Monday, January 14, 2019

Musical Monday - Master Blaster (Jammin') by Stevie Wonder


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: December 6, 1980 through December 13, 1980.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

Stevie Wonder was, and is, one of the funkiest men who ever lived and this song (along with Superstition) is one of the primary exhibits I would advance in support of that assertion. The only thing that I wonder is how Wonder got from the upper realms of funkdom to the soft rock swamps of songs like I Just Called to Say I Love You, but that's a head scratcher for another day.

This song is, at its core, Stevie Wonder paying homage to another one of the great musicians of his day, specifically Bob Marley, and to the Afrocentrism that he represented. Master Blaster is not quite a memorial to Bob Marley - since Bob Marley wouldn't die until 1981, well after this song was released, but it is clearly inspired by Marley's association with the Zimbabwean independence movement that bore fruit in 1980 and was celebrated with Marley's two concerts in Harare on April 18th and 19th of 1980. You can feel the optimism and elation in this song. Sure, in subsequent years, Zimbabwe has had some hard times - some of them at least partially self-inflicted - but in 1980, you can see how it felt like a new age for Africa was dawning. To a certain extent that was true, it just took longer to get here than anyone expected. Despite the uncertainty that faced nations like Zimbabwe, in 1980 it was still possible to believe in a bright future, and Stevie eagerly joined Marley in celebrating from the beginning. His joy is infectious.

Previous Musical Monday: Super Trouper by ABBA
Subsequent Musical Monday: (Just like) Starting Over by John Lennon

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Lady by Kenny Rogers
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: (Just like) Starting Over by John Lennon

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Stevie Wonder     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Challenges - SpaceTime Reading Challenge


Every year I try to find a science fiction oriented reading challenge to participate in. Thus far, I have been disappointed every year, as these genre challenges always seem to founder and fall apart due to poor administration or disinterest on the part of the hosts. I keep searching, hoping that every year I will finally find the challenge that will stay around. In furtherance of that quest, in 2019 I am going to take on the SpaceTime Reading Challenge hosted by Jemima Pett. The parameters are simple: Read science fiction and time travel books. Since I was going to do that anyway, this seems like a good challenge for me to jump into.

The SpaceTime Reading Challenge:
None Yet

2019 Challenge Tracking Pages
12th Annual Graphic Novel & Manga Challenge 2019
2019 Dystopia Reading Challenge
2019 Linz Reading Challenge
2019 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge
2019 TBR Pile Challenge
Dancing with Fantasy and Sci-Fi – A (2019) Reading Challenge
Print Only 2019 Reading Challenge

Multi-Year Challenge Tracking Pages
101 Fantasy Reading Challenge
Read All the Books Challenge

Not a Challenge:
The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2019

2019 Challenges     Home

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Book Blogger Hop January 11th - January 17th: Emperor Maximian Attempted to Invade Britain and Wrest Control of the Island from the Usurper Carausius in 289 A.D.


Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: What is your first book of the year?

My first book of the year is The Clingerman Files by Mildred Clingerman, a compilation of the author's short fiction. I am currently in the middle of the book, and I should have a review of it posted by early next week.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Friday, January 11, 2019

Challenges - Print Only 2019 Reading Challenge


This year, I am participating in a print only reading challenge, specifically the Print Only 2019 Reading Challenge hosted by As Told by Tina. The parameters of the challenge are in the title - reading physical printed copies of books. Any kind of printed book will do: hardback, trade paperback, mass market paperback, even board books, so long as they are not e-books. Given that I don't actually own any e-books, and all of the thousands of books on by to-be-read pile are physical copies, this challenge is a natural fit for me.

The Print Only 2019 Challenge:
None Yet

2019 Challenge Tracking Pages
12th Annual Graphic Novel & Manga Challenge 2019
2019 Dystopia Reading Challenge
2019 Linz Reading Challenge
2019 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge
2019 TBR Pile Challenge
Dancing with Fantasy and Sci-Fi – A (2019) Reading Challenge
SpaceTime Reading Challenge

Multi-Year Challenge Tracking Pages
101 Fantasy Reading Challenge
Read All the Books Challenge

Not a Challenge:
The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2019

2019 Challenges     Home

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Challenges - Dancing with Fantasy and Sci-Fi – A (2019) Reading Challenge


