Barton Springs (& Deep Eddy) Soundtrack

My entire plan for getting through my first full Texas Summer is to sit at the side of one of the spring fed swimming pools reading and then jumping in whenever I start sweating too much. I’ve done this a few times, I’ve been busier than I would like, and it’s been rainier than I expected, but when I do get there it looks something like this:


Barton Springs Pool

or this:

Deep Eddy pool

Deep Eddy pool

And here are the songs I’ve listening to while lounging:

Back on Dumaine – Anders Osborne 

I Want You  – Bob Dylan

Fast Car – Tracy Chapman

Spaceman – The Killers 

I Know What I Know – Paul Simon 

The Water – Johnny Flynn & Laura Marling 

I think I’ve shared this before, but it’s been in my head every time I’ve gone swimming this summer – as morbid as that may be.

All Your Favorite Bands – Dawes 

It’s like a 21st century “May the road rise to meet you…”

Love & Mercy – Brian Wilson 

Also you should all go see the movie, it’s really good.

Work This Body – Walk the Moon 

(This is my current workout anthem as well. I love the random French.)

Days Like This – Van Morrison 

Kath and Hanna Reread Harry Potter…and the Sorcerer’s Stone

IMG_2705 Welcome to my #summersurvival project, where I’m rereading my favorite book series of all time for the first time since the 7th book came out 8 years ago. I’ve roped my friend Hanna into doing this with me, and rather than writing coherent reviews (I’m way too emotionally invested for that to be possible) I’ll be posting our (slightly edited for clarity) e-mail conversations that we have as the reading is in progress.

From: Kathryn – To: Hanna – June 12

I’m about 100 pages (ish) into the book and I just got to Hogwarts, I know there is a lot of backstory to establish but I’m surprised. The book is only 300ish pages long, and the parts at school loom so largely in my head that I thought they took up more of the story. 

Other than that my biggest impression is that he is so young! I think I knew he was 11, but having not read it since I was a teenager I didn’t really think of the fact that at the beginning with all of the horrible Dursley b.s. he’s 10! Heartbreaking. 
Side note: Smelting is the best name for a fake British boarding school, and the uniform/stick is just such a great comic touch.

Harry Melling as Dudley Dursley in his Smelting uniform, complete with stick

From Hanna – To: Kathryn – June 12
I’m just off the Hogwarts Express – same spot! First time around, I read it in about 24 hours; this time, it took me an hour to read about a third of the book, so looks like I should match  my rate 🙂
My grandparents gave me the book for my 10th birthday (no memory of this lol), and they’ve both passed away since, so their inscription made me a little teary…
But yes, SO young! I had forgotten so many of the little details, like how Aunt P kept on cutting Harry’s hair but it would just grow back immediately. I also love the details that we didn’t know to care about, like Hagrid borrowing Sirius Black’s motorcycle to bring baby Harry to the Dursleys, and Scabbers (Wormtail) biting Malfoy on the train when he insulted James Potter. 
I’m also so happy that seeing the movies hasn’t totally muddled my internal images of the characters. Book 1 Hermione still has the buck teeth of not Emma Watson, and Ron is not quite as cute as little Rupert Grint. 
I also totally never processed just how horrible the Dursleys are to Harry – like, protective services horrible – and, like you said, how young he was to deal with all of that. The Smelting stick is fucking amazing though.
From: Kathryn – To: Hanna – June 13, 2015 
I’m a little jealous the actors haven’t affected your images of the characters as much. Mine have definitely changed (except or Neville, but I think that’s because my brain can’t get rid of the picture of what that actor looks like now which obviously doesn’t fit the early falling all over himself all the time boy.) 

I’m about 2/3s through now (and am working until 2 at the seminary library, where nothing is happening so I’ll probably be done today) and I just wanted to note that she does an amazing job of describing what it’s like to start at boarding school. I know this is very specific to me, but I think it’s also true of the first time you go away from home in general. There’s great description of how they get lost and then celebrate the first time that they don’t. The first week seems to last forever and then suddenly it’s two months later, which definitely rings true for me. Anyway, it’s a little thing that I don’t think I could have appreciated fully as a 12 year old reading this the first time. 

For those who don’t know, this is what Neville (Matthew Lewis) looks like now.

