Saturday, July 09, 2011

Preface To Espionage: The Spy Movie Who Loved Me

As always, Self Help Radio is a little late in the game, which is following the celebration of cheesy spy movies, which are movies made in the sixties on the heels of the James Bond success, which culminated in the late nineties/early aughts with the spoofs with the Saturday Night Live people that I confess I never saw. Also at the time, David Gedge of the Wedding Present made a couple of records as "Cinerama" which attempted to incorporate the production music sounds of the sixties & seventies into a more poppy milieu. Indeed, even at old KOOP radio, there was a show called - er - I've forgotten it now! - I know I subbed it - I'll have to look it up - Cinemaphonics that's it! - which is also the name of one or two of those collections of production music - which played nothing but music in that vein, & was pretty popular.

& now, too many years later, Self Help Radio does a show about espionage.

I guess it's not that bad. I could be doing a show about singing cowboys. Sixty years after their heyday.

This spring I did manage to watch (or re-watch) the first three Sean Connery James Bond movies. I had intended to watch them all in a row, but something distracted me. Probably something I hadn't seen before. I understand their charms. I will try to convey some of their charms in the radio show. But you won't get to see all the gadgets I will have with me. Not on the radio you won't.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Top Celebrities From Garland, Texas

Rats, I see I still haven't made the list of Top 5 Celebrities From Garland, Texas, which is a shame not only because I'm not at all a celebrity, but unlike Celebrity No. 5, who is called "Leann Rimes" - someone I've never heard of - as well as Celebrity No. 1, Mike Judge, whom I have heard of - unlike both of them I was actually born in Garland.

Indeed, though it's apparently devoted to the "Number 1 Celebrity From Garland," Mike Judge's wikipedia page doesn't even mention the city of Garland at all.

The other three, one a performer in a country music band I've never heard of, one a basketball player with an awesome nickname (also someone I've never heard of), & the last an American sitcom star from the 80's, all seem to have been born in Garland & thank the gravelly-voice lord they made it out of there.

I'm a little surprised, actually, at how few famous people have come from what I have often referred to as "the armpit of the Metroplex." There are a lot of people there. But maybe I ought not be surprised. It seems a wonder that people ever make it out of that place. My mother's been trapped there since the early 1950s. Most of my siblings have hardly been anywhere else. It frankly takes an extraordinary amount of energy to reach escape velocity from Garland's gravitational pull.

Have you ever heard how Douglas Adams advises one in the art of flying? He says, "There is an art, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground & miss." To miss the ground, one must be distracted at the moment before one hits. That seems to have been my way of getting out of Garland. I was caught up in the whole "go to college after high school" business & didn't notice I was leaving the city forever.

To be the non-celebrity I am justly not celebrated for today!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

A Joke A Day A Week, Episode Three

I've written a few times on this blog about the inane "A Joke A Day" email service (I'm sure there's more than one) which I would often subscribe to for email accounts that, back in the day, were free but which I never used. Often those email accounts would expire if you didn't have email coming to them, but because I thought it was (at least initially) funny to have email accounts at & (both sites, & my email addresses, are long defunct), I'd sign up for an account & then subscribe to the A Joke A Day service. One account I use still gets them, & I rarely read them, but am too lazy to unsubscribe. I recently thought, what if I actually saved them, then featured what I consider the best, or funniest, or worst, or most notable, or simply something to talk about once a week? & so I shall.

Occasionally, on our dog walks, I tell my love Magda one of the A Joke A Days that I have recently received. But I realized something when I was trying to relate a recent A Joke A Day - I almost always have to rephrase - almost reconstruct - the joke from the version in the A Joke A Day email. Take this one, for example, which was Monday's A Joke A Day:

A lawyer was cross-examining the doctor about whether or not he had checked the pulse of the deceased before he signed the death certificate. "No," the doctor said. "I did not check his pulse." "& did you listen for a heartbeat?" asked the lawyer. "No I did not," the doctor said. "So," said the lawyer, "when you signed the death certificate, you had not taken steps to make sure he was dead." The doctor said, "Well, let me put it this way. The man's brain was in a jar on my desk but, for all I know, he could be out practicing law somewhere."

When you read that, don't you get the impression there's actually a somewhat decent joke in there somewhere?

Might that mean that the A Joke A Day folks could employ some decent editors? I suppose they might, if the whole site - the whole operation - weren't treated as an afterthought.

