Airport Window Shopping

One of my favorite things about waiting in an airport (that already sounds paradoxical, doesn’t it?) is the bookshop window shopping.

Obviously, I’m way too cheap stingy frugal to ever buy a book. After all, that’s why libraries and friends were invented. And, yeah, if we are friends that have ever discussed books, there’s a high probability that some marvelous literary work you lent me is still in my possession years later (sorry, Kim, I know you REALLY want the wonder that is South of Broad back).

Anyway, that was a digression. So, when I go to an airport bookstore, I walk around like a slightly deranged person and take pictures of the covers of all the books I want to read so I’ll remember them later and find a free way to get my hands on them.

Here’s the latest and greatest list of things I saw at the airport this summer:

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I really liked The Tipping Point, and I’ve heard good things about this book… it’s about how being the underdog can actually be an advantage. Very interested. On the “to read” list.

20140625-134710-49630380.jpg Because what’s NOT to like about a book described as a “substantive beach read” about two women whose dreams are challenged by society and familial expectations? Check.

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Oh, Bridget Jones. As much as I love your movie (the first one, not the second one), I really don’t think you needed another book. And really, Mark Darcy aka Collin Firth aka sweatery British super-movie-love interest really makes the movie. And that fight scene in the street. Probably won’t read this one, but felt like there should be a public service announcement that Bridget’s back and in Mum-mode.

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MOST Jane Austen adaptations leave me lukewarm, but the ones that I do like have the Austen-y characters in the periphery and introduce you to a new cast in a familiar setting (Elizabeth Aston’s books are my favorite Austen redactions – is that the right word?). This one is about the life of a servant in the P&P household, so it might be promising.

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This isn’t a new book at all, so I would be interested to hear if anyone else has read it. “The Twelve Tribes of Hattie” keeps popping up in my library “recommended” queue. Since it’s available for download immediately, I’ll probably check it out. After all, the sticker says Oprah recommended it. ;)

20140625-134711-49631808.jpg Heard about this one on NPR. The bad thing about hearing about books on NPR is that I’m typically in the car, and I forget about whatever I heard by the time I get to work or home (unless it’s the story about the woman with dozens of pet rats who, among other things, meet her at the door like a dog when she returns home and clean her teeth while she watches TV. Yes, you read that correctly. She allows a rat to reach its talons into her mouth and CLEAN. HER. TEETH. Vile.)

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Does the cover of this book not just look awesome and creepy? I imagine whoever was married to EAP must have been a pretty strange lady, and you know what they say…. truth is stranger than fiction (although, come to think of it, typically not stranger than Poe’s fiction…. hearts thumpings and casks of amontillado and all that).

20140625-134713-49633678.jpg We finally get to another non-fiction book on the list. I really like these kinds of memoir/experience/whatever the genre’s called books… honestly, because I think they’re a writer’s dream. Who DOESN’T want to go do something amazing and write it all down and get famous? That’s hitting on all the literary cylinders.

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Last but not least, I feel like I’ve heard a lot of things that are at odds with old Ben Franklin’s kindly, bespectacled kite-flying persona, like his raging syphillis and, apparently, his common law wife and bastard child.

Okay, if you’re still reading – I want to know if you’ve read any of these books, how you liked them and what else you recommend. Anything good on your reading list?

Mighty Morphin’ Football Coaches

Please, please, please just watch this commercial. 

I don’t know when I’ve literally stopped what I was doing and had to sit down from laughing so hard at a commercial, especially one from my favorite football conference. 

Now, after you get done admiring the smouldering attractiveness of Art Briles, greatest football coach in the history of the world, living legend, etc., etc., and so forth, please note the best morphing action since everyone had to drink the Polyjuice Potion in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. 

0:17 seconds is the place you want to note. The production crew had to have done this on purpose to make the most startling contrast possible, and it’s excellent. Coach Gosling has apparently grown up into a plumply, full-grown goose. 

I also like that they decided to go from new Texas coach Charlie Strong to Mike Gundy, since maybe they thought it was a good idea to morph from Texas’ first African-American coach to the first (and hopefully only) Big 12 coach with a skin tone that rivals an Oompa Loompa. 

It’s good stuff. And now, back to the opening of college football weekend.

The Tennis Struggle

Today before heading to the tennis
court…

Me: “I wish I knew someone just a little bit better than me that I could practice with.”

Will: “Like me… Sitting in a chair?”

Ouch.

Oh well, I’m thankful that he humors me and lets me slowly improve. :) But if there’s anyone out there who can match the on-court prowess of Will one-handed in a chair, hit me up and let’s play!

