Monday, September 29, 2014

On Gilligan's Island

J. Maarten Troost's THE SEX LIFE OF CANNIBALS (2004) is pretty funny, even though there are no cannibals in it, and not much sex. You'll laugh out loud many times. It's a funnier, better, longer book than his GETTING STONED WITH SAVAGES, which I reviewed here a couple of weeks ago.
Yes, in this case, bigger is better....
One of the reasons it's a better book is because it's clear that Troost and his beguiling wife Sylvia came to love the Pacific island of Tarawa during the two years they lived there -- despite the blistering heat, the iffy electrical supply, always having to boil the water for drinking, the limited options for food, having almost no communication with the outside world, and not knowing when they might stumble over someone ... uh ... well ... taking a dump off the edge of the reef.
Troost makes Tarawa -- one of the most remote islands in the Pacific, a tiny coral atoll with one road -- sound like hell at first. And then he and his wife adjust to it -- the friendly people, the gorgeous colors, the extremely laid-back lifestyle. They get used to Doing Without. They learn to relax away from civilization. They become almost like natives.
So much so, that by the end of the book -- when they head back to Washington, D.C. ... they can't take it. And they end up going back to the Pacific -- to Vanuatu and Fiji, where they have more adventures as described in GETTING STONED WITH SAVAGES.
Barring having to eat canned corned beef, almost getting killed in an ugly Pacific storm, taking his life into his own hands whenever flying on the island airline, the non-stop 100-degree heat, and random shark encounters, Troost almost makes Tarawa sound heavenly. You almost want to go there -- which I'm sure he wouldn't recommend.
But from the clear look you get at the island and its people through this book, it's obvious Maarten loved the place. Even when they ran out of beer for a couple of weeks.
And now I see he has a book out about China....

Monday, September 22, 2014

"All Blues"

Tacoma, Washington's KPLU-FM "streams" on the Internet at, and they are definitely worth checking out on Saturday and Sunday nights from 6 p.m. to midnight Pacific time when they play "All Blues" -- six straight hours each night of Blues/R&B/Soul with no commercials.
I've been listening for a couple of months -- and now that I'm hooked, I don't have to take CD's to work with me on weekends, because "All Blues" keeps me moving.
I hear they've been doing this show for YEARS -- and it took me years to hear it. I had to wait 'til I was completely fed-up with local radio and wanted to hear some strong emotions directly expressed. If you have anything like "All Blues" in your town, you're lucky. It is by far the best, most varied radio programming around here, and no one has complained -- and lots of customers have approved -- since I started tuning it in at work on weekends.
Now, I haven't become a huge blues fan -- I still can't tell Muddy Waters from Howlin' Wolf, though I've finally caught on to Bo Diddley -- and some of the more grinding, low-down or depressing blues numbers still don't do it for me ... and the more boastful stuff like "I'm a Man" or "Mannish Boy" just makes me laugh.
But most of the time "All Blues" is Really Good Stuff. It's impossible NOT to move to a lot of it. And I'm learning.
I think I first got hooked when they played Aretha's "I've Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You" awhile back. I'd never heard it before. So I grabbed an Aretha Best-Of CD, and realized what an idiot I'd been for 40 years. I knew she was great. I didn't know she was GREAT.
Since then, I just let them play. Unless someone's playing all downbeat stuff, I'm never disappointed. And I can't remember the last time I could stand to listen to local radio for six hours straight. As I said, if you've got something like this where you're at -- with the current rotten state of most radio -- you're lucky.
As much as I like "All Blues," and as wide as their playlist seems to be, they DO have a current playlist of recent stuff that they definitely push. Every night I've tuned in, they've played current blues tracks by:
* Gary Nicholson (as "Whitney Jordan") -- "Living it Down." Sounds like Eric Clapton on vocals.
* Grady Champion -- "On the South Side," which sounds to me like a laid-back old-school late-'60s/early-'70s R&B number, deserves to be a big hit.
* Johnny Winter and Ben Harper's version of Elmore James' "I Can't Hold Out."
* Elvin Bishop's "Blues With a Feeling."
* Mark Knopfler's "Someday," a J.J. Cale song actually credited to Eric Clapton, from Clapton's tribute album to J.J. Cale, THE BREEZE. Sounds like a Dire Straits piece, lots of Knopfler-sounding guitar.
* Dr. John's "Dipper Mouth Blues."
* Mud Morganfield's "I Want You to Love Me," which I can't take seriously -- I know he's Muddy Waters' son, but this sounds like a satire. Course the blues can also be fun, and funny....
* Daveena and the Vagabonds' "I Try to be Good," which is cute, but sounds to me like a Broadway show tune.
* Shameka Copeland's "Never Going Back" and "Lemon Pie."
They also play lots of Bonnie Raitt, Maria Muldaur, Joe Bonnamassa, the Tedeschi-Trucks Band, and stuff from as far back as the 1930's, possibly even older. I'm OK with the old stuff, but I prefer the newer.
They also play stuff like the Alabama Sheiks' great "You Ain't Alone," Dr. John's hilarious "Why Come it is?" (never liked him much, but it's a great, funny song), Lyle Lovett's "My Baby Don't Tolerate," Beth Hart and Joe Bonnamassa's great "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know," and LOTS of Louis Jordan, like the hilarious and racy "Movin' to the Outskirts of Town," which I'd never heard before.
The folks at KPLU seem to enjoy playing Elmore James and Albert King and Freddie King and somebody you've NEVER heard of -- and THEN they throw in Aretha, or The Beatles' "Yer Blues," or Bob Dylan's "Maggie's Farm" just to see if you're paying attention. I also heard Aretha's "Dr. Feelgood" and "The Night Life" here for the first time.
They also throw in old spirituals, a little bit of street-corner doo-wop like The Persuasions, some Etta James and Nina Simone, Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, Ann Peebles' "I Can't Stand the Rain," The Meters, The Neville Brothers, hot guitar and organ and piano instrumentals -- and some woman doing a killer version of "Rock Island Line" ... I've never heard yet who it is.
Since getting hooked, I've bought some more R&B/Soul CD's for the other nights of the week. I've found one REALLY GREAT Bonnie Raitt song I'd never heard before -- "Angel from Montgomery." I'm getting to the point where I almost enjoy Ray Charles -- when he doesn't seem too "old-fashioned" for me. I've got some James Brown and Wilson Pickett CD's on the way -- and I'd like to hear a lot more of the Tedeschi-Trucks Band.
THIS is how radio should be done. It's never boring.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

