The Vast Wasteland

Sheila's rantings, most likely of no interest, on TV, movies, books, music, etc.

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Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

I live in Seattle, am married, have two cats (one is a genius, the other insane), and am a mild-mannered copy editor by day. I love horseback riding, coffee, reading, TV, movies, music, playing (too much) World of Warcraft, and lying on the couch. This isn't a personal blog, but rather a place for me to vent about movies, TV shows, books, music, etc. Thanks for checking in!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

More About Twilight

You may remember a book review I did on Twilight, a teen vampire/romance novel. It turns out that this book is developing quite a following. Interesting article here.

VM at Comic-Con

Going through TV withdrawls? Yeah, me too. Luckily I've been keeping occupied with Warcraft (death to murlocs!). I do, however, have some actual Veronica Mars news to report! Got this today from their PR department:

We're planning on doing a "Veronica Mars" Q&A panel at Comic-Con on Saturday, July 22 in San Diego with creator Rob Thomas, Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni, Francis Capra, Ryan Hansen, and Michael Muhney all confirmed to participate. The panel will be moderated by Daniel Manu from TVGuide.com and will go from 4:30pm to 5:30pm with an autograph signing to follow.

So, if you're going to Comic-Con, make sure you stop by for me. *sniff*


Friday, June 23, 2006

Tater Tot 2006 Awards!

A complet list of the results can be found here.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Connie Chung--Seriously?

Oh man, oh man. How embarrassing. Is she on crack? The full scoop--including a link to the YouTube video--can be found here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Looking for a Good Book?

Ladies and gentlemen, start your summer reading! This is (selected) text from an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Full text here.

By John Marshall
P-I BOOK CRITIC

Life has changed and so has summer reading.

The hectic demands of daily life in the 21st century mean that finding sufficient time to read books has become increasingly difficult. So summer, which promises at least some respite from work and school commitments, has become a far more crucial time for serious reading, perhaps the only such time left in the year.

Of course, many people still equate summer reading with a beach chair and the latest seasonal page-turner from Janet Evanovich ("Twelve Sharp"), Nora Roberts ("Angels Fall") or Patricia Cornwell ("At Risk"). But others will use their summer reading to savor an unfamiliar author, an unexplored subject, an intriguing debut.

The summer of 2006 seems particularly well-suited to such discovery, since no single new book has emerged as a dominant must-read in early reviews. The Manhattan publishing world may still wind down during July and August, with half-day Fridays the house rule, but publishing has already provided many worthy titles for whiling away summer hours. No longer is this the lowly season of throwaway fluff.

DEBUT NOVELS

"Instant Love" by Jami Attenberg (Shaye Areheart Books, 267 pages, $21).

Three very different women who are caught in the web of desires and disappointments that often characterize the search for love are the foundation for this delightful debut. What differentiates Attenberg's novel from so many other tales of searching singletons is how she adroitly orchestrates her disparate characters through many settings and cities, including San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Portland and Seattle (where the author once lived). "Instant Love" is far from froth, despite its considerable humor; this novel is filled with hard-won truths about the costs and compromises of the matching game.

"Across a Hundred Mountains" by Reyna Grande (Atria Books, 255 pages, $23).

The issue of Mexican immigration into the United States is all over the news these days, but the human stories of those affected are sometimes lost in the onslaught of angry rhetoric. This quiet-spoken, yet eloquent little novel offers a powerful portrait of the lives of three women along the border, including a 14-year-old Mexican intent on finding her missing father in the States, a young American runaway prostitute who befriends her and a Los Angeles social worker returning to Mexico in search of her own father. Author Grande, who emigrated from Mexico to the U.S. at the age of 8 with her parents, has been honored as an Emerging Voices Fellow by PEN, the noted writers organization.

"The Birthdays" by Heidi Pitlor (W.W. Norton, 355 pages, $23.95).

Summer is the time for family reunions and one of those signal events is the setting for this empathetic examination of the intense dynamics between loved ones. The Millers are gathering to celebrate the 75th birthday of the patriarch in a summer home off the coast of Maine, with all three siblings facing the arrival of their first child. Then tragedy intrudes, a seismic shift. Pitlor demonstrates a remarkable understanding of family relationships and transitions in this uncertain age.

