A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Friday, January 28, 2005


I've been writing about my friend Lara Michell a lot lately. She's a busy girl, what with her solo CD release and the D2 tribute night. This coming Wednesday, she is debuting with yet another band, The Stolen Sweets. They will be playing every Wednesday through March at the Laurelthirst Pub. Information on the venue is on their site. Also on their site is a downloadable six-track demo that you have to check out.

Here, also, is a copy of the poster for the show, which you can click on for a larger version:

The Stolen Sweets are working in the style of 1920s and '30s jazz, inspired mainly by the three-part vocal harmonies of the Boswell Sisters. In addition to Lara, the other vocalists include Jen Bernard (also part of one of Lara's other projects, Carmina Luna, who also have a demo online) and Erin Sutherland (veteran of many Portland bands). Fans of '90s indie music will also recognize Pete Krebs, leader of Hazel back in the day.

A quick lookaround their site and sampling the demos will show the care these folks are putting into this band. This is no mere re-creation, but a bonafide project put together by people who love the music. I'm definitely going out for the first night, this coming Wednesday, February 2nd, and plan to hit several more if I can. So, those of you who are under the same gray skies as myself, you have plenty of opportunities; the rest of you, download the music and enjoy, and maybe drop the band a line to say you liked it.

And since I am in hype mode, Lara also has a show on February 12, a CD release with the band Dirty Martini. Details can be found on their site.

Current Soundtrack: Violent Femmes, Why Do Birds Sing?

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2004 Jamie S. Rich

Thursday, January 27, 2005


A new, much-delayed installment of my DVD column is now online. Read "Can You Picture That?" here.

Current Soundtrack: Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Greatest Palace Music

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


Last Saturday's Duran Duran tribute night that I mentioned in a previous entry went down a storm. The performers raised over $1,200 for Tsunami charities, and the place was packed with people into the music and who had dressed up in '80s garb to participate in the contest. Some of it was a little too cheesy for my taste--I get a little bit tired of everything about the decade having to be made fun of, and Duran Duran in particular was the first band that really mattered to me--but that was made up for by excellent renditions of songs like "Election Day," "The Chauffeur," and "The Wild Boys."

This is what you want...

For my own fashion contribution, I went with a dark suit and a bright red shirt. I like to think of it as hearkening to Tender Prey-era Nick Cave, without me being quite as smooth. Turns out, I had accidentally stumbled onto something else. Two guys came up to me and asked me if I was supposed to be anything in particular, and I said not really, because I never tell the truth to strangers. "Well," one said, "you look like you could be in Kraftwerk!" He then produced a copy of the Kraftwerk album where they are all dressed in red shirts with skinny black ties and black pants--on vinyl no less. (Jen tells me this is The Man-Machine, which is not what I referenced in my post of the same name; I was thinking Robbie Williams.) I have no idea why the guy would be carrying the record album with him. I envision it's in case of an emergency. "No one panic! I have Kraftwerk with me, and if we all stay calm, we'll all get out of here alive!" Is there a doctor in the house? "No, but I have a 12" of 'Tour De France'!"

...this is what you get.

I don't drink often, so when I do go out, my tolerance level is pretty low. I have learned that if I am drinking scotch, the best thing to do is stop at two drinks. Saturday, I made it up to five. In this state, I end up stalking the room, the aforementioned Mr. Cave's proverbial leopard "coming down with some kind of nervous hysteria" (it turns out he actually says "leper" when you look the quote up, but I like my misheard version better). I am also known to catch myself muttering murderous threats about people who annoy me, half-giggling at my own immorality, but since I had plenty of folks who I wanted to speak to this night, I ended up talking at a mile-a-minute to them--though, the violent themes held, as I offered to beat up someone's boyfriend for her. I don't know who I think I am kidding. I haven't been in a fight since tenth grade! But I tell you, I beat that guy so bad, he's still feeling it!

But, I reserved my most ridiculous antics for a victim I did not know. (And yes, I am well aware that drunk stories are often quite boring, but I like this one.)

Now, it should be known, that I am blessed with a pretty accurate memory of my inebriated episodes, as well as a full knowledge of how goofy I am being at the time of said episodes. It's like, I'm aware that I am being a dork, but I can't stop it, compelled to live out my horror. These things are the consequences that balance out my superpower--that I am never hungover. I wake up the next day just fine. All of this held true for me this weekend.

