Friday, March 31, 2006

Slacker's Blues

Okay, so there hasn't been much in the way of posts this week and there's not gonna be a book review today.

This doesn't happen too often to me, but I've seriously had the week from hell so no time to read OR write.

I'm in the middle of THREE books right now and haven't made much progress on any of them this week. And behind them is a nice pile of new stuff sitting on my bedside table just waiting for me to have some down time. (insert picture of me laughing uproariously)

But the three I'm currently reading should make some good review fodder if I can ever get them FINISHED.

So, be patient with me and have a good weekend everyone!


P.S. To the person who dare, DARED! to write a pro-LSU comment on my last blog entry, I offer the following:

"Sons of Westwood"


"Mighty Bruins"


Oh, and also...bite me! ;-)

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Un-Book Review

Sorry, no review today. I've just been so busy this week that I haven't had time to read as much as usual. I'm in the middle of two books, but haven't gotten far enough to review them yet so I'll have to save them for next week.

In other news, I have a couple more songs for the "embarrassing mix tape":

35. "Kiss Me" - Tin Tin. Another "scene-setting" song. I can just see myself at the UCLA Sig Ep "Freezer" party dancing with Tony A. to this song. He was one of my boyfriend's roommates and since I loved to dance and my boyfriend was not all that fond of it, Tony would always find me when this song came on at parties because he knew I loved to dance to it. He was an awesome dancer, too and SOOOO good-looking. I always kinda secretly hoped he'd ask me out after the boyfriend and I broke up. Sadly, he never did. But he was a great dance partner.

36. "Mickey" - Tony Basil. In true girl-cat-fight form, this song caused a big feud between the drill team (which I was co-captain of my senior year when this was going on) and the cheerleaders. You have to understand that at my high school, the drill team was by far the cooler group. Not only were we the better dancers, but we were state champions and garnered the lion's share of the attention at the football games - especially during the halftime show. So, the cheerleaders? Not our biggest fans. The summer of 1982, both groups were at the high school campus working on routines for the various camps they'd be attending before school started and both groups happened to pick this song to use. Of course, each group accused the other of copying their idea. Looking back, I'm sure it was just a case of it being THE popular song at the time and fitting well with both our styles. But, at the time, I was convinced that we'd had the idea first and the cheerleaders ripped us off. I do know that they stole some of the choreography because I know my own moves and I know who I taught them to and it wasn't the cheerleaders. Anyway, it got so bad that the faculty had to step in and decide which group could use the song (why we both couldn't use it I don't remember, but there you go) and they awarded the song to the cheerleaders because it was a more "cheerleaderish" song (see the video if you don't believe me). Of course, we were pissed because camp was only a few weeks away and we'd been working on that routine all summer. But, we rallied, picked a new song ("Crazy Train" by Ozzie Osbourne") and I worked feverishly to choreograph it and we went on to take first place at camp and then perform the number at the first pep assembly of the fall where we received a standing ovation that went on so long that the assembly ended before the cheerleaders got to perform. Ahhh, sweet justice. Frankly, I think the "rocker" clique was just so happy to finally have something at the assembly featuring "their" kind of music instead of KROQ stuff that they just went berserk. The cheerleaders didn't speak to any drill team member for the rest of the year. Which, looking back on it, was not a great loss.

I miss those days. I think it's time to take a dance class or something again although I'm sure my knees will not thank me for it LOL! Y'know, I might still have that "Crazy Train" tape somewhere and I KNOW I still remember most of the routine. It scares me to think what could come of that knowledge LOL!

Happy weekend all!


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Walk of Shame

So, I'm embarrassed. Really and truly and horrifically embarrassed.

Turns out I've been completely bamboozled by an ebay bead seller known as "Austin Hamilton" that I thought was legitimate. I've had friends who've bought from this seller previously, the seller has good feedback, I've been happy with all the beads I've received which were reasonably priced and arrived on time. They also looked good and exactly as pictured.

The only problem is...they're not original lampwork. They're mass produced FAKES. Not only that, they are NOT kiln annealed even though it states in each of the auctions that they ARE. So that's a direct lie.

This all means that I now have about 8 sets of completely useless lampwork. I can't use these beads in my designs because I have no way of knowing when they'll break. Notice I say "when" and not "if" because glass beads that are not properly annealed WILL eventually break due to internal stress in the glass. It's only a matter of time. Could be 5 minutes. Could be 10 years (though I doubt it). The point is, I cannot in good conscience use these beads in anything that I will resell.

I'm beyond embarrassed. I'm pissed. PISSED!

