- A Kitty in the Henhouse
- Chicken Scratches and Other Writing Tips
- Eye Candy
- Happenings at the Henhouse
- Music of the Coop
- Pop Culture
- Squawk Authors: Latest and Greatest Books
- Squawk Friends
- Squawk Interactive: Captions, polls, etc
- Squawk's Favorite Books
- Stranger Than Fiction (Real Life)
- Teresa Reveals the CONFESSIONS OF A TRUE ROMANTIC
- CHRISTINA DODD HAS A TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY
- Christina Dodd Exposes the Glamour of Booktour
- Christina Dodd Treats You to an Extra Excerpt of IN BED WITH THE DUKE!
- GIRLFRIENDS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN Contest!
- Connie Brockway Posts Incriminating New Video
- SPOIL ME! BY CELEBRATING THE GOLDEN SEASON’S PUB DATE, TODAY!
- Teresa Says It Loud and Says It Proud: I WRITE ROMANCE NOVELS!!!
- CHRISTINA DODD SAYS “IT’S CHRISTMAS! DUCK!”
- Teresa Needs Your Help to Choose the SEXIEST MAN DEAD!
I think I just heard a chorus of celestial angels singing because at long last and after many heartwrenching delays, one of the most romantic television shows ever made was finally released on DVD this past Tuesday! BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, a delicious blending of classic fairy tale and urban fantasy that was definitely ahead of its time, first ran on CBS from 1987-1990. From the first strains of its opening theme (the aptly titled The First Time I Loved Forever) to its lush production values to the remarkable acting from Ron Perlman, Linda Hamilton, Edward Albert, Jr., and a host of others, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST remains one of those rare viewing experiences where they actually got everything right. It’s no surprise that writer and executive producer George R.R. Martin has since gone on to stellar success as the author of one of the most popular fantasy series ever penned--A Song of Fire and Ice.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is the story of Catherine Chandler, a spirited assistant D.A. in New York City and Vincent, a mysterious half-man, half-beast who dwells in the long-forgotten tunnels beneath the city. When Catherine is disfigured in a brutal knife attack, it is Vincent who rescues her and carries her to his lair so she can recover. Catherine quickly discovers that Vincent may have the face and strength of a beast, but he also has the heart and soul of a poet. When she returns to her life, both she and Vincent find it impossible to forget the time they spent together or the psychic bond they forged. From that day forward, he is destined to be her champion and she both his joy and his torment as he fights to tame the beast within so he can be worthy of her love.
I had the pleasure of meeting Ron Perlman at a BEAUTY AND THE BEAST conference in Orlando a few years ago. He’s spent most of his career as a character actor and he admitted to the adoring conference-goers that he now realizes that the role of Vincent was truly the role of a lifetime. The premature demise of the series was also a painful demonstration of how little the networks valued both romance and its core audience of women. Since the show was very expensive to produce, they publicly announced that they needed to attract more of a male audience in the third season so they decided to accomplish that by KILLING OFF THE HEROINE (!) and trying to turn Vincent into some sort of crusading vigilante. (In CBS’s slight defense, Linda Hamilton had decided to leave the show at that point but I still think they should have just ended the show or devised a better exit than having her character butchered by a maniac.) Needless to say, the show only lasted a few more episodes. (And no, I WON’T be buying the third season on DVD! Although it has its fans, I prefer to pretend it never happened.)
If the show is a beloved favorite of yours or if you missed it entirely when it originally aired, I strongly recommend that every romance fan go out and buy or rent these DVD’s. We’ve seen so many bad attempts at capturing the magic of the romance genre on both the big screen and the small that I can’t help but rejoice when somebody finally gets it right!
So were any of you BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans too? And I’d love to know what YOU think are some of the most romantic TV series ever made? Do you still dream of Jeanie and her Major Nelson? Do you thrill to the love triangle between Clark, Lex, and Lana on SMALLVILLE? Do you miss the tender bickering between Jamie and Paul on MAD ABOUT YOU? Do you still tear up when Lucy tells Ricky she’s pregnant or do doctors McDreamy and McSteamy make your temperature rise? Are you a Spike girl or an Angel girl? I plan to do a MOST ROMANTIC TV SHOW poll next week so I’d love to hear all your suggestions!
