Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Simon Says Sing Cinderella

Ok. I admit it. I've formed an emotional attachment. Generally, I don't do that. I'm a single girl in my 30's so I've learned to pick and choose who to cozy up to or else I'd be suffering heartbreak on a weekly basis. Even more disturbing, I've formed an emotional attachment with someone on TV. Generally, I DO do that. Emotional attachments with fictional TV characters are much easier to cope with. I think it was Heather Havrilesky who once said that we're rapidly becoming a nation who'd rather watch "Friends" than talk to our friends. Yeah, sadly, that's me. I have three simmering crushes on TV characters right now. One is Alan Shore of "Boston Legal", and another is Tony Soprano of "The Sopranos". (The past couple weeks had me tense as I sweated out the possible death of Tony.)

But a new darkness looms. The darkness concerning my third emotional attachment. The disturbing part of this one is that it's with someone on TV, but it's not a "character" exactly. It's Elliott Yamin on American Idol:

Yes, I have money on the fool. But I put money on a lot of things and don't get "involved". But this Elliott thing is different. It's disturbing. It's disturbing for the obvious reasons of how painfully cheezy and adolescent it is. But beyond those things, it's also downright wrong. I mean, it's Elliott Yamin. He of the peculiar facial hair and fucked up teeth. There, I said it. I admit it. His teeth are fucked up. Let's move along.

Maybe I'm caught up in the Cinderella / dark horse allure that happened with March Madness. (George Mason, anyone? And, didn't I see a picture of Elliott holding up a George Mason t-shirt about a month ago? Does that mean something? Is the universe aligning to tell us that not all Cinderella hopes are lost?)

American Idol isn't just a popular TV show. Right now, it's a marketing juggernaut that's pure gold for the producers. As the money-making machine it is, spawning tours and CDs and even spin offs, it has to be protected at nearly all costs. The formula of it has to be preserved. And now, in its fifth season, that formula is well known: The pimping of certain contestants, Simon's machiavellian manipulations of the audience to get them to vote appropriately, the "rising star" dynamic.

But doesn't it just feel a little "off" this year. It felt a little stale a few weeks ago when it was already obvious that Chris Daughtry would eventually collect his crown (having to forsake the call of Fuel to be their frontman), much in the same way that seasons three and four were about watching Fantasia and then Carrie gain and grow their fandom and accept their spoils.

But those two, Fantasia and Carrie, their beginnings were different than how Chris started off on Idol. Am I the only one who recalls that even though the show heavily pimped Chris from the start, Simon didn't? Simon, he of the spectacular eye for talent. Simon, who boasts of being able to recognize the "wow" factor. When he saw Chris, he didn't see the X factor and told him he lacked charisma. I almost fell off my chair when Simon said that. What I thought was, "Holy shit, Simon's even more heterosexual than I thought, cause Chris is sex incarnate and women will eat him up."

And then there was Taylor Hicks. Simon was even tougher on Taylor, even though it was blatantly apparent that viewers were going to go ape over him. Simon was so rough and so wrong that when Taylor broke the top 24, Simon recanted his words and basically told him I was wrong about you.

Who did Simon love immediately? Kellie Pickler. They've told us Kellie's sad story from the first time we met her and immediately they built her "image". The problem is, that image is quickly falling apart. It's been said that it takes someone very smart to play dumb. Well, Kellie, the jig is up. We all know you're not as stupid as you act. But we know that because you're not nearly smart enough to pull off being stupid, either.

But while these three sucked up the precious, star-building screen time that every successful idol finalist has been privilege to in the past, we saw nothing of Elliott Yamin. They haven't pushed his hard luck story, they didn't even show his audition. And though Randy falls all over him, Simon's praise has rarely risen above tepid for Elliott, with the major exception of the first week when he told him that he was "potentially the best male vocalist" the show had ever seen.

At this point, I have to wonder about Simon. Is his mojo seriously as whacked this season as it seems when it comes to spotting the talent, or is he even more savvy than I thought, and is he building a "surprise" season for us?

He publicly picked Chris as his winner and then basically sucked Daughtry's dick on TV after Chris gave that wholly average performance of "Walk the Line". I don't believe for one second that the AI machine isn't tuned into the news about itself, and that performance brought about a backlash that had some people wondering if a fucking senate judiciary committee meeting about the plagiarism of that arrangement was on deck. I mean, it kind of eclipsed the whole Vanilla Ice / Queen controversy of pop music past. (Oh god, wouldn't it be great if we'd have some lip-synching MilliVanilli fiasco this season to really heat up the anger backlash?) So this week rolls around and Simon lays into Chris and rips him a new one for doing *exactly* what Simon had praised him for the week before -- doing the same droning bullshit thing every week. Only this time, Chris didn't Creedify the song he sang, he actually sang a shitty Creed song! It doesn't get much more delicious than that for me. Don't get me wrong. Chris is hot. I'd still fuck him. I just don't want to have to listen to him sing anymore. Especially not one more of his shitty alterna-rock numbers by CreedFuelStainedWhatever. Just do it already, Chris. Sing Nickelback. You know you fucking want to.