The worst part is, I consider myself to be a knowledgeable lampwork buyer. I've seen the typical fake Chinese stuff and it's easy to separate it from the genuine American artist level beads. That's the problem - THESE beads do NOT exhibit the visual characteristics of "bad" beads. They are quite even in shape and size, the details are perfect (good scrollwork, flowers even height and matching, etc) and there are no obvious bubbles, cracks or other flaws. My sets don't even have bead release still in the holes.

Frankly, if I hadn't read the truth on this blog, I would never have known the difference until the beads started breaking and I had unhappy customers.

It's too late to get refunds, but I will never buy from this seller again and I'm taking down all of his pictures that I featured in my blog.

So, there you go. I will now do the official walk of shame. In fact, the only way I'm making it through the day is to use my fabulous Aveda Blue Oil

At least SOME things are worth the money!


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Friday Book Review - on Tuesday

Friday again? Already? Okay, it’s not Friday any more but it was when I originally drafted this entry so just go with me here, people.

This week sure has flown by – probably owing to the fact that Ryan is sick again. I don’t know why, but that seems to just eat up time like my family scarfed up my chocolate peppermint pie at Christmas this past year.

So, without further ado (or mention of fattening desserts – although I KNOW you want a piece of that pie now, don’t you?) here are the books for the week.

Because I love Mary Janice Davidson’s “Undead” series so much, I decided to take a chance on some of her other works. Yeah, I know, she’s a romance writer and that’s not usually my genre, but I was hoping for something else as good as Betsy Taylor, Vampire Queen.

”Derik’s Bane” is not that book. While Davidson keeps up her trademark dialogue of snappy repartee between the characters, that’s about all this book has going for it. Although not the brightest bulb in the bunch, there’s something inherently likeable about Betsy. I can’t say the same for Derek and Sara in this book.

They try, but they’re just amazingly stupid. I mean really, really like drool-on-themselves stupid. And the plot is non-existent – it’s basically a big excuse to get them in bed together…and yeah, I know, it’s romance novel, but make it be SOMEWHERE in the universe of believability. I mean, I’m pretty good with the whole WSD thing (hey, when I was a kid, I insisted on buying my doll clothes a size larger than my doll actually was because she was going to “grow into” them) so if *I* don’t buy it, then you know it’s off the charts on the unbelievability scale.

So, skip Davidson’s “Wyndham Werewolves” series (of which “Derik’s Bane” is a part) and just wait for the next “Undead” novel featuring Betsy Taylor, Queen of Shoes…er…Vampires.

Fortunately, I was able to rinse the rancid taste of that disaster out of my brain by diving into the latest Simon R. Green “Nightside” novel, "Sharper Than A Serpent's Tooth". John Taylor, Suzie Shooter, Dead Boy, Razor Eddie and the rest of the bizarre cast of characters, archetypes, monsters, gods, Gods and other twisted and undefined beings are back in action. Their mission – to defend the Nightside from Lilith, Taylor’s uber-powerful, rampaging mother, whose idea of fun it is to lay waste to anything and everything she can so it can be re-made in her image. Taylor and crew, as you might imagine, take great exception to this. This book winds up a lot of plotlines from earlier in the series, has a satisfying amount of action and a believable and conclusive ending. Yet, there’s still just enough left unresolved that it’s quite possible there COULD (oh please oh please oh please) be another “Nightside” book in the future. I really enjoyed this book and thought it was much more satisfying than the previous installment. Actually, they really should’ve been one big book IMO.
If I had one tiny complaint – it would be that I didn’t quite buy the transformation of The Collector’s personality. There’s one line of dialogue that’s supposed to explain it, but it just wasn’t quite enough for me. Still, it’s not really that big a deal.

And just because I feel like indulging in a little torture, I had to shop for shoes I can’t afford. Some day, when I have oodles of money, these shoes will be mine. Oh yes, they WILL be mine. And these, too. And these. And these.

In fact, I think it’s fair to say that IF I ever have any money, I will go on a shoe-buying binge that will make Immelda Marcus look like an icon of restraint.

C’est tout pour maintenant, mes amis.

A la prochaine!


Monday, March 20, 2006

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Okay, so I’m kind of in love with this dress, but can’t decide which version to get – the green or the black and white.

I also saw these AMAZING shoes in an ad this weekend in the March issue of “In Style” magazine and I MUST HAVE THEM NOW! It doesn’t show very well in the picture on this site, but the flower on the wedge heel is beaded. I just have to decide what color to get. Should I be “safe” and go with the brown which will go with everything, or should I be a little more daring and go for the blue or the orange which will probably not go with very much in my wardrobe or last for more than a season but are both really, really, really super-cute?

Decisions, decisions.

