All posts tagged: Books

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2014 PICKS – A PLENTIFUL YEAR

Since I didn’t do this last year, I’m throwing my hat in with every one of the fine folks here at Popdose as 2014 was one of the most interesting, diverse and fruitful years – especially musically.  So rather than pontificate on the “why”, etc., I’m going to jump right in with both feet and revisit some of the music, et al., that stood out for me from January to now…: Albums by “new(er)” artists: LITTLE CHIEF:  Lion’s Den This wonderful, solid piece of work is the debut album from a recently-formed band out of Fayetteville, Arkansas.  I was immediately drawn into its warm, almost-understated production; the sharp on-pointness of the harmonies and the lushness of the arrangements.  Rarely have I ever been so moved immediately but Lion’s Den has lived with me from the first listen. JIMMY STEPHENS JR & THE BLUES CITY ROAD DOGS:  Road Ready The most explosive, pure rock & roll album to enter my consciousness in years.  Jimmy Stephens, Jr. is as fine a singer, songwriter, bass player (and guitarist) …

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Popdose Conceptual Theater: The Maltese Falcon

I’ve always enjoyed the concept of the “MacGuffin,” which is a story element – some “thing” that’s used to propel the narrative – that we never get to actually see. Modern audiences are probably most familiar with it from Quentin Tarentino’s “Pulp Fiction”, but it’s a concept that has been in use for ages. And it was probably made most famous by Dashiell Hammett’s classic Maltese Falcon. I’ve never actually seen the film version of this story, but even so it’s impossible to visualize Sam Spade as anyone other than Humphrey Bogart. For this edition of Popdose Conceptual Theater I tried to hew closely to the spirit of the music from the region in which the book was set (San Francisco) and the period in which the book was published and became popular (the late thirties and early forties). Jack will be back in two weeks with the next edition of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Popdose Conceptual Theater – The Maltese Falcon TRACK LIST “50 Ways to …

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Popdose Conceptual Theater: Winter’s Tale

Ever since I picked up a paperback version of Mark Helprin’s “Winter’s Tale” while spending my summer vacation on a lake in New Hampshire, I’ve always had a hard time articulating why I liked it so much.  I never particularly cared for any of the characters, and I can’t really say that I found the story itself particularly compelling.  My best guess is that I appreciated the degree to which Helprin let his imagination soar, weaving fantastical elements over a framework of recognizable reality.  I’ve always held a cynical disdain for the city of New York and its inhabitants constant refrain of its superiority, but to me Winter’s Tale was a wonderfully crafted love song to the city that made me question whether there must be something I had missed. Popdose Conceptual Theater – Winter’s Tale TRACKLIST “Fire” – Noah Gundersen This song is an ideal overture for this story because it contains some nice allusions to the early story of Peter Lake’s life.  A boy born to a doomed mother…raised by the water…setting off…followed …

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Popdose Conceptual Theater: Ghost Story

I’ve always been a big fan of concept albums. More specifically, I’ve always loved albums that try to craft an actual story – a true beginning-to-end narrative. Classics like “Tommy”, “The Wall”, and “Ziggy Stardust”, have always been among my favorite albums, and more recent records like “Tallahassee” by Mountain Goats, “Deltron 3030”, and even “American Idiot” by Greenday have hit the right spot for me. We’ll be dealing with concept albums on a more general level with an upcoming Popdose 100, but I’m thrilled to introduce a new feature here at Popdose where we’re going to do more than just celebrate the conceptual adventures that artists have put together for us to enjoy – we’re going to build our own. A few years ago, in honor of the anniversary of Douglas Adams’ passing, I put together an “Ultimate Mixtape” for the books in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. It was a lot of work, consisting of three (and eventually four) albums worth of material, plus plenty of outtakes. The songs were originally …

Book Review: Gary K. Wolf’s “Typical Day”

So I’ve read a lot of articles over the last three years or so about the exciting, brave new world of e-book publishing, almost all of which used the term “brave new world.” But like any new, yet-to-be-tapped technology (read: monetized) it took a while before anybody could really figure out what to do with e-books. It’s now becoming clear: they aren’t replacing print books, nor is Amazon replacing bookstores. E-books are supplementing mainstream publishing and book retailing. That’s fantastic. For while e-books are a remarkably cheap and easy way for writers to get their stuff out there via indy or self publishing, it’s also a way to get product out there from niche and cult authors. I’d been wanting to read Gary K. Wolf’s Who Censored Roger Rabbit? for years. For while I liked the kiddie movie they made out of it, it’s heard the original novel, released years earlier, was way different, a darkly comic novel that was both an homage to and a perfect example of classic hardboiled detective novels. It’s been …

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Book Review: The World Almanac Book of Facts 2013

Are almanacs still necessary? Yeah, I think they are. Even though you can find exactly the thing you  need on the Internet instantly, on your goddamn phone with Bing and Hotbot, an almanac is still an authoritative source of information, if not one of the definitive books of record. For my generation, and the ones before me, if something was in a book, it was true, and especially if it was in an annual, super-thick reference book with tiny type in multiple columns, like the encyclopedia, or The World Almanac and Book of Facts. The 2013 edition is now available, and it’s still such a lot of fun to flip through the nation stats, sports records, Oscar winners, election results, and dead celebrities. I loved getting the new one of these every year, or really, when the library did, because there was no way my parents were gonna buy me one of these behemoths each year; not that we were poor or they were cheap, but because I was still pouring over my brother’s Book of Lists …

Popdose at Kirkus Reviews: James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales, “Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN”

Kirkus Reviews, founded in 1933, is a venerable institution in the media world. For more than 75 years, Kirkus has served as the industry bible for bookstore buyers, librarians, and ordinary readers alike. Now Popdose is proud to announce our partnership with this titan of American publishing. We’ve joined the Kirkus Book Bloggers Network. Every week, a rotating crew of your favorite Popdose writers will grace the virtual pages of Kirkus Reviews Online, taking on the best — and sometimes the worst — in pop-culture and celebrity books. From coffee-table studies to quickie unauthorized bios, if it’s about show biz, it’s fair game. This week we look at a new release about America’s so-called pastime — sports — refracted through the lens of America’s real favorite pastime: bitching about the media… The pre-release hype for Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN led me to believe that it would make a typical Kitty Kelley biography look tame. Led partly by blogs like Deadspin, followers of the Worldwide Leader in Sports wondered …

Book Review: “Long Range Goals”

The United States’ performance in the World Cup last month, and the attention if brought, caused many commentators, sports and otherwise, to ask if this was the moment when soccer finally arrived in America. But in Long Range Goals: The Success Story of Major League Soccer veteran soccer journalist Beau Dure suggests that soccer has already made it here simply because MLS has, against all odds, survived over the course of its 15 years. Before I get into the review, some disclosure is necessary. First, Beau is a personal friend. For years, I was a frequent poster on the BigSoccer message boards, and found him to be one of the few voices of reason there. This was largely because, as a writer for USA Today, his analyses were based on facts rather than club loyalty, although I often took umbrage with his habit of punctuating his arguments with Neil Peart lyrics. When I began covering soccer in 2006, we continued our long-running discussions at the RFK Stadium press box at D.C. United games. On top …