 5-acorn beginning fer sure. We meet the hero—Italian race car pimp Cristiano Maresca—and the heroine—British bottled-water marketing assistant (I guess) Kate Edwards—and immediately jump into the action, which literally ends in flames and derails Cristiano's career.

Four years later, we discover Cristiano baked his ciabatta loaf in Kate's oven, resulting in a son named Alexander. Kate was never able to see Cristiano since the fateful day of his crash and has the chance to confront him now that he's re-entering the racing game. I liked how both of the main characters have a heavy personal demon to fight. Kate lost family due to reckless driving, which creates a conflict when it comes to her feelings for Cristiano. Meanwhile, Cristiano has esteem issues from a learning disability and on top of that is struggling to race again. He lost a small chunk of his memory from before the crash and it's screwing with his ability to race. Additionally, that particular chunk of memory was super-important and without it he remembers virtually nothing of Kate or their magical evening.

Side characters like Kate's boss Dominic and Cristiano's lady-doc Fournier do their part to move the story along without feeling forced upon us. The moment when Kate becomes sick at a particular "art display" is strong and when Cristiano kisses Kate and she believes he remembers her was one of the top genuinely heart-breaking moments I've read in one of these books. Kate's urgency to return home when Alexander gets sick was also well written. All that said, this book isn't without its flaws.

It was maddening that during Kate's subsequent stay with Cristiano, telling him he had a son took priority under getting herself some hot Nascar lovin'. It was only through a misplaced letter—which you know is getting misplaced the minute the idea of writing down a secret is mentioned—that Cristiano follows Kate and meets his son. From then on, it gets a little... well... boring actually. I found myself struggling to read through the rest of this about as much as Cristiano would.

Cristiano's vampish assistant Suki was also underused. I really wanted the claws to come out with her and she was kinda "meh" throughout the whole thing that I saw no point in including her in the first place. I saw the stepping stones for some high drama in her character as Suki was at least somewhat infatuated with Cristiano but that never came to fruition other than she MAY have told a little lie. It would've rocked if she had somehow gotten that letter first but alas, she doesn't do much but snark here and there and help move Cristiano's career forward.

More drama also should've come into play with Cristiano trying to win Kate's love. As I've seen in a lot of these books, the heroine becomes a bit of a jaded pill (and rightly so) but the hero's all "I'm here now, deal". I wanted him to be more dashing and romantic! He has his jerk-modes at times and it makes him difficult to love. There was also a tidy helping of father-son mush between Cristiano and Alexander that will make fans of that sort of thing go "AWWWWW" but made me kinda stick in my finger in my mouth. I don't read these books to read about keedz.

For those that may be wary of the whole race car romance thing, the racing and the cars of said racing really take a backseat to the story so there's nothing to worry about on that front.

In any case, I felt this book was among the more decent ones I've read. Despite that it lost me in the last few chapters, there are parts of it that are pure gold. While it doesn't make my keeper list, I'm giving it a solid 4/5 acorns and will definetely check out more by India Grey.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Mean Bloggers" Make Steve Harvey Cry

Warning, this is over 8 minutes long and watching the whole thing may be painful. Not in the "poor Steve Harvey" way or "Oh, jeez, grown man blubbering on TV. AWKWARD" way, but in the "why the hell am I watching this? Oh God, is this my life? I should go bang my head in the wall" way:


Firstly, I haven't heard of Steve Harvey since commercials for episodes of the Steve Harvey show back in 2002 or whatever. So I see this video and he's all "boo hoo, mean bloggers". Apparently he was being called out for being a bigot, among other things, and the internet is flooded with smack on the guy. Why?

Well, apparently not believing in God means a person has no moral compass. Note Tyra's uncomfortable rendition of the "polite titter":

[VIDEO ORIGINALLY HERE WAS TAKEN DOWN, BOO HOO.]

He also called atheists "idiots" on Larry King. Ironically, the transcript on that page has Joy Behar telling Steverino: "'Cause it’s a free country, thank goodness." Then Stevie wants to cry later about "mean bloggers"? I didn't see him considering any atheists' feelings. Don't dish it if you can't take it.

He has also profited from the above through a best-selling book, a paper brick with large font and a larger name full of gems like this one:
M]y girls and my concern for the future inspire me [to write this book] as well. They will all grow up and reach for the same dream most women do: The husband. Some kids. A house. A happy life. True love.
He forgot baking cookies, sewing ripped crotches on pants, and giving head dressed as June Cleaver.

Let me make it clear that I am not an atheist and don't really care what them or anyone else gets called by Steve Harvey, a person of modest celebrity that has never had a place of relevancy in my life. But sheesh, Steve, if you're gonna go calling a whole group of people idiots and dogging on their beliefs, don't be so damn surprised to find them biting back at you. What's more, who says you even have to read it? Doesn't your religion teach "turning the other cheek" or somethin'?

I will close with a quote from our pal Steve Harvey. Remember children, haters gonna hate, players gonna play, bloggers gonna blog:
You know, the Internet has become this place for evil to dwell. Y’unnerstand? They… people who blog… who have no sense of reality… they just blog about you–don’t even know you! I got kids, man, be reading stuff that ain’t true ’bout their father. You understand? I know you know. Because they–they–they–people just blog!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Frisco bans the Happy Meal; Fat-asses Rage

In case you haven't heard about this already, straight from the horse's mouth... the horse in this instance being a reliable old nag known as the Associated Press:


Or for the simpler, readable version, here's a quote from Top News Buzz:
San Francisco recently passed a law which states that breaks down the concept of giving away free toys accompanies with unhealthy restaurant meals for children. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed the law last Tuesday and had an 8-3 vote. This law would take effect on December 1, 2010.
The crazy thing is that people are actually all, "Boo, our personal freedoms! Y!" HUH? Child obesity in this country is nuts, everybody knows that. Why should a business be allowed to profit from this?

From Happy Meal insanity:
"When George Orwell wrote about government control in his novel 1984, McDonald's hadn't even invented the Happy Meal yet."
I KNEW blankety-blank Orwell would come up somewhere. This is because Orwell supported the U.S. becoming OBSCENELY FAT. Four legs good, two legs baaaad!

In How Banning Happy Meals Could Make Kids Fatter, the guy's reasoning is that kids will get their fattening meal plus toy elsewhere. Um no, it's not just the Happy Meal, it's all kids' meals. Nice try. Unless little Katelyn wants to ride her Schwinn to Oakland.

From Fast Food, Happy Meals, and Legislating Personal Responsibility:
It should be your right to make bad choices for your child; send them into a lifetime of bad habits; foster your child’s life of gross obesity; and set the stage for your child’s early death.
Look, I am not a parent, I speak out as someone that was often tossed a Happy Meal when I was a child. My parents' idea of fostering healthy living was buying skim milk to go with my giant slice of chocolate cake and half-dozen Oreos. I rather wish that, when I was a child, SOMEBODY had made the available food choices healthier.

As a person who developed weight problems as a child and then had it balloon to 210 lbs. in early adulthood, no, I do not think it's okay to preserve a parent's right to completely ruin their child's health. As a little girl, I was never educated by anyone on what to eat or how much. According to public opinion, this is clearly because I didn't have any "personal responsibility". Sure, I was only nine years old when I started packing on weight, but I should've had personal responsibility and demanded broccoli! Since you can't see me, I'M ROLLING MY EYES.

I mean, shit, did you really expect my parents to do it for me? My dad's idea of a "snack" is pieces of breaded, fried catfish in between two slices of white bread. My mom's idea of desert is half a cake, a pack of M&M's, and an ice cream cone. (But only one because she already had cake.) Hyuck! "But it's the right of people like that to fuck up your health!" You know what? FUCK YOU.

Saying crap like "America, learn responsibility!" makes the assumption that everyone has the tools, knowledge, and ability to make healthy eating choices. Of course, upper middle-class and rich people are especially stupid in this regard since the bulk of them are ridiculously blind of their own socioeconomic advantages. This is a country where you can't even give away rye and pumpernickel to poor people! How much control do you think a kid has in a household with other obese people? Adults who refuse to change? No money, no support of any kind in the home, so what chance do these children have? Can we at least start with the damn kids' meals?

The notion that this is ruling somehow Orwellian in nature is utterly ridiculous. Nobody's made it illegal to buy junior a Big Mac with fries and a large Coke. Nobody's made it illegal for McDonald's the repackage the current Happy Meal as a Mini-Combo and sell the toy seperately. You can buy the toy on its own already. The nature of the Happy Meal is in that it's aimed at children. By packaging the toy, it is specifically branded to children. Why was it okay for them to nix Joe Camel (which I don't agree with at all, but whatever) but Ronald and the ol' Golden Arches can throw a bunch of breaded salt into a fryer and market that shit directly to children? The least that can be done is to make the actual meal healthier. Why should stuff marketed to children be allowed to contribute to serious health issues later on in life?

Why I don't like it when you drink...