More not-cranky travel writing

Been reading pretty compulsively since I finished writing THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. Over the past couple of days I read through J. Maarten Troost's GETTING STONED WITH SAVAGES (2006), a fun little volume describing a couple years that Troost and his wife spent in Fiji and Vanuatu.
This is an easy read. There may not be any big belly laughs in it, but you'll read through it with a smile on your face -- which is kind of odd, because Troost talks about stuff like cannibalism and headhunting ... and the importance of kava. Ah, yes.
Troost has a nice light touch, even when things get a little heavy. Like when his house is almost washed away in a cyclone. Or when he has to ask a tribal chief about cannibalism and headhunting. Or when various tribal factions in Fiji try to take power in a coup.
But it's always pleasant reading. Very pleasant. You can read the book in a couple of hours. Now I'm gonna have to track down Troost's earlier epic, THE SEX LIVES OF CANNIBALS. How can you lose with titles like these?
Troost is lighter than air compared to my travel-writing hero Paul Theroux. I'm currently 150 pages into Theroux's epic DARK STAR SAFARI, about traveling across Africa from Cairo to Cape Town. So far it's hot and dry and mildly tedious -- even though the book has probably the best opening of any of Theroux's travel books. The thing with Theroux is he has a great eye for detail, he finds great characters in his travels, and he's always happiest when he's miserable. So I'm sure it'll be worth the trip.
I read Theroux's THE PILLARS OF HERCULES awhile back -- it recounts a year-long trip around the Mediterranean Sea. I was in Greece and Turkey 20 years ago, and I wanted to see what someone else thought. Theroux had pretty much the exact opposite opinion I had -- he loved Turkey, hated Greece, thought Greece was way too touristy and stagey. Hmmm.
Despite that, Theroux's descriptions are so vivid and detailed that you can SEE these places he goes to -- clearly enough that you almost don't have to go there.
And believe me, some of these places you WOULDN'T want to go to....

Coming soon -- A Soul/R&B/Blues playlist....

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Whatta Life!

