Saturday, July 31, 2010

Coming Right Up....

    by Susan Sey

    BREAKING NEWS: Last night, our own fabulous BETH ANDREWS won the RITA Award in the Best Contemporary Series Romance category for her wonderful book A Not-So-Perfect Past. Congratulations, Beth!!! You can check out all the winners at the RWA National website. PARTY IN THE LAIR!!!

    August! Welcome home, all you RWA goers! I know you miss all your writing friends like crazy, so here's a little something to cheer you up: A preview of August's fantastic features!


    August 3: Donna MacMeans will host Heather Webber who'll be talking about her casting decisions for her latest release Deeply, Desperately.



    August 5: Nancy interviews Avon debut author Katherine Ashe about her dynamite historical, Swept Away by a Kiss.



    August 6: One of the Lair's favourite visitors, Eloisa James, returns to talk about fairy tales, Cinderella and her eagerly awaited book, A Kiss at Midnight.
    August 16: Best selling author Brenda Novak will return to the Lair with JoMama to discuss her new trilogy and answer questions most asked by her fans.




    WHITE HEAT releases on July 27 and Brenda's throwing a fabulous cyber-party to celebrate. Visit www.brendanovak.com for the deets. Her annual Auction fo Diabetes Research reached the one million mark this year!

    Also, Brenda's been nominated
    for a 2010 RITA for her ON A SNOWY CHRISTMAS. Congratulations! We're so fortunate to have her return to the Lair again!
    August 15: Trish Milburn's (or should I say Tricia Mills?) release party for her newest young adult novel, Winter Longing. Love Alaska? Love tales of first love? Books that twist your emotions like a dish cloth? This book has it all!




    August 19: Suzanne Ferrell brings Wendy Watson to chat with us about her second in the Murder A La Mode series, Scoop To Kill. Wendy and Suz will serve up some fun, mystery and maybe an ice cream or two in the hot summer fun!

    August 20: Tawny's release party


    August 27: Barbara Monjem returns to chat with Nancy about Tastes of Love and Evil, the second in her Bayou Gavotte paranormal romance series (which was also an unpubbed Maggie winner!)
    August 31: Grab a gladiator & a drink (not necessarily in that order) and get ready to get sinful as we celebrate Jeanne Adam's smokin' new release Deadly Little Sins!





    And warm up that lucky rabbit's foot, because we have contests, too!
    From Anna Campbell:


    Anna Campbell is giving away TWO Change of Season Reading Packs in her latest website contest. Each pack will include signed copies of MY RECKLESS SURRENDER by AnnaCampbell, SWEETEST LITTLE SIN by Christine WElls, IS MISTRESS FOR A MILLION by Trish Morey, THE GREEK'S CONVENIENT MISTRESS by Annie West, DARK DECEIVER by Pamela Palmer, and either DOES SHE DARE? or RISQUE BUSINESS by Tawny Weber. Just email Anna on anna@annacampbell.info and tell her one other book by each of these authors (the website links are on her contest page to make it easy) to go into the draw. For more information, please visit Anna's contest page.Source URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2010/07/
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Great Deals on Chris Isaak Tickets at The O'Shaughnessy

    Born in Stockton, California, Chris Isaak's musical career began when he signed a contract with Warner Bros. Records in 1984 and released his first album Silvertone. His best known song is "Wicked Game" which was released on the 1989 album Heart Shaped World. Chris Isaak has also done some acting and has appeared in numerous films and TV shows. His first film appearance was as a clown in the movie Married to the Mob. Since his debut, Chris Isaak has released a total of 14 albums and appeared on nine films and 13 television shows. Now is your chance to see him live at The O'Shaughnessy and get a GREAT deal on your Chris Isaak tickets from Ticket King!! The show is this Wednesday evening and we currently have tickets for just $95 a piece in the 8th row of the main floor! You won't find tickets this great anywhere else, especially not this close to the show. So get them now before they're gone!!
    Source URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2010/07/
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Friday, July 30, 2010

The BIG Awards Ceremony!

    posted by terhand doel

    Tonight's the night! Saturday night of RWA's National Conference is the BIG awards ceremony! This is the ceremony where romance writers honor their own with the Rita and Golden Heart awards, our industry's equivalent of the Oscars, Emmys, or Grammys.

