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30 posts from October 2006

October 31, 2006

My Cell Phone is Trying to Kill Me

By Sarah

I hate my cell phone. No really. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's trying to kill me. No_cell_phones

Ever since it lost its ability to charge for long periods (though that occasionally changes for no discernable reason), I have found myself nearly side swiping tractor trailers as I attempt to steer with my knees and talk to my kids while trying to keep the phone charger plugged in despite the missing metallic connector that keeps the phone hooked on. This means that at any given moment I'll have a conversation that goes like this:

Daughter: "Mom! Okay, don't freak. I don't think they're going to call the state cops or anything. I mean, the detective who interviewed me said he probably wouldn't have to ..."

Me (juggling phone charger, trying to not pick off school children who've just crossed in front of my car): "What? What happened?

Daughter: I swear, it wasn't my ---- beep, beep, beep LOW BATTERY CALL WAS LOST!

See, this is the thing about cell phones. We come to rely on them only to find they're completely unreliable. Like bungee cords bought on discount with a bit of fraying at the edges. The day you break down in a rainstorm on a remote rural road is the day you find out that, being a remote rural road, there's no cell phone reception. Or your battery is shot and you desperately need to call someone but there's no way to get a charge. I have a somewhat funny story about this, but before I share, let me direct you to a not-funny-at-all story. A story about a college girl and her cell phone on a Burlington, Vermont, street earlier this month.

I have no doubt the parents of Michelle Gardner-Quinn bought her a cell phone for the same reason my mother bought me my first in oughty ought - for safety. And yet, when she really needed it the phone failed her. Walking back to her dorm down Main Street at 2 a.m. on a busy Saturday night during parents weekend, having left her friends at a bar, Michelle, 21, tried to make a call and found her battery was too low.

Up walks Brian l. Rooney, 36, a peach of a guy, who does have a working cell phone. He also has Quinn pending sex assault charges in two other counties. He offers to let Michelle use his phone. She does. (Smart going, Brian) They walk past a jewelry store surveillance camera and that is the last anyone saw Michelle alive. Her body was found wedged between some rocks, murdered by strangulation and blunt trauma to the head. She'd also been raped. You can read more here. Brian says he was too drunk to remember anything.

I was luckier years ago when I was driving to Barnard, Vermont, the week after Town Meeting to interview a colorful farmer who'd raised a lot of hell about taxes. A simple feature story, except I forgot that to get to the heart Barnard, Vermont, you have to drive down five miles of dirt road. That's fine forty-nine or so weeks out of the year, but not the week after Town Meeting in March when the dirt turns to mud and the mud, literally, swallows your car.

I'd done my best to ride the ruts, but I was in tears by the time my low-riding Honda Civic hit a sinkhole. How low in the mud was I? I was so low I couldn't even open my door and ended up crawling through my window. There was no one around, aside from a few houses and they looked pretty empty. Lots of cows, though.

BUT...I had my CELL PHONE! The "brick" it was named since that's what it looked like. Except, of course, the battery was dead and this was in the days before car chargers. Always equipped with my outlet charger, I squelched through the mud to a pretty yellow house. No one was home in the middle of the day, so what would be the harm in plugging my phone into an outdoor outlet? I did. The phone lit up and the back door opened.

"That won't work there," a woman informed me. "You're in a valley."

It took me a second to recognize her. And when I did, I wanted to go back and sink in the mud myself. Here I'd been attemptingGreen_mountain_mowing_t to steal electricity from none other than Vermont's most famous Vpt_logo contemporary print artist, Sabra Field, who designed, among other things, Vermont Public Television's distinctive logo. This is what happens when you're in Barnard, Vermont. Nothing but mud, cows and famous artists to deal with. By the way, the son of the guy I was supposed to interview was also some town official. He came by in his truck and his boys, when they were done with lunch, towed me out.

Still, you've got my point about the cell phones, right?

Okay, let's hear your cell phone horror stories and, before I sign off, may I just wish our friend Mary Alice Gorman the very best of luck tomorrow. May your prognosis be excellent, your treatment a piece of cake and your recovery fast. Here's to many, many more years of you being a pain...no, wait,... a BLESSING to us all. We're praying for you, kiddo.

