Friday, April 11, 2014

Self Help Radio 041114: Breath

A show about breath!  It has left me short of breath!  I fear I've been wasting my breath!  Don't hold your breath or mutter things under your breath!  Help me catch my breath!  In the same breath I want to save my breath.  Or should I bate it?

Here you go, breathless one: a new show at Self Help Radio web central.  Or, if you prefer, individual halves of the show: half one & half two.  Breathy songs are below.

As always, you're a breath of fresh air!

(part one)

"Breath" Tall Dwarfs _Weeville_
"Every Breath I Take" Gene Pitney _Phil Spector: Back To Mono_
"Save Your Breath" The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir _...And The Horse You Rode In On_
"Take Your Breath Away" Prince Edward Island _This Day Is A Good Enough Day_

"Lose My Breath" My Bloody Valentine _Isn't Anything_
"The Last Breath Of Summer" Peter Himmelman _This Father's Day_
"Breath Control" Boogie Down Productions _Ghetto Music: The Blueprint Of Hip Hop_
"Cigarette Breath" Shinehead _The Real Rock_

"Baby's Breath" Bill Callahan _Apocalypse_

(part two)

"Onion Breath Baby" Elroy Peace _Onion Breath Baby_
"Dog Breath, In The Year Of The Plague" Frank Zappa _Uncle Meat_
"Out Of Breath" Ronnie Whitehead _Eccentric Soul: Mighty Mike Lenaburg_

"Every Breath You Take" The Swirlies _Damon Andy Rob Ron: The Yes Girls_
"Candy Breath" Honeybunch _Time Trials: 1987-1995_
"Catch Another Breath" Choo Choo Train _Briar High_
"Bated Breath" The Room _No Dream (Best Of)_
"One Breath" Anna Calvi _One Breath_

"Breathless" X _More Fun In The New World_
"Breathless" Momus _Timelord_

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Whither Breath?

Has anyone ever written a poem in which all the lines rhyme because it's the same word?  I wanted to write a trifling little piece of doggerel about "breath" but there aren't many words that rhyme perfectly with breath: death, meth, Beth & Seth are the only ones I can think of.  The others are "near-rhymes" like "breast," relying on rhyming of the internal vowel sounds rather than the ending sounds (is that assonance?).

Anyway, I wrote a poem about breath that just rhymed breath with breath all the way through.  It went like this:

Because I could not stop for breath
I had to go & shop for breath.
Said she, "I see you're spilling breath."
Said I, "Better than killing breath."
Said she, "You should perhaps change your breath."
Such statements can derange your breath!
Still I worried about my breath.
Could I do without my breath?
I think I'll have to mint my breath.
A sweet taste just to tint my breath.
But what if I can't fix my breath?
Find something with which to mix my breath?
Seriously, what goes good with breath?
Like fire goes with wood, with breath?
I don't want chewing gummy breath.
I don't want Jamaican rummy breath.
I don't want super cheesy breath,
Lemon squeezy easy-peasy breath.
Since I can't have nothing breath,
I need to work on bluffing breath.
Said she, "You think too much of breath.
I even think that you love breath!"
Said I, "Until you tasted my breath,
I would have said I wasted my breath."
Said she, "Come here!" & took my breath
& with her lips she shook my breath.

I understand that I made the phrases all rhyme, not just the last words.  I couldn't help myself.

The first line is of course an Emily Dickinson riff.  I couldn't help myself there, either.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Preface To Breath: Sad Reflections On Childhood

Do you remember when suddenly it became a big deal whether your breath smelled bad or not?  Did it have something to do with puberty?

I remember my sixth grade Social Studies teacher, Mr. Schwartz, was the first "close talker" I ever met. He would almost pull me to him to let me know something in confidence.  (Why he needed to confide in a twelve year old is another story.)  Mr. Schwartz's main problem was that he was most probably a three-pack-a-day smoker.  In those days, teachers would disappear in-between classes to puff down an entire cigarette in a five minute period.  & even though virtually every member of my family at that time smoked, I was astonished when he would come close to me, talk in low tones, & his breath smelled as bad as his teeth were yellow.

Being an ugly & fat child, I didn't get to play the boy-girl games of puberty & anyway I did my best to keep myself inconspicuous & out of trouble.  But I think it was some time in eighth grade when someone spat out that damning word for the first time in my life: halitosis.  It's a word that sounds as bad as it is.  It was probably in my Home Economics class (a class I took because at the end of the school year you learned how to make a pizza) when some of the more popular guys I sat next to complained of some dude who had halitosis.  They had discovered this fact not because they themselves noticed, but because a girl had complained about it when she kissed him.

I knew at that point I would never ever never kiss a girl.

