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Last Laugh Productions

 books & music; editing & publishing

Coming Soon!

A book celebrating the West Coast by the prolific author of "We'll Always Have Stockton," this time written under his legal name rather than his pen name. Steve has been praised as "Our own psychedlic Nature poet," according to author Richard Loranger. Steve is a well known member of the infamous poetic school known as the Babarian Movement, so-called after their meeting place in the Cafe Babar in San Francisco in the 1980s and 90s. Other authors from this school include David Lerner and Vampyre Mike Kassel, as well as Zeitgeist publisher Bruce Isaacson. 300 pages of superb poetry. Stay tuned!

Hint: poems by Deborah L. Fruchey

Recent poems by the award-winning author of Three Kinds of Dark and Armadillo. In this evocative chapbook, the poet takes you on a journey into the recesses of memory and the essence of forgotten moments. With a bottle of water as a symbolic guide, the verses roll seamlessly from the back to the front, mirroring the inevitability of things left behind. Hint transforms into a poignant plea, a whisper of the overlooked. As the bottle glides beyond reach, the poet ponders the essentials that slip away. Each stanza unfolds like a snapshot, capturing the emotions tied to what we've unintentionally abandoned. Hint serves as a reminder, a gentle nudge to reflect on the baggage we carry and the significance of what we leave behind. This chapbook invites readers to embark on a contemplative journey, where the ordinary becomes extraordinary, and the forgotten finds its voice.

 

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Shattered Windows by Deborah L. Fruchey

"Care for a tour through the landscapes of a woman's heart? Here's your ride.

"Deborah Fruchey's  Shattered Windows presents us with a chorus of women's voices: some hers, some imagined, some in-between. These short pieces are a trek through many hearts, each unique and somehow so familiar. One page captures keenly drawn despair...while the next is charged with hope...Then we turn the page for more. Fruchey observes each without judgment and with empathy aplenty. Each scenario, each emotion, each person here feels true and painted with a knowing eye."

—Richard Loranger, author of Mammal and Unit of Agency

 

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What Still Matters by Johanna Ely


Poems by Benicia Poet Laureate Emerita Johanna Ely, reflecting on what still matters after the years of the Pandemic

"This collection by Johanna Ely is an invitation into our natural world and all its delicacies. This book speaks to the 'soft dark earth' and the 'calligraphy of winter.' There are vital questions in these pages. The poet asks us 'what if one day the trees in our town uprooted themselves.' And in these questions, there are journeys worth exploring. The poems in these pages resonate and in them you will find old fence lines, Japanese maples, origami flowers, a silver necklace missing a clasp, and a letter to Frida Kahlo. These poems will make backroads and bridges into your psyche. You will find "a small sturdy boat" and will feel compelled and delighted to 'climb on board, without a map.' "


—Connie Post, Author of Prime Meridian and Between Twilight

 

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We'll Always Have Stockton - Steve Arntson

A 450 page blockbuster, this is Steve Arntson's exploration and description of a journey to something that almost didn't happen at all: the Burning Man festival of 2020. Only a few hardy souls came to the playa that year. Travel with Steve through the red fires of that endless summer, that made West indistinguishable from East. Make your way up to Oregon, and climb Steens Mountain. Meet the Stockton cop who spawned the name, his own name never to be known. Rusticate in New Pine Creek, where Steve fantasizes the retreat of a person who feels threatened and lurks in junk shops to obscure his identity. Ride behind the ponies of Adel, clamber through the wilderness wondering if you remember what to do if you hit quicksand. And at last, meet Laura, the Gate, at the opening to the playa where no one is supposed to be at all, but, irresistibly, comes.

 

AVAILABLE NOW! BUY IT HERE!