Love, Sarah Baw_2

Pssst! Just want to point out that BUBBLES ALL THE WAY comes out NOVEMBER 7th, although apparently people have already started picking it up at various bookstores.......

October 30, 2006

Brothel, A Guided Tour

by guest mystery author, Barbara Parker.          Go to fullsize image

So tell me. How many of you have been to a brothel? . . .  Anyone? What if somebody offered you a tour? . . . Be honest.

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I couldn't say no either, when  my pal Liz and I went out to Las Vegas recently to see a friend.  Turns out she had a friend in the business, a "working girl" who thought it would be neat to talk to a writer . . . so next thing you know, the four of us are driving west through the desert to the town of Pahrump, where prostitution is legal.  (Not so in Vegas--at least, not openly.)

Dana is in her late fifties, but still a knockout, with long eyelashes, raspberry lips, and black hair piled on top of her head. She and just one other girl work at The Cherry Patch, where the manager is a Vietnam vet in a wheelchair who usually dozes off about midnight, leaving the girls on their own to peer through the window when someone presses the buzzer. Dana says most of their customers are older men or Mexican migrants. In the car she showed us a rate sheet, a single piece of paper decorated with hot pink kiss marks. The minimum is $100, for which you get a hand job, though once she agreed to do a college student who only had $75, because it was his first time, and she felt sorry for him.

Dana used to work The Strip. She says she did Flip Wilson, Lou Rawls, some VIP politicians, a few celebrities who shouldn't be named because they're still alive, and too many rock musicians to remember. Those were the days . . . .  Now she gets by, working three weeks out of four, paying $25 a day room rent, turning over half her earnings to the house. She'll retire someday, but not yet. Her boyfriend in LA drives over in his Corvette the weeks she's off duty.  He wants her to marry him, but she values her independence. We found ourselves liking Dana, for her dry sense of humor, her grit, and a clear-eyed view of human nature.

Coming out of the mountains west of Vegas, the road took us into Pahrump Valley, then south through sun-baked fields with cinder block ranch houses and the occasional cow. We stopped for a photo op at The Chicken Ranch (inspiration for the Broadway show and movie The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.) Next door, behind some trees and under a big American flag is Sheri's Ranch. Except for the posters of semi-nude women over the entrance, you'd think you were looking at a Ramada Inn along the Interstate. Dana used to work at Sheri's, and she'd called ahead to set up our visit.

We went in through the sports bar, found a booth (red vinyl with etched glass dividers) and ordered a beer, which alone was worth the drive. On a weekday afternoon, the place was pretty quiet--a couple of Harley riders shooting pool, a few guys at the bar chatting with the girls, who were as you'd expect: shiny lipstick, hair extensions, thong panties under see-through skirts or hot pants, and heels high enough to induce nosebleed. Nobody seemed curious about us, even though unaccompanied women are a no-no at brothels. I went over to the gift shop and bought a t-shirt for my brother and ogled the toys. Yikes. When I got back to the table, our tour guide was there.

T.J. (her real name) was a blond goddess in buttercream yellow lace panties, a 38DD bra and a short silk robe, standing about six-five in her heels. If I weren't straight, I'd have handed over my charge card. We went through the lobby, a Victorian fantasy with a white grand piano, crystal chandeliers, and a gold-framed rate chart on an easel--$200 minimum. The lobby opened on a long corridor with a row of doors on the right, big picture windows on the left, revealing the pool, the barbecue area, and snow-topped mountains in the distance.  The place smelled aggressively clean, like floral air freshener.

Sheri's welcomes couples, so if you're interested, you can book a room for the weekend. You and T.J. frolic in the tub in The Bubble Room while your guy holds a remote control to the bubble machine. Next door is the Dungeon, the same size but painted black, with fake rocks on the wall. T.J. specializes in S-and-M.  Yeah, I could see her in a black leather bustier, holding a whip. There's a bondage chair, and chains on the wall, and a padded sawhorse thing where you can get tied up and spanked . . . well, no, not you. The Dungeon is for guys.

Back in the hall, a red light went on, and a bell sounded for a line up. A customer had arrived, and the girls had three minutes to get to the lobby. They paraded past us, their eyes flicking in our direction, probably wondering who these old broads were. In an alcove lined with shoe racks, they changed sneakers for high heels, hitched up their strapless tops, and smoothed their miniskirts.

