FLASH GORGON Trilogy Update

Quick update on the FLASH GORDON Trilogy:

Just finished all three of the Flash Gordon serials. While I praised the first one FLASH GORDON (from 1936, renamed FLASH GORDON SPACE SOLDIERS), and was kind of luke-warm on the sequels (1938, 1940), I have to say re-watching the last two, they are rocky (dressed as Robin Hood’s Merry men in a Space Opera?? Really?), but you get past the shaky openings and they really get pretty darn good. Well the third one gets pretty darn good, the comedy bits of the 2nd one, FLASH GORDON CONQUERS MARS still do not work for me, and it is the weakest of the trilogy, lacking the sexiness or action/intensity of either the first one or the third one, FLASH GORDON CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE.

But that last one, FLASH GORDON CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE, really builds to a kick-ass finale, every bit as good as the first film and a fitting end to the trilogy. A highly recommended box-set!

Flash Gordon: Box Set (Space Soldiers/Flash Gordon’s Trip To Mars/Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe) (3DVD)

WHAT IS HOT and WHAT’s NOT on TV for FALL 2012!!

I don’t have cable. I jumped off the band wagon years ago, and really have not been seriously tempted to jump back on. I’m content with waiting for products to hit DVD, and in the interim there are a lot of great shows out there on DVD to try.

I did that with both season 5 and season 6 of Doctor Who. Watching the shows over a few nights rather than the dubious experience of lengthy waits over several months, to invest in a story that may end with a whimper rather than a bang.

Which is how I tended to feel about Moffat’s Dr. Who seasons. While an imaginative and talented writer of “done in one” episodes or two parters, as a season wide story arc writer, his work tends to be swiss-cheese and disappointing.

So the ability to find that out by renting the DVDs over a couple nights, rather than an investment of months of ‘live’ watching, suits the way I like to view seasons.

That said for those of you who do watch TV/cable here are the shows I think you should be watching this fall, ones I’m intrigued in picking up when they hit DVD.

WHAT’S HOT

LAST RESORT on ABC- Why I’m interested? 1/Stars Andre Braugher of HOMICIDE fame. 2/Premise of a naval commander and his sub crew hunted for refusing to commit mass murder, has me incredibly intrigued. 3/One of the few dramas/genre/thrillers on an increasingly whites only TV shows, that has multiple actors of color

TREME- I’ve heard much about this Orlean’s based show. So look forward to catching up with it on DVD.

DOCTOR WHO- While I think Moffat should stick to done and one episodes or 2parters, and give up his attempt to outdo Russell T. Davies with big elaborate universe ending story arcs (Note to Moffat…, you may be a more imaginative writer than Russell, he is the better story arc guy. And your tenure is suffering in an attempt to outdo Davies rather than play to your strengths.

Particularly Moffat’s take leaves a lot to be desired. It gets old, the elaborate universe ending story arcs and over-hyping the Doctor into a God like protagonist. It just reads as bs and failed one-upmanship, and leaving your character no place to go or grow to. It tends to get boring, and while it’s fantasy and some level of inconsistency is inherent, season 5 and 6 have plotholes you can drive a truck through), I am interested in seeing where Season 7 takes the show. If Moffat would play to his strengths, smaller, intimate, done-in-one stories or two parters… the show could be fantastic.

WHAT’S NOT
ELEMENTARY- Sherlock Holmes is a recovering smart-alec drunk, Watson is his Asian female Bodyguard and Watcher, and the setting is New York. Really?!! I’m not a huge fan of the BBC SHERLOCK series, it’s okay, I just don’t think the writing is always up to the strong acting and direction, so my objection to ELEMENTARY has nothing to do with that BBC show. The more great shows the better. My objection is, if you’re going to change everything about it that is Sherlock Holmes, why even call the character Sherlock Holmes? I have no interest in seeing it, the premise just sounds insipid. However I’m willing to be proven wrong. If it makes it a full season and people are raving about it I’ll pick up the DVD, but otherwise this goes in the “What were they thinking’ trash pile.

That’s all for now! Feel free to leave your own recommendations, comments!

DVD REVIEW: DOCTOR WHO – THE HAND OF FEAR aka the SEXIEST DR WHO Villain?!!!?

Well that’s a strange heading for a blog post I admit, but I was re-watching the 1976 episode of DOCTOR WHO: THE HAND OF FEAR, and man is this a ‘rocking’ episode of Doctor Who!

Okay the following contains spoilers for the episode (as well as a smattering of risque adult themed humor :)), now you regular readers know I typically avoid spoilers like the plague, but there is no way to really sell this episode and not describe its reveals. And it is still a great episode, even when you know what is coming.

However, jump to the last paragraph if you want to avoid any spoilers (or avoid tasteless humor :)).

For the rest of you… into the mystery.

This 4 part episode works in large part because of the villain of Eldrad played by Judith Paris. A silicone rock based creature who is one of the first scifi gender-bending characters I’m aware of. This alien menace starts out off camera as a dude, becomes a dudette, and in the final episode returns to a dude form. It’s probably just as well that I didn’t see the whole serial as a kid, as my young mind may not have been able to compute all that. But as an adult I can appreciate the entire serial.

But yeah the first three episodes, and much of the fourth are just great, and again largely it’s because the villain of Eldrad is such a rich and complex character. Powerful, a bit violent, but also a bit vulnerable, it’s just a well written part, that Judith Paris I thought performed the heck out of.

It didn’t hurt at all that she was drop-dead gorgeous. Between her and Catwoman in the Adam West Batman reruns… I knew puberty had arrived. :)

Wait did I say that out loud?!!

What can I say that woman was frigging gorgeous. Okay there were slight problems, she was an alien menace, and she was made out of rock. Okay I see that being a minor hiccup, but hand me my ‘Ben Grimm’ condoms and cry ‘Clobbering Time!’, and I’m good.

(Heh, Heh! That joke is only for fans of the FF. Yes, I am evil! :) )

Okay getting my mind out of the gutter (I’m telling you, I’m going to find that costume and put my girlfriend in it— wait… did I say THAT out loud?!! DOH!!) it’s just a great 4 part storyline, right up till the last episode, when Judith Paris’ Eldrad gives way to a male version.

