Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the links

Teresa: The Story of a Bride
Please spare a thought for Ron Scheer, a steady contributor here and a great guy, who apparently has entered hospice care.

Anne Billson: Dragons in film; Night of the Eagle

Bill Crider: Red Eye [trailer]

Brian Arnold: Elves

Brian Greene: The Big Heat

BV Lawson: Media Murder

Comedy Film Nerds: CJ Johnson; Helen Hong

Dan Stumpf: Rimfire

Ed Lynskey: Teresa: The Story of a Bride

Elizabeth Foxwell: The Mystery of the Leaping Fish; Suspense: "Sorry, Wrong Number"

Evan Lewis: The Dain Curse

Frank Babics: The 4400: "Blink"

George Kelley: Son of Batman

How Did This Get Made?: Safe Haven

Iba Dawson: Brooklyn; The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: The Black Widow: "Chapter 10: The Stolen Corpse"

John Scoleri: In Search Of...

Jonathan Lewis: Sahara; The Devil Thumbs a Ride

Jackie Kashian: Beth Littleford

Jacqueline T. Lynch: Abe Lincoln in Illinois

Jake Hinkson: 7th Heaven (1927 film)

James Reasoner: Desk Set

Jeff Flugel: The Lives of a Bengal Lancer

Jeff Gemmill: VHS memories

Jerry House: The CBS Radio Mystery Theater: "The Old Ones are Hard to Kill" (by Henry Slesar; the pilot)

John Grant: Man in Black; The Man in the Road; Red-Haired Alibi

Juri Nummelin: The Glass House; Tales of Ordinary Madness

Kate Laity: Home (based on J. G. Ballard's "The Enormous Space")

Kliph Nesteroff: The Red Buttons Show and its fleeing writers

Laura: The 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review

Lucy Brown: On the Waterfront

Martin Edwards: The CWA Conference at Lincoln

Marty McKee: The Divine Enforcer

Michael Shonk: Adam Adamant Lives!

Mystery Dave: Daddy Long Legs

Patti Abbott: The films of 1955

Randy Johnson: Kill and Pray (aka...)

Rick: Williamsburg Film Festival

Rod Lott: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939 film)

Sergio Angelini: The Pledge

Stacia Jones: We Live Again

Steve Lewis: Crossing Jordan

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Parts Left Out: THE REALIST and the Larger Culture

The beginnings of an entry in Earl Kemp and Luis Ortiz's Cult Magazines that I didn't have the wherewithal to put in the form I'd be comfortable with.
Of course, The Realist Archive, which would've helped enormously, really filled out several months after my deadline...

The Parts Left Out: The Realist and the Larger Culture
By Todd Mason
It seems strange in retrospect. The Realist, the magazine which is often cited as having sparked the Counterculture of the 1960s, founded in 1958 and folding in its first inpulpation in 1974, is now often best remembered as the magazine that published the Disney Orgy. Not even “The Parts Left Out of the Kennedy Book,” which suggests that LBJ had his way with the recently dead JFK’s corpse, seems to loom quite as large in the collective memory…maybe because of the famous litigiousness of the Disney empire, maybe because so many youngsters saw the various iconic characters engaging in fairly public intercourse at an impressionable age…maybe because Paul Krassner, the founder, editor and publisher of The Realist, will still sell you a poster of the Wally Wood cartoon.
But what was genuinely impressive about The Realist was less about one or another example of the fun that could be had putting an absurd spin on the larger horrors of the day, so much as the audacity of the whole, the willingness to once more throw itself into the breach, to use irony, with absurdity and genuine anger, to do what journalism so often credits itself with doing, to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.
Krassner, by the accounts you can find in his autobiographical writings collected variously and in interviews all over the web, was a bright kid ready for attention; famously the youngest violin prodigy to perform at Carnegie Hall by 1939, he has never lost his taste for public performance. Inspired by the (in 2006, recently late) publisher Lyle Stuart, whose “alternative” newspaper The Independent was an early and formative gig for young man, already working as a comedian (as with Jack Benny, Victor Borge or the Smothers Brothers, using his musical abilities to augment his comedy act), as was a brief tenure on Mad magazine, just after [must doublecheck] its transition to a full-sized magazine from the more distributor-controlled standard comic-book format. Not completely satisfied with the limits of Stuart’s paper’s muckraking nor the not-completely juvenile (but always juvenile-accessible) lampooning of Mad, he reports that he thought he’d best combine the strengths of both, and produce a topical satire magazine for adults. Thus, The Realist.

