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John Kenneth Muir visits XFILESNEWS

The X-Files FAQ author, John Kenneth Muir, was a guest recently on The X-Files News Podcast, hosted by feature editor Ky Johnson.  Listen to the full podcast below!


00124644The X-Files FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About Global Conspiracy, Aliens, Lazarus Species, and Monsters of the Week explores Chris Carter’s popular 1990s science-fiction TV series, which aired on Fox for nine seasons and inspired spin-offs, including feature films, TV shows, toys, novels, and comic books. The book explores the series in terms of its historical context and analyzes how many of the episodes tackle the events of their time: the Clinton era. The X-Files FAQ also tallies the episodes that are based on true stories, selects touchstone moments from the almost decade-long run, and organizes the series by its fantastic subject matter – from serial killers to aliens, from prehistoric menaces to ethnic and religious-based horrors.

The X-Files FAQ also features a foreword written by screenwriter Chris Carter who credits John Muir for his impressive and thoughtful musings. In the book you’ll read that the writing on the show, X-Files, was only half what made the show what it is today. The people who worked on the show were working in a visual medium, and as Chris Carter states in the foreword “the show somehow managed to turn that rectangle box we all viewed each week into something special and often unexpected.”

In addition, the book recalls the TV antecedents (Kolchak: The Night Stalker) and descendants (Fringe) of The X-Files, examines the two feature films, and investigates Chris Carter’s other creations, including Millennium, The Lone Gunmen, Harsh Realm, and The After. Featuring numerous stills and the show’s most prominent writers and directors, The X-Files FAQ allows readers to relive the “Mytharc” conspiracy and the unforgettable monsters of the week – from the Fluke Man to the Peacocks.

James Dean’s Final Hours

Today is the 60th anniversary of the death of James Dean, the focal point of Keith Elliott Greenberg’s book, Too Fast to Live, Too Young To Die.  In his book, Greenberg pieces together the puzzle of Dean’s final day and its everlasting impact.  Here is an excerpt:

00122929Ever since his toddler years, Jimmy had a keen talent for both observing the world and interpreting it for what was primarily a small but receptive audience. If his grandfather Charles crossed his legs, Jimmy imitated the gesture. If Charles then stretched his legs, Jimmy did it too. “It was more than just mocking Charlie’s gestures,” Emma said. “Even then, Jimmy
seemed able to be another person.”

And people wanted to watch Jimmy perform. “From the time I can remember him, he was cute, and he was always the center of attention, wherever he went,” Joan Peacock told CNN.

There was also a depth that separated Jimmy from his contemporaries. “Jimmy had a little something up here that the other boys don’t have,” Traster said, motioning at his temple. The nursery owner remembered Jimmy as a teen, becoming sullen and taking off on his motorcycle—Traster pronounced it “motor-sicle”—to the family property, where he’d “medidate” in private.

By Traster’s estimation, the young man “derived a certain amount of comfort” from being on the land that defined his ancestors. “He had the spirituality the average kid didn’t seem to have.”

In February 1955, Jimmy had returned to the farm with Dennis Stock, a photographer for Life magazine, working on a photo essay that would be entitled “Moody New Star.” East of Eden was already generating excitement, and—while he wasn’t yet a household name—the comparisons to Brando had begun. It was the public’s opportunity to see Dean not only in the place that shaped him, but also with the people who loved him in a way that his fans never could. The depth of the relationship between Markie and the actor he considered a brother was particularly evident. In one photo, Jimmy is waiting for the school bus with his younger cousin. In another, Markie looks over Jimmy’s shoulder as he reads. In a third, the two pay a solemn visit to Cal Dean’s grave.

Markie never forgot any of it. “That was kind of a special visit,” he says. “When Jimmy would go to town or something, he’d want to know if I wanted to go along. That’s why I’m in so many of the pictures. And, of course, even when I look at those pictures now, it brings back all those memories.”

Because of Dean’s death on the highway, people would later focus on the picture of Dean pushing his little cousin in a miniature race car, as well as the image of the pair playing with toy racers on the floor.

Jimmy’s grandfather Charles Dean also loved fast cars, purchasing his first vehicle in 1911 and disrupting the order of Fairmount by rocketing down the road at a then-blistering thirty-five miles per hour. Jimmy was a child when he began driving a tractor but quickly graduated to motorized bikes. Recounted Emma, “His motorcycles got larger and larger.”