In other news, I had a rude bookstore encounter again. People, what is UP with this? The bookstore is supposed to be my safe haven and yet it’s suddenly been invaded by dimwitted aliens with no manners. At least there was no butt-in-the-air this time. This encounter was a group of snotty teenage girls…and I mean snotty like the girls at the “popular” table at lunch in high school who glared at anyone who entered the proscribed “zone” around their table who wasn’t part of their group. They’d decided to sit on the floor with their backs up against the books thus totally blocking any hope of any actual paying book customers (i.e. ME) from finding any books that might possibly be in that section. Again, this happened in the sci-fi section which I don’t understand – I would’ve thought teen romances or the magazine section to be the more appropriate venue for this group, but whatever.

So, I walk up to try to peer around them at the books thinking they’ll get the hint and move, but NOOOOOOOO! They continue on with the world’s most inane conversation about people named “Chad” and “Sophia” and I gather that Chad is gay and Sophia’s a bitch but Chad is really cute so it’s okay to overlook that he’s gay and maybe he’s not REALLY that gay and would still date girls out of curiosity but not Sophia because, as previously mentioned, she’s a bitch. And hey, when did Valley Girl speak come back in vogue? I told you people not to let gaucho pants come back. Now we’ve got to endure EVERYTHING 80’s that will come back with them – including Val Speak. Like, totally gag me with a spoon.

Wait, I lost my train of thought. Exposure to inane conversation for too long is kind of like radiation and makes my brain leak out my ears. Where was I? Oh yeah, Chad and Sophia – the wonder couple. So now, I’m trying to protect myself from the gene-mutating effects of being too close to this group for too long and at the same time trying to peek around the girls on the floor while resisting the rapidly-becoming-overwhelming urge to just kick them out of the way. Then I think about going for the manager but that worked so well in the LAST rude bookstore encounter that I decide to just clear my throat and politely say “excuse me, would you mind shifting over a bit so I can look at that shelf.”

The entire group busts up laughing but does move. And by move I mean they shift an infinitesimal amount across the floor – just enough to allow me to SEE the shelves but still have to almost trip over them to actually get to the books. I’m not sure what was so funny as to make them laugh that hard, but by then I’m having a serious geeky high school flashback of the hive-inducing variety so I just lean over to get my book and plan to slink quietly away when the entire group gets up (nearly knocking me aside in the process) and saunters over towards the magazine section (I TOLD you that’s where they belonged), but as they walk away, one of them turns around and mutters “bite me, bitch!” under her breath at me.

Now, is it just me or WTF???

But, I console myself with the fact that one day, they too will be 40 years old and will run into a group of teenagers who will totally, totally diss them in public and wherever I am, I’ll know about it and laugh myself silly.

Speaking of aging, here’s a little tidbit I found interesting. I was at the nail salon this weekend getting a pedicure and reading “Us” weekly. It’s one of the few vices I indulge in – reading trashy magazines at the nail salon. In the mag is an article on Teri Hatcher. Part of the article consists of a couple of close-ups of Teri’s face – one recent and one from a year or two ago and comments from a plastic surgeon about whether or not her claims that she’s “given up” botox, collagen, etc. are true. Now, she has wrinkles and crow’s feet in both pictures. They might be slightly more pronounced in the more recent picture but they are definitely there in both. The surgeon says that she may’ve given up botox and collagen, but she’s probably replaced them with something else because “no one looks THAT good at her age without help.” The article says Hatcher is 41.

Now, here’s what I found interesting. I’m going to be 41 in June – that’s 3 short months away so I think I can consider Hatcher and myself to be “of an age.” I’ve never had botox or collagen or surgery or anything else done to my face. I just keep out of the sun as much as possible (okay, the 80’s don’t count) and wash my makeup off at night. I’m still using the same soap and astringent I did when I was in high school. I have added a VERY light moisturizer that I just put on my cheekbones because that’s the only dry area I have. I HAVE NO WRINKLES WHATSOEVER AND CERTAINLY NO CROW’S FEET. And no, I’m not making that up.

So, either this plastic surgeon doesn’t know what the eff he’s talking about (which is REALLY scary) or there’s no way Hatcher is 41.

But either way – my face is amazing. All hail me!

And yeah, I know, consider the source. “Us” isn’t exactly the height of factual journalism but I still thought it was an interesting bit o’ news.

Let’s see, what else? Oh yeah. Didn’t get the book review posted on Friday because my son was sick so I stayed home and didn’t get on the computer. It’s written, though. Will probably post it tomorrow.

AND, I finished the flame bracelet! {insert image of KJ turning cartwheels…as if she could really do them} And yes, I (ever the insane one) started right into the next bead embroidered bracelet project although hopefully, this one will take advantage of what I learned in the first project and not be such a nightmare. Fingers crossed.