Every year I try to find a science fiction or fantasy related challenge. In the past, these types of genre challenges have always seemed to kind of fall apart as a result of bad administration by the hosts. This year, I am participating in the Dancing with Fantasy and Sci-Fi – A (2019) Reading Challenge hosted by A Dance With Books, and I am quite obviously hoping that this challenge is better run than its predecessors. The challenge consists of three sets of prompts, and completing each section earns the participant a "title". The prompts are as follows:

Fantasy:
1. Classic fantasy
2. Magic school
3. Necromancers
4. PTSD
5. Dragons
6. Fairytale (retelling)
7. Grimdark
8. Ghosts
9. Uncommon fantasy creatures
10. Shapeshifters
11. Gods
12. Animal companion
13. Maternal heritage
14. Set in our world
15. Witches
16. Magical law enforcement
17. Thief
18. Pirates
19. Portal fantasy
20. Warrior

Those who complete this section earn the title Fire Breathing Dragon.

Sci-Fi:
1. On a different planet
2. Utopia
3. Space ship
4. Steampunk
5. Time travel
6. Artificial intelligence POV
7. Proto science-fiction
8. Hive
9. Alien
10. Virtual reality
11. Super powers
12. Science
13. Replicate
14. Space colonization
15. Mecha
16. Space creatures/beasts
17. Teleportation
18. Space Western
19. The Moon
20. Invasion

Those who complete this section earn the title Complete Alien.

Generic:
1. Satire
2. Under 500 pages
3. Under 800 pages
4. Novella
5. Finish a series
6. Mental health
7. Disability
8. Published before 1990
9. Set in Africa
10. Library
11. By a woman of color
12. One word title

Those who complete this section earn the title Generic Robot.

Those who complete all three sections earn the title Dragon Alien Robot.

2018 Challenge Tracking Pages
12th Annual Graphic Novel & Manga Challenge 2019
2019 Dystopia Reading Challenge
2019 Linz Reading Challenge
2019 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge
2019 TBR Pile Challenge
Print Only 2019 Reading Challenge
SpaceTime Reading Challenge

Multi-Year Challenge Tracking Pages
101 Fantasy Reading Challenge
Read All the Books Challenge

Not a Challenge:
The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2019

2019 Challenges     Home

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Challenges - 2019 TBR Pile Challenge


I have participated in TBR challenges in previous years, but I was unsatisfied with their administration. This year, I am participating in a new TBR challenge, specifically the 2019 TBR Pile Challenge hosted by Roof Beam Reader. The premise of this challenge is to read books that have been sitting in your TBR pile for at least one full year. I have literally thousands of books that fit that description, so this is an almost perfect challenge for me to participate in.

The 2019 TBR Pile Challenge:
None Yet

2019 Challenge Tracking Pages
12th Annual Graphic Novel & Manga Challenge 2019
2019 Dystopia Reading Challenge
2019 Linz Reading Challenge
2019 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge
Dancing with Fantasy and Sci-Fi – A (2019) Reading Challenge
Print Only 2019 Reading Challenge
SpaceTime Reading Challenge

Multi-Year Challenge Tracking Pages
101 Fantasy Reading Challenge
Read All the Books Challenge

Not a Challenge:
The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2019

2019 Challenges     Home

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Challenges - 2019 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge


In 2019 I am going to take on the 2019 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge hosted by Everyday Gyaan. The object of this challenge is to read more than you did in 2018. For me, this shouldn't be too hard, since 2018 was an absolutely terrible reading year for me in which I only read twelve books. I figure I'll at least double that figure, and I'm aiming to quintuple it or more.

The 2019 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge:
None Yet

2019 Challenge Tracking Pages
12th Annual Graphic Novel & Manga Challenge 2019
2019 Dystopia Reading Challenge
2019 Linz Reading Challenge
2019 TBR Pile Challenge
Dancing with Fantasy and Sci-Fi – A (2019) Reading Challenge
Print Only 2019 Reading Challenge
SpaceTime Reading Challenge

Multi-Year Challenge Tracking Pages
101 Fantasy Reading Challenge
Read All the Books Challenge

Not a Challenge:
The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2019

2019 Challenges     Home

Monday, January 7, 2019

Musical Monday - Super Trouper by ABBA


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: November 20, 1980 through December 13, 1980.

Super Trouper is a song about a type of spotlight, proving that ABBA could make a hit song about almost anything. This was ABBA's ninth and final number one hit in the U.K., and I generally regard it as one of the dying gasps of the 1970s era of music.

