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“Barsoom” (A Filk Song)

23 Feb

 

ab01

This is the edition of A Princess of Mars that I first read

 I’m posting a recording  of  “Barsoom,”  a filk song Gary Robe ran in his fanzine Tennessee Trash for the Southern Fandom Press Alliance (SFPA) a few years back. At the time, I commented on it in my zine, Dumbfounding Stories, and Gary’s next issue featured a revised version of the lyrics, which I also commented on. This process continued back and forth in our zines for almost a year. For trufans and Burroughs Bibliophiles the title will be a tipoff: the song concerns Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Martian novels. Many moons now, I been meaning to record Gary’s finished version of the lyrics. When I got ready to finally do it, I noticed that his finished product was one verse shorter than John Prine’s “Paradise,” to which the music of “Barsoom” is set. I came up with another verse for the recording (verse two), and I made two or three tweaks to Gary’s words–which I hope he’ll forgive me.

I hope you’ll click on the audio icon below and check out the lyrics beneath it. If you like filk, and especially if you like filk and Edgar Rice Burroughs, I think you’ll be glad you did.

 

                           Barsoom

 

A big box of books handed down generations

We found Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars

All summer we spent meeting adventure

With Captain John Carter and his green buddy Tars

REFRAIN:

And Edgar won’t you send me ‘neath the moons of Barsoom

In the red desolation with Dejah and Tars

I’m sorry, cadet, you’re too late to go there

The lander’s cold data has turned it to Mars!

We flew in airships, rode thoats cross the wastelands

Lived by our wits and our swords of cold steel

Faced foes and monsters and found our one true love

It was larger than life and realer than real

REFRAIN

So what can you do with a dusty dead planet?

Make it our second home with some water and air!

It’ll take some nerve and a few generations

But someday we’ll send John Carter up there!

REFRAIN

Grandpa will you see me to the Moons of New Barsoom?

The colony’s ready; I’m starting to pack!

Heads up, Grandson; just get up on that spaceship!

Cause the Terraform Project’s done brought it all back!

LAST REFRAIN:

And Edgar won’t you send me neath the moons of Barsoom

In the red desolation with Dejah and Tars?

No problem, my friend; it’s all there in the pages

Just remember it’s Barsoom; it never was Mars!

“Barsoom” was recorded in Garage Band. I’m doing all the parts except the bass, which my  wife, Dorothy, added.

dumbfounding stories 2 cover

Cover by Pablo Vitruvian

 

 

“Don’t Take Your smell To Town”

9 Sep
cover by Robert E. Gilbert

cover by Robert E. Gilbert

I’m embedding some audio and lyrics in this post, but first some background:

In 1958 Johnny Cash’s “Don’t Take Your Guns To Town” was #1 on the country charts for six weeks. It’s a lugubrious little ditty about a young cowboy who decides to go to town, ignores his mom’s advice to leave his guns at home, and ends up getting gunned down. (This was back when a country act could release an anti-handgun song without kissing his or her career bye-bye.) Around 1962 Howard Shockley, a teenage science-fiction fan from Opelika, Alabama, wrote “Don’t Take Your Smell To Town,”a parody to be sung to the same melody as Cash’s song. In SF fandom such tunes are called filk songs, and I think Shockley’s was a gem. It concerned a young sanitation worker who lived in the city dump and ignored the advice of the song’s title.

The protagonists of both songs were named Billy Joe, and Shockley presented his composition to his buddy at Opelika High, Bill Plott, who himself went by Billy Joe. Plott was fellow SF fan, and quicker than you could say “Great Ghu!”, published Shockley’s filk song in his fanzine, Maelstrom. Plott, for reasons too numerous and largely unspeakable to mention, is actually now somewhat of a legend in SF fandom, but around 1968 he left that subculture for what was to prove many decades. He got drawn back into the fold only in 2012 when he was invited as Guest of Honor at Deep South Con 50. That happy trip inspired him to revive another of his fanzines from long ago, Sporadic, and he has published it bimonthly since. By coincidence, around the same time, Plott reconnected with his old pal Howard Shockley, now a Presbyterian minister in South Carolina. In Sporadic #20 Plott reprinted “Don’t Take Your Smell To Town” much to his old friend’s dismay surprise.

