FORGOTTEN BOOKS #331: NEVERWHERE By Neil Gaiman

neverwhere
This new edition of Neil Gaiman’s classic Neverwhere has the tag “Author’s Preferred Text.” In his Introduction, Neil Gaiman discusses how Neverwhere evolved from a BBC TV show to a fantasy novel with different U.S. and English editions. For the first time, this new Neverwhere presents the book Gaiman always wanted Neverwhere to be. Neverwhere is the story of Richard Mayhew, an investments analyst in London whose world changes on his way to dinner. Richard discovers a young girl who is injured and bleeding on the London sidewalks. He takes the girl, called Door, to his flat and everything changes. Two assassins show up. A bizarre character, the Marquis de Carabas, agrees to help Door. Richard tags along and finds himself in another world “under” London. This other world features magic and mysteries and adventures galore. In addition, Gaiman includes a short story, “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back” which I found delightful! Neverwhere was originally published in 1996. If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter series, you’ll love Neverwhere.

FORGOTTEN MUSIC #54: MILES DAVIS AT NEWPORT 1955-1975 [4-CD Box Set]

miles davis
I played trumpet as a kid. I wanted to grow up to play as well as Miles Davis did (but that didn’t happen). Miles Davis evolved over his long career. His music changed and morphed with highs and lows. This new box set of Miles Davis Newport Jazz Festival recordings, most unreleased until now, will give a much fuller account of the development of Miles Davis’s music. If you’re a Miles Davis fan, this is a must-buy. If you’re a casual jazz fan, there’s plenty here for you to enjoy. GRADE: A

Here’s a summary of what’s on each disc. My thanks to Stuart Jefferson on AMAZON for his opinions. I agree with everything he says.
Disc 1 begins with tracks 1-4 from 1955 with Davis playing with Zoot Sims, Gerry Mulligan, Monk, Percy Heath, and Connie Kay. Tracks 5-11 are from 1958 and feature Cannonball Adderley, Coltrane, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb. Most of this music has been issued previously, but it’s nice to hear this music in it’s proper context with Davis’ other Newport sets. This is obviously Davis’ more straight ahead jazz period which was very popular with both fans and critics alike. The music has a time-locked feel to it but has that underlying swing like the best jazz from this era.

Disc 2--tracks 1-6 are from 1966, tracks 7-13 are from 1967. The band for both sets had players like Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. This is one of Davis’ best groups who had a large hand in changing the sound of jazz. You can hear how his band is pushing against the older style of jazz, and while in the present it’s hard to understand how “new” this music sounded, some fans wondered even then if Davis had gone off the rails a bit.

Disc 3 has tracks 1-3 from the 1969 gig (there’s a fade-in on track 1 “Miles Runs The Voodoo Down”), tracks 4-9 from 1973 (from Berlin under the Newport banner), and track 10 from 1975 from N.Y. Musicians on the ’69 set include Dave Holland, Chick Corea, and Jack DeJohnette, wihile the ’73 sets include Dave Liebman, Pete Cosey, Reggie Lucas, Michael Henderson, Al Foster, and Mtume. In ’75 the band was Sam Morrison in for Liebman, and the rest of the band from the ’69-’73 bands. This is where Davis took a look around (especially at performers like Sly Stone) and funked up his music. Henderson’s deep throbbing electric bass really changed the sound of Davis’ music. Out were any recognizable melodies and in came some electro-cosmic music.

Disc 4 tracks 1-7 are from a 1971 gig in Switzerland under the Newport banner. This set is out of chronological order so it would fit uninterrupted on one disc. This gig featured Gary Bartz, Keith Jarrett, Michael Henderson, Leon Chancler, and Don Alias and Mtume. Percussion heavy electric-funk/space music with Henderson’s mighty bass and Bartz blowing both soprano and alto sax, along with Jarrett’s electric piano made the audience sit up and wonder where they were. Again, in hindsight it’s difficult to understand what all the fuss was really about. But by this time many of Davis’ long time fans had already dropped by the wayside–more comfortable with more recognizable melodies that stayed in your head.

