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Broken Horses by Brandi Carlile

April 15, 2022 | Uncategorized

For some reason, Brandi Carlile has flown under my radar for a good 15 years. Granted, her feet are rooted in country music, even though she’s not necessarily a “country” country artist. I have opinions about country music — and she articulates in her book some of the things I find problematic about it — but she has performed on awards shows (that I somehow missed) and in collaboration with musical artists I adore. I somehow missed all that until just recently.

I saw her perform a Joni Mitchell song for the Kennedy Center Honors, which aired in December. I have since learned that she performs Joni’s entire Blue album. Then I saw her New Year’s performance with Miley Cyrus. And I was stunned. Who is this? Has she been here this whole time? How did I not see her before? I decided not to be mad about it but to be happy that I had something good to discover in 2022. Listening to all her music was like having a wild bird land and settle in my hand for longer than I would have ever thought possible. And it felt like I held my breath the whole time.

Listening to her book was a special treat. At the end of every chapter she sang a song or two or more. Every musical artist’s memoir should be done like this. Give me a chapter on your life, then play me the songs you wrote about that chapter of your life. And joke about Elton John if you can. I bought the Kindle version of Broken Horses, hoping to find a photo of her Honky Cat getup. Sadly, it wasn’t there. But her book and her music … what lovely things to put out in the world. Experience them if you get a chance.

Posted by Becky @ 6:01 pm | Comments  

Winding down with 2021

December 31, 2021 | Chaos,Geraldine DeRuiter,Jennifer Hudson,Julie K. Brown,Lyz Lenz,New Year,Nikole Hanna-Jones,Pandemic,Pandemonium,Renee Watson,SNL,Stephanie Land,Twitter,Writing

Is this thing still on? I guess we’ll see.

My 2021:

Vaxxed, boosted, flu-shotted, masked.

Started catching up on medical stuff that had been postponed or canceled for far too long.

Started going back to the salon.

Continued grocery delivery.

Traveled for Thanksgiving (carefully & masked).

Thinking I should probably start canceling all my appointments again (if they’re not canceled for me).

Getting ready to hunker down again in 2022.

Sigh.

Betty White died on New Year’s Eve.

Dammit.

My reading has been waning, but I did consume some interesting media and art this year.

I listened to Perversion of Justice: The Jeffrey Epstein Story by Julie K. Brown, the Miami Herald reporter who doggedly investigated and covered Epstein and was there in New York when the jury found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of sex trafficking children.

I watched Maid on Netflix. Because of that, I had to listen to the book, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land (foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich, whose work I have read and recommend). Both intense and excellent.

I subscribed to the Lyz Lenz newsletter called Men Yell at Me. I’ve read her books, and I follow her on Twitter. She lives in Iowa. She is hilarious and serious as a heart attack.

This was the most amazing thing I read on Twitter this year: “Bros., Lecce: We Eat at the Worst Michelin Starred Restaurant, Ever” (https://everywhereist.com/2021/12/bros-restaurant-lecce-we-eat-at-the-worst-michelin-starred-restaurant-ever/) by Geraldine DeRuiter. Amazing in that it just kept getting worse and worse until you thought it couldn’t get any worse. And then it did. And watching what happened online after that was amazing, too.

Now I have to listen to her book, All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft. I guess it’s about time. I’ve been following her on Twitter for a while now.

I got the hard copy of Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renee Watson (illustrated by Nikkolas Smith), and I’ve started listening to The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones.

I don’t know if I’ll get to them, but here are some books I hope to listen to this year:

(I got Bell’s Palsy a day before my first child was born. It has never completely gone away. I tried not to let it bother me for the most part. But it really hurt when someone laughed and called me “Grace” when I struggled to eat a sandwich because my face is still partially numb. I still have the numb face. I no longer have that someone in my life.)

I watched Babette’s Feast again after editing a review of a play performance of it. Such a sweet story and worth a second viewing experience.

