I cry every single time…
But then there’s this:
I cry every single time…
But then there’s this:
I’ve got Spring Fever, and I blame Monty Don, otherwise known as Britain’s Favorite Gardener. After discovering a season of Big Dreams, Small Spaces on Netflix that I hadn’t already seen, I spent a couple of weekend mornings watching intently as people across England transform their backyards with the help of Monty. When I came to the end of the unwatched season I wasn’t satisfied. I started watching Monty Don’s French Gardens, and Monty Don’s Italian Gardens. All of this is on Netflix, ready to be binged. And while you might be saying, “I don’t care about gardening, that show isn’t for me,” I’m going to make a case for why you should all be watching Monty Don.
When I was 14 years old, I wandered into my local Barnes and Nobles with the summer reading list my high school had given me. There were hundreds of options on it that I could hardly make sense of. So I handed it to an employee and she quickly zeroed in on John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany. She told me that if it wasn’t the best book I’d ever read, I could come back to the store and throw it at her.
I never threw the book at her, because it’s still my all-time favorite. If she’s out there, I’d love to thank her.
I’m not one for rereading books. There are just too many new stories to discover, but when I found myself with a few Audible credits to use, I thought, this might be a good way to revisit some old favorites. It can be hard to follow an audiobook for 20 hours or more (though I’m getting better at it), so rather than trying to follow a new story–and incessantly having to rewind–I downloaded my old pal Owen.Continue reading
Over the past month or so, I have wasted an inordinate amount of time watching two guys watch and react to music videos. It started–as so many of my YouTube rabbit holes do–with Jason Isbell. But it quickly led to Chris Stapleton and Amanda Lambert…and even some Alanis Morrissette.
Here’s the premise: Ryan and George, two black men , listen to music you might not expect them to like (based on stereotypes), and they react. I don’t think I have ever wanted to be friends with two people as much as I want to be friends with Ryan and George. Continue reading
I love Tiny Desk Concerts and Patty Griffin. I have no idea how I haven’t seen this before. Obviously YouTube’s algorithm has failed me.
A couple of weeks ago we finally made it to The Stone Church in Brattleboro. If you like live music, it doesn’t get much better than this place. It’s literally an old church with great acoustics, beautiful stained glass, and a giant organ. And boy is it intimate…
Brian and I were there see our friends Ashley Storrow and Putnam Smith. They were opening for a band we hadn’t heard of. They were great, just like we knew they would be.
The big surprise of the night, though, was Town Meeting. It was the best live show I’ve seen in a long time. At one point Brian turned to me and said, “I saw The Dropkick Murphys on the small stage at a Warped Tour back in the ’90s… and I feel like I just had the same kind of experience. We’re never going to be able to see these guys in a setting like this again.” Continue reading
I’m almost always the first one up on Saturday mornings–if you don’t count the dog and cat, who are the ones who wake me up–and I spend my alone-time with Roseanne. I make a cup of tea and I cozy up on the couch with the TV Land marathon of one of my all-time favorite shows.
I loved Roseanne from the beginning. It was the first TV show I ever saw where the people were recognizable to me–who behaved, dressed, talked, and just plain lived like the people I knew. I didn’t grow up in a nuclear family where one parent was a therapist and one was a news anchor. (Shout out to the Seavers!) Nor were they architects (the Keatons!) or doctors or lawyers (the Huxtables). My mom waited tables, my grandmother watched me and my cousin, and my grandfather worked shift-work at the paper mill. If there was ever a family that I could imagine living next door to, it was the Conners. Continue reading
“She reminded me of a warning I was fond of repeating: do not, under any circumstances, belittle a work of fiction by trying to turn it into a carbon copy of real life; what we search for in fiction is not so much reality but the epiphany of truth.” – Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran
These words appear on the first page of Reading Lolita in Tehran, which I took down off the shelf today after finally finishing The Stand by Stephen King. I found both books in the donated piles at the Welles Turner Memorial Library Book Sale–the kind of lovely town event where kids show up towing red wagons and you see spouses barking at each other about who is supposed to cover which table. But after spending the better part of three months with the lone survivors of the super flu (aka Captain Trips), I was on the hunt for something very, very different. Little did I know that the first page of Nafisi’s book would send me back to the often bleak world of The Stand. Continue reading
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m addicted to podcasts. And lately my listening tastes have leaned toward the political.
