Sound Bite: Celebrating weakness

I think the least powerful aspect of our humanity is our physical strength or ability. Life really is about the strong surviving, but as humans, we had to understand and share our weakness and vulnerability to survive the predators and weather the dangers of our circumstances. I think, in some way, we have lost, or fail to celebrate, much of that element of being human.

-Steve Gleason, formerly with the New Orleans Saints, in this beautiful Sports Illustrated column that outlines his battle with ALS, a disease I lost a hero to nine years ago.

Posted on July 23, 2013 and filed under Sound Bites.

Summer round-up: Castles, Spitfire, clear eyes and full hearts

Crazy year, crazy summer. The latter’s been made a little sweeter by:

This win for humanity, this tenacious Texas senator and this T-shirt (timed perfectly with my long overdue discovery of “Friday Night Lights”):

This firecracker, so energetic that she snapped me out of my jet lag funk at her Houston concert last week:

This understated Grand Ole Opry debut of Kree Harrison, one of five reality TV-boosted local singers I covered in the latest issue of Houston magazine (check it):

These comprehensive All-Time Greatest’ lists over at Entertainment Weekly, outlining the best shows, movies, music and books of the past 100 years:

This honest discussion of Houston’s ethnic and cultural transformation:

This new album review format we introduced over at Country Universe, starting with LeAnn Rimes’ top-notch Spitfire (current favorite: “Who We Really Are”):

This view from the mountains in England’s Lake District…

…these ruins just south of Kilkenny, Ireland…

… this castle in Stonehaven, Scotland – all from a trip to Europe earlier this month with friends who have become like family…

…and this full circle opportunity to visit the site of my old school in Aberdeen, Scotland, just three days before it would be completely demolished:

It inspired me to reach out to a special teacher whose encouragement and belief in me as a (very) amateur sixth grade writer shaped me into the writer I am today. Learning that he had recently shared with his kids one of my writing samples from 15 years ago is the sweetest thing on this list.

*Post written to the tune of this acoustic beauty, currently on repeat.

Posted on July 18, 2013 and filed under Round-Ups.

Sound Bite: Reaching peak bullshit

Up until recently, I would have said that the only proper response to our culture of BS is cynicism; that it would just get worse and worse. But I don’t believe that any more, and I think this matters for what comes next for you. I think we may have reached a critical turning point.

I’m going to say that word one last time. I believe we may have reached “peak bullshit.” And that increasingly, those who push back against the noise and nonsense; those who refuse to accept the untruths of politics and commerce and entertainment and government will be rewarded. That we are at the beginning of something important.

And what’s awesome is that you — the graduates of schools like Pitzer — will be the ones who are best prepared and most likely to lead this movement. What’s striking about the culture of this school is an unabashedly sincere desire to do good in this world; to be responsible for one another and to carry yourselves with integrity. And it’s exciting that, maybe — just maybe — those traits won’t just mean you do good; that this earnestness, this authenticity, will help you succeed in a society that is demanding those qualities with both hands.

-TV writer and former President Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett, in his commencement speech to the 2013 graduates of Pitzer College. 

Posted on June 21, 2013 and filed under Sound Bites.

Chatting "Idol" on MyFoxHouston

For the past three seasons, I’ve been covering the ever-frustrating and addicting “American Idol” for CultureMap – an opportunity that’s continued to lead to other opportunities. Like meeting these crazy dudes over at Fox 26:

I had so much fun hanging out with them this morning, thanks to a generous invitation from MyFoxHouston’s entertainment guru Ruben Dominguez. We traded “Idol” thoughts on two live segments, including one that also featured Houston’s Dave Morales, whose voice I’ve known for years:

You can find my full “Idol” coverage here, rounded out by my review of Kree Harrison’s bittersweet homecoming concert in Beaumont last weekend.

Posted on May 9, 2013 and filed under TV, American Idol.

Texas gems: George Strait and Amber Holcomb

Thanks to CultureMap, I nabbed two sweet freelance opportunities this month: I covered George Strait’s dazzling, sold out RODEOHouston concert

…and interviewed Houston’s own Amber Holcomb, currently one of seven contestants left on “American Idol’s” female-fueled Season 12. (You can read my run-down of the top 10 contestants here.)

Bring it, April.

Posted on March 31, 2013 and filed under American Idol, Music.