Friday, November 21, 2014

The Stupid Movie Blog Tour: The Man Who Knew Too Little

Here we are: this movie is the reason I wanted to do this tour.

Unlike a lot of other stupid movies, no matter how good, the writing here wastes nothing. On top of that, every actor is hilarious, whether it's slapstick humor, straight guy/gal or confused bystander.

The plot is ridiculous. Wally (Bill Murray) is a wannabe actor who works in a video rental store in the States and decides to visit his brother James (Peter Gallagher) and his posh wife Barbara (Anna Chancellor) in London- unannounced. Great- except that the couple is having a very important dinner meeting with potential investors and James knows it's only a matter of time before Wally says something embarrassing. Solution: get him a ticket to participate in the Theatre of Life, a fictional adventure complete with guns and dangerous criminals, so he can act out his fantasies of being an actor AND be out of the house. It wouldn't be a Stupid Movie if an international conspiracy didn't cross its (phone) wires with the acting troupe; when Wally answers a phone call intended for a hit man and thinks it's part of the act, the fun begins!

Wally never once is clued into the fact that this is real, not when he encounters a gun-wielding mistress named Lori (Joanne Whalley), a real dead body (whom he thinks is another actor really committed to his role), a corrupt politician or an expert in torture. (The fact that he goes searching for the infamous Ludmilla Kropotkin and finds an elderly couple enjoying a little BDSM only enhances the absurdity of the set up- but it's hilarious). Even after James is tortured while trying to rescue his brother, Wally still believes that the whole thing is a very long act. He's not convinced otherwise when Boris (Alfred Molina), the assassin who has been stalking him all night, happily concedes his inferiority to him nor when he and Lori are approached the next day by an elite American espionage group to become an assassin for them. As far as he can tell, he's being invited to join an acting troupe! So they all live happily ever after...although you do wonder what's going to happen when he has to pull his first real "job".

As with all dramatic productions (well, you know), this wouldn't work nearly as well without really good actors.

This isn't too much of a stretch for Murray; if you've seen What About Bob?, you'll probably agree that this is an extension of that character. But nobody does I'm So Uncool I Don't Realize It And That Makes Me Cool like him.
Gallagher, whom I knew best before this as the studio executive out for blood in The Player, cracks me up as he tries to keep his cool while the ridiculous disaster unfolds around him.
Molina, who's done his fair share of psychopaths, deserves his laughs as he plays a reluctant assassin brought back into the fold ("There's always clean up!").
And while Whalley has done her share of femme fatales, here she's using her sexiness for laughs (and she's laughing too).
Every scene in this movie is funny, although a different kind of funny: some of it is physical, some of it is mistaken identity, some of it is iconoclastic, and some of it is absurd. If you haven't already seen it, you need to go do that right now. Here's just a sampling of why:

"You gotta check and see just how dead they are."

"How he mocks us!"

"And I want to do kids and old people...."

In short, possibly the perfect Stupid Movie. (Why are you still reading this and not watching this right now?)

Thanks to everyone who's followed the Stupid Movie Adventure thus far. Be sure to see what else Caroline Fardig has up her sleeve on the 25th!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tips on Managing A Series

I am on my good friend Lisette Brodey's Writer's Chateau this week, sharing my thoughts on what you need to keep in mind when you're managing a series. Please take a look.

How do we make all of these books part of the same story?

If you're a reader, what's your favorite series? If you're a writer, what are your tips?

Monday, November 10, 2014

The #StupidMovieTour celebrates...Malibu's Most Wanted

As soon as I saw a commercial for Malibu’s Most Wanted, I knew I needed to see it. I wanted to see this so badly I used my wifely wiles to convince my husband to take me to this on our tenth wedding anniversary. (He didn’t think so highly of it, and I had to spend our eleventh anniversary watching Hellboy. Even given that, it was worth it.)

I understand why some might find this offensive: this movie is funny because it's riffing on offensive stereotypes. In this case, that young urban African Americans are all dangerous gangsters (or, excuse me, gangstaz) who refuse to speak proper English. If you’re going to play with stereotypes for comedy, you’ve got to go all the way to show how ridiculous they are—and Jamie Kennedy goes all the way.

Kennedy is Brad aka B-Rad Gluckman, a wealthy, completely deluded young man whose father is running for political office. (And to make this movie extra ridiculous, his Jewish parents are played by Ryan O’Neal and Bo Derek.) He and his friends are self-styled gangsters (gangstaz—whatever) in their extremely privileged Malibu 'hood. Therapy has been unsuccessful (but does yield a diagnosis of Gangstaphrienia), and his father is desperate to prevent B-rad from embarrassing him on the campaign trail. His ambitious campaign manager (Blair Underwood) hits upon the idea of scaring B-rad straight by getting him involved with some real inner city gangsters. Just one problem: he doesn’t know any. He hits on the ingenious solution of hiring aspiring actors Taye Diggs and Anthony Anderson to play the parts. They in turn recruit Anderson’s cousin Regina Hall to help sell the act further in her neighborhood. It’s all one big con that spirals out of control—think tanks and military grade artillery in Compton—and in the end Blair Underwood is fired, Ryan O'Neal wins the election, Jamie Kennedy gets the girl and everyone accepts him for what he is: a wannabe rapper in a privileged white man’s body.  The End.
Malibu's Most Wanted
The scene is set...
The brilliance of this movie doesn’t really take off until Kennedy is thrown in with Diggs and Anderson—and then it’s gold. Some of my favorite scenes:

+The attempted robbery at the liquor store. As Anderson and Diggs bicker about who’s going to go in with Kennedy to make sure he knocks it off, Diggs pleads with Anderson: “Will you please do this for me? You know I’m afraid of Koreans!”
Hopefully that's how you'd look if you were sent in to rob a liquor store
+When Anderson and Diggs finally get Kennedy to break. “Gentleman, I am really sorry if I offended you.” Anderson and Diggs are almost convinced, but there’s only one way to find out. Which leads to...the scary movie. Suffice to say, it leads back to Square One.
+Taye Diggs offering an explanation of what happened that only a philosophy professor could untangle.
+And any time Kennedy utters my favorite line
And what do we learn at the end of this movie? Absolutely nothing: truly the hallmark of a well-done Stupid Movie.

Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to visit Caroline for her pick on the 12th

Thursday, November 6, 2014

'Twas the Night by Robin Reed (Giveaway)

As if the Holiday season wasn't scary enough!

Title: ‘Twas the Night

Author: Robin Reed

Published: November 8th, 2012

Word Count: 35,000

Genre: Horror Comedy

Content Warning: Comedy Horror Violence

Age Recommendation: 13+

Rollo is the overworked, stressed-out Head Elf at the North Pole. As he prepares for Christmas Eve, he has to deal with toys that look like they’re having sex, terrorist reindeer, and worst of all, the sudden death of Santa Claus. Rollo has to save Christmas after he finds out that Santa is not just dead — he is undead.

‘Twas the Night is a novella of approximately 35,000 words. It is a satire and contains adult language and themes.

About the Author

Robin Reed is the author of a strange collection of books. She writes science fiction, horror, humor, and humorous science fiction and horror. She was born in Chicago but found her way to Los Angeles, swearing to never again experience a midwestern winter.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

White Chalk by Pavarti K Tyler (Giveaway)

White Chalk Blast Banner

White ChalkTitleWhite Chalk
Author: Pavarti K Tyler
Published: July 2013
Word Count: 65,000
Genre: Literary Fiction, Coming of Age
Content Warning: Adult themes and sexual content
Age Recommendation: 15+

Chelle isn’t a typical 13-year-old girl—she doesn’t laugh with friends, play sports, or hang out at the mall after school. Instead, she navigates a world well beyond her years.
Life in Dawson, ND spins on as she grasps at people, pleading for someone to save her—to return her to the simple childhood of unicorns on her bedroom wall and stories on her father’s knee.
When Troy Christiansen walks into her life, Chelle is desperate to believe his arrival will be her salvation. So much so, she forgets to save herself. After experiencing a tragedy at school, her world begins to crack, causing a deeper scar in her already fragile psyche.
Follow Chelle’s twisted tale of modern adolescence, as she travels down the rabbit hole into a reality none of us wants to admit actually exists.

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About the Author

Pavarti K Tyler
Award-winning author of multi-cultural and transgressive literature, Pavarti K. Tyler is an artist, wife, mother and number cruncher. She graduated Smith College in 1999 with a degree in Theatre. After graduation, she moved to New York, where she worked as a Dramaturge, Assistant Director and Production Manager on productions both on and off Broadway. Later, Pavarti went to work in the finance industry for several international law firms.
She now lives with her husband, two daughters, and two terrible dogs. She keeps busy working with fabulous authors as the Director of Marketing at Novel Publicity, and by penning her next novel.

Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Website | Blog

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Hidden Monster (The Monsters Among Us Book 1) by Amanda Strong (Excerpt, Giveaway)