Oh, I finished two necklaces for my custom order (remember the whole “pink” thing?) They’re pretty darned awesome if I do say so myself (and I do). I didn’t have the appropriate clasps for them, though so I can’t scan them until I hit the beadstore and pick up the right finishing touches. So, I guess technically, they’re not actually finished, but ‘tis the work of but a moment to zap a clasp on (yes, that’s the technical term – “zap a clasp”) so I consider them finished. Now I have to make some mauve necklaces to go with the customer’s other two sweaters. I sure hope she likes some of these!

That’s all. Have a great night everyone!


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Beware of evil (and also of killer shoes)

I’m once again totally ripping off the blog of my friend, KD, for a nifty idea. She found this cool little “how evil are you” quiz and I just had to take it. Turns out, I’m really not that evil. Only a lousy 26%.

You Are 26% Evil

A bit of evil lurks in your heart, but you hide it well.
In some ways, you are the most dangerous kind of evil.

Guess I’ll never be Alexis Carrington Colby Dexter Dexter Rohan.

On the upside, this means I don’t have to wear ginormous hats, either.

Oh, and here are a couple more additions to my “embarrassing songs” list. I just can’t stop doing this for some reason LOL!

32. “Centerfold” – J. Geils Band. Just always kinda liked it.

33. "Hot for Teacher" - Van Halen. Okay, this is more about the video than the song - I think the little boys back-talking the teacher are hilarious. "I don't FEEL tardy."

34. “White Wedding” – Billy Idol. This is one of those “zaps you instantly back to a particular memory” song.

Let me set the scene for you:

June, 1983.

Senior class trip to Hawaii. I’ve just graduated and had my 18th birthday. Did I mention that the drinking age in Hawaii that year was still 18 (not 21)?

You can probably guess where this is going.

Bobby McGee’s restaurant in Honolulu.

I’m wearing a halter neck dress with a wide skirt (think Marilyn Monroe in “The 7 Year Itch” type dress) that, since it’s the 80’s, has vivid black and white diagonal strips and then about 2” of red around the hem and along the edges of the halter and a red belt.

The shoes? So glad you asked. They are 3.5” fire engine red pumps with tiny little bows on the back. If you look up “f--- me pumps” in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of these shoes. I weigh 116 lbs. I’ve got blonde hair and an amazing tan (like I said, it was the 80's - we didn't know from SPF yet).

Now, I grew up in a “dry” house – never tasted alcohol in my life. But, at Bobby McGee’s, I discover the world’s MOST fabulous drink – The Blue Hawaii. Seriously, this stuff is like the nectar of the gods and I have oh, lemmee see, three or four thousand of them while I’m sitting there with my friends eating dinner. Felt totally fine. Thought to myself “what’s the big deal about alcohol…I feel fine.”

Then I stood up.

Fortunately for me, we had the world’s CUTEST waiter and he was right there with his hand under my elbow to prevent me from falling on my ass and making a complete fool out of myself. Now, all of us had been flirting shamelessly with him all night but for some reason (hmm, I don’t know, the alcohol maybe?) he singled me out. Probably the ONLY time in my life I’ve been in a place with a bunch of girlfriends and been singled out by the cute guy. 99.9% of the time, I’m the official geek magnet to the point where my friends end up taking up protective positions around me to keep the losers away.

But I digress.

Bobby McGee’s wasn’t just a restaurant – it had a full disco inside it. Mr. Cute Waiter mentioned that if we hung around in the disco another 30 minutes, he’d be off work and would call some friends to come join us so we could all dance. So, being young, stupid, drunk and suckers for cute waiters, we agreed. I spent all night dancing with this guy and had the best time EVER!

Last song of the evening, he had the DJ play “White Wedding” and dedicate it to me. Wow. Seriously, this night ranks right up there as one of the best of my life. I had the hangover from hell the next morning, but I didn’t care. I spent the day lying on the beach anyway so had plenty of time to recover.

I love, love, love this song.

And, because you can never take too many silly quizzes, I found this on the same site as the “how evil are you” quiz:

Your Brain's Pattern

You have a dreamy mind, full of fancy and fantasy.
You have the ability to stay forever entertained with your thoughts.
People may say you're hard to read, but that's because you're so internally focused.
But when you do share what you're thinking, people are impressed with your imagination.

Pretty accurate in my case…which surprises me as I usually don’t go for “brown” but I was seduced by the sparkliness and almost bead-like quality of the image LOL!

Yeah, I know, this is kind of a silly blog entry today. I blame it on my oh-so-cool new clothes – kicky flared denim panel skirt, chocolate brown shirt (in size 14!!!), new gold and brown dangly, shiny earrings and the piece de resistance: my new Via Spiga slingbacks.

Okay, so they’re not the red pumps from 1983, but then, hey, I don’t have 18 year old legs any more, either. But still, thanks to the power of the new shoes, the 40-year-old legs are not lookin' too shabby, even if I do say so myself.

