Thursday, December 31, 2009

Coming Attractions--2010 enters with fireworks!

    by KJ Howe

    Happy 2010 everyone!!! To kick off this auspicious year, let’s indulge in fireworks, streamers, horns, champagne, and a chock-full schedule of phenomenal authors. Get your day-timers ready as you don’t want to miss any of our exciting guests:

    On January 4, Elizabeth Naughton will be visiting the lair. She will be talking with Trish (and everyone in Bandita-land) about the third in her Stolen series, Stolen Seduction.




    On Tuesday, 5th January, brilliant debut author Courtney Milan www.courtneymilan.com is Anna Campbell's guest. She'll be talking about her wonderful romance PROOF BY SEDUCTION!





    On January 6, Lair regular Barbara Monajem steps up to the plate for a chat that'll include her Harlequin Undone, Notorious Eliza.

    On Thursday, 7th January, Anna Campbell hosts fantastic historical writer Beverley Kendall www.beverleykendall.com who will be discussing her debut book SINFUL SURRENDER.






    On Jan. 8, Trish is hosting Helen Scott Taylor, whose second novel, The Phoenix Charm, comes out in January. It's a story filled with fairies, water nymphs, and other magical creatures.

    On Jan. 9, Trish is hosting MJ Fredrick, whose latest romantic adventure, Breaking Daylight, will be out from Samhain on Jan. 5. It's a story of a sexy Special Forces hero and a beautiful woman whose been held prisoner by a drug lord, and their life-and-death trek through a South American jungle.





    On January 12, RITA winner Catherine Mann joins us with Renegade, the third novel in her action-packed Dark Ops series from Berkley Sensation.

    On January 13, Kensington Author Carrie Lofty visits The Lair to discuss her new historical release Scoundrel's Kiss.






    On January 19, Misa Ramirez will be guesting with JoMama. She'll be talking about her second book in her Lola Cruz series, Hasta la Vista, Lola!










    On January 21, author and writing teacher Mary Buckham joins us to discuss creativity.

    On January 26, Blaze author Kathleen O'Reilly joins us with RT Top Pick and great New Year's story Midnight Resolutions.




    On January 29, bestselling author NYT Bestselling author Vicki Lewis Thompson will be hosted by Suz!!!


    There we have it…although I’m sure there’ll be a few other surprises thrown in to spice up our intro to 2010. Happy New Years from all the Banditas!!! I have the pleasure of giving away the first prize of 2010, a $10 (to celebrate the year!) gift certificate from Barnes and Noble. All you have to do is tell us what New Years resolution you won’t make because you know you won’t keep it. The most entertaining answer wins!



    Now, we also want to celebrate big moments for the Banditas—one of our lovely of our Australian contingent, Anna Campbell, has just received the gorgeous Australian edition of CAPTIVE OF SIN. It's a lovely trade paperback that isn’t available overseas so she thought she'd share the joy. TWO people can choose which of Anna's four books they’d like to receive in the bigger version so the prize is a signed copy of either CLAIMING THE COURTESAN, UNTOUCHED, TEMPT THE DEVIL or CAPTIVE OF SIN. All you have to do is email Anna on anna@annacampbell.info with the title of her June 2010 release. You might find the answer in January’s Latest News. http://www.annacampbell.info/latest.html For more information, please visit Anna's contest page: http://www.annacampbell.info/contest.htmlSource URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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The Brain Fails Me


    It's fucking cold.

    I mean it's tremendously cold. Temperatures are down to the twenties and the windchill brings it down to the single digits. That's fucking cold. That's very cold. I get up and get ready. It's 8:00am and I've awoke with enough time to get to Metropolitan Hospital. The thought of braving the cold makes it an uphill journey. I wonder how I'm going to walk my blocks today. I get outside and down the hall to my building, waiting for the elevator when a woman comes down the stairs, grumbles and approaches me.

    I frown. What am I going to have to do this morning, stomp a grown woman to the floor this morning? Where am I going to hide her crumpled body? I take a defensive posture. She walks right past me, pressing the elevator button. "Shit!" She exclaims. "It's not lighting up!" Referring to the elevator buttons. She is right. She returns to the stairs and I follow. The elevator is out of order. I walk downstairs with this vituperous old bitch, venting a stream of invectives all the way down from the Eighth floor.