Meaning that when I went to the coat check girl, I knew fully well I was being a weirdo. I grabbed all of the coins in my pocket and dropped them in her tip jar. "I don't have a coat with you," I informed her. "I actually stashed it in one of the back corners, but I feel guilty about not using your service, so I am tipping you anyway."

I left her and walked across the room to my friend Lara, laughing at myself as I went. "Lara," I said, "I am a wicked boy and I throw myself on your mercy." I told her what I had done, and added, "I think this proves I need a ride home, because if I walk, I will be robbed and left to bleed alcohol in the street."

Lara agreed. I wasn't done, though; I went back across the room to the coat check and asked the girl, "Is that the first time anyone has ever done that?" I suspected as much, you see.

She said it was a new one for her. "And what makes it even better, you even gave me pennies!"

Right on. I am a souse with originality!

Current Soundtrack: Erasure, Hits: The Best of...

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2004 Jamie S. Rich

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Today Low released a new record called The Great Destroyer. I walked down to the nearest record store just after they opened, and then rushed back home, ripped off the wrapping, and put the sucker on. It made me feel kind of nostalgic. I can't remember the last time an album has been released and I hadn't already heard it. I had missed that special feeling of actually holding it in my hands, having no idea what was inside, seeing the packaging, puzzling over the song names. You don't get that in the digital age, where sometimes you can download albums months in advance. (The new Erasure album came out today, too, and I've been listening to it since November.) I know there will be a day in our future where such associations are gone (the ridiculous scam that is the iPod Shuffle is the attempt to start marketing us away from tangible media), where books and records and movies are no longer objects that require shelves, but I hold out hope that there will always be folks who are just a little bit crazy and who will want things done the "old way." Cassettes were the main mode of transport when I got into music, yet I ended up loving vinyl. Here's to the future versions of me!

My instant reaction to The Great Destroyer is one of intense like. I end up questioning, though, where my satisfaction with it lies. Is it just because it's a good record or because it's a good Low record? I am sure much is going to be made of the supposed shift in sound, away from the quiet drones played as simply as possible, moving towards more complex arrangements and melodies, a la the single "Canada" off of their last album, Trust. But really, it's not that drastic, and certainly not unprecedented in their canon. There has been ample evidence that this was coming on recent albums, or if you listen to the 55 tracks in the box set in order, as I did yesterday, you'll hear that the glacier has been steadily melting since the "Lullaby" demo. And the vocals and the guitars on The Great Destroyer still have the same beautiful clarity as one would expect of the band.

So, I find myself asking the question, isn't it the responsibility of fans to grow with the artists we admire? Am I rooted in the same place that I was in when I first saw Low play live in 1994? The club isn't even there anymore, so why would I expect to freeze that moment in time? It seems that the double-edge of having fans is that while they will support you, they can be dastardly in their insistence on the familiar. Their tenth album doesn't have nearly the fire and passion of their first record. Oh, really? That's quite an observation. I've never heard anyone crack open a body of work like that! It's because with the first album, you have your whole life that preceded it to write the tunes, and the next ones, you only get a couple of months. Oh, my goodness! It's as if Aristotle has become a music journalist! The thing about this band is, you either love them or hate them, there is no in-between. I had no idea that Sir Isaac Fucking Newton was amongst us, collecting such scientific data. You mean to say there is no one that couldn't care less in the entire world, who isn't either offended by the sound of this band or completely in love with it? I have never heard anyone be so insightful and make such an observation, oh, in the last five minutes or anything.

Maybe the real message of The Great Destroyer is we need to tear down all these preconceptions that we walk around with. If you think you know an artist, change your approach to how you take in their work, and certainly how you discuss it; in turn, expect them to change what stimulus they give you. (And, yes, that can mean rethinking how said art is delivered to us, too.)

Current Soundtrack: The Primitives, Pure

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2004 Jamie S. Rich

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


I finished the draft of the novella yesterday. Actually, I finished it Monday, but yesterday I did a couple of dialogue tweaks and added a scene that had popped into my head that I think added weight to the tale. Very nervous about this one, it's very different.

