Saturday, May 28, 2011

Preface To A Devil By Any Other Name: Childhood Fears

Did you enjoy being frightened as a child? I was torn between the joy of being terrified & the general sense of calling bullshit on a world that was extremely suspect when it came to proving its scary claims. I kind of had a proto-scientific bent when it came to things that scared me. Here are two stories about intrepid Gary as a ghost-hunter & demon-summoner.

I remember when that book "The Amityville Horror" came out. My mother was reading it - I don't know if she ever finished it - & we had a giant hard-cover copy sitting in the living room which I had checked out one afternoon. On the cover was a picture of the window from which the evil pig - or else just evil pig eyes, I don't remember - could be seen. That haunted me. The evening after I read a few pages - not very scary pages, I remember - I couldn't go to sleep until after I had gone downstairs & hidden the book in the oven. The oven, I guess I imagined, would protect me from evil spirits.

Success! I was able to fall asleep, & didn't wake up to an evil pig looking at me for purposes I left to my imagination. Great. But what about the next night?

Also, would my mother be mad at me for putting a book in an oven overnight? (I didn't turn the oven on.) (She didn't say anything to me about it.)

The next night I thought, look, if ghosts or demons are going to come get me - I think because something as flimsy as an oven - an oven for fuck's sake! - had prevented them from coming, they might not actually exist - then why not let them come? The next night I brought the book upstairs with me.

It stayed there until either my mother retrieved it or I simply forgot it was there. I guess I knew books had a certain power, but that book, I had discovered, was full of shit.

As for summoning a demon, well - even though as children we didn't have any real idea who "Bloody Mary" was, the name itself was pretty frightening. What's more, we knew that she was dead now but could be summoned. Why summoned? Why would anyone want to bring a murderess back from the dead? Who made that stupid rule? No matter, we knew there was a scary she-demon from the past who was described as "bloody" no because she was hurt but because she bloodied people up, & we knew how to call her.

Here's the way I remember the process. & here's a description of it as a "game." But it was no game to us children.

Basically, you were supposed to go into a room without light (I thought immediately of a bathroom, since ours had no windows, although it was a more confined place), twirl twelve times saying "Bloody Mary!" (I chose to say it like Igor from the Frankenstein movies) & then, if you're not too sick, leaning into the mirror & saying her name a thirteenth time. She was supposed to appear &, out of gratitude for bringing her back, attack you & claw your eyes out.

The story intrigued me but I didn't know anyone who was brave enough to do it. So, one afternoon, when no one was around (I had enough sense at the age of nine or ten to realize that some people might think what I was doing was stupid), I gave it a shot. I confess I might have messed up the process some - as I said, the bathroom was small & I bumped into a lot of things as I was twirling - not to mention that I had to feel my way back around on the thirteenth turn to find the mirror - so all of this might have been rather disappointing to Mary - but of course she didn't come. I emerged with some bruises on my shins, but my eyes intact.

I was - & frankly still am - disappointed that I didn't live in a world with devils & demons & haunted books & mirrors. What has surprised me most about the people who live on this planet who still do think they live in a world with devils & demons & etc. is how easy it is to find out you don't all by yourself.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Politics Of Lame

Just as this not-a-single-reason-for-existence blog celebrated its 1,100th (that's one thousand, one hundredth) post, I make the decision to "take it down a notch." (I am using that phrase incorrectly, as one might expect; it really means this.) I have, for the past couple of years, if not longer, if not shorter, tried to write in this blog, even when I have nothing to say, especially when I have nothing to say, at least five times a week. That seemed somehow appropriate (in whatever logical system that thankfully only exists in my own head) when the show was on in the afternoon or evening. For some reason, since the show is on in the mornings now, it just really seems awkward to me to have two days (Friday & Tuesday) which are only vaguely attached to the show's theme, when talking about the theme is what I advertise this blog to be for. Oh I suppose I could share videos & stuff on this blog, only that's what I use my Tumblr blog for. Or I could just post interesting links, or maybe just pictures of my animals... But isn't that what Facebook is for? Don't you have enough Facebook friends already? You want me to friend you is that it? The other option is to use these pages to write about some other topic I feel strongly about, like politics, or religion, or Star Trek, or my cats. I suppose I've done that in the past. I don't really have the stomach for a lot of it. I'm not really a critic & I'm not really all that topical. What I am is kind of lame.

(You know, lame.)

