Sunday, December 31, 2017

That Was The Year That Was

It's time for end of the year accounting.  You don't need to be here for this.

Total number of radio shows I did this year is: 62

Total episodes of Self Help Radio: 51*
Total episodes of freeform radio: 11
Total numbers of radio stations I was on: 3**

Self Help Radio episode stats are going to be a little complicated.  As you see above, there were 51 episodes this year (although one was repeated on the air in Lexington in November when I took a week off, & as I note below, I did re-do two episodes on KVRX just two days ago).  Of those 51, you can say that 41of those had unique themes***, by which I mean themes that the show had never explored before & were not themes folded into a regularly scheduled holiday spot.

Because there are shows I do for special days, like Valentine's Day & Halloween, that may seem like repeated themes, which in some way they are, although I pick a different aspect of the holiday each year.  Here are the themes that recur, with the unique element covered this year:

My birthday: 1981
Valentine's Day: Sweethearts
Halloween: Black Cats

There are three shows I do which have the same theme but always feature different music.  Those are;

Magda's Birthday Show (all birthday songs, but ones never played for this show)
Gary's Favorite Music (songs from the year that I dug)
A Very Self Help Radio Christmas (holiday tunes I've never played before)

& then there's the Indiepop A To Z series, which happens three times a year, & which is a continuing alphabetical list of indiepop bands.  No two episode is the same, but it is part of a series.

Finally, one show is a repeat of a theme.  My anniversary show revisits an old theme, but adding new songs or perhaps reevaluating said theme.  This year, we went back to reconsider a show from 2004.  I am too tired now to see how many songs were repeated from the earlier show.

That adds up to 51!

Non-Self Help Radio data: I subbed ten shows on KNON in 2017, & played around for four hours on KVRX a couple of weeks ago just playing music.

That adds up to 62!

If you want to count the four hours I redid two Self Help Radio shows on the 29th, it's 63!  But I'm not greedy.

Certainly I hope to do more radio in 2018.  As for now - well, if I said I'd already started drinking, I'd be lying, but if I said I was thinking about starting to drink this early in the day I would not be lying.

Thanks for listening to Self Help Radio in 2017!  Look for more of the same nonsense in 2018!

* 53 if you count the two episodes I re-did on KVRX in late December.
** You can say four if you count the arts calendar I do every week for KFTW.
*** Here they are, in alphabetical order: Apples, Are You Ready?, Bars, Betty, Blondes, Cafes, Control, Cosmic, Crooked, Dancing, Diamonds, Dust, Fate, Ferris Wheels, Faces, Firsts, Foxes, Gas, Guards, Guilt, In The Sky, Johnny, Leonard Cohen Tribute, Lightning, Machines, Maybe, Mercy, One Day, Pencils, Questions, Rising, Rubber, Seventeen, Sidewalks, Smash, Tails, Turn It, Umbrellas, Venus, Visions, & Warnings.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Self Help Radio 122717: Indiepop A To Z # 55

(Almost all these covers came from Discogs.)

At this point, what is there to say about this series?  That it's delightfully alphabetical?  That it's quite poppy?  That it's a fool's errand which I'll never finish so really why bother?  Of course it's all those things & more.

It's the more that I adore.  You know what for.  Though there's a number up there, I don't keep score.  & I'm sincere to the core.  Like the band buttons you wore, you know what's in store.  Songs that soar till your heart is sore.  It's either/or not neither/nor.  Making it isn't a chore, so make it yours, your listening du jour.  I'm afraid I am beginning to bore, so before you start to snore or to show me the door, let me sit on the floor & just roar, roar, roar:

The show can be listened to now & any time at the Self Help Radio web site.  It's in two parts, each about an hour long; the songs in the two parts are listed below.  Oh!  If you've never listened, you'll need a username & a password - those are on the front page.  & previous editions of the Indiepop A To Z series can be found around here.  If you wanna listen.

Because I was climbing a tor with a boar & a centaur whom I was trying to ignore outdoors when one said, "Señor, I implore you to be my mentor!"  Etc.

(part one)

"My Cloud" Masters Of The Hemisphere _Seven Summers (International Pop Vol. 2)_
"Valerie Loves Me" Material Issue _Valerie Loves Me_
"Ha Ha" Mates Of State _Team Boo_

"Nothing Really Happened" Math & Physics Club _In This Together_
"My Record Collection" The Mathletes _#$@% You & Your Cool_
"I'm An Alcoholic" Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele _The Good Feeling Music Of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele_
"This & That" The Maybellines _You're Still Young At Heart_
"Montague Terrace (In Blue)" Mayfair Charm School _Bellissimo! Él Singles Part One_

"Dark House" The Mayfair Set _Young One_
"Deeper Than The Ocean" The Mayfields _Deeper Than The Ocean 7"_
"My Own Fellowship" Maylove _Sing Little Clam Sing 7"_
"Grey Rebel Suit Search" The McAllisters _Too Much Money Propaganda_
"Red Sleeping Beauty" McCarthy _Scared To Get Happy: A Story Of Indie Pop 1980-1989_

"Aware Of All" The McCluskey Brothers _Aware Of All_

(part two)

"Candleland" Ian McCulloch _Candleland_
"Lighting Fires" Grant McLennan _Fireboy_
"Jesse Rae" The McTells _What Happens Next_
"Me & My Paisley Shirt" Me & Dean Martin _The Sound Of Leamington Spa Vol. 3_

"Una Mañana" Me Enveneno De Azules _A Veces Quiero Estar Callado_
"Intestinal Bolognese" The Meanies _No Sleep 'Til Bedtime 7" EP_
"Don't Slip Up" Meat Whiplash _CD86_
"Smoke" Medalark Eleven _Smoke_
"Uncomfortable" Mega Emotion _Uncomfortable_

"Your Tears" Rose Melberg _Cast Away The Clouds_
"Final Flight" Melbourne Cans _Moonlight Malaise_
"Wildest Dream" Melodie Group _Seven Songs_
"Wait For A Decade" Melodika _The Sound Of Young Sweden, Vol. 2_
"Futuristic Lover" Melody Dog _Futuristic Lover_

"The Plea Before The Scream" The Melody Unit _Songs For The New American Century_

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Whither Indiepop A To Z # 55

(Original image here.)

Fifty-five episodes?!?  I know, right?  Geez.

When we last listened to indiepop in alphabetical order, we were visiting the letter M.  (You can listen to that episode here.)  We had finished with Mascott.  Which means we'll probably continue with Ma for a while, probably getting to Mc, & with a little luck & some discrimination, we'll start with Me.  Suddenly it feels like I am talking about elements.  Well, the joke's on you.  There are no elements who have those abbreviations!  What about mercury? you may ask.  Nope!  That's Hg.  Magnesium?  Mg, dude.  Mendelevium???  Um, wow.  That's a deep cut.  Still, no!  That's Md.

Thinking about it, a radio series called "Elements A To Z" would have been fun, & also I'd be done by now.

Not so with the Indiepop A To Z!  We're probably not even in the middle!

But surely it's not about the destination, but instead the journey?  I hope so.  Come back to the caravan tonight from 9-11pm eastern on 93.9 fm WLXU in Lexington & online at lexingtoncommunityradio dot org!  If you like jangle & twee, it's the place to be!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Preface To Indiepop A To Z # 55: The Process Explained

Oh golly I just a very long blog post describing in terrible detail the process I use to record & submit my shows & I don't even know why.  Even if years later, long after I've stopped doing Self Help Radio, I wanted some reminder of the trouble I went through to prerecord the show while I was in Texas & the show was on in Kentucky, I'm not sure I would've wanted or needed the level of description I was giving it.  What the hell is wrong with me?

