Friday, April 19, 2019

Self Help Radio 041919: April 19th

There was an idea I had: while the show was on hiatus, I'd feature some show from the past - I mean, I've been doing this for almost seventeen years! - that happened on the same date.  It turns out, April 19 is a pretty well-traveled moment on the calendar for Self Help Radio!

Two years ago, I did a show about umbrellas.  Should you be so inclined, you may listen to that show in two parts right now: part one & part two.  (You'll need a username & password, & that will be SHR & selfhelp in case you didn't know.)

Three years ago, in 2016, there was a show with the theme everything's fine.  Do you remember, back in 2016, when everything seemed fine?  Me neither.  But you can listen to that show, if you want, by clicking on part one & then part two.  Same password situations apply.

But wait!  There's more!

In 2013, on April 19, there was a show with the theme on my mind.  You were on my mind then.  But I didn't reupload the show, sorry.

On this day in 2011, the show explored songs involving the word crawl.  That would've been one of the earlier WRFL shows.  How wonderful it might be to hear that show!  But you can't.

A year earlier, in West Virginia, the show examined the theme mushrooms.  No one listened to the show in West Virginia except people at WMUL, & the Station Manager himself called & said it was amazing I did a show about mushrooms on 4/20.  Except it was 4/19.  & I'm not that clever.

We can go way back, though.  To one of my favorite episodes, which aired in 2006.  I have no idea if the show is any good, but I enjoyed making it.  Self Help Radio wasn't even four years old.  I had the idea of making a show where all the songs were covers of 1980s tunes.  I called it "the eighties, translated".  I don't know if it were well-received or what.  But I had a lot of fun.

Believe it or not, there are still days in the calendar which have never had an episode of Self Help Radio aired on them.  April 19 is not one of those days.

Now.  Back to packing!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Our Correspondence Was Very Weird

Guess what I'm doing here:

A process in the weather of the heart
He put on his clothes & stepped out & he died.
I who was shapeless as the water
Of unremembered skies & snows
Shall I unbolt or stay
Hearing the raven cough in winter sticks
My world was christened in a stream of milk
I climb to greet the war in which I have no heart but only
The jacks of frost they finger in the hives
But for the common wages
For my voyage to begin to the end of my wound
Possessed by the skies
And the doors burn in their brain
And every stone I wind off like a reel
So fast I move defying time, the quiet gentleman
How of my clay is made the hangman's lime
Escapes to the flat cities' sails
He drowned his father’s magics in a dream
Dry as a tomb, your coloured lids
Know now the flesh's lock and vice
Or waves break loud on the seashores
Being innocent, he dreaded that he died
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away
Your sport is summer as the spring runs angrily

What I did was, I was reading Dylan Thomas poems, & I took lines from them - the first line from the first one, the second line from the second one, all the way down to the twenty-fourth line & poem.  It almost makes sense!

This I'm doing instead of packing.  Aren't I glad I gave up my radio shows?

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Putting Stuff In Boxes (An Obloquy)

This is the way my mind works: I decide to write about putting things in boxes, & suddenly I think of this word: obloquy.  What the hell?  Where did it come from?

Well, according to Etymology Online, it's from the Late Latin obloquium, meaing "speaking against, contradiction," from comes ultimately from the Latin obloqui, "to speak against, contradict."

It means verbal abuse, usually in public.  But that's not what I meant.  I was asking, "Where did it come from in my mind?"

Why would I want to hurl verbal abuse ("evil speaking") at putting stuff in boxes?  Is that even possible?  Does a task have agency?  Or would I be targeting myself, as the person who is putting things in boxes?  Is there any way to know?  Do I even care?

This post has nine questions.  Here are the answers:

1) I know!
2) Asked & answered.
3) You know a lot of words, sometimes they just pop up, unwanted.  It doesn't have to mean anything.
4) You wouldn't.
5) Probably not, unless it's in a poem or some shit.
6) Again, probably in a poem.
7) No, I think the question (such as it was) was about the act, & therefore you couldn't really be obloquious toward it.
8) Sure.
9) Not really.  But there's space to fill.

There's not going to be a countdown or anything, but we leave in about twenty days.  That's not a lot of time.  I probably should be putting things in boxes instead of talking to you.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

It's So BORING To Talk About DREAMS

Uh oh.

