Saturday, October 17, 2009

Now, Less Than Ever

People are already starting to review the first decade of the 21st century. That's freaky. It's like the folks in Huntington decorating for Halloween in late September or something.

This may seem like a digression, but it isn't. Nowadays, comic books love to start over or have one-shots with the number one on them - "# 1! First issue! Collector's Item!" - but that wasn't always the case. Back in the golden & silver ages, publishers preferred continuing series (even if they were renamed) because it was not only cheaper (there were postal fees involved) but also they believed it showed comic buyers that the series was successful. As an example, when The Flash was revived in the late 50s, they numbered it from the next number of the cancelled series (# 105), which ended a decade before. Or Tales To Astonish, which became the Hulk with issue 102.

The reason to bring this up is I kinda wish it were the same with calendars. I don't like that this is just the twenty-first century after we starting counting again with Jesus' birth. It's arbitrary & dumb. So I wondered - what is the oldest calendar ever?

It might have been the Egyptian calendar. The Hindu calendar may be the oldest one still in use, but it's a lunar calendar (boo!) & it's therefore not terribly correct. It might mean the years get screwed up when counted, & I need accuracy.

The Egyptian calendar was a solar calendar, & according to the Wikipedia article, some scholars believe it started in 4242 BCE.

Just some scholars? Oh well. That's good enough for me! If the first year was 4242 BCE, then that makes this the year 6251. The second year of the fifth decade of the 63rd century. I'm not reading any "decade reviews" until eight years from now.

The 63rd century! That's fucking cool!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Happy Anniversary To Self Help Radio!

Yes, Self Help Radio turned seven years old this month, & the show today celebrated that with a theme revisited ("Around The World," first explored in November of 2002), stories about the show's creation & placement told (possibly made up?), & festival lighting in the deejay booth by gorgeous scented candles which kept nostalgia wafting gracefully in the air (though you can't hear that, you know, on the radio).

Did you miss it? No worries! It's available for your listening pleasure at! & as an added bonus, there's a second episode of Dickenbock Electronics! It's the best seventh anniversary Self Help Radio ever had!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dame Gay

That's a spoonerism. Though spoons are so last week. This week? Anniversary! Party! Cake! Unnecessary medical procedures!

Can you wake up early & celebrate? Self Help Radio officially turned 7 years old (old enough to drive in some Polynesian lands!) (that's probably not true) on October 9 - last Friday - but the show wasn't on the air on Friday, & there are some cultures in which people who celebrate anniversaries before their actual day are hunted down & killed by ad hoc death squads organized around the most offended elders & substitute teachers (none of that is true), so Self Help Radio's anniversary will be held as close to the day itself. At least it's a Wednesday. Self Help Radio began on a Wednesday. It may even be a sidereal anniversary. (Can someone look up sidereal? It may have been used incorrectly.)

So! Tomorrow morning at 7:30am on WMUL - 88.1 fm - & then of course on the Self Help Radio website later. But what if all the cake is gone by then? What will you do?

Also, Dickenbock Electronics is airing electronica from 6 to 7:30 am. But that's not nearly as exciting as an anniversary. An anniversary! Wow!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Whither An Around The World Seventh Anniversary Show?

Wow, seven years doing Self Help Radio. A stronger man might be able to pry himself away from such a tar pit. But not me!

Here's a funny story. I never really intended to do a show like Self Help Radio, by which I mean a weekly show organized around a particular theme. I would have preferred to simply do a freeform show like the one I did at KVRX in the 1990s, which was mainly music organized around me letting my id completely free to say things disturbing & arguably humorous. But KOOP radio at the time was a very dark, shell-shocked place, on account of the struggles for power in the late 1990s. (You can read about that from the losing side here.) This is not the place to talk about the later struggle to revitalize KOOP, something with which I was involved, but to just point out that at the time, the so-called Programming Committee, which met about three times a year, & which was chosen by the Board of Directors, had (possibly as a result of the crises) virtually no power nor authority to remove, reschedule or replace KOOP shows (the Board did that, or someone on the Board did it, & then reported to the Board at the next meeting).

I have (you might have noticed) a varied interest in music, which some call "freeform," but the people to whom I spoke at the station, some on the Programming Committee, would discount such a show added to KOOP's line-up. "We already have a free-form show," they'd say, which was true - I guess they thought they only needed one? They also had a punk rock show, an indie music show, a blues show, three country shows (grandfathered in from the old days, these programmers had always raised lots of money for the station & never been a threat), a reggae show, an experimental music show, a world music show, & two jazz shows (old & new, of course). The only thing I could have offered, if I had to, was an electronic music show, but I felt a little like a phony even proposing it - although I'm doing one now, at the time I didn't know as much about the genre & it would have become repetitive (in a bad way) fast.

What did I do? How did I fill my time those two years I waited for a show? Well, I subbed other shows, & I kept volunteering until, as the Programming Committee still had no power, the President of the Board of Directors was forced to fire a programmer who was advertising her place of business on the air, & space opened up so the Board gave me a show. It's amazing to think about it... But that's really how it happened. & I was noticed not because of my exciting show idea, but because I was a good volunteer.

Why did I stay with the Self Help Radio idea? Didn't I think that, now that I had a slot, I couldn't possibly lose it unless I ran afoul of the people in charge or broke FCC rules? I would never do the latter, but I was afraid of the former (which happened two years later - but that's another story), & another show was added the same time as mine which, though technically a jazz show, was sufficiently nestled in a sub-genre that wasn't at the time represented on the station, & was far more defensible than just "here's a freeform show dum de dum."

The Station Manager at the time loved the name - she was of a perverse bent anyway, & appreciated the irony, although some people to this day (those who can't, you know, just look the show up on Google or whatever) still send me life-transforming class information & the like.

The postscript is that I really, really like organizing shows around themes. I like that it helps me corral my out-of-control music collection. In the old days, I came up with my theme, like, the night before. Now I work on them for months sometimes. Though, really, the theme I'm going to revisit on Wednesday was one of my cleverest.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Preface To The Around The World Anniversary Show: Like I Promised, Extra Self Help Radio

The very first Self Help Radio went on the air in Austin completely & utterly unnoticed on October 9, 2002. I don't remember that day at all. When you think about it, we weren't even at war with Iraq yet at the time. Madness!

I probably have a tape of the show, but will not (probably) get it out & play it on this week's show. Too much of a hassle. Carrying a heavy cassette tape up to the WMUL studios & then cueing it & hoping that I didn't say anything stupid (which of course I probably did) that might offend the lovely people of Huntington, West Virginia... No, it isn't, as the Amish say, worth it.

It's pretty amazing I've been doing this for seven whole years & no one has stopped me. It does seem to suggest that our world is doomed. But I like to celebrate anniversaries because they are milestones, & as someone who couldn't walk a mile even with a rock of crystal meth in my shoe, I am happy to note that it's nice to have stones that people aren't throwing at you. (How many metaphors were mixed in that last sentence? Find out in next month's Highlights For Children!)

Speaking of treats, which we weren't, here's one: this month's Self Help Radio Extra! Huzzah! Hoorum! Guten Tag! Wie geht's? It features a clumsy but sincere mix of music by the likes of Billy Childish, Cat's Miaow, Chappaquiddick Skyline covering New Order, the Pooh Sticks namechecking everyone they love, & much, much more. It's at this link: this link here.

It's not a milestone (nor a millstone for your neck) but it will fit on one CD & you will dig it. I swear.