Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Stray Observation About Alphabetation

For no real reason, I've always felt it made more sense for X to come before W.

Not necessarily right before W, but certainly after S or T.

Of course this would mess up the whole "X, Y, Z" ending of the standard alphabetic recital.  But I don't care.  X, Y, Z sounds fine.  W, X does not.

Perhaps the W could come before the X, but not immediately preceding it.

Maybe the W could come after the M.  M, W, N.  It looks like the M was upturned &, in the process of righting itself, shed one of its outer lines & became an N.

This works for lower-case too: m, w, n.

Not sure whom to ask about this, but perhaps some forward-thinking, rebellion-minded grammarians can take the lead & get this worked out.  It will be much appreciated.

This is the sort of thing I think about when I should be working on this week's show.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Self Help Radio 032217: Smash

(Original image here.)

Another show in the can.  Was it smashing?  How would I know?  There are actors who never see their finished films - Vincent D'Onifrio on Twitter says he doesn't enjoy it, & only sees them if he's forced to go to a premiere.  As time has gone by, I feel the same way about my radio shows.  My biggest problem right now is that I like to live-tweet the shows, & to do so - since the show is prerecorded - I have to listen to it.

& inevitably I think the show's a mess.  But here's the thing: I don't think I can listen closely enough to decide how to improve it.  In fact, I put it out of my mind.  I basically try to do the best I can while I'm doing the show, & then let it go.  Is that the right way to do it?  I don't know, but as time goes by, it seems like the only way I know how to do it.

With that preamble, here's the smash show.  I didn't enjoy listening to it much (well, I liked all the music & I liked the interviews with the funny people who aren't me) but maybe you'll have a better experience.  It's now available for listening at Self Help Radio on the web & the smashing smash songs I played are below.

(part one)

"Smash" The Baskervilles _Twilight_
"Smashed & Blocked" Terry Tonik _This Is Mod, Vol. 2: More Rarities 1979-1981_
"Smash It To Pieces" Cats On Fire _All Blackshirts To Me_

"Smashed (Live)" Mose Allison _Allison Wonderland: The Mose Allison Anthology_
"Smashing Of The Van" Chumbawumba _English Rebel Songs: 1381-1914_
"Smashing Time" Television Personalities _Smashing Time_
"We Had A Really Smashing Time" The Hangovers _Slow Dirty Tears_

"Smash It Up" The Damned _The Chiswick Story_
"Smash You" The Ramones _Too Tough To Die_
"Vision Smashed" Rejects _Messthetics Greatest Hits: The Sounds Of UK D.I.Y. 1977-1980_
"Smash It In Kick It On" Unisex _A Double Agent Compilation_

"Smash Hit Wonder" The King Of Luxembourg _Royal Bastard_
"Smash Hit" The Dining Room Set _Cafe Bleu_

(part two)

"Fish Cakes" Bauhaus _Mask_
"Smash" Calexico _Garden Ruin_
"Smash Palace" Breathless _Chasing Promises_

"Smash The System" Luke Haines _Smash The System_
"Smash The Beauty Machine" Future Bible Heroes _Eternal Youth_
"Smash Your Heart" Cat Stevens _New Masters_
"Smash This World" Papas Fritas _Papas Fritas_

"Smashed Blocked" John's Children _The Legendary Orgasm Album_
"Windshield Smasher" Black Moth Super Rainbow _Cobra Juicy_
"Smash" Wire _Red Barked Tree_
"Smashed Princess" David J _Urban Urbane_

"Smashed" C/A/T _Endzeit Bunkertracks [Act II]_

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Whither Smash?

(Image from this Norwegian website.)

Smash! is apparently a Norwegian junk food candy treat.  Google Translate helped me identify its charm:

Sweet, salty, & airy crazy! Smash! combines the best of two worlds. Salty & airy crispy snacks pieces covered with chocolate providing a unique &exciting dining experience. It would be to eat just one!

Oh I'm sure it would be.  Tonight's Self Help Radio, interestingly enough, is also "sweet, salty, & airy crazy."  Not necessarily in that order.