I’ve been reading a fascinating book, The Hummingbird Cabinet: A Rare and Curious History of Romantic Collections, by Judith Pascoe. It’s a discussion of obsessive collecting in England in the romantic period (around 1829-1910). The book tracks a number of collectors, like Edward Silsbee, an elderly American sea captain, who became obsessed with the poet Shelley and did everything he could to buy Shelley objects: from his guitar, to Shelley watch fobs, snuffboxes, a Shelley baby rattle, a raisin plate, Shelley hair and Shelley doodles. In short: craziness. But really, I keep thinking, if it’s craziness, it’s a brand that comes right down to the present. Think about Diana, for example. Who doesn’t know someone who either once or still collects Diana stuff? It’s hard to get hold of a Diana rattle, but these days the adoring collector can break out into commercially produced memorabilia: Diana dolls, cups, buttons, books… The desire to have something—or many things—that remind one of a famous figure has definitely not abated its fierceness. Napoleon’s grave site foliage was stripped off all branches by souvenir seekers; Stonehenge had to be fenced for similar reasons.
Doctors have spent a good deal of time trying to analyze the impulse to collect: the wish to have souvenirs is obviously different from the wish to own a cup with Diana’s picture on it, for example. And both of those are somewhat different from the wish to own 900 barbie dolls. Freud himself was a great collector of figures of Egyptian, Greek and Roman gods—apparently he had so many that they lined the walls and clustered all over his desks and tables, even in his office. Freud thought collecting had to do with lack of satisfactory interpersonal contacts. While generally I don’t think much of his ideas, I can certainly see that idea working in the most famous movie image of a collector lately on the screen, our beloved Forty-Year-Old Virgin! I’ve known a lot of happily married collectors, though, so I think this may explain some collectors--definitely not all!
So here’s my question: do you collect? Do you know someone who collects? What do you collect? And why? Where does the pleasure come from owning 40 barbies as opposed to 400? Or 4? Why do people start collecting Rolling Stones memorabilia, or Shelley rattles, for that matter?
Last night was Family Movie Night. That mean that my husband and I grab a bottle of wine and our two kids, go to the friendly Japanese place (byob) where they give out Japanese gum in exotic flavors and wild children’s drinks with marbles in the neck of the bottle. In other words, all kids, all the way.
Then we go to the movies. NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM. After the usual squabbles over popcorn with butter or without (mom is in favor of non-poisonous food items; children adore chemical substitutes), we end up watching this movie. Did anyone else see it? It’s pretty ridiculous, but my children loved it, and my husband and I tolerated it. Not as bad as some, definitely not as great as the best kids’ movies.
I know we’re supposed to have a music day today, but a movie blog is pretty close.... here’s my question. That’s our ritual for family night, up above. What about you? What’s your family day ritual?
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So who else caught the 4-hour premiere of the new season of ”24“ this week? I’m in love with this show not just because it’s a taut thriller but because it never fails to evoke emotion in me and I’m a terrible drama addict. (Just ask any of the other Squawkers.) The final moments of the second episode had me bawling like a baby one minute, then rolling off the couch to my knees the next, screaming, “Oh my gosh...oh my gosh...OH MY GOSH!!!” (Fortunately there was no one else home at the time.) Yes, our intrepid hero Jack Bauer was looking a little thin and haggard after two years of being tortured in a Chinese prison but it didn’t take him much time to snap back into full-blown action mode. Has anyone ever made a kill-shot to the head look sexier?
So today I bring you…
JACK BAUER’S RULES OF ROMANCE
1) The more I love you, the higher your chances of being killed by a foreign operative.
2) Your kids will never get on my nerves because my own daughter (known in many on-line communities simply as “Spawn of Jack") is the most petulant, sullen, annoying character ever created. (Sadly enough, in six seasons, she’s the only character NOT to get killed.)
3) Forget the flowers and candy. Nothing says “I love you, baby” like a good interrogation.
4) If you catch me whispering sweet nothings in a beautiful terrorist’s ear, I’m probably just saying, “I WILL kill you.” And I will.
