the ebook revolution

One Saturday, I read an article in The Australian, our national newspaper, about ebooks, their availability (or lack thereof) and the technology involved in reading them.  Basically, the overall tone of the article was yes, they’re here, but you can only read them in PDF, the ereaders are expensive ($1000+) and there’s nothing much worth reading on them anyway.

My response?  I wrote a letter to the editor (which wasn’t published, surprise!).  Here’s what I wrote:

“Rosemary Sorensen’s article on the rise of ebooks failed to mention what me and my Australian writing colleagues have known for years: ebooks can be bought cheaply, the reading software comes in other easy-to-read formats than just pdf, and ereaders can be had at a decent price.  In less than ten minutes,  I’ve bought ebooks from http://www.deisel-ebooks.com, http://www.eharlequin.com and http://www.fictionwise.com in either MSReader (.lit) and Mobipocket (.mobi) format, then synced them up with my HP Ipaq PDA or BeBook (the latter costs around $359).  The iPod Touch and iPhone also have two free apps allowing you to read ebooks on both devices.  When it comes to ebooks, the issue amongst authors is not about availability or format – it’s piracy, which hurts both authors and readers.”

Since writing that letter, my pre-loved iPod Touch arrived from an eBay seller and I just loooove it!  Wireless technology rocks 😀  It took me less than 10 minutes to select the latest Jennifer Rardin and Megan Hart books on eReader, buy them, then click on my eReader app on the iPod, enter my email and password, then sync them down to the iPod.

What I want to know is… why aren’t journalists actually doing their research before writing an article?

The Joys of Music

So okay, I know I’m a little bit behind everyone, but I’ve just discovered the joys of iTunes.  It actually started when accursed Microsoft Media Player wouldn’t work, so I opened iTunes and migrated all my music across.  Then of course, I HAD to find all the corresponding artwork for the songs, which lead me to the iTunes store (more on that later).  Then I started playing some tracks and OMG I completely forgot how awesome music is!  And how much of it I actually have… and how much I missed it.  Now, I always listen to CDs in the car, but it’s always the new stuff and never the oldies that have been gathering dust on my shelf.  It’s been a long time since I just sat there, playing music and singing along (I’m sure my neighbours can agree on that, poor things).

So then I got to thinking – “I wonder if the iTunes store has those favourite long-lost tracks I’ve still got on my old cassettes but never play because I don’t have a tape deck and anyway, they’ve probably disintegrated by now?”  So I clicked on the store and lo and behold, Paradise Unbound!!!   I NEVER knew you could buy just one song instead of the whole album that, let’s face it, you hardly ever listen to anyway (unless it’s Sister Hazel or Rascal Flatts 😀 )  So I didn’t stroll, I RAN down memory lane and within 20 minutes I’d carted Midnight Blue (Lou Gramm), Breakthru (Queen), You Win Again (Bee Gees , Turn Me Loose (Loverboy) and the most awesome song ever made, Throw Your Arms Around Me (Hunters & Collectors).

611fqfbi7zl_sl500_aa240_So after my excitement abated somewhat, I went back to sorting my album artwork… as if two-plus stories weren’t already screaming at me to be written. 😉  And that’s when I started to actually listen to my music library, stuff like Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John’s most brilliant album ever (just a millimeter in front of Blue Moves).  I mean, the opening of Funeral For a Friend at full crank just gives me chills  (and hearing it live is even more chill-worthy!) Hard to believe it was recorded in 1973 and it’d still be in my Top Albums Of All Time.

Then there’s Alone and Stranded by Heart, 80s power ballads which have formed the music soundtrack to my latest work-in-progress.   Other significant mentions are Foreigner, Jimmy Barnes and Texas, all best listened to at full volume.  And preferably singing at the top of your voice and prancing around the room, too 😀

The best part about my crazy music day?  I had a fabbo idea for one of my backburner stories (stories that are still shaping themselves in my head, that aren’t contracted or have any significant point, plot or ending).  So all that singing and dancing didn’t come to naught (oh, really?  I can hear my neighbours replying drolly. Thank God for that).

