What is THAT? – Oddities from the MT mailbox



Here’s the deal. Every day here at the Metro Times, our mail delivery includes CDs, books and all sorts of other promotional items. A lot of it we can use and review – local-interest music, DVDs, etc. But we also get a lot of weird and whacky items that just kinda build up. So that’s where this idea came from. Each week (or at least most weeks) I’ll gather up some of the more interesting, freaky and brow-furrowing promo pieces and offer them up here for you. I could be about to show you anything. On that note, feel free to send us anything to Brett Callwood, 733 St Antoine, Detroit MI 48226.

USA Noir compiles the best stories from acclaimed Brooklyn publisher Akashic Books’ Noir series, and it’s a wonderful read. The title stems from the fact that there are stories here from authors spread all across the country. Of course, we’re bias so we turned straight to Detroit’s Megan Abbott, whose “Our Eyes Couldn’t Stop Opening” is appropriately dark, sexy and witty. It would be silly and incorrect, however, to say that the Detroit story is the only great one here – most are wonderful and all are worth the effort. The sultry, mysterious tone plays out like Lynch writing an old pulp paperback. Much to love here.

Misner & Smith’s Seven Hour Storm album sees the duo playing some surprisingly affecting and effective folk; beautifully written and devoid of the sort of hipster-factor that has propelled the likes of Mumford & Sons to the top of the charts. This is honest and authentic, yet still contemporary. It doesn’t sound dated at all. The pair met when performing as actors at the Shakespeare Festival, then worked together on the play “Woody Guthrie’s American Song.” Guthrie would be proud of what he inspired.

Another Akashic book that came at us this week is We Do!: American Leaders Who Believe in Marriage Equality, a remarkably upbeat little slab of work detailing the politicians out there who are good-hearted, decent and basically worth knowing about. Jennifer Baumgardner and Governor Madeleine M. Kunin have reminded us that not every American leader is a money and power-obsessed bigot. There are plenty who are looking to do good, and the issue of gay marriage has served to separate the wheat from the assholes.

The last time we wrote about author Blaine Pardoe, it was because he had written a true crime book called Murder in Battle Creek. Apparently he’s multi-talented, because his new book is a different beast entirely. Business Rules: The Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords is a business management book that sets out to entertain as well as educate. Pardoe quite correctly states that most business books are either too academic to be worth a shit to anybody other than the people who don’t need them anymore, or are so dumbed down that they’re worthless to anyone at all. “I didn’t want to write some dry, academic, or boring book,” says Pardoe. “I wanted to write something that anyone can pick up, flip open, and start reading. People have a good sense of humor at work – it helps them cope with the chaos. I wanted to tap into that with this snarky style.” Job done.

Now, we know full well that publicity peeps have to get albums out before the release date, but it still felt weird to receive Johnny Mathis’ Sending You a Little Christmas (Columbia) in September. Can we not enjoy Halloween and Thanksgiving first? Still, this is Johnny Mathis and he’s recorded a series of duets with the likes of Billy Joel (“The Christmas Song”), the where-the-fuck-have-you-been Gloria Estefan (“Mary’s Boy Child”) and the oh-for-the-love-of-God-why Susan Boyle (“Do You Hear What I Hear”). Nobody’s ready for this record yet but, heads up, come December you could do a lot worse.

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