This Sporting Life
I seem to discover a great British movie from the 1960's nearly every week. There are new gems being re-issued all the time. This one, from 1963, features an amazing Richard Harris as Frank Machin, a Rugby player trying to come to terms with the violence that surrounds him both on the field and in his psyche. He falls hard in love with his incredibly repressed, widowed landlady, played by Rachel Roberts, who steadfastly refuses to attempt happiness a second time. This refusal, as well as his realization of his exploitation at the hands of his Rugby teams owners, drives a once optimistic Machin into an abyss of self-destruction and violence. The black and white photography adds to the bleak and dismal tone of the film but also helps to convey the films reflection of the time. The slow motion close-ups of the savagery taking place on the Rugby field are simply stunning. I bet they are even more so when seen on the big screen. If you are a fan of escapist blockbuster movies, you want to pass this one by but for those who have an interest in 20th century post-war Britain, this is one you won't want to miss.
July 2008 Archives
This Sporting Life
Foyle's War (Series I-IV)
Foyle's War is an engaging series originally aired on PBS Masterpiece Theatre (Mystery) which mixes stories of WWII Britain with tales of crime and suspense. Set along the south coast of Britain, the series chronicles the lives of Detective Superintendent Christopher Foyle and his colleagues as they confront everything from sabotage to biological warfare, murder to stolen supplies. DCS Foyle is a quiet, introspective policeman with a dedication to solving complex crimes. He is joined in the series by a spirited young woman driver, a son who has enlisted in the RAF, and a police sergeant just back from the front...and it is these main characters that provide the winning human drama of the series. Michael Kitchen stars as DCS Foyle and Samantha Stewart as Honeysuckle Weeks. Season V, consisting of three episodes, will air on PBS on Sunday evenings starting on July 13, 2008.
Vincent Price gives an uncharacteristically (for him) underplayed, excellent performance as 17th century "witch hunter" Matthew Hopkins, who during the English Civil War, roamed the British countryside hunting down so-called witches. Director Michael Reeves' 1968 film was unjustly overlooked when first released but this unsettling dark, violent and horrific thriller pulls no punches in its depiction of Hopkins' terrifying torture of citizens and his extorting of villages. The downbeat ending will stay with you long after the movie ends. With Ian Ogilvy and Hilary Dwyer. Color.
Paradise and Lunch, Ry Cooder
Ry Cooder was on a roll throughout the Seventies; releasing critically acclaimed albums such as Into the Purple Valley, Boomer's Story, Chicken Skin Music and the very first digitally recorded LP, 1979's Bop Till You Drop. My favorite record of this fertile period, however, is Paradise and Lunch, which appeared in 1974. Cooder's choice of material at this stage of his career was already quite eclectic, but perhaps not so exotic sounding to his primary audience as the Norteno, Hawaiian slack-keyed guitar, or Bix Beiderbecke selections which would characterize later works. With the exception of "Tattler", a gem, co-authored by Cooder, all songs on PaL are covers and all are redolent of an imaginary American past where R&B, Pop, Jazz, Blues, Gospel and Traditional styles had coalesced into a single quirky idiom. Throughout the disc, the utterly distinctive drumming of "Snakey" Jim Keltner is a constant and is the perfect compliment to Cooder's scraggly vocals. As always, RC's guitar playing is a miracle of concise soulfulness.
