Saturday, March 13, 2021

Nest Builder

This picture was taken (by me) four years ago today.  I called it "nest builder."  It was spring in Fort Worth, & the birds were out.  I am not very good at the nature photography, but I managed to snap this mockingbird on its way to its nest, which was in a tree in the backyard next to mine.

At least I think it's a mockingbird.  It is, isn't it?  I'm not an ornithologist.  Nor am I terribly proficient at bird names.  Anyway.  It's something I know I did exactly four years ago.  & I can barely remember what I did yesterday.

Friday, March 12, 2021

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today was the last time I was in a radio studio broadcasting live.  I've done both live & recorded shows since then, but all from my home.  I did an episode of The Dickenbock Report on the morning of Thursday, March 12, 2020.  This is what the studio looked like, basically:

That picture was taken in 2019, but I'm sure it looks pretty much as it did that morning.  I miss it more than I can say.

For the first few months of the pandemic I was so angry.  I would get furious when people wore their masks wrong, I would seethe at stories of patrons at places refusing to wear a mask, & of course I was livid at the government for doing fuck-all to stop the spread of the disease.  & it didn't take Sigmund Freud to figure out that I was angry at all that because it was keeping my from radio.  It's my favorite thing, it's the thing I love doing best, even if I'm honestly not that good at it.

Here's hoping we're back there soon.  How lonesome it looks up there!

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Self Help Radio 030921: Victory!

(Original image here.*)

At long last, a victory for Self Help Radio!  Oh, it may be a temporary victory - or more likely a Pyrrhic victory - but after the year we've had, this show will take what it can get.

Yes, this week Self Help Radio - almost certainly the losingest show in the history of radio - celebrated victory after victory.  It may have seemed hard-fought, but really it was just a bunch of songs.  & also a couple of interviews.  & also way too much silliness.

Listen if you need a little victory in your life at the show's website.  Remember that you'll need a username & a password to listen.  All the stuff that happened on the show is below.

Congrats on your victory!

Self Help Radio Victory Show
"Victory" Curtis Mayfield _Heartbeat_
"Victory" PJ Harvey _Dry_
"Victory" The Walkmen _Lisbon_

introduction & definitions

"Paths Of Victory" Odetta _Odetta Sings Dylan_
"Sweeter The Victory" Gregory Isaacs _In Person_
"Till Victory" Patti Smith Group _Easter_
"Just One Victory" Todd Rundgren _A Wizard, A True Star_
"A Relatively Famous Victory" Ballboy _I Worked On The Ships_

interview with the Rev Dr Howard Gently (part one)

"Forces Of Viktry" Linton Kwesi Johnson _Forces Of Victory_
"Sansa (Victory Song)" Yma Sumac _Legend Of The Jivaro_
"Victory" News From Babel _Sirens & Silences/Work Resumed On The Tower_
"There's No Such Thing As Victory" Felt _The Final Resting Of The Ark_
"Another Victory" Big Daddy Kane _It's A Big Daddy Thing_

interview with the Rev Dr Howard Gently (part two)

"Celebrate Your Victory" The Shirelles _Lost & Found (Rare & Previously Unissued)_
"The Last Performance Of The Royal Regimental Very Victorious & Valiant Band" The Syn _Original Syn (1967-69)_
"Haggling Victory" Adam Newman _Not For Horses_
"Victory Horns" Strange Parcels & Jesse Rae _Pay It All Back (Volume 4)_
"Victory (Remix)" Caveman _Positive Reaction_

interview with writer Victoria Verbena

"Victory" Three Finger Cowboy _Kissed_
"Victory Lane" Komeda _KoKoMeMeDaDa_
"Victory Rally" Pat Paulsen _Pat Paulsen For President_
"Victory Is Mine" Sounds Of Blackness _The Apostle (Music From & Inspired By The Motion Picture)_
"Road To Victory (feat. Hugh Augustine & Alex Nester)" The Urban Renewal Project _21st Century Ghost_

interview with spelling bee victor Andy Nominous nope!

"Rare Victory" The Go-Betweens _G Stands For Go-Betweens: The Go-Betweens Anthology, Vol. 1_
"Little Victories" Oh, Atoms _You Can't See The Stars From Here_
"Victory Walk" The Boy Bathing _A Fire To Make Preparations_
"Victory Is Coming" Joseph Spence & The Pinder Family _The Spring Of Sixty-Five_
"Chant Jah Victory" Errol Alphonso _Yabby You: Jesus Dread 1972-1977 Volume Two_
"Victory Is Near" Judy Mowatt _Rock Me_

a discussion of idioms using "victory"

"What Price Victory?" The Outcasts _Acid Visions: The Complete Collection, Vol. 2_
"You're The Victor" Q65 _Revolution_
"Victory!" Jay & The Techniques _Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie_
"The Lost Victory" Lilys _The 3 Way_
"Savage Victory" Thee Oh Sees _Drop_
"A Vain Victory" Kissing Party _Looking Back It Was Romantic But At The Time I Was Suffocating_

conclusion & goodbye

"Victory (with Uhuru-Yenzu)" Ebo Taylor _Life Stories (Highlife & Afrobeat Classics 1973-1980)_
"Set The Tone/Victory" Bernie Worrell _Pieces Of Woo: The Other Side_
"A Victory Dance" Julian Cope _Self Civil War_

* "Peace, Victory, Two Fingers - featuring the hand of the originator of the Sustainability Symbol (3 fingers) - Philip McMaster" by Philip McMaster PeacePlusOne_\!/ is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Monday, March 08, 2021

Whither Victory?