Now, I’m not a sexist, and I’m not going to hate on the rock dude villain, because he’s a dude, but I am going to hate on him because… he is effing rubbish! Eldrad turns from a complex, intriguing, nuanced character, to this blustering, shouting, scenery chewing, mustache twirling stock villain… yeah.. it is just disappointing; a glaring combination of bad writing, and horrendously bad over acting.

But thankfully the screen-time of the male Eldrad is brief, and the episode ends on one of the pivotal scenes between the Doctor and his companion, Sarah Jane Smith. It was a good four part-er that really showed how well these two work together and what they mean to each other, which made the ending all the more… bitter-sweet.

All in all it is not a perfect episode of Doctor Who, largely because of dropping the ball with the demise of Eldrad, but that aside it’s a beautifully directed, and well performed episode that comes highly recommended. Plus the DVD offers a commentary with the cast, so it’s worth getting for that alone. Grade: B/B+.

Doctor Who: The Hand of Fear (Story 87)

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RATING THE DOCTORS: On William Hartnell THE FIRST DOCTOR & the First Season! 1963-1964!

This heat is kicking the proverbial posterior.

But hey I’m not complaining, I’ll take heat over cold, any day.

But you guys didn’t come here to hear weather talk, onto this installment’s insanity.

I’ve seen all 30+ seasons of Doctor Who, including the recreations (largely still shots and the audio recording of the shows) that exists through the hard work of dedicated fans, who preserved these shows for the love, when the suits couldn’t see any monetary value or re-watchability to these shows and could not delete the tapes fast enough.

It’s why I’ll side with the so-called file-sharer or collector or peer to peer proponent who does it for the love, over suits any day. Because I KNOW how much of our history (television shows, radio shows, silent and sound films, books, manuscripts) still exists not because of the money grubbing corporation who would (and have) let everything burn if they couldn’t make a penny off of it; but exists because of the dedicated fan and collector.

I’ve said that before, but it bears, particularly in our current environment, constant repeating. That the people who profit off a thing, are not the people that should be trusted with the preservation of that thing. And history bears out, that it’s necessary to have the dedicated collector out there doing for the love, what corporations will fail to do in the absence of monetary incentive.

Our cultural history owes much to the dedicated collector, that are being criminalized by the ‘Johnny-come-lately’ corporations, who have finally wised up to the fact that… people are interested in this old stuff.

Case in point, I still await official SPENSER FOR HIRE DvDs, or the full seasons of the live-action ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY that have been unavailable for over 20 years, and these things should not be sequestered away until some suit can find a way to profit off of them. In the absence of someone making them available, the collector is there to make them available. So thanks to great collectors… there’s a rumor that I may actually own both series :).

And if that rumor is true, I’ll hold onto those collector DVDs, at least until such time as the studios get off their ass, and release official high quality versions/DVDs, which I will be more than happy to support/purchase. But in the interim… to all the suits/companies out there, support and work with fans/collectors… they are the heart of your business. And more than that, they are the heart of the preservation of culture and art and history… in the absence of business. Give them their due.

Okay, off my soap box.

*****

The reason I got on that soap box is because, I have been rewatching Doctor Who, and much of that series has been lost through corporate stupidity and short-sightedness, but almost all of it has been preserved and recreated, even the pretty much devastated Patrick Troughton years (which I’m currently re-watching), and you can not watch those shows without being extremely mindful and extremely thankful, for the fans and collectors, who preserved those shows to the best of their ability.

I mean, now, today the BBC gives a damn about Doctor Who, because the show is making them a boatload of money, but you have to care about preserving culture and art… even in the absence of money, and that is what collectors do.

So yes, I’m thankful that we have shows such as:

William Hartnell’s four seasons as the doctor.

He’s remembered, unfairly I think, for flubbing his lines. However, what he should be remembered for is being the man who set the template, the tone, and the consummate “play this for real” passion that allowed the show to be a success.

Think about it, if Hartnell or those first companions did not make the premise work, the show would have been canceled in that first season and NO ONE would today be talking about Doctor Who.

Patrick Troughton gets a lot of praise for ‘saving’ Dr. Who, when it became necessary to replace Hartnell due to his deteriorating condition.

For continuing Doctor Who, I would agree, but for saving it? … no. The show would have gone on with or without Troughton. It was that popular. Hartnell had help make it that popular.

Don’t get me wrong, Troughton was a great actor and he made a fantastic 2nd Doctor, and the very, unavoidable medical issues with Hartnell pushed the writers and producers into coming up with one of the most brilliant and iconic ways to keep the series going… ie the idea of ‘Regeneration’.

I mean that idea, that was born under pressure and calamity and potential cancellation, remains one of the greatest ‘hail marys’ of television history, as can be seen by a whole new generation, wowing to the adventures of yet another whole new Doctor.

But had Hartnell and crew, not made DOCTOR WHO a success out the gate, no one would have been pressed to try and keep the show alive. They would have done the normal thing, canceled the show and put something else on, and DOCTOR WHO becomes, like many shows of the time, a forgotten footnote.

But Hartnell was a GREAT Doctor Who, an iconic Doctor Who, who loved and championed the show. And he did four seasons of the series, back when the workload was a YEAR ROUND weekly series, basically performing the shows in a live-run, like a play, performed beginning to end, no time for retakes, you hit the mark at the beginning of two hours, and at the end of two hours, they filmed the entire show… JUST LIKE YOU SEE IT AIRED!

With filmed segments cut in on queue, and effects and sound done live in camera….the amount of pressure and work, is beyond ANYTHING that television actors, or indeed directors, editors, crew are doing today. It was the work of master actors and crew, to basically have to learn and crank out a play a week, under budget restrictions and time restrictions that can only be called… crushing.

And William Hartnell did this. For going on four Years, largely without vacation, with seasons FAR LONGER than the laughably short seasons the BBC has today… William Hartnell did this. While suffering with what today we would call early signs of Dementia or Alzheimers.

