Saturday, December 22, 2012

Preface To A Very Self Help Radio Christmas 2012: Nipping At Your Nose

I have no idea why I like Christmas music so much.  I don't celebrate the holiday (except on the radio). I was thinking the other day that I missed giving folks presents - though I never really got anyone anything they really wanted & I very rarely got anything I wanted.  Even when I was specific.

One Christmas, back when my family "drew names," one of my brothers drew my name & asked what I wanted.  I knew what I wanted.  I wanted a Sisters of Mercy bootleg they had at a local record store in Garland.  (It moved at some point - I wonder if it's still there.  I can't remember its name!)  The bootleg probably cost around twenty bucks, which might have been a little too much for my perennially-low-wage-earning brother, but hey, it was Christmas.

The night of Christmas - I was a poor college student then, you know, & didn't buy anything for anyone - I was looking forward to at least getting to go home that night & listen to a bootleg by a band that I loved whose entire recorded output at that time I was already quite familiar with.  A bootleg might mean covers I've never heard!  Or different lyrics!  More passion!  More subtlety!

(There was a great Sisters boot that I loved around that time - I wish I could remember its name - damn! it's too bad we don't live in a time when there might be some kind of computer resource listing all known Sisters Of Mercy bootlegs.  Oh well.)

There was an album-sized package with my name on it that Christmas, but when I opened it, it was the album The Gift by the Andrew Eldritch side project "The Sisterhood."

My brother, you see, had "talked to" the fellow behind the counter at the store, who assured him that that record (which cost less ten dollars less than the bootleg, since it was just an EP, which might have been my brother's motivation) was a rarity.  My brother did seem proud he had discovered it.  But of course, I already owned it.  The reason I had asked for the bootleg was, of course, what I said above: I had already heard all that was commercially available by the Sisters.  I suppose I am lucky he didn't buy me a Mission UK album.

Was my brother really trying to one-up me, or was he just cheap?  I smiled & said thank you.  What else could I do?  & I gave the duplicate EP to someone.  I can't remember who.

That's a big reason why the wife & I don't try to surprise each other with gifts - we know each other well enough to know that we'd ask for anything we wanted if we wanted when we wanted.

I still love Christmas music, however.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Curse Of The Curse Word Curator

This is weird - the great linguist Hugh Rawson doesn't have a Wikipedia entry.  He does have a page on the Huffington Post but that seems too rinky-dink for the great writer of Wicked Words, which, sadly, is no longer in print.

Though the book is written more as a resource (when you absolutely, positively need to know why "codswallop" is a bad word) than a narrative non-fiction book, I have found I can - & have - read it cover to cover & it's just as enjoyable.

For example, here's what he says about "codswallop":

"Nonsense, British-style.  Thus, when Sir Fred Hoyle, an astronomer, dared challenge the authenticity of a famous bird fossil, paleontologists rose up to defend their turf: '"It's rubbish," Dr. Cyril A. Walker, a paleontologist at the [British] museum, said of Sir Fred's contention. "Codswallop," echoed Dr. Alan J. Charig, a curator at the museum' (New York Times, 5/7/85). The word sounds as though it should be an old one, but the OED's earliest example comes only from 1963.  The OED says 'Origin unknown,' but it seems significant that cod is an old word for the scrotum and that codswallop is used derisively in the same way as the exclamatory Balls!"

(To be fair, the Wiktionary has a different etymology, but it seems more speculative.  I'd trust my friend Hugh here.)

(To be more fair, the folks at - another favorite site of mine! - split the difference.)

I gave money to Wikipedia this year & one of the things it asked when I shelled out the big bucks was something like "Would you like to learn how to edit a Wikipedia page?"  I said no - I mean, someone gave me a Metafilter membership once & I almost never visit that site anymore - but now I wish I had said yes - so I could create a Hugh Rawson page!

I'd probably also create a Self Help Radio page, so it's best I don't know how.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

End Of The World!

Human beings have a terrible track record with predicting the end of the world.  Take a look.

Is it wrong that I like the phrase "heat death of the universe"?

I remember having a discussion with some kids at KVRX many moons ago about the Mayan prophecies (which of course have passed without any apocalyptic event, except perhaps frightening children) & making the comment that you've doubtless heard a billion times by now, which is this: "Why should we trust the prophecies of a civilization that didn't seem to be able to predict their own destruction?"

Does it matter that the descendants of the Maya call horse hockey on the predictions?

It doesn't!  People believe what they want to believe!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Almost 1500

A special blog post on a non-blog-posting day to say: hooray!  I've almost reached 1500 posts on this silly blog!

If you'll recall, I have had a habit of trying to count my blog posts, & I've failed more or less miserably. Probably because I am a little dumb.  Also!  I didn't just take advantage of the fact that the Blogger Corporation (formerly Borders Books) allows me to select a page with one hundred posts on it, &, if I just go back to the first one, I can discover that:

I began on 9/12/06, & on 3/1/07, I had reached post # 100.  (There's no sign that I knew it was my 100th post.)

