Sunday, December 27, 2015

Ending the reading year

I started the reading year with Rebecca Solnit, and I ended the year with Rebecca Solnit. As patterns go, it's a nice bookend. I'm picking up where I left off on the Mary Russell series. Life is too short for bad books, and if we can find something that keeps us comfortable and happy, sometimes it is good to keep them around. The Mary Russell series has always been a source of comfort for me.

I was reading Pirate King at a local coffee shop yesterday, and I smiled when I came across this passage, where Mary Russell had ran out of reading materials, and was suddenly offered a licentious novel, The Sheikh, favoured by many of the ladies on the ship. The way she described it reminded me of how I felt about 50 Shades of Grey:

The novel, made into a moving picture that put Valentino onto the world's lips (in more ways than one), had been written during the War by a woman whose husband was at the Front. Whose husband had clearly been at the Front for a long, long time.

It was appalling. Not so much the writing itself (which can was merely the lower end of mediocrity) nor the raw pornography (which it was), but its blatant message that an independent and high-spirited young woman would be far happier if she were just slapped around a bit by a caring sadist. I read every word about fiery young Diana Mayo and her encounter with, abduction by, and ultimate submission to Sheik Ahmed ben Hassen. Then I went to wash my hands, and took the novel back to Mrs Hatley, with a fervent plea that she not let any of the girls read it. She turned pink and said of course not. But had I enjoyed it?

Remembering Terry Pratchett

We lost Sir Terry Pratchett earlier this year. It's a sad, sad thing, but we will always have his books - and that is his most lasting legacy. Meanwhile, here's Sir Terry Pratchett remembered by his daughter, Rhianna Pratchett, in The Observer:

"He always said that he was most like the brusque Commander Vimes, raging against injustice. But he was a little like Death too; always loved a good curry and Pratchetts have cats like other people have bathrooms."

Sleater-Kinney - Market Hotel, New York 2015

Oh my. I think somebody uploaded the entire Sleater-Kinney show at Market Hotel. I gasp, and share. Well, I think I'm only putting it on the blog so I can find it again in future. Still - totally adore the "Whorin' for Corin" shirt that Carrie was wearing. Like she said, her guitar was covering part of it, so it just says "Whorin'". It's the thought that counts, hun.

Hmm. Apparently Carrie kept one guitar throughout the show. Usually she change guitars intermittently.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Records for 2015

Books Read for 2015

  1. Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness • Rebecca Solnit
  2. The Outsider • Albert Camus
    Translated from the French by Sandra Smith
  3. The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere • Pico Iyer
  4. Station Eleven: A Novel • Emily St. John Mandel
  5. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith • Anne Lamott
  6. Travels with Herodotus • Ryszard Kapuscinski
    translated from the Polish by Klara Glowczewska
  7. Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found • Cheryl Strayed
  8. A Dance with Dragons • George R. R. Martin
  9. Lazarus: Family - Volume 1 • Greg Rucka, Michael Lark & Santiago Arcas
  10. Lazarus: Lift - Volume 2 • Greg Rucka, Michael Lark, & Santiago Arcas
  11. Lazarus: Conclave - Volume 3 • Greg Rucka, Michael Lark, & Santiago Arcas
  12. Bluets • Maggie Nelson
  13. Adaptation • Malinda Lo
  14. Inheritance • Malinda Lo
  15. Daughter of Smoke & Bone • Laini Taylor
  16. Days of Blood & Starlight • Laini Taylor
  17. Dreams of Gods & Monsters • Laini Taylor
  18. My Fight/Your Fight • Ronda Rousey
  19. The Shepherd's Crown • Terry Pratchett
  20. Annihilation • Jeff VanderMeer
  21. Equal Rites • Terry Pratchett
  22. Wind/Pinball: Two Novels • Haruki Murakami
  23. Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books • Michael Dirda
  24. The Inheritance Trilogy • N. K. Jemisin
  25. The Killing Moon: Book One of the Dreamblood • N. K. Jemisin
  26. Fail Fail Again Fail Better • Pema Chodron
  27. The Shadowed Sun: Book Two of the Dreamblood • N. K. Jemisin
  28. M Train • Patti Smith
  29. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl • Carrie Brownstein
  30. Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Essays • Joan Didion
  31. Men Explain Things to Me • Rebecca Solnit
100 Books To Read 2015

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Book Haul from San Francisco and New York 2015

Just putting it here.

Village Voice on the Sleater-Kinney tour

"It cannot be stated enough that Sleater-Kinney’s impact on rock ‘n’ roll is absolutely essential. They’ve never compromised their sound, politics, or work ethic, using the hiatus to pursue personal projects, each with their various merits. But there is little that compares to the magic that happens when they come together."

- Village Voice, on the Sleater-Kinney New York tour [full essay]

Sleater-Kinney's Set List

Great article covering Sleater-Kinney's recent New York tour, and the band's set list. [ full essay ] It shows the kind of decision that goes the scene, as the band tries to make it an optimum experience for the fans. It's never just about a band in front of an audience, but almost like an exchange of energy. It's also fun to have them switch things around, so that it rewards fans that follow them every night of their tour.

