vamysteryfan: (books)
 Beatlemania to be precise. More books published for the 50th anniversary of their first US appearances
Days That I'll Remember: Spending Time with John Lennon and Yoko Ono by Jonathan Cott 
Jonathan Cott brings together his Rolling Stone interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono from 1968 until just before John's death in 1980. He includes an interview with Yoko from 2012. These versions include material that never appeared in the magazine. There are some amazing insights into the couple's relationship and influence on each other. The introduction almost put me off the book, as he kept including lines from the Beatles' songs. The illustrations and photographs by John and Yoko are fascinating.
The Beatles in 100 Objects by Brian Southall 
An enjoyable journey down Memory Lane (Penny (for your thoughts) Lane?). Lots of the items are from the early days, before they hit America and it was nice to read about them. The illustrations were glorious and the stories associated with each item were fascinating. I loved the stories behind the boots and the suits. It seemed well-researched and detailed.
Some readers call Louise Penny's series the Three Pines series. I think Quebec is the thread that ties them together - history, politics, and people. I haven't read the entire series but these two were mostly satisfying without the additional information from the whole series.
Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny 
Sixth in the series. This is not an easy read. I had almost given up on Louise Penny, but I'm glad I picked up this one. There are three separate plots going on. One is told in flashbacks while two are contemporary (but the flashbacks fit into the contemporary story). She ties them all together properly. The character development is strong and the stories are interesting though the ending will be hard to read. I learned a lot about Quebec's history. The separatist movement figures largely here. Definitely worth reading. 
How the Light Gets In  by Louise Penny 
Ninth in the series. Chief Inspector Gamache finally unravels the last mystery, Jean-Guy Beauvoir confronts his demons, and a thirty-year-old mystery is finally solved. It took nine books to get here, but we finally find out who the patient mastermind/Gamache's antagonist is. Quebec's separatist party figures largely here as well. Gamache's plan to counter the mastermind was set in motion months before and reading it play out is a thing of beauty. Penny makes you feel the cold, both internal and external. Well worth reading, but it will make very little sense if you haven't read any of earlier ones in the series. Brief note - I loved her story about Leonard Cohen in the acknowledgements.  
And just for the heck of it:
I'd seen the movie Whiteout and someone told me it was vastly inferior to the graphic novel by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber. So I finally read that. The novel was better - funny how that happens. I didn't care for the changes the movie made. The novel is worth hunting up.

Music Meme

Sep. 4th, 2014 02:12 pm
vamysteryfan: (Default)
Music meme nicked from [personal profile] elmyraemilie:

You can tell a lot about a person from their music. Hit shuffle on your iPod, MP3 Player, etc. and put the first 10 songs! One rule, no skipping!

Sister Kate the Ditty Bops
One of these Mornings Moby
World Upside Down Jimmy CLiff
Can't Find My Way Home by Eric Clapton and Stevie WInwood
Danger Zone Kenny Loggins
Sister Jack Spoon
Respect Aretha Franklin
Fernando ABBA
Don't Ever Take Yourself Away Bob Dylan
Kawaipunahele by Keali'i Reichel

Person of Interest and Hawaii 5-0 soundtracks count for a lot in this batch.
vamysteryfan: (books)
It's the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles' arrival in America. Several authors have chosen the anniversary to write books about them and rock music in general.

Beatleness: How the Beatles and Their Fans Remade the World by Candy Leonard. This book documents and discusses the experiences of the first generation of Beatles fans. The author does an excellent job placing the whole Beatles phenomenon within the context of the mid to late 60s. The Beatles existed against the Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War, the assassinations of 1968 and political turbulence, and so much more. It was also within the context of the expansion of television and shared communications. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. For me, the Beatles pretty much provided my soundtrack to elementary school. She gets to the heart of the fandom in a way I haven't seen before, providing a well-researched cultural background without condescension.

Ain't It Time We Said Goodbye: The Rolling Stones on the Road to Exile by Robert Greenfield. This little book left me wanting more. The first two-thirds describes the last time the Rolling Stones could casually tour England. The personalities come through very clearly. The last third is set in various locations during the tax exile. The albums are iconic (Exile on Main Street) but the band was splintering. It's shocking to look back and see the amount of drug use so prevalent then. There are some eye-opening photos.

Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll by Peter Bebergal. Except when it didn't. The author conflates religious, mystical, and occult influences on rock music. It's true that early rock and roll was heavily influenced by religious music, that Eastern beliefs influenced later musicians and some progressive rock bands reinterpreted folklore. His thesis falls apart in the last chapter, mostly because he skips nearly 20 years of popular music, including grunge, disco, and punk. He devotes more space to fringe elements such as death music than their influence warrants. N.B. I read an ARC so some errors I saw will likely be fixed.

