Mar 31, 2010

Wildfire: Being Mrs. Brad Townsend

Wildfire
4.11: Being Mrs. Junior

(Reminder: I exchange Wildfire characters for Thoroughbred characters. Why? Because it is easy, and it is amusing, and I will forever maintain that someone behind this show read at least one of the early Thoroughbred books. Also, it's all on Hulu. If you don't believe me, check it out for yourself!)

The Good:

+ This episode starts out with Brad and Ashleigh attempting to pick a date for their wedding while Brad feeds her random items he finds in the fridge (grapes, whipped cream from a can). Sooo... +550!

+ Holy crap, you guys, the season changed. It looks like it might be late spring. Whatever it is, it certainly isn't autumn. Sure, this kind of puts their Kentucky Derby conversation in jeopardy, but I don't care because I am so happy to see some summer clothing I cannot tell you. +10

+ Brad is on a horse again! Oh, show. Thank you for anticipating my needs. +20

+ Brad attempts to defuse Mike's rampant jealous rage with humor. This only causes Mike to storm off in a huff, because all humor is lost on him always. Too bad. +3

+ Thankfully, Racing!Dani has decided to be the opposite of insane. I am thrilled about this. +3

+ Brad and Ashleigh have a conversation about whether or not she'll change her last name to Townsend, and a little part of me loved it beyond reason. +140

+ Mike, your idea to take on boarders is kind of a recycled one that I'm surprised you're bringing up now after all of this time, but I will give you a point for not being totally beyond reason this episode. +1

+ Clay, you little manipulative bastard. I like your conversations with Ashleigh and Jean, but you are such a little manipulative bastard! I love you anyway. +4

+ The engagement ring makes its debut! And there was much flouncing and flailing and maniacal laughing. +1,000

+ Ashleigh confronts Clay about his delaying their wedding and being a general manipulative bastard. Good on you, Ashleigh. +10

The Good: 1,738

The Bad:

- Dani's green dress. I can't do anything with that. -10

- More about Affirmed. I guess it would be fine if he had been a totally awesome sire of epic proportions, but he just wasn't. -10

- Mike/Dani. I see your attempt to come full circle, show. I just do not think this is a logical move. -20

The Bad: 40

1738-40=1,698

The More Things Change (1): 22
The More Things Change (2): 1
Calm: 12
Flames: 25
The Friend: 32
Friendship/Passion: 39.5
Commitment Issues: 14.5
Life's Too Short: 4,969
Vows: 1,877.5
The Comeback: 461
Being Mrs. Junior: 1,698

Mar 30, 2010

Filly or MONSTER?



I about died laughing starting at the point where Wonder gallops by the water heater. Thank you, YouTube. Thank you.

(For those interested, I give you Wonder's Promise: Part One and Part Two.)

Wildfire: The Comeback...to mediocrity

Wildfire
4.10: The Comeback

(Reminder: I exchange Wildfire characters for Thoroughbred characters. Why? Because it is easy, and it is amusing, and I will forever maintain that someone behind this show read at least one of the early Thoroughbred books. Also, it's all on Hulu. If you don't believe me, check it out for yourself!)

The Good:

+ I am tentatively giving this episode points for more Townsend father/daughter bonding, even though that bonding may be motivated by sheer evil. Dani is going to run her filly against Clay's colt against Whitebrook's Wonder's Pride in some race I've forgotten the name of, and it is all very...uncomfortable. Mainly because of Noah, but we'll get to him in a minute. I give the bonding a point, despite the implication that it may be evil. +1

+ So, where does Brad want to go to get married? FIJI. And where do Brad and Ashleigh go to have sex after this announcement? A STALL. (I assume! Shut up.) Notes say +1,250. (My points are all over the place! I never thought I'd give that many points for stall sex, but I guess there's always a first time.)

+ Brad rides a horse! Really, he should do that more often. +5

+ Mike is a tracker again, because I guess someone remembered that he did that in season one. The only difference is that in season one he was motivated to find a horse, and in season four he's trying to find a couple of lost kids and is really pissed off about it. His basic opinion is that they should let the kids rot in the wilderness, and at the very least he shouldn't have to be bothered helping in the rescue effort. Oh, Mike. You have hit rock bottom for me, and I didn't even like the kids in this episode. +2 for finally cementing my opinion of you.

+ Hey, look, they are actually using the same silks in multiple races this time. If only because they aren't actually showing the races. Once they show another race, the silks change and we get a silly story to explain why Ashleigh needs to change her silks. Thanks for trying, show. +1

+ Clay is evil. Again. I liked it better when he was a soccer mom, but this works too. +1

+ Whitebrook's great comeback involves winning one race. And losing five races. The only horse that won is the very horse Mike wanted to sell in the episode previous, which means I get to give this whole scenario a point for the sake of irony. +1

The Good: 1,261

The Bad:

- There are children in this episode. Petulant, annoying children. And they shriek, and complain, and their outfits consist of primary colors and the most godawful red cowboy hats. I can almost see why Mike wanted to let the two brats who stole their horses and rode off into the wilderness die. -200

