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

Tuesday, January 31, 2006


My first DVD column of 2006 is now online. Go here and read the new installment of "Can You Picture That?". In it, I review Cafe Lumiere (as promised) and Kurosawa's riff on Hamlet, The Bad Sleep Well

This new month also means I have another selection of picks for Trilogy Video. The first three picks are romantic and the first two chosen in particular for the strange, unreal world they create; the final two are comedies about husbands plotting the murders of their wives and are chosen together because one has to wonder if one inspired the other.

* Le Notti Bianche starring Marcello Mastroianni, dir. Luchino Visconti, from a story by Dostoevsky

* Pandora & the Flying Dutchman starring James Mason & Ava Gardner, dir. Albert Lewin

* Sabrina starring Humphrey Bogart & Audrey Hepburn, dir. Billy Wilder

* Unfaithfully Yours starring Rex Harrison, written & directed by Preston Sturges

* Divorce Italian Style starring Marcello Mastroianni, dir. Pietro Germi...and check out the awesome cover by Jaime Hernandez:

Steven Soderbergh's new film Bubble is released on DVD today. It's part of his new five-picture experiment where the movie is released simultaneously in theaters, on disc, and as a download. Only a smattering of movie theatres have participated, so it's hard to say how their business would fare against such competition, but the company is claiming that the other avenues have been successful.

Which makes me wish all the more that the movie itself was, too. Bubble isn't a bad movie, really, but it seems like a rather slight effort to front such a bold mission. Starring non-actors working from only a script outline, it's a simplistic murder mystery. Clocking in at just a little over an hour, I couldn't help but feel the story had somehow gotten a short shrift. Certainly there was more here to be explored, a deeper delving into the feelings of the characters. The real heart of the story is Martha, played by Debbie Doebereiner with a naturalness that conveys a deep interior life. Most of Martha's motivations are below the surface, and first-time actress Doebereiner communicates the inner turmoil through her passive looks and soulful eyes. Given the strength of the performance, it made me want to know more. Why cut away as soon as Martha realizes her own truth? Why not share?

It remains to be seen how the next four films will go, and whether Bubble is merely the first component of something grander. I just hope Soderbergh's refusal to hedge his bet more doesn't cut this risky endeavor off at the knees.

Sales Pitch: I currently have seven auctions for anime DVDs running on eBay. Plase stop by my seller's page and take a look.

Current Soundtrack: The Trash Can Sinatras, "Wild Mountainside" single; The Squid & the Whale original soundtrack

Current Mood: quixotic

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website * Live Journal Syndication

[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2005 Jamie S. Rich

Sunday, January 29, 2006

HOLLYWOOD GIRL ON THE FIRE ESCAPE, pt. 8 (Out of retirement!)

(part I) (part II) (part III) (part IV) (part V) (part VI) (Jen Wang's Audrey) (part VII)

Up-and-coming artist Terry Blas, whom I met through Joëlle, did me an awesome new Audrey.

Lovely, is it not?

Current Soundtrack: Eddie Izzard, Definite Article DVD, and something just fell in the kitchen...?!

Current Mood: surprised

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website * Live Journal Syndication

[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2005 Jamie S. Rich

Friday, January 27, 2006


Permanent Records is a year-long project. Each Friday (or thereabouts), I will post a new entry about one specific album, chosen due to its significance to myself as a fan. Though the list is numbered, a particular record's placement should not be considered a ranking. There will be 52 albums in all.

This endeavor is based on a concept started by Chris Tamarri at Crisis/Boring Change.


Personnel: Nina Persson, vocals; Peter Svensson, guitar; Lars-Olaf Johansson, keyboards; Magnus Sveningsson, bass; Bengt Lagerberg, drums
Producer: Per Sunding & the Cardigans /Label: Stockholm/Koch

Let me tell you a story about a girl.

Yes, this entry centers around the female of the species. A lot of them will, so you might as well make your peace with it now. Our music is invariably tangled up in the highs and lows of our lives, and for a lot of us, that means relationships have soundtracks. The chick factor will sadly be a big factor in what I choose to write about.

Sometimes, my life and a particular song or album converges so completely, I have cause to wonder if there is something cosmic about it, if divinity and fate do take an active role in the everyday affairs of human beings. At some point in 2003, did God lay His hand on the Cardigans and say, "In 2004, Jamie S. Rich will be suffering from a nasty break-up, and I need you to write a track that will ease him through"?