I like to think–imagine, say some–that I can play guitar and sing, and when I saw the lyrics in Sporadic, thought, “Gee, I should record that.” Like most thoughts requiring effort from me if acted on, it was promptly forgotten. Then a few weeks ago, out of the blue, I found myself going into The GarageBand app on my Mac and recording “Don’t Take Your Smell To Town.” Personally, I think The Devil made me do it.

If you want–and how could you not?- you can click on the hypertext below to hear the result. For the record (no pun intended) I’m playing everything on the song except the snare drum. That, I talked my wife Dorothy into playing. Howard Shockley’s lyrics are below the recording.

Don’t_Take_Your_Smell_To_Town_080715

DON’T TAKE YOUR SMELL TO TOWN

By Howard Shockley

A D.S.* boy named Billy Joe grew restless in the Dumps.

He looked across the sea of trash while sitting on a stump.

He said, “I think I’ll leave today to see the whole world ‘round.”

But then he heard his partner say, “Don’t take your smell to town, boy.

You’d better stay at home, Bill.

Don’t take your smell to town.”

Bill just smiled and said to him, “Your boy’s become a man.

“I’ll take a bath, use Listerine, and roll myself in Ban.

“This Air-Wick, too, will help a lot to keep the odor down.”

But again he heard his partner say,

“Don’t take your smell to town, boy;

They’ll run you out of town, Bill.

Don’t take your smell to town.”

Bill jumped in the garbage truck and gave the switch a turn,

The wheels dug in the greasy muck and caused the stuff to churn;

As he drove along the trail, he said “At last, I’m City bound!”

But then echoed the words again, “Don’t take your smell to town, boy;

You’d better stay at home, Bill;

Don’t take your smell to town.”

Bill rode in the little town, a smile across his face;

And of that smell that used to be there wasn’t any trace.

But later on that afternoon, the folks began to frown;

Again he heard the warning words,

“Don’t take your smell to town, boy;

“Leave it here at home, Bill,

Don’t take your smell to town.”

Bill walked in a small saloon to get himself a drink;

A cowpoke cried aloud to all, “Say, what the hell’s that stink?”

Bill put down his drink and saw that no one was around.

Again, he heard the fateful words,

“Don’t take your smell to town, boy;

You’d better stay at home, Bill.’

Don’t take your smell to town.”

Walking to his faithful truck, young Bill began to frown;

He’d left the Dumps to see the World, and it had put him down.

Riding off, he looked around and wondered with a sigh,

Who’d wrote the posters with the words:

“Take your smell from town, boy;

Don’t leave it here with us.

And please don’t take the bus!”

Toward the setting sun he rode, not ever looking back;

Nothing of the job he held could anything detract.

He’s there today, out in the Dumps, his Destiny fulfilled.

His watchword is that sound advice:

“Don’t take your smell to town boy;

You’d better stay at home, Bill.

Don’t take your smell to town.”

** DEPARTMENT OF SANITATION

The tune’s more fun if you’re familiar with Cash’s original, and you can hear that and read the lyrics at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A74Wq0B1WrI.

Outre’ #5

31 Jul

 

Outre' #5, cover

Outre’ #5, cover

The cover above is  from Outre #5, which ran through mailing 34 of The Southern Fandom Press Alliance (SFPA), circa 1968. Ned Brooks, official archivist of of SFPA, was kind enough to provide it for me, along with the text below from the issue . Science-fiction fanzines then and now came in two general types: genzines and apazines. Genzine is short for general interest fanzine, and genzines tend to feature general interest (to SF fans) articles and reviews. Apazines are printed for amateur press alliances, which in science-fiction fandom were (are) much like paper chat rooms. Most apazines feature a section of natter in the front, in which the editor shares some of what has been going on in his or her life, followed by a section of mailing comments, in which the editor comments on the zines done previously by the other members of the apa. “Talk Talk” below, was the natter section from Outre’ #5, and I reprint it here to give you a sample of apa natter and to remind myself what 1968 was like in southern Illinois. You will perhaps notice that none of the natter involves science-fiction. This is actually pretty typical of apazines.

TALK TALK “

We’ll, I had an outline made out of all the wild things

that happened at SIU this Spring, but I lost it, I don’t

feel like outlining it again, so I guess I’ll forget about

writing about them, By wild things I mean there was a sit-

in on our President’s lawn, there were over 4,000 people

there, there were walk-outs in protest of women’s hours by l,000’s

of girls, and somebody burned down Old Main (a classroom

building)- Well, it books like I did right about all the wild things

at SIU, after all — if not in as much detail as I had planned.