Why is the theme "smash"?  Who knows?  What I do know is that there are far fewer songs about smashing things than I had originally anticipated.  Plenty for the show, but, I mean, after the ferris wheel show, I was expecting an embarrassment of abundance.

The show, which tonight will be entirely in Norwegian (that's not true) is on from 8-10pm central, 9-11pm eastern on WLXU which is at 93.9 fm in Lexington & online at Lexington community radio dot org everywhere else, even Norway.  & it may be smashing, in one sense or the other.  No promises.

Or, as they say in Norway, Ingen løfter!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Preface To Smash: A Bunch Of Pictures Of Hulk, Smashing

Because I am a huge comic nerd, I can't hear the word "smash" without hearing a word before it, which is "Hulk."  "Hulk smash!" is something the monster hero says with enough regularity that I think of it, & it's often parodied.  Here are a bunch of pictures of the Hulk which, while not always containing images of him smashing, are by some of the artists associated with the character.  Enjoy!

Sources: 1 (by Herb Trimpe); 2 (by Jack Kirby); 3 (by Marie Severin); 4 (by Sal Buscema); 5 (by John Byrne); 6 (by Mike Deodato); & 7 (by Gary Frank)

Monday, March 20, 2017

So Weird & Wonderful

As long as I'm recommending stuff...  I found a weird, amazing "bare-handed speech synthesis" program featured on this website, which links to the actual pink trombone app/web page (which looks exactly like the image above).  But before you go there, here's what it is:

"Pink Trombone by visualizes an interactive cross-section of the human vocal tract that users can manipulate to simulate speech & other vocal sounds. The simulator produces different sounds based on where users slide the variable positions of the tongue, lips, & hard & soft palate, which can be altered in real time."

It looks like it's been designed to be used on pad-type devices where you can use both hands - on a computer you just get a mouse arrow - but it's still fun to play with, although when I play with it, it's like I'm Dick Cheney torturing some poor bastard just for fun.

But try it!  It's so crazy strange!

Sunday, March 19, 2017


(Image from the movie's IMDb page.)

The wife & I have been getting out to see movies lately, in addition to watching lots of them from Netflix.  In particular, we've gone twice now to Magnolia At The Modern, the arts film theater in the Modern Art Museum Of Fort Worth.  We've enjoyed going so much that my notoriously cheap wife is thinking of becoming a member of the museum just for the film discounts!

Tonight we saw Kedi, a documentary about the stray cats in Istanbul.  I confess that most of what I know about Istanbul has to do with when it was Constantinople, so seeing the images of a gorgeous city full of fabulous people - who happen to care about cats - made me really want to visit.  But even more so, the cats of the city seemed just amazing.

& look, I like documentaries but I am aware that documentaries about animals are almost always going to be heartbreaking.  But Kedi manages something different.  Without giving anything away - at a glance you can see it's a movie about the feral stray cats of Istanbul & the people who interact with them - I will just say there's nothing but a celebration here.  I did want to perhaps hear something about attempts to spay & neuter, because I know that outdoor cats live far shorter lives than indoor cats* but I didn't let that detract from just eighty glorious minutes of clever filmmaking highlighting animals I truly love, even if these probably don't speak any English.

Which is my way of saying, I recommend it, especially if you're a cat lover.  It's still showing all over the country so maybe you'll get a chance to see it, but it'll be on DVD & streaming soon enough.

Maybe I'll tell you about the other films I've seen in this space one day soon.  Right now, like with Kedi, it's all about the wonderful cats.

* Not to depress you, but here's what it says: "Cats who are kept indoors can reach the ripe old age of 17 or more years, whereas outdoor cats live an average of just two to five years."

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Self Help Radio 031517: Ferris Wheels

(Original image here.)

There you have it.  A radio show about ferris wheels.  I'm not saying it wasn't a pleasure to do, but at some point this past weekend, I became convinced that I wouldn't have as many songs as I'd like.  As it happened, I had some extras & I had "experts" talking about ferris wheels so it all came together in the end.

There will be a day when it won't.  I know this.