I had been in an on-again/off-again relationship for six years when Long Gone Before Daylight surfaced in the U.S. If we were to call the relationship in terms of official time, it was off more than it was on, but as anyone who has been in such a liaison knows, there is no official off time. You're in it wholly through the entire thing, whether you know it or want to admit it or not. The fanciest metaphor I can come up with for this girl and I was that she was a car and I was a boat, and no matter how much she tried to leap in the water and grow a propeller, it did about as much good as me jumping on land and trying to grow wheels. For those times when the coastline and the highway ran parallel, it was great. We could pretend there wasn't that big a barrier between us, forgetting that at some point the highway would take a turn or go into a tunnel, or I'd have to steer around a reef or something, and we'd be out of sync once more.

At around this time, we'd been on the same path for nearly a year, and we gearing up for a big change. I was leaving my job in comics to pursue writing full-time, and she was going to make a move-up on her career path, one that was going to take her out Oregon. The plan was that I would go with her. The timing was perfect. I was ready to start something new, and the opportunity was in front of us.

Only, as the date approached, the cracks began to show. When it came down to it, she started to hem and haw about the whole thing. What had seemed like an answer of timing became a question of time: as in, would she have time for me what with all these new responsibilities. What I was hearing was "No" disguised as "I don't know," a signal of obfuscated clarity that it was up to me to read, and that it was up to me to make a decision about. I decided even if "I don't know" was the reality, it was not good enough, so I chose to end it.

Problem was, I ended it three months before she was due to leave, so rather than quickly ripping off the band-aid and dealing with the pain, it was a long and slow process, like a dream band-aid that keeps growing and the more you pull the more there seems to be attached to your skin. At some points over that summer, I felt like I was in a scene from the British sitcom Coupling, where Steve tells Jane, "We broke up," and Jane responds, "No, we haven't. I don't accept that," over and over and over again.

This is where the Cardigans came in. Specifically, the song "Communication," the first on Long Gone Before Daylight. Four minutes and twenty-eight seconds of exactly what I was feeling.

"Communication" is a fairly simple song. For the album, the Cardigans had dropped both the kitschy cocktail sound of their earliest recordings and the more synthesized instrumentation of their previous disc, 1998's Gran Turismo. Emerging five years later from whatever wilderness they found themselves in, the Swedish band had adopted an approach more akin to country rock, like Mazzy Star on a clear day looking on to forever. Peter Svensson had bought a steel guitar, and he liked it. A lot.

The most straightforward example of this approach is "Communication," a song that slowly builds as guitar, piano, drums, and the softest of strings quietly dance with one another while Nina Persson pours out her heart. The main body of the song is almost matter-of-fact. Persson is down about a love affair that isn't quite connecting, but she's mellow and mournful, not overly plaintive. As she sings, it creates a shiver in the room. The fire has gone out. It's honest and raw almost to the point of making me question whether it's okay for an artist to be so up front with her feelings; or worse, am I so detached as a writer, I wouldn't have the guts to write something like that. (This entry, I guess, is my answer, even if the same fears still exist. What is too much to reveal? When do I invoke my authorial right to lie? Will she read this? Am I being fair? Isn't there a character I can hide behind?)

Beyond the honesty of emotion, though, the lyrics held a scary parallel for me. "For 27 years I've been trying/ to believe and confide in/ different people I found/ some of them got closer than others/ and some wouldn't even bother/ and then you came around." That's me! That could be me! I was right around that age when I met her, that was how I felt about it. Okay, so that's how most people feel going into a new relationship after some botched ones, but we're talking a selfish listening experience here, and this is how the song--not just the song, the album--begins. God, Cardigans, me.

It's a hopeful and romantic opening, but it's not to be. The problem comes later in the first verse, when Persson reveals that this connection is one-sided. "I never really knew how to move you/ so I tried to intrude through/ the little holes in your veins." This isn't paradise, a fundamental understanding of one another is absent from the relationship. And isn't it nice for once that rather than a song being a veiled metaphor about drugs (there were none in my scenario), a drug reference is actually a metaphor for love, for trying to get someone to let you in so that you can know them the way you want them to know you?

More than once in our relationship, we argued about things that had been said and what they meant. I remember trying to tell her how I felt like we spoke two different languages. To be more precise, I was a lot less fair than that: I accused her of hearing things that most people hear and ascribing to them a meaning that most people do not have. It's a sad day when you have "most people" on your side, but I take that as an emblem of my struggle. I was resorting to any language I could find that would get my meaning through. I didn't care what it ended up being, as long as it worked. Yet it never did--or if it did, it was a patch that didn't hold--and being who I am and how I would deal with things, I would retreat, hiding in the world I have in my head and trying to ignore the problem, pretend it doesn't exist. Part of the chorus of "Communication" is "I've seen you, I know you, but I don't know/ how to connect/ so I disconnect," and every time I heard it, I so got it. I got it 100%.

