I have been reading like a…like a worm? A bookworm, anyway. I don’t think normal worms can see. They don’t have eyes.

There are a lot of good books in the world, obviously. I have always been a piecemeal reader. I had to consume so much information to get my history degree that it was all in chapters and paragraphs, not whole works of literature. After college, I continued my general fear of reading a whole book and would simply pile up partially read tomes and forget them. I’m an awesome gleaner, so non-fiction and blogs and magazines are my word sources of choice.

Lately, though, I have been reading complete works in short periods of time. So this is how most people do it! I think part of it has to do with owning an eReader…it’s fun to have the itch to read something and have it accessible.

I did knock out a couple in audio format over Christmas because Dan gave me an Audible gift certificate and I have two long drives to get to and from New Mexico. I don’t know if audio books are cheating but I’m going to count them.

The good stuff:

Bossypants – Tina Fey (audiobook)
I tried to read this earlier this year and I got distracted and never finished it. Tina reads her own audiobook, and that makes all the difference. It’s hilarious and well-written and thoughtful. She is exhibit A in the world of successful, funny writers and comedians who had pretty normal, stable upbringings. That whole “suffering makes you funny” cliche’ is not always true, thank goodness.

Mindy Kaling's Book

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? – Mindy Kaling
Mindy is known for her work on The Office…another writer and comedian (comedienne freaks me out as a spelling word) with a memoir about a fairly normal childhood and some great insights into writing and acting. There is a theme in these books of normal people being successful and as a fairly normal person, I like it. If only Amy Poehler would write a book, I would be so happy. Come on Amy, 2012 is your year!

Unbearable Lightness – Portia de Rossi
I have been researching Portia since she is one of my three style icons, and I’m not sure what I expected out of this book. Not much, because…sorry to stereotype, but books written by celebrities who are not writers are oftentimes lame. Turns out Portia is an excellent writer with a really interesting story. A lot of the book is about her overcoming her eating disorders, but it’s also an interesting insight into becoming famous and dealing with celebrity. I never thought about it, but when you go from being relatively unknown to being on the hottest TV show in the nation, you aren’t inborn with the knowledge of how to be famous. She can also write a really excellent inner dialogue…my inner dialogue usually consists of, “Coffee. Where are my keys? What is the capital of Lithuania? Dolphin.” This book is way more sophisticated than that.

11/22/63 – Stephen King
The fiction entry in my list…I don’t think I have ever read a whole King book before since I avoid gore in real life and in fictional life. I am a Kennedy assassination conspiracy nut, though, so I had to read it. It’s excellent. Also now I am sure I am on some kind of government watch list.

There are a few more but I’ll save those for later. Reading is fundamental. I shall do it more in 2012. Send me recommendations or leave them in the comments!

The title of this post is a little movie reference. See what I did there?

Anyway, right before Christmas Tori Amos came to Austin and Susan and I declared the concert to be the First Annual ForTheRecords Christmas party. This might have been the only annual, unless Tori decides to be in Austin every December. I’m sure we’ll figure out something else for year two. I digress.

Tori Amos in Austin

I first saw Tori Amos in college (how many times has that sentence been said/typed by twenty-somethings across the nation?). I’ve followed her career since and got to see her a few years back at SXSW. She’s one of those classically trained geniuses that has been working on her art for so long that everything she does is good. Not everything draws me in immediately, but I always appreciate the creativity she embodies. Her new album, Night of Hunters, is based on a classical song cycle…it’s all woodwinds and strings and piano.

She is touring with a string quartet from Poland, and while I wasn’t sure how that was going to be at all, it was impressive. Then I realized that I shouldn’t have been surprised because as I said earlier…Tori has been doing this for a while and knows how to turn out some excellence.  The show was at Bass Hall on UT campus and has perhaps the best sound of any live show I have ever been to…the piano filled up the whole space and I didn’t even miss the bass and drums like I thought I would.

The show made me make a resolution (NOT a new year’s one…just a plain old resolution) to see more live shows of various genres…it’s good for the soul!

Over the years I have had several conversations with Dan about finding a style, a personal sense of fashion, a Thing, if you will. I think we all go through stages of Things…some folks stick with one and some change a lot. Some people don’t give it a thought and some obsess. However you do it, you do come out with your own identifiable and predictable markings, to put a biological bent on it.

