"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

1.31.2006

time flies and you just know

Things you could pray for this next day or two:
  1. Safe travels
  2. My mom and dad. We were pretty sad saying good-bye this morning.
  3. That my luggage all makes it on the same flights as me
  4. That I can cram everything into my backpack. We're good on the weight limit, but my meds are taking up lots of space.
  5. That I remember everything and have time to get what I need in DC.
  6. That someone can take me to Dulles tomorrow night.

Y'all are a blessing!

twenty, twenty, twenty-four hours to go

I need to be sedated. Off to Washington...

1.30.2006

triple-toe-thrown-for-a-loop

I don't know that I've ever mentioned my friend Hans on this blog before. Hans is a friend from Bible study in New Haven and has been a great sport about a practical joke that Allison, Margaret, and I started four years ago and haven't really let up on since. Let's just say it involves his untimely confession during the last winter Olympics of his childhood crush on Katarina Witt , which led to merciless teasing about East German swimmers named Heidi and some transatlantic postcards in terrible German and leave it at that. But Hans is a good guy and a good sport and he gets you back one way or another. (He also stood at his window and tolerated our lovely rendition of "Leaving on a Jet Plane" from the HGS courtyard on our last night in New Haven. But that's another story.)

Anyway, when I was up there for The Game in November, it's possible that I left behind a little thank-you gift for his generous hospitality. Well, today Hans exacted his revenge. Or not revenge, exactly, but, well, see for yourself. This is really classy, and it was especially wonderful to open while sitting at the kitchen table with my parents this afternoon. Thanks, Hans!

felt some rains down in africa

There was a very interesting story in yesterday's New York Times Magazine about evangelical Christian missionaries in Africa.

invasion of the pod snatchers

Let's talk about pods. Not the peas-in-a kind, and not the 60's horror-movie kind, but the kinds that are making my life easier and harder every day.

First, my iPod. It took me awhile to get on the iPod bandwagon, but now I can't imagine life without it. 10,000 songs! Always in my handbag! Even in Africa! But here's the thing. I have had absolutely terrible experiences with this product. My first one had a hardware flaw that caused it to completely stop working in January. They replaced it because it was still under warranty, but, due to the fact that my computer has 1/2 as much memory as my iPod, I had to reload all of my music again. It was March before I had it all together.

Fast forward to September when I came home from ACL and found that my iPod was completely frozen. It was literally one year to the day since I'd bought it, so the guys at the Apple Store looked at it and told me how to get all the music off of it and onto an external hard drive before they reset it. It magically restarted the next day, only to shut down in November for good. Shut down isn't really the word; it made this awful, beeping sound like an alarm. I took it to the store in December and the technician said, "Wow. I've never heard that before." After a long discussion about exactly what constituted the end of the year-long warranty, we finally agreed that they would replace my iPod for a $30 service fee, which was a-okay with me. So behold, iPod the Third. I've been busy trying to reload all my music ever since December, but I'm starting to think it won't get done. I got all the good stuff, but what will I do in the Congo if I don't have The Very Best of Dusty Springfield on there?

But I digress. Here's my question: why do I put up with this from Apple? Clearly, there's a product flaw in the 40G iPods, which is probably one of the reasons they don't make it anymore. They keep reassuring me that it isn't my fault and I believe them; I take care of my iPod and keep it in a cute little blue case and everything. They've given me 3 for the price of 1 over the course of a year. This was supposed to be the product that would make me want to buy a Mac, but instead I've had it up to here. I wouldn't put up with this from any other company! I've had to go to the Apple Store about eight times to deal with these issues. And yet. Why am I so addicted to my iPod that I put up with this?

One company whose product and customer service are no problem at all, however, is PODS. This is my second time to use them and wow, what a great idea. They bring the storage unit to you, you pack at your own pace, they take it to a warehouse, and, best of all, they drop it off wherever you end up, so you don't have to pay a mover or drive a moving truck. All for about the same price you'd pay for storage anyway! Plus they're efficient, friendly, and you can manage everything online. Here's a picture of my current pod when I had all my books packed. See what six years of graduate school will do to you? And there were actually three or four other boxes of books later...

blue days blue days all of them gone

So one of the very interesting things I learned on the way to Franklin the other day is that there are Texas in Africa readers who are complete strangers. Not to one another (although I'm convinced that everyone I know is connected to everyone else I know), but that there are people reading this very post who aren't my friends or family.

I am intrigued (and a tiny bit frightened) by this fact, but then there are blogs I read that are kindof personal. I guess. (Not this personal. But whatever. There's room for everyone at Texas in Africa. Mi rants and pointless time-wasting es su rants and pointless time-wasting.) Anyway, that got me thinking about the audience, and, well, the drive with social visits on the way took 16 hours, and I've decided that it's survey time. Click here to take the first-ever Texas in Africa reader survey. It's short, sweet, totally anonymous, and you should feel guilty if you don't take ten seconds to fill it out.