As an update from last week's A Joke A Day, in which the site which tries so hard not to offend managed to let an offensive slur for Asians & Pacific Islanders slip through: I did write the info address on the site & mention the racial slur, but so far, a week later, I have received no response. I did try to find the joke on their website, but it's not easy to navigate & a search for key phrases found nothing. Since the site is entirely user-created (ie, they rely on submissions for content) might they have banished a jokester on my complaint? I wish!

By the way, if you really want to see how far they - a purveyor of humor, you understand - try so hard not to offend, you should see the "categories" they've invented to make sure their jokes are "politically correct" & "clean." George Carlin is rolling his eyes in his grave.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Rat-A-Tat-Tat America!

Happy Independence Day! Self Help Radio has never landed on July 4th on the calendar before, so of course I had to do a show about America. Though there are some songs about the Fourth of July too. & some girls in Greenville, Texas, singing the Star-Spangled Banner in a way that might not please your ears.

There are fireworks exploding all around right now, & my pets think we've moved to Iraq, so I'd better put this up before the day is done & we're no longer independent. The show is celebrating its freedom at Self Help Radio on the web, which I would call the Website of the Free except I have to pay for it. The show is divided into two parts (no, not "American" & "The Rest Of The World," although maybe next time...) with part one right here & part two right over here. The songs I played & which part they're in are below. Remember to listen from a safe distance! Self Help Radio can explode at any moment.

Okay, probably not.

(part one)
"Fireworks" Grady Tate _Schoolhouse Rock: America Rock_
"Three Dates" Jon Stewart _The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Presents America: The Book_

"Yankee Doodle Dandy" James Cagney _100 Years Of Cinema: 40 Classic Performances_
"Fourth Of July" Galaxie 500 _This Is Our Music_
"Fourth Day Of July" The Washington Squares _Fair & Square_
"4th Of July" X _See How We Are_

"Democracy" Leonard Cohen _The Future_
"The Star Spangled Banner" Gospel Girls Of Greenville, TX _Jesus Made Me Do It, Vol. 2_
"Star-Spangled Banner" Culturcide _Tacky Souvenirs Of Pre-Revolutionary America_
"An Open Letter To The Youth Of America" Conception Corporation _Complete Conception_

(part two)
"I Am A Real American" Rodd Keith _I Died Today_
"American Eagle" Bruce Haack _Listen Compute Rock Home: The Best Of Dimension 5_

"This Land Is Your Land" Woody Guthrie _This Land Is Your Land: The Asch Recordings, Volume 1_
"Power & The Glory" Phil Ochs _All The News That's Fit To Sing_
"The Great Compromise" John Prine _Great Days_
"Coming To America" Me First & The Gimme Gimmes _Have Another Ball_
"Rockin' In The Free World" Neil Young _Freedom_
"America Is" Violent Femmes _Add It Up (1981-1993)_

"America" Fast & Dirty _Live From Our Pants_
"That's America" Bruce McCulloch _Shame-Based Man_
"America The Beautiful" Ray Charles _Genius Of Soul_
"God Bless America" Peter Donner _The Talent Show_

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Whither America?

I've probably mentioned this before, but in the many years I've done Self Help Radio, I've not received a lot of constructive criticism. (Does someone calling me during the show & screaming YOU SUCK!! into the phone count as "constructive criticism"? Then maybe I've received a lot of it...) But during one of my previous radio station's peer evaluation processes I did get some nice comments from someone who didn't do a music show & who seemed actually quite puzzled about one aspect of the show, which was:

The reviewer didn't understand why I did the themes I did when I did the themes I did.

In other words, why do a show about cheese on April 4th? Is that National Cheese Day? (Isn't every day National Cheese Day? No? Call your Member Of Congress today!)

Initially that bothered me, but upon reflection I understood her unhappiness. Most radio shows busted out the themes only on holidays, like Christmas or Halloween, or on anniversaries like birthdays or deathdays. The arbitrary quality of the show probably has turned folks off now & then.

In other words, the raison d'etre of Self Help Radio troubled the reviewer.

I think about that review on weeks like this one, when my show happily falls on a big-time national holiday. No confusion here! It's the first time Self Help Radio has fallen on the fourth of July, so it would be dumb not to do a show about America.

So let's do it. Tomorrow morning at 7:30 am on 88.1 fm WRFL, available online at wrfl dot fm. I might make it through the day & put the show up on the Self Help Radio website - but you'll have to check to see. I may have Firework Fatigue.