The fiction book of the week is Remains of Innocence by J.A. Jance. Part of the Sheriff Brady series. Lisa tries to escape inexplicable violence in her hometown while Sheriff Joanne Brady works to solve two shocking cases. Though I am not a fan of multiple viewpoints, the way the two stories alternated yet moved together inexorably to a joint conclusion was really fascinating. The motive was unexpected and a clever one. It can be read as a standalone, though I truly enjoy this series. Very well written.
vamysteryfan: (books)
Of All the Gin Joints by Mark Bailey, illus. Edward Hemingway.
I’m not quite sure what I think about this book. There are short 2-4 page “chapters” on different actors, stories about various Hollywood hangouts, both closed and current, and 40 cocktail recipes. After reading the book, I don’t want to drink any of them. I might have overloaded by reading the bios in quick succession. I think it was supposed to make me nostalgic for the golden days of Hollywood but instead it just made me sad. So much wasted time and talent is chronicled here. I think movie buffs will probably enjoy it, or people who like their Hollywood stories with a touch of schadenfreude. It is well-written and I liked reading the background stories about some of the famous Hollywood restaurants and hotels. Probably for liability reasons, they only included dead actors, but that was a touch macabre for me. The drawings were nice. Making them all slightly askew was an even better touch. Everyone had Tallulah Bankhead eyes, even the men.

Life at the Marmont: The Inside Story of Hollywood’s Legendary Hotel of the Stars–Chateau Marmont by Fred E. Basten
Now I know why I read Of All the Gin Joints - it was so I would recognize more of the names in Life at the Marmont. It’s part celebrity gossip and part Hollywood history. From the days of the talkies to Johnny Depp and Lady Gaga, pretty much every actor and writer stayed there. We also learn quite a lot about the staff, most of whom worked there for decades. The book has an almost claustrophobic focus on life at the Marmont and doesn’t discuss what went on afterwards in guests’ lives. That’s especially jarring when it comes to Rita Hayworth, Vivian Leigh, and Sharon Tate. The book also stops at 1987, with only a brief afterword to update the Marmont’s status. I could wish that, with the reissue, more information had been added for the last 25 years. Still, if you’re at all interested in movie history, this is a good book to read.

Twee: The Gentle Revolution in Music, Books, Television, Fashion, and Film by Marc Spitz
This book is extensively researched. The author attempted to tie together various music, books, films, and fashion into a “Twee” movement based in certain geographic areas, involving notions of whimsy, romance, gentleness, and some amateurishness. He wants to see Twee as a movement to a kinder, gentler America. His basic concept didn’t work for me. I found the analogies labored and the categories not defined enough to be persuasive. He drew in too many disparate elements to try to make his argument but didn’t unify them. I don’t see many similarities between Brooklyn, Portland, and London or Glasgow. To me the very word twee is derogatory and I don’t think he succeeded in redefining it. It did succeed in intriguing me into looking into a few of the music groups and films he mentioned but I don’t think that saved it.
vamysteryfan: (books)
Via [personal profile] twistedchick, I was introduced to "Welcome Home" by Janis Ian. She wrote and performed it when she was toastmistress at a Nebula Awards Banquet. Janis' website has links to an unplugged version and one with a band, as well as annotated lyrics.

I think I've read 90 percent of the authors she referenced. I plan to read the others, since they are in such good company. We must be roughly the same age bracket, since I did read so many of them

I got a little teary-eyed listening to the song. I started reading science fiction when I was in elementary school. It definitely wasn't cool. As uncool as being interested in the science classes. Girls weren't supposed to like astronomy and chemistry. If I hadn't read science fiction, I wouldn't be as technically savvy as I am.

The song is set to her famous "At Seventeen"

Annotated lyrics back here )
vamysteryfan: (Default)
I don't know much about jazz, except for the obvious names and tunes. A gap in my knowledge I've been addressing. Last night I went to the opening lecture in a symposium on jazz and African influences. It was very good. The main speaker had been playing for over 60 years. He talked about learning from other players up in the Berkshires and going to Africa and learning about the roots of jazz.

The Sumner School was one of the first schools for black children in DC. Built in 1871, it's been beautifully restored.

Blues Alley, a well-known DC club, sponsors the Blues Alley Youth Orchestra. They provided music before the symposium began. )
vamysteryfan: (Default)
yes/yes for all possible values

The new Where the hell is Matt video This is the guy who dances - badly - and gets people to do it with him. I love it.
vamysteryfan: (Default)
I was a huge fan of the Band, from Music from Big Pink to The Last Waltz. I still think that's the best rock movie ever made. Watch him with Paul Butterfield or when he's singing The Night They Drove Dixie Down. He was wonderful in Coal Miner's Daughter. His RKO Allstars put out some good albums too.

I think there's only Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson left. So sad.


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