1.29.2006

done every little thing i know to do

Things I have been meaning to blog about, but am unlikely to have time to cover in any detail due to the unbelievable number of things I have to accomplish before 11:45 on Tuesday morning:
  1. The random strangers who are apparently reading my blog. Why? Why do you care? Who are you? What is so interesting about my rants on life, music, and football that compels you to bookmark this site? I am simultaneously frightened, intrigued, and amused.
  2. 2. The church (at left) I saw in East Nashville's hip Germantown neighborhood yesterday, Progressive Sunshine Baptist Church. Best church name ever!
  3. 3. A really funny article about the MLA in the Chronicle of Higher Education. This guy goes to the MLA not for professional reasons, but with the goal of finding the most ridiculous paper topics/titles he can.
  4. The Postmodern Generator, which I found via the above article, and its related Adolescent Poetry Generator, which is way funnier because all the poems are titled "I Am," are written entirely in lower-case letters, and contain phrases like, "i am not able to trust in / his ways to put his own / pajamazon." Both are run by the Dada Engine (something like it is explained here), which reminds me of my friend Elizabeth's seminar in which they all had to demonstrate what Dada is/was (does it exist if it's not art? something to ponder). All I remember is that her demonstration involved lighting a cigarette in an Aggie classroom and that her professor called it genius. Which of course she is.
  5. Ooh! And there's a Band Name Generator. My band's name is, appropriately enough, The Politics Addiction. What are the odds that if you click refresh six times that would happen?
  6. The stellar new issue of the Yale Alumni Magazine. The January/February 2006 issue is full of the standard Yale m.o. (Which can be summarized, briefly, as "everyone who ever did anything important or significant ever went to Yale." It sounds snobby and it is, but you have to remember that everyone from Noah Webster to Eli Whitney to Walter Camp (creators/developers of, respectively, the dictionary, the cotton gin, and football) went to Yale.) The issue has a couple of really great pieces, including one on the Man and Myth that is Professor Charlie Hill. It just so happens that I was the Great One's teaching assistant in the fall of 2001. My take on the man is that he's a genius and if you disagree with him, you're not necessarily wrong, but you'd better think really carefully about your position. A few weeks after 9/11, he handed around an article about the Bush Administration filling up the SPR and said, very matter-of-factly, "They'll invade Iraq." This was November of 2001, when almost nobody was talking about Iraq, but there you go. I had spent the summer working for a lot of Bush appointees and thought, "My gosh. He might be right." And he was. The thing about Professor Hill, though, is that he's not arrogant or unkind. He's one of the best teachers I've ever had the privilege of watching, and he genuinely cares about his students' success. Unlike most of his colleagues, he also seems to truly enjoy teaching undergraduates. He devoted an entire course day to talking about Their Future with the students, encouraging them to follow their passions and dreams rather than what their parents/professors/Yale said they should do. He really cares about students and takes the time to help them figure it out. He did that for me. When I was having the hardest time deciding whether to stick with the Foreign Service (his lifetime profession) and becoming a teacher, he talked over the advantages and disadvantages whenever I needed to. But then one beautiful October afternoon when the leaves were changing and PhD program application deadlines were fast approaching, he just looked at me and said, "It's time to take a walk and decide." It was the best advice I could have gotten, and I am forever grateful to Professor Hill for the gift of getting to learn how to teach from him. Plus he's one of the funniest classroom teachers I've ever known. One day he told the students some incredible story about something or other that began with, "So ever summer I have to go to Stanford for my sins..."
  7. The awesome CD's I've found lately in the used bins. Since I can't get new music for the next few months, I bent the budget a bit. Here are things I've found for cheap, cheap, cheap / cool rare finds: Golden Smog, Down by the Old Mainstream; The Walt Wilkins Band, Fire, Honey, & Angels (reviewed by my pastor on amazon.com - ha!); Steve Earle, Just an American Boy: The Audio Documentary; Amadou & Mariam, Dimanche a Bamako; Allison Moorer, The Hardest Part AND Alabama Song.
  8. Richard Rohr. My hero Suzii came back from her trip to Washington just raving about how great he was and how he and Anne Lamott made Jim Wallis look like a lightweight. This "cloud of witnesses" thing they used at her conference is pretty cool - it talks about people like Cesar Chavez, Etty Hillesum (whose book you have to read), and others, and then there's a mirror - what are you going to do? Anyway, now I'm having to rethink my feelings concerning Richard Rohr. His book Everything Belongs was kindof like that too. It was usually to self-helpy/hippie-loopy for me, but then he'd write something really profound that made me think. I don't know, but now his other books are on my wishlist.
  9. Fun things I have seen around Nashville, including this fun scene from the church all my friends who have babies attend.

saying good-bye, why is it sad?

Some fun pictures from various going-away parties. Thursday night at Maudie's was great, although it was so funny how people self-segregated. We had four tables of ten and it was hilarious how people just grativtated to their groups - work, church, kids, and a fun mix at the other table..

the ex-roommate, who kept the table of random people from lots of places chatty and happy AND who brought Texas seasonings as a going-away present - you are the best!






the "people with pre-schoolers" table











And the kiddos came in after playing a silly practical joke on me.






The Government department table








I so completely failed to get a picture of the CLC/church table. Sorry, y'all!








Saying good-bye to my sister at Truett.







Dinner in Memphis at a really good Thai place. Christine the Lobbyist who's a friend from camp thinks I should give nicknames to everyone on my blog (eg, call her the Intrepid Government Relations Genius). I think this would take some time and thought, but it might solve the Steve problem. If you have a preference on what you'd want to be called, let me know.



Speaking of people who already have nicknames, it was also fun to see The Great and Powerful Ploz in Memphis. Except that she's now Dr. Great and Powerful Ploz, which doesn't have the same ring to it.







Dinner in Franklin with close friends from high school and growing up - always fun.

1.28.2006

happiness in the rearview mirror

So Lubbock's going to do something to help the poor, using public funds. This is unusual for the South Plains, but given that two senior citizens froze to death in their homes this week because of high heating costs, it seems like it's long overdue. How sad that it takes a tragedy for people to realize that sometimes government is the best way to help...

1.26.2006

shed not a tear when i turned out the light

What a day. Up very early to get an oil change, drop off stuff at G's, buy last-minute gifts and stuff to take to Africa, finish everything up at UT, and finish packing. It was cloudy and cool until right about the time I put the last box into storage this afternoon. The sun came out, the sky turned blue, and while I was checking the house one last time, my iPod on shuffle played, in order, Robert Earl Keen's "Levelland" (which is really about Floydada) and my all-time favorite love song, Ernest Tubb's "Waltz Across Texas." It couldn't have been more right.

Driving into town and seeing the capitol dome at sunset, it hit me that it's my last night in Texas. The house on the ranch is packed and is no longer my house on the ranch. The car is really, really full, but it all fits, thanks to some help and creativity from Mer (we now know that if two people sit on the trunk, it will close). My phone will ring and it's a teenager from church calling to say, "Don't die in the Congo" or a sweet message from a little old lady at church saying that she's praying for me. And my send-off party tonight was so much fun. When you're sitting there alone with your dissertation for months on end, it's so easy to forget that you're not alone in this thing. It was wonderful - great food at my favorite Austin restaurant, friends and colleagues and kids and good conversations, and lots of laughs and memories. After saying good-bye to everyone, I put the top down for one last ride under the Texas sky, a song I love came on, and the stars were so bright until the clouds rolled in. There's just so much love under these skies. I am lucky.

It's off to Tennessee early Friday morning, with stops in Waco and Memphis to break up the 14-hour drive. Ugh. So if you get bored today, give me a call. Anything's more interesting than Arkansas.

look that jack of diamonds in the eye

Okay, I listened to Bush's press conference concerning the Palestenian elections on the way into work today, and it was one of the most entertaining things I've heard in awhile. He spent a lot of time talking about how great democracy is and how when people aren't happy with their leaders, they say so at the ballot box. Problem is, though, as Bush noted, it's not good when the elected party advocates the destruction of Israel as part of its platform. But he maintained that democracy and the democratic process and reform and all that is good.

The thing is, Hamas ain't our kind of democracy. Bush made a mistake by stating outright that the U.S. wants Abbas to stay in power, which is kindof hard to do when you don't have a parliamentary majority. And democracy can be a real problem for the U.S. of A. when people aren't in a society that has the same ideas as we do about individual freedoms and religious liberty. It can also be a problem when radical parties run reform-minded campaigns and appeal to a dissatisfied, economically-hurting population. Hitler won the vote doing just that.

