CD of the Day (and strong contender for CD of the Year) Gregory Porter’s LIQUID SPIRIT


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I’ve been listening to a lot of music recently. Actual cds not mp3s, not rough compressions or rough approximations of the song, but the full CD sound spectrum of the song.

MP3s were never designed as a replacement for musical CDs, it is a sampling medium, great for helping you decide what is worth buying (or even audio books where for the most part all you are reproducing is a person’s limited conversational speaking range) but not suitable as a replacement for a full range music recording. MP3s get rid of extraneous info, the highs and the lows, the extremes, but oft I’ve found it’s those very pauses and extremes… that compression schemes such as MP3 would lose, wherein we are best found.

I’ve listened to everything from Rock to Rap, sampling all those voices from the near and far. And some of those CDs are very good, but only one recently has been inspired, has been revelatory. Revelatory as in revelation. Gregory Porter’s LIQUID SPIRIT is that cd. Not since stumbling upon the works of Terry Callier or Solomon Burke have I been so impressed with a new discovery. It’s not just his voice, or even the lyrics, which as stated are inspired, it is his phrasing, his delivery. Smooth and easy crooning, holding at bay… a night falling into day. It’s a very relaxed delivery, crooning to you, as the stars… dim.

Melancholy. That’s the word, there is a vein of melancholy in Gregory Porter’s Grammy acclaimed vocals, but melancholy that is tempered by a fervent romanticism. This is timeless music, as valid for an audience of 1920 as it will be for an audience of 2020.

This is today’s MUST BUY, not just the CD of the day, but a CD to enjoy from first song to last for far longer than a day. An essential CD.

In an age of Itunes when everyone is satisfied with listening to the distant echoes of music (mp3s) this is a CD that will prompt you to invest in, that nearly extinct device, a portable CD player.

However, it is the 21st century so thankfully we have alternatives to just having a portable CD player. You can, for a little more, buy a simple media tablet about the same size and weight as a portable CD player, but that allows you to play your MP3 cd-rs and cd-rws (as much as I rail against MP3 for music, for audio books or Old Time Radio it works just fine) as well as view DVDs! That folks is what we call… a win/win!

Price both the CD and a good portable media player-tablet, at the links below. You’ll be glad… for both.

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Liquid Spirit CD

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Coby TFDVD7009 7-Inch Portable DVD/CD/MP3 Player, Black – nifty portable media tablet… now it appears Coby Electronics has gone the way of the dodo, so you may want to pick up these low cost DVD/CD/media tablets while you can.

Enjoy the links. And if you purchase through the links, I want to let you know it is always appreciated, and helps keep this Blog going. Thanks and enjoy the items!!!

And for those looking to catch Gregory Porter in concert, he has a pretty lively 2014 touring schedule, He’s currently tearing through Europe, but has a few stateside stops as well, to include, PA, New orleans, Colorado, DC, and a few more. View the whole schedule here!

RATING THE SEASONS : The Best Television of All Time – Alfred Hitchcock’s THE GLASS EYE

“The loneliness… the desolation of her life, were beyond belief. For she herself was unaware of how lonely and desolate it really was.”

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And with that line, we are introduced to one of two great ventriloquist themed episodes from the original 1950s run of ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, namely 1957’s THE GLASS EYE.

Starring the great Jessica Tandy and narrated by an extremely young, pre-Star Trek William Shatner, it is a shining example of that currently extinct format, the 30 minute dramatic anthology. These are tales that have been much retold in the 6 decades since their inception, but arguably never better than in these original shows.

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The endings naturally are hard-pressed to surprise a jaded 21st century audience that grew up on 4th and 5th generation tawdry knockoffs, but knowing where the story is going does not change the masterful solemnity in which these tales are told (written by the prolific and justifiably acclaimed Stirling Silliphant).

This episode in particular, poetically directed by the stellar Robert Stevens, almost 6 decades after its making; remains an excellent way to pass 25 minutes. Grade: Imminently Re-watchable.

Get this Emmy Winning episode and the rest of season 3 here:
Alfred Hitchcock Presents – Season Three

Art Book of the Day: GRAPHISTES WORLD ARTBOOK 01! CONTEST– Win this Book!

This is a review of the GRAPHISTES WORLD ARTBOOK 01, subtitled BOOK OF CREATION, it is published by Oracom Editions and compiles selected artwork from a French on-line artists collective.

First impressions, presentation. It’s a sizable SC book at 11″ x 9″, and feels substantial at 220+ pages. Nice striking cover image, on a nice pull out gate-fold cover. It’s a matte type paper stock on both the cover and the interior pages, and utilizes a sewn binding (initially had thought it was glued, but is a sewn binding. Pretty spiffy for a soft-cover.).