I've said elsewhere that the oddity of ABBA is that they were huge Beatles-level superstars in almost every part of the world other than the United States, where they had only moderate success. When this song reached number one in the U.K., ABBA had the fourth most top hits in that country behind the Beatles, Elvis Presley, and Cliff Richard. They held that position for nearly two decades until Madonna scored her tenth number one hit in the U.K. with Music in 2000.

I first encountered ABBA when I was living in Tanzania, and the community that my family socialized with included people from around the world, but most notably people from Norway, the Netherlands, and the U.K., which meant that ABBA was played frequently. My parents entertained a lot (in some part because it was a requirement of my father's job), and ABBA (along with Boney M and Santa Esmerelda) were always on the party playlist. I still remember being a kid and watching clouds of tipsy adults dancing on my parents' enormous back patio, rocking out to ABBA song after ABBA song. This was my first exposure to "grown-up" parties, and it was full of ridiculous European disco that somehow never became popular in the United States.

Previous Musical Monday: Lady by Kenny Rogers
Subsequent Musical Monday: Master Blaster (Jammin') by Stevie Wonder

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: The Tide Is High by Blondie
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: (Just like) Starting Over by John Lennon

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

ABBA     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Challenge - 2019 Linz Reading Challenge


In 2019 I am going to take on the 2019 Reading Challenge hosted by Linz the Bookworm. This challenge consists of several reading prompts divided into five categories. My goal for this year is to complete all five categories. The prompts are as follows:

Level 1: Book of the Month Club
1. Read a book with a red cover.
2. Read a young adult fiction book.
3. Read a book under 300 pages.
4. Read a book you got for free.
5. Reread the first book of a series you love.
6. Read a book that takes place during the summer.
7. Read a book whose title starts with the letter M.
8. Read a romance novel.
9. Read a book that has been turned into a TV Show or Movie.
10. Read a book with a title done in alliteration (example: Pride and Prejudice).
11. Read a New York Time's Best Seller (past or present).
12. Free Space - Pick any book to read!

Level 2: Casual Reader Club
13. Read a book by John Grisham.
14. Read a fantasy novel.
15. Read a book with a color in the title.
16. Reread a book you have recommended to someone else.
17. Read a detective novel.
18. Read a book with a number in the title.
19. Read a book about dragons.
20. Read a book published by Penguin Random House.
21. Read a book found on Project Gutenberg.
22. Read a book about an artist (fictional or real).
23. Read a book that was published in 1999.
24. Free Space - Pick any book to read!

Level 3: Dedicated Reader Club
25. Read book 1 in a trilogy.
26. Read book 2 in the same trilogy.
27. Read book 3 in the same trilogy.
28. Read a book recommended by a friend on social media.
29. Read a book about a librarian.
30. Read a book about breaking a code or a treasure hunt.
31. Read a book by Brandon Sanderson.
32. Read a book that takes place in a large city.
33. Read a book suggested by What Should I Read Next.
34. Read a book for under $3.00.
35. Read a book with exactly three words in the title.
36. Free Space - Pick any book to read!

Level 4: Speed-Reader Club
37.) Read a book over 500 pages.
38.) Read a book about time travel.
39.) Read a book with a form of weather in the title.
40.) Read a book published in 1969.
41.) Read a book authored by a Catherine/Katherine or variant.
42.) Read a book by Anne Rice.
43.) Read a book from Time's All-Time Top 100 Book List (find it here).
44.) Read a coming of age novel.
45.) Read a book involving mythology.
46.) Read a self-published book.
47.) Read a book with the word "dream" in the title.
48.) Free Space - Pick any book to read!

Level 5: Overachiever Club
49.) Read a book on a banned book list.
50.) Read the most recent book in a series you haven't finished.
51.) Read a book that you judged by its cover (either positively or negatively).
52.) Read a book that takes place in your home state.
53.) Read a book that takes place before 1965.
54.) Read a biography.
55.) Read a book you've previously abandoned.
56.) Read a book about a real or fictional politician.
57.) Read a book set in Asia.
58.) Read a book with a tree or forest on the cover.
59.) Read a book with the letter Z in the title.
60.) Free Space - Pick any book to read!

