Posts tagged “duran duran

The Martian

Posted on November 3, 2015

Photo: 20th Century Fox

Photo: 20th Century Fox

Confession: Lately, I’ve been thinking about Mars.

Part of the reason I’ve been thinking about Mars is because my daughter, her best friend and I played hooky from school and work on a recent Monday and went to go see Ridley Scott’s “The Martian.”

Don’t tell on us, please.

I hate to spoil this for anyone who has not seen the flick, but this is not about a real live actual extraterrestrial being. “The Martian,” which is based on the novel by Andy Weir, is about a really resourceful and funny American astronaut named Mark Watney who has to figure out how to survive after his cohorts leave him for dead on the Red Planet.

Do not judge them. In the midst of a bad situation, they actually thought Watney was dead.

So the other reason I’ve been thinking about Mars is because I have moments when I think that this astronaut’s experience is sort of (kind of) similar to that of a first-time author. You find yourself in new and challenging circumstances, but you have to calm down (no, really…CALM DOWN) and focus on the situation day by day using all the resources and skills and knowledge that you have in order to reach the finish line.

Some days are encouraging, exciting, inspiring.

Some days you blow things up trying to make water and wonder whether you’re fit to make it. (Don’t get me started…)

But in the face of those setbacks, there is always tomorrow if you haven’t messed up too terribly badly. So you adjust. You go forward. You do your best.

And so it goes.

Have you ever had one of those moments when you found yourself in Watney-esque circumstances? If so, what happened and what steps did you take to survive and thrive? Also (and I have to ask): What was your soundtrack? Watney’s was disco, much to his chagrin. Mine is Duran Duran’sPaper Gods.” Yours? Let me know in comments.

In The Pleasure Groove

Posted on October 18, 2012

itpg Nigel John Taylor grew up as a shy only child in working class Birmingham, England. It was the 1960s. His father harbored deep, dark secrets from World War II and poured his heart into working on his car. His mother, who couldn’t drive at all, walked her bespectacled lad to church five days a week. That self-same lad was not a jock, not cool and not sure about what he wanted to be when he grew up.

Then the seventies came. When Nigel saw British pop band Roxy Music on television, it was his moon landing. By the end of that decade, he had a best friend named Nick Bates (later Nick Rhodes) who shared his love of music and dream of starting a band. Together they would form Duran Duran, a pop-funk-new wave quintet named after the villain in the futuristic 1968 film “Barbarella.” The band — consisting of keyboardist Rhodes, frontman Simon Le Bon, drummer Roger Taylor, guitarist Andy Taylor and bassist Nigel (who was going by the more rock-n-roll “John” by then) — became the biggest band of the 1980s. Their music was catchy, their videos were decadent, their looks were pin-up boy fabulous.

They made a lot of teenaged girls scream.

I was one of those girls.

Taylor’s much-anticipated memoir In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran came out this Tuesday and I finished it in less than a day. The story, co-written with freelance writer Tom Sykes, is an engaging look at Taylor’s extraordinarily blessed life, which was rooted in the Catholic Church, then the pop music and new wave fashion of the 1970s before rock-n-roll superstardom took him on a wild ride around the globe. In some respects, the story is a conventional “nothing could have prepared me for this” tale, one full of screaming teens rifling through his trash, lines of coke snorted through rolled-up $100 bills, more apartments than he could afford and eventual disillusionment with the business aspects of the band that made him a such a fixture on MTV in the early 1980s. But in other respects, it’s a wonderful look at Taylor’s life, the musical and fashion influences that shaped Duran Duran, the creative opportunities that unfolded because of Duran’s success (i.e. the Bond theme “A View To A Kill,” side projects such as Arcadia and Power Station and involvement in Bob Geldof’s Live Aid), and Taylor’s rocky journey away from addiction. His is a redemptive story, which ends with a stronger and better Duran Duran and a healthier, more grounded Taylor who is able to balance the demands of fame and family life.

“The music never sounded better,” he writes.

And Taylor’s book couldn’t have been a better read.

To close, here’s Duran Duran’s Hyde Park performance from the London Olympics. What better way to show off J.T.’s bass magic than “Rio”:

Fall Reading List

Posted on September 28, 2012

One of my friends asked me what it was like now that I was out of graduate school and could read anything I wanted. I said it was great, but I was still reading plenty of French history. “The difference is, you have a choice now,” she told me. The truth may be that I have no choice at all. It may be that I can’t help myself anymore.

At any rate, here is a list of some of the books I’ll be reading this fall, broken down by genre. I’ll try to review some of these reads here from time to time. If you have any recommendations for me, please don’t hesitate to leave them in comments.

Rock and roll memoirs on my Kindle

Life by Keith Richards — My fondest Keith Richards memory dates back to when I was an undergraduate in college and

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The Heffalump in the Room

Posted on November 4, 2011


When A.A. Milne first wrote about heffalumps —  which are elephants in little kid speak — they existed as a figment of Winnie-the-Pooh’s imagination. All the same, Pooh was determined to capture these pachyderms that stomped through his dreams. In the end, Pooh snagged himself and his nervous little buddy Piglet in a trap that he set to catch one of these critters.

I bring up heffalumps because some friends and former colleagues have told me I really should write about what it’s like to be an older person in graduate school. That is the heffalump in the room, so to speak. Honestly, I haven’t done it, because I could not see why anyone would find my impressions of graduate school interesting or the slightest bit entertaining. A lot of times it’s neither of those things. Footnotes? Please. Historiography? Please. Sitting still for three or more hours straight? Please. I also haven’t done it because I felt like my first year of graduate school mainly consisted of battling Heffalumps, Wizzles and Woozles — imaginary monsters that trapped me in my own net.

