Snarkling Clean

Snarkling Clean- because you don't have to cuss to make fun of stuff. Two dedicated readers discuss romance novels- from what made us weep with joy to what made us want to poke pencils through our eyeballs.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Real Mom Truths, Part Deux

You may remember Robyn recently wrote a post about Real Mom Truths and then tagged me and several others for their versions. Well, believe it or not, I am actually getting mine done before a month has passed! Here's what little I have learned in the last eleven years of momming...

Real Moms Are Master Multi-Taskers

One of the first things most women learn as moms is how to do many many things at the same time. If this skill is not acquired early on in motherhood, then you spend the rest of your mothering trying to play catch up. I can not only bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan, I can also do the laundry, talk on the phone, supervise the preteen doing homework, and keep the toddler from climbing on top of the refrigerator while I am doing it. If they would have put some moms in charge of the Iraq war? The insurgents would be gone, Baghdad would be rebuilt, and non-burka wearing moms would be having iced coffees at Starbucks on the corner of Camel and Bedouin Streets in Kabul by now. This is in no way meant to be an insult to our army. I am just saying that maybe if some tired moms of toddlers had been in command....

Real Moms Aren't Afraid of a Little Bodily Fluid

In the last eleven years, I have been peed, pooped, vomited, coughed, sneezed, and snotted on, sometimes all of the above within a 24 hour period. I can talk about bowel movements and mucus colors while enjoying dinner. I can hear stories of your childrens' sicknesses and the various things coming out of their bodies without blinking an eye. I can help my husband gut a deer and never give it a second thought. You think you can shock me, Hollywood? You think you can gross me out, Stephen King? You think you can remotely frighten me, Koontz? I am a mom. You are going to have to do waaaay better than possessed pets attacking owners.

Princess Poopy Goes to Church

Real Moms Are All Up in Their Kids' Bidness

I decided early on in this mothering gig that while most of my friends were busy trying to be their children's "friend", I would concentrate on being my childrens' Mother. This means that I know all about what is going on with the spawn at any given moment. I know who their friends are and who the friends' parents are. I know where the friends live. I know what the friends are into. Because you know what? You can't really know your kid unless you know his friends. I have put the kabosh on friendships that I felt were dangerous or destructive and encouraged the friendships where the other children had like moral values and upbringing. I don't put up with disrespect or sass from my kid or anyone else's while in my home. I demand certain behaviors from my oldest kid (the youngest is not yet two), and I get it. His friends consider me a strict mom, but you know what? They love me. They love coming over here. Because not only am I all up in my kid's face about what he's doing, where he's going and with who, I will also be the one to take the kids places, do things with them, and be just as goofy as them. I will dance around the kitchen doing a very bad American Idol audition while my son and his friends howl in laughter. I will speak to them using the words Dude and Like in a sentence 47 times. I will fake-fight them using karate chops and Matrix moves and screaming "Hiyah!" and threatening, "Boy, I'll smack you so hard your gramma be sayin' ouch!" Who are these parents, after their kids are arrested for doing something horrible, that say, "I had no idea Johnny was building WMDs in the garage!"

My son and his posse, planning world domination under the noses of the Great Grandparents.

And last but not least...

Real Moms Know Kids Are Weird Freak-like Little Creatures

What else could explain how they looooove mac and cheese one day and then scream like they're being tortured the very next time you offer it to them? Why they love the bath one night and the next refuse to get in the water? What can possibly account for the love of Teletubbies or radioactive turtles who fight crime in New York City?

It's true. Kids are freaks. They are strange. They make no sense. At all. Whatsoever. They are "Mommy, mommy, mommy!" one day, then the AllDaddyAllTheTime Channel the next. They love the plastic crap toys from McDonalds but eschew the educational Discovery toys you spent $24.95 on. They think farting should be an Olympic sport. They think burping is hilarious. The bigger of a fool you make of yourself, the harder they will laugh. Sugar them up and they act like lemurs on crack. You will spend your life trying to understand these funky space aliens that have landed in your home, wracking your brain to keep one step ahead of them. And when you think you have them all figured out? They change it up, just to drive you that much closer to the padded room.

It's a good thing the little freakshows are so fun. And lovable. And cute. And adorable. And then there's the whole They Make Life Worth Living thing too. Otherwise, mine would totally be out by the curb in a box with a sign around their necks reading, "Free To A Good Home....That Thinks Farting is Funny."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Missie's son caught a glimpse of these and cried, "Dude! What kind of freaks on crack draw these covers? It's just not right!"

