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Book 22: Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood - Mick LaSalle

This was a great look at women in Pre-Code. The author clearly worships the period and heavily mourns it at the same time making it very satisfying to read. Basically with Pre-Code, women were in control of their lives and afterwards their freedom was taken away by the punishing and suffocating women’s picture to come after. Films were being made that actually had women making decisions for them and were doing what they wanted without being punished for it. Norma Shearer and Greta Garbo get the most attention. Shearer’s combination of life force, sexual freedom and carefree attitude made her a unique persona in Pre-Code that could not be matched by anyone. Unfortunately her brand of lifestyle could not be supported in Post Code films and she was delegated to the role she is sadly the most famous for. While I really enjoy The Women the end of it has always ruined it for me and Shearer herself called the role “too noble” and does at the end the exact opposite of what a character of hers would have done in Pre-Code days. Something that was interesting about Garbo was how her brand of character transferred over perfectly after the Code was enforced. She turned the vamp from an evil seductress to a more complicated figure. Eventually her character type was religiously symbolic and almost always sacrificial. This fit in very well with the Post-Code morals of a free lifestyle of a woman needing to be punished at the end. Thus, Garbo made some of her most successful films. The rest of the book goes through the different issues dealt with in Pre-Code films relating to women and the types of content that could be found. It also goes through a lot of the stars and the types of roles they found themselves playing. While the book annoyingly goes through the rest of film history citing everything that it wrong with subsequent films and actresses, the initial Post Code material was a fascinating read. I expect Dangerous Men, the counterpart to this, to be interesting but certainly not this interesting. Pre-Code was a women’s world and this book is a loving and authentic tribute to that.

Book 21: Damage - Josephine Hart

Book 21 - Damage - Josephine Hart

Since I have wanted to see this film for a while both from my own interest and from my aunt and boyfriend having admiration for it, I decided to finally read this so I can watch the film. It was a very short read, only clocking in at 200 pages. Overall I liked it but did not love it. It seems that it could potentially make a great film though because it would be so simple to adapt. My problem with it was its repetitive qualities. I know it is supposed to be examining primal feelings and instinct but after a while it is annoying to be stuck with the protagonists point of view after a while. The prosw was nice and simple but quite effective which is what saved it. The conversations between him and Ingrid after the climax of the story are the highlights of the book. Also, the visit with Anna's mother and the protagonist (he has no name) and his conversation with Martyn later in the story. I liked how vague the sex scenes were. They were explicit but not explicit at the same time. I guess in the end it was just such a simple and predictable story that it was hard to fully engulf myself into it. Also, since the sexual relationship gets started immediately it is hard to be invested in them in any way, shape or form. Overall I definitely enjoyed this but I was not blown away. I definitely plan on watching the Louis Malle film later tonight. Finally.

The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls


I have no idea what to say about The Glass Castle that is going to separate it from other memoirs. It must be said though that it is different from other memoirs because Jeanette Walls creates her portrait of her parents and upbringing with absolute objectivity and lack of judgment or reflection. This makes her stories untainted and easier to dissect as things that have happened. Every paragraph is filled with an incident that could have filled pages of a less intense memoir. Jeanette’s parents are both completely unaware of how to bring up children. Jeannette has two sisters (Lori and Maureen) and a brother (Brian). Her mother Rose Mary is a self-proclaimed ‘excitement addict’ who resents having children. Their father Rex is an alcoholic who seems to care about his kids more than the mother but is just as bad at raising anybody. I cannot explain how incredible this book is. Everybody who is alive should read it. Reading about the kids and their remarkable resilience is just a testament to humanity’s endurance and their obliviousness to the fact that they are not a normal family is disturbing and sad. However, their slow realization that their parents are not good parents and that their slow but steady search for independence is fascinating from a psychological point of view. This entire book is fascinating from a psychological point of view. The relationship between Jeannette and her father Rex is tragic and moving to say the least. It had me crying more than once. There is a reason that this book is so popular, so critically acclaimed and so universally read. It is amazing; absolutely amazing. I cannot even begin to get into the reasons that this book is as unbelievable as it is. Just read it as soon as possible. I know a lot of people hate the objectivity of this and the repetitiveness of it but I love the style of it and the sparseness in the description. It is just straight-forward and moving and encompassing. I apologize for all of this sounding vague but it is because I honestly would not even know how to begin talking about all of the stuff going on in this book.  