Still, I hope you enjoy the show as much as you enjoy ferris wheels.  That's assuming you enjoy ferris wheels.  I understand there are some folks who don't.  That's to be expected.  Some people don't trust such large, often unwieldy contraptions.  Some people are just afraid of heights.  Some can't stand to be around other people & will never visit carnivals.  But.  The show may have something to enjoy even if you've never been on nor will ever be on a ferris wheel.  & I suppose there are people who enjoy the hell out of ferris wheels who will hate this show.  What am I going on about?  I don't know. I just hope you enjoy the show.  For whatever reason.  Jeez, you got all weird on me there.

Get on the ride at the Self Help Radio website.  You must be this tall to ride plus you will need a username & password, available on the site.  The ferris wheel songs you will hear as you enjoy going up, & then down, are listed below.

Watch your step.  No refunds.

(part one)

"Ferris Wheel" Robert Roe _Toy Robots_
"Ferris Wheel" Pernice Brothers _Overcome By Happiness_
"The Ferris Wheel" The Everly Brothers _The Price Of Fame_

"Sur La Grande Roue" Jenny Adkins _Sur La Grande Roue_
"Carousel (La Valse À Mille Temps)" Elly Stone & Company _Jacques Brel Is Alive & Well & Living In Paris_
"Ferris Wheel" Furnsss _The Ferns_
"The Comedians" Roy Orbison _Mystery Girl_

"Hotwire The Ferris Wheel" Jens Lekman _Life Will See You Now_
"The Ferris Wheel Was Melting" The Bicycats _I Love You For Your Mind_
"Ferris Wheel" Kelly & The Kellygirls _We Love You, But Not As Much As We Love Ourselves_
"Ferris Wheel" The Living Sisters _Love To Live_

"Ferris Wheel On Fire" Neutral Milk Hotel _Ferris Wheel On Fire_

(part two)

"The London Eye" Mark Sampson _The London Eye_
"Don't Look Down" The Divine Comedy _Promenade_

"Ferris Wheel" Donovan _Sunshine Superman_
"Ferris Wheel" The Superfine Dandelion _The Superfine Dandelion_
"Ferris Wheel" El Hula _Hotel_
"Ferris Wheel" Barbara Keith _Barbara Keith_

"Ferris Wheel" Fonvery _Broken Sound_
"Ferris Wheels" I Am Kloot _Play Moolah Rouge_
"Ferris Wheel" Brilliant At Breakfast _Being Verbose Is Easy, Being Verbose Ain't Easy_
"Ferris Wheel" The Championship _Midnight Golden_

"Ferris Wheel" Shiny & The Spoon _Ferris Wheel_

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Whither Ferris Wheels?

(The ferris wheel at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, which I didn't ride.  Picture taken in January.)

Talking to a friend about my show recently, he said, "You're such a purist."  The occasion was me complaining about there being so very few songs - or I should say good songs - or perhaps I should say songs I like - about ferris wheels.  He mentioned the song "Baby Can Dance" by Tin Machine, in which Bowie sings, "I'm rolling out of the ferris wheel..."  But the song isn't technically about ferris wheels.  My friend, shaking his head (I assume, since we were talking on the phone), made his comment & implied I enjoy making this whole process difficult for myself.  But maybe I like a challenge?

Still, some challenges are more challenging than others, & for this show, I did have to dig deep.  I almost - almost - got to the point where I might have to play carnival songs, but in only one case - you'll hear it tonight - did I find a song that I will play where the ferris wheel wasn't the song's focus - & that's just because the ferris wheel is mentioned a lot.

You don't care about any of this, but it's just my way of saying that I commit to a theme & I see it through.  You will hear that tonight, if you listen, from 9-11pm eastern, 8-10pm central, on 93.9 fm WLXU in Lexington town, & online.  Everywhere.  It's safe!  It's fun!  It's a show about ferris wheels!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Preface To Ferris Wheels: Ferris Wheel Deaths

(Scary story, scary picture! From here!)

Hey, how safe are ferris wheels, anyway?  I mean, things that spin real fast, & things that travel at great speeds along tiny tracks, they seem inherently unsafe.  But a slowly rotating wheel?  Does that do a lot of people in?

