Summer Reads For Everyone…Ramble

I read. A lot. As a writer you there’s a saying ‘you can only write as well as the best book you’ve read’. I’ll read any topic matter as long as the story interests me. Here are my suggestions for summer reading:

FOR HIPSTERS/INDIE MUSIC LOVERS (redundant) and LITERARY LOVERS:

Wonderland by Stacy D’Erasmo – a densely literary ode to the life on a rock tour, D’Erasmo’s vivid descriptions of creating music, the intricate characters who feed off the industry and the struggle for the main character to make a comeback as an artist, is inspirational. I’ve personally written a chick lit (oh I can feel the daggers of your judgement publishing industry) manuscript (I have several interested parties in publishing, not everyone wants or rejects the same thing), about a rock star manager, and found this a realistic portrayal of how an artist’s brain works. Sex is something that comes naturally, love is always complicated and not enough. Living up to her famous father’s artistic imprint, the main character Anna is in her 40’s, taking one last shot for breaking through the indie scene into the mainstream. Anna reminds me of a red headed version of Liz Phair who’s “Exile in Guyville” was well-received and commercial pop was widely rejected. If you like music and don’t want to read another biography, this is really amazing and well written.

FOR HISTORICAL ROMANCE READERS & THOSE WHO LOVE GREAT BANTER:

Three Weeks with Lady X by Eloise James is charming. The seventh in her Desperate Duchesses series, (they stand alone), the extraordinary Ms. James builds tension between the two main characters to the point of extreme delight. Thorn is a ‘bastard’ and Lady Xenobia, left an orphan of a free-spirited Marquis. Forced by her circumstances to raise her own dowry, Lady X became an interior decorator. She decides it is time to retire and marry, but accepts her final job to transform Thorn’s new estate, as well as him, into the ideal English Gentleman’s prize in order to win approval for marriage to the sweet, dimwit, Lala. The banter between Thorn and Lady X will have you laughing out loud. It’s like indulging in your favorite dessert and finding out the ingredients are more beneficial to your body than vegetables (sign me up for that).

FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO ‘LEAN IN’ WITH A SPOON FULL OF SPICE

#GIRLBOSS by  Sophia Amoruso is her memoir of her rise from a shoplifting dumpster diver to heading up a multi-million dollar fashion company, Nasty Gal. She keeps it real, and you won’t be able to stop laughing. While other career books tend to be dry, Amoruso shows off real-world tips that will help you achieve becoming your own GIRL BOSS!

More tude than Iggy

 

Have You Ever Been Han Solo’d? …Ramble

It is one of the best responses to a first ‘I love you’ when Princess Leia tells Han Solo she loves him right before he gets frozen by Darth Vadar:

Leia: I love you.

Han: I know.

Swoon! It was funny, in character and just about the hottest smirk Harrison Ford has ever given on film. I ‘got Han Solo’d’ a few days ago, so spotting this little gem as part of an exhibit at MoMA made me giggle. It’s the little things in life that have to be appreciated.

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A Few Of My Favorite Things…Ramble

2013 is winding down in a storm of Christmas parties. I made it through, barely, but still have enough brain power to write this post while angry movers toss around someone’s valuables, cursing at their lot. Ah, the joy of the holiday season!

This was …a year.
Song: Bastille’s “Pompeii”


Books:
The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James
Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer – You can go home, but it won’t be the same!

Cover of ‘What Did The Fox Say’, well clearly the Kerry Washington version ‘What Did My Girl Say’ from SNL. Who dat who dat who dat bitch?

Perfume:
While Chanel No. 5 is wonderful, this year I was given Chanel No. 19. It is a musky scent, which can be worn on it’s own or blended with your summer scents, to tone them down through winter. If you are looking for a gift that is a little adventurous this is the one!

Celebrity Moment: After a lifetime of love for fellow Aussie, Kylie Minogue, I finally got to enjoy some champagne with her.

Scoundrel:
I would be remiss in summing up my year without mentioning a scoundrel named Theo M., who inspired me to write an entire new manuscript. I finished the first draft during NaNoWriMo, in a new genre for me. I’m working on the sequel so cross fingers they sell in 2014. Theo may not know how to be a real hero, like Ryan Gosling’s character in ‘Drive’, but he pushed me creatively, so he has value as a human being. (*if you listened to the song ‘Real Hero’ you’ll know what that sentence means, if not, it is a song that holds special meaning). Sometimes people come into our lives and betray us at a level never thought possible, but focusing on the good aspects, helps the healing process. That might sound cheesy, but living with so much pain and misery is not where I want to dwell.

