Tianjin, China Blows Up Real Good

August 13th, 2015

In case you missed the video, a fuel depot in Tianjin, a port city in northern China at about the same latitude of Pyongyang, blew up Real Good yesterday:

Library Addition: Signed Edition of Horror: 100 Best Books

August 13th, 2015

This is another book I bought in the Cold Tonnage 40% off sale.

Jones, Stephen and Newman, Kim. Horror: 100 Best Books. Xanadu Publications, Ltd., 1988. First edition hardback, #214 of 300 numbered copies signed by both the editors and almost every living one of the 100 (!) contributors, including Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Harlan Ellison, Basil Copper, Karl Edward Wagner, Jack Williamson, etc. etc etc. (though not by Stephen King), a Fine copy in decorated boards, sans dust jacket, as issued. Bought for £30 off Cold Tonnage, marked down from £50.

Horror 100 LTD

I tried to take pictures of the signatures on the endpapers, with varying results. Click to embiggen:

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I already had the trade edition, but the limited’s binding is quite different from the trade edition, as the picture below illustrates:

Horror 100 Both

(Ignore the grid lines, which are a scanner artifact.)

Library Addition: Bob Shaw’s The Palace of Eternity

August 11th, 2015

Cold Tonnage was having it’s annual 40% off sale (Andy Richards says he uses the sale to pay his taxes every year), so I picked up several books I’ll be listing over the next week or so.

Shaw, Bob. The Palace of Eternity. Gollancz, 1970. First hardback edition, a Near Fine copy with one small spot to page block edge and bumping to bottom points, in a Near Fine+ dust jacket with with small dust blemish to spine near Gollancz “SF” logo, a few tiny dust spots elsewhere, and a slight bumping at bottom tips. Inscribed by the author: “To Brian,/with best wishes/Bob Shaw.” Currey (1979), page 431. Pringle SF 100, 61. Barron, Anatomy of Wonder 4, 4-391. Bought for £120, marked down from £200.

Palace of Eternity

Restaurant Review: Hill’s Cafe

August 10th, 2015

Hill’s Cafe
700 S Congress Ave (Austin, 78745)
(512) 851-9300

Eaten at: July 25, 2015

Restroom Rating: 1.5 (Guys, when one soap dispenser is broken, and the other is off the wall and lying on the sinktop, your men’s room needs attention….)

Hill’s is one of those “Austin institutions” that has been around forever. We’ve eaten there before, and always thought they had good hamburgers and chicken fried steak.

Since Armadillocon was over in the Omni Southpark this year, and since Hill’s Cafe is evidently under new management, we decided to give them a revisit. This time around we had…hamburgers and chicken-fried steak. And I thought my chicken-fried steak was very tasty indeed, probably top 5 in Austin tasty, and I heard no complaints from the hamburger contingent. I also thought the onion rings were pretty good. (You’ll have to check with Dwight on the BBQ.)

They were out of banana pudding, and offered us some complimentary banana bread pudding instead. While I appreciate the gesture, the bread pudding just wasn’t very good, so you should probably avoid that.

Our waiter was pretty attentive, and pretty much kept up with our refills and other requests.

Overall the meal was more than satisfactory, offering up well-executed renditions of classic hearty Texas fare in filing portions at a fair price. Which makes me wonder why the place was half-deserted when we ate there.

Hill’s is never going to be a favorite with the “3 small pieces of seared fish artfully arranged with sculpted garnishes on a drizzle glazed plate for $30” crowd. But if you’re looking for good down home Texas food, Hill’s Cafe amply fits the bill.

“You look like Freddy Kruger face-f*cked a topographical map of Utah”

August 6th, 2015

And now I pretty much have to see Deadpool

Deadpool: The movie that touches you in totally inappropriate ways…”

Library Addition: Signed Harlan Ellison Cassette Tape Pack

August 5th, 2015

Sometimes you stumble across something not really on your collecting radar, but if it’s cheap enough, you go “What the hell?”

Ellison, Harlan. A Boy & His Dog & “Repent, Harlequin” said the Ticktockman. Warner Audio Publishing, no date (but 1985). Presumed first edition, a pair of cassette tapes of Ellison reading his two stories, a Fine- copy with small cracks to the clear cassette tape case plastic, in blister pack. Signed by Ellison on the back of the front cover insert. Bought for $2 off eBay.

Ellison Cassette Front

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(Not having a cassette tape player it wouldn’t be a pain to hook up, I’m just assuming it still has Ellison’s stories on it, and it hasn’t been taped over with a copy of, say, Frampton Comes Alive…)

Of Top 25 Films on IMDB, Most Involve Crime

August 4th, 2015

Glancing through the top 25 films in the the IMDB Top 250 list, it occurred to me that most involved crime as the central subject, and a few more peripherally:

  1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) (Yes: Central characters are mostly convicted felons in prison.)

