So, I turned 30 this month. Holy cats.
It was a nice birthday, and I got lots of great stuff:
Tori’s new album, Gold Dust, which is lovely and beautiful and stunning. Hearing an orchestral version of “Precious Things” was a revelation; I really “get” that song in a way I never did before. The hardcore purists may revolt at her shortening of “Yes, Anastasia”, but I love its condensed intensity. “Flavor” is magical and entrancing. Overall, recording with the Metropole Orchestra gives her work a lushness and vibrancy I couldn’t have anticipated, especially since so many tracks had strings in their original versions. A full orchestra really brings a new dimension to the music. (I keep meaning to finish the meme I started. This is why I never do memes, I always forget about them.)
Clannad’s An Diolaim, an old favorite that I’d discovered at the library as a teenager. I’d left the tape I’d made of the album behind when I moved to the UK, and it’s nice to have it back on CD. “Coinleach Ghlas an Fhomair” is a song that’s always spoke to me, even though I’ve never known what it actually means.
Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother? I had a glance at this at the bookstore and immediately knew it would be an Important Book in my life. Fun Home was excellent, but Are You My Mother? is her masterpiece. Bechdel’s account of her fraught relationship with her difficult mother is a tour-de-force of structural brilliance, artistic depth, and emotional insight. It’s also a searing depiction of the mother-daughter dynamic caught between the relentless pressure of patriarchal society, and the disruptive force of lesbianism. I can’t really articulate how important it was for me to see someone examine, with ruthless honesty, this fundamental constant in every lesbian woman’s life; and to do it without making concessions to a straight audience. Also, it’s funny. A must read.
Red Riding Hood. I actually really liked what Catherine Hardwicke did with the first Twilight film, and her version of “Red Riding Hood” is equally interesting. I love a good, lush fairytale adaptation, and I like the subversive psychological elements that Hardwicke introduces into the film — which I can’t really get into without spoiling the twist. Plus it’s very watchable, and Julie Christie as the grandmother is awesome. There were definite nods to The Company of Wolves.
Plus I got lovely soaps and other little goodies. We went to the art museum to check out the new gallery of contemporary art, which was kind of disappointing really, because it was full of that kind of “radical” art that’s so focused on it’s own theoretical cleverness that it forgets to communicate with the viewer. Derivative is the word that comes to mind. But we both were mesmerized by Miriam Backstrom’s abstract tapestry (you can see a picture that doesn’t do it justicehere). But we had some killer crepes for lunch, and the weather was gorgeous. So a very nice, relaxed birthday.