Archive for January, 2013

For the Lovecraft Collector Who Has Everything

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

For a mere $3,000, the passport of H.P. Lovecraft’s ex-wife Sonia Haft Greene Lovecraft can be yours!

As a one-of-a-kind item, that’s actually cheaper than many of Lovecraft’s rarer books…

Library Additions: Three Clark Ashton Smith Items

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

I managed to pick up three relatively uncommon Clark Ashton Smith items from Heritage Auction’s weekly book auction:

  • Smith, Clark Ashton. The Tartarus of the Suns. Roy A. Squires, 1970. First edition thread-bound chapbook, a Fine copy in envelope. The Fugitive Poems, First Fascicle, Zothique Edition. This is copy 105. Donald Sydney-Fryer, Emperor of Dreams: A Clark Ashton Smith Bibliography, P. 140. Chalker Owings, P. 588.

  • Smith, Clark Ashton. The Titans in Tartarus. Roy A. Squires, 1974. First edition thread-bound chapbook, a Fine copy in envelope. The Fugitive Poems, Second Series, First Volume, Xigarph edition. This is copy 30 of the “small” edition (as opposed to the “manuscript” sized edition). Donald Sydney-Fryer, Emperor of Dreams: A Clark Ashton Smith Bibliography, P. 140. Chalker Owings, P. 589.

  • (Smith, Clark Ashton). The Tales of Clark Ashton Smith: A Bibliography. Thomas C. L. Cockcoft, 1951. First edition chapbook, one of 500 copies, Near Fine- with a few small spots of soiling, phantom crease to rear dust jacket, and age darkening. Non-fiction. Currey (1978), P. 455. Tymn Schlobin Currey, A Research Guide to Science Fiction Studies, 323. A very early Clark Ashton Smith bibliography. Not as useful as I hoped it would be.
  • I’d long heard that Roy A. Squires’ small press chapbooks were very well made, and I finally was able to snag a couple of them at a reasonable price.

    I bought the Cockcroft because, well, I’m slightly fanatical about collecting bibliographic material, but also because I was hoping it might have some things not in Emperor of Dreams, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. I really would like a better Smith bibliography, as Emperor of Dreams is perhaps the most confusingly organized bibliography I’ve ever seen.

    Unlike a complete H. P. Lovecraft collection, a complete Clark Ashton Smith collection is probably within my means, but it’s a pretty long-term goal…

    “Movie 43 is the Citizen Kane of awful.”

    Monday, January 28th, 2013

    So sayeth Roger Ebert about the latest movie from Peter Farrelly. When Ebert says a movie is worse than Freddy Got Fingered, you know that all lower bounds of the barrel have been breached.

    More nuggets:

    Farrelly was going for a 21st century version of “The Groove Tube” and “Kentucky Fried Movie,” two very funny, very raunchy and very influential sketch-comedy flicks of the mid-1970s.

    The only thing “Movie 43” has in common with those movies is it’s in color.


    Academy Award winner Halle Berry no longer can cite “Catwoman” as the low point of her career.

    Ebert gave it Zero Stars. Yet, for some reason, his readers have given it four. Go figure.

    Shoegazer Sunday: Echodrone’s “Time”

    Sunday, January 27th, 2013

    Here’s Echodrone’s cover of The Alan Parsons’ Project’s “Time” from their Mixtape for Duckie covers album. The video has less than a hundred views as I type this, so I’m happy to showcase something that actually qualifies as new! Most cover albums do nothing for me, even by artists I really like (see also: Scratch My Back and Strange Little Girls), but everything I’ve heard from this I liked so much, I just went ahead and bought it

    See how long it takes you to figure out what the video is about, something I twigged to very early, and which ties into themes explored in their previous videos.

    Movie Review: Django Unchained

    Monday, January 21st, 2013

    Django Unchained
    Directed by Quentin Tarantino
    Written by Quentin Tarantino
    Starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Dennis Christopher, James Remar, David Steen, Laura Cayouette, Don Johnson, Ato Essandoh

    Django Unchained may not be Quentin Tarantino’s best film, but does seem to be the film that comes closest to fulfilling his vision for what he wanted it to be. He wanted to make a big-budget, hyper-violent, A-list, American spaghetti western antebellum slave revenge thriller. Django Unchained is such a perfect realization of that goal that I doubt anyone will ever attempt to do the exact same thing ever again.

    Also, it’s a film that admirably self-selects its audience. If you think you’ll like it, you’ll probably really, really like it. If you think you’ll hate it, you’ll probably really, really hate it. It’s not a film for the faint of heart, or those with a low threshold for movie brutality.

    If you’ve seen the trailer, then you know the basic setup: German bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) frees slave Django (Jamie Foxx) to help him track down three brothers he can identify, then makes him his partner in the bounty hunting business. A bit later, they go to rescue Django’s wife (Kerry Washington) from the clutches of Mississippi plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DeCaprio). Stylish gunplay and general brutality ensues.

