Blog Archives

Moe Howard and Milestones of Science

Today is Moe Howard’s birthday!

Guest Blogger: David J. Hogan, author of Three Stooges FAQ , writes a little something in honor of the ornery Stooge with the bowl haircut. Enjoy!

Study the swirls and eddies of history long enough, and you’ll uncover intriguing, often unexpected links between scientists, scientific discovery, and science’s practical applications. The history of science is very plastic, existing in a state of continual evolution, building upon its past to enliven the present and presage the future.

Across the many centuries, obvious giants stand out: Archimedes and Copernicus. Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. Thomas Edison and Stephen Hawking.

Moe Howard.

Oh, I can hear the snorts of disbelief. Well, that’s fine, that’s good. Scientific minds should be skeptical. But disputes can be resolved via solid scientific inquiry, so open your scientific journals to page 1 and follow along:

  • In 240 BCE, the Greek astronomer and mathematician Eratosthenes utilized measurement and geometry to show that the Earth is curved. In 1957, Moe pilots the spaceship built by dotty Prof. Rimple, blasting into space (“We’re above the world!” Larry cries) to reveal that Earth is indeed round. (Space Ship Sappy)
  •  As part of a modernization project in 1816, Baltimore’s city council granted permission for the Gas Light Company to lay miles of gas pipe. When Moe and the boys impersonate cooks in 1941, and try to come up with dinner for a houseful of swells, Larry collapses a birthday cake after puncturing it with a fork. Thinking quickly, Moe hooks the cake to a kitchen gas line and orders Larry to “Pump in four more slices!” The cake shortly explodes all over the guests, but, really, is that Moe’s problem? (An Ache in Every Stake)
  • Michigan astronomer Robert R. McMath took the first film footage of sun spots in 1934. His achievement rested partly on his ability to utilize complex instruments—in this case, the spectroheliokinematograph. Pressed into off-the-cuff surgery in 1946, Moe makes handy use of instruments that would have astonished McMath: the trectahomlachtameter and the even more wondrous hamadanaseenafarin. Meanwhile, the unanesthetized patient (Curly) struggles to retain a shred of composure. (Monkey Businessmen)
  • In 1977, following years of effort by 70,000 scientists, engineers, and construction workers, the Trans-Alaska pipeline began pumping oil on an 800-mile journey southward, from Alaska’s North Slope, on the shore of the Arctic Ocean, to the Alaskan port city of Valdez.  In 1939, the scientifically inclined Moe briefly waggles a screwdriver in the spout of a water pump and unleashes an unending gusher of black gold. (Oily to Bed, Oily to Rise)
  • A 1987 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Louisiana’s creationism education law, by which the state mandated that, if evolution were taught in public schools, creationism must be taught, as well. Evolution and creationism collide head-on in 1948, as the cavemen Stooges bathe, hunt, and rescue their cavegirl mates from marauding rivals. Moe slathers his head with lard and combs his hair with a fish’s spine. Later, he babbles like a 20th-century teenager while enthusing about his prehistoric sweetheart. (I’m a Monkey’s Uncle)

Each of the real-life scientific accomplishments noted above occurred on June 19, Moe Howard’s birthday. Vectors of science and history, coming together!

Happy 116th, Moe! The world can never repay you for your lifetime devotion to big science and, of course, big laffs.

Three Stooges FAQ

This entertaining and informative study of the Three Stooges focuses on the nearly 190 two-reel short comedies the boys made at Columbia Pictures during the years 1934-59. Violent slapstick? Of course, but these comic gems are also peerlessly crafted and enthusiastically played by vaudeville veterans Moe, Larry, Curly, Shemp, and Joe – arguably the most popular and long-lived screen comics ever produced by Hollywood.

Detailed production and critical coverage is provided for every short, plus information about each film’s place in the Stooges’ careers, in Hollywood genre filmmaking, and in the larger fabric of American culture. From Depression-era concerns to class warfare to World War II to the cold war to rock-and-roll – the Stooges reflected them all.

Seventy-five stills, posters, and other images – many never before published in book form – bring colorful screen moments to life and help illuminate the special appeal of key shorts. Exclusive sections include a Stooges biographical and career timeline; a useful, colorful history of the structure and behind-the-camera personnel of the Columbia two-reel unit; and personality sidebars about more than 30 popular players who worked frequently with the Stooges. Also included is a filmography that covers all 190 shorts, plus a bibliography, making this the ultimate guide for all Three Stooges fans!

Funny: The Body 2

Funny: The Book is by David Misch

“FUNNY: THE BODY 2”

— They picked the wrong kid.