    As you know, the Banditas were all finalists in the 2006 Golden Heart contest. That is where we "found" each other, and so this award has a very special place in all our hearts! In case you didn't know, the Golden Heart contest recognizes outstanding unpublished romance manuscripts in ten different categories. Up to 1200 entries are judged by members of RWA and are narrowed down to around 100 finalists. Editors from acquiring romance publishers judge the final round, and winners receive a beautiful pendant.

    This year, our Bandita KJ Howe is a finalist in the Contemporary Series Suspense/Adventure category. KJ is a fantastic writer and we are all pulling for her to be the BIG WINNER in her category tonight!

    Did you know the Rita award was named for RWA's first president Rita Clay Estrada? (Be sure to file that away for future trivia contests.) This award is for outstanding published romance novels and novellas and the contest has twelve categories. Once again, approximately 1200 entries are narrowed by judges to about 100 finalists. Winners receive a beautiful statuette much like an Oscar or Emmy.

    This year A Not-So-Perfect Past by our Bandita Beth Andrews is a Rita finalist in the Contemporary Series Romance category. So many of us Banditas and BBs LOVED Nina and Dillon's story and we will all be hoping that our Wonder-Beth will be the first Bandita to bring home the lovely Rita statue!

    There are many wonderful writers and books up for Golden Heart and Rita awards this year. By this time tomorrow, it will all be over and the winners will be announced. We'll get to see all the fabulous pictures and share the triumphs. But they are ALL WINNERS just to have been finalists!

    Awards are so much fun! We all deserve to win one once in awhile. For instance, Posh, Jo-Mama, and I, along with Lars, Marcus, Zach, and Paolo all deserve a "Holding-Down-The -Fort" award! What about you? What kind of award would you create and who would win it?Source URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2010/07/
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Thistles

Re-Evaluating Julianne Moore's Career

    (I originally published this post in the fall of 2008 and am re-posting it today as part of the Julianne Moore Acting School 101 over at the LAMB and compiled by fellow blogger, Big Thoughts From A Small Mind.)

    A recent email thread begun by my friend Daryl referenced the fact he had just seen "The Forgotten", a tepidly reviewed so-called thriller from several years ago. Our friend Brad had this to say in relation to said film: "Wait, 'The Forgotten'? I remember that movie! That was the crappy Julianne Moore movie where Nicolas Cage could see the future, right? No wait, it was the crappy Julianne Moore movie where everyone is blind but her, right. No? Was it the crappy Julianne Moore movie where she says a black man stole her baby and only Samuel L. Jackson can solve the case? Still no? Aliens, you say? Now I remember! It was the crappy Julianne Moore movie where she, Fox Mulder, Stifler, and the guy from the old 7-Up commercials fought off a wacky alien invasion. See, I knew I'd remember."

    This, as it must, got me to thinking.

    For most of the decade I have resolutely, and hyperbolically, referred to Kate Winslet as our finest working actress (she doubles as my favorite actress) and she still is, hands down. But in the late 90's if you'd asked me to name our finest working actress I probably would have told you Julianne Moore. So what happened to her? Where did it go wrong?

    When I think of Moore what jumps to the forefront are performances like adult film "actress" Amber Waves in Paul Thomas Anderson's "Boogie Nights" (for which she should have won the Oscar, but don't even get me started) and the 50's suburban housewife in "Far From Heaven" and....oh, how about I just do this instead?

    My Top 5 Favorite Julianne Moore Moments:

    5. I want to list 38 different moments from "Boogie Nights" so I'll just say the entire performance.
    4. Her unwittingly delivering the final come-uppance to Glenn Close's villain in "Cookie's Fortune" ("I did good, didn't I?").
    3. Her line reading of "The little Lebowski urban achievers, yes, and proud we are of all of them" in "The Big Lebowski". It's as funny as anything Will Ferrell's ever said.
    2. Her drugstore breakdown in "Magnolia." I remember almost fainting in the theater right after it ended.
    1. I want to list 72 different moments from her role as eternally moody Mia in "The Myth of Fingerprints" so I'll just say the entire performance.


