* David Bowie interviewed by a 17-year-old Cameron Crowe for Playboy in 1976

The thin line between madness and genius… or, holy shit, David Bowie was really fucking crazy.

* ThreadBared on why The Legend of Billie Jean was the best teen movie of the 80s

It’s so sad that this film has been mostly forgotten; it’s the perfect antidote to the conservatism of the John Hughes oeuvre. Plus, Helen Slater is awesome in it.

* I’m reading Bowie in Berlin by Thomas Jerome Seabrook. I’m not sure yet how I feel about this book. It relies almost entirely on recycled information from other sources, but it is quite useful for its intensive focus. It zeros in on Bowie’s Berlin years with an analysis of Bowie’s music and how it was impacted by his personal life and (to a lesser extent) by the location(s) and era. I think I’d enjoy more about the music’s position in relation to the mid/late 70s zeitgeist to balance the focus on the personal life of the creator–something more in the cultural studies realm.

The book spends a lot of time on the innovative production methods and how they went on to influence popular music (I remain amazed at what a huge influence Bowie’s had). The author is a bit of an arty snob, though–I keep imagining how annoying he would be to get into an argument with at a party–but he knows his stuff, and I’m enjoying reading his opinions even if I don’t always agree with him. (His quick dismissal of Ziggy Stardust and his pages of reveries about distorted drum sounds reveal that he’s a completely different type of music fan than I am!)

I don’t think I’ll ever love Low the way I love Station to Station. I respect it immensely as an artistic achievement and I enjoy listening to it, but it doesn’t move me as deeply–maybe my psyche is more attuned to the frantic turmoil of Station to Station than the reflective contemplation of Low. Low is more intellectual, more about atmosphere and mood, more detached. It’s Bowie coming down from the cocaine-fueled insanity of his previous few years, processing it, starting to heal. It’s like a snapshot of a pause, of the period where Bowie took a breath and dealt with himself. It’s fragmented and meandering and often very sad, but with a thread of hope running underneath, an indication that he’s already hit rock bottom and is slowly on his way back up.

It doesn’t help that I’m just so much of a verbal person–the lyrics on Low are incredibly sparse (only half the songs even have English words). I believe people when they tell me that the sound of Low is brilliant, but I don’t fully understand why. I try to listen to the instrumentals and appreciate the textures, the effects, the interactions of the various instruments, but my brain is just not built that way. I can’t focus on an instrumental–no matter how hard I try to force myself to concentrate, I catch myself making a shopping list or worrying about my cat within 30 seconds. To keep the thread, I need words.

And I love the words that are on Low–I love how fragmentary they are and how oddly yet perfectly they interweave with the music. I wouldn’t change anything about this album–I recognize that it’s brilliant–it’s just not brilliant in the way that best draws me personally in.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

I finished The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope. I’m not sure how this ended up on my reading list, but it must’ve been recommended by a Lymond fan–I feel fairly certain that the author must’ve been one as well. It reads like the Lymond Chronicles remixed with the Scottish ballad the Tam Lin.

The main characters are too similar to Philippa and Lymond for it to be coincidence, but it’s done very well and I didn’t feel that it was derivate in a bad way. It was written well and incorporated its various influences into a compelling and imaginative whole.

spoilers for The Perilous Gard and the Lymond Chronicles )

This is technically a childrens' book, but it was complex and interesting enough that I'd say it works just as well for adults. I definitely recommend it, and I think it would make a great gift for a kid as well.
Current Mood: pleased emoticon pleased & pleased emoticon pleased

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Last night I finished reading Bowie: The Pitt Report by Kenneth Pitt. I think this was the most interesting of the Bowie books I’ve read so far. Not the most informative–it only covers a couple of years in the late 60s before Bowie became famous–but fascinating because of the personalities involved and because the author knew Bowie so intimately.

In later years Pitt was criticized for being an ineffectual manager and for trying to turn Bowie into an “all-around light entertainer,” so much of the book is taken up with his attempts to refute that. He chronicles the work he did to promote Bowie in meticulous detail–industry people he contacted, letters and promos he sent, performances he organized. After reading this it’s impossible to deny that Pitt worked his ass off for Bowie–perhaps Pitt was looking in the wrong places, or perhaps Bowie’s work just wasn’t quite star-quality material yet. But what makes the story interesting is not so much the long lists of performance dates and industry contacts as the fact that Kenneth Pitt was clearly head over heels in love with David Bowie.

