Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Leo Dillon, March 2, 1933 - May 26, 2012

With Diane Dillon (née Sorber), collaborator throughout their professional careers and adult lives.

Two down, from their Caldecott-winning beginning reader's book Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: an owl cradles her accidentally-killed owlet near their nest.

...the last (still) image here is for Dying Inside, written (and read) by Robert Silverberg, Caedmon Records 1979

"Doc" Arthel Lane Watson, March 3, 1923-May 29, 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

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

Thanks as always to all our contributors here, and to you frequently, I expect a few more additions over the course of the day (and I hope to be able to write my own contribution!). Also as always, if I've overlooked your contribution, or someone else's, please let me know in comments...thanks.

Bill Crider: The Tiger Woman (aka Perils of the Darkest Jungle aka Jungle Gold); [trailer]

Brent McKee: US commercial broadcast television new season trailers

Brian Arnold: The Wanderers (1979)

Chuck Esola: Walk Proud

Dan Stumpf: The Big Broadcast; The Big Broadcast of 1936

Ed Gorman: Route 66; Wilson Tucker, Rog Ebert, Vic Ryan and Me

Elisabeth Grace Foley: Miracle of the White Stallions

Evan Lewis: The Sea Hawk (1940)

George Kelley: Kelly's Heroes; Where Eagles Dare

Iba Dawson: Penny Serenade

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Crazy Over Horses

Jackie Kashian: Clare Kramer &

James Reasoner: Hell is for Heroes

Jerry House: "Once Upon a Honeymoon" (1956 Bell Telephone musical informercial)

John Charles: Wizards of the Demon Sword

Kate Laity: Abed

Patti Abbott: Rachel, Rachel

Randy Johnson: Curse of the Swamp Creature

Rod Lott: The Red Queen Kills 7 Times

Ron Scheer: The Man Behind the Gun

Scott Cupp: The Dunwich Horror

Sergio Angelini: No Way Out (1987)

Stacia Jones: photo blog

Steve Lewis: The Counterfeiters (1948); Poirot: Murder in Mesopotamia (2001); Twilight in the Sierras

Todd Mason: Miller Brody Productions' Newbery Award Records

Yvette Banek: Poirot: "Four and Twenty Blackbirds"; "The Third Floor Flat"

"Zybahn": "Snap" (Harper's Island)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday Music Club: some latter-day (mostly) big bands

Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra: Long Yellow Road

Maria Schneider Orchestra: Gumba Blue

The Very Big Carla Bley Band: Who Will Rescue You?

SWOJO (Seattle Women's Jazz Orchestra): Israel

The DIVA Jazz Orchestra: Umbrella Man; Three Sisters & A Cousin

Lil Hardin Armstrong and Her Swing Orchestra: Oriental Swing

Ina Rae Hutton and Her Melodears

International Sweethearts of Rhythm: Jump, Children!; She's Crazy with the Heat

--and a radio aircheck of "Lady Be Good"

Lesa Terry Women's Jazz Orchestra:

Friday, May 25, 2012

FFB: LUCKY BRUCE by Bruce Jay Friedman (Biblioasis 2011)

Bruce Jay Friedman is a survivor of the days in which freelance writing could, if you were indeed lucky, reasonably support some writers with a living wage; what you won't find out too directly from this memoir is how one actually writes well enough and steadily enough to have been so lucky. Born in 1930, the child of a seamster and a theatrical publicist, he notes several times that his childhood bed was a kitchen chair; what he never quite explains is how one sleeps in a kitchen chair (I'm guessing he slumped over the table, but it's a guess)...and the offhanded discursiveness of the early chapters is maintained throughout this entertaining, digressive, and only occasionally time-bound memoir (you can go a whole chapter or so without a specific year, sometimes even a decade, being mentioned). Also, each chapter is written, out of ingrained habit perhaps (or perhaps because some of most of the chapters were originally published thus) as one might write an interview or profile piece for a magazine, with a "grabber" anecdote at the beginning from the thick of the action, and then in the second or third page a return to the beginning of whatever events are to be covered (he also quotes himself and conversations with others for epigraphs before the opening anecdote in each chapter).