For Whoever Thinkks a Piano is Furniture

“Rudy Jon Tanner’s poetry is a wonderful exploration not only of his thoughts but, more importantly, of the sounds of his thoughts as they go dancing by in that mirror, the written page. He is as much a musician as a poet and, while he has ‘things’ to ‘say,’ the delight is more in the ‘saying’ than in the ‘things’: ‘we break into that comma shaped trophy horse neck smooth in the curve.’ Only a poet with a deep training in music would be likely to write a line like ‘all that bone and flesh in the sea pitted against siren deep from his own belly, didn’t eat.’ Though deliberately and carefully ‘accessible,’ Tanner’s work is simultaneously beautiful and expansive and tells us that a poem is no more the vehicle of its ‘ideas’ than a piano is a piece of furniture. His language is the sound of spirit as it nudges its often-complex musings into the ecstatic expectations of a consciousness that is always elevated, brilliantly tuned, and turned towards ‘the sounds of above.’ It is all in tempo rubato: ‘between the darkly limned blossoms boldly circumscribed.’ It is a poets’ poetry that always remembers that people must be carefully seduced into a condition of joy.”

—Jack Foley, KPFA Radio host & author of A California Beat Literary Timeline (The Beat  
    Scene Press, England, 2014)

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The Return of the Vampyre Mike Classic!

What do the ancient Viking Gods do on their day off? They slum in a bar in San Francisco, of course! Get the whole low-down from the lowest-down guy of all, Loki, God of Mischief, as he dishes all the dirt in The Worlds According to Loki. You'll never hear Wagner the same way again...

This beloved spoof of Norse Mythology has been unavailable for years due to the small print run in the days of traditional publishing. But now thanks to the Publish-on-Demand technology, everybody who wants a copy can get one! This second edition is possible through the generosity of Mike's sister, Jane Kassel Haver, with the help of Pasha DeSaix, and most especially Jack Edwards, who beautifully reproduced the entire text.  From Last Laugh Productions.

The Hall of Painted Sonnets

"Arntson writes like a time traveler who’s met up with an Elizabethan sonneteer.  He mixes stark insights from our tragically fractured world with meditations on its beauty, archaic diction with modern humor, and occasional slang— all written in rhymed, strictly measured iambic pentameter.  It’s as if he’s learned to speak sonnet.

"And Moomey’s paintings are serenely wonderful.  If you’re looking for a book that appeals to all of your senses —and maybe even some you didn’t know you had— this is it. "

  —Charlotte Muse, author of In Which I Forgive the River

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Gypsy & other poems

GYPSY and other poems by Steve Arntson

“Steve Arntson is our own Mt. Vesuvius of imagery, flowing over with perceptions, energy, and feeling. He begins 'Slip into madness / like hand into the glove…' and so inserts us into his lava flow of experience with his well-tuned musical ear and bubbling imagination. Steve Artnson’s Gypsy and other poems is a great read!” 

 — Bruce Isaacson, First Poet Laureate of Las Vegas, Nevada; publisher, Zeitgeist Press

 

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Touchstones — by Maria E. Rosales

"Maria writes characters who invite us to laugh and to empathize: the little girl who uses her bus fare to buy toast and beans, planning to make her treat last 'by eatin’ the beans one at a time but usually I’m too hungry by then. I eat it fast and then have to walk all the way home',  the child left on the wrong side of the road because 'someone’s hand didn’t reach for me, and the necklace of siblings, a ragged chain of skinny arms, lurched across with one missing link';  the woman of a certain age asking her mirror 'Who stole my mojo?…but there’s no reply from the haggard face staring back.'

"Maria offers us the consolation she finds in the natural world... She conjures spirits––of people––and of places. And she lays bare for us what drives her writing.'

—Laura Wine Paster, from the Introduction   BUY A COPY

 

Jan Dederick — Embodied

"The overarching theme of “Embodied,” an unapologetic collection of fine and startling poetry documents the poet’s contemplation and recognition of our interconnectedness to life.

Jan Dederick demonstrates through her mature and satisfying poetry, in language lyric and logical, her ability to say the unsayable, to exist and yet remain unsaid, in fresh, literary ways.  For instance, she draws the reader in by being deadly serious and funny at the same time. Her humor tempers the profound as in the poem “Leave it Alone” where she repeats the line “I never had a foreskin but I had a son” and shocks the reader from smile to surprise and back again.

This impactful collection begs to be read again and again..."

