I love Pinterest. I know a lot of people don’t get it at all. They think it’s the ultimate time waster. But it’s turned out to be a fabulous place to save all those recipes I stumble across on the Interwebs, as well as a great place to save story ideas, favorite books, favorite quotes ~ and of course, favorite pics of Hollywood heartthrobs. Right now I’m sure you are asking yourself: What is Lynn’s most popular pin on Pinterest?
Surprisingly, it is not the picture of lemon cake for the Pinterest board promoting the cookbook, Bake, Love, Write to which I just contributed.
Nor is it one of the fabulous quotes about writing by Neil Gaiman or some other Word God. It is not even any of the many pictures of my erstwhile boyfriend Nathan Fillion or my current #1 boyfriend Tom Hiddleston.
Actually, the fave pin on my board is this very yummy Esquire magazine photo of Corey Stoll.
[* Corey is currently being cruelly forced to battle both zombies and a floppy toupee in the creepy Guillermo del Toro TV series “The Strain.” He previously caught my eye in an epically witty performance as Ernest Hemingway in Woody Allen‘s “Midnight in Paris.” But his very best role to date has to be the troubled, doomed congressman Peter Russo in “House of Cards.”]
So John Scalzi just posted his ranking of U2 albums in honor of the release of their new album, and that seemed like as good a reason as any for me to waste time on my own list. Also, how cool is it to discover that John Scalzi is a fan of MY BAND?! Because in my heart, they will always be my band. I mean, those who know me well know my long-standing U2 obsession. I was the geeky American girl with weird hair and a neon pink and yellow dress in Dublin in the early 1980’s writing my name on the wall outside Windmill Lane Studios. Of course, all I had with me was a lipstick, so I’m pretty sure it’s gone by now. I was that oddball night owl who felt like her entire life changed when she stumbled across these raucous Irish guys late one night on Tom Snyder‘s Tomorrow show. I have the single and the T-shirt for “A Celebration” (never released in the US) and yes, yes, my children — I have this:
I haven’t listened to the new album, Songs of Innocence yet. To be honest, I’m a little afraid. The last two albums — No Line on the Horizonand How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb were very so-so albums. “Going through the motions, putting something out there to give us an excuse to go on tour” albums is how I’d class them. Not bad, just very uninspired. And I get that, I completely do. I have been so creatively uninspired for YEARS that I still haven’t finished my third book, begun back in 2012. And in 2013. And twice in 2014!
So Bono, my man, if you are reading this, I’m not judging — I’m just sayin’.
But I don’t really care how good or bad the new album is. U2’s music was such an inspiration to me in my youth, I feel like they could do an album of Bing Crosby cover tunes and I’d probably buy it. The best of their music still lifts me up when I’m feeling low (Boy) and still channels all the anger I sometimes feel — whether it’s anger over the death of a loved one (All That You Can’t Leave Behind), a betrayal by a friend (Achtung Baby) or an incompetent government lurching into its thirteenth year of endless war (yes, obviously, War).
One thing I have in common with Bono is the ability to take 50 words or even 500 to say what could be said in 5. I think it’s an Irish thing. Or an ADD thing. Or an Irish/ADD thing. Where was I? Oh yeah, so after entirely too much ado and verbosity, here’s my ranking of U2 albums:
1. Boy – because it’s the beginning.
2. Achtung Baby – because it’s a fabulously angry and bewildered and intense album.
3. The Joshua Tree – because it came during a very big emotional crisis in my life and I honestly believe if it hadn’t been for this album & a fortuitous visit with a friend in Arizona (who coincidentally took me to see the Joshua trees) – I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be alive today.
4. Zooropa – Lemon! Stay! Johnny Cash, for God’s sake! How can anyone NOT love this album?!
5. All That You Can’t Leave Behind – just has a nice, clean, stripped-down sound and the whole band seemed so reinvigorated with the release of this album. To be brutally honest, I kind of wish they’d stopped there. (Although to be fair, I just downloaded Songs of Innocence and haven’t listened to it yet. Maybe that will be fresh and invigorating too. Although I suspect it’s really just going to be one of the aforementioned excuse-to-go-on-tour albums.
6. War – I kind of hated this one for awhile, because this was when everyone else discovered MY band But it does have some great songs, especially “Two Hearts Beat as One.”
7. October – I like how introspective and openly spiritual it is, although I know that annoys some people.
8. Rattle and Hum – Pompous and self-important, yes; but it does have “Desire” and “When Love Comes to Town.”
9. The Unforgettable Fire – I like a lot of songs on this album, but it just doesn’t excite me very much anymore. Loved it at the time though.
These last three are all just sort of “meh” albums. Not inspired, not bold, each one with a couple of good songs but largely forgettable. But I think that’s allowed when you’ve recorded so much other good stuff.
10. Pop – Best song: Do You Feel Loved? or If You Wear That Velvet Dress
11. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb – Best Song: A Man and A Woman
12. No Line on the Horizon – Best Song: Magnificent or White As Snow
I didn’t include the “Wide Awake in America” EP that’s on John Scalzi’s list, because it’s not an album. But I have great sentimental memories of that one, having purchased it at the original Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street during my summer in London, back when dinosaurs ruled the earth and people bought music on these big vinyl platters. I know! Crazy, right?! Because who BUYS music these days???
I also didn’t include Songs of Innocence because it’s too new. I’ve only listened to one song on it and even if I had listened to the entire album, I couldn’t rank it yet. Some things take a while to grow on me musically, especially (and I suppose, rather oddly) songs by U2. I really hated Zooropa when it was released, but I love it now. In fact, musically, I’d really rank this one higher than Joshua Tree, but Joshua Tree has that sentimental thing going on with me. Go figure.
So that’s all I really have to say about U2. If you love them, great; if you hate them, I’m okay with that too. People seem to mostly feel one way or the other about them (sometimes the same people on the same day, including myself), but that’s another thing I like about them. They definitely provoke a response.
Last but not least, in case you didn’t see it that night, here’s the performance that changed my life from Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow show. YOU SHOULD ALL BE VERY GRATEFUL FOR THIS, BECAUSE IT WAS AFTER WATCHING THIS PERFORMANCE THAT I GAVE UP THE GUITAR AND DECIDED TO FOCUS ON WRITING INSTEAD….
For those of you who wonder where the hell I’ve been – I’ve been asking myself the same question. Froghammer has turned out to be an interesting place to work, some of it good-interesting, some of it bad-interesting, most of it just weird-and-chaotic-but-will-make-great-stories-in-books-someday-kind-of-interesting. However, I hate catty, bitchy people, so I’ve resolved to just keep mum about Froghammer in the all-too-public realm of the Interwebs.
Meanwhile, this post has been making the rounds on Facebook in which someone lists their ten favorite books and challenges a group of friends to do the same. Of course, a few people decided to tag me, which is fine. But TEN?! Seriously? I need a list of at least one hundred to even make a dent in my list of favorite books. My whole living room is filled from floor to ceiling on all sides (except the one with the bay window) with just a few of my favorite books. Be that as it may, I decided I would answer the challenge, but the only way I could do it is to set some kind of limit. So I’m going to limit it to favorite books I’ve read in the last year or two. With maybe a little side note on a few all-time favorites.
MY RECENT FAVE RAVE BOOKS:
Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty – maybe there was a murder, maybe not. definitely there was adultery. also, insightful thoughts on the complications of being a modern career woman and mom and how you can never be quite good enough at any of it. check out my earlier review here
Amy Falls Down by Jincy Willett – Jincy Willett is so funny she makes me laugh ’til I cry. This companion book to her equally brilliant The Writing Class follows Amy as she gets mildly concussed, says some very strange things and suddenly finds herself a media sensation. Brilliant wisdom about the state of publishing and entertainment, and a great dog companion too. Here’s my previous review.
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead – Teen angst + Time Travel. Fabulous. I actually read this one more than a couple of years ago, but it’s still a fairly recent find, so it goes on the list. Because it’s my list. And yes, here’s my earlier review.
Girl Unmoored by Jennifer Gooch Hummer – a wonderful teen coming-of-age novel about a misfit girl who befriends a gay couple just at the start of the AIDS crisis in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s. Brought back vivid memories of that era and moved me to tears. An excellent book. No previous review from me, I’m afraid. You’ll have to form your own opinion!
The Rivers of London Series by Ben Aaronovitch – another promising young writer of SF/Fantasy and another Ben. Fresh out of the police academy, Peter Grant gets recruited into a special unit of the Metropolitan Police, one that handles supernatural phenomena and also those troublemaking river deities that still populate London. If a young, British Harry Dresden fell into the world of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, it might go a bit like this.
Mrs. Dalloway – Because Virginia Woolf. And no, it’s not a new book and not a recent read, but one I re-read over and over again. I spent a lot of years trying to be Virginia Woolf, writing-wise, and to me, this is her masterpiece. The economy of style, the smoothness of the narrative as she travels through one day in one ordinary woman’s head, the love and hope and regrets that make up that woman’s life. The older I get, the more I understand and love this story.
The Crystal Cave Series by Mary Stewart – often dismissed as a mere author of “gothic romance,” Mary Stewart was way more than that, and if her series about Arthur and Merlin had been written by a man, I’m sure it would get a lot more recognition and respect. But that rant about the lack of respect accorded “women’s writing” is a rant for another day. Instead, let me just commend this wonderful series of stories to you. There are five books in the series, but I confess the first three are really far and away the best. This is the legend of King Arthur told from the point of view of Merlin, filled with excellently researched detail on the mythical and historic origins of the tales. No, also not new. But it’s my list and my chance to get a few people to notice some overlooked masterpieces!
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov – Magical Realism before there was Magical Realism. Also not new. But possibly my all-time favorite novel. Yes. If I had to pick only one book to take with me to Mars. If I lived in that world Ray Bradbury created in Fahrenheit 451 and I had to “become a book” to keep the story alive, this is the book I would become. Also, for those who are interested in such things, the book that famously inspired The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.” Try to get the Mirra Ginsburg translation, unless you’re lucky enough to read Russian.
And now, I conjure you all to go forth and make your own list. If you can’t think of ten books right off the top of your head, you’re living your life wrong. Also, for my many good friends and family members with learning disabilities and other reading problems – remember that audiobooks count too. Don’t ever let anyone say you haven’t “read” a book because you listened to someone read it to you instead. That’s the oldest and best way to tell a story!