Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Preface To 1983: Things I Loved In 1983

It seems to me I've been looking back the past couple of days with sadness, so I thought I'd talk about things I loved in 1983.  There must've been some, yes?

Indeed.  For example, I loved laughing.  I loved dumb comedy of all kinds & I especially loved David Letterman.  It was not uncommon for me to stay up late (he came on at 11:30pm in the central time zone) & be groggy the next day, but armed with his best bits.  Remember the whole "Billie Jean" "chair is not my son" letter?  I laughed about that forever.

I loved listening to music, & especially to the radio, although at times I found it a bit frustrating.  I remember one lazy afternoon, I kept track of everything they played on one station - I believe it was "the Eagle" - & discovered they played a few songs every hour.  That was disillusioning.

But I kept listening to the Beatles - one great thing that happened was there was a syndicated show that year called Ringo's Yellow Submarine hosted by the dour one himself which I used to tape when it aired on Sunday mornings.  I didn't yet have all the Beatles albums, & it was a treat to hear stuff I had never heard before.

As I've already mentioned, so much new stuff was coming in from all sides.  My friend Russell became obsessed with the debut from Big Country, & I ended up buying the cassette at the mall, & loved it.  I saw Elvis Costello on Letterman do songs from Imperial Bedroom & was shocked to find it & his new one, Punch The Clock, in the discount cassette bin at the same mall record store.  While I didn't buy much music then, I did record lots from the radio.  I might still have some of those tapes, if they still play, thirty years later.

It's fair to say I loved my mother, then.  She kept me tied to her apron strings well into my adolescence.  If you were to see how weirdly devoted yet not devoted her other sons are to her now, you'd have a sense of her way of dealing with her boys, but I hadn't yet begun to see through her particular ways.  That would come later, & I suppose I'm still not entirely free of that.

There's a particular memory I have of that time.  You'll recall Ronald Reagan was President then & he was constantly talking about nuclear war.  I had a particular morbid fascination for a post-nuclear world, & even wrote a dungeon adventure for my D&D group that took place in our high school after a nuclear war, with all the teachers & some of the other students turned into monsters.  I never finished it, though - I didn't really finish things back then - but I did share it with Scott before he moved away, & he approved.

Anyway, I recall walking from my apartment to the comic store after seeing something on television Reagan said about surviving a nuclear attack which I knew of course was stupid, & I thought to myself, "If I knew we were about to die, I'd want to be with my mother."  That thought seems so odd to me now - when things are going wrong, the last place I'd want to be is with her.  This is true: when I hurt my back in 2002, & had to wait for surgery, & was out of work for three months, I never told her how bad it was, or that I needed spinal surgery, until afterwards, because I knew she'd come to Austin to make me miserable.  She loves to tell that story, even today, about how she didn't believe me.

Did I love my family?  I might have said then that I did, but I didn't really know them.  The divide between us was growing, & I no longer did things like play basketball with my little brother.  More & more I spent time with myself, & having things to love makes that time worthwhile.

& of course I loved comic books.  Oh shit, I loved them.  It was like a secret I had that very few people knew or cared about.  I am so grateful that there wasn't an internet or Youtube back then because there would hundreds of videos by me arguing dumb things about comic books.  I would've had to have spent the better part of my adulthood deleting them.

Back then I wanted to write comics.  I drew some, I'm not great but I can draw, but I really wanted to write.  I didn't have any good ideas, I had no conception of plot, I never knew an artist to collaborate with me - but I wanted to write comics!

Recently a dog-walking friend seemed aghast that I like "super hero movies," & I told her that I've never discriminated between art forms.  If I like it, I like it, be it comic or classic novel, be it art on a wall or art on a seven-inch record.  Comics helped with that.  The fact that so many people (Bill Maher notwithstanding) love them, that graphic novels are taught in college, that people like Chris Ware are hailed for their genius, makes me feel a little vindicated, but you know what?  Even if none of this were true, I'd still love comics.

Tomorrow I'll talk about how 1983 ended for me, & it involves comics, too.  Surprise, surprise.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Scott

It's funny to think that I lived over a decade until I had a friend who was just mine.  Just my friend.  I have a little brother who was born in the same year as I was - me in January, him in December - & we were constantly together for the first ten or so years of our lives.  But we weren't very much alike.  & for reasons that are too complicated to explain here, we were never actually friends - we treated each other more like rivals.  & no one can be friends with one's rivals, especially if the goal - whatever one is supposed to be winning - is more important than anything else.

