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.