Out of sight of the customer, we peered around the corner and watched the girls smile and cross the room,their shoes thudding on the dark wood. "Hi, I'm Annie."  "Hi, I'm Crystal."  And so on. A thin Asian girl in a red dress was picked, and they came right past us, hand in hand, while we tried to vanish behind a vase of silk flowers. He was a short guy in a plaid shirt and khaki pants.  They came back five minutes later. She'd "walked him." T.J. explained they'd probably been unable to agree on a price.

T.J. showed us her room--flat-screen TV, antique dresser, a pink scarf over the lampshade, a four-poster double bed with a leopard print duvet and dozens of while sheets. A fresh one for each customer because, "I'm a squirter."

Getting under the covers is not permitted. The office watches the negotiations through a videocamera, which is turned off after the deal is struck and the envelope containing the cash or signed charge receipt is sent down the hall.

T.J. told us she has degrees in English lit and theology. She works about half the year and makes over a hundred grand. She is 48 years old. We exclaimed, "You're not!"

"Oh, yes, I am."

Really, though, it's inspiring, to think how long you can look that good. Her beauty secrets: lots of exercise, a spray-on tan, and Crest White Strips.

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On the drive back to Vegas, Dana cracked jokes and related more stories about life in the business. The rest of us were pretty quiet. I'm glad for the experience, but I don't think I'll set a book in Vegas. There will be no murder in a brothel, no reformed working girls, bcause when you get really close, you see that this is their life. Forget the moral qualms.  It's just . . .  boring.  Once you get past the giggles and the glitter, who cares?

Here are some pictures from our adventure in Pahrump

Here's Sheri's Ranch, but it's not a website for the kiddies.


October 29, 2006

Link of the Week

Check out the TLC Link of the Week:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYhCn0jf46U

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and the accompanying link:  http://www.campaignforrealbeauty.ca/

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Have a daughter?  Tell us your story.


October 28, 2006

Movies to Scare the Pants Off You

By Sarah

Scary_movies_1  Here at The Lipstick Chronicles we'll use any excuse to get our pants off and what better way than through a thoroughly haunting movie. We're not talking slasher flicks. (Have you noticed how poorly the Chainsaw Massacre "prequel" has done at the box office?) No, we're talking spooky, chilling, creepy, disconcerting films. The kind of movies that make you jump, that haunt you as you walk up the stairs and go to bed, that fill your dreams with ghosts and whatever, that maybe wake you with a start at 3 a.m. (Everything creepy happens at 3 a.m.)

With these paranormal parameters in mind, may I present The Second Annual Halloween Flick List with some suggestions from a few Tarts to start you off. We hope you'll add your own. Enjoy. If you dare...risk the late fees.

Michele Martinez

THE OTHERS (2001) Chilling horror film set around WW II with Nicole Kidman (okay, that's scary enough. Have you seen her ankles? Pure bone.) as a mother whose children must live in the dark. (Photosensitive, you know.) She begins to believe the house is haunted, natch. No special effects, just good, creepy film making.

Harley Jane Kozak

THE SHINING (1980) Stanley Kubrick's film based on Stephen King's book about an inn keeper and his family who are hired to maintain a deserted mountain hotel during a winter's isolation. So classic, bits of Jack Nicholson's dialog are now part of the common lexicon: "Have you ever thought about my RESPONSIBILITIES?" And, of course, "Here's JOHNNY!" Shudder.

THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999) Three Florida State film students hit it big with this low-budget (I LOVE low budget) faux documentary about, uh, three film students who go into the deep woods (state Blair_witch park) of Maryland to track down a myth about the legendary and murderous Blair Witch. Another that eschews special effects, this movie manages to creep despite the cheery sun-dappled forest floor and your constant temptation to scream, "Follow the stream, you stupid kids!" In the end, you almost wish their fate upon them. Bring Kleenex. Your nose may be running.

THE HAUNTING (1963) No, no, no. Not the new one. Yuck! Special effects do not creepiness make. Tone and directing do. But creepy tone and directing are harder to achieve. (Ah ha!) Harley and I both agree that this is one of the oddly spookiest movies, largely because it stuck to creepy Shirley Jackson's novella The Haunting of Hill House. Several adults, some good looking, summoned to a haunted house as part of a psychological experiment. Naturally, things and walls go awry. Weird Julie Harris and suggestive lesbian liaisons are enough to keep you under the covers for reasons best known only to yourself.


