Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Gary Files # 14: Gary Owens

(I found this image 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 fourteenth of a series!

Gary Owens was an American deejay & voice actor. As the Wikipedia notes, "his polished baritone speaking voice generally offered deadpan recitations of total nonsense, which he frequently demonstrated as the announcer on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In."

When did you first become aware of him?  On repeats of Laugh-In, probably.  I was too young to have seen it when it first aired.

But but but Space Ghost!  Oh do not get me wrong.  I first heard his voice as Space Ghost, that is most definitely the case.  But I didn't develop my penchant for reading credits until much later.  If you asked me at age eight who voiced Space Ghost, I would have said, "Space Ghost!"

You've never heard any of his actual deejay work?  Alas, I have not.  Honestly, I always thought the funniest thing he did was send up the fakey deejay voice that everyone expects awful deejays to have.  I'm not sure I'd enjoy him using his voice as an actual fm radio deejay.  But what do I know?

He has a record - have you heard it?  Indeed I have.  It's called Put Your Head On My Finger, & it has its moments.  Although the Allmusic Guide review is pretty damning.  But fuck them - I've played him on Self Help Radio!

But - you're not impressed by him?  Do not think that's the case!  I appreciate anyone who's able to survive & thrive in the entertainment industry for as long as Gary Owens did!  In fact, if you read Mark Evanier's appreciation of him, you'll understand he was that thing we all strive to be: very good at what we do.  He was, by any measurement you could imagine, astonishing.

Was his name really Gary?  He was born Gary Bernard Altman in 1934.

So you don't know where the inspiration for the name Gary came from?  I don't.  Maybe a family friend?

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ghosts Of Christmas Shows Past!

(I found this - among many other delightfully odd Christmas photos - here.)

Oh boy!  It's almost Christmas!  Why not compound the drunkenness, family fights, & self-loathing-inspired overeating with an old Very Self Help Radio Christmas?  No one has ever accused them of being "useful" or even "good," but they probably walk the line somewhere between "naughty" & "nice."  Consider it an extremely lame gift to you from your friends at Self Help Radio, & be grateful none of us here were your Secret Santa.  You lucked out.

Happy holidays!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Self Help Radio 122215: A Very Self Help Radio Christmas 2015

(Original picture here.)

Ho ho ho!

What is there to say?  For almost every year of Self Help Radio, there's been a Christmas show.  (There wasn't one five years ago because I was in Australia which, as you know, celebrates Christmas in July.)  (That's not true.  I was trying to be funny.)  This year was no different.  Two hours of Christmas music including a song performed for the show by local musicians.  Plus!  An interview with an elf (retired) who worked with Santa!  And!  A conversation about Christmas with the Reverend Dr. Howard Gently!  Also!  An interview with a man who claims he invented Christmas!  So much yule!  Maybe too much yule!  Also perhaps an excess of noël!

You can listen now & make every day Christmas at the Self Help Radio website.  Pretend it's a present & unwrap it!  There are two parts, the contents of which are detailed below.  Make sure you pay attention to username/password information on the web page.  It's not me being grinchy!

Happy holidays!

(part one)

"Santa Claus Hides In The Phonograph" Ernest Hare _Voices Of Christmas Past_
"Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" Arthur Treacher _And A Sled... And A Catcher's Mitt... And A Puppy... And A Popgun... And A Big Christmas Album From Merv Griffin & His TV Family_
"Department Store Santa Claus (After Xmas)" Howard Morris _Hipster Christmas_

"I'll Be Home For Christmas" Cassie Ramone _Christmas In Reno_
"Five Pound Box Of Money" Pearl Bailey _Jingle Bells Cha Cha Cha_
"Here Comes Santa Claus" Gentleman Auction House _Christmas In Love_
"Dumbo, The Clown (Who Loved Christmas)" The Residents _Subterranean Modern_
"The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)" Invincible Czars _Ornaments_

