So in my never-ending quest for groovy tunes I stumbled upon these 2 absolute gems from the early 70's. Power of Zeus was an American band from Detroit and the 1st hard rock band on Motown's Rare Earth label.
Los Dug Dugs are a Mexican rock band and their song Smog is killing me right now! Dig it.
I just got a sweet double disc from Isaac Hayes featuring the soundtracks to both Tough Guys, with Hayes, Lino Ventura, and Fred Williamson, and Truck Turner. Two killer albums loaded with smooth and tight, funky jams. After just a handful of listens this song from Tough Guys has stood out as my favorite:
I can't recall having read a more thrilling adventure narrative than the first 200 pages of Fenimore's classic novel. The rest of the novel doesn't stand a chance. That's not to say a reader should put it down when Bumppo and Co. reach Fort William Henry. Last of the Mohicans is Cooper's second tale featuring his most endearing character Nathaniel Bumppo, or The Leatherstocking. This one is set about 40 years earlier than The Pioneers and the action occurs during the French and Indian War. I heartily recommend this book for lovers of great literature and adventure stories.
Thomas Ligotti-Noctuary This collection of weird tales creates strong moods and images in the mind of the reader. Ligotti is more interested in delving into the twisted psyches of his characters than creating a straightforward narrative. This he does extremely effectively. For fans of Lovecraft, Hodgson, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Chambers, August Derleth, et al.
William Lindsay Gresham-Nightmare Alley
Gresham's twisted tale of guilt, greed, and sexual obsession, (are there any more important motivations for a noir tale?), is set amongst the world of carnys, spiritualists, and other charlatans looking to make a buck off the gullible during the 1940s. Stan Carlyle is a young man with a loaded past looking to make a splash, first as a carny huckster, then as a mentalist, and finally as a spiritual leader. Like all novels of this ilk it's good, guilty fun. This was filmed with Tyrone Power.
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky-Monday Begins on Saturday Another strong satire from the Strugatskys. (Sorry, I'm running out of steam here)
Path Into The Unknown-Best of Soviet Science Fiction A nice collection of stories from a variety of Soviet authors including two from the Strugatskys, one of which was culled from their collection Noon: 22nd Century.
It's hard to imagine 70's cinema without John Cazale.
Make a top ten of 70's movies and there's a good shot Cazale will be in around 3 of those movies. Did the guy even make a movie that wasn't great? No, my friend, he did not! Need proof? Look at his complete feature filmography:
I watched Sergio Martino's Torso for the first time the other night and was smitten by the killer's first victim, actress Patrizia Audutori. She only appeared in a handful of films, but I will be actively seeking them out. Groovy!
Being a huge fan of Del Toro's cinema I knew it would simply be a matter of time before I got around to reading this. First and foremost you can absolutely feel the cinematic quality to this book, and while flawed, I did ultimately enjoy it on a pulpy level.
The authors do a fine job of building tension early on, and the characters are mostly appealing, if somewhat cliched.
For me, the biggest problem here is that the climax felt rushed. While the book was moving along at a nice clip, it was as though the authors realized that they needed a big scene all of a sudden to wrap it up and justify the succeeding volumes. If fast-paced, pulpy writing appeals to you, then this will also.
James Fenimore Cooper-The Pioneers I finally pulled this volume off my unread shelf, delved into the first novel and was rewarded with a richly textured, beautifully painted portrait of life in the wilds of upstate New York near the end of the 18th Century.
The Pioneers is the first of Cooper's Leatherstocking novels and much of what is written about the burgeoning town that serves as the setting of the novel, was culled from Cooper's own reminiscences of his father and the founding of Cooperstown, New York.
The novel beautifully juxtaposes the lives and philosophies of the white settlers and the natives, who were quickly being crowded out. Cooper never judges either perspective, and explores, much earlier in history that I had thought extant, ideas of conservationism and proper use of nature.
A beautiful novel, and one that has me salivating for the remaining Leatherstocking tales.
Graham Joyce-The Facts of Life Graham Joyce is one of my favorite contemporary novelists, but the multiple-award winner seems little known here in the U.S. This is the 7th novel of his that I have read and they are all well worth the time and effort.
The Facts of Life tells the magical tale of the Vine family, the mother, her seven daughters and their spouses, and her youngest daughter's newborn, illegitimate son Frank, and is set during the hellish, blitzkrieg raids over England during WWII.
Joyce writes lovingly of the family's personal trials and tribulations and, as he does so deftly in most of his books, sprinkles it with just the right amount of the supernatural. Heartily recommended.
Kenneth Fearing-The Big Clock Written in 1944, The Big Clock is a swiftly-paced noir set in the publishing world. While it lacks the swagger of Hammett or Chandler, the grit of David Goodis, or the psychological depth of JIm Thompson, The Big Clock strings you along its not too many pages and drops you off unruffled, but entertained.
Kirill Bulychev-Gusliar Wonders I have read quite a bit of Soviet science fiction, and after the Strugatskys, Kirill Bulychev is probably the best of the bunch. This collection of short stories, half of which are loosely connected through their locale and central character, is full of insight, comic touches, clever circumstances, and assured writing. If you have exhausted the works of Boris and Arkady Strugatsky, which I nearly have, give Bulychev a try.
Robert Kirkman-Invincible Volume 5-The Facts of Life Invincible is off to college, falling in love, battling supervillians, foiling plots, and ultimately finding time for his mom. Good stuff.
Another heavyweight of the Italian soundtrack, Armando Trovaioli has composed for over 200 films. His soundtrack for Una Magnum Special Per Tony Saitta is absolutely one of the best Poliziotteschi scores ever, which pretty much makes it one of the greatest overall. Check out the track Blazing Magnum:
Robert Kirkman-The Walking Dead Volume 13 Too Far Gone
Kirkman keeps the tension high as the survivors begin to assimilate and splinter within their new community. These can't come fast enough.
Mac Carter-The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft Vol. 1 Quirky, but unsatisfying comic about H.P.Lovecraft and the fictional origins of some of his stories. I'm a huge Lovecraft fan, and that might be a detractor here as it is hard to swallow Lovecraft as the individual portrayed within. I'll give Vol. 2 a shot and reappraise.
Neil Gaiman-The Graveyard Book Neil Gaiman is a supremely talented storyteller. Combine that with his obvious erudition and you get some damn fine books. The Graveyard Book, geared for younger readers, is a clever and fun read throughout.
Edward Anderson-Thieves Like Us Early noir novel is good, simple storytelling that, in many ways, is similar to Bonnie and Clyde. I really enjoyed the characters speech, cadence, and dialect. This was filmed as They Live By Night is 1948, and again by Robert Altman in 1974.
Boris and Arkady Strugatsky-Hard To Be A God This Strugatsky novel is set on a planet that has not yet advanced beyond a phase similar to our Middle Ages. Envoys from Earth have become assimilated to observe, but not interact. Though they are sickened by the barbaric society they observe, they are forbidden from intervening, hence the title. The novel's central ideas explore how the progress of science and civilization is often stymied by religious and magisterial oppression.
Dan Simmons-Ilium I've read a lot of Dan Simmons and this was really one of my favorite novels by him. A seriously epic space opera that is concluded in an even longer sequel entitled Olympos. I'm not even going to attempt a plot synopsis here, but suffice it to say that if big scope, epic sci-fi is your thing, you'll probably like this.