Thursday, January 25, 2007

Must I Answer Letters? I Must Answer Letters!

It's Thursday, & in addition to my regular "training" I do by running my iPod up & down a random tracklist to exercise it, in preparation for the show tomorrow, I also take this time to answer my hardly ever overflowing mailbag. It's sad, not very many people wrote me while I was in Europe. I felt unloved. Which is all right, because it is my natural state. Thank you for confirming my worst fears.

This email comes from someone who told me not to say any part of their name, not even their first initial, which is M:

I know youve been traveling and all but have you giving up on putting your shows on your webpage? I was hoping to hear a couple of shows I missed but theyre still not there. I am not able to listen all the time so your mp3's are great.

Well, M, I am glad you said something because I certainly was about to. Isn't that website, Self Help Radio Dot Net, shabbily organized? Oh, I noticed that everything was updated last week, the 2006 playlists put where they belong, etc., but why haven't the FOUR - that's right, FOUR - shows done recently put put up? Three in 2007! What the fuck is up?

Actually, it's a software issue. I'm waiting for an upgrade for my digitizing software. So, I'll be putting the shows up - just as soon as I can start digitizing them. Thank you for your patience, patients.

Now: the "Song Of The Day":

I apologize in advance for the not-very-good quality of the mp3, but it sounds like it was recorded from vinyl. It's from a record compiled in 1981 called Hot Boppin' Girls, Vol. 2, which is part a series of albums (without a notes & copyright information, so it may have some kind of murky legal status) featuring women singers of rock & roll & rockabilly from the late 50s. This particular song is by a perfomer named Barbara Greene, about whom I could find nothing on the web, aside from the fact that she recorded a few 7"s in the 50s. It's a cover of a rock standard, & I like two things about it:

1) The hint of gender reversal.
2) The weird dude doing backing vocals. If you can call them that.

It's a cover of Long Tall Sally & you can hear it by clicking on the name of the song. This mp3 will remain on this site until February 8, 2007.

Remember! You can write me an email at any time. & tomorrow Self Help Radio's all about owls!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Whither Owls?

The idea for a show about owls probably came to me entirely at random. It's been a long time, so I don't know. I come up with ideas, usually while trying not to think about my radio show, mostly while reading something on the web late at night, some news report that is ubiquitous & has grabbed the nation's attention, but I've completely missed it. (A recent example: I just today found out about who Michael Devlin is. If you don't know, don't bother - they'll be making a Law & Order episode about it soon enough. If you do know, you pay more attention to our culture than I apparently do.)

I have ideas for radio shows that I know I'll never completely realize. I want to do a show about different dimensions, for example, but can you name three songs where that's talked about? I also want to do a show about being clumsy & awkward, & I might be able to pull that off, but it'll take a lot of work. As for owls, well. I was most probably either listening to a song about owls & that set me off or it landed in my head like a bird of prey on a branch.

One thing I am hoping to avoid is the whole "night owl" song cliche. I may play one or two, but the nickname for a partyer who stays out all night seems to disrespect the elegant fowl whom this show will celebrate. Exceptions? There's a pretty great Gene Chandler song that I like, & maybe the sad song by Lowell Fulson (which may predate the celebratory definition of "night owl," since the protagonist calls himself that epithet because he's sadly wandering the streets for his unfaithful love). But mostly I wanted songs that reference the hooting birds.

I am interested in how different cultures view the owl. As I'll talk about on Friday, we in the west consider the owl wise primarily because of its association with Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. In other parts of the world, though, it's a symbol of evil (maybe wisdom is bad?) & in India, it's very common to call someone stupid by comparing them to an owl. (One article I read said this was because the owl has a "dumb stare." Dumb? I think it's creepily disinterested & intense.) But you can wait till Friday to listen to owl stories. Or - I can't resist - you might not give a hoot.

By the way, I don't think there's a relationship to the noise owls make & the "hoot" of "I don't give a hoot." But that won't stop me from playing a song about not giving a hoot. But you probably don't give a rat's ass. You want to hear:

the "Song Of The Day"

This is a jazzy piece from a vocal ensemble from Poland from the 60s & 70s called the Novi Singers. They appear on this compilation I have called Go Right: Jazz From Poland 1963 - 1975, which is much more kitschy, popular music-assocation jazz than the avant-grade stuff happening at the same time. If you imagine a kind of Burt Bacharach aesthetic mixed with a production music sense of psychedelia, & you like what you imagine, you'll like this. (I don't mean to seem dismissive - this is really quite a lot of fun.) The song is called The Runway, & clicking on the name there will let you listen to the mp3. It will be removed from this site on February 7, 2007.