Started and finished the first volume of the new manga assignment today. Started in the late morning and worked on through tonight, finishing in time for Law & Order. It's not the fastest I've ever worked--one of the Man of Many Faces volumes was done in three hours, because they forgot to give it to me and it was an emergency, and we do amazing things in emergencies--but I just am feeling muscular these days, what with all the working, and I got on the treadmill and refused to stop.

Tonight I am going to hack away some more at reading a friend's first draft of her first novel, because the longer I take the guiltier I feel.

And Brad Meltzer is a prince. Why is not important. He just is.

Finally, for those of you in Portland looking for something to do Saturday, I am apparently to be a judge of the '80s outfit competition at the Duran Duran tribute night at the Fez (details here), organized by the fabulous Lara Michell. I will likely be inebriated and flirting shamelessly--but only with you, dear, you are my one true, special darling.

Current Soundtrack: Dashboard Confessional, The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2004 Jamie S. Rich

Sunday, January 16, 2005


I think I used that title before, but I'm too lazy to look.

My January movie picks for Trilogy, all of which have a strong female lead, which isn't that different from most months for me:

Belle de Jour, starring Catherine Deneuve, directed by Luis Bunuel

Lady Snowblood, starring Meiko Kaji

The Red Shoes, starring Moira Shearer, from Powell & Pressburger

To Live, starring Gong Li, dir. Zhang Yimou

Witness for the Prosecution, starring Marlene Dietrich, dir. Billy Wilder

I'd be remiss if I didn't toot my own horn about the fact that Maryanne Snell has posted the first ever review of The Everlasting in her blog, 100 Books. Maryanne, in her previous capacity as a retail-type person, probably sold more copies of Cut My Hair than any other single person on the planet, including myself, so it was a given that she'd be on the list to give me feedback on ver. 1.5 of the new book. In her review and in her e-mail, she explained things to me I didn't realize myself. It's been gratifying to get responses so far from various people, all of whom have been tremendously helpful, but this is the first you can read.

I also got jpegs for the color pages of "Kago No Tori," the story I wrote and Guy Davis illustrated for The Dark Horse Book of the Dead anthology. This project just keeps getting better and better. Dave Stewart colored it, and as always, the work is amazing. And apparently Lois Buhalis is going to letter it and do it in the same style she letters manga, to add to the Japanese feel. I'm very proud of this one. It's scheduled for June. I'm also pretty sure I'll be at the Comic Con in San Diego this year, so maybe I'll get to sign a couple.

Current Soundtrack: Meiko Kaji, Zenkyokusyu (thanks, KS!)

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2004 Jamie S. Rich

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Welcome back, back to health,
Back from the edge where we found you.
Back in line, working fine.
I hid my head in irrelevant books.
So tell me, is that where catastrophe looms?

Yes, girls, I'm back. The computer has returned, seems to be running fine. They even fixed the keyboard, so I can actually see things like the M that had rubbed off. One of my shift keys is pretty wimpy, but the unreliable mouse button seems to be better, so I guess its a fair trade.

While I was away, I've been slaving over this novella, which has been really kicking my ass. Expect full details in a few weeks, but suffice to say, there is a certain anxiety that comes with having an agreement to publish and not actually having it done. The issue of finishing it isn't an issue, I am nearly there, but the issue of whether or not I can make it good is what scares me. I had a whole first draft on paper and was halfway through the second when I crashed, losing all but the first five pages. I kept going, though, getting back in the saddle right where I left off and heading straight through to the end, and now that I have started over at the beginning, I realized it was a sort of blessing in a very ugly disguise to have to do so, as I have a better handle on the whole thing. But, man, what a way to have to get there!

I also picked up a new serial manga to replace Gravitation. I am not sure if it's been announced yet, it's not on the Tokyopop site, so mum's the word at the moment.

In other news, Kelly Sue--the Tristan to my Lance--sent me her old digital camera, and if I can get it to work, I can start posting pics here.

Elsewhere, my friend Lara Michell released her third album this week, and she had a smashing party to celebrate it last night. Lara's the author of one of the quotes at the beginning of Cut My Hair, so you should definitely check her out.

Current Soundtrack: Pulp, Hits

Thanks to everyone who used my Amazon links in the last four months. I got a nice gift certificate today! One nice person even bought that silly Cut my Hair thing.

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website

[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2004 Jamie S. Rich