    I get outside and I'm hit by a blast of air so cold that it fuses my balls together, because I go through life now commando. Yeah, my weather testers are my two little testes, and they said that they didn't like today. Fuck. I knuckle under the wind and head to the bus which is pulling into the corner the minute that I get there. It takes something like eight minutes to get across town and the bus lets me off right in front of the hospital. How do you like that for convenience? I head on into the confusion, lobbies filled with milling people, nurses and doctors walking about, people pushing people in wheelchairs. Organized confusion.

    I walk over to a guard station and ask for directions to the Mental Health depart- ment. Easy directions. I'm there in minutes. They give me a number, 12, and tell me to take a seat in a near empty waiting room. I sit here watching television until my number is called. They take my information, take my urine, take my vitals, give me a health review, and then back to the waiting room where the minute that I sit down does the psychiatrist call me into a room. I cop a squat and we talk. The usual mental interview. Do I want to kill anybody? Do I want to kill myself? What orifice on a woman do I like to fuck? No! Just kidding with the last one.

    He finally sits back after a battery of questions. He is not going to change my drugs. I seem to be doing pretty good on them. Little does he know that I'm doing much better without them, save for the side effects of withdrawal. I chose not to tell him this because I don't want to eat my hat and have to go back on them again. That would not be fun. I hear where a lot of mental patients, thinking that they are normal, stop taking their meds, only to make things worse for them. I'm taking a big risk, but I think I can handle it. Let's see. I am escorted back to the waiting room, and I wait another minute for the director and the psychiatrist to invite me into a room.

    This time she goes through some practice relaxation techniques that I find imme- diately helpful. I stay with then, learning these for another ten minutes, and I'm finally released to return to my own life. While walking out I find an eye doctor, and I go in and make an appointment. Everything in the coming weeks.

    I hit the driving cold again. There is a bus right outside waiting for me. I take it back to Broadway, and then I strike down the avenue for my walk. I get no further than two blocks when a gust of cold blows this idea right out of my mind. I mean clear out. It is just THAT cold in Manhattan today. I head home, read emails and kill time. Tonight is the big reading at La Pregunta. I'm nodding off in my chair. I get tired and crawl into bed. No sooner do I drop off does the doorbell ring. I frown. The doorbell? I rise, open the door. On the other side are two of my counselors from the box. I am surprised to see them. I am in fact amazed. All smiles, they want to know what I'm doing, how things are. I am too ashamed. I'm not dressed and my room is a mess or I'd have them in. They said that it was okay, they were giving me my final check up. Did I like everything here? I had finally reached my year, and they were going to close the book on me. A Year? Already? Shit.

    This was it. They bade me farewell and good luck. I was both frightened and sad. They turned, knocked on Paula's door, and I closed mine. Damn. I'm on my own now. I wonder what did that mean? Would I be manhandled now by the people of the Spot, now that the watchers over me from the Box were gone? Would things go neglected? Would I be treated roughly like a cougar in a boys camp?

    Would this spell a turning of the screw? Would things now fall apart for me? I wonder. My year with them is over just as 2009 draws to a close. There is something about this that is interesting. What does the New Year hold? We are at the brink of 2010. I want to go small, to shrink, to find a corner of my room and withdraw. I want to stay home.

    There is a spark. I jump up. Get dressed. Leave.

    HobobobSource URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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A Year End Digression: An Enthusiastical Ode To My Current Heroine

    Oh, boy. I'm not sure I should do this but I feel as if I have no choice. It's time to admit it to the whole world. I want everyone to know.

    I have got it bad for Lady Gaga. Woah, woah, woah!! Don't misconstrue! I've got it bad for her musically. Okay? Musically. I am so infatuated with Lady Gaga's music that my Christmas Letter this year to friends & family centered entirely around her and her performance of her song "Paparazzi" on Saturday Night Live this fall which was without question the greatest song/performance I have seen in ages. (My Christmas Letters, obviously, do not subscribe to the typical sort of bippity bop yuletide correspondence.) That song saved me in ways I will not delve into on this blog. But it did. Believe me. I cherish it whole heartedly.

    I'm reasonably certain a dude is not "supposed" to like Lady Gaga so much. I do not care. I bite my thumb at society's conventions. As I have repeatedly stated, good music is good music. Game over.

