Sunday, April 29, 2012

Everything Happens For A Reason

There is a saying that goes, "Things happen for a reason." But do they, really? I think things do happen, but we push them to go certain ways, and I do believe the Universe helps us for and against where things may go, should go, end up. That was the thought on my mind when I was reading Laura Dave's "The First Husband," which I think is a great book. It's one of those simple stories: girl loses boy, girl meets another guy, first guy tries to get her back. But Ms. Dave gives us a relatable narrator, and the story moves so quickly that it got me reading the whole thing in less than  a day. I started reading this as sort of a diversion from another book that was boring me, and was hooked instantly. The most interesting plot point for me was whenever Annie would watch "Roman Holiday," something bad happens to her. It's cute, and kind of scary at the same time, and I am crazy and superstitious enough to believe at something like that. All in all, this was a great read, and it makes me want to discover her other work. 


Saturday, April 28, 2012

I Should Be So Lucky

"The Lucky One' is based on a Nicholas Sparks novel.  So you know what that means, right? Leave all logic and common sense at the door and just surrender to the movie. You will have to rely on good acting, convincing visuals...and chemistry. That last one is very important, because if you don't believe it, then the film won't be a success for you. Sadly, this just didn't work for me. Since this is a love story, I have to be convinced that the two people falling in love appear to be. Logan (played by Zac Efron) and Beth (played by Taylor Schilling) never, for once, looked in love with each other. Their story is quite extraordinary. Logan is a Marine, and in a combat zone, picks up a picture of Beth in the rubble, and because of that split-second decision, gets his life saved. He makes it a quest to find the girl, and the credits have not even finished rolling and he has already found her. (He walked from Colorado to Louisiana!)  Of course, you don't have to be a genius to see where this is going, and to sense all the circumstances that will keep them apart. I think my main problem is that Efron is not really convincing as a rough and tumble drifter. When you see him dress in flannel and jeans, he looks more like a hipster - those are three hundred dollar designer jeans, for example. And Schilling reads older, making it seem like she is more sister than girlfriend to him. Playing her mother, Blythe Danner is a welcome relief, she is acting like she is not taking this whole thing seriously, and who can really blame her? I really thought I would like this movie - I think Efron is a naturally gifted actor. I just think he is miscast here, appearing like a boy playing dress-up. 

Smelled For The Very First Time

Katie Puckrick interviewed Stephen Nilsen,   who is the nose behind Madonna's scent "Truth Or Dare," and it gave great insight on how Madonna created her first perfume. I had heard that Madonna was a scent lover, and that may be one of the reasons why she will be forever close to my heart. I also know that she loves white florals, and she has been vocal about her adoration of Fracas, that big bold tuberose monster. (In her brother's memoir, he writes that she also douses herself with Anick Goutal's gardenia Passion) Alas, I expected her perfume to be something, mostly tuberose, and, well, it is. A lot of people are saying that it is a Frasca knockoff, but I don't think it is. It's much lighter, and less in-your-face. Truth or Dare is also more commercial, more accessible. The top is a tuberose-gardenia-jasmine mixture, and to me pretty well blended that not one note stands out. Then that "addiction" accord comes out - a mixture of caramel, benzoine, musk - and here is where it makes or breaks for you. It reminded me a bit of Prada Candy, and also Burberry Sport. On me, it ventured into the synthetic, but I kind of like it. It reminded me of the plastic balloons I used to play with when I was younger. I have worn Truth Or Dare a couple of times since I bought a bottle, and each time, there is a layer I discover about it. There was a time where the jasmine was more prominent (it was a rainy day) and a couple of days ago, the tuberose/musk combo came out, and it was kind of lovely. Maybe I am just projecting as I am a Madonna fan, but as far as celebuscents go, this one, for me, is a winner. I hear it call my name and it feels like home. 

  Anyway, love this queeny review of it: 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Just Can't Get Enough

"Diary Of A Sex Addict" by Scott Alexander Hess is indeed full of sex, but it is not erotica. Just like the movie Shame, the sex is not titillating. On the other hand, it is kind of sad. This novel takes you inside a mind of a sex addict, but I think it's more a peek into someone who uses sex to fill a void in his life. There is an underlying sadness in the narrator's story that you will feel so sorry for him, although he does trudge on in the end. My main problem with the book, though is that it does not have any arc. Set a couple of days before Christmas, we do not see anything happening to him as the book ends. I want to look at this as a "slice of life" kind of thing, but I had hoped there was some kind of something there - resolution, retribution, reformation. It's a compulsive read, but all empty calories.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Smash Ep 12: Hurray For Bollywood

