Nota Bene: The Prince Edition

The September 2017 edition of The Journal of African American Studies was devoted entirely to the study of one artist: Prince.

According to the editors:

It is our hope that this special issue will inspire readers to access previously untapped reservoirs of creativity, help reorient the thinking of those who endeavor to pursue similar ventures that place Prince at the center of analysis, as well as prompt scholars to devise nuanced and unconventional ways to probe, study, and analyze an artist whose persona and life’s work defied convention…

In Memorium: Grant Hart (1961-2017)

From Bob Mould’s Facebook page today, on the sad passing of Grant Hart, the brilliant drummer and co-lyricist for Hüsker Dü and ringleader of the great but underrated Nova Mob:

It was the Fall of 1978. I was attending Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. One block from my dormitory was a tiny store called Cheapo Records. There was a PA system set up near the front door blaring punk rock. I went inside and ended up hanging out with the only person in the shop. His name was Grant Hart.

And now, probably Grant’s greatest song (make sure to play on repeat):

Shameless Self-Promotion: ‘Monty Python FAQ’

Have you any inkling what this T-shirt refers to?

Did you ever hop around on one foot while shouting, “’tis but a flesh wound!”?

Can you sing “The Philosopher’s Song” without referring to notes?

Was there a point during the United Kingdom’s recent snap election where you wondered whether there should have been a candidate from the Very Silly Party?

If you answered “yes” or asked “what’s all this, then?!” then it’s about 583% likely that Monty Python FAQ is the book for you!

Scribbled down in crayon by yours truly and his boon companions Brian Cogan and Jeff Massey, and then lovingly transcribed into proper book form by the dedicated editors at Applause Books, Monty Python FAQ is just about everything you ever wanted to know about the Python boys. That includes:

  • Words! Pictures! Lots of ’em.
  • An exegesis of every single Monty Python’s Flying Circus episode.
  • More than one could ever want or need to know about fish-slapping.
  • The deep, dark secret behind the one American Python, who hailed from the mystical, faraway land of … Minnesota.
  • Exploding penguins, dead budgies, Grannies from Hell … you get the picture.

It’s on sale now. Here. And hereAnd here. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

And now … this:

Reader’s Corner: ‘Talking Pictures’

The new book, Talking Pictures, from Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday, is in stores now and it’s a fantastic read.

My review is at PopMatters:

… even though the water-cooler factor of all this frantic locking of eyeballs to screens is at an all-time high, nobody is really talking about it much beyond “wasn’t that funny?” or “did you see that coming?” It’s almost as though people just don’t have the time or tools for talking about what they’re watching. That’s one of many factors that makes Ann Hornaday’s Talking Pictures such a vital book for this moment.

Reader’s Corner: ‘Shake it Up’

As part of the Library of America’s attempt to reach beyond their authoritative bind-ups of great American writers, here comes Shake It Up: Great American Writing on Rock and Pop from Elvis to Jay Z, edited by Jonathan Lethem and Kevin Dettmar.

It’s in stores now and a necessary addition to your bookshelf. My review is at PopMatters:

…stuffed with everyone from Robert Christgau to Nick Tosches and Nelson George, this anthology is like some steam-powered hurdy-gurdy of sound and vision. In these gnarled curlicues of theoretical musings, cool-handed thematic unpackings, freakout rave-ups, and widescreen snapshots of postwar America’s sonic landscapes, this is a book that will remind you of just about everything you love about music.

Eyes Wide Open 2016: The Best

americanhoney1
‘American Honey,’ #3 on the list of year’s best (A24)

So now that it’s January, time to get working on all those films you meant to see over the holidays but never quite got around to. Not sure what to see first? Check out this list of the 25 best films of 2016, published over at Eyes Wide Open.

It’s broken down into three parts: here, here, and here.

oj1There’s something there for pretty much everybody, from great dramas like Manchester by the Sea and Denzel Washington’s Fences to screwball comedies (Maggie’s Plan), boundary-pushing indies (The Childhood of a Leader, American Honey) and gripping documentaries on race and history (Command and Control, 13th, I Am Not Your Negro).

What was the best film of the year? There’s no way to be that reductive about it, of course. But for historical sweep, attention to detail, and drama, the sprawling epic OJ: Made in America is hard to beat, making that number one. But the other 24 are no slouches, either.

And for the gluttons for punishment among, there’s always the worst of the year here. Yes, that list includes Deadpool.