Archive for January, 2011


Music Monday #34: Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton in the 60ies.

Dolly Parton in the 60ies. Yes, she used to be cute.

When I woke up this morning and – still lying half-dead in my bed – switched on the radio, they talked about how it’s Dolly Parton’s 65th birthday today. Happy birthday, Dolly Parton!

Of course with news like these, when they start talking about songs she recorded in the past and her success and they use the past tense, it’s kind of creepy because you’re like, “Okay, why are they talking about Dolly Parton? Did something happen to her? Oh, the suspense!” And then you’re relieved when they say it’s her birthday.

But anyway, the point I want to make is that Dolly Parton, who by the way grew up very poor as the fourth child of twelve, has had an amazing career and wrote some amazing songs. She’s also a very successful business woman. In case you’re unaware, Dolly Parton wrote “I Will Always Love You”, which later was a big success for Whitney Houston, too. But more interesting still is that Elvis Presley wanted to record it. Dolly was thrilled of course, until she found out that by recording it, he also wanted to get half the publishing rights to it. So she stood up to the ‘King’ and said no. And now she’s super rich.

And while she may be slightly scary these days with all that make-up and long fingernails and all sorts of other enhancements, I think her manner is quite endearing, as is her Southern twang.

You can watch her perform ‘Jolene’ in 1974 [alternative link] or watch her perform ‘He’s Alive’ in 1989 [alternative link]. That one actually gives me goosebumps, even though I’m an atheist. Or watch her perform ‘I Will Always Love You’ [alternative link]. Or listen to her song Travelin’ Thru, which she wrote for the movie Transamerica and for which she received an Oscar nomination [alternative link].

Or if you can’t stand Dolly Parton for some odd reason, at least listen to the White Stripes’ version of ‘Jolene’ [alternative link].


Books I Read in 2010 (Part 2/2)

And here’s part 2 of the list of books I read in 2010.

  • Abnormal Psychology by Gerald Davison and John M. Neale
    Another book I found at the Asylum Hostel in Sydney. It’s a textbook for psychology students, which I’m not, but it was still interesting to read about the different kinds of disorders out there and how psychology is attempting to cure them.
  • The Game by Neil Strauss
    I recently read that this book is supposed to be turned into a movie, so quick, read the book before the movie comes out so you can say, “Oh, well, the book was better.” Seriously, though, the book is not a must read by any standards, but it certainly has some interesting aspects. It’s about how Neil Strauss himself, once a geeky, shy and inexperienced fella, learned all about being a pick-up artist when he researched pick-up artists for a story.
  • Cause Of Death by Patricia Cornwell
    Another good Patricia Cornwell crime novel.
  • Romulus, My Father by Raimond Gaita
    I had never heard of the book or the movie adaptation with Eric Bana and Franka Potente, but I found the book in the hostel, so… Raimond Gaita is an Australian philosopher, and in this book he writes about his father’s life, how they emigrated to Australia and what their life there was like. It’s not a nice rags to riches story, it’s a dark story about poverty, suicide and mental illness. It’s still a good read, though, somewhat hopeful despite all the darkness.
  • Sofies Welt by Jostein Gaarder
    This book also showed up at a hostel. The English title is “Sophie’s World”, the original Norwegian title “Sofies verden”. I started reading this over a decade ago and put it down after 20 pages because it bored me. This time around I simply had nothing else to read so I read it, still thought it was pretty boring in parts. I have no idea why this book was so successful. Maybe it’s a neat idea but I’d have preferred to read all this stuff in textbook form. Dumb.
  • Blood Born by Kathryn Fox
    Kathryn Fox is an Australian medical practitioner and author of crime novels. She lives in Sydney, actually, which is where I found this book in a hostel, I think. But who can remember. At any rate, it’s a good read and it’s not bad as crime novels go, but I do prefer Patricia Cornwell’s books. Just because I like Kay Scarpetta more.
  • Evening in Byzanthium by Irwin Shaw
    Also from some hostel or another. It’s about this aging movie producer who goes to the Cannes film festival and is thinking about a new project to tackle. It’s also about his relationships and his life. It’s not about terrorists, however, which is peculiar because the movie based “loosely” on this book is about terrorists taking over the Cannes film festival. Weird. At any rate, I think the book is from the 70ies and it shows, and I liked it. The protagonist always mixed whiskey and water, if I remember correctly, and when a charming Israelian guy left a bottle of Jack Daniel’s in our fridge, I tried replicating this “recipe”. Pretty gross.
  • Lautlos by Frank Sch├Ątzing
    German crime novel, basically. Was okay.
  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
    Someone left this at the hostel, which made me particularly happy. I thought the translation into English was really strange and seemed to me like the translator’s first language wasn’t English. But apparently I’m the only one, as the guy even got an award for his translation. It’s a good read and I like the characters in it, so I might have to read the other two parts as well.
  • 01

    Books I Read in 2010 (Part 1/2)

    It’s that time of the year again! The end time. The time when we look back because before we know it, we’re head on into the next year with our good intentions and plans and projects that we try to complete before it’s that time of the year again, but next year. If you know what I mean.

    At any rate, here’s part 1 of the list of books I read this year. I’ve read 17 books in total.

    • The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza by Lawrence Block
      Quite entertaining as crime novels go. Especially because the protagonist is Bernie Rhodenbarr, a “gentleman burglar”.
    • The Pocket Book Of Short Stories by various authors
      A really old book that cost 35 cents when it first came out. I got it on eBay years ago for maybe 3 EUR including shipping and started reading it and put it away again. I figured it was a good book to travel with, because the stories are all different and I’d also not be too heartbroken to leave it behind once I read it. And I did leave it behind, I think at the King Street Backpackers hostel in Melbourne.
    • The Fellowship Of The Ring by JRR Tolkien
      This is a book I found at the King Street Backpackers hostel in Melbourne. It’s the first part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and I once started reading this in German but got bored after page 10. I never cared for Lord of the Rings, even though I did watch the movies, but when I found that book at the hostel, I decided to give it a shot again and to my surprise, I liked it a lot. It was easier to read in English I thought, plus they are travelling all the time, which I could identify with at that moment, too. I didn’t find the other two parts of the book, though, even though I know they’re not so much a trilogy as they are one huge book cut up into three, but since I know how it all ends anyway, I’m not too bothered.
    • Point Of Origin by Patricia Cornwell
      Another King Street Backpacker hostel find. I’ve read a few of Patricia Cornwell’s books already, they’ve always been quick and entertaining reads, and this one was no exception.
    • Out Of Darkness: A Memoir by Zoltan Torey
      Another one from the hostel in Melbourne. We stayed there for quite a while, you see. The memoir is by a Hungarian guy who escaped Hungary when the Russians came. He went to Australia, where he wanted to be a doctor or something like that (he wanted to explore human consciousness) but then he had a terrible accident in a factory in Sydney where battery acid splashed into his face, and so he became blind. Instead of stopping being a visual person, he became more of a visual person and just started imagining everything very vividly in his head. It was quite interesting to read about his life and determination and all of that, even though I didn’t care for his style of writing too much. But it was still a good read.
    • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
      People have recommended this book for years now. It originally came out in 2002 and I knew nothing about it except that it was supposed to be good. This girl at the hostel in Melbourne had the book and I set my eyes on it and was going to ask her if I could read it after she was finished, but then from one day to the next the girl moved out of the hostel. Thankfully, she left the book behind! It might be the best book I read in 2010 and it utterly captivated me. It’s dark and violent sometimes and subtle and sweet at other times and I liked the premise of it and how it was written and you should read it if you haven’t yet.
    • Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction by J. D. Salinger
      I tend to attribute it to J.D. Salinger that I eventually became interested in reading again outside of school, even though that’s probably not completely accurate. But be that as it may, after reading “The Catcher In The Rye” one day, I became interested in Salinger’s work and read all the other books I could get my hands on. I never did find this one, so when I found it at the book sale at Federation Square in Melbourne, I had to buy it. With Salinger, I think the way his books are written are way more important and entertaining than where the actual stories are going. That’s also the case with this book. It’s not a particularly quick read, but it’s good nevertheless. After reading it, I googled Salinger and came to the conclusion that while he may have been a good author, he doesn’t at all sound like a particularly likeable man in general. Not that it really matters, though.
    • Open by Andre Agassi
      This book I found at the Asylum Hostel in Sydney. It’s Andre Agassi’s autobiography, and although I liked him without really knowing why, all I really knew about him was that he was a very good tennis player that was married to Steffi Graf. So when I read the autobiography, I was very surprised to find out what his childhood had been like, what his life in general was like, how much he hated tennis, etc. It’s a very good and engaging read, much better than I had anticipated, too. You’d think his recounting of tennis matches would be boring to read if you are not otherwise interested in tennis, but they’re surprisingly exciting to read, too. All in all a very good book that I recommend.