Keith Richards' LIFE (2010) probably IS the best rockstar memoir ever. That doesn't mean you'll be missing something if you don't read every word.
For me, the reason LIFE ranks high above any other rocker's memoir is because Keith actually writes about where all those great old Rolling Stones songs CAME from -- how they were put together, and what that was like. This puts Keith's book miles ahead of some of those other rockers who barely touch on the music.
Of course, the dirt's here too, if you want that. How many drugs Keith took, and for how long? Check. Lots of details about his heroin addiction? Check.
There's also lots about the women he slept with -- Ronnie Spector, Anita Pallenberg, Marianne Faithfull, Patti Hansen, others.
I started around Page 140, where Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham locks Keith and Mick in a kitchen and orders them not to come out until they've written a song together. The song turns out to be "As Tears Go By," which they think is too wimpy for the Stones, so they give it to Marianne Faithfull ... until they decide to cut their own version.
Then Keith tells how he came up with the guitar riff for "Satisfaction" -- turns out he heard it in a dream. He kept a tape-recorder by his bed, woke up long enough to get the riff down on tape ... then the rest of the reel was 30 minutes of Keith snoring!
Keith writes at length about how he started playing an open-tuned five-string guitar to get the sounds heard in "Jumping Jack Flash," "Honky Tonk Women," "Happy," "Tumbling Dice".... He also confirms that on "Happy" it's mainly just him on guitar and bass, Bobby Keys on sax, and producer Jimmy Miller on drums. The song was written and down on tape within four hours. They sweetened it up a little later....
Keith talks about coming up with riffs or guitar sounds for songs, maybe a line or two of lyrics, then handing the rest over to Mick -- and it almost always worked out. Even when Keith was supposedly doped to the eyeballs while making EXILE ON MAIN STREET, Keith says he and Mick were still writing at least two songs a week.
The interest level drops later, unless you want to hear about Keith's fights with Pallenberg. I held on until Keith and Mick began arguing heavily in the mid-'80s, after Mick signs a solo record deal and Keith thinks it's a betrayal.
I could have heard more about TATTOO YOU, which I thought had a pretty great second side. The album's mentioned once, as the home of "Start Me Up." Even the hideous EMOTIONAL RESCUE gets more space.
I admit I haven't heard a Stones record since TATTOO YOU, so the details about their later adventures didn't interest me much. I took from the book what I was interested in, is what I'm trying to say.
But the parts where Keith talks about coming up with those great late-'60s/early-'70s hits is worth the read. The book could have been shorter -- it's another one of those 500-page memoirs. But I even learned a few lines of lyrics for "Happy" and "Brown Sugar" that I could never figure out before. The line from "Brown Sugar" -- a song I've never liked much -- made me laugh.
Of course lyrics usually haven't meant much with the Stones. Instead, they're all about the SOUND. Especially the guitar sound. Keith knows all about that, and that's where his book is at its best.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Outtakes from Nowhere

This has happened before. The day AFTER I finished writing my latest Kindle e-book, THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, I woke up that morning and things started popping into my head that SHOULD have been in the book. And I thought I was finished. (Actually, I just wanted the thing out of the house.) Same thing happened with my first e-book, the record-store memoir GUARANTEED GREAT MUSIC!
If any of the following interests or amuses you, you should see what's IN the book....

My wife Cyndi had this theory about the Beatles' ABBEY ROAD album. She thought it was a comedy record -- that all the songs connected together and commented on each other. That Mean Mr. Mustard and Polythene Pam on Side 2 were planning to climb out the Bathroom Window and go live with Ringo in his Octopus's Garden over on Side 1. That Ol' Flat Top and the Walrus in "Come Together" were gonna help Carry That Weight, but they couldn't because She's So Heavy. Or something like that. Oh, Darling....
This infuriated me. Because I didn't want to see an album I loved turned into a comedy farce by a no-nothing non-Beatles fan -- and especially not the perfect, symphonic second side of ABBEY ROAD.
Cyndi always threatened to write-up her bizarre theory, but she never did. Thank Ghod. It probably would have sent me into a screaming fit.
Or it would have been one of the best, funniest pieces of rock criticism ever.
That probably would have been WORSE....

