Saturday, December 30, 2017

December's Underappreciated Music: December 2017

The monthly assembly of undervalued and often nearly "lost" music, or simply music the blogger in question wants to remind you reader/listeners of...

Patti Abbott: Nightly Music and What Makes for Happiness

Brian Arnold: Shirley Ellis: "You Better Be Good, World"; Kenny & Dolly: A Christmas Remembrance;  Al Alberts Showcase:  "Christmas Special 1979"; John Denver & the Muppets: A Christmas Together

The !!! Beat (1966): Barbara Lynn et al.

Recorded February 16,1966 
1. Intro by Hoss Allen, including The Beat Theme  
2. Barbara Lynn - What'd I Say 
3. The Kelly Brothers - I'm Falling In Love Again 
4. Little Gary Ferguson - I Got You
5. Gatemouth Brown - When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again 
6. Barbara Lynn - You'll Lose A Good Thing
7. The Kelly Brothers - I'd Rather Have You
8. Mighty Joe Young - Tell Me Why You Want To Hurt Me So
9. Gatemouth Brown - Fiddle Instrumental #4
10. The Kelly Brothers - Amen 

Jayme Lynn Blaschke: Friday Night Videos

Paul D. Brazill: A Song for Saturday

Jim Cameron: Nina Simone: "Trouble in Mind"

Kasey Chambers Band: "Rattlin' Bones"

Sean Coleman: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: She's the One; Bread

Bill Crider: Song of the Day; Mitch Margo (of the Tokens)
The Next Edition Quartet: Bill Crider, Ed Looby, Gary Logsdon and Richard Wolfe: "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"

Jeff Gemmill: Top 5s; Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Broken Arrowmost popular posts of 2017; Albums of the Year, 2017; Runners-Up, 2017; Concerts of the Year, 2017

Jerry House: The World Folk Music Association and their concerts; Hymn Time; Music from the Past; Bill Crider's band the Fabulous G-Strings

Jackie Kashian: Paul Sabourin on outsider music

George Kelley: Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer: Not Dark Yet; Will Friedwald: The Great Jazz and Pop Albums; Katherine Jenkins: This is Christmas; Rolling Stones: On Air: Songs from the BBC 1963-65; Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy: A Celtic Family Christmas

Jim Kweskin Jug Band: "Hannah"

Kweskin Band featuring Maria Muldaur: "Ain't Gonna Marry"

Kate Laity: Song for a Saturday

B. V. LawsonRising star Thom Southerland is directing a new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony and Olivier-Award nominated musical, The Woman in White for a 12-week season at the UK's Charing Cross Theatre. The  tale of love, betrayal and greed, adapted from Wilkie Collins’ haunting Victorian thriller, sees Walter Hartright’s life changed forever after a chance encounter with a mysterious woman, dressed in white, desperate to reveal her chilling secret. The production will run through February 10, 2018.

Evan Lewis: The Bonanza Cast: Christmas on the Ponderosa; Michael Landon: "Linda is Lonesome" and other singles; the Five Worst Xmas songs?

Maltin on Movies: Mark Mothersbaugh

Barry Malzberg: NBC Orchestra conducted by Arturo Toscanini, Robert Shaw Chorale, Herva Nelli, Robert Tucker: Aida; 26 March 1949 broadcast
Clean, propulsive, fierce, an absolute revelation and the old man's modesty, deference, utter relinquishment of vanity in the curtain calls shows us something that has gone out of the world.  That might have never been in the world (but we used to lie that it was). Give it the two hours and thirty-one minutes.  Worth it.  The Triumphal March and all preceding are at that level where you just drop the knitting and everything else.