I PICKED UP A HITCH HIKER THE OTHER DAY, I’ll usually

pick up a hitch-hiker if he’s got a suitcase: I figure that a

guy must be traveling as opposed to just on the road, if he’s

carrying a suitcase. Anyhow, the first thing he told me was

that he had Just gotten out of prison, which made me feel

real secure. Then, a little later, he told me that my hair

was going to get me killed, “People are tired of these

long-haired trouble makers, boy! They‘re gonna start shooting ‘em

down before long!” He then predicted that the 4th of July

would be the start of a full-scale war against long-hairs.

Damn, it’s scary to know that there are people like that around

As a matter of fact, I’ve been having quite a few strange

experiences on the road. Last Sunday a friend and

I left for SIU. Before getting out of Metropolis we had a

flat. We changed it and waited for over an hour for the tire

to be fixed. After getting the tire fixed and starting off again,

we had gone about fifteen miles out of Metropolis when I heard

a flop-flop-flop that brought me to the sickening realization

that we had another flat. I pulled off the highway onto a

country road to change the tire. It was dark, and we had a

little trouble getting the jack set up and put under the car

correctly. Once we got the car Jacked up, we discovered that

my car-tool wouldn’t budge the nuts. So, my friend hiked to

a nearby farmhouse, and came back with a better car-tool.

With it we quickly changed the tire and were ready to leave.

Then I noticed that we had, not one, but TWO flats. We decided

to walk over to the farmhouse and call a service station.

Of course, when we got there, it turned out that they didn’t

have a phone. However, we were told that the house across

the highway had a phone.

Well, when we reached this house,

the people there turned out to be paranoid. Not that I

blame them for being leery of strangers (freaky strangers, at

that), but they really presented a spectacle. The

wife ran out of sight when we came to the door, and her hus-

band came up to the door and peered out its window with wide

frightened eyes. He wouldn’t let us in the house. Instead,

we had to carry on our conversation by shouting at each other

thru the door, Finally, in this way, we managed to get our problem

across to him and persuaded him to call a filling station for us.

So our second tire was soon repaired, and we were on our

way — but not before finding out why the farmer who had called

the service station was so paranoid. It seems that some

guy had come into the man’s house a couple of months earlier

armed with a shotgun and demanded some

gas for his car. I guess that would have been enough to scare

anyone. But, what is really strange is that the farmer was

somehow able to disarm the stranger and instead of turning

him in to the cops, he pointed the man’s gun at him and said.

“get your gas and leave.” He then held the gun on him as

he filled his tank. And, then as the burglar pulled

off, the farmer threw his gun back in his car. Strange….

One more little twist to this tale: the freaky farmer turned

out to be the uncle of one of my usual riders to SIU. Unfortunately,

this rider wasn’t along on this trip; if he had been

with us, the farmer might have let us in his house.

MISCELLANEOUS TRIVIA DEPARTMENT Restroom walls may be

a hackneyed subject (they have been written on a lot),

but recently the john walls at Morris Library at

SIU have taken an interesting turn. They have become a forum

for racism. Although much of the space is devoted to such unoriginal

entries as “Nigger!”, some interesting dialog has developed.

The following are a few examples:

1. “The Klu Klux Klan is an exclusive fraternity of

high-minded men”

“So are the Black Panthers and Blackstone Rangers.“

2. “It is a medically proven fact that niggers have double

skulls. What does this tell us?”

“That whites will eventually have double skulls. also.”

3. “Go back to Africa, you black apes.”

“My sentiments exactly. Signed. Adolph Hitler.”

The days of white supremacy seem to be over, at least as

far as rest room wall put downs go. Oh, one more restroom

anecdote along the same lines has just occurred to me. In the

dorm that I lived in Fall quarter, the john walls

were covered with writing. The janitor, who was black. was

told to clean it all off. He did his Job well. The walls

were spotless — except for one slogan which he inadvertently

missed: “Wallace Sucks.”

I had a course in Southern history this quarter. I was

struck by the strange names of many of the Southern politicians.

