Saturday, January 30, 2010
Today I found a paperback of Blue Shoe by Anne Lamott at the library bookstore for a dollar, and I grabbed it because it was cheap and the cover is pretty and I adore Anne Lamott even though I've never read one of her novels. (Traveling Mercies and Bird by Bird, however, amaze me every time.) I had a niggling feeling that I already owned it though.
Sure enough, I found it in the bottom of a bag of used bookstore finds. In hardback even.
And I haven't read it yet, which kind of explains why I don't remember buying it.
So hey, anybody wanna read Blue Shoe by Anne Lamott? First person to speak up gets it.
Edit: I have a taker as of 1 am-ish. Proof that sometimes late night Facebook time pays! :)
No. Seriously. You can have it. I don't know if it's any good because, um, I haven't read it yet. And the reviews are pretty split on Amazon, so that kind of scares me. But you can still have it. Just leave a comment with your Twitter or e-mail address and we'll talk.
And then we can read it together. :)
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Book I won from Sarah Cunningham's 25 Days of Giveaways, in all its lame Photoboothed glory. (Why do webcams always make the colors so wonky?) Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne. I've always been curious to read something by him, because he seems like an interesting dude. Looks like it should be a thought-provoking read.
Well, that and the pages are all pretty inside.
Um, yep. Free books make me happy. :)
Monday, January 18, 2010
Melody Olson - All These Things
Genre: Acoustic-based singer/songwriter folksy pop
Where I got it: At Melody's CD release show in Orlando, January 30, 2009 // Buy online here!
Background: After several years touring as a backup singer for Sara Groves, Melody Olson releases a debut album of her own songs. The Groves factor is unmistakable, but the songs shimmer with Melody's youthful voice and personality.
Verdict: Okay, I admit. I was probably inclined to take an interest in her music since her sister in law is my friend. :) But when I saw her performance, I was in for something far more than I ever expected! Melody has a beautiful voice and a gift for songwriting, and every track sparkles in its own way. Fans of Sara Groves and the more singer/songwriterly side of Christian music owe it to themselves to get to know her now. I'm excited to see what the future holds for Melody!
Highlights: "All These Things," "Gone," "Let Love Win," "Too Late"
Leiahdorus - Sirens EP
Genre: Swoontastic, oddly organic synthpop
Where I got it: iTunes (yay gift card!) // Buy online at iTunes!
Background: Leiahdorus stole my heart years ago with it's unique marriage of synthpop and acoustic piano sensibilities. After releasing an amazing debut and an okay follow up on indie synth label A Different Drum, Leiahdorus seemed to drop off the planet, until a mysterious little song called "They Have Eyes" appeared on MySpace, heralding signs of life.
Verdict: Sirens EP reintroduces Leiahdorus with a new label and bigger sound than ever, and if these five songs are any indication, their third album is going to be epic. I've been listening to "They Have Eyes" on MySpace for so long that hearing the full quality version from iTunes was a huge treat, and though this could quickly be pegged the best track, the songs that follow are every bit as good. "Snow in July" almost has a retro synthpop vibe, "Forward Blindly" thumps with energy reminiscent The Echoing Green, and the almost-seven-minute "Blankets" brings back some of the beautifully moody piano melodies they're known for. Worth the wait for fans; dirt cheap enough that it's worth a try for those closet synth lovers out there.
Highlights: "They Have Eyes," "Snow in July," "Blankets"... oh, just buy the whole thing, k?
So, how's this format? I figure as new music comes into my life, these mini-reviews will be fun to keep me in practice when I don't have a JFH deadline staring me down.
Though um... I am working on my Fireflight review for February 9. Really. Promise. :)
In the meantime... I still got ten bucks left on that iTunes card I need to use. Suggestions? I have tons of albums that I want in mind, but picking just one is so hard.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
I have to say, it's really fun to revisit this series a couple years after finishing it, mostly because when you know how it ends and who's who and all the secrets are out, you can pay more attention to the little details and nuances that show that J.K. Rowling didn't just sit down and bang out a bunch of books one after another. Her attention to detail without making it any less than a fun, easy read of an adventure tale show that she has earned her success for sure! (Not to be confused with other wildly popular series that I will not mention by name lest the sparkly vampires and hormonal werewolves hunt me down... oops. I've already said too much.)
I love the way Sorcerer's Stone introduces the main characters and their unique personalities and sets the greater story arc in motion. The first few chapters show us probably the most rotten substitute parents since Roald Dahl, but when the Hagrid sweeps Harry into the wizarding world, the magic happens (yes, pun totally intended.) The alternate England on the other side of Diagon Alley is alive and imaginative... and somehow more real than life on Privet Drive.
