Monday, October 28, 2013

#721: Book update 2

Hey there. The Book is "cooling off" while I look at publishing options. I spent a few hours last week burning my eyes out, looking through Amazon/Kindle's publishing-contract/guidelines/content-requirements. It's COMPLICATED.
Amazon's book-publishing arm seems mainly geared toward Making Money through editing/consulting/cover-art, but the Kindle end seems pretty reasonable, and FAST -- though I'm still not sure how much to charge to let y'all Out There read this "masterpiece." Will be consulting with my Official Unpaid Publishing Consultant on all this and will keep you posted.
Will note that reading Kindle's content-guidelines made me re-think and tone-down a couple scenes in The Book -- I dropped a total of maybe five sentences that made me uneasy in terms of privacy issues, etc. Nobody needs that much detail.
Even after all this "work," assuming Kindle even looks at The Book, they could still reject it for any number of reasons. Been over a decade since I've had to worry about anything like that....
I'll keep y'all posted. Worst possible outcome is I'll serialize The Book here and see what you all think. Wow -- 60+ blog posts already written and ready to go! In Real English! Ghod help us all....

Meanwhile, I'm feeling pretty useless because I'm not Writing Seriously and I'm not blogging here and I've heard No New Music in over a month. Some correspondent....
Ah well. At least the sun is out today for the first time in two weeks....

I don't have much to say about Lou Reed, who died Sunday at age 71. This is probably just my ignorance -- I'm sure in a few months or years I'll be kicking myself because I didn't realize what a genius he was. I can see that he was massively influential, but I just haven't heard enough of his work, and he was the other direction away from most of what I listened to for a lot of years.
I liked "I Love You Suzanne," and my favorite Velvet Underground song is "All Tomorrow's Parties," and I liked "Sweet Jane" -- but the Cowboy Junkies' version, not Lou's. Heard a bit of his TAKE NO PRISONERS live album and thought it was OK, for a stand-up comedy routine. Haven't even "heard" METAL MACHINE MUSIC.
I'm sure there'll be lots of overviews of Lou's work out there in the blogiverse. I think Lou was just one of those guys I Didn't Get....

Monday, October 21, 2013

#720: Book update

The Record Store Book is basically done. I'm at 61,000 words for the memoir itself -- and a detailed playlist/discography of all the good and bad music we played in the store back in the day bumps it up to 65,000 words, which seems like a good place to stop.
I'm thinking I must be pretty close to finished, because scenes have stopped popping into my head at 2 a.m. and demanding to be written-up.
Except for a couple of minor little music-research details that I have to nail down, I guess I'm done. Have re-read and proofread the book over the last week-plus and I think it's not bad. Some of it's pretty vivid, parts of it are funny, and I think in places it even does what I want it to do.
So, what next?
I'm thinking I might go the Kindle route to get the book Out There, since I've recently learned that self-publishing can be EXPENSIVE. And everybody knows I'm on a Low Budget (Kinks)....
However, I also know you can get lots of books for free on Kindle, so I remain confused about how much I should charge for this masterpiece. Guess that'll come down to How Much Balls I think I've got.... However, I plan to research this further almost immediately.
I'll keep you posted. Am also open to advice about all this stuff. In the current market, I have major doubts about whether a book about working in an old record store has a large enough potential audience to be accepted by an established publisher....
Even if the book DOES have everything a potential best-seller needs -- sex, drugs, rock and roll, it's all in there. A close-up look at a whole subculture that's nearly vanished....
...Uh, sorry, just trying to crank up the hype machine a little, since I guess I'm about to become my own promotional company as well....

Am continuing to use Stevie Wonder, Junior Walker, Booker T and the MG's, The Temptations, The Spinners and Parliament as motivational music at work, and they have all helped get me through the rough spots. Have listened to nothing much New lately apart from songs I'd never heard before played on the syndicated music-news-and-views radio-show SOUND OPINIONS.
Mercifully, this past week at work was easier than the previous week. An update on current work conditions will be posted at THE GAS NAZI! eventually....
It is cold, overcast and gray here, daily high temps around 50. I can tell Winter is coming because I feel like I'm shutting down -- feel like I have half the energy I did a few weeks ago. Pretty much normal for me, this time of year. Hope you are NOT the same....
More soon....

