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The Road to Marfa: Famous Road Trips.

Photo from Super 169.

Road trips have been a part of American history since they were possible – “Every American hungers to move,” wrote John Steinbeck. Whether it’s a trip mostly for the destination, or a trek just for the sake of it, road trips do something to the soul.

I have been very lucky in my life to take many road trips – some alone, some with great friends, and some with a meowing cat in the backseat (or hissing over my shoulder at the oncoming traffic).

I’m very familiar with the roads from Indiana to Louisiana, many routes through Florida, and have ridden in the car countless times through Kentucky and into every corner of Tennessee. I have reveled at otherwise boring sights – passing through Birmingham, Alabama (the only highlight of a 15 hour trip), the faded T-Rex in Tennessee alerting passersby of Dinosaur world, and the coming and going of familiar restaurants and pit stops that so quickly become comforts of the road.

One of my most memorable road trips was from Austin, Texas to Oklahoma City – it was nothing but tall rock, cattle fields, and pickup trucks barreling down dusty farm roads – I felt like I was living in a Nicholas Sparks’ novel, aside from the occasional casino that would pop up every twenty miles or so.

Because road trips are such a part of being American, they’re a part of our literature, and our culture. And I wanted to share some of those more well-known road trips here.

On the Road

“On the Road” by Jack Kerouac is a classic literature piece that really captures the spirit of the American road trip. Published in 1957, the most famous road trip in American literary history features two friends: Sal Paradise (really Kerouac) and Dean Moriarty criss-crossing the country during the 1940s, including a trip south of the border. According to a map of their travels, they likely would have driven right through Marfa!


In 2015, country artist Chris Stapleton released “Traveller”, an album he wrote after taking a soul-searching road trip. In 2013, Stapleton’s father died, and he’s told multiple news outlets that he needed to regroup. So, his wife bought a 1979 Jeep and they flew to Arizona and spent 10 days driving it back home. Stapleton has said that the album’s title track was inspired by seeing the sunrise over New Mexico.

National Lampoon’s Vacation

In 1983, we were introduced to the charming Griswold family when they pack up their station wagon and head across the country to the Walley World theme park and partake in many adventures. Today, this movie remains to be a classic, and an interesting reminder of what life on the road was like pre-smart phone.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

We were graced with “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by Hunter S. Thompson first as a 2-part series in “Rolling Stone” in 1971, and then it was released as a book in 1972. It became a movie in 1998. It is a story based on two road trips Thomson took to Las Vegas on journalism gigs. Aside from the road, there’s lots of drugs and hallucinations, and although it’s difficult to decipher the real from the imagination, it makes for a memorable tale.

Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion

While this 1997 hilarious film (it’s one of my favorites) doesn’t revolve around a road trip, it’s vital to the plot. Lifelong friends Romy and Michele decide to travel from Los Angeles to Tucson for their high school reunion where they plan on fooling their old classmates with a detailed story about their post-high school success, complete with fancy rental convertible and home-sewn outfits. Somewhere along the road, they concoct their story, and get in a pretty nasty fight. It’s funny, relatable, and their road trip puts them in a classic diner with memorable one-liners.

Paper Towns

In 2008, John Green graced us with “Paper Towns” in book form, which later became a movie (in 2015). Set in Orlando, Florida, “Paper Towns” is the story of Quentin Jacobsen — a less-than-popular high school senior, who has spent a majority of his life being obsessed with his next-door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman (the legend).

“Margo Roth Spiegelman, whose six-syllable name was often spoken in its entirety with a kind of quiet reverence. Margo Roth Spiegelman, whose stories of epic adventures would blow through school like a summer storm…”

Quentin has only admired her from afar, until she steps into his room one night in need of his help with a revenge mission. He’s as close to her as he’s ever been, but before his ultimate dreams come to fruition, she’s off on one of her adventures, leaving the town wondering where she went.

But just like before, she leaves clues behind. Quentin and his friends go in search of her clues, heading on a man hunt (in a soccer mom van) across the country to find their six-syllable, legendary classmate.


I mean how can I even consider leaving out Miss Britney Jean Spears and her on-screen debut in 2002?? I cannot. It was not a great movie, possibly not even a good one, but it involves three teenage girls taking a road trip across the country (in a convertible) in search of themselves. Aw.

