Announcing my latest literary endeavor... the soon-to-be-published biography:
Pre-publication kudos for Bringing Sexy Back: The Resurrection of George Michael:
"If I still recommended books, I'd recommend this one!" -- Oprah
"A masterpiece!" -- James Frey
"Nonfiction that reads like a novel; kept me up at night!" -- Margaret "B. Jones" Seltzer
"Wish I'd thought of this one!" -- Clifford Irving
While we are on the subject of hoaxes... here's a few of the most outrageous ones in the publishing world... hard to believe some of these people almost carried these off... but what's that old saying? "Fool me once, shame on me..."
1. Clifford Irving and the Howard Hughes biography: Tycoon, aviator, playboy, Hollywood legend-turned-hermit Howard Hughes intrigued the American public throughout his eccentric life. During the late 1960s to mid 1970s, the mystery surrounding him deepened. He became a recluse, so isolated that many believed him to be dead, whereas others thought he had simply gone completely crazy. This ambiguity fed the public’s fascination, which spawned a media obsession. Realizing that there was an opportunity to make a load of cash in the marketplace, author Clifford Irving set out to do what no one else had done. Clifford convinced his publisher, McGraw-Hill, that Howard Hughes commissioned him to write his biography. He told his representatives that the book would be based on interviews conducted with Howard. In actuality, he never met Hughes and faked the interviews, believing that "Howard Hughes was too ill to
come forward and repudiate the book.” After all, Howard had not been seen publicly since 1958 and as far as he knew the man could have really been dead. Of course, it all unraveled in the end. But the nonsense did serve to provoke Hughes to crawl out from under his rock to denounce the fraud and give the hungry public one more glimpse at the man behind the legend.
2. James Frey fools Oprah: A Millions Little Pieces, which purports to show how Frey's drug addiction landed him in a hospital, jail and, finally, rehab begins with this lovely image: "My clothes are covered with a colorful mixture of spit, snot, urine, vomit
and blood. Oprah Winfrey selected it for her book club in 2005 and sales rocketed. However, the smart cookies at The Smoking Gun smelt something suspicious and, rooting around, found out that his so-called "criminal record" and life in the underworld of drug abuse was highly embellished. Frey spent just 3 hours in jail, not the 87 days as he had claimed. Scandal ensued.
3. Oprah: Won't Get Fooled Again! You think she would have learned the first time. But shame on her. After the Frey debacle, Oprah got herself involved in another literary hoax. After chatting with Holocaust survivor Herman Rosenblat on her show as he promoted his memoir Angel at the Fence, O declared it was "the single greatest love story" she had ever heard. Unfortunately, like Frey, Rosenblat
had considerably embroidered his life story. That romantic part about meeting his wife after she began secretly tossing apples and bread to him over the fence at the Buchenwald concentration camp? Total balderdash. He actually met her years later! (I mean, who really cares that the entire plot, not to mention its title, is based on this assertion.) When numerous Holocaust scholars questioned the book's authenticity and noted that the physical layout of Buchenwald would not have been conducive to clandestine meetings, Rosenblat confessed. The book's release was cancelled. Rosenblat ranks right up there with disgraced author Misha Defonseca, whose A Memoir of the Holocaust Years about escaping the Nazis and being raised by wolves turned out to be not true in the least. (I'm shocked, simply shocked!)
4. Oprah's not the only one: The same publisher, Penguin Books, that was taken in by Rosenblat's Angel at the Fence bought and promoted Love and Consequences, the purported autobiography of Margaret B. Jones. The memoir tells of her childhood as a half white/half Indian girl living in a black foster home in gang-infested South Central LA. She passes time running drugs for The Bloods. When the book hit the bestseller list, the author's older sister recognized her photograph in The New York Times. Turns out that "homegirl" Jones is actually Margaret Seltzer, a thirtysomething Valley Girl raised by her biological parents, who attended a very white, very upscale Episcopalian school. At least Oprah wasn't taken in by this one! She knows a Vanilla wafer when she sees one.
Just goes to show you that a lot of people weren't listening to the professor in their Writing 101 class: if you are going to write about your life and add things that aren't true to spice it up a bit, you call it a "novel," not a "memoir."
