Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Great Rock Star Names

What's inna name? A rose by NE other name would smell as sweet? (But what about The Flowers Of Romance?)
...Ah, not so fast. Rock&Roll is FULL of singers & musicians w/ way-larger-than-life personalities, whose Ntire personas can B conjured-up inna 2nd just by the use of their names -- this is what science-fiction writer Rudy Rucker 1nce called "an example of efficient encoding."
It Cms impossible (4 me at least) 2 separate the following names from the people & personalities they're attached 2:
Johnny Rotten
Sid Vicious
Ted Nugent
Buddy Holly
Keith Moon (w/ a name like that, did he have NE choice but 2 B a loon?)
Joe Strummer
Jah Wobble
Bob Dylan (Bob Zimmerman just wouldn't have the same zing)
Frank Zappa
Ringo Starr

...& Bsides, some rock star names just SOUND way cool:
Cheetah Chrome
Rat Scabies
Darby Crash
Mick Jagger
Joey, Johnny, Marky, Tommy, Dee Dee, ... Dino, Desi & Billy -- The Ramones!
Jello Biafra
Billy Zoom
Captain Sensible
Grace Slick
Joan Jett
Mitch Ryder

Speaking of conjuring, don't the following names just sum these people up? U get an immediate, clear, vivid picture:
Richard Hell
Johnny Thunders
Geezer Butler
Boz Burrell

Then there's the Working Class Division. Guys w/ names like this U wouldn't wanna mess w/:
Paul Cook
Steve Jones
Mick Jones
Keith Richards

...Waddy Wachtel sounds like he otta B "workin" in porn films.
So does Mike Love.
Ditto Joe Cocker.
Perhaps Bruce Cockburn...?
Kate Bush, 2 (sorry).
& The J. Geils Band's Magic Dick.
& The Dictators' Handsome Dick Manitoba.
...& how 'bout Dime Bag Darrell?

Some names just don't Cm right somehow 4 the sometimes-brutal world of Rock&Roll:
Van Dyke Parks could B the name of a vast multi-use recreational complex in the Hollywood Hills somewhere....
Tupper Saussy should be a high-strung neurotic French chef somewhere.
Terry Jacks should B hosting Sat morn kids' shows somewhere (& mayB is, 4 all I know).
Robert Fripp certainly sounds like the name of an acoustic-guitar instructor living somewhere in south-central England....
Tandyn Almer sounds like he should B playing concert piano somewhere....
Tom Rapp should B a poet (which he was), or possibly a rapper....

I almost 4got some of the Best Xamples EVER: Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band -- Zoot Horn Rollo, Winged Eel Fingerling, Ed Marimba, Drumbo & Art Tripp, all given new stage names by The Captain, who clearly knew something about The Power Of Names.
Frank Zappa's backing band always had some great names (& musicians) in it: I think Chad Wackerman is a great name 4 a drummer. & Scott Thunes is a pretty cool name 4 a bassist.

& then there's probly my fave Rock&Roll nom-de-plume of all time:
Pugwash Gotobed

The more U think of, the more there R. There R probly 100's more I've missed or 4got10. Feel free 2 toss in yr own suggestions below, especially if they're vivid or funny or jarringly inappropriate -- especially since this list Cms 2 basically cut-off around 1979....)

...2 B Continued...?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Musical chemistry, etc.

We here at the Back-Up Plan remain convinced that people's musical tastes can B used as a guide 2 make sweeping judgements about people U've just met (or never met), chart your future, select a potential mate, & pry in2 yr private emotional life in many other previously uncharted ways.
All U've gotta do is Dclare some of yr musical tastes -- or better yet (& safer), have some1 U know Dclare THEIRS.
This is another fun & educational game that U can all join in, & it starts by Dclaring yr favrite songs by a list of 21 iconic rock'n'rollers.
In this 1st section of R questionnaire, yr responses should B yr fave song by the listed artist, or the song by them that means the most 2 U emotionally (4 whatever reason), or the song that's had the biggest impact on U -- not necessarily their "best" work (such artistic considerations R outside the realm of R questionnaire). Don't think about yr responses 4 2 long -- 4 R purposes yr best response should B yr almost-immediate reaction.
The list of iconic rockers U R 2 provide fave picks 4 R: Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Beach Boys, The Who, Eric Clapton, The Monkees, Crosby/Stills/Nash&Young, Led Zeppelin, Joni Mitchell, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Abba, Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac, The Clash, U2, Michael Jackson &/or the Jackson 5, & Nirvana.
In the 2nd section of R questionnaire U R permitted 2 list 13 of yr fave songs by yr own fave artists, using the same criteria listed above 4 the batch of icons.
Clear as mud? Xcellent. Gluttons 4 punishment as always (& underpaid 2 boot), we at the Back-Up Plan made R own group choices & will Mbarrass Rselves by publishing them now. 1st the icons:

Elvis: "Promised Land"
Dylan: "Like a Rolling Stone" (sorta a standard choice, but undeniable musically)
Beatles: "Hello Goodbye" (1st Beatles we heard at an impressionable age)
Stones: "Tumbling Dice"
Stevie Wonder: "Higher Ground" (this after much arguing -- "I Was Made to Love Her" & "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing" R much loved by the staffers here)
Beach Boys: "Surf''s Up"
Who: "Behind Blue Eyes" (also after much arguing)
Eric Clapton: "Layla" (of course)
Monkees: "Daydream Believer" (w/ "Love is Only Sleeping," "Tapioca Tundra" & "Listen to the Band" fighting it out 4 2nd)
CSNY: "Teach Your Children"
Led Zeppelin: "Stairway to Heaven" (of course, but "Immigrant Song," "Battle of Evermore," "Over the Hills and Far Away," "Kashmir" & "The Rover" were all in the running)
Joni Mitchell: "Raised on Robbery"
Elton: "Love Lies Bleeding"
Paul McCartney: "Junior's Farm"
Abba: "Knowing Me, Knowing You"
Bruce Springsteen: "Born to Run" (of course)
Fleetwood Mac: "Silver Springs"
Clash: "Train in Vain (Stand By Me)" (w/ "This is Radio Clash" a close 2nd)
U2: "I Will Follow" (tho some staffers held out 4 "Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own")
Michael Jackson/Jackson 5: "Maybe Tomorrow"
Nirvana: "You Know You're Right"

R personal fave raves include:
Camel: "Breathless"
Caravan: "The Dog, the Dog, He's At it Again"
Moody Blues: "You and Me"
Nick Drake: "Northern Sky"
Bangles: "Let it Go" ("Dover Beach" a close 2nd)
Go-Go's: "Can't Stop the World" (w/ "You Thought," "Forget That Day" & "Capture the Light" all in the running....)
Yes: "Your Move"
King Crimson: "Starless"
Gryphon: "Lament"
Badfinger: "Baby Blue"
Al Stewart: "Apple Cider Reconstitution"
Rush: "Time Stand Still"
Fairport Convention: "Come All Ye" (w/ "I'll Keep it With Mine" a close 2nd)

...From this list, U can project that the staffers here at the Back-Up Plan R basically schizophrenic, & notta whole lotta fun on dates. Suckers 4 '70s rock, they live w/ shattered illusions ("Baby Blue") & Xpect 2 have even more of them shattered in the near-future ("You Know You're Right," "Maybe Tomorrow").
Aware of the cosmic enormity of life & love ("You and Me," "Northern Sky"), they R at best nihilistic about their chances 4 the future ("Starless"). But that doesn't mean they won't keep trying ("Higher Ground").
They Xpect 2 continue 2 B disappointed at love ("Silver Springs," "Knowing Me, Knowing You," "Love Lies Bleeding"), but nevertheless hope that it will somehow save them in the Nd ("Layla," "Daydream Believer," "Breathless").
Nostalgic 2 a fault ("Time Stand Still," "Promised Land," "Like a Rolling Stone"), harmless & dreamy ("Apple Cider Reconstitution," "Your Move," "Stairway to Heaven," "Raised On Robbery"), they apparently would B happiest just Bing part of the band ("Come All Ye"), & occasionally would B happiest running away & hiding ("Let it Go," "Can't Stop the World").
("The Dog, the Dog" gets in2 emotional areas we R not going 2 discuss in this post.)
...They also apparently spend a great deal of their time going round & round in circles -- the only possible interpretation 4 "Hello Goodbye" Bing in this list.

Neat trick, huh? Amateur psychoanalysis is EZ & fun & can B done 4 free in yr own home. Now U can try it!
Use it 2 chart-out what yr so-called friends R REALLY like.
Can also B used 2 test a potential mate: If U & the test-subject choose summa the same songs, obviously U're compatible ... at least on SOME level. If U don't, obviously U're NOT. We call this "The Bronx Match."
Try this revealing test on yrself, close friends or potential loved 1's & C what it reveals 4 U!
Be sure & let us know what some of the results were!
(...but please don't Xpect us 2 appear in court. The Back-Up Plan is not responsible 4 the results or ramifications of said results from this test....)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Justa coupla things....

THE REAL COST OF HEALTH CARE is stunning, w/ health-care re4m or not. & I'm 1a those 30 million people who doesn't have/can't afford health insurance.
I went 2 C a doctor this past wk, 4 the 1st time since I got outta the Air Force in 1992. I wanted 2 get a physical/check-up, I'm 50, I've got some minor little concerns, & the last time I got looked-at I was 32 & knew everything was working pretty well.
These days I'm wondering why I'm ALWAYS tired, why I can't sleep ENUF, if the massive amounts of coffee I drink (& the TRULY massive amounts of sugar I take w/ it) might B coming back 2 get me. I'm wondering why it takes me 4EVER 2 wake up & so long 2 wind-down 2 sleep at nite, why it Cms like I NEVER wake-up on cloudy days -- or all winter. I'm wondering why my legs so often feel numb or achey or cramped (EZ, I'm on my feet 8+ hrs/day). Is this just what Growing Older feels like? I mean, I dunno. So....
Cost me $100 up-front 2 C the doc, which I was actually OK w/. Other places wanted 2wice as much. He Cmd a Good Guy, sharp, knew his stuff. & we talked 4 about 45 mins, which I thot was pretty amazing. I think we talked over almost everything that was on my mind, + the nurse who checked me in told me I had the blood-pressure #'s of a 35-yr-old, so overall I felt a lot better, comforted.
The doc knew I had no medical insurance at all, so he immediately dropped the idea of lining me up 4 a colonoscopy, which he said he'd normally recommend 4 some1 my age. (Ugh. & do they use a wide-angle lens w/ that camera? Never mind, I'm sure I don't wanna know.)
NEwho, he printed-out a list of about a dozen routine tests he wanted 2 run on me, 2 C if I might B pre-diabetic or possibly anemic. Some day when I could face the traffic on nothing but black coffee, he invited me 2 come back & the lab'd take some blood & a urine sample & he'd get back 2 me a coupla days later & let me know if they found NEthing significant.
I'd bn advised when I learned how much it was 2 C the doc that if I called the medical conglomerate's billing office I could get 40% off NE future tests, so naturally I called them & asked if there was NE way 2 know up-front how much these tests might cost me.
Estimate: Just short of $900.
If I could pay them within 30 days they'd drop the cost by 40%, down to about $525.
& again, this was just 4 a buncha routine tests, just 2 C if I'm actually healthy & just kidding myself about NE weirdness, just 2 put my hypochondriacal self at-ease.
I started laffing uncontrollably, Bcos THERE'S NO WAY. If I was BLEEDING FROM MY EYES I wouldn't B able 2 afford this stuff.
MayB if I dropped my rent, food budget, junk-food budget, gas budget & used-music-&-book budget 4 the next 3 mo's & lived under a bridge I might B able 2 swing it. My income-tax return already went 2 other stuff (new cheap washer, new cheap lawnmower....). MayB the doc lined me up 4 this 2 C if I was SERIOUS?
The operator at the med office Cmd 2 get the msg from my howling laffter & offered 2 send me a financial-aid package. I've looked at it. It looks like yr basic loan application, basing yr possibilities on yr gross income B4 yr bills, & offering no odds on approval. I hava lotta overhead & past bills that there's not even room 2 mention on this 4m. I am not hopeful.
So 4 awhile I was thinkin mayB I'd just bite the bullet & plow on until something REALLY backs up or I'm really in pain. After all, I'm still functioning. More or less. MayB not like I did at 35, or even at 45. But I'm still here. & I've already cut back on the sugar by 1/2. But not the coffee....
Then my girlfriend reminded me that as a military separatee I could probly get looked-at thru the Veterans' Administration.
I don't know why I didn't think of that -- mayB cos I Got Out so long ago & I've tried so hard 2 put most of it Bhind me.
& Bcos I'm senile, of course....
I called the local VA Hospital about 35 miles down the rd from me. They said they Rn't sure if I qualify 4 their svcs & they won't know 4 sure til they look at my separation paperwork, but most likely I DO qualify 4 at-least SOME svcs, & based on my current income, NE work they do on me would likely B on a sliding scale.... Which means if I qualify, NE work I have done will at least partly B paid-4 by YOUR TAX DOLLARS.
Hahahaha. Now that's what I call REFORM.
Not sure if I'm gonna go ahead w/ this, tho whatever the VA can offer has GOTTA B cheaper than $900, or even $525. But if I've gotta go 2 Tacoma 2 fill-out paperwork, I'm gonna make a Day of it, hit the good used-bookstore, dump off some music I can't hear, make it worth the trip & the gas $$$.
I'll keep U posted. But my point was: Cheezus, health care is crazy Xpensive. Thank Ghod I don't have NEthing life-threatening. Just a few dozen minor complaints....

GUNNING FOR THE RECORD: I'm not mucha a sports fan NEmore, but I C the New Jersey Nets hava shot at turning-in the worst NBA season-record EVER, eclipsing the old futility record set by the 1972-73 Philadelphia '76ers (who went 8-72 or something that yr).
All the Nets have gotta do is lose 10 of their last 12 games. Should B EZ, right?
If I were sitting on the Nets' bench, I'd B gunning 4 the record. If U're gonna B really bad, B RECORD-BREAKING BAD. Don't waste the season. Nobody remembers who was 2nd-worst ever. If yr gonna B terrible, go 4 the record books. That's a record I could get Bhind & cheer 4. Seriously.
Remember a few yrs back when the Detroit Tigers were within reach of the 1962 New York Mets' record 4 worst MLB season ever (42-120)? If I'd bn in the Tigers' dugout I'da bn urging my teammates 2 throw the games. Again: If yr gonna B really bad, don't waste it. B the Worst Ever. At least get SOMETHING outta a terrible season -- yr name in the record books! Salvage something from the humiliation. Other than a paycheck.
But the Tigers couldn't bite the bullet. They Nded-up merely the 2nd-worst ever. Not much applause 4 that.
I C the "Nots" have already won 1 of their final dozen games & may Nd up dodging the record, & I think that's 2 bad. I think it shows a real lack of courage. A criminal lack of willingness 2 join basketball's Hall of Shame. They could B the Bob Ueckers, the New York Mets of basketball. (Didn't the San Diego Clippers hava run at that title awhile back?)
Who wouldn't B ... honored ... 2 wear a title like that?
...My outlook here may stem from the fact that I was always a klutz at sports while growing up, & back in my newspaper daze I always had more fun covering the losers than the winners -- & THEY Cmd 2 B having more fun, 2.
Summa my fave stories ever were the 1's about the intramural baseball team of Brits who lost every single 1 of their 18 games & hoped 2 at least have the rules of "American baseball" down by the next season; or the AF volleyball team who lost nearly every game, Nded up in the cellar, & had players go on-leave rather than face another loss....
But I got warped in this area WAY back. Someday I'll tell U the story of how in junior-high I helped my team lose a basketball relay by missing at least 37 consecutive shots at the 2nd hoop (after getting the 1st 1 on the 1st try), still standing there making shots in an MT gym as the relay Nded & everybody headed 2 the showers w/o me....
I think it was probly at that Xact moment that I Bcame a reporter, put here 2 watch other people do fun things & then write about them. U do NOT want 2 hear this story....

Neglected Albums of the Week #3

Started Fri aft w/ 2 trax from Gong's YOU (1974), sorta 1 last chance B4 I take the album 2 the big trade-in record store in the sky.
"Master Builder" has some nice gruff sax by Didier Mahlerbe, & "A Sprinkling of Clouds" has some nice synth from Tim Blake, good guitar riffage from Steve Hillage, & later some pleasantly airy Mahlerbe flute. But the rest is just sorta directionless jamming, tho it does build-up some in10sity. The actual tuneage is a little thin, diffuse, elusive -- & tho I've tried 2 hear it, what's here just isn't ENUF, somehow, & the cluttered production & thick mix doesn't help. There's a lot going on w/ this ensemble, & I can't hear enuf of it. & the vocals R still dumb.
So, after 2 yrs & lotsa plays, my verdict is: OK music 4 waking-up or folding the laundry. Otherwise.... YOU will B traded-off soon unless some1 out there wants it. & U can have my card as a 4mer on-the-edge music-listening-guy w/ it, I guess....
Moving then slowly, ponderously, w/ interruptions, on my way 2 this wk's obvious choice 4 Neglected Album of the Week....
Canadian folksinger Bruce Cockburn has an un4tun8 last name (it's pronounced Co-burn), but RESUME (1981, which is, of course, pronounced re-zoom-ay, best I can do w/ this silly laptop, can't do an accent over the E w/o Nding-up in some other dimension) is a pretty solid+ 9-track best-of collection of summa Bruce's earlier work, from the 4 albums that were released in America B4 he sorta hadda breakthru w/ 1979's DANCING IN THE DRAGON'S JAWS & the minor hit "Wondering Where the Lions Are." But Cockburn released something like 10 albums B4 DANCING, many of them only in Canada.
There's nothing on RESUME that's as dramatic & catchy as "Incandescent Blue" or as haunting as "Badlands Flashback" offa DANCING (both of which I played B4 putting-on RESUME), but there's lotsa stuff that's close. (If it helps, the best songs on DANCING R the longer 1's, & "Badlands Flashback" is worth hearing just 4 Pat Godfrey's superb cascading-waterfall piano & the cosmic mood Bruce conjures-up even while singing in French! ... Doesn't matter, U can tell he's Seeing Things....)
The best stuff on RESUME is at the start & finish. "Silver Wheels" is a Dtailed trip from the placid country in2 the huge, bustling city until the Dtail piles-up & Xplodes & it sounds like Bruce is losing his grip. Xcellent dramatic piece w/ nice gtr work -- all it lacks 2 B really superb is a contrasting mood-break in the middle; Bruce's backing band almost succeeds in this w/ a sorta fluttery flugelhorn solo at the Nd, but the break shoulda happened earlier....
"The Coldest Night of the Year" is pleasant but leans a bit 2 much toward lite vocal jazz in an apparent attempt at another single 2 follow-up "Lions." This was a mistake -- U can't soften-up Bruce cos mosta the time he can't get much softer.
"Can I Go With You?" is pleasant & has some nice gtr work. "Laughter" really will make U laff, at least at 1st. It's Bruce Bing obviously ironic, which apparently took him awhile -- usually he's very straight4ward & earnest.
"Water into Wine" is a 5-min acoustic-gtr showcase, nice but not stunning. "Mama Just Wants to Barrelhouse All Night Long" is pretty Mbarrassing. "Lord of the Starfields" (which immediately follows) is pleasant, but minor compared 2 what follows it.
"Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Hand" is Bruce Bing cosmically freaky again, & has some great spacey lyrics ("I've got planets in my palm/There's a red smear in the sky...."). Nice chimy gtr work here, 2. "Dialogue With the Devil" is a dramatic 8-min solo live tightrope walk w/ a beautiful Nding.
...& that's all. Personally, I woulda bn OK w/ a 2-record set, cos (if U haven't noticed already) I'm a sucker 4 this folk-based stuff (I have work by Fairport Convention & Nick Drake waiting in the wings). & apparently RESUME has never bn issued on CD. I hadn't heard it since about 1982 myself. Worth trackin down....
Bruce got More Political & angrier after this, scoring almost-hits w/ "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" & "Lovers in a Dangerous Time," + releasing a whole string of albums -- & he's still releasing albums. & there's 2 2-CD packages of singles that avoid mosta the songs listed above. So there's plenty out there 2 choose from.... Bruce is practically a Canadian institution now, & has even had a tribute album of his works issued. Bare Naked Ladies covered "Lovers in a Dangerous Time," & their version sounds like 5 overdubbed Bruce's singing....
Ran outta time & finished-off w/ Eno's "The True Wheel" offa TAKING TIGER MOUNTAIN (BY STRATEGY), mainly so I could vote in Rastro's poll over at LA HISTORIA DE LA MUSICA ROCK (R U reading Rastro? U SHOULD B -- now he's writing poetry sorta based on blues-singer Robert Johnson's life & mystique, & it's freaking BRILLIANT -- go check it out right now, it's WAY better than my babblings) ... where was I? Oh yeah.... "The True Wheel" is as cute & odd as NEthing else I've heard by Eno so far, but Phil Manzanera's gtr solo, which is what I was listening-4, sounds kinda flat & clanky -- mayB Eno "treated" it? It sure didn't jump outta the speakers at me.
Course it could B that my cheap, tinny, no-bass, 3-inch-speaker CD player isn't playing me everything it should B -- tho everything else sounds normal. I've gotta test coming up 4 it, tho: I'll put on Fairport's "Tale in Hard Time" or "Meet on the Ledge" or "Come All Ye" or "I'll Keep it With Mine" or "Sloth," turn it up loud & C how it sounds.... More of this soon, I promise.
CURRENTLY READING: Norman Spinrad's SCIENCE FICTION IN THE REAL WORLD and STAYING ALIVE: A WRITER'S GUIDE, both of which R funny & abrasive enuf 2 keep me laffing out-loud....
& BTW, now over 100 posts since I opened-up shop here at Blogger last Aug. I don't Blieve it either....

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mixin' it up

Awhile back when I wrote here that I'd only ever made 1 mix tape 4 NE1, I musta 4got10 a couple. At the very least, I can say I've never made NE other mix tapes 4 NE1 who was a love intrest of mine....
Back when I was working in the record store I made a tape of lotsa Gentle Giant stuff 4 a couple who Cmd 2 B really in2 them, & in2 my brand of Strange Music in general (they bot copies of Group 87, Sky, Pat Metheny, etc). Mosta that Gentle Giant stuff was outta print in the US at that time, so I didn't feel 2 guilty about making a tape 4 them (since they were sound-quality nuts they probly bot the albums later on vinyl or CD NEway). But my boss told me not 2 make a habit of it.
When I was at the Army and Air Force Hometown News Center (that place where I colored forms w/ yellow & purple markers 4 2 yrs), I made sevral tapes of off-the-wall art-rock & lite jazz 4 a news-story-composer named Marsha Surad who Cmd 2 B in2 off-the-wall stuff. I tried 2 impress her, but she never said if NEthing knocked her out. & 4 some reason I never asked. MayB cos I didn't want NE1 2 B disappointed w/ the music I loved, or 2 say 2 me: "Oh, so THIS is what U LIKE?"
The Gentle Giant "best-of" ran something like this:

Pentegruel's Nativity/Schooldays/The Advent of Panurge/Raconteur, Troubadour/Knots/The Runaway/An Inmate's Lullabye/Edge of Twilight/Proclamation/So Sincere/Cogs in Cogs/Valedictory/On Reflection/Free Hand/Time to Kill/His Last Voyage/Talybont/Peel the Paint/Mister Class and Quality/Power and the Glory

