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the blog spot of don

Wednesday, November 19, 2003  

We got back from England late Thursday night. The trip was really good - favorite things included the York minster, steak pie, the Abbey in Whitby (home to Caedmon and St. Hilda), the bookstore underneath the minster at Durham, taking roundabouts with my dad (not recommended), Edinburgh, fall leaves, the Tate Modern Art Museum in London, pubs, and the National Gallery. Also enjoyed the use of the word "smashing", example:

Ticket guy on the train: "Sir, can I please see your train ticket?"
Don: "Here it is."
Ticket guy on the train: "That's smashing. Thank you."

Weirdest day of my life: seeing (in person, mind you) the Queen of England, Tony Blair, Beyonce Knowles, and Cuba Gooding Jr. in a 12 hour period. Seriously.

posted by Don | 10:58 AM

Monday, November 03, 2003  

It’s been a few weeks since I last blogged. A cup of coffee got in a fight with my computer keyboard. Coffee won. It took my computer two weeks to recover from the incident, which it has done nicely. Nothing like the invincible 4 Gigabyte Toshiba Tecra 550CDT - it was one of 1997’s best!

Emily and I leave for Great Britain tomorrow to visit my parents. Jackson and Allison are staying with their MeeMee. I’m pretty well packed – sweaters, jeans, thick socks, beanie, British music (Elvis Costello, The Clash, the Stones, Belle and Sebastian, Joy Division, Radiohead, Gomez, etc.). Life has been so busy we haven’t had a chance to plan the trip yet. But hey – we’ve got six hours on the plane, right? I also have a 1200 page book on the history of the Isles that I need to squeeze in. The UK will be nice, but we’re really looking forward to just a few days without kids. When on temporary leave from children, even long lines in customs can be relaxing. It’s all a matter of perspective.

That’s it. Cheerio.

Soundtrack of the Day - Cocteau Twins Treasure

posted by Don | 12:50 AM

Wednesday, October 08, 2003  

i'm sitting this morning at flight path coffee shop. two rather loud men have spent the last fifteen minutes passionately discussing the finer points of the california election, california politics, california economy, etc. as best as i can tell neither one of them is from california (there are ways of telling if people are from california - i haven't the time here to go into it). but this doesn't seem to affect the intensity of their conversation.

why do we care? i live in texas, why is it on the front page of my newspaper? why is it the first story on my newscast? did i miss something? does this, in some way unbeknownst to me, impact my life? if a washed up bad actor in california sneezes do i get a cold?

oh sure, there are other things going on in the world - my city is in a major financial crunch, our school system is in desperate need of repair, several months ago a student was stabbed to death at the high school just a mile from my house. sure africa is overwhelmed with an AIDs crisis, this country is in an endless war on terror, the poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer. but c'mon, this whole california thing is THE story. it's so sexy and wonderful. it's funny and bizarre. it's so fun to talk about. it's totally like, you know, like politics and entertainment and really cool stuff all wrapped in one! dude, the terminator is like the dude in charge in california!

now that this story has just passed its fourteenth minute and is headed to it's death, we'll have to find something else in life to numb the bitter painfulness of being alive. maybe britney can kiss another aging pop star - perhaps tina turner? hopefully p. diddy (is that still his name?) or eminem's bodyguards can shoot someone or ben affleck can buy j.lo something really expensive! if only siegfried or roy could have been attacked by that tiger this weekend - then we would have something to talk about.

anything but real life. we can't handle things that matter.

posted by Don | 9:42 AM

Wednesday, September 24, 2003  

so, john ritter died a few weeks ago. granted, johnny cash he was not, but i'm sure he was a decent man. he made some people laugh and that's not a bad legacy. his family is certainly in mourning. so, too, is abc. but for completely different reasons. their reasons reveal the darkness, shallowness and triviality of commercial television.

i've noticed that abc is really pushing the last few episodes of his show. i know i'm a bit cynical - especially towards commercial driven television. but one can only imagine the conversation that took place in some shadowy executive boardroom several weeks ago.

executive one:
did you hear the news? john ritter's dead.

executive two:
what? when?

executive one:
less then an hour ago.

executive two:
why does this happen to us? his show was a hit.

executive one:
no joke. our tuesday line-up was solid.

executive two:
what are we going to do?

executive one:
let me bounce this off you. how about a special show that is a celebration of his life and career.

executive two:
a big one night hit before the fall shows begin. great idea! but we have to do it quick. with j-lo and ben's rocky relationship hogging the headlines, he'll soon be forgotten. gotta strike while the iron's hot!