It chills me still to listen to this song. Every time I hear the opening chords, I stop dead. I must've listened to it hundreds of times over that summer--and eighteen times straight while writing this--it's never stopped having an impact. Probably for every one time I played the whole of Long Gone Before Daylight, I'd wager I listened to "Communication" three times. I sent it to people over e-mail, and rather than explain to them what was going on with me, I would just say, "Listen to this song. It's got it all." Which is not to discount the rest of the album, which is amazing. I love it front to back. The second song on it (also the lead single), "You're the Storm," got a lot of play off me, too, as it reminded me of the better parts of this failing relationship. Its battle-themed similes and the comparison of one's lover to a destructive yet necessary force of nature was all too accurate to how I felt about this girl. Which is an important distinction. For as crappy as it had become, it was a necessary part of my life, for part of who I was and was becoming.

Of course, that didn't mean it wasn't finished. Storms blow over, after all. "Communication" had a bigger role than just being an understanding voice in my sorrow. At about the 2:50 mark, the song goes into an instrumental bridge, a guitar solo that, as it rings out, changes the key and raises the tempo. At 3:15, everything shifts. Nina Persson is no longer mildly accepting of her fate. She becomes defiant. If she isn't being listened to, she will at least be heard.

"Well, this is an invitation!
it's not a threat
if you want communication
that's what you get
I'm talking and talking
but I don't know

how to connect

and I hold
a record for being patient
with your kind of hesitation

I need you, you want me
but I don't know
how to connect
so I disconnect
I disconnect


Obviously, you have to hear it to get the full effect, as the vocals rise and rise all the way through, but there is so much going on with the language in those stanzas, as well. For the first time, the narrator is crying out, insisting herself. Notice how the words change. It's no longer her seeing and knowing him, it's now about mutual need and want, demanding that what she saw between them was really real, and if her partner is not going to acknowledge it, then she's through.

It was this part of the song that I had to hang on to, the part I needed to embolden me. Lord knows, I certainly did feel like I deserved some kind of award for the patience I had shown, for how long I had hung on. It was time to act on my own behalf. Previous break-ups had been against my will, and this one would be my decision. So on the way to and from confrontations, I would listen to "Communication" on my iPod and let the tears they drew be my inspiration, be my strength. I would stand my ground. I'd disconnect.

And I did.

It wasn't easy, it hurt like hell, but I did.

The author and Nina Persson in 1997. I was in one of the worst stages of my oft-forgotten moptop phase.

Would I have made it through without the Cardigans? Would I have made the same choices? I don't know. Is it worth asking? Because the truth is, for the rest of my life, when I put Long Gone Before Daylight on the stereo--and I will often, trust me--these are the things I will think of. Time and perspective will hopefully show that I became a better person--and a better writer--for its influence, and for the influence of the whole relationship "Communication" helped cap. That's an assessment for a later essay, though, something to be gleaned from future listens. One never knows, Long Gone Before Daylight may transform itself and become a warrior of another kind in a whole different Jamie S. Rich crisis.

Until then, I have 2004 and all these things that surround it, and as Nina says later in the album, on "03.45: No Sleep":

"I've always been too lame
to see what's before me
and I know nothing sweeter than
champagne from last new year's
sweet music in my ears
and a night full of no fear

That's enough to hold me up right now. Which is pop music, really. It can't solve everything, but it can fill this moment and make it feel like forever.

#52 #51 #50

Reminder: As always, this post is full of links to Amazon. Click on any one of them when shopping, and Amazon will shave a few pennies off their take to give to me. So, if my reviews make you all hot and bothered and you just have to own one of the things I'm talking about, use my link and contribute to buying me more stuff to review. (Those reading a Live Journal feed will likely have to click to the actual blog page first before heading over to Amazon, though.) Either way, thanks for reading.

Current Soundtrack: Pulp, Hits

Current Mood: lonely

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website * Live Journal Syndication

[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2005 Jamie S. Rich

Thursday, January 26, 2006


I got a bit of bad news in my inbox this morning. Some of you may recall back in November that my work-list included an undisclosed proposal for a book in an ongoing prose series. Today I was informed that it wasn't going to go through.

The pitch was for Continuum's 33 1/3 series, where each book is an author writing about one album, ranging from scholarly studies to historical accounts to personal experiences and fiction. I was going to take the latter approach, put the thesis of my "(T For) True" story into action. My idea was to create a fictionalized memoir for myself in 1994, when Suede released Dog Man Star. In reality, the record came out at the end of a long-term relationship (more on such topics tomorrow), and I was going to spin myself off from there, create a fictional life where I toyed with identity and tried to live a life inspired by the darkness and decadence of the record, me trying to grow from a dog to a man to a star. There would be a chapter for each song, from the bizarre strains of "Introducing the Band" to the explosive symphony of "Still Life."

