Jul 30, 2009

Well, that was unexpected. And possibly not appreciated.

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
2002

I actually hadn't planned on viewing this movie (for the second time) until I was finished with my Supernatural marathon. However, because Netflix seemed to pick up on how much I like chronological order, I was given Spirit instead of Supernatural, Season 2, Disc 6, which is listed as "short wait." Damn you, Netflix. How dare you anticipate my needs!

Well, I have remedied this in my own way. However, I still had this stupid Spirit movie to deal with, and I had to go watch it again.

I honestly can't remember when I first saw this. Or with whom. Or where. Or when. This time, I made it through about forty-five minutes before deciding that the fast forward button was my friend (the last time I remembered I could fast forward through things that bored and/or horrified me was when I had to watch Caligula for academic purposes...and no, I'm not really comparing Spirit to Caligula because that would be insanely inappropriate). Because, really, who needs animated movies where the main animal characters can't speak proper English. Hell, if the Lakotas can speak perfect English, and Spirit manages it in voice over, the horses can figure it out also.

Obviously, I did forget that the horses do not actually speak in this movie. I kept expecting it to happen, because there are several instances where it totally would have helped. Like...when Spirit magically shouldered Rain onto his shoulders in the rapids. Or any time before or after that, really. Any time.

So, here are my points, as recorded in my notes when I wasn't busy fast forwarding:

  • Clouds shaped like horses. Subtle!
  • Bryan Adams. When I think of Bryan Adams, I think of Kevin Costner. It's unfortunate for Bryan Adams, but it's just a stigma that will never wash clean. Poor career move, Bryan Adams.
  • I could be really anal about the weirdness that is Spirit's herd, but part of me really doesn't care. I could be annoyed that he appears to be born in the spring, only for it to magically become winter two seconds later. Then there is this sticky "Like my father before me..." narration that kicks in after minutes and minutes of Spirit never interacting with his father whatsoever to the point where I am convinced his dad died like months before he was born. And I could also point out that colts don't inherit herds from their sires...because that just isn't how it works. HOWEVER, I don't care. So.
  • Spirit's herd snuggles as a group. It takes a village, people. It takes a village.
  • That mare he shares grass with? She so wants him.
  • The eyebrows!
  • There is a lot of The Last Unicorn in this movie. Not to mention Lady and the Tramp and The Last of the Mohicans.
  • I love random explosions. I'm not sure how a locomotive rolling down a hill into a camp could cause a firestorm of that magnitude, but whatever. I'll roll with it.
  • And then they jump the Grand Canyon! And it is inspirational!
  • The head nod of understanding between the colonel and Spirit was just a tad too much.
  • Well, okay, the manly hug between Spirit and Little Creek surpassed the nod of understanding. I guess all of this makes sense because Spirit is a stallion, who is raging with testosterone, the main source behind nods of understanding and manly hugs? Maybe?

This is a good movie for kids, surely. For anyone who realizes horses don't have eyebrows, this will get tired quickly.

Jul 29, 2009

Wildfire: I cannot quit you, show.

Wildfire
4.1: The More Things Change (1)

Season four of Wildfire is not out on DVD yet, and considering season three only came out recently I'm betting this season isn't going to find its way into stores until next year. Because there are no season four DVDs, there is no season four cover art. At least, there isn't any in English. So I wandered my way to imdb.com and pulled the German cover art that seems to translate like this:

Staffel Vier: Loyalität, Vertrauen, Freundschaft
Season Four: Loyalty, Trust, Friendship

We've come a long way from strangers, seductions and secrets you guys. What is this trust and friendship concept? Is season four going to be boring? Of course, the American version will be something like "Assurance, Allegiance, Accord" because we here in America like alliteration! Either way, these synonyms lack the melodrama I've come to expect.

The Good:

+ This episode picks up "one hour earlier" and thus we really begin season four in season three, with everyone getting in cars and driving like maniacs. Brad and Mike are off to find Ashleigh before she wanders into hitchhiking trouble, and Dani has had it with Townsend Acres and gets the hell out of dodge. Last season ends with Ashleigh walking up to a car, leaning down, and saying into an open window, "What are you doing here?" I'm sure that pissed off fans everywhere. Turns out, the anonymous is Dani, who then freaks once Ashleigh's in the car and accidentally drives off the road. They take a moment to hug, because I guess near death experiences can always be trusted to wordlessly bury the hatchet in any poisoned relationship. (+1 for Dani accidentally finding Ashleigh, for Mike getting sidetracked by cows, and for Brad essentially saying "fuck it" and opting to help the blonde with the car trouble--aka LAVINIA--instead.)

+ Six months later! And it is still fall? COME ON, SHOW. Okay, never mind. I am over it. Mike and Brad finally have a good relationship again, because Ashleigh is finally gone and refusing to contact anyone. It occurs to me that Mike and Brad do have a pretty awesome friendship. It's too bad Ashleigh's going to have to eventually come back to screw everyone up again. Damn her. (+2)

+ Mike is wearing a cowboy hat. Because Whitebrook is a dude ranch now. I cannot wait to see how he screws this up. (+1)

+ Dani is opening an equine clinic in an attempt to get her racing license back sooner rather than later. Dani and Clay have a non-bonding moment that is really a bonding moment that is going to get some points from me because I like it when they have father/daughter interaction. (+3)

+ Brad is an awesome businessman. I get all giddy about this for some reason. (+1)

+ Townsend family bonding! Clay discusses Brad's upcoming marriage proposal to Lavinia, and Clay takes him to the family safe and pulls out the heirloom wedding ring he just happens to have. I can so see this actually happening in Thoroughbred. (+5)

+ Mike has to go be relentless in this episode. He is remarkably persistent. It irks me. Although I do like Ashleigh's steadfast refusal to stop punishing herself, refusal to come back with him, refusal to be even slightly affectionate toward him, and reaction when he tells her Brad is in love. Oh, show. You are such a crack!Thoroughbred fanfic. (+4)

+ Jean makes good points about retiring Wonder, who is predictably sucking without Ashleigh being around. The horse had a good career. Let's retire her and move on. Retirement is not synonymous with slaughter, you know. (+2)

+ Clay hires a videographer for the moment when Brad proposes to Lavinia at their giant formal party thing. Verbatim from my notes: "He is such a mom." Because he is. It's why I love him so much. (+10)

