Archive for April, 2015

Highland Mall Closes Tonight

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Tonight the curtain falls on Austin’s Mall of the Living Dead. Highland Mall will close tonight to complete the conversion over to an ACC campus.

Once Austin’s premier mall, Highland was killed by changing demographics, bad management, online shopping, and the inexorable march of time. I worked retail sales there my last year in college, and pretty much all the stores were leased out then. It’s been a shell of itself since the last anchor stores closed in 2011, and the last time I visited it only seemed to be 1/4th full.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

Library Addtion: Signed First Edition of John Updike’s Witches of Eastwick

Monday, April 27th, 2015

Here’s a moderately important literary first that also happens to be on the Pringle Modern Fantasy 100 list.

Updike, John. The Witches of Eastwick. Franklin Press, 1984. First edition hardback, a limited edition signed by Updike (which precedes the trade edition), a Fine copy in decorated leather boards, sans dust jacket, as issued. Pringle, Modern Fantasy 100 91. Bought off eBay for $19.99.



The day Updike died, at lunch I spotted the cheapest Fine copy online (which I think was something like $40) and got the dealer to agree to hold it. By the time I got home from work (this being back before I owned an iPhone, and thus no access to my home email), the dealer had already sold it to someone else. So I bided my time until an even cheaper copy presented itself, which it finally did.

I suspect the fact I got this so cheaply is a sign of the general price decline of hypermodern literary firsts in general and Updike in particular. A few months ago, Heritage Auctions sold off someone’s Updike collection, and I don’t think the prices most things went for were particularly high.

Shoegazer Sunday: Nothing’s “B & E”

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

And here’s Philadelphia-based Nothing with “B & E.”

An Oral History of Airplane!

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

If you haven’t seen it already this Onion A/V Club oral history of the movie Airplane! is very much worth your time. Tidbits include:

  • Zucker and company wanted to do the film in black and white featuring a propeller plane, Paramount had to convince them to go modern.
  • David Letterman tested for the role of Ted Striker.
  • Teaching Barbara Billingsley to speak Jive.
  • The kid in the cockpit had no idea what Peter Graves’ was talking about when they were filming.
  • The secrets of Leslie Nielson’s handheld fart machine.
  • It’s a long piece, but well worth it…

    Blue Bell Recalls ALL Products

    Monday, April 20th, 2015

    “Brenham-based Blue Bell Creameries is pulling all of its products from the shelves after more ice cream samples tested positive for a life-threatening bacterial infection.”

    The voluntary decision, announced Monday, is the latest and most sweeping development to plague the Texas business icon since a recall last month, the first in the company’s 108-year history.

    It came after an “enhanced sampling program” that found half-gallon containers of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream produced on March 17 and March 27 contained the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, company officials said.

    Plus this:

    “The latest tests mean the company had several positive tests for Listeria in different plants.”

    Pretty hard to fathom a wide-spread outbreak in multiple plants. The only explanations I can think of:

  • A hardy new strain of Listeria is running wild in Texas cow herds
  • A mutant Listeria has evolved to survive pasteurization (a pretty scary thought)
  • There’s a problem somewhere in their additive supply chain
  • Sabotage/Eco-terrorism (PETA hates dairies).
  • Anyway, if you have any Blue Bell in your freezer, it’s probably safest to throw it out…

    Library Addition: Philip K. Dick’s Young Author’s Club

    Monday, April 20th, 2015

    Here’s an odd Philip K. Dick item it took me a bit of effort to track down:

    Dick, Philip K. (Frank T. Hollander, editor). Young Author’s Club: The Wartime Adolescent Writings of Philip K. Dick. Frank T. Hollander, 2014. First edition trade paperback original, #58 of 100 copies signed by the editor/publisher, a Fine copy. A 94 page chapbook containing Dick’s published writings from 1942 to 1944 in the Berkeley Daily Gazette newspaper, consisting of fiction and poems, some of which are fantasy. Includes bibliographic information and story notes. Something likely to drive Dick completists crazy. I’ll have one copy available in the next Lame Excuse Books catalog.

    Dick Young Authors

    Shadows are, as usual, a scanner artifact.

    Shoegazer Sunday: Echodrone’s “Noisebed”

    Sunday, April 19th, 2015

    Still grooving on Echodrone’s new album Five. My favorite piece from the album is “Noisebed,” which has some absolutely lovely harmonies:

    So consistent is their sound that only after repeated listenings to Five did I notice that original lead singer Meredith Gibbons had left and been replaced by Rachel Lopez (who seems to have a bit higher range).

    New Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer Drops

    Thursday, April 16th, 2015

    Not seeing it on YouTube just yet…

    Library Addition: Charles Lewis Hind’s The Enchanted Stone

    Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

    Here’s a book I read about in By the Book World Remembered that sounded intriguing.

    Hind, Charles Lewis. The Enchanted Stone. Adam and Charles Black (London), 1896. First edition hardback, a Very Good copy with repaired hinges, slight spine fading, bookplate on insider front cover and uneven foxing on front and rear free endpaper. By the Book World Remembered, page 106, which describes it as a “Fantastic tale of a vast Chinese city under London.” Tietler, By the World Forgot, page 53, which notes that this UK first edition has an extra chapter not in the American edition. Bleiler, Checklist (1978), page 100. Reginald, page 253. A very odd sounding Wainscot (to use Clute’s term from The Encyclopedia of Fantasy) indeed. Bought off the Internet for $36 plus shipping from Canada.

    Enchanted Stone

    Shoegazer Sunday: Echodrone’s “Glacial Place”

    Sunday, April 12th, 2015

    Echodrone’s new album Five is now out, which is cause enough for Shoegaze fans to celebrate.

    The video below is for the song “Glacial Place”:

    The footage in the video is taken from the Philco Ford Corporation’s 1967 industrial futurist film The Home Of The Future: Year 1999 A.D.:

    As glimpses of retrofuturism go, it hits a lot closer to the mark than most, offering a central home computer (“which is secretary, librarian, banker, teacher, medical technician, bridge partner and/or all-around servant”), computerized learning, bookeeping, etc., and lots of glowing screens. It even predicts online shopping! As always, the hairstyles immediately tell you the film’s actual era.

    Philco actually manufactured the Mission Control monitors NASA used well into the 1990s. Ford sold Philco to GTE, and since then the brand has been broken up and licensed to various companies around the world.