    And yet...I do not like Lady Gaga's debut album "The Fame". I think "Just Dance" is complete crap. I'm sorry, but I do. I think "LoveGame" and "Poker Face" are a potpourri of nothin' special. (No, I don't care whether or not the lyrics are subversive because music is mainly about, you know, the music and the music on these tracks just doesn't inspire me. It's all too calculated, too constricted. Dance music is like wine. Gotta swirl it around the glass to get out those ethers, man. "The Fame" doesn't swirl, it doesn't even let the bottle breathe.)

    Except, of course, for "Paparazzi", which I'm wild about - the chorus in particular. The chorus of "Paparazzi" is so good I would willingly sacrifice a goat to the music gods, if that's what they wanted, to pay tribute to it.

    That said, the album version of "Paparazzi" does not hold a grapefruit twist scented candle to the aforementioned version Lady Gaga performed on Saturday Night Live which was when my love for her burgeoned. The SNL version is done with a real backing band which lends it so much more, shall we say, gravitas. It is thicker, fuller, richer. It is effing beautiful. Rock and roll, as I said in my Christmas Letter, in its truest, purest, finest form. It is everything I want in a song. Every....thing. I cannot express it enough.

    And now I can see it was the marble paved bridge to her follow up EP, which I only recently purchased, "The Fame Monster". O holy night, what a revelation this EP is. "The Fame" was a mission statement. "The Fame Monster" is a manifesto. It's an artist saying, Okay, I got myself into the limelight with the first one. People know me. I've got "The Fame". Now it's time to make the music I want to make. Get outta my way!!!

    This is no play for the charts. This is not the work of someone merely trying to maintain relevance until her next full length album. These are not the sounds of someone who seeks only stardom. "The Fame Monster" is Lady Gaga firing her guns across the water to announce her intentions. This is a eurodancetrash blitz, the work of a potential visionary. This seems to be a classic case of an artist trying to find her footing on album one and then finding the unbelievable hell out of it on album two.

    Yeah, yeah, the influences are both plentiful and obvious. Well, duh. What do you think rock and roll is? It's Kurt Cobain trying to rip off The Pixies. It's John Lennon trying to sound like Chuck Berry. It's The Stones copying The Beatles' every move. It's Springsteen borrowing every sound he'd ever heard for four minutes and thirty seconds on "Born to Run". It's A Tribe Called Quest getting crucial assistance from Lou Reed in order to ask if they may or may not be able to kick it. "The Fame Monster" is an amalgamation of the sounds and styles Lady Gaga adores and it all adds up to something that is entirely, distinctly, and beautifully her own.

    The heavily-Abba influenced "Alejandro" is the closest Her Gaganess has come thus far to planting her flag in Kylie country, so long as Kylie chose to paint herself up in black mascara ("don't wanna kiss - don't wanna touch - just want my cigarette...hush" - THOSE are lyrics, boys and girls!). "Speechless" is a modern day Benatar power ballad as if it were sung in a grimy piano bar by Beth Hart at her most nicotine ravaged. Being who I am I never considered a song using the words "Dance in the Dark" could be as stupendous as another song by a certain someone with those words in the title but, damn, Lady Gaga did it. Sweet mercy, she did, and she did it while also including a pronounced homage to Madonna's "Vogue" in the middle. It soars in a way just about all American dance music doesn't (i.e. it swirls the bejeezus outta the wine). "Monster" is like getting a Bacardi Mojito IV drip from a nurse in drag.

    And "Bad Romance"? O.M.F.G. "Bad Romance" is a gothic, pile driving opera of musical magnificence. It churns, it throbs, it lays waste to the surrounding woodlands. It punches you in the face with the best intentions and leaves you with a gaping wound of ecstasy. Lookie here, hombre, I don't give a two dollar fiddle about voices that are always on pitch or note perfect. If you want that kinda crap go listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I want a voice with some personality. I want shrieks and sneers and agitated warbling tucked right up against the border of a breakdown. I want the way Lady Gaga breathes fire on "Bad Romance".

    (Unfortunately, the last three tracks on the EP pale in comparison, a fact which might speak more to the astonishing sustained remarkability of the initial quintet than anything else. Or to the presence of Beyonce. One man's opinion, of course, but Ms. Knowles is not worthy of the same recording studio as Our Lady Of Perpetual Gaga.)

    I really could not care less about Lady Gaga's assorted costumes and wigs and personas and novel brassieres and her intellectual and/or pseudo intellectual musings and her Roman Empire-sized videos and the coolest Keytar since Rick Wakeman (or, at the very least, Planet BOOM!!!) or whether certain ridiculous rumors are true. Not that I begrudge her for any of these things. Not in the slightest. God bless her for all of it. She can do whatever she wants and she knows what she's doing. She's got everyone talking. The volume on her savvy speaker clearly goes to eleven. But grandiloquent music is all I crave and it's grandiloquent music which Lady Gaga provides to my lucky, lucky ears. It's why right here, right now, she is my heroine.

    Forget Time Magazine and Ben Bernanke. Chairman of the Federal Reserve? Ooooooh...like that's some cool job. Nope. Stuff a sock in it, Bernanke. terhand doel hereby names Lady Gaga as 2009 Person of the Year. Now, everyone, sing it with me!

    Rah rah!
    ah ah ah ah!
    Roma roma ma ma!
    Ga ga
    ooh la la!


    Again!!!

    Rah rah!
    ah ah ah ah!
    Roma roma ma ma!
    Ga ga
    ooh la la!


    Again!!!

    (Postscript: It should be noted that through a most fortuitous series of events in just the last 24 hours I have landed a precious ticket at face value to Ms. Gaga's sold out live spectacle next weekend at the Rosemont Theater. Glory, glory hallelujah. I mean, really, scoring a Lady Gaga ticket the exact same day my beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers annihilate Arizona in the Holiday Bowl to such a degree I actually had my victory scotch while the game was still in progress? As my friend Dave so eloquently put it, my 2010 didn't start on January 1. It started on December 30, 2009.)Source URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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Happy New Year!

Real Lashes

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Things At Which I Suck

    by Susan Sey

    Brace yourselves. This could be a long list.

    Oh, fine. It's New Year's Eve. You probably have somewhere fabulous to be. I'll give you the abridged version. I need to be snoozing on the couch by 9 p.m. anyway.


    Top Three Things At Which I Am Not Very Good:

    1. Sales.
    2. Synopses
    3. Salads

    (Sidenote: I never realized all the stuff I'm bad at started with an S. Huh. At least my awfulness is alliterative

    I'll take them in reverse order

    Salads: Yeah, it's embarassing but I can't made a salad. I think it's because I used to be a vegetarian. (FYI for all those steakhouses out there? You can take a pile of wilted iceberg lettuce, drown it in ranch dressing and call it dinner, but that doesn't make it so.) I suffered through enough of those iceberg disasters to have developed a knee-jerk aversion to the very concept of salad-as-dinner, & sadly cannot to this day make a proper salad. My heart just isn't in it. So if you ever invite me to a potluck, please understand. I'm not bringing salad, & if you force me into it, you'll be disappointed. Sorry.


    Synopses: I can't write short to save my life. My hat is off to all you category writers out there because you ladies know how to tell a tight story. It's like poetry, where every word is perfectly chosen & pulls its weight. This is a skill I dearly wish I had but even my emails run into the hundreds of words. My grocery lists span two pages because I editorialize. ("Yellow onions. Sweet if you can find them. Not the white ones. Too strong! Not purple--funny color...") It's just that--okay, I'm cutting myself off because at this point, I'm only demonstrating the problem

    Sales: My dad is a sales guy. He can talk to anybody. He can sell anything. He loves this work & he's wonderful at it. Apparently this isn't a hereditary talent because I get hives when I have to call the babysitter. (In case you were wondering, she's a thirteen year old girl, and I want to give her money. How hard could it be? But it's still calling up somebody who might have to tell me no, however kindly. It's torturous and I hate it.)

    So here's my problem: I have a book coming out this summer. It's my first one & I'm deliriously happy about it. Or I would be if I didn't have to sell the damn thing.

    Self-promotion. Another S word at which I suck.

    There' s a lot of pressure on debut authors these days. In addition to writing a great book, you also have to have a great website. It should have fresh content all the time & offer lots of extra ways for readers to connect with you & your characters.

