Friday, January 28, 2011

"Wow, this town is horrible. I wish I could find some way of escaping."

I just discovered this essential piece of rock history in the form of an elaborate, high-end puppet show:

A Brief History of XTC


I would critique it, but, really, if anything were ever beyond comment...

And, to cleanse your palate, here's the hit single from that album:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Blink Once if God, Twice if No God

I feel a strong and earnest (oh so earnest!) desire to knock the previous post off the top spot. This blog deserves better, as do you. With that in mind, dear reader, I will confess that it has taken several months for me to find my way into Joanna Newsom's most recent album, Have One on Me. Or was it the other way around? Yes, perhaps the music took its sweet time to find its way into me. Now that these songs have entered my bloodstream, I'm not sure what the hold up was all about. I posted my favorite song a few weeks ago, and here's another:



And here is Newsom performing "On a Good Day" and being a good sport on Letterman:



I also want to sound a note of sympathy for the long-suffering Newsom, as she apparently lives from day to day with a psychological affliction of the worst kind:
Deeply unfortunately, the song Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile, from Annie, has been lodged in my head for 20 years. It’s there permanently. No matter what’s happening it is softly playing in the back of my mind and one fifteenth of my mind is singing along. It is a nightmare.
 May she find peace in this lifetime. Oh, and may she never find this blog post to remind her of that song.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Elgar Cello Concerto vs. The Energies of Dullness


Here's Elgar's haunting cello concerto, performed by Jaqueline Du Pre and conducted by Daniel Barenboim, interspersed with selected, obnoxious right-wing TV commercials. I must grant that the deck is stacked and the referee is biased. And I have no doubt this battle to the death amounts to some sort of sacrilege, but I can live with that.

















Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday Miscellany: Blogging, Writing, Songs, and Stories

Three weeks ago I had the grand idea that I'd start blogging again. But then I started a facebook group devoted to the exchange of good, new, and old "alternative" music (we don't really use that term), and that group simply took over my online life. It has been rewarding beyond anything I expected when I opened the group and invited a dozen or so friends on New Year's Day. I've discovered great new music, shared some great old music, and come to know some very good bands I had overlooked in the eighties and nineties. If you like the songs I've posted on the blog and you're serious about music, by all means, join us. You should be able to search for the group name: "P.I.G.S.T.Y.2011" (that's the Project for InterGenerational Swapping of Tunes in the Year 2011) and request to join. If you can't find the PIGSTY on facebook, email me. We'll work something out.

And, by the way, the PIGSTY has inspired me to pick up my guitar and rediscover that I'm bored by my rudimentary guitar-playing. I can write lyrics. I can sing. I'm interested in seeking a songwriting collaborator with the hope of recording music together. I'm not all that interested in performing out (though performance comes easily to me) but I'd love to put some songs on record.

-----

Anyway, I've probably neglected to post links here to the stories I published in 2010. This indicates poor self-promotion, perhaps. There weren't many stories, and all were very short, but here you go (listed in the order I like them best, because I'm kind of a jerk):

1. "Mallard" at Wigleaf

2. "From the Canyon to the Driveway" in Night Train

3. "The Spoils" in The Collagist

4. "Trinkets" in Corium

I feel good about each one, and it seems silly now to see "Trinkets" in last place. But I won't delete the list to avoid looking dorky. On the contrary, I know who and what I am.

Oh, and there were two more things worth mentioning: this "postcard" in Wigleaf (the journal has a tradition of publishing little notes from its stories authors, and often the notes are just as good as the stories) and this FlashFiction.net reprint and analysis of "Onion Ring" (originally published in Snow Monkey a few years ago). That's four flash fiction publications proper, plus two other items, bringing the 2010 grand total to six--which is six more than 2007, 2008, and 2009 combined. This writer's back in business.

-----

And, speaking of facebook, I'm thrilled to have made arrangements to block my access to that site from work. Though the I.T. department here said they couldn't do it, I asked my wife to change my facebook password. It's saved on my home computer, but not here at the office. So far this has felt liberating. I don't have an addictive personality, but I'm easily distracted. Facebook has been a drain on my fiction writing, I will admit, for the better part of two and a half years. And I do 95% of my writing here at the office.

And I'll go even further with this confession: sometimes I fear I'm a better facebooker than writer.

In any case, maybe the lack of access to facebook will lead to a wee bit more blogging. I'd feel good about that.

-----

Here, have a song--one of the great hidden gems of rock history: "The Dolphins & The Sharks" by Crime & the City Solution (sorry, "embedding disabled by request").

("That's what she said.")