My 200th post actually came on 8/8/07.  My counting was off, & I celebrated my 200th post on my 204th post.  It gets worse.

My 300th post was on 01/07/08.  My 400th on 5/28/08.

My 500th was on 10/14/08 & I got it right!  I celebrate writing five hundred meaningless things by telling my third grade teacher to suck it.  Like one should.

I hit 600 on 3/25/09 (though I celebrate the day before).  I hit 700 on 9/28/09 - & did the same.  I hit 800 on 2/22/10, & was still celebrating the day before.  I hit 900 on 7/24/10, & you know how I screwed it up.

The 1000th post - which should have been a big deal - was celebrated when it was really the 998th post.  The 1000th post actually happened on 12/31/10 - which would have been something if I had really been paying attention.

Here's the ledger for the last four:

1100 - 5/23/11 (got it wrong)
1200 - 10/17/11 (sigh)
1300 - 3/5/12 (seriously, what is wrong with me)
1400 - 7/26/12 (celebrated on 7/21)

But this time I know I'm right!  This is the one thousand four hundred ninety-sixth post.  I am certain of it.  I know it'll be the superduper 1500th post in just four days!  I'm sure!

Somewhat sure.  But.  What if I've made another mistake?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Here's What's Favorites

Do I have to stress that this is not a "best of"?  I'm apparently not in tune with the world of musical criticism, & as such don't know what the "best of" 2012 was.  None of the songs I played are on this list.  Nothing I played is on the Washington Post's 'best pop music of 2012'.  Even the place I might be most likely to have some crossover - England - has only one artist that graces a huge list of critics' lists - the Magnetic Fields - at the Guardian's website.

KVRX had a slogan in the late 1990's - "We're not popular!" - & I feel pretty unpopular right now.

In any event, here's what I listened to & liked best this year.  The show is at the Self Help Radio website.  Or hey!  Directly here: part one | part two.  The track listing is below.

Let me know what you liked best this year!  & thanks for listening!

(part one)

"Every Boy In NY" Woodpecker _Thanks Anyway_
"Tiffany Lou" Daughn Gibson _All Hell_

"The Right To Complain" Louis CK _Word: Live At Carnegie Hall_
"Psychotic Episode" Royal Headache _Royal Headache_
"Bo Diddley" Evans The Death _Evans The Death_
"The Perp Walk" Peace _The World Is Too Much With Us_
"The Girl From The DDR" The Wedding Present _Valentina_

"Computers" Eddie Izzard _Live At Madison Square Garden_
"Andrew In Drag" The Magnetic Fields _Love At The Bottom Of The Sea_
"Some Dandruff On Your Shoulder" Jens Lekman _I Know What Love Isn't_
"Amy aka Spent Gladiator 1" The Mountain Goats _Transcendental Youth_
"Bibliotek" Momus _Bibliotek_

"Capricornia" Allo Darlin' _Europe_

(part two)

"Typing, Texting" The Smittens _Believe Me_
"Friends Of Friends" Hospitality _Hospitality_
"So Easy" Lightning Love _Blonde Album_
"Allergies" The Lovely Eggs _Wildlife_

"Wack Writing" Hannibal Buress _Animal Furnace_
"Photographs Of Naked Ladies" Toy Love _Live At The Gluepot 1980_
"Spaghetti" The Wave Pictures _Long Black Cars_
"The Sun" Go-Kart Mozart _On The Hot Dog Streets_
"Heliopolis" Sunbutler _Sunbutler_

"The Trouble With Candyhands" Deerhoof _Breakup Song_
"Cover" Talk Normal _Sunshine_
"Alphabet" Martin Creed _Love To You_
"Let's Set Ourselves On Fire" Hospital Bombers _At Budokan_
"Hot Travel Tips" Todd Barry _Super Crazy_
"Bluebirds" The Barbaras _2006-2008_
"Slow Walkin'" The Babies _Our House On The Hill_

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Whither Gary's Favorite Music 2012

The year-end lists are starting!  The end of the year is at hand!

Here's a list from the New York Times!  None of these records will be played on my show tomorrow.

Here's a list of the highest rated records by Pitchfork this year.  Nope, none of them made my top twenty-five.

(I won't do the show in top ten style.  It's hard enough to pick the song I liked best from the record I listened to most.)

It's funny, I am completely baffled by what people consider great.  I have probably shared my theory with you that people who review records for big publications end up reviewing stuff from major labels primarily because those labels can afford to send critics stuff for free.  Imagine a music critic going out to buy a record!  It's like a movie critic paying to see a movie!

I'm not a critic, I'm just a guy who knows what he likes.  I play the stuff I like & the stuff that got played the most is obviously the stuff I liked the most & that's the stuff I'll highlight tomorrow.

Hey!  You should listen!  It's tomorrow morning from 7 to 9am on 88.1 fm WRFL in Lexington.  Listen online simultaneously at  Listen later at

Make your own best of!  Make your own podcasts!  Start your own radio station!  Invite me on it!