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Title:  Hidden Monster
Series:  The Monsters Among Us Book 1
Author:  Amanda Strong
Published:  November 4th, 2014
Publisher:  Clean Teen Publishing
Page Count:  297
Genre:  YA Mature Paranormal Romance
Content Warning:  Violence, minor language, and adult themes
Recommended Age:  16+
For seventeen-year-old Samantha Campbell, running back woods trails usually means freedom from her less-than-perfect life. That is, until the day a morning run turns into a living nightmare. When Samantha wakes up to find herself bound to a dirty, pinstriped mattress, she realizes she’s anything but free. With a masked abductor repeatedly injecting her arm with an unknown substance while holding her captive, Samantha tries in vain to find out what he wants, but he refuses to speak. Until the day he breaks his silence and his twisted words are worse than what she’d imagined. He promises her one day she will fall in love with him but the best part will be that she won’t know who he is… until it’s too late.
Finding herself freed from captivity, with her captor still at large, Samantha is on guard against everything and everyone around her. Unfortunately, walling up her heart proves difficult when eighteen-year-old Blake Knightley moves in next door. When Samantha starts experiencing strange changes within her, she realizes her captor may have left her more damaged than she originally thought. Now she must turn to Blake for help in order to unearth the truth behind the monster who started this all… or risk experiencing worse things than just falling in love.
Step, step, breathe, breathe, step, step, breathe, breathe. My shoes kept a steady rhythm with my burning lungs. I veered off my regular path, opting to hear the crunch of the leaves beneath my feet. The image of my mom’s disapproving face was ignored as I leapt across a gurgling brook. Breathe, breathe, crunch, crunch.
            If I wasn’t mountain biking, I was running. I craved speed and freedom. I had to escape the oppressive perfection of living in the Campbell home. Thinking of my two older sisters, one model and the other a star volleyball player, my legs lunged, lengthening their stride. Not good at team sports and terrified by cameras, I knew my family felt my height was wasted on me.
            Even Jeremy gives me a hard time.
A stitch pinched my side. Breathe, breathe. I knew I was going too fast, not pacing myself right. Something was urging me on, pushing me to scale the hill before me, and plunge deeper into the woods. I refocused on my rhythm, my inhales and exhales, and my body realigned itself, goose bumps shooting across my arms. There it is. I’d hit my second wind and I surged on, not caring where my feet led.
It’s freedom! Complete and—
            There was a rush of air, a whistling in my ear, and a sting to the back of my arm. Instantly, I tumbled to the ground, sliding into the damp morning dew. Cold dirt filled my nostrils as blackness enveloped me.
             I heard my own labored breathing long before I realized I was somewhere in between awake and asleep. Forcing my eyes open, I gasped. My senses took everything in at once—the smell of wood shavings, the scratchy ropes on my wrists and ankles, and the pressure of the mattress beneath my body. I screamed, but the empty room with wooden floors and stacked logs for walls was empty. No one burst through the door in the corner.
Realizing it was useless and only making my throat raw, I fell silent. Panic flooded me. How did I get here? I pressed my thoughts to retrace my steps, but my mind felt sluggish. My last memory was running in the woods just before sunrise. I could still feel the burn from the autumn air hitting my lungs. Now the solitary window painted a yellow rectangle on the floor. The room felt stuffy. It’s probably late afternoon. But is it the same day?
The minutes rolled slowly into hours, the silence suffocating. What had my therapist said to do when I was scared? Breathe deeply and don’t panic. It was too late for that; all the years of therapy after my childhood accident were rendered useless. I’m drowning all over again. Only this time, it wasn’t water filling my lungs but pure fear and terror pressing down on my chest. I gulped in dry air, my eyes burning with tears.
No one’s coming to save me. A sob escaped me as the real horror of the situation washed over me. I’m tied up. Someone knows I’m here. What would happen when they came back? As the last rays of light were snuffed out by the shadows of the night, that someone came through the wooden door.
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About the Author:
Born in Dekalb, Illinois, Amanda Strong has called Utah, Arizona, Hawaii, Virginia and now New Mexico home. Amanda has been spinning tales since she was a child. Her family still remembers finding young Amanda with her bright pink glasses, hiding in random corners of the house while scribbling away in one of her many spiral-bound notebooks. You could say that some things never change since Amanda is still writing today. Amanda began her writing career when she uploaded The Awakener, her first full-length novel, on Wattpad where it received over 430,000 reads in four weeks. She was blown away and humbled by the reader support and feedback she received. Because of The Awakener’s success as a non-published book, she was asked to talk on 1400 KSTAR about her story.
In September 2013 Amanda Strong signed with Clean Teen Publishing. The Awakener is the first book in an all-new young adult paranormal romance series called: The Watchers of Men.
When Amanda isn’t writing, you can find her chasing her three rambunctious children around the house and spending time with her wonderful and supportive husband. On some occasions you can still find Amanda with her not-so-pink glasses, hiding in a corner reading her favorite young adult fantasy novels or working out only to blow her diet by eating ice cream.
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Clean Teen Publishing Links:
Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • A bookmark swag pack and winner’s choice of any Clean Teen Publishing eBook.
Giveaway is International.
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Monday, November 3, 2014

A little more #NaNoWriMo advice

I already bragged on Facebook and Twitter about being quoted in a piece on writing advice for NaNoWriMo, but I'm dropping this quick post to point you to another good bit of advice, this time from education advocate Stephen Krashen. His concerns obviously have a different focus, but his advice comes to similar conclusions novelists and other writers boil down to: plan, follow a regular schedule, and edit.

"Inspiration usually comes during work, rather than before it.” (Madeline L'Engle)
Best insight Krashen offers: writers who follow a regular schedule are not only more productive than binge writers, they're also a little less, well, neurotic.

We'll take it!