The Pitt Report )

Here is a quick round-up of the other Bowie books I've read so far:

Alias David Bowie )

Strange Fascination )

The Complete David Bowie )

Moonage Daydream: The Life & Times of Ziggy Stardust )

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

I finished His Majesty’s Dragon and was very disappointed by it.

Read more... )

Meanwhile I am also reading The Pitt Report, an odd and kind of fascinating look at David Bowie through the eyes of his early manager (fascinating mainly for how much goes unsaid and how much Pitt [apparently unconsciously] reveals of his own biases), and Bruce Campell's autobiography If Chins Could Kill, which isn't as interesting as I thought it would be.

Waiting on the shelf: C. S. Forester's Ship of the Line (the next Hornblower book), Dorothy L. Sayers' Whose Body, Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana, and Elizabeth Pope's The Perilous Gard. Canceling my cable TV was a good idea! Any recommendations for which I should read first?

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I’ve been hibernating. Sick for two weeks, tired, depressed. I canceled my cable TV to save money, which is actually good because it means I’m getting stuff done for SuperVegan and am reading books instead of watching Futurama reruns. And I can get Colbert, Stewart, and Rachel Maddow online for free, so there’s no reason to pay $70/month for cable. But it’s kind of depressing, anyway.

We’re going to be adding more cities to SuperVegan’s restaurant guide (right now it’s just NYC). So I’ve been very busy working on the programming for that. Of course, once the programming’s done we have to actually enter the data… um, any vegans out there want to volunteer? I guess the ideal is to get local people on the ground in each city to keep the information accurate and up-to-date, but I don’t know how feasible that’ll be. We’re having enough trouble keeping NYC up-to-date, and we all live here!

I read a couple of books. I finished Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander after leaving it half-read on a shelf for a year. I didn’t like it. Like Dunnett, it’s full of historically accurate jargon that’s difficult for a modern reader to parse; unlike Dunnett, the story and characters were just not compelling enough for me to want to put in the effort. I basically just finished it to get it out of the way. I bought more books in Forester’s Hornblower series instead; I found that one much more readable and the main character so much funnier (inadvertently) and more interesting.

I also read Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book because I got a free copy at BEA. It was cute, although typical of Gaiman in that none of it really made sense. He tells stories on the level of metaphor, which is nice, but he doesn’t have the plots or logic to back them up. I always want to know hows and whys that he never provides. This isn’t really a criticism, because it’s a perfectly legitimate way of writing, it’s just not one that appeals to me personally. (I have the same problem with most Stephen King.)

I’m currently reading Naomi Novik’s His Majesty’s Dragon, but it’s slow going. I’m only 50 pages in, but I just… so don’t care about dragons. I find them creepy and silly and unpleasant to read about, actually; it’s a credit to [info]grrm that I love A Song of Ice and Fire despite the dragons. (It probably helps that I was already totally into the story by the very late point that he finally introduced the dragons, and he slipped them in very slowly.) But I’ll try to finish this book; I want to give it a fair shot since I think the author is doing awesome things for fandom via her involvement with the OTW.

Oh yeah, and Writercon is still happening. Come hang out and talk about fanfic for a few days. It’ll be great.

Update on my continuing Bowie obsession: I skipped ahead 15 years after Scary Monsters and am now listening to 1. Outside. I’m just not quite ready to face 80s Bowie yet. Or Tin Machine. (I finished two Bowie bios and most of the encyclopedia and none of them had anything nice to say about Tin Machine.)

Thoughts on Bowie's Outside )
Current Mood: blah emoticon blah

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I haven’t been posting much, because I’ve been stressed out and busy and tired, and who wants to hear about that?

I have, however, accumulated a couple of mildly interesting (I hope) things to post about.

the Watchmen movie )

* Then the next night, [ profile] jaydk and I saw Coraline. Proof that you don't need to be "edgy" to make a good movie: it was far better than Watchmen. Smart, funny, well-written, beautifully filmed--the 3D was absolutely lovely. The story was creative and intriguing and eerie, and the lead character was clever and brave. Why do childrens' stories do such a superior job of portraying three-dimensional female characters? Is it just that we've been culturally conditioned to be unable to fathom a post-pubescent female in a way that doesn't put her sexuality front and center?