...In short, mosta the PRETENSIOUS import best-of, all the good stuff on FREE HAND, + the best remaining stuff on the GIANT STEPS import best-of. I would've added "Think of Me With Kindness" & the live version of "Funny Ways," but I hadn't heard either of those at that time.
I hadda theory about how all this stuff would fit 2gether. The couple I assembled the tape 4 weren't big fans of loudness (I knew their least-faverite track on FLEETWOOD MAC LIVE was "I'm So Afraid," they thot it was noise & I couldn't convince them that those guitar fireworks had a purpose & meaning), so if I was gonna include NEthing loud I'd havta ease them in2 it, or sneak it in.
So I figured "Pentegruel" & "Schooldays" would ease them in; "Panurge" wasn't 2 loud or jarring, or at least only briefly. "Raconteur" would lull them back in2 comfort so that they'd get thru the Ntwining vocals in "Knots," the breaking-glass intro 2 "Runaway," the dissonances of "So Sincere" & the rather computerized electronics in "Cogs in Cogs" (still 1 of my faves). If they survived "Knots" they'd have no trouble w/ "On Reflection," "Free Hand" was comparatively loud but they'd survive, & the sweet vocals in "Time to Kill" & "His Last Voyage" would lull them thru in2 the Gryphon-like sounds of "Talybont," & by the time they got 2 the jarring ugliness of the 2nd 1/2 of "Peel the Paint" (frankly included just 2 sorta fill space), they'd manage it. + I included the then-rare single-only title track 2 POWER AND THE GLORY.
Well, it worked, far as I know. I mean, they never complained. & whenever they came back in2 the shop they asked what kind of weird stuff I'd bn listening-2 lately. So I guess I didn't scare them off....
The tapes 4 Marsha were a lot more wide-ranging. I wanted 2 find stuff that'd knock her over. The tapes included:

Steve Tibbetts: "Ur"
Providence: "Fantasy Fugue"
Camel: "Breathless"/"Echoes"
Caravan: "The Dog, the Dog, He's At it Again"
Gryphon: "Lament"/"Spring Song"
Pat Metheny: "New Chatauqua"/"Ozark"/"Praise"/"The Search"
Lyle Mays: "Ascent"
Caravan: "Memory Lain/Hugh/Headloss"
Beach Boys: "Our Prayer"/"Cabinessence"/"Surf's Up"
Gryphon: "Ethelion"

Gryphon: "The Ploughboy's Dream"/"(Ein Klein) Heldenleben"
Kate Bush: "The Man With the Child in His Eyes"
Happy the Man: "Wind-Up Doll Day Wind"/"Open Book"
Camel: "Rhayader/Rhayader Goes to Town"/"Flight of the Snow Goose"
David Sancious and Tone: "The Play and Display of the Heart"
Kate Bush: "December Will Be Magic Again"
Sky: "Vivaldi"/"Scipio"/"Watching the Aeroplanes"
Providence: "If We Were Wise"
Fleetwood Mac: "Silver Springs"
Group 87: "One Night Away From Day"
Nektar: "It's All Over"

Yes: "Your Move"/"Turn of the Century"/"Wonderous Stories"
Sky: "Where Opposites Meet"
Mike Oldfield: "Incantations Part I"/"Ommadawn Part I"/"Arrival"
Genesis: "Your Own Special Way"/"Afterglow"
Caravan: "All the Way (With John Wayne's Single-Handed Liberation of Paris)"
Kate Bush: "Empty Bullring"

This is about the best I can do 4 a contents list, w/ my bad memory.
...I had theories about these, 2. Marsha had no problem w/ noise, & she'd heard John Coltrane & Miles Davis, so I wasn't worried about offending her w/ stuff that didn't "sound pretty." I opened w/ the guitar-meltdown of "Ur" 2 sorta clear-out her head, then tiptoed along w/ sweet vocal pieces like "Fantasy Fugue" & "Breathless," opened it up again w/ "Echoes," then combined the sweet vocal pieces w/ more complicated music in "The Dog, the Dog," & onward: the gorgeous suite form of "Lament," w/ vocals added on "Spring Song," & then in2 lite jazz w/ Pat Metheny & Lyle Mays.
Tried 2 balance the vocal pieces w/ the instrumentals thruout the rest, tho the last tape was pretty heavily instrumental. & I've always thot mix tapes should have their own dramatic momentum, a definite Bginning, middle & Nd, an Nd U can hear coming in the choice of music.
Tried 2 find stuff that was sweet, catchy, nice, atmospheric. Not 2 loud. Didn't include NE King Crimson. MayB should have, just 4 shock value. MayB added-on "Red" or "Starless" or "The Great Deceiver" or "Cat Food" at the Nd of a side, just 2 C how she'd react. Thinking about it now, I'm SURE I should have, just Bcos it woulda guaranteed a reaction.
I don't think Marsha ever told me what she thot of the music overall. I don't remember her ever saying NEthing, NEhow. I woulda bn thrilled if she'd said something like "Where can I find some more stuff like this?"
Ah well, at least she didn't complain....
Needless 2 say, I think U out there would like mosta these, 2... if U haven't heard them already....

The cassette recorder changed my life!

I got a cassette tape-recorder 4 my birthday in 1971 & immediately Bgan recording my faverite songs off the radio.
But I'd bn listening long enuf by then that summa my faves were mayB a little odd: The Royal Guardsmen's "Snoopy's Christmas," English Congregation's "Softly Whispering I Love You," Jimmy Castor Bunch's "Troglodyte," the Wackers' "I Hardly Know Her Name," Johnathon King's "A Tall Order for a Short Guy," Billy Lee Riley's "I've Got a Thing About You, Baby," Manfred Mann's Earth Band's "Living Without You," El Chicano's joyous version of Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl," Van's "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)," Mal's "Mighty Mighty and Roly Poly," Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's "Some of Shelley's Blues" & "House at Pooh Corner," Kracker's "Because of You (The Sun Don't Set)," Chris Hodge's "We're On Our Way," Joni Mitchell's hilarious blowout "Raised on Robbery"....
The early '70s were a pretty amazing time, musically. Radio playlists Cmd A LOT more open than they would B later or R now, & there was always some great new music 2 discover -- especially when U didn't really know NEthing. I Cmd 2 lean toward the really pop-ish or the really strange. But, like every 12-yr-old, I was cer10 that I knew EVERYTHING. The world was an Xciting, inviting place, w/ plenty 2 do & learn. I knew there was a whole world of adventure waiting 4 me, & I learned about it partly thru what was on the radio.
I wasn't the only 1. My friends Barry Anderson, Paul Fritts, Gene Goodell, Mike Harvey, Buddy Pitts, Fred & Ernie Paul were all listening. We were all music fans.
I remember shooting hoops at Fred & Ernie's house while the Doobie Bros' "Listen to the Music" played on the radio. Bginning-writer Barry was the only other Partridge Family fan I ever met (I'm sure he'd deny it 2day). Mike Harvey was the only Carpenters fan I ever met. Gene Goodell was the 1st guy I ever met who was in2 Led Zeppelin -- 2 scary 4 me way back then, B4 I heard "Stairway to Heaven," & even that was ... a little Out There. I remember playing football w/ all these guys & R buddy Mike Fisher while Tacoma's KTAC played the Moody Blues' "Ride My See-Saw," followed by Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" after 10 pm....
My next-door neighbor, slightly-older Mike Page was in2 even scarier stuff: Grand Funk & Black Sabbath & Ghod knows what else, tho he did toss me some great singles like Bullet's "White Lies, Blue Eyes" & Adam Wind's "Nobody's Boogie."
& all these friends somehow 4gave me when I bot the 1st Osmonds album (shock! horror!). & I'm sure they'd all laff 2 discover that I finally obtained the 1st 3 long-coveted Partridge Family albums atta garage sale 15 yrs later....
& while we loved the music, we were all stumbling R way outta gradeschool & in2 junior-highschool, still telling stupid gradeschool jokes, still mostly scared 2 death of girls ("We've gotta square-dance with THEM?! Hold their sweaty fish-like hands? Euuuuu!" ... Not realizing they were thinking the same thing about us....).
Considering the buncha geeks I hung around w/ back then, I thot at the time that we were a pretty talented bunch. None of us were Xactly dummies. Barry was the only writer I knew who I thot mighta had a wilder, darker imagination than me. Buddy was sharp, Mike Fisher & Paul both came across as avg guys, but neither of 'em were dummies. We were all in the top 10 percent of R class. Mike Harvey was kinda a doofus socially (I'm sure he'd agree), but he knew what was goin on. Gene was the most advanced socially, the bravest w/ girls. & Fred & Ernie coulda bn a standup-comedy team.
Fred & Ernie were Xcellent improvisational comedians. In addition 2 the latest hits, each morning KTAC would air some kinda 5-min comedy feature -- "The Tooth Fairy," or "The Adventures of Chicken Man" -- & 1nce I'd got10 comfterble w/ the new cassette-recorder, the 3 of us tried our own little comedies, completely unscripted off-the-cuff satires of late-'60s TV shows like STAR TREK or THE MOD SQUAD, then both Bing shown in TV reruns every aft. I never knew where stuff was going next, but Fred & Ernie pulled it 2gether. Hilarious stuff! I hope they Nded-up out in Hollywood writing comedies or something....
I'm sure there musta bn other comedies, tho all I can remember was 1 journey in2 the nearby woods, narrating the wonders we saw w/ each step as we went.... U could hear me narrating seriously, while in the background Fred & Ernie made raucous "Awk-awk, eek-eek, tooky-tooky" bird noises & then collapsed in wheezing laffter....
...& don't I wish I still had the original tapes of all this foolishness, if only 4 blackmail purposes.... Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham started out making jungle noises onna cassette tape recorder, ya know....
Course I only had these friends 4 a coupla yrs B4 I moved away 2 somewhere the radio reception wasn't as good.... Then I moved 2 Idaho, where from my basement bedroom I could pick-up radio signals from all over the West. But it took a couple more yrs B4 I came back out of the basement socially.
I probly spent 1/2 of highschool in my room, under the headphones, recording everything off the radio that sounded good, eventually piling-up around 100 cassettes full of music, finally going out & buying albums, the resta the time writing & mostly Bing bored.
But eventually I re-emerged -- 4 friends like Jeff Mann & Don Vincent, & Newspaper class, & a highschool sweetheart named Allison....

The Musical Box

(No, this is not going 2 B an essay about early Genesis, but thank U 4 asking....)
I've got nothing new, fresh, insightful or funny 2 say about albums at this time, so my next coupla posts R likely 2 B about the mix tapes I've bn putting 2gether since about 1971 (long B4 we ever called them "mix tapes") -- which gives me more stuff 2 write about & a wider range of weirdness 2 discuss.
I've got mix-cassettes in the house that date back 2 late 1980, & don't I wish I still had summa those old, olde tapes still lying around -- but they've fallen apart or locked-up or bn lost during my many moves, & the stuff from '80 was an attempt 2 record my then-Ntire music collection. (But I'll talk about that Olde Stuff later....)
Lotta that olde stuff was recorded directly off the radio (wherever I was living at the time), & there's music I 1nce had on-tape that I've never Cn 4 sale NEwhere. But some tapes were assembled from purchases made at garage- & yard sales, like 1 of the Ultimate Garage Sales in my past....
What follows is sorta a soundtrack on the radio station in my head. I shoulda grown-up 2 B an oldies station....