+ And of course the first thing Ashleigh does upon coming back to California is see Wonder, who is at Townsend Acres. And of course the first person to discover her is Brad, who is about to propose to Lavinia. Of course. I am tempted to give the show a point for this. (+1)

The Good: 30

The Bad

- Ashleigh is in Colorado participating in more illegal cross country races? What the hell? (-1)

- A harmonica is involved in this episode. (-1) What's more, it is used in the music during every dude ranch!Whitebrook scene. (-2)

- The interview process for Dani's vet is...awful. In a word. Seriously, I'm pretty sure she has no clue what she's doing, and I'm pretty sure badgering her is not going to make her like you, Noah. (-1)

- Speaking of Noah, he is sort of charismatic in a way that I like. And yet I seriously do not like him at all. I have a feeling it has something to do with his slick talker attitude that appears to have almost no substance behind it. I'm getting that brilliant, but crazy feel from him that makes me wary for Dani's sake. (-3)

The Bad: 8

30 - 8 = 22

The More Things Change (1): 22

Hey, look, I can start making season comparisons now! Slightly better beginning than last year, but I don't know if that's saying anything. I did like this episode, mainly because the show is hitting all my buttons concerning a less holier than thou Ashleigh who's going to have to do some work with everyone (okay, not with Mike because he is irrationally in love with her) to claw her way back to some steady ground. It is such crack!Thoroughbred fanfic at this point.

Wildfire: Today we bring this freak show to an end.

Wildfire
3.13: So Long Pardner

The Good:

+ Hey, look! Jean/Ian interaction that seems to indicate actual attraction! Well, at least they're planting the seed now instead of springing it on us halfway through season four. (+1)

+ Awesomely enough, Mike goes and buys a horse during his family farm's financial crisis. Even more awesomely, Jean completely flips out and Mike doesn't get it at all. Mike, your denseness is truly amazing. (+1)

+ Initially, I thought this match race would occur at the actual racetrack Omar owns and runs pretty much out of the blue. How naive of me! Naturally it wouldn't be at the racetrack. It would be a ten mile cross country adventure over rocky terrain "with no rules" and a two million dollar winner takes all purse at stake. This actually doesn't shock me that much. What does shock me is Mike's hesitancy about it, his ultimate refusal to go along with it, and my being in complete agreement. This feels wrong. So, so wrong. (+4)

+ Townsend family bonding! Clay and Dani have a moment about how she is substituting grief and anger. Dani looks like she wants to throw something at him and hug him at the same time. Clay is all hardcore awesome with the parenting skills. This is why I love the Townsends, you guys. (+5)

+ At the match race event, of course Omar brings a silver case filled with cash with him. Of course he does. (+2)

+ When Ashleigh rides up to Jean after the match race and hands her the case, Jean tosses the money in the dirt. This receives five points despite being totally predictable (+5). It's the look on Ashleigh's face that I will always cherish. (+10)

+ Even better, Ian decides to take Wonder to Townsend Acres because being far from Ashleigh and Whitebrook Farm is obviously in the best interest of her welfare. (+10)

+ California Racing Board rolls up and charges Whitebrook with a crime. Ah, this is like major stress relief after being so frustrated with these people for so long. (+5)

+ Ashleigh takes the fall for Whitebrook, as well she should because she kind of, you know, took the horse without telling anyone and raced the horse illegally and it is totally her fault and she deserves her suspension. I am thrilled to bits! To bits, I say! (+10)

+ Jean kicks Ashleigh off the farm. Ashleigh is doomed to hitchhike the California highway system for the remainder of the episode. (+3)

The Good: 56

The Bad:

- The episode starts out with Mike and Ashleigh in bed, which I found squicky. (-5)

- THE MATCH RACE, OMG. Yes, this is Wildfire. I am surprised this didn't involve riding through hoops of fire. But, come on. Really? Really? On top of which, there is no reason for Dani to really be interested in running Townsend Prince in this thing. They try to set this up as if she has to so Omar will fund her "special projects," of which we know nothing other than one of them is very probably a hotel, to which I have to say when the fuck has she ever been interested in anything other than Townsend Acres? The race itself never should have gotten past the ridiculous concept stage, and there was a lot of stretching to make it work. (-10)

- Want to keep your failing ranch so your miserable son can suck harder at management? Sell some worthless land! At least, this is Mike's idea. What is 25 acres of rocky, forested land they can't use? Shockingly, I'm kind of again on Mike's side here. Sell the damn land. It's kind of better than selling all your horses, Jean. I'm going to have to subtract points because I'm tired of agreeing with Mike in this episode. (-3)

- Oh, good. Ashleigh's reason to go with the match race is because she is tired of Jean and Mike fighting because it reminds her of her mother. This is a really weird line of thought. I'm going to subtract a point because I'm getting tired of her constantly drawing parallels. I understand that you're traumatized, Ashleigh. It's time to get over it. (-1)

- "A mile and a quarter really isn't her best distance." I admit that I laughed loudly at this. (-1)

- So, Ashleigh wants to risk Wonder's life on this race why? Dani and Mike both back out of the race, leaving Brad to surreptitiously sneak in Townsend Prince because he has issues and Ashleigh to sneak Wonder in because she also has issues. And she is willing to whore herself and her horse out at various stages in this series, so it sort of makes sense to a certain degree. Still, it seems outside of her character to totally disregard the danger to the horse she claims to put before everything as she hides behind her "we can do anything" speech. Her character really took a nosedive this year. No wonder she wound up with Mike. Ugh. (-10)

- Dani is forced to take the fall for Brad's decision to run Townsend Prince in this stupid race, and her license is revoked, and Brad is forced to take her place in the farm. Something I'm not all too sure he even wanted in the first place. His motivation to go ahead with this match race is not so clean cut. Mainly, it seems like he does it because he wants to beat Ashleigh and gain more responsibility with the farm...somehow. I'm not sure how that was supposed to work. (-1)

- Jean sells the horses at the very end of the episode and Mike's first response to his mother, as she sits there broken and crying, is: "You sold the horses without asking me?" To which she should have responded, "Oh, fuck you." But she doesn't say that, because he is her son and she is required to love him. That poor, poor woman. (-5)

The Bad: 36

56 - 36 = 20

1. Fairy Tale Endings: 16
2. The Feud: 4
3. Moving On: 10
4. Close to Home: 42
5. Love vs. Work: 20
6. Kiss Kiss: 16
7. Push Me/Pull You: -20
8. The Goodbye: -3
9. Heartless: 40
10. Diplomacy: 29
11. You Can't Count on Me: 21
12. Picking Sides: 0
13. So Long Pardner: 20
Total: 195

I don't know what that number signifies! Oh well.

