Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Doc's Dec/Jan Checklist

I'm still hungover from the holidays. I mean, when are the holidays over? I still got a birthday and Valentine's to work my way through in February. Anyway, some observations are in, or maybe out, of order...this is by no means a complete checklist, but, then again, I never said I was a complete person...

I got on a Raymond Chandler kick again. I re-read Farewell, My Lovely. And picked up a couple of books, Raymond Chandler Speaking (a collection of letters, etc.), and Creatures of Darkness (subtitled: Raymond Chandler, Detective Fiction, and Film Noir). The latter, despite its academic leanings (published right here in the KY by the University of Kentucky press), is a humdinger in its complete history of Chandler in Hollywood, the work he did directly, and everything that was ever adapted from Chandler source material. Speaking of checklists, this is the ultimate handbook for keeping track of such stuff. Besides reminding me that Murder My Sweet is really the best Chandler adaptation to screen (all you gotta do is relax and get past the idea that Bogart is Philip Marlowe, and let Dick Powell do the job), I really see Chandler as thee noir novelist. If you take Hammett and James M. Cain, along with Chandler, as the holy trio of noir, Chandler sets the tone for what I think of when I think noir (and I think noir more than any healthy man should).

The Collected Jack Kirby Collector (Volumes Four & Five). When I'm not thinking about film noir, I often think of Jack Kirby. The Jack Kirby Collector seems to be put together by people who think of Jack Kirby more often than most anything else. There's worse things to do with one's time, and for my money, worse ways to waste time than by reading up on all the minutiae. I have to confess that early on in my misguided youth, I never gave all that much credit to Kirby as an Artiste. Sure, I gave him credit for being an originator, and surely almost single-handedly responsible for Marvel's Silver Age characters. But I turned a corner when reading some of his seventies work for DC a few years ago, and more and more I've come to see him not just as a great comics artist, but a great artist on any level. To see that the recent Kirby coffee table book was placed in a local book store in the general fine art section, was enough to almost bring a tear to my eye.

The Silver Age (subtitle: The Second Generation of Comic Book Artists). This is a heckuva book by Daniel Herman. Oversized, Herman prefers to use original artwork to illustrate his history, which is fine by me. Chock full of detail on the artists themselves, it's a pretty good read. The author also fills in some more blanks in my ongoing interest in all things Ramona Fradon. The timing of my reading of this book synced up with my buddy, artist Ben Durham, retrieving a box of actual Silver Age comics from his grandparents' attic, and let me borrow 'em to peruse 'em. Remind me to tell you about Patsy Walker, and discuss "my darling pet monkey." No, you took that wrong.

Reckless Road (subtitle: Guns N' Roses and the Making of Appetite for Destruction). With the recent comical emergence of Chinese Democracy, and the uselessness to me of the Use Your Illusion platters lingering in my memory, now seems as good a time as any to revisit what made Guns great, the Appetite for Destruction album. This book is great in that it charts the rise of Guns up to the point of the release of Appetite, and it becoming the mega-smash that it was (which, if you don't remember, didn't happen right away). The book is mostly eye-candy, what with the multitude of early photos by author and friend of the band (and on that level, I give it a big thumbs up), Marc Canter, who seemingly kept every single ticket stub or flyer the band produced on its way to infamy. But there's enough to read to make it mostly worth the while, but be forewarned, much of the text is padded with transcriptions of what the band said on stage, culled from the author's collection of bootlegs of a majority of the band's early gigs. And these transcriptions, in which the band do not come off as bards of the ages (although some of the banter about requesting drinks and smokes from the audience are funny), are not only repetitive in content, they are also poorly transcribed. A lot of "here" when there should be "hear," that sorta thing. But, hell, it's rock n roll. Read it like the band lived it, drunk. Turn up the volume.

Don't get me wrong, I haven't just been reading the past couple of months. This message is also brought to you by Bell's Two Hearted Ale, Negra Modelo, BBC Dark Star Porter, one of the Flying Dog Ales (I can't remember which, however), Four Roses single barrel, and Jura single malt scotch, all of which I endorse. And, hey, kudos to ShoBox for Miranda Vs. Cruz on Jan. 16th, in which all three fights were something to see (sometimes matches between up and comers can be uneven, but I always find them interesting, but this one was just a good night of boxing, period). I'm glad the new (and final) season of Battlestar Galactica is now in full swing. And...and...and...wait, what was I talking about?


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