Texas Outlaw Writers Newsletter: The Sleet Edition

Texas Outlaw Writers Newsletter: The Sleet Edition
Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

It's still cold. Shouldn't it be warming up by now? It's February for God's sake. And half of Texas is under ice and sleet warnings. Dallas has experienced "thunder-sleet." What kind of experience is "thunder-sleet"? Is sleet a verb? Can you be sleeted on? Can you conjugate sleet? I sleet. We sleeted. We have been sleeten.

Moving on. (Dress warmly, bring the pets in, kiss the plants goodbye.)

To take your mind off all that ice (and hey, don't you worry - ERCOT's got this)... here is some recommended viewing. Get a blankie, a hot toddie, and a snuggle buddy...
We're not always the first in line for opening day for recent films. It's doubtful we'll have seen a fraction of whatever "The Academy" nominates as "Best ____  for their little soiree. But if you're like we are and are just poking around, looking for a good hour or two, we've run across a couple of gems.

Check out the quirky "Vengeance." A great little indie film, set in Texas "five hours from Abilene." Written, directed, and starring B.J. Novak who cut his chops writing and acting in "The Office." Great setup: a carefree journalist/podcaster living in New York travels to Texas to investigate the death of a woman whom he hooked up with. The flick proves its Texas bona fides by setting several scenes at the local Whataburger rather than some stereotypical town cafe. Unfortunately, the film was actually shot in New Mexico, so those north Texas plains somehow have mountains sticking up in the background. C'mon, Texas... let Hollywood have the same $$ incentives that are given by other states. Almost every economist agrees that incentives for film production are an easy payback that also enhances tourism.  (Streaming free on Amazon Prime.)

Check out "The Sound of 007: 60 Years of James Bond." It's a documentary that looks at over a half-century of Bond films, specifically, the music that went into them. From the classic theme recognized the world over, the underlying scores, to the famous pop hits that open each movie. We hear from Carly Simon (Nobody Does it Better,) Louis Armstrong (We Have All the Time in the World,) Billie Eilish (No Time to Die,) and many others. When George Martin works with Paul McCartney to produce "Live and Let Die," we see Martin try to explain to executive producer Cubby Broccoli (who keeps suggesting female vocalists that they might hire to sing it...) that Paul McCartney comes with the song that he wrote! (On Amazon Prime.)

We missed this last Spring, but be sure and catch "Lucy and Desi,"  free on Amazon Prime. It's Amy Poehler's documentary about one of Hollywood’s most prolific power couples. And if you aren't familiar with their story, you won't believe just how much power they had and how many great films and series that they had a hand in. Or how revolutionary their "I Love Lucy" series was.
In an interview with Harper's Bazaar, Poeler said,

"...they represented a time in America that was very specific, a very post-war capitalist boom where gender roles were really entrenched, but America was changing. The simple idea that this woman was married to this Cuban band leader, and even though he seemed like the boss, she ran the show, and how they were equal partners in business for most of their lives — it was just really fascinating. So it talked about gender and economics and what makes an American — all this really big stuff that just was underneath just a funny show.”

Some excellent reading this week:

Let's start out with Myra Jolivet's first take on Black History Month. We all know about Martin Luther King... the kids will recite the "...Dream" speech. We'll talk about the "arc of the moral universe..." But the advancement of black America has come from countless little-known, and mostly unsung heroes.  Myra is here to remind us...

Black History Month: The Home of the Brave | TX Outlaw Writers
It is often the unsung heroes that make outsized contributions to the black community. For Black History Month, it’s a good time to recognize the few who had cojones of steel in the face of enslavement, oppression, and violence.

Personal loss sort of piled up recently on our Roger Gray. "Happy Holidays" sometimes aren't. The festive decorations and champagne glasses don't seem to make it easier, and sometimes make it worse.
Roger is uncharacteristically somber since, well, the subject is death. But he wants us to know that - never fear, there is a Santos joke buried in his piece somewhere.  

David Crosby and My Brother | Texas Outlaw Writers
Everyone’s wish for a “Happy New Year” doesn’t stave off personal loss. Grief has no calendar. Before time runs out, there’s something you can do.

James is back on the bike. Or at least, getting ready to head out... somewhere. Like so many, he fell under the spell of Robert M. Pirsig’s classic, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values... He kept rereading through the years and started to figure some of it out. Has HE been the bike, all along?

The meaning of the book has changed slightly over the years, but the values are still the same. A few good wrecks, and hitting a turkey at 70 MPH will teach you some subtle lessons. (And some not-so-subtle ones.) A faceful of turkey excrement can really align your chakra with the universe, for example.

Zen and the Art of Remaining Upright | Texas Outlaw Writers
When I had first encountered Robert M. Pirsig’s book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values... I kept rereading through the years and grew to appreciate its subtle teachings. “The real cycle you’re working on,” he wrote, “is a cycle called ‘yourself.’