Goodbye Spaceboy


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that English musician/icon/Goblin King David Bowie passed away last week at age 69 from cancer. (As if that weren’t sad enough, Alan Rickman, the talented English actor who portrayed–among other memorable roles–misunderstood Potions professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter franchise, also passed away. At age 69. From cancer.) I’m not usually one for getting emotional about “celebrity” deaths–then again, this is the first time that someone well-known I actually really liked has died. I mean, when you’ve spent hours upon hours listening to someone’s music, feeling feels (I’m sorry, I’m not good with the words today) and getting inspired, it’s hard not to feel sad. Bowie is an artist who seemed larger than life, but his death was sort of a weird reminder that he was mortal, just like the rest of us. He’s left quite an impact over the years, a legacy I’m sure will endure far beyond his death.

There’s been a huge outpouring of grief over his passing and support for his family over social media, which, of course, not just any normal person would get, and I hope it brings some comfort to Iman and his kids–to know how many lives he touched. As a side note, I’ve found it a little strange that the press keeps calling his death “sudden.” For his fans, yes, it was unexpected, and I suppose that’s what they mean. But perhaps not for his family. An 18-month long battle with cancer is long and emotionally draining for all involved–and yet Bowie didn’t let it get in the way of creativity, of getting out one last album for his fans. That album, Blackstar, has become his first number 1 selling album here in the U.S., which is awesome but at the same time a little depressing. He had many other albums that deserved to get that spot, but death has that kind of effect on art.

I can’t say that, without Bowie, there would be no Reborn series, but it would probably be a somewhat different series. His songs and various stage and film personas have definitely inspired me, and will continue to do so. So, as my own little tribute to the Thin White Duke, here is a top ten list of my favorite Bowie songs. This was hard to compile, since I like most of his work. But I made myself pick 10 that mean something personal to me, or that I just simply love. Also, except for number 10, this list doesn’t include some of his collaborations that I like (like Placebo’s Without You I’m Nothing and the PSB remix of Hallo Spaceboy). They may not necessarily be everybody’s favorites or critical darlings, but this is my blog and my list, dammit. And feel free to share your favorites in the comments!

10. Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy

This is probably a random one, but for me, this is the song that started it all. Before I heard this delightful Bing Crosby/Bowie duet on the radio circa Christmas 2005 (yes, the radio, this was pre-YouTube/Pandora/Spotify), all I had heard about David Bowie was that he was kind of weird. But then I heard this angelic voice singing with Bing and was surprised, in a good way, to learn who it was.

9. Oh! You Pretty Things

Probably one of the main reasons I like Bowie so much is due to my love for science fiction and fantasy. Much of his work, particularly in the 70s, incorporated sci-fi themes and characters. Oh! You Pretty Things has a sci-fi/dystopian flavor to it coupled with a lively tune, and the lyrics are pretty catchy, too. (Anna and Peter sing a duet of it in Relapse, which was also a bit of foreshadowing for things to come in future books).

8. Life on Mars?

I think this is probably one of his more famous tunes, although perhaps an acquired taste. The lyrics string together a series of seemingly disjointed scenes, but together they create a picture of a young person trying to make sense out of the world and images around them.

7. Moonage Daydream

Just like all of the songs that made this list, Moonage Daydream is one of my personal favorites–the only thing is, I’m not even sure why, haha. I just love this song.

6. Underground

I couldn’t write a Bowie top ten list without including a song from the Labyrinth soundtrack. Although there are lots of gems on there (Magic Dance, When the World Falls Down, Within You), I decided I had to go with Underground. At the risk of sounding pretentious, this song, from the soundtrack of an 80s children’s fantasy movie, sounds better than most of the songs they play on the radio today, lol.

5. Five Years

As an urban fantasy/paranormal romance writer, it takes me 200+ pages to create the world and story I envision in my head. It takes Bowie 3-5 minutes, in songs like Five Years (below), and Drive-In Saturday (an honorable mention).

4. Modern Love

80s Bowie likely had a bit more widespread appeal than Ziggy Stardust, and–although there was a disappointing lack of space/aliens–his hits during this phase of his career were fun and catchy. Modern Love is my second favorite thing (Labyrinth is the first) Bowie did in the 80s.

3. Rebel, Rebel

I think one of the reasons Bowie’s glam rock days have had such a lasting impact is that he showed people it’s okay to be “weird” (whatever that means to you). He was a voice for the outcasts of his generation, telling them “you’re not alone” in songs like Rock ‘n Roll Suicide. His most covered track (according to Wikipedia), Rebel, Rebel captures this spirit.  Also note his fabulous getup in this video.

