Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Definitive BEST OF 2018 List!

Best Film of 2018:  BlacKkKlansman

Spike Lee and I are OLD friends. I've given him cash every once in a while.  Sometimes, he disappoints. This was a masterpiece.




Best Restaurant in 2018: Soup & Sausage Bistro on 7th and Thunderbird in Phoenix, AZ. My husband is slightly obsessed. He says it's like the Old Country, though he's never been to the Old Country.

Here's my mother-in-law with potato pancakes and a cabbage roll. (I personally recommend the Solyanka soup and cherry pierogies.)



Best High-Brow Art Experience: The Art Institute of Chicago!

High-brow, low-brow, whatever. See art!



Best Low-Brow Adventure: CLEARLY, Jack Sisemore Traveland RV Museum in Amarillo, Texas

I seriously loved this place. 




Best Book of 2018: Okay, we covered this here.


Best Audiobook Narration of 2016, But I Listened in 2018: Lin-Manuel Miranda narrates Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

(Let's ignore any controversy today.)



Best TV of 2018: The Handmaid’s Tale

Yes, I read the book and I know that the TV show is taking massive liberties. Frankly, they're doing a FAB job of it!



Best Family Binge Show: Great British Baking Show, for sure.

Do NOT talk to me about Liam Charles.




Pop Culture Event of 2018 For Middle-Aged Moms: I guess the Freakin’ Royal Wedding. But maybe this says it all. Yes, I think it does.

Kanye and Trump


Best Celebrity-Sighting of 2018: You guessed it. Alice Cooper


Runner-Up Sightings:
R.O. Kwon


Joseph Cassara (no personal photos!)


Trevor Noah:




Best Literary Fiasco: Me At My Dining Room Table Weeping Over My New Novel and Forming Bosco’s Going Down Press LLC (go here for info). But I also really had a good time at “Meet Your Literary Community” too.

LLC=OMG

I made stickers, but I keep forgetting to use them.



Avily Jerome, a writer, came over to my house for hours to help me out. 

Scott Hyder is my lawyer, and he worked a crazy amount to get BoGoDo going, and I can't believe that I actually have a lawyer. 

Meet Your Literary Community


Best Music of 2018: Um, I'll defer to Barack . . .

Here's the link to my book.



Oh, I Saw Hamilton! That was AMAZING.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Annotated Playlist!




So Largehearted Boy kindly posted the playlist for my new novel, And So We Die, Having First Slept on August 7, 2018--as a pretty cheap gift for my husband, Tim. It was our 14th anniversary. Time flies when you're, um, having fun . . .

However, my book didn't actually come out till mid-November. So I did this little annotated playlist bit, because I love the music so much.

Here's the original playlist from Largehearted Boy: click here.

And here is the countdown. BELOW IT ARE TWO GIVEAWAY OPTIONS!


Just because the music means so much to me, I'm doing a self-indulgent song countdown from the "official" playlist for my forthcoming novel, AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT. We're about two months out from pub (give or take a few days), and the whole list will be posted at that time--but for now . . . a song a day. This is the first one. I love this one because of this lyric: "But would you leave me/If I told you what I've done . . ." In the midst of blaming "the other," she points the finger at herself.

It's the countdown continued. Songs from the playlist for AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT. This is a book about church kids, about girls and getting married and hating life, about accepting and rejecting and about growing up with GODSPELL and separating tares from wheat . . . Number two. Day by Day.

Oh, the countdown continues! Songs from the playlist for AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT. I'm told #3 is a tired song. I distinctly remember saying to Christy Wolfe Haeuptle while we were driving in college town Tucson during the nineties, "I love this song." And she replied, "All girls do." THEY DO? And so #3, tired still, is "Jane Says" because the protagonist "only knows if someone wants her."

Countdown to Pub! (Give or take a few days!) #4 on the playlist for AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT is Neil Young's OHIO. The song has its bookish moment, "crooning" on the radio in an old Monte Carlo. Besides its context, I think--oddly--of Sherwood Anderson's WINESBURG, OHIO whenever I hear it. "How can you run when you know?"