- Noah. Look, I get that you're concerned because Racing!Dani is a horrible person and Vet!Dani is so stable and likable. I, too, am concerned about this because I was really liking Vet!Dani and I thought she was over this whole Racing!Dani persona. But attacking her relationship with her father is probably not the way to go about making sure Racing!Dani doesn't make a comeback. (Also, what do you care? You haven't even met Racing!Dani.) -100

- Mike, contrary to your opinion, Ashleigh never actually lived with you. To say such a thing would imply that you had some arrangement where you "lived together" which is so not the case. -50 Also--no, not Brad's beautiful face! -100 Mike, stop trying to drown Brad in the river and act like a freaking adult. You so suck as a character. If I had created you I would have been ashamed. And then I would have killed you off. Maybe you could have been shipwrecked on an island and forced to live in solitude for the rest of your life. Yes, that would have been perfect. -350

The Bad: -800

1261-800=461

The More Things Change (1): 22
The More Things Change (2): 1
Calm: 12
Flames: 25
The Friend: 32
Friendship/Passion: 39.5
Commitment Issues: 14.5
Life's Too Short: 4,969
Vows: 1,877.5
The Comeback: 461

(I realize my point system has become a skewed mockery of the totally asinine point system I had previously, but according to this it looks like sex in a stall saved this episode from totally pissing me off to no end. I think I am okay with that.)

Mar 29, 2010

Wildfire: Vows & Vegas

Wildfire
4.9: Vows

(Reminder: I exchange Wildfire characters for Thoroughbred characters. Why? Because it is easy, and it is amusing, and I will forever maintain that someone behind this show read at least one of the early Thoroughbred books. Also, it's all on Hulu. If you don't believe me, check it out for yourself!)

The Good:

+ While Brad and Ashleigh are headed to Vegas via silver Porsche, he lets her know that he got Lavinia's dad to stop being such a prick. Ashleigh now has her jockey's license back, allowing for celebratory making out while driving. I see here in my notes that I wrote +1,000, so I suppose that is the number I'm going with. +1,000!

+ We follow this up with Brad and Ashleigh waiting in line in front of one of those quickie wedding chapels, which looks way too nice to exist in Las Vegas. (Due to the greenery, and lack of sheer awful.) They must have picked out the nicest quickie wedding chapel in the world. And they're all nervous and adorable and then Jean has to go ruin things by getting run over by a horse. Why, Jean? Why do you do this to me? I was so close to closure, and you had to go rip it away. +2 for cuteness, I guess.

+ Here is an episode with such a Thoroughbred plot, I dare anyone question the similarities. Jean gets run over by a high strung horse, so Ashleigh decides to "encourage, not criticize" the horse in its next work because everyone is so critical and demanding all the time. Love and support will work wonders, surely. And then Mike storms up and basically says he doesn't want to see that horse ever again because of what it did to Jean. It must be sold! Preferably in the next five seconds! Poor, poor Champion Nikiya, or whatever. +10 for amusing me.

+ Noah is back, because I guess he was somewhere doing something, and I feel that a break did wonders for our relationship. I don't know how or why he's now in a relationship with Dani, but I am surprisingly not horrified by this development. I am tentatively giving Noah a point. +1

+ The misty scene where Ashleigh is grazing Wonder on one side of the fence, and Brad drives up in his Porsche on the other side of the fence and she informs him that everyone else can go right to hell because she is not letting them formulate her opinions of him for her anymore? Notes say +1,000. And it is so deserved. +1,000! Also, an added +20 for being ridiculously pretty.

The Good: 2,033

The Bad:

- "She's the great granddaughter of Affirmed." Seriously? Who dares question the similarities to Thoroughbred, now? -5, just because I hate hearing how horses are the great grand anything to anyone.

- Are we still going to do this love triangle thing? Really? Well, I guess I'm not surprised, Mike. -100

- Spring! For a half-second! -.5

- Can we all step back for a second and realize that it is insane to encourage two people to get together and then freak out about it after they've actually done the getting together? Ian, you can't tell Brad to man up and tell Ashleigh how he feels, and then tell him he shouldn't have done that a day later when your encouragement results in Brad/Ashleigh. This relationship appears to break everyone's brains. -50

The Bad: 155.5

2,033-155.5=1,877.5

The More Things Change (1): 22
The More Things Change (2): 1
Calm: 12
Flames: 25
The Friend: 32
Friendship/Passion: 39.5
Commitment Issues: 14.5
Life's Too Short: 4,969
Vows: 1,877.5

Mar 28, 2010

Wildfire: Seriously, let's finish this.

Wildfire
4.8: Life's Too Short

(Reminder: I exchange Wildfire characters for Thoroughbred characters. Why? Because it is easy, and it is amusing, and I will forever maintain that someone behind this show read at least one of the early Thoroughbred books. Also, it's all on Hulu. If you don't believe me, check it out for yourself!)