1958…it’d been years since the mimeographed near-samisdat of the likes of G. Legman’s Neurotica had reached its few subscribers, Harvey Kurtzman’s Trump and Humbug had already slipped away from the scene (and his Help! wouldn’t arrive, with its own kid-friendly limits, for another couple of years, nor the national version of Monocle--not the current magazine of that name), and the closest thing to a truly engaged adult humor magazine widely available in the US was the gray, genteel New Yorker (and in Britain, Punch was not much edgier). Meanwhile, the much-vaunted (and –damned) “Beats” and the “Sick” Comedians, and a few others clustered around the likes of the tabloid The Village Voice or the increasingly surefooted attempts to achieve a kind of wry sophistication on the part of magazines ranging from Esquire through Playboy to the upstart Evergreen Review, seemed to suggest that the Cold War terror of appearing non-comformist was either slackening or at least had bred a reaction, or a counter-reaction, to the notion that Fulton J. Sheen and the Reader’s Digest had all the answers you couldn’t find in an approved civics textbook. A newsletter-format magazine that corralled and expanded upon the absurdity and willingness to address taboo subjects that was characterizing the best college humor magazines, and was more willing to focus on the absurdities of public discourse and official doubletalk, and would take a semi-serious, at least, look at “fringe” culture and ideas…this is what The Realist provided from the beginning. And would continue to provide throughout its run, inspiring offshoots and partial descendents ranging from the National Lampoon through the initially hippy-oriented underground newspapers to such deadpan hoaxes (with their parody grounded by the reality they mirrored) as the Report from Iron Mountain, like the typical Realist hoax article too believable an insanity, for its times, to be dismissed as merely a joke…when the hoax was apparent at all.

[This would be where the bulk of fleshing out with specific examples from Realist articles and interviews would appear, highlighting the diversity of the fringe, countercultural, and early-warning journalism and satire offered by the magazine.]

By the time Krassner wrapped up The Realist for the second time, seeing that there were (with the internet, the web, and other emerging decentralizing technologies) other means to spread the good word and carry on the good fight, he was particularly happy about such developments as The Onion, a paper devoted entirely to pointed hoaxes, and such projects as Harry Shearer’s weekly radio satire review Le Show. He began blogging, an utterly natural outgrowth of his previous journalism. And he maintains. The job is never done, but The Realist, perhaps more than any other single magazine, helped define how it could be done.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

March (and some more) Underappreciated Music: the links

The (finally returned) monthly assembly of undervalued and often nearly "lost" music, or simply music the blogger in question wants to remind you reader/listeners of....

Patti Abbott: One-Hit Wonders

Brian Arnold: Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons: "Wheels";  Halloween Songs

Jayme Lynn Blaschke: Friday Night Videos

Jim C: The Odean Pope Saxophone Choir: Locked and Loaded

Sean Coleman: Joni Mitchell: The Hissing of Summer Lawns

Bill Crider: Forgotten Music; Song of the Day 

Iba Dawson: What Happened, Miss Simone?

The Staple Singers: "Sit Down, Servant"

Jeff Gemmill: Rumer, and Natalie Duncan

Jerry House: Johnny Rivers; Four Bitchin' Babes and more; Hymn Time

Randy Johnson: (Music) Because I Like It...