Marc Maron: Bernie Maupin & Kasper Collin; Jimmie Vaughn; "Little" Steven Van Zandt; Loudon Wainwright III

Todd Mason: Elegies and Lamentations

Becky O'Brien: Jim Nabors

Andrew Orley: Nobody's Listening

Lawrence Person: Shoegazer Sunday

Charlie Ricci: D. B. Reilly: Live from Long Island City; Robbie Robertson's "Christmas Must Be Tonight" (as recorded by The Band, by Robertson and by Hall & Oates); The Red Button: She's About to Cross My Mind; Roseanne Cash, et al.: Holidays Rule, Vol. 2

Keely Smith and Her Orchestra: "How High the Moon"

Ella Fitzgerald and Band: "How High the Moon"

W. Royal Stokes: The Best and Notable Jazz Releases of 2017

Joe Weinmunson: Best Music of 2017 on YouTube

A. J. Wright: Jackie Green and the Five Spirits of Rhythm (among other recordings of): "Alabamy Bound"; Wilhelm Iucho: "Alabama Waltz" (1835)

David Amram Band: Waltz from "After the Fall"

Friday, December 29, 2017

FFB: The Scott, Foresman Invitations to Personal Reading Program edited by Helen Robinson, et al.

I've written before about the Scott, Foresman reading/literature textbooks that my various schools, public and private, used through my elementary through high school education (1970-1982), in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Hawaii. (They had the Dick and Jane first-grade franchise in the '60s, and were ubiquitous, obviously, in later grades as well.) I remember the first actively psychotic teacher I had, a second-grade reading teacher who egregiously resented my ability to read before entering her class, growing volubly vexed with me when I wrote in the answers in the blank spaces in the text assuming that was what we were meant to do.) Among the supplementary materials Scott, Foresman offered were editions of various selected children's and YA books that they published in uniform "framed" cover-format as above and below, though in various sizes--the books were more or less in the dimensions of the original editions, and reprinted the original covers, except with no dust jackets and printed-on-the-boards images of those original front covers. I don't have them to hand, but as I recall them they didn't make an attempt to reprint the back covers or flap copy.
The list at the end is the set that was available for browsing and reading in my fifth grade and sixtth grade classroom at Nathan Hale Elementary School in Hazardville, CT. (The examples above might've been pitched to a slightly younger set of readers, with a Jean Craighead George early reader that I've never seen...while I do clearly remember her powerful Newbery Award-winner Julie of the Wolves and My Side of the Mountain. (We had one classroom with one teacher for all but some art classes at that small school at that time, and the same teacher for both fifth and sixth grades, and nearly the identical population in the classroom in those two years. We were also, probably unfortunately but conveniently, divided by our perceived ability as readers, with a half-doze of us on the students' left side of the classroom the sophisticated readers, using as our textbooks Scott, Foresman's Vistas (in fifth grade) and Cavalcades (in sixth)...the intermediate readers, making up most of the class, had another text (title forgotten) and sat in the middle of the classroom; and the ten or so of the struggling readers sat on the right, and used the Open Highways volumes for their grades. Scholastic Book Services and Dell Yearling paperbacks, among some others, were available for the kids to read during "open reading" periods or indoor recess, in shelves at the back of the room...I dipped in more than most, I think, even among the "advanced" readers. 
Among those which mad the strongest impression were Henry Reed’s Journey by Keith Robertson, the first of Robertson's Reed and Midge Glass novels I read and the second in the series (I recall that a chapter from Henry Reed's Baby-Sitting Service had been included in one of textbooks), Harold Courlander's collection of mythlore and folktales from around the world Ride with the Sun, and the handsomely illustrated edition of "The Charge of the Light Brigade"...though I now remember, looking at this list, that I definitely read the Newbery-winning Across Five Aprils and The Twenty-One Balloons from this set, and North to Freedom, the Danny Dunn books (that one doesn't stand out in memory) and Sea Pup Again (interesting the degree to which they didn't feel the need to include the first novels in a given series). Pretty sure I read James Kjelgaard's Stormy, as well, having already read his Big Red and a few others (at least a few of those among the paperbacks on the same shelves)... Kjelgaard having been a prolific writer for adults, in the slick magazines and higher-paying pulps, as well, who died young, after illness...Robert Bloch helped him shape up some of his last work for publication, when he was simply too ill to produce final drafts. 

