The Most Influential TV show of all Time? Breaking Bad? THE WIRE? No… It is…

I am re-watching Michael Straczynski’s seminal BABYLON 5, after a lapse of probably 2 decades, and by the time you hit Season 3 Episode 10 Severed Dreams, and have sat thru the awkward first season, and rough effects (at the time innovative, but now quaintly dated, yet oddly still beautiful) it is clear… this show is what Straczynski intended. The first Novel for Television.

Whereas THE HONEYMOONERS forged the concept of the Sitcom for television, And DRAGNET (following in its Radio Roots) would define the form of episodic tv for decades to come, BABYLON 5 is very much the jumping off point for long form storytelling in television.

Prior to Babylon 5, in television largely the characters, kept showing up week after week and telling the story for that week, with no real vast growth or change for that character from first episode to last. 

Whether BONANZA or THE FUGITIVE or “insert series here”, it may have 2 or 3 part episode, but largely there was no overarching theme or arc for the season or the series.

It was episodic television, monster or crime or issue of the week.

And then enter Michael Straczynski and his idea, of going one step further than STAR TREK’s aborted idea of a 5 Year mission, and try a multiyear story, with a beginning, middle, and end. Where there were stakes, And characters would have arcs, and change. 

Enter BABYLON 5.

An experiment in television, in an age of ‘done and one’ TV.

It holds up.

Despite the meddling of the Networks, the lowball budgets, the always under threat of cancellation seasons, Michael Straczynski’s BABYLON 5 was then, and remains now, one of the best written shows. A grand saga, writ large. With tragedies and triumphs and growth and betrayal and change… and hope. 

And that BABYLON 5 is as good and as coherent as it is, despite the constant meddling and threat of cancellation it endured every year of its existence (which forced writer, cast and crew to always have to gear every season like it was their last, the last couple of seasons clearly suffering because of the the blade that was always over the show’s neck); you have to put it down to Michael Straczynski’s passion and his writing and his fighting for it.

And a team of people around him, from actors to directors to makeup artists to set and wardrobe designers to consultants (the late great Harlan Ellison) all championing this unheard of dream, of a novel for television.

So no, not LOST, not SOPRANOS, not THE WIRE, not GAME OF THRONES, not BREAKING BAD, not BATTLESTAR GALACTICA… though all those shows with their continuing story structure owe a debt of gratitude to BABYLON 5 (which paved the way for TV, to break out of its episode of the week, short form storytelling mode) … none of those shows are TV at its most influential.

TV at its most innovate and influential (post Star Trek the Original Series)… Well that mantle remains 30 years later, still… BABYLON 5; which dragging and screaming, changed the face and scope of what television could be.

You don’t get any of those shows, without Straczynski, actually showing that long form narrative could be done on television.

So if you have never watched BABYLON 5, or have not watched it in a long time, all 5 seasons are available courtesy of Amazon Prime.

Give it a look, the first season is admittedly rough, stick with it. It takes off by the 2nd season and never looks back. And by the 3rd season, it is a hands down masterpiece.


Highest  Recommendation.


And honestly, it is the type of series that deserves to be owned in physical media, that you do not want to trust to the vagaries of Streaming licenses. It is a series, like HOMICIDE, like GRIMM, like MUSKETEERS, that deserves to always be at your fingertips and available for viewing.

It unfortunately does not yet have a Bluray option, but you can get the complete series on DVD at the link below:



Currently Watching / Quote of the Day : PULP FICTION The Golden Age

I am currently watching PULP FICTION: THE GOLDEN AGE OF SCI FI, FANTASY AND ADVENTURE, courtesy of Youtube and Roku (the only way I watch a Youtube video), and it is just a riveting watch. If you are a fan of books and writers or simply history, and 20th century Americana, this deep dive into the early years of a uniquely American art form, pulp fiction, you will be riveted by this feature. It is less than an hour in length, and get past the incredibly hokey opening, it gets serious and informative and impressive, very quickly.


There is a line in the feature that, while being a patron of pulps and pulp writers and knowing this to be true, still actually gave me chills to hear it so succinctly laid out.


‘The fascinating thing about the writers who were working in Pulps, was they were writing what was considered disposable fiction, trash. I mean, most of these stories you’d read them and throw them out, and yet… the top writers in these fields, whether Westerns or Science Fiction or Horror or Mystery, they are now considered the literary giants of the 20th century.’

—Marc Zircee, Historian

That line gave me chills. And it is still the case. The writers who are moving the needle here in the still early days of the 21st century, are writers who wrote in under appreciated genre fields.

Similar to successful pulp writers Ray Bardbury, Issac Assimov, Harlan Ellison, Walter Gibson, HP Lovecraft, Sax Rohmer, Dasheil Hammett, L Ron Hubbard, Raymond Chandler, Norvell Page, Cornell Woolrich and Stan Lee (who as a kid started writing pulp stories in the comics, 20 years before he and a cadre of artists would give birth to the revamped Marvel Comics) and others who survived the brutal starvation years of the pulps, and did not join the mass of such writers… who died young and broke, but continued at it, to write, and write, and write, and transition their forward looking pulp sensibilities to the new mediums of radio, and television; that is what is happening today.


And not to be remiss the pulp artists, both cover artist and interior were equally important. They gave the astounding, jaw dropping artwork that got you to stop and pick up the story, and the spot illustrations that powered you through it. And like the pulp writers of the day, the artists were woefully underpaid and horribly overworked to barely eke out a living. Most died broke and unknown, with their work not even credited by the publisher, but a few rose above the carnage of those years to create work that is remembered, geniuses like Norman Saunders, J. Allen St. John, Elliott Dold, George Rozen, Jerome Rozen, Rudolph Belarski, Frederick Blakeslee, John Newton Howitt, HJ Ward, Virgil Finley, and the criminally neglected Barye W. Phillips who did one of the best pulp covers ever with FANTASTIC #1 from 1952. I will be doing an article on the artists in an upcoming installment.

The pulp work… wins out.

The perseverance and love… wins out, and those trash/pulp writers of the 20th century are the ones who are celebrated and rediscovered today, where the ‘serious’ writers are largely forgotten and unread by the masses.

The pulp writers who were pushing the needle in the 20th century, with fast, hard,ugly, brutal, and imaginative tales that did not fit the sensibilities of the ‘serious fiction’ of the day.

That unruly challenging and imaginative fiction they were writing then… about our basest desires and wildest hopes remains…. today, still relevant. The way Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN will always be relevant, the way Shakespeare will always be relevant, the way Chester Himes’ Digger and Coffin Joe, will always be relevant. Because people then, as people now, understand the extremes of hope and despair, and that is the place pulp writers evoked for us best.

Now the modern equivalent are writers such as Stan Lee and Alan Moore and Frank Miller and Pat Mills and Neil Gaiman and Mark Olden and Warren Murphy to name a few.  People who slaved away in the late 20th century in the looked down upon realm of Comics or Pulp novels, but wrote about our hope and our fears writ large, modern myths to reflect our modern fears. And like always men who define the conversation of the extreme (the dreamers), in their own time, end up defining the conversation of the masses for their children’s time.

And today we have a new generation of talented pulp writers. From Dennis Lehane to Walter Moseley to John Ridley to Derrick Ferguson to Thomas Ligotti to John Jennings to Joe Hill to Charles Saunders to Percival Everett to John Sanford to Collin Whitehead to Victor LaValle to Richard Gavin to Ed Brubaker to Christopher Priest to Warren Ellis to Brian Michael Bendis to Robert Kirkman to Al Ewing to Eric Powell to David Walker to name a few.

Serious Fiction talks about what is, Pulp Fiction uses the past, present and future as allegories to talk about who we can be, when we screw our courage to the sticking place. And as such it will always be a place waiting for us… to discover.

I hope you like this post. if you did subscribe, give a like or comment. 

A word about subscribing, there are a lot of demands on our time, too much for all of us to be aware of all the cool people and cool things, we might like to be aware of. Wednesday Words was a well received feature I did years ago, and it was just a quick touch on people whose name and work you may want to have on your radar. Subscribing will get you, every two weeks a very short, but very informative edition of WEDNESDAY WORDS.

So if you haven’t subscribed, please do, and bring a friend with you. Collaborating, especially in these oft marginalizing times… seems like the right answer.

And for now, go to Amazon or your local bookstore or library and check out the writers mentioned in this piece. Till next time… be well!



Youtube Channel Roundup : On Harlan Ellison, DC Comics, Brian Michael Bendis, and SLEEPYREADER666!

This blog post is on a recent video courtesy of SLEEPY READER, via his excellent Youtube Channel. Watched it courtesy of the Youtube Channel on my Roku streaming device

SLEEPY READER 666 Vlog #76 I like the fact that Sleepy reader covers diverse content, rather than just showing you the latest comics, or variants. I like that his stories are a little deeper than that and more informed.

In his most recent episode he discusses the late great Harlan Ellison, as well as Brian Michael Bendis, and kinda wags his finger at them for being too self aggrandizing. Based on a bad meeting he had with Harlan Ellison when he was 24.

And that got me thinking about the impressions we make of a person, the life long animus, or bad impression we somehow cement of a person, based on a cursory meeting in our youth. When you might have been catching your idol on a bad day.

Evidently seeing Ellison being bombastic and vocal, an impression of Ellison was created,  a definition of Ellison based on that one meeting, that some can carry through an entire life.

It is a common mistake that young people do (I have done it), imagining that one moment is the man. A lot of people go to conventions or meet their heroes, and because the hero doesn’t say what they wanted him to say, or respond how they expected him to respond that creator is suddenly for all time, and in all things, an asshole, or pompous, or whatever.

And most of the time it is that the person may have have a bad day, or a bad interaction, or a bad lunch, or a rude fan before you, or his mind is on a personal issue at home, so perhaps he doesn’t fully pay attention to the 200th person in the line, asking  him the same stupid question, or make the same inane joke as 50 people before.

Most of us barely are able to get along with the small circle of people who make up are 9 to 5. A celebrity mutiplies those interactions by the thousands arguably, and even if he is on most of that, 99% of that time, that leaves 1% he is not going to satisfy, or be at his best for.

I’m saying that basing your view of a person on one peripheral incident, that that person arguably has forgotten, five minutes after it happened, if he were to bump into you the day after he would likely not know know you from Adam, yet for you that incident of decades ago has become a defining , enlightening moment on that person’s personality for all time.

And all of us have done this at times. It is the reckoning of someone very young, and the mistake of someone very young. We who are older, who have been on both sides of that being disappointed, and disappointing a person, should hopefully grow to know better.


People have bad days. You call em on it, or you don’t. But either way you let it go, and you do not try and define a person you really do not know, based on just that one incident at a convention or party.

An idol doesn’t owe you the approval of his character, he produces work, an if the work speaks to you, he’s done his job. The judging of his soul or his character is not a part of that contract we develop with those who amaze up.

I’m one of those who grew up on the work of Asimov, Bradbury, Baldwin, and Harlan Ellison. Along with a good helping of Stan Lee, and Bill Cosby and Edgar Allen poe and Electric company.

What I gained from all those influences, those creators remain. I’m an immesurably richer person for the creativity of people I know only through their work for the most part.

And if later time finds them in places far from the heroic heights we met them on, it does not change the great things their work did for us, and many like us.

It’s the concept that is lost on a witch hunt America, that a man’s evil does not erase his good. No matter how our culture of championing falls, would like it to be so. 

I think sometimes, particularly in America, we raise people up, just to tear them down. That is arguably not the way, I’m not a bandwagon guy.   Judgement not by the consensus of the media or Social media, or one cursory interaction.

We all make up opinions on people, but perhaps those opinions should be as cognizant of our own… fallibility, as we can make it. And look at the supposed sins and failings of others, always in relation to our own sins and failings.

Something I absolutely do not think is currently happening in the media.

Was Harlan Ellison a prickly, abrasive, off-putting, and arguably contrary and combative person? As someone who has listened to just about all his recordings as well as read and listened to his writings… I believe Harlan Ellison would be the first one to say Yes!!!

He famously said, something to the effect ‘I’m a snake on a rock, don’t mes with me I’ll leave you alone. Mess with me i’ll bite you and hang on.’

That was Harlan Ellison. He suffered not fools. And he believed, he believed the wrong things should be railed against.

And that fire permeated his work, like the fire of invention. Harlan Elision changed the landscape of fiction, with an almost incendiary mirror to the fallacies of our age. His DANGEROUS VISIONS, written before I was born, and that I discovered as a teen, is (I think) for most who read it… the defining anthology of an age.

And in the decades since its publication that anthology and its sequel, continue to be the standard bearer by which all future anthologies are measured.

Harlan Ellison has been chastised for having been self aggrandizing, for his ‘look at me, aren’t I great’ attitude.

I, for one, think Harlan Ellison was a great writer. And his body of work will remain… great and essential, and oddly timeless.

He in many ways was some odd ying to Ray Bradbury’s yang, both of them being the voice for reason, in a world embroiled in madness. They both were masters of the cautionary tale, and their shadow looms large in the works of popular culture to this day. Like Poe they were the masters of the short story, and those short stories will only grow more beloved and adapted in the years to come.

Was Harlan Ellison self aggrandizing. It is the poor creator who isn’t , if he wants to sell his work.

Some creators are bad or uncomfortable with it, and hire others to do it for them. Some are great at it.

Harlan Ellison in addition to being a great writer, was arguably just as great a performer and showman. Like Jim Steranko he had the circus in his blood from a young age. Likely the way such men came up, kicking down doors is the reason the world knows their name today.

So to expect them to be something meek, because you are not comfortable with their breed of strong, is both inane and arrogant.

I love reading Ellison’s Books  for the very brashness of them. and their elegance, and the breath of his imagination, all  imposed by a hard early life, where dreams and the scraping, and shouting, and biting for them was all that made them real.

The very  ‘center of attention’ nature of Ellison, that so can put off others,  is the very thing that galvanizes me to him. And is one of the reasons listening to him perform his works makes them even richer.

He was a natural performer, and one of the best audio performers. Which is surprising giving his slightly nasally voice, but him performing was the audio equivalent of the energy Jack Kirby brought to his panel breaking drawings. It was raw energy and emotion and passion.

If you only know Harlan Ellison’s fiction from just reading, pick up the audio books.

He was one of the best audio actors of the 20th century, right up there with Orson Welles, Vincent Price, James Mason, Roddy McDowell, David Birney.

The thing about Ellison, he earned the right to be proud of his work. As did Bradbury, who had his own very good tv series. And there were plenty, and remain plenty to sing the praises of Ellison’s work. i own his 50th anniversary tome. An updated followup to it, containing the newsletter and other work he did prior to his passing, I definitely look forward to.

So to bring this back, if anyone does not like people who they feels push their importance’ that is their right.

But for every one who for whatever reason finds that behaviour bragging or pitiful, there are a lot that find it neither bragging or insincere, but simply informative, and the person’s personality.

And for me, Ellison, the personality I saw as a fan, was a great personality. And God knows we could use more of his take no bs personality  now, in a world of sheep meekly being bled to death by corporate gleed and malfeasance.

I’m sure he saw in this 21st century, everything he railed against in his fiction.

People also to do a sharp, awkward pivot off Harlan Ellison to accuse Brian Michael Brendis of disappointing publisher DC  Comics, because he misled them by , like Ellison, over-hyping himself.

That is to paraphrase some complaints I have heard. I like the work of Bendis, but he is no Harlan Ellison. The two do not fit in the same sentence. But you can get the gist of the thematic comparison Sleepy was making, by checking out his channel, and the video in question at the link below.

And to be clear, i like Sleepy Reader’s channel. I think it is very informative and you should subscribe. I have enjoyed just about all his shows and find him a highly intelligent, informed and informative person, providing a wealth of great information to this niche community of Comic Book fans on Youtube.

I take the time to write this post not to highlight how all of us in this talk show age, even the most intelligent of us, have started to internalize the sloppy thinking that has brought us to an America, that is regressing rather than progressing.


I am reminded of an Alan Moore line, that highlights the discrepancy between the truth of who we  were as angry young men, and who we hopefully grow into being.

As angry young men we have monologues rather than a conversation.  ‘Monologues  we have mistaken for the world’ to quote Alan Moore.

In closing HUGE FAN of Harlan Ellison here, as I mentioned, I hope they will releases a 70th anniversary anthology to follow up his 50th anniversary book.


For those reading this who want more from the late, great Harlan Ellison, as well as some of the other greats mentioned please use the following links:

Originally published in 1962 and updated in later decades with a new introduction, Ellison Wonderland shows a vibrant young writer with a wide-ranging imagination, ferocious creative energy, devastating wit, and an eye for the wonderful and terrifying and tragic. Among the gems are ”All the Sounds of Fear,” ”The Sky Is Burning,” ”The Very Last Day of a Good Woman,” and ”In Lonely Lands.” Though they stand tall on their own merits, they also point the way to the sublime stories that followed soon after and continue to come even now, more than fifty years later.

A Lit Fuse is an unguarded, uncensored, unquiet tour of the life of Harlan Ellison.

In late 2011 Harlan Ellison the multi-award-winning writer of speculative fiction and famously litigious personality did two uncharacteristic things. First, he asked biographer Nat Segaloff if he d be interested in writing his life story. Second, he gave Segaloff full control. The result is the long-anticipated A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison. The expansive biography, which is the first such project in which Ellison has permitted large portions of his varied works to appear, is published by NESFA Press.

Segaloff conducted exhaustive interviews with Ellison over the course of five years and also spoke with many of his friends and enemies in an effort to get inside the man and pin down the best-known Harlan stories. Their wide-ranging discussions cover his bullied boyhood, his storied marriages, his fabled lawsuits, and his compulsive writing process with more depth and detail than has ever before appeared in print. But it also delves deeply into the man s deeply held principles, his fears, and the demons that have driven him all of his 83 (so far) years. Friends, colleagues, and admirers such as Neil Gaiman, Patton Oswalt, Peter David, Robert Sawyer, Michael Scott, Edward Asner, Leonard Nimoy, Ed Bryant, Alan Brennert, Robert Silverberg, and many other notables add their voices.

Along the way the reader is treated to an analysis of the Connie Willis controversy, the infamous dead gopher story, allegedly pushing a fan down an elevator shaft, and the final word on The Last Dangerous Visions. What emerges is a rich portrait of a man who has spent his life doing battle with his times and himself, always challenging his readers to reach for a higher plane and goading himself to get them there. It s funny, wise, shocking, and well, it’s Harlan.

Rediscover the Early Ellison. This collection restores to print fifteen never-collected tales from the first dozen years of his career. Hard-hitting crime stories like “Thrill Kill,” “Girl at Gunpoint,” “Kill Joy,” “Knife/Death” and “Burn My Killers!” share the table of contents with stories of betrayal, including “Death Climb,” “Riff,” “Mac’s Girl,” and “The Honor in the Dying.” And, together for the first time, Ellison’s three detective stories featuring insurance investigator Jerry Killian. Toss in the solo outing of a diminutive private dick named Big John Novak (of whom Ellison expected to write much more, but never did) and a sexy Western called “Saddle Tramp” and you’ve got quite an assemblage of tales from the seamier side of life. All that, plus “The Final Movement,” a never-before-published story from the mid-1950s. Better than a poke in the eye with a white-hot bone of Amenhotep, I think you’ll agree.

Harlan Ellison is probably best known as a script writer for sci-fi and fantasy movies and TV series such as the original Outer Limits, The Hunger, Logan’s Run, and Babylon Five. But his range is much broader than that, encompassing stories, novels, essays, reviews, reminiscences, plays, even fake autobiographies. Essential Ellison includes contains 74 unabridged works, including such classics as “A Boy and His Dog,” “Xenogenesis,” and “Mefisto in Onyx.” Includes black-and-white photos.



Best to any one reading this!



Been listening to episodes of SFF AUDIO, a Science Fiction Feed Podcast that covers all things scifi, from scifi readings to interviews to reviews and much more. Today I caught two episodes that share a common theme… Opium.

The first story is a great reading of WHO’S THERE by Fitz James O’Brien, brought to us by the host of another great short story podcast HYPNOBOBS, Jim Moon.

The second is the H.P. Lovecraft story, THE CRAWLING CHAOS excellently read by Wayne June, (Episode #138)

Far less interesting is the dissection of the latter story, that succeeds it on that particular episode, led by two pedantic hosts.

While it’s nice to hear both Jim Moon and Wayne June as guest commentators on that particular discussion, they are both performers with great voices, the aforementioned hosts, whose names escape me, aren’t that melodious, and while they don’t have to be, I do find their over-analysis of the Lovecraft short story grating rather than enlightening.

But that’s more than likely just me, as I tend to think like many creators that the two most meaningless, tiresome things you can ask of a creative person is “what does it mean” (Beksinski the painter particularly hated this question) and “where do you get your ideas from” (Harlan Ellison among others has had very little love for this question, from those for whom no explanation is enough).

While I am by no means a Lovecraft fan, I do acknowledge him, in his better moments, as a visionary, influenced by others such as the aforementioned Fitz James OBrien, and as such there is an ineffable quality in his work, the nature of the mystery, that to each reader is a bit unique. And to try too hard to decipher or lock down that mystery, to try to cross every ‘t’, and dot every ‘i’, which is what I took away from the post discussion, is to risk cataloging it with their heads, while missing it with their hearts.

It’s that pedantic nature to the dissection, which I find appropriate to accounting or taxes but… inappropriate and indeed anathema to the experience of art.

Perhaps proof that knowledge is not understanding.

That’s my take on it, your mileage may vary.

So great reading, but, my take, avoid the discussion afterwards.

Otherwise both episodes make for great listening.

Listen to episodes here!

THE BEST OF VIRGIL FINLAY: An overview of the best Virgil Finlay art books Pt 1 of 2!

“How does it feel?

How does it feel?

To be on your own?!

With no direction home?!

How does it feel?”

—Bob Dylan

Okay, onto this installment’s topic…

Virgil Finlay.

Do you know the name?

A month ago, I couldn’t say I did.

I had come across his work and his name in passing, without ever really internalizing them. A month or so ago I picked up a lavish Edgar Allen Poe tome, and the most memorable and impressive thing about it was this one Virgil Finlay drawing.

It set me off it did.

The compulsive in me.

The collector in me.

The one for whom… nothing is forgotten. Nothing is ever forgotten.

Least of all the fleeting, tortured gasps of genius… we call art.

Virgil Finlay was an artist of the early days of the 20th century. Perpetually underpaid, he crafted time-consuming masterpieces of pen and ink (done one laborious drop at a time, no photoshop for him, no short-cuts, what you see in his drawings is a level of detail that could only be called… staggering) for the popular, but cheap mass medium, of penny a word pulps.

Hailed as a master in his own lifetime, he was the sought after artist for many up and coming writers, making their name in the pulps… among them Harlan Ellison and Robert Bloch.

His work decades later, even to I… who am somewhat informed of the work of great artists past and present, is revelatory.

It is the work of someone… compelled.

“We do these things not because they are permitted.

We do them because we are compelled.”
—Rorschach in Alan Moore’s WATCHMEN

There are various Virgil Finlay art books but only five that I consider… must have additions to any art lover’s library. The five books being in chronological order THE BOOK OF VIRGIL FINAY (1975)

It is testament to Finlay’s prodigious talent and output that these five books, over a 130pages, each chock full of full page Finlay art, that there is surprisingly little overlap of material. Each book offers something essential not found in the others, and as such it’s an impressive and, I feel, highly worthwhile quintet of books, and overview of an artist, and his art. And they all leave you with an indelible interest to read the short stories (typically) that Finlay’s illustrations complemented.

If you have to choose one book to start with, the well named THE BOOK OF VIRGIL FINLAY is a good one. Compiled by Art Collector Gerry De La Ree, he had more to do with keeping Finlay’s name alive, and championing him in the early 70s and bringing his largely forgotten work (mostly left to rot in the browning pulp pages of the 30s and 40s that they adorned),to a new generation. Much as Francis M. Nevins unflagging writings and praise helped lionize, justly, the work of Cornell Woolrich to modern readers far removed from his pulp heyday.

Indeed Edgar Allen Poe himself, dismissed in his own life time and years later, owes his current elevated literary status to a biography done on him in the early 20th century. Again by a collector and a fan. So the importance of the fan, the collector, the patron, the lover of art… can not be overstated.

Because without this person to glorify the work, it runs the high risk, in an always mercenary market, of rotting away.

Gerry De La Ree, is not Virgil Finlay’s only champion, but his 1975 book marks him as one of those pivotal voices, whose work has helped preserve Finlay from that most common curse of men… that we and our works are forgotten.

In 1975 Gerry De La Ree’s book was both eulogy and clarion call to his friend and idol, it was testament… proof against his friend being forgotten. And it worked, because 36 years after the publication of THE BOOK OF VIRGIL FINLAY, I’m talking about the book, and the man, and his art. And it spurred me to pick up the other 4 essential Finlay books.

And I think, it will you.

THE BOOK OF VIRGIL FINLAY is not the best book of the five, (this being the Avon Books Softcover I’m referring to, I’ve never seen a copy of Gerry De La Ree’s Self Published Hardcover) construction-wise it suffers from poor paper stock and even poorer binding. If you can find a copy today that does not suffer from browning, mildewed pages, or crumbing binding and evaporated glue (I have one copy, that basically turned into a pile of looseleaf pages as soon as I tried to look through it) then get it and hold onto it.

Because poor construction aside what TBOVF does offer, that none of the other books does, is a chronological overview of Finlay’s artwork that covers the years from 1933 to 1968.

It’s amazing to see that over this 30+ year period, how consistently excellent and varied and innovative and experimental is Finlay’s output. Beyond the constants of masterful detail, his imagination makes each drawing fresh, and eschewing stereotypes.

So THE BOOK OF VIRGIL FINLAY is a must own book, if you can get it in any thing approaching collectible condition. Strongly Recommended. We’ll cover the other four books in an upcoming post.

“I make no claim that these are the best of Finlay, though certainly many of them rank with his best and, hopefully will demonstrate the meticulous craftsmanship of this man who took such pride in his art despite the inferior publications for which he often was working.”
–From Gerry De La Ree’s Introduction to THE BEST OF VIRGIL FINLAY

Lord of Dark Places

I heard something profound today
About those who ride the lightning
That invariably they fear the thunder
Because it proclaims their day is done

Books on my to purchase/read pile:

Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos (Paperback) by Michio Kaku
Airing Dirty Laundry by Ishmael Reed
Violent Spring by Gary Phillips
Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman by Malidoma Patrice Some

African Rhapsody by Nadezda Obradovic
Joyce Ann Brown:Justice Denied by Joyce Ann Brown
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines
Flat Broke in the Free Market: How Globalization Fleeced Working People by Jon Jeter
Deals With the Devil: And Other Reasons to Riot by Pearl Cleage
The Lord of Dark Things – Hal Bennett
Insanity Runs in the Family – Hal Bennett
Brother: Black Soldiers in the Nam

FBI War on Tupac Shakur & Black Leaders by John Potash

Sites of the day:

When the law itself is lawless, what do you do?

DVDs of the Day:

DRAGON INN (1992- Donnie Yen)
LEGEND OF THE WOLF (1997- Donnie Yen)
BALLISTIC KISS (1998- Donnie Yen)

Directors of the Day:

Henri-Georges Clouzot 1907-1977 his masterpieces are WAGES OF FEAR and DIABOLIQUE
Jean Pierre Melville 1917-1973 his masterpieces are LE SAMOURAI, LE DOULOS, BOB LE FLAMBEUR

“There is no greater solitude than the samurai’s
unless it be that of the tiger in the jungle”– Le Samourai’s preface

tell me about summer
tell me about fall
i can’t make it
make any reason at all

Korean word of the day (spelt phonetically so you can pronounce them)-

Ahn young hah say oh: hello-peace-do peacefully
Kahm sah hahm nidah: Thank You
Chae Song Hahn Nidah: Pardon Me
Toe Wah Jew Say Oh: Please Help Me
Ahn Young Hee Gae Say Oh: Goodbye
Cheon Man Ne Yo: You are welcome

Quick Book Reviews:

GHOUL by Michael Slade: Excellent

WASP FACTORY by Ian Banks: Disturbing

CABAL by Clive Barker: So-So

INHUMAN CONDITION by Clive Barker: Not as great as the first three BOOKS OF BLOOD, but still recommended

HARVEST OF HORRORS by Eric Potter: Average

DARK VISIONS by Harlan Ellison: Very Good

MISERY by Stephen King: Very Disturbing

WHISPERS I by Stuart Schiff: Good

Edgar Allen Poe

James Baldwin

Today’s recommended audo drama/listen:

CHATTERBOX AUDIO THEATER HALLOWEEN SHOW 2009 PT 1 & 2- Finally listened to this today. Short review? It’s just great. A compilation of seven tales of terror. I mentioned this group previously, and they continue to just get more impressive. It’s really nice to see Audio Drama not only still being produced in the US, but productions of such an incredibly high quality. This is work to make the greats of radio’s heyday proud. Also I appreciate them using the American spelling of theater rather than the British spelling, like some American productions (perhaps to seem more “artsy”) are wont to do.You can listen to THE HALLOWEEN shows here.

Also while there check out the shows SURFACING and THE YELLOW WALLPAPER. Both are highly recommended.

Okay well that’s all my rambling today. Enjoy!

THE ULTIMATE EDGAR ALLEN POE and Today’s Greatest Voices!


I’m currently on an audio drama kick (but then again, when am I not 🙂 ). One of my favorites of course being:

WALTER MOSLEY’s ‘Little Scarlet’ read by Michael Boatman. Michael Boatman is one of the best audio actors I’ve come across, and I’ve listened to several hundred audio books. Add him to Walter Mosley and you have a MUST BUY audio book! I’ve been looking for his current audio book work, but so far haven’t found any updated info.

And re-listening to the above, put me back in mind of my pet project.

You all know one of my pet projects is THE ULTIMATE POE CD, the idea is to get great actors together to do readings of Poe’s works. I think it’s a shame that great actors have shuffled off this mortal coil without doing their take on Poe’s TELL TALE HEART.

Call me strange, but if I’m an actor I would think there’s some attraction to the idea of doing Shakespeare, doing Poe, recording these classics for generations to come.

Thankfully people of yesteryear were forward thinking enough, so that we have recordings of Price, Basil Rathbone, Karloff, Peter Lorre, even James Mason doing THE TELL TALE HEART, but for every actor we do have immortalized, there are tons we don’t. no Orson Welles, no Ossie Davis no Paul Robeson doing Poe.

As you can tell I dig Poe. Not all by any means, there’s a good bit of Poe’s work I don’t like. He is a product of his time, and at times in addition to being a bigot his lesser work has a tendency to meander, to be unworthy of him at his best. To speak poorly or him, and his talent. But his TELL TALE HEART is the ultimate performance piece. It just is. And it should be a rite of passage for all great actors.

So my mission is to commit the great audio actors of our day to an ULTIMATE POE cd. Guys whose voices should be immortalized, doing the memorial work of Poe.

Upon my list of dream actors to get for this project is Avery brooks, Harlan Ellsion, Michael Dorn, David Birney, Patrick Stewart and of course Michael Boatman. I’ve been attempting to make this happen, but nothing yet.

So if you’re the agent for these guys contact me! 🙂

Or if you’re just someone who wants to help me make this happen, contact me. And I’m not worried about someone stealing this idea, hey my only concern is getting this done, and getting this stuff recorded for posterity. I don’t care who does it, as long as it gets done. If you can help me, great. If I can help you, great.

And if you want to hear my current favorite performance of TELL TALE HEART, go read this old post and you’ll find a link to listen to Richard Taylor’s kirking rendition of THE TELL TALE HEART. Great stuff!