Alas, it is not to be. Competition was fierce, and for whatever reason, I didn't get in. Personally, I blame James Frey for making the world unsafe for false autobiographers everywhere.

In a fever, I wrote rough versions of the first three chapters of Dog Man Star, when the idea was dominating my brain, just to get it out. I have yet to decide what I want to do with this material, whether there is a way to pursue the book in another form, so I will refrain from posting them for now. But maybe someday...

I'm not being too hard on myself over this. It was my first such proposal in the prose world, so it would have perhaps been too much good fortune to hit right out of the box. Beyond that, there will be announcements very shortly about my other long-gestating projects, and it would be ridiculous of me not to look at all else I have accomplished because one thing didn't come off. (In fact, I was told a press release was happening this week. *cough cough*)

If you're interested in what they did pick for what may be the final round of this excellent series, go here. 21 books whittled down from this list.

Current Soundtrack: Suede, Sci-Fi Lullabies disc 1

Current Mood: crushed

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website * Live Journal Syndication

[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2005 Jamie S. Rich

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Today is a big day for my good friend and collaborator Joelle Jones. Her comic book debut is on the stands at last!

Yes, I know people have problems with the title. Yes, I know people have problems with the cover. But seriously, get over it. Read this write-up. That's some impressive line-up. Plus, Joelle is drawing the story of another of my friends, and an excellet writer, Sarah Grace McCandless, so you have to read this. And since I'm dropping names, how about other people I know and get all fuzzy for, like Chynna Clugston, Laurenn McCubbin, and Colleen Coover? Huh? (That's Sarah, Chynna, and Colleen, second row from the bottom, right to left. Joelle and Laurenn were wrongfully relegatd to the back. I plan to sue.)

If you don't have a comic book shop where you can get this, order it from my Amazon link by clicking on the cover above.

UDATED TO ADD: The preview on the Dark Horse site is four pages by Joelle!


And for anyone wondering about my barely alluded to illness, I'm much better now. For those not, why didn't you notice the barely-an-allusion?

Current Soundtrack: iTunes shuffle: Rialto, "Broken Barbie Doll;" Erasure, "Love To Hate You;" Manic Street Preachers, "Tsunami (Cornelius Remix);" Arcadia, "Missing;" Ike & Tina Turner, "A Love Like Yours (Don't Come Knockin' Everyday);" The Longpigs, "Lost Myself"

Current Mood: nurturing

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website * Live Journal Syndication

[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2005 Jamie S. Rich

Friday, January 20, 2006


Permanent Records is a year-long project. Each Friday (or thereabouts), I will post a new entry about one specific album, chosen due to its significance to myself as a fan. Though the list is numbered, a particular record's placement should not be considered a ranking. There will be 52 albums in all.

This endeavor is based on a concept started by Chris Tamarri at Crisis/Boring Change.

Subtitle: Music from the Motion Picture Under the Cherry Moon
Produced, composed, arranged, and performed by Prince & the Revolution
Label: Warner Bros./Paisley Park

There's no shortage of good Prince records to write about, and consequently, no shortage of writing about his records. The guy had an incredible string of albums. You can reach out blindly and take any CD from his stack of releases between 1982 and 1991, and you'd find it pretty easy to wax poetic about any of them. (He's also had good stuff before and since, but I'd say 1999 through Diamonds & Pearls is really his golden period.)

And yet, I find myself falling short when it comes to the fevered enthusiasm that will infuse a lot of the entries in this series. Prince is Prince. Even with as elusive as he is as an individual and as mercurial a performer, you don't really have to say much except his name and that will suffice. Yes, he's quite kooky now, and his best days are probably behind him musically, but unlike, say, Michael Jackson, modern ears don't have to strain so hard to remember reasons why we liked him in the first place. Nor has the kookiness declawed the old material. Its appeal still stands.

Funny enough, when it came time to choose a record this week, I found myself drawn to one of Prince's less celebrated works from his period with the Revolution. Buried under the shame of the Under the Cherry Moon film--movies being a chink in Prince's armor much as it is in Madonna's--Parade gets little play outside of its big hit, "Kiss." That number may also be part of the problem. Its size almost eclipses the rest of the disc. "Kiss" will never die. It's undeniable. One need only play the opening, with the haphazard guitar strum, that first "Ahhhh," and everyone knows exactly what song it is. When you reach "Kiss" on Parade's tracklisting, the rest of the album steps back, like it's a superstar cameo and the moment needs to be milked for all it's worth. Remember when George Clooney showed up near the end of The Thin Red Line, and you went, "What the hell is George Clooney doing there?" and before you figured it out he was gone? "Kiss" is the George Clooney of Parade.