5) Since I only have 24 hours to save the world, I may only have time for a quickie. (As opposed to say...a hot meal and a shower.)
6) Not to worry. I always carry breath mints just in case I have to rip out someone’s throat with my teeth before meeting you for lunch.
7) If your parents just happen to be connected to international terrorists, I won’t have to worry about those pesky in-law visits during the holidays.
8) I’m an excellent packer for those romantic getaways. All I need is a backpack and a couple of bananas.
9) No need for birth control because our odds of surviving more than 12 hours without some kind of nuclear attack are not high.
10) If you like the kinky stuff, I’ve had a lot of experience with ropes and chains.
So what shows are YOU excited about in this new “new” television season? 24? The return of LOST? AMERICAN IDOL? (And did anyone catch the horrid AMERICAN IDOL audition shows from Minneapolis and Seattle? I’d never watched a single episode of AMERICAN IDOL in my life and I was mesmerized. It was like watching a train wreck...accompanied by some really bad singing.)
I used to subscribe to a lot of different magazines. They’re my favorite medium when it comes to researching my books. I locate my characters’ homes via the DUPONT REGISTRY. I furnish them by flipping through VERANDA. I dress my characters with VOGUE and GQ. And no matter what their occupations or pastimes are, I can find a journal or magazine to give me information about them. Over the years, though, as the stack of glossies in my office grew to shoulder-height, I decided I could just start picking them up occasionally, whenever I needed. So I let all the subscriptions lapse.
Except one. ESQUIRE.
I adore ESQUIRE magazine. Whenever one arrives, I sit down that night and read it cover to cover. It’s just chock full of insight into the male animal, and it’s entertaining as hell. There are articles on fashion, health, politics, arts and leisure, books, restaurants, wine, sports, sexuality… Anything and everything that men find interesting. And the regular columns are absolutely wonderful. Answer Fella answers, with great humor, questions about all things masculine. There’s always a “Funny Joke from a Beautiful Woman.” There’s “10 Things You Don’t Know about Women,” a list provided by a different female celebrity every month (and almost always dead-on). There’s the sex column, written by a woman, that is both insightful and entertaining. There’s “What I’ve Learned,” an eclectic list of just what it says from someone different every month.
And the writing. Oh, man, every word, no matter who’s writing it, just sings. For some reason, I guess because the target audience is male, everything seems to have so much more impact. Even the fluff pieces seem to read more powerfully than they do in women’s magazines. And whenever there’s an interview with a man I love, (like Daniel Craig, who graced the cover last September), I get a different view of him than I would from a women’s or entertainment magazine. The fact that the subject is being interviewed by a man for a men’s magazine makes his answers much more frank than they would be otherwise. There’s just so much to learn about men in these pages.
For the same reason that I think all men should read romance novels, I think all women should read ESQUIRE. It’s not anti-woman, as a lot of women seem to think it is. (See above columns by women.) Although the magazine without question appeals to men, there’s no woman-bashing going on. The editors and writers of ESQUIRE are, for sure, unapologetic in their appreciation of feminine beauty. But they admire women with brains, too, they’re impressed by women in power, and they love a woman with a sense of humor. They feel about women the way we feel about men. And they’re a lot of fun to boot.
Are there any other closet ESQUIRE readers out there? What are your favorite magazines and why? What are some lesser known gems in the periodical world? What have you learned from your favorite magazines that you haven’t learned elsewhere?
While Jane Austen was right, and it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife, what’s really important to me right now is that it’s a universal truth that a writer is in desperate need of desk toys — especially while finishing a book.
Right now I’m writing book two of DARKNESS CHOSEN, the paranormal series I have coming out this summer, and I’m making the last, desperate push toward the two most wonderful words in the English language — THE END.
I have a friend whose name I won’t mention (Susan Mallery/SIZZLING) who writes like the wind. I know this because one time I called her all aglow and boasted, “I just wrote four pages in an hour.” And after a delicate hesitation, she said, “When I really get going, I write ten pages an hour.” This explains why she writes six to seven books a year. It doesn’t explain why we’ve been friends for fourteen years, but since she has agreed to visit Squawk next week and share some of her secrets, I’ll give you the story then.
