Saturday, February 08, 2020

Preface To Hearts: Card Games

A long time ago, I discovered some folks at my work had a regular card game.  Poker, it was, not Hearts, which is the card game referenced in the title, & which I once knew how to play but don't now, & which will not at all be the subject of any of the songs on this week's show, which is a Valentine's Day show, so the songs will be about the sort of hearts which one thinks of when one thinks of love & Valentine's Day, & probably there'll be some discussion about anatomical hearts, but we all know don't we that the heart is no more the seat of emotions than the liver is the seat of the soul, which as far as I know no one ever believed but which seemed like the right thing to say at the time, where was I? oh yeah, they played Poker not Hearts.

These weren't my friends but I was friendly with them & I wondered why I wasn't invited to their weekly poker game.  Indeed, even if it were small stakes, it seems like it would be fun to hang out with people - some of whom, come to think of it, I used to bowl with - & play cards & have male friends in my 40s.  When I asked, I didn't get a satisfying answer.  In fact, I don't remember the answer I got, but the answer basically said, "You can't play poker with us."

The person who rejected me - a co-worker - he didn't consult any of his poker buddies, but perhaps it was his game at his house.  He lived nearby at the time - walking distance, even on miserably hot Texas days.  Or nights.  But he unilaterally decided that I was not to be one of the poker people.

Interestingly, this guy had the habit of telling me, not all the time, but enough of a time that I noticed, stories from his poker games when we ran into each other at work.  "You'll never guess what happened last night at poker," he'd say.  Or: "Let me tell you this funny thing one of the guys told me on Poker Night."  He didn't seem to remember that I had hinted at one time that I might enjoy playing poker with the guys & he said no.  Or maybe he did remember, & he was just being a dick.

It didn't mean that much to me, not getting invited to play.  I had been excluded from things by people my entire life.  One gets used to such things.  He told me that it was a rule that one person picked all the music for one night, & one of the guys always played stuff everyone hated.  That would have been too much pressure for me.  The deejay in me would hope everyone was digging what I played.

Anyway, I thought about Poker when I thought about Hearts & I had hoped as I wrote this to come up with a clever ending which said something about "breaking Hearts" or "lonely Hearts" - oh I know!  I could have said, "I never did get to play Poker with those guys, so I spent many hours in my darkened room playing lonely Hearts."

Not bad.  I wish I had thought of it before I got to the end, though.  It remains just an idea that never saw proper exploration.

Friday, February 07, 2020

If I Might Complain A Little

Gripe, grumble, lament, moan.

Please don't ever let me explore a theme that has the possibility of having more than ten hours worth of songs.  I swear to Ra & Set & of course Isis that I have listened to a day's worth of songs about hearts & I am nowhere near finished.  At some point I am going to just stop & that'll be the show.

People often ask me if I've done a show about "cars" or some other very general theme.  There's simply no way to find the best two hours of music for something that could be an entire radio show.  Seriously, you could do a radio show called "Car Songs" & go years without repeating yourself.

The same is true about hearts.  I've eliminated heartbeats, heartbreak, & heartaches & still I have three days' worth of songs to go.  Please don't let me do this again.  Make me stick to more specific themes where I struggle to find two hours' worth of music.  Otherwise you'll get more of this:

Gripe, grumble, lament, moan.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Random Elevator Story

How long has it been since I've been on an elevator?  Is it weird to think there are elevators I've been on that don't exist any more?  But there are!  Here's a random story about one of them.

From sometime in 1988 until the building was renovated in the early 21st century, I worked in a building on the University Of Texas campus called Batts Hall.  It was built in the early 50s, & I assume the elevator dated from around that time - it certainly seemed to need to be serviced a lot, & sometimes I felt a little unsafe in it.

But almost every weekday morning for almost a decade I got in that elevator around 7:45am, rode up to the second floor, opened the lab I ran (it began as a language lab then ended a computer lab).  Some mornings - lots of mornings - I would have to go back downstairs for a meeting.  (Sometimes I did take the stairs, especially if I were late.)

