Monday, June 27, 2011

When the Rope Gets Tight

With Ryan Adams's acoustic European tour in full swing (have you seen these freaking setlists???), I've been in DRA Mode. He's played Whiskeytown songs and obscure tracks we never thought we'd hear live. With harmonica! I'm dying over here. And he says he ain't a-coming to the US. Woe is me.

Regardless, I put in Jacksonville City Nights this morning at random, and I'd forgotten how much I love this one.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer Reading

Head on over to The Uncontainable Truth to see my 2011 Summer Reading picks!

Any suggestions for me? Currently I'm working on Sarah Dessen's latest and up next, I'm hopping on the Game of Thrones train! I've had person after person tell me I must read and watch, so I'm gonna. Just give me a little bit of time.

But speaking of popular books-to-Showtime/HBO-in-all-their-graphic-glory... guess what starts back Sunday....


Monday, June 20, 2011

New Tunes for people who like New Tunes

Here are a few tunes I can't get out of my head. They may not be NEW, but they're new to me.

"Don't Let Me Go" by Korean is Asian
Korean is Asian is local band I heard a few weeks ago at Mercy Lounge, and I haven't gotten this song out of my head since. (Also I met the band, and they are just the friendliest of folks.) Give it a listen. It's truly a lovely song. Great vocals, as you can hear in this version, recorded live on the Ryman's steps. Go to their site for the studio version.

Música Realenga: Korean is Asian - Don't Let Me Go from FrecuenciasAlternas on Vimeo.

"Lost in My Mind" by The Head and the Heart
The Head and the Heart have made their way into casual conversation around here after impressive live shows at the latest festivals, and I have just fallen in love with them. They're based in Seattle and describe themselves on their Facebook page as writing and playing songs that speak to the newness of a fresh start, of the ghosts left behind, of moving forward, all brimming with a soulfulness and hope for a better life than the one we've all been sold. I dig it. 

"Gimme the Gun" by Shotgun Lover
Yes, this is a bit of a shameless plug for my friends, and I did take this video, but I can't get it out of my head for real. Their album I Hope You Die Alone was just released a few months ago, and they've already been writing away for a new album. This is the latest, and I love it.

Let me know what you think!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Read these NOW.

In the past few weeks, I've read two (yes, TWO) books meant for adults. I know. It's crazy. But they were fantastic reads... certainly two of the best I've come across in a hot minute. Seriously. Read them.

FirstThe Raising by Laura Kasischke

The Raising is a ghost story. But not. A coming-of-age story. But not. A love story. But definitely not. Or is it? You never can truly tell. The book opens with a car accident. A boy cries over the body of a girl. She dies. The campus sweetheart. And while her sorority and what seems like the rest of the campus cries out Murderer!, boyfriend is left grieving the only girl he's ever loved, barely able to talk about what happened or sort it out, even a year later. At the same time, his best friend and roommate has a huuuuge secret. And no one will listen to the woman who saw the accident that night and knows what really happened. And another professor on campus, a specialist in cultural customs associated with death, ghosts, and the like, is brought into the mix when the girl's ghost is spotted on campus. Gritty at times, with crass (realistic) characters and language, I was most impressed by how believable each outlandish situation seemed.

The author switches narrators as well as chronology, an effective tool in this case to keep you guessing until the very end. Perhaps it had been too long since I'd read a good mystery, but I sure didn't see it coming. If you like to read "by season," save this one for the late fall, when the first chill hits. Though the events span throughout the year, you can't escape the fall feel associated with a college campus. I stayed creeped out, but thoroughly invested, until the very last OH CRAP moment. Fun stuff.

Next, and I cannot emphasize this one enough:
One Day by David Nicholls

This book nearly killed me. My heart could barely handle it. I picked it up after reading a review months ago, left it unread on my dresser until it was due back to the library, only to see a trailer for the upcoming movie and knowing I must read it. I'm so so glad I did.