So wise, grasshopper. You have learned well.

Exposing the Executive's Secrets

Robyn: I have serious questions. Does anyone else hear bow-wow-chicka-chicka-bow music? And where did he get that hideous tie? Those lights- is he an executive stripper? You don't think the two dangling glasses and long necked wine bottle right in front of the package are subliminal, do you?

Missie: Memo from Harlequin Headquarters to its series authors: In light of recent comments made regarding our Trust Fund Affairs category romances, we felt it only fair to open up some different financial category romances so as not to offend anyone. Please submit your stories under one of the following headings, should you be interested: Soup Kitchen Flings, Government Cheese Dalliances, or Van Down By the River Romances. Next month, we will be accepting submissions to Barely Making It But On the Make, Paycheck to Paycheck Passion, and Hot Welfare Women.

The Right Brother

Robyn: As long as the right brother is someone else's brother, I'm good.

Missie: ...likes to poke his nose into his woman's eye. "That's what you get for dating my brother first!"

The Wolf's Promise

Robyn: "I promise I will poke out your eyeballs just because you annoy me."

Missie: to what? Beat the crap out of me with his cane? Strangle me with his fluffy bluish cravat? He doesn't look sexy, he looks scary. Homicidal maniacs who fancy themselves animals are not keepers, people!

The Count's Charade

Robyn: Hope that bush isn't full of sticky pointy leaves. One, two, three, OW! One, two, three, OW!
Missie: So that's what happened to the guy from Highlander when the show was cancelled! Mystery solved!

Chain Reaction

Robyn: Oh, no, sir. Let me tell you that I SAW Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, and you, sir, are no Hugh Jackman!

Missie: So what, like he gets mad and strikes a pose and that causes lightning? Kinda like when the girl in Men In Black 2 was sad, it caused rain to fall? Is it like that? No? Oh....then I got nothin.

Devil in a Kilt

Robyn: "Okay, I know. I feel as stupid as you think I look, but I've got two kids to put through college. It's a living."

Missie's son: Look, It's Conan the Barbarian!

Missie: Somebody's having a wardrobe malfunction! Dude, look. Wear a shirt. Or a bra. Or a bra under a shirt. Whatever. But you're gonna poke somebody's eye out with that thing if you're not careful.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I've Been Touched...Er, Tagged

I keep getting tagged. I try to run faster, but I was no good in track. So sue me.

Actually, this one sounded very cool. What are some truths about real moms? Thanks, Girl con Queso!

Real Mom Truths

1. Real Moms have forgotten what it’s like to have an uninterrupted conversation.

Whether it’s a baby demanding a bottle; a toddler that’s suddenly too quiet; an enraged pygmy storming in for toy arbitration; or a teenager requesting free chaperone service and can I spend the night at Ben’s house and I need ten dollars for that school thing and can we go to the mall and get new shoes and…

When I was young and unkidded, never did I dream that I would take nearly an hour to have a ten minute talk with a friend, studded with I don’t care who started it, I’ll finish it and Stop chewing on your shirt and Don’t just let it sit there, clean it up!

2. Real Moms look forward to empty nest syndrome.

I adore my little darlings. I worked hard for them. I worked hard having them. I was head over heels in love with them even while stuck with two in diapers, and wondering if they, and I, would ever move past that stage. In the craft-making, cookie-baking supermommy years, I could only shake my head in disbelief that I had actually birthed these two astonishing beings. Between Scouts and church and riding bikes and Mom, I’m not a baby anymore, and the general buzz and busyness of the elementary years, came the realization that my kids were my life, my purpose, and my heart. And I was tired.

Now as they enter the teenage years, I find I am eager for some things. My daughter is so smart, y’all. She is able to converse with me on a level I never dreamed we could. This, I see, is how my child will turn into my friend when she’s grown. Seeing my son’s childish love for animals morph into a genuine passion for wildlife conservation is so beautiful I’m crying as I type this. God, I love these kids. And I’m still tired.

Is it wrong to admit that I’m really, really, really looking forward to the day when I’m alone in my house and not looking at the clock, not centering my life around other people’s schedules, taking time for that extra cup of coffee that I don’t have to put in a To Go mug because oh-crap-they’re-out-of-school-in-five-minutes? Is it wrong to want to sit back and enjoy the rewards of those hard working years?