Sleater-Kinney’s sprint down memory lane ended in a space reminiscent of the tiny, unpolished spots the group played in its early days, Market Hotel, where someone doodled the letters “S K” and hearts on the fogged-out windows behind the stage, and the elevated M train was visible rattling by. “In a way, it was interesting to be in that position again, to be on stage and thinking, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to be deaf after this show.’ It definitely became very scrappy and energetic,” Ms. Weiss said. (Which explains the condition of that night’s set list, pictured above). “I remember those days and I feel like we became a good band in venues like that, but I don’t have to play those venues to prove that we are still true to the music and still raw. I still feel that raw, even in a bigger place. People could just get closer. It was for the hard-core fans.”

Sleater-Kinney in New York 2015

Hope everyone is enjoying the lead up to the festive season. I just came back from a two week trip to San Francisco and New York. It was a blast - the climax being the two back-to-back Sleater-Kinney concerts I managed to catch as they are rounding up 2015 with a 5 concert tour in New York. I've been a big fan of Sleater-Kinney for a long time, and was totally heart-broken when they went on "indefinite hiatus". Ten years later, they are back. It's been a long journey, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to see them 'live' in concert - even if that meant long hours standing in line, in the cold, with aching feet and a hot, sweaty frontline gallery later. I am thankful that they never gave up on the music. Thank you so much.

I was at Kings Theatre, Brooklyn when the band did a cover of the Ramones' 'Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)'. Carrie was in that very same dress. It was pretty much just awesome sauce.

Carrie Brownstein, in conversation with Dave Eggers

Carrie Brownstein, in conversation with Dave Eggers. Overall, a funny and interesting interview. I particularly like how she described the Sleater-Kinney sound. I find it difficult to put my finger on why I love their music so much, and I often am at a loss when I had to describe their music to friends. It is powerful, fast, passionate, extreme, terrible and beautiful all at once> It is not "settled music", as Brownstein explained:

"First of all, Sleater-Kinney is not a band that people usually play at restaurants. For a reason: It’s not settled music, and it doesn’t make people feel settled. It’s not really background music. I’ve realized. Because of that - It’s true: I don’t recognize it.

"I remember being at a hair salon and hearing this really fast song. And I just thought, Wow, this is a really disruptive thing to play while I’m trying to relax and get my haircut. And then I realize it was ‘Dig Me Out’. But, it has a velocity to it, and it’s scary. And it’s unrecognizable. I only recognize it from the inside, I guess. I recognize those songs through playing them. But when I’m hearing them back, I’m unsure of how fearsome they are. They’re very intense.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