My final thoughts on this season seem to revolve around Ashleigh's total destruction. I believe this was intentional, given Ian telling her in this episode that she's basically no better than the convict everyone else thought she was. Normally, I have no problems with dragging Ashleigh's character down to a manageable level. I actually quite like the idea of someone knocking her over and then kicking her while she's down (particularly in Thoroughbred fandom, which anyone who knows me can probably testify to). I love it when she's down. Love, love, love! The thing is, this show goes about it the wrong way. Sure, she does everything in the name of saving her adoptive family and Whitebrook, and that's admirable, but she's doing it in a way that makes her character unsympathetic. I wanted to see her destroyed at the end of this season. And...the show came through on that end. Thank you, show! I guess you got what you were aiming for? Well, whatever.

Oh, here's a question for you jumping fanatics out there. Is it possible to cut three strides before an oxer? Please let me know, because I pondered this for a while after Samantha said it with enough zeal to make it sound suspiciously impossible.

Jul 28, 2009

Wildfire: I choose Brad, okay?

Wildfire
3.12: Picking Sides

So I wound up taking a break for a good portion of this month. I don't know how that happened, but rest assured I am back with reviews. I'm finishing off season three of Wildfire, I've got a Canterwood Crest book in the wings, some more Thoroughbred, and Riders. Because, well, it had to happen sometime.

Before I get into the point system for this episode, I should say that this is the first time the Kentucky Derby is mentioned. Because in Wildfire, the Kentucky Derby happens in the fall and apparently any horse can run in it, regardless of age. However, that's not to say they get every possible detail wrong. It actually gets one right. However, just know in advance that this episode is all about trying to get to the Kentucky Derby...all of a sudden.

The Good:

+ The one detail they get right about the Kentucky Derby deserves five points (+5). Jean indicates that only twenty horses can get in, and this is based on a fairly basic system of graded earnings.

+ You know, Dani has very good points about how much Ashleigh sucks. And Brad has very good points on how both Ashleigh and Mike suck. I have listened to their arguments in the face of Ashleigh's stunned, blank stare, and I have really picked my side. (+2)

+ Brad is so much better at flirting than Mike, but this doesn't surprise me. The second Mike stops grabbing Ashleigh's face and saying "Om" is the moment I might give him a point because it's one less thing about him that pisses me off. (+1)

+ Dani's white dress gets a point, just because. (+1)

+ Townsend Prince wins the fictionalized Santa Anita Derby and ruins Wonder's chance at the Derby. Sweet vindication. (+1)

+ Wonder is interfered with in the stretch, and finishes third. After an inquiry, it's determined she was bumped and Mike immediately responds with, "Yes, we won!" and the steward gives him a look that screams "um, no?" and I laughed. Oh, Mike. You dope. Wonder is placed second. The Whitebrook crew cries perfect, bitter tears of sorrow. (+4)

+ Brad kisses Samantha, and I am only inclined to give this points because it will make Ashleigh and Mike stare at them uncomfortably. (+3)

The Good: 17

The Bad:

- I appreciate the one detail about the Derby they get right, yes. However, I am not liking the fact that Jean has to explain to Ashleigh what graded earnings means, nor am I too wild on her explanation that "every race is assigned a grade" because that really isn't the case. Also, why doesn't Ashleigh understand what graded races are when she "wins big races?" (-2)

- "Maybe red silks bother him?" Because changing your silks in accordance to what bothers your main competition is so easy! Well, on this show it's like every race. I am sort of stunned that they never do pick up on the fact that you can't just randomly pick up whatever silks you feel like before a race. I totally get that it's a cost saving measure. But you don't need to embrace it so obviously. (-1)

- It's fall again. No, wait, it's summer! No, still fall. Yup, fall. Damn you, Wildfire. (-1)

- Ashleigh spends most of this episode desperately trying to fashion a relationship for Mike and Brad that resembles their relationship pre-her. Much to her astonishment, this is difficult. Her irritating need to make this happen makes me dislike her more, if that is at all possible. (-4)

- Mike trots out the "don't bring him up again" ultimatum to Ashleigh regarding Junior. This makes me want to punch him in the mouth. (-5)

- The reasons behind the Ash/Brad break up were what again? Perhaps the fact that the show can't figure out why they broke up in the first place is their sticking point when they're trying to convince me Ash/Mike "just happened" and it wasn't all about Ashleigh picking between them. Boo, show. (-3)

- You guys, who likes illegal match races? I do! I do! Yeah, this sounds like it's going to work out phenomenally. (-1)

The Bad: 17

17 - 17 = 0 Ha! This makes so much sense to me.

1. Fairy Tale Endings: 16
2. The Feud: 4
3. Moving On: 10
4. Close to Home: 42
5. Love vs. Work: 20
6. Kiss Kiss: 16
7. Push Me/Pull You: -20
8. The Goodbye: -3
9. Heartless: 40
10. Diplomacy: 29
11. You Can't Count on Me: 21
12: Picking Sides: 0

So, neither Townsend Prince or Wonder are headed to the Kentucky Derby. I find this unfortunate, despite the fact that I'm pretty sure the Derby isn't a logical race for this show. Instead we're getting a match race, which makes little sense any way you look at it. We'll get to that next time.

Jul 22, 2009

New series?