The Matte paper stock, I can appreciate its use on the darkly illustrated cover to help minimize finger-prints, however on the interior pages I’m not a fan of it, as I think a gloss paper stock would have better worked to showcase the images on the interior. I’ll go into that in more detail in a bit,

Now getting into the content, the actual images themselves, there’s more than a bit of crossover in terms of style and theme and subject. The images are mostly computer generated imagery, a lot of video game like landscapes. Much of it is a bit dark for me, in terms of actual brightness not content. I think this is the printing job, rather than the images. Because the images viewed on-line look great (as in the ones I post with this blog), but in the actual book the images appear muddy and un-dynamic.

It may be what the artists are going for, but I’m inclined to think it’s printed a bit dark. So that is where a glossier, brighter, higher contrast interior paper stock could have helped the images come alive, and not fade into the background as much.

It’s definitely a preference argument, but generally I feel glossy paper works much better for art books, and that this particular art-book, because the images are so dark, would have benefited from a higher-contrast glossy paper stock.

Mainly because the dark muted images, lots of purples on blacks, one after another tends to reinforce the need for a more varied palette. The detail in the images just get lost. There are a lot of images I think I would like, if I could see the detail in the images.

But just when you think the similarity is getting to you, you turn the page and there is a burst of artistry and an unexpected, thematically intriguing image to bring you back into the book.

Among such standouts are [the creator or studios nickname is listed with the image, but the table of contents gives their full name] :

28162 has a lush and beautiful and vibrant image with PINK DREAM and SANS UN DEFAUT

Kiko has a wonderful, futuristic landscape scene with IN THE MORNING, but I do think it looks a bit dark, muddy

Mr. Xerty has a nice collage like work with JING

Pim does the lovely LIGHT PULSE

3mmi Design has several intriguing images with DELIVRANCE and TONIGHT IN HELL

Maliciarosenoire offers us the nicely composed INCERTAIN

Graphic Traveling bring us the imaginative NYX

Grivetart’s NEW YORK 2030 and EXPLORERS are both quite excellent

Graphaddict’s offers us the well composed and lit SPACE MOUNTAINS

Pezcado’s MAINS DANS LA MAIN is quite ingenious

BeautifulReal brings us the sumptuous and strange LAST TRAVEL

KarimDesign’s offers us the attention getting LAST BREATH

Aiven’s 5 PAR is likewise imaginative and compelling

Todavia’s DEATH OF A SIREN

Lord K’s POLAR SUMMER

So these are some of the ones that stand out, and make the book well worth a viewing, despite my issues with the printing. Beyond the brief French introduction, the book consists of all images, so it can be enjoyed by all. Final Grade: B-.

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CONTEST! WIN THIS BOOK!

This book isn’t currently available on Amazon US, but is available from Amazon UK and Amazon FR. It’s like $50.

But wait a minute! For being a Heroic times follower, I’ll tell you how you can win it for free.

It’s really, really easy to win this review copy they sent me.

Be the 15th person (follower, you have to be a follower of this blog)to comment on this post, you win the book.

Put contest in the comment, include your email address so I can get in touch with you. Comments do not get posted if you put contest in it, and they come right to me.

The 15th person, maximum of 3 attempts per person and consecutive attempts not counted. 15th person (follower) to leave a comment saying “you want this book and love Heroic Times”… wins the book.

Pretty simple.

Okay, that’s all folks. Go hug somebody.

What I am Reading: Saturday Selections

Well I got up with the sun still low in the horizon, I could see it from my window, and I grabbed a passel of books and my laptop, parked my chair where the sun would hit it, and set out to combine reading with updating this blog.

So what was on my read list?

Imaro
I’m rereading Charles Saunder’s IMARO VOL I. I’m on chapter one, great read.

The Spider Chronicles SC (New Printing)
I’m reading for the first time the 2007 Moonstone Anthology THE SPIDER CHRONICLES edited by Joe Gentile.  It consists of 19 short stories by some great writers. Among them Steve Englehart, Chuck Dixon, Martin Powell, Ron Fortier and others.

Reading the fun introduction by Comic Book legend Denny O’Neil.  And the first story, Martin Powell’s CITY OF THE MELTING DEAD, takes you right into the action, with a very cinematic tale of the Master of Men.

