Saturday, September 26, 2009


The word of the day is "provender." It's pronounced prov-en-der, with the o in "prov" being short, like saying "prof" (for "professor") with a v instead of an f. The "ender" is two syllables & is pronounced like it rhymes with bender or sender. Provender. Use it at least once today, incorrectly. Might I suggest this sentence? "She's a real provender, man."

It means both the food you give to your livestock or domestic animals, & any supply of food. I seem to remember learning the word while reading "All Quiet On The Western Front," but it could also have been Stephen Crane. Or one of those "Little House On The Prairie" books. There was no real need in my life to use the word, so of course I used it incorrectly. Just to fuck with people. Like you should.

It's an old word, as it should be - those of us who use English are descended from people who kept stores for their livestock. It comes from the French word provende, where we also get "provisions," & that word comes from the Latin praebenda, which meant one's daily allowance of provisions. Its meaning hasn't changed much. It hasn't really had to. It's not really all that exciting a word.

Which makes it a little disappointing, as the Self Help Radio blog only has a "word of the day" on days that begin or end on September 26, 2009. It's in the contract. Might I suggest other "word of the day" sites on the internet? No? All right then.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Introducing... Dickenbock Electronics!

You all know Richard "Dick" Dickenbock, the entrepreneur, the raconteur, the saboteur, the voyeur, the wit, the witless, the eyewitness. It's no secret his many dollars & little sense are the financial backbone of the Self Help Radio media empire. But what many people don't know about him is that, besides being almost certainly fictional, he's a priest. Also, he absolutely adores electronic music. (Electronic religious music, though, not so much.)

That's why the same people who bring you both Self Help Radio & the pop show Sugar Substitute are proud to announce (mainly to Dick Dickenbock) the creation of a third radio show called Dickenbock Electronics, named in honor of (or in spite of) Mr. Dickenbock himself. The show will alternate with Sugar Substitute (since no one wants to give more radio time to yours truly) (& Mr Dickenbock is only supportive enough to buy the name of the show) on Wednesdays at 6am. The first show will be this coming Wednesday, September 30, & then the week after that is Sugar Substitute on Wednesday, October 7, & then the next week - well, you get the idea. It's basically the definition of alternating. Didn't mean to be condescending or anything.

You can certainly contact us in the usual manner (writing here or here, for example, or writing something on a stone & throwing it through the office window) if you have suggestions, requests, threats, subpoenas, recovered memories, etc., although every idea (sigh) will need to be pre-approved by Mr. Dickenbock. I'm sure you understand. The dude has serious cash. & not-so-serious cash, which he calls "funny money."

Aren't you excited? This Wednesday, the premiere of Dickenbock Electronics!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

This Show, Like The Last Show

Wednesdays, which is now when Self Help Radio airs, will probably be a little rough for me. Not because of any work-week cliche like it's "hump-day," nor because of co-workers who feel perfectly all right humping me whatever day it is, nor because of anything at all related to employment - no, I don't have a job, therefore I can go right home after my three hours on the radio & snooze.

Or can I? Ask my dogs! I stayed up late Tuesday because I am an anxious sort, & returned after my show around half past nine & fed the menagerie, then retired to my boudoir, where I clutched a lumpy pillow to my head & dozed to dream about whatever sorts of awards they give people with amazing radio shows, & the ceremonies those awards would compel me to attend.

But this is a house with three dogs & a probably equal number of cats. They are cute fellows but they are selfish & mean. I was asleep not two hours - barely time to get interviewed on the red carpet by some entertainment news show! - when they were asking to go out, asking to be loved, asking to borrow the car keys to go get some lunch - you know, the shit pets do.

After explaining that they didn't know how to drive, & giving them a little loving, as they are cute as hell, I got up & put the selfsame shows I did that morning on the interweb. (I did a Sugar Substitute along with a Self Help Radio.) I then zombied my way through the rest of the day, retiring at the unheard-of time of 10pm (!) even before I watched the Daily Show. I should've said something yesterday, but it would've looked & read a lot like remarks in drool. & maybe this will be how my Wednesdays are from now on.

