book reviews

Repost of my review of Stephen Collins’ Eye Contact… 

I wrote this review for in March 2013, and I’m reposting it here, because we were just talking about Stephen Collins last night. This book was definitely the “anti-RevCam”. It appears here “as/is”. He’s now living in Iowa with a German woman named Jenny. 😉

Yes… THAT Stephen Collins, the same guy who played Reverend Camden on 7th Heaven for 11 years.  He wrote two shitty novels.  I have read and reviewed them both.  This is my review of his book, Eye Contact.  Enjoy!

Pros: Not full of typos.  Reasonably well-written.

Cons: Implausible plot.  Unlikable protagonist.  Sleazy.

I recently made the curious decision to watch all the episodes of the old WB series 7th Heaven.  As I was watching the show, I learned that the actor, Stephen Collins, who played the Reverend Eric Camden, the patriarch of the large Camden brood, had tried to branch out into a career in music.  As I was investigating Collins’ music career, I learned that Collins had also made a foray into the literary world.  Because I just can’t resist a good snark fest, I decided to read his first book, Eye Contact (1994). 

On the cover of my copy of Eye Contact, there is a ringing endorsement from Stuart Woods promising a book that is “erotic, funny, and before long, terrifying.”  I finished this book last night and I think there’s a little false advertising going on.  Granted, I’m not really a fan of trashy novels to start with, nor am I generally impressed with Stephen Collins.  I wasn’t expecting this book to be very good and frankly, it really wasn’t.  On the other hand, it’s not as bad as it could be.  It’s not full of typos, for instance. 

The plot

Beautiful New York City based actress Nicolette Stallings (Nick or Susan Nichols to her friends) is a ho who really gets off on the thrill of the chase.  She enjoys one night stands with random men, much to her detriment.  One night, she’s in a restaurant dressed a skin tight peach cashmere dress.  She notices a Wall Street looking guy sitting across the room with his wife.  Despite the fact that the couple looks like they’re having an anniversary dinner, Nick decides she wants to do him.  She opens a window of opportunity, which the guy inveitably takes, and later ends up drunk on champagne.  She boinks the hell out of this random Wall Street looking guy in a hotel room she can’t afford.  And yes, despite the fact that she’s a struggling actress and he works on Wall Street, she is the one paying for the hotel.  Totally implausible, if she’s really that pretty and irresistible and he’s really that taken with her.

Over the next few days, Nick Stallings learns how damaging being a ho can be.  She suffers a series of inconvenient mishaps that land her in some serious legal hot water.  It turns out her random bed partner is a deranged, suicidal Wall Streeter who decides it’s not enough to traumatize Nick by killing himself in her home.  He has to try to ruin her life, too.  Luckily, Nick Stallings has a few brand new friends in New York City and occasional brain function to boot!  Will she be able to avoid being framed for a murder that was really a suicide?

My thoughts

As trashy novels go, I think Eye Contact is about standard quality.  As I read it, I pictured a B grade movie complete with B grade actors playing all the parts.  The story is implausible and takes place in much too short a time frame.  Within two days of meeting the Wall Street guy and witnessing him jumping out her window, surviving, and later coming back while high on Demerol to stab himself to death in front of her, Nick is being investigated for his possible murder.  The medical examiner is somehow able to determine the guy’s death is sketchy within a day or two of his death. 

Within that short course of time, Nick meets a couple who end up being super kind to her, even letting her move into their apartment after the lawyer’s bloody death.  I know that a lot of New Yorkers are much kinder than they seem, but what are the odds that this chick would find such a generous couple just when she needs them?  These folks really go above and beyond the call of duty for this woman they barely know, driving her around, hooking her up with a lawyer, and giving her food and shelter.  Collins also saddles these characters with irritating stereotypical New York accents heavily peppered with the f-word as if it’s very endearing.  I don’t have issues with the f-word, but when it’s used solely to effect a mood about a character and provide comic relief, it becomes a cheap gimmick. 