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

#719: Dressing up in women's clothing and hangin' round in bars

My best Halloween ever happened a long time ago, around 1994 in Rawlins, Wyoming -- very much a "Wild West" sort of town.
My family was visiting my then-wife Cyndi's best friend Deb, a former newspaper co-worker of mine ... and between the two of them, the two women I trusted and loved most in the whole world, they hatched a plan for me to compete in a Halloween costume contest at the bar where Deb worked.
Cyndi dressed up as an Old West schoolmarm -- not far from what she was in Real Life. Deb went as a bar floozie -- again, not far from what she was in Real Life.
When they were done putting themselves together, they turned to me. And you could almost see the lightbulbs go on over their heads simultaneously. They whispered between themselves briefly.
I thought I was going to stay home, or at most be their Designated Driver. I was wrong.
"Do you trust me?" Deb asked. Of course I did.
"How do you feel about dressing up as a woman?" Cyndi asked.
I took a deep breath. I could use a good laugh. Work had been a non-stop stress-a-thon, and I could use a good hilarious Night Out With The Girls.
"If we're gonna do this," I said, "let's go all the way out. Let's not hold back. Let's make it something we can look back on and laugh our asses off about."
Suddenly I was Into It. I went to Deb's closet. There I found a garish purple number cut off above the knee, with some thin spaghetti straps to hold it up. Deb pulled out a wild brunette wig with hair splaying out everywhere.
They started laughing. Nobody would believe it. Nobody would be able to take it seriously. It was perfect.
I was gonna be a white, flat-chested Tina Turner.
They started working on my lips and my eyes. Deb slathered on the purple eye-shadow. They lined my eyes in thick black and put on mascara to enhance my eyelashes. All that stuff's a pain in the ass. They gave me the reddest lipstick Deb could find.
They gave me two handfuls of Kleenex for my fake "boobs" -- I had to have them to hold up the front of the dress.
They slapped on the wig, and teased it up and out even more.
When they were done, I looked in the mirror. And I couldn't stop laughing. I was gonna win that damn contest just from comedy effect.
When I was done, my kids looked me over.
"Dad, you look ... funny," said my then-8-year-old son Andy. But he wasn't laughing. I'll bet my then-6-year-old daughter Alicia was even more confused.
We headed for the bar. When we got there the place was packed and rowdy. Deb got us a table, and the ladies started doing tequila shots and other stuff that's beyond my experience. Good thing I was driving.
I settled in, and except for constantly having to pull up the front of my dress, I started getting fairly comfortable.
Until I started attracting ... admirers....
A rugged cowboy type, probably in his mid-30s, sat down at the table right next to me. He was hammered.
"Wow ... you're really something," he slurred.
"Thanks," I said in my normal voice.
Then he started buying me drinks.
I turned to my wife the schoolmarm, who was sitting on my other side -- for protection if nothing else.
"Do you think this guy realizes I'm not a woman?" I asked her.
She gave the cowboy a long look-over.
"If I were you, I'd go for it," she said.
After the contest was judged, we somehow got out of the bar alive -- and to push the ante even higher, we headed for a nearby Truck Stop for breakfast.
I learned some interesting things while climbing in and out of the car on the way there. Like how women in skirts climb in and out of vehicles without showing off all the goods. It ain't easy!
And I had to keep ... readjusting my "boobs" because they kept trying to fall down to my stomach ... which I hear can happen as you get older....
We pulled up a table at the Truck Stop and ordered breakfast. The Truck Stop staff seemed to take it all in stride -- it was Halloween, after all. But halfway through the meal, the Ultimate Challenge appeared.
I was gonna have to head for the restroom. This was a disaster waiting to happen.
So I walked through the Truck Stop, massive hair, slumping boobs and all, and turned the corner to head for the Men's.
From the bar, one of the truckers called out: "Hey, are you sure you've got the right room?"
In my deepest, most manly voice, I said: "Oh. Yeah, right. Thanks."
And kept on going. Faster.
Somehow got out of there without getting the crap kicked out of me. And when we got home we laughed about it a lot. When I looked in the mirror at the end of the night, I didn't look half as "good" as I had earlier. But I was still laughing.
Oh, the contest? Well, I placed sixth. My wife, who's schoolmarm-in-cowboy-boots costume took absolutely no fashion risks whatsoever, placed fifth. And the floozie placed third. Sometimes it's best to go for the obvious.
When I got back to work, I wrote about the experience in a weekly column I did for the newspaper. Nobody knew quite what to make of THAT, either -- whether they should laugh ... or what. And I thought that was pretty funny too....