The rest of Parade, however, is pretty easygoing. I have what I like to call "listenable albums." These are records I can put on at any time and listen from start to finish without any strain. No matter how many times I hear these records, they will bring the same joy. It doesn't mean these albums aren't deep or rewarding, because of course they are, otherwise I wouldn't care about them. There's just something effortless about how the music interacts with its audience, and vice versa.

"Christopher Tracy's Parade" kicks the whole thing off, its drums marshalling the troops, the marching band horns, the invitation, the statement of intent: "Everyone come behold...Goodness will guide us if love is inside us." It evokes images of Prince's paisley procession pulling a pied piper routine, people pouring out of their houses to join the caravan. It makes me want to get up and dance, it makes every time feel like the first time...even though it's not

You see, part of why "Christopher Tracy's Parade" sounds so inviting is because it sounds so familiar. I wouldn't say that Parade is derivative of previous Prince albums, but rather, he is at such a peak here that listeners know exactly what they are going to get. This goes to my "listenable" description. If the music were the ocean, and we surfers, this would be the time of day where every time we take our board out, a good wave comes and picks us up. Every ride is a good one. (Somewhat ironically, the second track is the funky "New Position," a sexy plea for some spice in one's love life set to a subtly rising and falling steel drum rhythm. "Honey, we can't last without a shot of new spunk." Maybe Prince looking ahead?)

The single that got me hooked on this record back in the day was "Girls & Boys." In five-and-a-half minutes, "Girls & Boys" is everything Under the Cherry Moon was intended to be in an hour and a half. (I can't say for sure, because I've never seen it all the way through, but I'm reasonably sure.) It's Prince doing his version of a romance set in the glamorous Europe of the early 20th century, complete with star-crossed lovers, heavy emotion, and scandals amidst rendezvous "on the steps of Versailles." Its first 2/3 are more heart than groin--though not entirely, given that the lovers are meant for each other because they both have an impressive derriere--and the restraint builds pressure for the inevitable release in the finale, when Prince makes his full-court press during his pseudo-rap. "Hear the words I'm saying/ feel the sex I'm laying" isn't really open to interpretation. "Girls & Boys" also contains some of the finest harmonies Wendy & Lisa contributed to any Revolution effort, engaging in a little call and response with the Purple One. They have a similar role on "Anotherloverholenyohead" later on the album, and it's fitting that the two songs were originally coupled as a sort of double A-side.

Parade is full of such gems. "Life Can Be So Nice" has a delirious dance riff that begs to be revisited and remixed. "Do U Lie?" is a charming mid-tempo swing with shades of Cole Porter. "Mountains" is funky and rejoicing, with a grandiose Prince narrative where love conquers all, even the power of the devil and the misdeeds of man. It's an eclectic mix. No two songs fit the same mold, and yet it's all candy from the same factory, a sampler box with only the good ones. The album is constructed so that each song runs together with only the most minor of pauses. You're meant to eat them all at once.

Of the twelve songs on Parade, however, Prince truly saves the best for last. "Sometimes it Snows in April" is the one song on the disc that inspires the sort of hyperbole I am often known for. (I once had an editor who only approved my writing about a certain band with the proviso that I avoid hyperbole, to which I asked, "But what if it's true?") A soft ballad for piano and acoustic guitar, it's a lament for Christopher Tracy, the man who opened Parade with such ebullience. We aren't told how this character has died (Christopher Tracy is the role Prince played, so maybe it happened in the movie?), but that doesn't diminish the grief that comes with loss. Because this isn't about a specific death, but really, the pain of being left behind--be it in the literal sense of surviving a friend, or in a metaphorical sense of being on the wrong side of any change. The effect is devastating, and though I can heap hyperbole on "Sometimes it Snows in April," Prince avoids it. There are no wailing guitar solos or vocal histrionics, no over-the-top outpourings of emotion; this song is all about quiet, about sitting alone with your feelings. The chorus is so simple--"Sometimes it snows in April/ Sometimes I feel so bad, so bad/ Sometimes I wish life was never ending/ And all good things, they say, never last"--and yet, says so much. The title is more than a metaphor for how life is full of unexpected tragedy, it's evocative of the mood of the song and of a certain image. There is a silence when snow falls, a stillness. The world is in stasis, as are our bodies and our emotions, and "Sometimes it Snows in April," as it rings out an otherwise happy album, manages to have the same effect on the listener: stop, hear, experience.

