Monday, August 20, 2018

Musical Monday - Theme from M*A*S*H (Suicide is Painless) by the Mash


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: May 31, 1980 through June 14, 1980.

I have no idea why this song became number one in the U.K. in 1980. That is not to say this is a bad song, but by the time it became number one in the U.K., it was a decade old. The song was originally released when the 1970 M*A*S*H movie starring Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould came out. It was used again for the M*A*S*H television series which ran in the United States from 1972 to 1982.

I thought that the song may have become popular to coincide with the airing of the television show in the U.K., but M*A*S*H wasn't aired in the U.K. until 1984. I thought it might have coincided with a release or rerelease of the movie, but that doesn't seem to be the case either. I checked every plausible reason I could come up with, and there just doesn't seem to be any kind of trigger that would explain why a ten-year old song pulled itself out of mothballs and climbed to the top of the U.K. charts.

On an entirely unrelated note, the song was commissioned by director Robert Altman for the 1970 movie, and the lyrics were written by Michael Altman, Robert's then 14-year old son. Robert turned the job over to his son because he couldn't write lyrics that he thought were dumb enough to be what he wanted out of the song. Ironically, Michael has reportedly earned far more in songwriting royalties for the song than his father did for directing the movie it appeared in.

Previous Musical Monday: Funkytown by Lipps, Inc.
Subsequent Musical Monday: Crying by Don McLean

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Whats Another Year by Johnny Logan
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: Crying by Don McLean

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

The Mash     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Book Blogger Hop August 17th - August 23rd: Pope Dionysius Died in 268 A.D.


Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Do you follow other book blogs and if so, who are your top 3 bloggers?

I don't really follow a lot of dedicated book blogs, but I do pay attention to a number of "bookish" blogs. Three that come to mind are:

1. Camestros Felapton: The eponymous blog is written by Camestros Felapton. Felapton is, quite notably, a pseudonym, and recently a group of jerks angry that Camestros had spent so much time tweaking their noses claimed, incorrectly, that they had discovered his true identity and in the process made life miserable for what amounted to an innocent bystander. For his part, Camestros pointed out they were wrong and has kept right on tweaking their noses. While Camestros does include a fair number of book (and movie, and television) reviews in his posts, Felapton is also very interested in philosophy, keeping track of and making fun of the doings of the aforementioned group of radically conservative authors, and keeping an eye on some genre fiction awards. In addition, he has an ongoing back and forth with Timothy, his talking cat and Camestros has produced some of the most hilarious parodies I have ever seen. His blog is insightful, enjoyable, and often surreal.

2. Whatever: Written by John Scalzi, this blog is mostly whatever Scalzi feels like writing about, which seems kind a predictable given the name of the blog. Scalzi writes about politics, burritos, his wife and daughter, science fiction publishing and fandom, his lawn, sunsets, hotel room views, and all kinds of other subjects. One of the recurring features on his blog are the "Big Idea" posts, in which he turns his blog over to other authors to talk about and promote their books. Many of the Big Idea posts include reflections by the author on the inspirations for their book, their inspirations for their writing in general, their writing process, and their thoughts on the journey from empty page to publications. They are often thoughtful and go far beyond simply promoting the new work. This, coupled with Scalzi's wit and snark in the other posts on the blog make this a must read for me.

3. Pretty Terrible: Written by Natalie Luhrs, this blog is the best place to find links to the interesting, the insightful, and the adorable with a link to the science fiction and fantasy field. Luhrs also frequently writes reviews of science fiction books and short fiction, an effort that is frequently focused on the finalists for the Hugo Award. She also engages in some analysis of things like the Locus Recommended Reading List, and various other sundry topics. In a world full of snarky cynicism for the sake of snarky cynicism, Natalie's blog stands out as a bastion of cheerful happiness combined with a relentlessly uncompromising willingness to speak the truth.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, August 13, 2018

Musical Monday - Funkytown by Lipps, Inc.


