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Eve Dallas is a terrible cop.

There, I’ve said it. I thought it the first time I read the series and as I wind my way through for the third time, it still strikes me as true. It’s not her ability to solve crimes that are at issue. As a detective, she’s very good, as she is written to be, and solves the crimes, gets her man/woman and throws them ‘in a cage’ at the end of every installment. This is her job, both as a detective and as the main character of an ongoing series of books. She’s entertaining which makes her fun to read about. She is an excellent example of a strong female character, one who has strengths aside from being able to beat up bad guys and being bitchy.

But gods in dark little holes, I’d never want to meet the woman myself. She’s a stone cold bitch who misuses her authority like nobody’s business. She browbeats damn near every person she meets from receptionists whose only crime was being there to the people she interviews. She is always using threats and harassment to get information she wants without a warrant and acts like people who want a warrant are the scum of the earth who do so as a personal slight to her. In the book I just finished, Holiday in Death, Eve thinks she knows who the killer is and makes his life hell for several days while she tries to pin the murders on him. She knows in her heart, which she admits to in the book, that she knows it’s not him, but has a personal reason for wanting it to be him anyway. She bullies him, uses illegal, warrant-less means to dig up dirt on him, threatens to destroy his life with information she knows about him and is eventually forced to let him go. In another scene she fails to indicate her change of lanes while driving, hits a cab and when the cab driver comes out and calls her on it, pointing out that her lights and siren were not on and that she didn’t use her indicator, she threatens him with resisting arrest, assaulting an officer and a few other things. And the cab driver was right! What makes it worse is that the people around her praise her for this kind of behavior and think she’s ‘iced’.

Eve Dallas is a bit of a Mary Sue. She’s a very readable and pretty entertaining one, but it can be annoying and distracting at times. I’m not going to lambast authors for writing wish fulfillment into some of their work. The idea that authors should avoid this at all costs is pure silliness. What’s the point of building a whole new world and creating new characters if you can’t have some fun with them? I don’t mind that Eve Dallas, Sookie Stackhouse, Bella Swan and any other female lead you want to add to this list, happens to be seen as hot by the male lead and maybe one or two others. That’s part of the fantasy. Men do it too, writing male leads that have women throwing themselves at him all over the place. Fine and dandy, but for the love of chocolate chip cookies, be subtle about it! You want to avoid readers rolling their eyes as much as possible. A few characters wanting to hump the female leads leg is fine, but when more than half of the men in the series want to hump their legs, you’ve gone to far. Balance is key.

And that’s what’s happened to Eve and her use of her authority. I want her to use it, I even want her to misuse it on killers, jerks and really annoying people, but she doesn’t. She’s a complete bitch who throws her weight around with pretty much every person she meets. We’re talking 90% here. No, I’m not kidding, she’s that bad. Yeah, she’s had a rough life and all, but it doesn’t really come back to bite her in the ass like it should. Instead, people throughout the series praise her to the hilt for it, which starts to get old if you read too many of the books back to back, which I keep doing. It starts to become book after book of Eve worship. She always talking about how she’s protecting and serving the people of NYC, but we really just see her abusing them most of the time.

Do I love the books? Yep! Do I think they could be better? Well yeah, but what book couldn’t be better? Eve has a lot going for her as a character and it outweighs her annoying parts. That’s one of the joys of reading books you love that have flaws. You get to find out why you love it anyway so you can make your own writing more compelling.

Write on~

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2013 in All About Writing

 

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Chinatown: Most overated movie of all time.

film-noir-chinatown-1974-movie-poster-via-professormortis-wordpress

This movie sucks.  I know, heresy, but let me explain.  My husband and I watched this movie because it’s the ‘definitive’ film Noir, and I kind of like film noir on occasion.  The movie Brick was so good that we decided to see the movie that launched a genre. And we would really like our 130 minutes back. The whole movie was great, right up to the last ten minutes, when nothing that happened in the proceeding two hours mattered! We watched the plot twist and turn, clues revealed that only made the whole skein yet more tangled and it was great. Then the whole sordid mess was uncovered, the knot untangled, the pattern made plain. Hurrah! Our hero has unearthed everything and now the bad guys will be caught, our hero made a difference. The pain and effort was worth it! But alas no. It was a total and complete waste of his time in every way. Nothing changed except that more people were now dead than when he started. It could be argued that his involvement made the whole thing worse.

