Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Wot by Captain Sensible

by Captain Sensible 
August 1982

In August 1982 Captain Sensible (the stage name of UK musician Raymond Ian Burns) released the single 'Wot' in the UK. 'Wot' was a track off his album Women and Captains First. When released in the US, the single peaked at No. 24 in the Billboard Dance chart.

I remember seeing the video on MTV. Although the existing clip is decidedly low-res, the quirky humor of the video still comes through. 'Wot' is a great song, and well worth listening to all over again............

When I woke up this morning I was feelin' fine
But this cat starts banging man what a swine.
So I called reception but to no avail
That's why I'm telling you this sorry tale.

I went bang - I said shut up,
I went bang - I said rap up.

Well I'm aware that the guy must do his work
But the piledriver man drove me berserk.

He said captain, I said wot,
He said captain, I said wot,
He said captain, I said wot,
He said captain, I said wot d'ya want

Once a lifetime, twice a day
If you don't work you get no pay.
I been to the east, I been to the west,
But the girls I like best are the ones undressed.

Well, hello Adam, where you been?
I said a'stand aside 'cause I'm feelin' mean,
I've had a gutful of you and I'm feelin' bad
'Cause you're an ugly old pirate and ain't I glad.

He said captain, I said wot, ...
He said captain, I said wot, ...

When I woke up this morning I was feelin' fine
But this cat starts banging man what a swine.
So I called reception but to no avail
That's why I'm telling you this sorry tale.

I went bang - I said shut up,
I went bang - I said rap up.

Well I'm aware that the guy must do his work
But the piledriver man drove me berserk.

He said captain, I said wot,
He said captain, I said wot,
He said captain, I said wot,
He said captain, I said wot d'ya want

Once a lifetime, twice a day
If you don't work you get no pay.
I been to the east, I been to the west,
But the girls I like best are the ones undressed.

Well, hello Adam, where you been?
I said a'stand aside 'cause I'm feelin' mean,
I've had a gutful of you and I'm feelin' bad
'Cause you're an ugly old pirate and ain't I glad.

He said captain, I said wot, ...
He said captain, I said wot, ...

Sunday, August 12, 2018

West of Eden by David Schleinkofer

'West of Eden' by David Schleinkofer
cover art for the Bantam Book by Harry Harrison, August 1984

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Book Review: The Mind Parasites

Book Review: 'The Mind Parasites' by Colin Wilson
2 / 5 Stars

‘The Mind Parasites’ was first published by Arkham House in 1967. This Bantam Books paperback (196 pp) was released in December 1968. The cover artist is uncredited.

In his Introduction, author Wilson states that the novel was inspired by his reading of the fiction of H. P. Lovecraft, who Wilson saw as an example of the so-called ‘Outsider’, which in Wilson’s lexicon refers to an artistic genius whose creative works often are understood, or inadequately appreciated, by a world indifferent to such talents.

‘The Mind Parasites’ is set in the late 1990s. The first-person narrator, renowned archeologist Gilbert Austin, heads an expedition to Karatepe, a remote area of Turkey, there to dig for evidence of a Hittite civilization. Using a variety of high-tech tools, Austin is astounded to discover that nearly two miles belowground sits the ruins of a city – a city constructed using immense blocks of stone weighing as much as three thousand tons each. Is the city a construct of the ancient beings that are referred to as the ‘Old Ones’ in Lovecraft’s fiction ?

Gilbert Austin has little time to ponder the implications of his discovery, for with it comes a stunning, and disturbing revelation: dwelling in the depths of his subconscious are alien entities..….the so-called Mind Parasites of the novel’s title. The parasites are skilled at hiding themselves from detection from all humans, save those gifted with an unusual degree of mental self-awareness. Austin is dismayed to learn that the parasites have been controlling and manipulating human destiny for at least two hundred years.

As the narrative progresses, Gilbert Austin finds himself engaged in a potentially lethal struggle to rid himself of the Mind Parasites, and to alert an unsuspecting world of the aliens that have placed invisible shackles upon all Mankind. But the aliens have no intention of letting one man best them………and Austin is dismayed to learn that those who have, in the past, sought to free themselves from the aliens’ control, have died by their own hands………forced to commit suicide by the malevolent power of the Mind Parasites………..