2. Starman

Okay, so clearly Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust/glam rock days are my favorite. So many great songs, especially Starman.

1. Heroes

And, finally, my number 1 favorite song of all time, out of all the songs and all the musicians. Well, it might be tied with Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, but right now it has a slight edge. Heroes gives me chills and feels.

WIP Wednesday


It’s update time!

And it’s about time, too! My plan was to write one of these every Wednesday, but I think it’s been a little over a month since my last one. Although it’s not like it was ever an official New Year’s resolution or anything, so I don’t feel that guilty…

Anywho, the purpose of WIP (Work-In-Progress) Wednesdays is so I can set personal writing goals. It also serves as a way to let you all know what I’m working on. I hope you’ll join me and link back to your own.

To play, just fill in the following:

1. What are you currently writing?

2. Inspirations:

3. Plan for the upcoming week:

*****

1. What are you currently writing?

I’ve mentioned this in other blog posts, but I am still working on Relapse (the sequel to Reborn). I mean, it’s definitely a work in progress. I didn’t really touch it at all over my holiday break, and then I had a pretty annoying case of writer’s block for about a month. I had written the first few chapters, but I didn’t like much of  it. I knew where the story was going but was stuck transitioning from the very beginning to those other things. Sometimes I jump ahead and write whatever comes to me, even if it belongs later in the story, but in this case I really felt like the beginning had to be ironed out more before I could go on. (How do you write? Do you go in a particular order, or write whatever comes to you and piece it all together later? Or some other way?)

The good news is, I’m on a bit of a roll now. I fixed the part I hated, and I’m really excited about it again. In the past week or so I’ve written 3200 words. My word count goal for the whole book is 70K, so we’ll see how that goes.

2. Inspirations:

Those of you who have followed The Urge to Write may have noticed my small tendency to obsess over things. One of my obsessions is the 80s, particularly 80s music and fantasy/sci-fi films. There’s just something magical about the combination of 80s fashion, hair and music with fantastical elements like vampires (think The Lost Boys) and, er, goblin kings. So as tokens of my current obsessions, I leave you with a picture of young Billy Idol and the music video of Gary Numan’s Cars. (I love this song. Gary has about as much charisma as a sea bass, but that actually kind of seems to work for him here.)

3. Plan for the upcoming week:

To write at least 1500 more words of Relapse. I also have some fun blog posts in mind. The first is Part 2 of my Reborn dream cast. The other is a post dedicated to one of my other ongoing obsessions: misunderstood fictional characters.

Isn’t it Bro-mantic?


I realized I haven’t composed nearly enough Top 10 lists on The Urge to Write. So what better time to write one than during the Scandal commercial breaks? (It’s arguably more productive than what I did during the commercials of Sunday’s Once Upon A Time, which was to watch the prior week’s episode on my lap top…..) And what could be better than a list of the Top 10 Bromances?

According to Wikipedia. a bromance is a close, non-sexual relationship between at least two men, a form of affectional intimacy. 😉

Women are usually thought of as forming closer bonds than men, but as the following duos show, fictional men, at least, can enjoy powerful, nearly unbreakable bonds with one another (although the occasional girl may come between them, as you will see). My list of the Top 10 Bromances spans decades and includes characters from my all-time favorite books, TV shows and movies of a variety of genres (fantasy, sci-fi, comedy, “dramedy”). And one non-fictional pair, as you will see…

Be sure to share your favorite bromances in the comments!

10. Adam Black and Darroc

This bromance is worth a mention since I recently devoured Karen Moning’s The Immortal Highlander. I enjoyed this back story bromance between the mischievous Adam Black (Puck being one of his many other aliases) and Council Elder Darroc. I loved this idea of two reckless Fae princes conquering Fairy and Earth together:

“Watching Adam with his little human had reminded him [Darroc] of the times long ago when they’d ridden the Wild Hunt together, when they’d hunted like brother-gods, invincible and free, ruled by nothing and no one…Mortals had been nothing more to them than lowly beasts, good for a chase, amusing to play with…”

Unfortunately, by the time the events in the book happen, Adam must stop his now arch-nemesis Darroc from overthrowing Aoibheal and freeing the Unseelie from their icy dark prison. And well, if you’ve read the Fever series, you know how that eventually turns out…

9. Evan and Cappie

Freshman year at the fictional Cyprus-Rhodes University of ABC Family’s Greek, rich playboy Evan Chambers and adorable slacker Cappie were once roommates and bffs. Unfortunately, when this show commenced their friendship had already entered rocky terrain: They’ve joined opposing fraternities, and Evan is dating Cappie’s ex, ZBZ sister Casey. Although I spent most of Greek‘s four seasons waiting for Cappie and Casey to finally get back together (and stay that way), the Evan/Cappie on-again, off-again bromance was another central conflict on the show. Fortunately, by the series finale the two seem to finally make amends, although I’m not sure they could ever truly go back to those early carefree days of freshman year.

