Wednesday, February 27, 2013

a quick survey of fragrance reviews

My friend Laura, an aficionada of the Voluptuary Arts, is particularly fond of fragrance reviews, not least these from lucky scent:

The fun of fragrance reviews is that they sharply contrast for the same scent but are generally much briefer than movie or book reviews. I try to triangulate to imagine what could create such divergent views. An example of some from one fragrance:

<<<I love this fragrance, I put it on and immediately imagine myself as being rich and powerful....for me it is a an amazingly masculine fragrance thanks SL>>>

<<<This is almost a carbon copy of The Body Shop's White Musk, which costs a fraction of the price. A pleasant, light and clean musk.>>>

<<<If ever there were a scent that smelled like Bigfoot's penis, this would be IT.>>>
[TM here: I have no desire whatsoever to ever experience anything that would elicit this reaction from me...or, probably, from anyone else.]

Another fragrance:

<<<This is extraordinary. It's understated and exceptionally elegant. I've received more compliments on this perfume than any other.>>>


<<<Exotic dancer turned gold-digging wife of an oil baron shows up late and slightly drunk to a luncheon at the country club. This is the perfume she wears.>>>

 And another fragrance:
<<<I bought a small bottle (don't know if it's still offered) in December, have used half of it. I think it's my favorite daytime scent. Gasoline? Fart? It has a hard edge initially that I like very much. Something metallic. And then on me it dries down to the smell of old wood left to the elements.>>> 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

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

Sergeant Rutledge
Thanks as always to all the contributors of the reviews and citations at the links below, and to all you readers (and, if you're moved to be, commenters at the posts). There are likely to be at least a couple of additional links over the course of the day...if I've missed yours, or someone else's, please let me know in comments. Thanks very much.

Bill Crider: Demetrius and the Gladiators  [trailer]

Brian Arnold: Gremloids [aka Hyperspace]

Elizabeth Foxwell: The Hanged Man

Evan Lewis: The Son of Tarzan (1920)

George Kelley: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: The Musical

Iba Dawson: Rosewood

Ivan G. Shreve: dvd packages

Jackie Kashian: Sue Costello, T. J. Miller, Auggie Smith

Jacqueline T. Lynch: "Resisting Enemy Interrogation"

James Reasoner: Crossfire Trail

John Charles: Beyond Atlantis [aka Sea Creatures]

Kliph Nesteroff: Willie Tyler

Laura: The Maltese Falcon (1931; aka Dangerous Female)

Lucy Brown: Sylvia Scarlett; The Bad and the Beautiful

Martin Edwards: Jennifer 8

Marty McKee: Battlestar Galactica (the 1978 pilot/theatrical Sensurround!)

Michael Shonk: Barbary Coast (1975-76) and its 1975 pilot

Mystery Dan: Take Me Out to the Ball Game
The Snakepit

Patti Abbott: The Snakepit

Paul S.: Flesh and Bone

Prashant Trikannad: The Descendants, The Dilemma, and The Oscars telecast.

Randy Johnson: The Racket (1928); Dollars for Django (aka Pochi dollari per Django)

Rick: The Winslow Boy

Rod Lott: Las Vegas Blood Bath

Ron Scheer: Sergeant Rutledge (see Sergio Angelini)

Scott Cupp: The Relic

Sergio Angelini: Sergeant Rutledge 
(see Ron Scheer)

Stacia Jones: Raiders of Ghost City

Stephen Bowie: "A Night to Remember" (Kraft Television Theater)

Steve Lewis: ...And Suddenly It's Murder [aka Crimen]

Yvette Banek: Hopscotch

Sunday, February 24, 2013

some comedians

Tom Lehrer: "The Irish Ballad" (from Copenhagen, 1967)

(His 1967 Oslo concert will be a public-television pledger this month...)

Jackie Kashian: on Conan the other day

Paul F. Tompkins:  Go Ask Alice

Mary Mack: short set

Lenny Bruce: "Captain Whackencracker" 

Jean Carroll: standup pioneer

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday Music Club: some singing pianists

Hazel Scott: "A Foggy Day"/"Autumn Leaves"
The Hazel Scott Show was an early American television program broadcast on the now defunct DuMont Television Network. The series ran during the summer of 1950, and is most notable for being the first U.S. network television series to be hosted by a Black woman. Despite critical acclaim and decent Hooper Ratings, the series was cancelled after just a few months. On June 22, 1950, Scott's name had appeared in Red Channels, an anti-Communist publication which named supposed Communist sympathizers.  (from the current Wikipedia entry)