Monday, October 7, 2013

#718: Something different

Everybody knows self-published books are usually garbage. God knows you've seen me go on and on about several of them in this blog. Usually a self-published book (meaning one not issued by some established publisher) indicates that the writer had a great IDEA for a book ... but just couldn't bring it off.
Self-published books are usually Just Barely in English, were never proofread, and are usually a mass of typographical errors, mixed-up punctuation, and sentences that you can barely make sense out of.
A few of these "masterpieces" have been chopped-up in this blog over the years -- look up such stunning works as Jerry Lucky's PROGRESSIVE ROCK FILES, Joe Benson's UNCLE JOE'S GUIDE TO PROGRESSIVE ROCK, or that Moody Blues COMPANION I reviewed earlier this year.
But there are always exceptions....
Linda Lou's memoir BASTARD HUSBAND: A LOVE STORY is a big exception. It's vivid and funny -- and a bit scary, in places.
I admit I read BH because I'm in the middle of writing a memoir myself, and I wanted to see how someone else did it -- and if a "life story" memoir by someone I'd never met could hold my interest through 250 pages.
That definitely wasn't a problem here.
If you've read Linda's blog, Linda Lou, Live from Las Vegas!, you know she's always direct and funny, and when she writes, she knows exactly what she's doing.
What she's doing here is writing about how her marriage fell apart. There are worse places to end your marriage than Vegas, but Linda shows clearly that Vegas ain't such a party town when you're alone and lonely.
Here's what happens: While traveling for work, Linda meets a guy who seems to be her soulmate. They hit it off, they spend all their time together, they seem to be Cosmically Meant To Be Together. They get married, and as part of following his career as a college professor, they move around The West.
That's when Linda learns that her soulmate husband is an angry, scary drunk. There is an ugly, scary scene in their home in Laramie, Wyoming, that shows how frightening he can be. When they move to Vegas, it becomes clear he has a gambling problem, too.
There's an emotional showdown -- in a swimming pool, of all places. And it becomes clear that Linda can't "rescue" her husband. She can't save him from himself. All she can do is get out of his way.
So she does. He goes on with his life. And while she's looking for work, Linda makes friends, learns about the Vegas nightlife, meets a series of unforgettable characters while serving as a hospice volunteer, and starts doing stand-up comedy at age 46.
There are other good things. Almost every section of this book has some laughs, no matter how serious things sometimes get. Some lines will have you laughing out loud. There is a scene late in the book with Linda's family around the dinner table at Christmas that has GOT to get into some movie someday.
The ending may dribble away just a little bit, but Real Life is like that, and Linda gets something positive out of it. As a survivor's story, it's a winner, and it will make you laugh.
And this book avoids one of my big problems with self-published books: There are VERY few typos. Maybe only two or three in the very last section, which means someone actually proofread it before it was published. That's a definite bonus. You won't be jolted out of the reading experience.
Linda Lou makes writing a memoir look easy. I trust that it wasn't. Especially the ugly parts.
And believe me, these days when I can't get through most novels, anybody who can write about her life and make me hang on every word is worth checking out.
You should check out her blog, too....

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

#717: Junior Walker is God!