The Good:

+ Ashleigh gets over the fact that she's basically permanently banned from jockeying in order to help out with Flame and Whitebrook's "Dirty Dozen" that have wound up actually being talented. I approve of this. +1

+ Brad and Clay wear matching leather jackets. It's the little things about this show that I have to appreciate. +1

+ Brad does not understand Ashleigh's backpedaling in terms of their relationship. Yes, Brad, I don't understand either. In fact, it is beginning to irritate me beyond words right about now because we've been doing this for four years now. Yet, oddly I am a fan of whenever Brad looks like he wants to punch something. So... +3

+ Brad and Mike are back in competition for Ashleigh. It's kind of hilarious, but also really annoying. Thankfully, Brad always lets some humor shine through these moments when he doesn't want to punch something. +2

+ Fresh from thinking he has a chance due to Ashleigh's moving back to Whitebrook, Ashleigh goes and breaks Mike's heart again in no uncertain terms. She just goes around breaking everyone's hearts these days, but I am finally satisfied. No Ashleigh/Mike. Thank you. +1

+ Ian. I don't hate you this episode! Nicely done. +1

+ Brad and Ashleigh finally have that "maybe we should talk about why I didn't get married to Lavinia" moment, and it is the BEST MOMENT EVER. +2,500!

+ "RJ was the one." Dani, you come along and make my Brad/Ashleigh glee all sad and depressing because you still can't seem to grasp that he is in a coma. He'll wake up any day now, I swear it. +5

+ I don't understand how Ashleigh can't be with Brad and live at Whitebrook. I don't understand the concept, because I think Mike can act like a big boy and stop being stupid IF HE FELT LIKE IT, which is PROBABLY NEVER, so...never mind. Anyway. Brad senses that Ashleigh is torn about this quandary, so he puts a stop to it by asking her to marry him and run away together. And Ashleigh basically says OMGYES. And I automatically give them 2,500 points. It is probably too much, but I just don't care.

+Dani. God, never stop being awesome. +20

+ For a second there, I thought Brad and Ashleigh wouldn't get their moment of driving off into the sunset via Porsche. BUT I WAS WRONG. +2,500 *tosses glitter and confetti*

The Good: 7,534

The Bad:

- The backpedaling. DUDE. This is so not the time for a love triangle, I don't even want to begin to discuss it. It upsets me that much. It verges on making no sense whatsoever, but this is usually how love triangles work. It's why I hate them. Ashleigh keeps holding them both at arm's length, doesn't give Mike any cues whatsoever other than wanting to move back to Whitebrook, Brad certainly doesn't know what the hell is going on, and EVEN MIKE is saying, "Ashleigh, it's Brad, okay? Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?" But then he's totally going back on those exact words later on, because Brad has to go say that he doesn't think it's happening and just UGH. -1,000 (I am going to have to carve a chunk out of the points I gave this episode somehow, guys.)

- Ashleigh is wearing a green camouflage shirt and a baby pink down vest. Ashleigh, sweetie, you dress like a hobo most of the time. It's kind of cute, in a way, but I disapprove of this. -5

- Clay drags Dani to an auction, where she falls in love with this filly. Clay says that yes, sure, she's great. Only she is a filly. That dastardly sex has no place at Townsend Acres! Seriously. Yes, seriously. -873 Only he buys her for Dani anyway, so +213.

- Jean, I fail to see how Ashleigh/Brad is a complication. How is it a complication? I fail to understand! -900

The Bad: 2,565

7,534-2,565=4,969

The More Things Change (1): 22
The More Things Change (2): 1
Calm: 12
Flames: 25
The Friend: 32
Friendship/Passion: 39.5
Commitment Issues: 14.5
Life's Too Short: 4,969

Mar 27, 2010

Wildfire: No one can make up their mind around here.

Wildfire
4.7: Commitment Issues

Ugh, filler episodes. You just give me reasons to deduct points.

(Reminder: I exchange Wildfire characters for Thoroughbred characters. Why? Because it is easy, and it is amusing, and I will forever maintain that someone behind this show read at least one of the early Thoroughbred books. Also, it's all on Hulu. If you don't believe me, check it out for yourself!)

The Good:

+ Jean. Jean gets lots of points for her slow build back to racing and resolving her problems with Ashleigh. I am happy to see her being less bitter, at the very least. +5

+ Dani supporting Ashleigh in front of the racing board when she could have gone in there and argued for them to reinstate her racing license instead. (+3) Dani telling Ashleigh, "Who wants to get to know the girl who thinks coming in first is the best thing in life?" I think every horse book author needs to study this line before writing another word. (+7) Dani getting her racing license anyway and hiding it away in her desk, silently resolving never to tell anyone about it because she's done racing. (+8)

+ Brad suddenly has poor presentation skills. I cannot believe this! In Brad's defense, he is sidetracked by some wedding photography, reminding him of all the splendid angst that is his life. I kind of like this. +1

+ Lavinia's congressman dad has his revenge on Ashleigh by personally refusing to let Ashleigh's jockey license be reinstated. That's pretty impressive, and exactly what Lavinia's dad would do. +3

+ So, normally I don't give out points when horses win (usually I take them away), but I liked Flame's first race. +1

+ More flashbacks! I cannot explain why I love these so much, but whatever. +1

The Good: 29

The Bad:

- Ian. Look, I like that you've gotten over your issues this episode. But I think your reasoning is kind of insane and I dislike it whenever you say something stupid about how you don't want people messing around with Wonder because you've had plenty of gimmicks of your own the past four years. So shut up. You annoy me. -3

- Spring shots! I notice these things, show. I also think you have enough fall footage in your show of eternal autumn to make sure these things don't happen. -.5

- I hate all episodes that involve the racing board. The monologuing! The angst! The pleas for mercy! It's so boring. -2

- There is too much Mike/Ashleigh hugging in this episode. It makes me uncomfortable and I don't like it. I would deduct a point for each time they embrace, but I refused to keep count. -2

- It was a total mistake to let me see the program for Flame's race, show. For one thing, racing programs aren't that simplistic. For another thing, two-year-old maidens don't race against five-year-old maidens. -1

- Matt, you interrupted the Brad/Ashleigh moment! This is so like you to frustrate me to no end. (-3) That said, there was some Brad/Ashleigh to bridge the gap between "Hey, I just stopped my wedding for you." to "Hey, I just stopped my wedding for you, so maybe we should discuss this?" Because there wasn't a lot of anything to indicate that Brad/Ashleigh would happen (and I would be sorely annoyed if I didn't know what happens) in this episode except for the avoiding and Brad's love admission that was interrupted by MIKE, YOU BIG STUPID JERK. -3 again!

The Bad: 14.5

29-14.5=14.5


The More Things Change (1): 22
The More Things Change (2): 1
Calm: 12
Flames: 25
The Friend: 32
Friendship/Passion: 39.5
Commitment Issues: 14.5

Mar 26, 2010

Wildfire: Friendship vs Passion

Wildfire
4.6: Friendship/Passion

Mmmm, the definitive Ashleigh/Brad episode. Let's see how many points this one is going to accumulate, because I am feeling so very generous right now.

(Reminder: I exchange Wildfire characters for Thoroughbred characters. Why? Because it is easy, and it is amusing, and I will forever maintain that someone behind this show read at least one of the early Thoroughbred books. Also, it's all on Hulu. If you don't believe me, check it out for yourself!)

The Good:

+ After insisting that they remain apart forever and always, right before all of the kissing that will make this all the more awkward, Brad spends the first portion of this episode literally running away from Ashleigh at any opportunity. So while he peels out in his Porsche, Mike mutters, "Wedding stress." This episode is rather witty. +2

+ Jane's resolve to hate Ashleigh is melting. Melting! +1

+ Townsend family bonding! I love it when Clay tries to be supportive as his children roll their eyes and attempt to pretend none of this is happening. +3

+ Mike, I respect your refusal to be the shoulder Ashleigh cries on over Brad. The thing is, this reminds me that Mike/Ashleigh actually happened on this show, and I felt a little bit sick. So while I thought about rewarding you with a point, I am going to have to downgrade it to a half point. .5!

+ Who makes someone memorize a poem for a wedding? Really? Lavinia, you are awesome. +1

+ Ashleigh does sort of unconsciously sabotage Brad's wedding by making Lavinia extra pissy. And Mike tells her so. Mike is right. WHAT JUST HAPPENED HERE? I, just, I...I don't know. +2?

+ I really, really, really like Ashleigh standing around with Wonder before Brad's wedding. And I like that she's in her bridesmaid dress. And I like everything about this so much that I am going to give it ten points. +10

+ And then Wonder jumps out of the paddock, and Brad has driven away from his wedding to "get some air," and they accidentally meet up outside of Whitebrook (because that is apparently Brad's default setting) and they go chasing through the countryside, delaying the wedding by I don't know how long to find this horse that is speeding around because metaphors are awesome! +10!

+ And then a random fisherman tells them they should get married. I'm not sure where the metaphor went, but I wasn't expecting that. +1

+ Ashleigh admits to unconsciously sabotaging Brad's wedding, because she is all truthful now. (+1) Brad says he doesn't care and they should run away together. (+4) Now Ashleigh is the one saying that they can't because of...responsibility, I guess. And she doesn't want to be the one to break up his wedding. Dude. *cries* Why do you hate me, show?

+ Wedding scene interspersed with Brad/Ashleigh flashbacks! Oh, flashbacks. You were from a simpler time. +5

+ I cannot believe I am about to say this, but my notes read "Go Mike!" Yes, that's right. I am cheering on Mike's efforts to beat sense into the thick skulls of Brad and Ashleigh right there at the Brad/Lavinia wedding, because he's decided to skip reading the Lavinia poem and subtly inform Brad that Lavinia is all wrong for him while making it seem like this is precisely what Lavinia wants to hear. Well done, Mike. I'm going to give you, like, two points for that. We'll work our way up to the bigger numbers after I start trusting you a little more. +2

+ And then the lights go out. Brad tries to light a candle, fails, and says to Lavinia, "No spark!" Oh, show. +1

The Good: 43.5

The Bad:

- If Wonder is jumping out of her pasture, I think it would help if they got a bigger pasture. Not that this would help when there's metaphor afoot. -1

- Jean and Ian are having with the uncomfortable attraction. I dislike this. In no way should Jean/Ian happen. Jean/Clay would have been so much more appropriate and/or awesome. So, to sum up: Jean/Ian = *horrified screaming* -3

The Bad: 4

43.5-4=39.5

The More Things Change (1): 22
The More Things Change (2): 1
Calm: 12
Flames: 25
The Friend: 32
Friendship/Passion: 39.5

Mar 25, 2010

Wildfire: The "Friend"

Wildfire
4.5: The Friend

I so need to finish watching this series. It's dragged on long enough!