I watched Respect, a film starring Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin. She was superb.

I watched the Summer of Soul documentary. If you love music, you will love this.

I watched Field of Dreams again before watching Kevin Costner return to Iowa to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the movie with a real-life major-league baseball game. Experiencing the movie again was less bittersweet than experiencing the anniversary commemoration.

I watched Get Back, the Beatles documentary series. I couldn’t watch it all at once. I was mostly relieved that it didn’t show anyone to be a complete jerk. The most amazing parts were watching a couple of their songs being born right before our very eyes.

Some of my favorite TV shows are Yellowjackets, Kenan, and We’re Here. I got hooked on TikTok and Dave Grohl. I didn’t even know about the Hanukkah Sessions until I saw him cover “Copacabana.” Then I discovered his Night One cover of “Stay.”

Even with all of that, though, my heart this year belongs to Ted Lasso and all the weird, wonderful characters in his world. It was an extra treat that he was host on SNL. I can’t wait for the next season.

All this beauty made 2021 suck less than it would have without it. I will say to 2022 in my best RuPaul voice, “Good luck and don’t fuck it up.”

Posted by Becky @ 5:06 pm | Comments  

Father’s Day without you

June 19, 2016 | Dad,Family,Father's Day

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You visited me in a dream last night. That hasn’t happened for a while. As usual, you didn’t talk to me. You were busy doing something for me, though. You were working on my taxes. You wore a checked short-sleeve shirt and dress pants. You also wore fuzzy slippers. “Where did he get THOSE?” I wondered. At some point, I realized this was a dream and I might not see you again for a while. I didn’t want to waste my chance, so I walked up to you and gave you a hug. You wrapped your arms around me and held me tight. Thank you for that. Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you.

Posted by Becky @ 9:50 am | Comments  

Books: The Fiddler in the Subway

June 11, 2016 | Authors,Books,Gene Weingarten,Journalism,Writing

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Title: The Fiddler in the Subway (Simon & Schuster, New York, New York, 2010)
Author: Gene Weingarten is a nationally syndicated humor columnist and writer for The Washington Post. He is the only two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing. With his son, Dan Weingarten, and cartoonist David Clark, he is the author of Barney & Clyde, a daily newspaper comic strip launched in June 2010. He lives in Washington, D.C.

What happens when you pick up the last book you will ever read? When the writing is so good that it will ruin everything else for you? Gene Weingarten’s writing did that for me. This book — The Fiddler in the Subway — is a collection of feature writing he has done at The Washington Post. Two of the pieces won Pulitzer Prizes.

Only three stories in — The Great Zucchini, The First Father and The Ghost of the Hardy Boys — and I thought, “If you want to write, read this book. If you want to teach others to write, use this book. When I write, I want to write like this.” It is beautiful, masterful stuff.

Reading further, I thought, “I can’t recommend this book. I just can’t. It will ruin every other writer for you until the end of time. I don’t know if I can read anything else after this book.”

Then I mustered my best Jimmy Dugan voice and yelled, “There’s no crying in journalism! Why is he making me cry?”

I read “Pardon My French” on the 72nd anniversary of D-Day in Normandy. It’s the one that made me laugh out loud. Then giggle at how delicious it was that he found just the right way to get the most honest responses from French folks. He calls it the Machine. I call it hilarious.

Every paragraph in “Fatal Distraction” is a punch to the gut. I almost couldn’t bear to read it. But I let Weingarten take me by the hand and gently lead me through the horrific experiences of the people in this piece.

Weingarten quotes Franz Kafka: “The meaning of life is that it ends.” This is the heart of everything he writes. This is what breathes life into every word.

Is this the last book I’ll ever read? Well, no. I could no more stop reading than I could stop breathing. I will, however, measure everything else I read against Weingarten’s writing.

——————————————–

Thanks to Jeff Sharlet, who suggests so much good writing. He led me to Weingarten. “Thanks” is not enough, but it will have to do.