‘The Mind Parasites’ was a disappointing read. While the premise certainly is interesting, the plot is perfunctory and underdeveloped, serving mainly as a scaffold upon which author Wilson can hold forth on his personal philosophy of New Existentialism. Page after page features characters launching into one exegesis after another dealing with the metaphysics of human nature and human existence, as interpreted through the lens of the New Existentialism.

The latter pages of the novel attempt to restore some momentum to the narrative, but here Wilson introduces some ‘cosmic’ plot developments that are so unconvincing that they give the denouement a contrived quality.

Summing up, ‘The Mind Parasites’ is not the best of Colin Wilson’s sci-fi novels. His revisiting of the theme in 1976’s The Space Vampires is a much better book, and one I would recommend over ‘The Mind Parasites’.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Science Fiction by Tom Bailey

Science Fiction
by Tom Bailey

I don't usually review contemporary music here at the PorPor Books blog, but after hearing the new single from Tom Bailey, Science Fiction (a track from the June, 2018 CD of the same name) I felt I owed it to the readership to recommend picking up the song. It's a great track that calls to mind the best of 80s techno-pop.

[Tom Bailey is of course best known as one of the three members - along with Joe Leeway and Alannah Currie- of the UK band The Thompson Twins. ]

The CD and associated merchandise are available at this web site. The mp3 files are available for purchase at amazon. 

[The additional tracks on the CD also are well worth contemplating.]

Friday, August 3, 2018

2nd and Charles

2nd and Charles
Covington, LA

Twice during the past few days I've visited the '2nd and Charles' store located on Rte 190 in Covington, Louisiana. These are my first-ever visits to this new chain.

2nd and Charles apparently is an offshoot of 'Books A Million', but unlike BAM, 2nd and Charles mainly sells used books. Along with used video games; comic books, CDs; a healthy selection of geek culture-based action figures (Aliens, DC Comics characters, Marvel Comics characters, Walking Dead characters, etc.); and strangely enough, even.........musical instruments ?!

The store's newer inventory is limited to display tables and shelving of current release hardbound books, puzzles, playsets, etc., mainly in the sci-fi and fantasy genres.

The front area of the store is plentifully stocked with Impulse Purchase items: vinyl bobblehead mini-dolls of DC comics characters, racks of trading cards, cheap sunglasses, 3-D laser-cut paper models of cars and tarantulas (!?), and all manner of candies based in licensed Geek Culture icons. 

The store is huge, with wide, spacious aisles.

As far as my particular experiences with this one store go, 2nd and Charles doesn't have much in the way of used sci-fi, fantasy, and horror paperbacks, particularly those of the years 1968 - 1988, the era covered here at the PorPor Books Blog. 

Only a portion of the store's shelf space is devoted to fiction, and simply trying to find the used paperbacks is something of a chore, because all the fiction books are shelved alphabetically by author, rather than by genre / subject. And the predominant format in the 2nd and Charles inventory is hardbound books. 

So (based on my visits to this one store, of course) I would say you are NOT going to find DAW books from the 70s and 80s, ACE books from the 60s and 70s, Bantam Spectra titles, Baen Books, Doubleday SF Book Club hardbound editions, Ballantine Books' Edgar Rice Burroughs titles, etc., etc. 

What few sci-fi paperbacks I saw on the shelves were from within the past 10 years.

2nd and Charles does segregate some books by genre. For example, I saw shelf space devoted to Star Wars and Star Trek:

I did take advantage of 2nd and Charles's large selection of graphic novels. Predictably many of these were volumes of The Walking Dead , and compilations of poor-selling titles from publishers like BOOM and Dynamite and Valiant. 

However, because they were running a special on multiple purchases of used graphic novels, I was able to get used copies of the Planet Hulk and World War Hulk omnibuses for $20 and $30, as well as some All Star Western graphic novels from DC's 'New 52' imprint for under $5.00 each. 

The verdict ? Based on my visit to this one store, 2nd and Charles is not going to be a go-to place for used sci-fi, horror, and fantasy paperbacks, However the sheer size of the place and its large inventories of Geek Stuff likely will make it worth visiting every now and then.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Maybe by Thom Pace

Theme song for the movie and TV show The Legend of Grizzly Adams
by Thom Pace

This was the theme song for the 1974 theatrical release The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, and later for the TV show which began airing on CBS starting in February 1977.

