Friday Music

I’ve been meaning to post more to the new blog, but I’ve been busy as hell in the past week (finishing up ICONS, getting ready to launch FAR WEST, plus initial steps towards the ePulp thing I talked about last week, as well as the usual day-to-day stuff of handling Adamant), so I fell down in that regard.

Here we go with another Friday Music entry for you, though. Good stuff this week.

First up — posted a link to the brand new video via Twitter earlier this week, and so I had to track down an mp3. Really great stuff — brand new track from UK hip-hop act Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip – “Sick Tonight.”

Credit where credit is due — my oldest daughter introduced me to this track, and my younger daughter reminded me to post about it. An English synthpop duo who lists their influences as Yazoo, Erasure, and other 80s acts? Yes, please! La Roux – “Bulletproof.”

Speaking of the 80s, this song will forever remind me of summers on Long Island, listening to WBAB 102.3. This particular track has one of the best guitar hooks in the history of EVER, incidentally. Billy Squier – “Everybody Wants You.”

Sticking with the 80s — one of my last favorite songs of the decade, released in 89 during the cusp from “college rock” to “alternative.” The Ocean Blue – “Between Something & Nothing.”

We’ll go back even further for this one — stuff I was listening to in the 80s, though — some first-wave Ska from the 1960s, recorded by former members of The Skatalites. A ska instrumental version of a James Bond title song: Jackie Mittoo and the Soul Brothers – “From Russia With Love.”

I was introduced to this San Francisco-based funk-disco-synth band this week. I get a real Duran Duran vibe off them at times. Sugar & Gold – “Feels Like Fire.”

…and lastly, in honor of the forthcoming FAR WEST: The english version of Luis Bacalov’s classic theme. Luis Bacalov – “Django.”

Enjoy, kids.


I was a bookish child and adolescent.

A large part of my near-constant diet of reading were “trash paperbacks” — the last gasp of the pulps. The pulps of the 30s and 40s morphed in the post-WW2 years into the Men’s Adventure magazine, but gradually those magazines evolved into skin mags with the loosening of decency laws, and the pulp jumped into another format: The paperback.

The pulp paperback was the realm of hardboiled detectives, action heroes, horror, fantasy and science fiction — a lot of it, initially, reprinted from the classic pulps, alongside a wave of original content. Much of this was never published in the more “respectable” hardcover format — the pulp fiction paperback was disposable entertainment. In many ways, they were like comic books for grown-ups.

Through the 1960s and into the 1980s, the pulp paperback was found in every drug store, grocery, stationery store and newsstand — a spinner rack of cheap entertainment. A lot of it was pretty bad (pretty much just like the pulps — let’s be honest), but some of it was good. All of it was fun. It was in these pages that I first encountered Doc Savage and The Shadow, first thrilled to the adventures of Modesty Blaise, and more.

Unfortunately, as time went on, paper costs rose and publishing became much more expensive — perhaps too expensive to “waste money” on disposable fare. The pulp fiction paperback essentially died out. (Some might argue that today’s genre paperbacks are the successor, but I’d disagree — those are not really the same thing. For one thing, publishers charge a comparatively hefty price for them. Some of the serial, “disposable” lines still exist, but it’s nowhere near as ubiquitous as it once was.

Recently, I’ve been reading J.A. Konrath’s blog, where he talks about his success in the electronic publishing market (specifically for the Amazon Kindle). He writes thrillers, and contrary to the trend among publishers, he prices his releases as impulse buys — often less than $2.00 each. Many of his releases hit the genre best-seller lists for the Kindle, driven by the convenience and the pricing.

It got me thinking.

I’ve spent 6 years now in the electronic publishing field. I’ve learned a lot. Most of what I’ve learned, I’ve put into practice. Some things, however, I’m still too much of a coward to try full-time. For example: twice per year, in November and March, I hold one-week sales on the products that I release through Adamant Entertainment. I drop the prices of every PDF in our entire catalog to $1.00…. and here’s the thing: I make more in those two week-long sales than I do in 4 months of regular sales.