    You should blog. A lot. Everywhere. You should be witty and warm and find ways to gently promote your work without coming off as a user who only dropped in to plug her book

    You should do book signings and hold launch parties--things that involve walking into book stores, asking to speak (gulp) with the manager (who you don't know from adam,) and convincing him/her that you have enough friends & family to justify ordering a few copies of your book.

    You will be required to print up bookmarks, postcards and a slew of adorable, charming, book-inspired tchotchkes (I'm drawing a complete blank on that one, by the way). They'll need to be distributed to any breathing person you might encounter for at least six months prior to your release date.

    You'll need to make up a press packet, then call up a bunch of print journalists (gulp), radio announcers (gulp), and TV journalists (GULP) to see if they want to interview you. This is a) calling strangers and b) asking them to participate in your discomfort. The classic double whammy. Ouch.

    Oh, & you'll definitely want to purchase some incredibly expensive ad space in each of half a dozen magazines.

    And if you don't do even one of these things?

    YOUR BOOK WILL FAIL, AND YOU WILL NEVER SELL ANOTHER THING AS LONG AS YOU LIVE. NOT UNDER THAT NAME, ANYWAY.

    {pant, pant}

    Okay, so maybe it's not that bad. Is it? Oh, lord, I feel a panic attack coming on. Is that a hive? Right there? On my neck? Oh god. I feel faint. Somebody hold me.

    Clearly, I need help here. Besides writing a darn good book, what do you like to see an author do? Is it the blogging? The signings? The website? The ads? Is it accessibility? Is it a sparkling personality? And what turns you OFF? Is there anything an author could do (or fail to do) that would make you turn up your nose and toss their book (no matter how good) into the garbage disposal?

    p.s. Oh crap. I forgot to mention my title, my release date or my publisher. Sheesh. I told you I was bad at this. Okay, take two. Ready?

    Look for Money Honey by Susan Sey in July of 2010 from Berkley Sensation!

    Whew. How'd I do?Source URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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Time and I are Not Friends


    I wake up at 7:30.

    And don't know how the fuck I do that. I just fell asleep. I look up at the clock on the microwave, my vision blurry. I can't believe the time. I think to move, but the other eye strays to the window. It is fucking dark out. I have no money. I have four dollars to my name, and I somehow have to get the money for subway fare uptown to La Pregunta tomorrow evening. Now I have to walk across town in the twilight morning to get to the Metropolitan Hospital.

    I don't have bus fare. Fuck this. I have to walk in the near dark through Central Park, not a straight path, through barren trees, flora and fauna. Up and down hills, through damp tunnels and over rough bridges, along winding paths, just to get across it. That's just asking for trouble. I can't be robbed because I have no money but I can be sodomized at gunpoint, and that probably won't go to well with me, causing my dinosaur brain to either fight or flight. Translation: A bullet in the stomach, chest, or in the back, depending on which direction I take.

    Not a cheery thought for the morning. I'll have to think of something. But while I'm thinking of all this the clock ticks along to the next second, which when I blink my eyes, is 10:30. I drifted off into a stone cold sleep so quick that I wasn't even aware of it. I roll over, blink my eyes, fondle myself. Why? Because it's there. I sit up. I am tired. I did not get enough sleep last night. I put on some coffee, have a slice of cheese and sit in front of the computer. I send an email off to Charliqua Lovebiscuit, my social worker, if that's what you want to fucking call her. They have another multi-syllable name for her at WECARE. I send her an email telling her I just got up and missed the 8:30 appointment. I'll try again tomorrow. I could not sleep last night.

    There are no emails to me, not even from OBSIDIAN. We are supposed to touch base before Tuesday to plan to go to La Pregunta together for the Feature. If he doesn't get in touch with me, I'm going on my own. It's supposed to be a pretty big event. I am not hyped about it, but rather cool as a fan. It's like a job. Go in, think of the mission, get it done, get out. Then associate with the poets. Something that I have to work on. Something that I hope having less ABILIFY in my system will correct. I want to be sociable. I want to hang around and make new friends, new connections.

    The clock ticks on, I am no longer a part of time. It moves on without me. It marched to its own beat. It is no longer concerned with me, it never was. It never cared for me. It does nothing but make me older, deprives me of bodily functions like my kidneys, pancreas, dick, removes my teeth, bends my back, enfeebles my limbs. It doesn't give a fuck about me, it just wants to kill me. I say: 'go the fuck on ahead. Have at it. Do your best job bitch.'

