Damned by Chuck Palahniuk
“Are you there, Satan? It’s me, Madison,” declares the whip-tongued eleven-year-old narrator of Damned, Chuck Palahniuk’s subversive new work of fiction. The daughter of a narcissistic film star and a billionaire, Madison is abandoned at her Swiss boarding school over Christmas, while her parents are off touting their new projects and adopting more orphans. She dies over the holiday of a marijuana overdose—and the next thing she knows, she’s in Hell. Madison shares her cell with a motley crew of young sinners that is almost too good to be true: a cheerleader, a jock, a nerd, and a punk rocker, united by fate to form the six-feet-under version of everyone’s favorite detention movie. Madison and her pals trek across the Dandruff Desert and climb the treacherous Mountain of Toenail Clippings to confront Satan in his citadel. All the popcorn balls and wax lips that serve as the currency of Hell won’t buy them off.
This is the afterlife as only Chuck Palahniuk could imagine it: a twisted inferno where The English Patient plays on endless repeat, roaming demons devour sinners limb by limb, and the damned interrupt your dinner from their sweltering call center to hard-sell you Hell. He makes eternal torment, well, simply divine.
This book will be available on October 18, 2011.
Petite Syrah is a wine that has become synonymous with Stags’ Leap. The 30-year old Petite Syrah vineyards located in front of the Manor House on the estate’s deep, rocky soils form the backbone of this blend, to which we incorporate fruit from our established grower-partners throughout the Napa Valley.
-Stags' Leap Winery
This wine is awesome. Great thick and velvety texture; it is nearly a meal by itself. There is a big, punchy flavor without too much heat, spice or tannins. This is a well-crafted wine that you should find retailing around $38, so it is more affordable to maybe take to a dinner party (or buy for your favorite reviewer...ahem).
And here I thought that the Elyse Winery Petite Sirah would reign unopposed as my favorite Petite Sirah. Please don't make me choose.
Artemis. The name has some impressive social capital in the wine community. It belongs to a wine that I've always heard to be a good wine. No, that's not right. I'd always heard that this was a very good wine. And at $50+ per bottle, I'm not really one to buy a bottle to disprove anything I'd heard. And now that I've finally had it I will only confirm. This wine is very good. I got enough of a hint of some sour fruit to not go nuts for it, but it was just a hint and that is not a problem with the wine, I just don't like sour/bitter. Give me a $50 gift certificate to my local wine shop and there is certainly a chance Artemis and I go home together.
Shock Wave by John Sandford
The superstore chain PyeMart has its sights set on a Minnesota river town, but two very angry groups want to stop it: local merchants, fearing for their businesses, and environmentalists, predicting ecological disaster. The protests don't seem to be slowing the project, though, until someone decides to take matters into his own hands.
The first bomb goes off on the top floor of PyeMart's headquarters. The second one explodes at the construction site itself. The blasts are meant to inflict maximum damage-and they do. Who's behind the bombs, and how far will they go? It's Virgil Flowers's job to find out . . . before more people get killed.
This book will be available on October 4, 2011.
I went to some amazing places on my trip to Napa Valley and Elyse Winery was a particular delight. I remember the puzzled look on the young man's face when we showed up at about 10:30am for a tasting...but hey, he was open, right? I believe we sampled all of the wines they offer and each was better than the last. Since then I have stared at this bottle of Petite Sirah at the wine shop, daring myself to spend the money (about $40) to relive that morning, even a little bit. I finally broke down. This was quickly noted to be far and away my favorite Petite Sirah. I like the varietal for its boldness and the Elyse is that boldness with a level of class I've not seen matched. I am thirsty for any challengers.
On a rare personal note, we went to Elyse Winery on the recommendation of a friend. I did not have any way to keep in touch with her and her husband after she and the company where we worked went different ways. I think she would be thrilled to know how much I still enjoy Elyse and will continue to enjoy Elyse (when I can afford it). So, thank you, Sally. I hope you and Don are well, wherever you are.
A lonely teenager, curious and sharp, growing in the shattered city of Liverpool. Two incredible women clash for his love. Mimi, the formidable aunt who raised him and Julia, the spirited mother who gave him up. Yearning for a normal family, John escapes into music. His fledgling genius finds a kindred spirit in the young Paul McCartney. But just as John's new life begins the truth about his past leads to a tragedy he would never escape. Poignant and powerful, the untold story of the boy who created The Beatles. Nowhere Boy is the highly anticipated debut feature from British artist Sam Taylor-Wood, written by Matt Greenhalgh (Control) and stars newcomer Aaron Johnson as John Lennon, Kristen Scott Thomas as Lennon's Aunt Mimi, and Anne-Marie Duff as his mother Julia.
This is the origin story of John Lennon's genius. As a teenager he was constantly in trouble; he had no interest in fitting in and playing by the rules. He wasn't like most other children anyway, growing up raised by his aunt and uncle as non-traditional parents. He lacked direction (despite the rigid upbringing from Aunt Mimi) and had no passion until he met his muse, his mother Julia. She was the non-conformist who teaches John that life isn't only about fitting in and doing what you're supposed to do. And she teaches him music; to play, appreciate and live music. I believe you know the rest.
I would never have thought of John Lennon as a renegade teen who cut his classes and idolized Elvis Presley. I had pictured him as the quiet, artsy poet. As it turns out, he was both. And that mix proved John to be revolutionary.
Aaron Johnson, most known to me as the titular character in the recent cult phenomenon Kick-Ass, was fantastic as John Lennon. I thought he did a great job singing and playing guitar on film. I am surprised that he went after such a cheesy role as a graphic-novel, kid super hero after taking on a challenging role as one of the most iconic musicians the world has seen. Let's put Kick-Ass behind you, Aaron. You are made for bigger and better movies. Nowhere Boy proved that.
It is always hard to watch a movie that is a true story, or even based on a true story, when you want the situations you witness on screen to be amazingly true and not just amazingly scripted for the movie. To think of how certain chance meetings and passing conversations shaped a person is crazy. I am not normally a fan of "biopics" and I think that is because I do not get very star struck. But I think even I have a hard time down playing the influence of John Lennon and this one was very well done. That, and I think of this less as a "biopic" since this was not about John Lennon The Beatle, it was about an awkward teenager named John who learns to love music. I enjoyed this movie immensely and am already telling everyone I know that they have to see it.