How do you wrap up 2016?! TV and Streaming BARBARIANS RISING


2016 was a FANTASTIC year for TV.

Netflix and streaming options such as Amazon Prime and Hulu has effectively changed how the world consumes and watches tv.

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Tonight I discovered History Channel’s BARBARIANS RISING, which tells the tale of one of the greatest warriors in the history of the world, Hannibal Barca, and his insane dream, obsession, vision, to conquer the unconquerable Rome.

I have my issues with the HISTORY CHANNEL, I think their VIKINGS TV show, that paints a friendly, proto-feminist, misunderstood anti-hero view of the Vikings, is irresponsible and misguided film-making at its worst.

I don’t expect a documentary, and even in a documentary, much of what we know, must be colored, romanticized, dramatized. The truth of over 2000 years ago like the truth of yesterday, will never be exactly seen by any two people, exactly the same.

But that said while the telling is fluid, blatantly changing the morality of what is known is not. That is simple mendacity.

It’s white-washing of history, that is beyond romanticism to bald-face lying. Like making the ancient Egyptians white. :).

Here’s the thing the Vikings, in their approach to nonvikings, were proto-Nazis, Nazis in their purest form. They were what Nazis dreamed of being. They believed in rape, and pillage, and death, and wholesale slaughter of their enemies. They were in battle, drug addled butchers and thieves and rapists, who put to the sword any land they could reach. War and Pillaging, was not an end, it was a practice, it was a purpose, it was a past time, it was the reason to wake up and the reason to go to bed. As it was for many of the ancient people. Blood, unfortunately, is under most of our ancestors nails.

They did monstrous things, but they also did admirable things. But art, to be honest, must not dismiss the one, to elevate the other. And that’s what the show VIKINGS does, it glorifies that which has no glory in it, and ignores that, which should not be ignored. And to do this is analagous to havaing a show called Nazis, and to portray them as heroic, with no look into the programs of genocide, and the Nazi Work and Death camps.

I’m not saying don’t have a show about Vikings, but tell the truth, don’t make saints out of sinners, and if you find your characters are too reprehensible when you do that, then maybe that’s telling you something.

So I have my issues with HISTORY CHANNEL.

But those issues do not extend to BARBARIANS RISING. Which quite frankly is my last great television discovery of 2016!

 

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The first episode, RESISTANCE, simply must see television.

“I swear by the Deathless Gods that I shall not rest till the heart of Rome bleeds dry on the sword of Carthage.” –Hannibal Barca, Son of Carthage, One of the Greatest Generals in the History of the World

 

This is one I have to own the Blu-Ray of! It’s not a show you want to have disappear off of streaming.

Get your copy here:

 

 

Barbarians Rising [Blu-ray]

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Amazon DEALS OF THE DAY! Best Soundtrack of 2016!?!

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THE HATEFUL EIGHT Soundtrack by Ennio Morricone – Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight Soundtrack

Quentin Tarantino’s eighth movie THE HATEFUL EIGHT, I saw just this previous December in its extended road show version. I saw it at a sumptuous venue, surrounded by real cinephiles, and quite liked the movie. I thought it had flaws, because while not a prude by any measure, I did think Quentin went a bit heavy on the profanity button.

Sometimes excess is not verisimilitude, being true to the framework of your film, sometimes it is just excess, and gets in the way of your film.

At some point it becomes like a kid who has just learned to curse, and says it all the time as if there is a maturity in that, when just the opposite is the truth. Over use of profanity is the mark of a juvenile aesthetic. I thought the movie was great, I loved the process and loved the ending and loved the visuals, the only detraction was… that juvenile aesthetic of Tarantino’s.

So it’s a movie I really liked, and want to call a great movie, but a great movie should also be re-watchable, and I’m uncertain how many times I would want to re-watch this. Portions of it sure. But to sit down and rewatch the whole thing? Revisit it, like I do with THE SEARCHERS or TOMBSTONE  or ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST… Not so much. That’s where the juvenile aesthetic works against a film, and works against Tarantino. These slight misgivings aside, It is still a solid B+ of a movie.

However one thing that I was not not conflicted on was Ennio Morricone’s score. Upon hearing this in the theater, I new I loved it and wanted to purchase the soundtrack when available. And I’m not a soundtrack guy, I buy sporadically, and seldom consider buying the score while watching a movie. So that tells you what type of impression this score made on me.

Today I received the Third Man Records stunning 2 LP Pressing of THE HATEFUL EIGHT. Wow! This may just be the collectible of the year!

