Robyn - “Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart”
I should probably just make this a series about people who have appeared on BBC Live Lounge, since that’s the majority of the covers I write about. That said, it’s a great source of covers.
This particular cover isn’t the best. Robyn’s vocals don’t quite shine the way they do on her own songs, and she evens flubs up on the lyrics about halfway through, but as a concept, this song works well. This Alicia Keys track thematically is just the sort of song that Robyn would sing (and has sung if you compare it to “Dancing On My Own” or “Include Me out”), but with the lack of full instrumentation, Robyn’s version of this track is just rather… ho-hum. Great idea, just doesn’t quite work in the execution.
This song is a quasi-cover. Rod Stewart with his song writers re-wrote a Bob Dylan song of the same name, and released it as the second single to his Out of Order album in 1988. I don’t think I’ve actually heard the Bob Dylan version, I can’t make a comparison. However, Stewart has said it is one of his favorite songs, written as an ode to his two eldest children, knowing that he was spending a lot of time away from them when he was on tour.
So why did it capture my attention tonight? This song is actually one that I associate a special person with. It was never our song, but it was as close. That actually went to another Rod Stewart song that I may write about at another time. Even before I started making this association, this was one of my favorite Stewart songs, and its general message is just fantastic, in my opinion.
The other really famous song by UK New Wave band Yaz, this one interestingly straddles the line between New Wave and the emerging House genre. While I can’t say for certain this would be the first instance of house music, this definitely comes across as one of the earliest known songs.
“Situation” was originally released as the B-Side to their other hit, “Only You”, but it proved to be popular enough in its own right that it saw release in 1982, but not in their native UK. The song peaked at #73 in the United States, and was a top 40 hit in Canada. It wasn’t until the song was remixed and reissued in 1991 that the song hit the charts in the UK, peaking at #14. The song hasn’t really been covered, but both lyrics and instrumental have been sampled, most surprisingly for the 1990s hit “Macarena”.
A second year of stories in DC Entertainment’s “New 52” universe has come and gone, and it’s time to take stock of the books I was reading, and whether or not I will be reading them for another year.
Overall, the types of stories we’re currently seeing could have easily just happened under the old continuity, proving that the initiative is more window dressing and/or publicity stunt than an actual attempt at infusing new energy into historic characters. Sure, Grant Morrison’s run probably wouldn’t have worked in the old continuity, but something like Throne of Atlantis, or even Forever Evil could have.
Grant Morrison ended his run, Andy Diggle came on for all of one issue and then there were some fill-ins that have lead up to Greg Pak taking over the title. It sounds like a hot mess of creative teams (and it was), but the title scraped by. It had a number of poor issues (4 in total), but exceptional issues (5) managed to bring the overall average high enough to keep the book.
I’m looking forward to see what Greg Pak brings to the table. If his fill-in on Villains month was any indication, he understands and respects the mythos, while clearly wanting to bring something new to the table. I’m interested to see just how much old and how much new shows up.
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo brought us a Joker story that sort of fizzled in the end, and then went back to the beginning of Bruce Wayne’s career as a crime fighter. The one consistent thing about this title is the art work, and that’s what largely keeps me coming back. Snyder has some good ideas, but they don’t always work in execution. So far “Zero Year” has filled in some of the blanks that we didn’t really need filled, but managing to maintain some level of entertainment.
Regardless, the level of quality on this title is still quite high with only a few issues rated poor (3) and many rated exceptional (7). I plan on keeping this title for another year and seeing where it takes me next.
I dumped this title after James Robinson’s last issue. DC editorial interfered on one of the highest quality books out of the line. Robinson was doing some amazing things with the characters and storylines. I really have no interest in what the new writer has to offer. Up until Robinson left, no books had been rated poor in the second year, while half of the published books ranked exceptional (2). Of course, DC doesn’t care much about that.
Looking back at the second year, the creative team of Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul didn’t introduce nearly as many characters as they did in the first year, but they did manage two major storylines and quite a number of subplots. As frustrated as I got with the pacing of this title at times, one has to give credit to the creative team for at least trying.
Unfortunately, the team and the artwork was what kept me coming back to this title each month. None of the issues hit exceptional level, and with two issues rated as poor, there just isn’t enough there to keep me coming back. Considering Manapul is off to the Bat-titles, I’m taking this opportunity to drop another book off my reading list.
Another frustrating title at times… Geoff Johns has some big, cinematic ideas, but they often get caught up in bad writing. The title was rather hit or miss as a result, with exceptional issues (4 in total) equalling the number of poor issues. There’s enough to keep me interested, but unless the quality really improves in the next year, this title will probably be next on the chopping block.
That said, the artwork on this title is also top-notch moving from Jim Lee over to Ivan Reis with some fantastic fill-ins in between. At least editorial is getting something right with putting high quality talent on this book.
I’m not going to take serious stock on Adventures of Superman or Superman Unchained at this point, as neither book has completed a full year’s worth of stories yet. That said, both have been rather consistent in their storytelling, and I imagine they’ll be on my reading list for a while.
I’m going to be taking a couple months off from reviewing books, with the exception of Adventures of Superman. I’m switching to digital to save space, and with digital prices dropping two months after the on-sale date, I’m more inclined to wait to read the latest issues. I realize this doesn’t mean my reviews will be as fresh as other people, but an average for $3.99 when I was paying a buck a book when I first started collecting in the 90s… well, there’s just too many economic reasons in favor of waiting to save that dollar per book a month. So wait, I will.
I was gutted when Bloc Party took a hiatus after their third album, Intimacy. For me, this UK based post-punk band spoke to me throughout my 20s in a similar way that Joy Division did. Except, Bloc Party was around, whereas I missed Joy Division’s initial offering by two decades. When Bloc Party reformed to write Four, I was elated. They released an EP worth of new material this past summer, and I got excited because it felt like they were really back for the long haul.
And then they announced another hiatus.
“Ratchet” from the The Nextwave Sessions EP has been my jam at the gym for the last month or so. It’s just got the right beat, right feel and the right motivation behind it. Bloc Party may no longer be around (and may never come back), but I’ve got four fantastic albums and nearly as many EPs worth of their music to look back on as I reminisce about old times, and look forward to as their music pushes me to the next physical level.
This will be the final excerpt for this year. Yes, I know I had six major characters, and I’ve been doing an excerpt for each of them, but the fact of the matter is the sixth character (Marita) was so woefully underdeveloped that I couldn’t find a passage of hers that I liked. I can’t justify writing her out, but next draft, I have to make a better effort to write her.
Anyways, Cady… Cady was supposed to be the catalyst, but she didn’t quite turn out that way. She was supposed to be the glue that stuck the group together. That largely remained true. She was also supposed to be a bit more of a bitch, but her character soften. I’m not sure I like that necessarily, but it is what it is (until I decide to change it).
Anyways, I know there’s still a few hours left of writing for some, so I wish the remaining participants the best of luck in crossing that finish line! Write, keeping writing, don’t stop writing!
Cady pulled her phone away from her ear and looked at the display screen to see the Robyn had ended the call. “Okay, I guess we’re done talking then,” she said as she placed the phone down on the table.
She and Konstantin had gone to their favorite little bistro around the corner from Konstantin’s dorm building. It had been a favorite of theirs for a long time, and it was apparent by the crowded tables inside that they were not the only ones that felt that way about this place. They had managed to get a small two seater table outside where they could enjoy the sunshine, and be able to people watch.
“Did she just hang up on you or something?” Konstantin asked.
“She found a dress,” Cady replied simply.
Konstanin raised an eyebrow. “She hung up on you because she found a dress?” Konstantin asked. Cady nodded her head in confirmation. “I am never going to understand women…” he remarked casually.
“That’s funny, because you’re only a few chromosomes short of being one,” Cady teased.
“Bitch, please,” Konstantin replied, followed by a small laugh. The server approached the table and asked if they wanted or required anything else. Konstantin and Cady exchanged a quick glance with each other before Konstantin shook his head at the server.
“One cheque, please,” Cady instructed before the server had an opportunity to ask. The server acknowledged her request with a curt nod before walking off.
“I can pay my own way,” Konstantin replied.
“Please, you’re the only important man in my life at the moment,” Cady pointed out. “Let me treat you for once.”
“Suit yourself,” Konstantin replied. “But I caution you, I could get used to this sort of treatment.”
Cady could not help but laugh. “Yeah, I could be your suga mama if you play your cards right.”
“I could do a lot worse,” Konstantin pointed out. They both laughed. Cady and Konstantin had been in the same freshman economic class together. It was a requirement for her degree in politics, and since it was the same requirement for Konstantin’s own degree in economics, they supported each other and bitched their way through macro and micro economics. Konstantin in that time period had revealed his sexuality to Cady, one of the first people that he had ever told, and in turn she told him her dirty little secret: that she was paying her own way through university.
While both of Cady’s parents were chief executive officers for mid-sized corporations, and owned their own three bedroom condo on the Upper West Side, they believed strongly that their only daughter should learn the value of not only striving for what she wanted in life, but to also know the price of those goals. While they had purchased a condo in Alphabet City on the east side, it was done so with the intent that they would sell it once the market had gotten better. In the meantime Cady and Robyn lived there rent free, but Cady was responsible for paying her own tuition, which she did so from a trust fund that her grandparents had set up for her when she was a child, and her own living expenses.
Cady did not necessarily resent her parents for the decisions that they had made for her. It was though lessons that had pushed her into the realm of politics. There, she could exert power and influence, while deciding her own destiny. Her long term plans were to go into politics, but first she wanted to get her feet wet by either going into political policy for be an aide for an existing politician. She had spent the previous summer interning with one of the New York State senators, and her plan was to use that as a springboard for the next big move in her eventual career.
The server arrived with their bill, and mistakenly handed it to Konstantin. “I’ll take that,” Cady said just loud enough that the server could hear her correction as she reached for the slip over paper. “Don’t go away,” she instructed to the server as she dug into her purse for a credit card. She handed it along with the receipt back to the server with a flick of her wrist. The server scowled once again and stalked off.
“That was full of attitude,” Konstantin pointed out quietly with a sly grin on his face.
“He should learn that a woman can negotiate the male-driven patriarchy. He needs to learn a little respect.”
Konstantin rolled his eyes. “You just wanted an excuse to power trip,” he countered. “There was no lesson there at all.” Cady stayed stone-faced. “Right?” Konstantin asked.
“You may never know,” Cady said, her expression never breaking. “So, what’s the plan for this evening?” She asked. “You can get ready at our place if you need to. That’ll definitely facilitate the pre-drinking before we head out to Terminal 5,” she offered.
“You want me to try to get ready in your apartment where two women occupy only one bathroom?” Konstantin asked. “Please, I’ll have better luck fighting off all the guys in the dorm.”
The server returned with the accepted transaction slip, Cady’s credit card and a pen. Cady scrawled her signature, leaving a decent tip, and handed the slip and the pen back to the server. The server glanced at the slip, a genuine look of surprise overcoming him. “Have a lovely day,” he chirped happily before walking away.
“Suit yourself,” Cady replied turning her attention back to Konstantin. “But be at our place no later than eight,” she instructed.
Konstantin rose from his seat and gave Cady a little salute. “Shall we head to the liquor store?” He asked.
Cady stood up form her own seat. “Let’s,” she said, grabbing her purse off the ground beside her chair and slinging it over her shoulder.
“Have you heard anything from Marita, yet?” Cady asked as they slowly starting walking down the street.
“I thought you hated Marita,” Konstantin inquired. “You’ve both been pretty catty towards each other in the past.”
“Well she did try to hit on me in freshman year,” Cady pointed out.
Konstantin shot Cady a look of disbelief. “Honey, a simple flirtation from nearly three years ago a blood vendetta does not make.”
“It’s not a blood vendetta,” Cady argued. “It’s… active dislike.”
I never really thought of it before, but this song really is New Wave. It’s been classified as bubblegum pop as well, the genre I would associate with it, but if you get past the pop lyrics, the instrumental track is quite New Wave in its construction, and its usage of synths.
Surprisingly this song is a cover of a song originally titled “Kitty”, released in 1979 by the band Racey. Toni Basil changed the name and gender of who she was singing about to male, and the rest is history. The video for “Mickey” is also notable for being one of the first popular music videos to feature a choreographed dance sequence, something we take for granted in music videos three decades later.
Robyn ended up being a fun character to write, and the female character that came easiest to write. The direction that I was going to take her in originally isn’t the one that ended up occurring in the novel, proving that you’ve got to have a little bit of flexibility in this contest and just let things happen. I think those changes in her story are ultimately for the best.
I had accidentally gave chapter two to both Tam and Robyn when my original intent in terms of narrative was to focus on one point of view character per chapter. When it comes time to edit, this excerpt will actually be the beginning of the new chapter three.
“Our place for eight,” Robyn instructed. “You remember where the apartment is, right?” She inquired. Tam nodded his head for the second time in the last half minute. “That’s perfect! Listen, I have to get going,” she announced as she stood up from the bench. “But what we just discussed… let’s start getting that into motion,” she confirmed. She picked her bag up off the bench and hung it over her shoulder. “See you tonight!” She exclaimed with a little wave before walking off in the general direction that she had originally come from.
She had originally come out this way to look at the boutiques in the West Village. She needed a dress, something completely knockout and as unique as possible for the party that evening. Knowing the types of people that Cady associated with in high school, Robyn was really going to have to step up her game with her outfit that night. She would then have to hustle back to the apartment she shared with Cady in Alphabet City to finish her paper.
As a major in Culture and Media, Robyn had found a program that truly ignited her passion for culture, cultural consumption and how media effects the two. She still had not decided on what she wanted to do after she had graduated next year, but she figured that there was still time to figure that out.
Her parents had started expressing a desire for her to move back to Chicago, but she knew for certain that was definitely not what she wanted. As much as she loved her hometown, it was not home for her anymore. New York City had changed her in the last few years. Not many people knew that the outspoken, overly confident Robyn that existed in New York City was not the one who originally moved from the Windy City three years ago. That Robyn was a shy girl who found it difficult to connect with people and to express herself.
Since moving away from Chicago she had developed a group of friends both within and outside of her program, Cady most notably, who had since the middle of their sophomore year together, had been roommates. In many ways Cady felt like the sister or just the sibling that Robyn never had.
Her boyfriend, Van, had also been an incredibly encouraging force in her life. A Columbia student, studying for a Masters in Journalism, they found that they had many interests in common. He was contributing to culture and media through his writing, and she was consuming it and analyzing it on a daily basis. They had been together for just over a year, and while they were not ready to take their relationship to the next step, Robyn was seeing the potential of staying with Van in the long term. He had aspirations to be a political correspondent, with an eye at either staying in New York City or moving to Washington. He would be finishing his graduate program at the same time that she would be completing her undergraduate degree. There was still a lot of options up in the air, and decisions would have to be made before she knew it.
However, the only decision she planned on making that day was what dress she would purchase and wear that evening to the party. After walking for fifteen minutes, Robyn finally arrived at her destination, a little vintage boutique at the corner of Horatio Street and Eight Avenue called Darling. She had discovered the small shop during freshman year, and had instantly wanted every article of clothing that the store had for sale. She unfortunately had to restrict her purchasing for special occasions, but considering she had already purchased her dress for the Zenith several months ago, an off the shoulder number from Marc Jacobs, she figured she could justify the expense for the party that night.
She stepped into Darling and was instantly hit with the aroma of fresh cut flowers. The owner of Darling, Ann Emonts Sherma was obsessed with ensuring that there always be fresh, seasonal flowers in the boutique. Often the floral bouquets were central to whatever clothes Sherma had on display that month. The first time Robyn had ever been in the shop, Sherma had only white dress, skirts and blouses on the racks with vases full of light purple orchids located throughout the space.
Robyn had hoped that Sherma would be in. She had been served by her a few times in the past, and had built a report with her. She was disappointed when she was greeted by a salesclerk. “Is there anything I can help you with?” The clerk asked.
“Possibly,” Robyn replied, trying very hard not to sound skeptical as to whether or not the store clerk could be of any assistance. “I have a party tonight… at Terminal 5,” she added. Robyn had learned quickly that in New York City the more you name-dropped the more connected you made yourself appear. It was not about making yourself look somehow more superior. Making yourself look connected presented itself with opportunities. Opportunities to meet new people, strike a deal or a future person to call up for a favor. This was one of the first lessons that Cady had taught Robyn when they had initially met.
“What type of party is this?” The shopkeeper asked.
“I get the impression it’s a bunch of people, some alcohol and a live band. I’m sort of looking for something that’s going to turn some heads.”
The shopkeeper smiled knowingly before turning and walking towards the back of the store. “I’ve noticed you before,” she commented as she started sifting through one of the racks. “Ms. Sherma has mentioned you before…” the shopkeeper stopped and pulled a dress from the rack. She twirled around and held the dress out. “And she’s quite fond of you,” the shop keeper added.
The dress looked like an exact replica of the little black dress that Audrey Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Instead of black, it was a solid shade of violet, and Robyn was already picturing how she could accessorize the dress.
“That might be perfect,” she whispered. She stepped forward and took the dress from the hands of the shopkeeper and walked over to a nearby mirror, holding it up to herself. The dress, just standing against her black skin was absolutely stunning. It looked like it would be a perfect fit as well.
The shop keeper stood behind her in mirror’s reflect. “I think that dress was made for you,” she remarked. “And we actually have a sale on that dress at the moment as well,” she pointed out.
Adventures of Superman #10
Cover: Sean Galloway
Writer: Josh Elder
Penciller: Victor Ibanez
A sick little girl’s only wish is to travel to Metropolis and see her idol, Superman. Her and her family get more than the bargain for when they are caught in the middle of a fight between the Man of Steel and Metallo.
A fairly generic feel good story. They’ve been done before, and Josh Elder with Victor Ibanez don’t really improve on the formula, nor do they fail at telling the story. When it comes to stories such as this, with a character like Superman, you can usually guess the outcome (positive) even before the rising action in the story is completed.
“In Care Of”
Writer: Derek Fridolfs
Penciller: Sean Galloway
A new take on the old concept of the Metropolis Mailbag, where Superman answers letters sent to the Daily Planet. In this case, it’s a young boy who’s town is being terrorized by a monster.
This version of “write Superman a letter” story works a bit better than the previous one, and the question of why DC Editorial continues to couple similar stories together in this anthology baffles me. It’s clear that one story is vastly superior and readers will judge the poorer story more harshly as a result.
While Sean Galloway’s art is a bit too cartoony for a regular Superman book, it’s great fun to see him in this title. He‘s style would work especially well in a Saturday morning cartoon about the Man of Steel.
The Flash #25 - “Starting Line”
Writers: Brian Buccellato & Francis Manapul
Pencillers: Francis Manapul & Chris Sprouse
Cover: Francis Manapul
A Zero Year tie-in see Barry Allen fresh out of the Central City Police Academy heading to Gotham City to help out with the black out emergencies. He’s sidetracked in a case involving a new drug called Icarus that has some fiery side-effects, and in the process of his investigation is introduced to Iris West, an intern at the Gotham Gazette.
Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul give us a swan-song and a tie-in to the major events going on in Batman at the moment. While trying to smash the two ideas into one story might seem a bit reaching, they come closer to succeeding with this tale than you think, wrapping up one of the lingering plot points from issue #1. It’s not a perfect issue, but there have been worse in this title. With a story like this, I have a feeling that my previous suspicion about this book being better to read all in one go comes up again, and the next time I have an afternoon free I may just do that.
Francis Manapul only provides a few pages of art in this issues, with Chris Sprouse taking up the rest. Sprouse’s work is fairly classic in its renderings, but there’s a feeling that the Flash just isn’t his sort of character. Superman or maybe Green Lantern yes, but there was a lack of kinetic energy on the page with this character.