Godspeed, Leonard Nimoy

Mark Clark, author of two Star Trek books for the Applause FAQ series, pays tribute to both Leonard Nimoy and his most famous role.

00314873I knew it was coming. Leonard Nimoy was 83 years old and had been in declining health, suffering from chronic pulmonary disease. He had officially retired from the screen years ago, although he continued to make occasional cameo appearances, including in the two J.J. Abrams-directed Star Trek movies. Nevertheless, when word of the actor’s death arrived this afternoon, I was stunned. It seemed unreal, impossible. How could immortal face of one of the greatest entertainment franchises in history, a source of comfort and inspiration for millions of fans, really be gone? Wasn’t there some way to ship his body to the Genesis Planet for regeneration?

That’s when I realized that I was confusing Nimoy with his most famous character.

I was hardly the first to do this. Even Nimoy struggled to keep his personality separate from that of his Vulcan alter-ego, as evidenced by his two memoirs, one titled I Am Not Spock and a second titled I Am Spock. The confusion is understandable. Nimoy was not Spock, but Spock is Nimoy. Although created by Gene Roddenberry, the half-human, half-Vulcan first officer was animated by Nimoy’s personality – intelligent, unflinching, analytical, yet approachable. The actor improvised many of Spock’s trademark expressions and gestures, including the FSNP (“Famous Spock Nerve Pinch”) and the split-fingered Vulcan salute (derived from a rabbinic gesture of blessing); the character’s indomitable spirit was Nimoy’s too. And Spock, more than any other character, came to embody the essence of Star Trek.

Although Nimoy is gone, Spock remains. He stands as an eternal testament to Nimoy’s ability to craft a complex, nuanced, believable character.

However, Spock is far from the only testament. I wrote extensively about Nimoy’s life and career in my books Star Wars FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the First Voyages of the Starship Enterprise and Star Wars FAQ 2.0: Everything Left to Know About the Next Generation, the Movies, and Beyond. As I noted there, although none of them earned him fame, Nimoy authored several remarkable performances in television roles prior to Star Trek (on shows like M Squad, Combat!, and The Lieutenant) and he did the same in later, non-Trek movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978). He also had a successful career as a writer, producer, and director, helming Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, along with the comedy smash Three Men and a Baby, among other pictures. Nimoy declined the opportunity to create what became Star Trek: The Next Generation due to the demands of his feature film career. And movies were only one of Nimoy’s pursuits. He was a restless, polymorphously creative individual who also enjoyed careers as a recording artist, poet, and fine art photographer.

The pressures that arrived with fame led him to alcoholism during the making of the original Star Trek series. But he eventually found sobriety, and in later years always seemed to have a smile and a handshake ready for fans and castmates alike – even his onetime rival, William Shatner, with whom he belatedly developed a deep and abiding friendship. I confess that it brings a smile to my face to picture Nimoy being reunited, somewhere, with DeForest Kelley.

Surely Spock must be embarrassed by the outpouring of emotions displayed by fans and colleagues today, following Nimoy’s  passing. But Nimoy, I’m certain, welcomes and appreciates all the affection.

 

Enter to WIN a Red Special Guitar SIGNED by Brian May!!

Guitar Player magazine is hosting a contest to win a Brian May Red Special Guitar!!

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Prize Details:
First Prize: A Red Special Guitar signed by Brian May. This Brian May guitar is faithful to the spirit of Brian’s original ‘Red Special’, an instrument that has achieved iconic status and a unique place in rock history, and designed by Brian May himself. Retail value $2000

Second Prize: A copy of the book, “Brian May’s Red Special” Retail value: $30

Click here to enter the contest!

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6 Tips to Crisis Management That Could Save Your Musical Brand

Bobby Borg, author of Music Marketing for the DIY Musicianprovides tips on crisis management in his latest article from Hypebot!

6 Tips to Crisis Management That Could Save Your Musical Brand

The saying “all publicity is good publicity” is not always true. A band must be prepared to deal immediately with certain rumors and unfortunate mistakes that may unfold and tarnish its brand image. Good news travels fast, but bad news travels faster. Inspired by business consultant and USC Professor Ira Kalb, here are six tips to crisis management that can help save your brand.

Unflattering Rumors

A rumor is information (usually unflattering) that is passed from person to person, but has not yet proven to be true. When an unflattering rumor circulates, you might consider the following:

1. Do not publicize the rumor by repeating it. Repeating it, of course, only helps to spread it.

2. Promote the exact opposite of the rumor by reminding people of all the good you do, but again, without mentioning the rumor.

3. Deal with the person(s) who started the rumor by letting them know you are upset and that you will even take legal action if necessary.

Click here to view the rest of the article!

Also, check out these other articles recently written by Bobby Borg:

Five Common Reasons Musicians Fail and What You Can Do About It

Damage Control: Effective Strategies for Handling Mistakes or Rumors About Your Band

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Listen: C. Eric Banister on Pop Culture Tonight with Patrick Phillips!

C. Eric Banister, author of Johnny Cash FAQ, talks with Patrick Phillips of “Pop Culture Tonight” about Johnny Cash’s musical legacy and Banister’s book.

>>LISTEN HERE<<

00119344Johnny Cash remains one of the most recognizable artists in the world. Starting in 1956, he released an album every year until his death in 2003. In addition to these albums, there were also some posthumous releases in the years after his death. From rockabilly to country, folk to comedy, gospel to classical, the prolific Cash touched them all. His hit singles crossed over from country to pop, as he transcended genres and became a superstar around the globe.

Cash skyrocketed from the beginning, flying through the ’60s until he was one of the country’s biggest stars by the end of the decade. Following his own muse through the ’70s, Cash slowly faded commercially until he nearly disappeared in the ’80s. Instead of giving up, he made an incredible late-career run in the ’90s that took him into the new millennium, along the way collaborating with various contemporary rock and pop artists.

His offstage problems often overshadowed the music, and his addiction often takes center stage in the story, pushing the music off the page. But Johnny Cash FAQ celebrates the musical genius of Cash and takes a look at every album Cash released, the stories behind the hits, and how he sustained a fantastic nearly 50-year career.

 

Event Alert: The Heidi Chronicles

The Heidi Chronicles will begin performances tonight at the Music Box Theatre! Tickets are available here. The production will star Golden Globe-winner and six-time Emmy Award-nominee Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men,” “Top of the Lake,” Speed-the-Plow), Emmy Award-nominee Jason Biggs (“Orange Is The New Black,” American Pie), Tony Award-nominee Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), and Tracee Chimo (Lips Together, Teeth Apart, “Orange Is The New Black,” Bad Jews).

Jan Balakian covers The Heidi Chronicles in her book Reading the Plays of Wendy WassersteinIn honor of the show’s opening night, here’s an excerpt exploring The Heidi Chronicles:

00314771The Heidi Chronicles dramatizes a romantic, witty, unmarried art history professor at Columbia University, Heidi Holland, approaching middle age and becoming disillusioned with the collapse of the idealism that shaped the sixties. Spanning twenty-three years, the play begins with Heidi’s slide lecture about the neglect of women artists and then travels back to a 1965 Chicago high school dance, where she meets the lifelong friends whose feminist values fluctuate. In college, Heidi and her friends become passionate feminists and liberals: we see them at a 1968 Eugene McCarthy rally in New Hampshire, a 1970 Ann Arbor consciousness-raising session, and a 1974 protest for women artists at the Art Institute of Chicago.

While Heidi remains committed to the ideals of feminism, her friends become swept away by the materialism and narcissism of the Reagan eighties, leading the vacuous lives they once denounced. Heidi feels stranded. At her 1986 high school alumni luncheon, the climax of the play, she confesses her feelings of abandonment and her disappointment with her peers: “I thought the point was we were all in this together.” By the end of the play in 1989, however, Heidi feels a little less alone and depressed in her New York apartment, having adopted a daughter as a single parent. She hopes that her daughter will feel the confidence and dignity that were the aims of the women’s movement.

This play grew out of Wasserstein’s strong feminist sentiments: “I wrote this play because I had this image of a woman standing up at a women’s meeting saying, ‘I’ve never been so unhappy in my life. . . .’ The more angry it made me that these feelings weren’t being expressed, the more anger I put into that play.” A comedy of manners, satirically depicting the concerns and conventions of a group of yuppies and a pair of witty lovers – Scoop and Heidi – the play exposes the marginalization of women artists, sexism in general, women’s loss of identity, an unromantic view of marriage, and the lost idealism of the second wave of feminism that began in the early sixties.

Unlike the first wave of feminism of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which focused on officially mandated inequalities, like gaining women’s suffrage, the second wave encouraged women to understand the psychological implications of sexist stereotypes and opened the eyes of American women to careers and achievement, which they had lost in post-World War II America.

From the start, Heidi, standing in a lecture hall showing slides of paintings, addresses the neglect of womentheaterheidichronicles artists. She then points out the difference between the male and female sensibility: “Clara Peeters used more geometry and less detail than her mail peers.” This aesthetic difference becomes a metaphor for gender conflict throughout the play. Although female characters are frustrated that they derive their identities from men, they frantically seek boyfriends. Heidi treats this problem with humor as she segues from the art history lecture back to a 1965 high school dance: “This painting has always reminded me of one of those horrible high school dances. And you sort of want to dance, and you sort of want to go home, and you sort of don’t know what you want. So you hang around, a fading rose in an exquisitely detailed dress, waiting to see what might happen.”

During the 1965 dance, we hear the “The Shoop Shoop Song,” whose lyrics answered the question of anxious young American women: “How can I tell if he loves me so?” with “It’s in his kiss.” The song became a hit with Betty Everett’s 1963 album It’s in His Kiss. During this song, Heidi declines the All-American Chris Boxer’s invitation to dance the “Hully Gully” – a sixties line dance consisting of a series of quick steps called out by the MC. Her friend Susan, however, advises her on how to get a guy to dance with her: “Don’t look desperate. Men don’t dance with desperate women.” Eyeing a Bobby Kennedy lookalike, who is “twisting and smoking” in his “vest, blue jeans, tweed jacket and Wee-juns,” Susan quickly unbuttons her sweater, rolls up her skirt, and pulls a necklace out of her purse. She cautions Heidi, “. . . you’re going to get really messed up unless you learn to take men seriously,” and “The worst thing you can do is cluster. ‘Cause then it looks like you just wanna hang around with your girlfriend.”

Heidi is quick to point out that men are not such a big deal, that the only difference between men and women is biology: “. . . he can twist and smoke at the same time and we can get out of gym with an excuse called ‘I have my monthly.'” As Peter Patrone approaches Heidi, who is now reading a book, the Rolling Stones’ 1965 song “Play with Fire” plays, suggesting that Heidi is playing with fire by choosing not to be the representative 1965 girl. In another sense, playing with Peter Patrone is also “playing with fire”; although he may be Heidi’s soul mate, he is unattainable, because, we later find out, he is gay. Peter and Heidi enact their own melodrama, pretending they are star-crossed lovers on a Queen Mary cruise. Their meta-drama ironizes the 1965 high school dance; the sanitarium replaces the church wedding (Heidi declines Peter’s proposal, saying she covets her independence), and Peter and Heidi never kiss.

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Listen: Stephen Tropiano on Pop Culture Tonight!

Stephen Tropiano, author of Saturday Night Live FAQ talks with Patrick Phillips of “Pop Culture Tonight” to discuss the recent 40th anniversary celebration as well as take a look at the show’s history!

>>LISTEN HERE<<

00315538Television history was made on Saturday, October 11, 1975, at 11:30pm (ET), when Chevy Chase welcomed America to the first episode of a new late-night comedy series. With its cutting edge satire and cast of young, talented performers, Saturday Night Live set a new standard for television comedy while launching the careers of such comedy greats as John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, and Tina Fey.

Saturday Night Live FAQ is the first book to offer the show’s generations of fans everything they ever wanted to know (and may have forgotten) about SNL. Beginning with the show’s creation in the mid-1970s by Lorne Michaels and the Not Ready for Prime Time Players, SNL FAQ takes you through the show’s in-depth history.

 

Listen: Natasha Scharf talks with the Grand Dark Conspiracy

Listen to Natasha Scharf’s conversation with the Grand Dark Conspiracy host Daniel Bautz! Together, they discuss the beginning of goth along with Natasha’s book, The Art of Gothic.

>>LISTEN HERE<<

00127606The gothic look – head-to-toe black attire and extreme makeup – has been a popular one since the 1980s, with each generation reinterpreting this dark aesthetic as its own. From the staccato postpunk of Siouxsie and the Banshees and the dark rock of the Sisters of Mercy through to the industrial metal of Marilyn Manson and the funereal emotional pop of My Chemical Romance, gothic culture has strong roots in music and continues to adapt and survive. But gothic art is about more than just album covers and ephemera; it’s about fashion, book jackets, cinematography, and fine art. Its influence frequently seeps into mainstream culture too. Nowadays, “goth” comes in many shapes, sizes, and even colors, as it encompasses a myriad of sub genres, including cyber, death rock gothic metal, gothic Lolita, and emo goths. Although each is different, followers are identified by their striking, often theatrical look, music with a hint of melancholy, and the ability to find beauty in morbidity, sometimes even in the macabre.

The Art of Gothic is the first heavily illustrated tome to explore the aesthetics of this fascinating style in great detail. Previous books on goth have given a bold overview of the music and culture associated with the genre, but this book goes deeper and hones in on the album art, intricate fashions, fantasy illustrations, and more.