Monday, February 28, 2011

What I Learned from the Academy Awards


Or Knew but Had Forgotten:

  • I love Tim Gunn.  Still.
  • Keith Urban is a short shit!
  • James Franco sucks as a host, but I'm willing to overlook that.
  • Anne Hathaway embodies every chick-lit heroine ever created, and I'm not willing to overlook that.
  • Kirk Douglas is cooler now than he ever was before.
  • This is what passes for a profound statement in Hollywood: "You know a screenplay is good when the writer's words float through your mind and go straight to your heart."
  • Jake Gyllenhaal doesn't seem nearly as hot as he did in Brokeback Mountain, although I still say he's gay.
  • Billy Crystal needs a hairdresser who doesn't make the back of his head look flat, and a writer who doesn't make him seem like a throwback to Borscht Belt comedians.
  • Gwyneth Paltrow=>authentic country singer; K.Z. Snow=>authentic gay author.
  • I like Randy Newman.  Still.
  • One of my favorite songs has always been Lena Horne's "Stormy Weather."
  • Oprah's fame+money combo is apparently a Golden Ticket to many elite places.  I'm surprised she didn't show up with Donald Trump.
  • I wish I had Annette Bening's face.  (She can keep Warren Beatty, though.)
  • I wish I had Celine Dion's voice.
  • I wish I could think on my feet, and in a dress, as well as Sandra Bullock.
  • According to the director of The King's Speech, there is such a thing as "a triangle of man love."  (But then we already knew that, didn't we?)
  • Colin Firth is funny.
  • I'm sick of seeing Steven Spielberg (and still hate E.T.)
  • From the Best Picture montage: I love the second or allegretto movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, my favorite of all his symphonies. It makes my skin shiver over my muscles and my muscles shiver over my bones.
  • On a related note, it brought these terms to mind: exposition, development, recapitulation. (Sorry, but I've been a classical music slut since fifth grade!)
  • I just pissed away a few hours of my life. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Visible Friend


~ Coming in April from Dreamspinner Press ~

Blurb:

Only 24, Christopher Borgasian has made a drastic and terrifying change in his life. He's turning his back on a lover he'd adored for three years. The breakup required more than regretfully spoken words; it was an arduous process that took over seven months. Now it's time for Chris to see if he can make it on his own. Without heroin.

Without much of anything, really. Chris's family rejected him nearly a decade ago when he came out, and his drug buddies, never true friends to begin with, are now off-limits. Chris Borgasian, gay recovering junkie, is alone with his determination.

The night before he leaves a sober-living facility to pursue his uncertain future, a stranger named Denny shows up in his room . . . then vanishes as mysteriously as he'd appeared. From that night on, Denny keeps returning, suddenly and inexplicably, whenever Chris battles temptation, self-doubt, or feelings of isolation. This handsome young man isn't an angel, but his identity still strains credulity.

Believing in Denny means, for Chris, believing in the magical strength of a child's longing -- for the invisible made visible, the imaginary turned real, and, most incredible of all, the possibility of unquestioning acceptance and abiding love.

*

Prologue
(unedited)


 Finding a good entry point was like discovering a clean patch of water in the middle of an oil spill. Chris flexed his arm, tightened his fist, touched one spot after another. A line of music went through his head: Oh beautiful, for spacious veins. . .

His didn’t deserve an anthem. Shriveled, sunken sonsabitches.

“Quit farting around; you’re making me nervous,” Winston muttered as he rigged up. “Try your hand or foot.”

“No. Now be quiet.”

The veins in one’s extremities rolled too much. Winston might’ve been reckless enough to jab at one of the slippery tubules, but Chris was more cautious. He didn’t relish the idea of becoming a pincushion, especially a pincushion squirting blood. That had happened to him a few times and it hadn’t been pretty.

Finally, he palpated a barely perceptible, blue-gray rise with the tip of his thumb. Okay, no more farting around. He aimed and fired.

First, a sharp nip as the needle broke his skin, then the faintest pop of sensation as it drove through a second wall. Chris jacked the plunger to make sure he’d spiked one . . . and, sure as heaven, a ghostly crimson plume swirled in slow motion into the barrel of the syringe. It was a beautiful thing to see, all his passion reduced to this watercolor wash. The image was so powerful in its simplicity that it struck Chris as nearly divine.

