Month: September 2011

Check It Out Blog

The Stax Legacy

The Complete Stax/Volt Singles album coverStax Records was founded in a garage in Memphis, TN in 1957. From this meager beginning, Stax would go on to conquer the R&B charts. How could they not with acts like Otis Redding, The Mar-Keys, Booker T. & the M.G.’s and Rufus & Carla? Sure they eventually went bankrupt in ’75, but through at least 1972, Stax was a major force in popular culture. “Green Onions,” “Last Night,” “Soul Man,” “These Arms of Mine,” all of these and more are on The Complete Stax/Volt Singles:  1959 – 1968. Every Stax A-side you ever wanted and every B-side you never knew existed is here for the early R&B, definitive listener.

Patty’s Pick: Mr. Bungle

Patty staff picks photoHave you ever wondered what the Beach Boys would’ve sounded like if they were into heavy metal? Do you crave spaghetti western, circus music? What about sci-fi, funk, doo wop? California, the third album by the experimental, avant-garde enthusiasts Mr. Bungle, is for you.

The Woman Behind the Art

Clara and Mr Tiffany book coverWhen you glimpse a lampshade made of stained glass, you probably associate it with Louis Tiffany.  However, what has only recently come to light is that credit for those beautiful creations actually belongs to Clara Driscoll.  It was Clara’s inspiration to construct lamps with intricate patterns of colored glass, and her employer gave her the freedom to realize her ingenuity.  In Clara and Mr. Tiffany, author Susan Vreeland invites us to cheer a freethinking pioneer of the turn of the century.  Set in a time of great social change, this story of a master craftsman who challenged the expectations of women and of artistic production will enhance your appreciation of those iconic lamps.

LISTS: Jazz Saxophone

Saxophonic album coverJazz saxophone is a broad subgenre of music that envelops everything from the calming sound of Kenny G. to the free jazz of Ornette Coleman.

Hired Murderers on Slow Horses

The Sisters Brothers book coverHerman Kermit Warm has been marked for death. The Commodore hired Eli and Charlie Sisters to kill him. The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick deWitt, is Eli’s first person account of being a hired murderer on the job in 1851. Eli and Charlie don’t know Warm’s offense and it doesn’t matter. The Commodore pays well and on time. Traveling from Oregon City to Sacramento, Eli coddles the idea of finding a woman, settling down and owning a business. Charlie scoffs at his brother’s domestic pining and revels in encounters with an oversized bear, a witch, hard frontier women, an orphan, treacherous trappers, drunken harlots and a gold rush. If you like Charles Portis’ True Grit, you’ll probably enjoy The Sisters Brothers.

Wilde Audio Fun

Importance of Being Earnest audiobook cover“All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.”  If your ears itch for fast-paced, witty dialogue and a dash of romantic intrigue, you can do no better than the L.A. Theatre Works production of The Importance of Being Earnest.  One of the most adored plays in the English language is brought to vivid life, complete with assumed names, mistaken lovers, and a misplaced handbag.  James Marsters leads a cast of nimble voice actors in the story of Jack and Algernon, who both pretend to be named Ernest in order to enjoy double lives.  Laugh out loud with the play that best showcases Oscar Wilde’s scathing humor.

LISTS: Through the Eyes of a Child

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close book coverThink about this: would To Kill A Mockingbird be as powerful a book if one of the adults had told what happened?  Perspective is an important part of storytelling, and a child’s unvarnished view can add punch and poignancy to grown-up plots.  Their struggles to understand become ours, and we are reminded of the insight of youth.

Click here for unforgettable adult books told in a young narrator’s voice.

What’s Your Dream Team?

Committed book coverOver twenty million people play fantasy football, and Mark St. Amant is one of them. In fact, he’s so obsessed that he quit his high-paying advertising gig to play fantasy football and write full-time. His book, Committed:  Confessions of a Fantasy Football Junkie, has three threads. First there is Amant’s personal story of convincing his wife that giving up a good job for fantasy football was a good idea. Then there’s the history of fantasy football, from 1962 onward. Finally, Amant gives advice and strategies for newbies to the game. His trash talking, self-deprecating banter will be sure to make you laugh out loud.