I'm not saying that I think that Palestinians shouldn't have democratic elections - far from it. But the Bush administration needs to wake up and understand what the democracy it wants to create in the Middle East actually means.

comfort for my shaken soul

Wow, am I tired. Defending, packing, and getting ready to leave in the course of 3 days is too much. I'm lucky to have some wonderful friends who let me stay in their guest room when my bed is in storage; they're the same people whose kids I stay with on occasion.

So last night I was sneaking into their house really late after packing until all hours. I tiptoed into the guest room and see that the kids have left me a gift: a mounted head of an eight-point buck, and a note that read: "We're so glad you BUCKed the system at UT, but we'll miss you DEERly." And then it started to sing "Suspicious Minds." Loudly.

You can see why we're friends. I laughed so hard that I had to go outside to keep from waking the kids up. There's no off switch. After finally figuring out how to turn down the volume on the thing, Buck (that's his name) had to go in the closet. He was staring at me and I couldn't sleep. So this morning, I come back into the room after taking a shower, and Buck is back on my bed. He starts singing when I go over there, but this time the volume was off, so it was silent. And ultra-creepy.

1.25.2006

baby, it's party time

I am having a dinner party. Actually, I am having a few dinner parties over the course of the next week. So... if you are a Texas in Africa reader who lives in Austin, Nashville, or Washington, you should have gotten an email about this. If not, please let me know - I want to see you before heading to this place, which is more chaotic with every passing day.

eyes of texas upon you

This might be bordering on tacky. Unless you're marrying Vince.

This, however, is hilarious. And my attorney has too much free time.

1.24.2006

I am ABD!!!

poems and prayers and promises

Please say a prayer for Phil Strickland. He's been suffering from cancer for a long time and is not doing well.

Phil is the director of the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (the organization for which I volunteer and which runs the summer public policy camp) and has been a longtime leader in Texas Baptist life.

yet peaceful as a dove

W. on Brokeback Mountain. It's a scream.

runnin' like a child from these warm stars

Today is a Big Day. Not in the sense that there's anything special about Tuesday, January 24, 2006 in the grand scheme of things. But in my little world, it's a Big, Scary Day. At 1:50pm, I have to walk into a room and prove to a group of people who are a lot smarter than me that I have an idea that's worth pursuing. All the work, not just over the last 18 months of proposal-writing, or even the last four years of PhD work, but all the work in this crazy journey that started when my 8th-grade reading teacher said that she thought I should join the Model UN team and so I did, and sticking with it all the way through college, and all the work on that first trip to Kenya of trying to understand how the world could ignore such an amazing place, and all that work in Cameroon and Washington and Africa, and all that snow in New Haven, and all the ten years of professors and term papers and a thesis and an idea. And it all comes down to today. At 1:50.

I am scared to death.

And in the midst of my being scared, there's grace. My friend Christine, who is a friend from camp who is good at setting you straight when you let fear win, wrote to say that God goes before us. My pastor said, "remember to breathe." The day I taught my very first class at Yale and was scared to death of those students who were way smarter than I'll ever be and many of whom knew far more about American military history than I did, my wise friend Betsy said, "Just don't forget to breathe." When I think about what's happened in the five years in between those two reminders to breathe, I know that there is grace. God goes before us...

leavin' soon. good-night, darlin', good-night, moon

Things I am going to miss:

  1. My family. Calling my mom in the middle of the day when I need advice. Lunch with my sister in Waco or Austin, or Salado if we're busy.
  2. Live music.
  3. Nervous breakdown lunches at Shady Grove. (But not the grackles. G, we're never sitting outside again. Ew.)
  4. The big, blue Texas sky. The larger-than-life Texas sunsets. The big, bright stars at night. (Look at this picture, taken in December from the Frank Erwin Center, and tell me God's not a Texan.)
  5. Late afternoon walks on the ranch. The way the light hits the leaves and fences out here.
  6. Gilmore Girls on Tuesday nights. And the quilting discussions about the week's episodes during which we talk about the GG's like they're real people.
  7. Having a Derby Party on my birthday.
  8. 8. My cute little car with the top down on a perfect spring day in western Kerr County, right by the river.
  9. 9. New music.
  10. 10. My cute boots. And my old ratty boots. And having choices about fashion and footwear to begin with. But especially my cute boots. They fit so perfectly and I'll drag them to DC to wear up until it's time to go to Dulles, but I just can't put them through Africa.
  11. Wearing a fabulous hat on Easter Sunday.
  12. My church. My Sunday School class. Teaching the GA's. These sweet girls made cookies for my last night last week and promised to pray for me while I'm gone. I will miss getting to hear their fun "questions of the week" and watching them learn about the world, missionaries, and how they can love God and others right here in Austin.
  13. Long, late night talks with close friends. Free nights and weekends starting at 7. Voicemail.
  14. Maudie's, Guero's, and El Chile. Salsa.
  15. The use of tap water for drinking, brushing teeth, and getting stuff clean without a fear of catching something. Reliable electricity.
  16. SXSW. This year's lineup is awesome. The Minus Five is playing. Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives are playing. Tres Chicas who sing that song I LOVE is playing. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is playing. Everybody's playing. All that for a $105 wristband and the free stuff during the day and, oh, I have to stop looking at this list it HURTS!
  17. Rowing on the smooth, glassy surface of an empty (except for the birds) Town Lake on Tuesday afternoons in the dead of winter.
  18. Washington County when the bluebonnets are in full bloom. Bluebonnets everywhere. Wow, that's so sad - I haven't missed the bluebonnets since my first year of living up north. (The picture is me and the doctor, somewhere near Waco a few years back.)
  19. 19. The sport that is Texas politics in an election year. A special or two and the primaries will happen this spring. Tom DeLay will probably drop out of his race while I'm gone, the Abramoff thing is going to get worse and worse, and Kinky "Jesus Loved BBQ" Friedman will try to get onto the ballot for November, which, while he doesn't have a shot at winning, will make some other races really interesting. There's a whole lot of people in this state who'll turn out to vote for Kinky and no one knows how they'll vote for the rest of the races on the ballot. Wow, it's going to be fun!
  20. Driving off to some small town with just-a-friend to get unbelievably yummy bbq on a Saturday afternoon.
  21. Youth ministry. Missing the graduations of some kids who are really special. Being really involved in planning Camp CLC.
  22. Fabulous Grady, the genius at Kenneth's who cuts my hair. I've never been as happy with a stylist as I am with Grady - he's just so good.
  23. March Madness. Because my brackets are always awesome. Strange but true. (The Doctor's theory was that bracket-time is the only time when women are completely able to separate emotion from their decisions, and when men are completely ruled by their emotions.)
  24. Target. Although I think I've purchased six months' worth of stuff there in the last few days.
  25. Little guilty pleasures. I'm so addicted to Project Runway, but I won't get to see what happens (Chloe all the way!). And I won't hear the latest stupid-and-I-hate-myself-for-loving-it Brad Paisley song until July. No Lucky?!?

