Wednesday, August 31, 2011

An Overlooked straggler and some other blogposts of particular interest:

Juri Nummelin checks in with the 1998 (delayed in release till 1999, and then in Japan for this US film) Trance, among the Tuesday's Overlooked, and

Ed Gorman posts/reprints Barry Malzberg's vignette "Cornell" with a note explicating its origins and Barry's relation with Cornell Woolrich, and

Don Herron has been posting some newspaper pages from the syndicated serialization of a Dashiell Hammett "Continental Op" story or so, from materials John Squires has been turning up through online searches of such databases as the Fulton History site...

And Jackie Kashian's The Dork Forest yesterday is even more engaging than usual, with a long conversation on US comedy between the World Wars with actor/writer Frank Coniff and writer Ben Schwartz, and a performance by musical comedian Nick Thune, from a live performance at Meltdown Comics in LA.

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: adding a Wednesday link

Bill Crider: The Blackboard Jungle

Brian Arnold: All the Hidden Endings to Marvel Comics Avengers Prequels in One Convenient Place

Ed Gorman: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (several adaptations); Louie

Evan Lewis: The Cocoanuts

Gerald So: Breaking In

Iba Dawson: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

James Reasoner: Good Morning, World

Juri Nummelin: Trance (1998/99) (aka The Eternal aka The Eternal: Kiss of the Mummy)

Kate Laity: Lumottu (Enchanted)

Marty McKee: Lobo: "Orly's Hot Skates"

Randy Johnson: Whistling in the Dark

Ron Scheer: Last Stand at Saber River

Scott Cupp: Under the Mountain

Todd Mason: Updated (and expanded) podcast listings, films on television, reading au naturel: see below

Yvette Banek: The List of Adrian Messenger

Related matter:

BV Lawson: Media Murder

Elizabeth Foxwell: Ransom Center on the papers of Nicholas Ray

George Kelley: The Worst Movies of 2011 So Far

Jackie Kashian: Crazy Stupid Love

John Charles: All-Night Drive-In Marathons

Patti Abbott: Point Blank

Rebecca O'Malley: Netflix Streaming picks

Stacia Jones: September Movies to Watch For [on cable]

Todd Mason:

American Public Television, the syndicator which offers such programs as Globe Trekker, Ebert Presents At the Movies, and Rosemary and Thyme, also has been offering to US public broadcasting stations a film package, New Classics and Old Favorites, for several years, and now is repackaging their film offers as the Hollywood Stars Package, leading off in September with two of the Thin Man films, the first one and After the Thin Man.

The October (further) offers include Annie Get Your Gun, The Music Man, The Nun's Story, and the second Inspector Clouseau film, A Shot in the Dark. Nothing particularly obscure so far, not even when compared to such broadcast packages as one find on the digital networks Antenna TV and ThisTV, but unlike their offerings, nothing will be panned and scanned nor edited nor interrupted by commercials, and it's a good set of films, appearing on most PBS and indy public stations on Saturday nights. (Even the Encore film channels are presented by some cable systems in a rigid "windowbox" format that takes away some of their considerable charm...and cable station IFC's decision to take on commercial interruptions to their films, probably a necessity financially, is otherwise charmless.)

Rather more static fun (if Not Safe for Work in most environments), for those who enjoy mildly exhibitionistic photography of women readers, is the Outdoor Co-Ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society, who are not co-ed (no beefcake that I've seen so far, unless I've simply overlooked it), don't appear to actually appreciate pulp (so much as the new large-format Hard Case Crime volumes), but are certainly topless clothing-wise and hoping you'll enjoy seeing them thus.

...and here's a further update of a previous post from me, given a great broadening of the menu of podcasts offered by several of the podcast sites:
BBC Radio 4's Comedy page...access to (at least this week's set of) BBC audio sketch shows and sitcoms. BBC Radio 7 (RIP) has been replaced by BBC Radio 4 Extra, which also takes some repeats from 4 and adds some more material, including television soundtracks and radio adaptations of television material.

Comedy and Everything Else, Jimmy Dore and Stef Zamarano's podcast (which sometimes cross-riffs with Dore's Pacifica Radio series, audible via Jimmy Dore Comedy), notable for a pronounced though very much not doctrinaire leftist stance, and a lot of good food (people are eating a little less on mic these days).

The former Comedy Death Ray Radio, now Comedy Bang Bang, Scott Aukerman's interview, sketch and music showcase...and now the anchor of a group of podcasts. Bang Bang is a more elaborate showcases for improv parody-character sketches than most of the podcasts noted here, which often are the funniest bits. In fact, an episode in which Jimmy Pardo and his regulars filled in as hosts, and featuring an extended improv by Maria Bamford and Paul Gilmartin and music from the charming Garfunkel & Oates, might still be my favorite. Also on the Earwolf pages is the Sklar Brothers' sports and comedy podcast Sklarbro Country is also charming, if a bit literally too inside baseball, etc., to sustain my attention as readily; however, Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack's Who Charted? is among the most charming and relaxed, as well as funny, podcasts you're likely to encounter, wherein a guest is brought on to interact with items from the Most Popular/Bestselling lists in various sorts of pop culture and related matters. The pun-laden, somewhat Nick Dangeresque Mike Detective, with Rob Heubel and Grey DeLisle, is archived here, and a variety of other new and ongoing series can be accessed and heard, including one, The Wolf Den, which is about the business of podcasting rather than a comedy show per se. Other Earwolf podcasts that have begun in the last several months are the intentionally retro The Apple Sisters, Tig Notaro and friends' low-key philosophical discussion Professor Blastoff, and Bob Ducca's somewhat more hangdog approach to Stuat Smalley-style self-affirmation...along with the catch-all Earwolf Presents.