10,000 Days, Tool
Two years old now but no less impressive than when it first appeared, Tool's most recent masterpiece remains one of my favorite albums of all time. The name, according to lead singer Maynard James Keenan, is a reference to the length of time that his mother spent paralyzed in a wheelchair after she suffered a stroke (27 years). The two centerpieces of the album in my opinion are "Wings for Marie (Part 1)" and "10,000 Days (Wings Part 2)", which are both named for her and flow together as one song (though the first track, "Vicarious", received the most airplay and the best reviews). The album features the "usual" Tool stylings which include scorching and lightning-fast guitar harmonies, high precision drumming by drummer Danny Carey (who also triggered all the sound effects on the album using a drum machine called a Mandala), and Maynard's poignant and often scathing lyrics. During their 2002 tour the band premiered "Wings for Marie (Part 1)" instrumentally and as a sort of funeral rite and honorarium for the singer's dying mother, ending the song with the sound of a coffin closing. For those unfamiliar with Tool, this may seem a bit morbid. However, for those that know and love the band (and in my experience fans are rabid, no lukewarm feelings there), the various allusions to family bonds and spiritual, shamanic and archetypal themes are many and varied. Truly, the album hearkens back to the earlier Undertow (mixed by the same sound engineer) in its tone, though not in its depth; 10,000 Days is the more spiritually developed and adult version. The second track, "Jambi", includes references to the province in Sumatra that was once part of Melayu Kingdom - which was led by a powerful and opulent sultan - and offers a colorful criticism of power and wealth in past and modern cultures. The song "Lipan Conjuring" references the Lipan Apache tribe and showcases the band members singing and chanting in haunting, indigenous tones that they make all their own. "Rosetta Stoned" is a play on the famous tablet that allowed Egyptologists to first decipher hieroglyphs, and "Intension" is a further play on words alluding to "intention," a foundational concept to Shamanic and spiritual work in general, "intension" in evolution which can refer to interbreeding, or simply the idea of "intensification." The last track, "Vigniti Tres", is Latin for the number 23, traditionally a mystical prime number and the source of much rumination in the recent (and not very impressive) Jim Carrey movie. You can see where I'm going with this: Tool offers listeners mysterious lyrics that reference ancient cultures and ancient concepts while offering a possible re-mystifyication of our modern, left-brained culture in a hard-rock, artistic way. And now for the best part - the album artwork, which received a Grammy Award. Alex Grey of Chapel of Sacred Mirrors fame was brought back for the bulk of the design work (he designed the majority of the earlier Lateralus) and the album features an interactive jacket which comes complete with stereoscopic lenses and about 20 individual pieces of art that can be viewed so as to appear three-dimensional. Novel in concept, masterful in exhibition and rife with symbolic meaning, the cover of 10,000 Days' can provide many hours of entertainment. The actual face of the jacket is decorated with a face that logarithmically spirals in on itself, taken from Grey's earlier painting titled "Collective Vision". The band has always been one to tease its listeners with half-hidden meanings and shaded references and this is certainly true here. Portraits of the band members holding sacred objects and surrounded by animals, birds and other artifacts are interwoven with Alex Grey's visionary and beautiful paintings, creating a mysterious counterpoint to the music itself. A complete work of art, and in my opinion a masterpiece.
Like their contemporaries Air and Daft Punk, French trio M83 are not shy about mining the recent past for musical inspiration. Their third proper album, Saturdays=Youth wears it's love of late 80's UK postpunk on it's sleeve and is all the better for it. The group had already developed a solid retro-dreampop/shoegazer sound on their previous outings using layered washes of synthesizers and vintage electronics tapered by masses of guitar effects. With Saturdays=Youth they have managed to balance a newfound level of songcraft with this soundscape work. Tracks like the Cocteau Twins-aping "Kim & Jessie" and tongue-in-cheek Cure tribute "Graveyard Girl" both beg to be singles, while "Up!" name checks Kate Bush's classic "Hounds Of Love" within it's lyrics and vocal work. Yet, M83 have not abandoned their hazy and opaque dreampop roots, and the final quartet of tracks on the disc provides a welcome aural overload. Those with a dislike of noise and volume may want to shy away at this point as M83 do their best to put every input on their mixing board into the red. In particular, finale "Midnight Souls" ends the disc on a high point with twelve minutes of escalating ebb and flow that will ring in your ears long after the music is over. By striking out into newer, unfamiliar territory on Saturdays=Youth, M83 have managed to avoid becoming pigeonholed as shoegaze-revivalists and move forward with relative ease.
