Escaping in Texas

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Texas is full of little surprises. One of them is a beautiful little bed and breakfast in Brownwood, Texas, called Star of Texas. My wife and I were happy to have discovered this place many years ago, and just drove down here today to celebrate our 20th anniversary (a tiny bit early). They offer, “…private cottages and other unique lodging experiences, and we deliver a full hot breakfast to your room each morning around 9 am.”

We were desperate for a get-away, and Star of Texas fits the bill nicely. It’s southwest of Dallas with zero “city” to contend with, and northwest of Austin so the “weird” doesn’t rub off too badly. 🙂

I can’t recommend the place enough for a quiet, secluded time away from the stress of every day life! Click below for a couple of pics, if you’re interested.

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One of these days

Music, Personal 1 Comment

I love the Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl is a terrific musician on everything he performs, and the Foo never fails to disappoint.

One song on their “Wasting Light” album always gets my blood pumping: These Days. I heard it on the radio again this morning and remembered how much I enjoy it. The message I take from the lyrics is that, in the face of overwhelming pain and suffering, it’s “easy to say” that everything will be “alright,” but that doesn’t make the pain go away any faster, or make it hurt less, and anyone who thinks different has likely never suffered the same way.

The premise of the lyrics reminds me of the argument that, “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” In some cases, I wonder if, instead, “ignorance is bliss.”

Great song, great build, classic Foo Fighters. The abbreviated lyrics are below.

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Music, Personal 1 Comment

Once again, I’ve gotta hand it to the Amarillo College radio station. They introduce me to new music nearly every week.

I’ve heard this song a couple of times, but this morning it hit me how much I loved how it sounded. It just makes me happy. I like music that makes me happy. 🙂 I grabbed the mini-album it’s on and checked out the lyrics today. What a cool and beautiful tune.

I have to post this song, and I have to say, I think this one should go out to my wife, Cynthia. After nearly 20 years, she’s stubbornly stuck by my side. Being married, having kids, running a household – it turns out these things can be really tricky, and sometimes flat-out hard as hell. Sometimes it’s not fun. Often it’s a lot of work. I’m just lucky I found someone who isn’t afraid of that, even when sometimes I am.

Here’s to you, babe:

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Colder than…

Personal No Comments

Ever since I was young, I’ve loved comedy. Whether enjoying it alone or with friends and family, stand-up comedy, for me, is an incredible salve for stress, a great way to take the edge off the sharpest times, and more than anything, a way to laugh. Off the top of my head, my favorite stand-up comics are Louis C.K., Ricky Gervais, Jim Gaffigan – and I would never turn down a chance to see Jerry Seinfeld perform.

To stay slightly on-topic (this site is about writing after all), I have a particular appreciation for comedy writing. This weekend, I was browsing through stand-up routines on Netflix, and I came across a great show by Arj Barker from 2010 called “Arj Barker: LYAO.” In addition to a cute web animated series called “Arj and Poopy,” Arj played a memorable character named “Dave” on the very-funny HBO series Flight of the Conchords, a ridiculous musical comedy that got a lot of laughs out of me.

His set was full of quirks, but this particular twist on a common phrase had my wife and I chuckling for a long time:

Oh yeah, it’s cold, man. It’s as cold as I’ve ever seen. When I was walking over here tonight, somebody had dropped a witch’s tit on the sidewalk and all these people gathered around it, and they were warming their hands on it like it was a campfire. Just to tell you how cold it is.

If you like slightly off-the-wall stand-up, I highly recommend this paticular set by Arj. You can watch it on Netflix here: Arj Barker: LYAO. (The bit I’m referring to is at 1:40.)

As a side note, Jerry Seinfeld’s new web series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” is absolutely worth your time, if the idea of two comedians sitting around, driving in interesting cars, having coffee and making random conversation sounds appealing to you.

Keep smiling!

No, I didn’t forget

Music, Personal 2 Comments

I haven’t forgotten to post, I just haven’t done it. Honestly, I just didn’t have anything to say.

I came across a song that struck a particular note with me. Today seemed like the perfect day to post the lyrics (especially since I haven’t posted in over two years). The song is called “Right As Rain,” by Courrier, a band out of Austin. I have no idea why I haven’t heard this song before. It was apparently released last year. I grabbed the rest of the album, “A Violent Flame,” and there are some other great songs in there, “Between,” in particular.

Sometimes a song just finds you at the right time, I guess. There are some really beautiful lines in there. For me, it has a beautiful usage of the “right as rain” passage as a double entendre. It’s a fantastic song. The lyrics, and a link to the song on iTunes, are below.

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So glad I didn’t fall in love with iPhone

Personal 3 Comments

I’ve watched in amazement as good friends ran alongside the ever-moving iPhone train, grappled with the rushing behemoth, then jumped on board.  Ever since, I’ve continued to see more and more flaws and failures in the iPhone and bundled/add-on applications.

Now it seems that Apple can decide to disable applications you purchased legally through their Apple Store.  One minute it works, the next, poof.  I’ve read stories about legitimate apps appearing, then disappearing (then reappearing, then re-disappearing) from the Apple Store.  I’ve read about MobileMe, and even how Jobs himself isn’t impressed with how Apple has handled this product.

All I know is, I’m happy to have grabbed my Palm Centro for $99 when I did.  Otherwise I might have heard the siren song – big touchscreen, elegant phone, beautiful colors, neato features.  I can see the appeal, but for all the hassle?  Not worth it for me.


NaNoWriMo, Personal 1 Comment

I know that they’re not really related, but I opened my just-finished novel and “copied” the last two words into this post’s “Title” space so that you can at least share the joy of those two words with me – even though the ones you see are only the electronic cousins of the ones I typed earlier this evening.

Typing “The End” has never felt as sweet as when I completed the 52,455 words I wrote for my NaNoWriMo novel this year. It ended the first novel I’ve ever written, and the longest body of work I’ve ever tackled – easily longer than every story or poem I’ve written in my life combined, and then some.  The entire novel is 55,408 words after I integrated a short story I wrote a couple of years ago.  I even had time to edit it and make it fit appropriately.

I can call myself a novelist now, and I will be. I printed the final copy of the first draft of “The Secret to Escape” and fanned the pages, looking at all the words. It’s a great feeling. THANK YOU to everyone who wrote with encouragement. I hope to post a sample chapter or scene at some point in the future. For now, I’m going to back away from it slowly and try to ignore it while my wife reads it, then tackle it again for the rewrite sometime in December.

NaNo Update: Speedbumps

NaNoWriMo, Personal No Comments

Just when I thought everything was rocking along and I was assured (from the book about NaNo and many testimonials) that Week 3 would be a mad rush of creative juice that I would be wise to utilize to up my word count, instead, I fell behind, caught up, then fell behind again. All has not been lost, however.

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NaNo Update: It’s all downhill from here

NaNoWriMo, Personal No Comments

I’ve crossed a milestone that I’ve been looking forward to for a while. As of 3:00pm today, I’m officially “over the hump” on my NaNo word count at a smooth 25,021 words. This puts me ahead of schedule, and I’m still not done for today. I’m finally getting to flesh out some back story that I’ve been mulling over for since Day 1. I’m excited to get it done and complete “Part One” of the novel. It will finally let my brain focus on how this thing starts to turn and zoom toward the finish line. Yay!

NaNo – Week 2

NaNoWriMo, Personal No Comments

Update, 10:30pm: I’ll be away from the Internet for the next couple of glorious days, so this is my final word count update until Sunday night! Until further notice, I’m at 14,457.

It’s Day One of Week Two of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). So far, so good. As of this post I have written 12,922 in my NaNoWriMo novel, and I’m still slightly ahead of schedule. Tuesday was a bad day. Wednesday made up for most of it, but I cut a chunk out of my lead that I wanted to hold onto for a while.

Se la vie.

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