And I now need to take a shower, because I feel dirty. The whole movie is just one big waste of time. And I feel this way about so many ‘great’ movies. I don’t need them to have a happy ending, I’m okay with bittersweet, like Gladiator and Sucker Punch. I’m okay with main characters dying as long as they accomplish something with that death. I’m not okay with main characters getting the ever loving snot beaten out of them, their life put on the line and it not meaning a thing in the end. Maybe I just hate tragedy, and that is true, I’m not a fan of it. Romeo and Juliet strikes me as just one long exercise in failed communication and futility. But even in that story, their deaths ended the feud, so they did accomplish something. That didn’t happen in Chinatown. It was just sheer futility and pain, struggle for nothing, not even character growth. I don’t find that to be a story worth spending time with because it’s not a story, it’s just something that happened, but didn’t mean anything.

Yeah, that ending might be true to real life more often than not, but I don’t watch movies to relive all the times real life has kicked me in the face. I watch most movies to see somebody beat those odds. One of the many questions writers ask themselves when constructing a narrative is ‘why this character and why now?’ The point of that question is to make sure that we are telling an interesting story, that the story we are telling is a pivotal point in that character or the worlds history. That’s why when we look at history, we see the points of change like WWII, The eruption of Pompeii, Fall of Rome, etc. We don’t tell the story of a boy 10 years before the fall of Rome because nothing is happening there! Unless the story is about the boy himself, then you can do it, but if it’s about Rome, no one cares. The why is as important as the when. Why are we telling this story? Does someone in it triumph over their adversaries to meet a goal? Because if they don’t why are you writing it? What’s the point in the telling?

tumblr_md1ul6cNys1qzsuffo1_1280You can probably tell that I am not a fan of literature. I can respect some fiction because thrillers, suspense and mysteries mostly end with the hero solving the problem or living or whatever. I prefer to travel off planet for my fun, but that’s personal taste and not a problem of the story being broken. And Chinatown isn’t the only movie I’ve seen with this problem. Most of the movies coming out with Oscars tend to have this problem. The movie is great right up until they slit their own bellies at the end. I always walk away from those wondering what the writers or directer or producer were thinking. I wonder if they just couldn’t figure out what to do with the ending or if they all have prosaic sponsorships I don’t know about.

To be fair, Chinatown might be a classic because it’s the first Film Noir or maybe it’s an example of some filming technique I don’t know about. I’ve not been to film school, so I don’t know. But I am of the opinion that it isn’t fit for general consumption. I found very little to recommend it. If you did, more power to you, in at least that much, it’s still a free country.

 

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Clean your Coffee Maker!

Today was coffee maker cleaning day. Yes, that means what it says, I spent time fully cleaning my coffee maker to with in an inch of its poor life. Why you ask? Because coffee residue will build up and the coffee you make will progressively taste more and more bitter if you don’t. I’m not a fan of bitter coffee, I like it rich and smooth, so I take time to clean the machine. In fact, I have quite a little ritual to make sure my coffe stays tasting as good as that first cup I made when the maker was new.

My daily routine: Before I make my first cup of the day, I rinse the carafe and the top then rinse out the basket the filters rest in. I never leave the maker on but turn it off as soon as the water is done going through. Leaving it on will just cook the coffee and make it taste terrible unless you are at a coffee house and the stuff is turned over very quickly.

Weekly: I wash the carafe and filter basket with detergent and water. I wipe down the burner, inside, outside, the spot where the basket rests and run a full pot of hot water through, just for a hot rinse.

Once every month or two: This is a little more involved, which would seem a little annoying to most people, but we don’t have a dishwasher. I AM the dishwasher so I just do this while washing a sink load, so it doesn’t take much more effort and the results are worth it. I wash the carafe and basket, then fill the reservoir with hot water and just a touch of detergent. I run that through the system for a few moments, to clean that part, then use a toothbrush and scrub out the reservoir. Rinse. I ad a little vinegar to a cup of water and run that through. This helps to clean out any soap, stains, left over odd flavors and such. Vinegar is a wonderful thing. Rinse again and then run two full pots of clean water through the whole thing. Voila, a perfectly clean coffee maker! Yes, it seems like a long process, but the few times I’ve done this solo, while not washing dishes, it only took about 10 min or so.