Carmen McCrae: "A Beautiful Friendship" (with Dizzy Gillespie)  

 Nina Simone: "Go Limp"

 Aretha Franklin: "Don't Play That Song"  

 Diana Krall: "Lost Mind"/"I've Got You"/"Peel Me a Grape"  

 Melody Gardot: "Your Heart is as Black as Night"  
 Nellie McKay: "Caribbean Song"/"Beneath the Underdog"/"Portal"

Judith Owen: "Trip and Tumble"

Vienna Teng: "Gravity"

Friday, February 22, 2013

FFB: Ray Russell's fiction anthologies from PLAYBOY

Playboy, of course, was always about its (mostly Hugh Hefner's) idea of being sophisticated (or at least being seen as such). As Hefner was a lover of fiction nearly as much as he was of pulchritude and high-end stereo equipment, he was eager to have editors on hand to help bring some of the best fiction of various sorts into the magazine, even as most other "slick" magazines were collapsing or abandoning fiction throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and into the 1970s...while it had been possible, if somewhat difficult, for a writer to live reasonably well on short-fiction sales in the '50s, with The Saturday Evening Post and (in the early years of the decade) Collier's paying very well indeed for a lot of fiction per issue and most of the general-interest and gendered magazines featuring at least a few short stories, by the end of the '60s, Playboy was one of the few surviving markets among magazines not otherwise devoted to fiction that was still likely to publish more than a single short story per issue, if that (The New Yorker, Harper's and The Atlantic Monthly, all paying somewhat less, were among the few others; Redbook was perhaps the last diehard among the magazines aimed at women, with the weak exception, in the last decade or so, of Woman's World and their offer of one romance and one mystery vignette per issue, or Bust with one erotic vignette). Ray Russell was one of the most energetic of Playboy's fiction editors, and a generator of any number of anthologies of fiction and related matter taken from the magazine starting in the latter '60s...there were the big books, The Playboy Book of.... volumes, released in hardcover and paperback, and the slimmer, paperback-only anthologies with titles such as From the S File (all the contributing writers' surnames began with S) or, as pictured above, Stories of the Sinister & Strange.  (One thing they didn't spend too much time on, sadly, were the covers for these volumes...very strange, given the available talent and care given to illustration in the magazine itself. )

While these books were not quite up to, say, Robert Arthur's (or Harold Masur's) Alfred Hitchcock Presents: anthologies (which had the option of drawing on Playboy as well as any number of other sources for their contents), and the tendency for the slickly facile could rule OK in a given several stories in each book, Russell had a fair amount to be proud of during his term as fiction editor (and was never shy, as you'll note below, about including his own stories in the books). I read them happily as I came across them, mostly in libraries though the mass market paperback editions were pretty well distributed and widely available secondhand as well as new in the 1970s and '80s.  When I picked up Charles Willeford's slim collection The Machine in Ward Eleven a decade or so back I knew I had read that title story before, but couldn't remember where...and certainly Charles Beaumont, who was as close to a Playboy "discovery" as any writer in the early issues, consistently offered searching and profound work to the magazine and others (he was the first film reviewer for as well as fiction contributor to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, for example). Beaumont certainly isn't the only contributor to repeatedly appear in the Russell tables of contents, either, of course. Another memory lapse for me: I knew I had mostly read Ken Purdy's work in anthologies devoted to auto racing, and perhaps other sports-fiction anthos...but had forgotten that, for Playboy at least, he also dabbled in criminous and fantasticated fiction...and Purdy's isn't the only byline I might not've expected to find in these contexts, to say nothing of those who offer decent or better work whom I've otherwise never encountered (John Reese, or H. C. Neal, among others). Ellen Datlow, the editor (first prominent as fiction editor of Omni magazine, from the Penthouse group) of any number of important media for short fiction over the last thirty-odd years, cited the Horror volume here for her entry in Horror: The 100 Best Books.