From a Crooked Rib

This was quite a quick read and was read for a book club that a friend and I were not able to go to. However, I am glad to have read it. While it was not as engaging or involving as I wished, it is hard to find anything bad to say against it. It simply was good and not great. It tells the story of a young woman from Somalia who runs away from home after being set in an arranged marriage by her grandfather. The book takes place in a very short period of time, less than a month. Her experiences highlight the gender roles and atrocities regularly committed against females in that particular culture. The most impressive aspect of the book is Ebla and her perspective on things. Her thoughts are intricate and while she has progressive thoughts throughout the book, the author never lets her upbringing be forgotten and many of her thoughts are rooted in her specific cultural perspective. Ebla is endearing and consistently interesting to read which helped make the book enjoyable and the insight into Somalian culture was well done. Also, it is impressive that a man wrote this and was able to make Elba feel like a real woman. I may not have been crazy about it but I also have nothing bad to say.

Checklist of Movies I Have to Watch

This is the mostly comprehensive list of films I have in my possession that I need to watch. Most of them I have and a few I know I have but I need to find them as I know I brought them back. Add to this list The Red Shoes and Joint Security Area which should be coming on Netflix in the coming week. 100 pages into The Girl who Played with Fire, 150 pages into Lives of the Muses (which I'm more than a little obsessed with). Hopefully going to start both or either of the South Korean series IRIS and Chuno. Very excited about both.

Alias Betty
All the Real Girls
The Atomic Cafe
Bad Taste
Ballad of Jack and Rose
Barton Fink
The Bishop's Wife
Broken Flowers
City of Lost Children
The Countess
The Crow
Curse of the Cat People
Death Race 2000
The Dinner Game
The Ghost Ship
Girl on a Motorcycle
The Gold Diggers of 35
Happiness of the Katakuris
Inland Empire  
I Walked with a Zombie
The Leopard Man

Little Dieter Needs to Fly
Memento Mori
Memories of Murder

Murderous Maids
Pom Poko
Rollerball (1975)
Straw Dogs
Talk to Her
That Obscure Object of Desire
When We Were Kings
You Can Count on Me (if it works which it won't)
You're Gonna Miss Me
Zombi 2


Came back from Matt's today. Sad to never see the apartment again. Unpacked my movies and relistened to stuff today. Am completely overwhelmed/unbelievably excited to start reading all of the comics Sarah and Ray so kindly lent me! I hope to start tonight. So much I want to do! Have a ton of stuff to watch as well but I'd like to get started on these comics for a couple of days first. Plus reorganizing everything will take up most of my time. Have officially seen every Curb episode. I think I prefer it slightly over Seinfeld simply because I like a format so much more and it makes me laugh a bit more overall. It's a close call though and obviously both are amazing. Bought the most recent issue of The Boys and Fables so that I can finally start buying them myself! Yay! I think that is it for now. Also, Julia Stiles is in talks for a major role on this seasons Dexter which is so exciting.

75 Graphic Novel Challenge: Book 22
House of Mystery Volume 1: Room and Boredom - Matthew Sturges and Bill Willingham

I was worried that this would suck. Why? Because while I love Willingham, the Willingham-Sturges team did Jack of Fables which I went from not liking to more not liking, to enjoying it (kind of) to hating it again. But this I actually enjoyed. I thought it started out better than where we left off. Issue 1 might have been my favorite. I know it can stand alone as its own series but it is part of the Sandman universe. However, either I do not remember this or I have not gotten up to it yet so I am not really reading it with that context. I also read none of its original incarnation from the 50's to 80's.I really like the concept of the series a lot and it leaves room for a lot of creativity and innovation. The characters are a little too archetypal for me as of now but maybe that is the point. They are still an interesting bunch though. Fig's narratino works really well. Sturges writes the main story material and WIllingham contributes as the writer of the anthology stories even though certain issues feature different writers filling in for that aspect. Each issue has a dfiferent story within the main ongoing one from a different illustrator as well. Some of them work such as The Hollows but several have been underwhelming and outright bad. I wish maybe the horror levels had gone a bit further. Overall I really do like it and am excited to see where it goes.

2010 300 Album Challenge: #257-266

There were some definite first-listen duds for me here.

257. Paul's Boutique - Beastie Boys - This was great with some amazing uses of sampling. "Eggman" was the standout. Licensed to Ill stood out more for me but this is definitely more impressive as an album and both are fantastic.
258. Soul Discharge - Boredoms - This was difficult to get into because it's so inaccessible. I want to give it several shots but I'm not sure how much I'll be able to get into this album.
259. Young Americans - David Bowie - I liked this more than I thought I would but I still only liked it. It was more successful than I thought but overall not one of my favorites.
260. You Forgot it in People - Broken Social Scene - This was ok. I know it's supposed to be amazing but I thought it sounded like a lot of other stuff out there.
261. The Kick Inside - Kate Bush - I love this woman. I cannot wait to become a fan of hers. Both of the albums I've heard are amazing. This was fantastic.
262. American Beauty - Grateful Dead - Not my thing at all. It wasn't bad and I get the acclaim but I was just very bored overall. I kept forgetting that music was actually on when I was listening to it.
263. The Idiot - Iggy Pop - I loved this. This and Lust for Life are just completely impressive from start to finish. "Dum Dum Boys" was probably my favorite and "Mass Production" was wonderfully unsettling.
264. Too Much Too Soon - New York Dolls - I was really uninterested in this. I might have even liked their debut more. I don't think I liked any song and the music was completely uninteresting for me.
265. Millions Now Living Will Never Die - Tortoise - I really liked this a lot. It was just very solid straight through.
266. Wavves - Wavves - I was bored by this too. And I hated the names of their songs. So annoying.