  2. The Godfather (1972) (Yes, obviously.)
  3. The Godfather: Part II (1974) (Yes, ditto.)
  4. The Dark Knight (2008) (Yes. What is it Batman dedicated his life to fighting?)
  5. Pulp Fiction (1994) (Yes. Criminals and their associates drive all the action.)
  6. Schindler’s List (1993) (No. Genocide is sort of a separate topic from crime…)
  7. 12 Angry Men (1957) (Yes. Inside jury deliberations in a murder case.)
  8. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) (Yes. Three criminals drive the plot. Then again, crime tends to be a central feature in almost all Westerns…)
  9. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) (No. Lots of killing, but not crime-related per se.)
  10. Fight Club (1999) (Marginal. Protagonist runs a ring of illegal fight clubs, then an international revolutionary organization.))
  11. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (No. See above.)
  12. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) (No. Despite the presence of a smuggler as a central character.)
  13. Forrest Gump (1994) (No.)
  14. Inception (2010) (Yes. Central plot involves a criminal gang carrying off a sort of reverse heist.)
  15. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) (Marginal. Protagonist is a criminal who gets himself transferred to the loony bin because he thinks it will be easier than doing time in the joint.)
  16. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) (No. See above.)
  17. Goodfellas (1990) (Yes. Obviously.)
  18. The Matrix (1999) (No. Though the protagonist starts out as a hacker in trouble with the authorities.)
  19. Star Wars (1977) (No. Though again, an illegal smuggler is a central figure.)
  20. Seven Samurai (1954) (Marginal. The entire plot is driven by a village’s desire to protect themselves from criminal marauders.)
  21. City of God (2002) (Yes. Features the rise of a ruthless crime lord as one of the central plots.)
  22. Se7en (1995) (Yes. Tracking a serial killer.)
  23. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) (Yes. Tracking a serial killer with the assistance of another.)
  24. The Usual Suspects (1995) (Yes. All about a gang of criminals and the machinations of a crime lord.)
  25. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) (Marginal, given Potter’s opportunistic theft.)

That’s 15 of the top 25 films which involve crime as either a primary or secondary feature.

Surely crime dramas offer plenty of conflict, but so do war movies, but none of them (save the SF/F entries, and Schindler’s List) make the list, nor do any sports films. (Perpetual favorite Casablanca, which would qualify as a war film, comes in at 30, while Saving Private Ryan comes in at 31.)

Anyone care to speculate on why crime dominates the top of the list?

Amazing Book Find: Ballantine Hardback of Chad Oliver’s Shadows in the Sun

August 3rd, 2015

I’d been having a dry spell searching the local Half Price Books locations. I wasn’t find much terribly interesting in their stacks (a few signed paperbacks here and there), and I either had everything I wanted in their collectable shelves, or they were asking too much money for marginal works.

Saturday’s find made up for many, many years of dry spells, and is hands-down the best find I’ve ever made at Half Price Books:

Oliver, Chad. Shadows in the Sun. Ballantine Books, 1954. First edition hardback (Currey state A, tan cloth lettered in black, no priority), a Near Fine+ copy with slight bumping at head and heel and usual age-darkening to pages), in a Near Fine- dust jacket with a 1 1/2″ closed tear to rear dust jacket flap, slight spotting to top of white rear cover, and a few small rubs. Hall, Hal W., The Work of Chad Oliver: An Annotated Bibliography & Guide, A2. Currey (1979), page 397. Locke, Spectrum of Fantasy, page 169 (an ex-library copy; his description of the dust jacket matches (down to the H-91 code on the front flap), but his description of the book itself as “gray cloth in dark blue lettering” doesn’t match either this copy or the Currey B state (blue cloth lettered in black); Locke’s copy was possibly a library rebind or another binding variant). Barron, Anatomy of Wonder 4, 3-138. Bought for $3 from the Half Price Books in Cedar Park.

Since Google image search brings up no copies of the hardback dust jacket (only the paperback edition, which has a different cover, as they frequently did), I’ve done several scans of it.

Shadows in the Sun BBHB

Shadows Sun Back

Shadows Sun whole dj

Shadows Sun dj flaps

Shadows Sun Book

Chad Oliver was the Grand Old Man of Austin science fiction writers. In addition to writing important works of anthropological SF in the 1950s, he was Dean of the University of Texas’ anthropology school for a while, and was an all-around swell guy. I knew him, but he was really more of a mentor to my mentors (Howard Waldrop, Bruce Sterling, Lewis Shiner, etc.), and had stopped going to the Turkey City Writer’s workshop by the time I started attending. He died in 1993.

Ballantine Books was one of the first mainstream publishers to move into science fiction in the 1950s. They published a prestigious SF line that came out in two formats: A paperback edition for readers, and a hardback edition, scarcely larger than the paperbacks, primarily for the library market. The paperbacks had print runs in the hundreds of thousands, while I’ve heard 600 as a typical print run for the hardbacks. Among the most desirable titles are Fahrenheit 451 (including the asbestos-bound state, which is insanely expensive), Childhood’s End (which I have an Ex-Library of), Hal Clement’s Cycle of Fire, and Green Odyssey, Philip Jose Farmer’s first published book. I’ve seen multiple copies of all those (even the asbestos Fahrenheit 451) offered up for sale or auction, but never Shadows in the Sun (Heritage offered up a jacketless copy a few years back). I don’t think seen a jacketed copy for sale or auction anywhere in the last 20 years.

Hell, as far as I can tell, Texas A&M’s Cushing library, to which Chad donated his books and papers, doesn’t even have a copy of the hardback listed among the donated material.

A conservative estimate of value is probably $2,000…

Shoegazer Sunday: The Kritzler’s “Scarlet Sometimes”

August 2nd, 2015

A pleasant Shoegazey song set to someone’s video of their vacation in Japan. It’s actually pretty cool.

At some point The Kritzlers apparently became Cochlear Kill.

Shoegazer Sunday: Tennis System’s “Space Age Love Song”

July 26th, 2015

For your Sunday dose of Shoegaze, here’s Tennis System covering A Flock of Seagulls’ “Space Age Love Song.”

In other news, A Flock of Seagulls had songs other than “I Ran”…