(image from here)

According to this site, there is a difference between a "victory" & a "win" is this:

"Victory" means that you have been victorious or you have gained in some form of direct competition, as could be a battle. In the beginning this term was only used in the context of wars & battles (now its use is more common & generalized).

"Winning" is can have a more subjective character. To succeed, it does not necessarily require that an opponent be defeated; since the win depends on what is what the person considers success, & success is something quite subjective; everyone has a particular idea about what it is.

One can win by overcoming a fear, being the best in a competition, setting up the business you have always dreamed of, getting the desired job, etc.  But a victory requires one to act directly with regard to the matter you occupy. A win can be achieved by indirect means.

In my opinion, a victory is more impressive than a win.  To win a battle may be a good thing, but to achieve victory in a battle is the stuff of history books.  I mean, they didn't have "WE Day" or "WJ Day" at the end of World War II, did they?  Nope, we didn't just win in Europe & in Japan - we had victory in Europe & in Japan.

Plus, "win" can be both a noun & a verb.  "Victory" can only be a noun.  Also, Self Help Radio has already explored the theme of "winning," almost ten years ago.  I think it was during the dramatic drug-fueled downfall of Charlie Sheen, but no one remembers that guy, not even me.

If you need some victory in your life - some victories - listen to Self Help Radio tonight on 90.7 fm KBOO Portland, online at, from midnight to 3am.  Three hours of victory.  You will emerge victorious!

Sunday, March 07, 2021

Preface To Victory: A Lifetime Of Losing

On a dogwalk today I talked to the wife about how my family's insane competitive spirit basically cured me of finding any joy or really anything good in winning, in wanting to win, in competing at all.

My mother, who believed that boys were basically stupid creatures driven by the most base instincts, & who also believed women were superior but flawed because they couldn't get along (or outright despised one another), & who therefore believed women let boys ostensibly run the world because it kept them busy & let women have time to themselves, she favored her sons over her daughters.  She thought her daughters were inherently better & would get by with a minimal amount of attention.  Her sons, however, were weak, inept creatures who need constant attention, much of which (in her mind) was keeping them away from danger.  She made me & my four brothers into consummate cowards by teaching us to fear & avoid conflict.  But!

She also wanted us to believe we were special.  She found a way to make each of us believe that we were her favorite - & not only that, that were somehow better than the others.  I can't say any of this was a conscious decision - my own sense is that she learned almost all of this from her mother - but what ended up happening was that my brothers & I began to see ourselves as rivals for her attention & affection.  For my mother, having five boys fighting over her must have been quite a thrill.  For us, it absolutely destroyed any brotherly feelings we might have for one another - after all, who feels sympathy, empathy, or affection for his antagonist?

For a kid growing up in this milieu - I was the fourth of five children, & my oldest brother was nearly eighteen years older than I was - it led to things I found quite baffling.  I remember playing tennis with my brother Steve, who is eleven years older than I am, when I was just a kid.  I was either in the last years of elementary school or the first years of middle school - let's just say I was eleven.  That meant he was twenty-two.  He was a grown man, naturally better at any sport than I was, & yet he absolutely destroyed me on the tennis court.  His taunting & his aggressive playing reduced me to tears.  He was however full of joy & triumph.  An outsider might judge it one of the happiest moments of his life.

The idea of simply batting a tennis ball around with his much younger brother would never have occurred to him.

Here's another example, with my little brother, who is a year younger than I am.  We lived in apartments & at one point, he & I were the oldest children there.  One autumn afternoon found us playing a game of football on the lawn of a nearby church.  I was probably 13, my brother Chris was 12.  Most of the other kids were 10 or younger.  I wasn't in any way athletic (I never have been) but I was bigger than Chris & able to tackle him.  He found this intolerable, & got the kids to complain I was "too big" to play.  That it was "unfair."  They basically refused to play unless I quit.  As I walked away in a huff, I noticed my brother was now unstoppable, & he ran circles around the other kids.

In both these cases, it's important to note it wasn't a simple game being played; it was a contest, one in which the victor had to be the kind of superior being my mother told us we were.  Cheating & humiliation were never off the table, because winning was everything.

Of course my brothers would disagree completely with this.  But I would point out that most of them never really achieved any real status or lofty goals in life, with the possible exception of reproducing, & their children seem to be fond of them.  But for people who have toiled their entire lives in mostly low-paying jobs, with broken relationships & marriages, with all of them having to return home to live with my mother when life laid them low - they have extraordinary self-esteem.  It's almost supernatural.

It probably seems self-serving to say that somehow I broke the spell.  It was a gradual process, & it involved many experiences, including terrible encounters with competition in school which I found just painful.  Perhaps because I did have outside validation, aside from my mother - I did very well, grade-wise, & my brothers did not (two of them dropped out) - I could look into my family situation from a unique perspective.  But I would recognize in the greedy, desperate way people wanted to win in school functions - from spelling bees to a college-bowl-like group I was in in high school - the same demeanor I saw in my brothers.  & I didn't like it & I want any of that.

Honestly, I don't like the person it turns me into.  Because I know that feeling's in me.

To bring this back to my wife: we used to have friends over for game night.  I found it nice to have people over but my wife was a terrible loser & an even worse winner.  She claims much of it was bravado, & maybe it was, but it reminded me too much of my childhood.  I don't do game night or play games like that anymore.  The few online games I played, I refuse to play with other people, preferring to play the game's AI.  It is a wound my mother left me that just doesn't heal.

So in some ways for me to do a radio show about victory, which is this week's theme, is silly - I don't have any interest in victory.  To my brothers, I am the consummate loser - & certainly luckier than most losers they've known.  Which makes what I've lived a lifetime of losing.  & I have no problem whatsoever with that.