1.23.2006

if i could come back new

I defend Tuesday from 1:50-2:15. This is a very short time frame. I'm really nervous and would really appreciate your prayers around 2.

standing in the need of prayer

It's a bad week in the eastern DRC. Eight UN peacekeepers were killed in Ituri. They died at the hands of rebels from the Lord's Resistance Army, a group that operates out of northern Uganda. Meanwhile, Nkumba's forces are stirring up trouble in the Kivus, causing 20,000 people to flee to Uganda. And fighting continues. Can you imagine what it would be like to have armies and peacekeepers and rebels and child soldiers fighting on your land? (picture from the BBC.)

There are some really sad, but good pictures of the region's health care crisis here. And a reminder that life goes on in the worst circumstances: the DRC national soccer team beat World Cup-bound Togo.

"Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." Albert Schweitzer

the trace winds a thousand ways

Please say a prayer that my committee will be able to agree on a time for my defense.

rainy days and mondays

It's the worst day of the year!

But...

  1. My advisor has decided that I can defend this week.
  2. I got visas for the DRC and Uganda.
  3. Three strong men are coming over to move my furniture into storage tomorrow afternoon.

So personally speaking, today's not looking so bad. July 2 was way worse.

1.22.2006

you ain't afraid if you're washed in the blood like i was

This is starting to get sad. Yesterday my sister came down to hang out one last time. There's a good chance that she'll be out of the country by the time I get back, so we don't really know how long it will be before we see each other again. We had lunch at Maudie's, went shopping (She found the best book ever, which is apparently also a movie!), and packed up my kitchen before going to Kerbey Lane late late. I'll stop in Waco on my drive out on Friday and say good-bye for real.

Then today was my last day at church. The sermon was on Job, so it was hard to be too sad, but, wow, am I going to miss the blessing at the end of the service. Our pastor usually says, "The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you and give you grace. Grace to never sell yourselves short, but grace to risk something big for something good and grace to remember that the world is now too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love. So may God take your hands and work through them. May God take your lips and speak through them. And may God take your hearts and set them on fire." I love that blessing. He didn't say it today. But I left feeling blessed to have such a great church family and a place to call home.

Then this afternoon I packed up my office at work. My department is moving buildings this spring, so I have to get all the stuff that's accumulated in four years. It's a lot of stuff. I pulled three quotes off the wall that I think sum up my feelings about teaching, politics, and faith, and I wanted to share them here. They don't need further explanation:

Teaching - from my favorite book, North Toward Home, by Willie Morris
"If places like City College or Columbia galvanized the young New York intellectuals already drenched in literature and polemics, the University of Texas had, in its halting, unsure, and often frivolous way, to teach those of us with good minds and small-town high school diplomas that we were intelligent human beings, with minds and hearts of our own that we might learn to call our own, that there were some things, many things - ideas, values, choices of action - worth committing one's self to and fighting for, that a man in some instances might become morally committed to honoring every manifestation of individual conscience and courage."

Politics, from a wonderful lecture by C.S. Lewis, "Learning in War-Time" in The Weight of Glory
"He who surrenders himself without reservation to the temporal claims of a nation, or a party, or a class is rendering to Caesar that which, of all things, most emphatically belongs to God: himself."

Faith, from Browning Ware, a former pastor at my church, in Diary of a Modern Pilgrim. The essay is, "Uncertainty with Companionship."

"When I was younger, I thought that there was probably an answer to every problem. For a time, I knew many of the answers.

I knew about parenting until I had children.

I knew about divorce until I got one.

I knew about suicide until three of my closest friends took their lives in the same year.

I knew about the death of a child until my child died.

I'm not as impressed with answers as once I was. Answers seem so pallid, sucked dry and void of life. Knowing answers seduces us into making pronoucements. I still have a few friends or acquaintances who are 100% sure on most anything, and are ready to make pronouncements on homosexuality, AIDS, teenage pregnancies, abortion, sex education or whatever is coming down the pike. But, when we get shoved into the valley of our shadow, a pronouncement is the last thing we want.

More important and satisfying than answers is the Answerer. 'Thou art with me.' That's what we crave. There may or may not be answers, but God, the Eternal One, would like very much to be our companion."

Because the world really is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love.

last week in live music: the asylum street spankers

Regular readers of Texas in Africa will notice that I haven't been posting much about music lately. That's mainly because 1) no interesting albums have come out lately (that changes Tuesday, finally) and 2) the vast majority of my January entertainment budget went to Pasadena and had a lovely time, thank-you very much. But, since it's time to leave and because I'm facing the prospect of a very long 2006 with little or no live music outside of Bukavu Baptist Church until ACL time, it seemed okay to splurge when my attorney mentioned wanting to see the Asylum Street Spankers last Wednesday at Ruta Maya, where they're playing every Wednesday in January.

The new Ruta Maya (now serving coffee and vegan specialties to aging hippies and young hipsters alike at Penn Field) is really cool - it's a big, airy space with a nice balcony and lots of cool art on the walls, and it's pretty much the perfect environment in which to see a band as completely insane as the Asylum Street crowd, along with founding member/now bigger as a solo act Guy Forsyth. And, oh, how insane it was. I can't remember who made the comment, but we all agreed that the band is more or less like a bunch of 6th grade boys who are trying to get away with seeing how offensive/childish they can be. The thing is, they're incredibly talented musicians (and the only band I've seen recently that incorporates a washboard into their percussion section without looking cheesy). The Spankers' mix of blues, hip-hop, and the Americana/roots-inspired vibe didn't fail to disappoint on either count. Highlights included a hilarious patriotic song called "Slap Another Magnet on Your SUV" (to the tune of "Tie a Yellow Ribbon ('Round the Old Oak Tree)"), "My Favorite Record," Forsyth and Marrs' duet on "If You Want Me to Love You," "Winning the War on Drugs," and, of course, Wammo's "Hick Hop." Classy stuff.

