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"Jim Henson: The Biography"

…with this Jim Henson biography called… uh, Jim Henson: The Biography.

Thanks, Dad and Sue!

Already learned something new about him,

-Shady

have you gotten your copy yet?

Order now,

-Shady

Author James Leigh (sometimes known in other circles as my sister Bethany) just published her first novel titled The Interview.

Here’s a short blurb about the book:

For the last five years, Orson Dodd has left his house for only three reasons: the occasional run to the grocery store to stock up on baby food and laxatives, his monthly road trip to Reno for a few days of Texas Hold ‘Em, and to the city to indulge in his new hobby of going on job interviews while pretending to be someone else. His routine is broken, however, when he meets Grace, the receptionist at the company of his latest interview, and decides to lie his way into her heart.

The Interview is available for purchase now as both a paperback ($13.99) and as a digital download ($5.00). Get your copy here.

James has two more novels slated for release this year: Building 64 and Post Crash. Stay tuned for more information on both books.

Waiting for the mailman to bring my copy,

-Shady

Shepard Fairey

…for “The Onion” back in June 2009. You can check out the interview here.

During that interview, Shepard and I got on the topic of the late Joe Strummer. I told him I had an opportunity to shoot a few photos of him just shortly before his death in December 2002. When I got home from the interview I printed a couple of the photos out; I figured I’d drop them off at his studio the next time I was in the neighborhood.

And then the photos sat here on a table for a year and a half. Last week, I finally decided to just send them out in the mail.

Yesterday, I got this in the mail:

He even signed it and told me to “stay shady” which, you know, I get a lot:

Obey Shepard here.

Thanks, Shepard.

Free books are the best books,

-Shady

…was recently featured in “M Magazine” for her new book The Simpsons in the Classroom: Embiggening the Learning Experience with the Wisdom of Springfield. (Order your copy here.)

Unfortunately, the article isn’t featured online so here’s a scan of it. Click on the image for a (slightly) larger version.

Friend pimp,

-Shady

…who has been known to go by the name Smokin’ Joe Blow from time to time, just had his first novel published.

Titled KnoWare Man, the book is a sci-fi adventure story about cryogenics, implanted bombs and a shitload of smoking. If that’s not enough to hook your interest, the book also features an intro written by yours truly. Buy it for that!

Hard copies of the book are available here for $13.00; a digital download of the book is also available for $6.66.

Congrats to Thomas!

Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy,

-Shady

…the 1927 edition of the book Great Poems of the English Language.

Handwritten inside the book was this:

For Valli

The Williamson coil stranger than air
gives off truly a holy light
like honey bleeding from coal.

Under this blue folding darkness
is our blanket of black
small light ideas and animals
are hailed to silence and glow
their heads next to mine in warmth.

– Joseph E. Zimmelman, L.A., 1968/2/29

I’m not sure who Valli or Joseph E. Zimmelman were but I thought I’d share.

1968 was a leap year,

-Shady

…right here:

Books:

Think Outside the Box Office by Jon Reiss (Hybrid Cinema)
Breaking into the film industry has always been easier said than done. The digital age, of course, has made the world much smaller, bringing people closer together. One would think that this would make it easier to get a film made, but it’s unfortunately had the reverse effect; it’s forced filmmakers to get creative. Just look at the popularity of films like “The Blair Witch Project” and “Paranormal Activity.” The filmmakers of those movies thought outside of the box and made a killing because of it. Think Outside the Box Office can easily be regarded as a bible for those types of filmmakers. Whether you’re looking to produce a feature film, web series, short, or even a clip for YouTube, this book outlines unique distribution strategies and marketing methods for filmmakers of all sizes. I can see readers who aren’t surrounded by the film industry becoming a little bogged down by some of the book’s lingo and terminology, but don’t let that discourage you. If anything, this book should force you to learn those terms, not run from them. If filmmaking is an industry you’re looking to get into, pick this up, grab a highlighter, and get reading.

