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Written by Carrie Mesrobian

#LookitThis: Monday, February 22, 2016

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Figure 1. George Emerson, feeling satisfied in a wheat field surrounded by poppies

I’ve been neglecting my blog lately for a few  reasons:

1. lazy
2. writing books
3. writing stuff here and podcasting here
4. don’t have anything that interesting to say, personally

Probably #4 is the reason for this post. Right now I’m consuming a lot of stuff. It’s all enjoyable and I have no idea what purpose any of it might serve. So I decided to toss out a quick list every so often on a Monday of what I’m dipping into, in case you might also be interested.

Reading

Bamboo Among The Oaks: Contemporary Writing by Hmong Americans / Mai Neng Moua, editor – a look into a culture that’s been a part of Minnesota for the last 4 decades, as well as writing on living as a first-generation immigrant, which are both areas of personal interest for me
“Putin’s Dragon” by Joshua Yaffa, in The New Yorker – I dunno, I’m just interested in Russia and former Soviet republics for some reason

Watching

The Expanse on SyFy: Whoa. This is really absorbing, in a Star Trek: TNG + Battlestar Galactica way. Plus, Chad Coleman!
The 100 on Netflix: Whoa. This is not very good in terms of craft and world-building. But I’m gonna power through in a this-is-fun-why-the-hell-not-join-in-the-commentary way.

Listening

“Opening the Question of Race to the Question of Belonging”: On Being podcast with john a. powell
“Online Reflections of Our Offline Worlds”: On Being podcast with Danah Boyd

Wondering About

– still thinking about The Narcotic Farm of Lexington, Kentucky and what it would have been like to grow up around there; the argot of heroin addicts in the 50’s and 60’s as written in The Fantastic Lodge
– the concept of community, and how its denotation differs from generally accepted connotations; looking for sociological books on the topic of community and how we define it

If you feel like it, let me know what you’re reading/watching/listening to/wondering about, too. I’m always up for knowing about what’s good in your world…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Reasons to Read OTHER BROKEN THINGS by Christa Desir

 

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FIGURE 1. Other Broken Things by Christa Desir, available now

 

  1. Because our girl’s a fighter. Literally. She’s a boxer. Or at least she was before all sorts of shit happened and she quit.
  2. Because addiction and recovery stories are very dear to me. Not just because this is a familiar narrative in my own family and life, but because within them lie so many important truths. Truths that our main character Natalie cannot always see.
  3.  Because, like Natalie, I was (still am) a stubborn fucking girl. Fuck yeah stubborn ladies!
  4. Because Christa Desir makes you want what Natalie wants. Even if what Natalie wants is not good for her.
  5. Because parents are an intractable, frustrating and indecipherable entity in the lives of adolescents. Good parent characters in YA are difficult to depict; we have to look at them from a narrow teenaged view as well as the wider view (if we’re adult readers, that is).
  6. Because nothing annoys me more than an obsession with the Christmas holidays. Yes, Nat: I’m with you on that score regarding your mother.
  7. Because I know young people in recovery and I know how hard it is for them. I have some kids in mind for copies of this book who will fully appreciate Natalie. Especially her sexual history.
  8. Because there’s sex in the story. In a YOUNG ADULT story. And it’s sad and real and…sigh.
  9. Because girls can–and should–make mistakes in stories. And that is worthy of examination and representation.
  10. Because growing up is messy and difficult. And just like addiction recovery, it never really ends.

Get your copy of Other Broken Things at:

Barnes & Noble
IndieBound
Amazon
Anderson’s Book Shop (signed copies available!)

 

 

Anatomy of a Country Music Song, Part XI

Figure 1. I don't entirely agree, but whatever.

Figure 1. I don’t entirely agree, but whatever.

 

Justin Moore’s “Back That Thing Up” is terrible-yet-endearing to me, because I use it as the ringtone for when Christa Desir calls me. So it always signals something good’s about to happen to me personally.

My family HATES this song so much. Why wouldn’t they? It’s corny as hell. But what else would you expect from Justin Moore, who’s another one of those “all hat & no cattle” cowboy types that Nashville is lousy with lately. Of course he’s going to up turn the dial all the way to 11 when it comes to the Shameless Redneck setting.

Mainly, I love hearing it come on around someone who’s never heard it before and watching their face as they listen to the lyrics. One of life’s great joys.

Here’s the video (which I can’t vouch for) if you want to hear it, too; analysis after the break…
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Anatomy of a Country Music Song, Part X

 

 

Figure 1. My friend Danielle used to drive an orange VW Beetle with a bumper sticker that said this

Figure 1. My friend Danielle used to drive an orange VW Beetle with a bumper sticker that said this

 

Today’s song, “Like A Cowboy,” has little analysis, because I absolutely love it, and its writer/singer, Randy Houser, so sorry if it’s not amusing. The paradox of praise: it can be deadly dull.

Randy Houser has some of the best pipes in country music today. And some of the best songs. Because unlike lots of country performers, he got his start writing songs, versus being some over-styled guy with abs and a Jack Daniels tattoo on his trainer-enhanced biceps.

The lyrics are good, the music is good, and his VOICE. Holy shit. He’s got some lungs. I saw him this summer in concert with several other acts (Luke Bryan, Thomas Rhett, Florida Georgia Line) and while Randy Houser can’t wear skinny jeans or muscle shirts or shake his butt at women til they scream like those dudes, he was far and away the best act of the night for me.

So here’s the video (again, I’ve never watched it, so can’t vouch for content, but here it is so you can hear the song itself) and my brief commentary is after the break…
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Anatomy of a Country Music Song, Part IX

Figure 1. My friend Danielle used to drive an orange VW Beetle with a bumper sticker that said this

Figure 1. My friend Danielle used to drive an orange VW Beetle with a bumper sticker that said this

 

“Smoke Break” is probably the dumbest song I’ve heard in a long time. And it’s wildly popular. Usually I like Carrie Underwood, even with her boatloads of gross gold jewelry, so this is a disappointment.

Here’s the video, which, as always, I cannot vouch for; I only add it so you can hear the song itself if you’d like.

Mainly, the lyrics are just total junk. They want to have it all ways. Seem super blue-collar, while not endorsing so-called blue collar vices. What the fuck ever. It’s like a country song that they’d feature in the Weekly Reader for elementary school students who need to learn what country songs typically sound like.

(Okay, that makes no sense. But neither do the lyrics of “Smoke Break.”)

Lyrics, with my comments, after the jump…

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