Saturday, September 10, 2022

Smoky 2020

In Portland two years ago today, smoke from nearby wildfires turned the skies orange.  That's a picture of the sun up there.  Being outside was like standing right next to a barbecue pit with all the smoke coming at you.  It was so unpleasant & if I recall we were trapped in the house for three days - maybe more.  We'd take the dogs out - they'd act as though it wasn't a big deal - but I couldn't be outside for very long.  When we decided to go somewhere to get food, we didn't last three blocks.

This morning I woke to a somewhat yellowish sky.  I had heard that in addition to it being quite warm - in the mid-90s - there would be smoke from nearby wildfires.  Indeed, a neighbor told me her parents in Salem had been evacuated. According to this website ("Current Wildfire Situation"), the nearest fires to me are at Hagg Lake to the west & Vitae Springs (the one threatening Salem) to the south.  It doesn't appear that they will come close to Portland, but they can apparently make the skies yellowish & smokey.

There was a gathering for a neighbor who's moving, it happened in someone's backyard a few days ago, & I innocently asked if 2020 was a fluke or if it happens regularly, if it takes a year off, why we hadn't had the same experience in a couple of years - & this morning happened.  I should learn to keep my big mouth shut.

Friday, September 09, 2022


(image from here)

The image above is from Tumblr, where many blogs are looking forward to Halloween, but when I saw it today, I thought it was a image of death reminding me that life's short.  Because it is.

When have a neighbor who's in his late eighties.  We met because he & his wife have a corner house & they were always working on their property, planting flowers, weeding, etc., when we talked by on dog walks.  They'd say hello & our dogs would be happy to see them.  The husband in particular loved our pups.

Until a month ago, he was a double cancer survivor.  He successfully beat prostate cancer at some point in the past, & recently finished chemo for a mass they discovered, which shrunk after weeks of treatment.  I guess it's been maybe three weeks since he complained of pain, was taken to the hospital, & it was discovered he had more cancer elsewhere - & he was too weak to get treated for this one.

When I go by the house now - we stop to see his wife, who updates us on his condition - I think about that moment when he was taken to the hospital because he was unwell.  Did he know it was the last time he'd see his home - the place he raised his kids, where he lived longer than I've been alive?  Because from the hospital he's been taken to hospice, from where he will leave our sad world.

We visited him there yesterday.  His wife says that he doesn't say much, but he smiled a little petting the dogs, who were very kind to him.  I confess I don't think he likes me all that much, but he adores my wife & the dogs.  We plan to take the pooches to visit him again next week if we can.

My train of thought is a little trackless, I was going to say, he's not talking much, & I wonder if it's because he knows he's dying, or if it's because he is just simply in so much pain that it takes all his attention.  Or if dying takes all one's attention.  He won't - & maybe can't - say.

The thing is, I am not generally a person who dwells on death.  I plan very poorly, I have my sights mainly set on the next radio show.  But we're approaching the second anniversary of my mother's death, & we're watching in real time as a neighborhood friend prepares to go.  It's hard not to think of such things at this point in time.

Sorry this is so morbid & a bummer.  It's not anything to do with the radio show at all.  He once told me, looking at his yard, "I don't know what's going to happen to all this when I'm gone."  He never seemed to be afraid of death, he's a religious fellow, I think he finds comfort in that.  I said, "You won't have to worry about it at that point, since you won't be here."  He said, "Yeah," & looked around.

That was really the only time he & I discussed death.  It honestly didn't seem like it was coming for him any time soon.

Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Self Help Radio 090622: Excitement!

The theme of this week's show was excitement & I wondered "Is a show about excitement by definition an exciting show?"  The answer is probably no, but I was excited to think I could make an exciting show just by making it about excitement.

Not being the excitable sort, I was probably the wrong person to host a show about excitement (also I'm not all that exciting) but here it is & here we are.  In addition to songs about excitement, being excited, excitation, & exciting things, I talked to four people who were excited about specific stuff - carnivals, rescuing exotic animals, renaissance fairs, & paintball, to be exact.  & also a song about being excited was ruined live in the studio.  Now doesn't that all sound exciting?

Listen to the show on the KBOO web page.
Or listen to the show on the Self Help Radio web page.
(You'll need a username - SHR - & a password - selfhelp - but you can download the show if you want!)
Everything happened on the show - the songs & the airbreaks - are detailed below.

Are you excited?

Self Help Radio Excitement Show
"Excitement" Ivor Cutler _A Flat Man_
"Excitement" Chris Stamey _It's A Wonderful Life Containing Instant Excitement & More_
"Excitement" Admiral Tibett _Excitement_

introduction & definitions - featuring the Definition-O-Tron 3000!

"I Get So Excited" The Equals _First Among Equals: The Greatest Hits_
"I'm Not Getting Excited" The Beths _Jump Rope Gazers_
"Mr. Xcitement" They Might Be Giants _Mink Car_
"Miss The Excitement" Maria Bamford _The Burning Bridges Tour_
"So Excited" B.B. King _Completely Well_

interview with Trevor Jarvis - who's excited by carnivals

"Sad, Free, Excited, & Empty" The Hepburns _How The Fallen Are Mighty_
"So Excited" Cola _Deep In View_
"Something Exciting" Patsy _In A Briefcase_
"Get Excited!" Pizza! _We Come From The Swamp (Tenth Anniversary Edition)_
"So Exciting" Quando Quango _Pigs + Battleships_

interview with Charlotte Twill - who's excited by rescuing exotic animals

"The Exciting Life" Julie London _London By Night_
"Too Excited" Tilly & The Wall _O_
"So Excited" Ranking Roger _Radical Departure_
"Excitable Boy" Warren Zevon _Excitable Boy_
"Don't Get Excited" Bottom & Co. _Rock Bottom_

interview with Sir Ossus Of The River - who's excited by renaissance fairs

"You Excite Me, Baby" Big Charles Green _Wild Life (& All About Love)_
"I'm So Excited" John Lee Hooker _I'm John Lee Hooker_
"Wild & Exciting" Earth & Fire _Earth & Fire_
"Don't Get Excited" Graham Parker _Squeezing Out Sparks_
"Excited (feat. Anita Lane & Kid Congo Powers)" Die Haut _Head On_

interview with Serena Williams (no relation) - who's excited by paintball

"Five Get Over Excited" The Housemartins _The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death_
"Excitement" Hard-Fi _Killer Sounds_
"I Get Excited" Mija _Desert Trash_
"Excited Ones" Guided By Voices _Crystal Nuns Cathedral_
"I Get So Excited" Ian Hunter _Ian Hunter_