Some mornings - not every morning - not even once a week - someone would have written, in precise penmanship, using a sharpie perhaps, the phrase "Jesus was gay" on the inside door of the elevator car.  "Jesus" was often not capitalized - "jesus was gay."  The first time I saw it - at 7:45 in the morning! - I chuckled & wondered who the fuck was up so early to write in the elevator?  Then I worried someone would think it was me when I got off the elevator!

Classes began at 8, & students are naturally late for 8am classes, so I was usually on the elevator alone, but I'm sure there were people up & down to all three floors of Batts after I was in my lab.  My meetings were often around 8:30, so I'd go back down - I'd try to use the elevator if I had seen the scribbled phrase - & inevitably, "jesus was gay" was violently scratched out, sometimes in marker, sometimes in pen, sometimes with so much pressure it fucked up the paint on the door.

Personally I don't believe in anything supernatural & I don't worship the people I admire, so anyone is allowed to think whatever they want about them.  It doesn't matter to me if you think Leonard Cohen is an asshole, & if you want to write it on the walls of a tiny elevator car, be my guest.  I'll think it's weird, but I suspect anyone who knows Leonard Cohen will know it's false, & anyone who doesn't know who Leonard Cohen is will likely think it's about some undergrad who's pissed off a girlfriend or something.

& yeah, I know, Jesus is a religious figure, who some think is the son of a god or a god himself or one-third of a god-thing, or all of the above, so it seems disrespectful.  So what?  If even some of the stories about him in the gospels are true, he endured way more opprobrium than an early morning graffito in an unsafe elevator in a college building.  What would he think of the anger & hate demonstrated by the person doing more damage to the paint than the simple sharpie?  It's hard not to marvel at the intense insecurity of the person who came to his god's "defense."

By lunchtime, someone had been dispatched to repaint, or clean off the sharpie, & I'm sure it was all forgotten - until a few days or weeks later when it happened again.

When did it start?  I began running the lab in 1994, & I saw it for the first time in the Fall of that year.  When did it end?  The whole building was gutted & remodeled - although I think they saved the elevator shaft though not the elevator - sometime in 2003 or 2004.  I had stopped running the lab in 1999, so the last I would have seen it was spring of that year.  (I worked on the ground floor then.  Not much need to go upstairs.)  I can't recall if I did - but I remember seeing it a lot.

Oh my gosh I want so badly to end this with the confession "It was me all along!"  But it wasn't.  I suspect it was someone who worked somewhere else in the building - the Spanish & Portuguese Department was on the second floor, where my lab was, so perhaps it was a disgruntled employee.  Maybe a grad student?  I never knew.  There were simply too many people in & out of the elevator for me to keep an eye on any "regular."

But perhaps that prankster made it a point to check up on his or her handiwork.  Maybe they even took pictures.  I have no idea why they would want to do such a thing, but I saw the whole chain of events happen more than a dozen times.  & there were days I never had to go back downstairs, or arrived late, or took the stairs.  I suspect if it were a scientific experiment, the results were the same every time.

How weird would it be if the person who did it found this blog post & wrote to me?  A twenty-year-old secret revealed at last?  Too bad I & this blog are hopelessly obscure.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Self Help Radio 020320: Moths

(Original image here.)

First things first: my apologies to Freeform Portland.  Moths are by their nature gregarious creatures & when they heard there would be a radio show about them, well, some of them emerged from their cocoons early to swing by this morning.  & they partied.  Hard.  Some even stayed up past their lifespans.  It was a fluttery, dusty good time.

Because the show this week was about moths, those delightful Lepidopterans who are always second fiddle to the more glamorous butterflies.  Not today!  Moths were the stars of the show, & they partied from six to eight in the morning in a way someone not battling crippling alcohol addiction ever has.  I can't tell you the number of feelers I had to push away because, you know, I'm a happily married man.

