Friday, March 08, 2024

Self Help Radio 030724: The Alphabet

You have before you a radio show about the alphabet. It's the Latin alphabet. With a very short interlude into Hebrew. Very short. Mostly the Latin alphabet as is used by English speakers. Also people who sing in English. Mostly in forward order, but in a couple of cases, backwards. For novelty, probably, & not to prove to law enforcement you're not intoxicated. Is knowledge of the alphabet required for the enjoyment of this show? Probably not, unless you are suspicious that a show about the alphabet might want to spread an incorrect alphabet. In which case, you will want to know the alphabet. Will a radio show about the alphabet actually teach you the alphabet? Almost certainly only by accident.

Alphabet songs, interviews, the usual Self Help Radio nonsense. You can find it on the Self Help Radio website. The username/password combination SHR/selfhelp will facilitate your listening experience. The things that were played & said on the show are listed below.

But not alphabetically!

Self Help Radio Alphabet Show
"Alphabent" Twink _The Broken Record_
"(You Can Bet) I Know My Alphabet" Hot Chocolate Music Company, Ltd. _Wammy! There Goes Sammy_
"A.B.C's (Parts 1 & 2)" Smilin' Joe _Crescent City Soul: The Sound Of New Orleans 1947-1974_

introduction & definitions

"Alphabet" Martin Creed _Love To You_
"Mr. Alphabet Says" The Glove _Blue Sunshine_
"A Concise British Alphabet, Pts. 1 & 2" Soft Machine _Volume Two_
"Alphabet Rap" Divine _Jungle Jezebel_

interview with author Hector Teller

"A Is For Alphabet" Razorcuts _Patterns On The Water (A Retrospective)_
"The Rabbi Teaches ABCs/English ABC Song" Ella Jenkins _123s & ABCs_
"Roosevelt Franklin's Alphabet" Matt Robinson & Rosalind Cash _My Name Is Roosevelt Franklin_
"A B & C" Death By Chocolate _Death By Chocolate_

interview with artist Hugh Toth

"Red Alphabet" The Gotobeds _Blood // Sugar // Secs // Traffic_
"Alphabet" Jeffrey Lewis _It's The Ones Who've Cracked That The Light Shines Through_
"Numbers & Alphabets" Ella Jenkins _123s & ABCs_
"Waste The Alphabet" Dick Diver _Melbourne, Florida_
"Alphabet Aerobics" Blackalicious _A2G EP_

interview with children's book author Harry Taylor

"Alphabetland" X _Alphabetland_
"Alphabet Street" The Jesus & Mary Chain _The Power Of Negative Thinking: B-Sides & Rarities_
"Prince Alphabet" Robert Pollard _Superman Was A Rocker_
"Dr. Seuss's ABC" Jason Alexander _Green Eggs & Ham & Other Servings Of Dr. Seuss_

our resident cinephile Chuck stops by!

"'A' You're Adorable (The Alphabet Song)" Gordon MacRae & Jo Stafford _Small Fry: Capitol Sings Kids' Songs For Grown-Ups_
"The ABC's Of Love" Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers _The Very Best Of Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers_
"ABC" The Pipettes _We Are The Pipettes_
"Easy As ABC" Ella Jenkins _123s & ABCs_
"New Alphabet" Eels _Wonderful, Glorious_

conclusion & goodbye

"Sittin' Alphabetic'ly" Karl Hammel Jr. _Teenage Crush Volume 5_
"The Backwards Alphabet" Soupy Sales _Use Your Noggin'_
"A.B.C." Rick & Donna _What Good Is Love_
"ABC (Freeform)" Eurythmics _Touch_
"Alphabet Angel" David Sylvian _Dead Bees On A Cake_

Thursday, March 07, 2024

Whither The Alphabet?

(image by Matt Baker at

Here's a funny thing. I was absolutely convinced that the idea for a radio show about the alphabet had to do with a song I'm going to play today which came from a record from which I played another song recently. But then I checked & discovered that I played that song just two weeks ago. I've planned the alphabet show for a lot longer than that. It was on my website a month ago, for example. So now I have no idea what the inspiration was for this show. But I will say it was fun finding songs about the alphabet. I wonder if other languages - & other alphabets! - have as many songs about their alphabets. Maybe so! I just searched around & found this Sanskrit alphabet song. Maybe I can do a sequel to this show one day & explore different alphabets.

Mainly though I'm sticking with the one we use now - the one that we sing the song to memorize as kids. The one on the bottom line of the image above.

That show happens today oh dear! From noon to 2pm on Freeform Portland, which is on the air in Portland at 90.3+98.3fm & online at Freeform Portland dot org. I hope you'll give it a letter grade. May I suggest an X?

Wednesday, March 06, 2024

Preface To The Alphabet: Just Letters

(image from here)

This is something I've always asserted but I don't think I've ever actually researched. Or maybe I heard about it once & it just sounded correct so I accepted it. Anyway, it's this:

The reason many of us don't remember our earliest experiences is because, once we learn to read, we use words to tell the stories of the things we remember. So without words we don't remember the times before we learned to read.