First things, first, I love the Bollywood musical scene, "One Thousand And One Nights,"  on this week's episode. It's one of those big grand expensive musical numbers, dreamed by Karen as she sits in an Indian restaurant while her new BFF and her boyfriend fight over her. It kind of doesn't make sense - Julia's husband and son are in it when she has never met them - but we won't be sticklers for that kind of thing. And it is really nice to see Raza Jeffrey (Dev) in musical numbers, as people probably don't realize he is an accomplished West End musical performer. This episode was seemingly all about Karen - she gets to song a pop song, and the new musical number for the show is being framed for her. But of course, nothing goes as planned in soaps. Even though Ivy does some questionable tricks to get where she ends up, she sings "Second Hand White Baby Grand," so beautifully - she sings it with intelligent phrasing and nuanced voice shadings that I thought to myself, Ivy: do what you need to do, you deserve the spotlight. Technically, McPhee is a great singer, but Hilty's theater chops prove that she understands the music more. As for Julia's domestic drama storyline, I was prepared to get snarky about it, then I realized that yes, it wasn't too bad, and I loved that scene where Deb Messing spies incognito outside Leo's school to threaten and talk to Leo's best friend. Is a composer really supposed to be powerful? But she was good in that scene, and maybe I have been too harsh with her. One thing, though: Tom crying about Leo running away seems a little too drama queen, no? I am so happy that Anjelica Houston gets to have a cougar love angle, and like everyone else has said, that hair style she has at BAM was gorgeous. And lastly, the least said about Ellis the better. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

You Must Haunt Me

There are two big questions people ask you when you say that you just saw the new revival of EVITA:  How is Ricky Martin, the pop star, who plays Che (Very Good) and then they ask, Is Elena Roger, who plays Eva Peron, really that bad (No, she is actually very good as well) I was so looking forward to seeing this production for a couple of things: EVITA is probably one of my favorite scores of all time, and one first ones I memorized in its entirety. Plus, I had never seen a production of it, because I was still on the other side of the world when it was playing on Broadway. Bottom line: this production does not disappoint at all, and may even be the Best Musical Revival this season. (Maybe. I change my answer to "Follies" every couple of hours) It is lavishly directed by Michael Grandase in a churascurio tone, and it soars when it needs to be. Surely, Sir Andrew's score has a lot of deficiencies, but it's still, in my opinion, his best. Rob Ashford's choreography is beautiful to look at but it sometimes crosses to overkill. This is a dancey Evita, for sure. Ricky Martin, as I said earlier, is very good, but his performance is saddled by the blankness of his character. While he moves well, and sings well, we do not really understand his character because, essentially he has none. As for Elena Roger, I admit I have been a bit harsh on her.  Her first act was disappointing for me, there were a lot of high notes she just screeches, but something really magical happens as she sings "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" to open the second act: her singing and acting became nuanced, she brings so much theatricality to her singing that it took me by surprise. I was literally stunned by its beauty. Even on the throwaway song "You Must Love Me," there is an shading, a layer in that song that I never saw in Madonna's rendition when she introduced it in the film. By the end of the show, I was in tears for her and with her. Her Evita isn't big, it isn't campy, it's real. And as I think about it now, it still haunts me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Give Me Scotch

They say you can't judge a book from its cover, but can you judge it from its title? This one is called "Scot On The Rocks: How I Survived My Ex-Boyfriend's Wedding With My Dignity Ever-So-Slightly Intact," and yes it's a mouthful. It also tells the story, leaving out any element of surprise. That's fine in itself if the characters have a distinct voice that it keeps you interested. Unfortunately, this one doesn't. About sixty percent in, I mentally checked out of the book even as I kept on reading. I basically gave up on the characters: they were uninteresting, unlikeable, and I didn't care one way or another about what happened to them. Thankfully, it's a short read, as I think I will reward myself with some scotch to ease off my disappointment. 


