Burning down the house

“It’s the sadism that makes it funny.”

I had to laugh when I heard Anthony Bourdain say that. He’s one of the few “foodies” that I can stomach, so to speak, and it’s really more for his attitude than anything else. Rakish, smart, and always real, Bourdain manages to bring a challenging wit to culinary adventure without losing any sense of wonder or appreciation.

He’s about as close to a hero in my world as anyone will ever get, and he fits right in alongside my other sources of inspiration. Bourdain, Bukowski, Sedaris… a curious lot to be sure; one that I appreciate most for their strength of words.

Bukowski did have something of an advantage by being a bit of a drunk, of course. And now being dead and all, he really doesn’t have to stand behind his words when a well intentioned family member says something like, “I enjoyed your book, but really didn’t need to know about your masturbation habits.”

That comment is still jabbed somewhere in between my nerves and albeit small sense of propriety, and I suddenly question just how brilliant an idea it was to publish my book. I’ve already blacked out half the pages in the copy my dad bought, and my mother on request read her copy without her glasses. I don’t know if that made the content any more worse or better – she’s had that involuntary shudder since I was 16.

Every author cracks wise about the fear that no one will buy their book, or that no one will turn up at their signings. But my fear is: what if they do?

My book sales are rising, which means people are actually reading what I wrote. Certain chapters darken my excitement at the prospect and I wonder just how much ‘splaining I’m going to have to do when the inevitable questions and assumptions crop up.

I certainly can’t black out select passages for the world at large, and in the end I really don’t want to anyway. Part of the fun in being an author is sharing stories that make people react. And let’s face it, the harshest reactions are usually from people who relate all-too-well. And for all my words and adventures, I’m not that much different than anyone else. I just talk about it.

Case in point: I set fire to my kitchen last night. It wasn’t intentional by any means, which I feel the need to point out only because I suspect some may feel I have a penchant for destructive behavior.

And I admit, this isn’t my first kitchen fire. I tend to not count the other one though, seeing as how it was a result of my accidentally sliding a Rachel Ray cookbook into the flames of a gas burner. The book was a gift, one that left me more than a little annoyed, and as I watched the flames lick at the smug bitch’s face, I couldn’t help but think, “You’re not quacking ‘Yum-o’ now, are you?”

It’s no secret that I thoroughly hate Rachel Ray, and that stems partly from the fact that I likely have more technical culinary training than she does. Of course, my training is in pastry, which may explain why I miscalculated the ratio of breading, meat, heat and oil in the dish I attempted to make last night.

Why is it that fires always seem to crop up when you’re not looking? I turned my back on my pot for one minute to deal with the pasta, and the next thing I know there’s a billow of smoke, a whoosh, and I’m scrambling around like I Love Lucy.

I knew enough to not dump a kettle of water over my pot, but that was about as far as my brain went before breaking out in a deranged rendition of the “Stop, Drop and Roll” fire safety song I learned when I was a Brownie.

That’s probably not what they intended back in fist grade when they taught us that song; then again, they probably didn’t figure any of us would grow up to be so distracted by a pot of boiling water that they start a grease fire one burner over.

In the end my instincts kicked in and I managed to slam the lid on the pot before my kitchen turned into a towering inferno. And on the upside, my prized Le Creuset braiser survived without so much as a scorch. My ego, not so much.

It didn’t help that my guy came home from band rehearsal to a bowl of buttered noodles and a vague, charred sort of smell to the house. As far as I’m concerned, if he didn’t see it, it didn’t happen… but I’m guessing my explanation of fighting off alien invaders and using the pork tenderloin to deflect their laser beams didn’t carry much validity.

Sigh. My respect goes out to Bourdain, but it’s not entirely the sadism that makes something funny. It’s the stupidity behind it. And if that’s the case, I’m guessing I’ve got a best seller on my hands.

There’s always more…

Hey all –

Just updated www.morningneurosis.com! Head over the the News section to check out my interview with Lauren Milligan of Live the Dream radio, and be sure to check the Tour page to view a video of my reading at the Barnes & Noble kickoff signing and see the extended photo gallery of the event.

Next stop on the book tour is Read Between the Lynes in Woodstock, IL for a Local Author Day on November 21, from 1-3 p.m. Hope to see you there!

Barnes & Noble signing a SUCCESS!

