Tuesday, December 10, 2013

New Music Tuesday!

I'm calling it that for now because my new day off is Tuesday.  And I've decided that Tuesday will be the day I venture to the Library to collect the 15 or so cds I invariably have waiting for me.  And conveniently enough, the library happens to be oh so close to Sonic Boom Records.  Like new books, new music is released on Tuesdays.  Which means, should a favorite band put out a new album, New Music Tuesday would be a trip to the library, and to Sonic Boom.  Because, after all, I do still buy music...in cd form, if you can believe it.  I still don't buy anything from the iTunes or any other interwebs place, but I will lay down some hard earned cash at my local record store.  Also, my new vinyl obsession sort of leaves me no choice but to patronize Sonic Boom.  And why not?  They are amazing!  They order anything, and leave you alone to browse, and let you test out records, and they never judge a person for how much Killers' shit she buys. They are awesome.  Plus, they are local and independent, and treat their employees a hell of a lot better than Amazon ever will.  BRICKS AND MORTAR!

So, back to New Music Tuesday.  Here's some of the stuff I picked up from the library today and am loving:

Tame Impala- Lonerism
Psychedelic, trance-y, cool.  Feels Like We Only Go Backwards is perfect.

Daft Punk- Random Access Memories
Yeah, I'm late to the party.  You can't be surprised.  I like this more than I thought I would.  Especially Instant Crush with Julian Casablancas.  That track, I LOVE.

Palma Violets- 180
My favorite of the bunch.  This one's gonna be on repeat for awhile.  It's really good.  Really, really good.  You've heard Best of Friends but everything on this album is fantastic.  14 is a favorite.  But then, the "slow," earnest songs usually are.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Have you guys heard of this cat... Bob Dylan? I think he's going places.

I'm on a musical odyssey.  Some of you have witnessed this.  Why it's happening now, I don't know.  I'm sure it has a bit to do with my unholy and ridiculous obsession with The Killers, and a lot to do with feeling unmoored and lost, but mainly it's because I've never really done this before...and it's fun.

It's exciting.

Invigorating.

I've never ever listened to so much music in my entire life.  I spend as much time listening to music as I do reading (and you know how I love to read).  I shudder to think of  the hours spent staring at my ceiling and just listening.  I listen to music like it's my job.  Often, I find myself with a wrinkled nose and a cringe when listening to new stuff that isn't quite up my alley, but it's always captivating.  And it makes me feel alive.  Every new artist I find, or music blog I stumble upon seems to open up new doors.  Sure, I've been into music and bands before, but I've never had the freedom to meander and explore like this.  Thanks to resources like the library, and Spotify, and the interwebs in general; it's all right there.  At my fingertips.  At your fingertips.  It's there, waiting for me and for you.  All we have to do is listen.

What sparked this earnest and sappy post is this...


Now, as a non-troubled, trying-to-be-interesting-teenager, I got into Bob Dylan (full disclosure, because I was into Jakob Dylan(his son)'s band, The Wallflowers).  But then, past all that puffing and posing, I really did love Bob Dylan.  I collected his greatest hits and most important albums, I read his poetry, went to two shows.  And then I forgot all about him and all about music.  But now it seems, I'm back.

Recently. I've been working off this list:
http://www.nme.com/photos/25-21st-century-albums-nme-has-given-10-10/325963/1/1
I love NME.  I started to love them because they are British and they love The Killers (the way that American media doesn't), but now I love them because they are fantastic and funny, they love Arctic Monkeys, and they really seem to know what they're talking about.

SO...tonight, I'm listening to this Bob Dylan concert from 1964 that NME gave 10/10 stars.  And I am moved.  If you hate his voice and if that matters to you, you should ignore all of this.  But if his voice doesn't bother you; or if, even better, his voice stirs something within you...this recording is stunning.

Stunning.

I haven't really paid much attention to my Bob Dylan feelings in the last ten years; but, HOLY SHIT.  Tonight, listening to this...I regret every minute spent not thinking about Bob Dylan and his beauty and his relevance.  Listen to this recording.  He's funny and charming.  He's unleashing some of his most powerful work.  These are songs that are going to define him and define a generation of music, activism, and art.  He sings alone, sings with the audience.  He sings with Joan Baez; and together, they are phenomenal.  He's 23 years-old.  And he will blow your mind.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dear The Killers, You're stupid.

So, I watched your stupid music video.  It's so stupid.

Like I wanted to see an amazing and beautiful video recapping all your other amazing and beautiful videos.  With a super gorgeous, lady actress (apparently from the Glee show) pretending to be Brandon Flowers...that's so stupid and not hot at all.

And then you packed it full of references of shit that only Victims (superfans) would get.

Stupid.

And, seriously...giving me way more Ronnie, Mark, and DAVE...just like I asked you to?

I hate you.

Can't you do anything right?

I'm SO glad you're going on hiatus.  I honestly can't take any more of your crap.  Why don't you take this time to think about how you could possibly be a little more awesome.