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

SMash Episode 11: The Enemy

I love this scene (above) from last night's episode of SMASH. It's Karen and Ivy getting a drink, and Ivy says to Karen,"Why don't you hate her? She stole our role. She is the enemy." And the show is desperately trying to make Uma Thurman's character, Rebecca Duvall the villain. But guess what? I am not buying it. Her character may be difficult, she may be a pain in the ass, but she did not get by being nice. And yes, Rebecca Duvall was a horrible singer in the beginning, but she works hard, as evidenced by the final musical scene, where she is no better or worse than any movie-star turned Broadway-star on the boards right now. But yes, I know, she is still all kinds of wrong for the part: too leggy, too old, too Uma and not enough Marilyn. Cut to another boring domestic subplot for Julia, and zzzzz - but at least we get to see Brian D'Arcy James eat Deb Messing in any scene they are both in. I am kind of loving the Elaine-bartender story line, mostly because of Anjelica Houston's very light touch - she knows this is a trashy soap, and she just has fun with it. But the best part of last night's episode: a start to Ellis' unraveling, when he gets caught playing Rebecca's agent.  And "the Frogs" is Tom's favorites Sondheim? Really? Really?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sweet Like Chocolate

There are alcoholics, and sexaholics, and there are emotionaholics. These are people who get very emotional at the slightest provocation, and in this delightful little French gem of a movie, the character of Angelique, played by Isabelle Carre, attends meetings because she just can't handle everything that triggers any kind of emotionality in her life. She is a master chocolatier, and when she applies for a job at The Chococlate Mill, she mistakenly gets a sales representative job. And she falls in love with the owner, Jean Rene, played by the Belgian actor benoit Poelvedore. This is a movie about sweets, and it is sweet, but since this is a French movie, it never gets cloying, or saccharine. Just like the best chocolates, the hint of darkness and bitterness balances the taste out. Clocking at just over an hour, this love story packs just as much of a wallop as a three hour epic movie about a sinking ship. (I figured since everyone is talking about that movie this weekend, I would use it as an example) And the love story isn't cutesy, too. You do believe these two people fallin in love, not test-marketed or chemistry-formulated. You know, like real life. Though the tone may be a bit slow for ADD-addled Americans, one just has to stick with it to see the payoff. Just like life, you ask, why hurry?

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Sometimes we think that we have come far, but we really haven't. In some parts of the deep south, there is still rampant racism, and that is a sad fact. Kristin Gore touches upon that in "Sweet Jiminy," and it's quite disturbing.  Ms Gore's first two books were set in modern Washington DC, a setting i would think she would be familiar with, so I was still surprised to find that the setting of her third novel is in rural Mississippi. But she sounds like she knows this place just as well, for her descriptions of the place and its characters ring true as well. This story is part mystery, part love story, part morality tale - and it's all good. The mystery part isn't as rich - you can see the resolution a mile away - but for me it's more symbolic than anything else, a metaphor of how things have not changed. The love story part was cute and believable - you like these characters and root for them to stay together. The overall message is pretty clear, and is kind of sad. I sometimes cannot believe how intolerance still permeates in some parts of the United States. This is more than a nice summer read, it's a story with a heart and soul. Oh, and full disclosure: I voted for her father for President. In my heart, he won. 


Woods Lovely Dark And Deep

I am a little late to the Chanel Les Exclusifs line. It's because when they first came out, they were only available in those huge 6.8 oz bottles, and they were awfully expensive that I did not want to try them for fear I would fall in love with one and be obsessed with buying it. But a year or so ago they started coming out with 2.7 oz "Travel Size" bottles and those were just good enough for me. For Chanel, their scents' stories are as interesting than the scents themselves, and Bois Des iles is no exception. Created in 1926 by Ernest Beaux, it was supposed to have been inspired by Tchaikovsky's opera "Queen Of Spades," as that was set in the Island Forests, which id the translation of the name. You know Bois Des Iles is Chanel from first sniff - aldehydes welcome you, then the floral heart (iris, peachy rose, violets, ylang ylang) comes in, and there is a smoky, resinous base of dusty vanilla and some oak. This is supposed to be a sandalwood scent, but it isn't as big a sandalwood as Chanel Sycamore. A lot of people compare this to Chanel No 5, but I think this is more appealing, as it is less aldehyde-y and more floral. (I am not No. 5's biggest fan, for the record) I think this is a great perfume, in the perfume sense. It blooms like a perfume, stays on like one, and lingers with you like a perfume should. It's a classic. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Even Geeks Need Love, Too

"Attachments," by Rainbow Rowell, is a charming novel. It's innocent, and old-fashioned, and it's not cynical or sarcastic, just perfectly sweet. It's 1999, and we are introduced to Lincoln, who works at an IT Department of a local newspaper. he considers himself a geek, and spends his weekends playing Dungeons and Dragons with his friends. Part of his job is monitoring emails that get filtered because they are personal. So he starts reading an exchange of email between two employees, Beth and Jennifer, and something happens: he falls in love with Beth. He hasn't seen met her yet, he doesn't even know what she looks like, but he feels an instant connection to her. He falls in love with her soul. But he has been hurt in the past, so he has his guards up. Will he find space in his heart to fall in love again? I don't think there were any big surprises in the story, but its low-key unaffected tone is so adorable that you can't help but just relax as it unspools before your eyes. I liked it a lot, and read the last two-thirds of the book in one sitting. 


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Audra's Turn

Is there anything Audra cannot do? She is a mother, she is married to Will Swenson, and she owns the stage every evening at The Richard Rodgers Theater, and she is amazing with a capital A.  She is one of those actors who has such a magnetic presence on stage. I found myself staring at her permanently. And that voice - quite possibly the most wonderful voice on Broadway right now - a soprano that doesn't overwhelm, and you can relate with it. And the show? This "scaled-down" version of the opera is great, and I understand what Diane Paulus is trying to do to make this opera palatable to modern ADD affected audiences. And I think she succeeds. Sure, seeing the whole opera is probably a more fully-realized experience, but I honestly don't think they have hurt the piece with their cuts. It's still a very emotional piece of theater, in my opinion. It's less gritty, and the rough edges have been softened, but it still works. I remember sitting breathless, feeling that I cannot take this anymore, what's onstage. Porgy's goat cart is replaced by a cane here, but you don't care, I wish I could say a lot more about Norm Lewis' performance other than it was good, for I found myself always staring at Audra. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

All Twang Long

They say the best songs are the ones that can be translated from one genre to another. I have always liked Lionel Richie's songs, in R & B mode, and now he has released an album of country songs. But the catch? One, he has done country arrangements for them, and two, he sings them as duets with country singers. And nothing is lost in translation. These songs soar just as greatly, and at times they become even more honest without all the 80s rhythmic bells and whistles. You can't replace soul by putting twang in them. At times, it even enhances the real soul in these songs. I don't really dislike country music, actually I have quite a few country artists in my music collection, and of course I am a big fan of Dolly Parton. (She is sorely missing in his duet partners, by the by) Some of these artists I have a problem with (Blake Shelton is a homophobe, for example) but I guess for the sake of music, I can try to get past their Fundamentalist Christian insanity, and yes, Blake Shelton was fantastic in "You Are," and Kenny Chesney is great in "My Life."  One of my favorite tracks is a stripped down bare-your-everything take of "Hello with Jennifer Neetles, who I have never heard before, and will always remember now. And a lilting arrangement of "Endless Love" actually improves on the original, making it less sappy, and in a weird sense, making it more current. And Shania Twain duetting with him in it doesn't hurt, of course. Actually, I cannot think of a track that doesn't work, perhaps the "Dancing On The Ceiling" with Rascal Flatts was too busy? And where is my all-time favorite Lionel Richie song, "Truly?"  Lionel Richie proves that you can come back to the top of the charts just as strong by creating still wonderful music that still sounds like music. 

Smash Ep 10: Waiting For A Star To Fall

Where is the star? The producers of "Bombshell," the Marilyn Monroe musical, have cast a star, played by Uma Thurman, but she is in Cuba. How very now, because I am truly hearing that it is the next great vacation destination (seriously) so they added a musical number without her, and for David Zanuck, which, in this scene, is played by Christian Borle. And he, and the scene, and the song, is fantastic. It actually almost makes me want to see Borle on "Peter And The Starcatcher," but kiddie musicals is just not my thing. And I am glad we get to see Borle on a musical number. Sometimes even I forget that he plays leading man on Broadway. And they are really setting up his character's love triangle front and center now, and I am thinking, meh, they need to speed this up because it's all just so predictable. And Deb Messing's Julia is still weepy and crying, and I am also thinking they need to speed up her storyline, but I guess her catharsis is needed for morality's sake. Ivy is trying to be good, but obviously they are operating on the notion of making her villain-y, but i really do think that she is more suited for Marilyn than Karen. Watch that scene with McPhee as Marilyn, I just think she is all wrong for the part., and her singing is too "pop" for Broadway anyway.  I have now almost given up with McPhee. I don't know if it's her direction, or she just doesn't have the acting chops, but she now comes across so flat and dull that I hope she does something - and quick - to spike up her presence. Of course, Uma shows up towards the end, with a diva entrance, of course. I thought last night's episode - except for the Borle number - was a bore. Next week's hopefully will be more interesting. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012


All you need to do is look at the cover of this book and know it's not going to be real literature. In the olden days, I used to categorize books as "subway ready" or not. This would have definitely been in the "not" category. "Frat Boy And Toppy" does not pretend to be anything else but a fun, smutty read, akin to a Harlequin romance, and that's well and good. For me, there is a time and place for this kind of read, and if it makes someone's day, then why not? But for me, this sometimes feels like reading about Ken dolls, because I sometimes need characterization and depth for the characters to fully enjoy their interactions. There is this huge sub-genre now in gay lit, these glossy romantic kinds. There's not much guilt in what these people are doing, and that's definitely a great thing. But I can't relate, though. I may be too old school for all this progress. But more power, though. 