executive one:
thank goodness a couple of his fall shows are in the can! we'll air the last few episodes that john taped. we'll promote them with spots that have john laughing in slow motion. the voiceover guy will talk about how america has lost a rare talent, how we're all going to miss him, blah blah blah.

executive two:
great idea! that's brilliant. i'm sure the sponsors will love it. the ratings should skyrocket. we could get a 15 share.

executive one:
we have to get a 15 share! this thing has really botched our fall line-up. we need to raise our sponsorship fees for these last few episodes. if you're an ad man, you'd be crazy not to want to run your company's commerical. i mean, these will be special human interest episodes.

executive two:
if we promote it right, we could make make a killing!

executive one:
oh yeah, release some statement saying that we are "shocked and saddened by this tragic loss and that our thoughts and prayers are with his family."

executive two:
nice touch.

executive one:
it's lunchtime. who wants sushi!


recommended reading - neil postman amusing ourselves to death: public discourse in an age of show business

recommend viewing - network; a 25 year-old movie that is more timely now than ever

posted by Don | 8:37 AM

Thursday, September 18, 2003  

i came across this dillard quote last week and the merton one a few days ago. really liked them both and thought i’d pass them along …

As a magnifying glass concentrates the ray of the sun into a little burning knot of heat that can set fire to a dry leaf or a piece of paper, so the mystery of Christ in the gospel concentrates the rays of God’s light and fire to a point that set fire to the spirit of man.
- Thomas Merton, New Seeeds of Contemplation

Miss White was old; she lived alone in the big house across the street. She liked having me around … I liked her. [One day] Miss White knelt in her yard while she showed me a magnifying glass. It was a large, strong hand lens. She lifted my hand, holding it very still, focused a dab of sunshine on my palm. The glowing crescent wobbled, spread, and finally contracted to a point. It burned; I was burned; I ripped my hand away and ran home crying. Miss White called after me, sorry, explaining, but I didn’t look back.

Even now, I wonder: if I meet God, will he take and hold my bare hand in his, and focus his eye on my palm, and kindle that spot and let me burn?

But no. It is I who misunderstood everything and let everybody down. Miss White, God, I am sorry I ran from you. I am still running, running, from that knowledge, that eye, that love from which there is no refuge. For you meant only love, and love, and I felt only fear, and pain. So once in Israel love came to us incarnate, stood in the doorway between two worlds, and we were all afraid.
- Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk

soundtrack of the day – yo la tengo and then nothing turned itself inside-out, my morning jacket it still moves and, of course, okkervil river down the river of golden dreams (which will no longer be listed in soundtrack of the day – you can assume it’s there. i’ll let you know when i switch to count chocula)

posted by Don | 1:28 PM

Wednesday, September 17, 2003  

for five years of my life, from early 1984 to october of 1989, every morning with very little exception my breakfast consisted of frosted flakes and orange juice. though the reasons are blurred, the details of that october day are clear . it started out as usual. late and hurried i made my way to the cabinet that was home to our cereal. something happened, and to this day i still don't know what, between that moment of time my hand left my side and before it grabbed the box. it was neither calculated nor premeditated. i don't even think it was conscious. but for some reason i pulled down a box of count chocula. five years of faithfulness and since that day i haven't touched the tiger.

the reason for the anecdote - my heart has recently been broken by will robinson sheff and okkervil river and i don’t want the pain to stop. their new record down the river of golden dreams is full of melancholic beauty. its tales of heartache, despair, loneliness, loss, and cries for atonement are a banquet of brokenness - somewhere in the land where muses live and breathe flannery o'conner "lay at the feet” of william faulkner (to use a biblical image) and okkervil river were the quintuplets that came forth - not crying as most babies, but aching, yearning and moaning.

i can't stop listening to it. its songs have taken residence in my heart and mind and have decided to stay. i want them to stay. like the frosted flakes were, they're good company. my only fear is that some day - perhaps four or five years down the road - i'll reach for count chocula and never return. it's almost enough to make me pull off my headphones, just for awhile, so that i can enjoy the heartbreak well into my 40s.

soundtrack of the day – okervill river down the river of golden dreams, okervill river down the river of golden dreams, okervill river down the river of golden dreams,

posted by Don | 8:45 AM

Thursday, September 11, 2003  

dear blog,

i am sorry we haven't spent any quality time together. i promise it's not you, it's me. i've just been so busy lately. blogs don't have wife and kids and jobs and friends, so i don't expect you to completely understand. my wireless internet card has been broken and the one hour they give me at the library just hasn't been enough. to boot, i still can't get over the pretentiousness of blogging. but i'd like to start over. can we still be friends?

soundtrack of the day - belle and sebastian if you're feeling sinister

posted by Don | 11:00 AM