*****

For nearly four years he bled and sweated and carried Doctor Who, when his younger companions were folding left and right under the pressures and issues of a financially challenged, somewhat ghettoized show. Hartnell’s tenure as the Doctor saw him with the most companions (A whopping TEN companions. And every departure cut Hartnell like a knife, who saw the show as a familial thing), and having to ride the most tumultuous time in the history of the show, when it was figuring out, on a weekly basis, what it was, and who the characters were.

That he was able to play the series as long as he did, when suffering from a condition known to cripple, says everything about the nature of Hartnell’s professionalism, his “the show must go on” ethic. I just think a lot of people focus on the occasional flubs, when he was given tons of gobblydeggok to say, and he made it work. I don’t know of any actors today, in their full health and prime, who could have done week in and week out what Hartnell did, producing basically live televison in a fantastic setting.

Which is far more difficult than just soaps, because you have the additional hassle of effects and costumes and elaborate monsters and cut in scenes, and hitting marks, it’s really a big budget type cinematic production, done on a shoe-string budget and with no retakes and no time, and everything music, etc… done in camera.

Actors today would piss themselves.

I just have a tremendous amount of respect for Hartnell as a performer, and he could really perform and act and emote, and bring it when he needed to… which more often than not… was always. Add to all of that he also had some of the best episodes under his tenure, namely:

SEASON I 1963-1964

AN UNEARTHLY CHILD- PILOT- It does everything a first episode needs to do. Incredibly ambitious, for the time. A time ship, bigger on the inside than the outside, and looks like a simple police phonebox. It is just a genius conceit, even 50 years later. GRADE: B+.

100,000 BC- 3 episodes- It’s not a great episode by today’s standards but it is a necessary one, as they are still defining the Doctor, and his crew of travelers. And it is pretty brutal for a kid’s program. GRADE: B-/C+.

THE DALEKS by Terry Nation, directed by Christopher Barry and Richard Martin- 7 episodes- Terry Nation’s script and idea, fleshed out and realized, made concrete by the producers, and designers and voice actors, resulted in an immediate worldwide sensation… The Daleks. And the story, is quite good, quite ambitious, though of course hampered by the budgets and limitations of the time.

It is a great intro to one of the great iconic creations of television history. The serial falls apart in the last episode, the whole “live” thing, the director just couldn’t pull it all together, so it’s a bit of a mess. But the serial is strongly recommended in-spite of that; and it highlights, the rare times when it goes wrong, just how masterful the cast and crew was, to enable it to go right… most of the time. GRADE: B.

INSIDE THE SPACESHIP aka The Edge of Destruction- 2 episodes- This is another example of them not really having the time to make the story come across, it’s a bit of a confused mess. But it’s an intriguing watch, and is available with a nice commentary with the actors. The commentary worth the price of admission.

Marco Polo- seven episodes- A recreated episode, stills and audio, watched this recently it’s quite good. From the few shots of sets in color, it was quite an elaborate period piece.

The Keys of Marinus- 6 Episodes- Terry Nation returns, this is a great, exciting serial. Even with a bit of implied rape. Terry Nation always wrote excellent scripts that explored not only man against the alien, and man against nature, but far more interestingly man against man. His scripts and the crews performance transcends dodgy sets and questionable effects. GRADE: B+.

The Aztecs- 4 episodes – One of the best Doctor Who stories! This historical episode, sports great acting, great sets, and a great story. And wonderful direction. This is available with commentary, and I highly recommend it. One of my favorites. GRADE: A+.

THE SENSORITES- 6 episodes- This is one of the most successful of the scifi themed serials (the first season nearly equally divided between the historical episodes and the scifi/fantasy episodes) for season I. As it allowed some growth for the character of Susan, and real thrills for the rest of the characters. Lots of fun. Grade: B/B+.

THE REIGN OF TERROR- 5 episodes- This Dennis Spooner penned tale is quite enjoyable. The last two episodes are recreations (stills, audio) but is perfectly understandable and builds to a fun end. GRADE: B.

Those are my grades for season #1. Counting the pilot, Thirty eight weekly episodes!!! Wow! Episodes I didn’t grade are worth a look, for historical reasons, but may not be the show at its best.

Stay tuned for upcoming season reviews!

Doctor Who: The Beginning (An Unearthy Child / The Daleks / The Edge of Destruction)

Doctor Who – The Aztecs (Story 6)

WEDNESDAYS WORDS

WEDNESDAYS WORDS is a new weekly installment that ranks the most interesting, intriguing books of the week (old, new, reissues, digital, etc). Contributors represent a variety of genres and sources. Each book includes Title and publisher blurb.

Star Trek USS Enterprise Original Series Crew James T Kirk, Spock, Bones, Uhura & Chekov T-Shirt

Yes, I’m kicking this off with one non-book item just cause I thought it was pretty awesome looking. :). Okay, now onto the books!


Night Watch
Publication Date: July 26, 2006
The Night Watch series has caused a sensation never before seen in Russia — its popularity is frenzied and unprecedented, and driven by a truly great, epic story. In 2005 Fox Searchlight announced it had acquired the Russian film adaptation for an American release. Interest in the books here is now set to reach a fever pitch.

Set in modern day Moscow, Night Watch is a world as elaborate and imaginative as Tolkien or the best Asimov. Living among us are the “Others,” an ancient race of humans with supernatural powers who swear allegiance to either the Dark or the Light. A thousand-year treaty has maintained the balance of power, and the two sides coexist in an uneasy truce. But an ancient prophecy decrees that one supreme “Other” will rise up and tip the balance, plunging the world into a catastrophic war between the Dark and the Light. When a young boy with extraordinary powers emerges, fulfilling the first half of the prophecy, will the forces of the Light be able to keep the Dark from corrupting the boy and destroying the world?

An extraordinary translation from the Russian by noted translator Andrew Bromfield, this first English language edition of Night Watch is a chilling, engrossing read certain to reward those waiting in anticipation of its arrival.