Because I have OCD (somewhat) I was checking out amazon.com. I search Children's Books/ Animals/ Horses about once a month to see what's coming out. This month I saw two books called "Daring to Dream" and "Playing For Keeps," both part of the Wildwood Stables series by Suzanne Weyn. There isn't any info, but for anyone out there who is also OCD, you might like to bookmark it so you can check back later. Both are due to release on March 1, 2010.

http://www.amazon.com/Daring-Dream-Wildwood-Stables-Suzanne/dp/0545149797/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1248264872&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Playing-Keeps-Wildwood-Stables-Suzanne/dp/0545149800/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1248264872&sr=1-2

Edit to add amazon synopsis:

Daring to Dream
Taylor Henry loves horses, but her single mom can't afford riding lessons, much less a horse. So when she discovers an abandoned gelding and pony, Taylor is happy just to be around them.
But the rescued animals have nowhere to go, and Taylor is running out of time to find them a good home. Could the empty old barn on Wildwood Lane be the answer? And could Taylor's wildest dream -- of a horse to call her own -- finally be coming true?


Playing For Keeps
Taylor Henry thinks Wildwood Stables is perfect -- even if it needs repair and a lot more money, it's become a home to her and her new horse, Prince Albert. And as soon as Taylor trains Prince Albert to give lessons, Wildwood will be in business!
But the gelding refuses to let anyone ride him except Taylor. Can she convince Prince Albert to earn his keep? Or will Taylor need the help of her worst enemy to save her beloved new home?

Wow, just wow.

Jul 11, 2009

Well, there went my last brain cell. I need another vacation.


In & Out
Year One in the Jumping for Gold Series
by Barbara Moss
2005

Cover:
I thought very little of the cover until I noticed that the rider had a braid going down his back, and then I couldn't help the snickering that followed. I could explain myself now, but I think my thoughts on this will become clear in the review.

Summary:
In & Out is a horse tale like no other. A sprawling narrative filled with romance, intrigue, and excitement, it also provides a clear-eyed and wholly realistic view of the equestrian world, offering the kind of authentic details about horses, riding techniques, and business practices that only an insider could provide. At the center of the story stands Jericho Brandeis, an ambitious yet untamed man who seeks glory on his own terms. An intriguing cast of characters surrounds him, including the wealthy patron Bob Marx, the only man who can help Jericho realize his dreams, Marx's sexy young wife, Darien, whose illicit love could become Jericho's downfall, U.S. Chef d'Equip Chuck Frankel, the closest thing to a father figure Jericho has ever known, hunk bartender Trevor Braeden, Jericho's friend and rival, and the indomitable stallion Chasseur de Lion, an alluring yet potentially fatal challenge to Jericho's considerable horsemanship. Jericho must maneuver his way through a hazardous maze of violence, corruption, and seduction if he is to fulfill his aspirations at the World Equestrian Games. The adventures of Jericho Brandeis, full of passion, promise, and turmoil, will thrill all lovers of horses and of adventure and romance.

The In-Depth Analysis:
Has anyone ever watched those Dos Equis commercials featuring The Most Interesting Man in the World? If not, go and watch. I find that watching all of them will help you better prepare yourself for what you're about to go through, because Jericho Brandeis is The Most Interesting Man in the World. He can take five foot jumps without the aid of a horse, and still win. He can use spangled elastics and ribbons in his flowing hair, and still be a turn on to all women everywhere. He is...Jericho Brandeis, the Most Interesting Man in Wellington, Florida. And possibly the whole of New York. In a really slutty, creepy way.

Truth be told, I don't even know where to begin. This book is 618 pages long, a fact I find endlessly entertaining. From what I gather, this is Barbara Moss's first book. A 618 page debut. Also, this is the first in a series. If the trends I've seen from just about every author penning sprawling epics, series like these just get longer. I can only imagine that the second installment is sitting at maybe 1,300 pages right now. And that frightens me. Truly. Last, but certainly not least, the way this book was written is full of fragments, comma splices, ellipses, weirdly redundant one to two word sentences like "Told him." which confuses me because obviously someone is telling someone something when there is dialogue. Basically, it's bad grammar ahoy. The fact that most of the description is hacked down to appear macho and irritatingly confident means that if she'd tried to do something that didn't grate on my nerves this book would have been twice as long and a true disaster.

However, typos and relative lack of any evidence that this tome was edited by anyone at all aside, let's talk about Jericho...the most interesting man in Wellington, Florida. Jericho is a pain in the ass. He's actually someone I would like to run over with my car. Jericho is basically machismo defined, and as the story lumbers along you are hit in the face repeatedly with his virile, chauvinistic self. Ultimately, it's so flagrant it's hilarious. Jericho is gorgeous. He has long hair, which is sexy according to most romance covers. He has an attitude problem. He is animalistic to the point of glorification, but mainly all I wanted was someone to show him how to use a condom appropriately, because clearly safe sex is either too complicated for him to grasp or is not manly enough and therefore a threat to his virility. He does three things: ride horses well, screw around in a manner the author seems to think is well, and gets into arguments that tend to result in his opponents feeling his wrath as he walks off mostly unscathed. He's that sort of guy. Lovable, right?

Well, everyone wants to love him. In varying ways, I guess. First up is Cin, who comes on to him within the first ten pages and is rebuffed because she is old and married. Second is Brae, the Starbucks barista that Jericho randomly invites to be his new roommate. Brae spends most of his time reassuring himself that he is not gay, and decides that the best way to prove this is to take pictures of Jericho having sex with Ailynn (number three on the loving Jericho list) while he is also in the room, also naked. Oh, I'm sorry. NUDE. Whatever. That's at the 30 page mark. Are you not impressed? Now, in my opinion, this scenario is rife with homoeroticism. In the opinion of this book, it is RAGING PROOF that Brae and Jericho both are straight. How, I don't know. I guess just having a vagina there is all it takes. Moving on.

So, shit happens. I am not going to deny that Barbara Moss seems to know what she's talking about in all of these riding scenes. She's certainly knowledgeable, but she gets bogged down in the details. Most of this book is just one huge inability to decipher a storyline, actually. It reads like it's trying to only subject you to eight months in the life of a jackass, not craft a story. That's one of the biggest things that bothered me about it. Anyway, turns out Ailynn is also married. That slut! Well, clearly the answer is to have sex with Darien, another married woman, (number four on the list of Jericho's loves) while breaking and entering. Hell, why not?

Fifth love is U.S. Chef d'Equip Chuck Frankel, father figure of Jericho's fatherless life, who starts to coach him. Sixth love is Bee-Bee, who I sort of liked before she became enamored with Jericho and immediately had to become "timid" in the face of his "animalistic" nature or what all. And then there is jumping and color commentary and at one point Jericho finds out who his mommy is and Darien's husband has an affair with Ailynn, which develops into the weirdest conversation ever that I have got to stop and talk about before I end this review because THIS is how awful this book is toward women as a whole.

