Just finished Shakey, after reading it over a few weeks at night (post blogging, so around 10ish) and in the weekends (particularly on a Sunday, where...moreJust finished Shakey, after reading it over a few weeks at night (post blogging, so around 10ish) and in the weekends (particularly on a Sunday, where my habit is to loaf around in bed and in the lounge, reading and eating and drinking tea).
I really enjoyed this biography. Firstly it taught me a lot about Neil Young -- real innarestin' character, heh heh. It made me want to explore all his old music, especially the 70's stuff. I've already borrowed a number of CDs from the library.
The fascinating thing about Neil Young is that he changes constantly, even his bands and who he records / tours with. It makes it very hard for some of his core band mates, e.g. Crazy Horse has more than once been dumped. There was a poignant bit near the end where Young recorded and toured with Pearl Jam in the 90's (Mirror Ball), which left Crazy Horse crestfallen.
But Young changes so much precisely because it drives him to discover new ways to make music. There's a wide range of musical styles he's done and people he's recorded with, but at the base of it all is the artist Neil Young. If you listen to his solo records, with just him and his guitar and harmonica, you can recognize the huge natural talent of the guy -- beautifully vague lyrics which enable you to read into them what you must, great harmonies and riffs, raw real guitar playing. I've been listening a lot to his 1971 Massey Hall CD (the year I was born!) as well as his 90's MTV Unplugged performance. The author of this bio actually dismissed the Unplugged one, but I disagree. Young's rendition of 'Mr Soul' in Unplugged is riveting. The author is at pains to note that Young was the driver in most of his projects, including ego-soaked hippy supergroup CSNY.
Overall, the author did a very thorough job with this book. There is a lot of commentary from Young himself throughout, but the author also analyzes his topic and music. I felt that sometimes his analysis of the music wasn't that strong, a bit overdone. For example he totally dismissed Pearl Jam's influence on modern music, which is a mistake IMHO. But overall he did describe the changes in Young's musical journey quite well, certainly enough to make me want to dive into Young's back catalog in a big way.
If you're a musichead like me, you will love this book. It's a weighty tome, but well worth a few weeks poring over.(less)
Fantastic interviews/stories about some of the major rock musicians of the past 30 years or so. One criticism is that there was too much focus on thei...moreFantastic interviews/stories about some of the major rock musicians of the past 30 years or so. One criticism is that there was too much focus on their hedonistic lifestyles. But still, interesting rock criticism.(less)
This book is aimed at company people who may not know much about the Social Web, other than they want to be in on the action. So *I'm* not the target...moreThis book is aimed at company people who may not know much about the Social Web, other than they want to be in on the action. So *I'm* not the target market.
I browsed through the book on a lazy sunday and thought it had some great data in it. The authors obviously know their stuff and I have huge respect for Charlene Li as a social media analyst.
I must admit I was also checking to see if ReadWriteWeb was cited. Disappointingly, no. The book can't be that cutting edge then, ay? ;-)
Overall, solid book and recommended for mainstream folks who want to know what web 2.0 is and how they can use it in their jobs.(less)
Another fave from Uni years. I did a class called 'American Literature', which was I enjoyed a lot. But I think I may've studied this in 'Modern Novel...moreAnother fave from Uni years. I did a class called 'American Literature', which was I enjoyed a lot. But I think I may've studied this in 'Modern Novel'. The quintessential American novel and a big reason why America has always fascinated me.(less)
parts of this were very moving and the writing is masterful. However the book was ultimately too long and I actually lost interest with about 1/4 to g...moreparts of this were very moving and the writing is masterful. However the book was ultimately too long and I actually lost interest with about 1/4 to go. By that point there was too much surrealism and not enough connection to reality. Also there's only so much existentialism I can take without thinking, life is too short to be spending it reading a long book about the meaning of life. Know what I mean?
I give this 3 stars, for the quality of writing and imagination. But it doesn't get more than that because it couldn't hold my interest all the way thru(less)
Unfinished novel from Scott Fitzgerald. I read the Bodley Head edition, where in the intro it claimed it would've been his greatest work. It would be...moreUnfinished novel from Scott Fitzgerald. I read the Bodley Head edition, where in the intro it claimed it would've been his greatest work. It would be hard to beat The Great Gatsby, which was a beautiful novel that gets better the more time passes. But there is some lovely writing in The Last Tycoon and the main character, a movie mogul of the 1930's called Stahl, is an intriguing one. Not dissimilar to Gatsby, as he's a powerful man who falls in love with a woman who he ultimately doesn't get. The Bodley Head edition finishes with 5-6 pages of conjecture by the editor on what may have eventuated, had Fitzgerald a) finished the book, and b) tidied it up. It actually sounded quite involved, and I wonder whether the plot would have ended up like that. We'll never know. I give this book 5 stars due to the quality of the writing, even though it is unfinished in many ways.(less)
Guns n' Roses was one of the seminal bands of my era. They were most popular in the final years of high school for me, when Appetite for Destruction h...moreGuns n' Roses was one of the seminal bands of my era. They were most popular in the final years of high school for me, when Appetite for Destruction had exploded onto the mid-to-late 80's scene in a flash of realism and rock n' roll attitude. W Axl Rose was a great rock showman, with a killer voice and enigmatic personality. Lead guitarist Slash was a cartoon figure in his leather pants, hair over his eyes, cigarette and bourben bottle permanantly attached to his person, and top hat. But he was an incredible guitarist. Izzy Stradlin was a relatively quiet bu eminently cool rhythm guitarist (and apparently wrote many of the songs, which I didn't fully realize until I read this book). Duff McKagon was a permanantly drunk bass player whose pancreas finally split open in the mid-90's (whereupon apparently he went to business school and majored in finance). And Steven Adler was the dumb but pretty drummer who got wrecked on drugs and was the first to get kicked out of the band. The story is ultimately sad, because Axl Rose basically went crazy and became a dictator of the band, until first Izzy, then Slash and Duff were forced from the band into many imitation bands. As for GnR, which Axl owns the brand of, they have been attempting to release a mythical album called 'Chinese Democracy' since the mid 90's. To this day it hasn't been released, although - as usual - it is due to be released in a couple of months. Yeah right.