I caught a bit of the DVD, but not enough to really get a grasp of this 4 book Russian series. So interested enough to pick up the first book and give it a read.


Voyage: A Novel of 1896

Editorial Reviews
From Library Journal
Hayden’s wonderful 1976 novel is a historical page-turner with a social conscience. The book compares the treatment of the rich and poor as it juxtaposes the journeys of the pampered daughter of a shipping titan and the crew aboard one of her father’s hellish barks. (Classic Returns, LJ 11/15/99)
Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Back Cover
“Violent, colorful… you keep turning the pages to find out just what in the name of God is going to happen next.” –Boston Globe

“A book of savage beauty.” –Boston Herald American

“A rousing epic… Big, muscular, profane, cynical, romantic.” –Chicago Daily News

“A rare sort of sheer drive and vitality carries this novel… a raw fury about class distinctions and privileges… strangely refreshing in our blase age.” –New York Times Book Review

“A story of extraordinary richness and power… Sterling Hayden here proves himself a master novelist. His prose is vivid and brawny, his characters come to individual life… At once a magnificent epic of the sea and a dynamic portrait of turn-of-the-century America.” –Publishers Weekly

Painting With Light
Book Description
Publication Date: May 18, 1995
Few cinematographers have had as decisive an impact on the cinematic medium as John Alton. Best known for his highly stylized film noir classics T-Men, He Walked by Night, and The Big Combo, Alton earned a reputation during the 1940s and 1950s as one of Hollywood’s consummate craftsmen through his visual signature of crisp shadows and sculpted beams of light. No less renowned for his virtuoso color cinematography and deft appropriation of widescreen and Technicolor, he earned an Academy Award in 1951 for his work on the musical An American in Paris. First published in 1949, and long out of print since then, Painting With Light remains one of the few truly canonical statements on the art of motion picture photography, an unrivaled historical document on the workings of the postwar, American cinema. In simple, non-technical language, Alton explains the job of the cinematographer and explores how lighting, camera techniques, and choice of locations determine the visual mood of film. Todd McCarthy’s introduction, written especially for this edition, provides an overview of Alton’s biography and career and explores the influence of his work on contemporary cinematography.


Denim: From Cowboys to Catwalks: A Visual History of the World’s Most Legendary Fabric
Book Description
Publication Date: September 1, 2005
The story of denim is a tale rich in paradox. Cherished alike by cowboys and models, the fabric is at once a symbol of the counterculture and the raw material of a major industry. A simple fabric, dating back to 17th-century France, denim today is ubiquitous: Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood have pushed it into the forefront of high fashion; and Calvin Klein and Giorgio Armani have made it the basis for billion-dollar brands. This homage to the much-loved fabric delves deep into the archives to trace the origins and development of denim. It features rare pictures of icons wearing denim, like Marilyn Monroe and Steve McQueen, plus specially commissioned photos of rare and classic garments from the 1880s to the present day. It is complete with a glossary and a guide to valuable vintage items.

Even though like all of you I own denim clothes, I admit to until prepping for this post, being relatively ignorant of exactly what Denim was. I mean fabric content, is typically not on the foremost of my mind. I’m sure I picked up it was cotton in the many years of buying jeans, but if so only as background noise. With prepping for this post, it became actual consumed and recognized knowledge. So what is Denim? For those of you like me, ignorant of fabric content… Well, it’s a uniquely American popularized byproduct of the slave-trade it’s nothing more than an incredibly tough form of cotton weave. I admit to being intrigued enough, to want to learn more.


Eyes with Winged Thoughts: Poems and Photographs
From Booklist
Gordon Parks is remarkable: a Renaissance man who has mastered photography, filmmaking, and writing. The story of his life is certainly an incredible one, which explains why Parks has written a new memoir titled A Hungry Heart (2005). This collection of poems and photographs, however, will add yet another dimension to Parks’ life story. From the resonant words and lessons of his parents to meditations on current events–terrorism, the tsunami, the war in Iraq–the poems are candid snapshots of Parks’ emotional life. Words harmonize with landscape photographs and images of strangers walking through their lives without a sense of being observed. Transcending voyeurism, Parks’ photographs reveal vulnerabilities of the human experience with grace and compassion. After all, Parks understands vulnerability and willingly displays it in his writing. In his 90s and still driven to experience what the world has to offer, and to express his response to it, Gordon Parks is an inspiration to us all.– Janet St. John

Gordon Park’s was a renaissance man, in the highest definition of that word. Photographer, writer, musician, cowboy, director. And with his passing, the world lost one of the last adventurers, one of the last of a dying breed… called men. All his books, are highly recommended.


Face Forward
Amazon.com Review
“Makeup should be fun, not fascist,” celebrity makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin avers in Face Forward, his third book. One of the most adored stylists among fashionistas, entertainment divas, and high-society jet setters, Southern-born Aucoin arrived on the New York fashion scene in the early ’80s, a period he ridicules for its ’50s-era conservatism and McCarthyist us-against-them values. His career since has been motivated by the feel-good ideals of acceptance, diversity, and self-love, and the vain world of beauty has eagerly participated in his vision. While one may puzzle on how it is he finds fulfillment in an industry known for its superficiality and elitism, Aucoin’s words are nonetheless infectious and the touches of his brushes inspired.

Conceived as an exploration of the past, present, and future of beauty, Face Forward is an ingenious showcase of the transformative, creative possibilities of makeup, with portraits of everyone from Julia Roberts to Sharon Stone, Martha Stewart to his mother, Thelma. His crafted visages range from minimal-application makeovers of friends to elaborate re-creations of such Hollywood icons as Audrey Hepburn (Calista Flockhart), James Dean (Gwyneth Paltrow), and Veronica Lake (shockingly, Martha Stewart) and such pop-culture personalities as Cher (socialite Alexandra von Furstenberg) and Siouxsie Sioux (Winona Ryder). The final pages present his ideas for looks to come, such as “Explorer,” Mary J. Blige covered in eggplant body makeup with a rainbow of metallic eye shadows over her eyes and thickly glossed red lips; “Floralia,” a freckled Lucy Liu resembling a sprite from A Midsummer’s Night Dream; and “Venusian de Milo,” Sharon Stone as an orange-haired, one-breast-baring sci-fi femme fatale. Throughout, Aucoin augments an already colorful book with step-by-step instruction, chatty commentary on each look and model, and riffs on such topics as friendship, politics (he repeatedly applauds the Clinton Administration for embracing diversity in the ’90s), and the environment.

