Have you ever wondered what Beemo has on underneath that molded plastic exterior of his? Well, just click on the following picture and everything will be revealed. And I do mean everything!
Our Love Could Light the World–Anne Leigh Parrish
This is the second collection of short stories by Seattle author Anne Leigh Parrish. Her first book, All the Roads That Lead From Home, was one of my favorites of 2011. I liked it so much, in fact, that I read it twice. That hardly ever happens.
This second book picks up where the first one left off. Actually, it backtracks a bit first. The last story in All the Roads That Lead From Home is republished in slightly-altered form as the first story in Our Love Could Light the World. In it, Lavinia Dugan goes on a business trip leaving her husband Potter and their five children to fend for themselves. The household falls apart in her absence. Things culminate when the children go to the grocery store for laundry detergent and return with an old man in a bathrobe (but no detergent).
Whereas the stories in the first book were connected by setting and theme, the stories in Our Love Could Light the World are linked by the characters themselves; all twelve stories are about members of the Dugan family. The second story picks up shortly after the events of the first and deals with the aftermath of Lavinia’s business trip. The third story follows from there. It’s almost like reading a novel.
Despite the fact that this book features the same characters throughout and proceeds chronologically, I found that it somehow lacks the cohesiveness of the author’s first collection. I suppose it has something to do with the time jumps that occur between the stories or the fact that the extended Dugan family has a few too many members, not all of whom have interesting stories to tell. The stories dealing with Timothy and the twins, for example, don’t mesh well with the others and feature plot points that come off as a bit melodramatic.
I think the collection is strongest when it sticks to the three main characters of Lavinia, Potter, and their oldest daughter, Angie. “Into My Loving Arms”, a story about a graduation barbeque that goes awry and becomes a turning point in Angie’s life, is one of the highlights. The other main highlight–and perhaps my favorite story in either book–is “The Sorrow of the Country”. That one’s about what happens when Potter decides to renovate his childhood home. The story has the word “sorrow” in the title, so I’m not giving much away when I say that his plans don’t exactly work out. These stories have the power and compassion that I appreciated so much in Anne Leigh Parrish’s first book and make her second collection worth reading. I probably won’t reread Our Love Could Light the World anytime soon, but I’d definitely recommend that you give it a try.
Gone Girl–Gillian Flynn
I was enjoying this crime mystery about a woman who goes missing from a troubled marriage until I got to page 37 (in the hardback edition). The last sentence on that page propelled me from a state of mere enjoyment to one bordering on manic obsession. That feeling stuck with me almost to the end of the book. I didn’t care for the way Gillian Flynn wrapped things up, but it’s rare for an author to do exactly what I want them to do. I don’t let it bother me when characters steer away from where I think they should go and head for disappointing places. I am, after all, a Stephen King fan, so I’m used to characters doing annoying things at the end of books I’ve otherwise enjoyed.
I’d recommend Gone Girl to people who wish Tana French wrote smarter characters, and to people who liked the episode of Elementary that aired last night (which ripped off half its plot from Flynn). The book is a thrill-ride and probably the best mystery I’ve read since The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters.
Glaciers–Alexis M. Smith
I picked up this little book from Beth’s shelf while I was out in Seattle. I read two thirds of it sitting on a neighbor’s couch while Beth did some cat-sitting chores. I didn’t help at all…even when the cat pooped a trucker-sized poop. I just sat there and read Glaciers. I read the final third of the book the following Sunday in-between bouts of crossword puzzling and packing.
Glaciers was a good book, but it’s so slight that I barely remember anything about it. I know it reminded me a bit of Samantha Hunt’s first novel, The Seas. That’s a major positive, as far as I’m concerned.
I thought I would try to write an individual post for each of the books I read in 2014. I really didn’t think that goal through, though. If I had trouble writing my monthly posts last year, then why did I think I’d be able to write four times as many posts this year? I’m three books behind and am so grumpy about it that I’ve basically put the brakes on reading so I won’t fall four behind. I’ve read a half dozen pages in the last eight days. Grumble, grumble.
So that goal is getting abandoned. I’m not writing anything about books. When it comes down to it, I’d rather just post this screenshot from the opening of Twin Peaks…
Here’s a picture of all the music I acquired during my most recent trip to Seattle. There’s some great stuff in there, but I’m not in the mood to write about it tonight. I’d be willing to discuss any of my purchases in comments, of course.
