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Books

Recommended viewing: gory awesomeness at Grand Illusion Cinema this month!

Gates of Hell Lucio Fulci Grand Illusion Cinema

YES. It's October! And that means lots of lots of horror movies screening around town. I'm particularly excited for Grand Illusion Cinema's gory programming, which kicks off this weekend with some Italian horror and Grindhouse magic. 

Gorgeous 35mm and 16mm prints, a small, intimate setting, and some cheap popcorn! IMHO, there's no better way to see these films. $12 gets you a seat, and your money goes to a great, local, independent theater. 

Here's what I'm most excited about, but there are horrific screenings almost every night, so check their site for the full schedule! 

Saturday October 5, 8pm
Portland's Grindhouse Film Festival Presents 35mm Exploitation Mayhem! Organizer Dan Halsted will be in attendance. 

The Grindhouse Trailer Spectacular
Featuring 65 minutes of amazing grind house trailers from the '60s and '70s, including Italian horror, blaxploitation, hicksploitation, sexploitation, kung fu insanity, revenge films and more! I didn't even know some of those 'sploitations were a thing. You learn something new every day, huh? 

Gates of Hell (aka: The City of the Living Dead) 
A surreal masterpiece by Italian horror-master Lucio Fulci, which I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT. Rotting dead feasting on the living! Intestines everywhere! A creeptastic soundtrack! And my personal favorite: THE HEAD DRILLING SCENE. 

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Latest comment by: Ben Nason: "Maniac Cop 2 is even better than Maniac Cop; you've also got some Robert Davi up in that flame fueled insanity."

Score some sweet, smart, stylish graphic novels at Top Shelf Comix's big sale

Top Shelf Productions has roots in the Pacific NW, since its beginning in 1997, sharing offices from Portland, OR to Marietta, GA, and New York City. Perhaps most well know to casual comics fans for the huge successes of the horror classic From Hell issue by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, and the theo-existential teenage blues Blankets from Craig Thompson, they are a super classy company and have tons of back catalogue goodies that give Fantagraphics or Drawn & Quarterly a run for their money.

Right now the company is winding down a huge summer sale on many of their books; the recent ones I'm recommending right now are discounted, and simply irresistible. But for those willing to check out their website, there are piles of great past titles available for up to 50% off, plus lots for only $3 a piece (!). There's a whole lot of sequential narrative nom-nom to be found, but don't miss:

March Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
The first in a series of autobiographies about veteran GA Congressman John Lewis, who was a bellwether in the Civil Rights Movement in America in the 60s, this volume is both artful and edifying. Bill Clinton even blurbs it on the back as an important source of history, and you can't say that about too many books. This first chapter finds Lewis growing up in rough and oppressive rural Alabama, his life sparked by meeting Martin Luther King, Jr., and the two of them opening a can of whup-ass on segregation all over the South together. Nate Powell, who has done more oblique dramas like Any Empire, as well as informative and emotional work on Darfur, is at his best as an illustrator here, his B&W artwork seeming both sophisticated and pleasantly sketchy, showing the excitement and looming noir fears of the times. Highly recommended, as enjoyable as it is energizing.

God Is Disappointed In You by Mark Russell and Shannon Wheeler

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Bread & Wine: Fantagraphics reissues a timeless romantic masterpiece about a dystopian prophet and a homeless man

It all started with an act of kindness to a passer-by. A man saw a paperback copy of Norman Podheretz's Making It as part of a used book sale spread out on a blanket on the street, and asked the flith-smeared fellow who placed it there how much he wanted for it. It was just a couple of bucks, but when the buyer reached for his wallet, he found it wasn't there, he'd left it at home. He laughed about this to the homeless man selling the books, who let him take it then anyways, suggesting he drop by the money when he walked by the sidewalk dispayed later, as he had done in the past. The first man came back and paid, and visited again and again. Eventually, the first man would take the second man home and make him his lover of many decades. And they're still together. 

Visionary science fiction author and professor emeritus Samuel R. Delany was the lucky book purchaser, and Dennis was the hard-drinking but also hard-working, homeless man. Without the former being a writer (and a truly excellent one at that), we might never have known this bizarre and touching story. Seattle-based Fantagraphics Books Inc. has just celebrated the men's long-running, happy relationship by putting back out Delany's graphic novel Bread & Wine: An Erotic Tale of New York, illustrated by Mia Wolff. I have often heard this story, and wondered about the particulars of it. The implicit mercy, compassion, empathy, and excitement is unavoidable to anyone who gets the shorthand version. But major props to Fantagraphics for reprinting the 44-page page personal history (in superbly produced hardcover treatment), as the nuances and negotiations of "Chip" Delany and Dennis starting a life together haven't been fully explored otherwise.