—Eileen Malone, Co-founder, The Soul-Making Keats Competition                   Buy the Book

Armageddon Bootcamp

"The poems in this collection sing like “one voice split into so many bodies,” praising the full arc of human experience, from the abandoned child who wonders “Why was I with orphans when they were not dead?” to the wanderer who learns “The stones talk. / They tell me / that after all I belong.” Maria Rosales takes you on a journey from innocence to wisdom, from rebellion to acceptance, from holding on tightly to graciously letting go, all the while inviting you to turn “honeycomb /eyes to witness / your myriad selves.”

—Cheryl Dumesnil, author of Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes

Link

 

Three kinds of Dark — poetry by Deborah L. Fruchey

"The poems in this collection have verve, have a kick, and will leave your senses wanting more. Fruchey has a masterful way of drawing the reader into the rhythms of each poem, and also into a larger conversation about our inner and outer world. The work in this book discovers the beauties of an old self portrait, a roadside motel, abandoned pastures, odes to nighttime, a recipe for marital peace and the substrata in between."

—Connie Post, Poet Laureate Emerita of Livermore ,CA

  Link

priestess of secrets 

"For a small book, this packs a punch! ...Ms. Fruchey captures women's internal monologue in all its glory. From pearls of wisdom gained through life experience--usually involving emotional pain and vulnerability--she runs the gamut from self-assessment (not always pretty) to isolation, to many of the thoughts and feelings we have but are afraid to share or explore too closely and her descriptive phrases (for example, "the air was as heavy as pudding" and not liking the woman she is going home to, personification of inanimate objects) gives a voice to our unspokenness."

 — Judge 56, 26th Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards     Link
 

 

Mental Illness ain't for sissies!

“Four stars out of five…Fruchey’s sensitivity to differences in opinion and life situations will help make the book pertinent to a wide range of people…although it targets mentally ill readers, this book will also benefit relatives and friends and help mental health professionals better understand their patients. Overall, it provides practicable, well-presented information.Self help books for people with mental illness are scarce. As readers with mental illness follow Fruchey’s suggestions, they make room for themselves in a society that is reluctant to accept them.”

—Foreword Clarion Review

    Link

Crystal Connections

Using more than 20  Quartz Crystal Bowls in a new and unique way, aligning the bowls’ frequencies to the energy of our chakras through the frequencies of their colors. And also connecting to our brainwave states using Monaural  (when played with speakers) or Binaural beats (when listened to with headphones). For this mediation project, which is about 27 minutes in length,  the bowls are tuned to = 432 hz which is known to have very powerful qualities. A powerful meditation experience using music and sound that is also good for your energy.

Includes a rendition of Eric Satie's Gymnopedie #1, arranged and performed by Robert Hamaker.    Link

Crystalline Sleep — Robert Hamaker

This album was created to help you sleep. 16 short tracks move the listener down through the brainwave states using Binaural Beats. The first eight have background sounds appropriate to the chakras, the last eight are crystal bowl sounds only. Each track uses frequencies that align with the colors of the seven major chakras. The tonal center for the tuned bowls was 432 hertz, which aligns with sacred geometry. Remember,  to benefit from Binaural Beat technology you must use headphones. These tracks will move you into a state of deep meditation or sleep.

Composed, created and performed by Robert Hamaker.    Link

Bat Flower — by Vampyre Mike Kassel

Vampyre Mike Kassel, was one of the stars of the poetic explosion known as "The Babarian Movement" that flourished  in the 1980s and 90s at the Cafe Babar in San Francisco.  Mike was a poet, musician, songwriter, and playwright. He resided in San Francisco after having been run out of Boston for crimes against normalcy. He held the S. F. record for most times evicted. He liked sincere girls who didn’t wear too much makeup and who put out on the first date.

Here is a treasure trove of Vampyre Mike's unpublished work - cartoons, plays, poems, songs, flyers and posters from the era, and even an unfinished novel. This is what Vampyre fans have been waiting for.    Link

The Colors of Sound 

Have you ever wondered, “What color is that sound?” Or, “Is there a connection between color and sound?” A unique meditation for 19 colors, representing the major and minor chakras and how they relate to our bodies. A musical tone was  discovered for each chakra color (movng mathematically from sound frequencies to light frequencies). Then music was composed for each color with the the help of an intuitive. Below you may see the related book,  Color Cards and Self Healing, which provides a wealth of additional information.  This is a beautiful & beneficial sound series whether you use this music for relaxation, meditation, yoga, serious spiritual work and healing, or just because you love the sounds of crystal bowls or percussion. Composed and performed by Robert M. Hamaker. Vocals by Deborah L. Fruchey.   Link

The book "Colors of Sound" was created for!