And there you have it! What are some of your favorite books, movies, or even songs that reference life on the road? I’d love to hear them! Tomorrow, I’m talking what to pack, or at least, what I’ve got piled up ready to go…


BBC: ‘Let it Snow’.

After nearly two weeks off from work – I’ve officially survived the first four days back (it was not without struggle)! We’re here and I’ve got a really great book to share with you all: “Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances” by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle.

This book has been on my list for at least a year as part of my mission to read all things John Green, and ta-da! Just like that, I have.

“Let it Snow” is a compilation of three short stories (each about 100 pages or so) that are all slightly connected. The connection? A massive blizzard! Here’s the official description from

A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

Now, I definitely wanted to read this book before the holidays, but such is life, and I read it this week instead. But hello, Bomb Cyclone or whatever the heck it’s called – it’s timely without even planning for it! If you’re snowed in currently, go ahead and download this little gem today, because it’s got all the Waffle House references (i.e. scattered and smothered hash browns), holiday references (the collectible Christmas village), and the nostalgia of teenage, holiday romance. It’s really quite perfect.

Of course, I really enjoyed John Green’s story, but this book also introduced me to two authors I hadn’t heard of.

Maureen Johnson has written a ton of books, including three series sets: The Shades of London Series, The Scarlett Series, and The Blue Envelope Series. She’s also written several stand-alone books such as “Girl at Sea” and “Devilish“, among many others. I am adding some of these to my library list!

Lauren Myracle has also written a good array of books, including some for middle school readers and some young adult novels. She’s written “The Infinite Moment of Us” and “Kissing Kate“, and has also authored a four-book series completely made of text messages!

The next book Blanche’s Book Club is “Career of Evil” by Robert Galbraith – sure to be a goodie if you’re reading the Cormoran Strike series!

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend – stay warm if you’re in the path of the bomb cyclone thing… I am not, but i may as well be, because I’m not planning on leaving the house. I’ve got waaayyy too much TV to catch up on and my bed is just too comfortable. See you next week!

BBC: ‘All the Bright Places’.

Oh my God… was this week the longest week for anyone else besides me? I felt like every morning I woke up I said, “Ugh, it’s only Tuesday?” or “Ugh, it’s only Wednesday?”, and so forth. But alas, Friday is here, and I’m trying to psych myself up to spend my Saturday looking for and probably buying a car – you can get the entire scoop by reading the Great Jeep Debacle of 2016. I’ll let you know how this turns out…

In the meantime though, let’s talk about the lastest read for Blanche’s Book Club: “All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven, because I’ve got lots to say about it.

For starters, I heard about this book on one of the podcasts I listen to regularly, “What Should I Read Next?” When the host of the podcast proposed someone read this book, she didn’t give much details, and she said when she read it, she didn’t even read the description – she just opened up the book and started reading it. That was her recommendation on how to read it, as well. So, that’s what I did. Now, I’ll go ahead and paste the description here, but if you don’t want to read it, skip down! Here it is:

*    *   *

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death. Every day he thinks of ways he might kill himself, but every day he also searches for—and manages to find—something to keep him here, and alive, and awake.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her small Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school—six stories above the ground— it’s unclear who saves whom. Soon it’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. . . .

*   *   *

Now, I obviously do NOT want to give anything away here, so I’ll end the direct conversation about this book by saying that yes, it was very good. It was well-written, it was detailed and visual, it was sweet and made me miss dating in high school, and I enjoyed reading it. Would I recommend it? Yes.

But… I noticed a lot of similarities between this book and those of John Green’s books.

And it’s not like, oh they have similar writing styles, it was so much so that it sort of made me uncomfortable. Here’s what I noticed, aside from the fact that it was a YA novel regarding two teenagers in love:

So, my first question was… when was this book written, in comparison to John Green’s books? So I did some research, and found that The New York Times made a brief comparison:

Still, it seems inevitable that “All the Bright Places” will be compared to Rainbow Rowell’s “Eleanor & Park” and John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars,” and deservedly so, at least in the case of its central characters.

Then, I saw a reader review on Barnes & Noble’s website, which compared the book to “Looking for Alaska”, also written by John Green:

Definitely one of the more intense YA books I’ve ever written. If you enjoyed Eleanor and Park or Looking For Alaska, you will enjoy this book, although it stands on its own and is only really comparable  in its intensity.