Also, stop tweeting shit like this.  If you could not dedicate your stupidly amazing and beautiful video to your most ardent supporters...that would be great.


Jerks.

Monday, November 25, 2013

New Killers' Music Video!

Don't worry.

I'll watch it.

517 times.

And I'll let you know how it is.

Which, let's face it...it's probably awesome.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt: A review in Two parts

Part Two: The Review
Part One is here.

I read Donna Tartt's The Secret History a few years ago and loved it. It's a favorite.  So I was super excited to hear that she was finally publishing something new.  The Goldfinch.  As soon as we got the advance at the store a coworker snatched it up, but she stopped reading about 200 pages in. Her early thoughts had me thinking that maybe I wouldn't even bother with it.  But then all the reviews and press started coming out; and it was good press.  Glowing.  It was difficult to find a review that was less than worshiping.  So I gave it a shot.

Quick synopsis if you haven't read any of the reviews.  This is the story of Theo Decker.  He's just a kid when his mother is killed in a horrifying accident he miraculously survives.  The novel follows Theo as he grows up, weighed down by grief and anger and guilt and loneliness.  That sounds bleak, I know.  I cried multiple times reading this book...at least three instances of pretty serious sobbing.  But there's also suspense, action, danger. And there's joy, and humor, and friendship; and all of that propels you through the hard stuff.  It's life.  And it's pretty stunning.  Oh, and there's also a painting.

I don't want to say too much, because suspense and mystery do play a pretty important role, so, I will just lay out a few of my favorite things.

This book is huge.  It clocks in at almost 800 pages.  Bit of a monster, really.  So I was grateful that Tartt doesn't keep us nailed down in one spot the entire time.  And the portion of the novel that takes place in Las Vegas is....it's...I don't know what it is, but it had this weird and profound effect on me.  It's not as if I have any love for Las Vegas.  I don't even like Vegas beyond the fact that when I was there a few weeks ago, it was unbelievably sunny, and The Killers are from there (seriously The Killers?!? every fucking post...get out of my life!).  I think the power of the Vegas bit of Goldfinch is a combination of the introduction of my favorite character and a key shift in the narrative; but mostly, a heavy dose of southwest nostalgia.

Ultimately, it's more of that yearning for the desert that a talented writer and a well written story does to me.  And sometimes it's like Tartt is spying on my childhood when she describes the sprawling wasteland of desert, tract housing; or the languid, muffled, and murky laziness of  a heavy curtain drawn against the relentless heat of the desert sun.  How does she do that!??!  Her author bio makes no mention of any residence in the Southwest.  In fact, she seems decidedly east coast (and the portions set in New York make that abundantly clear).  So how on earth does she manage the gritty, dried out, electric charge of a desperate and scrabbling desert upbringing?  How?

Next, let's talk characters.  Before I even got to my favorite character, I was already sold on Theo, which is unusual, as I don't typically like children as narrators. But Theo is wonderful.  Really, all the characters are so perfectly rendered it's remarkable.  They're all real.  Real people that you know right now, that could be sitting in the room with you this very moment.

And it seems the characters can't possibly get any better but then...Boris.  Please understand, I know I tend toward the hyperbolic (*sheepish grin*), but I make not the slightest hesitation when I say that BorisBoris is absolutely my favorite character, of any book.  Ever.  Stephen King wrote an exceptional review of The Goldfinch for the New York Times, and I will steal his words to tell you about Boris:
...Tartt’s take on the Artful Dodger and this novel’s most brilliantly drawn character. Boris may be a little too na├»ve about America for such a wise child...but his jittery good humor, boundless energy and flash charm are impossible for Theo — and us — to resist.
Boris is...he's just...I...  Many, many times, this novel destroys my ability to form cohesive sentences. Explaining how much I love Boris is the primary reason for that speechlessness.  What I can say, is that he offers an unexpected, outrageous, charming, and sweetly earnest, wise-beyond-his-years, perspective for all the shit going on in this book and in Theo's life.  He's the friend you wish you'd had...well, most of the time.  Truly, he's perfect.

This review is getting overly long.  So, here's one last favorite thing.  In the end, this novel is about a young man dealing with the shocking death of his mother and the trauma, guilt, and unimaginable loneliness that entails.  But Donna Tartt's delicate mastery keeps this from being the tear-stained, depressive tome it could have been, and moves it into the realm of something redemptive, epic, courageous, and sparkling.

All through the book, there is the subtle, ever-present absence of Theo's mother.  But it's never, ever oppressive.  Sometimes you even forget why Theo's life has so decidedly crumbled around him.  I have no experience with this kind of tragedy, but I imagine that eventually it becomes a sort of constant, dull, pulsing, pain that can be ignored for awhile...until it simply can't.  And that's what Tartt is able to convey.  She isn't constantly reminding you that this kid is a sad, lost orphan.  But every once in awhile, the truth of Theo's loss leaps out of nowhere, surprising the reader and Theo himself.  Tartt delivers a sucker punch of grief and loneliness that takes your breath away and reminds you of what's truly at stake.

