A Life in Books

When I finished Writers and Lovers by Lily King earlier this year, I experienced that feeling that washes over me when I encounter a nearly perfect novel. I feel grateful to the author for writing the book, I feel thankful for my love of literature, and I know that reading is the greatest pleasure of my life.

I love to write, but I love to read.

When I was little, I so enjoyed looking at the stacks of books in my bedroom. Some of my greatest memories are discovering fairy tales and becoming somewhat obsessed with them in first grade. Next came Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, and the Three Investigators, starting me on a lifelong love of mysteries. Other milestones along the way were Virginia Woolf (thanks, Mrs. Taylor), Anne Sexton (the focus of my twenty page thesis), Toni Morrison, and Ian McEwan. I moved to Seattle and read more than ever while commuting to work on the bus. I started working in a B. Dalton (remember that long lived chain of mall bookstores?), then Wal…

Thelma and Louise Has Stood the Test of Time

Thelma and Louise is one of my favorite movies, but I had not watched it in many years. A recent viewing reaffirmed its status as a five star film and definitely stirred my emotions. 
The 1991 release stars Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon as good friends Thelma Dickinson and Louise Sawyer, respectively. The women take off for a weekend getaway, which quickly turns bad. Very bad. The film did well at the box office, and the two leads were nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress at the 1991 Academy Awards. Since then, the movie's reputation has only grown stronger, and Thelma and Louise has become a feminist classic.
What struck me as I watched Thelma and Louise for probably the third time is the thoughtful pacing. The movie starts off somewhat languidly, picks up momentum once the women hit the road, and ultimately morphs into an exciting road chase crime caper. However, those opening scenes never drag, and in fact are essential at laying the foundation for the women's motivations …

My Top 20 Musical Acts of All Time: Part IV

Here is the fourth installment in my countdown. First, a brief recap:20. First Aid Kit19. R.E.M.18. Janet Jackson17. Vienna Teng16. The Killers15. Tina Turner14. Cyndi Lauper13. Regina Spektor12. David Bowie11. Blondie10. Siouxsie and the Banshees  9. Joni MitchellI think she is the greatest songwriter of the modern era, outshining even Bob Dylan and Neil Young. Her early folk period, which encompasses the albums Song for a Seagull, Clouds, and Ladies of the Canyon, set a high bar for quality lyrics that she herself would surpass on her masterpiece, 1971's Blue. After this pinnacle, she expanded her sound while working with the LA Express on For the Roses and Court and Spark, which remain her commercial high points. With The Hissing of Summer Lawns, Joni threw her audience for a loop, abandoning typical song structures for more expansive soundscapes and abstract lyrics; Hejira went even further in this direction. Late career highlights include Night Ride Home and Turbulent Indigo

Quick Takes: Books, Music, and Movies

It's time for another round of Quick Takes, in which I recommend books, music, and movies that I'm currently enjoying.Alanis Morissette: Such Pretty Forks in the RoadA few months ago, I reviewed the pre-released songs from Alanis's then forthcoming album. Well, the entire thing is now here, and I have been listening consistently. I appreciate the fact that you can hear how her voice has aged in some spots. I really like authenticity, and her unadorned voice radiates authenticity. Some of my favorite songs are "Losing the Plot," about insomnia, which features the great lyric "I am grieving the end of superwomaning"; "Sandbox Love," which addresses a new romance in the aftermath of traumatic abuse; and penultimate track "Nemesis," which is an epic song, possibly about pregnancy. Her lyrics can be very specific, but also enigmatic. I would say this is Morissette's strongest album since 2001's Under Rug Swept.The Birds, directed …

Guest Blogger: Justin Osgood

Today, I am very pleased to welcome the third and final summer guest blogger to In His Own Words: Justin Osgood. Justin resides in lovely Blue Hill, Maine, with his partner Mike and cat Grizabella. His primary interests are electronic and alternative music, obscure films, Doctor Who, and the wonderful creatures known as owls. He has a lifelong love for comic books and still reads at least one every day. In his spare time, Justin produces electronic music. His guest contribution to this blog focuses on the many ways that Maine has influenced his writing, and I think you will glean a lot from his words:I would like to thank my dear friend Shane for asking me to contribute as a guest to his blog; it is a great honor for me and I hope you enjoy reading it, as well. I have known Shane for many years and greatly value his advice and counsel as a fellow writer. Several years ago, I asked him to read one of the drafts of a first novel for an intended series, and even though it was not of a ge…

My Top 20 Musical Acts of All Time: Part III

The fun continues in this third installment of my countdown.  Here is a quick recap of the artists who have appeared thus far:
20. First Aid Kit 19. R.E.M. 18. Janet Jackson 17. Vienna Teng 16. The Killers 15. Tina Turner 14. Cyndi Lauper 13. Regina Spektor
12. David Bowie
Like Madonna, Bowie is a chameleon in both a visual and a musical sense. He told stories about Major Tom, the Thin White Duke, and Ziggy Stardust, while also offering thinly veiled slices of autobiography. You didn't always know what was fact and what was fiction, but his sharp lyrics, instant melodies, and dramatic vocal performances were constants. His classic run of albums from Hunky Dory through Let's Dance has rarely been equaled. Some of my personal favorites are "Changes" (enjoy the official clip below), "Moonage Daydream," and "Modern Love."
11. Blondie
Effervescent, dreamy, catchy, incandescent, melodious, brazen, comical, melodramatic, f…

My Top 20 Musical Acts of All Time: Part II

The time has come for me to unveil the second installment of my top twenty musical artists of all time. First, a quick recap of the previous four:
20. First Aid Kit 19. R.E.M. 18. Janet Jackson 17. Vienna Teng.
Now, to continue ...
16. The Killers
While their 2004 debut Hot Fuss remains their finest hour ("Somebody Told Me," "Mr. Brightside," "All These Things That I've Done," plus wonderful album tracks like "On Top" and "Midnight Show"), there have been many highlights since: the unstoppable "This River Is Wild" and modern classic "When You Were Young" from Sam's Town; the nostalgic "Spaceman" from Day & Age; the Springsteen-esque "Runaways" from Battle Born (see the link to the official video below); and most of 2017's "comeback" album, Wonderful Wonderful. With dynamic front-man Brandon Flowers always stealing the show, The Killers are my favorite band to spring forth from …