 

Posted by Becky @ 10:33 am | Comments  

Poems & photos: LOVE IN THINE EYES

May 4, 2016 | Love,Photography,Poetry

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PHOTO: Old valentine © DMBR

—Victorian verse

Posted by Becky @ 8:42 am | Comments  

When purple became the color of mourning

May 1, 2016 | Music

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PHOTO: Mementos on the fence at Paisley Park © DMBR

I took my twins to the Twin Cities yesterday to celebrate turning 12. Since we were there, we drove by Paisley Park. We had no idea what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect what was there. Officials blocked off the turning lane. (I had to drive to the next stoplight and make a U-turn.) They posted “no parking” signs. Nearby businesses chained off their parking lots. But I still found a place to park. Hundreds of cars. Hundreds of people. Everyone in their own little world — alone or with their group — and yet together. Subdued. Quiet. Kind. Even in cars, letting someone in. Almost as if the whole thing were orchestrated. We walked along the entire length of the fence. As we made our way back to the entrance, we heard from a car making its way back out of the area the unmistakable tune and lyrics of “Little Red Corvette.” Perfect ending.

Posted by Becky @ 12:55 pm | 2 Comments  

Poems & photos: Good Fortune

April 22, 2016 | Photography,Poetry

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GOOD FORTUNE

Good fortune is a giddy maid,
Fickle and restless as a fawn;
She smooths your hair; and then the jade
Kisses you quickly, and is gone.
But Madam Sorrow scorns all this;
She shows no eagerness for flitting,
But with a long and fervent kiss
Sits by your bed — and brings her knitting.

Heinrich Heine

PHOTO: Flower, Cody, Wyoming © DMBR

Posted by Becky @ 5:03 pm | Comments  

Poems & photos: Friendship

April 21, 2016 | Florida,Friends,Photography,Poetry

© Rebecca Gjendem

FRIENDSHIP

Oh, the comfort — the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person,
Having neither to weigh thoughts,
Nor measure words — but pouring them
All right out — just as they are —
Chaff and grain together —
Certain that a faithful hand will
Take and sift them —
Keep what is worth keeping —
And with the breath of kindness
Blow the rest away.

Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

PHOTO: Azaleas, Tampa, Florida © DMBR

Posted by Becky @ 7:53 am | Comments  

Poems & photos: One Heart

April 19, 2016 | Forest City,Iowa,Photography,Poetry

birdsflying

ONE HEART
Look at the birds. Even flying
is born

out of nothing. The first sky
is inside you, open

at either end of day.
The work of wings

was always freedom, fastening
one heart to every falling thing.

Li-Young Lee

PHOTO: Grackles flying over trees near Forest City, Iowa © DMBR

Posted by Becky @ 12:20 pm | Comments  

Books: Writing Home

September 30, 2014 | Authors,Books,Family

books-writinghomecindylaferle

Title: Writing Home (Hearth Stone Books, Royal Oak, Michigan, 2005)
Author: Cindy La Ferle‘s essays and columns have appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, Reader’s Digest, Country Gardens, Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion, Writer’s Digest, The Oakland Press, The Royal Oak Daily Tribune and many other publications. She lives with her family in Royal Oak, Michigan.

What a wonderful collection of essays! Cindy La Ferle is a great observer of human nature, and she is a brilliant writer with a calm and assuring voice. Many of her essays brought me to tears, especially the ones she wrote about her son. My children are in between the stages of childhood and teenage-hood. I look into their faces that keep changing yet staying true to who they are — and I try to savor every moment with them. Her words remind me that this motherhood ride is an exciting one with the milestones speeding by in the blink of an eye.

“The sacred is in the ordinary. It is found in one’s daily life — in friends, family, and neighbors; in one’s own backyard.” Thanks, Cindy, for reminding me.

Posted by Becky @ 1:40 pm | Comments  


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