It’s a risky thing, ending an album on a down note, but Prince knows what he's doing. Parade's main thesis seems to be love as life affirmation, and "Sometimes it Snows in April" doesn't go off message; rather, it reinforces it. Its melancholy is our perspective. How can we appreciate all the rest of these things if we never take the time to reflect on their preciousness? The last line of the record is "And love, it isn't love until it's passed." Only the settling hum of the final piano key outlasts the words. The verse that precedes it speaks of seeing Christopher Tracy again, up in Heaven, where we can regain all that we think we lost. There is more than this, and it does all mean something. It's not a downer at all, but optimistic. It's a crazy little thing called life, that starts with a parade and ends in a funeral, but one wouldn’t make sense without the other.*

Prince wouldn't be Prince without bouncing between such extremes: love and sex, pleasure and pain, life and death. And regardless of which side you're on at the moment, it's always a party. Or, dare I say, a Parade.

* Not unlike last week's album, the Jesus & Mary Chain's Automatic, where the celebrated hedonism also required its antithesis, the comedown.

#52 #51

Reminder: As always, this post is full of links to Amazon. Click on any one of them when shopping, and Amazon will shave a few pennies off their take to give to me. So, if my reviews make you all hot and bothered and you just have to own one of the things I'm talking about, use my link and contribute to buying me more stuff to review. (Those reading a Live Journal feed will likely have to click to the actual blog page first before heading over to Amazon, though.) Either way, thanks for reading.

Current Soundtrack: Prince, Parade; The Hits/The B-sides disc 1

Current Mood: sick

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website * Live Journal Syndication

[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2005 Jamie S. Rich

Thursday, January 19, 2006


I stayed up until 4:30 last night reading over The Everlasting. I eventually had to go home (I was at an all-night cafe) because the words were no longer making sense, but I've gotten through most of it. I may have also made myself sick in the process, which seems to be the way my body deals with these kinds of work assignments. I go, go, go, and then drop.

Current Soundtrack: Nelly Furtado & Timbaland, "Maneater"

Current Mood: sore

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website * Live Journal Syndication

[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2005 Jamie S. Rich

Monday, January 16, 2006


I can't resist music memes, and this one was doing the rounds today (I saw it on Chynna's live journal first). You turn on your iPod or music program or whatever and hit shuffle, and then the titles of the first 13 songs are answers to 13 questions. It's not a great meme, as it's so very random. Out of 7,200 songs, the odds that all 13 would yield an amusing answer are not so great. If you know some of the songs, maybe some subtle inference can be drawn from the lyrics. Maybe.

Still, I did it anyway, and here are my results:

1) What do you think of me?
"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor" - The Yardbirds

2) Will I have a happy life?
"About Time" - Art Brut ("I think it's time you forgave your parents...")

3) What do my friends really think of me?
"Parklife" - Blur ("They love a bit of it...")

4) Do people secretly lust after me?
"Blessed" - Simon & Garfunkel

5) How can I make myself happy?
"Come Home, Billy Bird" - The Divine Comedy

6) What should I do with my life?
"All the Dark Horses (acoustic)" - The Trash Can Sinatras

7) Why must life be so full of pain?
"Protect Me" - James

8) Will I ever have children?
"Feel" - Stereophonics ("It'll kill you in the end/ But not to have it/ You haven't lived...")

9) Will I die happy?
"Dream On (The Real After Dark Mix)" - Depeche Mode

10) Can you give me some advice?
"Get Out While You Can" - Starsailor

11) What do you think happiness is?
"Telegram Sam" - Bauhaus

12) What's my favourite fetish?
"Step Out" - Oasis ("We'll be all right, step out tonight...")

13) How will I be remembered?
"Oh! You Pretty Things" - David Bowie

Current Soundtrack: the shuffle is still going: Sandie Shaw, "Rose Garden;" Morrissey, "Bengali in Platforms;" Depeche Mode, "Stories of Old (Magnum Mix);" The Yardbirds, "Too Much Monkey Business (live);" OMD, "Sealand"

Current Mood: disappointed

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website * Live Journal Syndication

[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2005 Jamie S. Rich


Well, that was unexpected.

I had just started my readthrough of The Everlasting when I stopped again to completely redo the first eight pages of chapter 1. I had been denying how much they bugged me. The prose just wasn't in line. It's kind of like how artists sometimes start inking their comics in the middle and work their way around, so that they are on the same groove at the beginning as in the end. I didn't change the events, but I rewrote the entire section in a new file letting the prose run more loosely, fitting more with how I was writing elsewhere in the novel and with my more practiced handle on Lance's character.

Depending on how it turned out, I may do the same with the prologue.

