Tuesday, February 27, 2007

An Ode to E-Mail

I've been thinking a lot about modern technology lately, mainly because Vanessa and Ian keep talking about the possibility that he'll be getting new orders. which would mean that they'd move and take the Wonder Grandchild with them. I've told my fabulous son-in-law that he's only allowed to move away if my daughter has a cell phone and e-mail access so I can talk with her every day -- and I mean it, kind of. Maybe I'm just spoiled, or maybe it's because I've raised my kids alone so we've grown very, very close over the years, but the idea of living any distance at all from them makes me deeply sad. The good thing is, I can write from anywhere, so I guess I could follow them around the world . . . but that makes me feel a bit like a stalker or one of those possessive, obsessive mothers-in-law who ruin their kids' marriages and that's not really the image I'm going for. And it's not as if this is the 1920s and the world is still the way it was when my grandmother got married. She left her home in Arkansas and traveled out west with her new husband, and she saw her parents only twice more in her lifetime. Just a few years before that, people moved away and never saw their families again. That's just how it was. So I'm thinking about modern technology, and feeling incredibly grateful for things like cell phones and e-mail and webcams and all the other things that allow us to stay in touch with one another, no matter where we live in the world. I can let go so my daughter can live her own life, and experience her own adventures, and at the same time, we can stay in touch often enough to keep me from slipping into a very unattractive pity party!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

What's Up With David Caruso?

I watch plenty of television, but I have different tastes than a lot of people, I guess. Back in the 70s, everybody watched Dallas. I preferred Knots Landing. People raved about ER. I was busy watching Chicago Hope. Every woman of a certain age I've ever met was in love with Paul McCartney when she was a girl. I was gaga over George Harrison. The list goes on and on . . . and on.
Anyway. While CSI in its various forms has taken over the airwaves, as of yesterday afternoon, I still hadn't watched a single episode. But last night my daughter and son-in-law introduced me to CSI: Miami, and I have to say, I think they chose the wrong version of CSI to start me out with.
With apologies in advance to all you CSI: Miami fans out there, I'm still trying to figure out why people watch it. The plot wasn't bad. I was interested enough in the storyline to keep watching. Well, and I was holding my sleeping granddaughter, so that probably contributed to my reluctance to announce that "this is [beat, beat] the worst acting I've ever seen in my life," right before flinging myself out of the room. Okay, it's not really the worst acting I've ever seen. I could name a few other shows with much worse . . . but I'd be embarrassed to admit that I watch them.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. The first thing I noticed is that everyone -- and I mean everyone on the law enforcement side of the episode spoke in a hushed voice throughout the episode. It was so odd and unnatural and noticeable, I'm seriously wondering if there's a rule on set that no one can speak louder than David Caruso.
I spent the next few scenes wondering why Caruso wore that pinched gnome-like (strangely reminiscent of Jim Carrey as the Grinch) expression. Was he trying to be a Columbo-esque character? I still don't know if the expression is natural (in which case I apologize profusely) or acting.
But all of that paled after I saw Caruso deliver his first big one-liner. I don't remember what it was, and what he said isn't important. What is important is that he stood perpendicular to the camera, only the right side of his face exposed. The person he was supposed to be talking to supposedly stood where te camera was, while Caruso stared straight ahead. (If you're having trouble following, that means that Caruso is not even looking at the person he's talking to.)
The conversation went on for a couple of lines, and then Caruso delivered a zinging one-liner of some sort before throwing himself backwards out of the shot.
What made this particular episode weird is that he did that not once, not twice, not even three times -- but at least four times in the same episode, and it's possible he did it even more times than that. I don't remember. I think I began blocking them out part way through the show.
I mean, who does that? In real life, that is? Have you ever actually known someone who not only spent multiple conversations not looking at you, but who also repeatedly threw himself backwards to get out of the room? Since I've never watched Caruso in anything before, I'm not famliar with his acting style, so I'm not really pointing the finger at him for being a bad actor. Maybe he's being directed by a really bad director. I don't know. I just know that it was distracting enough to put me off CSI: Miami for good.
In honor of last night's experience, I share with you this video clip I found on YouTube this morning. Enjoy!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Yesterday, it was spring at my house. Sixty degrees, lovely, sunny. Tulips had broken through the soil. This morning, I woke up to this:

The pictures don't really do it justice. First, I took them with a phone camera. Second, the angle doesn't really show that there's at least 5" of snow there at 7:00 in the morning. And third, you can't feel how cold it is!