Alice Turner succeeded Russell, not immediately (after Robie MacCauley's just under a decade in place) and for a slightly longer stretch, as fiction editor, and I will perhaps, less nostalgically (as her anthologies weren't a small staple of my youthful reading as the Russells were), take a look at her impressive anthologies out of the magazine in the future. Sadly, since Turner's dismissal, the magazine, probably on its way to collapse (one correspondent suggested to me that its publication will probably cease as soon as Hefner passes, kept as it is mostly as a shadowy remnant of what it was out of respect for the Old Man/Founder), has not had much more of a commitment to fiction than its original model, Esquire, albeit the simple majority of issues till recently still had an excerpt or story in them, to supplement the Gahan Wilson and less interesting cartoons.

courtesy ABE and WorldCat:
The Playboy Book of Crime and Suspense [edited by Ray Russell] ed. Anon. (Chicago: Playboy, 1966, 405pp, hc)

A Lucky Day for the Boar by Gerald Kersh
The Peeping Tom Patrol by Michael Shaara
The Room of Dark by Gilbert Wright
The Distributor by Richard Matheson
Last Will and Testament by Ray Russell
The Hildebrand Rarity by Ian Fleming
Everybody Hates David Starbuck by Steve Allen
The Hustler by Walter S. Tevis
Walk to the Station by Stanley Cooperman
Naked in Xanadu by Ray Russell
The Bottom of the Ocean by Ken W. Purdy
A Cry from the Penthouse by Henry Slesar
The Sign of Scorpio by Charles Mergendah
The Man in the Well by Berkely Mather
The New Deal by Charles Einstein
The Hunger by Charles Beaumont
The Supermen by William M. Clark
Speak to Me of Immortality by Ken W. Purdy
The Morning After by Wade Miller
With All Due Respect by Fred McMorrow
The Devil to Pay by Stephen Barr 
Harpy by T. K. Brown III
The Hobbyist by Fredric Brown
The Sender of Letters by Herbert Gold
Balance Sheet by Morton Fineman
No Fire Burns by Avram Davidson 
A Fist Full of Money by Henry Slesar & Jay Folb
Incident off Land's End by Jacob Hay

Courtesy the Contento Indices:
The Playboy Book of Horror and the Supernatural [edited by Ray Russell] ed. Anon. (Chicago: Playboy, 1967, $5.95, 390pp, hc)

The Playboy Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy [edited by Ray Russell] ed. Anon. (Chicago: Playboy LCC# 66-12861, 1966, $5.95, 403pp, hc)
  • vii · Preface · Editors of Playboy · pr
  • 1 · The Fly · George Langelaan · nv Playboy Jun ’57
  • 40 · Blood Brother · Charles Beaumont · ss Playboy Apr ’61
  • 46 · Love, Incorporated · Robert Sheckley · ss Playboy Sep ’56
  • 61 · A Foot in the Door · Bruce Jay Friedman · ss Playboy Oct ’60
  • 75 · The Vacation · Ray Bradbury · ss Playboy Dec ’63
  • 84 · The Never-Ending Penny · Bernard Wolfe · nv Playboy Sep ’60
  • 101 · Bernie the Faust · William Tenn · nv Playboy Nov ’63
  • 130 · A Man for the Moon · Leland Webb · ss Playboy Aug ’60
  • 140 · The Noise · Ken W. Purdy · ss Playboy Mar ’59
  • 155 · The Killer in the TV Set · Bruce Jay Friedman · ss Playboy Aug ’61
  • 166 · I Remember Babylon · Arthur C. Clarke · ss Playboy May ’60
  • 179 · Word of Honor · Robert Bloch · ss Playboy Aug ’58
  • 187 · John Grant’s Little Angel · Walt Grove · ss Playboy Jul ’64
  • 206 · The Fiend · Frederik Pohl · ss Playboy Apr ’64
  • 215 · Hard Bargain · Alan E. Nourse · ss Playboy May ’58
  • 221 · The Nail and the Oracle · Theodore Sturgeon · nv Playboy Oct ’65
  • 244 · After · Henry Slesar · ss Playboy Jun ’60
  • 250 · December 28th · Theodore L. Thomas · ss Playboy Dec ’59
  • 254 · Spy Story · Robert Sheckley · ss Playboy Sep ’55
  • 268 · Punch · Frederik Pohl · ss Playboy Jun ’61
  • 274 · The Crooked Man · Charles Beaumont · ss Playboy Aug ’55
  • 286 · Who Shall Dwell... · H. C. Neal · ss Playboy Jul ’62
  • 293 · Double Take · Jack Finney · ss Playboy Apr ’65
  • 314 · Examination Day · Henry Slesar · ss Playboy Feb ’58
  • 320 · The Mission · Hugh Nissenson · ss Playboy Dec ’64
  • 338 · Waste Not, Want Not · John Atherton · ss Playboy Jun ’59
  • 343 · The Dot and Dash Bird · Bernard Wolfe · ss Playboy Dec ’64
  • 359 · The Sensible Man · Avram Davidson · ss Playboy Feb ’59
  • 365 · Souvenir [“The Drowned Giant”] · J. G. Ballard · ss The Terminal Beach, London: Gollancz, 1964; Playboy May ’65
  • 378 · Puppet Show · Fredric Brown · ss Playboy Nov ’62
  • 390 · The Room · Ray Russell · ss Playboy Feb ’61
  • 394 · Dial “F” for Frankenstein · Arthur C. Clarke · ss Playboy Jan ’65
  • 403 · Index of Authors · Misc. · ix

