books

Pop Culture Affidavit, Episode 44: Can I Skip the Book and Just Watch the Movie?

Episode 44 Website CoverIt’s literally a literary episode of Pop Culture Affidavit as Professor Alan from the Relatively Geekly Network (Shortbox Showcase, Quarter Bin Podcast) joins me to talk about books and movies; specifically, adaptation. We get into what makes a good adaptation, what makes a bad adaptation, talk about movies based on books that we love and hate, and even discuss what books we’d like to see and not see made into films (with a little tangent conversation about television).

You can get the episode via iTunes (just search for “Two True Freaks Presents Pop Culture Affidavit”) or download/listen to it directly here:  Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 44

Advertisements

Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 36: Celebrate Freedom! Read a Banned Book.

Episode 36 CoverIt’s National Banned Books Week and this time out I take a quick look at censorship, challenged and banned books, challenged and banned comics, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and why and how censorship of this sort still exists.

You can listen to the episode via iTunes at Two True Freaks Presents Pop Culture Affidavit or directly on the Two True Freaks website:  Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 36.

Here are some links and resources that I mentioned in the episode:

Banned Books Week’s Official Website

The American Library Association’s Banned Books Weeks Website

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

In Country: Marvel Comics’ “The ‘Nam” — Episode 29

IC 29 CoverOne hundred years ago, the world went to war.  After living through the war, a German soldier and writer named Erich Maria Remarque took his experiences and wrote them into a novel, All Quiet on the Western Front.  In this episode, I take a break from the Vietnam War and look back at Remarque’s World War I novel, giving it a full synopsis and review, then taking a look at two movie versions, and spending time on the poetry and songs of the First World War Era.

You can download the podcast via iTunes or listen here:  In Country, Episode 29.

Here’s some of the media (videos, songs, poetry, etc.) that I use or mention in the episode. (more…)

In Country: Marvel Comics’ “The ‘Nam” — Episode 14

The Things They CarriedAfter a year in The ‘Nam, I take a break to review and discuss Tim O’Brien’s 1990 novel, The Things They Carried, which is a seminal work in Vietnam War literature.  

You can download the episode via iTunes or listen here:  In Country Episode 14

Furthermore, here is a link to the New York Times article I reference at one point:  “A Storyteller for the War That Won’t End”

And here is the YouTube video that I referenced in the episode, which is part of a series of interviews with O’Brien …

Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 21 — A Child’s Christmas in Wales

Episode 21 CoverThis time out, I present to you Dylan Thomas’s “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” a literary selection appropriate to the season.

You can listen to the episode via iTunes or download it here:  Pop Culture Affidavit, Episode 21

And for your convenience, I have included the raw audio of Dylan Thomas’s reading:  “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”

Merry Christmas!

Amazin’ Baseball

Mazer CoverUsually when I write posts for this blog, I’ve recently read, watched, or listened to whatever I am writing about; however, I haven’t done my homework this time, choosing instead to set aside the movie I was going to write about and take a few hundred words to talk about Bill Mazer, who passed away earlier today.

Mazer, if you are unfamiliar with him, was a longtime New York sports journalist and commentator, one of the early guard of sports radio hosts, and was a mainstay on WNEW (Channel 5, now WNYW, the New York City Fox affiliate) during the 1980s, kind of the same way that George Michael was a Washington, D.C. mainstay with his “Sports Machine” highlights.  The New York Times has an excellent obituary of Mazer that I highly recommend reading, as I was struck by the extent and longevity of his career.

To be honest, I wasn’t that familiar with Mazer or his career, as I was too young to watch him on television and have only had a passing interest in sports radio (and only then it’s to listen to the occasional game).  But for the last twenty-three years I have had a signed copy of Bill Mazer’s Amazin’ Baseball Book on my bookshelf, and when I saw the obituary in the Times, I immediately pulled it off the bookshelf and will be reading it again for the first time since my Uncle Michael and Aunt Clare gave it to me for my thirteenth birthday.