"Jingle Bell Rock" Inquiring Mind _Christmas Meltdown!_
"Drummer Boy" The School _12 Days Of Christmas_
"The Snow" The Pink Flamingos _The Snow_
"Holiday On Ice" Celeste _The Colder Insight EP_
"Do You Hear What I Hear?" Mark Kozelek _Sings Christmas Carols_

"Christmas Waltz" Jenny & Lee (from Owlsey County) _Christmas Waltz_
"Hard Candy Christmas" Tracey Thorn _Tinsel & Lights_
"Loneliest Christmas Tree" Lise Miller _Love Is_

(part two)

"Christmas With The Beatles" Judy & The Duets _Christmas With The Beatles_
"White Christmas" Bob & The Dylantones _White Christmas_
"Can't Wait For Christmas" Loose Tapestries _Can't Wait For Christmas_

"Jungle Bells (Dingo-Dongo-Day)" Les Paul & Mary Ford _Christmas Cheer_
"Santa Mouse" Bob Morrison _Santa Mouse_
"The Twelve Days Of Christmas" Bob & Doug McKenzie _Great White North_

"Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" Seattle Tuba Project _Guess Who's Pregnant?_
"I'm Giving You My Cold For Christmas" Lee Rosevere _I'm Giving You My Cold For Christmas_
"Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" The Winter Wonderband _You Know It's Christmastime_
"Christmas Tears" The Hit Parade _More Pop Songs_

"Christmas Flexi" T.Rex _T.Rexmas!_

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Whither A Self Help Radio Christmas 2015?

(I found this image - with helpful safety tips - here.)

My mother, who is German, tells me that, when she was a child, in pre-World War II Germany, they would put candles on the Christmas tree.  Even though I was a child, my first thought was "Holy shit! Wouldn't the tree catch fire & burn the whole fucking house down?!"  & I was very happy that, though the electric lights on our tree got a little warm, they weren't a freakin' open flame.

My wife, who has Polish parents, tells me she heard the same thing from them.  What they told her - & what my mother wouldn't, because the past is pretty rosy in her hindsight twenty-twenty - is that, yes, there were fires on the tree.  All the time.  All the time!  It was a thing that happened, because, you know, they were putting candles on a flammable object.  Of course there were fires!

Having said that, I think I would enjoy watching a Christmas tree burn.  Not in a house, with presents under it - that would be sad!  I'm not a psychopath.  But I can't stop looking at that image up there.  I like fires, I'm human.  One of our neighbors keeps promising to invite us to a bonfire.  I wonder when that's going to happen?

None of this has anything to do with this week's show, with is full of Christmas music both traditional & odd, both reverent & the opposite, but hopefully nice & novel & different than the canned stuff you hear in all the places you go this time of year.  I don't want to do the same sort of Christmas show everyone else does.  But perhaps it's my vanity saying that - I have a sneaking suspicion I'm not all that special, you know.

The show is on here in unseasonably warm Lexington from 4-6pm on 88.1 fm (that's WRFL) & all over the unseasonably warm Christmas world on wrfl dot fm.  I hope you can tune in, but in case you can't, I'll archive it on the show's website in time for Christmas!

Ho ho ho!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Preface To A Very Self Help Radio Christmas 2015: Naughty & Nice

Have you noticed - have you really noticed - that's there a lot of Christmas music out there?  It's ironic that some people think there's a war on this particular holiday, because I believe there's more Christmas music out there than there's porn.

& like porn, most Christmas music is awful.  I mean, most if not all porn is just terrible.  Most - but not all - Christmas music is the very definition of intolerable.  Almost always designed to make a buck.  By hacky musicians or musicians who are struggling for relevance.  Who buys Christmas music?  Or should I ask, who doesn't buy Christmas music?

For me, the challenge is to find songs that aren't tedious copies of the originals, or originals that have some personality, or - this is an epiphany I had last night - music that's disrespectful.