If anything has added to my "lame" status over the years aside from my lazy excuse for fashion sense and generally quiet, anti-social nature, it's been when people realize that I'm pretty much a teetotaler. I swear, it's like you grow an extra head when you tell people you don't consume alcohol. You're a leper and no one wants to touch you. You can't "loosen up". I've been shown pictures of people boozing away and been "regaled" with stories of them vomiting and driving drunk and I'm supposed to clap and award these losers medals.

You see, I'm clearly not "living life" or so I'm told. I find this ironic considering the people who tell me that have been proven to drink to ridiculous excesses, presumably to escape the very life they so claim to luuuuuuuuuve livin'. If you need liquor to get over your inhibitions that damn badly, I hate to break it to youokay, actually, I'd luuuuuuve tobut you haven't made any progress. You're like an old man and his viagra: needing a dose of something-something to get the job the done but still pathetically and woefully impotent.

Anyway, I digress. The fact is I just don't like it.

1. It tastes like crap. I like to call liquor "Bath & Body Works" because it tastes like some body spray I accidentally tasted. (HA HA ho, no.) I like to taste alcholic drinks out of pure curiousity and frankly I haven't found anything I'd consume on its own without using it in food or something. You may as well tell me you eat paprika by itself.

2. It ruined my birthday party. I was a little kid and a bunch of my relatives came over and got drunk. At a CHILD's party? I mean, I'd go to school and learn the dangers of alcohol and how it's killed people and then I get to celebrate my eighth or ninth or whatever birthday with a bunch of booze-hounds. That put a worse taste in my mouth than actually tasting the stuff as an adult. Beer and cigarettes do not belong at a child's birthday party and any time I see them there, I die a bit inside. And I thought getting packs of notebook paper one year for a birthday present made me a bitter pill.

3. No respect for moderation. "WHY CANT I HAS A GLASS OF WINE?" First of all, no one's talking about a glass of wine, stupid. This is clearly about people who just chug it away like it's water that's gonna win them a Wii, conveniently forgetting that woman died. Anyway, do you think me or anyone else for that matter gives a rat's ass about someone who only has a beer or two or sips a glass of wine with their dinner? Don't be retarded.

4. It's a ridiculous status symbol. Like a douchetastic pair of over-priced sunglasses or a groovy national landmark, people can't resist posing with it in pictures with a smug sense of pride. And then they actually publish these online! Do you see me smugly posing with a gallon of milk or a quart of juice, dumbass? You DO realize it makes you look STUPID, right? And unless you're an avid wine connoisseur or the owner of Budweiser or something, you don't need to pose with any alcohol.

5. It makes you indignant of the law. My favorite one? When people are all bitching about going to jail or paying fines on multiple DWI offenses. "Damn the law! Trying to save innocent drivers by punishing me! It'soooooo unfair!" BAAAAAAAAAAAAAW.

6. It ruins sober people. I've met a lot of funny, smart folks at work and school. Or at least I thought they were. Get these folks liquored up and watch out, bro! "OHHHHH, but I'm just livvvvvin' life." Sad, because I liked you before you turned into a babbling, potato chip-spewing drunken asshat with no self-respect. Lots of awesome actors, singers, and talented people wasted by this crap. Come on, you know it. Rehab this and rehab that.

7. Point, stupid counterpoint. "But they do it in EURRRROPE!!" Then solve both our problems and MOVE TO EUROPE. "I can DIE for my country but I can'ts drink!" The fact that you compare the lost lives of our military men and women in service to our country to your legal inability to get hammered shows why you have not been deemed mature enough to drink. "Why can't I HAS A GLASS WINE?" Because in loads of lovely, retarded internet arguments, it always comes down to a damn glass of wine. Hey, I think we all know it's not about "a glass of wine" so shut-up.

8. It smells... like broken promises and dreams of Christmas past.

9. I do not feel safe on the roads on weekend nights. I really don't do it and it makes me a bit apprehensive when I am out there. "Fifty-four percent of all teen motor vehicle deaths occur on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Thirty-five percent occur between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m." And those are just teens! Boo! I don't wanna die, homes.

10. My uncle almost hit me in the head with a plate. Drunk people + repressed problems is the recipe for a made-for-tv movie on Lifetime. Tons of people with crappy lives tend to turn towards firewater, denying the fact that once they leave Beer-Narnia or wherever they go, their problems will still be waiting for them. Hey, I haven't seen anybody's life improved by the stuff either.

11. People destroy themselves and then want free organs. Truth, I tell you, truth! These people whine and whine about dying and needing a kidney or a liver after forty years of hard drinking and get all bitchy when you won't let them farm you for parts. Then they get their whatever and don't curb their bad habits. Aren't there better people these organs can go to? If you want to destroy your liver, fine, but don't make it everyone else's problem. Don't make people pony up for your medical care when you didn't give a damn about your body in the first place. Speaking of which...

12. It wastes money. (1) How much more government bread are they gonna spend on "prosecuting" spoiled rich jerks when John Law doesn't even mete out any real punishments? Let's just leave Lindsay and Paris alone. Then, when they hurt someone or destroy property, sue their asses for a megaton of cash. Rehab is a joke. Jailtime is a joke. Ankle bracelets are a joke. Stop wasting tax payer dough unless you're serious. (2) If you're so damn poor, stop buying beer and pay your rent! If I bought $50 worth of gum each week for myself, you'd think I'd have a serious problem, right? $50 worth of beer isn't any better.

13. Ridiculous level of public acceptability. In an era of "Jackass" and other MTV garbage, it's no small wonder why these antics are lauded. There is no sense of shame anymore. In fact, it's a worse crime to be a virgin or live at home than it is to have a drinking problem. This is because people who drink, like shoplifters and constantly pregnant welfare moms, are just "livin' life".

Hey, if all that crap ^ is "living life", no thank you! :)

EDIT: Forgot one! #14. Free license to act like a jerk and talk trash. But you didn't mean it because YOU WERE DRINKING. Hey, you chose to drink sober and you probably really think those things anyway, so you meant it by proxy. Prefacing insults with "He's a really nice guy but" don't help either. Especially when you then crack a joke at his expense and expect the whole table to laugh. Boo.

Yeah, I know, I'm a jerk, too. Hey, at least I own up to my shit and don't hide behind a bottle.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Music Review: Florrie - "Introduction"


Florrie's first EP is already available for download at her website: http://www.florrie.com/. If you would like to support Florrie's endeavor to bring us bitchin' music, you can pre-order the EP from iTunes... or just wait until Amazon gets it because iTunes is a piece of crap.* You can also buy other fly Florrie merch in her online store. She has a neat t-shirt of the album art on her website that I'm this close to buying because I'd totally love to wear her face. So, onto the EP... Tracks are:

1. Call of the Wild
2. Give Me Love
3. Summer Nights
4. Left Too Late

Choosing a favorite would be like choosing a favorite child although I am childless but in theory it'd be, like, totally hard to. But yeeeeeah, ahem, I love "Summer Nights"! For some reason, I imagine myself on a yellow moped in Italy riding on a stretch of road overlooking the beach. But not near any volcanos like Vesuvius or some shit because I don't want to die. Want a remix, want want want!

This entire album is poppy yet mellow. It's makes little happy marshmellows grow in my heart.

5/5 acorns.

Oh yes, and the offficial vid for "Give Me Love":


* I searched on Amazon BTW and it's there with Florrie's "Call 911" remixes for Kitsuné, it's just not available until November 15th.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Why Capital vs. Thomas is a load of horseshit.

"Lady, look out behind you!"

If you need some reading materials on the subject, you can go to either Single mom can't pay $1.5M song-sharing fine or The RIAA's latest victory over Jammie Thomas-Rasset. Here's an older article about the matter: Thomas testimony ends with tears, anger, Swedish death metal.

The gist is that a Minnesota woman named Jammie Thomas-Rasset was using a file-sharing application, Kazaa, to download music. The nature of peer to peer file sharing means that while you download something, you are helping others download the same file through whatever pieces of the file you possess while downloading. Thus, whether you mean to or not, you are also sharing music. She apparently did this with over a thousand songs. After not paying the amount demanded by a desist letter, also known as toilet paper, the case went to trial. Over the years, she had been found liable for various amounts, with the latest amount being $1.5M. Despite the emphasis that Thomas-Rasset is a repeat offender, this lawsuit, formerly Virgin vs. Thomas, is not for damages from thousands of songs. It is only for 24 songs:

* Guns N Roses "Welcome to the Jungle"; "November Rain"
* Vanessa Williams "Save the Best for Last"
* Janet Jackson "Let’s Wait Awhile"
* Gloria Estefan "Here We Are"; "Coming Out of the Heart"; "Rhythm is Gonna Get You"
* Goo Goo Dolls "Iris"
* Journey "Faithfully"; "Don’t Stop Believing"
* Sara McLachlan "Possession"; "Building a Mystery"
* Aerosmith "Cryin’"
* Linkin Park "One Step Closer"
* Def Leppard "Pour Some Sugar on Me"
* Reba McEntire "One Honest Heart"
* Bryan Adams "Somebody"
* No Doubt "Bathwater"; "Hella Good"; "Different People"
* Sheryl Crow "Run Baby Run"
* Richard Marx "Now and Forever"
* Destiny’s Child "Bills, Bills, Bills"
* Green Day "Basket Case"

Am I the only one who finds the fact that a song called "One Honest Heart" is up there funny? Anyway, with the latest settlement, that is a staggering $62,500 A SONG. Even half of that, $31,250, is grossly unreasonable.

