A polymath rambling about virtually anything

Archive for September, 2012

A Review of Mercury

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 27, 2012

Mercury: An Intimate Biography of Freddie MercuryMercury: An Intimate Biography of Freddie Mercury by Lesley-Ann Jones

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have to admit up front that I’ve been a huge Queen fan since the 70s when I was a kid listening to their music. They remain one of my favorite groups of all time, and I believe Freddie was the greatest front man of any band ever.

Now that that’s out the way, how was the book? In a word — splendid! I just put away a biography on another favorite of mine — David Bowie — cause the authors just seemed to want to skewer him and it really put a damper on my enthusiasm for the man. I had to stop reading it to save what I still liked about him. So I was nervous in picking up a book on Freddie Mercury, fearing something similar might happen. Not to worry. The author, Lesley-Ann Jones, does a truly magnificent job of thorough research and exhaustive writing to put out a rather unbiased book on a great singer, one which elucidates while still making clear that no one ever truly knew the man well. He was one thing to his family, another to his first girlfriend (yes, girlfriend) Mary, another to his lover Jim, another to his German lover Barbara, another to his band mates, another to his fans, and so on and so on. One thing that was clear was that his bombastic personality while on stage didn’t transfer to his personal life, where he was generally quite shy.

Jones starts the book with his upbringing on Zanzibar and his boarding schooling in India and interviews relatives, in some cases, fairly distant relatives. I mean, the author really went all out. It was fascinating to read about the band’s early struggles and the making of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Queen’s masterpiece. My primary complaint is not much time is spent on other songs. I would have loved more than one line about “We Will Rock You” or “Another One Bites The Dust,” and more than a paragraph or two on “We Are The Champions.” Some of the albums barely merit more than a paragraph, and while I know Jones wanted to chronicle their infamous hard core rock and roll partying, it gets a bit repetitive after awhile. I think more meat could have been added to the songs and albums, at least some of them.

It was sad to read about Freddie’s personal life, his love life. He was always being used and he seemed to never be content with one person, other than Mary, with whom he stopped having a sexual relationship after six years. Incidentally, I knew this, but Freddie left the vast majority of his estate to Mary when he died in 1991. One would have thought his gay lover(s), but nope, Mary. He also never clearly came out to his family. That I didn’t know. It was for religious reasons. It was great fun reading about Freddie’s enthusiasm about ballet and opera, about his run in with Sid Vicious in a studio when both were recording at the same time, about his spending sprees, his wild orgies, etc, etc. And face it, the man was a genius with a four octave range. What talent. Pity he had to die of AIDS so young. It was shocking to read how many of his friends and lovers were dropping like flies during the 80s. Really shocking.

I would have liked more about the band as a whole, but alas, the book was about Freddie, and if I want to read about Queen, I guess I’ll have to get a good Queen bio, eh? Great book, fun read, hard to put down, worth five stars….

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iOS6 Disaster!

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 24, 2012

IOS6: “iTunes cannot sync apps to the iPhone ‘Scott’s iPhone’ because the apps installed on the iPhone could not be determined.”

WTF???!!! This is after 1 hour & 15 minutes of downloading & installing the new OS on my phone. Now I can’t freaking sync it. Great. WTF am I supposed to do now??? I have a useless iPhone, in terms of ever syncing it again. This really sucks. It won’t recognize a single app on my phone….

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New Issue of Ray’s Road Review Is Out!

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 23, 2012

The new Fall 2012 issue of Ray’s Road Review is out! We’ve got some great fiction, nonfiction & poetry, as well as photography. Please check it out at http://raysroadreview.com. The new poets (since I’m the poetry editor) include Tony Gloeggler, Cooper Sy, Michael Estabrook, Stephen Mead, Michael Flanagan & Brad G. Garber. Please read & submit!