So it was natural that when I began making friends of my own, my little brother dismissed them, derided them.  He would often say, "You just want to be like them," as if suddenly discovering you have something in common with someone was an attempt at imitation.  When I was in eighth grade, I became friends with a newcomer named Scott, & despite my own fucked-upness, we rekindled that friendship in my ninth grade year.  In the first half of 1983, I imagined he & I would be friends forever.

It's no stretch to say he was my first best friend, & maybe my easiest.  The remarkable thing is that he wanted to be friends with me.  It would be fun to go back & see us interact, to see what he liked about me.  I just don't know.

At the end of our freshman year at South Garland High School, we had a conversation which affected my life in ways I had never experienced.  We were talking on the phone near the end or after the end of the school year, & he told me his mother & stepfather were getting a divorce, & he & his mother & his little brother were moving back to Illinois, where he was from.  I remember the conversation, on a phone attached to a wall in a tiny kitchen, talking to him until it got dark out.  No one else was home, my mother was working at the convenience store, The Time Saver, which her boyfriend owned, & my little brother was - I don't know where.  I was wounded.  I didn't know what I would do without him.  It's very safe to say my life would have turned out differently if we had been best friends all through high school.  But we weren't.  He went away.

He confessed lots of things to me that night.  He told me about difficult situations with his family.  He told me about guilt with friends.  I don't think I want to share those things here.  I just want to note it was the first time he really opened up to me - the first time we talked about something other than comics or sci-fi or television or D&D or the many things we loved that we shared with one another.  & I was deeply affected by it.  I can safely say that I had never been truly real with anyone until that day.  My family, most of the people at school, most people I interacted with, they were basically all facades, pretending to be who they thought they should be.  I was no different.  Scott let me in by basically becoming vulnerable.  It was extraordinary, & it affected me like every act of honesty has affected me in my life: it transformed me.

We made plans.  I tried to send him comic books for a while, but even though he paid me, it was too much trouble & cost more money than I thought.  We talked on the phone when we could but in those days a thirty minute phone call could be as much as ten, fifteen, twenty dollars - money I definitely didn't have.

He visited me, something I never did for him: he came to visit when I was in eleventh grade, & then brought his fiancee (later his wife) after my first year of college.  I wasn't as deeply into sci-fi or such things then, & we had a hard time relating.  We lost touch.  But I thought about him a lot.  Last year, when I wrote about him, I sent him a message on Facebook, linking to the post, but either he didn't read it or, you know, he didn't give a shit, so he didn't comment to me about it.  Fair enough.

But yeah, we did find each other on Facebook, & we talked one night, ten years ago now I guess, when I first moved to West Virginia.  His son was with him, he loves his son so much, it was so nice to hear him talk about his son despite the problems he was having with the boy's mother.  A few years after that, my wife & I visited Chicago & he met us at a vegan restaurant & reluctantly took a few bites from a mushroom burger while we chatted.  My vegetarianism was probably baffling for him, & the last time we talked, he worked for a place that did animal experimentation.  In a sad bit of irony, they mostly experimented on beagles, the dogs I love the most.

Worse than all that, his experiences had turned him more & more conservative.  I can't be sure if he's a Trump supporter but I wouldn't be surprised.  I visited Chicago last summer & chose not to look him up, which I justified by remember that I found out he visited areas close to Austin in the early oughts to sky-dive (a hobby of his) but didn't look me up.  We just weren't friends like that anymore.

But I am a sentimental old fluff & hope he knows how much he meant to me back then.  He seemed to readjust to life in Illinois with his characteristic cockiness & confidence & I remember being amazed & jealous when he told me, in a phone conversation after he'd moved, that he had a girlfriend.  What the fuck?  In my sad, envious way, I tried to lie about sexual experiences but the truth is I couldn't even imagine them, so I sounded dumb & obvious & pathetic.

He never called me out on it.  He was too good a friend for that.

Monday, January 14, 2019

A Week About A Year, 1983

This week's show is my birthday show (my birthday is next Sunday) & every year around the time of my birthday, I explore my favorite music from a year in the past.  I started in 1968, for my first birthday show in 2003, & now, sixteen years later, I'm at age fifteen.  (I know, it should be age sixteen, I missed a birthday show at some point early on.)

Fifteen was a weird fucking year for me.  I had fallen back in love with comic books, & had discovered a used book store nearby where they carried "direct sales" comics (you can read about that here) which was far more reliable than the comic book stands in convenience stores.  I was also being exposed to tons of new music thanks to MTV.  We didn't have MTV - we couldn't afford cable - but there were plenty of shows, some syndicated, some like Friday Night Videos on network stations, playing those smart artists who made videos.  I think I talked a little about this last year, but in late 1982, my friend Russell made me a David Bowie compilation tape, & I also became intrigued by Elvis Costello around that time.  By the end of 1983, those two - plus John Lennon, whose Beatles songs I came to prefer over the others', as well as his solo stuff - became my musical holy trinity.