Over the years, Jimmy owned an Italian Lancia scooter, English cycle, Harley, 500cc Norton, Indian 500, and British Triumph T-110—with “Dean’s Dilemma” painted on the side—in addition to a number of cars. But recently, he’d made his fastest and most expensive purchase: a Porsche 550 Spyder, a two-seat race car, possessing neither a windshield nor a roof, and capable of going as fast as 150 miles per hour. Costing in the neighborhood of $7,000, it would have been an extravagant choice, had Dean’s agent not just arranged a new deal securing the actor $100,000 for every future film.

Not since the Czech Whizzer had Dean been so exhilarated over a ride. Jimmy had been driving the 550 Spyder—one of only ninety the manufacturer produced—all over Hollywood, regularly stopping at his favorite restaurant, the Villa Capri, so friends could gawk at it. It was particularly thrilling to have his relatives, Marcus Sr. and Ortense, and another aunt and uncle, Charles Nolan and Mildred Dean, in town to view this material symbol of their nephew’s success. On Saturday, Jimmy was
scheduled to race the Porsche about three hours north, in Salinas, and he asked his relatives to watch him from the stands. Marcus and Ortense couldn’t make it; they’d been away long enough and were driving home to see Markie, Joan, and the rest of the family. Charles Nolan and his wife expressed interest in attending the race, and Jimmy had their tickets in his pocket as he made his way up the winding highway to the track. But, at the last moment, the couple decided to drive to Mexico instead.

Even so, Jimmy was overjoyed to be steering the Porsche around the curves of Route 466. Observers would later theorize that the twenty-fouryear- old star was simply infatuated with the race car’s power. He’d named it the “Little Bastard,” a proclamation, some thought, about the way Jimmy perceived himself. But, below his snarling facade, Dean’s sensitivity
allowed him to appreciate the Spyder as a work of automotive brilliance, renowned for its aerodynamic design, lightweight aluminum chassis, and air-cooled engine that could expand and contract as the temperature changed.

Spring Awakening returns to Broadway!

The Deaf West production of Spring Awakening, re-imagined and performed simultaneously in English and American Sign Language, begian Broadway performances Sept. 8 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. It’s been nine years since the rock musical first appeared in Broadway in 2006. In honor of Spring Awakening returning, here’s a look back to a podcast episode featuring Steven Sater and cast members Johnathan Groff and Lauren Pritchard. Click on the link below to listen and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Onstage and Backstage podcast from Hal Leonard is available on iTunes and Libsyn. Each episode authors and their guests have a chat about the topics of their books. Today, Steven Sater talks about Spring Awakening and writing his book A Purple Summer: Notes on the Lyrics of Spring Awakening with two original cast members, Jonathan Groff and Lauren Pritchard.


A Purple Summer by Steven Sater

In February 1999, Steven Sater conceived the radical notion of creating a rock musical from Frank Wedekind’s notorious Symbolist drama, Frühlings Erwachen, and he enlisted his friend and writing partner Duncan Sheik in the enterprise. That night, Sater came home and began writing the first lyric of Spring Awakening: “Mama Who Bore Me” – a lyric which still stands, verbatim, just as he first wrote it.

Ten years later, in the wake of the enormous international success of this groundbreaking, multiaward-winning show, its original director, Michael Mayer, urged Sater to write notes explicating its famously evocative, poetic lyrics.

In rich detail, Sater’s notes address the literary sources and allusions of each lyric. He also writes feelingly of what prompted the songs over the course of the show’s eight years of development. In so doing, Sater expands on his partnership with Sheik and his experiences with original cast members, Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff, now also known from Glee.

These notes will prove invaluable for fans of the show, for all those interested in theater, and most especially for all the young performers who will play the roles and sing these songs.

The Star Wars Battlefront Beta is coming to PS4 in early October!

As most of you may have heard, the Star Wars Battlefront (Beta) is set to come out in early October for PS4 users. Star Wars video games have certainly come a long way since the first licensed video game was released in 1982. In his new book, Star Wars FAQ, Mark Clark talks about the first ever video game that Star Wars licensed and how these video games slowly, but surely, gained popularity. Read about it below!

00122914Custom, homemade Star Wars computer games have been around as long as Star Wars fans have owned home computers. But the first licensed, Lucasfilm-authorized electric game was Parker Brothers’ Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1982), created for the Atari 2600 system. A year later, a version was issued for Mattel’s Intellivision platform. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was a simplistic, scrolling shooter game with primitive graphics. The player flew a snowspeeder and attacked AT-AT walkers, as seen in the Hoth snow battle from the film. The player won the game by destroying five walkers; if the Walkers reached Echo Base and destroyed it, the player lost.

Although sales of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back were not spectacular, the game performed well enough to encourage the development of more product. Parker Brothers issued Return of the Jedi: Death Star Battle and Return of the Jedi: Jedi Arena in 1983. In Death Star Battle, produced for the Atari 5200 and Atari XE platforms, players piloted the Millennium Falcon through a squadron of TIE fighters to destroy the second Death Star. In Jedi Arena, made for the Atari 2600 only, players battle one another with lightsabers. A third game, Return of the Jedi: Ewok Adventure, was prototyped but never released.

The first Star Wars arcade game, produced by Atari and simply named Star Wars, also appeared in 1983. This was a sophisticated (by early 1980s standards) first-person shooter/flight simulator featuring color 3-D vector graphics. The player relived the climax of Star Wars, taking part in the assault on the Death Star from within the cockpit of an X-Wing fighter. Successful players cleared three levels—overcoming an initial engagement with TIE fighters; then destroying turret guns on the surface of the space station; and finally zooming through a trench and firing a torpedo into the exhaust port to destroy the Death Star. Players continued to be harassed by TIE fighters throughout the second and third levels. The game featured sound effects and snippets of dialogue from the film—including the voices of Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, James Earl Jones, and Sir Alec Guinness. Star Wars was sold as a stand-up console and in a deluxe, sit-down cockpit version. In either configuration, it was a massive hit and remained in production for five years. It became a fixture at many arcades in the United States and the United Kingdom, and fans set video game endurance records (authenticated by the Guinness Book of World Records) playing it.

Parker Brothers released a scaled-down home version in 1984 for Atari and Coleco game systems, and the Commodore 64 computer. In 1987 and ’88, it was reconfigured for nine more game systems and reissued. Readers of the website Killer List of Video Games, an online community of video game enthusiasts and preservationists, voted Star Wars the fourth-best coin-operated video game of all time (trailing only Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Galaga). Atari introduced a second Star Wars arcade game, Return of the Jedi, in 1984. It featured more lifelike raster graphics and included four levels, some replicating the speeder bike chase scene and others the climactic Death Star battle. A home version was also produced. The true follow-up to the Star Wars arcade game was Atari’s The Empire Strikes Back, released in 1985. It was another 3-D vector graphics first-person shooter/flyer based, like Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, on the Hoth AT-AT/snowspeeder battle. Neither of Atari’s sequels proved as popular as the original Star Wars arcade game.

Japanese game maker Namco released an adventure game titled simply Star Wars in 1987, created for Nintendo’s early Famicom console. The designers of this game seemed completely unconcerned with fidelity to the source material. In it, Luke Skywalker pilots the Falcon to various planets to rescue Ben Kenobi, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and the droids. Each planet is protected by a different Darth Vader, some of which transform into various creatures (a shark, a scorpion, a Wampa, and a dinosaur). Luke has black hair and Chewbacca speaks English. A year later, Mastertronic released a computer game, Droids: Escape from Aaron, based on the Star Wars: Droids cartoon. This was an adventure game in which Threepio and Artoo escape from the clutches of the Hutt-like Fromm criminal gang. The events depicted in the game did not derive from the TV show but were in keeping with the continuity of the program.

During the 1980s, Lucasfilm simply sold Star Wars licenses to various game manufacturers and wasn’t always able to exert quality control over the end product. Fed up with the scattershot quality of these games, George Lucas revamped his Lucasfilm Games division to form LucasArts, which designed and manufactured games in-house. Initially, LucasArts partnered with Atari to produce games based on Labyrinth (1986) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). Later, on its own, LucasArts created original adventure games such as the long-running Monkey Island series (1990–2011) for various game systems and computer platforms. Perhaps waiting until Lucas was certain LucasArts had hit its stride, the company didn’t release a Star Wars game until 1993, but it was worth the wait. Star Wars: X-Wing—a combination flight simulator and adventure game, with players battling imperial forces in a trusty rebel fighter—was a smash, spawning multiple expansion packs, collector’s editions, and sequels.

More than twenty more Star Wars video games were issued prior to the release of The Phantom Menace in 1999, including Star Wars: TIE Fighter (the first game set from the perspective of the Empire) in 1994, Star Wars: DarkForces in 1995, Shadows of the Empire in 1996 (part of a multimedia event, see previous chapter), and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (1998), all of which proved very successful. Star Wars games have remained the primary focus of LucasArts since the mid-1990s.

In more recent years, the company has expanded into the realms of realtime strategy, role-playing (RPG), and, finally, massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) with Star Wars Galaxies (2003), Star Wars: Clone War Adventures (2010), and Star Wars: The Old Republic (2012). LucasArts spent a then-record $200 million developing The Old Republic, a pay-to-play download that allows players to interact together online. The game collected one million subscribers within three days of its launch. All three Star Wars MMORPG releases were multimedia events, with novel, comic book, and toy tie-ins.

Wes Craven passes away at 76

Wes Craven, the most successful director of the Horror genre, has passed away.  The man who created A Nightmare on Elm Street and the Scream franchise was 76.  John Kenneth Muir’s profile of  Craven from his book Horror Films FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About Slashers, Vampires, Zombies, Aliens, and More is below. In addition, Muir paid tribute to the director yesterday on his own blog, Reflections on Film and Television.

Horror_2.3_director3cravenBefore becoming one of the horror genre’s most successful directors, Wes Craven taught English at Westminster College and philosophy at Clarkson University. After becoming an editor for Sean Cunningham (Friday the 13th) in New York City, Craven wrote and directed his first horror film, The Last House on the Left (1972), a nihilistic remake of Ingmar Bergman’s spiritual film The Virgin Spring (1960).

Craven continued in a “savage cinema” vein with a follow-up film about “white bread” Americans battling desperate desert cannibals in The Hills Have Eyes (1977) before retooling his movie aesthetic and becoming the godfather of “rubber reality” (see Chapter 21). In films of this type, a highly charismatic and usually highly verbal serial killer is able to manipulate the bounds of reality itself to trap and murder his victims. Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) saw Freddy Krueger lording it over teens in the dreamworld, while Serpent and the Rainbow (1988) involved hallucinatory visions and dreams from the world of Haitian voodoo. In Shocker (1989), Craven imagined Horace Pinker (Mitch Pileggi), a serial killer who could move deftly through different channels on the television landscape.

In 1994, Craven reinvented himself again and became the guru of “meta” or postmodern horror. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) was the seventh entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street series, but importantly it reintroduced Freddy as a “real-life” ancient demon. The characters in the film, including Heather Langenkamp (playing herself), came to the Pirandello-esque conclusion that they were not merely real people, but also characters in an ongoing script called life.

Craven perfected his “meta” approach to film in the self-referential Scream series, written by Kevin Williamson which involved a serial killer called Ghostface who knew all the clichés and conventions of the horror film. Similarly, Scream 2 (1997) involved a killer obsessed with sequels, Scream 3 (2000) trilogies, and Scream 4 (2011) remakes and reboots.


Coming soon…The X-Files FAQ!

Coming soon from Applause Books is The X-Files FAQ! Writer Chris Carter, known for his work on The X-Files and The X-Files‍ ’​ cinematic spin-offs, helps contribute to this book by writing the foreword. Read what he had to say below!