(Reminder: I exchange Wildfire characters for Thoroughbred characters. Why? Because it is easy, and it is amusing, and I will forever maintain that someone behind this show read at least one of the early Thoroughbred books. Also, it's all on Hulu. If you don't believe me, check it out for yourself!)

The Good:

+ Admittedly, I love how evil Lavinia becomes in this episode. She goes from perky blonde to suspicious and manipulative in the blink of an eye. I approve! +1

+ Just in general, watching Brad and Ashleigh step around each other over the Brad/Lavinia wedding is amusing and just angst-ridden enough to amuse me to no end. +1!

+ Ashleigh calling out Brad on whatever it is that's going on with them since he saved her from death by burning support beam is appreciated. I just don't know what her point is because Lavinia has started eavesdropping and bursts in at the last possible second before it all becomes clear (he loves her, he wants to do more than have eye sex with her, etc.) +2!

+ Oh, no. A deep conversation in which Ashleigh insists that Brad put everything important in his life after Lavinia. This, not shockingly, includes Ashleigh herself. Brad looks like he does not want to hear this and would rather punch a tree. I am further taken with this episode, because quite frankly I have kind of forgotten that it isn't Thoroughbred fanfic. +5!

+ Brad in a leather jacket and a bottle of champagne? Yes. I know. +3

+ Brad shows off his public speaking skills in order to sell the personal wind turbine project to reporters, while simultaneously alluding to how important Ashleigh is to him in the most vague way possible. I am not even sure how that worked, but there you have it. +2

+ In response, Lavinia raises the stakes. Ashleigh is now a bridesmaid! Oh, that manipulative witch. +1

+ Dani to Ashleigh: Are you still in love with Brad? Ashleigh to Dani: *shocked stare* +3

+ Noah. I can't believe I'm about to say this, but I kind of don't hate you this episode. Nice job. +1

+ Ashleigh takes a walk with Brad. (+1) She basically throws it all out there about how she's still hopelessly in love with him. (+4) Brad looks like he wants to punch a tree again. (+2) Brad proceeds to reject her and insist that they can't know each other after he's married (unlikely to happen, but I'll give it a point [+1]). Then he kisses her in a desperate manner and stalks off. (+10!)

+ Fresh from that experience, Ashleigh learns that Jean doesn't want her on the farm more than she has to be, because there was some maneuvering from Mike to get Ashleigh a place to live at Whitebrook so she can continue to help with Pride. I grudgingly respect Ashleigh's mute stare of resilience about this. +1

The Good: 38

The Bad:

- Dani/Noah. It's just...wrong. RJ is totally coming out of that coma at the end of the series, Dani. It's okay! Don't settle! -1

- I honestly can't decide if Jean's unrelenting anger toward Ashleigh is warranted at this point. She holds onto a grudge, so I suppose I'll respect that. But, still, eh. -2

- Mike's opinion on marriage is that there will always be someone better than your wife, but because you are married you will wrap up that attraction to the woman who is not your wife, tie a bow on it (for some reason) and then bury it in the cold, hard ground. There is something very unsettling about this, and I can't decide if it's because Mike is such an idiot most of the time or because he's possibly being a little truthful. Either way, I don't like it. -3

The Bad: 6

38-6=32

The More Things Change (1): 22
The More Things Change (2): 1
Calm: 12
Flames: 25
The Friend: 32

Season 4 is looking better and better, you guys.

Mar 23, 2010

Derby Fever: In which we learn that Ashleigh has the memory of a goldfish



Title:Derby Fever (Thoroughbred 53)
Author: Mary Anderson

It is rather fitting that this book, easily one the worst in the series, has a cover this hideous. Both Star and Image look like cow horses and it seems dear Image forgot the power of Vitamin E enhanced lotion or something. Either that or she's suffering from equine leprosy.

Both girls seem to think that wearing a strapless helmet on a young Thoroughbred is a good idea and Melanie is throwing Christina a very Cindy-worthy Pout of Death. Or maybe it's the SuperPout(TM)!

Anyhoo, take note of the background, as it shall be returning in a few books time.

The whole plot of this book revolves around Christina wanting to race Star once more before the Derby and Ashleigh disagreeing based on her past experiences with Wonder's Pride. Yup, you got it. We have flashbacks in this one, folks! Are you as thrilled as I am?

Christina basically gets away with saying the most horrible, bitchy things to Ashleigh. If she was my daughter, I would have been like "Nuh-uh. No more pony for you."

The Star obsession and disagreement goes on for a while. Ashleigh thinks she somehow was responsible for Pride's near breakdown. Someone needs to reread #7. That's not quite how I remember it going down, but whatevs.