Here are some facts about tomorrow's show that I wanted to share:

1) Because the station is closed for the holidays, I had to prerecord & turn it in early.
2) I usually turn in my shows the day before.  For example, the Christmas show, which aired last Wednesday, was sent to the station's Program Manager on Tuesday.
3) Because the station closed this week, I turned this week's show in on Thursday.
4) I have almost no memory of making the show, which is a little freaky.
5) I hope it's good?

There are other things I mentioned as well, like:

6) I miss doing the show live.
7) Because I did a show this morning on KNON.  I subbed for Nil on the Tuesday Morning Blend.
8) In general, my sub shows don't make it to my website, but if you want to hear it, you can go here.  It'll be there for the next couple of weeks.
9) Another reason to miss doing the show live is that I am also doing one more night at KVRX down in Austin.
10) Instead of just a random show, & so as not to make more work for myself, I will be repeating two Self Help Radios from this year.
11) Except, unlike the shows which are on the website, these will be live.

Yeah, so I miss doing live radio.  That probably won't change until I can do Self Help Radio live.  Which probably won't happen in the near or even the medium far away future.

Anyway, that was the gist of the much, much longer post I deleted.  I wonder how this week's show will turn out...

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Memories

Above is a picture of my mother & siblings (& my first niece) some time in the late 70s.  From left to right is my brother Ralph, me, my mother holding my little brother Chris, my brother Steve, my sister Pat holding my sister Karin, & my brother Eddie holding his daughter.

My guess is that it's Christmas 1978, which means I'm ten years old.  I have come to that conclusion because the toy in my hands is a Cylon Raider from the original Battlestar Galactica series which premiered that year & of which I was a big fan.  But it might be 1979.  I think I even had a Battlestar Galactica lunchbox.  How the show didn't survive with a fan like me is a mystery.

As I have mentioned, I don't celebrate Christmas, except with my show.  That was not always the case.  As a child, I loved Christmas, because, you know, presents.  & in general I think I got most of what I wanted.  (Well, except for that time I got a pet rock.)  That was no mean feat, as we were quite poor.  Maybe I should ask my mother how she did that, if my siblings contributed in any way.  How my mother made money in those days is something of a mystery.

One thing I disliked about our Christmas is that, because my mother's German, we would have Christmas - which meant of course opening presents - on Christmas Eve.  Which meant that we (my little brother & I) would be up all night playing with toys & be bored with them by the next day, which is when our friends woke & opened their presents, & be having fun while we'd be tired & bored.  Like the year we got an Atari.  Hours of Asteroids.  All night long.  Our friends got an Atari the next morning.  We played that all night long!  Wouldn't they rather go out & play?

During college & afterwards I would come home for Christmas, mainly at my mother's insistence, but I stopped doing that even before moving away gave me a good excuse not to attend.  (My oldest brother lives in Washington & uses that excuse.)  I just don't really enjoy it anymore - I have the means to get myself all the toys I want - & decided not to attend this year, although I would've had to stay away anyway thanks to my cold.

My brain holds almost no memories about that picture up there - I remember getting the Battlestar Galactica toys, which I probably used interchangeably with my Star Wars toys - I often created my own universes with my action figures, even giving them new names & personalities.  But I'm glad we look happy & healthy in that picture.  Whether we were, who knows?  It was four decades ago.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Horrify The Family On Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve, babe, & I'm not in a drunk tank, but I do have a cold.  It happened all of a sudden this morning & I've been sucking lozenges for my throat & cough, & popping Sudafed for my sneezes.  Strangely I am not sleepy, so I've been listening to music & wondering when I'll be well again.

Here's hoping you're faring better on this holiday eve!  I'm terrible at promotion (I mean, jeez, look at the product I'm promoting!) but I figured I could let you know that there are Self Help Radio Christmas shows (very Self Help Radio) on the web site if you're looking to annoy someone in the family tonight or tomorrow.

Here is this year's show, which aired last week.  Here's last year's show, which aired last year, appropriately.  Here's the Christmas show from two years ago, which aired two years ago (imagine that) on a different radio station than the one the show is on now.  & here's the show from 2014 which aired three years ago.

Jeez I didn't know I had saved so many of them, but here's the show from 2013, which, oh you know. & holy crud, look!  Here's the 2012 show.  Good grief, there's even the Christmas show from 2011!

There wasn't a show in 2010 as I was in Australia.  That's crazy but true.

Wow, I didn't know I went as far back as the 2009 Christmas show.  But it's there.  Thankfully no earlier ones!  I really need to clean up the website.

You'll (not yule) need a password & username - username SHR & password selfhelp.  If you want to listen.  It may make family members leave sooner!

Happy Santa night!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Self Help Radio 122017: A Very Self Help Radio Christmas 2017

(Original image here.)

Hello, Santa Claus here!  At this time of year, I often guest-write Christmas blogs for those blogs which share the holiday spirit.  I don't know much about Self Help Radio except this show was full of Christmas music & that's my favorite kind of music!  So even though I've not heard the show nor will I ever hear it frankly because I am a very busy man who's guest-writing dozens of blogs simultaneously, I will go ahead & recommend it because that is the nice thing to do.

& yes, I can see you when you're sleeping & I know when you're awake.  I have recently digitized my "naughty & nice" list & I ho ho hope it doesn't get hacked & put online!  I hope the elves have decent encryption!  Let's see, I'm supposed to say that not only does this show have wonderful Christmas music but well this is exciting, there are interviews with a Christmastologist - it's well-known I majored in that in college - as well as with a historian, a producer of holiday films, & a spiritual man who discusses the old holiday Yule.  I remember it well.  It was at a yule gathering I met Mrs. Claus!

Well, I suppose that's enough from me.  The show is on a web page called Self Help Radio - I see, after the name of the show - & it's a two hour show - that's about as long as it takes me to deliver presents in the United States! - & the songs & interviews in each section are listed below.

Have a happy holiday & maybe we'll espy one another on Christmas Eve!  I certainly hope there's nothing weird or disturbing about this show which will reflect badly on me!

(part one)

"Introduction, Good King Wenceslas, Caroling In The Dark, The Holly & The Ivy" Alan Lomax _Sing Christmas & The Turn Of The Year_
"Carol Of The Bells" Jingle Babies _The Jingle Babies: Rockabye Christmas_
"The Wildest Christmas" The Boys Next Door _The Boys Next Door_

"Ho Ho Ho (Santa's Gotta Go)" Smoota & Meah Pace _Ho Ho Ho (Santa's Gotta Go)_
"Santa, Bring My Baby Back To Me" Eleanor Friedberger _Holidays Rule_
"The Twelve Days Of Christmas" Norm MacDonald _Ridiculous_
"Number One For Christmas" Bubblegum Lemonade _Laz Christmas_

interview with Christmastologist David Frucher

"The Pagans Had It Right" Devil In A Woodpile _Bloodshot Records' 13 Days Of Xmas_
"Strangest Christmas Yet" Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers _The Long-Awaited Album_
"Christmas Eve Can Kill You" The Everly Brothers _Stories We Could Tell_
"Merry Christmas In The NFL" Willis "The Guard" & Vigorish _Merry Christmas In The NFL_

interview with historian Robert Hank Caligula

"Another Christmas Song" Remington Super 60 _Another Christmas Song_
"Christmas Blues" The Wave Pictures & Darren Hayman _Christmas In Haworth: An Advent Calendar From Darren Hayman, Fika Recordings, & Friends_

(part two)

"Christmas In Suburbia" The Perfect English Weather _English Winter EP_
"The Candy Kid" The Cowsills _All Time Hits_
"O Come, All Ye Faithful" Jim Nabors _Jim Nabors' Christmas Album_

interview with holiday filmmaker Lorenzo Schwab

"Christmas Time Is A Wonderful Time" Lard Dog & The Band Of Shy _Christmas Time Is A Wonderful Time_
"Jingle Bells (Dan The Automator Remix)" Dean Martin _Holiday Lounge: The Christmas Remixes_
"Case Study: HR Giger" Drs. Carter & Gourley _Superego Volume 3, Episode 10_
"Someone To Spend Christmas With" The Spook School _Someone To Spend Christmas With_

interview with the Rev Dr Howard Gently

"Yule Tide Me Over" The Minus 5 _Dear December_
"Birthday Cake For Jesus" Shinyribs _Birthday Cake For Jesus_
"Jingles, The Christmas Cat" Freddy Cole _Freddy Cole's Christmas Dreams_
"Eight Dates A Week (Song For Hanukkah)" The Holiday Scene _Eight Dates A Week (Song For Hanukkah)_

"Up On The House Top/Deck The Halls" "Two Ton" Baker The Merry Music Maker _Christmas Party_
"Auld Lang Syne" Frank C. Stanley with Orchestra Accompaniment _Frank C. Stanley, Vol. 1_

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Whither A Very Self Help Radio Christmas 2017?