His anticipation rose as his forefinger steadily lowered. He sent the plume back home, wrapped around a velvet hammer.

First the bees attacked. Yellowjackets, all clustered around the injection site. Little bastards stung like demons. The sensation didn’t startle Chris anymore. It hadn’t for a long time.

He removed the tie-off from his left arm. It was a thin lady’s belt he’d bought at a thrift store, a gauche strip of gilded vinyl that had tickled his fancy as soon as he’d seen it. He eased the needle out of its twin entry holes and laid the rig in a bowl of warm water.

The unique smell-taste of heroin was already blooming within the tissues at the back of his nose and throat. Not pleasant, not unpleasant, but a distinct part of the experience. Like the burn delivered by the bees, it was what it was. Then, as Chris drew water into his rig to clean it out, the bliss descended.

In a blink, he was swaddled in the thickest, softest comforter in this or any other world. Dusty pink, light as air, it imparted a warmth that melted his muscles and turned his blood to honey.

Nothing could touch him now. Even the barbs of his own thoughts and feelings couldn’t pierce this protective bunting. Serene, oblivious, he floated in place as the honey saturated every cell in his body. The honey was heavy and hot and sweet. From clover, he’d always thought. It must come from clover.

Chunks of time got lost—three minutes here, five minutes there—as Chris periodically nodded. No prickly feeling spread over him this time, and no nausea welled, for he was pretty much past the vomiting stage. He had no elaborate, fascinating dreams.

Winston’s voice drifted toward him. “Good shit, huh?”

“Mmm.”

“You still gonna quit?”

“Got to.” Even if Chris’s halcyon days with heroin were long past—the early period of use when every hit brought orgasmic euphoria—his answer carried profound regret.

He’d probably be giving up the best friend, and best lover, he’d ever had.



Friday, February 18, 2011

Put on your dancing shoes -- it's Friday!



Trivia questions:
What legendary group makes a brief appearance in this video?
In which of my books is this song mentioned?


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I've begun another.

Book, that is. And entirely different from the Dresden Files.

I am 20% through it . . . and still waiting for the plot to arrive. I can't even hear its hoofbeats in the distance. So far, there's only been sex. Page after page after page of sex, with nary a breather. I'm also waiting for the male characters to distinguish themselves from one another. Even their shout-outs (or growl-outs) during the boinking scenes are identical. As for the setting, I know where all this lusty interaction is taking place but only because I've been told. I've not been given any enlivening details. One thing is for sure, though: it's a very gay place. One wouldn't think such a place would be so rife with queerness, but it is. (No, this isn't a James Lear book. I like his books. They're funny, and they have plots.)

Since I'm tired of being a crabby-ass about my reading material, I'm going to keep plugging away at this one. I'll just have to start skipping the sex scenes, because they're making my eyes glaze over. The reason I'm intent on being persistent is that I know for a fact there's a Dramatic Payoff somewhere down the line. This book's been around for a while, so scads of discussions have cropped up about it and they've been loaded with spoilers. Right now I'm just hoping the Dramatic Payoff has the proper buildup, because it won't seem so dramatic if I'm not convinced, within the context of some plot and character development, that the protagonists are in love. Constant anal and penile stretching do not a romantic relationship make.

I'll keep you posted.

P.S. Have any of you read The Line of Beauty? How was it?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"I really wanted to like this book."

If I had $10 for every time I've seen that sentence in a review, I could update all the electronic devices in this house. But what does it mean? What makes a reader "want to like" a book?

When I start reading something, I don't go into it thinking I want to like it or dislike it. I just start reading. Of course I'd prefer to have an enjoyable experience -- it's frustrating as hell to trudge and stumble through a story -- so in that regard, every reader wants to like every book s/he picks up. But . . . what makes people single out certain titles to want to like?

Here are the only answers I could come up with:
  1. You've spent a good chunk of change on the tome and don't want to feel ripped off.
  2. You've been looking forward to the story for months.
  3. A gazillion other readers have raved about the book, so, to be part of the happy herd, you want to be able to rave about it too.
  4. You find the author's online persona appealing; s/he seems like a good shit.