But 1983 began better for me than it ended.  At school, I had a best friend named Scott who had introduced me to Dungeons & Dragons & who read books like the Michael Moorcock Elric series (I got teased a lot for reading those books - "Look, Dickerson's reading about more cock!" was common) like me.  We had friends whom we hung out with at school.  I didn't hang out with him, but I did chat on the phone a lot with my friend Russell - & for a time I ate lunch with him & his friend Lee.  They were smarter than me, though, & less excitable - I was often the butt of their jokes.  I remember one time Lee made a comment when I was rhapsodizing about some John Lennon song, he said, "Too bad he said the Beatles were better than Christ."  I said, "No, he never said that!" but Lee had obviously meant to play my naïve enthusiasm against me, & as I tried to defend Lennon, the two of them laughed & laughed.

At home things were not great.  My mother had taken the chance of moving in with her boyfriend, a tall, skeletal man named Ed, who was an alcoholic, probably with his assurances he wouldn't go on a bender while we were there, but of course he did, & at some point, toward the end of the year (1982 that is), we moved out.  I don't remember if it were before Christmas, probably not, but we ended up living with my sister Pat & her husband Dan.  The crazy thing about this arrangement was that, a) they lived in a small, two-bedroom house - my mother got the second room while my little brother & I slept in the living room, with my little brother getting the couch & me sleeping on the floor (I can't say why that happened, except that he probably made a fuss & I was more & more tired of fighting with my brother about most everything), & b) my sister was about eight months pregnant at the time.

My sister is no longer with us, & my brother-in-law hasn't communicated with me for some time, but I feel weird about describing the weird circumstances of our brief time there.  My mother probably didn't ask, but rather told, my sister that we needed a place to stay.  & my sister would not have refused my mother.  But it seemed rather fucked-up.  I suddenly had to find a different way to school, I didn't know how long we'd be staying there, & I hated sleeping on the floor, not the least reason of which was that my sister's house had a roach infestation.  Not during the day, but at night, if you got up to get a drink, the kitchen floor would be swarming with them.  The entire kitchen actually.  It was not sanitary.

Strangely, I think it was just the kitchen.  I don't remember the bathroom being as bad.  But I was sleeping in the living room.  Next to the kitchen.  On the floor.  Where they might just come by to have a look at me.

My nephew was born in February so we obviously had to go.  It turned out that they had built a small apartment complex - six units, three separated by a driveway with a small parking lot at back - just down the street from the convenience store where my mother worked.  The store which her alcoholic boyfriend owned.  Yes, this entire time, she kept working for him.  My guess is that he arranged for her to get the apartment, probably also paying the deposit.  Why would I guess that?  Because he moved in to the small complex, too.  He was in number five, we were in number one.

The place is still there, some thirty-six years later.  It was brand new when we moved in - we were the first family to live there.  It looks like this now:


Image courtesy Google Maps.  I lived in this place - shared a bedroom with my little brother once again - all through high school.  It was closer to my comic book shop, but about equally far from school.

For some reason I don't remember how I got to school in those days.  Maybe an older sibling was forced to take me.  My little brother still went to middle school at this point.  In any event, the last bits of ninth grade came to a close & I endured a number of humiliations as one does but was glad I had a friend in Scott, with whom I often walked home, & with whom I talked on the phone & tried to share things with.

At the end of ninth grade, though, he called to tell me terrible news: his mother & step-father were divorcing, & he was moving back to Illinois.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Self Help Radio 011119: Thinking Of It

(I found the clipart I used up there here & here.)

Is this what you were thinking of when you thought of a show about thinking of things?  You might think, "What will he think of next?" or even "Why didn't I think of that?" but ultimately there's always so much we're thinking of, it's hard to sometimes think ahead & think "What will I later be thinking of?"  This show, then, collects many things people just like you or me (except, in many cases, famous musicians) & what exactly they were thinking of at some moment (that moment is, of course, when they wrote the songs).  It may cause you to reflect on the things you think of, or it may cause you anxiety because you never thought you had to think of such things.  In any event: so much here to think of!

This show I am thinking of, which is about thinking of things, is (I think) at the Self Help Radio website at this very moment.  Remember, you'll need a username (try "SHR" without the quotation marks) & a password (try "selfhelp" ditto), but you'll get to hear two hours of great music & so-so attempts at funny, & the details are listed below.