Let's take an example: "Bathwater" by No Doubt sells for 99 cents on Amazon. (I won't even see if it's the same price at iTunes because iTunes is a piece of crap.) Rounding down, that is 31,565 people that Thomas-Rasset would have had to share "Bathwater" with to even make the latest settlement halfway logical. This still makes some big assumptions though.

1. Would all 31,565+ people including Thomas-Rasset have ever bought "Bathwater" in the first place? I guarantee you that if all of those people were ordered by the court that they would have to pay for the song or get rid of it, over half of them would hit the delete key. Not everything that is pirated is something that ever would have been purchased to begin with! Hey, I like the song, don't get me wrong. But the RIAA, Capitol, and all of those other monkeys need to accept the fact that shitloads of people would rather not have a lot of music than pay for it. Therefore, what money did Capitol lose from the people who NEVER would have bought it? And why should Thomas-Rasset be liable for it?

2. How do you prove that she even shared it with 31,565+ people? Now I'm no lawyer, but shouldn't there be a burden of proof here? Can they just pick a number out of their ass? I mean, they were willing to settle for $5000 dollars back in August of 2005. Why isn't the figure Thomas-Rasset is supposed to pay not $5000 plus court costs or something. In what universe is it okay for that to balloon to $1.5M? Shoot, I watched Judge Pirro today and some woman was suing her ex for a car that she had been in the process of selling to him. Her original price was $800. He paid $300, but not the rest. And this lady wanted more than $500! Judge Pirro called that shit out and I'm calling out this. RIDICULOUS, friend. No effin' way.

3. How do you know 31,565+ people didn't already own "Bathwater"? How many of these people already had "Return to Saturn", "The Singles Collection", or the "Bathwater" single and for whatever reason just wanted a digital download from somewhere. By saying Thomas-Rasset is liable for "Bathwater" being shared without compensation, the courts are also saying these people should have bought a digital copy from Amazon or Asstunes of SOMETHING THEY ALREADY OWNED. I mean, we're still allowed to rip our CDs for our own personal use, aren't we? If my copy of "The Singles Collection" is at home and I'm a friend's house and want to sync "Bathwater" to my MP3 player, why the hell should I have to pay AGAIN? What's wrong with just snagging it online? Not to mention the folks that liked "Bathwater" so much they went and bought a CD or digital download. Where are they in this equation? Yes, they initially took it for free but is a subsequent purchase 100% meaningless? Furthermore, if my computer, MP3 player, or copy of the CD is stolen, shouldn't I be able to replace a song I've already bought?

Now this case is too complicated to make proper points on every little issue. Although Thomas-Rasset has been accused of playing the "single mom can't feed mah keedz" card, I have no idea what bankrupting this woman is supposed to prove besides that Capitol and the RIAA are insanely greedy and effin' nutso. She stole music, she got caught. And people are like, "well, if she shoplifted a purse, blah blah blah". Digital media is not comparable to shoplifting a goddamn purse or a dress. People who want a song but don't want to buy it can rip an MP3 from a friend's CD, get an MP3 from a relative, or rip a CD from the library. You can't borrow a freakin' purse at the library. Purses don't have the ability to multiply beyond the realm of control. Get real, folks.

One of the comments for the MSN article said something like if Thomas-Rasset had shoplifted all of the CDs these songs came from, the penalty would be NO WHERE near $1.5M. And while peer to peer file sharing has the ability to share from millions, the fact is that millions who are stealing songs like "Bathwater" are not ALL using a single source like Thomas-Rasset for all of their music needs. It's like they're trying to make her pay for every single theft of the damn songs.

I do not believe it would be correct to merely find her liable for the initial cost of the songs, around $24. If she perjured or did anything else to affect the outcome of this case, she should be fined. Penalties and violations of the law are due for the thefts; Okay, I get it. But in a lawsuit for 24 songs, over a million bucks in damages is ass no matter how you slice it. There's no way that many people at a time want "Bathwater" or any of those other songs and that they all happened to take it from Kazaa AND from Thomas-Rasset. The MSN article points out that while the legal minimum is $750 per infringement, Thomas-Rasset has been found liable for well over that amount multiple times.
When a reporter pointed out that three juries of her peers had decided that she should pay well above the minimum, she said there's "no rhyme or reason to the numbers" but she respects jurors for doing their jobs.
Frankly, stuff like this leads me to believe that this woman is an idiot and "three juries of her peers" were in fact three juries of other idiots, which makes perfect sense. A jury is not doing its job if it truly believes this result is just. There are killers that aren't found liable for this much in civil damages for taking a life let alone a tubby octomom-wannabe taking some music. Is it really so horrible that she needs Gwen Stefani to sing about washing herself "in your old bathwater" to forget that she's the overweight mother of four kids who works as a natural resources coordinator? And she's Native-American so, like, didn't America already take this woman's land? Can't this shit just cancel each other out?

Then there's this tidbit from Cara Duckworth of the RIAA:

"People forget about all of the individuals who work really hard to make music for a living," she said. "These people are negatively impacted whenever music is stolen and distributed to millions of people."

I have hard goddamn time believing that Thomas-Russet cost No Doubt $187,500 ($62,500 * 3) in damages, let alone that she caused their songs to fall into the hands of millions of people. This isn't the ending to the last Harry Potter book where no one else had something that was distributed to the detriment of the source. "Bathwater" was out for a good five years before Thomas-Rasset decided to help herself to a free copy with many other songs on the list of 24 out for far longer. One of the millions of people who BOUGHT "Bathwater" was how Thomas-Rasset got the song in the first place.

And if Capitol and the RIAA are so concerned about "the individuals" who make the music making a proper living, why don't they give Gwen, Tom, Tony, the rest of No Doubt, their mixers, whoever else worked on and marketed the song some of that cheddar that was instead spent on this stupid lawsuit. If Thomas-Rasset had paid the initial $5000, how much of that would have even made it to Tony Kanal's wallet? Why doesn't Capitol spend money looking for ways to profit off this digital wave they have no hope of stopping instead of trying to get money from people who can't pay? I mean, Thomas-Rasset couldn't buy the music legally so what makes anyone think she can pay for it thousands of times over? This isn't teaching thieves a lesson, this is just being cruel and unfair to one who got caught.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Book Review: Falco: The Dark Guardian

Revered businessman Falco Orsini has left life in the special forces behind—though he uses his powerful skills occasionally, when duty calls. But duty is always on Falco's terms! When his estranged father asks him to protect a young model who is being stalked, he begrudgingly agrees…only because of the vulnerability he can see in her eyes. Elle Bissette won't be a victim—she can take care of herself! And surely big, dark, devilish Falco is dangerous. Because one kiss from a man like him will leave her breathless….

First a little background: this book is the third in a mini-series by author Sandra Marton known as The Orsini Brothers, which centers on the romantic lives of each of four slutty Sicilian brothers:
The patriarch of a powerful Sicilian dynasty, Cesare Orsini, has fallen ill, and he wants atonement before he dies. One by one he sends for his sons—he has a mission for each to help him clear his conscience. His sons are proud and determined, but they will do their duty—the tasks they undertake will change their lives forever! They are… THE ORSINI BROTHERS. Darkly handsome—proud and arrogant. The perfect Sicilian husbands!
Done the wrong way, this is the sort of thing that really makes you put your finger in your mouth and gag. That said, I believe The Orsini Brothers is the first mini-series where I'm actually excited for the next book. The brothers have a flourishing business together and are great friends who all find themselves summoned by daddy. This gives them more than enough excuses to interact with one another and they do so naturally enough that you forget for a while that each one is being systematically hooked up for our reading pleasure.

Late last year, we got the stories of Raffaele and Dante in "Raffaele: Taming His Tempestuous Virgin" and "Dante: Claiming His Secret Love-Child" and this year it will conclude with "Falco: The Dark Guardian" and "Nicolo: The Powerful Sicilian". I admit, I was wary of the Falco book probably because he's the ex-Special Forces guy. That's usually one of my kill-switch phrases along with prince, sheikh, cop, cowboy, and Texan. [Full disclosure: I'm Texan and of the race, class, and political-slant rich, white, cowboy ranchers thumb their noses at. So, no, I can't say the Rich Texan particularly turns me on.]