8. Shawn and Gus

I haven’t talked about my love for Psych much on this blog, but if you haven’t checked it out yet, this show is seriously awesome and hilarious. Shawn and Gus have been best friends since they were kids and despite the fact that they are polar opposites. Shawn is ridiculously perceptive, which serves him well in his job as a “psychic” consultant to the Santa Barbara PD, but he drifts through life rather aimlessly; on the other hand, Gus has a serious job as a pharmaceutical rep and is more focused and level-headed. Nevertheless, these two are the very definition of best friends forever as they solve mysteries and get into all sorts of mischief (courtesy of Shawn).

7. Howard and Raj probably have one of the most special friendships out of the entire gang on The Big Bang Theory. But seriously, beyond all of the jokes about their “ersatz homosexual relationship,” in the earliest seasons Howard and Raj are two single nerds banding together in search of comic books and, of course, love. Of course, Howard doesn’t completely reform his  creepster ways until he meets charming microbiologist Bernadette, but I think this also has a positive influence on his friendship with Raj, making it a little less codependent but still solid.

6. Finn Hudson and Kurt Hummel

This is the first (but not the last) brother duo on this list -well, step-brother duo. Glee’s Finn and Kurt didn’t start off as allies; due to his reputation as the cute, clean-cut jock at McKinley High, Finn was initially wary of the merging of the Hudson-Hummels and of having a gay friend/step-brother. Kurt wasn’t particularly sensitive to Finn’s feelings, either. But by the end of Season 3, Finn has amassed the courage to stand up for Glee Club, Kurt and their friendship. Glee is one of the few shows (if not the only one) at least in the United States that portrays a friendship between a gay teenage boy and a straight one, period, while also doing so with tact and grace.

“In Glee Club whenever two of us got together we got a nickname. Rachel and I are Finchel. Rachel and Puck were Puckleberry. And today a new union is formed: Furt. You and I, man. We’re brothers from another mother.”

5. David Bowie and Iggy Pop

And yet again, I manage to include my two favorite people! In fact, the only reason they’re not higher up on the list is because they’re real people. I know I should have probably kept this focused -confined to fictional characters -but I can’t resist. There’s just something epic about picturing these two musicians collaborating together in Berlin -writing songs, performing, and being generally awesome. They’re even making a movie about those creative years in Berlin. (I’m not getting paid to endorse the movie or anything like that, I’m just orgasmically excited about it-so much so that I’m making up words.)

4. The Salvatore Brothers

Although many differences exist between The Vampire Diaries TV series and the original L. J. Smith books, one steadfast theme is the bond between Stefan and Damon Salvatore. Sure, they’ve fallen twice fallen for the same girl -the enticing vampire Katherine and later for her doppelgänger Elena. This show is now in its fourth tumultuous season, and it’s becoming harder and harder to see Stefan as just the “good brother” and Damon as the bad guy. Stefan’s relapsed into his dark side, the notorious Ripper, and we’ve seen Damon let his guard down as far as Elena’s concerned as well as caught glimpses of a more selfless Damon. Even through their ups and downs, Stefan and Damon know they can depend on each other and trust the other to keep Elena safe.

(Damon:) “I was hoping we could hang. You know a little brother bonding. I know we don’t actually “hang out”. We team up, we join forces, we activate our Wonder twin powers.”

3. Harry Potter and Ron Weasley

Of course, part of the true magic of J. K. Rowling’s epic series lies in the dynamic of the main trio -Harry, Ron and Hermoine -but since tonight’s focus is on bromances, we will consider Harry/Ron. These two are a team from their start at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and remain friends well into adulthood, as is evident in the epilogue of The Deathly Hallows. They follow in the footsteps of James Potter and Sirius Black, getting wrapped up in all sorts of mischief and shenanigans (or rather, the mayhem finds them, Harry being the Chose One and all). Throughout all of their adventures in and out of Hogwarts, Harry and Ron fight for goodness and peace in both the wizard and Muggle worlds.

2. Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee

If this list only contained book bromances, Frodo and Sam would be number one. I mean, come on –theirs is the quintessential bromance. They leave their cozy shire to go on the ultimate adventure with a company of dwarves, elves and humans. Although they find true friends in their new allies, only Sam can help Frodo overcome his obsession with the One Ring in order to destroy it at the very end. Sam’s loyalty to Frodo is  unwavering.