So I guess those are a few of my favorite things; Las Vegas, Boris, and soul-shuddering emotion.

In his review, Stephen King compares The Goldfinch to a no-hitter in baseball.
a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind. I read it with that mixture of terror and excitement I feel watching a pitcher carry a no-hitter into the late innings. You keep waiting for the wheels to fall off, but in the case of “The Goldfinch,” they never do.
I will say, I disagree here.  As much as I love this book, I am not entirely blind to some of its faults.  It is, after all, 800 pages.  And towards the end, it becomes clear that maybe it doesn't need to be quite so long.  King says that the wheels never fall off.  I think they do, but I also find I don't care.  Because as this wheel-less, Mack Truck of a novel careens toward its outlandish, wild, and treacherous end, there isn't any other author, or any other characters I would rather be hurled off of a cliff with.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Heart Divided

I just clicked on a YouTube video of Tom Hiddleston...you know, because he's perf.  And the advertisement before the clip was for The Killers "Direct Hits" album.

It's like Brandon Flowers knew.  He knew I was being unfaithful, and he conjured his beautiful spirit out of the internet ether to remind me where my heart truly lies.  (And before you ruin my fun and tell me all about the magic of ad placement or whatever, I just want you to know that this is the first Killers ad I have ever seen in all of my rather extensive YouTube-ing.)

Also, I'm pretty sure my ovaries are on fire and my uterus just exploded from all of that unexpected and frankly, inhuman hotness.  Might need to follow up with my physician...but yeah, pretty sure.



Friday, November 8, 2013

How adorable was Brandon Flowers this week?

I'm glad you asked...

Here he is being adorable on some sort of mass transit.

***

This is him being an adorable groupie, talking about the new Morrissey Autobiography given to him by an interviewer (it's currently only available in the UK...come on Penguin!) :
“It's gotta be pretty good, huh?” he says distractedly as he paws through Morrissey's Autobiography. “So it's from his mouth… must have been working on it for a long time… shit,” says the 32-year-old with something like awe. “It's big. Damn. It's cool… Trying to see if there's any pictures I've never seen… His mom was pretty…”
I knew he was a fan, I just didn't know he was such a teenage girl about it.  He talks about Morrissey the way I talk about him. "Trying to see if there's any pictures I've never seen."  I've never felt closer to him.

***
Brando. Adorable. At the Maida Vale BBC studios.

***
B-Flow being adorable with Ronnie during the Zane Lowe BBC Radio 1 interview:

Ronnie: says something mean to Zane.
Zane: Come on now, there's no need...come on, Beardy.
Brandon: *out-of-control giggling*  BEARDY!  *more giggling*


***

Here he is being adora-...actually, no.  This isn't adorable. This is him being ridiculously, super hot. Like, criminally hot. Someone arrest him. Now.


And while we're at it...here is his ass being super hot.  Can I get an APB on that ass?


***
Ok, let's be serious for a second, while this post, and most everything I say about Brandon Flowers (and The Killers) centers on how adorable/attractive/super hot he is (they are), I would like to clarify that though he is (they are) super hot, it really is about the songs and the music and the band. Honest. Their hotness level is just a seriously, awesome bonus.

As proof, I offer these photos:


I was a fan in the very beginning...when he looked like this. Ugh.

Not a super fan, mind you, just a normal-person fan. I had a copy of Hot Fuss. Actually, it was a burned copy courtesy of my brother. I still have that burned cd....though I did finally buy a legit copy this year. B-Flow's wearing more makeup in that second photo than all the make-up I have ever worn in my entire life. See, it really isn't just about his super-hotness.

***
Ok, last adorable thing, and then I'm done: 

I remember hearing Read My Mind for the first time on the radio in 2007, back in Tucson. It was late on a week night, and my friend and I were driving home from a run around Reid Park. When the song was over, I told her we were stopping at Zia Records (this totally awesome record store that was always open until midnight). I needed that song, and I needed it immediately. It's the song that made them my favorite band. It's still my favorite Killers song, and will probably always be for that reason. Here is what Brandon Flowers said about it this week while reviewing their upcoming best of record:
"I love Read My Mind...When we play it live, you can tell it means a lot to people, and that's definitely one of the songs that attracts people to the band."
It's like he can...read my mind! BAHAHAHAHHAAAAAHA!

Anyway, here's a link to the new acoustic version of Read My Mind.  I don't know how to embed it in the blog, but please, go listen. It's beautiful. On the other hand, if you don't want the Titanic-sized obsession I have, maybe you should avoid it. But, if you have a slightly less addictive personality- it is REALLY nice.

***

OH WAIT! One more thing. Seriously, this is it.
Here he is being adorable and only slightly freaked out by fans asking him for hugs...

