Posted by Caren Crane Oct 18 2014, 12:14 am in Caren Crane, ebooks, electronic publishing, ereaders, new tricks, old dogs, paperless office, technological advances, technology at home
The old adage would have us believe you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Friends, I must disagree. I am an old dog at this point in my life and I am having to learn new tricks daily! Things are changing rapidly in all parts of my life. When I think how different things are today than they were just 10 years ago, it is mind-boggling.
At work, we haven’t quite achieved the “paperless” office we were promised in the ’90s, but we are getting there. Things we used to file on paper, we scan and archive. Records we used to print and file, we store electronically. Processes we used to accomplish with printed invoices, paper checks and handwritten debit/credit tickets, we now do with a bit of data entry and the running of a script.
In the writing world, the publication and consumption of e-books has grown by leaps and bounds in the past 6 years. In 2008, I never dreamed I would have the knowledge and wherewithal to publish my books electronically. In 2013, I began to do just that. I’m not sure I would have believed I could do that even in 2011! Things change fast, though, and we have to change or get left behind.
Even at home, we have more technology than I think our family requires. PCs, laptops, tablet computers, digital music players, streaming video and even smart phones. We are far too connected to everyone on the planet, in my opinion, and yet, I can more or less use all these devices as intended. Sometimes I have to call on my husband for in-house tech support, but we have all become very dependent on our digital devices. Even my coffee maker is programmable, for Pete’s sake!
So yes, I am definitely an old dog. But in order to keep up with our rapidly-changing world, I’ve been required to learn new tricks. Lots of new tricks. Some that I never even wanted to learn! I can still learn them, though. I think we may have to retire that adage soon, at least in regards to people, since we are all going to be learning lots of new tricks forever.
How about you? Have you learned any new tricks lately? Have you surprised yourself by learning something you never thought you would or could? And just for fun, do you know any old dogs who really can’t learn new tricks? I’d love to hear!
Posted by Caren Crane Oct 5 2014, 12:16 am in Caren Crane, fish, Low Country Shrimp Boil, National Seafood Month, NC Seafood Festival, Old Bay, oysters, shellfish, shrimp
I didn’t realize this until I got an e-mail from Pei Wei the other day, but October is National Seafood Month here in the United States. We all know the old adage about not eating shellfish (particularly oysters) in months without an “R,” which makes those of us who live in warmer climes (of the Northern Hemisphere) avoid local seafood in the summer months. I didn’t realize they had dedicated a whole “R” month to the consumption of seafood, though!
Apparently, they have and this is it. So, while we revel in the cooling temperatures, turning leaves and ripened apples autumn brings, those of us in the U.S. can also revel in lots of local celebrations of seafood. I will be heading to Morehead City, North Carolina, today with two of my besties (both named Susan), to indulge myself at the 28th annual North Carolina Seafood Festival (http://ncseafoodfestival.org/). We went together years ago and had a great day of it. Lots of foods to try, lots of vendors with lovely arts and crafts on sale, lots of entertainment and LOTS of people. I’m sure this year will be no different.
I am looking forward to all parts of this trip. Getting up early and meeting my friends, taking a 2-1/2-hour road trip to the coast, eating tons of seafood, looking for souvenirs and, most of all, spending quality time with friends I see far too seldom. Except for the mad battle for parking spaces, it should all make for a wonderful day. Just for fun, here is my favorite shrimp boil recipe, courtesy of the folks at Old Bay® (http://oldbay.com/Recipes/Shrimp/Main-Course/The-Original-OLD-BAY-Shrimp-Boil-Shrimp-Fest.aspx). Don’t skimp on the Old Bay, y’all. It really makes every part of this 100 times more delicious!
The Original Old Bay Shrimp Boil Shrimp Fest
4 quarts water (16 cups)
1 can (12 ounces) beer (optional)
1/2 cup OLD BAY® Seasoning
2 tablespoons salt
8 medium red potatoes, quartered
2 large onions, cut into wedges
2 pounds lean smoked sausage, cut into 2-inch pieces
8 ears fresh corn, shucked and halved crosswise
4 pounds unpeeled jumbo shrimp (21 to 25 count)
Bring water, beer, OLD BAY Seasoning and salt to boil in 12-quart stockpot on high heat. Add potatoes and onions. Cook 8 minutes. Add smoked sausage. Cook 5 minutes. Add corn. Cook 7 minutes. Stir in shrimp. Cook 4 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink.
