May 24, 2013

The Lost Boys

In the early 1970s, before the term serial killer had even been coined, Dean Corll and his teenage accomplices kidnapped, tortured, and killed at least 28 boys from the same Houston neighborhood. Horrific and fascinating.

The Lost Boys (12k) by Skip Hollandsworth

February 10, 2013

The Innocent Man

Pamala Colloff for Texas Monthly writes a stunning, novella-length investigative piece describing the death of Christine Morton and the botched investigation that would find her husband guilty of murder. The Innocent Man is simply one of the most gripping stories I’ve ever read.

The Innocent Man Part 1 (13k) by Pamela Colloff
The Innocent Man Part 2 (15k) by Pamela Colloff

January 7, 2013

In Defense of a Country Music Tune

Now that I live well outside the city, I get quite a bit of exposure to country music. It’s often playing on the jukebox at the local bar, and the Pizza Ranch one town over pipes in K102 all day. All told, I listen to around 3-4 hours of country music a week.

The bulk of today’s country music is insultingly shallow, a constant pandering twang of cliché after cliché. And while Nashville’s songwriters and session musicians are some of the most talented the world has to offer, the vast majority of their output remains comically trite.

Enter Kacey Musgraves’ Merry Go ‘Round. It’s a simple arrangement, thoughtfully sad, and filled with meaningful wordplay. There’s not hint of the faux twang so often employed to ‘country-up’ a lyric. It’s just pure Americana folk that reminds me of Mindy Smith’s early hit, Come to Jesus.

Great song Mrs. Musgraves and congratulations to you and your producer(s) for resisting the urge to drown this one in a heavy Nashville syrup. Songs and arrangements like this will make my visits to the local bar a lot more enjoyable.

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September 26, 2012

Things Meatloaf Would and Would Not Do for His Lover According to the Song “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Wont Do That)” (1)

Meatloaf Would:

1. Help her move
2. Perform magic
3. Give her items to take home
4. Build her a sand castle
5. Hose her down were she to get too hot


Coming from someone who’s recently moved I can confirm this first promise is worth at least $600 USD, depending on distance traveled and the degree to which he’s insured and or licensed/bonded.  Magic, on the other hand, gets him nowhere and if she’s not into it could easily backfire. Items: these can go either way, but generally speaking, women like stuff so I’m going to say this is a net positive. Sand castles are good and imply beach access. Hosing her down if/when she gets too hot has a wide range of applications. Meatloaf really needs to exercise restraint here as an unwanted sex act could tip the balance against him.

Meatloaf Would Not:

1. Forgive himself if they didn’t have intercourse immediately
2. Concede that it may be time to move on
3. Do a better job making love to someone else
4. Make love to another individual for a longer period of time than he does with her


So it turns out that what Meatloaf promises NOT to do implies a steady stream of future lovemaking and self-delusion. Although these promises seem to come from a place of genuine concern, they’re deeply selfish. For this reason, it’s my recommendation that Meatloaf focus on what he would do, as opposed to what he wouldn’t.

(1) This is an edited and expanded version of a rejected McSweeney’s submission from the summer of 2006. I have clearly failed in my attempt to write more often.

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September 23, 2012

Horseman, Pass By

A magnificent piece of writing and winner of a national magazine award, Horseman, Pass By recounts the glory of Secretariat’s 1973 season and the heartbreaking recent history of the Triple Crown.

I was at the Belmont Stakes in 2004 when Smarty Jones had a chance at the Triple Crown. His second place finish resulted in collective heartache from bettors and casual fans alike.

Horseman, Pass By (~10k) by John Jeremiah Sullivan (PDF) (1)

(1) Looks to be a rogue reprint.

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