At the very least, think fondly of the show.

Self Help Radio Thinking Of It Show

"All I Think Of" Koko Beware _Something About The Summer_
"Thinking Of You" The Colour Field _Virgins & Philistines_
"Are They Thinking Of Me" Brian Eno _EnoBox II: Vocal_

introduction; accounting; the Grammar-O-Tron 7000

"Thinking Of You" Don Cherry _Thinking Of You_
"Think Of Me" The Prisoners _WiserMiserDemelza_
"Think Of The Ways" Golden Grrrls _Golden Grrrls_
"What Do You Think Of Love" Shrimp Boat _Cavale_
"All Day I'm Thinking Of You" Wolfie _Putting It Together (B-Sides 1997-2000)_

interview with & performance by body musician Bogogob Smith

"Thinking Of You Baby" Amos Milburn _Vicious Vicious Vodka_
"You're All I Can Think Of" Most Valuable Players _You In Honey_
"Thinking Of The USA" Eater _British Punk Rock 1977_
"Think Of These Things" The Field Mice _For Keeps_
"When I Think Of You" Whirlaway _You Make Me Smile_

interview with author David Fruchter

"If I Think Of Love" OP8 _Slush_
"Do You Ever Think Of Me" Laura Cantrell _Not The Tremblin' Kind_
"I Know What You Think Of Me" Barcelona _Simon Basic_
"Thinking Of You" Bill Fox _Transit Byzantium_
"I Think Of Demons" Roky Erickson & The Aliens _The Evil One_

interview with "psychic prestidigitator" the Great Sherdini

"Why Didn't I Think Of That" The Marlowes _Somewhere Down The Road_
"When I Think Of You" Twiggy _Twiggy & The Girlfriends_
"Thinking Of A Dream I Had" The Walkmen _Bows + Arrows_
"Everytime I Eat Vegetables It Makes Me Think Of You" The Ramones _Subterranean Jungle_
"I'm Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes" Bob Atcher & Bonnie Blue Eyes _The Golden Age Of Bob Atcher & Bonnie Blue Eyes_

conclusion & goodbye

"Thinking Of You" The Flatmates _Love & Death (The Flatmates 86-89)_
"Thinking Of You" AVO-8 _Is This The End?_
"Thinking Of You" The Thermals _We Disappear_
"I Close My Eyes To Think Of God" Comet Gain _Realistes_
"I Think Of You" Harmony Grass _Valentine 2000_
"I Still Think Of You" Guy Blackman _Adult Baby_

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Whither Thinking Of It?

(Image from here.)

Here now for your educational edification is a conversation I recently had with myself:

ME: What are you thinking of?
ME: Do you mean, what am I thinking about?
ME: I meant what I said.
ME: You could also have said "What are you thinking on?"
ME: Did I say that?
ME: You could have said that.
ME: But I didn't.
ME: You didn't say a lot of things.
ME: There simply isn't enough time.
ME: Oh I don't know.  You take a lot of time to say not a lot of things.
ME: So you won't tell me what you're thinking of?
ME: Why don't you know?
ME: Why should I know?
ME: You're me.
ME: No, you're me.
ME: Primacy is irrelevant.
ME: The hell it is.
ME: If you're me, or I'm you, we'll have the same thoughts.  QED.
ME: Unless.
ME: Unless what.
ME: I am coming up with a counter argument.
ME: No you're not,
ME: How could you know?
ME: Because I am you.
ME: It hardly seems possible.
ME: You're just me pretending to be difficult to drown out the other voices in my head which don't seem to originate from me so can be easily understood to be a harbinger of madness.
ME: Yeah I hate those voices.
ME: Which is why we make conversation with myself.
ME: I never knew!
ME: You always knew.
ME: How could I know?
ME: Because damn it you are me!
VOICE: Hello!
ME: Did you hear that?
ME: Yipes!  Okay, ask me again.
ME: What are you thinking of?
ME: Good question!  Let's make it a radio show.
ME: Hot dog!

That's how this week's show came about.  Also, I've doubled my medication, by which I mean whiskey, & am drunk every four hours on the dot.

Tomorrow.  Noon.  Self Help Radio Dot Net.  If you think of it.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Preface To Thinking Of It: Having Never Once Thought Of It

Do you want to know a word that I can pronounce correctly which I don't ever say correctly in my head?  You do?  Holy shit.  Hold on a second, I need to note this in my diary!  You never want to know the stupid things that I say.  Are you feeling well?

This is the word: carotid.  It means (as an adjective) "relating to or denoting the two main arteries which carry blood to the head & neck, & their two main branches."  As a noun, it just means those arteries, although people will often say, "carotid artery."

Here's how it's supposed to be pronounced: car (like the thing you drive) rot tid.  But faster.

Here's how I say it in my head: carrot (like the vegetable) id.

Why does that happen?  When I was a kid I would often mispronounce words to help me spell them better, like I would say "Wed-ness-day" so I could remember the letter d in there, or I'd say "sub-tull" to put the letter b in subtle.  But I heard the word "carotid" many times before I saw it written down.  Or maybe I didn't.  I never took anatomy or anything, I am just assuming I heard it first on E.R.

& now it occurs to me that this has nothing to do with the theme of this week's show, which is "thinking of it."  & now I am kicking myself for realizing I could have written, "Now that I think of it, this has nothing to do with this week's show."  Man, if only you could I don't know delete a sentence on the blog before it's published & write something else in its place!  But that sort of sci-fi fantasy is so unbelievable I won't even suggest  something so weird!

Might I also mention, I am putting words in italics far, far more often than usually.  I guess I am taking advantage of the ability to do so - in email, I still put a word in-between asterisks to indicate italics, *like so*.  I learned that in the early days of the internet.

Are we done?  Are you glad you asked about how I say the word "carotid" differently in my head than outside my head?  Do you know feel the need to make an offering to the gods that you can't actually hear me talking inside my own head?  It's fine that you don't want to do so, but seriously it sounds a lot like just listening to me talk, except, in the very few times it comes up, I pronounce "carotid" incorrectly.  I'm sure that would get annoying, or maybe we'd never even notice it.

If you could hear my head-voice does it mean I could hear yours?

Oh.  You stopped reading this a while back.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

What Is Life, A Postscript

It never fails.  After I do a show, really almost moments after, I find something - sometimes it's a song, sometimes it's an image for the blog, sometimes it's a quote - that I could've used for the show.  This time it's a nice paragraph from Eric Idle's new "sortabiography" Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.  What a nice thing I could have shared:

"After Brian, I took a long sabbatical, immersing myself in astronomy, learning about the immensity of our Universe, & generally self-educating myself in cosmology. I spent the nights gazing at the unbelievable numbers of stars wheeling overhead in the Milky Way, & wrote a lyric about it.*  I also read life science books, trying to understand evolution & the extraordinary appearance of life in the Universe.  I could understand the physical Universe expanding & banging away, but why does life evolve over billions of years to become you & me?  This opened my mind to the central question of the Universe: What is life?**  To my mind, nobody has yet answered this question adequately. Well, alright, Professor Brian Cox did, but we were both pissed at the time, & we have completely forgotten what he said. Steve Martin, a philosophy graduate, said that life exists so the Universe can experience itself."

Yeah, the book's got a lot of name dropping.  It's weird, Elvis Costello's autobiography is like that, too, like, I'm reading about someone I admire, I don't know why he or she needs to tell me they were friends with famous people.  Anyway, it's quite fun & funny & that quote would've been nice to insert into the show.  But oh well.  I'll just insert it here.

* He & his wife were living in France at the time, in a place with electricity or running water, so it must've been fucking gorgeous at night.
** This question was italicized in the original.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Might I Air Some Dirty Dishwashing?

Everyone knows that their dreams are the most interesting things in the world & everyone else who listens to such dreams described doesn't know what they're missing.  For this reason alone I share with you a dream I had last night which exposes my bareness for the all the world to read.

But before that, can I mention how tired I am most of the time.  I also might be depressed.  I think one of my eyes has gone missing.  I can't see my own eyes, so I can't be sure.  Oh shit, I could use a mirror!  Or a lake.  Well, it's too late for a lake.  & the nearest lake is filled with sleeping ducks (I am assuming for the sake of blandishment that ducks sleep on the water & not, say, in sleeping bags floating on the water) & they might be mean sleeping ducks or worse yet ducks that get really fucking angry when they're wakened by big humans trying to see their reflection in the lake in the middle of a dark night & they may take my other eye.

There was something else I meant to mention but I closed my remaining eye for a bit then my cat Boone came up on the little desk next to my computer & he started to talk to me about things like cat college & whether cats thought rugby was manly or silly & then I was like oh fuck me this is another dream isn't it?  So I had some pizza & woke with a bag of Hall's cough drops in my mouth.

The cough drops aren't all that helpful these days but when I had a nasty cold around Christmastime, I
also (this was told to me by my wife, who's not a medical professional but don't tell her I told you that) had some form of bronchitis which I don't know if I ever had before (welcome to your sixth decade you old fuck) but I need to stress it's undiagnosed, I didn't have a doctor put on the gloves & swish around in my lungs (if that's how they do it) but I did cough quite a lot, & when it cools down here (it was 75 degrees today, fuck you very much) & I'm outside in the cold, my lungs want to cough.  That's why the cough drops were on my desk although they look nothing like pizza, & also don't taste anything like pizza, unless you mean mentholated cherry pizza, which, if that's a real thing, & I just talked it into existence, I'm sorry.

Thirty minutes ago you said, "This has gone on long enough" & I haven't even gotten to my dream, which to be honest was a plain old anxiety dream so I'm glad you took this time to tell me a bunch of shit I'm going to go forget now.  But thanks for coming, or whatever your reaction was.

That last line was a Martin Mull joke.  I needed to confess that.  & oh yeah, I found my eye.  It was in my head but not abnormally so.

Friday, January 04, 2019

Self Help Radio 010419: What Is Life?

(Original image here.)

Welcome to the first Self Help Radio of 2019!  Also, apologies.

This episode features many answers to the question "What is life?"  It can be a bowl of cherries, or a gas, or a dream.  It can also be funky, fine, confusing, & meaningless.  Life contains multitudes.

& it's entirely up to you - I don't advocate a particular answer - but I give you many, many choices.  Maybe share your answers?  But I haven't.  So maybe not.

There's also The Happy Philosopher!  & a performance by the band Shuran Shuran!  Maybe this show is the life!

Probably not.  But you can listen now at the Self Help Radio website.  Even if you don't know what life is, I'll tell you that the username is "SHR" & the password is "selfhelp."  What's on the show is listed below.

Enjoy!  & happy new year!

Self Help Radio What Is Life? Show

"What Is Life" George Harrison _All Things Must Pass_
"What Is Life" Black Uhuru _Reggae Greats_
"What Is Life" Ebo Taylor & Uhuru-Yenzu _Life Stories_

introduction

"Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries" Rudy Valle & The Connecticut Yankees _Brother Can You Spare A Dime? Great American Songs Of The Depression_
"Life Is Fine" Jimmie Lunceford & His Orchestra _The Decca Singles, Vol. 4: 1941-1945_
"Life's Full O'Consequence" Eddie Anderson & Lena Horne _Lena Horne At Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer: Ain' It The Truth_
"Life Is A Problem" Sister O M Terrell _Life Is A Problem_
"Life Is Like A Card Game" Big Joe Turner _The Chronological Joe Turner: 1949-1950_

interview with the Happy Philosopher David Fruchter

"Life's What You Make It" Talk Talk _The Colour Of Spring_
"Life's A Gas" T.Rex _Electric Warrior_
"Life's A Gas" The Ramones _¡Adios Amigos!_
"Life's A Trippy Thing (with Nancy Sinatra)" Frank Sinatra _The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings_
"Life's A Ball (While It Lasts)" Different Shades Of Brown _The Complete Motown Singles Vol 12A: 1972_

interview with new wave band Shuran Shuran

"Opus Dei (Life Is Life)" Laibach _Opus Dei_
"Life Is Long" David Byrne & Brian Eno _Everything That Happens Will Happen Today_
"Life Is Better Than Death" Martin Mull _Perfect/Near Perfect_
"Life Is But A Dream" The Genders _Phone Home_
"Life Is But A Dream" Twink _The Broken Record_

Marge Most interviews biologist Dr. Robert "Bob" Stinkë

"Life Is Meaningless" Oblong Boys _Pizzazarama Universe_
"Life's A Boring Game" The Legendary Bang _Big Bluff_
"Life Is" The Marmalade _Rainbow: The Decca Years (1969-1972)_
"Life Is A Dream" Noel Harrison _Where The Action Is! (Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968)_
"Life Is Funky" David Wilcox _Out Of The Woods_
"Life Is Love" Sam Cox _West Coast Winners, Vol. 1_

conclusion

"It's What Life Is" Masters Of The Hemisphere _Epithalamia_
"Life Is A Fear" Editors _In Dream_
"Life Is Suffering" Deerhoof _The Magic_
"Life Is Confusing" Langhorne Slim _Lost At Last Vol. 1_
"Life Is Just Okay" YJY _The Enduring YJY_

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Whither What Is Life?

(Image from here.)