Drain cooking liquid. Pour contents of pot into large serving bowl or platter. Or, mound on paper-covered table. Sprinkle with additional OLD BAY Seasoning, if desired.
Be sure to have plenty of napkins (or maybe just a roll of paper towels) handy, as well as bowls for the shrimp shells, corn cobs, lemon rinds and whatever else isn’t eaten.
Tell me about your seafood favorites! I do not care for oysters, but do love shrimp, crab and fish in all forms. Have you ever been to a seafood festival? If so, what month of the year was it? I’m wondering if these happen in autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, as well!
Posted by Caren Crane Sep 22 2014, 11:30 pm in Baby Steps, Bandita Booty, book launch, Caren Crane, Cross Springs series, prizes, Tiara Wars
Thanks to everyone for swinging by to celebrate my (sort of) double book launch! I’m happy to announce the winners are two of my favorite Bandita Buddies:
AMY CONLEY and LOUISA CORNELL!! Amy and Louisa, please drop me a line to carencrane AT gmail DOT com and let me know whether you want a copy of BABY STEPS or TIARA WARS and what ebook format you prefer.
Congratulations and thanks again for being such awesome wonder-Buddies!
Posted by Caren Crane Sep 21 2014, 12:27 am in Baby Steps, Caren Crane, chidlessness, Cross Springs, Cross Springs In Bloom, Cross Springs series, foster kids, foster parents, grief, handling grief, Kick Start, marital betrayal, Tiara Wars, widowhood
I hope no one got their hopes up at that title. Really. I am the worst party hostess in the history of partying AND also terribly lazy. So, this won’t be like one of Tawny’s lovely book launch parties, where there are 12 kinds of appetizers and Pablo is circulating with both white and red wine. BUT, it is a serious celebration of the launch of my two newest books, TIARA WARS and (albeit belatedly) BABY STEPS.
Settle in and help yourself to whatever you can find. I told Sven to set out bowls of Fritos and French onion dip and to have platters of cookies and a sundae bar. Oh, and alcohol. I have no idea what he has done with those orders, which likely sent him straight to the medicine cabinet for anti-anxiety meds. Anyway, let’s talk about the books.
BABY STEPS is the second novel in my Cross Springs series. In it, our hardworking, career-oriented heroine, Connie Burns, has decided to have a baby. And she’s about to turn 39. And she has lupus. Everyone, including her husband, thinks this is a terrible idea. But Connie is a force of nature, as anyone who read KICK START or CROSS SPRINGS IN BLOOM knows. She will not be denied. Happily, her husband Tim knows her inside and out and understands exactly how to…er…sway Connie to his way of thinking. (I hate to use the word manipulate – so many negative connotations!) Connie agrees to proceed with the plans to foster a child, which they had set aside when she was diagnosed with lupus. Once the foster-parent wheels are set in motion, Connie’s world is turned completely upside down. And you get to read about the fallout! It’s great stuff, I promise. You’ll laugh! You’ll cry! You’ll laugh some more!
If you completely missed the publication of this book in late June, that’s because I basically did NOTHING to promote it. I didn’t even have a launch party here! So I decided to let Connie horn in on Katie’s launch party for TIARA WARS. Fortunately, the two are BFFs now, so Katie won’t mind.
Katie Warren is the heroine of my third Cross Springs novel, TIARA WARS. Those who read KICK START may be surprised at Katie’s transformation from interfering busybody in the first novel to sympathetic, soul-searching heroine in the third. It’s been a long, tough journey for Katie. It’s tough to feel much sympathy for someone who was basically born with a silver spoon in her mouth and who has been showered with attention, awards and admiration her entire life, but poor Katie has been through some stuff when TIARA WARS opens.
A year previously, Katie learned her husband Larry had had an extra-marital affair. Before she could even get the truth from him about the affair, he had a massive coronary and died. To say she is conflicted is mild, indeed. But Connie, Cross Springs and good old circumstances force Katie to shake off her stupor of grief and disbelief and work toward getting some closure on her marriage and Larry’s untimely death. It also leaves her no choice but to decide who she was, who she is and who she wants to be. Poor Katie!
