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random quarter: the chill factor edition

April 30, 2013




last night one of my friends and i went to house of blues to have dinner then to see the airborne toxic event. this, by the way, is the only band i have seen four times, and every time i've done so has been worth the trek and the ticket. i love them. i wished they would've played duet (you're beautiful with that gray scarf on... and i miss you, but it might just be the song), but... so many tunes, so little time. they played sometime around midnight, and i got chills listening to that, even though i've heard it so often. i should be immune to the power of it by now. and yet, it washed over me with the same force as the first time i'd heard it.

and this morning, i thought that would make a good rq post: what other songs still have that power to affect me that way? this isn't the best of the best, by any means, but a sample.

one. against all odds. phil collins.

two. all by myself. eric carmen.

three. back to good. matchbox twenty.

four. between the lines. sara bareilles.

five. the chain. ingrid michaelson.

six. the climb. miley cyrus.

seven. cry. faith hill.

eight. dare you to move. switchfoot.

nine. don't take the girl. tim mcgraw.

ten. down on my knees. trisha yearwood.

eleven. faithfully. journey.

twelve. the freshmen. the verve pipe.

thirteen. god of wine. third eye blind.

fourteen. hey jupiter. tori amos.
 
fifteen. hope for the hopeless. a fine frenzy.

sixteen. i dreamed a dream. ruthie henshall.

seventeen. mandy. barry manilow. yes, i went there. this is why.

eighteen. mary jane. alanis morissette.

nineteen. round here. counting crows.

twenty. say hello to heaven. temple of the dog.

twenty-one. sometime around midnight. the airborne toxic event.

twenty-two. sometimes love just ain't enough. patty smyth.

twenty-three. this woman's work. kate bush.

twenty-four. when i look to the sky. train.

twenty-five. you raise me up. josh groban.


all there is: love stories from storycorps

April 28, 2013

why i wanted to read it: because it's small (about a hundred fifty pages) and the stories are short. it's couples talking about their spouses, about how they met, how they've lived.

what i liked: she was unfailingly loving. unfailingly. every day is a memorial for her (p. wilson--p. 91).

howard and i met on friday the thirteenth, 1969. he fell on me at a party, and i just thought he was the goofiest guy i'd ever met in my life... he had a shirt that was so rumpled, and he had these old stovepipe jeans on and a pair of shoes, one of which had many, many, many rubber bands because the sole was coming apart (g. kestenbaum--p. 92).

i was walking down the hallway, and i noticed that the last office in the hallway's door was open. i looked inside to see who was in there, and i saw a flash of ankle, and i saw these beautiful green eyes, and i saw this blond hair, and i went, wow! and then i went smack dab into the wall. i literally crashed... the very next day, at about the same time, i was walking down the hallway again, and i saw the same door open. i looked inside, saw that beautiful face, and i went, wow! and i walked into the wall again, in the same, identical place. this time i went running back to my office, closed the door, and said to myself you idiot! you idiot! what are you doing? (h. flores--p. 120).

we alternated phone calls... we argued by fax (g. pardy--p. 128).

you gave my life an anchor, and i'd like to think i've given your life wings (s. steinacher--p. 130).

there's no address on our marriage certificate, just a longitude and a latitude (t.p. headen--p. 135).

what sucked: some of the stories are sort of boring.

having said all that: it's cute, overall. a very quick read.

things servers say

April 24, 2013

it's taken you sixteen YEARS to write one book?

i assume your blog isn't quite popular.

i didn't even know you had a blog.

you have a blog?

how many followers do you have?

not that many, i say.

how many?

one hundred sixty-two.

that's a lot!

no, it's not. 

it is. i thought you were gonna say like, four.

and i'm supposed to let one of these boys (the one with the glasses), be an extra dressed in a peyton manning jersey in the made-for-tv version of my story.

i'm writing a blog post that will include your handsome mug in it.


that one hundred thirty-two people will read?

i'm also supposed to include a picture that makes peyton manning look good. 


how's that?

and since today i wrote eight lines in five hours, i picked their brains for words to use in a chapter. this is the sort of stuff they give me:

hassle
blasphemy
bubbles
love
bombastic
swag
bang
gerbil
rotate
too
context
water
shit
turtle

so much help.

the photo? he thinks it's from a game played in november about five years ago. prior to this, both teams were undefeated. had it not been for a fumble by manning, the colts would've won.

oops.

this was (also) a matlock project. learn about that here.

a history of residences

April 23, 2013


i was born in texas city. to those of you unfamiliar with southeast texas, ain't nothing in that town but a bunch of steel and lights, also known as oil refineries. you can see them from the freeway, of course, as you're trekking down interstate forty-five from houston to galveston.

we lived in houston, i think, at the time. or clear lake city. i know we lived in both, but i can't tell you which came first. i have a vague recollection of a white brick house with bluish-black shingles (or paint) on a circular block, riding my tricycle around while the movers loaded up our stuff. i was three. i might've conjured that shit up.


then there was good ole hawkins, texas. way up north near tyler by dallas. that there in that picture, that's downtown. we lived there for five years.

then came nachitoches (pronounced NAKidish), louisiana. you've seen steel magnolias, right? that town. all i remember of it is that we lived near a creek or a river, and there were alligators or crocodiles that would climb right up out of it. whenever i bitch about houston being a swamp, i remember that place. we were there for six months. my father got there first. my mom followed with my brothers and me. the moment she got there, she told him we weren't staying. if you google that town you get pictures like this:


which make the place seem kind of charming, right? i have no recollection of that, though, probably because i was in academic hell right around then. maybe i should go back.