I loved this book, because Guns n' Roses were probably the defining rock n roll band of the 80's - much more primal and real than the likes of U2 and... er, whatever other mainstream rock bands existed in the 80's. Deff Leapord? You see what I mean. I like U2 and all, but GnR is what rock n' roll is all about. Punk mixed with realism mixed with attitude mixed with artistry. That Axl tried to mix in too much artistry by the time of Use Your Illusion in 91, and then gradually even that faded away, is a tragedy of rock.
The book mentions a famous incident when Kurt Cobain publicaly dissed Axl Rose backstage at an MTV event. Cobain always thought GnR were lame, sexist and just plain dumb. As much as I love my Nirvana, and what they represented in the 90's and still today for me, I respectfully disagree with Sir Kurt on this. In their prime, which was basically before the 90's started, Guns n' Roses were the most energizing rock force around and their music kicked A. They were two different eras really, and yes the GnR scene was blatently sexist and druggy and immoral (Nirvana kept the druggy bit going, but eschewed the other parts), but GnR absolutely rocked in the 80's.
The book is a compelling yarn, well told. I was half hoping for more detail about Duff's burst pancreas (apparently he was thankful they didn't take it out so he didn't turn into a diabetic!), but the book spent far more time on the early years. And rightly so.(less)
I enjoyed reading this book from Kleiner Perkins co-founder Tom Perkins. It is a varied book, going from his love of yachting, the love of his life Ge...moreI enjoyed reading this book from Kleiner Perkins co-founder Tom Perkins. It is a varied book, going from his love of yachting, the love of his life Gerd (his first wife), his marriage to romance novelist Danielle Steele, and some fascinating looks into his business life - e.g. he was an early employee at HP. Some quirky stories too, like the guy who invented a revolutionary chip that held megabytes of data, but who died the day after Perkins closed an investment deal and his 'secret sauce' was never discovered!
Perkins is evidently a bit of a character, as his descriptions of writing his novel ('Sex and the single zillionaire') and attending a romance novelists convention attest to.
To be honest I skipped most of the last chapter about yachting (too much inside baseball for me, and I'm a kiwi!). But enjoyable book overall.(less)
I first learned about Murakami, a contemporary Japanese author, from an Alex Iskold post on ReadWriteWeb. While I found the first Murakami book I read...moreI first learned about Murakami, a contemporary Japanese author, from an Alex Iskold post on ReadWriteWeb. While I found the first Murakami book I read, The Wind up Bird, to be too much of a weighty meal to devour - this relatively slim volume of writings about Murakami's running hobby was more easily consumed. I enjoyed Murakami's philosophic musings on why he ran and how he went about it. I found myself identifying with him when he wrote about not being a particularly sociable person, who found more satisfaction setting and achieving his own individualistic goals. While I am no runner (I attend the gym 3 days a week, sporadically ), I have always set my own goals, even when I was playing team sports. For example I remember keeping a chart of tries scored, when I was an 11-year old rugby player, which I diligently updated after every game. I was a left winger and scoring tries was what I did best, back then. I ended up being Player of the Year. Anyway, I enjoyed this book, although I still won't be going running.(less)
Fascinating book, changed the way I think about success. The central thesis is that success isn't something that happens to an individual in a vacuum....moreFascinating book, changed the way I think about success. The central thesis is that success isn't something that happens to an individual in a vacuum. Success comes from a mix of opportunity, cultural background, hard work, luck, and the traditional things like intelligence. The Bill Gates example is good: yes Gates is highly intelligent, but Gladwell simply and clearly proves that a huge part of Gate's success came from the fortune of being born at a certain time, having had 10000 hours of computing work under his belt before most other people and at a young age, being lucky to have access to computing facilities when it was rare, etc.
The most memorable part of the book for me was when Gladwell explained why Korean Air had a worse air crash record than any other airline, which Gladwell explained at length was due to cultural factors - not technical ability, bad luck, etc. When the airline recognized and worked to correct the cultural issue, their record vastly improved.
This book makes me want to work harder to give my own child the opportunities she needs to be a success in life. It also makes me curious about looking at what has made me a relatively successful blogger. I've always claimed it was a mix of hard work, intelligence, writing ability, being in the right place at the right time, etc. If I mapped it out like Gladwell did in this book, no doubt I'd find that my family history, cultural legacy of being a kiwi, and much more, has a lot more to do with where I am today than even I realize.(less)