Saturday, January 23, 2016

Robert Smith's Favorite Songs from the 1980s

Below is a solid list from Robert Smith of the songs that he most admires from the 1980s (excluding his own, of course). New Order's “Everything’s Gone Green” is my favorite along with “Persephone” and “Gigantic.” All three are unrelenting driving forces of the New Wave genre and not to be missed.

ABC, “Look of Love”
The Associates, “Tell Me It’s Easter on Friday”
David Bowie, “Let’s Dance”
Kate Bush, “Cloudbursting”
Cocteau Twins, “Persephone”
Christina, “Things Fall Apart”
D.A.F., “Sex Unter Wasser”
Depeche Mode, “Personal Jesus”
Dinosaur Jr, “Freak Scene”
Echo and the Bunnymen, “Killing Moon”
The Fun Boy Three with Bananarama, “It Ain’t What You Do…”
Peter Gabriel, “Red Rain”
Human League, “Human”
The Jesus and Mary Chain, “Some Candy Talking”
Joy Division, “The Eternal”
Chaka Khan, “I Feel For You”
Madness, “Return of the Lost Palmas Seven”
My Bloody Valentine, “Lose My Breath”
Mel & Kim, “Respectable”
New Order, “Everything’s Gone Green”
Yoko Ono, “Walking On Thin Ice”
Pixies, “Gigantic”
The Pretenders, “Don’t Get Me Wrong”
Prince, “Starfish & Coffee”
Psychedelic Furs, “Heaven”
Siouxsie and the Banshees, “Dear Prudence”
Soft Cell, “Tainted Love”
The Sugarcubes, “Birthday”
Suzanne Vega, “Small Blue Thing”
Tom Waits, “In the Neighborhood”

What, no Smiths or Morrissey on the list? :-)

#RobertSmithFavoriteSongs #Best80sNewWave

Review of The Postman Only Rings Twice by James Cain

Review of The Postman Only Rings Twice by James Cain

Frank Chambers is a thug and a criminal who has been through a string of Southern California jail cells. In between prison visits he tries to get a little cash by working odd jobs such as picking crops or busing tables. When he jumps off the back of a truck and comes across the diner/gas station run by Nick Papadakis and his beautiful young wife Cora, he finagles a low-paying job without many questions asked. Frank and Cora plot and sulk and use terms like “flimflam” and other great words from the 1930s to form the seduction/want, crime, payback trifecta of crime noir novels.

That kicks off James Cain’s stripped-down, gritty, sexy crime romp he titled The Postman Only Rings Twice and published in 1934. The kicker is that no postman makes an appearance in the novel. One can only surmise that the postman is a metaphor for the grim reaper. Cain admitted as much in his preface to Double Indemnity where his fellow screenwriter Vincent Lawrence told him the postman would also ring his doorbell twice. Cain adapted the phrase as being applicable to the end of his novel and went with the title.

The Postman Only Rings Twice didn’t invent the crime genre, but rather a sub-genre of it much like Edgar Allan Poe did with the first locked room murder crime story—“The Murders in the Rue Morgue” almost 100 years earlier in 1841.

And what was Cain’s sub-genre exactly? It’s now termed Roman Noir or hardboiled crime and is defined, more than anything else, by the writing style employed. Cain uses a basic--almost sanitized--style of writing that is devoid of exposition and rarely provides the name of the character speaking. It makes one wonder if his editor gave him a strict word limit that forced him to go back and cut every superfluous word in the final edit. It is reminiscent of the way Ernest Hemingway wrote The Sun Also Rises in 1926 (his first novel and in the roman à clef style of real life story having a fictional façade), which Cain must have certainly read given its popularity. Cain’s stripped down writing, just like Hemingway’s, gives readers the feeling there is an iceberg of information floating under the surface of his criminal sea.

The Postman Only Rings Twice is an interesting tale and well worth your reading efforts. I give it an 8 out of 10.

#PostmanRingsTwice #JamesCainReview

Sunday, January 10, 2016

"Tales from the Smith" Illustrated Books Series Launched by Butcher Billy

In a play on the popular TV horror show "Tales from the Crypt" that aired in the 1990s, Butcher Billy has combined his love for The Cure and Robert Smith with his talents as an illustrator to launch an illustrated books series. It employs creative use of Cure lyrics into the title. Check it out!

The cover above is The Cure's most claustrophobic song and could very well be the cover song for The Iron Shroud by William Mudford, the tightest science fiction story you will ever read.

#ButcherBilly #TalesfromtheSmith

Sunday, January 3, 2016

First Trip to the Moon in a Science Fiction Short Story

With all the hubbub about Star Wars: The Force Awakens swirling in our cosmic movie atmosphere, I am reminded of the ever-present space alien that populate the screen. Before there were movies of this nature there were science fiction short stories.

Which one was the first to feature a lunar alien? What about a trip to the moon from earth?

That huge literary honor belongs to "A Visit to the Lunar Sphere" published in 1820, nearly 200 years ago today. The trip was by balloon, not rocket. By watching the The Force Awakens one can see just how far the genre has progressed in 200 years thanks in no small part to modern technology.

Did the first Lunarian in a sci-fi short story have a name? You bet--Zuloc. But who was the author? Well, the story was published anonymously, but in Mesaerion: The Best Science Fiction Short Stories 1800-1849 I ascribed the author to be none other than Captain Frederick Marryat (1792-1848).

#ScienceFictionShortStories #FirstLunarAlien