I'm really glad I just shook his hand and didn't try to hug him. 
Good decision making on my part. Wise choice. 
Yeah, totally happy I didn't ask for a hug...
NO I'M NOT!!!!!! WHY DIDN'T I ASK FOR A HUG?!? 
He clearly gives them freely!
Biggest mistake of my life.
Alright, new life goal: hug that adorable mother f*cker.
I don't care how much it freaks him out.
I don't.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

On favorite Books & FAVORITE Books: A review of The Goldfinch in two parts


Part One

I have favorite books, and then I have FAVORITE books.  A lot of my favorite books represent different genres, and types of books.  Sometimes they're a series, where it's not simply one book, but the entire collection that has made them favorites (Harry Potter, Ramona, The Moomins).  A lot of times my favorite books are favorites because I think they're beautifully written, or unique and interesting, or I just really like them.  Some of my favorite books include Little WomenTinkers, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, A Short History of Nearly Everything, Moby Dick, and more recently, Amor and Psycho.  I have a lot of favorite books.

But FAVORITE books...they are a different thing entirely.  These are books that I finish and clutch to my chest, unwilling to let go.  Books that are always well written, but with something more about them that simply stirs me.  Books that I hesitate to recommend to friends because I worry I will think less of those friends should they not feel the same way I do.  These are the books that induce the severest cases of PPD (Post Potter Depression- the feeling one gets after finishing the latest Harry Potter book, knowing that the next Harry Potter book is years away from being released, and realizing that no other book will ever make one happy again).

And these FAVORITES are the books that make me believe, just a little bit, in magic.

FAVORITE books are perfect and painful.  And the list is much shorter, and doesn't seem to fluctuate much.  The Shipping News, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and Stoner.  Those are my FAVORITES.  Today, I'm adding The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt to the list.


***

Allow me an anecdote to convey the depths of my feelings for this book.

On Monday, heading home from work, I checked Facebook and saw that The Killers had surprise "leaked" their new song.  It's not something I could hear on my phone with any real clarity, so I decided to wait until I was home to listen.  If you are at all unaware of my rather ardent feelings for The Killers, please, just peruse the Killers tag on this blog.  It's a serious, sometimes debilitating obsession.  Actually, maybe don't peruse the Killers tag, it's a bit embarrassing.

But on Monday, heading home from work, I also had just 60 pages left of The Goldfinch (an 800 page book that I tore through in the better part of a week).  Funnily enough, I had started reading it on my recent trip to see The Killers in concert.

SO, when I got home, I curled up in bed and I read.  I finished The Goldfinch.  And I cried.  And then I read the summary and blurbs on the back of the book, and the letter from the editor inside (I was reading an advance copy).  I read the author bio, and the author thanks section.  I went back and read some of my favorite passages and then I read the end again.  And it was 2 hours later until I even remembered there was a new Killers song to listen to.

This book erased The Killers from my mind. This book has powers. This book frightens me.

***

A bit more on the actual book to come.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Post Concert Depression

Everything is the worst. Nothing will ever be awesome again. Not even Halloween, my favorite holiday, can make me feel better. Seattle sucks. I want to be in Las Vegas! I need Las Vegas! I am Las Vegas! Ok...that may be overdoing it a bit. But just a little.

Let me clarify: I want to relive this last weekend forever. Forever.

This is what I want my life to be: constantly listening to awesome bands, and eating awesome food, and hanging out with awesome friends, and soaking up awesome sun underneath awesomely enormous, desert skies. The neon buzz, as background to all of it.

Oh, and I would like to relive meeting Brandon Flowers over and over and over and over and over again.

But I can't.

I'm back home in Seattle.With nothing to look forward to. It's turning to winter and rain and grey. I don't get to listen to live bands everyday. There's not nearly enough neon (that element really is poorly represented in the Emerald City). The Killers are going on hiatus for 3 years. And there is a serious shortage of Brandon Flowers here.

See?!?!!! Everything sucks.

But I console myself with a new found appreciation of Beck, and a rapidly increasing love of Vampire Weekend. These bands! This music! They break my heart and ruin my life. And I keep falling for it.

But what can I do? They make me feel better. But just a little.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Amor and Psycho

Once in awhile you come across an author who shifts your belief about what is possible; about what the written word can do and what a short ten page story can make you feel. Carolyn Cooke is one of those authors. And Amor and Psycho will blow your mind.

It's dark and sexy. A little violent, and surprisingly funny at some of the most inappropriate moments. Like life, I guess.

She isn't timid in her exploration of the shitty things we face everyday. Illness, poverty, misogyny, isolation; it's all in here. But minus the bleakness you would expect. Cooke's genius is her ability to connect you to characters and situations far afield from your own life and infuse your experience with compassion, solidarity, and humor. Add her acrobatic, razor sharp writing and BLAMO! mind blown.

I really, really, really loved this book. Can't wait to get my hands on some more of her awesomeness. And mad thanks to Cheryl for pointing me to this.

Monday, September 30, 2013

I Told You SO!