Dan has shared with me some of his process, and described how he pinpointed a few folks out there in the world that he wanted to emulate for his personal style…choosing icons is a big help in narrowing down what you’re looking for. Theoretically you will be drawn to things that suit your personality, which is a big first step. There’s a lot of options out there. A LOT…and I have looked at a lot of them. I have quickly dismissed a ton of them. Figuring out which ones I like, however, took a while.

A lot of times I’ll admit to accidentally dressing how I do. My identifiable markings have been flip flops and ironic tee shirts for quite some time, and while I don’t plan to give those up completely, it’s been gnawing on me lately to figure something else out that suits the various situations I find myself in. I operate as a business professional, a tour manager, a singer-songwriter, a twenty-something, a nerd, and whatever else I can’t think of at the moment.

I do know I’m too lazy to switch looks in those different contexts. I’m not going to step into a phone booth after I play a set and switch to tour manager clothes. Nope. Whatever I’m working with has to fit all those contexts, which will ideally end up reflecting the core of who I am. This sounds heavy but it’s actually a lot of fun. I spent some time this weekend figuring it out.

First I gutted my closet of stuff I hadn’t worn in a long time and had no intention of wearing again. I also got rid of quite a few t-shirts. Some were a little too ironic. I kept quite a few, but one goal is to be more selective so that the t-shirt is a choice and not an obligation.

Then I found the holy grail for this particular project…Evernote. You can clip things like links and photos and save them in folders online to refer to later.  Brilliance.  I started by picking my Big Three…people whose style I love but isn’t too far out of my reach. I’m not here to copy, just adapt. This made it a little easier to be open to possibilities. My Three surprised me but I’m happy with them.

1. Kathleen Edwards. Folk-rocker extraordinaire. Canadian. Pretty simple. Wears t-shirts.  Scarves. Kicks butt and takes names.  Cool shoes. I’m in.

2. Terri Hendrix. I almost feel like I’m cheating because I know Terri personally, but she is always wearing something cool. Her accessories are always perfect. She always makes a statement at her shows via her fashion.

Terri Hendrix
Photo by Kingsnake!

3. Wild Card! I figured I had to go Hollywood with one of these, because the alternate route would be Politician and no one wants that. I was standing in line to check out at Target the other day and suddenly found my third…Portia de Rossi. I knew her from being on the hilarious and tragically short-lived Arrested Development and Better Off Ted series, and I knew her as a pretty glam red carpet walking star. The photo I saw in the tabloid was one of those creepy paparazzi on the street things, and the ensemble was simply cool…boots, hoodie, bracelet, everything looked pretty low key but worked.  Look at the one below…t-shirt…BLAZER!  Brilliant.  I don’t know if I can pull of that pointy of a shoe.

Anyway, this is a work in progress.  Mostly because I have bookmarked a ton of shoes on Zappos.com and can’t afford them yet.  I’m sure I’ll find some other things to draw from.  I noted almost everyone I dig wears a lot of scarves.  I may have to move to a colder climate to maximize my love of layering and desire to wear scarves.  Who knows.

The point?  Regardless of whether you’re in it for stage wear or business wear or you just want to know what to wear…this is a fun exercise.  It can lead you down some unexpected roads.

I guess the last point is, when seeking inspiration, you can look at the tabloid photos but don’t touch them or read them or buy them.

Dali Lama

Sometimes I want to post and can’t bring myself to write an opus or anything remotely coherent. I’m pulling a “make a list post” card because I can. Shout out to my list sistah Katie.

Gym Class Heroes‘ new album is fun to listen to and keeping my attention for multiple weeks. It’s rap, be forewarned, folkies.

– Booking 2012 up and plotting the best plans for multiple artists. This industry is changing fast, and aside from all the online/digital/yadda yadda, the actual “big deal” for touring indie artists in 2012 is the economy. Folks are hurting, and they have been hurting long enough that venues bottom lines are getting affected now. That means artists are affected. All this means the people need thoughtful music now more than ever. I have no doubt we’ll have a prosperous and fruitful 2012…I feel it.

– I’m trying to be a tea drinker. Too much coffee makes me not jittery, just…overly coffee’d. The wintery weather is helping.