* I'm seeing a lot of talk about Doctor Who finale casting spoilers. As far as I can tell, they're from a tabloid that regularly makes shit up, so why is anyone taking them seriously? Am I missing something? (This is a genuine question. Is there any reason to believe them? I don't want to get excited about something that's completely fabricated.)

* I'm reading Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin's book about Lincoln and his cabinet. It's really interesting and I'm enjoying it, but I wish she'd stop spelling out what the reader is "supposed" to think. I can make up my own mind about what these guys did and why they did it; I don't need the author inserting her own explanation that so-and-so was arrogant and ambitious on every page. Still, it's mostly good. After being so absorbed in the 2008 election, it's fascinating to see how American politics worked 150 years ago.

* And I'm still in the middle of The Disorderly Knights. I'm going to finish it and then take a break from the Lymond series, since it's been less than six months since I re-read Pawn in Frankincense. Speaking of which, my mom just finished it and is in awe. In retrospect, I think Pawn is the best written and most moving book of the series.

the Moonlight TV series )

Also, maybe it's just that I don't watch modern American TV anymore, but ... what is with the women? As in, they are all exactly the same: tiny, emaciated, sharp-featured, and young. No matter what character they're playing--boss, geek girl, random vampire--they are all pulled from such an incredibly narrow archetype of "woman" that it's just completely absurd. Watching a show like this, you'd never even imagine that women exist on planet Earth larger than a size four, older than thirty-five, and without those sharp facial angles that Hollywood defines as "beautiful." At least the men are allowed to have some diversity of age, size, and facial features, depending on the character they're playing, but every single woman first has to fit into this absurdly narrow definition of "attractive" before anything else is taken into account.

This is why I can barely watch American TV anymore. Once you step away from it for a while, you come back and suddenly it's like being hit over the head by how ridiculous it is. This narrow bunch of nearly-identical Hollywood model types plays pretty much every female character and the majority of male characters. Sure, an occasional talent pops through, but it's painfully obvious that these people are cast almost entirely for their looks with no regard for skill. You end up with a bunch of interchangeable Barbies and Kens running around posing as every variety of adult human being. How am I supposed to take any of it seriously?

* But speaking of American TV that doesn't suck, I have become completely addicted to The Rachel Maddow Show. It passes the Bechdel Test every night! Real women talk to each other about real issues! With none of the insipid concessions to what "women" are supposed to care about--no celebrity gossip, no plastic surgery, no cooking and baking, no fashion bullshit, just women as real individual human beings, with their own perspectives, who care about the world around them. (This shouldn't be such a shock and a rarity!) And Rachel is brilliant, witty, funny, sweet, and adorable beyond words. I know she's not perfect and I do disagree with her sometimes, but I always love watching her. She makes me wish Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert would do less joking and more news--after I watch her show, I feel like I'm not getting enough content from them. (Don't worry, I still love them. Jon Stewart's smackdown of Jim Cramer was a thing of beauty.)

* Oh, and I'm still listening to David Bowie. Ziggy Stardust remains my favorite, but I've added Hunky Dory, Aladdin Sane, and Diamond Dogs to the lineup and am enjoying them all. I tried to listen to Scary Monsters on the advice of my friend Jason, but aside from "Ashes to Ashes" it just totally didn't work for me. I don't understand what happened to Bowie in the 80s. It's like he went from brilliant and hot and amazing to ... just ... so boring and annoying and straight. Maybe I'll understand it better if I take each album chronologically. Or it could just be the Bowie draws from the zeitgeist of the decade, and the 80s was ... well, the 80s.

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… oh, my god.

I have no words to describe this. Just. Click here and read.

I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time.

Current Mood: indescribable emoticon indescribable

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Children of God was worse than The Sparrow. Sheesh.

spoilers for Mary Doria Russell's Children of God )

I'm glad I got it out of the way before Gallifrey One so that I could bring along The Disorderly Knights, though. More on that soon. >:)
Current Mood: disappointed emoticon disappointed

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* [info]x_los wrote Eighth Doctor/goosnake!Master. And it’s… actually kind of awesome? If you enjoy crackfic, I highly recommend it.

