Saturday, May 18, 2019

What I Watched: April 2019

Who watches the watchman watching the watchers?

Ramped up my TV/Movie watching in April! Whooooohoooo! Sort of.  A little vacation time and my son returning home helped out considerably.

1. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Episodes 9 and 10

Loved this show so much I'd watch it again. Such an interesting period of American history captured so well (I think, I wasn't alive). I loved the scenes in the Catskills and the scenes in the clubs; Alex Borstein's portrayal of Susie Myerson is delightful, and I'm apparently at the right age to completely identify with Tony Shalhoub's Abe Weissman despite having many, many differences (wish I had been a college professor, though). Luke Kirby's Lenny Bruce appearances amp the show up several notches. Sunny and bright (yet with threads of darkness lurking) and socially sharp, I can't recommend the show enough. I can't decide which season I enjoy more so I'll just consider them both necessary pieces of a unified whole.

2. Mystery Science Theater 3000, The Day Time Ended (Season Twelve)
3. Mystery Science Theater 3000, Killer Fish (Season Twelve)
4. Mystery Science Theater 3000, The Final Conflict (Season Nine)

Cormac was home from college and we had a bit of a marathon. I think I watched most of Killer Fish (Not to be confused with Season Nine's Devil Fish) by myself, which instantly put me in the groove to watch more. I've seen almost all of MST3Ks run but hadn't yet gotten around to watching the newest Netflix season. I was not disappointed. Killer Fish is a as pure a document of seventies entertainment as you will find, starring Lee Majors, Karen Black, and poor doomed Margaux Hemingway in an adventure with a sunken treasure in a reservoir filled with piranha. Brilliant. The Day Time Ended is a 1980 sf laff riot set on an Arizona horse farm with lots of reptilian stop-motion action and lasers. Cormac watched maybe half of that one, and then I encouraged him to watch one of my favorite MST3Ks of all time, The Final Conflict. He fell in love with the hilarious "heroism" of Zap Rowsdower as deeply as I did, I think, which gives me hope for humanity.

5. Long Lost

Tickets to this show at the wonderful Garde Arts Center, a birthday present from my brother. Interesting indie film shot and produced here in Connecticut by a very youthful team of creators. There was an insightful Q&A after the show, I asked a question: "Did the shooting script change much during the filming and production?"

6. A Star Is Born

I saw this with Kim on vacation in Florida via pay-per-view. Cooper and Gaga were both great and I love them in just about everything I've seen them in and I suppose this film deserved everything it achieved.

By the way, the greatest heavy metal cover of a pop song of all time? Arthemis's cover of Lady Gaga's Paparazzi, narrowly edging out Anthrax's cover of Joe Jackson's Got the Time. You can download it for free off the band's website.

7. Aquaman

Kim didn't make it through this one despite all the Momoa. It sure looked pretty (the movie, and yeah, Momoa) especially when the action went underwater. But maybe super hero movies have jumped the shark? Don't forget to tip your waitress!

8. The Romanoffs Season 1 Episodes 1-3

After Maisel, Kim and I wanted to dive into this one as we're relentless Mad Men fans. This one is quite different tonally from Mad Men and...just about anything else I've ever watched. Will reserve judgement and more detailed commentary until we've watched it through. Nice, though, to see Mad Men alumni.

Wow! That's a lot of viewing for me, and one of the entertainments listed above required me to leave the house.

My books can be found HERE for pennies a page.
None of these is a television show. Yet.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

What I Read: April 2019

Another eclectic month of reading for me, lighter on comics/graphic novels than typical, heavier on non-fiction.

I finished reading James Ellroy's "Hollywood Quartet":

1. The Big Nowhere
2. L.A. Confidential
3. White Jazz

Ellroy is a very interesting cat to me as a writer. In the "quartet" books, and some of the others, he employs a three "protagonist" structure--"protagonist" in quotes because some of these protagonists are as scuzzy as the more conventional bad guys they are up against--and in some of the books each of those protagonists has a foil or enemy, with all six of the threads weaving in and out. It is a pattern he's kept with the next book and linked quartet I started in May, American Tabloid. His energy and cadence is unique, and he does some very experimental stylistic things as the series progresses, especially in White Jazz, where I think he's trying to reinvent the form of the traditional Hollywood detective novel.

The dark journey continues

As subgenres go, Hollywood Detective is one of my favorites.

4. James Warren: Empire of Monsters, Bill Schelly

Pure joy reading this one, although per usual with books combining biography, business, and beloved artforms I'm left wanting more of all three. I've have in my own vault of horror most of the early issues of Creepy  and Eerie, and was really looking forward to any information on how those were started and how they grew, and also anything on the great artists and writers featured within. Spoiler Alert: Schelly reveals that Warren himself is working on autobiography, so without his direct input one wonders if choice anecdotes, stories, and details are held in reserve. Though he clearly loves his subject and the things he created, Schelly's work isn't hagiography and my guess any students/fans/practitioners of the genres Warren worked in would benefit from reading both this book and the one Warren is working on.

I was inspired enough after reading the book to buy the newest issue of The Creeps, a Warren-style magazine on newsstands today. I loved it!

5. Top Secret Non-Fiction Book, Top Secret

Research for a novel I'm working on; fantastic book and perfect for what I needed out of it.

6. Animal Man Vol. 5: The Meaning of Flesh, Tom Veitch, Steve Dillon, et al.

I have to confess I'm not connecting with this run as much as I did with Morrison's run, but that is probably my fault.

7. Spirit of Hawkwind, Nik Turner and Dave Thompson

My love of Hawkwind is well-documented, and readers of my earlier blog entry this week  What I Heard: April 2019 know the main score of the month was the RSD Hawkwind release of the month. Listening to the concert made me curious to read more about the band, whose evolution of sound and membership has continued over a fifty year span. This documents the earlier years when Nik was a member, from the band's inception up through 1976's Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music. Clearly only one viewpoint among dozens essential to the Hawkwind story, but a singular and very entertaining one at that. While reading I started listening to the Hawkwind studio releases in oder and I'm up to PXR5.

8. Dare to Lead, Brene Brown

An average year will see me reading six to ten business books. this one was more interesting and entertaining than most.

Like reading? Read one of these and support my efforts at the DANIEL WATERS SUPERSTORE:
Which is your favorite? Buy 'em all and I'll tell you mine

Thursday, May 9, 2019

What I Heard: April 2019

I've only got five new recordings to report on, which might be the fewest I've acquired in a month in...ten years??? Historically, I've added ten to fifteen full-length recordings a month to my collection, so to see only four is somewhat unnerving. But here's what I got:

1. Hellripper, Coagulating Darkness 

I'd received two tracks from this album when I was reviewing music for Metal Express Radio and the opening track  "Bastard of Hades" is a real scorcher I'd included in my most intense running setlist. The rest of the album is similarly energetic.

2. Sun Ra, Fate in a Pleasant Mood
3. Sun Ra, Marshall Allen presents Sun Ra and His Arkestra: In the Orbit of Ra

One of the reasons my monthly recording acquisitions number is so low is that I have ended my long-standing relationship with eMusic. It gives me no joy to write that sentence. I was a member for over twelve years and many times my monthly credits weren't enough to cover all of the new music I wanted and I'd eagerly buy "booster packs"; alas, eMusic's selection--which once included most major as well as indie labels--has declined to the point I found it to be a struggle to find anything. I'd had about twenty records in the "Save for Later" bucket and overnight eighteen of those were no longer available.

They do have a pretty good Sun Ra selection, an artist I hold in the highest regard.

Listen. Read. Leave the planet.

4. PROG 96, High Hopes

Every so often I'll buy a music magazine with a CD, usually MOJO or PROG. This one had articles of David Gilmour and Hawklords, who sadly are not included on the disc. None of the ten songs really jumped out at me but sometimes these things take time.

5. Hawkwind, The 1999 Party

My Record Store Day Purchase. There have been a few times I've really got caught up in the fervor of Record Store Day, but this year's adventure was a little strange. I wasn't even going to go but read through the online release list and saw The 1999 Party and realized that although I own 53 Hawkwind recordings (and another thirty "Hawkwind Family" recordings--Hawklords, Hawkwind Light Orchestra, Space Ritual, solo projects, etc. Does not include Motorhead) I did not own this one in any format. And this one had  Lemmy, Nik Turner, and Robert Calvert, so it promised to be an eclectic, high energy set.

Usually when I "do" RSD, I get to the local independent record store before it opens and wait, but this time I waffled about even going and so things were already in full swing by the time I got there. The tiny cluttered store was packed and cramped with people: it was like a game of human Tetris. I walked in, turned to the bin to my immediate left, flipped three records, and there it was...The 1999 Party. I grabbed it, and joined the cashier line which was already eight people deep without looking at anything else. The two guys--my age, maybe even older--ahead of me in line spent over a thousand dollars combined!

I felt a little strange driving home without a big bag o'stuff on a RSD, but I also felt an odd thrill of pride for being so focused. When I got home I went for a run, showered, and then queued up the record while looking through the jacket photos and liner notes. This was my favorite photo from the inside jacket:

I doubt Lemmy was the DM
Can anyone identify what they are playing? I don't think it is D&D, but D&D came out in 1974 and the concert on this record was recorded in March of that year. Can you imagine playing D&D with Hawkwind? With Sun Ra as the Dungeon Master???

I did. And I spent the rest of the afternoon listening and working on my current novel.

I wrote a novel called Aural History about a musician who sees ghosts of other musicians. You can buy it HERE

Cover Intentionally DIY

Saturday, May 4, 2019

QE Results for April 2019

In January I wrote a blog post entitled Queer Eye, My Daughter, and I where I related some of the experience and pleasure I had binge-watching the two season of the show with my daughter over the holiday break, and in doing so basically laid out a self-improvement (or self assessment, at least) plan for the year.  The plan involves taking an honest inventory of where am in life with regards to five categories, as I see them, as exemplified by the men on the Netflix show Queer Eye.  And so, an honest assessment on my performance for April in the five QE categories:

KARAMO: "Culture, Confidence, Put yourself out there". 4.5 stars. I wrote 202 pages, and once again I had to grind it out in the stretch, managing to write 56 pages the last three days of the month--a Pyrrhic victory, really, because those pages are largely crap and few of them are usable fiction. But three cheers for determination.

I made considerable progress on one of the three projects I mentioned last month.

Kim and I had a short vacation in Florida, where I snapped the photo above. We went to the Florida Aquarium in Tampa, and dumb luck would have us there on the only day it poured. We met some old friends for dinner and generally had a nice time.

Also, Hachette sent me some copies of the French edition of Brak My Heart 1,000 Times aka I Still See You
Merci Beaucoup!

TAN: "Make an effort with your personal appearance". A raise to 2.5. I bought more clothes on vacation and am generally making an effort more to look presentable when Kim and I go out. I kind of have to though, because I have lost so much weight most of my normal clothes make me look like I am caught in the deflating shreds of a popped hot air balloon. My very sizable love handles have been reduced to love pull tabs, making most of my pants, even beloved blue jeans, into clown pants.

BOBBY: "Create and maintain a physical environment that promotes productivity, creativity and inner harmony". I'm giving myself a raise to 3.5  I did a fair amount of yard work in April--I have a fairly sizable yard. My grandfather Zepherin, and his family before him, was a farmer in the town I know live in--a few years ago I went with my uncle, father, brother and son to see the land where his farm once stood but no longer does. It's less than two miles from my house. In later life he went as far metaphorically from farming as he could by becoming a manager at the plastics plant (which also is no more). He was the most gentle, kind man I ever knew, and I think of him every time I "work the soil"--trimming, clearing, seeding, raking, planting, fertilizing, watering. Watching the birds.

I love yardwork. I phrase I'd never thought I would write or say. When I was a young homeowner I absolutely hated it because I foolishly thought that every minute I spent in the yard was a moment away from writing. Years of experience have taught me that every moment spent in the yard helps encourage growth in the mind as well as in the environment.

We revere corn here. My favorite headline ever...feel the horror!

ANTONI: "Make nutrition healthy and enjoyable, cook for others". I'll take back the half point I lost last month for a 2.5. I'll keep it here. Did a lot of the meal prep but the meals I prepped were fairly pedestrian. Also, I had considerably more adult beverages than in the first three months of the year, most of them on vacation. I started keeping track of how much I drank this year, and in keeping track, it has made me turn the corner from drinking "just because" totruly enjoying adult beverages--I didn't really realize it, but I was drinking quite a bit last year, and probably the couple years before that. Counting the drinks has been instrumental in keeping indulgence under control, and no doubt has facilitated the incredible boost in exercise ability and weight loss. I've never felt better, and now consciously check myself to ask if having a drink or a bag of chips or whatever will add or subtract to that general feeling.

 I'm still adhering to a slightly relaxed form of Austerity (see Secrets of Weight Loss, Revealed), which at this point might mean it is now a lifestyle habit as opposed to a time-bound change.

JONATHAN: "Take care of yourself physically" I'm going to 4.  I ran 143 miles, making April my fourth consecutive +100 month, a feat I'm certain I've never done before in my life. In four months, I've eclipsed my totals for the entire years 2018, 2012, and 2013. I started keeping track of such things in 2011, the year I set my personal best, and I'm on pace to decimate that. I'd say fifty is the new thirty, but I was a fat oaf at 30. 

I've been lifting more, too. I won't make the cut for anyone's powerlifting club, but I'm trying to be consistent and conscious of what I'm doing and I think the upper body stuff is contributing greatly to the overall.

Wow! 17, with gains in three categories in the shortened month. Can self-actualization be very far away???.

Reading/watching/listening posts will soon follow--crazily, especially as April contains Record Store Day, I had far more watching than listening for the month. Factors I'll mention later make me think this will be a continuing trend.

I combine reading and listening, and writing, in my novel Aural History, which you can find HERE, along with my other ghost/zombie/human/punk/metal/sporto novels below...
Thanks fer yer bizness!