In both these books, I put the heroines through some serious soul-searching and emotional turbulence. But I also packed in the crazy people of Cross Springs, some really funny scenes, and the sort of “this could really happen” stuff that is too rarely seen in fiction. Connie and Katie’s stories are not unique. We all know women who have had a midlife crisis, changed their minds about strongly-held choices, dealt with grief and handled the gobsmacking wallop of marital betrayal. Connie and Katie are you and me, our sisters, our moms, our friends and co-workers. What makes them special is how their pain speaks to ours. And what makes it fun to read is that their traumas, like ours, are only one facet of their very full lives.
So have Pablo pour you another drink, grab some Fritos and cookies, and let’s have a lovely chat here at the (VERY CASUAL) party in the Lair today!
To break the conversational ice (while Sven whips up more French onion dip and has a small nervous breakdown), tell me about someone you know who is like Connie (career-focused, goal-oriented, loyal and a super-fun aunt!) or Katie (a natural leader, the queen bee and a serious people-pleaser). Has anything changed this person’s mind or attitude? Have you changed yours when life got crazy? I’ll share some of my own stories today, as well. I’ll also give away an e-book copy (format of your choice) of BABY STEPS and also one of TIARA WARS (one each) to two lucky commenters!
Posted by Caren Crane Sep 3 2014, 12:12 am in Black Jack Randall, Caren Crane, Castle Leoch, Claire Beauchamp, Craigh Na Dun, Cranesmuir, Diana Gabaldon, Jamie Fraser, Outlander, Starz, STARZ Outlander, Time Travel Romance
Everyone here knows two things about me:
1. I am cheap, cheap, cheap.
2. I am slow, slow, slow.
Add these together and it seems pretty unlikely that I would have been watching the new TV series Outlander on the Starz network, since that is a paid network on cable TV and the show is NEW. I don’t have cable TV. I certainly don’t have Starz. I do, however, have friends with Starz!!
Yes, I have been watching Outlander. Way back in the olden days (that’s 1991, kids), I was a member of the Doubleday Book Of the Month club. The way it worked, they picked a book as their “book of the month” and if you didn’t tell them you didn’t want it, it showed up in the mail. Usually, it was such a pain in the tail to return it, you ended up keeping it. And reading it. And, sometimes, loving it. That’s what happened to me in 1991. I forgot to return my card one month and in the mail came Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. I was reading romance again at this point, which was why I joined the BOTM club in the first place. But I didn’t read time travel romance. Never had, never wanted to. I read the flap on Outlander…and put it aside. For months.
Then one day, I ran out of things to read. It must have been a slow weekend day when my son was outside playing and I was finished doing housework. I picked up Outlander and began to read. And read. And read. I devoured it. I also waited impatiently for the publication of Gabaldon’s next installment, Dragonfly In Amber, which came out in 1992. Even though it was a rather dark book, what joy! Then I got married. And had a baby. And waited VERY impatiently until Voyager came out in 1994, while I was pregnant with yet another baby. Then, dearest friends, I waited until 1997 for Drums Of Autumn. And so on and so forth.
All this time, I collected friends who were also huge fans of the Outlander series. We would try, from time to time, to imagine who they would cast as Jamie and Claire. Claire was fairly easy. But Jamie? Forget about it. Where would they find a 6-foot 4-inch red-headed Scottish actor to play Jamie? Um…in Scotland, apparently. Because Starz found the perfect Jamie. Okay, he’s not quite tall enough, in my opinion, but as my youngest says, “He’s beautiful!” Yes, with an exclamation point. Matter of fact, she wanted me to blog about Outlander and I told her I thought I might have done that before. She came up with a tagline: Jamie is so beautiful, you have to post about him twice. True. So there you have it, from the mouths of babes. Oh, yeah, and that chick who plays Claire is great, too.
Honestly, they are doing a fabulous job with the story so far. Not everything from the book is there and a few rather salient things (like meeting Roger as a child) are missing. Some things are sort of mashed together and some rewritten a bit. But all in all, it’s really a wonderful production. And here is a still of Diana Gabaldon in a cameo in Episode 4. I love that she is working so closely with the production crew!
I’ll admit, I am currently re-reading Outlander. And I will, no doubt, re-read all the books in the series. Diana Gabaldon is a masterful writer. She created a world full of people I cared about and wanted to visit with time and again. That hasn’t changed. What has is that I now have a great picture of what Craigh Na Dun and Cranesmuir and Castle Leoch look like. And Black Jack Randall, too. (grrrr) I will keep popping over to my friend’s house to watch Outlander, even though I am dead cheap and generally slow. I won’t be slow on this one, y’all. I will be watching it unfold week by impatient week!