Actually, there was a touch of class when they played a couple of gospel numbers from their Tuesday night shows at the Saxon Pub. The most shocking portion of the evening actually came with Christina Marrs' announcement that the bands next record is a children's album. No, really. They previewed a couple of songs from that; we enjoyed "Boogers" the most. All in all, it was really pretty wrong,

The real highlight of the evening, though, was Marrs' and Forsyth's musical saw duet. It was eerie and strangely beautiful, and, long story short, I'm now in the market for a musical saw instructor in Austin. Seems that my attorney and G think the best way to welcome their little bundle of joy next winter will be a rendition of "El Shaddai" on the saw while our friend Cinda performs an interpretive dance at their baby dedication at one of the oldest Baptist churches in Texas. Who am I to say no to friends like these?

aye aye rrr

Our boys just captured some Pirates of the Gulf of Aden! In a dhow! Now, I'm against piracy and everything, and I think it's good that the Navy is using some of its resources to stop piracy off the Somali coast, but, um, well, isn't it kindof strange to chase a dhow (see picture at right) with a guided missile destroyer (that's the actual destroyer, the U.S.S. Winston Churchill at left)? I mean, how hard can it be? (I guess if you have the Churchill, not that hard.)

I don't want to make light of a serious situation. Somalia is one of the saddest, messiest places in the world, and nobody cares. Except for the north, which functions as a country but which nobody will recognize as such. The rest of the country is controlled by various warlords. Interestingly, though, people manage to live their lives in the midst of it all. If I were braver, I'd go compare it with the Congo. There's a great book about how it works to have an economy without a state that's fun reading. You know, if you're into that sort of thing.

As for the pirates, apparently the U.S. sailors are trying to figure out who's a pirate and who's a crew member. Not fun. What would Johnny Depp do?

red and white and nearly over

People I know are running for office. One locally and one for the big-time.

That makes me feel old. And strange. Tons of my friends have worked for campaigns at all levels, and one is now starting his own campaign consulting business, but being the candidate is a whole other game. It was bound to happen, but still. Wow.

As for Mr. Nebraska, he's running as a Democrat in one of the most conservative districts in the country. The seat is currently held by Coach/U.S. Representative/future Nebraska Governor Tom Osborne, and it seems really unlikely to me that he'll be able to take it. Aside from that, I think his campaign would make a really interesting dissertation or case study on the creation of a political identity. Back in the day, none of us could ever figure out why he was running around New Haven in boots when he grew up in Italy. It made even less sense that he had this "I'm a farm boy" image he liked to project but didn't have the manners of a gentleman whose mama raised him right. But now it all makes sense. This should be fun to watch.

1.21.2006

the beds that have no answer

Say a prayer for these little guys, No family should have to go through that.

1.20.2006

get your mojo on

Well, you can just be the coolest kid in school if you manage to get yourself onto the team/cast of the sure-to-be shortlived TV version of Friday Night Lights. Come on. Why should this be a television program? It was a great book and the movie was surprisingly good, but there's no way you can make Permian interesting for weeks on end. Plus, you've almost got to air it on Friday night, which is where shows go to die. (Except for best-show-ever NOW with Bill Moyers, which he chose to end before it was time. David Brancaccio, you try so hard, but it just isn't the same. Please come back, Bill. I'll even make a donation to KLRU. And you don't have to send me a mug or a sweatshirt.)

Anyway, if life is passing you by and you want to be a star on the fake gridiron, the casting calls are Tuesday and Wednesday at Austin Studios (the ones at the old airport). You need playing experience and you can't have remaining college eligibility. I'm guessing that you also can't have an aversion to people like Tim McGraw playing your dad, which pretty much rules out everyone I know.

7 months and 13 days until the season opener. Sigh.

marching as to war

Professor Charles Marsh is dead-on in his criticism of American evangelicals' embrace of political power and the Iraq war. Just war theory has become inconvenient for a huge segment of the church, and Marsh does a great job of pointing out the problem many churches have gotten into by making their ultimate allegiance to a political viewpoint rather than to the gospel of Jesus Christ. His closing line, "repentance is a tough demand for a people utterly convinced of their righteousness," is the most convicting thing I've heard a prominent evangelical say in a long time.

detroit city couldn't sing my song

Barbecue: A Texas Love Story, the definitive film on the subject, is finally out on DVD, just in time to get a copy if you happen to be moving to the Congo. Narrated by my hero / former Governor Ann Richards and with a soundtrack by my favorite band-to-go-two-stepping-to, Two Tons of Steel, it's just lots of fun and a good look at one of Texas' best traditions/cultural landmarks. Sadly, the "Jesus loved barbecue" shirts are sold out.

My favorite part of the film is during the interview with Two Tons of Steel in Terlingua. One of the guys mentions that the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville feeds the artists barbecue before the show and that he "just had to stop" eating it because it was so bad. I am lucky to have great parents, and of all the things they did while we were growing up, not letting us eat Tennessee barbecue was one of the best parenting decisions they made. Their argument was that pork isn't barbecue and since that's all they have in Tennessee, barbecue consumption was best saved for our frequent trips home to Texas. We literally never ate the stuff there, except for one time when daddy had a business trip in San Francisco and mom went with him and the friends they left my sister and I with took us to Herbert's, the now-defunct local joint, for pulled pork.

I'm not one to wade into the debate over who has the best brisket/ribs/sausage in Texas, but my favorite Texas bbq story actually occurred in Connecticut. (There's something wrong with that sentence, but it's true.) See, up in the great white north, Texans have a way of finding one another, and eventually someone decided to start a club. The Yale Texas Club, to be precise. It really wasn't much of the club (although we had the best t-shirts), but once a year, usually in late September when it was just getting cold, all the Texans at Yale would huddle together in a corner of the Old Campus and the boys would barbecue. They shipped in sauce from Austin and someone would splurge on Dr. Pepper ($5 for a 12-pack), the security detail for a certain president's daughter would drink all the Dr. Pepper, and we would all sit around and be cold, but at least a little bit happy for once, together.

So one year at the barbecue, my friend Adrian and I were waiting in line and wondering how this girl named Nicole wasn't freezing to death (Literally. She was wearing nothing but cowboy boots and a Texas flag). It was really cold and we were waiting by the pit when this random guy who was walking by leans in and asks the cook, "So, how do you know how to do this?" The cook stopped what he was doing, looked up, and said, "I'm from Texas. It's what we do," and went back to work. Totally classic, and, like the movie, a perfect summation of Texas culture and what it means to be Texan.

1.19.2006

ain't just slappin' your knee

Today is Robert E. Lee's birthday, which here in Texas we actually celebrate in conjunction with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as "Confederate Heroes Day." The counterargument to those who think we should perhaps not commemorate a regime that rebelled against our country over slavery 150 years ago usually runs along the lines of, "we celebrate Juneteenth, so it's only fair." Sigh.

Nasty little racist issues aside, some Texas in Africa readers may not know that I am the descendent of lots of Texans who became Confederates, including a former Texas Secretary of War who got himself killed as the commanding general at Shiloh. That plus growing up in a town that's obsessed with its battlefield, legendary mansion, and Largest Private Confederate Cemetary in the World, and has only the stars and bars on diplomas at the high school, and plus having had parents who took us to lots of historic homes and battle sites through the years means that I do have a side interest in the late unpleasantness. So what better way to commemorate this day than by talking about dead Confederate horses?

