Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday Music Club: Angelique Kidjo (w/Alicia Keys), Bangles, Blonde Redhead, 8.5 Souvenirs, The Ex, Jane Wiedlin & Billy Zoom, Jasmin Tabatabai/DKQ

Angelique Kidjo: Batonga


Jasmin Tabatabai with the David Klein Quartet: After You Killed Me (live)


Angélique Kidjo & Alicia Keys: Djin Djin


Bangles: Between the Two (live)


Jane Weidlin (with Billy Zoom): Where We Can Go


Dutch punk pioneers The Ex (covering Chumbawamba for their second number, "Heaven/Hell"...middle-aged anarchist punks in Moscow, last year...what could go wrong?):


Blonde Redhead: Doctor Strangeluv (live)


8 1/2 Souvenirs: Minor Swing


Jasmin Tabatabai with the David Klein Quartet: Eine Frau


Angelique Kidjo: Summertime

Friday, March 30, 2012

FFB: October 1978: ARIEL: THE BOOK OF FANTASY, WHISPERS, FANTASTIC STORIES, THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION

The first issue, from 1976.







The four bestselling fantasy-fiction magazines in the US (and probably the world, unless we count comics among the fiction) in 1978:

Just the other day, I finally purchased a slightly battered copy of the fourth and last issue (or volume) of the irregular magazine (in book form, sort of, or periodical book) Ariel: The Book of Fantasy, issued October, 1978, Ariel's first issue/volume, as Ariel: A Fantasy Magazine, having been issued in 1976 (I suspect the subtitle change was driven more by distribution questions than by anything else...after the first issue, the title was copublished and distributed by Ballantine Books, but the look and approach of it hadn't changed).

That sparked me to note that the cover-date/release month of October (as Ray Bradbury would be quick to note, the most fantasticated month even given all the traditions that infuse others with capital-M Mystery, not least December and its solstice) of 1978, the first full year I was collecting new fiction magazines, was an unusual month, in that the only issues that year of Whispers, the most impressive of the little magazines devoted devoted to horror and fantasy fiction, and Ariel were published, and the quarterly Fantastic and, of course, the monthly F&SF (with its usual anniversary issue, its first issue as a quarterly being an autumn issue in 1949) all produced issues of note, as the best-of-the-year volumes were quick to recognize as well.

The Ariel is, like all the issues/volumes, elegantly produced on heavy stock and with brilliant full-color reproduction of illustration and artist portfolios that range from good professional work to impressive; hence the $7.95 cover price ($8.75 in Canada) of this one (at a time when the elaborately illustrated, in b&w, and "book-paper" Whispers would cost you $4, and Fantastic and F&SF had just raised their cover prices that year to $1.25 and were published on paper a grade or two up from newsprint, not too different from many paperbacks at the time...in fact, both magazines were printed at paperback-oriented printers, and featured in many issues the same sort of stiff, glossy paper cigaret ads in their centers that some paperbacks featured in that era). Even my battered reading copy of the Ariel is beautiful and clearly expensively produced. (Conveniently enough, the Algis Budrys review essay in the F&SF reviews the third Ariel, where AB jokes that surely among the publishers there is somewhere an accountant who has been rendered helpless and gagged.)

As noted below, the fiction contents of this Ariel include a Jane Yolen vignette (a deft fable), a Bob Shacochis Arthurian historical fantasy (Shacochis more famous then as now for his contemporary-mimetic fiction and war reportage, though the latter might well have just begun in the late '70s), and poems by Ray Bradbury and Alexander Theroux (the latter particularly an attempt to channel Christina Rosetti, the former fairly typical of Bradbury's not bad versification...but his best poetry isn't a touch on his best prose). One thing I'd forgotten about Ariel was that, like the other magazines (even to some extent Whispers), it was open to fairly straightforward science fiction, as well, so the first story here is Jerry Joseph's "Fathom 242," a decently predictive account of chaos in Africa, the increasing bullying by corporations of the Third World, and growing problem of drought, focused in part around an underwater colony, handsomely illustrated (one might say, of course) by Jack Desrocher...notably, neither of these folks have since become Names to Conjure With in fantasy/sf publishing...long-term fan-writer John Pocsik, here with "Surprise Visit" (which features a viciously quarreling married couple adorably named George and Martha), was almost "an Ariel writer" (twice in the magazine, rarely publishing elsewhere I've seen), if Ariel had published enough issues to make that truly meaningful. Chester Sullivan's "The Eggs of Hann," despite the title that harkens vaguely punningly to Seuss, is a retelling in quasi-Native American context of the Lady of the Lake/Arthur tale...and like all but three stories here, is very short. The first-published of Charles Platt's profiles eventually collected as Dream Makers, that of Isaac Asimov, is here in slightly edited form, as is an odd little essay about MRI, the Midwest Research Institute, by Geneva Zarr. Not only does Ariel look like a lushly-produced magazine, it acts like a predecessor of Omni as well. And the portfolios, John Berkey's interview/selection being the largest and perhaps most impressive, and illustrations probably served as a bit of a nudge to Keeton and Guccione when they launched that magazine...for that matter, I wonder how much an inspiration to the publishers of the elaborately produced Chacal (which became or at least preceded from the same publishers and editors Shayol) or, for that matter, Heavy Metal (though of course Metal Hurlant was a bigger inspiration there).



The Manly Wade Wellman tribute issue...good work from him, illustrated by Lee Brown Coye. The most brilliant story in the issue might be Dennis Etchison's "The Pitch," with Ramsey Campbell's "Heading Home" also more than solid. Robert Bloch's Strange Eons (excerpted) is my second-least-favored of his novels I've read, though I do appreciate the attempt to put an end to the Cthulhu Mythos...and while Ramsey Campbell reviewing Wellman's huge retrospective collection, and Stephen King in turn reviewing Campbell's novel, might've seemed a bit incestuous, I'd counter-suggest that it was indicative of the almost clubhouse-like ferment of the magazine, which had just launched its companion anthology series with Doubleday in 1977, that we see in practice...and King doesn't see any reason why he should be left out. Brian Lumley, who began his career, not too long after Etchison and Campbell had in the early '60s, as a somewhat older man already having served in the British military, often did his best work for Whispers and Campbell anthologies, much better than the Cthulhu/boy's adventure novels that have made him a reasonably popular writer in the decades since. Ray Russell and Ward Moore also writers of considerable stature in the field, even if Moore was much better known for his sf, and Russell's career as a fiction writer perhaps somewhat overshadowed by his Hollywood work, directly and adaptations of his fiction, and editorial duties at Playboy...






Brilliant stories by Terry Carr ("Virra") and Thomas M. Disch ("The Man Who Had No Idea"). Absolutely atrocious first publication: "The Gunslinger" by Stephen King..."Cassandra" was probably C. J. Cherryh's most acclaimed story that year, and the Michael Bishop and Ron Goulart stories were fine examples of what they could do. The Pronzini/Malzberg in this issue, like theirs in the Fantastic, was a bit of black humor, but not as good as the longer story, if more explicitly fantasticated (I'd say Ted White made the better call in erring on the side of story-quality in this case, vs. Ed Ferman's erring on the side of relevance to the other contents of the magazine).








As noted above and in further detail below, includes stories by Jane Yolen ("The Tower Bird") and Bob Shacochis ("The Last Days of Arthur") and a poem by Ray Bradbury ("Rekindlement").



Brilliant novelet by the late Janet Fox ("Demon and Demoiselle"); impressive work by Bill Pronzini and Barry Malzberg ("Another Burnt-Out Case"), Craig Shaw Gardner ("A Malady of Magicks"), John Shirley ("Tahiti in Terms of Squares"); remarkably bad Grania Davis cover story, given that Davis is a good writer: "The Mesa is a Lonely Place to Dream and Scream and Dream." The Chandler, Jones and West stories cited on the cover are mediocre, with the Kaye, Andrews and Bunch stories better. John Rodak's illustration for the Chandler is notable (Fantastic featured a lot of good illustration, F&SF usually none at all beyond the covers and the Gahan Wilson cartoons from 1964-1981, and other cartoonists after, except for little original-logo images, sometimes augmented with facial expressions, at the ends of some stories to fill empty spaces).

ISFDb's indices of these issues:

Title: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October 1978
Editor: Edward L. Ferman
Year: 1978-10-00
Publisher: Mercury Press, Inc.
Price: $1.25
Pages: 164
Binding: Digest
Contents
5 • The Man Who Had No Idea • novelette by Thomas M. Disch
34 • Books (F&SF, October 1978) • [Books (F&SF)] • essay by Algis Budrys
36 •   Review: Blind Voices by Tom Reamy • review by Algis Budrys
38 •   Review: The Persistence of Vision by John Varley • review by Algis Budrys
38 •   Review: Sorcerers: A Collection of Fantasy Art by Bruce Jones and Armand Eisen • review by Algis Budrys
38 •   Review: Ariel: The Book of Fantasy, Volume Three by Thomas Durwood • review by Algis Budrys
39 •   Review: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy through 1968, Volume 2: Who's Who, M-Z by Donald H. Tuck • review by Algis Budrys
41 • Cassandra • shortstory by C. J. Cherryh
49 • Cartoon: "We've no idea what it is, but it makes a darling planter!" • interior artwork by Gahan Wilson
50 • A Clone at Last • shortstory by Barry N. Malzberg and Bill Pronzini
52 • The Gunslinger • [Roland] • novelette by Stephen King
91 • Films: Fantasia • [Films (F&SF)] • essay by Baird Searles
94 • Pulling The Plug • shortstory by Ron Goulart
106 • Effigies • novelette by Michael Bishop
131 • Toward Zero • [Asimov's Essays: F&SF] • essay by Isaac Asimov
141 • Virra • novelette by Terry Carr
158 • Letters: Malzberg on Delany • essay by Barry N. Malzberg
158 • Letters: F&SF Founder Dies [J. Francis McComas] • obituary by Raymond J. Healy
159 • Letters: Another View of Close Encounters • essay by Martin S. Kottmeyer

Title: Fantastic, October 1978
Editor: Ted White
Year: 1978-10-00
Publisher: Ultimate Publishing Co., Inc.
Price: $1.25
Pages: 134
Binding: Digest
Contents
4 • Editorial (Fantastic, October 1978) • [Editorial (Fantastic)] • essay by Ted White
6 • The Mesa Is a Lonely Place to Dream and Scream and Dream • novelette by Grania Davis
7 • The Mesa Is a Lonely Place to Dream and Scream and Dream • interior artwork by Stephen Fabian [as by Steve Fabian]
34 • Death Eternal • novelette by Raymond F. Jones
35 • Death Eternal • interior artwork by Richard Olsen
50 • Another Burnt-Out Case • shortfiction by Barry N. Malzberg and Bill Pronzini [as by Bill Pronzini and Barry Malzberg]
51 • Another Burnt-Out Case • interior artwork by Joe Staton
58 • Demon and Demoiselle • novelette by Janet Fox
59 • Demon and Demoiselle • interior artwork by Tony Gleeson
74 • Leasehold • novelette by Wallace West
75 • Leasehold • interior artwork by Richard Olsen
88 • The Collected Poems of Xirius Five • shortstory by Peter J. Andrews
90 • The Hairy Parents • (1975) • shortstory by A. Bertram Chandler
91 • The Hairy Parents • interior artwork by John Rodak
98 • Tahiti in Terms of Squares • shortstory by John Shirley
99 • Tahiti in Terms of Squares • interior artwork by Tony Gleeson
104 • A Malady of Magicks • shortstory by Craig Shaw Gardner
105 • A Malady of Magicks • interior artwork by Joe Staton
115 • Pridey Goeth • shortstory by David R. Bunch
120 • Ms. Lipshutz and the Goblin • shortstory by Marvin Kaye
124 • . . . According to You (Fantastic, October 1978) • [According to You (Fantastic)] • essay by Ted White

Title: Whispers #11-12, October, 1978
Editor: Stuart David Schiff
Year: 1978-10-00
Publisher: Stuart David Schiff
Price: $4.00
Pages: 132
Binding: Digest
Contents
fep • Whispers #11-12 • interior artwork by Allan Servoss
bep • Conversation Piece • interior artwork by Mike Scott
bc • Whispers #11-12 (2) • interior artwork by Lee Brown Coye
1 • Whispers #11-12 • interior artwork by John Linton
2 • Editorial (Whispers #11-12) • essay by Stuart David Schiff
4 • New (Whispers #11-12) • essay by Stuart David Schiff
13 • Chorazin • shortstory by Manly Wade Wellman
18 • Chorazin • interior artwork by Lee Brown Coye
26 • Worse Things Waiting • essay by Ramsey Campbell
26 •   Review: Worse Things Waiting by Manly Wade Wellman • review by Ramsey Campbell
28 • Whom He May Devour • shortfiction by Manly Wade Wellman
39 • Witch Whispers from Stratford • essay by Manly Wade Wellman
43 • Keep Me Away • shortstory by Manly Wade Wellman
54 • Here There Be Demons • interior artwork by Alan Hunter
62 • NIght-Knell • poem by John Bredon
62 • NIght-Knell • interior artwork by John Linton
63 • The Doll Who Ate His Mother • essay by Stephen King
63 •   Review: The Doll Who Ate His Mother by Ramsey Campbell • review by Stephen King
66 • Whispers #11-12 (1) • interior artwork by Lee Brown Coye
69 • Strange Eons (excerpt) • shortfiction by Robert Bloch
78 • The Hell-Bound Train • interior artwork by Chris Pelletiere
79 • The Hell You Say • shortstory by Ray Russell
81 • Ghost of a Chance • shortstory by Ray Russell
83 • William Blake (1757-1827) • poem by John Bredon
83 • William Blake (1757-1827) • interior artwork by John Linton
84 • Vanessa's Voice • shortstory by Brian Lumley
92 • Vanessa's Voice • interior artwork by Denis Tiani
93 • Whispers #11-12 • interior artwork by A. B. Cox
94 • Klarkash-Ton (1893-1961) • poem by John Bredon
94 • Klarkash-Ton (1893-1961) • interior artwork by John Linton
95 • Clark Ashton Smith's Averoigne: A Dalliance in Medieval France • interior artwork by John Stewart
96 • The End of the Story • interior artwork by John Stewart
97 • The Maker of Gargoyles • interior artwork by John Stewart
98 • The Mandrakes • interior artwork by John Stewart
99 • The Holiness of Azédarac • interior artwork by John Stewart
100 • The Colossus of Ylourgne • interior artwork by John Stewart
101 • Mother of Toads • interior artwork by John Stewart
102 • The Enchantress of Sylaire • interior artwork by John Stewart
103 • Heading Home • shortstory by Ramsey Campbell
107 • Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) • poem by John Bredon
107 • Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) • interior artwork by John Linton
108 • Whispering in the Dark • interior artwork by Gene Welter
109 • Whispering in the Dark: A Peek at Levecraft's Dirty Story • essay by John Taylor Gatto
114 • The Pitch • interior artwork by Todd Klein
115 • The Pitch • shortstory by Dennis Etchison
121 • Monstro Ligriv (1914-1970) • poem by John Bredon
121 • Monstro Ligriv (1914-1970) • interior artwork by John Linton
122 • Whispers #11-12 • interior artwork by Mike Garcia
124 • Conversation Piece • shortstory by Ward Moore

Title: Ariel: The Book of Fantasy, Volume Four
Editor: Thomas Durwood
Year: 1978-10-00
Publisher: Ariel Books / Ballantine Books
Price: $7.95
Pages: 96
Contents
4 • Title Page (Ariel #4) • interior artwork by John Berkey
8 • Fonrtispiece (Ariel #4) • interior artwork by Tom Gieseke
10 • Fathom 242 • novelette by Jerry Joseph
10 • Fathom 242 • interior artwork by Jack Desrocher
24 • Eggs of Hann • shortstory by Chester Sullivan
24 • Eggs of Hann • interior artwork by Don Maitz
28 • A Visit with Isaac Asimov • essay by Charles Platt
28 • A Visit with Isaac Asimov • interior artwork by Rodney Dale Stevens
32 • Rekindlement: Long Thoughts at Halloween • (1977) • poem by Ray Bradbury
32 • Rekindlement: Long Thoughts at Halloween • interior artwork by Brent Johnson
34 • Surprise Visit • shortstory by John Pocsik
34 • Surprise Visit • interior artwork by Dennis Anderson
36 • The Last Days of Arthur • shortstory by Bob Shacochis
36 • The Last Days of Arthur • interior artwork by Ezra Noel Tucker
50 • John Berkey • (1978) • interview of John Berkey • interview by uncredited
50 • John Berkey • interior artwork by John Berkey
64 • The Tower Bird • shortstory by Jane Yolen
64 • The Tower Bird • interior artwork by Rainer Koenig
66 • The Night of the Niffelheim Dwarves • poem by Alexander Theroux
66 • The Night of the Niffelheim Dwarves • interior artwork by Arlene Noel
68 • MRI • essay by Geneva Zarr
68 • MRI • interior artwork by Joe Kelley
70 • A Man and His Car • shortstory by David James
70 • A Man and His Car • interior artwork by Charles Smith
74 • Michael Hague • (1978) • interview of Michael Hague • interview by uncredited
74 • Michael Hague • interior artwork by Michael Hague
82 • The Amulet of AnkhRa • shortstory by Wayne Stubbs
82 • The Amulet of AnkhRa • interior artwork by J. Dazok

Selections from these issues for these best-of-the-year annuals:
11 • The Pitch • (1978) • shortstory by Dennis Etchison
144 • Heading Home • (1978) • shortstory by Ramsey Campbell

























91 • The Gunslinger • [Roland] • (1978) • novelette by Stephen King
(Carr had a knack for focusing on the absolute worst Stephen King stories he could find, such as "The Cat from Hell" in the first YFF; Gerald Page at least would collect such rather good ones as "Children of the Corn"--much better in prose than as a film. Carr also took "The Man Who Had No Idea" from F&SF for his sf boty 1978 volume. Carr's old boss, and co-editor of their boty volume at Ace Books 1965-1971, Donald Wollheim--assisted, as was Lin Carter, by Arthur Saha--took "Cassandra" for his sf boty.)



70 • Ms. Lipshutz and the Goblin • (1978) • shortstory by Marvin Kaye
136 • A Malady of Magicks • (1978) • shortstory by Craig Shaw Gardner
180 • Demon and Demoiselle • (1978) • novelette by Janet Fox



For more of Friday's books (and mostly inarguable books!), please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

March's Underappreciated Music: the links

Bill Crider: Patti Page (the Singin' Rage)

Charlie Ricci: CPR (Crosby, Pevar, Raymond); Bett Butler

My Friend L: Pussy Riot; The Pussy Riot Incident (video)

Evan Lewis: "Mustang Sally"

George Kelley: The Electric Prunes: Too Much to Dream

Jerry House: Guy Van Duser; A Day in the Life of Dennis Day; Earl Scruggs, RIP

Lee Hartsfeld: Meet the Girls

Scott Parker: debut albums

Patti Abbott: Jesse McReynolds

WFMU: Bouton Rouge Sessions (a number of which have been available in black and white previously on YT, but some of them are now in color...the direct link to the YT "channel")

Todd Mason: McCoy Tyner in the 1970s. I think, of all the major contributors to the development of jazz and particularly third stream music over his career, the one given least credit for this work, particularly outside the circles of jazz cognoscenti, is Tyner. First coming to prominence as one of the core members of John Coltrane's bands in the early '60s, he gained a solid following for his adventurousness and attention to never letting the basics slide, but never gained the kind of cult status that Coltrane or Mingus would (or even George Russell, to a less famous but no less intense degree), nor quite the widespread commercial support that the Brubeck Quartet, the Modern Jazz Quartet, or Thelonious Monk gathered quickly or eventually. Recording some of his most adventurous music, for large ensembles and small, for indy labels such as Milestone in the '70s, a lot of this music never quite reached the audience it might...true of a lot of adventurous jazz in this period, but perhaps particularly unfortunate (or simply unnecessary) when one considers how accessible Tyner's work was in this mode. The larger audience probably would've dug it, had they known it existed.

The title track from Fly with the Wind:


A 1974 small-group performance in Warsaw, of "Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit":

And here's the second half...

Tyner and others with another cult-following peformer, Rahsaan Roland Kirk:


And, of course, the classic Coltrane Quartet:


And, a latter-day (2002) reading of the lead track from Tyner's first album as a bandleader after leaving the Coltrane group, The Real McCoy..."African Village"
Part 2
Part 3

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuesday's Overlooked Films And/Or Other A/V: more links

Thanks, as always, to our contributors and to you readers for participation in this week's reviews and citations of the films and other presentations at the links below...there might be a few more added over the course of the day, as they arise.

Bill Crider: It Came from Outer Space (in 3-D, at the Majestic Theater, Dallas) (trailer)

Brian Arnold: Slapstick (of Another Kind)

Chuck Esola: Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession

Ed Gorman: Dodsworth

George Kelley: Travels with My Aunt

Iba Dawson: Island in the Sun

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr: "The Caper" (Mayberry, RFD); Tomorrow, the World!

Jack Seabrook: Robert Bloch on TV: "Annabel" (The Alfred Hitchcock Hour; adapted from This Sweet Sickness by Patricia Highsmith)

James Reasoner: The Three Musketeers (2011)

Jerry House: The San Antonio Kid

John Charles: The Jekyll and Hyde Portfolio

Juri Nummelin: The Honeymoon Killers

Kate Laity: The Royle Family

Michael Shonk: Blue Light (ABC, 1966)

Patti Abbott: Strangers When We Meet

Prashant Trikannad: Airport '77; The Poseidon Adventure (1973); The Towering Inferno

Randy Johnson: The Creation of the Humanoids

Rod Lott: The Toy Box (1971)

Ron Scheer: Tracker

Sergio Angelini: Femme Fatale (2002)

Stacia Jones: Ladies Man (1931)

Walter Albert: That Night in Rio

"WutheringWillow": The Appointment (1969)

Yvette Banek: "Nine Tough Movie Dames"; Tarzan and His Mate

Friday, March 23, 2012

FFB: Algis Budrys, Harlan Ellison, Vladimir Nabokov, Theodore Sturgeon read their work for old media and dead labels...

featured recordings:
Harlan! Harlan Ellison Reads Harlan Ellison (Alternate Worlds, 1976)
Lolita and Poems Read by Vladimir Nabokov (Spoken Arts, 1965)
Theodore Sturgeon Reads from His More Than Human: The Fabulous Idiot (Caedmon, 1980)
82.5 Minutes of Algis Budrys Reading from His Own Work (Unifont, 1995)

There are four albums under consideration here today, four of the more memorable of the records of writers reading their own work I've heard...and it's rather surprising to me, looking back, how infrequently I've come across recordings by women reading from their own work, even when (as with Ursula Le Guin and Joanna Russ's recordings for Alternate Worlds Records, or C. L. Moore's for Caedmon) I was acutely interested in hearing them...I'll start looking around for them at this late date. Such recordings as Sylvia Plath reading "Daddy" would pop up on poetry anthologies from Caedmon in the libraries of my youth, but I was usually lucky to find the items below in circulating collections or on sale (another regret is in not finding Fritz Leiber or Robert Bloch's recordings back when)...we can hope that that speaks less of unconscious sexism on the part of librarians than of the pilfering habits of unsavory patrons. Most of the better audiobooks I've picked up in my majority have been actors' recordings, when not dramatizations, of varying degrees of quality...including a fine anthology of short mystery fiction on cassette, with particularly good readings by actors of Liza Cody and William Campbell Gault stories, that I've managed to misplace some years back (and I might be conflating two different anthologies on cassette, too). But for some work literally in the literary artists' voices:



Alternate World Recordings was a project of the Torgesons, Roy Torgeson also being active in the 1980s as an editor for Zebra Books, and their label briefly flourished in the latter '70s and early '80s as one of the best for recording fantasy and sf writers particularly...Harlan!, featuring Harlan Ellison reading his early "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Tictockman" and the then fairly recent "Shatterday" (published almost simultaneously in the US in men's/skin magazine Gallery for September 1975, and in the UK in Science Fiction Monthly v2 #8, dated August 1975), was one of their most popular offers. I believe it was the first recording issued with Ellison, an enthusiastic and skilled dramatic reader, in this role, and he later recorded "Repent" again, I think less well, for HarperAudio (and with his subscription club, the Harlan Ellison Recording Collection, probably eventually rerecorded the other as well). "Repent," an absurdist dystopian/rebellion short story, was the first story to get Ellison much positive critical attention in the sf field upon publication in Galaxy magazine in 1965, despite Dorothy Parker positively reviewing some of his crime-fiction and related writing a few years earlier, and having established his professional bona fides over the previous decade in several fields. "Shatterday" was one of his most warmly-received horror stories of the past several years, involving a fellow who has apparently developed his own Secret Sharer sort of doppelganger, and that Other is living his life rather more adeptly than he himself is. Ellison reads both stories with brio, stumbling just once in each of the (single-take?) sessions, and it's a pity that (apparently) copyright concerns (as far as I know, all Alternate Worlds records fell in a black hole after the death of Roy Torgeson) have helped keep these out of the public ear for decades.



Vladimir Nabokov reads a selection from Lolita on side one, and on side two:
The Ballad of Longwood Glen
Rain
Lines Written In Oregon
On Translating "Eugene Onegin"
An Evening of Russian Poetry
The Swift
The Discovery

Nabokov's poetry reading can lean into singsong at times, but the performances here are generally good, and better when it comes to the passage from Lolita, the physical confrontation between Humbert and Quilty. The cadences and wryness of Nabokov's delivery are everything one might want, and I think I detect a bit of the Nabokov in the vocal approach Jeremy Irons took in his assaying the role for film. Here is a radio episode that offers much of the content of this album, including the Lolita chapter. While this is a complete upload of the album, with the chapter and poems broken out by track.



When people speak of the parts of Theodore Sturgeon's most widely-hailed novel, the Gestalt-group-mind tale More Than Human, they usually focus on the middle section, published by itself as "Baby is Three" (a punning title in context), but for his Caedmon recording Sturgeon chose, at least to begin with, to read the opening section, "The Fabulous Idiot," and he does so with a subtlety and grace that allows the elegance, empathy and insight of the prose to hit home, as an apparently mentally disabled, homeless youth finds himself drawn to the syzygy (so important as a metaphor in Sturgeon's fiction at that time) that begins to take place by the end of the passages read. I wish we had more recordings of Sturgeon reading his short fiction, but I can't imagine too many being disappointed by this album, except in that (as far as I know) he never went on to record the rest of More Than Human.

Algis Budrys, actually Algirdas Budrys and like Nabokov a Slav for whom English was not his first language, was also like Nabokov in his precise and graceful use of the not quite mother tongue, and for his incisive and often sardonic view of human events. With his recording engineer son, he decided to release a collection of his short fiction on cassette in 1995 as the only audio release from his personal imprint Unifont, which was one of his tabletop businesses in the '80s and '90s, most visibly to the public publishing some bicycle-repair manuals and his magazine Tomorrow Speculative Fiction from its second issue, the first having come from the collapsing Pulphouse. (The April, 1994 issue had two vignettes, Harlan Ellison's "Attack at Dawn" and my first professionally-published fiction, "Bedtime".) One of the late stories Budrys wrote for himself, under one of his old pseudonyms he revived for that purpose in Tomorrow, is included here, the "William Scarff" item:

“The Distant Sound Of Engines” (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March 1959)
“Explosions!” (Tomorrow Speculative Fiction, April 1993, as by William Scarff)
“The Price” (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, February 1960)
“Never Meet Again” (Infinity Science Fiction, March 1958)

All of these are worth hearing, even as they were worth reading, and at least the earlier three were among his most important work (the new story doesn't shame them), with "Engines" being his response to and different take on the matter of, I've always suspected, "Casey Agonistes" by Richard McKenna; "The Price" is a bitter little armageddon fable, and "Never Meet Again" simply one of the more devastating stories of Nazi Germany victorious in WW2, a possibility that had a particular resonance to a man who was perhaps the last official citizen, in the US at least, of pre-WW2 Lithuania and who witnessed, as he mentions in various memoirs, the beserk reaction of the German neighbors of his diplo-kid childhood to a drive-by by Hitler at his early height of popularity, an incident he describes as demonstrating to him that he was surrounded by werewolves. Good, clean readings, not much frippery, and I should look around the web to see if this is archived...cassette not being the medium of choice for anyone, except for its ease of duplication and home-recording back when, for many obvious reasons...

For more and mostly more traditional Friday Books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Meanwhile, the September 1965 issue of Billboard that announces the Nabokov album (and gives it four stars out of four) has Top 100 album and singles charts which are pretty staggering in their diversity and, with some exceptions, quality...particularly when compared to such lists for most of rest of the years since.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tuesday's Overlooked Films And/Or Other A/V: with a few more links


Thanks as always to all the contributors and all you readers of the reviews and citations at the links below...a few more are likely to join these as the day progresses (including my own contributions, if the crick don't rise). And if I've missed your contribution, please let me know in comments...thanks again!

Bill Crider: The Alligator People (almost inevitably) (the trailer)

Brian Arnold: The Regular Show and its prequels; Heartbeeps

Cullen Gallagher: Christa Faust: Tough Dames

Dan Stumpf: The Big Knife

Ed Gorman: Kliph Nesteroff on Roulette Records and the Other Affairs of Morris Levy

Evan Lewis: The Plainsman

George Kelley: The Girl [sic] With the Dragon Tattoo (2011) special edition home video package

Iba Dawson: In the Loop

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: "The Farmer Exchange Project" (Mayberry, RFD)

John Charles: Albino (1976)

James Reasoner: "G" Men

Juri Nummelin: Himmelskibert (taken in full)

Michael Shonk: Probe (1972)

Patti Abbott: Irma La Douce

Prashant Trikannad: Irreconcilable Differences

Randy Johnson: A Boy and His Dog

Rod Lott: Prince of Darkness (1987); Orca

Ron Scheer: In Old Arizona

Scott Cupp: The Devil Bat

Sergio Angelini: Plunder of the Sun

Stacia Jones: El Brendel and TCM highlights: Kes, Petulia, Darling

Steve Lewis: Smooth as Silk

Todd Mason: Without You I'm Nothing; Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic; Short Notice (MNet); Eric Solstein's documentaries

Walter Albert: The Ghost Goes West

"WutheringWillow": Night of the Generals; Tammy and the Bachelor

Yvette Banek: Character Actors

Related matters:

Juri Nummelin: John Carter; Scott Parker, likewise; Walker Martin, as well

Prashant Trikannad: Cary Grant

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday's "Forgotten" Books: The Links and more...

Patti Abbott is On Assignment this week, so here are the links to the reviews (I'm aware of) for this week's selection of books...please let me know in comments if I've missed your review, or someone else's...thanks!

Sergio Angelini: Like Love by Ed McBain

Yvette Banek: Death's Bright Dart by V.C. Clinton-Baddeley

Joe Barone: Cold Service by Robert B. Parker

Brian Busby: books by Irving Layton (and their packaging)

Bill Crider: Adios, Scheherazade by Donald Westlake

Scott Cupp: Follow That Mouse by Henry Melton

William F. Deeck: They Talked of Poison by March Evermay (Mathilde Eiker)

Martin Edwards: The Third Lady by Shizuko Natsuki

Elisabeth Grace Foley: Hay-Wire by B.M. Bower

Ed Gorman: Savages by Bill Pronzini

Allen J. Hubin: Post No Bonds by Marcia Biederman

Randy Johnson: Islands in the Sky by Arthur C. Clarke

George Kelley: The Noel Coward Collection (performed by LA Theater Works)

Martin Lachman: Rafferty: Poor Dead Cricket by W. Glenn Duncan

Kate Laity: Angelica Lost and Found by Russell Hoban

B. V. Lawson: Poison for the Prince by "Elizabeth Eyre" (Jill Staynes and Margaret Storey)

Evan Lewis: The Gods of Mars & The Warlord of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, as illustrated by Frank Frazetta

John F. Norris: The Party at No. 5 by Shelley Smith

James Reasoner: Curse of the Mandarin's Fan by "Brant House" (probably G.T. Fleming-Roberts)

Gerard Saylor: Return to Perdition by Max Allan Collins, art by Terry Beatty

Ron Scheer: The Rustler by Frances McElrath

Kerrie Smith: The Ambassador by Morris West

Kevin Tipple: Under A Raging Moon by Frank Zafiro

"Zybahn": Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M. R. James

Related matter:
Paul Bishop: Man's World (the rare "men's adventure" magazine of the '60s to kinda sorta admit they were publishing fiction)

Eva Dolan: Criminal Classics

Peter Enfantino and Jack Seabrook: Batman in the 1970s

Walker Martin: Collecting Fiction Magazines

Karyn Reeves: Vintage Penguins in London

Kevin Tipple: Basketry: 17 Great Weekend Projects by B. J. Crawford

"TomCat": My Favorite Locked-Room Mysteries: The Novels

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday's Overlooked Films And/Or Other A/V: the links

As always, thanks to all the contributors and all you readers of these reviews and citations linked to or presented below...and, as frequently, I suspect we'll have a few more links to add by the end of the day. Please feel free, as always, to let me know of any I've overlooked which should be posted here.


Bill Crider: The Hill (trailer)

Brian Arnold: Waking Ned Devine

Chuck Esola: The Girl Hunters

Dan Stumpf: The Last Sunset

Ed Gorman: Tony Timpone on Pretty Poison; On the Road

Elizabeth Foxwell: "My Life in Historical Mystery; or, It's All Elizabeth Peters's Fault"

Evan Lewis: Princess of Mars

George Kelley: Troubadors on the Rhine: Loreena McKennitt

Iba Dawson: The Man in the Moon (1991)

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: "Mike's Birthday Party" (Mayberry, RFD); Jungle Queen; Follow That Camel

James Reasoner: Inherit the Wind (1960)

Jerry House: The Way Ahead (1944)

John Charles: Terminal Island (1973)

Kate Laity: BroadPod: "Humor"; The CundeeZ

Michael Shonk: American TV Series with Licensed Women PIs

Prashant Trikannad: Johnny Belinda

Randy Johnson: War-Gods of the Deep (aka City Under the Sea)

Rod Lott: Tenement

Ron Scheer: Day of the Outlaw

Scott Cupp: I Married a Monster from Outer Space

Sergio Angelini: Fear in the Night (1972)

Stacia Jones: Marie Prevost

Steve Lewis: "Superfeature": Lights Out (radio); Lady Against the Odds (and more female PIs)

Todd Mason: Nobody Waved Good-Bye; Solitary Man


Boy-Men and All They Can Lose

Nobody Waved Good-Bye (1964) is an angry young man film that isn't completely on the side of its angry young Canadian middle-class truth-seeker, but does attempt to let him make his case, as he makes one bad decision after another. Commissioned by the National Film Board of Canada as a short film about teens falling under bad influences, the film-making group instead opted for something a little more ambiguous, a feature-length (80-minute) largely improvised, cinema verite-influenced drama shot in three weeks, involving Peter (Peter Kastner), in mutual love with the more grounded but somewhat more timid Julie (Julie Biggs), and how Peter manages to make his already fraught relation with his parents and other authority figures that much worse, in part in not quite catching on to what they want or need for themselves or from him (some, such as John Vernon, later of Animal House among many other such roles, as his sleazy boss at a parking lot, are not too eager to make themselves clear). Shoplifting from bookstores and hanging out too late at the local folkie coffeehouse (Peter is a budding musician) lead to more serious offenses, enough to further Peter's alienation by film's end, and Julie's from him...one can see the film in its entirety at the National Film Board site at the link above, though, sadly, the 20-years-later sequel, Unfinished Business (reuniting Kastner and Biggs as parents) has been more elusive in my sporadic attempts to locate a copy.

Solitary Man (2009) is comedic tragedy, about corrupt, once-impressive car dealer Ben Kalmen (Michael Douglas), out of prison after a brief sentence on fraud charges, and his sabotage of his own attempts to recapture his previous life. He has a relatively cordial relation with his ex-wife (Susan Sarandon), but is perpetually chasing much younger women, including the good friend of his adult daughter (Jenna Fischer), despite having established a regular thing with Jordan (Mary Louise Parker), the daughter of a Mercedes big wheel, who seems willing to help him get a dealership and get back into that game. Unfortunately, Kalmen pulls a Woody Allen, when accompanying his womanfriend's daughter (Imogen Poots) up for interview at his alma mater, an unnamed amalgam of Boston-area old-money universities and colleges (Kalmen had, in his wealthier days as an alum, funded at least one building on campus), and tumbles into bed with young Alyson. The daughter eventually lets this slip in her mother's presence, and Kalmen's plans for a return to his cushy old life slip away as quickly. Kalmen tries to regain some of his composure by taking a job with an old friend (Danny Devito) at the off-campus hangout near the daughter's school, with a bit of attempted sexual mingling with the current co-eds that even Kalmen manages to realize is rather pathetic, not least after Jordan employs strong means of persuasion against him.

So, two films about boyish, impulsive men, one barely and uncomfortably into manhood, the other working on his fifth decade of sustained adolescence, and the rather remarkable women who can put up with them, if only so far. What distinguishes these films from typical Hollywood product is that their selfishness and impulsiveness aren't seen as lovable foibles, but serious problems for themselves and for all around them, albeit both films come up with relatively pat endings that might be seen as letting their boy-men off their respective hooks. That they were ever hooked at all is more than a step up on the typical sitcom (and sitcoms in cinematic form, such as The Hangover films or most of the Judd Apatow axis of projects), where, again, such men are Charming Rogues, or we're supposed to see them as such. Both films involve theft around cars, as well, which only seems the boy-mannish thing to do, after On the Road and so much else that automotive wanderlust features in. Both are well-acted within their compasses, and have some genuine wit about them...the casting in Solitary Man is hard to beat for the purposes they're put to, including Jesse Eisenberg as an upright if somewhat nebbishy friendly acquaintance of Kalmen's on campus, or Gillian Jacobs in a very small role as one of Kalmen's targets for an exercise in charm. Vernon is far and away the most familiar face in Nobody, but even when the other cast members can be a bit raw or stiff in small roles, it's usually employed to the film's advantage.

Walter Albert: The Blackbird (1926)

Yvette Banek: The Cat and the Canary (1939)

Friday, March 9, 2012

DANA GOULD AS MAURICE EVANS AS DR. ZAIUS AS HAL HOLBROOK AS MARK TWAIN

John Hodgman introduces:

FFB: THE FANCIEST DIVE: What Happened When the Giant Media Empire of Time/Life Leaped Without Looking into the Age of High Tech by Christopher Byron


(W.W. Norton, 1986) A fairly straightforward account, written in the fairly clunky Time, Inc.-approved style that has arisen since the smoothing out of the stylistic quirks of the Heroic Years (as in the famous Wollcott Gibbs parody for The New Yorker, "Backward ran sentences till reeled the mind."), this is an ex-staffer's account of the poorly-conceived birth and quick death (in 1983) of TV-Cable Week, the Time, Inc. magazine project that was meant to be their next great weekly offer in the early '80s, but which was sabotaged from within by power struggles, the snobbery of almost everyone involved (who mistook their salaries and corporate pampering for evidence of having done actually good work with such magazines as Time and People), and a certain bull-headedness about how the world should bend to one's whims the way one's executive assistants do...the same sort of milieu that, say, the sitcom 30 Rock finds as one of its richest veins of comedy. The book has an unfortunate tendency, common (as noted above) to entirely too much narrative nonfiction, of attempting to present dialog reconstructed from memories as verbatim transcript, and has slight bobbles of its own in both fact-checking (such as the offhand reference to the syndicated Entertainment Tonight as an ABC series) and syntactic grace, but it keeps the various narrative threads of this interoffice slow collapse mostly raveled...and the anecdotes from various encounters of this doomed band as they fight with each other, with the uppermost bosses at Time, Inc. as much as they dare, and with customers at various levels and the outside press (the account of the vendor booths at the 1982 cable convention alone is colorful enough) make the book worth reading, but it also, if not as effectively as its author probably hoped it would, indicts the remarkable waste of opportunities and resources corporate culture encourages as actual work is subordinated to Being Very Important, and personal gain is always put ahead of any collective benefit, though measures taken in that direction are usually couched in language that completely contradicts that fact.

It's simply an added bit of amusement that several of the characters in the book can't imagine anyone willing to do what turns out to be my job (as they reinvent the TV Guide wheel in remarkably byzantine ways, rather than take the example of a quarter-century's commercial success, at least, as a model); even the jobs they leave, at least within Time, Inc. itself (one player is hired away from TV Guide Canada), sound that much worse to me, even if they apparently had nicer offices.

Before her career as a true-crime writer/reporter, Aphrodite Jones worked in television coverage, and plays a small role in this book.


For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog. It looks as if I'll be hosting next week's links, while Patti is On Assignment...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tuesday's Overlooked Films And/Or Other A/V: the links


Thanks as always to the contributors here, and to you readers of these reviews and citations at the links below. And, as always, if I've missed yours or someone else's review this week, please let me know in comments. Thanks again!

Bill Crider: They Might Be Giants (credits theme/stills) (see Yvette Banek, below)

Brent McKee: Gang Busters (1952: television)

Brian Arnold: Krull; Davy Jones and The Monkees

Chuck Esola: Nothing Lasts Forever

Ed Gorman: Raquelle on The Dark Corner; Davy Jones

Evan Lewis: Overrestored: Guns Along the Trail aka Paradise Canyon

Frederik Pohl: Jack Robins/Rubinson's The Ivory Tower

George Kelley: Richard Goode in recital

Iba Dawson: Coco Avant Chanel

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr: "Millie, the Model" (Mayberry RFD); The Story of Temple Drake



Jack Seabrook: Robert Bloch on Television: "The Big Kick" (Alfred Hitchcock Presents:)

Jackie Kashian: Merrill Markoe

James Reasoner: The White Gorilla

Jerry House: Fear in the Night

John Charles: OSS 117

Juri Nummelin: trailer for Twilight of the Gods

Kate Laity: The Bedsitter; PCon and Mark E. Smith and H.P. Lovecraft

Mark Hand: Shale Gas Watchdog: Sharon Wilson Fills Void Left by Industry Lapdogs; Noam Chomsky on Occupy Protests

Michael Shonk: Hunter (1977)

Mickey Z.: Michael Moore is not a leftist… but he does play one on TV.

Mike Nevins (Francis M. Nevins): Mirage (1965)

Patti Abbott: Accident

Pearce Duncan: An American Werewolf in London (BBC Radio 1994) (Comments: Jeff Segal; Steve Hill; Mike Stamm; Todd Mason)

Prashant Trikannad: Scram!

Randy Johnson: Key Largo

Raquelle: Love is a Ball

Rod Lott: Tarzan and the Valley of Gold

Ron Scheer: Whispering Smith (1948)

Scott Cupp: Fantastic Voyage (1966)

Sergio Angelini: Stolen Face

Stacia Jones: The Phantom Creeps (cont'd.); March films to watch for

Steve Lewis: Partners of the Sunset; Jim Doherty's Top 10 PI Series

Todd Mason: Nobody Waved Goodbye; Solitary Man

Walker Martin: The Pulp Auction of the Century

Walter Albert: Passport to Suez

Yvette Banek: They Might Be Giants (see Bill Crider, above)

Monday, March 5, 2012

The CW network announces summer series...one of them potentially interesting, two aggressively inane

The ballet series has the slightest chance of being half-decent; adults playing musical chairs or yet another "reality" show attempting to be a sexual tease on broadcast tv, essentially no chance.

From the CW (the sixth or seventh or possibly eighth largest US broadcast network these days, the product of the merger of the WB and UPN networks) this afternoon:

March 5, 2012 (Burbank, CA) ─ The CW Network today ordered three new original reality series for summer 2012: THE STAR NEXT DOOR, a nationwide music competition series from Queen Latifah; BREAKING POINTE, an inside look at the competitive world of ballet; and THE CATALINA, which follows the employees and guests at a rocking Miami hotel. These three new shows will join the previously announced game show OH SIT! on The CW’s most aggressive summer slate ever. Premiere dates and times will be announced at a later date.

“One of my first goals here at The CW was to increase the number of hours of original programming, both throughout the season and during the summer. With these four new reality series, we’re launching our biggest summer schedule yet which will boost our circulation during the summer months and provide us with a promotional platform for our fall launch,” said Mark Pedowitz, President, The CW.

From executive producer and hip-hop icon Queen Latifah and executive producer Dave Broome (“The Biggest Loser”), THE STAR NEXT DOOR will go on a nationwide search for undiscovered artists on the verge of stardom. In this new take on the music competition genre, superstar mentors, including pop legend Gloria Estefan and country star John Rich, will travel to where the talent is, immersing themselves in the lives and towns of these local performers and preparing them for the chance to represent their home city on stage, live, in front of America. THE STAR NEXT DOOR is produced by CBS’ Raquel Productions, 25/7 Productions and Flavor Unit Entertainment. Additional mentors and host will be announced at a later time.

BREAKING POINTE goes behind the stage curtain for an intense, unfiltered look at one of the most competitive ballet companies in the country, Ballet West, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Beneath the beauty and glamour of the dance and costumes is a gritty dog-eat-dog world of extreme athleticism, focus, dedication, passion, pressure and, of course, the hunt for the unattainable…perfection. Kate Shepherd (“Big Brother: According to Russell Brand”) and Bill Langworthy (“The City”) are executive producers. Izzie Pick Ashcroft and Jane Tranter are executive producers for BBC Worldwide Productions. BREAKING POINTE is from BBC Worldwide Productions.

With a nightlife as hot as the sun-soaked beaches during the day, THE CATALINA centers on the young, wild staff of The Catalina hotel in Miami’s South Beach. The fun-loving group, who form their own dysfunctional family unit, run a glamorous destination hotel while partying even harder than their guests. Eric Bischoff (“iMPACT Wrestling,” “Confessions of a Teen Idol”) and Jason Hervey (“iMPACT Wrestling,” “Confessions of a Teen Idol”) are executive producers. THE CATALINA is from Bischoff Hervey Entertainment.

OH SIT! is a fun, high-stakes, high-octane musical chairs competition, in which 20 thrill-seeking daredevils race head-to-head through five physically demanding, obstacle course-style eliminations as they each compete to claim a chair, to the sounds of a live band. At the end of the hour, only one contestant will be left sitting triumphant to seize the cash prize. OH SIT! is created and executive produced by Phil Gurin (“The Singing Bee,” “Shark Tank,” “The Weakest Link”), Richard Joel and Deena Dill. The series is from The Gurin Company and 405 Productions.

science fiction, speculative fiction, science fantasy, slipstream fiction...

Patti Abbott on her blog asked the assembled on Sunday, what's the difference between science fiction and speculative fiction? And, having read a story in the anthology of newly-published short fiction Stories edited by Al Sarrantonio and Neil Gaiman, she wondered what was so imaginative about that particular story...Richard Robinson was among those who answered her, and more completely and correctly than anyone else had, and namechecked me for what I might have to say about the matters at hand...

Hard to resist, so:

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Richard, and I agree with you about everything but the uselessness of speculative fiction as a term.

And, Patti: "Oh this genre thing is a slippery slope." Politely, I'll respond, No kidding. That's where the useless pigeonholing starts. Because, yes I'll say it again, nothing escapes genre.

So, if we go back to where the label "speculative fiction" comes from (as I hope the WSJ article [Lorin Eaton cited earlier in comments] managed to trace), Robert Heinlein suggested it as a less-misleading alternative to "science fiction" in the 1940s, but he didn't push it too hard; Judith Merril, as an anthologist beginning in the latter 1950s, picked it up to use it the way Lloyd suggests above, as a catch-all for fantasticated fiction of all sorts, since what she had been using for that purpose, "science-fantasy," had an already established, more specific meaning that might be applied to fiction that mixed elements of sf and fantasy, such as much of the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Leigh Brackett, Jack Vance or (Ms.) C. L. Moore. So speculative fiction ruled OK for Merril, who was also very interested in the expansion of idiom for sf and fantasy writing, embracing the innovations and avant-garde approaches of some of the folks writing for FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASTIC, AMAZING, to some extent the GALAXY group magazines, and in Britain NEW WORLDS and SCIENCE FANTASY magazines in the early '60s, and coming to a head particularly in NEW WORLDS and SCIENCE FANTASY (then renamed IMPULSE) in the later '60s...so the "snobbish" appeal of "speculative fiction" arose then...as people who were trying to break new ground in sf, particularly, were prone to embrace the label (hard science or no hard science didn't really enter into it, as such work as John Brunner's from this period was often both "hard" scientifically and stylistically untraditional, even though the most stereotypically technological magazine in the field, ANALOG, was also the bulwark Against such attempts to move away from the plain tale plainly told, while also if rarely featuring a little of this--ANALOG had been, under the old title ASTOUNDING, the prime mover in getting such literary ambition started in the late 1930s and 1940s, after all).

So, speculative fiction is a vague term that can mean what you want to mean, but perhaps most usefully describes all of fantastic fiction, from fables to surfiction to metafiction and very much including sf and fantasy. Science fiction (about what is possible, though not under current understandings or conditions, but possible with certain theoretically possible changes in place) and fantasy (about what is commonly understood to be impossible, though obviously imaginable, with "magical realism" trying to pretend it isn't fantasy) are sympathetic but relatively distinct approaches.

I haven't yet read my copy of STORIES, but I did read the intro when I bought it, and the ambition there, beyond the hype (any Sarrantonio anthology is going to have a hyperbolic introduction just as any Sarrantonio fiction is going to be at base very goofy), was to present good stories, that might well interest the usual sf and fantasy reader and not necessarily be sf or fantasy.

This leads us to the ridiculously unnecessary, even distorting and remarkably popular term "slipstream," which pretends that sf written by people who likely don't know that ANALOG was once ASTOUNDING, or perhaps even of ANALOG's existence as a magazine at all, can't really be sf, but has to be some hybrid of sf and the (mythical) mainstream of literature...you know all that stuff that isn't sf, or isn't sf or mystery or romance, except when it is, as defined by shelves at a B&N (since Borders is gone, there is no more western nor horror "genre"s, of course, because B&N doesn't segregate those out of "fiction" as Borders used to).

4:55 PM
Blogger Todd Mason said...

Yeah, having now skimmed the Tom Shippey article, he's definitely drunk the "slipstream" Kool-Aid. What bullshit. Particularly as Atwood and others such as Kurt Vonnegut definitely did read the "insider" sf and were inspired by it, and have contributed to it on occasion, and in those two cases particularly were hoping not to lose too much audience of foolish snobs because of their interest in it. (Of course, that just inspires the foolish snobs among sf "insiders" to dismiss their work.)

Friday, March 2, 2012

FFB: THE AMERICAN FOLK SCENE ed. DeTurk & Poulin; BOB DYLAN: DON'T LOOK BACK transcribed & ed. by Pennebaker et al.; DANGEROUSLY FUNNY by Bianculli

Hoots and Hollers: Folk Music and Its Extensions at Midcentury (...and Up Till Now...)



