Friday, January 24, 2014

Self Help Radio 012414: Rope

Well.  Here you go.  The world was clamoring for an entire radio show about rope & Self Help Radio delivered!  (At least I think the world was clamoring for an entire radio show about rope…)

The show can be listened to now at Self Help Radio web page central.  It has been conveniently divided into two more or less equal parts & you can download each part directly by choosing either part I or part II.  I suppose you could play both simultaneously & I'm not saying that wouldn't be a step up in quality.  The songs about rope are listed below.

Thanks for listening!  I'm all tied up!

(part one)

"Jump Rope Boogie" Cliffie Stone _A Capitol Rockabilly, Pt. 1_
"Jump Rope Hop" Buddy Kain & The Nomads _Teen Rockin' Fever_
"Skip A Rope" Henson Cargill _Skip A Rope_

"The Same Rope" Etta James _Heart & Soul: A Retrospective_
"Indian Rope Man" Richie Havens _Richard P. Havens, 1983_
"Moving Rope" Longmont Potioncastle _The Best Of Longmont Potion Castle_
"The Rope Song" Devo _Hardcore, Vol. 2: 1974-1977_
"Fun With Ropes" The Go-Go's _Return To The Valley Of The Go-Go's_

"Out On The Ropes" The Shirts _Street Light Shine_
"No Rope Is Long Enough" Ups & Downs _Underneath The Watchful Eye_
"George Washington & Rope" Firesign Theater _Dear Friends_
"Rope" The Clean _Unknown Country_

(part two)

"Rope Waltz" Pee Shy _Don't Get Too Comfortable_

"Carrot Rope" Pavement _Terror Twilight_
"Bought A Rope" The Minus 5 _The Gun Album_
"Cut The Rope" Red Cloud Carter _Songs About Sculptures_
"Rope & Summit" Junip _Fields_

"Tightrope!" George Duning _Television's Greatest Hits, Vol. 4: Black & White Classics_
"Tightrope Ride" The Doors _Other Voices_
"Walking On A Tightrope" Percy Mayfield _Walking On A Tightrope_
"Tight Rope" Tom Dooley & The Lovelights _Downtown Soulville_
"Tight Rope" Brother Ali _US_

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Whither Rope?

Basically, I wondered if I could find enough songs about rope to fill a radio show.  I did!  I would've had enough even if I still had two hours.

In my research (ie, looking around the web) I have discovered that human beings have been using rope for more than 19,000 years.  They found fossils of rope at Lascaux.  That's incredible.

To put it into perspective: anthropologists believe that human beings "invented" (it's better to say "discovered") agriculture around 10,000 BCE, or 12,000 years ago.  They had five millenia of playing with rope before they discovered they could plant seeds!

Humankind's fascination with rope hasn't ended.  There are websites which can teach you how to make rope.  You can watch youtube videos about it.  You can learn how to put together machines for making rope.

I can't think of the last time that I used a rope.  I think I went across a rope bridge last summer in Costa Rica.  I guess a dog's leash is sort of like a rope.  (If you actually use a rope for your dog's leash, you might be an asshole.)  Help me!  When could I have last used a rope?

In any event, people love rope.  It makes sense there'd be enough songs about rope for my little radio show.  & you'll get to hear it tomorrow at noon!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Preface To Rope: Not That Alfred Hitchcock Movie!

You've seen this, right?  It's a nice Alfred Hitchcock mindfuck from the late 1940s which was the first of four movies Stewart made with Hitchcock.  That's a nice tagline up there - "Nothing ever held you like Alfred Hitchcock's ROPE"!

This post isn't about that movie.  It's about Jimmy Stewart.

I became a fan of James Stewart late, having only seen It's A Wonderful Life in my first or second year of college.

Hey!  I preferred animated Christmas specials when I was a kid!  & I still haven't seen A Christmas Story!

Seeing "It's A Wonderful Life" began for me a period of watching Jimmy Stewart movies & especially movies Stewart made with Frank Capra.  I came to admire how sincere & likable he was & how he seemed to embody the values that Capra championed in his films.  (My favorite Capra movie with Stewart is You Can't Take It With You; my favorite non-Capra Stewart performance at the time may be his turn as a reluctant bad-ass in Destry Rides Again.)

Stewart's later Hitchock & westerns work - which I did enjoy - didn't touch me as much, but every Christmas during my 20s, I would see "It's A Wonderful Life" & say to myself, "I should write him a letter & just say thank you for how much his work has moved me."  I said that recently about DeForest Kelley, & I'll probably say it again at some point when someone I adore dies - for some reason I never get around to writing those letters.  But I found out some things toward the end of Stewart's life (he died in the late 90s, & there were a million tabloid headlines on a weekly basis for a few years with the lines, "Jimmy Stewart's Tragic Last ________") that made me hesitant to write that letter.

Which is stupid, I know.  I didn't love the movies he was in, or his performances in them, any less, with this new information.  Besides, an actor, like any artist, can sometimes betray his or her principles with their creation.  They are simply being the best of what they can be.

The big thing was that he was a Republican.  Not just any Republican, neither.  He was a hardcore party man.  He supported Barry Goldwater in 1964!  He campaigned for Nixon!  He was happy his pal Reagan became President!