    She started in soap operas and had to survive some dreck in the early part of her career to get to that point in the 90's when she was hitting every performance out of the park. But was she? Did I remember all this wrong? As Brad pointed out, she's been involved with some unstellar cinema. Maybe I was just looking at the good stuff and turning a blind eye to the bad. Thus, to IMDB I went where a persual of Ms. Moore's filmography brought to light some interesting facts.


    Yes, in 1993 she delivered her famous naked-from-the-waist-down monologue (Julianne has never been shy about nudity) in Robert Altman's "Short Cuts" but the same year she also starred in the notorious Madonna flop "Body of Evidence". Yes, in 1995 she gave a memorable turn in Todd Haynes' indie film "Safe" but the same year she also starred in "Nine Months" with Hugh Grant and (gulp) Tom Arnold. Yes, in 1997 she was in the aforementioned stone cold classic "Boogie Nights" but she also starred in "The Lost World: Jurassic Park". Yes, she had a particularly fine 1999 in which she earned an Oscar nod for "End of the Affair" and offered the exemplary supporting work in "Cookie's Fortune", my favorite Altman film, but the next year she could be glimpsed in the Saturday Night Live spin-off (gulp) "The Ladies Man" and the following year in the unfortunate "Silence of the Lambs" follow-up "Hannibal" and "Evolution" (the movie Brad noted was about a "wacky" alien invasion and the guy from the old 7-Up commercials).

    Still, it gets weirder. In 2002 she offered the slam-bang double-duo of "Far From Heaven" (Best Actress Oscar nod) and "The Hours" (Best Supporting Actress Oscar Nod) only to disappear for a year and return to action in 2004 with not-so-slam-bang double-duo of the Pierce Brosnan rom-com "Laws of Attraction" and the aforementioned "The Forgotten" (both a looooong way from any Oscar nods). Yes, in 2006 she was in "Children of Men" but the same year she was also in the flop "Freedomland". Yes, in 2007 she was in "I'm Not There" but she was also in the flop "Next".

    It is a disturbing pattern, and a pattern which, alas, I had fooled myself into thinking had only begun recently.


    I understand not every actress can be the esteemed Ms. Winslet. No, Kate hasn't been in a lot of box office hits (except for, you know, the biggest box office hit of all time) but she has not had a lot of flops, either. Maybe "The Life of David Gale", but she was still good (which really is saying something when you consider her character's name was Bitsey Bloom). Her choices are almost universally risky and interesting. She's never fallen victim to the terrible formula of one serious role/one safe role of which Ms. Moore appears to have fallen prey to from the beginning. And you know what? It's finally caught up to her. It's starting to taint her legacy.

    In that regard she's a little like Al Pacino. What, you thought Al was just churning out films like "The Godfather" and "Dog Day Afternoon" back in the day? Don't you remember "Bobby Deerfield"? "Author, Author"? "Revolution"? No. You didn't. Just like I didn't remember Ms. Moore turning up in the Sylvester Stallone vehicle "Assassins". But Al has continued to take schlocky roles and now people are starting to notice. His legacy is acquiring some unwanted tarnish. Even during her best period Ms. Moore wasn't at the level of what Pacino was back in the 70's (few have been) but the comparison is still apt.

    Perhaps I'm out of line. Julianne has a family. She has kids to feed. I respect that. A lot of her indie work probably doesn't pay the bills. But it's also a damn shame to see an actress with so much talent so consistently fail to utilize it. In an interview Daniel Day Lewis once said the following, "Probably one of the reasons why I stay away from (making movies) for long periods of time is because I am still idealistic about acting." I'm not saying Julianne needs to take 5 years between roles but I can't imagine someone as gifted as her got into acting to make "Laws of Attraction". She's got ideals, right? If so, I really wish she would stay true to them more often.Source URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2010/07/
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Have a happy weekend (+ Bachelorette finale on Monday!)

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Your Summer Movie Moment Of Zen

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Campouts and Sleepovers

    by Jo Robertson


    My daughter emailed me the other weekend with this note:

    Hey, do you wanna know what my kids are doing? Sleeping on the trampoline!! I remember how FUN that was as a kid. At OTHER people’s houses of course, since we never had one. It was so exciting!

    Their cousins are spending the night, for a total of five children, but kids these days have NO idea how to have a sleepover.