But this is BJF, as he refers to himself, the author of the stories collected in Far from the City of Class, of the story "A Change of Plan" now filmed twice as The Heartbreak Kid, of the novel Stern, of the plays Scuba Duba (a hit, and to him a surprise hit) and Steambath (at best a moderate financial success till being taped for PBS's Hollywood Television Theatre in 1973, the production for television featuring Valerie Perrine in a much-remembered nude scene, Bill Bixby, and José Pérez as God)(and it's typical of the chronological vagueness of the memoir that Friedman usually here mentions the 1973 PBS broadcast and the 1983 Showtime cable miniseries based on the play as if they happened in immediate succession...decades fade away). Friedman would make somewhat more money in films, writing Stir Crazy and early drafts of Splash along with having many other of his scripts, stories and novels optioned repeatedly without much result (the weak Dan Ackroyd film Doctor Detroit is loosely based on a Friedman short story). But the book does proceed in a mostly chronological fashion, dealing with his youth, his college journalism career at the University of Missouri (where he would meet his first wife, Ginger Howard, and entered a bad marriage that lasted for about a decade and a half; there is no photo of Ginger anywhere in the book, despite copious photography of their sons as adults, among other friends, acquaintances and family, including his second wife), his passage through the Air Force (and his work on an airbase magazine, with which his editor hoped to rival The New Yorker in some fashion) and BJF's early short story sales to The New Yorker, leading to a meeting with the staff at their offices there, only to be shushed when walking down a corridor near editor-in-chief William Shawn's office; Friedman is advised that "Shawn is upset when he hears unfamiliar voices." If ever a sentence encapsulated everything that was wrong with Shawn's version of the magazine through allusion alone....

Friedman, needing a steady paycheck, takes on a position with Martin Goodman's magazine factory, where Marvel Comics was born, but the company was making a lot more money at the time from "men's sweat" magazines, including Men and the shortlived attempt at a downmarket "prestige" title, Swank (Friedman notes that Goodman's son would have much greater commercial success with the skin-magazine revival of the Swank title in the decades to come). BJF hires Mario Puzo as one of his writer/editors, and gains a lifelong friend, one of the many writers and other literary folk who gravitate to Friedman, and he to them. The balance of the book follows Friedman's passage, mostly as a social creature, in and out of awkward and occasionally not so awkward adventures with kind women, witty if at times challenging friends (overlapping groups), and the asinine Norman Mailer.

He notes throughout that he titled his book with no irony; that he's had his share of tough times, but that his second marriage has been with the love of his life, Patricia O'Donoghue (their daughter is cheerfully photographed as well), he's managed to keep body and soul together through writing since quitting the Goodman mill, and generally has found ways to amuse himself and others (two chapters in the middle of the book are mostly about the literary scene in the '60s and '70s at the NYC restaurant Elaine's). It's an exceedingly pleasant book by a man who has little left to prove, and yet doesn't seem to be either overly impressed with himself nor unaware of how good his best work is. And while it definitely has the feel of a collection of polished anecdotes from a born storyteller, as he often dubs himself here, retelling them from the viewpoint of someone who's lived for eight decades and has survived many of his best friends (including Puzo and Joseph Heller), he still seems to be making a few discoveries as he writes (as well as lightly mocking himself for the occasional use of dramatic or at times melodramatic turns of phrase), and even without too much searing self-analysis nor literary exegesis of his own work (or anyone else's), one does come away with a sense of how he's managed a remarkable career, and apparently a pretty rewarding life.

Vince Keenan wrote a much more concise review at time of release. It seems odd to suggest this book is remotely "forgotten" (since that release was just last year), but it was issued by a small Canadian press and Vince's review is one of relatively few it's received, at least among those archived on the web, even if one of those was in the NY Times and another was from Kirkus. Worth your time, and the small effort of borrowing or acquisition. Who else, after all, can tell you what it was like to have Natalie Wood, at liberty in a fallow period, assigned to them as a private secretary...a rather depressed and extremely efficient secretary? Though all kinds of people have been drawn into clumsy fistfights by Norman Mailer...

For more of today's books, please see the recuperating Patti Abbott's blog for the list of links...

Relevant posts: Nelson Algren's Own Book of Lonesome Monsters

Jules Feiffer: Backing into Forward

Thursday, May 24, 2012

TV notes: BORGEN, PACIFIC HEARTBEAT, and more...

The best dramatic import of last year is going to unspool again online (at the green or gray hotlinks below--depending on your browser!) and on station Link TV (mostly visible on DirecTV and Dish Network, but also broadcast overnights in the San Francisco Bay Area on KRCB); I'm definitely ready for the second season:

Borgen Season 2 Premieres Sunday, June 3!

