Thursday, May 30, 2013

Zine Review: Piltdown Lad #7 - The Murky Realm

Piltdown Lad #7: The Murky Realm
by Kelly Dessaint
5.5 X 7 /44 pages / $3 + postage
PO Box 86714 Los Angeles CA 90086

I’ve never described a zine as a “pageturner” - until now. I read The Murky Realm in one sitting, literally unable (as the cliché goes) to put the zine down. Why? I love writing that explores the mysteries of family origins through the distance of time & a personal lens. Kelly Dessaint is an agile storyteller who relates the circumstances of his parents meeting and their tumultuous relationship. Dessaint’s unfolding of his mother and father’s early life and courtship & his father’s experiences as a veteran and life with his friends is meticulously crafted and thoroughly fascinating. His parents’ emotional landscapes are vividly explored through letters written between them and Dessaint’s  “creative engineering”. Nuanced and honest, The Murky Realm is on my must read again list. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Zine Review: Half-Gifts

Half Gifts
full letter 

I’ve received three issues of this zine and they are all exceptional guides to homemade non-mainstream music, mostly released on cassette tape. The editor's note in issue 3 (titled Why Cassettes?) perfectly expresses why some of us still embrace lo-fi tapes in the digital age. All three issues of Half Gifts feature interviews with musicians and well conceived reviews. The writing in Half Gifts is engaging, even the zine title itself refers to a Cocteau Twins song (my 80's & 90's dreampop heroes - I miraculously got to see them live in concert once!) & the music reviewed drifts from shoegaze to pop, from indie to experimental. One in-depth article explores the evolving discography of The Softie's Rose Melberg. With one eye on the past yet firmly rooted in the present, there’s a lot of great new music to be discovered within the pages of Half-Gifts. Half-Gifts is a prime example of why music zines are still relevant. Highly recommended for us tapeheads and indie explorers.   

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Zine Review: Write More Letters

Write More Letters
The Radical Uprise Zine #030
PO Box 20233
Seattle WA 98102

Since the advent of the age of technology, it appears that the art of letter writing has become a fading practice. I've actually had numerous people defend the act of not writing letters, that “snail mail” is passé and that email / text / Facebook / instant messaging are far superior methods of communication.

But you can’t hold a Facebook post in your hands.

Emails are easily deleted.

What you wrote in that text will be forgotten in ten minutes.

Sometimes the easiest path isn’t the healthiest.

To convey the wonder of the heart and human connection, pen and paper letters are like manna from the gods and goddesses. In Write More Letters, Jetta guides you through the process seamlessly. Why write, how to calculate postage, fun things you can include with a letter to spice up your correspondence, and comments from letter writers about why they prefer letters to electronic communication.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Zine Review: Bookstores and Baseball: The First Inning

Bookstores and Baseball: The First Inning
32 pages / full color

I’ll admit to having once been obsessed with the Boston Red Sox and magical realism books like W.P. Kinsella’s The Iowa Baseball Confederacy & I have always been obsessed with bookstores. David Labounty generously sent me five issues of this zine & I've just finished devouring the first one: Bookstores and Baseball: The First Inning. Part travelogue, part perzine, Bookstores and Baseball: The First Inning beautifully maps the journeys of David and his family as they go on zine selling (and zine buying) tours and visit numerous bookshops and baseball fields, including the Field of Dreams in Iowa. David vividly narrates experiences at Quimby’s Books, The Texas Book Festival, Wrigley Field & more. I wish I could have just one hour at Quimby’s to browse the zine selection! This zine is a solid read and a lot of fun. I’ll be slowly savoring the next four issues. Thank you David! 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Zine Review: No No No This is Not a Zine #5

No No No (This is Not a Zine) #5
by Kim R. Cody
half letter / ? / try

Try thinking of all of the elements that combine to create a lovely zine – personal insights from the zine creator, artwork, something involving music, a poem or two … No No No (This is Not a Zine) #5 has all of it in spades. Kim gives us a glimpse of her musings as she sorts through collected flotsam and decides which is worth keeping and which items may be parted with. In a healthy life we are always sorting through our possessions, relationships, and perceptions, evaluating which serve us well and which make no sense to keep within our orbit. For those of us who grow attachments easily this can be a painstaking, bordering on anguishing process. Kim also shares some dada, a poem for Lawrence Ferlinghetti (who is now in his 90’s!), and some reasons why she is ending her zine. I’m not sure that I understand those reasons, other than sometimes creativity shifts and pulls us in other directions. For vivid writing, presentation, and substance you will find no finer read than No No No (This is Not a Zine).