“But I have a Keurig!” You say triumphantly. That doesn’t mean the machine can’t get guncked up by old coffee, it just means there’s less to clean. Anything that coffee goes through or sits in should be cleaned regularly, so that spot you put the little cup in needs a good cleaning as much as any other coffee machine.

If you use a french press, the same applies. Clean that bad boy regular like. And for the tea drinkers, you should do this too, but you have less to clean. I have a wonderful steeping screen and I wash that in detergent once a month as well. It has the exact same problem as coffee, oils from the leaves will build up on the screen/tea ball and make the tea taste more and more bitter. If you have a dishwasher, just toss it in there once in awhile and you should be fine.

Happy drinking!

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2013 in Food, On a Personal Note

 

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Bicycle seats weren’t made with lady bits in mind.

I was reminded of this fact last night. When I joined my gym, I had been biking around the neighborhood for the last month or so. My bike has one of those really big squishy seats with the short…protrusion. That made my first round of spin classes a little less traumatic, since I was far more used to the tiny torture devices they put on exercise bikes and expect us to use.

I was reminded painfully of that fact. I took my first spin class after a seven month hiatus and my lady bits are not pleased, and my butt isn’t speaking to me right now. I had completely forgotten how awful they are. By the end of the class, I stopped doing the sprints altogether and just focused on staying on the bike til the end of class.

Men generally have much smaller butts than us women, which accounts for the extra trim width of the seat. And they have a muscle running from the…bum button to the base of their…man bits which acts as a cushion between the seat and their hipbone. Girls don’t have that muscle. Nope, just a bone and lady bits. With all our weight on that tiny seat, which do you think suffers? Exactly.

There are seats out now that are made by Schwinn and I’m going to get one, bring it to class and install it on my bike of choice for the duration of the class. At the end, I will replace said torture device for the next sap to use. I’m already there to beat myself into a quivering sweaty mess, I don’t need to kill my ability to sit for a week while I’m at it.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2011 in Just to be Random

 

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Raw Milk > Vitamin C

I started drinking raw milk late last year, some time between Halloween and Thanksgiving. It took a tiny bit of getting used to, it costs more and I can’t get it at my regular grocery store.

But it is worth it! Since I’ve been drinking it, I feel so much better. I drink more milk, get hungry less often and I haven’t had a full cold or flu all winter. It’s better at cold prevention than vitamin C. Normally I get sick at least twice for a good week because of my husbands job. He spends his days in an office which is bad enough, but he also teaches other engineers how to use engineering software a week or two most months. Those other engineers come in sick all the time, being very generous with their wonderful diseases. So he brings it home, and we get to content with the little viruses for a few days. We can feel it coming on a day or two after exposure, a vague feeling of unwellness, fatigue, a slight fever. We have this for a day or three and then we’re good. No runny nose, coughing, sneezing, aching, stuffy headed misery for a week. Now, I’ve had to have days like that four or five times this year, but it beats the hell out of being sick for four or five weeks this year.

I’ve always been pretty healthy, but there was a notable change in our health this year when every year before that I would get sick at least once, but usually twice. And the Hubby usually gets sick far worse, loosing days of work to this nonsense. Part of it is recognizing it early and taking precautions, such as taking a day off to sit at home eating, sleeping and watching movies, so our bodies can fight it off. That helps a lot. better one or two days down, than a week or more of misery. We also let the low fevers rage without medicating. The body is trying to kill the virus and they do that by cooking them out, let the fever go!

But even with all that, this year has been clearly far more disease free. How does raw milk help you ask? Part of it is that raw milk has live bacteria and enzyme that take up residence in the digestive track and help out there, making you far more resistant to other nasties. Those new tenants also break down the milk far more efficiently so your body can actually use whats in the milk. The other part is that raw milk is very high in Vitamin D, which we are low on in the winter months. Pasteurized milk kills the good microbes and homogenization changes the molecular structure of the milk, making it far harder for the body to absorb the good stuff in it.

And the benefits of milk fat are enormous. It helps cut down on the amount of fat you store in your belly, mine is noticeably flatter now, it’s a good fat that the body can use for energy, skin and hair moisture and it has a lot of the vitamin D the body needs and calcium.

Pasteurizing made sense when we didn’t have refrigeration and bad stuff got in the milk, but it’s become the way to go, even though it isn’t really necessary anymore. If anything, it allows the dairies to be less clean because they are just going to cook the milk anyway. The farm my milk comes from is clean, has only grass fed cows that are the older genetic lines, and their milk is amazing. Pasteurized milk just tastes gross to me now.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2011 in Just to be Random

 

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When authors cross the line

I’m a big fan of Nora Roberts’ In Death series. I’m not huge on her romances, but that’s a tough genre for me and my standards are a bit on the niche side. Still, her writing strength is her snappy dialogue. She writes some of the best in the business in my opinion. It’s like the witty repartee in a good movie only it last through the whole book. And she has a really good sense of humor as well. The relationships Eve develops through the series are really the center of the story, and flow through and weave together the various murders that we see her life through.

I’ve read them all, including short stories, except the latest one. Waiting for the audio book version from my library, and I have to say that the narrator for the series, Susan Erickson, is amazing. She sounds just like I would expect Eve to sound. Sorry, couldn’t help the plug. I’ve been re-reading them over the last few months and I’m noticing a trend, one I’m not really on board with. It seems that in the later books, Eve is starting to get, dare I say it, almost worshiped in each book by the other characters.

The character of Eve has a lot of issues. Fine and dandy, I’m all for that and she spends the series working through those issues, also good. But at some point the other characters in the book are giving her too much praise for things. It seems that in every book at least two people go into a long monologue about how great Eve is and how something she did was just so deeply touching to them. Not just her husband, which is fine, or her best friend, but most of the supporting cast has had this kind of conversation with Eve at least once. This I have to call BS on. People just don’t have those kinds of conversations with each other on a regular basis. These are the kinds of conversations you would have maybe twice in your life. They are deeply revealing conversations that leave you open emotionally to the person you are talking to. Eve isn’t the kind of person you would bear your soul to, because you’d expect her to make a very cutting remark in response. To her credit, she doesn’t, but still, not everyone she knows would take the risk.

If someone saves your life, you’d thank them, sure. Probably profusely the first time. After that, it would be a more simple expression of thanks, not several long, heart felt and gut spilling conversations. Conversations that go only one way in most cases. Eve just acts flustered and embarrassed by the compliments and rarely responds in a positive way. Which makes perfect sense for her. It’s the other characters I wouldn’t expect this from.

It just seems like overkill in a couple spots, like the author is really feeling an emotional bond with her main character, seeing some of herself in the character, or who she wants to be in her character. Nothing wrong with that, all authors pour some of themselves, and some of the selves they want to be into their main characters. It’s the heaping of praise upon this MC in a way that strikes me as heaping such praise upon the self you wish you could be that seems off. Unrealistic and heavy handed. It’s not narcissistic, it’s just uncomfortable for me to read at times. It feels like I’ve just walked in on a couple making love. Too intimate and it takes me out of the fantasy and to far into the author herself.

And it kind of feels like seeing that girl who’s wearing the tee-shirt that proclaims that she’s ‘hawt’, or the mother who gets a license plate that says MILF on it. (Yeah, I’ve seen that plate. More than one I’m afraid.) There’s nothing wrong with being confident, but that takes it a step too far. You can not declare yourself to be hot. You can think you look hot, but you can’t go around telling everyone else that you are. It seems really pretentious and people feel a bit insulted by someone taking it up on themselves to tell you how you are to see them. Who can stand the guy who tells everyone he’s the best on the football team? Who likes the prom queen who makes sure to work that into every conversation? Let everyone else make up their own minds and we won’t be embarrassed for you. And no, I’m not jealous. I have days when I feel pretty hot and I tell my husband and he’s happy to tell me I’m right. And he’s supposed to, but I don’t go to the 19 year old guy at the mall and tell him I’m hot. He might not share that opinion.

I could be reading this wrong, that’s just how it’s striking me. It’s a line and I feel it’s starting to get crossed. Let me decide to love or hate Eve Dallas. Don’t tell me how to think of her, show me who she is, and I’ll decide for myself.

 

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