Come to think of it, I wonder whatever happened to those red pumps? Oh wait, freshman year of college, I let one of my pledge sisters borrow them to wear to our sorority's "Jailhouse Rock" party where they sadly met a tragic end.

Y'see, that party had an open bar. And when I say "open" I mean as in there was no bartender (can't remember if the guy just flaked out early in the evening or if the social chairman forgot to hire one or what). So people (and when I say "people" I mean some fraternity guys who were there as some of the girls' dates) jumped behind the bar and mixed their own drinks.

The result was pretty much total and complete chaos including spilled drinks (a LOT of spilled drinks - like a lake's worth) and I'm sure various other (bodily) substances which I'm trying hard not to remember all over the floor. This "liquid" mixed with the construction dust on the floor of the building (we rented out an actual television set that was set up like the inside of a prison) to create the world's most disgusting and (I later learned when trying to salvage what was left of the red shoes) unremoveable (irremoveable?) cement.

Dude, seriously, this stuff was like NASA grade cement. I tried everything to get it off the shoes - which considering I knew what some of the probable components were and considering my incredibly low tolerance for anything even remotely "icky" shows that I was pretty seriously dedicated to saving those shoes. Alas and alack, it was not to be. I had to send them to the great shoe closet in the sky. It was a difficult decision, but it was for the best. They were suffering needlessly.

But again, I digress most outrageously.

My new shoes are tres cool and totally "make" today's outfit. Props to Stacy London of TLC's "What Not to Wear" for teaching me the secret to buying/wearing pointy-toed shoes w/o needing foot surgery.


P.S. The bead-embroidered “flame” bracelet is ALMOST done! I’m just doing the picot edging on it and have only about half left to go. Now, the only problem is going to be how to get a picture of the darned thing since there’s no way it’s going to fit in the scanner now and my digital camera sucks big green ones when it comes to taking jewelry pics.

Mountains it does fine with. Small detailed items…not so much.

Hey Jenie – if I spring for tea wouldja come take some pictures for me????

Monday, March 13, 2006

More embarrassing songs

Thanks to a new radio station in town called "Jack," I'm continuing to discover new songs for my embarrassing mix tape:

29. "Tenderness" - General Public. Ah, the 80's. I miss high school. Well, okay, I don't miss the homework and the stupid cliques and the cat fights and the smoke-filled bathrooms and you know, like all the DRAMA, and stuff. But I miss the music.

30. "Magic Carpet Ride" - Steppenwolf. Dude, this is like the best song EVER. Crank it!

31. "Take on Me" - a-ha. This song just totally takes me back to Spring Break my freshman year in college. And no, I won't share details.

Hope everyone had a good weekend. We actually had HAIL here! It was cool. Hey, I live in So Cal. We hardly ever get any real "weather" so I have to pay attention when we do!


Friday, March 10, 2006

Friday Book Review and other stuff.

So, it’s time for the book review again, but before we get to that, I wanted to talk about a couple of other things.

First, I have a few additions to my ”most embarrassing mix tape”. These songs honestly would’ve made the top 25 except that they were lost in the deep, echoing abyss of what used to be my memory until last night for some reason when they played incessantly in the background of one of my dreams. Whatever. Here they are:

26. “Turning Japanese” – The Vapors. Hey, the lyrics of this song are poetry…pure poetry. Don’t believe me?

“I want a doctor to take your picture So I can look at you from inside as well”


“No sex, no drugs, no wine, no womenNo fun, no sin, no you, no wonder it's dark Everyone around me is a total stranger Everyone avoids me like a cyclone ranger"

Okay, what the hell IS a “cyclone ranger” anyway? Never mind, this is ART, people. It doesn’t have to make sense. Who’s with me?

27. “Ballroom Blitz” – Sweet. I mean the original version. Shut up – you sooo know this song totally rocks!

28. “Play that Funky Music, White Boy” – Average White Band. Because white people almost NEVER get to be funky!

Okay, on to “completely unrelated to the book review” topic #2: the conclusion of ”Project Runway” on Wednesday night. Was anyone else surprised besides me? Frankly, I really didn’t think ANY of the three collections was anything to write home about – certainly not when compared with two of the finalists from last season: Jay McCarroll and Kara Saun.

Daniel’s collection was well-made and showed versatility, but I didn’t think it was anything outstanding…just sort of blah-American-sportswear-blah. The brown dress had that awful patch on the front of it AND the model so TOTALLY tripped on the runway while showing it off. In Season 1, Kara Saun got RIPPED APART for making a dress that just made the model’s job a bit difficult, but certain didn’t make her trip!

