The Best of Peter Tork

While other young boys wanted to be spacemen or firefighters, I wanted to be in a band just like the Monkees. I’d write music and have wacky adventures. That was my fantasy.

I taught myself how to play a passable guitar and piano and later was in a number of bands (playing bass), writing and performing my own songs. Never had that many wacky adventures, though…

About a year ago, I teamed up with popular culture historian Mark Arnold and wrote a book about the Monkees’ music, which was published by Bear Manor Media.Monkees cover

So you can guess that Peter Tork’s death yesterday was a blow to my childhood. It wasn’t completely unexpected — he had stayed out of public for the last year for undisclosed medical reasons. Still, it hits you.

I can go into detail about his career but there are plenty of places where you can read that. I’ll just point out that Peter was the most talented musician of the group, and was very frustrated by the fact that he thought he had been hired to be in a television band but they didn’t allow him to play on any of the records (at first). Later, his keyboard playing especially made a big difference to the songs (see “Daydream Believer,” “Randy Scouse Git” and “The Girl I Knew Somewhere” and notice how important the keys are to those songs).

He was not the best singer and not the best songwriter. Still, he wrote a few really great songs for the Monkees. Let’s review:

FOR PETE’S SAKE was the song he wrote that got used as the closing theme to the show the second year. Peter plays the distinctive guitar riff that opens the song. You all know this one:  “In this generation…”

CAN YOU DIG IT? was a wonderful hippie anthem that was part of the Monkees’ film “Head.”

Also from “Head” is LONG TITLE: DO I HAVE TO DO THIS ALL OVER AGAIN? (and now you get the title of our book, too). Peter gets to sing on this one!

Later, during one of the Monkees reunions, he wrote GETTIN’ IN, an 80s pop ballad that would have fit right in with “Ghostbusters” and “Pop Musik” had it been released as a single.

Around this same time, he had a great song called MGBGT, but there’s only live versions of the Monkees performing it.

He wrote more, but these are my favorites.

So here’s to Peter! (And if you want to read more about the Monkees’ music, I have a suggestion…)

Release the Virgins!

Many bloggers have donate buttons so you can support their work and help them pay the fees to the web host. Not me.

I just ask you to buy my books.  It’s a win-win! I get another book sale and you get to not only keep reading my blog, but have fun with a new book!

My latest — coming only a month after my last novel “Big Stick” — is an anthology I edited which contains stories from some of the top writers in science fiction and fantasy!

The idea was simple: Each story had to contain the phrase “release the virgins.” We even had a humorous short promotional video made which features all of the writers (and me)!

Look at this great lineup of stories:

“Valedictory” by Lawrence Watt-Evans
“Sidekicked” by Hildy Silverman
“Command Decision” by Steve Miller
“Are You There, Cthulhu? It’s Me, Judy” by Beth W. Patterson
“Innocence Lost” by Gail Z. Martin
“How Mose Saved the Virgins of Old New York” by Allen M. Steele
“The Fires of Rome” by Jody Lynn Nye
“Salvage” by Shariann Lewitt
“The Midwinter of Our Discontent” by Keith R.A. DeCandido
“Coming Attractions” by Daniel M. Kimmel
“Cracking the Vault” by Matt Bechtel
“The Coffee Corps” by Alex Shvartsman
“The Vestals of Midnight” by Sharon Lee
“Paradisiacal Protocols” by Gordon Linzner
“Brass Tacks” by Cecilia Tan
“Old Spirits” by Brian Trent
“The Running of the Drones” by Patrick Thomas
“Dangerous Virgins” by David Gerrold

It’s available in hard cover, paperback, kindle or nook versions!  Upon its release, it even made the top 10 for “science fiction anthologies” on Amazon.

So grab a copy yourself and release the virgins!

virgins cover jpg

Best and Worst Animated Films of 2018

Back when I was young, I was happy to see even one new animated film a year. Now there’s practically one a week.

In the 80s, I started a magazine called “Animato!” that later grew quite large and popular. I got to meet and interview great animators like Chuck Jones and Ralph Bakshi but later sold the magazine, and it went on to even bigger successes until the internet killed all magazines.51MKTRQpAhL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

So I’m still an animation fan, but it’s basically impossible to see all the films and all the animated TV shows these days unless you’re a full-time animator or animation historian, I guess.

There were some really great films this year I did get to catch, though.

These days, with so much CGI, we can debate what an “animated film” even is, but generally the accepted definition is that the main characters must be animated — not just the monsters or effects. (And “motion capture” doesn’t count.)

So here’s the end-of-the-year list of best and worst animated films (based on their Rotten Tomatoes score).  It only includes films that actually were released to theaters and had at least five reviews in order to get a Rotten Tomatoes score. (Lots of bad films go directly to DVD or cable.) Ties are broken by number of reviews.