I won't say much, except that this book broke me in a way a book hasn't broken me in a very long time. I took my time with it. For once I didn't want to rush through just to get to the resolution, to find out whether there was a happily ever after. I enjoyed taking my time and pondering... which I think is the biggest difference in GOOD fiction and fill-the-void fiction.

Nicholls writes beautifully, but more importantly, cleverly sets the book up in a way that keeps your interest in the characters while leaving you helplessly unable not to compare the characters to yourself and the people impacting your own life. In the 20-year span covered in the story, the characters grow and change, love and lose, become both disappointed and enchanted with life, and with each other. Beginning on the day they meet, on the day after their college graduation, each chapter chronicles the lives of Emma and Dexter on July 15th from 1988 to 2007. Your heart breaks for them time after time, and yet you also find yourself smiling at the touching moments shared between the friends whose relationship evolves as they grow up and grow older, examining that heartbreaking gap between the way we were and the way we are. The characters are very real. Likeable and not, at times. Full of British quirk. I won't give a thing away about the ending, though, as I was a good little girl and for once didn't read ahead or sneak peaks, finding myself completely shocked with the chain of events... again, didn't see that coming. But I'm glad for it.

But I sit now, having just finished. And my heart aches. I feel sick to my stomach, and I am crying at my desk. And I want to re-read it tonight. Go. Pick. It. Up. Now.

Here's the trailer for the movie, if you'd like to watch. Looks like they stayed true to the story, but we'll see in August. I hope they don't ruin it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

And she makes 14. (An ode to Kathryn Tucker Windham.)

An Alabama legend died yesterday. Kathryn Tucker Windham, fantastic storyteller most known for writing 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey, was undoubtedly one of my favorite characters to ever walk this earth. If you're from Alabama and anywhere close to my generation, you know the book. You grew up reading it in your schools as a kid, or maybe even on spooky nights as an adult. I can't begin to tell you the influence her stories had on me and my tastes as a reader. And fears as a kiddo who believed(s) every story. But more than anything, the woman was an inspiration. She was smart, educated, and so funny. When I worked at the Booksmith, KTW called regularly, as she was a good friend of Jake, the store's owner. In her late 80s then, I loved to talk to her and overhear their conversations. Her wit and sense of humor was sharper than mine ever hopes to be.

I had the privilege to meet her back in 2009, a story I detailed in a blog post here. We talked about ghosts and the famous Jeffrey, she gave me a corn muffin, and she signed my original copy of 13 Alabama Ghosts, inscribing it: "To Lauren, who still likes true ghost stories. Hauntingly yours, Kathryn Tucker Windham."

From talking with her, I can imagine that she wouldn't be happier than floating on now as a spirit alongside Jeffrey in her beloved Selma. Id' believe it. KTW, you'll be missed, but certainly never forgotten.

If you aren't familiar with her storytelling, check this out:


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Green with Envy

November cannot get here fast enough. I've talked about my odd love for the Muppets on several occasions, and Jason Segel never fails to entertain me. I've been stoked since they announced he was writing the script for a new Muppets film. And now... It's HERE!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hardy... har... har?

Apparently I should never laugh in public, in case someone catches that moment on film and I ruin a perfectly good picture. Here's a group of us at Charlsie's wedding:
Ohhhhhh look at da pretty balloons.....
And last week, with some of my best friends at a party in Birmingam (I'm on the right, with the red necklace):
Herd da derrrrrp
Seriously. What is my problem?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

We've Got Tonight

Who needs tomorrow?

Why am I just seeing this now? Kenny and Dolly are my all-time favorite duo. I'll never forget being a kid and listening to "Islands in the Stream" in my mom's car, sorely disapointed when she informed me that no, they weren't a real life couple who sang together all the time and had tons of albums. But for the songs they do collaborate on, I am thankful.

Check out that look on Kenny's face at 1:04. That's exactly how I feel every time I hear her sing. Also don't cut it off too early, or you'll miss some good stage banter and Dolly making fun of her famous knockers.