– My Flip camera broke. I want to upgrade. Researching the exact right camera is freaking me out. I want to make more videos; I have visions of things for film!

– Big Rubicon project rolling out soon. More on that in the next post.

Well that was fun.  I enjoy Nashville a ton.  The people there are super polite and even though everyone is a songwriter, they are polite songwriters.

Hello Airplane
Our Backup Plan Plane

Getting to Nashville was a bit hard because even though we were at the airport about an hour and a half early, the security line was SO LONG and we had that movie-esque moment of trudging up to our gate and watching the plane back out.  Except Angelina Jolie wasn’t there and Tom Hanks wasn’t flying the plane, so it wasn’t very cinematic at all.  Southwest Airlines are champs, though – we were re-checked in and told to book it to gate 7 where they held the plane for some of us.  We weren’t the only ones…about 25 on our plane missed it and then there were seats on our new flight because about 30 of those folks were stuck in security.  Weird, Austin Airport…weird.  Anyway, instead of a 2 hour direct flight to Nashville, we went to Dallas and San Antonio and THEN Nashville.  But we made it and we had fun anyway.

Funny Airplane Photos
Those safety cards are hilarious.

On Tuesday night we went to a writer’s night at the Hotel Indigo.  In Nashville they have writer’s nights everywhere and as far as I can tell, they are like “open mics by invitation.”  It was fun, and I picked up a loaner guitar from our friend Virginia at Voyage Air Guitars because I don’t have one that will fold up on a plane and didn’t want to gate check my Martin for it to be crushed.  Yay Voyage Air!

Wednesday was Bluebird Cafe gig night.  This venue has seen EVERYONE.  The walls are plastered with hit songwriters and artists.  I found Mary Chapin Carpenter’s photo on the wall (one from the 80’s no less)  and felt better about my nerves for whatever reason.

Voyage Air Guitar
Lone Loaner Guitar.

The gig was fun – I was in a square (they call it a round but there are 4 people and that, dear friends, is a quadrilateral) with Susan, Dana Cooper, and Michael Hearne.  The crowd surrounds the circle-square, and I was looking directly at Susan the whole time.  It was fun and exciting and then again it was just like every other gig ever except you’re staring at your square-mates and there are people seated RIGHT BEHIND you staring at your back.  The Voyage Air worked like a champ and all too soon it was over.

Michael Hearne and Susan Gibson
Susan and Michael

I loved playing with those 3 giants of songwriting-dom…they all have very artistic bents to how they write.  Most of the folks we have seen at writer’s nights and whatnot are definitely writing commercial songs for a cut, which I am not doing.  There’s nothing wrong at all with either path or joining your paths as long as you’re aware of your intent for things (and oh do I love me some country radio sometimes).  I just liked playing my songs in a legendary venue for a night and I am SUPER GRATEFUL WITH HEARTS AND STARS to Susan for asking me to come along.

Country Music Hall of Fame

On Thursday I had an evening flight out so I walked down to the Country Music Hall of Fame in the morning and took in the Nudie suits and embellished cowboy boots on display.  The thing that interested me most was that you could see their archive area behind glass, and they had thousands of vinyl albums on motorized shelves.  THOUSANDS.  I cannot even give you a picture of how many albums I saw.  Also guitar cases – hundreds of instrument cases, most probably full because they didn’t come close to displaying them all.  Very cool and important work.

Read about Elvis' Caddy

Taylor Swift's Laptop
Taylor’s Macbook

Mary Chapin Carpenter Platinum
MCC Platinum

Highlights were Elvis’ Cadillac (complete with record player and TV in the backseat…hi-tech for 1960)…Chet Atkins’ guitar collection, and yes…they had Taylor Swift’s laptop on display which she used to edit her very first videos.  The walls are covered with gold and platinum records, and I thought there was no chance I’d find anything I’d be interested in.  Just then my eyeballs landed on MCC’s Stones In the Road.  I’m like a homing pigeon or something.

After some time spent at the airport trying to size up which blonde girls in Ugg boots were possible country singers with development deals, I am back in Austin.  It’s raining.  This is good.

I’m saving the laptop this blog was typed on just in case some Hall of Fame comes calling someday.