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wire

“The reason we still are engaged with the show today is because it really expressed the most important role of art, which is the form where we reflect on what our values are, decide what they are and then act on them.” – Wendell Pierce, as quoted in All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire by Jonathan Abrams.

Die hard fans of The Wire will love this book. People who have never heard of the show might want to watch after reading it (although why anyone would read if if they hadn’t seen it is a mystery. And maybe they shouldn’t read too far, because spoilers). Then there are those of us who fall in the middle.

This book is a slow read. Abrams basically conducted a lot of interviews and then transcribed them, cleaned up the verbal fillers a little (which I appreciate), and pasted them into a manuscript. That’s the majority of the book. As a writer, I find this lazy. As a fan of the show and many of the actors on it, I found it interesting to hear their take on the show in their own words.

In a way, this format is a nod to The Wire itself. The show gives us a view of the cracks in society from a variety of angles and perspectives. The book gives us what the show meant (and still means) to the people involved in it who came from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives.

The saving grace of the book was that it showed how The Wire did what art is supposed to do: to challenge, to provoke, to activate. I knew the show’s writing was good, but I didn’t know how intricate the research process had been or how involved in the city the cast, crew, and production became while filming it. Abrams’s interviews give the reader a behind-the-scenes look that was intimate and unique, and I’m not sure that a more narrative style of writing would have pulled that off.

I received a copy of All the Pieces Matter from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

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“All sorrows are less with bread.” – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

To prolong the celebration of Michelle’s birthday, we spent a morning at Quixote Bakery Cafe in Richland Hills. It took us a minute to find it. We were looking for a pink house, but there were several pink houses. The Facebook page has a picture with a bicycle on it, but I presumed the bicycle belonged to a patron. Turns out, it does not. It’s an adorable part of the outdoor decoration, and the cafe just gets cuter as you walk in.

As the name suggests, the decor is a visual ode to Don Quixote. There are many drawings on the wall (which you can purchase). There is paraphernalia that relates to various scenes in the book. The wi-fi password is a nod to Dulcinea. I was utterly charmed.

The menu is a pretty standard bakery menu, but the pastries are not standard bakery fare. They are fresh and delicious. We originally ordered two croissants but hastily returned for more and continued to gorge ourselves. I recommend doing the same (but only if you have time for a nap later). We finished with a cream puff and their creme brulee. Heaven.

And now the part you’ve all been waiting for. How is the coffee? I was prepared to receive a mediocre cup, because usually when a shop excels in one area (i.e., the delicious baked goods), something has to give somewhere else. Not so at Quixote. The first sip was the perfect complement to the chocolate croissant I was in the midst of devouring. They use locally roasted beans (Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters, if memory serves me correctly), so their coffee is as fresh as their food.

The owner and the staff are friendly and unrushed. They seemed to delight in taking the time to answer my questions. I think I even noticed a twinkle in his eye when he was describing the coffee. My people.

If you are near Glenview Drive in Richland Hills, stop in for a snack at Quixote. You won’t be sorry!

Friday Five 4

Drive-by posting after a long week. Here are some fun things from the intrawebs this week:

  1. 50 Mums, 50 Kids, 1 Extra Chromosome. I defy you to watch this and not get sniffly.
  2. Save your mascara wands to save wildlife. There’s an address at the end of the video.
  3. The music lessons your parents forced you to take did good things for you. The thing missing from this list? They gave you music.
  4. I have long been skeptical about microwaved mug brownies. Leigh Kramer proved me wrong. This brownie is awesome.
  5. And I know it’s not for a while, but APRIL 5 IS NATIONAL CARAMEL DAY AND BETH MARIE’S IS DOING A THING.

This weekend, I’m going to rest and read and probably watch The Wire. Have a good weekend, everyone!

perfect

I expected to either love or hate this book. I like good satire, but it is an art. It’s hard to land in that sweet spot between utterly unfunny and abrasively condescending. And when the book is billed as being reminiscent of The Onion, my skepticism kicks in. I’ll be the judge of that, book.

So I was surprised when my general response to The Babylon Bee’s How To Be a Perfect Christian was, “Heh. That was kinda funny.” I expected a more extreme reaction.

Throughout the book, the authors give updates on how you are doing on your journey to become the perfect (tongue-firmly-in-cheek) Christian. It was mildly humorous. I get that continuity is the bedrock of good storytelling, but unless you have somewhere new to go with a joke at every turn, it’s really only funny the first time.

There were a few snarky sucker punches that, in the context of their chapters, were well timed. Of course, I lol-ed at this one:

“The church cafe is like an inferior version of Starbucks, which is already an inferior version of real coffee shops.”

And how many of us who have attended a charismatic missions conference have not at least once thought something like this (if you have been to such a conference and swear this never crossed your mind, I direct you to Revelation 21:8):

“Is the backup singer speaking in tongues or is she just improvising absolute gibberish? That’s between her and Jesus.”

My favorite section was the part on deciphering Christianese:

  • “I’m just waiting on the Lord right now,” is code for “I am still living with my parents.”
  • “I really feel like this is God’s will for my life,” means “I’m sick of people pointing out the glaringly obvious flaws in my life plan, so I’ll just slap the handy ‘God’s will’ label on it to silence the wisdom of my critics.”
  • And my personal favorite – “We just invite your presence into this place now, Father God,” as a subtle message to the congregation: “None of you heathens were clapping during that last song. Get it together, people.”