GHOSTBUSTERS (1984) Honestly, Nancy's just hopeless.

SARAH STROHMEYER (Whoo, hoo! Finally, it's my turn.)

THE SIXTH SENSE (1999) Not only is this movie creepy, it is brilliant and touching, even if it stars Bruce Willis. (Oh, go buy yourself a toupee already.) If you haven't seen this movie....Wait, you haven't seen this movie? Prepare to want to watch it again, right away. Famous quote: "I see dead people." Yeah, me too. They're called co-workers.

The_haunting THE HAUNTING (1963) Shoot. Harley called that one already.

SLEEPY HOLLOW (1999) Tim Burton pauses from using oddly drawn characters to feature his oddly drawn pet Johnny Depp in this atmospheric remake of the Upper New York State legend. This ain't your mother's Legend of Sleepy Hollow and it's one movie where special effects (could there be any more mist?) really do add to the feel. Witches. Big trees. Sex. And Christina Ricci as a blond.

DRACULA (1931) Slow moving with strange unexplained pauses, odd villagers and vampire vixens in slinky dresses, this movie never fails to chill. Bela Lugosi got the part at the last minute after Lon Cheney died of cancer. Black and white, of course. Dwight Frye steals the show. "Rats, master. Rats!" This is the one I'll be watching on Halloween.

Okay...We know there are plenty more out there.  Also, DON'T FORGET TO TURN BACK YOUR CLOCKS. We get an extra hour tonight, so why not watch two?


October 27, 2006

Halloween Costumes

Halloween Costumes

By Rebecca the Bookseller, Halloween Junkie

I love Halloween.  What's not to love?  Candy all over the place and the chance to dress up in costumes and walk around outside at night.

The thing is, I dress up as something like Minnie Mouse, or Professor McGonigle.  Basic, family friendly costumes.  And when I walk around at night, it's in my neighborhood, with other families.  No shots (OK, the occasional harried Dad will ask for a beer, but other than that, not really) no money changing hands, no quick trips to the parking lot or the car, if you follow me, and if you read Elaine's blog on Wednesday, I think you do.

Costume_nurse According to national surveys, I'm in the minority.  Most women who dress up on Halloween  choose costumes that are, well, trampy.  I don't mean they dress up as Hobos; I mean sluts.  If you go out tonight or tomorrow night, take a look around and you'll see what I mean.  The guys, according to the survey, view this trend as a miraculous sign that society is evolving,  They look forward to Halloween almost as much as the Super Bowl.  "Who is that hot chick at the end of the bar wearing less fabric than Lil' Kim at a bail hearing?  Holy shit, it's the town librarian.  I didn't know she was also a nurse.  God bless her.  Let's buy her some shooters."

Exhibit A: Fredericks of Hollywood.  The Madam of the great House of Sexy Outfits was almost out Halloween_sexy_costume_1_1 of business when they were selling only indoor apparel.  They are now bursting with business thanks to a re-focus on Halloween Costumes.  They're not just for October any more either, but that's a different blog.  A quick trip to the website, and you will be blown away by the selection of  Halloween Costumes . One is trashier than the next.  Any normal costume can be magically transformed into something you could lend to Demi Moore if she every does a sequel to Striptease.  By the by, Burt is not getting any younger, so I'd greenlight that project if I were them.  Otherwise, it's just another 'Stripper With the Heart of Gold and the Old Rich Guy" story, and really, haven't we seen enough of those already on The Disney Channel?

It's not just the women either.  Granted, the best sexy male costumes are in Greenwich Village during Angel_aug_2004_1 the annual Halloween Parade, but I wouldn't mind seeing something like this a little more often.

Let me make it clear that the people who dress up like this once a year are not jezebels in real life.  They just play one at the party once a year.  Somehow, a nice pagan tradition related to warding off soul-sucking demons has become carte blanche to dress as a ho with no long-term consequences.  Viva America.

On the off chance that you missed the shipping date for Fredericks, here are the other most popular costumes this year:

For Men:  Number One, hands down: The Crocodile Hunter - yes, complete with partially embedded sting ray. 

For Women: Pirates and wenches, cleavage dependent, obviously.