— Let’s face it, there’s nothing funnier than a nail in the eye.

— Unless it’s a mechanical rhino excreting a movie star.

— Testicle’s beast friend.

Funny: The Book

Funny: The Book is an entertaining look at the art of comedy, from its historical roots to the latest scientific findings, with diversions into the worlds of movies (Buster Keaton and the Marx Brothers), television (The Office), prose (Woody Allen, Robert Benchley), theater (The Front Page), jokes and stand-up comedy (Richard Pryor, Steve Martin), as well as personal reminiscences from the author’s experiences on such TV programs as Mork and Mindy.

Book Reviews on Bookgasm Blog

This week, we are highlighting some bloggers and podcasters who frequently review our books and interview our authors. Do check out these blogs and podcasts for all the great content they have to offer.

Bookgasm Blog
Bookgasm the site dedicated to READING MATERIAL TO GET EXCITED ABOUT. That includes all kinds of genre fiction, from horror and sci-fi to mystery and suspense. It also includes graphic novels, trashy paperbacks, cheap magazines and other things that much of America pretends to be ashamed of, for no good reason. At BOOKGASM, we celebrate these escapist efforts, through daily news, reviews, interviews and other things that don’t end in “-ews.” Think of it as a community; we encourage your posts via the comments section under each item. Visit bookgasm.com for reviews and excerpts.

John D. Luerssen is the author of U2 FAQ.
John D. Luerssen discovered a new band called U2 in the early ‘80s just like a lot of us did: through word of mouth. And like many of us early adopters, he’s been a fan ever since. Culled from books, magazine articles, interviews and his own research, his U2 FAQis an exhaustive collection of nearly anything and everything you want to know about “the biggest band in the world.”

Predictably, it begins with the requisite biographical tidbits regarding each band member (all five of them … and how they became four). We learn about Bono’s strained relationship with his father, Adam Clayton’s penchant for being a prankster, and the group’s struggle with balancing spirituality with their desire to be rock stars. Luerssen details how Bono met Alison Stewart and the start of their 30-year, monogamous (yeah, right) relationship.

Reading about their early years is the most entertaining part of the book. It seems nothing is left out. Did you know their first paid gig was at St. Fintan’s High School in Dublin? The year was 1977 and they were billed as Feedback. This was before they switched to The Hype and ultimately settling with the name we all recognize today. Avid fans will have likely heard much of this stuff before, but not in as much detail.

For more please visit bookgasm.

U2 FAQ

These are just some of the topics U2 FAQ explores: How did Bono recover his cherished suitcase of lyrics 23 years after its 1981 disappearance? What movie dialogue is sampled in the middle of “Seconds”? What effect did bull’s blood have on Larry’s drumming? How did Bono’s visit to Central America inform The Joshua Tree? What are the details of Adam’s 1989 marijuana bust? How did Mick Jagger wind up on All That You Can’t Leave Behind?

Award-winning music journalist John D. Luerssen goes beyond the essential facts, delving into the legendary fables and unique anecdotes that make U2 FAQ an indispensable read for all U2 disciples.

Stephen Tropiano is the author of Music on Film: Cabaret.

As far as I’m concerned, the 1973 Academy Awards was the setting of what has to be the biggest upset in the event’s history. That year, the Oscar for Best Picture went to a film you might have heard of called THE GODFATHER, but instead of awarding the prize for Best Director to Francis Ford Coppola, the Academy’s voters instead gave it to Bob Fosse for his work on CABARET.

Can you friggin’ believe that? Have you heard anything so completely bug-nuts insane? There’s no way THE GODFATHER should have gotten Best Picture!

Okay, so I realize that mine is probably the minority view, but its not for nothing that despite losing out the top prize that year, CABARET totally kicked THE GODFATHER’s ass, with Fosse’s film taking home eight Oscars (including Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Cinematography) to Coppola’s measly four.

As Stephen Tropiano documents in MUSIC ON FILM: CABARET, his far-too-brief book about the making of Fosse’s first cinematic masterpiece (he would go one to make at least one more with ALL THAT JAZZ), the reason for this is simple: THE GODFATHER merely took a disreputable genre and gave it class, while CABARET took a dying genre and completely reinvented it in such a way that it was never really the same again.

For more please visit bookgasm.