Apparently, a strange name or nickname was necessary

 equipment for a Southern politician in the early 1900’s Here are

a few of the more intriguing names. Cyclone Davis, Stomp

Ashley. Hoke Smith (who unkind newspapers sometimes referred

to as Hoax Myth), James S. Hogg (who must have had a

sadistic sense of humor, as he named his daughter Ima Hogg)

Pitchfork Ben Tillman, and Theodore Bilbo (who was included

for all you Tolkien fans)

And, on that profound note ends this issue’s installment

of Talk Talk.

Om

Om

    Om…

FANDOM. LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT

QUOTES FROM MAYOR DALEY:

On Police Brutality: “Gentlemen, get the thing

Straight once and for all — the policeman isn’t there

to create disorder, the policeman is there to

preserve disorder.”

On Law and Order: “I would assume any (police)

superintendent would issue orders to shoot any arson-

ists on sight.” (April 15, 1968) “There wasn’t any

shoot-to-kill order. That was a fabrication-“

(April 17, 1968)

On the fortunes of politics: “They have vilified

me, they have crucified me; yes, they have even

criticized me.”

On Viet Nam Doves: “Everyone is entitled to his

position, but we need unity as well as division.

Dissent is one thing but division is another.”

(All quotes from –shudder — Time)

Here’s another shot of that cover:

Outre' #5, cover

Outre’ #5, cover

Artist Robert E. Gilbert (REG)

13 Jul

 

Alien landscape by REG

Robert E. Gilbert, who signed his work REG, was arguably the most prolific and popular illustrator of SF fanzines in the 1960s. His covers and interior illos were nearly ubiquitous, particularly in midwestern and southern zines. They appeared everywhere from popular regional zines like IscariotMaelstrom, and Double Bill to Hugo-nominated zines like Yandro and Amra. And he regularly won “Best Fan Artist” in the egoboo polls of the Southern Fandom Press Alliance.

With their generally bold simple lines, his drawings were perfect for the

An REG fanzine illo from the Sixties.

zines of the day, most of which were mimeographed. The mimeograph has gone the way of the VCR, but it was the way most zines were done in the 1960s, and art had to be traced laboriously onto a mimeograph stencil with a metal stylus. So the relative simplicity of REG’s drawings was a plus, but his work was hardly crude; it was well-designed and frequently hinted at some story.

A few years ago I rejoined the Southern Fandom Press Alliance (SFPA), after having been away a mere four decades, and as SFPA’s 50th anniversary approached, some discussion arose about how to commemorate it. I suggested to the group’s official archivist, Ned Brooks, that a portfolio of REG

cover from, Amra, a Sixties Sword & Sorcery fanzine

covers would be an excellent thing to include in the 50th anniversary mailing of SFPA. He demurred–perhaps shrinking from the prospect of rummaging through his 12,000 fanzine archive for REG covers. He did, however, dig up two REG covers and printed them in his zine, The Newport News, using one for the cover of issue.

Having thought of Robert E. Gilbert for the first time in years, I Googled him. I didn’t find a lot, but I did get two surprises. One was that REG had made three professional sales of SF stories. (These can be found at: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/34313) Another was that a gallery had purchased over 400 of his drawings and paintings. Paintings? I never knew REG painted. I found all that interesting but soon forgot about it.

November, 1952 issue of Galaxy, in which REG's story, "A Thought for Tomorrow," appeared.

That’s because, unlike my old friend, Bill Plott, I’m not a seasoned professional journalist. Back when he was in his teens and early twenties, Bill Plott edited a couple of now legendary zines, Maelstrom and Sporadic, before he left SF fandom behind for a distinguished career as a journalist. Much like myself, he was recently drawn back into publishing through SFPA, after four decades away, and resurrected his zine, Sporadic. As he relates in the latest issue (#18) of that zine, this eventually prompted him to delve into his boxes of old fannish material, where he discovered a trove of some 20 unpublished REG illos.

Once he stopped doing backflips around the neighborhood, he got curious: Maybe Robert E. Gilbert was still around. So he Googled him, as I had done, and found the site with all of REG’s paintings at http://www.folkartisans.com. Unlike me, though, he didn’t think, “Oh, that’s interesting,” and shrug it off; he eventually contacted Folk Artisans, a gallery in Mentone, Alabama. First, he went to their website, where he saw that REG, a Tennessean, had died in 1993. Bill sent that information to his friend, genealogist and fellow SFPA member, Larry Montgomery. Larry got back to him with the information that REG was born May 26, 1924 in Sullivan County, Tennessee and died April 4, 1993, seemingly in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Further REG had served in the US ARmy from January 31, 1943 to August 9, 1944.