JIM YULE'S RECORD COLLECTION (highlights), 7 90-min cassettes, recorded in September 1996, including:
Fanny: "Charity Ball"
Uriah Heep: "Easy Livin'"
Guess Who: "Road Food"
Gordon Lightfoot: "The Circle is Small"
Lobo: "A Simple Man"
Glen Campbell: "Try a Little Kindness"/"It's Only Make Believe"/"Gentle On My Mind"
Blue Ridge Rangers (John Fogerty): "Hearts of Stone"
Mason Williams: "Classical Gas"
Fendermen: "Mule Skinner Blues"
Trashmen: "Surfin' Bird"
Dramatics: "What'cha See is What'cha Get"
Freddy Cannon: "Palisades Park"/"June, July and August"
Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart: "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight?"
Beau Brummels: "Laugh, Laugh"
Lesley Gore: "You Don't Own Me"
Ricky Nelson: "Hello, Mary Lou"/"Stood Up"/"Be-Bop Baby"/"Waiting in School"
Steam: "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye"
Dion: "Daddy Rollin' (in Your Arms)"
Cowsills: "Hair"
American Breed: "Bend Me, Shape Me"
Johnny Rivers: "It Wouldn't Happen With Me"/"Memphis"
Beach Boys: "Kiss Me, Baby"
Elvis Presley: "Mystery Train"/"Promised Land"
Chuck Berry: "You Never Can Tell"
Legendary Stardust Cowboy: "Paralyzed"
Santana: "Everybody's Everything"
Beatles: "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)"/"Old Brown Shoe"
T-Bones: "No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach's In)"
Original Caste: "One Tin Soldier"
First Class: "Beach Baby"
John Fogerty: "Almost Saturday Night"/"Rockin' All Over the World"
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: "House at Pooh Corner"
Bobby Russell: "Saturday Morning Confusion"
Edward Bear: "Close Your Eyes"
Bachman-Turner Overdrive: "Tramp"
Mashmakhan: "As the Years Go By"
John Denver: "Farewell Andromeda"
Michael Murphey: "Carolina in the Pines"
Raiders: "Do Unto Others"
Loudon Wainwright III: "Dead Skunk"
Stampeders: "Sweet City Woman"
Tin Tin: "Toast and Marmalade for Tea"
Jimmy Castor Bunch: "Troglodyte"
Focus: "Hocus Pocus II"
Left Banke: "Desiree"/"I've Got Something on My Mind"
Fleetwood Mac: "Dissatisfied"
Turtles: "Grim Reaper of Love"/"We'll Meet Again"

...During my 6 yrs in Worland, Wyoming, I Bcame addicted 2 spring/summer garage & yard sales. 4 a place in the Xact Geographical Middle Of Nowhere, the folks in Worland hadda lotta good stuff that they sold 4 dirt-cheap prices. (My X-wife Cyndi later made a pretty good home bizness outta collecting yardsale stuff & selling it on eBay.)
The list above comes from 1 of the Ultimate Yard Sales I stumbled-over in the late-summer of 1996. Jim Yule was a county-sheriff's deputy who helped run the county jail. We'd talked some previously, & I knew he was pretty laid-back & something of a character.
But when me, the X & R 2 kids arrived at Jim's yard sale 1 Sat morn, what I found there kept me busy 4 the next month. In addition 2 living-room furniture & other stuff, I found off 2 the side hidden from the sunlite a coupla big boxes of old 45-rpm singles.
I looked at Cyndi & she looked at me, then she rolled her eyes, looked upward 4 Divine Intervention, & muttered "Uh oh...."
I started digging. After an hr I told Cyndi she might as well take the kids & head home, cos I was gonna B there 4 awhile....
When I was done w/ the 1st 2 big boxes & already hadda big stack of singles (which Jim was selling at 4/$1), Jim laffed & told me there were 4 MORE big boxes inside the house....
So I crouched-down in Jim's living room & started going thru more old vinyl. As my feet, ankles & legs went numb from kneeling, Jim told me his Dad useta service jukeboxes at all the bars in Wyoming's Big Horn Basin (& there were A LOT of bars around the area), & that's where he got all the old 45's from. I told Jim my Uncle Lyle useta do the same thing back in Boise, Idaho -- that this was just like Bing back in Uncle Lyle's 45-filled garage again, Xcept that Jim had more stuff 2 choose from, & I could apparently take home as much as I could pay 4 & carry. (Uncle Lyle sold-off all the 45's in his garage around 1980 & never even had the courtesy 2 call me, & I never quite 4gave him 4 it....)
Something like 3 hrs later, I Nded-up picking-out some 200 45's, $50 wortha stuff, & I was thrilled w/ summa my finds, music I hadn't heard since age 12, stuff I'd never Cn 4 sale NEwhere.
Then Jim let me in onna secret: There was way more stuff in the basement. We headed down there, in2 a brilliantly-lit pantry, w/ shelves full of old 45's, all in new white sleeves, w/ artist's name, title, record serial# & release date printed carefully on the sleeves. Summa the older singles were in plastic bags. The room was everything Xcept air-conditioned & climate-controlled.
Jim said this was the stuff he'd never sell, tho he'd let me borrow some of it 4 taping purposes if I promised 2 get the vinyl back 2 him soon. & he noted that, as a sheriff's deputy, he already knew where I lived....
I probly brot home another 50-2-100 singles from Jim's security-alarmed airtight vault downstairs (Elvis's "Mystery Train," etc.), & spent the next month taping them as well as the purchased items. I don't even remember how I got home that evening.
Some of the list above is stuff I'd always loved & just never got 2 when I was 12 yrs old & in the middle of a 3-yr-long singles-buying frenzy. Some of it was music I hadn't heard since I was 12 (Edward Bear's "Close Your Eyes," NGDB's "House at Pooh Corner"). Some of it was stuff I'd never heard, but had heard OF ("Mystery Train," Beach Boys' "Kiss Me, Baby," Fanny's "Charity Ball," Left Banke's "Desiree," Dion's "Daddy Rollin'," Stardust Cowboy's "Paralyzed," Fendermen, Trashmen). Some of it's stuff I was a sucker 4 & can't Dfend ("Saturday Morning Confusion," "Hair," "Bend Me, Shape Me," Tin Tin). Some is stuff I scored copies of from lifelong-Elvis-fan Cousin Carol (Uncle Lyle's daughter) when I was 6 ("Palisades Park," the hilarious "It Wouldn't Happen With Me," mosta the Ricky Nelson stuff), & then lost somewhere along the way.
I just remember mainly Bing stunned that such musical riches could B found in as distant a place as Worland, which winter snowstorms often cut-off from the resta Reality, where it often Cmd like time had stopped back around 1956....

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Classic workplace booboos

Last nite at work was SCREAMIN busy -- at 10:30 pm every gaspump was Bing used, the store was jammed w/ people, I hadn't bn this busy in days, & in the middle of it all, this woman walks in & starts announcing LOUDLY:
& she proceeded 2 park in fronta the cash register & shout words in2 my face 4 the next 15 mins.
I started ignoring her after about 2 mins -- she'd started backing-up people Bhind her, & I proceeded 2 ring-up customers around her that she apparently didn't even know were there.
She just kept shouting. I don't think she ever tooka breath. She wasn't angry, just very loud.
She had a short, quiet friend w/ her who never said more than 3 words, but paid 4 what they bot & eventually hustled the ADHD woman outta the store. I just hope the ADHD woman wasn't driving.
Why do folks who have ADHD always seemta announce it up-front as if they think nobody will ever figure it out?
The guy I rang-up after her said: "I thought you handled that rather well."
& I laughed & said: "Yeah, at least I didn't havta throw her out...."
Fri nite was nowhere near as busy, thank Ghod. But I was draggin by 9 pm.
1 of R Regulars came in & bot her usual bottle of wine 2 finish-off her work wk. In her previous visit she'd Xplained that she'd bn renovating her house 4 the past yr, & at the Nd of the work she had all these whiny men hangin around.
"They do 1/2 as much work as I do," she said, "and they whine twice as much!"
& I said U sometimes get that w/ men....
So when she came back in on Fri, I was gonna ask if she ever got rid of all those whiny men.
But Bcos I was tired & Bcos these days my mouth only works right about 1/2 the time even when I'm wide awake, I asked her brightly: "So, did U ever get rid of all those horny men?"
...I started apologizing immediately, & she laffed it off, grabbed her bottle of wine & left. But we'll C if she ever comes back....

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Just an old guy sittin' around playin' albums....

The sacrifices I make 4 U people. Of course, summa my faverite people R U people. So....
Fri was nothin but sunshine & high, whispy clouds & temps in the low 60s, so after sucking up some sun on the front porch w/ my 1st 2 cups of coffee I came back inside & put some music on NEway, 2 help motivate me 2 pay the bills.
I figured I'd go 4 something big & dramatic while I MT'd my checking account -- Beethoven's 5th Symphony, mayB?
Shockingly, I discovered I don't have NE Beethoven in the house(!). So I put on Dvorak's New World Symphony instead, hoping 4 something soothing while I went bankrupt....
I'd 4gotten how loud & dramatic the New World can B. The version I have on vinyl un4tun8ly is NOT the glorious Antal Dorati/Royal Philharmonic Orch per4mance (I have a squeaky old Vox cassette of that), but tho my version sounded kinda listless & stuck in the mud in places -- parts of it R hardly recognizable -- there were also parts that worked well enuf (especially during the gorgeous "Largo" movement) 2 get me thru the accounts-payable portion of the aft's activities.
Only thing 2 do then was lighten-up! ...Slowly....
Started w/ this wk's nominee 4 Neglected Album of the Week, Judie Tzuke's STAY WITH ME 'TIL DAWN -- dramatic, sweeping, orchestrated singer-songwriter stuff from 1979 that could almost pass 4 art-rock. Tzuke released 2 albums on Elton John's Rocket Records, & co-wrote a song w/ Elton on his 21 AT 33 album, but tho the dramatic title track of STAY was almost a hit, overall Judie couldn't give away albums in America. When released by MCA/Rocket, STAY WITH ME's suggested sales price was $3.99, MCA hoping 2 turn more people on 2 a new artist. It didn't work, & her follow-up 1980 album SPORTS CAR sold even fewer copies.
Which is 2 bad, cos STAY WITH ME shows some definite singing & songwriting talent, & they sure didn't hold back on the production budget: The album is like a Who's Who of late-'70s studio pros: Simon Phillips & Peter Van Hook on drums, Roy Babbington & Mo Foster on bass, Morris Pert on percussion, Ray Warleigh on sax, some string arrangements by Elton's old buddy Paul Buckmaster, Clannad's producer Steve Nye on keyboards & engineering, etc. Most of the big dramatic solo spots go 2 Tzuke's songwriting partner & future husband, guitarist Mike Paxman.
But I musta grown up a bit since the last time I played this album, cos the dramatic opener, "Welcome to the Cruise," now strikes me as a Dpiction of a pretty negative & selfish start 2 a love affair. Tho the musical backing is still dramatic & atmospheric enuf, Tzuke sounds pretty Dmanding: "Don't want no darkness in my days/Don't want no clouds to fill my skies/Don't take my time/Don't question what is on my mind/Don't ever try to live my life...."
Course she doesn't make these Dmands all at 1nce & she still has a sweet, kinda airy voice -- but the msg I get is she's telling her potential lover up-front: Don't ask me NE questions or make NE Dmands & things'll B great! Luckily, Paxman still gets an Xcellent dramatic gtr solo in the middle break....
Sevral trax I wanted 2 hear again kinda disappointed me. "For You" is a pretty, overdubbed a-capella # where sevral overdubbed Judies singing in harmony R later joined by a string quartet. It's nice, & the lyrics in the middle R kinda good, but it's not the hushed knockout I remembered.
"These Are the Laws" sorta repeats "Welcome to the Cruise" from the other direction -- now it's the male partner who's setting the rules. MayB. 4 awhile I thot this could B a song about religion, & could B pro- or anti- Dpending on how U want 2 read it: These R the laws, & 4 what I get, that's OK; or These R the laws, & they're 2 much. Doesn't Cm resentful, tho it also doesn't Cm comfterble, & it's still got that big dramatic production....
The sleeper: The album's 2nd track, "Sukarita," I long-ago dismissed as some kinda jilted pop lovesong, 2 lite 2 B very important. Well, this time thru I noticed it built-up a really good momentum & hadda chorus that sticks in yr head + some nice dramatic blasts from the keyboards, & Judie's singing is really good as the song picks up steam, & I just hadta play it right thru again. Shoulda bn a single.
After all this sweeping, NRgetic stuff it's no suprise that the 1st side winds down w/ a mellow #, "Bring the Rain," which is pleasant enuf tho not distinctive -- but if the side Nded w/ the doomy, after-the-bomb-lovesong title-track, then we'd have a heckuva strong side of music here, Dspite my reservations. But I'm probly reading 2 much in2 what was probly just an overproduced pop album from 30 yrs ago. On 2 something else.
In fact, on 2 the 1600's, where Amazing Blondel's ENGLAND (1973) apparently hails from. I'm a sucker 4 their 1972 album FANTASIA LINDUM, which 2 me sounds like a 17th Century concept-album about their home, England's Lincolnshire county. Like FANTASIA LINDUM, ENGLAND features a 1st-side suite of pieces mostly played on lutes, flutes & acoustic gtr (w/ some very subtle strings). Tho the musical accompaniment is impressive, when this trio raises their voices in harmony it's really amazing. Main-songwriter John David Gladwin's solo vocals can B a touch on the effeminate side, but they fit in w/ the time-period the group was harking back 2.
The 1st-side suite, "The Paintings," has 2 great sections: "Seascape" (w/ a stirring vocal chorus by the 3), & "Landscape," which is more subdued. The closing, "Afterglow," I think is rushed -- & the whole suite totals 16 mins; not a minute is wasted. I wouldn't have minded if it had a little more breathing room. MayB someday I'll play the 2nd side of the album....
On2 something more modern -- Brian Eno, by way of Happy the Man's "Precious Laughs," of course....
Eno makes Happy the Man sound positively NORMAL. I've bn getting 2 know Eno's 1st 2 solo albums in bits & pieces (the CD-player is still working, thank Ghod. I have more CD's coming + there's stuff around here I've barely listened-2 yet). On HERE COME THE WARM JETS (1974), "Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch" & "Baby's On Fire" R both HILARIOUS! I had 2 play them both again immediately so I could laff some more. "Paw Paw" features great squiggly keybs from Eno, & "Baby" has some great screechy gtr from Bob Fripp. & then there's the rather arch way Eno sings both songs. Not that Eno was trying 2 B a comedy act, as far as I know....
Other trax may take some more listens. "Third Uncle" has a nice driving rhythm. "Mother Whale Eyeless" is intresting. "Cindy Tells Me" has some intresting lyrics.... I'll B listening 2 much more of this. Like what I hear, so far.
More music write-ups soon, time permitting. Also planned 4 the future: Fairport Convention, Nick Drake, Bruce Cockburn, more Nektar, It's a Beautiful Day (yeah, sure), Spirit, Mahavishnu Orch, Weather Report, Return to Forever, David Sancious and Tone, Pentangle, Brand X, Clannad, & more....
Currently reading: Nothing much....