If I am quiet this week--both on the blog, and in the world we live in and life in general--it's because I am going to let this book consume me for the next couple of days. And if you're patient, by the time I emerge, blinking and dazed, back into the sunlight, all will become clear.

Current Soundtrack: Everlasting Mix 2 (Herman's Hermits, "The End of the World;" The Beatles, "Because;" The Jam, "Beat Surrender;" Gene, "Drawn to the Deep End")

Current Mood: excited

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website * Live Journal Syndication

[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2005 Jamie S. Rich

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Last night, we were out having cocktails and ended up as part of a group sitting at a table far too large for us. There was a two person table between us and the DJ booth, and as that table's occupant's finished their drinks, the older gentleman at the table leaned over to me and, in a Russian accent, told me that they were leaving and we could spread out. Before they went, though, he wanted to know about my shirt. I was wearing an old Manic Street Preachers long-sleeve that had an altered version the Harley Davidson logo, changed to read "Motorcycle Emptiness," the name of one of their finest songs.

"So this is a band you like, and you want to promote them?"
"You have nothing against Harley Davidson."
"Oh, no. Not all."
"That is good. In Russia, I see people wearing the Harley Davidson shirts, so I wondered how this was connected."

He introduced himself as Yuri and he asked me what I did. I told him I was a novelist. He seemed impressed, for some odd reason. I asked him what brought him to our part of the world.

"I used to be a Soviet soldier, but now I am in America advising your military on how to create a counter-insurgency and deal with their problems."

Holy crap!

He left right then, so I didn’t get any further details, but wow! Here you think you're merely going to go home stinking of the smoke of some bored hipster, and you end up talking to the most intriguing, random person imaginable.

Current Soundtrack: Johnny Cash, The Essential Johnny Cash 1955-1983 disc 2

Current Mood: curious

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website * Live Journal Syndication

[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2005 Jamie S. Rich

Friday, January 13, 2006


As noted last week (and you can read more about the philosophy of this in that post), this is a year long project. Every Friday for 52 Fridays, I will choose a record, write about it, and upload my thoughts. The idea was borrowed from Chris Tamarri over at Crisis/Boring Change, a blog whose name I besmirched last week. Chris concedes that it can have a double meaning for comic book fans, but in reality, it's the sort of obscure musical reference that is normally near and dear to one as pretentious as myself. Here is his explanation: "And did I never tell you where 'Crisis/Boring Change' came from? (The title, I mean.) It's from the Pavement song, 'Gold Soundz,' off of Crooked Rain: 'Is it a crisis or a boring change?' So, you see, it's both a music and a comic reference. It's horribly unwieldy, I know, but that's one of the things I like about it."

If you got either connotation, big-up nerd points to you.

And, in the crass department, I remind you that, as always, this post will be full of links to Amazon. Click on any one of them to go shopping, and Amazon will shave a few pennies off their take to give to me. So, if my reviews make you all hot and bothered and you just have to own one of the things I'm talking about, use my link and contribute to buying me more stuff to review. (Those reading a Live Journal feed will likely have to click to the actual blog page first before heading over to Amazon, though.) Either way, thanks for reading. Ready, set, enjoy!

Personnel/Producers: William Reid & Jim Reid
Engineered by Alan Moulder/ Label: Warner Bros./Blanco y Negro

I'm here on a rescue mission. I want to save Automatic from its bad reputation.

It's not that The Jesus & Mary Chain's third album is generally considered to be abysmal or anything quite so extreme. The problem is that a lot of people take a very dismissive attitude to it. The Virgin Encyclopedia of Indie & New Wave, for example, give it merely one unimaginative line in their JAMC entry, and then award it two stars, the lowest of any of the band's albums rated. Fans seem to take a similar attitude (or, at least, in my personally gathered anecdotal evidence; I'm likely to get e-mails declaring, "What? You're crazy! We lurv it!"). The general consensus: Automatic exists, it has two really classic songs ("Head On" and "Blues From a Gun") and that's that, move along. Why is this? Is it a sort of snobbery? MTV took a real liking to the Reid brothers around this time and played the shit out of "Head On," encouraging suburban kids like myself who were scared of the band's slightly blasphemous name to take the plunge once and for all, risking hellfire and damnation in the name of rock 'n' roll. That certainly sounds like success on JAMC terms if ever I heard it.

Is it how clean the record sounds? The glossy production coupled with the big marketing push could be seen as selling out, but how grand is your bid for mainstream success when the first four lines on the disc inform us that we desire a particular girl because "her heart is black" and then compares her to "ice cream sliding into a crack"? The song--"Here Comes Alice"--only gets lyrically filthier from there, with references to sweat, sucking mud, and "get your lips round a cool black Pepsi Coke." Certainly not what the advertising agencies are looking for to sell soft drinks. Particularly since the closing refrain of "here she comes" is no doubt meant to suggest more than the "walking down the street" Alice did at the start of the song.

