Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review of Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl

Tracy Quan's debut novel, Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl, follows an early-thirty-something who has been turning tricks since she was thirteen years old. However, this isn't a story about exploitation or sex slavery. It's about a girl, Nancy, who knew she wanted to be a call girl from a very young age. As she matures she realizes all of the naive assumptions and mistakes she made as an adolescent helped to shape the woman she is today.

Nancy's biggest hurdle in life is her engagement to a "straight" man-- someone who isn't involved in prostitution and doesn't know about her involvement in it. She cares for him and she likes her current profession.

Unfortunately her fiancĂ©’s sister is a district attorney, which increases her anxiety about whether or not to get married.

Between meetings with Johns Nancy has to make arrangements for her wedding, meet with her future in-laws, and visit with her therapist to try to sort out her mixed emotions.

I enjoyed the book, though it may be too graphic for some readers. It definitely isn't for children or teens, as it contains some graphic sexual situations.

The overall tone of the book is lightly comedic, with tension about Nancy's pre-marital drama weaved throughout. I definitely recommend this book if you enjoy strong female lead characters that you are able to connect with. Obviously her profession causes somewhat of a disconnect; for instance, I wouldn't see the dilemma in giving up a risky profession for a life as a well provided for wife. But since her entire adult life has been in the hooking culture of course it would be a huge lifestyle change for her.

There are lots of interesting scenes about the mechanics of being sexy and beautiful all day. Also, though there aren't many scenes where Johns are talked about in depth, it is fun to see the wide variety of men with their differing idiosyncratic sexual proclivities. It adds another interesting dimension to what may otherwise have been just straight sex scenes.

The book is 271 pages long, and the paperback version I have includes a 19 page preview of Tracy Quan's next novel, Diary of a Married Call Girl.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ever Forget Your Baby in a Car?

I was procrastinating while reading some Yahoo Shine articles earlier today when I read this title: Ever Forget Your Baby in a Car?

I'm a forgetful person and my short term memory leaves much to be desired. However, I'm not sure I've ever come anywhere close to forgetting a baby or child in a car. Hmm...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Stress and Appreciation

This past week (almost exactly the past seven days down to the hour) has been so stressful and emotionally draining. I had a family emergency medical situation that totally stressed me out and freaked me out. I've never been so scared of a situation before.

Everything is fine now, but the whole experience just sort of wiped me out. Now that everything is settling down I have to try to make up for lost time. I've made very little money this week, which is only stressing me out further.

I'm posting now because I don't seem to be able to focus on my writing. I guess I am hoping some unstructured writing will free up my mind (or something--I don't really know).

When bad things happen, I get a huge sense of how I should appreciate life more. I feel awful that I'm a big complainer most of the time when I have lots of things to be grateful for. I've tried to change and become more optimistic, but it doesn't seem to work. My mind always veers back to the gloomy, unhappy things in life.

Anyway, I can't really concentrate on just writing whatever comes to mind either, it seems. Hopefully I'll get more focused soon (or I'm going to continue to be broke! and that certainly isn't good).

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Piers Anthony

I was reading Piers Anthony's online newsletter yesterday, and it made me remember how much enjoyment his books have brought me over my life. I read the book Heaven Cent.
when I was eleven. I got it as one of the random sci-fi fantasy books chosen by a library worker. The Portsmouth Public Library had a service that would send you library books at no charge. They even sent you a pre-paid envelope to return the books to the library. You could list specific titles that you wanted or you could write "brown bag" and pick a genre. If you picked brown bag, someone at the library would choose some books in the genre you picked. I think they'd send around four to six books at a time.

Anyway, that's how I was introduced to both Piers Anthony and David Eddings. Both are awesome writers. Both have primarily published fantasy novels, but they've also published some other genres as well.

Back to Piers Anthony. He is very straightforward and doesn't mince words with his newsletter (or anyone else for that matter). He goes all out for what he thinks is right and he doesn't tolerate ignorance or greed.

One of my favorite things about him is that he spends lots of time on his fans, even though he complains that it takes away from his writing time. Which I'm sure it does since he answers some emails and letters personally and writes a monthly newsletter that is quite lengthy (several thousands of words each usually).

I first wrote him a letter when I was 14. I was very depressed as well as experiencing a religious fervor. I was trying to be Christian, but I think I was mainly becoming a super judgemental jerk (Is there a difference, you ask--yes, I think there can be). I wrote to him about how I really liked his books and how they were one of the few things I enjoyed in life. I also told him about my disturbing self-injury habits. And, the real kicker, I included some religious tracts.