It is a question many ponder, this "What is life?"  I am frankly not one of them.  No, I'm more likely to ask, "When do we eat?" & then follow that question up with, "What are we having?" & of course "Can I have some more?"  There are deeper questions still, like, "Is that all?" & "Are you going to finish that?"  & of course there's "Don't tell me I ate too much!" which isn't a question but like many imperative sentences does lead one to another question which of course is, "Did I eat too much?"

However, this week's show - the first of 2019! - has chosen instead to tackle the question, "What is life?"  It wasn't my decision, but I did sign off on it, probably while eating.  It's easy to get me to sign off on things if I am stuffing ungodly amounts of food into my mouth & down my craw.  I think I proposed to my wife while eating.  The process of eating is for me such a culinary trip that I am incapable of thinking about anything besides what I am consuming & also probably wondering whether there's more & maybe occasionally looking about to see if it's nearby.

Should you think perhaps the question can easily be answered "life is food" & you don't have to listen after all, may I remind you that the show explores its themes - in 2019 as well as before - through music, so why not let the musicians & also the show's guests help with that question?  If I were a musician & I wrote songs, I most certainly might write a song called "Life Is Lunch" but I am not a musician I am a curator so why are you arguing with me about this?  Either listen to the show or don't, why focus on my obvious eating disorder?  I thought 2019 was going to be different.

The show happens tomorrow at noon at Self Help Radio dot net.  There will be lots of answers to the question but you will have to make your own mind up.  Also, you'll need to make your own meal, if you listen while you eat.  & if you make some for me, that will be greatly appreciated.  I'll swing by after the show to get it.  Excellent!

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Preface To What Is Life?: Is This Life?

Here's a picture.  Is this life?


It is not.  It's a salt shaker, but without salt.  I found the image on the Bed, Bath, & Betrayal website.  I think they might be afraid that, if the image were shown with salt, the customer would expect the shaker to come pre-filled with salt.

Do you remember when salt was extremely expensive?  You do?  You must've been born a long time ago.  Because it's been pretty cheap for a while now.  I know it hasn't always been cheap.  But it's not like you lived in India during the Salt March.  Or did you?

Anyway, while salt is essential to life I can assert that it's not life itself.  This is not to diminish in any way, shape, or form, the greatness of iodine, an essential nutrient.  Nor is iodine life, at least not life as we know it.  Hear me out.  I have reason to suspect - the evidence is mostly anecdotal but in my defense it's anecdotes beamed into my brain from another planet, called Sashabroom, which is somewhere near Betelgeuse - I have reason to suspect that right under our noses there's an entirely new lifeform which we call "iodine" which has been secretly entering our bodies & making us susceptible to alien suggestions.  This is not something I'm supposed to talk about so please ignore this paragraph & pretend there's a - well - I dunno - maybe a pepper shaker here?  But it will be empty, of course, because I don't want you believing that it comes pre-filled with pepper.

This concludes what I hope was an edifying lesson.  But it's only the beginning.  For most of the rest of tonight & well into the weekend, I'd like you to stop people whom you pass, point to something, & ask, "Is this life?"  You will soon get a more or less strong sense of what is & is not life.  Point to things at random!  Don't just point at people!  If it turns out they're not life, they're going to be quite offended.  Same with bees.

But it's cold now so the bees are vacationing in the tropics, so perhaps point at a bee, if you see a bee.  I don't think any bees who are working while their sisters are on vacation will mind.

Oh my look at the time.  Really, look at the time.  Do you see?  Is this life?

Monday, December 31, 2018

The Last Post Of The Year

Oh golly I almost didn't write here today. I think I thought it was Sunday. Having a cold all week & being mostly alone (just me & the critters, as the wife is with family in California) makes one lose track of the time.

The older I get the more I am loathe to say "good riddance" to anything but boy so much of 2018 sucked.  I lost two of my babies, one of whom I had known since she was a kitten.  I lost a radio station but gained another, although I fear Self Help Radio languishes in its current state, & I am unable to think of any way to revitalize it. Can I tell you a story?

For about two years I volunteered with a local low-power fm station here in Fort Worth.  They shall remain nameless but they wouldn't let me do Self Help Radio because their "brand" (as they described it to me) was that they only played local music. I really couldn't have done Self Help Radio the way I like to with only local music. After two years of producing a weekly events calendar there, I felt it was time to move on, & not long after I did, they proudly trumpeted the fact they had a new show - one that features non-local music. I tried not to take it personally.

The station at which I do the Tuesday Morning Blend wouldn't let me do a show on any other area station (which is weird to me - I guess I thought all noncommercial stations should stick together) but I would've left that station to do SHR live here in town.

That's 2018 in a nutshell.