The title page of my copy of Bill Mazer's Amazin' Baseball Book, signed by the author for my thirteenth birthday.

The title page of my copy of Bill Mazer’s Amazin’ Baseball Book, signed by the author for my thirteenth birthday.

As noted in my post about the 1988 Mets, when I was in the latter part of elementary school and through most of junior high school, I was a rabid baseball fan.  I’m still a huge Mets fan, but this was a time in my life when I was the encyclopedic sort of fan, the type of kid who read or watched everything about baseball that he could get his hands on and who enjoyed the most minute, trivial details about the history of the game (ironically, however, I found Ken Burns’s Baseball boring but I may give that a re-watch at some point).  Bill Mazer’s Amazin’ Baseball Book was the perfect gift, as it is both a memoir of his life and career in relation to the game along with page upon page of facts and stories about the history of the game itself.  The facts are presented in Q&A format with all sorts of tidbits, such as:

WHICH FORMER LOS ANGELES DODGER PITCHER APPEARED IN SUCH TELEVISION SHOWS AS THE LAWMAN AND THE BRADY BUNCH?

Don Drysdale.

It was questions like these (and their answers) that had me flipping back and forth through the book and poring over every page with my friend Tom in the back of his mom’s Ford Taurus on the way to Shea Stadium, and I think what’s always drawn me to shows and books about sports history, especially baseball history, even if my interest in the subject has waned from time to time, replaced with film, comic books, or whatever other part of popular culture I was obsessing over.  Mazer himself, in the introduction to his book, talks about being a fact-o-phile, a proto-Schwab, the type of guy who could rarely, if ever, be stumped.   In fact, the Times obituary sums it up perfectly:

Mr. Mazer’s boyhood idol, Van Lingle Mungo, became the title of a song by the singer, pianist and songwriter Dave Frishberg, consisting entirely of old-time ballplayers’ names. Mungo, who died in 1985, won 120 games and lost 115 with the Dodgers and the Giants, and he led the National League in strikeouts with 238 in 1936. It’s a fair guess that the Amazin’ would have known those statistics without having to look them up.

I’m a fan of experts like that, guys who have extensive knowledge and are experts on topics.  I have always liked having an answer to almost every question and even though it’s becoming a bit passe for people in my field to want to be considered “experts” on anything, I still enjoy just knowing stuff.  I’m sure my fellow sports fans and comics podcasters know exactly how I feel.

But as interesting as all of the facts, figures, and stories contained in Bill Mazer’s Amazin’ Baseball Book are, his passing also reminds me of how many of those in his generation are passing away.  Mazer grew up in Brooklyn during the golden age of the Dodgers’ tenure at Ebbets Field, an era that I’ve only read about in books or heard about in stories that older relatives, like uncles and grandfathers would tell years ago at family functions.  For my money, if I could go back to any era of baseball, it would be the late 1960s so I could see the 1969 Mets, but I remember sitting at many an extended family barbecue listening to Grandpa Panarese talk to my Uncle Brian about the Giants, the Yankees, and whatever other sports stories they had.

While I think it’s out of print, you can find used copies of Bill Mazer’s Amazin’ Baseball Book on Amazon and I recommend picking it up.  It’s truly a trip back in time, one that I’m looking forward to taking again.

Pop Culture Affidavit, Episode 13 — Hey Wait, I Wrote a Novel?

Episode 13 Cover

Turning the lens on myself, it’s been ten years since I wrote and self-published a novel entitled “Sayville.” Was it worth the money I paid to self-publish it? Is it worth the money you might pay to read it? Well, probably not. Is it worth hearing me talk about it for two hours of your time? That’s debatable.

 

But if you’re interested, you get a synopsis of the book and its characters, my reaction to reading it for the first time in a few years, and quite a bit of history as to how it came about and what went in to writing it.

You can download it via iTunes or listen here:  Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 13