"Folk music is like country music for people who aren't conservative?" --James Adomian, contemplating the current Billboard folk/acoustic music album chart, on Who Charted?, uploaded February 29, 2012

Three books this time coming at and attempting to explicate and/or contextualize the varying flavors of the popular folk-music movement of the 1950s and '60s, and particularly some of the most popular performers (and lightning rods) of that field and time. The American Folk Scene: Dimensions of the Folksong Revival is, like The Age of Rock reviewed here briefly, a somewhat haphazard collection of magazine essays, from sources ranging from the folk-music "insider" Sing Out! to Time, that attempts to give a mildly panoramic view of the folk-music scene as it was not quite dissipating, but instead not just bifurcating but polyfurcating if one might be forgiven a neologism...the pop-folk of the Kingston Trio and Judy Collins and many of their peers not quite riding the top of the charts any longer but still retaining an audience, while a number of the younger musicians were moving into folk-rock or were drawn to the new opportunities in country music, while others yet were remaining more or less traditionalist purists...and not a few would hop from one field to another as mood or the commercial vagaries struck. G. Legman is as dour as always, with his "Folksongs, Fakelore, and Cash" and Nat Hentoff (his name misspelled in the citation of this book in the library database WorldCat [see full citation of the anthology's contents below] and dutifully parroted in the Amazon listing) typically sensible in "The Future of the Folk Renascence" and Richard Fariña briefly represented, writing about his sister-in-law Joan Baez and this Zimmerman kid. The essays are, of course, not all equally valuable, nor does one come away with a particularly complete understanding of the "scene" as it was even at time of assembly...but it's a start. (My copy is buried deep in storage, at the moment.)



The first time I ever heard Bob Dylan sing I knew he would be a success.
He sounded exactly like Woody Guthrie, an earlier folksinger, and I
figured that if he added a few more imitations–-maybe Bette Davis and James
Cagney–-he would have an even funnier routine. --Mike Royko, "Dylan the Great"

Meanwhile, Zims, who started calling himself Dylan rather early in the 1960s, had already started making a serious name for himself by the time CBS, due to John Hammond's endorsement, started recording him in 1962, and D. J. Pennebaker did no disservice to his own reputation by putting together a cinema verite documentary of Dylan's second tour of the UK, eventually released as Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back (and including, in one early performance sequence filmed around a civil rights protest encampment from several years earlier, footage taken by Ed Emshwiller for an unfinished project that Emshwiller gave to Pennebaker). Released in 1967, the film spawned an interesting 1968 book project, which combined transcripts of the lyrics and dialog from the film with stills (this being as close to a take-home version of the film as most fans could afford in those years), not a unique project but still not that common (the Ballantines, who were always ready to innovate, were then still in charge of the publishing house that bore their name), and it's a deft job...Pennebaker warns that it's no substitute for the film, but it does provide a nice supplement to some fleeting or murky dialog...my copy of the book is from the New Video reprint of the Ballantine edition, released in 2006 as part of the "65 Tour Deluxe Edition" of the film on dvd, with a bonus disc of outtakes and related recordings and a little flipbook that allows handheld animation of the promotional film for "Subterranean Homesick Blues"...


Jack Paar: "I like folksingers. I hate hillbillies. What's the difference between hillbillies and folksingers?"

Tom Smothers: "Well...hillbillies sing higher." --Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of the The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour


David Bianculli's book is still in print from a traditional (if megaconglomerate) publisher, as opposed to being a premium in a dvd set, and it shows the signs of being a megaconglomerate book...notably a lack of copy-editing, or of editorial guidance that might've sent Bianculli back to get a little deeper into the background of his subjects. The television reviewer seems to think the Weavers disappeared from the face of the Earth after their first break-up in 1952, for example, rather than having reformed in '54 and helped foster the folk revival the Kingston Trio and other commercial acts sprang from, for the most part...Bianculli even manages to mention Burl Ives and Harry Belafonte repeatedly without tumbling to the fact that Ives and other folksingers and their colleagues in bringing calypso to the US charts were also keeping a presence for pop-folk in the popular consciousness. Even about his subjects at hand, he manages to bobble--while attempting to demonstrate the Smotherses' influence on the next generation, he (rather obsequiously) overpraises Ken Burns and quotes Bill Maher's accurate memory of the song "Mediocre Fred"...without noting that that song was written by Pat Paulsen, a fact which would strengthen Bianculli's point in the passage in question. But DB clearly loves the SmoBros' work, and got some good interview material from them, their sister, and many of the others around them, and I'm not sure he overstates the importance of the Comedy Hour and its spinoffs and the fights with CBS they had. By no means a perfect book, but interesting both for the light it sheds on their early career, and their careers since the firing (and replacement by that other comedy and music series, only in this case much worse comedy and sometimes rather similar music, Hee-Haw...which CBS would high-handedly cancel in turn in its purge of "rural", older-skewing series in favor of the post-All in the Family wave of more "urban/suburban," "hipper" shows...the kind of thing the Smothers were providing when they were fired).

from WorldCat:

The American folk scene : dimensions of the folksong revival

Author: David A De Turk; A Poulin
Publisher: New York : Dell Pub. Co., 1967.
334 p. ; 18 cm.

Contents:
Pt. 1: Folk and the folk arrival. Folk and the folk arrival / Sandy Paton ; Why folk music? / Pete Seeger ; Who invented the folk? / Stan Steiner ; Why I Detest Folk Music / Robert Reisner ; The folk music interchange: negro and white, / John Cohen ; The singer of folksongs and his conscience / Sam Hinton ; The performance of folksongs on recordings / Robert S. Whitman and Sheldon S. Kagan ; "Hootenanny": the word, its content and continuum / Peter Tamony ; Folk music in the schools of a highly industrialized society / Charles Seeger ; The folksong revival: cult or culture? / B. A. Botkin --

pt. 2: Mine enemy, the folksinger (topical-protest songs). "Mine enemy, the folksinger" / Kenneth Keating ; The position of songs of protest in folk literature / John Greenway ; Songs of our time from the pages of broadside magazine / Gordon Friesen ; P-for-protest / Jon Pankake and Paul Nelson ; Topical songs and folksinging, 1965, A Symposium / Don West, Phil Ochs, Ewan MacColl, Chad Mitchell, John Cohen, Moses Asch, Josh Dunson ; The topical song revolution at midpoint / Irwin Silber ; Sing a song of freedom / Robert Sherman --

pt. 3: Woody and his children: four for our time. Woody Guthrie: the man, the land, the understanding / John Greenway ; The ballad of Pete Seeger / Peter Lyon ; Sibyl with guitar ('Time' magazine) ; Joan Baez, an interview ; Baez and Dylan: a generation singing out / Richard Farina ; Bob Dylan / John Pankake and Paul Nelson ; "Highway 61 revisited" / Irwin Silber and Paul Nelson ; I will show you fear in a handful of songs / David A. De Turk and A. Poulin, Jr. ; Pete's children: the American folksong revival, pro and con / Jon Pankake --

pt. 4: Folk, rock, cash, and the future. Folk rock: thunder without rain / Josh Dunson ; Folk music and the success syndrome / Irwin Silber ; Commercialism and the folksong revival / Ron Radosh ; Is cash killing folk music? / Josh Dunson and Moses Asch ; Folksongs, fakelore, and cash / G. Legman ; The future of the folk renascence / Nat Hentof]f].

For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.