I received a letter back pretty soon after I'd mailed mine. I still have the letter, but I don't remember his exact words. He gave me some positive things to think about and that I was young and life would most likely improve. He then went on to caution my about religion and people trying to brainwash me. Or something along those lines.

Around the same time I'd become penpals with another older man who'd told me about the same thing as far as religion is concerned. I met him by writing a letter to Rock'n'Roll Comics about how I liked the Queen comics they'd made. I don't remember what else I wrote, but he wrote me back and we started an ongoing dialogue.

Back to Piers. I also asked him to name a character after my other penpal's son, who had been murdered. Piers occasionally named characters for readers, but not usually. In this case he did, because my penpal's son had liked Piers' books and had met an untimely end. That character is in Faun & Games.

When I was 24 I wrote to him again. I told him I'd refrained from writing to him for ten years so I thought maybe it'd be okay to pester him again. I asked if he would mind naming a character after each of my daughters since they have autism (characters in Xanth have often crossed over from Mundania--often when they die--and they get to live on in their afterlife or without their disabilities). He was very kind and again agreed to name characters for me. The girls are in Stork Naked.

Besides his fiction, he's also written a few nonfiction. Two of those books are autobiographies. I really enjoyed those books, although they made me a little sad at times. He has collaborated with writers who were fans of his books, and he had to go through publishing bureaucratic hell to get the books published. Even though he had multiple bestsellers published, his publisher didn't want to take a risk on the joint project tanking. He eventually got them published, but I believe he had to switch publishing houses to do so.

Anyway, I think he is an awesome writer and person. He has published around 140 books to date. I wish I could finish writing just one! I seem to get paralyzed at a certain point in the process. I don't really know why. Writer's block? (don't get Piers started on that--he'll say it's more of my next guess) Laziness? Lack of talent? Lack of ambition? I don't know. I fell positive that I will eventually finish a book, but whether or not it gets published is another matter.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Philatelists and a Rock Star Psychic (Freddie Mercury visits her bathroom!)

I remembered an old segment on the Daily Show that cracked me up today, and luckily it is still on Comedy Central's website. I didn't realize it had been so long ago (1999), but it was at least as funny today as it was when I first watched it over ten years ago.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Mercury Rising
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Wire in the Blood

Like I said before, I've been going through lots of Hulu videos in my never-ending quest to vanquish quietness. Here is another series that I've watched/listened to all of the episodes for.

Wire in the Blood is based on the awesome books by Val McDermid. I'd listened to at least one audio book featuring the characters in this series and I loved it. When I was sifting through the large selection of videos on Hulu, for some reason I clicked on this one. When I saw the name Tony Hill, I knew it was familiar, but I couldn't quite remember where I knew it from. Then I read the words "clinical psychologist" and remembered. I thought, "Hell, this has to be based on that book I listened to or someone is a horrible plagiarizer!" Luckily, it was the former.

Anyway, I really enjoyed all six seasons of the show. I was really disappointed when I read that it had been cancelled. I guess it was judged to be too expensive to make; the production cost per episode was up to 750,000 pounds sometimes (around $1,121,484). I think that Two and a Half Men probably costs at least that much per episode and it has a much smaller cast, less travel, and, in my opinion, much less entertainment value.  To each his or her own.

I don't have the money for the DVD sets, but they look pretty awesome. (shameless Amazon ad plug alert!):
Wire in the Blood DVDs

Annoying Celebrities

I don't know why I occasionally waste my energy getting annoyed with celebrities (or non-celebrities for that matter), but I do. One person who has irked me for some time now is Miley Cyrus. Before her, her father annoyed me with that shitty "song" Achy Breaky Heart. I had to listen to that crappy thing so many times because my school bus driver put in a speaker system and would only play the country station; I had a roughly 40-45 minute ride to school in the morning then another 40-45 minutes home in the evening. Not fun times.

Anyway, child celebrities tend to annoy me anyway. Actually it's not so much the child as the machine that churns them out (Disney, Nickelodeon, parents hoping to cash in on their precious child's "talent", etc). The poor kids grow up to be some of the least well adjusted human beings on the planet. And little girls seem to be sexualized in a gross way. Sure, if you're around the actor's age it's okay to have a crush on them. You can talk about how great they are, how talented, how beautiful/cute/pretty/handsome/whatever they are. If you're a kid that's fine. It's when adults who produce the shows/music/entertainment add sex to the program that disturbs me.

Then, once the child star has become an adult with little clue how to handle themselves in the world, they are annoying in their own right.