You couldn't avoid country music in Moreland. With only six radio stations in Wyoming's Big Horn Basin and five of them country stations, a certain tolerance for country was required.
Cyndi got me hooked on some country singers, especially the women -- Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Pam Tillis, Trisha Yearwood, Wynonna. I liked Travis Tritt's "T-R-O-U-B-L-E," and the more rockin' stuff by Dwight Yoakam: "A Thousand Miles from Nowhere," "I Ain't That Lonely Yet," "As Fast as You."
But the women were amazing. Mary-Chapin Carpenter's COME ON COME ON was one of the great albums of its year. Trisha Yearwood didn't do much for me at first, 'til I was sucked in by "Wrong Side of Memphis" and Emmylou Harris's mournful "Woman Walk the Line." Then later Trisha got me with "She's in Love With the Boy," "X's and O's" and "Thinkin' About You."
Pam Tillis had a gorgeous voice and a great band. I couldn't understand why "When You Walk in the Room" wasn't a huge hit. Or "Melancholy Child." Or "Homeward Looking Angel."
But Mary-Chapin Carpenter was IT. Whenever I played "Passionate Kisses" I thought of Deb -- it was her theme song. It summed-up what I hoped, dreamed, fantasized. And I played it a LOT.

A molar on the lower right side of my mouth went bad -- started keeping me up all night in pain. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I could barely work or function at all. I asked my co-workers at the paper who was the best, cheapest dentist in town. I hated dentists.
When I called him -- in mid-February -- his receptionist said they might be able to fit me in around May. I said I'd be dead by then. I begged. I pleaded.
Finally she said come on in and wait in the lobby, and maybe they could squeeze me in somewhere. I mumbled my thanks.
I went in, and they got me into the doc's in 45 minutes. I begged him to pull my bad tooth, just rip it out of there.
"Oh, we don't want to do that if we can save it," he said.
"Sure," I said, "but how much? I'm not a rich man."
"Oh, I think we can do it fairly cheaply...."
He went to work, did a root canal on the bad tooth, built a new surface for it, got me out of pain, and never caused any further pain.
But the meter was always running. The root canal and repair job ended up costing $2,000. A quick extraction would only have cost me $200.
Another reason why I hate dentists....

There was a low-level bass tone that hung over the town. You could hear it especially well at night -- just a constant low-level hum, hovering behind everything. It never went away. You could hear it best on really cold winter nights. I could never figure out where it came from, and I could never hear it during the day.
Moreland had lots of possibilities for what big industry created the tone. The sugar-beet processing plant? The Pepsi bottling plant? The Crown aluminum-can manufacturing plant? They all ran 24/7. Could have been any of them. I never found out which one, and nobody else ever mentioned hearing the tone. But it was always there at night.
The Pepsi plant was a block down the street from the newspaper office, but you couldn't hear the tone there, not even late at night when I got off work.
But it was always there. I always wondered how many other people around town were laying in bed, listening to the hummmmmm....

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Homer revisited, Kerouac again

Bob Dylan's CHRONICLES VOLUME 1 (2004) is five slices from Bob's life. Parts of it are very good. Other parts, eh. But it's all jumbled up.
It opens with young Bob signing a publishing contract with Leeds Music right after signing a recording contract with Columbia Records. This early section is solid -- vivid and detailed, even funny.
But then he starts jumping around. The best part of the book recounts the recording of Bob's '80s album OH MERCY in New Orleans with producer Daniel Lanois. I'm not that big a Dylan fan -- I've never HEARD OH MERCY -- but I thought Bob recounting how the album came together (and almost didn't) was pretty interesting.
But of course I wished he'd told about recording something a little more historic -- like BLONDE ON BLONDE or HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED or BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME....
The stuff about his early days in Greenwich Village is pretty interesting, too. Detailed and vivid, and Bob doesn't mess around much. But then we jump again.
We meet producer Bob Johnston in a section called "New Morning," and see what Bob was like in the early '70s -- he just wanted some quiet space to raise his kids away from the media and overzealous fans. We never learn the names of his kids, and his wife's name is never mentioned either.
In some later flashback, he recounts seeing Joan Baez on TV, and knowing somehow that he would meet her someday. But he never writes about meeting her, or the time they were together. Maybe that's in Volume 2?
Here's the thing: There's some good writing here, as well as some that's kind of lazy -- and I'm OK with the nostalgia. But it's all kind of ... trivial. He doesn't write much about his huge popularity in the mid-'60s, he doesn't talk about his screaming tour of Britain, he doesn't talk about hitting the road with The Band, he doesn't talk about his motorcycle accident. He doesn't talk about his "vacation" after the wreck, or about THE BASEMENT TAPES.
He talks at length about not writing songs for a play written by Archibald MacLeish. He says he recorded one album of songs with stories "borrowed" from Anton Chekov -- was that BLOOD ON THE TRACKS? Bob never says.
What I'm wondering is, if Bob could have written about ANYTHING in his career, why did he give us these pieces?
I don't mind Bob being tricky, but I'd like him to spill something MEANINGFUL to him in 300 pages. And there's not much of that here. Of course, what does he owe us by this late date? Nothing.
Trust me that you will learn more about Dylan and have a much better time by reading David Hajdu's excellent POSITIVELY 4TH STREET.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Four books in a year! (Sort of....)