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Latest comment by: Gary Mklsek: "I was going through a Delaney phase around 1994, just before I joined the second band that would be king. Dhalgren, his memoir Motion of Stars and Water?, I think another one too. Really got into his deal. Drifted away for a bit, but then saw he was reading at ...

Hard Listening: The Greatest Rock Band Ever (of Authors) Tells All

Hard Listening is the biography of a rock supergroup (consisting mostly of best-selling authors) that lasted for twenty years (playing to audiences that consisted mostly of librarians). Hard Listening is an experiment in multimedia literature, with interactive quizzes and video clips in addition to the standard interviews and essays. But really, at its heart, Hard Listening is a love song to a woman.

Kathi Kamen Goldmark wrote several books. She also owned a record company, played in bands, taught preschool, and ran a business supporting authors on book tours. A woman of endless energy with a wicked wit, Kathi seemed to know everyone in the literary and music worlds. So when she got the idea in 1992 to raise money for charity by gathering best-selling authors to play classic rock (badly) at a book fair, she had all the right connections.

The writers she got for that show – among them Stephen King, Amy Tan, and Barbara Kingsolver – had so much fun, they made the band a regular thing.  With an ever expanding and rotating cast of authors, The Rock Bottom Remainders (a publishing term for books that don’t sell) toured like a real band and performed their schtick until Kathi’s death in 2012.

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Rock Torch: Volume One

If you haven’t yet discovered Rock Torch and are an over-the-moon audiophile or bibliophile, read on -- because this is one of the best ideas we’ve heard of since chocolate and peanut butter came together in an unholy union: Rock Torch founder Randy Abramson came up with the brilliant idea to ask musicians we love about which artists inspired/influenced them and why, and then put all the answers in a great big wonderful book.

Not only do they discuss in-depth what makes the music so off the charts, but also give album/listening suggestions by their recommended artist as a guide for new listeners. So that means you get the straight dope from Mike Doughty about Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy, Wanda Jackson writes about Elvis (is that simply perfect, or what?), and Ritzy Bryan from the Joy Formidable extolls the virtues of The Smiths. The list just goes on and on. Our own girl crush and local goddess, Rachel Flotard, contributed a piece on Dave Grohl and The Foo Fighters. Way to represent, PNW! Did we mention that this first volume of Rock Torch contains over one hundred essays? That is some serious brain candy for all the music lovers out there. The full color illustrations by Nicolas Nocera that accompany each piece make this compilation extra sweet.

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Best Zines of 2012: Cometbus, Mineshaft, The Prince Zine, and more

The volunteer-run, all-ages Vera Project at the Seattle Center recently hosted two Saturday celebrations of arty, musicy, writerly, printerly, poetry, baked sweet-nums creativity and I hung out at both, deflating my wallet for a huge stack of small press goodies. I do this whenever I can hit a Vera-sponsored craft thang, the most recent being the 5th Annual Hollow Earth DIY Holiday Fair, held this past December 8th. I saw some smokin' spoken word, hung out with my pals, and bought a lot of really cool music from Debacle, Medical, and ggnzla RECORDS at that one. (I'm going to write about the vinyl and CDs and DLs ASAP.) 

However, at the earlier event, the Short Run small press smorgasboard held earlier in November at the Vera, I picked up a sweet pile of chapbooks, comics, and yes zines that I've finally read through. And they're almost all brilliant. And so many of them too -- I've been going to zine events since, well, when zines were still called fanzines (but we won't get into that right now). But with the zine explosion and then zine decline-slash-advent of the boobwebs (my wife's name for the internet, I don't even want to glimpse her computer's search history), pickings at events like these started seeming meager and spare. But now that people are coming around again to the idea that owning a piece of art (which may or may not have writing and other stuff too) is actually too cool to believe and a spiritually profound way to live, no matter what your income is, old zinesters and new Do It Yourself darlings are choogling out self-published works again. To my heart's delight. 2012 seemed to be an awesomely inspiring year for those who wanted to put something out for their friends and new readers. Let's trip through the stacks fantastic (all are digest-size or thereabouts, which means half-sized, but thick with pages): 

Cometbus #54

This actually came out in 2011, but it's at the top of the list for being such an important example of how to tell a real life story about music, friends, and life. Aaron Cometbus has been making his perfect but non-pretentious collections of memoirs, essays, fiction, and reviews for many years without blowing his own horn too much about once playing in Green Day, and his own band Crimpshrine, and his work with the Gilman Street Project. If you want to learn how to live, scribble down your experiences, enjoy the best things in life (hint: money is a mere, not-too-classy option), dig in to this edition where he tags along with the punk pop trio to China for a tour for sure. This is where Aaron finally (peeps been waiting on this) examines how his friends Billie Joe and the rest gained power from being in an all ages punk rock scene, and then found lots of money and pain through ascending pop culture popularity. Aaron breaks the magician's rule by revealing many secrets of the inner circles of musicians (successful or not), and humorously juxtaposes his own addiction to literature and wandering experiential bliss with the mad-dog career of his old pals and the feral fandom of their followers. But he's still a fan. He loves these guys, and they love him, but love can be hard. (Four bucks. Available at Elliott Bay Bookstore and Sonic Boom, or order from Quimby's on the web.)

Mineshaft #28

Everett Rand and Gioia Palmieri publish the been-around-awhile, elegantly crafted, and impeccably edited Mineshaft, but it looks from casual glance to be a personal zine from underground cartoonists Robert Crumb, Aline Kominsky Crumb, Pat Moriarity, musician Billy Childish and many others. And in a way it is -- the material is very intimate, even if you know the names of the contributors. This zine blows your mind on several levels: It's proof the zine can be a gorgeous looking small press publication devoid of bad cut-out artwork, knee-jerk "punk" graphics, or completelty unknown artists and scribes. Everyone involved with the mag are either famous, secretly famous, or absolutely funktabulous. If you wonder about the milieu from which artists like Chris Ware, Charles Burns, and others have sprung their pals are occasionally helping this couple put out what has become my most cherished running zine. It is also very perplexing in that I avoided it as a sort of old hipster sketchbook for awhile, but once you dig into the wildness of Crumb's dream journal, or the really good poetry, or the special comics from Moriarity and Kim Deitch and other Fantagraphics-favorites, it has much more depth than it appears. Yes, something that looks this good and is by your legendary counter-culture heroes is really this great. If you dig Arthur Magazine, or want to see what VICE would be more like if it wasn't trying to get ad money, hit this. ($9 and worth it: Mineshaft, P.O. 1226, Durham NC 27702.) 

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Latest comment by: The Count of Al Dente: "Chris! Great article. It gives me hope for reviving some of my zine projects such as Baby Split Bowling News, Office (and art) Supply Junkie, and others hidden away in the basement mess. I never totally gave up, just lost a lot of drive. Maybe this time ...

Recommended Show: Ya Gotta Believe! at Richard Hugo House {11/16}

We wanted to give some love to the Richard Hugo House this week, because it’s amongst our favorite artistic community venues, and we don’t talk about it enough!

On Friday, November 16, as part of the 2012-2013 Literary Series, the Hugo House is hosting writers Ryan Boudinot (“Blueprints of the Afterlife”), Emily Kendall Frey (“The Grief Performance”), and Claire Dederer (“Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses”), who will lead a discussion of what to believe - and why Ya Gotta Believe!

With new music created by Jason Dodson of The Maldives, this event is going to be something super-extra-special, and super imaginary!

You should definitely snap up some tix online now, before it sells out.

{Ya Gotta Believe! | Richard Hugo House | Friday, 12/16, 7:30pm | $25 general, $20 HH members | All Ages, Bar with ID} 

Come see and hear the history of the Carter Family at the Hugo House this Monday {10/8}

On Monday, October 8 at 7:00 p.m., the Richard Hugo House, writer Frank M. Young, and artist David Lasky will be presenting The Carter Family: The Don't Forget This Song Book Launch Party. Young and Lasky are the creators of this delightfully unique illustrated autobiography about the first superstar family of country music (the one Johnny Cash was thrilled to marry into). They will be joined by fellow richly talented writers and artists Stacey Levine, Kelly Froh, Elissa Washuta and Mark Campos to present a multimedia reading, with musicians Laurel Bliss and Cliff Perry playing Carter Family songs. Plus, the RHH will be showing a video preview of The Winding Stream, a documentary about the Carter Family by Beth Harrington. There will be a dessert buffet (!!!), poet and proprietor of Pie Stand and Pie School, and copies of the graphic novel will be for sale by Elliott Bay Book Company -- live music and treats included for the outrageously low price at the door of $6!

The Carter Family was the birth, life, and death of a lot of music you hold dearest to your heart. If you hear their early-mid 20th century sides, your spirit will be consumed by a near-lost, old-time world of joy, sadness, sin, and salvation. The new graphic novel, The Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song (Abrams ComicArts) is an October release (appropriately, for the autumn and before holiday book-buying), and can you fill you in on the rosetta stone of all your favorite American-fomented country-folk love songs, murder ballads, and spirituals. When family head A.P. Carter and his family sang about trains ("Worried Man Blues") you were on a freaking train, cuz. With all the passion of someone leaving town or coming home, craving change or even death, and planting deep the ever-giving roots for road epics, restless soul rambles, and every other trope in modern rock, twangy or not. 

The Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song is the full-length collaboration between author/journalist/editor Young (who is from the American South) and Lasky (from Virginia), both having lived in Seattle through both the 90s alt-country music and alt-comics booms of this region. With their backgrounds and passions, no one else could have crafted a story this sensual, this paradoxical, and this compelling, even though the source material is pure gold. However, as music history so crucial, there have somehow been rare and few attempts to trace its anthropological and artistic necessariness to the C&W, gospel, and early rock scenes utterly indebted to it. Written with nuance and clarity, and lovingly drawn, the extended comic version of the Carter Family saga comes with a compact disc of eleven very rare radio sessions, making its worth far more than its cover price.

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Latest comment by: David Lasky: "Thank you for the kind mention, Chris! One CHANGE: Due to unforeseen circumstances, Kate Lebo's pie will not be served at the event. Instead, we'll be having a DESSERT POTLUCK, and the cover price will be a mere $6. Bring a dessert if you wish (it's ...

Recommended event {and sweet things!}: Bake It In A Cake Cookbook book release party on Thursday {10/4}

Bake It In A Cake

Not to ruin the surprise for any of my loved ones, but this year you're getting a copy of the Bake It In A Cake cookbook for your upcoming birthday or holiday gift... and I'm hoping to get each copy signed by none other than the book's author, Megan Seling, at tomorrow's Bake It In A Cake book release party at Elliot Bay Book Company {in Capitol Hill}.

Tomorrow is going to be about more than just getting most of my holiday shopping done, it's going to be a wonderful celebration of all the amazing work Seattle's own (and radio DJ and acclaimed writer at the Stranger) Megan Seling has done for the world of baked goods.  

About two years ago, she started with an idea of combining two things we all love: cupcakes and pies, candy, fruit, or anything else she dreams up that is a delectable match for said cupcake shell.  Since then she's brought together banana cupcake with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, Hello Panda chocolate-filled biscuits baked into mini brownies, and the holiday favorite--a mini PUMPKIN PIE baked into a cream cheese vanilla cupcake, topped with cinnamon cream cheese buttercream.

Each creation is a masterpiece, and so it's no surprise that in the last 2 years she's been praised by Martha Stewart, Rosie O'Donnell, and countless drooling sweets affectionados.  And now, everyone can be the life of the party snack table by creating our very own treat from the Bake It in a Cupcake: 50 Treats With a Surprise Inside cookbook.  

The book release party starts at 5pm, this Thursday (tomorrow) and, of course, there will be even be cupcakes!!!

Latest comment by: Anonymous: "Heyy, all these cakes look really nice and yummy, i'm gonna try some of them sometime! =D "

Neil Young: Waging Heavy Peace

In Waging Heavy Peace, Young is like a cool, old black-sheep uncle inviting you to kick back on the front porch on a summer evening with a cold beer, while watching the sun set and telling old stories. The preview chapter wanders like one of Young’s guitar solos, rambling from his model train collection, through David Crosby’s freebase addiction and relationship with Graham Nash, to the timeless beauty of the 1953 Buick Skylark, the Vietnam vet he hired to take care of his classic car collection, the barn that houses the collection and his business offices – all of which is just to introduce his obsession with sound quality and the evils of the mp3. Because you see, Young has an idea for a new technology that will pair the sound quality of vinyl with the convenience of mp3s. His is a storytelling style my mom (herself a huge Neil Young fan) calls “going down around Nellie’s barn.”

If you’re a music trivia freak looking for a comprehensive life story full of chronologically ordered details about Buffalo Springfield; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; and Crazy Horse, this book will drive you crazy. If you’ve ever wanted to kick back and shoot the shit with one of the greatest musicians of the last century, this is your chance.

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Latest comment by: imaginary liz: "

As soon as I get done with Young Kids, the Patty Smith memoir, I'm picking this up! (after the release date, of course)

Thanks for the heads up!!!

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