Actually, I don’t think so.

3. Real Moms are scared s**tless.

As awesome as the teen years are so far, I am worried. Now, my kids are great. Honestly, they are. And my main goal now is to keep a lid on myself, so when they come to me with something I won’t blow, lock them in their rooms and cut off all lines of communication. So I’ve been very, brutally honest about sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll.

They have responded well. They’ve shown me so far that I can trust them. And I expect that there will be Why, no, Mom. Nothing happened! moments, and that’s okay too. It’s part of growing up and gaining the necessary independence.

But see, here’s the thing. I was a teenager once. (Yes, I know, a loooong time ago.) Seeing my kids with scraped knees and not being picked for the team was hard enough. It’s the scraped heart I don’t know how to deal with. Can I control myself when the little hussy wearing a doily for a shirt comes batting her eyes at my son? When my beautiful girl comes home having had to deal with a guy who wanted his, right then, right there? I better not ever, ever, ever keep guns in the house. Whether it is dates, friends, teachers, or whoever, it seems as if teenhood is strewn with possibilities for a broken heart.

I know they’ll be okay. I just don’t know if I will.

Tag! I’d really like to see Real Mom Truths from: my partner Missie, December Quinn, and the MamaDrama ladies. You’re it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Have Your Rotten Tomatoes Handy

'Cause I'm ready to duck. I'm about to admit something that is currently a heresy to the romance reading world. I'm taking a deep breath, and here goes.

I miss Regencies.


Sorry, but I do. I've been re-reading some of my old Signet Regencies, and finally realized that when I am in the mood for a quick read, or I'm burned out on the larger tomes, I come back to these stories time after time. I have to wonder why.

It isn't as though the time period is one of my favorites to read about. I'm much more fascinated with the medieval- the Norman conquest up until about 1400; with the American West 1850-1890; and I definitely gravitate toward the latter Victorian era (around 1880? I'm there!) as opposed to the Regency.

Almost all of these little category books have things in common that make me groan. You will always find:
  • lavish descriptions of every stitch on every piece of fabric wrapped around the heroines
  • 9,867,231 country girls with liberal educations who clean up really well and hold their own against the worst matrons and rakes society has to offer.
  • 9,867,231 dukes with beautiful London houses and huge family estates with many lesser titles and holdings who, despite being handsome and manly and not needing any padding to fill out the shoulders of their Weston coats, have remained unmarried until age 35
  • universal derision and scorn of the ton and everything it stands for, even though the hero and heroine wind up being paragons of it

And on and on it goes. But I still love them. Those old Signets introduced me to Carla Kelly, Marion Chesney, Mary Balogh, and others who went on to single title success, and for that I'm grateful.

But there's something else that draws me toward these particular books; and I've become convinced there are two things: one, the genteel manners. Dinner was an event. Letter writing was an art. Deference was given to elders and gentlemen treated a lady like, well, a lady. Things today's society could benefit from, even if I wouldn't like to live there full time.

Two, the concept of honor. Many historicals of all periods have this theme running through them. A man's word was his bond. If the hero or heroine gave their word, they kept it to their pain. And if a lady's reputation, which was truly all she had, was called into question? Her champion called the blackguard out. Not that I'd really want any duels fought over me, but the idea that a man in extremely civilized society would literally put his life on the line to keep his lady's good name?

Sigh. Swoon. Thud.

So I'll keep reading, and hearing from Romancelandia how the simple, clean Regency is dead, and in the back of my mind I'll chuckle.

Suspense is nearly there, and vamps and witches? Your time is coming. I have a feeling we'll hear from the ton again.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Happy Friday

No matter what this week has thrown at you,

No matter how confusing life may be at times,

No matter what may be clouding your vision,

Just remember.....You are loved.

Now go tackle somebody.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Never Work with Kids or Animals

That's what they say in the world of show bidness. At here at Snarkling Clean, we think that bit o' wisdom should be heeded in the romance world, too.

Reluctant Witness

Y'know, for our money, nothing says romance like forcing a child to relive an event that's obviously traumatized him. Just makes us go all warm and fuzzy.