Did you know that each color relates to a part of your body and a set of personality characteristics? That too much or too little of a color can be connected with particular health problems? Most people don't realize that we can work with these colors in many easy ways to improve ourselves and make our lives better. Here for the first time is a thorough guide to integrating color into your personal work of self healing and spiritual evolution.

Written by Jean Luo & Robert Hamaker; edited by Deborah L. Fruchey

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If you would like a deck of miniature color cards to work with this book , BUY HERE  $6

Armadillo — selected Works 1979 to 2009 

 "Totally candid and refreshing poems...inspired memoirs of the moments when angels take a cloud latte break and discuss the important things, however few, that happen on the grubby planet Earth that day."

—Marvin R. Hiemstra, author of French Kiss Destiny

"Sings it artfully and with engagement...the reviewer thinks it can accurately be described as the human condition...she describes 'the life' effectively and touches a responsive chord in the reader.”

—Arnold Skemer, editor, ZYX Magazine     Link

Opus de Funk — by Interplay

This lively Jazz arrangement of the Horace Silver composition was featured as the opening music for the Sixth Sense Radio Show. Opus de Funk was arranged and recorded by the group  Interplay which is a group based out of the San Francisco Bay Area.  It features Ben Barron & Bob Brumbeloe on Jazz Guitars, Randy Hunt on Bass, & Robert Hamaker on Drums.

Link

Visit the Sixth Sense Radio Show archives at:

http://www.margaretmcelroy.com/radio-show/

Island Journey — a guided healing meditation

This is a guided meditation visualized by the composer during a spiritual retreat.  It is shared here using music to put you in a relaxed state and create the meditative experience. A variety of percussion and crystal bowl instruments are used to awaken your imagination and energy centers.  You will be guided down through your chakras, then taken by boat across the mysterious seas of the subconscious to the island. Here you will choose a crystal from the beach and journey further inland and come to a healing fountain. Then you will choose an area in your life to heal and watch as the old energy is washed away and  transformed.  All music for this project was conceived and performed  by Robert Hamaker, except for the Prelude and Adagio which were composed by Edith Hamaker. Narration by Deborah Fruchey. See our blog for more about each component of this deep, healing journey.    Link

Island Journey — Instrumental only

For those who prefer to use this soundscape as a background for their own guided mediation, or just prefer the music by itself. This is Island Journey with no narration added. Some instruments in the percussion family put you easily in a trance or meditative state, then take you to many wonderful places in your mind’s eye. Having amassed an amazing collection of wonderful and incredible instruments over his career, composer Robert Hamaker decided he wanted to put this project together to share their powerful sounds and vibrations.   

Link

a scandalous creature

Kate is a rich widow with a bad marriage behind her. She has no desire to marry again, but must find a convenient husband to regain control of her estates. She is also the guardian of a young spitfire niece. The niece recommends she marry an old childhood friend, Johnny Rotherham, but when she does she finds him by far too attractive for her peace of mind. And her niece is gathering some persistent unsavory suitors; or is it Johnny himself she is toying with? A Regency farce where everyone gets a chance to learn a little, look a little foolish, and grab for a second chance at happiness.

"I thought it was a gem of a book. The storyline was sweet, as were the characters. No murders, graphic sex, blackmail, etc., just a story about 2 couples who grow in love. "

—Amazon review   

This is Deborah Fruchey's second novel.    Link

the unwilling heiress

This charming story, full of quirky people and tangled incidents, is a tongue-in-cheek comment on society's posturings and an account of the adventures of a most unusual heroine. Lucy, wrongly dismissed from her job as a governess, finds shelter with two eccentirc old women whom she soon comes to love. But they are not all they seem to be — they are much more! Soon Lucy is involved in a ridiculous imposture that puts all of her dreams at risk.

"A diverting first novel, sure to captivate genre fans,"

—Booklist

This book was chosen in the year of its appearance as a Best Book of the Year, Young Adult category.

Originally issued in hardback from Walker Co.     Link

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