NORTHWEST

"Song of the Crow" by Layne Maheu (Unbridled Books, 244 pages, $23.95).

No need to spend a long time pondering which book is this summer's most inventive; hands-down champ is this knockout debut by a Seattle carpenter. Maheu has crafted a remarkable retelling of the Noah saga from the perspective of, believe it or not, a crow who witnesses the unfolding drama. This is far more than a lit gimmick; this richly imagined novel delivers an important parable for today from a startlingly fresh perspective.

Layne Maheu appears on June 28 at the Ballard branch of Seattle Public Library; July 6 at Queen Anne Books; July 18 at Third Place Books; July 22 at SoulFood Books in Redmond.

"Seven Loves" by Valerie Trueblood (Little, Brown, 232 pages, $23.95).

Not all debut novels mark the emergence of twentysomething authors, nor should they. Trueblood, a 61-year-old Seattle writer, has crafted a quietly dazzling examination of the various great loves of a woman at maturity, loves that include her husband, her children and the man whose love imperiled her placid life during a passionate extramarital affair. Trueblood demonstrates mastery of psychological insight and creative language.

"The Cottagers" by Marshall N. Klimasewiski (W.W. Norton, 317 pages, $24.95).

A Vancouver Island small town outside Victoria is the setting for this tense debut novel that focuses on the subcurrents that often rule personal relationships. A 19-year-old townie, bored by his life and seeking new thrills, becomes fixated on two vacationing American couples who are hoping to rekindle their former relationship. The disappearance of one of the vacationers rachets up this fine novel's drama along many fault lines. It is a sophisticated reader's brand of thriller.

BEACH BAG BOOKS

"Lost Hearts in Italy" by Andrea Lee (Random House, 243 pages, $23.95).

Two happily married Americans with a new life in a foreign land, the romantic allures of Rome and other capitals of Europe, a passionate affair with an Italian billionaire -- all the perfect ingredients for a dry martini of a summer read. Lee brings far better literary credentials to this undertaking than the usual, dissecting what takes place through the alternating reflections of the three participants. But the Italian-based American writer, with her first novel in two decades, certainly does not stint on the sizzle and the atmospherics.

"But Enough About Me" by Jancee Dunn (HarperCollins, 274 pages, $24.95).

Celebrity cravings can turn acute during summer, when vacationing stars hide from the prying eyes of their tabloid shadows, but Dunn's raucous memoir can sate any such hunger. Madonna? Bono? Aguilera? Brad? Dolly? The naked breast of the nursing Lisa Bonet? Dunn, a vet reporter for Rolling Stone, has got them all in these madcap pages that document "a Jersey girl's unlikely adventures among the absurdly famous." A scrumptious raspberry trifle topped with whipped cream and Cointreau. Yum, yum.

"Strangers' Gate" by Tom Casey (Tor/Forge, 254 pages, $24.95).

A sexually enflamed couple on the frenzied lam pursued by thuggish psychos, and the life-and-death chase taking place across lush settings of the Caribbean -- can you, boys and girls, spell surefire summer thriller? Add in, for good measure, drugs, Wall Street connections, airborne derring-do, porn, jealousy, revenge, murder ... plus a deadpan narrator who intones, "Loving Margo had always been difficult, like learning to write with your left hand for no sensible reason." This second book by an international jet jockey turned novelist is a feverish noir trip.

LITERARY FICTION

"After" by Marita Golden (Doubleday, 237 pages, $23.95).

A sudden act of violence -- one that forever alters two lives -- is the central concern of the first novel in eight years by a celebrated writer and African American literary activist. Golden opens her long-awaited novel with a simple traffic stop by a black cop that goes horribly wrong, as happens only too often in our edgy, gun-crazed society. Then she tracks the cop's inexorable descent from an enviable life in this powerful meditation on how tragedy can change everything in an instant.

"Triangle" by Katharine Weber (Farrar, Straus, 242 pages, $23).