This page lists "Ferris wheel accidents & mishaps dating from 2002 to present" (the present to them appears to be 2013).  A lot of these (in case you don't look) are thankfully not deaths, just accidents.  & a surprising number of them are not patrons of the wheel, but workers in the parks.  You can see items like "worker disassembling a Ferris wheel suddenly became pinned between a rail & the drive wheels" & "34 yr old carnival worker electrocuted when he fell & got tangled up in a wire & died."

But don't get me wrong, there are visitor horrors, too.  The worst:

11 year old girl fell over 100 feet to her death
Ferris wheel catastrophe kills five
Ferris wheel collapsed under strong winds & rain killing 12 people

(Who rides a ferris wheel in the rain?)

According to this infographic from the Huffington Post, ferris wheels are the second-most deadly ride in the amusement park.  This astounds me!  While still being relatively safe - I mean, six people died on roller coasters in 2011 - have a look at the percentage of death by ride per year:

27.6% Roller Coasters
20.7% Ferris Wheels, Gondolas, Cable Rides
15.3% Water Rides
13.6% Spinning Rides
22.7% Other Rides

But wait!  Ferris wheels are lumped with gondolas & cable rides.  So maybe they're only the third or fourth most dangerous ride in the park.  How misleading!

If you scroll down to the bottom of that graphic, you'll see the highest G-force on roller coasters & you'll note it's way higher than a Space Shuttle launch.  That's fucked.

One last note: when you're looking around for statistics online, you often come across a weird kind of treasure trove that promises hours of diversion in the future, & that's true about ride accidents dot com.  The web page looks like it was built in 1997, & it seems to have been abandoned in 2012, but wow, what an obsessive collection it is!  Reading it, I have sworn to never go to an amusement park again,

Except tomorrow, you know, for the ferris wheels.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Texas Star

(Image from here.)

This week's show is about ferris wheels, & the one closest to me - well, not now, they apparently only operate it during the State Fair - is the Texas Star.  Because the show this week is about ferris wheels.

But now I wish I could go ride it before the show!

There was a rodeo or something a few weeks ago, & they had a ferris wheel - I took a picture of it, I'll share tomorrow or something - but I didn't go ride it.  I even knew that I'd be doing a ferris wheel show, & I didn't ride it.

I'll look for other Texas ferris wheels in the next few weeks, & mark my words: I'll ride every one!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Potato, Puhtawtoe

My friend Jenny, who probably has the most beautiful voice in all of Kentucky, wrote a song for this week's show that I am happy to get to play.  Spoiler alert: it's about ferris wheels.*  Also, & I read that this isn't remotely how they say it in French, Attention, révélations sur l'intrigue!**  She sings the song in French.

In private correspondence (well, we were texting), she said she was afraid that she may have "butchered the pronunciation."  I responded, "Isn't singing just another way of butchering pronunciation"?***

Whenever I've thought about writing songs, I find myself more or less just singing lines as if reciting a poem.  But my favorite songwriters will wrap & warp words along with the music - so much so I can't understand some of them without a lyrics sheet.  Technically, then, when they sing the word "love" in such a way that it seems to have four syllables, isn't that butchering the pronunciation?

Don't get me wrong - I wouldn't have it any other way.  But there's a science fiction story that I'll never write that has this plot: aliens come to earth after taking decades to learn the language, but misunderstanding leads to tragedy when it's discovered that the aliens learned English from specific songs & the people of United States take their attempts to communicate as a kind of malicious mocking.****

& are there any people whose first exposure to a language was in song rather than spoken?  Doesn't that seem to be something someone should be studying?  Why does music make such a show of mispronunciation?  Surely it's always done that, right?

So many questions for a Sunday night!  I have no answers.  Anyway, I reiterate: I wouldn't have it any other way.

* I know I'm supposed to capitalize the f in ferris wheel but I am not going to do that because even though it's named after a person who built a famous one (not at that time called a ferris wheel), I think it's time to acknowledge that no one thinks the ferris in ferris wheel is a name but just another word like the merry in merry-go-round or the roller in roller coaster.