My newest e-book for Kindle, THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, is now available at's Kindle Store. This one is gonna cost you a dollar more -- $3.99 -- because it's ... Good Ghod! ... 256 pages long, about 50 pages longer than my first 3 e-books.
This one is "a newspaper novel." Anyone out there who managed to get through my newspaper memoir THE CONFESSOR will probably recognize the setting -- a small town in Wyoming that was home to the smallest daily newspaper in the country, where I worked for six years.
What this book does is pull together some of the funniest, most outrageous stories about working on newspapers ... that weren't already included in THE CONFESSOR. I was surprised how much good stuff I had left....
Though folks who've read CONFESSOR may recognize some of the events, they've all been re-written, extended, elaborated, messed with ... 90 percent of this book is all-new stuff nobody's read before.
The names have been changed, but the stories are all true. This is also fiction, so some of it's just plain made up....
And of course if you haven't read CONFESSOR, it's gonna be all new to you....
Unlike CONFESSOR -- in which it's now obvious to me that I was trying a little too hard to grind an axe -- this book has an upbeat, happy ending. I think you'll like it. I like parts of it very much, and it's an accurate portrayal of what living in an isolated, tiny town for six years felt like.
Most of the book was written in the month between the 4th of July and early August -- though I was adding new stuff all the way up to the end. Proofreading the book took a lot longer than I expected. I wanted to have it done by my birthday, Aug. 21.
Not sure what else to say except I never would have written this if I hadn't read half of Garrison Keillor's A RADIO ROMANCE ... which I couldn't finish, but which helped me think of a way that I could get this material out.
I think this is what writers do -- cannibalize their lives and make stories out of what they've seen and done. Anyway, once I got going I couldn't stop -- which is usually a good sign for me.
Hope you like, and even if you don't, let me know what you think. I'm not getting rich doing this, but the feedback has been nice....
More soon.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Who is he?