Sure, it's a neat, quick, light read, and in hindsight, certainly not the best of the series. Some parts fell really rushed and simplified, especially after the depth of the later books. But it's a great introduction that's fun for kids and adults before the darker twists in the tale begins. It's also great to see how much the writing and storytelling improve over the years, and how deftly Rowling allows the characters to grow and mature without sacrificing the identities she showed us in the first book.
What I learned about writing: Stay true to your characters. Let them grow and move and change, but never forget who they are. Details and subtle foreshadowing work wonders (ugh... guess that means I should outline! :)). And there's a lot of power in a simple story of good and evil, even for (as Dr. Seuss lovingly put it) "obsolete children."
Yay, first completed part of a reading challenge! Six months + six more HP books... um, gotta read faster! :)
Friday, January 15, 2010
Put a bunch of musicians on stage at 12:30 in the morning, and awesome happens.
And for fun... here's the song that started it all. Beatles cover for the win.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Ever since hearing about the earthquake, the climbing death toll, the devastation, I can't stop thinking about it. My friend Melony was there on a mission trip when the earthquake hit (still there, actually), and somehow, I guess that makes it more real to me. She and her group are safe and trying to get home, but I don't imagine anything could prepare them for this.
And at the same time, I find it strange -- and sadly typical -- that while thousands have been devastated and are struggling to pick up the pieces, we're buzzing about Pat Robertson's commentary. You know... the bit about the nation being so poor and wrecked because of a pact with Satan a couple hundred years ago?
I should be really infuriated by it, but somehow, I'm starting to believe there are deeper things that should concern us. Maybe a little religious-with-a-dash-of-political controversy helps take our minds off the pain? While I certainly don't want it to appear that he speaks for all of us, at the same time, I'm kind of tired of these controversies popping up every time there's a disaster and dividing us over ideologies.
I'm tired of these fights that are small skirmishes compared to the greater tragedies. Donald Miller had some pretty good thoughts on the Robertson debacle that I would rather share than add my two cents to the noise. A sane, grace-filled response if I ever saw one.
"Then the singing began. Those gathered outside tents, on lawn chairs, sitting in the middle of empty streets, sang their hymns. One phrase in Creole could be heard repeatedly both inside and outside the hospital walls, as if those voicing the words were trying to make sense of the madness around them.
'Beni Swa Leternel,' they sang. 'Blessed be the Lord.'" (NY Times)
Beautiful things are happening too. Organizations are immediately jumping in with aid, Twitter was abuzz with calls for donations and help and prayer. Hope's kind of like that, creeping into the darkness to fill it with light. I want to believe that in the end, love and grace win.I'm sure we all want to help... and I'd encourage you to first, pray. Then give something away... to The Red Cross (you can give $10 just by texting Haiti to 90999!), World Vision, Compassion International, or Samaritan's Purse to help with the relief effort.
It may not seem like much, but anything and everything helps.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
1) She's got book coming out soon called Picking Dandelions that looks to be good stuff.
2) She's a real live person on Twitter and not a spam bot. (As I happily discovered when I saw her in my followers list between AltHistorian22 and MrMarkCool. And when I followed back and got a non-auto DM to say hello. omgrealpeople!)
2) She refers to her 8-month-old son as "the emperor," and that's pretty hilarious.
3) She's doing book giveaways every day until her new book drops on Feb 1st.
And come on... what's easier than entering a blog giveaway? Leave some comments, join a discussion, maybe make some friends. It's fun!
Okay, so I'm also extra happy that I actually won a book the other day. (Free books = nerdjoy.) Thought I'd share the joy with you. :)
Monday, January 11, 2010
So yeah. Music's pretty important to me. And in an effort to share the melodic joy with you without overdoing it, I thought I'd try introducing a weekly bit called Music Monday. It's totally a longform rip off of the #musicmonday Twitter meme, but I think it'll be a fun regular sort of feature. We'll see what happens! :)
I was going to start with some reflections of 2009 favorites, but changed my mind. Instead, I'd rather talk about the first concert of the year... and what a great kick-off to 2010 it was!
Heavy and Light, hosted by To Write Love on Her Arms, appears to be an annual fixture in Orlando. Makes sense, since it's the city where TWLOHA got its start. Last year was amazing, but this year... well, lets just say this year had me sold from the start. (as a self-proclaimed fangirl experiencing the withdrawals of a 2009 without an Anberlin show, I would have gone for Stephen Christian alone.)
Highlights for sure:
- Aaron Marsh's darkly serious, yet tongue-in-cheek funny cover of Paramore's "Misery Business," followed by a surprising duet with Aaron Gillespie: Underoath's "Some Will Seek Forgiveness, Others Escape" Didn't see those coming.
- Stephen Christian giving UCF a shout-out ("Anybody from UCF? This one's for all two of you.") and making fun of Polk County. I love inside jokes.