Music on Film: Cabaret

In 1973, Cabaret walked away with eight Academy Awards, including gold statues for director Bob Fosse and for its stars, Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey. Based on the long-running Broadway musical, with a memorable score by John Kander and Fred Ebb, Cabaret is a landmark film that broke new cinematic ground by revolutionizing the Hollywood musical through its treatment of adult themes and art house sensibility. With an introduction by Joel Grey, the book chronicles the history of Cabaret, from Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories to the stage and film versions of John van Druten’s play I Am a Camera, through the adaptation of the hit Broadway musical for the big screen. Readers will get an insider’s look into the making of the film, the creative talent in front of the camera and behind the scenes, and why this divinely decadent musical continues to captivate audiences.

Michael Molenda is the editor of Guitar Player Presents Guitar Heroes of the ’70s.

Much like the recent KEYBOARD PRESENTS SYNTH GODS, there’s another new collection of profiles and interviews torn from the pages of a niche music magazine, in GUITAR PLAYER PRESENTS GUITAR HEROES OF THE ’70S.

Culled from issues printed between 1970 and 1984, the book spotlights a solid 40, well, heroes of the guitar, just as the title promises. I’ve never so much as touched an issue of GUITAR PLAYER, but it was quite popular among the stoners who rode my school bus in junior high.

For more please visit bookgasm.

Guitar Player Presents Guitar Heroes of the ’70S

Launched in 1967, Guitar Player was the only guitar publication in existence when the ’60s and ’70s six-string explosion ignited across the globe. As a result, Guitar Player interviewed scores of seminal guitar stars as the magic happened. Now Guitar Player has opened its archives to present a thrilling collection of articles that detail the equipment and tone explorations of transcendent guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Duane Allman, Steve Howe, Peter Green, and many others. Every article originally appeared in the 1970s, when these young guns were in the midst of conjuring world-changing guitar sounds, riffs, and musical concepts – all building the foundation for what has become revered as “classic rock.” Anyone wishing to study the building blocks of what drove audiences to first utter the phrase “Guitar Hero” can now get the story straight from the players who earned the title.

Alain Silver and James Ursini is the author of The Vampire Film.

When I was in high school in the late ’80s, my mom sometimes came home from the discount stores with some enormous hardcover on the history of cinema (i.e. 70 YEARS AT THE MOVIES). They were heavy in both text and photos, and comprised of essays that dropped so many names and titles, my head spun with the sudden knowledge that so much existed beyond the local video store.

I still have these books, and have pored over their pages several times; one page in particular is ingrained on my brain, likely because of a black-and-white photo of a topless Sophia Loren in her prime.

THE VAMPIRE FILM: FROM NOSFERATU TO TRUE BLOOD reminds me of those books, minus the Sophia Loren. Generously massive at nearly 500 pages, there’s simply so much content to take in, you’ll won’t be able to read it at first, because you’ll be forced to look at all the photos and poster art beforehand, which dominate each spread in vibrant color.

Skip the initial chapters on historical vampires and the creature’s roots in literature (and art and the stage and music and on and on), because after all, the key word in the title is “film.” That’s where authors Alain Silver and James Ursini get to the nitty gritty, tracking the history of the pointy-toothed monsters on the big screen, from the early days of Nosferatu, Carmilla and Dracula to the more modern outings of Vampire Bill, Lestat and, well, Dracula.

For more please visit bookgasm.

The Vampire Film

This newest edition will track the form’s evolution from such 1970s reinventions as Count Yorga Vampire and Blacula, The Hunger and Vampire’s Kiss in the Eighties, Interview with the Vampire, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and the Blade series in the Nineties, through 30 Days of Night, I Am Legend, and the Underworld series in the first decade of the 21st century. All these films plus celebrated international examples such as Thirst and Let the Right One In and the hit television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, New Amsterdam, Angel, The Vampire Diaries, and True Blood are covered in this long-awaited, completely revised, expanded, and redesigned fourth edition that follows the vampire figures, both male and female, through the millennium and beyond.

David Hogan is the author of Three Stooges FAQ.

With the Farrelly brothers bringing THE THREE STOOGES to screen next spring, the beloved slapstick troupe is primed for a resurgence of fandom. Sensing this, Applause Books has released THREE STOOGES FAQ: EVERYTHING LEFT TO KNOW ABOUT THE EYE-POKING, FACE-SLAPPING, HEAD-THUMPING GENIUSES.

David Hogan’s book is not quite that. For one thing, it ignores the movies; it’s only concerned with their comedy shorts. Of course, that’s mainly what they were and are known for, so that’s really just a quibble. Nor is it a reference work, but like one giant essay.

For more please visit bookgasm.