Countdown to Pub with the songs of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT continues! I like to think that the book is rather epic. In that life, over time, is epic. And so Brett has a college era. #5 is Gillian Welch's "My First Lover." I love Gillian and her "quicksilver girl" wail.

I'm on #6 of the countdown, and we even plow through the weekends because AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT is music-imbued. This time, it's Tori Amos's "God." Have you seen Tori perform? I think she expresses the tension, the frenzy, the angst, the artistry--an existential crisis, an outcry, a kind of madness. Is she sacrilegious or just sad?

The countdown till pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT continues with one of the sweetest old songs ever. #7 is "Fire and Rain" by James Taylor. The novel covers ten years of a marriage, within twenty-five years of a woman's life. This song hits that note on loss, as youth ends: "I always thought that I'd see you again."Not to be crazy, but did you ever imagine those old relationships from youth would disappear so thoroughly?

With #8 in the countdown till pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT, we pretty much say goodbye to college and young love and all that formative stuff before the protagonist REALLY gets herself in trouble. Who better to capture that particular Gen X self-loathing mixed with poetry than Morrissey with "Late Night, Maudlin Street? I seriously think he captures the quiet despair and sex and end of the moment better than anyone.

Countdown till Pub (give or take days, weeks, months) of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT. #9 is a song you probably turn off if it comes on the radio, but once upon a time, you loved it 😜😜: Foreigner's "Cold As Ice." Because my protagonist is a cold, cold woman, maybe.

The Countdown till pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT is on #10. Being a grown-up. Kissing youthful angst goodbye. What happens next? Jefferson Airplane with "White Rabbit," yeah? (You gotta watch till the end.)

The Countdown Till Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT continues with #11. I think it's not so easy being past that flush of youth. Despite the hipster song vibe, Farewell Milwaukee's "Coming 'Round To Get You" hits upon the weight of adulthood? (Look at these millennials!)

The Countdown Till Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT is on Bob Dylan's "House of the Risin' Sun" at #12. I like the Dylan version best, but the song has an interesting background . . . its origins are unknown! In my novel, I associate it wholly with Cash, THE guy. Named after Johnny, not money.

Even though I'm all ARC-crazy, the countdown till pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT continues--weekend and all--#13 is Beck's "Go It Alone." An anthem, yeah? When the going gets tough, the tough go it alone--and going it alone is painful.

The Countdown till Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT continues with maybe the oddest, most perverse, and truest song on the playlist--you may need to be a little psycho to love Tori Amos's "The Waitress." This is Brett, the protagonist. "I believe in peace, bitch."

The Countdown To Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT continues with #15 on the playlist. Jack White doing "Love is Blindness." As you might imagine, I'm not a fan of U2 remakes--but, well, Jack White actually does their song BETTER than they do it. Here is the appropriate amount of anguish and rage.

The Countdown to Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT continues at 16 with some Stevie Nicks and "Edge of Seventeen! These are great lyrics, friends. The catcall of an older woman? The rage of a cougar? The seductress after innocence? Apparently, Nicks really meant none of this, though. I just run with "He was no more than a baby then/
Well he seemed broken hearted . . ." Check out the old man rockin' away in the opening of this video. . .

The Countdown Till Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT is on #17 with Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run." This is one of two Bruce songs on my playlist. I have a special relationship with him, so he influences me weirdly. First, I was introduced to him by my Trump-loving cousin with whom I no longer speak and this weirds me out and saddens me too (say hi for me, Whitney!)--I think I got Bruce in the divorce. Second, I associate my father's death with THE RISING. Third, This is one of the few musicians both my husband and I like. (He's not exactly listening to U2.) Fourth, I sometimes pretend we named one of our kids after this song. Fifth, it's THE GREAT GATSBY retold. Sixth, it fits my book too.

The Countdown To Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT--which I should probably hashtag or something--is on #19. Despite my well-known love/obsession/tragic-comic "relationship" with them, there is but one U2 song here, and it is "Moment of Surrender." I think U2 speaks a kind of truth that resonates with me, even as they stagger into cultural disdain. There's still truth here. This song really captures the marriage in my novel. "I tied myself with wire . . ."

The Countdown To Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT hits #19 with--get ready for it!--The Weather Girls' "It's Raining Men." And, well, this somehow fits with my novel in this one part.

Oh, man! I almost forgot.The Countdown to Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT is on #20 with "Rhiannon" by Fleetwood Mac. It's a beautiful, unrealistic song that women love, I think. Wouldn't you love to love her? Men: Yeah, I guess.

The Countdown To Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT continues with #21, Lori McKenna's "It's Easy When You Smile." (Listen to her "Josephine" sometime -- it doesn't fit my novel but I love it.) I guess that this is just a true love song!

The Countdown To Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT is on #22 with a I-Love-It-So-Much/borderline shmaltzy/THIS IS US kind of song . . . Loggins and Messina's "Danny's Song" --which is about beginnings and not endings.

The Countdown to Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT continues with a song I don't even like. But it's ironic, emblematic. My list is pretty epic--good stuff, bad stuff, old stuff, new stuff. So here's Olivia Newton John's "Physical." Check out this version. Tolerable?

The Countdown To Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT continues with #24--still in the oldies section. It's a type of song. Tell me if you think I'm right? Songs about women that women love in some kind of self-reflective way that really bears little weight on the reality of how they're perceived by others but they kinda want to think it does? America's "Sister Golden Hair." I mean, it's a great song. #amimakingsense?

The Countdown To Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT is on #25. I am soooooo not a Lynyrd Skynyrd Girl, but this is a great song, a great myth in America, and we're in a dark part of the novel. "Simple Man." I doubt I've met him, and if I have, I probably didn't like him???? Awesome song, though. #cynicaltoday

The Countdown To Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT is on #26. It's a great song. Prince's "When Doves Cry." Best Figurative Language Award, right here, folks: this is what it sounds like when doves cry. Oh. And the indictment: maybe you're just like my mother . . .

The Countdown To Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT is on #27 with one of my all-time fave songs by Bruce Springsteen off of one of my fave albums of all-time: "Atlantic City" from NEBRASKA. Did you read his memoir? It's ENDLESS, meandering, beautifully poetic storytelling. Thank God he told these compact stories in song. I love this one so much, and it's my novel up and down.

The Countdown To Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT continues with #28. It just has its moment, even though it's hard for me to listen all the way through and I better not tag my spouse. MC Hammer's U Can't Touch This.

The Countdown To Publication of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT is on #29. It's PJ Harvey's "We Float" I could say a lot about PJ (and there's another song later, so I'll say more). One astute friend said to me once--I'm paraphrasing--"You're really more of a PJ Harvey girl than a Bono girl." I replied, "Yes, but I wanna be a Bono girl." And there you go. My novel in a nutshell.

The Countdown To Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT is on #30 (I realized yesterday that I was supposed to start from the end and work my way to the beginning, but I'm going for the narrative continuity thing. There's trouble in the novel right now.) Aretha's "Chain of Fools." The thing I love about this song is that she has a way of sounding powerful in a song about being rendered weak. This is an Aretha Franklin thing.

The Countdown To Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT is on a potentially not-good song, though I like it? Especially because of the break? The inherent contradiction? But I completely lost touch with all of pop culture during my early mom days when this song influenced the writing of a particular novel part. I don't know if Default is in the Nickelback Category, if you know what I mean. Here's  #31: "Wasting My Time" by Default. Listen for the contradiction. Frankly, I really love this song. ️ Hits me hard. ️ "I see you waiting." Crux of the novel in a stupid song.

The Countdown to Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT lands on #32 with the Cold War Kids singing "St. John." Biola University kids with a great band name. "Another supper time in the hole/I shame my family, shame my home."