Thom Pace (b. 1949) is a American folk singer-songwriter. A slightly different version of 'Maybe' was released as a single in Europe in 1980 and reached number one in Germany, no. 14 in the UK, and no. 23 in Australia.

'Maybe' perfectly captures the 'back to nature' movement that permeated popular culture back in the early 70s. 

Equip yourself with your Vasque brand hiking boots (worn with tube socks, of course), your brown corduroy slacks, a down jacket, and some granola, and make for the wilderness...........!

Deep inside the forest is a door into another land,
Here is our life and home,
We are staying, here forever in the beauty of this place all alone,
We keep on hoping...
Maybe, there's a world where we won't have to run, and
Maybe, there's a time we'll call our own,
Living free in harmony and majesty,
Take me home,
Take me home.
Walking through the land where every living thing is beautiful,
why does it has to end.
We are calling.. oh so sadly on the whisper of the wind as we send,
a dying message.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Colt 45 malt liquor ads

Bill Dee Williams
Colt 45 ads

The news that Billy Dee Williams will be reprising his role as Lando Calrissian in the next Star Wars movie can't help but be a step in the right direction, given the turkey that was The Last Jedi. Hopefully the script will give him a meaty part, one that stays true to the character.

Here you can find a series of clips of Bill Dee doing advertisements for Colt 45 malt liquor, likely from the early 1980s.

I remember the few times I drank Colt 45 back in the early 80s it left me with a severe hangover............but then again, maybe I was just a wuss.........?!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Book Review: Lord Tyger

Book Review: 'Lord Tyger' by Philip Jose Farmer

3 / 5 Stars

‘Lord Tyger’ was first published in 1970; this Granada / Panther books paperback was published in the UK in 1985. The striking cover illustration is by Richard Clifton-Dey.

At the time he wrote ‘Lord Tyger’ Philip Jose Farmer was engrossed in composing adventures for the old pulp heroes he so treasured, so ‘Tyger’ can be seen as thematically belonging to the series comprising A Feast Unknown (1969) and Lord of the Trees (1970). ‘Tyger’ also can be read as something of a companion volume to Farmer’s 1972 book Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography of Lord Greystroke, which is arguably the ultimate Fanboy Discourse on Tarzan.

As ‘Tyger’ opens our protagonist, Ras Tyger (‘Ras’ is Arabic for ‘Lord’) is perched in a tree and taunting the men of the Wantso tribe as they huddle in their fortified village, and scheme of a way to capture and kill this white-skinned, black-haired, gray-eyed jungle dweller yelling at them from just out of spear range.

It transpires that Ras Tyger likes the village’s women – who in turn are happy to reciprocate, since the practice of circumcision has rendered the Wantso men not only sterile, but Poor Performers. This village-wide cuckolding has left the Wantso men in an unpleasant mood.

Succeeding chapters detail Tyger’s conflict with the Wantso, as well as his increasing dissatisfaction with the explanations for his upbringing and the world around him given by his foster-parents Yusufu and Mariyam. Among the continuous stream of questions asked of them by Tyger are: Where did Tyger’s biological parents come from ? Why is there no one else in the jungle with white skin like Tyger’s ? What are the giant birds that occasionally fly above the jungle, with what appear to be angels riding inside the birds ? Why is there is a 1,000-foot tall stone pillar that rises to the skies from the lake in Tyger’s jungle realm, and why do the giant birds apparently nest atop this pillar ?

It’s not disclosing any spoilers to say that Ras Tyger is the unknowing participant in a massive experiment, one that promises all manner of revelations as he gradually learns the truth behind his seeming imprisonment in a massive terrarium carved out of the African wilderness……….

I finished ‘Lord Tyger’ with mixed emotions. The first half of the book is a slog, as author Farmer sparingly doles out the smaller revelations while exhaustively detailing Tyger’s war against the males of the Wantso tribe. The narrative does pick up more momentum in the second half of the book, although it is reliant on a regular dose of contrivances, some more eye-rolling than others.