2019 Challenge Tracking Pages
12th Annual Graphic Novel & Manga Challenge 2019
2019 Dystopia Reading Challenge
2019 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge
2019 TBR Pile Challenge
Dancing with Fantasy and Sci-Fi – A (2019) Reading Challenge
Print Only 2019 Reading Challenge
SpaceTime Reading Challenge

Multi-Year Challenge Tracking Pages
101 Fantasy Reading Challenge
Read All the Books Challenge

Not a Challenge:
The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2019

2019 Challenges     Home

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Book Blogger Hop January 4th - January 10th: 288 Is "Two Gross", Which Is Often Used as a Pun Among Math Nerds


Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Any books you are looking forward to for 2019?

The book I am most looking forward to in 2019 is The Dragon Republic, R.F. Kuang's upcoming sequel to her book The Poppy War. I am also looking forward to Tiamat's Wrath, the eighth book in James S.A. Corey's Expanse series. I am sure there are a few other books that I should be looking forward to, but the last few months have been so dominated by preparations for buying our new place, and then moving from our old place to our new one that I simply don't have my ear to the ground concerning upcoming releases the way I normally do.

Previous Book Blogger Hop: The First Indiction Began in 287 A.D.

Book Blogger Hop     Home

Friday, January 4, 2019

Challenges - 2019 Dystopia Reading Challenge


In 2019 I am going to take on the 2019 Dystopia Reading Challenge hosted by Hope, Faith, and Books. I am aiming at reading a fair amount of science fiction and fantasy, and both genres have a fair amount of dystopian fiction contained within them, so this challenge will dovetail pretty well with my projected reading.

The 2019 Dystopia Reading Challenge:
None Yet

2019 Challenge Tracking Pages
12th Annual Graphic Novel & Manga Challenge 2019
2019 Linz Reading Challenge
2019 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge
2019 TBR Pile Challenge
Dancing with Fantasy and Sci-Fi – A (2019) Reading Challenge
Print Only 2019 Reading Challenge
SpaceTime Reading Challenge

Multi-Year Challenge Tracking Pages
101 Fantasy Reading Challenge
Read All the Books Challenge

Not a Challenge:
The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2019

2019 Challenges     Home

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Challenges - 12th Annual Graphic Novel & Manga Challenge 2019


In 2019 I am going to once again take on the graphic novels challenge hosted by the 12th Annual Graphic Novels and Manga Challenge 2019 Facebook group. I don't have a firm plan, although I will definitely be following up on all of the graphic novels I read in 2018 and trying to read more Captain Marvel, Lumberjanes, Monstress, Ms. Marvel, Saga, and Sex Criminals. I still have several volumes of Girl Genius, and the entire run of Order of the Stick to get to as well. If I get ambitious, I'll get a start on reviewing my Asterix collection and some of the Batman compilations I have. I seem to say this every year, but this may finally be the year that I finally get to reviewing my collection of For Better or for Worse.

The 12th Annual Graphic Novels and Manga Challenge 2018:
None Yet

2019 Challenge Tracking Pages
2019 Dystopia Reading Challenge
2019 Linz Reading Challenge
2019 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge
2019 TBR Pile Challenge
Dancing with Fantasy and Sci-Fi – A (2019) Reading Challenge
Print Only 2019 Reading Challenge
SpaceTime Reading Challenge

Multi-Year Challenge Tracking Pages
101 Fantasy Reading Challenge
Read All the Books Challenge

Not a Challenge:
The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2019

2019 Challenges     Home

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Challenge - The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2019


Once again, I am participating in multiple reading challenges this year. They all appear to be good challenges, but while I can use them to provide an annual catalog of the books I read and reviewed in the year, they are not quite comprehensive enough for my needs. In addition to reviewing books I also review magazine issues, movies, television episodes, and albums, and in order to capture all of these reviews as well as my book reviews I've created this tracking page, which I will use to provide links to my reviews as I post them. This isn't really a "challenge", but I'm listing it with my challenge pages anyway, just because I did this way in each of the last two years, and it is now a hoary old established tradition.

The Big List of Everything I've Reviewed in 2019:
None Yet

2019 Challenge Tracking Pages
12th Annual Graphic Novel & Manga Challenge
2019 Dystopia Reading Challenge
2019 Linz Reading Challenge
2019 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge
2019 TBR Pile Challenge
Dancing with Fantasy and Sci-Fi – A (2019) Reading Challenge
Print Only 2019 Reading Challenge
SpaceTime Reading Challenge

Multi-Year Challenge Tracking Pages
101 Fantasy Reading Challenge
Read All the Books Challenge

2019 Challenges     Home