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.


Meh, I don't remember..


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 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 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?
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?
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.