anyway, he found work in roswell, new mexico. a city that looks like this:


in the middle of a place like this:


and we lived in that desert for a year--first on a military base, and then in a decent house on a corner lot. the only thing i liked about that town was the width of the streets. i learned to ride my bike there. i was nine.

but my daddy missed texas. so we came back here, to a suburb about forty miles north of houston. and, much to my amazement, they've stayed here.

i've come and gone a number of times. to college out of state, in a little bitty town called nevada (pronounced nuhVAYduh), missouri for two years. if it hadn't been for virginia alice cottey, the town would look like this:


then back to texas, to huntsville or home. i switched back and forth a bit.


huntsville's about half an hour north from where i am now. i commuted much of my near four years of college there, and you can see that damned statue from about twenty miles out.


then houston for two. then home, but not with my parents, for about a year.

then san antonio for four. then here, but not home, for about a year. then home, and i've been here ever since.

of those places, i'd say i liked san antonio the best. although, i'm not sure i could say it now. the last time i was there, i saw much too much so-called progress, and all the trees that edged up against the north of loop sixteen-oh-four... they've cut them down to build another mall and a dozen strip centers and more housing developments. i've not been there in three years or so. i don't want to go back.

what i loved about it... the climate, the abundance of trees, the hills, quarry market and the neighborhoods nearby. the backroads that ran east and west from highway thirty-five to interstate ten above the outer loop, between schertz (SHIRTS) and boerne (BERnee). the riverwalk.


the fault in our stars

April 15, 2013

why i wanted to read it: it's on the teen bestsellers bay ALL GOD DAMNED TIME. after having it glare at me (YOU WANT THIS, DON'T YOU?) relentlessly EVERY time i passed by, eventually i was no match for the dark side and crossed to the damned teen fiction category. again.

what i liked: when i was a little kid, i would wade in the white river with my dad and there was always this great moment when he would throw me up in the air, just toss me away from him, and i would reach out my arms as i flew and he would reach out his arms, and then we would both see that our arms were not going to touch and no one was going to catch me, and then i would legs-flailingly hit the water and then come up for air uninjured and the current would bring me back to him as i said again, daddy, again (pp. 54-55).

SO MANY THINGS. that's the only one i'm quoting, because i want you to fall in love with all the deliciousness inside these pages yourself. GO GET IT NOW. revel in the beauty of this beast (and know that it WILL make you cry). specifically, augustus. he might be one of my favorite characters ever. next to victoria and grant. (sorry for distracting you from this awesomesauce, but there's some pretty yummy stuff, as well, in that book there. you should read it. seriously. AFTER you read this one.)

what sucked: the repetition of the line the world is not a wish-granting factory. cancer. peter van houten. kharma.

having said all that: your world will be a thousand times better for having known augustus and hazel.

time of my life

April 12, 2013

why i wanted to read it: because it's one of those what would happen if things, and i like stories that spin that way. like if i hadn't married this guy, if i'd stayed with other one, what would my life be like? if i'm interested in a book, i don't read the first page, i pick a spot... just open it up and read. because i know that a writer's job is to catch you at the first. that's easy. the trick is to keep you. and if the middle of a book sucks, you're gonna put the book down, right? why bother? and what i read, i liked a lot.

what i liked: the premise of the story. most of the characters.

what sucked: i didn't like the main character that much. hardly at all, actually, save for a few instances, none of which were written so well that i feel compelled to share them with you.

usually, you can tell a lot about the life the writer leads by reading what she's written. and sometimes you're right. and sometimes you're wrong. in this case, my gut says that the author's life as been one that coasts. she's not known too much trauma. not personally. she's the cliquish type, the girl who's on the drill team in high school and dates one of the star players on the football team for all four years. and then she goes to college and joins the best sorority and has that circle of friends whose own lives mirror hers in ease and comfort. she graduates. gets the perfect job. marries the perfect guy in the perfect wedding ceremony. has the perfect family. lives in the perfect house. she doesn't want for much, because she gets what she wants most of the time. she's married arthur and lives in camelot. and there's no lancelot to break the idyllic bubble.

but she imagines one. and in this novel, she goes chasing after him.

the main character? she's shallow and selfish, for the most part, though she does have some compassion for a few people. she's a little annoying. not my kind of people.

having said all that: there're two characters that redeem the story a bit: henry and megan. the main character's husband and her best friend. they made me want to finish the thing.

the chance

why i wanted to read it: because the cover's kind of pretty. because i liked the idea--two teenagers, nolan and ellie, write notes to each other and bury them in an old tackle box at the base of their tree, and there the notes shall wait for eleven years before each can read what the other wrote. neither imagines that they won't see each other for that time.

what i liked: the premise of the story. the characters.

what sucked: it's a little too unreal. there's a whole lot of suspension of disbelief here. and since it's not science fiction i'm reading, i was a little perturbed at how schmaltzy it could be. then again, it IS inspirational fiction. and oh, there's god on nearly every page.

having said all that: i found myself turning the pages easily enough. it's a harmless story. wouldn't hurt you to read it. but it's not gonna warm your heart too much, either. if i find a thing i like, something so well written that i want to show it off, i tab the pages. i didn't do that once with this one.