From: Kathryn – To: Hanna – June 13
Sorry for the 2 e-mails in a row, but I’m done! I have two main thoughts about the ending: 

1-JK writes action really well, I obviously knew the big twist but I still kept flipping the pages as fast as I could. 
2-Dumbledore is amazing and all, but should we really be trusting him with children? “Yeah the most powerful evil wizard ever is trying to get the source of immortality from my school, I should probably let an 11 year old boy handle that.” 
From: Hanna – To: Kathryn – June 15
Some thoughts, in no particular order:
–I am so with you on JK Rowling’s skill – I think that in all of the Pottermania, something that started to get lost was that she’s just a damn good writer. I did notice a lot of comma splices, which I know don’t bother you / it bothers you more that people are bothered by them 🙂
–Over the years, I had started to think of HP 1 as a good book only in that it introduced us to the amazing world of HP.  I was pleasantly surprised by how great it was, in and of itself.  Excellent character development, etc.
–I miss the carefree days when the House Cup was super important, but was sad at how little Dumbledore action there was.  But yeah, totally with you on Dumbledore’s (seeming) total lack of judgment.  Maybe that’s one reason why HP appeals to kids – at age 11, we all think that we could totally take on Voldemort (or Muggle equivalent), if only we had an adult as awesome as Dumbledore who let us do so.
–JK Rowling explicitly describes Dean Thomas as Black (with a capital B, no less), but lets us assume that the Patils are Indian. No real thought on this, just an observation.  Also, the actor who plays Dean Thomas is beautiful now, and his name is Alfie: 

Oh I know, he’s on How To Get Away With Murder…and he’s amazing

Also, I’m just really happy that we’re doing this. 
I am too Hanna, I am too! And if any of the rest of you want to join in our reading fun I would love that!

Award Show Round Up: Tony Awards 2015

I didn’t actually watch the Tony’s last night. I know, I’m not sure who I am right now either. But my friend Madison was in town from Chicago and I wasn’t going to make her watch a jumpy live stream of an awards show she cared nothing about on her last night in Austin. So instead I watched it illegally this evening after finishing a double shift at work. And despite the continued stupidity of the awards given during commercial breaks it was a really great show. (Sorry for pirating CBS, but I’m not actually that sorry.) Anyway, my highlights were:

Something Rotten looks designed for me, and I can’t wait for it to tour/I win the lottery and get to fly to NYC to go to the theater:

(I love the dig at  Les Mis)

Helen Mirren is one letter away from an EGOT!

And I’m actually OK with the fact that Something Rotten didn’t win, because well – this is from a musical based on a great book, by Alison Bechdel (yes…as in Bechdel) and well, just watch this:

This guy, makes me feel lazy, and inspired

Kelli O’Hara, don’t ever change (though maybe stop doing King & I, so I’ll want to go see you in something):

And of course, there were some beautiful dresses!

Helen Mirren in Badgley Mischka

Jennifer Lopez in Valentino Haute Couture

Emily Skeggs in Christian Siriano (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Vanessa Hudgens in Naeem Khan (Photo Credit: Getty)

Taylor Schilling in Michael Kors

Ruth Wilson in Ralph Lauren Collection

Sarah Stiles in J. Mendel

Elisabeth Moss in Oscar de la Renta (Photo Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

Five Star Book: Spontaneous Mind, Selected Interviews of Allen Ginsberg

IMG_2677 Allen Ginsberg’s poetry has been very important to me since I first read Howl and Other Poems (I put it on my list of Ten Most Influential Books last fall), and I have always loved the Beat writers in general (particularly the often forgotten women) so I was really looking forward to digging into this collection of Ginsberg’s interviews. What I didn’t know was that, as editor David Carter says in his afterword, “Allen regarded the interview as part of his art,” and therefore had a history of being remarkably candid and giving with interviewers in a way that was rare in his lifetime, and probably even more rare now in the soundbite, gotcha media culture we have created for ourselves.

I don’t always agree with everything Ginsberg proposes (especially when it comes to drugs and the physical power of chanting) but I was repeatedly, deeply moved by his humane approach to the problems he faced. Not only personal but also political and ecological. (He has a great stance on the term ‘flower power’ not being a stupid hippie cliche but a turn towards environmentalism that we would probably now call an attempt at rebranding, but reads as really sincere in context.) Although I enjoyed the glimpses into the Beat community, and his unwavering support of Jack Kerouac as a poet and artist and man, I was particularly taken with the later interviews (the book goes up to 100 days before his death in 1997). He shares an all too rare perspective on world events and personal conflict that was rooted in a remarkable empathy and sense of the shared humanity of all people, even – maybe especially – those he disagreed with. It was truly inspiring to read.

And, on a completely different note, he was able to synthesize a lot of literary theory into practical writing advice. My only complaint with the book is that there wasn’t a full bibliography at the back because I feel like I ended it with about 100 book recommendations from one of the great artists of recent times. (That was another thing that was sort of thrilling; I always think of Ginsberg as he was in On the Road, and the Kill Your Darlings and James Franco’s Howl, but he lived into my lifetime, which means that his ideas – the less LCD based ones anyway – may not be as out of date as I have feared them to be in the past.)