George Kelley: The Hollies: 50 at Fifty; Amanda Marshall: Everybody's Got a Story; Miles Davis et al.: Elevator to the Gallows soundtrack

Kate Laity: Alan Savage, Lys Guillorn, Downtown Boys; Gladys Bentley's Quartette; Scottish Night at Albany Symphony; Vic Godard and Subway Sect: 1979Now!; The Possibilities Are Endless (soundtrack); Julie Beman: Movie; The Autumn Stones; Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

Evan Lewis: Kip Anderson and Nappy Brown: "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee"

Miriam Makeba: "Ye tintu tiz alegn" (aka/sic "Yetentu Tizaleny")

Todd Mason: Saturday Music Club: Late Shift (jazz overnight); Better 1? Better 2?; Some Bands with Singers, Some Singers with Bands; SMC Returns, Still Tardy; Further Afield; Some Rather Funny Songs; Some Folk Rock and Antecedents 

Lawrence Person: Shoegazer Sunday

Charlie Ricci: The Monkees: "Goin' Down"; Crosby, Stills & Nash: CSN; John Gorka; Annie Haslam: Annie Haslam

Richard Robinson: Wayne Shorter

Ron Scheer: Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser;  Oscar Peterson Quartet featuring Joe Pass: Tokyo 1987

Teo Macero Band: "T.C.'s Groove"

The Staple Singers: "I'm Coming Home"

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday's "Forgotten" Books: MONAD Number Two, March 1992, edited by Damon Knight (Pulphouse Publishing)

Paperback edition above, hc below.

As noted here previously,  Damon Knight's Monad, as a periodical book (subscriptions available) was sadly short-lived, producing only three issues/volumes before the overextended publisher gave up the ghost (unlike Algis Budrys, who bought his magazine Tomorrow Speculative Fiction and published it himself after the first and only Pulphouse issue, Knight perhaps decided he didn't need to gamble his own cash). Knight's editorial here notes that the first two issues break nearly every rule he set out for himself in the first editorial, and indeed the subtitle is no more true for this issue than for the previous, as the essays collected here are nearly as much about fantasy fiction and literary criticism as about sf per se

The quality of the essays is about as good as in the first issue, as well, with William Wu's account of being perceived as not writing Sufficiently Orientally about East Asian and particularly East Asian-American matters a wry tale, Wu trying his damnedest to be both fair and kind but his head clearly still shaking No as he types, with utmost justification.

Contents, courtesy ISFDb:

Brian Aldiss, in a piece first delivered at an IAFA convention, makes some interesting observations about how home-bound, and comfortable in being so, the majority of British fantasy before the latter 1970s had been (British characters even often living rather cheerfully with their household haunts), vs. the quest tendency prevalent in US fantasy...even Arthur eventually settled, though Aldiss takes more interest in another poem usually attributed to the anonymous composer of "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight."

Gary Westfahl's first essay is the weakest in the volume, making valid points about various sorts of and reasons for sequelization, but tying that to a rather tiresomely distended running joke of creating or repurposing terms for these various methods and devices; the butterfly is definitely broken by time the wheel stops turning.

John Barnes replies to Bruce Sterling's essay in the first volume, taking Sterling to task for his rather facile dismissal of modern critical theory, without ignoring the flaws and limits of the array of critical approaches he cites.

Thomas Perry looks closely at Robert Heinlein's first published sf story, "Lifeline," and among other things cites Alexei Panshin for his misconstruction of the story in the latter's critical writing on Heinlein (Perry is too kind, however, to Cory and Alexei Panshin's The World Beyond the Hill, their attempt at a critical history of sf that won an extremely undeserved Hugo not long before this issue was published). Perry's joke about the death of a journalist character in the story is particularly fine. (Perry apparently didn't know, or perhaps didn't remember, that the Thrilling Wonder Stories story contest Heinlein didn't choose to send his story to was subsequently won by first sf-story author Alfred Bester.)

John Sladek briefly and wittily (of course) limns some of the inspiration for and subtext of his novels Roderick and Tik-Tok, and robot narratives generally.  BBC Radio 4 and possibly NPR and Pacifica Radio listeners' loss is our gain here.