(Do people who are actually lame, which is to say, "disabled so that movement, especially walking, is difficult or impossible," object to that word meaning "uncool"? Or do we even call people like that "lame" anymore?)

(Where was I?)

All that tedious rationalizing up there is just my way of saying that I've decided to write only four days a week now instead of five. Fridays through Monday. Fridays I'll try to say something interesting, & Saturdays & Sundays are me talking about or around the upcoming theme, & Monday is when I announce I've posted the show on the web site. I don't think this will discommode anyone (I learned what that word, which means "to put to inconvenience; trouble," meant back in the day when I reflected that it would be very inconvenient & troubling if one pushed you off a commode, meaning a toilet, while you were using it) but I thought a formal announcement necessary.

Also, it gave me something to talk about on a Friday.

The 1,200th post looks farther away now.

Monday, May 23, 2011


You gotta problem with a show about problems?

Self Help Radio has long been described as "a show with problems," & today, in its own problematic way, it took an awkward step forward(ish) & became "a show ABOUT problems." Bravely (one supposes) forgoing the human desire for solutions, it decided to simply focus on - indeed, revel in - problems of all stripes. Psychologists all over the Lexington area felt strangely uncomfortable & did not know why.

The show sits where it should sit, away from the other shows, at self help radio dot net. Though it has problems with it, it's in two parts - part one is right here & the second part (which is really the problem half) is over here. The songs played on the show are listed below. There should be no problem downloading them, but if there is, it would feel appropriate.

Here is what is in the two parts:

(part one)

"Problems" The Sex Pistols _Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols_
"Problems" The Real Kids _No Place Fast_
"Problems" Heathens _Teenage Shutdown Vol. 10: The World Ain't Round, It's Square_

"Money Is A Problem" Dean Martin _Return To Me_
"Problems" Desmond Dekker _Israelites_
"Problem Is" Dub Pistols _Six Million Ways To Leave_
"Mind Problems" Tape Beatles _The Grand Delusion_
"First World Problem" MC Frontalot _Zero Day_

"Problems" Lee Fields _Problems_
"Problems" James Brown _Make It Funky/The Big Payback: 1971-1975_
"Problems" Mahjongg _Kontpab_

(part two)

"This Problem" Dislocation Dance _Music Music Music/Slip That Disc!_
"I Know You're Having A Problem" Telephone Company _Panda Brain!_
"I Don't Want To Talk About Your Problems" Cannanes _Witchetty Pole_

"Fat Guy Problems" Louis C.K. _Shameless_
"A Christian Girl's Problems" Gleaming Spires _Walk On Well Lighted Streets_
"Boy With A Problem" Elvis Costello _Imperial Bedroom_
"The Girl With The Attitude Problem" Dead Famous People _Arriving Late In Torn & Filthy Jeans EP_
"Girl Problem" Her Space Holiday _The Young Machines_
"Problems, Issues & Concerns" George Carlin _When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?_

"I Got A Problem" Neil Young _Landing On Water_
"Language Problem" The Only Ones _Darkness & Light: The Complete BBC Recordings_
"Problem Child" The Damned _Music For Pleasure_

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Whither Problems?

One of the first radio shows I ever did, back in Austin, was a show I called "the broken show," in which I played songs about things that were broken - promises, bones, etc. - & a superstitious person called me & complained that I had jinxed her day - that since she heard the show, three things of hers had broken.

The proper response to that, of course, is to ask exactly what sort of mechanism would have to be in place to make a radio show which, obviously, someone would have had to hear have the power to break things in a stranger's life. The awesome response to that is, of course, to exult in the amazing power I had to reach into listeners' lives & fuck shit up.

My life is relatively problem-free at the moment & if I were as superstitious as my mother, I might imagine doing a radio show about problems could be inviting problems into my life. However, I remember that call, way back in 2002 - & I think, "Au contraire! If my radio show truly has the power to make themes into reality, it does so for listeners, not me!"

My mother does not buy that argument, by the way. She'd rather I not talk about problems.

I trust, however, that you have no problem with this sort of thing, being an enlightened 21st century modern. Therefore I have no problem inviting you to listen to tomorrow's Self Help Radio about problems, Monday morning at 7:30 am on 88.1 WRFL in Lexington. If you're not in Lexington, that should not be a problem, you can listen online at wrfl dot fm. & if you're having difficulties listening live, you can catch it later when I archive it on the Self Help Radio website.

I'll see you in the morning!