The Three Stooges FAQ

Detailed production and critical coverage is provided for every short, plus information about each film’s place in the Stooges’ careers, in Hollywood genre filmmaking, and in the larger fabric of American culture. From Depression-era concerns to class warfare to World War II to the cold war to rock-and-roll – the Stooges reflected them all.

Seventy-five stills, posters, and other images – many never before published in book form – bring colorful screen moments to life and help illuminate the special appeal of key shorts. Exclusive sections include a Stooges biographical and career timeline; a useful, colorful history of the structure and behind-the-camera personnel of the Columbia two-reel unit; and personality sidebars about more than 30 popular players who worked frequently with the Stooges. Also included is a filmography that covers all 190 shorts, plus a bibliography, making this the ultimate guide for all Three Stooges fans!

Check out some excerpts from bookgasm:

1. Surf Beat by Kent Crowley

2. The Vampire Film by Alain Silver and James Ursini

3. Three Stooges FAQ by David J. Hogan

4. Exit Music: The Radiohead Story by Mac Randall

Three Stooges FAQ (excerpt)

This entertaining and informative study of the Three Stooges, available now in honor of the act’s 75th anniversary, focuses on the nearly 190 two-reel short comedies the boys made at Columbia Pictures during the years 1934-59. Violent slapstick? Of course, but these comic gems are also peerlessly crafted and enthusiastically played by vaudeville veterans Moe, Larry, Curly, Shemp, and Joe – arguably the most popular and long-lived screen comics ever produced by Hollywood.

Available now from Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

An excerpt:

In 1934, at the beginning of the Stooges’ tenure at Columbia—and for one film only—executives were not completely sure of how to showcase them. As we’ve seen, Columbia was a “minor major” that hadn’t the resources to make use of the boys’ talents in the MGM manner. But Columbia had established a “Musical Novelty” shorts series in 1933, and had the services of a vivacious blonde starlet named Marjorie White.

A Canadian native who stood just 4’10”, White had energy and screen presence to spare. (She also had a wisecracking, New York-style attitude that belied her Canadian origins.) During 1929–31, she’d been under contract to Fox Film Corporation, appearing in nine pictures. White sang and danced, and knew her way around a page of dialogue. She’d had leads and second leads in comedies and musicals at Fox, and found similar success later in pictures for First National, Universal, Paramount, and RKO.

Continue reading on Bookgasm


David J. Hogan has written about film since 1973. He has contributed essays to numerous multiauthor books and is a prolific magazine reviewer. A onetime entertainment journalist formerly based in L.A., Hogan has worked on the editorial side of Chicago book publishing for more than 25 years, conceiving, editing, and co-writing books on history, aviation, vintage cars, popular music, the military, politics, television, and yes, movies. He lives with his family in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

Born on This Day in 1902, Larry Fine Finds Yet Another Reason to Appreciate Mothers!

Guest Blogger: David J. Hogan is the author of Three Stooges FAQ (Applause Books)

I spoke with Larry Fine for the first time in 1972, after we’d been corresponding for a while and he expressed curiosity about my family. I told him that my father was a commercial artist and that my mother had been a model. I enclosed some recent photos, and although Mom hadn’t been a model for twenty years she remained very beautiful—which is why I spoke with Larry Fine for the first time because he called me.

Well, he really called to talk with my mother. I felt rather abused. After all, I’d started the correspondence, and now my mother was hogging the phone and monopolizing precious time with my favorite Stooge.

I finally got the phone away and Larry chatted with me amiably, telling me all about vaudeville gigs he’d played in northern Ohio (I lived outside of Cleveland), and giving me a sense of life on the road before he and the boys hit it big.

We had other conversations and exchanged many more letters, but get this: Larry’s letters to me were on his standard orange stationery, but the letters he sent to my Mom were on special white stationery decorated at the top by a delightful caricature of Larry playing the violin.

I always figured that my mother was something of an operator, and here was proof!

Three Stooges FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Eye-Poking, Face-Slapping, Head-Thumping Geniuses

  Written by David J. Hogan
  Published by Applause Theatre & Cinema Books

This entertaining and informative study of the Three Stooges focuses on the nearly 200 career-making two-reel short comedies the boys made at Columbia Pictures during the years 1934-57. Violent slapstick? Of course, but these comic gems are also peerlessly crafted and enthusiastically played by vaudeville veterans Moe, Larry, Curly, Shemp, and Joe – arguably the most popular and long-lived screen comics ever produced by Hollywood.

Detailed production and critical coverage is provided for every short, plus information about each film’s place in the Stooges’ careers, in Hollywood genre filmmaking, and in the larger fabric of American culture.

Available for purchase now from Applause Books.