** The French use the word "spoiler" too, but probably pronounce it, "spoy-lair."

*** I also told her that I thought this was an insight that I didn't imagine I was capable of.  Which may explain me going on about it now.

**** Hey! I just did a Kilgore Trout bit!

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Self Help Radio 030817: Maybe

(Original image here.)

Maybe Self Help Radio was on last night?  No, I'm sure it was!  The theme was "maybe."  Or was it? Come on, it's like twelve hours ago!  Who's supposed to be able to remember that far into the past?

Yes, there was a show.  Yes, the theme was maybe.  Yes, there were lots of silly interviews.  Yes, there were lots of songs in which the word "maybe" was repeated many, many times.  Enough to make one less indecisive?  Maybe.  But maybe not.

The show is definitely I'm pretty sure no maybe at the Self Help Radio website.  Maybe you need a username & password to listen?  & maybe those are on the site?  Probably.  Maybe.  For sure the songs you'll hear are listed below.  I know that for certain.  Yes.

(part one)

"Maybe" Moondog _Moondog_
"Maybe" Tall Dwarfs _Hello Cruel World_
"Maybe" The Fastbacks _The Day That Didn't Exist_

"OK Maybe OK" Mega Emotion _OK Maybe OK_
"Maybe" The Three Degrees _Can You Dig It? The '70s Soul Experience_
"A Sex Maybe" Mike Birbiglia _My Girlfriend's Boyfriend_
"Maybe Someday" The Submissives _Do You Really Love Me?_
"In The Maybe World" Lisa Germano _In The Maybe World_

"Maybee" Tania + Holy Worm _Maybee_
"Maybe This Day" Kissing The Pink _Naked_
"Maybe Baby" The Skywriters _The Skywriters_
"Maybe This Song" Bruce Haack _Farad: The Electric Voice_

"Maybe Your Baby" The Dirtbombs _If You Don't Already Have A Look_

(part two)

"Maybe Baby" Buddy Holly _Not Fade Away: The Complete Studio Recordings & More_
"Yes, No, Maybe So" Barrett Strong _The Complete Motown Singles, Vol. 1: 1959-1961_
"Maybe (Acoustic Radio Session)" The Wonder Stuff _Love Bites & Bruises_

"Maybe" Raindrops _Confidential Doo-Wop, Vol. 1_
"Don't Mean Maybe" Dakota Staton _I Hate Cherries (Serious 50s Female Jivers)_
"Of Course, But Maybe" Louis CK _Oh My God_
"Not Even A Maybe" Television Personalities _Strangely Beautiful EP_

"Maybe You're Right" Cat Stevens _Mona Bone Jakon_
"Maybe" The Submarines _Honeysuckle Weeks_
"You Deserve More Than A Maybe" St. Christopher _Temple Cloud_
"Maybe - Who Knows?" Gene Austin _Fats Waller 1927-1929_

"Oh Yeah, Maybe Baby" The Crystals _Da Doo Ron Ron: The Very Best Of The Crystals_
"Maybe I Know" Lesley Gore _Growin' Up Too Fast: The Girl Group Anthology_
"Maybe Laughter" Dressy Bessy _Sound Go Round

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Whither Maybe?

(Clip art from here & here.)

One of the things I miss most about being at WRFL - which just had a birthday, happy birthday to them! - is that I got to do a lot of "fills," which means basically freeform radio shows where I could play music not related to a particular theme.  There were weeks when I would do five or seven hours of radio, & of course only two of those hours would have been Self Help Radio.

Oh boo fucking hoo Gary, I hear you say. Why not just do a Self Help Radio one week that's just music you like?

It's a nice suggestion, & I'm sure no one would care if that happened, but it's not something I've ever really done, so it would feel like I was being lazy if I started now. I mean, the show has covered <a lot of themes, but the truth is, there are so many shows I still haven't done.  In addition to feeling lazy, a show where I just basically played random music would also seem like a wasted opportunity.

What is there to do? What happens when a band I really like releases a song or an album I really like & I want to play it on the radio? How about make a show with a theme based on that song? Well, there's an idea!