So after some deep thought after going off on a tangent (as you do), I’ve come up with my Top Albums of All Time.  In random order they are:

  • nickelbackAll The Right Reasons by Nickelback – when you just want angry alpha male music, with a dose of political incorrectness.  I love the funny Rockstar film clip!
  • Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Blue Moves by Elton John – both masterpieces of melody that are heavy on the long instrumental introduction… something you don’t hear much of these days.  My dad played these over and over when I was young, and I still love them to this day.
  • fortressFortress, Absolutely, Lift, Bam! and Chasing Daylight by Sister Hazel – the best band in the whole world.  Seriously.  These guys have such a beautiful harmony, a rocking great style and the ability to tell amazing stories through their songs.  Check out the film clip to the awesome Champagne High on YouTube.
  • Sign Of The Times by Prince – lots of live tracks, lots of funky get-up-and-dance music
  • Wide Open Spaces by The Dixie Chicks – I bought this album on the strength of their live performance during a Grammys telecast.  So glad I did because it’s by far the best they’ve ever done!
  • tutte-storieTutte Storie by Eros Ramazzotti – no, it’s not in English but this Italian superstar rock god is sensual and brilliant and can sing to me anytime 😉
  • Twice the Speed of Life by Sugarland – rocking, country pop, heaps of fun
  • Daughtry by Daughtry – kinda like Nickelback but more easy on the ear.  But still hard rocking and angry!
  • stingDream of the Blue Turtles by Sting – because it’s the best he ever did sans The Police.  And because Moon Over Bourbon Street was inspired by Anne Rice’s The Vampire Lestat which encouraged me to read it.
  • Seven Flights Up by Penny Flanagan – not technically an album (it’s an EP) but these seven accoustic songs by the folksy local Aussie girl are still fab.  Includes the best version ever of Prince’s When You Where Mine (once covered by Cyndi Lauper).
  • arcadiaSo Red The Rose by Arcadia – with three of the Duran Durans you can’t go wrong.  Still awesome twenty years on. You can check out their Election Day and The Promise videos on YouTube (plus others).
  • Star Wars Soundtrack – my dad bought this as a double cassette back in the late 70s for my brother (we were both Star Wars mad).  Now with the beauty of technology, I can listen to one of the most recognisable theme tunes in the world over and over on CD.
  • Blah Blah Blah by Iggy Pop – his big commercially successful album, which includes the mega-hit Real Wild Child.  This and David Bowie’s Let’s Dance were on permanent repeat in the late 80s.
  • Still Feels Good, Melt, Feels Like Today, and Me and My Gang by Rascal Flatts –  Every song is a gorgeous example of beautiful lyrics and great vocals.  You can check out their music and film clips on YouTube here, and exclusive songs and interview at Soundcheck below on YouTube or here.

    So there you have it.  A sneak peak into my diverse music tastes.  I’m always on the lookout for new stuff, so let me know if you’ve got a brilliant album, artist or song I should take a listen to!

    Happy Endings

    bryanI was watching a movie last night and I had what you’d call an epiphany moment about what type of movie experience I like to have.  The movie was “Prime” with Uma Thurman (who played a 37-yr old divorcee) and Meryl Streep as her therapist.  When Uma starts a relationship with a gorgeous 23-yr old guy (a very yummy and convincing Bryan Greenberg -right), Meryl suddenly realizes it’s her son.  So, we have some good themes here, right?  Older woman-younger guy, very traditional Jewish mom who wants her son to marry within the faith, plus issues of trust and betrayal.  And it was a good movie… up until the ending.  SPOILER ALERT!!!!   Uma and Bryan break up, then get back together THEN when he wants to give her a baby (an underlying teaser throughout the movie, because Uma is hearing her body clock ticking) she refuses, saying she’d love it but it wouldn’t be right for him.  Good sacrifice, yes?  So then we go one year later and I’m sitting there thinking, ‘oooh, there’ll be a marriage, or at least the promise of one, maybe a baby…something.”  Nup.  Nothing.  Nada.  Bryan realizes his dream of painting, is about to jet off to Spain or somewhere, and he sees Uma in a restaurant with friends.  Their eyes meet, they smile and then… nothing!   Talk about being royally ripped off!   Dammit.  I’m still annoyed by it!

    So now, when I pick up a movie billed as ‘romantic’, I’m Little Miss Skeptical.  It was like Spanglish all over again, leading up to a promise, getting you to care about the characters (and dislike the horrid ones) then giving you the finger when you’re committed to an uplifting ending.  Man, it doesn’t even have to be hearts-and-flowers marriage commitment – just give me that “aaaahhhh” feeling, dammit!   I still remember praying for a good ending in The Lakehouse, because that movie had ‘potential sucky ending’ written all over it (which I also call “The English Patient” ending).  And let’s not get started on sequels that ruin a perfectly good romantic relationship in the first movie – Speed, Miss Congeniality, to name two.

    One exception – only because it was a beautifully filmed movie – was Titanic.  And Rose did end up with Jack in the end anyway, even if it was bittersweet.  But it was uplifting (even though many of you may disagree!)

    Have you seen any movies that promised but didn’t deliver that happy and/or uplifting ending?

    By Paula Posted in rant