Okay, all these reasons except the one relating to the herd mentality make some sense to me. By and large, though, I've been mystified by this desire-to-like statement for a good long while. Then I encountered a book I wanted to like, and I began to understand the sentiment.

It's a volume from Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden files. Why did I want to like it? Because I'm about ready to gag on UF heroines and I really crave an engaging, original UF hero. However, old Harry let me down.

I was hoping to get lost in this series. Instead, in one book alone, I encountered so many coincidences and convenient occurrences, and so many dumbasses repeatedly engaged in incomprehensible dumbassery (and I mean well beyond the normal parameters for suspension of disbelief), I'm not sure I want to risk my money on more of the same. Yes, I feel let-down. Where else can I turn to find the urban wizard of my dreams?

So . . . there's my reason for wanting to like a book. What are some of yours?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

By way of the romance novel cover I once made for JLA. Isn't he a picture-perfect hero? (Sheesh. And you wonder why I seek refuge in my imagination?)

Monday, February 07, 2011

Is it only me?

(Sorry for stealing your line, Kris!)

I've been doing a lot of book browsing lately, probably due to this beastly winter we're having, and I've noticed a growing lack of nuance in the fiction spectrum.

Or is it just my imagination?

Sturm und Drang

Some stories rely on heavy doses of Sturm und Drang in characters' lives. (I remember that phrase from German lit and rarely get a chance to dust it off and parade it around.) It means "storm and stress." I mean turmoil and angst, all kinds of OUCH stemming from miserable childhoods, physical injury or impairment, and/or psychological trauma. I mean, Holy shit, what more can happen to this poor individual? The plot ends up being soap operatic, a Murphy's Law melodrama in which all kinds of over-the-top stuff can go wrong . . . and does. Or could've gone wrong in the past . . . and has. Maybe with a little PTSD thrown in for good measure.

The BDSM Cure

Other fiction is larded with sex, presented as a tonic for whatever ails one or both of the main characters. Usually of the BDSM variety, the sexual relationship is, in fact, the story's pivot. "Are you troubled for some reason, any reason? Here, let's fix that by devising a Dom/sub arrangement. It will prove oh-so therapeutic, and then, of course, we'll fall in love -- tra-la!"

Oh, Honey, Honey

Finally, some stories seem sugar-coated throughout. The sex is sweet, the feelings are sweet, the dialogue is sweet. Conflicts are easily resolved, so they don't jarringly interrupt the flow of feelgood.


Maybe my mood has been colored by the weather and I'm not seeing things clearly, but it sure strikes me there's a plethora of fiction right now that falls into those categories. Has anybody else noticed this lack of subtlety and originality, or do I just need to sit tight and wait for spring to adjust my perspective?

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Why Football Games Matter

This isn't only Super Bowl Sunday. This isn't only the day the Green Bay Packers brought the Vince Lombardi Trophy home. This is also the first anniversary of my brother-in-law's death.

Gilly was the most extraordinary of ordinary men. He fixed elevators and escalators for a living. Although my education far outstripped his, I always believed he was the smartest man I'd ever known. And the funniest. And the kindest and certainly the most mellow. He raised six children, my nieces and nephews, to be exemplary citizens, yet never thought of it as an accomplishment. He was too humble to have found anything he did an accomplishment.

Twenty years my senior, he was both a better father to me than my biological father as well as the big brother I never had. Gilly was also a rabid, decades-long fan of a football team that hails from the smallest city in North America to have a profressional sports franchise.

So, the Green Bay Packers winning the Super Bowl is a victory that, in my mind, belongs to Gilly. He would have been ecstatic. No...I'm going to amend that. I'm going to let myself believe he IS ecstatic.

This one's for you, Gilbird -- just a small, belated reward for a life well lived. And no one can convince me otherwise.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

So...


There I am,

At the Goodreads M/M Romance group,

Listening to the sounds of silence

In the echoing void,

Hearing naught

But the ringing realization

That I am not

Z. A. Maxfield.

Only RuPaul's "Drag Race"

Whispers an offer of comfort

Through rainbow glitter,

faux camel toes,

And ample acrylic

bosoms.

*

S

I

G

H

*

(Did that work?)
(And hey, I've made it easy for y'all.
Just click on the post title to find me.)