Last summer while on a research trip (no, really) to DC and New York, I drove through Virginia. After stopping to pay my respects to Jerry Falwell at Liberty University, I visited Appomattox Court House (one of the best national parks in America) and the Confederate White House in Richmond (Quote from the tour guide: "Yes, it's actually grey, but it's less confusing to call it the White House). Appomattox was amazing; Richmond was frightening; and it was all topped off by a visit to the fabulous Walton's Mountain Museum near Charlottesville (aka, just about the only place outside of Texas I would even consider moving to.).

On the way back from points north, I stopped at the idyllic campus of Washington and Lee College in Lexington, Virginia, where, just outside the chapel, one can visit the grave of Traveller, Robert E. Lee's trusty steed. The fact that anyone would construct a grave for a horse (much less have a tombstone printed) is somewhat surprising until you head next door to the campus of the Virginia Military Institute, where, in the VMI Museum, you just walk around the corner and bam! you're standing face-to-face with Little Sorrel, the horse of Stonewall Jackson. Actually, it's just her hide. Mounted. Life-size. With eyes. It's one of the single most disturbing things I've ever seen in my life. I'm still in shock just from the photo. (Why? Why would you do that?!?)

Happy January 19th, everyone!

1-2-3-4 take the elevator

Oh, wow.

always on the sunny side

Today's approximately the happiest day ever. Austin gets Jet Blue! Happy day! Now I can afford to go to New York and New England! For $178 round-trip! And there's free Direct TV in every seat! And all the reservations agents are Mormon housewives working from home in Utah. Woo-hoo!

Other things that are good:
  1. Committee member #3 is off of jury duty because the case was settled. Thank goodness.
  2. The Advisor is leaving town and won't be back until Saturday. And won't read my latest proposal draft until Saturday. This is actually bad because it makes the prospect of defending on Tuesday a bit less likely. But it's also a bit of a relief, because now I can sleep/pack/shop/hang out with my sister guilt-free for a couple of days.
  3. Trip-related things that are done: travel insurance (check), medicines bought (check), finances arranged (check), visa obtained (check).
  4. Current guilty pleasure Project Runway season 2 did the Ice Capades! Nick flipped out over meeting a figure skater, answering any lingering questions about his preferences! The designers had to skate! In hideous ice skating costumes! Hilarity ensued! And Santino showed something almost resembling human empathy to Emmett there at the end! And Jay is judging next week! And now everyone left except for Kara has actual talent, so the cuts two weeks from now will be really painful. (My pick for the final three: Chloe, Nick, and Andrae or Daniel. They're the most consistently strong. Although Santino makes for good television, it's just a matter of time before the judges beat the producers in the battle over how long he stays.) Thank goodness for the late-night reruns for those of us who were out.
  5. Speaking of, I saw a great show this evening from the least-likely-to-make-a-children's-album band in Austin. And yet, their next album will be for kids. More on that tomorrow.

1.18.2006

he taught me how to watch and pray

Happy day, I got a visa!

(Just after it arrived in the mail this morning, I met with the guys in my research group, who all said, "What's the APR? No. Not that kind of Visa. A visa of the three-month, multi-entry, tourist variety. This is SUCH good news, because it would have been a bit, shall-we-say, tedious to arrive at the border and not be able to get one.)

a cherry ghost

This is so dead-on. There's no justification for the majority religious group in a country in which its favored political party has a lock on power to claim that it is "persecuted." And religious liberty has everything to do with the church's ability to grow and to speak a prophetic voice to power.

half of the time we're gone but we don't know where

There are about three million things to be done in the next week and a half, including putting together the "I'm Alive" email list and compiling addresses. I'll be updating this blog from the DRC, but when that's not possible (eg, quite possibly during the six weeks I'll be in sunny Bunia), email's going to be it.

So... if you're interested in being on my email update list, please drop me a note this week. If you want a postcard from Africa, please send your current address as well.

1.17.2006

can't remember if we said good-bye

Happy Birthday, Steve Earle.

unlock my body and move myself to dance

Well. In the how-much-worse-can-it-get category, today the plan was to finish the latest incarnation of my proposal and get the committee to set a date for the big defense. The plan fell out the window around 9:50am, however, when I received an email from committee member #3. From the courthouse. Because he's been summoned for jury duty. This week.

And now my advisor wants my dissertation to involve 180 pages of case material. One hundred and eighty pages. Written by me. That's before the analysis and theory (eg, the only part that anyone actually reads). I had expected that my dissertation would be about 220 pages altogether.

So, out went the plan, I braved the wind to head to UT to get a just-in-case prescription for Cipro (the wonder drug that kills almost everything Africa can throw at you), drop $250 on anti-malarials, and over to the spa to get a massage to get rid of some of this tension. I now have full range of motion in my neck, no progress whatsoever on my proposal, and approximately four hours to get a speech together to give to the WMU tonight. (For those of you lucky enough to have not grown up Baptist, the WMU is the Woman's Missionary Union. At my church, it's the little old ladies' group to whom it's impossible to say no. They're wonderful women and I don't really know why they want me to talk about the Congo given that I'm not a missionary, but I'm sure it will be a delightful evening.)

Oh, and in a very surprising ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the Oregon assisted suicide law. I's kindof surprised by the number of concurring justices (6-3), but, hey, if Ashcroft lost the case, it was probably a good ruling.

1.16.2006

i wanna go two-steppin'

Well, the ex-roommate and I finally got around to seeing Brokeback Mountain tonight. My goodness, what a depressing movie. It's good, though, once you get past the adultery and the sheep and all. The cinematography and setting are beautiful and the acting is fantastic. I was surprised at how good Heath Ledger is, and Michelle Williams has perfected the art of looking betrayed (five seasons of watching Dawson choose Joey over her has nothing to do with it, I'm sure). Jake Gyllenhaal is just tall, dark, and adorable in his black hat ('cause he's the bad one).

What makes the film powerful, though, is its overarching themes about the choices we make, which is apparently a reason that Focus on the Family actually kindof liked some of the movie. Their response is typical, but what really struck me was the way that the characters' choices were constrained by notions of what their lives were supposed to be like. None of their choices are easy, but as a result of choosing to start families while being in love with each other, they end up making other really bad choices that nearly kill them both and that cause them to really hurt those around them. Perhaps I'm projecting (The whole film I could not stop thinking about the D.A. and his inability to choose well, but that's another topic.), but this is a good take on how we choose who we'll love and the kind of life we live, and I was glad to see a film that stuck to the story and didn't make any of those choices easy. Life's rarely so black-and-white.