So anyway, Falco is called in by Dad, a.k.a. Cesare Orsini. Cesare was into crime or something like that so Falco and his brothers aren't too "wild about Mary" if you get my drift. Cesare charges Falco with protecting Hollywood actress Elle Bissette from some nutjob sending her frightening mail and such. I really would've preferred if Falco hadn't kissed Elle so early on. Elle's this friendless actress with a horrible past who fears for her life and this dude appears in her trailer out of the blue, gets up in her grill, and plants one on her. It would take quite a while for me to wash out the idea that he's a sicko, attempts at helping me or otherwise. That just should not have happened, I don't care how sexy he's supposed to be. The scene where Elle later fantasizes that she's kissing Falco could've been that much hotter and instead I'm wondering about this poor woman's victim complex.

Then there's the part where they end up sleeping in the same bed. And Falco's all derrrr...
"Well, it never occurred to me to ask the character in the front office what the sleeping arrangements were."
I have problems when a guy portrayed as capable and traveled as Falco forgets something basic like that. It comes out contrived and tension is lost. Picture this: Falco gets a double room or something and spends a rough night thinking about Elle because she's so gosh-darn purty or whatever. Then Elle has a nightmare and Falco decides to hold her. The last part is what basically happened anyway and it could've been done without Falco looking like a creep who planned this. Or even the age old "this was the last room available and it only has one bed" or something. That Elle fell fast asleep earlier on and was thus completely powerless in this entire process did not assuage me.

The book then becomes a giant waiting game for when Falco and Elle were gonna do it. This would have been less noticable were it not for the lack of interaction with other characters. Raffaele and Dante dealt with human obstacles to their love-interests while Falco and Elle just have each other and some unknown weirdo lurking off-page somewhere. Thus Falco and Elle are in the trailer, on the road, in the cabin, in the car, in the hotel, in the car, in the cabin, at the airport to Maui... see a theme? Sadly, neither one is enough to make this work for me.

I wanted the stalker to be confronted or Falco's idea of calling in a bodyguard buddy to materialize earlier on so they could be given somebody else to deal with. I wanted one of Falco's brothers to reappear somehow. There are other characters—Elle's director Farinelli and co-star Chad and Falco's pals Rick and Jack—but they all end up as props to move the whole thing along. While I didn't want anyone to come in and hijack the story, another person was needed to actually make Falco and Elle bond and provide some outsider perspective. (No, not just Falco flirting with the airport counter girl.) Elle should have confronted Farinelli with Falco in tow as to why she had a bodyguard she never asked for. Farinelli's part in the story emphasizes the tell and lack of show because he does quite a lot but we see almost none of it here. Or Elle should've been present when Falco deals with the dude victimizing her so Falco could be inspired by her fear or pain. Which brings me to that.

Ultimately, Elle confesses to Falco that she was molested by her step-father, crazy-ass pedo-preacher Willy Joe who just got outta prison. YUCK. So Falco leaks their location to lure Willy in. This gets Elle so hot she and Falco do it again. YUCK. Then Falco confronts Willy Joe and kills him in combat. Now this is a guy who was able to get mail to Elle and track down her phone number. He broke into her secluded cabin that no one in the world even knows about—not even the paparazzi—and meticulously entered so no one would realize he had broken in. Then he took out light bulbs in order to force Elle to switch on the right light to discover a toy cat hung on her wall. So you'd think he'd have to be a clever guy, right? Instead we get a "six feet six inches of lard laid over prison-honed muscle" [I had to read that twice, too] fat-ass who Hulk-smashes his way into an atrium at three in the morning brandishing a knife. HE COULD BUY A TICKET TO MAUI BUT NOT A GUN. APPARENTLY HE COULD ONLY CHOOSE ONE.
Willy Joe spat on the terrazzo floor. “She lured me to her. Seduced me. She’s a whore, just like her mama.” He curved his body forward, spread his feet apart. It was the stance of a man who knew how to use the silvery blade he held. “Now she’s your whore, Orsini. But not for long. I’m going to kill you and then I’ll kill her.” He smiled, the smile of a maniac. “Get ready to meet your maker.”
Corny dialogue aside and maybe I just missed this but how the hell did he know Falco's name? I know Falco had his and Elle's location leaked, but Falco also assumed Willy Joe had more than a bowl of cornflakes above his eyeballs. WHY would he chance Willy Joe making the connection that Falco had been in the service OR was a rich connected guy OR had possible underworld connections given his last name? Any one of these things is a big problemo for a sick-ass stalker as well as for the man trying to catch him.
Suddenly, the knife was driving down toward Falco’s throat. “Whore-master,” Willy Joe shouted--
Whore-master? Is this a British insult? Did anyone else think of Beastmaster? Maybe it was just me. I guess it's still better than I what I would've written:
Suddenly, the knife was driving down toward Falco’s throat. “Bitch, you be pimping!” Willy Joe shouted--
So Falco tosses his gun aside and shanks WJ with his own knife. Counting uses of "the" and "and", there are about 340 words between Willy Joe's first entrance and when he dies. FTW? It reminds me of when I would stay up late to see "Tales From The Darkside" and it was rerun. I am disappoint. Most importantly, is that supposed to be hot? This is why I don't like Special Forces, cops, or any of the type in romances. They's always gots ta kill someone, Special Forcing and whatnot. Of course, getting a book without one's no guarantee either. I remember reading this one Harlequin where the hero had the heroine's evil father beaten to death. BEATEN. TO. DEATH. I don't care if the guy was evil and had it coming: Violent death != Romantic. Child rape != Romantic. I'm sure it's floating somebody's boat, but mine just sank on top of a family of unsuspecting sea sponges. And what's more, Falco killing Willy Joe's supposed to be comparable to a knight slaying a dragon. You know this because it's hammered in over and over again. I get the knight-fantasy, I really do, EXCEPT THE DRAGON NEVER RAPED CHILDREN. Just putting that out there.

For my final gripe: The brothers did not need to be in Falco's office when Elle arrived for a reunion. Everybody's there for Falco and Elle's wedding in the sappy epilogue and it would have been more appropriate to have them interact with her there or even in the beginning of Nick's book. Here it felt like a big ol' setup for all of them to meet, which was a bit disappointing. At least Falco seemed to think so too and booted them out.

This book gets 3 acorns. I like the series and wanted to enjoy this one more, but Falco has to be the least likable Orsini (although there aren't too many differences among the four of them to begin with). Elle was a difficult character to sell as well and a hero with a bigger heart and a cooler head would have been a better complement to her. Somebody with her past needed a man to help her heal and I couldn't buy that this would be Falco. Furthermore, interactions with other characters probably would've given these two a chance to shine as duo. It was hard watching them bouncing off of each other so much.

BTW, my recommendation, if you haven't done so already, is to start at the beginning with Raffaele's book and decide whether or not you want to continue reading the series from there.

Friday, October 22, 2010

WHAT IS THIS BLOG? - For you n00bs.

[Updated 10/28/16]

I appear to actually be getting a tiny bit of traffic. If you have arrived here a confused, lost soul—or, well, whatever—let me clue you in. This blog has no fuckin' point.  It's just like any other blog on the internet. No more, no less. Who am I? Meh, doesn't matter. Now, if you like what you see here, that's fine. If you don't, that's fine, too, but you know what?  Leave.  You're totally allowed to, like, go and find like-minded peons who enjoy exactly what you enjoy.

For whatever reason, some folks actually stop and comment on shit all "I disagree with you.  I loved 'Tangled' and I loved the stupid, fuckin' dog-horse." or "'Scott Pilgrim' was a masterpiece.  Derrrrrr."  I don't freakin' get it.  If you love that shit, go make your own stupid blog about how much you love it. What do you think you're doing here: changing minds and changing hearts?  No, you aren't, dumbass. Guess what?  Five or so years later, I still fuckin' hate Tangled and the Scott Pilgrim movie. I will never, ever like either one. Even on my death bed—most likely ravaged by cancer because that shit runs in my family—my loved ones will ask for my last words and I'll say "Fuck Tangled.  Fuck the Scott Pilgrim movie.  Fuck Frozen.  Fuck that r@pe-fest Game of Thrones. The fucking end." "So what does that mean?" you ask. "I can't write a dissenting comment, you thin-skinned biatch?" Sure, you can.  You can write "you're an idiot" or "I luvvvvv Tangled" as much as you want.  But, you know, you don't get a prize.  And for all of my ranting, I actually stay on my own corner of the internet.  I will never invade your corner.  I will never go to a Tangled fanpage and be all "this movie suuucccks and here's why." So maybe not waste my time or yours spewing your shit and go find your audience, g'.

Now, yes, I do curse a lot. I find it colorful. I find it honest. I find it refreshing. Most importantly, I find it hilarious. And I enjoy a good rage. I go to too many "sanitized" places where I hold my tongue and obey other people's rules. And I'm usually pretty good at that. I've been banned once in my twelve-odd years on the internet at a CSI forum and, hilariously enough, I was being perfectly nice, on-topic, and not using any f-bombs because I totally loved CSI at the time. I can only assume I was banned because a snail like the one in my avatar killed their daddy and looted their village.