I'm a little surprised myself at how music focused these posts are becoming...how music focused my life is becoming. Anymore, I come home and the first thing I do is turn on the music. If I'm in the living room, it's the record player or the radio. If I'm in the bedroom or the kitchen, it's the laptop. Most nights, I fall asleep to my mp3 player (yeah I have an mp3 player...not an ipod or other ithing). I'm concerned that my ear phones are becoming permanently embedded in my ears.

The other day, I was walking to the bus stop, rather briskly as I was running late (natch). While walking, I was digging through my bag for my mp3 player, becoming more desperate by the moment because I couldn't find it, and imagining the interminable 30 minute bus ride that would ensue minus tunes. Luckily I had it, because I was ready to turn back, damn the lateness! Today, I was having a shit day at work, and a coworker told me to put The Killers on. I told him I couldn't because my battery was almost dead and I needed it for the trip home. I simply can't stomach the thought of commuting without music.

Library cds...that creeper in the background
is my new George Strait record.
I'm not an aficionado by any means. I know what I like, and what sounds good to my ears. I don't think
about what's "cool" except to be annoyed by the fact that popular can't mean cool. Of course there are limits to that. Sometimes what is "pop"ular (a lot of the shit played on the radio) is really, just awful. Perhaps there needs to be some distinguishing between popular music, and "pop"ular music. Again, not that all pop music is bad. Some of it is damn catchy, and perfect for cleaning the house, or taking a run.

At any rate...I'm not an aficionado. I like what I like. I also feel like I'm doing a major amount of catch up. I've always liked music, but never really branched out as much as I have in the last few months. I'll hear one song by a group I've never heard before, put every single one of their albums on hold at the library, and then spend the next three evenings listening to all of it nonstop. The other day, I went to the library and had 15 cds waiting for me. It's a little embarrassing to walk out of the library with that many cds. I want to shout at everyone that I work at a bookstore and that's why I never check out books.

All of the above was just a precursor to point out to you that I am not the only one in LOVE with the new Arctic Monkeys album, some guy named Mike Williams over at NME agrees with me:
Arctic Monkeys’ fifth record is absolutely and unarguably the most incredible album of their career. It might also be the greatest record of the last decade. It’s not, however, the work of a band operating at their absolute peak – that’s yet to come. It’s the work of a band still growing, still fine-tuning, still learning and still experimenting; a band who will not look back on this record as a career high, but as the moment they stopped being defined by genre and instead became artists. Not a rock band, definitely not an indie band, but artists. Think Bowie, think The Beatles, think Stevie Wonder and think Bob Dylan. From this point on, Arctic Monkeys can do whatever they want, sound however they like, and always be Arctic Monkeys. But that’s all for another day, sometime in their stupidly bright future. For now, we should celebrate this record for what it is – 41 minutes and 57 seconds of near perfection.
Of note in that little blurb is that it's 41 minutes and 57 seconds of near perfection, and that it's only going to get better. Seriously. Go get this record. Now.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ninjacat

I wonder if Brody thinks he is a ninja considering the number of times he has "escaped death" at the hands of the vacuum cleaner?

Friday, September 27, 2013

New Music Love

Currently addicted to the new Arctic Monkeys album. It's been on constant repeat-- in my earphones, at home, at work-- for the last week. Shhh...don't tell that other band.

Here's the totally awesome, creeptastic, Pink Elephants On Parade-esque video for Do I Wanna Know?



It's fantastic...and not even the best song on the album. Not even the second best song!

The Killers: Update

In order to avoid all the endless Killers posts that seem to be happening, I'm consolidating them into one GIANT post. It's totally convenient because you can easily find all the super important news about the world's greatest band, or you can easily skip the entire post if you are (more than likely) not interested.
***
They released a new song earlier this month. Some of you may have heard me talking about it...endlessly. Or if you're a coworker, you might have heard the song itself. Over the store stereo system. About 67 times.

Here is the beautiful video for it, though only 25% as beautiful as it could have been since there is only one Killer in it. Someday I want to see a Killers video that stars only Dave. 

Of note: all the attractive young people, pretty Vegas lights, and some classic B.Flow moves you should probably check out and maybe learn. Best part of the video, (and song, for that matter) at 3:46.



I made a chart about how I feel about the song...


***
I mean, COME ON! How could you leave this beautiful bastard out of the video?!? You're telling me, that's not marketable?

***
Remember when I told you about Ronnie being super awesome? Well, here's Brando also being super awesome. 


***
Last weekend I pretty much lost my will to live when I learned that Mark wasn't with the rest of the band for the Asian leg of their tour...and they had a fill in/understudy/whatever you call the person that isn't Mark (his name is Jake...yeah, I know Fake Mark's name, so what? he tours with them anyway, so it's not really that stalker-y).

Some people said to me, "Well at least he's not your favorite."

Let me be clear, while it's obvious that I may have different kinds of love for the various Killers, I DO love them all. And if one of them leaves, they just won't be The Killers anymore. I mean, where would they be without Mark's sweet, sweet bass lines?! Tell me that!