In 2013 I became a better writer, cook and had my gall bladder sucked out through my stomach (closest I’ll get to an alien experience). I was pushed beyond my boundaries like never before and hope that continues in a mostly positive direction in 2014. I want to thank all the incredible authors I met this year. Thank you for the great advice and support including Helen Fielding, Erica O’Rourke, and Kwana Jackson in addition to the always amazing Shoshi, in a category all of her own.

Merry Christmas!

Feminism That Kicks Ass Lily Allen is Back…Ramble

Don’t need to shake my ass for you, cause I’ve got a brain.
Oh Lily Allen, have I told you lately how much I adore you? J’adore Lily! There has been a lot of noise this year, especially since Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” became such a huge hit & Miley Cyrus’ tongue & ass can’t seem to be anywhere but in our faces, like we all don’t get enough of that on public transport.

Here’s a smart, amazing way of taking on the glass ceiling, while providing a beat you can actually shake that ass to singing “It’s hard out here for a bitch!” I am having a debate at which lyric is my favorite “Forget your balls and grow a pair of tits” – “Trust the injustice, it’s not going away”– oh woman, you are too amazing.

What Does The Fox, Uh My Girl Say…Ramble

Yeah, if you hear ‘What Does The Fox Say’ one more time, you’re going to smack the niece/nephew/family member who introduced it to you/your man/your kids upside the head. Still, this SNL parody of it with Kerry Washington living out her pop star dreams is a must watch. This is going in high rotation my friends as a reward to myself. Seriously. Now watch it, cause it’s full of butts…

Why Helen Fielding HAD to Kill Mark Darcy/Colin Firth/Mr. Darcy…Ramble

Fourteen years have gone by since there’s been a new installment of Bridget Jones’. Well, then is it any wonder to gush like crazy over the return of chick lit’s leading lady and her creator? If there wasn’t a Bridget, there might not be a Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and The City) or an Andy Sachs (The Devil Wears Prada) or countless other great books that made us laugh, cry, relate and let us know, we’re not strange creatures from outer space if we are singletons.

Mad About A Boy

Recently spoilers were printed in the UK that quickly made the rounds to the US media. Helen Fielding had killed MARK DARCY! When Helen was asked by Vogue’s Valerie Steiker, culture editor last night at Housingworks Book Store, if she expected the swift reaction via Twitter from fans, she said no. She didn’t expect to be sitting at home in her pj’s like Bridget, watching the telly, and seeing updates about Syria, then the next story saying “HELEN FIELDING KILLED MARK DARCY!” She didn’t expect a man to run out of a restaurant she had just left yelling at her “You murdered Colin Firth!” right after the news broke. When I asked one of my friends to come to the event she said “Bitch killed Mark Darcy, she is dead to me.”

The hard part was having to tell Colin Firth. After all, the BBC version of Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice”, of which Colin played the most memorable Mr. Darcy, inspired Fielding’s character Mark Darcy. For Ms. Fielding, Colin/Mr. Darcy/Mark Darcy is a hybrid creature and she cannot separate them. She wanted to tell him about the character’s end in person but, their schedules were so conflicting she had to tell him over the phone. She said it was like a death, she asked him if he had someone there with him.

However, Colin/Darcy/Mark Darcy did not disappoint. How very British of this clever man to take it in good stride, and announce that it was a fictional character and no one had actually died. So, as a fan, when I heard the spoiler I was quite upset. However, as a writer, we are constantly told to kill our darlings, throw thunderbolts at our characters to shake them up, to challenge them and create conflict and new goals. For Ms. Fielding, Mark Darcy is a gentleman. He would never leave Bridget and their two children, so he had to die. “It’s far better that he dies and lives on in memory untarnished, like Jesus. He’d never be a fuckwit.” Indeed would you want to read a book about a happy marriage? We love Bridget for her struggles, for her self-doubt, for her bumbling through social situations and love.

Colin/Mr.Darcy/MarkDarcy

Colin/Mr.Darcy/MarkDarcy

Fielding said the way in which dating has changed now with social media, is the amount of things that can be silent and have to be interpreted.

Fielding has often be thought to be Bridget. She created Bridget as a means to write columns so she could keep her own life private. There are, of course, many similarities. She admitted she is overly ambitious in the kitchen and the blue string incident did happen to her. Her friends know she is usually going to overreach in that area and takeout will be ordered. Fielding is now divorced, a mother of two and living in London and in her 50’s. Bridget Jones is a widow, 51, and a mother of two living in London trying to sort out social media and modern dating. I can just say Poor Bridget! Let the comedy ensue.

When the Q&A was opened up to the audience I asked Helen if there was anything she had wished from the book had made it into the films and vice versa (oh self brag moment: Fielding said “That is a very good question” – oh yes, I have professionally interviewed people but a compliment from Helen/Bridget –for now she is a hybrid of those two personas for me–is quite amazing). Ms. Fielding answered yes and sometimes things get confusing. There were things she wanted to put into “Bridget Jones: Mad About A Boy” but had happened in a previous book or film. One thing she would have loved to have in the films was Bridget Jones interviewing Colin Firth the actor. (Note: if you own the 2nd film there is an outtake of exactly that but I didn’t bring that up since she seemed a bit tired from a full day of press). So, in actual real life, Helen met up with Colin Firth in Rome where she was Bridget Jones for the night out with Mark Darcy! And, they’ve also had phone conversations where Colin Firth is Mr. Darcy.

Indeed Helen Fielding is so charming and so humble when it comes to the success of Bridget. Ten minutes into the event, she admitted she was quite relieved and happy with it since she stressed about the VOGUE part of the evening – dressing up for it, accessorizing properly and wearing hard-to-walk-in-heels. I love that she removed those uncomfortable heels and let us all just have them sit there and admire them. Hurrah for Helen/Bridge.

Helen Fielding Sans Heels

Helen Fielding Sans Heels

Helen spoke about how men and woman just communicate differently. Bridget’s motto is KOB = keep buggering on & of course, she does. Women will go out, have some drinks and have a laugh about their problems. Whereas, (Fielding kept saying she is not a sociologist), a male friend went out with another man who was getting a divorce after twenty years. She asked him afterwards why the couple is getting divorced and her friend responded he didn’t know, they talked football all night.

When asked what she would be if not a writer, she replied a doctor. She said if anyone wasn’t feeling well she would be quite happy to assist them. Oddly enough, five minutes later the last “question” was really more a drawn out statement, when a woman three chairs down from me began moaning. If you were on the subway, you just move away from that kind of insane moaning, we’re New Yorkers, we used to it. However, this poor elderly woman who had come on her own was slumped over, unconscious in a bookstore! Guests and Fielding sprang into action. The fire department came and took the woman to a hospital. I want to say, as relieved as we all were she regained consciousness, thank you to you Ms. Moaner. You saved us from a seemingly, unending, pointless statement that was taking down the whole event and instead, gave us a chance to see Helen-Bridget as doctor in action.

The best question from Vogue was, if this book becomes a film, will Mark Darcy be present in flashbacks. Fielding said he would be well represented and that she’d like to be part of the casting! Oh ah.

Finally, it was lovely to have a bit of chat with Helen during the book signing afterwards. I was very happy I got to discuss the “Chick Lit” genre which so many in publishing “eschew” , which is the tone and genre I write in and Helen was surprised and told me to keep on going with it. The great thing is I got to inform her that Mad About A Boy is #1 in the Fiction Satire genre on Amazon. She was so happy. I love when you get a few moments with someone you admire, for whatever reason, and they are made happy by something you said to them. Thank you Helen-Bridget. I am glad you wrote another installment and shocked Britain by writing about a woman in her 50’s- gasp, dating!

Having a laugh with Helen

Having a laugh with Helen

Keep Writing & LOVE chick lit! Helen Fielding

Keep Writing & LOVE chick lit! Helen Fielding

Face-off: One Name ‘Annie Walker’ = Two Characters…Ramble

USA has just renewed the spy series “Covert Affairs” (which first aired in 2010) for a fifth season. This is good news for me because I really, really like the show. I got to be in one of the planning meetings and USA is number one for a reason- they think of everything. Seriously. I  have never been so impressed with a planning deck before and I’ve worked at and with many cable channels.

Recently I saw the film “Bridesmaids” (2011), a comedy that shares the same exact main character’s name – ANNIE WALKER. That means it’s time for a FACE-OFF.

ACTRESS PORTRAYING ANNIE WALKER:

Piper Perabo is the star of ‘Covert Affairs’. Her acting career started professionally in 1997 in films, but her breakout role came in ‘Coyote Ugly’ in 2000. She usually plays a good girl, with a bit of an edge. One of the producers, Doug Liman, also has a film background, and in fact produced ‘The Bourne Identity’ and ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’ so he knows a thing or two about great spy projects. Piper’s Annie is sweet enough to work her magic on turning assets, but when it comes to her thought process, sometimes her emotions get in the way and bad things happen.

Kristin Wiig became a household name for her work on Saturday Night Life from 2005-2012. I remember hearing a lot of buzz about her, and, when she first came on board I wasn’t even watching SNL on a regular basis anymore. For some reason her ‘Target Lady’ character really didn’t appeal to me. Then she played an annoying, jealous, conniving executive at E! in the movie ‘Knocked Up’, and then I too, became a member of Team Wiig, which only increased during promotion of ‘Bridesmaids’. Many of her interviews were done with co-star and close friend, Maya Ruldolph. They made the point that the film shouldn’t be categorized as a female comedy, because it’s just a comedy. This is exactly how I feel about my own manuscript, which is commercial fiction in my opinion, not women’s fiction.

WINNER: In terms of longevity, it, of course has to go to Piper, since she is going into season five and Ms. Wiig has said there won’t be a sequel to Bridesmaids.Though the roles are so different, both actresses have been nominated as ‘Annie Walker’ for Golden Globes so this would be a tie.

USE OF FORCE

‘Covert Affairs‘ is one of those rare basic cable channels where guns are used and characters actually die, both good and bad. There has been wounds and ‘good’ characters have been killed, as well as ‘bad ones.’ TV’s Annie Walker is a good shot. She gets the job done and she can also kick the crap out of someone. She was also shot in her sister’s kitchen and nearly died, which only adds to her character development and experience dealing with sticky situations.

‘Bridesmaids’ does involve a smack. It’s a smack given with love to Annie Walker, by a fellow bridesmaid, the sister of the groom, played by Melissa McCarthy. It looked like it hurt, but it did serve to give Annie Walker a reality wake-up call to stop wallowing and being a sad sack, and get her shit together. The cop who plays Annie’s love interest is a sweet and kind guy, but never has to pull his gun.

WINNER: TV. I’m a little shocked but it’s true.

EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE:

Piper‘s Annie Walker speaks a ton of foreign languages, part of why she was recruited early off of ‘The Farm’ where the CIA trains and placed in the field. She started the series lovelorn over a guy who turned out to be a fellow agent. She hasn’t really had too many qualms about turning an asset by becoming his lover, yeah, that didn’t turn out so good since he was killed and she almost died too.  When her sister found out she was a spy it destroyed their close relationship. Sadly, that was the end of her sister on the show, who was shipped off elsewhere. So you got: two dead former lovers, a whole bunch of kills, many flirtations, a hot but full of secrets affair with her handler Augie and killing off her identity of Annie Walker so she can go off the grid.

Kristin‘s Annie Walker is broke. She opened a bakery in a recession and when it went under, her boyfriend left her so she’s not exactly stable, happy or the best friend in the world. Once her BFF tells her she’s engaged, she goes on a downward shame spiral that includes her booty call boy toy telling her ‘you’re no longer my 4th favorite’, purposely hitting a fellow bridesmaid repeatedly in a heated tennis match, picking a cheap restaurant that gives the entire bridal party the runs (this scene totally could have been shorter, a sure sign of Judd Apatow’s involvement in the film), ditching the cop who is a sweet and decent man because he is basically a sweet and decent man and facing off with a popular teenage girl at her job in a jewelry store so she gets fired and has to move in with her mother.

WINNER: Does anyone really want to win in this category? Hands down it’s Kristin Wiig’s Annie Walker. She’s got more issues than a magazine hoarder.

LEADING MEN:

Covert’s Christopher Gorman has a twelve pack of abs. When he was on ‘Ugly Betty’ and he was shirtless, he became  ‘the talk of the town.’ He’s an undercover hottie with a body, but at the same time he plays a blind man. Never one to let that stop him, Gorman’s character Augie goes into the field, was a lady’s man before he and Annie finally hooked up this season. Smart, sexy and also a keeper of deep secrets that got both him and Annie into a ton of trouble this season.

Bridesmaids started out with Annie hooking up with her sex buddy, Jon Hamm. He is hot, a pig and won’t let Annie ever stay the night. Scoundrel! However, she meets Officer Nathan Rhodes, played by Irish comedic talent, Chris O’Dowd. He is an attractive fellow with a very nice accent.  Tall, caring and encouraging, this is a solid man a girl would be crazy to blow off, which Annie does and then realizes her self-involved mistake.

WINNER: Covert’s Chris Gorman. Annie Walker can take care of herself, but it’s the teamwork and trust with Augie that make Annie successful. He taught her well and together they are an unbeatable team.

Overall winner goes to USA’s Annie Walker on ‘Covert Affairs’, yet audiences win no matter which Annie they prefer.

Crush of the Week: Joseph Gordon-Levitt…Ramble

As a kid actor on “3rd Rock From The Sun” JGL was good at delivering punchlines and holding his own amongst the comic genius of John Lithgow, Kristin Johnston, and French Stewart. He had cool boy long hair and a cheeky smile. Then, as he got older and moved into films like “10 Things I Hate About You”, I heard he was an obnoxious ass through the Hollywood PR machine. It effected a project I was working on the time and served as a crush killer. I never got to work with him directly, and let’s face it we were all like 15 years old at the time, right, so like, who can hold us accountable for growing up in the show biz.

I moved on to other crushes like Brad Pitt, with his beautiful golden hair and more manly figure. Yet, over the years, Joseph G-L has proven to be a real talent. He has written songs with hipster it girl Zoey Deschanel (you thought I was going to mention that  movie they were lovers in? JGL grown-up crush inducer!)

He hosted SNL showing off his musical skills even more– did you know that for a time he studied at my alma mater Columbia University? Even more interesting, he started a company with his brother called HitRecord.com, which is a collaborative community to create – short films, books, and now a TV show that is a variety show (what a natural for JGL!).

This “Regular Joe” as he calls himself on HitRecord.com is a true artist, one that never stops creating, learning and exploring. I love how he gives it his all and totally commits to whatever he has taken on, which is why he is this week’s crush of the week. Regular Joe wiped the stage with Stephen Merchant and Jimmy Fallon this week, lip-syncing his heart out while promoting the film he wrote and directed called ‘Don Jon’ (according to co-star Tony Danza it perfectly captures this moment in history where we all consume too much media and how it has socially effected us). Joseph Gordon-Levitt you had me at “Hold Me Closer Tiny Dancer”…..

Jennifer Aniston + Brit Reporter= Charming…Ramble

Jennifer Aniston shows us how a truly successful person is able to deal with anything thrown at them in an interview. It has to be refreshing for her being on a world press tour for “We’re The Millers” to get a few different questions thrown in she hasn’t answered 450 times in a row. As an interviewer, I appreciate that Chris Stark’s efforts.

It helps that the interviewer is a charming Brit named Chris Stark who uses his awkward sweetness to win her over — this also shows the power of accents because I think if an American frat boy were to call himself a ‘pig in a wig’ it would not be quite as palatable.

One note to Stark – I love the ‘who is on your list’ question but yeah, there was an episode of ‘Friends’ where Ross had Isabella Rosselini on his celebrity list. Rachel tells him to go for it, full well knowing there’s no way Ross could ever pull her. Isabella asks to see the list, which Ross has had laminated (!) and guess what? She is no longer on it. She gets insulted and leaves. Oh bummer he is left with Rach.

A Mini-Break with Mr. Darcy at “Austenland”…Ramble

I had the delightful pleasure of going to a screening of Sony Classic Pictures’ new film “Austenland” starring Keri Russell, who really has had a lot of exceptional roles in smaller films. In this film she is a huge Jane Austen who decides to spend her life savings on a “game changer” vacation to “Austenland”. It turns out to be a bit of a degrading experience for her since she could only afford the “crap copper package.”

This hilarious and charming romp had the audience laughing from the start. As a “Jane-ite” I love finding new ways of interpreting her works into the modern world. Let the charm carry you away:

And, lesson learned, I should have stuck to my first instinct to take a selfie because this is a fuzzy hot mess. Still, I finally got my hands on Mr. Darcy!

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