It takes me back to the thrill I got of getting Records or Laser Discs, back in the day. That larger than life, elaborate and beautiful album cover, filled with extras, such as a booklet with liner notes, posters, photographs.

For around $30 while supplies last , it is a steal!

Morricone purportedly came out of retirement to do this score for Tarantino, and I’m glad he did, because he creates a score for the ages, to stand up to his decades of stunning, influential, and cinema shaping…. scores.

Now while the music is excellent, the pressing is also slightly hampered by Tarantino’s decision to add dialogue to the album. I would have preferred this album without Tarantino’s additions of dialog, and let this just be the music. However the dialogue tracks are easily skipped on CD. Not so easily skipped on the LP,  but the 2 album LP, is a collector’s dream, sporting a beautiful fold out gate fold cover,, and enough extras to make it worth any purchasers time to own both the CD and the LP.

Pick up both at the links below while in stock:

Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight Soundtrack

Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight CD

 

CDs worth owning in the age of Itunes! 15 Favorite obscure CDs!


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ALAN MOORE : THE MOON AND SERPENT GRAND EGYPTIAN THEATRE OF MARVELS -A fantastic CD, oral dissection and tour of London of the Id. Alan Moore is analogous to Shakespeare in that like Shakespeare he is one of the greatest writers of a castigated medium (Shakespeare worked in the, during his life, little respected medium of plays, mass entertainment for the mobs; and Moore works in the medium of comic books/graphic novels), and arguably is not fully understood or appreciated out of that medium in his lifetime. His spoken word CDs are some of the most amazing and compelling, combining his love of topics but strange and obscure, married to his voice, which is one of the greatest and most haunting voices of our age. Moon & Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels

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DEATH : FOR THE WHOLE WORLD TO SEE – Rock/Proto-Punk – Turned on to this CD by the wonderful documentary A BAND CALLED DEATH. A great documentary and a great CD. For the Whole World to See

ABRAHAM BURTON QUARTET : CAUSE AND EFFECT – Was turned onto this CD by Amiri Baraka when I met him a few years back and bought his excellent hardcover book DIGGING THE AFRO AMERICAN SOUL OF CLASSICAL AMERICAN MUSIC. Cause and EffectDigging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music

CHE : NOT LIKE THEM – Caught this artist live performance years ago, and got this CD direct from him. It still remains one of the best CDs I own. An amazing performer who brings together Neo-soul, R&B, Rock, and some genres not invented yet, in a fun, head bobbing package.

TAALAM ACEY : BLUES RESURGENCE – Another artist I caught live, and got this CD direct from him. One of the greatest spoken word CDs. Blues Resurgence

MARK GROSS : RIDDLE OF THE SPHINX – I heard him play his title track in a dive bar, somewhere on the edge of the world, and purchased. A great purchase as it is one of the best Jazz Cds I’ve ever heard. Riddle of the Sphinx

AWADAGIN PRATT : A LONG WAY FROM NORMAL- My gold standard for classical piano CDs are the great Glenn Gould’s BACH THE GOLDBERG VARIATIONS released by CBS Records and this lesser known, but no less great, album by Awadagin Pratt. A must own. Plays Liszt/Franck/Brahms/Bach

PARIS : THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT/SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY – I added these two CDs as one, because even though they are separated by decades, they are linked at the hip, by a fervor that is both mired in specific times, yet oddly time resistant. And a delivery… unequaled. The Devil Made Me Do It

TERRY CALLIER : SPEAK YOUR PEACE – Speak Your Peace

QUINCY JONES : IN COLD BLOOD – Soundtrack. Why on earth would anyone ever want the sound track to a movie? When I was young it made no sense to me. And to be truthful, for most movies and soundtracks I still feel that way. I’ve listened to a lot of not especially interesting soundtrack Records and CDs. And then one day I put on the LP to Cold Blood by Quincy Jones, a young Quincy Jones before he became the manager for the King of Pop, and settled into making pop and r&b albums. This young Quincy Jones was pushing how music could be used to elicit feelings and tell stories, and during the late 60s early 70s created some of the most experimental and haunting music ever conceived. IN COLD BLOOD remains the seminal instrumental work done not just by Quincy Jones, but by anyone. It was the first soundtrack album to open my eyes to the fact that the soundtrack can be a work of art onto itself. IN COLD BLOOD (ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK LP, 1968)