Because I do love Christmas music, despite the fact that I don't celebrate the holiday at all.  The wife & I don't exchange gifts, we don't immerse ourselves in the mythology, heck, I don't even want to be around my family this time of year.  (The wife's family went on a trip, or she'd have flown back home to be with them.)  So I won't be offended if someone is utterly & completely disrespectful of some great Christmas song.

There will be, I confess, a couple of disrespectful Christmas songs on my show tomorrow.  I have found some real goodies.  Some real square tunes too.  But - I can't stress this enough - not any that are as awful as the pornography-level Christmas tunes you'll hear in any store now until the end of the year.  Guaranteed!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Cradle To Grave (Episode Five)

My other radio show, called Cradle To Grave, aired last night, & I forgot to mention it on social media.  My bad!  I get caught up in dumb life.  But I think it was a lot of fun.

One of the treats of doing the show is that I can celebrate musicians that mean a great deal to me, & last night featured the birthday of one of my heroes, Phil Ochs, are well as the death anniversary of one of the top ten greatest blues artists ever, Blind Lemon Jefferson.  But there's much, much more.

The show is now at the Self Help Radio website for you to be listening to at your earliest inconvenience.  I recommend looking at the page for password/username info.  It's right there, it's no secret.  The show is divided in two parts, one for birthdays, the other for sad days of death, & what's in each part is listed below.

Please to enjoy.

(part one: birthdays)

"Stomp Off Let's Go" Erskine Tate's Vendome Orchestra _The History Of Jazz: Chicago That Toddlin' Town_
"Riverside Blues" Lu Watters' Yerba Buena Jazz Band _The Good Time Jazz Story: San Francisco_
"L'Accordeoniste" Edith Piaf _Blue Skies: 45 Hits From The 30s & 40s_

"Sparkling Blue Eyes" Bill Carlisle _From The Vaults: Decca Country Classics 1934-1973_
"Country Boy" Little Jimmy Dickens _The History Of Country & Western Music: 1949_
"Rehearsals For Retirement" Phil Ochs _Rehearsals For Retirement_
"I'd Love To Change The World" Ten Years After _A Space In Time_

"Mardi Gras In New Orleans" Professor Longhair _Gettin' Funky: The Birth Of New Orleans R&B_
"This Here" Bobby Timmons _This Here Is Bobby Timmons_
"Teasin'" Cornell Dupree _Teasin'_
"Mighty Mighty" Earth, Wind & Fire _Open Your Eyes_
"Hurry Hurry" New Birth _Love Potion_
"Best Of Friends" Twennynine with Lenny White _Best Of Friends_

"Side Car Cycle" Charlie Ryan & The Timberline Riders _Side Car Cycle_
"Do You Believe In Magic?" The Lovin' Spoonful _Do You Believe In Magic?_

(part two: death anniversaries)

"I Want To Be Like Jesus In My Heart" Blind Lemon Jefferson _The Rough Guide To Blind Lemon Jefferson_
"Sleepy Time Gal" Gene Austin _Voice Of The Southland_
"On The Road Again" Floyd Jones _The Chronological Floyd Jones: 1948-1953_
"That's All Right" Jimmy Rogers _Blues Greats_
"Gotta Serve Somebody" Pops Staples _Don't Lose This_

"That's My Kind Of Love" Marion Worth _Marion Worth's Greatest Hits_
"Drivin' Nails In My Coffin" Ernest Tubb _Walking The Floor Over You_
"Older Guys" Flying Burrito Brothers _Burrito Deluxe_
"Sittin' Here Drinking" Christine Kittrell _Night Train To Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues, 1945-1970_
"Like The Weather" 10,000 Maniacs _In My Tribe_

"Winin'" Art Hodes With Milt Hinton _Just The Two Of Us_
"El Hombre" Pat Martino _El Hombre_
"Wah Wah Man" Young-Holt Unlimited _What It Is! Funky Soul & Rare Grooves (1967-1977)_