Playboy’s Stories of the Sinister & Strange [edited by Ray Russell] ed. Anon. (Playboy BA0124, 1969, 95¢, 217pp, pb)
  • iv · Preface · Anon. · pr
  • 1 · The Mannichon Solution · Irwin Shaw · nv Playboy Dec ’67
  • 41 · The Dark Music · Charles Beaumont · ss Playboy Dec ’56
  • 57 · Somewhere Not Far from Here · Gerald Kersh · ss Playboy Mar ’65
  • 78 · The Investor · Bruce Jay Friedman · ss Playboy Feb ’62
  • 90 · Ripples · Ray Russell · ss Playboy Oct ’67
  • 93 · The Dispatcher · Gerald Green · nv Playboy Aug ’67
  • 120 · Wise Child [“It’s a Wise Child”] · John Wyndham · ss Argosy (UK) Nov ’62; Playboy May ’67
  • 137 · Welcome to the Monkey House · Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. · ss Playboy Jan ’68
  • 160 · Room 312 · G. L. Tassone · ss Playboy Aug ’67
  • 177 · The Golden Frog · Ken W. Purdy · nv Playboy Jan ’63
  • 200 · The Annex · John D. MacDonald · ss Playboy May ’68

The Playboy Book of Humor and Satire [edited by Ray Russell] ed. Anon. (Chicago: Playboy, 1967, vii+ 407pp, hc)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: more links (and some reviews)

Pete Kelly's Blues
The links below are to reviews and citations of the cited insufficiently (usually!) appreciated audio/visual presentations, leaning heavily toward film but not exclusively so. Thanks as always to all the participants and all of you who read these posts (and, if you choose, to comment as well), and there likely will be some additional items over the course of the day.

I Want to Live!
Bill Crider: I Want to Live! [trailer]

Brian Arnold: Wizards

Brian Busby: Half a Bride

Dan Stumpf: Horrors of the Black Museum

Elizabeth Foxwell: The Fatal Witness

Evan Lewis: Pete Kelly's Blues (1955 film, mostly)

Geoff Bradley: A Place of Execution

George Kelley: Smash (tv series); Stella Adler on American Playwrights

Greg Proops: Gilda

How Did This Get Made?: Nothing But Trouble

Iba Dawson: The Boy Who Could Fly; Richard Briers

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Foreign Correspondent (1940 film)

Jackie Kashian: Scott Rogers on Disneyland

Jacqueline T. Lynch: Parrish

Jake Hinkson: House of Cards (Netflix television)

Buddy Faro
James Reasoner: Buddy Faro

Jerry House: Surf Nazis Must Die!

J. Kingston Pierce: The President's Mystery

John Charles: Beowulf (1998 film)

John F. Norris: The Black Camel

Juri Nummelin: Minnesota Clay

Kliph Nesteroff: Ed Asner

Laura: Prince of Foxes

Lucy Brown: Sylvia Scarlett

from TV Guide, September 1966

Martin Edwards: St. Hilda's Crime and Mystery Week

Marty McKee: Battlestar Galactica (the 1978 pilot/theatrical Sensurround!)

Michael Shonk: The Adventures of Hiram Holliday

Mystery Dan: Invisible Invaders

Patti Abbott: Love on a Rooftop

Paul S: Prelude to a Kiss

The Big Sleep
Randy Johnson: Gentleman Killer (aka Ehi...Gentleman Joe... frega il morto e... spara al vivo); Skyfall

Rick: The Rare Breed;  Blackbeard's Ghost

Rod Lott: Alice, Sweet Alice

Ron Miller: "Dream of the Stars"

Ron Scheer: Monte Walsh (1970 film)

Scott Cupp: The Orphanage (aka El orfanato; 2007 film)

Sergio Angelini: The Big Sleep (1978 film)

Stacia Jones: Only Yesterday (1933 film)

Stephen Bowie: Leverage (tv series)

Todd Mason: "The Human Voice" (ABC Stage 67; 1966 television); The Scapegoat (2012 television); Ondine (2009 film); Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar; "How It Ended" (2011 short film) [forthcoming!]