The 13th Hour by Richard Doetsch (Atria Books)
You know the backward episode of “Seinfeld,” where Kramer’s gigantic lollipop gets bigger and bigger as the episode goes on? Well, this novel kind of has that same premise, minus Kramer and his ever-growing lollipop, of course. The 13th Hour is a thriller told in reverse. The story begins on July 28th at 9PM. Nicholas Quinn sits in an interrogation room at police headquarters unjustly accused of his wife Julia’s murder. Then, through the help of a mysterious man who enters the room, Nicholas is given the power to go back in time (one hour at a time) and solve the murder of his wife. Admittedly, at first, the story’s premise can come across as being cliched or gimmicky; but if television shows like “Lost” and films like “Memento” have proven anything, they’ve proven that it all comes down to how the material is handled. Author Richard Doetsch has done a great job of steering far away from the ridiculous, and has given readers a story that is as interesting as it is unique. I admit I’m a sucker for stories that begin at the end (or end at the beginning, for that matter), but The 13th Hour is more than just a clever idea; it’s a damn good novel.

Admit One: My Life in Film by Emmett James (Fizzypop Productions)
Everybody’s got a story, and Emmett James is proof. In this autobiography, James looks back on his life, from his cinema-obsessed childhood in South London in the 1980s, to his crashing of the Academy Awards in Hollywood. James’ obsession with movies runs deep in his blood, from watching films at a local theater as a child, to an acting career in the business itself. (He even made a brief appearance in 1997’s “Titanic” as 1st Class Steward.) Here, James reflects on all of it, bringing together his very private real world with the very public plastic world of the movie-making industry. With every chapter, James compares and contrasts his real life with the scripted fiction of some of Hollywood’s most well-known movies. In doing so, he manages to blur the lines between reality and surreality, leaving the reader wondering what is true and what’s been written simply for more effect. But who really gives a shit, right? Because in the end it’s all about telling a good story; true, false, or somewhere in between.

DVDs:

“Revolution in the Head: Rage Against the Machine and the Art of Protest” (Sexy Intellectual)
Rage! Against the Machine! Anger! I love Rage, and this documentary reminds me why. This DVD is very similar in content and style to this Nine Inch Nails DVD that I reviewed a few months back. There’s most definitely a lot of great information here about Rage Against the Machine, as well as some fantastic live performance footage, but the members of RATM are noticeably absent from the film itself. Still, there are a lot of great interview subjects featured including Rage producer/engineer Garth Richardson, and Rage biographer (to be read: Rage Against the Machine Nerd, or RATMN) Colin Devenish. The best part of the documentary is that, while it’s definitely a film about Rage, they use the group as more of a vehicle to talk about the broader topic of protest musicians, everybody from Pete Seeger to Public Enemy. If you’re looking for just a live performance DVD you’re going to want to sit this one out. But if you’re looking for a film about Rage’s creative process and the history of protest music, pick it up.

“Wesley Willis’s Joy Rides: It’s a Rock You Mentary” (Eyeosaur Productions)
There are two types of people in the world: Those who “get” Wesley Willis and everyone else. I was fortunate enough to catch a live performance of Wesley a few years before he passed away, and I can honestly say that no matter what your opinion of the man may be, he was a consummate performer through and through. This documentary about the music, art and life of the man delivers that message. What the film shows is that beneath the mystery of Wesley Willis (beyond the headbutts he’d give fans, beyond the commercial jingles that ended each and every one of his 5,000+ songs) there was a warm and caring guy who wanted nothing more than to make people happy with his witty and bizarre music. That’s it. Unlike so many people in the music industry, he wasn’t out for fame or fortune. He really did only care about the music. When I first heard that Wesley died back in 2003, I have to admit that I really didn’t feel anything. He most definitely wasn’t a healthy or well individual, so his death wasn’t a big surprise. But while watching this documentary I actually found myself missing him. Weird. Rock over London, Wesley. Rock on Chicago. Indeed. For those of you who have never heard of Wesley before, check out this short piece on him. If you like this, you’ll also like the DVD.