Picked up a cheap copy of Pete Townshend's autobiography WHO I AM (2012) at Goodwill last week, and I'm so glad I didn't pay the outrageous $35 cover price for the hardback, because this book is barely worth $2.99.
This is disappointing. I'm a big fan of Pete's, a big fan of The Who, and I was hoping Pete's autobiog would give me more insight into the band, where his songs came from, a peek behind the scenes.
Nope. I had a much better time and learned a lot more with Richie Unterberger's WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN and Dave Marsh's BEFORE I GET OLD.
Townshend knows how to write. Over his career he's done pieces for ROLLING STONE and the British rock tabloids -- his review of The Who's early best-of MEATY, BEATY, BIG AND BOUNCY in RS was one of the funniest album reviews EVER. He's had a book of short stories published, and he was an editor at England's Faber publishing house.
So what happened? Don't know. I think a better editor could have dug some better stories out of Pete. He just doesn't seem to dig very deep here. I wanted some anger, some raw emotion, some SOUL. I wanted to know where those great anthemic songs CAME from -- and the quieter, haunting ones, too
If you want the dirt, there's plenty of that here -- lots about Pete's drinking and drugging, and his cures. Lots about touring. Lots about Pete's stress, little about his breakdowns. Not as much as I'd hoped for about recording albums.
There's a LOT here about TOMMY -- especially the movie version and the Broadway show. There's little to nothing about tensions surrounding QUADROPHENIA -- I thought it increased tensions between Pete and Roger, Roger was disappointed with how the mix made his vocals sound ... John re-did his horn parts in the 1980 movie-soundtrack remix, etc.
I learned a little about WHO'S NEXT and LIFEHOUSE -- didn't realize (or forgot) there were sessions for those songs in New York, with Kit Lambert producing. But those sessions were abandoned quick Oh, and Pete hated NEXT's cover....
There's a little on SELL OUT and "I Can See for Miles." Not much on BY NUMBERS. A little on WHO ARE YOU. Keith Moon's death at least brings more feeling from Pete. There's some on why Kenney Jones was the perfect drummer to replace Moon, a little on FACE DANCES -- which I thought was half of a great comeback album. Pete thinks IT'S HARD was "a pretty strong album." Millions disagree. Course he also thought "Eminence Front" was "the most radio-friendly song on the album." Has everyone forgotten "Athena," which was an actual hit? It's not even on The Who's best-of box. Course the lyrics are pretty embarrassing, but....
There's a bit on EMPTY GLASS and the contracts Pete signed around that time that required six Who albums and five solo albums within 10 years. How could he do it? Well, of course, he couldn't.
There's a bit about CHINESE EYES, on which production was halted halfway through due to Pete's stress and health problems -- but then he never finishes the story. We never find out why some of those songs are so danged WORDY and the others are the usual Who-type anthems. A definite change in style that goes unexplained.
Happy to see there was quite a bit on the underrated PSYCHODERELICT, which I liked a lot. And there's more on trying to bring LIFEHOUSE to some kind of finished form....
There's a lot about the many women Pete slept with, the houses he bought, the studios he set up, the boats he purchased. You may feel sorry for his long-suffering wife by the time they get divorced.
But if you want to know where all those great songs came from, and what they mean to their creator -- you won't find it here.
This is another book to add to the pile that proves that rock stars are their own worst subjects for books. Pete covers a lot of events, but he doesn't say much about them.
Ghod help us, would this book have been better if it was LONGER? It turned out to be 500 pages -- cut down from a thousand, Pete says at the end.
Maybe he was just too old to do it justice. I would have preferred to see a series of memoirs about various periods in his career -- something with some DEPTH to it. But you guys know me -- I always want to know MORE....

Friday, September 5, 2014

A few things about Al Green

Been playing Al Green's imported best-of CD THE SUPREME AL GREEN at work a lot lately, and here's some of the things that have impressed me as I've hummed along with Reverend Al:
* That sneaky descending guitar figure that comes in at the end of "Call Me," his vocal throughout, and the modest lyrics: "Just remember the time we had/And how right I tried to be...."
* The horns and organ on "Let's Get Married," and the fact that Al isn't really that thrilled about getting married -- the depth of his commitment is "Might as well...."
* The really great simple-as-a-nursery-rhyme choruses on "L-O-V-E, Love."
* The way he sings these lines in "Take Me to the River": "I wanna know/Can you tell me?/Our love will stayyyyyyy...."
* The lyrics on "Love Ritual" -- the ones I can make out -- are pretty great ... if "lyrics" is the right word to describe the words on a piece that seems so improvised. I hated it at first, thought it was a comedy throwaway, but it works, the groove's pretty great -- and Al's feeling about how sacred love is really comes across. Not sure about some of what he's ... chanting(?) though.... (I hear "wanna" and "loser" -- can that possibly be right?)
* On "Full of Fire," the way he sings: "There's some things that I know/But I want the horns to blow...."
* There's a hilarious one-liner near the end of his remake of the Temptations' "I Can't Get Next to You," ... which I will leave for you to discover....
* After all of this, "Full of Fire" (his last big hit?) almost sounds like a return to the basics, fairly simple dance music. Its sound doesn't seem that far from his first hit "Tired of Being Alone."
* True confessions: I HATED most of these songs when I was growing up. They weren't loud enough or obvious enough for me then. I thought "Let's Stay Together" was great, but the rest just left me cold and I was turning the radio dial trying to find something else. As a result, these songs really hit me now -- just like with Aretha and Otis Redding and....
* So, I love about a dozen out of 18 tracks on the best-of.
* But so far, I can't take ANY of the SLOW stuff. It's EXCRUCIATING!

...Got 40 more pages of THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE proofread on Thursday, only 40 pages to go. It might be done before Christmas. I like parts of it very much. And it's still 90-percent all-new stuff....
...The silly horror story I sent to back in April got REJECTED, I found out in an e-mail yesterday. That's OK -- I didn't really expect them to take it. It was just a joke I couldn't resist writing. It was either TOO silly or not silly ENOUGH. So I may look at it at some point and send it out again....
More soon....