JERRY GOLDSMITH : PLANET OF THE APES – Jerry Goldsmith has created mountains of Sound tracks, I don’t know if he has ever been more experimental or better than here. Planet Of The Apes: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Also Featuring Music From Escape From The Planet Of The Apes

JIMMY WILSON : FUTURE HISTORY – Future History

DON PEYOTE : BETWEEN WORLDS – A lot of people turn up their nose at the term New Age, rightly or wrongly I don’t know. What I do know is I’m in love with binaural effects, and CDs that, using just a headphone, can recreate a 360 degree environment. BETWEEN WORLDS does that brilliantly. A great CD to read or drift off to. Between Worlds with Hemi-Sync

STEVE USCHER : LA GUITARRA TROPICAL –

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IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE : REVOLUTIONARY VOL 2 – I have oft praised this CD. It should be required listening by people who want to hear what rap can be like… when it is about more than self grandizement and debasement.

Well hope you enjoyed that list of essential obscure CDs. Now I’m sure most of you in this age of Itunes have ditched your walkman, so how, you ask, do you play these cds? Well thankfully there are nice, compact, cost effective devices that allow you to take not only your cds but your dvds and other media with you when on the move. Here’s a link to one:

Sylvania Portable DVD Player SDVD7027-C, 7-Inch, Swivel Screen, Black

Enjoy!


GREATEST SHORT FILMS OF ALL TIME : THE LAST TEN (2011) by Director David Higgs

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THE LAST TEN- I love short films for the same reason I love short stories, at their best they can deliver a pure moment, unhampered by filler or setup or dressing or fluff, and therefore a memorable moment to the core of us, in a way which only the most masterful feature films can equal.

Dickens was by far the more lauded author of his day, but it is the short fiction of his contemporaries Doyle and the American Poe which remains the mainstay of our cultural obsession to this day. And it is because of their short fiction’s power to completely live in us and be remembered by us, in their entirety; and the very nature of this construction is one of icon-ism rather than specif-ism.

Therefore the characters are ever very personal and close and fleshed out by us; are as part of their brevity ever ruminations on us. Indeed, even Dickens, who while the writer of many long form works, made his livelihood in the serialized market, and arguably his most beloved work, is his short form A CHRISTMAS CAROL, more novelette than novel.

When done well, a short film in a minute or two minutes or five minutes, or in this case under 14 minutes, can present a beginning, middle, and ending that almost all live completely on this razor edge of climax, and satisfy you before your attention wanes.

David Higgs’ THE LAST TEN is short film done as well as it can be done. A premise Hitchcock would have adored, a locked off camera, a single location, and creeping dread. I went into the film knowing nothing about it, as i suggest to you, and was blown away. Writer/Director/Producer David Higgs along with Cinematographer Nicole Heiniger in under 14 minutes creates one of my favorite short films with a haunting final shot.

You can view it courtesy of the Roku channel VIMEO. We all know short fiction is oft seen as a stepping stone to feature film, but the truth is they are two distinct animals. Clive Barker’s short fiction is miles ahead of his long form fiction. If THE LAST TEN is anything to go by, David Higgs is a fantastic short film maker, and I for one would love to see more films by him. At least enough that he could put out a DVD or Blu-Ray complete with special features and monetize some of his excellent work.

Last word on THE LAST TEN? HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION. A+.

 

Pick up the following books if you enjoyed this post and are a fan of what it covers:

Edgar Allan Poe Annotated and Illustrated Entire Stories and Poems
– There are tons of Edgar Allen Poe collections, but only a few sport illustrations by the great Gustave Dore and only one is this affordable. Get the hardcover version while you can.

Major Works of Charles Dickens (Great Expectations / Hard Times / Oliver Twist / A Christmas Carol / Bleak House / A Tale of Two Cities)
-six of his works in this exclusive and sumptuous boxed set of lavish, clothbound editions, designed by Penguin’s own award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith. Part of Penguin’s beautiful hardback Clothbound Classics series, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith, these delectable and collectible editions are bound in high-quality colourful, tactile cloth with foil stamped into the design.

 

 

15 Best Blurays in the age of Roku and NetFlix

The way I view streaming and on-demand and Roku and Netflix is very much as a great vehicle to try shows, and to find great shows and movies to love. But once you have found something that wows you, there is no substitute for owning that movie or tv show in the highest quality available; and for all the talk of HD quality picture, streaming and broadcast models, the highest consumer quality available is Bluray followed by DVD.