This is true: I dream a lot.  I always have.  Sometimes my dreams have felt more real than my life, which says nasty things about my life, not my dreams.  I had a dream I fell in love with a girl I never met in a dream in high school, & almost convinced myself she was real.  It was only when I tried to figure out how someone could appear to you in your dreams - trying to work out the mechanism - that I realized it was only a dream.  Also, she looked a lot like a girl I was crushing on in school.

There's one recurring dream - it's not that the dream is recurring - there's an element of dreams that happens or has happened enough times that it's seemingly recurring.  It's this: I dream that I have written & maybe even performed a song.

It's usually just one song.  In the dream, I'm reflecting on how hard it was & sometimes I even think I don't like the song, but I say to myself, "Hey! At least I wrote a song!"

& it's not like I just wrote the words.  Nope, in the dreams what gives me satisfaction is that I not only did that, but I wrote the music & possibly even played some of the music.

It probably wouldn't surprise you that not only could I fail to carry a tune in a bucket but also I have no natural ability when it comes to music.  I can barely grasp the basics of music theory.  Oh hell yeah I can talk for hours about lyrics in a song & I can chat about some elements of the composition but ask me what key it's in?  Forget it.

The treacherous thing about these dreams is not just that I am somehow goofily proud & even a little smug that I wrote a song, but that often - like this morning - I wake up thinking, "Yeah, I'm glad I was able to write that song that one time, & then record it."

Of course, I've never done that.  & it dawns on me as the morning wears on & I start trying to think about the song.  When did I do all that writing & music playing?  Why?  Where is the song now?  Why am I not thinking about it all the time if I'm so durned proud about it at the moment?

Oh yeah.  There's no song.

Yes, I was in a "band" in high school where I shouted improvised lyrics into a recording device.  But my friend Russ went back & added all the music touches - all the instruments, really.  The song was barely mine & I of course wasn't singing & didn't have a sense of melody or anything.  The same thing happened in my living room fifteen years ago with friends from radio where they played their guitars & I sang along with them.  But those weren't my songs.

Still, I am not angry about these dreams.  They let have a feeling of accomplishment I don't normally feel in real life.  If only I could remember as I'm waking up that there's no song, no song of mine, anywhere but my dreams.  That sleepy realization is the worst part.

Hm, this wasn't entirely about dreams.  Still, it probably was pretty boring.

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Beginning Of Six (Or So) Long Weeks

There was this book I was fascinated with when I was a kid because I like trivia, it was called the Book of Lists.  I must've thumbed through it hundreds of times.  At some point, one of my older brothers brought home - or I saw at his house - something called The Book Of Rock Lists (which existed because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery & also because The Book Of Lists was bestseller).  I was a big Beatles fan at the time & there was a whole section for the Beatles, including something I had never heard: rumors of Paul McCartney's death & replacement in the mid-1960s.  That freaked me the fuck out.

The original copy is long gone, so my memory might be faulty, but I recall a long list of how rock & rollers died.  One of those was a fellow named Johnny Ace, whose music I had never heard at the time.  He was in the list of "rock & roll suicides."  He had died on Christmas Day, 1954, backstage, while playing Russian Roulette.

Years later, when I was finally exposed to some of his songs, I remembered that entry & wondered, "If you die by Russian Roulette, is it really suicide?"  The other thought is, "How shitty is being a musician if in your down time you wile away the hours playing Russian fucking Roulette?"

It just so happens that today I was listening to some Johnny Ace & of course the story of his death popped into my mind.  I wanted to read more about him.  That Wikipedia article I linked to mentions how he died, but suggests a more sensible scenario, told by the bass played for Big Mama Thornton, his name was Curtis Tillman (Ace was touring at the time with Thornton): "I will tell you exactly what happened! Johnny Ace had been drinking & he had this little pistol he was waving around the table & someone said ‘Be careful with that thing…’ & he said ‘It’s okay! Gun’s not loaded… see?’ & pointed it at himself with a smile on his face & ‘Bang!’ — sad, sad thing. Big Mama ran out of the dressing room yelling ‘Johnny Ace just killed himself!'"

There must be a word for the satisfaction one feels when something that was unexplained but which one took to be true is cleared up.  I felt that today.  & it made it easier to enjoy the tunes I was digging.

Hey! I told you I'd write in the blog in the usual way despite the show being on hiatus!  This is the sort of shit you're going to have to get used to!  (For a while.)