To what extent did your classrooms have their own collections of books when you were in elementary grades, and did you have any fond memories of those addition to any libraries your school also maintained? (We had a library at that Enfield, Connecticut school...Hazardville having been absorbed by Enfield some decades before...which was in 1973 already a "media center" instead...the first thing I remember taking out from there was an audiocassette dramatization of Dracula...which my brother, then aged two, gleefully recorded over in part while playing around with the inexpensive cassette player/recorder I had at that time.).

The Scott, Foresman Invitations to Personal Reading Program set we had in my 5th/6th grade classroom:

Adventures in Many Lands

Henry Reed’s Journey by Keith Robertson

The Minnow Leads to Treasure by A. Philippa Pearce

The Singing Cave by Ellis Dillon

“What Then, Raman?” by Shirley Aroroa

Science and Nature

The Giant Golden Book of Biology by Gerald Ames and Rose Wyler

Jets and Rockets and How They Work by William P. Gottlieb

The Peaceful Atom by Bernice Kohn

Sea Pup Again by Archie Binns

Stormy by James Kjelgaard

Biography and Historical Fiction

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

America’s Ethan Allen by Stewart Holbrook

From the Eagle’s Wing by Hildegarde Swift

Trace Through the Forest by Barbara Robinson

Tree in the Trail by Holling C. Holling

Legends, Myths, and Other Tales

The Golden Treasury of Myths and Legends adapted by Anne T. White

Ride with the Sun edited by Harold Courlander

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Bob Fulton’s Amazing Soda-Pop Stretcher by Jerome Beatty, Jr.

The City Under the Back Steps by Evelyn S. Lampman

Danny Dunn, Time Traveler by Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin

Books Too Good to Miss

Mr. Twigg’s Mistake by Robert Lawson

North to Freedom by Anne Holm

The Story of Design by Marion Downer

The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois


The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Moment of Wonder edited by Richard Lewis
For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Elegies and Lamentations: Saturday Music Club on Tuesday

different songs, same title:
Shelley Fisher: "Big City Lights" 

Cleo Randle (aka Cleo Jackson): "Big City Lights"

Cleo Randle: "The Best Man I Ever Had"

Abbey Lincoln: "Retribution"

Abbey Lincoln: "Africa" 

Louis Armstrong, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, Brubeck, Morello and Wright: "They Say I Look Like God"

Carmen McRae and Betty Carter: "But Beautiful"

Miriam Makeba: "Quit It"

Gil Scott-Heron Band: "Johannesburg"

Gil Scott-Heron Band: "Lady Day and John Coltrane"

Sunday, December 24, 2017

cover gallery: E PLURIBUS UNICORN by Theodore Sturgeon

Richard Powers's painting for the first Ballantine paperback edition, 1956.

Bill Rose, 1961

Richard Powers again, Ballantine 1965
Robert Pepper, Ballantine 1970

Uncredited and uninspired, but OK. 1968

1977 hideous uncredited Pocket 1st edition painting (US & C).

Boris Vallejo's Pocket 1978 painting/ed.

Generic, but better. First edition I bought and read, 1984.
First edition, 1953, perhaps the most uninspired of all the covers it's had. A. M. Jauss.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Guest FFB: Barry N. Malzberg on ANATOMY OF A KILLER by Peter Rabe

Just finished this, one of 16 Rabe novels I ordered from Stark House in fulfillment of an ancient sense of obligation (I had never read a word of his divorced wife Claire [Rabe, initially as by "Anna Winter"]'s Olympia Press novel FLESH AND BLOOD when it was published with mine and five others in 1969 in a series of "the inaugural American Olympia hardcover novels" all of which bombed was quite good). This is one of the craziest, most disjointed, most fascinatingly implosive and explosive novels I have ever read; as I just observed to my patient spouse "When you are turning out books for $2500 advances in two or three weeks because you are trying to make a living you can't go back and get it right, but if he had had that unlikely opportunity this could have been a breakthrough work". Even so, I have never read existential fragmentation and individual psychic breakdown merged the way that Rabe manages in the final 15,000 words. That was my off again, on again shtick and in the fourteenth and final novel of THE LONE WOLF [series published as by "Mike Barry"] I might have gotten close but Rabe was on another planet. It's on a level with the last chapters of LOLITA and Rabe does not for better or worse allow linguistic virtuosity to get in his way.