That was pretty much all they had, until Bill reached one of the gallery owners, Matt Lippa, by phone. In Sporadic 18, Bill writes:

 

Another strange landscape by REG, 1964

He [Matt Lippa] said that they bought the paintings sight-unseen via auction.

“It was very last minute. We got a call from a friend who was going to the auction. We literally had our topcoats and hats on and were heading out the door for a trip when the phone rang. I answered and was told about the art. It was not catalogued, put on at the end and never advertised. I told my friend to bid up to a certain amount–sight unseen. Got a call from him the next night that we got the bid and he would bring it to us.

“We did finally speak with the auctioneer who could give us NO info, and said he tried to get it. He said the family was very uncooperative with information about Gilbert. He was something of an outcast, apparently, and they wanted nothing to do with him. Our Friend took one of them to dinner and a bar and was not able to break through that,” Matt related.

The gallery acquired the collection in 2003.

Later in Sporadic 18, Bill writes:

I have speculated a lot on the estrangement from his [Gilbert’s} estrangement from his family. Living in that mountainous region, I wondered if his family was very fundamentalist and found pictures of scantily clad women sinful. I wonder if it was science fiction, being something just too weird for them to relate to. Or some behavioral situation totally unrelated to his art. We will likely never know.

Like Bill, I’m curious about REG’s black sheep status. I’m also intrigued by the picture of REG that emerges. Estranged from his family, living in a small town in the rural South, creating hundreds of illos for fanzines, writing the occasional SF short story, and painting hundreds of unearthly paintings, few of which, it would seem, ever sold. It’s an archetypical image of the lonely artist, toiling in obscurity.10reg_big

What parts of the picture are we missing though? Does anyone have any more information on Robert E. Gilbert?

To view more of REG’s artwork, go tohttp://www.folkartisans.com.

Robert E. Gilbert in Black and White

6 Jul

kentmcdanielwrites

By Robert E. Gilbert By Robert E. Gilbert

In the 1960s and early 1970s Robert E. Gilbert (or REG as he was known) was a prolific fan artist in science fiction fandom–and a popular one. More than once the members of the Southern Fandom Press Alliance voted him Best Fan Artist, and his work appeared on the covers and inside of Hugo Award winning fanzines such as Yandro and Amra, along with scores of other popular SF fanzines.

Details on his personal life are scant, but ten years after his death in 1993, a trove of some four hundred paintings and black and white drawings by REG surfaced. A folk art gallery in Alabama, Folk Artisans, eventually purchased the works at an auction. Although some of the works have sold, pictures of many of the paintings and drawings are still up at the gallery’s website (www.folkartisans.com).

I wrote about REG’s paintings, many of which…

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A Fantastic Cover

6 Jul

kentmcdanielwrites

Fantastic Stories of Imagination, August, 1962 Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, August, 1962

I’ve always thought the cover to the left, from August, 1962 Fantastic Stories was great.

An internet search for the names of most Sixties Fantasy or SF artists will usually garner significant information. But I found virtually nothing when I Googled the name of Vernon Kramer, who created this cover. All I can tell you is that Kramer did quite a few covers in the Sixties for Fantastic and her sister publication, Amazing Stories. Most of them were arresting paintings, but this would be my favorite.

I’ve just always thought it was haunting and beautiful and evocative. It illustrates (and I suspect inspired) a pretty nice story, “Sword of Flowers.” Back then SF magazines would often buy a well-executed painting and then pay a writer to create a story around it. I’d bet that that was the case here. In any case…

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Gary’s Top Comic Books (of 2012)

6 Jul

kentmcdanielwrites

The following post is by Gary Brown and is reprinted from his zine, Oblio.

Each year I take some time to look back on the previous 12 months and pontificate on what I think were the best dozen comic books of that period.
As in the past, I remind my readers that these are MY opinions. End of sentence. Of course, as a reader and collector of comic books for more than 50 years, I believe I’m qualified to put my own judgmental stamp on what is good and what is not so good. This year, I estimate I read between 800-1,00 comic books.
I also need to point out that I don’t read every comic book that comes out, meaning there is no doubt that there are titles that I miss or totally ignore here that should be mentioned. So, use that to balance just how you accept…

View original post 938 more words