Overall, this was an enjoyable read for someone whose experience in the Christian church has been mostly not terrible. If you know (and more importantly, have been hurt by) too many people who proselytize the works-based righteousness satirized within, I recommend passing this book by. It’s probably too soon for this to be funny to you now (or maybe ever). I also do not recommend it for those who equate praying with talking to an imaginary friend, because (spoiler alert) the wrap-up at the end might be too Christian-y for you.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Blogging for Books.

Friday Five3

YAY IT’S FRIDAY! And not just any Friday but the Friday before Spring Break, which means that (while we don’t get a full week off) even staff still get a three-day weekend. I’m taking full advantage of the free Monday to go to the goth club for old school night on Sunday.

Today’s list is a rich collection of things I’m excited to see and make and do and think about.

  1. UNT (and SFT, the building where I used to work) alum Bola Ogun’s short “Are We Good Parents?” is at SXSW. It was awesome to read her interview here.
  2. Lin-Manuel Miranda is a delight. I love watching him watch Weird Al’s Hamilton polka. I am also very excited about Mary Poppins Returns!
  3. That embarrassing moment when your dentist calls you out on the internet for breaking your retainer, followed closely by the amazing moment the person you broke it over offers to pay for it.
  4. Some reminders that I needed that self-awareness is harder work than it seems and that there is a way to get news that does not break your soul.
  5. Have I mentioned (this month) how much I love Joy the Baker? Her weekly Let it be Sunday! posts are gems. This week’s post has me craving parmesan pecorino biscuits.

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope your day has been great and your weekend is even greater!

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Last month went by super fast, and it looked a lot different from January. In January, I read, walked, wrote, and played voraciously. Feverishly, even. In February, I fell into more of a sustainable rhythm, and I think it’s a good one. I didn’t read as much as I wanted to, but I have plotted out some time in the near future to remedy that.

Three Favorite Meals:

  • I made taco spaghetti for my Masterminds writing group gathering, and it was delicious. You can check out the recipe, but basically take all the things you put in a taco shell and throw it on top of pasta. DELICIOUS.
  • My brother-in-law made omelettes and buckwheat pancakes for my sister’s birthday. It was super filling and glorious.
  • I have been craving peanut butter and jelly all month. In related news, I think I ate more bread in February than I ate in the previous three months combined. Not the healthiest choice, but my bank account sure liked it.

Three Favorite Events:

  • My supper club met after a loooong hiatus. We came to my house and had waffles. There may have also been croissants and Nutella. So. Much. Nutella. It was good to hang out with folks.
  • I finally got to see the Communication department’s production of What We Talk About When We Talk About Race. They wrote the production together based on conversations they had over dinner (and many wines). It did not disappoint.
  • My sister turned 40! We spent the day together, eating and shopping and watching The Greatest Showman.

Three Random Favorites:

  • Redken’s No Blow Dry Just Right Cream. It tames my waves without making my hair crunchy, and it makes my head smell like a bouquet of gardenias. I am in love.
  • The blanket I’m knitting (see above). I have been looking for something to put on my bed, and I can’t find anything that I like, so I just decided to make it. A year later, it’s almost finished.
  • Midweek Lenten services. We are using Holden Evening Prayer, which is one of my favorite services of the year. I even got to cantor last week, which was a neat experience.

Three Things I’m Looking Forward To:

  • March is a great month. Not only is it Staff Appreciation Month at UNT (i.e., free food aplenty and lots of events on campus), but it’s also my birth month! Happy!
  • I get a little break starting next week. I’m going to use my days off to go to the old school reunion at the club one weekend and visit my parents the next.
  • I’ve started my final push to finish my Fishbowl manuscript. I’m averaging 1,000 words a day until it’s done. So far, so good!

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer. Hop over and see what others are into!

Happy

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Coffee with friends = ❤

It seems like cheating to list happiness as a core value, so I’m not going to do that. While I’m sure that there are some people who don’t value happiness, I think most people probably list “happy” as something they’d like to be or as something they enjoy being. It also seems to be what a large corner of the self-help market tries to help us achieve. I don’t know how good most of us are at getting there without work.

I just finished Gabrielle Union’s audio version of We’re Going to Need More Wine, and a line stood out to me. “When you’re in a place where you don’t know what makes you happy, it’s really easy to be an asshole.” That makes a lot of sense to me. The times it’s easiest to be mean are the times when I’m in a fog or a funk and can’t find a way to get myself out of it. So for those times, I’m just going to leave this list of things that make me happy.

  1. Having dinner with people I love. Whether I’m having friends over or being invited over as a guest or eating with family, I love sharing meals with people. I like cooking for people and seeing them enjoy it. I also like not having to cook. Feeding people and being fed may be one of my love languages.
  2. Reading. That is, most reading. Occasionally, I will trudge my way through a book that tries to eat my soul, but most of the reading I do is relaxing. Even if it’s challenging or outside my typical comfort zone, those challenges energize me.
  3. Fresh, ripe peaches. They save the day during my least favorite season. All the oppressive heat of summer is worth it when I see peaches at the farmers’ market.
  4. Doing laundry. I know it’s weird. But I find it so soothing. I think it’s the sound of the dryer. Sometimes I wait to pop the last load in the dryer until I go to bed, just so I can go to sleep to the sound. I also enjoy that the ratio of effect to effort is larger with laundry than with other chores.
  5. Seeing something beautiful when I walk into my apartment. Whether it is a vase of flowers on the table, the Christmas tree lit up, or just an uncharacteristically neat living room, it immediately puts me at peace.
  6. A wide, open sky. Wine and sunset, coffee and sunrise, country drive or road trip, rain or shine. The sky is my favorite part of nature.
  7. My dad telling stories about his dogs. It’s Dad at his most animated. I think it makes him happy, too.

What would be on your list?

 

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