This guy was (as Carter Scholz wrote of me 35 years ago) synchronously the best and worst writer going, sometimes in the same damned paragraph. A stunning broken talent. And a beacon toward the horrible time in which two thirds of a century later we now exist. 

I feel driven to make this observation public, just for the record.  As you were, ladies and gents.

--BNM, reprinted with permission from Rara-Avis.

Friday's Forgotten Books: E PLURIBUS UNICORN by Theodore Sturgeon; NINE HORRORS AND A DREAM by Joseph Payne Brennan; (HORROR STORIES FROM) TALES TO BE TOLD IN THE DARK edited by Basil Davenport

FFB bonus: 
Robert Bloch, 1979:
Leigh Brackett, J. Francis McComas and Eric Frank Russell in memoriam

"I have always felt that, at his best, nobody wrote better science fiction and fantasy than Ted Sturgeon." Richard Matheson, newly released 1992 interview with Richard Lupoff and Richard Wolinsky

from the Contento index:
E Pluribus Unicorn Theodore Sturgeon 
(Abelard, 1953, $2.75, 276pp, hc; Ballantine, 1956, pb; 
cover by Richard Powers)

· Essay on Sturgeon · Groff Conklin · in
· The Silken-Swift · nv F&SF Nov ’53
· The Professor’s Teddy-Bear · ss Weird Tales Mar ’48
· Bianca’s Hands · ss Argosy (UK) May ’47
· Saucer of Loneliness · ss Galaxy Feb ’53
· The World Well Lost · ss Universe Jun ’53
· It Wasn’t Syzygy [“The Deadly Ratio”] · nv Weird Tales Jan ’48
· The Music · vi *
· Scars · ss Zane Grey’s Western Magazine May ’49
· Fluffy · ss Weird Tales Mar ’47
· The Sex Opposite · nv Fantastic Fll ’52
· Die, Maestro, Die! · nv Dime Detective Magazine May ’49
· Cellmate · ss Weird Tales Jan ’47
· A Way of Thinking · nv Amazing Oct/Nov ’53

This was only the second collection of Sturgeon's work, and the most eclectic one readers would see at least until the the Dell collections published at the turn of the 1980s...given the mix of western, suspense, horror, fantasy and sf, perhaps not until Paul Williams got The Sturgeon Project and its volumes of his complete short stories under way more than a decade after that. And while the first collection and several to appear shortly afterward snagged such notable stories as "It" and "...And My Fear Is Great...", this is as good a core-sampling of Sturgeon's work as one could ask for. "Bianca's Hands" is the story that Unknown's John W. Campbell was so disturbed by that he sought to convince other editors not to publish it; happily, the editors at Argosy's British edition, slightly more sophisticated than even the good US version of the magazine, decided that it deserved to win a contest they were running...with the runner up being Graham Greene. "A Saucer of Loneliness" is barely an sf story at all, with the alien visitation theme added only when Sturgeon couldn't place the story in paying non-sf markets (and it's an excellent story even with that market improvisation in place). "The Professor's Teddy Bear," "Fluffy" and "Cellmate" are expert horror, as is the even more disturbing "A Way of Thinking" (improbably first appearing in theoretically science-fictional Amazing rather than its fantasy/sf companion Fantastic), which, like "Bianca's Hands," had waited several years for a market willing to take it on. "The World Well Lost" was the first story to be published in the sf magazines to argue for acceptance of homosexuality, and it's a credit to editor Bea Mahaffey as well as to Sturgeon that it appeared in her first issue of Universe Science Fiction. "Scars" is an utterly unfantasticated western, with several sorts of tragic turn running right up to its conclusion. "The Silken Swift" is a fine, gentle fantasy (and the source of the book-title's unicorn); "It Wasn't Syzygy" one of the first works tackling the recurring Sturgeon fascination with synergies of personality and greater forces that might thus be generated...his novel More Than Human would be another example, as is this volume's "The Sex Opposite."

