And a small press in a pear tree.... (the best of 2009, Deb Grabien's take)

Time again for the annual Best Of reverie. And since our esteemed editor in chief was dangling prizes of sorts, I briefly considered doing something along the lines of "12 Peter Beagles, 11 Kinkaid Chronicles, 10 ARCs..."

That lasted just long enough for me to realise that 2009 was, for the most part, a year I could have done quite nicely without. Hard to do a "12 Days of" parody when you can't think of twelve things that went properly.

Still, there were some great moments. Here we go:

1. Peter Beagle: "We Never Talk About My Brother". The stories in this one damned near broke me. Just wonderful. And sharing music back and forth has been sanity-saving, glorious good fun. Here's a jug of wassail, redolent of apples and spice, in your honour, Peter.

2. Jim Marshall's "Trust": Having somehow managed to not meet each other while moving in the same music circles for decades, I finally got to make the Godfather of Rock Photography's acquaintance. I got the see the first copy of his jawdropping book of photos, Trust, as he was sliding it out of the box. To. Die. For. Which takes me to:

3. MSFriends/Rock for MS: Jim's assistant, Amelia Davis, suffers from relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis, as do I and my current series narrator, guitarist JP Kinkaid. Her organisation provides 24/7 support for people with MS. Jim adds his support with Rock for MS, raising money with auctions, live shows, and other cool events. I got to work with them and will be working with them a lot more in the future.

4. Mark Karan's "Walk Through The Fire": My sole pick for best of the Bay Area's music for 2009 - it bumped Green Day off the top spot. Lovely, aching, personal, passionate, funny and occasionally wickedly groiny, this CD kicks ass. Just behind it, "Where I Come From", from the New Riders of the Purple Sage. We lost NRPS founder John Dawson (aka Marmaduke) earlier this year, and just had a tribute memorial show in his honour, at the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma, California. G'night, McDuke. You were a gentleman and a sweetheart and a hell of a songwriter, and the band carries that baton and does it damned well, too.

5. The Afghan Women's Writing Project: The website says it all. I'm privileged to be one of the teachers and there is nothing about these women, about their work, their lives, their courage, that doesn't move me. Go, read, comment:

6. Kinkaids and more Kinkaids. The publisher, apparently having undersold by 500 copies a $25 hardback with no paperback or sales support in the worst economy since the Great Depression, pulled the plug. That gave me the impetus to do what I suspect is going to be my #1 pick for Best Of in 2010: starting my own small press, dedicated largely to books (fiction and non-fiction) about music. In the works, and making me happy already. First out the gate will be the third Kinkaid, "London Calling", which deals with how rock copes with racism. I can hardly wait.

As a sort of shiny piece of tinsel dangling off the 2009 tree, three more happy-place moments for me: Laura Anne Gilman's first Vineart War release, "Flesh and Fire". Pink's "Fun House". And definitely not least, Nickelback's "Dark Horse" and the live show at the Shoreline in Mountain View, CA: had there been a roof on the building, the band would have blown it halfway to Sacramento. Best CD full of songs about oral sex ever.

I suspect that, once I hit the "send" button, I'll do a Homer Simpson "D'OH!" and remember more things. But for now, let's just call this a wrap: ...four cool guitars, three live shows, two benefits and a small press in a pear tree.

London Calling

She later added this about a film called Nine

Update, a musical version, of Fellini's Eight and a Half". Daniel Day-Lewis anchors it as the director, and I am complete whore for Daniel Day-Lewis, but honestly, he does what he always does, which is know exactly when to sit back and let the women shine. And oh my fucking GOD, are the women in this amazing. Marion Cotillard is a goddess, Nicole Kidman has eight minutes of screen time and one song and was so poignant and perfect she left me in tears, Kate Hudson does the most perfect take on her mother's "Laugh-In" years imaginable (complete with costume, since the film, like Fellini's, is set in 1960's Italy and filmed on location), and Judi Dench - in a corset - wow. And holy mama, who in hell is this Fergie chick, and why isn't she raking in Tony awards for musical theatre on Broadway?

The score is possibly the most perfect fit I've heard for a film since "The Lion In Winter". It absolutely floored me.