“Appreciating (even highlighting) individuality is one of the great things about makeup,” asserts Aucoin, and Face Forward is a dazzling testament to that belief. For those who see the fun of makeup and are eager to experiment with the virtually unlimited possibilities of it, this book is a boon. –Rebecca Wright –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Okay I admit this last one is an odd choice. But I love that cover, plus we all have women in our lives that we can give this book to as a present. :)


The WEDNESDAYS WORDS column is a new blog feature, appearing (you guessed it!) every Wednesday. Come back next week to see which books make the list!

If you’re a publisher, writer, or other creative representative looking to submit items for WEDNESDAYS WORDS, just leave a comment on this post with your email/contact info, comments don’t get posted they come right to me, and I’ll reach out to you with the snail mail details.

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Your helpful purchases through those links, generates much appreciated pennies to keep this blog running. Your feedback and support… just way cool, and way appreciated. Thanks!

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WEDNESDAYS WORDS

WEDNESDAYS WORDS is a new weekly installment that ranks the most interesting, intriguing books of the week (old, new, reissues, digital, etc). Contributors represent a variety of genres and sources. Each book includes Title and publisher blurb.

Dreams and Wonders: Stories from the Dawn of Modern Fantasy
by Mike Ashley (Paperback)
Dreams and Wonders: Stories from the Dawn of Modern Fantasy
Book Description
Publication Date: August 19, 2010
Original anthology of 23 tales samples some of the best modern fantasy literature from the 19th and early 20th centuries. It features writers who influenced J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and other master fantasists, including Andrew Lang, Kenneth Grahame, George MacDonald, Edith Nesbit, William Morris, and E. T. A. Hoffmann.


Body Painting: Masterpieces by Joanne Gair
by Joanne Gair (Hardcover)
Body Painting: Masterpieces by Joanne Gair
Book Description
Publication Date: January 12, 2010
Stunning works of art using the human body as the canvas. If ever there was a defining moment in a career, for renowned body-painting artist Joanne Gair it was painting “that suit” on Demi Moore for the cover of Vanity Fair. From swimsuits for Sports Illustrated or music videos with Madonna, Gair’s career allows us to see the human body transformed, creating unforgettable images. During a career spanning over 20 years, she has worked with Elle McPherson, Heidi Klum, Pamela Anderson, Rachel Hunter, and Molly Sims to name a few. Among the star photographers also included are Michel Comte, David LaChapelle, Annie Leibovitz, Herb Ritts, Howard Schatz, and Mark Seliger. Gair’s collaborations have resulted in thousands of extraordinary photographs which have made an impact on pop culture.

Braziliangels
by Joaquim Nabuco (Hardcover)
Braziliangels
Book Description
Publication Date: October 28, 2010
A rare opportunity to appreciate the incomparable beauty of BrazilÆs women in the equally striking environs of this tropical paradise. Photographer Joaquim NabucoÆs collection of nude art photos creates a lush, whimsical, and sensual landscape that revolves around the feminine, exotic, and vibrant character of these women. From beaches, forests, mountains, and rivers to BrazilÆs big cities and historical sites, Nabuco masterfully frames his subjects, while eliciting a rich and radiant response from them before capturing his images. The themes revealed by these art nudes tells a story of BrazilÆs culture and the angels who grace its natural beauty.

Drawn to Sin by Daniel Kiessler
by Daniel Kiessler (Paperback)
Drawn to Sin by Daniel Kiessler


Dark Tower Omnibus
by Stephen King (Hardcover)
Dark Tower Omnibus
Book Description
Publication Date: September 21, 2011
The ultimate Dark Tower collection! An oversized hardcover collecting the first five volumes of Marvel’s Dark Tower series plus Dark Tower Companion, a separate volume of bonus material, both packaged in a deluxe slipcase!

DARK TOWER OMNIBUS

“The Man in Black fled across the desert…and the gunslinger followed.” With those words from a short story published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Stephen King launched one of the most seminal characters in his lifetime of writing into a destiny fraught with danger, death, triumph and loss. In the almost thirty years since that momentous occasion, King introduced millions of readers to the densely textured realm of Mid-World through his magnum opus, the Dark Tower series of novels. King joined with Marvel in 2007 to bring his masterwork of fantasy to a new generation of readers. Adding stunning new textures to the mythos of Roland and Mid-World for four years, the initial arc of King and Marvel’s union is now complete, and the entire run is collected here. Collecting DARK TOWER: THE GUNSLINGER BORN #1-7, THE LONG ROAD HOME #1-5, TREACHERY #1-6, SORCERER #1, THE FALL OF GILEAD #1-6 and THE BATTLE OF JERICHO HILL #1-5. 296 PGS

Dark Tower Omnibus Companion

Chock full of essential short stories, bonus material and apocrypha, this volume is a must-read for Stephen King enthusiasts. Three guidebooks overseen by Dark Tower: A Concordance author Robin Furth unlock the many secrets of Roland Deschain, the Gunslingers, Gilead and the dark forces of Farson – bringing readers greater insight into the people, places and things of Mid-World. And supplemental material from the first thirty issues of Marvel’s Dark Tower series shed even more light on King’s epic – with short stories by Furth, and a tour through artists Jae Lee and Richard Isanove’s sketchbooks, and more! Collecting DARK TOWER: GUNSLINGER’S GUIDEBOOK, END-WORLD ALMANAC and GUIDE TO GILEAD; MARVEL SPOTLIGHT: DARK TOWER; and material from DARK TOWER: THE GUNSLINGER BORN #1-7, THE LONG ROAD HOME #1-5, TREACHERY #1-6, SORCERER #1, THE FALL OF GILEAD #1-6 and THE BATTLE OF JERICHO HILL #1-5. 600 PGS.