Now that I know those monsters aren’t there, I laugh a lot more.

I’ve also thought of the people who told me to write about graduate school. Many of them are my age and have wondered whether they could go back and do this to themselves as they juggle a career and kids and whatever else. They’ve wondered whether the time and the toil are worth it.

I’d say yes and no. I’d say yes because the experience has knocked some cobwebs out of my brain and helped me refine my so-called critical thinking skills. I’ll  never read a book the same way again, because I’ve spent the past year looking at arguments and finding out what’s wrong with them. These skills are useful for a reporter, writer, or really anyone from any walk of life. So that’s good.

Still, a lot of times I ask myself why I did this. A lot of times I count the days until I can go back and do what I love — write full-time for a living. I miss reading well-written books. I don’t know what that’s like anymore.

I miss a lot of things but I know I’m going to come out of this grateful and good. Because I’m determined.

And I’ve had a lot of great people in my corner who have been pulling for me.

I’m a very lucky lady.

In the meantime…

Maybe I’ll start telling Student Union cashiers that I actually DO get the employee discount. Or maybe I’ll stop telling professors that no I’m not teaching the next class, I’m learning in it.

“Hell yes, I’m teaching this class,” I’ll say. “Who wouldn’t want to learn about ‘Duran Duran: A Soundtrack of 20th Century Decadence’?”

But I’ll refrain from beating the next 18-year-old with my walker when he asks “Excuse me, ma’am, can you tell me where Lockett Hall is?”


There’s a certain fun in pointing to a vague “over there” and just letting them meander through a sea of pajama-clad, hormonally-deranged humanity. I guess we come back to school to wade through that sea so we can emerge on the other side, waterlogged but stronger in who we are.

Durandemonium: A Personal History

Posted on October 18, 2011

I was 14 years old when I saw my first Duran Duran concert. How long ago was that? Well, a gallon of gas cost 87 cents, Margaret Thatcher was elected British prime minister for the third time, and Prozac made its market debut. Ronald Reagan was still U.S. president and The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian” might have been the only song you ever heard on the radio.

I was about to start high school. Many of my graduate school classmates were not even born yet. The year? 1987. Duran Duran’s “Notorious” album was still a relatively new release that I listened to on a cassette tape, not a compact disc or MP3.

We did not Google or download back then.

My mother knew how much my sister and I loved Duran Duran and surprised us with tickets to see them at Merriweather Post Pavillion, just outside of Baltimore. Erasure was the opening act and I will never forget the way my mother sat there reading the A-section of The New York Times as they performed. At one point, Mom peered over the top of the newspaper to watch the band as my sister and I danced to “Victim of Love.”

When she had seen enough, she shot us a “What the hell is this?” look before going back to her reading.

Who reads the newspaper during a concert? Only my mom.

As soon as Duran Duran took the stage,

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Excuse Me?

Posted on October 5, 2011

Day after tomorrow, I will share air with Simon Le Bon for the seventh time in 20-some-odd years. Right now I’m supposed to be studying for a history midterm exam, but I can only think about the set list and whether I should buy a concert t-shirt for me and for my six year old.

Here’s a little something I came across on

Duran Duran (Ruth Eckerd Hall, Oct. 10): The still-pretty Brit laddies are touring behind All You Need Is Now,their best album since 1993’s Duran Duran. Simon Le Bon & Co. wisely brought in producer Mark Ronson, a retro-minded beatmaker who helped make a Rio redux for the 21st century. This will be a sexy show with sexy middle-aged fans. John Taylor can’t woo ’em all, boys, so let’s look sharp out there

First, I have no doubt that the show will be sexy. And I sort of like being part of this so-called sexy fanbase (even though it’s kind of laughable because I wear trifocals and throw out my back reaching for shampoo). But middle-aged? Now that’s where I draw the line…

The Backstage Pass

Posted on September 14, 2011

I’ve had this recurring dream since my early teens. Here’s what happens: I’m at a Duran Duran concert, squealing “Simon, I love you” (because I do love him) when all of a sudden this faceless person gives me a slip of paper, or a ticket, or some object (a magic amulet?) that indicates I can go backstage after the show to meet the band. Throughout the years, this aspect of the dream never has ceased to be thrilling, because in my heart and soul I am still the bespectacled, brace-faced band geek who expresses her Duran Duran lust by wallpapering her bedroom with posters of the band.

The dream doesn’t end there.

The show ends, my excitement builds and I run for my life to some stark white hallway where a big burly bouncer/roadie/nemesis-type awaits. Excited, goosepimply Durannies stream past this beast toward what I consider to be the Holy Grail, but I am either turned away, or sent off into some funhouse maze that leads nowhere, or asked to get the bouncer a soft drink (and when I return with the drink, the band is long gone, of course). Each time I wake up after having this dream, I think to myself, “Man, I was so close. I thought I heard Simon calling my name.”

How frustrating, right?

Well, one morning this weekend, while my daughter recounted a dream in which her head was on backwards, it dawned on me: things had changed. The burly nemesis who kept me from my backstage destiny for more than 25 years softened in his old age and let me meet the band (in my dream). It was a thrilling revelation, though I can’t for the life of me remember how it went and whether I passed out, or wept from sheer nerves or what. I can’t remember whether Simon liked me.  I can’t figure out what this dream means, or if it means anything at all. And I don’t know what happens now that I got where I wanted to go in a dream I’ve had forever.

Maybe this tale is just a gentle reminder that good things come to those who wait. I’ve never waited well, but I’m working on it and I’m hopeful.

In the meantime, October 7 can’t get here fast enough. I’ve got two tenth row seats to the Duran Duran concert in Baton Rouge and I’m ready to lose my voice singing “Rio.”