(The Pocket Books reprint I was quite happy to purchase in a supermarket in 1984. You never know where Sturgeon's work would turn sf short story in Sports Illustrated, as the only book reviewer, I suspect, to ply that trade in all four of Venture Science FictionNational ReviewGalaxy and Hustler, in that order...etc....)

from ISFDb:
Nine Horrors and a Dream by Joseph Payne Brennan (Arkham House, 1958; Ballantine 1962); cover by Richard Powers (contents first published in this collection except as noted)

1 • Slime • (1953) • novelette (Weird Tales, March 1953)
33 • Levitation • (1958) • short story
39 • The Calamander Chest • (1954) • short story (Weird Tales, January 1954)
51 • Death in Peru • (1954) • short story (Mystic Magazine, January 1954)
61 • On the Elevator • (1953) • short story (Weird Tales, July 1953)
71 • The Green Parrot • (1952) • short story (Weird Tales, July 1952)
79 • Canavan's Back Yard • [Canavan] • (1958) • short story
95 • I'm Murdering Mr. Massington • short fiction
101 • The Hunt • (1958) • short story
113 • The Mail for Juniper Hill • short fiction

Joseph Payne Brennan was a less fully-realized artist than Sturgeon was, and not as deft nor as careful with his prose (few have been); but nonetheless, Brennan did good work in the field of horror in at least two ways, with the brilliant vignette "Levitation" and such perhaps more-famous stories as "Canavan's Back Yard," "The Calamander Chest" (which Vincent Price would record for a Caedmon LP in the mid '70s) and, most famously, "Slime"...a long story that if it isn't the only parent of the film The Blob, is still the most important one (and rather an improvement on the somewhat cruder similar story in the first issue of Weird Tales from 1923, "Ooze" by Anthony Rud). As one of the last great "discoveries' for the original Weird Tales magazine before it folded in 1954, Brennan's other notable contribution was in publishing the occasional little magazine devoted to horror and related matter, Macabre, in the latter '50s and into the 1970s, by which time several small-press magazines had picked up the torch. As Avram Davidson concluded his positive review of this book in F&SF, "Mr. Brennan is perhaps not M. R. James...but who is?"

courtesy Vault of Evil:
Tales To Be Told in the Dark, edited by Basil Davenport 
(Dodd, Mead 1953; abridged edition, as Horror Stories from..., Ballantine, 1960; cover by Richard Powers)

William Fryer Harvey - The Beast With Five Fingers
Stephen Hall - By One, By Two, By Three
Saki - Sredni Vashtar
Lord Dunsany - The Two Bottles Of Relish
Margaret Irwin - The Book
John Collier - Thus I Refute Beelzy
[James Thurber - The Whip-Poor-Will--omitted in the Ballantine edition]
Arthur Machen - The White People
Lafcadio Hearn - Mujina
Saki - The Open Window
Basil Davenport - Two Anecdotes
Anon - The Closed Cabinet
Basil Davenport - The Closed Cabinet Retold

Critic and historian E. F. Bleiler is quoted in the capsule review at Vault of Evil: 
"Davenport, recognizing that 'The Closed Cabinet' is cumbersome, badly plotted and barely intelligible, has shortened the narrative greatly and reworked the story. It was not worth the effort."

While Davenport was a literary gadabout in the 1950s and up till his death in 1966, and a friend to fantastic fiction, this anthology is a very mixed bag, indeed, despite the excellent stories by John Collier, Lord Dunsany (his already a relish-drenched chestnut by 1953), Harvey and Saki. The anecdotes are mild jokes, the punchline of one being a rather elderly pun: "I was told to always strike a happy medium.") Davenport's instructional tips on how to tell stories are rather good, better the most of the balance of the fiction here ("Mujina" has been improved upon from Hearn's version, though I'm damned if I can remember whose very similar story I was fortunate enough to read not long after first picking up this book). Apparently, the other Ballantine anthologies attributed to Davenport were ghost-edited, but I suspect this one is so idiosyncratic that only Davenport himself would've chosen the contents, since he also annotates them. An interesting curio, and with the third of a trio of rather good Richard Powers covers, from this age of Powers's work appearing on many Ballantine and Berkley items particularly. 

A redux post from 2013.
For more of this week's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog