Saturday, July 04, 2020

Preface To Dragons: In Days Of Old

Happy America Birthday!  As I write this, my dogs are all freaked out because it sounds like a warzone in the neighborhood.  There are many irked folks on Next Door but I remember loving fireworks when I was a kid so maybe this is for kids.  Although it's almost midnight.  I suspect it's just drunk adults.  Hope they don't blow any appendages off!

Since the show is prerecorded, & since I've already turned it in, I can tell you that I talked to my "youngest friends" Alyssa & Jason today & I asked them when their first exposure to dragons happened.  They seemed to remember (slight spoiler alert) but of course didn't give me the chance to tell them mine because I was interviewing them & not vis vossa.  Can I tell you here, though?  Since you're interviewing me right now?

The truth is, I can't remember.  I suspect I read a King Arthur type story that had a dragon, or perhaps there was a Japanese monster based on a dragon, or there was a dragon in a comic book - maybe when Superman went back in time in one of those corny 60s DC comics.  I loved them, of course.  What's not to look about dragons?

My favorite dragon however is not the trio from Game Of Thrones or Smaug from The Hobbit or any of the cool ones you might get to battle in Dungeons & Dragons.  My favorite dragon came way late in my life.  It's Jack Of Fables.*

If you don't know what Fables is, you can read the Wikipedia entry about it.  It's basically a comic book by Bill Willingham & many artists which the article summarizes thus: "The series features various characters from fairy tales & folklore – referring to themselves as 'Fables' – who formed a clandestine community centuries ago within New York City known as Fabletown, after their Homelands have been conquered by a mysterious & deadly enemy known as 'The Adversary.' It is set in the modern day & follows several of Fabletown's legal representatives, such as sheriff Bigby Wolf, deputy mayor Snow White, her sister Rose Red, Prince Charming, & Boy Blue, as they deal with troublesome Fables & try to solve conflicts in both Fabletown and 'the Farm,' a hidden town in upstate New York for Fables unable to blend in with human society. The series also deals with such other matters as the main characters' personal lives, their attempts to hide the Fables' true nature from regular humans (or 'Mundies'), &, later, the return of the Adversary."

In one of the spin-offs of the series, called Jack Of Fables, which features Jack Horner, there is an explanation of a dragon that I found fascinating.  Jack accumulates so much gold & gems & treasure that he becomes fatter & fatter, gorging on wealth.  He basically turns into a dragon.  It's the origin of both dragons & their caverns full of riches.  I thought Willingham came up with this independently, but Wikipedia tells me it's based on the Norse mythological character Fafnir.  Who was an inspiration for Smaug.  Who is the favorite dragon of many.

Also I always liked Lockheed in the X-Men comics.  I wanted a Lockheed so badly.

It's safe to say that dragons still charm me.  I hope the show is able to capture some of that.

* Here's something embarrassing.  When I save comics on my computer, I usually just put them in a folder with the title in small letters without spaces.  So there's a folder in my comics folder called "jackoffables."  I might as well have just named it "porn."

Friday, July 03, 2020

Too Far To Read That

There are windows that look out into windows, & can't see beyond that.  I myself today saw a gigantic house which had a giant garden, & within that garden, hidden from view, another garden.

There are things I want to tell you, but in-between memory & time, I find I don't have the vocabulary.  This isn't as simple as checking a thesaurus.  This is as deep as the moment after you fall asleep & the moment you begin to dream.

This is not to say that oneself is unknowable, this is simply a check on hubris.  Which is?  Is there an online definition?  What do you have to say for yourself?

"excessive pride or self-confidence"

The sort of thing that should never be rewarded.

Time is a jet plane, it moves too fast.  Most messages I mean to mention fall by the wayside.

Hey, I've been meaning to ask, are you watching "High Fidelty" on Hulu?  I read the book a long time ago but loved the movie & tonight I decided I loved the television series.  It made me wish I could be around music snobs more.  I am not around any of them these days.

What the fuck was I going on about?  I am not well-equipped for this nonsense.

But I confess I love vague poetry.  (Is that redundant?)

Children leave the porch as the light fades
But what they scribbled on the concrete
Shines throughout the night

Boom!  Make me Poet Laureate Of Something.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

July 2, 2016

This is nice.  A friend in Kentucky - who may not have known because I was keeping it under my hat that we were about to move back to Texas - was asked by me to cover a song I didn't much like for a show with the theme "take it easy."  Not only did she do it, she nailed it, & made me a fan of the song besides.  Well, a fan of her version of the song.  Here's the post from that day when I shared the song after the show aired:

When first thinking about the idea of Self Help Radio - well, what I was going to say was just not true.  I wasn't thinking much about "the idea of Self Help Radio" back in 2002 when I started this show.  I was thinking about doing a radio show again after not having a regular gig since I left KVRX in 1999, & I had to come up with a kind of gimmick to justify my existence on KOOP.  This is true - most of the things that make up the average Self Help Radio episode - with the exception of songs adhering to a theme - weren't there in the first episodes.  Maybe not in the first year!

Anyway, later on, I would ask folks who were musicians (& usually friends of mine) if they would like to contribute to the show in some way - mostly, of course, by contributing a song for a particular theme.  The big question is of course "Why?"  Why would anyone want to contribute anything to this unimportant radio show?  Luckily, some people did - for reasons I can't imagine - & just this week it happened again!

Jenny of Owlsey County recorded a lovely, slyly transformative version of a song I have issues with.  I am so very grateful she took the time to do it, & am very flattered it appeared on this week's show.  Here it is, please enjoy:

Monday, June 29, 2020

Self Help Radio 062920: Basements

(Original image here.)

Hooray!  Self Help Radio is back on Freeform at its regular time!  What a joy!

Hm, I'm trying to think if there's anything I can say about basements here that wasn't covered on the show.  Am I glad I chose not to talk about this article from 2015 which claims "Newly constructed homes in the United States are most likely to be built on a slab foundation, according to the National Association of Home Builders, but basements remain the footing of choice in colder climates"?  Yes!  Why bring fans of basements down?  The show was a celebration after all!

No, it's time to share the show on the Self Help Radio web site, happy in the knowledge we did our best, hoping the basements out there appreciate it.  I meant basement enthusiasts.  Basements aren't sentient things.  Ha ha ha who would think that.

What happened on the show is below.  Remember the username/password - SHR/selfhelp.  & enjoy your basement!

Self Help Radio Basements Show
"The Basement Blues" Noble Sissle & His Orchestra _Ken Burns Jazz: Sidney Bechet_
"Basement Session" Joe Morgan _Wackies Sampler, Vol. 2_
"Basement Blues" Nikki Sudden & The Jacobites _Texas_

introduction & definitions

"Down In The Basement" Ma Rainey & Her Georgia Band _The Rise & Fall Of Paramount Records, Vol. 1: 1917-1927_
"I Don't Wanna Go Down To The Basement" Ramones _Ramones_
"Whatever You Do, Don't Go In The Basement" Swimmer One _The Regional Variations_
"Young Miles In The Basement" Pere Ubu _The Art Of Walking_
"Uncle Henry's Basement" The Jesters _The Best Of The Jesters_

interview with basement installation artist Legend D'Oro

"Legal Tender" The B-52's _Whammy!_
"Basement Flat" McGough & McGear _McGough & McGear_
"Basement Kiss (Live)" Elvis Costello & The Attractions _The Other End Of The Telescope_
"In The Basement" The Can't Tells _No Television_
"The Basement" Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth _Mecca & The Soul Brother_

interview with the Rev Dr Howard Gently

"Secret Meeting" The National _Alligator_
"In The Basement (Part 1) (with Sugar Pie DeSanto)" Etta James _The Essential Etta James_
"Down In The Basement" King Coleman _It's Dance Time!_
"Boogin' In The Basement" Ivory Joe Hunter _The Chronological Ivory Joe Hunter 1945-1947_
"Basement Money" Mates Of State _Mountaintops_

interview with basement enthusiast Ben

"Down In The Basement Blues" Big Bill Broonzy _Do That Guitar Rag: 1928-1935_
"Basement Band Song" The Organ _Grab That Gun_
"Electra's Crying Loaded In The Basement" Revolving Paint Dream _Mother Watch Me Burn_
"The Penthouse In The Basement" My Life Story _Mornington Crescent_
"Basement" Real Estate _Reality_

conclusion & goodbye

"Basement" Deerhunter _Deerhunter_
"Back To The Basement" The Queers _Back To The Basement_
"Basements" Pipas _Sorry Love_

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Whither Basements?

(Image from the appropriately-entitled

Let me let you in on a little secret: I have only lived in one place that had a basement.  Basements are not that common in Texas, & most of my childhood & adolescence, I lived in apartments.  No, the first & only home in which I ever lived that had a basement was in Huntington, West Virginia.

It wasn't very large, & we primarily used it for storage, including overflow groceries, although going down to the basement to get more beans or whatever soon became a hassle, so we ended up just keeping extra stuff in the panty.  I remember it has an unusual smell, & was always a little chilly down there, & it flooded a couple of times, despite having what is called a "sump pump."  No one warned us about the flooding, so of course some of our things got wet.  I guess the sump pump was a bit defective.

When we moved to Kentucky, we almost rented a house with a large basement - one with a separate door, which made me nervous.  I prefer the basements that can only be accessed through the house.  & there we looked at some places here in Portland with basements, but the house we ended up buying did not have one.

Why do a show about basements?  Because I appreciate them.  How I would've loved to have had a basement in my youth!  A dark, damp place where I could read my comic books in peace & listen to David Bowie on headphones.  I would've loved a basement window where I would spy on the feet of people coming in & out of the house.  & if the basement flooded from time-to-time, well.  I probably would have my comics on high shelves, my records, too.  It would be mine, all mine.

Perhaps tomorrow's show is a radio tribute to the basement I never had.  Nonetheless, it will air from 8-10am on 90.3/98.3 fm Freeform Portland, online simultaneously at  That's right!  We're back on the schedule at our regular time!  It takes a while, it seems, to finish a basement.