The Spider: City of Doom (Spider (Baen Books))
Continuing the Spider love, a pulp character I was not familiar with (beyond reference to him as a poor man’s Shadow) I also picked up the 2009 Baen publishing paperback THE SPIDER: CITY OF DOOM.  It’s actually a 600 page paperback omnibus, that is comprised of three Spider novels, namely: THE CITY DESTROYER, THE COUNCIL OF EVIL and THE FACELESS ONE, written by Norvell Page. I had some trepidation going into these novels based on some reviews on Norvell Page’s writing, but I’ve decided to see for myself. So wish me luck. :)

“If you’ve read any of Norvell Page’s Spider series, you recall he took what was meant to be a simple imitation of the Shadow and immediately swerved left to careen through Crazy Town with it. Those stories are so over the top that I used to put them down sometimes for a “What the hell” moment…. it’s difficult to overstate how whacky and exciting they are. On the other hand, don’t expect a neat tidy resolution at the end. This isn’t Ellery Queen, where every detail fits together perfectly. Page apparently made it up as he went, starting plot threads he completely forgot and taking off in different directions halfway through. You’d have to read the stories to fully understand what I mean, but reading a Norvell Page Spider story is like being in a car hurtling down a mountainside in the wintertime, the brakes out and the driver unconscious and some sort of large animal growling in the seat behind you. That’s THE SPIDER.”— Dr. Hermes Live Journal

Alan Moore’s Neonomicon
I also picked up the graphic novel NEONOMICON by Alan Moore, Jacen Burrows, and Antony Johnston (yet once again, I’ve been hoodwinked by ‘positive’ Amazon reviews, by reviewers with no taste or sense). 

It’s something I’m immediately sorry I bought. Mainly because it starts off with the exceedingly unpleasant, needlessly slur and epitaph laden, and pretty poorly written THE COURTYARD by Antony Johnston off of a Moore story/script. I’m not really interested in listening to a bigoted sob go on endlessly (the protagonist of the book), if that’s my thing I’d just listen to Fox news all the time. :). Also while I appreciate publisher Avatar bringing us esoteric and adult books, their art leaves a bit to be desired. I’m not a fan of their artists, in this case that would be Jacen Burrows.

So yeah, add a story I don’t like with art I don’t like, and this equals me not being a fan of THE COURTYARD at all. The fact that THE COURTYARD takes up half the book, means by the time I get to the NEONOMICON story, I’m so soured on the book I just don’t care. But I drag myself through it and you know what, I’m sorry I wasted the effort. A lot has been made of the sex, and violence and racism, yada yada yada. But really the book is defined by two words I had hoped not to associate with Alan Moore… boring and stupid.

Being a fan of much of Moore’s 80s and 90s work (even into the 2000s, I think his FROM HELL is one of his best works, right up there with WATCHMEN), it gives me no pleasure to say the following. Moore’s NEONOMICON, his love letter to HP Love craft, is just inane, pathetic writing from a writer who had been one of the best. And I’ve lost all respect for The Bram Stoker committee for giving an award to this title. Best Graphic Novel of the year?!! Did they just see the names Moore and Lovecraft, and decide this must be literary? Are you on Crack?! What a load of crap! NEONOMICON comes across as the bland, pedestrian work of a hack. And that’s a shame to have to say. But it’s the gospel. It’s not worth buying people, it is not even worth renting. This book is getting returned.

Silent Hill: Past Life
Now a graphic novel I’m reading that I do like quite a bit is SILENT HILL PAST LIFE from a company called IDW that is just exploding onto the comics/graphic novel scene. Written by Tom Waltz the story is capable but the selling point is the sublime art by Menton 3. It’s very reminiscent of the multi-media effects that David Mack is known for. Few pages in and very happy with the book so far.

Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes
And finally one I’m several chapters into is Andrew E.C. Gaska’s CONSPIRACY OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Initially when I ordered this book I thought I was getting a graphic novel, and was a bit put off to discover this was a prose novel, with spot and occasional full page illustrations.

But that reluctance was short lived once I started reading it. Gaska’s CONSPIRACY OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is GREAT!! I’m not even a Planet of the Apes fan, but was just enthralled by Gaska’s engrossing re-imagining of this well known story. I should finish it today, as it will probably take precedence over everything else.

One more thing on this book from publisher Archaia Press, it comes with a beautiful slipcover by living legend Jim Steranko, but once you take off that slipcover, underneath is this sumptuous faux leather book, with gorgeous patining and typography. Call me a twisted bibliophile but the feel of this book is grand. It feels like… luxury. Try and get that aesthetic from your digital book. :). This is definitely a writer to watch.

