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thomas' blog

Williamís homework this weekend is my homework. I have to write a short explanation of why I "choose" (the teacherís grammar, not mine) the name of my child. The teacher will read it to the class in the unit, "All About Me."

Hereís what I wrote:

At the risk of sounding like another nutty Gullett parent, names hold a certain power for me. As such, Iím wary of writing too simply or covering up the naming of my sons for the purpose of an assignment. As a writer, I wrestle over words and sometimes struggle with the simplest questions. But I also feel like itís an important question. Why did you name your kids in this way? Too often I find myself giving a glib response or covering up the true reasons to make it easier on the person who asked. So hereís a compromise. Iíll write up two different responses, a long version and a short version. You can skip the first one and read the second one if it would make the lesson go easier. Chalk it up to vanity if you must. I believe these boys worthy of their names.

Long version:
We named our firstborn son Thomas Walker Magnuson after the Southern/Catholic writer, Walker Percy and the disciple Thomas. Percy is my favorite writer. He won the National Book Award in 1962 for his novel, The Moviegoer. Thomas, of course, was the doubting disciple, who was loathe to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, but who also uttered one of the simplest avowals of belief recorded in the Bible, ďMy Lord, My God,Ē upon seeing Jesusí pierced hands. He also had the sort of crisis of faith and reaffirmation that I think is central to the human struggle and to Percyís writing. I wanted to mention Thomasí naming because when William came along, we wanted there to be a connection of sorts between the two names. William Alexander Percy was Walker Percyís older cousin. He was a grand old Southern man of letters, who hung out with the likes of Langston Hughes and William Faulkner. He wrote a famous book of poetry called Lanterns on the Levee. He also adopted young Walker when his mother died in a car accident (likely a suicide much like his fatherís death, years earlier). He was a generous man who was ahead of his time on the issues of segregation and race relations, and who influenced Walker greatly. But he also became a recluse after both his parents died and gave up writing altogether to focus on his fatherís land and law practice. I think these two names evoke a triadic bond, spiritual, familial and literary, which form the cement of most everything I hold dear. I also liked the idea of inverting the order and giving the younger son a seeming responsibility over the older son. Finally, itís just a great story. A tired old literary wastrel, nearly retreated completely from society, holed up in his castle, snapping out of it enough to save his young cousin from a life of despair and inspiring him towards belief and greatness. God, family and art. Thereís not much else, is there?

Short classroom version:
We named William after a famous writer, William Alexander Percy. He wrote poetry and helped people. He was most famous for a collection of poems called Lanterns on the Levee. He was also the older cousin of Walker Percy, another famous writer, whose first name is our older sonís middle name.

- 8/26/2006 8:08:38 AM | link

Zeus and Hera

Two slightly unrelated items:

Whatever happened to Crystal Gayle? Or rather, why was it that Jack White re-discovered her sister (Loretta Lynn) and not her? Is she due for a revival of sorts or is she consigned to Barbara Mandrell-land? Iím endlessly fascinated by people who have completely dropped off the map and, yet, who must have found a way through or past their crazy fame (Gayle had 18 number one hits...try to name someone like that today). And furthermore, why doesnít anyone ever tell you or your kids that fame is actually something to be studiously avoided? That, at best, you can try to forget it or milk it for a small fortune in benefit concerts? Can you think of one happy famous person? Besides Willie Nelson?

Why doesnít anyone ever mention One From the Heart? Was it that bad? This is the film that Coppola made right after Apocolypse Now and, much like Heavenís Gate, it completely flopped and bankrupted him and almost sank a studio. (Gayle sang a duet with Tom Waits on the soundtrack and Waits won an Oscar for the soundtrack). Has anyone ever seen it? I donít mean to say you never hear of it, but you never hear of it. Is there a conspiracy to bury this film?

- 8/24/2006 10:32:01 PM | link

Economic cluelessness

"And that is perhaps a useful item with which to conclude our summary: the US economy is astonishingly, unimaginably large, about $13 trillion (6-7x that of China for example). The US budget deficit is smallish, around $260 billion (or around 2% of GDP). And, stories to the contrary, expenditures on the military are miniscule by historical standards, at 4% or so of GDP."

I’m not picking a fight, but this is one interesting thing to note. Whenever you read a news article discussing the deficit, try to circle the sentence where they mention GDP.

- 8/21/2006 9:55:53 PM | link


Ray LaMontagne has a new album coming out. I’m going to go way out on a limb and say he’s the best living singer, period. If anybody mentions Morrissey in the comments, game over. That’ll be like mentioning Hitler in an argument. I don’t care what you say, you’re no longer qualified if you bring Morrissey into it. It’s Josh’s Internet Rule #256. Ray LaMontage has a father who left him and how he has spoken with a total of one and one half minutes in 20 years. He also worked in a shoe factory for several years in Maine. If these things don’t qualify you, I don’t know what sorts of things do. Listen to the new single.

Via Mike D: Kids Eat Free. Places in Austin where kids can eat for free or cheap.

I left my sunglasses at David Bateman’s house. I want this to be the first page that comes up when you Google David Bateman and sunglasses. David Bateman. My sunglasses.

We’re going to Galveston this weekend so I can research my upcoming novel, Galveztown. It’s about a down on his luck suicide clinic worker who discovers a plot to harvest brains at the nearby medical center. It’s also about prison art, old-time barbershops, Cabeza De Vaca, chess-playing beach bums, a suicidal nurse, hurricanes, the BOI society, the sleeping judge (an WWII vet who flew in the bombing raid over Tokyo) and immigration law.

Left-handed, college-educated males earn more money than anyone else. As if this weren’t enough good news, it turns out that I also have the best job in America and am pursuing the 25th best job.

I bought a k-rad poster on eBay. I haven’t used eBay in nearly three years (honest). I thought they’d cancelled my account. You have to admit, that is one seriously amazing poster. LonAnne said I can’t put it anywhere in our house.

Work is kicking my ass. Work, you are winning this round, but I’m going to start up school soon and you’ll have to beat up on some other people for awhile. I’m not throwing in the towel. I’m just going to sucker punch you when you’re not looking.

They found a dead body in the park next to the school that my kids are supposed to go to (they don’t go there b/c we transferred them to Gullett). The park is two blocks away from our house. This and the possibility that they might build a Walgreen’s on the corner of Burnet and Koenig is the big news on the listserv.

School has started for the boys and starts next week for me.