& that's how this week's show came about. One of my favorite bands in the world is called Bearsuit, & they don't exist anymore, but three of the Bears have a band now called Mega Emotion & Mega Emotion have a new single called OK Maybe OK that's f-ing brilliant, & so I have made the decision to make a show around that song. Perhaps I should have gone with the theme "OK" - but things really aren't okay - so "maybe" won out.

Which is maybe how it should be.

The show is on tonight (!) on 93.9 fm WLXU in Lexington & online at Lexington Community Radio's website - you'll need to choose WLXU. It's on from 9-11pm eastern, 8-10pm central, & that's about as specific I can get.

Will you enjoy it? Maybe.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Preface To Maybe: Synonyms

At Self Help Radio, we love synonyms.  Sure, they're not as clever as homonyms, or as brainy as antonyms, but there's a peace & satisfaction to redundancy that it's easy to be drawn to.  Did you know the two funniest sketches in the world of comedy derive a great deal of their humor from synonyms?  Those are, first, the world-famous Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch:

& then there's the Cheese Shop sketch (which I love more than the Dead Parrot sketch) (it's true!):

Sometimes on Self Help Radio I indulge myself (& maybe you) with synonyms.  But I don't know if I'll have time tomorrow to go on about synonyms for the word maybe.  So, thanks to, here are the synonyms for maybe:

perchance. perhaps. possibly. peradventure. probably. potentially. conceivable. conceivably. credible. feasible.  imaginably. as it may be. can be. could be. it could be. for all one knows. at all.

Most certainly you can think of a funny sketch where someone needs to know something but the person he or she turns to for the information can't be nailed down to a concrete response.  & out come the synonyms!

Now I wish I had written something like that for the show.  Maybe I still can.  But.  Maybe I can't.

Monday, March 06, 2017

This Is My Brain Looking Out My Window

Outside my window - in our new house - the window still doesn't have curtains - there's a sheet tacked up to keep too bright light & a lack of privacy out - if you look out the window I was saying - which I can do if I turn to my right & pull the sheet aside - the wife asked me if I wanted curtains or blinds & I said blinds - I hope that was the right decision - what was I talking about? - oh yeah - if I look out the window, I can see two houses - the houses in the neighborhood aren't exactly across from one another - they build houses quite long around here - so I see - out the window - most of the house across the street - well, all of it, technically - but also some of the house just north of it, on its right - my left - but in between those houses I see a lake - yes, a lake - I'm sure I've mentioned that before - the houses across the street have their own lake.

Actually - only one of the houses owns the lake - the others just use it I suppose - maybe they give a little money to the owner? - I have never asked - in fact - our neighbors have expressed concern that when the owners die - & the male owner  is between 94 & 97 years old - we watched him cross the street one day - we've never met - he was crossing the street to bring magazine to our neighbor to the south - on our right - I asked the neighbor about this, he said the old man brought him his "conservative" magazines - charming! - anyway we were at the end of the street with the dogs & we saw him start to make his way across the street - I guess we were seven houses away - but remember these are long houses - still, we got home before the old conservative gentleman got to the neighbor's front door - & he walked with his cane & his hunched frame through the yard - no time for out-of-the-way sidewalks! - but anyway the neighbors are afraid that when he dies, the whole property will be sold to someone who'll drain the lake & build an apartment complex.

That could happen - or he could live much longer - he has a beautiful house & he owns a damn lake - you know, one of the neighbors - the one to the north of the old conservative man - he told me it was fine to come back to his yard & look at the lake - & I've done it twice - I still feel like I am trespassing - both houses have big back windows for to look at the lovely lake - & there are so many ducks & other fascinating waterfowl - who swim quickly away when I show up - I keep meaning to go to a feed store to buy some goose chow or something - that I feel conspicuous, especially if, let's say, the very old conservative man - who's probably armed to the teeth - this is Texas after all - this is America after all - sees me - he doesn't know me - & thinks I am in fact trespassing - that would suck - I don't need a load of buckshot in my butt - or worse.

Still, it would be better - much better - to just have the lake to peek at through two houses instead of an apartment complex - you know?