I didn’t think the character, Nick (or Susan or Nicolette), was very relateable.  I didn’t really care if she got out of her jam.  She comes off as someone with serious issues.  First off, there’s the name thing.  Her real name is Susan and half the characters call her that.  Her stage name is Nicolette Stallings, which the public knows her as and as some of her friends call her.  Her nickname is Nick, which is how Collins addresses her.  While I understand that actors often have stage names, the constant name issue was cumbersome and annoying.

Secondly, Collins makes Nick out to be a bit of an oversexed bimbo.  She’s portrayed as a sexy woman who can’t help herself, even if a man is otherwise engaged.  There are interludes within the text that have Nick doing things that are vaguely kinky, but not all that sexy or erotic.  As I read about them, I wasn’t turned on…  In fact, my exact reaction was a resounding “Eeeeeew!”  Collins adds annoying little asides in italics that are supposed to be Nick’s thoughts… her better judgment, really, warning against all the stupid things she does.  Sadly, Nick never listens to her better judgment and ultimately gets herself in a big mess. 

Collins tries to develop this character through a series of flashbacks to Nick’s younger years, when she was an “ugly duckling” child and the low self-esteem that tends to come with being a homely kid.  This is supposed to help the reader understand why she’s such an unrepetant ho as an adult.  However, instead of feeling empathy for Nick, I felt like she needed a competent psychiatrist with an open calendar who specializes in sexual hangups.  Any time a pre-teen goes rifling though her father’s dresser, tries on his bikini bathing suit and gets it “moist”, then puts it back in the dresser, I can’t help but think she’s got some serious Electra complex issues.

As I was reading Eye Contact, I couldn’t believe Collins the writer is the same guy as Collins the actor, who portrayed the Reverend Eric Camden, the 7th Heaven character who was obsessed with making sure none of his kids had premarital sex.  This novel is chock full of the f-word and sleazy sex scenes that I didn’t find all that erotic or interesting.  To me, Nick came off as someone very unlikeable, slutty, and shallow.  I wondered what or who inspired Collins to create her… and if he really thought his readers, most of whom are likely women, would think she was someone they would root for or respect.  I mean, even if you’re reading a book about someone very unlikable, you at least want to have some respect for the character, right?  To me, Nick Stallings came off as just a stupid ho who needed to keep her mouth shut and her legs crossed… and maybe stop by the doctor’s office for an HIV test and some penicillin. 


Like I said, this book is not as bad as it could be.  I’ve certainly read worse novels than this.  But I didn’t think Eye Contact was very good.  As much as I dislike Stephen Collins as an actor and a singer, I probably like him even less as an author.  But he did write another book in 1998 which I will read and review, just for the sake of completeness. ETA in 2022: I do remember reading the book, but I don’t know if I can still access the review. I seem to remember thinking it was worse than Eye Contact.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission on sales made through my site. But I wouldn’t recommend this book, anyway.

Reality TV

ANTM meets Melrose Place…

As a child of the 70s and 80s, I love classic Aaron Spelling shows. I liked his newer stuff, too, and I kind of miss his brand of cornball entertainment. Despite my constant griping, I watched all episodes of 7th Heaven. In fact, I watched them quite recently, then I switched to Melrose Place, which aired on Fox from 1992-99. I started with the fifth season, though, because I wanted to watch seasons 6 and 7, which weren’t available on iTunes for the longest time. Now that I’m almost done watching the 7th season, I think I know why I couldn’t watch the last two seasons until now. Music rights.

Yep… the very same thing that prevented reruns, for those of us who loved watching WKRP in Cincinnati forty years ago, also kept the last two seasons of Melrose Place off of iTunes, now known as Apple TV. It has to be the reason, especially since the show had really jumped the shark by season 7. The writing had really gotten hackneyed. Just like on 7th Heaven, I notice all of the characters use similar phrases, like “you know what?”, “no offense, but…” and “now, if you’ll excuse me,”. It’s as if all of the characters are the same person and have collectively gone insane thanks to completely implausible and ludicrous storylines. The repeated usage of trite phrases seems to be a hallmark of Aaron Spelling’s shows, even though they were presumably written by different writers. But I also think the storylines on Melrose Place were hilarious in their own non-sensical ways.