Okay, so now that I have managed to get JohnBr02 a recording contract and convinced George Michael to go back on tour, with an orchestra, no less [don't believe me, check out his website! ;-) ] I have definitely raised my level of influence on Klout.
But I jest! Not for me the self-promotion that drives many to chirp away and fill the air with endless, aimless chatter: "look at what I'm doing," while the quiet ones are actually doing, and just not talking about it.
"Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air." -- Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard Thomas Gray (1716-71).
I am not an expert hoaxer, but do check out David Cardinal's entertaining and revealing article at Extreme Tech on the 8 Greatest Tech Hoaxes in History. It's a trip down memory lane... for those with long memories!
After having spent two afternoons spring cleaning, including windows, I realized why the world needs George. Like Frank, he just makes everything more enjoyable. Classy, swanky, whatever. George even makes scouring the nooks and crannies of window sills tolerable! This guy, Johnbr02, understands:
And so does this guy:
And him, too:
And he's not just a pretty face; he actually knows music:
Today I pose the question: Aging superstar most in need of a comeback?
My answer: George Michael
While I am sure that he would insist that he never left, I would posit that his potent, velvety-smooth voice has been missing from the top-of-the-pops scene for far too long. The man has one of the most versatile and beautiful voices ever recorded; he needs to be heard---NOW!
When you think of 80's pop music, you probably think of Madonna, Duran Duran, the Bangles, Prince, Michael Jackson, and, yes, Wham!, the duo that George formed with his boyhood chum Andrew Ridgeley (who is definitely residing in the "where are they now?" file).
The Wham! era saw George blossom as a singer-songwriter possessed of pure pop craftsmanship. Even today, songs such as "Careless Whisper" and "Everything She Wants" sound fresh because of their precise construction. Okay, the synthesizers sound a little old in 2012 and that saxophone break in "Whisper" is a little cheesy, but I dare you to resist the glamorous melodies and the tight, spot-on lyrics. "Freedom" riffs on the luscious 60's girl-group sounds and "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" sounds as stupidly bouncy as ever!
In the late 80's, George went solo and produced Faith, the album and the single, which resonated with its Bo Diddley beat. It's the epitome of a butt-shaker. Then there's the kinda-creepy, kinda-compelling "Father Figure:" "I will be your father figure, put your tiny hand in mine..." Hmmm, okay, let's not go there. Let's just enjoy the transcendant beauty of the music and the voice as the bridge overwhelms us and we do remember the ones who have lied, who said that they cared but then left as we cried and George reassures us that we won't be thinking of him in these moments because all he ever wanted... "is in your eyes."
In 1990, George took his Eighties pop sensibility and broadened and refined it
on Listen Without Prejudice, Volume I. The somber lead single, "Praying for Time," took a distraught look at the world's festering wounds (and is still astonishingly relevant to our society now, in 2012). In "Freedom 90," which combines dance beats with soaringly vital gospel choruses, George shared confessional secrets with his audience and challenged us to rise above. He wised-up enough to admit that, in the past, "it was enough for me, to win the race, a prettier face, brand new clothes and a big fat place, on your rock and roll TV." But he was endeavoring to leave the apparently embarrassing butt-shaking Faith era behind: "Posing for another picture, everybody's got to sell, but when you shake your ***, they notice fast, and some mistakes were built to last." This is a far cry from the man who unabashedly titled a Wham! album Make It Big. Here was a singer who wanted to be taken seriously as an artist.
Unfortunately, George's fans seemed to prefer the butt-shaker, because Listen Without Prejudice, while a million-seller, never reached the heights of multi-platinum Faith. He fought with his record company, released a couple of CDs, came out, but never regained his place at pop's pinnacle. In 2008, George withdrew from touring, saying he wanted a "more private life" and that, at 45, he felt a bit old for the game: "I think pop music should be about youth culture," he told the BBC. "It shouldn't be an endurance test."
Well, I'm here to say he's wrong. Some areas of pop culture may be for youth, but did Frank Sinatra cede pop music to the young? Hell, in his early 50's, he was topping the charts with "A Very Good Year," "Strangers in the Night," and his collaborations with Antonio Carlos Jobim. Did Tony Bennett cede pop music to the young? He's still recording duets in his mid-80's, and sounding fab. So why not George Michael?