The shows are at of course. Remember, if you're named Emily, the Self Help Radio show might be very interesting for you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Whither Emily?

I am currently without an Emily in my life. I have a niece named Emily, & I saw her last week, although I didn't say anything to her & she didn't say anything to me. She's maybe nine or ten? She's my little brother's kid, & he & I aren't close, so there's no reason or expectation that I'd be close with his kids.

I worked with an Emily in Austin, but she didn't even come say goodbye to me when I left - we weren't more than co-workers.

I kissed an Emily once, but we lost touch a long time ago. I think she tried to get in touch with me a few years back, but I waited too long to respond & it fell through the cracks. In any event, neither of us seems to need each other in our respective lives, so most probably at some point we'll connect through Facebook & continue not speaking to each other.

None of these Emilys are the reason for tomorrow's Self Help Radio. It's just fun to make a show with songs about a certain someone, & at some point I noticed a lot of songs about an Emily in a lot of musicians' lives. I am actually grateful I don't have an Emily buzzing around me - if I did, she'd probably think the show was for her specifically. It isn't. It's for every Emily in the world equally.

Are you an Emily? If you are, & you'd like a CD of the songs I'll play on the show, write me & I'll send you one. Like I did for the Bills of the world summer before last. I'm good like that - & it's my way of saying thanks for letting me celebrate your name.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Preface To Emily's Show: What's All This About Emily Dickinson & "The Yellow Rose Of Texas"?

According to Wikipedia (on this page) the song "The Yellow Rose Of Texas" is "a traditional folk song which has long been popular in the United States & is considered an unofficial state song of Texas. The actual author is unknown; the original publisher (Firth, Pond & Co.) only stated that it was composed & arranged expressly for Charles H. Brown by 'J.K.' [...] The soundtrack to the TV miniseries James A. Michener's Texas dates a version of the song to 1927 & co-credits the authorship thereof to Gene Autry. However, Don George ('I'm Beginning to See the Light') reworked the original version of the song, which Mitch Miller made into a popular recording 1955."

Emily Dickinson was of course the reclusive 19th century New England poet whose morbid sing-song poems are the easiest thing to memorize in high school English class. But did you know that most if not all of her poems (which were mainly written in what is called "common meter" by snobby poets) can be sung to the tune of "The Yellow Rose Of Texas"? I learned that in high school just like you did, & this page has a midi file to compare, while this page explains that this is possible because of oh so common meter. Emily Dickinson & television! The nerve!

If you don't know "The Yellow Rose Of Texas," don't worry - most folks know the melody more than the words, & that includes most Texans. A lot of them would be shocked by the minstrel lyrics, which begin "There's a yellow rose in Texas that I am going to see/No other darkey knows her, no darkey only me."

Something I had never heard of is added on the Wikipedia page: "A twentieth century myth has turned the Yellow Rose into one Emily D. West, a housekeeper in a hotel in New Washington, Texas, during the Texas Revolution." It's of course unlikely, but what a coincidence for this week's show!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

When Is A Vacation Not A Vacation?

I can't tell you, but I can show you. Just look back over the last five or six days of my life...

I am back in Huntington, not terribly rested & smelling like airport disinfectant. It turns out - did I tell you this already? - I will be premiering Self Help Radio (& its current sister-show Sugar Substitute) as three hours of morning offerings starting this Wednesday at 6am on 88.1 WMUL. Of course, you have to be in the tri-state area to hear the shows live, but I will post them to as soon as I catch up on the sleep I miss getting up at 6am (!) to do a show. For the time being, Sugar Substitute will start off at 6am & Self Help Radio will stumble along ninety minutes later.

I am thinking - maybe you have some input - of doing another show on alternate weeks with Sugar Substitute that plays electronica. What do you think? I don't know what to think. I don't think I know what to think. You think?

Regular blog posting begins again tomorrow. I've missed you. If only you told me where you lived, I could have sent you postcards. Or text messages. Or little hearts with arrows through them on crinkly candy wrappers.