Friday, September 30, 2011

FFB: WIMMEN'S COMIX #13; TWISTED SISTERS (& TS2) edited by Diane Noomin; CHICKEN FAT by Will Elder

So, having picked up such fairly recent books over the last few weeks as Jules Feiffer's memoir, Backing into Forward (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday--"a division of Random House," still seems so odd), and Lynda Barry's book of inspiration mostly for young adult writers (but for anyone, really, particularly those of us who are fans of her "Ernie Pook's Comeek"), What It Is (Drawn & Quarterly), the earlier influences also come to mind, including the two titles that really sucked me back into reading comics aimed at adults...Love and Rockets, the intertwined comics stories by Jaime, Gilbert and sometimes Mario Hernandez (and now an annual magazine), and the assembled contributors to Wimmen's Comix, not least the 13th issue, from 1988 (courtesy the Women in Comics wikia):

Occult Issue

Editors: Lee Binswanger and Caryn Leschen
Cover by Krystine Kryttre

The Visit by Trina Robbins
Ladies by Carol Tyler
The Magic Lemon by Caryn Leschen
Hoodoo Voodoo by Leslie Ewing
Beyond Reason by Joey Epstein
The Night by Cécilia Capuana
Becoming Normal by Judy Becker
Clair de Lune by Rebecka Wright, Barb Rausch and Angela Bocage
Ella Gets Her Man by Pauline Murray and Suzy Varty
Futures by Angela Bocage
Emil's Cafe by Lee Binswanger
The Dead Girl by William Clark and Mary Fleener
Voodoo Woman by Carel Moiseiwitsch

While Wimmen's Comix was soon to fold (might have just folded as I was catching up with it), other similar projects arose, including one that produced some magazine issues after two popular, now ridiculously out of print anthologies:

Diane Noomin's anthologies, which of course also followed various projects of similar scope (often in magazine form) by the likes of Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Joyce Farmer and Lyn Chevli, and Trina Robbins, were certainly clarion calls, as well as great fun to read. (I've certainly cited the collected work of contributor Mary Fleener in FFBs past. In fact, here's a handy page from her story "The Jelly," collected in Twisted Sisters:)

Another recent purchase really goes back to my initial love of comics, particularly Harvey Kurtzman's Mad, inasmuch as it's a collection of sketches and finished work exploring the processes of Kurtzman's long-term partner (on the Playboy cartoon strip "Little Annie Fanny"), Will Elder. Chicken Fat touches on nearly all Elder's work, from the early art school studies through his solo cartoon work (including his failed pitch for a continuing one-panel in the Charles Addams or "Family Circus" mode, "Adverse Anthony"), including caricature for newsmagazines and ad campaigns, even as a rather small book. Among the more amusing oddities included are the roughs and finished work of illustration for a parody that Playboy published 1960, "Girls for the Slime God," which Cele Goldsmith at Amazing: Fact and Science Fiction commissioned Isaac Asimov to respond to, published in the magazine as "Playboy and the Slime God" and reprinted in his collections as "What Is This Thing Called Love?"--the William Knoles article, the mildly salacious Henry Kuttner pulp stories that had been reprinted in the November 1960 Playboy from the brief experiment in sexed-up sf pulp Marvel Tales, and various explications were much later anthologized by Mike Resnick, with new analysis by Barry Malzberg and others, under the Knoles title (another FFB, if ever there was).

Meanwhile, back to Mad...the latter parody puzzled me slightly as to how to pronounce the title, since I'd only seen the Yiddish word for "thief" (with implication of thug) transliterated as "goniff" previously...

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

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September Music: 3rd Stream Reissues: Brubeck Quartet (+)/The Modern Jazz Quartet/George Russell NY Big Band/Gillespie Orchestra/David Amram &--

I think I've made it clear by now how much I love third stream music...the term Gunther Schuller coined for music which mixes jazz idiom with that of the European court and ceremonial traditions, which almost as soon as it was in print was expanded (certainly in the work of the likes of Randy Weston and Toshiko Akiyoshi) to incorporate other "serious" musics from other ethnic traditions. Third stream music recurs throughout the history of jazz, from the origins involving the "Spanish tinge" (jazz as cousin to tango and, more distantly, milonga and other forms) and classic ragtime even before that (Scott Joplin, James Scott and their colleagues seeking to create a first Truly American classical tradition), and into the New Orleans marching bands and their extensions and Harlem ragtime and its extensions at the turn of the 1900s, through the more ambitious big-band music (Gershwin commissioned, Ellington on his own ticket, and hardly they alone), into the bebop-influenced big bands (the Gillespie Orchestra also cementing Afro-Cuban jazz, the Gil Evans and John Lewis assemblies helping to establish the "cool" approach that owed so much to Beiderbecke and Young but nonetheless, it moved; Dave Brubeck's Octet of jazz-loving classical students among the Left Coast stirrings). George Russell discovering modal improvisation and teaching it to Bill Evans so that he could teach it to the Miles Davis quintet; meanwhile, the free jazz players beginning to find their liberation, and learning (as Ornette Coleman noted) that it was possible to play incorrectly in free jazz...while Sun Ra and company played orchestral R&B in one selection, large-band collective-improvisational free jazz in the next. Ellington most consistently, and probably most ambitiously, pushing his swing orchestra to more and more adventurous music (as well as playing the hits), but from Benny Carter suites for the Count Basie band to Stan Kenton's almost jazzless longform compositions, from the Chico Hamilton and Jimmy Giuffre small groups and the larger ones under the direction of Charles Mingus and eventually John Coltrane, from Max Roach when working in this mode and Lennie Tristano nearly always--and Thelonious Monk nearly always defaulting into this mode by his very nature, there arose the hugely popular quartet, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, and the very popular and even more stable quartet, the Modern Jazz Quartet, and even if there hadn't been support from folks ranging from Eric Dolphy to Ran Blake, from Claude Thornhill to Gerry Mulligan to Cecil Taylor, the two quartets would've made a case for this kind of music to be popular and important (and continued to blaze trails for those who would follow, from Anthony Braxton with his "For Four Orchestras" and Carla Bley to the "chamber jazz" of the '70s). It didn't hurt that Davis wanted to record with the Gil Evans Orchestra, but it might've been even more important that Gillespie wasn't done with his experimentation with jazz orchestral composition, either (and was happy to have his young protege Lalo Schifrin spread his wings), nor was a young magpie classically-trained player, helping to pioneer what was later tagged "world music" as well as working on increasingly adventurous film-soundtrack scoring, David Amram. And George Russell couldn't sit still, composing his own album-length suites and shorter pieces, as organically experimental as Monk and perhaps even more protean.

So, these five albums, not hardly the sum total of the 3rd Stream movement, though one of the best of the Modern Jazz Quartet's albums is Third Stream Music, but these all reissued in the last half-decade or so, or in the case of the Brubeck newly packaged and released this month, the Russell as part of a set devoted to his complete recordings for the 1970s label Black Saint/Soul Note, including no fewer than three albums devoted largely or entirely to Russell's "Electronic Sonata for Souls Loved by Nature," probably still the best composition of its sort (electronic third stream music, of course). Ridiculously, the best of Russell's 1970s albums, Living Time, attributed to featured soloist Bill Evans the way Gil Evans's albums were to Davis, remains out of print...but at least the New York Big Band album features a good, not quite as good, reading of the longest segment of the "Living Time" suite, "Event V" among other works, including a reading of his first professional work, for the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra of the mid 1940s, "Cubano Be/Cubano Bop"...and a version of Billie Holiday's "God Bless the Child." Though perhaps the new listener should start with the Russell "Smalltet" (with Bill Evans) and their Jazz Workshop album, you can do worse than the NYBB disc. Or almost any of his other albums...but Living Time needs to be back in print.

As noted, Gillespie gave Russell his entre into professional jazz work, and did the same, at least in the States, for Brazilian emigre Lalo Schifrin, not yet a household name for the likes of the theme to Mission: Impossible nor such film soundtracks as that for Bullitt. Schifrin's suite sought to suggest the story of first contact and war and conquest, and the eventual partial (never complete) rapprochement between the nations of the Americas and those who named the continents thus. Shifrin and the orchestra does so brilliantly, and I'm not sure I've heard better playing from Gillespie in any context in that decade (as with the very late Rhymthmstick tour, I think Gillespie always enjoyed being at the head of an orchestra the best, though when playing in a small group, as in the only time I saw him in a "cutting contest" with David Amram, in part...he was rarely a slouch, either.)

David Amram...whether scoring Pull My Daisy, the Kerouac and other Beats film (looks like the Google video play I embedded some time back has been removed, alas, but I hope the copyright holders are at least getting something out of that) or The Manchurian Candidate (the first film adaptation), whether playing European "classical" music or folk tunes from all over, or jazz or some combination of those and more (in that cutting contest with Gillespie, he played French horn to Gillespie's trumpet, pennywhistles to Gillespie's muted trumpet), he is a force for joy and other passions, as well as for global fellow-feeling. It won't surprise you to learn that in person (as after that first Thelonious Monk Memorial Concert in 1987, or writing to this blog a year or so back), he's an utter gentleman, and an often amused and amusing delight. The compositions on the "genre"-busting manifesto that this album is range widely, but are uniformly engaging, energetic...and great fun. Very little, if anything, of the formalist exercise about them...those practice-room walls, like those between "classical" and jazz and folk, come down as well. Bari saxophonist Pepper Adams, as well as Amram, has rarely been been better than he is here.

The Modern Jazz Quartet (for most of its run John Lewis, piano; Milt Jackson, vibraphone; Percy Heath, bass; Connie Kay, percussion) and the Dave Brubeck Quartet (particularly that, from 1957-1966, made up of Paul Desmond, alto sax; Gene Wright, bass; and Joe Morello, percussion), can't be neatly summed up by any single album, which is why such boxed sets as the Mosaic "complete Atlantic studio" MJQ and the DBQ's For All Time cube are so valuable, but the 1960 European Concert album (much later augmented by further recordings from the same tour released after Kay's death as Dedicated to Connie) gives a core sampling of the band's contribution, in 3S and otherwise, much as the third-stream-heavy picking and choosing through Brubeck's career on Columbia/CBS Records and their successors at Sony, while including earlier and later work than the most popular quartet's and some that is less relevant to "classical"/jazz hybrids (because what Brubeck sampler can escape "Take Five" and why not the one recording with Tony Bennett?), nonetheless these, a reissue of the MJQ's double-album that unfortunately edits out Lewis's introductions to some of the tracks (as audible on the LPs) to help fit everything onto one CD, and a sampler that finally(!) puts the entirety of brother Howard Brubeck's composition "Dialogues for Jazz Combo and Orchestra" (as performed by the DBQ and the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Leonard Bernstein) out on cd (only the last movement had been available previously), but also includes the rather weak tea of the orchestral version of "Brandenburg Gate"...better, particularly in the DBQ's performance, than I remembered from the vinyl, but still essentially a "with strings" recording rather than up to "Dialogues" or "Elementals," the earliest Dave Brubeck large-group composition we hear here (along with a movement from Dave Brubeck's much later work for a large group, "Points on Jazz for Two Pianos and Chamber Orchestra"). From Lewis's tribute "Django" and Brubeck's "The Duke" through such brilliant and often overlooked work as Lewis's "The Cylinder" and Brubeck's "Winter Ballad" to the straight-ahead blowing of Milt Jackson's "Bag's Groove" and Brubeck and Charles Mingus's duo improvisation "Non-Sectarian Blues", these are great starting points, and as someone with dozens of albums by the MJQ, the DBQ and their related projects, I've very glad to have them, as well.

Brubeck Quartet and Orchestra: "Elementals"

since this one's decommissioned:from the European Concert album: The Modern Jazz Quartet: "Django"

Here's the MJQ and the Beaux Arts Trio, from the Third Stream Music album of similar vintage:

Dizzy Gillespie and David Amram, et al., at the Thelonious Monk Memorial Concert

George Russell's band featuring Eric Dolphy: "Round Midnight" (since the NYBB isn't poachable)

For more "forgotten" and rediscovered music selections for this month, please see Scott Parker's blog.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A few tv and radio notes...

CBS, having noted that Julianna Margulies is cute, has decided that's how to sell the series this season.
The new season: So, in my less than copious free time, I've managed to catch pieces of, rather than whole episodes of, the new series The Playboy Club, Pan Am, Unforgettable, Person of Interest, the remakes of Charlie's Angels and Prime Suspect. Of these, Prime Suspect was the least inept, but vied with most of the others in ridiculousness...the detectives that Maria Bello's character has to contend with are not just machismic cartoons, they're moreso in 2011 than, say, the early 1970s clowns in the US remake of Life on Mars, where the locker-room antics and inexperience with having to treat women as colleagues at least made a modicum of sense. Bello manages to be as good as possible, if not given much to work with on the home-front, either, dealing with her manfriend's exacting ex-wife. The two historical drama series are clumsy, if well-appointed, attempts (as everyone has noted) to steal Mad Men's low-rated thunder (while adding, say, at least a dash of Las Vegas's mindless cheesecake and "kicks"...and failing to be even as engaging as was that lightweight series of a few seasons back). As I've noted elsewhere, CBS's "midseason" experiment in 2008, Swingtown, which had at least as many roots in the film of The Ice Storm, will probably stand as the least embarrassing of the broadcast nets' MM ripoffs (even given that the All-American protagonists were played by a fine, Canadian Molly Parker and Briton Jack Davenport sporting an inconsistent "Yank" accent that sounded a lot like his fake Australian for an episode of Coupling).

At least The Good Wife seems to be holding up so far.

The only new sitcom I've caught so far is Whitney, the pilot of which was available online in pieces all summer, and which pilot holds together better as a whole, while being only reasonably good-grade mechanical relationship fodder, heightened in the contrived situations by some good acting.

Most notable cognitive dissonance in scheduling: FamilyNet, the more or less conservative evangelical Christian network managed by the younger Robert Schuller (inheritor of the Crystal Cathedral--as of this past summer, both Schullers have left that church, in the midst of hurt feelings and controversy), is trying to snag some of the audience that such new digital broadcast networks as Retro TV, This TV, Me TV, and Antenna TV have been racking up with somewhat engaging collections of repeats and films...FamilyNet has turned much of its primetime over to, of all series, Lou Grant, cancelled by CBS mostly to make the Reagan Administration happy all those years ago. The Xiancaster also is now willing to run such films as The French Connection...with the dialog they and their audience might find offensive the case of that film, about a third of the soundtrack was blanked out.

Tales well calculated to keep you in...anomie (or Anxiety, as Bob and Ray had it): The very late (1962) episode of Suspense on WAMU's The Big Broadcast on Sunday, #925 "Hide & Seek," from just before the end of its CBS Radio run, was remarkably bleak, even in its brevity (by then, the episodes ran 23 minutes to accommodate network news on the hour as well as commercials), about medium Manhunt won't live forever in the history of drama, but it's definitely worth a listen, in a good set that also includes John Wayne and Ward Bond in an adaptation of "Fort Apache" and Bogart with Greer Garson in a Lux Radio Theater version of "The African Queen"...and the usual Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, Dragnet, and Gunsmoke episodes.

Commuter's grouse: Why might the local NPR and CBS radio stations' traffic reporters, and even NavTeq's relatively new digital broadcast television service devoted to traffic coverage, choose to refer to traffic moving at about a literal 2MPH (or less, for long stretches) as Slow? Slow on a highway is fifteen miles per hour below the speed limit. Standstills are standstills. Parked cars are not moving "slowly." Thus does Andy Rooney instruct you to remove yourself from his grasspatch.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday's Overlooked Film and/or Other A/V: a couple more links yet

Possibly a few more to come...thanks as always to all contributors and readers!

Bill Crider: Heartbreak Hotel (clip)

Brian Arnold: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Dan Stumpf: The Westland Case; The Whip Hand

Evan Lewis: The Lady in the Morgue

Iba Dawson: Boomerang (1947)

Ivan G. Shreve: "Double Time" (The Joey Bishop Show)

Jaime Weinman: the "revised" Porgy and Bess

James Reasoner: "T is for Toga!"; The Late Show

Jerry House: The Golem (1920, with fragments of the 1915 version)

Juri Nummelin: Weeds (1987)

Kate Laity: Newgrange

Marty McKee: Trancers

Michael Shonk: Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?