Dig Lazarus, Dig!!!, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
After several years on hiatus Nick Cave has once again assembled his stellar backing band, the Bad Seeds and it's a beautiful thing. Cave, who recently turned 50, proves that one doesn't necessarily mellow with age. He's managed to navigate currents that have done so many aging rockers in. This is the Bad Seed's most frantic and aggressive record in quite some time. The guitars sound fuller, and genius Bad Seed Warren Ellis is all over these songs, filling them out with screeching violas and something listed in the credits as a Fender Mandocaster. The subject matter of the songs is classic Nick Cave. "We Call Upon the Author" pokes fun at second-rate writers, God and, just maybe, himself. The title track updates the story of Lazarus by making the story contemporary, renaming Lazarus "Larry" and sticking him in New York City. In interviews, Cave has described this record as "a hemorrhaging of words and ideas," All of Cave's albums aim to unsettle, but rarely have he and the Bad Seeds managed to do it so efficiently, so gracefully, or so forcefully.
Piano Works, Beata Moon
I have played this recording, by Korean/American composer Beata Moon, more than any other in recent weeks. Ms. Moon has crafted several engaging pieces for solo piano which sound thoroughly modern, yet accessible; each of which exhibit her own consistently distinctive compositional voice. This voice comprises very occasional touches of pop music juxtaposed with a more astringent harmonic palate and some outright gorgeous Ned Rorem-like passages, plus a whole passel of less easily identified influences. Debussy for the 21st Century? For some interesting biographical information, click here.
Oh, My Girl, Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter
In this earlier album, Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter hit the musical nail on the head, perhaps for the first time in their burgeoning career. Languorous, sensual, lovelorn and beautiful are four adjectives that struck me upon first hearing this wonder of a disc; with each successive listening the breadth and depth of Sykes' lyrics, composition and delivery amazed me more and more. And now, after over 100 auscultations, I've decided to promote it to one of the top ten albums in my music library, right up there with the more recent Like, Love, Lust and the Open Halls of the Soul. There is something mysterious, sad, yet incredibly hopeful in Jesse Sykes' music: it is this strange something that does not disappoint the listener, this something that keeps one glued to the stereo track by track, wondering what's next. Sykes has an almost Beatles-esque ability to build a theme and a mood throughout the entire album and end it on a high note. This is a blue mood, from the gorgeous opening title track to the grand finale, "Grow a New Heart." She and the band take us on a tour of the secret, tender and bruised spots of the heart while illuminating the dark corners that all lovers share. Simple but poignant lyrics, amazing backing by the Sweet Hereafter and straightforward sound production result in a true gem, but be forewarned: this is love music. Sharing this CD with a member of the opposite sex may result in amorous entanglements.
War Journal: My Five Years in Iraq,
by Richard Engel
This addition to the ever-growing number of books about the Iraq war provides the reader with a front row seat to the horrors of the war as it unfolded. Engel, the NBC News Middle East Bureau Chief, uses his keen reporter's eye to describe the military action as well as the human dramas that were created as the fighting spread across Iraq. One of his moving descriptions of the brutality of the fighting involves the heart-breaking scene of a gravely injured American soldier who sheds a tear as he accepts the reality of his injury. Fluent in Arabic, he interviewed the main Iraqi figures as well as the Americans who were leading the US forces. His conversation with President George W. Bush is very interesting reading. War Journal is highly, highly recommended for those readers who want to learn about the Iraq war from an extremely knowledgeable source and one who can write an enormously readable and moving book.