    Corinna, eleven, said, “Hey Mom. Did you charge the DVD player so we could watch movies?”

    I said, “Hell no!” Actually I didn’t say Hell but you get the idea.

    I told them they have no idea how to do a camp out. First, they need to get some flashlights and junk food. Then they start telling stories until someone is scared and wants to come in.

    This story got me thinking about sleepovers and campouts.

    What do you think? Along with 16mm projectors, eight tracks, and dial telephones, have kids lost the simple meaning of camping out and sleeping over at a friend’s?

    What’s your favorite campout memory?
    Source URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2010/07/
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Bumblebee Moth

Toby's first giggle!

Congratulations

Chance

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Meanwhile, Back at the Lair...

    posted by Aunty Cindy, Jo-Mama, and Posh

    'Twas the week of RWA National conference and the Lair felt eerily empty with that preternatural quiet that could mean nefarious plots were afoot...

    Or NOT.

    A lone figure descended a back staircase, headed for the kitchen, a full tray in his hands and a look of consternation on his handsome face.

    "Sorry, Lars," Paolo said, as he slid the tray of food onto the counter behind a beefy, Scandinavian hunk who was washing pots and pans, "Aunty Cindy turned thumbs down. She said your Swedish surprise is more of a shock, and not in a good way. According to her, the only one who will eat it is Ermingarde the Dragon."

    Lars gave a long suffering sigh. "Then why did you bring it back to the kitchen instead of taking it to the dragon's turret?"

    "Well, because... er, um, you know..." Red stained Paolo's high cheek bones, lending him an uncanny resemblance to Johnny Depp.

    He was interrupted by Marcus, in full gladitorial regalia, checking in from his security sweep. "You simply must get over your fear of that over-grown lizard, Paolo. Just because she singed your trousers that one time is no excuse. A little mano-a-mano wrestling match with her should do the trick."

    As the hapless Paolo choked over the thought of wrestling the dragon, Marcus and Lars exchanged knowing winks over his head.

    "I'll take it up there," Marcus conceded with a good-natured shove. "Zach is there right now, mucking out her weir and I'm sure he would welcome the help."

    "Zach got left behind too?" Paolo asked, clearly startled that the captain of the hockey hunks was not on vacation with the rest of the staff. "I mean, I understand why I was, since I'm the newest cabana boy, and I heard you gladiators used some kind of lottery system, but..."

    "He said something about taking one for the team," Marcus explained, when the beeping of Lars's phone interrupted him.

    "It's a text message from Sven," Lars exclaimed. "Bad enough that he left me a fifteen page color-coded flow chart about how to manage his kitchen, but he checks in every two hours." He peered at the screen then chuckled. "He sent a photo. Seems he and the gladiators went to the Magic Kingdom."

    Paolo and Marcus leaned in for a look.

    "What is that they are holding?" Marcus asked around guffaws.

    "Looks like mouse ears," replied an astounded Paolo. "With feathers? Did somebody finally pluck that confounded rooster?"

    "Boys!" Posh said sternly, striding into the kitchen sporting a fearsome scowl and snatching the phone from Lars. "It's no good looking at the pictures now. You'll just be even more sullen and sulky than you have been and you'll be even less use in the kitchen, though that's hard to imagine."

    Posh gazed at the downcast faces and her expression softened. "We're all completely bummed about being left behind. What we need to do is think of a distraction."

    "Distraction?" Paolo asked. "What could make us forget everyone even for a minute?"

    "I'm glad you asked," Jo Mama said in her most teacherly voice, entering from the hallway. "I've made up a plan."

    Posh arched an eyebrow. "Like a lesson plan?"

    "Oh, no!" Aunty Cindy huffed, descending the stairs in a swirling, embroidered dress she picked up on her jaunt to Turkey. (Posh had thought it was a wedding dress for a young woman, but Aunty would neither confirm nor deny.) "I have had quite enough learning for one lifetime, thank you very much. No more lesson plans, Jo Mama!"

    Jo held up her hand, commanding silence as all the best teachers do. She pulled a hitherto-unseen chalkboard from the butler's pantry. "Everyone calm down. I've studied our dilemma and, using ratiocination - "

    "Lord, there she goes with the big words again." Posh rolled her eyes in an alarming circle.