The 34 page booklet has individual essays on Davis’ Newport appearances by noted jazz writer Ashley Kahn, along with photographs from each period. There’s also a poster of a b&w photo (approximately 14″ X 18″) of Davis from early in his career. The discs snap (beware mine were really difficult to unsnap out of the trays) inside a five-fold cardboard package. Inside each disc tray is a different b&w photo from the Newport festival–a nice (and cool looking) touch. The overall period sound is good/very good–especially considering when some of these tapes were made under live conditions. Original sources include Voice of America (Disc 1), Sony analog tapes (Discs 1,3), the producer’s collection (Discs 2,3), and analog tapes courtesy of SRF Switzerland (Disc 4).
TRACK LIST
Disc: 1
1. Spoken Introductions by Duke Ellington and Gerry Mulligan
2. Hackensack
3. ‘Round Midnight (previously released)
4. Now’s The Time
5. Spoken Introduction by Willis Conover (previously released)
6. Ah-Leu-Cha (previously released)
7. Straight, No Chaser (previously released)
8. Fran-Dance (previously released)
9. Two Bass Hit (previously released)
10. Bye Bye Blackbird (previously released)
11. The Theme (previously released)
Disc: 2
1. Gingerbread Boy
2. All Blues
3. Stella By Starlight
4. R.J.
5. Seven Steps To Heaven
6. The Theme / Closing Announcement by Leonard Feather.
7. Spoken Introduction by Del Shields
8. Gingerbread Boy
9. Footprints
10. ‘Round Midnight
11. So What
12. The Theme
13. Closing Announcement by Del Shields
Disc: 3
1. Miles Runs The Voodoo Down (previously released)
2. Sanctuary (previously released)
3. It’s About That Time / The Theme (previously released)
4. Band warming up / voice over introduction
5. Turnaroundphrase
6. Tune In 5
7. Ife
8. Untitled Original
9. Tune In 5
10. Mtume
Disc: 4
1. Directions
2. What I Say
3. Sanctuary
4. It’s About That Time
5. Bitches Brew
6. Funky Tonk
7. Sanctuary

DOWNTON ABBEY: SEASONS 1-3 BOX SET [Blu-ray]

downton abbey box set
AMAZON made me a deal I couldn’t refuse: the first three season of Downton Abbey in a Blu-ray box set for $25. I’ve seen this box set at BEST BUY and TARGET for $50. I couldn’t resist this offer even though I suspect AMAZON is using some sort of algorithm to get me to buy this. All I know is that $25 for three seasons of Downton Abbey is a bargain!

POLICE SQUAD! THE COMPLETE SERIES

POLICE SQUAD
“There are 8 million stories in the Naked City. Here are six.” That’s the blurb on the hilarious DVD of Police Squad!. These are the same folks who gave us Airplane! and The Naked Gun series: David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, and Jim Abrahams.n I love Leslie Nielsen as Detective Frank Drebin. Special Features include an interview with Leslie Nielson, a gag reel, and commentary on the six episodes in this package. I bought this DVD (150 minutes) for $6.99 at BJ’s Warehouse. Worth every penny! GRADE: A

THE CARTEL By Don Winslow

the cartel
The Cartel is the sequel to Don Winslow’s The Power of the Dog (2005). Both books show how the Mexican Drug cartels work. The body count is high. The drug lords are paranoid psychopaths who would rather shoot than act rationally. Treachery, violence, and fear appear on every page of these books. DEA agent Art Keller is Winslow’s Everyman. He tries his best to dismantle the cartels that ship billions of dollars of cocaine, crystal meth, heroin, and marijuana into the United States. But for every success Keller achieves, the insatiable demand for drugs in the U.S. causes new cartels to form. After reading over 1,000 pages of double-dealing and betrayals, I’m drug carteled out. But, if you want to understand why we’re losing the War on Drugs, Don Winslow’s grim novels will provide the answers. GRADE: B+

PAPER TOWNS By John Green

paper towns
paper towns soundtrack
I read John Green’s Paper Towns and saw the new movie based on it. Both are entertaining. Paper Towns tells the story of Quentin “Q” Jacobsen (Nat Wolff), a senior in high school who is in love with Margo Roth Spiegelman (played by British super-model Cara Delevingne). After a night of hijinks with Margo, Quentin thinks he’s finally close to the love of his life. But Margo disappears. Quentin cleverly follows the clues Margo leaves and decides to act on his impulses for the first time in his life. Any guy who’s had a crush on a girl will relate to this book and movie. The movie follows the book very closely. If you’re in the mood for a Young Adult coming of age story, both the book and the movie deliver. And the soundtrack’s pretty good, too. GRADE: B (for both)
paper towns poster

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #330: The Archer Files: The Complete Short Stories of Lew Archer, Private Investigator By Ross Macdonald & Edited by Tom Nolan

archer files
Black Lizard just published The Archer Files: The Complete Short Stories of Lew Archer, Private Investigator. Many of you may own the Crippen & Landru edition (2007) of this book. This paperback version–592 pages–is a bargain for the price (AMAZON is selling it for $12.18). I’m more of a fan of the Lew Archer novels, but these short stories hold up well.

The Archer Files collects the stories from Macdonald’s 1955 paperback-original The Name Is Archer, the stories included in the Otto Penzler-edited 1977 volume Lew Archer: Private Investigator, and the three novellas presented in Crippen & Landru’s 2001 book Strangers in Town. The short stories in this volume provide a broad perspective on the development of Ross Macdonald as a writer. Nolan adds 13 “case notes” that provide additional insights in Macdonald’s writing process. Well worth reading!
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
“Archer in Memory”–A Biographical Sketch by Tom Nolan
THE ARCHER FILES
Find the woman
Death by water
The bearded lady
Strangers in town
Gone girl
The sinister habit
The suicide
Guilt-edged blonde
Wild goose chase
The angry man
Midnight blue
Sleeping dog
CASE NOTES:
Preface to the Case Notes
The 13th day
Heyday in the blood
Lady killer
Little woman
The Strome tragedy
Stolen woman
Death mask
Change of venue
Do your own time
Count of Montevista
100 pesos
We Went On from There
Trial
Winnipeg, 1929

Sources

Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald & WHAT THERE IS TO SAY WE HAVE SAID: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and William Maxwell

ross macdonald
eudora welty
Letter writing is a dying art. When was the last time you actually wrote a letter (and mailed it–not emailed it)? The last letters I remember writing were to Bob Napier when he was editing MYSTERY & DETECTIVE MONTHLY, the late lamented letterzine. But that was over a decade ago. I read Meanwhile There Are Letters because I’m a fan of both Ross Macdonald and Eudora Welty. Their wit and intelligence shows on every page of this book. The topics vary, but I was most interested in Macdonald’s thoughts about writing detective fiction. Welty’s pithy comments led to read the other collection of her letters, this time with William Maxwell, her editor at The New Yorker. Maxwell and Welty discuss James Thurber, Katherine Anne Porter, J. D. Salinger, Isak Dinesen, William Faulkner, John Updike, Virginia Woolf, Walker Percy, For Madox Ford, John Cheever, and more writers. Just as letter writing is a Lost Art, letter reading is in danger of fading away, too. But, before it does you might want to indulge in reading these wonderful letters. GRADE: A

POPULAR ECONOMICS: WHAT THE ROLLING STONES, DOWNTON ABBEY, AND LEBON JAMES CAN TEACH YOU ABOUT ECONOMICS By John Tamny

popular economics
While the ongoing Greek financial crisis lurches toward another ineffectual bailout and China’s stock market bubble threatens to pop, I’m struck by the economic ignorance of politicians everywhere. The European Union is fatally flawed because a common currency–the euro–needs a centralized budget entity. But none of the EU countries wan to give up their financial power. Our economy is still struggling because politicians refuse to fund bills that would fix our roads and bridges (and create jobs) because of politics not economics. If politicians just read Popular Economics they’d have a much better idea of how the Economy works. If you want to understand what’s happening in the financial markets and how the world really works, start here. GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
FOREWORD By Steve Forbes
INTRODUCTION
PART I: TAXES
1. Taxes are Nothing More than a Price Placed on Work
2. When We Tax Corporations, We Rob Them of Their Future
3. Government Spending Did Not Create the Internet, and Has Never Created a Job
4. It’s the Spending, Stupid: Budget Deficits Really Don’t Matter
5. Capital Gains Are the Elusive Jackpot That Drive Innovation
6. The Best Way to Spread the Wealth Around is to Abolish the Estate Tax
7. Wealth Inequality is Beautiful
8. Savers Are an Economy’s Most Valuable Benefactors
9. Job Creation Requires Perpetual Job Destruction
10. Conclusion: Bulldoze the U.S. Tax
PART II: REGULATION
11. Appalachian State Almost Never Beats Michigan, and Government Regulation Almost Never Works
12. Antitrust Laws: The Neutering of the Near-Term Excellent
13. Conclusion: Don’t Dismiss College Dropouts Delivering Alternative Weeklies
PART III: TRADE
14. “Trade Deficits” Are Our Rewards for Going to Work Each Day
15. Comparative Advantage: Could LeBron James Play in the NFL?
16. “Outsourcing” is Great for Workers, and as Old as the Pencil
17. “Energy Independence” Would be Economically Crippling: “Global Warming” is a Crippling Theory
18. Conclusion: Free Trade is the Path to Knowledge, Liberty, World Peace, and Big Raises
Part IV: MONEY
19. A Floating Foot, Minute, and Second Would Give You Ugly Houses, Burnt Wings, and Slow NFL Draft Picks
20. Do Not Be Fooled by Rising and Falling Computer, Flat Screen, and VHS Prices: They Are Not an Inflation or Deflation Signal
21. True Inflation is Currency Devaluation, and It is a Cruel Blast to the Past
22. If they Tell You They Predicted the “Financial Crisis,” They’re Lying
23. Conclusion: “Do-Nothing” Politicians Deserve a Special Place in Heaven
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
NOTES
INDEX