Ned Dry & Captain McCheese ruin the Pointer Sisters' "I'm So Excited"

"It's So Exciting" The Exciters _The Leiber & Stoller Story, Volume 3: Shake 'Em Up & Let 'Em Roll - 1962-1969_
"The Exciter" The Reputations _Electric Power_
"I Get Excited" David Ruffin _So Soon We Change_
"Exciting" Marc Sadane _Exciting_
"Excited" The Meditations _Ghetto Knowledge_

conclusion & goodbye

"What's The Most Exciting Thing" Moondog _Moondog 2_
"Excitation" The Rear Exit _Crystalize Your Mind_
"So Excited" The Incredible Kidda Band _Too Much, Too Little, Too Late!_
"Excitement = Change" I'm So Hollow _Emotion / Sound / Motion_
"Nullerregung" Schwarze Bewegung _Schwarze Bewegung_
"Excitement" The Production Club _Excitement_
"Exciting Cut" Illicit Experiment _Early Works_

Monday, September 05, 2022

Whither Excitement?

(big promises)

Is it possible that an almost terminally-unexciting program like Self Help Radio could take the theme of excitement & make itself exciting?  Is it?

Or is it more likely that Self Help Radio might pick excitement as a theme but in the show's mostly unexciting way explore it in such a manner than it sucks all the excitement out of excitement?  Is it?

This reminds me of the days before consent when I, as a careful young lad, would ask a girl, before I kissed her, if it were all right if I kissed her.  I didn't collect data at the time, but it seemed like about every other answer wasn't quite "no" but was something like "ugh I can't believe you asked it takes all the romance out of it!"

Luckily that's not a problem anymore for the unexciting young Garys out there but perhaps there remains a group of people who dislike those of us who enjoy taking things apart to see how they work - even when we know we can't put them together again.  & perhaps that's what Self Help Radio's show about excitement will be.

But does that sound exciting?

Please listen & find out tonight on KBOO - that's 90.7fm in Portland & online everywhere at  It's happening from midnight to 3am.  If it turns out to be three hours of excitement, then, I'm sure you'll be glad you tuned in!

Sunday, September 04, 2022

Preface To Excitement: Outside Of My Comfort Zone

(Absolutely terrifying. It's from here.)

One thing is true: I'm not a very exciting person.  This is not meant to be self-deprecating.  It's just a fact.  I'm not high energy.  I am not the person you invite out to get the crowd amped.

Have I ever mentioned this story before?  It was a weird experience.  I got a call one day when I was doing my radio show in Huntington.  I don't know if I had ever gotten a call during my time there before.  It was a woman who was asking if I ever did live events.  Specifically, she wanted me to emcee a community event.  I don't know now if she was calling me specifically, or the radio station in general, but she appeared to have heard my show before, & she told me she liked it in the follow-up call.

The day of the event - which was in my neighborhood, so my wife & I walked over - I had a hard time finding the contact person, & also didn't quite know what my role was.  What I eventually discovered was that I would be introducing some acts for a talent show & reading information for when things like the raffle were happening.

What she didn't tell me is that I'd have a partner, a fellow who introduced himself as a poet, who was very thin & excitable, & who was really looking forward to reciting his poetry onstage.  I didn't really have an opinion about how we should do stuff, so he went out first, bounding out & getting the attention of the milling crowd.  He was the very picture of the emcee, asking for applause, & saying things like, "Do you want to hear one of my poems?"

They did.  & they loved that his poems were about Jesus.

In fact, much of the performances seemed of a religious nature.  Choirs of children sang Christian songs, dancers danced to Christian pop, & there were a couple of people - including my co-emcee - who really wanted everyone to know about their god & how this god worked in their lives & how this god had helped them.

When I went out, I read what was given to me & said a couple of things about the radio station I was at.

At some point - very early on - I realized I was redundant.  The organization was a mess & the few acts spaced out unevenly so my co-emcee took that opportunity to recite (or probably make up) poems & testify about his religious conversion.  I guess that's called witnessing.  He had done lots of drugs.  He had not been a good person.  But now he had Jesus & also poems!

Please don't get the impression there was much of a crowd - I doubt more than a hundred people attended the event, there were other things happening, including some indoors at a community center, & in general the people at the makeshift stage only came to see their children/friends/family perform & then left.  But my co-emcee enjoyed performing, & I didn't, & I figured I'd head home.

One of the reasons I did this is because my wife had walked me there, then walked down to her office at the university, & had returned.  When there was another act on stage, my co-emcee came down & my wife told him how great he was.  She said, "You're certainly doing better than Gary!"

He looked at me like I should be wounded that my wife would say such a thing.  I said, "No, she's right."  Then I asked, "Is it cool if I take off?"

This may have happened fourteen years ago, but if anything I am less inclined to be energetic or exciting in public.  Therefore a show about excitement is, as it says above, way outside my comfort zone.  Then why do it?  Maybe I'll answer tomorrow.