Can't Stop The Music! Really, my book came out early (😍👊🐣), but I love the songs so much, and it'll take us into Dec. Some of this music is so good, so The Non-Countdown to Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT continues with #33 after a tiny hiatus wherein I caught my breath. I think I'm on a cheesy song. Well, some consider it cheese, inauthentic, flash-in-the-pan, Nickelback-esque. I like it. Staind. "It's Been Awhile." Who among you has loved an addict? Nice version.

The Non-Countdown to Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT continues with #34 because I love the music so much . . .Cage the Elephant's "Ain't No Rest For The Wicked." Best Band Name. Says Un-pretty Things. You either feel this song or you don't? WATCH THIS VERSION.

The Non-Countdown to Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT continues with #35 because I love the music so much. It's Levon Helm's "False-hearted Lover Blues." Just a great song about deception and lonesome graves.

The Non-Countdown to Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT continues with #36 just because . . . "You Never Get What You Want" by Patty GriffIin. Reminiscent of the Stones and "You Can't Always Get What You Want." But here's a girl.


The Non-Countdown to Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT continues with #37. It's the Tragically Hip's "Long Time Running." Lead singer Gord Downie died of brain cancer in Oct 2017, at the age of 53. I was introduced to the band by my Kate Moss-lookalike Canadian roommate in Manhattan in the nineties. I will forever love Gord's tragically hip plaintive cry, even on the soundtrack to "Anne With An E." Gord, I miss you, Gord! ROAD APPLES is in my Top Ten!

The Non-Countdown to Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT continues with #38. I apologize for the reprieve. I keep taking days off. There are 5 million songs, and I'll do some giveaways when it's over, in time for the Holidays. There is no one else like her. NO ONE. Nina Simone and "My Man's Gone Now."

The Non-Countdown to Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT continues with #39. Jacob Banks' "Chainsmoking." I love this song. It's getting harder to breathe. Watch him. He's got that thing.

And now we go till the bitter (?) end . . . The Non-Countdown to Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT continues with #40. "Broadripple is Burning" by Margot and the Nuclear So and So's. Really? Can you get any more millennial? And yet this is somehow universal and timeless and about an era, yeah?

The Non-Countdown to Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT continues with #41. It's, like, my secret fave. "C'mon, Billy" by PJ Harvey. I love all of my blurbs for several reasons, but I drooled when Tim Horvathnailed it--ABSOLUTELY NAILED IT--by suggesting the voice "vamps." Oh, I wanted to vamp. You better believe it. And here is my spirit sister, the ugly/beautiful/crazy/vamp/mother-of-your-child, Polly Jean . . . How's that for an intro to a song?

Assuming you recovered from PJ Harvey, The White Stripes with "Prickly Thorn But Sweetly Worn." We're deep in the novel now and it's a little personal. Everyone know I love Bono, but not everyone knows that I love the White Stripes and Jack. And, in my early postpartum-not-really-depression, my toddlers danced to the White Stripes. I seriously had two toddlers dancing to this stuff. Dreaming of writing a novel,

The Non-Countdown to Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT continues with #43. Now, we're into all the great songs. Liz Phair's "Divorce Song." Were you one of those Gen Xers listening to EXILE IN GUYVILLE? She sang this true song, and it hit hard. "And when I asked for a separate room . . . "

The Non-Countdown to Pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT continues with #44. It’s OUR song. No joke. Ask anyone who knows us, “Which Led Zep song fits Jennifer and Tim?” They all say this one. Like 100% of them. No doubt it haunts my writing, this novel. There’s a sweet secret in this song, of course.

We're well into the pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT but I like music, so it's #45 (GIVEAWAYS WHEN WE'RE DONE!). "Sail" by AWOLNATION: Maybe I should kill myself . . . Blame it on my ADD . . .This is how an angel cries. PS I don't listen to this crap, but alas Tim Bell brought it home and it became part of my life. GREAT FOOTAGE, TIM.

We're well into the pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT but I like music, so it's #46 (GIVEAWAYS WHEN WE'RE DONE!). “Lord O Lord” by the Ferocious Few. I like the wail of it. Here’s a contemporary psalm. David, poet, plaintive.