Unless of course you're talking about Ennis and Jack's hats.

fresh wind and bright sky

My weekend was crazy, but fun. Midwinter was great. We were a little small (only 5 of the 21 churches in our camping association decided to come, but it turned out to be a great group because none of the uptight people came. Our guys won their football game, the preaching was awesome, and for the first time in recent memory, it didn't rain. It was lots of fun to catch up with kids from my church and other churches and hear about their adventures and dreams for the future. One kid who 1) nearly drove me crazy last summer and 2) is an incredibly talented songwriter has an internship at Ray Benson's recording studio, another kid is off to see Europe this summer, and so on. Lots of fun and, given the status of my dissertation proposal (Friday = lots of crying), it was really nice to get away for a weekend. Plus, we took our group picture on a pirate ship.

Last night, Allison, Brian, and I went over to the stadium for the Mack Brown Coronation / National Championship Victory Party. There were probably about 50,000 people there to cheer on the Longhorns and say good-bye to Vince. Senator/Pi Phi Kay Bailey Hutchison got up to talk about being a cheerleader at the first national championship and everyone politely cheered. Then Governor/Emperor Goodhair (seated as far from KBH as possible) stood up and got booed for being 1) an Aggie, 2) an Aggie cheerleader, and 3) one of the worst governors in state history. It was pretty funny and kindof tacky - the boos were actually louder than the cheers.

The rest of the evening was exactly what you'd expect, lots of enjoying the moment. When Vince stood up to speak, it started to sprinkle, and Allison turns around and says, "Wouldn't you know? Not only does he win the national championship, he also breaks the drought!"

All in all, a good weekend. We looked at the Tower lit with the #1 one last time, then headed off to Curra's to meet friends and enjoy a perfect night in Austin.

breaking up is hard to do.

Tom DeLay is so in trouble. So, so in trouble. Although there may be some problems with the survey methods, it's still not good news for Sugarland's favorite exterminator. I really thought he'd hold out until March to drop out of the race, but here's guessing that the state and national parties will inform him in no uncertain terms that it's over in time to get one Republican candidate a clear majority on the primary ballot.

1.15.2006

more precious than a pot of gold

What Would Jesus Blog lets Neil Young-at-the-Mother-Church-of-Country-Music have it. Ouch.

(Speaking of, when are we starting that neuftet?)

1.13.2006

good night old broke down cars

Well, it's too late for my nine friends who are expecting (it was ten until one sweet baby girl arrived on New Year's Eve, much to her parents' joy (and I'm sure it wasn't just over the tax deduction)), but for everyone else, if you time it right, American #300,000,000 could be yours.

1.12.2006

not in a hurry there

I'm off to be a responsible adult at our church camping association's winter youth retreat, Midwinter. We all head to lovely Glen Rose, Texas, home of some dinosaur footprints, the Creation Evidence Museum, and not much else (does close proximity to my aunt and uncle's house on Lake Granbury count?), to meet up with friends from the other churches we go to youth camp with every summer. It's lots of fun and always an adventure. Past trips to Midwinter have involved:
  1. One broken collarbone as a result of the annual full-contact/no pads football match with the boys from HPBC. The kid had to take so much Vicodin that the youth minister convinced him to cheer for Kansas State. While he was wearing a Baylor shirt.
  2. One narrowly averted crisis when the junior girls decided to get revenge on the senior girls by dropping Ex-lax into their coke cans. That would've been a long bus ride home.
  3. Some ridiculous costumes for the dance (Yes, I said dance. Baptist youth camp has changed.), including the "Dodgeball" incident. The best, though, was 80's prom night, when one of the girls came over to me and asked if she looked like a $2, ahem, lady of the night (I'm paraphrasing). I nearly swallowed my tongue, but another girl immediately says, "Oh, no, at least $5." They don't tell you what to do about that in youth intern training.
  4. Much lost sanity as the result a bunch of low-maintenance Austin girls sharing a cabin with the girls from Lubbock, who are sweet and all, but they get up at 5 in the morning to start applying makeup. At youth camp. And they don't all get up at 5. One alarm goes off at 5:10, then another at 5:20, then one at 5:30, and so on. For breakfast at 8. My gosh.
  5. Pranks like crazy. (You have zero privacy and anyone can get into your stuff at any time. I'm seriously afraid to use my own toothpaste at Midwinter.) But this year I am prepared. All I'm saying is that it involves duct tape.
  6. Some questionably close contact between members of the opposite sex on the bus. Last year I said, "Be sure you leave room for the Holy Spirit." Kid, without missing a beat, says, "Oh, it's okay. He's on the South Beach Diet."
  7. Houston moms who can't let the kids lead worship themselves. Last year we were subjected to an absolutely awful, off-key rendition of some song and the kid sitting in front of us (the sponsors) starts making butterfly motions a la the Happy Hands Club in Napoleon Dynamite. It is really hard to be a responsible adult when something that funny happens.

But I love it all. Youth ministry is so much fun, and it's so great to get away to a beautiful place to get to watch them think about faith and life and calling. It's always bitter cold, but there are so many kids to catch up with and things about life and God to learn. I'm thankful for the chance to go sit on the bluffs over the Brazos for awhile, read some John Graves, and think about my own life and where it's going. I always come home feeling lucky to get to be part of these kids lives and to have a church that trusts its teenagers to lead. Have a great weekend!

"You are not in a hurry there; you learned long since not to be." John Graves, Good-bye to a River: A Narration

no time for losers

Now that it's been a week since our victory over those California boys, the quality merchandise has finally arrived in stores and there's a bit more of a selection than last week, when you just had to stand and wait until the Co-op brought out the design you liked in, say, a medium, long-sleeved version. Here's what I've gotten and have my eye on:

University Co-Op
The Co-Op has lots of tacky designs and a few cute ones. I had a little rebate money, so it was a no-brainer to spend it on stuff, but the t-shirts overall are disappointing.

I got this one but am thinking about taking it back. It's not my favorite design, but it does have the score on it, which will be nice for taunting the OU section with next year at the Cotton Bowl. What would be really cool is if someone would print something with their score vs. USC and ours.

The other shirts I got are not on the Co-Op website, but they're available there and around town as well. One says, "I (heart) VY" in the New York style with a burnt orange longhorn. Oh, wait - it's on CafePress and unlike the Co-Op, they have it in a women's style. So that's going back.

The other is available as a baseball/raglan style shirt or with cuffed sleeves and neckline, both in burnt orange, and says, "Heisman?" on the front, and "We don't need no stinkin' Heisman!" on the back. Cute, cute, and perfect for wearing to GameDay Live before the Ohio State game in September.