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Let me tell you how it will be....

Ghod save us all, I've bn doing some calculating recently about Washington state's intention 2 add another $1 in built-in tax on each package of cigarettes sold. (Which I raved about Xtensively a couple wks back under the title "Taxman.")
The built-in tax currently hovers around $3/pack, which means a pack of 20 Marlboro "Reds" sold at my store costs $7.27 after the 8.9% sales tax (which totals 58 cents per pack).
I'm going 2 keep using that $3/pack figure cos it's EZer 4 me 2 multiply-out w/ my 3rd-grade mathematics education. Bsides, the #'s R gonna get huge enuf pretty fast....
I don't smoke, & smokers can continue w/ these outrageous prices if they want, that's their choice. I'm way more concerned about where the tax $$$ goes. & it piles up pretty quick.
Last wk I kept track of the # of packs of smokes I sold during an avg Thursday nite shift -- 25. My store's afternoon guy Steve sez he can sell 30 packs of smokes per shift EZ. Let's say 30's about avg 4 each shift, since that'll balance-out slow shifts (Sun morn) & busy nites (Fri & Sat). It's also EZer 4 me 2 multiply w/....
If I were 2 sell 30 packs of smokes per shift & $3 of each pack sold is built-in tax that goes directly 2 the state, that's $90 per shift, not even counting the sales-tax, some of which I'm told gets used 4 local svcs. (The sales-tax avgs about $15 per shift or $45 per day, just on 30 packs of smokes, not counting NEthing else.)
If my store sells an avg of 30 packs of smokes per shift, 3 shifts per day, that's $270 per day in cigarette-tax going 2 the state, not counting the sales tax. That's $1,890 per wk. That's $7,560 per month. That's $90,720 per year. & that's just from my store.
Let's say the state does hike cigarette taxes another $1 per pack. If I sell 30 packs inna shift that'll B $120 per shift going 2 the state. Or $360 per day. Or $2,520 per week. Or $10,080 per month. $120,960 per year.
My math may not B perfect, but w/ #'s this big I don't think it matters much. & all this revenue is just from 1 little store in 1 little town. & as I'm sure U know, there R convenience stores EVERYWHERE. I've got no idea how many little stores there R in the state of Washington. & that's not even taking in2 account all the big grocery stores & what must B the truly HUGE #'s they R & would B contributing 2 the state's general fund.
The way I C it, a yr of cigarette sales at my little store pays 4 1 state employee's salary & benefits. Since the cigarette-tax revenue goes 2 the general fund, it can B used 4 NEthing the state wants 2 spend it on -- roads, schools, major highway projects, salaries....
Some of this revenue MAY get used locally 2 support county-level programs, police, fire protection, etc. But my understanding is that mosta that stuff is funded at the local level thru property taxes & some of the state sales tax. Most school operations costs R funded locally thru property taxes or levies.
...I just think it's a lot of $$$. & I don't think the state does sucha great job Xplaining where it all goes.
The state is reportedly $2.8-billion short of funding 4 the projected state-gov't budget 4 the next 2 yrs. Gov. Christine Gregoire (who 1 of my customers called "Christine Gargoyle" last wk) was apparently on TV a few days back, saying: "We don't want to do this (raise taxes). But we have no choice." She even called a special session of the state Legislature 2 work-out ways HOW they're gonna fund the budget, new taxes or not.
Along w/ the Xtra $1 tax on smokes, the Legislature is looking at new built-in taxes on bottled water (3 cents per ounce, an additional 60 cents 4 a 20-oz bottle), sodas, energy drinks ... & candy. Water & candy currently Rn't taxed at all, there's no sales tax charged on them.
Why every school kid in the state isn't protesting outside the state capitol in Olympia, I don't know. At least some of the grown-ups have jobs, which may B what the lawmakers R counting on....
I don't know about NEbody else, but I just assume that the new taxes R going 2 B approved. That's usually what Nds up happening here....
I know U folks out there may not care about all this if yr not in Washington, but compare R cigarette prices 2 where U live. If yr a smoker U might especially wanna compare prices & C how much more U'd havta spend if U lived here.
& I think the question's still open about how much the state can legitimately tax 1 item. Coupla folks have suggested 2 me that the heavy tax on smokes is an effort 2 turn Washington in2 a "smoke-free" state. That doesn't really concern me. But I'd like a better picture of where all the tax $$$'s going.
The state's Lotto folks at least publish a yearly report of where all their revenue went -- & a lot of it goes 2 schools & road projects & paying-off 2 sports stadiums in Seattle ... but a lot of the Lotto $$$ also goes directly 2 the state's general fund, which means it can B used NEwhere.
Still, I think the resta the state gov't should havta publicly account 4 where people's taxes go. It's just 2 huge an amount of $$$. Some state Mployees' salaries have bn 2 high 4 yrs. & I still don't hear the Gov or NE1 else offering 2 take a 10% pay cut 2 help get the state thru these tough budget times....
1 last Xample: At my store, 2 packs of Marb Reds cost $14.53 after sales tax. Back home in Idaho, where there is no built-in tax on smokes, my Dad tells me that 2 packs of Marb Reds cost $7.31 after sales tax.
Smokers' eyes bug out when I tell them this, & we all agree that nobody zings ya w/ the taxes like Washington.
Somebody who wanted 2 make a quick profit could haul a truckload of smokes from Idaho in2
Washington & sell em at the state's current outrageous prices. But I'm sure there must B laws against that.... Or else Washington would tax U 4 the smokes U bring in....
...& if all the smokers were 2 quit Bcos of the out-of-control prices, & cheated the state outta all that tax revenue that lawmakers had bn counting on ... I have absolutely no doubt that this state would find something else 2 tax in order 2 make-up 4 it....

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Neglected Albums of the Week

So, it was Fri! & the sun WASN'T out! But I put some music on NEway, 2 help me wake up & mayB get me ready 2 face the world....
Started w/ Jade Warrior's "A Winter's Tale," which I hadn't heard since 1982. Good wake-up music, w/ that transition from the quiet opening w/ the softly strummed acoustic guitar & the flute 2 the ringing electric finale. & it still sounded great after 28 yrs. Very much an early-'70s hippie-pastoral piece, but nice. They wisely led-off their 1972 album LAST AUTUMN'S DREAM w/ it.
I haven't heard the resta the album in 4ever, I'll havta play it all the way thru sometime soon. I remember parts of it as Bing rather unpleasantly, overbearingly heavy (especially "Snake") 4 what was really a pretty gentle band, now apparently Cn as "the godfathers of New Age"....
On then 2 Happy the Man's "On Time As a Helix of Precious Laughs," which I've bn playing A LOT. Can't help it, it's magical -- from the wistful lyrics about love & laffs & the passage of time, 2 Stan Whittaker's wailing guitar interjections against the lush keyboard backing -- HTM shoulda led their 1st (1977) album w/ this. It's also good wake-up music & it's immediately grabbing.
Next 2 Eno's "Burning Airlines Give You So Much More" (from TAKING TIGER MOUNTAIN BY STRATEGY, 1975), a kinda twisted travel-journal pop-song. Not bad, pretty cute. Wanted 2 go on 2 other Eno stuff, was especially looking 4ward 2 "Baby's On Fire" & "Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch" (on HERE COME THE WARM JETS, 1974) (doesn't Eno have great song-titles? I'm curious about "Mother Whale Eyeless," 2) -- but my 6-yr-old CD player/turntable/cassette player/radio/alarm clock/model-rocket-launcher botched up & would let me proceed no farther.
(Probly just a temporary thing -- it's very cranky, tends 2 get tired & stop working, the CD tray has tried 2 eat CDs B4 by closing unXpectedly, has locked shut w/ a CD inside & hadta B pried-open, & I'm suprised it hasn't taken NE of my fingers off yet. But hey, it's got *PERSONALITY!!!* ... MayB I can piece-2gether a new CD player outta band-aids & dead frogs or somethin....)
So. On2 vinyl. Started w/ the 1st side of BUCKINGHAM/NICKS (1973), which I also hadn't heard in yrs. Usually it's "Without a Leg to Stand On" that grabs me the most (still my fave), but this time it was "Crystal" that cot me short, not sure why. Xcept it's beautiful, much better than Fleetwood Mac's later version, w/ lotsa twiddly Lindsey Buckingham gtr & his relaxed lead vocal. Has NE1 noticed that "Crystal" is sorta a watery version of Mac's "Landslide"? Stevie Nicks wrote both of them....
...But the obvious choice 4 Neglected Album of the Week (start of a new feature here, mayB) was Camel's I CAN SEE YOUR HOUSE FROM HERE (1979). Of course it's got some real sub-par garbage on it -- most of Camel's later albums (Xcept NUDE, 1980) R pretty uneven: SINGLE FACTOR (1982) has a CLASSIC 2nd side, but the 1st side's like plunging offa cliff; BREATHLESS (1978) has a very strong 1st side, but the 2nd side's very hit-or-miss.
HOUSE was originally gonna B called ENDANGERED SPECIES, a title I like a whole lot better, & an Xpression of the record-co. pressure 2 B "more commercial" that Camel-leader/gtrist Andy Latimer & his cohorts were under.
The album's opener, "Wait," Cms sorta pushy & rushed, but the choruses grow on U & the yearning gtr phrases that lead back in2 the verses R pretty great.
"Your Love is Stranger Than Mine" is the 1st of 4 "commercial" trax -- it's not completely offensive, Dspite the bouncy-poppy tempo. But it could B NE1.
The other 3 "cmcl" trax R all on Side 2: "Hymn to Her" is just kinda lame & meandering. "Neon Magic" is absolutely offensive -- an Mbarrassing stab at new wave/punk rock, rotten from the lyrics on.
The computerized, then-ultra-high-tech "Remote Romance" was REALLY annoying the 1st time I heard it all those yrs ago, but it's really kinda cute & it grows on U like a fungus. But I kinda wonder if it wasn't gadget-y, high-tech album-producer Rupert Hine's idea....
The Good Stuff is buried in the 2nd 1/2 of the 2 sides, as if 2 say 2 hard-core fans: "OK, U got thru the gimmicks, here's yr reward."
"Eye of the Storm" sounds JUST LIKE Happy the Man, as it should, since 4mer HTM keybsman & then-new Camel member Kit Watkins wrote it. It's a gorgeous, simple, keyboard-dominated piece w/ a sorta martial-sounding fade-out. (I understand HTM's version is on their 3RD/BETTER LATE album, hard 2 C how it could top this version.)
"Who We Are" continues the high-quality stuff & is the best vocal piece on the album. A gorgeous, reassuring lovesong w/ 1 of Latimer's best vocals, it sprawls across nearly 8 mins & is absolutely worth the trip. These 2 trax R worthy of Bing included on a best-of.
The remaining track is the 10-min gtr showcase "Ice," reportedly recorded in 1 take. With summa the flavor of Camel's SNOW GOOSE & NUDE, "Ice" is intense & haunting but never quite Cms 2 get 2 wherever it's going. Latimer is a superb lyrical gtrist, but he & Anthony Phillips Xpress more emotion in the 2-min instrumental "End Peace" at the close of SINGLE FACTOR than Latimer gets across here. (So does Stan Whittaker in his short gtr interjections in HTM's "Precious Laughs.") Worth hearing, but I don't think it's among the best things Camel ever did....
Phil Collins supposedly adds percussion on "Ice" -- U'll listen in vain 4 it.
...I never got 2 Judie Tzuke's STAY WITH ME 'TIL DAWN (1979, another album I haven't played in a few yrs), sweeping orchestral singer-songwriter stuff that could almost B art-rock; or Amazing Blondel's folk-arty ENGLAND (1973); or the 2 sides of Nektar's THRU THE EARS best-of (1977) that I don't think I've ever heard; or Gentle Giant's LIVE/PLAYING THE FOOL (1977), most of which I haven't listened-2; or Synergy's ELECTRONIC REALIZATIONS FOR ROCK ORCHESTRA (1975), almost all of which I've 4gotten Xcept 4 the soaring epic "Warriors." Those will all havta wait 'til next time....
Currently reading: Alexei & Cory Panshin's SCIENCE FICTION IN DIMENSION (1980), which I'd hoped collected the series of critical columns (of the same name) that the Panshins wrote 4 FANTASTIC magazine back in the early '70s -- visionary, uplifting, optimistic articles which looked at then-current SF novels & the then-state of the SF field & urged writers 2 try "speculative fantasy," an approach in which the whole universe of the imagination could B Xplored & writers wouldn't havta write melodrama or spend 1/2 their time Xplaining everything....
A coupla those columns R included here. But mainly what SF IN DIMENSION is ... is a bunch of book reviews. & that's fine. I liked their book reviews 4 FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION 2, & mosta those R here. But so far there's very little of the visionary, uplifting, Ncouraging, daring writing I remember, & the book suffers 4 that. But we'll C where it goes....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Coupla great bloggers U should B reading

