Monday, April 30, 2012

Swagger Song

If you're anything like me this morning then you need a really good pick me up kind of swagger song to get you going, that or an entire pot of coffee--or both.

One kind of story I particularly LOVE and would some  day like to write is one that takes place entirely in the span of a day. One of my all-time favorites where this technique is done is, of course, Ferris Bueller's Day Off. And who can watch Ferris Bueller's Day off without singing along to this song and feeling a little mood boost because of it. Enjoy!

Do you have any favorite movie songs/performances?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Book Review: The Opposite of Me

Twenty-nine-year-old Lindsey Rose has, for as long as she can remember, lived in the shadow of her ravishingly beautiful fraternal twin sister, Alex. Determined to get noticed, Lindsey is finally on the cusp of being named VP creative director of an elite New York advertising agency, after years of eighty-plus-hour weeks, migraines, and profound loneliness. But during the course of one devastating night, Lindsey’s carefully constructed life implodes. Humiliated, she flees the glitter of Manhattan and retreats to the time warp of her parents’ Maryland home. As her sister plans her lavish wedding to her Prince Charming, Lindsey struggles to maintain her identity as the smart, responsible twin while she furtively tries to piece her career back together. But things get more complicated when a long-held family secret is unleashed that forces both sisters to reconsider who they are and who they are meant to be.

 I LOVED this story. PERIOD. On the larger scale it interwove some very complex themes about identity, expectations, familial rivalries, and how we present ourselves to the world. Although Lindsey, our main protagonist, says she "lives" in her sister's shadows, much of her adult life has been outside of her sister and said shadow. Lindsey has done everything possible to not only distance herself from her fraternal twin sister but to build up her own identity: one in New York City, one as a successful advertising agency executive, and as someone who is dependable and smart. The problem, of course, is that she hasn't organically sought to identify who she is.

 Instead Lindsey, in prime Type A fashion, has identified who she thinks she should be and has chartered her course along those lines. Family relationships are tricky and for Lindsey it doesn't get any trickier than being the lesser of two halves (ie. the less glamorous, attention grabbing twin). I suspect for twin sisters there's an extra layer of competition as people are more likely to compare one to the other not only in looks but in every other possible way. Lindsey knows how people catalogue her sister and, so, desperate for some other redeemable title, Lindsey kills herself with late night study sessions and work weeks in an effort to prove she's worthwhile too. The issue, of course, is that despite their opposing looks, Lindsey and her sister Alex have more in common than they might think; Alex can be smart and hardworking; Lindsey can be beautiful too, but a lifetime of thinking otherwise has pigeonholed them into lives that are not completely fulfilled.

Ironically, on the night Lindsey is meant to achieve everything she thought she ever wanted--a VP creative director title--she acts "out of character" sending her on a completely different path and one that forces her to ask a question she hadn't before considered. "What makes me happy?" Because the answer to that question is the most important of all and it's one that Lindsey hasn't been pursuing during her maniacal work weeks where she's neglected both friends and family.

Ashamed of her transgression, Lindsey moves home to a Maryland suburb just outside of Washington, DC (and only a couple miles from my house!) where she reconnects with her sister, her parents, and an old family friend and potential crush. So desperate to keep up her persona, Lindsey continues to lie to her family about why, exactly, she's in DC. That is, until, her sister reveals a secret and soon the lives they thought they were living, and the stories they had been telling, all come unraveling.

This is a story about family, feuds, reconciliation, and what's possible when we finally give ourselves permission to just "be" who we are and to accept others when they do the same. The relationship that develops between Alex and Lindsey is wholeheartedly believable and organically grows throughout the story. You'll find yourself relating to Lindsey in so many different ways and crying for Alex when she finally turns to her sister for support. You'll love (and be a little shocked too) when both sisters realize that

-they may not be as opposite as they had thought,
-the reasons behind who they are and what they've done with their lives may not be what they had seemed

 but there's one thing that they both certainly are, and that's strong.

The story has some romance interwoven in here but the true love story, in my opinion, is that of family. And as you all know, family relationships are never easy, they're never clean cut, and they're never prescriptive. At the end of the day, however, when one of these girls needs the other, they realize that despite years of competition, there's really nothing they wouldn't do for the other. They are, after all, family.  And that's what counts.

What awesome books have you read lately?

Monday, April 23, 2012


Do you guys watch HART of DIXIE? It definitely plays into stereotypes about people from the North and those in the deep South but it won me over with charming characters who are complicated and whose actions are far from predictable.

While there's humorous aspects woven into the show they're more along the lines of asides than a major component of the plot (think more drama than comedy). That's why I was shocked to hear that Rachel Bilson along with some of the other actors got together for a "Funny or Die" video that's gone completely viral.

It pokes fun at Dr. Zoe Hart's character (played by Bilson) and also the news stories from gossip magazines. Most notably, however, is that one of the video's primary themes is taking a criticism of the show and turning it on its head. Apparently critics have been saying that what they find most far fetched is that such an attractive 30-year-old female would be a doctor! Smarts and beauty are not either/or, people!

As such, the short clip takes Bilson's usually cool and calm demeanor and portrays her as what would truly be an unbelievable doctor character (think gansta). It's funny though, of course, funnier if you know the inside quips. I also can't help but enjoy seeing Bilson try out her rapping chops :-)


What are some of your favorite spoof videos?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Happy Friday

If you've been following the blog long enough then you know I have a soft spot for Channing Tatum, having featured him in this post and on one of my earliest posts as part of my dream team of employees :-)

Well, it seems our boy Channing and Matthew McConaughy continue their battle to see who can be topless in more films and, now, have come together in one called "Magic Mike" where they both show off their famous abs. So without further ado, here's the trailer for "Magic Mike." Happy Friday, ladies (and to my guy readers, don't worry, come Monday we'll be back to our regularly scheduled program).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Must-See Documentary

If you haven't heard about BULLY, it's the groundbreaking new film about bullying in America. In the United States, 13 million children will be bullied this year. It's a mounting problem and one I've focused several posts on including highlighting the wonderful "It Gets Better" campaign.

