Wednesday, May 28, 2014

She's Just Sitting In Her Room Reading Books About UFOs

I'm a reader of the Myth Adventures series of comic fantasy novels by the late Robert Lynn Asprin. They follow the adventures of amateur spellcaster Skeeve and his mentor, the demon (dimension traveller) and native of the dimension of Perv (a Pervect, he insists) known as Aahz. Asprin began the stories as an homage to the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby 'Road' movies, and a lighthearted reprieve from some very dark, depressing sci-fi he'd previously worked on.

Along the way the pair make friends with an entourage of characters, and for the eighth novel, MYTH Inc. Link, Asprin changed format as a result. This one followed Skeeve and Aahz' friends and partners on smaller adventures, while hinting that later books would bounce back and forth between this and the regular novel format used when Skeeve and Aahz were at the center of the action.

One of those adventures was the assignment of guarding a warehouse full of back-issue comics; undertaken by Skeeve's pet dragon Gleep, and hit man Nunzio, a former Mafia associate now in Skeeve's employ as a bodyguard. Nunzio determines, by inspecting the comics, that they're forgeries, as there seem to be more comics in storage than the original print runs could have totalled. As a result, the warehouse ends up torched, quite mysteriously.

I'm also a comics reader, and the warehouse full of comics reminds me of the backstory of Mile High Comics, founded by Chuck Rozanski in 1969 in his parents' basement, and now grown into one of the largest back-issue comics retailers in the market. One of the stepping stones to this growth was the purchase of nearly two million back issues in a deal with some shady characters.

The trick here is that the comics were largely affidavit returns; books that were not sold at retail, claimed to be destroyed for a refund, then subsequently resold for an additional profit. Rumor had it at the time that organized crime had a hand in this fraud. Rozanski certainly came by the comics in a legitimate fashion; but the surprisingly harrowing tale of the deal in full is best told in twelve parts at his editorial blog on MHC's site, beginning with Tales From The Database - Mile High II Collection Part I.

Seemingly, Asprin thought something was fishy in Rozanski's deal and devoted a few pages of his novel to satirize it. Certainly, though, the large numbers of back issues that Rozanski purchased had accumulated genuinely, albeit for a fraudulent purpose; and in the end bolstered his business. If you read through the story of the deal, you may get the feeling, as I did, that chances were they may have been irrevocably lost otherwise.

As an aside, two comics creators that Asprin was friends with and gave a little in-story tribute to happen to be Wendy and Richard Pini, creators of Elfquest; a favorite title of mine. And guess where issues to fill some of the gaps in my Elfquest collection have come from? Yep, I've got Rozanski and Mile High Comics to thank for that.

Friday, May 23, 2014

I'm Not That Good At Breathing In

I managed to get six albums that I wanted and somehow they never made it onto this list when I found out about them. The new Black Keys, the latest three Guided By Voices discs, The Myrrors, and Blue Oyster Cult's Spectres. So much for making progress. Fortunately I haven't added too much to the list lately.

Courtney Barnett - The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas
Shulamith - Poliça
Up From Below - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Mechanical Bull - Kings Of Leon
Port Of Morrow - The Shins
New Moon - The Men
Heartthrob - Tegan & Sara
Hummingbird - Local Natives*
The Suburbs - The Arcade Fire*
Reflektor - The Arcade Fire
Vapor Trails Remixed - Rush

3 - Gamma
Lights Out - UFO
Drums & Wires - XTC
Crystal Logic - Manilla Road*

*Have digital, looking for vinyl.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Don't You Know About The Bird?

Surely everyone must be familiar, by now, with the legendary, if ridiculous, surf-rock anthem 'Surfin' Bird', by the Trashmen. Hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, the band created one of the most notorious (read: annoying) singles of all time, apparently borrowing or mashing up two singles by an R&B combo called the Rivingtons.

However, there's another song by the same group that's vastly different, and very beautiful in my opinion. Written by Ernesto Lecuona for his Suite Andalucia, 'Malagueña' has been recorded in a number of pop styles, including the following surf-style cut by the Trashmen:

It amazes me to think that the same rock group could come up with so something as goofy as 'Surfin' Bird' and still have the chops and the taste to record so wonderful a version of 'Malagueña'. That's unique. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Ab Queck Zenick Fesi

Should've thought to post this yesterday, but it turned out to be a busy May The 4th Be With You...

You're welcome, Jake.