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VHS IS THE FUTURE – Product Spotlight – May 18, 2024

If you haven’t been paying attention to modern technology trends, you may have missed the news, but VHS is the future of home entertainment. This revolutionary format brings analog video in to your home, but in a convenient cassette based format. What’s more, VHS is a read/write format. That means that anyone can make their own tapes. Truly a modern miracle.

And since we’re living in the future, you can order your VHS Tapes with a computer! I know, it’s hard to believe, but it’s true! Check out some of the VHS Tapes we have for sale:

Specifically, we’ve just added a HUGE selection of titles from Lunchmeat, a new VHS manufacturer. They partner with indie filmmakers to release genre films that just feel right on VHS. You can browse the whole collection, but I wanted to highlight a couple of specific titles and share some trailers.

Lunchmeat VHS

Trailers:

In all seriousness, physical media is neat. VHS tapes don’t look especially good compared to bluray or streaming or even a DVD, and a lot of people don’t even have a VCR anymore, but this lo-fi way to connect audiences with films has a kind of charm that extends well beyond it’s fuzzy scanlines.

Some films feel very different when they’re watched like this. If you still have a VCR kicking around, give it a shot. (And if you don’t, come check our shop. We usually have one or two on the floor in Ellijay, they’re just too heavy to justify shipping.)

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Movie Review – Ip Man: Kung Fu Master

Imagine for a moment Kung Fu legend Ip Man fighting corrupt politicians, Japanese soldiers, and the Axe Gang as a masked vigilante during an invasion by the Japanese army in pre-revolution China. Sounds about perfect, right?

Enter Ip Man: Kung Fu Master. It was released in late 2019, and was released directly to streaming platform Youku.

Lots of reviewers compared the film negatively to the more popular trilogy of films about legendary martial artist Ip Man, but I think that’s entirely the wrong way to think about this movie. Think about this as a direct to video release from a small studio that is exploiting the popularity of a real person in order to tell a story that has very little to do with that real person.

Taken in that light, this film is a world better than you might expect.

Compared to other “Ip-sploitation” films, this one sits near the top of the pile. I think Ip Man: The Final Fight might best it, but it’s significantly better than most of the other films looking to cash in on Ip’s name.

(And I’m going to be honest, when he showed up wearing a leather mask reminiscent of Kato’s from The Green Hornet, I got Hype.)

So, if in this era of video streaming, you’ve found yourself missing the kind of direct to video martial arts films that littered video store shelves in the 1980s, you’d be hard pressed to find a more worthy successor than this direct-to-Chinese-streaming release about a highly fictionalized Vigilante Ip Man.

Of course, you may be more interested in our other Kung Fu titles, including a number of films that were originally part of those drive-in and direct to video releases. Check out the kung fu films and novels we currently have in stock:

(View All Kung Fu Titles)

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Product Spotlight – Analog Revolution Records

We (that is to say the people behind Hemlock Bazaar) also run a record label and recording studio here in Ellijay. We work with Physical Music Productions in Nashville to release albums from artists here in Ellijay (like Doctor Deathray and Eli Pop) and artists all over North GA.

Here are some musical samples from these bands:

Eli Pop

Doctor Deathray

Hurly Burly and the Volcanic Fallout

Revolting Music

Small

Red Hot Empty

Rat Babies

The New Clear Lawn Chairs

Purchase:

You can find more releases from Analog Revolution, including some upcoming pre-orders on their website.

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New Hours!

We’ve expanded our hours! Coffee service starts at 8AM every day, and continues until 4pm (or later, if we’re busy.) The book store opens at 9, but we can sell books as soon as we open the doors.

Come see us and convince us to stay open even longer.

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What is Wuxia?

Are you a fan of kung fu movies with leaping swordsmen and mystical forces? You might like Wuxia. (Pronounced Woo-Sha or Woo-She-ah.)

What?

Wuxia is, in many ways, the Chinese equivalent of English Sword and Sorcery novels. Translated literally, Wuxia means martial arts and chivalry. In practice, it means historical fantasy, usually with martial arts and mystical forces. Think Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

Until recently, very few vintage Wuxia novels were translated into English, and even fewer modern ones. In recent years, with the rise of self publishing and a renewed American interest in these stories, they’ve become more widely available.

Modern Wuxia novels are frequently found along side Manga, and tend to draw on things like Dragon Ball and other Manga influences. Some authors have started mixing in romance elements as well. These can be a lot of fun! Classic Wuxia novels, on the other hand, tend to be a little more somber and serious. Things like The Legend of the Condor Heroes or The Three Kingdoms have more in common with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon than Dragon Ball.

Either way, Wuxia is a fun genre that has been under represented in the US for too long.

Check out the Wuxia novels we have in stock:

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Product Spotlight – May 10th 2024 – Camp Snap Cameras

This is a fun one! We’re now selling Camp Snap cameras.

These are small, cheap digital cameras. They don’t have screens. You have to frame your photos with the optical viewfinder and wait until you get home to see them.

I really love these little gizmos. As simple as they are, they go a long way towards bringing some magic back to photography.

Get yours today!

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Product Spotlight – May 4th 2024

Now that our cafe and bookstore are open again, we’ve started getting all kinds of new products in the shop. You can browse all our new arrivals, but there are a few products I’d like to spotlight.

The Employees

First up, The Employees by Olga Ravn. This book bills itself as a workplace novel of the 22nd century. It is, in turns, chilling, deeply moving, baffling, and bizarre. I’ve never read anything like it before, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

New York Ninja

There’s a lot to say about New York Ninja, and others have said it a lot more eloquently than I have, so if the premise intrigues you I’m sure you can find more details. The premise: in the 80s a mid-budget kung-fu flick was shot and shelved before it could be edited. The film preservationists at Vinegar Syndrome found it, digitized the footage, and proceeded to turn it in to a whole new movie.

That’s right, it’s a brand new, 100% authentic 1980s kungfu flick. And it’s honestly pretty damn wonderful.

Hill Country Love – Cedric Burnside

The 2021 Grammy award winning “I Be Trying” was the first Cedric Burnside album I heard, and I loved it. Cedric is the grandson of R.L. Burnside, for whom he frequently played drums, and he also played drums for Junior Kimbrough. In addition to being an accomplished drummer, Cedric is a guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. His music is amazing.

Hill Country Love, released in April of 2024, is Cedric’s latest album and it is Delightful.

That’s all for today, but check back soon for more.

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Cafe Open Now!

After three months, our bookstore and cafe are now fully operational. We stock a wide variety of coffees, most from Georgia Mountain Coffee, and we have a large seating area in addition to our books, records, movies, antiques, and decor.

I took a couple of snapshots to celebrate:

Of course, if you’re not in the North GA mountains, you can shop most of our inventory online as well:

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Product Spotlight – March 15, 2023 – Barbarian Cartoons

Welcome to another Hemlock Bazaar product spotlight. This is a semi-regular series of posts where we highlight interesting or noteworthy items from our collection and showcase things worth talking about. Today we’re talking about Cartoons! Specifically, Thundarr the Barbarian and The Herculoids.

The Herculoids was produced by Hanna-Barbera in the late 60s, with a brief revival in the 1980s. It is about a family living on an alien planet, and their monster pets/friends. It is, in a word, beautiful; in two words, buck wild. There’s a dragon, there’s a rock monster, there’s a dinosaur that fires projectiles, and there’s a family of goo creatures.

The Herculoids was the first cartoon to really explore the Sword and Planet style of science fantasy, and it’s real wacky.

A preview from the publishers

Thundarr the Barbarian was produced in 1980 by Ruby Spears. Until recently, I thought Thundarr was another Hanna-Barbera production. This isn’t especially surprising, as I later learned that Ruby and Spears were former Hanna-Barbera employees, and that both had written for, you guessed it, The Herculoids.

Thundarr is set in a post apocalyptic wasteland, in the far future year of 3994, following a catastrophic event in the less far future year of 1994. It’s another Sword and Planet style science fantasy series, with lightsabers and wookies and magic. It has a lot of DNA in common with The Herculoids, but it’s darker, less goofy, and even weirder.

A preview from the publishers

If you’re a child of the 1990s, it’s likely you encountered each of these shows in infrequent re-runs on Cartoon Network or Boomerang. It’s equally likely that you were baffled by them. But you didn’t hallucinate, they were not a dream, The Herculoids and Thundarr the Barbarian were real, and they’re available now on Blu-Ray.

Of course, if that’s not your thing, we have lots of other cartoons:

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Product Spotlight – March 13, 2024 – Secret Comics

Welcome back to a Hemlock Bazaar Product Spotlight. This is a semi-regular feature on our blog where we highlight interesting or noteworthy items from our collection. Today, we’re talking about the following item: Frank Johnson, Secret Pioneer of American Comics.

What’s a Secret Pioneer anyway?

Frank Johnson drew comics starting in 1928 and continuing through to the end of his life in 1979. He did a single weekly series over most of that time, and two concurrent series with slightly different art styles from 1946 – 1950. Over the course of his life, his main series “Wally’s Gang” accumulated more than 2300 pages of material.

These facts would not be remarkable on their own. George Herriman, for example, drew Krazy Kat from 1913 until his death in 1944, producing over 3,000 pages of Krazy Kat, as well as other less well known series. But George Herriman was published. Cartooning was his career. Newspapers throughout the country carried Krazy Kat.

Johnson was a self described “weekend cartoonist.” During his lifetime, his work remained a secret, discovered only upon his death and still basically unknown until this collection published in early 2024.

The work is wonderful. The jokes work really well (most of the time) and the characters are a delight. This volume is presented in facsimile notebook pages, scans of Johnson’s original notebooks. This choice drives home the amateur nature of the production, and brings a kind of otherworldly feeling to the whole affair which would, otherwise, feel almost exactly like a newly discovered Sunday strip.

It’s a delightful volume, showcasing several hundred pages from this Secret Pioneer.