Dork Forest Radio, Jackie Kashian's formerly lo-fi podcast (on lo-fi BlogTalkRadio) is a charming delving into all kinds of geekery, or what Kashian dubs the Dork Forest. (See also, The Nerdist) Uniquely among these podcasts, when on BlogTalk Radio, there was a live chatroom running alongside the live podcast...Kashian is trying to decide what she'll do about that with the new, undistorted-audio format. Kashian is also probably the most gracious of podcast hosts, though unafraid of asking, usually politely and/or self-deprecatingly, hard questions.

Doug Loves Movies, Doug Benson's gameshow/interview podcast, the game usually all about trying to guess a movie title with as few clues as possible from Leonard Maltin's film-guides. Benson also usually has a few words to say about recent viewing experiences, and the guests are usually a mix of comedians, actors (Elisabeth Shue confirmed your suspicions about Paul Verhoeven), and occasionally Leonard Maltin.

Girl on Guy, Aisha Tyler's new podcast, is basically a freewheeling interview with the comedian and actress, usually with comedians. As energetic as you might suspect...

Harry Shearer's Le Show sometimes is dismissed or criticized out of hand by folks on some of the podcasts...podcasts that probably wouldn't've existed without the loooong-standing example of Shearer's mix of music, monolog, and sketches (almost always one-person productions in which Shearer does all the voices). Shearer's wife, the excellent jazz-pop singer Judith Owen, is often heard in the musical segments.

The Long Shot, an established but perhaps still underappreciated podcast featuring the disparate quartet of comedians Eddie Pepitone, Sean Conroy, Jamie Flam, and Amber Kenny, who amusingly, acerbically chat, do audio sketches, and feature disparate that guest Tig Notaro asked them, "How do you all even know each other?"

The Mental Illness Happy Hour, Paul Gilmartin's relatively new interview program, has now fixed its RSS feed, and is an earnest, but not completely grim by any means, listening experience...the iTunes link is in for those who do Apple.

The Nerdist podcast, a key component of the larger, features a crew spearheaded by Chris Hardwick, whose credits run from standup to cohosting Wired Science on PBS; he's most regularly visible on G4, and he and his partners, or he alone, interview a range of guests only slightly less wide-ranging than Jackie Kashian (see The Dork Forest). Hardwick in one episode railed against those who criticize him for kissing his guests' asses, correctly noting that what could be cynically (if unsurprisingly) misconstrued thus is his genuine enthusiasm for speaking with the guests, riffing cheerfully, and generally trying to share his passions. A video version of this series will begin on cable channel BBC America soon...and this site has been as busy as Earwolf in adding new podcasts to its ranks, including The Indoor Kids (dealing mostly with electronic gaming and related matters), Sex Nerd Sandra, Sandra Daugherty's sex-ed podcast (perhaps the furthest from pure comedy, while still funny and charming), and Making It with Riki Lindhome, which despite the potentially most-enticing interpretation of that title is an interview series wherein guests tell how they've achieved what they have in their careers in the arts. The Todd Glass Show is a new project by an old podcaster, the former co-host of Comedy and Everything Else, and perhaps the most soundscape-exploratory of the podcasts cited here.

Never Not Funny, Jimmy Pardo's podcast, usually featuring Matt Belknap, the proprietor of A Special Thing, and one of the oldest of the continuing series (with Kashian's Dork Forest). The link is to the free feed, as NNF offers a free first twenty or so minutes as an enticement, then offers the rest of a given episode only to paying subscribers...Pardo's mock aggression, almost always immediately self-deflated, mixes well with his energetic, slightly retro persona. This has a spinoff podcast, conducted by frequent guest Pat Francis, Rock Solid.

The Pod F. Tomcast, Paul F. Tompkins's elaborate performance and interview podcast, is as distinctive as his performances tend to be.

Pop My Culture is duo of young actor/comedians, Vanessa Ragland and Cole Stratton, doing interviews and related matter with an an eclectic set of performers and others in and around, well, pop culture, usually at the comedic end...

The Smartest Man in the World, Greg Proops's nightclub-based podcast, appears irregularly, and can be somewhat in and out...but is always worth the listen.

The Sound of Young America, etc.: gets one podcasts of TSOYA elements and also the more informal and uncensored Jordan, Jesse, Go! among other bits and pieces, including John Hodgman's longrunning Judge John Hodgman moot court, the Canadian Stop Podcasting Yourself and the college-station years of TSOYA, and archival bits from San Francisco legends Mal Sharpe and James Coyle. Colin Marshall's text reviews of podcasts are wide-ranging and thoughtful, as well as frequently funny.

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me..., NPR's primary humor series (unless we consider Car Talk also primarily a humor series), remains a pleasant and frequently hilarious news-quiz game show, with comedians and writers competing for meaningless points, and guests competing on behalf of audience members. The comparable PRI series Whad'Ya Know?, features a somewhat more rambling style and fewer guests in the gameshow seqments, though also features a fine jazz combo. CBC's comedy and whimsy series Wiretap also gets a fair amount of clearance in the States...and averages perhaps a bit better in that wise than such more popular US series A Prairie Home Companion or This American Life. I'll put in a plug here for the not quite primarily humorous series On the Media and pop-science series RadioLab. Just a notch below these is Studio 360.

