People who know me will have no trouble believing that I wrote these brief book reviews back in February. Anyway:Open Wide: How Hollywood Box Office Became a National Obsession, Dade Hayes & Jonathan Bing
I like books about the business side of Hollywood. I like books about crappy movies. This book has both. Hayes and Bing consider one opening weekend--July 4, 2003, a weekend that saw Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
, Legally Blonde 2
and the animated Sinbad
open across America. The promo junkets, photo opportunities, backroom brokering, focus-group testing and theater-owner-wooing are all explained in bemused, cynical detail. Then the movies open.
And, as it turns out, LB2
was, in terms of box office, slightly disappointing (though, if memory serves, my pal A was a fan). T3
was even more disappointing, domestically at least, though it didn't stand in the way of Arnold becoming governor of California. And Sinbad
was so disppointing that I suspect you've never even heard of it. That's what I like about nonfiction--it's hard to spoil the ending.
If you like Peter 'Easy Riders, Raging Bulls' Biskind, or Ian 'Sex, Stupidity and Greed' Grey, or Hit and Run
, or Julia 'You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again' Phillips or Robert 'The Kid Stays in the Picture' Evans, there's a good chance you'll also enjoy Open Wide
.Lads: A Memoir of Manhood, Dave Itzkoff
Itzkoff writes about his days as an editor for Maxim
. Not that good of a book. Worse, in my view, Itzkoff's efforts to paint himself as a sympathetic character are transparently unsuccessful, or perhaps unsuccessfully transparent, or maybe both. But if you're looking for behind-the-scenes reportage from the world of lame men's magazines, or perhaps if you're wondering just what the hell happened to American manhood, you haven't got a lot of choices. Well, in the latter case you could read Stiffed
(and you should), but you get my drift.Lost in the Grooves: Scram's Capricious Guide to the Music You Missed, edited by Kim Cooper and David Smay
I've revised my criteria for books about popular music. A good one should not only make me rediscover the music I already own, and hip me to new music I didn't appreciate or didn't know existed--it should also make me reconsider music I'd ignored or dismissed or whatever. By these standards, this is a good book.
Outsider music classics, underappreciated albums from well-respected artists, underappreciated albums from Dion and Dennis Wilson and whatnot... it's got it all. Mainly short essays, though there are also capsule reviews reprinted from long-forgotten rock zines, annotated lists of the high points from subgenres like wordy jazz and psychedelic soul and jokey lists like 'Top 6 Midget Songs' and 'Top 10 Non-Goth Albums that Goths Listen To.' Contributors include Peter Bagge, Brian Doherty, Richard Meltzer, Rick Moody, Jim O'Rourke, George Pelecanos and Metal Mike Saunders.
This book made me rediscover my Sweet Exorcist
and Born to Add
records. It made me want to dig up a vinyl copy of the Temptations' 1990
and the Pictures From the Gone World
poetry-jazz compilation. It made me reconsider Prince's symbol album, Klymaxx and OMD. Decent-not-great index, no TOC.
As a bonus, here's that list of psychedelic soul albums:
Funkadelic, Maggot Brain
Eddie Hazel, Games, Dames and Guitar ThingsBaby Huey and the Babysitters
Muddy Waters, Electric Mud
James "Blood" Ulmer, Blackrock
Shuggie Otis, Freedom Flight
Isley Brothers, Givin' It Back
Cymande, The Soul of RastaThe Politicians Featuring McKinley JacksonChains and Black Exhaust