    I get dressed, bundle up and hit the bricks. Cross the street, head down the avenue to 62nd street, turn around and come back. It feels just like that. I own these new muscles now. They work effortlessly in gouging out 72 blocks right out of the air. This is what I want. I want to keep adding and adding and adding, every day, day after day, pounding this body into shape. Hammer against anvil, fire and flame, molten steel versus alloyed metal. Forging this fat shit body into something attractive for the spring.


    The Hobo is back. The man that I was returneth. I come, I saw, I stayed. I look at myself in the mirror naked when I return. There is little change for a month of walking. Considering two hours of exercise daily is pretty good. It's better than nothing. It takes time for the body to shape and form. It doesn't take overnight to go from in shape to out of shape, neither does it take a month to do the same, unless you're on ABILIFY. That shit will put weight on you so fucking fast it will make your head spin on a top. Easy come, bend over and kiss the crack of your own ass, hard to go. I want to be in shape for the first time in a long while. I am not succumbing to the whims of a drug and it's loss of focus.

    ABILIFY had it's good side, it stopped the people from coming around. I kept the blondes from appearing and asking for directions just before disappearing. Shit I wish they made a habit of appearing, fuck like pornstars, THEN ask for directions before disappearing. Those would be good delusions. Nothing beats fucking a delusion. But no, these bitches appear and disappear. I think there were because of my drinking. Runaway alcoholism or the effects thereof compounded by continued heavy drinking. NALTREXONE solved that. I drink heavily no longer. So what the FUCK do I need to still take ABILIFY for? My bi-polar medications were making me...fucking bi-polar.

    Now I find that there were other things that happened to me while under the influence of ABILIFY, more insidious, more crafty. Shorting out my attention span, increasing my sensitivity, lengthening my focus, warping my perception. It was raising havoc with my mind. I held on desperately on who I was, and I guess it was this internal force of self-realization that kept me from flying apart, from running down the street naked, with my cock in my hand, showing it off to all the pretty women walking down Broadway.

    When returning home, I go to Duane Reade. Something tells me that there is money in my account today, and damn straight, there is. $80.00!!! When you have no money, this is a kings fortune. I'm going to use $10.00 to by food, and the other to get my ass across town to the Metropolitan Hospital in the morning. No strolling through the park, looking to be knifed or shot. I love it when shit works out in my favor.

    I am still tired after my walk, I jump into bed and close my eyes, drifting right off to sleep, vanishing from the face of the world, ceasing to exist for two hours. When I awake I get back behind the computer and read email and blog. There again is no one out there, no one sending emails, no one contacting me, other than DJ. So I shouldn't say no one now should I? I mean the number of emails has dropped for some reason. Probably people are celebrating the holidays still, unlike me, unlike the real Scrooge.

    Tomorrow is the Metropolitan Hospital.

    I wonder what that shit is going to be like?

    HobobobSource URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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The Shining


    On Monday evening, Alex convinced me that it was a good idea for us to turn off all the lights and watch The Shining. Needless to say, I totally freaked out and had to check under the bed before going to sleep that night (seriously) (I'm 30). So, yesterday, Alex showed me this hilarious spoof trailer from 2006, which makes the movie look like a romantic comedy. I was dying laughing. Now that's more my speed.

    Do you like scary movies?Source URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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Four Christmases

    What is wrong with me? Can anyone answer this question? Do you have a solid theory? Why was I so desperate to see "Four Christmases"? I have wanted to see it for over a year, knowing full well it got absolutely slammed by critics. It didn't matter. In fact, my friend Trish and I had planned on seeing it at the luxurious Yorktown Cinema on the outskirts of Chi-town where you actually sit down to a meal while watching the movie. The high life, baby! Our schedules never meshed and it didn't happen. Tragedy averted. Except the instant "Four Christmases" became available on Netflix last month I moved it to #1 in the queue.

    Alas, the last three weeks it has remained there as its expected availability has not wavered from: Very Long Wait. This should have been a sign, right? Don't watch it, Nick. DON'T WATCH IT. Why in the last couple weeks I've had friends tell me explicitly not to watch it because it was so awful. So what did I do? Fed up that it wasn't coming from Netflix I purchased for $5 from cable pay per view.

    Like I was saying, what is wrong with me?

    Yeah, it's bad. No hiding it. Vince Vaughn is Brad and Reese Witherspoon is Kate. They are in love but not married. They dislike their families - each of their parents is divorced - to such extremes they refuse to spend Christmas with them and are set to jet off to festive Fiji for the holidays. Fog rolls in. Flights are grounded. And, sure enough, Brad and Kate have a whole day to revel in "Four Christmases".

    We can assume the families will provide "outlandish" comic entertainment: Brad's brother (Jon Favreau) is a cage fighter and his mom (Sissy Spacek) is dating his ex-best friend and Kate's mom (Mary Steenburgen) has apparently found God via Pastor Phil (Dwight Yoakum, what a waste of casting!). We can also assume Brad and Kate will learn over the course of the day that perhaps they do want a committed relationship, though, of course, first Brad will have to decline this proposition, Kate will have to sulk, and Brad will return, triumphantly.

    All this is handled with the smallest amount of grace. Babies throwing up and a friendly game gone awry (uh, Vince, you already did that in "The Break Up", remember?) and Vince Vaughn unsusccessfully attempting to install a satellite dish (gee, do you think he'll fall off the roof?! Heaven only knows!) does not precisely spell c-o-m-e-d-y. Even worse is the attempts at seriousness injected into the hijinks. This is what they go through to get to a deeper place in their relationship? Forgive me, but I'm not buying it.

    It's sad to watch and it's sad because, well, I've always found Vince Vaughn to be a comedic actor extraordinaire. His verbal assault on the airline stewardess in "Made" is one of the funniest things I've ever seen in a movie. His best moments in "Wedding Crashers" aren't merely monologues, they are Shakespearean soliloquies of hilarity. Even in the worst of his movies he is good for at least a couple of laugh-out-loud lines. ("I'll call some guys from my neck of the woods. And we're not talking about about a couple queens who know a few grapples. We're talking about Polacks that don't have a goddamn future.") Yes, even in "Four Christmases". His spiel about his childhood resembling "The Shawshank Redemption" and his questioning Kate "Are you throwing eighties songs at me?" both made me laugh. So why does resort to this sort of dreck?

    I remember reading prior to the release of "The Break Up" that he said he wasn't responding to any of the romantic comedy scripts being sent to him and so he decided to develop one on his own. He was a producer on "The Break Up" and he was also a producer on "Four Christmases", on "Fred Claus", and on "Couples Retreat". These are the sorts of romantic comedies he responds to?

    A couple years ago, in the wake of "Knocked Up", David Denby penned an article for The New Yorker regarding the current state of romantic comedies. In it he said the following: "Vince Vaughn, in some of his recent roles, has displayed a dazzling motormouth velocity, but he has never worked with an actress who can keep up with him. Rosalind Russell keeps up with (Cary) Grant (in "His Girl Friday"). These two seize each other’s words and throw them back so quickly that their dialogue seems almost syncopated. Balance between the sexes here becomes a kind of matched virtuosity more intense than sex."

    I think I had this desire to see "Four Christmases" because I secretly wanted to believe Reese Witherspoon could keep up with Vince Vaughn. She doesn't but it's mainly because she's never given the chance. The writers (Matt Allen & Caleb Wilson and Jon Lucas & Scott Moore, burgeoning Noah Baumbachs every one) would rather have babies projectile vomit on her. There is no true verbal sparring in the movie. Why is this? Is it because filmmakers presume to know "what the people want" and that it's atrocious sight gags? Can rom com writers just not craft decent dialogue? Or are there really no actresses that can keep up with Vince Vaughn? (If only Jenna Maroney was a real person. I bet she could.)

    Pardon me, Vince, if I throw an eighties song at you. (Okay, an October 1979 song. Close enough.) It goes like this: "Sending out an S.O.S." Someone has gotta help you, Vince, or, more importantly, some filmmaker has to challenge you. Get you off cruise control, place you in a movie where you getting pummeled and falling off roofs isn't the main source of laughter, present you a leading lady who can not only keep up with you but help convince the audience you're undergoing some real change.