So what's your costume?  While you're thinking, here are a couple of Halloween Links to keep you busy.  Unlike the photos, both are family friendly:

Carve Your Own Pumpkin

Pumpkin Bowling

Have fun - and remember kids, play it safe this Halloween: check you candy and no glove, no love.

October 26, 2006

Of Mice and Men (and Men), a guest blog

Darnit, the mystery world never has cool controversies like romance novelists do.  Sure, we have our petty squabbles, but they're never about sex (the act, that is, because we seem to bring up the gender thing pretty often) so maybe we're a little dull by comparison. 

To remedy that, today the Tarts welcome romance writer Anne Stuart, who finds herself at the center of a Category 2 hurricane with the publication of her new book, COLD AS ICE.  Believe us, it ain't the least bit cold.

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Here I was, a mild-mannered writer of romantic suspense, doing do what I do best.  Writing romantic suspense. I had absolutely no intention of causing a fuss, inciting arguments, shocking the more fragile of my readers. I just wanted to tell a story. The story that became COLD AS ICE.

It was time to write a series. No, cancel that. It was way past time, but since it was such a smart, career-savvy thing to do, then of course I wouldn't do it. But when I wrote BLACK ICE, I loved it so much that I couldn't leave that world. God know I tried--writing pages and pages of false starts, but everything kept sounding like BLACK ICE, so finally I accepted my fate gracefully. I would write a follow-up. And because there was only one character left standing to serve as hero, he got tapped.

Now, Peter Jensen was a fascinating man. As cool and deadly as Bastian, the hero of the original book, BLACK ICE, he also works undercover for The Committee. The only problem was, I had already established that he was spending time in the bed of his male employer as part of his cover. You can't go back and change a book that's already in print. And you can't just ignore it. Besides, what was the big deal?

It made perfect sense to me. When someone's a mole, a spy, undercover in any sense, then their job is to take on that role. No one blinks when an undercover operative beds someone of the opposite sex in the line of duty. They kill, they make friends with bad people and they betray them. Why should they suddenly become squeamish about sleeping with someone of the same sex?

Peter Jensen is most definitely not squeamish. He's cold and deliberate and can make his body do anything he wants it to do. He can make love to a woman or a man, kill a woman or a man, usually without breaking a sweat.

The reaction to that part of his character has been widespread, even before the book came out, and it's been divided into two camps. The first, and we hope to god please please please the smaller group, who are disgusted and horrified or at the very least say "not in my backyard---er--romance novel." The majority (please please please) love the idea of a hero who goes to such extremes. My heroes always tend to be over the top--I call it my "men who kill and women who love them" phase. But this time, simply because of the vagaries of the plot, I seemed to have surprised everyone.

I wouldn't have changed it even if I could have. I suppose he could have come up with some sort of excuse for his previous behavior, say it just looked like he was having an affair with a man. Maybe in the bad old days my editors would have tried to make me.

Except my editors, god bless them, know not to mess with me. The important thing, when you're writing something that's potentially shocking, is to do it because the book calls for it. You don't do it for attention, or to amuse yourself (thought I do find the fuss pretty amusing), you don't do it to cause buzz or get attention.

You do it because that's what the book and the character call for.  Anything else is an insult to the book and to the readers.

So the hero of a romantic suspense novel has sex with another man. Big deal. Trust me, he has even better sex with the heroine, fabulous enough for a happy ending.

And that's what romance is all about, isn't it?

Anne Stuart              Go to fullsize image                                

October 25, 2006

Hooked on Books

By Elaine Viets

The names have been changed to protect the guilty. But the story is true. I heard it from a bookseller.

The bookstore was small: One floor, no music department, and a café with maybe a dozen tables. The café sold sandwiches, sweets, and six-dollar coffees loaded (or larded) with sugar and whipped cream. The bookstore was in a mixed neighborhood and the customers included some rich, some poor, and a big wedge of folks in the middle.

The café tables were always taken. Computer geeks bought one coffee, opened their laptops and hogged a table for hours. College students did their homework and debated great issues. Adult women shared laughs and outrageous desserts with female friends.

And couples met there for the first time. A bookstore café was a safe place for a first date made through the Internet or the personal ads. The couple could check out one another, have a coffee and a chat. If the encounter didn’t work, one would slip out the door.