BULLY is a documentary that has just released in select theaters nationwide. The film-maker even stressed that, at times, she was completely incapable of stopping the bullying happening right before her and often times in public places like a school bus or playground. Typically in documentaries, the film-maker is meant to simply observe but the atrocities highlighted were simply too substantial not to bring to the direct attention of school officials.

These are children bullied for being different, told to hang themselves or that they are worthless. There's the story of a girl who came out as lesbian and became so unsafe at her school she needed to drop out and enroll miles from home at an urban city school where she could start anew. As adults we seem to valorize people for being different but that's not always the case among children. Still, whether one of a kind or within the crowd, no one deserves this kind of punishment and as adults, we are failing our children and the next generation. Together, we need to be good examples ourselves and deter this kind of behavior at every opportunity. We have to recognize that bullying takes many forms and that no one is immune, that saying that "they're just kids" or "boys will be boys" are horrible excuses that simply allow bullying to happen.

I applaud the Weinstein Company for supporting such an important film and I hope you consider seeing it or supporting anti-bullying efforts in your community. Here's the trailer:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

American Reunion and the "Every Man"

Last night I saw the movie "American Reunion," the fourth installment of the American Pie franchise. It had its usual pranks and gives nod to all of the jokes and characters that made it popular years ago.

The film looks at the high school class of 1999 come together for their belated reunion. As a fellow 1999 high school graduate, I was particularly interested to see these grown up versions as compared to the teens we've come to know. The movie, while humorous, pays particular attention to the kind of real life challenges early 30 somethings face. There's the idea of living up to your expectations, longing for high school or some other time when things seemed easier and responsibilities were less, the burdens and joys of marriage and early parenthood, finding your way in the world, loving--or hating--being defined by your job and traveling escapades, and so on. It also gives mention to the world of social networking in keeping us all superficially tied together. In short, there was some meat to this plot and while not in line to win any awards, it exceeded my expectations.

I read an interesting review about the movie a couple weeks ago and how Jim, the main character in the American Pie series, really paved the way for the atypical leading man. Beforehand high school films always had dashing, beautiful male characters who were, of course, going to win over the girl or who with a bit of a makeover turned into People Magazine's sexiest man alive. Then came Jim. He's anything but eloquent; he tries too hard often failing terribly, and at the end of the day no heartthrob wall posters are being mass produced with his photo.

Today, however, we see many "every men" in films whether its Andy Samberg, Michael Cera, or Jonah Hill. They're the guys we cheer for not because the storyline directs us to but because we relate to them on some level. This got me thinking about young adult fiction and the characters portrayed in many of the novels coming out. More often than not it's a female lead who describes herself as nothing "special" but who, for whatever reason, wins over the school's hottest guy (usually new in town). Yes, perhaps these non-super model girls are the female versions of Michael Cera and others listed above. The difference I find, however, is that now that we have these wonderfully relatable girl characters, the guys they attract are anything but and rarely do they have anything in common aside from their own physical attraction.

Yes, attraction is important particularly in YA where teens live vicariously through these dating relationships, often while they're trying to navigate their own real world ones. But I have to admit, I miss the Jims of the world (male or female) in YA and would love to see a book chock full of them including *gasp* a relationship that includes two characters us readers can wholeheartedly relate. In short, I want to feel like I know both the MC and their love interest and they really would get together in high school life, not just on the literary page.

One of my first high school dates was dinner at a Taco Bell and off to see the first Austin Powers movie. Sure, not the most romantic setting or glamorous date ever but we held hands at the movie and talked all through dinner. There were no vampires, no trust funds, one of us wasn't the most popular kid in school and the other a social pariah. We were just 14-year-olds.

That's not to say that I don't love a little fantasy or adventure in my fiction, because I do. It's just to say that stories have such a richer texture when we relate to all of the characters and they have that endearing quality that, like Jim, makes us cheer for them.

What would you like to see more of in your fiction?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Swagger Song

You guys have probably heard this by now, but if you haven't then you must! I'm officially OBSESSED! It's definitely a song that's helping me get my day going (especially since I've taken the masochistic endeavor of going off of caffeine!). The song? It's "We Are Young" by Fun:

And because I'm a total Gleek, here's the Glee version. Enjoy!

What songs are you jamming out to or using as writing inspiration this week?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sh*t Agents and Editors Say

This is awesome and comes complements of Michelle Brower and Brandi Bowles.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Title Love

OMG, I adore this title: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeannette Winterson. This makes me smile and laugh and feel completely intrigued. It's a lighthearted title that hints at something much, much more--something deep, almost dark; something haunting.

Among some new YA releases that have book cover curb appeal, I've come across the following:

Starters by Lissa Price. This looks so creepy and intriguing I can't help but want to crack the page. It seems like it's a hybrid of paranormal meets the new YA horror craze, doesn't it?

I'm always a sucker for a great contemporary story and realistic, soft colored covers that remind me of a wonderful photograph from someone's personal collection. Enter Where It Began by Ann Redisch Stampler.

What great books have you stumbled upon lately?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Breaking Dawn Part II Trailer Released!

Will you guys go see this? I still don't think they should have broken up the two movies but, now that I've seen all of the others, I don't think I have a choice in finishing up the series!