...OK, well, maybe he's not THAT great, but most of the songs on Junior Walker and the All-Stars' ESSENTIAL COLLECTION are excellent upbeat mid-'60s R&B/party music, some of the best and most motivational stuff I've heard in months. This coming in right after THE VERY BEST OF BOOKER T AND THE MG'S made September a pretty good music month for me.
Course I bought the CD just so I could hear Junior's "Take Me Girl, I'm Ready" again for the first time since 1971 -- and it's OK, not a letdown. The shock was that practically everything else on the CD is BETTER....
I already knew about "Shotgun," a Top 5 hit for Motown back in 1965 -- but nearly all the rest of ESSENTIAL COLLECTION I hadn't heard before. So if you're looking for some back-to-basics motivational R&B with some excellent sax, ESSENTIAL COLLECTION will Do The Job.
"I'm a Road Runner" lays out Junior's basic approach -- direct, no-nonsense R&B riffs with some good gruff sax and Junior's all-purpose shout/scream to keep things moving. In the same high-quality nothing-but-fun vein are "I Ain't Goin' Nowhere," "Pucker Up Buttercup," "Anyway You Wannta," "Nothing But Soul," and "Shake and Fingerpop." Some of these went Top 40, some are real solid B-sides.
"Probe Your Mind" expands the sound just a bit, into jazzier areas. "Moody Junior" is pretty good stuff too -- if you can get past the show-offy piano in the opening, which keeps trying to turn the tune into that old crooner's standard "The Impossible Dream."
I admit some of the later tracks are just a bit too mellow-soulful for me, if you know what I mean. But even the trendy early-'70s "Right On Brothers and Sisters" is tolerable, and a couple of the other later tracks aren't offensive, even if the energy level is down just a bit. I have yet to play all of Junior's version of "Urgent" -- though his sax on Foreigner's original was the only thing that made that song worth hearing. I'm also gonna have to play "What Does it Take (To Win Your Love)," which I see also went Top 5. Junior's version of "How Sweet it is (To be Loved by You)" is even lamer than James Taylor's.
So: 13 listenable tracks out of 18, value for money as far as I'm concerned. And test plays at work have confirmed that the best stuff will Keep You Moving. Audience reaction to this and THE VERY BEST OF BOOKER T has also been positive, with several customers commenting that it was good to come into the store and hear some good happy-music playing again.
For me, old R&B is about the only thing that's been able to keep me moving at work lately, so much so that I hauled in all the old Motown, R&B & early-'70s Soul stuff I had at home, hoping it would keep me going through the past week. & it worked pretty well. I'm to the point now that I've started to like The Contours' "Do You Love Me?" just for the energy level, plus I played old stand-bys like '60s Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, The Spinners, Sly, and my comedy buddies Parliament -- "P-Funk" and "Dr. Funkenstein" keep me laughin' while I'm movin'. And that's gotta be a good thang....
Is this any way for a white kid from Idaho to act...?

The Record Store Book is now past 57,000 words, and I am STILL coming up with new stuff to toss into it. Closing in on that magic 60,000-word/200+ pages figure that I hope to hit. Still have yet to re-read the whole thing -- got 10 pages into it last week before I had to take a break due to work, and by the time I got back to it I had new stuff to add. Though I hate it, so far my work schedule has forced enough breaks to keep me fairly fresh so I don't get too bogged-down in the book to be able to see it.
Old friends should hereby be warned that practically EVERYTHING I can remember from 1978-82 has somehow found its way into the book -- it's now more a memoir than a lightly-fictionalized tale from my past.
In short: It's still working and I'll keep you posted....

NEWS: King Crimson biographer Sid Smith's POSTCARDS FROM THE YELLOW ROOM website and DGM LIVE have both announced that King Crimson has reformed as a 7-piece band with three drummers and is looking toward touring in the fall of 2014.
Announced members of the band include longtime KC guitarist/lynchpin Bob Fripp, bassist Trey Gunn, drummer Pat Mastelotto, early-'70s KC member and longtime session-musician saxophonist Mel Collins, and singer/second guitarist Jakko Jackzyk. Longtime guitarist Adrian Belew is not a member of the announced band and reportedly was not asked to join....
As someone who saw the Crims live in Seattle in 2003, I think it's too bad Belew wasn't invited to take part. He was a solid frontman and he contributed a ton of great lyrics and lots of cool guitar to KC since 1980. But he & Fripp have reportedly had their clashes in the past....