Have you indulged in Outlander in book or TV show form? If you’ve done both, which do you prefer? If you haven’t ever been exposed, what has stopped you? I recommend everyone give the show a try, at least, when it’s available to you. And what is better than men in kilts?!?
Posted by Anna Sugden Sep 1 2014, 12:05 am in Anna Campbell, Anna Sugden, Annie West, Barbara Lohr, Caren Crane, Caroline Warfield, Christie Kellie, coming attractions, Donna MacMeans, Julie Benson, Nancy Northcott, Pam Mantovani, Patience Griffin, September Coming Attractions, Suzanne Ferrell, Tiara Wars, Trish Milburn
I don’t know about all of you, but I can’t believe it’s September already. Before you know it, shops will be stocking up for Christmas! At least those of you in North America have Halloween and Thanksgiving to keep those retailers occupied. Here in England, we’ve seen tinsel and twinkling lights as early as the beginning of October. *shakes head*
Anyway, the weather may be cooling in the northern hemisphere, as summer fades into fall, but here in the Lair, the fun is heating up – rather like the weather for our friends Down Under! As usual, we have a month packed with great Bandita books and lots of fabulous guests. I can hear my TBR mountain groaning already!
Tawny Weber’s latest Sexy SEAL hits the shelves this month with A SEAL’s Fantasy. The title really says it all.
Also, don’t forget Caren Crane’s Tiara Wars (launch party coming on September 21!) and Anna Campbell’s What a Duke Dares.
We kick off the month in style tomorrow, with the return of a Lair favourite, as the lovely Annie West stops by to talk about her latest book, Damaso Claims his Heir. Damaso garnered a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews and it’s a doozy of a read so check it out.
Donna will be interviewing Caroline Warfield about her debut historical novel, Dangeorous Works, on Sept 4.
On September 5th, debut author Patience Griffin makes her first visit to the Bandit Lair with her book To Scotland With Love, the first in her Quilts & Kilts series.
More fun on Sept 7th, when Nancy and Trish report on this year’s Dragon*Con adventures.
*Launch party alert* On 10th September, the fabulous Anna Campbell is holding one of the lair’s infamous launch parties to send her What a Duke Dares, book 3 in her Sons of Sin series, into the world with a bang. Swing by for a glass of ducal champagne and giveaways!
On Sept 12th, Barbara Lohr joins Donna to talk about her new release, Her Favorite Honeymoon. Barbara will be comparing a warmly familiar setting such as a small town series to a pulse-speeding read in faraway places or times, and asking which you prefer.
A familiar and beloved face returns to the Lair on Sept 16th, as Christie Kelley joins Nancy to talk about her latest releases, Vexing the Viscount.
On Sept 17 Trish hosts Pam Mantovani to discuss The Cowboy on her Doorstep, her debut novel.
More cowboys on September 18th, when Julie Benson returns to chat with Suz about her latest Harlequin American book, A Cowboy In The Making!
Don’t forget to check out this month’s Bandita contests!
Anna Campbell’s RT Book Reviews Top Pick, What a Duke Dares, is out in the UK at the end of October so she’s celebrating this momentous occasion by having a cup of tea and giving two entrants in her current website contest a chance to win a signed print edition of the beautiful Mills and Boon edition of the book. To enter just email her on anna @ annacampbell.info (no spaces) with the names of the other full-length novels in the Sons of Sin series. There are two of them and you might find the answer here. The contest closes 31st October, 2014, and entry is open internationally.
Tawny’s giving away a free digital compilation of Hot Kisses to anyone joining her newsletter this month. To join and get your copy, just click here.
Do you have anything special that you’re looking forward to this September?
By the way, don’t forget you can buy most of these books quickly and easily by clicking on the covers!
Posted by Caren Crane Aug 24 2014, 12:16 am in Caren Crane, first kisses, perfect kiss, Romance, romantic payoff
These days, there is a lot of explicit sex on offer. You can watch guarded versions on network TV or incredibly explicit versions on cable TV. It is available in movies and even in books. It makes me shake my head in wonder at the sort of romance novels I started out reading. The payoff in those? A single, perfect kiss.
I cut my romance baby teeth on dozens of Barbara Cartland’s Regency romances. These slender volumes invariably featured beautiful, but impoverished, heroines with heart-shaped faces. The heroes were tall, dark, very rich noblemen who somehow managed to see past the heroine’s shabby clothes and unfashionable chapeau to the natural grace and beauty underneath. At the end of these sweeping, sweet romances, the hero and heroine shared a glorious, much-anticipated kiss. Generally, this followed after the declaration of love and proposal of marriage.
