Book review: Monster

By , May 31, 2009

Monster book coverMonster
By Martinez, A. Lee

Like a little funny and fantastic in your reading material? You should check out author A. Lee Martinez and his latest book Monster.

Forget your typical extermination problems of spiders, roaches and the like, Monster runs a pest control service for “magical creatures.” With the aid of a paper gnome called Chester, he’ll take care of your demons, unicorns, trolls, etc.

Monster isn’t a monster per say, but he can change colors, and he knows a little bit of magic important to his trade. When he arrives at the Food Plus Mart after employee Judy Hines reports a Yeti disturbance in the ice-cream section, Monster’s routine call turns into something a lot more complicated. He soon wishes he’d never met the likes of Ms. Hines – who proves to send quite a bit of cryptobiological grief his way. And he’s thinking of dumping his succubus girlfriend – too bad he summoned her himself from Hell!

Lest I reveal too much detail, I can tell you the climax of the book boils down to a crazy cat lady and a rock. Intrigued? I hope so!

Martinez has been accused of ripping off Christopher Moore, but I think you can enjoy both of these fine novelists at the same time. With only seventeen books written so far between the two of them, you’ll soon be searching for other authors to satisfy your funny and fantastic reading appetite.

- Crystal at Main

Book review: Jimmy Connors Saved My Life

By , May 29, 2009

 

Jimmy Connors Saved My Life
by Joel Drucker, 2004

Author Joel Drucker puts new meaning into the word obsession with this detail-packed, unauthorized (“Don’t write a book about me, son”) biography of one of tennis’s most determined, winning and elusive figures.

Connors’ tenacity and single-minded drive is chronicled here by insider Drucker, who managed to meet and talk with Jimbo on many occasions – yet could never convince him to sanction an authorized biography. No matter – the author weaves details of his own life and of his brother’s troubling mental illness in with his passion for tennis and emotional alliance with the guy from “down in the boondocks.”

This makes for a fascinating and pretty comprehensive biography with some interesting insights from someone who really seemed to get Connors. You’ll trip back to the days when Borg and McEnroe ruled, when the hated Ivan Lendl was just coming up, and when Connors himself was a perennial threat at the US Open or being written off again. In the end – and this can be said of author and subject – they did it their way!

- Phil

Popmatic Podcast June 2009

By , May 29, 2009

Sleek economic downturn edition. Amanda and Bryan feature music by Five Browns and Frank Zappa. Jeremy reviews new stories by Joe Meno. Last but not least, Bill reveals the pleasure of Death at a Funeral. Hey where’s Clint?

Book review: Daniel Eatock: Imprint

By , May 24, 2009

Daniel Eatock: Imprint
By Bednarek, Nicola

Daniel Eatock’s art/work is a thing of whimsy and Zen insight. His self-designed retrospective Imprint will have you laughing out loud. A master wit and visual contextualizer, he’s a post-Warholian ninja. His designs and concepts will inspire you. His egotism should annoy you. He gave me a great idea for how to make a bed frame on the cheap. Message to any negative ninnies who are dismissive of Eatock’s work: quit your job and do what he does. He likely gets paid more and has more fun while he is doing it. You’ll never think about car batteries the same way again.

- Bryan

Legends of Film: Jack Green

By , May 22, 2009

Bill brings us an interview with Jack Green, cinematographer of Bird, Unforgiven and Joss Whedon’s Serenity.

Popmatic Podcast May 2009

By , May 11, 2009

Crystal and Bryan explore opposite ends of the musical spectrum, featuring work by Benji Hughes and Harry Partch. Julie and Amanda tell us about books by Kathyrn Stockett and John Jakes. Last but not least, Clint and Bill turn us on to the films Duck You Sucker and Return of the Secaucus 7.

Music review: Enclosure Two By Harry Partch

By , May 5, 2009

partchEnclosure Two
By Harry Partch

4 stars

Harry Partch was an American composer, instrument builder, and music theorist who abandoned the equal tempered chromatic scale in favor of microtonal scales. This put him in a one man battle against entire popular and classical music establishments of his day. The four CD set Enclosure Two preserves a large portion of Partch’s legacy. Consisting of archival recordings of Partch’s musical works, demonstrations of his tonal theories, and contemporary performances of select pieces, Enclosure Two offers a glimpse into the idiosyncratic mind, and often tragic life, of an autodidact genius trying to survive in the American West during the Depression Era. Always interested in tonality of speech, Partch composed Barstow around graffiti he found written under a bridge in Barstow, California.

Partch’s intention was to capture the pitch and rhythm of natural English speech as opposed to the formal unnatural English typically found in the concert hall. Partch had ample opportunity pick up very natural speech, as he was forced to live as a hobo and migrant worker through much of the 1930s. A testament to the strength of his spirit, he managed to keep writing music and building instruments through those years. Partch’s journals of his hobo years were published as Bitter Music. Included on Enclosure Two is an abridged reading of Bitter Music by Warren Burt recorded for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Later in life Partch reestablished his ties with (cough cough) respectable society and found a small but extremely devoted group of admirers and even had recordings released by Columbia Masterworks. His influence has only grown since his death in 1974. He inspired a generation of microtonal composers, and his stranger than fiction biography has turned him into something of a hipster icon. Check out Enclosure Two for a different take on musical tonality and a view of American history from the margins.

- Bryan

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