& I'm not even going to get to do a show on the radio this week - my friend Carole has been helping out with the Pledge Drive on KNON so I'm letting her do the Tuesday Morning Blend tomorrow. It's the least I could do, & it's her first radio show in maybe twenty years. All day long I felt like something strange was happening in my head, & I realize it's that I wasn't preparing a radio show today. It's like I walked around all day with my foot asleep.

But Carole will do great, & I'll pretend I needed a day off.

This seems a little melancholy & maybe it's sentimental old me being wistful at year's end.  Tomorrow is another year.  I'll do my best to make sure it's fun.  Happy new year to you!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Self Help Radio 122818: Indiepop A To Z # 58

(All images from Discogs.)

The last show of the year!  Another Indiepop A To Z installment!  Like I've been doing since 2011!  Why is that?  I needed to try (even though I knew I'd fail) to finish the series but knew I'd forget if I didn't plan it regularly so, since at the time I was at a radio station at a university, I decided to do an episode of Indiepop A To Z at the end of each semester - which meant April, August, & December.  I'm no longer at a University, but I do want to continue with the series, so, voila!

Many apologies for my voice during this show.  I have had a cold all week & although I am better now, thanks for asking, I still sound like someone who needs their adenoids removed as soon as possible.  Luckily I don't talk all that much.  It's bound to be painful listening, & I'm sorry.

The show is now up at Self Help Radio's website.  Remember the username - SHR - & the password - selfhelp - so you can listen.  The show's a little over two hours long, going from The Monochrome Set to  Die Moulinettes, & I think there's lots of great songs.  But of course I would.

Thanks for listening this year & have a happy new one!

Self Help Radio Indiepop A To Z # 58

"The Jet Set Junta" The Monochrome Set _Eligible Bachelors_
"Don't Gimme Shelter" Monograph _Lorelei_
"Copan" Monokini _Mondo Topless_

"Dresden Neustadt" Monostars _Passagen_
"What Do All The People Know" The Monroes _The Monroes_
"Another You" Monterey _The Motorway 7"_
"I Couldn't Sleep, Either" The Montgolfier Brothers _The World Is Flat_
"Lovesville USA" The Montgomery Clifts _Deadwood Chronicles_

"I Was A Poor Example" Month Of Sundays _This Is Stereophonic Sunshine_
"Angel Delight" Monty _Angel Delight_
"Annapurna" The Mood Elevators _Annapurna_
"Justice & Money Too" The Moodists _Creation Soup Volume Three_
"Rise" The Moon Seven Times _The Moon Seven Times_

"Let's Sell All Our Records & Move Somewhere Else" The Moonlings _How Embarrassing To Dance Like That_
"Narcissus" Moonrace _Beikoku-Ongaku # 15: 2000 Spring 'Innocence + Peppermints' Issue_
"Allein Zu Haus, So Ist Das Leben" Die Moosblüten _Die Schönste Platte Der Welt_
"Jack" Moose _Jack_
"Holiday Right Tonight" The Mopeds _Hände Hoch_

"Listen To Your Heart" The Morrisons _The Sound Of Leamington Spa, Vol. 3_
"Suedehead" Morrissey _Viva Hate_
"Vicious Games" Mosaic Eyes _There Is No End To This_
"No Winter, No Autumn" Moscow Olympics _Cut The World_
"Hong Kong Flu" The Mosquitoes _A House Full Of Friends_

"Estrangeira" Mosquitos _Mexican Dust_
"One Summer" The Moss Poles _One Summer_
"On My Mind" Most Wanted Men _One Side Up_
"Good Friends" The Motifs _Cross Paths_
"Twisting The Apple Stem" Motion Picture _A Paper Gift_

"It Tastes Just Like A Milkshake" Moto _Woosh! Little Teddy Recordings 1991-2001_
"Big Rock Candy Mountain" The Motorcycle Boy _Big Rock Candy Mountain_
"Magic" Motorhome _Pop American Style_
"Zaubervogel Barbie" Die Moulinettes _Für Eine Handvoll Moulinettes_

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Whither Indiepop A To Z # 58

Oh, you know the drill by now.  Fifty-seven of these so far & we're on the letter M.  Here, I'll do something different: I'll preview some of the tunes you'll be hearing by showing their videos on Youtube!  I hope you appreciate it.

On this week's show: the Monochrome Set!



Plus: the Monroes!



Also: Moose



& naturally: Morrissey!



Plus much, much more.  Two hours of indiepop, its influences, its precursors, mostly with musicians & bands starting with Mo.

Noon.  Self Help Radio dot net.  I will still sound sick.  I am still a little sick.  Yay holidays!