Borgen Season 1 Marathon

This Memorial Day weekend, catch up with your favorite Danes in back-to-back episodes of the entire first season of Borgen, May 26-28, 2012 (all episodes online for 2 weeks from airdate):

Saturday, May 26: Episodes 1-3
Episode 1 - 8pm ET and 8pm PT
Episode 2 - 9pm ET and 9pm PT
Episode 3 - 10pm ET and 10pm PT

Sunday, May 27: Episodes 4-6
Episode 4 - 8pm ET and 8pm PT
Episode 5 - 9pm ET and 9pm PT
Episode 6 - 10pm ET and 10pm PT

Monday, May 28: Episodes 7-10
Episode 7 - 7pm ET and 8pm PT
Episode 8 - 8pm ET and 9pm PT
Episode 9 - 9pm ET and 10pm PT
Episode 10 - 10pm ET and 11pm PT

Pacific Heartbeat:

I have been very busy, and thus unconscionably late in reviewing this fine series of documentaries, most focusing on Hawaii but also touching on other aspects of Polynesia...the two episodes dealing primarily with music are about as different as two works dealing with Hawaiian music might be. Waimea ‘Ukulele & Slack Key Guitar follows the goings-on at an annual convention in the town on the Big Island (as opposed to Waimea on Kauai, the default choice for the prettiest of the Hawaiian islands), that draws together Hawaiian and curious folk, acoustic, and country musicians to chat, workshop, and perform together. It's an utterly relaxed and informal film, where the only drawbacks are in usually only hearing snatches of some of the songs. Keola Beamer: Mālama Ko Aloha (Keep Your Love) is a slightly more formal and at times somber affair, as we hear of the inspiration for and the composition of an extended work by Beamer, one of the grand not yet old men of Hawaiian music these days, with jazz and other influences mixing with traditional Hawaiian folk motifs. The other three episodes involve a sort of Tuskegee Experiment and Trail of Tears rolled into one for some unlucky young Hawaiian men ("Under a Jarvis Moon"), the Pacific Ocean rising to drown Takuu Atoll ("There Once was an Island: Te Henua e Nnoho") and the famous 1974 voyage of the Hōkūle‘a, the traditional Hawaiian sailing craft in which a modern-day crew showed how the original Hawaiians might've sailed from islands to the south, by using traditional navigation techniques to sail to Tahiti from Hawaii ("Papa Mau: The Wayfinder"--titled for the Micronesian man who taught them the old-style navigation techniques). The page linked to above will tell you when local public stations have informed the packagers when they will be running the individual episodes, but watch for local listings or query me in comments and I'll try to find out when the series might be playing in your has played in April on the small public network World and was made available to all US public stations in May; a second season of the series is hinted at.

So...CBS tried, half-heartedly, a run for the Richard Price-created rookie cop show NYC 22...but despite Price's involvement, it not only wasn't compelling, it was almost a note for note recapitulation, a little southerly, of the Toronto-based Canadian series Rookie Blue, which ABC has now run successfully for two suspects that CBS asked for their own version, or at least as likely had Price's series reshaped to fit. CBS has cancelled 22, but will be burning off remaining episodes Saturdays at 9p ET...just before the ABC repeats of Rookie Blue at 10p, for compare and contrast purposes.

(left, Missy Peregrym in Rookie Blue; below, Judy Marte and Adam Goldberg in NYC 22)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

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

Thanks as always to those who have posted the reviews and citations at the links below, and to you readers; as frequently, a few of the probable contributions will be added over the course of the day (and, as always, please let me know if I've missed your or someone else's contribution in comments).

Bill Crider: La fille de d'Artagnan (aka Revenge of the Musketeers) [trailer]

Brent McKee: The 2012-13 US Commercial Television Season (on the more popular broadcast networks, anyway)

Brian Arnold: Head (1968)

Ed Gorman: Lee Marvin in The Killers by Fred Blosser

Evan Lewis: The films (and posters) of Tom Keene

George Kelley: Narek Hakhnazaryan in recital; The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Iba Dawson: People Will Talk

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Gold Raiders

Jack Seabrook: Robert Bloch on Television: "Final Performance" (The Alfred Hitchcock Hour)

Jackie Kashian, Corey Olsen: The Lord of the Rings and related Tolkien works and others: text vs. film

Jake Hinkson: the films of Sterling Hayden

James Reasoner: Legend (1995 television series)

Jerry House: Watch Mr. Wizard and Don Herbert's subsequent series

John Charles: The Deadly and the Beautiful

Juri Nummelin: L'ultimo squalo (aka The Last Shark aka The Last Jaws)

Kate Laity: A Gun for George (from The Reprisalizer)

Marty McKee: The Angel Collection

Michael Shonk: Renegade (television series pilot episode, 1992)

Mike Tooney: Perry Mason first television series finale: "The Case of the Final Fade-Out"

Patti Abbott: The More the Merrier

Randy Johnson: They Won't Forget

Rod Lott: Delinquent Schoolgirls (1975)

Ron Scheer: Man in the Saddle

Scott Cupp: The Seeker (aka The Seeker: The Dark is Rising and The Dark is Rising, after the novel of the same title)

Sergio Angelini: Town on Trial (1957)

Stacia Jones: Rope; The White Shadow (1923)

Steve Lewis: Bedroom Eyes II

Todd Mason: The Thrilling Adventure Hour: Beyond Belief "GoatBusters"; Rock Slyde; The Mark Twain Audio Collection (HarperAudio, assembled from the Caedmon archives)(please see below)

Walter Albert: Mockery (1927)

Yvette Banek: Timeline (2003)

"Zybahn"/Frank: Harper's Island: "Whap" (pilot)

Retro Humor

The Thrilling Adventure Hour is an ongoing theatrical experience that I've plugged here before, both on its own and as one of the podcast series offered by The Nerdist site; among the regular subseries/segments, recorded as performed before an audience at the LA club Largo, my favorite is almost invariably the adventures of a happily if rather alcoholically lubricated married couple of gifted mediums (or are they collectively media?), who often find themselves cast in the role of psychic detectives and troublshooters...Sadie and Frank Doyle, portrayed by Paget Brewster and Paul F. Tompkins. These knowing recreations in radio drama format bask in the traditions of screwball comedy and the kind of high farce that Noel Coward offered in Blithe Spirit, though echoes of the fiction of Thorne Smith and the adventures of Dashiell Hammett's Nick and Nora Charles are also heard. In this episode, with a fine guest cast including Gillian Jacobs (most visible on the tv series Community) and fine, if last-minute, replacement-players Natalie Morales (co-star of The Minuteman series and occasionally seen more recently on Parks and Recreation) and Matt Gourley (of the Superego comedy troupe and podcast), the Doyles have to contend with shape-shifting curses, a chupacabra, a resentful witch and a goat that has them pining for a pet, if a less aromatic one. Great fun, even if the episode title will annoy the null-punsters among us: "GoatBusters."

Another farce, filmed and perhaps a bit less imaginative if also slicker, is the pleasant PI and cult religion parody Rock Slyde. This 2009 release went directly to video, and probably wouldn't've fared too well in theaters, but it remains goofy good fun throughout, and Patrick Warburton is a past master at this kind of bluff, not completely foolish character; he gets good support from Rena Sofer as the client with dangerous secrets, Elaine Hendrix (also in The Middleman) as his perky and usually sensible secretary, and Andy Dick as the quasi-religious cult leader who is the bane of Slyde's existence, attempting to harass and/or blackmail him out of his office sweet so that the House of Bartology can take over the entire office building they uncomfortably share. Some of the jokes misfire, and giving Sofer's character the name Sara Lee, even if does rhyme with Hendrix's Judy Bee, was less than inspired, but more than enough of writer/director Chris Dowling's script is clever and deft enough to make for a very pleasant viewing...not nearly as tired as most post-Airplane!/Police Squad farces have tended to be of late.

I'd been noting that some of the HarperAudio cd repackages of the materials from the Caedmon Records archives look like they're on their way out of print, or at least are going for remainder prices in a number of cases, so decided to indulge, and among the first set of items I've picked up is The Mark Twain Audio Collection, which compiles the contents of several albums (7 hours worth on six cds), including one which I loved as a kid, split between Walter Brennan reading "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" and what they've tagged as "Jim Baker's Bluejay Yarn," from the travelog book A Tramp Abroad, the flipside of the vinyl LP devoted to Brandon De Wilde reading pivotal chapters from the central section of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The balance of the current set is devoted to Ed Begley, Sr. and Will Geer reading excerpts from Roughing It, Life on the Mississippi, and The Autobiography of Mark Twain (first edition), and Geer and David Wayne reading further short someone who pored over the big Charles Neider collections as a kid, these are mostly familiar, but I haven't reread them in decades nor ever heard them read. Well done, even if Geer, particularly, at times chooses to go a little too Begley demonstrates (and certainly Brennan and De Wilde as well), the stories and sketches make the points well enough without an extra push.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Saturday Music Club: some sounds of DC

Duke Ellington & His Washingtonians: Down in Our Alley Blues

Duke (Edward Kennedy) Ellington (with Max Roach and Charles Mingus): Very Special

Karen Akers: In My Solitude

Shirley Horn Trio: How Insensitive

Charlie Byrd: Jitterbug Waltz

Ruth Brown with B. B. King and his band: Ain't Nobody's Business

Link Wray: Dinosaur

The Marquees (featuring Marvin Gaye): Wyatt Earp

Bo Diddley (and The Duchess): You Can't Judge a Book by Looking at the Cover

The Mugwumps (Cass Elliot, Denny Doherty, Zal Yanovsky, John Sebastian): You Can't Judge a Book By Looking at the Cover