(Frodo:) “I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.”

1. Captain James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock

Another classic example of two best friends having epic adventures, only this time exploring space, that final frontier. Although its special effects are quite outdated now, the themes of friendship and the exploration of the unknown (I can’t seem to say what I want to say without it sounding like I’m talking about something else…)  in The Original Series are timeless. Wikipedia tells me that the Kirk/Spock dynamic also inspired a lot of sexy fanfic back in the day and has greatly influenced the development of these communities as we know them today. I am also a fan of J. J. Abram’s reinvention of the franchise (I’ve watched it so many times I’ve lost count), in which we saw Kirk and Spock’s mutual animosity blossom into the bromance we know and love.

Sunday Showdown: Meg Ryan v. the 22-Year-Old Cocktail Waitress


After a busy week, yesterday I retreated to the warm and fuzzy black hole that is my couch with a serious case of the sniffles and popped in a few of my favorite movies – among them, my ultimate favorite romantic comedy, “You’ve Got Mail.” And now to go along with my cold, I have a serious case of the 90s.

With this post, I know I risk echoing Mindy Kaling’s rom com-obsessed character on her new show, “The Mindy Project” (which is awesome, by the way.) And I realize that nostalgia fills us with a deceptive longing for times gone by: Although we’d like to think so, music, movies, TV shows, etc. probably weren’t really any better back in the day, as much as we like to think so. Ascertaining that the pop culture of the past is better than today’s gives us a sense of superiority over more fledgling generations.

Despite this, I would like to argue that rom coms were, in fact, better in the 90s (at the risk of sounding like an old fart).

1. Meg Ryan

First off, I love Meg Ryan’s rom coms. I know that type-casting her in these roles probably cost her other, more challenging roles, but she is the quintessential 90s rom com heroine. Although “You’ve Got Mail” is my favorite, other adorable movies with her are “Sleepless in Seattle,” “Kate and Leopold,” and probably also “When Harry Met Sally,” which I admittedly have never watched (although I want to, just haven’t gotten around to it). Kathleen Kelly is beautiful, a bookworm and a career woman. She owns her family’s book store, Shop Around the Corner, and has aspirations to write children’s books. When her privately owned bookstore is threatened by the big, bad chain store Fox Books (ironic from today’s perspective since even those have been trumped by Amazon), she “goes to the mattresses” to try to save her business. Ultimately, she must gracefully close the Shop Around the Corner, but she emerges from this journey as an even more ambitious, self-motivated woman. Kathleen Kelly is a smart and strong leading lady, and “You’ve Got Mail” itself is as witty and intelligent as rom coms come. And of course, the dynamic between Ryan’s character and Tom Hanks’ Joe Fox is utterly adorable. Other pluses: Dave Chappelle plays Hanks’ bff, and Greg Kinnear’s technophobic Frank Navasky owns about a zillion typewriters.

2. The 22-Year-Old Cocktail Waitress

In case you were born circa 1995 or so and aren’t familiar with the sheer awesomeness that is “You’ve Got Mail,” the title of my post derives from one of Kathleen Kelly’s quips in response to finding out Joe Fox’s true identity: “‘Joe’? ‘Just call me Joe’? As if you were one of those stupid 22-year old girls with no last name? ‘Hi, I’m Kimberly!’ ‘Hi, I’m Janice!’ Don’t they know you’re supposed to have a last name? It’s like they’re an entire generation of cocktail waitresses.”

Although I have nothing against the rom com actresses of, ahem, my generation (I am in twenties), there is something lacking in more recent rom coms. Sure, they’re cute…I would watch “How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days” and “Letters to Juliet” more than once. But others, like the disappointing movie version of Sophie Kinsella’s witty book “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” depicts the main female character as the vapid, materialistic cocktail waitress suggested by the quote above. And, as much of a fan I am of the rest of the franchise, the second “Sex and the City” movie catered to a very similar idea. Gone are the ambitious career women who are able to balance work, life and love; in their place are ladies whose penchant for buying shoes they can’t afford isn’t really that funny anymore. And no, it’s not really Isla Fisher’s fault, but a combination of crappy writing and gearing of script towards an audience they believe exists due to the shenanigans of those around my age who are in the public eye (I’m looking at you, Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian).

 

Or maybe it’s Sunday night, I’m still sick and hopped up on cold medicine and thinking way too deeply about this.

So, what do you think of 90s (or even 80s) rom coms versus those of today? Which are your favorites, and why? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!