00124644As I write this, we are shooting the second episode of the six-episode “event” series that will air on Fox in late January 2016.
It will be the first time the series has aired on TV in fourteen years, and it will be twenty-three years on from the airing of the pilot episode in 1993. That period encompasses about a third of not just my life but the lives of many people who have come back to work on the show now. The comeback could be viewed cynically as an attempt by Fox execs to capitalize on The X-Files “brand,” programming by feather duster, but let me destroy any notion of this from my side of things. Or our side of things, as is the case.
The show was and is a labor of love, and thus a work of art. It takes a great many people working in absolute harmony to create something lasting on television. It is this esprit de corps that makes it all worthwhile. This does not happen accidentally, and I’d like to make it abundantly clear that while I created the show, a great many artistic souls have raised that infant idea into the monster it is today. Beginning with Morgan and Wong, and Gordon and Gansa, in the beginning, Messrs. Spotnitz, Gilligan, and Shiban in the end, the show was protean by nature, including the efforts of writers who came and went and whose contributions are under-sung.
And as you will read in the always impressive and thoughtful musings of John Muir, the writing is only half of it. We work in a visual medium, and the show somehow managed to turn that rectangle box we all viewed each week into something special and often unexpected. The signature qualities of mood and light and perspective can be attributed largely to production design by Michael Nemirski in the pilot, to Graeme Murray and Corey Kaplan on the series, but also to Tom Del Ruth, John Bartley, Jon Joffin, Joel Ransom, and Bill Roe, who lit and photographed it. All under some of the most talented directors and storytellers TV has even known: Rob Bowman, Kim Manners, David Nutter, and R. W. Goodwin. A manager’s dream starting rotation, backed by a bullpen of long and short relievers who stepped in and stepped up. This is not lip service or faint praise. These people helped save my life.
In John Muir’s introduction, I’m quoted as saying, “I didn’t understand what I didn’t understand,” in reference to running the show in the beginning. This is true, but I’d like to put a finer point on that. “I didn’t know what we couldn’t do” is more like it. From the outset, we tried anything and everything we could think of. Met with much resistance, both creative and financial, we managed to do a great many things simply because our imaginations were wilder than the forces trying to tame them. That was also not an accident, and people such as Peter Roth, Ken Horton, Charlie Goldstein, two Jeffs named Eckerly and Glazer, and also Jonathan Littman came to understand we knew what we were doing and rallied in support. Executive Producer R. W. Goodwin was often a convincing voice of reason.
But as I’ve always maintained, none of our good work, artistry, or effort would add up to much if it weren’t for Mulder and Scully. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson brought, and now continue to bring, power and soul to characters who surprisingly continue to grow. To watch them step back into old shoes and bring something new has been a joy. They and the characters have grown wiser with the years, and as I’m often reminded, adversity is the forge of character.
Not just in them, but in us.

If your a fan of The X-Files, or want to read more, purchase the book over at

In a Galaxy far, far away…

Star Wars has become well known in every generation and people everywhere have been quoting it ever since it first came out. What some people may not know is that they have been saying some of the lines wrong this whole time! Star Wars FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies, just published by Applause Books, looks at what was actually said and how some of it may have been lost in translation.  Take a look at an excerpt of the book below!

00122914Although seldom cited as a source of brilliant dialogue, the original Star Wars trilogy remains one of the most-quoted works of the twentieth century, full of instantly recognizable and frequently parodied catchphrases. To say that the language of Star Wars has entered the popular vernacular would be a major understatement. Metaphoric references to the Force, Jedi mind tricks, and hyperspace may be casually dropped without fear of misunderstanding. Some words and concepts, including the name Star Wars itself—co-opted, to George Lucas’ horror, to describe President Ronald Reagan’s proposed satellite-based missile defense system—have been widely adopted and accumulated additional definitions. All this speaks to the profound cultural impact of the movies, but it also reflects the steadfast devotion of fans. After all, these words, phrases, and ideas entered the language because fans watched these movies over and over again—in theaters and later on home video—memorizing the dialogue and quoting lines back and forth with one another. (If I say, “When I left you, I was but a learner; now I am the master,” you answer with . . . ?)
Given all this, a closer look at some of the films’ most famous quotes would seem to be in order.

“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . . ”
Every Star Wars film famously opens with these words, printed in blue type against a black background. They precede the title of the film itself. George Lucas’ self-conscious myth making is at its most obvious here, but the words are beautifully chosen and their impact is both powerful and elegant; they immediately set the fanciful tone for all that follows. The phrase is clearly intended as the equivalent of “Once upon a time. . . . ” The link is so self evident that decades later the writers of the DreamWorks animated Shrek film series set the adventures of the loveable ogre and his companions in a fairy-tale world referred to simply as “Far Far Away.” This is also one of the most instantly recognizable and durable Star Wars-isms. A comprehensive listing of all the various books, movies, TV shows, newspaper and magazine articles, and websites to co-opt the phrase “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” in whole or in part, often for ironic or satirical purposes, would run on
for hundreds of pages (and would include this book).

“May the Force be with you.”
This phrase—Jedi-speak for “good luck” or often “goodbye and good luck”—quickly became (and remains) the emblematic catchphrase for Star Wars. It appears in every Star Wars film and in nearly every Star Wars book, comic, and video game. And it has been immortalized (after a fashion) on T-shirts, coffee mugs, key chains, bumper stickers, and every other sort
of ephemera imaginable, up to and including being tattooed onto fans’ bodies. “May the Force be with you” is spoken four times in the Original Trilogy: twice in Star Wars (once by General Dodonna and once by Han Solo), once in The Empire Strikes Back (by Luke Skywalker), and once (“May the Force be with us,” says Admiral Ackbar) in Return of the Jedi.

“I have a bad feeling about this.”
This catchphrase/running gag appears twice in Star Wars (on first sight of the Death Star, Luke says, “I have a very bad feeling about this;” later, in the trash compactor, Han says, “I got a bad feeling about this”), and it recurs in every subsequent Star Wars movie, as well as in countless Star Wars novels, comic books, video games, and other media. Leia has the line in The Empire Strikes Back (while the Millennium Falcon is hidden in the belly of the giant asteroid monster), and both C-3PO and Han say it in Return of the Jedi (C-3PO upon entering Jabba’s palace and Han when he and Luke are captured by Ewoks). Tellingly, the line does not appear in the ill-conceived Star Wars Holiday Special, but it was used in episodes of the Droids and Ewoks cartoon series of the 1980s, in the Clone Wars animated series, and, of course, in the Prequel Trilogy (presumably it will also be repeated in the Sequel Trilogy). The phrase “I have a bad feeling about this,” or some version of it, also appears in countless Star Wars novels, comics, video games, role-playing games, and the Star Tours attraction at Disneyland and Disney World. Like the call letters THX-1138 (the name of Lucas’ first feature film), the phrase “I have a bad feeling about this” also recurs in other Lucasfilm projects, including the movies Radioland Murders (1994) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), and the Young Indiana Jones TV series. And it has been co-opted as an homage to Star Wars in numerous other works, including Star Wars jokes on TV series including The Big Bang Theory, Robot Chicken, Family Guy, and Phineas and Ferb.

“Luke, I am your father.”
This is a phantom phrase. Although often “quoted” or parodied, Darth Vader never actually says this—not in quite this construction, anyway—in The Empire Strikes Back or anywhere else. It’s a misquote much like “Beam me up, Scotty,” which no Star Trek character has ever spoken, or “Play it again, Sam,” which is never said in Casablanca, or “Elementary, my dear Watson,” which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never wrote. The actual exchange from Empire:
Vader: Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.
Luke: He told me enough! He told me you killed him!
Vader: No. I am your father.

Do you have any other favorite quote from the movie? Let us know in the comments below!!

Nicholas Nigro interviewed by Mr. Media!

Nicholas Nigro, author of Seinfeld FAQ: Everything Left To Know About The Show About Nothing, recently visited with Bob Andelman (a.k.a Mr. Media) to talk about Jerry, Elaine, George, Kramer, and everyone else who made up the world of Seinfeld.


00314952Seinfeld‘s impact on popular culture was so profound that it continues to this day – years after it left prime time – thanks to its inimitable characters (Newman, J. Peterman, Bubble Boy), its wacky, memorable plots (who can forget “The Contest” or “The Puffy Shirt”?), and the many catchphrases we use regularly (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Seinfeld FAQ is a comprehensive guide to the sitcom, tracing its path from modest beginnings to water-cooler-show status and to its infamous, love-it-or-hate-it finale. This humor-filled reference tells all about Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer, as well as the Costanzas, Morty and Helen Seinfeld, the Soup Nazi, and the other unforgettable characters in their world.

Seinfeld FAQ features season-by-season episode reviews and a wealth of fun facts about everything from the characters’ inevitably doomed relationships to their food obsessions and fashion sense (or lack thereof) as well as profiles of actors and other notables. Nigro unveils his top-10 lists in categories such as Jerry, George, and Kramer’s girlfriends; Elaine’s boyfriends; movie references (fictional and real); and, of course, best episodes and most underrated episodes. He also looks at the actors’ lives and careers after Seinfeld, and assesses the sitcom landscape in the post-Seinfeld world.

Broad in scope and yet obsessed with detail (like the show itself), Seinfeld FAQ is essential reading for anyone who wants to be master of the Seinfeld domain.

The Art of Horror, sneak peek on ISSUU!

The Art of Horror An Illustrated History is filled with rare and unfamiliar images, sourced from archives and private collections around the world. Fans of horror and the unknown will enjoy this book and its 10 chapters of themed genres such as, vampires, zombies, demons, aliens, and more. This book has a wide range of topics starting from the history of horror all the way to the development of art and graphic design. It will also become a major source book for collectors and traders of horror memorabilia. For a sneak peek click here.

Amazingly, there has never been a book quite like The Art of Horror An Illustrated History (October 13, 2015): a celebration of fearful images, compiled and presented by some of the genre’s most respected names. While acknowledging the beginnings of horror-related art in legends and folk tales, the focus of the book is on how the genre has presented itself to the world since the creations of Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley.

00141141The stunning illustrations featured in The Art of Horror will captivate you right from the start. With chapters like, The Blood Is The Life, Man-Made Monsters, and Giant Behemoths, Editor Stephen Jones showcases an unprecedented collection of some 400 of the finest examples of horror-related art. Each chapter begins with an overview of the featured area of the genre, and also contains two special features on specific topics (e.g. Bram Stoker’s Dracula, or the paintings of Clive Barker). These 10 chapters also showcases quotes from artists/illustrators, and a selection from writers and filmmakers, are featured throughout.

Jones and his stellar team of contributors have sourced visuals from archives and private collections (including their own!) worldwide, ensuring an unprecedented selection that is accessible to those discovering the genre. They also include many images that will be rare and unfamiliar to even the most committed fan. From early engravings, via dust jackets, book illustrations, pulp magazines, movie posters, comic books and paintings, to today’s artists working entirely in the digital realm. It’s all here, from the shockingly lurid to the hauntingly beautiful.

Here’s a sneak preview of The Art of Horror An Illustrated History.

Theodore Bikel: The Original Captain Georg von Trapp

Theodore Bikel, who died on Tuesday, toured for decades as Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” but, before he mused about being a rich man, Bikel created the role of Baron von Trapp in the original Broadway production of “The Sound of Music.”  In The Sound of Music FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About Maria, the von Trapps, and Our Favorite Things, author Barry Monush profiled Bikel.

00123101Being not only authentically Austrian but accomplished at playing the guitar, Theodore Bikel (born in Vienna on May 2, 1924) proved ideal casting for Captain von Trapp. His own family had, in fact, faced a similar dilemma as the Trapps, having to flee Austria once the Nazis took power in 1938. In Bikel’s case, however, being Jewish, the threat was even greater. Settling in Israel, he took an interest in dramatics, joining the Habima Theater in Tel Aviv and then journeying to London to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. A role in a 1948 revival of You Can’t Take It with You led to director Laurence Olivier casting him as one of Stanley and Mitch’s poker-playing pals in the London debut (October 12, 1949) of Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire, starring Olivier’s wife, Vivien Leigh. This, in turn, brought him his first film, John Huston’s Oscar-winning The African Queen (1951), popping up near the climax as a German sailor. That same year he returned to the West End to play a Russian in Peter Ustinov’s comedy The Love of Four Colonels, which he would stay with for two years.

Continuing his run of supporting roles in movies, Bikel covered nearly every nationality possible, playing a Serbian king in the Oscar-nominated Moulin Rouge (1952); a Belgian opera director in Melba (1953), which featured Robert Morley playing Oscar Hammerstein II’s father); a Dutch doctor living in Canada in The Little Kidnappers (1953); a German naval officer in Above Us the Waves (1955); and a French general in The Pride and the Passion (1956). During this time he made his Broadway debut (February 1955), playing an imposing French police inspector in the short-lived Tonight in Samarkand, followed later that year by the more successful The Lark, as a French captain pressured into helping Joan of Arc (Julie Harris). (The cast included Christopher Plummer, putting the two future Captain von Trapps in the same property for the only time). For playing a doctor in the drama The Rope Dancers (1957), Bikel earned his first Tony nomination. He finally appeared in an American-made movie when Stanley Kramer cast him as the sympathetic southern sheriff in The Defiant Ones (1958), which brought him an Oscar nomination for supporting actor. He was also seen in another of the year’s top releases, as a psychiatrist offering assistance to condemned prisoner Susan Hayward in I Want to Live!, directed by Robert Wise.

After the head of Elektra Records, Jac Holzman, heard Bikel perform, he signed him to his label, launching his second career as a noted folk singer with a 1955 album, known alternately as Theodore Bikel Sings Songs of Israel and Folksongs of Israel. There followed An Actor’s Holiday (1956) and Songs of a Russian Gypsy (1958), among others. He did not shut down this side of his career to concentrate exclusively on TSOM, however, appearing for two concerts at Town Hall on November 29, 1959, only two weeks after the musical’s Broadway opening.

At the time The Sound of Music premiered on Broadway, Bikel was thirty-five, a decade and a year younger than the real Captain von Trapp was at the time he and Maria first crossed paths.


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