The Chase

Probably because of my affiliation with the financial industry, I am fascinated by the Bernie Madoff case. It just seemed too obvious right from the start - his fraud - and I marvel at how he got away with it. I also couldn't understand how in his firm, only a handful of people knew about what he was doing. For example, he was supposed to be executing bogus trades for years. Who settled those trades? How did he make it seem like he executed them? How did he make it appear like he settled them? The documentary "Chasing Madoff" did not really answer those questions, but it showed that there were a couple of people who were asking the same ones. It more r less focused on Harry Markopolos, who was initially hired by Rampart Financial to mathematically make up an equation to beat Madoff's ROIs. Within minutes, he realizes that Madoff's numbers are impossible, and from then on he becomes obsessed in exposing Madoff. he sends letters to Boston Exchange, and the SEC, and of course, nothing is done. In fact, this movie shows the ineptitude of SEC. Or was it because there were some powerful people connected with Madoff enabling him? The film employs some gimmicky tricks to make the subject matter seem simpler for some, but I think it mostly dumbs down the audience. And it tries to make Markopolos seem so "goofy" that it distracts from his message. But, the interviews are interesting, and the linear storytelling is clear that it should keep the interest of everyone watching. I hope this movie attracts viewers, and it should make people more aware of looking at their where and how their money is being invested. It is even being dedicated to the next set of people who will be part of the next financial meltdown, and unfortunately, that could very well happen.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Second V

Looking through my Kindle, I wanted to do a "random" choice on what to read next, so just on a lark, I chose "Guyaholic," by Carolyn Mackler. I thought it was a  cute and goofy title, (which I am sure helped) and a couple of pages into it, I realized it was a YA novel, so I thought, this will be nice and stress-free read.  The pacing was great and it was starting to rock.  Then I started to update Goodreads to note that I was currently reading this, and saw that it was Book # 2 of the V Valentine Series, and of course, I haven't read the first book yet. The anal retentive in my went to panic mode. Of course, I do know but for the most part, these books stand on their own. I just let caution to the wind and continued reading, and tried to enjoy this. And I dd. This book was fun, it was meaningful without the message being a hard sell, and I told myself I should do these random selections more. V just graduated from High School, and on the summer before going to BU, she accidentally cheats on the guy she is seeing, and takes a road trip to see her mom in Texas. Okay, so some of the expositions may be a bit forced, but all forgivable. Mackler gives V a great voice, and the one thing I liked about this book is how real the characters seem to be. Nothing is white-washed, and she doesn't treat her target audience with kid gloves. I love how frank it is with sexuality, without being vulgar. The story is at turns funny, and heartbreaking, and uplifting. Now I cannot wait to read the first book - I am adventurous that way !


Friday, April 6, 2012

Cold Serenity

Since it's Good Friday (and Passover) I wanted to wear something "spiritual," and of course that meant incense. Incense is one of my favorite notes - maybe it's the Catholic in me, I find it reminiscent of prayers, of churches, of the Mass. Kyoto by Commes des Garcon is one of my favorites of this genre. It's incense, but it has a serene, quiet quality that whispers. It is like being in an empty church, with the afternoon sun blazing, and almost fading, through the stained glass windows. The incense, on me, is transparent and a little sweet. Cypress circles the incense all throughout so there's green, but again it is all very transparent. CDG based this on Buddhism and meditation, and when I wear this scent I imagine myself by the woods, by the trees, and it's cold, and it's quiet, and it's peaceful., reflective even. On a day like today, it's most appropriate. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

'Cause You Gotta Have Friends

Sometimes, you just don't like some people.  I didn't like Willa Jacobs, the main character/narrator in Lauren Fox's "Friends Like Us." She's selfish, manipulative, and she got everything she deserved. I am reminded of  "Eat, Pray Love," that memoir. Willa purports herself to be BFFs with Jane, but she is extremely jealous of her, and tries to control her, and the situations they are in, to her liking. There was a very thin, simple non-story in the book, and you just know it wasn't a pretty one early on in the book. I finished not caring, and thankful that I do not have to spend any more time with these people. 