(found here)

Tonight is the annual Self Help Radio Christmas show.

Some folks don't like Christmas music, & that's cool.  I am a fan of Christmas music but I feel you should only have to listen to like two hours of it during the holiday season.  & you shouldn't have to listen to the same Christmas music each year.  So there are no repeated songs for any Self Help Radio Christmas show.  There are however lots of new Christmas songs, barely as old as the season.

Also the show will be informative in a way that repeated listenings of classic rock versions of familiar tunes are not.  You'll hear interviews with an actual Christmastologist (that's a thing), a holiday film maker, a historian, & a spiritual teacher.  Should you listen.

The campaign to get retail establishments to play Self Help Radio Christmas shows on a loop during the holiday season has failed.  It wasn't much of a campaign.  I made a suggestion to some guy at a local drug store & he pretended not to hear me.  So it's only tonight on 93.9 fm in Lexington or online at that you'll be able to hear this year's a Very Self Help Radio Christmas.  That's from 9-11pm eastern.

Did you know mistletoe is poisonous?  So please don't snack on it during the show.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Preface To A Very Self Help Radio Christmas 2017: How Very?

Are there gradations of Christmas?

What might be a very Christmas?

You misunderstand.  It isn't a very Christmas.  It's a very Self Help Radio Christmas.

When talking about our animals, my wife will often say, "They love their rituals."

So too with a radio show.  It loves its rituals.

One of them is a Christmas show.  But it can't simply be a Christmas show.

It's on Self Help Radio.  But it's heightened for the holidays.

It's not just Self Help Radio Christmas.  It's very Self Help Radio Christmas.

Ask a philosopher.  The logic is sound.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Don't Make Me Beg

Okay, I'll beg.  I really hope you'll take a second to give just a few bucks to Lexington Community Radio during the Good Giving Challenge.  It's not just that they've given a place on air to Self Help Radio, but also that they've given a voice to so many different kinds of radio in Lexington & beyond.  A dizzying array of genres, community programs, issues, discussions.  Just think about what happens before Self Help Radio on Wednesdays - there is, starting at 6pm, two hours of hip hop, then at 8pm, an hour of important health information on Healthy Times, which I very much enjoy listening to before SHR.  Where else will you find such diversity, not just in Kentucky, but anywhere?  & that's just three hours!

So please go to the LCR home page to give or, if you want to be like a couple of sweet listeners, you can do it here in the name of SHR.

All of it goes to keep independent radio alive in Lexington.  So it's really, really worth it.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Monetize It

It's hard to convince people that someone is doing something because that person loves to do it.  The fact that I have been making radio since 1994 & have never been paid to be on the radio seems utterly nonsensical to some folks.   I remember a time at KOOP when a station manager told me that they were financially solvent enough to perhaps pay a stipend to some deejays who gave more to the station - implying I would be one of them.  I declined.  I had never accepted money to be on the radio before - it would be icky.

Which is a weird way to say I find it strange that Facebook - which, admittedly, thinks my show is a band, because when I signed up, I couldn't sign up as a radio show - is constantly asking me for money to promote a show for which I receive no money.

Here's a screenshot of the last three messages I've received from them:

You can't turn this off - I checked.  They will keep hounding you until, I guess, you give in & pay a few bucks to harass people who don't know about you - & doubtless don't care - have to see your shit in their feed.

Yeah, yeah, I'd love more people to know about this dumb radio show - I'd love to know how many bother to listen & then utterly reject it - but I'd keep doing it even if no one listened.  I do believe I have!  There were late nights in Austin two decades ago, & late nights in Lexington two years ago, that if I had called for help on the air, if there had been gunshots & sounds of distress & terror, no one would have come to my aid, because quite frankly no one was listening - & I still gave it my all.  Because I was having fun, playing music, being dumb on the air.  It's what I do.

& yeah, I wish I had that ambition, I know the wife would love it if I could bring in a few bucks doing this.  But I can't where SHR currently is, & in fact where Self Help Radio currently sits, any money raised goes to the saintly station that airs the show, not me.

How I wish I could make money that way!  I am terrible at it, frankly.  Even worse than I am at radio!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Self Help Radio 121317: Gary's Favorite Music 2017

(Most, if not all, of the album covers were found on Discogs.)

Year-end list!  Music I enjoyed!  Hope you like it too!  The show is now at the Self Help Radio website.  Two hours, two parts, what's in the parts (spoiler alert) is below:

(part one)

"Hitchhiker" Neil Young _Hitchhiker_
"Gone Gone Gone" The Feelies _In Between_
"The Sleep Of Reason" Billy Bragg _Bridges Not Walls_

"Something Falls" Last Leaves _Other Towns Than Ours_
"Let Down" Gingerlys _Gingerlys_
"Mirror" The Drums _Abysmal Thoughts_
"Plimsoll Punks" Alvvays _Antisocialites_

"Buy Me Dinner" Miss World _Waist Management EP_
"Ow Ow Ow" Spud Cannon _Next Time Read The Fine Print_
"In My Dreams" Makthaverskan _III_
"Dead Tree! Dead Tree!" The Blue Aeroplanes _Welcome, Stranger!_
"Rain In Soho" The Mountain Goats _Goths_

(part two)

"Have You Seen It In The Snow?" The Magnetic Fields _50 Song Memoir_
"Moonraking" The Cleaners From Venus _Martin Newell's Jumble Sale_
"There's Nothing More Beautiful Than A Well-Made Machine" The Luxembourg Signal _Blue Field_
"What's That Perfume That You Wear?" Jens Lekman _Life Will See You Now_

"Judy" Momus _Pillycock_
"Two Motorbikes" ShitKid _Fish_
"Virginia Woolf" Robyn Hitchcock _Robyn Hitchcock_
"Mississippi Swells" Nana Grizol _Ursa Minor_
"Buyer Beware" The Granite Shore _Suspended Second_

"Trouble" Girl Ray _Earl Grey_
"End Times" Roya _Roya_
"Me & You" Parekh & Singh _Ocean_
"Forever" BMX Bandits _BMX Bandits Forever_

Now, like this is a Marvel movie, here's a bonus section of this blog post:  the top forty records of 2017 as voted on my the folks who participate at Rate Your Music, & my brief comments on them:

1) Angelo Badalamenti, Twin Peaks: Limited Event Series Soundtrack

While I mostly enjoyed the return to Twin Peaks, I felt like the ending was a betrayal to the fans & the series, & I also didn't notice much new music from Badalamenti.  The soundtrack appears to have music that was performed on the show, most of which I was pretty unimpressed with.  So I never bothered to give this a listen.

2) Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.

It is surely one of my many failings, but my experience with commercial hip hop has been so disappointing I don't really seek it out to listen to.  So I never heard this.

3) Mount Eerie, A Crow Looked At Me

I have always liked Phil Elverum's work & I appreciated this record for what it is, but even though I've lost a dear loved one to cancer, there was some kind of block between this record & me, some barrier to translate its empathy to mine.  That's obviously my problem.

4) Tyler, the Creator, Flower Boy

See my comment to # 2 above.

5) Brockhamptoon, Saturation II

See my comment to # 2 above.

6) Converge, The Dusk in Us

I don't listen to any kind of metal, so its possible greatness would be utterly lost on me.

7) Big K.R.I.T., 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time

See my comment to # 2 above.

8) Slowdive, Slowdive

Oh I have friends who swear up & down this is a great record, & I enjoyed it, but it wasn't something I felt the need to return to much.

9) Fleet Foxes, Crack-Up

This band - I've tried to listen - they bore me silly.

10) Brand New, Science Fiction

Strange, I've never heard of these guys before.  Do you like them?

11) John Carpenter, Anthology (Movie Themes 1974-1998)

Carpenter's stuff is fun & diverting, but it's hard to separate them from the movies they're in, & when they're not in the movies, they seem to me to lose some of their magic.

12) Kristofer Maddigan, Cuphead

The info here is that this is video game music.  I don't play video games & so whatever is charming about this in regards to the games would be lost on me.

13) LCD Soundsystem, American Dream

Another record that several folks I know really loved.  It didn't do much for me, except make me go back & listen to earlier LCD Soundsystem, & realize I didn't like it as much as I thought.  Oops.

14) Keiichi Okabe & Keigo Hoashi, NieR:Automata

See my comment to # 12 above.

15) The Ruins of Beverast, Exuvia

See my comment to # 6 above.

16) Richard Dawson, Peasant

This is a remarkable record, & a hell of a listen, but for some reason I haven't returned to it since the first week I got it.  I remember being very impressed by it, but it wasn't something I listened to all year, which is kinda criterium number one for me.

17) Vince Staples, Big Fish Theory

See my comment to # 2 above.

18) Elder, Reflections Of A Floating World

See my comment to # 6 above.

19) Shoji Meguro, Persona 5 Original Soundtrack

See my comment to # 12 above.

20) Alvvays, Antisocialites

By gum, one of the records I loved this year made it onto the list!

To sum up, of the twenty most loved records currently on the Rate Your Music top 1000, I listened to seven of them this year (seven & a half, if you count the repeats on the Twin Peaks record), & only one made my favorites list.

How did the others stack up on the Rate Your Music list?  The ones that made the list (they don't say after 1000) went like this:

20) Always, Antisocialites
136) Magnetic Fields, 50 Song Memoir
214) Mountain Goats, Goths
218) Makthaverskan, III
283) Jens Lekman, Life Will See You Now
408) Robyn Hitchcock, Robyn Hitchcock
595) Nana Grozol, Ursa Minor
766) Feelies, In Between
797) Billy Bragg, Bridges Not Walls

Less than half of what I played.  Well.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Whither Gary's Favorite Music Of 2017?

(Image from here.)

If it hasn't already been made clear, tonight's show is not, emphatically not, a "best of 2017."  I'll say it all through the show, probably.

Just now I checked a couple of sources to see how my picks might stack up against their choices.  On the AV Club page, none of the bands I'll play tonight appear.  I actually haven't listened to most of those choices - they're just not music I enjoy.  I did like the Priests record, & if my show were three hours long, they would probably be represented.

More democratic is the Rate Your Music page, & in fact one of my favorite albums made it into the top forty there.

But this all underscores how arbitrary the process is.  What does it say when some faceless critic on a pop culture website tells you what "the best" is & you don't agree?  Do you therefore like less than the best, or even the worst?  Of course not.  All you got was that critic's opinion.  Ignore it, & concentrate on what you want to listen to.  Or if you agree with the critic, enjoy the experience.

As for me, tonight I'll play some songs from records I listened to a lot this year.  You may not like them, which is cool.  You will notice that some of the bands make my year-end favorites regularly.  That's to be expected.  You may also be surprised that a couple of my favorites didn't make the cut, & that's because I was disappointed by their releases of the year.  But even I don't think of this as my "best of 2017."  As I mentioned yesterday, I'm sure I've missed something that, when I finally find it, will knock me out, & I'll regret not having it for tonight's show.

You can listen to the show in Lexington at 93.9 fm (that's WLXU) & you can listen everywhere online at Lexington Community Radio dot org.  It's on from 9-11pm eastern, & maybe later you & I can listen to your favorite music of the year.  I'd like that!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Preface To Gary's Favorite Music 2017: I Repeat Myself About "Best Of" Lists

(Original image here.)

Every year I like to do a show playing my favorite releases of the year but I more & more dislike the idea of calling such a list a "best of."  Last year I enumerated my reasons for that, & I repeat what I wrote now since I can't really put it better:

If you've ever read this blog around this time of year, or heard any of my year-end shows, you know I absolutely hate the whole concept of "best of" lists.  It's arrogant in the extreme, & is nothing but a list of the opinions of one or more people, representing some magazine or other organization.  It no more determines what is "best" than sales or awards do.  Here's why I don't think anyone can say what is "best" in a list form:

1) No one has listened to every album or single or ep released that year.  Sorry.  You may think you have, but it's impossible.  If all you're listening to is major label stuff, you are most definitely not listening to the best music out there.  You've fallen into the trap of believing that commerce determines what is "best" like the Grammys.  But it's almost guaranteed that half of the commercial shit you think is best will be forgotten in a few years.  Anyway:

2) Fuck popular culture.  Music is not about heavily choreographed events.  Music is not about moments created by publicists & teams of "songwriters" whose contributions are focus-group-tested.  Radio, as it always has, caters to the moneyed musical interests & plays the same shit over & over, but that no more makes something great now as it did in the past, where there's a graveyard of "successful" & "best of" records that no one thinks about anymore.  & even imagining that you as a critic free yourself of the influence of the corporations that send you shit for free, there's the fact that:

3) You can't compare "best" albums through different genres.  This may sound like somewhat fatalistic, but can you really say a hip hop album is better or worse than a bluegrass record?  Even if you have an unusually broad taste in music, you surely have a favorite genre, & you're going to prefer one over another.  In the end, when the jazz gal likes a record by some other genre, it's peer pressure & good ol' familiarity, it being played constantly around the office.  & those sites that let every critic have a vote & somehow tally those votes?  How fucking stupid is that?  Because:

4) Nothing is "great" because of popularity.  I repeat this for emphasis, because this is something that just baffles me.  Why does anyone think something is good because a bunch of people like it?  Perhaps I am genetically disposed to dislike something because of hype, but I most certainly don't believe something is great because of the money it makes or the fans it has.  & when it comes to critics, listen: people usually like critics that agree with them, or challenge them, but if you believe that just because someone can write or talk eloquently about things they love or enjoy, you're dealing with an artificial insecurity, because:

5) No one opinion is better than another.  At best, you can call an opinion better informed.  For example, if you said you hated Bob Dylan because you didn't like his voice, I wouldn't put much stock in your opinion about his records.  But that doesn't mean you're wrong that Bob Dylan isn't your cup of tea - it just means that you're wrong if you think his music is bad & music you like is good.  That's just a personal opinion, & as I've said, that means you can never say what is "best" except for what you like & think.  & therefore:

6) Everyone should retire stupid year-end "best of" lists.  No one knows what's best.  They can't.  It's impossible.  They can say what they like, & they can back it up with information & opinions & pretty words.  But that no more makes it "best" than album sales or popularity or awards or the consensus of critics.  What makes it "best" to you is personal to you.  You see:

7) Opinion is always & forever subjective.  Just say it's your favorite music of the year, or something else that isn't a statement that suggests it can be prove right or wrong.  Because you don't have any clue whether something is the best of the year any more than any other person.  Maybe in time - hundreds of years later - we'll know who stood the test of time.  But a few months after it was released?  Give me a break.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Good Giving Again & Again

It's time again to remind you that you can support Lexington Community Radio - you know, the station that airs Self Help Radio - this month by clicking on that link or directly here.  If you want to show your support for Self Help Radio - though all the money goes to LCR - use this link.  While it's very flattering if you want to donate in the name of this dumb radio show, what's important is that you support community radio in Lexington.

