Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Gary Files # 5: Gary Larson

(I found this picture here.)

An explanation: Since the name Gary is going extinct, I thought it incumbent upon me to celebrate more notable Garys than myself.  This is the fifth of a series!

Gary Larson is, according to the Wikipedia, "an American cartoonist, the creator of The Far Side, a single-panel cartoon series that was syndicated internationally to over 1,900 newspapers for fifteen years, until 1995."

When did you first become aware of him?  A few years after the cartoon's debut in 1980.  I think one of the two Dallas papers (that existed at the time) carried it.  If it were the Dallas Times Herald, which was the more liberal of the two (& which went out of business in 1991), that would make sense - that was the paper that was most often in the house.

Did you like it?  I loved it.  Oh my god, it was so funny.

Do you have a story about reading The Far Side at school & getting into trouble?  I do!  In my senior year, I had a physics class which was taught by a coach who was waaaaay over his head.  A lot of the time, we just sort of sat there while he encouraged us to read.  None of the experiments we were supposed to do worked as they should have - not even the teacher's.  The class was my last period of the day, & one Friday, the teacher was clearly not wanting to teach, & my friend Mike Jones brought a Far Side book, & we read it together at our desks (which were, as in science classes, giant tables) & we laughed & laughed.  Every cartoon seemed funnier than the last.  I was laughing so much I was crying.  The teacher got more & more angry until he threatened to send both Mike & me to the office if we didn't shut the hell up.

Did your appreciation of the comic change over time?  I haven't read it in years, but I remember a girlfriend of mine had a collection that I read in the crapper at some point, & I was surprised how quaint it seemed.  Though I did think it had funny moments.

Why do you think you felt that way?  Maybe so much of what was innovative about the comic had become so much a part of the culture that it now seemed old hat.  Or maybe my sense of humor had changed since high school.

It was probably the first one.  I still laugh at the same dumb things.

Is his name really Gary?  Wikipedia says so.

Do you know why he was named Gary?  He was born in 1950.  It's all Gary Cooper's fault.

Did you know there's a beetle named after him?  Lucky bastard.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Self Help Radio 101315: Rollercoasters Revisited - A 13th Anniversary Show!

(Original image here.)

It was a fun show yesterday, with nice calls & lots of well-wishing, & hardly anyone telling me they're surprised the show has lasted this long.  Almost no calls were about how awesome roller coasters are, which made me sad.  I wanted us to bond over that subject!

There's really nothing I can add to this, except I need to find out when amusement parks are mostly empty, because I'd love to ride every roller coaster there in one day.  Am I getting too old for that?  When I told people this summer I loved roller coasters, they thought I was joking.  We'll see who has the last laugh!

The show this week is chock full of guests, so if you're into that, you're in luck!  It's now available for your listening pleasure at the website my shows live on.  Did I mention username/password?  Did I say SHR/selfhelp?  I can't recall.  The show is in two parts, what songs I played in each part are listed below.

Hey!  No line jumping!

(part one)

"Roller Coaster" Chuck Higgins _So Long_
"Roller Coaster" Little Walter _The Complete Chess Recordings_
"Love Roller Coaster" Big Joe Turner _Big, Bad & Blue: The Big Joe Turner Anthology_

"Rollercoaster" Dear Nora _We'll Have A Time_
"Roller Coaster By The Sea" Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers _Rock 'n' Roll With The Modern Lovers_
"Rollercoaster" Everything But The Girl _Amplified Heart_
"Rollercoaster" Michael Shelley _Half Empty_

"Roller Coaster Blues" Diana Dors _Sex Kittens In Hi-Fi: The Blondes_
"Roller Coaster" The Partridge Family _Bulletin Board_
"Rollercoaster" Sportique _The Matinée Summer Splash_
"Emotional Rollercoaster" Romanovsky & Phillips _Emotional Roller Coaster_

"The Rollercoaster Ride" Belle & Sebastian _The Boy With The Arab Strap_

(part two)

"Rock & Roller Coaster" Tony Crombie & His Rockets _Great British Rock & Roll, Vol. 2_
"Roller Coaster" Bobby Caver & Group _Never Leave Me_
"Roller Coaster Ride" American Death Ray _Smash Radio Hits_

"Roller Coaster" The Ides Of March _Ideology 1965-1968_
"Rollercoaster" M Ward _Post-War_
"Fear Of Rollercoasters" The Lucksmiths _Why That Doesn't Surprise Me_
"The Rollercoaster Song" The Lilac Time _Paradise Circus_

"Rollercoaster" Spirea X _Fireblade Skies_
"Rollercoaster" Northern Uproar _Northern Uproar_
"Rollercoaster Ride" The Whitest Boy Alive _Rules_
"Rollercoasting" Helen Love _Radio Hits 2_

"Rollercoaster" Sleater-Kinney _The Woods_
"My Rollercoaster" Kimya Dawson _Juno OST_

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Whither Roller Coasters Revisited?

(I found this image here.)

It was probably late summer/early autumn 2000 - around fifteen years ago - that I put in an application for a show at KOOP radio in Austin, Texas.  I had no idea what I was getting into.  The station had been rocked by in-fighting for a couple of years - you can see on this webpage what the losing side in the battle thought - but I was blissfully unaware of what I was getting into.

Without going into specifics - there were some crazy things that happened at that station during my eight years there - I began to volunteer but found out they had no real path for newcomers to get a show.  Programmers basically got to keep their shows as long as they wanted them, unless they did something really stupid, like steal or, worse, cross the people in charge.  I knew a lot of people there - many of them former KVRXers like myself - so I helped train, I got involved, & I waited.  I waited & waited & waited.

Something happened - a few hours opened up - I don't recall how or why - in September 2002 - & I campaigned for a show.  The name "Self Help Radio" is something I came up with at the very last minute - I remember then-Station Manager Angela Keaton laughing happily when I told what I was going to call my show.  I had toyed with many others - my friend Joe suggested I called the show "Be My Radio Friend," & I even worked out a Mr. Rogers-type theme song for it.  But "Self Help Radio" - a reference, ultimately, to my own desperate need for all kinds of self-help - took, & despite some people thinking it's an actual self-help radio show - like dozens of my "followers" on Twitter - I am happy I called it that.

The themes were there from the beginning as well, but if I had a copy of that first show for you to listen to, you'd be surprised how unfocused it was.  I didn't actually come up with the idea of talking about the themes, along with playing songs about them, until perhaps the end of the year.  It was so obvious that of course I missed it.  The show has always been, & will continue to be, a shambling work-in-progress.

The first show aired on October 9, 2002.  Now it's thirteen years later.  I don't even want to count the number of shows I've done, or the number of themes I've covered.  Doubtless it's over six hundred shows, maybe the same number of themes (though I revisit them from time-to-time - like today!).  & yet I feel like I have a few more shows in me.  Silly old me.

You can listen today from 4-6 pm on 88.1 fm in Lexington - that's WRFL, you know - & you can listen online at wrfl dot fm if you're out of town &/or don't own a radio.  I'll be speaking with lots of guests, including the show's head writer & a fellow who sued me over the idea of the show, & of course there'll be lots of songs about roller coasters - & hopefully not some of the same as I played the first time around.

Oh yeah - you can win a tee shirt too!  If you listen!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Preface To The 13th Anniversary Show: Reflections On Thirteen Years

Oh no, I'm not going to spend time writing about the last thirteen years of this show right now!  I'm self-involved, but I'm not that self-involved.

Instead, let me show you this:

It's the 13th anniversary design by Suloni Robertson, who also designed the original logo.  I'm going to have some shirts made in honor of the anniversary, & you will have a chance to win one on tomorrow's show!

It's lovely, isn't it?  She's my favorite artist.

So: no reflections on thirteen years.  I was actually going to see if I could dig up the old cassette of my original roller coaster show from 2004 & try to digitize it - but I wasn't feeling masochistic enough.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Secure Your Things, People

This is a picture I took at King's Island this summer.  (I talked about that trip here.)  As someone who likes to take dumb pictures (& whose pictures have taken over the show's Tumblr blog), I really really wanted to take out my crappy little digital camera & attempt to take photos on the ride.  But that collection made me hope everything I had would stay in my pockets!

Turns out I didn't have a lot to worry about - I fit snugly into the seats & my things were in my pockets.  Not that I didn't check after every damn ride.

Why am I thinking about this?  Because I am listening to songs about roller coasters for this week's show, of course.  I went to Columbus a week or two ago, & I drove home on a chilly Thursday morning in the rain, & passed King's Island, which (I believe) is closed for the season.  It looked quite desolate & alone.

Thinking about it, though: I wonder what that grand amusement park looks like covered in snow?