Okay. Darien and Ailynn are off the pill because Marx, Darien's husband, had a vasectomy. Marx feels it is necessary to tell Jericho that if either of them winds up pregnant, he will obviously know who the father is because I suppose Jericho's inability to comprehend condoms is common knowledge. If this should happen, he will fly them off to the nearest clinic and will have the child aborted. Just. Like. That. And Jericho has a fit about this for All. The. Wrong. Reasons. Well, the main reason being that this hypothetical child is His.

So, yeah. Wrap your head around that nugget of awfulness.

And then, naturally, Darien gets pregnant. You'd think this abortion conversation would have been all anyone would need to run to the supermarket and buy out all of their condoms, but because Jericho has this unyielding desire to make any given woman "his" by ejaculating in them (I am not kidding...that one was on page 500 something) this clearly isn't the case. And then Marx forces the abortion. And then he tries to idly chat Bee-Bee into sex, which I'm shocked she managed to avoid because after one sexual encounter with Jericho all women seem to fall limp or suddenly lack brain cells.

Okay, I can't talk about this anymore. Basically: glorification of all that is macho and then some. It was like Roadhouse for the horsey set. If you can imagine Roadhouse as a 618 page novel, I'm sure you're mortified. I know I am.

Jul 9, 2009

Wildfire: I have a feeling I'm being way too lenient.

Wildfire
3.11: You Can't Count on Me

The Good:

+ Rory. I've got to say, I liked him. (+4)

+ Brad's busy with devious plotting in this episode. Since Townsend Prince has moved back to Townsend Acres, and Ashleigh is still riding him, Brad is sick of two things: 1) her being with Mike and 2) basically having to deal with her all the time. So what does he do? He buys Townsend Prince "for his dad" and then plans to send Prince and Ashleigh to Keeneland. When Ian points out that this makes no sense for the horse, Brad just decides to fire Ashleigh. This whole sequence earns ten points. (+10)

+ One of the reasons I liked Rory is his mercilessness with pointing things out to Ashleigh and making her stare them right in the face. For instance, it takes him about two days to make the grand conclusion that Ashleigh refuses to settle anything between herself and him, their father, and Brad. She just lets the problems hang there, making everything miserable, and then she gets defensive and shuts off. No wonder Dani hates her. (+5)

+ I love it when Brad verbally smacks Mike. Notice this brilliant display after Mike has the gall to get upset with him for firing Ashleigh: "I didn't need to give Ashleigh a job to get her to go out with me. That's what you did." (+5) Mike's flustered stare and complete inability to say anything in response to Brad yet again being SO RIGHT: 3 points (+3). Dani's grin of total satisfaction: one point (+1).

+ Another reason I like Rory: he stepped in and within a week completely shook up Ashleigh's total notion of the Reeses being her family. Because I think he's basically right, and I am really looking forward to this supposed security being swiped out from under her. Really looking forward to it. (+3)

The Good: 31

The Bad:

- Dani's giving Brad such shit about Ashleigh, and I'm a little annoyed that her character has so quickly reverted back to pre-RJ days. I get that she hates Ashleigh, and is probably acting like this because she doesn't like seeing how much Ashleigh means to him, but she could ease off a bit. (-2)

- I cannot tell you how much Mike's flirting skills make me want to throw up a little in my mouth. (-2)

- Ashleigh tells Mike that Rory wants her to see their dad, whom she is dead set against seeing. Mike tries to sympathize and mentions how he felt about his dad in an attempt to identify with her, and she immediately cuts him off by insisting it's not the same because he "didn't have to take care of" his mom. No one understands Ashleigh's pain! Do not try! (-4)

- "She's the best rider out there." How is it even possible that Ashleigh is the best rider in...California? How? (-1)

- Stupid fall shots of Whitebrook in the same episode with summer shots. I notice the color of leaves, show. Shoddy. (-1)

- Rory "borrowed" Brad's Porsche for an impromptu street race? And then he immediately returned it in perfect condition after winning said impromptu street race? I can't decide whether or not to deduct points. I guess I'll just make a note of my confusion on this scene and leave it there.

The Bad: 10

31 - 10 = 21

1. Fairy Tale Endings: 16
2. The Feud: 4
3. Moving On: 10
4. Close to Home: 42
5. Love vs. Work: 20
6. Kiss Kiss: 16
7. Push Me/Pull You: -20
8. The Goodbye: -3
9. Heartless: 40
10. Diplomacy: 29
11. You Can't Count on Me: 21

I admit to finding this episode boring. And I cannot wait for Ashleigh and Mike to break up, mainly because I dislike watching them kiss. They just...kiss weird. I cannot explain it. I don't want to attempt to try. I just want it to end, preferably now.

Jul 6, 2009

Wildfire: As it turns out, I can like this show after RJ. Who knew?

Wildfire
3.10: Diplomacy

I have to say that I unexpectedly liked the first post-RJ episode of season three. Let's see how this broke down, shall we?

The Good:

+ Dani trying to get over RJ and failing so miserably, allowing room for Brad comfort as she says: "The smell of hay is really sad." Oh, sweetie. (+5)

+ There is lots of awesome Townsend family bonding going on here, which we all know by now that I love and want to see more of. They are, quite simply, so awesome in this one. Plus, I like to see Brad get more involved in Townsend Acres, because it is so Thoroughbred series (albeit in a Brad and Parker sort of way, but I don't care). (+5)

+ Thank you, Brad. You are officially the only person in this show that forces a change. And demanding that Ashleigh and Mike admit to their relationship, and watching the inevitable awkwardness, is awesome. (+3)

+ Clay and Dani. Oh, sweetie. (+4)

+ Incompetence! I knew Mike wasn't going to handle that whole responsibility thing well. (+2)

+ Wow, Brad knows his sister way better than I know my own. I don't think I could definitively pinpoint her favorite pizza, candy, and movie. Does this make me a bad sister, or does this make Brad all the more awesome as a human being and brother? (+3)

+ Yes, Dani. Yell at Ashleigh more, because I just like to see her punished for this asinine Mike decision. (+1)

+ Brad is, not unusually, SO RIGHT when he tells Mike it isn't okay at all for him to be with Ashleigh. Just, you know, in a fundamental way. (+2)

+ Ten points for karma! Ashleigh gets punched in the eye, Dani points out that Ashleigh punched her in the eye. What goes around, comes around. (+10)

+ Okay, a little bit of me loved that Brad was rooting against Ashleigh. (+1) I couldn't help it.