Meanwhile, in those interim weeks, we've had to endure Ace's out-of-tune, preening, camera-fucking every week as substance-addled Paula nearly has unassisted orgasms over him while we also watch Paris's arrogance become more obvious and see Katharine's nerves make her sing off-key on several occasions. Lisa methodically self-destructs, Bucky continues to underwhelm, Kellie finally shuts the fuck up, and Mandisa? Mandisa idiotically levels a veiled slam against one of her bases by calling out "lifestyles". Bitch, please. Oh yeah, Mandisa can yell and make it sound good. But you know who loves those hard-driving dance remix grooves that are belted out by big women? Gay men in clubs, that's who. Marketing suicide, Mandisa. And Taylor? Yeah. Taylor. His spastic fits are starting to annoy people. Cause people love a gimmick, but what they love even more is to shred that gimmick once it gets stale. But Taylor showed great instincts by picking up on that vibe and standing still and singing a song this week. He's no dummy, that Taylor, but he does need to kick the shit out of the wardrobe department.

So that leaves us with Elliott, who's still largely the forgotten man in the whole mess of this top 10. On a whole, the top 10 show was a fucking disaster, so it didn't bode particularly well that they'd left the prized pimp spot to Yamin, finally. And what the fuck does Elliott do with this prize he's been handed? He comes out dressed like Eminem, doing a tricked-out, funked-up version of a past Idol favorite song while hopping around like Frodo from da hood and he even forgot a couple lyrics. It was a mess. It was a complete fucking mess of a performance. A glorious, energetic, throw-down, stop-fucking-forgetting-me, original and different, best-of-the-night beautiful mess that may have actually put him on the Idol map.

People had been saying the man can *sang*. But then they also said he was too nervous in his big stage performances and maybe couldn't bring it. Consider it brung. And another thing: His teeth? His hair? His what-the-fuck-ever the shallow fucks see wrong with him? I don't care. He's adorable. He's fucking hot. Know why he's hot? Cause he's got the X factor. That's right, Simon. Do you see it, yet?

Here's my question: Have you seen it all along, Simon? Is that why you tossed out that daunting breadcrumb "best male vocalist" of a hook after his first performance, only to then methodically chip away at his confidence every week to see if he'd take the heat and stand up and do what you said and grow up with it? Cause that's exactly what he's done. He doesn't roll his eyes and he doesn't get pissy and he doesn't look glum. He just gets back on the stage and does it different, and does it better. And even when he's fucking up a little, he's still got "it". I can NOT be the only one who sees this rare combination of utter lack of assholery plus bashful charm in him.

Hard luck stories? Word is that Yamin wouldn't ever complain, so I won't picklerize him too much, but let's just say this: His story, it just makes me want to hug him. But that's not the issue. The issue is his voice. His voice, it just makes me want to make out with him.

So let's talk about that for a second. Cause boyfriend doesn't have a voice. He's got A Voice. You know what I mean? I mean he's got a voice that's immediately recognizable as Elliott Yamin's voice. Let alone that he never hits a bad note, it's well beyond that. When you hear Van Morrison, you know it's Van Morrison. When you hear Lou Rawls, you know it's Lou Rawls. And when you hear Elliott Yamin, you know it's Elliott Yamin. He's got that kind of voice. It's an evocative, sultry, emotional voice. In the old days, it could've made women toss their panties to him. Now? We just sit at home and let our panties get wet while listening to him.

They say he'll never win cause he doesn't have "the look". Isn't that the point of being a star? They don't look like other people, they look like -- them, in all their quirky glory. I mean, fuck, Mick Jagger sold a shitload of records in his day, and he banged a lot of pretty women, too.

So Simon, tell me. Are you really such a puppet to popular opinion that you pick your favorite (Chris) and then capriciously throw him to the wolves at the first sign of discord? Or DO you have that eye for talent? DO the American Idol producers actually know how to breathe fresh life into the well-tread competition by changing gears this year and constructing a storyline like this?

Most importantly -- do Cinderella stories still happen? I mean, like I said, I'm a single girl in my 30's. I'm trying really hard here to still believe in happy endings. Is it so bleak that the best singer honestly doesn't have a chance to win a singing competition? Are we seriously, as a society, that moored to our superficial, preconceived, spoon-fed notions about who "should" win based on image? Or does Yamin have a shot, here?

Dark horse, Cinderella, American Idol winner Elliott Yamin. I like the sound of that. It gives me hope, in many ways.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Submissions wanted -- ShatterColors

A brand new literary 'zine on the scene is ShatterColors. It's so new, they're still building the site. But the submissions pages and about pages are up already. What they're looking for:
Short stories and novel excerpts between 1,200 and 8,000 words in length. Subject matter is anything that occurs within the realm of actual human experience and obeys the laws of biology and physics (i.e., no SciFi, fantasy, monsters, et al); aside from that, no preference as long as it's given an emotional treatment. SCLR realizes "emotional" is extremely general terminology, open to an endless variety of subjective interpretations: we've no wish to restrict authors to the shades of emotion they wish to convey. Authenticity and vividness of the conveyance is SCLR's only real criteria for acceptance.

Help Wanted -- TQR

A new issue of TQR is due to come out soon. But I also noticed that they're looking for help with the next issue. If you're interested, check here.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Ellen Meister in NY Daily News

Ellen Meister's upcoming book Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA just got a tasty little write up in the NY Daily News! Here's the link. Scroll down and check it out under "side dishes."

Quiction & Tripp

This week's Quiction is up, and G.C. Smith correctly predicted the defeat of Duke by LSU in it.

Also, found a story by Tripp Reade while clicking around. It's a spicy one! Live at Clean Sheets, it's called "Prove it".

Also, all you erotica writers out there, Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz was very cool to pass along a heads up to me regarding a submissions call. I'd love to get on board with this, but don't currently have anything to sub. Click the link for details:

Desdmona’s 2006 Hard-Boiled Sex Contest -- featuring a $500 first prize!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Stories of Strength

I just came across this today and was mighty impressed. A bunch of writers got together and put together an anthology to help benefit disaster relief charities in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They've published the book and all proceeds will go to help relief efforts. Very cool. The anthology is called Stories of Strength and they've reached the $3,000 mark now. Good on them! I just ordered a copy and I'm looking forward to checking it out.

I found this book by following a link via a comment left on my blog from Jenna Glatzer. I'm just checking her out now, but she seems pretty damn cool, and funny! Maybe we can revive the interview thingy on here and get a guest appearance with her.


Ok. I know I admitted that my bracket was destroyed, but I was still harboring some miniscule hope that I'd be able to pull out something in the office pool if I got the final four and then final two to fall into place. Alas, with Duke falling to LSU, tis not to be.

I just have to say though, I like J.J. Redick. And Gerry McNamara. McNamara finished his college career last week, and I'm sure it didn't end how he'd have dreamt it. As a former athlete, I feel twinges of sadness for him (and now today for Redick) for how it all ended up. But they had stellar careers, and fantastic years and I hope, for their sake, that's what they carry with them: The big picture and all their accomlishments and successes. They both put on a great show this year, all season long.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Hoops -- Idol

So. My bracket is destroyed. Utterly. I picked a couple longshots as upsets, but unfortunately Bradley wasn't one of them. And I also didn't plan on Syracuse getting beat in the first round, despite everyone warning me of the 5-12 curse. Anyhow.

I am a gambler. So I have a new horse that I'm riding to victory. The race, my dears, is American Idol. Oh yes. Even I.

My pick is the longshot:

Sure he's not as pretty as the dumb blonde. But the dumb blonde isn't as pretty as sexually ambiguous blushing falsetto. My pick doesn't spaz out and perform cunnilingus on harmonicas, and he doesn't Creedify every poor song. My pick, he can sing. Sure, sure, some may say he's a train-wreck to look at. Oh, but I disagree. My pick isn't kewpie-cute, but he's not ugly. He's fugly. And I do mean that in the sexiest, fugliest way possible. Hell, I'd hit it!

He can't give me back round 2 of the NCAA. But please, Elliott, keep me in the Idol pool.

Monday, March 20, 2006

A month without cigarettes

So it's been a month that I haven't been smoking. I've given cigarettes up for over three months before, so I certainly wouldn't say that I've kicked it yet. I doubt I'll ever kick it completely, because more than the physical cravings, I seem to have a fairly potent mental connection with smoking. In a nutshell, it's this: I think non-smokers suck.

If you're a non-smoker, or someone who's successfully quit, please try not to be offended by that. I assure you, I'm not attacking you personally. In fact, on a personal level, I think you're great. You're certainly smarter and healthier than I am.

But, for me, the problem is, generally speaking, I've always found smokers to be a whole lot more fun.

I'm not gonna give you a whole bunch of psycho-babble and shit, but parts of my identity are tied pretty strongly with being a smoker. So suffice to say that right now, this rebellion is kicking in pretty hard, so I'm left with this strong ambivalence about giving up smoking for good. On the one hand, I'd like to quit and kick the habit just to prove that I can quit and do it. On the other hand, if I'm successful, I'll be a non-smoker, which is something I've never wanted to be, and is something I still don't want to be.

So which do I want more? The satisfaction of knowing I can change myself? Or the satisfaction of being who I am?

Fucking paradoxes.

Mutual Holdings -- buy direct

Yes I've posted this before, but I've had a decent response so I wanted to post a reminder to keep the info easily available.

In case you're interested in my latest book, Mutual Holdings but can't find it at a Barnes & Noble near you, you can buy it directly from me.

I'm selling these at a deep discount, so the price is cheaper than it is at B&N and this price includes first class shipping. The total price is $9.75 for US residents, $11.75 for Canadian and international orders.

I can't get the little "buy now" button to work properly inside a post here, but if you're going for the US buying option of $9.75, you can click the little button over on the right that says "buy now".

Alternately, for a Canadian or international order, you can visit my webpage here to order.

You can also find several other options on my site, such as how to purchase it along with discounted, signed copies of 24/7 or Trattoria. Again, those buying options are right here on my website.

Thanks. Thus ends the commercial for the day.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Cribbing Collins

Look, I won't lie. I didn't come up with all this news from abroad. Myfanwy Collins led me toward it. So, instead of reading this post, you could just peruse her blog for a while and follow the links. But things that I know now because of her:

The Million Writer Awards--notable stories of 2005 are now listed. The top ten will be listed on April 1. Congratulations to all of the notables! I am still checking out this list, but I got really excited when I saw Tripp Reade's "Darryl's 1890". listed! GO TRIPP!!

There is a very good interview by Susan Henderson with Ron Currie. If you are a writer and you don't know Ron Currie, you'll know of him soon, and you'll seethe with jealousy ;) And if you're a reader and don't know Ron Currie, you'll know him soon, and you'll be glad. (His novel-in-stories, "God Is Dead," will be published by Viking in 2007.)

Myfanwy is the featured essay this week on Jordan Rosenfeld's blog, and it's a great one!

Ellen Meister was the previous essay, and that's a good one, too! Also, a big clap for Ellen, who just today finished her second novel! (and it's already sold!)

In other news, Don Capone REALLY needs to update his blog ;)

And Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz is back from San Fran! She'll have pics soon!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

American Cool -- Ruthie's Club

I have a story live this week at Ruthie's Club. I'm very pleased, because this is one of my favorite stories I've ever written. It's called "American Cool 101" and I hope you'll check it out. It's got a great illo by Ted Hammond.

Also coming up at Ruthie's for April 10th is their pirate festival. Gar! I was lucky enough to have a story picked up for that issue, too. If you aren't a member, you can at least get a free tour to look around the site and see if you'd like to join, so do drop by and check them out.

I should have some other fairly big news on here to announce before long. I just like to wait until ink has dried and everything is definite before blabbing, but hopefully it won't be long.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz -- reading live

You can catch GJM reading live, this Sunday, March 12 in San Francisco due to her winning the 2005 Sou-Making Literary Prize Award.

Full details:

Each year, on a Sunday afternoon in March, all prize winners and honorable mentions from the previous year's contest are invited to read from their works at the Koret Auditorium in the new San Francisco Main Library, Civic Center.

This year,the Soul-Making Literary Prize Awards Reading for winners of the 2005 contest will take place on Sunday afternoon March 12, 2006.

Doors to the Koret Auditoriumopen at 12:30 and program begins promptly at 1:00 PM.
A reception follows the program in the Latino/Hispanic Room (across the hall)

Program will include art exhibit, dance and music performance and literary flyers, brochures and other hand-outs relative to individual writers, as well as groups and organizations that support them, will be available.

The event is free and open to the public and will be taped for future viewing as a two hour special on Access San Francisco Channel 29.

Yay! Knock 'em dead, GJM!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz -- Winner!

Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz's story "Tears" WON the CAROLYN A. CLARK FLASH FICTON PRIZE !!

Congrats, GJM!!

Oh happy day for talented flashers that I know.

Edward Moore -- Nominated

Edward Moore's "Supreme Court" has been nominated by Flash Me magazine for the Speculative Literature Foundation's Fountain Award!

The Fountain Award will be judged by a select jury, and chosen from work nominated by magazine and anthology editors from work published in the previous calendar year (2005). The winner will be announced in mid-May of 2006. A prize of $1000 given to a short story of exceptional literary quality.

For more information, please see their website:

Congrats Edward, and good luck!