Here’s the thing, skimming your Facebook and Twitter feeds isn’t really informing you. Even if you’re clicking through to actually read some of those articles, they can only do so much. Sometimes you need more insight or analysis (preferably not of the screaming talking-head variety)…or you just need to have a laugh along with your political chat. That’s when I turn to podcasts. Continue reading
Happy Halloween, ya’ll! The holiday snuck up on me this year, and I actually keep forgetting what day it is. Like, I still don’t have candy… but I do have some podcasts for you to listen to in order to celebrate the spookiest of holidays!
Since Serial fully sucked me into the podcast rabbit hole, I’ve been exploring a wide variety of genres. I like roundtable discussions, true crime stories, and serialized fiction stories. These three podcasts manage to hit on all of those genres. Good luck, and try not to waste too much of your life listening to these…
My Favorite Murder – I’ve been a Murderino for a few months now. You might think a podcast that features two comedians talking about their “favorite murders” would be offensive, but you’d be wrong (and probably have no sense of humor). Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff somehow manage to make talking about horrific murders fun. It helps that their interest in murder is driven, in part, by anxiety about being murdered (something all of us ladies know a little something about). I also highly suggest joing the MFM Facebook group where Murderinos come to talk about the podcast, but more importantly, telling their own stories. You’d be surprised how many people narrowly miss being murdered. Continue reading
Swamplandia! first caught my attention when I heard about it on NPR (or here). If you’d asked me, I would have said the book came out in 2014, but apparently it was 2011. Time just keeps slipping away…
It took me a while to really get into the book. It made me chuckle and the lovely writing kept me going, but I wasn’t sure where it was headed (which, I guess, is a good thing in a world where so much seems so obvious all the time). But in the end I was glad I stuck it out.
Author Karen Russell told NPR, “The Bigtree family members have created their own fantastical history springing from their alligator-wrestling tradition, but in reality, they’re just the lowly operators of a shabby tourist attraction in a swamp.” Swamplandia! is funny, and weird, and heartbreaking. You’ll find yourself wishing the place was real so you could give the family your tourist dollars… but if you don’t like to see characters you care about punished, it may not be for you.
A couple of days ago I went to visit a friend, and she told me a story that stuck with me as the single most of-the-moment tale I’ve ever heard. I decided it needed to be told to a wider audience.
You’ve heard about Pokemon Go, right? If not, you have somehow successfully avoided the internet, the local news, and pop-culture as a whole for the past week, and I salute you. Basically, an augmented reality game meant for children has taken over the world, and adults are now wandering around staring at their mobile devices looking for “hidden” cartoons.
At the end of last month I decided to use this year’s NaNoWriMo as an impetus to finish the romance I’ve been working on — or at least make some decent progress on it. Before National Novel Writing Month even got underway I ran into a snag. I heard back from my editor about another book, and he needed me to go over a few small queries within a few days, and I happened to be going away for the weekend. I managed to get the queries answered in time, but over the past week I’ve developed a few practical tips for actually getting a significant amount of writing done.
These tips can only help set you up for success. The truth is, writing an entire novel in a month is not easy. At times it will feel practically impossible. The only way to make it happen, is to just do it.
Like much of America I quit my job, stopped eating, and refused to leave my house last autumn after I became obsessed with Serial. Ok, so none of that is true, but I did love the podcast. My dog and I take a long walk every afternoon (or morning, depending on the time of year) and I like to listen to podcasts while we walk. I listened to just about every episode more than once, and when it ended I had to search for podcasts to fill the hole.
I’d already run through most of Marc Maron’s archives, and because I listen to NPR in my office, I didn’t really want to listen to any of its offerings. So here are some of the podcasts (Serial-related and otherwise) to fill the hole between seasons. Continue reading