2010 300 Album Challenge: #207-216

Really solid group.

207. Friend Opportunity - Deerhoof - Could I love them anymore? At this point; no. Another great album. "Kidz are so Small" is probably my favorite. One of the weirdest and coolest songs I've ever heard. I desperately loved all of this and they are easily one of my favorite bands. Easily.
208. Before the Dawn Heals Us - M83 - Loved this as well. Not sure which of theirs I like more. There was one song that I really hated though so it sort of lost a few points there. Everything else I really loved though and I can't wait to work through more of their discography.
209. Curiouser - Kate Miller-Heidke - So I was in Barnes and Noble yesterday and I was in their long enough to hear this entire album. And it made me want to stab forks into my ears. I fucking hated everything about this music. It was terrible and unappealing. Boring but also completely obnoxious. Disgusting. But then they played The xx afterwards and the world became good again.
210. Yesterday was Dramatic - Today was Ok - mum - I liked this but I need to listen to it again to know how much. They created really interesting soundscapes which was cool. Overall it wasn't something I completely attached myself to but it was definitely something I enjoyed.
211. The Modern Dance - Pere Ubu - Loved all of this. Classic post-punk and so consistent. Can't wait to hear this more.
212. Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde - Pharcyde - Really fun light-hearted hip-hop. This was just a lot of fun and it never took itself all that seriously which made it amusing throughout and a good time overall. Really liked this.
213. Dummy - Portishead - Loved this. I just love their sound and this is a real trip-hop winner. It sucks that they only have 3 albums but it also allows me to appreciate each of them more. Can't wait to hear the other two because I really loved all of this.
214. Parable of Arable Land - Red Krayola - This was freaking awesome. Totally whacked out psych with structured songs interspersed with free form tracks. Loved all of this especially "Hurricane Fighter Plane" which is one of the greatest songs I've ever heard. Right up my alley. Awesome.
215. Playing with Fire - Spaceman 3 - This was one of those albums that will take me a while to gauge how much I like. Some of the songs were fantastic like the 11 minute "Suicide" and others I felt indifferent towards. It has some elements of Pavement though and anything with Pavement elements makes me categorize it in the Pavement effect pile which means any indifference I have cannot be taken as a concrete opinion because that's how I initially felt about them and now I love them. So...I really liked this but I think I'd like it a lot more if I heard it a ton of times.
216. Life's Too Good - The Sugarcubes - Loved this so much. My broad comments become so redudant so quickly. It lost itself a little bit after the first song and I enjoyed the second half a lot more overall but this was so good and it's really cool to hear Bjork in a different context.

300 Album Challenge

Another goal for myself unlikely to be completed. Oh well. 300 is definitely a bit high compared to where I am right now. However, over the next 4 years or so I want to be an avid enough listener of music to know my way around an intelligent and knowledgable conversation pertaining to it. As of now I can definitely hold my own as a listener of conversations about music (which is an improvement in and of itself) but as a contributor, it's best just to stay back right now. Either way, at least three listens in fill are neccesary but when I decide to use those listens can take place at any time. I also need to keep track because I would like to take albums I do not like very much and go back to them in years to come. At least some of them. Fuck some of them. Something potentially very new to the ear is impossible to get ahold of quickly. First listens don't mean all that much. I've experienced hating something at first, going back to it a year later and hearing something completely different. And vice versa. So I try to keep that into account. I decided to list out the next 25 albums I plan to listen to so I can conciously be listening to a variety of time periods. My current bunch though has a focus on the 60's, being my favorite decade in music and the baroque pop within that decade and also albums of 2009 and 2010. But alphabetically these are the albums I have listened to this year so far. I'll give thoughts for subsequent listens but no scores. When I gave scores last year it felt awkward. I didn't like it. I don't think it's possible to score an album on a first listen and if it is possible, then I don't agree with their logic at all. It was a mistake last year to do that. Anyways, I'll update for every 5 albums I listen to but here is the year so far:

2010: 300 Albums Challenge:

1.      Humbug – Arctic Monkeys

2.      Two Suns - Bat for Lashes

3.      Teen Dream - Beach House

4.      March of the Zapotec/Holland EP – Beirut

5.      Homogenic – Bjork

6.      200 Million Thousand – Black Lips

7.      Helen of Troy – John Cale

8.      My Maudlin Career – Camera Obscura

9.      Three Imaginary Boys – The Cure

10. The Hazards of Love - The Decemberists

11. Farm - Dinosaur Jr.

12. Bitte Orca - Dirty Projectors

13. Time to Die – The Dodos

14. Kingdom of Rust - Doves

15. Together Through Life – Bob Dylan 

16. Another Green World – Brian Eno

17. Fever Ray - Fever Ray

18. Embryonic – Flaming Lips

19. Tonight: Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand

20. Tarot Sport – Fuck Buttons

21.  IRM - Charlotte Gainsbourg

22. Album – Girls

23. Plastic Beach – Gorillaz

24. High Places – High Places

25. Post-Nothing – Japandroids

26. The Blueprint – Jay-Z

27. Go - Jonsi

28. A Single Man Soundtrack – Abel Korzeniowski and Shigeru Umebayashi

29. The Fame Monster - Lady Gaga

30. Sisterworld – Liars 

31. Realism - Magnetic Fields

32. Years of Refusal – Morrissey 

33. Have One on Me - Joanna Newsom

34. Dig! Lazarus Dig! – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

35. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

36. Heartland - Owen Pallett

37. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix – Pheonix

38. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II – Raekwon

39. Volume 2 - She and Him

40. Actor - St. Vincent

41. Illinois – Sufjan Stevens

42. The Wild Hunt - The Tallest Man on Earth

43. The Low-End Theory – A Tribe Called Quest

44. XX – The XX

45. Contra - Vampire Weekend

46. Odd Blood – Yeasayer

Top 70 Albums

This is a tentative Top 70 Albums List I Made. Several things are not on it because I am not familiar enough with the album. Others because it has ben a while and I do not have the album on my computer. Not many fell into that category though. And a lot did not make it because I have yet to listen to it haha. My complete absense of rap/hip hop has nothing to do with me not liking it, it has to do with me being exposed to so little. Believe me I have some important 90's and 00's hip hop on my list of things to listen to. This is probably not completely accurate as with any list. But I think its pretty ball park accurate. I chose 70 because it was the amount that felt very solid to me without having to struggle to come up with a number like 100. It also forced me to be a bit strict with what made it. So eventually I will tack things on here as I listen to more and hopefully eventually have a Top 100.

Top 50 Favorite Albums:

1. Love – Forever Changes
2. Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
3. Leonard Cohen – The Songs of Leonard Cohen
4. Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes
5. Talking Heads – ‘77
6. Nico – Chelsea Girl
7. Radiohead – Kid A
8. Velvet Underground – Velvet Underground and Nico
9. Radiohead – In Rainbows
10. Arcade Fire – Funeral
11. Lou Reed - Transformer
12. The B-52’s – The B-52’s
13. Patti Smith – Horses
14. The Smiths – The Smiths
15. Talking Heads – Fear of Music
16. The Zombies – Odessey and Oracle
17. Talking Heads – Remain in Light
18. David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
19. The Smiths – The Queen is Dead
20. Joanna Newsom – Ys
21. Simon and Garfunkel - Bookends
22. Radiohead – OK Computer
23. Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
24. Simon and Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence
25. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Tender Prey
26. Leonard Cohen – Songs of Love and Hate
27. Echo and the Bunnymen – Ocean Rain
28. Joanna Newsom – The Milk Eyed Mender
29. The Pixies – Surfer Rosa
30. The Beatles – Revolver
31. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
32. The Cranberries – No Need to Argue
33. Garbage – Version 2.0
34. Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks
35. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
36. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
37. Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
38. John Cale – Paris 1919
39. Leonard Cohen – New Skin for the Old Ceremony
40. Lou Reed – Berlin
41. The Pixies - Doolittle
42. Leonard Cohen – Songs from a Room
43. Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
44. Cat Stevens – Tea for the Tillerman
45. Devo – Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
46. TV on the Radio – Return to Cookie Mountain
47. Tom Waits – Rain Dogs
48. Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run
49. Air – Talkie Walkie
50. Gary Numan – The Pleasure Principle
51. David Bowie – Hunky Dory
52. Jefferson Airplane – Surrealistic Pillow
53. Pink Floyd – Piper at the Gates of Dawn
54. Neil Young – Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
55. Radiohead – The Bends
56. Blondie – Parallel Lines
57. M.I.A - Kala
58. Radiohead – Amnesiac
59. Nirvana - Nevermind
60. The Decemberists – Picaresque
61. T. Rex – Electric Warrior
62. Coldplay - X&Y
63. Brian Eno – Here Comes the Warm Jets
64. Nirvana – In Utero
65. M.I.A – Arular
66. Beirut – Gulag Orkester
67. Daniel Johnston - Fun
68. Air – Moon Safari
69. No Doubt – Return to Saturn
70. The Killers – Hot Fuss

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July 2010


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