Additionally, I'm not trying to win prizes in English. Nothing here is for professional or academic purposes, so screw that noise. Yeah, I use "wanna" and "sho'nuff" in sentences. I'm cool but crude. That's right, I'm motherfucking Raphael. And that's strange since Donatello was my favorite turtle growing up. Because he did machines, yo.

Most of my posts are reviews though sometimes I'll just rant or make fun of advice columns because I fucking love advice columns. I review whatever I feel like, which has resulted in a strange combination of music, Harlequin romances, and cartoons. I rate on a scale of 0-5 and I use acorns instead of stars. For things I deem perfect, they get to be in The Five Acorn Hall of Fame. What does this mean? Nothing. Though if a squirrel comes to your house bearing a package, just don't be too surprised.

Diplomacy and eloquence are out of the window. If I like things, I curse and squee and throw in a zinger. If I dislike things, I curse and angrily squee and throw several zingers. If I love things, I kinda sit there and babble and then curse and angrily squee that I didn't say something better because, goddammit, I missed my chance. Then I throw myself a few zingers. As you can see there's not too much of a difference. It's pretty exactly what pops in my head so think of this as a blog with Tourette's, dammit DAMMIT!

Also, spoilers ahoy. I love spoilers. Back when "The Sixth Sense" first came out, my momma was all "Hey, y'all, I luvved the Sixth Sense!" and I was all "Oh, no! Don't say anymore! I hasn't seen it!" and she was "Guess wut, there was a surprise!" And thus I figured out Bruce Willis was dead when I never would've seen that coming any other way. I get spoiled that easily. My point? If I didn't want to give spoilers at all, I wouldn't even vaguely discuss whatever it was. There's no way I can write about anything while maintaining the element of surprise, at least where I'M concerned, so I have to go all the way.

WHAT DOES THAT BLOG NAME MEAN?

Meh, I don't remember..

HEY, WHERE DID THAT POST GO?

Yeah, I went ahead and nuked some posts.  Going through the blog again, I felt some posts were badly written and didn't want to bother to re-do them.  I'd like the majority of the blog posts to be reviews or write-throughs of some sort.  And as much as I liked ranting about what shitty movie Scott Pilgrim was, I have standards, too.  I guess.  Pfft.

MY MESSAGE BOARD:

My board, the Sphere, is linked at the top.  There's a guest forum where you ask for an account in the event you actually want one.  I was getting too many Russian spammers, so I closed shit up.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Job Hunting: Let's hate this shit.

So the economy's really balls right now and a shitload of us--myself included--are looking for jobs. It really is an employers' market and I'm getting real bitter with some of this bullshit:

♦ Job fairs. Good lord I hate them! Half of the booths there are always for scam schools, fast food, or the military. Yeah, right. Me and thousands of others went and got bachelors and masters degrees so we could go to Career Point or flip a burger. I went to a job fair and they were all "bring multiple copies of your resume", so I ramped up that shit and printed loads. Nobody would take one. WTF. The job publications in the newspaper are just as shitty.

♦ Ugly inefficient websites. Because everybody wants you to apply online but few of them know how to do it correctly. One company split up all of their jobs into five different groups so I'd have to check five different websites for jobs. Oh, hell! Anybody use that Taleo thing? That thing's crap! No, I do not want to fucking choose my country, city, and state over and over again. More than one employer has listed categories i.e. "Finance", "Human Resources", etc. and all it does is fuck up my search results. If you only have fourteen positions open in the whole damn company, then you don't need twenty-plus categories to sort them!

♦ Horrendously long online applications. I swear, some of this shit takes thirty minutes or more. And sometimes they time out while you're filling them in! So I fill these out and then three weeks later, I get an automatically generated rejection notice or some shit. Thank you for wasting my fucking time. One company did this right: I filled out basic info and sent a resume. They replied they were interested in me and THEN sent me a link for a long-ass form. Weed out people first with a short form or resume before you waste someone's fucking time.

♦ Filling out a paper application when you've already done an online one. WTF? Is it Backwards Day? This has happened so many times and I wonder just what the fucking problem with their printer was. Print that shit. Why the fuck are you making me do this crap OVER AGAIN? I went to this one interview and I had already filled out an online application AND had a phone interview. So at this stage, I figure it's a simple face-to-face because they already have my shit. Well, I get there and then they give me all of these fucking forms on a clipboard and an effin' pen: What is my name? Where do I live? My phone numbers, e-mail, job history, am I a U.S. citizen? What the fuck is this shit? Turns out somebody was supposed to send me a PDF of this stuff. So I could refill it out again? Why don't you just print out what I already filled in? If you have new forms for me, fine, but it makes no fucking sense to have a huge application for me to do online and then make me do it over again! You fail the internet.

♦ Fuck you and your experience. How is anyone supposed to get experience when nobody will hire the non-experienced? Twice I was asked if I knew Quickbooks. I said I'd learn it and they got all doubtful. Oooh, because I bet Quickbooks is so fucking hard. Look, just because some of you suits are shit with programs doesn't mean the rest of us are. The university I went to saw no need for Quickbooks or Peachtree, which I admit is a little dumb of them but it doesn't change that software is software! NOBODY should need several years or even months to learn any software when it comes to basic usability.

♦ Promises to call me later go unfilled. You know what? You DON'T have to promise that. Just tell ME to call you back or something. I'm getting sick of "we'll call you" like we're gonna touch base or I actually have a shot at the job. False hope really burns my grits. They never call. It's almost always no phone call and a rejection e-mail instead. Everytime someone says they'll call me, I feel like going "OHHHHHHHH RLY?" and pulling that owl-face. I get it, you're busy. Then DON'T TELL ME YOU'LL CALL ME.

♦ Taking for fucking ever to decide. I was up for this one assistant position and I REALLY wanted it but I was gonna run out of money in like a month and needed work bad. They kept saying they would decide later in the week or next week and literally kept bouncing it around for a whole damn month. I was forced to withdraw myself from contention and take another job. These assholes knew I needed a job. Don't fuck around with people's livelihoods. Just make a damn decision. How do three people take a whole month to hire one entry-level person? HEY, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.

Monday, October 18, 2010

DVD Essentials: What Should Be There

Open wishlist to DVD companies far and wide:

♦ Barebones DVDs are balls. Hey, if it's the only way the show's available, fine. I'll live with it. But hell, at least have some chapter skips and closed captioning for the hearing impaired.

♦ The more language tracks, the better. Here in North America there should be English, Spanish, and French on as many damn DVDs as possible. Other languages are fun, too. Like Greek and Portuguese. And furthermore, the languages should be consistent on television series. Example: I recently Netflixed "Batman: The Animated Series". Some discs had English, Spanish, and French. Some didn't have Spanish. Season One of Justice League Unlimited had a Spanish track but Season Two didn't. Consistency, people! Having one language or languages missing is craptacular.

♦ Subtitles. Preferably in whatever languages are on the disc as well as on the commentary track if one's on there. Big honkin' subtitles that eat up half of the screen are stupid. The people that need those the most are deaf, not blind. Subtitles should be clear, concise, and in a san-serif font. White or yellow outlined with black. Not giant pure-white bs that no one can see when the screen's all light-colored.

♦ Foreign films with hard subtitles are a no-no. For you newbs, hard subtitles are when they're stuck on the bloody screen. Sometimes I like an unobscured screen. Don't worry about whether or not I understand the language, that's my damn business.

♦ Do NOT make me go back into the menu to change this crap. What I mean is, for example, on "The Princess and the Frog" I can't just jump from English to Spanish audio using my remote. I have to actually return to the menu and change the language there. That's stupid. Luckily, most DVDs are pretty good about not doing that. Additionally, if you have audio and subtitles on the same menu screen, don't yank me out of there immediately after I choose a one feature but don't get to choose another. (Like if I choose Spanish language and get pulled out before I can put on Spanish subtitles. That's dumb.)

♦ Commentary tracks are wonderful but if the film makers really have nothing further to say about the subject, you really don't have to bother. Some commentary tracks read like the bored version of those audio tracks for the blind: "Russell Crowe enters the circus tent. He sees a clown. The clown waves. He punches the clown." Speaking of which…

♦ I love those Descriptive Video Service tracks for the blind. It's like I'm five years old and it's story time. "The Princess and the Frog" and "Inside Man" both have this service and it's awesome.

♦ Music-only tracks are also really cool. If there's not enough stuff to fill a commentary, do a music-only track or combine the two. Get creative!

♦ I saw the movie "Karma Sutra" with Indira Varma on a Panasonic widescreen television and for whatever reason that movie had black bars on all four sides of the picture. I don't know what the technical term for this occurring is but I call it balls and I dun like it.