Chloe’s collection did have some beautiful pieces in it. I loved the color selections and her fit and knowledge of a woman’s body was outstanding. I thought she was overly concentrated with dresses and especially evening-wear dresses and too much of the solid-color heavy, shiny satin-y looking materials. I did think her answer on the runway about what quality she has that sets her apart from her competitors (her real-world business sense) was fantastic and may’ve actually been what turned the tide in her favor. I think it was embarrassing for the forces behind Project Runway when the winner of season 1, Jay McCarroll, not only turned down the $100K prize money, but also rejected the mentorship with Banana Republic. And he’s done…what?...since then? I mean, besides be totally annoying on a briefly-glimpsed reality show of his own.

And then there was Santino. Now, I’ve made no secret that I’ve hated Santino’s work through the whole show. The judges kept saying “how talented” he was, but frankly, I never saw it on the runway. I thought everything he made was ugly, slap-dashed together (heck, one outfit was GLUED together and fell apart during the runway show!) and just showed that he didn’t have a clue what he was doing. I figured the only reason he made it as far as he did is because he had the “reality show tvq” going for him – he was weird and obnoxious and everyone loved to hate him. So, of course, he had to make it to the final three…just like Jay and Wendy from last season. But, then, Tim went to his house to check on his collection and he actually held up what I thought were two completely stunning dresses! Here’s one and here’s the other. I wondered “okay where was THIS shi*t during all the competitions?” But, I started to think he might pull it off…or at least provide something I could qualify as “fashion” in his show. He did have a couple of clunkers and he had some fit problems, but overall, I thought the majority of his pieces were innovative and actually PRETTY!

And then what do the judges do? They tell him he’s out because he played it too safe! In fact, it became obvious that he’d never had a chance at all – he was, as I said, only there for “tvq.”

Frankly, I would’ve failed all three of the contestants for not stepping it up enough and for not having COHESIVE collections. Bring back Nick! But, whatever. Chloe won. Um…yay?

Okay, on to the books.

I’ve talked about Anne Bishop before and how I’m a huge fan of her “Black Jewels” books. The “Gaia” series is good, too, if a bit heavy on the sexual politics. So, I looked forward to the first book in her new “Ephemera” series with great anticipation. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed.
”Sebastian” once again shows off Bishop’s strengths with creating interesting characters and unique, fully-fleshed-out worlds, but I felt the book didn’t take full advantage of these elements. The whole philosophy behind the bridges and the way they work is confusing and detracts from what otherwise is a fascinating world. The uber-powerful but misunderstood Gloriana Belladonna who, alone, possesses the power to save the world is all too reminiscent of Jaenelle Angelline from the “Black Jewels” series. I’m also not fond of the technique of having some passages from the point of view of the villain…especially as this villain seems rather childish to me. Terrifyingly bad, but childish all the same. Now, having said all that, the book is actually an okay read. I kind of wish I’d waited for the paperback version, but I did enjoy it. I just didn’t enjoy it as much as her earlier works – it doesn’t pack the same punch. But, I’ll get the next book in the series and see how it goes.

My next book was ”The Secret History of the Pink Carnation” by Lauren Willig. It was recommended to me by a friend and when I saw that it was based around the French Revolution and the antics of the Scarlet Pimpernel and his successor, the Purple Gentian, I just had to check it out. I’ve always loved the Pimpernel (and yeah, okay, his alias did NOT travel well into this century, but whatever) and am a sucker for anything that involves that period and swashbuckling and sword fights and masked men. I probably watched too many Errol Flynn and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. movies on “The Family Film Festival” when I was a kid or something. The Three Musketeers, Zorro and the Lone Ranger are all favorites, too. What’s your point?

Anyway, this book was a lot of fun. It’s pretty light (in fact, the heroine, Amy, is a bit of a feather-headed twit and I was far more interested in her much brighter, but sadly underused cousin, Jane) and definitely has a couple of scenes of “too much anatomical detail” romance stuff, but was very enjoyable. I thought the modern storyline ended too abruptly and wasn’t resolved, but I suppose that’s what sequels are for. I say, grab the paperback version of this and save it for beach or poolside reading and you’ll have a fun time. Just skip the “icky” parts…like the boat scene.