100 BOOKS | 100 Books to Read 2015

This is the list in progress for my readings in 2015.
  1. If the Oceans Were Ink • Carla Power
    [ 15/08/2015 ~
  2. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books • Azar Nafisi
    [ 27/09/2015 ~
  3. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks • Rebecca Skloot
  4. Authority: Book 2 of the Southern Reach Trilogy • Jeff VanderMeer
    [ 30/08/2015 ~
  5. Acceptance: Book 3 of the Southern Reach Trilogy • Jeff VanderMeer
  6. Girl in a Band: A Memoir • Kim Gordon
    [ 02/08/2015 ~
  7. Loitering: New & Collected Essays • Charles D'Ambrosio
    [ 21/07/2015 ~
  8. The Argonauts • Maggie Nelson
    [ 28/05/2015 ~
  9. H is for Hawk • Helen Macdonald
    [ 18/05/2015 ~
  10. I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen • Sylvie Simmons
    [ 25/04/2015 ~
  11. The Empathy Exams • Leslie Jamison
    [ 22/04/2015 ~
  12. The Buried Giant • Kazuo Ishiguro
    [ 07/03/2015 ~
  13. The Nuns of Sant'Ambrogio: The True Story of a Convent in Scandal • Hubert Wolf
    [Translated by Ruth Martin]
    [ 16/03/2015 ~
  14. Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace • Anne Lamott
    [ 04/12/2014 ~
  15. What Days Are For: A Memoir • Robert Dessaix
    [ 20/11/2014 ~
  16. A History of the World in Twelve Maps • Jerry Brotton
  17. Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence • Rick Hanson
  18. Running and Being • Dr George Sheehan
  19. Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom • Rick Hanson
  20. The Wisdom of Yoga: A Seeker's Guide to Extraordinary Living • Stephen Cope
  21. The Sanity We Are Born With: A Buddhist Approach to Psychology • Chogyam Trungpa
  22. Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism • Chogyam Trungpa
  23. Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery • Chogyam Trungpa
  24. The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live--and How You Can Change Them • Richard J. Davidson & Sharon Begley
  25. Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar--Your Brain's Silent Killers • David Perlmutter & Kristin Loberg
  26. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West • Dee Brown
  27. Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites • Kate Christensen
  28. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals • Michael Pollan
  29. In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto • Michael Pollan
  30. Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation • Michael Pollan
  31. Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History • S. C. Gwynne
  32. Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child • Bob Spitz
  33. Love Your Enemies: How to Break the Anger Habit & Be a Whole Lot Happier • Sharon Salzberg
  34. Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste • Luke Barr
  35. Running with the Buffaloes: A Season Inside with Mark Wetmore, Adam Goucher, and the University of Colorado Men's Cross Country Team • Chris Lear
  36. The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present • Eric Kandel
  37. The Source of All Things: A Memoir • Tracy Ross
  38. No Time to Lose: A Timely Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva •  Pema Chodron
  39. Quiet: The Power of Introverts • Susan Cain
  40. The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot • Robert MacFarlane
  41. A Tale for the Time Being • Ruth Ozeki
  42. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants • Malcolm Gladwell
  43. When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice • Terry Tempest Williams
  44. Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation • Sharon Salzberg
  45. Hild • Nicola Griffith
  46. Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind • Shunryu Suzuki
  47. Lady Audley's Secret • Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  48. The Names of the Rose • Umberto Eco
  49. Dune • Frank Herbert
  50. The Stars My Destination • Alfred Bester
  51. Jane Eyre • Charlotte Bronte
  52. The Windup Girl • Paolo Bacigalupi
  53. Regenesis • C.J. Cherryh
  54. Among Others • Jo Walton
  55. The City & The City • China Miéville
  56. Baghdad Sketches (1932) • Freya Stark
  57. The Valleys of the Assassins and Other Persian Travels (1934) [On Mazandaran, Iran]• Freya Stark
  58. The Southern Gates of Arabia: A Journey in the Hadhramaut (1936)• 
  59. A Winter in Arabia (1940) [On Hadhramaut] • 
  60. Perseus in the Wind (1948). [Essays on philosophy and literature] • 
  61. Ionia, A Quest (1954) • Freya Stark
  62. The Lycian Shore (1956) [On Turkey] • Freya Stark
  63. Alexander's Path: From Caria to Cilicia (1958) [On Turkey] • Freya Stark
  64. The Zodiac Arch (1968) [Miscellaneous essays] • Freya Stark
  65. The Minaret of Djam: An Excursion into Afghanistan (1970) • Freya Stark
  66. Where the Stress Falls • Susan Sontag
  67. On Photography • Susan Sontag
  68. Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947-1963 • Susan Sontag
  69. Against Interpretation: And Other Essays • Susan Sontag
  70. As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980 • Susan Sontag
  71. The Histories • Herodotus
  72. Shantaram • Gregory David Roberts
  73. The Magicians • Lev Grossman
  74. The Magician King • Lev Grossman
  75. The Magician's Land • Lev Grossman
  76. Their Eyes Were Watching God • Zora Neale Hurston
  77. A Fine Balance • Rohinton Mistry
  78. Ancillary Justice • Ann Leckie
  79. Ancillary Sword • Ann Leckie
  80. The Little Stranger • Sarah Waters
  81. The Paying Guests • Sarah Waters
  82. The Trauma of Everyday Life • Mark Epstein
    [ 15/09/2014 ~
  83. Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness • Rebecca Solnit
    [ 26/11/2014 ~ 18/01/2015 ]
  84. The Outsider • Albert Camus
    Translated from the French by Sandra Smith
    [ 01/10/2014 ~ 19/01/2015 ]
  85. The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere • Pico Iyer
    [ 19/01/2015 ~ 25/01/2015 ]
  86. Station Eleven: A Novel • Emily St. John Mandel
    [ 23/11/2014 ~ 04/02/2015 ]
  87. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith • Anne Lamott
    [ 15/10/2013 ~ 09/02/2015 ]
  88. Travels with Herodotus • Ryszard Kapuscinski
    translated from the Polish by Klara Glowczewska
    [ 05/02/2015 ~ 15/02/2015 ]
  89. Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found • Cheryl Strayed
    [ 25/01/2015 ~ 14/03/2015 ]
  90. Bluets • Maggie Nelson
    [ 09/06/2015 ~ 17/06/2015 ]
  91. My Fight/Your Fight • Ronda Rousey
    [ 27/06/2015 ~ 13/08/2015 ]
  92. The Shepherd's Crown • Terry Pratchett
    [ 28/08/2015 ~ 29/08/2015 ]
  93. Annihilation: Book 1 of the Southern Reach Trilogy • Jeff VanderMeer
    [ 28/08/2015 ~ 30/08/2015 ]
  94. The Inheritance Trilogy • N. K. Jemisin
  95. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
    [ 06/09/2015 ~ 13/09/2015 ]
  96. The Broken Kingdoms
    [ 13/09/2015 ~ 26/09/2015 ]
  97. The Kingdom of Gods
    [ 26/09/2015 ~ 17/10/2015 ]
  98. Fail Fail Again Fail Better • Pema Chodron
    [ 31/10/2015 ~ 02/11/2015 ]
  99. M Train • Patti Smith
    [ 13/10/2015 ~ 16/11/2015 ]
  100. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl • Carrie Brownstein
    [ 14/11/2015 ~ 05/12/2015 ]
  101. Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Essays • Joan Didion
    [ 27/11/2015 ~ 10/12/2015 ]