So that’s what I’ve been reading this bright Saturday. What about you gals and guys? Feel free to leave comments about your recommended reads today. Thanks!!

p.s. If you like the books I mention and are interested in purchasing, definitely use the handy-dandy links provided. Come’on guys I know how many of you view these posts, and it’s a good number, however people clicking on the links has dropped a bit, even as the number of viewers has increased. So gals and guys support the blog, by buying stuff you were intending to buy anyhow. Using the links makes a huge difference, and is a win-win situation for everyone. So Thanks in advance! :)

PODCAST OF THE DAY: Neil Gaiman’s THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS

“It is the curse of age, that all things are reflections of other things.”
–THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS

You want to listen to something that is as beautiful as it is stunning, then listen to Neil Gaiman’s award winning THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS as read by Richard Smith here, and be moved as you listen to a lyric tale of loss begun and loss ended.

It’s slow and languid and lovely. Starts at 12 minutes 40 seconds.

Artwork by Richard Wagner

Presented by SFF Audio and Star Ship Sofa.


“I take no joy in killing. No man should, and no woman. Sometimes death is necessary, but it is always an evil thing.”
— THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS

MOVIE REVIEW: RED TAILS! I was wrong! Go see this movie now!

I just returned from seeing RED TAILS, a movie I had great qualms about, after just seeing the trailer, and specifically regarding the leads of Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr.

I didn’t think they could bring the gravitas necessary to these pivotal roles.

I was absolutely wrong.

There is no other way to say it. Both Cuba Gooding Jr and Terrence Howard nailed their respective roles, giving great performances. As does the whole cast.

I’ll go into details later, but suffice to say it’s the first great movie of 2012. From direction, to acting, to editing, to special effects, to script, the movie fired on all cylinders.

Just a phenomenal movie, that I’m already planning to see in theaters again in the next couple of days.

And evidently I’m not alone. When I went to buy my tickets, the girl at the counter told me ‘You might want to get a seat now, because it has been selling out all weekend’.

And after seeing it, I can see why.

And the audience was completely into it from first frame to last. Just accomplished film-making and a great flick.

Easy grade of A.

Recent Reads: FLETCHER HANKS- I SHALL DESTROY ALL THE CIVILIZED PLANETS

Book Review

FLETCHER HANKS- I SHALL DESTROY ALL THE CIVILIZED PLANETS edited by Paul Karasik

As a collector I’m always glad when things get preserved, or rediscovered. So Paul Karasik doing his part to bring us a forgotten artist and his work…namely the strips of Fletcher Hanks… I can appreciate that.

That said where Paul Karasik sees something brilliant, I see something, that while of its time, even for its time is very poor in terms of both art and story. Basically the same story retold in variation after variation. I’ve seen him referred to as the ‘Ed Wood’ of comics, and I think that moniker is apt.

A little bit of Fletcher Hanks’ cartoon strips goes a long way.

First story is mildly interesting just for how absurd it is, by the fifth story whatever crude charm Fletcher Hanks’ STARDUST and various other strips have, definitely has worn out its welcome. It looks and reads like the work of a juvenile, similar to the popular web-comic AXE COP (written by a young child, and drawn impressively by his older brother. AXE COP exhibits that irrational juxtaposition of extremes. The funny thing is AXE COP is the far more interesting, and innovative, and yes… mature and imaginative work. AXE COP is actually good as opposed to STARDUST which quickly feels… redundant).

The main problem with Fletcher Hanks’ work is it doesn’t grow… at all. There is no progression to it. It very much is the same character, doing the same thing, in pretty much the same way, in each story. There is something… stunted in the work, reading it back to back like this. Even comparing it to its contemporaries such as Gardner Fox’s work on the golden age FLASH, Hanks’ work pales in comparison. Fox’s work even today holds up as fun and enjoyable, not so Hanks.

Indeed the most interesting thing about the book is the after-word, where Karasik recounts his meeting with Hank’s son… Fletcher Hanks Jr. It paints a singular picture of Fletcher Hanks as a drunk, wife and child beating monster, and his work as what it was… a paycheck, grabbing on and replicating, as best he could, the popular strip themes of the day.

So kudos for collecting this work, because it should exist out there for those interested. Eisner winning book I believe, so some considered it… worthy. However for me, I SHALL DESTROY ALL THE CIVILIZED PLANETS is something to read via your library, but not to keep or purchase. No re-readability value. So borrow if you’re interested in kooky early super-hero/comic strip art, and then decide if you think it’s worth buying. My vote is no.

Far more interesting is the story of Fletcher Hanks’ son, Fletcher Hanks Jr, recently deceased. You can go to his web-page, that is still up as of this writing, and at the bottom he mentions the book I SHALL DESTROY ALL THE CIVILIZED PLANETS.

Fletcher Hanks Jr webpage

I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets!

Now if you want an example of good golden age comics, click on the below:

The Golden Age Flash Archives, Vol. 1 (DC Archive Editions)