Whether or not I myself had bad breath I couldn't say.  I didn't have cigarette breath, that was true.  But at the time I definitely didn't have terribly good dental hygiene, which is the easiest way to guarantee decent-smelling breath.  In my favor, however, was the fact that my family ate bland, white European food, with the most daring spice being salt, so I didn't smell of garlic or curry or anything like that.  But I drank a lot of soda, & ate a lot of crap junk food.  Chances are, I didn't have breath that smelled of posies.

None of it mattered, of course - I didn't have friends with whom I whispered all the time, & when I was finally able to communicate with the opposite sex, I would be talking to girls who weren't quite as shallow as the boys in my Home Ec class.

What they - or the boys in middle school, or even my friends - said about my breath behind my back is another thing entirely, & something I am not privy to.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Sympathy For The Dribble

Things are a little sad in Lexington to-day - the college basketball team, which was poised to win the college basketball championship, lost to another team.  "Second place isn't so bad" doesn't heal the hurt feelings of people whose happiness & pride had been tied up in a sports team for an exciting season.  People I know who are at the school were saying things on Facebook like, "I'm so proud of my school!"

On a dog walk during a play-off game, with the streets quiet & near-deserted, the wife told me she didn't understand sports fans.  She said, "I can understand wanting to play sports, but watching them?"  She assumed that they knew what she does, that the spectators are not in any way responsible for how the games turn out, & that the coaches & administration & players reap all the rewards.

I grew up in a family that loved sports, & was a child when the Dallas Cowboys won a couple or three Super Bowl victories in the late 1970s.  Even in those days, however, I didn't feel much of a connection to the athletes on the television.  When once I praised what I thought was an outstanding play, but one the other team had made, I was almost struck by one of my brothers.  Rooting for the other team was apostasy.  & I remember how frustrated & sad they would be when their team lost.

In Huntington, one time, a kid at WMUL was talking about the Marshall team taking on their rivals at the University of West Virginia.  "If they beat us," he told me, "I'll kill myself."

I understand how thrilling sports are, & I also understand it's a human tendency to take sides.  (Recently, I read an internet forum about "Marvel" vs "DC" movies.)  I know I tend to take things like the recent Supreme Court ruling as a "loss" to my team (people who want everyone in the United States to be healthy, well-fed, happy, & safe) & a "win" for the 1% who already control way too much.

It's in our nature.  So I sympathize, a little, with the "losers" who had no real stake in the game, who now feel as though they've been dealt a major blow in life, like discovering they have a medical condition, or they've lost a great deal of money.  (Well, the gamblers out there who are also school partisans may actually have.)  It doesn't make me care any more about the actual sport, & it certainly doesn't change my opinion that there's too much money in college sports & far too little in the liberal arts.  But I hope my friends who are feeling a little crushed today feel better soon.  "It's just a ball game," is no consolation, because, to them, it isn't.

Maybe next year?

Monday, April 07, 2014

Movie Review?

This blog features virtually no reviews of music.  It has some comments I felt like making after some musicians or artists who meant a lot to me died, but not really any "reviews" per se.

I've written hundreds of reviews of records for the various radio stations I've been at.  I never felt any of them were worth printing.  My favorite reviews, actually, were for things that weren't very good, or for things that I didn't have much to say about, so I would take the opportunity to write something dumb.  For example, there was a band whose name was the same name as one of my middle school teachers, so the review began like this:

My eighth grade English teacher was named [band name].  I kind of liked her, but everyone else thought she was a servant of the devil because she held us to high school standards.  She was small but stern, & obviously loved the stuff she taught us.  She introduced me to Poe!  Anyway, this band – which is two brothers – has nothing to do with that.  

This doesn't help you understand the band at all, so I do describe their sound & what tracks I like.  It's standard stuff for a radio review, which (usually) isn't meant to be read by anyone but a deejay thinking about playing a song on the air.

Which is not to say that I don't appreciate criticism.  I love to read what people think about stuff.  I don't agree with probably most of it, but I don't mind it.  Sometimes someone else's opinion reinforces my own - or, better yet, makes me think more deeply about what I believe or think.  For some people, however, criticism can seem to be a writer showing off his/her style, or it may just be a bad argument, someone trying to change your opinion, & that can be irksome.

But I was thinking of writing a review of a movie I recently saw, for no other reason than I just saw it.  Occasionally I write a review of something on the Internet Movie Database - very occasionally, actually - I recently wrote something for the first time in seven years - but I am rarely moved to comment on a movie in the same way lots of people are & do.  (You can read my handful of reviews here, if you'd like.  None is essential.)

& then I started thinking, this morning, how much more I enjoyed the Game Of Thrones season four premiere far more than the movie.  There were a few dull, expository stretches through the movie - but all the dialogue (& it was a talky premiere) in the television show seemed essential.

& what is the point, anyway?  If you like some of the music I like, you'll like some of the shows I've put together.  An album review or a movie review or a television review won't make much of a difference.  Will it?  How could it?