And here’s a picture of the bird I flipped at the new Chase Bank that opened up in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood. I think it’s perfectly fine to make an obscene gesture at just about any bank, but this specific branch makes me especially grumbly because the building it’s in used to house one of the all-time greatest music stores, Easy Street Records.
I have decided that it’s finally time to update my member image. The picture I’ve been using since my very first day on Vox is now eight-years-old. My silhouette is totally different now and my avatar-thingie should reflect that. So here’s the original picture I took on the side of the Bengals stadium in 2006…
…and here’s my new one. I took it a couple weeks ago against the side of a building that makes prosthetic limbs. Well, the building doesn’t actually make the limbs…the people who work inside do. Either way, here it is:The picture isn’t centered as well as my original one, but I think it will do until I either grow longer arms or figure out how the sun works angle-wise. I tried to update things over on Gravatar, but it looks like that stupid site is now entirely in French. I tried to muddle through, but I’m not sure if it worked or not.
I don’t know what annoyed me most about last night’s Sun Kil Moon concert, the annoying assholes in the audience who kept shouting about there being too much reverb, the annoying asshole on stage who kept shouting back that there wasn’t too much reverb, or the fact that the first bunch of assholes shouting about there being too much reverb were actually right about there being too much reverb…so much reverb, in fact, that I could barely tell what the annoying asshole on stage was singing about at any point during the show. All three of these things were very annoying, but I think if I had to rank them on a scale of annoyingness from most to least annoying, it would probably go like this:
- Too much reverb
- Audience assholes shouting about too much reverb
- Performing asshole denying the reverb
All I wanted to do was hear Mark Kozelek sing his songs. I’ve got over twenty Kozelek-related albums (released under his own name, Sun Kil Moon, or the Red House Painters) and I’d been trying to catch up with him for years. I even planned my trip to Seattle around this particular concert. Instead of experiencing a quality performance from one of my favorite singers in a nice setting, I was subjected to over two hours of hostility and muffled singing. It wasn’t what I’d been hoping for. Oh well, here’s the setlist:
Carissa/I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love/Truck Driver/Dogs/I Love My Dad/Micheline/Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes/I Watched the Film ‘The Song Remains the Same’/You Missed My Heart/Caroline/Gustavo/Katowice or Cologne/Livingstone Bramble/Hey You Bastard I’m Still Here/The Moderately Talented Young Woman/That Bird Has a Broken Wing/By the Time That I Awoke/Ceiling Gazing
Black Kite (solo)/Among the Leaves
One of the first things I did when I got to Seattle was head down to Pioneer Square. I wanted to stop by Fairlook Antiques and see if they still had any vintage photos of Marion & Herb Timm remaining from the last time I was there. If you recall my earlier posts about the Timms, you might remember that I left at least twenty pictures in the shop last summer. I regretted that once I got home to Ohio. Of course.
I’m happy to report that Fairlook still had many of the shots leftover from my previous visit. There were actually far more than I remembered there being…at least 75. I didn’t buy them all, but I over-indulged a bit and came away with a good-sized stack. I bought pictures featuring handguns, redwood trees, old-timey cars, and a shirtless beefcake shot of Herb smoking a cigar (that must’ve been taken within a few minutes of this one). I suspect that I now have more pictures than you have interest, so we should probably get started.
So here are two of my new favorite finds. The first one shows Marion piloting a boat on Lake Washington near Seattle. This picture sort of reminds me of the famous “We Can Do It!” poster from WWII. I can’t tell if Marion is wearing a hat or a kerchief, though.
The second is a particularly handsome shot of Herb fishing. I thought at first that he had a golf club in his hands, but then I noticed the little metal ring-thingie that guides the fishing line. I think his grip is all off for a right-handed golfer anyway.
I think it’s safe to assume that these two pictures were taken on the same boating trip. The penciled notes on the back date these shots from “1944 or 5″.
I did my first rudimentary red ink drawing of the year yesterday. I drew a trading card of Karel Cruz, my favorite dancer from the Pacific Northwest Ballet. I never thought I’d have a favorite ballet dancer, but I’ve been to enough dance performances now that I can tell he’s something special. He definitely merits some creepy fan art.
Sure, Karel Cruz doesn’t really have soulless mutant eyes or misshapen lips, but I think my drawing looks enough like him to be recognizable if you squint and look out the corner of your eye. It’s certainly a better likeness than my other attempt at this kind of thing.
My drawing is based on the 1961 Topps baseball card design and a photograph found on PNB.org.
I’m out in Seattle. Beth and I have a Valentine’s Day date scheduled for later this evening. We’re going to see The Lego Movie. It’s romance!