    Like all Tarantino’s movies, there are postmodern nods and namechecks to previous films, including recycling the theme music from 1966’s Django for the opening titles. Unlike his previous films, Tarantino has done a better job sanding off the rough edges and toning down his showier stylistic flourishes. They’re still here, but seem like a more natural fit for the material, be it a slow motion montage as a procession rides past, or solarized flashbacks to Django’s slave past. Likewise, the digressions seem more organic to the film (a scene of proto-Klansmen bitching about the poor quality of eyeholes in their hoods is funny enough that you’re willing to overlook its shaggy nature).

    The script is clever and fairly taut for its 165 minute running time, and it doesn’t have the dead spots of (for example) Inglorious Basterds. There are two or three plot twists, some more improbable than others. Django’s wife is named Broomhilda and speaks German (because her original owner was German), which not only makes Waltz perfect for the role Tarantino obviously wrote for him, but actually provides three or four handy plot points in a nice, tidy package. They have a clever plan to rescue Broomhilda. It comes really, really close to succeeding.

    Acting ranges from the solid, to really good, to downright excellent. Bruce Dern and Don Johnson are just fine in supporting roles. Jammie Foxx is fine in what amounts to a Shaft Kicks Dixie’s Ass role, though suffers in comparison to Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name. Waltz is very effective in his hand-crafted role of a learned, articulate man who hates slavery and kills people for money, though it’s less of a revelation than his Oscar-winning turn as Hans Landa. Samuel L. Jackson finally gets to play a villain worthy of his simmering rage.

    But for me the best performance is the movie is DiCaprio’s Candie, a plantation owner whose southern hospitality doesn’t prevent him letting a runaway slave get ripped apart by dogs, and his fury at finding himself being played is something to behold. The trailer suggested he might be playing it to broad and jokey, but his actual performance is very nuanced. DiCaprio has steadily improved as an actor, and of what I’ve seen him in, this is easily his best work.

    Of course, some of the usual suspects have gotten their knickers in a twist over an American spaghetti western depicting the evils of slavery. What do they want, to soft peddle the crimes of slavery instead? And those criticizing the film for being brutal and violent: Have you not seen a Tarantino film before? It’s like someone complaining that the Seventh Season of South Park is full of potentially offensive humor. Really? You don’t say?

    As previously noted, those with a low threshold for bloodshed and brutality should stay far, far away. As Dwight noted after we left the theater, “I hope they gave the squib guy a bonus.” But if you like Tarantino, here he’s pretty much at the top of his game.

    And if I had known that the action figures would be discontinued, I would have picked some up.

    Shoegazer Sunday: Whipped Cream’s “Observatory Crest”

    Sunday, January 20th, 2013

    A Swedish shoegazer cover of a Captain Beefheart sing? Check.

    This Is My Shocked Face

    Friday, January 18th, 2013

    Whenever the topic of performance enhancing drugs come up, I’ve always half-seriously said that my working assumption is that all professional athletes are doping, a position that renders me immune to disappointment when someone tests positive for a PED

    However, looking at the Wikipedia entry for “Doping at the Tour de France,” it appears that my supposition is in fact pretty much correct, at least for cycling. In particular, not only did every winner between 1991 and 2007 test positive at one point or another, but in 2006, every top 10 finisher was either caught doping, admitted doping, or accused of doping. And the very earliest races were soaked in alcohol, ether, strychnine and cocaine.

    Was it Jon Stewart who said “The first sign that Lance Armstrong was doping when he won the Tour de France? He won the Tour de France!”

    I Have No Idea What Upstream Color is About

    Thursday, January 17th, 2013

    So Shane Carruth, the director of Primer (which you should all see immediately if you haven’t already) has a new film coming out called Upstream Color. Here’s the description from the IMDB:

    A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.

    From that description, I have no idea what it’s about. There’s an official site that’s equally non-informative. (And the film doesn’t seem to be coming to Austin soon.) There’s no source credit for H.P. Lovecraft, so presumably it isn’t the “The Colour Out of Space.”

    There’s a trailer out:

    The other two teaser trailers are equally mystifying:

    After watching all of them, I still have no idea what Upstream Color about.

    Steven Utley, RIP: 1948—2013

    Sunday, January 13th, 2013

    I just received word from Jessica Reisman:

    Molly let me know that Steve passed last night at about 10:40 pm, eastern. His family was with him.

    I’ll miss him.

    As will we all.

    Utley announced to his friends that he had been diagnosed with Type 4 cancer in his intestines, liver, and lungs, and a lesion on his brain on December 27, 2012. On January 7, he sent out an email saying that he was losing his motor skills and designated Jessica as his literary executor (and hopefully she’ll be able to get some of his swell stories back in print). On the morning of January 12 he slipped into a coma and died that night.

    Shoegazer Sunday: Hypomanie’s “A City in Stereo”

    Sunday, January 13th, 2013

    Another dose of Hypomanie to end another long week.