But it doesn't really matter because I'm celebrating this morning. First, yesterday I finally shipped the completed manuscript of PEPPERMINT TWISTED. To the best of my knowledge, it's scheduled for December 2007 release, but I'll keep you posted if that changes. And second, today I get to spend time with the World's Most Incredible Grandchild for the second time this week.

Now I ask you . . . if you were me, wouldn't you drive through a raging snowstorm to get to that child???

Friday, February 16, 2007

On Monday of this week, an 18-year-old man worked an eight-hour shift at his job, leaving work at five o'clock in the afternoon. At six-thirty, he parked at a shopping mall no more than ten miles from my house and began killing people. He met two people in the parking lot as he walked toward the mall and shot them both. Just inside the mall doors, he encountered a woman and shot her. He made his way a few feet further into the mall and shot five people inside a gift shop. He wore a bandolero filled with ammunition and carried a backpack, also filled with ammunition and carrying a second weapon. An off-duty police officer from a city 40 miles away, just leaving a restaurant after an early Valentine's Day dinner with his wife, engaged the shooter and kept him busy until local police could arrive. By the time it was all over six people, including the shooter, lay dead. Four more were transported to local hospitals in critical condition. Many people around the city have been in shock since this happened, and I guess I'm one of them. I'm not one of those carry flowers to the site, tote my candle to the library and hold vigil types, but I am struggling to make sense of it all. I just tend to ponder these things on my own. Speculation is running wild, of course. It always does when we're faced with a case like this one. Rumors flew as the story was unfolding, and the press reported it all. It took a while to figure out that the "second gunman seen running from the mall, wearing a black trenchcoat" was a figment of someone's imagination. Reporters standing next to each other and sharing a microphone reported conflicting information, making it obvious that nobody was actually listening to what anyone else said. Now, three days after the shootings, the shooter's motives are still unknown. If anyone does know what set him off, they're not talking. Was this young man, a Bosnian refugee, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder? Was he out for some kind of revenge? On last night's news, a woman who had fished the same spot as the gunman in the past recalled that he got upset when he saw someone herding rats. He was concerned that the rats not be hurt because they were living things, and you don't hurt living things. So how does a kid who wants to protect rats from harm turn into a cold-blooded killer? The young man's parents are devastated. The local Bosnian community in the city is in shock. Most people realize this is an isolated incident--one young man with issues--but there are a few who are angry with the Bosnian population of the city, as if they expect the entire group to rise up with shotguns at any moment. I guess situations such as this one make us all go a little nuts, present company not excluded. I just couldn't let more days pass without expressing my condolences to the victims and their families. My heart goes out to them all.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Rainy Sunday

It's a rainy Sunday, and I'm feeling lazy. For the past couple of nights, I've been sleeping like an actor in an Ambien ad -- the one who falls asleep and then wakes up over and over again. I don't have a little lamp bouncing around over my head, but I might as well for all the sleep I'm getting.

I'm not sure whether it's me waking on my own, or the dog keeping me awake. She's been acting out for the past couple of days, ever since my oldest daughter accidentally spilled a little garlic-butter sauce on the dog's thigh. Apparently Angel doesn't like garlic-butter sauce. We've tried washing it out of her fur, but her nose is much more sensitive than ours are, I guess. I can't smell it, but I'm guessing she can. That may be why she nudges me awake once an hour.

Life is finally calming down (knock wood). My mother is recovering from my father's death little by little, and Miss Abigail is doing extremely well. She came home the week before Christmas, and she's thriving. After spending the first three months of her life in an incubator with very little human touch, she loves, loves, loves to be held. By the strangest stroke of luck, Grandmom loves, loves, loves to hold her --which means that the two of us get along very well.

She's a very hard worker, our Little Miss Abigail. You have no idea how long it took her to get that thumb in her mouth, but she never gives up! She's truly an inspiration -- and a miracle.

On top of all that, I even feel as if I'm getting my brain back (yay! It's been a long, foggy time!) so I'm actually able to write again without feeling as if I'm sawing off a limb while I'm doing it. I've had a lot of e-mail asking about the third book in the candy shop mystery series. For those who've asked, I'm hard at work on the book (Peppermint Twisted) even as we speak, and assuming I can actually get it finished in the next couple of weeks, it's slotted for December 2007 release.

So while I'm here, curled up under a blanket on a wet Sunday morning, I want to send out a HUGE thank you to readers who haven't given up on me! It means more to me than I can say.