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: May 31, 1980 through June 21, 1980.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: May 31, 1980 through June 28, 1980.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

My first memory of this song is its appearance in Mel Brooks' History of the World, Part I - or more likely its appearance in a commercial advertising the movie, since I didn't actually see the movie until half a decade after it was released. Its inclusion in Brooks' movie was a kind of throwaway street scene set in ancient Rome with a black man in a robe walking down the street among Romans in togas with a boom box by his head blaring Funkytown. The scene is funny because it presents an incongruous image of a modern dude in ancient Rome, but it also serves to connect the urbanity of Rome with the urbanity of contemporary "street" culture in part because the song is presented as coming from a "ghetto blaster" carried by a black man as he grooves through the scene.

The oddity of using Funkytown in this way is that despite it being a "disco" song, the video used to promote the song is almost a parody of the genre. At some point I saw someone make the observation that Funkytown was the last real disco hit in the United States. I don't know if that is technically true, but it seems like it should be true. There's not really much to the song - it has a perky, driving beat and about six total lines worth of lyrics. The song makes up for its paucity of lyrical content by being relentlessly whitewashed, and this is why it just doesn't fit the scene Brooks used it for: This song isn't an example of the ethnic and urban nature of music in the 1970s, it is an example of the white cooption of a music form that was originated and popularized by black artists.

This is the woman who actually
sang Funkytown
Even though the Bee Gees are, for many people, the face of disco music, they were kind of late to the disco party, jumping in only after other pioneering artists had established it as the dominant musical style of the 1970s. The "first" disco hit was Rock the Boat by the Hues Corporation, a trio of black singers. They were followed by artists like Thelma Houston, Cheryl Lynn, Van McCoy, Vickie Sue Robinson, Rose Royce, Donna Summer, the Trammps, and Anita Ward, all of whom were black in what was, at its origin and development, a form of music that arose out of the urban club scene. As had happened with Soul music in the 1960s, disco music was soon co-opted by white artists who could put a face more pleasing to middle America on the music.

The secret to Lipps, Inc. is that Cynthia Johnson, the lead singer of the group, and most of other the members of the group are, in fact, black. But the face of the song is this perky English white girl named Debbie Jenner. Jenner didn't just appear in the official video above, but was also the face of the song in what were ostensibly "live" performances such as this one on Top of the Pops and this one on a show apparently named Disco. I'm not sure that I could come up with a more fitting way for the disco era to end than a song sung by a black woman lip synched by a blonde white girl. Not even if I tried for a week.

Previous Musical Monday: What's Another Year by Johnny Logan
Subsequent Musical Monday: Theme from M*A*S*H (Suicide is Painless) by the Mash

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Call Me by Blondie
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Coming Up by Paul McCartney

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Call Me by Blondie
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: The Rose by Bette Midler

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Lipps, Inc.     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Book Blogger Hop August 10th - August 16th: 267 Tirza Was the First Asteroid Discovered by Auguste Charlois


Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Can you say this about yourself? Nothing makes me happier than sitting down with a good book.

No, and I am of the opinion that anyone who could probably has a very sad life.

I don't want to be misunderstood here: Sitting down with a good book makes me very happy. But it doesn't make me happier than spending time with my children. Sitting down with a book doesn't make me happier than doing things with my wife. Books are great, and I love sitting down and reading them, but for that to be the thing that made me happiest I would have to have all of the important relationships in my life completely break down. I can't imagine the level of personal disaster that would cause that, or the volume of misery that would result, and being able to read books would probably be, at best, cold comfort at that point.

Subsequent Book Blogger Hop: Pope Dionysius Died in 268 A.D.

Book Blogger Hop     Home

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

2018 WSFA Small Press Award Nominees

Location: CapClave in Rockville, Maryland.

Comments: The 2018 WSFA Small Press Award features eight nominees written by authors who have never won the award, meaning that no matter which one emerges as the victor at CapClave in September, they will be a first-time winner. As with previous years, the list of nominees for the WSFA Small Press Award has some minor crossover with other awards - in this case, with the Hugo Award finalists for 2018 in the form of The Secret Life of Bots by Suzanne Palmer.

This year's set of nominees continues the tradition of having a couple of outstanding stories which would not seem out of place on a Hugo or Nebula ballot, a couple of pretty good stories, and a couple of stories that just aren't as good as the rest. Unlike previous years, this set of stories doesn't include any that make me scratch my head and wonder how they ever got submitted for consideration let alone got through the selection process to become nominees. In short, while the top of the list this year is pretty much as good as it is every year, the bottom isn't quite as low as it had been in some previous years.

WSFA Small Press Award

Winner:
TBD

Other Nominees:
The Cat of Five Virtues by Richard Parks
Floaters Can’t Float by Pip Coen
Oba Oyinbo by Jonathan Edelstein
The Oracle and the Warlord by Karina Sumner-Smith
Probably Still the Chosen One by Kelly Barnhill
The Secret Life of Bots by Suzanne Palmer
Through Milkweed and Gloom by Wendy Nikel
A Vague Inclination to Please by Brandon Daubs

Go to previous year's nominees: 2017
Go to subsequent year's nominees: 2019

Book Award Reviews     Home

Monday, August 6, 2018

Musical Monday - What's Another Year by Johnny Logan


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: May 17, 1980 through May 24, 1980.

The Eurovision Song Contest is a massive event that most Americans don't even know exists. Every year, every participating country in Europe (and beyond - Australia and Israel have also participated for years) chooses a performance of a song as their entry in the competition. Over the course of the competition, the ranks of the competitors are winnowed down by popular votes cast by phone, until on one massive festival of glitter and near insanity the finalists all perform and are voted on by the public and judged by a panel of judges whereupon one entry is chosen as the winner. Once in a great while, the winner becomes a star: ABBA famously won with the song Waterloo in 1974. Celine Dion won for Switzerland in 1988 with the song Ne Partez pas Sans Moi. The Brotherhood of Man won for the U.K. in 1976 with Save Your Kisses for Me. Other winners have had their singular moment of glory on the Eurovision stage and then proceeded to fade from public view.

I say all of this because this song won the 1980 Eurovision song contest for Ireland before becoming a number one hit in the U.K. The video presented here is from Logan's performance in the finals of the 1980 Eurovision song contest. Logan is, in fact, the only individual to win the Eurovision song contest twice, winning it again in 1987 with the song Hold Me Now. This arrangement of the song was created by Bill Whelan, who would later go on to greater fame as the driving force behind Riverdance. The song hit number one on the charts in multiple countries, but like the Eurovision song contest itself, it went almost completely unnoticed in the United States - as far as I can tell, the song didn't even reach the charts in the U.S. This is simply more evidence of the insularity of American pop culture, and an indication of just how much goes on in the world about which the typical American is simply oblivious.

Previous Musical Monday: Geno by Dexys Midnight Runners
Subsequent Musical Monday: Funkytown by Lipps, Inc.

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Geno by Dexys Midnight Runners
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: Theme from M*A*S*H (Suicide is Painless) by the Mash

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Johnny Logan     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Book Blogger Hop August 3rd - August 9th: Irish High King Cormac mac Airt Reportedly Died in 266 A.D.


Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Have you ever had a bookish, nocturnal dream? If so, please share the story. If not, have you ever had a daydream related to books? If so, please tell us about it.

With respect to the first part of the question, the answer is no. The reason is that I simply don't remember anything about my dreams. Or if I do remember anything about a dream, the memory is so chaotic and jumbled that it is simply impossible for me to make any kind of coherent sense out of those memories. I might have had a bookish dream, but if I did, I don't remember it well enough to give an account of what it was about.

As an aside, this question reminds me of a sequence in C.S. Lewis' Voyage of the Dawn Treader where the crew comes across an island and find a refugee who explains that the island is a place where dreams come true. The crew is excited about this, imagining their fond desires will be met, whereupon the refugee says that they are wrong - the island doesn't make daydreams come true, it makes dreams come true. With that revelation, the entire crew immediately jumps to the oars to pull the ship away from the island as quickly as possible.

With that preface, I will say that I have had some bookish daydreams (although not as many as one might think, given the number of books that I read). Over the years I have had daydreams about being (or at least having the powers of) various superheroes, living in some fantasy or science fictional worlds, or simply having access to particular technology or power. I have often daydreamed about living in a world in which Niven's teleport pad technology or Bester's "jaunt" ability was real, and how much more convenient life would be. That's about the extent of my bookish dreams though.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, July 30, 2018

Musical Monday - Geno by Dexys Midnight Runners


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: May 3, 1980 through May 10, 1980.

While I am familiar with Dexy's Midnight Runners as a result of their later his song Come on Eileen, I had never heard Geno until this past week. The song is ostensibly a tribute to the soul singer Geno Washington, who was popular in the U.K. in the mid to late 1960s, but to be perfectly honest Kevin Rowland's vocals are so muddy that it is hard to make this out. I had to look up the lyrics online to be able to follow them at all. A little research reveals that the song is intended to evoke the sound of songs produced by Geno Washington with the Ram Jam Band, but I haven't listened to enough of their music to know if this is true.

One thing that is interesting about this song is that despite the fact that it spent two weeks at number one in the U.K., it was pretty much loathed by critics and not much liked by EMI, Dexy's Midnight Runners' record label. I'm kind of in the middle on this issue: I don't hate the song, but I don't really think I will ever feel the need to seek it out to listen to it either.

Previous Musical Monday: Call Me by Blondie
Subsequent Musical Monday: What's Another Year by Johnny Logan

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Call Me by Blondie
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: What's Another Year by Johnny Logan

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Dexys Midnight Runners     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Book Blogger Hop July 27th - August 2nd: The Battle of Messana, the First Battle Between Rome and Carthage, Took Place in 265 B.C.


Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Do you agree or disagree with this statement: A blogger's first name should be in a prominent place on his/her blog.

Given that my name only appears buried at the bottom of one page on this blog, it should seem relatively obvious that I disagree with the statement. I just don't see why anyone would really care about the name of most bloggers. I suppose if you were a famous person who took up blogging like Chuck Wendig or John Scalzi, then you might want to make sure your name was prominently displayed on your blog, but for most other bloggers I just don't think it really matters very much.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Review - Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir by Stan Lee, Peter David, and Colleen Doran


Short review: Stan Lee gives an over-the-top, incredibly enthusiastic, account of his life full of superlatives and exclamation points all told in graphic novel form. Excelsior!

Haiku
It is Amazing!
Fantastic and Incredible!
Simply Marvelous!

Full review: Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible is Stan Lee's exuberantly hyperbolic graphic novel memoir in which he recounts the events of his life as he remembers them. I note at the outset that this isn't a biography, or even an autobiography, as it does not really seem to strive for complete accuracy. Lee has a known tendency to embellish the past, and an astute reader will note that at least some of the anecdotes related in this book are at odds with the recollections of other participants, and in some cases, at odds with documented history. One who was looking for a sober assessment of the life of Stan Lee and his career in and impact upon the comic book industry should probably look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you want a view into what more or less amounts to unadulterated Stan Lee enthusiasm, then this book will definitely suit your fancy.

Though the book more or less follows Lee's life chronologically from his birth as Stan Lieber to some time just short of 2015, the story is told as a flashback, with Lee bursting through the opening page in boisterous fashion to kick off the story with open arms and the question "How did it happen?" The scene then switches to Lee standing in front of a crowd ready to regale them with stories about his exploits before getting distracted by his own image on the giant jumbo-tron behind him whereupon he mentions that his wife has cut his hair for his entire adult life. This is an almost perfect metaphor for both Lee's storytelling skill and his almost oppressively omnipresent narcissism. The fact that he highlights this so early in the book, and with such self-awareness is what keeps Lee's intense self-promotion from being off-putting and makes it instead somewhat endearing.

The "it" in "How did it happen" is basically Lee's life, or more specifically, how did a poor kid from New York become a comic book writer and wind up as one of the most recognizable figures in that industry. The story itself isn't all that exciting - Lee grew up poor in the depression, got a job as a gopher in the comic books division of a small publishing company, was in the right place at the right time to move up and showed a flair for the kind of over-the-top evocative storytelling that the medium favored. Along the way he met a woman, got married, had a child, and kept making comic books for decades. What makes this book work as well as it does is that it takes this fairly bland story and wraps it in Lee's style of storytelling, punching up the mundane and lacing it with humorous anecdotes to make it exciting and interesting.

One of the keys to understanding this book is to note that it contains two mostly distinct but intertwined plot lines. The first, which shows up first, is the story of Lee's life, starting with his childhood making homemade milkshakes and devouring books and running through his service in the U.S. Army, his misadventures that led to his marriage to Joanie, and the other ordinary events that most lives are made of. The second is the story of Lee's professional career, kicking off with his first job working for Atlas through his glory years in the 1960s when he created and launched the lineup of Marvel characters that serve as the publisher's foundation to this day, to his repeated efforts to start and maintain a Marvel fan club, and on to his later projects including his ill-fated venture into internet commerce, and quirky titles like Stripperella. These stories are related insofar that they are all events in Lee's life, but for the most part they are otherwise disconnected with one another, resulting in a somewhat compartmentalized semi-episodic feel that pervades the book.

One of the odd things about the book is that the parts that are already pretty well-known, especially the the sort of person who would be interested in this book to begin with - the parts that recount Lee's work at Marvel, the creation of various titles for the company, the pages where he highlights the iconic figures he worked with such as Ditko and Kirby - are the parts that are interesting, whereas the parts that are not well-known - the details of Lee's early home life, his relationship with his wife, and other personal details - are somewhat less interesting, or at least they are only interesting because they are mundane stories that are told by Lee. This dynamic makes the book a bit weird to read. For example, it is somewhat interesting that Lee created the Fantastic Four as a crime-fighting family with interpersonal dynamics as a core element of the storytelling, and it is kind of cool to have a full page showing the cover of the first issue of the Fantastic Four title, but none of this is really much of a revelation to the intended audience for the book. On the other hand, it probably is news to a lot of people that Lee met his future wife Joanie when she answered the door as he was coming pick up her roommate for a blind date, but that isn't all that newsworthy a tidbit of information.

The whole book is wrapped in a kind of manic energy. In any other book this would hint of a desperate attempt to punch up a boring story, but here it just seems like a reflection of Lee's personality. Amidst all of the superlatives, the book contains numerous nice flourishes that long time fans are sure to appreciate, such as full page illustrations depicting some of the notable figures in comic book history, replicas of the covers of the first issues in which many of the most prominent Marvel characters appeared, and a reproduction of the anti-VD poster lee designed while he was in the Army. Through all of the unfettered exuberance, the most brilliant elements of the book are contained in the subtle touches such as a panel in which Lee explains how to be a better writer by paying attention while watching movies shows a scene from what appears to be Captain America: The Winter Soldier with Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans as Black Widow and Captain America. Or a sequence in which Lee explains to his younger self that the woman he daydreams about will be the woman he eventually marries that is punctuated by the older Lee tossing aside a copy of the issue of Action Comics in which Superman first appeared. Or the sequence in which Lee talks about, and grieves for, his daughter who died in infancy. These small moments elevate the book beyond being simply a steady stream of excited enthusiasm, and make it a memorable memoir.

Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible is ultimately kind of like Lee's favorite catch phrase "Excelsior!" - it is bombastic, enthusiastic, and delivered with an exclamation point, but beyond that it has about as much substance as one of Marvel's famous No-Prizes. Just like a No-Prize is nice to win but doesn't really provide much more than the nice feeling of having won it, this book is nice to read, but doesn't offer a whole lot more than the nice feeling of having read it. Anyone who picks up this volume looking to glean some insights into Lee's life is likely to come away feeling slightly disappointed. On the other hand, anyone who picks up this book hoping to experience just a little bit of what it is like to listen to Lee perform in front of an audience of appreciative ComicCon attendees is likely to get exactly what they were looking for. I'm not sure if this book can be really described as great, but it definitely can be described as ineffably Stan Lee, and that is probably all one can really ask from it.

Stan Lee     Peter David     Colleen Doran     Book Reviews A-Z     Home

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

2018 World Fantasy Award Nominees

Location: World Fantasy Convention, Baltimore, Maryland

Comments: For years, the World Fantasy Award was the domain of white male authors. It was, as far as I can tell, the whitest and malest of all the major awards. Thankfully, those days seem to be confined to the past, and the award is now a wonderful celebration of the diversity of the field of fantasy fiction. This year's list of nominees represents the full range of the field with a number of fresh new faces placed alongside some old stalwarts of the genre.

This year also reflects the trend started last year of having several nominees cross over with the other major awards. Several of the nominees on this list were also nominated for the Hugo, the Nebula, the Locus, or the Mythopoeic Award. There has always been some amount of crossover, but it appears that it is becoming more common in the past few years. I'm not entirely sure what this might mean and given that this is just based upon my perception and not on any kind of detailed analysis, it might not even be an actual trend. It feels like a trend, and may merit a more thorough investigation.

Best Novel

Winner:
TBD

Other Nominees:
The Changeling by Victor LaValle
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
Jade City by Fonda Lee
Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymir by John Crowley
Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

Best Long Fiction

Winner:
TBD

Other Nominees:
The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang
In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle
Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones
Passing Strange by Ellen Klages
The Teardrop Method by Simon Avery

Best Short Fiction

Winner:
TBD

Other Nominees:
The Birding: A Fairy Tale by Natalia Theodoridou
Carnival Nine by Caroline Yoachim
Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand by Fran Wilde
Old Souls by Fonda Lee
Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™ by Rebecca Roanhorse

Best Anthology

Winner:
TBD

Other Nominees:
The New Voices of Fantasy edited by Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman
Black Feathers: Dark Avian Tales edited by Ellen Datlow
The Book of Swords edited by Gardner Dozois
The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories edited by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin
The Best of Subterranean edited by William Schafer

Best Collection

Winner:
TBD

Other Nominees:
Down and Out in Purgatory: The Collected Stories of Tim Powers by Tim Powers
The Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
Tender by Sofia Samatar
Wicked Wonders by Ellen Klages

Lifetime Achievement

Winner:
Charles de Lint
Elizabeth Wollheim

Other Nominees:
None

Best Artist

Winner:
TBD

Other Nominees:
Gregory Manchess
Victo Ngai
Omar Rayyan
Rima Staines
Fiona Staples

Special Award, Professional

Winner:
TBD

Other Nominees:
Harry Brockway, Patrick McGrath, and Danel Olson
C.C. Finlay
Irene Gallo
Greg Ketter
Leslie Klinger

Special Award, Non-Professional

Winner:
TBD

Other Nominees:
Scott H. Andrews
Justina Ireland and Troy L. Wiggins
Khaalidah Muhammed-Ali and Jen R Albert
Ray B. Russell and Rosalie Parker
Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas

Go to previous year's nominees: 2017
Go to subsequent year's nominees: 2019

Book Award Reviews     Home

Monday, July 23, 2018

Musical Monday - Call Me by Blondie


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: April 19, 1980 through May 24, 1980.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: April 12, 1980 through May 24, 1980.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: April 26, 1980.

In April of 1980, the 1980s arrived with Call Me. This is really the first identifiably "1980s" hit. There are definitely influences from the 1970s in it - it contains a little bit of disco, but it isn't quite disco; it contains a little bit of punk, but it isn't quite punk. And so on. This song, like Blondie itself, was kind of like things that had gone before, but was an entirely new thing at the same time.

To a certain extent, Blondie set the tone for the 1980s with songs like Call Me. Though the song wasn't like anything that had come before, there was a lot that came afterwards that tried to imitate it, and tried to imitate the band as well. In a way, Blondie made the 1980s what they were, and Call Me was a big part of that.

Subsequent Musical Monday: Geno by Dexys Midnight Runners

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Another Brick in the Wall (Part II) by Pink Floyd
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Funkytown by Lipps, Inc.

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Another Brick in the Wall (Part II) by Pink Floyd
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Funkytown by Lipps, Inc.

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Working My Way Back to You - Forgive Me Girl by the Spinners
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: Geno by Dexys Midnight Runners

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Book Blogger Hop July 20th - July 26th: The Me 264 Bomber Was Designed to Attack New York from France


Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: What's your proudest blogging milestone or achievement?

I have to say that I don't really know. A blog is an ongoing thing, so there is very little that I ever really regard as being "finished". I suppose I could be proud of the fact that the blog is ten years old - I put up the earliest real posts in early 2008. I suppose I could be proud that the blog has more than 3,000 posts, although a number of them aren't really "blog posts" in the ordinary sense of the term. These milestones don't seem particularly notable to me, as they came and went without my even noticing they had.

I have a couple of projects that might be finished in the future, such as the Ad Astra Cooking Project, the 1980s Project, and Appendix E, but those are far from complete and probably will not be for some time. I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but that's true a lot of the time, so that's probably par for the course.

Previous Book Blogger Hop: 263 Is a Strictly Non-Palindromic Number

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Monday, July 16, 2018

Musical Monday - Working My Way Back to You - Forgive Me Girl by the Spinners


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: April 12, 1980 through April 19, 1980.

When I was young, I was more familiar with the 1966 version of this song by the Four Seasons due to the fact that my mother had an album of that band's hits. That said, I much prefer this version of the song. While the Four Seasons version is perfectly fine, the Spinners ramped up the tempo by giving it a driving disco beat and punched up the lyrics by making the song into a medley with Michael Zager's Forgive Me Girl. Couple those elements with the Spinners' characteristic choreography and presentation, and this is simply a better performance of the song, even though the bass singer (who I believe is Pervis Jackson) is clearly not a smooth dancer. This is pretty much the apex of disco-era R&B music, and for the most part, also its swan song.

Working My Way Back to You is a catchy peppy song with really quite problematic lyrics. The problem is, the lyrics to the song present a picture of a pretty awful person. The character portrayed by the singer is not only a jerk, he's an abusive jerk. He starts off by admitting that he fooled around, but escalates to saying that he made his girlfriend cry and that doing so made him feel like a man. Now that he's lost her, he regrets his actions and is making all kinds of promises to try to win her back, but this is also classic abuser behavior. The apologies, the promises, the pleas, the "just give me one more chance" routines, they are all almost textbook abuser behaviors, and knowing that gives this song a decidedly darker cast than was probably intended.

Previous Musical Monday: Going Underground/Dreams of Children by the Jam
Subsequent Musical Monday: Call Me by Blondie

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Going Underground/Dreams of Children by the Jam
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: Call Me by Blondie

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

The Spinners     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Book Blogger Hop July 13th - July 19th: 263 Is a Strictly Non-Palindromic Number


Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Does a cluttered blog have you not returning? By cluttered I mean too many columns, small type, too many photos, difficult to follow, etc.

I have to preface my response to this comment to say that I don't actually visit very many blogs. There are a few I return to on a regular basis, but between work, the Littlest Starship Captain, the Redhead, keeping up with this blog, and the various other demands on my time, I'm just not able to do a lot of blog reading.

That said, there are a number of things that will cause me to stop visiting a blog. Anything that autoplays, whether it is music or a video, makes me immediately click away from a blog. An overly busy background, especially one that makes it difficult to read any text is a big negative for me. I don't mind icons as long as they are confined to well-defined sidebars, but things should be clearly labeled and the blog should be easy to navigate. Above all, the text of the blog posts should be obvious and easy to read. Nothing will turn me off a blog quicker than page elements that obscure the text of the posts.


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