    " - Okay, then, using logic," she shot a sharp look at Posh, "I have discerned the only viable solution to our lack of entertainment - "

    "And aching loneliness," Aunty Cindy said, head buried deep in the fridge as she searched for anything edible. "Don't forget the loneliness!"

    "That, too," Jo sighed. "I actually thought there would be less drama with everyone gone," she muttered. "Maybe I should have taken a few days off myself."

    "Well don't keep us in suspense, Jo Mama," Posh said, pushing Aunty Cindy out of the fridge. "You tell us what the plan is and I'll whip us up some supper. Real supper, not that so-called Swedish surprise."

    She began pulling things out of the fridge and Aunty Cindy's eyes widened. "What are you making, Posh?"

    "Never you mind, missy. Just listen to Jo Mama and prepare to be dazzled."

    "As I was saying," Jo said, a hint of impatience coloring her normally professional delivery, "we need a plan that utilizes the resources we have available."

    "You mean them?" Aunty Cindy eyed the boys dubiously.

    "Us?" the guys asked, looking just as wary.

    "Not them," Posh said, chopping onions and potatoes while a large iron skillet heated on the stove. "Our beloved Bandita Buddies!"

    "Exactly," Jo beamed. "Our Buddies. Since we are temporarily without our resident bartenders, 14 of our storytellers and a passel of cabana boys, we need our precious Bandita Buddies to keep our spirits up."

    "Meanwhile," Aunty said, flinging her arms about in a (melo)dramatic fashion, "I will lead the boys to the shrine of Mary I had built in the first floor of the cellar. I was so inspired by the Higgins House, built where Mary lived when she was in Ephesus, that I had one built. I'm sure the boys and I can drum up some help from the Blessed Virgin..."

    Jo Mama rolled her eyes and Posh smirked. "If Aunty Cindy is the spiritual leader today, you KNOW we're in trouble!"

    So, Bandita Buddies, you are ON! We need you desperately. Please tell us about your favorite thing to do when you find yourself suddenly, inexplicably and definitively ALONE.

    Can't recall the last time that actually happened? Dream a little dream for us! Books? Bubble baths? Movies where you don't have to share your popcorn? What is your favorite alone-time pursuit? Or would you just like to come hang out with us and see what Posh is cooking? Do tell!
    Source URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2010/07/
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I Wear My Clothes in Reverse


    Uggh, I think I'm going to be sick.

    I walk past the bathroom and the door is wide open. Inside, standing before the shower, her hand in the falling stream of water is the Bat Faced Bitch. Oh please, shut the damn door. She is standing there with a robe on, trying to look seductive I guess, but when she sees me she scowls. I walk on. I tell you it's the cosmic forces of the universe uniting against me, constantly throwing me before her, constantly making these coincidental meetings between us, to no doubt rile her. She's the type of Skek that usually falls under the mistaken belief that if they do or have something long enough it belongs to them exclusively.

    Oh yeah. The homeless are just like that. Well, Skekies are. Take this for an example. A random street corner in Manhattan, with a random fire hydrant on its curb. A Skek comes and piles his crumpled clothing against the side of the hydrant as a pillow and lays along the sidewalk to sleep during the day (Remember, the homeless are NOT allowed to sleep at night or risk being rousted by the cops). He's been doing this for months now. On this day a group of tourists gather around this hydrant and the homeless person, this Skek, rounds the block and sees them. Instantly he rushes to the hydrant, shooing away the Tourists, speaking in Skekspeak, which is clearly not understood by the Tourists and causes them to flee.

    Why does this happen? Because Skeks have nothing... well nothing of any real value, so they mark areas in the City, things that they find, institutions that they frequent, and such as theirs. They make these things their possession. Soup kitchens would invite us homeless into their cafeterias for a nutritious meal, and actually give us silverware to eat with and not plastic. The Skeks will always eat with the silverware and then pocket them. Why? I heard one say, "If I do this enough I'll have a set." What the fuck are you going to do with a silverware set? Now really. But the object of this story is is that this Skek felt that the silverware was his, eating at this soup kitchen often.

    Well, now let's look at Bat Faced Bitch. Because of her using these bathrooms for some time now she is under the mistaken impression that they belong to her. They are an extension of her mansion home. Therefore, every time she sees me emerging from one of them she shows me her displeasure clearly. I make a sourpuss face. I wish I could vomit on command because I surely would every time I see her. That way she would know how she affects my stomach visually.

    Hell, after my walk today in the dead of the heat I decided that I would reward myself with a can of beer. ONLY a can, just to get that beer taste in my mouth. I go into the nearby bodega and get a can. I walk up to the counter and the Arab guy on the other side slowly reaches for the can while staring at me intently. I wonder; do I look like someone he knows? He bags the can and mumbles the price. What? I ask him. "How old are you?" He replies. I frown. Twenty I tell him. He shakes his head. "No, really, how OLD are you?" I laugh. I'm Thirty Eight, why? He shakes his head, cracks a smile, "You can really fool somebody. Your beard makes you look like you're trying to fake your age." Wow. He thought I was a teen? Hell, I tell him, you just made my day! We chuckle and I head home with a skip in my raggedy assed step.

    I have sour garlic pickles in my refrigerator. Oh, how I love sour garlic pickles, and the nearby grocery store has them in fat tubs, soaking in that beautiful sour juice. I love them. I have a tub in my refrigerator, so I sit down in front of the laptop, pull up Netflix and watch a movie while noshing on those damn pickles, one after the other. For some reason tonight I just can't stop. Maybe I'm pregnant or something. Then my stomach rolls. It turns over like a starter in a car, rumbling like an earthquake. I fart and a shat threatens to pour out of my ass. I stand, stagger across my room to grab the toilet paper and keys and struggle down the hall, pinching my ass cheeks with all the force I could muster.

    As soon as I sit down on the toilet I let out a literal deluge of water from my ass. Shit water. I never in my life went through something like this. It was if my ass was a fucking fire hydrant spewing water under pressure. If I was shaped like a rocket I would have lifted off. Damn, I didn't know that too many pickles would do that shit to you. Now I have found a natural laxative. The next time I'm constipated I'm going to buy a tub of pickles and pound them down until they loosen my ass up....literally.

    Okay, okay, that's enough bathroom humor for this post, so you know what time it is, don'tcha? Yeah, that's right boys and girls, it's time for.....

    FUCK!

    My laptop just crashed, like it's been doing often and it completely erased everything that I wrote for a half an hour on this blog! Damn! All that text, all that work, wasted. This really pisses me off. It makes me feel like I'm back in the Eighties with this stupid crashing all of the time...oh, and losing of data. Remember back then, when you were working and Windows would crash? Then the software companies began coming up with Autosave, where, while you are working, the software would automatically save data while you work.

    Here's the fucked up thing though. Blogger, my blogging program, saves data automatically also and it was doing so as I was working. It also saves the data on an Internet hard drive, so even if my system crashed, it would be saved off-site. Sooooo, what the fuck? Maybe that's just the cosmos telling me that all that griping was just too much for my reading public and it should not have even been uttered. Hey, I know my blog-site is not politically correct, but why the galactic censorship? Do I really need to be told to shut the fuck up? Well maybe, if the cosmos demands it, then maybe I should listen.

    In any event, I'll just let the work that I did for a half an hour pass into the nether- sphere and I'll just gripe along on my path. This way I won't offend anyone. Hey, that really doesn't make sense, does it? Because the rest of what I'm going to write will be no better, so what is the point of allowing my past text to be deleted. Let me think about this point for awhile. Maybe I'll write my shit again, and maybe I won't.

    Here, this is a shorter blog post though and I expect that my next one will be longer, or maybe not. I don't know how I come up with these things, I just do. I have to say that when I looked at my hit counter today I had more than fifty hits in a single day, which means that everyone hasn't left me. I thank you for still reading, and I promise you that I will continue to bring out the absurdities of this fair city and the madness being homeless is. Even when you are barely back into the world, such as I.

    Today, I have to go to Social Security to get beat around by their doctors. I'll let you know how that goes.

    It will probably go bad for me...it usually does. Remember, I'm a hobo with mental problems. I've proven it to you a million times haven't I? I blog don't I? That should be reason enough.

    Reason enough to be unreason- able. That's why I wear my clothes in reverse.

    HobobobSource URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2010/07/
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