Westfahl is in much better form with his second essay, which is a good brief survey, by an academic critic of sf, of how and why much of the academic criticism of sf goes awry, or misses its own point (sometimes by intent and out of practical necessity), and how some for which this is true is still better work than The World Beyond the Hill, which he deftly outlines as pitiful with plenty of supporting evidence, despite, as he notes, having within it at least an interesting and useful consideration of the influence and underappreciated qualities of A. E. van Vogt's early sf...and this in a critical magazine edited by Knight, who first gained widespread attention in the speculative-fiction community, in the late 1940s, for his critiques of van Vogt's widely-hailed early work not long after the latter was first published. Westfahl is also judicious about the strengths and weaknesses of critical works of peers ranging from Darko Suvin through Paul A. Carter (one of the first I read, when his The Creation of Tomorrow, and I, were new) to Norman Spinrad (whose critical work in the last decade or so has been underappreciated and usually rather better than his more recent, and sparse, fiction).

J.R. Dunn's letter rather forcefully, if at excessive length, takes issue with an assertion of Ursula K. Le Guin's in her essay in the first issue, and there's some justice and some useful reference in the churn of his argument.

One could wish for more Knight in this issue beyond the editorial, but one could certainly wish the magabook had had a longer run.  I still need to pick up the third and final issue.

For more of today's books, please see Evan Lewis's blog (and his Hammett-tribute story in the current Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine), as he fills in for Patti Abbott (with her own new story in the new magazine Betty Fedora) this week.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the links

Back again, for a second week running (!), and featuring at least two Ida Lupino films among other items of at least some interest, and usually some very great interest indeed, at least from one angle or another...thanks to all contributors and all you readers...

Anne Billson: The Beginner's Guide to Giallo

Bill Crider: Blind Date [trailer]

Brian Arnold: VHS Treasures; CBS Saturday Morning TV Commercials, 1985

BV Lawson: Media Murder

Comedy Film Nerds: Helen Hong

Dan Stumpf: The Key Man; The Villain Still Pursued Her

Darlene Vendegna: TableTop: "Cards Against Humanity"

Ed Lynskey: The Bigamist

Elizabeth Foxwell: Crossroads; Odd Man Out

Evan Lewis: Richard Diamond, Private Detective: "Custody"

Frank Babics: The 4400: "According to Collier"

George Kelley: Some Came Running

How Did This Get Made?: Deep Blue Sea

3 Coeurs
Iba Dawson: 3 Coeurs

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: In the Land of the Head Hunters; The Doris Day Show: "Doris the Model"

J. Kingston Pierce: Bullet Points

Jack Seabrook: Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "Dip in the Pool" (by Roald Dahl)

Jackie Kashian: LeAnn Olsen and musical theater

Jacqueline T. Lynch: Deep in My Heart

Jake Hinkson: Albert Maysles

James Reasoner: Three O'Clock High

Jeff Flugel: Ride Lonesome

Jeff Gemmill: Veronica Mars
The Late Edwina Black

Jerry House: The Hitch-Hiker

John Grant: The Late Edwina Black Keiju; The College Girl Murders (aka...)

John F. Norris: The Two Faces of January

Jonathan Lewis: White Zombie; The Deadly Trackers

Juri Nummelin: Él 

Kate Laity: The IPCRESS File

Kliph Nesteroff: Dick Gautier

Laura: The Big Broadcast

Lev Levinson: The Women

Lucy Brown: Father of the Bride (1950 film)

Martin Edwards: Deception

Marty McKee: Terror Among Us

Mystery Dave: A Million Ways to Die in the West

Patti Abbott: The Egg and I

Paul Gallagher: Warhol

Peter Rozovsky: Talaash

Prashant Trikannad: Are You Turned Off by TV Drama?

Thelonious Monk
Randy Johnson: Have a Good Funeral, My Friend...Sartana Will Pay (aka...)

Richard Wheeler: Casablanca

Rick: This is Cinerama!

Rod Lott: WolfCop

Ron Scheer: Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser

Sergio Angelini: Cash on Demand

Stacia Jones: Without a Clue

Stephen Bowie: The Chrysler Theater: "Barbed Wire"

Stephen Gallagher: Chimera

Steve Lewis: Law and Order LA: "Hollywood"; Profiler: Pilot; Why Didn't They Ask Evans?

Todd Mason: The Subject is Jazz: "The Future of Jazz"

Yvette Banek: The Grand Illusion