Listen: radio ain't cheap.  Both WLXU & WLXL in fact are staffed primarily with volunteers, who give their time freely, for the love of radio.  As a non-commercial radio station, we can't run advertisements like your hear incessantly as you go up the FM dial.  It's at this time of year we ask for your help.  & golly any amount helps!

Yesterday as I was driving back from somewhere, I randomly scanned the dial out of curiosity.  About half of what I heard was LOUD! ANNOYING! ADS!  I'm amazed people have become so inured to those.  The other half was either generic modern pop music or songs you've heard your entire life.  It wasn't challenging, or fun, or informative.  I suppose there's a comfort in that, & that's why such radio exists.  But if you're here, if you've listened to Self Help Radio, or any of the stations the show has been on, you have rejected that kind of programming.

Show your support for independent radio, for independent voices, for local music & local issues, for dumb attempts at creativity like Self Help Radio.  Now's the time, friend.  Please help Lexington Community Radio out!

(Special thanks to the two anonymous donors who gave to Self Help Radio already!  My self-esteem thanks you as well!)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Of Course, The Week After My Sidewalk Show...

...I find this on the internets.

It's from here, by an artist Michael Pederson, whose work I've shared on the Facebook & admired before.  His web page (I repeat) is fun & worth checking out!

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Self Help Radio 120617: Sidewalks

How many sidewalks have I walked in my life? Is it weird to think that if I had been born two hundred years earlier, I wouldn't have walked on any sidewalks, especially if I had been born in the same area, which was basically rural until the early 20th century?

Instead, sidewalks were everywhere when I turned up.  Sidewalks in front of the schools I attended, sidewalks along the roads I wandered when I was a kid, sidewalks in the neighborhood where I've walked my dogs.  In fact, sidewalks are so ubiquitous that it's crazy that I live in a neighborhood now without sidewalks.

Perhaps that's the reason that this week's show was about sidewalks - an attempt to have some sidewalks, even virtual, in the neighborhood.  If I knew how to made a sidewalk, & I'm not sure I really want to know that, I'd seriously consider putting a sidewalk in front of my house, passive-aggressively ending the lonesome concrete at the property line.  One person in our neighborhood has actually done that, but his or her house is at the corner, so it doesn't seem so spiteful.

Anyway, here's this week's show, now at the Self Help Radio website.  You know about the username/password situation, right?  The info's on the page.  The show is in two mostly-equal parts, each about an hour long, & what's in the parts, including the interviews, is listed below.

(part one)

"Sidewalk Blues (Take 2)" Jelly Roll Morton's Red Hot Peppers _The Jelly Roll Morton Centennial: His Complete Victor Recordings_
"The Sidewalks Of New York" The Shannon Quartet (The Revelers) _New York, New York: A Vintage Portrait_
"Sidewalks" John D. Loudermilk _The Open Mind Of John D. Loudermilk_

"Sidewalking" The Jesus & Mary Chain _Barbed Wire Kisses_
"Crack In The Sidewalk" House Of Freaks _Monkey On A Chain Gang_
"Sidewalks" Ken Nordine _Wink: Ken Nordine Does Robert Shure_
"The Sidewalks Of Chicago" Merle Haggard & The Strangers _Hag_
"Sidewalk Patrol" Red Simpson _The Man Behind The Badge_

interview with the Rev Dr Howard Gently

"City Sidewalks" Hardwater _Hardwater_
"Sidewalk" Birdie _Triple Echo_
"Sidewalks & Spaces" True Love Always _Clouds_
"Where The Sidewalk Ends" Edine _Between Two Waves: The Second Wave_

interview with writer David Fruchter (part one)

"Snowy Sidewalks" Aden _Aden_
"Sidewalk Birds" Saturday Looks Good To Me _Money In The Afterlife 7"_

(part two)

"The Sidewalk Song" The Bran Flakes _I Have Hands_
"Cracks In The Sidewalk" The # 1 _The Collector_
"Talk To A Sidewalk" The Shags _Every Groovy Day_

interview with writer David Fruchter (part two)

"The Sidewalks Of The Ghetto" Eternity's Children _From Us Unto You: The Original Singles_
"Sidewalk Traveller" Hopeton Lindo _Sidewalk Traveller_
"Bob & Ray Editorial: Save Old Sidewalks" Bob & Ray _Classic Bob & Ray, Volume Four: Selections From A Career: 1946-1976_
"Don't Eat Stuff Off The Sidewalk" The Cramps _Psychedelic Jungle_
"Sidewalk Begging" Dicks _These People_

interview with child explorer Oliver Whitehall

"Sidewalk Surfin'" Jan & Dean _All The Hits: From Surf City To Drag City_
"The Sidewalk Surf" The Mad Lads _The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959-1968_
"Sammy The Sidewalk Surfer" The Surfettes _Hey, Beach Girls! Female Surf 'n' Drag 1961-1966_
"Sidewalk Surfboard" Floyd Robinson _Motorcycle Man_
"Devil's Sidewalk" Graham Parker & The Rumour _The Up Escalator_

"Sidewalk" Seana Carmody _Struts & Shocks_
"Sidewalk Cracks" Sonny Vincent & Spite _Spiteful_

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Whither Sidewalks?

A show about sidewalks.  Well, I never.  How many songs could there be about sidewalks, anyway?  Surely not enough to fill a two-hour show?  I guess we'll see.

Back in the day, I wasted money I could've been using to buy records to buy British music magazines like Melody Maker & NME to read about records I couldn't afford because they'd be expensive imports by the time they reached Austin, if they ever did.  I remember when the Jesus & Mary Chain single "Sidewalking" came out, on magazine had an interview with the band, & one of the comments was about the song's title.  Apparently the interviewer was impressed they used the term "sidewalk."  He (or she) said something like, "If Morrissey had written the song, he might have used the word 'pavement' or something more British."

It made me think, do British people have a different word for sidewalk?  It turns out that, yes, they say "pavement."  I found out that Australians say "footpath."  Will there be "pavement" & "footpath" songs on tonight's show?  No spoilers!

That picture above was taken in Lexington, Kentucky, a couple of years ago (April of 2015, to be exact).  It's a sidewalk along a street called Maplewood Drive in the Southland area.  There was a neighbor of ours named Bill who, right before we left, got a job working for the city as a sidewalk inspector.  He would visit neighborhoods, walk their sidewalks, & spray-paint marks on them if, like the one above, they might pose a danger to people who walked along them.  The owner would then be obliged to fix the sidewalk or be fined.  In the six years we lived in the neighborhood, there were never any marks on that sidewalk.  But don't blame Bill!  He had just started when we moved away.

Did we tell Bill about this sidewalk?  Heck no!  We're not snitches!

This is just a long-winded way of saying oh yeah Self Help Radio is on the air tonight from 8-10pm central/9-11pm eastern on 93.9 fm WLXU in Lexington (where you'd better pay attention to your sidewalks) & every where at Lexington Community Radio online.

As a postscript: we now live in a neighborhood that doesn't have sidewalks.  Sigh.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Preface To Sidewalks: Where The Sidewalk Ends

(Shel, from his Wikipedia page.)

You have to be around my age to automatically think, when someone says the word "sidewalk," of a book of poems called Where The Sidewalk Ends.  I was very happy when I discovered an actual album of Silverstein reciting & singing the poems that I had loved as a child, but unhappy when I checked it recently to discover that the titular poem is not one of the album's tracks.

In lieu of me reading it to you on tomorrow's show, I'll just share it now, in case you haven't ever read it.  I found a copy of it here.

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

Hooray!  No poem-reading for me tomorrow!

Monday, December 04, 2017

Don't Jinx It!