The staff grew used to seeing women waiting alone at the tables, looking at their watches, and nervous men pacing the magazine section and watching every woman who came into the café.

Most of the people in the bookstore had a certain look, sort of rumpled intellectual: good clothes, but not flashy. Muted colors. Not too much makeup for the women. Except for one. Her makeup was a little dramatic. Her clothes were a little brighter and tighter. We’re not talking rhinestones and sequins. Just slightly too much. The woman had long blond hair and a body going from lush to matronly.

She was quiet, like everyone else. She usually took a table off to the side, and sipped her coffee while she waited for her friends. She had a lot of friends. Men friends. Who didn’t look like readers.

The woman would meet the man and talk for a bit. Then the couple would slip outside. After awhile, the woman would return alone, and meet another man.

"It took awhile," the bookseller told me. "But we finally figured it out. We had a hooker in the bookstore café."

"You’re joking," I said.

"I am not," the bookseller insisted. "She had the perfect set-up. No hanging around a dangerous street corner in thigh-high boots and a bunny-fur jacket. She met her men in a respectable place, where other women checked out their dates. She had a chance to observe them.

"The men had the perfect excuse to meet her. They could tell their wives or girlfriends, ‘I’m going to the bookstore.’ What woman would object? What place could be more innocent? No sleazy motels and telltale matchbooks. They used his car in our parking lot. He bought something and made sure his wife saw the bookstore bag, and he had the perfect alibi."

"Gives new meaning to ‘book lover,’ " I said. "Her business was good for your business."

"Not really," the bookseller said. "This was not the thirty-dollar hardcover crowd. The guys bought a magazine or a two-dollar remaindered book."

"So what happened?" I asked.

"We asked the hooker to leave. We said we’d call the police if she ever met another john in our store. We never saw her again. Her customers disappeared with her. That was that."

You have to admire the woman. If you exclude the moral issues, she showed remarkable marketing ability. She found a clean, well-lighted place for her small business.

If only she hadn’t been quite so obvious, she’d still be sitting in the café.

After all, she wasn’t the first prostitute in a bookstore. With a little skill, you can stay in the bookstores forever – as a bestselling author.

October 24, 2006

Armageddon as Brought to You by People Magazine

By Sarah
I've never been a fan of the Book of Revelation. Too poorly written. Too crazy. Though I have to admit a personal fondness for the concept of the Whore of Babylon. In my next life, that's who I'm going to be. Or maybe just for Halloween. I haven't decided.

Still, I don't need John of Patmos's bestseller to know when Armageddon is around the corner. It's here. Oh, yes. And I'm not talking devastating earthquakes and floods and global warming and Mideast wars. No, my friends. I'm talking about what happened when I opened my People Magazine this weekend and found proof positive that we are living in the End Times.

Danielle Steele "parfum." I kid you not.

Danielle_steele And there was Danielle looking as thin and not old as she's supposed to be, her long flowing hair trailing down the back of her (clearly) Christian Dior gown. Is this the future of commercial literature - perfume? What's next? Stephen King Halloween Costumes? (Call me, Steve, we'll talk.) Nicholas Sparks Kleenex? J. K. Rowling jelly beans. Well, uhm, yes. I guess so. Skip that.

Okay, we won't delve into to the ethics of authors pushing perfume, or the fabulous business sense entailed, since reading and smelling are so, well, compatible. I, personally, am issuing lavender scented candles to accompany my upcoming hardcover THE SLEEPING BEAUTY PROPOSAL. As for BUBBLES ALL THE WAY (comes out in two weeks!), I'm thinking Sarah Strohmeyer Pierogies. Onions. Potatoes. Boiled dough. Is that not me? Or should I go with funnel cake? Tough choice. Which is more fattening?

But wait. Author perfume isn't the only Armageddon sign I've been seeing. How about the fact that nearly every day now some wealthy white female celebrity is adopting (stealing?) babies from Africa. I mean, really, this has to stop. I am especially irked that Madonna hired - hired! - a nanny to whisk the poor child out of the Dark Continent and bring him to her vast, cold estate in the English countryside where she awaited in black leather on a cross. Hide your puppies because Cruella Deville has a passport.