I also found a GoodReads thread in which the participants were wondering if they should even read it, given its close comparison to “Paper Towns” and “The Fault in Our Stars” – I don’t want to give it away, but if you’re interested you can read the entire thread here.

And finally, I found a list created by Bustle, that recommends books to read if you like John Green – and “All the Bright Places” is definitely on it.

However, there didn’t appear to be anyone out there thinking Niven basically took Green’s Intellectual Property, which is what I feel like. I mean, maybe all YA novels are just similar to each other and I happened to read Green’s first… but, I’m going to need further proof that Niven is original. Just saying!

The next book the BBC will be reading is “Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari! So excited for this one! You should read it with us, and by us, I mean me and my cat Blanche. Discuss it with us via the comments on this blog, or by social media @OrangeJulius7.

Have a fantastic weekend everyone!

Movies: Paper Towns.

Cara and Nat of 'Paper Towns'

Cara and Nat of ‘Paper Towns’

Whoop! It’s 11:37pm on Thursday, July 23, and I’ve just gotten home from the PREMIER of “Paper Towns” — the movie based on the bestselling book by fellow Hoosier, John Green (Yep, I read it).

Y’all don’t understand. I’ve been looking forward to this movie since the day I put down the book… which was like… more than a year ago. I even thought the movie came out JUNE 24, and I was frantically searching online for movie times, and when I didn’t see any local showtimes, I was totally prepped to plan a damn road trip to see a movie… ABOUT A ROAD TRIP.

Anyway, so, yeah, I just saw the movie and I’m still kind of spinning with all of these thoughts on it. Was it good? Yes. I won’t give any spoilers, but I’ll say right now, that the book was better. If you’ve read the book, like my friend Derek, we agreed, the book is much more introspective and that’s really hard to display on the big screen.

However… I’m going to say this, and coming from me, it will probably come as no surprise. This movie took me back. I don’t know what everyone’s experience was in high school. But I know what mine was, and I know that the few friends I had, we had some fantastic adventures when we least expected it. And I know that all we wanted was to be recognized by the cool group in school — and there were times when we were noticed; we actually dated people in THE cool group.

And I’ll tell you it was always a disappointment. There were nights I spent in the homes of kids I never thought even knew my name. And they did the same things my friends and I did — and that fact was a little validating.

And, that’s kind of the point of “Paper Towns.” We have a tendency to build up people or things we know nothing about (story of my life), and in return, we feel like less than. But perhaps, in discovering that truth, we learn a little something about ourselves.

I’m not sure where you’re at in your life. But if you’re at any variable close to me — a person who’s been looking at maps, calculating mileage, and applying to jobs nationwide — this was the exact movie I needed to see this weekend. I highly recommend it.

“It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.”

—Paper Towns by John Green

Looking for Alaska.

Quote from Looking for Alaska by John Green.

Quote from Looking for Alaska by John Green.

I’m sad and happy (all at once) to announce that I’ve got NO more John Green books to read! I saved Looking for Alaska for last, because while I was excited to read it, I was also sad knowing that I’d have no more books of Green’s to read!

Looking for Alaska was Green’s first book, and has won many awards including the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award. It was listed in the Top 10 Best Book for Young Adults in 2006, and the 2006 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, among several others.

CANNOT wait.

CANNOT wait.

Looking for Alaska is the story of Miles Halter. Miles is a man of few words, though he is obsessed with last words — having memorized the last words of many well-known people. He’s going to boarding school for the first time and meets the COOLEST girl… ever. Alaska Young.

I really don’t want to spoil this book if you haven’t read it. And if you haven’t read it, you MUST read this book!

Now that I’ve read all of Green’s books, I can say there are many similarities (I often get Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska mixed up) in all of them — which might be why I love them all so much. While Looking for Alaska wasn’t my favorite, it connected with me in ways that others didn’t.

Like I said, I don’t want to give anything away, BUT this book has a layer of seriousness to it, but at the same time, a great layer of imagination that I appreciate. As always, I went crazy with my digital highlighter while reading the book, so here are some of my favorite quotes:

‘I go to seek a Great Perhaps.’ That’s why I’m going. So I don’t have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps.

That didn’t happen, of course. Things never happened like I imagined them.

And now is as good a time as any to say that she was beautiful.

You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.