Yvette Banek: The Woman in White (1948 film)

The Scapegoat

Temporarily in lieu of my reviews, this rating bulletin from preliminary Nielsen ratings for Sunday primetime...with PBS's Masterpiece Theatre/Downton Abbey and cable station AMC's The Walking Dead added to the regular suspects:

8 p.m.

CBS: "The Amazing Race" premiere (9.5 million, 5.6/9)
ABC: "Once Upon a Time" (7.5 million, 4.4/7)
FOX: "The Simpsons" (4.6 million, 2.5/4)/"Bob's Burgers" (4.1 million, 2.1/3)
NBC: "Betty White's Off Their Rockers" rerun (4.25 million, 2.6/4)
18-49 leader: "The Amazing Race" (2.4)
9 p.m.
AMC: “The Walking Dead” (11 million, estimating 7/10)
CBS: "The Good Wife" (8.5 million, 5.5/8)

PBS: “Masterpiece Theatre/Downton Abbey” (8.2 Million, 5.2/8)
ABC: "Revenge" (6 million, 3.9/6)
FOX: "Family Guy" (4.85 million, 2.7/4)/"American Dad" (4.1 million, 2.3/3)
NBC: "SNL in the '90s: Pop Culture Nation" rerun (3.8 million, 2.2/3)
18-49 leader: "Family Guy" (2.4) in broadcast; “The Walking Dead” had a 5.6.

10 p.m.
CBS: "The Mentalist" (9.2 million, 5.9/10)
PBS: “Masterpiece Theatre/Downton Abbey” (8.2 Million, 5.2/9)
NBC: "SNL in the '90s: Pop Culture Nation" rerun (4.2 million, 2.6/4)
ABC: "Zero Hour" rerun (3.05 million, 1.9/3)


Friday, February 15, 2013

FFB: Semiotext(e) SF, edited by Rudy Rucker, Peter Lamborn Wilson and Robert Anton Wilson (Autonomedia, 1989; issue 14)

There have been impressive special issues of magazines over the decades, not least such numbers of good little magazines as TriQuarterly or Conjunctions or even the too-often precious McSweeney's, but few have been as good a snapshot of the changes happening in a field of literature as the hefty (384 pp) Volume V, Issue 2 (#14) of the pomo, largely Situationist journal Semiotext[e]  (ISSN: 0-093-95779), issued in 1989. Editors (for this issue) Rudy Rucker, Peter Lamborn Wilson and (not kin, I believe) Robert Anton Wilson were almost unsurprisingly able to draw in some of the most "bleeding edge" writers in speculative fiction, and some of their great inspirations in sf, horror and fantasy writing (such as Philip José Farmer, Colin Wilson, Barrington J. Bayley, Robert Sheckley, J. G. Ballard  and William Burroughs...and editor RA Wilson) and mix their often playful work in with that of the newer folks advancing the form in various ways. This issue's "Burning Sky" was one of the first two or three stories I read by the brilliant Rachel Pollack, who has produced good novels and comics scripts but is best (I'd say) in the short story genre, Michael Blumlein is similarly swinging (or is that slashing?) for the fences, and Bruce Sterling's contribution is one of his key stories.  Not everything here is top-shelf ("Solitons" is probably the worst single story I've read by Paul Di Filippo, and sadly one of the first), but one of the problems with art, particularly art that is trying not to Play It Safe, is falling on one's arse or otherwise looking foolish while striving, even more than when doing more conventional work (not that certain talents can't look foolish in that compass as well).  Some of these folks have damned near fallen silent since (such as T. Winter-Damon), and that's probably a pity...others have certainly gone through a variety of modes (such as John Shirley, like Ian Watson a writer who had begun establishing himself earlier in the '70s than Shirley's eventual "Movement"/"cyberpunk" cohort including Rucker, Sterling, Di Filippo, Willam Gibson, Lewis Shiner and Richard Kadrey, the last represented here with visual rather than literary work); others, such as Thom Metzger, seem to have been more Semiotext(e) regulars than contributors to other outlets (though latterly in Rucker's webzine Flurb, as well as having published several books) . All told, an issue (though some would like to insist it's a stand-alone book) worth seeking out, with some brilliant, a lot of good, some slight and only a bit of terrible work, all of it helping to limn the radical tradition in fantastic fiction writing, and making clear the links to other radical traditions (and radical artists) in a way that is too easy to overlook otherwise. 

Please see Evan Lewis's Davy Crockett's Almanack of Mystery, Adventure and the Wild West for the rest of this week's choices, and apparently Patti Abbott is scheduled to return to tend to this weekly roundelay next week, a week earlier than Evan and I were reporting previously.