From Revolutionary France, I moved on to turn-of-the-century England with ”The Beekeeper's Apprentice” by Laurie R. King. In it, we are introduced to Mary Russell, who through a fortuitous meeting on a hillside, becomes the apprentice of the great Sherlock Holmes. Now, it has to be stated that I’m a huge fan of Holmes and the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle. I read them all as a kid although only “The Hound of the Baskervilles” remains very firmly entrenched in my aforementioned abyss of a memory. It was great to see Holmes come out of retirement and to see him meet his match in a young Englishwoman. Because this book is the first in a long series, it does take a while to get through all the “set up” and get to the main mystery. Once there, I found the identity of Russell and Holmes’s mysterious “opponent” incredibly easy to discern. However, the clues and puzzles themselves were quite complicated and difficult to work through. There was one jarring note when Russell and Holmes take off to the Holy Land by boat, have adventures and do work for the British government and yet are still able to make it back to England with only a month having passed. I found that difficult to believe. But, other than those few issues, this was a great book and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

I also gained a fascinating insight from this book about one of my favorite TV shows: ”House. M.D.” I’m sure this was totally obvious to everyone else, but I didn’t get it until I re-visited the character of Sherlock Holmes in King’s book. Dr. Gregory House IS Sherlock Holmes re-done for the modern era! Just like Holmes, his keen intellect and ability to make rapid deductions based on tiny bits of evidence overlooked by everyone else make it nearly impossible for him to fit into society. I can see how it must be irritating to be around brains that don’t work as quickly or brilliantly as your own does and to constantly have to explain things to others or wait for them to catch up. It explains the misanthropic behavior displayed by both characters. And yet, at their core, both characters have a deep, abiding concern for the well-being of their fellow humans and a keen desire to wield their mental gifts toward that end.

There are other similarities as well. Holmes played the violin and House has his soap opera and plays piano. As Holmes had Dr. Watson, House has his friend Wilson and his three protégé doctors. Dr. Lisa Cutty is House’s Inpsector LeStrade. And Professor Moriarty, Holmes’s greatest opponent? In “House, M.D.”, Moriarty is played by none other than Death itself as House battles to save the lives of his patients.

I finally get why I so like this show. I just wonder when giant, slavering, phantom hounds will start prowling the corridors of the hospital?

Lastly, I read Patricia Briggs’s latest book, ”Moon Called”. She’s always been so original that I was somewhat disappointed that it’s another werewolf/vampire book. That seems to be so the thing on the market right now. It’s not that I don’t like them, but if you’re going to do something that EVERYONE else is doing right now, you better bring something fresh and original to it. Like, I don’t know, maybe cover art that hasn’t been DONE TO DEATH already?

Briggs does attempt to provide a new element with the main character, Mercy, being a “skinwalker” rather than a werewolf. But instead of following actual skinwalker lore and using that to give a fully-realized character, Briggs just makes Mercy able to instantly shift into being a coyote vs. having to make a longer, more painful transition into a wolf. Oh, and she’s an auto mechanic. Otherwise, the werewolves are werewolves and the vampires are vampires. There are other supernatural beings around (fae, gremlins, trolls, witches, etc.) but the reader isn’t given much more than a tantalizing glimpse of them (sequel(s) coming perhaps?) Frankly, I’d rather have read more about Mercy and what it’s like to be a coyote than all the werewolf stuff that’s already been covered by Laurell K. Hamilton in the “Anita Blake” books. Yes, wolves are pack animals. Yes, there’s an alpha wolf. Yes, there are dominance struggles in the pack. Blah, blah, blah, heard it all before.

Once again, this book is readable and, even enjoyable, I just expected something better from this author based on past experience.

I think the entire theme for this blog entry is that I need to lower my expectations LOL!

Have a great weekend, everyone, and, if you’re in So Cal, don’t get too wet!

Cuz we’re on “Stormwatch,” ya know! And the sky is falling and the world is ending and we’re all gonna diiiieeeeeeeeee….

Whatever. It’s RAIN, people. Little tiny drops of water that can’t hurt you. Get the heck over it already.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

New Schtuff!

The haul from the show this weekend was pretty meager due to the aforementioned cash flow problems, but I did manage to have SOME fun LOL! I'm still in love with these shell beads and every time the vendor has new colors, I have to get them. I don't know why - I just like them.

Well, yeah, okay, so they're extremely inexpensive and the colors are pretty. They're so pretty that I wish they were chocolate-filled so I could eat them mind.

Then it was time to shop for my customer who wants me to design necklace(s) to match three sweaters she has in varying shades of pink and mauve. So, I found more shell beads that would be great possibilities:

The color variations don't show up very well in this picture, but the top and bottom strands are a bright, delicate pink and the center strand has more mauve, gray and brown tones and the beads on that strand are also faceted instead of flat. And no, I don't know what the design is going to be yet, but I usually start with focal beads in the right color first and then work from there.

I continued to search for pink/mauve beads and came across a great deal on Swarovski pearls so I got several strands ranging from white to pale pink to deep mauve to a yummy color called "toasted almond."

Mmmmmm! More beads that just look delicious!

I grabbed a couple of strands of Venetian foil glass beads:

One is silver foil with pale pink stripes and the other is pink foil with darker mauve stripes. Again, I was looking for items to match my customer's requested color palette.