You’ve got your oats. You’ve got your meal. You’ve got your cream. It’s a fuckin’ food pyramid.

I just did some calculations, and I’ve been able to determine that you’re full of shit.

I finally decided that people believed in an afterlife because they couldn’t bear not to.

There comes a time when we realize that our parents cannot save themselves or save us, that everyone who wades through time eventually gets dragged out to sea by the undertow—that, in short, we are all going.

I gritted my teeth, and then before us, broken glass glittered in the blare of the sun like the road was wearing jewelry, and that spot must be the spot.

And so… even though we’re ALL (ok, me) looking forward to Paper Towns hitting theatres this summer, Looking for Alaska will be in theatres NEXT summer!

While not much has been released about the film adaptation, I am so excited to see how they turn his first book into his third movie!

Anyone out there read Looking for Alaska? I’d be thrilled to nerd out about it with you!

Fresh Friday: The Key.

Baby face.

Baby face.

It’s Friday! This week has been a weird one, that’s for certain, but I’ll explain why on another day. Today, all that matters is, it’s Friday, it’s the official start of spring, I’m wearing a pair of mint jeans that I got from Goodwill for $6, and we’re only 10 days away from the Justin Bieber ROAST.

Who’s excited? This girl!

In preparation for the viewing of The Roast, I spritzed on a little bit of Justin Bieber’s The Key. Out of all of Bieber’s scents for women, this one is probably my favorite, as it’s got an heir of sophistication about it. Don’t mind if I do.

According to Fragrantica, “The third fragrance from pop singer Justin Bieber, The Key, coming out in July 2013, is allegedly more ‘mature’ compared to its predecessors Someday from 2011 and Girlfriend from 2012.

The official description of this perfume uses epithets such as energetic, sexy and refreshing, while the composition is announced as a luminous floral-fruity-musk. It opens with a splash of juicy fruit with a sheer bouquet blooming in the heart. Its creamy base combines sensual musk, exotic woods and vanilla tones.

Justin chose the key motif for this perfume because of its symbolism, trying to tell his fans to always believe in their dreams.”

I sense a little hostility from the writers at Fragrantica! Hissss…. Regardless, the Justin Bieber Roast premiers on Comedy Central, Monday, March 30.

In other news, yesterday was the premier of the PAPER TOWNS movie trailer! What? So excited. Based off John Green’s best-selling novel, Paper Towns is the story of a girl. A very mysterious girl. You should read the book. And then see the movie. Here’s the trailer:

Not really sure how I’m going to stand waiting until July 24 to see it, buuuut… yeah. Anyway, I hope you all have a fantastical weekend. I’m certainly looking forward to it. See you next week!


Paper Towns.

Great quote from Paper Towns by John Green.

Great quote from Paper Towns by John Green.

Shocker: another fantastic book by John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns is addicting. No, seriously, I read it in one day.

Set in Orlando, Florida, Paper Towns is the story of Quentin Jacobsen — a less-than-popular high school senior, who has spent a majority of his life being obsessed with his next-door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman (the legend).

“Margo Roth Spiegelman, whose six-syllable name was often spoken in its entirety with a kind of quiet reverence. Margo Roth Spiegelman, whose stories of epic adventures would blow through school like a summer storm…”

Quentin has only admired her from afar, until she steps into his room one night in need of his help with a revenge mission. He’s as close to her as he’s ever been, but before his ultimate dreams come to fruition, she’s off on one of her adventures, leaving the town wondering where she went.

But just like before, she leaves clues behind. Quentin and his friends go in search of her clues, heading on a man hunt across the country to find their six-syllable, legendary classmate.

Favorite Quotes from Paper Towns:

And in everything that came afterward, I could never stop thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one.

Chuck Parson did not participate in organized sports, because to do so would distract from the larger goal of his life: to one day be convicted of homicide. ‘Hey, faggots,’ he called.

She had the kind of fingers you want to interlace with your own.

We bring the fucking rain, Q. Not the scattered showers.

Here, at night, it looked like a real place — but for the first time, a place I could see.

…The pleasure was in seeing our strings cross and separate and then come back together.

RHAPAW ran not on gasoline, but on the inexhaustible fuel of human hope.

It is so hard to leave — until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.

It is easy to forget how full the world is of people, full to bursting, and each of them imaginable and consistently misimagined.