The Country Gentlemen: Matterhorn

The Seldom Scene: Sittin' on Top of the World

The Seldom Scene: Wait a Minute

Mary Chapin Carpenter: Passionate Kisses

Mary Chapin Carpenter: Shut Up and Kiss Me

The Slickee Boys: When I Go to the Beach

Bad Brains: Banned in DC

Trusty: "Goodbye, Dr. Fate"

Jawbox: Motorist and Static live

Jawbox: Breathe

Fugazi: Bed for the Scraping (live version)

Tsunami: Water's Edge

Basehead: Not Over You

Thievery Corporation: Lebanese Blonde

Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers: The Party Roll

Go-Go Swing

Sweet Honey in the Rock: The Women Gather

Marian Anderson: America

Washington Post March:

Friday, May 18, 2012

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

Patti Abbott is otherwise occupied today (the rumor that they call her Mama Punisher on the yard is only a rumor), but will be hosting the links and some reviews next Friday as usual...meanwhile, please enjoy the reviews and citations at the links below, and let me know if I've missed yours or someone else's in comments...a few stragglers might come in over the course of the day, as frequently. Thanks!

In two weeks...the special Margaret Millar week in FFB.

Sergio Angelini: Some of Your Blood by Theodore Sturgeon

Yvette Banek: The Death of Colonel Mann by Cynthia Peale

Joe Barone: The Sins of the Fathers by Lawrence Block

Brian Busby: Precious by Douglas H. Glover

Maryell Cleary: Prophet Motive by Cleo Jones

Bill Crider: The Tough Die Hard (aka The Echoing Shore) by Robert Martin

Scott Cupp: The Imperium Game by K. D. Wentworth

William F. Deeck: Corpus Delectable by Talmage Powell; Murder on Every Floor by Ann Demarest

Loren Eaton: The House in November by Keith Laumer

Martin Edwards: Cain's Jawbone (aka/within the The Torquemada Puzzle Book) by Edward Powys Mathers

Barry Ergang (hosted by Kevin Tipple): Love Lies Bleeding by Edmund Crispin

Curt Evans: Death Before Bedtime by "Edgar Box" (Gore Vidal)

Ed Gorman: Mermaid by Margaret Millar

Jerry House: The Little Tales of Smethers and Other Stories by Lord Dunsany

Allen J. Hubin: Little Odessa by Joseph Koenig

Randy Johnson: Whom Gods Destroy by Clifton Adams

Nick Jones: Towards the End of Morning by Michael Frayn

George Kelley: Requiem: New Collected Works by Robert A. Heinlein...

Rob Kitchin: Buried Strangers by Leighton Gage

Marv Lachman: Remember to Kill Me by Hugh Pentecost

Kate Laity: My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

Richard & Karen La Porte: The Secret Generations by John Gardner

B. V. Lawson: May You Die in Ireland by Michael Kenyon

Evan Lewis: "Blind Alleys" by Carroll John Daly

Steve Lewis: The Grub-and-Stakers Spin a Yarn by Alisa Craig

Walker Martin: Tough As Nails: The Complete Cases of Donahue from the Pages of Black Mask by Frederick Nebel

John F. Norris: The Case of Mr Cassidy by William Targ

Juri Nummelin: The Cry of the Owl by Patricia Highsmith

J. Kingston Pierce: I Die Possessed by J.B. O’Sullivan

David Rachels: Backflash by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake)

James Reasoner: The Three Planeteers by Edmond Hamilton

Karyn Reeves: The Birdcage by John Bowen

Richard Robinson: A Killing in Comics by Max Alan Collins

Gerard Saylor: Other People We Married by Emma Straub

Ron Scheer: Buell Hampton by Willis George Emerson

Bill Selnes: Dos Equis by Anthony Bidulka

Kerrie Smith: The Killing Bottle by L.P. Hartley

"TomCat": The Spies of Sobeck by Paul Doherty

Prashant Trikannad: Secret Armies: The New Technique of Nazi Warfare—Exposing Hitler's Undeclared War on the Americas by John L. Spivak

and on the newsstand:

Patti Abbott: Untold Tales of the Punisher Max #3 (August, 2012), script by Megan Abbott

Paul Bishop: Double-Action Detective (and Mystery); Comics become 1950s paperback novels by Tony Fleecs

Jack Seabrook and Peter Enfantino: Shock, September 1960; Batman in the 1970s Part 18: May and June 1972

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

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

We have an unusually brink-of-summer assortment of the goofy and the unobscurely classic among our mix of overlooked items this week, but the more the merrier...I will cheerfully provide some of the spinach later today, and there might be other entries forthcoming, though this below represents most of the Regular Crew, at least...thanks to all who contribute reviews and citations, and to you readers, as always...and please do advise me in comments if I've missed yours or someone else's Overlooked A/V item. Thanks!