Seasons 6 and 7 featured a lot of music from up and coming artists in the late 90s. Some of the stuff is pretty cool, too. A lot of times, they even featured the artists playing a “gig” in Kyle McBride’s “Upstairs” lounge, which started as a jazz club and quietly turned into a rock venue. I saw an episode featuring Hanson, for instance… and I know famous ex Mormon rocker Tal Bachman was a guest in 1999. He used to hang out on RfM a lot and I even mentioned him on RfM and he answered. I guess the producers figured pairing the ridiculous plots with hot new music might give them a shot at saving the show. No such luck.

Today, I was watching an episode of Melrose Place, iPad in hand, and I heard a song that was kind of catchy. I was curious to know who was singing it, so I used my trusty Shazam app. The result was surprising. It was Sarah VonderHaar, who was on Cycle 8 of America’s Next Top Model back in 2007. I was unusually bonded with that cycle, since it aired when Bill was in Iraq. That was also the cycle that featured Renee Alway and Jael Strauss. I’ve written about both them, too. I was rooting for Renee, but she wound up getting in serious trouble with the law. Though she was released from prison in 2018, she was arrested again in September 2019. Jael sadly died of breast cancer in December of last year.

Hmmm… she looks familiar.

When Sarah was on ANTM, she billed herself as a photographer. I guess when she got eliminated from the show, she turned her attentions to music. I read in an article that she had always wanted to be a musician anyway. I think she’s better at singing than modeling. I liked the song enough to Shazam it, even if the lyrics could be deeper. Lots of “na na nas” in it, you know. But the melody is catchy and appealing and she has a nice voice.

Sarah’s ANTM elimination.

I see that Sarah is also quite a bartender… check out the video below.

Sarah is making a “Ginger Blonde”– her signature drink. She was a finalist for a bartending competition with this drink.

As I was listening to Sarah’s song on classic Melrose Place, it dawned on me that they must have replaced the original music that aired in 1999 with hers. How do I know? Because Sarah was born in 1986 and would have been just 13 years old in 1999. She’s talented, but I don’t think she was making music for Melrose Place in 1999. Besides, the song that was used on Melrose Place was released on her 2008 album, Are You Listening Now? At least it was a good match, though. I would have believed they got it from 1999. The song is hooky, and has a generic pop mood that fit the show nicely. I’m usually hyperaware of when music is replaced on a TV show and I almost didn’t notice it on that episode of Melrose Place.

I hate that old TV shows have to replace music due to music licensing rights. One of the things that made WKRP so awesome was that they played great music from the late 70s. In those days, radio was done locally and you never knew what you’d hear. You could hear Led Zeppelin played next to an Earth, Wind, & Fire song. You could hear Leo Sayer played next to ABBA. It was very cool. And a lot of the music went with the storylines, too. I managed to get a box set of WKRP episodes with most of the original music included, but there were a few songs that were replaced with something more sanitized and less expensive.

I’m glad to see Sarah is still out there, making a go at being a star. She’s clearly talented. As for ANTM, I’m not even sure if that show is still going. I quit watching it some time ago. I miss Aaron Spelling a lot more than I do Tyra Banks.

bad TV

“Now, if you’ll excuse me…”

I wish I were good at editing videos. Once again, I have been watching the last seasons of 7th Heaven and cringing with each new episode. Around season 8, that show became even worse than it originally was. On my old blog, I ranted about it a few times. Since I have a new blog, I’m going to rant about it again, mainly because I can’t think of anything else to write about that won’t get me in trouble. If I were good at editing videos, though, I could add them to this post to demonstrate what I mean. For now, you’re just going to have to take my word for it.

Complaint #1

At some point well into the series, the writers of 7th Heaven seemed to get lazy with dialogue. They started giving every character the same manner of speaking. I have noticed, for instance, several characters saying “Now, if you’ll excuse me”, after resolutely putting someone else in his or her place. Not only is it an annoying phrase when said by one person, but one would hope that only one person in an entire group of friends would ever be in the habit of saying something like that. Apparently, in Glen Oak, everyone has the same spoken mannerisms, right down to the other Glen Oak urchins calling the Camden kids by their last name or referring to them as “preacher boy” or “preacher girl”. Jeez, don’t the kids of Glen Oak have any spunk? Isn’t there someone with a spark of wit in that town? I think if someone said, “Now, if you’ll excuse me,” to me with a smug facial expression, I would be tempted to haul off and smack the shit out of them. But, since I’m neither violent nor wanting to be arrested, I’m sure the slap would simply radiate from the annoyed expression on my face.

Complaint #2

The actors often sounded like they were reading their lines for the first time. And again, when they read their lines, they used the same cringeworthy emphasis laden expressions. They’d say things like, “If you loved me– If you REALLY loved me…” Or “I needed a brother– a BIG brother– tonight.” And they would deliver these lines without proper emphasis, so they sounded stilted and hackneyed. Somehow, this shit was passable for eleven seasons. And also, almost all of them did it. I would expect one, maybe two people tops, speaking that way. But noooo… on 7th Heaven, they all talked like that.

Oh noooo!

Complaint #3

Most everyone seemed to have attended the “hesitation acting academy”. Stephen Collins was the worst of anyone on that show. He would hesitate before he spoke, as if he was choosing his words carefully. Unfortunately, he simply sounded stupid. As time went on, they would all start acting in this manner and deliver lines like, “You aren’t… thinkin’ about hangin’ out with your buddies and drinkin’ beer… because you know you’re… not 21 years old yet. And if… you decide you want to take a drink… why don’t you just stay… because you know not to… get behind the wheel when you’ve… been drinkin’.”

Complaint #4

I’m absolutely certain the twins weren’t intellectually disabled, but for some reason, the writers preferred to make them sound that way. They’d have them speak in unison. One of them couldn’t pronounce his r’s very clearly, so he sometimes sounded especially slow, even though I’m sure he wasn’t really. Who thinks it’s cute when twins talk like they have no minds of their own?

Complaint #5

“And this is for…” and “we know this how…” and “you would be…” Those of us who have been around for awhile remember David Spade on Saturday Night Live, when he’d do his annoying receptionist schtick. For some reason, the writers on 7th Heaven thought this was outrageously clever and, once again, saddled every single actor on the show with this shitty form of speaking. I’m now in the 11th season and I have lost count of how many characters snarkily say something like, “And you are…” or “and we know this because…” or something similarly rude. What’s sad is that there were some legitimately talented people on that show and they were saddled with terrible writing, especially in the later seasons. Of course, they also let some non actors on the show– like, for instance, when Mackenzie Rosman’s real life stepfather and stepsister guested. The stepdad was especially obviously not an actor. Another phrase that was overused by too many characters and came off as lazy and rude is “no offense”. Here’s my line. “No offense, but the writers of 7th Heaven sucked donkey balls and should have been docked 40% of their pay until they wrote something worth watching on television.”

Complaint #6

Overly emotional background music. Who was playing the piano and guitar on those episodes? Who was playing the saxophone? The sax and piano players were especially “expressive” in the way they played the background music. Way to add the the story, right? Actually, I think the piano player was especially talented. I just thought the use of music on this show was over the top and kind of stupidly done. What really sucks is watching it on iTunes and finding most of the music that was in the original episodes has been replaced by generic knockoffs that really don’t pack the same punch. But I get that they don’t want to have to pay for royalties.

Check out that music… and then the lecture from Matt, the doctor wannabe.

Complaint #7

Smoking, drinking, pot smoking, and fucking are bad… bad… bad… And RevCam knows how to cure every addiction to man.

“The rats! The RATS!”
No burning joints in MY house!

Complaint #8

Ridiculous storylines… like on what was originally supposed to be the grand finale in Season 10. Matt and Sarah, Mary and Carlos, and Lucy and Kevin all report that they are having twins. Of course, Lucy ends up miscarrying hers within months, when the writers had to cobble together one final barely watchable season. In a tragic life imitates art moment, actress Beverley Mitchell reported last year that she miscarried twins in real life. I could probably sit here and think of a dozen similar storylines that were just plain dumb. I get that you have to suspend belief sometimes when you watch a show like 7th Heaven. In fact, that’s part of their appeal. But there is a limit to how far fetched one can get before one goes into ridiculous territory. I mean, what genius came up with the idea to have everyone sing and dance the whole episode, like they did on the cringeworthy “Red Socks” show? That episode was written by Martha Plimpton, of all people, but it just sucked!

