Friday, June 29, 2012

On the Road

Steph and I are currently in Louisiana visiting family, and we had a great trip down yesterday. I love our road trips for several reasons. First and foremost, I get to spend one-on-one time with Steph. Beyond that, I greatly enjoy seeing the interesting localities along the way and listening to music on the radio (Sirius XM). Here are some selections from our trip yesterday. This is how we do it:

A big thank you to Steph for shooting the footage. And for being a great traveling companion.

Incidentally, for those who are interested, I edited the clips last night on iMovie on my iPad - it's a fun and easy-to-use app for a quick movie like this one. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Happy Birthday, Jack!

Jack, my family's Jack Russell terrier, turns 14 today. He has brought untold joy to our family, and I am so grateful for his friendship over the years.

There is so much to learn from the character of dogs. They seem have an uncanny ability to perceive our emotions - and respond accordingly: when we are sad, they will mourn with us and remind us of their love; when we are happy, they rejoice; when we feel like being lazy, they will lounge; and when we feel adventurous, they will embark on a quest.

They greet us when we come home, eyes bright and tails a-wagging. 

They will encourage us when we need encouraging, and will even defend us, selflessly and in the face of deadly peril, if we are in danger.

Their love and fidelity are unconditional. They are our friends, and friends for life - not because of our merits, but simply because we are there.

I need to be more like a dog.

So here's to Jack, and all the other canine companions out there! May we humans be more like you!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Some Shakespeare

While wandering through a Barnes and Noble in Dallas recently, I came upon a single-volume collection of the plays of William Shakespeare. The print was readable, and the price was below $8, so I bought it.

I started reading the first play in the book: King Henry VI Part I. While there is certainly a part of me that wants to read Shakespeare with heavy annotation so that I can really understand everything that is happening and being said, ultimately, for me, I'm reading to enjoy the poetry and the story - so I decided to just read the play and take pleasure in it as well as I could. And I have to say, it was mostly understandable, and I found it highly entertaining. (Note: I did consult a dictionary for tough words, as well as Wikipedia to understand the historical background; both resources helped greatly.)

King Henry VI Part I concerns the very early stages of the War of the Roses in England, as well as some of England's martial conflicts in France. There is a lot of combat in the play, a lot of humor, and, of course, a lot of great poetic language. As I read, I couldn't help but think that the play would translate into a really cool action-adventure movie.

And on top of all of that, the play contains one of the most outrageous lines of dialogue I've ever read. Take a gander at this little gem from the Bard:

"O, were mine eyeballs into bullets turn'd,
That I, in rage, might shoot them at your faces!"


Needless to say, after reading this play, I am pumped for the two sequels.

On a related note: since the first day of summer is only two days away, I'll post one of Shakes's most beloved sonnets:

"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate;
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee."

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Classic YouTube Hit

Back in the good ole days of the mid-2000s, I, along with my brother Charles and many of our friends, would devote a lot time to watching hilarious videos on the internet. This one is a classic:

I am a big fan of the internet video sub-genre of lip-syncing. And this video is an example of excellence within that sub-genre. I mean, there are so many great things going on here. To name a four:

(1) These guys are totally committed. They work to ensure that they fake-sing every note.
(2) They are wearing basketball jerseys. One is wearing a head-band.
(3) They are evidently in a dorm room. There's a guy sitting on the computer behind them who, although he doesn't get involved in the lip-syncing, is at least wearing a basketball jersey.
(4) The dancing is meticulously choreographed.

At 2:26, the guys break it down, and it has got to be one of the funniest things I've ever seen on the internet. I laugh every time; and when it comes to viral videos....I want it that way.

Any other fans of this video and/or the lip-syncing sub-genre out there? Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Friday, June 15, 2012


Hi everyone, and welcome to The Sketch Blog! My wife Steph and I will soon be commencing a new phase of our life: we will be spending a large portion of our year in England, where I will be pursuing a Phd in English. In this blog, I’m planning to share anecdotes from our life and travels, as well as posts about books and writing and other things that interest me. I am hoping that this site will be yet another avenue by which we can stay in touch with family and friends. In this inaugural post, I’m going to write about the title of this blog and the classic book that inspired it.

In the years 1819 and 1820, American author Washington Irving serially published The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. While most contemporary readers are probably not familiar with the book as a whole, they probably are familiar with two of the stories contained within it: namely, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle.” In addition to these classic shorts and various other brief entertainments, the book offers numerous fictionalized essays by the pseudonymous Geoff Crayon, an American who has traveled extensively in England. In these essays, Mr. Crayon writes about many topics of interest, and he often writes about England and his experiences there. For these reasons, I thought that taking and adapting the title of The Sketch Book would be appropriate for my blog.

I have not yet finished reading The Sketch Book; I am reading it slowly, taking the time to enjoy each chapter. But based on what I have read – roughly three-quarters of the book – I absolutely love it. It’s just cool. First off, the title. It’s a book of literary “sketches” (short written pieces), and, according to the title, it was composed by a guy whose last name is Crayon. I mean, come on...Crayon. So Irving gets the punning and humor started right away. Some of the stories are indeed humorous, and some are more somber and thoughtful. Many are both. All of them (that I’ve read) are great. One aspect of the book that I greatly appreciate – and in our digital era, I doubt I’m alone – is the fact that the individual sketches are short and can be read in a single sitting. Of course, if you want to remain within the confines of a comfy chair for a while, you could read many of the sketches in a sitting. And in case you are interested, The Sketch Book, like many of the books I will probably be writing about, is public domain, so you can download it for free onto your computer or e-reader.  

I hope that, in the future, this blog will afford what Geoff Crayon mentioned as a motivation for his writing in the opening passages of The Sketch Book: “the entertainment of my friends.”