Anyhow, I've gotten off topic. Originally I set out to write about Miley Cyrus. I get that many people get mad/annoyed with her is because she is a role model whether or not she says she is (and she does think she is one), and she seems to continuously do things that set a bad example for young girls. My reasons for being annoyed with her are: 1) she apologizes for the wrong things (she doesn't have to apologize at all-but when she does it isn't for a good reason 2) she says some really arrogant sounding, ignorant shit and 3) she, like most celebrities, has an annoying sense of inflated self-importance.

It's not that I think that I don't say stupid shit. I know I do. However, I don't pretend that I'm "above" other people. Besides, like the old adage, "It takes one to know one," I can spot stupid shit people say because I say plenty of stupid shit myself.

On to saying and doing stupid things. Here are some Miley gems.

Miley on Philosophy and Theology:

On her relationship with her boyfriend, model Liam Hemsworth- “I think we’re both deeper than normal people - what they think and how they feel. He’s very grateful for what he has, but he doesn’t let it go to his head. I’m like that too. He’s a really freaking good actor is what he is. And he’s cute - so he’s got that.”
(Because we all know that self-absorbed celebrity models and actor/singers are much deeper than your average person--especially when they're cute!)

On divine intervention and God's will for her- "[Faith is] the main thing. That’s kind of why I’m like here in Hollywood: to be like a light, a testimony to say God can take someone from Nashville and make me this, but it’s his will that made this happen.”
(We know God is at work when someone with marginal talent is paid ridiculous amounts of money.)

Not really sure what she's got here- family, and more than that, faith, so when her family (who is there for her) isn't there for her she has faith...- "“Some people don’t have a family to fall back on, like I have, and that’s when something greater than even that comes in and that’s faith and that’s what I have for me. That’s what keeps me strong.”

Miley on Family:

Is there something wrong with your family when Miley is what makes them happier than anything else? Hmm- “There are so many people that have come up to me during our shows and tell me: ‘The hour that we are watching your show is the hour that my kids are happiest and are smiling, they are laughing,’ and that is what I long to do.”

Because what it takes to make a good parent is immaturity- “I think my dad is a lot cooler than other dads. He still acts like he’s still 17.”

Miley on Fans and Being a Role Model:

Because being deeper than most other people really comes down to one thing-- what other people think about you- “It’s a long ride to the top, but it’s only a short ride down, so it makes me very nervous. I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, am I doing enough? Do people still like my music?’ I get really stressed out over that.”

Because sometimes role models do really inappropriate things and make mistakes. As long as they own up to them it's all good-  "I feel so embarrassed. I hope my fans understand that along the way, I am going to make mistakes, and I am not perfect. I never intended for any of this to happen, and I am truly sorry if I have disappointed anyone.” (This is in response to her shoot for Vanity Fair by a world renowned photographer.)

However, Miley doesn't think these things are worth apologizing to disappointed fans and parents for. Frankly, we just need to give her some privacy and let her grow up doing these kinds of things. I mean, really, who hasn't done these things?!-

Underage Lap Dancing (hey, the guy is gay- that makes it okay, right?)

Dancing with a Stripper Pole (but she wasn't pole dancing! Just wearing daisy dukes and gyrating next to a stripperesque pole...)

To quote Miley, "It's two girls at a sleepover, and if all of a sudden that's bad, then what is the world coming to?"

Maybe when she said she and Liam are deeper than most people she meant only "skin deeper" than other people-“I do love meeting fans, but sometimes, when I look horrible and see people, I’m like, ‘Oh no, they’re going to be scarred for life. They’re never going to look at me the same way!’ But it’s still fun meeting new people.”

Before any Miley fans and defenders think I'm being too mean, lets just remember that I am simply repeating things she's said with snarky comments added. I don't dislike her as a person; I don't know her so I can't really. I dislike her public persona. Mainly I dislike how she's been exploited for money by Disney and others and how she has been sexualized to help capitalize on her monetary potential.

Why is it we don't see more child stars with little to no talent that are downright homely? Hmm... Notice that the funny kids are usually portrayed as fat or nerdy outsiders who are only acceptable for the self-depracating humor they provide.

I honestly hope she doesn't wind up on drugs or surrounded by people looking to use her for her money as and adult. Child stars usually don't always have happy transitions into adulthood though. (well, maybe they aren't that different than non-celebrities where that is concerned; they just have a different set of problems)

Edited to add: Miley quotes were from these sites (though I'd read some in magazines in the past, but I don't keep all of my old magazines and I'm too disorganized/lazy to actually go through and cite references for a personal blog post): and