Daddy Next Door

He looks waaaay too happy to have a neighbor's kid attached to his leg. The little girl is beaming, too, but Mommy has that smile-politely-but-let's-get-the-heck-out-of-here look. Ah, we know the scheme. Neighbor boy paid the opportunistic little tyke so he could hit on Mommy, right? We certainly hope so. If that's not it, we're going to be seriously creeped out.

Expecting Thunder's Baby

These just aren't worth it when the snarks write themselves. You don't really need us for this, do you? We're gonna hit Starbuck's.

Critical Exposure

At this point we are wondering about the art department staff meetings at Harlequin. Do you think they got this cover art switched with some other book possibly titled...oh, I dunno...The American Millionaire's Secret Love Child Who Likes to Play With His Undone Collar? They wouldn't seriously want to give us this image with the words EXPOSURE and SECURITY BREACH, would they? Well, would they?

Don't answer that.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Darn Those Fairies!

O I forbid you, maidens a',
That wear gowd on your hair,
To come or gae by Carterhaugh,
For young Tam Lin is there.

Child ballad #39A from The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, 1882-1898 by Francis James Child.

Tam Lin, or Tam Lane, has always scared the bejeebers out of me. What a great story. It goes something like this:

The woods of Carterhaugh are guarded by Tam Lin, a man who demands payment of all maidens who pass through, in the form of a belonging or their virginity. A maiden named Janet travels to Carterhaugh and picks a rose, causing Tam Lin to appear. He questions her presence, to which she replies that Carterhaugh is rightfully hers. She then travels to her fathers house where she exhibits the early signs of pregnancy, much to the concern of the household. She states that her lover is elven, and then returns to Carterhaugh, once again encountering Tam Lin. He reveals he is not elven, but a mortal captured by the queen of Faeries, and that he may be sacrificied to hell as part of the faerie tithe. He then details how she can save him to be her mate, if she will undergo a trial on Halloween night. She must pull him from his horse as the faeries ride through the woods, and hold onto him as he is transformed into various beasts, then plunge him into a well when he turns into a brand of fire. When he regains his own naked shape she must cover him with her green mantle and he will be free. She does all of this, much to the anger of the watching Queen of faeries.

Darn fairies. They're always doing stuff like that.

I just read a short story that retold Tam Lin, and why not? It's fabulous fodder for romance. But most fairy tales are repackaged over and over, aren't they? I've seen so many retreads of Beauty and the Beast I've lost count. The Beast can be anything from a literal beast to a man scarred in body to a man scarred in soul; the story's the same. Love conquers all.

But here's the thing. Some of the darkness, the scary, nervy, fright of it all, gets lost in modern translation. Maybe we're too sophisticated to find the fey much of a threat. Hey, even the thought of a seductive elf demanding payment of a girl's virginity is crushed under the weight of millions of "Mary Sue falls down a hole into Middle Earth and shags Legolas" fanfics. I've ranted before about how tv shows like Buffy and Charmed (even though they're entertaining) have removed the all-powerful threat of evil when they could make villains go poof! with a wave of their hands. It's supposed to be a struggle, not an afterthought. An opponent to be battled, not an irritant to be flicked at.

Do you mourn for the days when a fairy tale such as Tam Lin could make you think twice about going through the woods at night?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Ode to the Throne

Food poisoning sucks, can I just tell you that? And since I've had an intimate acquaintance with my bathroom fixtures the past few days, I decided to investigate what kinds of thrones are available. Hey, I have to do something to cheer myself up since the health benefits of salmon will forever be lost to me. Or at least until I'm brave enough to try it in a restaurant again. Or anywhere.

Regular readers know of my fascination with toilet humor. But with these horrifying images I can only say: I'm SO glad I'm not a man.

I can't even figure out what this is. Is it an Indian god with a samarai top knot and 30's movie star mustache? I don't know what's in the gold box, but is he holding a camera in one of his hands? At least there's a little golden grill action in the Rolling Stones memorial he's clutching.

Okay. I know struggling musicians are always hard up for money, but this is just gross.

Women, we've just been given the power to rule the world. All it needs is a cup holder and pizza delivery. If this thing faces a big screen tv, we'll never see men again.

I've seen waaaay too many computers-take-over-the-spaceship movies to consider this preferable to a convenient bush.

Good idea, but after this week it just makes me think of Pepto Bismol.
Here's hoping your bathroom is used sparingly, and be careful of the fish!