+ That whole Brad scene with him freaking out at his car? And Dani calming him down? And the crying? I sort of love this episode. (+4)

+ Awesomely, Whitebrook's big client picks up and leaves for Townsend Acres. Main reason: Mike is not as good a manager as Ashleigh is a rider. Which is SO RIGHT. (+5)

+ Clay gives Brad a Porsche. Did I mention how awesome the Townsends were in this episode? (+2)

The Good: 47

The Bad:

- After Brad finds out about Ashleigh/Mike, Ashleigh mutters, "That was brutal." It made me hate her just a little bit more. (-3)

- Who just orders soda at a bar? Not just a soda, but specifically "a soda" as if that makes sense? (-1)

- Oh, Jean. Don't give me that "you're counting on a horse race to solve our problems?" criticism, because if memory serves just about everyone has counted on this as a plausible solution to all problems, including you. (-4)

- So, yeah, Brad accidentally punches Ashleigh when he means to punch Mike. I don't like this. Despite the fact that I think someone needs to smack sense into Ashleigh, I don't ever mean that this needs to be done in a physical way. You sort of suck, show. (-5)

- Flagrant Mike/Ashleigh kissing in front of Brad means I must deduct another five points. Mainly because I know Mike/Ashleigh is a diversion and also because, honestly, the guy doesn't need your stupid, happy, shiny wonderfulness right now. (-5)

The Bad: 18

47 - 18 = 29

1. Fairy Tale Endings: 16
2. The Feud: 4
3. Moving On: 10
4. Close to Home: 42
5. Love vs. Work: 20
6. Kiss Kiss: 16
7. Push Me/Pull You: -20
8. The Goodbye: -3
9. Heartless: 40
10. Diplomacy: 29

Also, I'll point out two things. First, I think Clay and Jean are awesome together and totally need to get married. I realize that's not going to happen, but considering Ian spent about two seconds looking at Jean longer than he should have that one time, I don't see any basis for a relationship there at all. Clay and Jean are way better. This is my opinion, and I'm sticking to it. Second, I kind of like Mike when he's with Ashleigh. As in, he doesn't piss me off as much. Granted, now Ashleigh is annoying the ever living crap out of me, but Mike is weirdly on top of everything whenever he's not busy being incompetent in a general way. However, Mike/Ashleigh is still unnatural and awful and needs to end quickly. Because...ew.

Pine Hollow: And then I said "blah" and went to post a review.

Changing Leads
Pine Hollow #4

New friendships vs. old

Stevie Lake can't get Scott Forester to forgive her for the car accident that injured his sister. And now Scott and Stevie's boyfriend, Phil, have started hanging out. Doesn't Phil realize how Scott's attitude hurts her? But Phil has problems of his own. His best friend, A.J., is acting weird and won't tell anyone what's going on. Phil's getting really worried.

Lisa Atwood is adjusting to life back home after her summer in California, but she feels like an outsider--even among her best friends. Will she have to accept the change?

Carole Hanson is facing changes, too. New challenges at work mean new responsibilities--and that threatens her relationship with one of her best friends. Should Carole reexamine where her loyalties lie?

Summer may be over, but things are really heating up.


Oddly enough, I have almost nothing to say about this book. It doesn't spark any need to ruthlessly mock it, but then it didn't hold my interest enough for me to care about it either. It simply is the fourth book in the Pine Hollow series, and that summary is pretty much all you need to know.

I'll attempt to say something anyway, in the form of a numbered list. What fun!

  1. Things happened. That's right! Changing Leads stirs up some issues, of which it resolves none. I don't know about anyone else, but one issue created and resolved in this book would have been nice. Instead it resolves Stevie's Scott issues, which the series kicks around for nearly four books. But you know how that's going to end. This book brings up the following: Carole has been ordered to keep Lisa away from Prancer, the horse Lisa loves, for seemingly no reason that irks me to no end; A.J. breaks up with his girlfriend, also for seemingly no reason, and suddenly starts to act abnormal; Samson is back, and boy is Carole freakishly excited about it, enough to strain her already strained relationship with Ben, whom we care about for, again, seemingly no reason. Hurrah. Issues.
  2. I really liked Phil in this episode. He was adorable, which is really not normal for this series. Most of the boys in Pine Hollow are the epitome of awful, so to see one good one roaming around is pretty damn special.
  3. Speaking of boys, Alex didn't totally offend me. He was only slightly offensive this time around, but I'm sure he'll roar back soon as the jackass I know he is.
  4. Scott and Stevie collectively get over it in the school parking lot. Stevie yells, Scott employs sarcasm as a defense before breaking down into tears, and then they have a moment that would only happen in a psychologist's office.
  5. Lisa spends a lot of time being jealous of Callie. Lisa, the girl just suffered a brain injury. You can stop being so self-absorbed any time now.

And that's it. I'm going to go read In & Out by Barbara Moss now. It looks like an epic I could knock someone out with, so I'm sure there will be several breaks for whatever I feel like posting about at the moment. Like, say, finishing off season three of Wildfire. That really needs to happen.

Jul 3, 2009

Fallen Star: a study in repetition.

Fallen Star
Thoroughbred #43
by Mary Newhall Anderson


I don't mind this cover, even though I will never be a fan of this style, whatever you want to call it.
Has Star run his last race?

Christina Reese and Wonder's Star are about to race at Belmont, one of the most prestigious tracks in the country. Christina is confident that she and Star are going to blow all the New York horses away. But when the gates fly open at the start of the race, Star feels sluggish--something is wrong!

Christina takes Star home to Whitebrook, hoping that he'll recover in time for their next race. But Star's condition only gets worse. Faced with the possibility that Star may never race again--he may not even live--Christina doesn't find winning so important anymore. Will Christina give up her racing career to save the horse she loves?

Wow, this synopsis makes me want to tear out my hair for so many reasons. It's like Mary wrote it herself, and no offense to Mary or anything, but this isn't her best showing. In fact, of all the books I've read of hers, Fallen Star might be the worst in the writing department. (Derby Fever continues to hold on as the worst, period.) It's not that I don't appreciate Mary's enthusiasm, and her need to champion the wishes of the readers, but it's just that I maintain that the plotlines Mary wound up having a hand in creating were WEIRD and poorly developed, but then that's probably an understatement.

Anyway, the synopsis seems to think that a big plot point of this book was Christina deciding to scrap her racing career in favor of nursing her sick horse back to health. This isn't exactly what I'd call a Major Issue. In fact, I'd probably call it a non issue. We all know Christina's career is going to be just fine. I mean, she'd have to ride in a race drunk before she'd ruin her career. Moving on.

This book is the beginning of The Great Backstory You Maybe Wanted To Know But Wound Up Disliking And Wishing It Never Existed. Also known as Mary's delightful romp through Thoroughbred history, recreating things as she goes. In short, Cindy is back. Notice how she's not mentioned at all in the synopsis. Yeah, I liked that too. Anyway, we start this book at Belmont Park, because that is where Brad told Ashleigh to take Star, because as we have seen in the New Generation, Ashleigh is, for whatever reason, completely clueless. It's these little things about the New Gen that I love, I admit. Anyway, Christina goes rushing off to meet Star and frolics around with Gratis before Cindy's all, okay crazy lady, why don't you do some work and check in with Vince? And Christina is all with the "You are dragging my mood down! Why can't you see that frolicking and patting my pretty horse are more important?!"

But Cindy does appear to have a point, so Christina takes her attitude to Vince and learns about Rush Street, giant supposed competitor that is designed to take the wind out of her sails a bit and take the edge off of her freakishly giant mega ego in this book. Due to this plot development, Christina is set on defensive mode. Not a good mode for Christina, because she winds up verbally abusing a chipper reporter, who has taken it into his head to question Star's awesomeness by calling him a slacker.

I have no idea where this opinion is coming from. Why someone is always around trying to make an underdog of Wonder's foals is beyond me, because NONE OF THEM were underdogs. Ever. I can only assume that he's saying this to set Christina off and get some good quotes, because like anyone was doubting Star was going to the Derby. So Christina yells at the reporter, and Cindy is again "whoa, crazy lady, don't brag that much!" before she goes into a rapid display of namedropping and, obviously, bragging. Christina notes this and moves on to the race, which Gratis wins over Rush Street in a hand ride. So...that's another moment of speculative competition crushed.

Enter Ben al-Rihani! Cindy acts more frigid than usual, mutters to Christina that Ben is a misogynistic degenerate, and Christina points out that Ben's trainer is a woman and Cindy isn't having any of this logic. He must have changed! Grumble, grumble, etc. We're setting up for Cindy's Lost Diaries, if anyone is curious about this. I am not, so I'm going to proceed to ignore all of Cindy's Ben angst for this book.

Star loses his seven furlong allowance race and there is chagrin all around. Clearly something is wrong, because Wonder horses don't just lose like that. Of course, the horse next to Star is sick, but no one takes much consideration of this (besides, Chris, of course, because she is ever vigilant) until it's too late. Star is sick, comes home to Whitebrook, and all hell breaks loose.

By "all hell," I mean that Christina spends a lot of time saying, "You have to get well!" and "You are going to get better, aren't you?" It sort of sucks the desperation out of the story when the book essentially starts to spin its wheels. Chapters go by of the same thing: Cindy is surly because she can't ride due to her shoulder injury, Christina worries about Star, the vet comes to say something remarkably similar to the last chapter, Brad says something that irritates Christina, and Ashleigh says, "Don't worry, Chris." That's about five chapters, right there.

Eventually there are a couple of changes, because something has to happen before this book ends. Change #1) Cindy rediscovers her love for horses. Change #2) Brad decides Star is hopeless and sells him to Christina. I have trouble buying into either of these things, mainly because it's hard for me to see Cindy losing her love of horses. Becoming surly and bitchy, YES. Pushing horses around, no. Also, Brad just randomly giving Christina his interest in Star for some paltry amount seems...nice. Too nice. And random. Too random. The only good explanation that is given for this is his insistence that their insurance on the horse doesn't cover, what, death? So even this is stupid. I find this whole thing ridiculous, pretty much.

So Christina runs home, fresh from Brad selling Star to her for peanuts and his news that the horse that had been stabled next to Star has died. Star gets worse almost immediately, but Christina's vocal encouragement and tears of wonder and amazement gives Star the courage to fight a little bit more to, like, move his leg as he twitches and slightly attempts to fight off death.

Everyone cheers. The end.

Can I focus on Mary's inadvertently hilarious introductions for a moment? Take this attempt to insert the vet into the scene at the end of the book:

Chris: Star, can't you hang on? Do it for us, boy.
Ashleigh: Look at him. He's trying, Chris.
Vet: Hello.

I think this is fantastic, because for some reason I keep envisioning him just popping up during this "touching" moment and singing "Hellllloooo!"

Points:

  • Freddy is wearing a linen pantsuit in the colors of her farm. Which is purple and green. I'm pretty sure Mary didn't intend to make me think of the Joker, but unfortunately for her this is where my mind went immediately.
  • After Christina spends the first chapter complaining to herself that she'll never have enough money to buy Brad's share in Star, she immediately has a flare of hope after Freddy gives her $4,000. Granted, I'd like someone to just walk up to me and hand me $4,000, but under no circumstances would I find this a life altering gift. Get a grip, Chris.
  • After Christina completely freaks out about Rush Street, of course she beats him on Gratis with only a hand ride. How freakishly predictable.
  • But Ben (al-Rihani) will be watching for Chris and her "clever strategies." Brilliant comedy. That is what this is.
  • "We'll show these New York horses what a Kentucky-bred colt can do." And here is where I interject that most American racehorses are bred in Kentucky. Sorry to burst your bubble there, Thoroughbred, but your characters are not cute underdogs and they are not in the minority. Ever.
  • I find Christina's confidence in this book sickening.
  • Yes, because entering your horse in a seven furlong race makes tons of sense if you know he's a distance runner. I need Brad Townsend here, stat! He'll smack some sense into these people.
  • Bad Writing Award! It officially goes to Mary Newhall Anderson for this book and her need to tell us that the horses on either side of Star in the starting gate are the three and the five when we ALREADY KNOW he is the four horse. God, Mary, redundant much?
  • Today Brad is driving a shiny sports car, which I appreciate so much more than that blue sedan business from the book previous.
  • Someone please tell me how a tweed sports jacket and beige slacks is supposed to be intimidating? I know this is Brad, and he intimidates everyone by just showing up, but when he insists on dressing like Indiana Jones in an academic setting I'm not sure if this works.
  • "If Christina had been paying attention during the race, she wouldn't have missed at least a dozen chances. She got overconfident, and she blew it." As usual, Brad is SO RIGHT. And as usual, Christina "grits her teeth" because truth is so awkward! And then Ashleigh says something "neutral" that is not neutral at all. Oh, you guys. Don't ever change.
  • "Are you saying I'm not a capable trainer, Brad?" Oh, for Christ's sake, Ashleigh. Given that Brad has apparently been telling you everything you need to do with Star for the past few books, I'd say Brad is pretty on the money.
  • Does anyone else find it odd that the only treatment they're giving Star is stall rest and vitamin supplements?