I thought I was done, but I came across a vendor offering 50% off on some unusual agate strands. I believe some of these may be dyed to achieve the color combinations, but I still thought they were pretty and different and the price was right. Sadly, the scanner does not do justice to the true colors on these - they are much brighter and less "muddy" looking than they appear in the picture.

I took a chance on their wearability and was fortunate that they stood up to a color-fastness test I gave them when I got them home. From the same vendor, I also purchased this pretty strand of faceted black onyx coin beads. My customer had mentioned that she always wears her sweaters with black pants so I thought it might be a good idea to do something with the black as well.

Lastly, I hit my very favorite metal and findings dealer and got some great new components in different shapes and finishes:

I seem to be on an earring kick lately so I can't wait to start playing with these. I'm almost out of wire and chain, though, so it's time to hit the local bead store this week as well for those. There were some good prices at the show, but the minimum order quantities were just too high for me this time which was a bummer. I saw some GREAT chain that really needed to come home with me, but oh well, maybe next time!

And yes, I'm STILL plugging away on the bead-embroidered cuff bracelet. Man, I cannot WAIT to get this thing finished - I'm really getting quite sick of it and that's pretty unusual for me. Sadly, I had a lot of "re-work" to do at a certain stage so that really held me up but that portion is finally done so I just need to get the beaded edging done and it will be FINISHED! After which I will throw a party - at least until I have to figure out how to photograph the darned thing because it will NOT work in the scanner.

That's it for now!


Monday, March 06, 2006

Mea Culpa!

So sorry there was no book review on Friday - Ryan and I got hit with the first virus of the year last Wednesday and neither of us felt like doing anything until Saturday. But, on the upside, said virus didn't arrive until March 1st...which is a decided improvement over the last two years where the kid has brought home every bug under the sun starting in November and lasting until May!!

But, this means there'll be a nice, juicy review this Friday instead of the semi-lame "one book" entries I've had the past few weeks so stay tuned for that.

After recovering from the illness de la semaine (as opposed to "du jour" because it lasted more than one day), I was able to get a pair of earrings done:

Czech glass and citrine on vermeil earring tops form these 2.5" earrings. This is a new color combo I haven't tried before and I'm quite happy with it. They're up on the site for sale as of today.

I also hit a bead show this weekend and managed to come away with a few goodies despite my currently very limited budget. Luckily, I had a few orders come in this week plus an advance from a customer on a custom job so I did have some funds to spend. Haven't had a chance to scan the loot yet, but will put up pictures (of course) when I do.

Lastly, I had hoped to post and talk about some of the Oscar fashions and jewelry, but sadly, I missed almost all of the red carpet fun due to a cold medicine-induced coma...grrr!

I did catch a few glimpses and so far, my faves were Jessica Alba's gold dress and yellow diamond jewelry and Felicity Huffman's black dress and the fabulous diamond pin in the back of her hair. I normally don't care for black on the red carpet because I figure, well, it's black and can be done any old time, but that dress really fit her perfectly and her hair and makeup were just sensational. If there was any little thing I could pick on it was that the daring neckline on the dress exposed the fact that the girl needs to EAT something! You could see and count every single rib and that's not attractive. Reese Witherspoon's dress was AMAZING and I'm so glad she won!

As for missteps, I couldn't believe Charlize Theron's getup. That dress was hideous...totally overpowered her, unflattering in the hip area and photographed a dirty, dingy gray instead of the forest green it supposedly was. Plus, I thought her hair was kind of old lady-ish. Killer shoes, though, Charlize. Really!

I didn't like Michelle Williams's dress, either. The mustard color did nothing for her, the bodice looked like it didn't fit her and the draping over the hips and pelvis hit in exactly the wrong spot. I also didn't care for Nicole Kidman's dress. It looked too much like a bridal gown and I thought it was just totally the wrong color choice considering how much she's bleached out her skin and hair lately. Also, she's another one who needs to EAT SOMETHING SOON! I'm so tired of "thin" and "slender" being replaced with "skeletal" and "consumptive." I'd like to see Nicole go back to the days of the wild, curly red hair and maybe allow herself a teensy bit of healthy color instead of her "bride of Dracula" pallor. Scary. Lastly, I didn't care for Keira Knightly's necklace. I mean, let's face it, she's a woman who could be dressed in sackcloth and ashes and look fabulous so I realize that I'm picking the world's smallest nit, but it WAS too much for the neckline of her dress which was quite complicated enough on its own. That one detail kept her from being quite as totally fabulous as she could have been.

You know what the really sad thing is? George Clooney put EVERYONE else - male and female alike - to shame. Damn, that is one HOT guy.