We're well into the pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT but I like music, so it's #47 (GIVEAWAYS WHEN WE'RE DONE!). It's "Emmylou" by Vance Joy. I think this guy writes the best lines! You wear your socks to bed . . . How perfect is that? And my book is all about figuring out the love story. What is it, anyway? This song, I melt.

We're well into the pub of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT but I like music, so it's #48 (GIVEAWAYS WHEN WE'RE DONE!). Elliot Brood's "Write It All Down For You." This is a song for writers. Sowing what you say. I thought they were Irish, but they're Canadian hipster kids.

Oh, man! The book is out! The music behind/buried within/on my mind during the writing of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT. The giveaways are coming. At #49, Missy Higgins with “The Special Two.” When you're young you have this image of your life/
That you'll be scrupulous and one day even make a wife/And you make boundaries you'd never dream to cross . . .


The book is out! The music behind/buried within/on my mind during the writing of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT. The giveaways are coming. At #50, it's the Kings of Leon with "Use Somebody." A double entendre! (Another band who once opened for my boys, i.e. U2!)

The book is out! The music (58 songs) behind/buried within/on my mind during the writing of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT. The giveaways are coming. At #51, Kate Peterson's "Coffee Stained." Someone recently told me that there's a lot of moving/traveling in my writing. There's also a lot of coffee.

The book is out! The music (58 songs) behind/buried within/on my mind during the writing of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT. The giveaways are coming. At #52, "Angel's Wings" by Social Distortion. Anyone out there still love this song????

The book is out! The music (58 songs) behind/buried within/on my mind during the writing of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT. The giveaways are coming. At #53, "Wolves" by Down Like Silver. For some crazy reason, I think about John McCain's death when I hear this. But it's all-novel appropriate.

The book is out! The music (58 songs) behind/buried within/on my mind during the writing of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT. The giveaways are coming. At #54, David Eugene Edwards sings "Wayfairing Stranger." Do you know this guy? Sixteen Horsepower, Wovenhand? Emblematic songs.

The book is out! The music (58 songs) behind/buried within/on my mind during the writing of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT. The giveaways are coming. At #55, "Rivers and Roads" by The Head and the Heart. I love everything about this song. Book almost over. I should say something more profound, but I can't . . . .

The book is out! The music (58 songs) behind/buried within/on my mind during the writing of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT. The giveaways are coming. At #56, "Light of the World" from the Broadway Original Soundtrack to GODSPELL. Ohhhhh, I love this song. And in my novel, it's part irony, part indictment. Quite a bit of irony, quite a bit of indictment. All irony, all indictment.

The book is out! The music (58 songs) behind/buried within/on my mind during the writing of AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT. The giveaways are coming. At #57, it's more from this guy. Sixteen Horsepower's "Praying Arm Lane." There are only two songs left, this and one other. And they pretty much say EVERYTHING. (I'm so dramatic.🤓🤓)

And this is the last song! All 58 songs from the playlist for AND SO WE DIE, HAVING FIRST SLEPT. Giveaways tomorrow! There’s only one way to end. It’s with this song: Melissa Ferrick’s “Love Song.” Peace.

---

AND HERE ARE YOUR OPPORTUNITIES TO GET A FREE BOOK.

1. SEND AN EMAIL TO ME WITH YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS. TELL ME WHICH OF THESE SONGS YOU LIKE BEST AND WHY. I'LL PICK A RANDOM MESSAGE ON WEDNESDAY AT 9 A.M., AND MAIL A BOOK. I'M REALLY NOT SO SURE IT'LL MAKE IT BY CHRISTMAS.

2.  SEND AN EMAIL TO ME WITH YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS. TELL ME WHICH BOOKS YOUR BOOK GROUP READ THIS YEAR, AND WHICH ONE WAS THE GROUP FAVORITE.  I'LL PICK A RANDOM MESSAGE ON WEDNESDAY AT 9 A.M., AND MAIL A BOOK. I'M REALLY NOT SO SURE IT'LL MAKE IT BY CHRISTMAS.

jennifer.spiegel@cox.net

Thanks, all!