Then the second song, "Coast to Coast." It's all about drugs. It's not even one of those songs that you can pretend is actually about something else because its euphemisms are posable. It's about getting high, needing to get high, being as fucking high as you possibly can and loving it. (And, for the record, may have the reciprocal orgasm for Alice, what with the insistent chant, "Here I come, here I come.")

Even so, I concede that this record sounds like it was produced with an ear towards pop, but what the hell is wrong with that? The boys are writing the same songs, they are playing them the same way, they just recorded them differently. It makes me think it might have been spectacularly cool if George Martin had produced an album by The Velvet Underground. Automatic is like the Revolver of heroin chic.

And I don't namecheck Revolver just for the music. That could be a title for a JAMC LP, easy. In fact, I never considered this, but Automatic is a gun reference itself. The JAMC iconography is in full effect: guns, God, and gutters. The album's cover is the best representation of the band's visual image one can imagine: the duo in the heart of a star, William folding his fingers into a pistol and pointing it at the audience. Prepare to be assaulted with hard-edged glamour.

In essence, I would argue that Automatic is the center of the band's career. It's the point around which everything Jesus & Mary Chain revolves. The scruffed-up Beach Boys-sound of Psychocandy and the desperate landscapes of Darklands turned into an adrenaline fueled weekend in Vegas, making way for the rough mornings of the fuzzy-headed Honey's Dead and put-some-cream-in-my-coffee hangover breakfast of Stoned & Dethroned. This is the million-dollar high they'd been climbing to, and without it, there'd be no comedown.

"Head On" stands out still as that amazingly brilliant track that most bands pray they will find one day. Even the Pixies' malicious and ill-conceived cover version could not diminish its radiance. The other eleven songs sit on an equal plain, each as good as the next, slices off the same fattened calf. "Between Planets" is a chugged up interception of '60s FM radio, intercepted light years away on the transmission's trajectory through the cosmos, where some aliens are just now discovering The Beatles and "Mr. Ed." Elsewhere, "Half Way to Crazy" is a musical reproduction of those days when everything has been on a roll for so long, you can't help but think there's a wall somewhere waiting to be smashed into. You might even speed up the process and smash yourself against something on purpose. And it's about love, a twisted emotional addiction you can't kick. "Tongue tied and tied to the tongue."

Then there's "Drop," a precursor of things to come, a hint of where this will all land. Acoustic, simple, cynical. "Making out you're flying, but you've just been thrown." Imagine it like a warning note wrapped around a rock and tossed through your window. If I was to write a parody of a JAMC song, I'd probably come up with something like the song's final verse: "I should have guessed/ When I took that pill/ Do I love her still/ Well did Jesus kill?" Lyrically, the whole of Automatic is William Reid at his most distilled, his fractured poetry broken further down until only buzzwords remain. "Unpeel ice cool velvet skin" and "Hip shake gunning kick start and I'm running" and "Don't split it scrape it/ Your screaming automatic pain." Take the history of rock 'n' roll, write it out on one long piece of paper, toss a handful of darts at it, and then string together the words you pierce.

"Drop" ends the album alongside "Sunray," both songs clocking in at under two minutes (the other ten are all over three). If "Drop" is the warning, then "Sunray," a jagged instrumental, is the delivery. "Drop" is waking up, getting out of bed, your head like a blood-soaked ball of cotton, and "Sunray" is the fatal error of pulling open the curtains. It hurts, but in such a way that you want to go out and start the process again. Butt this up against "Reverence," the opener of album four, and you'll discover you have a straight line to that sunny day on which it'll be good to die.

Which is something music should make us feel more often, this sense of elevation where we look down at our own mortality and say, "Fuck it."

And that's where I am, up there on the precipice. I noticed Automatic standing there, teetering, waiting maybe a little too long for that helping hand, and I couldn't not leap forward and grab it and pull it back. This is a great album, maybe as good as it gets, its revolution being the apparent lack of one. It just is, it just rocks. Part of me suspects it's what Phil Spector heard in his head the night he allegedly pulled the trigger, part of me knows this is all a bunch of kerpuffle. As the Reid Bros. would say on their last album togehter, "What do you want if you don't want love?" Well, nine years prior, they offerred a dozen different options. Take as many as you can grab.


Current Soundtrack: Jesus & Mary Chain, Munki

Current Mood: on the prowl

golightly@confessions123.com * The Website * Live Journal Syndication

[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2005 Jamie S. Rich