This notion of waiting an entire book for a single kiss is hopelessly old-fashioned these days. With shows like Game Of Thrones and Masters Of Sex (both excellent, by the way) showing us people getting busy every which way, who would waste their time reading 150 pages to get to that incredibly sweet first kiss?
I still find myself, though, enjoying the build-up. Even in books where the hero and heroine are definitely headed toward the boudoir, I love the sexual tension. The awareness. The breathless anticipation of the will they, won’t they? We can pretty much guarantee, these days, that the hero and heroine will definitely do a lot more than kissing. But waiting for that first kiss is something I still really enjoy. (And yes, that IS Richard Armitage and that fabulous kiss on the train from North and South!
I’m not sure if my enjoyment of the anticipation is because of all those Barbara Cartland novels or because I simply love falling in love right along with the heroine. My “new love” days are long gone and so far in the past now they are difficult to recall sometimes. But when I read a great romance novel and find myself longing for the first kiss along with the heroine, I get to fall in love all over again.
Do you enjoy the build-up to the first kiss in a romance? Have you ever read a romance where a kiss was the ultimate romantic payoff? And do you require a fully-consummated romance or do you think the heat of the romance depends on the couple and their story? I can’t wait to find out!
Posted by Caren Crane Aug 3 2014, 12:31 am in boyfriend jacket, Caren Crane, fall fashions, fashion, fashion faux pas, jeggings, lace bomber jacket, sequined denim, shimmer jeggings, shiny sweat pants
I recently received a catalog from a favorite women’s retailer. It was their offerings for fall and, I’ll admit, I usually love to see what they are pushing for the upcoming season. I have, over the years, spent thousands of dollars on clothes with this retailer. I have bought many things (including envy-inspiring jackets, Joan!) at this store. I depend on them to have fun casual clothes and also clothes I can wear to work and to writing conferences where I want to present a professional appearance.
Apparently, when the designers were working on the fall collection, they got together and smoked a whole lot of recreational drugs first. Then they took huge bags of clothes gathered from thrift stores all over the world, dating mostly from the 1980’s but also from the early 90’s. They dumped the clothes in a huge pile, got out their Fiskars, and cut pieces and parts from random items, then sewed them together in a hodgepodge manner and broke out the sequins, gemstones, fringe and hot glue guns. The result? A fall collection of fashions so baffling that I am still moaning and shaking my head.
1. A lace bomber jacket – I love a bomber (or aviator) jacket more than anyone. I own a gorgeous brown leather one I bought in 1991 that I still get compliments on every time I wear it. The one in this collection, however, is made of navy blue polyester lace. Yes, lace, with big old air holes across its entire surface. It also has a big silver zipper up the front and wide elastic bands at the cuff and bottom. What is the point of a “jacket” made of lace, first of all, and who would be tempted to wear such a concoction? And where would you wear it?!?
2. Sequined, acid-washed denim vest - I have had denim, lots of denim in my lifetime. I spent all of the 80’s and the early 90’s in acid-washed denim and, I’ll admit, I loved it. I had jeans, jackets, miniskirts. I never owned a denim vest, but if I had found a really cute one, I would have worn it. I have worn embroidered and decorated denim in moderation. I have never worn sequinned denim. Denim = casual. Sequins = formal. What do you get when you combine the two? A hot mess, in my opinion! This vest also has seams that run along the breastline (pretty common for denim), except this one has a zipper on the left seam. Yes, a zipper. Why add a zipper? I have no clue. Denim! Sequins! Useless zipper!
3. Shiny sweat pants - Now, they don’t call these “sweat pants.” They call them a “Soft Matte Shine Pant,” which means nothing. They are baggy, have those awkward front pockets that are located near the side leg seam and have a wide band of elastic gathering the ankles. But they are shiny and a grey/silver color. They are also paired with the lace bomber jacket and a t-shirt awash in silver studs. And strappy silver stilettos. These are sweat pants, friends, but apparently they are dressy sweat pants. Honestly, I have no idea what these would be suitable for. They don’t look great even on the super-skinny model, so I can only imagine how they would look at the grocery store or block party on a normal woman who could lose a few pounds. WHY?