Once again I take laptop in hand & urge U 2 check out the writings of:
* Naomi McArdle, Ghod's Gift 2 Ireland's Indie Rock Scene. Nay took some time off from blogging about a yr ago, about 3 days after I discovered her old blog & raved about it (at my old website). She said she was gonna take a break & mayB try 2 write novels. But obviously she couldn't stay away. U can find her now at "Run Into Thunder" (http://harmlessnoise.wordpress.com/), where she continues 2 write passionately about the music that moves her. Her March 5 post, "Mix: Cloud Nine," about the dozen or so Irish rock albums over the last yr that have moved her the most, is some of the best music writing I've read in months -- vivid, intensely visual, Nthusiastic, heartfelt & generous. Of course, I don't know NE of the artists she writes about, but thanx 2 her raves, I'll B looking. Bsides, she's a pleasure 2 read. She writes beautifully.
* Eoin Butler's hilarious blog "Tripping Along the Ledge" (http://www.eoinbutler.com/) just celebrated its 1st birthday, which is hard 2 Blieve Bcos Eoin Cms like such a natural at this blogging stuff. (The post about his 1st anniversary includes a ton of hysterical comments that R way more about the artwork he chose 2 go along w/ the post, rather than the fact that he'd actually made it a yr -- this sorta thing Cms 2 happen a lot w/ Eoin.) He writes a lot about music, but also about current events, whatever funny stuff he trips over in a day, workplace relations & politics, hilarious sorta-reviews of various pubs around town, his budding standup-comedy career, LOTSA stuff. He can even Get Serious -- he's bn 2 Gaza & Auschwitz, & survived 2 write about them. As a blogger & full-time reporter, he's busy writing his ass off over in Ireland. & when he gets onna roll U will laff til U cry.
...Both of these bloggers have WAY more readers than me, & I've blabbed about both of them B4. What is it w/ me & Irish bloggers NEway? Their sense of humor? Their clarity & snappy wit & way w/ the words? No matter: Good writing is good writing. Check 'em out....

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Apneac

I was diagnosed w/ sleep apnea in about 1985. Was kinda a shock at the time cos I don't snore much & I'm not overweight -- usually 2 sure signs of a potential apneac.
I was diagnosed while living in San Antonio, Texas, & working at the Army & Air Force Hometown News Center -- where I colored service-members' information forms w/ yellow & purple markers, & later proofread the newspaper stories that were created after other folks colored the forms w/ the yellow & purple markers....
The job was repetitious, the place was like a production line, a hometown-news factory, & I was pretty good at some of it. But 2 attend the Armed Forces' killer-stressful 10-wk Journalism School, where they pumped U up w/ Nthusiasm 2 go out & win the Pulitzer Prize -- & then Nd up at a place like this rather than on some base newspaper somewhere was a real shock.
After a coupla yrs of steady production, I got the chance 2 do something diffrent, got 2 train new civilian Mployees in how 2 color da forms wif da yellow & purple markers, B4 they advanced 2 jobs where they'd actually B composing the news stories based on the info on the marked 4ms. Most of these people would go on 2 earn more $$$ than me.
At 1 point I was training halfadozen new people. My bosses threw a coupla newly-arrived military folks in2 the mix, since I was already training all the civilians. I was constantly training, going over mistakes, showing people how 2 do it better, quicker, faster.
The folks I was trying 2 train didn't always understand, they thot I was Bing 2 picky, & sometimes I couldn't get across how 1 mistake along the way could screw things up.
Sometimes all this training stuff got pretty stressful.
I was constantly Xhausted, it Cmd like the job never Nded or I could never get away from it, even on my wknds off.
Then I started having trouble sleeping.
I'd wake up way early & just stay up, making even longer an already-long workday. Or I'd wake up in the middle of the nite & B WIDE AWAKE. 4 hrs.
Then 1 Sunday aft when I was fairly relaxed & calm, my X-wife Cyndi, who I'd bn married-2 4 3 yrs by then, turned 2 me & said outta nowhere: "Do you remember what you did last night?"
& I waggled my eyebrows at her as if she had just said something sexy, & responded: "Whatta ya mean?"
Cyndi said that the nite B4 I had suddenly sat up in bed, clutching at my throat, gasping 4 breath, lurched 4 the side of the bed, fell off on2 the floor, & started crawling across the floor hacking & gasping, pounding my fists on the floor until I got my breath back.
& as soon as I was breathing again I climbed back in2 bed & went back 2 sleep.
Leaving her wide awake & horrified.
I was suprised enuf already, but what REALLY got me was when she said this wasn't the 1st time it had happened.
I thot she was joking at 1st. I couldn't remember NE of it. Bcos I'd still bn asleep.
I made a dr's appt the next day & they sent me 2 a Sleep Lab in downtown San Antonio, where I went 2 sleep 4 the next coupla nites after work.
The 1st nite they hooked me up 2 an EEG machine & stuck electrodes all over my head & body, & then took a picture of me. It's still my favrite picture of me ever, w/ me looking all lost & Bfuddled, with electrodes all over & wires hanging down offa my head instead of hair.
I remember sleeping pretty well there, both nites. I remember Bing comfterble, not waking up unable 2 sleep, not Bing interrupted. Actually, if the bed had bn a little softer, I woulda had no complaints.
A few days later the Sleep Lab docs called me back in 2 give me the results. They asked me how I thot I did. I told them I felt pretty comfterble during the nites there & didn't think I had much of a problem.
They told me I stopped breathing 72 times the 1st nite & 48 times the 2nd nite, never 4 longer than 90 secs, & that I woke up every single time, long enuf 2 readjust & get myself breathing again.
That's the whole thing w/ apnea -- it's like the body 4gets how 2 breathe until the nervous system wakes the sleeper up long enuf 2 start breathing again, & everything's OK, until the next time the sleeper's breathing stops. But deep sleeping, REM or dreaming sleep -- the kinda sleep that makes U feel rested the next day -- goes right out the window.
They considered me a minor case. 1 doc said he had patients who had basically stopped sleeping Bcos their apneas were so bad. How they functioned during an avg day I couldn't imagine.
The docs gave me just 1 piece of advice -- that I not take up serious drinking. 1 doc said if I ever did start drinking heavily, I'd B "liable to wake up dead."
That was good enuf 4 me. I'd never bn much of a drinker NEway, Byond a shotta Scotch now & then. I'd only ever bn drunk 1nce in my life, & even then I thot I wasn't -- tho there is photographic evidence that shows otherwise: Me w/ 1/2-open eyes, a Santa cap on & Xmas balls hanging from my ears....
Ever since -- Xcept 4 a coupla sips of beer on a really hot day if there was nothing else in the house, 2 shots of Scotch on the day of my Mother's funeral, & a coupla glasses of wine atta dinner w/ an old friend -- I haven't hadda serious drink in 25 yrs.
But the apnea wasn't done w/ me yet. It came back 2 get me again around 1988. Again Cyndi asked me if I remembered what I'd done the nite B4, & there were no jokes about it this time around.
I'd bn under a lotta pressure at work, running the base newspaper as a 1-man-band, & I kept getting these burning headaches in my temples every single workday.
My doc -- in his off-hrs a world-class stair-climb-racer who just missed getting listed in GUINNESS, a feat I wrote-up & helped make him famous 4 all over the country -- thot the headaches were just from stress, & gave me some strong painkillers that knocked em right out after a few days. & I've never had NE headaches like em since.
But he was concerned about the return of the apnea, & sent me 2 a sleep lab at Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center in Denver. No plush sleep cubicles there, just a cot, & a BIG Army medic who wanted 2 stick a balloon up my nose & down in2 my chest 2 C how much oxygen I got in my sleep.
I balked at this, at 1st. The oxygen-checker thing looked like a balloon stretched over the hook of a coat-hanger, & I didn't C how the hell I was sposta get the thing up my nose, down my throat, & down by my lungs w/o choking, or how I'd B able 2 breathe 1nce it got there.
"I'll give you a choice," the big Army medic said. "You can put it down there, or I'll put it down there."
It took me 1/2anhour, but I got the needle threaded & the low-tech oxygen-sensor thingy down in2 my chest. I was actually able 2 sleep w/ it, 2.
& the next morning the medic pulled it outta my nose in less than 5 seconds....
I was still considered a minor apnea case. These days they have meds & surgery & 4ced-air Dvices 2 help folks who have really serious sleep-breathing problems. But nobody thot I was bad enuf off 4 NE of those. They just told me 2 watch the stress.
I've hadda few stressful times since then -- man, I didn't know what stress WAS until I got OUT of the military -- & the apnea kicks up now & then, sometimes not even when I'm under stress. Most days when I wake up I don't feel "rested" -- more like I could sleep a couple more hrs. My roommate sez he sometimes hears me wheezing at nite, but there's never bn NE recurrence of the jump-outta-bed-&-pound-yr-fists variety. Thank Ghod.
When I sometimes write here that I Don't Get Serious Drinking, it might B cos I was never that bigga fan & I didn't get that much time 2 Xplore it. But overall I'd rather B stressed-out & still kickin. I'm sure it beats waking up dead....

