Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Roundup

Happy Friday!  This will be a super-fast roundup, because I have lots to do today and very little to report. I managed to post a new Duranalysis – “Ordinary World”—on Wednesday; check it out if you haven’t already.  In commemoration of this august occasion, here’s Andy (come on, you have to admit that particular lyric is perfect for Andy), which means my series of weird Duran art is now complete. Collect them all!

Book news: My novel Bias Cut is free on Amazon today and all through the weekend. Download it, if you wish; maybe tell a friend about it. It’s a good book. Lots of banter, a bit of a mystery, a handful of glamorous locations, a smidgen of violence. Lots of champagne gets drunk. And there’s only one overt and gratuitous Duran Duran reference in it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Duranalysis: “Ordinary World”

Came in from a rainy Thursday on the avenue…

“Ordinary World” was the first single released off of Duran Duran’s 1992 self-titled album, which, because Duran Duran already had a self-titled album, is more often known as The Wedding Album. One self-titled album per band is plenty, even for Duran Duran. Here’s a splendid quote from Nick on the subject: “You know, it is NOT really called The Wedding Album, even though it is called The Wedding Album”. Thank you, Nick, that cleared the matter right up. Nick often speaks in Zen kōans peppered with bon mots, like a Vivienne Westwood-garbed Buddhist monk after a few glasses of champagne. Nick is, as always, the greatest.

The video, which was nominated for an MTV VMA in 1993 for Best Cinematography, was directed by artist Nick Egan, who also collaborated with the band on the videos for “White Lines”, “Perfect Day”, “All You Need Is Now”, and the recent “Pressure Off.” It’s a lovely video, filled with beautifully composed visuals; the only reason it’s taken me five years to get around to this Duranalysis is because it has only the barest bones of a narrative driving it. Here’s the storyline: A bride wanders around a sun-drenched garden while the band members look moody and beautiful in elegant suits. That’s pretty much it. That doesn’t give me all that much to Duranalyze, compared to, say, John is set upon by Caribbean zombies, who start tearing his clothes off, or Post-apocalyptic mutants capture the band members and force them to submit to various homoerotic bondage scenarios, or Simon blows stuff up while Andy flat-out murders Nick on the Eiffel Tower. Nevertheless, it’s an awfully nice video. Let’s see what I can do with it:

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: “The Hula Doll Affair”

At an U.N.C.L.E. test range in the middle of a desert, Illya watches while a sultry technician (softcore starlet Edy Williams, of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls fame) conducts a controlled detonation of M4, a newly-developed and highly volatile explosive material. Following the successful demonstration, the technician handcuffs a briefcase containing the formula for M4 to Illya’s wrist. I suppose the big takeaway from this scene is that the unnamed technician heaves her formidable bosom in Illya’s direction and pants heavily while making double entendres about the hot weather, thus making this one of the relatively rare erotically-charged scenes about military-grade weapons testing. Heaving bosom aside, though, I was mostly just thrilled and relieved to see U.N.C.L.E. does indeed have female scientists. Good for you, U.N.C.L.E.! You folks have been regularly getting trounced by THRUSH in the gender-equality department, so it’s nice to see you making up a little lost ground.

After thwarting a weird and doomed-to-fail attempt by THRUSH to steal the briefcase (long story short, it involved luring Illya into a phone booth and dragging it through an airport lobby), Illya and Napoleon arrive at headquarters via the secret entrance in the tailor shop. Illya grouses that the shop is looking shabby, whereupon the proprietor, Del Floria, responds that Mr. Waverly refuses to spend any money on a new paint job to spruce it up. “I bet THRUSH ain’t so cheap,” Del Floria mutters. Probably not! The horny, sadistic crackpots over at THRUSH always seem to be hemorrhaging money in all directions.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday Roundup

I have seventeen mosquito bites on my right leg alone. My clothes reek of sunblock. I’m soggy and puffy from the heat and humidity. The apartment smells like concentrated Eau du Richter. I found a roach napping in my Converse yesterday. I haven’t slept through the night since early June, and probably won’t until mid-September. My sanity slips a bit more daily. Welcome to summer, NYC-style.

My schedule has been full, so there’s no Duranalysis this week. Tons of great suggestions, though –thank you so much to everyone who has contacted me! I should be in good shape for topics through the rest of summer; now it’s just a matter of carving out time to do it. Speaking of the boys, Salon has a very nice piece up about the current tour. Has anyone caught them? They’re playing at the Apollo next week, but tickets are out of my reach at the moment, and anyway, it’s not quite the same without Nick. (As far as I know, there’s still no official explanation for Nick’s absence on the tour beyond “an urgent family matter”; having attended to a couple of those myself, it’s one of those phrases that reflexively makes me feel very, very sad. I’d say “I hope all is well”, but that seems inadequate and, worse, clueless, because whatever’s going on in his life, of course it’s not well.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: “The Super-Colossal Affair”

Ah, “The Super-Colossal Affair”. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. purists tend to loathe this episode, pointing to it as emblematic of everything that caused the show’s steep ratings decline in season three. It’s goofy, they say, overstuffed with slapstick comedy that often veers into the surreal. It’s ludicrous and silly. It’s too campy, they say.

They are correct. All of those things are true about this episode. And yet, I kind of like it. I may even love it, just a little.

Mind you, I’m not willing to stick my neck out to defend it from its many detractors. I’m not crazy. I have eyes; I can see that it’s a ridiculous mess. Even still, I’d much rather be subjected to good-natured nonsensical shenanigans than the unrelenting humorless tedium that defined season four, no question. Here’s my bold statement for the day: “The Super-Colossal Affair” is better than every single season four episode.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Friday Roundup

Happy belated Fourth of July. Those are fireworks over the East River as seen through our living room window. This was taken on June 30th, which is when my neighborhood in Queens traditionally has its big Independence Day celebration; New York City’s main fireworks display (sponsored, as all NYC holiday-themed celebrations seem to be, by Macy’s) took place a bit further down the river, around the Brooklyn/Queens border, on the correct day. It's a scheduling thing, I suppose.

I skipped the roundup last week because I was scrambling to finish that Duranalysis; you’d think that’d mean I’d have twice as much to talk about now, but that’s not the case. I don’t even have any new book giveaways this week! For the time being, Wrong City and Four Emperors are still both free at Smashwords (and pretty damn cheap at Amazon, if you’re more of a Kindle person), so I'm giving you those links again. And here’s the link to my full book list.

Anyone out there on Twitter? It’s an easy and (mostly) reliable way to get in touch with me, so if you feel so inclined, go ahead and follow me, then send me a quick message to let me know who you are; I’ll follow you back (unless: a) we are fundamentally ideologically incompatible, or b) you tweet or retweet more than, say, twenty times a day). 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: “The Yukon Affair”

Napoleon saunters down the sidewalk, scoping out the backsides of attractive women, which is something he does rather often on this show. Has anyone ever edited together a supercut of Napoleon casually ogling asses? I feel like that’s something that should exist. When he pauses to stare at a potted pear tree in a shop window, a window washer drops a large sponge on him. Napoleon dodges in time to avoid being hit by the sponge, which lands beside him with a thud and shatters the sidewalk.

At U.N.C.L.E. headquarters, Napoleon and Mr. Waverly discuss the incident. The pear tree is the calling card of Napoleon’s old nemesis, the diabolical yet gentlemanly G. Emory Partridge (George Sanders), last seen tormenting our heroes in various tawdry ways in his private dungeon in “The Gazebo in the Maze Affair”. Illya arrives, straining to push a cart bearing the object that was hidden inside the sponge: an ingot of Quadrillenium X, which, per Illya, is the heaviest and hardest material in the world, and which can generate an electromagnetic field powerful enough to render all navigational instruments useless. “Anyone who could lay his hands on a large enough supply of Quadrillenium X could control the earth and the seas!” Mr. Waverly exclaims. From this, he concludes that Partridge must be working in cahoots with THRUSH. This seems like a wildly unsubstantiated guess—after all, it could just as easily mean Partridge had a spare ingot of Quadrillenium X lying around and decided to drop it on Napoleon’s handsome noggin for kicks—but it turns out to be 100% accurate, so who am I to criticize his thought process?