Actually, I don't believe in jinxes.  Or curses.  Or bad luck that's anything other than bad luck.  But it's been so difficult for me to find a venue for Self Help Radio in this sprawling area of over seven million people that any opportunity for me to do live radio is something that I get excited about so - here's some news.  Unsurprisingly, it has nothing to do with this sprawling area of over seven million people & few opportunities for non-commercial radio.

The radio station where I first did radio is the student radio station at the University of Texas at Austin, KVRX.  When the long winter break comes, they allow alumni to come to the station to do shows, & I have decided to mosey down to Austin to do just that.  My first "winterim" show is next Thursday, December 14th, from 8-midnight central time.

It won't be Self Help Radio, but maybe some of my collaborators - two of whom live in Austin - may show up.  Mainly it'll be me playing music in my old stomping ground.  It will be almost twenty years since I did a show there.  How crazy is that?

There'll be more reminders when the time nears, of course.  I just wanted to say something.  I'm so excited!

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Good Giving, Good Grief

The Good Giving Challenge is happening right now in Lexington.  (You can click the link to see what exactly that means.)  With regards to Self Help Radio, this impact the dear radio station that airs the show, WLXU.  WLXU is a non-profit, non-commercial station that is made up mainly of volunteers - music lovers, community activists, & everything in-between.  The programmers make radio out of love, not for profit.  But money is needed to keep the station on the air, & now is the time to help out.

You can donate to the station by clicking on this link.  I have been very fortunate not to have to beg for money for the past few years, as WRFL is supported by student fees.  But that's not the case with WLXU.  So please give!

Personally, I am terrible at raising money.  I think I give off too desperate a vibe, like my self-esteem is too invested in the validation that monetary support for my worthless radio show would give me.  But I should say that, if you want to give to Lexington Community Radio, you can do so in the name of the show, where, if you click the link, you will see that... no one has done so.  & you know what?  That seems appropriate.

So you don't have to show support for Self Help Radio.  But do support Lexington Community Radio.  Please please please.  Please please please please please!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Self Help Radio 112917: Magda's Birthday Show 2017

Yes, that's my wife.  She is a member of the Jazzercise cult.  The picture above is a couple of years old, taken on her birthday then.  Enjoy it, she may make me take it down later.

So, yeah, this week's show was my annual birthday show for her.  She gets a very long birthday week.  & also, since she was raised Catholic, she gets a Name Day as well.  I'm not doing a separate show for her for that, because I find that a little indulgent.  Also, there's no name day for Gary.

Where was I?  Oh yeah, I played a lot of birthday tunes for her.  None of which I've ever played on the show before.  Except I might have played another version of "The Unbirthday Song."  But not Rosemary Clooney's version!  In general only I am interested in the limitations I set for myself for my show.

The playlist for the show is below, including the silly interviews I did.  The show is of course now at Self Help Radio birthday central.  Pay attention to username/password info or no birthday cake!  Each part is a half hour long.  You might not think there were so many birthday songs & you would be wrong.

Also: happy birthday to you!

(part one)

"Birthday" Mental As Anything _Liar Liar Pants On Fire_
"Apple Gate" Godzuki _Your Future_
"Birthday" Safe Home _You Can't Undo What's Already Undid_

"Happy Birthday, Johnny" St. Vincent _Masseduction_
"Birthday" Mere Women _Big Skies_
"My Life By JR Green: My Special Birthday" The Firesign Theatre _Duke Of Madness Motors_
"The Birthday Democrats" Guided By Voices _How Do You Spell Heaven?_
"Birthday" Hazel English _Just Give In / Never Going Home_

interview with entrepreneur Lorenzo Schwab

"Happy Birthday Robo" Remington Super 60 _Indie Pop For Kids, Vol. 1_
"The Birthday" Willie Phoenix _Plastic Blues & Grooves_
"Mad Shelley's Letterbox" Robyn Hitchcock _Robyn Hitchcock_
"Birthday" Jana McCall _Slumber_
"Happy Birthday Wonder (Acholi)" Ennanga Vision _Ennanga Vision_

(part two)

a chat with my spiritual mentor the Rev. Dr. Howard Gently

"Birthday Song" Dominic _Goodnight, Doggies_
"Tomorrow's Birthday" Alaska _These Sacred Floors_
"Birthday" Kitty & The Kowalskis _Chinese Democracy_
"Groan's" Snowball II _Flashes Of Quincy_
"Birthday" Andy Jones _Letters From Uncle Val_
"Barf Day" Diet Cig _Swear I’m Good At This_

conversation with anti-birthday activist David Fruchter

"Birthday" Bobby Donnie _Bobby Donnie Plays The Bobby Donnie Songs_
"Birthday" Getaway Cruiser _Getaway Cruiser_
"Birthday Morning" Fuzzystar _Telegraphing_
"Birthday" Radial Spangle _Ice Cream Headache_

"The Unbirthday Song" Rosemary Clooney _Memories Of You_
"Happy Birthday Fungus Face" Da Yoopers _Yoopy Do Wah_

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Whither Magda's Birthday Show 2017?

Mom's home! Hope she brought the cake!

In 2002, around the time of her birthday, my then-girlfriend Magda picked all the songs for an episode of Self Help Radio.  It was a lame birthday present for her, but I think she was happy.

In 2003, around the time of my then-girlfriend Magda's birthday, I didn't celebrate it at all on the radio.  I have no excuse for this, as I didn't have this blog then & don't have the energy to make something up at the moment.

In 2004, on the day of my then-girlfriend Magda's birthday, I made a radio show with nothing but songs about birthdays.  I thought I was pretty clever.  Also, I was glad I didn't play the obvious Beatles song, but only a weird German cover.

In 2005, around the time of my still then-girlfriend Magda's birthday, I seemed to have forgotten to celebrate it on the radio again.  I wouldn't start this blog until the next year, so I'm not sure what my thinking was.  Did I want to come up with a better idea than "birthday girl picks all the music" or "songs about birthdays" but couldn't?  I have no idea.

But since around the time of my girlfriend-who-would-become-my-wife-in-three-years Magda's birthday in 2006, I have celebrated her birthday on the radio with an entire show about birthdays.  There are of course a finite amount of songs about birthdays, & a much smaller subset of songs I like about birthdays, but I have managed to make twelve shows of songs about birthdays, without repeating any recordings (I have played covers of the same song, & a couple of remixes).

& I will continue with tonight's episode.  2017 gave us about a dozen great birthday tunes, & there's more I've mined from the past, & you'll hear them if you listen on 93.9 fm WLXU in Lexington & online at Lexington Community Radio dot org from 9-11pm eastern, 8-10pm central.  There will be silly interviews too.

Hey, even though it's technically a birthday show for my wife, the songs are about birthdays, anyone's birthdays really, so if you've had a birthday this year, or you will in the next month, this show's for you!  Happy birthday!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Preface To Magda's Birthday Show 2017: The Birthday Girl

Hey! Don't tell anyone, but I googled my wife today.

Now that sounds dirty but you know it just means I searched for her online.  & no, I didn't think I would find out something about her that I didn't know.  I just wanted to know what the internet said about her.

The first web page that comes up is her profile at her current place of employment, the University of North Texas Medical School.  I do love that picture, though.

The next two are "Rate Your Professors" pages rating her teaching skills.  They are unbearably positive, both at UK, where she taught in Kentucky, & at the University of Texas when she was a graduate student.  "She was a total spaz," one student review begins, & nothing has changed.

Ooo, but look at her Google scholar citations  She's serious & shit.  Thank the non-existent deity that she doesn't bring this work home!

You can find this page about her with Google but I promise, that is not a picture of her.  I've asked her, no one knows who that is, or why that picture is there.  "I haven't done anything about that," she says, uninterestedly.

Most of the pictures of her, actually, on Google image search are not in fact her.  For example, this is not her:

That's a fellow named Sam.  I know him.  I've seen him in the same room as my wife, so I know (or have reason not to suspect) that they are the same person.

Mostly I am disappointed there's not more about her online.  I need to do that, write more about her online.  I am toying with the idea of writing a blog post about her once or twice a week.  Maybe Google will find them?  I can fill them with images like this one:

Here she is in New Orleans with her old mentor/colleague Carl Terranova.  Seriously, I have dozens of these pics.  I can flood Google with them!

But first I need to get her permission.  I am not suicidal.

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Last Birthday Party

It's an illustration: a table with plastic forks & paper plates, some still holding half-eaten pieces of chocolate cake.  A candle has fallen to the floor.  There's a dog eating something, you can't see what, that the animal has gained by pulling the tablecloth down.  & there's shredded wrapping paper, & no more presents to be seen.

It's a promise.  When people are around, you drink too much, you don't notice how drunk you are & then you think you can drink yourself to the other side.  & you hate surprises.  & you hate people, if you're being honest with yourself.  Especially these people.  People you've even called friends.  They can barely see.

It's a moment of recognition.  After everyone left, you struggled to sweep up but you should've asked for help.  It was so kind of your children to come see you but you wish it weren't an obligation based on occasion.  It doesn't matter anymore.  You aren't getting any younger & soon enough you won't be getting any older.

It's a matter of forgetting.  Something someone might have celebrated sometime before, maybe before you were born, was just worn down by time, like the etched writing faded on a centuries-old tombstone.  You want to ask someone about it but nobody seems to know, or remember, or ultimately, to even care.

It's the last birthday party.  Because everything has to have its last, because, of course, nothing lasts.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Trouble With My Knees

The problem is a low threshold of pain.

A threshold is, "the sill of a doorway," or, "the entrance to a house or building," or, "any place or point of entering or beginning."*

When a couple get married, traditionally, the male half of the male-female pair, & perhaps the stronger of the male-male & female-female pair, is supposed to carry the other over the threshold.  Many theories exist about this practice, but that isn't important for the purposes of this meditation.**

The question is this: can one be carried over the low threshold of pain?  What sort of marriage does one have, then, with one's body?

Which brings us to knees.  No one crosses the threshold on their knees, do they?  That would be a remarkable thing.  & taxing.  Perhaps if one is a prodigal child, as in the parable***.  Coming home, expecting to be punished for being wasteful, it might behoove one to adopt a begging posture.

Is much begging done on one's knees?  Or is that also for pleading?  Interestingly, one proposing marriage is traditionally supposed to go down on one knee to ask for the other's assent to marry.  Do note it's only one knee, so as not to be perceived as begging.  One knee is perhaps just asking.

Which brings us to my knees.  They have been feeling weird all day.  I am trying to remember a time when my knees ever felt weird.  I have fallen to my knees before - not merely as a dramatic gesture.  I have also been kicked in the knees before, which I remember as being quite unpleasant.

So what is wrong with my knees?  I did not ask the internet.  I am not asking you.  How would either of you know?

Ultimately, however, I am happy with my low threshold of pain, despite my knees recently carrying themselves over that threshold.  A high threshold for pain seems a dangerous thing, making one feel better when one is perhaps in need of medical assistance.

But I never said my knees hurt!  What could possibly be the point of this discussion?

The answer, alas, is on a kneed-to-know basis.

* According to
** You can read some of them here, however.
*** Which you can read here, if you don't know it.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Self Help Radio 112217: Cosmic Radio

(Original image here.)

The show went cosmic this week.  Loosed of its terrestrial concerns, it was free to wander the cosmos, & it remembered to bring a snack, so it wouldn't get too hungry in-between stars.  There's a lot of space in-between the stars.  Like, I wish I had downloaded more podcasts to listen to, it took for-fuckin'-ever to get from one star to another.  & we only had two hours!

Still, there were plenty of cosmic vibrations, not a bit of cosmic radiation, lots of cosmic energy, & a smattering of cosmic misery.  You'll be able to do the cosmic slide like an expert cosmic dancer if you feel the cosmic force from the cosmic rays as you sail the cosmic sea.  When should experience the cosmic show?  Cosmic now, man.

Also, I talk to my spiritual advisor about cosmic matters, I speak to the "ambassador to psychedelics" David Cosmic Charlie Fruchter, & in outer space I stumble upon lost cosmic funk master Schleppy Wapps.  Also, there's plenty of cosmic tunes, of course.  You knew that.  Did you?

The show can be listened to anywhere in the galaxy at Self Help Radio dot net.  There's a username & a password, but it's no cosmic mystery: it's on the page there.  The show is in two parts, roughly an hour each.  What's in each part is below.

& please have a happy Thanksgiving!  I thank you too much for listening!

(part one)

"Cosmic Ballad" Perrey-Kingsley _Brain In A Box: The Science Fiction Collection_
"Cosmic Now" The Babe Rainbow _The Babe Rainbow_
"Cosmic Thing" The B-52's _Cosmic Thing_

"Cosmic Cars" Cybotron _Cosmic Cars_
"Cosmic Radiation" Clinic _Free Reign_
"Cosmic Sea" The Mystic Moods _What It Is! Funky Soul & Rare Grooves (1967-1977)_
"Cosmic Assassins" DJ Q-Bert _Wave Twisters_

interview with the Rev. Dr. Howard Gently

"Cosmic Supernatural" Kid Loco _A Grand Love Story_
"Cosmic Dancer (Work In Progress)" T. Rex _Electric Warrior_
"Cosmic Wheels" Donovan _Cosmic Wheels_
"Cosmik Debris" Frank Zappa _Apostrophe (')_

(part two)

interview with David "Cosmic Charlie" Fruchter

"Cosmic Charlie" The Grateful Dead _Aoxomoxoa_
"Cosmic Rays" Helium _The Magic City_
"Cosmic Misery" Martha _Courting Strong_
"Cosmic Flowers" Levitation Room _Ethos_
"Cosmic Vibrations" Foxygen _...And Star Power_

interview with funk musician Schleppy Wapps

"Cosmic Slop" Funkadelic _Cosmic Slop_
"Cosmic Energy" Kool & The Gang _Love & Understanding_
"Cosmic Glide" Captain Rock _Cosmic Glide_
"Cosmic Force" Dennis Brown _Cosmic Force_

"Cosmically Aligned" Widowspeak _All Yours_
"Cosmic Radio Bitches" Drug Boyfriend _Cosmic Radio Bitches_

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Whither Cosmic Radio?

(Cosmic Steve Ditko, found here.)

This show is, quite simply, a chance for me to play songs with the word "cosmic" in the title or song. That's it.  Quite ordinary for Self Help Radio.  Nothing cosmic about it.

There's a part of me that wanted to lie & say it had something to do with the two recent "cosmic" comic book movies, Thor: Ragnarok & Justice League, both of which I saw in the theaters, but nope!  I started planning this show long before that.  Most of my shows gestate for a while until I think they're ready.

You wouldn't believe the folder on my computer with show ideas in them.  Some of them I'll never do.  Some of them have languished for years.  At least once I had the same idea independently over the course of a few months & didn't notice because the folders had slightly different names.  It's a mess.

One thing I did want to say is that my idea of "cosmic" is very much tied up with comic books, & as beautiful as outer space is, I think there's a part of me that is a little sad it's not as crowded & busy as Jack Kirby drew it or as trippy as Steve Ditko drew it.  Those are powerful images that take up a lot of my mind.

Anyway, there's a new Self Help Radio tonight.  Cosmic music, silly interviews, occasional interruptions by me to check in.  From 9-11pm eastern on 93.9fm WLXU in Lexington & online at

Begin your holiday weekend cosmically!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Preface To Cosmic Radio: The Power Cosmic

As a complete nerd when it comes to comics, especially ones I read when I was young, & into my twenties, & some which I still occasionally read now, when I can afford them, I have to say that the word "cosmic" immediately brings to mind the phrase "the power cosmic."