Book Club with Celebs (Namely Ekpe Udoh @ekpeudoh )

So, while many of you were enjoying normal meh-type weekends rife with yardwork and cabinet-organizing and things of that nature, the Tates were, of course, busy doing awesome things. (This is actually in direct opposition to some of our usual weekends, which include thrilling activities like getting diplomas custom-framed and taking BOTH vehicles to the car wash. Yeah, that’s right – we live on the edge.)

This past weekend, we spent the day at the coolest, most amazing book club meeting in the history of the world. Ekpe Udoh, former Baylor superstar, NBA lottery pick and current Milwaukee Bucks big man, invited our whole Twitter book club to a meet-up in Dallas. Can you imagine – knowing me – the elation this event caused? Bringing together Baylor, basketball, Twitter and reading is a sure fire success in my book.

And, Ekpe was the consummate host. He treated us to lunch and dinner, took us on an educational outing, made us bond through an intense Fault in Our Stars sobfest and was all-around amazing. I really can’t imagine many people putting this much time and effort into arranging a celebration like this for their dear family members/friends. Ekpe is the kind of person who was willing to put this event together – and to bring together a couple dozen people he knew only through social media – and to be extremely generous with us and exceedingly thoughtful in the planning and execution processes.

When Ekpe was at Baylor, I remember reading about how he pushed his teammates to do more, to excel and to strive for excellence. I remember an article about how he added running as a team to their workouts, giving everyone extra incentive and motivation. That unforgettable season, which included an Ekpe triple-double, a buzzer-beating hook shot against Hartford and an Elite Eight run, solidly cemented me as a fan of Ekpe Udoh the basketball player. This past weekend made me an even bigger fan of Ekpe Udoh the person.

If you have a chance, watch for upcoming book club sign-ups on Ekpe’s Twitter account, or just jump into the conversation. It’s fun, thought-provoking and worth your while.

Also, while most of this post is about Ekpe, I have to give a bit of a shout-out to my fellow book club members. Who would have thought you could bring a group of people together from across the US and have them click together pretty much instantaneously? After the obligatory couple of minutes of eighth-grade dance wall-holding-up, we were all chatting away like lifelong friends. Special shout-outs to Brandon and Kelsey, the nicest and most down-to-earth brother-sister duo, Kristen, my fellow PR-ista (of whom I have total job envy – sports PR!), Elle, tearful reading-and-bonding partner, and Jan, fellow Baylor Bear, resident book club teacher’s pet and sharer of deep thoughts. I would keep going but there were too many amazing people there to list every single one. I can only hope everyone keeps reading so we can get together again!

So, what has your book club done for
you lately? If you’re not reading about Hazel and Augustus, crying, toasting champagne and loving life, you may want to reconsider and sign up for Ekpe’s Book Club ASAP!

Thanks again, Ekpe, for an amazing weekend!

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Baylor family represented well in the club!

Summer is Here – On the Upside, Maybe I’m a Demigod

So.

In yet another incidence of life imitating art (by which I mean, me comparing my life to a nerdy book), I know that it is undoubtedly summer.

Why? Well, let’s start with the literary part. Do you remember the story of how spiders were invented? You know Arachne was a weaver, blah blah, she said she was better than Athena, blah blah, Athena got all offended and ragey as those crazy Greeks are prone to do, blah blah, and she turned Arachne into a spider. She was all, “Oh, so you think you can weave? How about I make you have string coming out of your stomach for the rest of your life? How about you weave your own house? How about you catch your own food – which will be disgusting flies, by the way – by, you guessed it, weaving?” Athena pretty much took it as far as you can go. By the way, shout out to Percy Jackson for reminding me of this story (that’s the nerd part).

Well, then, how does this apply to my life, you may well be asking? I haven’t turned a single enemy into an insect or arachnid, even though I have plenty of them. Enemies, that is, although I really prefer and frequently use the term Nemesis, which, if Rick Riordan’s writing serves me correctly, is another Greek. Whoa, this is so mythological of me.

Sorry, tangent.

Anyway, so after Arachne became a spider, she and her creepy children hated Athena. And in Percy Jackson, spiders are always following and tormenting Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena. Well, that’s me, except I must be a descendant of whichever myth out there created or mortally offended the mosquito. Seriously. My family can attest to this; mosquitoes love me. They flock, fly, swarm around me. Yesterday was the tipping point where I discovered that mosquitoes are here for the rest of the year, and with a vengeance. I was outside in the balmy San Antonio heat for literally and actually LESS THAN TWO MINUTES and I was immediately assuaged by these nightmare bloodsucking mini-monsters. I have bites all around my ankles from that short 100 seconds in the outdoor world – why they chose to focus on one specific area, I have no clue. But it is not fun and I can look forward to that bug-grudge-match for the remainder of the summer. Pretty much my legs will go from “death-laser-pale-white” to “is-that-leprosy-oh-no-just-mosquitoes” in a matter of days.

So, if possible, I’d like to proclaim a truce with the insect world. And, more importantly, I need to research my mythological heritage so I can figure out what amazing powers I’ve been neglecting so far in life. Maybe I should be able to turn invisible or make flames in my hands or pull precious jewels from the ground with my mind (that would be a pretty good one, except for them being cursed and all that. Oh yeah, spoiler. Sorry.) Any ideas?

30th Birthday Plans Set

Okay, we’ve found the way to ease the 30th birthday woes. 

According to Will, it’s basically eating our way into a coma on fried green tomatoes, she-crab soup, and fluffy coconut cake while listening to jazz music. 

We’re spending a long weekend in Charleston, South Carolina to celebrate being 30 together. 

Great food, great beaches, great plantations, great music. All happening exactly one month from today (which would be one week after my actual birthday, but who’s counting?). And, it’s a joint celebration of Will’s birthday, since he did have to spend his in College Station, which is no decent way for a man to live. 

So, who out there has been to Charleston, and what should be on a can’t-miss-it schedule for a quick weekend getaway? 

TBT Vol. 1: That Time We Went to Cali, Cali (Food Edition)

There are a lot of things in my life that I don’t have blog posts about, but that I obvi think it’s crucial for the world to know about. Seriously, I don’t know how the rest of you have been getting out of bed daily without knowing what I had for lunch on a random Friday two months ago. So, on Wednesdays we wear pink, and on Thursdays, I will post something that happened and that I never got around to blogging:

First up, I told you all about how I went to LA and that Abby picked up at the airport, Psych-style, but I stopped there and left you all breathlessly on the edge of your seats regarding any potential West Coast Shenanigans. And today, I’m only going to stimulate your tastebuds with my abhorrently bad food-tography of tasty things.

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Sometimes, I am shocked at things people come up with – and that they are so good. Who ever heard of putting cherries in rice? Added bonus of this restaurant (I forgot its name, sadly) is that the waiter was CLEARLY INFATUATED with my sister, and, of course, she was having none of that, no matter how much free pita she was provided.

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Of course, Will had to get his craft beer fix, and luckily, the team hotel (where, no, of course, we were not stalking the players…. it was just a lucky 45-minutes-from-Abby’s house-coincidence) was within walking distance of a crafty little brewery – Oggi’s. I liked the Torrey Pines IPA. I made a horrible food decision here – when a place is called “Pizza and Brewing,” you obvi shouldn’t order a piece of grilled chicken. Totally out-Whataburgered by Will this day.

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This calculated-ly hispter pie shop (The Pie Hole) was almost disappointingly simple, and full of people who looked like they might like “pi” equally as much as “pie,” but the pie we had was so good. Between the three of us, we split a piece of crostada (see above – chocolate, caramel, sea-salty goodness) and a piece of apple pie. And, we went totally Truvy from Steel Magnolias’ Cuppa Cuppa Cuppa with it – it was so rich we ate it with ice cream to cut the sweetness.

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26 Beach. I love this place. If they had it in San Antonio, I would go there all the time. Seriously. And, not just because you can eat a burger “green-style” (meaning on salad) and delude yourself into thinking the mound of processed beef, pig and goat you’re eating is healthy, BUT because it’s just so freaking adorable. Go look at the pictures of the Garden Room. If I ever get to the point in my life where I can become a full-time writer, somewhere like this is going to be my Les Deux Magots. OHHH, and let me tell you about this burger-salad. Heather would disagree with me, as she thinks the bun makes the burger, but this was one of the BEST burgers I have ever had – fresh beef with crispy goat cheese medallions, Medjool dates and bacon. I’m getting suddenly ravenously hungry just thinking about it.

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And to wrap it all up, time-travelling cookies. I say this because I’m pretty sure the good people at Diddy Riese must be doing the same thing as the diner owner in 11-22-63 (that’s not a spoiler – it’s right at the beginning of the book) does so he can keep serving college kids ridiculously cheap hamburgers. Really, there can be no other explanation why a cookie sandwich, which was about 30 times too big for me to finish only costs $1.75. Either that, or the people of Coldstone and Orange Leaf have been seriously preying on the hapless compulsions of we, the ice-cream addicted populace. The sandwich above is two fresh chocolate chip cookies, with peanut butter cup ice cream in the middle. Goodness. (PS Their website has a virtual ice cream sandwich maker – how cute is that?!).

Other things were eaten in the course of this trip, including a special dinner that I will write about later as part of another post, a mid-earthquake Mexican meal and a LOT of Goldfish crackers. But, maybe these are stories for other Thursdays.