Weezy and the Swish is the only "dead" podcast that I list here (at least so far), Louise Palanker and Laura Swisher's project, one of the earlier comedian podcasts, and still one of the few not hosted mostly and entirely by Caucasian men. A smattering of their episodes archived here.

WTF, the Marc Maron podcast, one of the most attention-getting as Maron probes himself and his guests usually a bit more relentlessly, yet for the most part professionally (Maron's experience on Air America and with BreakRoom Live tells) than most of his peers. A mixture of usually one-on-one interviews interspersed with a sporadic set of talk-show-style multi-guest live episodes, both eminently worth catching. Public radio stations will have access to a short series extracted from this series, from PRX, the Public Radio Exchange (not to be confused with PRI, PRX is the rising distributor which was kind enough to take on Sound Opinions, the inept Chicago-based rock music-discussion series which PRI dropped, along with such better work as The Moth).

...and for more pointers to comedy audio and more, see Punchline magazine online...

Friday, August 26, 2011

FFM: EPOCH, Fall 1955; ELLERY QUEEN'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE (and F&SF), September 1955

I mentioned in an FFB post a few weeks back*** that I'd recently purchased a short stack of Epoch, the Cornell-based literary magazine that in its first, Fall 1947 issue featured a short story by young lion Ray Bradbury and poems by old lion e. e. cummings and early-middle-years lion John Ciardi, and while I didn't have that issue nor the one with Joyce Carol Oates's, well, epochal "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?", I did have the Fall 1955 (8th anniversary) issue with two poems by the late Joanna Russ, who would've been 18 at time of publication and probably newly matriculated. The issue also featured a short story by R. V. Cassill and a poem by Lysander Kemp, and these along with the Russ poems might've been just as much at home on the contents page of EQMM's sister magazine The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, though the Philip Roth short story in the same issue (which Barry Malzberg advises me was his first to be published) might push the TOC in a more Partisan Review direction; scientist-poet Theodore Melnechuk pushes it back a little.

Meanwhile, in this, the 70th anniversary year of publication for Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, it only seemed fitting to take up the 14th anniversary issue, September 1955, as close as they could get to accuracy given that the first issue was dated Fall 1941. (The editorial half of "Ellery Queen," Frederic Dannay, or perhaps someone else high up on staff, decided to fudge it inside the magazine, at least, and call this issue, erroneously, the 15th anniversary.)

So, these two would've been on better newsstands at about the same time, with EQMM running 35c a copy and Epoch 75c.

As Douglas Greene indexed the issue for the FictionMags Index:

Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine (Including Black Mask Magazine) [v 26 #3, No. 142, September 1955] ed. Ellery Queen (Mercury Publications, 35¢, 144pp, digest s/b, cover by George Salter) Managing editor Robert P. Mills. "15th Anniversary issue." [sic]

3 · For Men Only [Insp. Kyle] · Roy Vickers · nv; continued on p. 125.
22 · Murder at the Poe Shrine · Nedra Tyre · ss
35 · The Most Exciting Show in Town · Cornell Woolrich · nv Detective Fiction Weekly May 16 1936, as “Double Feature”; In EQMM’s Black Mask Magazine section.
50 · Turtle Race · Paul W. Fairman · ss; In EQMM’s Black Mask Magazine section.
60 · Star Witness · Allan Vaughan Elston · ss Dime Detective Magazine Aug 1 1934; The American Magazine, May 1952, as “Caballero Alegre”.
70 · The Devil and Mr. Wooller · R. J. Tilley · ss; Department of “First Stories”.
77 · Double Your Money [Ellery Queen] · Ellery Queen · ss This Week Sep 30 1951, as “The Vanishing Wizard”; collected in Queen’s Q.B.I.: Queen’s Bureau of Investigation (Little, Brown, 1954).
83 · What Did Poor Brown Do · Mark Twain · ex (r); from chapter II of Following the Equator.
90 · A Very Odd Case Indeed [John Appleby] · Michael Innes · vi (r); Probably from The Evening Standard.
93 · The Man Who Made People Mad · Mark Van Doren · ss
105 · Killers Three: (3) First Time Machine · Fredric Brown · vi; The title in the TOC is “The First Time Machine”.
106 · EQMM’s Detective Directory · Robert P. Mills · br
108 · Dead Pigeon · Jules Archer · vi Esquire Dec 1951
111 · The Splinter · Mary Roberts Rinehart · ss

A fairly typical mix of reprints and new fiction for EQMM in those years, with its "Black Mask" section (a feature recently revived after some decades' absence in the magazine) populated by a Woolrich reprint and a Paul Fairman original, with accompanying note that fudges Fairman's career history a bit as well, soft-pedaling his work with Howard Browne at the Ziff-Davis pulp and digest magazines and omitting his very short tenure as the founding editor of If, the sf magazine Fairman did his best to make a weak echo of Browne's Amazing...which by 1955, Fairman would be editing, along with its companion Fantastic, as almost inarguably the worst editor of either. In the late 1950s, Fairman would serve for some years as Managing Editor of EQMM, as well.