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A Review of The Digital Dead

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 21, 2012

The Digital DeadThe Digital Dead by Bruce Balfour

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not a bad book, but not a great book either. Could have been better. First, though, it’s about a new company called Elysian Fields that offers eternal life by implanting chips in people’s heads and then when you die, an electronic copy of your personality is stored in a digital universe for people to interact with as though you’re still alive. It’s an odd premise and hard to pull off. I’m not convinced the book accomplished that for me. This book is also a sequel, which I wish I would have known. I could never figure out why an alien version of the Egyptian god Thoth was wandering around Kate’s head. Very strange. Ultimately the book is about power, and the scramble to attain it. The thing that irritated me about the book was that there were too many darn characters! I’m not completely stupid, but I had a hard time keeping up with them all. It doesn’t help that I read 4-6 books at a time, so I’d set this down for a couple of days and then had a hard time catching up when I picked it up again. I just kept think that Dick and Pohl, two of my sci fi favorites, never had to resort to dozens of characters. You usually have one or two with them and they still pull off a mean story. It just aggravated me and I almost gave up reading the book several times. However, I managed to finish and I guess I’m glad I did. Things were haphazardly tied up at the end, so I guess all is well with the universe. I’m still not completely satisfied with what happens to all of the digitally living dead people at the end of the book, but I won’t write a spoiler. I guess I mildly recommend the book, but with some reservation. Three stars max.

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A Review of Picasso: My Grandfather

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 19, 2012

Picasso, My GrandfatherPicasso, My Grandfather by Marina Picasso

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I got through 30 pages and then just couldn’t finish this book. It’s dreadful. Marina Picasso’s hatred of and contempt for her grandfather knows no bounds. It’s really appalling. And what did Picasso do to gain her enmity? He was insulting. Yeah, that makes him a “monster” according to the Vancouver Sun on the front cover of the book. Her father, his son, had to work for him as a chauffeur. Well, everyone has choices in life. He chose to work for his dad and therefore had to get paid by him, which the family found humiliating. BFD. I felt no pity for this woman, and she so desperately wants to get pity from the reader. I couldn’t finish it. It was too pathetic. She needs to go to additional therapy, over the 14 years she went, and get the hell over it. Get a life Marina!

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Posted by Scott Holstad on September 9, 2012

I use an iPhone diary app called Flava. It’s pretty nice, cause you can track what you’re reading and listening to, where you go, etc., in addition to writing text. Friday they released version 2.0 and they made radical changes that make it SUCK! I can’t sync or back up to Evernote or Dropbox anymore. There’s no lock feature anymore. They took the calendar feature away, so you can’t search entries by date. It doesn’t even post to Facebook or Twitter anymore and just gives you a message in Japanese when you try to. The new version is getting trashed on iTunes and I sent them an email. This is what I sent them:

Dear Flava,

I utterly HATE the Flava 2.0 update! I can’t tell you just how much I hate it. I think it’s the worst app update I’ve ever seen.

I am ticked that you can’t back up or sync with Evernote or Dropbox anymore. Flava Cloud is NOT something I want, and 200 MB is nothing. The reason I sync to Evernote in the first place is because I’ve got well over 1 GB of Flava material. I’ve made 7 Flava entries today, and it’s already taking up 14 MB of my 200 MB. At that rate, I’ll have used it all up in three weeks! And then I’ll have to pay for more? Ridiculous!

I also hate the fact that the calendar feature is gone. I really relied on that and now it’s useless. Also, how could you take the lock function out? That’s stupid!

Your FAQ sucks too. Your English is terrible. Get a translator, please. Also, when I try to post to Facebook or Twitter, I get an alert with Asian writing (Japanese?). I can’t read it at all. When I press OK, nothing posts to Facebook or Twitter. Nothing happens. Again, useless in this regard.

I also hate having to title my posts now. When I’ve forgotten to title book or album posts, the default titles are stupid. Additionally, having to create an account is annoying. I hate having to remember tons of passwords. What was wrong with the old Flava??? I had asked for tag features and I recently got an email telling me you had completed this. Well, I can create tags now, yes, but I have no idea how to look them up or search for them, and it’s not in your FAQ, so that’s useless too.

Frankly, you screwed your users and you’ve seriously downgraded a once-great app. It’s too much like Path now, and that’s annoying. I guess I’m going to have to go back to boring-but-trustworthy Momento. You really messed up.

I don’t know if my email will have any effect, or if the negative iTunes reviews will either, but if they’re smart, they’ll do something — and quickly — to satisfy their user base because they’re about to lose a whole lot of people….

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