Bill Crider: Gator (trailer)

Brent McKee: Canadian Television today

Brian Arnold: American Bandstand: 30th Anniversary Special

Carolyn Weldon: The National Film Board of Canada's list of 12 sites to watch films for free

Cullen Gallagher: Jonathan Woods; Donald "Duck" Dunn, RIP

David Langford: The Weakest Triffid; Ansible (in case you've never looked into it)

Ed Gorman: D.O.A. (1950)

Evan Lewis: The Buccaneer (1958); The Life of Jean Lafitte (marionette show)

Frank/Zybahn: "Trial by Fire" (The 4400)

George Kelley: The Cowboys (1972)

Iba Dawson: Wimbledon; Blithe Spirit (1945); For Mother’s Day; Her Mom’s Favorite Films

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Tumbleweed Trail; cable follies

James Reasoner: King Solomon's Mines (2004)

Jerry House: Murder at the Baskervilles

John Charles: Supernova; newspaper ads

Juri Nummelin: Le cri du hibou; The Cry of the Wolf (two films from Patricia Highsmith's novel of the latter title)

Kate Laity: The Third Man

Michael Shonk: Danger Has Two Faces

Patti Abbott: NYC museum touring

Prashant Trikannad: Saturday Night Fever

Randy Johnson: I Am Omega

Rod Lott: Be Cool

Ron Scheer: Fort Massacre (Randy Johnson's review from 2011)

Scott Cupp: The Green Slime

Sergio Angelini: Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid

Stephen Gallagher: Silent Witness

Steve Lewis: The Hat Box Mystery; The Russia House

Yvette Banek: Gold Diggers of 1933

Todd Mason: Paperback Dreams
(the title link is to the entirety of the film online--this below is a preview:)

An hourlong documentary, originally broadcast by San Francisco PBS station KQED as part of their Truly California series in 2008, which follows the progress, and lack of progress, faced by two essentially legendary SF Bay Area bookstores, Kepler's and Cody's, as they attempt to make their way in the emerging realities for bookstores, particularly large independent bookstores, in the past decade. Kepler's, whose temporary closure helped inspire the documentary, has managed to keep going...Cody's, which attempted some ambitious expansion at perhaps the worst time for brick and mortar stores in expensive rent districts, closes during the time covered by the documentary, which also limns the history of these two leftish institutions, originally Berkeley-based Cody's inspired by Menlo Park-based Kepler's example, and both initially among the important bookstores that opened in the wake of the paperback revolution of the 1950s. As noted in the interviews, many bookstores had resisted carrying paperbacks initially, due to the low margins of profit from each sale, but Kepler's was among those who saw the opportunity to help get more and more interesting work into the hands of the less-affluent, very much including the students and the burgeoning counterculture of the Bay Area at midcentury...soon, both bookstores had become rallying points as well as inspirations and refuges for the Beats, New Leftists, hippies and others, as well as general bookstore customers. But history will only take one so far, in the face of ever stiffer competition from the Big Boxes, starting to falter themselves by the two-year period covered intensely here, and from the online merchants, not a few of whom (not least Amazon) finding that selling almost anything other than books can make them more money, particularly as the eBooks start being almost (or utterly) loss-leaders from their point of view to entice sales of the eBook readers...a new face on the industry not yet fully in place by the endpoint of the doc. A vital and somewhat saddening account, and the takeaway lessons abstracted in the Wikipedia piece about the film--"Own your own building [...] Hire experienced staff [...] Sell used books [...] Figure out some way to sell books online"--are all useful to keep in mind, not least the last. This has been playing nationally particularly on the World network.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Saturday Music Club: Electronic Music

Halim El-Dabh: excerpt from "Wire Recorder Piece" (1944)

Samuel J. Hoffman with the Billy May Orchestra: "This Room is My Castle of Quiet" (1949)

Louis & Bebe Barron: Forbidden Planet, Main Titles Overture (1956)

Edgar Varese: Poeme electronique (1958)
Tom Dissevelt: Electronic Movement (1962) 

 George Russell: Electronic Sonata for Souls Loved by Nature (1969, composed 1968)  

Buffy Sainte-Marie (lyrics by Leonard Cohen): God is Alive, Magic is Afoot (1969)

Gil Melle: Night Gallery theme (1970)

And thus the floodgates are open... the spill somehow represented by Trio: Da Da Da (1981)

Which can only lead to cats with theremins:

Friday's "Forgotten" Books (plus a Saturday addition): The Links and more...