What does that mean?  According to the Marvel Database, "The Power Cosmic is the name of a vast source of limitless godly cosmic energy & power primarily wielded by the god-like cosmic entity Galactus. The Power Cosmic allows Galactus to employ the available absorbed cosmic energies within him to produce nearly any effect he desires, including size-alteration, the molecular restructuring & transmutation of matter, the teleportation of objects—even entire galaxies—across space & time, the creation of force fields, the creation of interdimensional portals, telepathy, telekinesis, & cosmic awareness on a universal scale. Galactus has even been shown as capable of creating sentient life, resurrecting the dead, manipulating mortal souls & remaking dead worlds—including their populations—in every detail."

The first appearance of "the power cosmic" was in Fantastic Four # 46, during Stan Lee & Jack Kirby's incredible run on that title, & the phrase is pure Stan Lee (even though Jack Kirby had the power cosmic to draw an incredibly powerful cosmos).  Why just say "cosmic power" when you can invert the words & make it sound pretentious?  That's the Stan Lee way!  Excelsior!

Here's an image from a Silver Surfer comic written by Lee & drawn by John Buscema:

It's from here.  Galactus gave the Surfer the power cosmic, see.  & the tree of evil... ever carries the seed... of its own destruction!

Man, I used to love that prose when I was a kid.  Anyway.  Where was I?

Oh yeah.  That's what I think about when I see the word "cosmic."  "The power cosmic."  When I was a kid, I would've loved a little of the power cosmic.  Nowadays, I'd probably just use to afford to buy more comics.  They're expensive!

Monday, November 20, 2017

You May Not Notice It But

There's going to be something slightly different about Self Help Radio this week.

If you want to try to guess what it is, send an email (after the show, of course) to gary at self help radio dot net & I'll give a prize.  If you guess correctly.  If you want a prize.

It's nothing major.  But it's something different.  & after years of same, isn't it time for something different?

Sunday, November 19, 2017


It's time to say goodbye to another friend.  My mother-in-law's dog Rufus (whose brother Rowlf I wrote about here) has died, probably at the age of seventeen or eighteen, which is a very great age for a basset hound in particular, & for dogs in general.

He was a very lucky dog.  He was found in northern California wandering in a field & taken to what we call "the pound."  Around the time of his discovery, my wife's mother had had a heart attack, & my wife had gone to see her, to help with her recovery.  My wife was missing her own dog, & wanted a dog to walk, & her mother suggested they visit the city pound, & there, my wife's mother found Rufus.

She learned his history.  She saw, according to a note on his cage, that he might be (would be?) put down (ie, killed) the very next day.  My wife's mother had a thing for bassets, & that affected her.  They moved on, they saw other dogs, but something about Rufus stayed with her.

& someone at the city pound noticed.  They took her back to Rufus, they let her go outside with him, they encouraged her to spend time with him.  I didn't know or meet Rufus when he was so young, but I bet he was a charmer.  I couldn't resist him in old age; how could my wife's mother resist him in his youth?

Rufus was adopted.  He found his "forever home."  What a good home it was!  He was the king.  Even when, later, he found out he had a brother from another mother named Rowlf, he was magnanimous in his power.  He established his walking schedule, he enjoyed his meals, he reveled in  his time with my wife's mother.

As for me, I only got to know Rufus late in his life.  When I meet dogs, I spend as much time with them as I do the humans around them.  (The dogs are usually the more interesting.)  I visited with him the past couple of years & enjoyed walking him - we both had somewhat easygoing, some would say slow, styles.  Earlier this years, in a visit to a nearby park, we took the time to enjoy the sun.  Here's Rufus:

He didn't know he had less than a year left on the planet (me either!).  He didn't know his constant companion would no longer be with him in a few weeks.  He was living in the moment, as all animals except humans do, enjoying a beautiful day, knowing his mother & sibling were near, happy to make a friend or be reacquainted with one, accepting of the vagaries of life.

I can still see his face before me, feel his basset jowls as I petted his face, see his big, sad eyes as I told him how much I liked him, hoping he might too like me.

The world is less than because he is not here, but it is more than because he existed.

Good bye, Rufus.  You were a good thing.  I am so so happy I knew you.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Self Help Radio 111517: Gas

(Original image on this page.)

Quick!  What's the most popular elemental gas?  Do you know?  Here's the ranking:

1) Oxygen (for obvious reasons)
2) Neon (it's just so bright)
3) Helium (because it makes you sound like a cartoon)
4) Krypton (because Superman lived there)
5) Chlorine (something about swimming pools)
6) Hydrogen ("it's the bomb," they say)
7) Nitrogen (the gardener's fave)
8) Xenon (gassy warrior princess)
9) Radon (confused often with a cousin, Ray-Don)
10) Fluorine (they put it in the water to make us communist!)

We didn't quite get to rank the gasses on this week's Self Help Radio because we were actually playing mostly songs about gasoline.  Kind of a bummer, really.  I wish more musicians would write more songs about gasses in general.  But.  I danced with the ones that brought me.  Which was mostly gasoline.

Maybe there's a gas song you'll enjoy on today's show.  Maybe it'll remind you of huffing gasoline & cause you to relapse.  I don't really know.  I just do the shows & hope there's time later for a nap.

The show is at the Self Help Radio website right now.  It's not made of gas so it won't float away or dissipate.  There will be a prompt for a username (it's SHR) & a password (it's selfhelp).  The show is in two mostly equal parts, about an hour long, & the songs & played in both parts - plus the interviews - are listed below.

(part one)

"Solid Liquid Gas" They Might Be Giants _Here Comes Science_
"Mr. Gas" The Parachute Men _Earth, Dogs, & Eggshells_
"Gas Converts To Star Energy" Drug Boyfriend _Gas Converts To Star Energy_

"At The Gas Station" Luise Pop _The Car The Ship The Train_
"Malibu Gas Station" Sonic Youth _The Eternal_
"Wind Up Workin' In A Gas Station" Frank Zappa _Zoot Allures_
"Gas Station Recipes" Maria Bamford _Ask Me About My New God!_
"Gas Station Women" Phil Ochs _Greatest Hits_

interview with "fossil fuel poet" David Fruchter

"Gasoline" The New Year _Newness Ends_
"Caffeine - Nicotine - & Gasoline" Bill Royal _The Big Itch, Vol. 5_
"Gaslite Street" Herman's Hermits _The Best Of Herman's Hermits: The 50th Anniversary Anthology_
"Beautiful Gas Mask" The Mountain Goats _All Eternals Deck_

first interview with chemist Allen Shariaty

"President Gas" The Psychedelic Furs _Forever Now_

(part two)

"Ethyl In My Gas Tank (No Gal In My Arms)" Jimmie Heap & The Melody Masters _Release Me_
"Out Of Gas" Floyd Robinson _Floyd Robinson_
"I Asked For Water (She Gave Me Gasoline)" Howlin' Wolf _Moanin' In The Moonlight_

second interview with chemist Allen Shariaty

"Gasman" The Gargoyles _Steamflapper_
"Choirboys Gas" Bad Dream Fancy Dress _Choirboys Gas_
"Your Love Is Like Petrol" Client _Command_
"Mr. Science: Gas Refrigeration" Bob & Ray _Classic Bob & Ray, Vol. 1: Selections From A Career, 1946-1976_
"Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" David Bowie _Let's Dance_

interview with the Rev Dr Howard Gently

"Life's A Gas" T. Rex _Electric Warrior_
"Life's A Gas" Joey Ramone _...Ya Know?_
"It's A Gas" The Wedding Present _It's A Gas_
"Gas" The Dentists _Behind The Door I Keep The Universe_

"It's A Gas (Part 1)" The James Brown Dancers _The Singles, Volume 4: 1966-1967_
"It's A Gas" Alfred E Neuman _It's A Gas_
"Gasoline" Shovels & Rope _O' Be Joyful_