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Friday Five3

At UNT, it’s close-down day and graduation day and block party and we’re tired. So here are some comforting things from the internet. I know I need them. Do you?

  1. Joy the Baker’s strawberry pie bars. These sound delicious. I bet you could make them with blueberries, too.
  2. RED PANDAS ARE THE CUTEST.
  3. Long-suffering animal moms.
  4. Bookshop with a coffee shop and a piano. Pretty much what I imagine Heaven looks like.
  5. And finally – the way I would like any pun delivered to me. Via Husky:6.26.16-Bad-Pun-Husky4

Hope you’re having a good day!

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I have danced around a way to express this particular value. I struggled (and still struggle) with finding the exact wording I wanted to say everything that it encompasses. I’m still not sure that I found the right one, so I’ll just call it “story” and say a lot of other words to go with it.

First I want to detail what story is not to me.

Story is not an argument for a position. A better word for that might be “reason” or “data.” It’s not that story isn’t strong enough or even true enough for belief to take hold. It’s just that one person’s story is so customized to his or her individual needs and position that it doesn’t always translate to the common good. For every story that supports one way of thinking, there is usually another equally valid, equally true story that supports the opposite point of view. I get frustrated, therefore, when people expect me to be dissuaded from my opinion by their story alone.

[I’m sure the frustration is mutual. Our stories are powerful that way.]

It’s not that I don’t believe them. It’s that I also believe others.

Thinking through this concept started as “listening.” But listening does not encompass the whole value. Story also creates empathy. When I hear where someone is coming from, I feel for them. Even if I come from a very different place. Even if I still disagree. It softens my sharp edges toward them.

[Not that I thrust sharp edges at people, of course. I don’t know where you heard that.]

Story also creates curiosity and wonder for me. I think that’s what I love most about it. Hearing the stories that people tell about themselves – the specific ones they choose out of the millions they have to choose from – makes me want to know more about them. I love it when they tell stories they didn’t mean to tell about themselves (not so much when they tell others’ stories for them).

My love of story is the main reason I write fiction. When I told my aunt about the premise of Fishbowl, she asked to hear about one of the scenes when Bob and Jenny talked to one another. I read her one of my favorites, and she responded, “That’s just how it is. That’s wonderful.”

Just how it is. Best compliment I can imagine getting.

When I hear a person’s story, I know I’m hearing their world just how it is (in their mind, at least, even if that reality exists nowhere else). It’s an honor to be trusted with that.

Friday Five 4

Welcome to Friday, everyone. You did it! You survived the week. Hopefully it wasn’t too difficult.

I love these things:

Hope the rest of your Friday goes smoothly and you enjoy your weekend!

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.

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