Viva Las Vegas!

I miss Vegas. Mornings just don’t seem right without a mimosa, palm trees, and learning I’m an “Instant Spin Winner”. Sigh.

Needless to say, the Vegas trip was a success! A few notes:

1) To the staff at the Maryland Parkway Barnes & Noble: Thank you for all your help in making the book signing a tremendous success!

2) To my new Michael Kors purse from the Forum shops at Ceasar’s Palace: Had that sparkly “super scatter” reel not magically spun in my favor, we would never have been brought together.

3) To the Deal or No Deal slot machine at the MGM Grand Casino: Why did you turn on me? Why?

4) To my bank: Can I propose a new slogan for you? You can be the Bank With a Heart … if only you’ll have a bank error in my favor. Could you maybe just forget all those withdrawls? Please?

5) To my guy: I hope your thumb heals in time for NOLA.

And now, a few of my favorite pics:

Morning Neurosis book signing at Barnes & Noble Vegas.
My handsome man and I.
Me and The Purse.
Dinner at Mesa Grill.
New York New York, our hotel.
Relaxing after a long morning of mimosas and slots.
Us and the strip.

Walking on sunshine

I miss Jazzercise. It’s ridiculous and stupid, I know, but I have a soft spot in my heart for workouts from the 80s. Were my gym to launch a “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” style class, I’d be in the front row.

Sure, Richard Simmons is more creepy than kitschy at this point, but I’ve yet to see anyone quite so enthused about bouncing around to pop tune knock-offs in the name of physical fitness (aside from Christian Bale, of course).

Everyone at my gym is just so serious. Class titles include words like “strike!” and “power kick!” and “cardio attack!” to describe whatever punishing routine attendees are in for, and are lead by militant fascists whose limbs resemble knotted lengths of rope wrapped around tree trunks.

Having my ass kicked is not my idea of a fun workout. Give me an hour of grapevines, chasses, step-ball-changes, toe touches, hip rocks and knee lifts and I’m a happy chick. You can’t not laugh when you’re busting out jazz hands.

The closest my gym will come to channeling Denise Austin or Jane Fonda is their oxymoronic “salsa funk” class. It’s billed as delivering an intense cardio workout, core training, and basic salsa skills in a fun, welcoming setting, which, after poking my head into a class one evening, I have to doubt. The room was packed with people: half of them were desperately limping along as the instructor barked out instructions while the other half looked pissed off that their view to the mirror was blocked. I quickly hustled my way to the treadmills.

Life would be so much easier if I could just catch a thyroid disorder. The good kind, mind you – the kind that puts your metabolism into hyperdrive, not the kind that makes dark hairs sprout from your chin and adds pounds quicker than a deep fried Twinkie.

Not that any thyroid disorder is particularly “good”, I do understand that, but I’d be willing to accept things like an increased heart rate and jitters if they enabled me to bypass the scene at the gym.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy working out, I just resent the experience. My gym in particular takes fitness to Orwellian levels by offering their own blood lab where you can have your fitness level determined from the inside out. It’s especially creepy when the technicians, decked out in official-looking white coats, set up shop in the hallway and say things like, “Learn what your doctor won’t tell you,” and “Let your blood speak for you.”

I’m not sure what exactly my blood would say for me, aside from the fact that I’ve likely had too much whiskey, and I can’t say I really care to find out.

Despite my refusal to assimilate, I seem to be doing something right. My recent trek to buy a bathing suit for Las Vegas did not end with anyone in tears, from me, to my guy, to the sales clerks. I wish I could say as much for the woman in the changing room next to me: after 20 minutes of snapping, grunting, tugging, and cursing, she finally emerged wearing a neon yellow “tankini” that the salesgirl instantly proclaimed “Worth the effort,” thus winning my award for Best Euphemism of the Day.

Whatever works, I suppose.

As for me, I’ll be the one keeping my blood to myself and dutifully jogging away on the treadmill to the sounds of Katrina and the Waves and Huey Lewis, dreaming of the day when my gym resembles the set from the movie Girls Just Want to Have Fun, and I can don my legwarmers without fear of public ridicule.

PS – my Morning Neurosis “rowdier than the typical book signing” book tour stops in Las Vegas this Sunday, April 11. I’ll be at the Barnes & Noble on Maryland Parkway from 7-9 pm. Join me for rock n’ roll stories, and later, shots at the hotel bar!