Tommorow: another song, & a letter answered. Though not in that order.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Preface To Owls: Are They Stupid Or Wise?

A co-worker just told me that owls look like cats. I had never thought about it. I had been thinking about owls & cats, though - probably because of this Burl Ives song I'll most likely play on Friday - that owls, which can be quite large, would be one hell of a meal for a cat. Especially my cats, who'd probably play with an owl before killing it, then just eat a little bit of it, & then leave the rest for me, in that weird way that cats share their kills with their owners. But, truly, a baby owl could probably kick all three of my cats' asses.

My cats are pussies.

Owls are fucking gorgeous creatures. Here's a page with pictures about owls of North America. I don't think I've seen a lot owls in my life, but recently, on an early morning walk with my girlfriend & our dogs, I did see one in a tree just before dawn, its silhouette stern & imposing. I am glad there are owls in our neighborhood - I just wish they'd maybe come hang out or something, preferably when they're first coming out (if they have to come at night) rather than right before they call it a day, since I'm hardly ever up that early, & I don't think my girlfriend really wants to be hanging out with owls. Not in the same way I do.

Here's a web page with pictures about the Eastern Screech Owl, featuring something that sounds naughty called a "nest cam." This site, by the way, is hosted where I work, the University of Texas, & the owls were here in Austin. I don't think this was the kind of owl I saw. I like the name "Screech Owl," though.

The site has a link to a list of sites that feature live video &/or updated photographs of nesting birds if you're that kind of weirdo. They have a name for sickos like you: amateur ornithologist. I foresee years of therapy for you & your ilk.

& now: the "Song Of The Day".

Today's song is from last year's collection of B-sides & stuff called Future Crayon (which is dumb name for a record) by the English band Broadcast (which is a great name for a band). I'm not a huge fan of the band, because I like my music to be a little more snappy than theirs is, but this is a lovely electronically-influenced instrumental from the record that cycled on my iPod as I started to write this. It's called Belly Dance & clicking on its name will let you listen to it. This mp3 will removed from this blog on February 6, 2007.

Tomorrow I explain why I'm doing a show about owls. & no, it's not because I enjoy hunting mice at night.

Monday, January 22, 2007

1971 Haiku Wrap-Up - & More!

This is my first Monday post in a while, so I thought I'd do something slightly different that what I had previously been doing, which was printing the winning haikus from Friday's show. I'll still do that, but I thought I'd also add a couple of features to this already dynamic site. I only hope I can keep up.

First & foreleast, every day that I write something for the site (which is usually weekdays), I'll add a "Song Of The Day." Generally these "songs of the day" (& I hope I'll always put them in quotation marks) will be something I'm listening to when I write the blog. It may or may not contain information about the band or commentary from me, depending on whether I have time, inclination &/or anything to say. It will appear at the end of the blog post, & will be available for two weeks, after which time I'll remove it forever. I'll put its "due date" next to the links for those of you finding this years later with whatever searching apparatus that shall come after Google.

Secondly, a listener has decided he wants (anonymously) to contribute a limerick to the show every week. Let's see if he can live up to his promise. So in addition to haiku, there'll be a limerick, too. A Self Help Radio anthology surely cannot be far behind.

Thirdly, here's a picture of me kissing Oscar Wilde's grave in Paris. It's titled "Gary Gone Wilde." Har Har.

Now, the haiku winners:


You give me a year
No one knows nor remembers
I have squat to say.


One nine seven one
Is too far away to see
Distantly life shrinks


Are there an old year
Feeding spacetalk back at we?
Newyear talks louder.


All the flowers born
In the rich sixties soil
Died in Vietnam.

Congrats to all! Want to know why these people are writing haikus? Click here to find out!

Here's the 1971 limerick from the Anonymous Limerickster:

In nineteen & seventy-one
The decade had not quite begun
Its profile so low
How could anyone know
The seventies would be such fun?

& now "The Song Of The Day".

All I know about this band is from their Allmusic Guide profile: Matson Jones is a Colorado band who contributed a creepily lovely song to last year's second volume of Alright, [sic] This Time Just The Girls Vol. 2. It's called "A Little Bit Of Arson", & you can click on the name to listen to it. This mp3 will be removed February 5, 2007.

This week's show is about owls. Owls! If you have a song request, a haiku, or even a limerick, email me!