Streaming and Broadcast delivery methods inherently suffer from throttling, a bandwidth and cost-savings measure, that makes the quality at any given moment variable and uncertain; that adds another level of degradation and compression, onto an already compressed source. Add to the uncertain quality aspect the fact that the duration of these shows is likewise variable, shows and movies subject to disappearing as licensing deals demand, and owning your own physical copy of your favorite show or movie remains the best way to make sure you can view that show when and how you would like.

The above is why there remains no substitute for watching that first season of THE HUMAN TARGET in its reference quality Bluyray mastering, or METROPOLIS the Fritz Lang opus, or that first elegiac season of SPACE 1999 or any of the following. Without further ado I present you today’s 15 best Blu-rays in the age of streaming, Enjoy!

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Human Target: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] – One of the most action packed and enjoyable tv shows, with some of the best fight choreography, looks jaw dropping stunning in this superb quality Blu-ray

Space: 1999: The Complete Season One [Blu-ray]

Metropolis (Masters of Cinema Series) [Dual Format Limited Edition SteelBook] – One of the greatest films of all time, and one of the greatest Blu-rays

George Washington’s Christmas Gift and Benedict Arnold’s legacy

This was an interesting posting I came across.

George Washington’s Christmas Gift

However, like too many re-imaginings of America’s independence from Britain it kinda leaves out the fact that losing the colony was the cost Britain paid for fighting a multi-pronged war with France at the time. Without France lending support, and keeping the sea supremacy of Britain embroiled on other fronts, it is staggeringly unlikely the fledgling colony would have won her war of Independence.

And it also overplays George Washington’s hand in the victory. One of the greatest warriors of the Revolutionary War, whose decisive victories and battle strategies rewrote at the time, modern combat, and swung the tide of battle was not George Washington, it was the man we have since relegated and derided as a traitor… It was Benedict Arnold.

One of the greatest warriors this nation has ever produced.

Still the above quick link is worth a read.

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.

A one item, abbreviated WEDNESDAYS WORDS. Enjoy 🙂 :

Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury: A Critical Edition : 1938-1943

Book Description
Publication Date: February 21, 2011 | Series: Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury
Inaugurating a critical edition of one of America’s most popular storytellers

In the past, collections of Bradbury’s works have juxtaposed stories with no indication as to the different time periods in which they were written. Even the mid- and late-career collections that Bradbury himself compiled contained stories that were written much earlier–a situation that has given rise to misconceptions about the origins of the stories themselves. In this new edition, editors William F. Touponce and Jonathan R. Eller present for the first time the stories of Ray Bradbury in the order in which they were written. Moreover, they use texts that reflect Bradbury’s earliest settled intention for each tale. By examining his relationships with his agent, editor, and publisher, Touponce and Eller’s textual commentaries document the transformation of the stories–and Bradbury’s creative understanding of genre fiction–from their original forms to the versions known and loved today.

Volume 1 covers the years 1938 to 1943 and contains thirteen stories that have never appeared in a Bradbury collection. For those that were previously published, the original serial forms recovered in this volume differ in significant ways from the versions that Bradbury popularized over the ensuing years. By documenting the ways the stories evolved over time, Touponce and Eller unveil significant new information about Bradbury’s development as a master of short fiction.

Each volume in the proposed three-volume edition includes a general introduction, chronology, summary of unpublished stories, textual commentary for each story, textual apparatus, and chronological catalog. The Collected Stories of Ray Bradbury is edited to the highest scholarly standards by the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies and bears the Modern Language Association’s seal of approval for scholarly editions.

I have my doubts in regards to people dusting off early, arguably rough draft versions of Bradbury’s stories and compiling these as if they are offering something significantly new. However the statement that these stories, have not been collected before is intriguing.

Though perhaps the reason they have not been collected is because, they were the imperfect forms of stories that Ray Bradbury went on to perfect.

So beyond the obvious… he got better, I’m unsure what, of value, can be mined from this approach. And what critical analysis one can offer on Bradbury’s stories, that are not inherent in a/the stories themselves or b/ Bradbury’s discussion of his stories that thankfully the great man left us with, in multiple forms, from books, radio, television, and even film. Bradbury being perhaps one of the most consulted and interviewed writers of our time.

Rather than a best of compilation, or even a chronological compilation, the selling point of this book would seemingly be… this is the rough draft compilation.

I’m not sure if that’s the collection, that any writer wants of their work.

But this is all guesswork. I’ll withhold final judgment till I can get a reading copy. And the fact that I’m intrigued enough to give this a look means it is… WEDNESDAYS WORDS material.


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!

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