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Zine Review: Decades of Confusion Feed the Insect #65

Decades of Confusion Feed the Insect #65
November 2012

full sized / $3
Justin Duerr
PO Box 13312
Philadelphia PA 19101

This issue is dedicated to the late artist Renee Leshner whose work appears in the zine along with Mandy Katz, Aja Donovan, David A. Kime and Justin Duerr. Decades of Confusion Feed the Insect is best experienced rather than described. One might think that statement is a cop-out, this is a review, after all! Here’s some of the styles you will find within the pages: Zentangle. Dada. Outsider. Surrealism. Pen & Ink. There’s also some creative writing. Decades of Confusion Feed the Insect comes with my highest recommendation & will open your eyes to art. Trust me.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Zine Review: Shoe & Tail #11

Shoe & Tail #11
by Rachel Lee-Carman
40 pages / half letter / $3

Available from

For whatever reason, I didn’t care all that much for the previous issue. Maybe I was in a weird mood when I read it. Shoe & Tail #11 lifted my spirits even though parts of this issue feel mired in the neighborhood of depression. Formerly titled Show & Tell (I wonder if this is a lasting permutation), Rachel’s zine is brilliantly handwritten and drawn with occasional photography. It is presented in diary / autobiographical form wherein Rachel reveals the nuances of her friendships, philosophies, life events and even sneezing! There’s also a thought-provoking section called “Greetings From Elk Lake” about nudity and how messed up our culture is regarding our human bodies.

Shoe & Tail is an exquisite publication. My moods as a reader are prone to fluctuation. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Before the Hollywood Backlot: Television's Worst Broadcasts You'll Never See

Before the Hollywood Backlot: Televisions Worst Broadcasts You'll Never See
a zine by Daniel Berman
full size / full color / bound

Wow. Ask and you shall receive? Be grateful for what you wish for? I recently read an issue of this zine and voila! a new issue arrived in my mailbox. I love good mail days.

This edition of Before the Hollywood Backlot focuses on the backwater of television. Sometimes it feels like something is missing from this issue because articles toward the back of the zine don't feel complete (like description of the Golden Turkey Awards films and unproduced Star Trek episodes). Despite potential omissions, for oddball media fans, this zine is a complete joy to read - we get a guided tour through the worst tv series spin-offs of all time ... what were they thinking? There's a trivia quiz, an article revisiting the Razzie awards from 1980, TV advertising hall of shame, a consideration of movie posters, and more. Plus full-color reproductions of some of my favorite films of all time - Red Zone Cuba and Manos: Hands of Fate!

Let's hope there's a sequel. 

Zine Review: How Mystery Science Theater 3000 Changed My Life

How Mystery Science Theater 3000 Changed My Life
Or, 13 Lessons I learned from the Best TV Show Ever

by Tyler Hauck

available from

How could I resist reading a zine with a title like that?

In the not too distant past there used to be a TV show called Mystery Science Theater 3000, or MST3K, which debuted back in the murky 1980’s on a backwater UHF station called KTMA in Minnesota. The early episodes featured Joel Hodgdon, Trace Beaulieu and J. Elvis Weinstein and a cast of creaky robots made from styrofoam and gawd only knows what. Joel would watch cheesy b-movies with the bots and make ironic & sarcastic comments. Sometimes there would be a stretch of several minutes with no commentary at all. I watched some of these episodes and they barely hinted at the sheer genius that was to evolve on Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi Channel (now known as syfy, I believe).

This zine speaks to the converted (I’m a card carrying MSTie) but would be a fun read for novitiates to the series. The “lessons” are definitely there to be found if you’ve even watched just a handful of episodes of MST3K and are well thought out and explained by Tyler. There’s also plenty of other snippets and glimpses into the world of MST3K – the invention exchanges, the skits and songs, the worst movies of all time. I am grateful to have been introduced to the films The Creeping Terror, Red Zone Cuba and Manos Hands of Fate which inspired my radio shows Mystery Science Radio and Night Train to Mundo Fine.

Bottom line: every aspect of this zine is excellent. There may have been better “series” on television over the years, but in the spirit of DIY fun, obscure pop references and clever writing, this was the best “TV show” ever. Read this zine and find out why.

May the Satellite of Love rust in pieces.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Zine Review: Self Care for Zinesters

Self Care for Zinesters
by Maranda Elizabeth
quarter size / $3.50 to US
PO Box 1689 Guleph Ontario
N1H 6Z9 Canada

You might think we should know this stuff by now. We're all adults, right? Some of us rocketing toward our senior years, even! Yet self-care is, in my opinion, frequently overlooked and under practiced in our crazy post millennial lives. Whether you are a zinester or not, it's a good idea to check out the slow lane once in a while.

Maranda's zine shares concrete, practical advice for touring zinesters and stay at home zinesters. This is advice gleaned from lived experience, and it's like hearing an old friend share their wisdom with you. There is also some advice for first-time zinesters, some thoughts about writing for friendship, and more. Self Care for Zinesters is absolutely compelling reading.

Mixt Media Audio Zine Spring 2013

which includes some new One Minute Zine Reviews!
download it here: