Sunday, August 15, 2010

Footwear Essentials

In approximately 4-5 business days, I'll be wearing these until they fall apart. Even then, I'll probably pay big bucks to have them stitched back together. That's what my husband does with his boots, a pair of 1883 Luccheses.

I'm a boot snob, I won't lie. I turn my nose up at rubber soles. But I'm guilty of wanting champagne on a beer budget when it comes to boots. I want soft leather, perfect stitching, good support, no break-in, a leather sole, a clean, cold echo in the heel. But I don't have two large to drop on a pair of boots. Who does?

In a perfect world, I'd spring for a pair of Luccheses--handmade, custom boots out of El Paso, Texas. But it's hard to find a pair under $300, and even a pair under $500 is looking at the low-end of things. One day, my friends. One day. In the meantime, Tony Lamas are a close second. The countdown starts now.

I've been in the market for new boots for a while. But let me tell you, pickins' is slim in this part of the world. They stack up a few boxes of cheesy Ariats with faux pink ostrich and rubber, tire tread soles and call them "cowboy boots." Please. (See below for reference)

Luckily, has a fine selection of western-style boots. Um, no tax? FREE shipping?! Sign. me. up.

By the by, Galveston is going pretty darn well. I have the inkling it's going to leave me feeling a little numb after I turn the last page. I'm preparing myself already.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Galveston: A Novel

Twice in one week. What can I say, I'm on a roll. But I think it's time to face the music: the literary and movie-making worlds have Texas on the brain.

I read about Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto in Texas Monthly recently and put it on my list. After all, I've spent a fair amount of time browsing the earthy boutiques on the Strand, pretending to like Moody Gardens, and shaking off the chills when I catch one of those '1900 Storm Survivor' badges on one of the buildings. Indeed, Galveston is the neighbor of my childhood.

But today, whilst stalking books on Amazon, my clicking finger hovering feverishly over the Whispersync button (have I mentioned I love Kindle for PC?), the powers that be tossed Galveston onto my recommendations list. Why do I get the feeling I'm being watched?

Needless to say, that $11.99 Kindle price didn't faze me and I will be devouring Galveston this weekend. I mean, wouldn't you?:

"On the same day in 1987 he's diagnosed with lung cancer, Roy Cady flees New Orleans, taking along Raquel Rocky Arceneaux, a pretty 18-year-old with a lurid past, whom he rescues from some hoods in the wake of a bloodbath. Rocky persuades him to stop in Orange, Texas, to pick up Tiffany, her three-year-old sister, and by the time they reach refuge in a rundown Galveston motel, 40-year-old Roy finds himself an unlikely father figure even as he struggles with a romantic attraction to Rocky. Pizzolatto's insightful portrayal of the heroic Roy, who takes a beating for trying to help the two girls, is rough and tumble real. As Pizzolatto switches smoothly between past and present, he vividly captures Galveston in all its desperate vulnerability as it faces the approach of Hurricane Ike in September 2008."

I'm sorry, Mr. Pizzolatto, but have we met somewhere before? This novel sounds like it was written to and for moi, not to sound self-centered or anything crazy like that. A lovable criminal? A deteriorating southern backdrop? A somewhat questionable love story? Um, yes, yes, and yes, wrap that up for me please.

Not to mention, the book is set practically in my back yard. My beloved father was once the district leading rusher for the Little Cypress Bears in Orange, Texas. And Hurricane Ike kept that same father (and mother and sister) stranded in Memorial for three weeks without power.

Will report back with post-read thoughts. But in the meantime, is it just wishful thinking or is there something of a Texas obsession lately? But if so, who's to blame for this? McCarthy? Maybe. He's a worthy scape goat. But I prefer to blame Tim Riggins. He's better looking.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Killer Inside Me

I know, I know. I've been away for a pretty darn good little while. What can I say. Writing blogs for other people keeps me pretty busy. But I recently sat down for this utterly disturbing movie set in the west Texas landscape and I just had to scratch my blog itch.

It's Saturday night and the Kentuckian and I have entirely too many movie options at our disposal. More is not always better, folks, sometimes it's just more. Between OnDemand and Netflix Instant Streaming to the XBox, we can easily spend an hour trying to decide what to watch, especially when he's in one of his moods, God bless him. On this particular night, he was in the mood for something bloody and scary. When we read 'WARNING: Graphic sex and violence' in the description for The Killer Inside Me, by golly we were sold.

The Killer Inside Me stars Casey Affleck as Lou Ford, an anti-hero of epic proportions hiding a taste for brutal violence and murder beneath the exterior of a soft-spoken southern gentleman. He poses as a tender-hearted deputy sheriff in a 1950s west Texas town, but really he has a "sickness." He's a serial killer, see. When he has the chance to avenge the death of his adopted brother, he suffers a flare-up and the results are truly nauseating.

Lou's crimes are sloppy and brutal. I had to avert my eyes. Bloody, yes, but hardly in the style of your modern day horror flick. Lou's style of murder is just plain sickening. I won't soon forget those moments. That's just it: this is not a horror flick, even though it is terrifying. The story is based on a classic piece of noir fiction from Jim Thompson, a major player in the hard boiled cannon, if there is such a thing, and I promptly added to my list of books to be read int he near future.