- Terry Cashman – One Stop Along the Way: The Ballad of Johnny Bench – I had to buy this record when I found it at Everybody’s for $3.99. Not only is the cover awesome, but Beth had a girlhood crush on Johnny Bench so this will make a fun jokey gift. I look forward to giving it to her as “One Stop Along the Way” is currently the worst song in my entire music collection. The singer can’t even pronounce Cincinnati.
- Hauschka – Snowflakes & Car Wrecks – This is probably my favorite Hauschka record. It’s definitely my favorite Hauschka cover art.
- Fingerprintz – Distinguishing Marks – I bought this one because I thought it would be fun to cut out and mail the twelve postcards that make up the front and back covers.
- the New Mendicants – A Very Sorry Christmas – The “sorriest” thing about this Christmas 7″ is that the band didn’t even bother shipping it until the 17th…of January!
- V/A – Bonograph: Sonny Gets His Share – I bought this tribute to Sonny Bono because it features songs by Scott McCaughey, the Young Fresh Fellows, and Jimmy Silva. Did you know Sonny Bono co-wrote “Needles and Pins”? I didn’t.
- Neko Case – The Worse Things Get… – No comment.
- Hauschka – Foreign Landscapes – This is the CD I inadvertently acquired after last month’s Hauschka concert.
- Jason Isbell – Southeastern – This is a good record, but I don’t really understand why the guy who rang me up practically peed himself in excitement when I bought it. It’s not that good.
- Damien Jurado – Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son – Damien Jurado is reliable.
- the Oscillators – Let’s Rock Instead! – I’d been looking for a copy of this garage pop CD for over two years. Going into 2014, it was in the #3 slot on my Most Wanted Music list. I’d even gone so far as to write an email to the guy who runs the label that released it, Stereorrific Recordings. He ignored me, but it turns out I didn’t need his help after all. All I needed to do was check Amazon’s product listing 750 mornings in a row until somebody put up a copy.
- Rich Arithmetic – Sleep in a Wigwam – There’s hardly any information about Rich Arithmetic on the internet. I bought this mysterious release because it was recorded by Conrad Uno at Egg Studios and includes a song called “The Elliott Bay Book Club & Surf Joint”. Sometimes all it takes is a knob twiddler I like and a cool song title.
- Spinning Jennies – Pop ‘n Serve – I downloaded Pop ‘n Serve from a power pop blog last year and liked it enough that I immediately went out and bought Full Volume: The Best of Spinning Jennies. I finally tracked down a legit copy of Pop ‘n Serve to replace those dubious mp3s that got me interested in the band in the first place.
- the Windbreakers – Electric Landlady – Somebody out there needs to reissue the entire Windbreakers discography. This is only the second disc of theirs that I’ve managed to find. Fortunately for me, this version includes the six songs from the Any Monkey With a Typewriter EP as bonus tracks. I bought this CD used off the internet, so those extra songs came as a pleasant surprise.
- Donnie Iris – Back on the Streets/King Cool – I bought this as a joke gift, but then decided to keep it when I noticed that some jackass on Amazon is asking $1,999 for a new copy. Maybe I can be less of a jackass and get $30 for it.
- Kim Taylor – So Black, So Bright – I already owned this, but felt bad for the $1 price tag. I regularly buy used copies of this CD and give them to people as gifts. Nobody’s complained yet.
- V/A – Rare on Air: Live Performances, Vol. One – I found this one at Half Price Books for $2. I stuck seven of the songs in iTunes, but couldn’t stomach the rest. When I get rid of that Johnny Bench record, Mark Isham’s “The Moderns” will become the new worst song in my music collection. A ten-minute-long new age song doesn’t belong smack dab in the middle of a KCRW comp. It doesn’t belong anywhere, in fact.
- Greenfield & Cook – Greenfield & Cook
- Greenfield & Cook – Second Album - I found out about these guys in a Shindig! article a couple years ago. Both of their albums were out-of-print back then, but I learned earlier this month that they’d been reissued. I was hoping that Greenfield & Cook would turn out to be the Dutch Simon & Garfunkel, but they really sound more like the Dutch Seals & Crofts. That’s fine with me as I’ve always enjoyed 70s soft rock.
- Yo La Tengo – Tree – Beth gave me this DVD for Christmas. It came with the vinyl figurines shown in the picture. They’re supposed to represent each of the three members of the band, but I can’t tell who’s who. I guess James McNew is the big one.