Another Armageddon sign: Owen Wilson steadily dating Kate Hudson, eating brunch and reading theKate_and_owen  Sunday newspaper while she plays with her baby. No, no, no and no. First of all, Owen, you're supposed to be out partying all night, not eating egg white omelets with a baby stroller nearby in the bright early morning. Where's the hangover? Where's the part about how you forget her name after a fabulous night of hot and sweaty horse sex? Honestly, I am very disappointed. Now, get back to bed.

Speaking of the Whore of Babylon, do we have to look any further than our very mortal, very slutty Anna Nicole Smith? The last dish - that she slept with a millionaire, inquired after his wealth, and revealed to him that she was pregnant only to learn he'd had a vasectomy (doh!) - might as well include the Seven Horsemen of the Apocalypse (and, no, I'm not talking George Clooney's rat pack).

What I want to know is, did she run out of money? Because last I checked, Anna Nicole Smith had just convinced the US Supreme Court to let her pursue half of her deceased husband's $1.6 billion Anna_nicole_smith estate. Of course she never lived with J. Howard Marshall, the oil billionaire, whom she married when he was 89 and she was 26. I don't care if she lived with him. I want to know if he got that one wedding night of glory with the former Vickie Lynn Hogan, a wedding night worth approximately $800 million, perhaps the most expensive hook up in history.

I won't get into the other signs of Armageddon: K-Fed working as an actor, Paul McCartney accused of lying around naked and drunk, threatening his second wife with broken wine glasses (oh, please.) There are way too many indicators the cosmos is unraveling to list (though, do feel free.)

I suppose the only thing to do now is either build a bomb shelter or pray. Pray hard. Because if K-Fed gets an Oscar, this world is over.The only good news is, it'll be taking Britney with it.


October 23, 2006

Ricky Bobby, I want you!

by Michele Martinez

I feel like a traitor to my sex admitting this, but I like guy flicks.

First of all, I love intense, violent, testosterone-driven movies.  Not slasher films, mind you, but artsy ones with a bloodthirsty bent.  I am hardly alone in this predilection, which is probably why I am not really, truly ashamed of it.  If I come out and say that I think Unforgiven is the greatest American film of the last two decades, I'm in good company.  AFI put it on the list of the 100 best American films of the 20th century, along with other blood-drenched masterpieces like The Godfather, Taxi Driver and Fargo (which is hilarious and feminist and features a guy getting put through a wood chipper.  What's not to love?)

Same thing with tv.  Why do I love The Sopranos so much?  Yes, for its rich character development and flawless evocation of a fascinating subculture.  But also for its fearless depiction of brutality.  Maybe this comes out of my past as a prosecutor doing a lot of violent gang and narcotics cases.  This stuff resonates with me.  It happens in real life.  We love to ignore it.  So I appreciate a director who can depict it without pulling any punches (so to speak).  When The Sopranos finally ends, and we're all sitting around making our picks of all-time greatest scene, I'm voting for the one where Ralph Cifaretto   beats the prostitute who's pregnant with his child to death in the parking lot of the Bada Bing for no real reason.  Why?  Because it's relentlessly honest.  This happens to women out there.  You can't look, but you can't look away.

Am I the only woman who feels this way?

But okay, here's the part I truly blush to admit.  I like dumbass, goofy guy flicks too, even though some of them are nothing short of sexist.  Not that I don't love a great romantic comedy, but they're not making those like they used to.  (I just watched When Harry Met Sally for at least the tenth time the last time I was at the dentist.  Now there's a move you can't see too often.  Harley, you were amazing, and what cheekbones!)  A lot of romantic comedies these days plain suck.  I was in hotel room recently searching through the "recent releases" category on the in-room video menu, and I could stomach the thought of Talladega Nights way better than The Break-Up.  Is that just because I'm sick and tired of Jennifer Aniston's love life, or is there really something wrong with me?  How sick is this, but these guys make me laugh:


So help me out here.  Confess your secret video vice, and show me that I'm not alone.  (No pornos, please.  We don't need to know!)

October 22, 2006

Link of the Week: Nora Ephron

  This has been around all week, but if you haven't read it straight from the keyboard of the incomparable Nora Ephron, go here for our link of the week.

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Nobody does it like Nora.  We prostrate ourselves before her.

Here's the painting in question.  And, yes, that's a penis, isn't it?

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