So, Ashleigh decides that the best thing for her whiny brat of a daughter is to ride in a race. Naturally. Not precious Star, though. She sticks her on one of the insignificant Whitebrook horses, Raven. Christina royally screws up that one, though. She is so busy thinking about Star (are we shocked?) and causes this big accident in which Raven gets hurt.

Well, in case we all forget, apparently Melanie just loves Raven. And boy is she pissed. I'm telling you, for two eighteen-year-olds, Mel and Chris know how to sulk it up.

So, in her pissed-off state, Mel gets in an accident. And this somehow is the magical catalyst for making up and being BFFs and shit again. That and a pretty pony statue. Mental note made.

The book ends with a mock race which makes everyone happy, even though Image won.

  • Dani seems to wait around for the chance to walk Star or tack Star up or just basically be a servant to Chris's every equestrian whim. Poor girl.
  • First Raven can't even be a broodmare and then she can? WTF. It just shows what the magical power of Whitebrook love can do.
  • Mary's Charlie dialogue irritated me. It was like a copy/paste from every single book he's featured in.
  • I secretly wonder if Star shits rainbows.
  • Does no one really age? Ian is described as being "unchanged" from the days of Pride. There must be some magical water in Thoroughbred-land, especially for Jazzman to still be a viable stud. Pity Charlie never found it.
And that's it. The. Worst. Book. Ever. But wait! Next up is Cindy's Last Hope. Perhaps I have spoken too soon.

Mar 18, 2010

Mixing the CIA with horse fiction is a bad idea.

On The Run
by Iris Johansen
2005

For eight years, single mother Grace Archer has been living a picture-perfect life raising her daughter on a horse farm in the small town of Tallanville, Alabama. Watching Frankie grow into a talented and confident young girl has made Grace as happy as any mother could hope to be. Happy enough, even, to forget the past. But the past never quite goes away. Which is why a certain charismatic man also moved to Tallanville eight years ago to watch over her.

But when violence threatens to shatter Grace and Frankie's idyllic home, the waiting is over. The ghosts of the past have returned. And they're hungry for blood. Now Grace must resume an identity she thought she had cast off forever, and match wits with an opponent as deadly as he is cunning. The prize: an extraordinary secret that only she can unfold. The forfeit: losing the thing more precious to her than life itself.
Occasionally, when I've lost all motivation to select my own horse books, I fall to the comforts/horrors provided by the requests page. This is one such request.

We start, much to my surprise, with Val Kilmer. No, his name is not Val, but it is Kilmer, so my brain came to the logical conclusion. Val is in Morocco, driving recklessly. You see, Val is being chased by men with guns because he has stolen a bedazzled purse embroidered with white ponies. A purse that I like to think looks like this. And then he jumps out of a moving truck, into a helicopter, and flies to Alabama...or something.

I know. You're thinking, Mara. Come on. Val Kilmer does not steal purses in Morocco! Certainly not bedazzled purses! I'm here to tell you that he does. But don't worry, it will be all for nothing.

Now let's talk about Grace and her genius-child, Frankie. Grace has lots of issues, namely because she was dragged all over the world with her dad, an infamous gunrunner or assassin or super secret double agent, or whatever. Her only brief moments of peace were the summers she spent on her grandfather's Australian horse farm, because I suppose her father saved that season for his bloodbaths. God knows, if I had a child and was in a gunrunning/assassin business, I'd send her away when I felt like getting involved in a massacre. Or whatever it is I do.

Frankie is a child prodigy of the piano persuasion. She can compose orchestras at the age of eight. She acts like she's forty most of the time and singlehandedly reminded me of why I loathe suspense/romance books that involve children. Anyway, she's been living in Alabama all of this time with Grace, blissfully unaware that this evil guy, Marvot, wants her dead. Or alive, but he'd really prefer dead. His reasons for this are not all that clear, but for the record I didn't really care. Grace has been hiding out at a tiny horse farm in Nowheresville, Alabama, hoping that Marvot won't discover her location.

Of course, he does. Throats are slit, rigor mortis sets in, cars explode, and Val swoops in to save the day. He totes Grace, Frankie, and Robert, CIA guy who's been looking over them to make sure cars don't explode in their vicinity, to a hotel. The next day they go back to the crime scene to take care of the horses and take their sweet time about it. Meanwhile I am thinking they should probably not be doing this, given that they just killed like fifteen henchmen there. But whatever. Eventually Grace stops being a stubborn mule for half a second and they go to Wyoming.

Anyway. Val and Grace have lots of issues. Sexy issues. As you have probably already figured out by now, they conceived Frankie during their wild bouts of emotionless sex some nine years ago. Then something trust shattering happened and here we are. Grace glares a lot, Val is vaguely awesome a lot, and then more explosions happen. Not that we haven't had time for more emotionless sex in the barn, because rest assured that happened, and it happened a lot.