Alas, much of the festivities were not captured on the radio, since the show is mainly music.  But you can perhaps hear a commotion in the background during airbreaks & at least one time a moth did a credible imitation of the deejay that follows Self Help Radio, Jaxxmaster Kevrock.  I honestly thought it was him!  Moths are so great.

Listen to the show now at Self Help Radio dot net.  Please remember username password combo SHR selfhelp.  What happened on the show is listed below.  What happened at the show stays at the show.  You hear me, moths?  You hear me?

Self Help Radio Moths Show

"Moth" Underbirds _Underbirds_
"Mr. Moth" Cathy Young _A Spoonful Of Cathy Young_
"A Moth Is Not A Butterfly" Hawksley Workman _Treeful Of Starling_


"The Moth (feat. Lily James)" PJ Harvey _All About Eve (Original Music)_
"Moth" Lala Lala _The Lamb_
"Moth" Ken Nordine _Wink: Ken Nordine Does Robert Shure_
"Moth" Visitors _Kilt By Death: The Sound Of Old Scotland (1977-1984)_
"Moth" Blue Orchids _A View From The City 1980-1991_

frequently asked questions about moths!

"Melonella" Cocteau Twins _Echoes In A Shallow Bay_
"Bee Of The Bird Of The Moth" They Might Be Giants _The Else_
"Gypsy Moth" Hoyt Axton _The A&M Years_
"Lepidoptera" Bedhead _Transaction De Novo_
"The Love Moth" Liv Maessen _The Best Of Liv Maessen_

interview with "the moth man of topeka" Arnie Worrell

"Moth" Martin Simpson _The Collection_
"The Moth" Aimee Mann _Lost In Space_
"Dead Moth" Ann Magnuson _The Luv Show_
"Moth Song" Esmé Patterson _We Were Wild_

interview with schoolchildren studying moths

"Mothloop (Live)" Shriekback _Oil & Gold_
"Moths" 14 Iced Bears _Let The Breeze Open Our Hearts_
"90 Day Of Moths & Rust" Sugargliders _Top 40 Sculpture_
"Summertime" Bill Hicks _Flying Saucer Tour, Vol. 1_
"See The Leaves" The Flaming Lips _Embryonic_

 interview with Duke Simpson, trendsetter

"Mothlight" The Terminals _In Love With These Times: A Flying Nun Compilation_
"Moth To A Flame" Ooberman _Tears From A Willow_
"I Feel Like Moth" Godzuki _Your Future_
"I See A Moth" The Garden _The Life & Times Of A Paperclip_
"Moth Like Me" Guerilla Toss _What Would The Odd Do?_

conclusion & goodbyes

"Moth Light" Mercury Rev _The Light In You_
"Like A Moth" Yuck _Stranger Things_

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Whither Moths?

(An infestation! From here.)

The truth is, I first thought about doing a show about moths ten years ago, sometime in 2010.  I had been obsessed with the song "Melonella" by the Cocteau Twins, which just features Liz Fraser singing the Latin names in the Lepidoptera family, which includes butterflies & moths.  Since the name of the song is the scientific name for the wax moth, I figured I'd focus on moths instead of butterflies.  I had a sense that butterfly songs would be easier to find.  & I was right!

There hasn't been a Self Help Radio show about butterflies yet, but the moth show is happening, & I am not surprised to note that I have ten or so songs that have been released since 2010 in my folder of possible songs to play.  That's ten songs less than I would have had in 2010.  It only goes to show.  Sometimes the caterpillar of a show needs to crawl into its cocoon before it's ready to emerge.  As the moth show will do tomorrow morning.

Yes, Monday morning, 6-8 am, 90.3+98.3fm, Freeform Portland,  There'll be a lot of fluttering, & maybe not as much beauty, & possibly much more damage to clothes & crops, but we'll celebrate the little buggers as best we can.  The show will have a two hour lifespan!