4. Pinstripe boyfriend jacket with bejeweled cuffs - Okay, this is actually a terrific-looking jacket, except that it has three-quarter length sleeves, which I despise. Long, clean lines, sharply cut lapels and it comes at least mid-thigh on a tall woman. But…they took the cuffs on those unfortunate three-quarter length sleeves and they embellished them with “stones.” Yes, those fake gemstones in varying sizes. They are all clear (thank goodness), but still. The entire cuff, all the way around. Plus, this jacket says it is machine washable. Have you ever washed anything bedazzled with fake gemstones? Invariably, a percentage ends up popping off, never to be retrieved or reglued. This jacket needed no embellishment. It would only work on someone tall and thin, in any case, but without the fake gemstones I would have been tempted. Not now. Why embellish something that needs no embellishment? And again, where would you wear it? Too casual for formal, too formal for casual. I am baffled. And guess what? I searched their website for this jacket? Nowhere to be found! (gimme a suspenseful “meow-meow-meow…”)
I won’t even begin a diatribe on shimmer jeggings, although those are in this catalog too. Along with a very loosely-crocheted mid-thigh sweater shawl with feathery bits hanging, inexplicably, from the hem. And black polyester skinny pants with a three-inch zipper at the ankle.
Perhaps they thought to appeal to a younger demographic? Or that women don’t actually need to dress professionally anymore? I have no idea. But whatever they passed out at the committee meeting where this line was approved, I want some. It must be gooood stuff. I can only hope that, for spring, they lay off the peyote and create something I could actually consider purchasing and wearing.
So…have you witnessed any unfortunate fashion trends lately? Been converted to something you thought you despised (like shimmer jeggings)? Been unable to find a favorite you’ve searched for because no one makes it anymore? Please share your fashion adventures! I’ll be over here searching for that pinstripe jacket. Maybe I could pry off all the fake gemstones…
Posted by Caren Crane Jul 27 2014, 12:24 am in alcohol, aspirin, Caren Crane, conference head, desserts, hangover cure, hangovers, laughing, talking, too much party
And if you think this blog post is about hangovers, you are CORRECT! You win a large, very cold glass of water and two regular aspirin, followed by a breakfast of scrambled eggs, biscuits, hashbrowns and bacon (my favorite hangover cure). Actually, I prefer country ham, but you can’t always get that at your local greasy spoon. Oh, and you really need a side of grits to soak up the alcohol in your stomach, if you can get them.
So, why the focus on hangovers today? Well, lest we forget, SOME Banditas (and Buddies) spent last night at RWA’s RITA and Golden Heart Awards ceremony. This is, invariably, followed by far too many parties and drinks at various bars. Lots of talking, laughing, consumption of alcohol and sugary desserts, all following several DAYS of way too much talking, laughing and consumption of alcohol and sugary desserts. It makes for a VERY rude awakening on Sunday, as any of us who have attended an RWA conference can tell you. So, today, let’s dish about the “morning after.” (And yes, that is the GR having a bit of wine at conference in the photo!)
Some of my most memorable morning after memories happened in my first two years of college. I had lots and lots and way too much fun my first two years of college. I drank more in those two years than I probably have in the rest of my life, danced more than I have any time since then and kissed more frogs than any respectable princess would own up to. Man, did I have a great time! (Not that I would recommend that to anyone else, mind you.)
All that to say, I have had my share of hangovers in my lifetime. Nothing ever makes them easier to face. I think, though, if you’ve abused your body with too little sleep and too much booze, your throat hurts from talking/laughing and your feet still ache from dancing in high heels all night, you deserve a really great breakfast. Or whatever else might make you feel vaguely human. Your choice!
So what’s your favorite hangover breakfast? Or are you a black coffee and aspirin devotee? Kale smoothie or other vitamin cure, anyone? Or are you a teetotaler who has never share the agony of the morning after blues? Dish ‘em up, ’cause we’ve got some people lounging around the Lair who could use some advice!
Posted by Caren Crane Jul 6 2014, 2:23 am in Backdraft, Big Trouble In Little China, Captain Ron, Caren Crane, Kurt Russell, movie marathon, movies you love, Overboard, Stargate, Tango & Cash
Friday was Independence Day here in the USA. We generally don’t do much to celebrate besides take in a fireworks display if the kids are around. This year, no kids. This year, I decided to take the day off and indulge myself. I spent the entire day feasting my eyes on my main man. The man my husband rather resembles and after whom I have pined since I was a little girl. That man, as many of you know, is my beloved Kurt Russell.
