The youthful founder of popular movie-geek Web site Ain’t It Cool? surveys his kingdom and takes stock.
Raised in a bohemian Texas family that specialized in collecting and selling Hollywood memorabilia, Knowles seems to have been genetically destined for his Internet incarnation. But fate also played a role: in the early 1990s, Knowles was badly injured when a cart loaded with movie collectibles rolled over him at a memorabilia show. Bedridden, he resolved to make his lengthy convalescence as productive as possible by exploring the then-novel technology of the World Wide Web on his family’s PC. Online, he discovered a number of kindred spirits who were immensely knowledgeable about film, had passionate views on the subject, and loved to dish. Establishing his site as a clearinghouse for this sprawling constituency, Knowles was soon reckoning with a large audience of opinionated moviegoers. Hollywood studio heads, movie stars, and directors also took note, particularly after director Quentin Tarrantino (who wrote the book’s foreword) praised Harry’s efforts. The author’s love for movies, his tales of Hollywood big-shots humiliated by Ain’t It Cool? diatribes, his affection for his site’s many eccentric contributors, form the core of the story. Even more intriguing, however, is the story of the Internet’s democratizing power: Hollywood studios, national magazines, and TV shows now court the opinion of a self-described overweight nerd pecking away at a computer keyboard in a bedroom in Austin, Texas, and he’s welcomed at film festivals and premieres. To his credit, Knowles has given a great deal of thought to this process, and his reflections on the fun and responsibility of being a cyber pioneer illuminate this memoir. It seems clear that it wasn’t Knowles’s detailed knowledge of film that won him a huge Internet following, but his intuitive grasp of the humanizing power of both media.
A touching story of self-discovery—and a very readable commentary on how the Internet has reshaped the way information and opinion are shared.
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").