Anyway, it seems Mark hasn't broken up with them...at least that's what they claim. I just hope he's better by October 27th.

***
ONE MONTH 'TIL VEGAS!!!!!

***
My new computer background.


I REGRET NOTHING!!!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

On Not Reading

Getting back into the "reading for pleasure" mode has proven more difficult than I would have imagined. For one thing, I'm just so damned tired of reading. I want to be outside, to move, to create. Reading seems so physically stagnating right now. And also, so much of what I've been picking up lately just hasn't done it for me. I've stopped reading so many books in the last few weeks, and that's pretty unusual for me. Do I blame the books, or my above noted lack of interest in sitting still?

Books I've stopped reading lately:

Both Flesh and Not  by David Foster Wallace. The first essay in this collection is unbelievable. It's the title essay, about Roger Federer, and it's beautiful. But that was about the only thing in this book that I found myself remotely interested in. A lot of these essays are very early/young DFW, and he hasn't quite come into the literary champion we all know. Also, as a young man, he was WAY too dismissive of female writers. That's about the simplest thing you have to do to get me to stop reading.

The Last Animal  by Abby Geni. So, this one was an advance that I asked for because the promotional material mentioned a story about an ostrich farm in the Arizona desert.  And I thought, "Hey! I know that ostrich farm!" So I tried it. I read the ostrich story. And then the next story. And gave up on the third (which is incidentally the story that got her published). It's just not good. I feel pretty shitty saying that about something that someone obviously poured their heart into, but I take comfort in the fact that no one will read this.

New York Diaries  edited by Teresa Carpenter. I actually quite like this one. I started it as part of my New York reading experience. It's a lot of fun, but one of those books that's just easy to put down. It consists of diary entries spread across the years of 1609-2009. The entries are arranged in a semi-chronological order, following the days of the year. So for any given day you could have entries from 1845, 1912, and 1976, and then the next day, an entry from 1778 and 1943. The diarists range from the ordinary to the well known, like Teddy Roosevelt and Simone de Beauvoir. And the subject matter is about everything; the city, ordinary life, artistic endeavors. It's pretty great. I will finish this one, but it will be one that I read at an intentionally leisurely pace.

Side note: the stunning and sudden change in the weather has put a decided dampening on my need to be outside, which means I've finished 3 books in the last week. Reviews to follow, I suppose...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tattoos and Books

Forget a review in the New York Times, apparently the latest in book promotion is the temporary tattoo.

The top one is for The Hobbit, and the bottom for Carl Hiaasen's Bad Monkey. There have been a lot of other temporary tattoos making their way through the bookstore, mostly for young adult stuff, but clearly the trend has encroached into adult books as well.

***

I have to say, a busy day at the bookstore, highlighted by sweltering heat, impromptu construction, lovely customers, and even lovelier coworkers (not to mention the temporary tattoos...I'm not the only one sporting "Bad Monkey" on my arm), has left me a bit melancholy- a tad low. Bar exam results come out soon. And whether I pass this time around, or the next, I am beginning to accept that I won't/can't be a bookseller forever.

I love a lot of things in life. I love my family and friends, Stephen Colbert, hockey, whales; I love the desert, coffee, and old movies; I love cats; I love a certain band; and for a long, long time, I have had a pretty hot and heavy love affair with books.

Of all the above mentioned, and others left out, I would venture to say that my love of books is what defines me most. I read books, I know about books, I surround myself with books. If you're talking about books, and I chance to overhear it, I will unapologetically and aggressively insert myself into your conversation.

Books are a part of me. I'm good at books. I'm good at reading them, good at recommending them, and good at talking about them. I'm good at shelving and alphabetizing them, and good at displaying them in just the right way. And knowing that one day, in the possibly very-near future, I'll have to leave it all behind- makes me so sad. How do I go about this gracefully? Leaving something I love and something I'm good at- something I know- for something I'm not really sure I'm capable of. It feels like I'm abandoning a part of me- a living, breathing, visceral part of me. How do I do that without collapsing into a hysterical mass of tears and paper cuts? (paper cuts because I will be gripping all the books so tightly, not wanting to let go...get it?)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Conversation I just had with my cat

Opal walks up to me and rubs against my leg.

Me: Hi Sweets! Whatcha doing...besides being a-dor-a-ble?

Opal: ... (judgmental look, and walks away with a tail flick)

Apparently Opal doesn't approve of anthropomorphizing pets. She will have none of my tom-foolery.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Battleborn...No, not THAT Battle Born

I know, you think I read this book because of its title.  Well, I'll have you know that I read this book before I had my Killers breakdown.  And I bought this book way back, last fall, when The Killers were just my favorite band (and not my only reason for living). And further, I was only slightly tempted by the fact that both the new Killers album, and the book had the same title...I was all the way tempted by the cover of the book. It's SOOOOOOO pretty!

If you were one of my former Goodreads friends, you may have read this review already.  Well, here's a spruced up version I wrote for my monthly staff pick at the store in an attempt to actually sell the damn thing. I agonized over this review the first time...and I agonized over it again the second time. Anyways, here it is.

***

Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins

Okay, halfway through this review, you're gonna ask yourself, "Why is she even recommending this book?"  Just hear me out, okay?

Another reviewer somewhere said, "Watkins shows promise." I think that's a great way to describe this debut collection. I liked many of these stories, absolutely LOVED one or two (and I mean loved with every fiber of my being-LOVED), and was frustrated by the rest.

Sometimes I really trusted Watkins, was drawn in by her obvious need to find hope in the hopeless. But then her genuineness would slip away to reveal a different author, a less confident author, an author working too hard at being provocative. Sure, sex and violence and drugs and prostitution and infidelity are "edgy"; or to use that horribly overused and demeaning adjective (but only actually used to describe a female author when she dares enter the "realm" of "male" writers)..."gritty" (please note all " " in that last sentence are meant to be read as enthusiastically, sarcastic air quotes...and sorry for all the parenthesis). But a story doesn't become provocative simply by their inclusion and in truth, she's at her most provocative and genuine, when her subjects aren't so "edgy". Not surprisingly, Watkins really shines when she isn't working so hard.  Most of the time I just wanted her to get out of her own way, because she does have such...you know, promise.  So try Graceland and The Diggings for some phenomenal writing.

However, what she does do well, she does really well. Her characters are flawed and unlikable in just the right ways, her subjects unique, and sometimes her words simply soar. But what she does best is write about the desert. For as much as a story would be pissing me off, it would be dragging me in with the smell of creosote; the shimmer of heat waves; and that great, big, western sky stretching on for miles. The desert does something to a person, burrows in deep and never leaves. And to be able to capture that and the raw ache and emptiness of missing the desert when not there; that, I find truly remarkable. Watkins is a child of the desert and she writes it well.

I read these stories compulsively, and they are really very good...and if the first part of this review doesn't indicate that it's because I think they could be so much better, I think she could be really great. I DO think she's phenomenal, and she certainly knows her way around a sentence, AND this is the best new book I've read all year. UGH! What this terribly muddled review is trying to tell you is to read this book; it might make you crazy, it will make you cry, and you may just slam it shut from time to time. But you're gonna be compelled to open it back up, again and again. You won't be able to stay away. People, this is your chance to get in on the ground floor of something big...Claire Vaye Watkins is gonna be huge.

***
And now, won't you please enjoy the song Battle Born, off the album Battle Born, while you read my review of the completely unrelated book, Battleborn. Bonus: if you watch the whole video (and you really should) or if you fast forward to 8:44, you'll see the moment that Brandon Flowers and I brush hands...and the world was never the same again.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Travis is a Nice Name

Next stop on my musical odyssey: TRAVIS!
Seriously loving this...


...and this...



...and a new album coming on August 19th.
God bless the library, and YouTube, and Wikipedia, and other bands, and other fans for pointing me towards all the great music I missed before.

Side note...want to own it? Buy it from one of these awesome record stores!



Double side note...here's a beautiful and sad chronicle of the closing of Easy Street's Queen Anne location. BRICKS & MORTAR, people...bricks and mortar.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Winner, Winner, Chik'n Dinner

This blog is sooooo boring. Blah, blah, blah books. Blah, blah, blah Killers. I'm going to fix that by; (1) expanding the content focus, and (2) drawing more pictures using Microsoft Paint. That's right. I am proficient in MS Paint. That's on my resume.

So here's the one-two punch:

(1) New Content:
I try not to eat meat. At least not meat that grew up in a feed lot. That's right, instead of eating the meat of an animal who's life was so monumentally horrible* that it probably would have killed itself given the option, I like to eat the meat of an animal who's happy, hormone-free life was cut short by my need for a cheeseburger. Just doing my part.

But seeing as "happy" meat is so damned expensive, the majority of my meals are meat-less. So, I thought I would chronicle some of my veggie creations, or recipe attempts. For example: I just made a sandwich using a whole wheat English muffin; cream cheese; a fake, meat, chik'n patty; and Sriracha.

I will never eat anything else. Ever. Again.

(2) Microsoft Paint!
**
* Please see Food Inc.
** roosters are hard to draw, and rooster sauce is not made with actual roosters...at least I don't think it is.

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Guide for the Perplexed

I'm so lucky that I can get my hands on the brand-spanking-new books of my favorite authors. It's a bookseller perk. And it's a great one. It's so great that if and when I become a lawyer, it will be hard to leave behind. We booksellers do what we do because we love it. Unbelievable as it may be, we don't make the big bucks. You can thank these assholes and a general dismissive, disdain towards retail for that. Bookselling is not your average retail career. I know a lot of lifelong booksellers; people who are smarter than me, and smarter than you. These people sell books because it means something to them; because reading, and getting that perfect book into someone's hands is important to them. It truly is an art. Public service announcement over...

So, back to the topic at hand. As a bookseller, I get to read new stuff before you do (this totally makes me feel super cool). But, I have a hard time reading advance copies from authors I've never read before. So, I love, Love, LOVE when an advance copy surfaces from one of my favorites. It's like Christmas. Truly. And this year has been a banner year for me. Lots of authors I love are emerging from wherever it is they go, and finally putting out new stuff. It's fantastic.

But, it seems that I don't really like my favorites anymore (let's not talk about Michael Chabon). Case in point: I got an advance of Night Film from Marisha Pessl who wrote Special Topics in Calamity Physics, a book I LOVED. Her only book, in fact, which was published way back in...I don't know when, the early 2000's. And so, the fact that she is finally publishing something new is huge. And I got to read it.

And...

I didn't like it. Disappointing, sure. But, they can't always hit it out of the park. Not to be thwarted, when I learned that Dara Horn is finally releasing something new, I was over the moon. The World to Come is one of my all time favorites. In the Image is also fantastic. But, then I read the new one.

I don't really have much to say about it. I finished it a few weeks ago, and nothing really stuck with me. It's about sisters and sibling rivalry, a computer program, a hostage situation, asthmatics (really), unfaithful partners, and of course, Horn's customary shifting timelines and Jewish lore. Now, you should know, it's not bad...it just isn't as good as it could have been; as good as I want it to be. After all, she did have four years to write it. And while it is interesting, just sort of blah. Some big ideas that don't pan out. Characters that just aren't likable, but not unlikable in an interesting way.

I've often thought about changing reading tastes, and I'm sure that has something to do with my current apathetic feelings towards truly talented writers. Law school did mean a three year gap in my career as a reader; there were bound to be some shifts. And I have found some new authors that I'm excited about. Sadly, they are only new to me, most of them being already dead (John Williams, Shirley Jackson, Stella Gibbons, Tove Jansson, Herman Melville). I guess what this all means is that I should be a little more open minded about advance reader copies and maybe pick up a few from authors I've never heard of...or I could just reread Moby Dick.

Friday, July 26, 2013

If You Like Boat Shoes...You'll LOVE The Killers

I've been trying to explain to people how awesome The Killers are. Mostly because they are awesome, and no one should be deprived of their awesomeness, but also because it'd be nice to have someone actually interested in what I have to say about them. So far it's an uphill battle.

The other day, my attempts were focused on Carrie, who likes boat shoes. And I told her about this interview a long time ago with Brandon Flowers wearing boat shoes, basically trying to convince her that he is the reason boat shoes are so hot right now; and therefore, she should love The Killers. Sound logic, I know.

A few days later, I sent her a picture of Brandon Flowers and the aforementioned boat shoes. Here's how it goes...


Autocomplete- convenient, in that you don't have to type all the letters; and yet inconvenient, in that it shows you just how crazy you have actually gone.

And now, back to studying (Yes, I'm still blaming this mostly on the Bar Exam...mostly), but before I go...Baby Bflow and his boat shoes...




Congrats, Bflow. You did it, and it only took a decade or so.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Dave Appreciation Post

I asked Carrie and Trish tonight, "What if after the Bar exam, I don't like The Killers anymore?" To which
Carrie said something to the effect of, "I'm sure you'll be fine."

At any rate, in case the unthinkable happens, and this was all a fever dream of stress and insanity...here is a Dave appreciation post.  I just can't get enough Dave lately.

***

"Sometimes it's annoying when I'll be doing a guitar solo and some people would rather watch Brandon drink a bottle of water." - Dave Keuning

From a 2005 NME interview:
Interviewer: "What brand of eyeliner do you use? Have you ever thought of bringing out a Killers brand to sell as merchandise?"
Brandon: (dead pan)  "I use a Sharpie."
Dave:  "Brandon! Now someone will try that and ruin their eyes!"

Always looking out for us...even when we don't watch his guitar solos.


PS. How excited am I about this GIF thing?!???!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Smells Like Home

I just went outside to throw the garbage out.  It smells like rain. That happens here about twice a year. It seems funny. In a city that gets so much rain, it almost never smells like it. It's one of the things I miss most about home; the smell of rain. That dry dust, creosote-spiced, heated-asphalt smell of rain.

Maybe because it's been awhile since it's rained; maybe because this crazy, warm summer has baked our fair city into a dried out, husk of itself. Whatever the reason, it's lovely.

And it's just like it happens in Arizona. It clearly hasn't rained at my house, but it's coming. You can smell it on the wind just like you can smell the summer monsoon, moving through the desert, heading your way.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hey! Look at what I learned to do!

Clarification: I learned to embed GIFs not make GIFs.













Which means you get to enjoy my favorite thing on the internet...
Courtesy of this person.














I could watch this all day. Forever.
Please don't ask me how studying is going.

Sunday, July 14, 2013