The first stop on the Morning Neurosis book tour was a success! In fact, it was the most successful book signing Barnes & Noble Schaumburg has ever held!

Thanks so much to everyone who joined us that night! I’m overwhelmed by all the support and encouragement.

A new blog is in the works. Until then, here are a few pics from the signing and after party. And be sure to check www.morningneurosis.com for tour news and dates!

Click on thumbnail for larger image.

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Have a magical day

“I’M the author! You can lick the plate.”

This probably wasn’t the nicest exclamation I could make in Disney World, but the complimentary chocolate celebration cake a thoughtful waiter brought when he heard I’d just published my first book was simply too good to not fight for.

My guy understood, I think. He’d already witnessed me nearly trample several small children to get prime seating on the Monorail, swear unabashedly while panicking in line for the Rock N Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and boo the George W. Bush animatronic robot at the Hall of Presidents. Suffice it to say, our trip to Disney World was full of magical moments. Here’s just a few of my favorites (click on thumbnail for larger image):

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Our hotel, Disney’s Grand Floridian – a sprawling manor with Victorian details, chocolates on the pillows, towel animals, and the best mai tais on the planet.

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Proof.

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The view from our balcony.

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Sharing an outstanding dinner with my guy at Citricos.

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Making new friends at Epcot.

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From our food & wine tasting at Morocco – we learned the taste benefits of the Left Bank, and introduced the world to Kitty and Hugh.

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At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, my guy is an idol.

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Drinks at the Polynesian Resort. Aside from a morning cup of tea, I don’t think I drank anything that wasn’t laced with alcohol the entire trip.

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Moments before being captured and held hostage by the Norway ride at Epcot.

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We had the magical fortune of having dinner at the right place at the right time: Iron Chef Cat Cora happened to be visiting her restaurant on the Boardwalk and stopped by to talk. My guy was able to capture one of my rare moments of complete geek out.

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A stunning picture taken during Illuminations.

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The latest attraction at Disney’s Pleasure Island – there’s never been a better view of WDW. After beating my fear of roller coasters, this was the next step. My guy’s arm may never be the same.

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Halloween at the Magic Kingdom – made even more “scary” when we were trapped in the Haunted Mansion when the ride broke down.

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Of course, the best part of the trip was just being with my guy… who even let me finish all the cake.

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See ya real soon, Disney!

Wave your hands in the air

Just a quick note all …

We’re working closely with Barnes & Noble to make the book tour kick off at their flagship store in Schaumburg a huge rock n’ roll event! I’ll have details soon about how you can get your very on ALL ACCESS backstage pass to this can’t miss event. We are going to ROCK this place!

    Until then, save the date!

Friday, November 6, 2009
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Schaumburg
Woodfield Plaza Shopping Plaza
590 East Golf Road

Morning Neurosis on sale now!

Book tour kick-off!

Surreal as it may still be, I’ve officially got a book tour!

 

First stop: Barnes & Noble in Schaumburg, Illinois.
Friday, November 6
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Woodfield Plaza Shopping Center
590 East Golf Road
Schaumburg, IL 60173

 

So, I’ll be speaking, reading excepts from the book, and signing purchased copies. And not on the street corner, but in the store. Go figure. I’m excited beyond belief, and hope y’all will join me for the first of many stops on my rock n’ roll book tour.

Like Elvis but without the tassels

“It’s all happening…”

It seems I’ve elevated in status. Although I’m nowhere near the “famous author who forgets her friends” level people have been teasing me about, I’ve actually surpassed the expected “chick who wrote that book” moniker.

And I couldn’t be more excited about it, because I’ve just received word that I’ll be taping an interview with WBEZ (91.5 FM, Chicago Public Radio) in October to promote my book!

Better yet, Chicago-area readers will have their choice of Barnes & Noble bookstores to come visit me, because I’m working on a reading/signing tour now!

More details soon, folks. Be sure to check out www.morningneurosis.com for book info, etc. Thanks for reading!

Juliette

An open letter to Bon Jovi

Dear Bon Jovi,

It’s been many years since we’ve spoken in depth – at least ten, I’m guessing. It was right around the time of your These Days album, and I have to admit, you weren’t the best interview I’ve ever conducted. It isn’t always easy for a writer to overcome her intrinsic admiration for a band, even at the expense of her professional integrity.