The horrendous 1911 fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory trapped and killed almost 150 young women toilers in the sweatshop and became a watershed event in the slow march toward workers' rights in the 20th century. Weber, whose grandmother worked at Triangle for a time before the fire, has fashioned a fascinating novel from this tragedy, one that ingeniously focuses on the memories of the final survivor of the fire and a doubting feminist scholar whose interviews with the survivor cause her to question the veracity of her witness. "Triangle" provides important reflection on the power of stories, the shaping of history.

"The Seducer" by Jan Kjaerstad (Overlook Press, 606 pages, $27.95).

His wife's murder sets off a picaresque journey of mystery, discovery and remembrance for a famed European TV documentary producer, a celeb noted for his unerring success with women. This creative and enthralling mega-novel won Scandinavia's highest honor and is the first American translation of a work by one of Norway's (and Europe's) reigning masters of fiction. Kjaerstad is mentioned in Euro reviews in the exalted company of such Continental lit stalwarts as Martin Amis and Milan Kundera.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

On Vacation

Just a quick note that I'm on vacation this wknd (It's my 7th wedding anniversary...awww!). I'll be back blogging mid next week. Take care, my kittens.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Four Comments About The 4400

I finally got around to watching the season premier of The 4400. Maia is looking very grown up, and my favorite character Marco is as adorable as ever (please, writers, don't make him evil/petty this season, I beg you). Overall I liked the episode, but the show is much darker and conspiracy-based this season. Four comments:

1. Uh...4400, you know you're totally going into X-Men territory, right? The whole mutants vs. humans thing, the humans hating and fearing the 4400, the government trying to contain their powers...yeah.

2. So Lily's dead? Huh. I guess I'm sad (?). I'm not sure how to feel. She was always kind of useless to the plot except as Isabelle's mom, but really...rapid aging and then death seems like a pretty convenient way of losing a character. (All the poop is here, if you're interested in the sordid details.)

3. Speaking of Isabelle, I hope her acting improves over the season. (Her scenes with Shawn were especially clunky--the two of them don't bring out the best in each other, I guess.)

4. Seriously...X-Men much?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Four Comments About Hex

I really liked the first episode--but keep in mind, I adore gothic novels. The kind with the woman on the cover in her nightgown running from a dark and brooding house? Yeah, those. The creaky doors, the candelabras--I'm so there. I adore the cheese, even. My four comments:

1. That is the craziest school ever. It looks formal and gorgeous, but the students have no supervision and are totally sassy. (I always imagined British public school students as wearing uniforms and standing when their teachers entered the room.)

2. OMG, the CGI! It's awful! And funny!

3. Azazeal? Totally hot.

4. Did anyone else want to grab Roxanne's bangs and pull them out of her face? Lose the '80s fringe, darling.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Book Review: Mystic and Rider

Contains minor spoilers

Mystic and Rider by Sharon Shinn is the first of a proposed four books in the Twelve Houses series. Despite an episodic plot that read a bit like playing an "epic quest" video game (hehehe, Warcraft), I enjoyed the book. It contained a very satisfying mix of romance and fantasy, which is Shinn's specialty.

Some of the main themes in the book are potential civil war (the 12 houses of the kingdom are starting to choose sides); a mysterious queen, missing princess, and potentially senile king; a moon-goddess cult that is gaining power and helping divide the 12 houses (and also persecuting those with magic, or mystics); and very different personalites, who start off not trusting each other, bonding through their adventures.

ETA: And if you like romantic fantasy, Shinn is the author of two of my favorites: The Shape-Changer's Wife and Summers at Castle Auburn. (The latter is the more light-hearted, but they're both wonderful.)

Monday Round Up

I know I've been slacking on updating lately--sorry about that. It's summer, there's not much on TV, and all my time has been spent playing World of Warcrack or reading. However, I do have a couple of TV thoughts to share.

The Without a Trace rerun episode they ran last Thursday (A Day in the Life) was one of the best episodes ever. Watching the mysterious and frightening movements of the FBI officers through the eyes of the parents was refreshing. As usual, even though a lot of the characters annoy me, the twists and turns of this show rise above the usual procedural.

I watched the first hour of Hex, and so far I really like it. It has all the melodrama of a gothic novel--one of my favorite genres. Can't wait to see more!

I've been watching season 4 of Gilmore Girls on DVD, and the past couple of episodes have had me howling with laughter. Some highlights: Kirk walking the dogs. Emily getting drunk and smoking in her bathrobe.

The Janice Dickinson show was kind of annoying. I think Janice is best in small, snarky doses--not as the full-on main subject of an entire half hour. I'll give it one more chance before I stop DVRing it, though.

My cats adore watching Meerkat Manor on Animal Planet. The chittering noises and rapid, jerky movements have them entranced. I like it too, but warning: some of the meerkats don't make it. *sniff sniff*

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Need More Janice in Your Life?

Below is a review of a new show, The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, written by The Watcher. I might tune in--I find Janice annoying but amusing, which makes for the best reality TV (as opposed to just annoying, like Jade on the last cycle of ANTM). The show premiers tonight at 9:00 on Oxygen.


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Let’s face it, “Top Model” has been missing something since Dickinson took her ’tude away from the catwalk chronicle. In “The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency,” in which she is setting up -- wait for it - a modeling agency, her full-on ranting-diva mode is proudly displayed, and, truth be told, is fairly entertaining if you’re into this sort of silly reality spectacle.

At least Dickinson isn’t above poking fun at herself; she’s shown getting horrifying-looking Botox injections and jokes about hiring three assistants, “one for each mood swing.”

Would any of the potential models she picks in the show’s first episode ever make it in the real world as catwalk strutters or as the faces in glossy magazine ads? It looks like a pretty remote possibility, but then “Top Model” has never been about crowning a supermodel -- it’s about cultivating a fantasy, a dream.

Working for Dickinson is probably more of a nightmare than a dream, but then, that probably makes for pretty darned enjoyable, if cheesy and loopy, reality TV.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Michael is Gone from Lost!

Oooh. I'm assuming this means Walt's gone too? (At least this way they won't have to address the aging child issue). Article below, from the Seattle P-I.
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'Lost' character sailed into the sunset, possibly forever

Actor Harold Perrineau tells Scripps Howard News Service he won't be back on ABC's "Lost" when it returns in the fall.

"As of so far, I am not back next season," says the actor whose character, Michael, sailed off with his son, Walt, in the season finale May 24.

Perrineau, who was central to the "Lost" story line in recent weeks, says he is free to pursue other work and is no longer under contract with "Lost."

He says producers told him weeks ago he was being written off the show, but he also knew of a story line in which Michael, once he got home, attempts to get back to the island. Apparently that story line is not planned for next season, he says.

"I have no idea what is going on now," he says. Join the club, Harold.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Battlestar Galactica--Season 3 Scoop

The following makes me smile. It's part of Michael Ausiello's interview with Battlestar Galactica producer David Eick. The entire article--which has some mild spoilers about season 3 (whoo!)--can be found here.

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Ausiello: I didn't run the entire interview. I saved a portion of it for this week's Ask Ausiello because I didn't want it to get lost amidst all the other Galactica prattle Eick was dispensing. Here's the portion I saved. Gilmore Girls fans, prepare to piddle uncontrollably.

Ausiello: Are you surprised that the word "frak" has invaded popular culture as it has? It was on Gilmore Girls this season.
David Eick:
Was it? No way!


Ausiello: Yes. Lorelai said it.
Eick:
Is she the younger girl?

Ausiello: No, she's the mom.
Eick:
Oh my god. I have a thing for her. I want to meet her. If somehow Lauren Graham's use of the word frak translates into my getting to meet Lauren Graham, I'll do whatever I can. I'll have every character say it every other word from now on.

Ausiello: How about bringing her on as a special guest star?
Eick:
She can be the new lead if she wants. Just kidding! Adama will kill me!

Ausiello: She could seriously kick some Cylon ass.
Eick:
That's for sure.

/body>