Patti Abbott: Blackmail (1929; silent)

Pearce Duncan: The Hole; Drive-In Delirium

Priscilla Peterson: Tender Mercies

Randy Johnson: Django Strikes Again

Ron Scheer: The Hired Hand

Scott Cupp: The Last Wave

Stacia Jones: Big Trouble (1986)

Steve Lewis: Rogues' Regiment; La bandera (aka Escape from Yesterday)

Todd Mason: "Munro" (and Little Murders)(see below)

Walter Albert: Tall, Dark and Handsome

Yvette Banek: One Potato, Two Potato

Related matters:

Brent McKee: TV series/season debuts

Ed Gorman: Boardwalk Empire and The Office

Iba Dawson: Posters v. Movies

Jake Hinkson: Higher Ground

Stephen Gallagher, on tv writing in the UK

MUNRO...a cartoon by Jules Feiffer

I'm always impressed by what others have managed to miss altogether (and what I have, as well), particularly when it's been a part of my cultural surround for decades (and theirs), since I'm currently reading Jules Feiffer's memoir Backing into Forward, I thought I'd mention this short film, which was based on his first long-form comics work which wasn't a story for The Spirit (as the young Feiffer was a scripter as well as jack of all trades in the Will Eisner studios for several years before being drafted during the Korean War; "Munro" was also his first major artistic response to his draftee service).

The short animated version, which is very faithful to Feiffer's graphic short story (rather than graphic novel), won an Oscar, and Howard Morris certain does a good job with his voices. (Feiffer found "Munro" essentially impossible to sell, so it didn't see print till after his "Sick, Sick, Sick" strip started appearing in The Village Voice, in the collection of graphic short stories, Passionella and Other Stories (1959), was animated and released in '60 and was Oscar'd in '61. (Doubleclick on these YT windows to get the less-encumbered image.)

Of course, such later Feiffer plays as Little Murders and Carnal Knowledge were later to make an even bigger cinematic splash, but I'm not sure they're superior, even as much as I've enjoyed them (and the absurdly vicious Little Murders is in some ways more enjoyable than the petty uglinesses of Carnal Knowledge).

(For its part, Little Murders is apparently out of print on dvd, and has some ridiculous asking prices up on the obvious here's an in-pieces YT posting:)

Carnal Knowledge is much more readily available. But, if you haven't yet, try "Munro" and perhaps one of the several collections of Feiffer cartoons, or his The Great Comic Book Heroes, that Fantagraphics has out (I recommended Explainers some time back)...and the memoir is pretty interesting, as well...

--Todd Mason

Friday, September 23, 2011

FFB: THE WORLD FANTASY AWARDS, Volume Two, edited by Fritz Leiber and Stuart David Schiff (Doubleday, 1980)

courtesy the Contento index:

The World Fantasy Awards Volume Two ed. Stuart David Schiff & Fritz Leiber (Doubleday 0-385-15380-5, 1980, $10.95, 224pp, hc) Cover painting by Roger Dean.

· Preface · Stuart David Schiff · pr
· Introduction: Terror, Mystery, Wonder · Fritz Leiber · in
· The Whimper of Whipped Dogs · Harlan Ellison · ss Bad Moon Rising, ed. Thomas M. Disch, Harper & Row, 1973
· Jerusalem’s Lot · Stephen King · nv Night Shift, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1978
· The October Game · Ray Bradbury · ss Weird Tales Mar ’48; AHMM Jun ’57
· Smoke Ghost · Fritz Leiber · ss Unknown Oct ’41
· Belsen Express · Fritz Leiber · ss The Second Book of Fritz Leiber, DAW, 1975
· Special Award: Professional, Donald M. Grant · Misc. · bg
· The King’s Shadow Has No Limits [Dr. Eszterhazy] · Avram Davidson · ss Whispers Dec ’75
· The Ghastly Priest Doth Reign · Manly Wade Wellman · ss F&SF Mar ’75
· A Visitor from Egypt · Frank Belknap Long · ss Weird Tales Sep ’30
· It Only Comes Out at Night · Dennis Etchison · ss Frights, ed. Kirby McCauley, St. Martins, 1976
· The Barrow Troll · David Drake · ss Whispers Dec ’75
· Special Award: Non-Professional, Carcosa · Stuart David Schiff · bg
· Two Suns Setting [Kane] · Karl Edward Wagner · nv Fantastic May ’76
· The Companion · Ramsey Campbell · ss Frights, ed. Kirby McCauley, St. Martins, 1976
· Best Artist: Frank Frazetta · Roger Dean · bg
· There’s a Long, Long Trail A-Winding · Russell Kirk · nv Frights, ed. Kirby McCauley, St. Martins, 1976
· Appendix: World Fantasy Awards 1973-1976 · Misc. · bi

-between pages 106 and 107, two-sided plates of two illustrations each from Tim Kirk and Stephen Fabian are included.

Perhaps even more than the first volume, edited by Gahan Wilson who had also designed the Howard, or HP Lovecraft bust that was the actual physical World Fantasy Award statue, this book is an essential slice through the fantasy field in the 1970s, and reaching forward and backward...though the women are remarkably absent in this volume (Patricia McKillip and Betty Ballantine at least were presences in the first)...except in the not insignificant role of being some of the editors who shepherded the careers of these writers along, and in Jonquil Leiber's case taking the initiative to write first to H. P. Lovecraft, bringing her new husband and his writing partner Harry Fischer to HPL's attention, and all three into the corresponding "Lovecraft Circle." Leiber's introductory essay, which I've reread for the first time in thirty years, notes this in the course of its leisurely, but densely-packed, passage in response to Lovecraft's personal note, criticizing earlier major horror-fiction writers including Poe for not sufficiently engaging the cosmic (Leiber ultimately decides Lovecraft is too sweeping...I should say so). The essay, indeed about "Terror, Mystery, Wonder," also responds to and expands upon "Supernatural Horror in Literature," Lovecraft's hugely influential essay, and particularly adds the actor Leiber's love of fantasy film, particularly that of Ingmar Bergman and Jean Cocteau, to the discussion. I'm going to need to read the essay again, and it by itself would justify the book (or its purchase) even without the often brilliant fiction and fine examples of visual art (and useful reportage about the awards) also offered.

If anything, the fiction selections for this second volume, which was meant (on its oddly delayed basis) to collect and cover the second and third annual Howard awards honorees, are even better than those of the first, including a mix of the winning and nominated short fiction, Stephen King's pendant story to his second novel, and selections from the collections of those who won for those collections or for life achievement; if Whispers magazine, Schiff's baby, and the original anthology Frights, edited by Kirby McCauley, are overrepresented, that is not truly damaging to this book nor the experience of reading it, particularly three decades later (particularly given that Whispers was the best fantasy/horror-fiction magazine of the '70s, Frights one of the best original anthologies); it also doesn't hurt that F&SF, Fantastic and other contemporary sources are represented, as well, and it can probably be forgiven that "The October Game," Bradbury's entry, isn't a fantasy (though a hell of a story, reprinted in the Hitchcock magazine in part because AH wanted to, and was eventually able to, adapt it for his television series). Arguable Spoiler****: Jeff Segal reminds me that the good Drake story, which I haven't yet reread, is also not quite fantasticated as it plays out.

Inasmuch as my copy, just purchased last week for a few dollars (it turns out to have been signed by Bradbury, Etchison and Campbell, in 1988 to judge by Bradbury's signature), was obtained with far greater ease than adolescent I could've found it for sale in 1980 (when I borrowed a public library copy to read it), I'd recommend doing the same...there are worse gifts, as a nice mix of the epochal ("Smoke Ghost") and the utterly brilliant (the Davidson, the Wagner) and the Campbell story King called the best "postwar horror story I have read"...and nobody here not at least trying to swing for the fences.

How casually we can treat our treasures, which, of course, is what FFB and similar projects (such as continuing columns in the fiction magazines F&SF and Tin House) are all about...for more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: one more link added

what I could gather, somehow missing Ron Scheer's till recently, and finally adding my own:

Bill Crider: Fort Ti

Brian Arnold: Homefront (1991-1993)

Chuck Esola: Race with the Devil

Eric Peterson: Scenes from the Goldmine

Evan Lewis: "Injun Trouble"

Iba Dawson: Hot Fuzz

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Brenda Starr, Reporter

James Reasoner: Night Moves

Jerry House: Yancy Derringer

Kate Laity: Hancock's Half Hour

Patti Abbott: The Music of Chance

Randy Johnson: Journey To The Seventh Planet

Ron Scheer: Death of a Gunfighter

Scott Cupp: Drums of Fu Manchu

Stacia Jones: "The Janitor"/Wet Dreams

Steve Lewis: Search and Destroy

Todd Mason: Pat Pauslen for President

Walter Albert: Ladies Should Listen

Yvette Banek: Jane Eyre(s); Susan Slept Here

Related matters:

Elizabeth Foxwell: early journal access from JSTOR

Michael Shonk: Fringe

PAT PAULSEN FOR PRESIDENT: the LP and the video documentary

I've just now finished watching the (slightly blurry) piecemeal entry on YouTube of Pat Paulsen for President, the video version as narrated by Henry Fonda (even if Peter or Jane might've had more sympathy for the cause). This comes some forty years or so after my first listen to the LP version, narrated by Ralph Story, as one of the first two comedy records I heard as a six- or parents had bought a couple of cut-out Mercury label Smothers Brothers records, or so they thought, as they'd picked up the sleeves for Aesop's Fables, the Smothers Brothers Way (a children's album) and Curb Your Tongue, Knave!, one of the SmoBro nightclub albums. But, instead of the latter, the sleeve contained Pat Paulsen for President, which shares with the video version a number of clips from The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and a few others, but unsurprisingly as an audio experience also deviates from the video show; similarly, the video depended largely if not exclusively on being deemed fit for broadcast (whether it was offered to stations as a matter of Equal Time access, I doubt, but it might've), while the LP was allowed to revel even more in Paulsen's willingness to be very politically incorrect from the moderate left, most notably in the track called "Victory Rally," wherein Paulsen begins a speech in his usual hangdog manner, moves quickly through the typical stemwinder approach to lapsing into Hitlerian German for the staged cheers of a large crowd...watching some of his other activities in the video version reminds me how much of Stephen Colbert's act at least draws on and follows in Paulsen's footsteps. With the most significant difference in that Paulsen's persona was of the small-time television-station editorialist uncomfortable in his own skin, but nonetheless driven to make pompous pronouncements that undermined the points the persona was hoping to carry the day with; Colbert's cable pundit is ridiculously smooth and self-confident in his similar ignorance and double-bottomed advocacy. The two productions had most of the same, but by no means identical, production staffs; more writers worked on the LP. The comedian and songwriter ("Mediocre Fred" being a favorite of mine) shines in both, and the nature of his satire, though not unique to himself nor his time nor he the first to mount a satirical campaign (nor to return to run again and again; for that matter, Dick Gregory was the candidate of the New Party in '68), still cut closer to the bone in a more pompous time in dealing with such matters, with possibly greater threats to protesters and dissidents than we see now. The third Best of the Smothers Brothers dvd set includes the video documentary, which is also up, as noted, in segments on YouTube (first segment embedded below) and it's worth your time, particularly as the foolishness around presidential politics no more ceases now than it ever has....

Friday, September 16, 2011

FFB: WORLDS OF IF: A Retrospective Anthology, Pohl, Greenberg & Olander, ed. (Bluejay '86); TQ 20 (TriQuarterly 20 years), Gibbons & Hahn, ed. (Pushcart '85)

Nearly contemporary issues:

Executive summary: 

Two impressive slices through the first two decades of two important, but not always sufficiently respected, fiction magazines. If, aka Worlds of If, ran from 1952-1974, with some weak attempts at revival afterward (at the end of 1974, it was merged into its longterm stablemate Galaxy, which itself staggered into folding and sporadic revival by 1980); even at its weakest points editorially under original publisher James Quinn, If was an elegantly-produced magazine, and while the later publishers at the "Digest Productions"/Guinn/Galaxy group and UPD Publications varied in their investment, it was often striking later as well. TriQuarterly began as a relatively modest physical production, though less so in content, in 1964, had made itself into one of the most visually as well as literarily impressive of little magazines throughout the 1970s thanks to founding editor Charles Newman and successors Elliot Anderson and Robert Onopa, the latter being rewarded by being unceremoniously dumped for daring to treat "popular fiction" as essentially no different from "literary fiction"; TQ never quite recovered its spirit, though it did continue, and is now a webzine.

What's good about these anthologies: Take a quick look at their contents, below. As the material about each magazine in their respective volumes makes clear, the not terribly well-measured consensus view about these two magazines was that they were very well in their way, but not the Serious Contenders that were, say, the hidebound 1969 Analog or The Hudson Review, nor even the resolutely lively contemporary issues of The Paris Review or Galaxy, when If and TQ had also been hitting their very comparable high-quality marks for some years, would continue in If's case till merger in 1975 and in TriQuarterly's case was allowed to continue doing so for another half-decade beyond that year. Again, look below at the evidence. In addition to the good to great fiction in the If volume, you get a plethora of reminiscences by the writers and editors, some taken not long before these folks died or otherwise became incapable of comment (the book was also delayed for several years). The material about the magazine is less generous in the TQ, perhaps in part because the book's editors were also TQ's editors after the shameful putsch in 1980/81, but to help make up for that, the selection of poetry and artwork as well as fiction is even larger.

What's not so great about these anthologies: Don't let your book be the last Bluejay book nor the second Pushcart anthology of material the Pushcart folks didn't shape for themselves...because signs of haste and slipshoddery will be evident all over the productions, beginning with the covers. Both manage to have half-good covers, with some boldish graphics not employed quite properly...clearly the white space in the If was meant to hold some writers' names, and the TQ would work better if the cover gave a legible indication what "TQ" meant...the contributors' names in both cases are almost illegible on the back cover, if the casual browser gets past the front cover. The "If" in the one should've been larger, to resemble the magazine's frequent logo; the spine of the TriQuarterly jacket *doesn't have the title "TQ 20" on it anywhere*. It takes some effort to get much more clumsy than this.

Unfortunately, the bad packaging gives way in the If to some very blatant typos (Charles Beaumont's The Hunger and Other Stories becomes the "Hunter"; the Zelazny here is incorrectly cited as the only story he published in If; there's a more unforgivable one that I'll have to find again--it's Martin Greenberg's contention that Larry Niven was rare in being conversant in both "hard" science fiction and adventure if Poul Anderson and at least arguably Jack Vance and the predominance of the contributors to the magazine Unknown didn't rather roundly contradict that). Perhaps even more of a mixed bag is the uncorrected nature of a number of the memoirs; several contributors, Algis Budrys for one and P.J. Farmer to a gross extent, manage to get historical facts out of order (Budrys misremembers Fairman as the editor after Quinn), but mostly the disagreements between the nonfiction contributors are reasonable disagreements of judgment, and useful assessments. (One which definitely caught my eye detailed editor Larry Shaw's run-ins with Evan Hunter, whom he found unpleasant, not least when Shaw sought to have him correct an error in his famous, overrated story "Malice in Wonderland," and Hunter replied, "Well, it's only science fiction, after all." A kind of irresponsibility I tend to find in all the Hunter [McBain, et al.] fiction I've read.)

The TQ basically reshoots the pages of the magazine for the book; the typefaces are unmistakable, and so any typos in the original magazine run are presumably reproduced here (I haven't spotted any blatant ones yet); and, again, as little as possible is said about the purge of Anderson and Onopa from the magazine; in fact, Onopa is neither reprinted (he contributed interesting fiction, as well) nor mentioned. Very much down the memory hole.

At left, a 1974 issue; below left, one of the last Anderson/Onopa issues, from 1980.

These books are valuable documents, if not quite what they could've been; the magazines treated, as their staffs were, with insufficient respect once again. And, in part as consequence, they are long out of print. But they will reward you if you seek them out, and they won't cost you too much...unless you don't look for the bargains. The better work represented here is even worth a premium price.

Some If covers through the years, below:

Fact (I believe) about If: it employed more book-publisher editors as its editor or associate/assistant editor than any other sf magazine has, before or since: founding editor Paul Fairman might make the weakest link (in several ways!) by being the editor in charge of the Ziff-Davis fiction magazines later when they published the one volume/issue of Amazing Stories Science Fiction Novels, Henry Slesar's novelization of 20 Million Miles to Earth (I wouldn't be surprised if Fairman eventually edited books for others, as well). James Quinn (Handi-Books--or did he not wield an editorial hand there as well as publishing?), Larry Shaw (Lancer Books), Damon Knight (Berkley), H. L. Gold (Galaxy Novels), Frederik Pohl (Ace, Bantam), Judy-Lynn Benjamin/Del Rey and Lester Del Rey (Ballantine/Del Rey), Ejler Jakobsson (Award and other UPD lines), James Baen (Ace, Baen Books) and Jean Marie Stine (Donning/Starblaze Books).

courtesy the Locus Index:
Worlds of If: A Retrospective Anthology ed. Frederik Pohl, Martin H. Greenberg & Joseph D. Olander (Bluejay 0-312-94471-3, Dec ’86, $19.95, 438pp, hc) Anthology of 24 stories. This is the last Bluejay book.

1 · Introduction · Frederik Pohl · in
6 · As If Was in the Beginning · Larry T. Shaw · ar, 1986
19 · Memoir · Philip K. Dick · ms
20 · The Golden Man · Philip K. Dick · nv If Apr ’54
50 · Memoir · Robert Sheckley · ms
51 · The Battle · Robert Sheckley · ss If Sep ’54
57 · Last Rites · Charles Beaumont · ss If Oct ’55
71 · Game Preserve · Rog Phillips · ss If Oct ’57
85 · The Burning of the Brain · Cordwainer Smith · ss If Oct ’58
95 · Memoir · Algis Budrys · ms
103 · The Man Who Tasted Ashes · Algis Budrys · ss If Feb ’59
117 · Memoir · Poul Anderson · ms
119 · Kings Who Die · Poul Anderson · nv If Mar ’62
147 · Memoir · Fred Saberhagen · ms
148 · Fortress Ship [Berserker] · Fred Saberhagen · ss If Jan ’63
158 · Father of the Stars · Frederik Pohl · ss If Nov ’64
177 · Trick or Treaty [Jame Retief] · Keith Laumer · nv If Aug ’65
202 · Memoir · R. A. Lafferty · ms
203 · Nine Hundred Grandmothers · R. A. Lafferty · ss If Feb ’66
214 · Memoir · Larry Niven · ms
216 · Neutron Star [Beowulf Shaeffer] · Larry Niven · nv If Oct ’66
234 · Memoir · Roger Zelazny · ms
235 · This Mortal Mountain · Roger Zelazny · nv If Mar ’67
272 · Memoir · Harlan Ellison · ar *
289 · I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream · Harlan Ellison · ss If Mar ’67
305 · Memoir · Samuel R. Delany · ms
306 · Driftglass · Samuel R. Delany · ss If Jun ’67
324 · Memoir · Isaac Asimov · ms
326 · The Holmes-Ginsbook Device · Isaac Asimov · ss If Dec ’68
336 · Memoir · Philip José Farmer · ms
338 · Down in the Black Gang · Philip José Farmer · nv If Mar ’69
359 · Memoir · Robert Silverberg · ms
361 · The Reality Trip · Robert Silverberg · ss If May ’70
378 · Memoir · James Tiptree, Jr. · ms
379 · The Night-Blooming Saurian · James Tiptree, Jr. · ss If May ’70
385 · Memoir · Theodore Sturgeon · ms
388 · Occam’s Scalpel · Theodore Sturgeon · nv If Aug ’71
409 · Memoir · Clifford D. Simak · ms
410 · Construction Shack · Clifford D. Simak · ss Worlds of If Jan/Feb ’73
424 · Memoir · Craig Kee Strete · ms
427 · Time Deer · Craig Kee Strete · ss Red Planet Earth #4 ’74
433 · Afterword: Flash Point, Middle · Barry N. Malzberg · aw

courtesy WorldCat:
TQ 20 : twenty years of the best contemporary writing and graphics from TriQuarterly magazine
Editors: Reginald Gibbons; Susan Hahn
Publisher: Wainscott, NY : Pushcart Press, ©1985.
Description: 667 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.

Preface/1964-1984 --
Forward / Charles Newman --
Fragments from the unpublished death fantasy sequence of Judgment day / James T. Farrell --
To friends in East and West "A New Year's greeting" / Boris Pasternak --
Three essays / Roland Barthes --
Two stories / Richard Brautigan --
In a hole / George P. Elliott --
Two poems / Anne Sexton --
Why is American poetry culturally deprived? / Kenneth Rexroth --
Storm still / Brock Brower --
TV / Howard Nemerov --
Two essays / E.M. Cioran --
The fly / Miroslav Holub --
Two poems / Vasko Popa --
A damned man / Aleksander Wat --
From the wave / Thom Gunn --
Meeting hall of the Sociedad Anarquista, 1952 / Irving Feldman --
Few things to say / John Frederick Nims --
The town / C.P. Cavafy --
Tuesday siesta / Gabriel García Márquez --
The sea / Jorge Luis Borges --
The doll queen / Carlos Fuentes --
From unusual occupations / Julio Cortázar --
Montesano unvisited / Richard Hugo --
Possibility along a line of difference / A.R. Ammons --
Life / Jean Follain --
Footprints on the glacier / W.S. Merwin --
The Eagle Exterminating Company / James Tate --
The double dream of spring / John Ashbery --
Toward a new program for the university / Christopher Lasch --
Three meetings / Stanley Elkin --
Three / W.S. Merwin --
Pain / Maxine Kumin --
That's what you say, Cesar? / Andrew Glaze --
Enigma for an angel / Joseph Brodsky --
Two poems / Osip Mandelstam --
To Edward dahlberg / Jack Kerouac --
Confessions / Edward Dahlberg --
From The tunnel: why windows are important to me / William H. Gass --
The wheel / Aimé Césaire --
A tale from Lailonia / Leszek Kolakowski --
Men fought / Jorge Luis Borges --
Meredith Dawe / Joyce Carol Oates --
From Ninety-two in the shade / Thomas McGuane --
Torpid smoke / Vladimir Nabokov --
My encounters with Chekhov / Konstantin Korovin --
Commitment without empathy : a writer's notes on politics, theatre and the novel / David Caute --
Human dust / Agnes Denes --
Heart attack / Max Apple --
The reurn of Icarus / David Wagoner --
With Uncle Sam at Burning Tree / Robert Coover --
Gala / Paul West --
The sewing harems / Cynthia Ozick --
Two shoes for one foot / John Hawkes --
Coyote hold a full house in his hand / Leslie Marmon Silko --
Dillinger in Hollywood / John Sayles --
Walking out / David Quammen --
Where is everyone? / Raymond Carver --
Hunters in the snow / Tobias Wolff --
From A flag for sunrise / Robert Stone --
Embryology / Magdalena Abakanowicz --
Going to the dogs / Richard Ford --
Editorial / Reginald Gibbons --
Dear Lydia E. Pinkham / Pamels White Hadas --
Somg of napalm / Bruce Weigl --
Three prose pieces / Stephen Berg --
Had I a hundred mouths / William Goyen --
From Steht noch dahin / Marie Louise Kaschnitz --
Prayer for the dying / Willis Johnson --
Don't they speak jazz? / Michael S. Harper --
Aubade / Roland Flint --
The third count / Andrew Fetler --
In the cemetery where Al Jolson is buried / Amy Hempel --
June harvest / W.S. Di Piero --
Ambush / John Morgan --
Instructions to be left behind / Marvin Bell --
Gill Boy / Dennis Schmitz --
From A minor apocalypse / Tadeusz Konwicki --
The belly of Barbara N. / Wiktor Woroszylski --
Two poems / Stanislaw Baranczak --
Isaac Babel / R.D. Skillings --
The story tellers / Fred Chappell --
Night traffic near Winchester / Dave Smith --
Sweet sixteen lines / Al Young --
Father and son / Morton Marcus --
His happy hour / Alan Shapiro --
The last class / Ellen Bryant Voigt --
Two poems / C.K. Williams --
Recovering / William Goyen --
On welfare / William Wilborn --
Two poems / William Heyen --
The hooded legion / Gerald McCarthy --
Snowy egret / Bruce Weigl --
Three epigrams / Elder Olson --
Interview with Saul Bellow / Rockwell Gray, Harry White and Gerald Nemanic --
Fulfilling the promise / Lisel Mueller --
The Aragon ballroom / John Dickson --
The city / Lorraine Hansberry --
The address / Marga Minco --
Departures / Linda Pastan --
He, she, all of them, ay / John Peck

Every issue of If online at the Internet Archive.
Selected issues of TQ online, most post-putsch.

Brian Lindemuth's Spinetingler magazine blog will be offering the links to other FFBs this week, as Patti Abbott is at BoucherCon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

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

Apologies for the delay in compiling this list, after a day of not quite being a's an impressive range of film, not at all shying away from the exploitive or the artistic, in this week's haul! As always, thanks to all the contributors and to all the readers...and please do leave a comment if you're moved at all to do so...

Bill Crider: Safari Drums (trailer)

Brian Arnold: Murder Can Hurt You

Chuck Esola: Bonnie's Kids

Dan Stumpf: Curtain Call at Cactus Creek

David Schmidt: Recent viewing (and reading Sangster on Sangster)

Eric Anderson: The Iron Rose (aka La rose de fer)

Evan Lewis: Honor of the Range

Gary Lovisi: The Wages of Fear (and Sorcerer)

Harry Shearer: Jerry Lewis Telethon Memories

Iba Dawson: 10 films from "the Vault"

Kate Laity: Newgrange

Jake Hinkson: Drive a Crooked Road

James Reasoner: Lucky Lady

Jerry House: The Court of Last Resort

John Charles: Punisher: War Zone

Juri Nummelin: The Big Brass Ring

Marty McKee: How to Steal the World

Michael Shonk: The Cases of Eddie Drake: Part 3...

Pearce Duncan: Hatchet; Dorian Gray

Randy Johnson: The Invisible Woman

Ron Scheer: The Last Sunset

Scott Cupp: Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Stephen Gallagher: Sergeant Cork

Tise Vahimagi: "Prime Time Suspects Part 6: The Black Mask Brotherhood"

Walter Albert: Kid Millions

Yvette Banek: SpaceHunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone

Related matters:

Ed Gorman: Prime Suspect; HBO sitcoms and Jackie O

George Kelley: Star Wars: The Complete Saga

Jackie Kashian: The Dorkiest; DorkForest Channel

Michael Shonk: Why I Don't Watch Castle

Patti Abbott: Choosing Movies

Steve Lewis: My Kids' Blogs (on historical fiction and financial "kids")