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Smash Ep 9: Valley OF The Ivy

On the night that the new Judy Garland play(with music), "End Of The Rainbow" opens on Broadway, we get Episode 9 of SMASH that is full of booze, pills, and heartbreak. Coincidence? Methinks not. Last night's episode was a doozy - quite possibly the most entertaining episode. A couple of things went to head. Firstly, they are really setting up the Tom/Black dude affair. Why else would they make the lawyer guy a Republican? I mean, they must know their target audience and they must know that two seconds after that reveal, the whole audience will recoil against him. Later on, Tom and the black guy go on a date. Now you can't say you weren't warned. Julia's husband, Frank, casually sees sheet music to a song Julia wrote about her affair with Michael. Uh-oh. But truly, we get to see a real actor in action - Brian D'Arcy James. He is intense, he is effective, and not for a second does he go over the top. I mean, Deb Messing was pretty good, too, but you can see a big difference in how they attack their roles, as evidenced by Deb's flapping of her arms when he left the house. And now we get to the funnest part of the episode (intentionally or not) which is Ivy's downward spiral. Pills, booze, and Prednisone has affected her, aggravated by her depression of losing the Marilyn role, and she has reluctantly come back to "Heaven On Earth," wherein she is back int he ensemble, behind Norbert Leo Butz as St. Peter. Well, one pill comes after another and she has a breakdown on stage ("People were asking for refunds," Tom says as I roll my eyes) which leads her and Karen singing Rhianna's Cheers Drink To That song in the middle of Times Square. (By the way, I love how they picked and chose certain billboards to blur and highlight, and am curious as to why) That was kind of campy and fun, and I think finally the producers and writers have gotten a sense of what this show should be. I think the show is changing from being a show about making a musical to be a soap about the people who make musicals, and I think it's a smart move. I will not give a lot of words, but I should say that I liked him being bitch-smacked at the end of the episode. Next week, Uma is in the house, I can't wait. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Pretty Witchy Woman

Just in case you are wondering, the Julia Roberts trademark laugh makes an appearance in "Mirror Mirror." Ms. Roberts is great here - the Grand Dame of all the proceedings, wearing the beautiful, intricately decorated costumes of Eiko Ishioka (who also did the costumes for the Spiderman musical) She's all dressed up with nowhere to go though, and more importantly, no one to play with. We all know Snow's story, but here that story is given a harder-edged which clashes with the ironic costumes (Snow White at the bowl wears a variation of Bjork's swan dress)  And Lily Collins isn't a fair princess. She seems bored by the whole proceedings, and I really really wanted to take her to my threading lady because I despised her caterpillar eyebrows. Armie Hammer, as Prince Charming, isn't charming at all. In fact, the prince here is portrayed as a loser, so tell me, why should the audience root for them to have a happily ever after? Even Nathan Lane is restrained. I mean, if they were going to go for the jugular, they should have let these actors have fun. Only Julia is set free, and she looks frustrated that no one is playing along with her. Director Tarsem Singh has always been more concerned with the visuals in his films, and visually, this film is a treat (you never know where to look) but more often than not, the beautifully decorated room is empty.

Summer Lovins

Remember when you were a kid, and school was ending, and you had to say goodbye to your best friend(s) for the summer? I remember that feeling vividly, as I always dreaded it - three months of not seeing people you normally spend every minute with. Brian Sloan's "Tale Of Two Summers" captures that experience in a novel. Chuck and Hal have been best friends for ten years. Chuck is straight, Hal is gay. Chuck goes for a Summer Musical Theater class, Hal stays and goes to Driver's Ed. They agree to blog about their days and nights to keep in touch with each other and we see how their summers progress. I liked the blog idea initially but have to admit it was cumbersome in the beginning, and I probably just needed getting used to it. It was quite interesting to see how their experiences differed and were similar. Of course, they have respective love interests. At times their actions were exasperating (Hal, for example, spends the first third of the book wondering if the guy he fancies is gay, and I wanted to scream, JUST ASK!) but I had to remind myself that these are sixteen year old kids and their emotional IQs aren't as formed. I thought give these kids a little more life experience (like the summer they just had) and they would turn out just fine. I love the little touches - how Chuck is doing "Merrily We Roll Along" as the musical of the summer, and the show gave both of them insights on their friendship. And I am just thinking, what a wonderful YA book, I wish I had this to read when I was a teenager. This is a great book to read at any age.