Pics from the Borders signing

Hey all –

Thanks so much to everyone who braved the ridiculous weather to come out to the signing at Borders this weekend. I really appreciate the support, and had a blast sharing the “I grabbed Jon Bon Jovi’s butt” story. Posted below are a few of my favorite pics from the event.

Next stop on the book tour: VEGAS! April 11, 7pm at the Barnes & Noble on Maryland Parkway. Hope to see you there!

All photograph by Carolyn Marie Dimmick of Sunnshyne Photography:

I can see clearly now

I opened the sunroof on the car the other day. It was one of those perfect pre-Spring moments, when the sun feels as it should, breathing the air is inviting rather than painful, and winter anguish has melted away to reveal potential.

That was, of course, before this Midwestern pit of despair reared its desperate little head and dumped several gallons of chilly rain on us. No matter, though. The thaw lasted long enough to prompt my guy and I to head out for our first margaritas of the season and spend the remainder of the night hillbilly-style, camped out in lawn chairs on our driveway.

I’ve even gone so far as to break out the open-toed heels to welcome the new season. Perhaps it’s a bit premature, but frigid pools of icy run-off be damned! I’ll break these suckers in before the book tour hits Las Vegas (27 days and counting!) if it kills me, or hypothermia sets in, whichever comes first.

It’s safe to say that the impending change of season has allowed giddiness to usurp my usual stabbiness for the time, and all I can say is – it’s about damn time. When I find myself Googling phrases like, “alternative uses for piano wire” and “what does lime do to a corpse” I know winter has gone on too long.

Fortunately, there are enough diversions and amusements during the days now to keep my wacky, “All work and no play make Juliette a dull girl” self at bay.

For example, three things that made me happy this weekend:

1. Stringing my guy’s bass unsupervised.
The key word being, of course, “unsupervised.” Deep down I know there are space chimps that could likely string a bass as well as I do, but I still get a thrill from being entrusted with the responsibility. I’ve even gotten good enough at it that my guy can hand me a pack of strings, walk away, and return to a perfectly strung bass. Of course, I might have downloaded a gig-worth of “bass teching for idiots” iphone aps, just to confirm I don’t break anything in the process, but my guy never needs to know about that.

2. Belting out backing vocals for my guy’s band in the studio.
When I accompanied my guy to the recording studio to watch his band record a track for the NHRA, the last thing I expected was to be tossed in the vocal aquarium. My tinny little voice is just one on many, many layers of phrases like “hot rod, hot,” but for a few minutes, I got to pretend I was a musician. There’s a “Yoko” warning light flashing somewhere, but I’m choosing to ignore it.

3. Free wine.
The only way to top off a nightcap of truffles and chocolate covered strawberries? A free bottle of wine from a friendly bartender at the best local winery in Illinois.

It’s good to have the alcohol on hand, actually, seeing as how I still need to prepare my talk for my next book reading/signing. I’m breaking with tradition and NOT actually reading from my book, but instead sharing stories from rock n’ roll past. Shameless plug: Don’t miss it! March 20, 2pm at Borders in Oak Brook.

After that, it’s on to Barnes & Noble in Vegas in April, movies at the drive-in, betting on horses at Arlington, and whatever else Spring may bring.

New review

Hey all,

A KILLER review of Morning Neurosis was just posted on goodreads.com – it’s the kind of review that makes me think, maybe – just maybe – I may someday be a good as Bukowski.

And hey – don’t miss me on my book tour! I’ll be at Borders in Oak Brook (IL) on March 20 at 2pm and Barnes & Noble Las Vegas (on Maryland Parkway) on April 11 at 7pm.

Goodreads.com
Review by Emily
(http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2104845-emily)

Morning Neurosis is the rawest most real thing I have read in awhile. This biography/autobiography/memoir that is lightly fictionalized honestly sums up the inner workings of most 20-something women at some point in their life. Juliette Miranda’s first book had me nodding and agreeing so much with her thoughts, and we are in no other way alike besides the sharing of our female parts.

The book begins with Miranda having to make the tough decision to give up her LA fantasy life and move back home to Chicago for a paycheck. She has to take a job she despises, but with the economy, she lacks better options.

Miranda has a sea of former musicians for lovers and friends who are always popping back up in her life. The book describes them and she has attributed nicknames to each of them. She is a self-described rock slut and has many tales to back up her claims. The book jumps around a lot and I think that keeps it interesting. Much like this review. Ha ha.

Soon after returning to Chicago, Miranda meets Jon, another musician who really isn’t like the other musicians she tells him because he has a “real job” too. By the end of the book though, I would like to say that I think Jon was just like the other musicians with just as much baggage. Just better packaging skills.

The majority of the book follows the dysfunctional relationship Miranda forges with Jon and the many neuroses that come with being in a relationship and being female. I think women are forever questioning themselves and ever so passive aggressive in new relationships because we don’t want to screw them up and we don’t want to be tooo out there and we don’t want to be shot down. I know, I cannot be the only one to relate to the constant worrying that Miranda describes.

She does have a VERY smart friend named Dan who always talks sense and tells her the truth and great advice, even if she doesn’t always listen or follow through. I think we all have a friend like that, even when we hate them for being correct.

I would have to say that I liked this book way more than I ever intended on liking it, because originally I thought I wouldn’t relate and it would just be a quick fun read. Quick it was, but wow, very insightful. Miranda is hilarious, real , and hooks you in. Can’t wait to read what she writes next.

Something is coming for you

(A retelling of one of my favorite childhood memories…)

There seems to be an inexplicable culture shift within the townhouse community where my guy and I reside. It’s a Slums of Beverly Hills kind of shift, where our good zip code is hovering closer and closer to a suburban wasteland of sloth and white-collar carnage.

Flower beds and raincoat-bedazzled plaster geese have given way to full trash cans “stored” at the edge of driveways and residual Halloween decorations left ready to ripen in the spring sun. An unnerving number of unmarked utility vans now crowd the street, and just the other day our recycling bin was stolen. I doubt it will be used for its intended purpose.

Mail service and UPS have also given up on our patch of receding affluence. I’ve been contacted by multiple entities for having mail returned as “undeliverable” despite my perfectly functional mailbox, and UPS, when they show up at all, tend to toss packages from their still moving trucks rather than collecting a signature at the front door.

Recently, in fact, my guy stumbled across two sizeable boxes UPS delivered to the middle of our driveway. Neither was for us; they were actually addressed to a house on the other side of our complex. But rather than making the block-long walk to bring the packages to the correct address, we kicked them into our garage and forgot about them for a few days. (I never said we were pillars of the community.)

My upbringing eventually got the best of me though, and one afternoon I decided we’d sat on the boxes long enough. Being a curious kinda chick, I couldn’t just drop the boxes on the appropriate doorstep though – I had to read the return address first:

Firechemicals dot com.

Fire chemicals? We have enough problems with bin nabbers and religious zealots in our ‘hood, the last thing we need is an arsonist.

Still, for as much as I was inclined to call a moving company right then, I was just as overwhelmed by the conflicting realization that this must have been exactly how my neighbors felt everyday living next door to my family when I was growing up.

We all knew my dad was a bit of an eccentric – that much was obvious by his job title alone. “Physicist” stood out amongst the doctors, salesmen and managers in a fuzzy, intimidating sort of way, and my dad certainly did everything possible to spark the distinction.

Where neighbors put jack-o-lanterns in their front windows on Halloween, my dad displayed his homemade Tesla coil. When fathers took their children to parks and mini golf courses, my dad took me to the drag strip and fossil digs with the Field Museum. And where any other rational person would call an exterminator, my dad mixed his own homemade dynamite.

If nothing else, my dad always knew how to deliver a solution. My neighbors just should have known better than to go looking for one when my dad was around. In all fairness, they did have a very large, and very active hornet nest in their shrubbery, and after getting stung repeatedly while walking from the front door to their car, complaining about it to a sympathetic neighbor was appropriate.

My dad just happened to take their problem as a personal challenge, and after vanishing into his workshop, emerged a half hour later wearing a camouflage jumpsuit and crash helmet. My dad never was in the military, and I never did get a satisfactory explanation where he acquired such a jumpsuit, but then again, I also never got an explanation on how he found the chemicals to create the giant dynamite tube he carried in his left hand. (It’s probably a good thing the internet didn’t exist then.)

Our “block” wasn’t so much a block as it was a dead end strip of land they just happened to build a few houses on, so it didn’t take much excitement to lure all the neighbors to the street. Kids and parents amassed for our wacky block party of the damned, and gave a collective gasp to see my dad unearth and light a flare from a tool box in the garage.

“You all need to stand back! Clear the way!”

I knew enough to heed the warning, but the others crept in closer as dad circled the hornet nest. Sensing imminent danger, the winged creatures mobilized into attack formation. Dad dodged the angry buzzing and in one fluid movement jammed the dynamite into the nest while simultaneously lighting it with the flare.

And then he ran.

He ran past the nest, past the neighbors on the edge of the driveway, and all the way down the street before bracing himself behind a willow tree. I’ve since heard plenty of loud noises – quarry blasting, buildings collapsing, the wail my mother made when I told her I was moving to Los Angeles to work in the music industry – but none will burst quite as loud in my memory as the sound that dynamite made when it blew up the hornet nest and the entire shrub it was housed in.

Problem solved.

It seems to me that a few well-placed explosives would make a considerable improvement in my neighborhood now. And with that in mind, I have collected the suspicious boxes and made a very special delivery.

I have a feeling it’s going to be an interesting summer around here.

Next Book Tour Stop: Oak Brook!

Hey all –

My book tour is returning to the Chicago-area – I’ll be reading and signing books at the Oak Brook Borders Book Store. Details below:

Date: Saturday, March 20
Time: 2 – 4 p.m.

Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=333627072385&ref=nf

Even if you’ve already bought a book or come to a previous singing, you won’t want to miss this one! I’ve got tons of new stories to share, and plenty of ways to absolutely ROCK this bookstore. Feel free to share the Facebook event invite, too!

Hope to see you there!

(Another) Open letter to Bon Jovi

Dear Jon, Ritchie, David and Tico:

I’m curious: Have any of you seen the movie Almost Famous? I only ask because there’s a line in the film that reminded me of you today. Perhaps you know it: As I recall, the Lester Bangs character says to the naïve William Miller, “…They will ruin rock n’ roll and strangle everything we love about it.”

Even out of context the line has resonance. But don’t worry, I’m not about to accuse you of ruining rock n’ roll – though I’m sure there are those who would, particularly after listening to your new album.

It’s just that quote was the only thing I could think of when I read the announcement of your Livin on a Prayer contest today.

Now, you know, of course, that I consider myself to be a fan of the band. I said as much to you back when you were on the These Days tour, and you graciously allowed a small-time writer to interview you. (Side note to Tico: you’re a dick.)

Your music has been such a significant component of my life that I’ve incorporated stories about it into my book tour. (Speaking of which, would it kill you to buy a copy of my book? I mention you in it, and for all the cash I’ve dropped over the past 22 years on your music and shows, I don’t think throwing a girl fifteen bucks in support is too much to ask.)

My guy even purchased the “Livin on a Prayer” gold record single as a Christmas present for me; that’s how much I love that song.

Obviously, I’m not alone in my appreciation of it. Which I suppose is why you’ve made it the cornerstone of this little contest you have running. I guess if I were still 12 years-old I’d think it was a cute idea, encouraging fans to record themselves performing “Livin on a Prayer” for the chance to be shown on a jumbotron during the hometown show you play.

Really guys, I’m not 12 anymore. I don’t need to see my face looking back at me while you play a song; hearing my inner thoughts come through your lyrics was what drew me to the band in the first place.

But that’s not what bothers me in all this; it’s the fact that your machine is churning out such poor music now that you have to blatantly whore out material written in 1986 to get people interested in the new tour.

Sure, your corporate entity could argue that this contest is a chance for your fans to connect with you, but I don’t buy it. If you really wanted this to be an opportunity to connect with your fans, you wouldn’t be showing the winning video clips on the jumbotron while you play; you’d invite the winning fans to join you on stage.

And that might have actually been enough to get me interested in your contest, were I interested in your music now.

Your pretty hairdo and white teeth (seriously Jon, layoff the whitener – your freaking teeth glow in the dark ) combined with rigid overproduction and lazy hooks does not add up to an album worth listening to.

I remain your fan, Bon Jovi, but do not expect me to sing along unconditionally. I demand more from the music I love. I’m hoping you will, too.

Hoping to see you on the rebound,
Juliette

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