♦ Previews are NOT an extra. However, I want previews anyway. Disney's Fast Play feature is a cool idea. Another good idea is the DC Universe Animated Original Movies and how they combine a teaser and a preview for some of their other material. A bad idea? Forced previews. This especially chafes when you've BOUGHT the damn thing and are being held hostage for something fucking annoying. I mean, I hate one of the previews on "Bride and Prejudice" but at least I can skip that crap.

♦ Real extras are nice. What's nicer is when there's a list of extras and a PLAY ALL option. There are few things that suck more on a DVD rife with goodies than having to play each one by one.

♦ Galleries that you can't zoom and navigate through yourself are useless.

♦ I Netflixed "That Touch of Mink" and it had profiles, such as stuff about Doris Day and Cary Grant. When it got to Gig Young, it was all "Oh hey, this guy killed his wife then shot himself!" That shit's really a downer. Who the fuck thought putting that on there was a great idea? Gig Young had dozens upon dozens of film and television roles and that's what they chose to highlight. Use common sense.

♦ Stop ripping us off for not upgrading to your precious Blu-Ray. Not everyone needs it. Not everyone wants it. So what do companies do when they release stuff on both Blu-Ray and DVD? They pack on the commentaries and features on the Blu-Ray and rip everyone else off. Now, I get there's more room on a Blu-Ray disc. That's fair. What isn't fair is when some of those things fit just fine on a regular DVD but you just want to eff customers over because they don't want to go down on Blu-Ray's Dr. Manhattan dong. I was all excited about the upcoming "Superman/Shazam! The Return of Black Adam" until I heard that there would be no commentary on the DVD. So what DVD customers get is the new twenty-minute short, three additional shorts that have already been released in extended format—whatever few minutes THAT entails—and four bonus episodes handpicked by Bruce Timm. These four episodes are among the stuff that's already been released and will most likely be "Justice League: Unlimited" episodes with Captain Marvel, Green Arrow, and probably either the "Batman:TAS" ep with Jonah Hex or the "Justice League: Unlimited" that has Jonah Hex in one episode. In other words, they expect people to pay fourteen bucks and change for way less than 50% new material. I call this jack-assery or "wait for the bargain-bin". Or even "piracy, ho!" I'd rather have commentary and some featurettes. You have a hard sell on your hands if you're going to try and convince me that stuff won't fit when "Inside Man" had a crapload of stuff on a single disc.

♦ Those DVD close-clip thingies on the side. You know the ones I mean. They have no purpose in life.

♦ There is no excuse for cover art like this these days. -> This one for "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" is horrific. Use the movie's poster. Use a nice screen cap. Those aren't even their bodies.

♦ In multi-DVD sets, if I have to take out one disc to get to another one you're doing it wrong.

♦ FYI, if there's a soundtrack or a novelization available, advertise it somewhere on the DVD. There's stuff I didn't even know had soundtracks until I Googled it one day. You people are losing money.

♦ Why, oh, why would you put something edited on the DVD release when it's not even neccessary? "Turtles Forever" I'm looking at you. Do the rest of us a favor and don't even bother. Go look at the reviews for "Turtles Forever" at Amazon.com. Almost everybody loved it but HATE the way it was released. Do not shoot yourself in the foot.

Book Review: Bride in a Gilded Cage

Haven't reviewed one of these in a while. Here's the synop:

The tango is an Argentinean dance of possession and passion...and that's exactly how aristocrat Rafael Romero intends his convenient marriage to teacher Isobel will be. First he will take her as his bride. Then he'll lead her to the marriage bed, where he'll make her his. Isobel may have no choice but to give her hand to Rafael in matrimony, yet she intends to stay as free as a bird. But her new husband will keep her caged once he discovers he's wed a virgin....

This isn't the first book I've read by Abby Green. Previous reads include "Ruthless Greek Boss, Secretary Mistress", which I mostly enjoyed; "Ruthlessly Bedded, Forcibly Wedded", which kinda annoyed me; "The Mediterranean Billionaire's Blackmail Bargain", which was cheesy and barely readable; and "The Kouros Marriage Revenge", which I kinda liked. "Bride in a Gilded Cage" gave me some gilded rage. I just did not like this book.

The story opens with the hero, billionaire Argentinian Don Rafael Ortega Romero, confronting the heroine Isobel Miller at her 18th birthday party. With deep olive skin, hair as black as midnight, and two "green and gold" "pools of dark sin" for eyeballs, Raff is a pretty classy guy, eh beds many womens and doesn't afraid of anything. Due to retarded rich-people circumstances, he and Isobel have been betrothed to each other. Upon their marriage, Isobel will get back her family's estancia and net her greedy-ass folks a tidy sum. Rafael will get the business perk of fronting himself as a stable family man because they hates single dudes in Argentina. He'll also get to use Isobel's English-tainted half-Argentinean aristocratic pedigree to breed more Romero-assholes for the debatable enjoyment of future generations. Whatev.

In truth, neither really wants this marriage and I don't either. Isobel feels trapped by both the "medieval" notion of arranged marriages and apparently oppressive Argentinian society, yearning to learn dance-shit in Europe. Rafael had originally wanted to marry another woman and isn't jazzed about being tethered against his will. He is magnanimous enough to deem that since Isobel gives him a woody anyway, she'll do, pig. After a punishing kiss, Rafael announces they'll marry when she's twenty-one and goes off to pork his latest conquest:
"...I can assure you that the woman in my car will be perfectly happy once she’s in my bed and underneath me. She doesn’t care about marriage any more than I do. She’s already been twice divorced.’"
He even made it clear to Isobel that once they marry, he'll "make full use of" her. Ew, what a toad. Meanwhile, Isobel returns to Europea, sticks her head in sand, and literally spends the next three years hoping it'll all go away. Despite her proclaiming that she's a firebrand and won't just meekly agree to marry him, that she hates him and despises him, and even that she'd rather die, Isobel really does nothing with her time but dance, dance, dance and spend each day that goes by thinking about Rafael and getting hot from that kiss. Huh?

Which leads to my problem with "Bride in a Gilded Cage": I don't like either one of these bozos. Both of them spend the first chapter being so over-dramatic (mainly her) or disgusting (mainly him) that nobody's likeable. I consider Rafael a no-brainer but what about Isobel did I instantly loathe first? The way she prickishly infers Argentina as "barbaric" and inferior to Europe? Or that her idea of standing up to him consists of whining in his face and simultaneously being turned on by him? I don't know what about an arrogant slimeball walking in and killing my dreams—on my birthday no less—could possibly make my panties moist. Not mention Isobel's so fidgety she may as well have Parkinson's. Isobel flinches, she quivers, her chest constricts with fear. Panic grips her, her hand shakes, the color drains from her face, her future crumbles in front of her... all in the span of a few pages. And it doesn't stop. I understood she's very young but, damn, it got on my nerves, especially admist Rafael making himself as yucky as possible.

In Chapter Two, we immediately fast-forward three years later and Rafael still can't get over the kiss he "shared" with Isobel—um, no buddy, you took that one for yourself—and how Isobel stood up to him. Whining and sniveling impresses him. Hoo-wee. In fact, he's changed his mind about not wanting the marriage and is so goddamn excited about his future wife that not one woman made it into his bed in the last six months.

Is that really supposed to fucking impress anybody? Now, I'm not picking on Abby Green. She is not the only author to use this, but I have to call it out just the same: that shit's not even romantic. Not even. Within the other two and a half years who the hell knows how much head, anal, and what-have-you this constantly hard jerk-off got with countless numbers of Argentinian society-hos. Yeah, we were supposed to be sold on that line in the first chapter about "two consenting adults coming together to enjoy one another…without lies" but this chap undermines that message when he acts like a louse talking all vulgar to and stealing a sloppy kiss from an unwilling teen ruthlessly bartered by her own family. Seriously, I hate this fucking guy.

So, back in Chapter Two, Rafael's all excited and shit and looks at a picture of Isobel running hand-in-hand with another man in Paris. But it's okay, cause that guy's GAY. You see, if he were straight, it wouldn't be okay because all the straight men are potential sexins for Isobel. ALL OF THEM. But this guy is GAY and likes to dance, so he's perfectly SAFE. That still doesn't stop "the surge of hot anger" in Raff's horny old belly. UGH. Have you torn your hair out yet? If no, wait, there's more.

So he's looking at the picture and all practically "Whoa, she's less fat now. Rock on." It is around this time Abby Green tells us Isobel's hair is now "very short", but that sure as hell has never stopped the cover artist from putting something completely different on the front of the fucking book. Raff's all "Boo hoo, she's so purty now! I am regret. There's no way she's still a virgin." This is because all women are sluts.

More so, Rafael is impressed that Isobel has used her "extensive and expensive British education" to not "carve out a high profile career" but instead barely scrape by living in a hovel and teaching jerks in France to tango in a tiny studio. I mean, I'd call that wasteful and retarded myself but what do I know? So paragraphs after he just knows she's no longer a virgin because why would she be, he admits to himself that three years ago Isobel "blasted apart any misconception he had about her character". In fact, it seems she blasted it so far apart that Rafael's been spending these last three years making new ones. UGH. Have I said that word already? UGH.

At this point I did continue reading on for God knows what reason. The following shit happens: Raff crashed Isobel's tango class. He dances great. Isobel's all turned on. He's all "we gonna get married" and she gets hysterical and shocked despite getting a THREE YEAR WARNING THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN. She protests and he bullies and she caves in. "All avenues of escape were cut off." Well, yeah. When you sit on your ass for three years DOING NOTHING ABOUT IT, that shit can happen.

To continue: The couple return to Buenos Aires. They get married and do a tongue kiss in church. Spots dance before her eyes yet again (they keep doing that, those damn spots!) because she didn't really want to tongue kiss, oh, damn this reaction Rafael causes within her! Stupid, sexy Rafael! They argue about Rafael buying her new clothes. Her chest tightens, her belly quivers. We meet Rafael's half-brother: grey-eyed, industrialist, Greek playboy billionaire Rico Christofides. Rico no doubt has a book or will have a book of his own. Way to sloppily work that in, Green.

At one point later in the book, Isobel talks to a man about acquiring a property to use as a studio to teach disabled children and poor folks to dance. Oh, what a sweet girl! Wants to help teh disabled keeds! And people and Rafael think she's a slut because she was photographed or something talking to this man. And she's all "Boo hoo, my cage is so small." There is so much headdesk here I can't go on. Who even cares anymore?

At the end, Isobel has her own dance studio and two kids. Rafael now knows what loves is because Isobel wanted to show him. Or something like that. There, I saved you some monies. Oh, BTW look what I found! It's Rico's book: "In Christofides' Keeping":

Gypsy Butler spent one explosive night with a charismatic stranger, but when she discovered that he was exactly the kind of man she despises most, and that she was pregnant with his child, she prayed she’d never see him again. But fate is not kind, and when Gypsy bumps into Rico Christofides the explosive passion between them is as strong as ever. He wants her. What will he do though when he discovers the secret daughter she’s been keeping from him?

What an odd title! Where's he keeping her, chained in his basement? Also, that dude on the cover looks d-bag-ish. Abby Green has an excerpt at her website and Gypsy is Rico's waitress during his date with someone else. The excerpt more or less reads decently. ♫ Oh ho, I know what book I'm torturing myself with next year. ♫

No acorns for "Bride in a Gilded Cage" because the protags are balls. Go read any of the other books I've mentioned here. ANY of them. All of them are better than this one.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I Answer Other People's Letters #1100810

Today's Victim: Carolyn Hax [10/6/10 – 10/8/10]

First off, Care Bear hugs and kisses to the Detroit Free Press. The Washington Post and some Dallas rag both wanted me to register to read Carolyn Hax. REGISTER? To read people crying about their lives? I think not.

Following letter and final letter both edited for superfluous bullshit:
Balance your attitude about check

Dear Carolyn: A friend agreed to keep my pet while I was away. I gave her a check when I returned simply because I appreciated her help. I told her I had postdated it. She cashed the check ahead of the date and the bank charged me $175. Her response: She hadn't heard me ask her to hold the check and she was really sorry. I believe she was not truthful and, even if she was, she feels no responsibility for sharing the expense. This woman is in a group that meets in my home. Because of this incident and another which has caused dissension in the group, I do not want to continue to invite her. What do you think?
--Anonymous
Dear Anon,
I think you have other motives for not wanting her in your home and just want to make a tally on this woman. If this had been someone you wanted to keep as a friend, you'd see the thing with the check was your own damn fault and eat the cost. There's a reason you're not supposed to write post-dated checks, you ninny. If you don't like the woman then don't invite her into your home. However, be prepared for the rest of the group to turn on you if they disagree. Especially if your other reason is as equally flimsy as this one.

Mr. Nice Guy complains about women

Dear Carolyn: If a woman has dated both nice guys and abusive guys, how come you'll find out that in just about every case, her longest relationships have been with the abusive guys? Why do so many women require some form of drama to remain entertained in a relationship, and do you find this to be childish behavior?
--D.C.
Dear Distict of Columbia,

Her longest relationship is with the abuser because if she leaves he'll fucking kill her. I don't know why you seem to surround yourself with women who LOOOVE drama and it's not childish, it's just sad. The End.

Of course Carolyn didn't answer this way and provoked the following response:
Carolyn: So you're saying there's no segment of women who require drama to be entertained, and I have an attitude problem for disliking drama? Again, when you confront a woman who has been in abusive relationships, which is relatively common, why are their abusive relationships the longest relationships they have? You'd think the relationship with non-abusive men would be the longer relationships, right?
--D.C. again
BECAUSE SHE'S AFRAID THAT IF SHE LEAVES HIM SHE'LL DIE. No, dumbass, I don't think non-abusive men would be in the longer relationship because the non-abusive man would be all "Oh, so this isn't working for you? All right, I can respect that," and then he'd go on his merry ol' way because he has a shred of self-esteem and isn't an effin' sicko. The abuser is a sad shell of a guy with serious issues who will guilt her and then give her a shiner. NORMAL PEOPLE DON'T REMAIN IN RETARDED SITUATIONS. SICK PEOPLE DO. See the fucking difference, sportsfan?

Instead Carolyn and her readership BAAAWW about sterotypes. Since this guy is too stupid to understand how abusive relationships work, they may as be trying to teach a donkey calculus. They dub him as having "Nice Guy Syndrome". Why is everything a disease these days? Why can't a stupid person just be stupid?

He's having an affair, she can't be bothered to care

Dear Carolyn: My husband is having an affair. I have proof. I'm not surprised; he was texting her while we were on vacation with my family. I have not confronted him. I'm expecting him to say, "Well, can you blame me?" He has asked to go to counseling. I have agreed and told him to set up the appointment, but he has not. Sadly, I'm not really bothered, but if it begins to affect our children, there will be hell to pay. I have several e-mails over the past six months, including one where he calls my family pathetic. That bothers me more than the affair. I'm sure he thinks I am unaware. The immature part of me just wants to say "gotcha." Should I wait for counseling to bring this up so there is a witness there?
--Aware But Don't Care
Dear Messed-Up Lady,

1. People who don't care wouldn't have bothered writing an advice columnist, liar.

2. Why haven't you confronted your husband? Even if he does act as predicted, WHO FUCKING CARES. PAST SIX MONTHS? WTF! Get up off your ass.

3. Why didn't you make the appointment with the counselor? Why is the marriage counseling just HIS deal? Do you want a prize for just agreeing or some shit? Well, you don't get one.

4. Your children have noticed something. Don't front with this mamma bear bullshit: "If he hurt mah keedz, thar be hell ta pay!" If you don't think your own behavior in this doesn't hurt your kids, think again. I grew in similar circumstances and IT HURT ME BADLY. I'll bet your kids are feeling it, too.

5. "Boo hoo, he called my family pathetic." The fact that this bothers you more than the affair itself is icing on the cake. And then you want to gloat "gotcha" and want a witness? Name calling and bragging rights? You have all the priorities of a five-year-old in front of the claw machine at Chuck E. Cheese.

WOW, and he cheated on you. I can't imagine why.

Look here, missy, you can't control him but of the things you could control—confronting him, making the appointment, etc.—why haven't you done them already instead of spending your time being a petty, over-prideful little plotter? A mother concerned with protecting her children from this crap doesn't just twiddle her thumb up her ass and proclaim herself "aware but don't care." Whether the lout thinks you're aware or not is utterly meaningless. "Should I wait for counseling to bring this up so there is a witness there?" You mean the counseling that will never happen since neither of you can pick up the goddamn phone? A "witness" for what exactly? "Oooh, you got him good, gurl!" Will that fix your marriage? Um, NO! Confront him already. It's the first step.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Music Review: Infernal - "Fall From Grace"

First off, AAAAAAAARGH!! AAAAAAAAAARRGH!!! OMG!! OH, GOD! WAAAAAAAAAAAH, THAT COVER, FTW! Congratulations, Infernal. If you were trying to give me nightmares, you succeeded.

This is the fifth album from the Danish dance duo, best known for their cover of "Self Control" and "From Paris to Berlin" from their third album of that name. The release in between, "Electric Caberet", didn't have any tracks that really caught my attention and left me a bit cold. "Fall From Grace" seems to be a return to form. I just plain like these songs better than on "Electric Caberet".

1. "Fall From Grace" - A lovely, slow start makes me want them to do more ballads. Works itself into a kicking track.

2. "Biting The Bullet" - Not one of my faves but a good track.

3. "Love Is All..." - The type of song where everyone in the club gets in a circle and holds hands. lol. Yeah. But it makes you want to do it. Trust me. Very nice.

4. "Weird How You..." - I like this one although I feel I've heard the hook for it somewhere before. Feel free to enlighten me. A fave of mine.

5. "Alone Together" - Similar to the last track in that I like it but I feel like I've heard it somewhere before. I wish I knew if/what they were sampling. Has a nice steady beat to it.