So I feel the need to preface my letter with a brief apology: first, for bumbling through that interview ten years ago, and second, for throwing my professional integrity aside yet again to tell you exactly what I think of your band now.

I’ll spare you the tales of how I grew up with your music; I do know I’m not alone in saying that your music has provided a significant soundtrack to my life. Still, one experience does stand out from all the rest.

This story has made the rounds in multiple columns and articles I’ve written, not so much because it’s particularly unique, but because it shows how I came to be the person I am. Obviously, I don’t need to tell you about the impact that music in general can have on a person; it was just my fortune that music, yours specifically, found and shaped me.

I was12 and sitting in the second row at Alpine Valley Music Theater for my first concert ever (I scored the tickets from a radio station giveaway). You were playing “Living on a Prayer” when a tremendous storm broke out. The reserved seats at the outdoor amphitheater were safe from the rain, but the people in the lawn were at the risk not just of being drenched, but likely struck by lightning. Winds were swirling in insane gusts, the sky was back and rain pummeled the ground. No one moved but you. You stopped, right before the final chorus of what has become the greatest song ever to me, and said, “Rock and roll opens the sky.”

It’s the kind of moment that means the world to an impressionable young person, though in retrospect I understand how some perceive it as contrived. Nevertheless, I decided at that point that I, too, wanted to open the sky.

I suppose I have, in my own way. I may not have been able to do it with music like you (my voice is better left to drunken karaoke and the shower), but I do take a great deal of pride in knowing I’ve made an impact with my writing. The writing is my own, of course, but I credit that experience and your music in part for giving me the wherewithal to make my life what it is.

“That storm seems to follow us around,” you said in our interview. I appreciated your courtesy in humoring me with the response; I’m sure at that point I was probably tearing up at the fact that I was sharing my story with you personally. But even if you didn’t remember the exact concert I described, you certainly caught my meaning: that your music has had an influence not just on me, but millions of other people.

And that’s why I’m writing you this letter. You’ve certainly been better at adapting to the times than any other band of your era, but I’m starting to wonder if in adapting you’ve somehow lost sight of the fundamentals of your music… and of rock and roll.

In saying that, please don’t think I’m trashing your alt-country crossover. I saw that coming years ago when you released the horrible This Left Feels Right album. I’m sure you know what a mistake that album was; I’m just glad you were able to fine tune your corporate kowtowing into a better album now.

And that’s not to say that I don’t like Lost Highway – there are a few songs that resonate with me just as strongly as ones from Slippery or Keep the Faith (your best albums). I do wonder though, why, of all the songs on that album, you felt the need to release what is without a doubt the most painfully boring, monotonous drudgery of the bunch as your first single. Forgive me, but every time I hear “You Want to Make a Memory” I really just want to make a lunge for the mute button.

 

I’m sure the decision to release that song was in the best interest of your corporation; there are plenty of paying people who don’t know the difference between your good songs and your lame ones. I guess that’s what makes me most sad in all this: I never expected you to become so obvious of a corporation.

No matter how much you deny it, you’re not just a group of guys from New Jersey anymore. You’re a band with extended families and a never ending conga line of executives, managers, promoters and agents who all need to be fed.

Which is fine. I don’t fault you for needing to sustain the livelihood of the band. The trouble is that I need to eat, too. And I can’t do that and drop the $129 plus related processing and parking fees for one ticket to see you play a show in Chicago this winter.

I might be more inclined to trade my grocery budget for a ticket if I thought I’d see the Bon Jovi I love. But that’s more than I’m willing to give to the corporation for music that seems to be moving farther away from the fans and more and more towards an “audience”.

Here’s the deal Jon and company: I realize you can’t help the appearances on Oprah, the American Idol endorsements or the Duracell battery commercials. There is a business to this all that can’t be avoided.

But you’re still a rock and roll band, and rock and roll is not about adding a fiddler to your stage band to round out the holes in your songs, it’s not about overproducing the life out of a song, and it’s definitely not about releasing lackluster first singles just to suck in lovelorn matrons.

Rock is about passion and energy and living on the edge. And when you get back to that, Bon Jovi, when I feel you’ll open the sky again, I’ll gladly pay any price.

I’m sure Tommy and Gina would agree with me.

 

Best,

Juliette Miranda

Essayist, author, podcaster, and general misanthrope. Official blog of lightly fictionalized musings and general word vomit. Visit www.juliettemiranda.com for additional info.