    We need to save you, Vince, we need to save you from yourself.Source URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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Cheap Nick Jonas State Theatre Tickets

    Hey Nick Jonas fans!! Ticket King has some *GREAT* news for you!! Nick Jonas and The Administration will be coming to the State Theatre in Minneapolis on Thursday, January 21st at 7:30pm. The best part? We've got some AMAZING deals on Nick Jonas tickets right now, with balcony seats starting at just $50 each (below face value!!!) and floor seats starting at just $75 each. If you'd like to attend the show, grab your tickets now before they're gone! With deals this great, they will not last long!Source URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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Home Inspiration: Frame Walls


    We're slowly but surely starting to put together a nursery (exciting!). I love the idea of having a frame wall, so the baby can look up from its crib and see all its loved ones smiling down on him or her. So, I think we're going to roll up our sleeves and make one! Here are two photos I'm using for inspiration. xo

    (Top photo by Todd Selby; bottom photo by Annie Schlechter/Domino)Source URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Put The Champagne On Ice


    What the fuck am I doing?

    Sunday, the sun rises. The sun sets. A charcoal line is drawn against the walls of my room, moving every hour, light into dark, day into night. Nothing makes noise, nothing stirs. I lay in bed, peeping at the world through one eye, hoping something cataclysmic befalls mankind to put some color in my world. There is nothing for me to do. I am insanely bored.

    I go into my bag and pull out the SHOUT OUT paperwork, going through it, going to the computer, keying in, typing up, sorting out, emailing. I am busy for but only a short period of time, but it's rewarding work. I finish. It's like a curtain falling. The dull ache that is my life returns. I sit back in my chair, staring at the computer screen. I fight back entropy with my mind. I read.

    I read old emails. I go back, reading me in the past. Reading how I responded to this stimulus, how I reacted to that one. I am surprised for some reason. This person, this ME is balanced, he's coherent, he's...whoa! But here he's out of control. What? I am teetering, obsessive, demanding, vindictive. Something is wrong. This is not me. Steeped in turmoil, confused, stunned, hurt, withdrawn, obsessive again. Raging here and there. I am not familiar with this person. I don't know who he is. He is out of balance, and yet, he is me.

    I stop reading. I can't take it anymore. The revelations are coming too quick. I see myself, through emails, withdrawing away from the poets, becoming more and more of a hermit, having less and less to say, declining more and more invitations until even they stop. I am engineering my world. I am building my tomb. I am creating my final resting place.

    I have to stop. In apology I write a number of long emails, that I do not mail. I blog old posts. I can't write this one. I am too deep in my own disbelief. I am not the man that I was before. ABILIFY is one powerful drug, almost too powerful. It has held my thinking tightly, crippling the soul but leaving the flesh to dance about. A cancer from within, unbeknownst to close friends, barely discernable to those even closer. My mind has been descending down a winding staircase, and in retrospect, I am staring in horror.

    I want my mind back! I want my thinking back! I am left with a blank slate, and the only way that I can find myself, the only way that I can refresh the memory, is through reading my old emails. Preferably those emails that were written before the introduction of the ABILIFY. I am in awe of the chemical and it's effect on the brain. I am in awe of the destruction and the recuperative abilities of the final frontier, the mind, specifically my mind.

    I am up late, very late, IMing. Talking, talking, talking. I am responding to stimuli, chatting with Betty, making a night out of it. I'm not tired. But I have to get up early in the morning and out and across town by 8:30 to the Metropolitan Hospital to search for a therapist. I need to get some sleep. I sign off, turn of the computer and crawl into bed. I lay there, staring at the ceiling. Something runs across my leg. I grope at it, my fingers come away with empty air. Something crawls up my back. I reach for it, finding nothing. I close my eyes and bugs are crawling all over me. I jump up out of bed, turn on the lights, search the sheets, tear them off to search the bed. Nothing. Nothing. I stand up naked into the light. There is nothing crawling on my body. I put everything back in order, crawl back into bed. I close my eyes. The maddening crawling returns. I toss, turn, slap, grope, jump from the bed and take a seat in front of the computer, turning it on, turning on the radio and stare at my screensaver scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, to music. The crawling is still going on, up and down my legs, up and down my arms, across my face, in my ears, around my back and balls.

    I am refusing to go crazy. It turns into four in the morning. My head nods. I am tired. I keep the computer on, the music going, to take my mind off my skin, and close my eyes. I drift off to a fitful sleep.

    HobobobSource URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2009/12/
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