But actually, four pages an hour is really flying for me. Dialogue comes quickly, description does not. I fumble my way through introspection, and starting a chapter is always hell and usually involves writing something that’s wrong and is going to get cut before I reach what is right.
What was my point? Oh, yeah.
A writer like me spends time staring into space, and that means I need desk toys to play with … I mean, to help me focus my creative energy.
I have my yellow plastic smiley face hammer — I shake it, it squeaks and drives the dogs crazy. (That explains the smiley face.) plus it has soap in the handle and a tiny bubble wand so I can blow bubbles. I’ve discovered bubbles are very important for the creative process.
Of course, I have the necessary toy which anybody who uses a computer should have — a squeezy toy to exercise my hand. Mine is in the shape of a brain, which leads to wonderful telephone conversations. “What are you doing?” “I’m playing with my brain.”
I have the cow screen cleaner. Honest, its belly is a screen cleaner for my computer, but look into its eyes — this is a cow you can confide in. Remember, if you talk to the cow, you’re not crazy until it answers back.
Connie gave me (and all the Squawkers) a real ego booster — a silver human figure prostrating itself … toward me. (Well really, who else?)
Until author Geralyn Dawson (GIVE HIM THE SLIP) bought this for me in New Orleans, I hadn’t realized that no romance writer’s desk would be complete without a walking penis. I wind it up, it walks across my desk while bobbing up and down. If only … no, never mind.
I keep my pink princess crown close for those moments of deep despair when I realize that a) I’ve been faking it for thirty-two books and someone’s going to catch on soon and b) I will never finish this book on time, never never never. Wearing the crown reminds that while I definitely need to take the job seriously, I should never take myself seriously. Forgetting that I’m wearing the crown and wandering downstairs reminds me that it’s not fair to make the FedEx man laugh so hard he drops the package into the puddle.
Most important, my daughter bought me the rock that is my inspiration. All I have to do is read it to remember exactly where I need to put my hero and heroine. (Between a rock and a ...)
What great desk toys do you own? What do you do to take a break while you work? Talk to a cow? Squeeze your brain?… (Of note — if you own a walking penis, there’s a pretty good chance people are going to laugh when you clean off your desk and say, “There’s my penis! I thought I’d lost it.”)
Before sitting down to watch Almodover’s fabulous and fabled new film, VOLVER, be prepared to have to suspend your disbelief. Not at the notion that mothers can return from the dead to take care of their daughters, sisters and children of their enemies, but that the radiant Penelope Cruz, make-up flawless and bosom displayed to enormous advantage in every single frame, couldn’t land a better job than as a janitor at a hospital.
VOLVER (Spanish for “to return”) begins in a small town’s graveyard in La Mancha, Spain swarming with chatty women busily scrubbing family gravestones. Right away I am hooked. I am huge fan of kitsch, the rituals surrounding death, and communities of women and VOLVER includes all of these elements in abundance. Penelope Cruz plays Raimunda, strong, resilient, unflinching yet damaged who, along with her sister and fourteen year old daughter, is visiting her dotty aged aunt. The death of that same aunt some weeks later, propels the plot. Though she would like to go to the funeral, Raimunda cannot, because her daughter has just killed her husband and she’s hidden the body in the freezer of a nearby restaurant she is supposed to be showing to prospective buyers.
Instead she takes over the business. When the spirit of her dead mother returns to Madrid with her sister, the family secrets begin tumbling out as the unsettled ghost strives to breach the estrangement that kept her from caring for her daughters and granddaughter in life. There are no men to speak of in this film. And even when men do have a profound impact on the narrative, their acts seem to be more natural disasters than anything else.
This is simply a wonderful movie. There is not one maudlin moment to make you wince. Its preposterous, moving, ironic funny and unsettling but always honest. Cruz reminds me of a young Sophia Loren or Melina Mecouri. The rest of the cast is stellar. Be advised, the production values are not American. You’ll love this film for the characters and the story, not the eye-candy. (Though my husband disagrees)
VOLVER is a Spanish film with subtitles. What are your favorite foreign films and do you prefer yours dubbed or undubbed?
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