The book is set to be released as a movie on June 5th of this year (let the countdown begin!), starring Nat Wolff as Quentin, and Cara Delevingne as Margo.

The funny thing is, I ran across an FAQ on John Green’s website, where he said he didn’t think the book would ever become a movie: “The people who worked at the studio that optioned Paper Towns and paid me to write the screenplay were not particularly pleased with my first draft, and they really hated my revision. They felt the first draft was ‘literary,’ which is an insult in the world of filmmaking, I guess, and my attempts to address their concern watered down everything they’d initially liked about the script, and after that, I was pretty pissed off at the head of the studio and it’s safe to say that he was very pissed off at me.”

You just never know what’s going to happen!

Pic of the Week.

Yes, I snuck in my own salted caramel corn.

Yes, I snuck in my own salted caramel corn.

Yes! I saw The Fault in Our Stars this weekend!

After reading the book, and then seeing the previews, I was seriously counting down the days until the movie hit theatres. Although it’s out of character for me, I didn’t go to the midnight premiere, but I did see it on Sunday, and the theatre was full of fans.



I arrived at the theatre early, worried it might be sold out, packed my caramel corn, a book, and a pile of tissues. Before seeing the movie i’d heard both sides: one person told me the movie butchered the book, while another told me that the author, John Green, was present for all of the filming, and he was pleased with the film.

I wasn’t too worried — if the author liked the film, I figured I would, too.

Going into any film that’s adapted from a book is a little nerve-wracking. If you loved the book, there’s a big chance you won’t like the movie. After all, they can’t be exactly the same, right?

While some movies based on books I’ve seen have been really different, that doesn’t necessarily mean they were bad. Take for example Nicholas Sparks’ Safe Haven. The book is very different from the movie, yet I love both of them!

I won’t give away any spoilers, but I will say the movie is a tad different from the book when it comes to The Fault in Our Stars. However, it’s not different by much. And it’s a phenomenal movie.

What I loved about the book and the movie, is the story in general. It’s a love story that’s a testament to our time. We live in a world where people have cancer. And some of those people are young; and they face challenges that many of us have known, but only through others.

It’s eye-opening.

And, if you didn’t love Augustus Waters in the book, you’ll still fall in love with him on the big screen.

I can’t say enough just how great this movie is. When I left the theatre, I felt new. And that’s happened just a few other times in my life — once being after I saw Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

Anyway. TFIOS. See this movie. And then call me.

You have a choice in this world, I believe, about how to tell sad stories, and we made the funny choice.

—Hazel Grace, The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault In Our Stars.


My most recent read.

Monday night, I finished reading John Green’s, “The Fault In Our Stars.”

This is a book that’s been on my reading list for months, and I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket, so I jumped at the chance to buy it—splurging on the Collector’s Edition.

I stumbled across Green’s collection of books when I started reading things by Jonathan Tropper. I bought Green’s, “An Abundance of Katherines” and absolutely loved it! I knew I had to read “The Fault In Our Stars,” or TFIOS, as it’s now called, being a cult favorite.

Now, with the movie-version of TFIOS (coming to theatres June 6) on its way, I knew I needed to pick up the pace with my reading schedule.

But once I started reading this book, it took me about three days to get through it.

TFIOS is the story of Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters. They meet in a support group for those dealing with cancer. Hazel has, “Thyroid originally but with an impressive and long-settled satellite colony in my lungs,” cancer, while Augustus has a “Touch of osteosarcoma.”

Augustus and Hazel fall in love.

It is a unique love between two teenagers who have been through more in their years than most of us will probably ever see. But the uniqueness goes way beyond the disease. It’s in the books they read, the poems they recite to each other, the food they eat, the places they travel.

I won’t give anything away, because I think this is a book everyone should read. But, a pretty decent part of the book takes place overseas. Since Augustus and Hazel both have life-threatening illnesses, they were granted “Wishes” and they get to visit a place that is dear to…well, Hazel, but since Augustus loves Hazel, it becomes important to him, too.

This book has so many quirky things, not to mention the BULK of amazing quotes, it’s easy to understand why it’s become so popular.

So, if you have a chance to read this one, I highly recommend it—and, of course, I’ll be at the midnight premier. I may or may not be wearing a TFIOS sweatshirt.

You are so busy being you that you have no idea how unprecedented you are.

—Augustus Waters, The Fault In Our Stars