Finally, in the "other" category, I picked up a collapsable national champions koozie, which is selling for $2 more in store than on the website and will come in very handy at ACL (please, please stop serving Pepsi!), and a burnt orange Nalgene bottle, which is going to the Congo.

Longhorns Limited
Being as parking is a tiny problem in that area of campus, I haven't made it to Longhorns Limited yet, but maybe today is the day. This shirt is really cute, but I really like this one with the team signatures as well.

If you want to be really obnoxious, start using one of these at work/church/school.

Elsewhere
I also love the "V" stickers (in the "W") style that are appearing around town. Anybody know where to get these? There's an "M: the Coach" sticker here. Wednesday I also saw a "Vince is my son" sticker. Indeed.

There's a whole mess of stuff on Cafe Press, mostly devoted to our man Vince. The Vince 41:38 stuff is really funny, and I want to ship a whole mess of these to Reggie Bush.

Long story short, there's lots of ways to spend your money by commemorating the Longhorn victory. Happy shopping!

thanks, ben!


Cheerleading, tumbling lessons and camps since age 3: $30,000
Annual cost of attending USC: $ 50,000
Annual cost for staying just the right shade of blonde: $10,000
Cheering when the other team scores: Priceless

(check out the looks on the other song girls' faces!)

ah, the unitarians

Grits for Breakfast is officially my hero-of-the-week. If I weren't going on a youth retreat this weekend, I would so be entering his contest to win tickets to the Austin Unitarian Universalists' production on Clarence Darrow. Nothing like childish humor at the expense of the Unitarians.

nasty stuff i've eaten

For the record:
  • ostrich
  • zebra
  • goat penis soup
  • boiled cassava (not the leaves, the translucent, starchy part)
  • kola nut (I'm sorry. It was like eating raw horseradish, only 1,0000x more bitter. I don't get it.)

1.11.2006

every star up in the sky was made for me and you

Well, I guess we don't need these anymore. My feelings about celebrities in Africa are so mixed. On the one hand, the publicity is good. On the other, 99% of them don't have a clue what they're talking about, and a lot of times their "help" is anything but. As for Brad and Angelina, oh, my, my, my, what to say He's so hot and she's so insane. I'm dreading the day I see them in Africa. Oh, yes I will. If Bill Clinton shows up at the Intercontinental Kigali on a random Friday in July, you just know that Steve the Lawyer and I are going to run into their celebrity freak show on our springtime gorilla trek in the Virungas.

This concludes the first and only post on celebrities that will ever appear on Texas in Africa. I feel all icky inside.

stock car flamin'

A few years back, one of my officemates had a little problem with her advisor. She needed to get to her home country to do her research/reunite with her husband/get on with her life. And her advisor wouldn't let her defend her proposal, despite the fact that she'd been working on it for more than a year, and that it more than satisfied every other member of her committee. So she did something that became a bit of a legend in our department: she pulled the nuclear option. She just bought a plane ticket, said, "this is when I'm leaving," and informed her committee that they could either pass her or she'd be dropping out. They passed her, she moved home and had a baby, and all's right with the world.

I don't know if I'm that strong, but I am that frustrated. So, as of today, the tickets are in my hands. I leave Austin two weeks from tomorrow, and three weeks from today I'll be halfway there. I sent in the application for my visa this afternoon (please say a little prayer for that) and will work up the courage to tell my advisor before the weekend. Now I've just got to 1) finish and defend the thing, 2) pack up the house, 3) drive to Tennessee, and 4) pack for the unpredictable. Yikes.

1.10.2006

the way your mind works, movin' so fast

In the latest news from my ongoing obsession with last year's best EP, Pitchfork liked the Iron & Wine/Calexico show in Chicago, and they're too hip to like anything.

And, if you've missed the Frontline documentary Country Boys this week on PBS, you really should tune in on Wednesday night. It's beautifully done and I am already trying to figure out how to integrate it into my politics and poverty class next year. Plus, tonight's soundtrack featured the Be Good Tanyas singing "In My Time of Dying" off their fantastic album Chinatown! Yay for good music on a great documentary! (It almost mitigated the scene where Chris had his school choir sing to the Trax of Michael W. Smith's "Friends." Almost.)

If you've missed it so far, you can watch the episodes that have already aired at the Frontline website.

borrowed jeb's rifle and sat on the hill

I have nothing nice to say tonight. The advisor actually told someone at another university that she's being "mean" to me. So she knows that she's being unreasonable? And she's admitting it to our mutual friends?!?

What on earth am I supposed to do about that? I don't know. What I did was decide that the only way to end this is to buy a plane ticket and leave. So that's what I'm doing. So there!

one more time to kill the pain

Emperor-Governor Goodhair Perry launched his re-election campaign this morning in scenic Lubbock. His campaign theme is (I am not making this up): "Proud Of Texas." (That's POT for those of you who prefer acronyms.)

Oh, the jokes are coming too quickly to get them all down. Perry's loud and proud. Perry: high on something besides Jesus. Lubbock on everything. Seriously, don't they hire people to notice these sorts of things? Why, why would anyone pick something with such obviously mockable overtones, especially when there's an unpleasant little rumored scandal in your past? Especially when you're one of the most ineffective governors in the history of the great state who hasn't been able to get school finance reform through in six (count 'em, SIX) legislative sessions and specials?

Maybe it's time to start that political consulting firm, girls.

(Jesus would weep for Texas, that's what.)

1.09.2006

rock the airstream

All the excitement about the championship has overshadowed my normal depression that always sets in this time of year. College football season is over, not to return for eight long months. Sure, there's the playoffs and the Super Bowl coming up, but, well, (confession time): I don't really like pro football. It's the same game on a higher level, I guess, but it's not the same when you can buy your team. I know that college football is a bigger business every year, but there's still something more pure about it, at least in my head. For once I agree with Chris Fowler.

Austin is a little bit less happy now that Vince is leaving us (why, Vince, why?), but it's still lots of fun to be here. And, really, we all understand. I went to the Co-op on Friday and it was total chaos, as was the campus every night this weekend. Sunday I tried to get some shots from up on the hill by DKR and there was a traffic jam. On Sunday night.

If you've been under a rock and missed the Tower over the weekend, there' s a celebration at the stadium on Sunday night at 5 and they'll light it one last time. Also, the Statesman has a great album of readers' pics from Pasadena. It's lots of pictures of cute children and cute Matthew McConaughey hooking 'em. Ahem.

baa! baa! baa!

Matt Darling points out this gem from The Club. Just know that if 1) I'd be in the country and 2) I cared, you'd all be invited to be my buy-five-get-one-free bff's. Although I have to say that whoever the event planner for this one was clearly doesn't have a CLUE about prep culture. Bling? Lilly in February (outside of the resort)? PRADA? Puh-lease.

Now this is what preppy fabulous looks like.