You might not feel the same way I do - you might agree with him, or be apolitical - but man it gave me pause.  The guy who played George Bailey supported Goldwater?

Another thing: he wrote poetry.

Okay, I'm just kidding about the second one.  But there was a time when he'd appear on television talk shows, & in that voice, he'd read kinda banal rhyming stories.  It made those of us who wanted to write real poetry wince to hear the singsong crap Stewart was reading on the Mike Douglas Show (when we should've been wincing at our self-importance).

It's funny to later have come to be moved by it.  I remember seeing him read the poem to his dog on the Tonight Show (probably in reruns) & rolling my eyes - but then, that was before I had lost a dog that meant the world to me.  (You can see Stewart reading the poem here & be warned: it'll probably make you cry.)

As usual, I've lost my train of thought.  Oh I guess I wanted to say that I missed my chance - he died & I never sat down to write a letter.  & I wanted to say that I am less affected by weird facts about artists & their oddball religious/political personal information.  I don't let the fact that finding out some star I like is part of a wacky religion affect how I feel about their performances, & I'm hardly ever surprised when a musician or writer turns out to be the opposite of how, through their work, I perceived them.  (Like, did you know Woody Guthrie's son is a Republican?)

I often learn things from songs in simple ways.  In the Throwing Muses tune "Fear," Kristin Hersh sings, "This is much better than me, okay?"  I have always interpreted that line as meaning, "This song - these things I create - are always going to be better than anything I am as a flawed human being."

It's helpful (at least for me) to think about artists in that way, & so, more than half a lifetime after weeping at the end of "It's A Wonderful Life," I can reconcile the creations Jimmy Stewart was involved with & the strangely conservative real person he was.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Post-Birthday Blooz

It's weird, tonight we watched a couple of shows - Sunday's Girls & tonight's New Girl - & both were about birthdays.  Birthdays of the main characters.  In the shows, friends planned parties for them - in the former show, the main character knew about it; in the latter, it was a surprise.  Is it weird I am a little envious?

I wouldn't let anyone try to throw me a party these days, so it would perhaps have to be a surprise party if it were going to happen, but I have expressed dislike about surprise parties, so my wife, perhaps the only person who'd be able to plan one here in Lexington, wouldn't do it, fearing it would make me mad or otherwise irk me.

But such is the nature of the human brain that, even though I know, I really know, that neither option would appeal to me - no like me the surprise, & I probably would dread a party where I am the center of attention - heck, I am a little weirded out by simple Facebook birthday wishes! - my brain still would have liked some kind of to-do.

Trying to understand this is like the central issue of existentialism - the whole "bang your fist against the wall because you can, not because it will make a difference" thing.  I put that in quotes, by the way, not because it is a quote, but because that's one of things I say when I am trying to explain existentialism to people.

I am taking this from Dostoevsky:

Merciful Heavens! but what do I care for the laws of nature and arithmetic, when, for some reason I dislike those laws and the fact that twice two makes four? Of course I cannot break through the wall by battering my head against it if I really have not the strength to knock it down, but I am not going to be reconciled to it simply because it is a stone wall and I have not the strength.

But you knew that.  I guess it's the same thing for birthdays.  Just because I don't like birthday celebrations doesn't mean I don't want to suffer through them.

Oh!  It occurs to me now that that's how some might think of my show.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Happy Birthday To Me!

Today is my 46th birthday, &, as usual, people who are far more accomplished & infinitely more important than I will ever be get the spotlight.  Happy MLK Day!

I share my birthday will lots of luminaries, whose work I appreciate & whose shadow I will always live under.  First of all, there's Lead Belly, whose birthday may also be January 23, but I'm glad to share it with those guys.  What a giant in the world of music!  More than an influence, Lead Belly appears to have been a force of nature!

There's also George Burns, a comedian so old & omnipresent through my youth & adolescence I'm still a little startled that he's no longer with us.

It's the birthday of Federico Fellini, a filmmaker whose works I should return to, whose magnificent creativity I could never hope to emulate.

& it's DeForest Kelley's birthday, & he is one of the main reasons I love Star Trek so much.  I know he was very beloved in his lifetime, but I always wanted to meet him & tell him how great he was.

The suave Slim Whitman was born this day.  I haven't explored his music much, though I have a couple of collections.  He's someone I associate with late-night television ads selling "greatest hits" packages from the 1970s & 80s.  Boy, I wish I could pull off that moustache.

Actress Patricia Neal was born on this day, & she's a familiar face in lots of old movies.  As was comedian Arte Johnson, whom I came to love from Laugh-In repeats I watched in my youth.  & then there's Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon & possessor of a great punch.  (You've seen the clip, right?)  & I deeply admire much of the work of the great David Lynch, also born of this day.

Finally - there's more of course, you can see the names of births & deaths & event from the day on Wikipedia, there's someone whose show I watch weekly whom I find admirable: Bill Maher.  He's such a fascinating figure, & one with whom I have some big disagreements - but I confess I respect him a lot.

The wife just said, "Too bad you don't believe in astrology."  I think, actually, my name added to this list of luminaries would only make me a non-believer if I did!