  1. Paddington 2 (100%)
  2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (97%)
  3. Incredibles 2 (94%)
  4. Teen Titans Go to the Movies (91%)
  5. Mirai (91%)
  6. Isle of Dogs (89%)
  7. Ralph Breaks the Internet (89%)
  8. Mary and the Witches’ Flower (87%)
  9. Sgt. Stubby (86%)
  10. Early Man (81%)
  11. Liz and the Blue Bird (78%)
  12. Smallfoot (75%)
  13. Peter Rabbit (64%)
  14. Hotel Transylvania 3 (59%)
  15. The Grinch (57%)
  16. Sherlock Gnomes (27%)
  17. Monster Family (10%)

 

Norwegian Would (This Trump has Flown)

I once had a job raking the leaves
Out in the woods
A socialist job keeping them safe
The best I could

A Scandinavian task that was needed it seems
I moved the leaves from the forest and into the streams

So day after day I raked away
Down through the snow
“An important task” they’d say when I’d ask
I didn’t know

It was demeaning and tiring and I couldn’t see
How this was a process done in any other country

So one day I stopped and took a break
There’s my mistake
The forest caught fire
I didn’t do good
But a Norwegian would

fire-2-2

To Tell The Truth!

My award-winning artist wife Heidi Hooper will be a guest on the ABC TV show “To Tell the Truth” this Sunday, June 17th, 10 pm EST.  Heidi makes art out of dryer lint! Consumer Reports has called her “The Andy Warhol of Dryer Lint” and To Tell The Truth flew us out to Hollywood (all expenses paid!) to film the show last summer — and it’s finally going to be on!

Please watch and support her!

1134728318_10157404840883306_7148639091830030336_n34813378_10157404841648306_4230411089977802752_nHeidi and Mel

Release the Virgins!

Okay, time for a commercial break.

Announcing a kickstarter campaign for a new anthology (edited by me!) where the only requirement is that each story must contain the line “release the virgins” somewhere within. We have commitments so far from award-winning authors David Gerrold, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Jody Lynn Nye, Allen Steele, Steve Miller, Sharon Lee, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Gail Z. Martin, Cecilia Tan, Patrick Thomas, Shariann Lewitt, Alex Shvartsman, Hildy Silverman, and Daniel M. Kimmel. More will be added (especially if we raise enough from the kickstarter).

Pledge and reserve your book today (and/or get other goodies)!: https://www.kickstarter.com/p…/667435382/release-the-virgins

First Drafts: Book Titles

Previous first drafts:  Band names and Movie titles

Here are my favorites in the “book title” competition (and the ones that got the most “likes”).  And if you want to join in future ones, send a Facebook friend request.
books.jpg

Michael A. Ventrella

  • The Okay Gatsby
  • War and Not-War
  • Donkey Hotey
  • The Left Pinkie of Darkness
  • The Sound and the Furries
  • The Catcher in the Pumpernickel
  • Ringworm
  • Strawberry Finn
  • The Selfie of Dorian Gray
  • J, Robot
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep?
  • The Man who Folded His Wallet
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hellos

Ef Deal

  • Moby Bob

Kelly Allard

  • To Seriously Injure a Mockingbird
  • Moby’s Dick

David Gerrold

  • Stranger In A Strange Place
  • The Puppet Monsters
  • Time For Enough Love
  • The Left Hand of Dorkness
  • The Grapes of Rage

Van Tilburg

  • Beau Jest
  • Harry Pothead and The Goblet of Weed

Murray Blehart

  • Okay Omens
    The Dragon-Walkers of Pern

Henry Hart

  • The Stray Cat, the New-Age Yoga Teacher, and the End Table

Christine Norris

  • A Crease in Time

James Ryan

  • Gone With the Light Breeze
  • Sooner Rather Than Later, Voyager
  • Tinker, Seamstress, Reservist, Snitch
  • A Streetcar Named Intrigued
  • Steppenpuppy

L.M. Kate Johnston

  • Fifty Shades of Neigh

Chuck Rothman

  • Middling Expectations

Dean Herrmann

  • The King James Babble
  • A Christmas Carly

Jesse Hendrix

  • A Haunakah Hymn
  • The Old Man and the Pond
  • Casino Royale with Cheese

Joe Niedbala

  • Heart of Dimness
  • Lady Chatterly’s Liver
  • An Arbor Day Carol

Drew Bittner

  • Howard’s Midsection

Cheryl Lynn Jones

  • Green Eggs and Food Poisoning

David Sweeney

  • A Tree Grows on Staten Island

Larry Hodges

  • The Wizard of Ounces

Steven Morgenlander

  • Boss of the Bracelets

Jonnan West

  • The Man in the Aluminium Foil Mask

Nicci Burnside

  • Gulliver’s Staycation
  • The Call of The Domesticated

Scott Gillespie

  • Concern and Dislike in Las Vegas
  • Plucky New World

J.A. Fludd

  • Pride and Mistaken Assumption
  • Crime and Plea Bargain

Pam Smith

  • No County for Millennials
  • Nurse Yes

Paul Boyle

  • Civil Disagreement on the Bounty

Farber Bunny

  • Around the Neighborhood in 80 Minutes
  • The Second Cousins From A Previous Marriage Karamozavs
  • 10,000 millimeters under the Sea
  • The Past Puberty But Not Yet Middle Age Man and the Sea

Gary Dowell

  • The Hatchback of Notre Dame

J. Spike Rogan

  • Goodnight Reverend Sun Myung Moon

Sam Norman

  • The Moon is a Rude Girlfriend

Thom Truelove

  • The Dunce and Future King

Chris Impink

  • The Sternly-Worded Letter of the Worlds
  • Do Androids Dream of Book Titles?
  • A Tryst with Rama
  • I Have No Mouth and Would Like a Breath Mint
  • The Martian Direct Mail Circulars