FANTASTIC ART OF ARTHUR SUYDAM HC
by T.W. French (Hardcover)
FANTASTIC ART OF ARTHUR SUYDAM HC

Transient Man
by Justin Coro Kaufman (Hardcover)
Transient Man


The Sixth Gun, Vol. 1
by Cullen Bunn (Paperback)
Book Description
Publication Date: January 25, 2011
During the darkest days of the Civil War, wicked cutthroats came into possession of six pistols of otherworldly power. In time the Sixth Gun, the most dangerous of the weapons, vanished. When the gun surfaces in the hands of an innocent girl, dark forces reawaken. Vile men thought long dead set their sights on retrieving the gun and killing the girl. Only Drake Sinclair, a gunfighter with a shadowy past, stands in their way.

The Sixth Gun, Vol. 1


The Century’s Best Horror Fiction Volume 1
by John Pelan (Hardcover)
The Century’s Best Horror Fiction Volume 1
Book Description
Publication Date: December 30, 2010
In celebration of the new millennium, Cemetery Dance Publications has commissioned a spectacular two-volume anthology project under the editorship of noted author and historian of the horror genre, John Pelan.

John will be selecting one story published during each year of the 20th Century (1901-2000) as the most notable story of that year — all 100 stories will then be collected in The Century’s Best Horror Fiction.

The ground rules are simple: Only one selection per author. Only one selection per year.

Two huge volumes, one hundred authors, one hundred classic stories, over 700,000 words of fiction — history in the making!


The Best of Kage Baker
by Kage Baker (Hardcover)
The Best of Kage Baker
Book Description
Publication Date: April 30, 2012
Kage Baker’s death in 2010 silenced one of the most distinctive, consistently engaging voices in contemporary fiction. A late starter, Baker published her first short stories in 1997, at the age of forty-five. From then until the end of her life, she wrote prolifically and well, leaving an astonishing body of work behind.

The Best of Kage Baker is a treasure trove that gathers together twenty stories and novellas, eleven of which have never been collected anywhere. The volume is bookended by a pair of tales from her best known and best loved creation: The Company, with its vivid cast of time traveling immortals. In ‘Noble Mold,’ Mendoza the botanist and Joseph, the ancient ‘facilitator,’ find themselves in 19th century California, where a straightforward acquisition grows unexpectedly complex, requiring, in the end, a carefully engineered ‘miracle.’ In ‘The Carpet Beds of Sutro Park,’ an autistic Company operative named Ezra encounters a lost soul named Kristy Ann, and finds a way to give her back the world that she has lost.


The WEDNESDAYS WORDS column is a new blog feature, appearing (you guessed it!) every Wednesday. Come back next week to see which books make the list!

If you’re a publisher, writer, or other creative representative looking to submit items for WEDNESDAYS WORDS, just leave a comment on this post with your email/contact info, comments don’t get posted they come right to me, and I’ll reach out to you with the snail mail details.

And as far as readers, if you see items on WEDNESDAYS WORDS you’re considering purchasing then, if you are able and would like to support this blog, please utilize the attached links.

Your helpful purchases through those links, generates much appreciated pennies to keep this blog running. Your feedback and support… just way cool, and way appreciated. Thanks!

Sponsored by Ebay Store: Deals of the Day!

Podcast of the Day: Agony Column interview with Walter Mosley!

Podcast of the Day: Agony Column interview with Walter Mosley!

A great interview by Rick Kleffel with Walter Mosley in full on brilliant mode discussing his new GIFT OF FIRE omnibus novels. Covers everything from Philip K. Dick to Hegel to Christ to creation myths to Darwinism to Jazz to the American Prison System. Listen to it here and thank me and the Agony Column later! :)

Subscribe to the Agony Column podcast here.

WEDNESDAYS WORDS

WEDNESDAYS WORDS is a new weekly installment that ranks the most interesting, intriguing books of the week (old, new, reissues, digital, etc). Contributors represent a variety of genres and sources. Each book includes Title and publisher blurb.

I’m doing something a bit different for this WEDNESDAYS WORDS, selecting an image or a text that moves me, and then pointing you to where you can get the book for your own enjoyment.

We begin with an image.

Painted in 1907 by Carlos Schwabe, one of the pioneers of what today we describe as fantastic fiction, this image is entitled SPLEEN AND IDEAL. He actually painted/etched this image twice, the one you see here, and one that is subtly different, with the nudity obscured a bit, the angel’s loins, are covered, and the siren/succubus’ face is hidden, but oddly still very disturbing.

But the one shown here is the more disturbing of the two. The look in the siren’s eyes, the look of the angels face, caught trying to break away; caught quite literally, between the devil and the deep blue sea.

There is a story frozen here, questions and answers frozen, somewhere between the thrashing of wings, and the beating of tail. A she-god of the sea, and a she-god of the air. An attack? A ravishing? Something between the two?

It is a provocative and sensual pic for 2012, I can only imagine how much more disturbing and shocking it must have seemed in 1907.

There is no English language book on this inexplicably overlooked pioneer of the weird and the wondrous, but there is a large, and lushly illustrated French art-book called CARLOS SCHWABE: SYMBOLISTE ET VISIONNAIRE. While the text is in French, the numerous lushly reproduced drawings and paintings… require no translation. The book is quite large, at 12.2″ by 10.3″, and surprisingly heavy, 260 pages on an extremely thick paper stock. and printed in Paris in 1994.

And lest you think Carlos Schwabe could only illustrate the macabre, some of his most striking images in the book are subtle, nuanced, even lovely and loving portraits. Such as this beautiful portrait he did in 1908 (with crayons if my French is any good. Wow! That is amazing! Look at the level of gradations and detail!) of his daughter, and named after her… it is titled, LOTTE:

So for a chance to see this image and many more reproduced in detail in a huge, lavish tome… get your copy here:

Carlos Schwabe, Symboliste et Visionnaire (French Edition)

Another image. This one does not do justice to the actual printed image, but it’s the best picture of it I could find. It’s wonderfully Gothic, and sensual, and horrific all at the same time. In other words… vintage Wrightson.


