Tuesday, January 23, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the birth of Dungeons & Dragons

Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the birth of Dungeons & Dragons
Michael Witwer

Michael Witwer's Empire of Imagination tells Gygax’s story from cradle to grave. Gygax (it's a Swiss surname, in case you're curious) grew up on Chicago's north side before his family moved to his mother's home town of Lake Geneva. This Wisconsin town had provided an escape for Chicagoans since the Prohibition days. It was here in this placid small town that young Gary was free to explore the underground tunnels and buildings of an abandoned sanitarium with his friends. As a young man he become an avid war gammer, which used the small figurines now synonymous with the game he would some day help create. Gygax was a stickler for gaming rules, and not the greatest business man which created no small bit of tension with his partners and employees of TSR the game publishing company he started with Dave Arneson and his childhood friend Don Kaye.

Friday, January 12, 2018

RECORD REVIEW: Max Hall, Abstractithica


Max Hall
[Evil Hoodoo]

Abstractithica is a 45 minute collage of field recordings meticulously culled from anywhere and everywhere, around the world, and in the UK in particular. Hall used a stereo field recorder to grab bits of conversations, street noises and anything else of aural interest to him. It took him a year to put the pieces together and the result is an interesting and mildly hypnotic recording. I found it quite pleasant to listen to whilst concentrating on other things, like writing reviews for example. Smatterings of applause pop up as does traffic noise, even snatches of a Manu Chao song reveal themselves at unexpected times. It’s like taking a walk down the street while blindfolded. A sensory stimulation and a out of body simulation. Public transportation and some circus or carnival music jars you out of the trances. This is a very limited edition run of 250 vinyl LPs that is worth investigating if you are into experimental music, sound collages and the like.

Always read Reglar Wiglar!

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Lou Reed: A Life

Lou Reed: A LifeAnthony DeCurtis
[Little, Brown & Company]

Lou Reed had a complicated career. He lead a complicated life—complicated by design, perhaps. His music—his entire persona, seemed intended to antagonize. The Velvet Underground, a band Reed co-founded in 1964, was itself a big FU to the peace and love of the Flower Power movement and his solo work could alternate between abrasive and oppressively dreary.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Most Popular eBook Titles on Amazon

Most Popular eBook Titles on Amazon

Anyone can write and publish an eBook and sell it on Amazon for 99 cents. The evidence for that is that everyone has. All you need is a clever, incredibly long title to hit every possible Google search keyword, then just sit back and reel in the schmucks. Do that a million times and you will have made yourself rich and Amazon even richer. Just remember to keep the book's content short and the titles really, really long. 

1) How I Turned a Hardcore Gambling Addiction into A Million Dollar Enterprise That Allowed Me to Buy My Dream Home and Marry a Gorgeous Super Model

2) How Quitting My Job to Play Fan Duel Full-Time Helped Me Lose Weight and Keep it Off by Eating Whatever I Wanted While Dating Women Much, Much Hotter than Me

3) Even a High School Dropout with No Social Skills Can Trick Women into Bed While Beating the Stock Market Playing World of Warcraft

4) How to Turn a One Night Stand on Tinder into A Serious Committed Relationship Built on Trust and Mutual Respect While Making Millions and Living the Dream Without Dieting

5) A Hassle-free Guide to Building Muscle and Your Bank Account While Losing Weight, Gaining Wealth and Getting Laid Guaranteed in 5 Easy Steps or Your Money Back

Friday, December 29, 2017

MUSIC REVIEW: Nathan Xander: Blue House

Nathan XanderBlue House[Trailer Fire Records]

Nathan Xander returns. Not that he went away, but he is back, nevertheless, with an album full of homesickness and being homeward bound. The Pennsylvania native is based in New York City these days, but he has enjoyed a period of wandering that has seen him living the nomadic life of a troubadour. This is evident on the 12-tracks of Blue House, which was recorded in Upstate New York, in a barn, painted blue, providing at least one meaning behind the album's title. [Read more]

Thursday, December 07, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Moving Target: The History and Evolution of Green Arrow Richard Gray

Moving Target: The History and Evolution of Green Arrow
Richard Gray
[Sequart Organization]

If you're a diehard comic book fan, looking to dive deep into the history, thought-process and execution of a comic with a long and colorful history—and you're a fan of the Green Arrow in particular—notch this book in your desktop, mobile, device, or your lap and learn a thing or two about a dude that has been around awhile by a guy who knows a whole lot of about this stuff.

Monday, December 04, 2017

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Chicago: A Comix Memoir by Glenn Head

Chicago: A Comix Memoir
Glenn Head

Chicago is the true story—a comix memoir, if you will—of a young comix artist (gonna spell it 'comics' from here on out) struggling to survive in, you guessed it, Chicago. Head captures that late 70s look and feel  of the city and scene in this open and honest autobiography. He may have gone a little nuts, and this certainly wasn't a story easy to tell. 

[Read more]

Saturday, December 02, 2017

MINI COMIC REVIEW: Laffy Meal by Pranas Naujokaitis

Laffy Meal
Pranas Naujokaitis
[Ghost Car Press]

Laffy Meal is a set of mini comics about a family trip to the fictional Burger Clown restaurant. It's a clever concept with the point-of-view of each family member represented in a separate mini. Hungry yet?

[Read more]

Monday, November 27, 2017

HOPPY HOLIDAYS: 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

This year's Holiday Gift Guide is sponsored by Frog-in-a-Box*! Check out these picks for stocking stuffers sure to make whatever holiday you celebrate all the more spectacular.

Robyn Hitchcock LP/CD

Robyn Hitchcock released his 21st album on April 21st, which happens to be my birthday. This eponymous record made an excellent birthday gift. It will no doubt make an excellent holiday present as well. It's Hitchcock's best effort in years. That's saying a lot too, for Robyn is man who has set the bar quite high for himself and he consistently meets or exceeds expectations. The album is hook laden as only Hitch can laden it. If there's a Hitchhead in your life who doesn't own this gem, here's your chance to rectify that situation, posthaste.