- The way the artists all performed, joked, and simply had fun together. Whether it was Zach Williams and Aaron Gillespie pairing up for "Where the Streets Have No Name" or Mat Kearney's "Hey, I met this fiddle player backstage and asked her to play a song with me!" bit, it's fun to see people do more than just play their own stuff and get off-stage. Adds to the spontaneous, relaxed atmosphere.
- The encores! At the end of Heavy and Light, all the artists come play a song together. Last year, it was "A Little Help from My Friends" by The Beatles. This year, it was a double treat of "Stand by Me" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." So much fun!
- It didn't feel like a "scene" show. Which is great for me... love the music, but I always feel out of place when I'm surrounded by emo kids and hipsters. This was more like something everyone could connect with and enjoy.
Downsides... well... 4.5 hours is a loooooong time for any show, and that was with everyone playing only 4 - 6 songs each. The rapid-fire short sets kept it moving, but sometimes, I just wanted to hear a little more from my favorites.
And I'm sorry Mr. Tworkowski, I know you want to be president of the Anis Mojgani fan club, and I really wanted to like the poetry part... but in the end, it just didn't do it for me. Does that make me an evil elitist literature snob? I hope not.
I won't ramble on and on. If you want, you can still watch the whole thing on SyncLive as it was webcast Saturday night. It was a great night that represents all that TWLOHA is about, and will definitely be something I'll look forward to every January.
(This review was so much better in my head. :P)
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Accomplished: Thought about writing. Poked around the Internet. Downloaded AIM. Made a Heavy and Light playlist to help me get pumped for Saturday. It looks like this (click for big):
Yay, procrastination. Can't win 'em all.
But yeah... TWLOHA's Heavy and Light this weekend! So excited... I haven't been to House of Blues in way too long, and last year's event was a beautiful start to the new year. And this year's lineup doesn't disappoint either. Only thing that could have made it even better would be Jon Foreman again, but that's okay!
Still... Zach Williams (who is awesome and you've probably never heard of him so go listen right now kthx), Aaron Marsh, Aaron Gillespie, *and* Stephen Christian all in one night = my head might explode from musical joy.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Yep. That. That's why I started blogging in the first place (Livejournal, circa 2002. I would share the link, but it's embarrassing). Nobody really cared, but a few people did, and we had fun blogging and commenting and playing on the Interwebs, dangit.
All that to say, I have a few random observations from a day that basically consisted of a haircut, spending some gift cards, and staring at my notebook/computer screen in a writer's block gridlock. In the Livejournal days, that would be worth a blog post such as this:
#1) Even a little haircut makes me feel infinitely awesome. If you need a hair person and are within reasonable driving distance of downtown Mt. Dora, FL, Pure Aveda is the bomb. (They did not pay me to say that... I just love 'em that much.)
#2) Trying on jeans does not make me feel awesome.
#3) Whoever invented and/or made skinny jeans popular needs to be punched in the face. Unless you have 0% body fat, you probably cannot or should not wear them. And yet, they're everywhere. Go figure.
#4) I kind of feel bad for all the people I haven't followed back on Twitter, but it's so hard to figure out who's real/a potential Twitter friend and who's just trying to sell me crap. Just weeded through my first page of followers, and I think I found two people. Which is sad, because I like making new Twitter friends.
#5) Speaking of selling crap... there's still a day or two to vote for me in the NYC Midnight Tweet Me a Story Contest! Check as many as you want, but don't forget mine... um, please?
#6) It's almost 1 am. I think I'm developing insomnia. Or just really wonky sleeping patterns.
#7) This is as mundane and pointless as blog posts get, but I liked writing it. It's like Twitter randomness, only longer. :)
Friday, January 1, 2010
#1: J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Begin: December 29 * End: January 16
#2: Thomas a Kempis - The Imitation of Christ
Begin: December 29 * End: April 14
#3: Rob Bell - Velvet Elvis
Begin: January 17 * End: Abandoned :(
#4: Matthew Paul Turner - Hear No Evil
Begin: January 29 * End: February 4
#5: J.D. Salinger - The Catcher in the Rye
Begin: January 30 * End: February 18
#6: Sarah Cunningham - Picking Dandelions
Begin: February 18 * End: March 8
#7: J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Begin: I don't remember. * End: March 27
#8: Sarah Dessen - Just Listen
Begin: March 27 * End: March 30
#9: Neil Gaiman - The Graveyard Book
Begin: March 28 * End: April 3
#10: Jason Boyett - O Me of Little Faith
#11: Andrew Farley - The Naked Gospel
#12: Leif Enger - Peace Like a River
#13: Flanner O'Connor - The Complete Stories
#14: Krista Finch - As Is: Unearthing Commonplace Glory
#15: James Patterson - Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment
#16: Rachel Held Evans - Evolving in Monkey Town
Begin: June 23 *
#17: Maggie Stiefvater - Shiver
Begin: June 25 * End: June 28
* 2009 * 2008 (abandoned and incomplete) * 2007 (list that started it all!) *