CDs:

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros “Up From Below” (Community Records)
I have to admit that when I first saw a video of Edward Sharpe and his joyful hippie-esque clan of Magnetic Zeros, images of The Polyphonic Spree popped into my head. (Note: Edward Sharpe is actually a fictional character portrayed by lead singer Alex Ebert of Ima Robot fame.) Ugh… I shudder. But this bizarre band of musicians has something the Spree doesn’t: TALENT! Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros are more Muppet gypsies than they are crazy hippies… not that there’s anything wrong with that. But what do they sound like? Well, they sound like the theme song of “The Great Space Coaster” as covered by the original 1971 Broadway cast of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Yeah… kind of like that. Sure, the music is both catchy and quirky, but not once did it feel gimmicky. Beyond the beards and barefoot performances lies a rag-tag group of talented musicians who just want to have fun while making quality music. Mission accomplished, folks.

I miss One-Sentence Reviews,

-Shady

S2uRv8ZE_Tc

…right here:

Butter My Butt and Call Me a Biscuit: And Other Country Sayings, Say-Sos, Hoots and Hollers by Allan Zullo and Gene Cheek (Andrews McMeel Publishing)
This pocket-sized collection of more than 200 quaint country colloquialisms is… well, exactly that. If that sounds like something you want to add to your coffee table and/or toilet tank, by all means. But to me, this extremely quick read feels more like a Jeff Foxworthy “You might be a redneck if…” joke than it does words of wisdom. If you feel the need to add Southern-fried one-liners like “I feel finer than a frog’s hair split four ways and sanded twice” to your library, this book is screaming your name. Unfortunately, all I see is a thin gimmick stretched out over 200 pages.

“Must Read After My Death” (Gigantic Pictures)
In the 1960s, Allis and Charley were living what appeared to be a charmed, all-American lifestyle with their four children in the suburbs of Hartford, Connecticut. Charley’s job took him to Australia four months out of every year, and the family decided to stay in touch with each other through Dictaphone audio recordings. As years passed, they continued using the Dictaphone to document their lives together. Unfortunately, Charley’s flagrant infidelity had cracked the family’s very foundation and, after seeing numerous psychologists and psychiatrists, their lives soon began to spiral out of control. Amazingly, they documented the destruction and devastation along the way. In 2001, Allis passed away leaving a garden shed filled with photographs, journals, home movies, and all of the Dictaphone recordings. Included with the family archive was a simple request from Allis: “Must read after my death.” Allis’ grandson, director Morgan Dews, did just that, and has edited all of the footage, photos and audio files down into this highly disturbing documentary about the rarely seen dark side of middle class America. What’s most impressive about the film is that it is entirely comprised of those found elements. There are no follow-up interviews, no background narrations… nothing; just the sounds and images of a family from four decades ago. Haunting and revealing, “Must Read After My Death” shines a spotlight on all of the dirty little secrets most families hope to keep hidden. Dews, on the other hand, has decided to broadcast it.

The book isn’t always better than the movie,

-Shady

The artwork of my good friend Erik Rose, who was the illustrator mastermind behind “The Roberts,” returns to bookstore shelves this fall with “The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers.”

Written by author Cathleen Falsani, a longtime religion columnist for the “Chicago Sun-Times,” “The Dude Abides” explores the religious connections and themes throughout the cinematic catalog of the Coen Brothers.

Erik created a new piece of artwork for each chapter of the book, which is broken down by movie. You can see three of the pieces here:

"Barton Fink" by Erik Rose

"The Hudsucker Proxy" by Erik Rose

"No Country For Old Men" by Erik Rose

You can also click here to check out Erik’s blog and see more art from the book.

The book will be in stores this September or October, so keep your eyes peeled. Or, if you’re the more proactive type, you can reserve your copy here on Amazon.

You’re out of your element, Donny,

-Shady

Old Poop!