Bernie Wrightson is one of the true artistic greats of the modern era. The meticulous detail and line work of his output, specifically of the 70s and 80s, is just awe-inspiring. One of the best showcases of his work is his illustrated FRANKENSTEIN published through Dark Horse.

Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein:Get your copy while you can afford it :)

I’ve praised that book repeatedly, if you don’t own a copy by now there is just no hope for you. But for those of you who there is hope for, in addition to FRANKENSTEIN you can see some additional stellar work by Wrighton in KNOWING DARKNESS. A retrospective of all the work done for Stephen King’s Books and Portfolios.

In addition to work by Wrightson it includes work by over two dozen other artists. Much of it rare and unavailable, and commanding high prices on the secondary market. This book allows you to have ALL of the sought after artwork created for Stephen King’s lauded body of work, in one huge, heavy, takes two people to lift it book! :) Okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. At 15.6 x 11.6 x 2.4 inches and weighing 13 pounds, it’s one of the biggest and heaviest books I own.

“we are treated to some sumptuous art. Knowing Darkness is worth its price and weight alone for the illustrations which originally accompanied the limited edition of Christine (breathtaking work by Stephen Gervais). The oversized reproductions of Bob Giusti’s It and Misery covers and Rob Wood’s Dolores Claiborne and Four Past Midnight covers get a whole new life when viewed out of the context of book covers. And that is to say nothing of the art original to this volume, the best of which is a brand-new Don Maitz interpretation of Duma Key, which features a ghost ship on an easel overlooking an Atlantic sunset. You don’t notice at first – your eye is so drawn to the ship in the foreground – that the gulls in the distance are flying upside-down.

Of course, this would all amount to little more than a collection of pretty pictures without the binding strength of George Beahm’s essays. Beahm, a Stephen King expert who perfected the companion-book genre with The Stephen King companion before going on to write The Stephen King Story and many other must-haves – is at his most compelling here. He manages to convey his fascination and excitement for the subject in every essay, and pass that onto the reader. The exclusive interviews, especially the one with Bernie Wrightson, are illuminating.

Books about King are legion, and there are many terrific volumes out there which rise above the chaff. There are only a handful, though, that are absolute musts for King fans. Knowing Darkness is beyond a doubt one of the absolute musts, not just for King fans, but for anyone interested in art and illustration. With such a wealth of material to cover – from mass-produced cover art, to limited-edition illustration, to interpretive pieces – it’s an achievement that a project like Knowing Darkness was even attempted. That it is executed so beautifully, then, is phenomenal.”– Charnel House

Get your copy while you can still pick it up for under retail (these were going for $300).
Knowing Darkness: Artists Inspired by Stephen King

And one last image closes out a nice compact, 3 book WEDNESDAY WORDS.

Now a word to the wise… the following image has nipples. Shock! Aghast!! Horror!!

If nipples offend you… then go away.

But the thought of crossing out the nipples just seemed completely idiotic, and like defacing art. Every baby knows what a nipple is. Everybody has nipples, even I have nipples. :) (And they’re real and they’re fabulous :). Sorry have to sneak that Seinfeld quote in, every once in a while).

So yeah, I’m showing the cover sans any moronic editing. I don’t think the world will end.

This is a slight soft-cover art-book. In no way is it the hernia inducing behemoth of my other two recommended books.

But it doesn’t have to be, all it has to be is… great art. And it is that. Pencils and some inks, it’s incredibly impressive work by artist Erik Drudwyn.

Get your copy here:

Art Of Erik Drudwyn (Art Fantastix)


The WEDNESDAYS WORDS column is a new blog feature, appearing (you guessed it!) every Wednesday. Come back next week to see which books make the list!

If you’re a publisher, writer, or other creative representative looking to submit items for WEDNESDAYS WORDS, just leave a comment on this post with your email/contact info, comments don’t get posted they come right to me, and I’ll reach out to you with the snail mail details.

And as far as readers, if you see items on WEDNESDAYS WORDS you’re considering purchasing then, if you are able and would like to support this blog, please utilize the attached links.

Your helpful purchases through those links, generates much appreciated pennies to keep this blog running. Your feedback and support… just way cool, and way appreciated. Thanks!

Sponsored by Ebay Store: Deals of the Day!

Recommended Writers and their most celebrated work: HUGH HOLTON and his Larry Cole Series

Proof positive I do this blog to educate myself as much as entertain anyone else, is this post on Hugh Holton.

I knew Hugh Holton was a high ranking, highly decorated Chicago Police Officer.

I knew he was a fantastic writer from owning and reading three of his books.

I knew he had passed in 2001.

I did not know he had as many books, above and beyond the ones I own. Given his responsibilities as one of Chicago’s Top Cops, that he was able to be as prolific (and going by the novels I’ve read, as consistently good) as he was, is quite amazing.

So without further ado, today’s Recommended Writer is HUGH HOLTON:

Police Lieutenant Hugh Holton was a twenty-nine year veteran of the Chicago Police Department. He authored several bestselling novels, including, Time of the Assassins, The Left Hand of God, and Violent Crimes. At the time of his death, at the age of only 54, Hugh Holton was the highest ranking active police officer writing novels in America.

1994. Presumed Dead
1995. Windy City
1996. Chicago Blues
1997. Violent Crimes
1998. Red Lightning

1999. Left Hand of God, The
2000. Time of the Assassins
2001. Devils Shadow, The

The following three titles were published posthumously, which is why they came as a surprise to me when researching this post. I’ve heard REVENGE was an early discarded rough draft of his, so it’s not up to Hugh Holton’s high standards. It’s something he would have tweaked/perfected had he known it was being published. So take that into consideration when reading it. It’s basically just an early draft, the publisher decided to put out there, so judge it as such, and not as representative of Hugh Holton’s usual great work.