Kate Hudson is charming with a little extra flesh on her bones (The Kentuckian pointed this out) and Jessica Alba is surprisingly believable as the town prostitute with nothing but love in her heart for the homicidal lawman. Affleck's understated performance as the manipulative, unraveling lunatic of a protagonist is pretty spot-on and the script is surprisingly humorous at times. And then, of course, there's Texas. The unpretentious backdrop, dry and unforgiving, and ever present. I can't say if I really loved the movie--or just the scenery.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Green, American Style

In college, I took an amazing class titled Feminisms and the Environment. My professor was a vegan lesbian who was in a wheel chair because she lost both her legs (and most of her hands) in an arson fire. I enrolled in the class because I needed to satisfy a liberal arts requirement. Part of the beauty of attending a liberal arts college. (I'll do a post on the benefits of a lib arts education in another post, swears.)

The most awesome thing about this gal wasn't that she kept an amazing pace despite her limitations. She and her partner, another faculty member, worked on an organic co-op in their spare time. She hiked regularly. Drove herself to and from class. She distributed hand-outs herself instead of enrolling a student to do it for her. But she valued my opinions as much as my more radical fellow students. And at the end of the semester, she told me how much she enjoyed having me in her class. Me. A straight, white, moderate girl of middle-class upbringing who wore heels to class instead of Birkenstocks and ratty t-shirts with "Blessed Anarchy" hand-painted on. (True story, folks.) And yet, I cannot remember her name. Sad, I know.

This class literally changed who I am because it's where I had my first "aha" moments, if you will, about how inextricably linked we are with our environment. I won't get on my soap box, but even now, I'm always trying to make the most environmentally responsible choice possible and living in California, it's only gotten worse. And where I come from, the Texas Gulf Coast, recycling is reason enough to be labeled a "liberal." In the age of Obama, that's a dirty word in those parts.

That's why I was so excited to read about this new book by Anna Clark, Green, American Style. In the book, Anna makes the case that environmentalism is inherently American and it doesn't have to be a political position. Rather, it should be viewed as a human decision.

I'm reading this book asap and hopefully, I have more wisdom on my side next time I get into a debate with my family, who throws away plastic bottles even though a truck picks them up with the trash. Thanks, Anna, for blurring those party lines for us! It's not either/or. It's both/and.

Green, American Style was released on April 1st, 2010 and it's available on Kindle! Anna Clark owns and runs and sustainable consulting firm and you can learn more about Anna and her work here.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Where Else Can You Get That?

I frequently find myself in conversations in which I'm defending the virtue of country music. Yet, you never know where you'll find validation for the things you love.

In the book I'm currently reading, the author articulates the beauty of the genre so simply:

"'Each song is a narrative,' he explained. 'Conflict, crisis, and resolution, all in three minutes. Where else can you get that?'"

This quote is delivered by an Indian-American surgeon. Who knew? See, you don't have to be from Texas to love country music after all. Although I think it helps.

(By the way, current read is Playing by Berkeley's own Melanie Abrams. Not a waiting room read, folks. But compelling nonetheless.)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Crazy Heart

So, I almost didn't see this movie. One, the Kentuckian couldn't muster much enthusiasm for it. And this was due in part to the fact that some friends of ours who had seen it said it was the worst movie they'd ever seen.

Yes. The worst EVER. Strong words, I dare say.

These "friends" said it was so depressing and boring that one among them considered walking out mid-reel and another contemplated stabbing herself in the eyes with the spoon end of an Icee straw. Needless to say, I had my doubts. I wasn't expecting much. And maybe this is exactly why I LOVED it.

Yes. Love is a word you might think I used somewhat casually. In fact, I only use it when necessary. And this is an issue of necessity. Crazy Heart is beautifully acted (obviously), the music is incredible, and I can't wait to see it again.

I'd heard Crazy Heart compared to last year's The Wrestler. The comparison left me a little depressed. Perhaps it was the residue of the depression which followed watching The Wrestler the first time. Talk about a wrist-cutter. I'm tellin' ya. That movie put me in some kinda awful funk. But Crazy Heart was different even though there are some similarities.

"Bad" Blake is a washed up but legendary country star wallowing in resentment that his protege's career eclipses his own. He meets a young reporter and they fall in love and he plays the part of father to her son very well. The relationship inspires Bad to seek out his own estranged son and start writing songs again. When the relationship ends after Bad loses her son in the Houston tunnels, Bad finally gets sober to get back what he's lost.

This is a movie about redemption that's truly about redemption. Not redemption through death, which seems to be the only way to find redemption in movies lately (see: The Wrestler). Jeff Bridges is superb as Bad ("Friends" said you could actually smell his whiskey breath through the screen). But what's even better is the music.

Co-written and produced by T-Bone Burnett (raised in Ft. Worth) and Texas-by-way-of-New-Mexico artist Ryan Bingham. (Just downloaded his first album from iTunes. Amazing.) Everything T-Bone touches turns to gold, including the music of Cold Mountain, O Brother Where Art Thou, and the Robert Plant/Alison Kraus collaboration, Raising Sand. The original songs from the movie are already personal favorites, especially "I Don't Know" and "Fallin' and Flyin'."

I know the merits of the movie have been beaten to death by the critics, Academy, etc, etc. But I had to say my piece. It's right up there with the other contemporary Texas classics, like No Country for Old Men and Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. If you love country music, if you love Texas, you will love this movie.