Fredric Brown's vignette, the third in a sequence that year, "Killers 3," "The First Time Machine," is indicative of Dannay's fondness for the fantasticated crime story, mixed in with the contemporary and historical items; he would publish horror fiction from time to time, as well. The Tyre and the Twain are charming.

The Epoch issue runs thus:

Epoch [v. VII, #1, Fall 1955] edited by Baxter Hathaway, Morris Bishop, Carl Hartman, Robert O. Brown, Hazard Adams, Herbert Goldstone, and Bruce R. Park. "Non-Resident": John A. Sessions and Harvey Shapiro; Asssitant Editors: Steven Katz, Barbara D. Long, Ronald Sukenick and Nina Zippin. (Epoch Associates, publishers; quarterly; $3/year; approx. 8.5 x 5.5"; 64pp plus covers).

3· When Old Age Shall This Generation Waste · R.V. Cassill· ss
20· Savors · T. Melnechuk · pm
21· False Autumn · Rosanne Smith-Robinson · ss
33· Tenebrae: Seven Variations · Frederick Eckman · pm
35· Two Poems · Joanna Russ · pm
· Botanical Gardens · pm
· A La Mode · pm
36· Where the Tiger Walks · Chris Bjerknes · pm
37· The Contest for Aaron Gold · Philip Roth · ss
51· Orpheus Again · Lysander Kemp · pm
53· Sing, and Singing Praise · Peter Cohen · pm
54· Two Poems · Richard Hugo · pm
· Anti-Social Easter · pm
· The Gull Hardly Explained · pm
55· War in the Pacific · Bruce Cutler · pm
60· Notes, Reviews, Speculations · Anon. · ed

The Cassill is a fine representation of the more cosmopolitan society of the mid-'50s, and how said folks had to tread carefully among the louts so easily stirred up all around them (among other points about the Literary Scene in NYC at that time); the Russ poems are very promising, the Melnechuck poem very clever in its cummings-esque usage of typography for multiple layers of meaning. The Roth story is decent early work, rather more sentimental than he was later likely to indulge in.

Meanwhile, the September issue of F&SF, arguably its sixth anniversary issue, featured (as per ISFDb)--edited by Anthony Boucher; cover by Chesley Bonestell (Vol 9, No 3, Whole No 52 ". . . Nearly in the Usual Manner" is an anecdote about Robert Fulton from "Temple of Reason"; it was contributed by Rita Gottesman.):

3 • The Man Who Cried "Sheep!" • novelette by J. T. McIntosh
32 • ". . . Nearly in the Usual Manner" • (1801) • (filler) essay by uncredited
33 • The Fourth Man • (1933) • short story by Agatha Christie
47 • The Science Screen • reviews by Charles Beaumont
52 • Personal Monster • short story by Margaret St. Clair [as by Idris Seabright]
63 • Too Many Bears • (1949) • short story by Eric St. Clair
68 • Old Story • short story by Ward Moore
83 • The Music on the Hill • (1911) • short story by Saki
88 • Recommended Reading • reviews by Anthony Boucher
93 • Rudolph • (1954) • short story by Thyra Samter Winslow
99 • Pottage • [The People] • novelette by Zenna Henderson
127 • Too Far • vignette by Fredric Brown

--the Saki being another of his most telling horror stories, the Henderson a key story in her "the People" series, the St. Clairs fine examples of what they could do, and the Brown one of the best recomplicated punning vignettes I can recall reading.

So, that would've been a good month...

***I'd mentioned this in the FFB post noting Carol Emshwiller's retrospective collection, and yesterday this news about Emshwiller, from her son, Stony, on FaceBook:

My 90-year-old mom, Carol Emshwiller, had a "cardiac event" (which
apparently is, to a "heart attack," what "breaking wind" is to "farting").
She's doing okay, thankfully. Since she's a life-long atheist (second
generation), asking for your prayers would no doubt piss her off royally. So
instead I'll ask you to track down one of her stories or books on-line (or
even in a bookstore) and give a few lines (or more) a read. She's awesome.

Get well soon, Mom!

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

Thursday, August 25, 2011

August's "Forgotten" Music: WHERE THE ACTION IS: Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968

I've been flensing the carcass of the most convenient Borders, and just bought this last night for slightly less than you can get it from an Amazon vendor, at least...there aren't Too many collections that range quite as widely over a pop landscape, even given how many of the just-out-of-the-garage bands, when they were, sound alike on disc two. Meanwhile, while it was unnecessary to offer all the recordings in mono (a common complaint about this package), as opposed to most which were recorded only in mono, and the sleeves for the discs are less than optimal for protection, this does give a sense of the "scene" in those years, as well as offering a decent selection of orphaned or otherwise rare, if this music is of interest, here's an opportunity to find The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band cheek by jowl with the Bobby Fuller Four...and, happily, that's not the 1980s Knack, below. But, yes, that Kim Fowley. (Somehow, I thought Spirit was a San Francisco band...seems more fitting, somehow.) For that matter, it's a pretty rare album which features both Beefheart and the Magic Band and the Mamas and Papas...though the lack of The Mothers of Invention is another flaw (I can only imagine there was some intransigence on the part of the copyright holders)...

Track Listings
Disc: 1
1. Riot On Sunset Strip (The Standells)
2. You Movin' (The Byrds)
3. You I'll Be Following (Love)
4. Dr. Stone (The Leaves)
5. Go And Say Goodbye (Buffalo Springfield)
6. Zig Zag Wanderer (Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band)
7. Gentle As It May Seem (Iron Butterfly)
8. Candy Cane Madness (Lowell George & The Factory)
9. If You Want This Love (The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band)
10. Baby, My Heart (The Bobby Fuller Four)
11. All Night Long (The Palace Guard)
12. It's Gonna Rain (Sonny & Cher)
13. For My Own (The Guilloteens)
14. Take A Giant Step (The Rising Sons)
15. One Too Many Mornings (The Association)
16. Time Waits For No One (The Knack)
17. Take It As It Comes (The Doors)
18. Pulsating Dream (Kaleidoscope)
19. Tripmaker (The Seeds)
20. The People In Me (The Music Machine)
21. Saturday's Son (The Sons Of Adam)
22. Eventually (The Peanut Butter Conspiracy)
23. Swim (Penny Arkade)
24. The Third Eye (The Joint Effort)
25. Girl In Your Eye (Spirit)

Disc: 2
1. Jump, Jive & Harmonize (Thee Midniters)
2. Back Up (The Light)
3. To Die Alone (The Bush)
4. Get On This Plane (The Premiers)
5. Little Girl, Little Boy (The Odyssey)
6. Hideaway (The Electric Prunes)
7. Listen, Listen! (The Merry-Go-Round)
8. She Done Moved (The Spats)
9. Grim Reaper Of Love (The Turtles)
10. See If I Care (Ken & The Fourth Dimension)
11. He's Not There Anymore (The Chymes)
12. Back Seat '38 Dodge (Opus 1)
13. Eternal Prison (The Humane Society)
14. Revenge (The Others)
15. Come Alive (Things To Come)
16. Acid Head (The Velvet Illusions)
17. Guaranteed Love (Limey & The Yanks)
18. Love's The Thing (The Romancers, aka The Smoke Rings)
19. Underground Lady (Kim Fowley)
20. Pretty Little Thing (The Deepest Blue)
21. You're Wishin' I Was Someone Else (The Whatt Four)
22. Hippy Elevator Operator (The W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band)
23. That's For Sure (The Mustangs)
24. Tomorrow's Girl (Fapardokly)(Merrell & The Exiles)
25. Everything's There (The Hysterics)
26. Our Time Is Running Out (The Yellow Payges)

Disc: 3
1. Action, Action, Action (Keith Allison)
2. The Rebel Kind (Dino, Desi & Billy)
3. High On Love (The Knickerbockers)
4. Fan Tan (Jan & Dean)
5. Halloween Mary (P.F. Sloan)
6. Somebody Groovy (The Mamas & The Papas)
7. Daydreaming (Thorinshield)
8. Just Can't Wait (The Full Treatment)
9. Yellow Balloon (The Yellow Balloon)
10. The Times To Come (London Phogg)
11. No More Running Around (The Lamp Of Childhood)
12. Little Girl Lost-And-Found (The Garden Club)
13. Mothers And Fathers (The Moon)
14. My Girlfriend Is A Witch (October Country)
15. Montage Mirror (Roger Nichols Trio)
16. Flower Eyes (Pasternak Progress)
17. Come Down (The Common Cold)
18. Jill (Gary Lewis & The Playboys)
19. Daily Nightly (The Monkees)
20. Night Time Girl (Modern Folk Quintet)
21. Don't Say No (The Oracle)
22. Tin Angel (Will You Ever Come Down) (Hearts And Flowers)
23. Rainbow Woman (Lee Hazlewood)
24. Poor Old Organ Grinder (Pleasure featuring Billy Elder)
25. Baby, Please Don't Go (The Ballroom)

Disc: 4
1. Sit Down I Think I Love You (Stephen Stills & Richie Furay)
2. Splendor In The Grass (Jackie DeShannon with The Byrds)
3. November Night (Peter Fonda)
4. Roses And Rainbows (Danny Hutton)
5. Lemon Chimes (The Dillards)
6. Here's Today (The Rose Garden)
7. I Love How You Love Me (Nino Tempo & April Stevens)
8. Words (Demo) (Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart)
9. (You Used To) Ride So High (The Motorcycle Abeline)(Warren Zevon & Bones Howe)
10. Life Is A Dream (Noel Harrison)
11. Los Angeles (Gene Clark)
12. Once Upon A Time (Tim Buckley)
13. Darlin' You Can Count On Me (The Everpresent Fullness)
14. I'll Search The Sky (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band)
15. Come To The Sunshine (Van Dyke Parks)
16. Heroes And Villains (Alternate Take) (The Beach Boys)
17. She Sang Hymns Out Of Tune (Jesse Lee Kincaid)
18. Sister Marie (Nilsson)
19. Last Night I Had A Dream (Single Version) (Randy Newman)
20. I Think I Love You (Del Shannon)
21. Change Is Now (The Byrds)
22. The Truth Is Not Real (Single Version) (Sagittarius)
23. Marshmallow Skies (Rick Nelson)
24. You Set The Scene (Love)
25. Inner-Manipulations (Barry McGuire)

Please see Scott Parker's blog for links to other music choices for this month...though a few need to be focused a bit (you'll have to dig into Bill Crider's busy blog for his entry, for example).

Friday, August 19, 2011

FFB: the critical legacy of the Futurians...