My family insisted I learned to read when I was around four but I don't think I have a lot of memories from around that time. Maybe my earliest memory is when I was five & I slept in one Christmas morning (our family celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve so I doubtless stayed up late) & I woke to find all the kids in our apartment complex done playing & ready for lunch. I think I had gotten what I believe were called Big Wheels for Christmas & I rode it miserably around the complex alone, since everyone else was tired from doing that all morning.

One thing I do know is that once I learned to read I liked to read everything. I would read weird lurid thrillers that my brothers liked - from series like The Executioner. I would read bits & pieces of the newspaper but liked the comics page best. & I loved comic books.

So maybe it's just me. Maybe letters took over my life so completely I can't really remember my life without words. Or maybe none of this is remotely true & I've never really explored how memory works at all.

Tuesday, March 05, 2024

A Story About Sleep Problems

(Ooo, gabapentin. Image from here.)

For as long as I can remember, I've had a bit of a hard time getting to sleep. Even when I abstain from screens or caffeine or any stimulants - even when I spend an hour reading a book before bed - I will lie awake for some time before I fall asleep.

Listen: I knew a woman who told me she dated a guy who would say, "I'm going to sleep," & then fall asleep. She told me the story to indicate some issues she had with him. I was utterly envious. This was someone I knew over twenty years ago. Which suggests that my problems with going to sleep date from way back.

But then something happened. Around a year ago - in December of 2022 - I had a dental issue. It was very, very painful. Because my dental insurance was with a MegaCorporation, there wasn't a great deal of empathy with the pain. An appointment was scheduled to deal with the issue, but there was a fortnight between then & now & I didn't have a way to deal with the pain. My wife had a solution, I consulted with my doctor, & what happened was that I was prescribed gabapentin along with a regimen of ibuprofen. It was a very peculiar experience - I could feel that there was a throbbing in my mouth that indicated pain, that the medication kept at bay.

One unusual aspect of this experience was that, when it was time to go to bed, I could - magically, novelly, unbelievably - close my eyes & just fall asleep. No ruminating, no intrusive thoughts, no haunting memories. I assumed this was because of the gabapentin. My small amount of research suggested it was somehow shutting down the regret & anxiety that tortured me before sleep.

But I waited a while. I had a doctor's appointment in January, around the time of my birthday, & I mentioned this to my doctor. It had been a year since the dental situation. She was not happy with the idea of a sleep issue solved with medication, but she agreed to give me a prescription to try it out.

As I mentioned yesterday, I am extremely busy - often working on a radio show - so I waited until there was a time when I might enjoy a good night's sleep. & I took a gabapentin before I went to bed.

& wow it went badly. I couldn't fall asleep & my thoughts took on a lurid, almost antagonistic quality. When I did fall asleep, my dreams were some kind of distorted lucid dreams. It was a most unpleasant experience.

The post-mortem by my wife suggested I take the pill a couple hours before sleep. I am a little nervous about trying it again. But I might.

Or instead maybe I should reduce the obligations in my life that make me so tired?

Monday, March 04, 2024


(Don't know where the shirt is from, but you can buy it here.)

After I left Austin in 2009, I wasn't sure I would be able to do radio again. I was already doing Self Help Radio as a "podcast" although I didn't really call it that & didn't make it available where podcasts can be found. It's always been an obscure thing this show.

From West Virginia to Lexington to Fort Worth, I did find places to deejay, but there were times when I wasn't able to do Self Help Radio for some reason or another. & when I'd land in another place, there was always a break - sometimes it was months! - when I wasn't on the radio at all.

Arriving in Portland & finding out there were three stations at which I could deejay - I was like a kid in a candy store. & around this time last year I committed to doing three different shows on three different stations.

& I volunteer a lot at these stations & often people ask me if I am in danger of "burning out." They rightly worry that I am overcommitted. But here's the truth: I'm having the time of my life. I am having fun making radio shows & the work I am doing for the stations I really enjoy. But lately - well, let me tell you a story.

Last week I was searching around for a theme for an upcoming show - this would be the show a month away - I was putting it on the web page, which is when it becomes real to me. & the theme that came to mind was "tired." I realized that I've been a little tired.

Over the weekend I wondered what I should do. Maybe I'll talk later about my sleep difficulties. But certainly the fact that if I am not walking dogs, making food, eating food, or doing those & other things with my wife, I am working on a radio show or doing a radio show. I have to face the fact that if I ever had youthful energy, I don't have that these days.

Which is a longwinded way of saying I am thinking of downsizing. But how? What show? I don't know. I imagine I'll still be involved in all the stations, it's just that I might not be doing radio shows on all the stations in the near future.

The kid in the candy store gets rotten teeth & diabetes. How could the little brat not?