Don't Fill up on the Antipasto,
by Tony Danza; with Marc Danza
Don't Fill up on the Antipasto is a father and son cookbook by actor Tony Danza and his son Marc. The book is filled with 50 of their favorite easy to prepare recipes, along with favorite quotes and warm memories of an Italian-American family growing up in NY. In the Danza family, the men do all of the cooking, and they do it with gusto. The recipes are authentic, and have been have handed down through the generations. Featured recipes are divided into First Courses, Salads, Soups, Pizzas, Pasta, Main Courses and Desserts. My personal favorite recipes from the book include the Sunday Sauce with meatballs, the Lasagna, and of course, the Holiday Antipasto. Several of these recipes will make their way into my personal recipe box!
My Boring Ass Life: The Uncomfortably Candid Diary of Kevin Smith,
by Kevin Smith
I highly recommend this book on many levels. If you miss your potty mouthed five-year old or your sex obsessed teenager, you will be right at home. If you have ever wondered what it would be like to create a classic film Clerks your first time out of the gate or what it is like to be Silent Bob, Silent Bob Speaks, or what it is like to act in a feature film when you doubt your talent and are sensitive about your weight, Catch and Release, then this is the book for you. I came away from this diary with increasing admiration for Kevin's talent, determination, devotion to his fans and his kindness to friends and family. Reading this book word for word over several weeks gave me an insight into the work and the risk and sacrifice that goes into creating a little media empire of clerks, mallrats and superheroes from the films to the comics to the web site to the conventions and personal appearances. It was a revelation to watch Kevin reach out beyond his comfort zone with the film Jersey Girl, a movie I always thought unfairly tainted by the "Bennifer" effect. It is addicting to follow Kevin's askew world through his web site View Askew Productions and to never know where this surprising film-maker will take you.
Leisureville: Adventures in America's Retirement Utopias,
by Andrew Blechman
Leisureville is a golf cart seat view of life in the age restricted retirement community of "The Villages" in Florida. Blechman is invited by his former neighbors from New England to see first hand the utopia lifestyle they are now leading in their new bungalow at The Villages. Blechman is intrigued to see how his former neighbors, who were so active in their small northern town have adjusted to a life of leisure. The book is a mesmerizing look at the type of communities that are springing up all over the country to accomodate the wave of retirees looking to trade the problems of the world for days of sun, endless golf and restaurant hopping. This is a fascinating, engaging and humorous book that is fun to read.
What Would Audrey Do? Timeless Lessons for Living with Grace and Style,
by Pamela Keogh
What Would Audrey Do? is a delightful look into the life of Audrey Hepburn, while giving practical advice to the reader. The book includes biographical information and anecdotes about Audrey Hepburn, along with terrific advice on style, dating, décor and other tips for modern woman of all ages. The book is a great beach read, but also has common sense and substance. I have always adored Audrey Hepburn, and I am sure fans of all ages will enjoy it.
The Complete Guitarist,
by Richard Chapman
Another great book for the guitar player is The Complete Guitarist by Richard Chapman. Guitar great Les Paul wrote the very insightful introduction. Although it is somewhat "old", it's so well written that its quality has helped it stand the test of time. It, too, discusses the history and styles of guitar. It complements other books of its kind because it expands on music theory and chord combinations. Advanced techniques and recording are also discussed. The beautiful color graphics alone are worth the perusal. It has a very useful glossary in the back. I liked the book so much, I bought a copy myself!
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Playing the Guitar,
by Frederick M. Goad
Don't take the title too seriously because The Complete Idiot's Guide to Playing the Guitar by Frederick M. Goad is a great way to learn about the history of the guitar as well as how to play it. It covers everything from learning how to read music to performing simple maintenance. Regular music notation as well tablature is discussed, and chord diagrams are introduced. Different styles of music (Flamenco, Latin, Country, Blues and Rock and Roll) are covered. It's simply written and easy to follow. Graphics complement the text, and a special CD-ROM is included. This is a great book for the beginner or intermediate player. It should be included in every guitarist's book collection.
The Kitchen Readings... Untold Stories of Hunter S. Thompson,
by Michael Cleverly and Bob Braudis
Cleverly and Braudis have gathered a collection of wild tales and adventures of "Gonzo" journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson, as told by his closest friends. The title of the book refers to Hunter's creative writing process that took place at Owl Farm in Woody Creek, Colorado. His inner circle of friends would regularly gather in his kitchen and watch him come up with half-baked ideas and brilliant writings that were a large part of his appeal and mystique to his legion of fans. Even Hunter's untimely death was surrounded by mystery, with a bit of humor mixed into the memorial service.
A surprising look inside the complex life of one of America's most colorful characters.
The Best Game Ever: Giants Vs. Colts, 1958, and the Birth of the Modern NFL,
by Mark Bowden
Nearly a play-by-play account of one of the most important games in NFL history. Profiles of key players and insights into their character and the way they interacted provide background for the game. The drama and tension of the game are gripping; even knowing the outcome it's exciting to relive it, on the field with the players and coaches. The game and the advent with it of TV coverage totally changed pro football and sports on TV. As the author points out, John Unitas earned $17,500 in leading the Colts to the championship. Five years later, Joe Namath signed with the NY Jets for $427,000, plus a $200,000 bonus.
The Chris Farley Show,
by Tom Farley, Jr. and Tanner Colby
The Chris Farley Show is a stirring biography of a kind, loyal and talented man from Madison, Wisconsin that wanted to share his gift of humor with the world. His Irish-Catholic family instilled a strong religious background to help guide Chris through life, but other baggage from his childhood affected his addictions. The book follows his career from childhood, to Saturday Night Live, and to the movies. Chris Farley seemed to have it all within his grasp. The only problem was that he was burning the candle at both ends, until his flame burned out too soon. There are stories told by family, friends, and celebrities alike whose love for the actor and comedian is still apparent in interview and oral biography format.
Animal Speak: The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small,
by Ted Andrews
Have you ever felt like there's a bird or an animal that speaks to you? Do you watch the Discovery Channel and suddenly think "My god, those polar bears are incredible!" Then you should read "Animal Speak." In this comprehensive dictionary of animal totems, Ted Andrews, animal rehabilitator and instructor at the Bruckner Nature Center in Troy, Ohio, brings together thousands of years of Native American, Egyptian, Greek, Chinese, Siberian, African and other cultural symbolism of the animal, bird, reptile and insect kingdoms in one easy-to read volume. He begins the book with a description of totems and their functions in traditional cultures and offers a series of rituals designed to help the reader get in touch with their own individual totems. He then offers readers a comprehensive dictionary of the kingdom of fauna and the roles of various creatures in cultures throughout the world. Why do we resonate with a certain bird? Why do some of us impulsively collect certain stuffed animals? Why do we have recurring animal dreams? Why do we use the phrase, "I'm a cat person?" Perhaps it's because in traditional cultures we are believed to be born with guardian animal spirits that look after us and help guide us through our childhoods and adult lives. Andrews' book gives great insight into these and countless other questions, combining the serious with the playful (otters!) and bringing the reader back into a sense of belonging to and respecting the natural world. Reawaken your indigenous self and start to unravel those crazy dreams! Great for kids and adults alike.
by Joe McGinniss
McGinniss takes an in-depth look at how power, privilege, and justice affected the Kissel family. How could two brothers, Robert and Andrew Kissel, both destined for success, end up tragically murdered? The twisted tale of lust and greed spans across the world, from New York City, to Hong Kong, to Vermont, and backcountry Greenwich. The author focuses most of the book following the infamous &Milk Shake Murder& of Merrill Lynch executive Robert Kissel, and how he was poisoned by his own wife, Nancy. A short chapter at the end of the book focuses specifically on Andrew Kissel's murder in Greenwich. A fascinating look into the dark side of power, and the lengths some people go through to get what they want.
No Vulgar Hotel: The Desire and Pursuit of Venice,
by Judith Martin
Judith Martin, author of the "Miss Manners" writings, has written a totally winning and enjoyable book about the affliction many travelers, this reviewer being one of them, have developed over their years of wandering the world: a wild adoration and affection for the city of Venice. While Venice is unique for so many, Martin captures the myriad of reasons why this "Ventophiliia" has happened consistently to so many over the years. This list includes many who have become famous with Hemingway, Peggy Guggenheim, Titian, Turner, Whistler, Richard Wagner, Robert Browning being only a portion of the list. In her humorous, always-interesting, and historically-researched writing, Martin provides those fellow-addicts of Venice as well as those who have never been with very entertaining stories of this fabled and beloved city. This book, however, left this reader wishing Martin had included more details about many of the incidents and events she writes about in her book. However, Greenwich Library has a terrific collection of materials for those who wish to learn more about Venice. That said, No Vulgar Hotel is highly recommended.
This Charming Man,
by Marian Keyes
This Charming Man is Marian Keyes' ninth novel. The story is told from the point of view of four main characters each of whom has a fascinating back and side story that is woven into the increasingly serious and dark narrative thread with delicacy and humor. If you havn't read any of Marian Keyes' novels, I suggest that you start at the beginning with Watermelon. While This Charming Man stands alone, many of the earlier ones are based on one family. Some of the later novels refer to characters in earlier ones. Her books are also great audio-books. I find that listening only increases the emotional bonding between writer and reader.
Beautiful Children: A Novel,
by Charles Bock
Charles Bock has written a fantastic Las Vegas novel that is nearly devoid of gambling and casinos. The focus is primarily on those folks who live in Vegas; the kind of folks who are rarely mentioned when it comes to Vegas. Some work in casinos and nightclubs, some work in pawn shops and others don't really have much of a vocation. Some are down and out, some are confused but Bock manages to portray most of them with kindness. What makes them stand out is that they are rendered in a way that makes them believable. There's Newell Ewing, a 12 year old boy with ADHD and a comic book obsession. The story orbits around his sudden disappearance. Bock uses this disappearance to introduce a wide variety of characters; Newell's distraught parents, a stripper and her odious boyfriend, a pathetic comic book artist and a gang of street kids. These characters collide in the books amazing finale, which leaves the reader with more questions than answers. What's also stunning about this book is the way it's written. It is one of the most self-assured first novels I have ever read. Bock seems to choose his words thoughtfully. He has confidence in his characters and his story and apparently feels no need to show off like many debut novelists. And, despite it's grim setting and, at times, bleak outlook, there is a sort of hopefulness that underlies this book. Although it may not seem like it at first, most people end up doing the right thing...or at least trying very hard to do so.
The Emperor of Ocean Park,
by Stephen L. Carter
Published in 2002, The Emperor of Ocean Park was Stephen L. Carter's debut novel and it garnered praise and admiration from book reviewers. For devoted readers of fiction, it is often a treat to watch how authors grow as writers. While Carter has recently published his third novel, Palace Council, his first one is a great read and made this reader want to continue reading Carter's works. The Emperor of Ocean Park is set in the New England college town of Elm Harbor where the main character, Talcott Garland teaches law. The story Carter weaves is multi-layered: Garland's father had a widely-praised career as a judge, but was denied confirmation by government hearings for the supreme court due to possible illegal dealings and this event haunts Garland and his family, his private life and marriage enter a troubled time, a family tragedy remains unresolved years after it happened, and, among other situations, his career as a law professor becomes as rocky as other areas of his life. The reader becomes highly involved in Garland's tale and Carter writes very convincingly with entertaining touches of great sarcasm. It is easy to become totally absorbed in the book. Carter himself is a professor of law at Yale and this undoubtedly enriches and authenticates his writing.