Facing Dr. Pagan

NEbody else out there scared 2 go 2 the dentist?
I actually got along pretty well (tho grudgingly) w/ dentists until I met the Ultimate Horror Dentist, Dr. Pagan, in the summer of 1990. I swear I'm not making this up.
I lived in Ankara, Turkey, in 1990-91, courtesy of the U.S. Air Force, during the time of the 1st Gulf War. Tho there were things about Turkey that were kinda nice -- it was CHEAP, U could go NEwhere in the country on a bus 4 $10, the Springs were pretty, & it was VERY DIFFRENT from America -- the Gulf War pretty much ruined all of it.
Tho I did summa the best writing of my life 4 the base newspaper (& got a coupla awards 4 it), the stress was unending, Americans were constantly getting shot-at, & 1 of my friends & co-workers got blown-up by a car bomb a month B4 me & my young family (X-wife Cyndi, son ADD & newborn daughter AJD, born in Turkey -- the Best Thing 2 come outta the Xperience) were due 2 go Back Home.
Cyndi & I went thru the last month there inna daze, & looking back I C it as the 2 worst yrs of my life. But it's amazing how Bing under fire can 4ce U 2 focus much more intensely on yr work -- 2 its infinite betterment.
But smack in the middle of it I met Dr. Pagan. The Air Force was very good at making their personnel attend annual dental checkups. When I met Dr. Pagan I THINK I was having no major trouble w/ my wisdom teeth (tho I may B mis-remembering this). Certainly by the time of my 2nd Ncounter w/ him, 2 of my wisdom teeth had gone bad 2 the point that I could no longer eat or sleep -- Dr. Pagan had put them there by poking-around & clawing at my teeth w/ his various sadistic dental utensils.
Pagan Cmd like a nice enuf guy on my 1st visit. But after 30 mins of clawing around in my mouth w/ various hooks & picks & wedges & other instruments of Dstruction, he in4med me that all 4 of my wisdom teeth would havta B removed B4 they plunged me in2 a world of pain.
I wasn't thrilled. I'd previously Cn Cyndi have her 4 wisdom teeth removed all at 1nce when we lived in Texas, & the docs gave her General Anaesthesia, put her under 4 about 3 hrs. & when she woke up she was white as a ghost & puking. It wasn't pretty.
I was even less thrilled when Dr. Pagan told me -- due 2 some obscure Turkish law or some Islamic ruling reflected by Turkish law -- that he would B unable 2 Put Me Out or even give me Nitrous Oxide/laughing-gas during the procedure. The Turks didn't allow American 4ces 2 have these drugs available, 4 some bizaare reason. I was not looking 4ward 2 this....
Dr. Pagan knew my teeth were sensitive & that I was jumpy. & he Cmd like a really reasonable guy at 1st. When I returned on the dreaded day 4 the 1st 2 of the 4 Xtractions, Pagan shot me up w/ probly a dozen shots of novocaine 2 numb the pain I'd feel. When I complained that I could still feel the areas around the 2-B-Xtracted teeth, he nicely told me I'd better grab holda the dentist's chair & ride it out, cos if he shot me up NE more I'd probly never chew NEthing again.
Looking back, I mighta preferred a life full of chocolate shakes & yogurt. Pagan asked if he should strap me down in the chair. I shoulda said yes.
His plan was 2 pull the left-upper-rear & the right-lower-rear teeth 1st, then pull the other 2 remaining wisdom teeth on my return trip. Why he came up w/ this odd plan I have no idea -- so I wouldn't B able 2 speak or complain, probly. I'd only B able 2 whine & drool until my 2nd appointment 2 wks later....
The left-upper came out w/o 2 much straining, tho Pagan had 2 work at it, grabbing what looked like pliers & wrenching the tooth back & 4th til it came out all at 1nce by the roots. While trying 2 wrench the tooth out, the doc was pulling hard enuf on the pliers that he pulled me up outta the chair.
He gave me about 10 secs 2 catch my breath, then went after the other 1.
The right-lower-rear tooth was much worse. He'd warned me in advance that the lower teeth tended 2 stay imbedded in the jaw & it sometimes took some Xtra 4ce 2 work the tooth out.
He wasn't kidding.
He again went w/ the pliers, & this time when he pulled with them I was DRAGGED up outta the dentist's chair. I flopped back & he dragged me 4ward some more. My tooth cracked. I was already begging him 2 stop. I can't remember if I actually felt NE pain Bcos I was 2 shocked about how much I was getting thrown around.
Pagan tried again w/ the pliers, & I felt the tooth shatter. He sighed -- or perhaps swore -- under his breath, & reached 2 his tray of accessories 4 what musta bn a hammer. He started tapping on the tooth, steadily harder, until pieces of it started 2 pop out. There were pieces of my tooth flying across the room. I was crying. I begged him 2 stop.
He didn't. He grabbed the pliers again, & -- I swear -- he climbed on2 the arms of the dentist's chair 2 give him leverage 2 pull out what was left of my tooth. He began pulling again, again lifting me up outta the chair. I screamed.
Out front in the waiting room, my wife heard what she thot was me screaming & crying. & she was right. She asked the receptionist: "Do you think you might be able to check on my husband? I'm pretty sure that's him making all that noise."
"Sounds like he's having a pretty tough time," the receptionist said. She did get up, go back 2 the small exam room & take a quick look at what Dr. Pagan & his sadistic assistant minions were doing 2 me.
& then she reached over 2 where a radio had bn playing rather quietly, turned the volume on the radio UP, & pulled the door closed.
They had obviously bn thru this B4....
I whimpered & moaned & cried, & Dr. Pagan finally got the last remaining shards of my tooth outta my jaw. & then he left me there 2 cry 4 about 5 mins, while he lined me up 4 another appointment 2 pull the other 2 teeth, 2 wks later.
"I'm gonna give you a prescription 4 a coupla valium," he said. "I want you to take both of them about half an hour before your next appointment. And then maybe we'll have less trouble next time."
Like it was my fault....
But I didn't make it 2 wks. Bcos of his sadistic poking & prodding, in addition 2 the 1st 2 wisdom teeth trying 2 heal after their Xtraction, the other 2 were now useless -- I couldn't drink hot or cold liquids, I couldn't eat w/o pain, I couldn't sleep Bcos of the pain....
I made it a wk B4 I called the dental clinic. They told me 2 take the 2 valium as directed & come C Dr. Pagan again that aft.
This time I was at least relaxed. He only had 2 shoot me w/ novocaine 1/2adozen times. & Pagan had the 2 remaining teeth pulled within 5 mins.
I told him if I'da known it coulda made things that EZ, he shoulda given me the valium the 1st time around.
But I'd learned my lesson. I didn't C another dentist 4 at least 5 yrs, & only then when the pain from the dying tooth got so bad I couldn't eat or sleep. & tho I begged the new dentist -- a very careful, sensitive guy -- 2 just PULL THE DAMN THING, he said they preferred 2 try & save it if at all possible.
& it cost me $1,200+ 2 save 1 tooth.
Never again.
& tho I know there's another trip 2 the dentist looming out there, waiting 4 me, I'm putting it off As Long As Possible. 4 obvious reasons. If the pain of the tooth don't get U, the COST of it all surely will.
& tho there were occasional well-meaning sadists like Dr. Pagan, I've basically got nothing but praise 4 the military health-care system -- they sure took good care of me, my X-wife & my kids. If that's what gov't-run health care is sposta B like, I say Bring It On....

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Some more msgs from R sponsors....

Bn thinkin a little bit more about this whole using-popular-songs-in-commercials thing, & I've come up w/ a few more suggestions that Nterprising advertisers could mayB use.
Of course I'd like a commission if NE1 actually USES these....
What do U think of the following song-commercial hook-up soundtrack ideas?:
* Some sharp divorce lawyer could use The Who's "My Wife."
* Armed Forces Recruiting could use Rush's "Tom Sawyer."
* AARP could use Rush's "Time Stand Still."
* Winnebago or some other sharp RV company could use The Who's "Going Mobile" as a commercial soundtrack. Has it already bn used 2 sell motorcycles?
* Steve Winwood's "While You See a Chance" or "Still in the Game" could B used by the Mega Millions/Powerball/Lotto lottery folks 2 boost sales. (Or possibly even Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler"....)
* 4 awhile (until I gotta chance 2 read the lyrics, actually) I thot Peter Gabriel's "Shock the Monkey" was actually called "SHOP the Monkey," & I thot the payoff line at the very Nd was "Shop the Monkey tonight." I swear 2 Ghod -- & this was back in the day when I could actually HEAR ... & not misunderstand stuff quite so EZily.... I remember at 1st thinkin he sounded pretty in10se 4 a guy who was telling U where 2 shop. I just Didn't Get It. But why couldn't some sharp biznessperson open-up some off-the-wall shop called The Monkey, selling ... I dunno: odd music, old rock'n'roll posters, drug paraphanalia (the shop could also B called "Get the Monkey Off My Back," but that wouldn't fit 2 well on a billboard), old books & music from the '60s & '70s.... Great idea 4 an antique shop, if U folks in yr 50s (or older) don't mind me saying so.... Helluvan idea -- U open the store & I'll split the profits w/ ya. How can it miss? Ya gotta pre-manufactured theme song: "Shop The Monkey 2nite...."
* How bout Peter Frampton's "I'm in You" 4 Trojan condoms? (Or mayB it should B "Do You Feel Like We Do?")
I'm sure y'all can think-up some more obvious 1's. Lemme hear em....

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I'm just standin' here sellin' everything....

We'll return 2 the Nostalgia portion of R program shortly. But 1st....
I remember Bing vaguely suprised & disappointed when a coupla Beach Boys hits were used in TV commercials in the mid-'70s: "California Girls" was used 2 sell Clairol Herbal Essence shampoo, & "Good Vibrations" was used 4 Sunkist orange soda. I just figured mayB Brian Wilson needed some Xtra $$$ in his early retirement.
Wasn't til a few yrs later that I read that Brian's father Murry Wilson sold-off the rights 2 the old BB's hits at the Nd of the '60s, when he thot the Boys were Over With.
I remember Bing disappointed again later when -- after alla Pete Townshend's high-standards purity-of-rock talk in the '60s & '70s -- The Who's majestic "Love, Reign O'er Me" was used in a soda commercial. Eric Clapton's great "Let It Rain" was used briefly 2, if I remember right.
Then slightly later, Steve Winwood started apparently selling his latest songs 2 the folks at Michelob Beer B4 he even put them on an album. Didn't stop those songs (like "Don't You Know What the Night Can Do" & "The Finer Things") from winning him a coupla Grammy Awards, but it just Cmd odd. I thot he peaked w/ ARC OF A DIVER & the 2 singles that came after it ("Still in the Game" & "Valerie") NEway....
& how 'bout the Beatles' "Revolution" Bing usedta sell Nike shoes...? (Thanx 2 Michael Jackson.) & more Who songs have bn used since. Even Led Zeppelin cashed-in (like they needed 2?) w/ the use of "Rock and Roll" in a Cadillac commercial.... Nick Drake's "Pink Moon" in a VW commercial (which likely got him more listeners than he ever had B4 -- a Good Thing).
Now I'm hearing Michelle Branch's rather good "Everywhere" Bing used in a phone commercial -- which is fine if, when U go 2 sleep, U dream of a telecommunications network that can take U almost ... everywhere.
But connecting is not what that song was about. It was about NOT connecting, or at least a failure 2 connect. Can yr phone make U feel less alone?
Now, I'm not saying Branch's tune is a work up at the level of Brian's or Pete's or Eric's or John's or Jimmy & Robert's or Nick's, tho I think it's got some great guitar & it's passionately sung & it Cms sincere enuf. Really I think it's her only song worth hearing more than 1nce, tho I'm no Xpert.
I'm just wondering why all the time we've gotta B SELLING SOMETHING.
Can't a piece of music or art just B?
Now I know we're inna consumer/capitalist society, & who am I 2 Bgrudge a probly 1nce-starving musician from making a few Xtra $$$?
But more & more it Cms mora the art is going in2 the sale, not in2 what is Bing sold. Sell the sizzle, not the steak. Keep the box, throw the contents away.
I know a good head 4 bizness hasta B parta the package if U wanna B a success, specially these days. I remember Hemingway's old line: "When I'm writing, I'm an Artist. When I'm not, I'm a son of a bitch." I think that's a good way 2 approach the bizness Nd of creating art, these days.
Rock critics from the '60s & '70s useta really get bent outta shape about this stuff, about how using pop classics in commercials was perverting the pure strains of the blahblahblah, cashing-in on people's cherished memories, etc. & 1nce upon a time I sorta agreed w/ that. Now I don't know so much NEmore.
& Bsides, sometimes it works backwards. Sometimes it Cms like catchy new songs appear in commercials 1st & then get picked-up & Bcome hits. Which blurs the line even further. R we just trying 2 sell a catchy tune here, or is there something else Bing sold along w/ it? Like w/ that "Had a Bad Day" song a coupla yrs back (Daniel Powter? Whatever happened 2 him?).
I dunno. MayB people can tell the diffrence Btween Bing sold a tune or some other product. Or mayB no1 cares NEmore.
What Do U Think?
...& w/ this, I should probly note that -- if there's NE1 in Publishing out there reading this -- that this blog is COMPLETELY AVAILABLE & OPEN 4 offers 2 B turned in2 a book. My girlfriend has already told me that nobody's gonna buy a book of this stuff if they can already read it on-line 4 free. & she's right, of course.
But mayB this is a sorta dry-run 4 what I Really Wanna Do. MayB it's practice 4 that book on Strange Music that I hope 2 get written B4 I die. Or mayB it's a warm-up 4 that Rock Group Novel I someday hope 2 finish.
So, in the not-2-distant future, if yr in the Music section of yr fave local bookstore & there's some new book there & the author's initials R T.A.D. (or even just T.D.), well, ... hope ya don't 4get U read about it here 1st.
& if my work should B found on the shelves of that bookstore, I think U can B pretty sure I'll B writing in Real English....
I'm also available 4 advertising purposes, if U pay cash.....
Can't wait 4 my 1st Book Tour....