It’s something I’ve considered doing full-time — but it scares me. One, I’m worried that the phenomenal results of those sales are because of the narrow window, and that making it a constant would negate those results. Two (and this is the big one): If I’m wrong, I could end up not only killing my own income, but also devaluing the entire PDF segment of the RPG industry, killing other folks’ incomes as well. So I shy away from it, and stick to the two sales per year model.

And yet….

It occurs to me that Konrath’s experience could be combined with what I’ve seen in the past half-decade-plus of electronic publishing. Impulse-priced adventure entertainment. The return of the pulp fiction paperback, reborn for the digital age.

Adventure fiction, thrilling tales (ahem), easily purchased, easily downloadable. Hitting the quick-reading sweet spot: somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 to 80K words — perfect for the EPUB format… and most importantly, priced to move. A novel for the same price as a monthly comic book.

It’s worth trying, I think.

Friday Music

I’m prepping a big post on pulp fiction ePublishing for later this afternoon, but I figured that first I’d post a Friday Music entry.

For readers new to this blog: Friday Music is a semi-weekly series that I’ve been posting since February 2005, where I present mp3 links that I’ve found on the internet, pointing out songs that I especially like. Sometimes it’s new music, sometimes it’s old. I usually have comments about each track. Think of it as an Internet Mixtape — If you find something you like, go on out and buy it.

This week:

Started watching HBO’s new series Treme, and I’m hooked. Of course, it’s by the creators of The Wire, and I’d watch them produce a game show. The music of New Orleans takes front and center in the show (as you’d expect), but it’s not the same stereotypical stuff that you hear over and over again (they’ve had characters blast the tendency toward “Iko Iko” and “When the Saints Go Marching In”, in-character). For example, the first episode features the following track by New Orleans native Louis Prima, played over a montage of life in the city: Louis Prima – “Buona Sera.”

Saw Kick-Ass over the last weekend, and enjoyed it. I would’ve preferred that the movie concentrate on Hit Girl and Big Daddy, since it’s their goals which drive the plot — the main character just sort of wanders through it. The best musical sequences in the film take place during their watch as well.

For example, the following track played beneath one of Hit Girl’s beautifully-if-ridiculously-choreographed HK-style ballets of carnage: Joan Jett – “Bad Reputation.”

And in a nice bit of postmodern sampling, the following snippet of the score to 28 Days Later is used as accompaniment to Big Daddy relentlessly working his way through a warehouse full of Mobsters: John Murphy – “In The House, In A Heartbeat.” Good stuff.

Completely shifting gears: I love Rufus Wainwright more than any straight man should. He’s got a new album, All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu, which feature his increasingly “chamber pop” style of singer-songwriter performance. I’m loving the track that his label has sent out to a few blogs: Rufus Wainwright – “Who Are You New York?”

Sometimes, you just need a little bit of Danzig, as a palate-cleanser. This is from his brilliant “Jim Morrison Resurrected As A Satantic Blues Singer” debut album, before he slipped into bad imitation of Nine Inch Nails and wallowed in self-parody. Danzig – “Am I Demon.”

This track remains, in my opinion, the best thing Ben Folds has ever done. With a cheeky tweak of the nose of the alternative scene (I still laugh at the disco-themed “It’s Industrial – Work It!” lyric) and topped off by some ridiculously proficient piano jazz at it closes, it hooked me instantly back when I first heard it. Ben Folds Five – “Underground.”

Got tickets for Muse in November. Looking very much forward to it — but a few minutes after purchase, I heard this song and thought about how amazing a Muse cover would be. They could KILL this: Cream – “I Feel Free.”

Lastly, an oldie — hearing “Buona Sera” put me in the mind of mobster movies, and this one was used to good effect to set an era in Goodfellas: The Cadillacs – “Speedo.”

There ya go, kids. Enjoy.

Back this afternoon.