One of the worst storylines ever… and Eric hesitates for good measure. “Mary’s… coming to the graduation?” I like Annie’s fake scream, too. She probably also did that while fucking Eric.

So why do I watch this shit? I honestly don’t know. I think I miss watching television that isn’t profoundly disturbing. I like to watch shows like The Handmaid’s Tale, but then I have nightmares. I tried to watch Chernobyl, but it was too depressing. I got through the first episode, but had to stop the second one. I’m sure I’ll get around to watching them later, but I recently read a book about Chernobyl, so it’s not like I don’t know what happened.

For some reason, I find shows about large families comforting, even when they make me cringe. The Camden family is especially annoying, since the parents are overly involved, particularly with their children’s sex lives, and they have to supervise everything. Given that actor Stephen Collins, who played family patriarch Eric Camden, turned out to be a pervert in real life, it seems especially yucky that they focused so much on preserving their children’s virginity. I remember the icky scene in which a teenaged Ruthie Camden was suggestively dancing in her bedroom and dad Eric lingered a bit too long as she shimmied and gyrated. Once again… life imitates art.


Meh… well, I will probably be done with season 11 in a few days. I can go back to watching politics. I’m working on a new book, too, so there could be a review posted before too long. There are things I’d love to write about, but I just can’t bring myself to go there right now. Maybe someday… but not today. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll get back to torturing myself with this shit so I can get it out of my system for the next year or two.


What’s on the “vagenda” today?

Last night, I watched a video by Mr. Atheist. I had seen his channel before, but I’m not sure I ever stopped to listen to any of his commentary. I couldn’t resist last night, though, because he did a video about The Transformed Wife, aka Lori Alexander. I have written about Ms. Alexander myself on more than one occasion. She’s a blogger and book author who vehemently condemns feminism.

Last year, Lori Alexander wrote an explosive blog post about how men prefer debt free virgins without tattoos. Her comments about debt free virgins spawned lots of rebuttal blog posts and videos, including one by yours truly. I would link to my comments about Lori’s assertion that American men prefer debt free virgins without tattoos, but my old blog is currently on lockdown (ETA: I have since reposted those posts and you can find them through the tags for Lori Alexander). She’s written similarly ridiculous articles that people pay too much attention to, like the time she opined that women doctors are “ruining the medical profession” for taking med school spots from men and not staying home to spawn children. I’m sure many people follow her simply to ridicule her, but she also has her supporters.

I don’t pay a lot of mind to Lori Alexander myself. I only read her most ludicrous posts, and generally only when someone else links them. I find her writing style annoying and her ideas insulting and embarrassing, so I don’t give her much quarter. However, some of the things she says and writes are just so stupid that I can’t help but laugh. And since today is a rainy Friday morning, I figured I’d share Mr. Atheist’s hilarious take on The Transformed Wife’s commentary on shows like The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie. Are you ready for this, y’all? Lori Alexander condemns these two classic, family friendly shows from the 70s and 80s as promoting feminism!


I enjoyed Mr. Atheist’s enthusiastic and entertaining comments on Lori Alexander’s comments about those nasty G rated TV shows of yore. I decided to subscribe to his channel. This morning, I’m listening to Mr. Atheist’s August video about Lori Alexander’s thoughts on birth control. She HATES it. She thinks everyone should be having huge families, even if they are not prepared to take care of children. She says children are “blessings from God”, and that before birth control, women knew that their purpose in life was to have children. Well jeez, I guess my life has been wasted.

So get down on your back, spread your legs, and get to babymaking, you childless JEZEBELS! (for the clueless, this is NOT what I actually believe)

Lori is also an anti-vaxxer, claiming that vaccines are FULL of toxic chemicals. It doesn’t surprise me that she says these things, since she is anti-education, especially for women. She seems to believe that a woman’s main purpose is to pump out babies and keep house. However, the science behind vaccinations is solid and has been around for centuries. Don’t want to take the newest ones that don’t have many decades of proven success in preventing communicable diseases? Alright. But children in 2019 should not be getting the measles and dying of encephalitis. Children of 2019 should not have to worry about deadly or crippling diseases like polio, rabies, whooping cough, or rubella. Children who cannot be vaccinated due to their age or health concerns should not have to worry about getting sick because they are exposed to unvaccinated children who have been exposed to communicable diseases that could have been prevented through immunization.