Kurt isn’t for everyone and neither is his filmography. I readily admit that I completely missed his “Disney kid actor” days. I didn’t see any of his child movies, not even The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. And I don’t recall seeing him on reruns of High Chapparal, Gunsmorke or Gilligan’s Island, either. But I vividly recall the Kurt of the 80s and 90s. THAT was my Kurt. Even into this millennium, Kurt has gotten to me. Here were my retrospective movies, along with some helpful (or harmful) critiques, in the order I watched them:
1. Big Trouble In Little China – Kurt has a very macho, swaggery style when he’s hamming it up. He never played that character bigger or better than as Jack Burton in 1986’s Big Trouble In Little China. This movie has San Francisco’s China Town, lots of martial arts, Chinese black magic, kidnapping, prostitution, human trafficking, and lots of Chinese hells. There are even a couple of very paranormalish monsters, in grand 80s tradition. AND it also stars Kim Cattrall, in what was probably her greatest role before she became Samantha on Sex and the City. Great stuff!
2. The Best of Times - This movie (also 1986) is a big, corny satire with tons of heart. It also stars Robin Williams, who got to do all the things he does best in this film. My darling Kurt plays Reno Hightower, who was a promising local football hero until that fateful game against Bakersfield in 1972. The one Robin Williams lost for the town and the one he is trying to get Reno to play again. Extra fun!
3. Overboard – I’ll admit I am not a huge fan of Kurt’s main squeeze (of the last 30 years), Goldie Hawn. But Goldie was great in this underrated comic gem from 1987. It has a premise that’s hard to defend – man claims rich woman with amnesia is his wife and takes her home to help with his 4 sons and pay off money she owes him – but it’s a really cute, fun movie in any case. Plus, she was an incredibly unlikable horror at the beginning of the movie and a wonderful, loving person at the end. Aw!
4. Captain Ron – Okay, here’s where I got my movies way out of order. I thought this one must have preceded the next two, so I watched it after Overboard, which was chronologically very wrong. This one came out in 1992, but you can only sort-of tell that it’s no longer the 80s, given the hair and fashions of the times. Also stars Martin Short (a hit or miss with me) and Mary Kay Place (whom I adore!). This is one of those madcap caper type movies that is enjoyable once in a blue moon. I’ve had my fill for now.
5. Tango & Cash – This film from 1989 is just something that seriously should never have happened. The plot was ludicrous (two LA police detectives are framed for drug dealing and thrown into prison, from whence they plot an escape) and the dialogue was atrocious. The worst thing was, Sylvester Stallone (Tango) co-starred and was supposed to the the smart one! Which they accomplished by making him wear eyeglasses. What?!? I have no idea who thought that was a great idea. Fun, but only to make fun of. Even seeing their naked butts in the prison shower scene didn’t make this okay.
6. Backdraft – This 1991 film is probably the best movie Kurt has made so far. It is a heart-wrenching tale of love, fire and loss. Kurt is firefighter Stephen “Bull” McCaffrey, whose little brother Brian (William Baldwin) has just joined the force and is assigned to the station where he’s lieutenant. It’s a great movie about brothers, family and the love that so many firefighters and arsonists share for fire. Great stuff.
7. Stargate – This is my personal favorite of Kurt’s films. Well, it’s tied with #1 on my list, but I think it’s my favorite right now. I adore this science fiction/speculative fiction tale of humans re-establishing contact with the aliens who visited us thousands of years ago. When they figure out the goal was to use humans as slaves to mine a valuable mineral on a planet on the far side of the solar system, things get ugly for Kurt’s Colonel Jack O’Neil, who was suicidal before being called back to active duty for this mission due to the accidental shooting death of his young son. It also stars a young and very cute James Spader as the translator for the ancient Greek heiroglyphs. If you don’t recall how cute James was back in the day, you need to watch this movie!
I don’t regret spending the entirety of my July 4th with Kurt. I got to see him fight for truth, justice and the American way, all the way from Chinatown to outer space. And seriously, before he started showing his age (and the ravages of years of smoking) like he does these days, he was the most gorgeous thing ever!
So tell me, who do you love enough that you would spend an entire day watching SEVEN of his/her movies? I’d love to know your favorite of your favorite’s movies AND their biggest dud. TANGO & CASH. I’m just saying…