Friday, March 5, 2010

Update 12

It's Friday! & the sun's out!
Bn listening this aft 2 The Left Banke's 1st 2 (1966-68) & Happy the Man's 1st -- they're both keepers.
Mucha the Left Banke's stuff sounds like Xcellent lost mid-'60s bubblegum/early-psychedelic pop hits, especially "She May Call You Up Tonight" & "I've Got Something on My Mind."
On their 2nd album, TOO, "Desiree" really WAS a lost mid-'60s coulda-bn hit: EZ 2 C why it WASN'T, tho. Tho the words R great & Steve Martin's singing is Xcellent, John Abbott's kitchen-sink production & the thick mix of the band's vocals, the harpsichord & the horns musta sounded like a real mess coming outta a car radio in 1967. There's a lot 2 hear there, 2 much 2 focus on really -- no wonder "Desiree" peaked at #98. The CD version adds punch 2 the horns, but as a result the group's "la-la-la" vocals on the choruses sound even more lost in the flood -- still great stuff, tho....
"Pretty Ballerina" I'd heard Xactly 1nce B4, it's gorgeous & haunting. The CD repro on "Walk Away, Renee" un4tun8ly softens what was already a tissue-soft song 2 Bgin w/. Now U can't even hear the cymbal smash that leads in2 the chorus. Still gorgeous tho, & it was 1a my fave songs when I was 12 yrs old....
Summa the rest is ... a little odd, like the band was pulling inna lotta diffrent directions: There's the self-consciously rockin(!) "Evening Gown" & "Lazy Day," & the countryish "What Do You Know?" I could do w/o the self-conscious societal criticism in "Barters and Their Wives" & "Men are Building Sand," & "Myrah" is a REAL downer -- they mayB got 2 psychedelic 2 quick. Haven't got thru alla TWO yet, but I'll B going back 4 more.
& what a songwriter that Michael Brown was, eh? (If U haven't heard NE of his later work w/ Stories on albums like the great ABOUT US, U're missing out.)
The CD version of these albums I've got is pretty cheap -- fuzzy photos of the album covers, no songwriting or production credits, just silly period photos & nametags 4 the band, & Red Cap CDs (whoever they R) can't spell song-titles right or even provide a company address -- but it all SOUNDS really good & I'll B listening more.
+ the CD is jammed full: 27 trax, more than 70 mins of music near as I can count, 2 full albums + 6 bonus trax including the "Ivy, Ivy"/"And Suddenly" single Brown released under the Left Banke name, Brown & Martin's "Myrah" single from '69 & other oddities, probly everything U'd ever want. So I can't complain about value 4 the $$$....
Happy the Man's 1st (1977) takes awhile 2 get started. "Starborne" sounds like flowing mood music w/o something 2 focus yr attn, & summa the other trax like "Carousel," "Stumpy Meets the Firecracker in Stencil Forest" & "Knee Bitten Nymphs in Limbo" sound like jumpy, fast-moving outtakes from "Steaming Pipes" on HTM's superior 2nd album CRAFTY HANDS (1978).
But: "On Time As a Helix of Precious Laughs" is WONDERFUL! Every review I'd ever read of these guys useta really zing guitarist Stan Whittaker 4 his kinda robotic vocals, but they work perfectly here (as they do on the blowout "Wind-Up Doll Day Wind" on CRAFTY HANDS). & the song's theme, about how time passes & how love & laffs hold it all 2gether & help it make sense -- well, if yr a nostalgic like me it'll probly hit U right Btween the eyes. & there's a killer flashy middle section w/ lotsa tasty & dramatic gtr.
Everything after that's at least high-quality. & there's lotsa pretty, flowing gtr/keyboard/flute/sax instrumentals. Summa it mayB shows the band trying 2 show how fast & flashily they can play, when I'd like them 2 mayB slow down just a touch. But I'll B playing this 1 a bunch more, if only 4 "Time."
Ken Scott produced, Ed E. Thacker engineered, getting the same clear, pristine sound he later got 4 Group 87 -- & the booklet w/ this reissue claims Arista Records spent $250,000 on production 4 HTM's 1st 2 albums. I think it was worth it....

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Pot-Smoker's Runaround

Up until the age of 19, I'd smoked the Demon Weed mayB 6 times, always w/ my older & more-Xperienced step-brother Jay from Michigan, always under duress, always in an attempt 2 fit in, always feeling uncomfterble, always w/ a bunch of people I didn't know & had no reason 2 like. The only thing I remember it ever "doing" 4 me was making the power poles alongside the road Cm 2 come at us in slow-motion as we drove back home.
But I remember the last time I smoked the Green Smoke. I doubt that I'll ever 4get it.
In 1979 I shared a 3-bedroom apt in my hometown of Boise, Idaho, w/ my 2 best friends in the world, Don Vincent & Jeff Mann. It was my 1st time outta my parents' house & I was lovin the freedom. 4 the 1st time ever I had a room of my own where I likely wouldn't B interrupted by some1 knocking on the door, where I could even Ntertain a young woman if I wished.
When Don & I moved-in we covered the walls w/ fantasy-art posters & there was Strange Music playing 24/7. The only real clashes were when the girlfriends were both there -- so we tried 2 keep them apart.
We had other friends who sometimes stayed overnite & slept on the downstairs couch, or crashed in the 3rd bedroom, which was just slightly bigger than a walk-in closet.
A coupla mo's in2 this, Jeff returned from 18 mos in Texas (where his family moved 2 after he graduated highschool w/ us), & we invited him 2 move in. Don & I knew Jeff was nuts, but....
Neither Don nor I drank. Jeff smoked & drank Byond Xcess, killing more braincells & spending more time throwing up than NE1 I've ever met. Tho Jeff could stand some of R weird music, his own tastes then were simpler & louder, & he played nothing quietly -- even when the neighbors complained.
There were other minor problems. $$$ was tight, I paid the bills 4 the household & stressed about it. I was wks away from quitting my boring job at the auto parts store & if I couldn't find something better I'd havta move back home -- a fate worse than death. & I stressed about that 2. The girlfriends clashed every time they saw each other, so Don & I sometimes got on each other's nerves. Jeff's loudness got on every1's nerves, even tho he could also B screamingly funny -- when he felt like it.
At what I thot was the worst of it all, I tried 2 mend fences w/ Jeff. I knocked on his bedroom door (he had moved in2 my old room, I'd moved in2 the walk-in closet), & asked if we could talk. He invited me in. He was playing the Beatles' SGT. PEPPER -- quietly. Jeff & I could always talk Beatles. It was a good atmosphere.
& as soon as I got in the room I realized Jeff was working on getting stoned. He'd recently obtained what he'd said was some "killer Columbian," or something. So I thot it over 4 a sec & asked if I could join him.
This made Jeff laff. He always thot I was 2 uptight & stressed-out, & had told me so many times. "You should've done this YRS ago," he said, & I Xplained it had just never bn w/ the right people. So Jeff rolled & lit-up another 1, tickled that his best friend was gonna get stoned w/ him, after all we'd bn thru lately....
So we sat & smoked & listened 2 the music & talked about nothing much. I don't remember what we talked about. I don't remember the music. I'd never heard SGT. PEPPER all the way thru at that point -- I'm still not sure if I ever have. I know Jeff had 2 give me tips on how 2 smoke....
After mayB 40 mins, 1/2way thru "A Day in the Life," a song that's always sorta scared me 4 some reason -- I felt the top of my head blow off.
I remember saying "Oh my God!" & getting up from the bed, throwing open Jeff's bedroom door, & running downstairs 2 the living room. Then I started running around the living room, in2 the kitchen, thru the front hallway & back in2 the living room again, around & around in circles.
I didn't know what was wrong, & I couldn't stop running. I was hyperventilating. & I couldn't stop.
Jeff thot it was funny, at 1st. Then he started getting scared. I was scared already. I was yelling -- Ghod knows what. I was crying. & I couldn't stop running, round & round the ground floor of the apartment.
By this time Don had come downstairs 2 C what all the commotion was about, & found me going round & round & Jeff laffing helplessly on the couch as he watched me circle. When Don heard what had happened it merely confirmed 4 him all the reasons he neither smoked nor drank -- he thot I'd gone nuts.
When I showed no signs of slowing down, Jeff finally called his supplier -- who told Jeff that my reaction sounded like the pot musta bn "laced w/ angel dust," whatever that means. Jeff's supplier urged him 2 get me 2 sit down, calm down -- B4 I passed out.
So Jeff & Don told me I hadta sit down. Ordered me 2, really. That was the only way they could get my attn. If I remember right they had 2 physically stop me from circling the apartment -- they hadta take my hands & lead me 2 the couch.
& I sat down & caught my breath & tried 2 relax. My heart musta bn pounding right outta my chest. I took a deep breath & tried 2 just let whatever was bothering me out.
& then I cried all over them.
4 about an hr.
Jeff said: "It seems like you've got a lot going on in there." Meaning, inside my head.
At the Nd of this there came a knock at the front door. Enter my 4mer highschool sweetheart Allison, w/ her new boyfriend, Richard. They'd hooked-up about 9 mo's earlier, right after she dumped me. I had just recently got10 2 the point where I could talk 2 her again w/o feeling like my heart had bn ripped out. (Tho Allison could B a real sweetheart, there'd always bn some friction among R group Bcos she thot she was smarter than every1 else, she didn't know how 2 hold back her criticism, & she hated almost all the music the rest of us loved....)
Jeff & Don gave her the short version of what she & Richard had missed. When Richard heard about the effects of Jeff's Killer Columbian he said: "I've gotta TRY some of THAT!" & the 2 of them went upstairs 2 do Xactly that.
This didn't thrill Allison, who was inna grumpy mood. Apparently she & Richard had bn having problems. The 3 of us went upstairs 2 the walk-in closet where I put on Something Quiet & continued 2 try 2 relax. Allison might've talked about her & Richard's problems, I can't remember.
After about an hr, Jeff & Richard re-emerged, both of them w/ huge stoned grins on their faces. & Allison started digging harshly in2 Richard about getting stoned -- Allison also didn't smoke, tho she'd hava glass of wine now & then.
By this time I was all mellowed-out after having come down from my emotional storm, & tho I had no reason 2 side w/ the man who stole my highschool sweetheart from me, I urged her 2 give him a break: "He's just trying 2 have a good time...."
"He's an idiot," she said. "And so are you. And DON'T tell me what to do!"
& then she slapped me across the face.
There was a stunned silence as 4 guys' jaws dropped. I'd never Cn Al violent, & I'd certainly never Cn her slap NEbody. She'd never slapped ME B4. & I hadn't struck NE1 in anger since I was 10 yrs old. But after she'd dumped me 9 mo's earlier so she could go 2 bed w/ her new, hairy, masculine philosophy major, well....
I slapped her right back.
THAT woke Richard up: "What the hell...?"
Then I ran outta my own room, back downstairs 2 the couch I'd crashed on earlier, crying all the way. & a few mins later Al came downstairs 2 & apologized, & I said I was sorry, & we cried all over each other. I was all cried-out by the Nd of the nite.
Awhile later Richard & Al left, Al driving cos Richard was still 2 stoned 2 function, apparently. Don went 2 bed w/o another word, apparently figuring we'd all got what we Dserved. & Jeff sat down on the couch Bside me.
"I thot I was gonna laff my ass off when you hit Allison," he said. "After she dumped you, and all the shit she says all the time? When you slapped her it was like -- WOW, hell yeah! I've been wanting to do that for YEARS!"