Anyway… although I didn’t take the time to listen to Lori Alexander’s videos, I like Mr. Atheist’s thoughts on her nonsense. I especially like him because he is an ex Mormon and ex Mormons are some of my favorite people. They’re usually brave, smart, and have good taste in books and music. On another note, Mr. Atheist apparently had some technical difficulties on the “birth control” video and Lori sounds kind of like Foamy the Squirrel of the “Neurotically Yours” cartoons. Check him out.

This is still a classic. I think Foamy’s thoughts on life are more valuable than Lori Alexander’s.

I also like that Mr. Atheist came up with the word, “vagenda”. I think I’m going to incorporate that into my daily language. I’ll take a minute to think about the parts of my body that make me female and create a “vagenda”… but my vagenda will not include vaginal steaming, because according to Dr. Jen Gunter OB-GYN, and author of The Vagina Bible, vaginal steaming is a waste of time and potentially dangerous. Yes… I will listen to Jen Gunter over Gwyneth Paltrow any day. And I will listen to voices of reason like Mr. Atheist over religious quacks like Lori Alexander any day. Check out Mr. Atheist’s YouTube channel if you have a chance. He’s pretty good, even if he does have a habit of over pronouncing words like “button” and “important”.


I’ve been on another one of my 7th Heaven kicks lately. I don’t know why, but I really get a charge out of watching that show, even though it also makes me want to throw things at the screen. 7th Heaven was supposed to be a Christian values family friendly kind of show. However, look at the cast and you’ll find that some of the actors have kind of headed in the direction of the Diff’rent Strokes cast. Stephen Collins, who played the annoyingly sanctimonious and irritating Revered Eric Camden, was outed as a pervert back in 2014.


I am now at the part of the series in which Revered Chandler Hampton, played by Jeremy London, shows up. His character is wholesome, wise, and handsome. And yet, he and his twin brother, Jason London, are also no strangers to law enforcement. Jeremy London was arrested for domestic violence and did some time in rehab. Jason London, who guest starred in an episode about the evils of smoking, got busted at a club, was arrested, and crapped his pants in the back of a police car.

But these incidents are not what is prompting commentary about 7th Heaven today. Back in 2000, Stephen Collins was still a very bankable actor, as well as a hack author (seriously, I read his horrible novels– definitely not RevCam material, but truly awful), and wannabe musician (Pat Boone’s record label released his warbling). Collins also did some acting for video games, notably for a game called Code Blue, which was developed by a company called Legacy Interactive. I happened to be a big fan of Legacy’s interactive video games pertaining to health care, and they had quite a few of them 20 years ago. At the time, I was in graduate school earning my master’s degrees in public health and social work. I found healthcare interesting, and since I had no social life, I would sometimes kill my free time by playing games on the computer.

Yesterday, I went searching for the game, Code Blue, which had so helpfully killed my limited free time in the year 2000. Lo and behold, I found someone’s uploaded video of Stephen Collins playing Dr. Matt Clark on Code Blue. You know who else was on that game? Ann Dowd! That’s right, Aunt Lydia of The Handmaid’s Tale was the nurse in that game! At first, I thought she was Felicity Huffman, mainly due to the hair. The late Kathryn Joosten, who was on Desperate Housewives, was also a player. I am impressed by the level of star power Legacy Interactive invited to this classic game.

Aunt Lydia and RevCam in a hospital setting!

I miss these kinds of games. I waste too much time and money on pay to play games these days. Even The Sims 4 isn’t doing it for me lately. And yes… although Collins wasn’t outed as a pervert back in 2000, I found him just as irritating and wooden on this video game as I did on 7th Heaven. But some people are so annoying they’re entertaining.

Here’s a link to Dr. Jen Gunter’s book, which I will probably purchase myself at some point.