Somewhere in all of this, we learn why we're here. I was happy about this, because when you're about two thirds through a book and you still have no idea what's going on, I will even take an info dump of Stephenie Meyer magnitudes to explain to me what the hell is happening. This is what is happening:

Once, there was a man. I guess he explored a lot, because he excavated some Egyptian tomb and found (waiiiit for iiiiiiit) a never ending fuel-less battery cell! It's like the everlasting gobstopper of batteries! Neglecting to inform Egypt about this discovery, this guy decides to take his discovery to America, where congress is in awe of the engine he has developed around this battery. Sensing their global domination is going to be threatened, the oil industry collectively panics, and Marvot, mobster/oil magnate, intends to singlehandedly stop this insanity by killing this guy's father. Weirdly, this works. Engine man goes to ground, and literally buries his engine in the Sahara.

All is lost! Except for the fact that the engine man has fashioned a way to find the engine: he breeds Arabian horses! Two of these horses were trained at the tender age of, like, one and a half, to find the engine. Only here is the kicker: they must remain together at all times, and they are sort of insane. They cannot be trained, they cannot be approached. One can hardly glance at them without being seriously harmed in some way. The only thing that sort of calmed them is Cosmo, the donkey, but Val, in his endless stupidity, stole the donkey about two months ago.

Where, oh where, will we find a horse whisperer? Oh, wait, Grace is a horse whisperer! Ahem, I mean, she just talks to horses until they do whatever it is she wants them to do. Right.

So then Frankie is kidnapped by Marvot, Grace walks into Morocco, sweet talks the horses, and then more explosions happen. Marvot dies, Grace walks out of there with the now tame horses. (Because finders keepers, okay? Sure, they belong to the estate/heirs of the dead engine guy, but GRACE IS BETTER THAN THEM. And possession is 9/10ths of the law, you guys. It's amusing because Grace and Val kind of explicitly state this to themselves afterward. No, really.)

Fresh from stealing some horses that can find an engine that will change history, and obviously now billionaires, they retire to Alabama with their prodigy daughter, whom I think I have successfully ignored for most of this review.


- People say shall, may and whom too much in this book. I appreciate correct grammar as much as the next person, but this was like reliving all of those elementary school reprimands all over again. (May I? vs. Can I? That was like every day.)

- Val insists that he and Grace get married because sex is obviously the most important thing in any relationship. Sure, they have absolutely no chemistry together and seem to not care about each other's feelings, but that's not important! All of those kids who are getting married at the courthouse? They're doing it because of the sex, Grace.

- The dialogue in this book drove me a little crazy, because people talk at each other instead of with each other. Then, all of a sudden, Val will start talking as if he's just heard Grace's thoughts and the "conversation" takes a totally weird turn from blah blah normal blah to sexy times based on a thought.

- Iris hates commas with a passion.

- Frankie jumps "barriers" with a palomino stallion that was gifted to her, because supposedly this makes her well-rounded.


So, this is where I stop. Next, I think I'll continue through these requests and work on Rider in the Dark. If anyone else wants to torture me, feel free to leave your requests.

Mar 16, 2010

And then the horse with fangs ate him. The end.


The Heavenly Horse from the Outermost West
By Mary Stanton

The Dark Horse and his minions search for the last true Appaloosa for their own nefarious purposes, while, from the Courts of the Outermost West, the Dancer enters the world to save his breed from extinction.

I don't know what came over me, but I just had to hunt down this book. As it turns out, Heavenly Horse is a bit elusive and I was forced to use my magical librarian powers for what turned out to be a huge waste of time and effort.

The reason for this is pretty simple. I loathe fantasy novels. I'm trying to think of one right now that I even marginally tolerated, and not one title is popping up in my abused little brain. It's not that I can't sit down and make myself read them, because many years ago I forced myself through The Lord of the Rings and I'm still not sure how that even happened. It's like a blur of supreme boredom highlighted with intermittent screams of horror. I know, I know. Why, then, did I even bother? How could I, a hater of fantasy, be expected to push all of that aside for a book that has a rainbow Appaloosa fighting a fanged horse with claws on the cover? How can I rise above my biases to read and review this novel of talking horses who smell like wild thyme? How?

Yet again, the answer is pretty simple. I don't.

I tried, you guys. Really, I did, but ultimately I put the book down and promptly lost it in my apartment somewhere. I really hope I can find it, because I'm pretty sure magical librarian powers aren't going to get me out of that one.

Anyway, let me present some points of interest:

1. The Dancer. I guess he's super important because he is the leader of the mystical Appaloosa breed, which seems important to horses everywhere because of a very select list of breeds in the super horse breed army it happens to be alphabetically superior. The Dancer, when off in special la la horse world, is all the colors of the rainbow. He smells like wild thyme. He uses poetry to introduce himself. He also tries to rape someone. The Dancer is kind of a dick.

2. Duchess. She is a grade mare who is probably an Appaloosa in disguise. I didn't get to that part. Anyway, she's all emotionally scarred, believing that she could get beaten at any point despite the fact that she's never been beaten. Whatever. Then The Dancer tries to rape her. And she tries to tell all the other mares about it and they're all, "OMG you have to let him rape you! That's how babies are made!" And the barn cat is all, "LET HIM RAPE YOU." And the collie is all, "OMG, you so suck." But by then The Dancer realizes he's probably come across a little too strong in trying to rape her, so he sweet talks her into getting in foal. And by that point I was out of there.

3. The Mares. Are annoying. And they have lots of rules.

4. The People. They are probably English, but they keep making soothing sounds that make me think they are maybe German. I cannot even begin to explain this rationally.

5. The Collie. Everyone who talks to him uses his name so frequently it started to amuse me. OMG, Corey. You didn't just do that, Corey. I am so sick of your know-it-all attitude, Corey.

Truthfully, I did give up on this book after the failed rape attempt/love scene. It was weirdly reminiscent of those romance novels that involve the guy accidentally raping the girl, her being somewhat traumatized, but eventually she gets over it because it's true love, rape happens, let's make babies and forget that "control issue" thing ever happened, okay? Only with horses. Regardless, I tend to put books down after these instances.

Also, I loathe fantasy. (Oh, the only one I liked was Birth of the Firebringer by Meredith Ann Pierce. I knew there was at least one.)

Mar 9, 2010

No, Nick Nolte. No.

Nick Nolte circles HBO's upcoming series 'Luck'.

If this series starts to resemble Simpatico, I might watch it out of sick fascination alone. But only if they cast someone pretty to look at. Sorry, Dustin Hoffman.

Mar 3, 2010

This is a movie that is missing tween girls and vampire bats.

The Black Stallion Returns
1983

Here's the thing about The Black Stallion: it took the basic premise of the book to a different level. It rose above the insanity, if you will, that horse books wallow around in to the point of absurdity. It did this by making sure no one spoke too much, thereby limiting the crazy. Also, I seem to remember a horse fight on a boat that didn't happen...or maybe I'm just dreaming this up. I'm pretty sure I'm not, because The Black strikes me as the sort of horse that can win horse fights on land and on water.

What I'm saying is that the movie version of the book did its best to strip the sheer crazy right out of that story. The movie version of The Black Stallion Returns embraces that crazy, opening the door for the unparalleled weirdness that occurs in The Adventures of the Black Stallion some years later, which opens the floodgates of awful for The Young Black Stallion.

I would like to see The Black Stallion and Flame turned into a movie, where The Black and Flame stop trying to kill each other long enough to take down a vampire bat. Yes, I said vampire bat. How can we insert a tween girl into this picture? It could be done somehow!

The Black Stallion Returns starts normally enough. The Black and Alec are living in some upstate New York farm, where The Black prances to dramatic music. Meanwhile, Abu Ben Ishak and his daughter, Tabari, are entering the country and looking all shady. They speak to a customs official, basically heavily implying that they're there to steal a racehorse (because customs officials hear that sort of stuff all the time, I'm sure). That night, they arrive to discover Kurr, some guy from some rival tribe, is already at the farm attempting to steal The Black, who is all predictably homicidal for seemingly no reason.

Kurr, dismayed that this horse is totally nuts, decides that the best way to steal him is to set the barn on fire. Which is a brilliant plan if you were planning on just standing around hoping that someone will come along and save the horse for you so you don't have to be held responsible for killing the horse because you sort of set it on fire. Yet again his masterful plan backfires, because Ben and Tabari swoop in and steal the horse while he was off somewhere doing something.

This prompts a very chaotic scene involving running around storage containers for a while, but ultimately Alec is forced to smuggle himself aboard a plane to Morocco. It occurs to me now that I'm pretty sure The Black was transported by sea, in which case the timeline for this movie makes no sense. Anyway, Alec proceeds to run around Morocco screaming "Shetan" at anyone who looks like they have the capability to hear. This is amusing to me, since he's basically screaming "Devil" at people, as if they're expected to understand that he's talking about a horse.

At some point, Alec finds himself hitching a ride with Kurr, who then abandons him in the desert. Alec is picked up by a roving public bus, where he meets Raj, who reprimands him a lot. Eventually they get lost in the desert and nearly die, only to be found by Raj's people. Alec, who at this point has perfected forcing people to be hospitable to him, is dropped off with Ben, who is so not thrilled about this situation.

Insert a moment of The Black loves Alec and not Tabari, who for some reason likes to kick her horses in the ribs and scream in their ears. Tabari, you're kind of forcing Ben's hand here. But eventually Alec and The Black get kidnapped by the rival tribe, only to escape. Ben is thrilled again, Alec decides to race The Black in the upcoming desert race of awesomeness, which they win after lots of sand and guns and race fixing and friendly male bonding and such. Alec leaves The Black in whatever country that was, presumably wandering back to New York alone.

- I love how Alec is discovered on the plane. When asked how he got in there he basically says, "I don't know. Hey, can I eat that bread?" And then he starts to consume what looks to be a half-eaten sandwich as the copilot looks on in horrified confusion.

- I kind of always had a huge crush on Raj. I admit it.

- The Black chooses his girlfriend over Alec. Yet again proof that The Black doesn't really care all that much. Sex is better than special super fabulous lifetime friends, apparently.

I still want to see The Black Stallion and Flame take down a vampire bat. I don't think that book was vaguely covered in The Adventures of the Black Stallion. It should have been, because their attempt at The Black Stallion Revolts and The Black Stallion Challenged were both pretty amusing.