Really, not a good book. Although Brad was awesome, so that's at least something.

Jul 2, 2009

This is what happens when I let family members influence my television viewing habits.

Fury
1.1: Joey Finds a Friend

Befriended by Jim Newton, a recently widowed horse rancher, Joey and Fury become fast friends at the Broken Wheel Ranch, where, along with their pals Pee Wee and Pokey, all their adventures begin.


The other day I was talking to my mother about My Friend Flicka, which got her talking about Fury like it was the pinnacle of horsey television. For anyone looking at that DVD cover dubiously, your first instinct is correct. It is not the pinnacle of horsey television. It is a rip off of The Black Stallion, actually. But I'll get back to this in a minute.

I haven't been around in a while, and for that I apologize. I sort of got derailed with watching Supernatural to this scary obsessive degree (Jensen Ackles likes horses...think on giving me something to blog about over here, Jensen), and then I started up the editing of the manuscript again because it is so close to seeing the blissful light of day. Anyway. Don't worry, the blog is not in hiatus or will ever be forgotten. And eventually I'll post another book review. However, for right now I bring you Fury.

No, I am not going to go through this episode by episode. I wouldn't survive that. Fury started up in 1955 and ran to 1960. It is about a boy and the wild black horse who loves him. Apparently it is out in DVD to some extent, and you can buy it on Amazon if you just can't help yourself. For some reason my scary big library system has the first five episodes, of which I'm only reviewing this one, entitled Joey Finds a Friend. Well, the third episode is titled Joey's Dame Trouble, so I might watch that one for obvious reasons.

Fury starts out with Jim the rancher of what I keep wanting to call the Broken Spoke for reasons that have everything to do with my being from Austin, Texas. Anyway, Jim has his heart set on catching the wild black stallion that roams his property, and eventually captures him using a fancy trapping method called luring. With the stallion caught, Jim's evil ranch hand decides he's going to gentle that horse right the hell now, and he's going to do it by beating him with a stick!

This doesn't work out, again for obvious reasons. Shamed, the evil ranch hand is then immediately left alone because Jim has to go to the city for some vague reason, but not before another ranch hand can not so subtly inform Jim that the ranch really needs a washing machine (aka "a dame") to spiff things up around here a little. Jim is mortified! Why doesn't anyone understand that his wife died? Surely no other dame could ever clean his clothes as well as his dead wife. And then he flounces to the city, where he seems to be spending all his time staring at young boys instead of doing something productive.

Joey is the lucky kid who catches Jim's eye, because Joey is busy beating the living crap out of another kid on the sidewalk. Of course, this is expected because random fist fights are required in any visual media from this era. Joey appears to win the fight, but then the other boy picks up what looks to be a wrench and flings it at Joey's head. Oh, 1950's violence! I love you so much.

The wrench, or whatever, misses Joey by nearly a mile and smashes into a store window. Joey is immediately blamed for it and hauled to delinquent court, where Jim also happens to be. Jim is creeping me out right about now, especially when he manages to get the judge to just randomly hand Joey over to his care. Because that's a fantastic idea! Give the troubled orphan to this stranger who just walked in off the street. I would be shocked if this sort of thing wasn't a formula from this time period. Judges seemed to hand delinquents off to just about anyone back then.

While Jim is off in the city, the evil ranch hand manages to tack up Fury and ride him. This also doesn't go well. Shamed, the evil ranch hand has to face Jim, who berates him for about two seconds before he is immediately placated by the evil farm hand's innocent look. Joey knows better, of course, and tries to make friends with Fury by giving him an apple. The evil ranch hand picks this moment to walk into the arena with a whip. Because where a stick and bronc riding failed, a whip will surely succeed! He walks in the arena like he's Batman, picks up Joey and actually tosses him in the general direction of the fence, and then starts whipping Fury.

Fury isn't having this shit, people. He does what he did the two other times, and chases the evil ranch hand out of the arena, accidentally stomping on Joey's head as he goes. Somehow Fury escapes. Whatever. Jim later berates Joey for being a child and not telling the truth. Surely Joey is wrong and the evil ranch hand is right when he says Fury randomly attacked Joey. I mean, obviously.

And then they discuss how a dame would clearly be able to take care of Joey far better than they could. Hey, there is that school teacher lady who lives down the way! Surely she's just waiting to nurture something! And that's how Joey gets a surrogate mom.

Joey, however, is displeased and decides to walk home. To the city. And he runs into Fury, who appears to have a giant fungus growing on his leg. Or possibly was drawn on with chalk. Only this is called a cut, and I totally didn't get it. Jim finally realizes the error of his ways because the dame is totally cool with nurturing when Jim doesn't understand it at all. He fires the evil ranch hand, but in a cruel twist of fate the ranch hand finds Fury and decides he'd like to shoot him while Fury can't defend himself. So Jim has to launch himself off of his galloping horse and pummel the evil ranch hand with his fists. And all is well.

So that is two fights, one randomly evil antagonist, and one comparison of women to washing machines. It's high drama, and 100% inadvertently hilarious.

And I don't care what my mother says. My Friend Flicka is so much better than Fury.