This is an artist whose songs have been covered by everyone from Rufus Wainwright and Ben Folds to Limp Bizkit. He's sold 100 million records. George, wake up and smell the coffee! Your silver-tongued voice is still needed!
I propose an album of standards (yes, I know you did something like that awhile back with Songs from the Last Century, but you have to admit your choice of material on that one was quirky to say the least). Take on the Great American Songbook: try some Gershwin, have a go at Cole Porter, croon a Rodgers and Hart tune! If croaker Rod Stewart can do it, you can-- and better!
Stumbled across these short videos the other day... all about paper. You know you're intrigued. Click!
which makes for blog post fodder on slow days:
***Virginia Woolf wrote all her books standing up.
***Tom Sawyer was the first novel written on a typewriter.
***The Bible has been translated into Klingon.
On Monday, we celebrated our favorite man-of-action, Bruce Willis, on his 57th birthday. Today we give a shout-out to a man of more, shall we say, cerebral talents. It would be Johann Sebastian Bach's 327th birthday, if he were still around to make fabulous music. As this blog is called, from the ridiculous to the sublime. (Just kidding, Bruce!)
Monday, March 19th is Bruce Willis' 57th birthday... and given his status as a kick-ass, get-it-done kind of guy among librarians (sort of a librarian's librarian), we couldn't let it pass without a proper tribute. So here are just a few reasons why we love and emulate Bruce... that excellent bald man with the smirk... followed by a tasty compilation of the man-of-action in action.
Because a librarian will do what it takes: "Sorry, baby, but I had to crash that Honda...." as Butch Coolidge Pulp Fiction (1994)
Because a librarian always has a back-up plan -- when one resource fails, we always have another: "And this is the best that you c - that the-the government, the U.S. government can come up with? I mean, you-you're NASA for cryin' out loud, you put a man on the moon, you're geniuses! You-you're the guys that think this sh-t up! I'm sure you got a team of men sitting around somewhere right now just thinking sh-t up and somebody backing them up! You're telling me you don't have a backup plan, that these eight boy scouts right here, that is the world's hope, that's what you're telling me?" as Harry Stamper Armageddon (1998)
Because librarians always maintain their cool under the most trying circumstances: “Play some rap music” as Joe Hallenbeck (context: Willis is held captive and mocked by bad-guy-in-chief Milo, who threatens him with a knife and chortles about wanting to hear Willis scream. But Bruce just wants to hear some gangsta tracks. BAD ASS with capitals! The Last Boy Scout (1991)
Because, contrary to popular belief, librarians do have a sense of humor: “Now
I have a machine gun, HO HO HO”-- Hans Gruber reading John McClane's joke written in blood across a dead man's chest, Die Hard (1988)
Because librarians do wear sensible shoes (to work, anyway): "Nine million terrorists in the world and I gotta kill one with feet smaller than my sister." as John McClane Die Hard (1988)
Because librarians answer the same questions, day after day after day, with a smile: "Oh man, I can't f---ing believe this. Another basement, another elevator. How can the same sh--t happen to the same guy twice?" as John McClane Die Hard 2 (1990)
Because this is what a librarian says when FBI agents ask for a patron checkout history: “This is the ’90s. You don’t just go around punching people. You have to say something cool first” (and have a subpoena) as Joe Hallenbeck, The Last Boy Scout (1991)
Because librarians understand the pure joy derived from helping our patrons solve problems (whether or nor they involve the use of a machine gun): “Yippee ki-yay mother!@#$%&!r” (If you’re looking for instruction as to how to be a good guy, I suggest John McClane as the ultimate mentor. Basic human kindness and wanton destruction are not necessarily mutually exclusive. By studying him, you come to understand that you can do anything, even run through broken glass without shoes, and that a smart-alek attitude will get you everywhere, especially if you’re dispatching terrorists left and right while cursing like a sailor.) as John McClane, Die Hard (1988)
So, happy birthday, Bruce! Feel free to turn in those books late.
Just this once. ;-)
Video runs a bit long -- but hey, it's Bruce!
By the way, I love the fashion-industry misspelling "libarian" that occurs mid-way through the video...
To find out more about me, click on the Not Your Average Jo tab.