Frederik Pohl is credited with getting it all going, sort of. He was the young editor of Astonishing Stories and Super-Science Stories, nineteen when he started in 1940. His magazines were published by the discount line, "Fictioneers," of the Popular Publications pulp he was getting less per week than the lowest-paid secretaries at Popular, and was expected to write for his own magazines. One way he did so was in writing book reviews...and, unusually for the pulps, he took his best shot at applying technical literary criticism to the books under discussion. Slightly younger member of the NYC-based sf-fannish group the Futurians (which included Pohl) Damon Knight took that as his model, for his reviews in fanzines and then for reviews in professional sf magazines, and so did James Blish, who chose to write his criticism under the pseudonym William Atheling, Jr. (after Ezra Pound's use of "William Atheling" for his own critical its turn a reference to an historical figure among English royalty).

Donald Wollheim, one of the few members of the Futurians (slightly) older than Pohl (and the primary rival of Pohl's in the factionalism that developed in the Futurian Society) had published before Pohl, but became an editor afterward, and for an even less-well-bankrolled publisher...and his critical writing was somewhat less prominently published, as he focused on his editorial and publishing career. For that matter, Pohl never published a volume of critical writing, while Wollheim restricted himself to the survey The Universe Makers, a chatty review of broad themes published in 1971. Pohl has contributed to various anthologies of critical writing over the years, such as those edited by R. Bretnor, and had a column, "Pohlemic," devoted to criticism of literature among many other things as they occurred to him in the magazine Algol, later Starship, in the 1970s.

But Knight and Blish published books of their critical writing early on, Knight winning the first Hugo Award for nonfiction with the 1956 first edition of his In Search of Wonder, and Blish as Atheling, Jr. following up in 1964 with the first of what would eventually be three volumes of his collected critical writings, The Issue at Hand, both these volumes published by the small house devoted to sf criticism and historical writing, Advent: Publishers.

Advent is for the most part sustained these days by the NESFA Press, the New England SF Society imprint that grew out of the MIT-based fan group responsible for a wide range of Boston-area fannish activity, including the Boskone conventions, and the books in tribute to Boskone guests. Thus a relatively early NESFA Press publication, collecting the historical and critical essays of the third magazine editor to come out of the Futurians, Robert A. W. Lowndes, who published the contents of his The Three Faces of Science Fiction as editorials in his 1960s magazine Famous Science Fiction; despite some impressive reprints and new fiction in that Very low-budget magazine, Lowndes's essays were often the highlights of a given issue.

So...amidst a slow trickle, at first, of critical and historical works about sf beginning to appear in boards, beginning with Lloyd Arthur Eshbach's anthology of essays Of Worlds Beyond and J. O. Bailey's augmented PhD thesis Pilgrims in Time and Space in 1947, about half up through the early '70s had come from the ex-Futurians noted here...and these were among the most important books of my early reading...along with autobiographical and biographical works that these folks, and such fellow ex-Futurians as Judith Merril and Dave Kyle, would write and have published (most in the 1970s), along with those who were influenced heavily by the work of these folks (including Joanna Russ, to some extent Ursula K. Le Guin, Barry Malzberg, Robert Silverberg, Brian Aldiss and particularly Algis Budrys, all of whom produced their own collections of critical writings that have been covered by others and/or myself in this series of FFB posts). As Budrys would note in the 1970s, Blish brought a better literary (and, as a student of music and Shaw's criticism, critical) education to the task, but Knight was even better at stating clearly and forcefully his technical and other sorts of assessment of a given work. All, however, are valuable, particularly when compared to such lesser work in the same vein as that offered by Sam Lundwall and Alexei Panshin, among many others who followed the pioneers...or Sam Moskowitz, who attempted to do important work contemporaneously with these folks, and sometimes did so well, but usually didn't.

For more, and probably more amusing and fully-realized, examples of today's choices of books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

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

Youthquaking seems to be the not quite overwhelming accidental theme this week...given that I've just seen most of the inept Skidoo (which Chuck Esola, unfortunately absent this week due to even more unfortunate family matters, and best of luck to everyone, reviewed here), I can sympathize. As always, thanks to all the contributors and to you who are reading these...if you'd like to join in, please let me know in comments (and please don't be shy about leaving comments on the individual critiques/reports/citations!).

Allan Mott: Invasion of the Bee Girls

Bill Crider: The Young Rebels

Brian Arnold: 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee

Ed Gorman: The Many Loves of Dobie Gills

Evan Lewis: The Outlaw (1943)

George Kelley: The Pink Panther Classic Cartoon Collection

Iba Dawson: Conversations with Other Women

James Reasoner: "Yak's Last Ride"

Mike Tooney: Perry Mason: "The Case of the Bogus Books" (1962)

Patti Abbott: Traverse City Film Festival 2011

Randy Johnson: The Mummy (1932) and its Universal sequels

Ron Scheer: Crossfire Trail

Scott Cupp: Jack the Giant Killer (1962)

Stephen Gallagher: A Hero's Journey (2011)

Steve Lewis: Dramatic School; Night of the Quarter Moon

Tise Vahimagi: Prime Time Suspects: Theater of Crime (UK)

Walter Albert: The Smiling Ghost

Yvette Banek: Love Field

Related Matters:

Charlie Stella: The Rite, etc.

Michael Shonk: The Hour

Paul Bishop: Take the Money and Run (2011)

Yvette Banek: Happy Birthday, Alfred Hitchcock!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday's "Forgotten" Books: the links (plus one more)

Patti Abbott is on the road, so I'm filling in this week. Look back to Pattinase next week for the next list of links.

Yvette Banek: The Robot Book by Robert Malone (with Seymour Chwast)

Paul Bishop: Bullet Hole by Keith Miles

Bill Crider: Happy New Year, Herbie and Other Stories by Evan Hunter

Scott Cupp: Science Made Stupid by Tom Weller

William F. Deeck: Murder Rehearsal by Roger East

Loren Eaton: The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis

Barry Ergang (at Kevin Tipple's blog): The Last Best Hope by Ed McBain

Cullen Gallagher: the Guild series by Ed Gorman: Guild; Death Ground; Blood Game; "Guild and the Indian Woman"; Dark Trail

Barry Gardner: You Can Die Trying by Gar Anthony Haywood; The Man with No Time by Timothy Hallinan

Jerry House: Mr. Fox and Other Feral Tales by Norman Partridge

Dorte Jakobsen: The Last Place by Laura Lippman

Randy Johnson: Mordred by John Eric Holmes, from outline by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (an authorized sequel to the novel which introduced "Buck" Rogers)

George Kelley: One Night Stands and Long Weekends by Lawrence Block

Rob Kitchin: The Whispers of Nemesis by Anne Zouroudi

K. A. Laity: Tales from Moomin Valley by Tove Jansson

B. V. Lawson: The Oxford Book of American Detective Stories edited by Tony Hillerman and Rosemary Herbert

Doug Levin: Dead Skip by Joe Gores

Evan Lewis: The Mark of Zorro by Johnston McCulley

Todd Mason: The Best of Saki edited by Graham Greene; Theories of Everything: Cartoons by Roz Chast 1978-2006 (see below***)

Neer: Murder of a Martinet by ECR Lorac

John F. Norris: The Prisoner (aka Les Louves) by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac

Richard Pangburn: Nightcap by JCS Smith; The Gentlemen's Hour by Don Winslow

James Reasoner: Too Hot to Hold by Day Keene

Karyn Reeves: Fontamara by Ignazio Silone

Richard Robinson: The Game by Laurie R. King

Ron Scheer: Lin McLean by Owen Wister

Kerrie Smith: Murder in Advent by David Williams

Dan Stumpf: Lori by Robert Bloch

Jim Winter: Night Shift by Stephen King

Related matters:

Martin Edwards: Enid Schantz, RIP

Frederik Pohl: SF Publishing Through the Ages (with Fred)

***FFBs: The Best of Saki, selected and with an introduction by Graham Greene (Viking, 1961; Penguin, 1977); Theories of Everything: Cartoons by Roz Chast 1978-2006 (Bloomsbury, 2006)

If most people would have a quibble with Graham Greene's slender but rich slice of the collected short fiction of H. H. Munro, it would probably be the absence of "The Interlopers," that deft suspense story (and one that librarians and booksellers, those vanishing breeds, are often quizzed about); if I have another, it would be the similar absence of "Laura." Most of Munro's other most brilliant, usually at least wryly humorous horror and suspense stories are here, from the understandably inevitable "Sredni Vashtar" to the delightful "The Reticence of Lady Anne", and the first two stories I read by Saki/Munro, "The Open Window" and "Gabriel-Earnest"...and I much preferred the latter as a child and still do, though then in part because I wasn't quite sure of the meaning of "romance" in context. Greene selects at least a few stories from each of the Saki collections, leaning most heavily on the third and fourth of the five, and not skipping the purely satirical or nearly so, such as the story-within-the-story of "The Story-Teller"...Munro was very much of the Edwardian school of smartasses that also included such brilliant amphibians in both horror and comedies of manners as E. F. Benson, and was one of the painful losses of the literary world in World War I; Greene, not altogether unfamiliar with work in this mode himself, notes Munro's kinship to such survivors of traumatic childhood as Dickens and Kipling, and also his kinship in wit with Oscar Wilde (and certainly the title story of his last, posthumous collection, "The Toys of Peace," not collected here, is also notable for its somewhat despairing sentimentality, also in common with some of Wilde's late work). While omnibuses of the complete works have been available for some time, this selection makes a fine's also notable that in Munro's short, war-ended career, his one science fiction novel (of two novels published) predicted a future war between Britain and Germany, When William Came.

Roz Chast is probably the best of the New Yorker cartoonists to arise in the latter half-century...clearly influenced by her predecessors in that magazine (David Remnick notes in his introduction that she was particularly drawn to the work of Peter Arno, George Price and, most of all, Charles Addams) and such others as Jules Feiffer and Gahan Wilson, she's a protean talent, and much given to deadpan and the kind of sideways yet intense scrutiny of daily lives that in its turn, I think, has helped inspire such folk as Lynda Barry and Peter Bagge; her early simple gag panels (such as her first New Yorker contributions in '78 reprinted here) soon gave way to often elaborate strips alternating with single-panels that featured her most familiar sorts of characters, who often look hunched and apprehensive at the best of times, and usually for good reason (I don't know how much the underground comix cross-riffed with her work, but she and no few of the artists there developed along similar paths). One of the finest things I've plucked while flensing the most convenient Borders carcass, this one, sadly, has been at least partially remaindered by its look for inexpensive copies wherever dumped books are sold.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the links, including some new links

An unusual number of films this week that I'd been considering reviewing as well, but hadn't gotten around to...and the odd coincidence that both Yvette and Ron, for rather different reasons, both cottoned to the same film independently on the same week. Thanks to all for contributing and reading, as always. If you'd like to join in, please let me know in comments...thanks again.

Bill Crider: Pulp
Brian Arnold: Really Rosie
Chuck Esola: Wolfguy
Eric Anderson: Otoshimono aka Ghost Train
Eric Peterson: Ed's Next Move
Evan Lewis: "Wholly Smoke"
"Mr. Gable": Attack of the Giant Leeches
George Kelley: Auction Kings
Iba Dawson: Night Train to Munich
James Reasoner: The Baron
Jerry House: Zeppelin vs. Pterodactyls
Kate Laity: The School for Scoundrels (1960)
Michael Shonk: Slacker, PI; The Bannen Way; Angel of Death
Patti Abbott: Friendly Persuasion
Randy Johnson: Black Sabbath (aka I Tre Volti Della Paura)
Ron Scheer: Yellowstone Kelly (see also: Yvette Banek)
Samuel Wilson: Flaming Star
Scott Cupp: Age of the Dragons [dead link]
Steve Lewis: The Last Musketeer
Tise Vahimagi: "Prime Time Suspects: Theater of Crime"
Todd Mason: Killshot (2008); Intelligence (2005-07)
Walter Albert: Just Off Broadway
Yvette Banek: Yellowstone Kelly (see also: Ron Scheer)

Related matter:Rupert Pupkin: Movie Art (Bill Crider and Brian Arnold need to see Jaws as a Peanuts strip.)

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: KILLSHOT (2008); INTELLIGENCE (2005-2007)

Killshot is an example of what happens when a decent film doesn't have any champions at its studio, which in its turn decides to trust marketing rather than the market. Based on an Elmore Leonard novel I've yet to read, and apparently approved by Leonard in a longer cut than is currently available on cable or on home video, it stars Diane Lane and Thomas Jane as rare survivors of attempts at mayhem on the part of a hitman, played by Mickey Rourke and his new sidekick (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an impetuous punk in all the worst senses. Gordon-Levitt's masochistic girlfriend is played by Rosario Dawson, and one of the targets of Rourke's hits is portrayed by Hal Holbrook...not, on balance, a money-losing cast. The director, John Madden, has done both creditable and profitable work (most obviously British tv crime drama such as Prime Suspect and Inspector Morse, and the film Shakespeare in Love) and the script, good enough certainly even in the current cut-down form, is by Hossein Amini, probably the weakest link here by CV, though this might be his best work...he captures the flavor of Leonard's fiction (again, without my having read this particular novel, the criminals are suitably unpleasantly criminal, and not just lovable wackos or losers who just happen to murder people). But this was apparently one of the aspects that kept this film, which completed shooting in 2006, from being released in any form until late 2008, after one of Harvey Weinstein's famous dithering jobs on it, cutting it over and over, announcing it would go directly to dvd, then setting up a theatrical test-run (they put it in five theaters in Arizona, iirc, for a week), all driven in large part by focus groups who found it difficult to relate to the criminal characters...

It's not, in its severely cut form, a great film, but it's a good and stylish one, which within what's left of its focus deals rather well with the marital problems between Lane and Jane's characters (mainly their pain, doncha know) as well as the continuing attraction between them...and the high price they have to pay for playing along with the authorities' attempts to protect them as witnesses, while also deftly sketching in the ways in which Rourke's hitman sees himself as rather nobler than he has any right to do, and how Gordon-Levitt's desperately inflated self-opinion also causes problems for everyone around him (many reviewers have complained about the over-the-topness of JGL's performance, but I think it a very good embodiment of the type of mean furniture Leonard enjoys offering in his stories). Dawson, as the kind of woman who falls for Bad men, is believable, as is the dialog, and even as presented there are no major threads left hanging. It's worth your attention, and deserved much better treatment than it has received.

As this week has been mostly lost to the grippe, I saw more television per se than I might've otherwise, and thus have made the acquaintance of the CBC series Intelligence, as repeated on the Canadian cable station MAV TV (an analog of the US's young-male-oriented Spike, only with more motorized racing coverage in most dayparts and more Canadian crime drama in the overnights). Producer/creator Chris Haddock, who previously offered Da Vinci's Inquest/Da Vinci City Hall, in this 25-episode, two-season series (not counting the 2005 movie that served as pilot) in 2006-2007, has a nice bit of complexly worked out intrigues, between Klea Scott's director of the British Columbia offices of the (national CSIS) Organized Crime Unit in Vancouver, and her mole and also client for two-way info passage Jimmy Reardon (Ian Tracey, also a regular in Da Vinci), high in the primary (rather improbable) pot but not so much other drugs-trade Organization in Vancouver, and their various underlings and colleagues...Matt Frewer is unsurprisingly present and good as another high-level cop. Oddly enough, despite rather good sales internationally (if not in the US), the CBC apparently wasn't too supportive of this series (which among other things casts a disapproving eye on how US government interests muck about in Canadian affairs) and so it was restricted to two short seasons. Aside from Netflix and MAV, available on Verizon and probably some other US cable systems, I'm not sure this series has been made available to USians in any form, which is a pity. Also not lifechanging, but worth the look.