Where Memories Lie, by Deborah Crombie
You would never know that Deborah Crombie is a native Texan and not a Londoner from reading her books. Each book set in and around London, perfectly sets the stage for following the investigations of Duncan Kincaid and his erstwhile partner, Gemma James. Her latest, Where Memories Lie connects momentous incidents that happened during World War II to a contemporary crime with seemingly very ordinary victims. The flashbacks, highlighted in italics, illuminate for the reader all the horror that led to today's murders. Each book can be read as unique but if you start at the beginning, you will have many hours of entertaining mystery and mayhem with Duncan and Gemma and their assorted friends and family.
Sail, by James Patterson
Even if you're not a beach person or beach book person, don't pass up a chance to read James Patterson's book, Sail. It's as fun a read as skipping a stone across a pond on a summer day. Recently married widow Anne Dunne has placed great hopes in a grand sailing trip with her children this summer. She wants the time away from her surgery practice aboard the family yacht to bring her closer to her children who are still dealing with the death of their father. Her new husband, lawyer Peter Carlyle must stay behind to work, so she invites her former brother-in-law Jake to help her with her children...who try suicide, drugs and non-compliance to get her attention. A series of disasters leave them fighting for their lives and stranded at sea. The reader knows who wants them dead, but is helpless to do anything but keep reading!!
The List of Adrian Messenger,
by Philip MacDonald
Adrian Messenger asks a friend in British Intelligence to locate 11 men, mentioning something about an unbelievable conspiracy. Adrian himself is on his way to California, but a bomb explodes on the plane. Adrian and two others survive, but Adrian dies before rescue, though he does mutter words repeatedly that may be a message. British Intelligence finds that all 11 men on Adrian's list are dead, killed in "accidents". The friend asks Anthony Gethryn to investigate. Eventually a plan to eliminate all members of the Brougham family so a distant American relative can become Marquis of Gleneyre is discovered, just in time to save the final person who stands in his way. Exciting mystery, deftly plotted.
Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus Volumes One-Four,
by Jack Kirby, with Vince Colletta, Mike Royer, others
In 1970, after having co-created most of the classic Marvel Comics Group's flagship characters (Fantastic Four; The X-Men; Thor; Hulk; Silver Surfer; Captain America), artist Jack Kirby (1917-1994) left that company over financial and creative issues and relocated to DC Comics. There, using DC's Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen's comic as a launching pad, Kirby introduced new characters under the umbrella title The Fourth World (said title coined by an anonymous DC staffer). In several issues of Jimmy Olsen and spinoff titles The Forever People, The New Gods and Mister Miracle, the artist (and now writer-editor) chronicled the conflict between the planets "New Genesis" and "Apokolips" (ruled by the evil Darkseid), who used Earth (and Superman's hometown, "Metropolis") as a battleground to wage war against one another. The New Genesis inhabitants, which included Orion, Lightray, Mister Miracle (AKA "Scott Free") and the Forever People (as well as Superman and Jimmy Olsen), tried to prevent Darkseid (pronounced "Dark-side") and his minions from getting the "Anti-Life Equation" , by which all minds in the universe could be controlled by one being. But comic audiences were unreceptive to the multi-issue/series story arc, and Forever People and New Gods were cancelled in the summer of 1972, followed a year later by the demise of Mister Miracle (Kirby had already quit the Jimmy Olsen comic due to creative conflicts with the publishers over how to depict the Superman character). Kirby was eventually convinced to tie up most of the loose ends in 1985 with the graphic novel "The Hunger Dogs", included in volume four, where Orion (having been revealed as Darkseid's son in the last issue of New Gods) and Darkseid have their final confrontation (or so it seems...). Now, Kirby's entire Fourth World saga has been collected in four hardbound volumes, with unrelenting action and situations plus memorable characters (wait'll you meet such prizes as "Granny Goodness'" and "The Deep Six") as only Kirby can do them. All four volumes feature introductions by such authors as Grant Morrison and Glen David Gold, plus informative Afterwords by Mark Evanier (Kirby: King of Comics) on what really went on behind the scenes when these books were first put together, make this series a must for fans of innovative graphic novel storytelling.