* I. Um. I think I want to see Twilight. I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW. But… it’s just… you know… Robert Pattinson is really really cute!

Apparently somewhere inside me there still lurks a twelve year old girl, whose Pretty!Boy!Vampire! alert has just been triggered. I will have to hide my face in shame and sneak into the theater hoping that no one I know will recognize me. Or at least claim that I’m there only to snark. :P

* I saw the new James Bond this weekend and was disappointed. I’m all for emotional continuity, but it didn’t feel like the movie really went anywhere. Nothing made a big impression, and I was mostly bored. Apparently I’m one of the three human beings on the planet who do not find Daniel Craig attractive, so without a compelling story there just wasn’t much to hold my interest. Casino Royale was so much better. :(

* I just read this book called The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, about a Jesuit expedition to Alpha Centauri (seriously). It was brilliantly written, but I didn’t love it.

spoilers for The Sparrow and for the Lymond Chronicles (possibly offensive to religious types) )
Current Mood: tired emoticon tired

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I’ve started reading British naval historical novels set in the Napoleonic era. (I think this is a result of running out of Sharpe books and so moving from land to sea. That and an annoying subway commute.)

I finished C. S. Forester’s Beat to Quarters last week.

spoilers )

Now I'm about a quarter of the way into Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander. spoilers )

After I finish Master and Commander, I'll decide which series to continue reading. I liked the Hornblower character best, but I like the Aubrey/Maturin relationship best. So we'll see. :)
Current Mood: thoughtful emoticon thoughtful

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I went to see Godhead unplugged last night (opening up for Jonathan Davis unplugged). Unfortunately I got there late and only caught their last two songs. Grrr. But they sounded awesome, so if you have a chance to see them, I recommend going.

Seeing Godhead gives me all kind of flashbacks to the olden days, following bands around with Steff and Chrissy and April and various others who came into and out of our circle. I had so much fun back then. I wish I could recapture the inherent thrill of SEEING LIVE MUSIC OMG!!! I mean, I still enjoy really good live music, but mostly I've gotten pretty cynical about everything else... the crappy opening bands and the gross venues and the annoying groupies....

Jonathan Davis was okay. I recognized the final three (non-cover) songs as Korn songs, and I'm pretty sure that the (fairly pathetic) reason I knew them was from watching Total Request Live back in the day. (Ah, Carson Daly, how I do not miss you.) Which is kind of depressing because I really liked the first Korn album, and kind of liked the second album, but then I decided that they were just repeating themselves in increasingly dull circles.

Um, the performance was good, though. Oh, and he played one of his songs from "Queen of the Damned" and bitched that the song was about stuff in the book that was cut from the movie, and how he doesn't understand movie producers. Dude, I don't think anyone who had the misfortune to see "Queen of the Damned" can claim to understand movie producers. Also it occurred to me that he was basically paid to write a bunch of Anne Rice filk for that movie--and his contribution was the most artistically sound aspect of the entire film (it certainly wasn't the writing, directing, or acting!).

And then these stupid frat boys decided to start a mosh pit during an ACOUSTIC PERFORMANCE, so I had to duck out of the way and huddle over on the side--and still got slammed into! Today, my neck hurts. Ugh.

What else? Oh yeah, I read the book "Howl's Moving Castle" and then watched the movie. This is one of those rare occasions where I liked the movie better than the book! I think the movie started with some of the more interesting aspects of the book and then went completely off in its own direction with the anti-war themes and the Howl transforming into a bird thing. Plus the movie seemed less traditional and more morally ambiguous (like the Witch not being so bad), although I was a little annoyed that it left out the whole connection to the real world. Overall, the book was a decent read but I'll forget it next week; the movie will stick in my mind much longer. Plus Miyazaki's images are just so vivid and gorgeous.

Meanwhile I'm still re-reading "Queen's Play." Lymond just met the Dame de Doubtance, and the whole thing makes so much more sense now. It's really weird to read a story that you can't fully understand until you've read it already.

Oh, and um, the totally awesome [ profile] jaydk (who *really* needs to update her LiveJournal) sent me tons of links to Doctor Who fanfiction. I never though I'd say this, but I spent a good amount of time today reading hot Doctor Who porn. I love fandom.

[Cross-posted to InsaneJournal]

I blog about fannish things. Busy with work so don't update often. Mirrored at

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