2002. Criminal Element (Amazon – Alibris)
2005. Thin Black Line, The (Amazon – Alibris)
2009. Revenge (Amazon – Alibris)

I was turned onto Hugh Holton’s fantastic Larry Cole mystery series a while ago, and they are pulse-pounding procedurals and thrillers, grounded by the experience of someone who knows intimately the facts behind the fictions… he writes about.. My personal favorite of the three novels I’ve read so far is the juggernaut-like TIME OF THE ASSASSINS. In terms of pacing, and just keeping you racing till the end, it’s the strongest [the others I own are WINDY CITY, and VIOLENT CRIMES].

It was a great starting point for me to the excellent body of work Hugh Holton left us with, but I think I’ll now go back, pick up all the books I’m missing and read them all chronologically.

REVENGE, by all reports should not be considered part of the chronology, it’s something that (again according to reports) was not ready for publication, and was put out as a cash grab by the family and the publisher. It’s a curio, at best, and I would have less problem with it if the family had put their name on the novel(his Daughter I believe signed off on this version), rather than just Hugh Holton’s.

Being a writer, the idea of assigning sole responsibility to me, for something I didn’t have the chance to proof/edit… well that would bug me even in the grave. A writer’s books are his reputation.

And Hugh Holton has a well earned, and well deserved reputation as a great writer. Try the books for yourself at the links below! And tell’em HT sent ya!!!

The Thin Black Line: True Stories by Black Law Enforcement Officers Policing America’s Meanest Streets
Presumed Dead (Larry Cole)

Windy City

Chicago Blues (Mysteries & Horror)

Violent Crimes (A Larry Cole Mystery)

Red Lightning (A Larry Cole Mystery)

The Left Hand of God (Larry Cole Mystery)

Time of the Assassins

The Devil’s Shadow

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Pic courtesy Planet Preset

See more on this writer at SciFan.
As well as an informative interview with him, done shortly before his passing, here!

PODCAST OF THE DAY: A Group Interview on A Wizard Of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

“So it came to my imagination, that Fantasy has been so lily-white, so northern European, let’s just turn it on its head. That’s the simplest way to reverse a train, turn it inside out…it’s only quite recently…that I’ve heard from people, some of them are just kids, some of them are remembering back to when they first read the Earth Sea Books. People of color telling me that was the first fantasy they ever felt included in, and what it meant to them. And I tell you, it moved me very much.” — Ursula K. Leguin

Podcast of the Day: National Endowment for the Arts Presents: Big Read: A Group Interview on A Wizard Of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

For more on the National Endowment of the Arts and EarthSea, go here!

“Earthsea is a creation of Ursula K. Le Guin. The original Trilogy was composed of A Wizard of Earthsea (1968), The Tombs of Atuan (1971), and The Farthest Shore (1972). The fourth book, Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea was published in 1990. A number of stories have now been published as Tales from Earthsea (2001) and a fifth novel, The Other Wind, also came out in late 2001. The first published story in the Earthsea world was The Word of Unbinding, which was originally published in Fantastic (1964) and later reprinted in The Wind’s Twelve Quarters (1975). The series has won a number of awards.”–scv.bu.edu

“It consists of three short novels, the longest just over 200 small pages in my old Puffin edition. And, though adults can read it without feeling at all out of place, it is written for children — “For readers of eleven and over” the covers say, though it could be read by, or to, very much younger children. But the Earthsea trilogy is still the first work that comes to mind when I’m asked “The Lord of the Rings, yes, but what then?”

A Taoist conception of “Balance” underlies Earthsea: the use of magic is dangerous, and can destabilise the natural order. And there are many patterns and parallels in the trilogy. A Wizard of Earthsea is about a young man’s coming of age, in which he attends an all-male school for wizards, and much of it is set at sea; The Tombs of Atuan is a young woman’s coming of age in an all-female temple complex, and much of it happens underground. And so forth. None of this is explicit, however, nor is conscious understanding of it at all necessary for appreciation of the novels. They are, first and foremost, spellbinding stories, with memorable characters.

There are now sequels to the Earthsea trilogy. Fifteen years later Le Guin wrote Tehanu, which is often coupled with these three novels to form an Earthsea “Quartet”. Tehanu is different in many ways, however — it is not a children’s book, for one thing — and I consider its inclusion in one volume with the trilogy to be misguided. More recently has come The Other Wind and a book of short stories, Tales From Earthsea.

I would not normally have considered reviewing the Earthsea books: they have received plenty of academic criticism and have been set texts in schools, so they should need no promotion. (Though the cynical might argue quite the opposite.) I keep running into people, however, who rave about Harry Potter and claim to be fantasy fanatics, but who haven’t heard of Earthsea.”— Danny Yee of Danny Reviews

“The Sci-Fi channel aired a 2-part, 4-hour miniseries based on the first two books in December, 2004… Ursula Le Guin… railed against it [Leguin discusses eloquently the whitewashing of her novel here] and I can not in any way recommend it… this is an absolute travesty against a wonderful piece of fantasy literature.” —scv.bu.edu

“I reread the whole thing once a year. Kid’s fantasy doesn’t get better than this. Actually, grownup fantasy doesn’t get better than this. The whole series is a virtuous performance from one of the greatest writers ever to work in the genre. The Tombs of Atuan (vol. 2) is probably my personal favorite; it has a special magic both because of the Borgesian labyrinth setting, and because it’s one of the first and greatest feminist subversions of epic fantasy. But A Wizard of Earthsea (vol 1) is probably the single most perfect fantasy book ever written. It distills the essence of epic fantasy into its purest form and restates it in deceptively simple prose that rises to the level of poetry.”— Chris Moriarty at GOOD READS.com

The Earthsea Quartet (Puffin Books)


So take a listen to the audio (don’t listen to the whole thing until after you read the books, you’ll know when to stop. Around the 17 minute mark), avoid the SciFi/SyFy channel series and all work by its director Robert Lieberman :), and pick up a copy of Ursula’s four book series here.

And generally just enjoy the source, the progenitor for later fictions such as HARRY POTTER and the MAGICIANS.

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