Patti Abbott is indisposed...I've lost track if this is the fun week or the antifun week, but this week and next I'll be hosting the links to Friday's set of book reviews and always, thanks to all contributors and to all you readers, and if I've overlooked your contribution, please let me know in comments. Thanks again!

Douglas Anderson: Ghostly Tales by Wilhelmina Kennedy-Erskine

Bill Crider: The Day the Sea Rolled Back by Mickey Spillane

Scott Cupp: Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock

Martin Edwards: The Verdict of You All by Henry Wade

Curtis Evans: The Edgar Box Detective Novels of Gore Vidal

Ed Gorman: Having Wonderful Crime by Craig Rice

Jerry House: The Hypnotic Experiment of Dr. Reeves and Other Stories by Charlotte Rosalys Jones

Randy Johnson: The Dangerous Days of Kiowa Jones by Clifton Adams

George Kelley: Reading for My Life: Writings 1958-2008 by John Leonard; Lady, Go Die! by Max Allan Collins and Mickey Spillane

Kate Laity: The Complete Verse and Other Nonsense by Edward Lear

B.V. Lawson: Find the Innocent by Roy Vickers

Evan Lewis: The Lafitte Case by Ray Peters

Walker Martin: Five Noir Novels of the 1940′s and 1950′s by David Goodis

Todd Mason: A Science Fiction Argosy edited by Damon Knight; The Japanese Mistress by Richard Neely (please see below)

Francis Nevins: The Case of the Barking Clock by Harry Stephen Keeler; Report for a Corpse by Henry Kane

John F. Norris: The Secret Life of Algernon Pendleton by Russell H. Greenan

Eric Peterson: Earth Abides by George R. Stewart

James Reasoner: Stacked Deck by Frank Kane

Karyn Reeves: What's Become of Waring by Anthony Powell

Gerard Saylor: The Dead Man series

Ron Scheer: In the Country God Forgot by Frances Charles

Kerrie Smith: A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George

Kevin Tipple: The Troubleshooter by Austin S. Camacho

"TomCat": A Wicked Way to Die by "Jeremy Sturrock"

Prashant Trikannad: Third Class in Indian Railways by Mahatma Gandhi

"Zybahn": The Bad Seed by William March

The Japanese Mistress (Saturday Review Press, 1972) is Richard Neely in a John D. MacDonaldesque mood (even down to the boat as temporary residence, albeit in California rather than Florida), till things get typically Neelyish in the final chapters. What begins as a smoothly-written and rather romantic tale within a tale of a GI's adventures in postwar Japan, laying out the possibly only lightly fictionalized story of the Japanese mistress of the title, is soon a key part of an intensely recomplicated account of the jaded and sexually frustrated upper middle class in Sausalito, California, in 1968. The author of the probably autobiographical romance is a hardworking ad exec, who has a wife he doesn't get along with and an adopted daughter he dotes on; the wife has a male cousin who comes to town, a slightly down-on-his-luck writer, with whom she had played some Doctoresque games in their early adolescence; things don't get any less prone to tension, deceit and questionable sexual liaison from there. It's difficult to describe this novel without giving away the twists on which it depends too much, given how well Neely could juggle narrative and character; he just loved to dive into the sleaze, as well, and make little bombs out of that as it suits him to reveal them. To this end, one important piece of misdirection is not quite fair play with the reader, as a character will be repeatedly described, some distance into the second half of the book, with a certain descriptor, while another important aspect of that character is improbably never mentioned nor even obliquely referred to "onstage" by the other characters...rather as if Norman Bates was presented in either the novel or film Psycho as apparently just a local resident in his town, rather than as the motel's manager, and yet still having the run of the motel and the house up the hill. The revelation that, Aha, that's why he had the motel pass-keys would be a bit of a cheat there, and the withholding of a somewhat similarly key datum in this novel is likewise a cheat, and even leads up to an incident of two characters being observed together that is somewhat ludicrous in retrospect...but doesn't quite spoil the novel, with its breezy passage through the lives of its privileged, desperate characters, all but the writer-cousin more comfortable in their positions in life than typical noirish characters might be (and even he facing only temporary setback)...this might well be the weakest of Neely's suspense novels (I've just begun to read a number I've purchased recently, and I hope so, at least), and it's still a compelling read...and the resolution has overtones of at least one prominent "celebrity scandal" of a couple of decades after the book's publication. One only wishes that it didn't rely so heavily on gimmicks for so much shock value, and didn't try to paper over the objections one might have to the rosy portrait of the situation at novel's end it hopes to leave the reader with...Neely can definitely be seen chuckling in the middle distance.

