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Editor, The Konformist
Steamshovelpress.com is back! New web content! New book product! New conference information! PLUS: a new, daily, twitterish quip: "Parapolitics Offhand!"
Now available on CD and through US Mail only: Popular Parapolitics, 219 pages, illustrated, of comentary on the nexus of parapolitics and popular culture. $15 post paid from Kenn Thomas, POB 210553, St. Louis, MO 63121.
Larry Hagman, AKA J.R. Ewing. The greatest villain in TV history...
Boxing great Hector "Macho" Camacho...
'Life of Pi'
A movie review of "Life of Pi," Ang Lee's gorgeous, enthralling adaptation of Yann Martel's best-selling 2001 novel about a shipwreck survivor who shares a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger.
November 20, 2012
Every generation of moviegoers should have the opportunity to enjoy its own variation on "Robinson Crusoe" or "The Black Stallion" the kind of nature-oriented survival epic that invariably emphasizes dazzling and exotic visuals.
Usually there's a shipwreck involved, and that's most spectacularly the case with Ang Lee's gorgeous "Life of Pi," based on Yann Martel's best-selling 2001 novel about a boy who loses his family to the Pacific Ocean in 1977.
But there's something unusually receptive about Pi, engagingly played by Ayush Tandon as a child, by Suraj Sharma as a teenager and by Irrfan Khan as a reminiscing adult. (The only "name" in the cast is Gérard Depardieu, who has a distracting cameo role as a disgruntled cook.)
Pi is on a spiritual quest even before disaster happens, eventually defining himself as a "Catholic Hindu" who can't make sense of Jesus' sacrifice but wants to be baptized.
After the ship sinks, Pi discovers that his human family has been replaced in a lifeboat by a miniature Noah's Ark, including one ferocious Bengal tiger, nicknamed Richard Parker, who wouldn't mind making a meal of Pi. It's up to Pi to convince the creature that he can satisfy his hunger in other ways.
As they dine on fish, conduct one-way conversations and survive another ferocious storm, Pi and Richard appear to have all the time in the world to solve this little problem. Eventually the tiger is coaxed into becoming a pal.
Lee, the Oscar-winning director of "Brokeback Mountain," working with 3D for the first time, turns "Life of Pi" into a liquid dream, propelled by images of people, fish and other creatures swimming almost as if they were equals in a sunbaked underwater paradise.
Nighttime scenes are equally enthralling, thanks in part to a daring and essential special-effects department. Many of the most beautiful images were created in India and Taiwan.
If the religious discussions in David Magee's script occasionally seem contrived, they're also quite sincere. Best of all, they fit the characters and their ages.
'Les Misérables': Is Anne Hathaway Musical The Oscar Front-Runner?
Nov 26 2012
Do you hear the people sing, singing the praises of "Les Misérables"? Depending on whom you followed on Twitter over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the answer is very likely "yes."
Director Tom Hooper's adaptation of "Les Mis" premiered in New York City on Friday for select critics, just hours after the filmmaker completed his final cut of the film. The overwhelming consensus is that the "King's Speech" director has delivered a serious Oscar contender, if not the frontrunner, in what's already shaping up to be an extremely competitive awards season.
It's widely agreed that Anne Hathaway is a lock for a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role as tragic factory worker Fantine. "Anne Hathaway could easily win supporting actress," Fandango.com correspondent Dave Karger wrote after the NYC screening. "Her 'I Dreamed a Dream' is the showstopper."
Hugh Jackman is also considered likely to secure his first-ever Oscar nomination for playing the "Les Mis" leading man, ex-con Jean Valjean. His performance has received raves from critics, with Hooper himself going so far as to say the movie would not exist without Jackman.
"The audition with Hugh, which was in May of last year, was an extraordinary moment because that was when I knew I had a movie," Hooper told Deadline.com shortly after the first "Les Mis" screening in New York. "Hugh has a kind of innate grace and spirit as a human being and a great kind of moral compass and gentleness that is perfectly suited for this man going on this spiritual journey. In that audition the sheer power of his singing standing just a couple of feet in front of me was formidable. That's when I knew this was a 'go' movie in my head. He took me over the line in three hours."
Beyond acting nods, many are placing "Les Mis" as the current Best Picture frontrunner a late-game status that Hooper is used to by now, having gone through a similar experience with "The King's Speech" ahead of the 2011 Oscars.
"Is this the one to take it all the way, two years after Hooper did precisely that?" wonders Kristopher Tapley of Hitfix.com. "I'm thinking it might just be."
2013 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inductees
(Johnny Russell, Voni Morrison)
"AIN'T NOBODY HEREBUT US CHICKENS"
Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five
(Joan Whitney, Alex Kramer)
"ALLONS À LAFAYETTE (LAFAYETTE)"
BACK IN BLACK
BAND ON THE RUN
Paul McCartney & Wings
(Traditional arr. Stepp)
Library of Congress (1937)
Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton
(Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller)
"I GOT YOU (I FEEL GOOD)"
JOHN COLTRANE AND JOHNNY HARTMAN
John Coltrane And Johnny Hartman
LOST IN THE STARS
Original Broadway Cast
Musical Show (Album)
MINGUS AH UM
"MY BLACK MAMA [PARTS 1 & 2]"
Francis Craig And His Orchestra
(Francis Craig & Kermit Goell)
(Jerry Leiber, Barry Mann, Mike Stoller, Cynthia Weil)
Lennie Tristano Sextet
"EL DÍA QUE ME QUIERAS"
(Carlos Gardel, Alfredo Le Pera)
Uni Records (1970)
FOGGY MOUNTAIN BANJO
Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs And The Foggy Mountain Boys
HERE'S LITTLE RICHARD
"HIT THE ROAD JACK"
Memphis Jug Band
THAT NIGGER'S CRAZY
"THEME FROM 'NEW YORK, NEW YORK'"
(Fred Ebb & John Kander)
Traditional Pop (Single)
"THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN'"
Ernest V. "Pop" Stoneman
(Ernest V. "Pop" Stoneman)
YouTube Video of the Week:
Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura - Death Ray
Will Jesse Ventura and the team discover the dark history lurking behind the fabled "Death Ray" weapon? Watch Conspiracy Theory - Wednesdays @ 10PM on truTV.
BIG HOLIDAY 3 FOR 2 SALE!!!
We are excited to announce the commencement of our annual winter holiday sale. Beginning this Feral Friday and ending on New Years Eve you will have the opportunity to order 3 books through our site and only pay for 2 of them. Simply order 2 books and in the notes section put the title of the 3rd book you want to receive as your free gift. The 3rd book must be of equal or lesser value to the other 2. More details and package ideas to come but here are a few suggestions to get you inspired.
Prisoner of X: 20 Years in the Hole at Hustler Magazine
Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin
Joseph Farrell package
Genes Giants Monsters and Men
John Zerzan package
Twilight of the Machines
Future Primitive Revisited
Secret Agent 666
Sex and Rockets
Thee Psychick Bible
New release memoir package
Several Ways to Die
Blood Beneath My Feet
Self-Reliance package (from Process Media)
Get Your Pitchfork On
We will also be offering a specially priced Process Church package which will include an autographed copies of Love Sex Fear Death: The Inside Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgement and Propaganda and the Holy Writ of the Process Church of the Final Judgement - which includes The Gods on War in text and read by Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Lydia Lunch, Adam Parfrey and Timothy Wyllie. The package will also come with a CD of the Sabbath Assembly's recordings of old Process Church hymnals reProcessed.
MORE TO COME! DON'T FORGET TO CHECK OUT THE PROCESS MEDIA BOOK SALE AS WELL!
Konformist Book Club
The Big Lebowski: An Illustrated, Annotated History of the Greatest Cult Film of All Time
Jenny M. Jones
List Price: $35.00
Price: $22.10 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25.
You Save: $12.90 (37%)
Kindle Edition $19.25
Publication Date: September 15, 2012
Whether contending with nihilists, botching a kidnapping pay-off, watching as his beloved rug is micturated upon, or simply bowling and drinking Caucasians, the Dude or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing abides. As embodied by Jeff Bridges, the main character of the 1998 Coen brothers' film The Big Lebowski is a modern hero who has inspired festivals, burlesque interpretations, and even a religion (Dudeism). In time for the fifteenth anniversary of The Big Lebowski, film author and curator Jenny M. Jones tells the full story of the Dude, from how the Coen brothers came up with the idea for a modern LA noir to never-been-told anecdotes about the film's production, its critical and commercial reception, and, finally, how it came to be such an international cult hit. Achievers, as Lebowski fans call themselves, will discover many hidden truths, including why it is that Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) is so obsessed with Vietnam, what makes Theodore Donald "Donny" Kerabatsos (Steve Buscemi) so confused all the time, how the film defies genre, and what unexpected surprise Bridges got during filming of the Gutterballs dream sequence. (Hint: it involved curly wigs and a gurney.) Interspersed throughout are sidebars, interviews with members of the film's cast and crew, scene breakdowns, guest essays by prominent experts on Lebowski language, music, filmmaking techniques, and more, and hundreds of photographs including many of artwork inspired by the film.
The 1998 Coen brothers' film The Big Lebowski is often ranked as the top cult film of all time for good reason. Few if any other movies can be said to have inspired festivals around the globe, artwork ranging from paper dolls to triptychs, names of bars and stores, and of course, incalculable amounts of quoting.
In this first complete, illustrated history of The Big Lebowski, film curator Jenny M. Jones investigates what it is that has made Lebowski such a remarkable hit, from its origins to its filming, release, and legacy. Never-been-told stories from members of the film's cast and crew paint a vivid picture of what it was like to create a movie so unlike any other; these stories and more are accompanied by hundreds of photographs as well as sidebars and guest essays by such Lebowski experts as the founder of religion Dudeism and the owner of the Little Lebowski Shop in New York.
From the Back Cover:
"Mark it eight, Dude."
What do you do for recreation? If your answer is that you bowl, drive around, and have the occasional acid flashback, you are probably the Dude, the hero of the Coen brothers' ingenious 1998 film The Big Lebowski.
If your answer is instead, "I watch The Big Lebowski," then this book is for you. This is the first comprehensive, illustrated history of the film, complete with never-been-told stories from members of the cast and crew, sidebars on everything from the Dude's drink of choice (the White Russian, or, as he calls it, the "Caucasian") to Marty the Landlord's interpretive dance, and guest essays by such Lebowski experts as the founder of the religion of Dudeism and the owner of the Little Lebowski Shop in New York. Richly illustrated throughout, this book is funny, insightful, and will make you appreciate Lebowski on a whole new level.
Trust us when we (the royal "we," you know, the editorial) say that this book will really tie your room together.
Hardcover: 216 pages
Publisher: Voyageur Press; First edition (September 15, 2012)
Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road
Foreward by Kinky Friedman
Illustrations by Micah Nelson
Release Date: November 13, 2012
List Price: $22.99
Price: $13.40 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25. Details
You Save: $9.59 (42%)
Kindle Edition $11.04
Paperback, Large Print $15.63
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Large Print Paperback:
Unabridged Audible Audio Edition:
You won't see no sad and teary eyes
When I get my wings, and it's my time to fly
Just call my friends and tell them
There's a party, come on by
So just roll me up and smoke me when I die
In Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, Willie Nelson muses about his greatest influences and the things that are most important to him, and celebrates the family, friends, and colleagues who have blessed his remarkable journey. Willie riffs on everything: music, wives, Texas, politics, horses, religion, marijuana, children, the environment, poker, hogs, Nashville, karma, and more. He shares the outlaw wisdom he has acquired over eight decades, along with favorite jokes and insights from friends and others close to him. Rare family pictures, beautiful artwork created by his son Micah Nelson, and lyrics to classic songs punctuate these charming and poignant memories. Willie Nelson has touched millions, and none more deeply than his family, friends, and bandmates, several of whom share, for the first time, intimate stories about the Red Headed Stranger.
From teaching a granddaughter to play the guitar to touring with the Highwaymen, from picking cotton while growing up in Texas to being home with the tribe on Maui, Willie takes you on the tour bus and, through candid observations and vivid recollections, gives you a front-row seat to his remarkable world. But beware: "You know you shouldn't be reading this BS, it could ruin you for all time to come," he says. "You could end up a social outcast like me, an outlaw!"
At once a road journal written in his inimitable, homespun voice and a fitting tribute to America's greatest traveling bard, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Dieintroduced by Kinky Friedman, another favorite son of Texasis a deeply personal look into the heart and soul of a unique man and one of the greatest artists of our time, a songwriter and performer whose legacy will endure for generations to come.
"Nelson's unmistakable voice shines through . . . funny, inspirational and bawdy, with a well-honed sense of humor." (Kirkus Reviews)
"An irreverent, entertaining read. Humble, optimistic, and quick to give credit to those around him for contributing to his success, Nelson is a charming narrator." (Publishers Weekly)
"Nelson takes us for a rollicking ride along the highways and byways of his long life and career in this rambunctious, hilarious, reflective, and loving memoir." (American Songwriter)
"Compelling page-turner... for all his fame and accessibility, he still has so much wisdom left to share." (Jambands.com )
"So many decades into his fabled life and career, Willie fans pretty much know what to expect from him. And he does not let his readers down with his Musings From the Road. " (Country Music Television, Nashville Skyline blog )
Born in Abbott, Texas, on April 29, 1933, Willie Nelson is one of the most popular, prolific, and influential songwriters and singers in the history of American music. A Kennedy Center honoree in 1998, he has been inducted into a number of music halls of fame and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. During the past six decades, he has recorded more than one hundred albums, appeared in several films, and written two New York Times bestsellers: Willie: An Autobiography and The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes. He resides in Texas and Hawaii.
Micah Nelson is a musician, visual artist, and videographer who plays regularly with his father, Willie Nelson.
Kinky Friedman is an author, musician, defender of strays, cigar smoker, and the governor of the heart of Texas.
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (November 13, 2012)
The Beatles Record Their First No. 1
Monday, Nov. 26, 2012
Starting today, Brow Beat will follow the Beatles every week in "real time," 50 years later, from their first chart-topper to their final rooftop concert. We begin with the Fab Four's first No. 1 hit, "Please Please Me," recorded on Nov. 26, 1962.
John Lennon wrote "Please Please Me" at his Aunt Mimi's house in Liverpool, but it was months later50 years ago today, to be exactthat the Beatles finally got the song right. When they first played it in studio for George Martin, on Sept. 11, 1962, the producer was not impressed. It was a slower, bluesier number, modeled on Roy Orbison songs like "Only the Lonely," and Martin dismissed it. He called it "a dirge."
Martinand the Beatles' label, Parlophone Recordswanted the band's next single to be "How Do You Do It?" by the English songwriter Mitch Murray. Martin was sure it would be a hit. But the Beatles hated the idea. They thought the catchy but elementary tune was antiquated, even embarrassinghow could they show their faces around Liverpool if they made it big with that? If they wanted to succeed on their own terms, though, they would have to prove themselves as songwritersand Martin was skeptical of their skills at songcraft. "Their songwriting was crap," he later said. "The first record we issued was `Love Me Do' and `P.S. I Love You'which are not exactly Cole Porter, are they?"
So the band went back to work. First they sped up the tempothe word tempo was new to themand added harmonies, as Martin suggested, and then they added a new hook, played on lead guitar by George Harrison. While the song was inspired musically by Orbison and lyrically by Bing Crosby's "Please," the new version more closely resembled the Everly Brothers' "Cathy's Clown," particularly in the harmony: McCartney held a high E while Lennon's melody descended below it, a trick from the Everlys' repertoire.
When they debuted the new version in the studio on November 26, 1962, Martin thought better of their songwriting skills, adding only a harmonica to double up on Harrison's new guitar riff. (You can hear the version without the harmonica on Anthology.) After they recorded their 18th and final take, George Martin piped in on the intercom: "Congratulations, gentlemen," he told them, "You've just made your first No. 1."
Martin was rightmostly. In 1962, there wasn't one definitive chart in Britain, and the charts disagreed about "Please Please Me." The single hit the top of the Melody Maker and New Musical Express charts, but others had it only at No. 2, behind Frank Ifield's similarly harmonica-heavy "Wayward Wind."
Lennon's Aunt Mimi, who was skeptical of Lennon's career choices after their first singleMcCartney's "Love Me Do," which topped out at No. 17 in Decemberthought more of "Please Please Me." "That's more like it," she said, "That should do well."
Do Orchestras Really Need Conductors?
November 27, 2012
All Things Considered
Have you ever wondered whether music conductors actually influence their orchestras?
They seem important. After all, they're standing in the middle of the stage and waving their hands. But the musicians all have scores before them that tell them what to play. If you took the conductor away, could the orchestra manage on its own?
A new study aims to answer this question. Yiannis Aloimonos, of the University of Maryland, and several colleagues recruited the help of orchestral players from Ferrara, Italy.
They installed a tiny infrared light at the tip of an (unnamed) conductor's baton. They also placed similar lights on the bows of the violinists in the orchestra. The scientists then surrounded the orchestra with infrared cameras.
When the conductor waved the baton, and the violinists moved their bows, the moving lights created patterns in space, which the cameras captured. Computers analyzed the infrared patterns as signals: Using mathematical techniques originally designed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Clive Granger, Aloimonos and his colleagues analyzed whether the movements of the conductor were linked to those of the violinists.
The scientists hypothesized that if the movement of the conductor could predict the movements of the violinists, then the conductor was clearly leading the players. But if the conductor's movements could not predict the movement of the violinists, then it was really the players who were in charge.
"You have a signal that is originating from the conductor, because he is moving his hands and his body," Aloimonos explained. "And then the players, they perceive that signal, and they create another signal by moving the bows of the violin appropriately. So you have some sort of sensorimotor conversation."
(The research study is part of a larger project where Aloimonos is trying to figure out if human movements share something in common with human language; he suspects both are not only governed by a grammar, but that both may be based on similar processes in the brain.)
Aloimonos said the study found that conductors were leading the violinists the movement of the conductors predicted the movement of the violinists, not the other way around.
But the study found more: The scientists had two conductors lead the same orchestra. One was a veteran who exercised an iron grip over the violinists. The other was an amateur.
"What we found is the more the influence of the conductor to the players, the more aesthetic aesthetically pleasing the music was overall," Aloimonos said.
Music experts who listened to the performance of the orchestra under the control of the two conductors found the version produced by the authoritarian conductor superior. Remember, these experts didn't know which version was being led by the veteran conductor and which by the amateur. All they heard was the music.