While not a work of pornography like A Feast Unknown, ‘Lord Tyger’ does feature episodes of splatterpunk-style mayhem related in the same deadpan, almost droll prose style Farmer used in Feast. As well, being written in a politically incorrect era, it is highly likely that more than a few passages in the novel will be found to be misogynistic and racist by modern readers and critics. In my opinion, these two features of ‘Lord Tyger’ were what gave the book an edgy, transgressive character that made reading it worthwhile despite its other faults.

Summing up, ‘Lord Tyger’ is not as entertaining as A Feast Unknown. But those with a fondness for the Tarzan character, or Farmer’s reinterpretations of the classic pulp heroes, may find it worth acquiring.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Soldier of Fortune: Clouds of Blood

Soldier of Fortune
'Clouds of Blood'
by Alfredo Grassi (story) and Enrique Breccia (art)
from Merchants of Death No. 2, August 1988
Eclipse Comics

A new episode of the Alfredo Grassi comic 'Soldier of Fortune' appears in the second issue of Eclipse's magazine-sized comic book Merchants of Death

'Clouds of Blood' returns to the sun-blasted, amoral setting of Bolivia in 1905. This time our hero confronts a fateful transaction involving a local jefe and his rebellious daughter.......

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Second Earth

The Second Earth
by Patrick Woodroffe
Paper Tiger, 1987

'The Second Earth: The Pentateuch Re-Told' (144 pp) was issued by UK publisher Paper Tiger in 1987. Like all books from Paper Tiger, this is a well-made trade paperback with good quality paper stock and good quality reproductions of the artwork.

Patrick Woodroffe (1940 - 2014) was a well-known UK artist whose paintings and mixed-media works are familiar to anyone who read sci-fi and fantasy novels during the 70s.

In 1979 Woodroffe and his friend and colleague, the UK musician David Greenslade, collaborated on a multimedia project called The Pentateuch of the Cosmogony. Greenslade contributed a double album of instrumental music, and Woodroffe, a hardbound book of illustrations. You can listen to the music here.

'The Second Earth' provides an expanded showcase of Woodroffe's artwork for The Pentateuch of the Cosmogony.

The story's premise is one of sci-fi, mixed with mysticism. In 2378 a kilometer-long alien spaceship, labeled the Hermes, is discovered in orbit around Saturn. A UN expedition to the spacecraft discovers it is unmanned. A treasure trove of documents, written in alien script, are found inside the ship; their translation forms the basis of the narrative.

'The Second Earth' relates the mythology and creation tales of the humanoid culture that gave rise to the Hermes. The accompanying artwork is chosen to illustrate various aspects of these creation tales, which are similar in tone to those of ancient cultures here on Earth.

Without disclosing any spoilers, I'll state that as the story progresses, it becomes apparent that the travails of the civilization piloting the Hermes have profound implications for the fate of Mankind and the planet upon which we reside.

'The Second Earth' is something of a disappointment. While Woodroffe's efforts to move beyond being an artist into also being a writer are in some sense to be congratulated, the truth is that his prose is less than inspiring. The main narrative of 'The Second Earth' is obtuse and not very readable. 

The Appendix, which details the alien race's cuneiform language, is designed to mimic a scholarly monograph; this is a chore to wade through. 

Since no editorial assistance is acknowledged in the book's opening pages, it seems that Woodroffe did not enlist such assistance when writing 'The Second Earth'. If this was indeed the case, it's unfortunate, because editorial oversight likely would have made the book much more coherent and engaging.  

The artwork presented in the book certainly is excellent, although having to be cropped or shrunk in order to accommodate the text means that readers over a certain age will likely need glasses in order to make out some of the smaller illustrations, as well as the more intricate details of the larger reproductions.

The verdict ? 'The Second Earth' represents Woodroffe's ambitions to synthesize art, literature, and music into an imaginative new direction; that said, sometimes the transition from artist to writer is not so easily done. 'The Second Earth' succeeds in some degree as a showcase for Woodroffe's artistic talents, but his prose is not up to the task. Given that books like Mythopoeikon and Hallelujah Anyway, which are dedicated solely to Woodroffe's art, are readily available for affordable prices, I really can only recommend 'The Second Earth' to Woodroffe completists.