A Science Fiction Argosy (Simon and Schuster, 1972) is, as Damon Knight notes in his introduction, the kind of bug-crusher of an anthology (over 800 pages) he wished he'd been handed as a young sf reader in the 1940s, when the sf he could ferret out at the Hood River, Oregon, public library was relatively sparse (no one even pointed him to some of the more famous Verne novels, he notes). Some of these stories, Knight admits, are sf only by stretching the term (such as the surreal fantasy of Fritz Leiber's "Rump-Titty-Titty-Tum-Tah-Tee" or the slightly pixilated humor of Shirley Jackson's "One Ordinary Day, With Peanuts"...I still can't believe that the bald sexual joke of the Leiber's title escaped me at first reading, but then so did the only slightly less bald one of Theodore Sturgeon's story "Affair with a Green Monkey," so impressed was I with other aspects of both stories; the Jackson was published with similar quality over content judgment in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, after other markets foolishly let it slip by). And while some of its contents were more likely to loom impressively (and already had been collected in various sorts of best-of anthology) in the decade or so before this book's appearance ("Sea Wrack" by Edward Jesby, for example, or "Bernie the Faust" by William Tenn...another questionable inclusion as sf rather than as fantasy), their general neglect in the years since help make this book perhaps even more valuable now than when it was does its inclusion of two novels, More than Human by Theodore Sturgeon and The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester, which were certainly available in 1972 in paperback, but no longer in boards (except perhaps from the SF Book Club)...the Bester is not in print in the US, at least, though readily available (and, sadly, Knight's reprint doesn't replicate the full typographical complexity of the Galaxy magazine serialization any more than any other reprint has). (A sad little coda to the affair is that Knight for no compelling reason wants to perpetuate the fannish notion of the Big Three sf/fantasy magazines, by crediting the vast majority of the contents here to Astounding/Analog, F&SF and Galaxy [where the Bester was serialized and the central section of the Sturgeon was published as a novella], without taking into account how many of the F&SF items were reprinted from other sources...the rule of three was usually more a Procrustean measure than a useful one, given how many other magazines and other sources have contributed mightily to the fields).

The contents (from the Contento Index):
A Science Fiction Argosy ed. Damon Knight (Simon & Schuster, 1972, hc)
· Introduction · Damon Knight · in
· Green Thoughts · John Collier · ss Harper’s May ’31
· The Red Queen’s Race · Isaac Asimov · nv Astounding Jan ’49
· The Cure · Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore · ss Astounding May ’46
· Consider Her Ways · John Wyndham · na Sometime, Never, ed. Anon., Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1956
· An Ornament to His Profession [Conrad Patrick] · Charles L. Harness · nv Analog Feb ’66
· The Third Level · Jack Finney · ss Colliers Oct 7 ’50; F&SF Oct ’52
· One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts · Shirley Jackson · ss F&SF Jan ’55
· Bernie the Faust · William Tenn · nv Playboy Nov ’63
· Light of Other Days [Slow Glass] · Bob Shaw · ss Analog Aug ’66
· The Game of Rat and Dragon · Cordwainer Smith · ss Galaxy Oct ’55
· Becalmed in Hell · Larry Niven · ss F&SF Jul ’65
· Apology to Inky · Robert M. Green, Jr. · nv F&SF Jan ’66
· The Demolished Man · Alfred Bester · n. Galaxy Jan ’52 (+2)
· Day Million · Frederik Pohl · ss Rogue Feb/Mar ’66
· Manna · Peter Phillips · nv Astounding Feb ’49
· Can You Feel Anything When I Do This? · Robert Sheckley · ss Playboy Aug ’69
· Somerset Dreams · Kate Wilhelm · nv Orbit 5, ed. Damon Knight, G.P. Putnam’s, 1969
· He Walked Around the Horses [Paratime Police] · H. Beam Piper · nv Astounding Apr ’48
· Rump-Titty-Titty-Tum-Tah-Tee [Simon Grue] · Fritz Leiber · ss F&SF May ’58
· Sea Wrack · Edward Jesby · nv F&SF May ’64
· Man in His Time · Brian W. Aldiss · nv Science-Fantasy #71 ’65
· Four Brands of Impossible · Norman Kagan · nv F&SF Sep ’64
· Built Up Logically [“The Universal Panacea”] · Howard Schoenfeld · ss Retort Win ’49; F&SF Fll ’50
· Judgment Day · L. Sprague de Camp · ss Astounding Aug ’55
· Journeys End · Poul Anderson · ss F&SF Feb ’57
· More Than Human · Theodore Sturgeon · n. Farrar, Straus and Young, 1952