David Bowie’s Movie Music

Today, January 8, 2021, would’ve been David Bowie’s 74th birthday. It’s been five years since we lost our patron saint of glam. Five years, what a surprise. He still turns up everywhere, that sound and vision shapeshifter, especially on movie soundtracks. When I’m watching a movie, and a Bowie song comes on, I feel like I’ve run into a long-lost friend, even if it’s performed by somebody else or it’s more Bowie-adjacent than pure Bowie.

Director Wes Anderson excels at selecting impeccable music for his films, as demonstrated by The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. About 10 minutes in, a character teases us with just a bit of “Ziggy Stardust,” playing an acoustic guitar, and singing in Portuguese, and we know we’re in for a treat. That’s Seu Jorge, who beautifully reinterprets several Bowie songs, giving us the pleasure of hearing two different versions of “Life on Mars?” during the film—Seu’s and Bowie’s. Continue reading “David Bowie’s Movie Music”

Three on a Theme: Seattle Writers

Every fall, as the rains return, we are reacquainted with the knowledge of where exactly on Earth we are. Autumn in Seattle can be gloomy and hard to survive emotionally, but it is also an experience that can be enhanced by delving into the cultural history and storytelling of the specific place we are in. To that end, here are three books by Pacific Northwest writers that either take place in Seattle or in the surrounding area that are perfect for reading indoors in the middle of one of our infamous October downpours.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie FordHotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

When a boy discovers a time capsule of old treasures in an old hotel room in Seattle’s International District, he is launched into the heart-wrenching story that takes a look at the history of Japanese Internment in Washington State. This is historical fiction, and it is also the story of the relationship between twelve-year-old Chinese-American Henry Lee and his first love, a Japanese-American girl named Keiko Okabe. Aside from its engaging love story and its critical engagement with this uncomfortable legacy of racism in Seattle’s past, it also features real Seattle locations such as the Panama Hotel Continue reading “Three on a Theme: Seattle Writers”

Witchy Reads for a Witchy Autumn

We are approaching one of the most magical times of the year: when the leaves begin to turn, the days get windier, and the spiders come out to leave their shimmery artwork in the gardens for us to admire. Every autumn, it can feel amazing to lean into the spookier side of things and appreciate the coziness and beauty that comes along with the Earth turning towards darkness. For some of us, that means embracing our inner witch! Here are some books from different genres for different age groups about different kinds of witches, all appropriate for you to enjoy this witchy autumn.

Akata Witch by Nnedi OkoraforAkata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

This a young adult novel about a teenage girl, Sunny Nwazue, who discovers she has special magical powers after moving back to Nigeria from the U.S. with her Nigerian parents. Sunny is both Black and albino, which has led her to feel like a social outcast everywhere she goes, but she finds empowerment as she learns about her powers and uses them to track down a dangerous threat to her community alongside some new friends. Drawing from Nigerian mythology, this is an Afrofuturist witch story that opens a totally exciting world of magical lore to a genre in which non-Eurocentric witch stories are sorely unrepresented. Continue reading “Witchy Reads for a Witchy Autumn”

Three on a Theme: LGBT Comics

While many of us tend to associate the graphic novel and comic book genre with superheroes, in a cultural market dominated by companies like Marvel and DC that produce blockbuster movies based in on graphic novels every year, there are plenty of other types of comic books out there that are available to you with your library card! Specifically, the library has a great variety of graphic novels by queer authors telling queer stories in a variety of comic genres and suitable for a variety of ages. Here are just three of those to get you started.

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Kabi Nagata
This autobiographical manga, which was published after it gained a cult-following on the Internet as a web comic, tells the story of a twenty-something woman’s struggles with her identity and social interaction. Although the story hinges on the narrator’s first experience of lesbian intimacy with an escort at the age of 28, it really explores the rest of her life in much more detail – such as her struggles with social anxiety, depression, eating disorders, her relationship to her parents (who are constantly disappointed in her), and how all these things coalesced into her finally coming to terms with her identity as a lesbian late in her twenties. While the content is certainly heavy, especially for readers who may have experience with self harm or eating Continue reading “Three on a Theme: LGBT Comics”

Three on a Theme: Animal Comics

Animals often figure prominently in comic strips and graphic novels, but the ways in which they are represented and the roles they play in telling a story vary greatly across genres and the works of different authors. Often, animals in the comics genre exist mainly for comedic relief, representing cartoon caricatures or anthropomorphisms that tell us more about human beings than they do about the animal they are representing. Here are three graphic novels where animals are represented in a different way – as narrators, protagonists, or silent companions.

The Rabbi’s Cat by Jonathan Sfar
This is a gorgeous tail about humanity, religion, and… cathood… that takes place in 1930s Algeria and is imbued with a healthy dose of magical realism. The protagonist is a cat belonging to the daughter of a rabbi, who accidentally acquires the power of speech after eating a parrot. Now able to communicate with humans, the cat asks the rabbi for an education and to begin practicing Judaism, sparking a theological debate about whether or not a cat can be Jewish. This novel is beautifully illustrated, with bright colors, warm landscapes, and lively, dynamic characters (both human and non-human alike). The story deftly explores themes of what it means to have a religion, what it means to have a friend, and what it means to coexist in relationship with others. Continue reading “Three on a Theme: Animal Comics”