6. "Gunshot" - What, someone's shooting at them again? This one's all right.

7. "The Weekend And I" - I wish the backing music to this was on a better song. I'd love an instrumental version.

8. "Materialize!" - The robot from the last song stuck around for this one. More words would have actually helped here. A lot of repetition here and it doesn't really work for me. 's okay.

9. "Circussed" - I don't know if this is supposed to be a take off of "Circus" by Britney Spears but it almost sounds like it. Anything's a noun these days.

10. "Plastic Fantastic" - Decent but frays at bit near the end.

11. "Club Erotic" - Feels kinda ordinary. I imagine it's probably better live or something. The drums or whatever in the chorus interfere with the flow of the song for me.

12. "Think Cavalli, Baby" - How avant-garde! I have no idea what the eff this is! There's speaking, a harder sound, and a notable absence of Lina Rafn's singing. This is absolutely wonderful. Too bad more the album didn't go in this direction and mate it with Lina's awesome voice.

"Fall From Grace" is better than their previous album and, although I loved the backing music on every track, there were still some weak tracks here.

4 acorns.

And if that album cover and that last track don't produce sufficient WTF, here's the music vid for "Love Is All..."


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Music Review: Selena Gomez – "A Year Without Rain" (Deluxe Edition)


Before I commence with teh reviewin', anyone else want to see Selena's second album as "A Year Without Brains"? Selena up there could be decked out in zombie make-up and the album could feature groovy ghoul-theme dance tracks. We don't have enough mainstream Halloween music. It would've been released in time for October and it would've been rad. But what we got instead is good, too.

1. "Round and Round" – The song comes out a little formulatic but as I made myself listen to it again for review, I found myself kinda humming it. Not a favorite by any means, but very radio-friendly.

2. "A Year Without Rain" – The eponymous track. I think I'll prefer this one remixed. It's a sweet song but I think it could use some punch. I'm listening to it again and it does kinda grow on you.

3. "Rock God" – A song about a rock god should rooooccck. Period. This struts along and is very much in the pop, wanna-be-bad-tee-hee-imma-girl vein of Miley and young Avril. And that's kinda ew. This would've been cool as a duet with Orianthi singing and crunching guitar. Yes, I do keep bringing up Orianthi whenever possible. I want more Orianthi.

4. "Off the Chain" – Much like "Rock God", it's too mellow and soft. A sassier voice like Katy Perry (one of the co-writers of the song actually) or Kelly Clarkson would've suited this better. Oh damn, now I really want Kelly Clarkson to cover this. Additionally, the background music needs to be bit more uptempo.

5. "Summer's Not Hot" – This sounds great and you can jump up and dance to it, but it doesn't sound good for anything besides a tween's pool party. One of the writers on this was RedOne. Perhaps someone should've gotten her to perform like GaGa. That would have been more interesting.

6. "Intuition" – Featuring Eric Bellinger? Who is that? He's attempting to rap and sounds kinda Bieberish, like his ballsack hasn't dropped yet. Autotune is also really showing its stuff on Selena's voice… More on that next.

7. "Spotlight" – Yeeeeah. It has a good beat but I don't like her autotuned this freakin' much, especially when nothing special was really accomplished by doing so. Then Selena's voice actually Ke$has out. No no no. Also, she name-dropped Angelina Jolie. *KRUSTY GROAN*

8. "Ghost of You" – Boring. I didn't hate this. It seems like one of those that needs to grow on me.

9. "Sick of You" – I actually like this lyrically but it's nothing special. And Selena's hissing. "Ssssss, so sick of you!" HUH? Why you hissing, girl? I really want to love this song more than I want to care for it.

10. "Live Like There's No Tomorrow" – See #8. I have the suspicion this is better live somehow. The Scene part of the group should've shone in this track—and the previous three for that matter—since the electro-pop nature of this album eclipses them. The last few tracks here were putting me to sleep.

11. "Round & Round (Davé Aude Mix) – In making this more club-friendly, the appeal of the original is sorta gone. I like this a little less than I did the original.

12. "A Year Without Rain (EK's Future Classic Remix – Radio Edit)" – Ohhhh, I do love this. Yes, this song is definitely something ppl need to remix the heck out of. Lovely.

13. "Un Año Sin Ver Llover" – For those of you who don't understand, that's "A Year Without Rain" in Spanish. I actually don't speak Spanish but, hell, I know what año (year) and sin (without) mean so it was a matter of context logic for me. I gotta say I prefer it in Spanish. Makes it more romantic I guess. I don't remember where I read it, but I'm fairly certain Selena doesn't actually speak Spanish and is in the process of learning it. Good on her. I hope she does more Spanish-language songs in the future.

Overall, I like this much more than Selena Gomez and the Scene's first album, "Kiss & Tell". I really only cared for "Naturally" on there. While I definitely like more than one track on the sophomore album and dig the electro-pop vibe, a bunch of them could've been better executed.  And getting the Deluxe Edition is the only way to go here.

4 acorns.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Answer Other People's Letters #30093010


Today’s Victim: Dear Abby [9/26/10]
DOG LEFT HOME ALONE CAUSES CONCERN FOR WORRIED OWNERS

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have a precious 2-year-old Boston terrier, "Bailey," who is our life. We consider him our child and are heartbroken any time we must leave him alone. I am wondering if there is any way I could train Bailey to use a fire blanket in case of a fire if we're not there. Bailey loves to burrow into blankets, so it's not too much of a stretch. I couldn't bear the thought of our little one not being able to help himself if he was locked in during a fire. Any suggestions? -- BAILEY'S MOMMY IN TOM'S RIVER, N.J.
Dear Scary Lady,
WTF? Seriously. WTF? Okay, okay, in the interest of full disclosure: I have two cats and call myself their mommy. Meh, a lot of animal folks do. Whatev. I used to have a cat that would comb my hair with her claws but I wasn't gonna train her to cut and style. Be realistic. Teaching the dog to use a fire blanket? Humans are still trying to master fire blankets. ADULT HUMANS. And you want to teach a two year old dog? I guess this is a toy breed and the fire extinguisher's too heavy. Does a box of baking soda fit in his mouth? Just wondering.

Real Abby's advice was to get a dog sitter. I mean, if this woman really considers the dog her child and leaves him home alone, we could theorectically call Dog-Child Protective Services, amirite?

Following letter edited for redundant bullshit:
DEAR ABBY: I am a 29-year-old woman with one child. I looked into international adoptions and foster care adoptions. I have always wanted to expand my family, but adoption is expensive and foster care wasn't the right fit. My younger sister, "Caitlin," married her abusive high school boyfriend and immediately became pregnant. She's now pregnant with a second child and this time she has no intention of reconciling.

I would desperately love to adopt this baby. When I approached Caitlin about it she said allowing me to adopt her child would make her feel "too guilty." How do I convey to her my great desire to adopt her child without making her feel like less than a parent? I wouldn't feel so strongly if I thought she actually wanted this baby, but she acts like this pregnancy is a burden. -- MATERNAL IN TULSA
Dear Creepy Baby Thief,
Stop being creepy. Stop it now. It's very "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle". Eww.
First off, you have one child and never state whether or not you can still conceive. You know what, never mind. I don't want you to multiply anymore. Next, I question that you've looked into international adoptions. Enough with the Angelina Jolie guano, people, kids in this country need loving parents, too. Third, the notion that adoption is expensive is even more apalling: like your new young relative is the K-Mart option or some shit. Obvious implications are obvious. Finally, I don't see how not reconciling with the baby-papa has anything to do with your sister keeping or not keeping her own child. Your idiot sister obviously feels some obligation--like a motherly duty, almost... maternal if you would--to this child. There is really no nice way to say "Gimma your babee!" You've put your cards on the table, now back off nice and slow.

As for not wanting the baby or being burdened by the pregnancy, honey, that's nearly every mother I know. It doesn't mean a damn thing in the long run. Be honest: you're not being altruistic to your niece or nephew. You "feel strongly" because you want to steal her baby to feed your own raging mommy cravings and for no other reason. Get some therapy.

DEAR ABBY: My supervisor "Valerie" is smart and beautiful. However she is a few pounds overweight. The problem is she thinks she can still squeeze into a size 8. You can tell she's interested in looking professional and stylish by the clothes she picks out, but she still looks terrible. She is obviously in denial about her appearance, and her co-workers and underlings talk about her behind her back. Because Valerie is my supervisor, I do not feel comfortable telling her how unprofessional she really looks. I am surprised that none of her friends has told her (tactfully), or that her supervisor hasn't told her how unprofessional it is that we all can see the outline of her underwear. The shame of it is that it's hard to take Valerie seriously in her professional capacity when all one can think about is her clothes don't fit. How does one approach such a subject with someone who isn't really a friend? -- GROSSED OUT AT WORK
Dear Fashion Popo,
This grosses you out? Rly? Here's an idea: knock off the Gossipy Gloria shit and concentrate on doing your goddamn job.